Posted in Social Issues

True North and South; True East and West

This story goes back a few years. I work downtown, and was using the bus to commute back and forth from work (now I use both bike and bus). My bus stop was half a mile from my office, east to west.

In Kansas City, MO, all the numbered streets run east-west, the numbering starting at the river, and numbering up from there. Streets north of the river have north in their name; south of the river streets have no north or south, just a plain number name.

It was a hot summer day and I was walking along the south side of the street, east to west, to catch the shadows off the north sides of the buildings.

Except, the shadows were coming from the south sides of the buildings, covering the north sides of the streets.

I tried to figure out why that was, how it could be? I never resolved it at the time.

One of my conjectures was about the Tropic of Cancer. The earth moves on its axis through the seasons. The furthest north it moves is the Tropic of Cancer; the furthest south it moves is the Tropic of Capricorn. If we were below the tropic of Cancer, there would be a time when the sun could come from the north. But we are far north of the Tropic of Cancer, so it couldn’t be that.


It wasn’t until recently that I was looking at a map of downtown, and found one that was oriented so north-south was perfect up-down and east-west was side to side. That was when I noticed something: the streets don’t seem to run true east-west. The directions of the streets I was walking are off askew. Not that they seem to skew the right direction all the times to explain all the shadows I see, but it is finally a start.

But it does prove a point about assumptions and what we know to be true. The streets run east-west. That is a general rule, but it tells us nothing about any specific street.

I suppose the same thing could be true about any generalizations.Talk people. Gender, race, religion, etc., we “know” something about them, as groups, but it doesn’t guarantee we know anything about a particular individual. Generalizations are helpful, but most dangerous when we are most certain about what we know.

So the next time you see a shadow on the wrong side — remember the danger of assumptions — and confidence in the things you know are true.

Posted in Music

Whispering Hope

This song was taken quickly into the church, though it isn’t deep enough theologically to fit into the 100 hymns everyone should know. There really isn’t anything deeply theological anywhere.

But it has a nice melody, even if a little expansive.  Need a lot of support, which isn’t that easy to do while playing and singing.


Soft as the voice of an angel, Breathing a lesson unheard….

Hope with a gentle persuasion Whispers her comforting word….

Wait, till the darkness is over Wait, till teh tempest is done…

Hope for the sunshine tomorrow, After the shower is gone.


Whispering Hope, Oh how welcome thy voice…

Making my heart … In its sorrow rejoice.

Whispering Hope, Oh how welcome thy voice…

Making my heart … In its sorrow rejoice.


If in the dusk of the twilight, Dim be the region afar …

Will not the deepening darkness Brighten the glimmering star?

Then when the night is upon us Why should the heart sink away .

When the dark midnight is over Watch for the breaking of day…


Posted in Uncategorized

A Blast of the Past #13 — Go West, Young Man!


These Blast of the Past post hit a geographic divide — the move from New York State to Missouri. And there are no pictures of that.


What I recall is Betsy’s folks coming to New York for the birth of Carly, and then her father coming two months later to help with the move. We loaded everything in the U-Haul and then her father drove it back alone, while Betsy, Carly and I drove ourselves in her car (mine having given up the ghost about a year before).


Our trip was uneventful, or full of a lot of small events. We stopped often — at least every two hours to feed Carly, change her, etc. The U-Haul, on the other hand, gave Betsy’s dad a little more fun. The U-Haul broke down somewhere on the trip (Ohio?) and U-Haul helped unload and reload it into a new truck (though it wasn’t packed as nice, and a few items ended up damage). But we, and all our stuff, made it to Missouri while Carly was just 2 months, old.


This is where the pictures start.


The arrival was a flurry of unpacking the U-Haul with no place to put the stuff. The ensuing months were a continual process of moving the stuff from one place to another — all within the same house.


When we first arrived we stayed in Betsy’s old room at her folks, and Betsy’s grandparents were living downstairs. Over the next few months her grandparents moved back to Michigan and we reassembled our stuff in their downstairs apartment.

Mother's Day 1997, Tryst Park, Kearney, MO. Mother's Day 1997, Tryst Park, Kearney, MO.

During this time is when Betsy started taking care of her niece Sofia during the day, and the slew of pictures of the two cousins playing together begins.

Honeymoon0370 Honeymoon0371

Posted in Social Issues

I’ll have the salad — with a side of fries

I’ve always wondered why fast food places don’t have combo deals for salads.  Why can’t you order a salad with a soda and side of fries?

One of the things I have observed while eating at fast food places is often the number of times that a man and a woman will place an order, one will order the burger, the other the salad, but many times it is the man who orders the salad. Yet the menus obviously seem designed with the idea that it is the woman who will be wanting the salad.

Which brings me to my other thought. Why are there no salad combo meals? If you order a salad, you also have to order a drink seperate.  And you don’t get a side with a salad. Oh, yes, McDonald’s has started where you can order the burger meal, and substitute a side salad for the french fries. What was a nice option. Once again, it was probably intending women to order the salad, but at least in my couple, I have been the one to order the side salad.

Now, as a guy, I’ve had this desire sometimes to order the salad, but I also wanted fries and a drink. But because that puts the cost way up, I’ve gotten just the salad and the drink. Why is a salad so different than a burger on the menu? Why not create salad combo meals? You can have a salad with a drink and side of fries. Just a thought…

Posted in Music

#9: His Loving-Kindness

 (Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)


Awake, my soul, to joyful lays, And sing thy great Redeemer’s praise;

He justly claims a song from me – His loving-kindness, O how free!

Loving-kindness, loving-kindness, His loving-kindness, O how free!


He saw me ruined by the fall, Yet loved me notwithstanding all;

He saved me from my lost estate – His loving-kindness, O how great!

Loving-kindness, loving-kindness, His loving kindness, O how great!


Tho num’rous hosts of mighty foes’ Tho earth and hell my way oppose,

He safely leads my soul along – His loving-kindness, O how strong!

Loving-kindness, loving-kindness, His loving-kindness, O how strong!


When trouble, like a gloomy cloud’ Has gathered think and thundered loud,

He near my soul has always stood – His loving-kindness, O how good!

Loving-kindness, loving-kindness, His loving-kindness, O how good!


So here is today’s chart.  Note, this is the first time we went to different venues for a meal.


LUNCH Restaurant Entree Price Side Price Total
Jonathan The Chicken Shack Classic Wings Hot $6.59 Fries $4.99 $11.58
Betsy The Chicken Shack Chicken Tenders $7.99 Cookies $3.79 $11.78
Carly The Chicken Shack Classic Wings BBG $6.59 Cookies $3.79 $10.38
Nathan The Chicken Shack Boneless Wings Barbecue $7.99 Cookies $3.79 $11.78
Total $45.52
Grand Total 533.03

Dinner Restaurant Entree Price Side Price Total
Jonathan Pizza Pier Cheese Pizza $5.59 Cookies $3.79 $9.38
Betsy Auntie Anne’s Original Pretzel $5.59 Sweet Glaze $1.29 $6.88
Carly Pizza Pier Cheese Pizza $5.59 Cheese Pizza $5.59 $11.18
Nathan Pizza Pier Pepperoni Pizza $5.59 Bread Sticks $4.99 $10.58
Total $38.02
Grand Total 571.05
Posted in Reviews, Social Issues

Corporate Challenge Kick Off vs. Park Food

According to the Kansas City Corporate Challenge Facebook page, there are 30,827 participants signed up for the challenge this year.  Several thousand of them flowed into and out of the stadium for the KCCC Kickoff Walk and block party.

It was quite a festival atmosphere. Many companies had tents and food available for their people to enjoy. Many of them had loudspeakers with music pounding out everyone around them. If you roamed the grounds you could find several groups that were passing out trinkets and other giveaway items.

I attended, as I have for the past several years, with my wife and kids. We all participated in the walk, and then partook of the food at my company’s tent. Ours was standard picnic fare: hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie tray, potato salad, baked beans, chips, cookies, soda. Other companies had more elaborate fare, others even simpler.

What I find interesting is the way the corporations dedicate resources and get together to sponsor and encourage this sort of fitness and camaraderie through this competitive event. This doesn’t directly profit the bottom line, but the corporations see the benefit to the community they live in, the benefit to their employees, and the loyalty of their employees to the corporation, when they support this.

I’m always there when my company wants to offer free food. But Friday was a modest quandary.  Because Worlds of Fun was open 6-11 p.m., and we have paid for the All Season Dining Plan. But after eating hot dogs and hamburgers at 5 p.m., how interested were we in partaking of the dining plan the same evening?

Well, it took us until 8 p.m. to head over to the park, take in a few rides — the lines were shorter than on Saturday and Sunday — and then use the dining plan for and end-of-evening Pizza snack around 9 p.m. The weather was pleasant though slightly cool. Ideal for a park evening. See below for my dining plan summary.


Dinner Restaurant Entree Price Side Price Total
Jonathan Pizzo Pizza Pepperoni Pizza $5.59 Cookies $3.79 $9.38
Carly Pizzo Pizza Cheese Pizza $5.59 Bread Sticks $4.99 $10.58
Nathan Pizzo Pizza Pepperoni Pizza $5.59 Cookies $3.79 $9.38
Total $29.34

UPDATE: Here are the tables and numbers from the Saturday dining plan usage. Note, that based on the amount of money we played for the plans, and the total number of meals eaten, the current cost-per-meal is now $7.85.


LUNCH Restaurant Entree Price Side Price Total
Jonathan Battle Creek Barbeque Pulled Pork Sandwich $10.59 Fries $4.99 $15.58
Betsy Battle Creek Barbeque Shredded Chicked Sandwich $9.99 Baked Beans $3.79 $13.78
Carly Battle Creek Barbeque Brisket Sandwich $11.29 Fries $4.99 $16.28
Nathan Battle Creek Barbeque Brisket Sandwich $11.29 Mac ‘N Cheese $3.79 $15.08
Total $60.72
Grand Total 433.99

Dinner Restaurant Entree Price Side Price Total
Jonathan Coasters Chicken BLT $7.59 French Fries $4.99 $12.58
Betsy Coasters Cheeseburger $7.59 Onion Rings $5.59 $13.18
Carly Coasters Chicken BLT $7.59 Onion Rings $5.59 $13.18
Nathan Coasters Chicken Tenders $8.99 Onion Rings $5.59 $14.58
Total $53.52
Grand Total 487.51
Posted in Politics, Social Issues

TED Ideas Worth Spreading*

What is the saying? — The best thing since sliced bread? It could be the skeptic in me, but anytime I hear people talking about something and how great it is, and it seems to have a cultish following, it raises my skepticism.

Such is my impression of the movement known as TED. There is a lot of stuff that seems good and worthwhile, and even noble about the things they talk about and the things they do. But when so many people fall on the bandwagon the way I have seen it in certain circles, it begins to make me wonder.

For example, in one of my online master’s classes, I was part of a group that needed to put together a powerpoint presentation on a certain subject. We had much of the content together, but were looking for a good video clip to be an introductory tag. I came up with something related — a clip from an old movie, entertaining, humorous — but the rest of the group didn’t even seem to acknowledge my suggestion.

Instead they started obsessing about this TED talk clip someone had found. After all, as one said, “if it is TED, it has to be good.” But when I watched it I was bored to tears. I had Betsy watch it. She agreed. This great TED presentation was a fairly non-charismatic speaker doing a poor reading of his powerpoint presentation, instead of giving us something stimulating and interesting. And yet the other class members seemed to think it was “the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

I’m not sure how we eventually decided not to use it. But we eventually went for something even shorter and hokily PC.

So what exactly is TED? I picked up the below description from its website:

Our organization

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

Our Mission: Spread ideas

TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On, we’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other, both online and at TED and TEDx events around the world, all year long.

In fact, everything we do — from our TED Talks videos to the projects sparked by the TED Prize, from the global TEDx community to the TED-Ed lesson series — is driven by this goal: How can we best spread great ideas?

TED is owned by a nonprofit, nonpartisan foundation. Our agenda is to make great ideas accessible and spark conversation.

I find it interesting to combine technology, entertainment and design. It isn’t a bad idea. And the goal to spread great ideas is worthy as well. If TED is truly an organization that brings people together to share and discuss ideas, to generate conversation and more great thoughts, then it should be promoted. And in many ways and places it is.

But like I discovered in my master’s class, there is a potential darker side to the group – or at least the way people use and perceive it. Being TED gives you an imprinture in some people’s minds. Being TED means it is the right idea. Some people are ready to believe, not discuss and consider, TED ideas.

TED can become a place for right think, a sort of group think, as people start reinforcing each other’s ideas instead of challenging them. If this type of mentality is allowed to continue it can be a place that forces out other ideas, and becomes a school of the “politically correct”, or perhaps “scientifically correct” thought.

“Scientifically correct” seems innocuous, until you do a study of science, and realize how often science has been wrong, and it took the persistence of one person or small group to show the error.

So, my challenge is, TED has a lot of great stuff, but don’t start treating TED talks as holy writ. Ideally the talks should encourage us to think, and to challenge their premises. They should advance our thinking, not curtail it.

Posted in Family

A Blast of the Past #12 — A Baby is Born

As I look at the pictures from my daughter’s first two months, the short time that she lived in the Savona House before we moved to Missouri, I am amused by what is in the pictures, and what isn’t.

Grandma holding Carly in the Savona house. The top of the swing is visible in the background.
Grandma holding Carly in the Savona house. The top of the swing is visible in the background.

I am amused by all the stuff, and clutter, the pictures show in the house. We were not wealthy, but we had plenty of stuff. We didn’t have insurance, but we had everything we could need to take care of the baby and ourselves. We were poor, but we had great wealth. (And today there are poor people who have even more than we had then.)

Reading while holding Carly. A lot of clutter of stuff,  along with a lot of firewood near the stove.
Reading while holding Carly. A lot of clutter of stuff, along with a lot of firewood near the stove.

It was a cold winter, and the house was a block house not excessively insulated, but the pictures of me show me often in shorts. The pot belly stove and the wood we were able to cut kept the house warm (At least the great room. We kept it and the bathroom warm, and kept the kitchen from freezing.  The bedroom we kept the waterbed warm and didn’t worry about air temperature.)

Betsy being very maternal.
Betsy being very maternal.

Something I cannot see a good picture of is something I can remember vividly as part of an incident in Carly’s life. We had a swing that had a seat and a mesh sided mini-bed. I don’t see any clear pictures of the swing. But I do still see the pictures of the basinet. The idea was Carly would sleep in the basinet. But we couldn’t lay her down in it if she wasn’t already asleep. We could lay her down in the swing’s mini-bed.

I am pretty sure it was too cold to use this outside much...
I am pretty sure it was too cold to use this outside much…

We finally figured out that in the basinet she couldn’t see, but in the swing she could. They say baby’s eyes don’t focus, but she sure did, enough to be upset by the absence of line-of-sight caused by the basinet.

That isn’t many memories for such an important time. Curious what is and isn’t remembered sometimes.


Posted in musi

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

When Nathan heard this one he said “presumably this is where ‘The Ants Went Marching’ came from.”

Which shows the life of some of these tunes. Made popular in one place, they are used for another, until many don’t know the real source.

The accompaniment in the book shows how Celtic the tune is. I remember growing up on this one, and thinking of it as a Civil War song, which it is, but it was composed by a northerner, and I always thought of it as a southern song.

It is meant to be sung as solo line and then group, with the group doing the Hurrah’s and other ending phrases.


When Johnny comes marching home again, Hurrah, Hurrah,

We’ll give him a hearty welcome then, Hurrah, Hurrah;

The men will cheer, the boys will shout, The ladies, they will all turn out,

The ladies, they will all turn out,

Chorus (repeat ad. lib)

And we’ll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.

And we’ll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.


The old church bell will peal with joy, Hurrah, Hurrah,

To welcome home our darling boy, Hurrah, Hurrah;

The village lads and lassies say, With roses they will strew the way,

With roses they will strew the way,



Get ready for the Jubilee, Hurrah, Hurrah,

We’ll give the hero three times three, Hurrah, Hurrah,

The laurel wreath is ready now, To place upon his

To place upon his loyal brow,



Let lose and friendship on that day, Hurrah, Hurrah,

Their choicest treasures then display, Hurrah, Hurrah,

And let each one perform some part, To

To fill with joy the warriors heart


Posted in Reviews

Going to the Zoo

The Kansas City Zoo got residents of a couple local counties to agree to a zoological improvement zone tax. In other words, we’d pay taxes to support the zoo — a non-profit corporation.  In exchange for our tax dollars, residents of those counties would be allowed to visit the zoo for free on select days. For this year that includes Mondays in April. So last Monday, April 13, Betsy and I went to the zoo. The kids were in school, so we got to take a day on our own at the zoo.

He kept pacing back and forth like he was expecting something.
He kept pacing back and forth like he was expecting something.

The zoo is undergoing some significant transformations with the tax dollars.  I was working when Betsy and the kids visited the school last year on the free admission day, so it has been at least two years since I visited. The sea lion exhibit was pretty similar to what it had been, but the penguin exhibit and the polar bear exhibits seemed much improved.

They track how much each penguin eats to know how healthy they are.
They track how much each penguin eats to know how healthy they are.

The Tiger Trail was somewhat of a disappointment — because they had half of it blocked off for the improvements they are doing. Of course, the trail was a series of cage habitats, that they are replacing with larger habitats to give more natural environments for us to observe the great cats in.

The Sea Lions had an "olympics."
The Sea Lions had an “olympics.”

The Australia section had plenty of kangaroos still to see. But the outback station, which used to be about sheep and other life in the Australian outback, has been taken over by a green initiative display which is more about ecology and zoology, and more about politics that animals.

Fanciful drinking fountain.
Fanciful drinking fountain.

They have a beaks and feet trail where they have cages for many of the birds. It used to be a much bigger section, but here again they eliminated much of it for larger anticipated habitats that aren’t up yet. I was disappointed how it actually limited the flamingo habitat.

The kangaroos were enjoying the sun.
The kangaroos were enjoying the sun.

Speaking of birds, We found a Peacock in at least three different places in the zoo. In none of them was there a pea hen, which is why I assume none of the peacocks chose to flaunt their tail feathers for us.

The peacock would not fan his feathers.
The peacock would not fan his feathers.

Africa was still the biggest, and most distant, of the exhibits. I hadn’t ridden the sky tram before. I consider it a good the park, and enjoyed the view from the sky immensely.

Chimps assemble for snack time.
Chimps assemble for snack time.

We enjoyed the Chimpanzee exhibit — closest to the far end of the Sky Tram. We saw a couple of chimps moving around, then suddenly they all started assembling. Not long after pieces of apple started raining down from above — which explained why they suddenly started gathering.

Bald eagle unexpectedly on display (and out of place) in Africa.
Bald eagle unexpectedly on display (and out of place) in Africa.

Speaking of the great cats, in the various zones we saw tigers, leopards, cheetahs, etc. Until I realized I really didn’t know the difference between one or another of these spotted ones. I could tell the lions and tigers, but the rest, I do not know which is which.

No idea which cat this is.
No idea which cat this is.