Is JVH Prescient? Sadly No – Leonard Nimoy and Spock

A few days ago I published a blog quoting Star Trek’s Spock and relating it to Anagog’s app enabling drivers to find on street spaces. I’m speaking to the founder of Anagog early next week and will have my comeuppance.

Sadly news broke on Friday of the death of the man who gave life to Spock, Leonard Nimoy. I understand he had been ill for some time. Nevertheless it was a shock to all who grew up on Star Trek and the Enterprise’s enigmatic science officer.

I remember seeing the first couple of episodes when I was in college (We all stopped studying and went to the rec hall for an hour to watch this strange new program.) Nemoy portrayed Spock as a brittle, almost strident persona. However after a few weeks, it began to change.

Spock became more, dare it say it, human, or maybe, Vulcan. Most of the Vulcans we saw on Star Trek through the years were almost gentle. They were quiet, introspective, and perhaps a bit aloof, but certainly not rough and strident. I’m thinking that perhaps the adjustments made by Leonard Nimoy in his approach to his alter ego could have set a tone for an entire race to come.  Or maybe Gene Roddenberry threw a bucket of cold water on him. I prefer to believe the former.

Nimoy said that people throughout the years often treated him as if he were Spock. They would give him the “Live Long and Prosper”  “V” like hand salute and refer to him as Mr. Spock, not Mr. Nimoy.

He tells of a time he went of a tour of Cal Tech and PhD Physics students would ask his opinion of extremely complicated theories.  Wisely, he slowly nodded his head and said “You are on the right track.” He had no clue what they were talking about.

Few actors have so completely embodied a role. Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes) and Boris Karloff (Frankenstein’s Monster) come to mind but in their case, the character was well documented in literature. Spock became a cult figure all on it own.

Even more than his fellow cast members, Nimoy’s Spock embodied a uniqueness. He was very strong, could read minds, sort of, had an extremely fast memory, and that infuriating logic. What made him so unique, I think, was his human side. He fought it, hid it, and resented it. But it was there and pushed out when needed.

Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of Spock held firm through three seasons on TV in the late 1960s, through the movies (odd numbers bad, even numbers good), and on into the new generation of Star Trek, with Zachery Quinto playing his role as a young man.

Quinto and Nimoy became fast friends.  They did an Audi Commercial in which they raced to meet up at a country club to play golf.  Quinto in an Audi, Nimoy in a Mercedes. Of course Quinto won and made some off hand comment about “beat your again, old man.” At which point Nimoy caught Quinto’s shoulder in a Vulcan nerve pinch and the young man fell to the ground.  Spock will out.

We know more about the role he played than we do about the private man who played it. He was a very busy actor on TV, a photographer, a poet, played on the stage, and was a musician. But it was with Spock that the world identified him. His biracial character came through in his two autobiographies the first entitled “I Am Not Spock”  the second, published 20 years later, “I Am Spock.”

The character will live on. Unfortunately the man that played him cannot.

Leonard Nimoy, dead at 83. Rest in Peace

LLAP

JVH

 

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Pricey Parking

In Charleston, South Carolina, 50 parking spaces have been put up for sale for $98,000 apiece, reports wistv.com. According to the article, parking in the area is very tight, and 43 of the spots are already sold.

“You can’t get a loan on a parking space, so you have to come up with the cash,” Jennifer Davis of Domicile Real Estate Brokerage, says. “There’s so little parking in Charleston and to have your own spot is terrific.”

I’m curious as to how ownership of a parking spot is enforced. The article reports that the owner’s name will be painted on the space, but for the sake of privacy, I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I wouldn’t want to be identified as the guy who paid $98,000 for parking.

I know I’d buy a boat or a vacation home before I ever paid nearly $100k for a parking space, but it’s all hypothetical because I don’t have a extra $100k for any of those things at the moment. Still, I can be happy for the folks in a position to secure their parking comfort for themselves and their posterity.

Read the article here.

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Do we REALLY need on street parking?

OK, OK, I know — of course we need on street parking, particularly in place where there is no alternative. However, there are many places where parking is readily available, so…

Take my neighborhood. Every house has a driveway and a garage. 90% of the garages don’t hold cars, they hold virtually everything else. So the cars that would have been in those garages are on the street.  If, however, there was a limit on for on street parking, 3 or 4 hours for visitors, people would be forced to find alternatives, like cleaning out their garages or using their driveways.  A lot of the vehicular clutter in the neighborhood would go away.

What about neighborhoods had have on street permits?   I have a friend that lives in such an area. If you don’t have a permit you can’t park. Fair enough. But how many permits are issued? My friend lives in a building where her apartment has two spaces allocated in the garage for her car. She also has a permit on her car. So if she likes, she can park on street.

There are I think some apartments in the area with limited parking. I can see issuing folks in those buildings permits. Visitors are required to get a hangtag from their hosts and put it up on their car. (The host must apply for it in advance.  No drop ins in that neighborhood).

The reason for the on street permits is the huge shopping center nearby which charges its employees to park. Naturally they spill over into the neighborhoods and the on street permit program ensures that residents have a place to park. But what if they didn’t?

Houses in the neighborhood all have driveways and garages. Most of the apartments have off street parking. A  limit plus limited permits would handle the problem.

I know I know — shopping center employees would come over every three hours and move their cars…   There is always some fatal flaw.

This blog may seem silly, but there are cities that don’t allow overnight parking on street. If you are staying overnight, you have to make other arrangements. Once people get used to making arrangements in lieu of long term on street parking, apparently they do.

And the streets become broad avenues with plenty of room for traffic, much less blockage with people attempting to park, and the streetscape becomes eye candy.

My plan would require strict enforcement of on street parking. Citation revenue would skyrocket   – well maybe not but there would be revenue. And a lot of the clutter would be gone.

Go ahead, punch it full of holes, make my day!

JVH

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The Dog Ate My Homework, and 100 Other Excuses

The city of Harrisburg has a problem, people don’t like the parking program there.  Now there’s a unique statement. I’m sure this is the only spot where people don’t like parking programs. But reading the article Astrid picked up on Parknews.biz you would think the parking folks in Harrisburg were in grammar school and dealing with stern teachers. Read the article here.

As I understand it, the fact that there are improperly written parking tickets relate to modems not working, parking folks not setting their equipment properly, poor communications between enforcement officers and staff, plus a general breakdown of good PR between the parking operation and the citizens.

I note that on street parking in Harrisburg has been ‘purchased’ by an outside entity and is being run by a major parking operator. Fair enough.

If I discuss parking rules and regs and enforcement with some of the most successful municipal parking operations on the planet, they tell me that they focus first on customer service, then on the rest. Customer service is job one.

They feel that they are in a particularly difficult situation since the normal capitalistic self cleansing affect doesn’t work. There is no company standing in the wings to take over if a municipality does a poor job. They just keep doing a poor job.

So they must focus on keeping their customers happy. And the successful ones do.

This makes it even more difficult when a company takes over on a long term lease. Just where do the priorities lie? Normally a company tries to do a good job because if they don’t, they will lose something, business, a contract, employees, whatever.

Harrisburg is attempting to fix their PR problem by lowering prices. Hmmmmm. Who are the most respected companies you can think of   — Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Nordstroms…not really knows for low prices. But they are known for quality, service, and excellence.

When people in Harrisburg or anywhere else complain about parking, they complain about tickets, about lack of convenient parking, about surly enforcement staff and bureaucrats (see article). They seldom complain about the price of the parking.

They complain about the regulations being inflexible, about “parking Nazis”, about senior citizens being targeted, about tickets being written for the most minor infraction. One improperly written ticket does more harm than doubling the cost of parking downtown.

Municipal Parking Operations that focus on eliminating those problems have few complaints and fewer problems with citizens. They work with the citizens to ensure the rules are fair and fairly enforced. Maybe Harrisburg and municipalities like it need to take heed.

Oh yes, my dog didn’t eat my homework, but she did eat a $20 bill that slipped off my desk onto the floor. The cur left just enough so I couldn’t paste it back together and throw myself on the mercy of a bank teller. Sigh

JVH

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Star Trek and Anagog — I twist myself into a Pretzel with this one

In Star Trek IV, the Voyage Home, the Enterprise crew goes back in time to save the earth (and a pair of whales). Upon attempting to return to their proper century, Spoke is required to guess at the data needed. The dialogue reads like this:

Kirk: Mr. Spock, have you accounted for the variable mass of  whales and water in your time re-entry program?

Spock: Mr. Scott cannot give me exact figures, Admiral, so… I will make a guess.

Kirk: A guess? You, Spock? That’s extraordinary.

Spock: [to Dr. McCoy] I don’t think he understands.

McCoy: No, Spock. He means that he feels safer about your guesses than most other people’s facts.

Spock: Then you’re saying…

[pause]

Spock: It is a compliment?

McCoy: It is.

Spock: Ah. Then, I will try to make the best guess I can.

McCoy: Please do.

McCoy knows that Spoke will take a lifetime of knowledge, data, and skill and most likely come up with the right answer. Fair enough, but what the hell does this have to do with parking.

Anagog, and Israeli company, has developed a software program that uses a “best guess” to determine where parking spaces are open and where they will soon be open. They do this by using terabytes of data they have collected about parking habits across the globe. They combine that with other data that can affect parking (weather, time of day, day of week, holidays, local customs and events, etc) and can come up with a pretty close “best guess” to tell parkers where there are open spaces near their destination. They then give the parker ‘last mile’ turn by turn directions to get to the parking space. You can visit their web site here.

Anagog also supplies this service to other parking apps to enhance their capabilities. I know it all sounds a bit “Star Trekkie” but why not?  We are creatures of habit. We tend to do things the same way, time after time.  The more data you collect, the more accurate your predictions as to how someone, or group of people, will react or in this case, park. This manner of collecting information is called ‘crowd sourcing’ and seems to be gaining favor in the high tech community.

No in street sensors, no wifi data collection, no interfacing with city computers, but you still get good, reliable parking data. And the more its used, the more information collected, the better the end result.

I invite the folks at Anagog to drop me a line and clear up some of the ‘facts’ I made up above about their company. Sometimes I just get carried away.

JVH

PS — Another reference to our industry in Star Trek IV. Kirk and Crew landed their highjacked Klingon Bird of Prey in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and as they left to find whales, transparent aluminum, and some radioactivity for fuel, his last words to the three groups  was “Don’t forget where we parked.”

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Missoula Lets Residents Try Out New Meters

Every industry has its jargon. Some of it is easy to figure out, some of it is like an unbreakable code. I recently refinanced my mortgage and was, despite previous experience with the process, totally confounded by the words my agent kept using. Funding, subordinating, escrow – these are words whose absolute meaning, in the context of a loan, escape me. Call me stupid. They rattle off those words like I should know exactly what they’re talking about, and I just nod and sign papers.

The parking industry has its share of jargon. It also has an array of equipment that must seem so simple to its inventors and installers, but completely confuses everyone else – especially the first-time user. The leaders of Missoula, Montana want to take the guess work out of meter use for their residents. According to Missoulian.com, they’ve invited residents to a parking meter open house to try out different types of smart meters.

Three vendors will bring their single-space and multi-space meters and showcase the features of their hardware and software. The Parking Meter Open House will take place Tuesday, Feb. 24, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown, 200 S. Pattee St., in the Three Rivers Room.

The open house is part of a year-long series of meetings to help the city and it’s residents transition from outdated meters to the newest model. It sounds like a great idea to me. Those who attend will be able to fill out a questionnaire about their opinions of the various meters that the city will take into consideration as it selects equipment. Exposure is an excellent way to take the confusion out of industry offerings.

Read the article here.

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3M and its Parking Customers, a New Seminar added at PIE

We have had a number of requests to hold a seminar for the former parking customers of 3M. Their leaving the parking business has left a very large number of parking managers concerned. What to do?  How to do it? Panic? Not Panic? Many have a number of 3M (Federal APD) systems, how to transition into new equipment? What to look for? What are the pitfalls.

So we are adding a new seminar on Monday morning, specifically for former 3M customers. This will be for end users only, suppliers will not be admitted.  The discussion will be chaired by David Teed and Sarah Blouch, CEO and President of campusparc, the private entity that runs all the parking at The Ohio State University, and which has a large number of 3M systems that need to be addressed.

Campusparc has already begun a process of looking to transition from the 3M product line, and David and Sarah have agreed to share the process they are using with other 3M customers. This will be a completely generic conversation, discussing the process, not the end result. The type of equipment purchased, of course, will vary depending on the customer, the application and funding.

The Campusparc team will answer questions and facilitate discussion among those present.

After the seminar, the attendees will be exposed to nine revenue control vendors at three seminars held over the next two days, plus be able to meet with them and see the features and benefits of their products on the exhibit hall floor.

For more information and to register, got to pieshow.parkingtoday.com.

JVH

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Looking Ahead, PIE 2016 and 2017

Yes, The Parking Industry Exhibition will be held at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas on February 28-March 2, 2016. We are moving from our traditional venue to stretch our legs a bit and move to a bit more of a ‘party’ venue, since 2016 will be Parking Today’s 20th anniversary celebration. We will be beginning to talk it up after the PIE show next month in Chicago, culminating with a huge party in the city that means party.

We will be back in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare March 5-8, 2017. We like the Chicago Venue for many reasons. It’s easy to get to. You don’t need a car or shuttle from the airport (the hotel takes care of that.) The ability to hold the exhibition, seminars and networking events under the same roof means more time for conversations about parking. And its a three hour flight or less from almost everywhere in the US, rather than requiring those on the west coast to sit five hours on a plane to get to say, Miami.

See you next month in Chicago — March 29-April 1 2015 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. Get all the info at pieshow.parkingtoday.com.

 

 

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Hoboken Contemplates New Parking Measures

Parking in Hoboken will soon be a whole new ball game, according to nj.com. The website reports this small, congested city has tight streets and limited parking options, but that’s going to change. City leaders are considering some measures to improve parking in Mile Square City.

Here are six changes on the table:

1. New parking meters
2. Higher penalties
3. Pay by phone option
4. Valet parking
5. Wayfinding system
6. New garages

I, too, live in a small town with tough parking, and I like all of these ideas, but I have my favorites. The latest increase in parking meter fees brought the cost up to $1.50 per hour. It’s not an extravagant amount by any means, and I’m not complaining about the total. It’s the number of quarters required to reach that amount that I object to. I think there should be a top limit to what you can charge without offering a credit card payment option. So, I think new meters are great, and I hope they are of the most intelligent kind.

Higher penalties is my other favorite. I don’t want to pay them, but I don’t want to pay any penalties, so I follow the rules. There are plenty of people who don’t, and I think it only fair that they pay a higher price for their behavior. Between the inconvenience they cause the rest of us and the price of enforcement, I say higher fees are completely reasonable.

I wish Hoboken all the best in its deliberations and eventual implementations.

Read the article here.

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Parking Program Helps Scofflaws Come Clean

During 2013, the University of Oregon parking enforcement team issued more than 15,000 tickets and received payment for all but 6,000, reports dailyemerald.com.

The fee for those unpaid tickets doubles after 30 days. Because of the high number of unpaid tickets and the high price multiple offenders face to clear their fees, the university has created an “amnesty” program for parking offenders. During February, anyone with an unpaid ticket can pay fines at the original rate.

To qualify for the amnesty program, the citation must have been issued before Jan. 1, 2014, and the vehicle cannot be registered in the university parking system.

Without this new program, the parking and transportation department could potentially receive an additional $300,000.

After applying this program, that amount could drop to $175,000 in total.

“We’d rather collect a small amount than not collect anything at all,” says Gwen Bolden, director of parking and transportation department..

I think this is an very generous offer from the university. Sure, they’ll be losing some money, but compare that to the cost of administrating the thousands of unpaid parking tickets still in circulation, and it might be a sensible exchange. Some people procrastinate paying fines – out of rebellion, poverty and a hundred other things – and that’s only exacerbated when the fine increases in a way that seems arbitrary to the offender. This program gives those people a chance to settle up.

Read the article here.

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