elbales: (Typewriter keys)
Originally posted by coffeeem at Mayor Nutter's Unexpected Gift to Philadelphia
In which Pope Francis unintentionally reveals the joys of a pedestrian- and bike-friendly city, and Kyle Cassidy muses wisely and asks questions that are worth considering. With pretty photos.

Originally posted by kylecassidy at Mayor Nutter's Unexpected Gift to Philadelphia



Sometimes a disaster produces beneficial side effects that could never be otherwise experienced because of the terrible cost. When the FAA shut down all airline traffic after 9/11 scientists got their first chance to study the effect of airplane contrails on temperature.

This weekend the Pope came to Philly and the city shut down virtually every bus, train, and street for three days -- the bridge between New Jersey and Philadelphia was closed, concrete barricades went up at major intersections, "Walking Dead" jokes abounded on the news media and the city got a chance to see what a life without cars might be like. Runners and cyclists spilled out onto the streets, joyfully running and biking in places that are normally both unsafe and illegal.




Running across the bridge to New Jersey.


When the Pope's visit was announced, Philadelphians were on the whole very happy about the idea. But as plans progressed and the city announced seemingly more and more bizarre security measures people got either outraged or incredulous, depending on the makeup of your Facebook feed. One of the most baffling was the plan to shut down the Benjamin Franklin bridge and have pilgrims park in Camden and walk three miles in to see the Pope and then three miles back. Early plans were to install TSA style screening on the bridge which the city said would be performing more security checks than the airport during that time.

Clever people mocked the city's planning producing things like this map:




Certainly if terrorists had been able to shut down every street in the city, block traffic, and cut it off from New Jersey for three days they'd be pleased with themselves. We got our car free experience at a significant cost to businesses who lost untold amounts of money, some closed because workers couldn't get in to the city and others who did open found that nobody was shopping.

I'd been initially planning on locking myself into my house and watching Netflix for three days, but when initial reports started to come in from runners about the multi-million dollar limited time playground open in center city, I jumped into my shoes with the West Philadelphia Runners and we ran an amazed route through the city, proverbially slack jawed with disbelief at the pedestrian wonderland which had opened up.




No wait at the Genius Bar.
Employees at the completely empty Apple store
stand at the window and wave to people.


The city's newly formed Indego Bike Share shined during this time, setting up permanently open kiosks with people to check in bikes even if all the racks were full. The able bodied rejoiced while the most Catholic people I know stayed home, scared off by the through of trying to push a wheelchair for six miles, navigate closed streets and go through unknown TSA security checkpoints.




Route 76, the normally jam-packed beltway around the city was shut down.


It was a runner's paradise in many ways, one of which was the installation of thousands of portable toilets all throughout the city as well as massive icebergs of free bottled water at strategic locations. These are things that runners want often, people walking miles want eventually and homeless people want constantly. By providing public amenities in vast quantities our eyes were open to how much we were missing constantly. Runners map water fountains and plan their runs around them -- access to public water is a sadly rare thing.




The race course everybody wants.


We saw for the first time how long it actually takes to get places on foot without traffic lights. I'd recently just experienced this in Wyoming, where you can point to a spot three miles away and know pretty much exactly how long it will take you to get there. I discovered that things were much closer to my house than I'd realized, that the density of the city and, especially the impact of cars, stretches miles. That much of our time moving in a city is actually spent standing still in an incredibly inefficient way. Our run to the bridge, which I think of as "There be Dragons" far from me took much less time than I'd expected.

The shutdown brought things closer together, it brought us together, even if as gawkers, to meet one another, we got to see a city as it could be, and as a lot of people have envisioned a city as being -- truly walkable, truly bikeable, uncongested.

You may have seen this photo from the Australia Cycling Promotion Fund showing the amount of space taken up by pedestrians, busses, bicycles, and cars:




This is the world we live in and for a moment, we got the chance to see other options. Years ago, playing Sim City, I designed a city with only public transportation, cars were parked in a ring outside. My city had extremely low pollution levels but the rents skyrocketed and eventually I was hung in effigy, but I do imagine this type of world where streets are limited to mass transit, delivery and emergency vehicles. I've never known though if it would work -- and I still don't. If this persisted would the Mayor become a hero or would the city just die? I don't know.




All traffic in and out of the city, shut down.


There's a huge down side to this as well. I don't know if anybody will ever be able to accurately figure out how much this experiment cost the city. I've read that among the hidden costs, 75% of the babies born that weekend weren't able to be born in the hospital of their parents choice because of transportation difficulties.




The West Philly Runners on the Ben Franklin Bridge.


Philadelphia's expanding it's bike and pedestrian trails, we have miles and miles of them along the Schuylkill river, though for the most part, they go to nothing -- they're recreational rather than functional paths. What would it be like to be able to easily and safely bike to center city? Having seen free and open streets, can we now be satisfied without at least protected bicycle lanes? Is it the job of a city to encourage people to adopt healthy lifestyles? There are obvious financial benefits To encourage walking and biking

This thing wasn't the thing that the Mayor thought he was giving us. But having seen it, we want it, I want it anyway. I know that the thing we have now isn't the thing that I want.










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elbales: (BadCat)
So on Saturday, Hardi went to hang with our gaming group, and I stayed home because — not that I've mentioned it in any of my online spaces — I'm still hoarse and coughing from a cold that I came down with on the 11th. (People, it is the 20th. Colds suck.) I was home by myself, and I seized the chance to do things that I wanted to do: one episode of Sense8, some kitchen puttering, some trying on and winnowing of clothing, and even hemming up a pair of trousers. By the time Hardi got home around 6, I had two chicken breasts poaching with some veg and lots of herbs and was quick-soaking some beans. So, you know, it was a pretty damn awesome day. I like puttering, and I like decluttering my closet and cupboards, and it's always nice having a kitchen that's better organized and tidier.

Anyway, one of the things that turned up in the shuffle was Hardi's ancient Thermos. I think he already had it when we got married, or maybe he bought it soon after (there might have been a Thermos I dropped? Maybe?), and it's been sitting forgotten on top of a cupboard since we moved to this apartment more than 10 years ago. Dismaying! The outside was super filthy and I didn't want to store it dirty because gross. I tried getting it open, but it was stuck, so I shrugged and set it by the sink for cleaning later.

Later came this evening, after Hardi made himself a big batch of stroganoff to take for lunches this week. (People, I cleaned the heck out of that kitchen. The cutting board, which whiffs strongly of garlic, got a vinegar wipe and is now sitting covered in coarse sea salt until tomorrow, when I will procure a lemon and use it as a scrubber.) The Thermos was last.

Still wearing my rubber gloves, I took it into his room and asked, "Could you please open this?" It took a bit — it was really stuck — but he got the lid, which is one of those old-school detachable cups, to come loose. He handed it to me, and I caught a whiff of something. "Ghost of chocolate past?" I said, and watched as he started turning the stopper.

There was a hiss of escaping... something... and my eyes got big. Hardi's eyebrow did the Spock thing. We stared at each other for a sec before he set to again. He got it open and turned it to the lamp.

"Yep," he said. "Chocolate." And he loosely set the stopper on the jug and handed it back to to me.

"What an amazing new smell you've discovered," I said as I turned to go back to the kitchen.

(I cleaned the heck out of that Thermos, too. There was some soaking first, you betcha. Gah.)
elbales: (Destiny)
Today I was at Book Buyers in Mountain View with a friend, and I noticed that their 2016 wall calendars had started to come in. I grabbed my usual mindfulness calendar to hang by my desk and then went looking for one for the kitchen. (Yes, they're like 15 feet apart. I actually use them both. Don't judge.) Then I stumbled on this one and my head exploded. "Oh my god, this is so aggressively girly that I have to have it," I told my friend. Seriously, look at those photos, it's ridiculous. I love it. So next year I get to look at all these heteronormative gender-normative versions of romantic imagery, and I'm going to enjoy the shit out of it. The mindfulness calendar can hang out by the phone table, it's all good.

And ha! They were 40 percent off.

p.s. Support your local independent bookstore, yo.

p.p.s. (O HAI STUPID BRAIN TRICKS, VERY FUNNY, I've been misusing heteronormative for like freaking ever because I obviously misremembered the proper definition. Yay?)
elbales: (Destiny)
This is pretty cool. Also memorably weird.
elbales: (Typewriter keys)
If you are an academic type, you need to read this:

"This population of male woodcocks is really good at getting laid, but this other population of male woodcocks is really bad at getting laid and it’s probably because they’re total nerds who’re afraid of everything and can’t get it up when a car goes by 100 yards away."

- Biology, Nassau Community College


"Everyone, including me, is confused about why babies point or don’t point"

- Psychology, Simon Fraser University


"Refugees don’t like being sick, either. Also, militarized governments are bad, and should feel bad."

- Public Health, California State University, Fullerton
elbales: (Unimpressed!River)
It was frustrating. There were fun moments in there, but the script spent 40 years wandering in the desert, scratching itself as it went. David Twohy couldn't decide what story he was telling, and the movie suffers for it. I mean, I love that Vin Diesel has maneuvered his career around to allow him to make films for the love of it, but he really needs to find someone who is equally D&D-geeky to write scripts for him, and it needs to be someone good.

As Hardi said, "Meh." Which is sad, because I loves me some Pitch Black and I even have a soft spot for the second movie.

Also, there's a little throwaway line from Katee Sackhoff's character Dahl near the end that left me thinking, FUCK YOU, DAVID TWOHY, FUCK YOU, LESBIANS DO NOT EXIST FOR YOUR GRATIFICATION, THEY ARE REAL PEOPLE WITH REAL IDENTITIES WHO ACTUALFAX ONLY SLEEP WITH WOMEN, FUCK YOU.

tl;dr if you identify as lesbian, or you actually care about people who do, there is a bit that will leave you wanting to throw heavy objects at David Twohy's head, or possible Jujubes at the movie screen, IDK.
elbales: (BAAL SMASH)
If I were a creature of impulse, my CPAP unit would be lying on the concrete beneath my balcony.

Before the weather warmed up, the CPAP was condensing ridiculous amounts of water in the hose, even if I'd used it only briefly and even though I have the hose insulated with a fleece sleeve. I would have to hang it up over the shower doors, and when the hose dropped down, I could hear drops of water spattering into the bathtub. If I ever forgot to hang the thing up in the morning, it would dribble quantities of cold water all over my face when I put it on at night.

Then I started having problems with the mask on my skin. I would put the mask on, and within minutes my face would start itching. I decided maybe the silicon interface was harboring too much skin oil and bacteria, so I replaced it. Yeah, not so much with the solution.

The mask is frequently leaky, a problem not apparently solved by my replacing the interface, and it's started hurting the bridge of my nose and my eye sockets. If I try to wear it, I start getting that rubber-band-around-my-head feeling you get with a tension headache; if I leave it on, it just gets worse. I've tried to adjust the headgear straps and it hasn't helped. To top it off, the hose drags on the mask and exacerbates the problems with fit and leakage.

CPAP therapy is supposed to help with the oxy deprivation that is supposedly causing my nightmares, but that's a pile of horseshit, because even with the fucking thing running I still have nightmares and I still scream loud enough to wake Hardi in the next room, even with a mask over my face.

So tell me again how this piece of crap is going to make my life better? Because so far it's a waste of time, money, and precious space on my nightstand. Trying to use it just makes me angry and miserable. Because that's restful.
elbales: (I can kill you with my brain)
So I forgot to write about this on Monday when it happened, but wow! My spine emerged big time. Let me preface this by saying that I like other people's well-mannered dogs, and I really like dog owners who train and clean up after their animals. The bond between humans and dogs is a beautiful thing and brings a lot of joy to a lot of people, and I highly believe that anyone who wants a dog and can take care of it should have the chance for that kind of happiness. Okay? Okay.

I was on my way into the department office for a meeting taking place at the site we share with a preschool/family program. There are fences everywhere because those little four-year-olds will take off a like a rocket and go play in traffic at the least chance.

So I parked my car in the lot, and I headed toward the school, and on my way I walked within maybe five or six feet a woman with a large dog (properly restrained on a leash). Which barked at me, and I was like, Way to socialize your dog, lady, nice work. But I wrote it off, and then as I went through the gate and turned around I saw my coworker M behind me. We waved; she ended up within ten feet of the lady with the dog, too, which barked at her. M came up to me a bit shaken, because it turns out she was once chased a long way by a very large dog while she was out jogging, and ever since then she has been afraid of dogs. So what lovely thing do you think happened next?

M came through the gate, which I then noticed had a large sign of recent vintage reading ALL DOGS MUST BE ON A LEASH (PALO ALTO MUNICIPAL CODE BLAHBLAHBLAH), and I thought, Huh, what's up with that, but it's a good idea.

And then I shut the gate, and suddenly what comes charging up to us? A dog. Not on a leash. It was just a pug, but whatever, it wasn't wagging or play-bowing so I had no idea of its intentions. And I looked up to see its owner and channeled Robin McKinley and bellowed, "CALL YOUR DOG." And the guy, looking gobsmacked, gave a half-hearted call. Fortunately the dog turned around, and suddenly I found myself yelling, and I mean yelling: "WE HAVE A LEASH LAW IN PALO ALTO, GET THAT DOG ON A LEASH BEFORE I CALL THE COPS."

M looked at me like I was something amazing. (What was going through my own head, though, was, Holy crap, where did that come from?) And then M started telling me about the chased-by-a-dog (into poison oak, BTW) story, and we commiserated about the idiocy of people who don't train and control their pets, and when I looked around the pug was on a leash.

Apparently they've had a bunch of assholes in Palo Alto decide that the children's playing field is a dog park. An off-leash dog park.

Yeah, thanks for the crap on the lawn all those preschoolers play on, ASSHOLES.
elbales: (Grumpy Zoe - Sluggy Freelance)
Dear American packaged food industry:

Fuck you sideways with a rusty chainsaw that every goddamn thing you make is somehow unhealthy. Fuck you for dumping sugar and HFCS and GM soy and wheat products into every. Fucking. Thing. Fuck you for helping make healthful eating into a laborious, inconvenient slog in which people can walk into a grocery store and literally be unable to eat ANYTHING IN THE STORE except for the pathetically tiny selection of organic produce. Fuck you for quite literally sitting in meeting rooms for the past 40 or 50 years and purposefully plotting HOW TO MAKE PEOPLE FAT so that your execs and stockholders can make ungodly amounts of money (and helping your buddies in Big Pharma make ungodly amounts of money on medications for the illnesses brought on by YOUR FUCKING PRODUCTS).

Die in a fucking FIRE.

With piss, vinegar, and bile,
Not your friend,
E
elbales: (Not good!Turlough)
So there's this thing you have to remember when you use a neti pot to help with allergies or sinusitus. It's a super important thing that you must never ever forget, lest Bad Things come to you. Here it comes.

Ready?

Don't forget the salt.

No. Really. DON'T FORGET THE SALT.

ow my sinuses
elbales: (Geek Dualla - BSG)
Month of May, that is.

Why, you may ask?



Why, because I am a gigantic geek, if you must know.
elbales: (Bitch please - BSG)
So on Friday, a University of Rhode Island prof named Eric Loomis expressed his outrage over the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, by tweeting, "I was heartbroken in the first 20 mass murders. Now I want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick." (LaPierre is the head of the NRA.)

The right-wing punditry promptly shit concrete bricks... in spite of the fact that "head on a stick," like "heads will roll," has become a way of saying that there need to be consequences. A way that right-wing commentators use just as much as anyone else.

So someone then contacted the FBI and claimed that Loomis had threatened LaPierre's life, because that statement was so obviously a credible threat, and the RI State Police questioned Loomis, and then his dean hauled him into a meeting, and then, and then, the University of Rhode Island issued a statement:

The University of Rhode Island does not condone acts or threats of violence. These remarks do not reflect the views of the institution and Erik Loomis does not speak on behalf of the University. The University is committed to fostering a safe, inclusive and equitable culture that aspires to promote positive change.


So the best explication of just exactly why this whole thing is total bullshit comes from a post on a blog called Crooked Timber, which I'd never heard of before about half an hour ago:

Even to suggest that Loomis’s tweet constitutes a “threat of violence” is an offense against the English language. We are dismayed that the university president completely fails to acknowledge the importance of academic freedom and of scholars’ freedom independently to express views (even intemperate ones) on topics of public importance. This statement—unless it is swiftly corrected— should give alarm to scholars at the University of Rhode Island, to scholars who might one day consider associating themselves with this institution, and to academic and professional associations that value academic freedom.


Loomis doesn't have tenure. His livelihood has been jeopardized by this witch hunt.

This is not what academic freedom is supposed to be. I hope you'll consider signing on to the Crooked Timber statement. I have.
elbales: (Default)
Maaaan, it is HOT. Hot hot hot. In Pacifica. *is uncomfortable*

There was a little squirrel who was sprawled on the sidewalk at school this afternoon, trying to cool down. I feel like him.

I hope the forecast of "much cooler" weather for tomorrow holds.
elbales: (Grumpy Zoe - Sluggy Freelance)
I enjoyed seeing the new Spider-Man with friends. I am not enjoying the gigantic explosions being set off like 15 feet from my building, which are in fact so gigantic that they keep setting off someone's car alarm.

I fucking HATE July 4th.

p.s. I called the cops. LOL, fuckers.
elbales: (nap time)
Okay, so. I'm putting this here to solidify my intent, or whatever.

Ongoing Classes at the Feldenkrais Center

Tuesdays - This class is great for people in pain or with physical challenges and anyone who wants to explore the basics
TIME: 12 noon to 1:00 pm


That would be me, yes.
elbales: (Facepalm - Holy Grail)
So that's why no one has been commenting. I changed my LJ password but forgot to change the setting over at DW so that DW could send crosspost requests, and I rarely check my journaling sites inboxes and so didn't see the failure notifications. So my last several posts just went up at LJ. Woops!
elbales: (Geek Dualla - BSG)
Well, okay, not an actual Viking; he was not so much with the pillaging and slaying. But a young man in a Viking helmet, yes. Actually I caught sight of him in the waiting area when I first got to the platform, and I noted on FB that there was a dude in a Viking helmet nearby. "I'm tempted to ask him if he likes Spam," I wrote, but didn't.

And then I met him on the train. Clearly it was fate.

"But do you like Spam?" I asked him.

"Whaaat?" he said, clearly wondering what the weird lady was on about.

"Do you like SPAM?" I repeated.

"...No?"

"Ohmygod, you've never seen the Monty Python Spam sketch?!"

"No, but I love Monty Python."

"YOU MUST YOUTUBE IT. Monty Python. Spam."

And we went our separate ways, happy.

Fin.
elbales: (Please please please!Nine)
So this was me on Facebook about four hours ago:

OH MY GOD I CANNOT EVEN TELL YOU HOW BAD GOOGLE SITES IS PISSING ME OFF RIGHT NOW, I AM STABBIER THAN THE STABBIEST STABBER WHO EVER STABBED, GODDAMN.

Seriously? If you want people to use your tools, those tools have to 1. do what you say they're supposed to do and 2. not suck.

I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS, I'M ON A SHORT TIMETABLE AND MY MATERIALS ARE ALREADY COPIED AND I CANNOT CHANGE THE URL NOW BECAUSE, HELLO, ALREADY COPIED. My presentation is *tomorrow morning*, Google, and only my deep commitment to nonviolence is saving your offices from an actual firebombing. (No, I'd never actually, Mr. FBI Guy.)


And then I commented (on my own entry, yes) to add:

(Like, it is ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS, GOOGLE, that deleted tabs STILL APPEAR ON THE SITE even though if you click them you get a message that says PAGE WAS DELETED N00B LOL and you actually have to go to Manage Site > Deleted items and click the ticky box and choose Delete Permanently and then click FUCK YES WHAT DID I JUST TELL YOU, AGAIN, and THEN the item is finally gone. Even though you would think that if you have the chance to undo a deletion that the item would at least not, you know, APPEAR PUBLICLY, because you, you know, DELETED IT.)


So... yeah. But I made some people laugh, so, you know, all good. Or something like that.
elbales: (WTF cat and tortoise)
So for the last few days, half of everything I eat tastes wrong. Sometimes subtly, sometimes OH DEAR GOD WHAT IS THAT, IT LOOKS CORRECT BUT CLEARLY SOMEONE HAS PUT BIZARRO WORLD SUSHI ON MY PLATE. No changes to meds, either. I have no clue, people, but it is seriously harshing my squee.


(p.s. Non-DW LJ peeps, I have made this a public entry. Could you try commenting here with OpenID? Thankee.)

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