Tuesday, December 31, 2013

La Habra Subreddit

I decided to invade the not very interesting La Habra subreddit. For the past few months I have been one of the main contributors to the urban planning subreddit. I figure that cross posting some of the more relevant links to the La Habra subreddit gives some chance of bringing decent zoning decisions.

Monday, December 30, 2013


I decided to play the anti-NIMBY in my neighborhood. After reading a draft of the Housing Element of the General Plan for La Habra I went ahead and sent this email to the director of housing development:

I am a new home owner in one of the developments which have recently been constructed in La Habra. Recently I read through the housing element document on the website. There was much I agreed with, such as allowing mixed use developments. There are a few aspects I strongly disagree with though. Is there still time to influence the final document?
In particular I couldn't agree less with the following:

"There is a height limit of 2.5 stories or 35 feet on all multi‐family zones, which allows for a partial subterranean parking garage with two residential stories above. This restriction is in place due to La Habra residents’ expressed preference for preserving the low ‐ rise appearance of their neighborhoods, and is consistent with policies of the General Plan"
La Habra should aspire to be more like Pasadena or Paris and less like San Bernardino or Fresno. Taller buildings should be courted, not pushed out. This is particularly true on La Habra boulevard where there is a both a desperate need to tear down virtually every building to build new, and an opportunity to construct a decent downtown if enough developers can be attracted. The wild success of Avo and Brio should make condo builders interested if the city will just give them terms that make sense. The best way La Habra boulevard could proceed is to allow up to seven story mixed use buildings without any type of zoning violation. This would allow expensive enough developments to justify both the hassle of buying several small lots and the risk of building in what is not a very attractive neighborhood.
Also parking requirements for new construction should be relaxed, once again this is particularly on La Habra boulevard where new development is vital. La Habra boulevard is the most walkable part of La Habra so commercial space does not need as much parking as a great many customers simply walk from home. If parking requirements are not relaxed there is a real risk of turning it into the developments on beach and imperial where you can hardly go from one store to the next without getting in a car.

What options are still available to me to influence this document and the La Habra General Plan?

It really is true that the plan for [La Habra](http://www.reddit.com/r/LaHabraCA/) is a good example of stereotypical bad urban planning. All the height limits and parking requirements which have killed public transportation in America. Hopefully the obvious need for more development will help them be less anal.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Map of Average Commutes

This is an impressive map of average commutes from around the country.

I have long known that Fresno roads were designed to be much faster for cars than those in most other cities I have been to. Fresno has average commutes of less than 20 minutes which reflect this reality. Cheap homes probably help too, you don't need to head to the exurbs to find an affordable place.

On the other end of the extreme, lower Manhattan does well with average commutes right about the national average 25 minutes. This is impressive because most people there walk or take public transportation.

In almost all cities, living downtown will result in far shorter average commutes than living in the suburbs. The reason is obvious, even if you don't work downtown your commute will be against traffic. If you decide to take public transit it will also likely be of much higher quality downtown. More residential construction downtown is one of the best things most cities could do to reduce the time wasted.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pictures of Space

When a scientist says how many stars there are, it is just hard to visualize. You think there is a lot, but a lot doesn't really make as large an impression as this image(If it doesn't get really big try this link):

Just about every little dot is a solar system.

A few hundred years ago people figured out that planets orbit the sun. After a few generations they started figuring out how far away those planets were. Then someone invented rockets. Now we are able to calculate just how long the rocket needs to burn to get all the way to that little dot in the sky. Not only do we get impressive fly by photos of other planets, we actually have pictures from the surface. Here are some of my favorite Mars photos (click for the quite impressive full size images):

Curousity Rover:


Opportunity Rover:

Spirit Rover:

Monday, December 23, 2013

New York Stuck, Montana Didn't

I just took the language quiz which has been spreading around. A lot of the questions cheated, and were really not asking about language as much as local laws and wildlife. Still though the results were rather interesting:

I was not surprised that it put me as being from central California. I took it twice, once it said I was from Fresno, Modesto, or Sacramento, the second time it said Fresno, Modesto or Santa Rosa. Since I spent at least half my life in the triangle from Fresno in to San Francisco and back to Modesto this makes sense.

I also spent three and a half years in Ithaca New York, along with about the same amount of time in Montana and Southern California. My language is very West Coast according to the quiz so Southern California would be easy to hide in the blob of red. However there are a few other dots around the country, the one that surprised me was the big orange spot in Western New York. I suppose it isn't so different in size from the one in Chicago where I have never spent much time but it still seems unlikely to be coincidence. Some of the way people in New York speak stuck.

Montana though shows little sign of having stuck. I guess this makes sense because all the time I spent there was with people from California.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Little sign of affordable housing

Reading through the comments on this New York Times article gave me much less hope for the place. Most of the comments complain about at least one of the following: too much development, too many ugly large buildings, and too expensive of housing.

Almost no one seems to understand the basic problem. Several million more people want to live in New York City then actually live there. Either they build enough new housing for all of these people, other cities step up and become competitive with the city, they make the city a worse place to live or housing prices continue to go through the roof. There is no magic option where the city stays exactly like it is today, but prices become reasonable.

I am a huge advocate for creating several new Manhattans around the country while building like crazy in the real one. Unfortunately almost no one seems to understand that by fighting development, they make sky high prices inevitable.

Hopefully Los Angeles steps up and takes this role. From a technical standpoint it would not be an issue to build a couple million high density housing units and a few hundred subway stations near downtown. All the city would need to do would be make the permitting process dead simple for new skyscrapers while demanding money from developers for subway expansion. There are some signs of this with the tallest building on the west coast under construction along with a handful of new subway stations and quite a number of light rail stations. Still, the NIMBYs are strong and current levels of development are too slow.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Electric Buses

I am still rather skeptical of electric cars, although I admit to be pretty impressed by the advances of the past five years. Electric bikes have made sense to me for a while, and on some days other small electric vehicles such as a segway don't seem entirely crazy.

Electric buses actually make a whole lot of sense to me though. Rather than charging in the morning, then running all day most have overhead wires which power them. Modern battery technology means that they don't have to stay under the wires all day. They can charge for most their route, but if they need to move away from the wires for short distances during emergencies or to pick up passengers they can do so.

This seems like a best of all worlds. The problem with electric cars is the battery. The cost per mile of buying batteries eats up the entire cost difference between gasoline and electricity. Also they have to recharge for so long limiting range. By running off overhead wires a trolley bus seems to eliminate those problems.

The only downsides I can see are the wires which are pretty ugly, and the fact that like all public transportation it only works well in high population density areas.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Favorite Pundit

Recently my favorite pundit has been Matthew Yglesias. He seems to be one of the few people out there with reasonable plans which if they could just be adopted would lead to dramatic improvements in the country. Here are some examples of recent articles from him:

Central Planning in America
Long Term Unemployed: Doom
Housing Costs: Its the Zoning, Stupid
Raise the Gas Tax!
How Inflation Helps Heal Financial Crises
If Corn Loses, We Win
We Need More $88 Million Apartments

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Native Plants

I finally gave in and drove to Tree of Life Nursery to pick up my native berry plants. I got a Golden Currant and a Nevin's Barberry. They are both native to Southern California, although I do not believe either lives closer to me than the Cleveland National Forest.

I planted two types of native clover, foothill clover and bull clover. These two are at least native to Orange and LA counties but have not been very good at sprouting. So far I just have one tiny plant, and I am not even positive that it is not just a white clover plant.

Overall things are improving, but there is still too much dead space. Surprisingly the mulberry has hit ten feet in less than six months. I expect I will need to do quite a bit of pruning to limit it to the area I want it:

The Cape Gooseberry still has not produced a ripe fruit, but it is starting to look like it will so I might keep it until next summer to see if it improves:

I was unhappy to learn that Dill is an annual, fortunately it seems to have reseeded itself:

The Pineapple Sage was mostly a failure, the leaves taste horrible. Luckily it is pretty and the hummingbirds like it:

The rat tail radish apparently get way too big for the limited space I have, but have been fairly productive and fun:

The Chinese 5 Color Peppers were fairly successful, although one of the three plants was either a mutant or hybrid. The plants are productive and easy to grow:

Friday, November 1, 2013

Trains are slow

Trains in California are slow.

I was looking at a list of future rail stations in Los Angeles County. I saw that the Gold Line is working its way far to the East with future stations which go near where I work.

Then I started reading about the gold line:
The Gold Line takes 54 minutes to travel its 19.7-mile (31.7 km) length. This means the Gold Line averages 21.9 mph (35 km/h) over its length, making the Gold Line the slowest of all of Metro Rail's lines. In particular, the Gold Line is slow through the Highland Park area, where trains reach speeds of only 20 mph (32 km/h), and through the curves, where trains travel at about 25 mph (40 km/h).
As slow as traffic is, it is pretty hard to compete with cars when your average speed is not even 25mph. Even worse, this is some of the newest track on the rail system. It was all built in the past decade, and they still can't manage to get something capable of moving at a reasonable speed!

At least they are considering extending the gold line to the Ontario Airport. Connecting the train network to several airports and colleges strikes me as about the best way to make it actually useful. Unfortunately that seems likely to be delayed even longer than connections to LAX. 

Subways are returning

I am pretty surprised to see that Southern California is back to building subways. Subways seem like the only transportation mechanism which has been able to compete with the car, so they may a bright future. Still, nine years for four miles of subway does seem like an awfully slow schedule. Even the Channel Tunnel only took six years of construction, and that was seven times as long.

Apparently the subway system is bigger than I thought, there are a total of nine subway stations on the purple line. The expansion will add another seven, but probably won't be complete for twenty years. The red line includes another eight stations in addition to some in the same stations as the purple line. There are another three proposed subway stations with the regional connector transit project projected to be done by 2020.

So today there are 17 stations, and by 2023 that number will be 23 stations. That is a rate of 0.6 subway stations per year, putting it on track to match the 421 of subway stations built in New York City by the year 2718. Even including rail stations only brings the current total number of stations in LA county up to 80.  Perhaps I shouldn't get my hopes up too quickly that this will be a viable transit system in such a sprawling area. The only chance seems to be forcing high density construction next to rail stations so a high percentage of the population/businesses are within walking distance of rail.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Electric Bikes

There are a few electric motorcycles out there. They make a whole lot more sense than the electric cars out there, but are just too scary to seem likely to catch on with the general public.

Electric bikes though, now there is a good idea. They are cheap enough that they make a reasonable substitute for a bike. Unlike electric cars, which force people to live with limited range for their car, electric bikes increase the reasonable range of bikes. A bike is a lot of work; with an electric bike though, I could be environmentally friendly and lazy at the same time!

Electric motors are a whole lot more efficient at using electricity than muscles are at using food. So a reasonable case can actually be made that an electric bike is more energy efficient than a conventional bike.Since conventional bikes are amazingly energy efficient, that really is saying something.

They can even be made to recharge in a few hours off of a modest solar panel!

It sounds like they have had a lot of legal trouble though with conventional bicyclists, and pedestrian advocates arguing against them. For example, in California it is not legal to ride one on a bike trail.  A shame, hopefully they don't get killed by regulation. The electric bikes are much less of a hazard to people on bike trails, than cars on roads are to riders of electric bikes.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Nitrogen Fixing Native Clover

I decided what the back yard needs is ground cover. Nitrogen fixating ground cover would be best. I planted some white clover seeds which I procured at my nearest park. These might do alright, but then I ran into the Larner Seeds website which has a half dozen varieties of native clover. 

I settled on getting Trifolium fucatum and Trifolium ciliolatum seeds. They are perhaps not as low water as I would prefer, but they seem to be native to the county I am in so they should be low maintenance. As best as I can tell they fix nitrogen like most any other clovers although I found no information on how efficient they are at it. Beyond that, both are edible clovers fitting well with the forest garden theme I am trying to keep up.

Miners lettice also sounded like a good idea. It grows wild near here so it should make an efficient ground cover.

Afghanistan after the Invasion

I was always less concerned about the war in Afghanistan than the one in Iraq. Part of the reason was that Afghanistan was about the worst place in the world to live. Average life expectancies were in the low 40s, few countries do worse. There just wasn't much chance that having our military there would make the country more dangerous.

What I didn't realize was just how much having us there helped. The average life expectancy is on track to increase by twenty years since we invaded!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

More Yard Pictures

I have been slowly getting the back yard into order. It has changed quite a lot since last time, some worked well some did not. The biggest issue right now is just not enough plants. There is still too much bare dirt. A few plants have done well though.

The weeping mulberry tree has at least doubled in height. When I first put it next to a 10ft tall stake I was thinking it would look funny for years. At the rate it has grown it should reach full height within a year or so. This was particularly impressive next to the old picture of it.

The best choice was probably the Goji Berry. I was a little worried that it wouldn't grow at all here, but it has just taken off. If it keeps growing like it is, I will have hundreds of berries next fall:

The strawberries have also done well, and are now spreading like crazy. 

Two out of ten alpine strawberries have died, and the rest are just doing alright. They make a fair number of strawberries but are not particularly amazing. 

The pineapple sage has got huge, it is really pretty but otherwise seems uninteresting:

 The Hyssop is still a great little plant:

While they have only got through two of their five colors. the Chinese 5 Color Peppers seem to be doing really well. Oddly enough two are starting out with purple peppers and one is starting with yellow ones. 

The Strawberry Spinach leaves are pretty awful, although I haven't tried cooking them to see if they get better. Maybe the berries will be better, but I am not betting on it.

Sorrel was a great pick. Unlike the Strawberry Spinach it has tasty little leaves. Although it took a long time before it really started growing.

The Cape Gooseberry will probably be removed soon. So far it has just produced flowers. It also apparently really needs to be staked or grown in a tomato cage. 

The Lovage has not thrived. It seems to finally be at least growing though. However Parsley plants which are several months younger are the same size as it:

The Goumi has grown a lot, until next spring I won't really know if it was a good choice though. Next to it are some parsley seedlings, a alpine strawberry, and a lemon verbena plant. The lemon verbena so far has been a good choice.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Landing the first stages

I am always surprised how conceptually simple most really good ideas are.

The cost of the energy required to get to space is cheap. Perhaps even as cheap as $1 a pound. The problem is that the cost of hardware needed to get to space is really high. If you had the equivalent of a 747; something you could take off to space, refuel, and quickly take off again space travel would be cheap.

A lot of ideas I have seen are simply trying to get a single vehicle which can get to space like a plane. This might be possible, but has thus far been really difficult. There might be an easier way though. Make a multi stage rocket, but make the stages which drop off into drones. The drones could then land, be hooked back together, then launch again.

SpaceX is trying to do something similar to that. So far the tests haven't gone all that well, but given how well a lot of their launches have been going I expect those details to be worked out quickly.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Less Licenses

I knew driving was becoming less common amount young people due to things such as high cost and more strict DUI punishments. Still, this statistic surprised me a bit:
In recent years, fewer young people are interested in driving. Just 79 percent of people between 20 and 24 had a driver’s license in 2011, compared with 92 percent in 1983
Now more than 1 in 5 young people do not have a drivers license, when thirty years ago it was about 1 in 12. Having just made a huge bet on the idea that homes within walking distance of businesses will increase in attractiveness, I am probably not unbiased on this subject though.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Opposite of the Flynn Effect

I have long been interested in the Flynn effect partially because the steady raise in IQ scores goes against what most people seem to want to think. Every generation wants to complain abot "kids these days".

What I did not realize is that I may be looking at too short a time scale. The human brain has been shrinking for 20,000 years.

Walk Scores in New Housing Developments

I went to see a bunch of model homes today. A few things were pretty impressive:

They really are selling like crazy. Essentially every one we talked to had raised prices since last year, in one case as much as 40%. Two fairly large developments we visited only had one home remaining, another which was over 500 homes was within 30 sales away from selling out. Not only that but there is a huge volume of new homes on the market. In total several thousand new homes are being built near me, many in areas which haven't had new construction in decades.

It seems to be universal that new single family homes are being built at above the 7 homes per acre where public transportation actually starts to make sense. Considering that the newer apartment complexes are even higher density it seems likely that another decade of construction and public transit will be less of a joke in Southern California.

Because they are on such small lots, third stories seem to be quite common. I felt like that was an unusual feature of the place I bought, but it is almost standard in more urban areas. Amerige Heights in particular did a good job of making a practical third story.

Another thing which struck me was they all seem really hard to be trying to hide from people. Even those which were not gated communities seemed to be trying really hard to isolate themselves from the outside world with high walls and poor pedestrian access. In a country where crime is rare and social isolation is common this seems a really strange way to set up cities.

The new home I ended up buying does a bit of this, but it also seems to be designed so someone without a car will not starve. I decided to see if my instinct was right, and looked up a walk score for every new development I am aware of which is near me. Sure enough, most new developments are pretty awful. Maybe I should be surprised more though by the five new developments which actually are classified as "very walkable" though.

Village Walk Town Homes, San Dimas88
Colony Park, Anaheim -                              82
Avo, La Habra -                                                77
Brio, La Habra -                                                77
Vintage Walk, Covina -                                  74
Lone Hill, San Dimas -                                   69
The Gables, Whittier -                                     66
Amerige Heights, Fullerton -                          60
Alcott, Buena Park -                                         60 
Donovan Ranch, Anaheim -                             58
La Floresta, Brea* -                                          55  
Dakota Meadows, San Dimas -                      49
Noble, Eastvale -                                               45
Summerwind, Brea -                                        38
Corta Bella, Yorba Linda -                               34
Sycamore Creek, Corona -                               34
Seacountry, Chino -                                          35
Sorano at Blackstone, Brea -                            31 
Davenport, Eastvale -                                       29
Westmont, Chino -                                            23
Arietta, Chino -                                                 18
Orchard Glen, Corona -                                    17
Hearthside, Eastvale -                                      11
The Villages, Santa Fe Springs -                     6

*Future commercial property planned into the site design, this will ultimately increase the walk score.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Well, I have hardly earned a green thumb, but I have at least managed to keep plants alive.

Right now I have:
Golden Sage
Garlic Chives
Chinese 5 Color Pepper
Weeping Mulberry
Albion Strawberries
Italian Alpine Strawberries
Alexandria Alpine Strawberries
Cape Gooseberries
Goji Berries
Goumi Berries
Lemon Verbena
Rat's Tail Radish
Strawberry Spinach
He Shi Kho Bunching Onions
Green Grape Tomato

Here is a month and a half of messing with my yard.

July 6:

July 14:

August 3:

August 18:

Albion Strawberries:

Alexandria or Italian Alpine Strawberries:



Green Grape Tomatoes:


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Air Bearings

The part of the hyperloop project which worries me the most is stability. The pods have to stay in the tube and cannot make contact with the walls at significant speed. The proposal was to use compressed air to keep it on the wall, kind of like an air hockey puck.

That just sounds implausible. So I did some reading. Turns out, you can buy commercial air bearings which can hold hundreds of tons! A few tons of pod shouldn't be an insurmountable issue.

Monday, August 12, 2013


When I first heard about the Hyperloop idea, I was sure it would just be a vactrain. They have been talked about for ages, but just haven't quite been cost effective enough for anyone to try.

I was right. After reading through their blog it seems to actually be something quite a bit more brilliant though. An idea to reduce the cost of a vactrain by operating at fairly high pressures compared to other vactrain designs. Like all great ideas, it is dead simple. Put a fan on the front of your train to push air behind you.

The problem is that a train will push most the air in the tube up to the front of the tube as the train goes along. By the time the train is at the end of the tube air friction will be tremendous because most of the five hundred miles of air in the vactrain tube will be in the last few miles. This can be solved by making the vacuum really good. Most vactrains proposed had really good vacuum pumps to overcome this problem. A fan is much cheaper than a vacuum pump though.

Unfortunately my fluid mechanics is not good enough to spot a flaw in this design if there is one. Still though, this sounds really plausible. We build long pipelines and linear motors all the time too so I bet that even their cost estimate is fairly good.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cambria Collection Drapery Rod

I just wrote an unhappy enough review for a product, that I am not convinced the bed bath and beyond website will actually post it. If it was Amazon, they would post it. Just in case it doesn't post, I am putting it here so that anyone considering a Cambria Collection Drapery Rod will move on. The cheap one from Target was pretty cheap but at least it was built well enough to be installed.
This is a truly awful product.
I had just got done installing another brand curtain. It was a little bit of a pain, but nothing too bad. This one was bad enough that I just gave up and wrote this review.
The real problem comes from two things, poor directions and poor hardware. The directions were so bad that I never got past step 1.
Step 1 "Attach Bracket Piece A to wall with the two wall mounting screws. Use Plastic anchors (included) if necessary"
No suggestions whatsoever as to why you using the plastic anchors would be necessary. Since the last brand curtain I installed included, I did not use them, and it all worked out fine I did not use them. I did know though that if I just followed those directions it would not work. I would need to take a lot of care to make sure that the rod was level and I would need to drill pilot holes for the screws or they would just not go in. These instructions gave no advise for the best way to do either of these steps which occur before step 1.
So I carefully measured out where the holes should go, got a drill bit somewhat smaller than the screws, and drilled holes to the depth the screw would need to go. Then I proceeded to put in the screw using a standard screwdriver. The head of the screw promptly stripped. Just too much torque was required to get the screw to go into the dry wall even with the pilot hole having been drilled. After several minutes of cursing I was able to get the screw into the wall all of the way, but there is no way it is coming out. The top of the screw is destroyed. Had this been a phillips head screw driver I used I would be less than surprised, those seem to strip all of the time. I was using a standard head screwdriver though! There is no way that should have stripped. The instructions should have given me guidance as to how to install that screw such that it actually goes in.
So I decided to drill a larger pilot hole for the second bracket. Same problem. I now have two brackets installed which are never going to be removed, and cannot even be properly tightened. There probably is some size of drill bit which will make this product actually possible to install. However since the instructions don't tell me what to do I am left guessing. I won't figure out the correct way to install this curtain until after I am done installing it.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The internet is for porn

I knew the internet was for porn, but it appears that it has got a bit confused as to the definition of porn. Maybe we will know it when we see it.


Getting Taller

I knew that there was a surge in urban growth going on at the moment. I lacked proper perspective though. Large buildings are coming online much faster than ever before:

Nearly 600 buildings of at least 200 meters—or about 60 stories high—are either under construction or in the planning stages. That would almost double the number that height within the next 10 years. Now only three skyscrapers are above 500 meters, or more than 1,600 feet. By 2020, there are expected to be 20 more.

Friday, August 2, 2013

LEDs are Finally Making Sense

I have long been somewhat skeptical of LED lighting. When I have compared the efficiency of LED lights and CFL lights they seemed to be about the same. It was difficult to justify the higher costs of the LED bulbs.

Having just got a home which was filled up with incandescent bulbs I am finally changing my mind though. There are finally cheap LED bulbs, I just bought about 40 of what appears to be a slightly upgraded version of this bulb. It is 800 lumens for 9.8 Watts.

I have a lot of light bulbs in my home. My best guess is 40 recessed bulbs, and another 40 divided among a bunch of lighting fixtures of one type of another. Were they incandescent it would be a good guess that they are averaging 60 Watts a piece. Turning on all my bulbs would be a total of 4800 watts of power.

Since the LEDs average around 10 watts, instead I am using 800 watts of power if I turn on every single bulb in the house.

Assuming an SCE tier three rate of $0.27 cents per kilowatt hour; running all my bulbs for an hour were they conventional bulbs would be 0.27*4.8 = $1.30. So I would be running up a bill of more than thirty dollars a day were I to turn them all on and leave them on!

Now, with the LED bulbs turning them all on is only 0.27*0.8 = 21 cents an hour. So if I turn on all of my bulbs on all day the cost is $5. Still not a completely insignificant amount of money, but at least I would spend less on lighting than lunch.

A more reasonable look is a single room. It is unusual for me to leave on all my lights, but quite often I will leave on all the lights in one room. My master bathroom has 8 of these LED bulbs, so a total power of 80 watts. If I leave on all those lights for a day that will cost me (24hours per day)*(0.27 $ per kilowatt hour)*(0.08 kilowatt hours per hour) = $0.51 If instead those lights were incandescent bulbs, that lapse of judgement would have cost me $3.11! Looking at those numbers, I just have to leave the bulb on for four days straight before the cost of the LEDs pay for themselves. Why would I ever buy an incandescent bulb?

So what though? Fluorescent bulbs have done this for a long time. Fluorescent bulbs have a lot of problem with flicker, short lifespan if turned on and off a lot, odd colors, difficult disposal and lack of compatibility with dimmers though. LED bulbs seem to have no downsides anymore and quite a few upsides.

Two bulbs I bought did have problems though. One was an odd pink color and another made an odd buzzing sound. It may be another year or two before the good bulbs take over.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Home Developer

Decided to write an extensive review for the home developer I bought from, Planet Home Living. Since so few people do this, I imagine it is an opportunity to influence common practices in the construction of new homes. Now my review will be one of the top few hits on google for the developer so a large percentage of people who buy from them are likely to see it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Best Places To See Wildlife

After spending too much time on Snapshot Serengeti I decided to look up what the best places on earth to see wildlife are. Here is what my google skills suggest to me:

Of course there is Serengeti National Park. Home to a million wildebeest and the predators which eat them.

If any African park can match Serengeti, it will be Kruger National Park. Among other things it is home to nearly half of the world's population of Rhinoceros.

While they probably can't match up to those previous two, Africa is also home to Waza National Park and Etosha National Park.

India has mostly destroyed its wildlife, but remains home to some parks which have maintained some of this biodiversity. Gir Forest National Park is home to all of the remaining wild lions in Asia.

Also in India, Kaziranga National Park is home to the highest concentration of wild tigers in the world, as well as the largest population of Rhinoceros outside Africa.

China seems even more far gone than India. Having long since killed off its Tigers and Rhinoceros opportunities to see native wildlife are limited. However there are still a few places where wild Pandas remain. The two which seem the most promising are Wolong National Nature Reserve and Huanglong.

Europe has also killed off most of its charismatic megafauna. There are still a few remnants remaining though. One such place is Bialowieza Forest which is home to about 600 European Bison.

Australia still has quite a bit of impressive wildlife in a large number of parks. The most impressive seems to be Kakadu National Park.

The Galapagos National Park probably cannot match some of the African parks for big impressive wildlife, but it is still well preserved as islands go.

South America has the problem that it is hard to see the wildlife through the jungle. Still, few parts of the world have more remaining forest. One impressive looking such place is Manu National Park.

Costa Rica has famously preserved a huge amount of jungle. One of the most impressive of such parks I actually came very close to visiting. Corcovado National Park has a reputation of being world class, and is not all that expensive to visit North America.


Of course, North America invented the National Park. So we really can compete in this arena. The best I have actually been to is Yellowstone National Park. Nowhere else have I seen so many large animals in a small area.

If anywhere can compete with Yellowstone, it is Alaska. I went on a winter train ride near Denali National Park. It is now high on my list of places to go in the summer. There are some places in Alaska so inaccessible that they must be even more impressive though. Katmai National Park is a very good example of this. No roads into it, and the largest protected brown bear population in the world.

Now that I figured out that list, all I need is a few months off work and a few hundred thousand dollars for plane tickets.