Saturday, July 31, 2010

One Year Without TV

I was all ready for the digital change. I had conversion boxes for my TVs and I was ready to go.

I never bothered to hook them up. So I have been without TV since June 12, 2009. Now, I had already made a decision to forgo cable/satellite for the TV a long time ago. I find the services too pricey. I only had cable when I really needed it, because I couldn't get some channels. So the jolt was not as bad as if I had cable, with the bazillion channels. There would be more to miss.

And I do miss some things. I was a fan of all the CSIs, although I definitely missed William Peterson in the original. I miss seeing sporting events on a regular basis. I miss Cops, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and America's Funniest Videos. My junk TV admissions. There are a few shows that have been canceled that I enjoyed: Numbers, The Unit, Cold Case.

I don't miss the "if it bleeds, it leads" local news. I don't miss most reality programming such as American Idol, Survivor, Big Brother, Dancing with the Stars, Hell's Kitchen and so on. I was never a regular viewer of things such as The Bachelor, America's Next Top Model, or Amazing Race. I'm not up instantly on all the latest pop culture people and themes. When I saw an article on line about someone named "Snooki" being arrested, I had to look up this person to find out who she is. (She's on some cable show called Jersey Shore.)

Now, I'm not trying to set myself up as being holier than thou; God knows I get enough stuff through other media: on line, the radio, and in print. I've watched episodic TV on services such as Hulu. (I just had to know what happened with CSI: New York at the beginning of the '09-'10 season!) I have listened to most of the sports games I have wanted to keep up on, and I have gone to sports bars and restaurants for the really big or important games. I have also watched game action on line. I get my news on line, and watch video reports, although I don't watch every single one. I get local news from blogs too.

But the one thing I have more of since I stopped watching TV: Time. I have much more time. I have time to work around my house, visit with friends, play games, exercise and work on line. I would highly recommend the TV fast. Maybe you don't give up TV, but you fast from it. You decide that there are better things to do in an evenings' time. Summer's a perfect time, with reruns and football not having started yet.

Going without TV completely may not be everyone's cup of tea, but to cut back or have a time of abstaining will help you put TV in its rightful place in the life of your family, faith and community.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

When the Station Wagon Was King

Awhile back I came across an old magazine with these two wonderful old car ads. If you've been following Hemmings at all, you've probably noticed that the old family roadster is enjoying something of a second life. Here are two ads for wagons from 40 years ago.

They call that vanishing tailgate "the clamshell tailgate." And then there was the Vega, which was disappointing in all its body types. Meantime, Ford was dazzling us with the "woody" exterior flourishes. A friend of mine had the Torino wagon. It had the windows in the roof, the "Vista Cruiser" windows, so you could look at the sky. Hers was just plain dark blue though. No "wood."

Things have changed a lot in 40 years haven't they?

Except parents are probably still telling kids, "Don't make me have to pull this car over."

Police Stories: Lost and Found

This entry is about losing things and finding them again.

First we have the story of Leon Jordan's murder 40 years ago. The Kansas City Star ran an article urging that police reopen this cold case, and try to solve it in the spirit of many cases from the "Civil Rights" era that have been solved. In the story, the reporters note that the shotgun used in the murder, and the finger print transfer cards had been misplaced. Well, both the finger print cards and the shotgun have been found. Lord knows where the finger print cards were. Seems as if a few officers, evidence techs and CSIs got curious and started poking around in the dustier corners of KCPD storage areas and found them. On the finger print cards was the serial number of the missing gun. A tech, out of curiosity, ran the number through the computer weapons tracking system. And got a hit. The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department owned the gun. It was in a patrol car even at that very moment. Seems as if the gun was sold to an unknown person, then bought by KCPD from a gun dealer, because it was the model of shotgun that the department uses. Needless to say, this "cold case" is now being reopened. Read more about the finding of the gun, etc. here.

Next thing found is a person, namely Larry Schnackenberg. Mr. Schnackenberg, 58, was running errands July 8 and suddenly disappeared. His car, with his cell phone, wallet with money and ID in it were found in Shawnee Mission Park. Volunteers looked pretty steadily for Mr. Schnackenberg all that weekend without finding him. The case filtered out of the news cycle, although missing posters remained up around town. I personally figured that Mr. Schnackenberg's body would turn up eventually. Well, surprise, surprise, when a park security employee saw Mr. Schnackenberg on a trail near Shawnee Mission Park. Rick Reynolds had acquaintance with Mr. Schnackenberg, so when he saw him while on bike patrol yesterday, he recognized him despite his weight loss and weathered appearance. He was reunited with his family at Shawnee Mission Medical Center later in the day. The family is happy to have him back. However, the questions are flowing, especially from readers and viewers of the news. Because Mr. Schnackenberg appeared to be of sound mind before his disappearance, and he appeared to not have been assaulted or otherwise bothered, and he did reappear in decent enough shape, people are questioning the legitimacy of the disappearance and whether or not it was engineered or done on purpose. Even his family says that they've got some questions. So this story may not be over yet. It does have this extra dimension, because the family brought the media in after his disappearance quickly, and now there are all these extra people wanting answers. It's the price that is paid for using the media in these types of cases. Speaking of media, here are some news links. KMBC notes that he had a beard, and had lost his footwear when he was found. The KC Star also has the story, and video of the family's news conference.

So there you are. Things usually don't disappear forever. That's pretty rare. They usually turn up someplace.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Intuitively, just listening to my scanner, I can tell you there is a difference in response times since Kansas City's EMS was taken over by the Kansas City Fire Department--and it's not a difference of the good kind. Because I live in South KC, I can tell you that this area has suffered at times for lack of a post in the west south of 95th Street. I was assuming that there would be an ambulance at 99th and Holmes but it seems that ambulance is frequently pulled north, leaving all the southland for the ambulance at Hillcrest and Red Bridge, and dynamic ambulances don't seem to be circulating very quickly. I write this only because I have noticed it anecdotally--I don't have numbers. Apparently, there are some real difficulties north of the river. Today, Tony of TKC blogged on the MAST/KCFD take over and noted that in an upcoming report that he describes as a "city hall report," response time goals have been met only 60% of the time up in the Northland, as opposed to 82% before the take over. He also noted that ambulance shifts have gone unfilled, operations have suffered due to fire department inexperience with EMS, and morale is low.

What does an average person have to do to get those response time numbers on that "city hall report"? In this day and age of the internet, there is no excuse for this information not being on the web. EMS has been run by the KCFD since May 1--that gives two, almost three months of response data under the new regime. I can find none of it. None on KCMO's web site. None by search engine. None. Bupkis. Nada. Zippiddy do. (You got ideas about where to find the info? Share in the comment section please. If that's too public, give a point of contact and I'll get back to you.)

Is this going to require a big effort on my part, using words like "Freedom of Information Act" and lots of e-mails and phone calls? It shouldn't, really, it should not be hard for a citizen who has a life (i.e. not all day to bug the fools down at city hall) to find out how their EMS is doing with number of calls, response times, and other important data.

As to the (apparently) less than impressive results thus far for KCFD EMS, well, I am not surprised. With regard to the pension problems, well, I told you that would be a problem.

Photo: Cell phone pic of pumper and ambulance at a call at Blue Ridge Boulevard and Holmes.

P.S. Not only do I want to know response times and stuff like that related to performance, I want to know are we putting the same number of ambulances out at a given time of day that were out when it was MAST? I wouldn't be surprised to find out that during peak times, there are fewer ambulances then under MAST and at non-peak times there are more ambulances than under MAST. The system is just not as flexible as it was...

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's About Time Someone Told the Truth About Job Hunting!

Kudos to writer Diane Stafford and the Kansas City Star for running an article--linked here-- that tells the truth about job hunting these days. I've been saying this for a while, and some have rolled their eyes, thinking I was making excuses for people.

Employers are looking for the impossible. As one commenter to the Star article put it so perfectly: Basically, they are all looking for a highly skilled 30 year old, with 20 years of experience in the field, who still lives at home, and will work for $12/hour.

Employers don't want to train. Employers don't want someone who has enthusiasm for the job but less than perfect credentials. And God forbid you have ever had any trouble, job trouble...ever been fired or asked to resign. Heaven forbid that you are introverted and have trouble "networking" and making connections or cold calling people...

What's going to happen is two things: The work world will become less diverse. It will be filled with "salesman" types who will become the only ones able to work through (or around) the tedious, attacking and adversarial hiring process. All the introverts, less than perfects, too old and too young will be left by the wayside. That's a lot of different problem solving abilities to leave untapped. Secondly, because the "perfect" are small in number, employers will outsource overseas and use temporary and agency help instead to actually get the work done. The longer they go with the opening unfilled, the less likely they are to fill it, as they discover they can live without a person in that job slot.

According to the article, employers are frustrated that they are not getting applicants with "the right qualifications" but I would dispute that. I would say that employers are not getting applicants that they don't have to show loyalty to or do anything for. They just want cogs, ready to drop in a spot, so they can work and make a profit for The Man.

I just reread that sentence and it sounded amazingly cynical and bitter--is that your impression too? Listen, I believe in earning your keep, in proving your worth, in showing merit to receive reward. I know no one "has a right" to a job. However, the way the employment system is now is not a pure meritocracy. It has become this crazy biased place where getting a fair hearing is very close to impossible, where it's more about who you know rather than what you've done, and where certain traits and characteristics are more valued than others--not necessarily because they're better, but because they are simpler to maintain and easier to understand.

I also believe that employers--companies, partnerships, mom and pop--do need to make a profit or at least break even. However, it seems as if more and more employers are being ruled by "unenlightened self interest" to borrow the phrase from author Yves Smith. Companies with share holders are ruled by the quarterly profit report so are reluctant to do things that might cause that profit to suffer. Service suffers as the goal is profit over all else. I keep thinking that this raw focus on the bottom line is going to cause the downfall of the capitalist system. Ms. Smith has a way more educated take on this in this editorial from the New York Times. And I know that she is not the only one to posit in the pages of The Old Grey Lady that endless concern with quarterly profits is bad for capitalism.

If we actually manage to muddle out of the current economic situation, we have some hard thinking to do about the way we do business for and with each other.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pink Taxi Spotted!

Kudos to Tony's Kansas City for alerting me to the possibility of a pink taxi in town back in June. Here's the pink Checker cab at the Wornall and 103rd Street intersection on Thursday, July 22. In October, a portion of the fares collected by this cab will be donated for breast cancer awareness and the Susan G. Koman Foundation. Also, you can charter this cab and have a portion of the fee go to breast cancer awareness and Susan Koman. Checker Cab's website is here for more info on the program and charters.

I'm Behind in Bloggyland!

I didn't jump right up and leave the semi comfort of my home (the air conditioner is on, but not strongly) this morning and so I am behind in bloggyland. I ran a couple errands, including the all important cat food replenishment, and now am ready to check on and in with everything. Good weather news in that we may have some relief here in the heartland for a few days--a weak cold front has come through and rung a bunch of rain out of our atmosphere. Now we'll see if it really gets better or just more humid. My condolences to Ann T. and the rest of Washington DC where the record for the date of 96 was just destroyed by a high of 101 today. Ick!

A short time ago I made an entry concerning a political race between Will Royster and JJ Rizzo. Well, I had this pair contesting for the wrong office. They are running for district 40 of the Missouri House of Representatives, not Jackson County. This continues to be a hot race and will be fun to watch. The district covers what we call the "Old Northeast", one of the longest settled parts of Kansas City. It is an incredibly diverse district with all races, and several nationalities within it. I've been itching to correct this since I realized the mistake a couple of days ago. I decided to look at the districts for the Mo House while I was at it--look at this gerrymandered mess! Can't anyone around here draw a straight line?

Meantime, one JaxCo race is getting veeerrry inter-resting and that is the race between City Councilman Terry Riley and incumbent JaxCo legislator Fred Arbanas. Incumbent, did I say incumbent? Mr. Arbanas has been in the legislature over 30 years. It might just be time for some new blood there. And my question still stands: What does the Jackson County legislature do?!?

So, I see there are entries by other bloggers to look at and possibly comment on, and comments to respond to here, so I better get on it!

Thanks for reading this summery day.
The Observer

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's Hot Outside!

I swore I was not going to complain about the weather. But Lordy, it's flippin' hot outside! As in hot and humid, as in a temperature of 92 with a dew point of 75 degrees. That's obscene! Anything above 65 for a dew point is very uncomfortable. Dew point tells you much more about how it feels outside than the humidity. The humidity right now is about 58%, which on the face of it doesn't sound bad, but it's all about the relationship between the heat and the amount of water vapor in the air. Here's Wiki on dew point. Note the table that shows that dew points of 80 or better are actually dangerous to those with breathing problems.

Basically, we have air you wear. We have air that if you took a portion of it, such as in a box, it would retain its shape after being taken out of the box. Any activity is guaranteed to start a cascade of sweat. I have lived in temperate zones all my life, with all four seasons, and extremes in at least one of them, so I know there will be parts of the year where the weather is not so much enjoyed as tolerated, so I try not to kvetch too too much, really. After all, if I wanted wonderful even weather all the time, I'd move to...California?

Anyway, the above vanity plate about sums it up, don't you think? Only one more week in July and four more weeks in August of this charming stuff!

The above tag is affixed to this hot pink classic Mopar. Come see more Mopars at the Long Branch every third Saturday evening starting at 6 PM.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Update: Car of Slain SKC Man Found

A real quick update--not many details have been made available yet, but Mr. Dutcher's car was found in the 4200 block of East 56th Street. This is about 7 miles north and at least a half mile west of the murder scene.

Pray there is evidence in the car--they didn't say anything about the car being burned or anything so maybe there's something in there that will help with the investigation. Remember the bottle that helped break the 7-11 case?

Murder Returns to Southland

30 year old Nick Dutcher was found dead in his home in the 7600 block of 114th Street. Police were sent to the address to look for Mr. Dutcher after he failed to come to his job at KSHB News. His death appears suspicious and the police are calling it a homicide. They are looking for any kind of information, and they are looking for his car.

On Crime Scene KC, commenter Melissa added a personal touch to the story:

Nick was a friend of mine. I hope they find whoever did this to such a great man. He did not deserve this.. but now he is in a better place. Rest In Peace Big Nick we will always love you.

As noted his car, a silver (I am also seeing reports that it is grey) 2009 Ford Escape is missing. It has Missouri license #WA4-D5R. Police are looking for it.

This is a mock up of what the license plate looks like--it will have the registration sticker in the middle, but otherwise, it should look just like this. The bad guys could stick this on another car, so BOLO for this pattern of letters and numbers anywhere, not just on an Escape.

This is a photo of a 2009 Ford Escape I pinched from some used car joint on the internet.

The photos reveal a pretty big guy, so one has to wonder if he came home and was surprised by one or more armed bad guys in or around his house. The intent may have been burglary or robbery, but now it is murder, and we need to find these bad guys. It seems now for many conscienceless criminals, killing someone is just a bit of fun to add to stealing. People like that need to spend time in jail.

If you have any information, have seen the car and/or license plates, or saw something hinky in the neighborhood of 114th Street and Blue Ridge Boulevard in the hours prior to 4 p.m. yesterday--there are single family homes on the east side of Blue Ridge and apartments on the west side of Blue Ridge--call the Tips Hotline at 816-474-8477. Alonzo Washington would also be glad to take your tip, call him at 913-321-6764.

All murder is bad, tragic for the family and friends of the victim, but it hits a little closer to home when it's in your neighborhood, in places where you might visit, in places where your friends might live. All our murderers need to be caught--we've had 62 killings total in Kansas City and only a fraction of those have been solved. Let's help the police catch these killers.

There have been 6 homicides in the South Patrol of KCPD this year. Here's my blog post on one--the murder of Helen Ragan which remains unsolved. If you have a tip on this or any unsolved murder, call the numbers above.

License plate mock up and pic of Mr. Dutcher from KSHB--here's the story. KCTV5 offered some sympathic coverage, as did KMBC. Mr. Dutcher worked there before going to work for KSHB. Here's the coverage of WDAF as well along with a bevy of comments, some useless and some heart breaking.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Triangle Failure Makes Me Go Hmmm...

View Larger Map

This is the part of the Grandview Triangle that failed over the weekend. From this Google shot, you can see the retaining wall that gave way north east of the road way. This shot intrigues me because it sort of looks like something is already going on with this section of roadway. Doesn't the area of pavement just ahead of the dump truck in the picture look a little off? And look at the retaining wall--doesn't something look a little fishy there too, especially near the wall itself? If this can be proven to be related to something more than the weather, look out. It would be interesting to find out when this was taken.

My guest is that it will be attributed solely to the weather, and us common folk will only have our suspicious thoughts. Meantime, MDOT is saying Fall before it is fixed.

View Larger Map
A more distant view of this spaghetti-fest intersection of I-435, I-470 and US 71. The failure is in the ramp from I-470 W to I-435 W. It also affects people coming up from the south who wish to travel west.

This link to KSHB has some nice photos on it, as well as more details about the situation.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I already posted this to the photo blog, but I'm posting it over here and dedicating to my friend who lost her mom today to cancer. It was a very short illness, but her mom, a dedicated Christian for most of her 91 years, testified to the peace that the Lord was giving her as she faced death. Now, my friend's mom is with Jesus. Please keep my friend and her 6 brothers and sisters in your prayers and thoughts over these next days.

Chrysler's PT Cruiser Fades into History

On July 9th, sometime, the last PT Cruiser rolled off an assembly line in Mexico. The car which ran from 1999 to 2010 had a very interesting run. Starting off with a bang, making in roads in a market very much geared to SUVs and big cars, the PT suffered through the merger of Chrysler with Daimler Benz. The car stagnated, without enough interesting changes and variations.

This car generates very big feelings! People either love them or hate them. Some thought them ugly from the get-go. Others thought them terrific. I have one--the black car in the first photo is mine. It has 114,000 miles on it. I do like it quite a bit. I like its versitility, and its size. The engine power problems that many complain about, I have mitigated by my requirement that the car have a manual transmission. It's had its fix-it issues and right now, I have an electrical glitch in the main brain, but generally speaking the car has served me well.

Just think if the car had been able to advance, and kept fresh by an auto company both interested in its well being and able financially to do so. But culturally, the merger of Chrysler and Daimler was a failure, and when Chrysler was bought by a speculator there was no money or will. Today, there might be will but there is no money, so Chrysler decided to discontinue the model.

Right now, people are saying that the car will not be collectible. That may be so, but I think people who see old PT Cruisers as fun rather than investments will keep a number of them going. I am not trading mine in for a new car--it's not worth much anyway--but retire it out of day to day service when that time comes.

Photos, all by the Observer. My 2002 PT Cruiser, 2010 PT Cruiser at the 2010 KC Auto Show, and the Kia Soul, also at the KC Auto Show, a car that may be attracting now the type of buyer that was attracted to the PT in past years.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Headache, I Have One

I woke up with a headache this morning. I don't like having headaches. I did take some medicine for it and it helped. The news, on the other hand, did not. This stuff is threatening to bring my headache back.

*Spit fight in Kansas City over Arizona's immigration law. The reason we have a spit fight here is because Kris Kobach, a professor at University of Missouri--KC, helped write the Arizona law, and is helping several jurisdictions consider similar laws. He and Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona's Maricopa County appeared in Overland Park yesterday, and attracted several protesters accusing them and their supporters of racism. Honestly, is it racist to close the borders and ask people who wish to immigrate to this country to do it legally?

*NAACP passing a resolution at their convention stating that the "Tea Party Movement" was racist. This is based on scattered signs seen at Tea Party events, and individual statements made by Tea Party attenders. No, just no. Using anecdotal evidence to condemn the entire movement? No. Also, just because the President is a person of color doesn't mean that people who are critical of and disagree with his policies and decisions are racists.

*The Power and Light district in downtown KC will not support itself and will need $10-15 million for 5 to 10 years. This is not what I thought we were getting when we voted for the financing for this thing. ::facepalm::

*Lots of crime, all over the metro. Pick your spot for your flavor of crime. Violent crime? KCMO East Side. Business robberies? Johnson County, KS. Drunks? Everywhere, on a Friday or Saturday night. Stupid drivers? Oh, they're not criminals, unless they are really bad, but they are EVERY WHERE.

*Jackson County government race in the 40th District--accusations of corruption and incompetence flying both ways in the race between JJ Rizzo and Will Royster. So what's true? Beats me. Glad I don't live in the district. By the way, does anyone know what does the Jackson County Legislature does? Correction: This is the Missouri House of Representatives race, not the Jackson County race. And I still want to know what the Jax County legislature does. P.S. It seems like a good idea, but generally, don't blog with a headache.

* Weather. It sucks. Please, if you are visiting from Houston or New Orleans, would you please take this rank humid stuff back with you? Thank you.

* No baseball 'til Friday. Stupid All Star break.

Time for some more acetaminophen. And to stop reading the news.

Monday, July 12, 2010

This Dipwad Needs to Go to Jail

The so-called "barefoot bandit" appears to finally have been collared in the Bahamas. Colton Harri-Moore, 19, was taken into custody after engaging the Bahamian police in a boat chase. They were on the lookout for him after he crashed a stolen airplane in the island nation. This after he committed several burglaries on the island and attempted to steal several boats, damaging their ignitions.

Harris-Moore became something of a celebrated crook, stealing at least five private air craft and flying them without lessons around the United States, and then to the Caribbean. He also broke into residences and businesses for money, food and to amuse himself. People thought he was "cute" because of his youthful appearance, and his Facebook persona. He has over 50,000 Facebook fans. He sometimes left taunts for law enforcement, including an outline of his bare feet at one scene. Now that he is captured, there are tee shirts being sold, "Free Colton."

Phooey to that! His mother says he has been stealing since age 12 and has had many run ins with the law. It's clear that this is a sociopathic person, with no morals except the moral to please himself, and who has no regard for others. He needs to go straight to jail, and for a long time. I am almost positive, barring a complete spiritual, moral and personality transition from God, that he will reoffend, and reoffend, and reoffend...and eventually, when someone wants to protect what they worked for from this parasite, he will turn violent and hurt someone. And even if he professes a conversion experience, he would serve his jail terms, because he needs to earn the trust of others. I'm not sure I'd believe him right away.

Also, any money from films, books etc. that anyone would be foolish enough to make regarding this individual should go to a victim's fund, not to him or his brain dead mother who is "proud he taught himself to fly." Personally, I would not find his story the least appealing to read or watch.

My tee shirt would read, "Jail Harris-Moore!"

I had my pick of newsie links: Here's ABC. There are lots of others.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Test Drive Fail

I don't know about you but I was out in the sun today, having fun and doin' work too. All those shiny cars at the car show got me to looking at the sorry state of my faithful daily driver, so it's all clean and shiny too--including the aluminum wheels. So, in honor of the sun bleached state of my brain and the automotive theme of the day, I present to you, an automotive fail. This one's local--happened at Blue Springs Ford in Blue Springs, MO, an eastern suburb of Kansas City back in late June. I kyped this photo off of one of the news sites (KSHB and KMBC had the story), and sent it in to Fail Blog:

The person who took the photos was holding out on us! He saved the best for the folks at Fail Blog, and it made the vote page. I voted for it--five thumbs down for sure.

According to the reports, the driver says he mistook the accelerator for the brake while test driving this F-250 pick up. I wonder what the sales person was thinking. (This could be him, above, being assisted out by fire fighters from the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District.)

"Oh, shit!" comes to mind...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Is This in the President's Job Description?

The NAACP is having a big conference in Kansas City this coming weekend and week. It was anticipated that President Barack Obama would be coming to address the group, but the President will not be here to speak to the NAACP. Michelle Obama will be here and will talk to the conference July 12th. President Obama is in Kansas City today. He has already appeared at Smith Electric Vehicle and will stay long enough to fund raise for Democrat senatorial candidate Robin Carnahan. Kansas City Star editorial writer Lewis Diuguid took Obama to task for not coming and speaking to the NAACP and in general for his neglect of issues important to the Black community. This part of his editorial (link) caught my eye:

Black people haven’t demanded much from Obama, and they have been incredibly forgiving of his neglect. But they aren’t blind.The evidence continues to mount. Under Obama, African Americans’ concerns have gone begging, including stifling unemployment; poor housing; unsafe neighborhoods; gun violence; a widening wealth gap; poor, segregated underperforming schools; a high dropout rate; health care disparities; low pay; racial profiling; high incarceration rates; and a high infant mortality.

Obama has said his directive was to benefit all Americans and watch the rising tide lift all boats. That sounds good. But racism and discrimination anchor black communities under a deep sludge, where opportunity dies. Everyone else’s rising tide only leaves blacks more frustrated and under water.

Now, really, Mr. Diugiud, is all of that the President's responsibility? Do you really think that any one occupying the White House can or is the right one to take on these problems? Because it seems to me that the solution to a number of these problems lies right within the very community that has them. That plans to work on these problems are best to come from right inside the group of people who are suffering with the effects of these difficulties and concerns. In addition, while I would never be foolish enough to say that all racism and discrimination has ended, can we have the Black community take some responsibility for their own actions and the results of those actions rather than so frequently pointing the finger back at racism?

I stopped writing this post, and took a walk, because I am almost afraid to write the rest of it. I don't want to appear to blame the Black community for the situation today. The immigrant story of Black Africans to the United States is very different then any other group. While all groups were misunderstood and discriminated against when they first arrived here, no other group was owned as property in the way that Blacks were. That legacy is what we are still fighting against today. It continues to have an influence on Black family structure, power in the Black community, and Black "self esteem." Somehow, instead of taking pride in how they have endured and how they have even prospered, especially once government and systemic discrimination were remedied, Blacks have consented to "play the victim" instead of walking in the power of their achievements. Certainly not all Blacks have voted to play life this way, but it seems as if many have chosen this manner of living. And to me, many Black leaders have chosen to play to this choice. Instead of calling for excellence and achievement, Black leaders have looked for someone to blame. Instead of advocating for opportunity, Black leaders have looked around for give aways.

So, Mr. Diuguid, it is the President's job to lead this country in a direction that lets all groups have an opportunity to prosper. The President, along with the Congress, sets economic policy, sets the tone and helps with resources for local strategies for housing, education, and health care. Government on the local level continues the work to solve problems in these and other areas. However, no president, congressperson, governor, state legislator, mayor or city council person can cause a community to decide that families will be valued and remain intact; that babies will be born to mothers who are prepared to take care of them; that education will be valued and dropping out will not be tolerated; that criminals and their behavior will be shunned rather than glorified; that people will learn to step away from conflict rather than reacting with violence out of a misguided attempt to build themselves up as being tough and "respected"; that people will chose to discipline themselves with regard to lifestyle choices that influence their future health status and that people will understand the need to delay gratification--to say "no" to the wants of today, for the possibilities that rest in the future.

Mr. Diuguid, the Black community needs to stop looking primarily to others to solve its problems and improve its living situation. The Black community needs to start looking within, to see what its resources are, to see what its weaknesses are, what its strengths are. The Black community needs to start becoming intolerant of repeated failures. The Black community needs to see that the Black on Black crime is a form of slow death for itself, especially its young men. The Black community will need help from the culture at large, in the form of resources and of support, and the assurance that systemic discrimination will continued to be pulled out by its sorry roots, but the hand from the greater culture needs to be seen as a hand up, rather than a hand out.

In short, Lewis Diuguid, many of the issues you list should not be on President Obama's agenda at all. I do believe that really he has enough to do without doing things that others should be attending to.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Major League Ballplayer Takes a Swipe at KC

ESPN: The Magazine features a column by "Player X", a professional athlete of the current sport of the season. This being July, it's a MLB player. In the July 12, 2010 issue of the magazine, Player X writes on why he likes the All-Star Game. Being a fan, I am glad he likes the All-Star Game. But buried in all the feel good inside stuff was this little swipe at Our Fair City:

I admit I'm kind of a geek when it comes to this stuff. Even in years I have made the team, I've still tuned in. That's not true for all players, though. Most guys don't watch if they don't make it. I have one teammate who actually complained about being named an All-Star because it's the only week in eight months he can spend decent time with his family, away from baseball. I also know for a fact that guys around the majors are not psyched about the prospect of spending All-Star week in Kansas City in 2012. The park isn't great, and there's just not much going on in that town. (page 20, bold added)
I am aching to defend Our Fair City, but I know that we are not the greatest party stop and that our ball park, while newly renovated and in my mind totally wonderful, is over 30 years old, but I didn't think we were such a second rate choice that it should take away from the honor of being a participant in All-Star week for a ball player.

My civic pride is annoyed; yes, it is.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Kansas City Fourth of July

Once again we prove that we cannot take care of ourselves when we don't have any obligations on our schedule. Or something. Our passion for drama and trauma starts taking over, the fact that many have not been trained or taught conflict resolution, add some mind altering substances, an irregular schedule, more family interactions and voila! It's wacko-ville!

So we had a crazy ass weekend in Kansas City. We had five people killed in homicides, along with several wounded. We had 6 people die in motor vehicle crashes in the time period Friday morning to Monday morning, with several injured, many severely. The scanner was just nuts all weekend long, monitoring mayhem everywhere--passed out people, disturbances, fights, reckless drivers, the shootings, the motor vehicle crashes, at least two structure fires in empty buildings, the usual collection of burglary and robbery...

Right smack in the middle of all this, sometime Sunday afternoon, I heard a call from an East Zone police officer requesting an ambulance to come to the intersection of Truman Road and Elmwood Avenue. The scanner then ran off to monitor more mayhem elsewhere. Returning to the East Zone talk group, the scanner picked up this transmission: "Tell them the baby is born." I had to smile. A Fourth of July baby. Born in a car. On Truman Road. Yes, that Truman. They were probably on the way to the hospital named after the 33rd President of the United States when the baby came. Hopefully, the kiddo can have some fun with it as he/she grows up. "Yeah, I was born at Truman. The corner of Truman and Elmwood. On the fourth of July. Top that, suckers."

I hope your celebration of our nation's independence was a little more sane than ours. We have some work to do to improve this place in order for that little one to grow up to be his/her best.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Car Shows Coming Up

I hope that you are all are having a fabulous holiday weekend! Already looking forward to the next weekend? If you like old cars and live in the Kansas City area, you might want to make some plans for the next weekend.

There are always car shows going on in and around the Kansas City metro, but I want to tell you about two of them coming up.

The High Performance Auto Club, Kansas City's Chrysler brand club will be having its big annual show "Midwest Mopar Family Reunion" on July 10-11 at EH Young Riverside Park in Riverside, MO. Things start happening at about 9 AM Saturday and the two days of show will wrap up around 3 PM Sunday. Check out show details here at

Also next weekend, the Church of the Resurrection will have its car show. This is on Saturday, July 10th from 9 AM to 1 PM at the Leawood church, about 137th and Roe. This is their 9th annual, and they always have a good turnout of all makes of cars. For information

Of course every Friday, there is a cruise at 91st and Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park at the Long Branch. Starts around about 6 PM or so and is open to all. So come on out and see the great old cars next weekend!

Photos of from top, a Plymouth, a row of Corvettes and a Buick by The Observer at the Long Branch cruise. Clicky on them to embiggen.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Why I Haven't Mentioned the White Haven Story

Awesome classic neon sign will be auctioned July 2 at 1130. (KC Star photo)

The White Haven Motor Lodge over in Overland Park has closed and is having an auction of its contents. The motel was a long time fixture in Overland Park, and was just sold two years ago by its original owners. The new owners just couldn't make a go of it, so they closed it. I haven't noted it before now, because it hits a little too close to home for me.

My parents ditched New York and moved to Vermont and opened a country inn. I grew up in that inn, and while I had no interest in being an inn keeper myself, I was very proud of what my parents built. I also worked in and on the inn through my junior high and high school years. After about 30 years, my parents decided to retire and sold the inn. The new owners lasted, maybe three years. The inn is closed now, the buildings bank owned.

So, this news story, that is a little bit of a curiosity to some and the passing of an era to many, hits me just a little deeper. The owners seem pretty at peace with it, although it does have to sting. When you part from your baby, I think you just have to go with the flow. Even if that's not easy.

Link: Landmark Overland Park motel closes after 53 years. The Star has other articles and pictures as well.

Esther White, former owner and Sheila White Berry, her daughter, display a photo from the building of the motel. (KC Star)

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Things That Go Bang, Crackle and Pop

Having grown up in the northeastern part of the U.S., setting off personal fireworks was not part of my growing up. I remember using sparklers but that's about it. Even in mostly rural Vermont, fire works sales in the state were illegal, and it was rare for people to have much in the way of personal booms that they may have imported from elsewhere.

Checking out the offerings at Fireworks City...

However, in Missouri, there is a healthy tradition of fireworks sales. Consequently, there is a healthy tradition of setting off one's own fireworks. Consequently to that, there are people who get hurt shooting off fireworks. And because of that we have a complex web of laws and rules regarding consumer grade fireworks in the Kansas City metro. The web of laws leads to ridiculousness every Fourth of July as a good number of generally law abiding citizens turn into nasty lawbreakers for a couple hours after dark on the Fourth of July.

Ah, something people of all races can agree on--blowing shit up is fun!

I have been known to set off an explosion or two on the Fourth myself, but I always follow all the instructions and do it in a safe place. Even so, I've been reminded that this is not child's play. Probably the most frightening thing I've had happen was when an artillery tube fell over, and the shell that was in it-- was shot out sideways rather than up. That was a little scary! In KCMO, both the sales and possession of all fireworks is illegal, as it is in many cities in the metro on both sides of the state line. However, in Cass County, and its cities, with exceptions and variations, the selling and possessing of fire works is legal around July 4th. So, you can drive south on Holmes Road, and as soon as you cross the city line--fireworks are for sale. Several tents pop up every year. My personal favorite is Crazy Joe's, but you don't have to go that far, you can stop in at Fireworks City just over the city/county line.

So here you are, you have a prohibition, and you have easy access to the prohibited item. What do you think happens? Yup, people buy the prohibited item in the areas where it is legal to sell and possess the item and take it to areas where it is not legal to sell or possess said item. Then they use it for its intended purpose, making booms and pretty lights with reports. This poses a problem for law enforcement. The problem is, just about every neighborhood will break out in fireworks during the Fourth of July. Some neighborhoods sound like a war zone and develop a haze of smoke from all the explosives being detonated. Side Bar: During the recent flooding a police dispatcher asked the Sargent on duty, "Do you want the reports of high water given to individual officers, or dispatched as information like we do with fireworks calls on the Fourth?" That's when I knew it had rained a bunch and flash flooding was bad. So the mishmash of laws is confusing at least and difficult at most. Easy access makes enforcement for cities with a zero tolerance statute almost impossible. Those who sell fireworks, especially businesses very near KCMO and Overland Park, KS (another metro city with a zero tolerance law) have to know that people are taking their purchases to cities where it is illegal to have them. I wish everyone was sensible and safe taking care with their own safety and the safety and property of others while using fireworks. We know, however, this is not the case, as has been demonstrated over and over. And so we have laws and rules to try and protect us from something that can be dangerous to us. The problem comes in our little corner of America from all the different laws that have been put into effect in our 400+ square mile metroplex. I would just as soon have laws that were not quite so strict, and also consider setting up areas where fireworks could be used freely and legally. Some people would like to see a complete ban everywhere in the metro. Alas, some municipalities have come to be known as fireworks havens and make money on the taxes on the permits for and sales of fireworks, so that will never happen.

We have things that happen every Fourth of July in the Big Town: people shoot off fireworks all over the metro, including cities with prohibitions. OPKS will have more luck enforcing the law than KCMO. Someone will get hurt with fireworks. A structure will at least be threatened by fire, and at most be set on fire by fireworks. There will be news stories reminding us of fireworks safety. A poor innocent watermelon will be blown up on TV. We will be told to "leave it to the professionals." Ordinary citizens will be interviewed on TV and be completely split on the subject--some for a full ban and others for looser regulation.

Just be safe out there people. Whether you decide to shoot off personal fireworks or go to a display, be safe and sane. Don't drink and drive either. I think I'd rather take my chances with a loose bottle rocket than a loose drunk behind the wheel.

And remember why we celebrate, because this is the greatest country with the most freedom in the world, and July 4th is our great country's birthday.

(Photos are from Fireworks City's website--link here, and here is a link for Crazy Joe's.)