Tuesday, January 20, 2009

BROOKLYN: A Beautiful Inaugural Morning

ON THIS MORNING OF BARACK OBAMA'S INAUGURATION, it's a beautiful day here in Brooklyn. I hope things are just as beautiful where you are. Onward and upward ...

Photo of a snowy, but sunny Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Study Shows That Rats Prefer Cities With Logical Street Grids

ABOUT A YEAR AGO, I covered an unfolding drama in Washington, D.C.'s Dupont Circle where a rat had jumped into a baby stroller, leading to a jurisdictional squabble over exactly who had rodent control responsibilities there. While rats certainly do enjoy the circle, a new study shows that they like rectangular grids. According to Science Daily, rats love Manhattan in particular because they can cover more territory because of the logical street grid.

According to Science Daily:
"We put rats in relatively large areas with objects and routes resembling those in Manhattan,” explains Prof. [David] Eilam. The rats, he found, do the same things humans do: They establish a grid system to orient themselves. Using the grid, the rats covered a vast amount of territory, “seeing the sights” quickly. In contrast, rats in an irregular plan resembling New Orleans’ failed to move far from where they started and didn’t cover much territory, despite travelling the same distances as the "Manhattan rats."
So if rats understand street grids, what does that mean for the District of Columbia, where much of the city is a giant grid interrupted by giant diagonal avenues? Does Pennsylvania Avenue provide an easy route for rats to cross quadrants? Does that mean that traffic circles and squares, at the intersection of the grand avenues, create natural gathering spots for rats (and I suppose people)?

That would be an interesting study ...

» "Rats Say: Manhattan Rules!" [Science Daily]

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Park Slope Air Crash Tribute Video Depicts Burning Boy in Odd Re-Enactment of Tragedy

THE U.S. AIRWAYS jet that ditched in the Hudson River last week has been brought out of the icy waters off Battery Park City. The pilot and crew, along with some intrepid ferryboat operators and others, have been hailed as heroes for saving all the passengers from what would have otherwise been a mass casualty event.

While following the news developments of the crash, I was poking around online to find some basic information about the massive mid-air collision over Staten Island in 1960, which sent one plane toward Park Slope in Brooklyn. In all 134 people died including six people on the ground. When United Flight 826 initially crashed into a block of brownstones apartments in the vicinity of 7th Avenue and Sterling Place, very close to Flatbush Avenue, first responders did not know that a plane had crashed. It had seemed as if there was an explosion. Then the tail section was discovered in the middle of the burning rubble of Park Slope.

Poking around YouTube for some news clips of the 1960 air disaster, I came across a tribute video dedicated to the boy on the United flight who survived the crash but then died at the hospital the next day. It's an interesting video to say the least, complete with a pseudo re-enactment of the boy -- burning no less -- crashing into the snow. While the air disaster is certainly scary enough -- considering what could have happened if the U.S. Airways flight had crashed somewhere in the Bronx or Manhattan -- this video tribute is a bit creepy. Watch for yourself ...