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Friday, September 30, 2011

The Next Level

Robert the Psychic told me I should stop by, he'd taken the neolithic cathedral to 'the next level.'

Sure enough, deep in the Dork Forest, there's now a wizard on a stone casting spells from beneath a vault of enormous bones.

They're cow bones. Real cow bones.

I guess the demon skulls are 'real,' too, insofar as your hand won't pass through them, they're not holograms.

Robert said his brother gave him the cow bones, which caused me to form a new mental picture. I visited Robert when he was waking his deceased mother, so I guess I knew he didn't spring to life whole from the ether or get deposited at a Greyhound station by a flying saucer.

He's moved his guard birds up to the roof because the Kansas City Scar delivery kept knocking them over.

And he's bought some sort of weathervane, though it doesn't turn in the wind so he says he's not sure what it really is.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


The Great Tomatocide of 2011 was caused by hot, salty compost. Lost a combined total of about fifty plants due to the compost still being very active and hot and having an unusually high salt content (that latter fact got us a refund for the four yards).

But the cucumbers we planted for our fall garden in what had been the premature graves of a half dozen tomato plants were doing great, spreading out on the SRM film left behind from the earlier transplants. I just treated each hole in the film as a mound and put a few seeds in each.

Then, seemingly overnight, they just died. To all appearances they were scalded to death or something.

These bugs, I take it, carry some sort of Mad Cucumber Disease or something like that.
Organic gardening is all good and well, but I think next year I'm going to do some judicious spraying.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Surprise, Roj!

I made a card for Roger's 40th birthday with a grim reaper. Not really that original, but it's a great graphic. Used it once before on a birthday card, in fact.

But I got a great shot of the scoring process, what keeps the back of the card from cracking when it's folded.

Anyway, the whole idea was a surprise party planned by his sister. But she was worried he'd sniff it out because, she says, he can read her mind.

She hadn't realized it was the second day of Bike MS that she'd picked. But the whole plan came together to tell him it was a Bike MS after-party for the Dread Pirates team.

Then Day Two of Bike MS got canceled for weather, so then Julie's worst fear was he'd just go home.

The dude never saw it coming. His parents were in masks (it was a costume party), and when he recognized some friends he chalked it up to a coincidence that they were at the same park.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Lesson

I learned a lesson when my car was stolen. The Club: it's not all that hard to defeat, and if a real thief wants your car, it is forfeit Club and all, but at least you won't be the softest target on the street.

Painful lesson, even if you are driving around in a 13 year old car with 225,000 miles.

I don't know if the person who learned the lesson about locking frame to wheel on Southwest Boulevard lost a nice bike or not. Lots of people leave very expensive bikes unattended in Kansas City with nothing more than a kickstand holding them in place, so normally I'd say this person's lock job would have been adequate.

The way having my Honda locked was adequate for probably 1800 nights preceding the night it Bermuda Triangulated on me.

But even if it wasn't a nice bike, even if it was a piece of shit, it was somebody's bike and even if it made for some cool street photography, I'm sorry they had to learn it this way. At minimum, both wheels and frame need to be locked to something permanent or heavier than one person can lift.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Another Shot of IOU USA

From the Scout.

Dancing in the Street

We were just out for a walk in the neighborhood one fine September evening and heard music. There was a block party going on, great Mexican snacks to be had, people dancing to a band, the works.

I inquired what the occasion was, and it turns out it was El Grito de la Independencia. The Mexican equivalent of the Fourth of July, though apparently fireworks don't figure in to it so much.

Yeah, I know. I thought Cinco de Mayo was their Independence Day, too.

Then, at the butcher counter, when I asked for some chicharrĂ³n de cerdo, bistek suave and queso fresco, stating a preference for El Mexicano brand rather than FUD* for the latter, the butcher asked me if I was married to a Mexican. He wasn't the regular butcher, or he'd know exactly who my significant other is, but I was surprised by the question.

Nope, I said. This is just the best fresh, cheap food in walking distance from my fiance's house.

He then told me he had another customer who was married to a Mexican, but knew no Spanish. To make this customer even more interesting, the butcher told me the wife barely has any English. They must have the most spectacularly entertaining fights.

*True story: FUD is an acronym for
Fino, Unico y Delicioso, Spanish for "Refined, Unique & Delicious." I don't know if El Mexicano is any less 'refined' but it tastes and crumbles better.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Less Than Epic

I was going to try and ride a century for my birthday. Past couple of years, I did a mile for every year, but I wanted to do more than a 42 miler. I had to skip Bike MS this year and I hadn't had a truly long ride since Memorial Day weekend, when I did 108 fully loaded to Big Lake.

I also had a pretty serious list of errands I needed to run if I was taking the day off work, and between sleeping in (which was a glorious birthday gift to myself, thank me very much) and stopping to attend to business I only managed 64 miles.

Gallmeyer came with, and that slowed things down a bit, too, as he had errands to run as well. And Brian doesn't live in time anyway: he'd have gleefully finished 100+ miles with me, but we'd have finished in the middle of the night and I had to work the next day.

And he's good company. I probably could have made the century riding solo, but it wouldn't have been nearly as fun.

To my surprise, Brian led me on some trails I hadn't ridden, one I didn't even realize was there. I've ridden the street parallel to it many times, never realized there was also a trail running up Tomahawk Creek Parkway. Since it was the middle of a weekday, there weren't a bunch of pedestrians choking it up, so we made great time what with not having to stop at intersections.

He also showed me a good east/west route through southern Johnson County I didn't know.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Art Car

So I was taking pictures of this car when the car's owner showed up.

I'd heard about this car, especially back when I put the coffee mug on the roof of the original childsupportmobile.

The thing about having a mug on the roof, it was new to the people who noticed it, but after awhile, I was like, 'Uh, yeah, that. Glued on, thanks for your concern.' To the guys who jumped out at stoplights. To the highway patrol officers who pulled me over to rescue a mug they could have figured wouldn't hang on at 70 mph.

Earnie, the owner of this car, doesn't get pulled over by folks who think he mistakenly forgot he had a village on his roof.

He's also very modest about his vehicle, an 80s vintage Honda. "There's art cars everywhere," he said, as if you saw one of these for every shiny new Prius or F-150.

Ernie is from Staten Island, and he is also very religious. His faith is the main inspiration for the art on his car, and it's the part he's most eager to explain. He spent quit a bit of time on how he carved up a 'God Bless America' bumper sticker because he thought it was backwards: America has a duty, in Ernie's view, to bless God.

He's not shy, too, about his views on the economy. I take it Ernie got the short end of the big Economic Downturn and isn't entirely enjoying our high-budget sequel to the Great Depression.

And you can call it a great recession or a double-dip recession, but I think historians will call this America's second Great Depression. Or if we're in really bad luck, our second Long Recession. Not our second overall, because the one everyone thinks of as the big one wasn't our first by a long shot. See 1807, 1815, 1873...

And maybe Ernie is wise to focus much more on the divine, those market externalities that make the car you drive or the paycheck you earn seem trivial no matter how much you earn or how well you've expressed yourself artistically with your car.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What a Choice

What a depressing restaurant. This is their whole menu as far as I can tell. I guess they don't offer IRS audits or terminal illnesses.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


For Labor Day, we went to the Liberty Memorial, to the World War I Museum after Bike 4 the Brain.

I hadn't been in years, but as cool as the museum was, I was more excited about the installation just south of the Memorial, IOU USA.

It's stationed, appropriately enough, right by the Federal Reserve building. I heard a bit on NPR today (9/21/11) about the Fed and how back in Volker's day they got threatening notes written on 2x4's sent by builders pissed off at Volker's policies.

It was then explained that this was part of why today, Bernanke holds press conferences to spin what he's doing in a positive light.

This was all presented with an underlying bias that the Fed is doing what is best for us all and the lack of transparency of the 1970s made people paranoid.

But transparency only goes so far. If I pick your pocket, or burglarize your home while you're away, is it worse than if I steal your shit right before your eyes?

The Federal Reserve system, really all central banks that impose a fiat currency on an economy, is the sort of thing that, if regular folks understand what they're doing, they'll line up outside the central bank with pitchforks and torches ready to hang some central banking assholes. Don't believe me? Ask anyone in Greece, or for that matter, the Eurozone.

I fear I'm being diatriabolical, but money is a marker of value — any effort to manipulate its value outside the market is fraudulent and, as a policy, doomed.

Anyway, hopefully our present crisis won't lead us to a world war or something idiotic like that. It seems far flung, I know, but the Memorial's refresher course on the causes of The Great War reminds me that a little stupid goes a long, long ways.

Complacently assuming another world war is impossible is like assuming that after 1929, they figured out what caused bubbles and made some rules so shit like that couldn't happen again in 2007. Which was exactly what my Daddy told me when I was growing up, that those speculators buying stocks on margins thinner than runway models taught us all a lesson and it'd never happen again.

It occurred to me, all the people who compare Obama to Jimmy Carter* as if that was the worst possible President to mimic, what if he's another Woodrow Wilson instead?

I'm not sure what my kids got out of the museum, or for that matter, the IOU USA installation. By the time we got to it, they were cranky and wanted to go home. When I was their age, it was common knowledge that at any moment the bomb could drop. And the guys in charge of one side apparently drank vodka at their desks of a morning.

As far as a little stupid going a long ways, I've wondered lately about the whole climate change question. I've never drunk that particular Monkey Wrench Gang flavored Kool-Aid, but there were folks in the mid-19th century who knew buffalo were about to go extinct who still saddled up to hunt the last few head. Are their modern equivalents driving crew cab pickups and SUVs to the Whole Foods to get a quart of organic milk?

*Jimmy Carter is my favorite ex-President. I'm not a fan of any modern president while in office, but at least Jimmy has made himself useful in retirement.