Thursday, January 29, 2009


Gosh, even NPR reported that the bonuses (which are taxable income) in 2008 were half of what they were before, meaning "lost" expected revenue for both New York state and NYC and the feds — meaning, just like everywhere else, city budget is going to suffer.

Hmm, but same amounts as in "booming 2004."

Shameful to get bonuses? That $18 billion wasn't going to help any Midwesterner's retirement portfolio any … but it's gross to see someone pay themselves first and then cry about being unable to pay for things they made commitments to … and then whine for bailouts …

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bye, Rabbit

If I ever write 50 books, I'll look you up in the afterlife.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


If I don't pay my taxes, can I have a secretaryship too?


First, there is snow on the ground (and melted on the streets, like the last time), but the neighbor's driveway is white.

Second, there is much to do on the ground and elsewhere (melted in various places), but I just can't.

Third, I hold the beginning of parts of a chain, but there are other links that are not forged either, so the matter is …

Fourth, advice sending out unsolicited today equals "learn to fix things early early early because they will never never never go away."

Fifth, as always, please send in the clowns.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Reality of reporting

Being a "good listener" means having people ask your opinion then try to change it to their own.

I love how the way humans function is that people are always pushing their agendas at each other.

"You need to …" "You should …" "You know what would be really good, is if …"

Do I do that? Three years ago, I wrote that I do not, except rarely.

I wrote that I am not good at "taking advantage" of connections and situations because I find doing so somewhat impure. 

It's so much easier to answer, indulgent and fun-in-anger, "What drives you crazy?" than the question, "What drives you (to succeed)?"

Here's to learning to drive.

I'll tell you

The WTF neighbor is out there at 5:30 a.m scraping the metal snow shovel across her stupid back driveway for a quarter-inch inch of snow on a Saturday.  Get a damn broom.  Or a life.  Or a something.  Just drive!

Darn, darn, darn, darn.  I'm so awake.  Darn.  Darn.  Darn.

Rats.  Anger.  Sigh.  Now what.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More color things

Maybe they are all trying to be unique,  but I've read that Michelle Obama's outfit yesterday (not the ball gown) was pale gold with chartreuse undertones, lemongrass-colored, and soft maize.  Another publication just said chartreuse.  Not very specific.  I guess pale gold and maize are the same, but the first citation's writer later switches opinion to marigold.

It's interesting that clothing description is an occupation.  And that the people doing it can't even agree.  Perhaps colors are not the kind of facts you can pin down with specific names.  What would Pantone say?

It cracks me up, too, that they talk about how the J Crew gloves were the "low" mix-in item that balanced out the designer clothes or showed some kind of character point. Yes, whatever!

Also, the kids' clothes were designed and made especially for them; it's not like they went in to the Crewcuts at the mall and bought those cute things off the rack.  Blah!

Tomboy is as close as KC plebes might get, but only since there is a $25/$50/$100 sale going on right now (through Saturday).  We can say we're supporting local business or being like Michelle Obama or whatever the heck else is necessary in order to justify it.  Then we can all write about each other's clothes and feel fancy and special.

MacBook Abuse

I can't even show you a photo
because you would be horrified
and call some hotline.

(Mechanically, things are fine.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Who really is surprised

'Cuz, I kind-of was thinking,
"If a person who is 100% better than I am"
was gonna be president, I'm for it.
For it, because that's what I am here for.

Having dared to eat a peach

… do I really have more than 4,000 saved news / think-about-it bookmarks. She overshoots.


PS — why is "Check, Please" show on Kansas City Public Television ( still on when "Uniquely Kansas City" is not?

Boo hoo.

Taking bets

I'm not kidding.
and B.
I would like to request guesses for the amount of cash I might make with a spray bottle (and refill plan), newspaper and a squeegee at 39th and Troost.
Or, you can pick the intersection, and I will choose them at random so you can't come and watch.

Images for before

It could have been yank-out.

"Patchwork Heritage"

(I know the media has covered this already.)

Presuming that they all are U.S. citizens, born here and living here the requisite number of years, etc.,

If our latest president's parent were both considered white but one or both of them were natives of South Africa or anywhere else on that continent, would we call him or her our first African-American president?

What if the president were black-looking, whose Hispanic parents or grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba and were descendants of African slaves? Would he or she be the first African-American president?

Our latest president's dad was African, and his mom was (what we all call) "American," so there is a scapegoat technicality that makes arguing over the denomination's wording irrelevant.

I'm under the impression that it seems to come down to color more than it does to so-called race or ancestral-country(ies)-of-origin. I guess we're still going by the thing that if you look black or have any African-derived "blood" in you, you're African American. We are all mixed with families we wouldn't know personally, we Americans. But we go by color and call it culture. After all, didn't Rev. Lowery's benediction prayer end with some funky rhyming lines about race — lines that identified us by colors, black, brown, yellow, red, white?

Our latest president is where he is because he worked much, much harder than I ever will.

To reiterate a Facebook post: lazy is the new unpatriotic.

It's hard to live up to someone who went to a better school than you did, seems to be in better shape, has the best poker face and the best smile, likes to do community service, is really good with words, and whose marriage and family life look enviable.

Dear Justice Roberts

This is how the Constitution reads (from Article II, Section 1):

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

I guess adverb placement does not matter among those whose job it is to interpret that document.  Language junkies might disagree.  After all, there was a poet at the ceremony.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

That's exactly what I want!

Anne Marlowe said

p. 269
"… I seem to operate on the unconscious premise that if I allow inertia rather than desire to dictate my actions, I will live longer."

Saturday, January 17, 2009


… won't post.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Were I to teach any portion of the world to sing (like me), I am not sure it would sound much differently than the screechy starlings, random blue jays or other domestic birds within earshot.

I heard my wind chime explode at 6:24 a.m.  I feared it was sabotage, evidence seems to reveal bolt failure.  That wood must be horribly compromised.  Sigh.  I hate knowing that any extra work I take on, even if full time and in the middle of the night, is going toward something bland as roof replacement, instead of Amsterdam.

The Netherlands have become my spring code word for escape.  Tulips, Van Gogh and whathaveyou (canals) sound fine.  I can see in person what I learned about in class the other semester.  I can make up for having to work through (skip) a number of otherwise more favorable social and educational alternatives.

I would like to be able to afford seven billion sodas.  We would have to find something to do with the trash, however.


Their schools aren't much better.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I used to work for the ELCA

The first time I was taken up to a Shinto shrine, led up through the tori gate, I felt apprehensive. This was a place full of spirits, and the lady with me believed that praying here would change things, I guessed.

Bell rung, coin tossed into an aged slatted wooden box, clap the hands, now pray …

So I sit through prayers to the one Creator God, hearing echoes from my childhood, familiar but still remaining in the awe of reverent outsider. Yesterday, I heard that the opposite of faith is not doubt but cynicism, the bitterness of being cut off from God — in denial of God, I suppose.

Somehow, doubt is faith turned inward I was told along with 20 septaugenarians, who had just eaten homemade chicken noodle soup in the basement of a 5-year-old church set in a neighborhood where houses stand at $250,000 and were built in response to desegregation.

I prayed to their God too, and perhaps felt sincere. Outsiderness is difficult to describe, but there are countless daily examples of how Japan is like this Christian land where I work, for entering those doors every day is stepping into a culture apart from most of America — or at least visible America.

It's not altogether distasteful, but it requires a frame of mind that admits voluntary submission, motivated by love received, to the God. And such things can be faked easily enough, if one has had the dual practice of having taken school in an all-Catholic environment for 13 years and having lived alone for 11 months in Asia, forced by politeness to follow, follow, follow and nod, agree, smile often and eat everything.

Rarely confronted directly with anything I could openly reject …

— circa 1999



Don't fall in love

You broke me bodily
The heart ain't the half of it
And I'll never learn to laugh at it
In my good-natured way.

In fact I'm laughing less in general
But I learned a lot at my own funeral
And I knew you'd be the death of me
So I guess that's the price I paid.

- (not me; ani difranco excerpt. not really all my sentiment, but you know how i can't not broadcast every little thought every little moment i have it.)

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Weight of History and Flight of Spirits
Rising Dragon: Ancient Treasures From China

For three decades after it was gifted to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, an exquisite lacquered brush holder that was commissioned by the Qianlong Emperor of China about 250 years ago has rested in storage. Bronson Trevor's gift in 1976 was one addition to the now more than 7,500 works of high quality Chinese art that have earned The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art its reputation for preserving and displaying one of the world's finest Chinese collections. Being an international leader in the collection of Chinese art since its inception in the 1930s, when former museum director Laurence Sickman had traveled to China to purchase what was then more widely available, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has mounted an exhibition in its new Bloch Building that finally brings the finest of these treasures to the public.

Rising Dragon: Ancient Treasures From China opened October 6, 2007 and continues through February 10, 2008.  If you did not see it then, you have missed it.

The Imperial Cylindrical Brush Holder with Scenes of Refined Pastimes dates from the Qianlong Reign of the Qing Dynasty. It came to Kansas City's museum shortly before Sickman retired from directing the museum (1953-1977) — and after he had secured Marc F. Wilson as Associate and then Chief Curator of Oriental Art there. Today, Wilson is the Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell Director/CEO of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Chief Curator of Oriental Art. Under his direction and with the contribution of Assistant Curator of Early Chinese Art Ling-en Lu, the latest special exhibit at the museum presents a selection of objects united by their expression of "humankind's quest to understand ourselves and our world."

Each piece is a testament to what artists achieve when trying to express deep, cultural meanings as fundamental as life and death.

Wilson described the carved cinnabar brush holder as a conceptual tour de force, and like all the objects in Rising Dragon, it represents, as he says, the tip-top of its form. The unknown artist achieved levels of fluidity and precision difficult to execute through carving techniques, so much so that a match has never been found.

Layers of lacquer, all applied over weeks and weeks of time, are carved back down to various levels, where the yellow and green layers lie beneath the primary red.

The piece is given thorough attention in the gallery space, with five, enlarged details posted on the wall behind the glass case where the 18th century object is finally on display again after 31 years.

Wilson hopes that viewers will take the time to move back and forth from the brush holder itself to the panels that talk about what the low-relief images carved into the numerous layers of lacquer signify.

The scenes and activities depict scholars in Tang Dynasty dress, an anachronism hailing the time when the Hanlin Academy was established about 1,000 years before the piece was created. The reference to the time when sage emperors who chose to fill his court with Confucian literati helped legitimize the power of the Qianlong Emperor who commissioned it. He wanted to be seen as a part of the great tradition of the morally- and artistically-cultivated statesman. "The Perfect Mandarin" should know how to judge antiquities, write poetry for any occasion, excel at calligraphy, play music, weiqi chess (go), understand rare books and do so all with the point of serving society with this knowledge. Enforcing social norms is one of the three main concerns of humanity, past and present, uniting the objects in Rising Dragon.

The two other themes Wilson highlights are people's concerns about the mystery of existence and the fear of oblivion at death:

"Why are we here, and must we perish?" are certainly dealt with in European art through its Christian religion, but the artists who were inspired to such well-crafted expressions of these fears and beliefs as offered in Rising Dragon reflect centuries of religious change.

Much of that change is traced through the exhibit with the show's namesake, the mythological and powerful dragon.

The first piece visitors encounter is Celestial Dragon as the Life Energy of the Universe, a Tang Dynasty sculpture about nine inches long of chased, engraved and gilded bronze. It came to the museum as an Asian Art Acquisition Fund purchase in memory of Sickman in 1998, a decade after he had passed away.

A post and attachment structure extend from this 7th century dragon's belly, but Wilson cautions that the point of any of the objects in Rising Dragon is not at all so much what it was used for – in fact there is a pair of mysterious, mixed-animal fittings (called zun) in the exhibit whose exact functionality scholars have never determined – it is how expertly the artist has used form to convey the intensity of the object's meaning.

For ancient Chinese, the dragon was the most powerful divine force in the nature, the visible and invisible realms of life and afterlife, where creatures we would categorize as "real" and "imaginary" were not disconnected from each other scientifically, but were all part of a continuum of existence.

"The Perfect Dragon" is really a perfect example of what the creature signified. The gold-plated bronze looks literally frozen in time, and it's only through continued observation that the viewer determines that the thing is not going to jump to life and start flying through the air. Its four legs are in a perpetual extension, pulling the dragon's body into action, as the beast that gives life, growth and regeneration extends its claws powerfully, the actual breath of life puffing out from its snarling mouth in carved plumes of divine energy. The positive life force is called yang.

The zun dragons mentioned above that twine themselves around the hoof-ends of a pair of ox legs are balanced with the yin of griffin-headed birds and topped with monkeys perched on the dragons' tails. While these gilt bronze fittings inlaid with round, Egyptian-style glass pieces must have had some decorative or even useful purpose, their beauty is their true purpose, which is different from any practical use.

"The real purpose," Wilson told a previewing group, "is spiritual, the artistic aura communicated to you. That's what the show is about."

The spiritual world, especially that of the deceased, is featured in many of the other objects in Rising Dragon.

A bronze door-pull, a large circle knocker held in the teeth of a swirling-shaped dragon's head, once graced the door of an important tomb. Now the scales, claws and arching eyebrows that once served to convey power of regeneration to people from the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.) still display their warning aspect.

A late 1st century mirror designed to light the way for the deceased in the afterlife rests on a celestial dragon stand and is only one of two known complete representations of work with both pieces intact.

A number of funerary objects appear in Rising Dragon, a rare fragment of embroidered silk coffin shroud, a Neolithic (8,000-2,000 B.C.E.) pot, the largest known of its kind, and even what looks to modern eyes like a decorative sculpture instead of something to go into the tomb, an 8th century Turkic Caravan Woman Rousing her Camel While Nursing figure.

Fifty centuries of work from a vast country of numerous ethnic and religious traditions is a large order, but in trying to make art more intellectually and emotionally accessible, Wilson and the curators, conservators and other staff at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art have included tools for interpretation throughout the exhibit.

An explanation of how lacquer is created, drawings of objects showing different aspects or original placements, photographs and other materials are included, along with a new inter-gallery "Collections Connections" guide that seeks to draw museum visitors to other pieces in the collection that reflect similar themes in other cultures' work, help to solidify how art is what gives objects in Rising Dragon their power.

Cross-eyed and Senile

Saturday, January 10, 2009

10-11-07 Hindsight=F

Exerpts from (?) a conversation a cinc.
It was not quite a quadrille:

One man, three women, (one who is I).
Table good, coffee great; I request very few perks after all.

Dogs don't bother me, or feeling rather silly;
It was interesting anyway to see you in silhouetted obscurity,
Having so many of you to observe at once I did not feign to be all-inclusive.

A number of duffle-toting men, presumed homeless to some extent
I watched trekking by, south to I'm-not-sure-where.

I hope you enjoyed yourself, though
I know going through five of these things must be daunting.

I understand what the order means, and it's interesting
That you told me I was last.

It seems that She (D) pled to have me included.
Did they interview all five?

Was she the only one plugging for us journalists?

I have very harsh feelings for all of you today.

Southern chaos


Apparently, the Joint Forces Commands' latest report lists Pakistan (not much of a surprise) and Mexico as the two most likely countries to experience sudden and rapid collapse.

"…Mexico’s mention beside Pakistan in a study by an organization as weighty as the Joint Forces Command (which controls almost all conventional forces based in the continental U.S.) speaks volumes about growing concern over what’s happening south of the U.S. border ….

"Vicious and widening violence pitting drug cartels against each other and against the Mexican state have left more than 8,000 Mexicans dead over the past two years. Kidnappings have become a routine part of Mexican daily life. Common crime is widespread. Pervasive corruption has hollowed out the state.What form such a response might take is anyone’s guess and the study does not spell it out, nor does it address the economic implications of its worst-case scenario. Mexico is the third biggest trade partner of the United States (after Canada and China) and its third-biggest supplier of oil (after Canada and Saudi Arabia) ….

"Closer to home, the U.S. economic crisis looks likely to slow down a $1.4 billion assistance program (military equipment, training, technology) to help the Mexican government gain the upper hand over the drug cartels and re-establish control over what some have called 'failed cities' along the border, places where shootouts, beheadings and kidnappings have become routine…."


Friday, January 09, 2009

A Very Intelligent and Nice Man

I know some of you have already had the "wow" experience of finding your old acquaintances on Wikipedia, but the whole Facebook phenom goaded me to look up someone I knew in college who had since become an acclaimed author.

[There is a fan page for Peter Hessler that he did not create himself, unless it's a rouse; however, read these creds and tell me he would be that pedestrian.]

I lost track of him during the Peace Corps period.  I have a letter he sent me from China with some Asia-bureau Wall Street Journal clips.  We we colleagues about 13 years ago at the University of Missouri's Writing Lab.  [Blah blah blah.]

What Wikipedia doesn't say is that he's also super-healthy, kind and unpretentious.  At least he was when I knew him, and considering all he's accomplished, I think he must still be fairly disciplined.  And he already had come from Princeton when we met, so I am sure he's still great company.

Learning Chinese is a huge thing in itself.  I could never hope to be that smart.  He is someone I could not edit, but I bet his work hardly needs it.

Here's cheers to you, Peter; I have begun Oracle Bones a number of times but lack discipline to get past page 40-something.  Perhaps I should put away the Edith Wharton and buckle down (as it looks like I will not be taking any classes this semester).

It's good to have role models, even if we don't follow them.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Good gift

Oh, I never give them, and I've trained most people who like me not to give them (to me), but I do acknowledge the shiny happy feeling of "you like me" that comes when someone gets you something that actually fits.

Thank you, Amber (and Chad, but I'm pretty sure it was Amber who shopped this one) for this.

My first designer this or that … not counting the black leather Swan purse I bought in Japan in 1998 for probably $200 (when I had all the cash in the world and 20,000¥ was nothing at all; I do know it was on sale = why I fall into buying most things — so perhaps it was only $100. Still, can you imagine my doing that today? : )

It's fun to get something you actually "need."

I didn't have a black purse that is this decent size.

So, now, someone has to take me matching-shoes-shopping.

Because my mom and brother gave us bunches of money (that I'm actually saving for the moment, since, well, you know, the economy).

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I take it back

The people at KCP&L are stupid, too.

I called them last fall, because I had a huge credit because of budget billing, it had been a full calendar year, and I skipped a bill.
Even with a "credit," you can't skip bills, I found out by calling (when the statement was all screaming "past due").

I listened to the customer service person explain that the power company never just liquidates your credit surplus — even though it's the customer's money, that the power company is pretty much holding without paying interest — that, at best, it might be redistributed back each month throughout the next year.

(I didn't get all curious and ask about what happened if the customers suddenly died … I don't see a "redistribution of surplus credits to heirs department" being at a power company, do you?)

So, the December bill was still $95 (the budget based on the 500 people who must have lived here before we did …), and this month, it's only $36. Pretty big-old difference, I should say.

I don't trust them. What good is a budget if it's always changing?

I guess in 2010, it will round out to about $70?


No, this is not going into my "what I'm thankful for" pile: "Having a ridiculously small electric bill when I'm receiving ridiculously small amounts of income." No.

I would not plumb that

I guess it "pays off" to be mentioned famously … so, there are tons of journalists out there who can't get jobs, and so they're sending this pipes guy away from his family and (we were told) failing business?

I'm not going to complain too loudly, because, if offered, I would not go to Israel.

Les cheveux, pas les chevaux

There is just so much hair on the human body, and we go to great lengths to maintain various lengths in various places.  Long is stylish here, but bald is preferred there, there, and there.

Bald is not preferred on the head except in adolescent women who have no reason to pursue that hairstyle other than ___ (and by some, it is perceived as sexy).

It is true, though, men are required by our culture to shave (generally) their beards off and likewise women (generally) their legs, armpits, pubic area — and the lattermost in various styles that keep changing, though lately, the balder the better, it seems — and pluck out patterns or patches of gloss on chins, brow bones, upper lips.

Just patterns and patches — yes, women should save enough eyebrow hairs so as no to have to draw them in like the octogenarians; it is important to be able to express one's emotions, after all and especially if one are pre-menopausal (I'm sure).

Would men likewise in exchange for all this labor do well to keep their chests smooth?  (Some, Asians and some of unexpected descent — or not, African, Scottish, Arabic, Asian, American Indian, Indian, apparently most of the planet, I guess — are naturally that way (thank God?).)

Men's ear- and nose-hairs are overstated, but I suppose that is due to testosterone,  and in some cases, subjects are loathe to acknowledge and deal with them.  A few women out there miss the chin hairs or choose to grow them as 19th-century females surely did.

Personally, as I'm oversensitive to smells, so I prefer to try to stay trim as a cyclist (in terms of hair — have you seen?  — I'm not revealing my weight, but I'd lose every semi-professional and faux cycling race there is).

The tweezers, hand-operated bi-valve (not really) and the multiple electric-powered discs are my best friends and most likely not to survive a present-day airline flight screening.

I suppose, despite my already sweaty and annoying nature that I am destined, upon "armageddon," to become, as a "lover" (don't ask) from Croatia (nationally Bosnian) once described me during one of my "this is me, get over it" phases, "like Russian girls."

He had plenty of prejudices, mind you.  Hated Jews, I think (his country allied with Germany at one Nazi-esque point), disbelieved the U.S. moon landing, had been conscripted and was, when I met him, only 21; he had interesting Catholic Church mythology to share, etc.

I once shocked my mother during an earlier college or post-college phase when I had let my legs and underarms go.  It was fun to be soft, and it was winter, but eventually it got itchy, and even as light brown as my leg hairs happen to be, they were long enough to conjoin with each other and show up in New Mexico photographs taken from several feet away.

The "lambs" under my arms as we (past tense) called them were friendly but difficult to deodorize.  Staying indoors as a concubine with frequent bath-access would have been no problem.  We have "lives," alas.

I trimmed them from time to time, and then moved into a phase of tweezing them out, one by one (the worse part is to the neck and vision — you can't do this much past 30, I propose).

Also, it produces a large, stinging pain.  The pain of pulling out pubic hairs is 1000 times (I will not back down from this figure) more, and I have confusion about this waxing thing I have heard about.

I have maintained my mostly-hairlessness for many, many years.  Sans electricity, there may be problems,  but I think I've made the case that it doesn't matter.  Tenacity needs only tweezers and time.

You have seen  Mad Max (2?) in which they pine over the mere luxury of women's lingerie.  You know those women were not lice-free or fragrant, and yet …

I used to shave my legs, etc. twice a day.  I was paranoid and influenced by a particular man's comment about a different woman, who happened to be a friend of mine.  I was quite paranoid.  Men can make you crazy with their none-too-subtle cosmetic demands, even from afar.

Several year ago, I was out camping with my husband, and we had the fortune (?) of having a gaggle (yes, a female collective noun) of college-esque boys turn up, after dark, noisy, in two or three cars, right next to our post-______ love-nest.

They had the works:  radio, fire, several blaring lanterns as to imitate a television and exclaim a fear of darkness, tons of beer in bottles we heard bandied about, and stupid (unfunny) jokes that involved random accusations of "Homo!" and the following opinion on coochie-hair:  "Man, I'll never go (out with / down on) a girl who doesn't shave, again, man!"

There were plenty of seconds  to this proclamation and more stories I then classified as rank and did not remember to write down.  Eventually, my "romantic" camping-coupling returned, as the stupid boys (six or eight of them, we think) had their tents collapse in some kind of drunken fight (yes, alcohol will do that to the repressed, especially) that escalated to the point of some or all of their leaving in the middle of the stupid conversations and night.

No offense and pardon my naivetée, but this is what guys mean by the "guy talk" they don't talk when a few women are (known to be) around?

Of course, women have their own Private Idahos of language and topic.  Another day, mes amis.

A short time after the camping thing, some of us were at a bar, several women-friends and one heterosexual guy.  One stumbled onto a conversation about a collection method / device for menstruation (who says we don't talk the same when you're all around!), and earlier, the majority of us were rambling about gynocentric versus phallocentric adjectives.


But back at the campsite, I had been struck sad.  Never before had I wanted to avoid forever such people.  Menkind did not look too attractive then and there.  I wanted to and had to fight the urge to rise up and shout, "Do you shave your stupid pubes — or even your face for that matter — every day?"

Yup, there was lots of grrr.  Why must we all live up to the porn and body-model invention?  These days, I do what I want, and we're happy.  I'm not going to elaborate.

I read that Gillette is at fault for all of this anyway.

Follow the money.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Defensive DOR customer "service"

So, you try to pay attention and be compliant … here's me calling DOR of Missouri after finding no answers online (maybe you can):

"Our vehicle's plates / stickers expire this month, and we haven't received our notice."

"That means you don't need to renew."

"Are you sure?"*


"But the sticker says January 09."

"What year is your vehicle?"


"Then you will need your 2007 and 2008 personal property tax receipts, safety inspection,** proof of insurance and the renewal notice."

"We didn't get one."

"It was sent out on December 15th."

"It did not arrive.  Can you send it again?"

"No, ma'am, we can't …."

[and she starts getting an uncalled-for tone at a question that I think is completely normal … I never lose mail, but I didn't even protest that or anything … she put lots of snark on caAayunt — as if I had been arguing for hours …].

"… But you can bring in the current registration —"

"I don't have a copy of the current registration."*** 

"Ma'm, you are required by law to keep a copy of that in your vehicle at all times."

"Yes, I know; it was lost, however. Can you send a new one?"

"No, but you can go to any Department of Revenue office and get it."

"But you said I needed the old one to renew."

"No, they're just going to give you a new one; there's no charge —"

[And here was my final straw to her, I suppose, for I interrupted with a cheerful]

"That's easy!"

… and she hung up.  

— So, did the state employees not get their 3% this year or something?  Did I imply too much that she was an illogical presenter of information?  Did I really not pay attention?  Did someone horrible interrupt her all day long?  Does she really like to have to keep talking and talking from a script when the problem is already resolved?

… holy wanna-be-a-libertarian …

So, now, of course, I have to GO TO THE OFFICE, instead of the "convenient" online stupid renewal thing.  Can't they just tell me my stupid PIN#?

* (as in, you haven't looked it up / you don't know my VIN or anything / where are you getting this, an "if A, then B" sheet?)

**umm, no, we got that inspection last time = not due yet in this two-year system, right?  But I didn't even say that because who cares — I'm not mean to customer service people.  Me and T-Mobile, the gas company, the electric company, even the city water department and ridiculous Time Warner — we all get along fine on such calls.

*** yeah, yeah, it was apparently purged in some car-cleaning frenzy; didn't notice until recently, of course, looked everywhere … why is proof of registration necessary anyway in this stupid age of magnetic strips and wired police cars?

I wonder

What Marcie Miller Gross thinks about this installation.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Once when I moved

Humans used to, we are led to believe, migrate from place to place as animals. Soulful, of course - let's not become unChristian - these beings eventually grew into "better" ways of being.

We can't say "evolved," since we're being unDarwinly, but I believe either way, they have come into their true nature.

Yes, I was forged in a Western philosophical tradition.

Moving one's house and/or home:

if all one has is that pot*, the bedding, the know-how to recreate the structure from readily and "free" elements, then walking to a new location when the fancy strikes or the weather threatens is relatively easy;

if one has 100 pounds of transformed trees containing memories ("knowledge") we can't hold exclusively in our minds, seven or eight or nine sheet sets (one acquired, the rest donated toward or found at recycle shops, two sets of four-to-12 place settings (thank goodness for dropping them over the years, eh?), as well as FURNITURE, artwork that's also not internalized like the poetry of Homer, troubadors, griots, etc.; then one has problems.

The scenery of our lives, whether piles and piles of "junk," with only a foot-wide aisle of space between, or the collected items that somehow retain emotional energy, or the bare, scroungy minimum of what contemporary Americans think they need to "survive," it all takes on such another hue when one moves.

Six years ago, I became activist-journalist and (no doubt feeling hindered by my Catholic upbringing) helped a chronically down-and-out couple move from a super-substandard apartment to someplace else slightly less sub-standard. Actually, I only did the shuttling of TV and other favored things of theirs to the storage facility, which had one-month's free rent due to an ad trade between the newspaper and the übercloset.

Despite the way she was always acting like she had PMS, breaking down into weeping at any stressful revelation, C. was quite usual in that she could not stand to lose the things for which she had fought so ardently.

This is a woman who went to weekend jail out in some other county (talk about transportation hardship) for not paying child support to her daughter, who was at the time over 21 and brainwashed, it would seem, to believing her father's lies about C. At least that's what she told me; it's what I would write down while she went on and on over the phone when she'd call me at work.

Anyway, she was quite cogent about how relationships worked.

Also, she was sharp about most other things.

I haven't heard from her in forever, and I suspect that the man she was with back then, whom she married a few years back, has gone through with the cheating, as has she, and they are no longer a pair. It's amazing that there is someone for everyone and again and again and again, no matter how scraggly ones hair, how poor ones track record.

The man is a Vietnam vet, if that helps clarify the pathology. C. on the other hand, seems as though she was coerced by bad habits from childhood into making crummy choices.

Point, when someone with hardly anything and who is bitching about rats, roaches, sketchy electricity and bad landlords cries about her cat, her coat, her couch, it provides a contrast to one who "has everything," who eschews the television (an unsolicited donation) and looks at the staples of her possessions stacked everywhere and in her head (visualizing the storage space three floors below and never visited) and looks at everything upon having to expend tons of energy and maybe even money on getting them from point A to a very near point B (in aborigional terms) as a cause for "re-evaluating" life.

That's where I am today.

I have all this stuff, that, while insured, I have to convince myself not to leave behind.

Part of it is that I do not believe in landfills.

When non-agricultural people (certainly not the post-industrial who are thinking, "if only I could scan all these books and just keep them on CD or harddrive. . .) get up and go, that which is left behind is biodegradeable and quite small.

Our DNA is the same; I want so much to just let it go.

Buddha has a point, but I also feel so guilty for all the detruis I have collected. It was not necessarily deliberate. I try now to take little (but clothes! always with the clothes!) from the manufacturers, but I used to take plenty, and things actually last longer than one's interest in them, despite planned obsolescence.

*not that kind

This just heard

I can't avoid repeating this:  "stabbed her with a broken crack pipe."

Good gracious.

(The stabbed person, who "had been robbed before and vowed not to have it happen again," chased after the people who snatched her purse from their place behind her in a line at 7-Eleven.  She was waiting to cash in a $10 lottery ticket.  Oh, these are good times.)

20 degree average

I don't like living here in January.

We all just got poorer

This should make all you salaried stiffs out there who got stiffed on raises and bonuses and holiday parties in 2008 feel 100% better about when you eventually get fired and wander over to retail:  the minimum wage in Missouri is now $7.05.

Am I a conservative to be cranky to note that the 6-percent increase is tied to the consumer price index … which always goes up, of course?  Am I going to have to pay $1.07 before sales tax for that one McDonald's sausage biscuit I will eat in February?


Good to know where you're going, isn't it?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Why I can't get anywhere

*Allusions and symbolism do not include "barefoot and pregnant."

Dear journalist:

How am I supposed to make sense out of this:

"The offensive focused on northern Gaza, where most of the rockets are fired into Israel, but at least one incursion was reported in the southern part of the strip. Hamas uses smuggling tunnels along the southern border with Egypt to bring in weapons.

"Ground forces did not enter major Gaza towns and cities, instead fighting in rural communities and open areas militants often use to launch rockets and mortar rounds.

"Israel launched the air campaign against Gaza on Dec. 27 with the
aim of halting incessant rocket fire on its south. The operation appears to have slowed but not halted the rocket fire."

Friday, January 02, 2009


Autumn 2007:  got a nibble on the end of my line, which had been cast into the job-pond a dozen times in seven years without any bites. The fish was extremely attractive when I pulled it up; it was almost mythical in status, and like that Chinese carp of gold, it promised to grant me exactly what I had wished for.

I remember certain qualities of scale and sliminess, in scales and texture, that today, a planet-revolution later, have proven to be true impressions. Would that the little girl had looked more closely at the teeth looming behind the luminescent lure, she would not have been munched so whole-heartedly as Jonah.

And, spit out 13 months later, tattered, bleached, weary and yet wiser, she finds solace in the imperfect symmetry of seashells and in the fact that she can trust her first impressions much better now.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Tous les jours

You can't say there's nothing to do.

A new site on the sidebar, ArtKC365, launched today and aims to offer a full year's-worth of artists and artwork from our area that can be seen in person (at least) that day.

I'm wishing Steve much luck … off to a great start!

The wind is blowing the wind chimes

Purpose meets action. Function occurs without conflict. A certain amount of friction, dust that scathes metal tubes tuned to notes unknown by the untutored, does slow the music down, but for the most part, the part-to-part self-clanging sounds like it's happening as it should.

Would that we all fulfilled our design.

Today is the traditional one for those in my culture to make resolutions.

In debate, a resolution is a stance.

Resolution is only a letter away from revolution, and "'V'" for victory" was minted from a manual insult into a Nike expression during World War II (probably; I am hiring fact-checkers, by the way; by the way, there is no pay : )

Revolving around the sun, the earth changes its speed from time to time.

And this year is a bit longer.  Conveniently, the length is a solid second.  It pays to wait for things to round out to logical increments.

A premonition upon birth that this sort of non-dream would occur … 77 years is only one lifetime.  What a repetitive cycle.

Standing at a spot the cell phone reports to a Garmin-industries' or competitors' satellite, each willing complier is complacently trying to maintain a falsehood called progress.

Writing in the third person proves difficult for those I manage, including myself.

We are in an age far beyond the once avant-garde stream of consciousness style pioneered more than a century ago* by people whose lives and attitudes still seem familiar to us, we who are supposedly four years away from magnetic armageddon.

We find it nearly impossible to view anything except through the lens of our individuality.

Self-indulgent, self-reflexive creepy creatures who can't hold onto a commitment, fact or virtue for more than a fortnight — we pretend that the resetting of arbitrary numbers back to 01-01-something-cumulatively-sequential means something.

Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah, etc. — our human itch to renew when magic numbers align or the planet rotates to receive a full moon at a particular point is ________ (judgment reserved).

I also hold close my personal 2009 to-do list.  It's going on real paper.  I may report results as the months go by, but peer pressure will not be a factor in my achieving of "goals."  If the self is not motivated enough, all the WiiFit or drill sergeant goading, all the advice from friends, from the law, the Bible, etc. will not matter.

Other people post their most intimate life details to a public and semi-universally accessible virtual bulletin board, which has unknown but conceivably "limitless" copying and storage capacity. **

I know more about a high school friend's fetus than that of my first cousin, who lives in the same city, because of the former's choice to post ultrasound images and scientific facts joyfully to Facebook.

Bloggers who use full names, full-face photos and traceable life details are brave or foolish.  Sex lives, lies about the performance of cars for sale, about motivation for quitting a job, about addictions, family problems, abuse, co-workers … it's sharing that makes for good reading but questionable psychology.

Is psychology on the list?

Incidentally, my mom said she and ___ agreed I was not organized.  Of course, this strikes me as interesting, since I would describe the malfunction as procrastination.

Ready to be put off until the last minute, it's all quite itemized … it's not forgotten or out of place in the queue.  I was not able to find out what it was I was failing to deliver as a result of this disorganization problem, however.

Oh, but that I could tell you what I do know I suck at, where my shortcomings are the equivalent of stepping off a ledge that was shorter than expected and crashing your incisors into concrete at foot-level.

Bonne année.

Wish me victory.***

*SoC was coined as a word in 1855.
**Whether the will to hold "forever" all that data exists=?
***et bonne chance …