Monthly Archives: March 2014

Radiation ain’t all that bad

sunflower asbestosHi readers.

I saw a movie on Netflix named, Pandora’s Promise.  It was interviews with all manner of people who used to be against nuclear power plants, but changed their minds.  ‘Good’ environmentalists, mostly.

Their logic is that they were duped by other ‘Bad’ environmentalists into thinking nuclear power plants were bad and dangerous, but that not all that many people died from Chernobyl, and not all that many are dying from Fukushima.  And that most of the time nukes are cleaner than coal and don’t kill as many people.

These ‘Good’ Environmentalists understand that without nuclear power they can’t do anything about climate change, which of course, they haven’t been duped by Bad Environmentalists about.  All that stuff about health consequences of radiation exposure was BS.  Bad Science.  Whereas, everything about climate change is GOOD science.  “How dare they,” one pro-nuclear environmentalist shouts of climate change ‘deniers’, “Deny SCIENCE?  This isn’t the DARK ages.”

Convincing movie.  Leads me to think we were all duped a lot earlier than that, back when the USSR was making such a nuisance of itself.  We could have bombed those people back to the stone age if we’d never had our heads confused about fallout shelters, genetic drift, mutants, nuclear winter and all the rest.  Hell, if someone had told us the only thing we had to worry about was the blast, EMP, shockwaves rolling around knocking things down, firestorms, hell, I think we’re all big enough we could have handled that.

What Fukushima actually proves is they’re spending way too much money building safety features into those nuclear power plants.  Those they had didn’t help, and when the whole thing went south it just hasn’t been all that bad.

Plus there are a lot of people alive today who wouldn’t be if we hadn’t let ourselves be duped into believing getting nuked would be a bad thing because of radioactive fallout.

It’s a heartbreaker.

Old Jules

 

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The mysterious Kansas parrot fetish

Reminds me a bit of a 1950s song, "Poor Little Robin," "Walkin' walkin' walkin to Missouri."  But this ain't a robin.

Reminds me a bit of a 1950s song, “Poor Little Robin,” “Walkin’ walkin’ walkin to Missouri.” But this ain’t a robin.

Hi readers.  I dunno.  The Kansas State Bird is the Western Meadowlark.  Don’t even bother suggesting that’s what it’s all about.

But all over Kansas City and the surrounding area a person will see that damned cartoon character parrot.  Bumperstickers, flags in yards, even on gravestones.

Occasionally a person will see the word, “Jayhawk” associated with the damned parrot.  A jayhawk isn’t, I believe, an actual bird, so much as a Civil War pejorative used by people with long memories referring to the Kansas-version of the Missouri ‘bushwhackers’.  Irregulars, citizen soldiers using the excuse of war and hatred to rape loot and plunder anyone who disagreed with them.

I don’t think this is a jayhawk.  I think it’s a hell-of-a-lot more likely it’s a damned robin walking to Missouri, and the people displaying it aren’t happy with gasoline being so much cheaper just across the State boundary.

But what the hell do I know?

Old Jules

Hobo Hilton highs for homeless

Opaque windows on all four sides at all levels to allow both privacy and lights are only one of the imaginary, unique, compassionate features.

Opaque windows on all four sides at all levels to allow both privacy and lights are only one of the imaginary, unique, compassionate features.

Hi readers:

When the tsunami of Chinese [and other Asian imports] spawned hobo-jungles of unemployed US workers a lot of us believed it was an ill-wind that blew no good.  However, what we couldn’t have anticipated was the new birth and rejuvenation of the US railroads to deliver those goods to consumers who still had jobs.

As you see in the photo the nearby dumpster provides easy diving as well as convenient disposal of garbage accumulations for community volunteers policing the area.  Note also the 'donation' bin located middle right.  Nearby residents are thereby able to voluntarily dispose of items of their own choosing rather than having things stolen willy-nilly from their vehicles and homes.  A pad located at the donation bin informs residents of the high-rise of who is contributing, and who is not carrying part of the load voluntarily.

As you see in the photo the nearby dumpster provides easy diving as well as convenient disposal of garbage accumulations for community volunteers policing the area. Note also the ‘donation’ bin located middle left. Nearby residents are thereby able to voluntarily dispose of items of their own choosing rather than having things stolen willy-nilly from their vehicles and homes. A pad located at the donation bin informs residents of the high-rise of who is contributing, and who is not carrying part of the load voluntarily.

The logjam automobiles at train crossings caused by new rail freight traffic forced many cities to elevate tracks inside the metropolitan areas.  Unfortunately the consequence was to displace hundreds of dispossessed workers living in hobo jungles.

The Kansas City Metro area, concerned for the welfare of their homeless population and inadequate available shelters during inclement weather, chose to devote resources to a long-term solution.  Based on the assumption US consumers would never again be able to produce anything but hamburgers to sell to one another and jobs  involving the transport, storage, unloading and sales of Asian products, they [the Kansans] built long-term.

Every elevated railroad intersection has a multi-story Hobo Hilton providing warmth, privacy, a place to relax where they  can be easily located and rounded up for police lineups when nearby neighborhoods fail to use the donation-bin with sufficient enthusiasm.

Asian products are fundamentally responsible for this one more demonstration of compassion so typical of US citizens and local governments.  When conditions change, Americans reach out and respond to help other Americans instead of only giving only lip-service “WE WILL NEVER FORGET” promises and self-congratulatory flag-waving.

It’s a warm fuzzy just seeing it.

Old Jules

Post-Pyramidial and Post-Mass-Grave grave concerns

21st Century cemeteries mostly require stones to be flat with the ground and uniform in size to allow only a name and birth/death dates.  However, this sign outside Andrews, Texas offers a potential solution for communities everywhere.  A single stone the size of the Vietnam Memorial Wall telling everything the people in the cemetery believed would be a huge benefit.

21st Century cemeteries mostly require stones to be flat with the ground and uniform in size to allow only a name and birth/death dates. However, this sign outside Andrews, Texas offers a potential solution for communities everywhere. A single stone the size of the Vietnam Memorial Wall telling everything the people in the cemetery believed would be a huge benefit.

Hi readers:

The grave markers depicted here are located in the Olathe, Kansas, Desoto, Kansas and Lawrence, Kansas [Oak Hill] cemeteries.  Lawrence is probably best remembered for the Quantrill raid and massacre of the men and boys of the town slaughtered by Quantrill’s Irregulars during the Civil War.  The town was burned to the ground and most of those killed are buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in a mass grave.

Hand signs and finger signs decorate the surface of a lot of gravestones around here.  Pointing upward, sideways, down fingers, etc.  I'm guessing some might be secret society signs of one sort or another.  However, Jeanne tells me this one is a 'deaf person' sign.

Hand signs and finger signs decorate the surface of a lot of gravestones around here. Pointing upward, sideways, down fingers, etc. I’m guessing some might be secret society signs of one sort or another. However, Jeanne tells me this one is a ‘deaf person’ sign.

cable grave

This stone and the one below have been selected by geographers to serve a dual-purpose. Initially they both merely marked the location of buried telephone cables, as noted on the orange tape. But later circumstance conspired to make them useful as markers for human burial locations as well.

Phone cable memorial marker

Limestone or marble markers are probably inexpensive, but they are prone to become unreadable in a century, century-and-a-half. The stone dissolves in acid rain, accumulates lichens and moss, and break more easily than granite, steel, or wood of most types. This is unworthy of concern unless the people placing the stone intend the grave to be identifiable over a period longer than a few decades.

bookout

A person who went through life being called by the name, King David Bookout, probably won’t object to large granite stone sitting above him a few centuries afterward. Nothing any stranger says while looking at the stone generations later is likely to be original. It all got said while he was alive.

sitar or oud teachout

Patricia Ann evidently played the oud or sitar during her life and someone considered it enough a part of her to be noted on the stone. The name Teachout would be less intriguing if the grave were located further from that of King David Bookout. A Bookout buried 50-100 feet from a Teachout seems more coincidence than needed in death.

Finding a purpose in death isn't necessarily easier than finding a worthy one in life.  Vernon Robert Phillips elected to use his to advertise Harley Davidson Motorcycles.

Finding a purpose in death isn’t necessarily easier than finding a worthy one in life. Vernon Robert Phillips elected to use his to advertise Harley Davidson Motorcycles.

This touching marker manages to convey the anguish of the surviving family.  Probably it's actually what graveyards and gravestones are all about, or at least something valid they are about.

This touching marker manages to convey the anguish of the surviving family. Probably it’s actually what graveyards and gravestones are all about, or at least something valid they are about.

Here's an example of what happens to limestone when it's utilized as burial marking material.  Fortunately there's nothing on the stone to suggest anything was worth remembering about Wheeler Green anyway.

Here’s an example of what happens to limestone when it’s utilized as burial marking material. Fortunately there’s nothing on the stone to suggest anything was worth remembering about Wheeler Green anyway.

Another emotional demonstration of whatever causes human beings to want grave markers and graves as a piece of their lives.

Another emotional demonstration of whatever causes human beings to want grave markers and graves as a piece of their lives.

Sharon Snow Fogarty is evidently still alive, but she knows how she wants to be remembered: "She never met an animal she didn't like."

Sharon Snow Fogarty is evidently still alive, but she knows how she wants to be remembered: “She never met an animal she didn’t like.”

The elaborate grave-marker phenomenon spans cultural boundaries.

The elaborate grave-marker phenomenon spans cultural boundaries.

If those people killed in the Quantrill raid had survived they might have accomplished great things.  Some might have been able to be part of the Wounded Knee incident.  As the song says, “Only the good die young.”

Old Jules

Photos VA Chapel and Weston, MO house courtesy of Jeanne

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Possumly Jesse James, or a Younger or Dalton or someone else lived here, or visited here, or rode a horse by the place and gazed at it as he/she went by.

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!895 Chapel for VA Center at Fort Leavenworth in seriously bad repair. Protestant downstairs, Catholic further downstairs though the signs are somewhat misleading. No harm in a protestant attending Mass or a Catholic racking up some fire and brimstone occasionally, I reckons.

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Interesting stained glass work. Dunno whether it’s Catholic or the other one.

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Gargoyles are shared equally by Catholics and Protestants.

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The VA hospital environment surrounding this seems obliquely appropriate.

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The metalwork on those doors is probably symbolic of something, but everyone who once knew what it was is dead.

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This end of the building is in bad repair threatening collapse in places, but ain’t likely to get any better.

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Directly across the street from the chapel. It’s been through a long series of declines and repairs but we need another World War of considerable duration to bring it back to full bloom. Need to conscript all these young houdilums and get them on track to need a place such as this.

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The sign above the door reads, THE DUGOUT and can still be made out with a bit of squinting. I’m thinking it was a club for the people going through treatment, might have been used as recently as the Vietnam War.

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The Dugout

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Weston, MO and Leavenworth, KS

Gertude Derks Consort of the late Bartholomew Bless - Born March 5, 1824 - Died February 23, 1892 - Requested in peace

Gertude Derks Consort of the late Bartholomew Bless – Born March 5, 1824 – Died February 23, 1892 – Requested in peace

it's cut onto the side of a stone for someone else.  Bart Bless Sr. is nowhere to be found in the vicinity.  However, the son and daughter-in-law, or perhaps grandson, is buried 20-30 feet away.

it’s cut onto the side of a stone for someone else. Bart Bless Sr. is nowhere to be found in the vicinity. However, the son and daughter-in-law, or perhaps grandson, is buried 20-30 feet away.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Jeanne’s got spring break from her daytime job this week, and my electronic brain I use for a heart these days is defragmenting.  So Jeanne’s taking this occasion to show me around some KS/MO sightseeing Mecca places.  Likely as not there’ll be all manner of highbrow cultural stuff, but yesterday it was Weston, MO [all of it that didn’t burn down in 1859, or has been built since the town burned down], and Leavenworth, KS.

That tombstone at the top was in the Weston graveyard and said so much about Weston, humanity, the history of the human race, ethics, morals, compassion, and other matters we could have stopped and I’d have used it as a launchpad for this blog entry, waxed poetic and philosophical until I was sated.

But we didn’t stop there.  We went to the overlook in Weston State Park and looked, me breathlessly, at the mighty Missouri River flowing below.  Read the initials carved inside various hearts carved on trees back when the world was young.  Looked at old barns and whatnot.

Then drove across the river to Leavenworth.  Visited the only old timey Army Surplus Store in Christiandom carrying on the tradition of old odors of mildew, ’98 Mauser bolt action rifles, coal scuttle helmets, and clever posters about huns and loose lips sinking ships.

Afterward we drove to the VA Hospital, discovered a 600 acre ghost town of memories of US military veteran aches, pains, and infirmities.  Heck of an interesting place.

By which time I was worn down to a small frazzle.  We didn’t visit the National Cemetery.

But today after she worked half-day on her usually  night job she took me to see the Westport battleground.  Biggest Civil War battlefield west of the Mississippi River.   Covered with houses and large other sorts of buildings built between Appomattox doings and now.

Just driving around that 53 square mile battlefield looking at all the houses wore me down to a small frazzle.

Luckily, tomorrow I’m going in bright and early for another eccocardiogram, chest xrays, blood lab work and something else I can’t remember right now.  At the OTHER VA Medical Center nearby somewhat.  The one that didn’t lose the Spanish American War.

Old Jules

Ex Post Facto: The retroactive waltz of point-men and snipers

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I finally got to see a primary care physician in that KC VA Medical Center.

KC VA Med Ctr

I arrived early and put my defibrillator to the test carrying a 20# daypack 150 yards across that parking lot, up the hill to the entrance, and a quarter-mile of heroesque hallways.  Registered and waited around a comfy area filled with old vets.

At which point life became a hoot.

Jeeze we veterans are a bunch of liars!  And we all know it, but remain silent on the issue so’s when our turn comes all the the others will nod sagely and pretend we aren’t just blowing pure unmitigated horse manure back and forth at one another.

So here in this Hero Hall you’ve got close to a hundred of us, maybe a third wearing VIETNAM VET, or some other VETERAN nuanced headgear.  And roughly a third of those are talking in loudmouthed indignation about something a first sergeant did or said forty years ago in a different country.

Meanwhile the other 2/3 wearing the Veteran caps nod and wait patiently for that vocally active third to finish or pause for a breath so’s they can cut in and tell what some first sergeant did or said to THEM forty years ago in some foreign land.

Those of us not wearing Veteran headgear listen deadpan, saying nothing, doing nothing to break the spell of dramatic fantasies, of young men who never existed prowling through the jungles of our imaginary youths doing and saying courageous things for the betterment of mankind and Freedom.

“Hell man,” I muttered to the guy sitting next to me, “I must be the only person here who wandered Asia trying to get a dose of clap, never met a hero.  Never sacrificed a damned thing in the service of this country.  I can’t recall a first sergeant ever knowing I was alive.”

The guy smiled at me.  “Not me.  I was an Air Force Sniper working out of the finance office in Danang.  Spent the whole time killing zipperheads except when I was in an office doing payrolls.”

About then a nurse called my name and I trekked breathlessly back to see a physician.  He hadn’t received all my med records from the recent hospital stay, so we’re starting all over.  Got an EKG, Lab [blood] work, complete stomach sonogram, and XRays to get out of the way brand spanking new before I can be seen by a VA cardiologist.  He says they can’t get the records from the Olathe Medical Center work because the VA computer is connected to the National Defense computer system, which might be compromised if they allowed outside data to be transmitted into it.

So they’ll just have to do it all again.  Though if I go over to Olathe Med Ctr. and get them to photocopy everything and carry it along when I see the cardiologist he figures the specialist might look through it if I provide it that method and that context.  Maybe.

So at least I’ve got some things I can do to improve my health this week, picking up those records at Olathe Med, going over to KC MO VA for all that expensive medical testing I’ve donealready had, getting it again so’s to be able to see a cardiologist.

Confidence raising, being able to do something uncharacteristically positive.

Somehow it’s vaguely reminescent of back when I was an infantry point man and sniper in the US Army in a country I never had the pleasure to visit.

Old Jules