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11:42 AM, Dec 16, 2005 toot this
Stop emailing Me
Yeah, yeah.

The site has been sitting in a static funk since late November, I know.

I could say it was a busy couple of weeks, and that my schedule just made it impossible for me to update the page, but that would be a lie. It may or may not have been busy, but there's always time to throw up a simple keepalive post to let you know what kind of people I don't like, or about the wonders of cheese, beef, and chocolate.

No, the simple, one word reason for the lack of recent updates is laziness. Working from home kinda sorta takes the routine out of life, for me, especially since I got a new roommate who doesn't talk much. At least not to me. I can't blame him, though, as he has had a very rough go of things, in the last few weeks. He, however, just came into a new development that will improve things dramatically, for him. It was good to see him smile on Wednesday, when I had some friends over for Trivial Pursuit. It had been a while.

As for me, tax season came early, this year, and I'll be enjoying a bit of poverty for a week or two, starting just after Christmas, it would seem. It's alright, though, because this will clear a great weight from my mind, and off my conscience. I would also like to officially recognize my online ledger program, for allowing me to easily adjust my finances, for the upcoming season of famine, so as to minimize the impact as much as possible.

I am still taking long walks. Last weekend, I went out to a place near 43rd and Main, attached to a bar called "The Levee," and afterward, when I saw that nobody there was driving back downtown, I walked the four and a half miles myself, at two in the morning. Some fratties tried slopping me up with a half-consumed milkshake, flung from the sunroof of their daddy's Jeep, when I was passing the corner of Main and Grand. Luckily, they missed by inches, cursing the moment in their Abercrombie and Fitch clothes. It took me just over 45 minutes to make the trip, for an average of six miles per hour. Not a bad pace, but I was listening to some lively music on my mp3 player, and that served to sharpen my step. I know. I should have called a cab, and paid the eight whole dollars it'd've cost to get downtown, but how can I get any exercise doing that?

Christmas is approaching, and downtown is alive with flashing lights and the footsteps of bundled-up residents. It's an exciting time to be downtown, and an especially exciting time to walk around it. All my shopping is complete, and only a week remains before I head back to Peoria for one of my favorite events of the year. I can miss Christmas day, but missing the family caroling party is out of the question. I'll be delivering my wedding gift to my brother and sister-in-law: a batch of strong homebrewed winter beer. I'll be seeing some relatives, including my newly-engaged cousin, Vince.

Also, here are the latest pictures.

10:09 PM, Dec 18, 2005 toot this
Not Really a Pub Crawl
I went out on Friday. Heidi, in celebration of another semester in the bank, hosted a pub crawl, down in Westport, and the Plaza. The plan was to meet at her house, near 48th and Holly, at 8PM. Not one to attract Kansas City's finest, I made a beeline for the nearest MAX stop, and watched it roll past me, about a block and a half before I got there. It was cold outside, and unlike the extreme cold of last week, this cold was accompanied by downtown's normally fierce wind. You will understand then, that I used a bad word at this point. When I got to the MAX stop, the sign said the next bus would be along in 35 minutes. Not enthusiastic about waiting around in the biting cold, I walked over to the 10th & Main transit plaza, and saw that the 57, which would actually take me closer to my target, would depart in ten minutes.

Thirty minutes later, I stepped off the bus in the middle of the Plaza, at 47th and Wornall. The number of people on the Plaza at any given time always surprises me, especially so, on a night of such inhospitable weather. Nevertheless, people were out in droves, strolling KC's biggest attraction on a Friday night, as I walked toward to ATM to get some cash, and up the hill to get to Heidi's house.

When I arrived at her doorstep, I was still huffing and puffing from the hill, and moreso, because my sister called me for the last half of the hill, so my heavy breathing was stifled with conversation. I need to exercise more.

I was dismayed when I reached the door, and it appeared that nobody was home. For a brief period, I cursed Heidi's name, imagining the scenario of her leaving without a thought of people that arrived without cars. The period was brief, however, because she came to the door after a relatively short time, and I happily walked inside, out of the cold.

Heidi's roommate, Carrie, got home just after I walked in, ate, got dressed, and we left for stop one on the evening's crawl: Kelly's in Westport. After we left Kelly's, for Harpo's, we all remarked seperately that we hate Kelly's. From Harpo's however, we went to what is possibly my least favorite bar in Kansas City: The Granfalloon. A marvel in backward design, the "falloon" is laid out so poorly, it feels jammed with only half capacity, which is still a lot of people. The bathrooms are back behind a bottleneck point between the stairs and the wall, the narrowest point of which perhaps two people can comfortably stand abreast. This trouble spot is also right next to the coathooks, and the front door.

Besides this, the Falloon is notorious for attracting the suburbiest of the suburbanites, most of whom don't see the virtue in getting away from the bar once they have their drink, so others can place an order. But we had to go, because we were meeting people there.

But here's the thing: I had a great time. Josh had joined us by this time, and he always spices up an evening well, especially when surrounded by attractive women, and getting dirty looks from other guys in the bar. Like a moron, I both recommended and partook in a group shot of Jameson, and as a result, spent the next couple of minutes fighting the urge to vomit. It was then that we all decided it about about time to head home.

You've got to hand it to Heidi. She can sure throw a good time together.

11:26 PM, Dec 21, 2005 toot this
Do women learn to be impossible somewhere, or are they just born with it?

Here. (8.03 MB)

8:16 PM, Dec 22, 2005 toot this
Around Downtown
A very demanding workday, yesterday was spent, largely, walking around downtown with Geoff. He had to get a Missouri driver's license, seeing as how his terrible, but valid Florida license is in about four different pieces, from standard wear, derived mostly, I contend, from his hockeypuck-sized wallet. It began to warm up yesterday, melting off about the last of the snow we had on the ground here. The sun was out, and the sky was a brilliant blue, lending a spring to our steps, as we made our way to the always cheery Missouri Department of Revenue building. I had never been to Ilus Davis Park before that, and so enjoyed receiving a makeshift tour of it from Geoff. I snapped a couple shots of the surrounding area. Also, the Chili Shack on Oak, between 11th and 12th, makes a mean bowl of chili, and chicken spiedini sandwich.

This building, at 11th and Grand, is undergoing a major rehabilitation. Among the improvements are new windows, and scrubbing the building clean of decades of soot and smog. Here, old meets new.


From Ilus Davis Park:

002batiments.jpg 003batiments.jpg 004oakst.jpg

We walked over to a multilevel parking deck, climbed to the roof, and got some shots as we caught our breath. The foundation lines of the Arena are visible now.


The new H&R Block building is coming along very nicely.


We wanted to get close to the Empire Theater, which we both predict will, when the construction is complete, will be a major focal point of the area, with its distinctive facade and classic beauty. Unfortunately, it seems to be completely within the construction zone now. As we skulked through some alleys trying to find an unguarded approach, I got this neat shot of One, Kansas City Place.


We started to head home, but first stopped by what it probably one of the most interesting buildings in downtown: the Aladdin Hotel, which until about two years ago, was operated as the Holiday Inn City Center Square, since which it has been lain vacant, perched on the Wyandotte side of Barney Allis Plaza. With the recent explosion of downtown development, a group of investors has repurchased it, with intentions to refurbish and reopen it.


The building, constructed in 1927, has some very strange adornements on it, especially near the top of its 17-story height.


Yes, those are sheep heads, as is evidenced here by my camera's impressive zoom. They go all the way around the top of the building.


Just below the sheep are some strange sculptures of what look like men with wings. Angels, I suppose.

011dudes.jpg dude.jpg

It's fun to explore.

1:10 PM, Dec 25, 2005 toot this
Merry Christmas. I've been home since Friday afternoon, and have enjoyed a continuous string of good cheer, since I've been here. The caroling party took place on one of the warmest nights we've ever observed, for the occasion. This meant that nobody was chomping at the bit to get back inside when we got back to our house, as they normally are. It wasn't even freezing outside.

As is the repeated case, I only had time to talk to a few people at the party, and the process of re-entering the house was just a bit less severe than pandemonium, because of the scores of muddy shoes that were discarded at the door. However, the pictures that were taken that evening will attest to the fact that it was an altogether great gathering. Stay tuned for them.

I saved two beers from each batch that I brewed in the last year, and brought them all to Peoria for the party. They were a hit. I am convinced now, that just about any homebrewed beer will keep for well over a year, and will indeed improve dramatically in flavor, over such a period. I will do the same thing, next year.

Christmas Eve was essentially a comfortable day of sitting around and relaxing. We decided, this year, to put off the customary gift exchange until Christmas morning, which I found to be a great idea. It gave us more time to spend out of the house, which was also a very nice change of pace from previous years.

This change allowed us to make it to 5 PM mass in time to get front-pew seats at St. Thomas, so we were all irretrievably distracted by all the children sitting in front of the altar, in an effort to make more room to accomodate the rear ends of more grown parishioners. After mass, I ran into Mrs. Harn, and Mrs. Goett, and enjoyed catching up with them, before we all loaded up into the cars and motored up to the Lake of the Woods, for another new Christmas event. New for us, anyway. We had never been to the Paris' Christmas party before, but they had always made it to our annual caroling party.

I suppose the guilt, or just perhaps the newly available evening spirited us to their house, where we ate of their fantastic spread of food and drink, and caught up. I hadn't talked to Dana since we got a drink when I was in New York last year, so it was very nice to sit down with her, and see what she's been up to, and to tell her all about all of our mutual friends in Kansas City. I also thought it was extremely classy of her to come and make time to talk with me, even though she was surrounded by people with whom she hadn't spoken in months, or maybe years.

All this down time has also given me a good chance to think, and to ask for advice about a personal conundrum that is currently working its evil magic on me. On Thursday, back in KC, I was woefully frustrated and confused about this situation, and so, as if by instinct, I began writing. Being a geek, I composed the whole piece in vim, a text editor made primarily for writing programming code, and then, when I was satisfied with it, copied and pasted it into a proper word processor, about five pages, single spaced. I received valuable feedback from Julia and Kathleen, with an edgewise word from Brian, here and there, and the result is that I'm no longer confused, and the only frustration I feel is from inevitable delay.

Anyway, it's Christmas afternoon now, and the rest of the family is watching "Scrooge," in the other room. Actually, they're watching bits of the movie, between their own drowsy spells, as the furnuture is exceedingly comfortable, and the TV is too quiet to make any sense of the dialogue or songs. That's one reason I came in here to write you an update: I was falling asleep myself, despite the fact that I got about nine hours last night.

We'll be having dinner here, just the seven of us, before we got to Grandpa and Mickey's for "dessert." The real reason we go is because the majority of the gift exchange of the extended family takes place there. Mickey told me on Friday night that Grandpa has done something, "amazing and unbelievable," so I'm interested to see what it could be.

Stay tuned.

Update - 12/26/2005

Not enough pictures for an album, so here they are:

001juliarachelpics.jpg 002kathleenbrian.jpg 003glass.jpg 004brian.jpg 005kathleen.jpg 006caroling.jpg 007caroling.jpg 008caroling.jpg 009caroling.jpg 010caroling.jpg 011caroling.jpg 012meredithjohn.jpg 013heidrichs.jpg 014brigs.jpg 015rachel.jpg 016kidsatmass.jpg 017frwatson.jpg 018danajohn.jpg 019johnparises.jpg

Lots of fun.

9:31 PM, Dec 29, 2005 toot this
Conundra and Breakbeats
I love Kansas City's weather. People here complain about winter to no end, and I just don't get it. Maybe you have to have seen a real winter to appreciate just how mild it really is in KC. When I left Peoria, after Christmas, it was cold, overcast, and slushy. It was great weather for getting a divorce. But as I made the just-under-six-hour trip to KC, the sky cleared, and it warmed up very nicely. By the time I was in Kearney to fill my tank, it was nice enough outside to pump gas without a coat or even long sleeves.

Speaking of gas, I have always gotten better mileage with gas purchased in Missouri, especially at Quicktrip. I don't mean for this to be a commercial for them, but I got fifty miles more on my tank, from what I filled with in North KC on my way to Peoria. So, not only does gas in Illinois cost more, but it doesn't work as well. On my next car trip to Illinois, I will make sure to top off in Hannibal, before plunging into the waste state.

I met Heidi for lunch in Westport, yesterday, and she was able to help even more, in my aforementioned personal conundrum. After getting that potentially awkward moment out of the way, we lapsed into pleasant conversation, and parted affectionately punching each other's elbows, rather unconsciously. We'll be going to Harry's Country Club for New Year's Eve, with a group. It'll be my first New Year's Eve in Kansas City, and the first one in my life for which I will be well dressed. It's going to be a blast.

My transfer, to get back downtown, expired about six minutes after we parted ways, so I got out a fresh dollar, and started walking, finally settling on the MAX stop at 39th and Main. A 57 bus came by about three minutes later, so I hopped on, to find that it goes mostly down Walnut and Grand streets, downtown, meaning I had to walk all the way across 11th street to get home. It was alright, though. I was listening to the Beta Band's new album the whole time, which was excellent, and for some reason, I just never get tired of the views, walking through downtown.

I was a little bummed when I got home, having basically nothing to do. My accumulated holiday days had to be used before the end of the year, and I had three to use, so I officially have Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off, this week. So, bored, I played some games. Around six PM or so, I got the idea that I'd like to go and do something that night, so I called Erp and Terra, and suggested we meet at the Cup and Saucer at 7:45. I walked over, grabbed a Pale Ale, and soon Erp walked in, followed soon by Terra and her friend Jill, followed soon by Terra's friend Kelly. Liz joined us a bit later, as did Tim, and Kelly's boyfriend Brooks. What started out as a couple of friends getting together for a nice drink, became a fun group, listening to a DJ spinning breakbeats.

I have a feeling that last night was the first night of a very long weekend. Bring it on.

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