What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Friday: Green living.

23 May 2017

The Unadulterated Cat

Dawn sent me this book for my birthday, and I gotta tell you, it's the Pratchettiest Pratchett he ever Pratchetted.

I haven't finished it, but that's because I have so many things in the air at the moment I haven't finished anything in a while.


"A Real cat's aim is to get through life peacefully, with as little interference from human beings as possible. Very much like real humans, in fact."

15 May 2017

Consistency Is Its Own Reward (but medals are nice, too)

In case anyone was wondering: training in Cincinnati and then racing in Indianapolis is a great strategy. I should do that again.

I got a couple short runs in this week, which I don't usually do after races more than 15K in length, so I guess my legs are fine. Probably. I'm not as well acquainted with my running muscles as I once was, and since that's something I should probably change, I have my running calendar laid out from now until the end of the year. Nothing major or dramatic, just rebuilding some consistency into my life that's been sorely lacking since I stopped being a member of my local running club.

Aside: y'all, never underestimate the power of other people in your life. As encouragers, as accountability partners, as friends who will mock you if you let things slide--whatever. Fill your life with those folks and don't let them go. And always be willing to be that person in someone else's life. Humans need other humans. Runners--some of us, anyway--need other runners.

I still don't have any more 2017 races on my calendar, although I'm debating the merits of Cincinnati's trail series, if for no other reason that it will be kinda like being in the running club again. Downside: getting anywhere that's more than a couple miles away without a car. Even low-cost races get expensive in a hurry if I have to get a Zipcar every time. So I'm pondering.

Today is a new day. Let's go.

Updated medal display. (Because what else am I going to do with them?)
The far right are Chadwick's finisher medals--the ones I could find, anyway.
Red, white, & blue ribbons to the left of those are our age-group medals.
The rest are my finisher medals. 

14 May 2017

Actions Speak Louder

For years, I've not gone to church on Mother's Day, but this year I'm in a "new church, new people, new city... why not?" mood and will be headed out the door in just a few to see if this delightful group of people can remain delightful on this day, my worst day of the year for being in church. (This is not the fault of anyone I've gone to church with in the last few years. This damage was done long ago and I'm just coping as best I can with the residual mess.) I hope it doesn't end with me sitting in the hallway listening to the Next to Normal cast album.

Yesterday, I listened to The West Wing Weekly podcast about the episode I persist in calling "the Ephesians 5:21 episode" but I believe is more properly titled "War Crimes," in which the Bartlets return from Mass with the president complaining bitterly about the sermon being terrible. (A thing I have done a few times in my life, but not the week the minister went to Google images for sermon illustrations and chose an image without checking the source, and it was a still from the soap opera Days of Our Lives. That was a great Sunday.) He says:
Saint Paul begins the passage: "Be subject to one another out of reverence to Christ." "Be subject to one another." In this day and age of 24-hour cable crap, devoted to feeding the voyeuristic gluttony of the American public, hooked on a bad soap opera that's passing itself off as important, don't you think you might be able to find some relevance in verse 21? How to end the cycle? Be subject to one another!
It's fantastic enough to see a character of deep faith on TV. It's even better when he or she articulates that faith in a way that shows the heart of the character. And such a heart is one I'd like to have, a heart that can stop being a narcissist for possibly minutes at a time to consider just how serious the "one another" passages (there are a bunch of them, by the way, should you be looking for something to read) are, to take them to heart and act on them.

I was a bit stuck for an appropriate image for this post, then
ran across this old tweet. So, yeah, more of this and less of the
other stuff.
Being an infertile woman in church on Mother's Day has sucked, by and large, but if I'm going to give the new folks a chance to not be sucky the least I can do is bring a frame of mind that is as much "be subject to one another" as I can possibly manage behind my overly-thick emotional shield that I must carry on this day. Maybe I can take a couple of layers off after today.

08 May 2017

Sweat, Sun, Sheep, and Speedway: Indy Mini 2017

In case you missed all the fuss on Twitter or Facebook: I met my goal time at the Indy Mini by 12 seconds, AND I got the Meb high-five I was looking for. Hard to argue with that.

The weather report got progressively more depressing as last week went on, only for the skies to defy all expectations, as they are wont to do, and after a morning of the rain stopping then starting then stopping then starting then stopping then starting, it finally cleared off for good just as the winners were coming down the home stretch and I was somewhere past mile 2. (My wave started 30 minutes later than their wave. It didn't take me an hour to go two miles.)

The crowd support in Speedway, Indiana, is the best anywhere. They love this race, and it shows--I think the whole town was out on Saturday morning. Lots of high school cheerleaders were on the Speedway itself, which is much appreciated since it's the most boring stretch of the entire race. (Everybody was talking about that after--you go into this race thinking that running on the Speedway will be so exciting, and it turns out to be the most mind-numbing 2.5 miles known to half marathoning.) I did not kiss the bricks this year, partly because I was already moving faster than I had intended and there was a line, partly because since I was moving right along, I was afraid if I stopped and got that close to the ground I might not get up again, and...

Because I got my Meb-five and that was all I was after. Last year, Meb had quite an entourage running with him and everyone made a big fuss as he passed, so I was kind of expecting a bunch of people, or at least a giant "Here he is!" sign, but what actually happened was he was standing by himself on the track facing oncoming runners, and if anyone looked the wrong way they might have missed him. I mean, I've seen hundreds of pictures of Meb and heard his voice in many interviews, so it's not like I didn't recognize him, but the whole thing was so low-key I wondered a bit if I'd just high-fived some random gent who was looking for his friends. (I've high-fived so many random gents in the course of my running life that it's not like one more makes that much difference.) Anyway, I got my high-five and he said "Good job," and that was enough excitement for this race.

And the sheep. I'm pretty sure these were the same folks who dressed as the entire cast of Mario Karts last year, and I passed them all stopped at the exact same bar I saw them at in 2016, only for them to somehow get past me before the finish. Again. So, Bo-Peep and her sheep ran, walked, or otherwise goofed off for 13.1 miles, and I must have been more zoned than I thought to have missed a herd of sheep going by me in the final two miles. They were definitely having more fun than I was.

After spending the first five miles telling myself to slow down, only to look back down at my watch a minute later and seeing that I'd sped up again, I finally went with whatever my legs wanted to do knowing that I could always walk later if I ran out of steam. Except I got to mile 11 and was like, "No way am I stopping now." Y'all, Runner Su is back, and this time I hope she's back to stay instead of dropping in for a few miles and then disappearing again. I've missed her. I'm pretty sure my celestial running buddy was by my side, too, as he usually is.

The end result was an overall pace of 12:34/mile, which would have made Past Su lay on the floor and cry but is freaking flying for 2017 Su. My final time was 2:44:48, which is 20 minutes faster than 2016. Not only will I take it, my feet have barely touched the floor since I crossed the finish line.

For now, I have no races to train for (although I have a Cincinnati race calendar open right this minute--Cincy has a trail series!--so that won't last long), and there's no telling when I'll run 13.1 again. Maybe not until the Flying Pig a year from now. But (barring something really awful happening) this will certainly not be my last one.

07 May 2017

Finding a Family

I'm away from what is rapidly becoming my beloved church home (right now it's just my really really really like a lot church home, which takes a lot longer to say) this morning, and reflecting on something Keely and I talked about earlier this week: What is church?

She's going through the same fun-fun finding a new church thing that I just finished. (We've been doing things at more or less the same times for at least 15 years now. Not on purpose--it just happens.) Through our conversation, my phone was buzzing with "mouse updates"--someone at church was having some unwanted critter problems last week and regaling a couple of us with the more hilarious details. So, naturally, when Keely asked, I said, "People who will willingly read each others' mouse updates." She said, "That's a really good definition."

I spent half an hour this morning
swearing at my phone and the
Flying Pig Marathon, trying to
get the runner tracking to work.
After all, it's only fair for me to also
track my running friends in return
for all the kind texts and tweets.
And I like that it is. I'm sure there are many folks with so many support networks that all they're looking for from church is the encouragement from the Sunday morning gathering. If that's you, fantastic. On you go.

If it's not, for those who are looking for more than that, then "what is church?" is the question we have to ask ourselves, perhaps several times. I was not specifically looking for people who would send me congratulatory texts after I finish a half marathon, or their mouse updates, or suggestions for the best places to ride a bike, but that's what I found once I found a church family that was kind and welcoming and not weird about me being widowed with no children. (It's remarkably sad how many church folks are weird about that. More the "no children" than the "widowed", but still.) What is church for you?

The church I'm visiting this morning is the church I grew up in, and once upon a time they were my people, but I can feel the years between us when I visit. Some of them still see the kid they once new, which is only natural. Some of them still say, "Oh, Billy and Denise have a sister?" every time they see me, as though I'm one of The Silence. Some of them are every bit the delightful folks they've been my whole life. I'm happy to seem them on every visit, but I readily admit I'll be happier to be back at Echo next Sunday.

Because they're church for me.

05 May 2017

Tired Shoes

On the eve of my ninth half marathon (remember that time I said I wasn't that into the half marathon thing? I changed my mind about that in a hurry), let's talk shoes.

I've been very fond of these shoes, but it's time to meet
their replacement. Today at the Indy Mini expo, I hope.
Shoes are tricky, because they're easily the most expensive and the most complicated part of any runner's gear--they have so many kinds of materials in their construction, after all--yet their useful life as running shoes is pretty short (between 500-1000 miles, although most experts will caution that you start playing with fire if you push it to the higher end of the range). I can generally tell when my shoes need replacing by how my feet and ankles feel--when they start getting weird pains, I change out my shoes, which for me is usually around 700 miles.

But what to do with them? The landfill is a terrible option, but thrift stores won't always take slightly-broken shoes with open arms, either. Planet Aid will send them to developing countries, Nike will upcycle them into tracks and other cool things, and some gardening types (hey, that's me!) will use them as planters for a couple seasons. I've also occasionally unloaded them onto friends who don't mind free, slightly-used shoes, especially when Mizuno goes a bit crazy and makes my preferred shoe model in pink, as they do from time to time. Ugh, no way will I downgrade those to my everyday shoes. It's bad enough having to wear pink while running.

As with pretty much everything, shoe recycling/reusing takes a bit of thought and maybe some time to research good options, but there's almost certainly something that can be done with your old shoes besides tossing them. 

03 May 2017

A Year in a Life

Y'all. Look what the 5th Avenue Theatre posted for my birthday!



I didn't even get out of bed this morning before I watched it. So fantastic. Bea Corley looks to be a brilliant Mary Lennox. Seattle friends, go see this NOW because it's your last chance!

Anyway. This isn't supposed to be a Secret Garden post. So the day I've been not-looking-foward-to for two years has arrived... I've reached the age that Chadwick got to but never got past.  On my 36th birthday, which was the last we would spend together, he and I talked about the weird feeling I had about arriving, healthy and whole and with every expectation of seeing 37, at the age at which my beloved uncle had died. And then it was less than a year before Chadwick was gone, too, despite his expectations (and indeed, eagerness--he was a bit of an odd one, my Chadwick) of seeing 40. I suppose you could say the death rate is still going strong at 100%.

Thanks, Google.
So I don't know how I feel about it today. My coworker whose office I share (even after three months, I still think of it as her office) also just not-celebrated a birthday, and we've talked a bit the the past week about neither of us really feeling the spirit of getting another year older. I feel, as I always do on this day, the weight of the legacy of sharing my birthday with a grandfather I can't remember (he would have been 85), the joy of a baby cousin who I don't see nearly often enough who now shares this birthday, too (I've lost track of how old she is), and a special kinship with a couple other beloved birthday buddies. (Okay, so one of them is Dulé Hill, who technically isn't "beloved" since he's a complete stranger I just admire when I see his work on TV, but the other one is a high school classmate who welcomed me back to Greenfield last summer with literal open arms and is beloved enough for both herself and a random celebrity, with some left over.)

That paragraph kind of got away from me a bit. I'm leaving it.

But there's an extra weight this year, that at some point in the next few months I'm likely going to cross what was Chadwick's finish line and have to keep going. He woke up in the arms of Jesus before he could get to the magical milestone he was so excited about, the one he was planning to greet like an old friend instead of as a drugery, the one he was already celebrating instead of dreading. And if God grants me another year on this planet to live and love and laugh and grow and be--the least I can do, the very least I can do is greet this year and the next great adventure with the same lightness in my heart.

Even if there are tears today. (There already are. It's ridiculous.) Even if I feel this hole in my heart so keenly as I face another day without him by my side. Even if the road looks long and dark and I'd rather just lay on the ground than carry on. He would not want me to waste a perfectly good year on angst--he'd want me to grab this life with both hands and stretch it in every way I can to make sure I didn't miss any of it. That is the legacy he's left with me. That is a thing that I can do.

Post title was not an intentional reference to "Seasons of Love," but since that works out so nicely, here you go. Maybe I'll make that my theme song for 39. That one or "No Day But Today," which also works well for birthdays. Here on in, I shoot without a script.

02 May 2017

What I Read: April

I read three books again in April, which means my Goodreads Challenge is getting a bit ahead of me at the moment. Maybe now that I can stop dashing out my door a couple times a week to go take photos of places I've never seen before, I'll have a bit more time for reading. I hope.

So, here's what I got through in April. Books are in alphabetical order by title (ignoring articles, naturally; I'm not a barbarian). If you want to see them in a different order, let's be friends on Goodreads and you can peruse my shelves to your heart's delight. As always, book images and links are from Goodreads, and that's where you can read my reviews, too.



First-time reads:
Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've LearnedAlan Alda
The Red Notebook, Antoine Laurain
Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, Ronald J. Sider


Re-reads:



Books by women:



Goodreads challenge: 13 of 52 books in 2017


What are you reading?

01 May 2017

Zoom!

That's the sound I'm going to make when I'm running on the Speedway on Saturday. Of course, I'll have to say it aloud, because my running is less "zoom" and more "plod," but whatever. Going slower just means I have more time to line up to high-five Meb, amirite?

I'm just gonna go get another set of these Saturday.
Seriously. If I manage to get a Meb-five, I don't even care if I break my leg on the next turn and have to be carried back via the nearest hospital. That's really all I'm going for.

So! Less than a week to go until my second running of the Indy Mini. As I did for El Paso, I'm guessing my final 12-mile training run time is likely to be close to my race day finishing time. I was a bit slower than that in El Paso, but here's the thing about Indianapolis--it's flatter than the flattest of pancakes. Unlike everywhere I look in Cincinnati, the closest thing the Indy Mini has to a hill is the ramp up to the Speedway. Where Meb will be. I think I got this.

This will be my 61st race and my 9th half marathon. There's nothing particularly significant about those numbers (except, hey! That's where all my money goes), but since I went to the trouble to look them up, I decided to share. You know what's going to be sad about this race? No one following me on a bike. So... anybody wanna come be my portable cheering section? It's flat!

Let's do this, Indy.

30 April 2017

Z is for Zoo #AtoZChallenge

Last one! I hope you've enjoyed this little glimpse of Cincinnati with me. My favourite thing about this series has been all the locals who've read a post or two and then told me their personal histories with the things I wrote about. And the folks who, having read about one thing, asked if I'd been to another. And the ones who've filled in the gaps left after I read the info available on Wikipedia. Maybe the kindest thing I heard was from a coworker who said, "It's been fun rediscovering Cincinnati through your eyes." And that is, indeed, the most I could possibly have hoped for.

So! The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. You've probably heard of it. (And if you're not following the updates on Fiona the baby hippo, you're wrong.) As with many other posts in this series, I didn't go inside, but instead took a few pics of the entrance. And attracted the attention of a couple Zoo employees, who probably wondered what the heck I was doing. C'est la vie here in Su-Land.

The Zoo opened in 1875 and is the second-oldest zoo in the U.S. One of the original buildings still stands (it's the Reptile Building now), and is the oldest zoo building in the U.S. Admission on opening day was 25¢ for adults and 15¢ for children. I believe it's gone up a bit since then.
This historic entrance has an elevator inside, so colour me skeptical.
Also, at what point do you change your sign to read "Historic Entrance"
instead of just "entrance"? There have to be data on that.
The Zoo's first guidebook was printed in 1876 in German, because that's what a sizeable portion of the population at the time spoke, with the English guide coming in 1893. Clearly, the English-speaking folks weren't in too much of a hurry to print a guidebook.

Bike parking: approved.
Red Bike kiosk: thumbs up. Although riding one of these heavy bikes
back up the hill from here towards the University area cannot be pleasant.
Unless the rider has legs of steel, I suppose.  There are a couple more stations
further north than this one, but once you're at the Zoo you're closing in on
 the northern edge of the Red Bikes system.
Bike rack shaped like a snake: thumbs way up. I love it.
Not pictured: the Zoo is served by two local bus routes.
Public transit: also approved.
I'm not normally one to get excited by car parking, because why would I?, but this is pretty cool. The Zoo parking lot has solar panels on the covered parking roofs that provide 20% of the Zoo's energy annually. There was another sign describing it as a "demonstration project," but at that point the zoo dude was staring at me pretty intensely so I decided to skip that one and move on.
Sign describing the project + panels as seen from the pedestrian overpass.
I will probably save any actual visiting the Zoo for such a time as my sister comes to visit, because of the two of us, she's more of the Zoo one. (I'm the libraries and museums one.)
Plants at the entrance. As you can plainly see, this is the tulips' way of
telling me I should have come by a bit sooner.
And that, my friends, is the 2017 A to Z Challenge. Tomorrow I'll resume my usual nonsense. See you then.

29 April 2017

Y is for Yeatman #AtoZChallenge

Join me on the A to Z Challenge: I'll share a different thing from my new home, Cincinnati, every day for 26 days in April.

Yeatman's Cove is, according to the sign I read while down there, the place the first settlers landed from the Ohio in what would become Cincinnati. However, good luck finding confirmation of that anywhere on the internet.
Yeatman's Cove these days is one of a string of linear parks that stretch for two miles along the river, and if I weren't still in mourning for my beloved Town Lake Trail I would probably appreciate those two miles a lot more. As it is, well, it's still a nice spot even if I am unfairly comparing it to something 1000 miles away.

At Yeatman's Cove, we have the Serpentine Wall:

So named because it looks like this: ~~~~~~~~ Except it doesn't have quite that many wiggles, but you get the idea. The wall, in addition to looking like a set of bleachers and therefore being a great place for sitting, is also for flood prevention--Cincinnati's past contains some historic floods that resulted in loss of life and property, and obviously that's not a thing we want repeated. So the wall is one of several levees that keep the city high and dry in case the river gets a bit antsy and overflows its banks.
There was some nasty-looking debris that had washed up here that I didn't
want Sharlie rolling through, so here's where I stopped. Incidentally,
here's where the water stopped, too. So it's working great.
That's the Taylor Southgate Bridge, which lies between the Purple People Bridge
and the Roebling Suspension Bridge. It has a bike/ped path, so I still like
it even though it's not my favourite.
Flood stage for the river is 52 feet, measured from the Roebling Bridge, and I don't really know how they do that (which is probably why I'm not in charge of it).

Yeatman's Cove got its name, not from the first settlers, but rather from Cincinnati's first tavern, which Yeatman built here near the river, presumably for easy access for the men who wanted to get drunk after working on the river all day.
It's a city park now, so getting drunk here is highly discouraged. There
are two sports stadiums just a mile up the road that can help with that.

28 April 2017

X is for Xavier #AtoZChallenge

Join me on the A to Z Challenge: I'll share a different thing from my new home, Cincinnati, every day for 26 days in April.

I was about to skip over X and go to Y. That's twice this challenge I've done that. Clearly, the alphabet and I are having a critical difference of opinion.

Xavier University is one of many institutes of higher learning in Cincinnati--I tried to nail down an exact number, but apparently no one has bothered to count them. (Okay, actually, everyone has bothered to count them, but can't agree on the number.) Basically, if you want to learn things, you're in good shape here.

I read this guy's label, then promptly forgot who he was,
although reason would suggest he's Frances Xavier.
Anyway, he's at the entrance to vaguely gesture at people
as they arrive.
Xavier is a Catholic university, among the oldest in the country, and while I'm wildly out of the loop re: Midwest universities and how they've been getting on in my 20-year absence from the region, Xavier seems to be not too shabby in either academics or athletics. A handful of my coworkers went there, if all one hears is true, so I can at least vouch for some of Xavier's graduates being awesome.
I don't know what this is, but I kind of expect the Doctor
to turn up and point a sonic screwdriver at it.
Their mascot is D'Artagnan, certainly Chadwick's favourite of the Musketeers, which softens my heart toward Xavier already, even if they didn't have excellent bike parking.
But they do! Very well done, Xavier. So, re: the lack of human
activity... this was one of the stops on Susan's (not me; the other one)
Easter Sunday Tour of Cincinnati
, but being as it was Easter
the Catholic school was on holiday. It was kind of creepy
wandering around not seeing any students.
Not sure about the presence of any bike lanes nearby, because I didn't look, but if the rest of the city is any indication it's lucky for Xavier students who travel actively that there are nice wide sidewalks surrounding them.
Like the one next to this sign, for instance.
Bellarmine Chapel on campus has a hyperbolic paraboloid roof (note to self: look up those words), so that even even if the walls were to come a-tumbling down, the roof would stay up, which I would call witchcraft except this is a Catholic university, so I'm thinking the roof has its own patron saint. I admit that would be useful to have.
The thing on the front is cool, too. I wonder if it's ever open to the public?

27 April 2017

W is for Woodward #AtoZChallenge

Join me on the A to Z Challenge: I'll share a different thing from my new home, Cincinnati, every day for 26 days in April.

Mr. Woodward was half the architectural team of Garber & Woodward that designed a whole bunch of stuff around Cincinnati, including many other things that begin with W.

Like this:
This is a high school. (Walnut Hills)
And this:
Also a high school. Not the Von Trapp's estate,
but I see where you might make that mistake. (Withrow)
Same high school (!!!), from slightly
farther away.
And this:
This is a PRIMARY school. Holy smokes. (Rothenberg)
So clearly, when I need a setting for any future school stories I need look no further than a Garber & Woodward building.

A few more (not nearly all) of their buildings around town:
Every single one of these buildings is on, or within sight of, Fourth Street.
Clearly, our friends G & W had a good thing going downtown.
Clockwise from top left: Taft Museum (they handled the remodel);
Christ Church Cathedral; Anna Louise Inn; Guilford Building
(also a former school, and it stands on the site of Fort Washington);
Dixie Terminal; The Phelps (these days it's a Marriott);
Cincinnati Gas and Electric Building.
So by my count, for our Day of W we have Woodward, Walnut, Withrow, Washington, and Wow! (That last one is just what I said when I saw those high schools. How could your university possibly compare if that's the high school you went to?) Not bad.

26 April 2017

V is for Vontz #AtoZChallenge

Join me on the A to Z Challenge: I'll share a different thing from my new home, Cincinnati, every day for 26 days in April.

On Easter Sunday my friend Susan willingly participated in a day of "hey, I need to gather some pics for my blog," and we drove past this building that I'd never properly looked at before. All I read of the sign was "molecular studies," so I asked, "Is that building supposed to be shaped like a molecule?"
From what I've read: no. It's just some cool Gehry architecture. 
So, because reading the entire sign is for other people, I said something about how it was too bad I hadn't seen it before my M day, and Susan said, "You can still use it. That's the Vontz building."
Hey, what do you know! It's right there in great big letters.
By the way, Susan and I have this recurring habit of introducing ourselves to visitors at church at the same time, after which I have an unfortunate tendency to say that we don't usually travel as a two-pack of Susans, because I have yet to learn the art of saying hello and then shutting up. Also this:

Anyway, I don't actually know anything about architecture--my appreciation for buildings mostly extends to, "hey, that one is pretty!"--so for further anaylsis you'll need someone else. The Vontz Building is part of the University of Cincinnati, and is across from the UC hospital, so lots of cool and smart things are happening here. The building is already in need of some repair/renovation, despite being less than 20 years old. Bummer.
But seriously, how great is a building that looks like it was built
by one of the Animaniacs?
Outside the building, there's this:
I saw it and thought, "Wait, that Sabin? The polio vaccine guy?"
So, good job, history teachers! I hadn't realised until now that
Cincinnati was Dr. Sabin's home.
And this:
Great plaza space that was being used by approximately zero students,
But since this area is where science students learn things, I presume they're all
studying hard for finals. Or maybe they just don't like going outdoors that much.
I want one of these:
It's a giant leaf. I can't believe no one was sitting on it.
In the department of less-spectacular things found nearby, there's this ridiculous sign right at the intersection where the Vontz building (and the hospital!) is. I certainly don't want to ascribe ill will to the hardworking city planners and traffic engineers of Cincinnati, but who looks at an intersection that will be serving thousands of students and transit-dependent folks and thinks, "Let's not bother with a crosswalk on this side"? I mean, seriously.

Welcome, pedestrians! Please enjoy your walk all the way around
the intersection instead of going in a straight line. We certainly
hope you're able-bodied and not at all in need of the hospital's services.
People cross midblock near this intersection all day long, and who can blame them? I did the same thing coming back because I couldn't be bothered waiting for three light cycles instead of just one. Get it together, Cincinnati.
It's all the more egregious when you consider these things are within
a few feet of the "no pedestrians" sign. Talk about your mixed messages.

25 April 2017

U is for Union #AtoZChallenge

Join me on the A to Z Challenge: I'll share a different thing from my new home, Cincinnati, every day for 26 days in April.

On a trip to Cincy last summer, we were rolling along the interstate and my mother asked, "What's that building?" Being as I hadn't moved here yet, I said, "I don't know."

It's a much more impressive sight when it's not behind a fence and
heavy construction equipment. Not that I know that from personal
experience, but I've seen some lovely pictures.
That building is, or rather was, Cincinnati Union Terminal. These days it's the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, with the heyday of rail travel long behind it. Just one lonely train comes through three times per week (in the middle of the night in both directions--yes, I've looked into it), connecting Chicago to New York via many Midwest cities.

Poor dear looks like a kid that's had a bit of a skateboarding incident.
Renovation is meant to be finished in 2018.
Union Terminal first opened in 1933, unfortunately arriving just after rail travel had peaked in the U.S., so it came to be seen as a boondoggle before many years had gone by. Before the station was built, though, Wikipedia says: "intercity passenger traffic was split among no fewer than five stations in Downtown Cincinnati, requiring the many travelers who changed between railroads to navigate local transit themselves." Y'all. I can only hope local transit was easier to navigate in the early 20th century than it is now. I'm very good at transit and I find the local system nearly impossible.

Gotta love old train station font.
Union Terminal has been the subject of a few preservation movements in its many years, which is basically the only reason it's still standing. And thank goodness, because wow, what a loss that would be if it were gone. It was placed on the National Register in 1972.

I'm looking forward to getting a better pic of the mural and the rotunda
once the scaffolding comes down and I'm allowed inside.
So, here's a cool thing I just learned today: Winold Reiss created a bunch of mosaic murals just for Union Terminal, depicting life and industry in Cincinnati in the early 1930s. When part of the terminal was torn down in 1972, fourteen murals were moved to the airport (nine of them have just been moved back downtown in the past year because of demolition and construction at the airport), a couple were moved within the terminal itself and eventually made it to one of the museums, the ones in the rotunda remain, and alas... one was destroyed along with its home, being too large and expensive to move.

I wonder what's in there.
It has museums in it, so it's a safe bet this will not be my last trip to Union Terminal. Plus, y'all know how obsessed I am with transit. Sooner or later, I'll be getting on that train.

In the spirit of the word "union," here's a thing that has nothing to do with Union Terminal: the building where I go to work every day was the home of the International Union of United Brewery, Flour, Cereal, Soft Drink and Distillery Workers (a name which makes our org's somewhat convoluted name seem downright boring by comparison) before they merged with the Teamsters in 1973. Their legacy remains in the building, though:
Just one of many union touches.

24 April 2017

T is for Tyler #AtoZChallenge

Join me on the A to Z Challenge: I'll share a different thing from my new home, Cincinnati, every day for 26 days in April.

The Tyler Davidson Fountain, despite having a gent's name, is actually a lady, also called The Genius of Water. I will say this for Cincinnati: they're very good at giving credit where credit is due for the city's growth and prosperity. First to the pigs, now to the river.

The lights on the fountain change colour a bit. We don't have nine of them.
The Tyler Davidson Fountain is in the middle of the appropriately named Fountain Square, which (if the frequency with which people mention it is any indication) is certainly in the top five of most beloved spots in the city. The fountain was in the opening credits of WKRP in Cincinnati (I remember the show, but I'm pretty sure I remember it in reruns. Also, I just watched the title sequence for the first time in about 30 years and the city hasn't changed a lot).

On one of our three snowy days
last winter. I'm not complaining:
that's exactly the right number
of snowy days.
The fountain has been moved around a bit since her dedication in 1871, and has been in her current location since 2006. She was placed on the National Register in 1979. The water is switched on every spring (after being off for the winter months) in time for the Reds' first home game.


Also on Fountain Square: some nice landscaping, an enormous Christmas tree at Christmastime, an ice skating rink for a few months, a stage the rest of the time, tables and chairs, big signs with all the rules for the plaza. And an alleged bike rack. Seriously, bike parking is listed as an amenity on the Fountain Square website, and they are mistaken.

I think you misspelled "disgrace" on that website, y'all.
But at least there's a Red Bike station just off the square, so all is not lost.

On a chilly but well-lit evening last weekend.

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