Blog posts tagged "car.culture"

Happy New Year!

January 10th, 2007

(ed: written on Jan. 1, so some days are a bit off)

Happy New Year’s. Blogs on a new server (ed: that was optimistic of me, wasn’t it?), running on a new platform (just WordPress, nothing exotic), and I’m thinking about New Year’s resolutions.


I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but I joined a gym yesterday, and they had a gimmick where if you told them your New Year’s resolutions you got nearly 90% off. Thinking about what you tell a gym your New Year’s resolution is so that they can plaster the stair way with them (“Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men”, “Look better naked”?) got me thinking what my resolutions actually are for this year.

no 30

  • Joined the gym as I’ll be turning 30 this year, and I’d like to be at my “healthy weight” (210) when I do. Given that I haven’t been that weight since high school (while I was living in Australia, playing basketball everyday, and fasting), and that I wrestled in the 190+ weight class in junior high, and that I’m as heavy now as when I left Palm (full-time work is bad for my health) it will be something of a challenge.

  • Going to learn to drive. Again seems like learning to drive by 30 is a good goal, and its gating other projects.

  • The rise of professional blogging has really changed the medium, and I think Laughing Meme got pushed by the current into becoming more of a topical blog on web technology (and not a very good one), and less a personal blog. More personal blogging in 2007, or just less blogging.

  • One personal, secret resolution. More on that later if it works out.

Maybe I don’t make resolutions because they sound trite, and you want to say something about getting back involved in political work, or ending hunger, that kind of thing, all of which are too complicated, tangled, and personal to fit such a pat format.

Happy New Year’s all! (ed: now much belated)

Photo by Northerngreenpixie

World Metros

September 5th, 2006

A fan of public transit? I am. Logos from the various public transit systems around the world that I’ve ridden.

Got at!

Try to build you’re own badge without using the key. I got about a 2/3 of mine.

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Traffic, how do people do it?

June 8th, 2006

I have never in my entire life cared about traffic. I don’t drive, I don’t commute, my long commute in Seattle only took 20 minutes to walk because the line at Lighthouse Roasters was so long.

Now I find myself painfully aware of the ins and outs, and more strangely the cardiovascular health of the Bay Areas freeway systems. Major clogs and blockages have serious impacts on my plans.

So um, how do people track this stuff? Presumably there is some sort feed, or maybe SMS notification I sign up for customized to roads I care about?

I hear we map traffic here at CorporateHQ, which I guess would be fine if traffic fascinated me and I wanted to monitor it all day, but really I don’t have the attention for that, and I was thinking about something a little bit more interrupt driven, and targeted.

Anyone got a suggestion?

update: People did, including * move * listen to the radio * “dialing 511 on your mobile phone can help. It has a Tellme (or at least, Tellme-esque) voice interface that’s kinda annoying and hit/miss, but you can at least tell it a major highway by name and it will tell you about any delays right now on that highway.” * Y! traffic rss | grep ‘101|280’ | SMS

thanks everybody!

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Peak Oil Predicted Iraq Occupation

May 30th, 2004

This post is for everyone who was part of the “peak oil” conversation at CATS last weekend.

A page from 1997 predicting the year of occupation of Iraq based on peak oil calculations. (via random($foo))


… After the Cold War was over, low oil prices made it difficult for the Saudis — and oilman President George Bush’s [Sr.] friends — to make ends meet because OPEC members were cheating on quotas.

The obvious solution to OPEC cheating was to sequester an entire country: Iraq. In order for our scheme to work, Saddam would have to remain in power and the UN would have to embargo his oil. That’s exactly what we did.

We only need to keep Saddam in power for a few years — till the rest of the world’s oil production “peaks” … It seems reasonable to assume that global production will soon be unable to keep up with surging worldwide demand, and that global oil production must peak by the year 2005.


Once global oil peaks, and we NEED to start pumping Saddam’s oil, I expect Americans to invade and OCCUPY Iraq … Obviously, once oil production peaks in a couple of years, the public will throw their total support behind an invasion of Iraq. There is simply no other way we can guarantee access to the oil patch.

We seem to have slightly accelerated the time line, but it was probably too much to imagine we’d have another oil baron back in the White House so soon.

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On Going Home

December 20th, 2002

Being without a car in this culture is always a strange expirence, sometimes its frustrating, a few times its surreally sublime. My recent voyage home for the holidays started Monday, 10:30am, Dec 16th and ended Wednesday, 11am, Dec 18th.

  1. Walk out Jasmine’s door, carrying Tom Bihn shoulder bag for laptop, and large reg Gregory backpack for everything else.
  2. Walk 4 blocks to Orange line.
  3. Take Orange line to Ruggles stop.
  4. Stop have lunch with Jasmine.
  5. Catch communter train from Ruggles to Providence.
  6. Walk 4 blocks to Kennedy Plaza.
  7. Catch 99 RIPTA bus to 43 Doyle (the new house) to meet the new landlords.
  8. Catch it back.
  9. Kill 2 hours at AS220.
  10. Catch 69 bus back to Kennedy Plaza.
  11. Take Greyhound to Port Authority.
  12. Pray feverently that the New York transit workers will not go on strike.
  13. Take the 7 out to Queens for the night.
  14. Take the 7 back to Port Authority.
  15. Take the A to Howard Beach.
  16. Catch the shuttle bus from Howard Beach to JFK.
  17. Fly to Oakland International.
  18. Wait for AirBART to start running (6:05AM)
  19. Take AirBART to BART Colesium.
  20. Take BART to Embarcadero stop
  21. Transer to N-Judah, and take to Caltrains depot.
  22. Take Caltrains to San Jose Diridon.
  23. Transfer to Amtrak bus, and take to downtown Santa Cruz.
  24. Call home, and plaintively asked to be picked up in a car.

Read: Magician: Apprentice, Magician: Master, Talking God, and Driving Mr. Albert.


September 5th, 2002

In our modern, mediated, sterile, controlled life there is little room for magic, the surreal, fantasy. Which is why I’ve alway appreciated flying out of Boston’s Logan International. Logan’s tight affinity with the T is the best airport/subway integration I’ve expirenced in the US. You hop on the Blue Line, and get off at Airport stop, simple. But it goes beyond that. As you follow the twisting corridors of State, or the narrow stairways of Government Center, like Alice, down the rabbit hole, you follow the signs that say “To WONDERLAND ->”.

If you are flying away to remote tropical island (say Vieques for a long weekend with your significant other) this seems a poetically appropiate grace note in a world much lacking in grace. If, on the other hand, you are flying to Detroit, at least its good for a chuckle. Either way, it lifts the flagging spirits, weighed down under a heavy load. (usually my Gregory pack)

Speaking of Detroit

By the way, if you are flying to Detroit, say as a 50 minute layover on your way to San Francisco, do yourself a favor and get off the airplace and explore this little fairytale airport. The very image of a major modern airport, white steel girders, clean, airy, giant windows. The first unusal thing I noticed was the Tomorrowland inspired red monorail that glides along quitely above the concourse. Confused about how to board, I walked to the center of the terminanl where I found a reflecting pool.

The Living Water

Raised several feet into the air, upon a circular ~30ft diameter black marble pedestal, a thin layer of water rippled across its surface refracting subtely among the stainless steel divots scattered randomly acrss the surface like stones in a zen garden. As I contemplated its quiet nature, the pool transformed into a fountain, one of those ultra-modern ones, perflectly regular strands of waters arced from the divots into a forthing center. I tried to stifle my disappointment, and appreciate this new form, but the fountain transformed again on me, the water now sputtered out in quick bursts, creating short cylinders of water that arc through the air in a school of confusion, like a school of drunk flying fish, and seem to slip beneath the water in the frothy center. Its hard to explain how these water elementals lifted my spirits, their joie de vivre was so obvious for their short live span, and who knows what happy world they disappear to down that center well.

The spigots again on their steady streams, creating solid bridges of water, but shut off again as quickly as they turned on, creating the feel that the water has been snatched by something in that dark center (which is now, in my mind, fully equipped with an active underworld) and is being reeled in quickly, the end deattached for its source whips through the air. The quiet reflecting pool repears.

Tomorrowland, and the People Mover

Walking on, happy from my encouter with the fountain (I adore fountains), I found: edible Chicago style pizza, the far end of the terminal, and an escalator up to the monorail. At the top of the escalator I find a platform equipped with digital readout telling me when a train will arrive ( 0:48 minutes) and a map that shows me where in the system each train is.

The train glides smoothly in the station, lining up just so with the double class doors that separate the passenger from the tracks. No danger here of being pushed from the a busy subway platform where you meet ignominious death by rats, rat poison, the third rail, or an oncoming train. The doors open, a voice annouces our desitination, and we’re off. The whole system is pleasingly automated, the acceleration, deceleration, opening and clossing of the doors, all have that graceful precision you only get from a computer. The tracks widen to 2 lanes just long enough to allow for the trains to perform a timed dance of gliding past each other as they move in opposite directions, before continueing their monorail existence.

Illusions and Disillusions and Henry Ford

I ride the train back and forth a few times, back and forth between its three stops, feeling like the kid who spent hours riding up and down the day JC Penny’s opened with Santa Cruz’s first escalator. I’m torn though. Because while part of me loves this slick futuristic monorail, part of me resents that its just a toy. The train only has 3 stops, and uses a simple cable and pulley system for its locomotion. Far from being the basis of a modern transit system, its more like the kiddie rides at the fair, you know the ones you have to be under 48 inches to ride.

Then it hits me, how odd this paen to public transportation is in airport that also includes the “Heny Ford Musuem Shop”. We are in Detroit! Suddely I look around expecting to see little personal golf carts for each person, traffic lights, traffic jams, and smog. The bitter irony of a cable powered people mover in the home town of the very industry that spent millions of dollars killing off public transportation including turning the only real cable powered train system (SanFran’s cable cars) into a tourist trap. The shiny red space age train is just a gloss PR puff piece by the car industry, cute but empty and calculated.

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