Friday, December 12, 2008

Forecast is Never Correct

Forgot to post this a while back ...

Check out the forecasted high (26 degrees) for Dec. 6 from, and then look at the current temperature (29 degrees). Wow, that's just pitiful. Can't they change their forecast to 29 degrees so they don't look as stupid as they already are?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bad Parking Design at Woodman's

Have you shopped at Woodman's on the west side of Madison in the past couple of years? The grocery store resurfaced its parking lot a few years back and stupidly decided to make the rows of parking run parallel (instead of perpendicular) to the store.

Stop and think for a bit. Can you name ANY store (department, grocery, mall, etc.) that has parking designed this way? Of course not, because it is a major inconvenience to the customer!

Take a look at diagram 1: If you are parked where the red dot is, and all the adjacent stalls are taken (as they usually are at popular Woodman's, thus no short cuts for you) ...

... you have to walk all the way down the end of the row and then back to get to your car (diagram 2). And if you do cut through, often a car is trying to turn into your spot and may not see you (especially at night and when there are a few other parked cars around to block the driver's view), thus jeopardizing your safety!

Look what happens if you park at the red dot in diagram 3 (and assuming the adjacent slots are filled and you can't cut through).

That would be a lot further walk then if you were at the same point in a correctly designed parking lot (diagram 4). This is why 99.9 percent of all parking lots are designed this way.

So, who are the geniuses that designed this lot, and who are the idiots at Woodman's that agreed upon the design? I took an Engineering Design class in high school, and we spent one measly unit learning parking design. In those couple of weeks, I learned all there was and designed my own (easily getting an "A"). Sadly, someone must've gone to college for this, and they still screwed up.

Next time you go to Woodman's, keep all of this in mind. Don't get suckered in parking in the middle (it seems closer by real distance) at busy times; park near the ends (shorter actual walking distance).

Additional rant: Have you ever noticed people who park outward (facing out) at grocery stores? Seeing how most people put groceries in their trunk and/or back seats, why would you make it more difficult to do so by parking this way? ALWAYS park inward at grocery stores!

One more rant: For places with angled parking, why drive through to park outward? It's a bigger inconvenience to get out because now you have to make a more than 90-degree turn to get out. Use your head!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bicyclist Rage

About a week ago, two bicyclists were circling a third at night when the one being circled said, "Get a light." This enraged the other two, as they tried to ride him off the road, followed him to his house and then got in a physical altercation.

(Here's the story

I find this amusing because this showcases the dichotomy of Madison bicyclists. There are the nice ones who follow the rules, such as the victim described above. Then there are those who feel they own the road, and these are the ones who give all bicyclists a bad rap, like the attackers above (by the way, state law requires lights for bikes at night).

I'm sure you've seen the latter group on the streets: They go down the wrong way of one-way streets, they never make complete stops at red lights or stop signs, they never yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, they ride in the middle of the road in order to disrupt traffic, etc.

Madison has gone out of its way to be biker-friendly, especially with all the bike paths and bike lanes in the city. It's unfortunate that the asshole bicyclists have marred the reputation for all.

Remember: if a car and a bicycle go head-to-head, the car ALWAYS wins. It's your life, so be careful!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Leave the UW Band Alone

When you have a problem at work with your coworkers, do you go to your immediate supervisor or do you go to the president of the company? When you have a problem with one of your teammates, do you go to your coach or to the general manager? In both cases, I would hope you would answer with the former.

So why did two UW marching band parents go all the way to the Dean of Students instead of the director, Mike Leckrone? All of this business should have been handled internally instead of through the media.

While I feel somewhat bad for these kids to have go through what they did, at the same, they need to learn to handle things themselves. I know for a fact that within the band, you can always say no (seriously). Plus, joining the band is voluntary; it's not like they were drafted into the army or they need the class to fill any requirement for graduating.

I especially appreciate the letter to the editor in Thursday's Wisconsin State Journal, written by a former band parent:

"What is more humiliating, an upper classmen asking you to do stupid stuff, or having your mom contact the UW chancellor and say the big kids are picking on you?

"My son was in the marching band for five years. Was he hazed? I don't know -- he didn't tell me because he dealt with things himself.

"What's next, the chancellor's office getting involved because a parent complained about an athletic coach not being fair, or a professor not giving the desired grade?

"Part of growing up is solving problems yourself, not having your parents run interference for you."

Well put. So please, leave the band alone and let the members solve their own problems. Hopefully the UW's media relations efforts will drastically improve, too, so we can start reading positive things about the band.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

TomoTherapy Needs New Leadership

Last week Avalon Portfolio wrote a letter to the board of directors of TomoTherapy, criticizing them for the loss of stock value and squandering a "once enviable market position."

For the uninitiated, TomoTherapy is a Madison company that makes specialized cancer radiation treatment machines. It went public last year and saw its stock climb to more than $27 in July 2007. Today, the stock is hovering around $2 a share.

Avalon, which owns four percent of TOMO, suggests the company should sell, and I agree. TomoTherapy had the advantage of being one of the first on the market, but the management for some reason didn't strategize on how to deal with the inevitable competitors, who have sprouted up and taken over much of TomoTherapy's market share.

Avalon's other suggestion--starting a joint venture or licensing deal--also has merit but unfortunately is not in TomoTherapy's mindset. This can only be a result of ego and cockiness (and shortsightedness).

In a way, TomoTherapy reminds me of a worse version of Apple: innovative but didn't improve on or license its product when others came out with similar (and better) ones.

Read the news article.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2008 Halloween Costumes

As we approach Halloween this year, I venture to guess that the most popular costume for men will be the Joker and for women, it will be Sarah Palin.

Last year I was pretty sure that Dick in the Box would be the most popular, and I was correct. However, I was surprised by the number of "300" Spartan soldier costumes I saw.

My guesses are based on what I think people coming to Madison for Freakfest or otherwise will dress up as. By the way, I'm excited to see O.A.R. perform, though they probably won't start until 12:30 a.m., and I'll be wasted by then (starting at 11 a.m.).

Of course, we'll always see the old standbys, such as Maverick and Goose from "Top Gun."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Stop Putting Landmark Status on Every Building in Madison

It's hard enough for developers to build in Madison, because neighborhood associations and aldermen are contentious as hell to everything. What seems to be the best way to further curb development in Madison? Add landmark status to a building.

I am for preserving history, but not everything in Madison is worth preserving! Take a look at the buildings on the Capitol Square. Most are outdated facilities that would better serve the population if they were torn down and/or remodeled. But instead, the Madison Landmark Commission wants landmark status on basically the entire block of North Pinckney Street, which would be better as a new office building or hotel rather than the run-down buildings they are now.

As reported in today's Wisconsin State Journal, a Madison architect wants landmark status on the U.S. Bank glass building, which would complicate or block plans to update the structure. This building needs it badly, with its energy inefficiencies. The plan was even cleared with the city's Plan Commission.

Another building that should be torn down is the old Badger Office Supply store in the 100 block of West Mifflin. That would be another great location for either office space or a hotel, but instead, the Commission wants landmark status.

One last example is the fire-damaged St. Raphael Cathedral. It sat for three years until the Madison Diocese finally had the smarts and courage to order its demolition so the cathedral could begin anew. Guess what? The Commission lashed out, as it wanted to add landmark status to the partially destroyed building (a very stupid gesture). Good response from Diocese spokesman Brent King, who pointed out it was the city which ordered the building repaired or razed: "The ... concerns and considerations of the Landmark Commission could have been brought forward at any time in the previous three years, prior to the city's summons ... or the initial start of deconstruction, however were not."

Madison should be a forward-thinking community, not a hyper-conservative one!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Regional Transportation / Kassel, Germany

I attended the Downtown Madison Inc. monthly "What's Up" breakfast at the Madison Club to listen to the featured speakers, who were representatives from Madison's sister city, Kassel.

I am a firm believer that Madison, especially with its geographical limitations (e.g. isthmus), needs a comprehensive public transportation system that includes light rail, express buses and park-and-rides. Anyone who regularly takes the Beltline or East Washington knows how much more traffic is on those streets compared to just five years ago. Plus, gas prices will only continue to rise (in Kassel, one gallon cost $9.40!).

Kassel has a population of 195,000. It has an integrated transportation system that links intracity transportation to regional transportation via trams, regio-trams, trains ans buses. Thus, residents of Kassel and its suburbs are able to get anywhere within the city and outside of it using public transportation.

We must be forward-thinking. Gas prices will continue to soar. The population of Dane County will exceed 580,000 by 2030. We can't just keep building roads like the North Mendota Parkway.

It's funny that outlying communities like Waunakee and Sun Prairie are opposed to the light rail, since it's the residents of those suburbs who are clogging the roads now. True, the first line won't hit every 'burb, but they eventually will! It just takes a bit of patience and seeing the bigger picture.

Really, a half-cent sales tax in Dane County is not a big deal. And people who complain that they have to pay for something they won't use forget that our taxes pay for a lot of things that not everyone uses.

I could fill up pages and pages worth of benefits a regional transportation system would provide, but I won't. Hopefully, if everything goes well, we will have our light rail operational by 2013.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

As always, errors on

For those who read every day, you know that there are many problems with the site, including broken links, down time (esp. when the Cap Times stories are being uploaded), and generally lots of problems that a competent Webmaster could easily fix. Check out today's error.

Notice something? The headline should actually read "The Trail that Led to Adam Peterson." The word "lead" was mistakenly put in the headline.

I know from past experience that 1-2 copywriters read each story, then the section editor. That means that 2-3 people saw this headline and thought it was correct. Did any of you go to Journalism School? I'd like to see go one full week without any errors, either writing side or technical side.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Up yours California; Wisconsin still tops in dairy

I think it's a testament to Wisconsin that its cheesemakers won 27 out of a possible 77 best-in-class awards at this week's 27th biennial World Cheese Competition at the Monona Terrace. The 27 awards are more than any other state or country won.

How many awards did Wisconsin's so-called rival California win? Just three. And they are so bold as to proclaim that "Happy cows live in California." Well, the truth is that only abused, beaten cows live in that state.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Billboard Word Scramble Solved

Have you seen the billboard with the word scramble on Atwood Avenue? (I'm sure it's at other locations around the city.)

A while back it started as just blanks, but now it reads:


The trick to solving these is to look for letters that are not commonly used, like "K," and pair them with another letter. Thus, I tried pairing the "K" with "C" and "R". Then, you have to figure out the longest word, which in this case is seven letters. I noticed an abundance of "S"s, so I thought maybe two of them would be next to each other. Eventually I got:


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Fog-related accidents on I-90

What a terrible series of accidents today on I-90 just east of Madison. If you didn't already know, two separate accidents (one eastbound, one westbound) led to pile-ups of 30+ vehicles and at least two deaths. It was reminiscent of about five years ago when there was a multi-car pile-up on I-43 between Beloit and Milwaukee. In this case, there were many other troubling factors that I think could've helped the situation.

1) Lack of communications. I was lucky to just catch a two-second blurb on the radio about the accident and the road closure at about 7 p.m. For a full hour afterward, I flipped through all the radio stations waiting to hear another announcement, but I didn't get anything until I was all the way home. In extreme situations like this, there should be radio announcements every 15 minutes to warn drivers to avoid the area.

2) No signage. I realize the state patrol was busy, but they should have put digital traffic signs before the area telling traffic to exit the Interstate early.

3) Bad drivers. I drove from Madison to Milwaukee at noon, and I cannot believe how many people either didn't have their lights on or used just their parking lights in the fog. Also, too many people were tailgating, and the over-cautious drivers were also screwing things up by breaking too often and fluxuating speeds too much. In fact, bad driving was what led to the accidents, as people were too eager to break, and then a semi that was following too close smashed into them.

4) Meteorologists. I know I always bash them, but jeez, they predicted the fog would end at noon (that's not even close!). Now, they have extended the dense fog advisory until Monday morning. So they were "only" off by 24 hours?!

I wish speedy recovery to all the people involved in the accidents.