I'm traveling for the weekend in one of the six cities I've experienced year-round. Updates may be spotty. Right now, I just need a nap.
I was thinking back to a somewhat strange question: where in the world have I experienced all 12 months of the year? I mean, I think you have to do that in order to say you really know a place.
Before I get to that, let me explain the post's title. The second time I ever set foot in New York was 30 years ago Monday, on 4 December 1987. (The first time was 23 July 1984.)
New York is also the second place in the world, after Chicago, where I experienced all 12 months of the year. I crossed that finish line on 1 April 1989, during my first year at university.
The other places (and dates) are Raleigh, N.C. (1 May 2010), London (1 September 2013), Los Angeles (1 October 2014), and San Francisco (29 October 2015).
L.A. really surprised me. Half my family lived there for 30 years, but between school, work, and dumb luck, it took over 40 years from my first visit there (19 April 1974) until I finally, finally experienced an October day there. And that was a work trip—I didn't even intend to do it.
The other odd bit is that the entirety of the time I spent in North Carolina is documented in this blog.
I think this post will interest about six people, but since one of them is me, and the rest of my brain is working on some pretty slippery user stories for work, up it goes.
A graduate student in New York has studied the genetic makeup of the city's rat populations, and discovered a divide between uptown and downtown:
As a whole, Manhattan’s rats are genetically most similar to those from Western Europe, especially Great Britain and France. They most likely came on ships in the mid-18th century, when New York was still a British colony. Combs was surprised to find Manhattan’s rats so homogenous in origin. New York has been the center of so much trade and immigration, yet the descendants of these Western European rats have held on.
When [Fordham University graduate student Matthew] Combs looked closer, distinct rat subpopulations emerged. Manhattan has two genetically distinguishable groups of rats: the uptown rats and the downtown rats, separated by the geographic barrier that is midtown. It’s not that midtown is rat-free—such a notion is inconceivable—but the commercial district lacks the household trash (aka food) and backyards (aka shelter) that rats like. Since rats tend to move only a few blocks in their lifetimes, the uptown rats and downtown rats don’t mix much.
I think rats are cool. I know they carry diseases and they have generally unpleasant habits in many cases, but they're symbiotic with us and they're all over every urban environment in the world. Also they make great pets—not New York feral brown rats, mind you, but your typical Norway lab rat is a pretty chill companion.
Scientists have found a correlation (but, crucially, not a causation) between the earth's rotation slowing slightly and an increase in seismic activity:
Although such fluctuations in rotation are small – changing the length of the day by a millisecond – they could still be implicated in the release of vast amounts of underground energy, it is argued.
The link between Earth’s rotation and seismic activity was highlighted last month in a paper by Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado in Boulder and Rebecca Bendick of the University of Montana in Missoula presented at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.
“The correlation between Earth’s rotation and earthquake activity is strong and suggests there is going to be an increase in numbers of intense earthquakes next year,” Bilham told the Observer last week.
Exactly why decreases in day length should be linked to earthquakes is unclear although scientists suspect that slight changes in the behaviour of Earth’s core could be causing both effects.
Energy has to go somewhere. And systems as large as the earth move a lot of energy around. Could get rumbly this year.
A new book by an English retiree compiles still classified Soviet maps of British and American cities:
On a business trip to Riga, Latvia’s capital, in the early 2000s, [John Davies] hit the mother lode. Davies happened upon a shop that held bundles of Cold War-era maps of British cities, created by the Soviet military. The maps were so detailed that they included such elements as the products factories made and bridges’ load-bearing capacity. “I was just amazed,” Davies said.
Each time Davies went to Riga, he would bring back another armload of the maps. And it turned out the Soviet military hadn’t just made maps of British cities: Davies discovered similarly intricate maps of U.S. cities, as well as areas across the globe. He and Alexander Kent, a professor of cartography at Canterbury Christ Church University, worked together to figure out how the maps were made. Their research can be found in a new book, The Red Atlas.
It's published in the US on my home-town imprint, the University of Chicago Press—and is at this writing out of stock on Amazon. (And of course I just ordered it.)
Via CityLab's new newsletter "MapLab:"
“Vision Zero” supporters are tapping into big data in other ways. This month, Strava, the app that tracks users’ athletic activity, re-released a “Global Heatmap” tracing more than 1 billion jogs, hikes, and bike rides by millions of members around the world. (The running scene in London, in striking orange and black, is shown above.) Already, some public agencies are making use of the data to support and protect all that sweat. CityLab’s Benjamin Schneider recently wrote about how Utah’s DOT is changing road and intersection designs to be safer for cyclists, based on the map. “It’s replacing anecdote with data,” one local planner told him.
Here's the run map for Chicago's north lakefront:
This is total Daily Parker bait. But I actually have work to do today.
I have some free time coming up next Friday, but until then, there's a lot going on. So I have very little time to read, let alone write about, these stories from this week:
Back to project planning...
I'm chilling in my hotel room on the second day of my trip, not sure how much longer I'll remain awake. (Waking up at 5am sucks, even more so when it's 4am back home.) This is a problem in that I need to write some code before tomorrow.
So I've spent a few minutes perusing the blog feeds and news reports that came in today, and I have a favorite. The favorite is not:
No, though all of those brought little flutters of joy to my heart, the story that London is going to make Oxford Street a pedestrian utopia by 2020 really got my interest. Since I have never driven a car anywhere in Zone 1 and have no intention of ever doing so, I think blocking 800 meters of Oxford Street to cars is fookin' brilliant.
Because of a quirk in the calendar, today's sunrise in parts of the United States that observe daylight saving time was the latest it's been in many years. In Chicago, that was 7:27 this morning. The sunrise won't be that late again until 6 November 2021.
Plus, it was pissing with rain when the sun finally did come up today, making it especially gloomy.
I'm not really sure why we switched from the end of October to the beginning of November in 2007, but I really hate it.
It's hard to believe, but if you're trying to use public transit to get to an airport, you might want to use Bing Maps instead of Google:
Instead of advising you to take one of the “Airporter” buses from San Francisco International Airport, Oakland International Airport, and San Jose International Airport to the north and south of the Bay Area, the app will propose a two- or three-step odyssey on Bay Area Rapid Transit rail and then local buses.
As Google describes things, putting those city-to-terminal routes into its mapping apps shouldn’t be that hard. A transit operator has to apply to be listed in Google Transit, publish its schedule in the standard General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format, and have Google run some quality tests on that feed before factoring it into directions.
Three Airporter services in the Bay Area, meanwhile, had not even gotten to that first step.
“Google has never reached out to us, but at the moment I don’t think we have our schedule in a compatible format,” David Hughes, charter manager at Marin Airporter, says via email. “We are currently working on a new website and we should have the formatting correct when it is published.”
By the way, Bing is not that bad in general. People use Google as their default (I do) but sometimes Bing has better results.
For Chicago, it's not as much of an issue, because the CTA Blue Line goes straight to O'Hare Terminals 1-2-3. But in this case, Google says I can take a bus to the Blue Line and be there in 58 minutes, while Bing doesn't seem to realize that my bus goes all the way to the Blue Line.
All of which suggests that you shouldn't rely entirely on one source of information.