Tuesday, August 28, 2012
  It's an Essex Lion!

I finally gave in to modernity, bought me one of those new-fangled digital cameras.

And as soon as I tried it out with a snapshot through the front door, I caught a terrible monstrous creature, stalking my neighborhood!



It's an Essex Lion! Prowling around the street, knocking down fence posts, devouring trees and rocks!

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Just a few hours later, the horrifying Essex Lion was gone, presumably returned to his normal habits of stalking squirrels and birds.

But the same front-door view is now filled with a different kind of orange monster:


The city has started building a sidewalk on the opposite side of this block. It's a needed improvement: the nearby school has a crosswalk that spills directly onto that side of the block, and the kids have worn a 'deer trail' through the grass. A real paved walk would be easier for the neighbors to shovel in winter, and less ambiguous for the kids and parents.

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Two days later: They're just about done. The process was more distracting than I thought it would be. Constant rumbling of trucks, diesel fumes, banging and tamping and scraping, all within 50 feet of my front door. No chance to do any mental work. Still, it's always interesting to watch people who really know what they're doing. They don't bother to build complete forms; they just dig a precise trench and use a single line of 2x4s to hold the top edge, then shape driveways and curbs by hand.

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Three days later (Friday morning): All done. The contractor left ropes to block it off while the concrete dries and cures.... but the ropes didn't last. One neighbor got tired of parking his car elsewhere, pulled down the rope in front of his house, and drove into his garage. I can't blame him; the contractors had clearly treated him with contempt and disregard. Then some kids came along and couldn't resist trying out the new walk. Whoops, there goes the rest of the rope.

Good to see small acts of rebellion.

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Update 9/4: First day of school today. An unexpected difference: Typically about a dozen cars park in this block on the first morning, as some parents feel the need to "see off" their kids. Today, one or two cars. Does the sidewalk give the parents more confidence that their kids can walk safely? Or is this just a random data point? I'll never know, but the difference from a well-established pattern is dramatic. Anything that causes more walking and less driving is GOOD!

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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