Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Algorithmic addresses

Traveling to Grand Junction Colorado we could not stop laughing at the system designed in the late 1800's by the founders of the city to give names to their streets and avenues. 
The founders decided they wanted a grid system to designate the names of the city's streets, with the markers of one part being the number of miles from the Utah border and the cross streets being the letters of the alphabet.

What happens is that you are driving and you're going to have an address that says A and 29 three-quarter roads. For another example, B and a half road or F and 7/8 road. It's a confusing system for those of us who can barely remember our friends and family members names, much less fractions.
Here's the history on how the odd fractions and alphabet system came into being, according to Wikipedia. Grand Junction's city founders wanted to have an orderly system, but they neglected to take into account that much of the land was already owned in orchards and farmlands and otherwise developed.
So what happened is they put their neat little grid over this patchwork of fields and farms and orchards, needing afterward to build roads to correspond with the grid. Here's the bump in the road, so to speak. Orchard owners and farmers were not on board with roads dividing up their lands and said to the engineers, "Forget it, you're not putting that road through my land."

By coincidence, during our vacation we have been listening to Daniel Pink read from his book Drive (not in a car, but as in motivation). My VP at NVC loaned me a print version of the book last year and i thought a refresher was in order. We have been learning about the differences between left and right brain thinking, or as Pink puts it, operating system 2.0 and 3.0.

They were the two different kind of tasks that he writes about, the first being algorithmic and the second heuristic, and he divides them into the left side of the brain and the right side of the brain. As a college professor what interested me is that Pink saya 70% of new jobs calling for heuristic thinking instead of the algorithmic kind required in the 20th century like accounting and even legal, which are now being outsourced to other countries, where they are done for less pay. 

So, going to Grand Junction was a timely example of how stubborn we humans are. We wanted to impose a grid system and we did just that, even though evidence showed that it would not really work, because people were unwilling to give up their private property for the nice neat grid that looked good on paper and crazy in reality.

So here we have that perfect example of human messiness coming up against human desire for order.  I admit its not practical, but it is unique. And what could be more colorful than saying to someone, "meet me at the corner of F and a half and G and 3/4?"

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's a big country and que Bonita es mi gente

Traveling makes you see life from another point of view, sometimes a weary one from sitting too long in a speeding vehicle of some kind, getting from home to someplace else, sometimes a surprised point of view as in a strange supermarket when a stranger sees you and recognizes you. 

I was shopping for tomatillos in the Lake Tahoe Safeway with my brother in law when a woman in her early forties interrupted our careful tomatillo picking to inquire how we would use them, explaining she never sees anyone in the store buying tomatillos. 

We started chatting about tomatillo ideas and she asked me if I am Hispanic, because of my accent. She explained she lived now in Seattle but had grown up in Deming, New Mexico. We talked about our mutual adoration of Hatch's chiles and I noticed her kind eyes and sunny complexion.

A brief encounter, but a memorable one because even in a strange places we find each other, the folks who have a history in common, or a nationality, often less than heritage, but simply a reverence in common the things that mark our places on the planet, our foods or nature's gifts, a majestic mountain range and its trees and streams.