Monthly Archives: April 2011

Playing with Google Maps

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the rising gas prices, and decided that I need to do more biking and taking public transit. The unfortunate thing about where I live in Fort Wayne is that I’m not on any of the bus routes. I’d literally have to drive to get to one. (None of the roads near me are safe enough, in my opinion, to ride on to get to a bus route. If I HAD to I could but I’d really prefer not to.) However, I’m fine with parking and riding, especially since several of the routes converge on the Walmart near my house. I could park there and catch the bus to where I needed to go. It’d be especially awesome if I needed to go several places in one day, running errands, etc. An all day pass is only 3 bucks, which is cheaper than a gallon of gas by quite a bit.

So with that plan in mind, I tried to figure out the routes so that I could plan a trip. Unfortunately, Citilink, our public transit system, isn’t very modern-tech friendly. They’ve not fed their route data to Google yet, so you can’t use Google Maps to automagically figure out which buses to take to get around. (A video demoing this is here.) I was also disappointed to see that their timetables didn’t have a very appealing visual look. It was hard to decipher exactly what the bus was doing along the route from their map, and I’m very good at reading maps. It’d be so much nicer if they had a Google map available for each route.

Then I realized that I can do this myself, if I was so motivated. And, just to play around and see, I came up with this:

View Citilink Route 1 – Waynedale Via Broadway in a larger map

Pretty nifty eh? Though I’m not entirely sure if it’s accurate in the Waynedale area. That bit of their map was confusing. I wonder if I could present this to Citilink and get a summer internship of some sort there doing this. It’d be even more awesome to prepare the full set of timetable data for inclusion so that people can use Google Maps to plan their trips automagically…

Yes, I am a nerd. But hey, I’m going to email Citilink and see if I can at least gouge them into doing it themselves. It’d make things so much easier.

“Sorry we closed…”

I just rediscovered this picture that my cousin took while we were in Toledo, Ohio a while back. It amuses me still:

"Sorry We Closed We Out of Meet"

Generational Servants

Today, my grandma came up to me to show me an opinion column from the local paper entitled “How many businesses today serve generations of the same family?” The woman who wrote the article was (no offense intended) older, so I wondered if it was going to be another one of those “Hey You Kids, Get off My Lawn!” type columns. On the contrary, it was rather interesting. The reason grandma showed it to me, specifically, was that the writer opened the story talking about her hairdresser, Kathy. Kathy has cut hair for as long as I can remember; my grandma used to take me to her, starting around age four or five. Maybe even earlier.

The writer brought out that Kathy does up to four generations of the same family: grandmother, mother, daughter, great-granddaughter. She asks:

Four generations Kathy has cared for. Products have changed; permanents no longer take hours or smell awful; one can be a natural-looking blond. Once upon a time she teased hair for a bouffant look; another few years went by and women wanted sleek, sophisticated “dos.” And she seems to love it. How many occupations do you know where one deals with two or more generations? And how many businesses are there these days run by generations of the same family?

It’s an interesting question. When businesses were primarily family-run, as she brings out, this was somewhat common. Now? Not so much. But is this a good thing? A bad thing? Or does it fall somewhere in between?

Personally, I stopped going to Kathy because of my schedule. She wasn’t available, for the most part, when I was. I needed to get haircuts in the evening after work, and another friend who works at Great Clips was available when Kathy wasn’t. But I do miss going there. Kathy knows my immediate family well, as well as some other relatives who go to her. There was a bond there. My brother even invited her and her husband to his wedding. Thinking about all this makes me almost sad that I stopped going. I think I may have to start going back this summer when I’m off during the days and she’s available…

The general trend away from these types of “generational servants” is, overall, a bad thing in my opinion. We don’t have very many close personal relationships, period, anymore. Everything is done so remotely now. Sure, it’s more efficient, but those bonds aren’t there. I don’t know about everyone else, but to me, physically seeing the friendly face of a close friend is a heckuva lot more meaningful than reading a “status update” from them on occasion. And without those bonds at regular places of business, everything that we do is becoming more and more impersonal…

Sometimes, I think I might be able to jump on the “Get off My Lawn!” bandwagon.

Around the Internet: Friday!

In case you haven’t heard, a teenager named Rebecca Black made a song about what used to be the best day of the week: Friday. Unfortunately, since her song has been released, Friday has been irreparably damaged in the minds of many. The lyrics, if you can call them that, are repetitive and painful. For instance:

Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday

Today it is Friday, Friday (Partyin!)

Tomorrow is Saturday

and Sunday comes afterwards

Yes. That’s poetry, right there. At any rate, if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to at least sit through it once to understand how bad it really is: Rebecca Black – Friday. More on the fallout at Know Your Meme.

Some good has come of it, though. Stephen Colbert appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s show and sang the song to raise money for Donor’s Choose. The video was awesome, IMHO, and definitely worth a look.

Anyhow, it’s Friday! Time for some fun fun fun–ARGH!

Around the Internet: That can be my next tweet!

So I have a twitter account, though I barely use it anymore. However, all my old tweets are still on there, obviously. Tonight, someone linked me to this: That can be my next tweet. Hilarious! Input a user name, and it generates probable things that you may tweet based on your existing tweets. For me, many of them seem to come out as pure nonsense. But some are funny. A few examples:

Trader Joes Orange Chicken = HUZZAH! Just found there. They’ve had to sit on the Sun by what’s with?

Woo! Groupon just reinforces my characters speak perfect prose, thank you know that way, so…

A Friday night, and the site isn’t working again. Fourth time at least… Working a word?

Heh, fun isn’t working on the Coffee Shop – Since the probably) drunk guys across the bus I could keep!

Not all later! Just discovered Amazon’s Subscribe and working on or another, and finished my internet at.

At the local grocery. Yay for lunch tomorrow: RT: Bloggers: PLEASE get caught up with Stephen Hawking.

Was freaking amazing book in on doing one having problems in favor of the showing.

Marked as the first nine chapters are incompetent. Your 1-800 never redirects me, and sunrise times in.

Put in my user name (@strangefuture) if you’d like and see what you come up with! For fun, I also put in Stephen Colbert’s handle (@StephenAtHome) and came up with these, to name a few:

Jon Kyl has a pig’s mouth constantly mention my challenge to the Arizona legalizes handguns on my hair?

During the full spectrum of the light of me suggest a credit to gossip wherever they get more seconds, I?

Happy 16th anniversary of our gut-brains will free up to kill time before people want to utter the?

Orange you forever. Let’s make it all. Especially since I don’t fall asleep during the Union was bad!

Is it sad that I understand most of the more nonsensical Stephen Colbert generated tweets? He references his show a lot, and I watch it pretty regularly…

Anyhow. Pretty nifty, fun little toy. Find your favorite celebrity’s profile and give it a shot!

One Summit Square

A view from ground level looking up.

Downtown Fort Wayne isn’t exactly very big, but to me, that’s part of its appeal. The fact that I can get from my house on the south side (near US-27 and I-469) to the heart of downtown in 15-20 minutes has always been a plus from my point of view. One of my dreams has always been to move downtown, somewhere in West Central. From there, I’d be within walking distance of pretty much everything, and right on the Rivergreenway to boot.

Despite all the historic and very cool architecture downtown, one of the buildings that has always appealed to me in a weird way is One Summit Square. It’s not that I particularly LIKE it, but it stands out in more way than one. It’s the tallest building in Fort Wayne and the fourth tallest in the state. That alone is enough to make it stand out. On top of that, it just doesn’t seem to “fit in” to the skyline at all. On Skyscraper Page, the site I found my banner image on, several people commented that it “just doesn’t look real”.

PNC Bank and One Summit Square

Picture of the PNC Bank Building and One Summit Square rising over the Ewing Street Bridge.

The photographer (Robert Pence) explains why:

“I agree that it seems completely out of context and out of scale in its setting, because there are few mid-rise buildings downtown and none close enough to ease the transition.”

He then links to a photo essay he wrote about One Summit Square, from its construction till now. It’s really neat, and worth a look. I didn’t know about the accident during construction with the crane. I also didn’t know about the plans to have it be a mirrored skyscraper:

“The initial proposal and renderings showed a gleaming tower cladded with mirrored tiles, but construction delays put the owner in a bind to meet occupancy dates in time to keep the mortgage rate locked in. Or at least that was the reason given to the public. The mirrored tiles went by the wayside. When initially completed its surfaces were raw concrete. Because of leakage problems the concrete was sealed with a gray stucco-like material in the 1990s.”

One Summit Square behind the Lincoln Bank Tower.

Very interesting. I kind of wish they would’ve followed through with the mirrored tiles… As it stands, gray stucco and orange brick looks pretty drab. The other issue I have with it is how you can’t get a good picture of the Lincoln Bank Tower anymore. As you can see on the left, it’s almost impossible to get a good shot of the old building. Of course, my shot isn’t all that good to begin with because of the lighting, but still.

I’ve never been up in One Summit Square either. I should look into whether or not you can go up. I’d love to get some pictures from the top, looking over the city. Maybe someday…

LOL and OMG Now Words

Please welcome the English language’s two newest words … according to the Oxford English Dictionary, anyhow:

Love it or loathe it, “lol” is now a legitimate word in our lexicon, says Graeme Diamond, the OED’s principal editor for new words.

“The word is common, widespread, and people understand it,” he explains.

The word serves a real purpose – it conveys tone in text, something that even the most cynical critics accept.

On a side note, I like how the article interviews Ben Huh, the creator of the Cheezburger Network

So what is the definition of lol, exactly?

LOL (ɛləʊˈɛl/lɒl) colloq.

A. int. Originally and chiefly in the language of electronic communications: ‘ha ha!'; used to draw attention to a joke or humorous statement, or to express amusement.

B. n. An instance of the written interjection ‘LOL’.

I’m kind of torn on this. On the one hand, I don’t like silly things like this entering the English language–at least officially. On the other hand, I know that the English language constantly evolves and changes. (Richard Lederer’s book The Miracle of Language is a great starting point if you’re at all interested in this. There are plenty of deep, very scholarly works on the subject, but for everyone else, his book is a great, light way of getting some exposure to the topic.) There’s not much point fighting something like this; it seems like the addition was inevitable. Personally, I will even use it in conversation. Usually, though, I’m being facetious when I do use it.

I don’t know… I guess I have a love-hate relationship with “lol” itself, let alone the idea of it being in a dictionary…

Bill Cosby at the Embassy

I had the pleasure of seeing Bill Cosby when he came to Fort Wayne a couple of weeks ago at the Embassy Theatre. I’ve driven and walked past the Embassy for years and years, but had never gone for any event. When I heard Bill Cosby was coming, though, I decided I had to go. I grew up listening to Bill Cosby albums that my parents had purchased before my time. And these were vinyl albums I’m talking about, not CDs. (We also had an 8-track player, but that’s a different story for a different time.) I still think that My Father Confused Me is my favorite; although To My Brother Russell is a close second.

Anyhow… So I had the money and decided to treat my parents and another couple of friends to the show. My brother and his wife came along as well. It was a great time, overall. I was very pleased to see that his comedy was still as funny as ever, and he had plenty of fresh material. I was slightly worried that it would be a lot of the same old jokes, rehashed and reused, but it wasn’t, fortunately. It was also nice to get to see the theatre from the inside. It’s a really, REALLY nice building. I’m glad it was saved back in the 1970s from the wrecking ball. Anyhow, here are some pictures of the event:

I’m looking forward to going back for Monty Python’s Spamalot in May.

Sometimes the Kids Make Sense

Most days at work are eventful–one way or another. Yesterday, we were cracking up in the morning because of this little incident. First, a bit of background… Student 1 is obsessed with anything stretchy or string like. He loves to get rubber bands and play with them, for instance. Student 2 is usually pretty tuned out and doesn’t talk to us a whole lot. Usually he is in his own world and will only ask us for things he wants when he needs help. So when this little incident went down, it was hilarious to discover that perhaps Student 2 is a bit more in tune than we suspected.

We’d just entered the classroom that morning. Student 1 immediately makes a beeline around the room, searching for anything to play with. Student 2 dashes to a rocking chair and starts rocking, giggling occasionally. Student 1, meanwhile, finds something: A balloon that had been blown up for gym the day before. He grabs it, pulls, and it pops. Some of the kids jump; one of them even yells at Student 1 from across the room. But everyone gets back to work. Then, about 15 seconds later, out of nowhere:

Student 2: “Bye bye balloon!”

It may seem insignificant, but we all laughed.