Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bikes, People, and Cars: Chaos = Cooperation

In Denmark, the town of Christianfield stripped the traffic signs and signals from its major intersection and cut the number of serious or fatal accidents a year from three to zero. In England, towns in Suffolk and Wiltshire have removed lane lines from secondary roads in an effort to slow traffic - experts call it "psychological traffic calming." A dozen other towns in the UK are looking to do the same. A study of center-line removal in Wiltshire, conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory, a UK transportation consultancy, found that drivers with no center line to guide them drove more safely and had a 35 percent decrease in the number of accidents.

In the US, traffic engineers are beginning to rethink the dictum that the car is king and pedestrians are well advised to get the hell off the road. In West Palm Beach, Florida, planners have redesigned several major streets, removing traffic signals and turn lanes, narrowing the roadbed, and bringing people and cars into much closer contact. The result: slower traffic, fewer accidents, shorter trip times. "I think the future of transportation in our cities is slowing down the roads," says Ian Lockwood, the transportation manager for West Palm Beach during the project and now a transportation and design consultant. "When you try to speed things up, the system tends to fail, and then you're stuck with a design that moves traffic inefficiently and is hostile to pedestrians and human exchange."

The common thread in the new approach to traffic engineering is a recognition that the way you build a road affects far more than the movement of vehicles. It determines how drivers behave on it, whether pedestrians feel safe to walk alongside it, what kinds of businesses and housing spring up along it. "A wide road with a lot of signs is telling a story," Monderman says. "It's saying, go ahead, don't worry, go as fast as you want, there's no need to pay attention to your surroundings. And that's a very dangerous message."

How to Build a Better Intersection

1. Remove signs: The architecture of the road - not signs and signals - dictates traffic flow.
2. Install art: The height of the fountain indicates how congested the intersection is.
3. Share the spotlight: Lights illuminate not only the roadbed, but also the pedestrian areas.
4. Do it in the road: Cafés extend to the edge of the street, further emphasizing the idea of shared space.
5. See eye to eye: Right-of-way is negotiated by human interaction, rather than commonly ignored signs.
6. Eliminate curbs: Instead of a raised curb, sidewalks are denoted by texture and color.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Eurocopa Groups

Here are the groups and first games for the 2012 Eurocopa.

Group A  (06JUN12)

Poland vs Greece
Russia vs Czech Republic

Group B  (09JUN12)

Netherlands vs Denmark
Germany vs Portugal

Group C  (10JUN12)

Spain vs Italy
Republic of Ireland vs Croatia

Group D  (11JUN12)

France vs England
Ukraine vs Sweden

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Patatas a lo Pobre (Poor Man's Potatoes)

Poor Man’s Potatoes is just about the simplest dish you will ever come across. A few basic items chopped up and fried in olive oil with a bit of salt is the recipe for a lot of fantastic dishes and this one tops the list. I like to eat these with ajo-aceite (garlic mayonnaise). I have become increasingly interested in this humble dish after being charged 8€ for a small plate of patatas a lo pobre in a restaurant, an 8€ irony that wasn't lost on me.

Ingredients for Patatas a lo Pobre

  • 4 Potatoes,
  • 3 Onions,
  • 1 Red Pepper,
  • 1 Green Pepper,
  • 3 Cloves Garlic,
  • 2 Teaspoons Vinegar
  • Chopped Parsley
  • Olive Oil and salt.

Preparation: Peel the potatoes and cut into thick slices. Chop the onion and peppers into strips. Chop the garlic finely. Fry the onion and peppers in the oil for about5-8 minutes uncovered. Add the slices potato and cover the dish. Stir frequently and cook until the potatoes are soft and browned just a bit.  Add the garlic the last few minutes.  Salt to taste. Drain the excess oil and toss the dish with the chopped parsley. Sever with a fried egg on top.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Espanyol vs. Levante U.D @ 22:00 on La Sexta.

Levante hasn't won a game in...well, no on remembers the last time they won. We're hoping it will be this evening.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rate How You Lock Up Your Bike

Watch this video and let a real hippie grade the way you lock your bike. And who would know better than a hippie about stealing a bike? Answer: No one, because hippies will steal anything that isn't nailed down to buy dope. Bike theft in Valencia is a fact of life (I've had two bikes stolen). Watch and learn how to properly lock your two-wheeler.

Hal Grades Your Bike Locking from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

And More About Bikes...

Is a bike a part of your lifestyle? See what you are missing in this video about the Dutch attitude about bikes.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A City Park in a Parking Space

For my money there is nothing uglier on the city landscape than a parked car. Imagine your street with no parked cars. as John Lennon said, "It's easy if you try." Now imagine those parking spots filled with grass, trees, and park benches. That's the kind of city we deserve.

In New York:

And San Francisco:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Look at Bike Sharing

This is old news for most Europeans cities. We've had it in Valencia for almost 2 years. The old saying "the greatest thing since sliced bread" will soon be replaced with "the greatest thing since bike sharing." It is what urban planners call "transformational" meaning it will change an entire city's attitude about public transportation. I have two bikes but I still use our system every day. I am shockingly lazy when it comes to walking and will avoid laughably short trips on foot in favor or taking one of these cool bikes. I pay 18€ per year.

That was Lyon. Here is Paris:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bike Parking (continued)

Adding bicycle parking will actually make neighborhoods more attractive and the cost is negligible. What are we waiting for, Valencia?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bike Parking in Valencia?

It's now illegal to chain your bike to a tree or a lamp post or any "mobiliario urbano" which basically means anything man-made. So where do we park our bikes. This film has a couple of good ideas.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stoke City vs Valencia CF 21:05 (UEFA Europa League)

Founded in 1863, Stoke City is the oldest club in the Premier League, and considered to be the second oldest professional football club in the world, after Notts County. They rank 13th right now in the Premier League. Valencia has really only one last opportunity to win a prize this season and that means getting through this round of 32 against Stoke City. Valencia CF is coming off a commanding 4-0 win over Sporting on Sunday and needs to get through this round with as little drama as possible.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ruzafa expone cien obras de arte en sus balcones

Las fachadas del barrio de Ruzafa de Valencia se han convertido en una improvisada galería de arte contemporáneo que expone un centenar de lienzos colgados de sus balcones y elaborados por artistas de más de veinte países.

La muestra, titulada "Art al vent", forma parte del proyecto Russafa CulturaViva, promovido por las asociaciones vecinales y sociales Jarit y Sariri, que desde hace dos años organizan un Carnaval con diferentes actividades para fomentar la convivencia y los derechos sociales.

Esta exposición de arte urbano está compuesta por cerca de cien obras hechas con diversos materiales y técnicas -bordados, acrílicos y fotografía impresa, entre otros- sin temática predeterminada.

Según ha explicado a EFE el portavoz de la asociación Jarit, Sergi Almiñana, la finalidad de esta muestra es hacer una "relectura" de una tradición artística del municipio alicantino de Gata de Gorgos, que se inició colgando colchas en las viviendas de las calles por las que transcurrían las procesiones.

El éxito de esta propuesta exportó esta iniciativa a numerosas ciudades españolas, y también a otros países como Francia, Brasil, Alemania o Suecia, entre otros.

La exposición, que cuenta con la colaboración de los vecinos que han aceptado colgar las obras de sus balcones, se distribuye por diferentes calles del barrio, aunque el mayor número de lienzos se concentra en las calles de Cádiz y del Literato Azorín.

Además de esta exposición, Russafa CulturaViva pondrá en marcha el próximo jueves la iniciativa "Tapa y Copa Solidaria", un circuito de treinta bares y restaurantes que ofrecerán propuestas gastronómicas especiales a un determinado importe se destinará a fines sociales.

Los actos, entre los que figuran diferentes conciertos y talleres artísticos, culminarán el próximo 25 de febrero con un desfile de disfraces en el que participarán 50 grupos de música y baile.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs FC Barcelona 20:45

The Champions League round of 16 begins this evening with this game and Olimpique Lyonnaise taking on Apoel (from Cyprus if you didn't know already).

Monday, February 13, 2012

Arroz del Senyoret

This dish is called Arroz del Senyoret (señorito in Spanish) because it can be eaten without picking through fish bones, shells, or any of the other skeletal features of seafood. It's yet another typical rice dish from Valencia and usually called a seafood paella anywhere else but people here practically have a heart attack when you call something a paella that isn't a genuine paella valenciana (with chicken and rabbit).


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Side Trip to Granada

Granada is about a seven hour train ride from Valencia, rather slow for Spanish train standards but the scenery along the way is beautiful. It's like sailing across an ocean of olive trees. Granada is something you don't want to miss if you are traveling to Spain.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sunny and Cool

Compared to the rest of Europe Valencia is practically a tropical paradise but it still feels very cold. It looks like the cold will be with us for at least another week so break out the blankets and fire up the electric heaters. With low temperatures just around freezing I suppose that we have nothing to complain about...but I will. Spring and Fallas are just around the corner but knowing that doesn't help much.

This is the time to enjoy all of that great heavy food. Arroz al horno is one of my favorites when the temperature drops. Just having the oven on in the house helps. I should probably update this video but I still think this is a great recipe for this dish.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

British expats are happiest in Spain

Great article on

British expats are happiest in Spain, followed by Canada and Germany, according to new research which also examined their cost of living and financial well being. New Zealand ranks highest on quality of life and tax free United Arab Emirates rated as the best destination for expats’ financial prospects.
The survey by Lloyds TSB International also found that overall British expats are far happier in their adopted countries than in the UK.
Overall, 68% of those asked said that they felt happier where they were than in the UK, although for certain countries this figure was much higher. Spain ranked number one for expat happiness, with over three quarters, 75.9%, of Brits living there saying they are happier than back at home. Germany also rates highly on the happiness scale with 71% saying they are happier than in the UK.
The Antipodes were highly rated for quality of life, with 77% in Australia and 79% in New Zealand feeling their living standards are better. However despite this, these two countries were not as highly ranked for happiness, with 64.7% of expats in Australia and only 50% in New Zealand saying they were happier than in the UK suggesting that other factors exert an influence on expats’ general happiness.
Both countries rated poorly when judged by cost of living, with only 35% of those in Australia and 29% in New Zealand saying their living costs are lower than in the UK.
Financial well being is an important consideration for expats, and the UAE exceeds all other countries with 95% of expats saying they feel financially better off in the tax free emirates than in the UK. However, many expats view it as an expensive place to live with just 22% saying they have a lower cost of living than in the UK.
‘Much has been made of the gloomy economic outlook in Spain and the government’s austerity programme, but despite this stream of bad news, British expats think their financial prospects are better there than in the UK. But more importantly, it seems a good quality of life, perhaps including the sunny weather and the laidback Mediterranean lifestyle, are contributing to Spain’s place as number one for general happiness,’ said Nicholas Boys Smith of Lloyds TSB International.
‘These findings show that there is a real variety of decisions to be made when choosing where to emigrate. Expats who choose a country solely based on financial prospects may find they compromise on quality of life, or vice versa. Happiness is influenced by many different factors which need to be considered together. For example New Zealand was thought to have the best quality of life, but actually ranked lowest for overall happiness,’ he added.
France, which is also a favourite expat destination, fared only middling. Just 65% said they were happy there and 66.7% said they has a better quality of life and only 38.3% said they had a lower cost of living while 56.7% thought they were better off financially.
The United States was also middling. Some 62.4% said they were happier, 66.1% said they had a better quality of live, 61.2% said they had a lower cost of living and 62.4% said they were better off financially.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why Can't Valencia be More Like This City?

Copenhagen is a thoroughly bike-friendly city in spite of the fact that the weather there is terrible. Valencia has much better conditions yet we lag way behind.

Monday, February 6, 2012

One Semester of Spanish Love Song

Just because this is one of the funniest things I've ever found on the web:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Atlético de Madrid vs Valencia CF @ 21:30

After not winning a game in La Liga in January Valencia CF is looking to add three points this afternoon in Madrid. They played a great game on Wednesday to secure a draw with Barça in the Copa del Rey semifinals with the return scheduled again for this Wednesday in Camp Nou. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Valencia Oranges

We are up to our eyelids in oranges right now in Valencia and we need everyone to do their part to help local growers. Everyone must eat at least four oranges a day. The good news is that oranges are incredibly inexpensive right now with some as low as 1 Euro for three kilos of juice oranges.

These are the seasons for oranges here in Valencia:

CLEMENTINAS (Mandarinas)   A partir del 20 de octubre
CLEMENVILLAS (Mandarinas)   A partir de Enero
HERNANDINAS (Mandarinas)   A partir de Febrero
NAVELINAS (Naranjas)   A partir del 01 de Noviembre
 NAVELS (Naranjas)   A partir de Febrero  

NAVELATES (Naranjas)   A partir de Marzo

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Neighborhood Bar: A Spanish Institution

To go along with my Sunday meal I made a recipe that I stole from my new favorite bar in the neighborhood, Bar Casa Morrut, Calle Maestro José Serrano 4. Pepe makes some great food in this place and it’s very inexpensive.  One of my favorite tapas at his place is chicken livers fried in bay leaves and garlic.  I hadn’t eaten liver of any sort for a long time as I am the only person that I know who actually eats the stuff. Most of my friends here can’t even stand the smell of it cooking which is a shame because my butcher has wonderful liver, both pork and beef. The chicken livers I bought at the supermarket, higaditos y menudillos (little livers and giblets). I had to look up the word “menudillos” and then I had to look up “giblets” in English. From the online Oxford dictionary:

plural noun
  • the liver, heart, gizzard, and neck of a chicken or other fowl, usually removed before the bird is cooked, and often used to make gravy, stuffing, or soup.

·         Middle English (in the sense 'an inessential appendage', later 'garbage, offal'): from Old French gibelet 'game bird stew', probably from gibier 'birds or mammals hunted for sport'

I never knew. I thought "giblets" was something specific. In the case of the ones I bought from my supermarket they mean hearts. Now I know. "Mollejas" or gizzards are another item people cook with abundantly here in Spain.  All this is generally something most people in America throw away, although it’s more likely they never see it in the first place as it is removed before their chicken is neatly packaged in plastic. I have always been rather old-school in my eating habits and to say that I don’t shy away from strange foods would be an understatement. But it goes way beyond me trying to be macho; I actually like offal, as it is sometimes called.

Bar Casa Morrut Chicken Livers and Giblets

Simply fry the livers in hot olive oil with bay leaves, garlic, ad a pinch of salt. I threw in a finely chopped onion just because I had one on hand.  I made a sandwich with the liver on some amazing bread I buy at the local bakery, chapata con aceitunas y romero. If the French soup didn’t blow me away the simple sandwich certainly did the trick.

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