Wednesday, April 27, 2011

three weeks/looking for a place to stay (updated)

I'm pretty sure three weeks is the longest I've gone without updating JUTP. Much as I hoped this wouldn't happen, I had little choice but to focus on school with the end of the semester approaching. (Not to mention the ongoing difficulty of writing a blog about a place from 125 miles away. Is this practical? I'm beginning to wonder.) Regular updates should begin during the first two weeks of May. I'm looking forward to some very late discussion of the Makeover Montgomery conference two weeks ago, which I attended and enjoyed thoroughly.

In the meantime, there is good news: I will be returning to the D.C. area this summer, but I'm also in need of a place to stay. Here are my criteria:

- At least partially furnished (bed/dresser/desk)
- Under $700/month (including utilities)
- Within biking distance (~1 mile) of a Metro station

Of course, I'm looking in Silver Spring, but I'm also open to Takoma Park, College Park, and the District. If you have any leads, I'd definitely appreciate it.

UPDATE: I'm looking for a ROOM, not an apartment. Certainly I'd be crazy to think you could rent a one-bedroom (or even a studio) in this area for $700. (When my mother first moved into Georgian Towers, she paid $685 a month - but that was in 1991!)

Thanks! Check back in this space for updates in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

april fool's joke run amok?

From the Post's Dr. Gridlock:

Here’s a bit of old news that’s worth mentioning. Just Up the Pike announced last Friday that Google is adding skateboarding directions to its maps. What do you think about that?

I'd like to see how far this can go, but then again, I wouldn't want some poor kid to read this and try to skate down the ICC. Or maybe Dr. Gridlock knows it's a joke and is trying to pass it off as real news (in a blog post about real news) to see whom else he can fool. Confusing, right?

Friday, April 1, 2011

google maps introduces new skateboarding directions

Google announced today that it will be adding skateboarding directions to its currently available driving, walking, transit and biking directions.

“Here at Google, many of our engineers commute by skateboard from their trendy lofts in San Francisco to the Googleplex, 35 miles away,” reads a post on the company’s blog. “We saw a chance to give others the ability to do the same.”

Users can get find ideal routes for skating based on their proximity to fast-food joints, the availability of empty swimming pools, and the lack of cops or security guards nearby. Tagged on the map are videos of skate tricks done in that location, allowing users to see how bad any potential injuries would be.

Skaters across Greater Washington are excited about the new service, which enables them to reach the region’s few and far-flung skate parks. 17-year-old Oscar Gonzalez of Laurel used to take three buses and a train to go skate in Gaithersburg. With Google Skateboard, he was able to find a new way to get there.

Kid Falls Off Board, Everyone Laughs
Google Skateboard sent this kid the wrong way.

“It wasn’t right,” says Gonzalez. “Google Skateboard told me I could skate down these trails, but there was really a highway there and I got seriously thrashed. They should at least tell you to wear a helmet.”

Already, skate companies are taking notice of Google Skateboard’s popularity. Next month, DC Shoes will come out with a model that barks out directions in the voice of Henry Rollins. At this year’s Vans Warped Tour, a touring summer music festival, anyone who skates there and brings a Google Skateboard printout will receive a free Android phone.

Meanwhile, advocates in cities around the nation have been pushing to create or expand "skateboard lanes," which provide skaters a safer way to navigate the city. The lanes feature a 10' wide path crisscrossed with guardrails and curbs placed at random angles. However, a lane in Brooklyn's Park Slope has drawn opposition and even a lawsuit seeking to remove the lane.

Bike and Skate Shop
A new skateboard lane.

The new feature coincides with the launch of DDOT and Arlington's newest joint venture, Skateboard Share (affectionately known as SkaSha), with initial stations at Freedom Plaza and Powhatan Springs. Montgomery County was approached about participating in the program, but declined.

“We fully support skateboarding as a legitimate form of expression and a spectacular way for our young people to get exercise,” says Carin Cartwright, activities coordinator for the Silver Spring Civic Building and Veterans Plaza. “But we’d prefer they do it away from county property, particularly the facilities that haven’t been paid off yet.”

Cartwright notes that many visitors to Veterans Plaza, where skateboarding was recently banned along with swearing and suggestive dancing, complained that the brightly-colored clothes skaters wear was a distraction. “I’m hopeful that skaters will use Google Skateboard to get directions to our new skate spot in Woodside Park, which I’ve been told now has room for as many as eight kids at once,” she adds.

This post was written by myself and Steve Offutt from GGW. Their busy posting schedule prevented them from running it today, so I offered to do it here.

outcry over "two-dimensional" proposal for wheaton town square

wheaton town square
Concerned about the creation of "artificial, two-dimensional" town centers, a group of local residents has come out in opposition to revitalization plans for downtown Wheaton after developer B.F. Saul posted this image of a new public square for the neighborhood.

"What we like about Wheaton today is its diversity and its different dimensions," says Rhea Roundman, who lives in nearby Kensington Heights. "Everything has texture. Some things are bumpy. Some things are smooth. And we want to keep it that way."

The group, called 3-DIMBY (3-D In My Backyard), plans to stage a protest rally tomorrow in Parking Lot 13, located at the corner of Grandview Avenue and Reedie Drive. The lot, which is currently on a slope and covered in a mix of black asphalt and green grass would be reduced to a featureless white plane in B.F. Saul's plans. A Ferris wheel would be installed in the middle of the lot, while another portion would be redeveloped as a big, brown box, presumably containing a matrix of apartment units and retail spaces.

Some residents, however, look forward to the so-called "Sketchupization" of Wheaton. "I'm pretty sure it's just a drawing," says Tommy DeSquare, who lives downtown. "Even if they wanted to build that, the developer couldn't make all those colorful ethnic businesses paint their stores grey."

Yesterday, representatives from B.F. Saul sent out an e-mail to community members attempting to quell the controversy:

Clearing Up Confusion
About the Town Square

We heard from some Wheaton residents who are confused about the appearance of the Town Square in our recent “Test Layout of Taste of Wheaton” posting, so we wanted to provide some clarification.

The test layout does not reflect the way the Town Square would actually look. We posted the drawing to demonstrate that the new Town Square could accommodate community festivals, such as Taste of Wheaton, which are part of what makes Wheaton unique.

Items such as landscaping, hardscaping and pedestrian-friendly features are not shown in that layout for the sake of simplicity, but these are integral considerations in the Town Square planning and will show in the final concept plan.

We are working with community leaders to create a comfortable, green and inviting area that community residents can enjoy. We’ll continue to keep you posted on our progress. In the meantime, feel free to contact us at or visit our website.

Patricia Prism, member of 3-DIMBY and a resident of Kemp Mill, dismissed the e-mail. "This is just more developer double-speak," she says. "You have a cool, authentic, well-rounded place and they try to squeeze money out of it and it becomes flat and boring. Just look at Bethesda and Silver Spring."

Expression Live! Festival From Upper Terrace
Two-dimensional? Girl, please.

Special thanks to reader Dave for the heads-up.