Monday, November 28, 2011

Planners Must Speak for the Disadvantaged

Quotation from Dwight H. Merriam, FAICP - former president of APA.

The planner's clients, Merriam said, "are the poor, they are the disenfranchised, they are people who live far away but wish to be our neighbors, they are the old, they are the young, they are the people working two and three jobs who have no time to go to public hearings or run a blog, they are the people who need our help in processing and applying complex information, they are the generations not yet born, they are the people who will live on this earth 50 years and 100 years and 200 years and 500 years from now."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Just Give It a Rest

A city I used to work for announced this week that they need an overhaul of their tree preservation ordinance after studying the issue for over eighteen months. I think that's great. The previous three that I had worked on there had been diluted and not implemented to such a degree that they weren't going to get the goals of the program accomplished.

The goals were simple: Save big, healthy trees. Preserve wetland areas. Focus on original Cross Timbers Old Growth Forests. Design new development in such a way so as to save trees rather than plant new ones.

But, you could pay your way out of doing this. Paying a fee cost less than paying for a designer, an arborist and an engineer to look at best way to design around trees.

So the committee has new goals - which sound similar to the old goals, but with a new mission to implement them with a new ordinance.

The problem comes from the "don't touch my property" nutjobs out there.


For once and for all give it a rest. The invisible hand of economics saying that if you let the market dictate - then the altruism of the market will save us from ourselves has been thoroughly slapping us in the face for the past three years and was digging out our wallets prior to that.

Regulations on design and preservation must be part of the development process. Otherwise we will grade our land to look like the endless wastes of the inner city interstate system. There will be no places. Only commerce. There will be no shade or habitat. Only vast stretches of turf and concrete. One generating more heat, the other sucking down water we can't afford to raise a crop we harvest once a week and throw away.

Arguments against regulations are like asking for the government to leave only you alone and bother everyone else. You are not special. Your property - for how much it is worth - is not unique and special. We all have to live with rules. You live with the regulations of a City and pay the City taxes because you enjoy the amenities that a City brings. Paved roads. Sidewalks. Street lights governing traffic. Police protection. Fire protection. Ordered and managed water and wastewater systems so we don't drown in a cesspool of our own making. Your trash is taken away somewhere you don't have to look at it. You play on the recreation fields and shop in the stores that are close by because the City worked hard to make sure they are there instead of going down the road by thirty miles.

We live in a managed and ordered society by our own tacit agreement. Your freedoms are not being taken away. Your freedom is to leave at anytime. Our freedom is to make sure that there are such things as Cross Timbers Old Growth Forest to be preserved for the future. That is what marks a great society instead of a selfish one.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Time-Space Synaesthesia

Remember this post: Time That was written in 2006. In it, I described my ability to visualize time. Recently however, I've been able to place that ability into some perspective. In 2009, some researchers in Scotland have been able to test for this ability and label it as a form of Synaesthesia. Roughly defined, its is a neurological condition in which regions of the brain may have a hyper connectivity resulting in multiple senses intertwined and mixed. Almost 54 types of these conditions have been noted and researched.

But we're here to talk about time. This article: The Cognitive Benefits of Time-Space Synaesthesia summarizes the research and also makes some connections to other visualization abilities which I have including internal mapping and the ability to visualize two dimensional drawings in three dimensional space.

Like the subject of the article, I visualize my location within a frame of reference. If I'm thinking of Sunday then across the divide is Wednesday/Thursday. I do have a heightened ability to remember events in my life and have significant recall of very specific items within that event, however I am not hyperthymestic. I cannot have total recall of everything which occured on a particular day. I remember enough as it is. Further information clogging up the bandwidth would be too much.

Nothing is Quite What is Seems - In the City of Dreams

It is not easy explaining the impressive heat to a four year old who wants to go outside and play in the park. We have to change our language to fit the situation as it is presented to us. Our vocabulary must, by necessity change in order for us to be first, understood - and then to impart some comprehension to the four year old. This ability we as a communicative species to change our language must be able to be scaled to any other situation. Professional jargon, sports, spontaneous discussions of minutia. How do we filter it all and present it cognitively to others?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Longest Period Off in Five Years

Hello there blogsphere (or at least anyone at all interested in what I write). It's been seven months since my last post on here and it seems like a lifetime has passed. Since January, I've been to Boston and Maine; I've worked many, many hours in both my primary job and my consulting work; and we're now only weeks away from having a third son. All of this is exciting in its own way I suppose, but it can be rather overwhelming.

My best accomplishment in the past several months was last Saturday cleaning the entire house and having it ready for friends to come over. I'm not as completely OCD as many people - I've mellowed out quite a bit from college where I would freak out over classwork and clean my apartment until 2am because it was something I could control.

I don't require complete order in the house - but there comes a time when I need some amount of order or I start to go a little anxious. The best way I can describe the feeling is claustrophobia. I also get anxious when there are too many things stacked on top of other things - and when I reach for something - the whole lot comes tumbling down.

But the house is clean now.

at least relatively so.

Baby report is that he's head down now after several weeks breech loaded. We talked with the midwife and I was not comfortable with having a home birth with a breech baby. I've been pretty in line with the homebirth experience - but if there is risk of cutting off of oxygen to the baby during delivery (pinched cord, cord wrapped around neck) I'm not willing to risk it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Worry Switch

If I could have a super power it wouldn't be anything like heat vision or flying or superstrength. It would be the ability to turn off my inner brain which obsesses over worrying.