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Dreamland

It’s not often I make recommendations about TV shows, but when I do they seem to be Australian. To anyone who’s enjoyed this blog, I might recommend “Dreamland”, and season 1, episode 3 specifically. It’s on Netflix, in Canada at least.

The show is a sitcom that follows an inept planning/development office as hey try to get anything done. Good stuff.

I think I remember the show being marketed as something else in Australia, perhaps “Utopia” or something like that (in case you want to try torrenting).

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Posted in: Politics
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Rethinking the Urban Bike Map

Gosh. I’m going to do one of those academic blog posts where I self-promote by telling you that I’ve just published a paper and that you should go read it. I hate those. But, I had actually been meaning to make my thoughts into a blog post or two, and without the intervention of my academic advisor at the time, I would have; now the thing is a paper instead of a post, a full year after it would have been a post, and have I mentioned that you should read it? It’s about bike maps, and what I hate about bike maps and how I attempted to make them better as a genre, by example, and then by overly formal peer-reviewed explication.

The paper is in Cartographic Perspectives which is the journal of the very cool North American Cartographic Information Society who’s conference I attended last year. Cool people. Very friendly. If anyone out there is considering being a cartographer in North America, I recommend you do it, and not just for the conferences and open access journals.

P.S. Here is a link to the article PDF just in case the above link breaks when the issue gets published.

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Posted in: Bicycles | Maps | Psychological
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Aus dem Geiste der Musik

Another in a series of posts that I wrote over the winter of 2014 and am just getting around to posting or deleting. -Nate

——–

Why transit? A question I must answer before I find the will to finish my thesis. Why Transit! An exclamation at the oblivion of the very question.

But deeper: why transport?

I’ll rule out some trivial replies.

Have I yet ruled out all modern motives? I’ll add two elders.

Let me posit a more confident alternative, this more Freudian, or better, Dionysian: that what arrests me is the corporeal power and speed, transcendent of our form but bequeathed of our minds, the heavy, lunging, muscular dynamism that urges our economy superfluity, that beats a swift rhythm on our liminal moments between here and there.

There is something terrible and ecstatic in our collective machinations, something not really expressed since it’s common evocation in art deco. Many of these works evoke power, grace, and hope; in them, man transcends nature and reaches toward the gods, stretches across the planet, taking what is his with the authority so unlawfully delegated by Prometheus.

Art Deco TransportDominance. The feeling of man transcendent. And there is a rhythm to transit, to certain kinds of transportation.

A rhythm to what has come to be diminished as a ‘lifestyle-of-urbanity’; a taste. Rather: a need.

And may I proffer a strong position? I should suggest that perhaps ‘our’ (post)modern inclination toward ubiquitous synthetic rocking beat is a substitute for, a prosthetic for, this sensitivity to organic, rhythmic affair, to the slower beat of vital communalism.

I rarely listen to contemporary music. I mostly find it contrived, expressive of emotions that I like to think myself to have transcended. I know this much: cars do not have rhythm, and it has been seen necessary to fit them with a stereo for that reason. Neither do planes have rhythm, with their relatively conventional and anonymous quietude. Trains and buses have rhythm, trains more than buses. Trains may even approximate a rock or dance beat with their clacking double beat as two paired wheelsets traverse seam between railties. And if the train itself has rhythm, it’s precession has voice!1

What could be more natural than that?

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  1. As anyone living near the CSX yard should well know! God, how I miss falling asleep to those tones.
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Posted in: Psychological
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Businesses: request a real-time display

Design and development of the real-time arrival displays has finally begun!1

MetroNow App Wireframe

Wireframe showing basic layout of the display (draft)

And while that is ongoing, we are seeking early adopters to sign up to get a display for their business. The deal, in a nutshell, is this: we’re subsidizing the purchase of tablet computers set up to run a localised real-time transit display. Businesses will be responsible for somewhere between $20 and $40 of the cost of the tablet and will be responsible for maintaining it in a prominent location, with a source of electric power and a good wifi signal. We will help to supply mounting hardware, if needed, appropriate to the location. Businesses must be located on a fairly major transit line, preferably in a business district or an area with a lot of foot traffic. We’re imagining that tablets will either be placed in side-walk facing windows or placed prominently inside the business such as behind a bar.

If you’re interested in getting a display for your business, please email Daniel Schleith. He’ll get your information, answer any questions, and let you know when we’ve selected the lucky winners/trendsetters who will receive tablets.

(Please note that once the app is ready, you’ll also be able to run it in any computer with an internet browser, not just on these tablets.)

More info here.

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  1. Well, it actually began a couple weeks ago, and I haven’t had a chance to post until now.
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Posted in: Psychological | Talking about Transit
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‘Roadkill’

I’ve recently become involved with a new podcast over on the Meddling with Nature blog, where I also happen to be a fairly regular contributor. Our second episode was about ‘roadkill’, a topic I’ve discussed here before as well. As it seems only so rarely that the different aspects of my generalist interests overlap, I can get quite excited and hope to cement the connections; it is in this eager spirit of cement that I share with you in the transportation world, a relevant part of my more philosophical and psychological interests.

Link to the episode

Also, if you’re curious, you can hear my douchy sounding voice, which is something that happens less often than I’d like on a some of blogs I read. Bloggers have bodies too!

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Posted in: Psychological
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Plans, 2015

Where are we going here? I like to have these little check-ins every so often. Just you and I, reader. I’m having fun writing this, but are you having fun reading it? I just bet you are. But am I actually having fun, you ask? Perhaps I should stop reading meta-novels and explain myself.

When I started this blog, I came up with a big fancy mission statement, all full of pomp and purpose. Some bullshit about improving the transit system and the average person’s understanding of it…yadda yadda yadda. A year ago I scribbled all that out in a fit of cynicism. Then I allowed this little rant or this one to pass out of my database and into someone else’s. Clearly I’m engaged in negative attention seeking here to some degree, no matter how thoroughly I fail to attract any. The Authority’s door is closed and bolted and here I am like a jilted stalker, banging and hollering.

One should really get on with one’s life, you say politely.

I appreciate your discretion, reader. One should…

But let me deflect for a moment to ask about you, reader. Just who are you anyway? (Are you comfortable? Can I get you anything? No?) But let me guess, let me be a terrible bore and guess who you are. By your manner, I can tell you’re a connoisseur. A sponge for ideas, sucking and filtering and digesting the delectables. Firmly planted, for life if the angelfish don’t get you, you’ll grow large here.

Why do we find ourselves here anyway? Is it the rich current? Is there any point to asking the question? Am I plankton in this metaphor? Reader, I hope you won’t let me punish myself with that diminutive. Bless you. Yes, why yes, I must be a shark. Thank you. That’s much better. The stray blood can feed you just as well, can’t it? Cells are cells after all and we all love that yummy protoplasm.

Sponges are hardly clever, reader, and I hope you don’t think I insult by analogy. I mean only to imply settlement. How about a barnacle? They use their lives to build elaborate structures that every once in a while must be scrubbed off the bottoms of ships. They also have more complicated organs I presume.

Myself on the contrary, I find I’m quite unable to stop swimming, even if I do keep circling the dock…enough — this is getting silly.

I wanted to write about transit because I want to change it. But I find the situation quite impossible, and so I propose now as consolation that I write for my own amusement. I’m no good for organizations anyway. I only cause trouble. I keep catching myself with the goals of a diplomat and the inclinations of a grenadier. Perhaps, you say, I should adopt the goals of a grenadier? That’s an interesting suggestion, reader…a great many resources have been freed by the precise use of dynamite…

What are we even talking about? Reader, why is it that whenever I talk with you, we both get so bogged down in metaphor? Sharks, explosives, and this whole elaborate analogy with Ace and the Doctor and a missing TARDIS that I haven’t even worked out yet…

I mean, I suppose, that I must leave a tired Apollo to consort with his livelier brother; Do some thrashing that we both may feed; Become prankish, that word I keep circling back to.

Here is my plan for the coming months on this the Cincinnati Transit Blog, the name of which itself now chafes me with it’s seriousness:

  1. Get those KINDA t-shirts posted online, perhaps giving them to the homeless if they don’t sell.
  2. Make some absurd transit related bumper stickers. I have a few ideas on this already. Let the cars be explicit in their condemnation!
  3. Place bus tokens on the streetcar tracks so that the new may flatten the ‘old’. Sell them as trinkets at a trendy OTR shop for a ridiculous markup.
  4. Find a new patron once my term with the current one expires(anyone??)
  5. Engage promiscuously with other cities.
  6. Make sweeping and provocative generalizations.
  7. Design SORTA’s mascot, the counterpart of TANK Man and probably a pig.
  8. Burn some bridges to warm myself by the fire. Anyway, I’m either catching a helicopter out or descending…
  9. Aphorism.
  10. Poetry.
  11. Speak only to my equals.
  12. Keep reading, keep searching, move on.

Are you still there, reader?

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Posted in: Psychological
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