I’m not sure what to call the experience of driving back from the cruise ship terminal. May be the best word for it is “combat driving shock.”
Houston, thanks to the boom in energy over the past few years, has ballooned up to more than 6-million people. Departing from the docks area, we were still in the continuous band of development of Greater Houston an hour and a half later. The spreading monster will consume Huntsville, TX shortly, I’m sure.
The city has the same overbuilt feeling to it that I first experienced driving through Los Angeles 40-some years ago. Being from Seattle, and driving down I-5, L.A. was culture shock personified and there’s a kind threshold that takes place with a city as it passes through the 5-million mark, or so.
Not that lots of cities aren’t bigger…they are. Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles all line up as bigger. But something happens when a city gets to be the size of New York: the population density is high enough that things like subways and trains coming in from the suburbs to an extreme island population core, actually makes sense.
The difference – if I can say this right – is that NYC has the feel of a well-raised loaf of bread. High density, crusty in places, but damn entertaining.
Houston, on the other hand, while going up a bit in the central core area, is more like a pizza than a loaf…and the only other city I’ve been through in the past 10-years that has the same vibe is Sacramento. Like Houston, it just seems to go on and on, forever.
According to this report, Chicago’s growth has been faltering – on the other of a quarter of a percent in a year in 2013. Job creation in Chicago seems to have failed, as much as anything. Houston by comparison claims job creation of 4.2% more jobs in the past year.
As you know, Elaine and I have been contemplating moving “out west” to get closer to our kids. But driving through Houston at 8 AM on a Saturday has a totally Los Angeles vibe to it, complete with the grayest gray there is when the sun’s not out.
It’s a grim reminder that we “can’t go back” to the era of “right-sized cities. The damn planet has gotten too big for that.
You’re welcome to play along as we keep tossing darts. Eugene, Oregon is close to the kids, nice flying country yet lots to do, but without pizza-city vibe to it. The Washington Coast towns (from Astoria, OR north are interesting, but run a bit too gray for our tastes.
Friends are having a house built in the hills north of Phoenix, but the closest airport is a 30-mile drive down the road to Deer Valley. Plus, too close to the dissolving border for our comfort. That ACLU 100-mile “Constitution Free Zone” is worrisome.
You’re welcome to toss ideas in the hat. As interesting as the Texas Outback is, being out west again has a certain calling to it. So if you have ideas, please send ‘em along.
I keep forgetting to mention that the FAA is working toward regulation of those increasingly popular drones we’ve been reading so much about:
The FAA proposed a framework of regulations that would allow routine use of certain small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in today’s aviation system, while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations. The FAA’s proposal offers safety rules for small UAS (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations. The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations. It also addresses height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits.
The proposed rule also includes extensive discussion of the possibility of an additional, more flexible framework for “micro” UAS under 4.4 pounds. The public will have until April 24, 2015, to comment on the proposed regulation in the Federal Register, which can be found at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FAA-2015-0150. For more information and links on the proposed rule, see the FAA’s press release page at www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/.
As a pilot, I’m not very happy with the “micro UAS category, since even with a 1/4” thick windshield, I’m pretty sure 4.4 pounds hit at 80-miles an hour would go through it.
Not that I should worry: The FAA hasn’t been able to go with a driver’s license in place of a third class medical – and that issue has been around for at least 10-years. No reason they shouldn’t study this decision until it become irrelevant, as well.
Reminds me of the old saying “I’m from the government and I’m here to help…”
Speaking of Which (Lighter side of things)
Grady up at the www.nostracodeus.com project found this one circulating out on the web as an email headlines “Gas Bill”:
A man living in Kandos (near Mudgee in NSW Australia) received a bill for his as yet unused gas line stating that he owed $0.00. He ignored it and threw it away.
In April he received another bill and threw that one away too.
The following month the gas company sent him a very nasty note stating that they were going to cancel his gas line if he didn’t send them $0.00 by return mail.
He called them, talked to them, and they said it was a computer error and they would take care of it.
The following month he decided that it was about time that he tried out the troublesome gas line figuring that if there was usage on the account it would put an end to this ridiculous predicament. However, when he went to use the gas, it had been cut off.
He called the gas company who apologized for the computer error once again and said that they would take care of it. The next day he got a bill for $0.00 stating that payment was now overdue. Assuming that having spoken to them the previous day the latest bill was yet another mistake, he ignored it, trusting that the company would be as good as their word and sort the problem out.
The next month he got a bill for $0.00. This bill also stated that he had 10 days to pay his account or the company would have to take steps to recover the debt.
Finally, giving in, he thought he would beat the gas company at their own game and mailed them a cheque for $0.00. The computer duly processed his account and returned a statement to the effect that he now owed the gas company nothing at all.
A week later, the manager of the Mudgee branch of the Westpac Banking Corporation called our hapless friend and asked him what he was doing writing cheque for $0.00. After a lengthy explanation the bank manager replied that the $0.00 cheque had caused their cheque processing software to fail. The bank could therefore not process ANY cheques they had received from ANY of their customers that day because the cheque for $0.00 had caused the computer to crash.
The following month the man received a letter from the gas company claiming that his cheque had bounced and that he now owed them $0.00 and unless he sent a cheque by return mail they would take immediate steps to recover the debt.
At this point, the man decided to file a debt harassment claim against the gas company. It took him nearly two hours to convince the clerks at the local courthouse that he was not joking. They subsequently helped him in the drafting of statements which were considered substantive evidence of the aggravation and difficulties he had been forced to endure during this debacle.
The matter was heard in the Magistrate’s Court in Mudgee and the outcome was this:
The gas company was ordered to:
 Immediately rectify their computerised accounts system or Show cause, within 10 days, why the matter should not be referred to a higher court for consideration under Company Law.
 Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by the man.
 Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by all the Westpac clients whose cheques had been bounced on the day our friend’s had been processed.
 Pay the claimant’s court costs; and
 Pay the claimant a total of $1500 per month for the 5 month period March to July inclusive as compensation for the aggravation they had caused their client to suffer.
And all this over $0.00. Who employs these idiots?
The same people who collect taxes, or course.
Who NOT to Vote For
With the “news” that Hillary is planning to “announce” her bid for the White House next month, it has occurred to me that I’ve been looking at this process of finding who to vote for in 2016, all wrong.
Instead of looking for who to vote FOR it is a lot easier to figure out who to vote AGAINST.
Joining the Aristocracy’s Yet-Another-Clinton, as well as the Aristocrat’s “other” choice (Not-Another-Bush!) we can now safely add Scott Walker to the list because of his reported support of sending more people to jail where they can be exploited for profit of the American prison industry.
Not like we need another sock-puppet branding people for life. According to one source:
Since 2002, the United States has had the highest incarceration rate in the world. Although prison populations are increasing in some parts of the world, the natural rate of incarceration for countries comparable to the United States tends to stay around 100 prisoners per 100,000 population. The U.S. rate is 500 prisoners per 100,000 residents, or about 1.6 million prisoners in 2010, according to the latest available data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
But that’s NOT the whole picture. Here lately, Seychelles (islands off India) has a higher rate of 868 inmates per 100,000 of population. We’re #2 now, although I’m sure Walker would be able to fix that.
Meantime, despite the imagery of people manacled to workstations building cell phones, China is either 124th or 172nd in incarceration rates, depending on how you define China.
Point is, after looking at his track record, Scott Walker is off my list of possible “people I could vote for.” Since “None of the Above” doesn’t appear, the grind to 2016 promises to be a sordid mess, just like past elections of the past 40-years.
The last President I could get excited about voting for was assassinated when I was still in junior high school and there hasn’t been comparable since.
We’re left with a hulk, a shell of a democracy; a country that has monetized prisons, exported its technologies and future to China and India, rotted its money with the burden of excess debt and crippled borders to permit an ongoing invasion. Nor is it acceptable to be offered another member of the political aristocracy.
These are simple benchmarks to measure, but unpopular policies to resolve, for there is more money than voters bidding for the outcome. For now, time is on the public’s side.
That’s why this morning I’ve started this “Who Not to Vote For” list with the great fear deep in the gut that come election time, there won’t be anyone left worthy of the public trust.
My list won’t be yours, but do give it a try.
Write when you break-even