Protecting your holiday packages from ‘porch pirates’

OMG where you live is Always a problem. Nobody can find you (like me) or EVERYBODY can find you.

I live in a little house in the middle of a courtyard. It is isolated, but that is fine. UPS and FedEx are a problem. I do not buy all that much online so only a small problem.

A solution that is used in France is a “RELAIS”. A relay address. A small store that you can send packages to. Go to store, show drivers license, passport, or in France a National ID; pick up your package and go. Don’t drive. NO National ID (I am a worker here, not an “EXPAT). Just show passport.

Alec Wyand: An alternative route through the mountains

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Who hasn’t been driving down Interstate 70 mumbling “damn tourists” under their breath at least one time?

Let us not forget about the people who are commuting I-70 out of necessity. Thousands of working people make the daily trek across one of America’s most closed highways for business rather than play. According to the Denver Post, I-70 closed every 2.4 days on average in 2016. The Colorado Department of Transportation has attempted to resolve matters. However, how much has this actually helped? Traffic still proves to be a nightmare both east and westbound on the interstate.

The amount of traffic also poses environmental concerns. One gallon of gasoline burns close to 9,000 grams of CO2. The annual average daily traffic in I-70 last year ranged from 22,000 all the way up to 69,000 around Evergreen and Idaho Springs. From the point of intersection of I-70 and I-470 to Vail is 87 miles. Not including semi-trucks, most cars will get around 20 miles per gallon on average during mountain driving. That means a little over four gallons, which translates to about 36,000 grams of CO2 emitted per car. Without traffic, CO2 emissions could range from 792,000,000 to 2,484,000,000 grams per day. That doesn’t factor in the amount of gasoline burned while waiting in traffic, nor does it factor in diesel burnt from semi-trucks.

On top of the environmental factors comes terms of safety. Between snow storms, rock slides and even stray animals, I-70 poses very dangerous conditions. Car accidents are not uncommon and many are fatal. Additionally, when closures happen, there is nowhere to turn. I-70 west of Denver has no alternative routes once you are in the mountains. Though there are a few frontage roads, they can be extremely difficult to access in miles of stopped traffic. More importantly, it makes it even more difficult for emergency vehicles to arrive on scene.

With the efforts of CDOT being minimally effective, there has to be something done that no one has thought of yet.

The answer is the new Hyperloop One.

This innovative mode of transportation uses depressurized tubes with magnets along rails to propel a human-carrying pod capable of reaching speeds up to 760 mph. Each pod can carry 28 to 40 passengers at a time while making it from Denver to Vail in around nine minutes. This also boasts a whopping 164,000 passengers a day with hyperloop pods leaving as frequently as every 40 seconds. Not only would this take care of the traffic on I-70, but it offers the first alternative route through the mountains.

Still, there are two major problems with the Hyperloop One.

The first problem is the hefty price tag of the construction. The second problem is the path on which the hyperloop construction would take and the leveling of trees and land. The first difficult part can be addressed with crowdsourcing. Because of the tourist population in Colorado, particularly from the ski industry, more people will be willing to donate from across America and even the world to see the project happen. Also, CDOT only receives about 5 percent of state taxes. However, with the huge increases of tax money generated from recreational marijuana each year, money theoretically could be put aside to help fund the project. As for the environmental impact, all construction requires destruction or morphing of Earth in some sort. The rideshare component of the hyperloop will take thousands of cars off the road and provide a much more sustainable source of transportation.

Rather than sitting in traffic angry at the world, give the people what they need. Stop polluting the air with unnecessary solo drives to and from work. Stop polluting the air while you’re making a solo trip to the mountains to ski first chair because none of your friends could get out of bed at 5 a.m. Give Coloradans an alternative way to make it through the mountains while reducing contributions to climate change.

Alec Wyand is a business student at the University of Colorado

How Lower Manhattan ‘reinvented’ itself after 9/11

No part of town has more to give thanks for this holiday weekend than Lower Manhattan — a once-fading district that’s now home to more than 60,000 residents, new stores and restaurants, cutting-edge media and tech companies, and a family-friendly, 24/7 vibe for the first time since the New York Stock Exchange opened on Wall Street in 1792.

But a “part of town” is not the same as a human being, and those who lost loved ones on 9/11 surely have less to celebrate. The discomfiting realization rattled me at a new exhibition at the Skyscraper Museum in Battery Park City, “Millennium: Lower Manhattan in the 1990s.” (39 Battery Place, noon-6 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, through April.)

The show’s program calls today’s Downtown “a model of a 21st Century environment of living, work, and play.” Yet, just 20 years ago, the neighborhood seemed to be on its last legs. Photos, models, architectural drawings and news accounts recall how the district was reeling from after-shocks of the 1987 Black Monday stock market crash. Banks fled to Midtown, leaving older skyscrapers dark. A handful of residents lived amidst long shadows of office towers empty after 5 p.m. and on weekends. “Once-grand banking halls and storefronts” stood “hauntingly silent,” the show reminds us.

The Wall Street area of the 1990s was “ripe for reinvention,” the “Millennium” exhibition tells us. But nobody in government or business knew how to do that. Not until Sept. 11, 2001 was “Downtown’s identity . . . cataclysmically recast as Ground Zero, and a new era truly begun.”

Translation: it took the slaughter of 2,606 innocent people and the destruction of 14 million square feet of offices to bring forth, not patchwork change, but a sweeping reconception. Downtown today otherwise would resemble the same struggling place it was before the attack.

To accept that heart-wrenching truth brings up morally charged questions that “Millennium” delicately avoids tackling head-on.

The exhibition gloomily evokes Downtown’s moribund state in the ’90s. The rise of the Twin Towers in the early 1970s was supposed to arrest the district’s decline. But it was a false prophecy — they were filled mainly with state offices for a time, and when commercial tenants finally came from obsolete nearby buildings, they sucked even more life out of the neighborhood around them.

We’re reminded of misguided efforts to bring back lost glory. There were proposals for a towering, new NYSE building even when digital advances were reducing the need for trading floors, and for a gargantuan, 400-foot-tall Guggenheim Museum in the East River. A 1995 New York Times article, “Bringing Downtown Back Up,” chronicled fitful efforts to convert useless office buildings to apartments.

Some incremental improvement was noticeable by 2000. An influx of dot-com tenants helped to cut office vacancies from 28 percent to 15 percent. There were glimmers of hope, too, in proposals for what the exhibition calls “intriguing, often provocative projects.” Fanciful notions including a redesigned South Street Seaport “planted the seeds” for future resurgence.

Yet the message didn’t reach the street. When I reviewed defunct restaurant Bayard’s at Hanover Square in early 2000, I wrote of the “weirdly deserted” after-dark Financial District: “Make sure you know how to get there, or face roaming the … loneliest streetscape this side of film noir.”

These nights, you might have more company than you want — folks eating at nearby Stone Street’s dozen-odd cafes, stroller moms and tourists searching for Broadway’s “Charging Bull” statue.

For all the good will of the ’90s, today’s Downtown — as the show calls it — couldn’t and wouldn’t exist had 9/11 not catalyzed a floodtide of $24 billion in direct federal aid plus state tax benefits — and an emotional commitment by people willing to move there.

Companies like Conde Nast, GroupM and Spotify, anchors of the new Downtown office economy, would not have moved there without new skyscrapers that replaced the prematurely obsolescent Twin Towers.

It was easy in the years following 9/11 to lament what seemed snail’s-pace progress in rebuilding “Ground Zero” and nearby projects. But 16 years are not so much time in New York City, where it took nearly 100 years to open a short spur of the Second Avenue Subway.

We can take heart in our contentious, ultimately heroic response to 9/11 — and to the major damage caused later by the 2008 Wall Street crash and 2012’s Superstorm Sandy.

But — although we may recoil from the notion — little or none of it could have happened without a satanic stroke of destruction to re-set the stage. Let’s give thanks for what we built in evil’s aftermath, but never lose sight of the evil itself. Remember it next time you’re sipping wine at Downtown’s gleaming new restaurants while the Memorial waters outside pour into the abyss.

The Ableism of Internet Map Directions

Great thoughts!

Blind Injustice

For most of us, it is easy to get transit directions to get from Point A to Point B. You just go onto Google Maps (or maybe Bing or Yahoo Maps), type your starting point, type your destination point, and get directions from there. It seems simple enough.

Simple enough for able-bodied people.

If you are wheelchair-bound, or told by your doctor or your own body to try avoiding stairs, obtaining directions are not that simple for one reason—to my knowledge, not a single internet map provider gives people an opportunity to select wheelchair-friendly directions.

The problem is especially noticeable in my hometown of New York City, where the subway system is so unfriendly to wheelchairs that it is in the midst of lawsuits right now. Given the lack of wheelchair access with the subways in New York, and with transit in many parts of the world, there is a…

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