Thursday, December 18, 2008

High Speed Rail and Fresno

I haven't talked about High Speed Rail for a while, so it is time again. The California High Speed Rail Blog has had a few interesting articles recently about one of the first steps for the CAHSR, the Central Valley Test Track Part 1. This is basically a test track that will eventually be a part of the train route through the valley helping the HSR authority test trains, develop rules and regulations, and develop strategies for technical issues such as seismic activity and any route sharing that might exist. Part 2 proposes some ideas more specifically to the route of the test track (and then eventually the actual route with stations, etc.).

A couple of thoughts on this:
  • Transit planning is very interesting to me, especially since I am learning a lot as I read some of these articles
  • Long term planning is both extraordinarily important and difficult.
  • Some of these people making these plans (especially related to personal vehicle travel) seem to be on the wrong path
  • I think (and hope) train travel will become as commonplace here (especially in California) as it is in Europe
  • These transit projects will require a lot of planning and work to get completed, and it will be very exciting to see all the changes it will bring.
Here are some other articles (8.2mb pdf, and 20.15mb pdfabout the future of transportatin in the valley and Fresno region.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

My Car

So it is good and bad to have a car that VERY few other people have in your city.

It is good because people can spot you pretty easily.
It is bad because people can spot you pretty easily.

It is funny because when your friends see one of the 2 or 3 other cars that are the same as yours, they think its you.

My friends ask me all the time whether I was here or there at a certain time a few days ago. I get text messages asking me how the food at Taco Bell is, when I'm sitting at home eating ice cream.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Christmas Music

Luke Mundy's posts on Christmas Music have had me thinking a lot about Christmas music in general.

Christmas music is one of these two things:
  1. Music about the true meaning of Christmas (the birth of Jesus)
  2. Holiday music that is normally associated with the season
Christmas music can be one of these or both, but it is much easier to make new music from the first category. Of course almost every musical artist has done some rendition of a classic Christmas tune, which is relatively easy, but this isn't creating new music (in this situation).

I think when most people think of Christmas music they think of the second category, even though the specific songs might fit in the first category. If you were to write a song about the birth of Jesus that no one had heard before it would unlikely be considered a Christmas song by most people until it reached that degree of holiday association.

This makes it hard then to enter the Christmas music market. It is possible with such pop songs turned Christmas classics such as Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" and The Beach Boys "Little Saint Nick", but very difficult.

So, I think my whole point is I wish all of you musicians out there the best of luck with creating new Christmas music, especially if it fits in the first category.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I started reading a new book today (to join the other 2 or 3 books I am currently in the middle of reading). Thanks to Mike S for lending me the book.

The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil.

I love reading that challenges you, makes you think, and gives you an exercise in the abstract. While not necessarily each of these things occur in every book I read, I do enjoy these different things.

I've only read the prologue so far, but it is a book about the future of computers, artificial intelligence, and the possibility of these thinking "beings" being conscious.

I hope it to be a good read.