Friday, April 30, 2010

So You Want to Work In Emergency Medical Services

Just had to pass this one on...

Note the line: "The suspect was treated at a hospital for hypothermia before being taken to jail." 1. How did he get to the hospital? 2. What part of the hospital was blessed with his presence?

Sometimes it seems that EMS stands for Environmental Management Services--i.e. the clean up staff.

Guess the guy was just mething around, huh.

So Cute Your Head Might Explode

Although the caption portrayed on the cheezburger site made me smile, the photo is serious cute overload all by itself. To see the photo with captions, visit

On Persistence: Adventures in Transportation Maintenance

Kyped from the internet. Much cleaner then my engine compartment, anyway.

Behold the engine compartment of a 2001 PT Cruiser. Looks a lot like my 2002 except for the extra dip stick (manual transmissions have no dip stick). Circled in yellow is the area of the coolant overflow tank. When you are adding antifreeze/antiboil, this is where you put it, especially if the engine is warm. Just open the cap, insert your funnel, and pour away.

Unless it's blowing a gale out, as it was yesterday. In which case the cap gets blown off into the back of the engine compartment. Right into that space just to the left as you look at the photo, to drop down between the engine and the firewall and rest on one of the radiator hoses.

I could see it from above, but no way could I get it. Did the auto parts store I was at have a grabber that could grab it? They did, and while not particularly willing to assist, one of the clerks tried to grab it with the grabber.

He only succeeded in pushing it out of sight towards the back of the car. The wind was a definite factor. Oh, crap. Can you drive a car without this cap on? The vote was mixed, between customers and store crew. No caps in stock that would fit. Could not even see the little yellow cap now, stuck somewhere in the engine compartment.

Pace, pace, pace. Think. Pray. ("Help!") Pace some more. Pray some more. ("Help!")

How about a different point of view. From the side of the car. First, driver's side. Couldn't see a blessed thing. All views obscured by mechanical parts. Passenger side. Nothing from just behind the tire. Couldn't see anything peering through the holes in the aluminum wheels. Now looking between the front passenger tire and fender.

Hey, look! There it is! Still inaccessible without a lift. That is, to pick up the whole car.

You know, when you start to "get it", it's like time slows down and speeds up at the same time. The brilliant idea makes the frantic feeling ease. It calms the mind. You feel the solution is at hand. However, you can't wait to do it. John Wooden's famous saying comes to mind: Be quick but don't hurry.

If I can see it, that means I can draw a line from here, my vantage point, to it. What's a line but a straight shot? If I had an object that was straight and thin, like a stick, I could poke it, knocking it to the ground, then pin it down, and drag it out to where I could pick it up. A long straight stick or rod...

I are a pack rat. My car has many odd things in it. I had a feather cat toy, feathers on top, long flexible plastic handle. I knew this, because I had to move it to get my funnel out. Grabbed cat toy, executed plan to perfection! Cap replaced, everything all good now. Phew!

This little adventure in automotive maintenance got me to thinking about persistence. There are times when failure is, well, still an option, but a damn poor one. It happens in nursing too--especially in the ER. That urinary catheter has to be placed one way or another, vascular access gained one way or another, the NG tube passed one way or another. Doing without is either not possible, or very undesirable. If I can do it, that's quicker for the patient to get definitive care. If we have to call a urologist, or have surgery place a central IV line, it slows things down, decreases the amount of data available, and removes therapeutic options and slows their delivery.

Yes, I have prayed over IV placements and other procedures in the ER. Please Lord, help my hands. Calm my mind, let me use the "Mad Skillz" I have. Help the patient cooperate. Let this be done--and soon. I know it does help, I can think of several occasions when it did.

There are just times when you have to be with Winston Churchill:
Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.
And with the Apostle Paul:
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5 NIV
Of course, I am always amazed at how things can sometimes become. So. Much. More. Complicated!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wasting Time

Yup, I'm doing it.

My car has a glitch that if I don't keep moving, it'll overheat. Actually, my almost 9 year old car with 111,000 miles has a lot of glitches, mostly electrical, but this one, related to the cooling system fan relay, is the most annoying and can have the most effect on your day. So I dived into the library, to let things cool down a little, and ostensibly do some internet research on building a gate for a wooden fence.

However, it is blowing its brains out outside; consistent winds of 30 mph, and being outside is not pleasant. You can feel the humidity rising, dust and pollen are blowing, and it is not real safety friendly for the brush and small tree removal work I need to do before fixing the fence up. So, having done the research, and having been here about an hour, I need to go home and start working on this stuff. But I am beginning to face facts: I don't want to. The problem is that I do have the city yapping at me about both the fence and the small trees and brush, and I do want to keep making progress. I would rather spend money on the fence material and other things I might need, then a ticket. (A side note: I know the city needs a stick to get the unwilling/non compliant/lazy/antisocial to do the work needed on their property, but isn't it counterproductive to fine the willing but poor? So they end up sending their limited funds to city hall instead of using the $$$ towards the work that needs to be done? Just a thought...)

So, I've checked in on the news (no suspects yet in for the crime described in the previous post...), other blogs, and email. I'm doing this blog entry. I might post a photo or two over on the photo blog. Then, I think I'll be ready to head home and tackle the to do list, at least some of it. And, yes, I will check the coolant level in my car. It should not have started to run hot under the conditions it was in.

Observer Kitty is absolutely no help at all for the inspiration to get to work.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just So Sad

There are days I just don't want to write about crime, but there are times you just have to. This photo, from KSHB, is of murder victim Helen Ragan and her husband Corey Jones. Ms. Ragan, 38, was killed by a seemingly random bullet fired into her south Kansas City town home Monday evening. Police later found 10 bullets in the home, and two more in the neighbor's home. It was 2200 or so, when most everyone in the neighborhood was getting ready to settle in for the night. Ms. Ragan and her husband had just settled their 3 school age kids into bedtime.

Mr. Jones came on TV, and, well, he just touched my heart. With tears running down both cheeks, he talked about what he saw, that his wife went down, and it was immediately obvious that she would be dead. He rushed to her, and held her close to him.

Dominique Chambers is Ms. Ragan's eldest son. He was home too. He rushed into the room where his mother and stepfather were after he heard the sounds of the shots. He talked to the media too. With tears running down his smooth cheeks, he sobbed, "I wish I could have done more to protect them." as he thought of how his young siblings saw their mother dying.

Ms. Ragan drove a school bus for her work. Her co-workers looked completely shocked at her murder. One said she was the best coworker. "Her kids love her. It takes a special person to be a bus driver and she was a special person."

I was so taken with the grief of this family, and the care of her coworkers, that I just knew that this lady was special in her life. These random bullets--yes, you could say that many shots speaks of intent, but so far we have not heard of any good reason to target this family--took this lady away from her family, her coworkers, her friends, her neighbors, her "customers" (the kids that ride her school bus), and left holes to fill. Holes in schedules, holes in plans and most painfully holes in hearts.

My prayers are with this family, that they somehow, will catch their balance and figure out how to limp forward. My prayers are also with the police, that they will catch the person or people that did this. Whether it was truly random, the home picked arbitrarily, or intended for someone in the home, or intended for some other address, the responsibles need to be taken off the street. To shoot hot, fast, deadly lead blindly into a building speaks of a lack of respect for human life, and a person with that much casualness about the value of human life needs to be locked up and away from society.

Link: Perspective from Midtown Miscreant: If pain had a sound... "The only voice that matters in the murder of Helen Ragan, is that of Corey Jones."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Grandfather's Car

This is a photo of my grandfather's car, a 1954 Packard. He was the sole owner until his death at 94(??) in 2006. Unfortunately, he had debt, so it was sold to help with that. I hope the new owner treasures it as much as my grandfather did, and that the new owner has as much fun with it as my grandfather did.

My grandfather was 31 years in the Canadian and American Navy, and was a commander. He was a story teller, a man of humor, a cat person and a pack rat. Because of wildly dysfunctional things in my family, he was basically exiled from my family's life until 1989. I hate all the time that was wasted with that exile.

The car's in the sidebar now, too, along with a picture of the dog that belongs to his daughter--my mother.

I Thank You--A Bit Tardy

Step 9 of the 12 Steps of Recovery instructs a person to make direct amends to people that they have harmed or hurt. Way back on March 31st, Ann T. blessed me with a second award, the "You're Going Places, Baby" award. I needed to pay more attention to this, as I didn't even give a thanks comment to her blog post. What an ingrate! By the way, please go and read the post--it's a hoot. I did start this entry on April 2nd with the required tell five things about myself, got to four, and then yielded to my ADD (or something). So here are the five things about me that go with the Bogey.

Blogger Ann T. has awarded this humble writer an award with a challenge to tell five things about myself and to at least link and name two blogs that I enjoy reading. So first, the five things.

1. I am as mutt Western Euro as you can get. My mother's family Dutch and Scottish. My dad's family Irish and German. The Dutch part has been in America since New York was called New Amsterdam. The Irish and German parts arrived sometime in the 1800s, probably with the large immigration of Germans and Irish that came in just after the Civil War. I was born without any hair. When it came in, it was bright red. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), it turned brunette as I got older. Now, as I approach a half century, it's salted with gray.

2. When I was a preteen in New York. I thought graffiti was cool. I wanted to be a tagger. I kept a running record of graffiti tags I saw in a note book I as I moved around my neighborhood and the city. I would sometimes invent lame tags and commit small acts of vandalism in New York (mainly in buses) before we moved to Vermont. I was only 13 at the time. I still think the art of graffiti is cool, but I'm not much for the vandalism part any more.

3. I've been taking pictures seriously since I was 10 years old. My elementary school had a dark room. I loved working in the dark room. When we moved to Vermont, I was able to put together a little bit of a dark room in the basement of our house, and help with the school's dark room. There will probably be a place for dark rooms, but digital cameras have really changed the landscape. My dark room is in the computer, and doesn't require much "dark."

4. My first car, a family hand me down, was a Volkswagen 412. I really liked that car, even though it wasn't the most reliable we'd ever had. A friend taught me to drive a manual transmission on our family's first four wheel drive, a 1974 Bronco. Three on the tree. Anything I've driven since is easier. My mom has a 1988 BMW that is the coolest, slickest 5 speed around. Only 69,000 miles on this car; she only drives it in the summer. I want!

5. I played all three sports offered in high school--soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball in the spring. I've played some rec and church league hoops and softball as a grown up. Yes, I do love my sports! Did I say I growed up? I still play with cars and balls--maybe not so growed up. ::grin::.

I just did 15 blogs in the previous entry, so I'll just mention that peedee at Queen of the Dogs has the cutest dog pictures ever on her blog--and she'll make you want to move to Florida with her scenic shots.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Some Very Unfinished Business

I was trying to complete this sentence: " The only thing I do worse then receive compliments is _____________." The blank had to be filled by something I actually do--not something I've tried to do and discovered I had no talent for, like playing the guitar, but something I actually do. The reason this comes up is that one of my favorite bloggers, Ann T., has listed some of her favorite bloggers and given them an award. In the past, Ann T. has graced me with two awards, and I have been very remiss in both acknowledging the reward and passing it on. I have felt this as a bit of a burden, as giving the impression of being uptight, and snobby, which I am not. What I am is just really bad at receiving complements. I felt a bit of repentance is in order, and here with are my very tardy responses:

Back on Monday, January 18, 2010, Ann T. bestowed a "Best Blogger Award" to me and with that award, I am to name 15 bloggers upon whom I would give the award. Many of my favorite bloggers have found their ways to my blog rolls, but I want to give some more love to them here.

1. The NBC Action News weather blog discusses very clearly and intelligently the ins and outs of the weather in Kansas City and surrounding areas. It's not just meteorologist Gary Lezak and his gang of mets, but the commenters (called "bloggers" on this blog) that make this the best place to get up to date KC weather info on the net, IMHO.

2. Indy Bikehiker is written by my friend and former pastor John. Spiritually and politically deep and challenging at times, other times, writing about his bike adventures and family, John never fails to make time reading his blog time well spent.

3. Report on Conditions written by Capt. Joe Schmoe of the KBFPD, somewhere in the west, tells great stories, shows wonderful photos, gives inside baseball on the fire service and makes you think on things both profound and funny.

4. Dr. Grumpy in the House His patients are insane, his patience seems infinite, and his writing is excellent. He also has some of the best commenters around!

5. Dr. Edwin Leap Dr. Leap is an Emergency Room doctor in Greenville, SC and a committed Christian. On his blog, he tells stories and provides commentary from a Christian point of view on the state of ER care, health care and life in general.

6. Officer "Smith": Thoughts from Behind the Badge. One of many excellent LEO bloggers around, Officer Smith will give you the low down on many things law enforcement related. I just wish he'd post more often. Isn't that the way with good things--you want more, more, more?

7. Hemmings Blog Hemmings is the place to find all things related to classic cars. Before EBay and Craig's List, they were the place to buy and sell. Now they still do the buy and sell thing pretty well, but also have lots of information for people interested in the old car hobby thing.

8. Tony's Kansas City. I blame Tony for all this blogging stuff. He just had to go on one of our local radio stations to talk about things on his blog. I got curious and started looking in on his blog. The rest is history as they say. His is the "blog of record" for local news around here.

9. Midtown Miscreant MM is a wonderful writer, using his talents to comment on news and crime in our town. He has been posting less for the moment for a while, but I treasure his posts and contributions greatly.

10. Ann T Hathaway Like she says in her profile "stud[ies] darn near everything from world affairs to poetry to ways of life"--a very gifted writer who puts her wide ranging life experiences to good use.

11. Kat's Kats A record of the adventure's of one woman's Teenage Mutant Ninja Kitty Horde, along with funny cat cartoons, and the gateway into a world of cat blogs, to boot.

12. "infinity"-Itis. Life from a patient's point of view, "Warm Socks" (great screen name, no?) writes fetchingly about doctors, and life in general with a chronic illness.

13. PlazaJen's Blog I don't visit this excellent blogger nearly enough. She writes engagingly about her life, our city and oh, yes, knitting.

14. Conservatism with Heart Kansas City conservative lady--she blogs, she has a radio show, she 's got kids, she must be NUTS!

15. Crash Course in Nursing. In a part of the country I used to live in. Similar profile (EMT...useless liberal arts degree). Oh, such memories! I hope the blog continues even after the student days end.

There you have it, the dirty 15 that I should have revealed in January when I got this award!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Storm Chances and An Opportunity Too Good to Pass Up

The Church that I currently attend is hosting a concert with Christian singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman tonight. Money is very tight for me currently, and I did not even think of attending the concert. However, as part of hosting the concert, the church will provide the usual service of a medical emergency team, to help anyone attending who suffers a sudden medical emergency until EMS arrives. I am part of this group, and serve the church every third Sunday evening in this capacity. The team had a sudden vacancy and I was able to fill it, so I will be going to the concert tonight with a friend. I am pretty excited. I remember seeing Mr. Chapman when he was just getting started in music at the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds, and again here in KC several years (at least 10!) ago. The KC Symphony will be with him and it should be a good time.

Steven Curtis Chapman, in a file photo from Wiki.

While I will have full opportunity to hear plenty of music, there is responsibility. I will respond to any medical emergency that comes up. While this is not likely, it is possible. In addition, I am keeping an eye on the weather, as we are setting up some possibilities for severe weather. The National Weather Service is more inclined to think we will get wind and hail, not twisters, but I will review the tornado shelter and evacuations for our church's sanctuary, and be ready to keep our audience safe. Right now, it is very nice outside, with a south breeze and partly sunny skies, but the heating of the day,and some other meteorological issues may make the atmosphere unstable. So we will be aware of what's going on. However, I couldn't pass up this wonderful chance to attend what should be an excellent concert. I pray for no illness or injury, and certainly no flying cows.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

About Barack Obama Junk

It's been something that has been bugging me since Barack Obama's election: the amount of kitschy stuff bearing his likeness that has been produced. It started right after his election and probably peaked around his Inauguration. T shirts, pictures, commemorative food product packaging, jewelery, toys and more. It creeped me out then, and it still does. I was reminded of it again when I noticed these items for sale at the local K Mart.

There, I found regulation and toy sizes of Barack Obama decorated basketballs. Eeesh. With the exception of seeing the occasional T shirt, I thought this trend had passed by. Oh no, there he is. Again.

You can bounce President Obama around for $7.39 a pop.

As well as being, well, just yuk and tasteless in every way, it shows an idolatry that is not good in so many ways. Of course, placing trust in a mortal man is a spiritual sin; in the Ten Commandments, we are instructed by God to worship only Him and not other beings, or things we made. In addition, it lays a heavy burden on Mr. Obama himself, to deliver, to be "the savior" and raises unrealistic hopes and expectations on him on what he should be doing for and giving to people. Finally, paradoxically, it cheapens both him and the office he holds. Do you really want to bounce the president's face on the ground or run it through the washing machine? I can see photos and paintings, but the other stuff? No, no, no.

Oh, I feel the same way about "Jesus junk" too. Just no. Ick.

From The Scanner Files...

KCFD Pumper: on the scene with MAST, er, Kansas City Fire ambulance.

KCFD Dispatch: On the scene with EMS.

This is going to take just a little getting used to...

Just a note: "MAST" is said as the word, not letters. EMS is E-M-S.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Other Chat From the Meeting

The Southern Coalition meeting was quite an informative meeting and moved right along, without a focus on one particular issue. Other topics of interest besides the police station:

Reporting in from City Council: Our two city council reps are quite divided on two issues that will be working their way through the docket down at City Hall. Both John Sharp and Cathy Jolly got a chance to talk about the issues. One issue is the growing and selling of produce in residential neighborhoods--Sharp is for a more lenient law, Jolly wants more restrictions. The second is the giving of liquor selling licenses for hospitality workers to those with felony records. Jolly against it, Sharp for it. Sharp reported that he obtained more money for organizations helping needy Southlanders, and that Habitat for Humanity will be working in the 6th district, including rehab of foreclosed homes and working west of 71. Most of the need is east of 71, but it is good to know that there will be more flex in the system.

Two young men who opened an indoor paint ball court in the old bowling alley off Hickman Mills Drive are looking for support for their plan to do about an acre big outdoor "court". They will need some zoning variances to do their plan. I say bravo for them and I think most of the others were supportive of these two young entrepreneurs. They have a web site, If you are interested in paint ball events for 40 or less, please consider this baby business.

There will be a big neighborhood clean up in September, with some facility for toxic materials and paper shredding services. Also, a meeting on May 11th, starting at 1730, at Grace Pointe Baptist Church with regard to designs for Red Bridge Road between Blue River Road and Grandview Road.

The Hickman Mills School Superintendent said "Hi." and then ran off to deal with the mercury spill at Hickman Mills High earlier today. The EPA has to get involved in this clean up, and decisions have to be made about having school tomorrow.

An older lady, whose real given name is Carol, but goes by "Carrie Nation" gave us a report on the comings and goings of bars and night spots. The main news item: Joshua's, the place in the Crescent Hotel where there was a murder in January appears to have given up on their application and appears to be closing.

That's about it for the meeting. The Southern Community Coalition meets every third Wednesday except for summertime. If you live in district 6, you might consider going every so often. It's good to know what is happening in your community.

Getting a Peek at the New South Patrol Building

SKC folk had a chance at the Southern Coalition meeting tonight to see the plans and drawings for the new South Patrol station. Ground breaking is tentatively planned for August of this year, with completion in 2011. The new station will be just south and a tiny bit west of the Home Depot on Bannister Road, on Marion Park drive. The Traffic Patrol will also be located there as well as the K-9 Division (12 dogs strong at this time), and Bomb and Arson. The emergency back up communications will also be located here. The initial plan to locate the helicopter unit fell to technical concerns, so the choppers will be staying where they are.

Officers present the plans and answer questions.
One page of the inch and one half book of plans for the station--and that was only 50%! They are hoping to finish within the next month and get the project to bid, to catch the building trades between big projects.
Ariel view drawing. North is to the top. I-435 to the west. It's a hard area to visualize, but it is at the intersection that is just west of the Home Depot area. The station itself is the building with two wings. One of the wings will belong to South Patrol. The other wing will belong to the Traffic Patrol. The squarish building is a "multipurpose center" that will contain some of the other services, and work out facilities for the officers. Out buildings are for motor, bomb and arson, and K-9 uses.
Back (top) and front (bottom) views. The bottom view will contain the public entrance. The building will be LEEDS certified. Unfortunately, due to use concerns, they were unable to use the permeable pavement on the parking lot to decrease run off. This is pretty cool, as the current South Patrol station has just gotten worn out, and too small. The officers are looking forward to the new station. As an update, the new Metro Patrol station is almost completely done just south of 75th and Prospect, and it came in on time and under budget. It replaces the Metro station at 63rd and Euclid that is suffering from a moving foundation.

Well Then, There We Are

First spoting of an ambulance bearing the logo of the Kansas City Fire Department.

Well, then.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

MAST Integration to KCFD Going Smoothly, says Chief

The latest incarnation of the livery of an ambulance in Kansas City, MO.
Boy, here's a meeting I would have like to have attended! Kansas City Fire Chief Smokey Dyer met April 9th with various South KC interests. The Jackson County Advocate had an article last week and got lots of Smokey quotes. Only 10 more days before the formal deed is done of ambulance service being transferred to the auspices of the Kansas City Fire Department. The article is from the April 15th, 2010 edition of the Advocate and is by Seann McAnally.

MAST ambulance service is fitting into the Kansas City Fire Department quite nicely, thank you very much. That was the message KCFD Chief Smokey Dyer gave April 9 at the Trailside Center. Speaking as part of the "Second Fridays" program, where local residents, business and civic leaders meet to discuss District 6 issues, Dyer said the recent integration of MAST into the city's fire department was going smoothly and making for a better overall emergency response department.
"I originally felt that making MAST a stand-alone department was the way to go." said John Sharp, city councilman for District 6. "I thought putting it in the fire department was more risky. But the transition has worked out much better than I thought it would. Even some of the die-hard critics of this now don't really have a lot to say."
Dyer said KCFD is trying to get away from using the word "fire" to describe the department, preferring to think of themselves as a "emergency services department" That's important, he said, so that a culture of conflict doesn't spring up between ambulance workers and firefighters.
"We're bringing in 350 new employees who aren't firefighters, " Dyer explained. "We're trying to create a culture where they are equal in our organization." He said he was working on true integration, not a "bolt on" method where MAST is simply added to the existing fire department structure. "When we've seen that bolt-on method in some other cities, firefighters tend to consider ambulance personnel second class citizens, " he said. "You have a culture war that goes on for years, and who really suffers is the citizens who need the services."
He said KCFD now has some 1,350 employees, making it one of the biggest departments in 27 contiguous states, excluding Chicago and Dallas. And Kansas City's department is unique in one way. "We're the only big-city department in the country that is fully integrated with ambulance service," Dyer said. He said it was important that MAST takes care of all ambulance service, not just emergency service. "If you are at Truman Medical Center and they say you need to go home in an ambulance, you won't have to worry about going to the corporate sector and proving you have a credit card."
Dyer said the integration of the two services did save the city money. "We've already reduced by eight less senior managers that are no longer in the system," he said. "That saves almost $800,000. MAST didn't have the support staff that the city has. MAST had legal bills of $400 to $500,000 each year. We've replaced that with a single assistant city attorney at about $75,000 per year. We'll continue to look for more efficiencies."
He said the integration also makes it easier for ambulance workers to do their jobs. He said before the integration, there were few places for EMTs to clean up between calls, unless they could do so "in a Quik Trip bathroom." He said EMTs were often obliged to arrive at calls "covered in blood or vomit." "Now, they'll be able to post them at fire stations where they'll have lockers, shower facilities, and a place to get a warm cup of coffee," he explained.
He said it was important to keep the MAST membership program, where people with chronic conditions can pay a membership fee to cover expected ambulance service. "We don't want a system where people don't call for help because they're worried about the cost," he said.

It's good to see the chief addressing some very important issues here, such as the culture meshing between emergency medical workers and firefighters. He also starts to address the issues of savings for the city, but leaves out a lot of details. He makes it sound like it is going along perfectly. We do know some of the undercurrents of difficulty, mainly from anonymous TKC commenters, that the merger/integration/takeover is running into. Just today, TKC has a piece on pension difficulties. I am not convinced this will be without difficulty as it continues to play out. Stay tuned for further developments.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Dirty Thunderstorm"

Apparently the interplay of the dust, static electricity and other weather factors cause sometimes lightening and thunder near volcanos. This photo, from msnbc, is of the Iceland volcano that is causing the travel problems for Europe. Here is a link to more of msnbc's incredible photographs.


Past Saturday Night--Plaza Quiet, Rest of City Insane

Listening to the scanner on Saturday night is a real trip. It's amazing, we just can't take care of our selves on the weekends. Disturbances, unconscious people, drive by shootings, it's just nuts. While the Plaza was nice and quiet, with a high police presence, the mayor holding court, and formally dressed prom kids ruling the roost, there were fires, shots fired, shots hitting, and all sorts of other madness, mostly on the east part of town. Crazy, we just can't seem to have a good time without getting into trouble.

Here's Bill Cosby on Having a Good Time

Yes, I know drunkenness is very serious topic, but you know, sometimes we just have to laugh at our silly sinful selves. For one, it keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. And you know, humor has been known to lead to break throughs and insights.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Night Cruises Are Back!

The Long Branch at 91st and Metcalf in beautiful Overland Park, KS is again sponsoring an all make laid back just fun cruise night on every Friday night for auto enthusiasts. Come on out some Friday evening, starting around 5 or 6 to see lots of neat cars. An additional note for Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge/DeSoto/AMC enthusiasts: HPAC will cruise at the same spot on the third Saturday of the month, starting tomorrow. HPAC also will have cruises in Independence, MO and Topeka, KS. Check in at the website for more information on the cruises and on the big show in July.

In Which The Observer Confesses...

I've kept the emotional navel gazing to a minimum in this forum, but I have to confess that it's been a bit of a struggle lately to stay positive and keep a right picture of myself in my head. I tend towards the negative in myself, and can get in quite the negative cycle of seeing myself as pretty defective and lacking in what it takes to succeed in this tough world. I am still trying to make peace with the past, striking the proper balance between learning from and using for a spring board the mistakes, sins, goof ups, bad timings and open-mouth-insert-foot moments and revisiting all of the above and using them to convict myself of general worthlessness. The tapes tends towards worthlessness.

Yup, the Observer has emotional baggage.

As a Christian, I know already I have a price on me. That price is the Cross of Christ, He who suffered, died and was raised to redeem me from sin and death. The knowledge of that is secure in my mind---it took awhile, but I think I have it pretty well installed there. The problem is getting it to be secure in my heart, in my emotions. Sometimes, I realize my value fully and can step out in confidence, ready to go and do, and be successful, and if not fully successful, to deal with failure in a productive way. Other times, I doubt myself and my abilities completely, become anxious about failure and rejection and end up doing nothing. Doing nothing is not a good thing, if nothing is the only thing that gets done.

I can't really wait to be perfect any more. But somehow, just trying harder doesn't seem to be the answer either. I'm thinking maybe just small steps would break the stalemate. That, and trusting God to show the way, to empower me, give me wisdom and help me overcome those who oppose me, trusting Him to know where I am supposed to be. Thankfully, I don't do this alone, as God's Holy Spirit is with me, as well as supportive brothers and sisters in Christ.

Thanks for reading.
The pensive Observer.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

National Geographic: May 1959: First Color Portraits of the Heavens

Our first look inside our old National Geographic collection is this article on a break through in color photography in astronomy. Previous to this film development, the full spectrum of color would not show up on photographs taken through the newly developed super telescopes in the Palomar Observatory in California. Some historical perspective is in order: Sputnik was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, and later that year they sent a dog up with a rocket capsule. The U.S. successfully launched Explorer in 1958. It would not be until 1961 that a man would orbit the earth. So these pictures were news in 1959, as humanity took its first steps towards exploring outer space.

The photo shows a supernova, with hot stars nearby.

In the paragraph with this photograph of Andromeda, Hubble is mentioned. Now we get amazing pictures from the orbiting telescope with his name on it.

On the left a photo of a "hot star", to the right a nebula that is a part of the constellation Orion's sword.

Amazing and beautiful photo. The slight blurriness of the stars is not me, but the photo. It's hard to remember that everything in space is moving very fast. The photo is of a nebula in the Milky Way.

Amazing stuff here. The photo is of dust in the constellation Cygnus.

Remember, to embiggen, click on the photo. The back button brings you back.

Let's Lighten Up A Bit

Probably begging at the table even as we speak...

Wayside Waifs had their Spring Adoptathon event this past weekend, with reduced adoption fees, special events and on location radio broadcasts, and the results were pretty darn good. 217 animals were adopted out to new homes. Bravo, and congratulations to all the new pet guardians out there!

A Pungent Question

Well, two days out from the Plaza incident (riot, wilding, melee, flash mob; pick your favorite) and a very difficult question popped into my head. Now, before we get into this, let me say that my basic "no tolerance" "apply heavy doses of law and order stat" stand has not changed. This is an incident that cannot be repeated again and again. Because that will cause the Plaza to shrivel up and die just like the Bannister Mall did. When I moved here in 1989, the Bannister Mall was a lively shopping show place. In 2007, the Mall was closed and now it is torn down. It was a victim of both real problems and rumors of real problems--the full story of Bannister Mall is itself worthy of telling at some point. Anyway, back to the question...

Does it make a difference that the kids were Black? If 1000 White kids showed up in a group, would everyone react the same?
First, let me tell you that I believe the majority of normal adults, out for dinner, shopping, a movie, etc. on the Plaza would be apprehensive if they saw a group of teens together no matter what the color. Especially male teens. Teens are unpredictable, risk taking and often quite mean to others. They are loud and often verbally intrusive and disrespectful. I don't know if it has always been this way. It may have been. It may be that this behavior is a product of the way kids are being raised these days. I don't know. As I mentioned in a previous post, the older generation always thinks the younger generation is going straight to Hell in a breadbasket.

I was thinking about the study done some years ago, about how even Black people found themselves feeling fear when around male young Blacks. Of course, Whites in the study expressed fear about being around male young Blacks. I have become conscious of this as I move around in the world, and have often had to talk myself out of being fearful around Blacks when I know that I would not fear a White person of the same demographic group.

My answer to the pungent question? Yes, it does make a difference that the kids were Black. First, I bet there was more anticipation of trouble--oh, oh, a bunch of Black kids. Second, when trouble did start, response may have swung one of two ways. Low, worrying about racial profiling and too much "force" against Blacks. High, really indeed, an over reaction to the situation, applying too many resources and "force" (the pepper spray got a few peoples' danders up). In fact, the somewhat uncoordinated appearance of the response may have been due to both these factors.

Let me quote, well, myself:
Kansas City was on the front line of the Civil War in many ways, and culturally, there are still some groups of Blacks and Whites who are still fighting both the Civil War, and the Civil Rights War of the 1950s and 1960s. Undercurrents of race run deep and strong in this town, often to our detriment...
We are segregated in almost all of our residential areas, and many of our recreational and entertainment venues. The big things like the Stadiums, Sprint Center and the casinos are probably the most integrated, and cause the least anxiety on the part of anyone going to them. But other areas make people anxious. I know I have met veterans who are nervous about the mostly Black and poor neighborhood around the KC VA Hospital. I have heard Blacks tell me they get nervous about going to Johnson County KS neighborhoods (the suburban enclave is mostly White). Blacks fear profiling and being bothered for "Doing Things While Black." Whites fear crime and attack. Because the groups mingle so little socially, fear and ignorance breed more fear and ignorance...and so on.

I don't have an answer. The problem is as old as humanity. We probably are not going to solve it right away here. Some are forecasting a "long hot summer" in Kansas City. They are not speaking meteorologically, either. I hope not, because it's just that kind of thing that will kill a city. No one with money, Black or White, will hang around so they can be in danger in their homes, workplaces and shopping areas. People will move to be safe.

The irony is that the whole concept of race is biologically unsupported. DNA differences are tiny. It's really about culture differences, fed by isolation from one another and ignorance about each other, which breeds fear.

I had a painful revelation today. It is easier to talk to my White neighbors then my Black neighbors. I am racially awake and aware of these things, and yet, here I am. Ouch.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Plaza Wilding: Links

Thanks to Crime Scene KC for the link to me in his blog post on the events at the Plaza this weekend. You can see the post here. Here's a new post from today.

Tony forgot to label today's posts (Labeling is a new thing for Tony) so here and here are more Tony posts on the event, including Mayor Funkhouser's less than inspiring response to the situation.

Mo Rage, who is way more liberal than I am but still has a good blog that you should read, has multiple postings. I'll start you with the one where he notes he may be the only news oriented blogger (I love this!) that actually lives on the Plaza. Here's a link to all of Mo Rage's Plaza related posts. Be patient with his site; sometimes it takes a minute to load.

There is more, more, out there if you are interested. I'll end with the often annoying, yet always thought provoking Radioman Kansas City's take on things today. Here's a link to all his posts labeled "racism, racists and PC." Be patient with his site; sometimes it takes a minute to load.

Nip it in the bud, I say.

I know, I know, real bloggers don't get all excited when they are linked by someone else...changing the title now.::blush::

Tuesday, April 13th: A couple of more links for you. WNBT--Will Not Be Televised has an interesting take--language warning! Midtown Miscreant popped in with a strong word as well. Enjoy.

Plaza Wilding: Some Comments From the People

Fault the internet all you want for its proclivity for snark, irony and the ad hominum attack but where else can you get some first hand reporting and commentary from people who are closer to a situation then you are? I have just started wandering through the newsie comment sections and have found some good stuff.

A quick update on the event itself: it appears that there was substantial planning, especially on the part of students from two high schools, Westport and Raytown South, but other schools may also be involved. The participants were almost all under 18. Here is a comment, from the KSHB site, of a witness/victim:
I was there that night from 7:30 to 10:30 and it was ridiculous. It started out alright our group of girls having a blast laughing, taking pictures and shopping everything that the plaza is about. Having all the teens around was very annoying, many were rude, obnoxious, even cat calling but we turned the other cheek and kept walking. Until around 9:30 we were by the big fountain posing for a pic when a large group of guys comes running up behind us and a child probably 12 charges us tackling one of my friends in to the nasty fountain water(phone, and purse in hand)and what happens he merely gets cheer from his group and they race off towards the plaza. Once we were sure she was okay, we made our way to the police. As we got closer we find that pure chaos has erupted- fights, purse snatching, running in the streets. The police were doing the best they could but the second they stopped the problem children on one end of the plaza it would start up on the other end. After talking to the police we no longer wanted to stay in the plaza fearing for our safety. But trying to leave was easier said than done- for with all the flocks of kids and traffic jams. At one point I was in the left turn lane at a light and as I am about to turn, hundreds of kids are stampeding around my car and all thru the street they are lucky that no one was hit. In our car all of us were hacking and coughing from the pepper spray. It was a horrific night that we will not soon forget. I just hope that the situation is taken care of and this can be stopped because I don’t know if I will be returning to the plaza till it is.

Another eyewitness chimes in, from yesterdays Kansas City Star article:
justjane wrote on 4/11/2010 10:52:58 AM:

Yes this is a race issue, isn't it okay to call it what it is as long as we're not being racist while we're doing it? There is a distinction. All of the media reports I've read have felt it necessary not to mention this; some reporters go as far to say that these kids weren't even doing anything, and the cops showed up for fun! Imagine, dozens of police on almost every corner and paddy wagons to boot! I was there last night. I regularly walk to the Plaza, and last night I went to meet up with some friends. I should have turned back when I saw the police lights and helicopter circling. Here are the things I saw: A large mob (probably about 70) of African-American teenagers running and screaming down the street. I thought someone had been shot. By St. John, one teenager was being held down while 2 dozen or so kids watched some boys beat the lights out of him. I nearly became entangled with this crowd and had to run across the street to get away. This is the SECOND WEEKEND IN A ROW this has happened. And if anyone can remember, this is not the first time in history Kansas City has had race riots. What's the full story here? Someone want to interview these kids? Someone want to track down how they are organizing this flash mob? Is there a reporter left in KC who isn't too scared to dig around or are we really just going to interview other Star employees (which is rather unethical journalism) to put together a story where the lead is so buried, it's non-existent?

Here is a terrific series of comments from the Kansas City Star's news article today.
wilsonswifey66 wrote on 4/12/2010 12:25:08 PM:

This is why, we as black people are not welcome anywhere. When all that outcry of "foul" came upon the Sprint Center and its rules, I said to myself, "good for them!" I don't blame them for not wanting us anywhere their property. Instead of acting like civilized human beings, we act like a bunch of wild, ignorant animals and then as you can see from this story, we pass this ignorance right on to our children. Then we want to cry racism and blame white people for our problems. Assume responsibility for yourselves and your children. Stop the vicious cycle of stupidity and ignorance and start parenting your children and start acting like grown ups - instead of useless leeches on our society. Absolutely disgusting and shameful!

wilsonswifey66 wrote on 4/12/2010 12:39:31 PM:

These are the same people (MY people, I acknowledge shamefully) that have destroyed and continue to destroy our neighborhoods. Walk through my neighborhood and see the homes with trash in the front and back yards, broken, unreplaced blinds, children hanging out all hours of the day, parents blasting music and t.v.'s all night long, yards strewn with empty beer cans or liquor bottles...yet, this doesn't outrage us. We are quick to cry racism and cry that white people have done this to us...done what?? What white person told you to spend over $300 in clothes, nails and hair while your children's education is non-existent? What white person told you to keep your house and yard so nasty? What white person told you that it's okay to stay home and live off of government assistance?? While we are so busy pointing one finger at someone, remember we'll always have 3 fingers pointing right back at us. Take responsibility for yourselves. We're so busy looking for a handout that we have no idea how to be self-sufficient and we are teaching our children the same insanity.

Our fearless and intrepid Black lady poster responded to another commenter thusly:

wilsonswifey66 wrote on 4/12/2010 12:47:00 PM:

az2ks, I posted my comment again because you obviously didn't read it thoroughly the first time. I happened to agree with the Sprint Center - read it again..this time slowly and try receiving, instead of being so quick to post...

"This is why, we as black people are not welcome anywhere. When all that outcry of "foul" came upon the Sprint Center and its rules, I said to myself, "good for them!" (SEE, THIS IS THE PART WHERE I'M AGREEING WITH THE SPRINT CENTER) I don't blame them for not wanting us anywhere their property. Instead of acting like civilized human beings, we act like a bunch of wild, ignorant animals and then as you can see from this story, we pass this ignorance right on to our children. Then we want to cry racism and blame white people for our problems. (THIS IS THE PART WHERE I STATE MY PEOPLE ARE QUICK TO CRY RACISM OR BLAME WHITE PEOPLE FOR PROBLEMS WE CREATED OURSELVES..DID YOU SEE THAT?) Assume responsibility for yourselves and your children. Stop the vicious cycle of stupidity and ignorance and start parenting your children and start acting like grown ups - instead of useless leeches on our society. Absolutely disgusting and shameful!" (BY DISGUSTING AND SHAMEFUL, I'M REFERRING TO THE ACTIONS OF THE DESTRUCTIVE TEENS)

If you need anymore help understanding what you read, just let me know. Thanks.

Another excellent comment, along the same lines, from yesterday's Star:
smartbrother wrote on 4/11/2010 11:33:01 AM:

This is my last comment on this article, and it's not addressed to the racists who post here. It's for anyone who's black and can understand. If you open your eyes, you can see what's going on here. A picture is being painted. Those of us who have influence in the black community cannot just cluck our tongues and shake our heads and dismiss what's happening to our youth. People are being misled to believe that all of us are criminals, and are being pushed toward acting against us, and when they do, they won't take time to see who's thugging and who isn't, so just because you're not in the ghetto doesn't mean the problem isn't yours. We need to look out for our own lost youth before others start figuring that since we murder each other they might as well murder us too.

I still believe that even though the "why" issues are important, the first thing is to protect this economically and image important part of our city. We do need to ponder, however, how it is we are raising our kids of all races (see this Dr. Laura blog post about the situation in South Hadley, MA for more stuff that makes you wonder about the next generations), and what they are growing up to be.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Was That The Plaza Last Night?

Well, I did this and that yesterday: some cleaning, some computer work, some visiting. I went home, and as I was relaxing around 2330 last night, I turned on the scanner last night to see if anything bad was happening in The Big Town last night. It quickly became apparent from the activity on the police channels that this was not an ordinary Saturday night on the Country Club Plaza. The police chopper was up, and the police were rounding up rowdies that apparently had been on the Plaza (official web site) since 2200, making trouble. They were mostly underage (18) teens, in clumps, fighting, threatening cars and so forth. Thankfully, after enforcement of the midnight curfew, things returned to more normal, but not before one person was badly injured in an assault, and others were terrified and made to feel unsafe.

Now, we have an area in KC called Westport, that routinely attracts police attention on Friday and Saturday nights. The police have planned out Westport; they know where the trouble areas are and work to remove potential problems. Even so, I have personally heard the action around murders that have taken place in Westport live on my scanner. But gathering crowds in the Plaza area are new--and disturbing to most Kansas Citians. The Plaza is one of our most well known area, a place that draws out of towners and tourists, a place where commerce is usually freely done, and thus a place of serious economic importance to our town.

Before we go on, let me give you some links: The Kansas City Star whose simple article has over 312 comments. KMBC, whose report features some "you are there" home video that looks plenty scary. Tony of TKC actually caught the first wave of this with reporting on last week's similar but smaller episode, and whose 2200 4/10 blog post has 125 comments. KSHB has some more reporting and video.

Because most of the teens in question are Black, and the Plaza is considered a White area, this event has become racially charged. There may be some racial issues involved: Kansas City was on the front line of the Civil War in many ways, and culturally, there are still some groups of Blacks and Whites who are still fighting both the Civil War, and the Civil Rights War of the 1950s and 1960s. Undercurrents of race run deep and strong in this town, often to our detriment as seen by the debris of the KCMO School District.

To deal with this though, we must keep race out of the discussion. This is a law and order issue. Underaged persons came together, whether spontaneously, or by organization by social media, to intentionally be disruptive and break the law. We cannot defang the police force by forcing racial worries on them. Then we will see non-action, "depolicing", the KCPD handcuffed by rules of engagement that keep them from dealing with the miscreants in the forceful manner that they must be dealt with, period. Youngsters under the midnight curfew age are held until parents get them, then there are fines, court dates, the whole shebang. For adults, as many charges as can be thought of, and they get to sit in jail until bailed out. Repeat until the word is out that acting the fool in the Plaza will get you thrown in jail. First, deal with the problem. Discussions about class warfare, race warfare, entitlement mentalities, crappy absent/abusive/addicted parents, and what to do with bored teenagers are all very interesting, and may eventually be productive of something, but they will not solve the problem of one of our primary and premiere areas of town being harassed and held hostage by a bunch of thugs. Only forceful uncompromising enforcement of law and order will.

Friday, April 9, 2010

It's Spring--My ADD Has Kicked In

Oh, it is so pretty outside today! There's a mild breeze, it's about 70, and not a cloud in the sky! There's about 16 things I could be doing, including some important things, like finishing up the yearly report to the IRS. There's the yard, the car, the house, all needing spring cleaning. There's some blogging to do. There's employment related things to do. Do, do, do! So many things my head might explode. So, what happens? Not much of anything--typical! I did wander over to Wayside Waifs to see how things were going with the adoptathon. It was busy, and they'd adopted out quite a few animals, mostly dogs.

See what I mean? Just gorgeous out. So bright it hurts.

The National Geographics are catching some of this sunshine today, to freshen them up a bit. I am looking forward to digging into them and sharing things on the blog. Someone likes to leave old mags at the library; some late 1980s car mags turned up today.

This sort of bloggy prattle could go on, but I'm going to stop now, fold up my computer tent and go home and do something useful. Or, I might just find my golf clubs and see if I can still hit the little dimpled ball at all. Ya never know what could happen. I'll see what catches my wandering attention.

Parting cute dog shot: I think they are Chihuahua/Sitzu mixes.