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Friday, August 30, 2013

Critical Mass

Generally speaking, it is deeply lame to show up to Critical Mass in a car, but I've found that bypass surgery gets you a small pass on that front.

I would have blown this one off but Corinna needed to leaflet the crowd for the upcoming mental health 'discussion' Concensus KC is doing. On the way there, Mo had a seizure in the car, so I doubly would have blown it off if I wouldn't have been stranding my wife.

It was good to see folks, though. The day had been hot, 102ºF, and people didn't seem that amped to ride, more like they were waiting for the weather to break. That might be Monday, and I think Sunfresh's security people will say something if the whole gang tries to hangout drinking beer until then.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I'd heard about the legendary Monday night kickball game off Roanoke, but somehow I'd never been.

I knew some of the regulars from Critical Mass, the Three O'Clock Ride, and just around.

Somehow on Mondays if I stop and socialize on my ride home, it's most generally at Friz on the Plaza. I love those guys, but I don't really play Friz even before bypass surgery took me off the bike for a few months.

I'm not agile enough to pick up the Friz from the saddle when it falls on the ground, and I'm not all that much a fan of riding around on grass anyway. Plus, I've been told my bike is too nice for Friz: I quote F.C., "Phil hubs and 719 rims, you don't want to break a bunch of $3 spokes out here." Joel amended this with the comment, "Cheapest wheelset wins."

I only have a Phil hub on my front wheel, the back is Velocity, but I do have nice, handmade wheels on my daily driver, and no I don't want to have them rebuilt sooner rather than later.

I suspect that by not getting into the thick of it I could avoid any real danger, but the game itself isn't all that appealing to me and doesn't really play to my physical strengths.

Kickball, on the other hand, I haven't played it in over 30 years but I think I still remember how to get picked last. I was tempted to try and play just under five weeks post-op on the bypass, it just looked fun. Give me a little more time to heal, I'm going to have to give it a try.

Anyway, it was great to see a few friends I don't see so much since I'm off the bike, met a few new-to-me characters to boot.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gardner History Museum

After the baptism we bailed on, we decided to go let my oldest daughter wait on us. She's taken her first job, waitress at The Downtowner in Gardner.

It was a fine lunch, I could tell she was really working hard at it.

I think I would have enjoyed it more two or three months ago, there's something about a diner menu after bypass surgery. There's not a lot of options on the cardiac diet, and those options are probably the least desirable items on the menu.

I wanted bacon, biscuits and gravy, a burger, maybe fried chicken. Or chicken fried steak. I had a grilled chicken sandwich instead, and it wasn't nearly as inspired as Corinna and Mo's choices, which were unencumbered by cardiac diet restrictions.

After, I figured to give both my daughters a ride back to their mother's, rather than drive all the way back to KCK and boomerang back to Gardner a few hours later. Em didn't want a ride home but I insisted, and we went to the historical museum on Main to kill an hour on her behalf.

I lived in this town for thirteen or fourteen years and never managed to visit this joint, but it was pretty cool.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I think this is some sort of PR or ad agency, but what a cool name and logo.

Sunday Afternoon in the Park

I hadn't been out to Heartland's baptism service before.

Actually, I signed up to get dunked two years ago and was going to ride out to Kill Creek Park for the occasion, but when I got the call from Joe (great guy) to talk me through what to expect, he said something to the effect of, "...and then they'll ask you if you give your life to Christ and promise to follow him always, you'll say 'I do...'"

And something inside me sunk a little. I'm closer to there than I've been in my adult life. I'd been a dyed in the wool atheist from I think age four or so to somewhere in my early 30s. Then more agnostic, and after my divorce, Heartland made a place for Mo and she craves routine so I had to decide whether to go to church every week or never and I chose pretty much every week.

Then after I met Corinna, and heard God's voice for the first, second, third and I think fourth time, my agnosticism got a lot less agnostic.

But somehow that didn't put me in the water.

This year, we got there kind of late and had to park at the top of the hill, carry our stuff down. Between Corinna's brain injury, Mo's autism, my recent heart surgery, this was quite a march. By the time we got down there I was beyond grumpy, really ready to just bail out. I mustered a second wind to go take some pictures (obviously) but I really couldn't get into the event. When Corinna allowed that she wouldn't mind leaving early I went and got the car, no questions.

Maybe next year. This year, even if I'd felt it, I'm forbidden by my cardiothoracic from getting in lakes or even bath tubs while my wounds heal up.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pickled Peppers

The kosher dills turned out really well, and I had over a gallon of excess brine when I jarred them up. The lactic acid is already there from fermenting the cukes, so I reasoned it'd be pretty good for pickling peppers, too. I harvested a quart jar full of Jalapeños, Yellow Lunchbox, Orange Lunchbox, Red Lunchbox and I think pepperoncinis. Some of these peppers have more heat than others (the Lunchbox varieties are described as sweet peppers, but I think I've gotten some heat out of some of them). But the nice thing about pickling these together is those heat levels of the hot ones should mellow out as capsaicin leeches out into the brine, and kind of average out in the jar.

I think. I don't know, this is my first quart of pickled peppers, I may find out using dill-laden brine is a mistake with these. I sliced off the stem ends so the brine could soak into the hollow parts of the peppers (and so the whole of anything in the jar is edible). Also, not sure about with peppers but with cukes I read that the stems contain an enzyme that softens the pickles, so maybe the peppers will retain some crispness this way. Again, uncharted waters for me so I guess I'll see what I get.


Better late than never, I hope. Meant to get these broken down into jars and in the fridge on day four. but as it happened it was more like six days from when I brined these cukes.

They taste fantastic, with a lactic rather than acetic acid character, a lot of garlic flavor and just a touch of heat from a couple of jalapeños and a couple of Thai chillies in the brine. I'm tempted to take some of the leftover brine and make a quart of pickled jalapeños from our garden.

Three or four cukes had gone mushy and were discarded, but the rest had pretty decent crunch and a really good kosher dill flavor. Fitting all eight jars of them in the fridge was a trick, I may try making a smaller batch next time. Corinna thought slicing them into spears would make them lose their crunch quicker, and I don't know one way or the other so some jars have whole cukes and some jars have spears. You can fit more spears in a jar, that's for sure.

You can see my recipe in the link above, I would say for my taste you cannot use too much garlic and you could probably up the hot pepper count, maybe double it or a little more.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Next Exit, Naik, Avik

I've seen the tag 'NAIK' pretty far and wide in the KC metro. Under the bridge I got married on, on a bike trail down by Red Bridge, not sure where else. And I've seen 'AVIK' in the Secret Concrete Canyon.

I don't think of these tags as vandalism, they are art. Public art, a gift from the artist. Most of the places these things show up are pretty ugly and in need of some beautification, or at least something interesting.

I guess I have mixed feelings about this, uh, installation. When I saw these highway signs I knew I had to loop back and photograph them if I wanted to capture the image: the time it will take the appropriate department of transportation to replace these signs could be measured in hours. I suppose that makes it vandalism for real, but I have to admire the balls it takes to hang out on a freeway sign over fast moving cars and get your tag up.

I'm sure the marked up signs will be taken to some sign graveyard, I sure wish I could get there and retrieve them to hang in my garden.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Downtown Tags

I was overdue for an oil change, took the car to Vee Village and asked if I could wait on one. I know, there's quick change places, but I really like Vee Village and trust them to take good care of the Black Box (my '06 Scion xB).

To kill time, I figured I'd take a stroll with my Nikon and look for tags I haven't documented in the downtown/Crossroads area.

I didn't have to go far to find stuff, maybe not new (some of it dated 2010 and visibly faded) but new to my camera. I think I noticed that faded old stuff a year or so ago and hadn't gotten around to shooting it. The way it goes in a car a lot of times, you see something so quick and it seems to far to go back when you realized you want to photograph it.

Much easier by bike, the time it takes your brain to process, you haven't even left sight of the thing you want to document.

On foot, really, it's the opposite problem, you see a glimpse of something and have to decide if it's worth the effort to walk far enough to check it out.

I think I managed about a little better than a mile walking, maybe one and a quarter. I was done for, had to go sit in the air conditioning at Vee Village and wait on my car. Still, I got all these great tags.

Oh, and these great benches outside the Kansas City Scar building, hunks of stone made to look like bundles of newspapers.

I was at a meeting with Corinna this morning where the question was asked, what art could be brought in to an event that said 'Kansas City' and I was like, obviously, bring in Sike, Quisp, Feminine, Scribe, etc., and have them prop up big sheets of plywood and go to town. Let the conference participants tag up, too, if they wanted to.