Category Archives: earth

13 Conversations / Arboretum

I checked out 13 Conversations About One Thing last night at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. The film was pretty good. I’d recommend it. I’d also recommend the Coolidge Corner Theatre to anyone. It’s one of the last remaining classic, independant movie houses in the US.
Today I went down to the Arnold Arboretum after work. It’s a museaum of trees, each with a little plaque explaining its name and origin. From the pictures on their website, it looks like Autumn would be a nice time to go, but it was nice to see the trees at their most lush.

Neighborhoods

Still spreading the ‘haps of Park Drive… check out my mattress picture on streetmattress.com. Now that baseball season is in full swing (I think it’s in full swing, but I wouldn’t really know), the streets in the Fenway tend to be crowded with fans. Yesterday I saw someone peeing in our front yard. It was kind of wierd because I just happened to glance out the window, and he happened to glance in the window. Neither of us was happy to see the other. Still, I’d rather people pee in the front yard than leave trash in it – there’s too much litter on my street.
I’ve had a couple chances this week to explore Jamaica Plain a little bit. I must say, it’s a beautiful neighborhood. There are lots of old victorian houses, most of which are in excellent condition. The population is ethnically diverse, and there seems to be a real sense of community. On of the clinical instructors in my “unit” at work, Art Johnson, gave a tour on Wednesday of the area and provided a lot of insight into city planning and JP history. He even pointed out a single family house that was built to conform with local zoning regulations, but that should have been a muti-unit building since it was so close to the subway (and was on a street full of muti-unit buildings). Just the sort of thing my anti-sprawl book pointed out as a major planning problem.

Sprawl Introduction

Today I finished reading Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream today. I’ve been reading this book for ages because, well, law school gets in the way of things.
For some reason, sprawl is one of the issues that I am most passionate about. I really think our country is needlessly headed in the wrong direction. Most people I’ve talked to don’t like huge suburban subdivisions, shopping malls, traffic, etc., but no one seems to think they can solve the problem. (I don’t think too many people really think of it as a “problem”.) However, the problem (as I’ve learned from this book) is much larger than one would think. On the surface there are arguments about pollution and style, but lurking below are far greater problems. The loss of community, segregation of socio-economic classes, and traffic (stress, loss of time, pollution, etc.) are all worsening as a result of sprawl.
What can be done? I support local business as much as possible. I support the T. (Boston’s mass transit – MBTA.) And I don’t ever plan to live in a sprawling suburb that has not made an affirmative design effort to create a community. For example, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to demand that local governments require high density, mixed use zoning, transit and pedestrian friendly layouts, and at least some subsidized housing. If it were my world I would probably tax drivers for the use of the roads, let them fight their own oil wars, and hold them responsible for the 43,200 yearly automotive related deaths. I’ll take it slow though.

Ben Folds and the Southeast

Just got back from an amazing Ben Folds show. May Ben Folds live forever.
About two years ago I was getting interested in the south-eastern U.S. I read Noodling for Catfish and Eric Martin’s Luck (I tend not to read fiction, but Eric was a coworker of mine so I picked up a copy – very good stuff). I also got really into Ben Folds Five. It was a bit after their spotlight had faded, but they were still putting out really great music. Ben Folds used to always make me think of the east coast. Now that I’m here he makes me think of the south east, some far off mythical land (I’ve never been).

Vancouver

I just got back from a family trip to Vancouver. Despite its size, cultural importance, and proximity to Seattle, Vancouver is surprising forgotten in the emerald city. (I’m referring to Seattle for those that don’t know. Vancouver, with its skyscrapers of green glass, really should be the emerald city. In Seattle, the only green is the forest green of the foresty environment.)
I took some pictures which may turn into one of my little “photo galleries”, but as I’ve already mentioned, I’ve forgotten my USB cable so I can’t plug in my camera. There is an pretty good photo exhibit of Vancouver on urbanphoto.org.
There’s nothing like the museum to make you realize that you’ve got a day off. I don’t ever remember being at a museum and thinking about getting back to work or study. Thus, I caught the last day of the Cyborg Exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It was pretty interesting stuff, the highlight of which was probably a post-apocalyptic life support suit by Kenji Yanobe. I was first exposed to Kenji Yanobe’s work at an exhibit at UC Santa Barbara when I was a student there in 1997.
Upstairs at the museum was a Douglas Gordon exhibit. His stuff was both interesting and disturbing. Some of the cooler pieces were the video installations. One featured two giant opposing screens showing the “you talkin’ to me?” scene from Taxi Driver in slightly staggered loops. Another, “24 Hour Psycho” is brilliant in concept but rather boring in application. It’s a slowing down of the film Psycho stretched to show in 24 hours. What you end up with is a giant video display that moves ever so slightly ever few seconds. It’s essentially the opposite of time lapse photography.

Most Creative Cities

According to Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, I am on a tour of the most creative cities in the U.S. My former domicile, San Francisco, comes in first place, followed by my current domicile, Boston, at number three. Seattle is number five.
Florida created a “Creativity Index” for each city based on “Creative Class” (workers who primarily produce creative content), High Tech, Innovation, and Diversity. Check out the rankings and the maps.

Lightning Map

There was a bit of lighting (and, of course… thunder) last night. Hopefully the turbulence in the air is no pre-cursor to a turbulent exam. Actually the rain is very calming. The streetlight that is right outside my window is usually an annoyance, lighting up my room when it doesn’t want to be illuminated. In the rain and snow though, the light becomes the rain and snow equivalent of thermal goggles, allowing one to see what’s actually going on. So I like it. (Could be a bit dimmer though.)
There’s a pretty cool map of lighting strikes that I found after a bit of searching. What I was really looking for was photographs of lighting striking. You see those sometimes when it hits famous structures like the Washington Monument. It looks like most of the pictures out there on the web are more storm-chaser type great plains photographs.