December 31, 2004
You Will Be There In Seconds

Some days on my way to work I walk past the new luxury high-rise being built on Chicago Avenue. The building is named, coincidentally or not, after a famous Chicago religious figure and the scaffolding over the sidewalk is lined with Burma-Shave style signs touting the building's upcoming perks. "Turn around now/you will be there/in seconds," the last few read. I always wonder as I walk by because currently there's no "there" to be at, except as defined by the presence of heavy machinery.

At the same time as I write this it is already a new year in the next time zone over, and by the time anyone reads this it will most likely be 2005 everywhere. A new year sounds pretty good to me, doesn't it to you? Turn around now, you will be there in seconds.

Posted at 11:12 PM
December 30, 2004
These Girls

I have had this photo on my desk for a while, and it never fails to make me smile. Hopefully E. won't mind, as that's his mother in the middle. They rule, these girls, in their rolled-up jeans, penny loafers, and saddle shoes.

The date on this photo is May 30, 1950. It's one of the summers my mother-in-law spent as a camp counselor at Glen Eyrie farm in Wisconsin. We know this because we have found all her letters from that period, faithfully sent every week on blue notepaper emblazoned with her name and that of the camp. A quick scan leaves us with accounts of cookouts and swimming, but no explanation of this photo. The letters don't start until late June 1950, so maybe this was some kind of orientation picnic ahead of time.

Some thirty years later, I would have died rather than go to summer camp. It seemed like the worst thing that could possibly happen to me. But these girls make it look like fun.

Posted at 02:14 PM
December 24, 2004

Seasons' greetings from KittyJoyce Headquarters, where even inanimate objects join in the fun.

Posted at 09:19 AM
December 16, 2004
The Numbers

Just to run the numbers here: Say that I get four colds a year. (We are on cold #4 this week, alas.) Each cold lasts about two weeks.* So that's eight weeks--TWO MONTHS A YEAR--that I spend sick. (And how much over a lifetime? Forget it, I don't want to know.) And yet I only take a handful of sick days each year. The rest of the time I am slogging away, powered largely by decongestants. Imagine, all that productivity thanks to modern OTC drugs! This leads me to think that perhaps instead of being sponsored by Fanta, my daily life should be sponsored by Sudafed.

*This sounds extreme, but it is actually a huge improvement over my childhood, which seems in retrospect to have been one long ear infection.

Posted at 07:09 PM
December 07, 2004
Pink Mansions

Pretty decent piece about Hoosier songster John Mellencamp and the recent backlash to his politics. To give it Beltway relevance, strange bedfellow Evan Bayh suggests the singer might have political aspirations, but JM says it ain't so (in a roundabout way): "Nah," the rock star says, exhaling a plume of smoke. "My wife wouldn't let us move to a smaller house."

Posted at 06:20 PM
December 06, 2004
"I Never Got an Apology"

As previously noted, I don't make the stuff up, I just report it...

On the train, sat across from two nondescript middle-aged people. The man is reporting gleefully: "I got a message from (insert name here); he says, thanks, and he'll never use a public restroom again." The mention of (insert name here) aggravates the woman, who launches into a speech about how she doesn't like (insert name here). "He really crossed some inappropriate boundaries about public nudity," she says. The man agrees, and her rant continues; "...and I never got an apology," is its apex. They continue to look out the darkened window, side by side like matching salt and pepper shakers. She is frowning slightly; he looks completely blank.

Posted at 06:41 PM
December 02, 2004
Homeowner Adrift

Reasons to hope for a better 05 at KJ headquarters:
1. Upstairs neighbor's dog, which is barking right now as I type this, and which has also taken, inexplicably, to barking at 4 a.m.
2. It's freeeeezing. For some reason, after eight Chicago winters, I am still flinching and shivering--not just outside, but also inside, as we take root in yet another of a series of large-windowed, hard-wood-floored, drafty homes. The space heater is my new best friend.
3. Strange things have started to break in the house, in ways that I neither know how to fix nor know who to call to fix them. The ceiling fan light fixture, for instance, which eats light bulbs for breakfast and plunges half the room into pre-solstice darkness. And then for really ambitious projects, there's KJ's Bloomington branch, aka "Squatter's Inn," where we ponder installing floors and removing wallpaper, in a house where we don't live, 200 miles from here.

I turn, in desperation, to the Internet--where, if I can't find answer to my exact questions, I am reassured that there are many people out there who are just as clueless as me.

Various links of interest:
All about radiant heating, which we have in Bloomington and which I wish to god we had in Chicago.

The ins and outs of duct work, which can make rooms too cold.

Miscellaneous home repair hints. Also, more here.

The WaPo Home Sense chats every other week may prove helpful. The Nov. 11 installment covers installing flooring and removing wallpaper.

Who am I kidding, I barely know a hammer from a screwdriver. Hardier homeowners may take on repairs themselves, but as this article states, it's always good to know when to retreat and call in the pros.

Posted at 07:32 PM
December 01, 2004
This Is Grand

Tired of hearing about imminent CTA service cuts (what, no Santa train)? A more fun spin on Chicago public transit can be found here. I particularly liked this poem. (Via GB)

Posted at 06:46 PM