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Christmas Pictures from Ought Six

I have completed the ruinous process of renaming, resizing, rotating, uploading, describing, and linking the pictures from this past joyous holiday. Here are a couple of selections. Remember, due to astonishing advances in bahua dot com technology, you can now comment directly on pictures.

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2:01 PM, Jan 1, 2007

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A New Year

I dressed up and went to Kelly's for dinner and drinks last night. I stayed there and talked with those folks until about 8:30pm, when I hopped in the car and went down to Matt's place in the River Market and proceeded to attend one of the most boring New Year's Eve parties I have ever seen. As these things tend to do, it improved considerably after some alcohol had been consumed.

In anticipation of the big moment, Matt showed us to a ladder leading to a hatch in the roof. I was the second one up, and noticed when I had settled to my feet that 2006 would end in about seven seconds. So I started counting off into the bitter wind and screamed like a madman when the clock struck midnight. What was more amazing than the predictable passage of time was the horizon. At midnight it was lit up in all directions with fireworks. From the roof of the six-story building, we had an excellent artillery-style view of all the surrounding area, except past the skyline to our south. The sudden cold of that day put a slight damper on it, but the fireworks in unison along the horizon were really cool to watch.

We went back downstairs, ate some cheese, and crashed a real party on the first floor. Jeff and I called it a night by about 3am. It was a fun New year.

By the way, I have ambitiously resolved to lose fifty pounds this year.

2:20 PM, Jan 1, 2007

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Two Hearted Ale

Yeah, yeah, I know it was our first beer, but I don't care. The opportunity arose to get it again, and with nothing on the brain, draught-wise, we decided on the tried and true. This time, however, we'll drink it all ourselves. Screw anybody else.

6:03 PM, Jan 1, 2007
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Resolutions

It's that time of year again. Time to get depressed again about no truly exciting holidays for quite a while. But since holidays don't really do anything for me in and of themselves, my situation isn't really any different than it was before Christmas, except that I don't need to endure annoying repeated various renditions of the sleigh ride song.

But here's the thing: I am pumped. For many reasons. In under two weeks, my entire family will visit me here in KC. Three weeks after that, I'll get on a plane for Boston. I will be visiting Beantown for the 4th Annual Extreme Beer Festival, put on at the Cyclorama by beeradvocate.com.

To make matters better, I'm actually on top of my expenses for once. When April 15th comes this year, I'll actually be able to pay my taxes on time, while getting some saving done. On the materialist front, I have a new camera, a new video card, memory, and motherboard.

2006 proved to be an excellent year for forging and reinforcing friendships here in KC. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Kickball was the best thing I've ever done for my social life. Next week, I'm meeting the kickball people for a rousing game of whirlyball. I even owe the great new job I have to friendships I've made through kickball. Speaking of that job, I've had it now for just over three months, which means I finally have some vacation and sick days. In addition, with each passing day I am a little less clueless with the work there is to do here.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that things are going really well for me right now. However, as is my nature, I still like to improve some things. They are, like so:

  • As I've stated before, I am committing myself to losing fifty pounds by the year's end.

  • I also resolve to buy a home before the year ends.

  • A unique opportunity has presented itself this year. I can't expand much on it, and if I've confided in you about it, please keep the details you've heard to yourself. But I plan on at least taking steps this year, to start my own business.

These are my big three goals for 2007. More details will follow.

2:36 PM, Jan 2, 2007

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The Correct Time

I know it makes basically no difference to you, but I have fixed my website to display times in Central Time, instead of Eastern Time. And I'm excited about it. Let me enjoy this. Stop looking at me!

10:19 AM, Jan 3, 2007

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My Head Asplode

Ugh. One of the guys at work came to work sick, because it's apparently impossible for anything to happen without him being here, and as a result, I am now sick. Others will be too. I had a lot of trouble sleeping last night, and I was noticably shivering under the covers. Like an idiot, I didn't call in today, as I had it in my mind to leave here after our weekly staff meeting at 9:30am.

The staff meeting was cancelled, but the guy who made me sick told me he wanted me to stay until noon, presumably to infect some more people. I have been sitting still doing a horrible job of getting anything done, and counting the minutes until lunchtime, when I plan on getting the hell out of here.

My nose is raw from blowing it every three minutes, and is leaking "I am sick" brand liquid snot to ensure that I cannot exist without my roll of toilet paper nearby. My head has a light but steady ache, and my sinuses are pressurized. I need to go home.

11:11 AM, Jan 4, 2007

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The Common Cold

Meh. What a crappy weekend. I woke up feeling like garbage on Thursday morning, but came into work for a couple hours anyway. The cold I had acquired reached its high point in poopiness on Friday, for which I definitely called in to work. My sinuses were swollen up so badly that the only way to get any air through my nose was to push until I got dizzy. Needless to say, I was a mouth-breather for most of the weekend.

Trying to get to sleep without the use of one's nose is surprisingly difficult. I would constantly be drifting off to sleep, and my asphyxia warning would go off as my automatic breathing would close off my throat and try to draw breath from my nose. It was a bad scene.

On top of this was the fact that my nose was more or less constantly leaking "I am sick" brand clear liquid mucus, requiring manual attention. I was blowing my nose a lot. Blowing your nose with hair all over your upper lip is not pleasant. It's messy, and it takes a long time per blow. By Saturday morning, I'd had enough. I took the beard trimmer I received for Christmas a couple years ago and removed the months-old hair all over my face.

For the first time ever, the Nyquil/Dayquil tag team had little to no effect on my symptoms. This cold was a doozy. I guess that makes sense since I haven't been really sick from a cold in well over a year. In the end, the only medicine that I took that made any difference was, despite the foolish opinions of the foolish masses, aspirin. Cheap, off-brand aspirin purchased at a crappy drug store in San Francisco this summer.

I'm back at work today, and found that my salary went up 3.5 percent while I was gone.

10:29 AM, Jan 8, 2007

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Spitting and Waiting

I walked down to Grinders with Jeff last night. We met Chris, Eric, and Damon there before settling down to a Unibroue-centered beer tasting session. I enjoyed the 2004 Ale a lot. After the deal with the tasting was over, Jeff and I still wanted another beer, and so found ourselves irrevocably drawn to JP Wine Bar, which also has a very respectable beer selection. By the time we finished our beers there, it was well after midnight, so we started walking home. When we reached the Main St overpass for the south loop, Jeff was struck by the call of nature.

While he was taking care of business over in the foliage, I busied myself dropping carefully timed loogies down on the rushing eastbound traffic. I cried out with glee when I windshielded a semi truck, and Jeff joined me in loosing whatever saliva we had in our mouths down on the unsuspecting traffic. Once our mouths were sufficiently dry, we started walking for home. Out of the shadows leapt a man in a black many-pocketed uniform and a goldish silverish badge who, convinced he had the drop on us, started into play this little one-act.

DUDE: Want to tell me what you two were doing spitting off the bridge?

US: <silence>

JEFF: ...and who are you?

DUDE: I'm the security for this site.

ME: Okay, we're gonna go.

We started walking away, as the guy frustratedly started trying to operate his communication device to call in backup. The dude was obviously a rent-a-cop, and probably of the same adventure-seeking sort that tried to scare me last year, and failed just as miserably. Jeff started to smarten his pace while we were still within visual range of the rented security person, presumably because of the biting cold wind. I calmly but urgently told him to slow down and walk completely at ease. "That way he'll know that we have absolutely no respect for him."

Once out of sight, we picked up the pace because of the cold, and relayed the incident back and forth to each other, each coming up with things we should have said, and whatnot. But all in all, we were pretty happy with how it turned out. i told some folks at work about it today, and was in return called a "hoodlum." I don't care. We're awesome.

Today, Kansas City iced over, and the temperature plummeted from yesterday's 58° to today's 14°. I'm expecting the arrivals of my father, step-mother, brother, sister-in-law, and both sisters via various modes of transportation, but still have yet to see whether KC's ice attack will adversely affect their arrivals later tonight. My guess would be yes.

3:22 PM, Jan 12, 2007

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Customer Service

Today, I did two things I haven't done in a long time. I rode the bus to work, and I updated my webpage.

First off, the visit from the family over the weekend of the 13th was fun, but Rachel got completely owned by Southwest Airlines, who threw their hands in the air and stopped taking care of anyone when the slightest whiff of weather trouble surfaced. Kansas City received a nasty share of a big ice storm that marched across the central plains from Oklahoma to Nebraska, east to central Illinois.

Rachel lives in Oregon, so her two-leg flight itinerary took her to Oakland before making the big leap across the hairy back of America: the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains. All was presumably well in Kansas City when her flight took off relatively on time from Oakland, but while she was in the air, Southwest chose to wave away every inbound flight they had for Kansas City. That's their business of course, but it was a poor call, in my opinion.

Julia's flight from Boston on another airline landed with an expected one-hour delay, and she was at my apartment just after 11pm. Brian and Kathleen flew Southwest from Chicago, but since the flight is only an hour long, they had plenty of notice that their flight was canceled, and that they were rescheduled to depart early the next morning- a flight on which they arrived on time, to my intense relief.

Dad and Amy took the train, and only experienced typical train-related delays, amounting to about an hour and a half. That placed them at Union Station(a much easier trip at ten blocks than the airport at 15 miles on icy roads) at about the same time as Julia got lost in KCK in her rental. But lost in KCK is much better than rerouted to Louisville, as Rachel was, with no promise of ever getting to Kansas City with the ticket for which she paid.

At every turn, Southwest simply blamed the weather for the grievous problems experienced by all their Midwestern paying customers. I would have even been on their side if they hadn't made the incomprehensible customer service error in judgement that they made: not allowing Rachel to get her bag when she got off the plane in Louisville. This absolutely baffles me. She was placed in a massive standby queue for one of the two daily flights from Louisville to Kansas City, with a very slim chance of being able to board.

With that kind of a situation in mind, it would make perfect sense to me if the airline would be willing to let its customers make their own way to their final destination without their half-hearted help. Rachel, seeing a standby ticket for a sold-out flight, among 120 other standby passengers from another sold-out flight, availed herself of the non-flight option, and still was not allowed to have her bag. Baffling!

Nevertheless, she was determined to make it to Kansas City, and so took up with a businessman from Harrisonville named Roger, who generously gave her a ride in his rental car to Cincinnati, where they moth caught a train to Chicago, an on to Kansas City to arrive late the following night. Dad and I drove down to Union Station to pick Rachel up that night, and were solicited by Roger for a ride to KCI where his truck was parked. In light of his kindness to my sister, I could hardly refuse. We gassed up and made one of my many ice-streaked trips to the god-damned airport.

While we were there, we decided to inquire as to the status of Rachel's bag, and were met with a talk-to-the-hand style clerk whose sole job, it seemed, was to disappoint customers. I was upset by this but Dad had reached the end of his rope and verbally ripped into her. I angrily pulled Dad away- I just wanted to get home and spend time with my family that was now fully assembled in Kansas City -and we made the soggy icy trip back toward the city.

The next morning, the rest of the family went to Mass across the street, though I just wasn't feeling it, and then enjoyed a nice John-cooked brunch at home. We went to the new National World War I museum at the Liberty Memorial and had a grand time. It is an excellent museum, and didn't fail and extracting tears from me. We rounded off our Sunday with a couple drinks at O'Dowd's and an outrageously expensive dinner at Plaza III across the street. The food was sensational, but I don't plan on eating there again, unless it's guaranteed to make a woman like me.

Dad and Amy caught the train back to Illinois at 9am. The rest of us got some lunch at a place that the memory of which eludes me, and made a beeline for the Roasterie Cafe in Brookside. The place was jammed with people, and not a single seat was available, much less a table for five. We took our coffees to go, and walked over to Cellar and Loft to browse their very impressive wine cellar. We finished the weekend off with some drinks at Grinders and everyone left for KCI to catch their planes home on time.

It was a really nice weekend, but like I said, Rachel got owned. She never did get her bag before leaving. She finally got through to someone at the airline on Sunday. They informed her that her bag was at KCI, and she was free come and get it, but they would not deliver it. The weekend was something of a wash for Rachel, in that respect. I think she still had a nice time though.

12:01 PM, Jan 25, 2007

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Bus OMG

I went to a Mayoral candidate forum on Tuesday night with Jeff, Eric, and Erp. Becca never showed, because she sucks, so I had to sit next to some weird dude with crazy-eyes, long fingernails, and lots of loud rustling paper bags. After the forum, I met Erp and Jeff down at Hooper's in Brookside, where a drink turned to four beers apiece and dinner. I left my car in Brookside and Erp gave us all a lift back home. When we got home, we decided, even though it was already 12:30am, to stay out. We went over to the Quaff, drained two pitchers of Pale Ale between us, and argued politics until well after we left at 2:30am.

I had to get up early to catch the bus to Brookside and get my car. It's on my way to work on the bus anyway, so it wasn't that big a deal for me. But getting up after only three hours of sleep was no easy task. I wrenched my eyes open and grumbled in disgust at my poor decision-making of the previous night. Yesterday at work wasn't anything major, and I stayed a little later than usual for reasons related to guilt.

A group of us were going to meet at Michael's place that night, but due to a lack of good planning, all canceled. It was just as well, because I was dead on my feet. I was in bed by 9:15pm and asleep before I finished the first sentence of my book.

So, I woke up early after a ten and a half hour sleep. It was the kind of sleep that is so long that you look up at the clock hours before the alarm goes off and relish the thought of going back to sleep despite being almost fully rested. But after a sleep of that length, it's as if the part of my brain that informs me of when I've had enough sleep kind of gives up after the times I went back to sleep. Therefore, even after ten and a half hours, I still wanted to go back to bed. Reason told me that it was ridiculous to sleep any more and to get in the shower and stop being such a damned baby! But energy was slow in coming.

Having woken up well before 7am, I took the bus this morning. The ride from downtown to Brookside was uneventful, but exceptionally scenic in the foggy cold. I hopped off at 63rd at the stroke of 8am. I had thirteen minutes until the eastbound 63rd Street bus would arrive, so I ambled over to the Brookside Market for some breakfast-type baked goods and an orange soda. As I was walking back, I saw the bus lurching into motion to move away from the stop, four minutes early. I was upset. Having missed the bus, I now had 35 minutes until the next one came.

I sat down in the covered stop and read about fifteen pages of my book while I waited. The bus arrived late, of course. To pour salt on the wound, the driver came to a complete stop when the bus reached Oak, blocking the lane. The driver then stood and, in no particular hurry, strolled into a 7/11 convenient store to get herself a bottle of water and a paper. My jaw was on the floor. I got off the bus at Winchester a couple minutes later, still amazed at the utter lack of work ethic I'd just seen. Within seconds, one of my coworkers picked me up and drove me the rest of the way. So the morning wasn't completely without luck.

12:30 PM, Jan 25, 2007

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New Project

The founder of one of the busiest locally-themed websites in town has approached me about moving the very active forum off his host and into a place under my control. For the last couple of weeks, we've been working to get the forum relocated, and finally succeeded. A couple months ago, for no particular reason, I registered a great five-digit domain name, and have decided that the forum should be the spearhead of a new KC-centric website.

This new development is the vanguard of KCRag, a local site designed to someday be the authority on local non-development topics. The incredibly active forum is liable to cost me my entire bandwidth cap. We'll see. Anyway we have big plans for the site, which will be articulated in the coming weeks.

Give it a look if you wish.

12:43 PM, Jan 25, 2007

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Closer to Reason?

For years I have been an irrationally fervent proponent of abandoning our aged, flawed, punitive tax systems that try(and fail) to exploit people who accomplish responsible things like owning property, buying things, and having a job. These systems are especially damaging to the poor, for whom "paying their fair share," can mean the difference between supporting their families or living in poverty. I personally this that this unfairness outweighs any responsibility that they supposedly should have for supporting our society's infrastructure, especially in light of the fact that the very systems that taxes pay into are often used to attempt to keep these people from falling off the brink. It winds up costing everybody else money anyway.

A St. Louis-based thinktank has, through the contribution of the mind of a professor of economics at the University of Missouri in Columbia named Joseph Haslag, offered an alternative to one of Kansas City's many ridiculous ineffectual taxes. Anyone who lives or works in Kansas City pays one percent of their annual income to the city.

They try to distinguish it from income tax by name only, by calling it the "Earnings Tax," but it's an income tax. Everyone pays it, regardless of their income, and many locals rejoice when they find a job outside the city, meaning they're no longer saddled with it. Haslag has proposed phasing the earnings tax out over a period of ten years, through the gradual implementation of an land tax.

I first spotted the news on the kcrag forum, where a user pointed to an article in the Kansas City Business Journal, breaking the story of the 28-page report written by Haslag. The next day, the Star ran a similar, if disapproving story. This is what burned me. I have no intention of going into the ones and zeros of land taxation here, but I would like to clear something up that was suggested in the Star's spin.

One of the critical features of a land tax is that all land is valued differently, and so for different parcels of land, people would pay varying amounts in land tax. Haslag states this and advocates it in his proposal. But the reporter at the Star either didn't bother to read enough of the report to understand, or felt the need to portray Haslag as some kind of radical wackjob, and deliberately got the facts wrong, asserting that all land in Kansas City would have the exact same tax liability, and it would vary only according to the amount of land their property occupies.

This is simply not true. But as they say, no press is bad press, when nobody is aware of what you're pushing. For the record, BlogKC picked it up too, and appears to disapprove as well, but is at least diplomatic and intelligent about it.

I think land tax is going to save the world, if the world is ever saved. So I'm happy that any mainstream media is talking about it.

5:28 PM, Jan 29, 2007

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