Interviewed by CNN Money

Saturday, 21 March 2009

I was in­ter­viewed by CNN Money about the fed­er­al stim­u­lus track­ing site Recovery​.gov. I wrote a more de­tailed post about it over at The Design State.

I would al­so like to take this op­por­tu­ni­ty to state of­fi­cial­ly, and un­equiv­o­cal­ly, that I love squir­rels.

Amateur Hour

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

A mon­th or so ago I was talk­ing with Pultz about all of the things two beard­ed, over-ed­u­cat­ed, Cleveland trans­plants are like­ly to talk about when forced by ne­ces­si­ty to drink in a bar they nor­mal­ly wouldn’t fre­quent. I ad­mit to my snob­bery. One of the top­ics that came up was the im­pend­ing Saint Patrick’s Day Amateur Drinking Hour Variety Show that Downtown Cleveland turns in to every year. Pultz, as a self-de­scribed pro­fes­sion­al drinker, does not im­bibe pub­licly on this day.

I have an­oth­er friend, a fel­low Notre Dame alum­nus named Liam, who is a con­nois­seur of the great Saint Patrick’s Day cel­e­bra­tions in the US: Chicago, Savannah, Cleveland, New York City and Boston. The man knows his Irish-American cel­e­bra­tions.

I have a Notre Dame cap with a sham­rock on it. I wear it year-round, but on­ly feel like an id­iot when I wear it on Saint Patrick’s Day.

I wish every day in Downtown Cleveland was as crowd­ed with peo­ple as Saint Patrick’s Day. Euclid Avenue in par­tic­u­lar feels less like a road through ‘90s Sarajevo and more like an ac­tu­al city. 

This is the part where I sound like a grouchy old man.

The ma­jor­i­ty of young peo­ple who roll down­town on this day, un­for­tu­nate­ly, are an­i­mals. The sense of en­ti­tle­ment and lack of re­spect for any­one else in the vicin­i­ty was as­tound­ing. Catholic schools in Cleveland are closed for the day, and the hordes ap­pear. I saw sev­er­al home­less peo­ple loud­ly in­sult­ed by groups of drunk­en young’uns who then pro­ceed­ed to run in­to the traf­fic-packed street, bang on car hoods, and yell pro­fan­i­ty in front of fam­i­lies; gen­er­al­ly not know­ing their ass from a hole in the ground.

Look, the peo­ple I’m talk­ing about are puk­ing green beer on street cor­ners, and hav­ing their friends haul them to West 6th so they can fin­ish the boot & ral­ly. The afore­men­tioned home­less folks have more deco­rum, and [if you par­don the de­lib­er­ate in­sen­si­tiv­i­ty for the sake of some lev­i­ty] can hold their liquor bet­ter.

On my twelve block walk to my bus stop, I saw rel­a­tives to this sort of be­hav­ior pret­ty much the whole time. I was ac­tu­al­ly thanked by an old la­dy for not run­ning in­to her and let­ting her have the right-of-way. This is be­cause the crowds of young’uns re­fuse to de­vi­ate from their course, which, due to drunk­en­ness, takes up the whole of the ex­tend­ed side­walks on Euclid. They’ll walk right through you.

The bus was filled with passed out kids from Padua head­ing back to­ward Parma, and the bus dri­ver al­most had to pull over when one of them lit a cig­a­ret­te and wouldn’t put it out when the reg­u­lar pas­sen­gers hollered at him. There was an ad­di­tion­al RTA em­ploy­ee on the bus, whether for se­cu­ri­ty sake or just head­ed home, who was mocked by the drunk­en white kids for not hav­ing the best English.

I’m pret­ty sure the so­lu­tion to this is to get the­se mall­fratrats to come down­town more of­ten, so they can get a chance to learn how to act in pub­lic.

Maybe next year I won’t wear my hat.

Weekend Update

Sunday, 15 March 2009

  • I went for a run for the first time in a dog’s age to­day. Put in a lit­tle over 3.5 miles at 11 min­utes a mile. Not so good, but not that bad for a 28 year old with an arthrit­ic knee, a 9 mon­th old, and a year plus of most­ly seden­tary liv­ing. My knee hurts, but the weath­er is beau­ti­ful.
  • What the hell, man. When I come to the cash reg­is­ter to pur­chase my item, all I want to do is ex­change mon­ey for pro­duct and get the hell out of your store. I do not: 
    1. have the store cred­it card;
    2. want the store cred­it card;
    3. and will not give you my phone number/​zip code;
    4. want to search around for an­oth­er item that will en­able me to save $5 while spend­ing $10 more; and
    5. care about the cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion sur­vey that I can fill out on­line or by phone that will en­able me to get an ad­di­tion­al 10% off my pur­chase of $50 or more with­in the next five days.
  • Went to a show at Now That’s Class. Wishing the hip hop scene was big­ger or more eas­i­ly ac­ces­si­ble, not sure which it needs to be.
  • I was ex­cit­ed that the gener­ic brand of in­stant oat­meal was on su­per sale.
  • I’m plan­ning on build­ing a road bike again this sum­mer, hope­ful­ly I’ll ac­tu­al­ly get to do it. The first or­der of busi­ness is find­ing a 62-64cm ear­ly-80s steel frame from the Ohio City Bike Coop. Somehow I don’t think a frame that size is go­ing to be easy to come by.

Tough Times

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Times are tough. Compared to mil­lions of Americans, times aren’t that bad for my fam­i­ly; but in some ways we’re poster chil­dren for the so­cial, in­fra­struc­tural and eco­nom­ic chal­lenges that the coun­try cur­rent­ly faces. For in­stance:

  • My home has de­creased at least 15% in val­ue since I pur­chased it due to the fore­clo­sure cri­sis.
  • Refinancing my mort­gage to take ad­van­tage of the low­er-in­ter­est rates is not cost-ef­fec­tive, as I would have to pay the dif­fer­ence in ap­praised val­ue and pay for mort­gage in­sur­ance, even though I’m in no dan­ger of de­fault­ing on my loan.
  • We had to spend a hefty chunk of sav­ings (around $3,000) on a new fur­nace this win­ter.
  • Debbie’s char­ter school shut down last year be­cause they didn’t pay their rent, and none of the for­mer em­ploy­ees were el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits be­cause the school ad­min­is­tra­tion told the un­em­ploy­ment folks that the en­tire staff quit.
  • As soon as Abraham left Debbie’s body, he was no longer cov­ered by her in­sur­ance. Since it took a few days to get him on my in­sur­ance, his doc­tor vis­it in the hos­pi­tal wasn’t cov­ered and we had to pay it out of pock­et. $200.
  • My old in­sur­ance, Kaiser Permanente, re­fused cov­er­age for Abraham’s first two vis­its to the pe­di­a­tri­cian. $1300.
  • Debbie’s cur­rent job as a part-time art teacher is at a parochial school that pays its teach­ers $75 a day. We spend more send­ing Abraham to day­care than Debbie makes at work. Her school may close af­ter next year be­cause the Diocese of Cleveland can’t af­ford to keep so many schools open.
  • There is lit­tle hope that Debbie can find a full-time po­si­tion as an art teacher. Even though Buhrer Elementary was just re­built a block north of where we live, her con­stant search­ing is dis­heart­en­ing sim­ply be­cause there is noth­ing to find.
  • Due to a pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tion, Debbie was un­able to get ad­e­quate med­ical in­sur­ance af­ter los­ing her job. The six-mon­th pol­i­cy she pur­chased has re­fused to cov­er all of the care she re­ceived dur­ing the time of the pol­i­cy. From what I’ve read late­ly, the­se poli­cies are a joke, and the com­pa­nies that sell them are rack­e­teers. She’s out an­oth­er $700.
  • I lost my shirt with my pen­sion plan and my de­ferred com­pen­sa­tion plan.

To sum up, banks don’t want to loan, em­ploy­ers screw their em­ploy­ees, the school sys­tem is in an abysmal state, and health in­sur­ance is a gi­ant ma­lig­nant leech. This is why we vot­ed for Obama. After the ma­troshka Gaussian Copula-de­rived, over-lever­aged, shell-game or­gy that Wall Street en­gaged in af­ter be­ing dereg­u­lat­ed and hand­ed a few buck­ets of lit­tle blue pills by the Bush Administration, well it was time for some change we could be­lieve in.

But you know what, things could be much worse. We’re lucky in the fol­low­ing ways:

  • I own a solid­ly con­struct­ed home, built in 1900, that has an up­per apart­ment that we rent for some sup­ple­men­tal cash.
  • I have a great job that I love, and good job se­cu­ri­ty.
  • I have much bet­ter health in­sur­ance, and live just blocks from Metro Hospital, which has given me noth­ing but ex­cel­lent care from cour­te­ous staff since I’ve lived in Cleveland.
  • We have plen­ty to eat, and are warm at night.
  • We have fam­i­ly and friends that look out for us.
  • We live on a street of good peo­ple, who are friend­ly and keep an eye on each other’s prop­er­ties. There are no blight­ed homes.
  • The non-bank-bailout stim­u­lus pack­age might ac­tu­al­ly mean that Debbie can get a job as a teacher. She’s got a Master’s Degree in Art Education af­ter all.
  • The cost of liv­ing in Cleveland is great. The art and mu­sic sce­nes are vi­brant, all you have to do is look around your neigh­bor­hood. I’ve been all over Cleveland and I’ve yet to be in a neigh­bor­hood that didn’t have reg­u­lar folks do­ing ex­tra­or­di­nar­i­ly en­ter­tain­ing stuff.
  • We are all healthy.
  • Abraham is awe­some.

Infant Experimentation Project

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Now that the in­fant sub­ject is mo­bile, I’ve been able to en­gage it in the sec­ond round of my Infant Experimentation Project. I was as­sist­ed in the­se ex­per­i­ments by the infant’s ma­ter­nal unit.


You are like­ly to find the fol­low­ing record­ings quite bor­ing.

Time Trial Mark 1


In which I at­tempt to gain em­pir­i­cal data re­gard­ing the subject’s aes­thet­ic pref­er­ences and gauge its in­nate toy val­ue cost/​benefit ra­tio analy­sis abil­i­ty. A slight in­fant mal­func­tion at the end of the video stopped this ex­per­i­ment pre­ma­ture­ly.



Subject shows in­abil­i­ty to rec­og­nize that it is be­ing ex­per­i­ment­ed up­on. Subject’s aes­thet­ic de­vel­op­ment ex­tends on­ly to taste and tex­ture. Subject has a tum­my ache.

Time Trial Mark 2


Another it­er­a­tion of the ex­per­i­ment, this time us­ing food as the mo­ti­va­tor, rather than toys. Subject given trail of food to fol­low with lit­tle to no dis­trac­tion and pa­ter­nal en­cour­age­ment. An eas­ier ver­sion of the pre­vi­ous ex­per­i­ment.



Subject is not quite as smart as a dog.

Agility Drill


This ex­per­i­ment charts the subject’s poise, bal­ance, agili­ty and fast-twitch mus­cle ca­pa­bil­i­ty us­ing a state-of-the-art spring-load­ed re­straint that was cus­tomized from a sex swing that shrank in the wash. Remember to on­ly pur­chase items made from pre-shrunk cot­ton.



Subject con­tin­ues to ex­hibit no knowl­edge that it is be­ing ex­per­i­ment­ed on. Subject al­so shows no signs of poise, bal­ance, agili­ty or fast-twitch mus­cle ca­pa­bil­i­ty. Subject does, how­ev­er, ap­pear to be hav­ing a good time.

Cleveland Crocuses

Monday, 2 March 2009

I’m sens­ing new kinds of life in Cleveland; or at least com­ing out of my year-long in­fant-in­duced so­cial hi­ber­na­tion. In the past cou­ple of weeks I’ve got­ten my mitts, mugs and mallei prepo­si­tioned by all kinds of var­i­ous NEO.neo-creativity.

Of course, I’m sure be­hind the times with a bit of most of it. My schtick seems to be ‘per­ma­nent­ly late to the par­ty’.

Pink Eye Magazine — Cleveland-re­gion­al arts & cul­ture news. Currently seek­ing more writ­ers.

Messy Magazine — web-on­ly, sub­mis­sion-fo­cused lit­er­ary guer­ril­la art mag.

DEFEND Cleveland — In-pro­gress [by me et al] site de­sign for a cer­tain beard­ed prophet of Cleveland sports named Mike James.

Fare Trade Records — emerg­ing Hip Hop la­bel brought to you by the Muamin Collective.

I’ve been try­ing to get my fin­gers in­to the­se sort of things for awhile now, but I seem to be all thumbs. Hopefully not so much any more. I’m race­horse ready for warm weath­er ac­tion. Are you go­ing to get your hands dirty?