28 May 2008

Changes Recommended to City's Recycling Contract

In a memo (# 200800438) forwarded to City Council, Bradford C. Mank, chair of the city's Environmental Advisory Council, recommends that the city's contract "be linked to the number of curbside pick-ups actually performed by the contractor."

The current contract expires at the end of this month and will automatically renewed without changes unless Council acts to change it.

"Under the current contract the City pays Rumpke a lump sum for picking up and recycling materials; Rumpke receives the same money regardless of the amount of recyclable material picked up, whether from a single household or all households in the city. The City should shift... to payment based on the number of households that actually recycle their garbage. Such a move incentivizes Rumpke to promote recycling and ensures the City's money is spent cost-effectively."

I've heard a few people complain that their recyclables aren't consistently picked up. Maybe this is the answer.

27 May 2008

Cincinnati History Moment: Carew Tower

From Yesterday's Cincinnati:

Businesses start in interesting ways. It's been said that Joseph Thomas Carew and Christopher R. Mabley were passing through Cincinnati on a business trip to Memphis in 1877. Having missed their connection here, they walked around town and reached Fountain Square, saw a "For Rent" sign, and decided that 66 Fifth Street was a fine place for a store.

Carew was the first in Cincinnati to adopt full-page newspaper ads, to give elaborate Christmas performances, and to set up the Arbor Day custom. The old Mabley and Carew Building was once illuminated by 10,000 lights that glimmered opposite Fountain Square.

22 May 2008

Nicknames of People I Knew in College

HILLBILLY. He was from Mt. Airy, NC which was the town used as the setting for Mayberry. This was funny because he was pretty much like Andy Griffith; a friendly, easy-going fella with a southern drawl. He dated Stacy, who was kind of a bitch but was one of the two hottest bodies on campus. They had nothing in common but he was with several girls with whom he had nothing in common once word got around about his huge member.

COWBOY. I didn't know him that well but he dated Stacy before Hillbilly. And he wore cowboy hats a lot.

GOAT. At first people were scared of this guy. He just looked like a guy who would really fuck you up if you crossed him. The CIA (or maybe it was the FBI) approached him while campus recruiting, so that gives an idea about his appearance. Actually he was a nice guy and pretty thoughtful, if I remember.

POND SCUM. No, he didn't look THAT bad but he was disheveled enough to earn the nickname. He was in the tennis class that I assisted in. The instructor got on his case a lot and it drove him to tears once.

COCO. From Ecuador. Hilarious. Everybody loved him. One of the funnest guys to party with.

ROLO. Coco's roommate. From somewhere in Latin America. Every time we saw him he was with a different hot girl.

LOTTA RELATA. He wore tight jeans once and a girl joked "Wow, there's a lotta Relata in those jeans!" and it stuck.

BUSTER. His last name was "Cherry" so this was pretty much expected.

20 May 2008

Predictions for 2000 from 1900

Every now and then a news item about the oldest person in the world appears. Some years ago it was a French woman who was so old she remembered seeing Vincent Van Gogh as a young girl (she said he was gruff and irritable).

When I see these news items I think about all the extraordinary things that have happened in their lives. The rapid pace of change is an entirely new thing, after all; for 99% of human history, children lived the same short, miserable lives their parents and grandparents did. If someone from present day went back to 1900 and told them what would happen in the 20th century, I wonder how much they would believe.

What would we believe if someone came to us from 2100? What would we predict?

One thing is for sure: whatever we predict, we'll elicit raised eyebrows as well as a few laughs. Consider these predictions from 1900 for the year 2000. The highlights:

Nicaragua will ask for admission to our Union after the completion of the great canal. Mexico will be next...

The American will be taller by from one to two inches... He will live fifty years instead of thirty-five as at present – for he will reside in the suburbs. The city house will practically be no more... The trip from suburban home to office will require a few minutes only. A penny will pay the fare.

A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling.

There Will Be No Street Cars in Our Large Cities... underground or overhead streets will teem with capacious automobile passenger coaches and freight with cushioned wheels. Subways or trestles will be reserved for express trains. Cities, therefore, will be free from all noises.

Automobiles will be cheaper than horses are today... Automobiles will have been substituted for every horse vehicle now known. There will be... automobile hearses, automobile police patrols, automobile ambulances, automobile street sweepers.

Giant guns will shoot twenty-five miles or more, and will hurl anywhere within such a radius shells exploding and destroying whole cities... Fleets of air-ships, hiding themselves with dense, smoky mists, thrown off by themselves as they move, will float over cities, fortifications, camps or fleets. They will surprise foes below by hurling upon them deadly thunderbolts.

Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later...

Man will See Around the World. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span.

Mosquitoes, house-flies and roaches will have been practically exterminated.

There will be No C, X or Q in our every-day alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary. Spelling by sound will have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of condensed words expressing condensed ideas, and will be more extensively spoken than any other. Russian will rank second.

A university education will be free to every man and woman. Several great national universities will have been established... Poor students will be given free board, free clothing and free books if ambitious and actually unable to meet their school and college expenses. Medical inspectors regularly visiting the public schools will furnish poor children free eyeglasses, free dentistry and free medical attention of every kind. The very poor will, when necessary, get free rides to and from school and free lunches between sessions. In vacation time poor children will be taken on trips to various parts of the world.

Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago.

Hot or cold air will be turned on from spigots to regulate the temperature of a house... Rising early to build the furnace fire will be a task of the olden times.

Ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar to our bakeries of today. They will purchase materials in tremendous wholesale quantities and sell the cooked foods at a price much lower than the cost of individual cooking...

Fast-flying refrigerators on land and sea will bring delicious fruits from the tropics and southern temperate zone within a few days. The farmers of South America, South Africa, Australia and the South Sea Islands, whose seasons are directly opposite to ours, will thus supply us in winter with fresh summer foods...

Microscopes will lay bare the vital organs, through the living flesh, of men and animals. The living body will to all medical purposes be transparent. Not only will it be possible for a physician to actually see a living, throbbing heart inside the chest, but he will be able to magnify and photograph any part of it. This work will be done with rays of invisible light.

There will be no wild animals except in menageries... Food animals will be bred to expend practically all of their life energy in producing meat, milk, wool and other by-products.

13 May 2008

Ideas for a World-Class City, no. 7

Microwave some popcorn and watch StreetFilm’s exploration (10 min.) on some of the things Melbourne did to transform itself into a world-class city. There were many ideas that struck me as locally applicable.

And on Thursday evening, raise another glass to honor Christian Moerlein's death anniversary. No, I am not confused; he was born May 13, 1818 and died 79 years and one day later on May 14.

Christian Moerlein Birth Anniversary

Clark St. Blog salutes Christian Moerlein, born on this date in 1818.

A good reason to lift a glass, for those looking for one.

12 May 2008

Cincinnati History Moment: Roebling Bridge

From Luke Feck's Yesterday's Cincinnati:

There was a distinct threat once when twelve thousand Confederate troops led by Edmund Kirby Smith marched toward Cincinnati in an attempted invasion of the North. September 2, 1862, saw Cincinnati under martial law imposed by Union General Lew Wallace (who later wrote Ben Hur)....

The quick crossing of the Ohio by Wallace's men provided the impetus for one of the most important events in all Cincinnati's history-- the building of the Suspension Bridge.

...By September 1865 the bridge towers were completed. On October 4, two cables and a footbridge were completed. Each cable was 12-1/2 inches in diameter and weighed a million pounds. On the second day the bridge was open (December 2, 1866), 120,000 people walked across the Ohio River.

...Roebling went on to build the Brooklyn Bridge, but his bridge across the Ohio was a classic and an important link in Cincinnati's history. During the 1937 flood of Cincinnati, it was the only bridge open across the Ohio from Cairo, Illinois to Steubenville, Ohio-- some six hundred miles.

11 May 2008

Findlay Market: PACKED!

I've been going to Findlay Market regularly for several years, since before there were Sunday hours and such a thing as the Corporation for Findlay Market. In those days I often wondered why the parking lot was so big. Although I occasionally walked I never once needed to park beyond the first section adjacent to the playground.

Well, those days are over. The Market is routinely packed, never moreso than this past Saturday. Maybe everyone got a gumption injection after reading Valereee's "How to shop at a farmer's market" post at Cincinnati Locavore.

It can be a pain dealing with the increased human density, with the traffic congestion and parking hassle (and waiting 5 min to buy one chocolate cream puff), but it's nice to see the market and vendors doing great business. The plan is for the Market to wean itself off municipal subsidies and become self-sustaining but I'm not sure what the status of that is currently. The evidence certainly suggests it's progressing in that direction, and a couple of stalls are still available.

(I'd like to see a new stall specialize in poultry products. Ostrich, quail & quail eggs, duck & duck eggs, squab, pheasant, and maybe other stuff that just tastes like chicken. I'm puzzled that ostrich is not more widely available at the very least.)

The Market is a distinctly un-grocery experience. I've enjoyed conversations with vendors, customers, even the clean-up crew. I've had prices routinely rounded down to the nearest round number and I've been given "a little bit extra." And where else can you see someone with the nerve to sell her pumpkin pies for nine dollars?

Factoid: Gibbs Meat & Cheese sells 24 logs of Limburger every week. Somebody out there is buying that stuff. It's one of my goals this year to try it. I would also be interested to know if Limburger eaters have a statistically significant preference for a particular Presidential candidate, or if a particular Presidential candidate has a preference for Limburger.

I recently met another gustatory goal, trying head cheese. I tried Ussinger's brand from Krause's. It looks different from other brands; it has large chunks of meat embedded in gelatin. I found it to be a very problematic meat concoction. I usually don't have a problem with texture as much as some people do but this was way out there. Neither taste nor smell were redeeming. I might try a different brand another time but that time will be a long way away. I would not vote for someone who likes Ussinger's head cheese.

06 May 2008

A Bit of Very Early Cincinnati History

From Luke Feck's Yesterday's Cincinnati:

During prehistoric times what is now called the Ohio River flowed up the Little Miami River out Duck Creek Road, before most of that became highway I-71, and up toward Hamilton. It came back down part of the Great Miami River bed. The Licking River flowed on up the Millcreek Valley. There was a large lake over the Cincinnati basin (or at least high backwater), and a natural barrier across the Ohio around Anderson Ferry.

The Ice Age pulverized the Cincinnati area topography, making hills and fossil troves, and sticking the river back about where it should be-- to a point where you would recognize it.

Once the geography settled down, a band of so-called Indians settled the area around the time of Christ's birth. They were known as the Moundbuilders, but where they came from nobody knows.

The last of the Moundbuilders disappeared from this area about the same time Jamestown, Virginia, was colonized.

By 1669 Robert de La Salle was rowing past the future site of Cincinnati. He called the river "La Belle Riviere" or Beautiful River. Indians who hunted there called it "Oh-he-yo" or Great River.

Factoid: Mound Street in the West End is Cincinnati's oldest street and got its name because it was one of the Moundbuilder's mounds.

05 May 2008

ODP Bears Responsibility for Putting Marc Dann in Office

The ODP chose Marc Dann over the better qualified Subodh Chandra in 2006 based only on Dann's party connections. To illustrate the ODP's thinking, here are excerpts from an ODP executive committee meeting I detailed in this post:

Priscilla O’Donnell: ...Of all of the candidates, I heard more excitement about [Chandra’s] candidacy than anyone else other than Strickland.

CJ Prentiss: This guy [Dann] has taken us to the dance. He has been on top of them, articulating and point out all the wrong that is done. On top of that, he has put out recommendations of what we can do right.

Pat O’Malley, Cuyahoga: I’ve got a couple of issues about this race. This is a race where we have to make a stand. I come from Cleveland, where Subodh is from, and I’ve been active for years. I’ve never seen him at a political function. I’ve never seen him help a candidate in Cuyahoga County. He’s not even known in Cuyahoga County.

Susan Gwin: I really take exception to Mr. O’Malley’s comments. The problem I have in this race is electability. How do we elect Dann, who has a reprimand from the Ohio Supreme Court in the past three years?

Varner: ...Dann is a team player and has been -- and would be even if he weren't in this race. Chandra, on the other hand, was the only candidate who wouldn't tell the screening committee on Saturday that he would support the entire ticket in the general election no matter who wins the primary. We want a team player in this race, and that is not Subodh Chandra.

And as I opined at the time:

What does Chandra bring to the table? Superior qualifications for AG.
What does Dann bring to the table? Attendance at Party events, name recognition in Cuyahoga County, vocal partisanship, and a Supreme Court reprimand.

When it decided upon an AG candidate, the ODP ignored qualifications and ignored the grassroots. And now they got burned in a most embarrassing fashion. I think it's safe to say that no one can imagine Subodh Chandra sending adolescent text messages between happy hours and hook-ups.

In addition to the matter of how the AG's office will resolve this scandal, there is also the matter of how the ODP will select its candidates in the future. Will it prioritize qualifications and the grassroots, or will it remain an insider's club?

01 May 2008

"Clean Coal" Technology Coming to Cincinnati

The Business Courier reports that Vertus Technologies is partnering with Cincinnati Bulk Terminals to open a coal-scrubbing operation in Queensgate. Some further info:

Cincinnati Bulk Terminals is a dock and storage facility. It calls itself "tri-modal" because it has access to interstates, railroads, and the Ohio river. It will transport coal from around Ohio and Vertus will process it by "Reductive Thermal Processing," or RTP. This basically vaporizes contaminants from raw coal, resulting in a purer coal which can burn more efficiently and with less pollutants released into the atmosphere. The cleaned coal will them be shipped out to regional plants.

The stock price of Vertus' parent company, Nviro Cleantech, has been rapidly declining so this new initiative may help.

The main pollutants of concern in coal burning are sulfur, nitrous dioxide and mercury. Coal burning is the greatest contributor of mercury to the environment (as fish lovers are well aware). Other pollutants such as VOCs, hydrochloric acid and carbon monoxide are also present, as are trace metals cadmium, arsenic, cobalt, selenium, copper, nickel and lead. All of these are released into the environment during normal coal burning.

I was unable to find information about what happens to the contaminants after they are separated from the coal. It is a serious matter since the facility is close to the river and a sizeable human population.