Tuesday, March 24, 2015

More Harassing Community Leaders.

Another letter to planning and city council about the new development on La Habra Boulevard:

                The City Ventures development is exactly the sort of project La Habra needs so that it can finally create a decent downtown.  However, I have beaten that issue to death with my previous two letters to planning.  With this one I want to address why parking concerns should not reduce the scale of the development and how the city should handle the inevitable parking problems which will happen if La Habra Boulevard becomes a success.
                Parking problems are a sign of a healthy downtown. If few people want to be in the downtown, there will not be parking problems. However, as soon as La Habra has a healthy downtown it will attract large numbers of people who will fill available parking. The knee jerk reaction is to create more surface parking lots. This is a huge mistake; surface lots are ugly, make an area less walkable, and are very low productivity uses of the land; thus they bring very little value to the city. Successful downtowns instead handle parking concerns with some combination of the following:
                As long as parking is free, it gets over-used. No matter how much free parking is built, it is likely to not be enough. For this reason, successful downtowns need to construct paid parking at some point. Parking meters, or parking permits, free up parking for actual customers while at the same time raising significant money which the city can use to improve the area. For wonderful examples of parking fees helping improve downtowns see nearby cities such as Pasadena.
                Parking garages are much more efficient uses for land than surface parking so they should also be considered. These should not be built in advance of demand, but once the on street parking is always full the city should look into constructing some. For good examples see downtown Brea and Fullerton as well as uptown Whittier.  
                Angled parking should also be considered along La Habra Boulevard as a way to improve the pedestrian environment and provide additional parking. Many great downtowns follow this model. For a good example of a nearby city removing lanes to create angled parking, see Pioneer Boulevard in Artesia. That city just approved removal of two lanes on Pioneer Boulevard to install angled parking.
                Finally, if the area gets too popular to possibly supply parking, alternatives to cars should be implemented. Improved bus service and additional bike lanes allow people to enjoy an area even if there is absolutely no parking available. In particular, protected bike lanes behind angled parking would be a wonderful addition to La Habra Boulevard.
                In the immediate future, La Habra needs to worry first about making La Habra Boulevard somewhere that people actually want to be. A great start is construction of high density residential projects like this one which bring customers within walking distance of empty storefronts, bringing them back to life. There is no justification for scaling back development because of parking concerns, once those problems manifest they can easily be addressed using whichever method the city prefers.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Unfair Camera Comparison

I now have in my possession three reasonably good cameras. These are the Gopro Hero 4 Black, the Sony HX400V, and the iPhone 5S. These are completely different cameras, with completely different uses. The iPhone is great because I always have it with me, the HX400V is great because it has amazing zoom capabilities, and the Gopro is great for taking places where no other camera its price can go.

So I am making an unfair comparison of the three. I tried to take the best photo I could of several scenes with them:

First, the fairest comparison I will make. This is some flowers a few feet away from the camera:

iPhone 5s:

Sony HX400V

Gopro Hero 4 Black:

For this shot, they all performed acceptably. Had I spent enough time, any of the three could have done a nice job. The colors were a lot better in the HX400V though.

Next to a couple Macro shots:

iPhone 5S:

Sony HX400V:

Gopro Hero 4 Black :

When looking just at the bug, I am not sure the iPhone didn't do better at that shot. However the overall photo once again is nicer on the HX400V. One thing is clear though, the Gopro can't do macro shots. This theme is repeated in the next two macro attempts

iPhone 5S:

Sony HX400V:

Gopro Hero 4 Black :

iPhone 5S:

Sony HX400V:

Gopro Hero 4 Black :

This was an unscientific comparison. I count the hits, and ignore the misses. The Sony HX400V missed a lot more shots entirely than the iPhone. The ease of changing focus was just so much easier on the iPhone. However, when the focus is right, the HX400V blows the iPhone out of the water.

Now for a slightly more fair comparison, a picture of something farther away, but not zoomed in on.

iPhone 5S:

Sony HX400V:

Gopro Hero 4 Black :

Here, they all performed acceptably. What if I just cared about the palm tree though? That is what the HX400V is all about:



That was without a tripod! It doesn't always match the above series, but the image stabilization on the HX400V is fantastic.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

1940 Census

Looking at a giant family tree on Geni.com that I didn't really trust, made me think about what documents actually exist to confirm the family tree. Birth certificates quickly looked like more trouble than they are worth. The first person I looked into was born in Oklahoma in 1902, which turns out to be before birth certificates were typically issued in that state.

I did run into the 1940 census though. While a nightmare to navigate, that census is freely available online. It doesn't have a whole lot of information, but it does have enough to confirm many basic details.




Sunday, March 8, 2015

Back to Laguna

I returned to Laguna Beach with my Hero 4 Black, there was only 10-15 foot visibility but the Gopro isn't very good at pictures farther than five feet anyway so visibility was enough.

The Gopro is maddening. It takes so many great pictures, but takes twenty awful pictures for every good one. The strong lesson is that I need to stay absolutely still for at least ten seconds with the camera pointed at what I want a photo of. This has turned out to not be so easy when the surf is battering you back and forth and you would really like to return to the surface so you can breath. Also, the camera takes its best pictures when it is 1-2 feet from a fish. Farther than that and the fish is tiny, closer than that and the camera cannot focus so the picture is blurry.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

12th great.

Well, it would take me months, if not years, to confirm every step. I found a plausible path for my family name back to the mid fifteen hundreds though.

Henry Emmett Rorabaugh, 1901, Oklahoma
John William Rorabaugh, 1874, Iowa
Fourth Great: John Mitchell Rorabaugh, 1837, West Virginia
Fifth Great: Nathan Rorabaugh, 1811, Virginia
Sixth Great: John Rorabaugh, 1768, Virginia
Seventh Great: Johann Rohrbough, 1740 Germany
Eighth great: Johann Rohrbach, 1699 Germany
Ninth Great: Johann Rohrbach, 1668 Germany
Tenth Great: Johann Rohrbach, 1648 Germany
Eleventh Great: Johann Rohrbach, 1610, Germany
Twelfth Great: Claus Rohrbach, 1565, Germany

This entire tree was produced by other people. I have looked at absolutely no primary documents to confirm any of it. All I did was put in a few generations out of an old family book, until I found a way to merge with the world family tree.

If I had to guess, the parts in America are substantially correct. The five Johann's in a row in Germany seem a bit suspicious. Not speaking German, I doubt that could be easily confirmed though.