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Tuesday 14-February-2006

it's 1640: My favorite things.
(As always, apologies for the pensive posts. Fear how much worse it could be if I actually smoked pot.)

Today's the first day for the landlord showing off our current place. I guess that means it's time to get a move on finding us a new place for next year. Jorge is moving in with someone else, so Kelly and I resume our march toward 'getting old together crazy-cat-couple' without the veneer of 'just roommates' that having a roommate provides.

Wish me luck on the house findings. It could have been worse. Our landlord is not, as far as I can tell, evil. He just has not exhibited to me an affirmative ethical act.

This brings me to three things I love about my current place and lifestyle that I ought document before I move on. Three things that I will be the last person to enjoy at this location (at least, in our time).

The clothesline:

The clothesline is my holy place. It is my religion. I may be a born-again clothesliner. I grew up in a family who went to the line with about the same annual certainty as Easter-only church attendance. But, did I ever catch a fervor this year. It's not a religion for everyone. I don't judge anyone because they can't participate (and it is a participatory religion. One cannot just sign the membership roll). It takes patience, climate, and a lifestyle that fits.

Recreational math time: a dryer load is 5 kW for about an hour (less, but roughly). That's 38 cents of electric. De minima (though I do pick up pennies, and aluminium cans when convienient). But, 5 kW*h = 17000 BTU. A pound of Powder Basin coal has approximately 10000 BTU of energy available. But, between the heat efficiency of the power plant, slight electrical inefficiency, and the energy overhead of extracting, transporting, and building the infrastructure, a total efficiency of 33% is very generous. One load, five pounds of coal. Which is big, and it's small. Ask someone to dump a five pound sack of coal into the dryer every time (and scoop the clinkers), and clothespins would be the new boom industry. But, one load in the dryer every single day for a lifetime is less than a railcar's load of coal, which we can comfortably picture.

As for my own theology, I recognize that humans are detrivores. We live, cleverly, on what we have found here, deposited by providence and not activity, and on the sun. For me, for while it is so easy for me to make the time to do it, hanging clothes out seems incumbent.

As with religion, my practice conspicuously represents my values and my values only barely impinge my practice (nota bene the big pickup in the
foreground of the clothesline shot). But, it is my practice... to worship Sol, to worship the newcome morning (I get up early, washing pre-dawn and hanging before going to work), to worship my body's ability to do manual tasks, to meditate, and to enjoy human creativity (the music in my MP3 player while hanging).

The well:

Also on the property, also being lost in the triplex building, is the old well. It should've been capped years ago. Probably even contributes some pollution by existing. But, I give it it's due. By the size, it was probably hand-dug. Lined with fieldstones. This pudgy-fingered renter can only imagine the human effort that went into this endeavor. As the last person to know or care about this ancient's toil, I pay my tribute by using the water. The pump's long useless, but I hoist my bucket to water the today's garden and tomorrow's compost with waters from the past.


Finally, the compost heap. Something else one can't do on a parking lot. Though, I guess, if there aren't any trees or grass, there's less to compost.

I like composting, certainly more than gardening. It's more human. On our best days, we are not some growing plant, responding to pure simple joyous energy. We are dirty and greedy and rather smelly consumers of things that once were. But on our best days, we too leave behind deterius that is better than what we found.

Oh, and one other favorite thing, I get to take with me. Love's ya, affreca.

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Tuesday 03-January-2006

it's 1004: Renting sucks.
No place like LJ to bitch, eh? Copied from e-mails to family:

I do have *amazing* eagle eyes. I read the paper yesterday morning. I am the only detail-oriented enough person to read the city commission agenda.

Notably, "approve the following site plan, a triplex at 425 Wis.".

I think for a minute. 425 Wis, 425 Wis... *we're 425 Wisconsin*! Shades of "Yellow... Bulldozer... Yellow".
Plan is a triplex on the empty (garden) part of our lot but also tearing out our backyard (clotheslines, skychair tree, covered patio) and my bike-repair shed for parking lot.

I call up the landlord 8AM. Ask when he was going bother to inform us and when he was going to start building. No good answer for either. Told him he can't build (till August) on a place he's already renting out (and we did rent the entire property, including shed). Honestly, without me noticing, he would have let us renew our lease without telling us.

So, one way or the other, we'll be moving again this summer. Not that I'll get to garden anywhere (moving over the summer), but we need the storage and don't want to live next to a construction site (noise, theft, mess), and obviously have no good faith in our landlord.

We meet with him on Wednesday. The commission meeting is tonight, so I forwarded some general observations about the plan to the two commissioners I know personally. I.E., the parking is inadequate considering the neighbourhood has no on-street parking, and the trees he claims to save (to comply with city code) will not probably survive with impermeable structures within 3 feet on both sides.

He could have avoided that hassle had he acted like a human being, but we needed to say our peace before the meeting, and he didn't choose to meet with us before the commission meeting.

Anyway, Kelly and I are frustrated, but it makes me feel closer to her and dreams of owning a place. Zen is returning, and I'm moving from frustration to amusement. Somehow our landlord's MBA program at KU doesn't cover things like, "there are 10 or more apartments that have been vacant all year within two blocks of here, and building costs are at record levels." Here's hoping he gets some choice tenants (hey, wouldn't anyone be better than pesky well-informed grad students?)

Happy new year to y'all.

Wednesday 28-September-2005

it's 1019: When Bad Things Happen to eBay Sellers.
This gentleman got me over (for only a few dollars) on an eBay purchase a while back. Fortunately, Paypal got me my money back.

His latest item for sale, though, is tempting.

Friday 11-March-2005

it's 2122: Big old MP3 bragging, for no good reason.
Playing with the MP3 pile again. Probably going to get a knock from the RIAA here soon, but the collection is at 36584 songs. Roughly 88 days of nonstop, nonrepeat music. Now I just need a reason to have so many tunes... I've been a radio DJ for a while, so that makes sense. Who else? Long haul trucker?

The amazing thing is, 99 percent is from original CDs or vinyl, mine, girlfrind, parents, library, or radio station.... No downloads except perfectly kosher live concerts from taper-friendly bands. And I'm *not* distributing the songs. So, should I feel bad?

Anyway, thought I'd dump a randomly grabbed list of 200 songs out to give an idea what is in my little MP3 walkabout player.

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Friday 27-August-2004

it's 1259: The Bush tax increase, for me at least.
Another paycheck, another dissapointment. I can't be the only one.

I've worked as a student worker for 7 years now. I've been basically maxed out at $690 gross every two weeks. I stay because I'm happy and lazy.

However, my paychecks have gotten notably smaller since July 1. Same gross, but my SS/Medicare deductions have gone from $35 per check to $75. Yep, $80 less per month.

And, no, I did not qualify for the Bush $300 rebate. After all, I am not a taxpayer (excepting SS/Medicare/State/property (over half my rent cheque pays property tax)/sales taxes/special surcharges on communications).


What's more impressive, is, Dennis Hastert's proposed national sales tax to replace the IRS will , besides being unconstitutional, be wildly popular among the people it will screw over harshly.

Sunday 25-July-2004

it's 1738: Sometimes it's hard to believe in the 'recovering economy'. Perhaps it's the old "Kansas is always X years behind" stuff.

In my midwest college town, the last week of July, everyone plays fire-drill and finds different apartments. Plenty of furniture is exchanged via curb-dumping and curb-grabbing. That's a beautiful thing.

This year, out of the 5 years I've been in this apartment, and 8 in Lawrence, has a different character. It's not the students taking the good stuff. It's embarresed families in rusted Oldsmobiles digging through rain-soaked dumpsters. Old men on bicycles gathering steel and Al cans. And not just a few. Honestly, it's worrisome.

I know I'm in a backwater, but I fear the 'recovering economy' talk is about as believable as the 'near-zero' inflation (asterik, disclaimer, caveat) that the Fed touts.

Monday 14-June-2004

it's 1711: I'll take this as a sign I should use some organizer, be it PDA or paper. My notably favorite band on the planet (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones) are playing about a mile from here in under three hours. I paid far too much for a ticket to said concert over a month ago. Had I not been rifling the correct drawer just now, I would not have remembered said concert. Sigh, but good for suddenly having something to do tonight.

Monday 07-June-2004

it's 2207: It's the little things about modern life that get to me. Jorge's packing to spend the summer (well, winter) back home. So, cleaning out the kitchen cabinets.. 4 slices of Hy-Vee standard bread. ``Best if sold by 5 March''. Not hermetically sealed, or even twist-tied. Nary a tinge of green. If this food cannot sustain microbial life, is it food?

On a related note, I was given a bucket of extremely cheap-ass cat food by a FoaF. Her cat had recently died. From my cats' take, it was a hunger strike against the food. Put it on the back porch for strays, though even strays have better pickings in Lawrence. However, some of my favorite scavengers, the blue jays, have taken to it, so bully for them. You have to like a bird that is plenty willing to fight back.

Monday 17-May-2004

it's 1150: Got my tickets to hear Bill Clinton's lecture on Friday afternoon. Very neat atmosphere to hang approxmiately 2000 students/faculty in line. They had to move it from the 2000 seat Lied Center to the 16,000 seat Fieldhouse, and bets are that they can fill the Fieldhouse.

Good weekend garage sale-ing. I've started accumulating the cheap-ass 'Mexican' acrylic woven blankets. For a buck a piece, they're good wall coverings and infamously barterable items to boot.

Cooler, I picked up a 1972 Raleigh Sports 3-speed, common Raleigh green and my size for $10. Mostly good but tyres and cables. Not a high-performance machine, but so very civilized. Upright seating, fully repairable bearings, chrome fenders, and that wonderful bell.

This brings me to eight bikes in my apartment, plus my roommates one. Sigh. Rather an interesting change, though. The question used to be "How many computers does Tom have now?" I'm down to two obvious boxen (plus a rarely used old-laptop -> wireless-Xterm and a Zaurus Linux PDA), and they haven't even been upgraded in years. Now, it's "How many bikes?"

Monday 26-April-2004

it's 1421: Things you should have learned in school, had you been paying attention
When you're a little bullheaded about such things, on occasions you will be carrying an akward number of not exactly heavy boxes for several furlongs. (The furlong is my favorite measure of distance. It's almost exactly how far a `normal' American will carry parcels in public without embarassment. It's also just about how close I'd like my eventual home to be to the nearest neighbour. Assuming that they were swell and wonderful neighbours, a furlong is still close enough.)

If you're extremely lucky, you will be carrying your parcels across some place as beautiful as the University of Kansas campus in late April.

Mostly I can do this without mention. I look the part. It's a good thing, mostly. I can walk across campus pushing a trolley with 3 full DEC workstations and no eyes bat. Of course he should be doing that. Shrug. However, on a bright day, a lass will come up to you on the the small inhuman concrete Escher terraces at the center of campus that make the rest of campus that much more beautiful. The lass makes the eye-contact that is rare enough in my life as to be journal-worthy, were it not that the contact makes journalling seem particularly irrelevant.

``Need a hand?''.

The answer is not, ``Nope, got it.''

I know these things. I could have gotten that right on a multiple-choice exam.


Finishing a `group paper' for a curriculum theory class. This is a very itch-causing mode of writing for me. I am supposedly integrating the 3 sections plus my own incomplete section. This is not a job for a lad with a latent perfectionist streak. I can write. I can also edit dispassionately. But, I cannot happily stitch four moderately redundant, internally inconsistent papers into something I'll turn in. The sad part is, I know we could just staple the four papers together, in any order, spelling mistakes and all, and probably get an 'A' on it.

Sunday 18-April-2004

it's 2257: Went to KC this evening with my parents to see the Old Blind Dogs. Damn good, even beating out Battlefield Band as my fav. Scottish live band. If ye can gang alang wi' the Lallans tongue, I'll recommend any of their three latest (Green Linnet) albums.

Worth the diversion from schoolwork I should be doing but am not. At the office, tomorrow, then.

Sunday 11-April-2004

it's 1523: For lack of news to post
I'll mention that my father was passing through last weekend, and took some action shots of me on C-D ("Certain Death", my recumbent). First time anyone's bothered to photo me on the luge-lawnchair. By the aerobelly, it's also apparent that I haven't ridden a century in 8 months.

Sunday 28-March-2004

it's 2001: Back from a little bit of a Spring Break. Took the train up to Chicago for 2 days. Mostly aimless wandering. Probably 20 miles on my combat boots and 50 on my CTA pass.

It does me much good to go to bigger cities from time to time. Like I go to (non-concert) nightclubs once a year... to recheck that I dislike nightclubs... I need to go to cities to renew how much I like smaller town life. It puts in relief the fact that, while I'm a terminally shy and lonely guy, I even less enjoy being lonely in a profusion of people. I suppose, schizophrenia would seem a reasonable outlet for city life for such as myself.

On the other hand, I guess I'd take the heart of the city over the suburbs.

Great Big Sea / Push Stars on Friday night was a damnably good time though. I love GBS crowds... so all-age, so hearty, so happy. So "the only place I was in Chicago where the lasses didn't have identical blond streaks/corn rows and matching leather jacket/handbag/shoes". Cheering to me to see a block long lineup (sellout) for the b'ys, when I personally know no GBS fans other than my foistees.

Jumping up and down for a 2 hours concert wasn't necessarily smart after walking 10 miles per day, but it was certainly fun.


Walked around Caleob's property today (38.52N, 95.49W). I think he's scaling it down to reality with each passing day, and a good reality at that. The first house will be straw-bale, small, on a slab. Move there by the end of the summer to stop paying town rent. Start on the bigger house after learning on the small one.

I'm hoping to spend a fair bit of the summer out there... I'm really just about ready to settle into something similar.

Wednesday 17-March-2004

it's 1000: redlami pointed to, and I shall also point: A softer world.

Friday 05-March-2004

it's 1517: Potholes
Every year about this time, I find something beautiful about potholes.

If nothing else, I'll honor them just because no one else will.

They are my reminder that Nature, Earth, Eris... whatever will win out. One winter and the roads crumble. Even if there weren't cars driving over them, grass will grow out of every parking lot someday. Nothing we do here is permanent in the long long-term. It may be significant... that's relative... but it won't be permanent. This makes me pretty damn happy.


Kelly sent me a link to a motorcyclist touring the Chernobyl area. I have to agree with her, it's really high on the list of places I'd go visit if I had the chance.

Thursday 26-February-2004

it's 1146: How big is a car?
Context is an amazing thing. We were discussing cars over Mardi Gras dinner. Somehow, one participant mentioned a big old '18 foot long' car. Someone else said that wasn't very long.

We went out and measured a 16.5 foot long Subaru and an 16 foot long Nissan. All were rather surprised. We measured 16 feet by 6 feet in their apartment. All were rather surprised.

It's not really enough to think about it. Almost all minds get very lost on size matters. Go measure for yourself, then bring the car into a human sized space.

Minimal dimensions for a (head-in) parking lot are 9 foot wide stalls, 19 feet long, with a 24' aisle. Wal-Mart, Simon Properties Malls, and others specify larger stalls for easier access. After all, the minimum is tight on a minivan or Explorer.

Thus, the minimum is 279 sq ft + a bare minimum of 41 sq ft of egress (end of aisle space), so 320 sq ft.

My apartment is 900 sq ft. This is a reasonably sized two bedroom apartment.

One could not park three cars in this apartment.

I have a roommate, divide by two.

There are three stories in my building. By this land allocation, my apartment takes less land than a parking space. I, 6 bikes, 2 cats, and a very materially rich life live comfortably in half a parking space.

(Bonus observation, in a modern home, what's the ratio between garage floor space and living room floor space?)

Wednesday 25-February-2004

it's 1332: Durned professors...

In my theory of curriculum class (very open-ended philosophical class), the grading was something to the effect of...

Mostly C work = C
Mostly B work + midterm/final = B
Mostly A work + midterm/final + reasonably large project = A.

I turned in my first paper last week. Mediocre, (from my own high self-criticism POV). I'm thinking B paper, right, which will assuage my guilt about not really wanting to do a project.

No such. A. 'Excellent analysis. Come by in office hours and I have some books you ought to read'.

And, so, I will be guilted and guilting myself into a project I don't feel awake enough to do this semester.

Honestly, I think it'll take some adjustment to get used to the inflated grades of a liberal art grad program. See, in Engineering undergraduate classes, Cs are a reasonably good thing. 30% of certain classes get Ds or Fs.

Saturday 21-February-2004

it's 2111: The MP3/ogg meme, 'cause I've enjoyed everyone else's.

Current collection size, 28896 songs, 102 Gigabytes of music, all immediately accessible.

Die Schlagerparade!Collapse )

Monday 05-January-2004

it's 823: I like to have fun with the mundane. I need a copy of my birth certificate, and can't find mine. So, I'm writing Topeka. I notice the form comes in English or Spanish. Of course I fill the darned thing out in Spanish.

Side note: I'm getting junk-mail in Spanish now. I think it's from the Dillon's (Kroger) Plus Card system. I do the automated check-out lane in Spanish, again, because I can, and I think Kroger must have caught on to that.

Anyway, some somebody in Topeka will get the Spanish form for a not-so-hispanic lad, pull my birth certificate, and find that it is filled out in Old English Gothic calligraphy. That is, my dad was as quirky as anyone. Then, s/he'll put it in the self-addressed stamed envelope with truly weird postage. I've got a lot of old stamps to use, but this calls for things like the 1-and-1/4 cent stamps.

I figure the records clerk doesn't often have something-odd-at-work stories.

Saturday 20-December-2003

it's 1340: Came home to Great Bend last night. Spending a week+, which is the most with my folks since going to college.

Went to the Wal-Mart here. Needed some coaxial cable for my parents' TV nest. Wal-Mart is about the only store left in medium-small town Kansas.

Rode a bike. It's under a mile. Wearing my messenger bag, as I am 90% of the time. The greeter told me (unecessarily angrily) that I couldn't wear a backpack. No, I couldn't check it, but I could put it in my car. You could tell she didn't want my type around.

I left.

I got kicked out of Wal-Mart. Damn, I've never been prouder.

Thursday 04-December-2003

it's 1056: Yes, a survey, the dialect one
from redlami first, everyone else about the same time

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Monday 03-November-2003

it's 1554: Halloween, updating interests
Read more...Collapse )

Sunday 21-September-2003

it's 2013: Winfield '03
Back from the annual pilgrimage to the Walnut Valley Festival, aka Winfield because the town isn't half as popular as the festival.

Read more...Collapse )

Saturday 06-September-2003

it's 706: Went out for a Free State (beer, for the uninformed) with Dan my office-neighbor. End of the week thing. Turned into a healthy number of beers in several locations in downtown. Quite nice. Dan enjoys living a bigger persona, so I 'Teller' to his 'Penn'.

At the Red Lyon tavern, saw a lass that looked like someone I knew. Jane was an acquaintance in High School. She had been at KU for a while, and I'd run into her bi-annually. We'd always say "I should call you" and fail.

The last 4 or 5 times I've gone up to a 'Jane', that's who it wasn't. Again last night: "Are you Jane C-------" "No".

I have the sneaking suspicion that there is but one same lass in this town who gets asked "Are you Jane C-------" every six months by the same weirdo.

Up darned early today to go to "Tour de Fat", a 30-mile bike ride and a beer-supplied cyclist rendezvous (specifically, New Belgium [Fat Tire Ale], the sponsor).