Archive for April, 2007

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On Saturday, April 28th, the members of DC United will wear maroon colors, instead of their usual black and red, to honor Virginia Tech. Each of the 18 jerseys worn on Saturday will be autographed by the player who wore it and then auctioned off to benefit the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund.

Saturday’s game against the Columbus Crew kicks off at 7:30 p.m., and it will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet at 8:30 ET. DC United is off to a slow start at 0-2-0, so maybe this change will give them the boost they need.

The American Institute of Architects has announced the best examples of sustainable architecture and environmental design in the United States for 2007.

  • EpiCenter, Artists for Humanity, Boston, Massachusetts, by Arrowstreet Inc., which features a grassy courtyard irrigated by rainwater collected on the roof;
  • Global Ecology Research Center, Stanford, California, by EHDD Architects, a low-energy laboratory and office building that cut carbon emissions associated with building operation by 72 percent;
  • Government Canyon Visitor Center, Helotes, Texas, by Lake/Flato Architects, where big overhanging roofs, flaps and deep porches shield interior spaces from the sun and the building itself oriented toward the prevailing summer breeze;
  • Hawaii Gateway Energy Center, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, by Ferraro Choi and Associates, which has a cooling system that uses deep seawater;
  • Heifer International, Little Rock, Arkansas, by Polk Stanley Rowland Curzon Porter Architects, Ltd., where waste water from sinks and drinking fountains, along with rainwater, is reused in toilets and a cooling tower’
  • Sidwell Friends Middle School, Washington DC, by Kieran Timberlake Associates, which uses solar chimneys and windows to provide ventilation by drawing cool air into the building;
  • Wayne L. Morse U.S. Courthouse, Eugene, Oregon, by Morphosis & DLR Group, featuring raised courtrooms and an air distribution system under the floor;
  • Whitney Water Purification Facility, New Haven, Connecticut, by Steven Holl Architects, which provides water and includes a public park and sanctuary for migrating birds;
  • Willingboro Master Plan & Public Library, Willingboro, New Jersey, by Croxton Collaborative Architects, PC, where a former shopping mall was transformed with skylights to capture maximum daylight;
  • Z6 House, Santa Monica, California, by LivingHomes, Ray Kappe, a single-family residence that uses natural ventilation and optimizes passive solar heating.

Make it Rain

In the words of Fat Joe, “Make it Rain.” The Chinese government has announced plans to induce rain in Beijing in the days before the 2008 Olympics in an effort to clean the air. Scientists will use a process known as cloud-seeding, to clean the air and ensure clear skies. China has been tinkering with artificial rainmaking for decades, and in the past they have used artificial rainmaking in the northern part of China – the part that is plagued by drought.

Check out this article from yesterday’s Cavalier Daily. Student writer Nancy Chae explains how Easters weekend at UVA was one of the biggest party weekends on the east coast during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Students from other universities in Virginia and schools outside of the state would come to UVA and flood the campus with alcohol and debauchery. The grass field behind Madison Hall, “MadBowl,” was party central, and it often turned into a drunken mud pit. The event was so big and wild, UVA officials decided to cancel the event in the early 1980s. The year after Easters was canceled, Foxfield races became the new party destination for university students.

I was going to continually update the flavor of the week for each of the Klines Dairy Bars every week of the summer, but I decided that would be too much work. Instead I thought I would simply post the schedule through July 5. Enjoy!

Tonight at 7 pm, Harrisonburg’s City Council will discuss a motion to mandate a bike path to JMU’s campus. The proposed path will go through Sunchase Apartments, and Sunchase is trying to prevent the bike path. Rumor has it that Harrisonburg is contemplating condemning their property and proceeding with the implementation of the bike path.

The meeting is at the City Council Chambers at 409 South Main Street.

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Added on at 5:10pm…

Finnegan e-mailed me the link for the City Council’s agenda tonight, and I do not see any discussion of the Bike Path. I’ll admit that I was relying on an e-mail from a fellow JMU student for this post, and it looks like the Bike Path issue might have to wait for another day. Check out the Bike Path proposal from 2005.

For future reference the City Council posts their agendas and meeting summaries here.

North Carolina freshman Brandan Wright said Monday he plans to enter his name in this summer’s NBA draft. Wright doesn’t plan to sign with an agent yet, so there is a small possibility that he might withdraw his name from the draft. However, a return seems very unlikely because he has been projected as the #3 prospect in the draft behind Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.

This past season Wright averaged 14.7 ppg and 6.2 rpg, and he shot 64.6% from the field. He ended up as the ACC rookie of the year — marking the third straight season a Tar Heel had won the award.

NBA scouts like Wright’s length, versatility, and shot-blocking abilities. Wright is 6 foot 9, and his wingspan is well beyond 7 feet. I love Brandan Wright and I think he has tremendous potential, but I don’t think he will be an impact player next year like Oden and Durant. There are several areas of his game that still need improvement.

  • Free throw shooting (he barely shot 50% from the FT line last season)
  • Post defense
  • Ball handling
  • Outside shooting
  • Post moves

At UNC Brandan Wright was able to settle for short hook shots and dunks, but this type of game won’t cut it at the NBA level. NBA teams want tall, athletic guys that can take players off the dribble, shoot the three, and create their own shots — Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, and Tracy McGrady.

Honestly, I think that Wright would have benefited from another year under Roy Williams at UNC. He could work on his game without the NBA pressures, win a National Championship, and boost his stock to become the #1 pick in the 2008 Draft. I just hope that he doesn’t turn out to be another Marvin Williams (a.k.a. Professional Benchwarmer).

In my HTH 354: U.S. Health Care Systems class, my small group has been given the daunting task of reforming the U.S. Health Care System. Here are the following topics that we have to examine: Financing, Health Care Professionals, Primary Care, Health Care Technology, Long Term Care, and Vulnerable Populations.

The project has been very difficult for a number of reasons. First of all, our health care system is very complex and hard to understand. Secondly, there are several health problems that need to be addressed like access to quality health care, the number of uninsured people, the growing age of our society, and the need for long term care facilities. Furthermore, everyone has a different idea on how the system could be “fixed” (e.g. more government involvement, privatization of health care).

I’m not going to go into the various proposals that my group has discussed — I don’t want to bore you. Instead, I want to talk about the role of urban design in community health. I am a strong believer in the idea that a person’s environment strongly influences his/her lifestyle and behavior. If cities and counties in the U.S. focused on urban design principles I don’t think that we would see some of the health problems that currently plague our population.

Good urban design places emphasis on mixed-use, high density development, affordable housing, and pedestrian-friendly environments. So, how do these components affect community health?

  • Mixed-use: In a mixed use development you have homes, shops, offices, apartments, recreation, and institutional facilities located in the same area/region. This mix of uses is beneficial to community health because people can easily access doctor offices, pharmacies, and recreational facilities. People don’t have to travel as far to meet their daily needs, and this eliminates one of the barriers to quality health care — distance.
  • High Density: High density areas are beneficial because they encourage social interaction among neighbors. If an elderly person were to need assistance or medical help, he/she could find someone close by to help out. High density areas prevent the elderly from being isolated from the outside world, and this reduces the need long term care facilities such as retirement and assisted living homes. Elderly people can maintain their independence while knowing they have a friendly neighbor looking after them.
  • Affordable Housing: Sixteen percent of the population is uninsured. Many people do not have insurance because they are unemployed, their employers don’t offer health insurance, they don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, and/or they can’t afford private insurance. Affordable housing would help relieve the financial burden placed on people that don’t have health insurance. They could find an affordable home close to where they work.
  • Pedestrian Friendly: Pedestrian friendly environments are extremely important for community health because they allow people to easily access their daily needs and they give people exercise. Obesity is one of the biggest health issues in the U.S. right now, and if people could easily walk to their work, the corner store, or the movie theatre, I think we would see a significant decrease in obesity. Furthermore, I don’t want to say that all elderly people are bad drivers, but I think it’s safe to say that there are a lot of unsafe elderly drivers out there on our roads. Pedestrian friendly environments would allow the elderly to safely travel and exercise.

Health is more than the absence of illness and disease. A person’s health is a combination of his/her social, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. As our cities continue to grow and redevelop, it is important that we keep this holistic definition of health in mind.