24 June 2011

Life at the Speed of Rail

The Van Alen Institute in New York is conducting a competition asking the question, "How will high-speed rail change American life in the coming decades?" They go on to ask, "At this critical moment for American infrastructure, Van Alen Institute calls on the international design community to envision the cultural, environmental and economic impact of a new rail network."

BEFORE - I-980 with underutilized 5-lanes (and option for at least 8 lanes)

AFTER - WITH rail and possible station - I-980 reduced to 4 lanes. Other half used for rail.

So my good friend Daniel Dunigan and I answered the call and submitted an entry. They asked for either a short video or a poster size image. We opted for the poster. We concentrated on two or three ideas:

1. We must decide now whether or not to build a high speed rail (HSR) network. Deciding not to build it could have more significant negative outcomes than building it.
2. When the system is being built, it will likely built incrementally, not as a complete system as often touted. Building incrementally allows for the cost to be spread out over time. However, for HSR to work well, at least 1/3 or 1/2 of the central segment of the line needs to be built. Building it now while gas prices are not too high (they will get higher) is CRITICAL to MAINTAINING a flexible and healthy ECONOMY for the country and regions with HSR.

Just remember, the highway system and the patchwork of airports was built over decades. HSR can be done the same way as long as critical spine segments are built to ensure feasible routes.

3. Incremental construction will help reduce or spread out costs, but also, we need to think creatively on how to select right-of-ways, build the system, and select station locations. HSR stations are major economic hubs, so the location of them is critical, but also reducing construction costs are critical.
To keep costs down, we have shown how an underutilized freeway can be converted to become both a freeway and a rail right of way as shown in the image. above.

The posterboard entry we submitted is below.

02 June 2011

Revisiting the humor of Iceland

Just looked at some of my old posts. Check out one of my favorites on Reyka Vodkas hilarious web ads dating back to 2007. Links have been updated and more fun stuff added including music, more videos, and images. Click here to jump to the post.
Picture book styling on web site

I did in fact buy some Reyka Vodka - and it is indeed tasty and clean.

The ad company has also done work for our local vodka, Hanger One!

If you'd like to "Release the Kraken" check out the app by the designers of Reyka's website! Now I really wish I had an iPhone!

01 June 2011

Tehachapi Loops

I took the train down to Los Angeles a couple of months ago. Little did I know that the Coast Starlight would become the "future HSR path through San Joaquin Valley and over Tehachapi Pass".

Follow the link to Flickr to see the photos and videos taken along the way. And yes, the Tehachapi Loop was quite "fun" and exciting in slow motion.

Coast Starlight through Central California


By the way, the two best things about the trip:

1: Scenic Tehachapi pass with its green covered mountains, and passing so many freight trains
2: Being greeted in Los Angeles' Union Station by my wife. Always feels better than being picked up at the airport, even if the journey is longer.

Street Stranger Chats

I was walking down the street, just into my second bight into a 3-Musketeers candy bar, when a fellow walking alongside me said,

"I love those candy bars... that's a Milky Way right?"

I responded that it was a 3-Musketeers, but yes, the candy bars, they can be nice.

"I'm going organic today." - he showed me a banana half eaten

He then scooted ahead, but when he passed a car getting a ticket, he slowed down so I came up with him again. I won't bore you with the details, but apparently he sent "comedic" negative body language to the meter-person even though it wasn't his car. He ended by describing a story of seeing a strikingly tall, confident, attractive woman who was bald. His first though, "cancer". Then he thought- must not think negatively- it must be a person with a higher level of consciousness. That's positive.

We talked a few moments in front of my apartment building about this consciousness idea. He finally took off, at which point a woman (not bald) coming in the opposite direction said,

"What's the temperature?"

I didn't know the number, but I said it was San Francisco. She pulled her jacket tighter, and said, "it's getting chilly and breezy".

It was still sunny, but indeed breezy and a tiny bit chilly.

The strange vibe I felt during all of this was that I was sending out a vibe that made people want to talk to me, and maybe, just maybe, that they would feel better if they did.

Just a thought.