Ocean Front Property

Kim Stanley Robinson called this one in Green Mars.

…studies released this week are announcing a bleak future for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet — and an accompanying sea-level rise across the globe. Both groups of researchers conclude that global warming is accelerating the disintegration of large parts of the ice sheets, and that the melting that is already under way is likely unstoppable. This, the researchers say, will eventually cause global sea levels to rise by at least 10 feet.

The first study, published today in Science by researchers at the University of Washington, used computer modeling and topography maps to conclude that the collapse of the Thwaites Glacier, an extremely large glacier flowing into Pine Island Bay, is already underway. This process, the researchers say, could be completed within the next few centuries and would cause the ocean to rise by nearly 2 feet. Furthermore, because that glacier is currently acting as a barrier for the rest of the ice sheet, its collapse could ultimately trigger a 10-13 foot rise in global sea levels.

So this is what Galveston Bay would look like. Bleak.

Near Fall

The Texas Summer, while not as epically brutal as 2011, has finally let slip it’s hold on the hill country. At 65º in the day time, it finally seems sensible to be wearing something more then a tee shirt and watching college football is seasonally appropriate.

This is not just my Texas centric perspective speaking, I really think we have a different take on this whole seasonal change thing. I don’t say Fall, as well, we just have Summer and Not Summer. Not Summer is comprised of spring-like and fall-like days (not necessary in the traditionally correct order). Either of these ‘like’ days can also be liberally interspersed with fresh shakings of summer heat or weird an unexpected freezes. The unpredictability keeps it spicy – northerners, you just settle in with your snow tires and road salt. Us, we could be sliding sideways own Mopac one day, and out looking for an open swimming pool the next.

Regardless, today was an acceptably awesome fall-like day. There’s was an early roll to ride bikes. There was drinking of coffee and not subsequently sweating bullets. There was some nice rolling trail. Flat Creek ranch is a private piece of steep creek-bed with old oak stands, multiple drainages and about 10 miles of trail. Apparently someone skewered themselves (shoulder to lung) with a cedar branch in a TMBRA race a few years back (he lived and was henceforth known as kabob (that last statement is untrue, but funny)). Either way this place is pretty and fun and sadly closed to us for most of the year, today being a noticeable exception.

I seem to remember hitting the deck being a lot easier to bounce back from in my early and late twenties. One little miscue trying to unlock the rear shock before some loose but fun down hill found me on my back epically tangled up in bike. I think i used my leg as a brake somehow. My only serious motivation to get up was to not be run over by the folks behind me, who I’d only recently passed. Had I been alone on the trail I probably would have stayed there some combination of thrifty minutes minus the time insects (who don’t give two fucks about near-fall, they will eat you any time of the year) started to gnaw on my appendages.

Getting old seems to be a lot like fall-like days – some of the good of the old (i can still ride a bike) and some oft the not so good (I considered letting ants consume me as a less painful alternative to finishing those last four miles with what appears to be some epically bruised ribs). I guess, like the weather,  the hope is we can still keep it interspersed with a little youthful absurdity. And that we can avoid sneezing at all costs, cause holy hell does that hurt right now.



In Town

Across the river the giant Texas flag that flies every day over the state cemetery waves lazily in a breeze I don’t feel here. My immediate audience is the lake/river blowing west and flowing east by southeast, bound for a trip over the dam and a meandering journey to the rice patties of Colorado county, maybe even all the way to Matagorda Bay and the wide brown shores of the gulf. Four points off north, one of the eastside moon towers are flicking to life, my little link to my old ‘hood in Clarksville, the last real Austin neighborhood we lived in. Far to my right, just above my Vodka Tonic, the hulking remnants of the Holly Street Power Plant sits idle,  it’s silence an invitation for developers, real estate speculators and yuppies waiting to pounce on this fertile, flat, non-environmentally-controversial piece of shoreline.  Seventy years of geo-racial division will, I’m sure,  soon be fixed by mixed-use development, condo lofts that no one who grew up here can afford and bistro restaurants who will never understand that the two key ingredients to good migas are ample grease and an abuelita with skills on a flat-top grill.

Pan left, and the bats are following the water to the rice patties, moving not in their swirling cloud as in that painfully hot part of late summer, but as solo travelers hitting the road for some dinner.

From where I sit, to either side there are people, taking the air and dogs. A quick calculation of popped collars, shitty music playing from phones and dochebag haircuts, makes me realize the dogs are supeior company, even the pomeranian, whose hair cut and goofy collar, after all is not his fault.

Really, it’s time to get to work and tick a few things off my list so that tomorrow isn’t a complete clusterfuck. The better choice it seems would be to leave the work to the bats, the river, the doochebags, and the pomeranian with the goofy dew and head back west to the mountains. Take the car, grab the lady and go bum around as the fall colors light up the hillsides, and the fade under snow. Make do.

Seems like a much better plan.

Staying Urban

From the Freakanomics blog, featuring Ed Glaeser, author of  Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.

Certainly for anyone who’s a parent, like myself, the suburban school districts offer huge enticement to leave cities. And this is really a question of how we’ve decided to structure our schools. So I want you to just imagine, if, for example, instead of having a New York restaurant scene that was dominated by private entrepreneurs, who competed wildly with each other, trying to come up with new, new things and, you know, the bad restaurants collapsed, the good restaurants go on to cooking show fame, and you have these powerful forces of competition and innovation working. Imagine instead if there was a food superintendent, who operated a system of canteens, where the menus were decided at the local level, and every New Yorker had to eat in these canteens. Well, the food will be awful, and that’s kind of what we’ve decided to do with schooling. That instead of harnessing the urban ability to provide innovation, competition, new entry, we’ve put together a system where we turned all that system off. And we’ve allowed a huge advantage for a local, public monopoly. It’s very, very difficult to fix this.

I’m not sure if this is a pro-voucher idea, but it is an interesting take.


The very real threat of creative staleness is looming large in my life. All the websites look the same, all the blog post are pull quotes and filler video. The internet bores me. My day is spent more with spreadsheets and email – the vaunted design applications, their sad-little squares of color lying dormant on the dock, have not merrily bounced in weeks.

Maybe this is why people move towards management as they get older. The spark is faded, replaced by an inexplicable need to hold too many multi-hour meetings (something I have thus far avoided), and create an endless array of spreadsheets that explain your yearly activity in excruciating, cent-by-cent detail. And maybe the spark isn’t gone, it’s just focused on other things. The weird part is, I find myself liking it. There’s a deep underlying sense of stability there…can I make solid decisions that will benefit myself and my employer? Chances are yes. Can I consistently dream up awesome, kick ass designs while working in a creative vacuum? Spock is telling the Captain there’s low statistical chances of success on that one.

World Cup

Every four years the world goes justifiably insane. From Frank Deford…

The Olympics has embraced team sports more and more — but, even with celebrity Dream Teams, the games remain more of a variety show.

By contrast, like it or not, the World Cup is pure, raw, down-and-dirty unadulterated sport at its best. There are no World Cup hymns. There are no podiums for the runners-up. Losers walk.

Last night while eating dinner at the Whole Foods Pasta Bar, we were seated next to a brit, and struck up an amiable dinner conversation between us, him and the chef. “I’m actually a US citizen now,” he said with  a noticeable amount of chagrin. “Oh so, Saturday,” I replied, “I guess that’s going to be interesting for you with England vs US?”

“Well on Saturday, respectfully you and your country can get fucked as far as that’s concerned.”

Ah sports, the great unifier. I plan to take the higher ground than our dinner friend: Saturday will find us at Fado or some equally worthy beer-serving establishment, beverage in hand at too early a time in the day, possibly in colonial garb, screaming obscenities at our cousins, the Brits.


KB, if they get the internets in heaven (who knows with the privacy policies these days), wanted to let you know that all these years later, my Bose Wave Radio still kicks ass, annoys the neighbors and is by far my favorite piece of gadgetry ever. Many thanks, miss you lots.

Farming Suburbia

Reimagining McMansion developments in the post crash ‘burbs.

The big idea here is that they’ve retrofitted not buildings but the typical pattern of development: The existing agricultural land is clustered into a 1,400-acre plot, while the rest of the community is preserved open lands, habitat preservation, and a village of 400 homes at the center. A land conservancy, partially funded by a percentage of home sales, would provide a mechanism with which to manage and monitor the land. As MacPhee explains, “Agriculture is an amenity. You can’t just wish for it, you have to support it.”


Car Wash

It’s just above freezing outside, with that awesome mix of rain, sleet and the occasional lonely, half-drowned flake of snow. I find myself (post an undisclosed number of vodka martinis), at 10:30 at night, at the car wash.

The birds of downtown either ate something that didn’t agree with them, or quite litterally saw something that scared the crap out of them. Maybe Sarah Palin’s in town (wait this isn’t real america, she wouldn’t come here, would she?), who knows. Regardless, it looks like the zoo’s worth of avian life has had their way with my poor Subaru, and despite the late hour, the inclimate conditons, this will not wait till tomorrow, when it going to be sunny and a normal, sane person would go tend to the chore at hand. This affrontery towards my my vehicle’s honor shell not stand.

It then occurs to me that i could quite possibly have an unhealthy relationship with my car.

Road Trip Needed

Man, I miss writing for this site. It’s seems silly, as it’s my goddamn website, but circumstances of late have left me with little more than a series of blockquaoted articles with little significance.

No, I find myself wrapped up in things that the wade of living-in-the-Jeep times would scoff at. Concerns of things like career and responsibility. Hippy Wade meets Yuppie wade. It’s like a narcotics market-model…first it’s just a flat screen TV, just to watch movies on…suddenly you turn around and there’s a townhouse and a personal trainer in your midst…and it turns out you really like it.

It’s fine, we killed of hippy wade a long time ago, after the organic toilet paper incident, and we even still regularly frequent the hotel subaru in the summer times road warrior reenactments (plus coffee, minus the post-apocalyptic bits). Still though this time of year especially, i do miss the prospect of getting the hell-out-of-town and heading out to the desert for a few days, whether it be to climb, ride a bike or just stare off at the naked expanse of West Texas. Something.