Wednesday, April 30, 2008

end-of-April update

Various bits of news as April comes to a close and the summer starts to heat up in Tucson:

Linguistics first:

1. Family size effects continue to intrigue me. I'll be re-writing a paper over the summer in which I try to model the Semitic lexicon based on these effects.

2. The Maltese database rocks, and the Hebrew database isn't far behind. I'm extremely grateful to Jerid Francom and Dainon Woudstra for their amazing talents and hard work.

3. I have a number of students working on really really cool end-of-semester projects. I feel so lucky to get to work with these students.

4. I got tenure. Yup!

Neighborhood-related stuff:

1. Sixth Ave and Stone Ave are now two-way streets from Broadway to 18th St. They are so much nicer now! Traffic has slowed to a delicious pace.

2. The wall hiding the old Carnegie Library (currently occupied by the Tucson Children's Museum) has been taken down, revealing an architectural gem. Way to go!

3. One North Fifth is making great progress - construction, not just destruction!

4. The 4th Ave underpass project is progressing so quickly, making all the traffic headaches worthwhile.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Goodbye, and good riddance

Yesterday marks an important event in downtown Tucson: the start of the demolition of the old 4th Avenue underpass. Read about it here:

Why is the demolition such a good thing? The old underpass was in terrible shape; additionally it was unsafe for bicyclists and unfriendly for pedestrians. I've heard a few people express the notion that due to its historic status it should have been left untouched, but essentially it was a historic urinal in need of replacement. It's important to keep in mind that "historic" is not necessarily equivalent to "good", and that while it's possible (and sometimes a good thing) to maintain the historic character of a structure, neighborhood, or region, as time goes on and the world around us changes, some of these changes might be beneficial. A good example in Tucson is air conditioning: it's definitely not "historic", but without it, few of us would likely be able to stand living here.

I'm thrilled to see the old underpass go. Yesterday evening, with friends, I climbed down as close to the hard-hat zone as I could get to watch it crumble. We then went to the Tap Room at the Hotel Congress to celebrate this exciting progress.