Sunday, May 28, 2006

Wuud'chjoo Say?

South St. Louis plus Central West End high school (Catholic) plus reading and a spot of travel equals:

Your Linguistic Profile::
75% General American English
10% Yankee
5% Dixie
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern


Apparently, I am not Midwestern.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Start your holiday happy

Read the valedictory address by Central High School's Leodis McCray, posted by a realio-trulio mentor Joe Miller, someone who doesn't just sit around and do nothing.

Brewing

I saw this fax that a "last-minute" candidate had been "added to the mix" of four finalists who want to see what they can do with the "I-wouldn't-send-my-kid-there" Kansas City, Mo. public school system, and I thought surely Tony's Kanas City would be all over this Anthony Amato fellow, who grew up under just a single mother in the Bronx in the 50s.

I'm pretty sure he's working on it, though, because he's always saying how the KCMSD needs Latino leadership and all.

And I'm not sparkly enough to make fun of how in 2003 Amato and his wife adopted three cute kids because they like kids, just when the New Orleans school system under his control was about to blame him for the political and financial mess that district was in.

At least he got out before Katrina, eh?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Why


you can't walk from downtown KCK to downtown KCMO.

Fumes

Our landlord said, via his typical hand-written photocopied note slipped under everyone's doors, that his insurance company was making him paint the back porches, these somewhat slanted three-story regulation alternate exit stairs and landings, dusty and unused for the most part.

I was slightly glad, as they are greyed and still had bits of peely paint left from a previous owner's mistake of going over treated lumber.

He asked everyone to move their things off the porches, that he was going to be water-blasting, "which blows paint chips all over the place," he wrote. You could hear the irritation in his voice with having to inconvenience himself and all of us.

Then, the spraying it all with paint.

"The whole process should take about a week."

Let's all enjoy a collective laugh.

***********

Of course, that was several weeks ago, when the weather was chilly and damp at times. The paint removal took a week or so, and then there was the day when he was outside the windows mumbling curses under his breath, because anyone who's tried to use a paint sprayer knows how temperamental they can be.

That was primer, and that was weeks ago: the dampness, the rain, the fact that he never came over it seemed earlier than 3 p.m. . . . .

He's retired, I think, and a nice baby boomer who lived in Prairie Village, moved to Karnes Boulevard, then back to Johnson County, "because, you know, we have to think of retirement." No, I don't know, but I'm not going to ask.

I'll assume it has something to do with Kansas City's stupid taxes.

Generally, he's a good landlord, coming over on Sunday once when the front door lock on our apartment just kind of fell apart for no reason. We could have cared less how long it was busted. A night, anyway, was not going to put us in much danger of the school teacher, two nuns, single woman and happy-go-lucky 50-something odd-couple who barbecue a lot and have rowdy people over on their first floor porch. We might have feared for the snobby Chicagoland imports who have a lorikeet and seem cool but who are actually big jerks. They literally ignore people, never saying "hi" nor waiting to hold the outside door three seconds for a neighbor two steps behind.

No one likes them.

Our landlord is a decent sort of fellow, a man who fought in Vietnam but up until recently voted Republican. He is clean-cut, only turns off his emergency property management cell phone during church, and drives an older Ford SUV, the stubby kind that predated the glamorous aspect and Sport Unnecessary Vehicle explosion; I suspect he bought it for his work on the 18 units of apartments he owns in the Midtown area. For all I know he might have another car. I think he was trying for a boat, actually, as he and his wife journey to Florida for the winter. They didn't go last year, but I can't remember why.

Because of him, we have all-new windows, which replaced the wood and pulley crusty painted ones. That was inconvenient, sure, but it went quickly enough.

The defunct chimneys collect water sometimes, and since we live right under the roof layer, once when it had been raining for days, there was a bunch of seeping, dripping water on a couch and sogging up a whole 12x4' section of plaster wall, required much drying time and still showing some evidence of problems, though not on the new plaster section, on the ceiling on the other side of the interior wall.

So yesterday, I see Sister on my way out; she's wearing her usual anti-SARS-style facemask. She suffers from the typical bad fashion of a Catholic nun and very bad allergies. She was moving her car because the landlord had hired (finally) someone to come and spray the porches, and she didn't want to get any more white dots on her it (which is as old as mine, only a Honda and not a Toyota).

Oh.

I go drive to work and call the house to see if my husband, who's still at home, can close one of our windows that's two feet from the other building's porch, the one the landlord hadn't yet touched.

I had noticed him carrying big boards or something, but you never know what can happen when someone's painting. I freaked out and had to quit a job once because of a paint-related trauma.

When I got home, there's the now-ubiquitous odor of oil-based exterior primer, and the western two rooms, bedroom included, are darkened and hot as hell.

Dammit. There's cardboard over our windows. Still.

It was hot and horrible, and the sun didn't get to wake us up properly.

I was up until 3:30 a.m. as it was, up and down from midnight until then, restless, feeling my brain melt from the fumes, feeling my body melt from the lack of air flow.

There is no purpose to opening a window flanked with cardboard.

When I left today, they were going for Round 2. It's latex time, and I guess he figures most people have already turned on their air-conditioners anyhow.

In fact, I could hardly hear any usual household noise for the din from our one box fan, the two ceiling fans and the utter ├╝ber-hum of all the units outside in the city nearby.

You know, if we all just waited just a little bit longer, we might be able to tolerate it. But, when everyone starts spewing extra heat back out into the shining 90-degree day, the rest of us are dragged downstream with them. It's like watching the poor suckers waiting for buses downtown while traffic-jammed commuters lined up for the bridges cook the air around them and make being outdoors vile.

I'm having a hard time being anywhere right now.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Choking


I think I had a dream about this, or maybe I was sleeping in front of a "turned on" television. Anyway, the fossil fuel burners are being shamelessly shameless with their new ad campaign.

Now through Sunday, look forward to two 60-second spots from the Competative Enterprise Institute as they focus on the alleged global warming crisis and the calls by some environmental groups and politicians for reduced energy use.

Is Kansas City one of the 14 lucky cities to see these? No, but you can watch them on your computer and laugh, I hope, like I did, at the counter-alarmist red herring tossed out calmly by the female narrator:

The fuels that produce CO2 have freed us from a world of back-breaking labor, lighting up our lives, allowing us to create and move the things we need, the people we love. Now some politicians want to label carbon dioxide a pollutant. Imagine if they succeed - what would our lives be like then?

Hmm, let's see. Maybe the United States wouldn't be consuming everything under the freaking sun. Maybe I could take a train to work or use a car that didn't run on sludge or live in a house that didn't require natural gas to heat it.

(Meaning that the alternative energy sources that do not release the earth's pent-up carbon dioxide are viable but have been avoided out of habit, profit-habit and the fact that "modern man" has been telling itself that all technology is good, no matter its side effects.)

Speaking of side effects and how I'm apparently "freed from back-breaking labor," this show on NOVA made me even sadder. Long story short, the fact of having crap in the air might be a "good" thing, especially if you are the president or member of the CEI and like to have your global warming data mitigated:

Scientists have uncovered a new factor that may be masking the full impact of global warming. Called global dimming, it's powerful enough to alter temperatures in a matter of days. It may have contributed to the world's deadliest drought, and it could mean that the Earth's climate is about to start heating up as fast as the most dire predictions.

The researcher found that when all the planes were grounded after September 11, 2001 for three days, the temperature range changed significantly in the United States (significantly, if you are a glacier). Days were hotter, nights cooler, and he had the 30 years of data to show it was a big deal.

Vapor from planes is one thing that clouds the air, blocks the sun, etc. Along with other air pollution, it masks the effects of global warming, which is caused by CO2.

We seem to have blindly created yet another delicately balanced mess. Too much CO2? Add other stuff to the air to block out the burning sun? Can't breathe with all the ozone and particulates? Go back inside and plug in your HEPA filter.

Someone


is doing something at the impossibly huge house at 26th and Tracy.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Iron surprise


Bok choi
has flowers.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Little Miss

Muffet. That's right, muffet. Has a particular ring to it, right? Something a bit along the Canterbury Tales line, rather "quaint," I'd say.

Anyway, you know she was the one who was afraid of the spider.

I run into them all the time and don't run away. Sure, it's disturbing to have to put your camera (and therefore nose) up within arachnid-leaping-range just to get a shot for blog-posterity. And nothing turns you off bathing quicker than a run-in with a hydrophyllic brown recluse. No time for portraits, just squish. I'm sorry I destroy life forms that are poisonous to me and disasterous for my debt. Yes, sure, health insurance, yes, right, but you know it's less than half the story/cost of care.

Today the spinner gave away $250 or so -

Just sign, don't look; this is the year of "don't use credit," but it's going as well as the "try to not be immobile so much" one. Travel-ban, I must say, is coming out like the Derby's Barbaro. I only went one place, so far, and it was practically dictated by two women, one family biological, one family chosen.

- to a car-fix place to help stave off the blood-letting from my 15-year-old Camry.

"Yeah, those Toyotas really last forever."

Sure they do, but it's not like it's an accident. You just keep dumping dollars in. Apparently, it doesn't matter much how old a car is, as mechanic guy who showed me how to tap on the starter while someone else holds the key going to diagnose if it's truly the culprit of my random strandings said, "If you get a new one, get the best warranty you can."

Wow, so much to look forward to. Newer cars cost more to fix. Bleh. Screw that. I forsee more buses in my future.

But not today, although it's the MARC collective's "Bike to Work [and look freaky when you get there] Day."

What prevents other people at bus stops from taking my bike off the front rack while I'm still inside? You know, not all people at bus stops are actually waiting for a bus. At least that's what bus drivers think. Remember, wave to the surly bus driver, or he won't stop for you. For all he knows, you're just standing on the corner under the sign looking for bikes to steal.

My other bus driver was adequate, but I detected no friendliness.

The one thing I can say in M.McG.'s favor, was that when he drove a city bus, he greeted the people using it. This, even though he turned out, by numerous civil and other lawsuits' filings to be "one of those" priests the Diocese felt comfortable with handling internally and stupidly. Yes, he may have been a wreck, but his brain was fairly good. He spent hours of time researching the transit system's customer service levels, found them deplorable and had logical solutions. Of course, management was happy with things as-is, with being constantly in the red, having inefficient protocols and failed safety ones, and life went on to affirm that indeed, public transportation in the Midwest is crappy. Cincinnati is another case, I am told. There are no east-west lines, it seems. Or a very few, so that you have to travel an hour north or south to get to a point within downtown 10 minutes away.

But at most businesses, even the post office, don't they acknowledge your presence as a customer? My driver did, to her credit, point to the change hole, when I took a half-second to take in all the logos and icons and slots. Being under the gaze of a dozen or so seasoned bus-takers didn't help. Performance anxiety! Plus, the 20+ blocks of sunny walking. Uphill.

Anyway, I'm driving to work today.

It's Malcolm X's (1925) and Lorraine Hansberry's (1930) birthday today. Both of them died rather young, 39, 34, in 1965. Had some other stuff in common, too. Fighting the good fight. Losing to things rather outside their control, assassins, cancer.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

An inch-worth


of carninvorous life found at a charter school crawling on the papered window.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

If you think

. . .that you're too hot. . .

consider this from Vietnamese God who is in the midst of equatorial summer but still as wonderfully-focused as always on things one can hardly find to eat here (except this "Western" pho).

And then there's this scene, which speaks for itself in its dusky, bug-light-lit hues of "give me ice cream," the same tune we Midwesterners will be bleating in about a month.

I hope he never quits.

ATA Adventure


Sigh. Ok, so I'm the only person at the bus stop, and yeah, I'm talking on a cell phone, so was that it? I make eye contact with my #30 bus driver, whose bus is on time, and who notes me as standing on the sidewalk, looking up in anticipation, but the stupid man doesn't slow down. . . and . . .yeah, he just passes me up. . . .

Ummmm. . . .

So, am I supposed to be standing in the weeds and trash of the easement in order to indicate my "want to take bus" status? this is a bus stop, right? Am I supposed to flag down the Metro, as if it were a New York cab?

Was this driver hoping I was really waiting for the other line that stops at St. John and Lawndale? Color me naive.

I hate to say, "Paxil told you so," but it turns out that all my pre-bus-taking anxiety was not for naught.

I wasn't afraid of encounters with humans, but with being late. I gave myself 50 minutes to make a seven-minute car trip. Or a 70-minute walk.

Twenty-eight minutes and about 21 blocks later (all uphill), I connect with the very next 30 bus, which I "greet" emphatically by stepping into the weeds and mud at Benton, even raising my hand a little, just to be sure.

So, eight minutes before I'm supposed to be where I'm supposed to be (about 12 more blocks), I'm finally on the $1.25 bus, paying to rest for about six blocks. Of course, there's that detour I spoke of, and then I'm back off track, ringing the "get me off" chime. I didn't want to get even further off track, you know. . . .

Since I'm kind-of dumb about what order all the streets are, even though I have been trying to pay attention for six years, it turns out I disembarked too early, but it could have been too late, since, with the detour, I'm five blocks off target anyway. I guess. Maybe. I didn't pick up a printed schedule on the bus. Too embarassed about not knowing where the money hole was. Dropping a penny and sweating all over the place, etc.

Where am I


. . .besides too busy to do anything worthwhile at this (blog) locale. The locale above is on Prospect at 35th Street. It is inaccessible to me today, being car-free and noticing that the Metro bus people do not tend to make updates to the route maps they post. Woe to the urban tourist (an urban myth?) who tries to brave Northeast on the 30. That Lexington bridge section has been closed for months. Nevertheless, I will get on the bus and see where I end up, hopefully somewhere near Independence and Garfield.

The 27th Street Bridge is also non-existent in this near-home, get-to-the-east-side "map" of the Metro's 27 route.

This illustrates how much care and consideration goes into the planning process for public transportation.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

31st meets Linwood


. . . where you can have your tires fixed on the go, pay homage to a homicide victim or go traipsing up a steep, grassy urban hill.

Benton meets So. Benton


. . .where Century 21 wants to try to sell you a lovely corner apartment complex, autographed by some of the local east-side graffiti "writers."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

E-scrap

"The National Safety Council projects that nearly 250 million computers will become obsolete in the next five years," and I have at least two of them.

However, I still enjoy using my IBM 486 PS Notebook with lighting-loading Windows 3.1. . . yes, there isn't much to wait for to "happen," unlike with today's brainier computers that have to sort through six hard-drives in order to process unto opening and get you to the actual interactive screen.

Sure, I've had to tell it over and over again that it's indeed the 1980s once more. It's made a mess of file sorting, surely, but I'm not risking the 1999/1900 flip. That laptop got me to Japan and back, and it was obsolete for doing Internet then back then (nine years ago), but I still enjoy the fact that I can keep writing and writing and writing and it keeps saving and saving and saving.

The NSC's notice that while computers are junk-bound faster, the two televisions at our place are also losers, as "broadcasting switches from analog to digital in the coming decade." Yeah, we already had to buy this ninety-cord switching box to make the $30 DVD player "work" with the dino-tube. It's highly discouraging. The TV still works well enough for me, and knowing that monitors and "older TVs" picture tubes have an average of four to eight pounds of lead inside makes me as ill as a Pacific Ocean tuna fish to think about it. . . .

Add to that all the other fun heavy metals found in our favorite toys - chromium, cadmium, mercury, beryllium, nickel, zinc, and brominated flame-retardants - and there's enough death-potion in your home (not counting the things you may happen to "clean" with) to kill even all the dustmites living there or at least transform them into mutant X-Mites or something.

So, guess what? It's pretty much amoral to dump this sort of thing into MaEarth, in my opinion. The "solution" is to donate still-usable things to someone else, such as through Kansas City's Surplus Exchange, or to at least put them someplace where the chemical components will be recycled out or buried someplace "proper."

For now, our state is in study mode:

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources organized this workgroup to put in place a framework for disposing, reusing and recycling E-scrap in Missouri in an economically sustainable fashion without threatening the environment. We would like the workgroup to complete the following goals by December 2006:

Develop common sense strategies that define best management practices for collecting, processing, and transporting E-scrap;

Outline what is needed to implement those strategies, such as incentives, guidelines, or needed legislation and

Encourage sustainable economic development in the E-scrap industry within the state.


And I'm hoarding every dang electronic thing I ever owned, apparently.

More info. . .

Why I'm Gen-X


Sigh.

Remember when I was preaching about writing letters to the Forest Service in opposition to the land-sale-for-rural-schools thing?

Got this yesterday from them:

Your document was received by the SRS Land Sales mailbox.
This is an automated message, please do not reply. The comment period
closed May 1st and new comments are no longer being accepted.


Nice and vague.

Soooooo, did they accept my comment or not? I sent it before the end of March, when the "deadline" was supposedly April first.

They must be using a computer powered by one of those potatoes you see in science fairs. I understand being understaffed, but this is ridiculous.

Off to chop something down.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Fishing time


When the dogwood is in bloom. . .

Best mailing list ever


Even though to date I still have not bought any fun jewelry from Laura Beamer, she faithfully keeps me on her mailing list to let me know anytime she is in Kansas City from Oregon and the invitations, such as the one to the now-over Brookside Art Fair, always include a packet of kick-ass Bottle Caps candy.

Thanks, Laura.

I think I'm going to start ordering them by the case, too.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Insignificant

It may be a sure-fire way to avoid enlightenment, but I find I'm feeling loss over the fact that my favorite necklace, a kind of collier du jour, toujours, is, well, lost.

It was already gone before the show of the same name came on last night at 8. It's been out of sight since Tuesday, but I only noticed today.

Of course I've looked everywhere, trying to guess what possible physics could have landed the silver-strung slip of tiny freshwater pearls into a sock drawer, for example, falling from the always-place where it I put it.

Lately, the many-years-old necklace has been added to, a jade turtle, a gift from mon mari, and so there, dang-it, there's even more emotional significance rubbed onto the metal, stone and nacre, all stolen from the earth, I'll be the first to admit.

It's so hard to be unmaterialistic.

I met a woman on the plane Sunday night, coming home from Ohio, where I had been immersed in a girl thing/writing thing since Friday night, and she herself was returning to her River Market loft from a mountain adventure of some kind near Atlanta.

She is a very grounded-seeming successful multi-business owner, something in technology, and she had recently downsized from a five-acre estate, large house, things.

"I sold everything," she said. With emphasis and a wipe-out hand gesture, she repeated it and conveyed that lightness we all hope for, a form of happiness. She wasn't righteous or boasting, happened to be a vegetarian, said stopping animal products stopped her arthritis and other pains, and admitted to keeping one item "of the past." Her grandmother's table.

She mentioned that "the kids were grown," and so what else do you do?

She was spending off accumulated American Express points, hence the mountain get-away. A month or so ago, she was in New Mexico playing at one of those indoor skydiving places.

I would have a hard time determining which of my grandmother's things to keep. I have quite a number of boxes, when it's all said and done, of antique dishes and glassware, some of which we actually use. The 78s I never listen to, the Underwood that weighs 15 pounds, the toddler-sized bisque-faced doll that thankfully for now my mother is stewarding and using as decoration, are these things holding me back?

Jewelry is small and easy to pack. To be sure, jewelry's size makes it prone to disappearing. The silver filligree necklace I adopted from my mom's 60s reject pile, the silver hoop garnet earring, my turtle-and-pearl necklace, all gone.

Once I lost a ring in a pile of leaves, out in a backyard that was literally a half-acre. Determined, I did end up finding it.

I have checked all the "leaf piles," though, and have turned up zilch. I hate thinking I must not have been paying attention at some point in the recent past.

I know I had it on when I was on the plane coming home. After that, I don't recall.

Relying on your memory or sense of attention is dangerous. We do it all the time. I do it at work, and without a reliable copyeditor, my lapses are doomed to show up in print. But if you can't trust yourself, who can you rely on?

We're so imperfect, especially in terms of what we recall or think we can recall.

It's gross watching your brain lose track of itself, moment upon moment, year after year.

Stay sharp, they advise, hinting that crossword puzzles can help do the trick. The thing is, though, you just never know when the old noggin is going to give out.

I hope that tackling the laundry will reveal a necklace. Cosmic reward for beating procrastination?

One of these days one of us is going to lose a wedding ring, and then, well, that will just be sad.

Three years seems about right for the odds against doing so to be running thin.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Encouragement

In case you were in need of some good feelings toward your Patriarchy, a video of its
Pentagram-shaped heart
and how it drove a stake through it one fine Tuesday morning.

Cat lady

I fear ending up "that crazy bird lady" someday, the one the kids point and giggle at, the postman wondering at the screeches heard through the mail slot, but Auburn-based blogger and globe-trotting culturalite Sus63 shows she's not afraid to get down and crazy with felines.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

There should be just stop signs


on Troost, like I said before.

This man was not impressed with the new-and-improved signals waiting-to-be-revealed by the City of Kansas City, Mo. at 19th and Troost. He stopped at the red, rolled, really, and decided that "no traffic ever comes through here, I'm going."

He's like a manifestation of the thoughts I always have there and a block north/east/west as well.

Still, there's me still sitting there like a sucker while he drives off up the hill.