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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

UFOs in Trumbull County?

“I was watching a television show about UFOs and it said that one been sighted in Trumbull County. Can you find me some information about it?” This question may not be any more alien than ones about the other type of flying objects, such as witches, pumpkins, ghosts, turkeys, sleighs and reindeer, that the Newton Falls Public Library staff answer in late autumn and early winter.

We could not find information in books such as The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters: a definitive, illustrated A-Z guide to all things alien or any of the library’s other Unidentified Flying Object books. Ohio UFOs & Extraterrestrials: a look at the sightings & science in our state by Carole Marsh can be borrowed through our TiPL [Trumbull Independent Public Library Consortium] online catalog. The Newton Falls Public Library staff will be happy to assist you in placing a hold on this or other UFO materials at our library, or the public libraries of Bristol, Girard, Hubbard, Kinsman and McKinley (Niles).

The show our patron had watched was the History Channel’s UFO Hunters’ [] program UFO Emergency. On December 14, 1994 Trumbull County police departments started getting 911 calls of strange lights in the sky. This incident is mentioned on many websites. UFO Research: Cincinnati! [] reports: “The incident actually began before 12:01 a.m. in the early morning hours of Wednesday, December 14, 1994. Before midnight, the Trumbull County 9-1-1 center had already logged several UFO reports from residents near the Sampson Road vicinity. Curiously, UFOs were reported in the area the previous evening, as well as two weeks prior. Where, exactly, did this occur? In an area within Liberty Township, about 4-miles north of Youngstown, surrounded by Weathersfield Township to the west, Vienna Township to the north and Hubbard Township to the east.”

According to Internet sites there have been numerous incidents of UFO sightings in our county. The first we found was [] which reported that on April 17, 1966 a low flying object was seen traveling from Portage County on through Trumbull County to Pennsylvania. This site also included the Trumbull sightings of December 14, 1994 in Liberty Township, July 22, 2000 on Rt. 11 between East Liverpool and Ashtabula, and September 9, 2000 when one traveled from Ravenna to Girard. UFO Hunter Bill Birnes also refers to these 2000 sightings on his UFO Hunters’ blog, Bill’s Blog. []

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is It Harebrained or Hairbrained?

“I know this may sound odd. I was telling someone about something that was harebrained; then I wondered where that expression came from and if it is spelled harebrained or hairbrained?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff enjoys answering questions and finds ones about words and language to be intriguing.

According to A Dictionary of American Idioms by Adam Makkai, M.T. Boatner, and J.E. Gates, this thoughtless and foolish meaning word is spelled harebrained. Garner's Modern American Usage by Bryan A. Garner refers those looking under hairbrained to see harebrained; “hairbrained is the common blunder. The misspelling falls just short of being what it attempts to denote” [p. 398].

While we know the spelling, that still doesn’t explain where the expression came from. It seemed logical to try A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles, but it only had three hare words – hare, hare fly and hare-lip sucker (a species of sucker). The thirteen volumes of The Oxford English Dictionary was the resource we should have checked first. There it states that harebrayne was used in a book written in 1550 and denoted someone who had “a brain like a hare’s, or no more brain than a hare; a giddy or reckless person” [v. 5, p. 91]. Around the turn of the 16th century the spelling seems to have changed to harebrain. The website World Wide Words [] also discusses the question of the use ‘hare’ vs. ‘hair’ over the centuries. The author, Michael Quinion ultimately recommends going with harebrained.

Out of curiosity, the staff used a search engine to see how harebrain(ed) appears online. In Minnesota there is a company named Harebrain Inc. which developed an acoustical voice-feedback headset called WhisperPhone. On there is a music group from Oregon,
Ky & HareBrain Media. Master Shortrod Harebrain, a jealous husband, is a character in A Mad World, My Masters, a Jacobean stage play written by Thomas Middleton. This “comedy first performed around 1605 and first published in 1608. (The title is proverbial, and was used by a pamphleteer, Nicholas Breton, in 1603)” []. You can contact Dave Carter, Founder of Harebrained Schemes, LLC. at Harebrained Films, Holidays, and Shop at Etsy can be found on the Internet as well as harebrained tax schemes at

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How Long and How Far Can Horses Run?

“I was watching a western and in it the horses seemed able to run a long time. How far or how long can horses actually run in a day?” The first place the Newton Falls Public Library staff checked was in the library’s collection of horse books. Both Horses for Dummies by Audrey Pavia and The Complete Horse Book had sections about endurance racing. In this type of competition, the horse and rider attempt to cover a set number of miles in the shortest time. Most consist of 50 – 100 mile per day rides, or multi-day rides covering 50 miles a day over four to six days. A special endurance saddle is used as the rider has to spend long periods of time sitting on it. According to The Encyclopedia of the Horse by Elwyn Hartley Edwards [p.356], in 1919 “the United States Cavalry conducted endurance tests to assess the quality of . . . horses as remounts.” They had to cover 300 miles in 5 days, while carrying 200-245 pounds.

Searching online for farthest running horse brings up a website [] which includes an article written by Anthony Amaral in Western Horseman Magazine [1969],“Frank Hopkins. . . Best of Endurance Riders?” Frank Hopkins rode in approximately 400 endurance races including in 1890 a 3,000 mile one in Arabia on the western mustang, Hidalgo, against Arabian desert horses. In the “Brains Plus Endurance" by Charles B. Roth [The Horse–Official Journal of the U.S. Remount Service 1935], Hopkins is quoted saying he once rode a horse 124 miles in 20 hours. Today there are very strict rules and training guidelines for those wishing to participate in endurance riding. Depending on the event, qualifying rides may be required, as well as mandatory stops for veterinary checks of the animals. More information can be learned about the classic races in The Complete Horse Book and the Equiworld website [].

One of the most memorable uses of endurance running by men was the Pony Express. From April 1860 to October 1861, the riders carried mail from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. In Stagecoaches and the Pony Express by Sally Senzell Isaacs, the horses usually only ran 10 miles at a time, while riders rode about 75 miles before passing on the saddlebag.