Friday, June 23, 2017

Wiener Sausage: The Podcast! Episode #3 Part 2 Show Notes: Talking Physics, Sausages, and Geopolitical Destruction with Peter Sullivan!

PictureIs that sausage The Fat Boy is making?
0:00 - A word from our sponsor, Wendy's. "Where's the Beef?"
0:45 - We introduce our interview guest for the show, Peter Sullivan, Dan Sullivan's dad and a financial backer/spiritual guru for Wiener Sausage: The Musical! Everyone agrees that we're exhausted because none of us went to bed early the night before and neither the hosts nor the guest are morning people.
3:00 - We learn that, in the Wiener era, Peter was watching his children become "responsible citizens."
5:30 - As we've entered into Trump's unreal world of reality, we discuss how war and sex has transformed in the decade since the musical was produced in Washington D.C. It's interesting to see the Russian cold war kicking back into full gear.
8:15 - Peter reflects on how many of the wars throughout history have been over resources, and that "renewables" was a forward-thinking theme within Wiener Sausage's plotline since wind and solar power have begun to play a major role as energy sources. Dan establishes that co-host Paul Mackie is "an environmentalist."
12:30 - In the last episode, we talked all about Star Wars. This is a nice segue to a conversation with Peter about the "Star Wars" missile-defense system he worked on under the Reagan administration. He worked on policy issues and was in no way a mad scientist like our lead evil character in Wiener Sausage, Professor Dr. Schmock.
​17:30 - The good new: "The Fat Boy" in North Korea's missiles are still "lower-threat" missile systems and we and the Israelis can be pretty successful at this point in stemming any attacks.
19:30 - The other good news: We probably have never truly developed a doomsday device to destroy the world!
20:40 - Fun fact! Russia can't get Alcoholic Anonymous to work.
24:00 - Dan eloquently waxes on how the writing of our musical was the result of the new dangers felt throughout the country in the wake of the 9/11 years. We dealt with this national struggle with comedy.
27:00 - Peter, in true guru form, says, "The best things in life are a good laugh and a good physic." Look that one up! Aaaaaaaaand this episode returns from its deep political discussion to its scatological roots.
30:00 - Or perhaps politics and sausage are exactly what this show is about. We're still figuring it out, but Peter does an excellent job at helping summarize and lead us into whatever that future may be.
34:00 - Paul and Dan struggle to figure out a great way to "take us out."

Wiener Sausage: The Podcast! Episode #3 Part 1 Show Notes: Parents - Don't Allow Your Children to Collect Star Wars Action Figures

The latest episode of Wiener Sausage: The Podcast! is now upon us. This is how it unfolds:
1:00 - A hot heatwave overtakes the early-Sunday-morning minds of our co-hosts Dan Sullivan and Paul Mackie.
2:00 - Nevertheless, the high standards of podcast recording are not compromised. And somehow our hosts connect the Wiener Sausage Theorem with the algorithms of Garageband.
3:30 - The topic of discussion for this episode is Stars Wars stuff. Also, can Star Wars and Wiener Sausage fans be aligned? Considering the fact that Dan and Paul once walked out midway through a Star Wars movie, perhaps not. But granted, they did walk out at the line, "Hold me like you held me on the plains of Naboo."
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The plains of Naboo
6:35 - Stars Wars is in the news these days, even though there is no brand new movie being released. Sillof is an artist who is modifying Star Wars action figures to be sort of half Star Wars/half whatever the characters were influenced by. Weird, but cool and interesting. Perhaps Dan can collect them since his parents wouldn't allow him to collect the original figures (WTF?).
10:00 - Also in Star Wars news, Rancho Obi-Wan in Northern California is seeing thefts of its memorabilia, and it turns out it's the owner's friend who is stealing the goods, such as a Boba Fett action figure. Dan becomes very concerned about catching the thief, Carl Edward Cunningham.
12:30 - A message from a corporation that may or may not be one of the show's sponsors: Kiva Maqui Berry Powder. Dan and Paul are unsure what the product is, but it may be snortable and/or a supplement.
17:00 - A break at the end of part 1 of this episode prepares listeners for an interview in part 2 with Peter Sullivan, a key backer of Wiener Sausage: The Musical! back in 2008.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Wiener Sausage: The Podcast! Episode #2 dives deeper into the Wiener Sausage mysteries

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Yes, we made it back for a second episode.

​These things can never be taken for granted. But again, we think we're finding our groove ... with the help of another excellent guest, Sean Felix, who was a star of the 2008 D.C. production of our Wiener Sausage: the Musical!

3:00 - Dan and Paul discuss who the audience for this podcast might be. The decision: it will help listeners escape reality, much like how dingy taverns helped us do so back when we were in our 20s. Also touched upon: does drinking alcohol help or hurt creativity? The science seems to still be out. But one thing is sure, it's a lot harder to howl at the moon without alcohol!

​7:00 - A word from our sponsor, June Weenie's Self Defense Academy, leads us into a special reading of a never-before-heard extra scene from Wiener Sausage: The Musical!, read by Dan, Paul, and guest Sean. Continuing the tradition, as reviewed by the Washington Post, as "tasteless yet popular." Your job as the listener? Relax, and learn.

12:30 - A word from another one of our sponsors: Prana Bridger jeans. The perfect pants for Kevin Costner.

16:00 - Introducing Sean Felix, who played a character whose name neither one of the playwrights seem to remember. We think; however, that it was Professor Dr. Ewing/Uwe Schmock. Sean reveals that he was drifting around in life until the role came about and he found more purpose.

21:30 - Sean describes what Wiener Sausage: The Musical! is all about, in under a minute. And what does the musical have to do with what we're now trying to do with this podcast/radio show? The musical was insane and so were the times, politically and socially. Nothing much has changed, so this podcast may just be very right for the times.

26:45 - Sean is now a teacher with a family in Hyattsville, Maryland. He reads lots of comic books, and among his favorites is Black Hammer, plus a book called Countdown that is great for teaching kids about the Cold War.

​31:45 - The words for the week. "Sometimes it's OK to pull the covers over your head."

Friday, May 19, 2017

Announcing the debut of Wiener Sausage: The Podcast!

We have a new accompanying website and will be loading our weekly soirees on YouTube until we enter the big leagues of the iTunes Podcast Store in a few weeks.

Check out episode #1's show notes and listen here.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Should delivery robots be allowed on sidewalks?

I'm quoted today by the San Francisco Chronicle (and MSN, Market Watch, Government Technology, and others; also subsequently quoted two days later by CityLab) on a topic I've discussed before representing Mobility Lab: should delivery robots be allowed on city sidewalks?

San Francisco, of all places, is considering such a ban. While better city planning in most places is needed to examine the best ways these R2D2s can be helpful and not a nuisance, they also could be an answer to the growing army of Amazon and UPS and other bigger delivery vehicles that more and more constantly block my bicycle path and can make traffic jams much worse.

Here's what I said:
A San Francisco ban is a bad idea, said Paul Mackie, a spokesman for Virginia’s Mobility Lab, which researches advanced transportation.
“The space-saving R2D2s could fix a lot of our traffic headaches caused by the ever-growing number of delivery vans and trucks that have to park illegally and dangerously to make their dropoffs,” he said in an email. “It doesn’t make any sense for San Francisco leaders to be going backwards like this.” 
So far, three cities — San Carlos, Redwood City and Washington — have approved robot deliveries, Mackie said. Virginia and Idaho also allow them, and Wisconsin has passed legislation now awaiting the governor’s signature to allow delivery robots to use sidewalks and crosswalks.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Best Magazine Reads: GQ nails why Federer is awesome, but not my favorite tennis player

Over the years, I've come to appreciate Roger Federer's steely perfection, his Switzerland-ness, if you will.

But he's still not my favorite player.

He's awesome to behold, but in reality, you always know you're going to get the exact same forehands, the perfect one-hand backhand, the same serve percentage, and the same extraordinary-human courteous post-match interviews.

John McEnroe might be my favorite athlete, not just tennis player. I've loved watching Gustavo Kuerten and Raphael Nadal.

So GQ's April cover story on Federer summed it up for me:
Friends of mine, hitting partners, are Federer fans for real. They own his racket, his sneakers, the hat with his RF logo. When he loses, they're wrecked; when he wins, it's only slightly less painful, because it's one fewer win they get to witness. Federer fans admire not only the game but the gestalt, what he represents. Integrity. Class. Flawlessness on and off the court. Whereas my problem's always been with that same idea of perfection, the absence of blemishes. As a fan, I need some grit to grab. More for me are Andy Murray's self-defeatism, Stan Wawrinka's sourness, Nadal's nervous mannerisms. Basically, men who are capable of tragic mistakes, who demonstrate, physically and noisily, what it takes to beat back their own worst tendencies—or, just as often, fail in trying. And then there's a side of my vanity—and I'm not proud to say this here—that's occasionally thought that being a Federer fan is just too easy. 
What is Roger Federer? Roger Federer: is Swiss. Very normal, laughs a lot. On some level he's a product of the '90s—he used to have bleached hair, he had posters in his bedroom of Shaq, Michael Jordan, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker. (Also Pamela Anderson. “I remember that one,” he said, chuckling. “She was on my door.”) He's polite, he's fastidious. He's a family man who loves movies. In private he's goofy, earnest about his interests, and he seriously doesn't mind getting excited when he tells a story. Basically, Roger Federer is kind of a dork, in the very best sense. 
“You don't want to give anything away to your opponent. I used to do that all the time when I was little. Throwing rackets, shouting, all that stuff. You give an edge to your opponent if you do that. Eventually, you develop your demeanor. Rafa has his tics. Stan has his look. I have my look. You become this shield.”
It's a good, quick read beyond that. And that photo of those hairy-man legs is almost downright shocking.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Will growth of shared mobility make people more willing to share their own cars?

This originally appeared at Mobility Lab.
As many as 95 percent of trips in big cities could be shared with no more than a 5-minute inconvenience for riders, according to a recent report co-authored by Carlo Ratti of MIT’s SENSEable City Lab.
Back in 2010, the Albany Times Union did some interesting reporting to delve into why New York State residents seemed incapable adopting a sharing mindset when it comes to driving. (Granted, 2010 was before the Uber craze, but even that kind of ride-hailing more often has a taxi feel than a carpooling one.) The paper’s own surveying found very few people carpooling and this articlegives a range of the unlimited excuses people can make for their lack of enthusiasm about sharing.
In conversations about mobility these days, sharing is understood as a necessary part of the solution for fixing overwhelming demand on transportation systems. Even (and especially) car companies are beginning to lean heavily on shared rides or shared vehicles as an important component in their future share of the transportation market.
While one kind of shared mobility question may still remain – will people eventually grow accustomed to sharing their private vehicles? – sharing a common, company-owned vehicle does seem to have a growing place.
Walter Rosenkrantz, ‎senior business-development manager at car2go, itself owned by German automaker Daimler, spoke at the Association for Commuter Transportation’s Public Policy Summitlast week in Washington, D.C. (which Mobility Lab co-sponsored).
“Carsharing has exploded. It’s kind of here to stay. The more there is out there, the more personal vehicles are going to be shared. Pretty soon it’s not going to make sense to have a car. It’s just going to be easier to get around without a car, so why have one?”
The numbers indeed look impressive. Car2go’s membership surpassed 2 million in 2016. But looking more closely, those are global numbers, and people in the U.S. haven’t always behaved like those in other countries, especially when it comes to transportation. In fact, carsharing revenue in North America is expected to drop – given faster growth in international markets – to just 23 percent of the global total by 2024. And numbers for projected U.S. growth in carsharing can be difficult to come by.
Further, think anecdotally. When I have conversations with residents of the D.C. region and mention the concept of sharing – even in a place as traffic-clogged as the nation’s capital, where there are tons of alternatives to driving alone – I get blank stares. They may as well be saying to me, “I spent $30,000 for my nice car, why would I let someone else tag along on my commute?”
Surprisingly, it appears we have little understanding regarding the fundamental question of whether or not people are even willing to share their own vehicles in the first place.
And if people are willing to share, is that number going up or down? Does “shared mobility” include being in a small, non-transit vehicle with strangers? The pieces of the sharing economy and shared mobility that are working fabulously – AirBnB for home rentals, bikesharing – are not shared at the same time but rather used continuously.
“I’m not sure people think about their transportation [as shared resources]” said the Shared-Use Mobility Center’s Sharon Feigon, who also presented at ACT’s conference. “People join carsharing programs when their car is broken down, they have a major break up [in a relationship], or have just moved to a new city. They try it as temporary thing and it ends up working for them.”
She’s right: it often takes a major life change to get people to think about not just sharing, but the overall way that they move around.  A brief survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers found that, in 2015, only 44 percent of U.S. adults were familiar with the sharing economy. More specifically:
According to our data, 8 percent of all adults have participated in some form of automotive sharing. 1 percent have served as providers under this new model, chauffeuring passengers around or loaning out their car by the hour, day or week. Of all the categories we examined, this is the one in which consumers would most like to see the sharing economy succeed.
Today, many people simply don’t share their vehicles, for any number of reasons, despite the emergence of some rental-like services like GetAround. But there is hope, because even though nobody wants to share their cars, they all want other people to share their cars.
“Unless you raise parking prices or make it prohibitively difficult to drive, you can’t change the balance,” Feigon added. “[The Shared-Use Mobility Center is] not fixated on whether people do or don’t like to share. There is something healthy about it, given the rise of [sprawl- and auto-driven] loneliness, and land use that promotes pedestrian activity is inherently social and also involves physical activity. Setting up the conditions for that is really good.
“In my own experiences, taking the train, I catch up with people I know. And you don’t have to deal with anybody if you don’t want to. [Taking transit or sharing] can make you more accepting of different kinds of people,” she said.
Other than focusing on people who are making major life changes, one demographic Feigon suggested could be ripe for more sharing is women with school-age children, who drive the most of any category of people and make lots of short trips that conflict with the poor ways we’ve designed our communities.
“That was not the biggest category of drivers 50 years ago,” she laughed.
We often hear how technology alone won’t change behavior; rather, it takes true willingness of people. But with getting people to share, technology may currently be a helpful motivator.
Along with that hope, it’s a safe bet that more research about the willingness of people to share and, specifically, what could make them share seats in their own cars, is equally critical.
Photo, top: car2go cars parked outside of a light rail station in Austin, Texas (Lars Plougmann, Flickr, Creative Commons).