Back in February, somebody broke into our garage and stole my bike. I hope the burglar gets lots of flat tires. Then I got sick and was in no state to be doing anything even vaguely active for a while. Fortunately that is over with now so a few weeks ago I went shopping for a new bike.
The big thing this year was that somehow, unexpectedly, I went from being an unknown to being that guy who made those maps. Things that I made have appeared in more national and international media than I can keep track of, and people whose work I have long admired from afar know who I am.
At the same time, my professional accomplishments are probably less this year than any time in the past decade. My attempt to make myself more relevant by changing groups was utterly unsuccessful and I went back.
And my youthful immortality is gone. I'm not dead yet, but I've got gout, scars, congestion, soreness, and receding gums that are probably never going to get better, and it's bound to get worse from here. It makes it seem all the more urgent to do important things and to be places where I will have experiences before I am no longer capable of it.
The firm where Steph had worked for years melted down, but fortunately, after some anxiety, what remained of it was folded into a new one with greater stability and bigger opportunities for her.
Travels: Washington, DC has some phenomenal neighborhoods as well as its famous monuments, and it was great to see people in Maryland and Virginia. Covington, Kentucky has an amazingly lively and extensive walkable neighborhood for a city of its size, and many other cities with ten times the population would be lucky to have something so good. Santa Cruz has a pretty good downtown, and I visited the 37°N, 122°W degree confluence. We took the Coast Starlight to Los Angeles.
We painted the living room. I've scanned hundreds of old family pictures.
The same old hopes for 2011: to make something worthwhile, spend time in interesting places, and try to be a good person.
Who knows the least awful way to bicycle from Piedmont Avenue to the Lakeside Apartment district of Oakland?
Today I took 41st to Webster to 29th to Broadway to 25th to Webster going there, Franklin to 22nd to Broadway to Piedmont going back.
Google Maps suggests a very complicated inbound route: Piedmont to Broadway to 27th to 24th to Waverly to Harrison to Grand to Valdez to 21st to the Kaiser Building parking lot to Harrison. In reverse they take 19th to Harrison to 27th to Broadway to Piedmont.
The main problems with my chosen route: Webster is steep going under the freeway and ends at 29th Street before picking up again with an awkward left turn at 25th, and Franklin is all but useless as a through street because of the way it ends at 22nd.
Franklin could be fixed by opening 22nd to two-way traffic, at least for bicycles, between Franklin and Webster, and opening Webster to two-way traffic between Grand and 22nd. (Or opening Webster to two-way traffic between Grand and 21st, since 21st goes the right way.) Downtown Oakland is full of streets that are one way for no reason at all except to make obvious routes difficult.
I don't know how to fix Webster. Probably the best thing would be to forget about it entirely on the southern part and turn Valdez into a usable street between 21st and 28th. But there is no way to bridge the gap between 28th and 29th.
We're back from the East Coast. I should have more to say about that, but before I forget:
Washington, DC is a good place. Not all of it, of course -- there are plenty of parts of it that have been neglected, and others that have been damaged by well-intentioned but misguided attempts at renewal, and other parts that were probably never any good to begin with -- but there is enough that you can walk around for hours with fantastic new streets to explore waiting around every corner. In addition to it being a pleasant experience, I see this as validation of the geotagged photo methodology for identifying the places that people like the most, and of my own ability to tell good places from bad when I see them.
At the same time, spending all my time in a metropolitan area makes it easy to forget that there are lots of people who don't live in metropolitan areas. At home I can talk endlessly about how particular districts or streets or intersections could have been designed to make them more welcoming to pedestrians, but when you are 5 or 6 miles away from anything at all besides farmland and other houses, there is just about nothing on earth that is going to make you traverse that distance in any other way than by car. Wherever you are, most of the time you've got to do what the land tells you to do.
These guys are still hard at work installing the new traffic signal at Piedmont and Linda. If you've ever wondered why traffic signals are so expensive, it's not just the cost of materials -- there is also an awful lot of tearing up concrete and digging required to mount and wire them.
One of them confirmed for me that the new signal is going to have pushbutton actuation for pedestrians. It's not their fault. They're just building what the specifications called for. There's probably no malice anywhere -- just someone at the Department of Public Works copying boilerplate specifications that were designed somewhere in the 99% of the area of the country where no one ever walks anywhere beyond the end of their driveway under any circumstances.