31 August 2008

Kids Make You Weak and Dumb

After more than a few years of parenting, we have come to the conclusion that kids have indeed changed our lives in two unexpected ways:

Fathers made weak. I completely related to Michelle Obama talking about driving home from the hospital with a newborn, and driving 15MPH. The day that tiny life was put in my hands I changed from a typical teenager in a middle-aged body who liked action flicks with lots of shooting to a guy who got tears in his eyes when he saw a dog get hit by a car. Life really did become more precious to me. I had never been afraid of heights, but now my heart jumps thinking the kids might fall. I now drive slower and climb ladders more carefully. I worry about everything.

Mothers made dumb. My wife has a theory that kids make mothers dumb. Their constant interuptions and questions make long complicated thought impossible. Mothers who once were scholars become unable to remember why they walked into a room. All day, every day, for year after year, mothers rarely get time to sit and think. Time to write or even read. When the kids are little, nap time is the time to do laundry. If you have more kids, then nap time doesn't matter, because one of them is always awake, unless you stay up later than them and rise earlier than them, but that results in lack of sleep and even more tired brains.

29 August 2008

Closing Toilets on FS Huge Mistake

3CDC's decision to drastically limit the hours that the toilets are open on Fountain Square is a huge mistake. Moving them from their formerly underground dingy location was one of the best parts about the redesign of the square. I saw this story on local TV news last night, and I couldn't believe it! I predict that management will cave under pressure, and re-open them. This is a terrible decision for those of us with little kids.

Drop Inn Center Spruce Up

Volunteer have changed the DIC from yellow to green over the past 2 weeks:

Front courtyard, possibly to be expanded:

Mostly vacant building to West:


Spinal Tap House Whisperer Architect

Friday Humour:
"...Oh yeah, we work with sound; mostly for clearing, rebalancing, I use use pshychic geometry in the aetheric fields...this changes people's lives in their houses..." ...Say what?-Christian Kyriacou

28 August 2008

Forgetting a Child is a Crime

Mother's lives are hectic. Even if you are a stay-at-home mother of one, it is hard to keep on top of daily errands. Add on top of that another child, a full time job, a 20 minute commute, car maintenance, daycare arrangements, house payments, packing lunches, music lessons, homework, etc etc, and a mother quickly becomes overloaded.

I forget things all the time. Heck, I had to jump my car this morning because I left the lights on. Trust me, I know what it is to be forgetful. But, I know what my limits are, and I know for example that I cannot take-on freelance work these years when the kids are small. Each of our small decisions each day build upon each other to build our total life. We make decisions about whether we should eat fast food or a home-prepared meal, we decide how far to live from work, how many hours to work, how big of a house we can afford, watch TV or read a book, play with kids or do your taxes. And I don't want to forget to mention that these decisions are often made by both parents, and the fathers also share responsiblity here.

Both the Slaby and Edwards case were mothers apparently starting back to work after spending summer with their kids. Both worked full time. Both live in upper middle class neighborhoods far from their work. Both had SUVs with high seat backs that have more distance between the kids and the driver. Both had jobs in which they educate other people's children. To me, it is a cumulative effect of slightly bad decisions that put things or career ahead of their own children. Each is a small decision, but they added up to a scattered mind and a tragic accident. An accident that is a crime that should be prosecuted.

In the past 10 years, about 340 children have died of the heat after becoming trapped inside vehicles, according to an Associated Press analysis made in July. Prosecution and resulting penalties have varied widely.

Charges were filed in a little less than half the deaths. Of those that went to trial, 81 percent resulted in convictions or guilty pleas, and half of those brought jail sentences.
The NAACP believes that black mothers in similar situations have been charged. Nate Livingston said the same last year. I think I agree. Some mothers may have known the child was in the car, but thought they would be OK. To me, the distinction between neglect and forgetfulness is the same as that between one big bad decision and many smaller bad decisions. Both result in a dead baby, and both should be prosecuted. ...At least take it to court and make the case.

Yer Yer Yee

Random graffitti, signage and stickers:

NaSi Sticker:

Reds and Powerhouse Factory Designs:

No Exit. I like how it is underlined:

Ezzard Charles Apartments Facelift

Lots of "sculpture" and primary colors recently added to this apartment complex at Ezzard Charles Drive and Winchell/I-75:


Site plan from the Auditor's site demonstrates the mid-century modern planning of the buildings:

[Where: 850 Ezzard Charles Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45203]

SCPA Progress Photos

Viewed from the SE, at Race and Central Parkway:

Close-up of the Race Street side:

You can see here the exterior design shapes. Three stories are rectalinear then the 4th floor is curved. There is a break in the massing down the right side (Race Street)as well as a one-story bump-out at the first floor:

View from Elm at the YMCA. Stage is to the left and the curving classrooms along Central Parkway to the right:

Stage left. Here you can see the stage proscenium is the tallest steel. The ramping floor for the seating is to the right. To the left is the future wall along Elm Street.

27 August 2008

Tennis at Lincoln Rec Center

Just to the south of the Jet In, there is a public tennis court. It doesn't seem that well-used, but it is decent. I can't get over the fact that the Lincoln Rec Center is never open on Saturdays:

Prisoners Sweeping Still

I've noticed that the Sheriff is still bringing the cleanup crew through OTR, and I appreciate it a lot. A few observations. The guys (they are all men, mostly white) work very hard. No slackers here. I think they are under instruction not to socialize, but they will say hi and "how are you?", which is what this guy said. My response at 7am, half awake was, "I'm ok, better that you I guess" and he chuckled.

My understanding is that it is a voluntary work detail, and that for each hour worked, you get two removed from you time served. Better than lying in a concrete cell...

Fairview Park Photos

Tuesday, a few hours at Fairview Park. The clouds were coming over the hills in a dramatic fashion, and the vegetation is lush despite no rain for weeks:

Old Fairview School, and WGUC tower:

Fairview Park pool, baseball fields, soccer field:

Supper picnic with view of the city:

I-phone takes better pics than most phones, but not as good as a real camera.

26 August 2008

Why Are These Buildings Vacant

I noticed recently that several buildings at the Five Points intersection of McMicken and Vine have been vacated. I couldn't believe this, because I remember when they were newly rehabbed, and it didn't seem that long ago (1992?).

[Where: 1902 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]
Developed by OTR Housing Network. Tax Credit Ownership Managed by Stern Hendy.

Anyone know the story here? Were the rental subsidies only for 15 years? Are there plans to secure them and/or upgrade them?

Other properties that were rehabbed then by the same developers that may also be going vacant: 1636 Main, 1929 and 1930 Vine, 144, 208, 222 Peete, 216, 218, 220 and 228-30 E. Clifton, 202 and 209 Mulberry, 202 Mulberry, 6 Findlay.

Iron Giant this Saturday

I have wanted to see this movie for a long time. I just googled it and found out it is based on a novel by Ted Hughes, which I found suprising. I didn't even know he wrote children's stories. Might be worth checking out the rest of his writing.

Anyway, we will definitely be attending this movie, and would love to meet other families there. Send and email to mike at citykin dot com if you want to meet-up.

We saw Edward Scissorhands last week. I hadn't seen it since it was originally released in 1990. It was better than I remembered, but a bit too mature for little kids, especially the part where the neighbor tries to seduce Edward. They mostly ignored the film and ran around.
Edward Scissorhands suburban scene as seen on FS:

I thought it was interesting that this mother brought a crib to the square for the movie. She was offering face painting, I believe:

Not, "my spoon is too big", but a similar intermission cartoon:

Jet In Market

Believe it or not, this market was open as I took this shot:

[Where: 1210 Linn Street, Cincinnati, OH 45203] Behind Casino Theater at NW corner of Linn and Clark.

25 August 2008

Blog Blahs

I feel this blog has not been up to par lately. My readership, which steadily increased for a year or so, has plateaued and I have felt inhibited in my writing.

I just read a short list entitled, What Makes a Good Blog. I agree with the points and will take them to heart.

New Obama Urbanist

Sen. Obama says his administration would shift urban-policy making to so-called smart-growth strategies that synchronize transportation, commercial and housing needs for entire regions, rather than following the tradition of focusing first on fighting poverty and crime. He would fund $200 million in annual grants to develop "regional clusters," such as the high-technology-focused area known as the Research Triangle in North Carolina…..

Wall Street Journal:
Barack Obama's campaign plans to relaunch his "urban agenda" Monday in what people close to the strategy say is an effort to assure urban leaders and voters of the Democratic nominee's commitment to cities and minorities without alienating skeptical white voters.

The plan features an increase in the minimum hourly wage, a new White House office focused on metropolitan areas and $60 billion to establish a national bank to finance public-works projects.
Michael Coleman, the black mayor of Columbus, Ohio, will lead the discussion Monday before the caucus. A series of town-hall meetings staged in various cities will follow, each led by mayors and other local leaders.

...Sen. McCain hasn't released a formal policy identified as targeting urban issues.

via: Smart Growth America

WiFi at Fountain Square

I have a new G3 Iphone. It was a gift from my dear wife, and I have been figuring out how it works for the past 3 weeks. One thing that drives me crazy is that I can go all over this city and access the internet and check my mail. All over the city except one location and that is Fountain Square and the one or two blocks around it.

For some reason, if I try to check email while at the square, I am automatically diverted to a Cincinnati Bell WiFi site that wants credit card info to get service. If I walk two blocks to the north, I resume regular service. I get regular service in Clifton, Avondale, North Avondale, West End, all over except Fountain Square.

Now despite being a uber-blogger, I really don't research or completely understand how the G3 or WiFi works. All I know is that I cannot check my email or browse a website on Fountain Square, but I can all over the rest of the city.

Am I doing something wrong, or are the Corporate Overlords screwing me? Seems like FS would be a key place to offer free WiFi.

Promotion for a Disney movie "Bolt" on The Square Saturday:

24 August 2008

Biden Supports Rail

...Biden commutes back-and-forth from Delaware to Washington regularly on the Acela, so he appreciates what high-speed rail can do. What’s more, Wilmington recently lost its scheduled air service making Delaware a plane-free state that depends on rail for its connectivity. ... he’s still one of the best friends rail has in the Senate. Beyond that, Biden’s son sits on the Amtrak board and unlike some of Amtrak’s leadership (which besides Biden is heavily dominated by Republicans) is actually a forceful advocate for Amtrak and for improving rail.

Another Visitor's Impressions of Cincinnati

A reporter from the Independent, Ireland stopped in Cincinnati last week to get a feel for Obama's chances. Not very deep reporting here, mostly talked to some taxi drivers and typed his pre-conceived notions:

..."As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.'' With its blend of black and white, rich and poor, industrial and agricultural, the state is a microcosm of America -- and Cincinnati and its surroundings are, in turn, fairly representative of the state.

On one side of the city you find Indian Hill, the third-most lucrative zip code in the US for Republican fundraisers, who recently brought in $2.5m there in a single night. Across town, it's a different story. Every other shop is boarded up. There are no nice lawns and no Stars and Stripes at the bottom of the garden, just rusty old cars.

... in the Cadillac Ranch bar on Vine Street. Many of the Democrats moaned about Obama's inexperience and his flip-flopping on policy, but what became clear after a few drinks was that the real issue -- as it had been for my acquaintance at the airport -- was his skin colour...

I did find at least one Obama supporter -- the taxi driver who took me out to the suburb of Northside the next morning...

...Probably my best insight into Ohio's floating voters came in Mount Adam, the most bohemian district of Cincinnati.

...how Ohio swings will depend on whether the first-time voters dreaming of "hope'' outnumber the closet bigots who say "nope''. Based on what I've seen, I'm going with "nope''.

23 August 2008

New Ruralism?

New old houses on the march:
Versaci has made a name for himself as the guru of the New Ruralism, a countryside outgrowth of trends toward traditional town planning known as the New Urbanism. Both pick up on a widespread desire to live in communities that hark back to the past, to what America was like before modern architecture and planning began to ruin the full spectrum of manmade places.

5 Cities React Against Vacanct Structures

Cleveland, Buffalo, Carbondale, Flagstaff, Los Angeles:

According to federal data, almost $1.6 billion in subprime loans were originated in 2005 in Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located. As rates rose, homeowners couldn’t pay, and foreclosures were common. More than 15,000 foreclosures were filed in the county last year.

To mitigate the effects, the city demolished about 800 houses last year, with a goal of 1,000 more in 2008. That will create about 120 acres of vacant land, but mostly in small parcels dispersed throughout the city that aren’t conducive for reuse by developers.

The redevelopment of these properties will be coordinated by the Connecting Cleveland 2020 Citywide Plan, which outlines the strategic building of strong, vibrant, and diverse neighborhoods. On the industrial side, the city created an Industrial-Commercial Land Bank in 2005 to entice developers to redevelop the vast number of abandoned properties for a variety of uses.

Raw Milk Debate

I have only had raw (cow) milk one or two times, but farmers who produce a clean organic produce like this should be supported, not prosecuted.

22 August 2008

Foreclosures Result in Affordable Homes

Ineresting take, from the right- leaning blogger Volokh on the mortgage crisis:
...the government has for too long artificially propped up housing prices through restrictive zoning laws, government subsidization of dubious mortgages and other such measures. Left-liberals who have historically complained (with some justice) about the shortage of affordable low-income housing in these cities should be particularly enthusiastic about the recent decline in real estate prices. At the very least, the resulting benefit to lower-income families gives liberals - and the rest of us - additional reason to be skeptical about the desirability of government-subsidized efforts to prop up real estate prices by guaranteeing mortgages, bailing out lenders and borrowers, and other similar measures that seem to be politically popular at the moment. If we genuinely want to help the less affluent, we should let this market correction run its course.

Sprawling from Grace

Sprawling from Grace, is probably a movie that I will never see. The movie includes an interview with Jan Gehl, and I would like to see it for that reason alone:

The Director of the movie says:
...I grew up in the suburbs. ....We would gather on the fringe of our suburban subdivision, smoking cigarettes atop the hills of newly excavated earth, earth that gave way to the construction sites where the next tier of suburbia was to be built. We would gather in the basements of each other’s suburban homes playing Atari games, listening to rock and roll, raiding our parent’s liquor cabinets, and experimenting with drugs that dulled our senses into acceptance of this mundane existence. One day bled into the next without distinction. Our lives mirrored the homogeneity of the communities we lived in. And so, we emulated the architecture that surrounded us. There were no stores, cafes, or arcades to gather in. No jobs for teens within walking or biking distance. No place to meet someone new and interesting, outside of those neighbors who lived close by. Just, row upon row of neatly kept houses that only varied in appearance every third house. And so, we bided our time, waiting for that magic age. Sixteen. Freedom. If only I could drive...

Another movie from 2006 that also looks interesting: Manufactured Landscapes.
...a thought-provoking investigation of photographer Edward Burtynsky's legacy, with its aesthetic studies of industrial landscapes. But Baichwal's documentary probes deeper than a mere surface-level glimpse of Burtynsky's life and work. It uses the topic of Burtynsky as a springboard, segueing, from there, into a protracted exploration of "the aesthetic, social and spiritual dimensions of industrialization and globalization." Whereas Burtynsky's photographs reveal human beings dwarfed by the massive industrialized landscape that surrounds them, Baichwal (much as Louis Malle did in his Humain, trop Humain) sheds a light on the tedium and monotony suffered by workers who are assigned small components of huge manufacturing processes, and must endure the repetitive work that it entails.

Cardboard Design

Dan at Park + Vine pointed out an eco-friendly company Cardboard Designs, that produces all kinds of stuff out of cardboard. The furniture is great. They even have a lemonade stand. I think he is going to start carrying some of this stuff, if he doesn't already.

Although I have written about how I like stone buildings, I am also fascinated by a Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban who is producing large structures out of paper and cardboard tubes. I read a fascinating interview with him a few years ago, but I cannot find it online now.

21 August 2008

Public Play by Adults

Some neighbors have piqued my interest in this kind of street action/art:

Playful Spaces, an art project by Bruno Taylor:
This project is a study into different ways of bringing play back into public space. It focuses on ways of incorporating incidental play in the public realm by not so much as having separate play equipment that dictates the users but by using existing furniture and architectural elements that indicate playful behaviour for all.

By the way, the Wooster Collective Website where I found this is great, you may want to check it out further.

This reminded me of my desire to surreptitiously install a rope swing in the park. We have suburban friends who have a great rope swing in their front yard, and I have fond memories of a similar one in my childhood. I know the perfect tree, but wonder how long the park workers would allow it to remain?

This has some similarities to Parking Day, of which Cincinnati is going to be part of this year: http://cincinnatiparkingday.blogspot.com I'm trying to figure out how to participate in this. Since it is on a Friday, (Sept 19th), and I don't think we we take kids out of school, or me out of work, to participate.

20 August 2008

Downtown Tour of Living Sept 27th

I always have trouble finding out when this tour is, so to remind myself, I am posting this:
Downtown Tour of Living date is Saturday, September 27th from 12pm – 5pm. The theme of this year’s Tour focuses on our walk-able, green, urban lifestyle. All properties on the tour are in the Central Business District and Over-the-Rhine and are owner/renter occupied units. Distance between properties is walk-able. Tickets will be $15/person (the first 1000 ticket purchasers, advanced and sameday, receive a $5 Downtown Gift Card). The event is produced by Downtown Cincinnati Incorporated. The Downtown Residents Council is a sponsor of the Downtown Tour of Living. For more information or to volunteer, please contact info at ilivedowntown dot com (Please put "Downtown Tour of Living" in the subject line)
Our kids may run a lemonade stand again this year near Mica. Look for us and say hi.

I'll repost this a week before the event.

Streetvibes Online

Streetvibes has a new online presence:


19 August 2008

The Elephants in the Room

Goodbye summer.

How short is boyhood, and how sad is it to see the yellow buses lumbering down the street.

Why is it that a boy can only be seven for one summer?

But that is not what this post is about. It is about vacationing. Leaving home and returning to see your home in a different light. It is about how it is often hardest to see what is right in front of your own nose.

After vacationing in a distant suburban/rural locale with in-laws, I was really ready for my return to my urban paradise. A trip to the grocery on this vacation was a tortuous, winding 20 minute drive. The sleeping arrangements made for a lack of privacy, and there were always kids crying. The winding roads gave me a headache. After 7 days I was ready for our private home in the city.

On the drive back, I was shaking my head thinking: "who in their right mind wants to live where you have to drive an hour round trip to buy a bottle of liquor?" What is the purpose of such isolation at such great expense? Granted, there was nature outside our door, but it was tamed and really acted only as scenery. (The trees were trimmed to accentuate the view of a nearby golf course). On the long drive back, I was thinking how much our home in downtown Cincy is heaven. At our home, I thought, the world is at our doorstep, yet inside it is a peaceful retreat.

But as I pulled-up to the house, I suddenly had an anxiety I hadn't experienced for 8 days or more: No parking spaces. I had tons of packages and a couple of sleepy kids to unload, and no place near our door to park. That wasn't that big of a deal, but there were also lots of people hanging-out, sitting around watching me unload. I had to park next to two passed-out drunks, and then walk past three guys in wife-beater shirts at the corner. One of the guys finished peeing on the wall right before I walked past.

I know this is going to sound dumb, but just then it hit me that this is what I have been living with for years, and for some reason I had pushed it out of my mind and as a result I didn't really understand other people's aversion to living here. This was the elephant in the room that I never talked about. But I didn't do this consciously. And it is not that I don't notice littering or people bumming change. It is more that I forget that the rest of the world is not all like this. And, like it did to me after being gone for a week, it unnerves people.

Then tonight I am made to listen for hours to Andre's new boom-box. I mean he keeps the volume at eleven, at all times! But now, after being home for 24 hours, this doesn't bother me at all. With the windows closed, these guys, singing off key to an old soul tune is akin to the locusts and frogs humming in the forest.

18 August 2008

I'm Back

We tried to get as much summer into the last few days before school started, and I am beat.... Regular posting to resume shortly

16 August 2008

New Color on Recovery Hotel

It was a darker green:
[Where: 1225 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

15 August 2008


What would he do?
Seen at Findlay Market

Mercer and Vine Rehab Continuing

The Model Project is continuing to make progress. The rear alley buildings here were unfortunately demolished:
See my previous post on this project here.
[Where: 1332 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

And accross the street and slightly north, the 1400 Block, West side of Vine appears to be getting cleaned-out and ready for rehab:

[Where: 1407-15 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

14 August 2008

Dogs in Cages

I walked past this car in a parking lot, and two little dogs started barking at me. Should they be packed-in like this?

City Home Progress

Foundations starting for new buildings:
Posted by Picasa


From Rear:

Previous post on this project.

13 August 2008

Mt Adams Pool

The Mt Adams Pool is an older, smaller pool, with an integral kiddie end. It is up behind the Playhouse Parking Garage, and is a very quiet pool compared to the other CRC pools because it is mostly adults. Making this a sprayground as is planned, would not suit these users, so a Mt Adam's group is lobbying to save this little oasis. We go there because it is one of the only CRC pools open on Sunday.

Pool Entry:

Pool view from entry:

The cool clean water:

Pool and pool house:

12 August 2008

The Toledo UP War

Not sure if this is true, but she is a librarian:
...We got the U.P. in a “war” with Ohio over Toledo. That’s why there’s a funny notch in the southern border. Ohio got the port city of Toledo. We got the U.P., the better prize. The funny thing is that there was only one injury in the so-called border “war.” A Ohio sheriff named Stickney had two sons. He’d named them One Stickney and Two Stickney. One of the two was slightly injured. But the interesting story is, of course, about a man who would name his sons One and Two...

-Shutta Crum

Lots of Conc Block

Construction is continuing at the project at the southwest corner of Vine and 14th Streets:
Posted by Picasa

Lehmann Furniture and Carpets sign as seen from Pleasant Street. The one-story garage in the foreground is slated to get an addition and provide parking for the new construction above:

See here for previous posts on this project.

11 August 2008

Stars Unknown to Many

What was that eerie cloud?
Unfortunately, because of the tremendous increase in light pollution over the past quarter century, the majority of our current generation have never seen the night sky in all its grandeur.

In his book "Nightwatch," the well-known Canadian astronomer Terrence Dickinson comments that in the aftermath of the predawn 1994 Northridge, California earthquake, electrical power was knocked out over a wide area. Tens of thousands of people in southern California rushed out of their homes looked up and perhaps for the first time in their lives saw a dark, starry sky. In the days and weeks that followed, radio stations and observatories in the Los Angeles area received countless numbers of phone calls from concerned people who wondered whether the sudden brightening of the stars and the appearance of an eerie silvery cloud (the Milky Way) might have caused the quake.

"Such reaction," notes Dickinson, "can come only from people who have never seen the night sky away from city lights."

"If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

If there were men who had always lived underground in fine and well-lit houses which had been adorned with statues and paintings, and equipped with all the things which those who are considered well-to-do possess in abundance, who had, however, never come forth into the upper world, but had learned by fame and hearsay of the existence of certain divine powers and natures, and had then at some time, through the jaws of the earth being opened, been able to come forth from those hidden regions, and to pass into these parts which we inhabit, when they had suddenly obtained a sight of the land and seas and sky, and had marked the vastness of the clouds, and the force of the winds, and had beheld the sun, and had marked not only its size and beauty, but also its power, since by diffusing light over the whole sky it caused day, and when, again, after night had overshadowed the earth, they then perceived the whole sky studded and adorned with stars, and the change in the light of the moon as it alternately waxed and waned, and the rising and setting of all these bodies, and the fixity and unchangeableness of their courses through all eternity, when they saw those things, they would assuredly believe both that the gods existed and that these mighty works proceeded from them.
-Cicero, quoting Aristotle, On the Nature of the Gods, 2.95...

...Are we with our light pollution like those people living underground?

See all my Dark Sky posts here.

Last Day of Washington Park Pool

August 8, 2008. Was this the last day of this pool for just this year, ..or forever? We don't know.
watermelon toss:
Getting a watermelon fron the 10' deep water:

chasing the watermelon: