Friday, August 31, 2007

They've captured New York, too!!!

I've commented about the suburbanization of America before, but I don't seem to have the literary smarts (nor the patience!) to write something extensively long. These posts usually begin, and end, after the third line is written.

The good people over at A Daily Dose of Architecture have made my job easier, seeing as I'm hitting (yet again) my delete button and trashing (yet another) post. I'm just linking straight to their site instead...

Sue me, I'm tired.

John Hill, blogtender extraordinaire, serves up an excellent review of the essays compiled in The Suburbanization of New York?, a new book by Jerilou and Kingsley Hammett.

This style of suburbanization is uniquely different from the suburbanization I usually rant about.

For anyone familiar with Anthony Bourdain, you're well aware of the tragedy afoot. It's the plasticizing of iconic America - from the loft converts that jack up the rents of inner-city neighborhoods, to the Bubba Gumpish restaurants that squat in Times Square. We've turned into a culture that franchises the unique, and just like Bourdain, it frustrates me so.

I'm looking forward to checking it out. Read Hill's review HERE or buy the book directly from his site HERE.

On a sidenote...

...if you are, in fact, Anthony Bourdain and just happened to stumble on to this blog by googling your own name (would AB even google?): one day, before I die, I will drink a whiskey/rocks with you. We will complain about the bad for hours on end. Nothing fancy...just a cocktail > in dirty glassware > garnished with sarcasm > served at a place of ill repute > enveloped in smoke > with Anthony Bourdain. I will then die happy.

The architect and the Elders...

What is this?

OK, it's obviously a model of a town...but what kind of town?

A $2 billion (with a B) kind of town.

Brandt Anderson, the 29-year-old owner of the Utah Flash (the Utah what?), has proposed an 85 acre Gehry-designed development for the town of Lehi. The development will include:

Shopping Center
Man-made lakes (one devoted to wakeboarding...seriously)
Sports Arena (underground!)

The state of Utah is bracing for warmer weather, as 85 acres of corrugated metal will undoubtedly impact the heat island effect.


In all seriousness, it'll be interesting to see what Gehry is going to do with this. They're already promising preservation, with 70+ acres of the site devoted to water and green space [Update: a conflicting report states that it will be 50%].

Read for yourself HERE.

Gehry, man/myth, speaks out about his plans HERE.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Technodamus Update...

OK, so my research has been slacking a little...

I just ready today that Alan Wiesman has his own website for "The World Without Us" book.

Surprisingly, it can be found at

Cool little interactive infographic.

I'm off to take a Googling class.

Cause Jack Johnson told me to...

My wife and I live in a wonderful little split double in the middle of Hippiedippieville. It's definitely adequate in size and we live comfortably, but our kitchen seems to be shrinking in on us. With 95% of our trash is being recycled, the little bottles and cans (and more bottles) tend to pile up veeeerrrrrrry quickly, causing loud landslides that no doubt surprise the other tenant next door (for some reason, gravity seems to pull harder between the hours of 1:00am and 5:00am....he must think his neighbors are raccoons).

For a while I looked and looked and looked for a sleek and slim trash can that could sit flush with the counter top; something simple like a 8" x 24" x 32". Much to my surprise, it's not easy to find something compact, unless you're willing to use a blah-blue monster intended for commercial/restaurant applications.

BMW Designworks has taken my request, flipped it five different ways, and added a touch of Star Trek. It's the Ecopod home recycling center.

Put in bottle, press foot pedal, listen to compaction, bottle falls into storage bin, smile with sanctimoniously green grin.

From their website:

ecopod and BMW Designworks are determined to “Change the Way the World Recycles.” Together, over the past 20 months, Designworks & ecopod have met with leading Public and Private groups to research opportunities to determine the best ways to raise eco-awareness and reduce the amount of recyclable materials sent to landfills.

The first ecopod e1 was built to test it’s effectiveness in compacting and storing a wide variety of beverage containers, ranging from small Starbucks shot cans to large Monster Energy drinks along with tall Propel Water bottles and smaller kid size Arrowhead water. The ecopod e1 compacted and stored all of these containers with ease. A new revolution in home and office appliances was born.

The home recycling center with compaction and collection. Designed by BMW Designworks, the ecopod will clean up the way you recycle with its eco-chic design and functionality. After dropping an aluminum can or plastic bottle in the top opening, press the ecostep to hear the sweet sound of compaction. As the ecostep releases, the redeemable container automatically falls into the enclosed collection bin. Open the door and remove the bin for collection or redemption. Glass, paper and other recyclable items can be stored in the removeable bins inside the top lid. Dimensions: 31" tall x 16" wide x 21" deep Weight: Approx. 50 lbs.

Is it basically an expensive ($328.00!) trash can? Sure, but the fact that it compacts all your waste throughout a certain span of time, thus eliminating any and all travalanches (trash avalanches) and neighbor calls to the ASPCA about stray raccoons, makes me smile. Have you ever been in a rope snare before? It's not fun.

Check out their Newsweek article here.

Did I mention it's also affiliated with Jack Johnson's Kokua Hawai'i Foundation?

In case you don't know the words, you can sing along here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thechnodamus predicts our lack of future...

We are living in an age of auspicious reality, finally aware that our habits and actions can degrade and erode depending on the severity of our dependence. Changes are being made, action is being taken, and the world is seemingly optimistic.

But the world has evolved into a MacArthur's Maze of tubes, tunnels, generators, plants, dams, and pumps - all of which require a human hand or inputted computer to have dippy birds push their keys and pull their Wonka levers (smile Simpson's fans).

Recently, I read an interesting article from the October 2006 issue of New Scientist (yes, it takes me 10 months to get through a typical NS mag) that asked an important question: As such a dominant species, what would happen to the world - technological infrastructure and all - if every single one of the 6.5 billion people on this planet just disappeared, leaving all our worldly possessions/inventions/chemicals/buildings behind??? How quickly would nature reclaim the planet?

From the article:

If tomorrow dawns without humans, even from orbit the change will be evident almost immediately, as the blaze of artificial light that brightens the night begins to wink out. Indeed, there are few better ways to grasp just how utterly we dominate the surface of the Earth than to look at the distribution of artificial illumination (see Graphic). By some estimates, 85 per cent of the night sky above the European Union is light-polluted; in the US it is 62 per cent and in Japan 98.5 per cent. In some countries, including Germany, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands, there is no longer any night sky untainted by light pollution.

"Pretty quickly - 24, maybe 48 hours - you'd start to see blackouts because of the lack of fuel added to power stations," says Gordon Masterton, president of the UK's Institution of Civil Engineers in London. Renewable sources such as wind turbines and solar will keep a few automatic lights burning, but lack of maintenance of the distribution grid will scuttle these in weeks or months. The loss of electricity will also quickly silence water pumps, sewage treatment plants and all the other machinery of modern society.

Think the article is a good read? Buy the hardback version, made of 100% tree.

You might as well, cause it'll take back your planet someday.

Here's a review (via Reed Business Information):

If a virulent virus—or even the Rapture—depopulated Earth overnight, how long before all trace of humankind vanished? That's the provocative, and occasionally puckish, question posed by Weisman (An Echo in My Blood) in this imaginative hybrid of solid science reporting and morbid speculation. Days after our disappearance, pumps keeping Manhattan's subways dry would fail, tunnels would flood, soil under streets would sluice away and the foundations of towering skyscrapers built to last for centuries would start to crumble. At the other end of the chronological spectrum, anything made of bronze might survive in recognizable form for millions of years—along with one billion pounds of degraded but almost indestructible plastics manufactured since the mid-20th century. Meanwhile, land freed from mankind's environmentally poisonous footprint would quickly reconstitute itself, as in Chernobyl, where animal life has returned after 1986's deadly radiation leak, and in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, a refuge since 1953 for the almost-extinct goral mountain goat and Amur leopard. From a patch of primeval forest in Poland to monumental underground villages in Turkey, Weisman's enthralling tour of the world of tomorrow explores what little will remain of ancient times while anticipating, often poetically, what a planet without us would be like.

But my favorite is the Washington Post critic:

Who cares?

Sheesh, Post, lighten up.

With the way Conservatives flock to creationism, you think you'd enjoy a little bit of science fiction.

Monday, August 27, 2007

10-4 on the carbon footprint, good buddy...

Ahh Seattle, why must you always be so hip?

I read an article a while back about the possible implementation of hybrid technology into big-rig, 18 wheel behemoths. What I assumed was another case of greenwashing, is in fact a reality.

Dunn Lumber of Seattle, Washington is officially the first company to test out Kenworth's new Paccar PX-6 240 hp engine. The class 7 hybrid can carry and 8 ton payload (!) and features a transmission mounted generator, with a 340-volt frame-mounted battery.

From the article:

Above 30 mph, the Kenworth hybrid operates like a standard diesel vehicle with all power coming from the engine during steady driving conditions. Below 30 mph, it uses a combination of diesel and electricity with the system automatically switching between the two modes of operation. Electricity generated through regenerative braking is stored and used for acceleration, assisting the diesel engine.

Alas, Kenworth is only giving up these green beauties in limited quantities to local municipal companies and fleets...until 2008, that is.

And if Smokey, Bandit, and the rest of the guys are going green, maybe it's time for me to start that organic chewing tobacco company I've always dreamed about.

Speaking of "tomacco," Otto will get a buzz out of knowing that California's also making their mark with this new treat: the first plug-in hybrid bus.
Bus manufacturer extraordinaire I-C Corp. is charging around $200k per bus, with most school districts off-setting the majority of the cost with grants.

From their flash-saturated website (with some damn cool pictures):

Depending on the route, fuel mpg improvement is from 20% to 50% better for Charge Sustaining and up to 70% better for Charge Depleting systems. Emission improvements vary with the pollutant being measured and has shown up to a 90% improvement at times on Particulate Matter, again, this is load and operating condition dependent.

But wouldn't ya know it...just as we start solving some problem areas, new ones fill the pores.

My search for hybrid construction equipment resulted in a surprising combination of words: Hybrid Backhoes.

But don't let the name fool you. The only thing that makes them a "hybrid" is the fact that they can perform construction detail AND do a street-legal 65 mph on the freeway.

So now that we've developed the technology to transport heavy items using clean(er) hybrid technology, said items now transport a high rate of speed.

From the story:

In June, the HMEE (High Mobility Engineer Excavator) was officially introduced in a formal unveiling ceremony. The highly specialized equipment features a 6.7-liter diesel engine, antilock brakes, four-wheel drive, six forward speeds and two reverse speeds.

It can lift more than two tons and dig to a depth of 13 feet...

Granted, the backhoes are solely intended for military use (with armor plating...about time!), I don't doubt that the possibility that I might on day find a 2 meter dump scoop in my rear-view mirror.

I will happily merge from my lane and let that machine pass.