Greetings again, Tumblrers and Hipsters who still use Instagram on your site. It’s gardening time!
This year marks the fourth year of gardening and a change of how things are done. The Square Foot Garden Method will be used as well as container gardening. It is a plan I’v had ever since I got started with gardening.
The benefits are that I will no longer use any of the soil in my back yard. An unsettling revelation about what’s been going on at the creek behind my house over the the past fifty years involving the Mallinckrodt during the Atomic Age (see FUSRAP), along with the remediation of the dirt near the creek for Uranium, Radium, Thorium, and other This-will-give-you-cancer-ium isotopes has me thinking about where the dirt came from in my own backyard that wasn’t the dirt that I put in.
Now before everyone gets into a panic, ionizing radiation is practically in everything on this planet. Electronics, including cellphones, produce non-ionizing (low energy) radiation, which is harmless. But the high energy (ionizing) is the stuff that can cause cell damage and cancer.
Interesting enough, plants are more used to radiation exposure. After the Chernobyl disaster, Sunflowers were planted by farmers and discovered that sunflowers could absorb the thorium fallout that contaminated the dirt. The stereotype of nuclear goo (which could really just be a rock emitting ionizing radiation) making mutant large plants are only half true. Some plants will grow larger from radiation exposure, but they won’t turn into bizarre mutant monsters.
Since Chernobyl, the evacuated ghost city of Pripyat, Ukraine has been overrun with plant overgrowth. The plants are now the rulers of the city in the former Soviet republic.
However, my problem isn’t even close to a Chernobyl problem. Not even by a long shot. But it still doesn’t feel right to plant the plants I eat in dirt with possible above average radiation levels. I’m not afraid to live where I live. And the majority of cancers that have occurred in the neighborhood were the result of the kids playing in the creek (which they shouldn’t have even without any warning that the water may have been tainted) or coincidental.
So there is really nothing wrong with living here, just don’t play in the creek and help Florissant Mayor Tom Schneider demand the clean up of the Westlake Landfill which could do much worse damage to North County than what’s in Coldwater Creek as it is where some of the materials from FUSRAP were transfered but could seep into the water table or get flooded out and potentially contaminate the water supply throughout North County.
OK, enough with this nuclear crap. (Go green! Buy a solar panel. I know. I’m working on it.) Time for the gardening part.
As always, this Tumblr site is used to upload pictures of my progress with the garden. A new smartphone this year will probably produce some better detailed pictures of my garden and the places I go to look at other people’s gardens.
The magnolias are in bloom as I speak and cheery blossoms and dogwood should soon follow. Expect pictures.
This year’s garden will concentrate more on herbs and flowers rather than long large plants like last year. Seeing how quickly all my zucchini and pumpkin were decimated by pest bugs last year really got me more motivated to do my gardening indoors, at least until late April or May.
On advice by a local gardening expert at my local TrueValue hardware store, indoor seeding should generally start around the March full moon, which has recently passed. I got a little eager and started some of my herbs indoors early. A couple week later I started most of my usual including peppers and tomatoes.
New plants have been added including peas, garlic, green tomatillo, spinach, lettuce, and broccoli of two types regular and romanesco. The latter will look very awesome to take photos of as it produces natural fractal patterns and have an interesting taste to them supposedly.
I’m hoping to share extra seeds with the neighbors if they are interested.
That seems to be everything for today. Stay tuned for more awesome garden photos.
OK. Del Taco isn’t exactly good. But if you’re not a fan of Mexican food (and if you do, you are missing out on a lot of good food), they at least have alternatives like hamburgers.
If word was going around that the Del Taco in your neighborhood was being torn down, there might not be a whole lot of people who would say that it would be sorely missed…unless it looked like this..
The building that is currently a Del Taco at 194 South Grand Boulevard is on the U.S. List of Historic Places, and with in two blocks of Chouteau Ave/Missouri Route 100, which used to be part of old Route 66. So you would think that its current tenant would be a Ted Drewes Frozen Custard appealing to the student body at St. Louis University just up the street, right?
Sadily, the answer is no.
A public opinion poll conducted by one of the local TV station showed overwhelmingly support of keeping the oddly shaped building that was once a Phillip 66 (which has moved across the street).
St. Louis University has worked tirelessly with the City of St. Louis to revamp the Midtown neighborhood, which still suffers from crime, homeless people, and the occasional visit to Chaifitz Arena by Tyler Perry or worse Glenn Beck.
Right now, the biggest problem that Midtown Del Taco has is bring in customers due to the reconstruction of the Grand Boulevard Viaduct. Normally, Metrolink would stop at Grand where passengers would pick up the busiest Metro bus route in the entire system where the average wait time for the next #70 Grand bus is 10 minutes and the bus is generally standing room only throughout the day. But a construction delay has kept the Grand Station closed and bad alternative planning had made for having folks run a 150 yard dash to get to the temporary bus terminal at Theresa Avenue complete with a detour across the poorly updated Compton Avenue Viaduct. (See "Highway 40 Traffic Alternatives: Market Street Detours" posted on May 16 at this blog.)
Well, I guess the folks at either the construction company or Metro, or the rail road companies, or the folks who have businesses south of the railroads near the other part of Theresa, or passenger who were riding standing up on the still bumpy Compton Viaduct, had Metro change it’s mind about dropping folks off at a construction site then run like hell when they needed to get to St. Louis University Hospital or Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital near Vista and Park Avenues.
But I haven’t explained why saving a kitschy looking restaurant is important.
The truth is it is part of who we are. It is a living relic of the days when college kids would stuff themselves in phone booths and see Vincent Price perform at the Fox Theater. (I assume he still did that during the 1950s or 1960s. It’s where Highway 40 used to be Forest Park Avenue and Route 66 was just down the road. And Alderwoman Marlene Davis could care less..
Mrs. Davis represents the city’s 19th Ward and wants to replace the UFO-looking building with retail shopping centers in a part of town where outside of the land that touches St. Louis University, retail outlets quickly devolve into nail salons, beauty supply stores, and liquor stores. Even the gas station across from this Del Taco has enough alcohol to fullfill the needs of Engineering Majors working on an alternative fuel project. (If not at SLU, then Washington University or Harris-Stowe State University).
Of course Mrs. Davis hasn’t told anyone what retailers would move in. I highly do not see a Wal-mart in the near future, thankfully, but the plans are still classified between her and the developer who wants posession of the land.
However, a growing number of people want to save this building. And if you are interested in saving this unique building, check out the Save Del Taco page on Facebook.
There was a pretty bad traffic accident this morning on I-64 here in St. Louis, or as we still call it Highway 40. Highway 40 is the main road that cuts right down the center of St. Louis. Much of the Interstate had undergone some major construction, but most people would agree that the changes where aesthetic.
So what alternatives do you have when Hwy 40 is jammed?
Now is a good time to ask that since one of the busies North-to-South roads in St. Louis, Grand Boulevard, is closed south of Forest Park Avenue and north of Chouteau Avenue (Missouri Highway 100) to replace the aging Grand Boulevard Viaduct. As a mass transit commuter, this construction project has caused some inconvenience to Metrolink commutors where for a short while the Grand Station stop was closed, but is now reopenned. The only catch is commuters who catch the city’s most frequented Metrobus, the #70 Grand must make a mad dash along Scott Avenue to get to the bus at Theresa Avenue.
Some transit commutors who just need to get to Chouteau or have choses to forgo the wait for the bus and hoof it across the railroad tracks at Theresa. While it is likely dangerous, and would likely be frowned upon by any security officer that would witness anyone doing it, it sure beats waiting 10 to 20 minutes for the next set of buses to show up, and from experience of just needing to make a trip down to Vista St. to the St. Louis University Medical Center, the amount of time saved by just cutting through the rail yard (remember to always look both way for trains at each set of tracks!) through the other Theresa Street on the other side of the tracks, then walking to Chouteau then down Grand, was just about equal to the amount of time it took for the bus to navigate back up Theresa, to Spruce, to Compton, over the Compton Viaduct (which for a bridge that looked like renovation was being done to it this winter still has plenty of crumbling concrete and for that matter doesn’t look at all renovated), down Chouteau, then back on to Grand.
As you can see by this explaination of the reroute made by this major construction project, which also affects Highway 40 commuters as it is where Forest Park Avenue ends and Market Street begins, Highway 40 is a complex mess, but it’s our mess.
So what happens when the mess leads to traffic accidents that shut down the highway? You must find an alternative route on a road with very few alternatives.
Let’s begin with this scenario which occured this morning. A traffic accident on Westbound Highway 40 near Market (just east of Grand) shut down all but one lane on the interstate which until you get out to the county, has a maximum of about four lanes. Midtown St. Louis is home to several universities where most of the students, despite their college education, will gladly walk into traffic. The two major schools in that part of the city are St. Louis University and Harris-Stowe State University. So before you start bolting down Lindell Boulevard with the alternatives that I suggest, be aware of your surroundings and mindful of the idiot savants!
Let’s start at the Poplar Street Bridge, where Interstates 70 and 55 share the road. Your intuition tells you to drive through Downtown St. Louis. You could do that, but keep in mind you want to get back onto Highway 40 eventually. If you go north on to I-70, you will likely need to take Memorial Drive. Because the roads here a generally two lanes, are often one way, and may be congested with pedestrian traffic from a St. Louis Cardinals or St. Louis Blues game, you only have two alternatives: Market Street or Pine Street.
Until you get past Tucker Boulevard, most of these streets will be one way. After Tucker, Olive Street becomes a two way street like Market. If you prefer, you can take Pine to Tucker to Olive or you can just stay on Pine until you reach Jefferson Avenue. Either way, if Pine is your detour, you will need to get onto Olive once you reach Jefferson.
Because our scenario uses an accident on Highway 40 near the Market Street Exit, it would only make sense for anyone who chooses Market as a detour to also consider taking Market to Jefferson to Olive. Alternatively, you could go south on Jefferson to Chouteau. I probably should have mentioned going south onto Chouteau as an option if you chose to go south on 4th Street, Broadway, 8th Street, Tucker, 14th Street, or 18th Street, but not Interstate 55 where there is no Exit onto Chouteau because of the MacArthur Railroad Bridge. If you haven’t figured it out by now, 99% of all our problems with Highway 40 involve the railroad that runs along side it as far west as Vandeventer, of which there is no exit onto Vandeventer on Westbound 40 because of part of an old railroad that used to be part of the St. Louis Streetcar system we used to have nearly a century ago. The railroads are also the reason why we don’t have any exits on Hwy 40 West that go South, why the Metrolink doesn’t serve anyone south of Grand, except where the Blue line is made of these large viaducts that traverse the railroad, why we haven’t be able to build a North-South Metrolink line to replace the often Standing Room Only #70 Grand, and about a doze other things we can’t do because the company in charge of the railroad in that section doesn’t want to upgrade their system to the 21st Century where people want to find alternatives to driving or going to the Airport.
An aside for just a second, if you have time, write to Union Pacific and Amtrak and demand to open up the section of railroad between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and St. Louis that is currently being used for Frieght Traffic only that could be used to allow passenger service to Rolla, Lake of the Ozarks, Springfield, and Joplin instead of this nonsense where we only get to use on railroad that goes to Kansas City. Likewise, do the same with Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) to open traffic along an old route that was used as fair back as 150 years that made stops in Ferguson, St. Charles, O’Fallon, Wentzville, Warrenton, and Columbia. It too has been closed off for use for Frieght Only when it has the potential to be used for Passenger Service but the Railroad Conglomorates are not open to expanding Amtrak.
Back to the driving alternatives. Aside from the Poplar Street Bridge/I-70/Memorial Drive Exit, there is also the Clark Avenue/9th Street Exit (Exit 40B) and the Downtown Market Street Exit (Exit 39A). I would include the Garrison Avenue/Market Street Exit (Exit 38B), but let’s assume that this is where the accident is or that traffic has bottlenecked bad enough that there is no way you can use this exit. And from witnessing the traffic this morning, traffic on Highway 40 backs up very quickly. The more it back up, the fewer options you do have.
Keep in mind, you can not get onto Jefferson Avenue on Westbound 40 because the dingbat civil engineers decided to let a natural gas pipeline run along the east side of the overpass and also had though creating an exit ramp from Pine Street to highway 40 with an extra large curve such that there was no way to create a ramp that could go over it to go straight onto Jefferson. Thus, instead of making an easy and viable alternative for whenever traffic when to hell in a handbasket, previous city administrations chose beauty over functionality, to which there is nothing beautiful or functional about these exits!
This is significant considering that Exit 39A from Highway 40 Westbound terminates at Market, where as the rest of this going back on 40 West or East or getting off at 40 East does not exit here. The result is this big, ugly open gorge that at the time that I am writing this still has plenty of old ugly crumbling concrete.
Because of this construction snafu, if Exit 39A is a viable option to avoid a Hwy 40 traffic jam, you will want to take Westbound 40 to Exit 39A to Market, then turn left going west on Market until you reach Jefferson. From there, take Jefferson either South to Chouteau or North to Olive.
Exit 40B is yet another alternative where the ramps were clearly not build for either functionality nor aesthetics. More than likely, the constructors of the Second Busch Stadium (the one before the current one that exists today) didn’t want this ramp to be a straight path to 11th Street but wanted to chose 9th Street for fans to get off and find parking at the parking garage across from the corner where this exit gets off. But like its on-ramp counterpart near 14th and Clark, cutting across diagonally across a wide piece of land, even with the road in that area being a double-decker design to conserve space does not make for good road construction. I’m assuming that that’s what the construction workers under the Highway 40 structure have been working to correct the past year or so along with earthquake retrofitting and crash-proofing the highway. Never the less, this path can be used for a detour via 9th Street to get on to Market or Pine. Clark could be used as an option where either 8th Street (Which later becomes 7th Street south of Cerre Street) or Tucker can take you to Chouteau.
So now that you have detoured the Highway 40 Accident at Market, and followed the instructions to either be on Olive or Chouteau somewhere west of Jefferson, where do you go from here?
First, let’s start with the southern detour on Chouteau. After Vandeventer, Chouteau will start to head southwest and right about after Sarah Street, the Highway 100 signs are handed off to Manchester Avenue. You could stay on Manchester and get back on to Highway 40 by going North onto Kingshighway at Manchester then taking Kingshighway back to 40, or you can turn North on to Vandeventer, get in the left lane, and take the on ramp back to 40 which is near Papin Street.
Second, the northern detour on Olive past Jefferson. Though it might not be as easy to spot as the first alternative, you will need to watch out for a big fork in the road somewhere near the 3400 block. If you see it stay on the straight path. The path on the right is now Olive and you should be on Lindell. If you are on Lindell, you will likely see St. Xavier Church across the street and on your left when you reach Grand. Keep in mind that Grand is current closed south of Forest Park Avenue, but the ramp onto 40 North of Grand should be open. If not, you can go south on Grand then turn right and go west onto Forest Park Avenue and eventually drive down to Kingshighway or Vandeventer and get back on to 40 either at Kingshighway or south of 40 on Vandeventer at the Papin Street ramp. Or you can just stay on Lindell, drive through Midtown and the Central West End until you reach Forest Park where you can just turn south onto Kingshighway and get on 40. The Lindell route ain’t half bad and is quite scenic. You’ll get to pass by the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica near Newstead Avenue.
I’ll probably write about other traffic alternatives in the future. Until then, take your time. There is more to life than getting to work.