Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My plan for transportation in San Diego

The other day I was driving somewhere with Marshall; I don’t remember where; it’s not important. We were on the freeway, cruising along, and about five minutes into our drive we hit traffic. I really hate traffic. I absolutely lose control the moment I’m in traffic. It’s very unhealthy. He tells me to “Calm down. Breathe. You’re stress hormones are skyrocketing.” I proceeded to yell and scream back to him about how much I hate traffic. But then the traffic lifted, and we were at least moving again. I finally took a breath.

Then, to pass the rest of the time traveling to the unrecalled destination, I began to imagine a San Diego with public transportation that actually worked. A San Diego where not only I could take public transportation, but a San Diego where *everyone* WANTED to take public transportation. So, with out all the real-life limitations that a public transportation must deal with, I let my mind wander.

First of all, it would have to be nearly door to door service. I mean, we ARE talking about a culture in which people drive in circles around the parking lot trying to find a parking spot closest to… the GYM!!! Since it would be unrealistic to put trolley tracks in on every street, the first part would have to be some kind of massive carpool or vanpool.

This part of the system would be controlled by computer programs similar to the technology used in online mapping websites. The major difference is that the city’s program would also incorporate who was going where and when, so that everytime a carpool was possible, it would be scheduled. This would have to be very sophisticated software because people would want to not only plan ahead, but also be able to call on demand.

There would have to be protocol worked out for waiting. Would the vanpools wait at all? Would they wait up to 2 minutes? Anything more would be too much time for any other potential riders. Perhaps the van pool would wait up to 2 minutes if other riders were to be picked up by that van, but if no one else was on that scheduled route, then the van could wait indefinitely.

However, massive carpooling still isn’t realistic for riding across and around the entire city. So, there would also have to be lines of transit, for moving quickly to different neighborhoods. This would be basically what the current idea of public transportation offers, in San Diego or any city. You ride along a “line” and possibly transfer. This part of the system is independent of the citypooling. One could pay a line pass, or a pool pass, or both. The lines of transit would include all the existing trolley lines, and more that could be built as the funds are available. It would also include San Diego county train lines.

However, trolley, light rail, monorail, train, and other “rail” systems are actually very expensive. They are pretty unrealistic modes of public transportation for this reason. Buses are much more cost effective, and when done right, can be efficient means of transportation as well. It’s just that most cities don’t do buses right; they do them entirely wrong. In my plan for San Diego the buses run almost like a “rail” system – they don’t go into every single neighborhood, but rather act as connectors across the city. The buses would run on all major cross streets in Bus-only lanes, and they would also run on all the freeways, also in buss only lanes. There would be local buses and also speed buses. The local buses would stop at every currently existing exit on the freeway, but each local bus would have a short range. The speed buses would stop only at major freeway exits, where riders could transfer to a local freeway line, or a major street line.

Riders of the line system (including the rail system) would buy a pass for an area, the smallest being downtown, and moving in concentric circles outward. (Well, three-quarters of those outward moving concentric circles, as no rail lines would go straight west in to the ocean.) So, someone traveling just in the city center would pay less than someone traveling to the edges of the county.

The final portion of my plan for effective public transportation would be people power. The city would join forces with the Yellow Bike Project to distribute yellow bikes, free human-powered taxis, across the city. If you aren’t familiar with the Yellow Bike Project it is a group that takes donated used bikes, fixes them up, paints them entirely yellow, and releases them into the city. The populace is free to ride them from point A to point B on any given journey, and when the rider is finished they simply put up the kickstand and leave the bike in a conspicuous place for the next rider to use it. This would allow people going short distances, or those traveling along the line system, but not going very far from their line stop, to just hop on a Yellow Bike and get quickly to their destinations, without any wait for the citypool system. And of course it adds zero pollution and also improves public healthy.

In addition to the release of Yellow Bikes, the city would improve the bike lane system, making bike lanes that are separated with small medians from the rest of the road (for safety), and also connecting the existing bike paths in various neighborhoods to bike paths in other neighborhoods. This would transform the San Diego bike path system from it’s current state, which is primarily used for pleasure riding, into a comprehensive system that could also be used for commuting. Think about what a pleasant commute that would be!

Yes on Clean Energy

Need I say more???

Monday, January 29, 2007

San Diego Blog!

I have started to write for a San Diego travel blog.
Please visit the site and pass it on to locals and
visitors alike. Be sure to check it out from the link to the right.

Please pass this San Diego blog onto anyone (and
everyone) you know in San Diego, near San Diego,
interested in San Diego, or just interested in supporting me.

Also, if you have suggestions on what to write about,
please let me know!

My blogger page, "The Other San Diego," was my original
idea of posting about all my favorite SD places, beyond
the beach. It is now is basically a dry run for what I
post to Hotels By City. The HBC interface is not user
friendly so I post it up to blogger and then cut and paste
the whole thing, but they have lots of traffic, so better
for me to get advertising revenue.

Education, Economics, Culture...

This post has been moved from an obsolete blog page. It was originally posted in August 2006.

I am dedicating this blogspot to the collection, preservation, and organization of all the things I will do when I rule the world.

As I am still quite young, you can expect these thoughts to be a bit naive in the beginning. I expect it will take at least 17 posts before I have enough experience to really know how to rule the world.

For this first blog dedicated to when I rule the world, I have composed some thoughts from conversations and emails I have been sharing with friends lately.

Being unfulfilled is really terrifying to me. I just see myself, how I was borderline happy with my last job, imagining if I stayed there two, three, four years. Okay, maybe the organization would have grown; it was small and very likely I could have done different things, and that would have been fine. But if I had a job that was borderline stimulating in a BIG company/organization that was stable and not expanding, and I could be guaranteed to be doing something very similar for years, then, Yes. That is a horrifying thought to me. Other people are fine with that, others seek that out. But I'm different. And the fear of doing something unfilling is defintiely behind it, and is a big deal to me.

It does seem that if you have the level of comfort to be able to consider everything, then you are able to. More about where you come from as an individual than this (our) generation. Although I do think that as a generation, we are very priviledged and have a problem with entitlement. Weddings are a good example. Weddings are so extravagent and I think most females of my generation really feel entitled to having some big hoopla. We don't have to worry about money as much as our parents, and definitely not our grandparents. I mean, the last time an *entire* generation had to go without was our grandparents. And our media promotes this idea sa part of our consumer culture as well - look at TV. All the TV shows have well off people who live extravagently and lots of time off.

There are many interpretations of security and it's realtionship with money. Although money is an accepted way to show value. Like in The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, he says money is a formal token of "I'll scratch your back later." So, while I want to do something fulfilling, I don't think I will be fulfilled unless it I can also have a reasonable financial compensation.

Except the system has been warped by people who find ways to make lots of money for doing valueless things, like the futures market. It's completely made up, and contributes nothing to the world in terms of REAL things, like the basics of survival, nor any kind of cultural expansion.

America as we know it is at risk. However, I don't think that working all the time is important to whether or not America remains as great as it has been, in terms of opportunity, innovation, standard of living, etc. And now that I'm in Spain I think it can be a little too extreme. They take too many holidays here. But we don't take enough in the USA. I think we can all have 4 weeks vacation and have a great economy. Perhaps better because people would be more productive with more relaxation time. I also think a 36 hour work week - with that half day rotated throughout the week for people who aren't as lucky as some and have to work very regular 40 hours weeks - would really improve the standard of living, allowing people to make appoitnments, run errands, etc., on their half day during the week.

I think the real problem is pretty much exclusively in education. Our government has gutted our education system, and it has no funding. Take 10th of the military budget and spend it on education and we will still have a military budget many times larger than the second biggest, and we will have a renewed education system. I think educatoin is SOOOOO important. I think a marked increase in education funds and also a change in the eudcation system are ESSENTIAL. And it is such a cheap way to invest in a country. I mean, the turn around on that investment comes fullfold in 16 years. You send a kid to school in kindergarden, and they go to college, and they're out and well educated in 16 years. Do that for an entire generation, and Voila! An educated workforce emerges. Education fixes teen pregnancy, STDs, drug problems. It can even fix environmental problems if the edcautaion addresses it, and there is an intersting bill that passed CA senate (created by Pavley) last year that does just that, but it's not obligatory for schools to use it. Also, education keeps people out of the labor pool for longer, reducing unemployment.

I also think our military budget is, like shown in Farenheit 911, a major soure of the violence in America. Our military budget is like 10 times Russia's, the second largest. If we cut ours in half, we'd still have a massive military, and we could give a quarter back to the people in tax breaks (not to the wealthy, but to the poor and working class), and redirect the other quarter into education, arts, and science (non military science), and urban renewal like the CCC in the 1940s. Think about what great cultural development we would gain replacing war culture with humane culture.

I do wrangle with the idea of being priviledged. I think the privildeged are obligated to give back. I think I do. I think I am generous and kind and inspiring, so I don't worry about my privildge too much. I also know that others are so much more "privildeged" than me, in terms of money. But I am lucky becuase my family is so great. Some with money have a very unhappy family life. I also know that many many more are poor than rich, but even without money you can be privildeged with a happy life. However, you have to have the basics, and even in USA there are many who don't.

Obviously I value travelling as well, and think it is important to be exposed to other cultures through travelling, travellers, education, museums, and any other form. I think Americans could benefit from being more exposed to other cultures, not necesarrily travelling for everyone, but through studying or some other means.

I wish I was better at Spanish, and I always have hopes to learn even more, other languages. And I just had a conversation with someone about how to really know a language, you have to know a culture There are so many cultural references, that even if you know the words you still won't understand. There's a woman here from the USA who moved to Scotland and has been there 5 years. She said for the first several years she was completely an outsider because she didn't know the culture.

I am going to continue to ponder the thoughts on my place in the world. More to come soon...er or later.

On my place in the world

This post has been moved from an obsolete blog page. It was originally posted in August 2006.

Here is an excerpt from What Should I Do With My Life? by Po Bronson that I found particularly honest and interesting.

No matter how realistic the stories were that I'd found, there was no doubt that I had a slant. Why was I bent on encouraging people to change their lives? Because I've watched my generation stop reading books, stop reading the newspaper, stop voting in local elections? Because I've watched money/salary become a proxy for respect, and then a synonym for respect, and then the only kind of respect that counts? Because I have seen us judge books we have not read, politicians we have not heard, musicians we have not listened to, referendums we have not debated, and fellow citizens we have not met? Because I have sen us torn apart by jealousy for what others our age have accomplished, rather than celebrating those accomplishments? Because I have seen us glorify those who make decisions over those who enact decisions, prefer being a consultant to being fully engaged, being an investor to being invested in, being an adviser over being politically involved, being an expert over being partisan, being a news analyst over being a news gatherer - all in fear of the inflexible boredom of commitment?

This excerpt addresses a lot of fears of mine, and presumably of my friends who also struggle with what to do with their lives.

My friend Leslie is a PhD in biophysics, but everyday she dreams of volunteering at planned parenthood, going to medical school, making a lot of money, working with people, getting married and having a kid, or otherwise changing her life.

My friend Nell has a law degree from UT, but she has worked at Home Depot and then the water authority for Austin, and dreams about photography school or becoming a vetrenarian.

My friend Tamara has a biology degree and is now a psychic and is about to leave the country for South America.

I got a degree in biology, then I got an MFA in poetry, then I got a job, and now I've quit to learn Spanish in Spain. Or to write in Barcelona. I'm still not sure.

Why do we struggle? What is it we're looking for? Why does doing what everyone else is doing seem so vacuous and horrifying?

We're not secure. Money won't give us security. It's about something else. I don't really know what it is about though.

Doesn't it seem like there must be more than just money? something more than financial freedom and security (because that's the only kind of freedom and security a job brings - in fact one guy in the book said his pinstripes were his jailcell, really displacing the idea of salary freedom)? More than owning a piece of property? More than having kids and a mortagage?

Work defines so much of a person's life. Most jobs require 40 hours a week, sometimes more, sometimes less, but still,
that's so much time! There are 168 hours in a week. Say you sleep 49, work 40; that's 79 hours left. If you
commute, that takes up at least 3 hours, for many more like 7 or 14. You're left, at best, with about the same amount of free time as you have work time, and into that free time goes bill paying, grocery shoping, running errands... you know all this. Either work less, or make that work worth something more than a paycheck. But you also have to survive, adn that requires money.

I think it plagues women more than men. Most of my male friends simply go get jobs, make money, feel
secure, and don't question it any further. Men seem better able to think linearly, and are better able to compartmentalize their lives.

Me and said friends are all amazing, smart, beautiful, talented, creative women. We could make money if we wanted to. We could get married and have kids if we wanted to. We could do anything we wanted to. But we don't know what to do. We are
encumbered by opportunities. We are jacks, not aces. We don't have a home.

Adding another layer is often a sense of guilt associated with our searching. We have lived privelidged lives. Again, it wasn't like everything was handed to us on a silver platter. We had to work hard, make decisions, make sacrifices, but we all got a running start by coming from healthy, secure, supportive families. So, what's wrong with us? Don't we apprecciate what we've had? I don't feel these guilts so much anymore, but I certainly have in the past few years.

I"m letting go of the guilt. Life hands you a set of cards, and you do what you can.

But some of us feel like we're on a quest. Choosing the road less travelled isn't always a choice, I don't think.

The book made me think of my struggle with this question . On one hand, I think that all our experince eventually adds to something greater, even if it's just some little tourist stop along the way. So, sometimes I thought you should just do whatever you could do that was stimulating and that you could learn from.

We, you, I should think of the Big Picture, and the place you can really use all your skills. But this book also talks about how no one that he interviewed had an epiphany where they sat up one time and knew exactly what was perfect for them. It was more a tug in this direction or that direction, and experience along the way. But then one thing a friend said months ago that was disharmonic with me at the moment, and has stuck with me, was that you shouldn't have to do the things that you don't like, and I totally disagree. All jobs have parts that are boring or uninteresting or whatever, and that's just part of life, and it also challenges you and you learn just as much from doing the things you do like as doing the things you don't like.

I have been considering a PhD for the past, oh, 15 years.
A phD should be carefully considered.

It can kill one's spirit, and the passion for the thing you are studying. I've barely written 10 poems since graduating with my MFA in poetry over a year ago. But it's all a pendulum, and I am doing other writing, and am sure poetry will resurface sooner or later.

Well, I just finished WSIDWML?, and that paragraph got my mind racing.

In general, I'm not worrying about it right now. I am about 2/3 of the way through a month of reading and writing.

I was a little worried I would get bored. I like having a lot of things going on. I have had days that I thought I was bored. I miss my arts and crafts and garden. But I am finding other ways to entertain myself, like developing my plans for when I rule the world, and then making a blog about it.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Basket Case

Or maybe I should not turn back. Maybe I should move on.

Forget anchors. I’ve thought about them enough. Forget eggs, though I didn’t give them the attention I thought they deserved; they haven’t been good to me. Except to say that they did lead me to my next image.

Baskets. Bread basket. Easter basket. Fruit basket. Basket case. Basket of goodness. Going to Hell in a hand basket. Picnic basket. Waste basket. Basketball.

Oh yes, the potential is exponential. Why put all your eggs in one basket? My eggs, all my precious eggs, they deserve more than just one stinking basket.

What is a basket? A basket is a place to hold things. A basket can hold all my dreams, my desires, my thoughts, my feelings. This blog is a basket, a basket for my eggs.

It’s a way to carry things. I have a basket on my bike. I can begin commuting to work (when I get a job, I mean) and carrying my briefcase in my bike basket. My briecase holds my computer, which is like the egg of my thoughts.

My basket of potential is huge. I am all over the board with experience. Though that makes it harder to go in a straight line into some job or another, it makes the fit all the more perfect when I arrive. I must make sure that all my eggs arrive intact. I can’t go trying to force myself to fit into just any old basket, because then all my eggs will break.

So, here I am, always spinning in circles: Am I thinking in eggs, or am I thinking in baskets? What started out as such as brilliant idea has broken into a pool of yolk. I think I’ve thought too much.

So, as the L said last night: It’ll all work out, so just forget about it.

Eggs vs Anchors

My eggs are in one metaphorical basket right now – an environmental analyst/biologist/ecologist position at a firm in Encinitas. . Imagine me hiking through southern California collecting data and writing amazing reports and saving lots of endangered plants and animals! Yes, I know. It’s perfect.

Makela, who works there, really enjoys it - lots of field work (i.e.: hiking), a laid back office, rewarding work. So, keep your fingers crossed for me. I had such a good feeling for the first few days, although I was in the nervous waiting period after turning in my resume. . . !!!

But those first few days have passed now, and despondancy is setting in. I turned in my resume and cover letter exaclt one week ago at 1:13pm last Friday. (I did that for luck becuase in 24 hour tim it's 13:13, my lucky number on my lucky day.) And by all estimations (mine, Makela’s, the other girl who applied and got an interview within a week), they should have contacted me by now if they wanted me.

I called yesterday, and the HR Guru didn’t answer. I hung up on her voice mail, not prepared to leave a message.

I called again today, and left a message. Being nervous, I scripted my dialogue beforehand in a clever way that would allow the lady to reply if she answered or allow me to read it consecutively if she did not. She did not, and I read, and when I hung up I realized I hang up quite quickly and should have also reminded myself in all caps at the top of my script:


But by that time it was too late; it was all over.

I’m giving up the egg metaphor now. It has done proved me wrong. I’m going to re-frame the whole job-hunting thing. It’s not about hatching an egg. It’s about dropping anchors.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Back to Biology

I laid down the other day and eventually took a nap, but while I was laying there I was thinking about all kinds of things. In my half comatose state I was really imagining what it would be like to work as an environmental analyst. You see in all my hunting for an income (i.e.: job), I was also trying to help out a new friend look for a job. And in the process of connecting one scientist to another I was reminded that I, too, am a scientist, and how important that is to me.

The job in question is that of environmental analyst.

Makela wrote:

You would be doing a lot of whatever people needed and would have time to figure out what your interests are. All year long, we have a contract with Southern California Edison to monitor tree cutters working up in the mountains and that is where a lot of people start. It is low pressure, but you could be gone a few days per week and get a good intro to sensitive plant and animals. That is a 4-5 hour RT, with some driving time once you're there. Then, during field season we need people to be in the field A LOT. That is when we are gone 4 days a week twice a month or so. We stay on-site and rent a house or stay at the Hilton in Santa Clarita. We go up early Monday and home late Thursday. You get burrs in your boots (and once or twice in my BUTT!!) and have to wear snake chaps and a lot of sunblock ALL DAY. There is also a fair amount of writing the reports that say "this is what we found, this is why it is significant, and this is what you need to do to mitigate impacts to this lil guy".

The question to ask is would you want to do this kind of work? Would this fit with your long term goals in some way? They are going to invest a lot of time training you and it takes a while to really understand this industry. It's kinda complicated at times. Learning the plants and animals takes time and a real interest in it. It doesn't happen, at least for lugheads like me, unless I work at it. But I really *WANT* to know this stuff, so it doesn't seem like work most days for me. I would want to see you do this only if this was one of your passions that you wanted to explore for a while to see how it felt.

It involves essentially helping developers develop property. We can talk pretty about what we do, but when the rubber hits the road, that is the boiled-down essence of our jobs. Our paychecks are from Dudek, but Dudek is funded almost exclusively by the development industry. We joke that we are "biostitutes". We all work very hard to help the developers follow the rules, and Dudek is extremely ethical because our reputation is on the line if we aren't. But at the end of the day, that industry is our bread and butter.

But enough about Makela, back to what I'm thinking:

Damn morals are always complicating things, aren't they? If you really think about any job a lot, it always leads back to something unpleasant. Especially in a country driven my military-industrial complex. But that's discussion for a different day...

So, what does it mean to help developers follow the law? It is a question of how implicated in the economic system one can be, and where is one guilt free, and the other guilty. Even at the EcoCenter for Alternative Fuel Education, the whole time I worked there our funding came pretty much exclusively from one generous donor who made his money… selling cars! And, yes, they were gasoline cars. All of them.

I have been thinking about my future a lot lately, and where I want it to go. I like to work hard, but I like to be the boss even more. So that led me to think I should start my own business. This is not a new idea, it is one I have had since I was a child. And lately I’ve been thinking about what I *could* do, perhaps even more than what I want to do.

And then suddenly there was this little thought: I could go back to science. I have been going down this other path for nearly five years, and I didn’t ever stop to think that I could back up, and go down the path I was on before. I consider myself a biologist, an ecologist. But how long can I really claim that if I am out of the field? And what part of myself will I lose when that claim is no longer accurate?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Eggs are the new anchors.

Last week I was in a yoga class and the teacher had us all sitting at the very beginning. She talked about how it was the beginning of the year, and many people make resolutions, and everyone think about your resolutions for a moment. Then she asked us to concentrate on one resolution to hold as a focus for the class, and then to come up with a visualization for that goal/focus.

Well, I thought about more than one resolution, as I always make plenty. First I thought about how I plan to incorporate small, easy habits into my life that will improve my health and quality of life (such as drinking lemon water, drinking green tea, chewing my food thoroughly, etc.) Then I recalled how I want to find a career path, and explore it, and succeed with it. I am open to the career, but I want it to be a good fit, and so I have had my feelers out about that lately, and it is a goal for this year. Then I visualized...

an egg.

And now I am obsessed. Eggs are the new anchors. Eggs are so rich with meaning and interpretation: new beginnings, fragile/strong, potential, life, nest, nurture, creation, earth. The metaphors go on and on.

And eggs always remind of something the sailor once said, "Unfulfilled Potential." There is life inside an egg, protected by a stroung shell. but it must be nurtured, protected from stronger than shell forces, kept at just the right tempurature for that life to emerge, else it is just unfulfilled potential.