Thursday, April 19, 2012

My High School Report On Albuquerque City Planning

I built lots of cities as a little kid, using old bricks and blocks of leftover lumber as buildings, and toy cars for transportation. Some of these projects became quite involved, with different cultures for different cities, fluctuating borders, and noble histories.

Starting in junior high school, I became more and more interested in the problem of pollution, and in urban planning. Good planning can mitigate a lot of problems, and with my hometown of Albuquerque growing so rapidly, we had lots of problems, and we needed a lot of planning! So many developers, and so little time!

In high school, in response to the imperative of a school assignment, I went down to the Albuquerque City Planning Department, plus the offices of several land developers, and gathered materials for an opus regarding these issues.

My City Planning Report (dated April 29, 1973) was probably the most-important report I ever prepared in high school. It forecasts the trajectory of my entire life! It was even more important than my ginormous 7th-grade junior-high-school report on Nicaragua. I can't believe I got a "D" on it! Nevertheless, from a 21st-Century perspective, this high school report makes for interesting reading!

Left: A picture from page 16 of "Albuquerque Community Renewal Program - Summary Report", prepared by the Albuquerque Planning Department (June, 1970).

I like this picture. What kind of community do you want? You can have the first kind of community - a kind of Southwestern version of Pottersville. A proletarian Volkswagen crossing a dirt thoroughfare with no sidewalks and lined with crappy-looking salt cedar, rendered dusty by winds blowing a huge tumbleweed across it. Or you can have a Bedford Falls kind of place, like in the second picture. Well-watered, lots of cottonwood trees, with amenities like sidewalks and twittering birds. It's all about the planning!

In "Breaking Bad" terms, the first neighborhood is similar to where Combo lives, and the second is (literally) the neighborhood where Jesse Pinkman lives.

This document leaves out a few historical details, like why the second neighborhood is so nice. I don't know the facts myself, but if I had to guess, I'd say it wasn't because of the Albuquerque Planning Department's works, but because of the looming influence of Franz Huning on the second neighborhood's early development. Huning was determined not to live in a bad neighborhood, and he had the swag to push aside anything that didn't look like it fit. Huning's absence is keenly felt: Jesse Pinkman would have been drummed out of the neighborhood in minutes, back in the day! The role of bureaucratic structures like the Albuquerque Planning Department, of course, is to substitute for the beneficent influences of hard-driving patrons of the sort that used to prevail in the 19th Century.

I'm not sure what the folks at the Albuquerque Planning Department made of the owl-eyed kid who showed up at their door one day, but they helpfully provided some glossy documents with impressive-looking flow charts (I particularly like the lush "Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Comprhensive Plan - Metropolitan Environmental Framework": April, 1972). I had the impression that, despite their title, they weren't really in the driver's seat when it came to urban planning in Albuquerque. The real urban planners, the people with the money, and the connections, and that vision thing, were the real estate developers: Falls Land and Development Corporation, Horizon Corporation, and OMIGOD!, the AMREP folks representing the Monstrosity on the Mesa, Rio Rancho! Already, by 1973, Rio Rancho was out-of-control, the land-eating equivalent of last year's Wallow Wildfire, but the documents show the Albuquerque Planning Department was curiously out-of-touch with those contemporary events, and barely-aware Rio Rancho even existed.

Left: Two different estimates of future Albuquerque population. The bullish Kirschner Report (January, 1968: 'Bernalillo County Total Population Projections'), and the more-cautious UNM-COG (University of New Mexico - Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments) Special Report (April, 1973: APJ-1 District, medium population estimate). I wonder who won this particular contest?

Here are the results, using U.S. Census data! APJ-1 District 1 incorporates urban Albuquerque, Bernalillo, Los Lunas, and Belen, so its population is roughly-equivalent to that of Bernalillo County. Census figures (from Wikipedia) are compared to the past estimates. Even though the UNM-COG medium population estimate looks slightly-low, it is still far better than the overly-optimistic Kirschner report's estimate. UNM-COG rules!

I think a lot of people in the 1960's were bedazzled by the growth of Southern California, and Phoenix, and figured the same thing would happen in Albuquerque too. But as I've written elsewhere, Albuquerque is a place that tends to attract impractical dreamers, who start can't-fail businesses that nevertheless fail, or who plan to have lots of kids who somehow never materialize. So, I can't be too hard on the Kirschner folks for their erroneous optimism!

There are number of interesting figures in "The Development Potential of Albuquerque", Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Planning Department, October, 1972. Here is Figure 9, showing the degree of Health Planning. Zone 1 shows where "Health Service Generally Accessible To Population". Zone 2 shows "Inaccessible Or Ineffective Utilization Of Health Services". In Zone 1, people eat three square meals a day, get their vaccinations, and work out regularly. In contrast, Zone 2 is a place of medieval chaos, where diseased children squabble with pigs and dogs over scraps of bread in squalid, filthy courtyards. (Guess which zone I hail from?).

Here is Figure 11 in "The Development Potential of Albuquerque", showing the degree of Emergency Preparedness. Zone 1 is the most adequately prepared. Zone 2 isn't so bad. Zone 3, you're gonna die! (Guess which zone I hail from?)

Here is Figure 66 from the Albuquerque Transportation Study, Wilbur Smith and Associates (May, 1965) showing their idea of where the major roads would be placed in the future.

Interestingly, most of these projections came to pass: Montano Road's expansion, in particular, which I felt was an affront to my sense of how the city should be run when I was a teenager. The forecast missed the full importance of the El Pueblo (Paseo del Norte) and 98th/Ouray corridors, and gave too much weight to the Wyoming Boulevard corridor, and brought El Pueblo in contact with Eubank instead of Tramway (which they call Panorama), and they missed the Rio Rancho connections entirely (per usual for the planners in the 60's), but, by and large, these forecasts came to pass.

There are other hints of the future in these reports. In the "Albuquerque Community Renewal Program - Summary Report" there are recommendations made by Architect and Urban Planner David A. Crane of Philadelphia recommending that Albuquerque expand its number of "collective environments". Two of these three recommendations - a technical-vocational center, together with a sub-regional shopping center, at Osuna and I-25, and a recreational/cultural center near Tingley Park and the Zoo, came to pass. The third: an educational/public services complex in the Model Neighborhood area doesn't seem to have come to fruition, but similar complexes are nearby.

Just as the Albuquerque of 2012 is hazily visible in the planning documents of 1973, the Albuquerque of 2050 is likely hazily visible in the planning documents of today!

This is a great report I wrote! Why did I get a "D"?

Interestingly enough, I wrote some revealing information into the report:
This report was written under bad circumstances. We had three weeks to complete it, but I was unable to get information on it until the last week. It was necessary to get an extension to complete it to my satisfaction(?) The haste in which it was written and the bad lighting conditions under which it was written have caused terminal writer's cramp and nearly illegible handwriting, as you may have noticed (hee-hee!)
Well, that explains it, I guess. No wonder I got a "D"! That's the science training in me: compulsively-honest, even when it did me no good. If this report was done for Humanities class it was completely at odds with the instructor's wishes: data-driven, when he was looking for feelings instead. Getting indulgences and extensions from the teacher worked in the 7th-grade, but 11th grade was different.

Still, it's a great report! I can't believe I got a "D" on it!

Coaxing The Hoarder

(Deep in the basement)

M.: So, it's OK if I take this monitor to the E-Waste recyclers?

E.: Well, hmmmmm, OK. Here, let me dust it off first. It is of the highest quality!

M.: Right! (Maybe highest-quality monitor for 1980...). What about this reel-to-reel tape recorder? Boy, it's so heavy!

E.: I don't think you should take it. Look at it: it's beautiful! It's a collector's item!

M.: I remember seeing tapes around here somewhere in one of these boxes....

E.: No, THIS is the highest-quality tape recorder! It's worth a lot of money!

M.: Right! (Maybe Confederate money....)

One Day At A Time

I'm only human, I'm just a woman
Help me believe in what I could be
And all that I am
Show me the stairway I have to climb
Lord for my sake, help me to take
One day at a time
MMMMMMAAAAARRRRRRCCCCC! That's so TRUE TO LIFE! Do you know what I mean?

M.: (distracted by Sudoku puzzle) Sounds good!

E.: Chris says it's my best song! But last weekend at the VFW someone else took it. He dresses just like Willie Nelson!

M.: Sounds good!

E.: I said 'hey wait, that's my song!' But he just laughed.

M.: Sounds good!

Jetta Got An Armband In San Francisco Today

M.: So, with the armband, you get entry into the San Francisco X-Factor auditions on Friday?

J.: Yes, but it's a pain in the ass to have to go all the way down to the Cow Palace just to get the armband, and come all the way back. I wish they didn't do it like this, where you have to get the armband in advance!

M.: But it's always fun to go to San Francisco!

J.: Hmmmppphhh. Some fun. You try it. But I ran into people who had seen me on TV. They say they'll get in touch, but they never seem to. Maybe it'll be different this time?

This Is How I Spend My Mornings

But with pigeons instead of chickens.

Blinded By The Science

Sorry I haven't posted much lately. I was looking at a technical presentation regarding the chemical composition of wintertime Fairbanks, Alaska aerosol particles, when I realized their behavior closely fits a standard textbook presentation of the ammonia - nitric acid - sulfuric acid - water system (in its ammonia-poor mode). Blows my socks off! They've been working on this project for years, but no one seems to have really noticed this angle before. Exciting!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

So, When Did FOX News Turn Against Newt Gingrich?

So I guess you'll have to talk to the hand for even posing a question:
During a private campaign event at Wesley College in Delaware last week, the former House Speaker had asserted that News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch had personally turned Fox News against him.

“I think Fox has been for Romney all the way through,” Gingrich opined. “In our experience, Callista and I both believe CNN is less biased than FOX this year. We are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are of Fox, and we’re more likely to get distortion out of Fox. That’s just a fact.”

Fox News chief Roger Ailes later told an audience at the University of North Carolina (UNC) that Gingrich was “trying to get a job at CNN because he knows he isn’t going to get to come back to Fox News.”

The Daily Tarheel’s Memet Walker hoped to get a reaction from the candidate when he sat down with him in Greensboro, North Carolina on Saturday.

“His aide gave no preconditions; no topics were off limits,” Walker wrote. “That’s why I was so surprised when, before I had finished asking my first question, that same aide cut the interview short and prompted Secret Service to grab and briefly detain me as the former speaker was led away.”

The reporter explained that he had been detained after questioning the candidate about Ailes.

“But before I even had a chance on Saturday to relay Ailes’ comments, his aide pressed his hands against me, and several Secret Service agents stopped me in my tracks,” Walker recalled.

“You’re not asking that,” the aide reportedly said. “You’re done.”
Yet, as I recall last October, while Rick Perry and Herman Cain cratered, the only reason Gingrich had a candidacy going was because he had critical support from FOX News:
Fox is the preeminent political information source for Republican primary voters, and while its reputation for partisanship is well understood, it also sets the terms of debate within the Republican Party.

Fox’s treatment of Ron Paul is an extreme example of how this works. In 2008, after he netted a surprisingly respectable 10 percent in the Iowa caucuses, Paul was barred from Fox’s pivotal pre-New Hampshire debate – even as Rudy Giuliani, who had finished with just four percent in Iowa, was allowed in. And when Paul was threatening to win this year’s caucuses, Fox went after him hard. Presumably, it was his unorthodox views on foreign policy and national security that made Paul unacceptable.

By comparison, Fox’s disses of Gingrich have been less blunt, but the overall effect of the coverage – sympathetic to Romney and hostile to the former speaker – hasn’t been hard to pick up on if you’ve watched Fox much these past few months. The best way to understand this is probably to go back and re-read Gabriel Sherman’s New York magazine piece on Roger Ailes from last May. Sherman detailed how the Fox News chairman had been determined to use his channel to develop potential Obama challengers for 2012 only to grow dismayed by the results:
All the 2012 candidates know that Ailes is a crucial constituency. “You can’t run for the Republican nomination without talking to Roger,” one GOPer told me. “Every single candidate has consulted with Roger.” But he hasn’t found any of them, including the adults in the room—Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney—compelling. “He finds flaws in every one,” says a person familiar with his thinking.

“He thinks things are going in a bad direction,” another Republican close to Ailes told me. “Roger is worried about the future of the country. He thinks the election of Obama is a disaster. He thinks Palin is an idiot. He thinks she’s stupid. He helped boost her up. People like Sarah Palin haven’t elevated the conservative movement.”
Ailes apparently saw great potential in Chris Christie, and spent much of 2011 trying to persuade him to run. But when Christie, after flirting with a late-starting bid, decided once and for all in October not to run, it became clear that the GOP field was set – and that Romney, for all of his flaws, was the party’s most (and probably only) bankable general election option. This helps explain Fox’s generally helpful coverage of his campaign. And it explains why Fox’s coverage helped to deflate the Gingrich bubble in early December and again after the January 21 South Carolina primary, the two occasions when he seemed like a real threat to steal the nomination.
So, what happened? Did Gingrich get too arrogant? Did Murdoch and Ailes change their minds? Why? And when? Early December?

Secret Service now wants to wrestle ME to the ground!

What's New Over At Badtux?

Badtux wonders if this is the world's youngest drummer? I don't know, but I wish I could play as well as her.

The age gaps between the kids is the same as in the family I grew up in. I wish I had thought of this when I was ten years old!

Badtux adds:
Okay, this is just friggin' awesome. The little girl is five years old and has some righteous beats. The other two kids are 8 and 10 years old and handle their instruments quite well. This is a cover of industrial metal band Rammstein's song "Sonne", mostly in the original German. Happy to do my part to make this video go viral ;).

Worried About This Embedding Thing

I don't know how seriously to worry about this thing, but it has the potential to completely-unhinge how bloggers work:
At Ars Technica, Tim Lee has the report on a disturbing lawsuit, now joined by the Motion Picture Association of America, which would make simply embedding videos—not hosting them—a copyright infringement. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is considering appeals by Google, Facebook, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge of a decision made by a federal judge last year that it is "possible to directly infringe copyright by embedding an image or video hosted by a third party."
Of course, I embed videos on this blog almost every day, many of which I have no clue regarding their copyright status.

If they are after monetization efforts, why don't they go after those? (That's among the reasons I never monetize anything on this blog - money just causes troubles.) But if they go after embedding, then it's off to Gitmo with everyone, I suppose! But they'll have to drag me there the entire way. I won't give up readily!

"Titanic - The Musical" - DMTC - Final Dress Rehearsal (V)

Banner Day For "Titanic - The Musical" Reviews!

First, the Sacramento Press (h/t, John). Note that the reviewer got the name wrong regarding cheer instructors (should be Jenny Plasse and Travis Nagler):
Yes, the ship still hits an iceberg and more than 1,500 souls are lost, but Isaacson has ratcheted up the drama with the aid of enhanced scenic effects (designed by Isaacson and Mark Deamer), including a winch-and-pulley operated 36-by-10-foot platform that reaches a 45-degree angle some 20 feet off the stage.

“Every single scene where it was tilted last time is twice as high,” said Isaacson. “It stretches from the main stage all the way up to the light bars. At one point, actor David Holmes, who plays ship’s designer Thomas Andrews, is literally holding on for his life.”

...“We cover the entire stage,” said Isaacson, who credits carpenter shop lead Michael Karoly for making the magic happen.

...While Isaacson admits that an all-volunteer crew can’t usually outshine a professional, Equity staff, he says he’d lay odds that his troupes – especially his current tech staff, 20-piece orchestra and 55-member cast – equal or even top any local company when it comes to passion and “heart.”

Among the specialty performers Isaacson has tapped for his second voyage with “Titanic” are Jenny Plasse and Doug Barbieri, cheer instructors at University of California, Davis, who have worked with choreographer Jacob Montoya to create a dazzling routine featuring athletic lifts and flips.
And Bev Sykes' review too!:
There were plenty of things that could go wrong, but nothing did. The technical glitches from last time didn’t materialize, the things that hadn’t worked were eliminated. Everything else worked like clockwork (or if it didn’t, the audience wasn’t aware of problems).

...Among the outstanding performances was Dan Masden as Frederick Barrett, the stoker, who sends his proposal by telegraph home to his sweetheart. His “Barrett’s Song” was a highlight.

Likewise, Amber Jean Moore as Alice, a second-class passenger, wife of Edgar (Scott Griffith), is marvelous as a star-struck woman who longs to rub elbows with the likes of John Jacob Astor (Mark Deamer) or Benjamn Guggenheim (Rich Kulmann).

The always wonderful Marguerite Morris plays two roles, paired with Scott Minor both times, which is a little confusing. As a German couple, Morris and Minor are very moving in their duet “Still.”

A glance at the newspaper reproductions in the lobby will make it obvious that Joel Porter was a perfect choice to play Capt. E.J. Smith. Not only does he resemble him, but he sings the part very well.

Kyle Hadley brings the same life and enthusiasm to the character of Bandmaster Wallace Hartley as he did to Nicely Nicely Johnson in “Guys and Dolls.” His “Doing the Latest Rag” was lots of fun. Kudos to Jacob Montoya for the choreography.

Andy Hyun was wonderful as Charles Clark, headed off to America with his girlfriend (Rebecca Wilson), where they plan to be married.

Jenny Reuter was cute as one of the three Irish Kates headed to America to find jobs as ladies’ maids.

Adam Sartain as Bruce Ismay, the director of the White Star Line, spends the entire voyage angry that the ship isn’t going faster, convinced that there would never be a danger to the passengers. His barely controlled rage was at times a little over the top.

David Holmes is Thomas Andrews, the designer of the ship, so proud as his creation sails off into the North Atlantic, so frustrated when he stands on the tilting deck of the ship, wondering where it all went wrong.

...While the ship Titanic may have sunk 100 years ago, DMTC’s “Titanic: The Musical” will sail effortlessly through the remaining days of its run.
Interesting about the comment regarding Adam's performance. I thought Adam was a bit over the top too, but that was the charm of the performance. How could Adam resist the rich potential of the role? Probably not completely-true to the history, but that's theater for you!

Carbon Is So Trampy....

(h/t Michelle S.)

My Hands Hurt

It looks like Tyehimba is moving his typical, weekly African Drumming session (which is distinct from the Saturday class) from Friday to Monday, so even though I was battered and beat after Pepper's Monday evening's Cardio Step class (still not fully-recovered from my cold), I found myself back at the Step One health studio at 9 p.m. last night for an hour and a half of Djembe drill. Bass, tone-tone, slap; Bass, tone, tone, slap. Endless! And it doesn't even sound right, either. Can't get the hang of the slap....

They lent me a Djembe to practice on this week. My poor neighbors! (Serves them right!)

The replacement drum rings just arrived downstairs here at work. Weather's warming up. Soon, time to put the goat skin on my own Djembe, so I can return the practice Djembe to Tyehimba, and annoy the neighbors every night!

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Titanic - The Musical" - DMTC - Final Dress Rehearsal (IV)

What's Vanessa Born Up To These Days?

I was wondering, what is Vanessa Born doing these days?

Vanessa was in two shows at DMTC, in 2001: West Side Story (Anita), and Peter Pan (Tiger Lilly). After that, for two years, she was part of the Sacramento Kings Dance Team.

After the Kings, it looks like she went to Hollywood, and had lots of success! Here is a reel of some of her work (middle part NSFW because of language).


From Elephant Dung Comes Paper

I was trying to track down various acquaintances I once knew on the Web. One person (N.) is apparently now promoting the use of paper made from elephant dung. How interesting! Irresistible, actually. Instead of rock-paper-scissors, it's more like elephant-paper-scissors:
Mr. Ellie Pooh LLC is an eco-friendly Fair Trade company making exotic gifts and paper made partially out of elephant poo! Elephants in Sri Lanka are being killed at an alarming rate. Humans are encroaching on elephant habitats and cutting down trees. When elephants come looking for food, they are shot and killed.

Our mission is to is to reduce some of the Human/Elephant conflict that is ongoing. We plan to open handmade paper facilities in rural areas, train local villagers to make paper and hire artisans to embellish our goods. We believe that this newly created industry can directly contribute to the local economy. Our hopes are that such an initiative will self educate the villagers into living, working and respecting the elephant. Have them look at the elephants more as an asset instead of as a threat.

Titanic Miniseries Apparently Not As Rousing A Success As The Movie

Too many people to drown, and not enough time:
So many characters, in fact, representing so many issues — the Russian anarchist's story line is particularly ridiculous — all colliding on the tilting decks and struggling to say the words they never said and get their womenfolk into the boats that it's difficult to care too much about one death or the other (although the children who did not get into boats remain heartbreaking).

"Titanic - The Musical" - DMTC - Final Dress Rehearsal (III)