Half Full or Half Empty?

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Yesterday I had planned to ride a couple hours before the club ride and then go out again for a couple hours. But, it didn’t work out.

I have some vacant land in Central Topeka. It’s a long story about how I ended up owning it sight unseen, but it has been a pain in the ass for the past decade. It is 13 fenced acres. People seem to want to dump their trash on it for some unknown reason to me. Laziness is the only explanation I can come up with. And $$$$. When I got the land, it had two train cars and a couple semi trailer trucks on it. Bill and I spent the better part of two weeks cutting the railroad cars up with a cutting torch to take them to metal recycling. I have been trying to get someone else to come by and get the semis. I don’t have that problem anymore.

Someone went over and cut the cable at the entrance and proceeded to dump 100 or so tires, plus a few old TVs and misc. other items. Plus, they disassembled and stole the semis trailer trucks. I don’t have such a problem with the trucks. I was hoping, at best, to split the money for the recycling, but probably would have just let them go for the removal. But, the tires and trash bummed me out. When I got the land, there were nearly 2000 tires dumped there. I recycled them for playground usage, but it took a ton of work. I have no desire to get involved in that again.

So, I went over and got another cable and lock before the ride, not that I think it is going to do any good. Someone that has the ability to remove semi trucks from property, aren’t going to have any problems with a 5/16″ cable.

Anyway, it was 4 before I got out riding. And I was in a fairly sour mood. It is amazing how much different you look at things in that kind of mindset. I normally say I’m a fairly optimistic person. I think I have a pretty open, balanced perspective on things. But, yesterday, I seemed to only see the bad. That didn’t help my mindset, obviously.

I rode out 2nd St., which is by the river, heading out East. I took the bike path through Central Topeka to get there. It goes through some pretty questionable neighborhoods. I like to ride around checking neighborhoods out. But not yesterday. All I could see was the trash, dead cars, and other stuff that should be somewhere else. I understand how it gets to where it is, but it seems like more of it is around than ever before.

There was a time when being poor wasn’t necessarily having to live in filth. People took pride in the surroundings even though they were lacking in financial means. That is not the case now. I don’t know why it changed. But it did. I remember my neighbor telling me about going to Brazil to do some volunteer work and he went and had a meal in one of the poor worker’s home. He said the floor was dirt, but the place was immaculate. We could use a little of that pride. I know that isn’t the norm in Brazil, I’ve seen the squalor throughout San Paulo. But, there are small enclaves of people that still have pride.

Anyway, I was definitely not looking through rose colored lenses. All I saw was bad. Even a racoon, scurrying across the street, seemed depressing. I turned around when a bridge was closed and came home early, then skipped the evening ride. Riding didn’t seem too important anymore.

Here are some pictures during my morbid mood –

Stuff dumped on my land. Maybe a game camera might help?

I saw these cars all pull in and two guys get out and start pummeling each other. I watch for a few minutes before two of their friends pulled them apart.

Blow up of above photo.

This guy is sleeping under the bridge on the bike path most days.

It really bothered me that his wallet, hooked to his pants by a chain, was laying behind him on the ground.

I couldn’t shake it even later in the evening. These places are popping up all over the country. They should be made illegal. It is pretty much legal robbery, but horrible, taking advantage of people when they are down and out.

25 thoughts on “Half Full or Half Empty?

  1. Jeff M

    I know what you mean Steve. I was riding home from work and was admiring how beautiful the sunset was and stopped to take a picture. I got ready to take the pic and I look over to see a homeless woman grabbing a half eaten something or other out of the trash can. Needless to say, I didn’t feel like taking the picture anymore. I rode away with a pit in my stomach.

  2. Wildcat

    Laziness for sure. We all have it, just depends to what degree. My wife for instance – gets out a bowl for cereal, turns around, and walks to the table. HOW HARD IS IT TO CLOSE THE CABINET?? I feel like if I never closed the cabinets eventually all of them would just stay wide open. She calls it efficiency. If that’s the case; how about we all go around nude so we are never required to do laundry again.


    Anyway, my brother while attending a film institute did a documentary on homeless. The vast majority of them enjoy being homeless. All of the various reasons eventually point to not wanting any responsibility at all – and laziness.

  3. Cale

    If you are in the market for a trail cam take a look at these guys Trailcampro.
    Based right here in Springfield, MO and most of the guys that work there are cyclists, which is how I know of the company. The customer support is great, just let them know what you plan on doing with the camera and they can point you in the right direction.

  4. Doug P

    I read somewhere that payday loan places charge higher interest than the Mob. And their computers can track you better than Vinnie.

  5. E S

    Regarding “pride” in the lower income areas, I noticed a huge difference when I moved to Wisconsin from Missouri. It seems that there is a much higher percentage of homes and yards that are well kept in the lower income areas, trailer parks and small towns. I felt in Missouri I was always seeing more trash and run down residences.

  6. Wildcat

    No need for cameras. Just put signs on the fence every so many yards stating that “This property is under video surveillance”.

  7. charlie

    I am thinkin old Bob Dylan put it best years back……”the times they are a-changin.”

  8. Ben

    It is sad. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up. We lived in a 900 sq ft home with 4 people at one time, but our home, yard and neighborhood for that matter were always in good shape.

    Sadly, here in KC it seems that you have to spend $400k on a new home to be able to have confidence that your neighbors will do their part. That just doesn’t seem fair to those who can’t afford that type of home but are responsible enough to value it and maintain it.

  9. Blake Barrilleaus

    Bummer for sure. But that white “baby window” was looking pretty sano. At least from that distance.

  10. H Luce

    A lot of the homeless aren’t “lazy”, they’re the mentally ill who got kicked out of the state hospitals and whose communities were supposed to take care of them. It never happened. The younger ones are the people who can’t cope with the demands of living in society, quite a few of whom don’t survive their 20s. Most of the “traveller kids” fall into this category. The society we have now is a real meatgrinder, it chews people up and spits them out, and what you see is the result. If they’re lucky enough to have jobs, a lot of these people have two or three jobs, and so there’s not a lot of energy left over for cleaning up their property. Still, if you don’t like it, you can always call Codes Enforcement and complain, and the zealous guardians of Topeka neighborhoods will get right on it…

    Take the tires and build an Earthship house, there’s a couple around Lawrence: http://earthship.com/live-free-and-comfortable-in-any-climate-in-an-earthship.html – but you’ve already recycled them… Seriously, unless you intend to do something with the land, you should tink of selling it. If this were Lawrence, you could make a community garden out of it, maybe get the people in the neighborhood involved in making it something they could have a part in and make their lives better – and maybe put a BMX or singletrack trail in, too. But this isn’t Lawrence, this is Topeka. Just leaving it chained up is a recipe for further trouble.

  11. Skippy

    Seen some of these ” Loan Clubs ” offering cash with 1734%p.a. displayed in their advert !
    Some desperate people are unable to do Maths and accept this as normal !

  12. Barry

    Steve, I was watching this interview and it speaks directly to the appearance of all those payday loan shops. pertinent part starts at about 26 minutes.

    the speaker is the lady who called BS on Citibank and also the upcoming tsunami in the municipal bond market (see Stockton, CA for a taster).

  13. Joseph

    Wildcat, I don’t think your brother did much research for his homework assignment. As noted by H Luce, the vast majority of homeless are mentally ill. Labeling them as lazy and deserving of their fate is ignorant at best. Humility goes a long way…

  14. Robert Bleck

    I saw a t shirt the other day with an illustrated diagram. It said ” half air, half water, technically the glass is always full”.
    Seriously now Steve, the tough thing about acquiring a piece of land known to be a dumping ground is that many never understand it to be anything else. The other thing is that a regular dump charges a lot to take your junk. Tires are especially difficult as they are somewhat hazardous. Once they catch on fire they can burn for months. Recycling centers are great in that they create a market for junk. Unfortunately markets can’t survive in lightly populated areas. Therefore, slobs take the cheapest and easiest route.

  15. double d

    Handouts haven’t helped either. People tend to not take pride in what is not theirs.

  16. John

    Steve….cool post. I noticed the VW also. How messed up is it that fighting is a way to deal with boredom or whatever else sparked the fight.

    Being poor and poverty are totally different. Spent some time in Haiti where no one has money. Everyone is poor there, but I think poverty is an emotional and spiritual thing. Poverty is a total loss of dignity….hence, not caring about anything or anyone.

    It’s weird how our brokeness as humans can smack you in the face sometimes. We could all probably use a little more of it.

  17. Wildcat

    Yeah, some of the homeless were mentally ill. But, to different degrees. Although, it doesen’t help that they spend every spare cent on Four Loko’s and Icehouse tallboys and then use the crushed cans as pillows as they sleep under a bridge during the middle of the day (see above photo). Prob the reason his wallet is just laying there. Doesn’t matter because there is nothing in it. On the other hand, I have a brother-in-law that is mentally ill. But, he is a very motivated positive individual, and works very hard every day to get to Walmart, work, and pay taxes.

  18. mark

    I think I agree with Shaun. Auction off all of these vacant lots, houses, etc and move. San Diego is nice this time of year, or anytime of the year for that matter. You know enough people down there, and you could ride/race every weekend year around without having to drive 10 hrs.

  19. Joe

    While out on a ride, I once watch a couple driving a pickup, pass the City landfill (Holiday Drive, KC), drive a couple miles, then unload a pile of trash, mattress, and box spring into a vacant piece of land. It makes me sick to my stomach. These people have no respect for themselves or their community.

  20. Jake

    First, don’t leave Topeka – you make a difference. Not excusing the trash, it is inexcusable, but people without hope, or who perceive they are without hope often lack pride. The result is visible, and I am afraid it is a sign of our community’s growing lack of hope.

  21. Dallas

    I use to think payday loan stores took advantage of people also. I have a friend who owns 50+ of these stores and he let me know that the payday loan stores are no worse than what banks do. I just want to give an example. I will use Advance America’s payday loan fees and bank of Americas non sufficient funds fees for your state of Kansas.

    To borrow 250 dollars from the payday loan store it will cost you 37.50, no more no less.

    If you were to overdraw you account by a single penny BofA would charge you 35.00.
    and they can charge that for up to 4 transactions that you overdraw your account in a single day.

    People knowingly go to payday loans because they have to have the money and its cheaper than getting nsf fees from a bank. Otherwise these places wouldn’t be in business.

    I live in Arkansas were payday loans stores are non existent because even though the payday loans say they are charging a fee the courts/banks/political system say no that’s an interest rate. Since interest rates are capped at some percentage the payday loan stores cannot operate and make money. In reality its no different that a NSF fee from a bank.

    Both systems suck but I think banks should get just as bad as a rap as the payday loans or at least be made to operate under the same rules.


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