This excellent animation from TrueMajority shows in
graphic detail (using Oreo cookies) how ridiculously, large
the military budget is, and how we could solve many domestic
problems with a modest 12% cut. A must-see. (watch
It's a smooth ride in
Mile High City by Ken Hoffman, Houston
Chroncle, June 6,
DENVER -- The light rail system
here is very similar to what they're talking about for
The Central Corridor Line,
which starts at 30th Avenue and Downing, runs 5.3 miles through
downtown, the Five Points Business District, past Coors Field, the
Convention Center, Mile High Stadium, the 16th Street pedestrian
shopping mall and a college campus.
Denver built its light rail
system in 1994 without federal funds -- on purpose. The city
wanted to get its trains rolling fast.
Houston may wind up doing it
without federal money, too, not necessarily by choice. But
obviously it can be done.
Here's how Denver paid for its
light rail: The northern half was funded by an existing use tax;
the southern part was financed by the savings realized by taking
430 daily bus trips out of downtown.
Denver's train ride is smooth
sailing, powered by overhead electric cables. The train glides
silently along the side of the street, not clogging the traffic
lanes, with no exhaust fumes fouling the air.
The cars are squeaky clean.
Passengers face each other, like they do on the New York subway.
Unlike New York subway cars, there are no advertisements above the
seats asking "Credit Problems?" from a company that wants the
little money you have left.
The passengers are a strange
mix. You have businessmen sitting next to college students across
from moms taking their babies to the doctor.
Supposedly there's something
psychological about a train. People who would never dream of
riding a bus happily park their cars on the outskirts of town and
hop a train to work. Stockbrokers can ponder their portfolios.
Lawyers use the commute as billable time. Those guys don't miss a
People treat a train with
respect. They may leave a newspaper behind on a bus, but they take
it with them from the train. There's no eating, smoking, drinking
or loud music.
A few weeks ago, I had lunch
with a judge in Houston who lives in the Medical Center area and
works downtown. I knew I would be writing this series about light
rail, so I asked him, "If we had a train running from the Med
Center to the courthouse, would you take it?"
I asked, "So how come you don't
take a bus to work now? There's a bus that goes that same
He just scrunched his
People don't scrunch their
noses at trains.
A train ticket in Denver costs
$1.25 during rush hour (6-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.) and 75 cents other
times. There are ticket machines at all 15 stops.
Like most cities that have
light rail, the Central Corridor route has given rise to
restaurants, theaters and parks. Abandoned warehouses turned into
loft apartments. Vacant lots became pocket parks. And there's
One thing that hasn't changed
is the Buckhorn Exchange restaurant, located only 100 feet from
the train stop at 10th Avenue and Osage Street.
Built in 1885, the Buckhorn
Exchange is the oldest restaurant in Denver. Taped on the mirror
behind the upstairs bar is "Colorado Liquor License No.
The Buckhorn Exchange is an
authentic Wild West saloon and steakhouse. But the specialty of
the most famous restaurant in the Rocky Mountains is -- gulp --
Rocky Mountain oysters.
"It's our most popular
appetizer, the thing we're known for. We serve them to practically
every table," said manager Chris Murray.
"They're delicious. People who
don't know about Rocky Mountain oysters get a weird look when they
find out what they are. But that weird look goes away when they
For non-bovine-anatomy buffs,
Rocky Mountain oysters are deep-fried bull's testicles. The
testicles arrive frozen at the restaurant, still in the bull's
scrotum. Each testicle is roughly the size of a baseball. It's cut
into 30 slices, about 1/16-inch thick.
"Any thicker and they'd be too
chewy," Murray said.
The "oysters" are breaded and
lightly fried. One time a Japanese tourist ate them raw. Even
Murray was grossed out.
Join the club. A waiter plopped
a big plate of Rocky Mountain oysters in front of me. Murray said,
Now here's where you expect me
to say they taste like chicken, right?
I grabbed one with my fingers,
as is the custom, brought it to my lips ... and chickened out. I
couldn't do it. Hey, I may exist on food that's bad for you, but
even I have standards
I've tried without success to get local groups to add their events to this calendar (Bike Texas, the Yellow Bike Project, City's Bicycle Program, Bike Austin, etc.)
If you'd like to help edit the calendar, or at least add your group's events to it, then please let me know!
Another site by Michael Bluejay...
Saving Electricity. Find out how much juice your stuff uses, and how to save money and energy. As seen in Newsweek.