Friday, September 28, 2007

Consider this...

I haven't posted recently because it's been an absolutely crazy week at work, but at least I have something to show for it.

Downtown Columbia: A Community Vision is available for review. The description from the County website:

County Executive Ken Ulman announces the next step in the evolution of Downtown Columbia. DPZ is asking for your input and comments on the draft document that is to guide this next step. During the month of October, the County will hold a series of meetings and workshops to provide additional information and to ask for public input.

Please review the framework document available below, attend one or more of the public meetings, and provide the community with your comments. Please feel free to telephone, send an email or fill out a For Your Input form with your questions and comments.

Also on the website is a list of tour dates for the traveling roadshow and a copy of the Town Center traffic study. Feel free to leave comments on the draft here, but if you want your comments added to the official record, you're going to have to go through the official channels -- for instance, this online feedback form.

Get involved. Give it a read.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nothing from nothing leaves nothing...


Suburban sprawl is the missing link in climate change, a group of urban planning researchers said today, warning in a new report that global warming can only be slowed by changing development patterns to reduce the need for driving.

Living in more compact, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods actually would do more to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide -- the chief climate-changing gas -- than driving a hybrid car while staying in a typically spread-out suburb, the report asserts.

"The research shows that one of the best ways to reduce vehicle travel is to build places where people can accomplish more with less driving," Reid Ewing, the report's lead author and a research professor at the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland, said in a statement released with the report.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What else should I be...

I know, I know.

Yes, I know.

I'm a big time slacker.

I need to post more.

If only I could create a computer program to read all the local news stories and blogs and then write posts for me. That would be sweet, huh?

Anyway, I got kickball tonight against a team that's been talking trash for months. We need to win these games to save some dignity.

But, before I run off to Centennial, I wanted to share to Oakland Mills-related items.

First, next Thursday – the 27th, for those of you who don't read daily (but who can blame you?) -- is the second Community Connections Gathering at Fire Rock Grill. The party starts at 6 pm and if it's anything like last time, you're sure to have a blast. Non-OMers are welcome to, but I can't promise we won't force you to take part in some potentially painful hazing activities. I'm kidding… sorta.

Since you'll already be at Fire Rock, might as well stick around for Taglines Comedy night, too. Don't pay full price, though. Ask around for half-off cards.

Secondly and finally, there is now a website for the Meridian Square project, the new office building set to go in on the old, abandoned Exxon site in the Oakland Mills Village Center. Although the finished building will not be as architecturally adventurous as it was in earlier drawings, I'm still impressed with it overall and am looking forward to the positive impact it'll have on our village, especially if they can land a nice café in one of the first floor retail spaces.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Your love is like a rollercoaster...

Something weird always happens at Six Flags in Largo.

Something, that is, beyond the normal weird stuff you expect to see in the amusement park milieu. You know, horrible fashion choices, unhappy families bordering on total meltdowns, vomit, exorbitant beverage prices and the like.

Last year, I got stuck on the final hill of the Skull Island log pflume/water coaster (it's exact classification is a source of disagreement between my brother and I). We were up there for about 45 minutes, before they had us disembark and walk down the gangplank. All things considered, it wasn't a particularly bad (read: scary) place to get stuck, and we got a bunch of free jump-the-line passes out of it. So, it worked out in the end.

Then, this past Saturday, we took a spur of the moment trip down to Largo for some roller coasters. We started the day on what is by far the park's best -- The Superman. After a very steep 200-foot drop, it hits speeds of 75 miles per hour and doesn't let up for the entire trip, shooting over additional hills and through tight, banked turns. It's very smooth, to boot. I could ride it all day, which is basically what I did.

But I did manage to do most of the others at least once, including Two Face, a hanging (i.e. feet-dangling) roller coaster that pulls you up a hill to start, drops you back through the station, throws you through some loops and then up another hill, before doing the whole thing backwards.

I love roller coasters. Which is another way of saying I don't really get scared and they don't make me sick. But about midway through the Two Face, my vision started to get dark and I felt like I was going to pass out. I got off feeling dizzy and disoriented, as did my brother and his girlfriend. We decided, appropriately (I think), not to ride it again.

Good thing, too. Later in the day, it got stuck 100 feet up in the air. Yikes. Getting down from a hanging coaster is, I would imagine, significantly harder than getting down from a log pflume.

I wonder if the stranded riders got free passes. Actually, for that "inconvenience" I'd be demanding something of real value -- like a bottle of water.

How will this all play out...

I’m not sure what to make of the news (via Jessie) that the Columbia Bike Guy, Athar - he of the red mohawk - has a Facebook fan club.

(Disclaimer: I’m on Facebook but am horrible about checking it. My bad. I’ll get around to the pile of messages one day.)

While I think it’s kind of cute that he’s reached this level of notoriety, I’m not sure how sincere it is. Sure there’s probably a mix of motivations in the group, but I get the feeling that most see him simply as a freak who makes a good backdrop for a silly photo. After all, pronouncements to the contrary notwithstanding, The Internet is still largely a place where people go to laugh at others.

I mean, if random but visible people deserve fan clubs, why isn’t there one for the Columbia Ninja (the woman who dresses in all black and rides her bike along Rt. 175)? Or, what about the Poodle Lady who’s always walking a gray, standard Poodle around Town Center? Are there others I’m not thinking of?

Jessie thinks this fan club is a way of reaching out and including him in our community, something that may be true in either a positive, welcome-to-the-club way or in a negative, ask-him-over-for-cookies-and-then-ambush-him-with-water-balloons way. (Yes, if you're wondering, I know of the latter "way" through experience -- it basically describes my first date with Abbzug.)

Maybe I’m just being overprotective. I’ve run into Athar a bunch of times on the paths, and as someone who enjoys riding a bike all over Columbia, I have long felt a special affinity for him. The fact that he’s (apparently) as well known as he is comes as a bit of a shock. It’s almost as though I want the Facebookers to prove their intentions before joining the club. But as we all know, that’s impossible.

Or, maybe he enjoys the celebrity (he seems happy in the photo Jessie posted). And perhaps this is just a way for other Columbians to celebrate something (rather, someone) unique to our community. He could be our very own Wild Bill Hagy.

Whatever the case, I just hope Athar doesn’t let fame go to his head.

It's a simple assumption that nobody knows...

A grammatical request: Please, everyone, stop using “ask” as a noun. And while you’re at it, eliminate the phrase “touch base” from your vocabulary, except when referring specifically to baseball or kickball.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

While I think of something clever to say...

Between kickball, meetings, fantasy football drafts, an impromptu trip to Six Flags, Labor Day car races and myriad other things, it's been a busy week for me.

And today, football begins for real.

All of which is to say, sorry for not posting anything recently. I promise at least something fun or substantive this week, but until then, a quick anecdote.

I went to the 15th anniversary celebration of the Rouse Scholars program at Howard Community College on Thursday night. While there, I stumbled upon my class (Rouse III) "yearbook" from 1997. It was full of funny (embarassing) pictures and quotes from the class, including a section on where we each thought we'd be in 10 years.

My response -- written from the perspective of a wannabe rock star -- was: "I'll be married, with three kids, two cars, a house in suburbia and working a 9 to 5 job. And I'll also be a strong supporter of the Republican Party."

I'm still not sure what to make of the fact that I've become the target of my 90s-era irony, even if it's not entirely right. I don't, after all, have a 9 to 5 job.