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Archive for May, 2009

Now this is the kind of newspaper article I can roll with!   “Happiness-can-be-very-contagious”

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Today I had a conversation with my best friend that was a clone of so many of our conversations.  I wanted to do something I’ve been waiting to do and the prominent words in his response were ‘soon’ and ‘possibly’, which in his speak means my intentions are good but don’t hold your breathe because it won’t be happening in your immediate future.  Frame of reference – my ‘soon’ means okay let’s do it now or at least by tomorrow and his ‘soon’ – as far as I can tell to date – means sometime before we die.

I said, “Now.  Live now and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow”.
I told him, “now don’t you think that is a much better philosophy to live by”.  He looked thoughtful, but we still didn’t do what I wanted to do – Now.  And later when I thought about it I realized how perfect.  If you live now and save worrying for tomorrow, well … technically tomorrow never gets here so that means you never have to get around to worrying and how wonderful would that life be?

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get him to see that yet … but soon…!

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“Each choice in life is an evolution, not a perfect end”.

My world is a simple one. It’s invitation only. This weblog is an invitation I have only recently sent out to invite people into what has heretofore been a very private world – despite the very public presence I have had at times when shooting on assignment for the New York Times and other periodicals.

After fifteen years of shooting for newspapers, I still don’t really read them. The news (they choose) is for the most part too bleak. I prefer features. Great ideas. Joyful people. Quirky moments. Fun.

I try to avert my eyes (and thoughts) from every tenth article with the gloom and doom forecast of an economy that just won’t bounce back … and more personally the many shutterings and layoffs in the print world. I wait and wonder along with my friends to see what form the “phoenix” will take that must at some point rise from the ashes of the publishing industry.

But tucked in amongst the bleakness is some optimism – articles which all seem to have the word green in the tags. Lots of ideas, many of them recycled, all of them worthy.

This world is about choice. It’s about the freedom to choose what works for each of us. So this is a choice I want to present. It’s an idea I came up with more than fifteen years ago. A little expensive. Billions…. But those billions would go into the pockets of many people who could use the work right now and in the process create a simple efficient elegant green solution.

You don’t have to agree with my idea, but spread it around. Even if my idea generates more ideas, it has achieved something good. And I don’t in any way want to take away the joy some derive from driving things that guzzle large quantities of gas, or diesel fuel. My best friend enjoys those things and so do I. I would like to create more of those things that could run on biodiesel, but that’s another topic ….

I had this idea before a lot of the technology was prevalent. It existed then, but now it is in widespread use making it much easier to implement and much easier for people to imagine.

I resurrected the idea one day when I was driving along 95 in traffic thinking of what would alleviate the occasional parking lot effect on the I95 corridor. My old idea popped into my head. In it’s current version it would mean leasing (or buying?) the air rights over the I95 corridor from Washington DC to Boston. I know in CT the ability to widen the interstate is limited because the government doesn’t own enough land and the land prices around here are much too high for it to be practical to purchase enough to substantially widen what is the major artery into New England.

The concept is an elevated electric monorail system running the length of the highway – DC to Boston and it could of course be implemented in other densely populated areas. It would be set up, not for a train, but for individual electric cars designed specifically to be able to drive up onto the monorail system and also with plenty of power for driving on the roads;  cars which could be completely electric or a hybrid version (creating a new branch of our automotive industry). The monorail system would be run by computer. Each car would be charged for the electric pulled from the system (instead of gas) and billed automatically. It would be scanned as the car drove onto the system – sort of like an EZ pass. And the entire system run by computer – would space the cars and set the travel speeds based on traffic loads.

As the driver was leaving the house they would be able to key in their destination and get estimated arrival time. When on the system they would be notified by an alarm when they were close to their destination to be prepared for leaving and taking back control of the car. While driving on the monorail the computer would be running it and the driver would be able to read the paper, work on their computer, talk on their phone, conduct whatever business they want, or nap. It would be like having a personal rail car. And at some point “way stations” with food and restrooms could even be built along the system for those traveling longer distances. It would also be a safer way to travel during snow and heavy rain storms.

It would be preferable if the electric for the system could come from one of the greener sources like wind and solar, but not mandatory at the outset. Each choice in life is an evolution, not a perfect end.

It would build a new branch of an old industry – preferably locally to each of the systems – for the design and manufacture of the cars. I know CT could use that kind of manufacturing here. The cars could be entirely electric or some kind of hybrid. And I think it will be possible soon for them to function with some kind of PV membrane efficient enough to help to power them and keep them charged.  When I first came up with the idea years ago, I was responding to the then issues with electric cars; of power (horsepower) and the necessity of recharging after a limited range.  The solution was simple – just make an electric ‘road’ and get the juice (both kinds) from the road.

Obviously only those who could afford the additional car could use the system, but it would still be a win-win situation because it would make it easier for all those still driving the paved version of I95. Traffic would be lighter on the paved version of I95.

And as it proved functional this could be implemented in other congested metropolitan areas. I imagine people just traveling in the area would even start renting them. Can you imagine going to the local rental office in NYC and renting one for the weekend to get out of the city easily – go up to the Cape for a restful few days with the ease of taking the train, but having your car with you. You would get off the monorail system at Providence and proceed out to the Cape as a regular car. Then coming home instead of having to stay alert in heavy traffic, you could drive your rented car back on the monorail system and set the destination for your location in NY and however many hours later (depending on traffic) it could wake you up, or you could stop reading your book, or working on your computer, or watching TV, or your movie.

With the computer network controlling the speed and spacing of the vehicles, the movement of the cars would actually be more efficient, letting you arrive at your destination sooner than you would with a comparable number of cars on a regular road.

I sent this idea off to someone in the government when I first had it – and of course it was completely ignored. It would take billions, although as long as it is done properly I don’t see that much risk. Anyone in CT dependent on 95 for getting to work, would love to have an easier way to drive along that corridor. And money can be made from the manufacture and sale of the cars and charging the electric to those who use the system.

Right now billions flowing through the economy and into the pockets and lives of the many people it would take to make this a reality would be a very positive thing. And we would end up with a simple elegant green transportation solution. And as much as I enjoy driving – on a long trip there is a lot to be said for kicking back and letting the car wake you up when you get there.

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Adam where are you?

Still trying to get Adam to at least say who he is… but he is so busy out shooting.

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