Friday, February 22, 2008

Leaving Town for the Weekend

Short personal note: I'll be out of town, and possibly out of cell phone range for this weekend, on a small get-away trip. Check out Jude's eclipse photos taken from Edwin Warner Park area. Cheers.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Don't Miss the Lunar Eclipse Tomorrow

This hemisphere will see a complete eclipse tomorrow, Wednesday February 20, the last one before December 2010. The partial eclipse will begin at 7:50pm. The total eclipse will start at 9:01pm and end at 9:51pm (CST). I want to be outside to watch it, might go to Lover's Circle or even Edwin Warner as one of my friends wants to take pictures with her fancy SLR. The Adventure Science Center will be open with telescopes. Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Progress to Reach Bell's Bend

Please sir, don't turn Bell's Bend into concrete. [Where Meerah and I have been spending Sundays recently with human and canine friends]. The developers proudly proclaim that:

Their vision includes an amphitheater, a hotel, stores, condos and offices clustered around a central area designed to attract corporate headquarters.

... BUT they need a little help from the governement...

Access to the area also may prove to be a problem. May's proposal is contingent on the construction of a new bridge across the Cumberland and a new interchange with Interstate 40, projects that would need government approval and funding.

... more details (emphasis mine)...

The developers' $4 billion concept, called May Town Center, would create a dense commercial and residential district near the southern end of the Bells Bend area.

It calls for building up to 5,000 townhouses and condos and at least 5 million square feet of office space mixed in with street-level stores. A hotel would stand at the center of the development, and four building sites for corporate headquarters would be created on its western end.

Construction would cover 453 acres, leaving 981 acres as a conservation area. That area would be connected to the 808-acre Bells Bend Park, which lies to the west. Equestrian, bicycle and footpaths also would connect May Town Center to areas to the north.

The design is meant to preserve as much of Bells Bend as possible while giving Nashville a new site to attract big corporate development in the same way that Cool Springs has drawn companies to Williamson County, said Giarratana, whom May hired to advise him on the project.

Yes, just like Cool Springs! I can't wait to have a place with a unique character that doesn't look like anything else in the United States. I'm a techie, a scientist, and an avid believer in the boundless opportunities of human ingenuity, but somehow this doesn't strike me as progress. Sorry. I do also have a strong libertarian streak. That's why I can't really understand how building and maintaining expensive roads and bridges to nowhere [to seed economic growth and tax base expansion, i know i know] isn't a form of government community engineering. I really can't see how subsidizing such endeavors helps existing and neighboring communities. I'm not saying it's necessarily harmful or wrong. I'm just pointing that increasing land value, expanding the tax base, and creating jobs aren't sufficient indicators of the future wellbeing of the existing population there, also known as the current constituency.

My argument is stupid, of course, if we assume that the goal of local governments is to swap the existing constituencies that elected them with others that are more willing to produce and to consume.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Wi Free Market Tip for Nashville

I have a mathematical-spatial brain that is good at detecting trends and patterns. I have stumbled upon a discovery that can make money to anyone with good taste and capital in our fair city of Nashville. I would have kept it to myself, but I don't have the time or capital. Plus, there is this small issue of a dissertation in progress. Ready? Here goes:

The Hillsboro / West End / Vandy / Belmont area is ready for more coffeeshops with wireless internet

Bongo Java is always full. Fido is worse with no wall outlets, a probably calculated move to keep a constant turn-around of "campers" (their word, not mine) who will eventually have to go somewhere to charge their batteries. JJ's is my favorite, but they suffer from poor lighting. They do have a lot of extension power cords. Their staff are awesome: friendly, laid back, and foregoing a lot of the pretensions that are requisites for high profile jobs like front men/women in the Bongo Java empire. No shticks, no hipster mullets or skinny jeans, no checking people out or dressing to be checked out... just a bunch of people typing away quietly on their laptops sipping on caffeinated beverages, or enjoying quiet conversations over excellent beer or tea. Also, unlike other places, they let you open a tap i.e. they don't see you as a one-transaction customer. There are others such as: Portland Brew, Frothy Monkey, Cafe Coco.

I'm not dissing the existing establishments. I am also realistic and aware that the dissertation writing, online-poker-playing, study-group forming crowd is only part of the market. You see all sorts of people there: chess playing geeks, post-church sunday brunch crowd, let's make our Saturday-night regular hookups public now crowd, music business folks, real estate business folks, meet-up.com and moveon.org political meetings (so 2004 btw), awkward first meeting match.com folks... These establishments are doing their best catering to everyone while making a decent profit. If you don your laptop backpack to Fido during weekend brunch time, then you either have Asperger Syndrome or are the kind of person who spends 2 hours making yourself look good-without-appearing-to-have-spent-that-much-time-on-your-looks before going out to "study".

I'm just saying, there is room for expansion. Demand is clearly more than supply. Trust me. You broadcast it (802.11g signal), and they will come.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Who Needs the Nanny State

First of all, we're all fine. No tornadoes touched down near us.

So we've had an old couch, that we had to retire to the front porch once a new roommate moved in with his nicer, comfier, couch that is not riddled with holes. It was nice having it out there in the fall. I had a few afternoon naps on it. It's really ugly though, not to mention that keeping it out on the porch conjured regional stereotypes. So we decided to get rid of it. We carried it out to the curbside yesterday morning. I went back inside and ended up napping for 2 more hours. When I woke up, I remembered to call Metro Public Works to schedule a free bulk item pick up. After being on hold for 10 minutes, I gave the information and all was set. They said it should be picked up within 5 business days starting the next day (today). AS SOON AS I hung up, I looked outside to find that THE COUCH WAS TAKEN! Who would have guessed that giving your stuff away for free is faster and more efficient than calling the government?! Actually, it was probably taken by other starving grad students who could use a bed/sofa. Here's a thought, don't subsidize higher education, so you save money on tuition AND on bulk item pick up. Don't under estimate the resourcefulness of graduate students. That's all I'm saying.

Seriously though. I think that Nashville Metro is a very progressive local government. From curbside recycling to the array of metro parks (including the little known Bell's Bend Park - where Meerah and I have been spending Sunday afternoons) and their Nature Centers.