Monday, November 23, 2009

observational studies are just not all that difficult

Albany based its bicycle plan on the input of white people tied into local bike organizations. Some of these made conscious efforts to point out bike routes in unrepresented parts of the city, but presumably know rather less about what the average Albany bicycle user (who likely does not consider himself a “cyclist” and may well be wishing he had a car) wants. It looks like San Francisco is using the same tactic of collecting information from only those most interested in giving it. Cyclists are encouraged to install an iPhone app that tracks their routes to aid in traffic planning. You think maybe the folks willing and able to use this are not exactly representative of the population?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

RPI goes high-tech

RPI is running an “Exploring Engineering Day” this winter which I think C would enjoy. It’s free, but requires registration. Do they have an online registration form? No. You have to download a PDF. Is it a fillable PDF, which would allow you to easily and legibly enter your info and e-mail it in? No. You have to PRINT IT OUT and MAIL it. With your street address, so they can MAIL back a confirmation letter. Really, seriously? I’d expect that of a liberal arts college maybe, but c’mon.

(I went all 20th century and faxed it, then e-mailed the organizer to see if she got it. No response yet. Maybe they’re having trouble with their vacuum tubes or dropped a punchcard or something.)

They’re also inexplicably segregating the children by gender; boys in the morning, girls in the afternoon. (They didn’t have a place to mark gender on the form though; I wonder where they’ll place C.) Maybe they want the boys to get used to how it would be if they actually attended RPI?

Monday, November 02, 2009

the sky is falling!

Our household is becoming better able to weather short-term or long-term emergencies. Next week we are having a woodstove insert installed into our fireplace which should be capable of heating our house. I shudder every time Dan uses the fireplace because I feel it’s wasteful (it doesn’t put out much heat and it sends a lot of pollution up the chimney) but the insert should resolve both of those objections, plus we’ll have a backup heating/ cooking source when the power goes out.

A big birthday present this year was a water filter which, in addition to filtering chlorine and pollutants from our tap water, is capable of removing microorganisms as well. The filters should last over a decade and can render pond water safe for consumption. So if our town water supply has problems we’ll still be able to purify drinking water.

And I’ve finally gotten a 30-day supply of food stored away. I’m guessing that the food we keep in our kitchen would feed us all for 30 days, so having the extra storage in the basement means we can probably feed our family for two months. I see this as a good insurance policy, not only in the case of a community disaster or epidemic but if we’re sick or lose our jobs or for whatever reason don’t want to buy food for a while. I’ve stored things we normally eat- beans, pasta, etc.- which will be rotated into our pantry so the supplies stay fresh.

Given the ugliness and bad government handling of natural disasters over the last decade, I do not feel safe expecting outside assistance if my community is cut off from normal supply lines. Do you?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween Trick or Treating

The start of a very rainy trick-or-treating night...C as mercury pollution from Lafarge Cement plant, A as ballerina/princess, and me as Gargamel--note smurfs caught in a net bag, "Azrael" the cat peeking out of my cape, and I also made "smurf brownies" with blue M&M's that came out well... (even though he wasn't trying to eat the smurfs, of course, but instead turn them into gold).

Closeup with a friend

showing off the new short haircut

Blossoms Halloween Parade

A is one of the big kids now! Don't forget to click on photos to enlarge.