Hidden no more

Yesterday’s ribbon cutting ceremony by the South Dakota Department of Transportation commemorates the long awaited highway to the back side of Mt. Rushmore.

The view behind Mt. Rushmore

An ‘efficient’ food supply

Sara at Down To Earth Blog is wondering about our food. She raises quality small-lot beef.

Study shows some meat/dairy is more efficient than total vegetarian diet

“One of the issues that people often bring up to me as a beef producer is the “footprint” of eating meat versus a strictly vegetarian diet. I know that my cattle are raised on land that could not be (or should not be) used for any sort of cultivation, but I’ve been looking for some good research reports on the subject. I got some leads from friends at the American Farmland Trust.

“A study at Cornell University looked at a range of diets in terms of how much of New York’s population could be fed by food produced within the state.

“Although a strictly vegetarian diet uses the least total land mass, a diet that includes some meat and dairy is more efficient in terms of total land use and sustainability. The reason is that fruits, vegetables and grains must be grown on high-quality cropland. Meat and dairy products from ruminant animals are supported by lower quality, but more widely available, land that can support pasture and hay.

This is news to me. Vegetarian friends will find it impossible to believe that livestock may be necessary in order to feed us all.

The wonder of systems and ecology is how often one approach buggers the other approach. Our brutish industrialization has damaged many things. We look for solutions, but it’s not easy.

Pound-miles and Person-miles

It was easy to be radical in the ’70s, the early ’70s. We all knew we needed new and no one had yet been made afraid of new ideas or lost their shirt in the game of change.

I and my crew erected an exhibit for the American Institute of Architects 1973 convention in the state’s Museum of California History in Oakland (their joke website here). The museum’s vast Great Hall became a ‘Main Street’ with a dozen ‘storefronts’ on each side as high as 25 feet. Each decade from the 1900’s was on display.

America, the planned developmentHistorical pieces and artifacts of each era were props, such as a turn-of-the-century sidewalk clock, a mid-century neon sign or an early retailer’s aluminum window frame with it’s painted poster of 12 Eggs for 49 Cents, pallets of boxes and a great variety of goods, a classic car. From a collection of photographs, flyers, adverts, drawings and public records spread over a work area the size of a football field, staff and docents edited tens of thousands of pieces over several weeks to display our world for just the few days of the AIA gathering. Money was different then.

A 40ft arch was over the entry, Americaville, painted in red, white & blue. I don’t remember if 500 or 1,000 architects arrived opening night. I was enjoying the white wine and truly jumbo prawns. A few architects were angry with this exhibit. I remember their scorn. Most were intrigued and impressed because I remember their quizzical frowns and praise.

America, the GridThe entire large room was showing error, decade by decade, where architecture was losing to planning and planning was lost to transportation.

The exhibits were the actual pieces and records, undeniably easy to see that asphalt and concrete and utilities were the prow of our towns while architectural scale and human living had become an unimportant afterthought. This exhibit disturbed the members, pointing to the destruction of human community, the erasure of detail and art, the dominance of brand and cheaper brands on skies of advertising, the rude criss-cross of highways and stark roads to parking lots, the other tiki-taki, the staccato-timing of human travel, the mechanization of our bones and tissue, the rude intrusion of a handful of mass distributors and their enabling King Car…!

In one century we have re-worked America into a damn grid and a warehouse.

Merely keeping it lit is pilfering our pockets. Confused and bewildered, we truly need GPS gadgets to peek from the sky. It was clear then and it’s clear now that intermodal, multinodal and consumer transportation has changed our living more than any penciled neighborhood or artful facade. We said in this 70s exhibit that planning and architecture had lost its potency to become a minor usher on a huge moneyed floor we see all around us.

America, the WarehouseIn the development game, it’s not architecture or design, however pretty or smart each fashion or style. It’s TPD. Trips Per Day, the fundamental term that is the actuary of distribution hubs and the feasibility of malls for the proximity of our hastily built homes.
Every product and every person is part of millions and billions and trillions of trips.

Every day developers lure and capture these trips. We ask for very little else. There’s much inefficient cost and overhead in this buzz to focus our cash. It will not be fixed by worker payroll or the margins of the Big Three versus Foreign Imports. It’s not fixed bullying OPEC’s gasoline or being bullied by Cargill’s ethanol. Nor with hybrids from mailorder showrooms nor a new trillion dollar electric grid. None of these will make us solvent nor sustainable unless we re-work trips.

An entire shift “back to the land” isn’t needed. Bio-fiber tents and solar television and filtering our water through a straw? Power plants or lettuce farms on rooftops may not be needed everywhere, but why not a few? Breakthrough ideas will come along here and there without breaking our future or blindly hoisting another empire atop us again and again. For many of us, local is old and new again. Local foods. Local workspace. Local culture and education. Local humanity. For these, we’ll need local leaders again.

America, the Costly Grid and WarehouseFailing to require ‘total accounting’ is the true free ride. Lifecycle and impact costs, some are runaway, can easily be controlled along with keeping the books on production and distribution and triple-net profits.

Society is coughing up while profiteers and shareholders are long gone. But that’s another story.

We waste too much weight and time in distance.

For our goods, for our services, for our work and our fun too, a tremendous first step in our energy and impact crisis is merely counting all the steps. And trips.

From Wiki, on Trips Per Day

The Institute of Transportation Engineers‘s Trip Generation informational report provides trip generation rates for numerous land use and building types. The planner can add local adjustment factors and treat mixes of uses with ease. Ongoing work is adding to the stockpile of numbers; over 4000 studies were aggregated for the current edition.

ITE Procedures estimate the number of trips entering or exiting a site at a given time (sometimes the number entering and exiting combined is estimated). ITE Rates are functions of type of development, and square footage, number of gas pumps, number of dwelling units, or other standard measurable things, usually produced in site plans. They are typically of the form Trips = a + b * Area OR Trips = a + bln(Area). They do not consider location, competitors, complements, the cost of transportation, or many other obviously likely important factors. They are often estimated based on very few observations (a non-statistically significant sample). Many localities require their use to ensure adequate public facilities for growth management and subdivision approval.

Other keywords and phrases:

Per capita person trips per day…

The average household trip rate is 11.1 trips per day (all modes), but vary over the week. Mondays are the lowest, with 10.1 trips per day…

Traffic estimates for a planned Wal-Mart suggest that the store won’t overburden nearby roads… 2000 trips per day and ultimately over 16000 trips per day, obviously requiring an enlarged roadway…

Increase in vehicles trips per day: (Note: The applicant may be required to provide the necessary engineering studies…)

Americans average 9.7 trips per day per household.

Bend The Rules

Bend The Rules RulerThere is nothing better than bending rules accurately!

The Bend The Rules Ruler is made of stainless steel in Bananistan.

Calling Pets Names

Petfinder’s annual list of popular pet names!

Top 10 Most Unusual Names
1. Woe Izmee
2. Gwyneth Poultry (a duck)
3. SoSueMe
4. 54cent Swee’T
5. Iamaredneckwoman
6. Angry Chef Soup
7. Ms. Cornflake Especially
8. Bon Jo Flea
9. McLovin
10. Joe the Plumber

Top 10 Most Unusual Group Names
1. Domino, Ditto, Etcetera, And-so-on and An-so-forth
2. Ebay, Google, Yahoo and Spam
3. Felony, Warrant and Trespass
4. The Xerox puppies
5. Chiclit, TicTac, Extra, Wrigley and BigRed
6. Elbow-Toe and Neck Face
7. Sara, Andi and Patti (“Serendipity”)
8. Footloose and Fancy Free
9. Noodle, Macaroni and Spaghetti
and, rescued from puppy mills,
10. Barney Miller, Nicole Miller and Sienna Miller

Top 10 Most Popular Dog Names
1. Buddy (805)
2. Max (620)
3. Daisy (588)
4. Jack (520)
5. Lucy (496)
6. Molly (476)
7. Charlie (431)
8. Sadie (415)
9. Jake (407)
10. Lucky (405)

Top 10 Most Popular Cat Names
1. Lucy (354)
2. Molly (328)
3. Oreo (320)
4. Kittens (318)
5. Smokey (315)
6. Princess (312)
7. Shadow (310)
8. Tigger (310)
9. Angel (309)
10. Missy (301)

Snide Scissors

Bush has edited public documents dealing with support for the war between 2003 and 2005, removed original documents, altered them and replaced them with backdated modifications that only appear to be originals.

Illinois University reports

“Our intention was to alert scholars and journalists who rely on government documents to let them know the facts have been tampered with.”

“I think that it raises the question of whether or not we can trust the government to maintain public records of things that were said or done that later prove embarrassing,” Illinois political science professor Scott Althaus said.

“It could be what we found is limited. But if it is not, it certainly opens the finding up to larger questions.”

Autos In Reverse

Propaganda in the USA is too easy. How it’s happened I don’t know, but workers and their perks are taking blame for crippling US automakers.

Retired personnel are perceived as greedy deadweight and current employees are intimidated not only by their bosses but by the mood of the country. Foreign firms are cited for efficiency, praised for locating where they pay less and provide few benefits while pumping profits to handfuls of lenders and shareholders.

I think our perception is upside down. Workers have too little.

Should #1
After several generations building a terrific industry we should be defending and elevating our American workers. They should be both rich and proud after all these years and we should be glad of it!

Should #2
We should be preserving autoworker gains, seeing their prizes as a damn pittance, praising every effort to keep upward mobility and damning every dollar sucked into the one-percent layer that cries as easily as it steals.

Should #3
Decades have passed. It’s clear, employees have too little. In society and industry, we should be demanding much more.

The Health Exam Gift

Planned Parenthood has launched Gift Certificates for health care, annual exams for women, including Pap tests and breast exams, but only in Indiana.

Many many folks could use a basic health care checkup. Many folks could benefit from frank and honest sex talk, a refresher on social disease prevention and contraception. Magazines, newspapers and media have backed away from coverage to accede to a few demanding fundamentalists.

Why not a Gift Certificate program? Why not send a Health Gift Certificate to Alaska’s Sarah Palin and other ostrich governors to distribute to isolated young people forgotten by a bloated medical bureaucracy? Cities and counties could provide chits to the homeless.

Ninety-five percent of visits to Planned Parenthood are for basic health care, not abortions, where counsel and early detection is an important service our society is too lazy to provide across the board.

Bombarded with Wrong

Why is the parade of bowtie pundits and agenda celebrities not made liable for errors that take from our pockets?

Why didn’t more experts see the Crash of 2008? Why was nothing done? So many have been leading us toward weakness. Yes, their gain is our loss.

Take Arthur Laffer – the Trickle-Down economist.

Or Ben Stein, the sometimes-economist and sometimes-comedian, who advised buying financials in 2007. He suggested Merrill Lynch. for example. That’s not funny.

Breadlines are long and cold.

“The present crisis is too enormous to be laid at the feet of a single individual, yet if there is one man who stands out in all of this, it is Alan Greenspan…,” said the NYTimes. “You will go down as the greatest chairman in the history of the Federal Reserve Bank,” said Phil Gramm, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. [link]

Oh… A takeover, a revolt, some say; the gold standard and a flat tax; repeal the Fed and elect the pulpit infiltration that is already afoot. But, if we had a media, a mere list might be enough to cull the fools and scorn the mistaken.

About Nothing Definite

The Tao of the Politician

When you have no idea where and why you are going, fake it.

If people believe you are set on a way you call your way and you stick to it, you will gather a fan club.

If you invite them along, they will follow and pay your way.

Act passionately about nothing definite.

Never elaborate.

Smile, even if you’re about to fall off edges.

This is the Tao of the politician.

© Carol Novack

About Living Better

Americans are arguing about whether health care will be socialist or free market as if our health system is either government or sales. That’s a terrible distraction. It’s about Stayin’ Alive, as Bart Laws points out.

America should notice that people with medical care live.

Life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project