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I’m Stunned and Gratified

Marcy and Kelley are reporting that we are nearing 600 attendees at PIE 2021. Yes, you read right. Nearly 600 people have pre-registered for our Parking Industry Exhibition to be held in Mid-July in Dallas. We have also heard from numerous parking pros that they are planning to attend, and the hotel has told us that rooms are going fast.

We are about 100 days out from the event and remember, we get the majority of our attendees in the last month. I can’t predict just how big this show will be, but frankly, if history is any telling point, it will be the largest we have ever had. Let’s face it, people are tired of zoom, they are tired of sitting home, they are looking for face to face meetings. And those meeting are happening in Dallas in July.

Start making you plans now, and get those registrations in. Simply log on to pieshow.parkingtoday.com and all the info is there.

Thank you in advance. The parking industry is back.


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Face to Face in OZ

Our friends in OZ are opening up and actually going back to work. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Dell’s operations in Australia are welcoming their employees back into the office and the workers are loving it.

It seems that people who have been locked out of their offices for the past year have been looking forward to actually face to face meetings. You can’t do the same job over zoom and these folks know it.

There is no substitution for creativity around the water cooler, or actually seeing how someone reacts to your comment, good or bad. I note that in our office, people sometimes tend to hang out in other offices, discussing issues, making decisions, and frankly gossiping.

A lot of information flows with this face to face informal meetings. The folks at Dell in Australia are finding that as life gets back to ‘normal’ creativity and productivity works best face to face.


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The Subject is Fear

I walk every afternoon with my neighbor and dog GIGI. We make a circuit around the neighborhood and see a number of folks doing the same thing. Some, we know and stop and chat and let the dogs sniff each other and perhaps even become involved in a ‘how are you’ barking match. The rule in our neighborhood is “no blood, no foul.”

What I have noticed lately is that a number of people see us (and others) coming up the sidewalk and quickly leap into the street so as not to come into close contact with us. Often these are elderly, and I can understand some reluctance, although many of the folks we talk to are getting on a tad.

What concerned me are the young folks in their 20s and 30s who seem to run away, afraid of…well what?

I told a colleague the other day that I didn’t have any real fear. Of course I was wrong. I’m afraid of snakes, heights, and perhaps of someone lurking behind a bush, nature has caused ‘fight or flight’ to kick in when appropriate. When I was young I was invincible. I was going to live forever and nothing was going to stop me.

As I reread the last sentence, I realize that fear is connected to death.  I’m afraid because, as the emperor said in Star Wars, “I will surly die.” The point is of course I will die. Everyone dies, it’s only a case of when, not if. Do I want to die now? Of course not. I have things to do.

Those men and women who go to fight in wars know they take a risk. They know that it is possible that they will die. I’m sure there is some trepidation. But they overcome that fear knowing that there are important things to be done.

I wonder sometimes if the young people of today have difficulty with fear because they don’t have important things to be done. Their lives are so full of ‘social media’ and “spring break” that they lose sight of important things like honoring their parents, or reflecting on the wonders of the universe, or even accepting their neighbors for who they are. They forget that we have things like honor, and freedom, and love – to fight for and protect. Or maybe the fear grips them because they do forget those things.


I have read and reread the recommendations of my state health department about wearing masks and socializing outside, in fresh air, whilst and at the same time keeping social distances. There is no, repeat NO restriction in meeting and talking to folks outside as long as you social distance, and I note that now that social distance is down to 3 feet, although we all keep a minimum of six feet apart.

What has Covid done to so many of our young adults? Has a virus that has less than .15% chance of causing your death frightened them so much that they cannot bring themselves to socialize, even taking proper precautions? Trust me, I have first hand knowledge that good ole flu can be deadly. But we didn’t shrink from our family, friends and neighbors. Just what is this fear all about?

What have we allowed to happen to ourselves? We have kept our schools closed even though our kids are the least likely to come down with a case of Covid. We have destroyed our businesses over forced lockdowns and inconsistent rules – OK at Costco, but not at the Barber – all due to fear.

My concern is ‘will it stop.’

These fearful folks have it so ingrained in them who will that believe what the pandemic is over. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal this morning that said that we basically have herd immunity NOW. That means its over NOW.

How are we going to communicate to people who live in fear. People who wear masks in their cars, or in their homes, or while running or riding a bicycle. People who run out into the street rather than share the sidewalk. People who are simply afraid of one another.

I’m open to suggestions.



Actually Going Inside a Restaurant          

For those of you living in more advanced societies, like Florida, Texas, Arizona, or Nevada, this may be a bit over the top, but actually going inside to eat in a restaurant is something new here in California.

Last week I actually parked, walked in, and sat inside a restaurant. Not in the patio, not in a tent nearby, not out in the cold breeze, but inside. I was able to take off my mask, drink an adult beverage, and order a steak with a baked potato, and all the trimmings.

My friend and I were able to sit and discuss the trials and tribulations of the parking industry, we sipped our single malts as others around us laughed and simply enjoyed the freedom of actually eating as we had, you know, before.

Yes, the heat placed on our governor by the threat of a recall has forced what some call the great unhunkering. Before we were hunkering down, now not quite so much.

I decided to double down on Friday, after receiving my booster CV shot, and went to a deli nearby. The pastrami on rye, with cole slaw and potato salad was heavenly. People were laughing and talking. We had all forgotten how much we had missed.

I remember telling friends that I felt that we were getting back to normal. Just seeing other people, maskless. You could actually see their smiles and you could acknowledge each other. What fun.

Although we may still have masks at PIE 2021 in Dallas, I look forward to seeing you all at the first true opening of the parking industry.


By the way – note that I said “parked” – There were attendants, gates, tickets to be pulled, and yes, validations. We’re Baaaaaak.

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Just because you can

Robyn got a new car. It’s a Mini Cooper.

Back in the day, I drove a Mini Cooper. In the UK. I could barely fit into it. It was like a clown car at the circus. It had an engine, four wheels, and seats for four, but two of the four had to be under five years old to fit. It got you where you wanted to go.

This new Mini Cooper is a wonder of modern technology. It took me ten minutes to figure out how to get it into reverse. There are displays on the dash that provide information about things I have no clue what they do. If you leave the display alone, it automatically becomes a clock face that is about 10 inches across. I’m sure you can set it to become whatever you want, but I can guarantee you it will remain an analog clock on this one.

We have studied the users manual but still can’t find the buttons that are supposed to be synced to the garage door opener. They absolutely are not where they say they are supposed to be, dammit.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a fun car to drive and certainly has enough zip to get you where you want to go (it’s a turbo, don’t you know). Robyn really likes it.

The point is, that much of the technology on board is there because someone in Germany (Its owned by BMW now) decided that it was good to have tech. So we have tech. My problem is that when there is more there, there is more to go wrong. And of course, who can fix it when it breaks. Probably the 14 year old kid down the street who hacks into the Pentagon in his spare time.

Granted this is the first new car we have purchased in over decade so I’m certain that the tech revolution isn’t only in the Mini. Every new car is consumed with it. Even my 17 year old Lexus has to be connected to a computer so the service tech can see what’s wrong and then attempt to fix it.

By the way, the car was most likely built in the Netherlands, but maybe in a factory in Oxford, England.

I pulled the Mini into the garage one evening and got out. I looked down at my feet and saw a three foot long Mini logo projected on the ground. After a few seconds, it faded away.

What was that all about?


There is a billboard down the street that says: “Inspired in Silicon Valley, Built in Germany” Its for Audi. Tech, Tech, Tech.

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We’re Back — Live and in Person

I was in Las Vegas last week and the city was abuzz with the news that the World of Concrete would be held in early June at the city’s convention center. The in-person convention is expected to bring more than 50,000 people to the gambling mecca. The city’s mayor, the Nevada Governor, and various commenters on the event, including bartenders, cab drivers, and restaurant employees were truly ecstatic over the announcement.

This means that in person events are back on track. The organizers of World of Concrete are among the largest of such organizations and do not take major risks. They are confident that the pent up demand for meetings will bring out attendees and make the event a grand success. More than two dozen like events are scheduled between now and late fall in Las Vegas.

Every day brings news that the Pandemic is on the run. New vaccines are being approved, shots in shoulders are running well ahead of schedule, cases in Southern California, for example are down 30% over just two weeks ago, and passenger processing reported by the TSA are logging in at more than 1.3 million a day, well above previous numbers. Schools are reopening and the CDC has announced that social distancing guidelines are now set at 3 feet rather than six.

Incredibly, the usual naysayers in the mainstream media are falling all over themselves to report good news, and the populace is reacting positively to it.

The fear that has gripped the country for the past year is lessening and people are realizing that they can return to their normal lives and they are doing so. It may not be time yet to throw masks to the wind and stop washing our hands, but it is certainly time to realize that the microscopic critters that have held us at bay so long are truly in the rear-view mirror.


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That’s What Freedom is all About

A couple of days ago I wrote a piece about “The New Normal” and in one prepositional phrase, mentioned rolling one’s eyes when the topic of masks came up. I pushed at least one button. My buddy Tony Jordan from Portland wrote a response and I thought it deserved the light of day. Here goes:

  • Tony Jordan says:

March 15, 2021 at 4:08 pm

“ How many people have told you or rolled their eyes when the topic of masks comes up?”

It’s one thing to be tired of the sacrifices we’ve made to try to save the lives of others. It’s another to be in direct contempt of basic and simple strategies we can take to make it over the finish line. Call it a bubble I’m in, but I don’t know many people who would “roll their eyes” when the topic of masks comes up.

Well, Tony, you pushed a button too. Here’s what Janie had to say in response:


  • Janie says:

March 15, 2021 at 4:39 pm

Very sad to see how people still live in a bubble and don’t see their freedoms infringed upon with the mask guideline and mandates in private businesses simply to carry on with their life’s necessities, which they all are to be frank. Are these people self centered psychopaths that want to feel some sort of power by dictating over someone elses choice?

Constitutionally, we have the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Life encompasses the ability to breath to live, to buy groceries, eat out, buy clothes, obtain medical attention, and to go to banks to access our personal savings to be able to purchase those items and our shelter. Humans have basic needs: food, water, shelter and safety. So why must anyone have to demonstrate or respond to anyone forcing them to wear a face covering to conduct those basic things to live?

Why are people thinking that it’s okay to deprive someone of their basic right to live because they should comply to a mask guideline since someone else made that choice? And if you choose to wear a face covering, why does it have to meet the someone elses standard? I’ve personally been exposed to discrimination while trying to resource basic human needs while wearing a face shield. At what point does this end?

I think these two responses make a very important point. We have been locked down for so long, that we live in state imposed bubbles and really find it difficult to live our lives. Tony seems to  believe that if the states says it, we should do it. Janie takes the diametrically opposed position. Just because the state tells us what to do, we should not simply follow blindly, but at a minimum question the process.

Wow. Strange how one little phrase in a blog can rub against so many grains. But then, that’s what freedom is all about.



Parking Minimums and No Parking At All

The City of New Haven, supported by the city Parking Authority, is moving down the path of removing parking minimum for new construction. The Parking Authority sees this as a boon to its empty garages. Lots of construction with no parking would mean cars that have to park somewhere, as in the Authority’s garages.

The City of Seattle has an election for mayor coming up and one candidate is running on a ticket of no cars at all in Seattle. He is pro bike, transit and foot. He wants to defund the police, too.

You can read all about this over at Parknews.biz.

As for New Haven, I have been always in favor of doing away with parking minimums. They make no sense, increase the cost of building, and frankly discriminate against those who don’t own cars. Let the developer decide whether or not parking is needed and how much. If they feel that their project would be more saleable with more parking so be it. Let the renters pay more for units with parking, if they need it. Don Shoup call your office.

As for the Emerald City, l believe that if you want to get people to walk everywhere, you need to turn your city into Manhattan. Build hundreds of high rise apartment buildings and people will move into them and then get jobs nearby. You probably will need a city-wide rapid transit system because not all jobs will be within walking distance (or biking) of the available housing. But these are details I’m sure the prospective mayor has worked out.

Once again some bureaucrat wants to force people out of their cars to save the planet. I really think that you might ask people first what they think about it. Do they really want to do away with their cars? If so, why aren’t they lining up to pay for apartments in the central city. Is it possible they like living in the burbs and are willing to pay the price of the commute? If they are so damned concerned about saving the planet, why are only 2% of vehicles on the road EVs?

I suggest that when you begin a campaign to force people off the road, you will have a real problem on your hands. Why not attempt to make nondriving more attractive? Make the cities safer, cleaner, more fun? Oh, I forgot, we are defunding the police. That has been proven to make cities safe. Right!


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The Crystal Ball – The New Normal – Balderdash

The New Normal. Changes we see now will be permanent. Business travel will always be down. Work from home will be permanent. It’s the New Normal.

Major business decisions are being made based on the New Normal. For some reason, organizations are not taking human nature into account when making decisions, and they do so at their peril.

Human beings naturally are drawn to one another. Much of the pain during the pandemic lock downs has be the fact that we have been unable to meet face to face, to touch, to love, to disagree, to argue, to smile, to frown, to interact and then get on with it.

Decision makers seem to think that we will never get back to normal. I don’t understand that at all. There is not a hint that we won’t go back. Not one. In fact it is to the contrary.

Las Vegas is a prime example. The state recently opened casinos and restaurants from 35% occupancy to 50%, and the city was jammed even the day before the announcement became effective. People were wanting to get back to normal. Los Angeles restaurants, for so long restricted to take out, then outdoor dining, and now indoor dining, are overwhelmed with reservations. People want to get back to normal.

Although the stimulus bill that passed congress and signed by the president was welcomed by some, many economists are saying it was unnecessary. The economy is already starting to rebound, and as the vaccines and openings take effect over the next few months, it is expected to boom.

People will do whatever it takes to get back to normal, to get back to school, to get back to ball games, to get back to parties, to get back to well, normal. Humans are tired of the restrictions, the lock downs, the karens. They will get back to normal, and it will look like is was in 2019.

Think about it. How many people have told you that they are sick of ‘zoom’ calls? How many people have told you that they are tired of working from home? How many people have told you or rolled their eyes when the topic of masks comes up? How many people have told you they want to see their grandparents, or their grand children, or their aged parents?

Technology ‘experts’ are the ones swinging for the ‘new’ normal. And lets face it, their predictions are often self serving. For instance, Shira Ovide, writing in the New York Times, notes:

But like all of us, technologists have blind spots and biases. They can misjudge or opine on topics that they don’t really understand. And humans are not always good at understanding humans.

The problem, I fear, is that we too often associate running an innovative company with an ability to predict the future. And that can have real consequences if we build policy and our lives around what they say.

One of the most glaring examples was Uber’s proclamations that it would help alleviate traffic and pollution in major metropolitan areas and reduce the number of cars in the United States. In 2015, Uber’s co-founder Travis Kalanick described the future of his company: “Fewer cars, less congestion, more parking, less pollution and creating thousands of jobs.”

Research now shows that Uber and other on-demand ride services largely did the opposite. They made traffic in many cities worse, contributed to an increase in miles driven in the United States and pulled people from shared transit to solo cars.

I suggest that a bit of common sense is due here. What do YOU think and to what do YOU want to return. I think that you know the answer.



Its A Con Game

If you are a manufacturer you have probably received an email from a company hawking mailing lists from upcoming parking events. DO NOT BE FOOLED. Its is a confidence game. There is no list, and if there is one, it has no relationship to reality. We have received offers from lists for events that have been moved, cancelled, or postponed. These include some of the largest exhibitions held each year, including Intertraffic and Parkex in the UK.

These creatures have also gone after the PIE show, offering mailing lists and even reporting that the event has been cancelled. There is a very important program that has been built into your computer. Its the button called “DELETE”  Use it.

Here is the memo we are sending to all exhibitors and participants in PIE 2021:

It has come to our attention that fraudulent emails have been circulating concerning the 2021 PIE event and often related to listings of attendees. These emails are completely bogus and have no relationship to Parking Today or the Parking Industry Exhibition.

It seems that confidence organizations attempt to sell “mailing lists” of attendees. They have NO lists of attendees. This is a complete fraud. Any information coming from such sources is incorrect and should be ignored.

The only valid information about PIE 2021 or its attendees comes from me or is posted on our web site, www.pieshow.parkingtoday.com.

The Parking Industry Exhibition is being held July 18-21 in Dallas, Texas.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Marcy Sparrow

We were pretty sure these offers were cons when we received one last month offering a list of attendees for PIE 2020. If you remember it was cancelled due to the pandemic. These people have no honor.

See you in Dallas in July


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