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Archive for January, 2009

One Car Household Week Twenty-Two

Posted by eemilla on January 30, 2009

We are fast approaching the half year mark, and I am so amazed about how easy this has been.  In honesty, I must say my husband bears the greater burden.  Now that we are not suffering from the bitter snowless cold, I plan to resume my Thursday treks home.  I actually walked past three other pedestrians in the neighborhood, and I also felt like an old lady as I wanted to yell at a few cars to SLOW DOWN as they whizzed by me.  Although I spend much time complaining about the dearth of sidewalks, I must say I do appreciate the good long stretch of new sidewalk on my amended route.  The sad and inefficient note about this stretch is that they had sidewalks already, but no one had bothered to maintain them so they became a part of people’s yards.

Speaking of public transit and government waste, I wanted to give thanks to Doug Gibson over at Scrutiny Hooligans for his great comeback: “When did I-40 start making a profit?”  How can public transit be profitable if we live so far from everything and we don’t pay tolls?  How much sense does it make to spend millions on a parking deck then charge one dollar an hour to park there with an eight dollar per day maximum?  The newest downtown parking deck was estimated to cost $12 million dollars for 650 parking spaces, which breaks down to over $18,000 per space.  The notice doesn’t mention if this lot will be like the other decks that give the first hour for free, but I assume being closest to the courthouse this will not be an option.  

I think the economic stimulus will push us in a new direction as far as our transportation priorities fall; gas prices will rise again as oil is not a renewable resource, and the demand for transit will increase.  The Asheville Transit System seems really interested in listening to its ridership; hopefully, more service will arrive before Strive Not to Drive.

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Forays into Smitten Kitchen

Posted by eemilla on January 25, 2009

The past two nights I have cooked up Smitten Kitchen fare; both nights have been smashing successes.  Friday was a simple snack of a dinner as we both ate late lunches.  My honey was a bit put off by the thought of eggs and red sauce, but I trusted the photos.  The only thing I missed was the side of cooked greens, although I think kale would have been more appropriate as we hold different opinions as to how cooked spinach should be.

eggs and red On our toasted bread I added some cheap deli swiss, and I made the red sauce spicier and threw in an extra glug or two of wine  (shiraz).  The extra wine gave the sauce this really intense red color, and the flavor was married nicely with the spice.  My  honey even went and poached another egg with the tiny bit of leftover sauce; this will certainly make it onto the quick and easy  dinner rotation.  Making this in the summer will require some victory garden basil with victory garden tomato sauce, and  maybe Mom’s backyard eggs.

Last night got off to a late start because even though I remembered to run the store for the noodles, I managed to forget that I  had consumed the last of the cooking wine.  The mushroom bourguignon was well worth the wait.  Due to all the simmering  and reducing, this is too time consuming to be on the quick dinner rotation, but it is certainly easy and could be prepared while  completing some other task.  Being the garlic lovers we are, I doubled the two cloves called for, but on the next round I think I  will double it again and possibly add some more onion.  Another thought would be to add seitan.  Also I don’t understand why  a roux wasn’t called for; it would have been easier to combine into the stew, and it would have provided some extra nutty  complexity as well as gorgeous glossiness.  In lieu of the egg noodles, I opted for whole wheat; I don’t like sour cream, but my honey enjoyed it with his dish.

Thanks to Smitten Kitchen for such a beautiful website with delicious food; in fact, Smitten Kitchen was nominated for three Bloggies.  Vote here!

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Transit Meeting

Posted by eemilla on January 23, 2009

I arrived around four fifteen, and the banquet room was much fuller than I had expected. A power point presentation was running on a loop providing statistics about who rides, how long survey respondents have ridden, where riders come from and go to, and why people choose to take the bus. I assume these results were culled from the survey handed out to riders in October 2008 as the online survey is still available.  There were also several maps of the system with sticky notes for riders to post suggestions.  From what I could tell most people are in favor of evening, Sunday, and more frequent service.  Much to my dismay I didn’t pay enough attention to realize it is a drop in affair, which means I could have ridden the bus (which means I could be drinking a pre-night cap and wouldn’t have to drive back downtown in a couple of hours).  For better coverage visit, Scrutiny Hooligans.  

I did have another thought on my way back home from the meeting; a majority (possibly over 70%) loved the fare which means there is room for it to increase.   I know it would be a pittance (in revenue terms), but why not charge a higher fare for Sunday, holiday, or evening service (say 1.25 or 1.50)?  The Transit System could sell Monday through Friday 6a-6p passes for the current price of $7 for 11 tickets, $15 for a monthly pass, or $120 for a yearly pass, with a small increase for an anytime pass say $8-$10 for 11 tickets, $16-$18 for a monthly pass, and $125 or so for a yearly pass with the smallest increase in fares going to committed riders.  I think it is important to reward the committed riders who purchase the passes, especially the monthly and yearly passes.  I don’t purchase the monthly or yearly pass because I am terribly afraid of losing it, but if the passes were refillable scan cards (like NYC’s) a lost pass could be deactivated and reissued.  

Gordon at Scrutiny Hooligans mentioned businesses having their coupons on the bus and then the business would also have transit coupons.  Again I like the idea of transit users getting added benefit as well as hopefully reducing downtown parking needs without reducing downtown business traffic.

Don’t forget to take the survey, even if you find excuses not to ride, you can air them so hopefully they can be overcome.

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Asheville Transit Survey

Posted by eemilla on January 13, 2009

Thanks to Sherry for the survey heads up!  Please take the time to take the survey being put out by the Asheville Transit System.  Even if you don’t currently use the system, they would like know why you don’t use the system.  The survey is short, so I decided to elaborate on my answers below.

In order for transit to be more of an option in our one car household’s transportation plan, we need more sidewalks, more frequent service, which would include Sunday and evening service, and more shelters.  Sunday service is the most pressing need.  How can using transit be a transportation plan if it doesn’t run an entire day of the week?  Another frustration is the time it takes to use the system; although by car I am about a ten to fifteen minute drive to downtown; if use transit I have a twenty minute walk followed by a twenty-five or so minute ride.  Sidewalks would be great as they might provide some reprieve from the mud holes at the two closest stops (adding a bench with a trashcan would be even better, but the best would be a covered shelter with the sidewalks, bench, and trashcan).  

The best thing about the transit system is the fare; if you purchase the ticket book, you end up paying less than sixty-five cents a ride.  Even without a pass or ticket, the one dollar fare is less than what it would likely cost you to park the car downtown.  I have heard discussion about the fare boxes being updated to accept credit/debit cards.  I believe it would be better to make the passes and tickets refillable scan cards; the cards could reduce the waste of paper tickets and passes, and the scan cards would work for the employee sponsored cards (thus relieving the drivers from having to remember the plethora of passes).

While I would like to see a route down Long Shoals Rd to the Biltmore Park movie theatre and the Y as well as service to all the parks, especially the Arboretum, I feel it is more important to improve the existing routes and build more relationships with employers like Warren Wilson and Sonopress to expand the service area.  It would be great if the hotels would partner with the transit system to offer passes to their guests in lieu of the shuttle services most hotels offer, and I don’t see why downtown businesses would partner with the hotels to try to bring more people downtown without having to worry about parking.  Before another parking deck is built, the city, county, and other players should create park and ride locations then increase the parking rates in the public decks to encourage the use of the park and ride lots.

If the survey isn’t enough, do be sure to attend the public meeting, 22 January 2009, at the Civic Center from 4-7.  I would ride the bus down, but the last number six bus leaves downtown at 5:30.

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How Should We Get Big-Money Influence Out of Congressional Elections?

Posted by eemilla on January 3, 2009

My comment on the HuffPost was truncated due to space, so I expanded it a bit here.

More on Voting
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

The Durbin/Specter solution [to tax broadcast networks in order to finance elections] is great as long as it applies to all for-profit networks; I propose that the networks be offered the option of either providing broadcast time or paying the tax. The provided air time would be required to be either in prime time or a slot of the candidates’ choosing; I feel this method would provide more exposure than relying on the big four.  Alternatively, all networks that chose to provide air time in lieu of the tax would air a series of debates.  As presidential campaigns command more attention from the general public, it only makes sense that the financing reform would start with a national debate. Any thought of subsidized elections must enact campaign limits so that the price of campaigning doesn’t continue to grow.  We often focus just on the dollar amount; in the last election the three longest running candidates were also supposed to be serving US Senate terms.  Allowing career politicians to neglect and retain their incumbent seats while campaigning to rise to higher office (at any level including municipal) creates another barrier for average citizens to participate in our democracy; most small businesses couldn’t bear the cost of an employee being on leave for two years, and I am not sure how many Americans could afford to stop focusing on breadwinning for two years to run for office.

Finally, any discussion of campaign reform has to include the opening of the races; I want to vote for the best candidate whether it is in the primary or not, and the best candidates may not be in the same party.  There are more than two parties in this country, and I am ready to add those other voices to the mix.  I hope that by providing the Green or Libertarian perspective I may be spared of another debate focusing on a candidate’s patriotism as evidenced by the presence or absence of a lapel pin.  Ending the Democrats’ and Republicans’ strangle hold on the Commission for Presidential Debates is essential to any meaningful reform and any meaningful debate.

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Power of Music

Posted by eemilla on January 2, 2009

Earlier tonight I read a post from last year on Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl; it was so touching, and it put me in a much better mood about Christmas.  With the right music (I will try Messiah, but it will likely be The Nutcracker), I plan to revive my holiday spirit.  Also, check out Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl’s sweet short story, A Fish Story.

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Hello 2009!

Posted by eemilla on January 2, 2009

As I just started this blog, I don’t recall if I had any resolutions for 2008.  If I did they probably included saving more and spending less (which my husband and I both refuse to do for an extended period of time), losing weight and being more active (again a total failure as I gained loads of weight), and being nicer and less critical (this is the only resolution I have been remotely successful at, and the diminutive success stems mostly from ignoring the existence of the most irksome people I have to deal with).

I guess having this public forum will help to hold me accountable so I will try to improve upon being nicer and less critical, and in an effort to increase the chance of success I will endeavor to be more physically active.  Although I am not counting it as a resolution, the saving and cutting back will come along as a result of the general economic mood.  Even so, we couldn’t think of bringing in a new year without a couple of bottles of bubbly.  

 

Perrier Jouet and Cremant de Bourgogne

Perrier Jouet and Cremant de Bourgogne

 

 

We toasted to health, prosperity, and happiness so hopefully next year I will be posting something about how much I enjoyed drinking my Perrier-Jouet or Moet’s White Star.  Thanks to  The Wine Guy South for carrying the Perrier at its normal price rather than the higher price offered in October when a wonderful gentleman discounted it for me so we could enjoy it for our wedding anniversary.  With the Cremant being such a steal, I may decide to  gift it all year long to those who drink and are of age; afterall champagne makes every occasion seem special.

Happy New Year (even if WordPress operates five hours ahead of EST)!

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