SHARED: plants: Rock Rose…KAPOW!

The rock rose, Pavonia laiopetala, is blooming with wild abandon now. Hot pink blooms are open and beaming everywhere across our front garden.

Rock rose is a really great woody perennial, small shrub landscape plant in Central Texas. It requires very little water and little maintenance (unless you feel like pruning it back from time to time).

It reseeds itself very easily in my garden, and so far, I’m just letting it spread around. Many of the plants blooming across the front yard now are seedlings from last year. After the big front garden hardscape project, I just decided to let them fill in some space for a while until I can get more serious about planting design up there.

They are gorgeous and do great in the heat of summer. The species is originally from the Edward’s Plateau and westward, but do just fine in my black gumbo soil.

And, there’s a great blog you should check out named after this fabulous plant: Rock Rose.

SHARED: Acres of Free Parking Actually Cost Something

Over at my own blog, I’ve complained about the focus in the livable streets movement on environmental benefits to urbanism. It’s not that those issues aren’t important – it’s that for most people, and certainly for most local governments, it’s the pocketbook issues that get all the attention. So I was happy to see this piece today that discusses the opportunity costs of having your city build a Walmart surrounded by a sea of parking rather than a compact mixed-use district:
[Sarasota County Director of Smart Growth Peter] Katz showed the results from retail properties. Here comes surprise No. 1.: Big box stores such as WalMart and Sam’s Club, when analyzed for county property tax revenue per acre, produce barely more than a single family house; maybe $150 to $200 more a year, Katz said. (Think of all those acres of parking lots.) “That hardly seems worth all the heat that elected officials take when they approve such development,” he noted in a related, written presentation.
[…]
But here’s the shocker: On a horizontal bar chart Katz showed, you see that zooming to the far right side, outpacing all the retail offerings, even the regional shopping mall, is the revenue from a high-rise mixed-use project in downtown Sarasota. It sits on less than an acre and contributes a hefty $800,000 in tax per acre. (Add in city property taxes and it’s $1.2 million.) “It takes a lot of WalMarts to equal the contribution of that one mixed-use building,” Katz noted.
It’s worth clicking through to read the whole thing (and printing it out for your next local planning commission meeting about that TOD project you really like).
Wire Feed

SHARED: Houston Mayor, Anise Parker on Metro: Riders come first – Ending fares, reshaping role to improve agency are on the table. What do you think?

Everyone is going on summer vacations and #SNAPPatx wants in on the fun. We are embarking on our own virtual travels this week. Join us! You can read more about our travels at http://snappatx.org/learn.html

By MIKE SNYDER
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Feb. 8, 2010

As Mayor Annise Parker awaits reports from transition committees studying the Metropolitan Transit Authority, fundamental questions loom about how the agency should deliver and pay for services and its role in shaping regional growth and development.

Parker has signaled that she is not wedded to conventional wisdom about Metro, even suggesting eliminating fares to increase lagging ridership. While acknowledging that Metro would have to cope with the loss of fare revenues — $66 million in 2009, about 20 percent of its expenses — she said it is a discussion the agency needs to have.
The mayor, who appoints five of the nine members of Metro’s board, said she envisions a seamless network of transportation services that move people efficiently throughout the eight-county Houston region.
“The goal should be, wherever you get on our ultimate mass transit system, from commuter rail, to light rail, to bus, you get one ticket, you go anywhere in the region,” Parker said.
***
Those who depend on public transportation should receive priority in Metro’s planning, Parker said.
“I’ve been concerned that Metro has been drawing the line in the wrong place,” Parker said. “They’re too concerned with the bottom line and not concerned enough that their job is to provide transit to people who really don’t have any other option.”
Metro says its operating ratio — the share of its costs covered by fare collections — has increased from 17 percent in 2005 to an estimated 21 percent this year, still well below the national average of 33 percent. 
Eliminating fares, of course, would make cost-benefit analysis meaningless, since every route would be fully subsidized. But allowing passengers to ride for free might attract enough riders to reduce congestion for drivers and produce other benefits, Parker said.
“I don’t really care so much what they collect at the fare box,” the mayor said. “I’m not going to tell them to do this, but I am personally interested in exploring — unless we’re leveraging those dollars in some ways for other kinds of matches — dropping the fares to get more people on board.”
Metro spokesman George Smalley said the agency offered free rides on its downtown trolley service from 1998 to 2004, but use of the service never exceeded more than about 11,000 daily boardings. Metro later discontinued the service.
Metro has opened its books to members of Parker’s transition committees, to ensure that she has the information she needs to decide whether dropping fares is a good idea.

Full Article

SHARED: First World Problems

Comic

“Boom, bitches. I’m out.”

My heart really goes out to everyone who bought a brand new magical internet computer phone and isn’t 100% satisfied with their purchase. Sometimes life just takes a shit right on your face, doesn’t it?. It’s like you’re a helpless little seagull and the universe is just this unfathomable geyser of foul, viscous sludge that’s constantly spilling hundreds of thousands of barrels of hate-pudding into your home each and every day for months on end… ya’ know… because of the bars… on your phone… and how there aren’t enough of them when you hold said phone a certain way.

“CURSE YOU GOD!” And right to curse him you are, gentle consumer. For it isn’t enough to simply have the sum total of all human knowledge instantly accessible from a device that fits in your shirt pocket. Nay! That device must also be flawless in it’s aesthetics as well as it’s every function! To suffer anything less would be like being forced to skip a meal… or two meals… or go for some greater period of time without food of any kind… or potable water… or being made to live in constant fear of the rape gangs and drug lords that steal children in the night. It’s just like that.

All silliness aside, Apple knew about the antenna problems WELL before the iPhone 4 launch. The only evidence you need is the Bumpers. Apple has never released an Apple sanctioned case for ANY Apple portable device since the inception of the iPod. In fact, Papa Steve has always taken a staunch, “Cases? We don’t need no stinkin’ cases,” approach to the issue. In fact again, the one and only time Apple came close to offering a case was when they started shipping 5G iPods and 1G Nanos with a simple stitched slip cover to appease the 1000′s of customers (including me) reporting all-t00-easily-scratched screens.

So OF COURSE they knew about the problem. They had enough time to design and manufacture the Bumpers, and hope to high hell that more people bought them than not. I guess that plan failed. So what are they going to announce today? My guess is that a full on recall would ruin their profits for this quarter/year. I bet they offer free bumpers too all iPhone 4 customers. They F’ed up, they got caught and they need to make it right. Though I really have to give Steve props for the “you’re holding it wrong” line. That took some brushed aluminum balls.

Comic-Con 2010COMIC-CON! COMIC-CON! COMIC-CON!

I will be in the Webcomics Pavillion (handy/shittily made map) at the Topatoco booth (#1231) with many of your other favorite internet-style cartoonists.

FB’s JustChristine and JonnyAce wants to organize a meetup for sometime during the con. Thursday night I will be at W00tstock. If you are interested make a comment. If enough people are interested we can make an event on the Fancy Bastards Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter for minute to minute updates as to what’s going on while I’m at Comic-Con.

Help a brother out…

Money is VERY tight at the HijiNKS household right now so if you want to support HE and see it continue for hundreds of years to come, please MAKE A DONATION or BUY SOMETHING FROM THE STORE.

Thanks!

~Joel

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