Friday, June 8, 2012

The Blogger’s Dilemma

 It’s every blogger’s dilemma, all week you’re full of ideas and, for that matter, yourself, throwing off brilliant comments about this and that. Smart, crisp, erudite, pithy remarks about the state of the dark urban world and how you are the only one with a flashlight. Then comes blog day and you haven’t a clue what to write. I don’t want this to come off as an early Noodling but let’s see what I can scrape up. Most are softballs.

California High Speed Rail: NO even to stage one. But this does remind me of the story of when Teddy Roosevelt was trying to get an increase to his defense budget when he sent the fleet to the Philippines. There was only enough fuel for a one way-trip. He demanded and then got the appropriation and a little more so the fleet could return. Is this what’s happening with HSR in California, build the core infrastructure (Central Valley maintenance, and switching and a few miles of track) in the heart of California, hundreds of miles from a large urban area and then demand the rest of the money to connect the system? I’m just asking.

The Electric Car: Reality is sinking in. “Hon, time to replace the battery in the Volt, do we have enough left on the equity line?”  Replacement costs for batteries will kill the used car side of the market. Nothing is free, just ask all the people sucking up electricity at Starbucks. I’m waiting for recharge stations at Starbucks drive-through’s. And again, why is it that a government entity (state, county, city) be the ones required to install recharge stations? I would only support them if, like parking meters, they charge an-arm-a-leg for the service and make serious $$$ for the municipality. And I ask you, if you have a dealer’s lot full of Nissan Leafs, is it proper to call them Leafs or Leaves.

The rise in urban bikers: If there is one lobby that wants something for nothing it’s bicyclists. There more bike coalitions (Why that term? Biker gang has more panache.) demanding this and that than any other urban group, Demands such as new bike lanes, bike storage, parking, etc. all at the expense of other transit needs. I call for a license fee for ALL bikes in the state of California. Say $20 to start. This would be used for trails, bike lanes, and storage. It would also create a state database that would help track down your $4,000 Schwinn when it’s stolen. We license dogs, hairdressers, and landscape architects why not a fee for bikes, and that includes that cute pink one in the garage for your daughter. I had to buy a license for my bike back in the fifties in Illinois - this ain't a new concept. There will be no escape from this odious fee (I’ll be the first to call it that). Then maybe they’ll start to act more civilized as they scare the hell out of car drivers on popular bike circuits as they course through town in those hideous outfits – again the term Biker Gangs comes to mind.

After? Brown and Olive my two favorite colors!
Urban Art: Why is it that most urban art is as interesting as mud on a fence? My little town (Walnut Creek, Ca.) went through a long process of trying to find an artist or artists to redo some fountains on our Main Street. These were built years ago and did need a face lift. The results are without a doubt just lame. To me urban art is about raising ideas, honoring an ideal, or just plain fun. It should stir the soul or cause you to pause, maybe to laugh, or even think. I suggest it’s not there to make you wonder WHY? For the Main Street of a town I go for fun and interesting. The before was old and tired, the new is just, well, just lame. And it certainly, unlike the old, doesn’t welcome you to sit. Another missed opportunity, and what were they thinking?

Omaha Beach, Normandy, France
 And lastly, Wednesday this week was the 6th of June, the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Day’s like December 7th and September 9th will remain in our history as long as there are memories. This invasion of France on the beaches of Normandy changed the war and changed the course of history. To stand in the cemetery at Omaha Beach is transformative, to look over that huge width of beach from the bluffs, you wonder how anyone survived. Take a moment and thank those who gave up everything for us. For them failure was not an option.

Stay Tuned . . . .

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