Visualize California Wildfires

Map of the 2018 Camp Fire size over Detroit

I really appreciate journalism that helps me empathize with people affected by tragedy. That’s what caught me when I saw this map from NBC News:

Overlay of the California Camp Fire on a map of Detroit.

I can read “200 square miles” in a news article and that sort of washes over me. But the map makes me stop and consider that this is going from Redford to Grosse Pointe. From Dearborn to Warren. People in the area know that is a huge swath of land. I can’t imagine being stuck in evacuation gridlock, trying to get from Hamtramck to Livonia with wildfires all around me.

Then I saw the drop down and realized there are more fires.

Rustic Campsites in Michigan

MLive’s 25 of Michigan’s must-visit rustic campgrounds is great, except for one thing. In a state as big as ours, location matters. So I mapped the campsites on that list.

It’s pretty clear that almost all the rustic campsites are within a few hours of the Mackinac Bridge (the bridge that connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas). It would be nice to find some more rustic camping options closer to home. Still, a good bucket list to have around for inspiration.

Colophon: This post was proudly created in Gutenberg, however the map embedding was done with a Custom HTML block and the iframe from Google. There are a couple plugins that allow for embedding maps, but I chose not to fiddle with them.

2018 Harold Hotelling Memorial Lecture

The 2018 Harold Hotelling Memorial Lecture is coming up on October 15th. This year is the first time one of dad’s former students will be giving the lecture. Douglas Harris will be giving a lecture titled “Charter School City: What Detroit Can Learn From New Orleans”:

The changes in New Orleans schools after Hurricane Katrina represent the most radical school reform in the nation’s history. The state took over almost all schools and turned them over to private charter school operators working under performance-based contracts. Teachers no longer worked under union contracts or with tenure protections. School attendance zones were eliminated. These market-based school reforms increased accountability, school autonomy, and parental choice in ways not seen in more than a century of American public schooling. Harris will show that the reforms led to considerable improvement in a wide range of student outcomes. He will also explain how the lessons for other cities, and for the role of markets and governments, are more complicated than these results might suggest.

Dad supported of school of choice in the 90’s. He was an economist, and economists believe in markets. I think even published an op-ed in the newspaper pushing for school of choice.

I wish I could get his take on the intersection of school of choice and privatization. Now that I have kids, the state of education is suddenly a much more pressing matter for me.

Come by the Mary E Marburger Science and Engineering Auditorium at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, at 7pm on October 15th. The lectures are always interesting and, if you’re on the fence, there’s a dessert reception after. The anecdotes at the start always get me, but it’s nice to hear new stories 9 years later.

Driverless Bus Prototype Coming to Ann Arbor

This is cool, a prototype autonomous bus is coming to Ann Arbor in the fall.

The service will use two fully automated, 15-passenger, all-electric shuttles manufactured by French firm NAVYA to transport students, faculty and staff on a nonstop two-mile route between the Lurie Engineering Center and the university’s North Campus Research Complex on Plymouth Road.

Mcity will study how passengers react to the vehicle as a way to gauge consumer acceptance of the technology. Exterior cameras will capture the reaction and behavior of other road users, especially bicyclists and pedestrians. Mcity will also track ridership and usage patterns, and survey users about their experience.The data gathered will help researchers understand how to design safer vehicles and how to operate them more efficiently.

The shuttle service will run on U-M roads during business hours to start. There will be no cost to riders, and the two shuttles will cover the route roughly every 10 minutes. Hours of operation and the service area could be increased later if the technology proves effective and consumer acceptance supports expansion.

The article says it’s a 2 mile route but this is my best guess for the route:

 

Detroit Tourism Roundup

2017 seems to be the year to visit Detroit.

New York Times puts Detroit as #9 on its list of places to visit. The QLine streetcar seems to have been part of that decision, so maybe there’s hope yet for a regional transit authority. Maybe…

National Geographic made Detroit their North American pick for Unexpected Cities for the Food Lover. They pick up on a few of the standard restaurants (I’m post-post-Slows hype) but miss out on a gaggle of favorites. I don’t miss the commute downtown but I do miss the options at lunch time.

There’s so much good food downtown, I wish I had more opportunities to explore them. My personal list of Detroit dining this weekend consists of Buddy’s Pizza (no, Little Caesar’s doesn’t count as Detroit-style), Tubby’s Submarines and maybe Gold Cash Gold. I should figure out a way to sneak a coney dog in there.

One final word of warning. If you do come to visit Detroit, don’t come here during the winter…

R.I.P. Marvin

mmsign.jpg

Marvin Yagoda, founder of Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, has passed away.

For those who have never been, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum is a hidden gem of the Detroit area. It is hidden behind a strip mall and overflowing with cool stuff. There are the standard video games, classic and current, but there’s so much more:

One of my favorite displays is P.T. Barnum’s Cardiff Giant – a fake of a fake.

I hope that Marvin’s legacy lives on. Once my kids are a little older this place is high on my list for family outings.

Photo Credit: Jukie Bot (CC Licensed)

Detroit Roundup

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Houses cheaper than cars in Detroit
“At least 16 Detroit houses up for sale on Sunday sold for $30,000 or less.

A boarded-up bungalow on the city’s west side brought $1,300. A four-bedroom house near the original Motown recording studio sold for $7,000.”

Even better is the MetaFilter discussion about that link (and others): Will The Last Person To Leave Detroit Please Turn Out The Lights?
 

Congressman: Parts Of Iraq Are As Safe As Detroit
What’s great about this is that the analogy is arguing that 80% of Iraq and Detroit are “reasonably under control” which means the guy is using Detroit as a point somewhere on the line between IEDs and Broadway musicals. I think he meant it as a sign of progress in Iraq but the Detroiters aren’t too happy with where they are on that line.
 
Man Accused Of Drunken Driving On Golf Cart
The golf cart had a winch and plow secured to the front, bicycle lights used as headlights and brake lights, and plastic curtains that hung on the sides and the front as a windscreen, Local 4 reported.

A butane heater and CD player were turned on inside the golf cart.

According to the police report, Vanbuskirk replied to a question about who can legally drive a golf cart on the road, saying, “Gov. Granholm.”
 

Top 10 Best / Worst Cities For Software Developer Pay
When you adjust for cost of living expenses, software developers in Detroit (I assume the metro area) make better money than those in Silicon Valley or New York:

Metro Salary Cost of Living Adjusted Salary
New York $89,370 177 $50,492
San Jose $99,250 192 $51,693
San Francisco $92,570 206 $44,937
Detroit $75,250 95 $79,211

 

Looking to upgrade ArborBlogs

ArborBlogs is starting to get a little long in the tooth, and I’m not too happy with the Drupal aggregator codebase. The ability for people to post to the site was under-utilized, to say the least, so I’m looking for a pure-aggregator to replace it.

Some of the things I’m looking for are:

Support for the 9 versions of RSS and Atom. Should be obvious in this day and age, but I had to hack Atom support into Drupal’s aggregator (with a little help from Magpie).

Ability for non-admins to add feeds. I don’t want my disinterest in my inbox to prevent people from getting added. Bonus points if people can put in their blog’s URL or a username for hosted services and have it auto-detect the feed.

Extendibility. While I’d like features like a blog directory, tagging or the picture aggregator to be built in, as long as the package supports some easy way to add new modules I’ll be happy to put in a few hours adding the stuff I want. Prefer Ruby or a scripting language that starts with “P”. Ben Trott may have made Perl the perfect choice with WWW::Blog::Metadata, but Technorati’s web services gather a lot of the same info.

So far I know about Planet Planet, Chumpologica and Planet PHP, all of which don’t seem to have a web front end for adding feeds. Rails Planet looks promising, but the code isn’t available yet.

Any suggestions, Lazyweb?

[Updated 2005-10-14] Looks like someone already asked MetaFilter, and Josh even pointed to ArborBlogs as an example. Not a lot of leads there, either.