I read a while back that the Horseshoe Sports Bar & Grill in Collinsville was going to reopen under new management. Do you know if this has changed? -- Pamela B. Martin
After three years of being put out to pasture, the once-popular Horseshoe is still on track to open with a whole new look, according to John Eichenlaub of the BarberMurphy Group in Shiloh.
The trouble is that the place was "an absolute mess," so the new owners are now off to the races to completely remodel it, he said. When Eichenlaub visited last month, the old ceiling and floor were gone along with the dry wall and the brick grill and hood where people once grilled their own steaks.
Plans even were to knock down the wall near the kitchen so that could be redone as well. Eichenlaub doesn't know when they might sound the starting call, but it's obviously going to be a bit of a trot to the finish yet.
Can you tell me what the summer and winter solstices are? I've never understood their significance. Also, am I right in saying that days shorten by a minute after the summer solstice and just the opposite after the winter solstice? --D.G., of Belleville
If the Earth's axis -- the imaginary line that runs through the poles -- were straight up and down in relation to the sun, we would have a most boring year as we revolved around Ol' Sol.
Days would always be the same length. The sun would rise to the same point in the sky every day. Seasons would never change.
But as you've probably noticed, that's not the way it is. Because the Earth's axis is tilted, we in the metro-east have varying amounts of daylight as the sun climbs a bit higher in the sky for six month before it starts to sink a bit each day for the rest of the year. Then, the cycle starts over again.
Our summer solstice -- the day when summer starts -- occurs at the moment when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. In other words, it's the instant when that imaginary line going through the North Pole is tilted a little more than 23 degrees toward the sun. This year, that will happen at 5:51:03 a.m. June 21.
After that, days will start to grow shorter as the sun rises ever lower in the sky until 5:02:28 p.m. Dec. 21 when the North Pole axis is pointed 23 degrees away from the sun. Of course at that time, the South Pole will be at its maximum tilt toward the sun so those in the Southern Hemisphere will enjoy the start of summer. And, if you lived on the equator -- say, Quito, Ecuador -- your days would always be about 12 hours long.
The word "solstice" comes from the Latin "solstitium" -- literally meaning "sun stops." In other words, it won't go any higher or lower. By contrast, the vernal and autumnal equinoxes (spring and fall) occur when day and night are approximately the same length.
As for your question about the length of days, that can be a good estimation -- but don't set your alarm clock by it. Around the solstices, sunset times barely move. This year, for example, the sunset time remains at 8:30 from June 25 to July 1 while sunrise comes three minutes later. Around the equinoxes, sunsets can change by two minutes per day.
For years, there's a guy who appears in a commercial on various TV channels. It's a religious message; however, there's no suggestion of a denomination or specific church. He's a soft-spoken, casually dressed man in his mid-40s with a goatee. Basically the message is "Jesus is real and he loves you." Are you familiar with this? I'm puzzled! -- G.K., of Glen Carbon
Don't be confused: The man who tries to win converts through his soothing manner rather than fire and brimstone is none other than Jeff C. Perry, the founding pastor of St. Louis Family Church in Chesterfield, Mo.
He says he dreamed about starting a church in 1977 while living in the Chesterfield area. Then in June 1988 after graduating from Bible school and serving as a missionary, he and wife Patsy held Family Church's first service with 128 people.
The church grew dramatically, moving from place to place as it met first on Friday nights before adding Sunday morning services. Then, in the spring of 1993, Perry moved his flock into its own church -- only to see it flooded that summer. But a year later, the church was ready again to add hundreds of new congregants -- including St. Louis Rams Super Bowl champion quarterback Kurt Warner, whose birthday video you can find at www.pastorjeffcperry.com.
Just to make sure that Perry is the man you're asking about, check out the church at www.slfc.org.
Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry was thought to be the first millionaire black actor. What stage name did he use?
Answer to Sunday's trivia: Most people probably have never heard of it, but in the United States most of the rare earth element scandium is used to strengthen aluminum-alloy baseball bats and other sports equipment, according to the Minerals Yearbook published by the U.S. Geological Survey. No. 21 on the periodic table, scandium is used also in semiconductors and specialty lighting.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-239-2465.