Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's such a crying shame...

Stupid Comcast.

I'm posting from my cell phone because my internet service doesn't seem to be functioning. At least I'm getting about half of my regular cable channels. It's Craptastic!

Normally, I wouldn't bother posting anything under such circumstances, but since I need to follow my "once a week" rule (and because I promised a friend I'd write about an event), I'm giving my thumbs a workout.

Tomorrow night (Friday) is your last chance to catch a free movie at The Other Barn in Oakland Mills. The feature presentation is one best viewed on a big screen with a bunch of people: Star Wars! (The first one).

The show starts at 7 pm and is free and open to everyone (we're really nice on the East Side). Hit up Jessie's spot for more details.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Look at me... I can be... centerfield...

Instead of talking about 27-run losses, how about some happy sports news?

Kickball season is underway!

Yes, Team Hayduke had our first (and only) practice last night, and judging by what I saw, I think it's time to put the other teams on notice: We're ready to ball.

But I'm not really here to share all the details of my kickball team (yet). Rather, I'm writing because David Wissing made me do it.

He has perfected the art of throwaway digs -- using an offhand word or two to take a swipe at things like global warming, Democrats, or the Redskins.

So, the other day when he called my blog "dormant," I took umbrage: "Hey, I'm posting at least once a week," I said to myself.

Which is a pretty lame response.

My trouble accepting the obvious -- that my blog is what's really lame -- was probably a result of the fact that for the first time since I took my new job, I missed blogging. This isn't to say I'd trade my job for the blog -- let's not get crazy -- it's just that I missed being part of all fun everyone's been having these past couple weeks. A few examples:

Our own local Carmen Sandiego, Jessie, has popped up in various places with play-at-home questions and tangible examples of community planning principles. Her most recent visit was to a couple impromptu paths in Oakland Mills, which reminded me of a story I heard in one of my first urban studies classes.

During the early days of Disney Land, people were eschewing the carefully laid out walkways in favor of shortcuts across grassy areas. Park management approach Walt Disney about the problem and recommended installing fences around the grass. Disney, apparently, rebuffed them, saying that's where new sidewalks should go.

There's more to that than just sidewalks, I think.

Bill Santos has also been sharing a bunch of Columbia and general planning insights, including this post linking to the "Neighbor Manifesto," a great, thoughtful read on where.

Meanwhile, with tons of pictures and frequent updates, David Wissing's coverage of that thing that I don't really want to mention has been great; he even created a separate category for it.

Of course, there's politics, too. See David Keelan and Freemarket.

Even Wordbones, after taking a slew vacations this summer, is rested up and back in the saddle.

Actually, it seems to me that, like my kickball team, our local blogs have covered all the bases, and also like kickball, I should just stay out in centerfield and catch the occasional lazy fly ball, such as:

I'm reading a new book about the development of a subdivision in rural Pennsylvania called Last Harvest: How a Cornfield Became New Daleville: Real Estate Development in America from George Washington to the Builders of the Twenty-first Century, and Why We Live In Houses Anyway (kind of a mouthful). At times reminiscent of our own situation in Howard County, it offers a comprehensive look residential development, from theories and planning to public hearings and approvals, some of which is, naturally, common knowledge to people like us. Nonetheless, there are many insights within the book that, I think, provide valuable to our local dialogue (which is a way of saying I think you should read the book).

Here are a couple quotes worth sharing:

The modest single-family house is the glory of the suburban tradition. It offers its inhabitants a comprehensible image of independence and privacy while also accepting the responsibilities of community.

If you've been to my house (or neighborhood) you'll probably know why that one resonates with me.

Then, there's this, from a town meeting:
We've been doing conventional development and we hate it. Why don't we try something new, and if we don't like it we won't do it anymore.

OK, that's enough for now. Back to dormancy, at least until somebody pokes me again.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

And the cat's in the cradle...

Goodbye, Bijou, and rest in peace.

Between me, my brother and the dog, you had some tough times, but you lived to a ripe old age, even catching your first mouse in the twilight of your life.

My deepest apologies for "Super Kitty." Just don't forget who snuck you into the house in the first place.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

With a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole...

I'm not going anywhere near some of the recent local stories on this blog (for obvious reasons). If you want to talk to me about them, however, a cold beer might loosen me up.

Short of that, I wanted to share a meeting announcement about something that was (is?) a bit controversial.

The Green Neighborhoods checklist developed as part of the package of recently approved green building legislation is still awaiting a final decision. In an effort to inform more folks about the checklist and what it is designed to accomplish, there will be a public meeting on Wednesday, August 22 at 4 pm at the Gateway building to discuss the details. If you're interested in attending, shoot me an email (hocohayduke - at - and we'll make sure we've got space for you.

For those of you who don't know, this checklist will be used to certify residential projects wishing to take advantage of the pool of green neighborhood housing allocations. Projects must earn a predetermined number of points for each green feature included in the development. If you're interested in seeing the checklist before the meeting, let me know and I can get you a copy (I know people who know people who know how to get it).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I'd like to teach the world to sing...

I tend to look at things from a very selfish perspective – everything's always about me – which is completely fine. Just ask any economist.

Anyway, keeping that in mind, a brief statement about immigration/multiculturalism as it relates to me: Mexican Coke is now available from at least two local merchants, Sam's Mart in Oakland Mills and Exxon in Long Reach.

Given that Sam's is basically a Latino grocer, it's not surprising to see imported sodas there. That the best version of Coke is available at an Exxon station, on the other hand, is certainly a sign of mainstreaming.

I say, bring it on! Let's erase the artificial borders (and sweeteners) that keep us from total soda enjoyment!

Monday, August 06, 2007

I've been walking the streets at night...

When I took the new job, I made a promise to myself that I'd post something on the blog at least once a week; my last post was exactly a week ago.

There's a lesson about human nature somewhere in that statement.

On a somewhat related note, I've always thought that I have a finite amount of words in me each day and that attempts to cross that threshold will always end in disappointment. I now know that to be true.

Since I'm nearing today's word limit, I'll keep this brief.

In case you haven't heard, there was some big news on the Turf Valley front. Freemarket's got the details.

Meanwhile, Wordbones started a new blog to chronicle the development of an office building in Emerson that he's overseeing. I think this will be a fascinating look into a world some of us like to think we already understand (really, we don't).

Finally, I'm still thinking about ways to spice up this blog while I'm busy, in Jessie's words, "calibrating himself and his blog to his new job." One idea that has popped up in my mind (and others') is to turn this blog into a family affair. Since Little Duke (my brother) is now a resident of this fair city -- and one of the original readers of this blog -- maybe we can convince him to weigh in on the news of the day. It's not like he's got anything else to do, after all (sitting around in his underwear learning old Dream Theater songs doesn't count).