Sunday, January 15, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 112: Oozy rat in a sanitary zoO

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by The Libertarian Party Audacious Caucus ...

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (Out with Obama, in with Trump; got the Jew-baiting troll blues; Hunter Maats is an annoying know-it-all rich kid);
  • Do the Libertarian Party's original core constituencies still make sense?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ah, Memory Lane ...

One time when I was trying to get a fix on just how violent St. Louis really is, I found an article rating "the most dangerous cities in the world." I think this one is it. Of course there are all kinds of ways of rating danger, but this list isn't unusual. It ranks St. Louis third most dangerous city worldwide. More dangerous than Port au Prince in Haiti. More dangerous than Mogadishu in Somalia. More dangerous than Grozny in Chechnya or Muzaffarabad in Kashmir.

Recently my friend David Klaus has been calling my attention to a new spate of articles on the topic of violence in St. Louis (here's one in the Guardian, and another one riffing on it at the CBS St. Louis web site).

For 12 years, I lived a few blocks south of Natural Bridge Avenue and just west of the St. Louis city limit. My kids both went to school on, or within a block or so of, Natural Bridge. Yeah, it was bad, but if I'd had to guess which street was the most violent in the area (let alone America) I'd have probably guessed Martin Luther King Avenue or Page Avenue, along the same east/west stretch as Natural Bridge, more or less centering on Kingshighway Boulevard.

We lived less than a block north of MLK just west of where it stopped being MLK and became St. Charles Rock Road. Tamara worked on Kingshighway just south of Page, which meant that every day she got to work by crossing some of the most dangerous real estate in the country. It seemed like there was a shooting (not necessarily, but sometimes, fatal) along her route at least once a week.

I only recall having a gun pulled on me one time in the area. I came around a blind corner in Jennings (a town just west of the city and a little north of Natural Bridge) in the ice cream truck I was driving and encountered a crowd of young men wearing red bandanas. Presumably they were with the Horseshoe Posse, the local affiliate of the Bloods gang. MLK was supposedly the turf line -- Horseshoe Posse to the north, Boys of Destruction (affiliated with the Crips, but apparently more loosely than the HP/Bloods situation) to the south. Scowls all around, then one of them pulled a pistol. I did the only thing I could think of to do: I kept coming, hit the gas, and scattered them. If the gun got fired, I didn't hear it. Kind of scary. The ice cream truck company had had a driver shot in the head and left for dead not long before and not far from there.

Mostly north St. Louis County and the city didn't feel that dangerous on a day to day basis. But overall I'd say that while I miss some people in the area, I don't miss the area itself.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Next Bike?

OK, so last year's $80 Wal-Mart bicycle idea turned into a fiasco. I tore the Kent 700c single speed apart, used the brakes on my trusty old Trek 7000, and set the other parts aside for any later use that might come up.

I'm really enjoying riding the Trek again. I've been getting out almost daily for rides ranging from 5 miles to 12 miles. But its days really are numbered. The sprockets and shifters/derailleur are showing their age. The handlebars are starting to have a little give to them that can't be tightened out. The rear wheel is out of true -- not terribly, but noticeably -- and it will need new tires long before I've put in the minimum of 1,000 miles I am committed to riding this year.

As much as I'd love to take the Trek frame in to my favorite bike shop and tell them to hang all the new stuff it needs on it, my guess is that would set me back at least $300-400. That's not happening any time in the foreseeable future.

$80 didn't work out. Now I'm thinking more like $180 including tax:

Good reviews for both the brand (Critical) and the specific bike. 57cm frame size available. Single speed with flip-flop hub. I'd rather have quick release for the wheels, and I'll probably want to put a rack on it, but otherwise I'm sold. And I think I can save up the dough for it by spring.

Update: I went ahead and ordered the bike this morning on credit instead of saving up for it. Why? Because last night I noticed the price at Amazon and at the Critical Cycles site was back up from the $169 sale price to the usual $199 price. I hadn't expected that -- my plausible assumption was that they were having a sale in advance of introducing new models. When I went looking, I found it still on sale for $169 at, you guessed it, I'm having it shipped directly to me instead of having the local store assemble it, though. I like to pay cash on the barrelhead when possible, but in this case credit will save me $30 instead of costing me more (as long as I pay it off in six months or less; I plan to pay it off in two or three).

Three Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide
Some graphics and styles ported from a previous theme by Jenny Giannopoulou