Solar powered kitchen in Auroville
November 28, 2018, 1:17 am
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already-there travel
September 22, 2018, 2:37 pm
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Image result for car interior photography comic tintin

In the pool at East 54th Street swimming laps, I used to make ratios of the total with each lap completed: four laps of eighty is five percent, eight laps ten percent and so on. I had a feeling of lethargy and dread at the lower percentages and a sort of sustained thrill by the time I hit the eighties and nineties. Eventually I realized that throughout my swim, by concentrating on the end goal I was pretty consistently anxious.

So, I made a conscious effort to concentrate on the number itself instead of it’s relationship to my end goal of eighty laps. The anxiety subsided considerably.

The Buddhists say focus on the air flowing in and out of your nose and you will be withdrawn from the anxiousness of your day and into the calm of meditation.

It’s the same with a trip. Are you seduced by your new car – it’s sexy interior, the purr of the engine – and then quickly let down when you realize you’re still on your dull daily commute? Or maybe you concentrate on your final goal and are frustrated with all the little things you have to do on the way: the tickets, waiting, lines, smelly armpits, delays, breakdowns, etc.

Maybe adjust your thinking as the Buddhists suggest to see what elemental and interesting things are happening near you and in real time. Watch the world in its tragic beauty unfold in front of you, breathe in, breathe out, live.

Not the usual starting point for transportation planners. In planning circles, some officials talk about more transit or smarter highways or bigger airports; everybody talks about shorter commutes. Yet wherever they fall on what we now call the “sustainability” continuum, most planners, as Hiss underscores, hold on to the highly instrumentalist, technocratic thinking that prioritizes the getting-from-here-to-there, with little regard for the experiencing-on-the-way. Car manufacturers, of course, want us to fetishize the vehicle, promoting fantasies of power, agility and status: with the right car or truck or car-truck combo, you won’t be a commuter — you’ll be a savvy, sexy thrill-seeker. Hiss is keenly aware that the fantasy rarely feels true; most of the time you really are just a commuter, and if you’re unlucky, you’ll be on a roadway both stressful and dull, where it’s the distractions, from relatively benign radio to dangerous texting, that make it bearable. This is, in Hiss’s description, “already-there travel,” an inconvenient intermission from “real” life. Travel that is unvalued; hence his exploration of how we might make this experience more.

Ray Gastil, In Motion: The Experience of Travel

your city parks
November 22, 2015, 3:40 pm
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From the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation:

NYC Parks is the steward of approximately 29,000 acres of land — 14 percent of New York City — including more than 5,000 individual properties ranging from Coney Island Beach and Central Park to community gardens and Greenstreets. We operate more than 800 athletic fields and nearly 1,000 playgrounds, 550 tennis courts, 66 public pools, 48 recreational facilities, 17 nature centers, 13 golf courses, and 14 miles of beaches. We care for 1,200 monuments and 23 historic house museums. We look after 650,000 street trees, and two million more in parks. We are New York City’s principal providers of recreational and athletic facilities and programs. We are home to free concerts, world-class sports events, and cultural festivals.

8.4 million people live in New York City (2013 census). Here is the per capita breakdown:

8.4 m  / 29,000 acres of parkland = 289 people per acre of parkland

8.4 m  / 800 athletic fields = 10,500 people per field

8.4 m  / 1,000 playgrounds = 8,400 people per playground

8.4 m  / 550 tennis courts = 15,273 tennis players per court

8.4 m  / 66 public pools = 127,273 swimmers per pool

8.4 m  / 48 recreational facilities = 175,000 people per rec center

8.4 m  / 17 nature centers = 494,118 nature lovers per nature center

8.4 m  / 13 golf courses = 646,154 golfers per course

8.4 m  / 14 miles of beach = 600,000 beach lovers per mile of beach

8.4 m  / 1,200 monuments = 7,000 civilians per monument

8.4 m  / 23 historic house museums = 365,217 history buff per museum

8.4 m  / 650,000 street trees = 13 trees per resident

Of course not 100% of the populace is interested in each of these institutions and facilities, but these numbers reflect two generations of disinvestment in all things public.

Subway skyscraper
November 21, 2015, 3:17 pm
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good outcomes for higher taxes
January 6, 2015, 7:28 pm
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Here is the last paragraph of Eric Jaffe’s article on gas taxes in the US. It projects some very good outcomes for higher gasoline taxes:

But in the long-run Americans would see some very real benefits from a price of gas that most closely reflected the true cost of driving. Fewer loved ones killed in car crashes. Healthier pregnancies and babies. More time spent with family and friends. Better access to jobs, and perhaps as productivity increased, higher wages. More livable developments and, with them, slimmer waistlines. Cleaner and quieter air. The sorts of things we can’t fit in our purses or wallets, but which cost us dearly just the same.

The Real Reason U.S. Gas Is So Cheap Is Americans Don’t Pay the True Cost of Driving, A gas tax that fully corrected for the social impact of car reliance would upend life as we know it, Eric Jaffe

gas tax
January 6, 2015, 7:20 pm
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Tscharaktschiew, Economics of Transportation (2014)

who owns the street?
January 4, 2015, 3:09 pm
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I recently saw a guy in an oversize pickup almost hit a girl while turning a corner. He yelled at her – watch where you’re going, you’ll get yourself killed – in his mind it was her fault. Some of us onlookers yelled back at him and he drove off. He wasn’t used to not getting his two tonne way.
Below is a history of what it used to be like: manslaughter charges, the driver responsible not the pedestrian, streets for multiple uses, fatalities a public issue. Car lobbies changed all that and might became right and today we have bullies in a playground.

It wasn’t always like this. Browse through New York Times accounts of pedestrians dying after being struck by automobiles prior to 1930, and you’ll see that in nearly every case, the driver is charged with something like “technical manslaughter.” And it wasn’t just New York. Across the country, drivers were held criminally responsible when they killed or injured people with their vehicles.


“If you ask people today what a street is for, they will say cars,” says Norton. “That’s practically the opposite of what they would have said 100 years ago.”


“If a child is struck and killed by a car in 2012, it is treated as a private loss, to be grieved privately by the family,” Norton says. “Before, this stuff was treated as a public loss – much like the death of soldiers.” Mayors dedicated monuments to the victims of traffic crimes, accompanied by marching bands and children dressed in white, carrying flowers.


Norton explains that in the automobile’s earliest years, the principles of common law applied to crashes. In the case of a collision, the larger, heavier vehicle was deemed to be at fault. The responsibility for crashes always lay with the driver.


The industry lobbied to change the law, promoting the adoption of traffic statutes to supplant common law. The statutes were designed to restrict pedestrian use of the street and give primacy to cars. The idea of “jaywalking” – a concept that had not really existed prior to 1920 – was enshrined in law.

The current configuration of the American street, and the rules that govern it, are not the result of some inevitable organic process. “It’s more like a brawl,” says Norton. “Where the strongest brawler wins.”

The Invention of Jaywalking, The forgotten history of how the auto industry won the right of way for cars, Sarah Goodyear