Start here, go anywhere.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I am a bit nervous already for the race. Maybe because I've never done transitions before, never swum in Lake Erie before, and never rode with so many cyclists on the same road before. Knowing the course, seeing the pictures didn't help. I've started having pseudo-nightmares about the race. A remarkably realistic dream on Sunday night involved me missing my heat by 10 minutes. Another involved my bike being stolen out of the transition area (weirdly, it was indoors and it was storming during the race). I have never dreamt about a race before. Even in the 13 years of competitive swimming, even knowing I had a tough race ahead of me (like swimming the 1650 for the first time), it never happened. I guess I always felt prepared enough. Having a coach and a race plan and a team help. Here I'm on my own.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
I broke two personal records this weekend. Saturday I went for a 3 hour bike ride (I'm pseudo-following a tri training regime I found on my computer... where it came from nobody knows!). I hit a couple rather large hills, and as I pretty much slow to a crawl up hills, my overall speed wasn't that fast. Despite that, though, I rode 37.5 miles, which I'm 99.999% sure is the longest I've ridden. I only stopped 3x- once for my normal food break, once to relieve myself, and once because I dropped my chain. I was pretty proud of myself afterwards.
The other record was broken this morning. I jogged over to the track in the drizzling rain to run 3 one mile repeats. I was striving to hold somewhere around a 7 minute mile pace, since I held near-ish that pace in my best 5k time (also, my very first 5k time). I went 7:04, 7:11, and then... a 6:56!! During the last one, I realized I had not run a timed mile since 8th grade when I went a 6:59. Three seconds worth of improvement since junior high may not be something to write home about, but is better than nothing.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
This project involves a mind-boggling sum of money given to this Fortune 500 company so they can relocate from a downtown location out to a suburban office park near a freeway exit. The point of this entry is not to assess whether this move is a good idea; rather, it is to question the validity of heavily subsidizing sprawl. It also sets the precedent that any company could follow in their footsteps and ask for enormous sums of money so they, too, could move to their dream suburban campus. I get why the company wants to move to these locations- easy access, cheaper construction, etc. What I don’t understand is why an economic development supposedly committed to Cleveland is bending over backwards to assist them with moving out from the downtown.
This is a terrible precedent. More and more buildings sit empty in our downtown. More and more small businesses like flower shops and delis that support the big companies are folding up. I personally see few people during the day out on the street, even on a bright sunny day during lunch. Our downtown was declining, is still declining, and will continue to do so if we keep losing to our suburban cousins. But what do they have to offer? Fine cultural institutions? Distinctive locally owned restaurants? Historic architecture? I hardly think the movie theater at the mall or the Applebee’s in the parking lot can substitute for a world class museum of art or a bistro in an Art Deco building.
There is a general consensus in economic development (or at least what I’ve studied/experienced of it) that one of the keys to revitalizing a downtown is attracting the young professional crowd. I now count myself among that crowd. We’re mobile, educated, waiting longer to have families/settle down, and want a distinctive urban experience. We don’t want a bland office building in a sea of parking lots with unwalkable & unbikable streets. We don’t want an empty downtown devoid of life and relevance. We want a crème filled donut with frosting and sprinkles on top, not some cheap donut with powdered sugar that keeps blowing off and leaving a mess.
Friday, June 19, 2009
The one thing that really piqued my interest more than anything, though, was the concept of Nolli connections. A Nolli map is a special kind of map developed by a guy named Nolli (you guessed it!) to map Rome back in the 1700s. Briefly, it shows all public areas in white, and all private areas in black. It varies a bit from a traditional figure/ground or solids/voids map in that public area can include interior spaces that are open to the public, such as the Pantheon, small churches, etc. I've definitely seen the Nolli map before, and have even made a couple of my own for various projects. What I hadn't been alerted to before is a neat little feature of the Nolli map: showing interior connections. For instance, if one is in the center of a block and desiring to get to the other side, normally one has to walk down the streets to get to their final destination. However, a Nolli connection might cut through the block by walking through a church and then through a passageway out to the other side of the block. I do not think it was Nolli's express intention to show these connections, but he does provide a valuable resource.
We all have our own Nolli connections, though. They don't simply exist in Rome, and they may not be officially mapped, but they do exist. For example, at my undergraduate university, to get from morning swim practice to my 9am methods class at the opposite end of campus, I would take this much shorter route instead. I'd exit the athletic center, walk around the playing field, through the children's hospital to the atrium where I would purchase breakfast at the bagel stand, on through the regular hospital, over a walkway bridge, through a parking garage, through a parking lot, down a side street, and up a sorority house's driveway to get to the side door. Quite complicated, it did take me quite some time to learn that shortcut (and learn the official name: Nolli connection!). The nice thing was that it mostly inside, always a plus in these brutal winters, and that it was partially self-created. The hospital shortcut had been passed down from older swim team members, and I did my best to pass it on, too. The rest of that route? All mine. To the best of my knowledge, I was the only one who knew it. In a university of 10,000 students all navigating the same urban campus, sometimes it is nice to feel like one has their own space.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The good news is that I managed to blow through my morning bike commute with only having to stop three times at stoplights... the whole 6.5 miles! The workout had taken less time than I had budgeted, so between leaving earlier than usual and barely stopping the whole route, I got to work quite early, meaning I can leave early (or pad the week so I can work a shorter day tomorrow). Yeah! The other good news is that I managed to run the whole time with my hair in a low ponytail for the first time. I expect that I will have to do that for the triathlon (no need to waste time in T2 styling my hair!) so might as well get used to it now.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
One of the interesting things about currently studying urban planning and previously having studied architecture and art/design is that one is always surrounded by what one is studying. It is different than a lot of other careers because their field tends to be less pervasive in daily life (though one could certainly argue otherwise). It's sort of hard to leave the office/classroom behind because, in a way, the city is my office/classroom.
How so? Urban planning, in the most broad of definitions, is planning for how we use space 24/7/365. We are constantly in space, and generally in at least somewhat urbanized areas, so that's a no brainer. We are constantly around architecture due to our need for shelter. Art pervades my life less so, but design certainly does through product and industrial design and even things like typefaces. Perhaps I am more strongly affected by my surroundings than others, but regardless, I am always paying attention.
I tend to geek out over mundane things like sidewalks, curb cuts, street trees and pocket parks. I choose my running routes based on what beautiful homes and parks past which I want to run. I am always interested in how things are designed, ranging from the train that takes me downtown to things like spoon rests. It is natural, therefore, that my interest in the design of my environment extends to my virtual world as well. Having (already) grown tired of the Blogger layout, it is time to redesign my blog. I started by finding a cute background (check out the link in the upper left hand corner) and have a few ideas in mind to make this more 'me' (see intro post about narcissism and blogging). So, please bear with me while changes are being made. Who knows- you might even like the final product!
Friday, June 12, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Therefore, since I am training (and have been training) for a triathlon this summer, I must also engage in the somewhat self-indulgent activity of posting my thoughts to the web just like everyone else (when I start purchasing compression socks, someone slap me across the face). I am aware 99.99% of the world could care less what I think so I will make no pretext that this blog will somehow transcend the usual pedestrian fare out there. I'm more of a fan of the 140 character limit imposed by Twitter anyways. Eliminates a lot of the rambling. If you want to read a cool blog, or at least a blog written by a cool person, I'll be putting up a list of ones I enjoy (again: narcissism at its finest) on this page. If I get around to it, of course.
Now that we have buried any potentially high expectations for this blog, let me share some relevant information about my life, as it likely what I'll be posting about. I'm currently in graduate school in urban planning, I intern in the transportation field, I am a dedicated bike commuter (more due to poverty but lately to activism thanks to my internship), I live in a Rustbelt city along the Great Lakes and yes, I am training for a triathlon. Now go navigate your IE or Firefox or Safari to a more exciting site and find yourself something entertaining to read.