Temples enshrine the psychedelic era…and more

Temples_-_Sun_Structures - wiki

“Sun Structures” – Source: en.wikipedia.org

I discovered Temples listening to Impact 89fm – Michigan State University’s student radio station when they played the richly 1960’esque “Shelter Song.” As the first track on their debut full-length album, Sun Structures, the song aptly introduces Temples and a whole new generation to the amazing guitar riffs and rhythms of great bands like The Byrds, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, early Led Zeppelin, the Moody Blues, and even in one song reminiscent of Heart. While this may sound like sincere flattery and a case of imitation, Sun Structures is also refreshing in its own right – for one it’s a hell of a lot better than most music being released today. It also exudes mesmerizing guitars.  Some may claim guitar rock is dying and/or dead – it sure isn’t when you listen to this album!

The great classic psychedelic rock sounds emanating from Sun Structures evoke memories of songs we Baby Boomers cut our teeth on and is far more enjoyable to listen to than the bass-thumping headaches of rap, the bubble gum schlock of modern pop, or the overtly corporatize and partisan blather of most modern country music.

For a band that formed just two years ago, Temples are a polished, poised, and immensely talented foursome from Kettering, England. So much so, that in 2014 they have already played SXSW, Coachella, and Glastonbury, with Lollapalooza next on their plate.

Sun Structures is my favorite new album to date in 2014 (Beck a close second). It contains 12 songs spread over 53 minutes – a welcome length compared to so many recorded sprint sessions. Of the dozen formidable tracks, my favorites include:

  • “Shelter Song”
  • “Keep in the Dark”
  • “Sun Structures”
  • “Mesmerise”
  • “A Question Isn’t Answered”
  • “Move with the Season” – a guitar riff eerily similar to “Love Alive” by Heart
  • “The Golden Throne”
  • “Sand Dance” – reminds me of Kashmir by Led Zeppelin
Who's Next - Source: en.wkipedia.org

“Who’s next” – Source: en.wkipedia.org

Lastly, I have got to say something about the album cover. Not only is it an uncanny reminder of Who’s next, but it is one of the coolest covers I have ever seen from an architectural and historical standpoint. According to the band’s interview on KEXP radio, Rushton’s Triangular Lodge, shown on the cover, is an historic structure built in 1593. Wow! – the building alone is worth a visit for architectural and historical junkies. Given its placement on this debut album, its place in British history has been secured for many centuries to come.

Beware of the weekend sign gremlins

Even notice how a plethora of yard signs suddenly pop-up like dandelions at street intersections on Friday evenings, only to disappear by Monday morning? Those are the result of gremlins putting up signs when they know full well that building or zoning enforcement offices are closed over weekends.

Source: everywheresignsusa.com

Source: everywheresignsusa.com

The same often holds true for portable signs, a-frame signs, banners, flags, streamers, and other sorts of gaudy advertising. Fortunately, when Monday morning rolls around these signs have slithered back into the dark recesses, only for the whole process to repeat itself the following Friday.

Unfortunately, while they are in place, these often illegal signs are quite unsightly and can be a danger to visibility at intersections if improper placed or over-sized.

Short of having enforcement officers working overtime on weekends, policing such activities isn’t an easy task. Perhaps a good civics lesson is one option, but it is doubtful that will have a major impact in the long haul. The legal process may have a far greater impact, if those injured in accidents as a result of visibility constraints from these illegal signs were to take the gremlins and/or the firms who advertise on the signs to court. Not the most efficient way to regulate bad behavior, when all it may lead to is the signs being moved away from street corners.

Any other ideas/suggestions on how to handle the weekend sign gremlins would be welcome.

Utility infrastructure does not have to be ugly

This electrical substation in suburban Chicago (Elk Grove Village) is an excellent example of how, with a little effort, utility infrastructure can be designed to be aesthetically pleasing and blend well with its surroundings. Well done!

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DC’s stunning Chinatown friendship gate

0601140956One of my favorite activities while traveling is to make an effort to see the Chinatown friendship gates in cities that I visit. Among those I have personally observed are the friendship gates in Boston, Chicago, Sacramento, and San Francisco. From a human scale, Boston’s is hard to beat and San Francisco’s is certainly iconic, but the gate in Washington, DC’s Chinatown (just east of the intersection of H & 7th Streets) is simply stunning for its overall beauty, size, and artistic intricacy.

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Walking out of the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro Station, the friendship gate immediately captures your attention and holds it tight. It is quite an impressive visual treat. Next time you happen to be visiting our Nation’s capital, hop on the Metro and stop to take a look at the city’s Chinatown friendship gate – it’s worth the trip! Cheers!

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What’s not to like???

A great editorial cartoon found on Facebook. It makes that obvious point that even if climate change is somehow an incorrect thesis, making the world a better place for all of us is still a great benefit to humanity, the environment, and Mother Earth. What’s not to like about that?

Source: facebook.com

Source: Joel Pett/USA Today via facebook.com

Going sky-high and energy wise in Jakarta

Source: asce.org

Source: asce.org

The impressive 99 story Pertamina Tower in Jakarta, Indonesia will not only be super tall at 530 meters (or 1,744 feet) when it is completed in 2020, but it is designed to be a net-zero energy user. Wind turbines in the V-shaped pistachio-shaped void between the building facades at the top quarter of the tower will supply energy to the skyscraper.

 

 

 

 

Where dogs go postal

wpid-angry-dog.jpg

Source: businessinsider.com

Here’s the 2014 list of the cities with the most postal carrier dog bites. Initially, it appears that Houston sits atop the list as the bad doggy capital of America. But, when the numbers provided below are calculated in terms of the overall urbanized area, the results are quite different:

  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Van Nuys-Santa Ana combine for a total of 107 dog bites
  • Bay Area (San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose-Richmond) = 79
  • Dallas-Fort Worth = 71
  • Baltimore-Washington = 63
  • Denver-Aurora = 53

This leaves Houston’s total of 63 in a tie for fourth place – not great, but better than being the top dog (I know, bad pun).

While at first blush it may appear that New York City is nearly devoid of postal carrier dog bites, both Brooklyn and Flushing make the list, which are parts of the city. As a result, NYC’s total is at least 32. Either way you look at the numbers, the data is interesting and clearly shows there is a danger to postal carriers.

All kidding aside, please do your mail delivery person and anyone else who may happen visit your property a favor and keep your dog properly controlled and secured at all times. Children and the elderly would be especially vulnerable and no one wants to learn of a tragedy that could have been prevented.

The dark side of bright lights

Fascinating and useful data on the effects of light pollution on the environment is provided in this poster. Is your city one of the top 10 brightest cities in the world? In this particular case, “brightest” is definitely NOT a synonym for “smart.”

Celebrate the “love of bicycling” in May

Source: bikeleague.org

Source: bikeleague.org

There are many bicycling events coming up in the Month of May, as it is National Bike Month here in the United States. These include:

In addition, there are many state and local activities each week throughout the month. One of the most important here in Michigan is the Lucinda Means Advocacy Day at the State Capitol on Wednesday, May 21st.

I have personally participated in three of the national events listed above and have found them very rewarding. In particular, the Ride of Silence is one of the most emotional and solemn activities one could ever participate in. We must never forget that May is the time to honor those cyclists who have been killed or injured in accidents with motor vehicles.

If you are an avid cyclist, bicycle commuter, recreational cyclist, cycling advocate, or just like to putz around the neighborhood on your bike, May is the certainly month to celebrate the love of bicycling.

Leading “Tree Campus USA” states

Source: unl.edu

Source: unl.edu

In honour of Arbor Day 2014 (tomorrow, Friday, April 25th), I thought it would be interesting to highlight the Tree Campus USA program conducted by the Arbor Day Foundation. Started in 2008 and similar to Tree City USA, this program recognizes those collegiate campuses who protect, maintain, and grow their tree infrastructure. The University of Michigan was the first designated Tree Campus in the United States. Six years later, more than 190 schools participate in this worthwhile program.

There are five standards required for being designated a Tree Campus:

  1. Campus Tree Advisory Committee
  2. Campus Tree Care Plan
  3. Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures
  4. Arbor Day Observance
  5. Service Learning Project

The list below shows the states with at least four college campuses participating in the program. Congratulations to Illinois, New York, Ohio for leading the pack. Sadly, while home to the first university to be designated as a Tree Campus, Michigan only has three participating schools – Calvin College, University of Michigan, and Western Michigan University.

  • Illinois = 14
  • New York = 13
  • Ohio =11
  • Georgia = 9
  • Pennsylvania = 9
  • Texas = 9
  • Florida = 8
  • Indiana = 8
  • California = 7
  • Nebraska = 7
  • Minnesota = 6
  • North Carolina = 6
  • Oklahoma = 6
  • South Carolina = 6
  • Iowa = 5
  • Kentucky =5
  • Louisiana = 5
  • Missouri = 5
  • Colorado = 4
  • Washington = 4
  • Wisconsin = 4

Source: www.arborday.org