|Pac Tom: August 2008 Update
(17 Aug 2008 at 19:04)
| Okay, time for our bi-monthly Pac Tom project update. This summer has been very productive for pac-running, mainly because of the long daylight hours, free weekends, and need for introspective time. That's even given the marathon training and now the Great Race training, which mostly consists of running the same course over and over every day. (The upshot is that being in good shape means that on those weekends I can go a lot farther, and since my Pac-efficiency is dominated by the amount of the graph that I can cover once I get out to some distant neighborhood, being able to run twice as far in one go means much more than a 2x improvement in Pac-coverage. I mean if six of my ten miles are just getting to the neighborhood and back, then if I add another ten miles, all ten of those can be used to cover the streets in that 'hood.) Progress update below but first some recent running tales.|
Last weekend when I got back from California I must have still smelled like San Francisco or something because I was offered the opportunity to buy drugs by this not-drug-dealer-looking middle-aged woman. I think it is pretty weird, because she was just sitting at a bus stop and then I run by and I don't think I'm like exuding "hey, sell me some pills," and also if her biz is based on waiting for people to jog by this bus stop with cash, she is probably going to not be doing a lot of volume because I would not be surprised if I'm the only person to have run that particular street in 50 years. Anyway she's like, "Excuse me," in a whisper, "Do you know anybody that needs some Vicodins®?" Vicodins® plural, which is not how I'd say it. Normally I like to answer solicitations in very genuinely polite but confusing ways, to decline in a totally new style with no easy retort on the person's solicitation flowchart (to use a Chess metaphor, I like to get "out of book" as quickly as possible) because that is more or less pleasant for both of us and funny to me. For example, when the other lady on the phone is trying to sell me the Caller ID feature, I tell her as genuinely as I can, "I like the uncertainty of not knowing who's calling," and how can she argue with that? I'd like to have provided a similarly confusing answer but really, she had me out of book on the first move, so I was just like, "Uhhh, sorry!". And this wouldn't even be that remarkable (even though it's the first time I was ever offered drugs by a stranger in Pittsburgh) except that less than an hour later on the same trip but in a different neighborhood some kids ask me when I run past, "Do you have any marijuana?" And I'm like whaaa? To be truthful I think these kids were just making fun of me, which is pretty common when I am running in places where I am out of context and I am totally okay with that, but I don't really know why that would occur to them or in what sense that was making fun of me. Some cut-elimination or market-optimization part of me thinks I should have pointed the kids in the direction of the Vicodins® lady to solve two problems. (Once I saw a funny thing in the classifieds section, which might have even been some weird art-joke, which was two adjacent ads, one being a Want-To-Buy ad and the other being a For-Sale ad, both for the same object, described in an unusually and apparently fortuitously similar way. I wish I had saved that.) But I don't really believe in the free market or getting drugs in the hands of kids. Also I feel compelled for some reason to remind readers that I do not do drugs unless you count beer and coffee, which maybe you should count, but I would not use the word "do" for those. Once Percocets® by prescription for the wisdom teeth.
Yesterday I ran 18 miles in Homewood to try to finish it off, with a carefully prepared map and everything. It (the temperature) was hot. When I was finishing up I was super thirsty and I remembered that my favorite Pittsburgh beer-brewery, East End Brewing Co. was having its "Growler hours" at that very time, which hours are a way of selling their beer in jugs in an atmosphere that is almost pub-like without requiring a liquor license or drink-tax liability. And that brewery happens to be in Homewood. So even though I was sweaty-gross and only had three emergency dollars, I figured I'd never be running through this neck again especially during 'hours and boy was I thirsty, so I'd pop in and see if they'd be willing to sell me a non-jug-sized "sample" for those three bucks. I told them my deal and the dudes were like, sorry, but you cannot buy samples because they are free. But it was explicitly cool with them to get several samples even though I was very clear that I was not buying a growler just then (though I drink these dudes's beer all the time so I don't know why I felt like I was scamming them or something and I left my three emergency dollars as a tip), so that was awesome of them and man does cold beer taste good after one runs 16 miles in the sun. The two miles after that are a little bit jostly in the stomach though, I mean because of the CO2. I don't know how the Hash House Harriers people do it. So but when I got back I checked my work and I was happy that I had found all the little side streets and dead ends and had covered them, and as I was about to mark this neighborhood off as done, I saw this gaping, glaring section missing from one of the main thoroughfares through the neighborhood, which I guess I missed because Google Earth colors such majorer roads in as yellow instead of white. Whatever. That sucks, so today I made another ten mile trip out there to get that segment, and also to finish up Point Breeze North while I was at it because it sucks to make a long trip for just three blocks, even if I'm kinda beat.
The name of the game these days is making a serious concerted effort to finish off neighborhoods for good. I can typically finish off one or two neighborhoods each trip. You can see from the blackened areas which neighborhoods I've finished completely; relative to last time this number is greatly increased. 19 neighborhoods remain in the target area, so probably no more than 19 long trips left. I'm a little sad to be done with some of these places and to probably not have occasion to go back, but oh well. Exploring new places is better. Numerology:
Since the beginning of time, 476 distinct running events. (This includes everything, races, training, Pac Tomfoolery) Total time running: 11 days, 14h53m13s. Total distance run: 2020.096. Finally broke the 2 kilomile barrier!
|Did the East End guys recognize you? |
|Nope! But how would they? It wasn't the guy(s) that are usually there, it was some new to me people. Maybe they can recognize me from/for my zest for good beers.|
|those pac-man pellets were painkillers!
i enjoyed the focus on transaction costs here too (lady looking to sell, kids looking to buy, growler dudes getting past regulatons). :)
|Ha, I'm ashamed to have not come up with the power-pill Pacman joke! Thank you for bringing it to my attention. :)|
|Cool- I had heard about this from several people and had missed the visual (the part I really car about) for the post before. Maybe you mention it but it's not so clear whether you run to these parts of town to begin your "street goals" or drive out to them to begin... I'm also surprised that your map seems to suggest you only run within the neighborhoods that are blackened, which I'm willing to guess is not the case. Have you considered changing the colors of the routes rather than general sections one at a time? I'm not sure how interested you are in generating some sort of audience for this project, but it would be nice to see a few neighborhoods slowly eroded to make the bit by bit approach to completing some neighborhoods more apparent. After all, it is amazing b/c it's a human effort and more detail in your mapping would highlight that.|
|Darkened means I've done all the streets in that neighborhood so it has been dispensed with. It's hard to see progress otherwise at this point, because mostly I am missing a small street here and there rather than some kind of large grid area. The short-term goal is to finish all of the neighborhoods on this side of the rivers ("continental Pittsburgh"), which is about half of the area of the city proper. After that I'll try to finish the whole thing. I always either start or end a run (usually both) at my house, CMU, or maybe someone else's house if I stayed the night. Occasionally I'll grab a ride somewhere or hoof it home from the Waterfront or something like that, but I'd consider it cheating to drive out in order to run a section and then drive back.
I have some ideas for visualizations of the data, like coloring each route differently or plotting elevation vs. distance to show the route and start point trends and distances, but I think I'm kind of saving these as a reward for finishing the first phase. I'm getting really close now... if it weren't for the Great Race and training and travel I'd expect to finish by the end of the month. I completely agree: the maps are the essential way for people to understand what it's about.
|Do you like get lots of free maps now that you work at Google? Google make lots of maps.|
|Free maps for everybody, yay!|
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