October 30, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut ·
La Mesa Downtown Village Streetscape Improvement Project
Above we are on Allison Ave. facing east, in La Mesa, CA, during the La Mesa Downtown Village Streetscape Improvement Project. With almost every street in La Mesa between University and 4th Ave being torn up for the next year and a half, it will be very easy to photograph and document the progress.
The Trolley Runs Through La Mesa
The entire downtown La Mesa, CA area is being improved, and what you see above are the first steps towards that improvement.
Rain Does Not Help Construction
Right now, it’s a game of patience and tolerance. Wider sidewalks and shady trees are in the future for La Mesa, but until then we have to be patient, tolerate the noisy construction and put up with the traffic delays.
October 28, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut ·
San Diego Trolley Is About To Change
The two models of San Diego trolley cars you see above will be a thing of the past by the summer of 2013. San Diego will have taken delivery and implemented use of 57 brand new Siemens S70 light rail vehicles. They are the same model as the green line LRV’s we have now, but customized to be shorter, giving them a length that allows them to travel to downtown station without blocking intersections.
October 28, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Sunset At The Southern End Of Bayshore Bikeway
At southern most part of the Bayshore Bikeway, there is a metal bench that had me facing north, towards the Coronado Bridge and downtown San Diego, with the bike path directly behind me. The shot above took place while looking over my left shoulder, to the southwest.
South Bay Power Plant At Golden Hour
To my right was the scene above, the South Bay power plant, bathed in golden hour light. I keep hearing conflicting reports as to what is ever going to happen to the power plant; some say it’s coming down because of permit trouble or because it isn’t needed to ensure reliable electricity for the city anymore, and others say it’s going to stay because it has a relatively neutral environmental impact and California needs all the electricity it can get.
Dinosaur Cage Sunset In June
As the Earth orbits the sun and spins on it’s axis, the seasons change and the relative position of the sun rising and setting slides along the horizon. The photo above was taken from the same bench as the top photo in the post, but back in June 2010. During early summer, the sun sets directly behind the dinosaur cage, relative to the bench at the southern most part of Bayshore Bikeway.
Anyway, I’m trying to decide if I want to pay to have my 5 year sitting outside neglected 1970′s Free Spirit 10 speed bicycle fixed up or by a new bike altogether. I want to start riding my bike to work but not having a bike to ride is the first, most important obstacle to overcome.
October 26, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut ·
How We Make Garlic Bread
I can’t really tell you that I have a secret for great garlic bread, but I can tell you how to make great garlic bread. It’s pretty simple. Start with a fresh loaf of bread from the bakery, sliced to a thickness that suits your personal or situational needs. Butter the slices liberally, then top with minced garlic, salt, pepper, grated parmesan & cheddar cheese. Place the bread in a 350 degree oven for 3 minutes, then switch the oven to broil while moving the bread to whatever position is dictated by the broiler for 60 highly scrutinized seconds, then pull the bread out in great haste. That’s it.
October 24, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Zombies At Technomania Circus
Technomania Circus entertained us last night with a performance of the 2nd annual ZOMBIE SHOW!! This show is perfectly timed for Halloween with fire and an entire cast of zombies. For those of you that have never been, Technomania Circus lives right next to the west-bound orange line trolley station at 25th & Commercial.
This was my first Zombie Show, so I wondered what the Technomaniacs would have in store, beyond a zombified theme. It turned out the entire cast performed the entire show as zombies… Brilliant. We got to see zombies dance, match wits on a game show, play musical instruments, juggle and play with fire.
(Above) The Newlydead Game
Dr. Techno Performs
Dr. Techno is the guy and the guy behind the guy at the home of Technomania Circus. He is the magnetic force that attracts and holds the circus together, working tirelessly and guess what? Today, (October 24, 2010) is Dr. Techno’s 65th birthday! Happy Birthday Dr. Techno! The world thanks you for all the laughter & joy you’ve brought us.
Not to be out-done, Willy Bologna played the harp, rocking us out to a zombified version of The Cranberries song, “Zombie.” Anton the zombie juggled for us, which was amazing considering that he was after all, a zombie.
There was a smattering of fire and blacklight at Technomania Circus during the Zombie Show, as well as an appearance by The Welderman. The zombie above sang to us while slowly ripping off pieces of his own flesh and throwing them into the audience. Halloween is a great time of year!
Blacklight Theater At Technomania Circus
The Welderman At Technomania Circus
And that’s a wrap! Once again I had a great Saturday night adventure at Technomania Circus, and this show took place under a full moon, which helped to make the night night extra scary and extra lively. Check the Technomania website for future shows and special events. There’s at least one show per month, and sometimes even more so you are never too far away if you happen to be in need of a fix from the circus. Above is a video that shows a minute or so of intros and Dr’ Techno’s famous balancing act and wraps up with zombies rocking out to the L7 song, “Pretend That We’re Dead.”
October 21, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Last month, I wrote an article that got picked up by Wikileaks.org, so my website was famous until today. Now, the worthless Technorati algorithm that determines the worthless Technorati rank has crashed me down… Big time. Above you see me now and below you see me then.
October 18, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut ·
15 Seconds Near La Mesa Blvd Trolley Station
We have our first update for trolley closures that will accommodate construction for the trolley renewal project. In a nutshell, blue line southbound service will terminate at Palm Ave. on the weekends between now and the end of 2010. Shuttles will run in lieu of the trolleys between Palm Ave. and the border. There will also be an express shuttle running directly from San Ysidro to Palomar station. During the holiday weekends of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years there will be no construction so the blue line trolley will be running regular weekend service all the way to the border. This seems very straightforward to me: From now until the end of the year, there will be trolley service disruptions on non-holiday weekends between the Palm Avenue station and the San Ysidro/International Border station.
October 15, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Cutting Down Trees At La Mesa Blvd Trolley Station
There is a lot of construction going on in La Mesa, CA right now, with roads being torn up, buildings being torn down and even mature eucalyptus trees falling victim to the next phase of La Mesa’s history When I first heard the chainsaw and then saw what was being cut, I questioned why these trees couldn’t be spared and built around for the La Mesa Downtown Village Streetscape Improvement Project, but ultimately thought better of it because I began to wonder about La Mesa’s past and what was going on the day the tree above was planted. I came to think about some long ago time when natural vegetation at this very spot was cleared to make way for the planting of the eucalyptus tree that I now witnessed being cut down and the road behind it. Was there some one back then standing in the same spot I was standing when I took these photos, momentarily lamenting the same thing as me until realizing that something better was probably on the way?
Preparing For Progress
I see the La Mesa Downtown Village Streetscape Improvement Project as something better than we have now and I’m pretty sure the trees above are being cut down in preparation of the January 2011 construction start date. I’m especially excited for all the improvements that will make downtown La Mesa even more pedestrian friendly than it is now as well as all the new shade trees that will be planted. It’s progress for a purpose, not just for the sake of it, so I’m supporting it.
October 12, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut ·
When I look at the plans for San Diego’s $620 million Trolley Renewal Project, I like what I see. When the project is completed in 2013, the green line will run from Santee, through Old Town, absorb the northern half of the blue line’s route and take over the western part of the orange line’s route, passing through Santa Fe Depot, Seaport Village, Gaslamp District, The Convention Center and terminating at 12th & Imperial. That is awesome! The blue line will still run from the Mexican border through downtown, but will terminate at Santa Fe Depot. The orange line looses one stop at its northern end and a few stations at the southern end so it will run from Arnele Ave. in El Cajon and will terminate at Santa Fe Depot. The map below shows the what the trolley routes will look when the project is completed and lists all the improvements scheduled to be made.
Future San Diego Trolley Map
This is all great news because we’ll be able to get on any trolley in San Diego and be able to get to downtown, 12th & Imperial Transit Center and PETCO Park as well as Santa Fe Depot, which is the station that hosts Amtrak, Coaster and the number 992 airport shuttle bus. That will make the area an even bigger hub of traveler and tourist activity, and probably a desirable place to live if you are strictly a public commuter. I think SDMTS has done a great job thinking this out, and knowing that in 2½ short years downtown San Diego will have TWO stations that connect to ALL THREE San Diego trolley lines has me feeling good about the future of public transportation here.
As if the new, smarter routes for the trolley were not enough, the trolleys themselves will be brand new, ultra modern, low floor Siemens S70 light rail vehicles (LRVs). They’ll look like the green line trolleys we have now except they will be 11 feet shorter, which will allow them to maneuver through the confines of downtown. Low floor trolleys enable everyone, including people with bicycles, strollers and wheelchairs to board faster and easier. The low floor requires stations with raised platforms, so all the blue and orange line stations will be getting renovated to accommodate the new trolleys and improve the amenities. Other things being replaced that are less visible to the commuters are the rails, ties, overhead wires and flashing lights replaced with LEDs on crossing mechanisms. I think San Diego’s trolley system will be looking pretty slick by the middle of summer in 2013.
San Diego Trolley Renewal Project Schedule
In the spirit of making San Diego’s trolley and public transportation better, I have compiled a wish list that I am presenting to the world in the hopes that SDMTS will see it and agree with me on some or all of the ideas and concepts and eventually incorporate them into the system. Even though this is a TROLLEY renewal program, I’ve included a few things I think would improve the bus, since the bus and the trolley are intimately connected and should ultimately work seamlessly together. I took the liberty of numbering them, which makes each one seem like more of a goal to strive for rather than a grocery list of wants.
1. A recurring theme for getting information out to riders about closures, delays and everything else before, during and especially after the Trolley Renewal Project should be that information should be instant and available through multiple channels. A phone number to call a real person, a CONSTANTLY updated webpage, tweets from SDMTS, loudspeaker announcements at the stations, and LED signs that display current UP TO THE MINUTE INFORMATION would be immensely helpful. Also, hardcore access to current conditions in San Diego’s public transportation world should continue after the renewal project is over. It should become the norm and an example for other cities model.
2. We should be able to know what is going on AT every trolley station FROM every trolley station in a bright, visual way with options of audio for the visually impaired. All the world’s airports have boards that show what’s going on at every gate in every terminal, so the trolley should do the same. I might be at a blue Line trolley station in South Bay now but if I’m meeting friends or going to work in Mission Valley, I need to know about delays in downtown or Old Town that might cause me to miss my green line transfer.
3. We should have a single phone number to call that will handle the questions or concerns that 99% of the people have 99% of the time. Things like, schedule info, delays, closures, broken TVM’s (ticket vending machines) or other damaged property, broken compass card readers and security concerns. Being able to talk to a real person 7 days a week is important, even if it’s not 24 hours a day, it should at least be until the final trolley of the night. I would think that SDMTS customer service reps would have some valuable input for this.
4. Being able to receive up to $15 change when paying my fare with cash on the bus or at a TVM would enable us to purchase a single $5 day pass with a $20 bill or purchase a monthly $72 Compass Card with four $20 bills. That would be the single best thing SDMTS could do for commuters and tourists. The twenty dollar bill is the currency of choice for every ATM in the country, so every bus and TVM should be able to make change for it. Our public transportation would be so much more convenient and infinitely less frustrating if it could break a twenty for us. The current $5 TVM change limit and $0 bus change limit really is unacceptable and causes a lot of missed buses and trolleys.
5. I would like to be able to pay my fare with a credit card when boarding the bus.
6. Buses should never pull away from a station if a trolley is pulling in. There is nothing worse than being on a trolley that pulls into a station, close enough to your connecting bus that you are able to make eye contact with the driver, and then watch the bus pull away. That frustrates commuters and ruins their day while at the same time it keeps tourists waiting at transfer stations instead of spending money around town.
7. Just like on the trolley, able bodied and special needs passengers should be able to board and exit the bus at the same time.
8. Compass Cards are fairly transparent to use on the bus, but INCONVENIENT to use when taking a trip by trolley. I have a very simple and elegant solution: We only tap Compass Cards when boarding a bus or when asked to tap a security guard’s hand-held scanner and THAT’S IT. Other than the trip-tracking data collected, there is no reason to tap our Compass Cards before boarding a trolley or transferring between trolleys. Tapping for the bus and tapping for the security guards would be simple, easy and smart.
October 10, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut ·
La Mesa Residents Complain?
Earlier today, I came across a website that is produced by and for residents of my current hometown of La Mesa, CA, called La Mesa Patch. It’s a pretty thorough website that has a lot of info about La Mesa but I found many of the news articles to really be nothing more than complaints about unpopular things rather that actual news. One of their articles gave a one sided opinion of a cell phone tower located at 7840 El Cajon Blvd. that has been in place since 1994 and since this cell phone tower is a 5 minute walk from my house, I decided to check it out for myself. The article, which can be read here, states a few things that I think are untrue and weird, so this post is a response to the aforementioned article.
Something I’ve learned during my journalistic career is that online and paper publications will flat-out lie to make their point. I don’t blame them because there is no accountability or regulation when it comes to printing or publishing a lie. The government won’t do shit unless the lie is directed towards them, so that leaves it to us citizens to regulate and monitor every form of media ourselves, without the blessing of, or a lick of help from the government. Any news outlet, media, blog, or paper can throw words like racist, stereotype and offensive around without defining or explaining them and, right now in 2010, all of these terms are being misused to suit to purpose of the person or organization that uses them.
What Exactly Is A Blight?
The article that started me off on this Sunday afternoon mission states that La Mesa residents think the cell phone tower featured in this post is a “blight” on the skyline of La Mesa. I have two problems with this. The first is that the term “La Mesa residents” seems to encompass only two people interviewed for the article, and the second is that the word “blight” is not defined. So, two people that might have no idea what the definition of blight is think a cell phone tower is a blight. Really? Unless I’m hanging out with a gardener, I hardly never hear the word “blight” used but two different people in La Mesa used that word to describe a cell phone tower? That leads me to believe that the author of the article didn’t ask for the resident’s opinion by asking a neutral question like, “What do you think about that cell phone tower?” but instead asked something like, “I think that cell phone tower is an ugly blight, don’t you think so too?” If the article were to be accurate and honest, the SECOND question these two citizens (that apparently represent all 58,000 residents of La Mesa) should have been asked is, “How do you define the word, blight?” If they can’t define it, then they shouldn’t be quoted as saying it. My point (I think) is that having an interviewee answer a yes or no question does not count as soliciting an opinion, and I find it annoying when reporters lead their subjects like that.
Mickey Mouse Church FINALLY Has Mickey Mouse Ears
The La Mesa Patch article that seemed to me to be trying to rally support for the removal of the cell phone tower states, “From one angle, the stately bell tower of St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church seems to have grown Mickey Mouse ears.” I checked that out for myself, and that is actually true… From ONE location, which happens to be the driveway of La Mesa Deluxe Trailer Court at 7624 El Cajon Blvd., the church does have Mickey Mouse ears. From the vantage point of ONE SINGLE place in the universe, the lines of a Catholic church’s bell tower are sullied. So what? What I don’t understand is why La Mesa residents don’t call for the removal of the church tower in question, considering there are 4,392 angles that depict the Catholic church as a refuge and protector of pedophiles.
My cell phone reception and service in La Mesa is perfect, so if taking down that tower would make it less than perfect, then it should stay, because we need to be able to rely on our cell phones everywhere, everyday and I would also question just how many La Mesa residents actually want it torn down just because of what it looks like. If it turns out there are a lot of residents that decide they want it gone and actually begin to organize, will they be using their cell phones to do it?