Sunday, June 29, 2008

another week

Continuing in the habit of posting a laundry list once a week...

I had a great week.

At work, we started off with a totally corny press event that was one of the most successful of our term. To announce the passage of a new ordinance to limit the number of metal plates on city streets, we had the mayor hook one of them up to a crane and give the signal to yank it. (For those of you who don't live here: KC uses metal plates to temporarily cover utility cuts. They're all over the place and they're one of the things that annoy citizens most.) All the TV stations were there, several print reporters and a radio crew. In the paper we got front page of the metro and a glowing editorial.

Then, on Wednesday, we announced a new appointment to the Parks Board. The appointee, Meg Conger, was a great choice, and we again got real good coverage of our on-location press event.

It feels like we're getting good at this stuff. And we have a lot more to come in the coming months.

Allie caught my cold and has been bogged down with it all week. The only good thing about thing is that it's given me the opportunity to serve her a lot, and I've been more than happy to do that.

Despite her cold, she's been working. One of her assignments was to write about the people who brought the Garden Weasel to America. I had no idea that these people are in Kansas City. I was so thrilled when she told me this that I could hardly stand it. But I also felt guilty because just a couple weeks ago I went to Home Depot specifically to buy a Garden Weasel. But all they had was an impostor, the Garden Hound Dog. To assuage my guilt, I immediately got online to buy a Garden Weasel hat. It arrived on Friday, and it is now my official gardening uniform.

I started my running group yesterday. I ran 10 miles and it was fantastic. This is going to turn out to be one of the best things I've ever done. When I came home from the first run, Allie said I was positively glowing. Soon they will be starting mid-week speed training. I'm so excited!

The garden is in great shape. We're having troubles with our camera, so I haven't been posting pictures. I should get that fixed this week, shouldn't I? Most of the tomato plants have reached the tops of their cages, and I have little green fruits on several of them. I'm just now pulling up a second batch of radishes, which means we need to make hummus for sandwiches. Should have beans soon. Peppers appear to be a ways off.

Mostly what I love is to get lost in the work of it. I'm just so happy when I have on my iPod and good podcast going and I'm out there pulling weeds and fussing with plants and stuff. I think it's what life is all about.

My back is feeling a lot better. I appreciate the uncle advice. I'm going to check into both things.

Until next week...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

odds and ends

Allie got me a book for my birthday called The How of Happiness. It had some good information in there about ruminating and overthinking. These are two things that I do often and they tend to make me unhappy. This book had some good suggestions about how to stop doing this. I got so into the whole concept that I tracked down a book by the leading scholar on the issue and bought it, despite the title.

Work is a real challenge for me in this area. Seems there's always something for my mind to chew on, usually a resentment against somebody who's working against us in some way or another. Lately I've had intense resentments against the local paper. It's absolutely astonishing how biased they are. I mean, I always knew it. As a reporter at the Pitch their particular slant annoyed me to no end. But now that I'm working for a concern that is on the unfavorable end of their bias, it really boils my blood sometimes.

So, yeah. Overthinking. I often think that the reason why I'm in this job is to overcome my hangups.

Haven't been able to run for most of the last week because I came down with a cold. I finally emerged from it today, and set out to spend the whole day in the yard. Got a lot done until I was yanking on a vine and I felt a sudden sharp stab in my back. The pain was so intense that I couldn't really move, so I sort of crumpled down on the ground, rolled into a sort of crawl position and then after a while managed to find an angle for my back to where I could stand up. I can move around a bit more now but it's still pretty bad. Not sure what to do. I've been seeing a sports chiropractor, so I might go see him. I don't have any doctor that I like or trust. Besides the pain it sucks because I really wanted to knock off a long list of yard stuff. Oh well. I guess I have reached the stage in manhood when my back bill is due. It happens to most of us, don't it?

This week I'm going to join a running group. It costs more than I thought it would, but I think it'll be worth it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I'm definitely getting faster. I ran four miles last night, doing a run/walk plan of 30 seconds per half mile. Over all I came in under ten minutes a mile, and for the running sections, I ranged from 9:45 to 9:05, according to my Garmin.

At work, I interviewed a prospective employee who ran middle distances in college. His PR for the marathon is 2:32. He said he could get me down to a 3:30.

Of course, folks will say anything for a good job, won't they?

super mayor

I was in Washington D.C. this week with the mayor for an event hosted by the Brookings Institution. While there, the mayor appear appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal and testified before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

The Senate affair was a trip. He testified on a panel of mayors that included Michael Bloomberg of New York.

Before the meeting, we waited in an ante room outside the committee chambers. The mayor chatted with Shirley Franklin, mayor of Atlanta, and John Peyton, mayor of Jacksonville. Then a few senators showed up, and finally Bloomberg arrived with his entourage of six or seven staffers. As soon as he appeared, it was time to go.

They opened the door to the chambers, and there was a wall of photographers clicking away -- all of them there for Bloomberg. They kept their cameras trained on the super mayor as he made his was around the room to his seat and while he testified their shutters fired nonstop.

Mayor Franklin spoke after him and about three of the photographers took some pictures of her. Then for Mayor Peyton I think one took a couple shots. Mayor Funkhouser was last, and I was focused on what he was saying so I couldn't tell if anyone took a picture. But if one had, I'm sure it would've been just one or two.

All this was very interesting, because just two days earlier we had been informed by a reporter at our hometown paper that no one would be covering the event. Upon hearing this, my colleague Kendrick called an editor to complain.

Afterward we got a Lexis-Nexis tally of coverage for the event. There was a nice big story from the Atlanta paper, and an even longer one from AP, in which Funk got the top quote and the kicker quote. But when we got home and opened our hometown paper the next day we found a six-inch story buried in the B section -- not even a quote in it.

The whole trip was surreal. In DC, he was highly revered. At this Brookings event, for instance, he was asked to give the closing thoughts. And this was no small thing. It was the largest event in the history of the institution. After his testimony before Senate he got tons of praise from the senate aides and the lobbyists who were all hustling around the scene.

What's more, everyone out there was saying the same stuff the mayor's been saying in KC. They were all talking about the need for regional cooperation on transit, the need for increased investment in infrastructure, the need to start acting strategically and to stop playing politics.

But back home, he's considered a loser by the political insiders -- which includes the folks at the paper. So frustrating. So strange.\

Funny thing, though. Bloomberg was widely detested his first year or so in office. He joked about this while testifying. Referring to how tough it is to be a mayor, he said something like, "If you want to ban smoking, close fire stations, take over the school district and have a parade on Staten Island. All of which turned out to be very popular. So what do I know?"

So maybe our trials are all just par for the course.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Check out this absurd stuff.


I turned 40 today.

I got up at 5:30, let the dogs out, fed them, made coffee, took a cup to Allie, stretched and ran three miles with some sprints mixed in. It's a nice day and I wish I could spend it in the garden rather than at work.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


For my birthday, Allie treated me to a weekend trip in Kansas. We headed out Friday night and stopped at the AmericInn in Russell where we'd hole up for the night before going to Lucas the next day.

I first visited Lucas 14 years ago, right after I graduated from college. Back then, the only thing in town was the Garden of Eden. There was a storefront with a sign promising the future home of the Grassroots Arts Center. Now, for my 40th birthday, I was finally getting an opportunity to see it.

As we drove west on Friday night, we passed a wind farm. It didn't exist the last time I drove through, in 2005. It was so beautiful in the late evening light, with the sun setting behind the windmills.

The next day I went for a five mile run on a very windy morning. Then we drove the 30 miles to Lucas. We first went to the Garden of Eden. It was just as cool as ever, though Dinsmoor's body has really decomposed.

Behind Dinsmoor's Cabin home was The World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things. Very cool.

Then it was off to the Grassroots Arts Center for a full tour. It was quite a good museum. We bought T-shirts and a little tin sculpture of an elephant.

The museum was hosting an toilet seat art contest. They're trying to raise money for a public restroom for Lucas. For five dollars, you could enter your own decorated toilet seat. Allie and I decided to give it a shot. We bought a toilet seat and some Sharpees and covered it with a retelling of the Bible story about the original sin in which it isn't Eve eating the apple but Adam leaving the toilet seat up. We laid out the story in big blocky letters and simple drawings just like a folk art piece. We're going to drop it off at the museum today.

All in all a very fun birthday weekend.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


As per my uncle's request, I've reactivated the site feed function. I also kicked a couple of people off who I don't know and one person who is a newspaper editor. I've left on the wife of a newspaper writer, but I'm friends with her and her husband and I trust them.

This is all a sort of backwards way of saying I'm hoping to post more, and post more about work.

Today the mayor got sued. On second thought, I must edit here.