Every now and then there is an afternoon that I spend reading the NY Times online. I usually start with the list of most popular articles – the top emailed list or the most popular blog list. Either way, I usually end up reading something about the newest thing to cause cancer (which is vitamins by the way, and I am not quite sure I am ready to give up my Flintstone’s chewables) or a recent movie or in many cases politics.

In recent browsing I learned that the states of Ohio and Kentucky have bestowed fame onto A rock. This particular stone made its home, once, in the middle of a river bed which served as a natural state line between the two states. Resurrected in the summer of 2007, the rock has been catapulted into the news, thrown into a riveting custody battle and subjected to a wide-variety of physiological and psychological examination.

When I was in third grade, we had an “economy” project that lasted several weeks, where each student started a business, sold a product, spent money on the things he/she liked and “learned to save”. I sold rocks. Blue Rocks (as they were the mascot of the AAA baseball team in Wilmington, DE). I painted the rocks blue, gave them little eyes… and they sold. I gave my rocks identity. They wore it proudly and before long, each classmate had a little Blue Rock of their own. I am sure that lucky stones, pond-skipping rocks and like felt threatened, but each had their fare share of dresser, drawer and pocket space.

It’s sometimes hard to remember, in the complex midst of something like a political race, how ordinary everyday things can foster success, pride, debate or emotion in people. And like the caption says in this article, “It loves to be the center of controversy”.

I’d like to share my favorite passages from the article below:

I’ve been distracted by war, recession and a presidential campaign, so forgive me. But are we fighting over a rock?

In the late 1960s, though, an Ohio Valley schoolboy read of the Indian Head Rock in a musty book of local history, and he never forgot it. That was Steve Shaffer. He grew up, studied historical interpretation at Ohio University, developed an interest in prehistoric rock carvings, and quietly resolved to find the rock.

He and some divers began the hunt in 2000, using clues in old newspaper accounts about the rock’s location. He remained in the boat, though; he had lost 70 percent of his hearing to Meniere’s disease, and diving could cause further damage. But when the expeditions of 2000 and 2001 found only abandoned cars and dumped refrigerators, Mr. Shaffer earned his diver’s certification and joined the search — at great risk to his hearing.

The risk paid off. In September 2002, a diving buddy rose to the surface to exclaim: That’s it!It’s got initials all over it! Mr. Shaffer immediately went down to see for himself. There, amid the river’s murk: the Indian Head Rock.

Nearly every summer after that, Mr. Shaffer dove down to pay his respects to the rock. “Just to check on it,” he said.

Then, late last summer, and almost on a whim, he and some diving friends resurrected the boulder with a harness and some barrels and air bags. They soon reported to Portsmouth’s mayor, James Kalb, that they had something to show him — and it’s bigger than a breadbox. The stunned and grateful mayor thanked them, saying a piece of Portsmouth’s past had been salvaged.

Some said the rock should not have been disturbed because that Charlie Brown-like face was an American Indian petroglyph. In November a delegation from Kentucky — with Dr. Fred E. Coy Jr., a prehistoric carvings expert, in tow — visited the Portsmouth municipal garage and waited anxiously while the doctor conducted his examination. His expert opinion: “I can’t tell.”

No matter. Jagged verbal stones continue to be tossed from either side of the river.