Crawling Out of the Woodwork

White Army Men from the Rough Transcription Show

White Army Men from the Rough Transcription Show

Where do these weirdos come from? The week began with twin bombings at the Boston Marathon. The first question on everyone’s mind was, “Is this the work of al Qaeda?” Various media malfunctions suggested all sorts of phantom threats and answers. They were too numerous to list here. My always right friend, the Perma-Bear even seriously suggested some collusion between Obama and the House of Saud. I shall not detail any of the other ridiculous conspiracy theories that I heard this week, from my other dear, dear conservative friends. Then the guy from Mississippi had to weigh in, the ricin guy. This Elvis impersonator who fears that the government wants to steal his organs allegedly sent out poison love letters, only to be upstaged by the Boston bombers. Finally, among swirling accusations of ‘dark skinned perps’, the FBI released last night photos of two obviously too white suspects. I almost forgot to mention that the twin Texas prosecutor murders were not the work of Mexican drug lords, nor the Aryan Nation, no, it was a couple of ordinary white people, like me and you. As Pogo famously once said, “We have met the enemy and they are us.”

I took this photograph several years ago, when Dan was an art student here in Saint Louis at Webster. The army men were part of the Rough Transcription Show and were created by one of Dan’s classmates. I don’t know who the artist was, somehow though, we ended up with a bunch of these diminutive soldiers. The show took place in an old factory building in midtown. The building’s rough wood flooring nicely contrasts with the smooth alabaster figures.

UPDATE: I wrote this post last night. Since then events have overtaken what I wrote here. I apologize for my inaccuracy. I feel so like the New York Post.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Neighborhood Mockingbird

Neighborhood Mockingbird

And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. – Matthew 26:39.

Being a juror this week has been a horrible and awful experience. I seriously considered and reconsidered being sick. But this has been an experience that I would wish on no one, not even the alternates. This ordeal is over and I am now permitted to speak about it. I have a lot to say and the complete story will eventually dribble out. For now, I look forward to going back to work today. Back to my mundane routine and then a weekend’s respite.

Atticus Finch: I remember when my daddy gave me that gun. He told me that I should never point it at anything in the house; and that he’d rather I’d shoot at tin cans in the backyard. But he said that sooner or later he supposed the temptation to go after birds would be too much, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted – if I could hit ’em; but to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird.
Jem: Why?
Atticus Finch: Well, I reckon because mockingbirds don’t do anything but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat people’s gardens, don’t nest in the corncrib, they don’t do one thing but just sing their hearts out.

There is one exception to the kill a mockingbird prohibition. That would be the mockingbird that use to poop all over my front porch. There was never any gunplay involved with his disappearance. I’ve always suspected the alpha predator, the cat that lived across the street, but I have no proof.

Oak Knoll Park Fountain

Oak Knoll Park Fountain

Oak Knoll Park is the closest park to our home. When the boys were young it was the go to place for open green space and playing outside. It even has a nice little playground. It is a Clayton city park, so we’ve always had to cross Clayton Road to get to it. This has led to a few heart stopping moments over the years.

There are two large houses in the park. These were once the private residence of two brothers. The large tyrannosaurus and triceratops figures that now reside outside the McDonnell Planetarium lived here, back in our own little Jurassic age. One of the two buildings was open to the public, it served as the Saint Louis Natural History Museum. When the Science Center expanded to the south side of Highway 40, the dinosaurs left, along with the Natural History Museum.

At the bottom of the knoll that contributes to this park’s name it a small pond. Anne always enjoys searching for turtles in the warmer months. Once there was a rather large stainless steel sculpture that was designed to rotate, so that it was always facing the sun. Its motion didn’t last long, but the sculpture hung on anyway. Now, it has been replaced with the pictured fountain. I went for a walk this week and snapped this picture.

Under the rubric of Anne teaching Pooh, I have another story for you. Anne passed out different colored slips of paper to her fourth grade class this week. Written on each slip were sentences from “Winnie the Pooh”. Students with the same colored slip were asked to order the sentences written on each slip correctly. After they had deliberated, Anne queried one of the groups, “Which slip should be first?” One young boy piped up that it should be his. Next Anne asked, “How do you know this?” He explained that his slip had the extra wide top margin that you would expect to see at the top of a page. That’s thinking outside the box.

Wednesday night was the big Powerball drawing. For the record, I bought a single ticket and I did not win. There were two winners and one of the winning tickets was sold in Missouri. That was all that was announced until later in the day. Thursday morning, the question on everybody’s mind was who was not there at work. I made the joke that the IT department had won, which elicited the desired sour expression among the gathered throng. Later I passed by the IT room and the door was locked. I had my own little sinking spell there and then. Later still I found the IT group. They were all losers like me, holding on to their day job.


“Tweet, Tweet … Tweet” by Resito Pecson. twigs and moss

“Tweet, Tweet … Tweet” is a Christmas wreath designed by Resito Pecson. It is constructed from twigs and moss. It is my favorite wreath in the garden’s display of holiday wreaths. I love its delicate birds nest appearance. It is on the more eclectic end of the spectrum in this show’s collection. Most of the wreaths are more traditional in nature and usually rather ornate. The show is on the upper level of the Ridgeway Center.

On Tuesday morning, I saw and tweeted about a school crossing-guard being hoisted onto a gurney by four EMTs. There were at least that many emergency vehicles on the scene, all with their lights flashing. I don’t know if he had been hit by a car or had had a heart-attack. He was a big man and not a particularly young one either. I’m leaning towards the heart-attack explanation. His post is on Wydown, just east of Hanley, in Clayton. Traffic is usually backed up there. I can’t believe that a car could have been moving fast enough to strike him, but of course, it could have happened. I guess that it just was not his day.

For most of my tweets, I try to elicit pithy sayings somewhere or someone and then fling them out into the ether. I do this because this is how I imagine that one should use twitter. Anyway, when I see tweets reported that is how they appear to me. I think of them as haikus or more generally poetry, all in 140 characters. When we were walking up and down the street in the Loop, last Saturday, we saw a car that had been plastered with bumper stickers. I took a photo of it, with the full intension of mining it for at least a half-a-dozen tweets. I must admit though that I don’t really have this whole twitter thing puzzled out yet. I’m kind of new to twitter. It is a good thing though that I’m beyond my child rearing stage. I might have named one hash tag, or should that be #hashtag? Like I said, I’m a newbie.

Condi Rice

Powell Symphony Hall

On Tuesday last, I heard former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speak at Powell Symphony Hall. She came to town as part of the Saint Louis Speaker Series. This series has been around for many years, but I had never attended any of their events until this week. I went as Joanie’s guest, who is a regular patron of this series. Also in our party were two of Joanie’s nurse friends, Vicky and Becky. Before Dr. Rice’s talk, we had dinner at Dooley’s Beef N Brew House. This restaurant is located across Grand from Powell.

Powell is a beautiful hall, home of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and whose ornate entrance hall is pictured above. I’ve only been to Powell a few times, but once I was again visiting at Joanie’s behest and at intermission, she pointed out Stan ‘the man’ Musial to me. I would have never noticed Musial, unless she had pointed him out. I’ve long contended that Joanie knows everyone who lives in Saint Louis. She always demurs at this claim, so let me revise it to that she knows everybody worth knowing in Saint Louis and I am pleased to know her and be known by her.

Rice spoke for an hour and followed that up by taking questions for half-an-hour. I was way up in the cheap seat, the nose bleed section, but a big screen TV projection of the speaker helped to overcome the separation. Her talk covered three main themes, her personal history, and her history in the Whitehouse and finally, her reading of the current national and international situations. She wandered back and forth among these subjects and at times her lecture seemed disjointed, as she jumped in both time and space from one topic to another. I’ll spare you my recounting of the more political aspects of her talk. I doubt that I could do her justice. Her personal anecdotes were the most enjoyable aspect of her talk anyway.

She described her grandfather as a “Utah sharecropper”. She explained that his Alabama County, spelled Etowah, is pronounced Utah. Being a sharecropper, but wanting to better himself, he saved his money for college. He attended school, but after one year, his money had run out. Looking around, he noticed that some of the other students were getting money to go to school, scholarships. He asked the dean about these scholarships and was told that there was one left for any student who wanted to become a Presbyterian minister. To which he answered, “I always wanted to be a Presbyterian.” The Rice family is Presbyterian to this day.

Rice went to the University of Denver herself. Initially, she wanted to be a pianist, but soon discovered that she was way out classed by the more gifted students. She next tried Literature, but found it horribly dull. Next she tried local government and civil affairs. She interviewed the Denver city water manager, whom she described as the most boring man who I have ever met. A junior now and still floundering, she received a letter from her parents stating that it may be her life, but it was their money too. Finally, she took an international relations course taught by Josef Korbel, father to the first woman Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. He always referred to Rice as his star pupil.

In the weeks and months after 9/11, the White House was a chaotic mess. Every day brought new threats, both real and imagined. The unending tension began to wear on everyone. Then the anthrax scare hit the White House, while Rice was in China with President Bush. An ashen gray Dick Cheney appeared via telecom . A suspicious powder had already been forwarded to the CDC for analysis, but there would be no word for a day. Someone thought of using the mice that infest the Whitehouse as the proverbial canary in the coal mine. If the mice remained feet down, then everything was still alright, but if mice were found feet up that meant trouble. Later that night, Rice delivered the news during the middle of a state banquet, “Mr. President, the mice are feet down.” This was promptly translated for the Chinese Premier, who was seated next to Bush.

I didn’t have a question for her that night. So, I didn’t bother to fill out my card. The next day, a co-worker suggested a great one, “Dr. Rice, what progress have you made on your life’s greatest ambition? Are you any closer to becoming the next baseball commissioner?”

Occasional Showers

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the Aeroshell Flying Team

Rain showers, you might ask? Not a chance! See that sky in the photo above, there is not a cloud in it. Saint Louis is bone dry. (Well, except for the fact that it sits at the confluence of this continent’s two largest rivers, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story.) It has not rained here in weeks. I don’t know whether I should fear my water bill more, or my electric bill. I’m watering the yard every day now and the air conditioning is running 24/7, because it is freaking hot outside. Today was no different from what it has been for over a week, triple-digit temperatures, except a little hotter than usual. So what’s with the “Occasional Showers” title? That would be the several showers that I have taken already today. I’m sure getting my money’s worth out of Anne’s newly painted bathroom.

I got up at dawn. It was 85 °F. I rode in the park, came home and took a shower. After a cool down, I mowed the front lawn and then took another shower. I then drove downtown, watched the Veiled Prophet Parade and then walked down to the riverfront and watched as much of the air show that I could. I came back home and took another shower and I might take one more before the end of the day.

I went through five pint-sized water bottles while I was downtown. I’m glad that I drove, because I was dry when I got back to the car. The parade was nice, typical Saint Louis fare. (Or should I say fair?) It was not near as well attended as last year’s Cardinals World Series Championship parade. I made my way down to the Arch, by way of Calico’s, where I stopped off for a cool down and a cold one. At the Arch, I descended the main staircase to the levee. On the levee, Toyota had set up a VIP viewing area. The price of admission was just showing your Toyota key. Honda drivers need not apply. It was a great vantage point and shade provide was much appreciated. I got lots of great pictures that I’ll be posting through the next week. Time for a nap.