Friday, April 29, 2005

Oculine 9, 27.


- What can I say, what can I say, about yesterday? I worked until about 1:45. I got home a little before 3. I took a nap. I rode down to Hyde Park for grueling work on scavhunt. And I got up today, and here I am.
- Among other things, I'm reading about the Blues. It's exciting. Hopefully, in the next month, I'll have some time to hear them live.
- Sleep deprivation makes me over emotional.

South Shore.


The New York Times: Bush Cites Plan That Would Cut Social Security.

Billy Corgan. LIBERO.

Which rock stars do you consider to have aged the least gracefully?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Links: Coral and Pedro. Methodology.


It's been awhile since I've updated links, and here are a couple that I am seriously remiss for holding out from:

Coral at Coral Rocks is yet another amazing person I've met through Sam Perkins-Harbin (I believe he commands the market with a cardinal link in roughly 37% of such transactions) who is in absolute command of one of the most poised syntheses of sponteneity, taste, and occasionally painful candor. She also heard jazz with us at the Heartland, which is about as heartwarming experience as I can think of.

Pedro, formerly of the Ghetropolitan Journal (amid other projects) is back at his new site Pedropolis. His writing is some of the most political apolitical ranting I've encountered. His photos are also some of the most political bits of Urban Exploration I've encountered. So... enjoy the contradiction. Oh, yeah, and he works at a hospital. Just like me.

More links will be coming. I generally ask permission from bloggers before I link to them, and so even if I write a bunch of people at one time, the responses can be more of a trickle.

Also: here's how the "posts frequently" / "posts infrequently" works and the "friends" vs. "people" works. It's impersonal... for the most part. If I've met you in person, or we've corresponded for over a year, you are a "friend." Everyone else is a person. If you've posted at least four times in the last month, you're frequent. If not, you're infrequent. "People" who are infrequent are removed.

So that's the arcana, explained.

Oculine 7, 27.


- I got home a little late from work yesterday. The only really useful thing I did was finally buy Tori Amos' The Beekeeper (released in February), and sleep a lot. But, then, I needed a lot of sleep.
- I've had a rather eventful week, and I was going to write about it last night after work. Note the prior comment.
- I haven't explicitly said it, but Scavhunt is currently devouring my life. I'll try to keep posting through the Hunt (which I'll be blogging once again this year), but this next week is going to be somewhat touch-and-go.
- Jess and I have successfully booked a Reception site. Finally! We're having it at ArmCo Park in Zanesville.



The New York Times: Iraq's Assembly Overwhelmingly Approves New Government.

Mott Foundation Building. (An Art Moderne landmark in downtown Flint).

Which rock stars do you consider to have aged particularly gracefully?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

215 families, Part II: City Politics, and Potential Solutions


On April 18th, I reported on a public housing debacle involving the Flint Housing Commission and HUD. The Housing Commission issued a number of housing vouchers beyond the federal funding provided by HUD. As a result, many tenants signed leases they now cannot pay, and will shortly be evicted.

It was my opinion that this is an absolutely shameful development, partly as part of tired political processes the "rest" of us take for granted, and partly because the press hasn't given the problem nearly the attention it deserves. This is a problem potentially affecting 1% of Flint's population at the most, and many hundreds of people at the least.

It affects us all by extension.

There have been recent developments:

* * * * *

The Flint Journal First Edition

Council cautious on plan to avert evictions
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
By Christofer Machniak


The City Council delayed a proposal Monday designed to help about 100 low-income families who faced being evicted from their homes this month.

Council members, who generally supported the plan, set a special meeting for noon Thursday to give them more time to ask questions from city and federal officials.

The plan, proposed last week by Mayor Don Williamson, would shift $400,000 in federal dollars to offset housing commission cuts to the programs that provide vouchers to help pay rent.

Members want more time, in part, to confirm that the city won't be penalized for breaking rules over the funding shift.

The move is seen as a one-time, temporary measure. Officials expect Congress to restore funding next year.

Housing commission officials say an $800,000 cut by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Housing Choice Voucher Program led to the rollback, which affected at least 25 percent of families who were using the program.

- Christofer Machniak

* * * * *

I don't know if other cities feel local political vascillations quite as powerfully as Flint does. I suspect that a few do to an equal degree, and many do to a lesser degree. And what I mean is this:

I tend to respect balance and circumspection in civic leadership as much or more than I do ideology. I would happily vote for a mayor whose political alliances differed from my own, for example, to govern the city of Flint, if I thought she could exercise the judgment critical in a city so strained for resources.

Unfortunately, that sort of person is absolutely discouraged from taking office (of any sort) in Flint. Given the segragatory state of the city, its profound connections with labor and the democratic party, and its deep divide with increasingly conservative suburbs, Flint and Genesee County is the sort of place that discourages political circumspection. Everyone's just holding down. There's no special value placed on communication. Elections, thus, inevitably circle around municipal "get rich" schemes, where the winner will solve all problems. (Take a look at our mayor, for example, who during his campaign offered to pay Flint's $42 million debt out-of-pocket, our our council president, who is determined that a casino is the only cure).

In a desperation campaign, who wins? I would say, someone with serious political aspirations, but limited political opportunities. That is, someone who loves attention, loves grandstanding, and would prefer to be, say, with the State House of Representatives, but due to as lack of discretion or connection or finesse cannot hope to obtain such goals.

It is not difficult to see, at all, that Johnnie Coleman and Don Willimason burned their political bridges long ago. Nor is it difficult to see how they might appeal to a simple pluarality in Flint through vague promises and raw charisma. Incidentally, it's not uncommon for these figures to be recalled when they can't deliver. (It's rare that they can. Neither Don nor Johnnie has.)

It often seems that all we can hope is that whatever capacity for understanding their vision drives them, or whatever political winds hurl them along, this short-sighted and self-defeating leadership makes decisions that, nevertheless, work out.

* * * * *

I've often said that Don Willimason is a terrible mayor. He's marginally better than Stanley, perhaps, if only because he's got a mind to reconciling blacks and whites in a bitterly divided city, but that's really as far as I can extend any praise.

But at this moment Williamson is advocating these 215 families.

Should he be lauded for this? He's only doing his job. As a decent mayor, he really should understand this fact, and not bank on any praise. (Sometimes, the most praiseworthy decisions are the least praised.) Moreover, this is at best, a slight penance for his fleecing of nonprofits last year, such as Salem Housing I mentioned in my last post on this subject. Don Williamson has done more to injury to local nonprofits and charities than any other mayor or council in the last fifty years. However...

He's helping at this moment.

The council, it seems, will also be amenable to provide help.

I want to encourage this. I want to hope, eventually, that we have coucilpeople and mayors like Daley, at least, who even if they enjoy flexing political muscle, at least do so with some consistency and awareness.

Right now, it's not possible to replace half of Flint's municipal government with better officials.

It is possible to commend the providing of housing to the homeless while denouncing political impasse.
It is possible to draw his attention to officials' consituencies, and away from grandiose plans for casinos and truck accessories factories.

Fine, Don, fine: I give you one point. This time.

Please, try for another.

Oculine 6, 27.


- Weather: It will be getting cool and damp to day. Expect it. Enjoy it.

Irving Park.


The San Francisco Chronicle: Noted activist for war victims killed in car bomb attack. Californian Marla Ruzicka championed humanitarian aid in Iraq.

Man on horse.

What is the most pressing issue confronting America at this second?

Oneidine: Amber's Dream


"Describe a dream."

This was submitted by Amber:

I've had to wait on this one, until I had a dream I could remember
well enough to describe. Well, I had one last night...and it might
even qualify as a nightmare. You'll remember how I told you that
nightmares, when I have them, always keep to the realm of possibility,
thus being only so much more freaky for their verisimilitude.

Last night's dream was populated by my family...the family of my
youth--this elastic, atomic,
stuck-together-for-all-the-fucking-good-it-does-us little tribe of me,
my sister, and my mother. And I had a baby. But I didn't really have a
baby. Actually, that sort of sums up the plot--was it my baby? Or was
it my sister's?

Pretty horrific... I definitely felt in the dream the same way I do
right Now about having babies--ewww/existential horror. Somehow, in
the dream, we all knew that my sister or I was going to have a baby.
And obviously, I didn't want to ... very strongly didn't want to. And
then, the next thing you know, there was this tiny wee thing in my
arms. What?!! It's not mine! But I felt so guilty turning him away.
But I did, again and again... ;) Judas to the tiny prince. I'd never
wanted him, so there's no way it could have been me. It must have been
my sister.

And he grew... and his hair came in, and it was the color of my
sister's...that sandy not-really blonde. Nothing like mine, but just
like my sister's and her boyfriend's. And I said, "Ah ha, you see?"
"Hers." And still, I felt like a scummy jerk of all jerks. It Wasn't
my baby...but still, to have wanted so much for that to be true, to be
so glad that it Was true...I felt horrible.

:) And that was the dream. Brilliant, eh? I hope to god it has nothing
to do with my biological clock. I assume it has much more to do with
my fear of committment and my future, and the blame I lay on my head
in association with both.

So, there you are!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Still out here...


Blueberry eggy melody sassafras saccharine blueberry boo.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005




from the 18th annual Hunt:

Item #130. There's only one force in the universe strong enough to brighten the moods of a whole convention-load of goths (640 N. Dearborn St. 11:00 PM on Thursday, incidentally) the CARE BEAR STARE! [66 points. 66 bonus points if, following the stare, wayward teens realize the error of their ways and put on a (non-Satanic) church bake sale.]

To register, send the following information to me (connor at afterdusk dot org) to be forwarded to Hear Judge Courtney:

Team Name:
Team Captain(s):
Captain(s) email(s):
Team Affiliation:

Letter to the Editor of the Flint Journal #14


Not quite the dare my mom posed, but close enough after she made me potato salad.

* * * * *

No organization involved in the recent retraction of housing vouchers by the Flint Housing Commission has escaped untarnished. Unfortunately, this extends to coverage of the event by the Flint Journal. The Journal's single article on the evictions and belated editorial showed an almost contemptuous lack of thought on a situation that will leave hundreds of Flint residents out in the cold.

This is a story that should be nosing its way into the headlines day after day until some sort of resolution is met. Instead, Journal readers can expect to find a profile of the Coffee Beanery or a dull, decades-old breakdown of gas tax economics.

It has been gratifying to watch the Journal revolutionize its printing process, and I enjoy the paper's local emphasis. These accomplishments mean little, however, when newsworthy items are overlooked or dismissed. Such carelessness shows a disregard for both your readers and your own journalistic abilities.

In short, I am very disappointed that this paper continues to neglect its broader responsibility. By shelving the eviction story, the Flint Journal has missed a rare opportunity to be both powerful and relevant.


Connor Coyne
Flushing Township

Oneidine 29, 27.


- Yesterday. Work was stressful, but I made it home around five, worked on the website for awhile. Sam came home and we walked out to the lighthouse on the Hollywood Street beach. A storm seemed to be trembling in the air, and the lake's waves dissolved into little ripples. Sam said something to the effect of, "Don't you try to fool me, Michigan, I know your sister too well." He was referring to lake Superior. In the end, a storm did no come, at least not last night. I rode the red line to the 55 and the 55 to Greenwood and walked to the scav hunt meeting. I got home around eleven. I had a strange dream in which Jessica dumped me for another guy, and I spent most of my time wandering about, pining. But then I had the luxury of waking up and discovering I that was running a half-hour late for work, and Cardinal Ratzinger was still the pope. In interesting start to the day for sure!

Auburn Gresham.


The New York Times: Benedict XVI Sets Out Papal Goals in First Public Mass.

Eggs ... Sheridan Rogers' Home Page.

If you had four days to go on a roadtrip anywhere you wanted, where would you go?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Eating my own words.

Oneidine 28, 27.


- Yesterday, much was accomplished, but little of interest to you, so instead, I'll focus on: the weather.
- Of course I scheduled my photography project for last Sunday in the hopes of having a decent cloud cover. We'd been taking pictures for about twenty minutes when a wind stole through and broke up the sky. Curse you, winds!
- There's a warm and a cold front duelling above Chicago right now. We're supposed to have thunderstorms starting this afternoon and lasting through tomorrow. One can only hope. I know you might not like rain, but without it there isn't growth.
- That said, there's the perennial assurence of rain during scav hunt.
- It seems a little silly that the New York Times is going to post an article every time there's an inconclusive vote for pope. The cardinals votes numerous times each day. I guess newsworthiness is at issue everywhere.



The Flint Journal: Flint schools to send message over radio waves.


Who is a pseudo-celebrity or local celebrity that you think should be elevated to A-list status? [Interpret broadly; this is a chance to take a poet or a small time legeslator and put them on par with Tom Cruise. If you wish, suggest several.]

Monday, April 18, 2005

215 families in Flint


Between Flint Mayor Don Williamson and the City Council the circus continues. The parody is startlingly close to the truth.

Meanwhile, the costs are real, with real miseries slipping by, almost unnoticed.

* * * * *

from the Flint Journal:

Officials say voucher evictions not necessary
The Flint Journal First Edition
Friday, March 25, 2005
By Marjory Raymer ? 810.766.6325

FLINT - More than 200 area low-income families are being forced out of their homes, and federal officials say the Flint Housing Commission should have done more to prevent it.
"We are concerned that the housing authority has decided to pursue evicting families," said Donna M. White, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, who called the move very unusual. The Flint Housing Commission sent letters earlier this month telling 215 low-income families who receive vouchers to help them pay rent that they'd be cut off as of May 1 and put back on a waiting list. Most of the families already waited for years before being granted the voucher.
The cuts mean at least 25 percent of families receiving vouchers will likely lose their homes.
"We went from happy we got this house ... to you are going to be homeless," said Jessica Jordan, 28, who has six children and got emergency entrance into the program five years ago after fleeing a violent relationship. "We have no idea what we're going to do."
The Flint Housing Commission blames HUD for the cuts, saying it needs $800,000 more than the $3.4 million it received to fully fund the Housing Choice Voucher Program, previously known as the Section 8 program.
"FHC is aware of the devastation this will cause the families affected," Executive Director Clyde Caldwell said in a letter to The Flint Journal. "Staff has been working diligently to find alternative solutions."
The Flint Housing Commission is offering priority placement in 100 public housing units.
But HUD said it gave housing commissions several options on how it could reduce costs without reducing the number of vouchers.
"Flint, it seems, has decided not to do that," White said.
Among the options was a special waiver used by other housing agencies nationwide to negotiate with landlords to reduce rents, White said.
"They are definitely not looking at options. I think that would make them work," said Jordan, who said utility reductions also make sense considering the approach of summer and the number of other agencies that can help with those bills.
White said the agency has known since December how much funding it would receive and continued to grant additional vouchers to people who are now being put out.
Officials from the housing commission could not be reached for comment beyond Caldwell's letter.
The housing commission's funding is based on the number and cost of vouchers in use over a three-month period last year plus inflation.
"It's not too late for the housing authority to give some of these options a try," White said. "The last resort that anyone including the federal government wants are evictions."
U.S. Rep. Dale E. Kildee's office has received several complaints about terminating the vouchers, and he is encouraging the housing commission to work with HUD to find an alternative solution, said Peter Karafotas, press secretary for the congressman.
Tamekia Bolds, 25, pays $211 of her $500 rent plus utilities, which are several hundred dollars a month in the winter.
She was especially angry over the abrupt cancellation of the voucher because she gave up a low-rent apartment in a nice neighborhood when she got the voucher a year ago, so she could have a house with a yard for her 6-year-old daughter to play in.
"Now they are leaving us out in the cold," said Bolds, who works part time at a group home making $8 an hour. "What can I do? I don't have a deposit to move again."
The average housing assistance payment made to landlords in Flint is $440, according to Caldwell's letter. Voucher recipients also often pay an additional amount.
The voucher program started in 1976 and helps families making less than 50 percent of the median income as well as the elderly and disabled.
Caldwell indicated seniority is being used to determine who is allowed to keep their voucher.
"There are people that I know that have been on for years and years. Shouldn't these people have their life together already?" Bolds said.

* * * * *

There is so much that's fucked up about this that it's difficult to know where to begin.


The fact that I know about this occurrence at all is to the credit of the Flint Journal. They recently published an editorial (characterized by particularly weak logic) on April 7th, which prompted me to purchase an online copy of the article printed above, dated March 25th.

It's not enough.

This is the biggest news story in Flint right now, but with just one day's local coverage and a belated editorial, it's received a fraction of the coverage it deserves.

Meanwhile, take a glance at some of this past week's leading articles:

Coffee Beanery's growing film credits bring perks
Commuters contend with I-75 construction
High prices fuel irony of lower profits
Aspiring actors get prime exposure
Burned again: Lighter's banned in carry-on, checked bags

This is newsworthy?

The public housing story should be in the news day after day. It should cling to the front pages until it is dealt with. It should hover in the wings, I suppose, if it must, so we can see the latest brawl between Williamson and Coleman, but right afterwards this story should be back at front, nosing its way in.

Not only has the Journal allowed the Coffee Beanery to upstage a very real crisis involving many hundreds of citizens, they've attended to it in such a way that shows almost a contemptuous lack of thought. HUD shoud be held accountable, not the Flint Housing Commision?! The Journal says so, but they don't say why. Certainly HUD didn't request a cut in funding, nor does the Journal cite any significant mismanagement on the federal level.

Shame on the Flint Journal for making such a mess of their responsibility.

Shame on the Flint Journal for ceding opportunities to provide accountability.

For ceding the chance to be relevant.

* * * * *


But conservatives are more wrong.

The argument they make is that simply adequate funding will not resolve housing crises among the urban, working poor. They are correct. Just throwing money at a problem won't make it go away, and the debacle that has been housing projects this half-century is a pretty powerful example.

But conservatives beat out the Democrats for error if they think there is any way to resolve the crises without funding. Furthermore, they are absolutely wrong if they think they themselves will benefit from this track, in the long run, whatsoever.

Bear in mind that Americans are the most able consumers of American products.

Bear in mind that Jessica, or Tamekia at $8 an hour, can be stable and contributing parts of the economy, and might even aspire to economic mobility, but not if they and their children are homeless.

Bear in mind that those thrown out will be disproportionately minorities and children, while it is the older, white population that is still leaving Flint today. By depriving its growing demographic of housing, and through it, the stability necessary for a solid education and growth into a contributing member of society, Flint suffers as a whole. When Flint suffers, as the core of a rapidly expanding metro area, the entire county suffers.

* * * * *


Answer: In the eighties, when the advent of political correctness exposed the paternalism and condescension in most "altruistic" actions, and when Reagan immasculated generosity (a double insult). Unfortunately, it seems we took the easy out, and decided to just stop caring. Anymore, even liberals hesitate to suggest we take economic action "because it's the right thing to do."

Confronted honestly, with warts and limitations, isn't that the best reason?

Shouldn't we strive to uphold the dignity of humanity whenever possible, and shouldn't that effort (granted, a very, flawed, biased, and unbalanced effort) be its own reward for us?

As the Journal article points out, public housing tends to create conditions unsanitary, inaccessible, and unsafe for its residents. As Barbara Ehrenreich points out, the poverty rate is still calculated by the cost of food, while the cost of housing in particular has exploded in the last thirty years. As a result, now one in five of the homeless is working full time...

So shame on conservatives for their short-sighted and materialistic outlook that curtails their own economic future and shows a blatant disregard for both the working poor and the unemployed.
Shame on them for thumping a Bible in my face that doesn't once mention abortion or gay marriage, but that invokes the misfortunes of the poor in practically every book.
Shame on them for upholding the "sanctity of life," but for hypocritically waving through policies that predictably show an utter disregard for human needs and mutual respect.

* * * * *


There are too many coincidences.

Clyde Caldwell, the director of the Flint Housing Commission shares his name with another Clyde Caldwell. Clyde Caldwell the second wrote books for the Dragonlance saga, a favorite series of mine containing the title "Flint, the King." Thus, an online search of "Flint" and "Clyde Caldwell" yields the writer, never the director.

Having read three accounts of this housing debacle, I see no reason to fault HUD and every reason to fault the Flint Housing Commission.

Finally, in desperation, I thought I'd appeal to make a donation. To post a destination on this blog. Maybe we could help them out a little. It's too bad. The Flint City Website doesn't even have an entry for the FHC, and any numbers yielded in numerous searches (online and by phone) only provides old numbers to crumbling projects where nobody picks up.

Even after 24 rings.

So, shame on the City of Flint and the Flint Housing Commission for such disengenuousness. For their unjustifiable inefficiency and flagrant disregard for their own citizens and tenants.

* * * * *


I'm compelled to do something small, at least.

The Salem Housing Community Development Corporation and the Salem Housing Community Task Force have provided housing in Flint for low-income families for over twenty years. Housing involves the restoration of vacant houses, and is dependent on prospective owners contribution of labor towards their own houses and others'. Their state funding was recently suspended by Don Williamson's administration for fiscal mismanagement... this is the same administration that is unable to provide, on its website or elsewhere, a working number or email for its own housing commission.

Salem is worthy of a donation. And this is an issue of critical importance.

Salem Housing CDC
3216 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Flint, MI 48505

Cheques can be made out to: Salem Housing CDC.

~ Connor

Oneidine 27, 27.


- I didn't write on Friday... didn't write on Friday.
- On Thursday night, Jess came over for a visit. We had a hot chicken recipe for dinner, and talked until mid-late (about eleven). I didn't stay up very late that night...
- On Friday, I left work a little after one, rode home, took a much needed nap (because my sleep had been cut short all week) and woke up just before four. I packed, Sam got home, he packed, and we both rode the 147 downtown. We transferred to the METRA and rode it about twenty miles further to the Gary Airport. There, we met Lisa and her father, who drove us out onto the tarmac, loaded us into his 1979 Tiger (grounded temporarily due to a helicopter helixing all the local air), and launched us up off lake Michigan. I managed to take some nice pictures of Gary and most interestingly the peninsula owned by Ispat Inland Steel. It's completely invisible and seemingly unimportant to those of us who only travel by rail and car, being a roadless thrust of industry over one mile wide, angling about two miles into the lake, but the shape it created from our perspective was striking: lake, Ispat, lake... the distant skyline. More photos to post when I get the chance, if you even believe me anymore.
Despite my (mild) fear of heights and experience with the bumpiness of single-engine airplanes, the ride was smooth and uneventful. The cockpit was roughly the size of a very small sports coupe (we had considerably more legroom in Lisa's compact ride back on Sunday), and Sam and I were perched in the back but our knees near our chins and clutching our overstuffed backpacks.
The air hot gotten hazy as Chicago drifted into the distance and, due to a combination of humidity and glare from the sunset, we had just lost Chicago when the shoreline ran unambiguously north, and we headed out over Michigan.
One thing that was additionally remarkable about our altitude (about 8,000 feet) was the particular perspective on cities below. They seemed mighty and sprawling, but we were just small enough and distant enough that by taking in the whole panorama, we encompassed many distant cities at once. During the most remarkable moment, one that represented for me entire afternoons spent in the car, we drifted north of Lansing, and as we did so, saw Flint and Saginaw glittering in the distance ahead, with Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo fading into the twilight behind. It made Michigan feel as very small place.
We landed smoothly at Saginaw International, rode out to Lisa's (where Sam and Lisa's dad tooled around with a Hammacher Schlemmer toy robot), and then Lisa lent us her car so she wouldn't have to drive us down to Genesee. Sam dropped me off at home, then headed onto Flint. My parents and I picked up a pizza, and my mother and I stayed up late talking.
- On Saturday, I was woken up at about nine thirty, and we drove down to Miller road to run several errands, including a stop at Borders. Later, my father and I went to downtown Flushing for lunch at Skips and pool, I took (another) nap... a forty-five minute nap that lasted two hours. And made dinner for my parents. Lime Shrimp and Balsamic Tomatoes. Lisa had been separated from her car, and we were going to take photos in Flint the next morning, so I drove up to Saginaw to pick her up. We felt like conversation, so we drove the long way home, and Sam called, and we stopped at the Starlite for coffee and a coney. We decided on the Starlite by decided to go somewhere scuzzy that was nevertheless not Angelo's. We got home a little after two.
- On Sunday, I didn't have an alarm, and was still tired, so I missed Mass the next morning. I woke up around nine, and Lisa and I left around ten, picking up Sam, and heading toward the Flats. We parked at the White Horse in, and spent the next two hours taking well over two hundred photos. Most of these were concentrated upon the vacant industrial complex (wedged up against Fenton road, between Court and I-69, and set back from Thread creek a ways). This urban exploring was legal by a technicality; while the land is doubtless private property, there's nothing posted by way of trespassing warning, nor are there any artificial barriers blocking entry. One literally walks in and out. That said, there's known to be unpleasant surprises in this place sometimes, and so I was glad to have the company. We also photographed the creek, the hills, the Court St. overpass, and the neighborhood itself (one of my favorites in the city). All this will appear on my Professional Website, which I will debut in the next month.
After photographing, Sam had gone home, but Lisa and I moved onto the Atlas for breakfast at lunch. We returned to Flushing, I reviewed my photos, and took yet another nap. For dinner we ate chicken and potato salad, and Sam picked us up in Lisa's car. We drove back to Chicago, and spent the latter half of the trip introspecting and scaring ourselves with various stories of our experiences. I got home about elevent, and was not up late.



New York Times: Top Cardinal Extols Catholic Doctrine as Conclave Begins.


Where were you in '85?

Friday, April 15, 2005

HIPAA: Food for Thought


HIPAA is the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, passed by congress in 2001, and implemented in 2002.
Two accidental infractions can denote a $10,000 fine. One deliberate infraction denotes a much higher fine, I believe $25,000.

Suppose I am scheduling an appointment with pt. X in the waiting area, and I confirm the patient's address, saying: "Do you still live at 4222 E. Argyle St."
This is a violation of HIPAA. All applicable fees apply.

Suppose I am calling a patient into the back room from the waiting area, and instead of saying, "Alan, the doctor will see you now," I say, "Mr. Johnston, the doctor will see you now."
This is a violation of HIPAA. All applicable fees apply.

Suppose I am confirming an appointment by phone with pt. Y, who has recently decided to go on/off birth control. I receive her husband on the phone. I say: "I am calling to confirm Valerie's appointment with Dr. Halburn this Monday." He takes a message, and we hang up.
This is fully compliant with HIPAA. Nothing prevents Pt. Y's husband from determining what sort of a doctor Dr. Halburn is, and speculating on the nature of her appointment. Neither myself nor my department is accountable in any way for the fact that he has received sensitive medical information with neither Pt. Y's consent nor her knowledge.

There's all the difference in the world between the appearance of security, and security.

~ Connor

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Oneidine 23, 27.


- Even... more... exhausted...
- I decided to do my taxes early this year; I did them last night.
- I also saw Pleasantville.
- Another long day at work. 'Til 6:30. Today should be much, much shorter.



NEWS OF THE DAY 200 families face uncertain futures.

April Showers.

What is your adult entertainment name? You arrive at this by using the name of the first pet your family owned after you were born as your first name, and the most flamboyant/strident name floating among your relatives as your last name. (Not to be confused with your "pen name," which we covered yesterday.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005



In recent years at least a solid majority of the reading, and more recently, music, I've experienced has been compiled off several lists (occasionally overlapping). These lists are composed inostensibly for "research" but undeniably for pleasure, and have been fruitful for both.

Since I'm still in the "budding writer" category (one is until after grad school, or your hair falls out on its own, both of which are in my near future) I shouldn't turn down any opportunity for practice and advertising, so I'm going to start including "reviews" of these works on this blog.

In fact, I've already posted two: a review of Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, and Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science by Charles Wheelan.

* * * * *

Starting next week, I'll be posting these reviews more frequently, but I'd like to make a couple comments on the reviews themselves, to avoid trouble later on:

As a writer and artist, I've embraced a holistic approach that emphasizes breadth. This has its disadvantages, which often manifest in a corresponding lack of depth. As such, I won't be writing about the Blues as a blues aficionado, or economics as an economist or a sociologist. In fact, my philosophy even has consequences within my own field. Because I spend time learning about politics or math, I spend less time than I might be able, say, reading contemporary writers.
So let's have no illusions; where I do not have the perspective to make a critical judgment, I will not do so. The criteria for personal observation is accessible to all. So while I will make critical observation of a work as it is when possible, the emphasis will be on my personal perspective, and what I can extrapolate.
In short, sometimes my level of detail will be limited, at least in terms of direct analysis, and I'll often stop short of recommending or condemning any work of art.

* * * * *

The rest of this post is a brief explanation of the lists, how they were composed, and what they hope to accomplish. I include it as an formal articulation of my ideas, and also in case anyone finds them interesting.

There are three sorts of list.

The first type of list is the most inconsequential and informal, and is simply any work I must engage for perspective on an individual project. For example: Adrift on the Mainstream was a mystery novella I wrote dealing with a serial killer, so I read and viewed several mysteries and books on criminal psychology. These lists are informal in that their items are essentially self-explanatory and are short enough that they do not require further organization.

The second type of list do not so much contribute to individual projects as much as my personal life. They are typically recommendations (eg. the Harry Potter books, Late Night with Conan O'Brien), religious (eg. the Bible), written/created by friends* (eg. Joe Loya's novel, Hallie Gordon's plays, Animate's concert, friends' blogs), "guilty pleasures" (eg. Desperate Housewives, Meet the Fockers), or maintenance (The Flint Journal, the New York Times).

The third type of list is the most complex and the most time-consuming. Five long-term projects (which I designate as First Family) involve more coordination since the aquistion of knowledge is multivalent, requires a specific rigor, and often involves specialization. I am currently pursuing research for two projects: Urbàntasm and Euphemism (a novel). Lists for these projects are divided into sublists I call "clout"s. Each sublist designates a subject with which I hope to command "clout."

I describe "clout" as 1) felicity... I can discuss and navigate the subject with ease and discipline. 2) credibility... I can express my views convincingly and plausible. 3) sophistication... I can express views of complexity from several angles or perspectives. 4) generality... I can extrapolate larger themes from my understanding of the subject. 5) specialization... a more extensive knowledge in particular areas of the field. 6) human contacts in the field able to answer questions and offer contrasting views.

While Euphemism is the more wildly experimental of these two projects, Urbàntasm has the most research demands.

Urbàntasm requires four kinds of clout:
- CULTURAL [specializations in 1990s American Adolescent culture, Industrial Midwestern American Culture, African American Culture, Mexican American Culture Romanian American culture, and Roma American culture].
- POLITICAL/ECONOMIC/HISTORICAL [specializations in American and miswestern history, labor movements and macroeconomics, with particular emphasis on unions and globalization].
- MATHEMATICAL [specializations in Dynamical Systems, Geometry, Topology, and Number Theory].
- THEOLOGICAL/PHILOSOPHICAL [specializations in Metaphysics, Ethics, Aesthetics, and Christian Theology, with particular emphasis on the Endtimes].

Euphemism requires three kinds of clout:
- GEOGRAPHICAL [specializations in Chicago, Detroit, Flint, and to a lesser degree, New York City].
- HISTORICAL [specializations in Greek civilization and culture, with emphasis on the Persian, Peloponnesian wars].
- ROMANTIC [specialization in gothic literature].

* Not reviewed without permission.

Oneidine 22, 27.


- So... freakin'... exhausted...

The East Side.


BBC News: Labs race to destroy deadly virus.

Hollywood. Cross-Canada and US Road Trip Pictures.

What is your pen name? You arrive at this by using your middle name as your first name, and the street you grew up on as your last name. (Not to be confused with your "adult entertainment name," which we will cover tomorrow.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005




from the 18th annual Hunt:

Item #95. 37: He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of breat, and give them to eat? 38: He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. 39: And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. 40: And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. 41: And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. 42: And they did all eat, and were filled. 43: And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the tishes. 44: And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men. And by "fish" here mean the finest two words in the English language: "encased meats." From 11:30 PM to 3:00 PM on Thursday and Friday, erect your hot dog stands in order to promote and distribute your tasty hot dogs between Cobb and the Reynolds Club. Hot dogs, buns, ketchup and mustard will be provided. Space yourselves out evenly, teams, as we're not looking for Nash Equilibrium here. Advertising is a must, as is a Subservient Weiner. The latter'll do whatever it takes to hawk your dogs. There are three key rules for this item: 1.) teams may not eat their own hot dogs, 2.) all allotted hot dogs must be evenly divided between Thursday and Friday, and 3.) no hot dog shall remain at the end of either day. [201 points. 10 bonus points for showing us what a Chicago style hot dog is. 11 bonus points for showing us what a University of Chicago style hot dog is]

Registration details provided soon.

Oneidine 21, 27.


This post was accidentally deleted.

COMMENTS included an overview of the weekend. Friday featured Mexican food with Jessica and Animate, followed by Animate in concert. Saturday featured spring cleaning, including laundry, shopping, and wedding planning, followed by Colin's 22nd birthday party. Sunday featured brunch with Armand and Vivian followed by the Harry Potter discussion group, followed by church. Then I wrote a beautifully elegiac passage on the grace and beauty of rainy, gray days. Followed, by an overview of this months limited astronomical treats.

The COUNTRY OF THE DAY was the Solomon Islands.

The WORD OF THE DAY was Haggard.

The NEWS OF THE DAY was here.

The PICTURE OF THE DAY was here.

The QUESTION OF THE DAY was what board game is your favorite, and what board game transformed you into a jerk?

And I'm really sad about losing the comments on rainy days...

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Aging, Rocking, Chicago, and the "Big New"s on a Saturday Morning


Last night Jess and I saw fellow judge Lisa and old friend Ricardo, among others, as the band Animate rock out at the U.S. Beer Co. on North Clybourn.

It's been ages since I've been to a good, old-fashioned rocking out. In fact, I'm a little at odds with myself. As much as I try yto expand the range of my cultural and musical experience (this year I'm frantically trying to familiarize myself with the Blues before leaving Chicago forever); jazz, classical, country, techno, and hip hop, it's really the music I liked in high school that continues to grab me.

I still follow the careers of R.E.M. and Tori Amos, and the scattered members of the Smashing Pumpkins, and be counted upon to buy anything they release, no matter how questionable the quality (Strange Girls). I still listen to their cohorts: Jane's Addiction, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, and the Stone Temple Pilots. And most of the groups I've discovered since then; Radiohead, Björk, and Lush, have many similarities.

Thus I'd always assumed that if I had unimaginable talent and infinite time, and decided to start my own musical supergroup, it would be a rock band with roots solidly stuck in the electronic and indie scenes of the late eighties and early nineties.

In fact, a plan had been all worked out.

I'd join forces with Paul Lathrop and Brandi Caruthers in the revolutionary group Effervescence, and our trademarks were the rhythmic synthesis of electronic and acoustic rock, mind-numbingly ambitious tours, and nine-hour long concerts.

Our first album was to be Rest. Stop. followed by the Driving Tour. Our second album Fuchsia would barely go gold by the end of our Mauve Tour. Our third album, Honey Locust, only sold half as many, but we broke out with our fourth, Issue, as embodied in the wildly successful Teddy Bear Tour. Subsequent albums had titles such as X Aisle, Swing Set, and Moonbabies, but I forget the exact order.

Today, I'm inclined a little older. If I had just a little more talent and a lot more time, and decided to reinvest myself in making music, I think I'd have to go to the blues.
I realized this at the concert last night.
Animate really was rocking out. And yet, the audience drew me away from time to time. During the earlier set, when I sat back by the bar, watched their black silhouettes against the stage, static, as if carved out of cardboard. There was a little head-bopping during Animate's set, but I realized that with most rock, or at least most rock made these days, dancing is an optional activity.

This was true during the three Smashing Pumpkins concerts I attended, which were some of the most artistically intense experiences I've witnessed, but which nevertheless consisted in large part of people standing around, oriented toward the stage. And here I make an audacious generalization, but one that is true enough to justify my concern: most "white" music, from rock to classical, has asked us to forget our bodies. As someone who feels awkward in his own skin, and would like to be better acquainted, I see no use in indulging this predilection any further. Certainly I don't have the finesse for dancing or the physical convolutions we see unfolding in music videos these days. But toe tapping. The idea that a rhythm is manifest and has to be exhibited somehow. More, the sense of rhythm as having its origin in the mind and bones and blood and shaking itself out through the body is that sort of holistic rapture I think we seek out when we go out to a club in the first place.

So I would play the Blues.

I am sure of it.

I think I realized this in Flint two summers ago when I'd make a weekly expedition to the Vets Club, a south end bar featuring Remix, an old Chicago-style blues setup, and felt that I got it, and nothing more. Which is not to say that the blues, or any other type of music is a purely physical experience. The difference is on emphasis. All music I've been drawn to possesses a sort of powerful emotion. The difference is that the universals and vagueries of grunge ("rape me" are nevertheless incredibly broad lyrics when you get down to it), alternative, rock, and its ilk is abstract in a way that requires stillness, like sitting on a bed, to "get it," because you have to reassimilate and build on the words and sound to derive meaning. In my experience, the Blues have been an equally mental exercise, but the process begins with comprehending the specifics of the music and moving toward the abstract. You learn what the song is about, then recombine elements in a meaningful way. There is less interpretive freedom, but it trades in for greater directness, and probably, relevance.

This has been a big, fat tangent.

But if I was going to play, I'd like to play the Blues.

* * * * *

And speaking of the Blues.

Now that I know for certain that I am leaving Chicago soon, I want to devour the whole city... the eat it up, to experience every block, row, district, parade, and party. I'm, fortunately, able to make this a useful experience as well by connecting it with Euphemism.

The Blues are a pillar of this effort. The Blues are to Chicago what jazz is to New Orlenas, hip hop to New York, Motown and techno to Detroit. So I'll be trying to ingest a blue album and see a Blues set every two weeks. I'll post details on this blog. I hope you'll join me.

Similarly, when I go to grad school, I decided that I'd start right away at gaining some comprehensive knowledge of my new home, partly through music. My plan had been to master grunge in Seattle, jazz in N'awlins, and hip hop in New York. Well, Seattle's right out. It's going to be New York or New Orleans. The Big Easy or the Big Apple. And I hope you'll join me.

* * * * *

It's almost impossible to talk about aging with any range of people, because those who are younger do not understand, and those who are older scornfully dismiss questions and ruminations ("don't start... don't start").
I first felt old at the age of twelve. It was the end of my sixth grade year and the middle of the night, and I'd just finished watching what stuck me as an incredibly depressing movie, Avalon with my father. It was about an Italian immigrant who arrived in Baltimore (?) during a fourth of July spectacular moment that defined the rest of his life. Which isn't a bad moment for definition: he walked out of the night like a melancholy hobo with lilies and stargazers mounting and exploding behind him. But the movie ended with him desiccated and shriveled in a nursing home, watching (uncomprehending) a Fourth of July parade on TV. I didn't really get it. I still don't know that I do.

I do know that back in bed, with the window open and the orange lava lipe churning at my side, I felt a sort of static chill. I felt old because things had been chaging; I was growing into an intensity of thought and feeling that I'd never experienced before.

I've had a similar feeling, minus the static, over the last four years. At two times twelve, I began growing out of an intensity of feeling I'd experienced for twelve years. In a way, childhood, and adolescence in particular, is drunkenness. We're propelled by gut and hormones, and even as our brains grow more agile, their energy is still focused on that sort of visceral gratification. In my early twenties, trading in this sense of personal power and relevance for "sober" thought and focus seemed like an truly raw deal. Give me back that indulgence and vulnerability. I'd rather have that crutch. What use are the tools of stable relationships and actions if I don't prize and cling to every moment of every day?

Last night may have been a turning point for, albeit a small one. For the first time, adulthood didn't strictly imply "less fun." It did imply more discipline and responsibility, but for the first time, the benefits were not contemptible. After all, I have reconciled much that I thought to be at odds in my life, and have lost neither of them. I'm actively involved in my family, but maintain diverse and fruitful friendships. I've become dynamically active in my faith and political beliefs, but retain my practice of independent thought, debate, and scrutiny. I've adjusted my desire to write all my life with my passion to raise a family with Jessica. And I still enjoy it. And yes, there is still passion. I'd always assumed that passion of youth was more genuine and more powerful than the "passion" of age. But last night I felt a passion balanced by discretion and perspective, and it is not less genuine, and it is not less powerful. It is a little slower, perhaps, and given to caution. But there's the trade-off, the pro, the worthwhile: nor does it rely on elaboration, ostentation.

Last night I felt mature and powerful, as I drank my beer and clasped my head and nodded my head to Animate.

There are those in my life who've always been comfortable with their age. I might never be quite as easy with it as all that. But it's a struggle that reamins worthwhile when fueled by the hope that changes are worthwhile, and that new vistas are not to be ignored by obsessively checking over my shoulder.

At twelve I was frightened for leaving what I knew... but the next twelve years brought love and fury, social awareness, artistic growth, and discoveries at every turn. Lately I've been frightened for leaving what I now know. Hear me and help me keep my eyes on the horizon ahead.

And if I played, I would play the blues.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Ronald, Orpha, and John Paul II: Thoughts on Popes


I've deliberately waited awhile to comment on this, because I feel that I'm at a disadvantage from lack of perspective. Whatever that may gain me in terms of objectivity won't accomplish anything if I don't know what I'm talking about.

Growing up, I was only aware of the pope in an inconsequential, superficial way. I stumbled upon the term around the age of nine or ten while reading through an encyclopedia. I grasped that he had some religious function, but mainly remember being amused by the closeness of this supposedly revered term to "poop." Of course, during high school, the majority of my friends were Catholic, but we didn't talk about religion often, and when we did our discussions circled more around parishes and sacraments than cardinals and the Vatican. In this sense, my introduction to the subject was probably opposite to many others'.

I can credit Inquiry, the initial phase of my conversion in 2001, as my proper introduction to the Holy Father. I came to understand the pope's bearing on the church as similar to the president's on the U.S., with seemingly fewer checks-and-balances, and I came to understand John Paul II as unambigously conservative, but also a great traveler and pilgrim; a man of unambiguous sincerity. I knew that he was exceptional for the duration of his leadership, as well as for being the first Polish pope; the first non-Italian in centuries.

More recently I've been aware of sharp disagreements I've had with the Vatican, concerning the ordination of women, the opposition of gay marriage, and the condemnation of artificial contraceptives. I also respected the pope's reluctance to approve either war in Iraq, and his humanitarian efforts around the world. On the other hand, I was unaware of his high-handedness in reassigning or excommunicating contentious priests and bishops, nor did I know of his role in undermining communist rule in Eastern Europe.

So for about three years, I've had at least a working knowledge of the papacy and this particular pope.

But I was totally unprepared for the outpouring of attention upon his death this week. I didn't understand how exceptional he really was, in every way, with stress on the exception. We was an exception. Pope's aren't typically like this, I guess. They don't hail from Europe's equivalent of Nebraska, apparently, they don't retain their position for twenty-six years, they don't circle the world dozens of times, they don't wade into crowds embracing the masses, they don't pray in mosques and synagogues, they don't double the number of saints or appoint dozens of Cardinals each year, and they certainly don't apologize for the Holocaust or Inquisition.

John Paul did all of these things in a big way. He has already been known as "the Great." It's an title applied to only four popes in the history of the church. That's four out of 266. When the majority of defining characteristics of any leader are exceptions, than the word "exceptional" applies.

So what am I to make of this man, this "distant leader" who has just passed? Who, on the one hand, brought a sensibility and groundedness to an institution that had seemingly been adrift for some time, and who, on the other hand, had packed the deck with his ideologic clones, insuring that one billion Catholics are plugged into the beliefs of a man born in 1920 until at least 2020.

I can think of two comparisons, one ominous and one with more promise. The best I can do is to try and understand the pope as standing somewhere among them.

* * * * *

It was shortly after I heard the news of the pope's passing that an anchorperson referred to him as "the Great Communicator."

Now who had I heard called that before?


Ah, yes...


And then the parallels start rolling in.

Both had probably initially seemed to be unlikely candidates (a Pole and an actor).
Both had taken over in a time of fragment and malaise.
Both had distinctive, memorable personalities characterized by an irreverence and sponteneity.

And most importantly... they energized their base, but in a way that shifted the priorities of that base.

I'm neglecting a slew of other parallels. For example, even if a line drawn between the explosion of the deficit and the critical shortage of priests in the third world is merely symbolic, I still view such connections as symptoms of institutional imbalance, as an unyielding, uncompromising attempt to circumvent the Law of Thermodynamics.
These parallels, however, are rooted in my beliefs regarding conservatism in general: as defined as resistance to change, and particularly institutional change, conservatives place too much faith in the legitimacy and scope of authority.
But of course, anyone who does not agree with that assertion will likely disagree with most of the connections I might draw between Reagan and John Paul.

Returning to the concept of a shifting base.

Reagan reenergized conservatives, but he did it by recentering the Right. Specifically, he retained economic credibility among most of his supporters by exchanging a balanced budget for corporate deregulation. Throw in his famous burst of defense spending and the deepening roots of the Christian right, and conservatives' long-term orientation had shifted considerably. We now have a Republican party largely unconcerned with small government and or a balanced budget, but with a sharply defined religious perspective.

John Paul II essentially did the same thing with conservative Catholics. In the wake of Vatican II, both traditional and liberal Catholics were struggling to find the touchstones of a church that had been almost unchanged for centuries. By energetically promoting a catholic (lower case) agenda around the world while vigorously excising uncomfortable questions, he shifted conservatives in the Catholic church in such a way that they are much more firmly entrenched today. Not only simply opposing gay marriage or the ordination of women, John Paul declared that these issues were not open for discussion. Not only appointing bishops who'd agree with his positions (a formidible wall on its own, 26 years long), he expelled those who voiced dissent. And his embrace of the developing world complicates matters. I don't want to stumble into the minefield of my own cultural bias, but conservative Catholicism is much more resilient for having shed (at least in part) the albatross of "colonial neglect." Much of John Paul's most enthusiastic support came from the poorest Catholic countries.

I never much cared for Reagan, myself. We disagreed on a great many things. I don't consider him to be the devil. But he did set the stage for some very scary Republicans. And John Paul has set the stage for some very scary popes.

Will our next pope be a W?

* * * * *

There is one other person the pope has reminded me of this week.

In a way, my contact is much more intimate, and at the same time, it's more of a struggle to explain.

I do not have any specific memories of my Great Grandma Turner; she died when I was about three. She used to hold me on her lap and sing. According to family, she voraciously consumed the news. I'm almost certain she would've agreed with the pope on just about everything, excepting Catholicism. But where is this connection grounded?

When I hear my great grandmother described, a sort of animation is always implied. It can't be physical animation; I don't know that she was very active, physically, though she did live to be 89. Rather, her mind was sharp, and her comments made an indelible imprint on those who heard them.

My family can correct me if I'm wrong.

But there's a common element to the animation described in my great grandma and Pope John Paul; a similitude so evocative that I've never found such inexplicable likeness between two people I've never met or cannot remember.

And though my great grandmother, as pope, would've probably made the same decisions as John Paul, Orpha Turner also set the stage for my grandmother. She helped bring my parents into the frame. She anchored the Coynes as a family, even when the original namesake member had gone elsewhere. Today, my grandmother has admirably stepped into that role, and has embodied mercy, compassion, and loyalty to a degree that defines those traits for me. Her mother helped to create that in her through integrity and direction.

Pope John Paul had integrity and direction.

So will our next pope be a Eunice?

My God... that would be wonderful.

That would be a call to faith I almost cannot imagine.

Oneidine 17, 27.


- Yesterday... very exciting. Left work before two, rode the bus home, cleaned the kitchen from top to bottom, and my bedroom, and sorted out all of my tax forms and financial documents. Fun fun fun. This was my day.
- For the second day in a row: where are the April showers?
- Tonight I'm going to a concert on North and Clybourn.
- I wish there was more to say. But there's not.



The New York Times: France Urged to Skip Official Papal Honors.

light-rain-large.jpg. Photography by Will Koffel.

Where were you in '95?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Water found on Mars!


How did I miss this one from NASA?

But are you Irish?


Otherings has cited an Irish Times survey soliciting characteristics of "the Irish."

According to one letter, the Irish are defined by:

1. Punctuality.
2. Attention to detail.
3. Leaving public houses before closing time.
4. Respect for speed limits.
5. Early marriage. (for men)
6. Truthfulness.

And there it is! I'm only truly guilty of #4, if I understand correctly. I'll let you decide on #6.

~ Connor

Oneidine 16, 27.


- Yesterday... worked late, rode the bus home, got some fried chicken, and worked late.
- Jess and I were walking home from the scav hunt meeting when we felt the wind turn. It was on Cornell, about halfway between Hyde Park and 53rd St. All of a sudden, a stirring, and the temperature dropped about a dozen degrees.
- Today is more what I expect from April. Black bark on green grass and gray skies.
- But where are the April showers?
- Not much to say today. Tonight I'm hoping to accomplish much Spring Cleaning.
- Last Saturday I bought a new pair of khakis for work. $20. Today the button popped off. It's frustrating. Fortunately, I wore a belt.



The Flint Journal: City, county ducking mayor?

Flying fish. The Virtual Zoo.

If you were a superhero, what would be your moniker?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Scav Hunt Secrets: Selecting the Scavenczar (aka 'Head Judge')


There is a vocabulary specific to the Scavenger Hunt. It is succinctly outlined in the University of Chicago ScavHunt ByLaws.

* * * * *

When a high judge ascends to a higher plane of existence, such as the Peace Corps or graduate school, the Sir Ector confirms the absence of our shepherd by ceremonially cutting three of the Scavenczar's favorite items (an act which would have been met with derision and flogging if the Scavenczar were presenct).1 The Sir Ector then arranges for the Scavenczar's T-shirts to be shredded and seals the original copies of lists the Scavenczar presided over in a manila envelope, and buries it six-feet deep on the 57th Street Beach.

The passing of the Scavenczar is announced by the Minister of Propoganda, who sends an email out to all team captains and University administrators, and calling out the news from the center of the quads.

What follows for the remainder of the quarter is a period of communal mourning. It is not uncommon for team members to meet in informal ceremonies signified by candles, photographs of the Scavenczar, and a Mardi Gras style orgy of beads. Items the Scavenczar approved are paraded about the campus, and many make pilgrimages to Ida Noyes hall to remenisce on the Annoucement of Winners performed by the Scavenczar on Judgment Days past.

Finally, around the time Finals are over, the Judges sequester themselves in the holy confines of the Maroon Offices, though in recent years, there has been a movement to locate this event at Steve's or Kaury's apartment. First, all Judges swear on the only extant copy (handwritten) of the 1986 list (it does exist) that they will give absolute obedience to the new Scavenczar, and that they will not share the details of the voting procedure. Judges who violate this are deprived of the Hot Seat, by which Hot Side Hot cools off, and is Cold Side Cold forever.2

On the first night of this electoral quarantine (a "conclave," if you will), the Judges typically get wasted and watch The Hunt, followed by Top Gun or various combinations of the Muppets Movies.

After a hearty breakfast of eggs and grits the following morning, the Judges begin the process of selecting a new Scavenczar. There are three ways in which this can occur: epiphany (everyone agrees, all at once), assignment (a number of delegates equal to the number of years scav hunt has taken place come to an agreement), or plurality. The first two are ridiculous and will never happen. The third is a simple plurality with the quirk that the pending Scavenczar must vote for somebody else.

Conditions for voting are that judges must have successfully passed Trial by Ovaltine, and at some time or place made a purchase using a fake I.D.

Ballots are handed out in the form of coasters from Harold's Chicken Shack.3 Three judges are chosen to count the ballot. Then, each Judge writes their choice for the new Scavenczar. Once they have voted, they fold their ballot in half (coasters are on cardstock, and not very flexible) and carry the ballot to the counters between the right thumb and index fingers with the palm upturned; in other words, as a Team Captain is likely to carry a list into his team's HQ. The Judge drops the ballot into a stein, which he then upturns into a Viking helmet. Each Judge promises that he has voted from the heart; may he now be rewarded in the stomach, and then trades the completed ballot for a slice of Cholie's pizza. He pumps his fist a couple times and returns to his place.

After the ballots are cast, the first reader puts on the Viking helmet and dances around to mix up the votes. The second reader then counts the number of the ballots, to make sure there is one for each Judge present. The third Judge reads them aloud before burning them in a recycled fumerama.

Voting occurs four times a day until a new Scavenczar is elected. Whenever there is an inconclusive vote, the Judges play taps on the harmonica so that team members amassed upstairs at DOC can tell that the process is ongoing. When the judge is elected, however, the judges blast Teena Marie at such a volume that the electricity in Ida is blown out, and all the students watching the Matrix Reloaded upstairs are plunged into the darkness of deception.

It is now the duty of the Scavenczar elect to make several important choices, such a number of superficial changes to the bylaws. The Minister of Propoganda steps up into the candle-lit haze of the Ida Noyes lobby and announces "We have a Scavenczar!" The new Scavenczar then step forward, offers three cheers for each team, and proclaims "The Hunt Will Go On!"4

~ Connor

1. This is actually a humane adaptation. The tradition until 1999 was for the former Scavenczar to get hammered on the Hunt's account, and for the other judges to hammer the former Scavenczar right back.

2. In fact, it is said that any team to which a fallen Judge had contributed is eternally doomed to lose. This has been put forward in past years as an explanation for the precipitous fall of the Shoreland, whose Tom Howe has engaged in all kinds of perversions and debaucheries. Yours truly is, at this moment, cursing both Mathews House and the F.I.S.T.

3. The miscreants of 2002 substituted napkins from Ribs N' Bibs.

4. Until 2001, tradition was to drive the new Scavenczar about Hyde Park in a Winnebago before team captains carried the Scavenczar to the top of Rockefellar chapel for moonlight seranade from the teams below. Once again, Tom Howe brought an end to this tradition through his aforementined excesses.




Actually, I lie. It's only 29 days to scav hunt. But I forgot to start the countdown yesterday. Thus I begin to cunningly lure you into the madness.

This is the Largest and Best Scavenger Hunt in the World (though props to Soma for his own noble effort and effect).

Interested in joining a team? Let me know, and I'll hook you up with info.

Oneidine 15, 27.


- Yesterday I felt compelled to live and did so. I was able to leave work around quarter-to-two. I walked up to my Fifth-Third branch (Division and Dearborn) and got the PIN for my Jeanie card. I took the train back home. Did some dishes. Got my camera. Left by three thirty. I rode down to Chinatown. And finished photographing Armour Square. I also got fortune cookies, ate at Seven Treasures, and bought a package of that ginseng tea with such punch that a label is posted on the side warning expectant mothers to steer clear.
- It's been a poignant experience... I've taken close to 500 pictures in eight hours now across the 1.5 square miles of Armour Square. About a third have been taken within the four square block area of Chinatown, and another third in the surrounding residential areas. I took about sixty pictures of the Bridgeport area adjacent to the Dan Ryan, including Comiskey, and about twenty of Wentworth Gardens.
- I know I keep saying I'll post all kinds of photos, and I will, but it depends upon the collusion of time and computers, neither of which is very reliable in my life these days.
- After Chinatown, I rode the El and then the bus to Hyde Park for another scav hunt meeting. They're coming on strong, now. I have another tonight...
- Finally, I learned this morning that I was indeed rejected from University of Washington. So Seattle is right out. So it goes. I'm one for three, but not traumatized in the slightest.

West Englewood.


BBC News: Kurd leader named Iraq president.

Aftermath. COMICON.COM.

Make up a scavhunt item. (If you're a judge, give us an item that has been cut).

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Oneidine 14, 27.


- Spring is here! We can probably trace the beginning of what we'd call "spring" to the beginning of last week, which was around eight weeks from Groundhogs day. I don't fault Phil, though. He isn't given the opportunity to prognosticate a time-frame, and really, from February 1st, such predictions would be beyond the best meteorologists in the first place. Six weeks was definitely closer than "right away." Take that, Staten Island Chuck. I did denounce you soundly!
- Storms are brewing across the plains and the south. It's not quite clear if they're going to hit Chicago. Also, a cold front will be moving through on Thursday and Friday. But this time, a cold front means 40s and rain, not 20s and snow. Naturally, different people will have different feelings about that.
- Later this month, we'll have generous views of Jupiter and Saturn, assuming Chicagoans can get sufficiently far from the city (I barely espied Mercury last month, and I'm not even positive it was Mercury). For the next several weeks, we'll be better to content ourselves with Mars. There's also an eclipse which will be vaguely visible in the South this Friday. If only someone were to live in Atlanta...
- Now that I've covered the weather and the stars, it's time to move onto a real force of nature: baseball. The season opened yesterday while I was at work. And the only team that matters, the Detroit Tigers, shattered the other guys with Dmitri Young hitting three home runs over a 110% capacity crowd. Of course, it helps when the "other guys" are the Royals, but I'm not going to bitch. Elsewhere of note, the White Sox beat the Indians 1-0, in what must have been a truly exciting game (the one run was in inning seven, so I suppose that's some slight drama, the Cubs slaughtered Arizona, and Cincinatti beat the Red 7-6. If I'm going to be living in New York, I'd best start warming up to the Mets, since I'll never warm up to The Man.
- Yesterday I finished out the early Easter church blitz revisiting Holy Name for the Feast of the Annunciation. I got home at about seven, full of plans, but too tired to pull them off. I did, however, between three naps, manage to clean a good portion of my room and dig up most of my tax forms. It really, though, was nothing but preparation for today. If today goes well, I'll clean the kitchen, continue to clean my room, and maybe even squeak in some work in Chinatown before the scavhunt meeting tonight.
- These days are busy days.

Jersey (British Crown dependency).


Detroit Free Press: Who needs hockey? City alive again with baseball. By Mitch Albom.

Dmitri Young. The Detroit News.

Which team will you be rooting for this year?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Oneidine 13, 27. Part 2.


- I'd like to post most aggressively. Specifically, I'd like to post at least 6 substantive posts each week. (Substantive is not "of the day" nor toss-off posts. They would ideally either outline an argument or fram a question). Within these six, there would be one in each category: DIARY, CONCEPT, EVENT, and BODY.
- Where is Coral's website, anyway?
- It might seem to some of you like everything's religion religion religion to me these days. It isn't really... at this time of year, however, there are a lot of events of religious import, and this year, they've coincided with global events of religious import. If you have little patience for such topics, just continue to pass them over. That said, I think it makes for a very engaging dialogue, and if anyone wants to talk about Lent, Easter, the papacy, religion and civil rights and so forth, in more detail, please, let me know.

Washington Park.


New York Times: Pope's Funeral Set for Friday

The Pantheon, Rome. architecture rensselaer.

A question for everybody. Would you prefer... a slight liberal or moderate pope from Italy or western Europe, or an extremely conservative pope from the developing world? Why?

Oneidine 13, 27. Part 1.


- You'll have to forgive me. In last several days I've either posted what's silly and strange, or nothing at all. It's one of those quirks of life that there's the least time to write when there's the most to write about.
- Last Wednesday. I went to Assumption Church for the fourth day of the octave. Work lasted until about 5:30. Moments after the clouds broke, Jess picked up Steve and I outside the hospital and took us over to Wildfire, a steakhouse in River North. We shared a bottle of red wine and I had horseradish seasoned cake. It was spectacular. We shared stories about growing up in smaller places and coming to the big city. Jess gave me a ride home afterwards... as we left the restaurant, the rain was still coming down in bucketfuls, but it has largely subsided by the time she dropped me off. Still, Sam and I gaped at the giant curtains and forks and specters of lighting shearing down off the lake.
But... I left my backpack at Jess'. I'm crippled without my backpack.
- Last Thursday. I went to St. Ita's in Edgewater for the fifth day of the octave. We had a very light patient load that day, so I didn't even arrive at work until 11:30. I left at 1:45, rode down to Hyde Park, and picked up my backpack. At this point I should have hustled back to Chinatown, and finished off my pictures before returning to Hyde Park by eight, but instead, I wasted about three hours at the 2nd Floor Coffee Shop. Still, it was nice to spend some time at the old hangout, even if I wasn't doing anything particularly useful. I met Jess when she finished work about six, and we went out for dinner at Maravillas. Then, after stopping back at her apartment for a couple minutes, we hustled over to Courtenay's for a Scavhunt meeting. It went well into the night, and was productive. With boiling blood near the end. Red blood.
- Last Friday. I went to Old St. Patrick's in the West Loop for the sixth day of the octave. I'll describe the church later, but here I'll call attention to the walk back. I love moving from the Loop to the Near North Side, because it's all Big Buildings and Big People, but all Big for very different reasons. On south Wacker there were valet meter... yes, human "parking meters." They took the drivers' time, then parallel parked along the curb. And of course, the buildings themselves are massive, but Wacker is so broad shouldered on its own it has quite a presence. I crossed at Franklin, walked north along Orleans, where all the upscale Italian restaurants were getting their bearings for the morning, and then up on Erie, I walked east, through the Cathedral District, through the Mag Mile, and on to Streeterville, with his hotels, bistros, and parking lots. All this takes place in under two miles.
I left work at about four, and went home for a nap and some food. Sam got home at around six, and later we were joined by Sky, Bill, and Coral. At 9:30 we left for the Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park, so we could hear the Chicago Jazz Conspiracy. But Coral fell while we were running for the train and got her hand cut up.
In an accidentally asshole moment, I asked if she got hurt. She said something amounting to "yes" which I heard as something amounting to "no," and answered, "well that's good, because it looked really funny."
These mishaps notwithstanding we did make it to the Heartland (which is, again, something in Chicago that I cherish and will miss very much), and sat through two jazz groups, managing to close the joint. Incidentally, Sky convinced us that Maple Trees had to be tapped or they'd explode... that this was the cause of dozens of deaths annually in New England. April Fools! (My April Fool prank this year was lame.)
After getting home, we stayed up and talked until three thirty. I went to bed. I was the first to go to bed.
- On Saturday I went to St. Gertrude's in Edgewater for the seventh day of the octave. I didn't wear a coat, and while it was chilly enough to numb my fingers, I didn't regret the choice. Going without a coat when one shouldn't is part of the joy of spring.
When I got home, I was going to take a nap, but Sky and Coral persuaded me to stick around for breakfast. We dragged Sam out of bed, then drove out to Kopi for coffee and discussion. In fact, we ended up entertaining the whole place with an energetic clash over the possibility and/or suppression of free energy technology. Essentially, my point was that "if that kind of technology were readily available, it couldn't be suppressed," and Skylar and Sam argued, "yes it could," though later on, Sam began talking about Legos or Monsters or something like that.
We returned to the apartment and took a nap which was eventually interrupted by a inquiry as to whether I'd like to consolidate my loans (I get about a dozen such offers each week; my loans have been consolidated for close to two years now). Then I took Sky and Coral on a pictoral tour of Armour Square, interrupted by news of the pope's death.
Jessica came over and picked me up, and we went shopping at Unique and Target. I dropped too much money. We got home, just as Sam and co. were leaving to see "Sin City." Jess and I had pasties for dinner.
- Yesterday I returned to St. Gertrude's for Divine Mercy Sunday, the eighth and last day of the octave. We were treated to a humorous but insightful half-hour homily on the last hundred years of the papacy. The message could be distilled into an old Italian saying: "After a fat pope, a thin pope." This, of course, meant that we'd rush through the Litergy of the Eucharist in about fifteen minutes, and I took a pleasant walk home along Glenwood, Early, and on up Winthrop and Kenmore.
Jess and I picked up Greg and headed out to Blue Island (making a wrong turn at Indiana) for a role-playing session in which many evil psions were killed, and I ceded my status as a prophet for Gruum'sh (sp, I know). Jess and I got home just as the shadows were dying (thank you, daylight savings time), and I made us ham sandwiches for dinner. We watched Desperate Housewives, and then, Jess persuaded me to take a look at Gray's Anatomy. I enjoyed it. But it's really sick. I spend forty hours each week in a hospital. Why would I want to watch a medical drama. I keep waiting for the one that features the adventures and exploits of the clerical staff, other than some life-endangering blunder once per season.

But I'm not sarcastic when I say that I enjoyed it.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Your April 1st Transaction


Don't worry. I'll be in touch with you shortly to answer your question regarding how to