March 27, 2009

Black Magic Woman

I'm in love with a new beauty, and I think I might leave my wife for her. An all-electric sports car? And it looks like a Porsche? And the company's named after a scientific wunderkind? Count. Me. In. Check out pics of the Tesla Roadster here, here, here, here, and the interior here. As for the Roadster, the only complaint that I MIGHT have is that the rear roll bar looks a little bit out of place in some pictures. But that's just being nit-picky.

Tesla Motors has also released more information regarding their new model, the S-Series. Pictures of the S are in short supply as of Google Image searches this morning, but should come more frequently now that the car has been revealed to the public. Or at least's reading public. Here's the one pic I could find via Google. has a brief article about the news release, stating the S will initially be around $60K, but government rebates will chop off around $7,500 on the sports sedan beauty. Attempts to contact Tesla were met by slow load times, but eventually yielded such interview-esque gems such as "The standard Model S does 0-60 mph in under six seconds and will have an electronically limited top speed of 130 mph, with sport versions expected to achieve 0-60 mph acceleration well below five seconds." When questioned about what should surely be small trunk space capacity, Tesla stated:

"The floor-mounted powertrain also results in unparalleled cargo room and versatility, as the volume under the front hood becomes a second trunk. Combining that with a four-bar linkage hatchback rear trunk and flat folding rear seats, the Model S can accommodate a 50-inch television, mountain bike *and* surfboard simultaneously. This packaging efficiency gives the Model S more trunk space than any other sedan on the market and more than most SUVs." ("Author's" Note: Now, I'm not sure what a floor-mounted powertrain is, or what any powertrain is for that matter, but there's just something about the thought of a sedan holding a big screen, a mountain bike and a surfboard, or hopefully a snowboard instead, that gets my motor revved.)

The S-Series also "can be recharged from any 120V, 240V or 480V outlet, with the latter taking only 45 minutes" and "expects to start Model S production in late 2011." So we're getting an extremely efficient, sexy beast of a car for around $50K?

So If you'll excuse me, I need to go take a very cold shower and finish sending out my resume.


Santana - Black Magic Woman

Homer: How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?

March 25, 2009

It’s the End of the World as We Know it (and I Feel Fine)

So I'm (and by that I mean Stacey—like she'd give me control over what she eats) grocery shopping at Meier earlier, and as soon as I walk, I see a nifty little sign: "Sanitary Cart Wipes." Now, I don't have a problem with Purel, and other similar disinfectants. Personally, I think they're fantastic after stuff like golfing, bowling, monkey-wrestling, whatever. What I can't stand, though, is people disinfecting every living and non-living thing within sight. It's like the George Carlin bit about swimming in the East River, and the strengthening it gave his immune system as a child.

*I had to clean that up a little for anyone familiar with how the original bit goes…he also describes when and why he washes his hands after using the restroom. But I digress.*

Now then, where was I? Right…sanitary wipes. How freakin' paranoid have we as a society gotten that we now need to wipe down grocery cart handles? I understand that people are concerned about Bird Flu, Monkey Flu, Shoe Flu, and any other billions of whatever influenza strain is coming around the mountain today, but really? Really? Do we really need to wipe down the grocery store carts? When did this happen? What made us so paranoid about touching anything that we now have to wipe down everything?

Now, let's take a moment and think about this. The human body has what is called "antibodies." Say it with me, kids, "An-Tee-Baa-Deez." Very good. Now, antibodies are what our body uses to fight off things such as influenza strains. However, antibodies are like boxers. Or MMA fighters for you kids who don't remember anything past yesterday. They need "training" in order to function at their highest level. And if you don't allow your body's antibodies to do their thing and consistently fight off germs that they can handle, eventually you're going to meet up with the Muhammad Ali of the bacterial/viral world and end up looking something like this. Now, with that image burned into your psyche, I will bid you all good day. I said GOOD DAY!




And now for something completely different:

And to finish off, here's your Simpsons quote to take us out of the post:

Homer: "Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try."

March 19, 2009


I know I'm setting a dangerous precedent by posting twice in one day, but "feh!" I say, "feh!"

This post will take a little more serious tone, as it pertains to a discussion I was in during class on Tuesday. The discussion arose when the subject came around the supposed dissolution of the "sense of community" in America.

Community tends to be a difficult term to argue about, because it can refer to a place, or the like-mindedness of a population within a well-defined or not area. And for this post, I'm talking like-mindedness, folks. I don't know what started this problem, and like most issues, it can probably be traced back to a gajillion different topics. Was it the widespread notion that children should go away to college? Or the proliferation of the car that enabled us to work in far-flung neighborhoods? Could it be the ease of access to information? Obviously, this blog isn't included in "information" as I plan to offer very little in the way of educational material, only dry jokes and inside humor four people might get. But I digress.

During class, the general theme presented seemed to focus on rapid information as the primary source, but I think I lean towards the automobile and its effects on society. How am I supposed to relate as a planner to the concerns of a populace that I may or may not have daily, direct contact with? I absolutely hope that I can, but it will be a struggle to find common ground, show the residents I work with that I do care, that I'm not some yuppie out to simply make a buck. Because THAT sure ain't gonna happen. I think we all know at least six planners that are absolutely BANKING coin. Meh

But to get back to my point, many of us live nowhere near where we work. We aren't invested in the daily concerns of the neighborhoods we frequent for eight hours a day. We put in our time, and get out of Dodge ASAP. But maybe that's why we don't live near work when we have the choice. That drive-time barrier provides a sort of sanctuary from the issues we deal with in our own communities. But millions of people don't have that choice and are forced to look for work close to their home due to not being able to afford a car, or lack of adequate child care, or a whole host of other reasons. So those of us entering the planning profession, and those already there are forced to fight new battles with old tools.

How do we encourage people to reinvest in their community, instead of leaving at 5pm and saying "sayonara, suckers!"? People obviously take an interest in the area they live in, but too often ignore the area they work in for one-third of their day. Should we try to develop insular communities for people to live and work in? New Urbanism tried this, but it doesn't seem to have worked, and often is seen as a veiled racist effort, as the majority of people who live in pre-destined housing with circular roads and neighborhood shops are white. Many planning efforts are geared either towards housing, or to employment, but without the other the one may be destined for failure. Is there a new path that can take us past the tried and true methods of activism, strikes, boycotts, and sit-ins to produce real change and open peoples' eyes to the problems others face in the two communities we all find ourselves in daily? Or will we further fragment? I wish I knew, but when I get an idea (any day now…I've been waiting for years) you'll be the first to know.


And now for your random Simpson's quote—Marge: Homer, the plant called. They said if you don't show up tomorrow don't bother showing up on Monday.
Homer: Woo-hoo! Four-day weekend!

Santos L. Halper

I am more than happy to announce a new member of the Hefley clan. I'm not exactly sure how this happened, but he's black, so I'm assuming this may have something to do with the fact that our milkman is part Chihuahua. And for some reason, I have become a magnet for homeless Chihuahuas over the last few years.

It all started a couple of years ago when I rescued a little lady from the Wendy's on Cumberland Avenue between classes. Penelope, as she is known, is a wonderful little lass who currently resides in Knoxville with my uncle. She became rather attached to his other adopted daughter, Chelsea, so when I moved out, it seemed extremely mean to break up the band. She still gets a little crazy when her adoptive father comes in town, so I've got that going for me. Which is nice.

The second Chi entered my life after my then-girlfriend, now wife adopted from PFONG, or Pet Friends of North Georgia. Chipper's been with us for about 3 years now, and has taken up Old Man status around the house. He's a great dog, but severely attached to his mother, and barely pays me any notice, except when I come bearing grub.

But the most recent addition came to us in a more roundabout way. A couple of friends of mine in Chicago were driving home Saturday, when they noticed some cars on the side of the Dan Ryan Expressway, and pulled over to see what the hub-bub was. Turns out the drivers of the other cars were attempting to corral a small dog to no avail. According to legend, when Josh got out, though, the dog hopped right in the car. Kind of King Arthur/Sword in the Stone-ish, right? Well, due to the fact that they already own a Bodie-dog, and reside with a Chili-dog, too (mmm….chili-dog) they weren't sure if they could tolerate three male dogs in one townhouse. So here comes "I can't turn down an adorable, semi-homeless dog Jared" to the rescue. Of course. My Thursday class got cancelled, so I left for my non-collegiate home a day early to surprise my wife, and present her with a new dog, which she quickly took to. Chipper, though, has kept his reservations about this intruder, but seems to be getting along with him. At least for now. His name is Wentworth (for the street he was found on), and he is a cute little bugger, even if he doesn't go to sleep easily, but we expect big things from him in the future. I'm hoping starting outfielder for the Blue Jays, while my wife is leaning towards doctor. But as long as he doesn't end up a lawyer, I think we'll be happy!

Until next time, aloha, folks!

March 12, 2009

Blaze of Glory

So I woke up yesterday to banging. Banging and yelling. I thought my roommate had locked himself out of the apartment again. Something I have done myself. Then there’s the smoke detector going off in the distance as well. You want to talk about how fast a human being can jump out of bed, put on clothes and grab a computer? Put me down for 30 seconds.

My apartment caught fire yesterday. There’s nothing that can kick your life into overdrive quite as fast as a fire can. After throwing myself together, I ventured out into the unknown to see if I could escape only to be met with a wall of smoke. You want to talk discombobulating? Try moving through an apartment you know well (because it’s roughly 2.5 square feet), only you can’t breathe and you hear an axe going to town on your neighbor’s door. I managed to crawl through the living room with a towel on my face (the only thing I could do from elementary school fire safety training) and knock on the door to let the firemen know someone was still in our apartment. Did they hear my feeble knocks? Maybe, maybe not. But I quickly moved from the living to the kitchen window to get some air and wet the towel so I could breathe, the only other thing I remembered from said fire training. You know that feeling when you’re sitting by a campfire and the wind changes, and you get a facefull of smoke? Try staying there without the breezes blowing that smoke towards your buddies. Not good times.

Now, I should say that the 4th floor of my building does not have direct access to the fire escape. This would have been a good thing to notice before I moved in, but whatever. Noticing stuff is overrated. As I’m looking out the window to a one-story drop to the nearest escape landing, one of the firemen notices I’m still in the building, and motions for the ladder truck to move closer to the building. As they’re extending the ladder, an alien comes in and tells me to follow him downstairs. At this point, I figured I’m either dead or he might have been a fireman in a previous life. So I went with the man in the weird mask.

Now, the key thing I forgot about in my mad dash to not be naked outside was that the temperature dropped from Tuesday to Wednesday. About 25 degrees. So I didn’t grab a jacket, only the thin hoodie I was wearing at the time and proceeded to freeze for a couple of hours until we could go back in the building. But at least it wasn’t raining, too.

How did the fire start, and what was the extent of the damage, you might ask? Well, it apparently started as an electrical short in a third-floor bathroom that then spread through the walls. One of which I crawled by on my adventure through Smoke Room. The fire department had to rip out sections of the ceiling in order to dump water down four floors. So my living room is a lake, the wall between our living room and the neighbor’s bathroom disappeared, and I could see the sky through the ceiling. Surreal? You bet. Especially when you’re standing in your living room a mile or so inland from Lake Michigan and hear seagulls.

Everything ended up okay (except for the building), and hopefully people will get to move back in this weekend, but I’d like to give a huge shout out to DJ and Josh for letting me crash on their couch for a couple of days, and a huge shout-out to the Chicago Fire Department for getting everyone out safely. So my stuff smells like a barbeque, I met a few more neighbors, and it wasn’t raining. Not a great day, but a decent one. Can we say low expectations?

March 8, 2009


Okay, where, oh where to start? I suppose I should introduce myself and what I'm doing. Although, in all likelihood, the only people reading this are going to be me and my wife's dog. And that's before he gets fed up and leaves me to my own devices. Eh, whatever.

Who am I? To avoid the psycho-babble/philosophical/metaphysical rantings that will surely come later, I am currently attending the University of Illinois at Chicago and pursuing my Master's Degree in Urban Planning, with a concentration on Community Development. I received my Bachelor's from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (Go Vols!--a sure-to-be-recurring theme) in Sociology. However, I soon decided that I neither wanted to flip burgers or teach for the rest of my life, so I bit the bullet after some cajoling by my wife and re-entered the student populace. And I've loved every minute of it. Except for the homework.

I'm originally from Tennessee, and yes, sometimes I type with an accent. I was married in October 2008 to the light of my world, who will surely look at this as a GINORMOUS waste of time. But I have a little-known egotistical streak a mile-wide, so I'm taking a leap off of D-bag point and pretending as if people will want to know how/why I think the way I do. Plus, I can use this platform to rant and rave about any and everything. But, I digress. I'm a Southern boy living in the North and hope to have some nice stories to tell.

Unfortunately, I am still enrolled in school for the time being, so posts may be sparse for the near future, but rest assured: I have opinions, and WILL share them. On everything from tv to baseball to hockey to books to wine to food and back around to whatever I feel like. I won't curse, but will rather contract to words such as "d-bag," because, well, that's just how I want to do things. Everything else, you can figure out in the future. I'll leave you with some 'H' approved sites to bide your time until I return, and in the words of Adam Carolla, "Mahalo!"

Suggested blogs/sites: (My buddy Os, a catchy writer) (But be warned, foul language abounds) (Another fave of mine) (A Chicago planning-based blog)