just put 2 and 2 together

So my parents neighborhood is looking at loosing a lot(or a little depending on how alarmist you are) of their greenbelt and trail because they’re planning to push through Davis Lane all the way to MoPac, and make it a road with, you know sidewalks. And possibly left hand turn lanes. And even more possibly – bike lanes. As shocking as it may seem it has been marked as a major artery for a couple decades (which makes sense if you look at a map and note it connects 5 or 6 other arteries with MoPac). The neighborhood is up in arms because they thought their greenbelt was protected (obviously not understanding what “protected” means when the city is involved). Of course they got mislead by the builder. But the plan has been there for over 20 years. Anyone looking at Davis can tell that if they do anything to the road someone’s going to loose big time.

Anyway, so that got me looking into back records about our new neighborhood on the city website. Checking for any little nasty surprises that may come up. I haven’t turned up that much of interest. I found out that Suburbia was apparently filmed at South 1st and Stassney, and I found some info on our neighborhood’s name.

I’d always though naming a neighborhood “Independence” in Austin was a bit like one of those neighborhoods in Houston that advertising having “The Patriot Collection”. Funny in a Steven Colbert kind of way, and possibly something Houstonians would really go for, but really puzzling when you think about actually trying to sell the houses to Austin residents.

So I was looking at what the plans had been for the land, and in 2001 there were going to be 3 story condos. Ah the height of the tech boom.

But in the 90s the plans were to make it a retirement community. “Independence Park”. It completely makes sense now.

Sidetrack

I may just be cynical (ok, I’m cynical), but I’m starting to think that developers always use the “retirement community” as the opening gambit in their rezoning fights. Because apparently young people think that old people don’t drive cars and the traffic requirements will be less. Plus they like the sound of ambulances.

I now know of 4 properties that were going to be retirement communities while they were being rezoned. Then the project languished for a while, and suddenly they’re building some sort of dense single/multi family homes. Is this fairly standard or am I cynically looking at a couple of anecdotes?

They should have changed the name. Does anyone know, is changing the name of a tract nearly impossible? Why don’t developers do this to make their properties more attractive to buyers?

How not to earn sympathy

Wow. This article on CNN should be a poster child for not only how not to win sympathy, and perhaps also how to start a revolution. It almost smacks of “Let them eat cake”. Some choice quotes:

the fires that are consuming millions of dollars of homes all over the region

Because really, it’s the value of the homes that matters

Across the street from the high school, multimillion dollar homes behind gates are ashes.

Should have gotten that fire-retardent gate.

Quaalcom Stadium is filled with folks with no other place to go. Like Hurricane Katrina, it is a setup for criminal activity but so far they do have electricity and running water.

I had not clue that rich people went Lord of the Flies so quickly.

We do have insurance, of course. Before all of this, we were planning on putting the house on the market in the late winter and look to sell and downsize. SJ and Alex will be in college next fall and we certainly don’t need a 6,500 square foot home to maintain and pay taxes on. So, who knows what the future holds now?

An insurance settlement and an anecdote for cocktail parties? Rebuilding on the same spot so it can be burned down again in a few years? I dunno, but the future certainly seems exciting

I’m sure that there are normal people being affected by this (I’m guessing that there aren’t 250,000 rich people who can’t get a hotel room in San Diego), but I wouldn’t know it from CNN.

Oh, wait. They have a new headline in my newsfeed – “Fire affects TV shows, celebrities”. This is exactly like Katrina.

Unrelated Stuff

So yesterday my mom walked on that sidewalk that no one walks on and took the bus to her church. She was impressed by all the places she could go on the bus. I tell you, you just got to get the people on the bus once…

AustinContrarian has an interesting post on banning plastic bags. I’m definitely against this ban even though I have grown to absolutely despise plastic bags. I get in fights with Julie and/or the bagger almost every time we go to the store. But I think the ban will just inspire a massive anti-environmental front setting back attitudes by decades. I imagine it would have the same effect culturally as if someone had banned smoking in 1975.

YerMama has a post about the Village going VMU. I can’t really get nostalgic about that hole of a property although I do like a lot of the businesses. The VMU should be nice though. Hopefully it will inspire some of the other businesses in the area to move towards the street. It’s nearly impossible to see any of the businesses off of Anderson. Julie has been trying to describe to me (unsuccessfully) for months where Sun Harvest is on Anderson. That neighborhood is one of the worst “strip malls with tiny little signs dwarfed by huge parking lots” in existence. I’m surprised any of the businesses survive. I think they’re all subsisting on word of mouth. I’m hoping the Alamo will stay in the new VMU though. They’d be fools not to try to keep it as an anchor. I think 90% of the shopping traffic on Anderson is probably related to the Alamo. And if they make the sidewalk nicer I could see actually taking the bus up their to do some window shopping. Julie used to live in the area, and I miss spending time their.

So there’s my opinion, but what do you think?

No one walks on <u>that</u> sidewalk.

For the past two nights I’ve taken the bus to the Dougherty Arts Center where Julie is rehearsing for Loaded Gun Theory’s production of Little Murders. I’ve bundled up Stella and her stroller, and we’ve taken the bus the rest of the way home. Last night things were crazy. It was one of those traffic days. You have an inkling of these days when you’re a driver, but they’re much more apparent when you’re a pedestrian. People were running lights. There was lots of backed up traffic for no reason. People were making U-Turns in the middle of busy roads. That sort of thing.

So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I had trouble crossing Barton Springs. I walked with the signal and got half way across the road. At this point cars turning left are unprotected. They see me in the middle of the street and don’t attempt to turn left. You know, because I have the right of way and all that. But last night a car turned in front of me. No big deal, I figured that one car just didn’t see me and the neon green stroller I was pushing. But then another car went. Then another. Six cars. The last one was a Mini. I was figuring, surely the Mini won’t leave me stranded out here in the middle of the road. It turned too. I still made it across the street in time, and there was a concrete median I could have hung out on if I hadn’t made it in time, so I wasn’t in danger.

I disliked being a driver in a world where most people don’t know the traffic laws, but it sucks even more to be a pedestrian.

The reason I had to pick up Stella was that my mom went to the city meeting where they discussed the plans for improving Westgate and Davis. They have lots of interesting ideas (and some that would be horrible). One of the poorer plans would be having Westgate be a 4 lane road, while Davis intersects it as 2 lanes with no middle turn lane. I can only imagine how backed up that would get.

So my mom was talking about the meeting, and she said, “They don’t really need sidewalks on both sides of Davis. No one I know of ever uses that sidewalk.” I demanded, “Who said that?” She said, “I did. That was my comment. That we don’t need sidewalks on both sides of Davis. They should just extend the sidewalk on the south side.” I nearly spit out my dinner, “You don’t know anyone who takes that sidewalk? I take that sidewalk every single morning to walk to the bus! I have to jaywalk across the road at the top of a fairly blind hill, then cross again at the light.” She mentioned that she thought I took the trail. My mom, while frequently going on recreational walks, is definitely not a pedestrian.

The Grand Oaks trail does indeed go from Davis Lane to Manchaca. But the first place you can get off the trail onto a real sidewalk is almost equidistant between two southbound bus stops. You have to backtrack about 1/8 of a mile to get to the light. And that’s just if you want to take the #3 route. If you want to take the #103 there is currently no sidewalk or trail to get there. Which is one of the reasons I don’t take it.

Sometimes you realizes why representative democracy is really important. Otherwise we’d have all sorts of crazy roads and sidewalks that didn’t go anywhere. A patchwork of ideas that were good for one person or another, but don’t connect in any meaningful way.

Weekend Update

This past weekend was nice. Julie and Stella went to Houston on Thursday with her parents. I drove down on Friday after work. On Friday I decided to eat McDonalds as often as possible (since this is what Julie expects of me and I hate to disappoint). Regretfully, I was only able to eat 3 meals. I did eat a first and second dinner, though, which I felt was impressive. I just didn’t pace myself.

On Saturday we went out to a pumpkin patch that was on an exotic animal farm with Stella’s Uncle Roger and Aunt Christine. Stella got to pet a llama, miniature horse, bunny rabbit, baby goat, and baby kangaroo. Stella really liked the llamas. A lot. She even said “llama”. Her Uncle Roger wanted to put her on the llama but the employee told him he couldn’t. That night we ate in Old Town Spring and then had some beers at the Flying Saucer (the Austin one is going to be in the Triangle apparently). All in all, it was a nice weekend. It’s the first weekend I’ve felt was somewhat effortless since Stella was born. Maybe because I got a lot of sleep.

Plastic Bag Update

They are currently providing two sizes of disposable plastic umbrella bags in our lobby. To put your umbrella in. A disposable bag. Someone should point out that they wouldn’t need the umbrella bags if they hadn’t decided to put marble on the floor of the elevators.

Reusable Bags Update

I agree with a lot of people that $15-20 for a reusable bag is way too expensive. That’s $45-60 just to get all your groceries home. Walmart’s going to be having these reusable bags for $1. No excuses now.

Today’s Conservative Talking Points

Just in case you haven’t been tuned into your radio (I hadn’t), here are your conservative talking points for today:

  • Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize even though he is a liar.
  • The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to people for their (supposed) work on the environment. Not peace. How is that a peace prize?
  • Al Gore’s “Inconvient Truth” is devoid of truth. Feel free to improvise a pun.
  • Yassir Arafat was also awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, and that hasn’t worked out so well. So obviously it’s not really a very prestigious award.

Let’s get out there and send this to everyone in the MSM and post it on every comment section in the blogosphere!

Running in the heat.

Update: Apparently Chicagoans aren’t so wimpy after all.

Am I the only Texan runner who thinks those Chicagoans are wimps? Granted I don’t run marathons (because, they have side effects like, you know, death), but 88 degrees? Balmy.

On Saturday I ended up walking 4 miles with my mom. She wanted to run with me, but she really can’t run. She runs really fast, then gets winded and has to walk, then runs really fast, etc. Then I ran two more miles with Stella so I’d actually get the run in. This pushed me into exercising for about 2 hours in the late morning which is not when I normally exercise. I went home and drank a 16 oz glass of milk. Then 3 16 oz glasses of water. Then as we headed out to Fredericksberg I got a 60 oz soda (it was only .30 more expensive than 32 oz), and drank most of it. Then I downed two beers. I was a little worried about water poisoning at that point. But, what the heck. In any case I didn’t feel great again until about mid-afternoon Sunday after a 2 hour nap.

Fredericksberg was fun though. We had a nice time with the kids. I danced a waltz with Stella, and a polka with Julie. The polka was horribly romantic. I do miss social dancing with Julie. Just not enough opportunities to do it these days.

The beer was actually German at Fredericksberg’s Oktoberfest and the sausage was far better than Wurstfest. We capped the evening with dinner at our favorite biergarten there (I got their mixed sausage plate appetizer because I must have as much sausage as possible), and I got a Dilly Bar from Dairy Queen on the way out of town. All in all, a very nice day.

TV. TV. TV.

If you’re one of those people who don’t watch TV feel free not to read this entry. And bask in your moral superiority. Also consider making out with yourself in the mirror. That intellect makes you so hot…

Kelli was talking today about the new fall TV season. I’ve got to say that Julie and I are a bit more interested than usual. We like to unwind to a show before we go to bed at night. Since we moved in with my parents we haven’t had cable. We could have gotten cable, but decided not to. My parents have a cable modem and no cable TV. We were afraid that if we added cable TV to their bill it would never get canceled and result in shenanigans and drama. Erroneous bills, collectors calls, bad debts, we feared it all. This is just an extension of my mom’s ability to come in during the only objectionable part of any TV show. She hates TV and TV likes to prove her right. I’m sure the cable company can oblige with their patented incompetent business processes.

So we’ve been doing without. Hasn’t really been too hard. Although, Julie joneses for HGTV shows something fierce. Their website is lame. They have House Hunters, but they only have the reveal. You don’t get to see the three houses they’re choosing from. Bah! We also really enjoyed “Tori and Dean in Love” while on our vacation to Port Aransis, but their streaming appears to be technology from the Netscape Navigator 4 era. Seriously. It’s bad. Seriously. Check it out.

So what have we been watching? We had been watching Top Chef Season 3. Which rocked. We were buying them from iTunes. That shows how much we liked it. Buying episodes. But that’s over now.

We also got hooked on Scott Baio is 45 and Single on Joost, but they only have half the season – BECAUSE THEY ARE EVIL!

The Office still seems good. 30 Rock seems like it might have jumped the shark. And Pushing Daisies has promise. Anything we should be watching that’s available (legally) online?