Friday, May 29, 2009

21st Century Breakdown

Am playing Green Day's new album, 21st Century Breakdown over and over in the car stereo and here at home. Somehow they managed to top American Idiot -- or maybe they just picked up and moved forward from where they last left off.

This new one is highly singable and full of fire. (You know you have a winner when after the first time through you hit replay and can sing along with all the choruses without even looking at the lyrics.) American Idiot is going to become a staged rock opera -- I read the casting notice for it in Backstage magazine over spring break. 21st Century Breakdown is also written as a rock opera, with Christian and Gloria as the leading characters.

The first single, as noted on the Kinks Preservation Society email digest, takes the opening chord sounds from Word of Mouth and then goes in another direction with them. Green Day resonates with some of my favorite bands of all times: the Kinks, Sex Pistols and the Clash. It's a natural progression from "20th Century Man" to "21st Century Breakdown":

And here's the title song from the Kinks' Word of Mouth (1984)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summit Lake, neglected and trashy

There's a beautiful new section of the Canal Towpath that cuts across the southeastern portion of the lake. Too bad the lake is so toxic and perpetually neglected by whichever entity is in charge of maintaining it.

I've never seen so much trash bobbling all along the shoreline as I have this year. There are no trash cans for the public's convenience, therefore the public who show up every day to fish (ew! Imagine eating fish that some how manage to live in a lake bottomed by generations of nasty industrial waste.)

On my to-do list this week is to contact Keep Akron Beautiful and see if they can do anything about greening Summit Lake. With the next section of the towpath due to come right through the lake (and I assume the eastern shoreline is just as bad), now would be the time to start addressing clean-up issues.

Along with the trash cans, a dispenser for doggie waste bags could be a way to train the locals to pick up after their canine pals. At points along the shoreline, one can connect a dog barking from across the street to a sudden onslaught of dog poop underfoot. Sheer laziness. They don't want the poop in their own yards, so they let the dog go across the street to poop where others pass by every day. Grrr!

Much as I love sharing the lakeside with ducks, geese and blue herons, I have to be sure to wear a really old pair of shoes when walking by the lake. I wonder if the city has one of these:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Down the garden path

Why am I hearing "torture" non-stop all over the mediaverse? Anything except deal with real-world problems how to provide health care for all. And stop global warming while switching over the economy to one that is based upon sustainability, fair trade while discovering the least toxic ways of conducting our every day lives. While the politicians squabble, squack and balk at genuine reform, my thoughts retreat to the back yard and garden.

Here at the Village Green, today's intermittent showers made it a perfect day for mudding in the vegetable garden. Dunkler's Farms is the place to go for reasonably priced flats of tomato varieties. I put in Mr Stripey, Beefsteak, Roma, Yellow Pair, Heirloom and Pink tomato plants, along with basil, catnip, lettuces, and finger eggplants. Will be doing beans and peas and maybe some peppers. I hope to get the flowerbeds done by Memorial Day.

Hamlet has been amazed by the gardening activities, and is especially excited by water coming out of the garden hose. The vegetable garden is fenced in with a mulched path all around it -- which has turned into a Sheltie dog track. Hamlet zooms around it non-stop until he can zoom no more, then suddenly drops to the ground in a thicket of violets or pile of leaves. The path is also very useful for extended chase and fetch the ball sessions, as seen above.

Hard to believe our last puppy class is over this week. We've learned and continue to practice the basics. Hamlet is great at sit, down, stay, go to your spot, and shake a paw. Since he's in the throes of teething, dropping his toy has been difficult to master as his instinct is to chew chew chew on every object that goes into his mouth. But today we had a big breakthrough with fetch and drop it. It's fun to see the light go off in his eyes when he figures out what behavior makes the treat appear as I praise him lavishly.

We are also making strides with leash work and finally made it out the driveway and down the street to Summit Lake this morning where he was mesmerized by the waves lapping the shore, the geese and ducks and kids on bicycles. He's a cautious pup, but getting bolder every day.

After a long day of adventures, he's one pooped pup, but manages to keep an eye on me while I'm over here at the computer.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Akron Changes

Some recent changes in and around Akron:

We can now purchase yogurt and cottage cheese without becoming overwhelmed with guilt when confronting the empty container, as Akron's recycling program has been upgraded to collect and recycle all plastics labeled 1 through 7. I no longer have to bug The Mustard Seed about their number 5 plastic take-away containers. While I'm glad the city is boosting its recycling program, I still think we need to be more mindful of the amounts of plastic we consume and toss away on a daily basis. Look at all the plastic in your life that doesn't come with a convenient recycling number,such as plastic potato chip bags, plastic bubbles around electronic products, plastic windows in junk mail envelopes, plastic notebooks, lunchboxes, brushes and combs, your toothbrush and so on.

Along with the recycle upgrade, Akron officially launched its much anticipated Green Print (you can download it in its entirety here). The ABJ's Bob Downing summarizes the goals:

Suggestions include promoting green buildings; cutting the use of electricity; boosting water conservation; expanding the urban forest; increasing green jobs; encouraging neighborhood revitalization; better managing the city's fleet of vehicles; increasing parks and walkable areas; turning more sewage sludge into electricity; boosting recycling and bicycling; adding grass-covered roofs; limiting pollution in storm-water runoff; building rain barrels and boosting new urbanism and regional smart growth.

All of those proposed changes sound good to me. Too bad we aren't focused on making those changes realities. Instead, we must put up with a small band of opportunists who want to "Change Akron Now." They aren't talking about making positive substantial changes in Akron's environment. No, these are the folks who want us to kick out the mayor -- for reasons that range from petty to vindictive, as they can't seem to find anything illegal.

We all got to vote for the mayor less than two years ago at which time we could discuss and debate the mayor's policies and abrasive personality all we wanted. He had competition in the primary, won that race and then faced no opposition in the general election. Nothing I've read from the Change Akron Now folks has convinced me that I made a mistake in voting for Don Plusquellic in 2007.

The only good thing that can come out of this is that the political careers of the opportunists instigating the re-call drive come crashing to a halt when they fail to drive out Mayor Plusquellic. If anything, this recall election should wake up the electorate enough to consider who our future political leaders might be.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The darling buds of May

Spring rushes on so swiftly. Last week, I stepped out on the front porch, and a giant lilac bloom appeared in front of me. Surely the day before, the branches were only dotted with tiny green shoots amid just a hint of lavender buds. Out back, the ostrich ferns thrust higher every day, while the columbine comes on strong. The bleeding hearts approach full glory amid a sea of foamy sweet woodruff.

This weekend, I made my final Critical Links sojourn to Cincinnati. The drive down on Friday was under dramatic skies with scattered storms popping up along the way. There had been a tornado warning in Columbus an hour or so before I passed through. I left Akron late, and so didn't get into the hotel until almost midnight.

Cincinnati's trees were much further along than those in northern Ohio, and I spotted great big iris buds rising high from their beds. The rain vanished on Saturday, and we were drawn from our conferencing to walk outside to bask in the warmth of the day. By Sunday morning, light rain and clouds greeted the Cincinnati's Flying Pig Marathon runners. By the time I headed the smart car for home, the rain had vanished making the drive home most pleasant. I admit to applying more pressure than usual to the gas pedal, and zipped home in record time! First time away from young pup Hamlet. The sitter took good care of him and Ophelia cat while I was gone.

In case you forgot to celebrate it, Shakespeare's birthday was April 23rd. At the conference, we had an opportunity to win some theatre books by identifying quotes from plays old and new. I jumped on top of lines from Hamlet and Richard III. We all ended up with two new books each, along with a wealth of new knowledge and ideas. Little buds that burst into blossom in our classrooms. Can't wait to get up and go to school tomorrow!