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.