Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Molly Ivins died yesterday of cancer at 62

The child of a wealthy Republican Houston family, her nationally syndicated column, which combined strong liberal views and populist humor, was syndicated in more than 400 newspapers. Ivins counted as her highest honors the Minneapolis police force's decision to name its mascot pig after her and her getting banned from the campus of Texas A&M University.

I know that some of you have a difficult time understanding how people with different political views can be friends, in spite of what they might publicly say about one another. Molly knew President Bush from the time they were both affluent teenagers in Houston. "Molly Ivins was a Texas original," the President said yesterday in a statement. "I respected her convictions, her passionate belief in the power of words, and her ability to turn a phrase. She fought her illness [breast cancer] with that same passion." In July, she had written:
"The poor man who is currently our president has reached such a point of befuddlement that he thinks stem cell research is the same as taking human lives, but that 40,000 dead Iraqi civilians are progress toward democracy."

My favorite quote: "....our very own dreaded Legislature is almost upon us. Jan. 9 and they'll all be here, leaving many a village without its idiot." .

I know I have been an absentee blogger, bad Jim!

Many things have been happening that have required my time and attention.

One of those things is my on-going attempt to make improvements to my house and yard, and the Lake Board resistance.

The later skirmish has been about installing a gazebo on the west side of my house, on the vacant lot that I own. I obtained the building permit from the City and then submitted an application for an 'unattached building' variance to the Lake Board building committee. This application had to subsequently go to the full Board for a vote.

What follows is the rapid exchange of emails that took place yesterday. AAAAA is the president of the Lake Board, MMMM is the head of the building committee, XXXXX is a member of the building committee (who shares a street address and phone number with the Lake Board president, they have different last names so I don't know if they are married or not). Specific neighbor lives next door. Jim is, well, me. The comments I added to the emails for my attorney are in brackets. Enjoy:

Annotated Emails from 1/30/2007

Subject: gazebo

From: Jim

Date: 11:42 AM


AAAAAA -- did the Board vote on my gazebo permit, I have not heard back from MMMMM -- Thanks -- Jim



Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:08 PM

To: XXXXX, Jim

Subject: FW: gazebo

AAAAA -- did the Board vote on my gazebo permit, I have not heard back from MMMMM -- Thanks -- Jim



Date: 3:36 PM

To: Jim, xxx

Cc: xxxxx, xxx

xx, xxx wrote:

Jim - MMMMM brought your request to the Board last night. Your request for a variance to allow for installation of the gazebo was denied. Board members recalled several other variance requests denied in the past for similar structures. The majority of Board members feel strongly that it is important to avoid the president [sic] for issuing variances unless there is strong compelling reason to do so.

Please let me know if there is anything else we can help you with!


Executive Vice President

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Inc.


St. Louis, MO 63103



From: Jim

Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:57 PM


Subject: Re: gazebo

The by-laws require that the Board maintain a permanent file of actions regarding building requests. Please let me know where that file is kept and how I obtain access to it.

The criteria in the by-lays are:

one unattached building per lot.

one level.

square foot min and max.

distance from property lines.

construction materials.

Please refer me to the provision in the by-laws upon which the Board relied, as I can find no provision related to "compelling reason" or to broad Board discretion. Also please include the name and address of the Board's registered agent as required by the Illinois General Not for Profit Act.




Date: 4:11 PM

To: Jim, xxxxxx

Cc: xxxxxx, xxxxxxxx

XXXXX wrote:

Please see provision 18 of the restrictions. AAAAA is the registered agent.


From: Jim

Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 4:19 PM


Subject: Re: gazebo

The criteria that is listed are from 18, there is no provision in 18 for addition criteria to be considered by the Board.



Date: 4:22 PM

To: Jim

XXXXX wrote:

Jim - I am at work but I believe there is language in 18 that says no unattached buildings are allowed in rear yards that are attached to the lake.

[NOTE: The restriction says " the back yard of any dwelling adjoining the lake."]


From: Jim

Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 4:32 PM


Subject: Re: gazebo

it's not in the rear of the house, it's in the side yard of a VACANT LOT

[NOTE: This awkward response was the result of result of my quick editing of my reply, deleting portions arising from (1) my exasperation that the "reason" for the decline of the request had now changed (2) plus my even greater exasperation from the fact that XXXX as a member of the building committee was here for the site inspection. She could see that the proposed gazebo was going to be on the vacant lot next to my house and not in any sense between the lake and the house or even past the house on the lot on which the house sits -- and she was told at that time that I used the back wall of the house to determine the center point of the gazebo so it would balance the east wing of the house which extends ten feet past the west corner. It is also very important to note that my application for the variance refers to building a gazebo “on the vacant lot next to my home.” Likewise, the required site plan included with the request shows the gazebo on the vacant lot with the lot line clearly prominent. If this was a problem, there was over a month in which I could have simply moved the proposed site back four feet had I been so informed. (The original proposal, which was used for the site inspection, was for a 12 foot gazebo, placing six feet past the edge of the house on the adjoining lot. I realized after the site inspection that the 12-foot model had too many square feet according to the Restrictions and on my on initiative submitted a modified proposal for the 8-foot model.) It is unclear why, if this protrusion past the house was in fact a problem, the permit could not have been conditionally approved]



Date: 4:52 PM

To: Jim

XXXXX wrote:

I don't think it can be a side yard (side yard to what?) and a vacant lot at the same time. It is a lot contiguous to your dwelling and I believe the proposed structure location crosses the line that would be created by extending the line of the rear wall of your house. Jim, you cannot imagine the grief the Board takes on these matters. I would be happy to have the Board attorney review this situation. I also think it would benefit you to get letters from affected neighbors i.e. [specific neighbor] and the owner(s) across the street from you indicating they would approve your plan.

[NOTE: I regret any grief caused to the Board but I am at a complete loss to figure out how I could have so caused any. I followed the rules and the provision of the Restrictions precisely and corrected my proposal when I realized that it exceeded one of the stated criteria.]


From: Jim

Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 5:09 PM


Subject: Re: gazebo

so the Board would approve the gazebo if I have a letter from specific neighbor?



Date: 5:14 PM

To: Jim

No-I am saying that it would be more convincing if your surrounding neighbors including the family across the street whose view of the lake will be impaired by the construction of a gazebo at the location you have proposed have no objections.

[The homes of both neighbors in question are waterfront; they are in no way dependent upon my lot for their views of the lake. In the case of the person named, his view can only be described as panoramic not even taking into account what part of the lake he might see across my property. The proposed gazebo would be eight feet wide on a lot that is 110 feet wide. The phrase “more convincing” seems incredibly ambiguous given the exchange to this point has been about “strong compelling reasons” and keeping the gazebo out of a backyard.]

[NOTE: Requiring a "strong compelling reason" is simply not supported by any provision in the Restrictions. Moving the gazebo back four feet so that no part of it extends past the edge of the house, would not create a "strong compelling reason" -- physically moving a gazebo a few feet does not provide it with a compelling reason for existing. To even suggest that is illogical. The same is even truer of the very notion of requiring letters from the neighbors. There exists no provision at any place in the Restrictions that even suggests that such a thing be required of a land owner nor is there any right given to unobstructed views of the lake (except for shrubs on parkway). Likewise, neither the neutrality, advocacy, nor objections of any neighbor would in any way, conceptually, logically, or legally, create the elusive "strong compelling reason" which the Board seemingly capriciously requires.]

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I like someone who can hold a grduge...

Bumper sticker I saw on a car today: "Still pi$$ed at Yoko."

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Damn, I invested in stocks and bonds.

Kool Aid is $23 a pound?


In making the switch to the new blogger, I've lost the ability to comment on comments. I'm working on a fix.

Friday, January 26, 2007


The Orioles signed Jamie Walker away from the Tigers with a three-year, $12 million contract.

Detroit closer Todd Jones, noting Walker’s Tennessee heritage, wondered how his former teammate would handle his newfound wealth:

“Twelve million dollars is a lot of money, but $12 million in Tennessee? He might as well be Donald Trump,” Jones told the Detroit Free Press. “That’s a lot of generic-brand beer, and a lot of NASCAR tickets.

“You know how many fishing lures you can buy at Wal-Mart with $12 million?”

SOURCE: Jeff Gordon, St. Louis Post Dispatch

Thursday, January 25, 2007

You never see a baby pigeon...

Because they do not leave the nest until they're fully grown.

The same is usually true of stop signs, but I spotted this juvenile and snapped its picture. Notice that it's playing in the street.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

One of nature's wonders!

The Comet McNaught close up?

The surface of Mars?

A deep-space object hurling towards earth?

Actually, my thumb on the camera lens!

Why gas prices are going down, why gas prices will go back up. UPDATED

What used to be called the Navel Oil Reserves are now called the Strategic Petroleum Reserves. It's a bunch of crude oil stored in salt caverns, mostly in Texas and Louisiana. The government has started to buy 100K barrels of crude a day to bring the stockpile up to current capacity of 727 million barrels. Last night, the present announced plans to raise capacity to 1.5 million barrels.

Rather than being used for strategic purposes, the oil is mostly lent to oil companies for some specific reason (e.g., pipeline break someplace). The oil companies are allowed to replace the oil they "borrow" with oil, even if the price of oil has declined.

This seems to be how it works: we import oil, we produce oil, when imports exceed what we need, the government buys some of what we produce for the reserves.

US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced today that the Government would soon start buying 100,000 barrels of oil a day to fill the stockpile to its present capacity of 727 million barrels. This caused crude oil prices to have their biggest gain since the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in September 2005. Futures prices in benchmark West Texas crude oil rose $US2.46, or 4.7 per cent, to $US55.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In more simpler time, before the strategic reserves, oil prices were controlled by the Texas Railroad Commission which set an allowable, the percentage of its capacity that an oil well in Texas was allowed to produce each month.

Oddly, we have essentially no strategic reserves of gasoline, heating oil, or jet fuel. We also have no emergency or excess refining capacity and no new refineries have been constructed in the US for thirty years.

UPDATE -- In the time it took me to write this, gas went up $.20 locally.

Still the 'Land of Opportunity'

" While Asian-Americans account for 5 percent of the population in the United States, they account for greater numbers at prestigious institutions like Harvard (18 percent), Stanford (24 percent) and the University of California, Berkeley (46 percent). At Princeton, they accounted for 13 percent of the undergraduate student body last year, and make up 14 percent of the current freshman class."

Monday, January 22, 2007

If ever there was a sign that you should buy a Lotto ticket

A 29-year-old man who was apparently drunk and horsing around with some friends crashed through a window and fell 17 stories at the downtown Minneapolis Hyatt Regency early Saturday morning.

His most severe injury? A broken leg.

The man, identified by a police report as Joshua Hanson, landed on a roof overhang near the hotel's main entrance.

"Hail at 3:33 PM bewteen 28th and 33rd Streets"

The frequent weather forecast "Rain after midnight" has always amused me. How does the rain know when it's midnight -- clocks in church steeples perhaps?

We had snow over the weekend. The forecast was for snow "north of I-44 in Missouri and I-70 in Illinois." How does snow know where an Interstate is, and why would it care?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Miracles and Mysteries in Missouri

I have had a couple emails about this so I thought I would answer using a post.

Those of you who check the locations of your visitors (using SiteMeter or other service) know that when I'm in Missouri my "location" shows up as "Beaufort" (bu-fort). This is the same Beaufort where 13-year-old Ben Ownby disappeared after getting off of a school bus. Unless you have been living in a cave for the past week, you know that Ben and Shawn Hornbeck (who had been missing for 4 1/2 years) were both found in Kirkwood, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

I do have four first-cousins who live in the Beaufort area, but my mother was one of 13 children so my first cousins in general pretty much blanket eastern Missouri. When I am in Missouri, however, I am not anywhere close to Beaufort. I'm in the same county, but it's a really big county. I have no idea why the location shows up as Beaufort except that it must have something to do with how Charter Cable has its system wired.

In case you are trying to figure out why Shawn did not try to escape, you might want to read this news story about
Steven Stayner, who was kidnapped in 1972 when he was seven. His case also involves the eventual taking of a second boy, which actually led to their rescue.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Will you just never listen????

Drink Less!
Get New Friends!
Hide the Super Glue!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Its'called overcompensating

Came out of grocery store.
Got in my car.
Looked out windshield.
This was not an optical illusion -- the bumper on that damn thing is as high as my hood.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Things I know but cannot prove

The official color of the paint used for the Effie Tower is Cognac Brown.

There are no Interstates 50 and 60 because it was thought Missourians would confuse them with US50 and US60.

"Christmas" is mispronounced [kris-muhs] because the English didn't add a "h" to "Christ" until the 1700's.

Barry Goldwater ran for President in 1964 against LBJ. If he had won, some believe he could not have served since he was born in the Arizona Territory and not in a state. The issue might arise again, since John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone to U.S. parents.

Native Americans are related more closely genetically to the northern Chinese than the northern Chinese are to the southern Chinese.

When he was the financial adviser and reportedly lover of actress Gloria Swanson, Joe Kennedy showered her with expensive jewelry. It was later discovered that he had charged all of the gifts to her accounts. This is where the expression 'having your cake and eating it to' originated.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Who are our favorite people?

Of course, it's the nuts, err enthusiasts, who jump into icy water on New Year's Day. Calling themselves "Polar Bears" makes it less crazy, yeh sure.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Canada! Healthy Climate! Free Schools! Rising Dphthongs!

Canadians apparently celebrate Christmas and News Years, like Thanksgiving, at different times than the rest of us. I'm not sure when their Christmas is but my calendar says this is their New Year's Eve. So to Ken of Toronto and our other Canadian friends "Happy New Year" and a Prosperous 2007" or whatever year it's going to be up there! I have been buying insulated clothes and learning their language for my trip up there in the Spring. Here is a site that has been a lot of help!
Happy New Year, eh?
(Translation: "happy new year, isn't it?")

Measure your Sex ID

It's from the BBC so you will need a ruler that measures mm (no, that's not what their measuring!). It takes a little time so you'll probably want to do it at work.

Click HERE to begin.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I want my school tax money back. Part 243

Rooty and I just went to McDonald's for lunch. I asked the 20-something guy at the pay-window if Crystal was there. She is the manager and a good friend. He said he didn't know and then turned and hollered into the store "Crystal she ain't here is she?"

A REALLY bad way to start the new year!

Deckchair trapped testicles

A Croatian man got a nasty surprise when he tried to get out of his deck chair and found his testicles had got stuck.

Mario Visnjic had gone swimming naked in the sea at the Valalta beach in western Croatia, reports 24sata.

His testicles had shrunk while in the cool sea and slipped through the wooden slats when he sat back down on his wooden deckchair.

But as he lay in the sun they expanded back to normal size and got stuck between the slats.

He was eventually freed after he called beach maintenance services on his mobile phone and they sent a member of staff to cut the deck chair in half.