Friday, October 19, 2012

Marooned in Northgate

Live from the Taco Bell parking lot!

So I was at lab at Texas A&M University. I had low hopes--I was failing and preparing to drop the class. So, after half-paying attention, there was a message on the intercom to evacuate campus immediately on foot. With my bike and car stuck in a university locked down, I had little choice of what do to.

So I did what any other 21+ student would do in a time like this: hit the bars! It was a Friday, no classes until Monday, and I had easy access to it. Of course, at the best-known watering hole, I ended up ordering an iced water (I was thirsty) but ended up getting a beer at another bar (although ended up consuming about 8 ounces of it). By the time I had eaten something (fried bacon at the "Daily Ruckus", which was disappointing) the novelty had worn off. I could probably get picked up, but then I would have no way to get my bike or car back...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

America's Top Rated Cities

Glancing through another book at the college library (this time West Campus Library) and it was on "America's Top Cities", Volume One (the South), and published in 2008 (before the recession, before the current President), and it is fascinating, because it tends to open up what makes cities great. Not just these abstract "Best Places to Raise a Family", which I've (poorly) deconstructed on Two Way Roads once (and never again, because it was horrible), but real reasons.

The book selects a number of these for the South: including Orlando, Miami, San Antonio, Charleston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and many more. Most of them were large cities, but not all the largest cities made the list. Disappointing in many ways, it starts a profile of a city by its brief history, a list of achievements (positive or negative--Knoxville made "#1 Asthma Capital", then how much it spent on various services, which is inaccurate usually because if it comes from an outside source somehow, it says "0". From looking at the stats it gives, Knoxville doesn't spend a penny on libraries, but the money comes from somewhere--it just doesn't report it. Then it has socioeconomic statuses (race, religion, unemployment, employment types), but then it gets into more interesting things, like average wages. One would hope that the "top cities" isn't based on wages: usually one with higher wages has a higher cost of living. It talks about other things, too, including what highways a city has, whether it has Amtrak service, the major business headquarters, cost of living (to balance with the wages, I suppose), major employers, and all the radio stations. Another interesting statistic was the time it takes to travel to work. Altogether, it was a disappointment--the book just aggregated the skewed statistics found on Internet sites and then added stats. Ah well...