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Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I've never eaten here, but I sure do like their totem.

Monday, May 30, 2011


I spotted this in front of someone's house on the way home the other day. I'd bailed off the interstate to dodge gridlock and just sort of stumbled on it.

I think my gridlock tolerance has eroded now that I've had a taste of bicycle commuting. Distances and kids to transport still dictate the car for me about half the time, but the car does indeed feel like a cage when the traffic stacks up on I-435.

The dragon is awesome, though I'd paint it if it was mine. And I think I want to make one out of old car parts or something like that instead of casting it out of concrete.

My friend Robert the Psychic really should get one of these for his front yard, put it between the troll skulls and goony birds.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I see this truck around town from time to time. I wonder if it's just a huge Superman fan or a relative of George Reeves or what.

A visit to the website on the tailgate of the truck doesn't resolve any of the mystery for me.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Black Snake

I spotted this snake when I got home, and went to take his picture. And he did something I've never seen a snake do. He climbed a tree.

I guess I didn't know they could do that. Not sure if he was going to climb it anyway or if he didn't like me taking his picture.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Broil & Pray

Corinna and I approach cooking slightly differently, me taking a lot more time (what she calls 'cheffery') and her using a faster technique I've dubbed 'dump & stir.'

I haven't given up my cheffery, but I have to admit the end results tend to be about the same.

She decided to try broiling the ingredients we normally throw into the skillet, drizzling it with some chamoy sauce, and calling it 'Broil & Pray.'

It worked, but I think Broil & Pray tastes an awful lot like Dump & Stir.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Night Shot

I stopped to retrieve a couple of items that bounced out of a bag going over the railroad tracks and decided to try some long exposures. I think this one was worth the effort.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bike to Work Week

I'm not too impressed with the event, I bike to work every week, as much as other responsibilities permit. Average two to three round trips, which shaves about 120-180 miles off my car's odometer.

And since I've started doing that, lots of other errands get done on the bike. My rough estimate is I'm not driving about 800 miles a month that I used to while getting the same amount of shit done.

Anyway, one of the alternate routes I tried to get back to Corinna's house, I saw a sign directing me to Thomas Hart Benton's house. Not the political hack, the artist.

The joint was closed but I took this shot of my bike in front of Benton's across-the-street neighbor. I wonder, how many McMansion owners out in JoCo have ever even seen the Valentine neighborhood to see what conspicuous consumption looks like when you combine it with some taste?

Old Schwinn

Spotted this bike at the QT on Southwest Boulevard on the way home the other day. This is one of the models/vintages I have an eye out for. You can sometimes find them on eBay for real money, but more often someone sells them at an estate sale for $20 after finding it in Uncle Chester's basement, un-ridden for decades.

The entry level Schwinns from this era are truly heavy, but their high end stuff were some of the best steel frames ever made. Lugged construction, butted tubes, etc.

Sure a new Rivendell would be great, but I'll take a $20 Paramount and get new derailleurs and whatnot put on it and get there for a tenth the price.

And taking a closer look at this bike, while the tires appear to be Nixon era, the derailleur still has New Bike Smell.

I failed to locate the owner of this fine ride, but a kindred spirit was definitely in the vicinity.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Alleycat & the Other Blue Cheese

Corinna organized this Alleycat as a part of Bike For the Brain and, well, one thing and another...

Unseasonably cool weather probably scared off one or two fair weather riders; Rockfest was going on; it was too early in the morning for most of the Cool Kids; there was another cycling event that day that was probably more appealing to your average roadie.

The nice thing about under-attended events is the swag-to-rider ration gets really favorable. And we had fun holding hands across Missouri (the event that dictated the ridiculously early start, before the crack of Noon), and while the one rider who showed up nominally won the riding contest and Em, by default, the pedestrian one, Corinna is planning to reschedule it for an evening when we can get a field to really compete. She has the manifest already worked out, the only problem is the spoke cards I made have the date on them.

So date to be announced, y'all come to the mulligan for this event, alright?

Then, after we didn't race, we went over to the drop-in center at Truman for the spaghetti lunch. We were all hungry, and the food was good, but this was a meal intended for fifty people and we were five. Even with help from people using the center, we ended up carting off an embarrassment of leftovers.

I was impressed by how Em reacted to the joint. This drop-in center is basically a facility for the mentally ill: a few of these folks behave and speak in ways that are just about guaranteed to make you uncomfortable until you have a chance to get used to it. Reading Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidempic I have to wonder how much of that is illness and how much is side-effect, but Em didn't just take it in stride, she really seemed to enjoy the people she met there.

The sign on the building calls it 'behavioral health' as if psychosis were just a bad lifestyle decision. I'll grant you, some bad lifestyle decisions lead to debilitating mental illnesses, but it's a bit of a stretch to call, say, a command hallucination a 'behavior.'

I'm sure 'behavioral health' is a big improvement over 'asylum' or 'booby hatch' from a stigmatization standpoint. And the place offers some really important amenities like a few bays of computers where someone can check their email, fill out only job applications, etc., shower facilities, and a place to get a square meal.

Anyway, from there we had to get to Em's high school for her choir concert and I had pizza to make for dinner. Corinna did some grocery shopping and her pick for a high-protein pizza topping turned out to be a small pork roast. I have this grill, a 'brazier' according to its label, that my Dad used when I was growing up, and it has a rotisserie setup. So I rolled the dice and put the roast on a spit over coals while we went to the concert.

The concert was very good but on the long side. Or maybe it seemed that way because my kid's numbers were over at the beginning. And then, there was an awful lot of chatter in the audience, a pet peeve of mine. I sometimes wonder if people don't even really realize that a theater is not like a TV in the living room: there's more than just you and nobody can pause or rewind shit.

The motor spinning the spit fell while we were gone, so the roast was rather unevenly done when we got back, but I was able to finish it under the broiler while heating the pizza stone.

Kind of a late supper, but the pork when on a purple crust with Alfredo sauce and there was a plain cheese on blue crust. Since I've actually used bleu cheese as a pizza topping this visual bothered me: how can you have a plain blue cheese pizza? Next time I'll have to get a nice ripe Gorgonzola to put on this color of crust, maybe with bacon, figs and caramelized onions. Haven't made that one in way too long.

Flirting with Friz

I stopped in the park to check out the Friz one fine Monday, decided to take a crack at it.

It's a skill, riding on grass. I suppose it was lazy of me to not strip my panniers off.

I managed to catch the Frisbee a couple of times, barely. But I seemed to catch it left handed and realized after throwing it badly that I should have switched it to my right hand first.

I had the impression that this was, basically, a game of catch. The structure is very, very loose (for awhile some of the riders decided the object of the game was to throw the disc down hard instead of making a catchable pass).

I guess the object of the game is something akin to polo played with bicycles and a Frisbee.

When I started, about half the crew were having a beer, and after a few minutes they came out to the middle of the field and played Rock/Paper/Scissors. They repeated it a few times until they got an agreeable combination. I asked what this had decided, and was told 'Teams.'

There's teams?

There were six riders besides me, so I guess if I had been a rock or a paper, I would have made a team lopsided. Since I can't pick the disc up (this must be done while riding; I'd break my neck), can barely catch and throw badly, I would be a pure liability. The randomness of the team picking is very appealing to me as the kid who was invariably picked last for every recess team sport ever. If they'd used Rock/Paper/Scissors at South Park Elementary, maybe I wouldn't have grown up hating sports so much.

I'm told, though, that skill and aptitude are not requirements, so I rode around in the grass and failed to make any impact on the score, if there were any points scored while I was there.

Eventually, Nixon asked me which team I was on, and I really didn't know and I wanted to get home and eat, so I bailed out.

Nixon had her tomato plants in a bob trailer, and I was struck that only two or three plants seems enough for most people. I'm not even content to stick to two or three varieties.

I think I'm going to have to keep dabbling in the Friz, though. Sucking at chess hasn't stopped me from playing over 1700 games of it on GameKnot in the past few years. My stats never get better, but I never quit playing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rays / Conduit

Outside Lowe's, we saw the sun setting through the clouds and producing those rays I've never photographed successfully before.

After building the frames and otherwise preparing for the Great Tomatocide (when, a few days later, we transplanted 31 tomatoes and 12 peppers, the compost turned out to be catastrophically hot, killing everything), we went for a ride.

Time was when the gardening we did would have wiped me out by itself, but as it was I doubt I could have fallen asleep without fifteen to twenty miles, minimum.

Stopped off and said hi to my friend Mich. Saw horses and someone else doing the raised beds on a big scale. The livestock you see in suburban KCK is always a bit surprising to me. It's barely suburban, we were riding down the hill to a sprawling rail yard, and KCK's diminutive downtown was less than a half hour away by bike.

It's like riding in the country except with leash laws.

We stopped at the Grintner house, too, but mainly we were on our way to the Conduit Graveyard. Corinna found it the week before. It's one of those things everybody else I know (including myself) tend to miss.

They really should make these more accessible to the public. The effect is, I'm sure, accidental but still beautiful and awesome.

I suspect it costs more to smash these things up than their recycled components will pay back, so in a place where land is cheap there's not even a big reason to stack them up. Naturally, I want to build a model of Stonehenge out of them, stack them two or three high. Or with a little work to bob off protruding rebar, you could make tunnels through a park, a labyrinth kids and adults alike could enjoy.

Corinna thought permanent low income housing would be the logical use for them, stack them in bridge underpasses and whatnot. Of course, that would require us, as a society, to acknowledge that there are homeless people who will choose to camp over staying at a flophouse even when it's single-digit cold, and to also decriminalize that way of life.

I know we don't really have vagrancy laws of the sort George Orwell documented in Down and Out in Paris and London, but given that we routinely arrest squatters and bulldoze their accommodations, I doubt these old storm sewers are likely to be showing up where indigents could visibly utilize them.

Not that I think my more artistic vision is any likelier to be embraced.

I wonder if there isn't some other use things like this could be put to. Reestablishing oyster beds in polluted bays, restoring eroded barrier islands, and sheltering reefs, I bet as a nation we have tens of thousands of these concrete Legos that could easily be barged down our rivers and deployed usefully.

Or we can just let weeds grow up in them and keep them just for intrepid cyclists, hikers and the odd tagger. There wasn't much graffiti in the conduits, really. I guess the privacy they afford (it'd be almost impossible to get caught at it) is also the downside, you don't have much of an audience for the finished art.

Though if we did the labyrinth in the park thing, it'd be an awesome canvas for characters like Scribe...

Sunday, May 22, 2011


My neighbor was putting on a new roof. DIYing it from the look of things.

And since they were working into the night and causing a bit of a ruckus, I found myself outside with nothing better to do than try to photograph it with a really long shutter.

Itchy & Scratchy Show

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I had to add my own modest addition to the graffiti on this box. I guess a sticker I made isn't really graffiti, it's some other kind of tag.


These tinker toys were on display outside the theater we saw The Mission Continues presentation at.