Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rest in peace, Earl

Earl Scruggs, bluegrass banjo-ist, died yesterday of natural causes at the age of 88.

He was a major reason we enjoyed these things:  Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, Lester Flatt, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, and the Beverly Hillbillies theme song. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Goodbye Ol' Paint

As she looked in better days

Well, it finally happened. Roger replaced his old car --the 1992 Corolla - with a 2010 Nissan Versa. I no longer have any excuse for holding on to my 1994 Corolla.

My excuse for holding onto it was ---"If Roger's old beater breaks down, or needs to spend a lot of time in the shop ---then he can drive my old beater." A car with no driver's side window, no AC, and arthritic transmission, is better than no car at all. In vehicular math, two old beaters is about equal to one good-running car, so I figured between them and my Civic, we'd always have wheels.

But now Roger has a new car. He's got some out of town gigs and will be driving to South Dakota and Nebraska, and I'm glad he has something reliable, that can accomodate his keyboard. And yay--I can finally stop covering the window of the '94 Corolla with trashbags and duct tape. I can get rid of the darn thing.

Which doesn't bother me. Why should it? A car is not a person. It would be outrageous to feel sad about it, when human life is so fragile, and the potential loss of people we hold most dear is a cruel reality and an ever-present threat. Getting choked up about an old car go would be ridiculous.

Why, being free of that rust-bucket is a relief. No more eyesore in the driveway. The $18 a month I spend on insurance---that's like four lattes, or two movie tickets, or a blouse at the consignment shop, or 18 mp3 downloads! I can really live it up with the extra cash.

And how do you like this: the tag renewal was due at the end of this month. There's another $63.00 I won't be spending. Ca-ching!

 And get this! Carmax offered me $300 for it, which is the maximum book value for a 1994 Corolla in poor condition. And I didn't have to fix it or clean it or anything!

So it's a no-brainer.  Take it away! Haul it off. It's Carmax's problem now, not mine.

 But of course, against all logic, I feel sad to part ways with the old jalopy. We've had it for 15 years. Maybe the longest I've owned anything. My kids have been riding in it since they were babies. We may have even brought Lilah home from the hospital in it (neither one of us can remember for sure).

We definitely brought Annabelle home in it. I labored in it for four hours, in Peekskill, NY, after the midwife examined me and said I had hours to go, and why don't we kick back and kill some time, like go to lunch or something, go to the park...and we went to the park, but only because within minutes of leaving the midwife's office, my pain had grown to the point where all I wanted was to curl up on the floor and grab hold of the seat.

We made our epic move from New York to Kansas in that car and drove the kids to western Kansas and back countless times. Their DNA is ground indelibly into the car's interior. Which, by the way, is made of cloth that is a nice, soft, chocolate brown, of a quality that I haven't seen in any of the recent cars. Today's cars are smarter and safer, but they still seem more flimsy and plastic-y by comparison. That 1994 Corolla was a machine.

Was. Because after it's auctioned off, lord knows how its parts might be divided and devoured.

But it's just a car, for pete's sake. An 18 year-old heap sporting rust.

Roger's 1992 Corolla is still with us, because its automatic transmission makes it a perfect car for driving practice, which is the intent of our soon-to-be 15 year-old daughter who has her eyes on a learner's permit. (Eeeks!).

If the '94 Corolla had been an automatic, maybe we would have kept it instead. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's Spring

Hello spring! You're always welcome. Who would ever turn you away? You with your champagne buds and your kickline blossoms. Who in their right mind would say, "Try the next house. We don't want any."

It's true your arrival is somewhat anti-climactic, what with it having been a mild winter and all. Your budding and popping came so early, you kind of killed the suspense for us. Usually we are afforded a little more time to get restless, and a tiny bit worried, so that the dark thought crosses our mind. The possibility that we have killed the earth for good and you aren't coming back. Then when you do come back, we are so relieved, we greet you with singing. We leap in your arms, re-born.

But this time you were a bit hasty, weren't you? You had to go and rush things. Bursting out in all your gaudiness, with flamboyance of life and weeds and insects, before our eyes had adjusted fully to the increasing light. Before we were ready to put away our boots.

But here you are, universally cheered and loved, symbol of hope and renewal...of course we're glad to see you. Who could ever argue with you? Not me, that's for sure. You're spring!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thank God I'm not still in library school

I stumbled across something I had saved on the computer from one of my online library science classes--the instructor was giving us our discussion topic for the week: 

One of the long standing problems within LIS has been the inability to connect distributed networked systems in a manner which is transparent to the end user. The challenges are considerable. Consider the fact that many OPACs promote access to physical collections owned by local libraries, while Online DBs proffer access to content that is not housed at a specific library, are generally “licensed” for some specified period of time. How does one connect these disparate sources of content for use by the end user?

One early proposal was to create a standard for interoperability across distributed collections of MARC records. Known as Z39.50, what are some applications of this NISO standard, and what might be some future directions involving this standard?

What are the challenges faced with connecting disparate content and unifying that access with a single interface?

Let us discuss these prospects and issues for the duration of the week.

Dr. K

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bjork Rerun

I just have to post this again. This is a video I just can't get enough of, and anyway, it's been almost three years since the last time I posted it.

I could listen to those bells all day. When I got the Medulla CD, I was disappointed that the CD version doesn't have those bell sounds.

I keep thinking about how long it took someone to glue on all those little balls on her dress.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women's Day

Poster for Women's Day, March 8, 1914. Claming voting right for women.

Just want to take the opportunity on this International Women's Day to say: Patriarchy is bullshit.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

There are aliens in Leawood, and I have proof.

I think I've solved the puzzle, I've cracked the code, I've figured out the mystery of the Take 5 Coffee Bar.

The place would raise the eyebrows of even the most casual Kansas City observer. There are so many things about this coffee and wine bar that just don't add up. Here it is located in southern Johnson county, amid some of the most vacuous real estate on the Kansas side of the state line, and yet upon arriving you walk into an atmosphere of swinging jazz and blinding happeningness.

I was there Friday night and ringing through the air were the unmistakeable blurts and trills and diddlings of high-end improvisation. And weirdest of all, the owners were happy about this. They were encouraging it. They were actually paying the musicians, Roger Wilder and Stan Kessler, to do this.

How can this be? Well, I have sniffed this out and found there can be only one logical conclusion: The owners are aliens and this suburban jazz haunt is their front. This is their way of trying to set up shop and blend in and pass themselves off as normal. But being aliens they aren't very adept at reading the cultural landscape. They are ignorant of the extreme drop-off of hipness as you venture deeper into the Johnson County suburbscape.

 Now the city is where you open a jazz club. Any five-year old living here knows that. But these aliens, they have that affliction that plagues many visitors to a foreign land--they lump us all together --which is why they think they can open a jazzy coffeeshop in extreme southern Leawood and not blow their cover.

Who are they kidding? They think I'm not going to start asking questions when I have to drive past twelve gated communities to find this place tucked away inside a hulking shopping strip next to a Walgreens and a gift shop? Well, I'm on to them, and I'm going to be watching them.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Waters of March

March, it means so many things:

A limited number of days left when my comfy sweaters will still be seasonal attire.


Official open of tornado season.

The forthcoming Ides.

Our hemisphere turns back toward the sun. Yay! Go, Northern Hemisphere! Woot!

It's a stick, it's a stone, it's the end of the road....

Wait--was I quoting the Waters of March?

Yes--the famous tune by Brazilian composer Jobim, called "Waters of March", or "Aguas de Marco", which celebrates Rio de Janeiro's wettest month and the start of their autumn, (since Rio is in the southern hemisphere), when the city is besieged by heavy rains and flooding, sending streams of water and random bits of debris through the gutters--I was quoting it.

The English translation is not as good as the Portuguese, I'm told, but Jobim himself (seen in the video above with Elis Regina) re-wrote the lyrics for the English version, which seems to go on forever and ever...

Waters of March by Antonio Carlos Jobim

A stick, a stone,

It's the end of the road,

It's the rest of a stump,

It's a little alone

It's a sliver of glass,

It is life, it's the sun,

It is night, it is death,

It's a trap, it's a gun

The oak when it blooms,

A fox in the brush,

A knot in the wood,

The song of a thrush

The wood of the wind,

A cliff, a fall,

A scratch, a lump,

It is nothing at all

It's the wind blowing free,

It's the end of the slope,

It's a beam, it's a void,

It's a hunch, it's a hope

And the river bank talks

of the waters of March,

It's the end of the strain,

The joy in your heart

The foot, the ground,

The flesh and the bone,

The beat of the road,

A slingshot's stone

A fish, a flash,

A silvery glow,

A fight, a bet,

The range of a bow

The bed of the well,

The end of the line,

The dismay in the face,

It's a loss, it's a find

A spear, a spike,

A point, a nail,

A drip, a drop,

The end of the tale

A truckload of bricks

in the soft morning light,

The shot of a gun

in the dead of the night

A mile, a must,

A thrust, a bump,

It's a girl, it's a rhyme,

It's a cold, it's the mumps

The plan of the house,

The body in bed,

And the car that got stuck,

It's the mud, it's the mud

Afloat, adrift,

A flight, a wing,

A hawk, a quail,

The promise of spring

And the riverbank talks

of the waters of March,

It's the promise of life

It's the joy in your heart

A stick, a stone,

It's the end of the road

It's the rest of a stump,

It's a little alone

A snake, a stick,

It is John, it is Joe,

It's a thorn in your hand

and a cut in your toe

A point, a grain,

A bee, a bite,

A blink, a buzzard,

A sudden stroke of night

A pin, a needle,

A sting, a pain,

A snail, a riddle,

A wasp, a stain

A pass in the mountains,

A horse and a mule,

In the distance the shelves

rode three shadows of blue

And the riverbank talks

of the waters of March,

It's the promise of life

in your heart, in your heart

A stick, a stone,

The end of the road,

The rest of a stump,

A lonesome road

A sliver of glass,

A life, the sun,

A knife, a death,

The end of the run

And the riverbank talks

of the waters of March,

It's the end of all strain,

It's the joy in your heart.