Happy In Bag

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Do Not Cross Water

The drainage ditches cutting across the metropolis usually seem like unsightly wastes of space. Ugly and empty, they lie like painful scars. When the heavens open as they did yesterday, however, the ditches quickly fill with angry water. There's rarely any middle ground.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hey, Good Lookin'

One of the unintended consequences of setting traps is that the wrong quarry occasionally winds up captured. Both flavors of squirrels- ground and tree- are my targets. Yet daredevil cardinals just can't resist peanut butter, even though they clearly understand that they're stepping into a trap. Opossums aren't quite as smart. But aren't they pretty?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


The various responses to the now infamous story about a toddler's foray into a mandala at Union Station last week fascinated me. Reaction online and in print included praise for the monks' forgiving attitudes, attacks on Buddhist philosophy, ire at the tot's mother and accusations of negligence at Union Station. The temporary work of art was surrounded by the formidable barrier pictured here on Friday night. The guard on duty laughed nervously when I told him I'd come to play in the sand.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Attending the annual "Celebration At Union Station" concert yesterday revived both my sense of patriotism and my affection for Kansas City. The vista, the music and the people were spectacular.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Icing On the Cake

It's an entirely different breakfast of champions. A new line of Pop-Tarts featuring "over 200 delicious questions you can eat" have hit grocery store shelves. That's right- Trivial Pursuit questions and answers are printed directly into the icing of the breakfast pastry. A separate line of Barbie-themed Pop-Tarts offers more "printed fun." I'm holding out for a Beyonce edition.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wyandotte Phil

I spied this groundhog in a drainage ditch off a busy street in Kansas City, Kansas, yesterday. It seemed quite comfortable going about its business as cars rattled by a few feet away. It wasn't especially pleased when I pulled over to get a closer look. It needn't have worried; I respect the teeth and claws of the large rodent.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Throw Some D's

I look for only one thing in a vehicle- it should start when I turn the key. A radio is a plus. Air conditioning and heat are optional luxuries. With that mindset, it should be obvious that I've never understood the whole car accessory thing. The increasing popularity of spinners and other expensive hubcap alternatives completely baffles me. I admire them the same way I appreciate a peacock's gaudy display. It's impressive, but I know that behind the flash is just another delusional fowl with a walnut-sized brain.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Over the Moon

Cameras with telescopic lenses that can show craters on the moon are really cool. I don't have one. Still, have you been watching the crescent moon pass by Venus in the early evening? It's been quite a show.

Monday, May 21, 2007


I spent the better part of Monday morning trying to establish an internet connection. None of my usual tricks solved the malfunction. I issued a torrent of profanity, punched hard drives until my knuckles bled, and cried tears of frustration. A patient friend finally suggested that I call my internet provider. Sure enough, a recorded message confessed to technical problems in my neighborhood. Much of my ire could have been avoided if the company had made an automated explanatory phone call to their customers when their system went down: "Hello. This is a message from a Time-Warner robot. We realize that your internet connection is down and we are diligently attempting to repair it. We apologize; expect to see a pro-rated discount on your next bill."

Friday, May 18, 2007

I Am the Egg Man

I've been dreaming about eating insects, sleeping in warm nests and flying. It's not difficult to determine the origin of these dreams. My bedroom is surrounded by bird nests. And their new inhabitants start making a racket well before the sun makes an appearance.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Life and Death At a Rain Garden

Don't call it an unmowed ditch. It's a rain garden. I spent an hour analyzing an intentionally soggy patch of ground yesterday. In spite of what the tree huggers would have you believe, it seems very difficult to achieve the ideal level of water drainage. Mosquitoes and other insidious pests were thriving at this site. A couple dozen birds were gorging themselves on the feast but there clearly weren't enough bug eaters to quell the insect insurrection.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Organ Grindin' Man

It's over. I spent twenty years working in a specialized niche of the entertainment industry. I loved it, and I managed to strike gold a few times before the death spiral set in five years ago. Not one of my six primary employers is still in business. And while I no longer have a direct stake in the industry, a number of my former associates are losing their jobs this month. Even though their employer netted $55 million in annual sales, the company was sold to a competitor for just $6.5 million. Those figures reflect the dismal state of the industry. Toss the nice man a nickel...

Monday, May 14, 2007

What's In a Name?

It's difficult to discern in my photo, but a significant part of Kansas City's social history and demographic trends is contained in the name of this area business. "Troost," the first word in the business' name, is crossed out. Apparently, they were founded on the street that's traditionally been the dividing line of the city's racial and economic groups. The business has since followed its customers to Johnson County. It's kind of cool that they have a sense of history, even if it's displayed in a somewhat rude fashion.

Robot Attack

I'm inept. Only rarely do I successfully complete a "self-checkout" transaction at a grocery store without the need to flag down human assistance. Manually entering the proper digits for produce is tough but the biggest challenge is making room on the robot's anti-theft scale for my entire purchase. I prefer live cashiers- even when they mock my less-than-healthy eating habits.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Force Out

Kauffman Stadium is surely among the least receptive public venues in Kansas City for displays of ambiguous sexual identity. This theory was tested Thursday afternoon. Royals fans were understandably cranky. It was hot, the home team was on their way to a 17-3 drubbing, and the stadium was packed with shrieking kids on a "school day" promotion. Two shirtless guys began taunting Royals fans. Their antics included embracing each other, dancing provocatively and waving A's batting helmets. It was too much for the Royals' constituency to absorb. Dozens of schoolgirls giggled and groaned. The Larry the Cable Guy-types surrounding me were flabbergasted. After several innings of escalating altercations, the Royals' security staff asked the men to leave.


Dogs ran free when I was a kid. They'd roam all day, coming and going as they pleased. Sure, they'd occasionally get clipped by cars- that was the price of their freedom. Humans paid an awful penalty for that canine nirvana. Dog bites were common and their feces was everywhere. Things are much better now. As I angrily kicked a couple piles of poop off my lawn yesterday I recalled the time when every home required a special tool to deal with the constant mess. Even though I can't help but laugh at the sight of good citizens walking with a leash in one hand and a bag of waste in the other, I'm pleased to live in this enlightened era.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Unlike many locals directly affected by the recent deluge, I don't have to worry about sandbags, levees or boil orders. I won't complain about a damp basement, wet feet, soggy clothes and muddy shoes.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Wait... There's More

I prefer to call them "quirks." Most people call them my "problems" or "issues." One such item is my complete unwillingness to wait to be seated at a restaurant. I just won't do it. So it always amazes me when I spot people happily cooling their heels at an eating establishment. And I see it all the time. Here are people chilling outside a Red Lobster on a recent evening. They seem relaxed and comfortable. I can't begin to comprehend their serenity. Do you suppose they'd give me lessons?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Fresh Air

Although I've pointed out a few fixable problems elsewhere, I'm giddy with excitement that Crossroads KC has entered the big time. It should dramatically improve the quality of life for Kansas City concertgoers. The area's other primary outdoor venues, Starlight and Verizon, are much larger and lack this venue's easy access.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wave Goodbye

I'm a baseball nerd. Attending a game can be akin to a peaceful meditation session. Few things, consequently, annoy me as much as the wave. Yet because I usually sit in the bleachers, my reveries are often interupted by guys seated nearby who feel compelled to initiate the massive distraction. A successful wave doesn't happen spontaneously. It requires the repeated shrieking of one or more tireless cheerleaders to sway the crowd. It never caught on at yesterday afternoon's game.

Wy Not?

NASCAR, auto repair and long-haul trucking expeditions were the lively topics of discussion during the lunch hour at Wyandot BBQ (their spelling) earlier this week. While regulars relish the banter at the State Avenue restaurant, it's the thin, tart sauce, crispy fries and deep-smoked meats that pack 'em in. It's unreasonably delicious.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Meet Me At the Mall

It most certainly wasn't going down last Saturday evening at the Metcalf South shopping mall. This is the scene at 6:30 p.m. My companion and I were killing time before watching a light romantic comedy at the Glenwood Arts theater. Only two other businesses were open- Macy's and Sears. We were lamenting the lack of excitement at the mall. We had no way of knowing, of course, that my companion would be on hand for the shootings at Ward Parkway the next day.