Just Stuff

Just some random things that are on my mind and of interest to me...

1. The political discourse in this country is seriously fucked up. On the one side we have Democrats who wouldn't know how to grow a pair if their lives depended on it and on the other we have a bunch of batshit fucking insane Republicans who seem to think our President was born outside the country. In between we have a bunch of pussy ass "moderates" who only care about one thing and one thing only, stoking their own ego. To make matters worse, we have a media (pundits specifically) who are too brain dead to figure out which side is actually right. The health care debacle is just the latest example of how our once great country is on the downward spiral. All of which leads me to number 2...

2. In the parallel universe, the United States is a shining beacon of hope in which defense spending is a pittance, all citizens have great health care, our infrastructure is the best in the world, our schools and universities are fully funded and corporations don't exist. Alas, in the universe that you and I live in, none of the above is true. We do almost nothing well anymore. Hell, the one thing we've always excelled at, fighting wars and killing brown people, seems to be something we've forgotten how to do.

Okay, now for some good news and happy thoughts...

3. With just two days left in the month and forecast highs predicted to stay around 80 degrees both days, this will go down as the first July in which temperatures have not reached 90 degrees in Louisville. In fact, it appears that the month will go down as the coolest July ever. I had 8 days this month in which I didn't have to run the air conditioner and my last electric bill was just $85. In a typical summer, the AC runs nonstop from early May till late September or early October. This is a welcome change.

4. Schumi's back. The greatest race car driver of all time, Michael Schumacher of Ferrari, will come out of retirement to fill in for the injured Felipe Massa. Most Americans haven't heard of Schumacher but he's arguably the most famous athelete in the world as Formula One is the most watched sport on television. He'll only race this year and while Ferrari is having a down year, expect Schumi to get more out of his ride than the regular Ferrari drivers. I predict a podium in his first race back, the European Grand Prix. I've seen Schumi race 4 times at the defunct United States Grand Prix and feel blessed to have seen such a talent.

5. Check out these totally cool slideshows over at Treehugger. I especially like the World Naked Bike Ride, the worlds most impressive subway maps and 10 holes that will blow your mind.

Hope This Happens

Could electric powered trolleys or streetcars return to Louisville? It's possible as plans slowly come together for the return of trolleys to Bardstown Road. While the route isn't yet determined, it's possible that it could run from Downtown, up through Phoenix Hill and into the Highlands. This is part of town is very dense and is perfect for this kind of transit. The tracks would be laid into the concrete and the trolley's would run up and down the street sharing the road with cars. It wasn't all that long ago, actually I guess it was, when trolley cars crisscrossed the city and provided wonderful mass transit. The tracks were paved over around World War II as the automobile took over.

Here's a possible route...

Here's a picture of an old trolley car at Churchill Downs...
Photo courtesy of Daves Rail Pix

Idiot America In All It's Glory

Oh my God, this woman makes Sarah Palin look like a freaking genius...

Ah, I Think I'll Pass On This One

I think the worst thing about being trans is having to live with all of the stupid stereotypes. Tonight, ABC airs a special edition of Primetime Live entitled "He Becomes She". I have no doubt that all of the stupid stereotypes will be on full display tonight and judging by the pictures of the girl they are profiling, it will probably be extra humiliating. No, I won't be watching, I'll probably have a baseball game on our something else a bit more in line with my tastes. You see, shows like this are seldom good for the trans community and usually represent a view that I would just as soon not have to see. The further along I go in this process, the less and less I feel a part of any damn community.

I never was comfortable with the whole trans label and I've done my best to just try and blend into society without making a fuss about much at all. Now I'm sure that some will criticize me for this but I really could care less. I'm not an activist, I don't want to be an activist and stupid shows like this do nothing but reinforce negative stereotypes, stereotypes that I've fought hard to fight. I hate makeup, abhor high fashion, can't stand trans girls who go all girly girly on you and I would much rather tie my hair up in a ponytail as opposed to spending an hour getting it all done up. I like football and car racing, I'd rather spend my time getting dirty in the woods and I'll take a great action movie over some silly romantic comedy anday. I like wearing shorts and tee shirt in summer, jeans and a sweatsheart in winter. In short, I'm just me, the same as I ever was, it just so happens that I now have a different name and breasts where I had none.

If one is so inclined to watch, might I suggest the following drinking game from Pam's House Blend via a few others, with some editing of my own...

1. Putting on makeup. Two drinks for reverse camera shot into mirror.
2. Doing anything better done in jeans and sneakers in heels and a skirt. Examples: cleaning the house, shoveling the sidewalk, yard work, walking the dog. Drink once.
3. Before picture shown. Two drinks for picture in stereotypical male mode (sports team, facial hair, military, wedding tux)
4. Camera shot putting on or taking off a bra. Two drinks
5. Photo of any wig, breast form, padding, etc. One drink
6. Surprise disclosure, when a trans woman is introduced and then partway through the piece, her secret is revealed. Two drinks
7. Camera focus on masculine body parts: hands, feet, Adam's apple, height, etc. One drink
8. Any reference to genital surgery that refers to "becoming a woman" or "finally a woman" One drink
9. Minor chords played softly on a piano Two drinks
10. talk show host saying "you go girl" Three drinks
11. any discussion of plumbing or electricity Just chug it.
12. black and white childhood shots, MTF with cap gun and cowboy hat, FTM as ballerina. One drink
13. Trans woman saying, "I am not a crossdresser. Not that there's anything wrong with that." One drink
14. Trans woman clutching large teddy bear in hospital bed. Just shoot yourself.
15. Birthday balloons after surgery. Throw remote through the TV
16. Trans woman with new boyfriend (after shot of tearful ex-wife). Two drinks
17. Trans woman sitting in chair in above-the-knee skirt, posed so you can see what great gams she has. One drink
18. Patient wheeled off to surgery ... One drink
19. ... lingering shot of the hospital bed with the teddy bear (or wife) left behind. Make it stop, drink as much as you'd like.
20. Shot of protaganist sitting at the computer keyboard, looking at a trans support website or surgeon's website.... Ugh, two drinks.
21. Any helping professional teaching deportment One drink
22. Camera in the operating room - just drink the whole bottle
23. Any and all deployments of soft focus = 1 shot
24. Close up of dotted lines in magic marker on pale fleshy body parts = 1 shot
25. Earnest surgeon describes his motivation as "to help [girlname] become the woman she's always really felt herself to be" = 3 shots
26. Before picture with extreme facial hair - 1 shot
27. Before picture in uniform - Military, Football, etc... - 2 shots
28. Video from hair removal session : Laser - 1 shot, electrolysis - 2 shots
29. Before picture - Last time she wore a dress (F2M) - 1 shots
30. Breast binding - 2 shots
31. Taking Hormones - Self-injecting 3 shots, orals 1 shot
32. Did anyone mention an arduous and lonely childhood? Three shots
33. Meeting the school bully as "the new me" at the High School reunion? Grab the Jaeger bottle and chug
34. Looking at the old picture of self and saying something to the effect of "he was a nice guy...." or "Ken was a lot of fun, but his time is over. It's Ginger's turn now!" Two shots
35. Trans woman claiming to have [intersex] chromosomal pattern, an affinity for washing dishes, a sudden dislike of sports, etc. Open door and scream at top of your lungs, pledge to never tell a soul your story.

As I sit here on this ubelievably cool night with all of the windows open and a lovely breeze blowing through the house, I find myself so incredibly troubled by what is going on inside my mind. I have so much here, my home, family, great friends and a job I love and yet I can't help but feel that I'm not supposed to be here. Maybe you can't take a girl out of the mountains.

At Blackwater Falls in Davis, West Virginia

At Dolly Sods atop Cabin Mountain in Pendelton County, West Virginia

Dolly Sods as seen from Bear Rocks. Dolly Sods is my favorite place to go and get lost.

First Dump of Pictures

My first batch of pictures from West Virginia are now up at my Flickr page. You can access it here.

Back "Home"

I got back from West Virginia last night and had a restless nights sleep in my own bed. I'll have some new pics posted on my flickr page by this afternoon but in the meantime, lets just say that moving back to the mountains is at the top of my to do list.

Country Roads, Take Me Home

This will be my last blog post till late next week as I'm heading out of town on a much needed vacation. Tomorrow morning, I'll head east on Interstate 64 to Charleston, West Virginia, where I'll pick up Interstate 79 north to US Route 33 in Weston. From there, I'll head east an hour till Elkins and Route 219. At that point, I'll head south again, slowly gaining elevation as I head into the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, my ultimate destination being Snowshoe, West Virginia, located a mile up on the southern end of Cheat Mountain. It's where I spent the best years of my life and this trip will be my first bag in almost 9 years.

Making the decision to leave the mountains and return to Louisville was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. In retrospect, it was probably the right decision as my Mom and Brother are both here along with a teaching job that I simply adore. I love living in Louisville, it's one of the most underrated places in America and it's probably where I'll live for the rest of my life, but a part of me longs for the days spent living in what is nothing short of the most beautiful and amazing place on Planet Earth. I've stayed away for one reason and one reason only, my fear that once I get back, I won't ever want to leave.

When people think of West Virginia, they picture abject poverty, coal mines, and uneducated mountain folks living in a third world. Now it's true that part of West Virginia is that way, the coalfields of the southern part of the state are as depressing a sight as any I've ever seen. Thankfully, the eastern third of the state, home to the highest mountains and the outdoor playground of the Mid-Atlantic isn't that way. There isn't a lick of coal to be found, most of the people I knew and met were anything but stupid and while there were pockets of poverty, most people seemed to live a life that was comfortably middle class. In short, it's a lot like most places, only the views are to die for.

I'll see you next week and a big shout out to Mom who will be crashing at the Kelly House and taking care of my three kids, also know as Sammy, River and Shadow. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, high temperatures each day are forecast to be in the low 70's.

The Summer of Greg?

Not working during the summer months, it becomes all too easy to just say the hell with it and go out into the world as my old self. I'm just not very motivated during these months of leisure and to be Kelly, it takes a hell of a lot of work, work that I sometimes just don't feel like doing. Being Greg is so much easier and as I've said many, many times before, I don't get any stares when I go out as Greg. I look like a guy in every possible way and nothing is going to ever change any of that. I actually kind of dread having to go back to work, not because of the work itself, but because it becomes such a hassle to find the energy and strength to become someone that I sometimes think I should have kept hiding.

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Louisville Sprawl

I live inside the urban service boundry of Louisville, roughly designated as anywhere inside the Watterson Expressway. Inside the expressway, you'll find old neighborhoods that were designed for people, not cars. There are lots of high density, mixed use neighborhoods that encourage a sense of community. The streets are largely laid out in a grid fashion with most residences just a few minutes walk to retail and entertainment. There are lots of greenspaces in the form of urban parks and front yards that welcome you to the door, not to the garage. Most parking is offstreet and all areas are well served by mass transit. Buses run along Bardstown Road and other major corridors every couple of minutes and with dedicated bike lanes on many streets, owning a car isn't necessary. Outside of the Watterson Expressway, well, that's a whole different ballgame....

Click on any picture for a larger view.

Roads That Don't Go Anywhere

Round And Round

Can't You Just Imagine The Kind Of People Who Live Here?

Exurban development in Oldham County in Suburban Louisville

The Worst Thing About This Whole Scene Is That You Can't Get Anywhere Without Driving To A Main Road

A Nightmare In Every Sense Of The Imagination

Golf Courses Not Community

Not Sprawl- An inner city neighborhood in the Highlands Neighborhood. This kind of development, complete with walkable streets, multiuse zoning, on street parking and a grid layout would be illegal to build with current zoning rules.

A street level view of the picture above. This is Bardstwon Road at Bonnycastle Avenue and the view is looking north. At this street corner, you will find a grocery store, several restaurants (street parking only), a music shop, several clothing stores, an antique store, a bookstore, several coffee shops and even a head shop. What you won't find are parking lots or chain stores. This is a healthy and vibrant neighborhood and unlike many areas of the metro area, home sales are still strong here and prices continue to rise. People want to live in places like this.

The FDIC is Very Hungry Today

The FDIC was especially hungy this holiday weekend as 7 banks, 6 of them in Illinois, were, as Atrios likes to say, Eaten. For those keeping score, that's 52 bank failures so far this year and I suspect the number will grow substantially as summer fades to fall and into winter. I don't know why the idiots at CNBC seem to think that things are turning around, they aren't by a longshot, but more and more, the so called experts are looking for any sign of optimism and those signs just aren't there. With the number of unemployed continuing to rise, a new set of home foreclosures about to begin and the collapsing retail industry, well, it just keeps getting worse and worse.

Now it's well known that I'm a doomer when it comes to the impending collapse of civilization as we know it but even I didn't expect it to come crumbling down so fast and in this manner. The economic collapse was primarily caused by two things, a crazy ass housing bubble and the record run up in the price of oil last year. Home prices continue to tumble with no end in sight and just in case you haven't been paying attention to the oil markets, well, we are in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and oil is trading at near $70 a barrel.

That tells me two things: The use of ones home as an ATM is never coming back and if we do somehow manage a small recovery, the price of oil will skyrocket once again, sending the economy crashing to the floor again. It's a cycle that we will most likely stay in over the course of the next few decades and it promises to change the way all of us live. As I've said many, many times before, the party is over and while it was a great run and a whole lot of fun, the hangover is proving to be quite painful, especially for those millions of people who have lost their jobs and will probably never get them back.

Happy 4th of July America!

July 2nd?

I'm not sure I can ever remember it being this cool in July, not in Louisville anyway. I have the windows open enjoying some free air conditioning and I have to say, I'm totally loving it.

Update: Todays high of 71 tied the record for a record low minimum high temperature. Back into the mid 80's tomorrow with lots of sunshine. It was nice while it lasted.