Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Toast


To all the devils, lusts, passions, greeds, envies, loves, hates, strange desires, enemies ghostly and real, the army of memories, with which I do battle — may they never give me peace.

-- Patricia Highsmith (New Year’s Eve Toast, 1947)

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Oh Hobbesy Night

I'll be perfectly honest with you, guys. I'm a bit Scrooged this year. Work has been more work than usual, and definitely more work than I prefer.

But, you don't want to hear about that right now. Buck up! Get in the spirit of the holidays!

Well, okay. This is the best I can do.



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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Instant Carma's gonna get you

Well we got our first snow of the season today.

Wasn't much. Barely measurable by any means other than the sight of a white glaze it left all over everything. By noon it was gone. The only thing left was the memory of the kids' morning excitement of actual snow on the ground.

That and the severely scarred tree near my office.

Because, even though the snow wasn't much to look at (or maybe even because it wasn't much to look at), it still caused some pretty sever traffic problems. Some say drivers always freak out during the season's first snowfall. That there is a seasonal learning curve for which we all have to adjust each year and during which we realize that we can't drive a slick snowy street the same way we drive the hot sticky pavement of July.

But I think today's snow had a slightly more icy character than one would normally expect, which made it deceptively slick. That in turn makes it even more important than usual not to drive like a total entitled douche.

That is a lesson the jerkoff driver who ended up sliding into the aforementioned severely scarred tree near my office presumably still hasn't learned.

From my vantage point at the front of the left turn lane (waiting for my signal to turn), I saw the entire incident. The light turned yellow, then red. The driver of the dented green pickup in the far right lane was already speeding when he hit the accelerator to beat the red light. Just after making it through the intersection, his redneckmobile began to slide. He over corrected, executed a graceful 360-degree turn, hopped the curb and slammed his passenger-side front quarter panel into the young tree.

The tree itself shuttered mightily, but withstood the strike of the pickup. Fortunately, there were no pedestrians on the sidewalk — a silver lining for the frigid morning temps — or they surely would have been killed (or worse).

After taking a few seconds to collect himself, the driver got out, surveyed his now barely drivable pick'em up truck, and then got back in and barely drove away. He left only some tracks in the shallow snow, a deep gash in the trunk of the tree, and a good lesson to not drive like a prick.

So I guess it could have been worse. It could have been, for example, a jerkoff driving a Ferrari like a prick. Or a bunch of pricks driving a bunch of Ferraris



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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Open to interpretation

If you're like me, every once in a while you'll have a really crazy, strange, vivid dream that doesn't seem to make any sense yet it sticks with you throughout the morning and keeps you asking yourself "WTF, man???"

So here's how it went down last night. To set the scene, I find my dream self on his way to attend some sort of fishing seminar. And I'm not talking about fishing in the Internet spam sense. I mean like fishing, like actually trying to catch fish in an actual (dream) river.

So I'm on my way upstream to this seminar that takes place in the wide bend of a river. I'm in this old sputtering rust bucket of a boat that reminds me of the old vintage blue Ford pickup that my high school cross country coach used to haul the team around in (back in the day when a public school employee hauling high school kids around in the back of a rickety pick up truck didn't prompt the kind of nambie pambie safety backlash that would surely plague my coach were he in the "more refined" 2010s. Man, the 80's were awesome!).

Anyway getting back to sureality, I'm in the boat following what the instructor says about fishing (whatever that was) when it starts to get super windy. I mean gale force, Kansas summer afternoon windy. The river gets really choppy, and I'm there trying to balance in this boat of questionable river-worthiness. While trying to keep my balance, I accidentally drop a gadget of exceedingly high importance. What the object was isn't clear anymore. Could have been a tool of some kind, or keys. But it fell into the river, and it was important enough for me and two other seminar attendees to dive in after it.

And here's where things get really weird.

We're swimming down, down into the unrealistically deep river, chasing this important object. Along the way, we're swimming passed a boatload of different kinds of fish. And they're huge. I mean, they're like bigger than a Pacific Bluefin Tuna ("the cow of the ocean"). And they keep getting bigger.

Eventually the three of us dive deep enough and fast enough to catch up with the sinking object. It's really dark down here and muddy like a Kansas creek, but now the object seems to be emitting it's own light for some reason. When we reach for it to take it back to the surface, the muddy water seems to close in around us. Suddenly, we get the feeling that we're in an enclosed space, like a large conference room, but it's too dark and murky to see exactly what's going on. So I turn on my flashlight that I suddenly have in my hand (yeah I know, dream physics).

I swim a couple of yards and come to a wall. Well, a sort of slightly concave wall-like structure made of a pinkish, striated material. I follow it to the left for a few feet, then start swimming "up" and follow it some more. I then reverse myself and follow it down and find that it curves into a floor.

At last we all realize where we are - in the belly of a great fish!

We all stand around discussing the problem for a few minutes. It's surprising because we weren't really panicked, and we were breathing and talking underwater (but again, dream physics). We conclude that one of us, that being me, is going to have to swim out the exit and get help.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the exit. It turns out there was only one way out, through the exit - the natural exit that you would expect to see from inside the belly of a fish.

So it fell to me to somehow struggle through the muscular sphincter of the leviathan and wiggle Shawshank Redemption-style through the digestive track to the freedom of the river. When I got the outside of the fish, I used the 8-inch fishing knife that had dream-physics appeared in my hand to cut the fish open and free the two nameless faceless guys with me.

At that moment we see below us an even bigger fish waiting on the bottom of the river. It's like the older, bigger, scarier uncle of the fish whose digestive tract I just crawled out of. Given the harrowing ordeal we'd just gone through (not to mention the 20 or so feet of fish doo doo), we start kicking for all we're worth toward the surface. But before we could make it...

... the sound of my wife's hair dryer from the master bath woke me up. Man, I hate that sound.

I know this kind or weirdo scenario is rife with all kinds of symbolism. There's the whole being chased thing, losing something valuable (but you don't know what it is) and of course the Old Testament "Jonah and the Whale" parallel. Feel free to offer your own armchair psychoanalysis in the comments.

But I think the biggest affect this unusually vivid dream on me has been that I no longer have much of an appetite for sushi.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Bucking the trend

Some of you may know that I've taken up cycling again after a long hiatus. Just for my health, mind you. Not really competitive.

Anyway, it was such a beautiful weekend a couple of weeks ago that I decided to hit up a nice trail i know of in the Konza Prairie Reserve. My friend and I were cruising along one of the trails. Luckily, he had his video camera on getting some shots of the beautiful landscape (if you've never been, you really should), when...

... Well, let's just say, I'm glad I was wearing my helmet.



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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Performing Lights

For those of us unlucky enough to not be there (sheesh, double negative split infinitive much?) on opening night, here's a video of the quite kick ass light show displayed on the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

I'm proud to say that a long time friend and one of the most talented people I know was one of the architects on this project. Word up Mr. P!

Opening Night 'Projections'. Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Kansas City - September 16, 2011 from Quixotic Fusion on Vimeo.



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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Making the UTmost of history

Around about 500 years ago Machiavelli was writing The Prince, Martin Luther was denouncing abuses of the Catholic Church, and the ecosystem on Easter Island was beginning to fail.

I'm not trying to imply that those events are causally related, but I think they each reflect, on a thematic level, some of the baser human traits which seem to be coming so much more prevalent today.

The case of Easter Island, in particular, is the one I want to focus on now.

For about 700 years, the Polynesians who settled Easter Island (Rapa Nui, as they called it) had it pretty good —nice beaches, plenty of fish, fertile soil to grow their taro root, yams, and cassava.

Thing were so good that there was plenty of leisure time that needed to be filled. And the Rapa Nui invented a cool kind of puppet theater using giant stone statues they called Moai. They were like the action figures of the day. You'd set them up on a field and pretend they're having treasure hunts, or wars or deep philosophical discussions.

No, don't judge. What might seem a bit ridiculous to you and me was really a smashing success on Rapa Nui. The pastime became so popular that the Rapa Nui people decided to create more and more of these giant statues. They would dress them in garish attire and sometimes pretend they were in great sporting events.

It was all great fun.

Until…

It wasn't.

At some point, the theater and games the Moai were imagined to play became less important than Moai themselves. Different tribes began to compete to see who could build the most and the biggest Moai and who could dress them in the craziest uniforms. Giant (by Easter Island standards) corporations got involved to sponsor the creation of the Moai and market them to the Rapa Nui public.

But it didn't take too long for that public to take a look at the insane Moai arms race, at the completely batshit crazy amount of resources it was taking up, and realize that something had gone terribly wrong on Easter Island.

The Moai that they once depended upon for entertainment and diversion from their idyllic life on Rapa Nui had come to consume the very resources they depended upon for survival.

And by the time the Rapa Nui powers-that-had-been saw what their audience saw, the island had been completely deforested. There were no trees to build boats, so fishing came to a halt. With no forests to hold the soil, it began to erode and became less fertile.

With less capacity for farming, the people began to eat the birds and small rodents on the island. When those were pretty much gone, they began to eat each other.

They had, in essence, entertained themselves into cannibalism and near extinction.


On a bit of an unrelated note — Man, the Big XII used to be a really great football conference, right Texas?

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

As Seen in Kansas: Paul Boyer Gallery

Anyone taking a trip through the northern third of Kansas is probably taking Highway 36.

It's not as speedy and high-octane as I-70, on which I've never seen a speed limit enforced (at least, not once you get passed Topeka). And Route 36 certainly doesn't have the historical cachet of its venerable cousin Route 66.

In many ways, Highway 36 is just a utilitarian point-A-to-point-B strip of tarmac. But it still has it's fair share of interesting side excursions for those not too busy to get off the beaten path.

One of my favorites is the Paul Boyer Gallery in Belleville, Kansas.

According to the museum, Boyer began carving and working with small machines as a child in Michigan. But when he lost a leg during an accident at the age of 35, he threw himself into carving, drawing and sculpting to help occupy his time.

The result has been a life's work in animated sculptures, or cartoons brought into the kinetic art world. And though many so-called "art experts" would look down their noses and derisively call his work "folk art," in my humble opinion Boyer is one of the artistic treasures of Kansas.



Many of his sculpture do focus on the humorous. He has fashioned a style of big-nosed, saggy-breasted hillbilly characters to be the target of his mischievous sense of humor. That's on the surface. But what lies beneath is a dizzyingly complex set of clockworks that would give any steampunk fan squeals of delight.

And on what I consider his finest pieces, those complex mechanics become the art itself.

My personal favorite is a set of models of mechanical wings. I think the piece is titled (something like) "Flight of Man, Flight of Bird," and it wonderfully demonstrates the grace and subtlety of Boyer's artistic vision.



I've tried to capture it and a couple of my other favorites in this quick video, but my videographer skills pretty much suck. Anyway, you really must visit yourself to get the full effect. There is a minimal admission fee to the gallery, which is operated by Boyer's daughters and is open May through September, Wednesday through Saturday from 1-5 p.m.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Parents as marketers

I've been doing this parenting thing for a few years now, and I'm getting pretty proficient at it (if I do say so my damn self).

Now, I don't claim to be as good as everybody. Certainly I'm not as good as my own parents, but then few are.

But as far as I know, all of my children still live under my roof, and most of them still have most of their digits (which is more than I can say for myself). None of them have intentionally set fire to anything (that I know of) and we don't seem to be having any Mountain Dew Mouth trouble as of yet.

What I'm trying to say is that, so far things are going as well as can be expected, and I've picked up a few tips and tricks along the way.

The one I like to highlight today is one that many marketing and advertising professionals use all the time. It's about product positioning, and I'll illustrate it with this quick anecdote.

Our two-year-old is in a finicky stage. There are only a couple of foods she'll eat, and since I'm in charge of breakfast on a daily basis, this sometimes irritates the crap out of me. I mean, I'll go to all the work of preparing a delicious bowl of instant oatmeal only to have a budding food snob turn her nose up at it.

So I've been trying different breakfast items to see what works. At the super market the other day I picked up a box of Kix cereal, reasonably healthy because it doesn't have added sugar (which is toxic, by the way). Yesterday, I poured a few of he corn-based pellets into a bowl and set it in front of her for breakfast.

Of course, she would have none of it. One look at the pile of cereal and she handed me a stink eye along with a sharp "No! I want yogurt!"

Now I know most of you don't put up with this kind of attitude from a two-year-old, and you shouldn't. I don't either. I made sure to get an apology before providing a bowl of plain vanilla yogurt, her favorite. But knowing that a key to getting you're little house apes to eat different foods is just getting them to try them, I came back a few minutes later with a small handful of Kix in my hand.

I made sure she was watching when I popped a couple in my mouth and made the "Mmmmmm!" sound and said "Wow, these tiny little cookies are delicious!"

Key piece of information here: The girls is very familiar with the concept of cookies. She's tried them. She love's them. She would probably exist (for a few short years before dying of childhood diabetes) solely on them if we let her.

And of course, the mention of "cookies" got her attention. She tentatively took one of the little round pellets from my hand and popped it in her mouth. Then she grabbed the rest and ate them all. Next thing you know, she's going back to that bowl of the "cookies" and chowing down.

You see, it's all about Placement. Big Cereal does this all the time, using cartoon characters and high fructose corn syrup to get children to eat toxic substances.

As a parent, I'm just flipping the script on them. Using the same kind of marketing tactics to trick my kids into eating something less unhealthy.

And that's, one to grow on…

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: It's time to get things started

Sensational internet modern alt/funk/pop/prog group OK Go is back with a blast of nostalgia with a new release covering the theme to the old The Muppet Show. It's interesting since my 8-year-old daughter is the first person to show this to me the other day, and she never even saw an episode of The Muppet Show.

Sign of the times, I guess.



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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Formsprings Eternal #2: Time may change me

Today's Formspring question asks me to look back in to the past.

If you could change one thing that happened last year what would it be?
I suspect the submitter of this question meant something like "If you could change one thing that happened TO YOU last year…"

But to be honest, I had a pretty good year.

Don't get me wrong. It was a crap year for a lot of people. I have some friends who lost jobs. There was some health problems for people around me, some friends lost loved ones. There's the fact that we're still at war despite everyone saying in public that there's no reason for it, and some people I care about had friends and brothers killed in what seems to be pointless fighting. The economy's still in shambles and, just to top thing off, it's been one of the hottest summers on record (I can't really back that last statement up with stats, tho).

In short, to paraphrase Chuck Dickens, it was a year like all other years.

But it makes me appreciate the good fortune I've had. I live in a nice neighborhood with a beautiful Supermodel Wife, two great kids, a house with a roof that doesn't leak. I dropped 35 pounds in the last 6 months and my cholesterol and blood pressure are both down to normal. My health is better than it has been in years.

So, I really can't say I would change anything personally.

Oh, wait. I just thought of something I would change. You remember when I bought that lottery ticket that would have paid out $300 million if I had won? Well, I'd change things so that I would have bought the winning ticket.

Yeah.

And I suppose a close second would be that the Japanese tsunami hadn't happened.

Got something on your mind? Something troubling you? Need a little compassionate input? A little constructive criticism? Well, that's what I'm here for. Plop your question in the text field at the left and hit the submit button. It's fun, it's easy, and if you're not careful, you might learn something.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Bugnado

I'm no biologist, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. And based upon that expertise, my theory is that the high flood waters in Missouri have created a fertile breeding ground for flying insects.

This brave videographer ventured out into the northwest Missouri wilderness one July evening to capture swarms of bugs flying into insectoid vortices which he termed "bugnados" and which totally give me the heebie and/or jeebies.



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Thursday, August 11, 2011

As Seen in Kansas: The Western Home

One of the truths that I hold to be self-evident is that places aren't boring, people are.

As a life-long Kansan maybe that's just some kind of defense mechanism. But I've traveled a fair bit both domestically and abroad, and I find that no place it boring as long as you're curious.

Take, for example, the middle of nowhere.

It would be tempting to look at a flat, mostly blank spot on the map, such as Smith County, Kansas, (the entire population of which numbers fewer than the available parking spaces where I work) and conclude that there can't possibly be anything of interest there.

But with a good guide and sincere curiosity, I've found that even such places as these have interesting nuggets to yield. And, to steal a line from Bill Cosby, if you're not careful, you might learn something.

One of the nuggets of interest we checked out on our recent visit there was a small, ancient cabin in the woods.

The cabin, of basic construction and even more basic amenity, is notable for it's original occupant, Dr. Brewster Higley, né Brewster Martin Higley VI, a homesteader originally from Ohio.

Higley's primary claim to fame is a poem he wrote in 1873 after moving to the Kansas prairie and building cabin by a small creek. The poem was called The Western Home, and it so captured life on a pioneer homestead that it was set to music and became a popular folk song.


The Kansas Legislature adopted it as the official state song in 1947.


The cabin, as it stands today, in the midst of a wild cannabis grove near a wooded creek, has been reinforced with stone, cement and angle iron. There is also a gigantic circular saw blade that I'm pretty sure wasn't part of the original structure.


But much of the original log structure is still there. You can see axe marks in the wood and the rusty square nails from the era.


It's difficult to imagine being the original occupant of this house. Indeed, most people these day's have nicer garden sheds. I'm fairly certain that nobody today would be inspired to think of "home" given a life in these accommodations. The interior has barely room for a single mattress, let alone a queen sized bed. The "kitchen" consisted of a small, camp-sized wood-burning stove and the air conditioning was provided by half-inch gaps between the logs (though I assume these were patched when people were actually living here).

I guess it's possible that Dr. Higley's poem may have been more aspirational than inspirational — not so much an ode to his little hovel, more of a longing for something nicer. Still, it's impressive to consider the hardy folk like Dr. Higley (and perhaps more impressively, Mrs. Dr. Higley) who chose this lonely, primitive lifestyle in pursuit of their American dream.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: I'm Yours

I'm not a huge Jason Mraz fan, in fact I'd say I'm not a fan of his at all. But I wanted to post this for you JM fans who were unable to get tickets to this weekend's Farm Aid concert at Livestrong Sporting Park in KCK.

This cover of his signature hit is pretty much just as good as the original.



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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Dante's Inferno in 10 minutes

Given the local temperatures around here lately caused by an infernal Heat Dome, I thought this brief synopsis of Dante's Inferno seemed apropos.



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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Formsprings Eternal #1: Innie or Exie?

I remarked in a conversation the other day that I've reached the age when I can pretty much give you an answer to any question you ask.

Of course, I don't think my 8-year-old daughter realized that it might not be the right answer, or even a good answer. Then again, it's important to keep in mind the words of contemporary American philosopher Francis V. Zappa who wrote…
Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth.

That said, since I put it out there that I'm now taking questions, my in-box has been flooded with inquires by the curious, the truth seekers, and the desperate. So today starts my effort to make good on my promise and work through the backlog.

Question 1: Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

You see, this is the kind of false dichotomy that is so common these days. Are you introvert or extrovert? Liberal or conservative? Mac or PC? Pale Ale or Unfiltered Wheat? I don't know if it's a symptom of our digital culture or just a byproduct of lazy education that has foregone the instruction of critical thinking.

But the short answer is that I don't think a person has to be either an introvert OR an extrovert. Obviously since I do a blog on the internet, I've got a pretty strong introverted side. But I also like to hang out and meet new people, talk about stuff I don't know much about, find out what interests others.

But as far as it goes, with all things being equal, I'm just as likely to hang out with the family on a Tuesday evening than go out an party. So, if I had to choose one, I'd say "introvert." But come on, get some nuance, man.

There's still plenty of time to get some advice from Yours Truly. Just jot down your question in the Ask Me Anything field up to the left, no... a little further... yeah right there. I promise I'll answer your question first.


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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Don't know much about history…

Say what you will about the new Netflix pricing changes/fiasco, they still have some really good, not to mention educational, video content.

The other night I logged in through our Wii to watch a fascinating documentary about ancient Persia. And while I still believe our civilization is accelerating downward and that my kids will probably be the last generation to truly benefit from the heights we've reached, these heights are really impressive.

The shear amount of information and analysis that is at our fingertips is mind boggling. Just a few watts of power and a half dozen click was enough to bring up an extensive 2-hour program about a little known chapter in the long history of ancient Persia.

The documentary, narrated by Hollywood's hunky Jake Gyllenhaal, told the story about a Persian king and his efforts to keep his family together, build a dynasty and thwart schemes and coup attempts by those who would usurp his throne.

This fascinating history isn't something we covered in World History back in high school.

At the center of the king's efforts to maintain control of his empire was a magical dagger that could give its wielder control over the flow of time itself!

Needless to say, I was blown away by the amazing historical account and by the fact that very few people in our increasingly superficial country are even aware of these events.

But what blew me away even more was the revelation that people in ancient Persia spoke a language and dialect that sounds almost exactly like English spoken with a fake British accent.

I know what you're thinking, you would expect a Persian accent, or maybe something that sounded like a Greek accent or something. But no, it's a British accent that all the ancient people seem to have.

Amazingly, it's the same dialect that was spoken by Senators, Legionaries and gladiators during the Ancient Roman empire and by the Pharaohs and Jewish leaders of the Ancient Egyptian dynasties.

I tell you, the more I learn about history, the more amazing it is.


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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Delugional

So a couple of weeks ago I posted some pics of a photo safari to the Kaw Point riverfront park in KCK.

You no doubt had this image of the Lewis & Clark sculpture seared into your memory…



The reason I bring up is that I went back to Kaw Point over the July 4th weekend, just to check things out. Most of the trails were blocked off for a pretty good reason, that being that they are now under water.

Here's a pick from Monday by way of illustration. This is as close as I could get without getting wet.



So you can see that if you did venture out to stand beside the sculpture, you'd be about neck deep in icky, dirty brown Missouri River mud. Also the mosquitoes are pretty bad down there, so if you go be sure to take a harpoon to defend yourself.

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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Where the sidewalk ends

I came upon this rather suddenly during yesterday's bike ride while exploring the Indian Creek Greenway trail in KCMO.


Not sure if it represents a depletion of Parks and Rec budget or just a depletion of political capital. But it did make me think of these classic lyrics…
Turnaround... Every now and then I get a little bit tired of listening to the sound of my gears…
or something like that.

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

One of these days...

One of these day's I'm going to write another blog post. I've got some ideas, just not the concurrent time and motivation.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Drug

I like this fine little bit of scathing satire from Pineapple Shaped Lamps, a live theatre troupe based in Wilmington, NC., for a couple of reasons.

First, of course, is the aforementioned scathingness, and Truth sharpened to a fine razor's edge by Humor. But even more, I appreciate the ripping aside of the curtain of emotional manipulation that has become stereotypical of drug commercials.

Watch and enjoy, and call your doctor if your erection lasts longer than four hours.



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Friday, June 24, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: My Hero

Here's another really cool stop-motion animated short film. This one dealing with the question of nature vs. nurture, personal potential and equality of opportunity.

From the YouTube description:
In a world that judges people by their number, Zero faces constant prejudice and persecution. He walks a lonely path until a chance encounter changes his life forever: he meets a female zero. Together they prove that through determination, courage, and love, nothing can be truly something.



I really like the parallel to the excellent sci-fi flick GATACA staring Ethan Hawke, which I highly recommend if you haven't seen it yet.



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Monday, June 13, 2011

As seen in Kansas: Kaw Point

An unusual set of coincidences Saturday resulted in all the women in my house being out on a girls date and me with no plans.

Free time is a rare commodity these days.

So because the weather was so great, and because I've been hearing a lot about Missouri River flooding, and because I've heard nice things about the place, I pinged Xavier Onassis, King of the Wild Frontier, to see if he wanted to go on photo safari at Kaw Point in KCK.

I've lived in the KC area for way more than a decade and never checked out Kaw Point. It's a really nice river front park/trail on the west bank of the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers. And it has a remarkable view of downtown KCMO.





I've always thought rivers, and the concept of rivers, was a great metaphorical device. I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm not claiming that as an original thought. Far better minds than me have had the same notion.

The river is a strong reminder that we are here but briefly. Water flowed down these channels long before we put up buildings and bridges. And despite our levies, dredgings and sandbags, it will overflow it's banks again. In the not too distant future, it will wash all evidence of our existence out into the ocean, leaving behind only a substance that is too thick to drink and too thin to plow.


That's a bit maudlin. I also like the river as an illustration of how we're all connected. Water that rushed passed us on Saturday was a few days earlier in Montana and South Dakota. And the same power that can uproot trees and destroy towns, can also lead to natural renewal.




The river has a kind of memory of its own. And while it can reflect the natural beauty of our world …



… it can also show us some of our own ugliness.


The river also provides an opportunity for us to bridge it. Calling to mind higher ideals like our drive to overcome obstacles and connect people and places in a positive way.



Tuesday, June 07, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Loom

I don't really care for spiders in general. They pretty much creep me out (with one notable exception).

And this CGI art film, while really cool and compelling, doesn't help.

Here's a little explainer that I stole from somewhere that I can't remember.
The German-based production team know as Polynoid is a collaboration of Jan Bitzer, Ilija Brunck, Csaba Letay, Fabian Pross and Tom Weber, all design, music and storytelling geniuses. This 5-minute film, Loom, took one year to create.



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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Entrepreneurial

I had a meeting yesterday with a couple of guys from an interactive consultancy startup about some work I'm having done on the website form my evil lair. While I've had to edit out some of the critical information, I did record video of the meeting, and it's pretty damn entertaining if I do say so my damn self.



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Friday, May 20, 2011

The Holiday Spirit

I posted this a couple of months ago, but I think it's an appropriate repost given the big day on Saturday.

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.


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Monday, May 09, 2011

Get Glue

It is said that over time, married couples begin to resemble one another.

Fortunately for my Supermodel Wife, this isn't the case in our situation. I mean, it would be a tragedy for her to begin to look like an old, fat, bald guy just because she had the bad judgment to marry a wildebeest like myself.

But that's not to say that over the course of years, shared experiences haven't given us a few physical similarities. Such an experience happened over the weekend.

It was the first Saturday in forever that we didn't have some kind of social or familial engagement. So I had the day open to focus attention on some much needed yard work. I spent the morning trimming trees and bagging up the debris in the back yard, spraying weeds, putting out cancer-causing crabgrass preemergent and cleaning some spilled plutonium off the back patio.

Pretty typical suburban stuff.

By about noon I'd worked my way to the front yard where I was shearing back some shrubbery that had become overgrown due to the sudden spring and our many busy and out-of-town weekends as of late. I was making pretty quick progress on the overgrowth thanks to the Black&Decker cordless electric hedge trimmer that I received as a Father's Day gift a few years ago.

(Ever notice how all Father’s Day gifts are either clothing or tools to "help” you work more?)

Anyway, I was happily buzzing along removing twig after twig of overgrown Japanese Snowball and ornamental apple tree in front of our house. I was trying to avoid disturbing a robin’s nest (with three bright blue eggs in it) when I reached up to remove a severed tree branch with my left hand. Stupidly, I simultaneously brought the electric hedge trimmers down with my right hand, getting the business end close to my left ring finger… a bit too close, as it turns out.

The pain of the cutting blade biting into the fatty tip of my finger was still radiating up my arm as I ran cursing into the kitchen, a trail of blood droplets left on the grass, sidewalk, driveway and garage floor (not to mention my t-shirt and shorts). Instinctively, I put my injured finger under a stream of cold water in the kitchen sink. It took about a second to see that quick medical attention was in order.

The pad of my ring finger, from about the middle of my finger nail to about 60 percent around my finger, was neatly sliced and dangling by the remaining 40 percent of the fingertip, which was still attached and in pretty good condition, all things considered.

I wrapped a piece of ice to my finger with a paper towel while my wife and hero, who was making lunch, recruited our next door neighbor to watch the kids. We headed to the emergency room at St. Luke’s South. After a quick three and a half hour wait, a tetanus shot and me explaining the accident three or four times to various nurses and doctors, I returned home with my finger tip superglued back in place underneath a Band-Aid with instructions not to get it dirty or wet.

Now, for those of you who have been reading this blog for a few years, some of this might sound vaguely familiar. But I can assure you that I’m not making up new stories due to a lack of anything else to write about. I mean, I do have a lack of anything interesting to write about, but I’m not repeating stories because of it.

It so happens that a similar accident befell my Supermodel Wife a couple of years, only in her case the cutting instrument was a cheese slicer, and she lost part of her thumb. You can read more about that at the link, but here’s a reminder of what it looked like after a week or so of healing.
For comparison, looking at this picture of my ring finger after a day or two of healing, you can see that it’s not near as bad.
But still it’s one of those shared experiences that helps make us old married folks begin to look like each other.

UPDATE:

There's still a lot of healing to do. The glue used on my finger turned out not to be so super so I went to the walk-in clinic this morning to get it redressed and re-glued. According to the Nurse Practitioner I saw, the glue used costs about $200 per .5ml vial. Thank you Obamacare!

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Junkyard Jumbotron

The computer geniuses at MIT have created software that allows ordinary Joes like you and me to virtually stitch together random displays to behave as a larger screen. All you need an a web browser and an email account.



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3AM Observation: In the motel lobby

Scene: Sitting in the lobby of a Best Holiday Super Motel Inn, late evening, getting some work done on my laptop.

Old guy walks in and takes a seat on the lobby sofa. He's wearing a WWII service veteran's cap with the name of the Navy ship on which he served. Elastic waist band struggles to hold in a pot belly. Puffy eyes and blotchy skin.

Observation: The sound of an old guy sucking saliva out of his ill-fitting dentures sounds precisely and uniquely like an old guy sucking saliva out of his ill-fitting dentures.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Hydrophonia

NOAA scientists used an under water microphone — a hydrophone — to capture audio of the massive earthquake that hit Japan a few weeks ago.

You may have heard of it. It was in the news and everything.
Now the full force of mother nature can be terrifyingly relived as scientists from the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle have released an extraordinary recording of the sound of the 9.0 earthquake as it powered its way through the Pacific ocean moments before creating the devastating tsunami.

Captured by an underwater microphone called a hydrophone positioned 900 miles away from the epicentre in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska the earthquake's incredible rumbling and roaring is not dissimilar to the sound of a rocket taking off.



Original Source: UK's The Daily Mail

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: The Audition

Today's edition of YouTube Tuesday brings one of the cutest, funniest brother/sister acts to hit the Internet since… well… ever.

John and Molly Get Along follows the adventures of John and Molly Knefel as they try to make it in New York. We pick it up in Episode 6 when Molly is auditioning for an off-off-off-Broadway play.



Enjoy the entire series at the John and Molly Get Along YouTube Channel.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Lincoln–Douglas redux

I don't think it would come as any surprise to any of the half dozen or so readers of this blog that Blogger Great and Lord of Independence Xavier Onassis and I have had our political and philosophical differences.

It's all been pretty well mannered, and any ribbing has been for the most part good natured. At least I think it has. Especially by Internet standards.

But at the urging of three-balled The D, we agreed to meet in person to hash out some issued and find a common understanding. As a disinterested third (balled) party, The D even offered to host the Mass Debate in his kitchen.

Well, unbeknown st to either XO or myself, The D recorded the exchange for Internet consumption. And since the cat is out of the bag, well, I thought I might as well post it here as well so you all can benefit from our intellectual discourse.

I know we use some pretty big words, but try to follow along.


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Monday, March 28, 2011

Basketball jones

My sword-wielding friend Xavier Onassis is a huge college basketball fan... not1.

I only mildly disagree with the point, though the form betrays lack of gravitas that tends to undermine the very point being made.

I guess one could argue that college basketball (and other college sports) provides a funding mechanism to educate thousands of student athletes who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford an education. So XO's statement above essentially puts a value of zero on education. Which is a shame. I personally think education is one of the more important investments we can make in our own futures.

But actually, when I hear/read people make statements like "nothing is less important than…" or "nothing is worse than…" I really just think that those people suffer from a lack of imagination.

I mean, I suspect that without too much effort I could come up with at least five things that are less important than college basketball2.

What?! CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Let's see, let me start with… that bunch of cackling mother hens on The View, Lady Gaga, autotune, any autotuned song, the British Royal Family, any wedding among and/or within the British Royal Family, Renaissance Festivals, those weirdos who dress up for Renaissance Festivals, hippie drum circles, poetry slams, comedy jams, fashion week, fashion models, fashion magazines and anything even remotely associated with the fashion industry, steampunks and their steampunk accouterments, Dancing with the Stars Hasbeens, that lame-ass Thor God of Thunder (puhleeze!) movie, my stock options, foodies and the sport they make of eating, 99.9999999999999999 percent of the content of Twitter…

Whew… I guess I got a little carried away there.



1) Hello 1990s vernacular!

2) Of course I realize that this precariously places one upon a nihilistic slippery slope. I mean, if we accept XO's position that people are just semi-intelligent animals and that human life has no particular meaning, then how can we say that anything within life is any more or less meaningful or important than anything else. Just sayin...

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Monday, March 14, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: The Delicate Sound of Pi

I know it's a day early for YouTube Tuesday, but it's a special occasion. As you know, or will soon become aware, today is 3.14… Pi Day in the United States*.

To commemorate this special day, here's a special Pi Day song. I hope you'll all singe along.



*Europe, of course, doesn't have a Pi Day because they mess up their date notations by putting the day before the month, thus 14.3. However, according to my inside sources 143 is the sum of 3 consecutive primes (43+47+53), and also of 5 consecutive primes (11+13+17+19+23+29+31). So I guess it's Prime Day in Europe.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Best of 3 A.M.: No more wedgies

Editor's Note: I'm pulling up some items from the archive, just for the hell of it. This one was originally posted in March of 2007. Follow the link to read more of The Best of 3A.M.



I may have mentioned this before, but I think it bears repeating.

The "wedge salad" is the most ridiculous culinary fraud ever perpetrated upon the American dining public.

I mean come on people! This isn't a salad! It's a chunk of lettuce with possibly some peppers thrown in for color. Have we become so lazy that we can't chop up the lettuce? Are we so lacking in creativity that we can't toss on a couple of cherry tomatoes or cucumbers? This is like giving someone a loaf of bread and calling it a sandwich.

How have we let our democracy get to the point where a quarter-head of lettuce is considered a salad. That's not the America I know.

Hell, that's not even Mexico.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

YouTube Tuesday: Go to the Mardi Gras

Okay people, put on your beads, masks and zydeco music. Let's have a good time, but be safe. And say hello to the Zulu King for me...



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Friday, March 04, 2011

My next million dollar idea: Continental Golf

A few weeks ago I posted a few random items from my fictional bucket list. Some of those things I've already done. Some I'm still working on.

One in particular, I'm completing today.

I had this idea of creating a sport, in part, to gain a small measure of immortality (perhaps due to an aforementioned existential dilemma) . Consider James Naismith, who invented basketball while working in New England. Sure, you'll hear KU fans say he invented basketball at KU, but I think it's pretty well established how delusional KU fans are.

Anyway, to back to the story, the working name for my new sport is Continental Golf. Let me esplain...

You see, there's a sport played all over the country called golf. Essentially, you hit a small ball with a long club in an effort to make it land in a hole some distance away. Score is kept by tallying the number of hits — or strokes — it takes a player get the ball into the hole. The goal being to get as low a score as possible over the course of 18 holes.

My adaptation of this is similar, except that instead of 90 to 500 yards separating the start and finish of a hole, it could be 100 to 600 miles or more.

You see, I envision each hole taking the length of an entire state. One would tee off, for example, in Leavenworth, Kan., and play west to finish by putting into a hole near Horace, Kan.


View Larger Map

So you would end your first hole, then continue into Colorado, teeing off in, say, Cheyenne Wells, and finishing in, maybe, Dove Creek. You would continue, so on and so forth, until you had played the entire course, which obviously would be composed of up to 18 different states.

Obviously, this is a more extreme version of traditional golf. But hey, I enjoy the challenge.

As with conventional golf, we'd have to establish a "par" for each hole, and I'm thinking we might rely on the sport's pioneering players to help with this. We might find it necessary to count every 10 hits as a stoke, and then use a decimal system for scoring. Kansas, for example, might have a par of 440.0 which would be roughly 4,400 in conventional golf strokes (if you're a big hitter).

Colorado, though shorter, has a pretty big bunker in the form of the Rocky Mountains, so you'd need to account for that in the par rating. But you get the idea.

As for equipment, I see us using pretty much the same items as regular golf as far as balls, clubs, gloves etc. Although we should consider trading in the battery powered golf cart for a diesel powered Hummer. Or maybe a good quarter horse if you're a sport purist.

Now, the beauty of this sport is that while it may not be practical for your average Joe to take a few weeks off every year to go play a hole of Continental Golf, I'm thinking ahead to the digital spin off.

Imagine the appeal of taking my new game, putting it on an Xbox or even a Wii, juicing it up with some Google Earth mojo and launching an online Continental Golf league. You get to multiply the appeal of golf by the joy of travel and tourism, and I get to take a tasty little cut out of every purchase.

So, who wants to be in my first foursome. I'm thinking we tee off in late April?

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