Adieu, For Now

Yes, I’m cutting off the blog. On my first year anniversary.

It’s not so much that I’m tired of blogging, nor is it that my numbers have dropped (although to be honest it did play a part). Nor is it running out of topics (you do enough reading anywhere, you can continue running into topics to talk about).

More to the point: I feel I have some other things I need to do more important than blogging. One of these things includes organizing some things, which have sort of fallen behind for the past couple of years (beyond the time of this blog). And I don’t have any other time I can take.

As it is, It’s a good time to rethink the blog thing. After all, in the past year I’ve learned a few things:

  • One easy way to get people to read you is to piss on a sacred cow of theirs .
  • You can also play to various choirs, giving them what they want to hear.
  • Probably the best way to blog is to pick a topic and work your way through it.

As it happened, I did things mightily slap-dash. I’d hit up a topic for maybe four or five blogging posts, then jump off onto something wildly disconnected. One month’s blogging (November 2005, to pick a month) hit upon the following topics:

  • How long it was since I last went to Chicago
  • The differences between men and women, and how odd they actually are (two posts, separated)
  • Words of gloom and doom about intercity transit, and a comparison between toy depictions of buses and how they were viewed by the public
  • A jab at a conservative think tank for forgetting their champion (Shrub Jr) was disliked for reasons of actual competence
  • Whether the Republicans (more to the point: The Corporatista overlords) WANTED Roe v Wade overturned
  • What I disliked about Wal-Mart
  • Why doesn’t Pat Robertson ask for Healing, instead of his constant litany for the damnation of what he hates
  • The seeming return of Anti-Semitism to the airwaves, with thoughts on whether the Xian right wanted Israel established so Christ could return and they could watch the world fall apart for their entertainment
  • Bemoaning America’s joyous underfunding of mass transit, and how we suffer when we need it
  • Two postings related to college football, one referring to the past, the other to then current outcomes
  • Trying to explain (to myself, mainly) why Prayer In School was so important to Fundamentalist Christians
  • Why women who seduced teenage boys were usually treated differently than men who seduced teenage girls (usually in favor of the women seducers)
  • Three postings stating the problem of Metra Electric service, positing a solution of mine, and listing the problems with such an answer
  • Ripping into 60 Minutes for a badly biased, badly done report on why “Plan B” isn’t yet legal
  • A final posting in the month, stating why I consider myself a Democrat

In other words, a wildly varied set of postings, nothing uniting the whole. A few tendencies (and a definite leftward tilt) but a definite scatter-shot. Other months include postings on soda pop, home schooling (not all negative), intellectual property (usually wrapped up with music issues), Madalyn Murray O’Hair, my Toe, The Super Bowl (five postings!), book reviews on occasion, and New Orleans; among other things.

When I restart this blog (IF i restart this blog) I will do things a bit different. While trying to keep (make?) things eclectic, I might plan on setting up a topic for each month. That way, I have a focus that will keep me from scattershotting around. And the changes will allow me to change when things start getting boring (or at least institute enough change).

Anyway…adieu for now. Maybe we’ll meet again.

Peanuts Releases In The Future:

This is the order of the books in The Complete Peanuts series (at least if the rumors pan out):

  1. 1950-52. CHARLIE BROWN
  2. 1953-54. LUCY
  3. 1955-56. PIG-PEN
  4. 1957-58. SNOOPY
  5. 1959-60. PATTY
  6. 1961-62. SCHROEDER
  7. 1963-64. LINUS
  8. 1965-66. CHARLIE BROWN
  9. 1967-68. VIOLET
  10. 1969-70. SNOOPY (FLYING ACE)
  11. 1971-72. SALLY
  12. 1973-74. WOODSTOCK
  13. 1975-76. PEPPERMINT PATTY
  14. 1977-78. CHARLIE BROWN
  15. 1979-80. FRIEDA
  16. 1981-82. SPIKE
  17. 1983-84. LINUS
  18. 1985-86. FRANKLIN
  19. 1987-88. LUCY
  20. 1989-90. CHARLIE BROWN
  21. 1991-92. MARCIE
  22. 1993-94. SNOOPY (PERHAPS LAWYER)
  23. 1995-96. RERUN
  24. 1997-98. PEPPERMINT PATTY
  25. 1999-2000. CHARLIE BROWN.

So CB gets 5 covers, snoopy gets 3, Lucy, Linus, Pepperment Patty get 2 and 16 other characters get one cover.

In a way, their pictures show them when they’re big parts of the strip. While other characters came and went, these characters (and the way they’re listed) is a good way of measuring where the strip was and how it went.

And if I live to 2016 (not necessarily a likelihood, considering how things are going) I’m sure I’ll have a whole set.

2nd Avenue Subway: Shrunken Dreams, Dying City?

So now it looks like the Second Avenue Subway (SAS for short) is finally going to be built.

And the present plan sucks.

When the IND Second System was originally put forth (probably with the idea of forcing the IRT and BMT to sell itself to the City), the SAS was planned to be four to six lines wide and went from the Bronx to Queens. Right now the SAS is planned to be just two lines wide (except for a crossing point with the 63rd Street subway section) and stay fully within Manhattan.

Maybe it’s too much today for a transit system to dream of anything more than a subpar system, but where are the dreamers who can plan for something better? I cannot believe that the last person who could think big thoughts in New York was Mr. Moses with his expressways that still continuously threaten to choke the city into a smog-accelerated demise.

Anyway, here’s my thoughts as to how the SAS should be built:

  • One or Two Express Lines in addition to the two local lines planned. Preferably two.
  • Direct Connection to the Bronx, refitting Line 4 or 6 for use by the SAS. I’d prefer Line 4 so you could have transfer points (and possibly connect with the D train), but Line 6 will work out well enough (Line 5 is used by Line 2 as well, so there would be a conflict there).
  • More Stops on the main line. Add one at 6th Street north of Houston, one between Seaport and Hanover Square, one near 60th Street (connect with the Roosevelt Island Tramway; would involve shifting the 55th street stop to 52nd street), and a stop at 78th Street (with the 72nd street stop shifted to 70th or 69th).
  • A link from near the Seaport stop to the Hoyt Street-Schermerhorn Street stop via Court Street, linking the SAS with lines in Brooklyn and Queens and integrating the Court Street stub (now inactive) into the system.
  • Build a 7 line station at 2nd and 42nd. With the SAS working as an intermediate point between the 7 and the surface, there’s no longer a reason to not place a station at that point.
  • If you’re going to put in an endpoint at 125th and Lexington, why not do the obvious: create a 125th line across to Broadway. That would add connections to the Broadway, Eighth Avenue and Lenox/Malcolm X Lines, plus a possible place for redevelopment further north in Manhattan.
  • You could even make build the tunnels in such a way that you could build an extension across to Broadway in Queens (I’d say La Guardia, but I’m guessing they’ll want any route going in that direction to go to Uptown and Downtown Manhattan for that)

Maybe the last item was a pipe dreams (five miles between stops, no real access to the centers of NYC and no tourist spot to send people to), but everything else can be implemented with benefit to the system. While there would be some cost to all of these items, I believe it would all be worth it, especially the four-line idea and the extra stations.

A few thoughts. Probably just an unfulfillable wish list, but something I want anyway.

Something Distrubing Happened To Me:

No, it wasn’t that I was kicked out of where I live.

No, it wasn’t that the lady who cried “Rape” at Duke has been proved an all-around liar. (Complete with the damning of anyone who criticizes college sports thanks to this stupid bitch)

And no, I still have my job.

Actually, I found myself with nothing in my head for an extended period of time.

I was driving around, nothing out of the ordinary, then I found my mood dropping. Nothing unusual (it happens enough times), but this time I found myself with an absolute blank mind.

Which disturbed me.

After all, there should be something going on in one’s mind. I understand the idea of “still mind,” but there are times I want my mind stilled and times I want my mind to be active.

And when I’m feeling down, I want my mind active and fighting. Stillness is for when I’m in a position to let my mind go blank, and I don’t like my mind blanking out on me when I’m fighting to keep myself out of the pit.

I just hope this isn’t the start of Alzheimer’s. This is just too early to suffer from that.

An Interesting Look At The Past of Public Transit

So I’m looking through a Southern California Transit Coalition website when I run across a listing of historical maps. So I looked up the 1910, 1920 and 1949 route maps.

You would be amazed what the maps tell:

  • The 1910 and 1920 maps show only rail lines; the 1949 map shows roads and rail.
  • The earlier maps show how many tracks are on each route; the 1949 map only shows the routes.
  • The 1949 map shows which rail lines are transit routes and which are used only for freight. If I read the legend right, the area served by the trollies had retreated back to its 1910 range, only without the density.
  • The 1949 map shows what many people viewed a the benefits of busses over trollies. Where one line did all the business between Covina and San Bernadino in 1920, you had three bus lines covering the whole of the corridor in 1949 with convenience added in the mix. Busses also gave a direct transit connection between San Bernadino and Orange County — a routing which would have been costly and bled red ink as a trolly line. Also note the area to the east of the Watts/Compton/Dominguez mainline
  • As interesting as the expansion of service via busses is, it’s also interesting to see where the service was cut back. Redlands was now only an end stop (instead of a local transfer point), everything south of Inglewood had been abandoned (no buses, even) and Pasadena had become merely part of a loop (instead of a center of its own area and gateway to Mount Lowe and a view of the basin).

As one could see clearly with the 1949 map, the automobile was already affecting how people viewed the area and the options given. Transit officials were looking towards busses to expand and fine-tune service, allowing for a greater spreading out where needed.

The automobile would cause greater changes from here, however. The expansion of the Suburbs into and beyond the settled areas served by the rails and busses would cause traffic jams, and the busses would be subjected to traffic jams that even the trams wouldn’t suffer from. Further, a grid of Expressways would develop, making clear the futility of bus usage for all but the poor and stubborn.

Eventually the need for a rail option on its own right-of-way would become known, and (only in America) would the idea of “the cheaper it is, the better quality it is” would lead to corners cut on the light-rail.

Still, it’s interesting to see what had happened, on what was one of the best urban rail transit systems in the nation (in a place one would hardly believe it could have existed, in addition).

Can You Trust Your Vote To Count?

Levy: Will Your Vote Count In 2006?

The news is beginning to get into the mainstream press: Your Vote May Not Count.

I’ve always found paper more trustworthy than computers with my vote. You know what you vote, you can see clearly where your vote’s been tampered with (at least before you cast it) and there a clear trail. Chads aside, it takes effort to fix the vote on paper.

On a computer screen, however, one can easily do things to fix the vote. The most subtle would be to shift the vote for each precinct by a specified number of votes (3 votes X 10,000 voting places = 30,000 votes shifted); one can also change the count, work by percentages, mysteriously disappear the votes, or a mix of these depending on precinct and what you want shown.

As it happned, every shift shown by these machines in 2004 seemed to magically go the way of the Republicans. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to find some of the shifts in other races: I saw some really odd voting shifts in some precincts in the 3rd ward in Chicago back in 2003.

What’s More Important: The Jawbone Or The Hipbone?

My housemate takes Fosamax. It’s supposed to strengthen the bones, and while it’s a once-a-week thing, it seems to work.

But it appears that once again, every upside has its own downside. This time, it appears the jaw takes a hit to strengthen the hipbone.

Now I know everything has its downside. Even Water can kill in excess, and Oxygen was originally a toxic gas that some cell figured out how to use (and used its secret to push the rest of the cells to the margins). Indeed, the difference between beneficial items and poisonous items is the lower level of tolerance we have for poisonous items.

However, there’s millions of people taking these drugs (Aredia and Zometa for cancer treatments; Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva for osteoporosis) so even the the person taking the smallest allowed dose is at some risk. The risk seems small (less than 1%, with cancer treatment doses, probably a smaller percentage with pill takers). Still, it’s something to consider, especially when you’re about to go through oral surgery…which it turns out my housemate is about to do.

And now she’s worried sick.

Forces Out Of Control in New Orleans?

New Orleans Sinking Faster Than Thought

Thing is this: I wonder what the Dutch think of this?

After all, they’ve been fighting against the sea for four hundred plus years, adding new space wherever they can. They’ve even added on a large dike to reclaim large areas once underneath the harbor.

But then, the Nethernlands isn’t on swamp land.

One thing that really puzzles me: Wouldn’t things get really messed up when your land is changing at over an inch a year? That’s nearly a foot a decade. How many of them buildings are actually built on a slab; that’d be the only thing that would keep them from really falling apart as the basement gets uncovered.

I still say “Rebuild On The Achafalaya.” That land’s high, whereas New Orleans should be under the Golf of Mexico by now.