These Summer Days

Summer, as it tends to do in Southern California, is suddenly here. One can see it in the ever-later sunsets, the presence of June Bugs, and that delicious smell in the breeze at the end of each day. That smell, rather an essence, wafts around on the wings of the winds of the wonderfully wistful evenings and emotes the truth of what summer is.

Hot days. Cool breezes at night. The fresh smell of the wind. Playing games after dark in the street under flickering street-lights. Roaring down PCH, all windows down and the sunroof up, playing the music of summers past and present. Bonfires. Late night movies. Late night drives. Tans or freckles or sunburns, whichever is your preference. Fireworks. Festivals. Hot sand. Cool water. Summer is here. You can see it, you can hear it, you can smell it, you can touch it.

It is entirely accessible by all of the senses.

I think Ray Bradbury clearly understood summer. Dandelion wine. I’ve never had it, but I hear it and I think of summer. It sounds clear and bright, effervescent, delicious, interesting, and free. Free to be fizzy. Free to be rarefied. Free to be unthinkable.

Summer.

Ha, I said Ha

I shout one giant “Ha!” at the world. And afterwards proceed to say “I told you so.” Why? Because, apparently, my whole life since the moment I read The Hobbit, is right and true and noble. Why again? You ask too many questions…..

Fine, I’ll answer. But only because you can’t read my mind.
I have always pronounced Smaug as Smowg, but in a Spanish accent. And not as Smog. And the world, which consists of a few people I’ve actually said Smaug to, has told me that I am wrong.

But, retribution!

While watching the trailer for The Hobbit I came to the magnificently splendid realization that the characters in the movie were pronouncing Smaug the exact way I have for years!

A quiet “yes!” is in order.

P.S. you should totally read my previous post about Smaug, but keep in mind I had been disillusioned by a phonetically and linguistically incorrect world.

Let Me Count the Ways I Love You Oh Architecture

1. Your amazing blueprints

2. The buildings which you are

3. This essay right here about you oh Architecture.

4. The pens and pencils I get to use

5. The fact that I basically get to continue designing buildings like I did when I played with Legos, which might possibly have been recently or tomorrow, who knows

6. Gridded paper, that’s all I have to say

And on and on……

Lomography, The Love of My Life (For Now)

kino1

I just received, in the mail, on this day the 23rd of April, a new camera.

What new camera, you ask?

A Lomokino from Lomography.

I love it.

I haven’t even actually used it yet.

But. I still love it.

This fantastic creation, was accompanied by a Lomokinoscope. A magnificent contraption which is used to view the videos which the Lomokino itself films. It films in 35mm analogue, which happens to look super cool, colorful, and vintage.

It reminds me of sunshine, summer, and maybe a popsicle at a carnival. Can you see what I mean? Even the exterior of this camera is amazing and beautiful.

My belief is that everybody needs to own at least one kind of amazingly different camera in their life. Not just any digital camera, but one that has film in it.

Because believe you me, that phrase that I just said is the weirdest phrase ever. Sometimes English makes no sense. But, back on point, believe you me that digital and film are not the same. And if it comes to it, film is better. It just is. Take a look at a photo taken with a digital camera and a photo taken with an analogue camera. The analogue photo has much, much more, personality. And personality is essential to photography.

 

Tales of A Broke College Student: The Quality of Receipt Paper

Today whilst emptying out my wallet of all the random things amassed during two years of nordstrom-rack-logozero organization, I discovered something. Nordstrom Rack and Jamba Juice have the best, and I mean the best, quality receipt paper. How do I know this and why do I even care?

Well, firstly I was emptying out a vast supply of random receipts from my wallet. Towards the end of it all I could distinguish a Denny’s receipt from a Nordstrom jambajuice_Rack or Jamba Juice Receipt and vice versa. That’s how I know it.

Why do I care? Because I’m cheap and don’t like paying money for sketchbooks. Which is why I make my own. This applies here because it entered into my mind that I could actually use the receipts from Nordstrom Rack and Jamba Juice as sketching paper. That’s right, now go ahead and steal that idea from me.

I don’t know about the quality of your local Rack and Jamba Juice receipt paper, but the quality of the ones near me is super awesome. I mean it. The paper is thick and heavy and smooth, yet it does have a texture.

sketchbooks

As a result I’m going to use their receipt paper for drawing and writing etc. etc. Basically for everything I would use a Moleskine for if I actually went and bought one. I just realized that consequently I am now an amazing person who recycles.

I’m sure that some of you out there are saying “how broke can she be if she buys stuff at Nordstrom Rack?”. Well, for you important informational knowledge Nordstrom Rack actually does have sales. And Jamba Juice has good friends who buy me giftcards and give me coupons.

So there.

You, me , and sidewalks

Hello there.

I’ll allow you a moment to compose yourself after your sudden double-take.

Yes, after having maintained the disposition of a placid lake on a windless night, that is to say, unchanging, for nearly a year, words are actually being written and posted here. Oh frabjous day.

Onwards:

First, this is a sidewalk corridor.
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There are three main elements to a sidewalk corridor: the building clearance zone, the pedestrian zone, and the curbside zone.

With that preparatory knowledge given, we can move on.

Whenever I tell people that I’m an Urban Studies major I am without fail asked what that means. This elusive major involves city planning and analyzing the dynamic system of life and morphology present in the urban world. Big words. In smaller words: I get to study cities. A natural result of studying cities is conducting research about various aspects of city life, from the importance of public art to the desirable width of bike lanes. Because of this, term projects about the urban environment are a staple of my undergraduate life. Due to popular demand I’m posting my term project about the ideal urban sidewalks. Urban sidewalks will be a big deal in the future, today over 54% of the world lives in an urban environment. People like to walk, and, hopefully dissuaded by the humanity seen in Wall-E, will continue to do so. End : urban sidewalks are important. In keeping with this train of thought, I performed a pilot study to determine what the ideal sidewalk should be like.  The language is scientific. I did fieldwork. I took photos. I spent hours coding, compiling, and analyzing my data. I am now highly proficient in Microsoft Excel and an expert at people-watching. Below is the result:

Where the Sidewalk Ends:

Pedestrian Traffic and Fluidity and the Size and Aesthetic of Urban Sidewalks 

Introduction

Sidewalks have historically been regarded as the proper space for discussion and collaboration. This is evidenced by their protection as public forums through the First Amendment. As the centers of culture and modernization, cities should offer sidewalks, which complement the diverse and innovative environment in which they are placed. As crucial aspects of complete streets in the urban area, sidewalks must necessarily ensure pedestrian safety and easy travel, while also allowing a space for discussion, impartation of culture, and community creation. However, many city sidewalks are minimally sized and aesthetically displeasing, resulting in either low pedestrian traffic or fast-moving pedestrian traffic absent of a cultural and community environment.

This pilot study will attempt to discover if there is a correlation between the size and aesthetics of urban sidewalks, and safe and fluid pedestrian travel and a community environment. It is expected that this study will find that larger sidewalk spaces that have aesthetically pleasing elements are better suited to the community environment that should be created on urban sidewalks.

Methods

The study population observed for this research is the pedestrian traffic along two sidewalks in Huntington Beach and Long Beach, California. Through observing the two sidewalks and the level of pedestrian traffic and activity that occurs along each, one will be able to determine whether there is a correlation between better sidewalk design and pedestrian traffic. The two city sidewalks chosen for this study are E. 2nd Street between E. Livingstone Drive and Bay Shore Avenue in Long Beach, CA and Main Street between Orange Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach, CA. The two sample sidewalks are located in central areas of their communities and offer various retail, dining, and living options. The sidewalk on E. 2nd Street is located along a 4-lane high traffic road, which serves as the main route for cars traveling from the Pacific Coast Highway to Ocean Avenue. As a result, while pedestrians are common in the area, the road is very wide and often has high amounts of automobile traffic. This traffic issue is alleviated through the frequent distribution of safe and well-lit pedestrian crossings. The Main Street sidewalk is located on a small 2-lane street, which ends at the Pacific Coast Highway. Automobile traffic is very common, however, because the street is not the only route to the Pacific Coast Highway it can be closed off during high pedestrian traffic and for street fairs and festivals. Even so, pedestrian access across the street is not easily facilitated due to the lack of pedestrian crossing lights at the intersections. These two sidewalks were selected because they are both located in highly central areas, yet, each has employed a distinctive style and design.

In order to collect the data for this study it was necessary to visit each site during typically high activity. This allowed a determination to be made in relation to whether there is a correlation between high pedestrian traffic and sidewalk design. A place-centric behavioral mapping method of data collection was employed. This involved selecting a location, drawing the layout of said location, and recording the pedestrian activity through the location during 10 five-minute intervals. The observations were recorded using a series of demographic codes given in the fieldwork instrument. These codes indicate the approximate age, sex, whether the individual is alone or in a group, and various activities in which those being observed could engage. Because the sidewalks chosen for this study are located in central dining and retail areas it was decided that the best time to observe the sidewalk use intensity would be during the evening after 5:00PM but no later then 8:00PM on a week-day. This choice was made in consideration of work hours and likely shopping and dining hours, thus offering a view into the typical pedestrian use intensity of the sidewalk.

When developing the instrument it was found to be important that the layout of the street along which the sidewalk was located, and the surrounding elements be considered. As a result, the instrument includes a space to map the area, a chart to indicate the surrounding elements in relation to the building types in the area, a set of demographic codes, space to chart the observations made, an area to indicate the sidewalk corridor size, sidewalk materials, and street size, and further notes related to the observations made. Fieldwork was done on site at the designated sidewalk locations during weekday evenings. The E. 2nd Street location was visited between 7:30 and 8:15PM on March 31, 2015 and the Main Street location was visited between 7:00 and 7:45PM on April 7, 2015. A 10-yard segment of the sidewalk was chosen and observations regarding pedestrian use were recorded.

The data has been organized to determine whether there is a correlation between the size and aesthetics of an urban sidewalk and safe and fluid pedestrian travel and a community environment. To determine this, it was first necessary to record the size of the sidewalk being observed and the size of the surrounding street. Next, in order to quantify the aesthetics of the sidewalk area, the on street elements were recorded. The number of observations made according to the type and frequency of the observation were also recorded in order to indicate the level of pedestrian use and the types of activities seen on the sidewalk. Lastly, in order to quantify the community in the area, the numbers of groups seen were recorded, as well as the number of community activities seen. This data was analyzed through the use of spreadsheets and graphs to compare the level of activity between the two sidewalk locations. This allowed one to determine the pedestrian use intensity in relation to the surrounding community and the size and aesthetics of the sidewalk.

Findings

A total of 388 observations were made during fieldwork at the two sidewalk locations. Main St. experienced a higher level of pedestrian traffic as a result of the street being closed to automobiles on the day the observations were made. 211 observations were made at Main St. from 7:00PM to 7:45PM on April 7, 2015. A 10-yard section of sidewalk near the corner of Walnut Ave. and Main St. was observed for 10 5-minute intervals. 177 observations were made at E. 2nd St. from 7:35PM to 8:15PM on March 31, 2015. A similar 10-yard section of sidewalk from the corner of Covina Ave. and E. 2nd St. was observed for 10 5-minute intervals.

Figure 1. Number of Observations Along Sample Sidewalks.

This figure compares the number of observations made on Main St. and those made on E. 2nd St.

It was found that the sidewalk corridor on Main St. is significantly bigger than that seen on E. 2nd St.. This is a result of the curbside zone being extensively larger than that seen at E. 2nd St.. On Main St. the curbside zone is cut into at intervals by diagonal on-street parking. Any intact portion of curbside zone is either used for dining or as the corner of an intersection as a gathering place for pedestrians. As a result, pedestrian traffic tends to pool at the corners of street intersections. Furthermore, the pedestrian zone is infringed upon by the presence of outdoor dining along the curbside zone. Because of this traffic along the pedestrian zone is often bogged down.

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Figure 2. Main St. Sidewalks. Overhead photo of Main St. sidewalk layout
2nd St. maintains a typical sidewalk layout, with on street parking running parallel to the traffic lanes.

Figure 3. E. 2nd St. sidewalk. Photo of E. 2nd St. sidewalk layout
Figure 3. E. 2nd St. sidewalk. Photo of E. 2nd St. sidewalk layout

Figure 4. Sidewalk corridor width. Sample sidewalk corridor widths and street size
Figure 4. Sidewalk corridor width. Sample sidewalk corridor widths and street size
The Main St. sidewalk is located along a 2-lane street measuring 24ft. The sidewalk itself has a width of 20ft. The building clearance zone measures 2ft, the pedestrian zone 4ft, and the curbside zone 14ft, when not cut away for parking. The E. 2nd St. sidewalk has a width of 12ft. The building clearance zone measures 4ft, the pedestrian zone 4ft, and the curbside zone 4ft. This width is consistently maintained throughout the length of the street.

The aesthetic appeal of the sidewalk was judged by recording the aesthetically pleasing elements found along the one block portion of the street along which the 10-yard section of sidewalk was found.

Aesthetic Street Elements Main St. E. 2nd St.
Trash can 1 1
Planter 1 1
Street tree 1 1
Street lamp 1
Bicycle rack 1
Shrubbery
Bench 1 1
Street performer 1
Art 1
Community projects 1
Total 5 8

Figure 5. Aesthetic street elements. Comparison of such elements
Figure 5. Aesthetic street elements. Comparison of such elements
It was found that the sidewalk on E. 2nd St. is more aesthetically pleasing than the Main St. sidewalk. This is evidenced not only through the presence of aesthetic street elements, but also by the aesthetic appeal of said elements.

For example, the bicycle racks along the sidewalk also function as sculptures.

Figure 6. Bicycle rack. Bicycle rack sculpture seen on E. 2nd St.
Figure 6. Bicycle rack. Bicycle rack sculpture seen on E. 2nd St.
Trashcans and utility boxes are painted with community created murals.

Figure 7. Utility box. Artistic element on E. 2nd St. sidewalk
Figure 7. Utility box. Artistic element on E. 2nd St. sidewalk
Furthermore, artistic shadows are painted extending from the base of parking meters.

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Figure 8. Sidewalk painting. Artistic element on E. 2nd St. sidewalk
As a result, Main St. received a 5/10 score for its aesthetic appeal, while E. 2nd St. received an 8/10 possible points.

Street Elements Main St. E. 2nd St.
Trash can 1 1
Fire hydrant
Signage 1 1
Parking meter 1 1
Mailbox 1
Street lamp 1 1
Traffic light 1
Utility pole 1
Bicycle rack 1 1
Crosswalk 1 1
Pedestrian crossing light 1
Total 7 10
 

 

In order to gauge the safety and utility of the sidewalk, the presence of certain street elements were recorded as well as the sidewalk’s condition. “Poor” condition was given a value of 1 point, “Fair” condition a value of 3 points, and “Good” condition a value of 4 points. Main St. was found to have sidewalks in “Poor” condition in the pedestrian zone. The sidewalk on E. 2nd St. was found to be in “Good” condition. This form of evaluation was combined with a record of the street utility and safety elements found along the sidewalk. The sidewalks could score a total of 11 points.

Main St. scored 7/11 and E. 2nd St scored 10/11 possible points. The two sets of points regarding the sidewalk condition and street elements were combined for a total possible score of 15.

Figure 9. Street elements. Street safety and utility elements compared.
Figure 9. Street elements. Street safety and utility elements compared.
As a result, the Main St. sidewalk scored 8/15 points and the E. 2nd St. sidewalk scored 14/15 points.

The fluidity of pedestrian travel was gauged by recording the number of people walking along the segment of sidewalk during the period of observation. The E. 2nd St. sidewalk was found to have a higher degree of pedestrian fluidity with 137 observations, while the Main St. sidewalk only experienced 41 such observations.

Figure 10. Fluidity of pedestrian travel. Compare pedestrian travel fluidity.
Figure 10. Fluidity of pedestrian travel. Compare pedestrian travel fluidity.
The community environment of the sidewalk area was measured by recording the instances of community related activities such as talking, dining, walking, stationary activity, watching street performers, and the frequency of groups in the area.

Community Activities Main St. E. 2nd St.
Pushing stroller 0 12
Dining 26 19
Stationary 73 38
Watching performers 84 0
Walking 41 137
Talking 35 93
Total 259 299
Groups 156 113
Community score 415 412

While E. 2nd St. witnessed more community related activities, Main St. witnessed a larger amount of group pedestrian traffic. As a result, the two have a close Community score.

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Figure 11. Groups and individuals. Number of groups and individuals seen.
The community environment can be further gauged through the involvement of the residents in the aesthetics of the sidewalk. On Main St. zero instances of community involved art were available. However, street performers were present along the street, involving the residents as a community. Meanwhile, on E. 2nd St. several examples of community artwork were present along the sidewalk corridor.

As a result, this study found that there is a between the size and aesthetic of urban sidewalks and the safety and fluidity of pedestrian travel. Furthermore, these categories can be linked to the sense of community in the surrounding environment.

Discussion

This study offers evidence that there are several factors necessary to create the best urban sidewalks. It was found that overall sidewalk width was not the most important factor for a well-functioning sidewalk. Instead, maintaining consistency in the size of the pedestrian zone proved to be most important. This is evidenced on E. 2nd St., where the pedestrian zone maintains a constant 4ft width, supplemented by the curbside zone when empty. Because of this, pedestrian fluidity is much higher on E. 2nd St. than it is on Main St. where the pedestrian zone is often infringed upon by outdoors dining along the curbside zone. Furthermore, E. 2nd St. was found to have a higher aesthetics score than Main St. This is a result of the heightened presence of community art and aesthetically pleasing items such as trees and lights. Additionally, E. 2nd St. received a higher pedestrian safety and street utility score. While it would typically be thought that a smaller street would be safer for pedestrians, in this case the opposite was found. E. 2nd St. is twice the size of Main St., however; the presence of designated pedestrian crosswalks and pedestrian crossing lights makes the street much safer. On the other hand, Main St. lacks traffic and pedestrian lights and resorts to stop signs at intersections. Moreover, the E. 2nd St. sidewalk is in better condition than the Main St. sidewalk. In relation to the community element of sidewalks, Main St. was found to have a slightly higher score 415, while E. 2nd St. scored 412. However, the community element could not be entirely quantified in relation to the evidence of community involvement witnessed along the sidewalk corridor.

As a result, this study found that there is a correlation between the size and aesthetic of a sidewalk and the safe fluid travel of pedestrians. Furthermore, the sense of community surrounding a sidewalk can be gauged using the activities witnessed on the sidewalk, as well as the apparent investment of the community into the area. As a result, one is able to find that sidewalks that are well-maintained, consistently sized, and aesthetically appealing directly correlate to the safety and fluidity of pedestrian travel as well as the community atmosphere surrounding travel along such an avenue.

This pilot study offers various points that can be used to inform a full-scale study regarding pedestrian use and urban sidewalks. The same methods of quantifying aesthetic appeal, safety, and the community environment can be used in the full-scale study to determine those values for various other sidewalks. The fieldwork instrument will be used in the full-scale study and will aid the study in exploring the same behavioral mapping facets of understanding pedestrian use of urban sidewalks.

In conducting this study the main difficulties experienced were in relation to mapping out the activities of large amounts of people during a highly limited amount of time. Because this study used a behavioral mapping place-centric approach, a major part of fieldwork involved mapping out the activities of the sample sidewalk population. However, during certain moments, sufficiently mapping the movements of large groups of people was difficult. This problem seems to arise from the fact that only one person was carrying out the fieldwork. In the future, this could be avoided by having teams of at least two people carry out any mapping sessions, in this way any oversights made by one person might be caught by the other.

Future research should look at a larger sample size of sidewalks. While this study was sufficient for small downtown urban areas, it fails to look at various other urban areas in which sidewalks and pedestrians are often seen. In addition, any future research should also visit the sample sidewalks during different hours of the day and on different days of the week, in order to gain a better understanding of pedestrian sidewalk use. Furthermore, in determining the safety of the sidewalk, this study failed to look at actual data regarding past accidents involving pedestrians in the area. In the future it would be advised that visual on site data be supplemented with data from the city regarding the sidewalk in question and its use and design. Additionally, in quantifying the level of community around the sidewalk, one should also interview the residents in the area, through the use of a focus group, to ask if they believe a type of community exists around the sidewalk for pedestrians.

End pilot study.

Fun stuff no?

The Fan Girl Highlight of My Week

Sunday. July 21st 2013.  In N’ Out in the general vicinity of the area in which I live. In walk a trio of people who have donned fancy looking sunglasses and one of whom, a young woman, is wearing an almost Tardis blue, semi-sparkly, fluffyish sweater and flip flops.

Bam! Someone, whose blog is here, turns to me and says “Doesn’t that girl look like Clara from Doctor Who?

I take a moment to process this and turn and search the crowded In N’ Out for someone wearing a sparkly blue sweater. And it turns out yes that girl totally could be Jenna-Louise Coleman. She heads off to the bathroom and  after further debate someone is sent to ask the people who were accompanying her if the girl who just walked into the bathroom is named Jenna and they say “Mayyyybbbeeee”. jennalouisecolemanautograph

A hesitant maybe suffices.

We wait for her to order and then this ensues:

I really, really love that she wrote Clara at the bottom.

it"s Jenna-Louise Coleman!!!

And then after she finished signing this lovely autograph and another, she was sweet enough to take a picture with us. See the blue sweater?

twitterclara

And now, after posting this on Facebook and Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram, the fact that Jenna Louise Coleman was at In N’ Out and took a picture with my friends and I, has made the rounds and ended up on the official Doctor Who Tumblr blog and various other Tumblr blogs! Apparently when you meet Jenna Louise Coleman at In N’ Out you become internet famous. Ahh the perks of life and In N’ Out.

So, to Jenna Louise Coleman, I’m sorry for interrupting your first In N’ Out burger. I know it’s an “experiencia religiosa” ( see Enrique Iglesias), but I hope you really, really, really enjoyed your In N’ Out burger. An Animal style burger without the spread is the best.

Furthermore, on further reflection I came to realize that the good looking guy who was with Jenna was Richard Madden from Game of Thrones. I’m sure we caused him some confidence issues because we totally ignored him and didn’t recognize him as anyone famous. That’s the top of his head in the background. Thus is the tunnel-vision of a fangirl whovian.

Dragons and Air Pollution

Recently, as in last night around 9pm, someone in a group of my friends brought up Smaug, the dragon from the book and movie The Hobbit. And then for some reason somebody started talking about how we couldn’t see the stars because it was so cloudy and then someone said that that was because of the smog. I didn’t entirely keep track of the short conversation but, the Smaug portion caught my attention. You see where I’m going with this don’t you?

Anyways, onward to glory I go. And yes, I did just quote Man of La Mancha, just in case you were wondering and that sounded familiar to you. If you weren’t and it didn’t, go see and or listen to Man of La Mancha (the musical). And that actually ties into what I’m writing here, because I’m talking about dragons, and dragons are a type of monster and Don Quixote tilted at windmills because he thought they were monsters.

As I was about to say before my brain went too in depth into the whole monster thing, Smaug and smog sound the same. Why?

Why does the fire breathing, fume creating, firey night sky inducing, smoky, belly full of flame dragon have a name that is a homophone to the word smog. Isn’t that a bit coincidental?

The air-polluting dragon has a name that sounds like the definition of air pollution. Really?

How did J.R.R. Tolkein even come up with that?

I think he must have been having some fun with it. He probably noticed that the term smog came from a combination of the words smoky and fogthence the word smog. And then as he was sitting there thinking up and creating entire worlds he thought (and this is obviously read in a British accent “I think I’ll name the dragon Smaug because he’s smoky and the smoke looks foggy, and that way in around 80 some odd years, I’ll cause some person a lot of confusion and force her to entertain thoughts that she’s a conspiracy nut.”

In addition to that just think of the phrase the “Desolation of Smaug.” Read it this way: the desolation of smog. That actually makes sense. Just look at Los Angeles. Tolkein was obviously being prophetic.

What say you?