31 August 2010

CPS Photocopy Budget

What is up with the restriction on teachers making Xerox copies at Cincinnati Public schools?

I've noticed that our children's teachers refer to this often. For example, yesterday, I received a notice from my daughter's teacher that stated:

"My copy budget is limited thus your child will only receive one sheet of math homework per week instead of five."


Does this make any sense at all? Has anyone else dealt with this in their school?

Do some parents donate paper and toner? Should we return to use of the mimeograph?

Also, the Enquirer has an article today on one of my other pet peeves: short lunch periods. It is so frustrating when the kids bring full lunchboxes back home. I think a parent at our kid's school brought a proposal to the CPS school board that would mandate longer lunches, but they decided to leave it up to each principal.

30 August 2010

Intersection Density

The Power of Intersection Density

Intersection density is the number of intersections in an area. It corresponds closely to block size — the greater the intersection density, the smaller the blocks. Small blocks make a neighborhood walkable.

...Of all the built environment measurements, intersection density has the largest effect on walking — more than population density, distance to a store, distance to a transit stop, or jobs within one mile. Intersection density also has large effects on transit use and the amount of driving...

Continued here

28 August 2010

End of Feminism - Are Men Needed?

In my parent's generation, a single paycheck usually was enough to support the family. This allowed more for a more relaxed child rearing situation, and it also had a built-in saftey mechanism in that in rough times, the mother could pitch in to make ends meet. Today families need both full-time incomes to make ends meet and if one parent loses their job the result can be foreclosure. Couples today work more hours for less stability.

I've recognized these issues, but this article goes further along the path wondering what the growing strength of women in the workforce will do to the family structure:

Childrearing and marriage are no longer connected

...In 1970, women contributed 2 to 6 percent of the family income. Now the typical working wife brings home 42.2 percent, and four in 10 mothers...are the primary breadwinners in their families...

... it is going to become more common for women to have children outside marriage. But this doesn't mean you're necessarily going to see a rise in single motherhood. Women will be free to experiment with many different kinds of parenting arrangements, from raising children alone or with a female partner, to raising them in an extended family.

More reproductive freedom does not mean women will want to lead non-traditional lives or abandon their families. In twenty years, a woman might decide she wants children, but instead of getting married she wants to live with her parents and grandparents. Because she has the income to pay for her child's needs, and to contribute to the family home, she now has the freedom to choose this option.

...We may return to arrangements that look a lot like what people had over a century ago, when servants and nannies took care of middle-class homes while the middle- and upper-classes ran countries and businesses. Except this time around, women's incomes will be what allows a household to afford its servants. (Remember, the wealthiest families are dual-income.)

...In a future where women workers report to women bosses, fewer and fewer women are going to feel that they share a common social status with their sisters. In fact, female nurses might feel like they have more in common with male nurses than they do with the female hospital administrators who treat them like crap and cut their hours.

Women's equality with men may spell an end to women's solidarity with each other. But women will forge new alliances - ones that have nothing to do with gender. And maybe that isn't so much the end of feminism, but the beginning of a world that no longer needs it.

As a side, look at some famous man-caves.


the only

An album I just found, that I had never seen before:

Holding Company video:

27 August 2010

Brick Walls OTR

Random stuff from past 2 days

layers of paint


kicking it

new storefront going in on Vine

26 August 2010

Shift Toward Urbanism Predicted

Harvard Business Review says shift toward urbanism is imminent and business must plan for it:
...companies are getting a jump on a major cultural and demographic shift away from suburban sprawl. The change is imminent, and businesses that don’t understand and plan for it may suffer in the long run.

...“In the 1950s, suburbs were the future, the city was then seen as a dingy environment. But today it’s these urban neighborhoods that are exciting and diverse and exploding with growth.”

.. partly a reaction to real problems created by suburbs. Their damage to quality of life is well chronicled...

..the trends ... are part of broader recent changes businesses already accept: the shift to an experience economy, consumers’ and employees’ demands for greater corporate social responsibility, an emphasis on work/life balance, and the importance of interaction between companies and their customers. The demographic aspect is simply the newest part of an ongoing conversation. Companies that recognize the larger trend, however, and seize the opportunities that it presents will contribute to its social impact—and may gain a competitive advantage in the process.

Archeological Digging

at Washington Park, where the playground was just removed:

I have no idea if they have found anything of interest.

25 August 2010

Wood Floors and Gorilla Glue

I have an ongoing struggle with old floor boards that I am sure many readers also share. The problem in many of these old Cincinnati buildings is that the floor boards are a soft wood like pine or fir, maybe poplar, and they dent easily and sometimes they splinter. But the really annoying thing about them is the gaps between some of the boards.

I have noticed several ways these gaps have been repaired around the neighborhood. Some people use Bondo. This seems to work, but the Bondo is harder than the wood, and it certainly does not stain. Another method is to use a product called "part 50". This is a clear epoxy wherein you mix equal parts and pour it into the holes and it solidifies so that it looks like glass. They sell the stuff at Cincinnati Color. This is pretty cool, but can be very expensive and is really only appropriate for small dents and depressions.

Years ago, I experimented with wood epoxies like Abatron. These worked pretty well when repairing window sash, but again, it was pretty expensive not to mention time-consuming. I found out later that if the wood was that rotten, it was better to just get some new sash made to match. And that is an approach that some people take with the wood floors: cover them with new wood. However, I prefer to keep the old wood floors whenever possible. A new floor just doesn't have the character IMO.

Lately, I have been experimenting with Gorilla Glue. Gorilla glue is the duct tape of the modern handy man. To my wife's delight, I use it to fix everything from kid's shoes to broken dolls. The cool thing about Gorilla glue is that it expands into the recesses of the cracks and bonds very strongly to the wood, and seems to have the same flexibility of the wood. It also sands easily. The big negative is that when it expands, it leaves lots of air bubbles, which are not so good when trying to refinish a smooth floor. Below are some photos I took this week, while trying to repair a crack. I think the Gorilla Glue is great at solidifying the old loose boards, but I need something that is better for the final finish coat. Anyone have ideas?

staining the fill

wiping excess stain off

final look:

24 August 2010

Grieving Mother Helps Kids Learn to Swim

I found this story from Toledo heart-wrenching, and relevant to our Cincinnati's continued removal of deep water swimming pools:

...What Butts is doing is breaking a generational cycle of blacks who don't know how to swim, one child at a time. But the challenge is daunting.

Seven out of 10 black children have little or no swimming ability, according to a study released last spring by USA Swimming...Other studies have found that blacks are much more likely to drown than whites, especially children from low-income homes, according to several studies.

...Her hope is to end "a tragic story that continues to repeat itself."

The roots of why so many blacks don't swim can be traced to racial inequalities and economics. For decades during the 20th century, many pools and beaches were segregated, and relatively few were built in black communities.

Even today, cities with shrinking budgets are limiting access by closing public pools.

...Butts has one more thing she'd like to do — learn to swim.

The first time she got in, more than two years ago, it didn't go so well.

Once in the pool, she couldn't bring herself to let go of the wall and the horrible memories. She gave up after a few days.

She decided to give it another shot in April and has since crossed the pool using a kick board.

"It's a great accomplishment for me," she said. "The next step is to let go. Letting go and being able to float, that's what I want to do."

Innapropriate Kids Books

Curious pages is an great blog highlighting strange, interesting and sometimes innapropriate kids' books. Some great illustrations. I found about a dozen books I want just browsing for a few minutes:

My favorite is Struwwelpeter or "shock headed Peter". An example in that book is Conrad the Thumbsucker who in the end gets his thumb cut off:
I actually read this book to my kids and they loved it.

California City

View Larger Map

A fascinating article in the NY Times about city in the California desert that had big aspirations but is now mostly vacant:
..."People lined up to buy them," said Cheryl Hoffman, a local real estate agent. "They were being told, 'This is where you're going to make your fortune.' "

Now those lots cost $3,000 again. Graded flat, they make good weekend camping sites. The sandy streets are popular with the off-road-vehicle crowd. ...

But the only year-round residents of California City's empty reaches are coyotes, jackrabbits and rattlesnakes who don't mind the triple-digit summer temperatures that turn this country into a convection oven.

..."Its monumental folly is evocative, especially in this era of widespread home foreclosures," ...

"When we think of ruins, we typically think of European castles and churches,... but the U.S. also has ruins. It's just that they're made of different stuff. In this case, it's the ground itself and what was done to it."

23 August 2010

Kids Investigating Insects

On a sidewalk in OTR

Advice from 'America's worst mom'

There is a new article by Lenore Skenazy. You may remember her when she made a big splash in the news when she let her 9-year-old ride the New York subway home alone. I liked her story, but in the media frenzy that followed she was labeled America's worst mom.

On the Today Show she went on the air to be lectured by a parenting expert. The expert said she could have given her son the same experience by following him, or making him go with a group of people. I really wish she HAD replied this way:
“Well, how is that the ‘exact same experience’ if it’s different?” I demanded. “Besides, he was safe! That’s why I let him go, you fear-mongering hypocrite, preaching independence while warning against it!”
She further commented:
I really think I’m a parent who is afraid of some things (bears, cars) and less afraid of others (subways, strangers). But mostly I’m afraid that I, too, have been swept up in the impossible obsession of our era: total safety for our children every second of every day. The idea that we should provide it and actually could provide it. It’s as if we don’t believe in fate anymore, or good luck or bad luck. No, it’s all up to us.
I also love her observations on TV. I have been known to refer to the nightly news as "Fear TV":
When we watch TV, we have to remind ourselves that its job is to terrify and disgust us so that we’ll keep watching in horror. It is doing an excellent job on both fronts.
She started a blog called Free Range Kids on the topic. I recommend the article and the blog.

On the same day as someone shared a CNN Post about a Toddler walks two blocks to reach medical help for her father. I love the contrast of this story, to all the fear-mongering. It boggles my mind that a 3-year old could have the presence of mind to do that.

21 August 2010

Ravine at McMillian

Excellent!! Contractor is currently widening the sidewalk at the very top of Ravine:

20 August 2010

Playground Gone

This was a playground a few days ago:

19 August 2010

WH Taft Museum

We recently visited the Taft Home on Auburn Avenue, the only National Park site in the City limits as far as I know. It was educational, and the kids got a kick out of it. It is great to have these kinds of cultural attractions right next door.

18 August 2010

Finance Quote of the Day

"Construction lending is really the cocaine of the banking industry..."

At least it was... until 17% of them went into default ...

"If a bank forecloses on a house, it's a house. Everybody knows what to do with it,..But if you're dealing with a half-constructed hotel or a half-constructed strip mall, not only does no one want it, you now have to maintain it" ... many bankers have chosen to wait it out, extending the terms of loans to troubled developers to keep from having to foreclose and take possession of a half-built headache. Which leaves bad loans and troubled property in limbo...

- USA Today article

17 August 2010

End Summer - Begin Overschedule

My kids were playing together so beautifully yesterday at the pool.
It was evening, and the place was almost empty, and they just laughed
and splashed. Daughter finally got up the courage to jump off the
diving board, and since then, there's no stopping her. She was
jumping off constantly, holding her nose, trying a cannonball, trying
a twist, and totally happy the whole time.

The air was cooler. Finally. The oppressive heat for the previous
weeks demanded going to the pool. Now going is an option, a luxury.
The city pools that we used to visit are all closed already. Not so
at our club. Now in the cool evenings tennis is popular with the
adults and the boys are crowded around the ping-pong table.

I think we were pretty successful at giving our kids a good summer.
Maybe we should have done some tutoring with our son. Maybe we should
have done baseball or more summer camps. Maybe. But it was pretty
good just letting the kids enjoy summer and make their own fun for a
while. Tomorrow school starts and then every moment gets put into a

I talked with the kids for a while last night at bedtime. We talked
about how sad it is that summer is ending, but how they will see all
their school friends, and how soccer will start, and the leaves will
change color, and next thing you know it will be Halloween and all
their favorite holidays. They were fine with the end of summer.
Maybe more than I am.

Abbey Lincoln

Honestly, I didn't know who she was until she died a few days ago, but I should have:

1964 In Nothing But a Man:

Freedom Day, she comes in at the end:

Washington Park Construction Starting

Stake for construction fencing 

16 August 2010

Odetta and Tennessee Ernie Ford

Woman with one name and a man with three, among other differences:

Eat Chick-fil-A, support Whiz Kids

So I can eat Chick-fil-A for a good cause? Sweet! Here is an easy opportunity to support Whiz Kids. Whiz Kids is a tutoring and mentoring program of City Gospel Mission. Go to the link to read more details. Here is an excerpt:
Whiz Kids was launched in 2005 ... Whiz Kids equips the local church to serve at-risk youth through one-to-one, literacy-based tutoring. Currently, there are 46 Whiz Kids tutoring sites serving over 1,100 youth throughout Greater Cincinnati. Whiz Kids is in partnership with over 60 elementary schools and 80 churches, with tutoring sites from the urban core neighborhoods of Over-the-Rhine, Walnut Hills and Price Hill to the I-275 loop communities of West Chester, Milford and Florence, Ky.
You need to print out the flyer, and bring it to a participating Chick-fil-A today (Monday, August 16, 2010).

Private Park?

My son had soccer in Terrace Park last week. The place is very nice, but kinda creeped me out. This sign at the park is an indication of what is wrong.

I especially like the no climbing rule. And they had some good climbing trees too.

13 August 2010

Justice for Racism Impossible?

Wax appeals to a parable in which a pedestrian is run over by a truck and must learn to walk again. The truck driver pays the pedestrian’s medical bills, but the only way the pedestrian will walk again is through his own efforts. The pedestrian may insist that the driver do more, that justice has not occurred until the driver has himself made the pedestrian learn to walk again. But the sad fact is that justice, under this analysis, is impossible. The legal theory about remedies, Wax points out, grapples with this inconvenience—and the history of the descendants of African slaves, no matter how horrific, cannot upend its implacable logic. As she puts it, “That blacks did not, in an important sense, cause their current predicament does not preclude charging them with alleviating it if nothing else will work.”

-Book Review at TNR

12 August 2010

Decade of Reckoning?

More news on the changing suburbs:

Huffington Post and Yahoo News

...analysis of 2000-2008 census data by the Brookings Institution highlights the demographic "tipping points" seen in the past decade and the looming problems in the 100 largest metropolitan areas...
"A new metro map is emerging in the U.S. that challenges conventional thinking about where we live and work," ..."The old concepts of suburbia, Sun Belt and Rust Belt are outdated and at odds with effective governance."

...The suburbs now have the largest poor population in the country. They are home to the vast majority of baby boomers age 55 to 64, a fast-growing group that will strain social services after the first wave of boomers turns 65 next year.

..."What used to be white flight to the suburbs is turning into 'bright flight' to cities that have become magnets for aspiring young adults who see access to knowledge-based jobs, public transportation and a new city ambiance as an attraction."

... the old urban stereotypes no longer apply...

Calling 2010 the "decade of reckoning," the report urges policymakers to shed outdated notions of America's cities and suburbs and work quickly to address the coming problems caused by the dramatic shifts in population.

Among its recommendations: affordable housing and social services for older people in the suburbs; better transit systems to link cities and suburbs; and a new federal Office of New Americans to serve the education and citizenship needs of the rapidly growing immigrant community. ...

How Kids See OTR

good bad and worst of buildings as seen by 9yr old boy

What Does a Home Look Like

From the images embedded in our collective psych: Social Studies book from the 1960s

11 August 2010

Smart Money Follows Smart Growth

...the previous model was based on the assumption that the United States could prop up the single family home in a distant location by keeping the cost of oil and mortgages low. But that era is over. "The true cost of transportation and housing is going to start to surface," ...

...Boomers are eager to liberate themselves from the maintenance of house, lawn and car ... They want necessities within walking distance because they know they will not be able to drive forever.

... "Cities need to understand that a great city needs a mix of housing. It creates dysfunction when workers are required to live at great distances," he said.

...Now citizens with real estate savvy are honing in on the cities. Unlike the suburbs, and despite the downturn, homes closer to downtowns tended to retain their value...

In 15 of 20 major housing markets, such as New York City but also Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Durham, North Carolina, higher home prices correlated with proximity to the city center and its restaurants, parks and libraries.

More specifically, walking distance to those amenities generates a home price premium in the range of $4,000 to $34,000, according to a 2009 study of 90,000 homes ...

...Residents of communities like Sacramento and Rockville are ponying up for the urban privilege of public transportation in their own backyards.

... governments reap much more in taxes from urban centers than from malls or "big box" retail like a Wal-Mart, but pay more to build suburban infrastructure such as sewers and streets.

In the city and county of Sarasota, for example, 3.4 acres of urban residential development consumes one-tenth the land of a multi-family development in the suburbs. But it requires little more than half of the infrastructure investment and generates 830 percent more for the county annually in total taxes: that's $2 million from the city structure and $238,529 from the suburban one.

What's more, suburban housing takes 42 years to pay off its infrastructure costs. Downtown? Just three. ... "These (city) centers produce a tremendous amount of revenue and then hemorrhage it out to the suburbs," ... "We don't have a rational discussion on the true costs of the way we manage land."

....cash-strapped governments struggling with the recession's hit to tax revenue are starting to press developers to share the pain of paying for highways and other infrastructure...

As a result, profitability will come to depend on higher-density construction, said Rich,.."Just as they evolved to start, they will de-evolve the product," he said, of suburban developers.

10 August 2010

Berta Propagandist

If you want to change your city, what is the best way to go about achieving such change? Say for example, you wanted to improve conditions for the poor and homeless. Seems to me that there are 2 basic approaches, either you can speak about the need for change or you can begin making the change yourself. There is honor in both approaches. Sometimes a non-profit group, say the Drop Inn Center will do both. They will feed and house the homeless, but also be vocal advocates for change. And in different periods in the organization's growth they will do more of one or the other.

But say you stick with the vocal advocate role, and pride yourself on advocacy and protest. What is your strongest weapon? Truth. It is my contention that if you are speaking truth to power, then you better make sure of your facts. In advocacy, if you lack the facts, if you just demonize and repeatedly attack the enemy without facts, then you become just an annoyance, an ineffective propagandist.

And so I come to Berta Lambert:

Here is Berta, holding a sign claiming something for which he has no evidence at all. It is pure propaganda.

On July 19th, the Park Board cut down a dead tree in Washington Park. My wife happened to be walking by and took a picture as they started:
It was an American Elm tree, planted during a memorial service for Buddy Gray in 1996 shortly after he was killed. I never knew that this was a memorial tree, there was no plaque or anything, but my wife concerned about the trees in the park, took a photo.

That morning when they were beginning to remove this tree, Jim Burkhardt a Manager with the Parks Department was there. Jim is an arborist by training and he said he planted the tree in 1996 at the community's request and now he unfortunately had to remove it. I've met Jim several times at different public forums, and he seems to be exactly what you want in a City employee. He loves Cincinnati, and he is completely dedicated to his work in the parks. Oftentimes his job involves removing dead or diseased trees.

The tree It wasn't very big, it was obviously dead, (click on the picture for a bigger view where you can see the leaves are all gone). Did 3CDC have anything to do with this? Highly unlikely. They have stated at numerous public meetings that they will be removing dozens of trees, many of them older and larger than this. They have not started any of the park renovations. They have no reason to kill a single tree out of dozens they plan on removing. The Park Board completely controls the park up to the point sometime in the upcoming months when construction starts.

How many lies can you fit in one simple sign with only 5 words?

So I also noted some of the other signs Berta was displaying:

And this is another annoying sign. Pat Clifford is nothing if not totally dedicated to the Homeless in Cincinnati. Berta is upset that the Drop Inn Center board is supposedly in negotiations with 3CDC and the City about moving the shelter. But there are no details on this. Maybe they will be going to a bigger location. Maybe they will be getting better facilities. Maybe they will stay. I have no idea, and neither does Berta. I trust Pat and the DIC board to do what is best for the residents of the shelter. They always have.

Later Berta put the tree sign down where the tree was cut. Notice the car parked in the grass!!?? Some things never change.

06 August 2010

SCPA Outdoor Theater

I noticed that at the rear of SCPA (near the corner of 12th and Elm, they are just now installing the outdoor theater. I think they were holding off on this until they raised the money. It looks like they will extend the canopy from above the door all along the wall:

Anytime you dig aroung here, you dig up old building remnants

The bricks are the remnants of these buildings:

Pics of the demo at this corner.

Decker Hotel

[where: 135 E. Court Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

04 August 2010

Ralph Stanley

"I'm just an old hillbilly, and proud of it, too. Plain as an old shoe." -Ralph Stanley, (he recorded at King Records too)

Tom + Chee Moving Far

Tom + Chee apparently is moving

03 August 2010

TJ's Lunch

TJ's Lunch, new Korean lunch spot only open weekdays 10:30-2:30:

Only 3 items on menu. I like this bare bones approach to a startup. Do only a few things, but do them well:

[where: 34 E. Court Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

I haven't eaten here yet. Anyone been and have a report?

02 August 2010

Cars in the Park

Several types of cars regularly drive in Washington Park. The maintenance man drives his car into the park almost everyday and parks next to the bathrooms while he cuts the grass and sweeps up. The garbage truck drives through the park emptying all the garbage cans and making muddy ruts where the paths aren't wide enough. Weekly, church groups come and encircle the bandstand while they preach in the park. And of course the police drive into the park most everyday. And all of these vehicles must enter the park by driving over a sidewalk curb, and into walk paths that are not intended for cars.

Usually the police come through around 10pm and loudly announce that the park is closed. Mostly they stay on the walkways, but this is not always the case. I can recall many times seeing the police drive into the grass and shine their lights onto sleeping people, telling them that the park has closed and they must go to the perimeter sidewalk.

I hate cars driving in the park. The only real time it is neccessary is when doing construction or emptying the garbage cans. Even then, it seems that the smaller vehicles could be used.

Of course, I'm writing this in response to the tragic death of Joann Burton. A park police officer drove over her while she was lying in the grass of the park before noon last Tuesday. I have no animosity to the officer. He was operating in a system, a society in which the car is an extension of our body, is a replacement for our legs. Although on occasion I will see officers on foot in the park, it is pretty rare. And it seems to me this is less a result of police policy and more a result of our societal agreement that cars are integral to our mobility. And this accident has much less in common with a police shooting than it does the many car accidents that happen everyday.

After all, it is common to read news stories in which someone backs over a family member in their own driveway. By all accounts, he was driving on the walking path, and decided to drive across the grass, but first had to back up slightly. In this situation, he would not have been able to see her on the ground behind his right fender.

The difference between this and a family driveway accident is that the officer is a public servant with powers and authority given to him by the city, and Ms Burton was a poor citizen with no power. Thus, the lawyers will argue the penalties and punishment.

Today in the park, people sit on benches and talk, people walk very slowly to keep cool, and there is the sound of a solitary basketball. Squirrels are eating Ginko fruits. There is cursing and drinking, but also kids playing and people joking and laughing. Life continues here after death just like innumerable days before.

01 August 2010

Howell Manufacturing

While browsing through some Walker Evans photos from old Fortune Magazines, I happened upon this photo of in an article called "Vintage Office Furniture":

"A corner of the front office at Howell Manufacturing Co (vinegar and extracts) Cincinnati", published in Fortune Magazine, August 1955. Click for larger view.