Saturday, April 26, 2014

Regional Connector

I took a metrolink train from El Monte to Downtown L.A. for the first time today. It definitely reinforced a lot of my perception that the trains here go from nowhere to nowhere.

The El Monte station was little more than a parking lot next to a train track. It looked like there was a three story apartment building down the street and a couple blocks away there was a bunch of run down shops. Still though, that was El Monte so I didn't expect much.

Then I got to Union Station. My plan was to try to walk to see some of the new construction sites such as the Wilshire Grand Tower. I figured that the train would take me somewhere central. When I got out, I found myself at the very edge of downtown. There seems to be very little of interest actually within a half mile walk of Union Station.

That experience makes me understand why the new Regional Connector subway is so important. Most of the rail going into downtown doesn't actually go to a central location. The only exceptions I see on this map seem to be the purple and red subway lines.

That is where the regional connector comes in. The Gold, Blue, and Expo lines will have three new stations downtown. Not only that, it will be convenient to go from Long Beach all the way to Pasadena helping increase the number of destinations easily available to someone who takes the train.

Still though, a much better solution would be transit oriented development. If train stations go from nowhere to nowhere the obvious solution is to build things right next to stations. A hundred 6+ story mixed use buildings within a half mile of stations is the easiest way to transform the rail into something actually useful.

Monday, April 21, 2014

More native plants

I posted another batch of plant pictures to the gardening subreddit.I limited it to plants from a single seed packet of shade friendly plants I bought from Larner Seeds.

SpaceX seems to be doing it

I rather misunderstood what SpaceX planned to do with the first stage of its rocket. I got that they planned to land it, but I pictured something much more like the space shuttle where they would land it like an aircraft. What they are actually doing is a whole heck of a lot more impressive:

They are really quite close to making this happen. On the launch to the space shuttle they had the first stage land much like in the video, except in the water. Within the year it is reasonable to expect they will be setting down the rocket on land. Since that first stage is such a high percentage of the cost that will result in an amazing price savings.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Worms are attacking

After all the propaganda I have heard in my life about how good earthworms are for soil, I somehow always assumed it was right.

This is apparently only true if you live in Europe. European earthworm species are apparently really a problem for forests in North America.

Plants Everywhere

They say that when you learn a new word, you see it everywhere and wonder how you could not have known that.This month has been that way, but with plants.

I was looking for good butterfly plants, so one of the plants I got was California buckwheat

After I bought the buckwheat, I noticed a bunch of plants along the freeway which looked like it. I stopped to investigate and sure enough it was. I have been passing at least two varieties of buckwheat on my commute but never knowing what they were.

Then I bought some deerweed seeds. A weed later I drove from Rialto to Victorville. There are hundreds of deerweed plants along the road there. I am even pretty sure I found one on my commute home from work. I must have seen them thousands of times, but never paid any attention to them. Unlike the buckwheat this doesn't seem surprising. deerweed blends in with mustard because they both have small yellow flowers.