Monday, November 30, 2015

Cleveland has a big problem. It was once the fifth-largest city in America. In 1950, Cleveland was bursting at the seams with more than 915,000 residents. The Shoreway opened in 1938, and major extensions were westward (1940) and eastward (1941) soon after. It is now designated I-90. The rest of I-90 (also known as the Inner Belt Freeway) zig-zags across downtown to the Tremont neighborhood, where it resumes its westward course. This section opened in December 1959. A major southern extension, the Willow Freeway (now I-77) was approved in 1939. After an interruption by World War II, it opened in 1950. To ease congestion on the Willow, a second south-bound interstate highway, I-71, opened in 1959. I-480, linking southeast Cuyahoga County with Bedford before cutting due west across the southern surburbs, began construction in 1957 and opened in 1966. A parallel route -- I-490 -- began construction in 1969 at I-90 at Tremont. It was designed to connect with I-77 on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River, and then cut across Shaker Heights by turning Fairmount Blvd. into an interstate highway until it reached I-271 in Pepper Pike. Opposition to the plan in Shaker Heights truncated the freeway at E. 55th Street.

All those roads.........

All that sprawl...........

And yet, even as the city was building these roads, it was collapsing. Major heavy industries abandoned Cleveland in the 1960s, and the population fell a whopping 14.3 percent to just 751,000 people. A major exodus of industry, residents, and retail business occurred in the 1980s as the population crashed by 23.6 percent to reach just 574,000. Most of Cleveland's housing stock, which served the working-class residents feeding Industrial Valley's heavy industry, was abandoned. Vast tracks of cheaply built, clapboard, Victorian housing lay uninhabited. The once-thriving area between Euclid and Woodland Avenues became a quasi-ghost town. Tremont, Brooklyn Centre, Brooklyn Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, and Newburgh Heights suffered immensely. But the collapse wasn't over. By 1990, Cleveland had lost another 11.9 percent of its population, falling to 505,000 people. Another 30,000 people, or 5.4 percent fled the city in the 1990s, but the city took another massive population hit in the first decade of the new century as 17.1 percent of the population fled -- bringing Cleveland's population to just 397,000. Total population loss over 60 years: 57.5 percent. Total population loss since 2000: 18.7 percent

Half the city's housing stock now stood empty.

How can a city deal with that?

Let's consider Detroit. During the same 60-year period, Detroit lost 63.3 percent of its total population. Since 2000, Detroit has lost 28.5 percent of its population. Total population loss is roughly equal, although Detroit's collapse since 2000 has been far more severe.

This year, the City of Cleveland decided to do an inventory of all housing stock in the city. It quite literally had no idea how much housing stock there was, or whether any of it was still standing. The city had long ago seized vast quantities of housing stock over unpaid taxes. But the housing stock just sat there, without maintenance or care. With so much housing stock abandoned, was any of it habitable? What should be demolished? What should be rehabilitated and sold? The city just completed that inventory.

Now what?

Detroit is working on the "now what?" answer.

Detroit identifies neighborhoods on the cusp of dissolving or which have only recently depopulated. It uses eminent domain or tax liens to seize abandoned housing, sells it at an extreme loss (one-tenth the price), and then issues a grant (worth about two-thirds the price of the house) to the new owner to bring the home up to code.

Because housing costs in Detroit are so low -- a typical two-bedroom home sells of just $38,000 -- the city can recreate a neighborhood almost overnight. The re-created population density lures in businesses, especially small retail and dining, which makes the neighborhood stable again. The real estate market gets restarted, and property values rise.

What's interesting about this program is that it's almost entirely publicly funded. At first, that seems ludicrous: Detroit can't keep the lights on, so why is it spending millions of dollars on this program?

Because Detroit's financial base is about property taxes. It is generating none. By spending a little money now, Detroit is not only stabilizing its population, but the city is creating valuable housing stock from abandoned property. The city is seeing property values rise in neighborhoods which had been abandoned and had zero property value before. As residents return to Detroit, the city sees its sales tax revenue and its income tax revenue rise.

In the long run, the expenditure is better than not having intervened. It pays off. It revives.

Listen up, Cleveland. This is your future, too.
The National Menorah and the National Christmas Tree -- together on the Ellipse south of the White House in December 2014.

National Menorah and National Christmas Tree - 2014

Norman Pickering, who enjoyed listening to records, was frustrated by the sound quality of recordings.

Pickups -- the needle, arm, and electronics that transferred the vibrations created by a record's groove and turned it into sound -- were horrible. The needle (stylus) was made of steel and had to be replaced frequently, and the weight of the stylus and arm wore out records after a few plays.

So he invented the "Pickering pickup": A stylus made with a diamond or sapphire tip, which was markedly lighter and which didn't damage records nearly as much. Records lasted longer, and sounds were reproduced with less distortion. Furthermore, Pickering's pickup focused on movement in the tip of the stylus -- not on the point where the stylus interacted with the arm. Pickering's stylus also "floated" on a tip of rubber, so that it moved side to side as well as up and down, capturing much more of the recorded sound.

But the genius of Pickering's pickup was that the stylus actually fit against a crystal. As the stylus moved, it deformed the crystal slightly, creating a piezoelectric effect (a tiny electrical current) that was then amplified and produced in the loudspeaker as sound.

The difference "wasn’t just a little, it was magnificent".

Norman Pickering has died at the age of 99. Listen to some music in his honor.
Read this article about climate change in the New York Times.

If we switch quickly from fossil fuels, global average temperatures might only rise 2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit higher in the next 70 years. Sea levels by 2100 will rise by about 20 feet, but most polar ice will survive. Stronger monsoons will turn the Sahara lush and watery, and intense droughts will parch the American Southwest. Many species will adapt by migrating toward the poles. The Deep South's oak-hickory-black gum forests will move to upstate New York, southern Europe will resemble North Africa, and hippos, elephants and African animals will move to newly-subtropical Germany and France. The temperature rise will be strong, but occur over a century or more. Recovery could take about 50,000 years. At the end of this period, most life will return to its modern patterns, and die-offs will be uncommon.

But if we burn all the remaining coal, oil, and gas within the next century, we will create catastrophic change...

The Arctic Ocean became a warm, brackish sea surrounded by redwood forests. Antarctica will be covered in beech forests, and so much runoff will fill the Antarctic Ocean that it will turn brown with silt. Sea levels will rise over 200 vertical feet, and our grandchildren will lack the fossil fuels to cope with the problem. Most sea creatures as we know them (tuna, herring, sardines, cod, haddock, salmon) will die, replaced by warm-water species which lack food value. Polar regions will become rain-soaked, while the equator will become a desert.

In this worst-case scenario, the temperature rise will be swift and steep, with temperatures reaching their maximum in 50 to 75 years. Recovery will take at least 150,000 years, and at the end there will be another massive die-off as heat-adapted creatures go extinct in favor of new colder-adapted ones.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

800 block Kentucky Avenue SE - Barney Circle - Washington DC - 2014-05-08 I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that most of the two-story, single-family brick townhouses in the Barney Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C., are "daylight rowhouses" built after World War I -- so named because each room was lit as much as possible by natural light coming through windows?
So I'm pretty sure I have to have arthoscopic surgery on my left knee again. I was coming down the stairs from the second floor to first floor midday on November 25, and suddenly had this SHARP pain shoot up the left side of my left knee. The knee almost buckled, which would have sent me tumbling down the steps. I had stabbing pain even when I walked afterward.

I've been having achy knees for two or three weeks already, and had been taking stairs slow for a week. But still, this was new and bad. I had a lot of cooking to do for Thanksgiving, and had to do it while sitting in a chair in my kitchen. (Thank goodness the countertops are low.) I went to bed early on Wednesday, exhausted. Thursday, I felt a lot better. But I could feel my knee "clicking" inside, as if there were a ball bearing rolling over a piece of grit. I had no trouble going up stairs. But down, I'd still be really sore, my knee had some instability, and there was a significant ache (although only one instance of stabbing pain).

I felt even better Friday, and today. But still, this is not good.

I called my physician on Wednesday afternoon, and he got back to me Friday with an appointment with an orthopedic doctor.

So, we'll see what happens going forward.

Monday, November 23, 2015

hee hee hee!

I watched the Packers play on Sunday. I still find Clay Matthews sexy, even if he's not packing.

When I was in high school, I used to watch wrestling on Saturday mornings and masturbate. It was incredibly homoerotic, and some of the guys were amazing. One of the most amazing was a guy with the stage name of Razor Ramon, whose real name was Scott Hall. Hall had this Latin look about him, and he was mega-tall, very muscular, and hairy-chested. And oh boy, did I want Scott Hall to fuck the living shit out of me.

This is Cody Hall, his son. Cody is 6'9" tall, and wrestles in Japan. He's not dark and Latin like his dad, but.... wow. Fuck me.


Alec MacGillis has a piece in the New York Times about why the poor seem to vote Republican.

This is a nice analysis. But it's critically flawed in places. First of all, the very poor have RARELY voted in American history -- contrary to what MacGillis says. While he's correct in pointing out the role that labor unions once played in helping improve turnout, he misses the fact that labor union members were middle-class and working-class -- NOT the very poor that MacGillis is analyzing. Only during the great days of the political machines like Tammany Hall in New York City or the Pendergast Machine in Kansas City or the Byrd Organization in Virginia did the very poor turn out in huge numbers. Today, the work of those political machines would be called bribery -- rewards for voting. Who wants that?

Second, MacGillis trots out the tired old bugbear of "fraud, waste, and abuse". He seems to be arguing that F-W-A is so rampant that it's driving the disaffection among the working poor. The problem is that F-W-A is minimal to begin with, so it cannot be the driver MacGillis assumes. (Yes, he assumes. He provides no analysis or facts to support his claim that F-W-A is a factor.) MacGillis himself points out that F-W-A is already incredibly rare. So trying to root it out even more is a fairly useless idea.

Third, MacGillis trots out the over-beaten dead horse about "workfare". Workfare was the darling of conservative Democrats like Bill Clinton in the 1980s and 1990s. The idea was that welfare and the dole actually create dependency among the very poor. Make the poor work for their money -- by volunteering their time at nonprofits, or helping with cleaning up city parks, or whatever -- and you'd break the cycle of dependency. Workfare, however, failed miserably. Few jobs existed for welfare recipients, and most recipients had immense problems that meant they could not participate in workfare (e.g., physical or addiction problems, lack of job skills, dependent young children, etc.).

I just don't think MacGillis understands the real dynamic at work here: Working-poor voters have been the focus of the GOP myth-makers. They're told that "anyone can make it rich in America!" -- when, in fact, the economic system is rigged against mobility. They're told that "the poor and blacks" are holding back the American Dream -- when, in fact, it's income inequality and racism that's doing it.
"Actors and burglars work better at night." - Cedric Hardwicke

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Mr. Happy Warm Fire!!

I love having a fireplace...........

Mr Happy Warm Fire
Austin Kiplinger, publisher of The Kiplinger letter and head of a business publishing empire, has died of brain cancer at the age of 97.

Whatever else he might have been, Austin Kiplinger loved the District of Columbia. He and his family have given enormous sums of money to the D.C. Historical Society, and kept it out of bankruptcy in the last 15 or so years. His vast collection of books, newspapers, posters, fliers, pamphlets, recordings, transcripts, and much more were donated to the D.C. Historical Society and form the core of the Kiplinger Library.

An immense amount of D.C. history would have been lost without his interest in the city he loved. He loved everything about D.C. -- its past, its neighborhoods, its people. He wasn't only interested in Spring Valley or Georgetown; he funded extensive studies about the history, growth, and culture of neighborhoods East of the River and in Northeast, Far North, and Southeast.

So much about D.C. would never be known without Austin Kiplinger.
Wickliffe City Hall - 2015-11-20

Coulallenby -- today known as Wickliffe City Hall.

The mansion and gatehouse on the 54-acre estate was built by Harry C. Coulby. Coulby began working for Picklands Mather in 1886, a company which owned a fleet of steamship cargo vessels on the Great Lakes. By 1905, Coulby was running the company and was known as the "Czar of the Great Lakes" for his scheduling expertise. He founded his own firm, the Interlake Steamship Co., in 1913, and then purchased Pickands Mather and its company fleets of various names. His wife died in 1921. He died on January 17, 1929, at the age of 64.

Coulby was Wickliffe's first mayor, serving a single term in 1916. The mansion served as the city hall.

Coulallenby was designed in the Italianate Revival style by architect Frederick W. Striebinger, and was built by W.B. McAllister & Co. of Cleveland. The name of the estate is a conflation of the last names of Harry Coulby and his wife, May Allen Coulby.

Construction began in 1913 and was complete in 1915. The $1 million mansion included 16 rooms with seven fireplaces, a formal gardens, a pond, a cow barn, a gatehouse (now the Wickliffe Police headquarters) and a park.

The exterior is of white terra-cotta imported from Italy. Palladian windows provided each room of the ground floor with abundant natural light. The main entrance was originally in what is now the rear of the building. A round foyer here is topped by a skylight designed by the Tiffany firm. A living room occupied the south extension of the west wing of the first floor. The north and south walls of the living room featured carved built-in cabinets, Tiffany chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and the marble fireplace mantel was imported from Italy. A library, also in the west wing, contained extensive built-in bookshelves, hand-carved wood panels from Bohemia, and another Italian marble fireplace mantel. A morning room occupied the slight extension on the west side.

Wickliffe City Hall west wing - 2015-11-20A dining room, breakfast room, butler's pantry, and kitchen occupied the east wing. The breakfast room extended eastward and was semicircular, providing a vast amount of morning light at all times of the year.

The second floor above the west wing contained May Coulby's bedroom, dressing room, sitting room, and bath. The second floor above the east wing contained Harry Coulby's bedroom and two guestrooms. Coulby's room faced Lake Erie, and he kept the trees on the north side of the house trimmed so he could watch his ships sailing on Lake Erie. Over the kitchen on the south side of the building, slightly lower than the rest of the second floor, were the tiny servants' rooms.

In June 1929, the Sisters of Holy Humility of Mary purchased the Coulallenby and turned it into Marycrest, a girls' school. The mansion also was the site of the Convent of the Good Shepherd, which provided housing for the nuns. In 1954, the City of Wickliffe purchased Coulallenby for its city hall. It has remained the city's mayoral and council offices ever since.

Coulallenby was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Coulallenby received no major renovations or alterations until 2010, when the roof over the wings was replaced. The following year, the remainder of the roof was replaced, and a protective cover was placed over the Tiffany skylight. current work involves restoring the structure's glazed terra-cotta exterior. In 2013, the city began restoration and conservatioin of the exterior's terra-cotta tiles, replacement of modern windows, refurbishment of original windows, and the removal of exterior additions (such as metal conduits). Minor improvements to the entrance and entrance steps, and the addition of energy-efficient lighting, were made in 2014, bringing the total cost of repairs and improvements to $1.7 million.

Wickliffe Police - 2015-11-20

The Wickliffe Police Department occupies the estate's former gatehouse. The kind, extent, and number of changes to this structure are undetermined.
"I've always been selling," he said.

Hmmmm.... I hear $150 an hour is about right. $1,500 for 12 hours.


I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that AKA White House, a luxury extended stay hotel in Washington, D.C., occupies the Metropolitan Building -- one of the finest Modern architecture structures in the city, and for 25 years the headquarters of Bell Atlantic?
I love this holiday!!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

November 20, 1945 – The Nuremberg Trials begin. Leading Nazis involved in the Holocaust and war crimes during World War II were tried before the International Military Tribunal, which finished its proceedings on October 1, 1946.

Initially, the Allies had proposed deindustrialization of Nazi Germany and breaking it up into several smaller nations. But Britain began arguing against the plan as soon as it was created, feeling that this would create a power vaccum in central Europe which would lead to Soviet Russian domination of the continent. The "agrarian plan" was dropped, and "deNazification" and punishment of the top Nazi civil and military leaders endorsed in its stead.

The legal basis for the trial was established by the London Charter, signed by the Allies on August 8, 1945, and limited the trial to "punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis countries". Nazi Germany agreed to submit to the trials as part of the Instrument of Surrender of Germany. (This meant the Nuremberg court did not have jurisdiction over crimes that took place before the outbreak of war on September 1, 1939.)

Nuremberg was chosen for the site of the trial because it was the ceremonial birthplace of the Nazi Party. It had hosted the party's annual propaganda rallies as well as the Reichstag session that passed the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 that legalized antisemitism in Germany. Additionally, the Palace of Justice in Nuremburg was large and undamaged, and a large prison was nearby.

About 200 defendants were tried at Nuremberg. Another 1,600 others were tried under the traditional channels of military justice.

A second set of Nuremberg trials of lesser war criminals was conducted from 1946 to 1949. These included the Doctors' Trial, the Judges' Trial, the SS Officers' Trial, the Flick company trial, the I.G. Farben trial, the Hostages' Trial (12 German generals of the Balkan Campaign), the racial cleansing trial, the Einsatzgruppen Trial (SS mobile death squads), the Krupp trial, the Reich ministers' trial, and the High Command Trial.

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... the John Philip Sousa Bridge in Washington, D.C., is named for famous United States Marine Band conductor and composer John Philip Sousa, who grew up near the bridge's northwestern terminus?
A black-crowned night heron.

So excited for Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

hee hee hee!

"Everything is a reenactment. Consciousness is a reenactment of reality inside of our skulls. None of us have direct access to the real world as such. And the job of nonfiction is not just simply turning on a camera and pointing it in one way or another, but in creating a relationship and the real world." - Errol Morris

Super sex..............

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lefse (LEFF-suh) is a soft Norwegian flatbread. In my family, it was traditional to make huge batches of lefse in mid-November, just before Thanksgiving. Half would be frozen, but trust me -- it barely made it past Christmas. It's considered a mid-winter treat, and as a kid I loved loved loved loved it!!

Lefse is made with boiled and peeled potatoes, a little flour, butter, and either milk or cream. The ingredients are combined into a kind of mash, and allowed to steep overnight. Tennis-ball sized orbs of the mash are then rolled out into a large disk using a special rolling pin that has grooves in it. (The grooves keep the lefse from sticking to the roller, and give the lefse a texture that allows it to cook evenly.)

The lefse is rolled out on a pastry cloth until it's just an eighth of an inch thick. Then it's transferred to a hot griddle, where it's allowed to cook on each side until brown patches appear. A long flat stick, called a "lefse stick", is used to lift the lefse from the cloth and transfer it to the griddle, and to turn it on the griddle so both sides cook. Once the lefse is done, which takes just a minute or two, the lefse stick is used to transfer the lefse to a towel. The lefse has to cool while covered with a moist towel. This allows the lefse to reabsorb some moisture, so it remains soft and pliable.

Making lefse is a family effort, usually requiring two or three people.

Lefse is usually eaten cold, or at room temperature. It can be refrigerated for up to two weeks, and frozen for up to three months.

The general way lefse is eaten is by slathering it with butter and then dusting it with sugar. You roll it up and CONSUME MASS QUANTITIES. Sometimes people use brown sugar, or dust it with a little cinnamon. Some people spread jelly or peanut butter on it, and in Norway people will sometimes spread gomme (a sweet cheese made by slow-boiling milk for a very long time) on it. It's not uncommon to see people fill lefse with ham and eggs to eat at breakfast, or with beef and mustard to eat as a sandwich. It's not unusual for small disks of lefse to be made, and then rolled around a sausage or hot dog (like pigs-in-a-blanket).

My grandfather used to eat lefse with red onion, sour cream, and rakfisk. Rakfisk is trout or char which is salted and put under pressure. This creates a brine, as moisture is drawn out of the fish. After brining for three or four months, the fish is soaked in water to remove the salt and rehydrate the flesh. As the fish has cooked because of the salt and brining, it's edible as-is.

There are other variations on lefse (like tykklefse, which is thick like cake), nordlandslefse (much sweeter and served in chunks), and anislefse (slightly thick lefse with aniseed rolled into it).

Friday, November 13, 2015

I love the voice of Mavis Staples.

November 13, 1940 – Fantasia becomes first commercial motion picture to be exhibited in stereo. The film premiered at the Broadway Theatre in New York City.