BE PROUD, MIGHTY CHIEFS
Mercifully, it's coming to an end. This weekend marks the final Chiefs game of the year. Judging by attendance at Arrowhead, this may come as a surprise. What a disaster.
Following the final whistle, it is expected that Head Coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli will both be shown the door. But we should pause and marvel in just what an incredible job they've done completely screwing up one of the greatest franchises in the NFL. I mean, really. Nice job out of you guys.
The "Patriot Way" which Pioli was said to embody, merely meant walking the floors of your office building with the Darth Vader music playing in the background. He called staff meetings to berate them about wrappers left in the hallway. His regime was marked by intimidation. Everybody loves a jerk if you're winning, but if you're not, then folks around here find a way to expose you for what you are. The Patriot Way/Scott Pioli regime here in Kansas City ended with the same number of Super Bowl rings that I currently own.
And how about Romeo Crennel? He reminds me of the movie "A League of Their Own" when they show a fuzzy, far away shot of Marla Hooch, the team's less than good looking outfielder. "There's Marla Hooch... What a hitter!" as the camera never does zoom into see how ugly she is. Same goes for Romeo. Not for his portly appearance, but because at a 30,000 foot level, he's everything the Chiefs wanted in a head coach. He was a staunch supporter of the players, "a players coach." He was personable and funny. Only thing is that he can't coach. Whoops. It's akin to promoting the fry cook at the local Wendy's to store manager and finding out that he can't count change back to a dollar.
Also expected to be gone is the team's starting quarterback (at least at the beginning of the year) Matt Cassel. This man almost led the Patriots to the playoffs one season. He literally saved someone from drowning. He looks like a quarterback right out of central casting. And this year he turned to wet sand as he looked confused, played poorly and was finally benched for an even lesser QB, Brady Quinn. I've always liked Cassel. I think the Chiefs stink finally caught up with him and exposed him as a terrible quarterback. Of course, that's until he signs with some other team and becomes an MVP candidate. That wouldn't surprise me either.
The man who might've been able to deflect at least a few of the arrows, owner Clark Hunt, found solace anywhere but in front of a microphone. And, apparently, did the same amount of steering as a riderless horse. His leadership was found lacking; something his father was never at a loss for. And now I'm curious why we should think Hunt can now suddenly hire a new GM after hiring such a trainwreck in Pioli?
But most importantly, the fans should just look back on this year and really marvel at what the Chiefs have been able to accomplish here. Blowout losses. Historically comical quarterback play. Whiny wide receivers. Bumbling and stumbling that would make a Keystone Cops movie look like The Notebook. And the cherry on the cake - a murder-suicide by one of their players. Nice job, Chiefs. Good effort.
You've managed to make Kansas City completely forget about the 15 years of suck that has been the drain-circling Royals. You've managed to get this city to not come out to games to drink beer. You've even managed to get this city to embrace soccer. Well done.
So this weekend, sit back and really enjoy the final Chiefs game of the year by embracing it for what it is... the worst team in professional sports having the worst year in professional sports history.
It's hard to imagine anything could top this year. A UFO would have to land at midfield during the kickoff to the Raiders game, spilling out miniature chocolate John Madden's to even come close. But, this being Kansas City, we never say never.
(Our Rambling Moron Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He will soon host another baseball-themed radio show on KCTE 1510. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
THE GREAT EXPERIMENT
For more than 236 years, the United States of America has been known as the greatest experiment in the history of the world. An experiment that began in a new world wrestled from Native Americans with muskets and gunpowder. A new world without modern creature comforts such as plumbing, television, radio, automobiles or even the Internet. (Gasp!) These brave Americans created a structure of government of the people, by the people and for the people as they still died of polio and common infections.
Their America was based on absolute freedoms against the tyranny of the European Monarchies that sought to squelch free-thinking, prayer and representation from and participation in the government. In many ways, their experiment was a grand success. Men set free have unleashed the true power of the human spirit. Under the umbrella of this experiment, man has developed medicines that have cured disease. Scientists have landed humans on the moon. Soldiers have extinguished the hatred and evil of the Third Reich. More so, since the dawn of the modern, electronic age, Man has become more successful in the past 50 years than in the entire tens of thousands of years at an exponential rate.
But here is where the experiment begins to fail. The freedoms granted by the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and protected with the lives of great Americans and great soldiers have not protected its citizens as much as they have guaranteed freedom for those who wish to live on the outskirts of honor and decency.
Freedom allows a man to leave a bar under the influence of alcohol and murder an innocent couple driving home from a party. Freedom allows a bully to abuse a young boy on his Facebook page. Freedom allows a group to raise a banner reading "God Hates Fags" under the umbrella of religious protection as a black hearse drives slowly past, carrying the body of a soldier who died while protecting those very freedoms in a foreign land. Freedom allows a troubled boy to take an automatic weapon with a clip that holds a massive number of bullets to break into a school and kill dozens of six year old children.
Where is the freedom for that couple killed by the drunk driver? For the child forever mentally damaged by hurtful speech? For the family of that fallen soldier? For those parents who have now had to bury their child? Where are their protections? This is where the great experiment is blind. It goes so far to protect the criminals and those who live their lives outside of decent society and it has another set of standards for those who choose to just live their lives, but for an honest day's work at an honest day's pay. For those who pay their taxes and their bills; put a few small comforts under the Christmas tree or the Hanukkah Menorah or the Festivus Pole - or those that don't worship at all. Where is our freedom?
I'm not sure I want to live in a world where the man shooting my child has more protections than I do. That doesn't seem fair and it doesn't seem like what our founding fathers meant to have happen 236 years ago. Of course it isn't. They crafted their laws and their ideals based upon their time and their place. That place is not here. This time is not their time. There needs to be more mature laws and more evolved ideas. They can still certainly honor the core beliefs of this country, but in a more modern and civilized way.
What those rules and laws and protections are, I'm not smart enough to say. But these discussions and debates must happen. And they must happen knowing that we are failing the intention of those men. They wanted life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, there is none of those if you are gunned down by those who don't have respect for those pursuits.
There are no answers in this column. I wish there were. I wish there were answers for those who were murdered last week. I wish there were answers for those who have died to drunk drivers last year and those who had to endure the obscenities of the Westboro Baptist "Church" and those who were bullied into killing themselves at the hand of electronic bullies.
But I will promise to honor those that deserve honor and freedom and fight those that do not. That is my freedom.
(Our Rambling Moron Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He will soon host another baseball-themed radio show on KCTE 1510. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE. . .
The stockings are hung. The egg nog is spiked. Uncle Joe is half in the bag. Ahhhh. It's Christmas once again in Kansas City.
But does this year really feel like Christmas? Last year was one thing - as we went just about the entire winter without snow - but this year has been even worse. I went Christmas shopping last weekend at Zona Rosa in shorts and a light jacket. The girls walking in and out of Forever 21 were wearing their August short skirts. The only thing that told you it was Christmas was the giant crown hanging in the courtyard lit up with lights. Even the sky has been a beautiful bright blue instead of the traditional Kansas City-grey sky.
My mother is devastated. "This isn't Christmas," she cries! I can understand, to a point. I do remember having snow as early as November. And snowy Thanksgivings seemed to be commonplace for me as a child. We would slosh through the snow to my Aunt Jackie's and inevitably yell at my father as he'd go in and out the back door to have a cigarette, leaving the nearby dining room shivering.
The Chiefs aren't helping by filling the Christmas season with so much suck that it would take a million vacuum cleaners to equal it. Something definitely feels off this holiday season. I was outside playing wiffle ball in the yard the other evening. In shorts.
But does the weather define what Christmas means? To some, Christmas is spirit of the birth of Jesus Christ, who teaches all of Mankind the lessons of joy, peace and love. To others, it's waiting in a two hour line to save $20 on a 60 inch television. To others, it's simply scrambling at the CVS at the last minute to find a white elephant gift for the office Christmas party. How about that $15 cassette tape player? Perfect.
The weather, to me, simply means that we don't have to drive three miles an hour on the way to the CVS. The calendar isn't even cooperating because Christmas is on a Tuesday. I have to work that Monday and again on Wednesday. Merry friggin' Christmas.
I guess in some respects it feels a little less genuine when Bing Crosby is singing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, when in fact it's your nuts roasting because you wore your long underwear to Aunt Edna's and it's 65 degrees outside. But the pie is just as tasty, the Christmas ham is just as good. The dinner with friends and family gets just as out of hand once the Rumplemintz starts to flow.
So, this Christmas, just try to focus less on the clear streets and the lack of potholes and focus more and more on the meaning of Christmas... taking an afternoon off work to buy myself that iPad and looking surprised when I tear open the wrapping paper on Christmas morning.
(Our Rambling Moron Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He will soon host another baseball-themed radio show on KCTE 1510. See him at The Landmark Christmas party on Friday and reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
$AY FELLA, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?
Platte County continues to be the epicenter of activity and unique stories this year. And this one might be the biggest yet. The sprinkling of everyday luck turned into a monsoon last week when Mark and Cindy Hill of Dearborn won, and I think I have this figure correct, a gajillion dollars in the Powerball.
Now, like you, when I heard this, my mind went through the following stages: 1) Damn, it wasn't me; 2) That's great for that family; 3) Man, that's very close to me and; 4) I wonder how I can become that couple's best friend.
Get ready, Hills, you are now sitting at the popular table in middle school. Your TrexMart has now turned into the TrexMart Country Club.
So, if you're like me, here are some do's and don't's when breaking the ice with the Hills if you are unsure how to respond to their good fortune:
** Don't just knock on their door. You need to be more subtle. For instance, I have chosen to write a thinly veiled advertisement in a local newspaper masked as a weekly column. Yours probably won't be as creative as mine, but there might be some money left over after they write me a big check for being clever.
** Do be prepared with a list of things you'd do with the money if, for instance, the Hill Family wrote you a check for $1,000 or $10,000 or $100,000. What would the top five things be? Laminate it and put it in your pocket. Carry it with you at all times. You never know when you might meet the Hill Family.
** Do start attending North Platte High School football games. It won't be hard to do. I hear the seats in the stadium will be gold-plated with a massive Jumbotron.
** Do play to your strengths. For instance, if I ran a newspaper, I might put a giant 72 point headline on the front page saying something like, LOCAL NEWSPAPER SURE COULD USE A WEBSITE UPGRADE. Again, we're going for subtle, but not TOO subtle.
** Don't be a jerk if it takes the Hill family more than a few weeks to identify how clever you're being. It's a big undertaking for the Hill's. I mean, what would you do if you were in their shoes? If you're like me, you'd be looking for clever, handsome newspaper columnists to grant wishes to. After putting aside a couple of bucks for your family, of course.
** Do begin plotting out your degrees of separation. How many mutual friends do you have on Facebook? When I heard last week, the discussion immediately went to "my sister's cousin went to school with her brother's uncle." These are important statistics to know in case you're ever introduced. "Oh hey Mister Hill. My Grandma Emily used to babysit your cousin's mother's brother in law Larry." "Oh, you're Larry's kid? Here's $20 grand." This is how I assume it will go.
** Do be friendly. For instance, make sure that the Hill family knows that the annual Platte County Landmark Christmas Party is Dec. 14, for instance. Gifts are optional. And by optional, I mean highly recommended.
** Do have a solid understanding of journalistic ethics and understand that you should never use a column as an excuse to pander for money or gifts. No matter how bad the transmission is in your car.
In all sincerity, congratulations to the Hill Family. I am sure you will be wonderful stewards of an incredible fortune.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He will soon host another baseball-themed radio show on KCTE 1510. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
FUTURE TEXTS FROM YOUR LOCAL ENTITIES
I read this week that the City of Riverside started a new text messaging service for its residents where they will send out emergency texts as they are warranted. So, if there are city-wide announcements that need to be made, such as the closing of a street, or a tornado watch, you can get that information right there on your phone.
Residents interested in receiving these text messages can go to www.riversidemo.org and get signed up. The website doesn't indicate how frequently the texts will go out or what a typical text will contain. I can only assume the sleepy river town may just be reduced to texting pictures of pancakes and biscuits and gravy from Corner Cafe, but it remains to be seen.
Riverside has been in the driver's seat through the past several years with social media. Their website has been revamped as has their Facebook page. Their “Upstream for Ordinary” initiative continues with this text messaging program.
What a great thing it is for a municipality to be so forward thinking in staying in contact with their citizens. Could this indicate a growing trend for other Platte County entities? What might they offer their population?
7:15 AM: <from City of Riverside> ANNOUNCEMENT: Is this thing on?
8:24 AM: <from Platte County School District> SCHOOL BULLETIN: Yes. Another principal was found "visiting" a "pretty woman" at a KCI motel. Job Posting is available at our website.
11:46 AM: <from Platte City Police> EMERGENCY ANNOUNCEMENT: Police will be installing backyard cameras in your neighborhood this afternoon. Put on some pants.
2:15 PM: <from City of Parkville> CITY CALENDAR: Golf Cart Grand Prix this Saturday down 64th Street. Bring your own helmet.
4:15 PM: <from City of Tracy> HELP WANTED: Someone to fix broken sign. Must be related to Mayor.
5:17 PM: <from KCP&L> ODOR ALERT: The odor near the airport, turns out that it's your Uncle Larry. He apparently had beans for dinner.
Communication is key for so many municipalities and we here at The Landmark applaud their attempts to keep their residents updated.
Quite honestly, the possibilities are endless here. Let's hope this text messaging phenomenon will catch on and stick.
Even The Landmark can get with the program and move toward the 21st Century. My guess is that Editor Foley's first tweet will be this:
<from Platte County Landmark> Don't forget the Annual Landmark Christmas Party December 14 from 4-8 p.m. at Comfort Inn!
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He will soon host another baseball-themed radio show on KCTE 1510. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
WE'LL BE WATCHING YOU
Quite the kerfuffle in the last couple of weeks about the Platte City Police Department allegedly placing a surveillance camera on private property and pointing it at a citizen's house. As has been documented right here in these Landmark pages, somebody is in a heap of trouble down at Police HQ.
As is normally the case, I just think everyone is getting worked up over nothing. Why shouldn't the police department be able to put surveillance devices onto your property? Maybe they're just watching your satellite dish? Maybe they don't have Showtime and want to watch Homeland. You would deny the Police Department's Constitutional right to watch Claire Danes' Emmy worthy performance? What are you? A Communist?
Ever since we were children, we were taught that the police are our friends and should be trusted implicitly. More so, that they need complete cooperation when doing their jobs. Even if that job is to put up cameras on your kids' backyard swingset. Maybe they had a swingset like that when they were kids and want a constant reminder 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Honestly, you're making a lot out of it.
You were the same Platte City citizens that raised a fuss about the city wanting to expand the reach of a search warrant ordinance. This ordinance would let a municipal judge, like Judge Harry, from TV's Night Court, to issue a search of a property for just about any reason. You would deny Judge Harry? What about Bull? That guy was funny.
Truth is, methinks the good citizens of Platte City doth protest too much. I don't know why the city has its heart set on knowing everything about you, your family and your business, but I'm sure it's a good reason. Maybe they are planning a surprise party for you and want to know when you're coming and going so they can invite all your friends over. Parties are fun. What do you have against parties?
Here's what I suggest. How about you just give them what they want. Go ahead and e-mail them your Facebook username and password, too. I'm sure they'd love to see photos of that surprise party.
People of Platte City, you've just got to lighten up. The Fourth Amendment was really just a last-minute add-in when they needed something after Freedom of Speech and those other ones.
A complete lack of privacy has been proven effective in great countries like China. Didn't you see the Olympics a few years ago? Don't you see all the great toys that come out of China? What do you have against the Olympics and toys? You see? YOU are the problem. Not the police.
I'd like to encourage all of you to just take a moment and think about reconsidering the lawsuits and the calls for the police chief to resign and the ACLU involvement. Nobody wants those things. Go ahead and sit down in your favorite comfy chair. Our records indicate it's that red one, next to the coffee table. Grab a bottle of beer. It's behind the pickles. And don't forget to pick up some more. The wife forgot to get some at the store - or at least that's what our documentation says.
People of Platte City, I think you owe your police chief an apology.
In the meantime, we'll be keeping an eye on the situation... and you.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He is set to host another baseball-themed radio show on KCTE 1510 soon. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
IT'S THAT TIME
Tonight, the questions started.
"Daddy, when I get to middle school, will I have to change clothes for gym class?" The question was asked at about 6:30, just as we were clearing the dinner dishes. Which, for us, meant that we put the paper plates in the trash and moved from one end of the couch to the other. But it also meant a rare moment when one of us wasn't engaged in some singing show and another one was doing work and another one was playing video games. This was a family moment, so I took the bait and answered his question. "Yes, you have to change clothes for PE when you get to middle school. Just act like you're not completely freaked out by it and move on with your day."
"So, when I get to middle school, I get to pick my classes?" "Well sure, son," I put my hand on his knee and looked at the boy who once slept so soundly on my chest just days after being born, "you get to pick all of your classes."
“That'd be great. I can pick all math classes." (My son's a little odd.)
"Daddy, about my voice. Will it crack during class?" I removed my hand from his knee and stood up. I exchanged a look with my wife. Our eyes met for only a moment, but in that moment we had an entire conversation. The look of terror dropped like a pall over her face. I got up and poured myself a drink. We knew where this was heading. "Yes," my wife answered, "your voice will break. Just like that kid on the 'Brady Bunch.'" My son looked at us. "The what?" "Never mind. Yes, your voice will break."
The liquor stung as it hit the back of my throat. Because the memories of being 10 started flooding through my mind. All the things I thought I knew, and all of the lessons I'd have to learn in the next couple of years. The questions kept coming and my glass kept needing a refill. My wife went to the kitchen several times to wash dishes that weren't there. Questions about the logistics of how a voice breaks, why a voice breaks, why the boy on the Brady Bunch's voice breaks. The singing show that my wife watches had ended, but he just kept talking.
Like a runaway freight train, the inquisitions raced by two shellshocked parents. What started as a question about gym class evolved into math classes in 7th grade and whether he'd still have the same friends and whether he was old enough to have a job shoveling snow. A light sweat started on my forehead.
Oh yes, I knew where this was heading.
"Daddy, so, do you think I'll get a swirly from bullies at middle school?" Each question was answered, which then led to more questions. More questions led to more answers and the only salvation was that it was getting closer to bed time.
"Daddy, in middle school, I hear you have to dissect a frog. When I'm 13, do you think I'll want to dissect a frog?"
This question was a trick. An unseasoned parent would think that this question was about a frog. But you're missing it if you don't pay attention. This question now comes at the 13-year mark. And when you follow his logic, in his mind, now the mind of a future 13-year-old, there's only one question left. . .
"Daddy, about girls..."
Oh look. It's bed time.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he’s known as @TheFakeNed. He is set to host another baseball-themed radio show on KCTE 1510 AM this winter. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS KIT IDEAS
What an incredible disaster we've just seen on the East Coast. Seeing the devastation really reminded me of the 1993 Super Flood that impacted Parkville and Riverside as well as last year's high waters. Just as people from across the country did for us, now's a good time to go over to www.redcross.org and donate a few bucks to help.
After seeing all of the devastation that Hurricane Sandy wrought on the East Coast, I took a quick inventory of my family's Emergency Preparedness Kit. It was... lacking.
At one point in time we actually made a kit with a case of water, some flashlights, a radio. But one Fourth of July we ran out of water, so we raided it. Then the power went out last winter so we grabbed the flashlights, then lost them. There is still a radio downstairs. But we don't get a good signal down there.
So my goal this week is to put together a Northlander's Emergency Preparedness kit. In addition to restocking the water, grabbing batteries for the flashlights and getting a better radio, I figured those of us North of the River would need some additional things that only Northlanders would appreciate:
•A copy of the Platte County Landmark - Who knows how long the power will be out after a storm? Your iPad's batteries will only take you so far. The REAL thing you need to keep you company is this here Landmark. Plus, it doubles as toilet paper if you get in a pinch.
•Some Slim Jims from Casey's General Store. Hey. Who DOESN'T love Caseys? We are big fans of them here at The Landmark - mostly because about 40% of our stories are about their managers and employees. So show them a little love and stock up some non-perishables from their shelves.
•Phone numbers for key public services in your area. Just write down the department and the phone numbers and not the names of the administrators responsible. Because most or all of them will be fired between now and when your emergency might hit.
•You should also pack whatever type of self-defense materials you feel comfortable with. This is Platte County - there could be any sort of emergency - from kangaroos escaping, to burrowing animals cutting your power lines. You never know what might happen from minute to minute around here. Lock and load.
•Beer. This one seems obvious. But you can never be too careful. This inventory also needs to be rotated regularly. For safety.
•Some “toys” to entertain you during the prolonged outage. You don't know what emergency might befall you and for how long. You need to make sure you have enough “entertainment” to make it through your time with only the “bare” necessities. Platte County might be doing its best to outlaw sex of any kind - but in the wake of a disaster, you need to make sure you have enough to get you through the night.
•Golf cart. Hey, if you can afford it, you can now operate your golf cart on certain streets in Parkville. Better make sure that golf cart is charged. It's likely to be chaos out there and you need to make sure you're prepared.
Bottom line is that you can never be too prepared for emergencies. While our hearts certainly ache for those who have lost in the Northeast, we need to be mindful of the perils we live with daily here in the Midwest. Stock up. Be prepared. Keep the beer fridge full.
(In addition to patronizing Casey’s, Chris Kamler has hosted radio shows and podcasts. Find him on Twitter as @TheFakeNed or through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
ONLY ACTIONS OF THE PEOPLE GET THINGS DONE
This time next week we'll be cheering or jeering the election of a president of the United States as well as a slew of Congressmen, Senators, councilmen and heck, maybe we even have a few new high school principals in Platte County.
One thing is certain, more than half of the country will be upset on the day after Election Day. Not just upset, pissed. And while local, state and federal government is very important in our day to day lives, it really is bellyaching over something which you have very little control. What you can control is your actions on how you respond to the election.
Some will choose to complain in their local coffee shop, or in the newspaper or on television. How well is that working? That time you spend complaining... can't it be used towards other purposes? I saw on Twitter the other night where Ann Coulter called President Obama a “retard.” Also Todd Akin comparing his opponent to a dog. How is that helping? I remember my Dad's voice echoing in my ears when by brother and I would get in a fight, “Can't you boys be doing something better with your time like cleaning up the house?”
So, let me propose this. How about you take a day off from complaining about the government on the day after Election Day Just one day. How about everyone takes that day and writes the following letter to whomever your new or incumbent president, senator, congressman, state congressional parties, etc. E-mails and addresses are easily available in The Landmark and other outlets. In that letter say the following:
Dear <Elected Official>,
I may or may not have voted for you. I am writing you on the day after the election to ask a simple question. How can I help the country move forward? What can I do to help?
If Washington and Jefferson City and Platte City are truly as screwed up as you say they are, then you're out the total of a couple of bucks in stamps and 30 minutes of your time. But maybe, just maybe you get a letter or two back. The challenge will be what you do with that letter when you get it.
The way we get our country out of this funk isn't through words, it's through actions. Actions from all of us. No columnist or talking head is going to fix a thing. We never have and we never will. It's only through the actions of the people, for whom government works, that we get anything done
Give it a try. Share with me if you got anything back.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He has hosted radio shows and podcasts. He desires peace on earth and long walks on the beach. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com.)
THIS ISN'T THE FUTURE WE WERE PROMISED
A couple of weeks ago, we saw a world record broken by Felix Baumgartner who jumped out of a weather balloon from 25 miles above the earth. On his way down, he broke the speed of sound, reaching a top speed of 833 miles per hour wearing nothing but a few sheets of Aluminum Foil.
“That's great,” I tweeted, “but I'm still waiting for my flying car.”
It seems that this generation has been jipped of their technological advances. We're in a black hole of inventions. Unless, of course, you count the app that makes fart noises on your iPhone.
The children of the 20's and 30's grew up and were given telephones, radio and the promises of Buck Rogers. The children of the 40's and 50's saw the technological inventions born from a world at war like automobiles and television. The kids of the 60's were given space flight and a moon landing. My generation - the children of the 70's and 80's were given jack squat.
Oh, sure, my childhood was focused on the future we were supposed to get. The ones promised in Star Wars and Star Trek. But where's my service robot? After I write this column, I'm going to have to go upstairs and make my own breakfast. C3P0 was supposed to be doing that for me. Where's my laser gun? The only laser I can get ahold of is one that will fix my cataracts or erase that tattoo of an old girlfriend's name off my butt.
My childhood was filled with shows like Knight Rider that promised intelligent technology and talking cars. The closest thing that comes to it is the iPhone's “Siri,” but have you tried to have a conversation with her? I've gotten more wrong answers from that girl than on my college chemistry exam. The iPhone is probably the preeminent technological advance of the 21st Century. But have you tried actually making a call from that phone?
My 5th grade Science Fair project was all about the Space Shuttle, the brand new mode of transportation that was going to send folks to space as often as once a week. Now, you see photos of Space Shuttle Endeavor being trucked through the streets of Los Angeles to live the rest of its days in mothballs at a California museum, leaving only the International Space Station the mantle of manned spaceflight that was handed down decades ago in my childhood.
And then we come to the flying car, popularized by The Jetsons. I recall how excited I was going to be as I was dropped off at school by by parents by being literally dropped out of the bottom of our flying car. Just last week, I dropped off my son out of a Ford Freestyle after waiting in a 10 minute line. Furthermore, I went in the WRONG line and was scolded by a woman who looks as if she spent her early days IN the 1940's dreaming of the days she could scold someone in a flying car.
No, this isn't the future we were promised. We can't transport ourselves across a room. Nor can we order our own R2D2 to change a lightbulb. But hopefully, my son can drop his daughter Judy, of course, from his Chevrolet Feather flying car. . .and not just some guy dropping out of an even higher weather balloon.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He has hosted radio shows and podcasts and is doing some high internet radio high school football play by play. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
THE LOGISTICS OF RENOUNCING STUFF
Recently, presidential candidate Mitt Romney renounced controversial remarks about the 47% of Americans, he contested, he wasn’t running for and would always be looking for a handout from the government. Immediately following those comments last month, Romney had multiple opportunities to clarify and he generally stood by the statement. It wasn’t until nearly a month later that Romney, in a Fox News interview, “renounced” them saying “this whole campaign is about the 100%.”
Regardless of if you think this is a wise political strategy that might be timed to take advantage of a popularity swell following a good showing at the first debate, I’m in nothing but admiration of the ability to simply “renounce” comments.
What’s the logistics behind renouncing something? Do little elves wipe the comment away from all texts? Does Scott Bakula Quantum Leap back in time to change the statement? Does Will Smith blink that little pen thingy to erase your memories?
There are hundreds of comments I’d have liked to “renounce” throughout my life. Where do I sign up for it? Is there a cost? Do I fill out an online form and link it to a PayPal account? Because I’d like to get a piece of that.
So here goes... A somewhat comprehensive list of things that I’d love to renounce:
1) I would like to renounce my comments to a young female woman, on the night of my 21st Birthday, when I quietly explained to her that I do, in fact, know how to Cabbage Patch. I regret the error.
2) I would like to renounce my comments and subsequent actions last year at Kelly’s Westport Inn to another woman, this one not quite as young, who insisted she see my belly button. I apologize that you passed out. I regret the error and would like to renounce my actions. It's also possible that she never, in fact, asked to see my belly button.
3) While we’re at it, if we can renounce pretty much everything I’ve said and/or done near or while under the influence of alcohol. That will shorten this column and clear up items 4 through 1,391.
1392) I wholeheartedly renounce my comments to editor Ivan Foley when I mentioned to him that “sure, I can write, I’m a writer.” As evidenced by the previous year’s worth of columns in this space, that couldn’t have been further from the truth and I would like to apologize for those comments and renounce those comments.
1393) For just about everything I’ve ever said to my wife that has caused her to stomp off, I renounce those comments.
Okay, so we’re all square here now. Nothing more to renounce. Man, that feels great.
To celebrate, I think I’m going to have a beer and write a column. I can always renounce those comments next week.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He has hosted radio shows and podcasts. He has renounced stuff. Reach him through his intriguing web site, ramblingmorons.com)
SOMETIMES 'I DON'T KNOW' IS THE BEST ANSWER
Political season, for me, has always been a war of attrition. Usually, you get to vote for the last man (or woman) standing. A candidate has to survive a rigorous primary season, survive countless debates, interviews and interactions with voters for up to a year or more before election day - all under the white-hot light of a watching public.
Then, once they've passed that hurdle, they have to do it all over again against a single opponent with all of the power and energy that it's their first time. This time for months on end.
The goal... simple. Don't screw up. Can you imagine not going out in public for a year without a piece of lettuce in your teeth or with one black sock and one blue sock? Or living for an entire year without letting a single F-Bomb fly, or without running a stop sign? Well, for some reason, we ask this of those who wish to serve us in Congress and the Presidency.
And I love it. I do. It's popcorn time for me. Because these politicians never seem to disappoint.
Take everyone's favorite candidate Todd Akin, for example. Akin is the epitome of the old Mark Twain quote, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” He has been public moron #1 this campaign season. First, he was the object of late night host's jokes everywhere after he implied that women have some sort of super powerful defenses for rape sperm in cases of “legitimate rape”. My only regret is that he didn't get an opportunity to clarify those remarks and tell us exactly what kind of defenses women have against rape-caused pregnancies. Counter charges? The old “hey sperm!! Over here!!” defense? Maybe the old “got'chur nose” game with advancing sperm?
Even after the death sentence of being the top laughing stock of election season, he STILL managed to come back from the dead and somehow get past his own party calling for him to drop out. He got the rare second life in the video game that is politics. So what does he do? Well, he goes on the offensive and attacks his opponent, Claire McCaskill by saying she wasn't very “lady like” in her debates. Talk about your facepalms.
With Akin's luck, he'll win the dang election.
And the presidential election hasn't brought anything better. Mitt Romney is doing his best Todd Akin impression blasting out stupid thing after stupid thing. First, it was the guffaw about preparedness for a terrorist attack in London WHILE HE WAS IN LONDON AT THE OLYMPICS. Then made a number of gaffes showing his favorability rating drop through the basement including alienating 47% of the country saying that he didn't want those folks voting for him anyway.
Ah, but as Mr. Twain so rightly noted, you can't fix stupid, so in walks President Obama to say even dumber things, including saying that the economy might NEVER be fixed.
Ends up Twain was right about idiots. And politicians could take another tip from Mr. Twain as he also once said, “I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said I don't know.”
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He has hosted radio shows and podcasts, likes baseball, loves America. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
THE STUPIDITY OF BOMB THREATS
I used to have a Geo Tracker with a soft-top. I made the mistake of buying a fairly nice radio in that piece of crap car and left it on the street overnight. Sure enough, I woke up one morning and the radio had been stolen. But not before the soft top windows had been sliced open in six different places.
So, not only did some petty thief take off with my $200 radio, but he caused me another $500 in damage just by being a punk. I've never understood that mentality. I was reminded of that while watching the news about a rash of bomb threats in the country.
I'm certain that the increased racial and religious violence in the world has accelerated these threats but the use of the bomb threat as a weapon is the most curious.
Let's start with the belief that 99.999% of bomb threats are hoaxes. It's the chance of that .001% that freaks people out.
It seems that the “bomb threat” would be the most cowardly way to interrupt someone's day. It's weaker than simply making a sign and protesting something, like the Westboro Baptists do. It's more chicken than actually shooting someone or blowing something up like we've seen all too often. It's even weaker than that kid that slashed up my Geo Tracker soft top. At least he accomplished a burglary.
No, the bomb threat is saved for someone so angry and so weak that they'd like to make their mark on the work, but, yet, don't have the stones to go through with it because they don't want to die in a hail of police gunfire. A coward's coward.
While it seems like a recent bomb threat incident in Downtown Kansas City did end up being a misunderstanding, look at all the time and money that went into mobilizing the bomb squad. Dozens of local businesses in that area were evacuated. Restaurants closed. Heck, think of all that chopper fuel from the news helicopters that was burned.
For the 99.999% validation that it was a hoax, and later turned into a complete misunderstanding.
There've been a number of others, however, in recent weeks. One at the University of Texas that closed campus for a day. One in Pittsburgh against a police 911 center. And then some knucklehead or knuckleheads who have been phoning in bomb threats to Wal-Marts across the country for the past several months.
Somebody REALLY doesn't like low prices.
Bomb threats used to be saved for the stoner who wanted to get out of taking an important test, but it now seems that that stupidity has started to spread.
The phony bomb threat just interrupts hundreds of people's days, causes tons of hours in labor and never amounts to anything. It's like going to someone's house and pouring a jar of mustard on their carpet while they're watching. It's just a punk thing to do. Do the right thing and just steal a car stereo.
(Chris is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He has hosted radio shows and podcasts. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
MOMENT OF SILENCE
It was the silence that I’ll probably remember the most. The complete absence of any sound. It happened only for a brief millisecond. But it was absolute. Black. Silence.
Long away were the sounds of computer keyboards and phone ringtones. Long away were the sounds of waves, laughter and volleyballs that I had heard just moments earlier.
There was absolutely no sound.
It is at this moment that I begin this story, the penultimate moment where I came to a quite literal fork in my life.
This moment lasted only a handful of milliseconds, but the silence still rings in my head. The moment just before the sandy floor of the Pacific Ocean began to split the skin on my face. The moment just after I made the ill-fated decision to catch a wave that seemed a little bigger than the ones I had caught before. The moments just after I learned key rules to body boarding. . .from the ambulance driver who was transporting me to the E.R. The moments just after I had to be convinced to even try body surfing by my buddies--during a 20-year reclamation of my youth. And moments just after I was the one that convinced THEM to go back into the water because I was having so much fun.
It was a moment just after I laughed with old high school friends and moments before I would laugh even harder with those same men--lifelong friends.
The moment came days after another moment of karma and months after moments that could’ve left me floating in the ocean alone.
The moment that changed everything. And yet, I long for it to go back to when nothing had changed. That moment of silence will stay with me forever
The complete absence of any sound and possibly the last moment I would have feeling in my limbs. Everything was about to change, and it all starts with this total and absolute moment of silence.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the beginning of a brief memoir of what happened to Chris last weekend. He describes it as a moment that changed his life forever, while also getting him on the road to getting back to his brand of normal. He has written an entire series of essays on this incident and if you are interested in reading more, you can read the entire series at www.ramblingmorons.com. Chris will be adding sections throughout the week. His normal column will return next week.
JOE AMERICAN, SQUARELY IN THE MIDDLE
I'm the problem.
I'm the Joe American that is squarely in the middle class and wants to think Republican, while also needing a little bit of air support from the Democrats. I've voted for presidents from both parties and I've instantly regretted many of those votes seconds after they were cast.
I am swayed by public opinion. I am swayed by news outlets with their own ax to grind. I want to help my fellow man, while at the same time wanting to make sure my country isn't bankrupt when I go to get my share.
I am confused and both overinformed and underinformed at the same time.
Who will I vote for in this election? I've watched an equal number of minutes of both political conventions (approximately 15 - both while preparing for my Fantasy Football draft). I read educated columnists like the ones on this editorial page here in The Landmark and whatever writers are left at the Kansas City Star. Everyone makes good points. President Obama is referred to as both the beginning and the end of the world and the hype machine on both sides is too much to comprehend.
And when did it become about plus or minus anyway? Just driving down the highway, you can see dozens of models of cars - every American makes that choice in a very personal way. But we get the choice of two guys in the end for president? Doesn't seem right.
At this point, even as a registered Republican, I am leaning towards voting for President Obama because I think he's earned another 4 years to finish what he started. I don't have the same reservations about Obamacare that many of you do. (Full disclosure: I work in the medical technology field, so Obamacare ultimately helps me.) I think he took over an economy wracked by 9/11 and Bush overspending and I, personally, am slightly better off than I was 4 years ago. So I think he's earned that.
On the other hand, the Romney camp makes good points about leading this country into a financial catastrophe and that spending has to be brought under control. I could honestly give two craps about all of the social issues. I think the government is here to make sure we don't get killed by foreign invaders and make sure we have roads to drive our gas guzzling cars on. See? I told you I was a Republican.
I can tell you that I feel my role in the political process slowly starting to slip away.
Whatever President takes office in January, I have absolutely zero confidence that Congress will let him enact his vision of America. And for whomever I vote for in Congress, I have an even lesser level of confidence that they'll be able to find their rear with a flashlight and a map.
Ultimately, in September, I have no idea what I'm going to do the first week in November.
My guess is, I'm not alone.
I'm the problem.
(Chris is active on Twitter as @TheFakeNed. He has hosted radio shows and podcasts. Ask him about it. Reach him through his website at ramblingmorons.com)
DON'T EXPECT TO SNIFF A CHAMPIONSHIP
The heavens finally opened up and liquid dropped from the sky for a full day last week - this made me rush to my calendar to confirm that... yes... it is, indeed, FOOTBALL SEASON. Now, although I'm often labeled a “baseball guy,” that still doesn't mean I can't use football season as an excuse to sit on the couch from 9 a.m. Saturday morning until midnight on Sunday. Oh.. and Monday night also... watching football.
I'm not sure I can even come up with a good argument that baseball is better than football. Football is certainly more American. George Will once said that “football combines two of the worst things in American life. It is violence punctuated by committee meetings.” Yet, America is football crazy. Heck, one of the only reasons that President Obama could possibly claim for re-election is that he fixed the BCS and brought us a football playoff championship in college football.
Sure, our favorite teams are in varying states of disarray. The K-State Wildcats and Missouri Tigers seem destined to be the top of the second tier in their respective conferences. Kansas is struggling to spell the word “football,” and then we have our beloved Kansas City Chiefs.
If this year's Royals team has made me hit my limit of cynicism, then this year's Chiefs team is liable to make me the lead writer of an Aaron Sorkin show. I have ZERO expectations for this team. Well, actually, that's not true. I expect to be stupefied at how inept this team will be. Last year, we suffered through injuries and Todd Haley cussing so much my kid learned three new words and then there was something called Tyler Palko. As bad as last year's season was, I'm betting the Chiefs can top it this year. Sure, they might win more games, but that's due to us being able to play Oakland and San Diego four times a year.
I remember once going out to Arrowhead and watching five cars burning in the parking lot after some rocket scientist tucked his smouldering embers from his tailgate under the bed of his truck. So nothing really surprises me out there anymore - but this year - I expect to be floored.
I'm expecting something monumentally terrible from One Arrowhead Drive this season - perhaps a football will actually hatch and while everyone stands over the newly hatched football, a baby dove will bring the Hunt family a check for $1 million. Or maybe the Broncos new quarterback, some kid named Peyton Manning, might actually throw a football THROUGH one of our defenders. Or unicorns. Unicorns would surprise me.
My point is that I expect this season to be another flop for the Chiefs. Matt Cassel isn't our guy and cannot hope to lead this team to anything other than a teeth-whitening convention.
Nope. This year, we won't sniff a championship here in Kansas City from the Chiefs, Tigers, Wildcats or the Chickenhawks. But that's not going to stop me from watching every snap, every whistle and every huddle from Saturday to Monday (and the occasional Thursday and Friday for good measure.) Football is back.
(Our man Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He has also hosted radio shows, has been to a couple county fairs and rodeos, stuff like that. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
REWRITING HISTORY IS A FOOL'S ERRAND
There's been this rash of governing bodies lately removing history as a way of punishment of transgressions. Put simply, people are trying to rewrite history. I don't see how this is, in any way, an appropriate penalty for people cheating.
Last month, we had the NCAA strip all wins between 1998 and 2011 by the Penn State Football program because of the university's involvement in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Last week, we had the USADA, the governing body of United States Cycling, revoke all of Lance Armstrong's Tour De France titles - a record seven in all - because of allegations of doping by Armstrong and other members of his team.
In 2010, after allegations that Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo both took money from boosters, wins and championships from USC were vacated dating back to 2004.
These situations are clearly serious and indications of serious moral issues - but why take away the wins? Does that mean the guy who finished second in the race gets the medals? Usually, no. Does that mean the teams that lost those games - sometimes by double digits - should somehow feel better about losing? No. The whole idea is silly.
Sure, these cheaters should be labeled as such. They shouldn't ever get a chance to endorse razors, or ask for money for charities, or be put on a Wheaties box. But you can't ever rewrite history. Ever. History is just that. Truth. You can learn from history - study history - but taking an eraser to the history books is stupid.
What if we could apply the same theory to real life? Every time a politician lies to us, we can go back and remove a stupid law they made. I'm sure recently ousted Tracy Mayor, Rita Rhodes would love this. We could go back and “vacate” fixing the broken sign that led to her ouster and just say it never happened. Whoops, that error was vacated.
Maybe we could go back through our high school yearbooks and rewrite that sophomore class photo when you wore the UBU pink shirt. Or “adjust” who you went to prom with your junior year. It's okay, that's what the International Olympic Committee did to 1988 Weightlifter from Hungary Andor Szanyi, when they took away his Bronze medal for doping. You see, you don't know about it, because IT NEVER HAPPENED. (Pretend I wave my arms in front of your face like David Copperfield.)
I'd love to go back and “vacate” a few of my old columns. Can you pretend that column I wrote about bullying back at the beginning of the summer never existed? Never really felt good about that one.
Maybe we could go back and remove old bounced checks from our credit report. Yep. Never happened.
If the whole idea sounds absurd, it's because it is absurd. There are cheaters among us every day. The goal in life is to minimize their impact and learn and keep moving forward. Learn from it. Put protections in place to fix the root problem and move on - or come up with a better way to punish someone. Rewriting history is a fool's errand.
(Our man Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He has also hosted radio shows and now does some high school football announcing, stuff like that. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
YOU DETERMINE WHAT YOU LISTEN TO
It was once called the Information Superhighway. That was 10 years ago, when we all still used services like AOL and modems. We could get information served up to us in a newspaper-style fashion, only it was much faster and dynamic.
Then something called Web 2.0 happened and we were able to talk back, to comment on our news. We could re-post pictures and images to our Facebook pages and, in some rare cases, make our own news. That was five years ago.
Now, the Information Superhighway has turned into a NASCAR track cluttered with billions of nitro-fueled race cars, all with their own lane and their own track and their own agenda. Web 2.0 has morphed into Web Two Billion Point Oh. Everyone can make their own news or review with a simple tweet. Anyone can take part in the popularization (and/or destruction) of news and newsmakers through a “Like” button.
Suddenly, instead of a few thousand news outlets, we've got 300 million newspapers all screaming for your attention and all complaining if you don't take their advice.
But, isn't it possible that we all now have a little TOO much power? Do we really need Joe Sixpack's opinion on the deficit crisis in Europe? Is it that important that we get Suzie Soccermom's review of the latest Batman movie?
For instance, I saw that there was a new album by a band that I like about to release. The band is Mumford and Sons and I really enjoyed their debut album, “Sigh No More.” I'm certainly no expert on music, but I like what I like. That's the thing about music, it's whatever makes you tap your toes. So, when I saw they were about to release a new album, “Babel,” I mistakenly turned to the Internet to see if anyone had reviewed it yet.
Well, of course, I was beaten down with blogs saying that Babel was just a rehash of their other album. “14 of the same song that's just a copy of their only hit off the first record,” one tweeter reviewed.
Well, I liked that one song. Stands to reason I'd like the next album, right?
The key to using the Internet and Social Media is to treat it as a biased resource. Assume that whatever information you get is going to be negative, slanted or just completely wrong; but, ultimately, you must make your own decision about what's best for you. And for the love of God, don't ONLY use Social Media as your only frame of reference. Read newspapers. Read books. Watch PBS News.
I say this all to make the following point: This election season is going to be the most socially accessible election season in the history of man. Beware.
This means that you shouldn't pick your next President simply because of what your hairdresser on Facebook thinks. Or choose your Congressman because @DemsOverDere thinks she'll help slash the budget. Get informed. Do your own research. Vote your conscience.
Even though we all have a voice, those voices all have their own personal tone. It's up to you to determine what to listen to.
That being said, I think I'll hit the BUY button for my new album.
(When he isn’t hitting BUY buttons, Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FLAG CODE
Several years ago, I had a job as an IT (information technology) guy for a small school district. My office was in the front of a tiny preschool because that's where they put IT guys for small school districts - wherever there is room.
My office was what once was the principal's office in this old little school building. As such, it had an intercom on the wall, the clock and a window. All the amenities that a small school principal would ever want.
While I wasn't the principal of this building, people still enjoyed joking that whenever they visited me they were going to the principal's office to get in trouble.
Because of the office I worked in, one of the duties that fell to me was the United States Flag. The flagpole for this small little school building was unlit, so the Flag Code states that it should be raised at sunrise and lowered at sunset. This translated loosely to me to mean put the flag out when I got to work, and take it down when I leave. Just another chore for me to do along with resetting passwords, installing computers and telling users to reboot.
Every day, I walked into work, hooked the flag up to the flagpole, ran it to the top and then rushed inside to do a million other things. I gave it as much attention as grabbing a cup of coffee or changing a radio station.
That was until one special morning when I was running late to work and rushed into the building about a half-hour late. I still ran the flag out to the pole and hooked it to the rope and began to shoot it to the top. That's when I saw the elderly man who was walking his dog. As I began to raise the flag, the man stopped, snapped his heels together and gave a slow salute.
Once the flag went to full mast, I tied up the flag and stopped to talk to the man and his dog. He was a veteran of World War II. "Thought you'd forgotten to put her up," he told me. He also told me a little about his time in the Armed Forces and I thanked him for his service. He then thanked me for taking such good care of Old Glory. He thanked me.
It wasn't until that day that I truly realized how that mundane task ended up being the most important one that I did all day - at least to that former Army Officer.
I was reminded of that day earlier this week when I was leaving the Parkville YMCA which is right across from Parkville City Hall. In front of the YMCA is a beautiful display of the American Flag, the Missouri Flag and the Flag of Platte County, on this day, all were draped at half-mast. Across the street, in front of Parkville City Hall, was the American Flag waving proudly at full staff. I went to work that day and researched that President Obama had ordered all US Flags to half-mast in remembrance of those who perished in the Wisconsin shootings last weekend and that the Parkville City Hall was flying their flag improperly.
It's a small detail. I honestly might've been the only one who noticed or cared - because it stayed that way all five days of the president's order. And maybe that says more about the state of the country.
But I'll tell you who else would've noticed - that elderly man walking his dog - that US Army Officer who battled in Germany for the right for that flag to fly.
Yes, it's a small thing - but in many ways, it's the most important thing.
(When he isn’t running flags up poles, Chris Kamler is active on Twitter where he known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510 Thursdays at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
TIPS FOR A POLITICAL SCANDAL
Like most of Platte County, I've been following the trials and travails of the greatest political scandal of the century... Well, maybe not quite, but certainly the greatest one to hit the town of Tracy, Missouri.
To briefly recap, the Mayor Rita Rhoads was removed from office after being found guilty of nepotism by hiring her son-in-law, Matthew Spores, to fix a broken sign for $100.
As is often the case, it's never really the original infraction that gets you, it's either the cover-up or the actions during the infraction that get you in trouble. It's a common problem for political scandals the world over.
Here now, is a guide on what not to do if you're charged with a political crime.
1) Know Which Rules to Break: This is critical. Rules are bent every day. When you're challenged by the city clerk about the legality of one of them, that's probably not the one to break that day. Try not to use phrases like “Oh, it's okay” or “Just ignore it” or “It'll be fine.” Those are all signals that you're treading into shark-infested waters.
2) Forget Asking For Forgiveness After the Fact: Just like driving around, know which streets you can do 50 down a 35 and know which streets you'll get pulled over doing 26 in a 25 zone. Apparently, the rule about slipping $100 to your daughter's husband is the end of society as we know it and deserves the ultimate penalty of removal from office. Okay, lesson learned. Meanwhile, the Royals are allowed to skim money out of their taxpayer-funded savings account to pay for Sluggerrrr. Okay. Got it.
Know the rules of the road and nobody gets hurt.
3) Read Your State's Constitution: Every state in the Union is different. Some allow you to marry a cow. Some forbid you to marry someone of the opposite sex. Some even allow you to buy marijuana for a member of the opposite sex that you want to marry a cow. Missouri's, apparently, has an item in there about not paying your relatives - even a little bit of money - otherwise you're out of office. This might've been good to have read when you came across that broken sign. You'd have been better off trying to buy weed for that cow.
4) Unplug the Shredder: Here’s a good rule of thumb for any budding reporters out there, if you see a political person buying a shredder at Office Depot, go ahead and follow them back to their office. There's an old phrase in reporting called “follow the money,” but you can also get to the bottom of things when you follow the shredder. Besides, nothing is completely destructible in this age of e-mails and backups.
5) Respect Thy Authority: Pro tip to those of you out there trying to get out of a removal from office court case - buy a suit. Ask anyone associated with your side to buy a suit. Matthew Spores apparently came to court wearing a BATMAN t-shirt. Nothing says disrespect like showing up to court in a t-shirt. Maybe use some of that $100 that your mother-in-law gave you to get a pair of khakis and a tie.
There you go. Following those five best practices should get you out of most political hot water... unless your girlfriend comes to visit you and your office is oval shaped.
(Chris Kamler is widely known as @TheFakeNed on Twitter. He also hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510 Thursdays at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
CUSTOMER SERVICE ISN'T DEAD
Every once in awhile you see it. Just out of the periphery of your eye. You see it flashing by. To some, it's a white whale. To others it's a unicorn, or maybe a leprechaun. Maybe it's a triple rainbow.
Regardless, it's rare and almost never happens.
To me, that rare experience happens to be good customer service. It's a dead art. The act of going the extra mile for someone, not just because it's what I'm paying you to do, but because it's important to make sure someone is taken care of 100%.
But then, it happened... out of the mist...
Let's start at the beginning. Two years ago, my wife and I (actually my brother did 99% of the work, but I take credit for it) remodeled our split-level home and added a bedroom and a bathroom to an attic space. That space turned into our Master Bedroom and we love it. The only downside is that for two months in the summer it becomes the seventh circle of hell. The ambient temperature is approximately the same one you'd cook a casserole in.
Our little air conditioner just doesn't pump enough cold air up into the room. So we bought a portable air conditioner that ran for a total of two days before we lost all electricity in the room after hearing several loud “POP's.”
Being the shrewd electrician I am, I knew that POP is bad. No lights are equally bad. Okay, that's the extent of my electrical knowledge.
I did know enough to know that it would be seriously expensive. Not knowing a qualified electrician, I resorted to (first finding and then opening) the phone book and picking someone. I picked a place called “Mr. Electric” and knew that the decision might cost me thousands of dollars.
What happened next was both rare and unexpected. A feat as rare as finding Bigfoot.
Zack came out to the house, diagnosed the issue, fixed it and was out of the house in a total of 90 minutes. He was personable, cleaned up after himself, charged only $200, showed me just how close we got to burning down our house and then educated me on how to prevent the situation in the future.
Oh, and he got our air conditioner running.
Wait. No upcharge? No “special delivery fee”? No “I helped you, so I'll just add $300 onto the bill for no particular reason charge?” No. There were none of those and I'm fairly sure that he did some work he didn't put on the invoice - or at least didn't charge me for.
Is this what it was like in “the olden days”? When you went to a Five and Dime and got a two licorice whips for a penny? I wasn't expecting this.
Maybe there's hope for those receiving services yet. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go call the phone company about my bill.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” Thursdays at 6 p.m. on ESPN 1510. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
GO AHEAD, BLAME THE MEDIA
One of my favorite football coaches, Gary Pinkel, recently dug himself into a hole after he answered some questions about Joe Paterno.
Pinkel, an admirer of Paterno's success as a football coach, told SEC Media Day reporters that Paterno was “a great man” and that Paterno's actions in not aggressively seeking justice once he was notified of Jerry Sandusky's actions were “a tragedy.”
Pinkel went on to infer that the media was to blame for the witch hunt against the recently deceased Paterno.
The media - to blame for Paterno, who supervised and was friends with Sandusky.
“Blaming the media” is a common thread for those brought to justice or who have been exposed as frauds. The job of the media is often taken to task - and many times for good reason - for veering from their original purpose. To report news.
So, go ahead, blame the media.
Blame the media for bringing to light the depth and breadth of Sandusky's transgressions and his ability to use a non-profit organization as a breeding ground for victims.
Blame the media for seeking documents from Penn State University that showed the full picture of how Sandusky's buddies covered for him so that he could continue his disgusting acts against the innocent.
Blame the media for blanketing Twitter and the Internet for information related to the disappearance of two Edgerton girls. While the media was unable to stop their terrible murders, they were able to shed light on the accused murderer and what tremendous lives were cut down in their prime.
Blame the media, Russ Ptacek in fact, for exposing how toxic chemicals may have been exposed to workers at the Bannister Federal Complex.
Blame the media for reporting that at the beginning of last year, the Kansas City Chiefs were going to charge firefighters and first responders money for the honor of holding an American Flag during pre-game festivities at a Chiefs game.
Blame the media for posting police blotters in papers - because the thought of showing up in one just might be what stops a drunk driver from killing someone. Even if it's just once. It's saved a life.
Blame the media for being vigilant, every day, holidays, Sundays, nights, weekends and even early mornings to report the truth about the good, the bad, the ugly and - most importantly - the criminals. Even if it's just that a kangaroo escaped on a cold Thanksgiving morning.
Finally, blame the media for speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves. For those innocent children being abused.
Blame the media for reporting via paper, video, e-mail, blog and tweet. Oh sure, journalism has changed through the years. It's gotten quicker and there's a whole lot more bubble gum.
An article on Lindsay Lohan changing her hair color will get thousands of more hits on a website than an in-depth article about a man with ties to a white supremacist group running for a local school board. But that doesn't mean it's more important.
Blame the media for that, too, I suppose.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510 Thursdays at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
IT'S EITHER SADNESS OR EUPHORIA
“They say that these are not the best of times, but they're the only times I've ever known” --Billy Joel, “Summer, Highland Falls” 1977
Kansas City is in the national spotlight so rarely. Sure, there's the occasional Monday Night Football game; sometimes the President makes a visit in an election year and occasionally a funny car chase through a cow pasture might go viral on YouTube. But I can count on one hand the number of times Kansas City has been truly in the national storyline in my lifetime.
This weekend, we had an opportunity to witness the greatest of these in decades as the city played host to the Major League All-Star Game, Fan Fest, Home Run Derby and countless events ranging from talks by Hank Aaron at the Negro Leagues Musuem to an All-Star Game watch party at Zona Rosa.
This really WAS “Our Time” as the famously infamous slogan goes.
But with every reminder of how great our town was and how we fell back in love with our city, it was balanced by constant barrages and reminders of our place in the ecosystem of the country.
The All-Star 5K Sunday morning raised more money than any other All-Star 5K in cities that included New York, Miami, Phoenix and Boston. But oppressive heat kept crowds down in the days leading up to the All-Star Weekend. My car thermometer read three digits for an entire week as a reminder that there were, in fact numbers over 100, 103, 106 and even 108.
The real drama continued the next night as the Home Run Derby took center stage and Royals Fans reminded the rest of the country that we still believe in values such as truth and honesty - oh, and our blatant contempt for the Yankees. What followed was such a rain of audible venom upon Robinson Cano that my ears rang for two hours after I got home. Kansas Citians let out every ounce of hatred and contempt - not just for Cano, who went back on his word to put Billy Butler in the Derby, but also on 27 years of futility by the Royals, on decades of failure and years of being the also-ran's of Major League Baseball.
The next day, however, we awoke to the same place in the standings. We were called “classless” by the same “East Coast media” that we raised a collective middle finger to the night before.
The All-Star Game finally got to Kansas City. The pregame show brought Joe Buck and Erin Andrews and someone named Phillip Phillips and all of these larger than life characters. And we let them into our house and we even gave a standing ovation to Reggie Jackson for some reason. Then, in true Royals fashion, by the time the second inning rolled around, the score was 5-0 after the greatest pitcher of a generation, Justin Verlander shared the same Kauffman pitching funk as Jonathan Sanchez and Vin Mazzaro by giving up five earned runs in 35 pitches.
And, finally, when Butler did get into the game, after David Ortiz took an extra at-bat after promising all but one to Billy, Country Breakfast grounded meekly into a 5-3 ground out.
Kansas Citians are famously sensitive about criticism of their town. The shame of it is that our town is no better or worse than any other town. A city being “better” or “worse” than any other city is simply a exercise for talk shows out of topics and politicians.
The spotlight was never brighter than it was this weekend on my hometown. And now, once the spotlight shines on you, you notice the darkness even more when it goes out.
As the Billy Joel song concludes, the line rings true of our weekend, “It's either sadness or euphoria.”
(Chris Kamler is euphoric about Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510 Thursdays at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
PLATTE VS. CLAY VS. JACKSON
From time to time in this space, I've held a bit of a Braggin' Rights contest between Platte County and Clay County. Given my recent employment move to the City Market area, I felt it was time to expand and see how the County of Platte measures up in five randomly selected categories.
CATEGORY 1 - Sports
•Jackson County has Truman Sports Complex, Sprint Center along with the Chiefs and Royals.
•Platte County (kinda) has Chiefs training camp, Staley High School Football and the St. Joe Mustangs.
•Clay County has dodging traffic at 152 & I-35
WINNER: Clear winner is Jackson County here, but keep an eye on Platte County. If the budgets stay high enough, we're sure that those Platte County teams can continue to buy good talent.
CATEGORY 2 - Quaint Hideaways
•Clay County has a great little smoky bar off of North Oak called Moxie. Just a crappy dive bar, but the beer is just as cold and I can stumble home after having one too many.
•Jackson County has a neat little coffee shop near where I work in City Market called the Opera House. Great place for a chocolate chip cookie.
•Platte County has the Sexy Time Bed and Breakfast in Parkville. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
WINNER: Platte County by a tip.
CATEGORY 3 - Newspaper Outlets
•Clay County - The Press Dispatch is no more, but the Excelsior Springs Standard still spits out an edition a week. Most of the type won't smudge off on your pants.
•Jackson County - Some outfit called the Kansas City Star
•Platte County - The Platte County Landmark - All the news that's fit to be called news. Plus, the editor comes to your birthday party.
WINNER: There are no winners in newspapers. We're all going to be replaced by an Apple Microchip you embed in your brain in a couple years.
CATEGORY 4 - Shopping Districts
•Clay County - There's that massive sprawl of Lowes/Target/Buffalo Wild Wings/McDonalds/WalMart there in the qaint little town of Liberty.
•Platte County - Zona Rosa seems to be laid out a bit better. Plus, there's a Hereford House.
•Jackson County - The Country Club Plaza
WINNER: It's cliche, but until your shopping district gets an Apple Store, Jackson County gets the checkmark here.
CATEGORY 5 - Pithy Columnists
•Clay County … um... I think Kris Ketz lives in Liberty, does that count?
•Jackson County has Sam Mellinger and the guys at The Pitch
•Platte County has yours truly
WINNER: Well, I don't want to brag, but......
OVERALL WINNER: Jackson County is the big winner in this week's contest. They win a year's supply of potholes and rampant crime. But I think we can all agree that we're most excited that we don't live in Liberty. Plus our Bed & Breakfast comes with rubber sheets and a box marked “toys.”
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510 AM Thursdays at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
WHAT INDEPENDENCE DAY MEANS TO ME
What Independence Day Means To Me
An Essay By Chris Kamler
Age: 40 Grade: 25
Independence Day means that I can say anything I want. Wherever I want. To whomever I want.
Independence Day means to me that I can carry a gun for protection, or to kill animals or to protect yourselves from animals.
Independence Day means to me that I can choose between Coke and Pepsi; MSNBC, CNN or Fox News; Royals or Chiefs and even Platte County Landmark or... um... I guess there are no other choices there.
Independence Day means to me that I can drive freely between states. Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska. But NEVER across the state line to the west. I have that choice, too.
Independence Day means to me that you can challenge popular opinion, go with the flow, or just tune out. Sometimes all three on the same day.
Independence Day means to me fireworks. The kind that you shouldn't teach your kid to light, but you do anyway because that's what Dads do. In a city that bans fireworks.
Independence Day means to me hamburgers. The ones with the giant green onions shoved into them because your Mom brought over the hamburger.
Independence Day means heat and humidity and how weathermen should just take the month of July off.
Independence Day means to me that you can recreate yourself because you are bored, or unhappy with your life, or even if you are happy with your life, but want more.
Independence Day means being a father, a child and a husband - all with varying degrees of success and failure.
Independence Day means Twitter. And how it has changed the way I live my life. And how it has literally changed the way other countries now have Independence Day.
Independence Day means bootstraps, and how you are continually reminded that they are for pulling up by.
Independence Day means to me country music. However terrible it is.
Independence Day means to me flying the US Flag, because I can. And so many others aren't here because they did.
(Chris Kamler writes essays and is active on Twitter where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510AM Thursdays at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
WELCOME TO KANSAS CITY, WHAT'S THAT SMELL?
In just a little more than a week, the Kansas City area is going to play host to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The sports universe will be focused on Kansas City and Kauffman Stadium as it features baseball's biggest stars in a series of events that run five days in July.
I'm not scared of the good things we've got going out at Kauffman. The stadium is arguably the most beautiful in all of sports. The fountains are outstanding. The beer is cold and it is the crown jewel of major league sports in Kansas City.
I am also proud of my city. No, we're not Chicago, or New York, or even New Orleans. But my town is my home and there is nothing like our airport or Bryant's BBQ or the Plaza.
I'm worried about the intangibles. I'm worried about those things that aren't a big deal to those of us in Kansas City, but might be a reason for a cranky East Coast sportswriter to talk about what a hick dump Kansas City.
I'm worried about a cow truck overturning on I-70. Those things happen every few months around here. Imagine one dumping cows all over I-35.
HEADLINE: Cowtown Kansas City Features Actual Cows
I'm worried about the smell as soon as you walk outside of the airport. As written about in last week's Landmark, they've been fertilizing the farmland just past the runways at KCI with, um, fresh fertilizer.
HEADLINE: KC Welcomes All-Stars With Smelly Greeting
I'm worried about the Denny's just past centerfield at Kauffman, or the view of I-70 in the outfield. From time to time you can hear the semi-trucks pumping their air brakes on the highway and it just isn't Kauffman's best feature. Or worse, some sort of traffic accident in the middle of the game.
HEADLINE: All-Star Game Accidentally Turns Into AAA Club Meeting
And the thing I'm most worried about is the July heat here in KC. These sportswriters and big-wigs aren't used to 103 degree heat with 95% humidity. They're going to step off the plane into “Africa hot” conditions. No amount of cold Boulevard Beer and BBQ will fix the sweat down the small of their back. I can see the headline now...
HEADLINE: Kansas City: Stupid Hot
In all, I think people will just have to get over it and enjoy the All-Star Game events as they were intended to be enjoyed. Our National Pastime is a summer event and Kansas City will be a tremendous host for the best and brightest in baseball... Just as long as the ladies yelling “Hi, May I Help YOU?” at Gates don't do it too rudely.
(When he isn’t worrying about the All Star Game, Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510AM Thursdays at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
LET PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY WANT IN THE BEDROOM
If you've been paying attention to the front page of The Landmark over the past several weeks, you've likely seen the hullabaloo about the Bed and Breakfast with the Happiest of Endings in downtown Parkville.
The actual details are somewhat cloudy, but it seems one camp contends that the Romantic Getaway Today Inn is a charming B&B in a quaint small town offering wonderful amenities such as privacy, romantic settings and also sex swings and video cameras. Others see it as a sexually deviant house of sleaze offering sexual gizmos and contraptions such as sex swings and video cameras.
Either way, we're pretty sure there's sex swings and video cameras. That part we know.
As best I can tell, the person making the fuss is one of the B&B's neighbors who thinks it's 1952 and twin beds are all the rage for married couples. I imagine her sense of a good time is a small glass of cherry and then off to bed - just after The Andy Griffith Show finishes.
Repressing anything - sexual orientation, racial equality, gender equity has had a long line of failure. Anytime you choose to push one sense of morality on another person it fails nearly 100% of the time. You piss off the person you're encroaching on, and only harden their resolve to make good on their efforts to be less repressed.
Plus, you come off looking like an idiot. The article mentions that the B&B has gone to lengths to insulate themselves from somebody walking to the hot tub with their robe open. I'm guessing people are respectful whilst using the sex swing - at least while that lady is screaming to GET THOSE DAMN KIDS OFF MY LAWN!!
Besides, when has a little dirty sex ever hurt anyone? As long as it's consensual and not the product of being blackout drunk, make it happen. Freak it out. It just makes you closer to your partner and might let you have a little fun doing something that's, let's face it, pretty fun.
Unfortunately, some people can't understand that letting people do what they want in the bedroom actually means letting people do what they want in the bedroom. As soon as you lower your bifocals down to your nose, you're casting aspersions. Let the Mom and Dad checking into the B&B have a little fun with some toys, some videos or some gizmos. Maybe a little chocolate or whipped cream. Bring out the rubber sheets and the... okay, I might be getting a little carried away.
Parkville shouldn't take any action against this business. They've managed to lift the shackles of those wanting to ride golf carts on city streets, they should lift the shackles of those wanting to get a little freaky with it at a hotel as well. I can almost see the city slogans now... “Parkville... Where It's Okay to Use Your Putter AND your... <ahem> Nevermind.”
I say good luck to this young woman for catering to people who wouldn't mind having a little sex while on vacation. Seems to me to be a perfect business model... unless you're stuck in Mayberry.
(Chris Kamler isn’t stuck in Mayberry. He’s active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He also hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510 Thursdays at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
THE GROSS OUT
You're starting to see them more and more on billboards on I-29. At first, they appear just like another billboard selling you some jewelry or telling you which bank will give you a free toaster if you move your checking account to them. But as you get closer, you start to see a clearer picture.
One billboard shows a large surgery scar covering a man's entire chest. Another shows an amputee cleaning where an arm used to be. Yet another shows a tracheotomy hole in a woman's neck.
Bold, short phrases cover the pictures, “BE SURE NOT TO CUT YOUR STOMA” one says referring to the hole left after surgeons cut into someone's throat. Someone who, the photo implies, has been a lifelong smoker and suffered throat damage due to years of ignoring government warnings and required this surgery to remain alive. In smaller type is the 800 number to an organization that will help with efforts to stop smoking.
The billboards are part of a $54 million campaign funded by the Centers for Disease Control to discourage and/or scare the living crap out of smokers into quitting.
I'm all for encouraging folks to quit smoking. My father is a lifelong heavy smoker and I'd love nothing more for him to quit. He's tried several times. I can tell you with 100% confidence that he's not going to successfully quit because he sees a surgery scar on a billboard.
And what about those of us who simply never smoked in their lives? Why do we need to see these disgusting images? I've never been super militant about someone lighting up a cigarette next to me. I'm not that guy. I worked in a casino for four years and allowed cigarette smokers to blow their smoke at my table while I dealt blackjack. If those people want to smoke in the face of almost certain health issues in their lives, who am I to tell them not to?
It's not like someone is telling me to stop drinking soda or stop eating cheeseburgers. Oh, wait. They are? In New York City?
At some point, you've got to allow people to be stupid, and allow people to be not stupid. Putting up signs of surgery scars seems to be one set of people pushing their ideals on another group. No matter how correct they are, or how well-meaning those intentions are, it's just none of your business. Personal choice is a founding principle upon which this country was born. More importantly, the choice to allow people to be morons so long as they're not hurting someone else, is something I feel strongly should be allowed.
Now, excuse me as I'm heading to Wendy's to get a baconator while it's still legal and before the billboard is changed to showing my fat butt under a sign that says “DON'T DO WHAT THIS GUY DID. STOP EATING CHEESEBURGERS.”
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He also hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510 Thursdays at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
HOW TO CUT DOWN THE INTERNET'S WHITE NOISE
It's hard to imagine, but it is estimated that over 2.1 billion people are “online” in some capacity. The internet tracking website “The Royal Pingdom” estimates that the United States has 13% of that. Over half of Internet users are under the age of 25.
This means that thousands of new users are appearing on the Internet daily and it is firmly establishing itself as the coffee shop of the world to hash out issues, trade gossip and keep up to date with current events.
The major plus side to this is that everyone on the Internet has a voice. Over 3 billion e-mail addresses are registered in the world, and there are 555 million websites registered. Anyone can put up a blog or get a Twitter account. It has never been easier to self-publish your views on the world, or who you voted for on American Idol.
The major downside to this is that everyone on the Internet has a voice.
The famous quote from Abraham Lincoln (the President, not the vampire hunter) goes, “'Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” So it is with the Internet. Just because a Twitter account is free, doesn't mean that you should just spout out anything that comes into your mind.
This is especially true with the practice of “trolling.” Trolling is when a person on the internet deliberately says something designed to get someone's goat and stir the pot. I follow a lot of sports accounts on Twitter and the Internet, and many of them have taken trolling to world record levels.
This past week, however, Danny Duffy, pitcher for the Kansas City Royals found himself trolling many of his users during the Lakers vs. Thunder NBA playoff games. Duffy began insulting fans of the Thunder after stirring them up. Well, many of them also happened to be Royals fans, and they quickly became upset Royals fans. Duffy ended up closing his Twitter account by the end of the night, causing his followers a lot of confusion and losing many fans in the process.
It's so easy to say the first thing that pops in your head on the Internet. My 9-year old son is going through this phase we like to call “diarrhea of the mouth” where he just constantly talks just to hear himself talk. The Internet is a lot like a 9-year old.
You should use the same conventions of normal conversation when talking. Assume you're in a really big coffee shop. Some tips:
1) Wait your turn - Don't just inject your opinions and commentary in the middle of a discussion
2) Have a salient point - There are some folks you will just spout stupid things to be part of the dialogue. If you can't advance the discussion, leave it out.
3) Be nice
With some of these tips and tricks, you might cut down on the white noise of the Internet and help make the Internet a nicer place to spend time with your 2 billion closest friends.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He also hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510 AM Thursdays at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
JACKSON COUNTY: IT'S A WHOLE NEW WORLD
I've recently started a new job in the River Market area. After living and working in the Clay-Platte area my entire life, even though it's only about 15 minutes south of my home, this new environment is going to take some getting used to.
First off, bus fumes take a while to get used to. In Platte County, I was used to seeing a bus about once a week. Where I work now, they come by about once every 15 minutes spraying black smoke everywhere. The busses are empty, but I guess that's because they must've just dropped all their passengers off, right?
This is also the first job I've gotten where I've had to travel with rush hour traffic. I've been very lucky that my 20 minute commute in the past has always taken 20 minutes. Now, a simple 15 minute commute might take 25-30 minutes if some idiot breaks down on the bridge in the wrong spot.
Another peculiar thing about working in the River Market area, other than the fish smell from City Market vendors, is that everyone down here wears goatees. Now, I'm used to full beards from my friends in Platte County and the faux Johnson County 'preppy” look from my friends in Liberty and Clay County, but this goatee thing has me very confused. You don't get the full benefits of having a carpet for your face, yet you still have to shave every couple of days. Seems like something an indecisive person might wear. Do I want to have a portion of my cheeks that are smooth? Or do I want to still have food stuck to my face? Tough choice.
Once you travel “inside the downtown loop” oh sure, the buildings are taller, but suddenly every road turns in to a one-way street. There's really no reason for this other than to allow for parking on one side even though nobody parks there. And the location I'm trying to get to is always on the block that I'm at the wrong end of causing me to loop back around resulting in my GPS lady yelling at me. “Turn around when possible.” Well, if it were that easy, Tom-Tom Lady, I'd have been there already.
The office spaces down here are also very unique and ones that I haven't seen “up north” (that's how they call us folk, by the way, “You must be from “up north.”) is the combination of bomb shelter mixed with new age. You might have a brick building with dust on the floor surrounded by expensive art deco paintings on the wall and a spiral staircase. I guess that's a hipster space, but you can't say the word “hipster” down here otherwise they spit in your coffee and don't give you the free wi-fi code at the coffee house.
It's very odd how you can literally travel over a bridge and be transported to a new world, but that's the way it is down here. I'll have more reports from the land of the goatees later in the year.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He also hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault on ESPN 1510 AM Thursday at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
WHAT'S THE BEST WEAPON AGAINST AN EGOTIST? SNARK
Over the past several weeks, I've been working with someone with a tremendous ego. (No, it's not Ivan Foley. At least, THIS story isn't about Ivan Foley.) This guy spends his days speaking in generalities expecting everything to be completed. He talks down to people. He assumes the dominant position in all conversations and actions.
I'd be upset, except I'm just so jealous of him, it's crazy. How does someone get to be that guy? When you're playing on the playground, does the egotist start as the guy who asks for your lunch money? Is he the one on the top of the monkey bars? Is he the genius in the corner plotting everyone's demise?
Egotists are a challenge to deal with in every way. They're not like a blowhard that you can dismiss or ignore. They're usually your boss, or a business partner, or maybe your spouse. But the one I'm dealing with right now, I'm unable to get away from. I'm stuck with him - so I have to find a way to deal with it.
I've found that the best weapon against someone with a gigantic ego is snark. It really seems to slow them down, frustrate and even upset them, plus it's a good way to steal a little of their power for your own humor. Let me give you an example.
Egotist: “Hey Chris, those reports aren't going to write themselves. I've got to have them on my desk by Thursday because I'm heading to the lake Friday morning. I gotta get the boat out into the water for the first time this season!”
Me: “No problem. Give me the fax number to your yacht and I'll be sure to fax them over on Friday afternoon, when I committed to have them done for you.”
Another tool that the egotist likes to use is feigned confusion. Let's say you have an agreement about when you can get your report done. The egotist might come to you at noon and act confused and bewildered wondering why it wasn't done by then. What he's done is moved up the deadline, just by acting like the deadline was noon all along. This is one of the things that frustrate me the most. The key to fighting this is to get EVERYTHING in writing. At which point you can print out the e-mail saying 4:00 and hand it to them.
I think however, that when I get rich and powerful, I might like to be one of those guys. Those folks who aren't as smart as they appear to be. You could get everything done for you simply by expecting it to be done for you. Call them “fat cats” or “dick-tators” or whatever. I call it a goal. You don't have to prove your superiority, you just assume it and it is done. Oh, sure, all of my servants would hate me, but screw them - I'm the one in charge here.
Or maybe I'll just stay down here with the rest of you, plotting ways to silently poison the boss's coffee with no trace.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He also hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510 AM Thursday at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
THE POWER IS IN THE QUESTION
It all started with an instant message from my wife the other day.
“The folks here at work were having an interesting discussion.”
This seemed innocent enough and I replied, “Oh?”
“They were wondering if you could have two weeks with Kate Upton, but it meant you could never see your wife again, would you do it?”
Now, I've been married to her for thirteen wonderful years and I honestly thought I was smarter than this. Yet I fell into the trap. I responded, “Wow. Upton is super hot. I'd probably have to think long and hard about it.” Can't you see the sly grin on my face as I made a funny joke to my wife, right? Wrong.
“Have fun sleeping on the couch.” And then she was suddenly “BUSY” on the Instant Messenger.
So, not only did I forget the cardinal rule of e-mails and instant messages - that you can't convey emotion or sarcasm; but I also forgot that no matter what I responded, I had already lost the fight.
This reminds me of the first time I supposedly learned this lesson, fourteen years ago. I remember the exact spot on the Plaza that my then girlfriend, and I were walking. Hand in hand and so in love, she turned to me and said, “What do you think about my hair?”
In a completely honest and stupid response, I looked at her beautiful blonde hair and then at several of the other pedestrians along the Plaza and said, “well, THAT girl's is pretty nice. Why don't you try something like that?”
The battle was lost before I even answered because it's not the response. The power is in the question. The question doesn't assume an equal relationship. It doesn't want an honest answer. I'll bet even Kate Upton's boyfriend has SOMETHING he can say critical of her. No, the nature of relationships is a constant struggle for power. And if you know anything about marriage, you know that the power doesn't reside on the man's side.
It resides, as it has since the beginning of time, with the one who tempted the other one with the apple. And since then, men have been falling for the “Do these jeans make me look fat?” trap.
No, this was a classic trap. and even though my honest answer was that there was no way in hell I'd trade the 15 blissful years I've spent with Kara to trade for two weeks with Kate Upton, I know that I at least have to continue to try to get that power back.
Yes. It's a fool's errand. So, Kate... Call me.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He also hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510 AM Thursdays at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, rambling morons.com)
THE SPEED OF NEWS
Believe me, I recognize that there is some level of irony of this commentary about Twitter occurring in a newspaper. Be that as it may, I continue to be stunned at the pace of news that comes out over Twitter.
The death of former San Diego Chargers player Junior Seau broke at approximately 1 p.m. over Twitter on May 2. The guerilla news gathering agency, TMZ.com, reported it first and reported what proved to be an accurate summation of the nature of his death, a suicide by gunshot wound to the chest.
It took ESPN, the self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader In Sports,” over 75 minutes to break into programming to announce that the member of the 1994 Super Bowl tea was dead. To their credit, CNN and Fox News both had the news within about 30 minutes.
Even the Kansas City Star used its @KCStar Twitter to “confirm” the news, although you won't read about it in their morning edition until the next day.
Twitter is not just the future, it is the present. It is the omnipresent. Within seconds, news of the Seau suicide had broken on Twitter, gone across the globe and already turned to analysis which focused on mental illness among former NFL players.
Thinking back through the haze of my few years at journalism school, I remember our professors saying that news stories always needed the “Five W's” Who; What; Where; When and Why. It seems like new-age journalism is shaking out to have Twitter provide the Who; What and Where aspect of news. I can't think of a story in the past year that hasn't broken on Twitter first. In this important election year, entire candidacies have been destroyed on Twitter.
Television and radio will add the when and the why as they can provide pictures, context and substance. But you will no longer tune into a media outlet to learn news. You'll tune in only to learn why.
As for newspapers? Well, newspapers can add an important 6th “W” - that of “I Wonder how this will affect me.”
In fact, one could say that you can get all the news you ever need just through Twitter and newspapers. You can completely save a step and stop watching CNN and ESPN. That is, of course, unless you like watching the same six stories over and over and over again waiting for new news to break.
Do yourself a favor, get yourself a Twitter account and a subscription to the Platte County Landmark and know that you'll always know everything you need before anyone you want.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He also hosts “The Kansas City Baseball Vault” on ESPN 1510 AM Thursdays at 6 p.m. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
ROUNDABOUTS NOT AS EASY AS THEY SOUND
They say that things are always improving, always getting better. But I'm not sure this is true when it comes to driving.
First of all, this is 2012. My dream of buying a flying car when I was 12 is completely shattered. I was expecting to be able to fly my Jetsons-mobile downtown to my work at my “Kamler Towers” by now. What an epic fail.
With the possible exception of hybrid technology, cars really haven't changed much in the 20 years that I've been driving. I now have a button to warm my butt when it's cold out, but in general, gas is still on the right, brakes are still on the left. The wife still moves my rear-view mirror when she drives my car, the radio still plays too many Taylor Swift songs and gas is still too expensive.
And when it comes to hybrid cars, I don't know anyone other than hipsters who can pay an extra $15,000 for a car to save what amounts to a couple thousand dollars on gas. Maybe someday, but I don't see any hybrids in my neighborhood.
What I do see starting to pop up in my neighborhood are roundabouts. There's one on my daily drive on Ambassador near the airport and several in the Riverside area that I travel frequently. The first time I entered a roundabout was akin to being thrown into the deep end of a pool and trying to swim before drowning. The idea seems simple enough, yield until you have an opening and then travel along the circle until you find your turn.
However, that doesn't seem to be how it works. For me, it starts with flop sweat when I see a traffic circle approaching. Then I wait for that first car to pass. Is it enough room for me to go into traffic before the next car? Yes? No? Wait. Okay now PUNCH IT.
Okay. Super. Now I'm in the roundabout. But which turn do I take? Crap. I'm in the wrong lane. Gotta go around again. All these exits look the same. Okay. I'm going around one more time and just picking a turn. Oh nuts. It's the one I just got in on. Let's turn around and do this again.
Oh sure, MODOT will tell you that traffic accidents at busy intersections decrease up to 40% with the addition of a roundabout, but for idiots like me, it just means a stressful trip down to Riverside Red X.
I certainly wouldn't mind all of these traffic circles if I had my flying electric car.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
ROYALS FANS, AT WHAT
POINT ARE WE DONE?
I wrote last week on my personal blog how I'm just about done with the futility of the Royals. Now, I don't take a statement like that lightly. I've been a fan of the Royals since before I could walk. But at what point do we finally say we're done with the losses, the errors, the finding new ways to lose?
Or, is it time to find a second team to use as a pressure valve? The team would need to have a mirror opposite of my current team. They'd also have to be traditionally good, but not so good that you look like a bandwagon jumper. Kind of a polar opposite of the Royals. A team that isn't the complete best in baseball, yet a consistent winner. Maybe they don't win the World Series every year, but they are certainly a contender. I think I could really get behind a team like that. Be proud to wear their colors and maybe forget about the team that constantly breaks my heart every year before we get to Memorial Day.
The Royals' winning percentage over the past five years has been .428 so you'd be looking for a team possibly inverse to that at around .580. The team should also be the inverse of our current Royals team, so they'd need to be filled with mostly veterans. With Kauffman Stadium being one of the oldest stadiums in the Major Leagues, you'd want this new “anti-Royals” to be in a newer stadium.
This team should be owned by the opposite of David Glass, also. Someone who is outspoken, someone who is near the team in every way and not someone who watches from afar. This new team would need to be in a larger market with a larger payroll, yet not clearly the best team as the Royals aren't clearly the worst team.
And, finally, their fans must be the opposite of the Royals. To me, Royals fans are passionate, yet clearly cynical about their situation. In other words, they need to be folks who don't realize how good they have it. They take their fortune for granted. Oh, and they have to be douchebags.
I think I've found the team that I could support as my anti-Royals.
With an average winning percentage over the past five years of .590, these guys fit the bill. The team is filled with older players and have an average age of 30.9. They're owned by the a family of loud mouths. Completely the opposite of David Glass. They are constantly meddling in day-to-day operations - especially since they got their brand new stadium. And their fans are dreadful, awful people. They're rude, they're unkind and they are, in every way, the definition of “douchebag.”
Wait a second... the picture is starting to become clearer. If I were to select a team that was the polar opposite of my Royals, I'd have to become... a Yankees Fan. Suddenly, I think I'll pass.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter where he is known as @TheFakeNed. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
IDIOT PARENTS A GROWING TREND IN YOUTH SPORTS
It didn't take long for a growing trend in youth sports to rear its ugly head here in Platte County. Parents are ruining youth baseball. A couple of weekends ago, at a tournament at Platte County's Tiffany Hills Complex, two teams of 13-year old baseball players were involved in a bench-clearing brawl. This wasn't a standard baseball fight between the competitors, this was a fight, primarily, amongst the fans and the coaches.
Before it was over, 10 cop cars were called, arrests were made, suspensions of both the fighters and the teams were made and multiple lawsuits have started making their way through the legal system. From folks I've talked with, the fight was extremely violent and lasted quite a while. Doesn't sound much like baseball to me.
I've been to many tournaments up at Tiffany Hills and they run a good operation up there. However, the feature of many of these tournaments is the over-aggressive team of superstar kids and their win at all costs parents.
Where do you draw the line? Ten cop cars would be a good place to start. Even though those tournaments are about winning, youth sports is ultimately about teaching our kids skills to deal with life. Punching Bill from accounting when he didn't get his quarterly estimates in on time isn't generally allowed once you grow up. Don't like your boss? Just F-Bomb him during the morning meeting. Or maybe that guy who took your parking spot, just take a bat to the windshield.
I'm the father of a 9-year old baseball player, and after every game, I deal with a kid who is frustrated at his own performance, the umpires, the other team and the coach. Each one of these are learning chances for me and my kid. They're chances to explain to him that sometimes life doesn't go your way. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you can bear down and make good things happen. And sometimes, umpires are just awful. But ultimately, it's a chance to explain that baseball isn't important in the grand scheme of things. But in many ways, it's extremely important to make these kids into folks who solve their differences and problems not with arguments and fights.
Unfortunately, idiot parents are the growing trend in youth sports. Every week, it seems, there are stories of parents fighting in the stands and coaches getting into confrontations. It seems that trend has found Platte County.
The really sad part is that both teams likely face suspension from future tournaments so the kids are really the ones who are most penalized for their knucklehead parents. Take a few extra minutes to assess your own behavior when attending your kid's sporting events. The kids you help today might be the ones in traffic, or the accounting department tomorrow.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where is known as @TheFakeNed. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
PARK HILL MISSED A SHOT AT REALITY TV
In last week's school board elections, Park Hill voters missed out on a chance to make history. Oh, sure, we congratulate the two new additions to the school board, Allison Wurst and Fred Sanchez, but it seems that NONE of you had enough of a sadistic sense of humor to vote for the most curious candidate to come down the pike in a while, white-power advocate Edward Stephens.
Come on, weren't you just a little curious on what would've happened had the “white culture” fan Stephens made the school board? Would he have painted all the busses white? Would he have changed the home page to all district computers to www.vanilla-love.com? Would he have rewritten all the American History curriculums to have Hitler win the war?
Chickens. All of you.
Clearly this guy has a screw loose, but I believe that sometimes the best way to expose these losers to the world is to put them in front of a microphone. Have you ever actually listened to some of these clowns talk? Stephens had the balls to say on his Twitter account, according to The Pitch, that “race was the matter.” Surely he'd have come up with some entertaining proposals. Maybe he'd have proposed making the Park Hill South Panthers the Park Hill South White Polar Bears? Oh, sure the rest of the board would vote it down, but not after we all had a good laugh.
There would've been packed houses in school board meetings as his proposals to change to white rice only in school lunches were shouted down by parents and students. Participation would've been at an all-time high as folks came from near and far to hear the racist and divisive comments of a school board member. You might've even gotten your own TLC Reality Show.
No, instead Park Hill voters went with safe, boring choices. Heck they might even be competent with ideas to better test scores and improve facilities. When has that ever brought entertainment? How can you make the newspapers with “safe” choices?
Park Hill missed out on a historic vote to make 20/20 or Dateline NBC. Oh, sure, you might've been the laughingstock for putting a man in office who didn't “want to be politically correct” and wanted all the white people to flee the district. You folks missed out on quality entertainment.
Oh sure, I might look at things a little differently. I enjoy a little bit of chaos in my politics. But did you have to vote the poor guy dead last in the election? His street cred with the rest of the sheet-wearing white supremacists is going to go in the toilet. The Grand Wizard is likely to make fun of him. Maybe he'll have to clean dishes at the next KKK picnic.
You voters are mean.
In the meantime, I guess you voters will just have to take solace knowing that you selected to improve your district by voting intelligent school board members who don’t hate minorities.
But with that kind of thinking, you won't make very much of a reality show. Instead, you’ll enjoy your higher test scores across students of all creeds and colors.
(With his tongue often firmly planted in his cheek, Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. Reach him via his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
FIGURING OUT WHAT A MAN'S JOB IS
It's taken me nearly 40 years, but I think I've finally figured out what a man's job is in this world.
I've spent many of these years in a state of immaturity and during that time, my guess is that the job of a man was to open pickle jars or possibly discuss farting with your friends. It might also have been to make sure the lawn is mowed, or possibly watching football from 10 a.m. on Saturday morning until 11 p.m. on Monday night.
The bulk of my time has simply been awkward attempts at finding out the role of a “man” in this world. At one point, I thought that a man's job was to clean spyware off of old peoples' computers. Is it to flip people off in traffic? Is it to buy beef jerky at the gas station? Could it be a man's job to grill steaks outside, shirtless, with a grill so hot, that the hairs on his chest begin to smoulder? Perhaps it's to be the person who buys a post-hole digger, and then immediately possesses the knowledge how to use it as if it's been uploaded by a computer from the Matrix?
No, I think that I've finally figured out that a man's job on this planet is to stop unruly people in-flight. Have you seen the videos of a recent Jet Blue flight from New York to Las Vegas where the captain of the flight went bat-crap crazy? He started running up and down the aisles of the plane screaming about a bomb being on board placed there, of course, by “Iran” and “Iraq.” Those sneaky bastards. Well, as the cell phone videos show, the Captain was subdued by several male passengers. Just like a man should do. The videos also show several other men rising and rushing to the aid of the other men. THOSE are men. Those are the men you want to model behavior around.
I guess you might also say that a man's job is to make sure you take cell phone video of the other men suppressing the bat-crap crazy man. But that's more of a secondary role.
Men are protectors. Men are providers. And let that be a lesson to any would-be pilot who's about to go koo koo for cocoa puffs... Don't do it on a flight to Vegas. There's NOTHING that will stop men from an opportunity to shoot craps and stare at boobs. (Which are also secondary roles that men have.)
If the world consisted solely of men like these, there'd be no crime. All the beef jerky would be sold and there'd be no such thing as a Kardashian on television. The seat would always be up, and Chuck Norris would be President of the United States.
For me, I can only learn from these men. I promise to abandon my attempts to accidentally put all the Katherine Heigl DVD's in the garbage. I promise to stop wearing underwear until they are so riddled with holes they lack the structural integrity to hold anything. I further promise to fumigate my favorite chair more than once a decade.
I promise to live my live more like these men of Jet Blue Flight 191 - even if that means I need to fly back and forth to Vegas once a week.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @thefakened. Contact him via his web site at ramblingmorons.com)
HAVE A COCA-KONY AND A SMILE
I'm sure you're seen it by now. The pop music swelling, the doe-eyed little boy, the generic voiceover guy explaining his personal mission of taking down an evil slave trader in Uganda.
The slave trader? A man named Joseph Kony. A name you'd have no reason to know until a video went viral by filmmaker Jason Russell. If you saw the video, you're not likely to forget it. I almost spent the $20 to buy one of those KONY 2012 bracelets and storm out of my suburban home to battle evildoers.
It was masterful. It was brilliant. It was compelling. It was also the latest example of how we need to be stronger at sniffing out propaganda and marketing. You think you've got a good nose for marketing BS? Hold on, while I call you on your iPhone. Or I can just chase you down in those neon-pink Nikes. Or I could just buy an ad during Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
I know I'm getting crankier in my old age, but it's simply a condition of getting smarter. I have much less of a tolerance for fancy advertising tricks. This Kony nonsense is the latest example. Unfortunately, I smelled a rat because the video was too clean. It was too well put together. Turns out, that grass roots video cost $1.5 million dollars - nearly 1/3rd of the budget for Jason Russell's “Invisible Children” Foundation.
If I had a million dollars, I could make a viral video and then go blow $999,000 on pizza and hookers.
We need to be extremely shrewd about what information is fed to us. History is replete with examples of propagandists moving masses in one direction or the other. During World War II, it was Hitler's propaganda films that grew a nation of hate. That led to the United States' anti-Japanese propaganda posters nearly as shameful. Even Woody Woodpecker wanted us to get those Japs in the early 40's.
I say this, not to compare Jason Russell to propagandists or Hitler. But I will say that anything compelling is usually trying to get you to do something. The kicker is figuring out what they want you to do. Sure, Jason Russell wants to see Kony brought to justice, but he also wants you to send your money to his organization that sells trinkets and posters and hats.
There are rarely endeavors that are clean and pure because everyone has a sub-agenda. You just need to find one that fits your value system and be wise enough to identify the ones that don't.
No sooner had I decided to save my $20, than I saw in the news that Jason Russell had a nervous psychotic breakdown which included running up and down a public street wearing nothing but a smile. More and more reports are showing up now questioning the true motivation of the Invisible Children organization and I stand proud that the organization doesn't have my $20. Oh, sure, I may be complicit in letting a child slave trafficker walk the streets of Uganda, but I didn't give my money to a crazy person. It's a small win in my book. Just not one that I should probably be too proud of.
I'll save my cash for my trip to Namibia where I'm set to meet a rich Prince who has been having some problems with his billion dollar fortune. He sent me an e-mail, so I know it's legit.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @thefakened. He can be reached via his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
ROUND TWO OF PLATTE VS CLAY
As I am completely out of column ideas, this seems an appropriate time to delve into the Platte County vs. Clay County debate. ROUND TWO. By now, I'm sure you know the drill. I will present five categories and then determine a winner. Last time, Platte County narrowly edged out Clay. Let's see what round 2 brings us.
CATEGORY 1 - Famous Citizens
Platte County - Famed citizens include Bill Grigsby and Hall of Fame golfer, Tom Watson.
Clay County - Football coach Gregg Williams
WINNER: Platte County
Whoops - Should've done this one a couple weeks ago before Williams was engulfed in a “pay for bounty” scandal that could end up with her permanent banning from the NFL. We'll quietly put the checkmark next to Platte and hope a 300 pound lineman doesn't go for my knees.
CATEGORY 2 - Best Golf Course
Platte County - The National and Tiffany Greens
Clay County - Hodge Park Public
WINNER: Platte County
Wow. Talk about a mismatch. I haven't ever seen the National as anyone with an annual income under $200,000 is killed if they were to ever see it, but I hear it's very nice. I have played the other two courses, and Platte absolutely destroys Clay in this area. Clay should ask for a mulligan.
CATEGORY 3 - Best High Schools
Platte County - Park Hill, Park Hill South and Platte High
Clay County - Liberty, St. Pius X and Staley
WINNER: Clay County
Wow. This might be as close to a draw as you can get and likely to draw a lof of criticism and debate (hate e-mails can go to email@example.com) but I'm going to need to give the edge to Clay County on this one. Staley is a growing powerhouse in the state and Liberty is no slouch.
CATEGORY 4 - Bars
Platte County - Platte City Pool Hall and Dirks
Clay County - Knuckleheads and River Aces
WINNER: Clay County
I can only go by sheer numbers of bars I have passed out in and there are several more in Clay than in Platte. (Although the numbers I've passed out in would surprise you.) Still no shortage of a place to get a Captain and Coke in either county.
CATEGORY 5 - Airports
Platte County - Kansas City International Airport
Clay County - Wheeler Downtown Airport and Excelsior Springs International
WINNER: Platte County
Going to have to give the edge to the airport where Air Force One flys in and out of, the one that has hosted a Space Shuttle and the airport that annoys me each and every day as 747's fly over my head. While Wheeler is quaint and Excelsior Springs gives off that “Wings” vibe, going to have to give the edge to MCI.
ROUND 2 WINNER: Platte County - Another win for the Platte. Three wins makes a streak so this is just a good run so far.
Step up your game, Clay County. Round III will start soon.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @thefakened. He can be reached through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
YOU CAN'T GET DIET WITHOUT DIE
I found myself last week with the opportunity to be on television, which means that the next day, I started a new diet. (One person asked me if there were 30 cameras on me. Ugh.) A diet is simply attempting to train your body to accept a multitude of new habits (and stop doing bad ones) all at the same time. This isn't my first diet, this is, roughly, my 924th diet. I am the Cal Ripken of dieting. But I'm still in week one. Still feeling good. Still getting that boost of energy. And I haven't made that fateful crash trip into McDonalds yet.
This column won't be about the mechanics of a diet. They all seem to follow a similar premise, you change a bunch of terrible habits to good habits and then hope a few of them stick after a few weeks. So far, in previous diets, I have been successful in stopping to drink soda, I've stopped pouring salt on my food and I eat much less fast food, roughly once a week versus three or four times a day. (Unless McRib is back, then get out of my way.)
Have you ever made eye contact with someone at the grocery store, only to then be persecuted by a 30 minute conversation? Healthy people are like that when they know a dieter is in their midst. This article is about the “Healthy People” a.k.a. “People Who Need To Not Talk To Me While I'm Dieting.”
Now, let me make this clear, I'm not disparaging healthy people. I love you all. I should be learning these healthy habits from you. But, respectfully, I'd like to bash your heads in with a hammer. You all seem to creep out of the baseboards like a London fog once you realize that there is a dieter amongst you. You start with the “suggestions” - “Oh, well, Frank and I simply ALWAYS drink soy milk.” And you “drop by” with your no-bake gluten free hairball pie. (I don't actually know the name, I just know what it tasted like.)
I really harbor no ill will towards these people. They are only attempting to show their love and affection for this little fat guy. The problem is that they're actually part of the problem with living a more healthy lifestyle. Us fat people have simply been programmed to eat these terrible chemicals our whole lives. For whatever reason(s) these habits have been made part of our daily lives. An e-mail isn't going to fix that. It is a retraining. If you really want to help, make me a chicken breast and a salad every day for the next 60 days, deliver it to me and don't talk while I eat it. THAT is going to help with the training. Not your no-bake toe-jam granola bites.
It's not that I'm ungrateful for your suggestions and help. Well, actually, I'm not. Turns out that weaning yourself off of these chemicals and toxins makes you extremely grumpy. So it's not that I don't appreciate your help, it's just that I very well might run you down in the parking lot whilst eating my banana and broiled chicken.
The other issue is that all of you healthy people maintain your healthiness in different ways. Some just have high metabolisms, some are on gluten-free lifestyles, some go super-herbal in their efforts to maintain their weight and some do the powders and pills. The problem is that your suggestion is likely forbidden by the next guy who gives me a suggestion. One person told me to drink “Crystal Light” and then in the very next e-mail, another person says “that stuff is poison.” If you eat something as simple as a hard boiled egg, there is some guy out there who will tell you it's worse than a Big Mac. So, I'm left to figure it all out for myself whilst repressing the urge to end up on the front page of The Landmark under the police blotter.
In the meantime, if you have recipes that taste terrible but are “healthy for you,” diet suggestions that can easily be proven as unhealthy by some camp or just coupons to Casey General Store for some of that “Business of the Year” pizza (which I'm certain is calorie-free), you can send those into The Landmark and I'll make sure to give Ivan the coupons and I'll give your recipes a try. (But if they taste like glue, I might write about it.)
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter where he is known as @thefakened. Reach him via his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
THE NESTED HYPOTHETICAL
Let me let you in on a little look behind the curtain of journalism and media. Today, we're going to teach you how to write an article when you are out of ideas.
First, you have to understand a very important principle about journalism --you can make your own news if you try hard enough. This is true whether you are a news journalist or a sports journalist.
One of the tools you must master is something I call the “nested hypothetical.” Watch as I build a premise from thin air. Here's a simple example. If you were stranded on a deserted island, AND someone dropped you a human leg from a helicopter, would you eat the human leg? You would likely answer “yes, if it was that or die of starvation, sure.” Therefore, if you are reporting this answer, you can state that the person “could be” a cannibal.
The principle is that two (or even more) unlikely scenarios would team up to present a monumentally unlikely scenario. Oh, sure it's a little bit of yellow journalism, but it really works!!
Let's try another one:
You are a presidential candidate, and you are asked the following question, “If you had a daughter who was out jogging one night, and that daughter was violently raped, and because of that assault became pregnant, would you advocate that daughter getting an abortion?”
While I'm sure the answer is legitimate and even important to the presidential process, doesn't it seem a little silly that three or four or five make believe events would happen to justify the answer? Wouldn't that seem to invalidate the entire answer?
It reminds me of the old comeback I've used a few times, and I apologize if it's offensive to anyone. “If my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle.” Well of course s/he would. But it's so ridiculous to even speculate.
You're seeing this a lot in sports also. The recent MU/KU games caused many versions of this question to be asked, “In 5 years, if MU and KU still find themselves not playing games, would they consider playing again?” Well, you're having to establish a make-believe point in time and then a make-believe set of conditions. We can't even say if the Big 12 will be in existence. Who is to say KU might not have to take the SEC on as a lifeboat if Texas bolts to some other conference.
The whole thing seems like a waste of time. Stick to what you know. Stick to the facts.
Sure, it's less fun if you have the following premise, “Say you're an astronaut, and your partner dies in his sleep, and then your spaceship gets hit by a meteor, do you then take the cyanide capsule even though your religion bans suicide?”
These parlor tricks by shrewd investigators and reporters should be identified and snuffed out. Especially when that reporter is out of ideas.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @thefakened. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
WALKING AWAY FROM CLAY CHASTAIN
Let's assume for a moment that people still congregate around a water cooler to share the day's gossip and news. Have you ever been standing around the water cooler, have a wonderful conversation about the game last night, then have some dorky guy walk up and want to derail the conversation forcing everyone to walk away? Yeah, my bet is that Clay Chastain is like that.
Why do I know the name Clay Chastain? Why does EVERYONE in the Kansas City area know the name Clay Chastain? Why do we all hate the name Clay Chastain?
Chastain is a dreamer. Americans love dreamers. Steve Jobs was a dreamer. Benjamin Franklin was a dreamer. For some reason, Kansas Citians hate Clay Chastain.
It's not even that his idea is terrible. The idea is actually pretty good. Who wouldn't want to be able to go from the Airport to Olathe, or from Blue Springs over to KCK. Have you ever TRIED the Metro bus line? Or tried to park at Terminal C at KCI? Especially here in the Northland. You could build your own light rail during the time it takes between circuits of the 229 Metro Bus from the Airport to downtown. The bus system is terrible up here. I work closer to the airport and live closer to downtown. I would use a light rail. But I don't like anything with Clay Chastain's name on it.
Clay Chastain is the prototypical Ned Flanders. He's the neighbor that needs your help laying tile in his bathroom then talks about his cats for 6 hours and never offers you a beer. He's in the news again as part of a lawsuit contending that the City of Kansas City cancelled a voter-mandated sales tax earmarked to build that new Light Rail.
Chastain is a Scientologist and also an electrical engineer. It is also reported that he hit on women outside a grocery store while getting petitions for one of his ballot initiatives in 2007. In 2006, The Pitch called Chastain “misguided” and said “Misguided as he may be, Chastain taps into a sentiment that Kansas City can't keep rebuilding the Grandview Triangle.”
Should we overlook our disdain for the man, and support the idea? I'll bet Bill Gates was no life of a party when he was 18 and building his first computers in his basement. (Or stealing ideas, depending on which historian you read.) Who would've wanted to hang out with some old coot named Ben that liked to fly kites in the rain? And Steve Jobs? With all those turtlenecks? What a nerd!!
Well, perhaps long after Clay disappears (he's already moved out of KC and he's still making the newspapers) his ideas will prevail. And 30 years from now, when you can take a bullet train from KCI to the new Arrowhead Stadium at the Woodlands, you'll be riding on the Chastain 1 train.
Until then, I will likely walk away when Clay comes up to the water cooler.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @thefakened. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
KARMA IS ON THE LOOSE AND LOOKING FOR ITS NEXT VICTIM
Much has been written about the (alleged) end of the world later this year in 2012. Did an ancient race predict our doom? I have a different philosophy. My take is that there will be a reckoning... but it's karma that will be doing the heavy lifting.
Let's start with recent events here in the Platte as an example. There have been some incredibly compelling and odd news events filling the pages of this paper. One set of politicians (allegedly) attempted to protest construction of a YMCA by making the construction illegal. Another set of politicians (allegedly) decided that those same streets should have golf carts running along side 18-wheelers.
This all started with the Thanksgiving kangaroo, and has escalated with reports of serial killers and human skulls found in backyards. One thing is clear, there are some incredibly odd events going on here in Platte County.
But the greatest (allegedly) news event in the history of published print might be the tale of Chris Durbin, 20, of Platte City. This fella might be karma's first casualty in the efforts to take back the night from stupid (allegedly) criminals.
Karma is a Buddhist philosophy defined by dictionary.com as “action, seen as bringing upon one self inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation.”
Translation: Do bad things, get bad things done to you.
The center of this karmic reckoning has likely already started, right here, in Platte County.
The story, as I'm sure you've read right here in the Landmark, is as old as time. Who hasn't heard of the arsonist who goes on an arson spree (allegedly). This arsonist is just running around setting cars on fire willy nilly (allegedly). Not a care in the world, just doing his best arsoning (allegedly.) When he gets to his TWELFTH car to arson-up, he climbs in the car, begins his arsoning and goes to grab the handle of the car which didn't work. The arsonist died from arsoning inside the car (allegedly). Arsoned.
Stupid people and criminals beware. Karma is on the loose, and it's looking for you. If you are a corrupt politician, karma will find you. Possibly with a visit from the intrepid Landmark reporters. If you are beating your wife, karma will find you, perhaps in the form of a steroided out woman to beat the crap out of you. If you are a robber, perhaps you come home to find that YOUR house has been vandalized. If you enjoy lighting crap on fire, perhaps you die of lighting crap on fire. Allegedly.
Karma isn't just a stripper in Fort Lauderdale. It's a real and tangible thing. It's here in Platte County... And it's looking for its next victim.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @thefakened. Reach him via his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
A 1961 BRAWL PART OF HISTORIC RIVALRY
This year marks the final scheduled time that the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas play each other in collegiate sports.
Let that sink in a little bit. That sentence doesn't look right on paper. It's like the participle is dangling, or something. That can't be right, can it?
Well, for the time being, the two schools will focus on playing within their conferences. Missouri, with it's new inclusion into the Southeastern Conference (SEC) has abandoned the MU/KU rivalry, or so many Kansas fans will tell you. Missouri fans will say that Kansas is too chicken to find a way to play the game.
This also seems a lot like the fights I get into with my wife. We know we're mad at each other, but we don't really know why. Oh, sure, most fans will tell you that the rivalry started around the Civil War. But it was also a series of “Jayhawking Raids” into Missouri and “Quantrill's Raid” into Kansas that led to savage murders of residents in both states in 1861.
The reverberations of those raids are rooted deeply into the fiber of being a Missourian or a Kansan. Hatred was likely also a contributing factor in a signature fight between MU and KU during a basketball game in 1961.
Jump back to 1960, when the result of a football game between the two schools was reversed. KU originally won the game in which both teams were nationally ranked, and MU was undefeated at that point in the season. Kansas fullback Burt Coan let the Jayhawks to a 23-7 victory. Coan was ruled ineligible by the Big Eight Conference because of illegal recruiting, so the game was given to Missouri. The game is recorded as a win by both universities in their official records to this day.
The hatred was still fresh when the basketball teams met in early 1961 and the game was littered with technical fouls. According to an account in the Columbia Tribune, Missouri Freshman Basketball Coach Norm Stewart said what happened next was “the whole series of events building up.”
A hard foul of Kansas forward Wayne Hightower led him to swing at Missouri guard Charlie Henke in the face. This touched off a brawl of epic proportions which was broadcast live on ABC national television.
The reporter was the venerable Jack Buck whose call included the quote “Brother, they are really slugging in there.” The fight was violent and extended, lasting several minutes. When order was restored, both Hightower and Henke had been ejected and police officers had lined the court.
The fight left both teams with black eyes, but it did inspire the struggling Tigers to rally and beat the Jayhawks 79-76 in a stunning upset at Brewer Fieldhouse in Columbia.
The event, even 50 years later, still evokes emotion about those “Chickenhawks” or those “Missouri slavers.”
But the rivalry endured. Sure, the emotions are still raw, but the games were still played. And they meant more than just a typical regular season game. To end it would mean stopping something that needs to naturally play out. I hope both universities can find a way to keep playing these games. Because these games NEED to be played. This rivalry needs to continue.
For most, we don't really know WHY we hate each other, but we do know that we MUST keep hating each other.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @thefakened. Reach him through his web site at ramblingmorons.com)
POLITICS NEEDS TO BE MORE LIKE MARCH MADNESS
I know that there are some outstanding columnists on this page that do a much better job talking about politics, but I'm going to give it a try this week. Let me first tell you that I know about as much about politics as my wife does about the Olympic beach volleyball team. My voting record has been all over the board in Presidential elections. I think I voted for Reagan, Perot, Bush 43 and Obama, which I think qualifies me as an illegal alien.
I guess I just go with the flow, listen to a few speeches and go with my instinct.
However, I'm confident that my vote doesn't count and that I'll hate whomever I voted for 20 minutes after he takes the Oath of Office. Except Reagan. I liked that guy.
So, that brings me to this year. I think it's down to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Although it easily could be Charlie Brown and Katie Holmes. And it now seems like Romney is the odds-on-favorite to win the Republican nomination. I'm not for or against either one of these guys, I'm simply...ambivalent. They both seem like absolute d-bags. I know that's not why you're supposed to vote for someone. You're supposed to vote on the issues.You're supposed to vote on the choice of smaller or larger government. You're supposed to vote for or against a strong national defense. You're supposed to vote for or against an economic recovery.
Other than those who are following the race very closely, can anyone tell me which one is better at any of those? Would Obama be the better choice? Katie Holmes? She did some very good work on Dawson's Creek.
I see Landmark columnist Brian Kubicki calling Obama a “Marxist” and Landmark columnist Chris Stigall pontificating on the glory of conservatism. But have either of the two parties really done anything? Has government gotten so far detached from the common man, that no election can really improve our environment? It only seems to be taking more things away from us, and filling the television with a lot of yelling.
Politics needs to be made more like the March Madness basketball tournament. Where you have a clear beginning, middle and end. You start, are challenged to solve the country's problems, and then if you don't make enough progress, you “lose” and move along. Survive and advance. Maybe folks would be motivated to make the country better if they couldn't come back next year. For now, it just seems that the goal is to confuse the voter into voting for whomever is glossy enough to move on. Kind of like American Idol. Or one of the Housewife shows.
In sports there is a saying, “leave it all on the floor.” Politics isn't sports, it's show business. And I'm not in the mood for that movie... Unless Katie Holmes is in it.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @thefakened. Reach him via his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
HORRIBLES BOSSES: BE A MAN OR A TATTLETALE?
The buzz around town the past week has been about the soul-crushing working conditions for our NFL Franchise, the Kansas City Chiefs. Kent Babb, from the Kansas City Star wrote a scathing article outlining a workplace environment where employees were fearful having of their conversations monitored as well an environment where people weren't comfortable associating with members in other departments and just about the entire plot to the movie “Horrible Bosses.”
The critical story in his article centers around Scott Pioli, Chiefs general manager, calling an all-staff meeting to berate his office staff about a candy bar wrapper lying in a stairwell for weeks.
Part of me is very empathetic to these employees. Working for a jerk just makes you feel awful from the time you get out of bed until the time you drink yourself to sleep that night. But the more cynical side of me (which is the majority side) did do a bit of an eyeroll about the complaining. These “disgruntled” employees didn't go to their HR Department, nor did they file any sort of legal complaint. They went to the newspaper with the beef. That doesn't lessen the charges, but as my Dad always used to tell me, “there's usually another side to that story, and then there's the third side... the truth.”
The Chiefs are about as likely to release that other side of the story as I am likely to sprout wings and fly down Tom Watson Parkway. But this just seems to me like people not liking their boss.
Well, get in line.
Wasn't it Webster’s that said the definition of a “job” is “place where you are ordered by a person you don't like to do a job that you'd rather not do?” The antonym would be “play.”
Oh sure, there are some people, say astronauts or ice cream van drivers, that probably never have a day where their boss gives them crap about their quarterly report being in on time. But, then again, they could die in space or die of a diabetic coma. So there is that. It goes with the job.
So Scott Pioli is a crotch as a boss. Big deal. Going to the newspaper to complain ranks fifth in a list of “Ways to complain.”
1. Talk to your boss about it.
2. Talk to your HR department about it.
3. Talk to your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend/therapist/dog/dog's therapist about it.
4. Journal your feelings whilst sitting in a bubble bath listening to John Tesh. (Hey, don't judge me.)
5. Talk to the newspaper about it.
Now, I know this might concern my boss, Mr. Ivan Foley, Editor of the Platte County Landmark. (Who, for the record, is NOT a horrible boss. Mostly because I know he is reading this.) So, let's make a deal, if you DO have a boss you don't like, skip 1-4 and just contact Ivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bosses are horrible. All bosses are. It's what they teach at Boss School. The sign of integrity is how to deal with it. Like a man? Or like a tattle tale?
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @fakenedyost. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
YOU'LL NEVER FORGET YOUR FIRST TIME
I get a haircut once a month. A few years ago, I decided to try one of those “barbershops just for men” with the TVs on the wall and the girls in the short shorts.
My first experience at that place, as I recall, was nothing short of legendary. I was escorted by a buxom blonde in a tight t-shirt to a chair where I got a haircut and shoulder rub. Then I was taken to a dark room in the back where I received something called a “scalp massage.” I don't think I'd ever had one before but I remember several things about that single experience: the experience was incredible, the experience was borderline erotic and the experience took a long amount of time.
I was sold. I was a customer. For life.
Over the course of the next several months, I continued to frequent that barbershop. And I continued to enjoy the “full service” experience that they give. But a couple of things began to break down. The hair stylists got a little less buxom. The clothing got a little more conservative. The quality of the haircut was a little more inconsistent. And the scalp massage got shorter, much less “appealing” and shorter.
One day, I went in there and noticed a 3-ring binder open to a page outlining to a stylist “how” to conduct the scalp massage. It outlined exactly how long it should take and what method should be done. I asked the girl styling my hair and she said they all had to study it and had to take tests on it.
I continued to be a customer of that shop for several more years, quietly hoping to have the same experience that I had my first time. It never happened.
Then, a couple of months ago, I noticed that a new barbershop opened just around the corner from my house. It also a nice reception area with lots of TVs and stylists in tight t-shirts and short shorts. The name on the front of the store was different, but it was clear that they were directly competing with the other barbershop, that had now clearly become a national chain.
So, I gave it a shot. The price was exactly the same and I expected the same quality of haircut I had grown to know, with the same half-hearted level of effort. I got the same haircut. I got the same shoulder rub and then I went to a darkly lit room for my scalp massage. What I experienced was even better than the best massage I got at the other place. I was in heaven. I was sold. I was a customer. For life. I think at one point I might've actually asked the girl to marry me.
Now, should I look at this as a glass half-full moment? Or should I look at it like a peak of service that will eventually deteriorate as the corporation looks to streamline, time-study and make their service more consistent?
One thing is for sure, you'll never forget your first time...
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he goes by @FakeNedYost. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
WHICH IS BETTER, PLATTE OR CLAY?
From time to time (when I'm out of any good ideas, for instance), I will be looking at the “other” Border War here in the Kansas City area. No, I'm not referring to the centuries-old battle between Kansas and Missouri. No, I'm not even referring to the skirmishes between Kansas City and Overland Park. I am, of course, leaving it all in the Northland as we look at which is the better county -- Platte or Clay.
As I live in one and work in the other, I feel this qualifies me as the perfect arbiter between the two counties. I will take five issues per round and then determine a winner for the round.
For now... here is the scorecard for Round 1
Category 1 - Breaking News
Clay County: The suspected arson of the Liberty Hills Country Club
Platte County: Fire truck crashes. Two of them.
WINNER: Platte County
Any five year old boy would agree that the simple choice is crashing fire trucks. I mean, it's friggin' firetrucks... CRASHING. Plus, we had a wild kangaroo as our kicker. (Pardon the pun.)
Category 2 - Shopping Districts
Clay County: The mess of retail and big box shopping at Highway 152 and I-35
Platte County: Zona Rosa
WINNER: Platte County
Whoever designed that mass of humanity at 152 and I-35 should be forced to drive a car full of screaming tweens up and down 152 all day for a week from one end of Buffalo Wild Wings all the way to William Jewell and then back. For weeks.
Category 3 - Business of the Year
Clay County: I have no idea what the Liberty Business of the Year was. I can only assume it was Target gauging off of how much my wife has spent there.
Platte County: Casey's General Store
WINNER: Even before this week's news that a Casey's employee allegedly was involved in a murder, the correct answer was “Not the county with a city that named a gas station its Business of the Year.” Checkmark for Clay County.
Category 4 - Quaint, Off the Beaten Path Town
Clay County: Excelsior Springs
Platte County: Parkville
WINNER: Clay County -- This was a close one. but I'm going to have to go with E-Town by a nose. Simply because of Wabash BBQ. The rest of the town smells like a moist cat.
Category 5 - Old-Time, Small Town Local Newspapers
Clay County: The Excelsior Springs Standard
Platte County: The Platte County Landmark
WINNER: Platte County -- Are you kidding me?
The Landmark beats the Standard in depth, breadth, weight of columnists and number of open bar Christmas parties. And we are winning the war against unnecessary cliches. Plus, my Daddy didn't raise no dummy. I know where my bread is buttered. And it is what it is.
The winner of Round 1... Platte County by a score of 3-2.
But this is just the beginning. Check this space in the future for more in the COMBAT OF THE COUNTIES.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @FakeNedYost. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
CHALLENGE YOUR FASHION
Near the border of the counties of Clay and Platte along Highway 152 sits an ordinary old schoolhouse. From the highway, it looks like any other normal school building with the exception of a small, colorful baseball field near the highway. And “normal” is just how they want you to see it.
The complex is the Challenger Athletic Complex and it stands as one of the crown jewels of the area that nobody knows about.
It is here at the Challenger complex that special needs kids, kids in wheelchairs and other kids with mobility problems get an opportunity to play sports and compete with all the support they need. The facility is run by the YMCA and according to their website is the first of its kind in the nation. It is designed to “see able-bodied children playing on fields right next to those kids who are challenged with special needs.”
The complex is funded through local donations and has become one of the charities supported by the Kansas City Royals. This weekend, the Royals will be putting on a major charity event called “Challenge Your Fashion” to help raise money for the complex. The event features current and former Royals in a “fashion show.” As these fellas are used to only wearing uniforms, workout clothes and cleats, it's quite a show when they are dressed to the 9's. The event is also designed to be a great way to interact and party with our Boys in Blue. (And boys in very nice suits...) My wife is extremely excited to attend. I can only assume it's because she loves spending time with me and has nothing to do with the chance to see chiseled, muscular, professional athletes wearing their Sunday best.
Sports is a great tool to help the hearts and souls of children and just because a kid has limitations, that shouldn't be a barrier to participating. Scott Hallier, one of the coordinators of the charity event, and who also has a child in the program, says the opportunity to play sports is both “rare and rewarding.” Those kids will build the same life skills an able-bodied kid learns in team sports including teamwork and self-confidence.
The complex features a state-of-the-art baseball and soccer field. Its future plans include a football field and two grass baseball diamonds. The idea is to assimilate those with special needs with more able-bodied competitors.
All right here in the Northland.
Their yearly fundraiser is the best chance to help these kids. If you have an opportunity and the means, please come out to the Challenge Your Fashion event at the Midland, Saturday, Jan. 14. You can order tickets from challengeyourfashion.com. If you can't make it, please find a way to support and grow the YMCA's efforts to help these great kids and an amazing Northland charity.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @FakeNedYost. Reach him through his website, ramblingmorons.com)
HEY PARKVILLE, CAN WE PLEASE GET GOLF 'KART' GIRLS?
The City of Parkville passed what could be the greatest ordinance in the history of city governments... ANYWHERE.
Starting on March 31, 2012 you will be able to drive golf karts on city streets in Parkville. This means, that for a $50 registration fee, you can take your golf kart from Hy-Vee on 64th street all the way to English Landing. Granted, it might take you a week and a half.
Life is supposed to be fun. Living in a town such as Parkville needs to be more enjoyable - why not mix in a golf kart? Who doesn't like driving around in a golf kart?
I applaud the Parkville Aldermen for this out-of-the-box thinking and could suggest a few more ordinances to help with making Parkville one of the more progressive cities in the Midwest:
•Mayoral decree that it's Golf Kart, not Golf Cart. Misspellings will result in a $500 fine and possible imprisonment.
•If you're going to add golf karts to public streets, the logical extension of this is to allow golf kart girls. Let's say you're driving your golf kart from Riss Lake over to All-Star Pizza and you're like, “I'm awfully thirsty and could use a $3 bag of Doritos.” And, BOOM! Up drives the golf kart girl who sells you a $5 Bud Light. Mmmm. Refreshing!
•Since Noland Road is commonly referred to as “The Miracle Mile” where you can buy just about every make and model of cars, how about we make a stretch of River Road the “Mildly Amazing Mile” where you can buy every model of golf karts, segueways and mopeds.
•Wyandotte County in Kansas, by all accounts, was saved by the construction of the Kansas Speedway. I nominate English Landing Park (when it's not underwater) as the future home for the Parkville Kartway - home to the National Golf Kart Racing Association circuit. (It's a real thing, Google it.) Imagine Golf Karts from all over converging on our little Parkville to make outstanding YouTube videos for decades to come.
•The $50 fee would be waved for the best personalized golf kart license plate - can't you just see that fella from Linden Park getting a nice surprise that his “FORE PLAY” or “TO 19TH” tag was given a break.
•The golf kart phenomenon should be a big hit with Park University. That campus is deceptively big and I know that when I was in college, being able to sleep in that extra five minutes would've been huge. Beware students - don't get any ideas about using a golf kart as your DD when tipping them back at Stone Canyon - you can still get a DUI... even in a Golf Kart.
•Finally, as you know, golf karts are terribly underpowered and Parkville is extremely hilly. The city government will need to flatten out certain areas of town. I would recommend starting with 15th hole at The National #2. But that's just because I don't like walking up hills.
I am excited about a new Golf Kart-friendly future for Parkville. And pardon me for suggesting the town's new slogan, but I think I've got it... You can't drive to Par without Parkville.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he can be found spewing opinions under the name @fakenedyost)
MEET MY FRIEND, GYM
There's only one thing left to do in the Holiday Season, and that's hit the gym. Surely, you've noticed that the Christmas Lexus commercials have now changed into ads for 24-hour fitness and Weight Watchers.
If November is all about Thanksgiving, December about Christmas, then January is all about dieting. In fact, according to CNBC, in 2010, the “weight loss industry” is a $55 billion (with a B) dollar industry. And 68% of all Americans are clinically “overweight.”
The means that advertising for gyms increases in January and folks are guilted into visiting the gym for a few weeks out of the year until the ads go away. My gym is the Platte County South YMCA in Parkville. It is an amazing facility. It is clean, comfortable, brightly lit and could challenge any Overland Park gym in terms of quality.
And I do my best to be a patron all year long--while that isn't always reflected in my waistline. However, in January, it turns into a mass of humanity. EVERYONE wants to be at the gym in January. I simply say, “Welcome!” Oh. And get off my stationary bike.
So, I figured, since this is the season of giving, that a Gym Primer is in order for those of you who only seem to attend the gym out of guilt for overeating at Christmas dinner.
Feel free to cut this out and bring it along to the gym with you while you're blocking my walking path...
GYM ETIQUETTE - The unwritten rules at a gym.
•Clean off your sweat when you're done with the equipment. Seriously, nobody wants to take a bath in the shallow end of your DNA pool.
•Standard “mall parking spot” rules apply for equipment. Possession is 9/10ths of the law.
•Two-piece leotards are out. So are ankle warmers. This ain't Flashdance. Run over to Dick's sporting goods and buy yourself some gym clothes from the 21st Century
•Your water bottle shouldn't hold more than 64 ounces of liquid. If you need wheels to carry it, it's probably too big of a water bottle.
•Most of the equipment now comes equipped with televisions. This is fantastic and helps you maintain motivation to work out. This does NOT mean that you get to watch all 7 seasons of LOST taking up hours on the elliptical machine. Limit yourself to an hour at most.
•Admiring yourself in the mirror for more than five seconds just makes you look weird.
•Keep your grunting in the free weight area to a low growl. Nobody wants to work out next to Chewbacca.
•Shower Etiquette-These are very important. It's important to understand where you should and should not walk around in the nude. Shower area? Sure. Air drying yourself on the changing bench? No thanks. Seriously, if we wanted to see the wildlife, we'd have gone to the zoo.
For those of us who try to go to the gym regularly, we do take solace in the fact that by about Jan. 21, we get our gym back. Plus the owners are happy that all those folks just wrote fat checks for new equipment that they will use twice. Welcome! We'll see you next New Year!
(Chris Kamler is active on that thing known as Twitter, where he goes by the name of @fakenedyost)
IS RIVERSIDE GETTING IT RIGHT?
The construction trucks have started to move away, the final stones are being put into the “City Of” sign, it even looks like they ran a street sweeper in the Red X parking lot. There's a new sense of civic pride and the hottest town in the Kansas City Region seems to be... Riverside? Seriously? Yes. Riverside.
True. It seems like Riverside has started to put some big changes in play. Gone are the dusty abandoned lots. Gone are the potholes that welcomed you along Highway 9. The Riverside Red X is still there, but it looks like they might've mopped the floors recently. No, that's not Mr. Clean you're smelling, that's the smell of civic pride. Although, civic pride has more of a minty, wintergreen smell.
Sure you can still get a slab of pork, a 12-pack of PBR and a folding lawn chair at the Red X for $10. Sure, you can still get fireworks year round at close to a dozen retailers within the city limits. Sure, that QuikTrip is oddly large for a community of 3,000. But it is undeniable that Riverside is on the rise.
Riverside turns 60 years old this year and they have challenged their citizens to “Do Good” with works of good deeds and charity. The City's Facebook page (yes, they have a Facebook page - and it's even updated!) tells story after story of feeding the hungry, green energy ideas for your home and even pictures of this month's Christmas Tree lighting.
I had a chance to talk with Riverside Mayor Kathy Rose via e-mail and I asked her what she felt the greatest improvements to Riverside have been in the past several years: “The biggest improvements to our community recently have been related to infrastructure: work on our existing streets, sidewalks and curbs; opening new roads and bridges including Cliffview Bridge by City Hall, Argosy Casino Parkway, and Horizons Parkway; adding new trails throughout town and upgrading our parks; and opening the Welcome Plaza in the center of town,” Rose said.
They have also upgraded their town slogan, which I can only assume, used to be “The Town At The End of Vivion Road.” The slogan is now “Upstream from Ordinary,” which is MUCH better. The Corner Cafe is still there. So is the big Red X. But an old scary gas station has been replaced by a hand-crafted stone wall with a waterfall welcoming people to the New and Improved Riverside, Missouri.
Riverside is no longer considered somewhere you pass through on the way to Parkville. Riverside is home to the Argosy Casino, which continually comes in as one of the most profitable casinos in Missouri. It also helps the town afford some much needed infrastructure upgrades. Riverside is also nestled in the shadow of the affluent Briarcliff West community.
The city should be proud of the progress it has made. Even the mayor is getting into the spirit of the resurgence of Riverside. Mayor Kathy Rose, as reported in The Landmark, dawned a cheerleader outfit to take her civic pride into the Parkville Board of Aldermen's chambers last month to pay off a challenge to Parkville's mayor. She does seem to have a good sense of humor and in her conversation with me, also mentioned that she is a shopper at Riverside Red X, “you can buy everything there!” And she is also a big fan of the biscuits and gravy at Corner Cafe. (Who isn't?)
When I asked her what she was most proud of as a lifelong Riversideian (?) Riversider (?) Riversidearian (!), Mayor Rose pointed to the Horizons development area which is the gateway to Briarcliff West and North Kansas City. The development complex is poised to “not only make us a great place to live, but a major player in the metropolitan region.”
With that leadership and direction, Riverside should continue to see growth in the upcoming years. . .Just make sure you keep the shelves stocked at the Red X.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he goes by the name @fakenedyost. Follow him today, thank us later)
THE EASY WAY OUT
There's usually nothing good about a hushed conversation in the hallway. Last week proved to be consistent with that rule.
“I heard he killed himself.”
Then another hushed conversation... “He had been depressed for a long time.”
Then a couple of Facebook posts... “He was in a mood. So sad.”
A few tweets then popped by my screen... “My friend was depressed.” “I had a friend who killed herself.” “#RIP”
So, that was last week.
I don't pretend to be an expert on mental health or depression or suicide. I get my knowledge like most of us do, from Google. And here's what the Internet says about depression (from Washington University School of Medicine):
*Of the estimated 17.5 million Americans who are affected by some form of depression, 9.2 million have major or clinical depression
*Two-thirds of people suffering from depression do not seek necessary treatment
*80% of all people with clinical depression who have received treatment significantly improve their lives
*The economic cost of depression is estimated at $30.4 billion a year
*Women experience depression about twice as often as men
*By the year 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that depression will be the number two cause of "lost years of healthy life" worldwide
*According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide was the ninth leading cause of death in the United States in 1996.
We've all got times in our lives where we're grumpy or down or even depressed. The absolute worst solution to that is to unsubscribe from life. For those of you who might have considered that solution, or those of you who have considered considering that solution--just know that it's a terrible idea. It leaves the rest of us to hold hushed conversations in the hallways and makes the rest of us depressed about depression.
Let me offer up another suggestion. Call someone. Anyone. What you tell that person isn't as important as telling that person something. You can tell them that you're down.
You can tell them that you're depressed. You can use big words or you can use small words. You can tell them you're suicidal or that you've considered checking out. You can blame it on the Chiefs or Christmas or your wife or your dog. Just start the conversation. Don't leave it all in your head. Your head is a bad place for depressed thoughts to rattle around.
If you can do that, then you're strong enough to have a second conversation, and then maybe a third. But you have to start with a first. You can even turn to the Internet for help. Then maybe you can talk to a professional. Then maybe you can wake up and start feeling better. But you have to start. Don't take the easy way out. It's not easy for the rest of us.
I'm sure all the standard cliches apply, but just know this... Everyone goes through some sort of drama, depression or pain in their lives. The courageous don't take the chicken way out and work through it.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @FakeNedYost. Reach him via his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
WE NEED IDEAS, NOT BOY SCOUTS
A man sits at a window, then takes out a sheet of paper and begins to scribble some notes and doodles a couple of graphs. The title at the top of the page reads “Homelessness Solutions.” He completes his thoughts, then sets that sheet of paper on a stack of other papers with titles like “Budget Fix” and “Social Security Saved.” He gently binds them all together, puts them into a manila envelope and mails them to his Congressman in Washington. The envelope is received, and opened by a volunteer and then is thrown into a pile with dozens of other manilla envelopes containing letters with phrases like “End for Hunger” and “Peace in the Middle East.” The Congressman will never see them because he is currently holding a press conference to defend a recent report that he was sexually involved with his secretary five years ago - which came as a bit of a shock to his wife of 10 years. That press conference will be carried around the world by major networks.
You'll never see a press conference about the man who wrote the letter. You'll never see his quirky campaign commercial outlining his ideas. You'll never have a bumper sticker with his name on it, or a button for your lapel. You'll never even hear about this man, because he is in a wheelchair. This makes him ineligible, by today's standards, to participate as a representative in our government. He joins a field of non-candidates that include those who have been convicted of a crime, have ever taken drugs in their life; those who haven't been faithful to their spouses; those who are gay and those who have ever lied on their taxes. That's just the stuff we know about.
You hear it in every campaign ad, which will be flooding our radios, TV's and newspapers for the next year. “The Government is broken.” <Insert Your Candidate's Name Here> Is the right message to send Washington.
That is, until, someone digs something up about him or her. That one time at the Christmas party where he smooched his secretary. Or that time she got pulled over with that dime bag. Bye bye candidacy. Most importantly, bye bye ideas.
We need to begin accepting that people are imperfect. People make mistakes all the time. I've made six just while typing this article. Does one mistake (or even many mistakes) by someone wanting to serve their country invalidate any ideas they might bring to the table?
Are we too busy looking for the perfect Boy Scout and have tossed aside thousands of Cub Scouts or Brownies? The latest casualty seems to be Republican Presidential candidate, Herman Cain, who allegedly had some wandering hands - so we should completely discount his theories on economic policy. Add him as the latest in a list that includes John Edwards, Rudy Guiliani, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. And those are the ones just kicked out of Presidential elections by the public.
Sure, character does matter, and to some degree, appearance matters. It matters a great deal to many. You don't want somebody hopped up on drugs with access to State secrets, or someone to die in office because of a medical condition. But does that discount their ideas completely? There's been some pretty great Rock 'N Roll made by druggies and the like. We all seem to keep buying their music. Can't the same go for politics?
It is commonly assumed that a polio-stricken Franklin Roosevelt could have never achieved the presidency in the age of television. What would've happened to Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan in the age of the Internet and Citizen Media?
With the dawn of the Blog and Twitter age, I think this might be a good time to start listening to people's ideas and just assume everybody has a skeleton in their closet. Start with the idea they bring to the table and work backwards from there. Maybe more things would get fixed instead of us starting with trying to blow each other up digging up dirt.
It just seems to me that we need to focus more on the ideas and solutions these people have to problems and less on their own personal demons. Maybe that's terribly idealistic, but how has the old way worked for us so far?
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @FakeNedYost. Reach him via his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
There's been a recent buzz surrounding both Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium that either or both stadiums may have their naming rights sold to corporations. The prevailing rumors are that Google might buy rights to Arrowhead and Arvest Bank might buy rights to Kauffman Stadium.
Is taking money to name an inanimate object really such a bad deal? Sure, we've got an emotional connection to “The K” or “Camaro-head,” but if we suddenly started calling our coffee maker “Mr. Jigglewarts” instead of “Mr. Coffee,” so what? It still makes coffee, right?
If the extra several million dollars a year for naming rights can help bring these two teams - both steeped in decades-long runs of futility - that extra starting pitcher, or a quarterback who stops throwing to the other team, isn't that ultimately good for Kansas City?
Mr. Kauffman reportedly never even wanted the stadium named after him upon his passing in the first place.
Reaction of both fan bases has been mainly negative.
A man called “Caughtstealin32” on the website Yahoo! Sports said: “As a Royals fan, one thing I appreciate is how Kauffman stadium and the Royals have NOT sold out to some lousy bank who skims money off people who can hardly afford to go to games anymore these days.”
The website ArrowheadAddict.com summed up their thoughts of a potential “Google Stadium," Home of the Chiefs in one word: “Terrible.”
Then you've got folks like my Dad, who insists that it will always be called “Royals Stadium.”
Have you SEEN our pitching staff? You're telling me seeing 90 wins at Arvest Stadium is less important than seeing 100 losses at Kauffman Stadium? I say sell out, take the money and run. I'll get over the emotional loss.
I guess it's hard for people to get over the sheer enormity of what a name is worth. Arrowhead's rumored deal is for $6 million a year while Kauffman Stadium's is worth $3-4 million and massive exposure for the rights holder during the 2012 All-Star Game year.
It's okay to get jealous. But these owners have the right to sell those names and we can only hope it will help produce a winner on the field. This is where being a fan means we have to hold our breath and hope.
Over 65% of all professional teams play in stadiums who have sold their naming rights - starting way back with Wrigley Field and including such notable names as Minute Maid Park (Houston), Tropicana Field (Tampa), US Cellular Field (Chicago), O.Co Coliseum (Oakland) and, my personal favorite, Enron Field (Houston).
If you were in the same circumstance, my bet is that you'd react identically and just take the lumps of being called a “sellout.”
I can almost guarantee you that if some generous Platte Countian wrote a big enough check to our esteemed leader and editor-in-chief, Ivan Foley, you'd be sitting in your easy chair reading the Taco Bell / Applebee's / QuikTrip Landmark right now.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @FakeNedYost. Reach him via his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
WHY SPOTLIGHT A COOKIE-CUTTER GAS STATION?
Earlier this month, the Platte City Board of Aldermen named Casey's General Store the city's business of the year. I can wait while you soak that in.
I enjoy the goods and services provided by Casey's as much as as the next guy. I am a HUGE fan of their late night pizza, for instance. But really? A gas station? Your Business of the Year? Who else was nominated? A lemonade stand? Taco Bell?
Let's set aside for a moment that the cost of gasoline is at its highest than at any other time in history, and let's also set aside that Casey's is a nationally-based chain. Let's instead focus on what kind of message this send to outsiders.
You named a company that sells SlimJim's your Business of the Year. Is that all you got, Platte City? You mean to tell me there's not a furniture store that didn't sell a few extra couches this past year? Or a bookkeeper that posted a profit for the first time? A quick google search of “Platte City Businesses” turns up plenty of locally-based businesses.
Casey's General Stores, Inc. is a publicly traded company based in Iowa that made $6.1 billion last year in revenue selling doughnuts and diesel. They're also reportedly being pursued by 7-Eleven for a corporate buyout. So, look forward to next year's “Best Business” award to be delivered in a Slurpee cup.
According to the Platte County Economic Council, the “average household income is expected to reach $89,691 by 2015.”
Is spotlighting a store where you can get a can of motor oil, a pizza AND pack of Marlboro's really the image you want as your first impression? When future businesses ask the Chamber of Commerce "what businesses most define Platte City?" Your reply will be, "The place that has 32 oz Mountain Dew on sale for 69 cents."
Wouldn't you want to select a Platte City-based business? Maybe one that could stand as a crown jewel of what Platte City stands for? With all due respect to Casey's, who always sells me my sixer of Miller Light with a smile, I think the aldermen could do better to spotlight the industries and businesses in our community.
In order to compete with neighboring cities, you must spotlight what makes your town unique, not another cookie cutter gas station.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @FakeNedYost. Reach him via his web site, ramblingmorons.com)
NEEDED: A COURSE
IN COMMON SENSE
I watch a fair amount of news and a LOT of sports. So often the past several days, those two worlds have collided. The mash-up of those two worlds causes me a fair amount of discomfort. It's like having your friends from work meet your wife's friends from high school. Those two worlds were never intended to mix and often have unanticipated consequences.
Even more than that, when these two worlds collide, it seems to highlight the stupidity rooted in both worlds. Let's take the Penn State issues for example. While we are still finding out the gut-wrenching details surrounding Jerry Sandusky's alleged transgressions, we also find ourselves indignant at the inactions of the people around him. “They just don't seem to have any common sense,” my wife explained to me.
Well, is it possible that these folks just didn't know what to do? Remember the movie “A Christmas Story” when Flick's friends abandoned him while his tongue was cemented to a frozen flag pole. “The bell rang!” Ralphie and his buddies took off for the schoolhouse. The kids didn't know better. They only knew that when the bell rings, you go in the school house. That trumps what common sense would instruct you to get help for your friend.
Did the football staff at Penn State honestly think that just telling your supervisor was the correct action to take after seeing or hearing what they saw or heard about in the shower?
I tend to think more cynically, but maybe these coaches honestly thought that if they see a transgression, just shoot an e-mail to your boss and your role in the situation is washed away. You've always got a copy of it in your “Sent Items” in case you need a quick CYA.
Does the world need a “Common Sense School”? Maybe a class at the community college? It's long been established that kids don't go through school getting skills to help them manage their money, balance a checkbook or learn simple homemaking skills. Do we need to add a category for “common sense?”
My parents did a good job of teaching me some of these rules which include:
*If you see a traffic accident, stop and make sure people are okay, call 911 if needed.
*If it seems wrong, it probably is wrong.
*Think before you speak.
*There's no such thing as a free lunch.
And some new ones for a new age:
*Don't let your kids on Facebook account until they're 13 and monitor where they go WHENEVER they're online.
*When you're standing around people in a public area, don't talk on a cell phone loudly. The guy waiting in line at Price Chopper doesn't want to hear about your fight with your girlfriend.
*Call a cab or use a DD on Friday night.
*If it's raining, make sure to wear your rubbers. (Yes, a couple meanings for that one.)
*There is no rich Prince in Nigeria who needs your help with a million dollars.
*Assume that EVERYTHING you say on the Internet will get back to whomever you intended not to see it.
And now, thanks to Penn State, unfortunately, we need to add:
*If you see or hear of a rape, call 9-1-1.
It's a shame that some folks don't seem to know that one yet.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @FakeNedYost. Reach him via his website ramblingmorons.com)