Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Don't walk around outside

Indeed, what would we do without such advice from our preemptive meteorologist/journalists on T.V.?

Two hours after Brian Busby and his crew interrupted our social hour, the hail finally hit our Midtown, and even so it has mostly abated.

I heard Busby mention a half-apology for cancelling our show, despite having turned the T.V. way down, despite my friends' jeers, their faux-frantic cell-phone-grasping - "do you want me to call them?"

Be careful for what you wish for, they say. Darn them to FCC Hell. Less than a week ago, we made fun of the insignificant and misleading "three secrets will be answered" so-called plot of LOST, also pointing out the impossibility of how all the women are perfectly clean-shaven and all the men in a perpetual state of Miami Vice shadow.

Fast-forward to today, when "America's Top Model" hogged two hours of prime time during good weather, so by 9 p.m. when things start to turn soggy and dangerous with the coming of spring, right after a scene in which Charlie nicks his face shaving with an undoubtedly-old disposable razor, the weathergasam kicks in and we're stuck watching red trapezoids on a multi-colored map, grateful we aren't in Olathe, I suppose, but indignant as all Americans get when separated from Choice; we feel entitled to things we have merely grown used to do.

NOAH radios are programmable for your geographic location, and it's a sad fault of television broadcasting (broad, yes) that it blankets everyone around with forced awareness about something that may or may not affect them.

Busby said, "something something, T.V. is rebroadcastable, but we have a life-or-death situation on our hands."

I don't know, back when I was a kid, we didn't need much goading to be herded into the basement like the British in 1944; we had a mom who was paranoid about fire, and by association, lightning.

We always used to unplug the television, too. Black and white. In the days before surge protectors. At the moment, I am defying our modern concerns and typing on a plugged-in laptop. Note: it is a 486, I believe. (Uploaded afterwards - there's no viable modem left!)

And to think, I rushed home (to my friends' house near our apartment) from City Hall's "exciting" budget hearing, sloshing through deep streams of rain in the streets and braving the fruits of my stubbornness, my having refused to pay $3 an hour just to have a spot in a parking garage with neon art. At least the first half-hour is free, and I was able to spin around and get out.

Because you can't read the sign until you're in.

So, I'm tramping down 13th, perhaps, towards Grand, which, I read later, is closed to pedestrians.

It's odd that at 8:30 at night I'm not the only one out. You may recall my having skipped this hearing last year due to feeling eerily uncomfortable.

Tell me, what kind of man (young man, young black man) walks up to a whiter woman, young but older than he, and, half-communicating with rain-drowned statements (having said something to start it from nearly a half a block away, newspaper over his head, chasing me down half a block), asks, "Hey, how about you share that umbrella with me?"

Very sociable, indeed. Note: my umbrella is compact, not one of those giant affairs you can raise a family in.

So, you pretend to know that you know that it's not going to be a bad situation, despite what every statistical scenario you've read about and seen, and heard over the phone, through neighborhood newletters, crimewatches and e-mails, television shows, the rest. Not fear, but vague confusion, the kind brought about when there's no time to talk, no convenience to shelter conversation and no earthly normal reason to do so regardless.

I never heard his question, or rather, I did not answer it with any statement that rhymes with "no," yet he thought he got my reply, probably through my expression, or maybe because I was walking fast to begin with or that the absurdity of the ruse was too evident.

So, he called me "stingy," asked where I was going, and when I told him "to my car" (the truth, it's not supposed to be a smart thing to say, is it), he was on his way west down 13th and said, "well, next time I see you downtown, I'm going to say 'no.'"

It's not really a threat, is it?

He was smiling, kind-of, anyway. Still.

Last night, at the Thai restaurant on Walnut - the one with reverse happy hour and regular happy hour and cheap wings and dumplings and tempura and tofu things - there was a flock of male people whom I found annoying. The bartender kept referring to me as "babe," and the guy three stools down started in. (I sat far away on purpose, and I didn't engage anyone other than to give my order to the guy behind the bar.)

I try so hard to keep it general, to say about the chicken wings, "yeah, those are good, we come here all the time," so that, he got it, he asked who the "we" was, and I said "my husband, my friends, etc."

They only seem to stumble on that for a second.

He offered me some of his chicken wings, which, I guess were overwhelmingly presented for four bucks.

No, why do you have to ask twice? Same with the server, he asked me twice whether I wanted something to drink.

When the woman used to be at the bar, she would ask once and then bring me just water anyway. He, on the other hand, just kept offering the water as a second choice. I did not giggle or demure or anything. Why this urge to get the cute girl drunk?

Is this what you're thinking: Wah, wah, it sucks to be hit on, I hate it so much, etc. "You must be doing something to attract this attention. And why are you being as racially-minded as all the voters who either picked Brooks or Funkhouser?"

Whatever. I wear goofy clothes, unsexy shoes, have hair that's styled about 120 years too late, lack both make-up and exercised features. How does a normal smile, even if spontaneously-honest and without any backstory or insinuation, go so far as to "encourage" anyone. Note, I didn't smile at the Rainman.

Speaking of encouraging events, the budget hearing was just one advocate after another getting up to speak for increased neighborhood funding.

Several kids from the Kansas City Youth something spoke on behalf of a budget line for ACT and SAT preparation classes for four of our school districts. (Whether this item is currently in or out, I'm not sure; the document is dreadful to read, and people's ability to summarize their positions or start out with facts is often lacking.)

See, no need for any of those mayoral candidates to talk about fixing the schools; the money is already a line-item (or twinkle in someone's - Wayne Cauthen's - eye). While it makes me ill that the schools themselves do not have time to teach kids how to take these make-it or break-it tests, I guess I can't be sad about my other tax money going to catch these kids falling through the proverbial gap.

I guess.

The others who testified talked about the conditions of our neighborhoods - housing as infrastructure was a basic concern.
Again, what they talked about were exactly the ideas the council (especially the neighborhood committee) has been talking about for months. Well, okay, the finance committee heard the majority of the testimony earlier about the landlord licensing ordinance. The one that Saundra McFadden-Weaver sponsored and Mayor Kay Barnes struck down. It's not a bad thing to have this new housing administrator position, but sheesh, what took them so long to think of it?

The neighborhood people, 20 representing ACORN, asked for harsher penalties for landlords who refuse to maintain their property. They want swift, efficient action on complaints, for the city to be able to impose not only liens but receiverships, etc. Someone mentioned the bill currently in the Missouri Senate that would authorize just those kind of measures.

Those same measures came up over five years ago, though, when Iris Archer was head of Neighborhood Preservation, before Wayne Cauthen's early retirement buyouts. And then people had to go and get up to speed, and people were busy courting downtown development and condo after condo after condo, and nothing happened. Nothing but cuts on the neighborhood services - less tree trimming, less dangerous buildings demolitions, less enforcement of existing laws.

Good news, tonight Cauthen alluded to shifting work-shifts so that we can have animal health and public safety workers after five and on the weekends. What a concept. I wonder if he's doing the same with health inspectors and others. Budget Director Troy Schulte, in response to a question from Councilwoman (and still in the race, I'll be darned) Saundra McFadden-Weaver, said that as of two weeks ago, nearly all the additional neighborhood preservation inspectors had actually been hired. Five new ones and eight vacancies.

Others spotted included the rest of the finance committee, of course, Alvin Brooks, about whom Councilman (termed out) Troy Nash deliberately made a slip-up, calling him "mayor" instead of "mayor pro tem," which is what he is. It's funny, since Nash's assistant was working for the Janice Ellis campaign.

Completing the committee, Councilman Terry Riley (also close to incumbency) and Chuck Eddy, the chair and one of those who fared the worst in yesterday's election, were up there spouting comments to commenters. Outside the committee, besides Nash and McFadden-Weaver were Deb Hermann, Bill Skaggs, George Blackwood and a dejected-looking Jim Glover.

There were a number of non-electeds there tonight, including clear-speaking Ezekiel Amador, who spoke about the value of Community Action Network (CAN) centers (receiving a slight raise this year) and who made me wish he hadn't been knocked out of the race - he has such an admirably-clear and articulate manner.

Where has public speaking gone? You can hardly understand Brooks - I'm sorry, but he mumbles and squeaks and mashes up clauses into impossible combinations as far as transcription is concerned. Funkhouser is a bit difficult to understand, too. Talks too low and swallows words, though what he says makes clear sense. He didn't speak unclearly when presenting audits, as far as I remember; I didn't see him there for the hearing. Glover likewise is difficult to listen to, as we all know. Nash talks fast for some reason and quietly, and Riley, while louder, spins around phrases in a whiney way that makes me want to be angry. Barnes, I'll give her, has a great speaking manner, aside from the undertone, real or accidental, of condescension. Hermann and Nace (who was not there) are good, clear, logical speakers. I appreciate that. I appreciated Deth Im's diction as well.

Diction is a must for anyone in elected office, I believe.

It does not seem to be a requirement from our voters here in Kansas City.

More non-electeds; Brandon Ellington was impressive when he got up to talk; it was the first time I heard him speak. He lost his election, too. Octavia Southall was more mellow and easier to understand than I recall her being at the Northeast forum. It may be simply the comfort that comes from being in a room of mostly people of your race instead of the other way around. I don't feel that one way or the other, but I'm not speaking in public.

The police chief and (retired?) Deputy Chief Kevin Masters were there. Osco Bolton, from POSSE. He had some sharp things to say about street-level mediation programs that are working. Southall also talked about having mitigated a potential retaliation after a funeral where the family was overheard saying, "we know who did it and we're going to go get them."

There's people doing something, naysayers.

Despite how incredibly boring it is to listen (from the back row, where you can hardly hear anyway) to two-minutes of blather from 25 people and responses from politicians and such, you do pick up a few tidbits.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Colony collapse disorder

What's become of society? Humans are acting up and out at an alarming rate. Do birds do it? Apparently, bees do it.

Millions and millions of them are leaving their apiaries and never coming home.


No, it's probably just earthly viruses or other factors that our actions are to blame. . . breeding, pesticides, trucking bees around to do pollination gigs, which are more profitable than competing with imported Chinese honey. . . .

It's a fascinating industry, absolutely necessary for producing human food such as almonds, and only makes a person about $30,000 a year or $11 profit per hive.

Back with the Catholics

My polling place was upgraded, I guess.

Instead of the Baptist church a couple of blocks south of my home, with the bumpy tables and the crumbling sidewalk, I go now to the fancy Catholic one to the north, with its big, smooth parking lot (shared with Hallmark), flat sidewalks and sharp pencils. And now I have white judges. I only recognized one man from my old spot; maybe the others just finally got too old. I miss the guy who used to monitor the ballot and give me my "I voted" sticker, though.

Of course, I didn't know you could park in Hallmark's land (this sign does not help those who park before they see it, and this is that weird stretch of Gillham where there's a hill and several intuitive merges) and so I walked around the block before it was all said and done.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lost solidarity

Everything I was thinking about how this show is going, but expressed in classic Square Peg style.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Name my finches

They are a couple. They're Java Sparrows. I don't know this pair's particular heritage, but I will presume they are legal and not a result of bird traders' trying to help rid an island of a rice-eating "nuisance."

They came to me via a friend, who is in the Beak n' Wings bird club, which helps rescue pets others can't keep.

Free birds!

The male is in front, looking disapproving, and the female is stretching up to see how to escape the scary silver thing pointed at them (the camera), while showing off her bad feather week.

She really needs some attention to those pin feathers coming in on her head, but I never see them co-groom; they just peck at each other.

Sometimes, he sings.

There is a bird expo Saturday, too, up at the KCI Expo Center, so watch for more "help me with my addiction" pleas.

My goal is to stick to buying tree-perches, food and toys and no new conure or budgie.

Chucked from a church

Practice voting

If you live in Kansas City, you're probably "all set" to vote in a week on city council and mayoral candidates, to advance two of them in each district/office to another election in March.

Today and for 13 more days you and everyone else in Missouri can vote on which dorky license plate we'll have if we live here in 2009.

There does not seem to be a one-driver, one-vote rule enforced. Feel free to battle my preference with your own.

I think #3 - "Reflection" - looks too 1980s Florida, #2 is a good attempt at "river," but the font is bad and the sun-ball is stupid. Also it's called "Ribbon," not river, so that's dumb.

The motto at the bottom on both of these is blocky and ugly like it is now.

In the FAQs, you will learn that putting the motto on the plate is state law. Wow, they really know how to use legislation for important things.

Choice #1 is blue-ish like the current one, too, which I prefer to bland, blank white. It's also "educational," with the shape of the state and that bird no one ever sees.

The FAQs will also tell you that indeed, it's true that inmates make our plates (another state law) and that they are aluminum. What they don't cover is how many miles of roadway might be repaired with the money from cashing in all that scrap metal.

Why do I have to turn my old plate in? Can't I make a buck off recycling it? And what are all those license plate artists supposed to do?

I miss the maroon-on-white style from 1979 that made it look like you just might be from Arizona, if you didn't look too closely for the little cactus in the middle. In fact, a park ranger in Texas once got into an argument with me and a friend of mine about where we were from based on that similarity. Like lots of law enforcement, he was looking so hard to "catch" us in a lie of some kind.

When he stopped being angry, he turned paternal on us girls and said to be sure not to photograph the "mules" or anyone who randomly was going through the desert.

"You don't want to make the drug runners angry," he said.

Throw Beads at Me

You'll have to take my word for it; Blogger has rules like prisoners' mail. I'm married and employed and all that, too, and Kansas City is conservative and wouldn't understand.

Another reason: my Photoshop won't open.

My old work-Mac has desktop-lock - my attempts to change system preferences are not being heeded. It's stuck on green with a blue square in the middle. Click, nothing. Click, nothing. I hate it when buttons are faux-active.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Heart My Cat

Even if her eyes make her look like a junkie.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bird Vengeance

While some of my friends are happy to shoot winter songbirds with nothing more than a camera, apparently some old ladies can't leave well enough alone.

Thanks to Bird Chick for bringing attention to a recent Newsweek article about how it's okay, apparently, to shoot birds illegally.

The same rule applies to humans, you know; you only have to claim (and prove) self-defense. Or, you determine that the assailant is a "terrorist."

Since the cardinal is dead, he won't be called in for questioning.

He was sure scary, bashing into the windows all the time, waking everyone up. I guess since she lives in a solar house, the killer feels "balanced" about ending the life of a bird. Never mind the fact that the bird was mentally tortured by the house first. Eco-granny said she was tortured, too. Couldn't sleep! The one with the bigger weapons always wins.


I do not have much to contribute about the much-publicized ChemCentral explosions and fire yesterday, smoldering into today, except that you might want to check up on their usual environmental scorecard.

The smoke seemed to move up high and then to the south and west, and somehow, I never smelled it.

It was bad to breathe it in, just as breathing burning mineral spirits would be on any given day, but the EPA gave us the "all clear" for being outdoors. The school district evacuated a bunch of elementary schools; three are still closed today - one is just up the street.

I'm sure I'm safe because I'm older than an elementary school student.

My photos also have little to contribute to the masses of them already online, but my perspective is my perspective. Yesterday, that perspective was Kessler Park.

This is Carlos, who was giggly and wearing only two button-up shirts. No hat, coat, gloves. He asked if I spoke Spanish. A lot of people ask me that, and I always say the same thing, feeling shy and awkward: "I know some, but you know some English, too."

The other day a high school girl asked me the same thing. She wanted to rely on a friend who knows both languages well, but in the middle of our conversation, when trying to answer my question about what store her parents had at the Super Flea, she was impressed that I knew "zapatería" without assistance.

It's no big deal. I wish we all didn't feel so dang shy.

The only two humans to talk to me on the hill yesterday afteroon were guys, of course. One tall black one and one short Carlos. Flirtation, apparently, knows no boundaries. (I didn't initiate the conversations. I ended them by being the first one to move - away). The pretense they both took was that it seems weird for a solitary female without a camera crew to be catastrophe-gazing. "Did you get out of school early today?" the first asked. We chatted a little about "the fire," he took a call, etc.

Carlos said I looked younger than I said I was. Asked if I was married. Did we have kids. He also said, in reference to the smoke pouring out of the factory in the bottoms below us, "The Earth is tired."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Pathological Liar

A man I have a hard time forgiving for the grief his personality inflicted on my family for about a decade also receives credit for introducing the PC into my life. He had a great LP collection from the 60s, too, and thus indirectly introduced me to Bob Dylan as well. We used to watch NBA together in the late 90s.

He also is the one who opened the sliding porch door and allowed my white budgie to escape. His humorous slant on the event, which may have been an accident but for which I did not receive an apology was, "Your slave is free!"

(Annie flew to the top of a huge tulip tree and was never seen again; an afternoon thunderstorm may have contributed; granted, the bird was not fond of me or captivity, but I loved her all the same. You can tell because I named her Annie, for "animosity.")

Anyway, this pathological liar and interesting case study also was the one who brought my attention to the fact that the Beatles received the royal Member of the British Empire award in 1965. Subsequently, some have turned down the MBE, he said, because their snobbery could not stand the thought that "great" can mean merely widely popular. The honour had been debased.

I can find no evidence that this is true in particular, although apparently, a lot of people have declined such honors for various other reasons.

There is no risk that I shall ever be nominated for something with the word "Nobel" in it, but in theory, I might decline the prize for peace if Rush Limbaugh were to receive it.

The man who let my budgie out was also an avid listener of the Rush Limbaugh Show.

(The two men share traits such as: they both sucked at college and neither of them went into service during the Vietnam War.)

I agree that promoting the reduction of pollution-causing behavior through a film is not peace-oriented, which is one of the arguments Limbaugh makes against Al Gore's receiving the prize earlier. I can see some connection, though, since my country blatantly ignored the Kyoto Accord.

That was not very peaceful, Greatest Nation that consumes the most energy.

That brazenness embarrasses me, along with funny assertions like this one from the Hoover Institution:

Global Warming, "if it were to take place" would be "generally beneficial" because:

"One of the most feared consequences of global warming is a rise in sea level that could flood low-lying areas and damage the economy of coastal nations. But actual evidence suggests just the opposite: a modest warming will reduce somewhat the steady rise of sea level, which has been ongoing since the end of the last Ice Age—and will continue no matter what we do as long as the millennia-old melting of Antarctic ice continues."

(I mean, tee hee, right? Hotter temps would slow down sea level increases - because of… evaporation and increased humidity?)

Even if Gore's crusade is not deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize, why should a hypocritical, megalomaniac with drug issues get a prize for peace-promotion?

It is beyond my current comprehension. Is it because he has the most popular show?

Here is a clip from the transcript, likely as copyrighted as everything else we quote and link to as bloggers, that talks about the nomination:

"The Landmark Legal Foundation tapped the talker, calling him the foremost advocate for freedom and democracy in the world. Landmark, by the way, is the leading conservative public interest law firm in the US, and Limbaugh serves on it’s [sic] board of advisors."

(Limbaugh says the connection is irrelevant, since he is not paid. A-hem, I'm on a board - most are volunteer-based, you know - and it definitely colors my views. The world of adults seems to operate on the principle that one's own indeed will promote, nominate and support you.)

I think that this man, Thich Quang Do, is more deserving, since he actually did something to promote peace.

Limbaugh just promotes divisiveness. Not very peaceful, Mister Millionaire.

Yup, information is power and powerful, and all sides are valid and deserve expression. Democracy/the Bill of Rights protects that, but opinions that are as predictably Rightwing and pro-Republican as mine are predictably Leftist and tepidly pro-Democrat, are not worthy of any kind of medal having to do with peace.

Vote NO Nobel for Rush!

Vote NO Nobel for C. Girl!

We'll have to wait until mid-December to find out if the Nobel team listens.

(It's funny that they say the nominees are not revealed for 50 years. This, of course, means that anyone may say they were nominated, especially if they could fairly count on dying in the next five decades. How old is Rush, anyway?)

Friday, February 02, 2007

That was Monday

This is Friday. As we all know. In this time zone. Of sentence fragments. And under-productive, over-caffeinated grammatical troubles.

By the way, since we've all cleared up the "stupidest" grammar problem of the month (a month being a series of 28 to 31 days, regardless ((not irregardless)) of calendar divisions), help me understand why it's better to say "toward" and not "towards."

If thou art bored. Of course.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Four Legs and Furry

You Are: 40% Dog, 60% Cat

You and cats have a lot in common.
You're both smart and in charge - with a good amount of attitude.
However, you do have a very playful side that occasionally comes out!

Cheer Up!

Scientists come up with 20 ways life on Earth could stop.