Iowa? I don't owe ha' nothin...

Boston, Massachusetts
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
I just read this op-ed in the Des Moines Register (that's right, baby, the Des Moines Register) that suggested the solution for Iowa's population leakage problem is to become more like Portland, OR. Progressive planning, transit-oriented development, investment in the arts, ect. I gotta say that seems a better idea then repopulating with south americans like they've been trying. (of course if you really want to be like Portland you've really got to build a mountain, pine forests and and ocean an hour away... but i guess you work with what you've got, huh...)



An Ode to the iPod on Public Transportation.

Boston, Massachusetts
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
I just had to write about how much I love it when my iPod picks the perfect song for a given moment. I'm sure drivers feel this way too, but to me it feels like trains and iPod's go together like Macaroni & Cheese and Cut-Up-Hot-Dogs.

My top song/spot combos:

Madvillian - accordion (Fourtet Remix): Exiting the Orange Line at Chinatown Station outbound and walking up the stairs.

Laura Veirs - Secret Someones: When you are on a Green Line train at State and watching everyone run for trains.

Tiki Obmar - Lillypads A: On the Orange Line outbound when the train goes above ground for the first time after New England Med. Center and MassPike and the Back Bay are on the right.

Postal Service - Brand New Colony: (I want to take you far from the cynics in this town...) When the Commuter Rail Train speeds up for the first time outside of North Station.

I'd make a mix tape, but i don't think it would work as well.



New Camera and J's Parents in Boston

Saturday we went to Concord, Mass for a little cemetery hopping and revolutionary history site visiting. Concord was the sight of the first real battle of the American Revolution. It is now the sight of tourist art shops and ice cream cafés. Pretty town though and many literary graves.

Boston, Massachusetts
Today we went for a whale watching cruise, which was really quite enjoyable, other then the whole seasickness thing. We got really close to the humpbacks. There were three frolicking ahead of us. Tonight was also Boston's 375th anniversary, so cool fireworks over the harbour. Very cool. J described this picture as a dragon attacking boston. but that was after two beers.



Gated New Urbanism

Foremost on my list of developments that get me angry at the moment is this:

This is a housing development called "Aqua" in Miami Beach. It is interesting for a number of reasons. a) It was laid out by New Urbanist gurus Duany/Plater-Zyberk. b) it's the first time a new urbanist development has used modern architecture instead of neo-traditionalist. c) it's may be the first time ever in Miami beach that there have been buildings that share walls.

But who cares? First of all, it's a gated community. How can that possibly further an urban lifestyle? Second, there is NO retail, so how can it even really be called New Urbanist?

Do we really have to sell our souls in order to get stuff built?



So the system kind of broke down there, huh?

Dublin, Ireland
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
I was getting out of class late last night and getting ready to cross Comm Ave to the train stop which is in the median. There were a bunch of us waiting to cross and three lanes of traffic coming at us. Then, for no apparent reason, all three lanes of traffic stop at a green light. The pedestrians weren't sure what to do, the drivers weren't sure what to do, and I was so surprised that I accidentally hung up on J. See people, this is why we have rules.



i'm so tired right now that i'm lowercase.

but seriously. i'm a week into school and i think it's going to be a very challenging semester. i've got one graduate class that is absolutely fascinating, but my god is there a ton of reading. the professor gave us five text books and we're going to read pretty much all of all of them in the next 8 1/2 weeks. plus a paper per week. plus a couple of longish research papers at the end of the semester. i think i'm writing one of the sociology of american public transportation and one on the planning involved in reunifing berlin and moving the capital back.

i got secret shopped at work last week and got 100%. they gave me a $25 amex gift card.

my damn wife is leaving me (for business trips. so i think she's coming back). i already knew she was going to moldova and turkey in october, but now it looks like she is also going to be spending 3 weeks in egypt right after christmas. 3 continents in 3 months without spending a penny. not bad for jessica. and now i'm feeling bad for damning her, so i take it back.

so to get back at her i used some birthday money to by myself a ticket to puerto rico for part of the time that she is in moldova. san juan is the second oldest european city in the hemisphere (every wall is great if the ceiling doesn't fall). plus i'm hoping winter baseball will have started already. i may rent a vespa and try to circumnavigate something.

the end.



Harbour Islands

Boston, Massachusetts
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
J & I went to the harbor islands for the day yesterday to celebrate my birthday. Good times were had by all.

When I moved to Boston, I expected the ocean to be a little more accessible then it is. I kind of thought it would be a bit more like Chicago, with the long straight sweeping shoreline. But really we're quite set back from the ocean, in fact, that is why we were placed here. By the time they built Chicago no one was worried about siege warfare, and you didn't need a city wall like you did when Boston was built.

The Harbour Islands are a whole big group of islands that shelter the harbour. There are a bunch of forts and lighthouses and wild-berry-picken and the like. You can even camp out there (how often can you camp in such an urban setting?) We went to Georges Island, which has a big old fort on it that used to be part of the chain of forts that protected the coast against the big bad British. In the civil war they kept southern prisoners of war there and in World Wars I & II they managed the mining of the harbour from there.



TBell & Gehry

Cambridge, Massachusetts
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
So I walk into a Taco Bell for like the first time in about two years last week. The menu is completely different and it looks like they are trying to do some kind of Chipotle build your own burrito clone sort of thing. I ask the kid at the counter if they've still got Chili-Cheese Burritos (or Chilitos for all you old timers) and he looked at me like I was crazy. What happened to the good old days? Anyways, I order enchiladas instead, which is ok, and a small soda. I go over to the soda machine, and what do I find? Blue Mountian Dew. I have tasted the future and it is nasty...

Cambridge, Massachusetts
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.

But anyways, we walked by the new Stata Building at MIT. It's freaking awesome. It was designed by Frank Gehry, who is one of the worlds leading impressionist-postmodernist architects. He also designed the Weismen in Minneapolis, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and one of the buildings on Pariser Platz in Berlin (I'm not sure who owns it, but its on the side of the street with the Michael Jackson hotel and the US Embassy hole) and he also designed the concert hall in Springfield for all you who know the Simpsons better then the real world. Usually he works almost only in metals, but this one was really cool because it worked with both brickwork and metal. Very cool. There are some more pictures up on Flicker.



All that jazz...

One of the interesting things about working at an airport is the people that you get a chance to converse with. Throughout the last week we've been seeing a lot of refugees coming through, and last night I had a fairly lengthy conversation with a native new orleanser who also happened to be a civil engineer. It was late and there weren't any other customers, so we got to speculate fairly at length regarding how New Orleans will be rebuilt.

Because of the high water table under the city, most of New Orleans is built using a concrete slab with wood framed buildings sitting on top. There aren't basements and in many cases their is very little actually holding the house to the ground other then the simple weight of the house. If you look at pictures now you'll notice that there seem to be a lot of houses that are at very strange angles. These are buildings that have slipped off of their foundations, and they are, in almost all cases, simply going to have to be bulldozed. Any future plan should require zoning of foundations that are more firmly planted. Large buildings in Chicago have similar problems.

Since it therefore seems that most of the current buildings aren't going to survive, it would seem that the best possible way to prevent future problems would be landfill. The height of the city should simply be raised above sea level. Cities like San Francisco and Boston have long ago perfected landfilling technology (almost 70% of Boston proper didn't exist in 1645). There are some problems with this though. First of all, it can be expensive, especially if there aren't materials nearby that can be used to fill. Boston is lucky in that we have extremely rocky soil and lots of hills that could be used. Secondly, changing the height of the city would also change a lot of property lines, which would be difficult to sort out. Lastly, there is the problem of "raising" the buildings that can be saved. When you are talking about the scale of destruction that has happened, I don't thing anyone can overstate the importance of historical preservation in the buildings that remain.

If the city doesn't landfill, they must carefully choose their zoning requirements so that future buildings will stand up better. I already mentioned the need for better foundations, also, wood framed houses should probably be banned. I would also think that maintaining a high height requirement would be a good idea. What I mean by that is making sure that every building in the city has at least 10-16 feet above sea level.

It'll be interesting to see what happens. In any event, the state of planning in general is better now then it has been for 50 years, and I think that New Orleans will again be a place to see. In addition, there are numerous planners and planning firms that have a ton of experience in working with this sort of thing due to last years tsunami, so we will be, once the politicians and the media get out of the way, in good hands.

In happier news:
Ryan and Bethany are having a girl (which hopefully won't throw the universe out of balance and damn J & I to boys). I'd suggest (110) Chelsea Pitman as a name, but honestly I don't like it. Maybe Nicollette Avenue Pitman?



Blogging from the Classroom

Cape Breton Highlands, Nova Scotia
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
how did we ever live before... wireless on laptops... iPods on the subway...



Back to School

School starts on Tuesday! I can't wait. I went and picked up most of the rest of my books yesterday (they were still missing two). Getting my school books is like Christmas for me, and this semester is especially good. I've got 10 books for 3 classes:

Sociology 100:

Essen. of Sociology

Sociology of the News

Urban Affairs 301:

Deciphering the City

Heat Wave : A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago

Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City

City Planning 515:

Readings in Planning Theory

City Reader

Cities of Tomorrow

+ 2 that haven't come in yet.

Whoo Hoooo!


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