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.

WARNING

You are likely to find the following recordings quite boring.

Time Trial Mark 1

Summary

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.

Data

Results

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

Summary

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.

Data

Results

Subject is not quite as smart as a dog.

Agility Drill

Summary

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.

Data

Results

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?