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Celebrating the Life of Steve Patterson, Part 1: “I Ain’t Dead Yet”

August 29, 2022 Downtown, Events/Meetings, Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Celebrating the Life of Steve Patterson, Part 1: “I Ain’t Dead Yet”
Blogger Steve Patterson on the Gateway Mall hallway, Citygarden. May 2021. Photo credit: Humans of St. Louis

When I was first diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer in the fall of 2019 I wasn’t sure what to expect from treatment, life expectancy, etc. While getting my affairs in order I remained as optimistic as possible.

I’m not a fan of solemn funerals so I thought about having a big party to celebrate my life in style. But what good is that after I’m dead?  So then a pre-death party followed by another at some point after I’m gone. Perfect.

Then came the pandemic. Scratch anything indoors. I thought about Citygarden, but Kaldi’s closed temporarily so no snacks or restroom access.

Now, even with vaccines, people are still getting Covid-19.  I’ve seen the blood test results on my immune health, that’s why my oncologist says  I’m immunocompromised. Anything indoors would require someone to check vaccination status. Outdoors it is, but not in brutal heat, cold, rain, etc.

As the months and years have passed I’m less interested in a single big event. Instead I like the idea of a series of small informal outdoor gatherings. I’d like to see each of you in person, whether we know each other or not.

The first such event was going to be this morning, but last week I saw  forecast called for rain. It’s always something…

Once I see an opening in the weather I’ll announce the date & time on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) at least 24 hours  prior.

Right now Wednesday morning (8/31/2022)is looking good, so this is a tentative date, 8am-10am. Unless it rains I’ll be on the terrace outside the recently reopened Kaldi’s in Citygarden, 808 Chestnut, enjoying a smoothie that I ordered online via ToastTab app. Please stop by to say hello, tell me I’m often wrong, or whatever. I’ll be sitting in a regular chair, but my orange wheelchair will be nearby.

For those that haven’t seen me in a long time, I now weigh about half of what I did when I had my stroke in 2008! I have to eat all the time now just to try to maintain my current weight.

I’ll announce additional dates/times/locations  for future gatherings on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) a few days prior. I’m open to suggestions for other outdoor locations, the only requirements are accessible via transit, shade, and nearby restroom. I’d also like to do some evening and weekend gatherings. I’ve also thought about using Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Live. Suggestions welcome.

Again, I’d love to talk with everyone at some point. Monday is the first of many. I do ask that if you have any Covid-19 symptoms (or positive test) please wait for a future date.

I definitely want to do something on the 18th anniversary of this blog, on Monday October 31, 2022. Maybe I could dress up as the late Jane Jacobs?

My next scans are in two weeks, I anticipate they’ll also show my “numerous tumors” as still stable.  After my 4-night hospitalization last month my kidneys are returning to normal.

Ok, hope to at least see a few of you Monday morning!

— Steve

 

YouTube Channels To Learn About Urbanism, Transit, Climate, Etc.

December 13, 2021 Featured, Site Info Comments Off on YouTube Channels To Learn About Urbanism, Transit, Climate, Etc.
Screenshot of my first upload to YouTube, June 26, 2006

These days urbanists wanting to communicate with the masses are more likely to use video, compared to written text and static images. Video is a great medium. Of course today YouTube is the video streaming service that pops into your head first.

YouTube is an American online video sharing and social media platform owned by Google. It was launched on February 14, 2005 by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim. It is the second most visited website, right after Google itself. YouTube has more than one billion monthly users who collectively watch more than one billion hours of videos each day. As of May 2019, videos were being uploaded at a rate of more than 500 hours of content per minute. (Wikipedia)

When I began blogging on 10/31/2004 YouTube didn’t exist. Seriously. YouTube first began three and a half months after I started this blog.

My first video posted to YouTube was June 20, 2006 — five months before Google bought YouTube. If not for my February 2008 stroke I might have shifted to video as my primary medium. Can’t go back and change history, it is what it is.

Thankfully there are lots of channels of interest to this urbanist.

Today’s post is a list of YouTube channels I watch regularly, with two sample videos from each. These are in random order, not ranked. The style of each YouTuber is unique, some contain a few words that might offend.

Not Just Bikes:

Alan Fisher — The ArmChair Urbanist:

CityNerd:

City Beautiful:

Climate Town:

RM Transit:

Practical Engineering:

It’s History:

TED: (varied topics, not just urban-related)

UrbanReviewSTLdotcom: My first YouTube video, below, was posted on June 20,2006 — before Google announced it was buying the platform!

As I find more great channels I might add them to this post, if you know of any include in a comment under the post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

— Steve Patterson

 

17th Anniversary of UrbanReviewSTL

November 3, 2021 Featured, Site Info, Steve Patterson Comments Off on 17th Anniversary of UrbanReviewSTL
A warehouse at the point where MLK & Page meet.

Sunday (10/31/2021) was the 17th anniversary of this blog. In years past I’d have prepared a post looking back and forward, published on the actual anniversary. Now I’m enjoying my final years rather than spend all my free time on the blog.

It was two years ago I disclosed I had cancer. In short, I have stage 4 kidney cancer. I’ll never be cancer-free, it’ll never be in remission. My oncologist described it as a chronic disease.

So far so good. I’m arguably better off now than I was 2 years ago. My last scans (CT & bone scan) showed significant shrinkage of several of my numerous tumors. The reality is eventually my cancer will switch from being a treatable condition to being terminal.

Enough about me, I still spend hours thinking about St. Louis. Here are some subjects on my mind right now:

  • The recent loss of population in the 2020 census will make redistricting a challenge. The predominantly black north side is losing population at a significantly higher rate than the rest of the city.
  • The population is largely black and white — in nearly equal numbers. As a result I’m glad the initial draft of a new ward map has an equal number of wards with a majority population of each. Cutting the number of seats from 28 to 14 is something I still support. My hope is it will reduce aldermanic micromanagement, empowering bureaucrats to make decisions based on policy, not political influence from legislators.
  • I’m enjoying seeing the soccer stadium, front office and training facility be constructed in Downtown West.  What will be more interesting is to see how the surrounding blocks change over time. Will they become more urban, or will parking lots/garages slowly replace existing buildings. If I were in charge I’d made it very difficult/expensive for property owners to raze their buildings for parking.
  • I’m glad to see the lawsuit agains the Rams/NFL moving forward, but I hate the idea of St. Louis getting an NFL expansion team as part of a settlement. Why? This would likely put the north riverfront back at risk of being leveled.
  • North St. Louis is continuing to be vacated. At first middle class whites left, making room for middle class black families. Then the last white families either found a way to move or they died off. Middle class black families began moving to north St. Louis County as lower income blacks moving into north city behind them. Those who remain, with many exceptions, are looking to move to south city or into the county.  The region must reverse the exodus out of north city & county.
  • I don’t have the solutions to the bottom problem above, one thought is maintain the positive pockets. Then turn the remaining areas to natural watershed and/or agricultural land.
  • The proposed Target on South Grand, north of Chouteau, is very exciting. However, the large surface parking lot to the south of the building is only ok if temporary. From the south end of the bridge to Chouteau needs to be multi-story urban buildings. Ditto for the west side of Grand.
  • Additional investment in transportation needs to be made to support those us who don’t have 24/7 access to an automobile. Jobs need to be closer to the areas needing work.
  • As a region we need to reduce the amount of urbanized land per person. This means stopping greenfield development on the edges, focusing on denser development in previously developed areas. This needs to be accomplished equitably.
  • As I’ve said before, we need to prepare for the coming side effects of climate change. I’m not at all optimistic the world’s population/governments will take the necessary steps to reduce damage to the environment. Temperatures in St. Louis will rise. In the winter this could mean pests that used to die off each year stick around. In the summer it could mean am increasing number of periods with temperatures over 100°. I often pass a field at 9th & O’Fallon —the tree lawn for these two streets used to have nine additional trees. Going to the grocery store in summer this area is noticeably warmer. The same problem is repeated throughout the region, usually in lower income neighborhoods.
  • It’s very nice seeing medical cannabis dispensaries in the city & region. Hopefully this is employing people who needed it most. Unfortunately the ownership is those wealthy enough to afford the high cost of entry.
  • Food deserts continue. A Save-A-Lot that opened a few years ago in an inner-ring suburb is closing. It’s increasingly obvious to me slim grocery store margins need customers with a mix of incomes to survive. I’ve seen too many efforts to end food deserts in low-income neighborhoods fail. Near me it looks like GreenLeaf will also fail. The few things I used to get there are no longer available.
  • We can’t solve our climate problems simply by replacing all vehicles with electric vehicles. We must make mobility easier by foot, bike, wheelchair, and transit.

The above are just a fraction of the St. Louis subjects I’ve thought about, it’s a bit overwhelming to me. I can’t turn it off.

Thankfully I’m optimistic I’ll have at least another year to post on the above subjects. Thank you for reading.

— Steve Patterson

 

An Open Letter To Missouri Governor Mike Parson & Staff

October 15, 2021 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Site Info Comments Off on An Open Letter To Missouri Governor Mike Parson & Staff
Missouri Governor Mike Parson

Dear Governor:
This post is in response to a Post-Dispatch story pointing out an error in a department website.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is vowing to prosecute the staff of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the newspaper says it uncovered security vulnerabilities on a state agency website.

The governor is characterizing the paper’s actions as a hacking that the state will investigate. He said it could cost taxpayers $50 million.

“Not only are we going to hold this individual accountable, but we will also be holding accountable all those who aided this individual and the media corporation that employs them,” Parson said at a news conference on Thursday. (NPR)

The paper ran the story only after the department corrected their mistake, but you’ve repeatedly described it as “hacking.” I hope this letter will help educate you and your staff.

I’m not a cybersecurity expert, but I’ve been blogging for two weeks shy of 17 years. I’ve never had a class in HTML, nor have I bought a book on the subject. I’m self taught. I’m also 54, so this didn’t come naturally as it seemingly does for younger folks. Speaking of age, yours isn’t an excuse — my oldest brother is 5 years older than you and he gets this stuff without having been a web designer.

Since I just used an acronym above that’s likely foreign to you this may help:

The HyperText Markup Language, or HTML is the standard markup language for documents designed to be displayed in a web browser. It can be assisted by technologies such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and scripting languages such as JavaScript.

Web browsers receive HTML documents from a web server or from local storage and render the documents into multimedia web pages. HTML describes the structure of a web page semantically and originally included cues for the appearance of the document.

HTML elements are the building blocks of HTML pages. With HTML constructs, images and other objects such as interactive forms may be embedded into the rendered page. HTML provides a means to create structured documents by denoting structural semantics for text such as headings, paragraphs, lists, links, quotes and other items. HTML elements are delineated by tags, written using angle brackets. Tags such as <img /> and <input /> directly introduce content into the page. Other tags such as <p> surround and provide information about document text and may include other tags as sub-elements. Browsers do not display the HTML tags, but use them to interpret the content of the page. (Wikipedia)

All the <blah blah blah> stuff reminded me of high school & college in the 1980s. The college professor that ran our architecture computer lab liked the word processing application WordStar. It was the DOS days so we had to type things like <B> before and after a word or phrase we wanted to appear as bold on the printed page — it never appeared bold on the screen. Apple’s Mackintosh eliminated this simple coding by doing that in the background. Microsoft’s Windows operating system adopted this as well. The younger members of your staff may not remember DOS or WordStar.

Owning a Mac and using a Mac/Windows at various jobs I thought I’d left coding behind. I had until I began blogging on October 31, 2004. Early on I used 2 different HTML platforms to create my blog & posts before settling on WordPress.  These all do the heavy lifting behind the scenes, but I’ve had to go into the source code over the years to fix problems with how something appears. I’ve also liked how others displayed information on webpages so I’ve looked at their source code to learn. Emails and digital photos also have code. Again, it’s not visible unless someone taps a few buttons or clicks to see it.

Source code is easily viewed by anyone. Hacking is entirely different. This is where someone attempts to gain entry into a computer network or application. There’s always someone attempting to hack into my blog ever week.

I least once per week I get an email from a plugin on my blog letting me know someone (or a bot) repeatedly attempted to login using the default “admin” username. I’m not an amateur, the admin username was removed years ago.

I’d like to think at least one person on your staff understands the Post-Dispatch pointed out the mistake made by the state agency so it could be fixed.  Someone around you knows the Post-Dispatch helped the state by preventing social security numbers of teachers — numbers that shouldn’t have been in publically accessible source code. The other possibility is your entire office is clueless how websites work.

To simplify this I’ll use your own state website as an example:

This is your full bio on the state page, found at https://governor.mo.gov/about-governor/full (click image to view)
This is a screen shot of the source code. I found this by going to the Develop>Show Page Source in my browser (Safari)

I didn’t hack the website. I selected a menu item from a regular web browser — this code is necessary so browsers will display the website as desired. In more complicated databases sometimes it is set up incorrectly so that information that shouldn’t be shown is displayed here.

Someone is attempting to cover their own ass, or protect someone else. Leaders admit when mistakes are make, not try to shift the blame onto those privately bring mistakes to the state’s attention. Yes, an investigation is necessary to get to the bottom of this — an investigation of how social security numbers were displayed in easily accessible source code and why so much hot air to deflect the blame.

Where there’s smoke, there’ fire.

Stop wasting our time and money simply because you’re to shallow to admit you were wrong!  The world already knows it, we just want to hear you say it. Additionally the Post-Dispatch deserves an apology from you. They did exactly what they should have, but you managed to turn a yawn of a subject into national news. Congrats on briefly jumping ahead of DeSantis & Abbott.

— Steve Patterson (a regular Missouri voter for 30+ years)

 

 

I’m Fully Vaccinated, Will Continue Wearing A Mask In Public

May 20, 2021 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on I’m Fully Vaccinated, Will Continue Wearing A Mask In Public
Federal rules still require masks on buses, trains, boats and planes

The CDC says since I’m fully vaccinated I can go into public buildings without needing to wear a mask. Well, that’s the big overview leaving out important details. I’ll get to those but first a quick review of how we got to this point.

On Friday March 21, 2020 St. Louis Health Commissioner Dr. Frederick Echols  issued a stay at home order for the City of St. Louis, effective Monday March 23, 2020. A similar order was issued in St. Louis County. At this point masks weren’t required, but in hindsight they should’ve been.

On the day the stay at home order began St. Louis announced the first Covid-related death. On Friday the 27th and Monday 30th I had CT/Bone scans & cancer treatment at the Center for Advanced Medicine, respectively. Masks still weren’t required by Metro, BJC/Wash U, or the city.

On Friday April 3, 2020 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended the voluntary use of masks in public. The following Monday we received some homemade masks from my sister-in-law in California.  The next day, Tuesday April 7, 2020, I had minor outpatient surgery at the new Park Tower to install a power port in my chest to make my intravenous cancer treatments easier, masks were required. My husband wasn’t allowed to come back before and after the surgery even with a mask.

The following Saturday (4/11/2020) St. Louis first recommended the use of masks in public.  On July 1, 2020 St. Louis city & county issued a mask mandate.

I still don’t like masks, they pull on my ears and I have to remove my glasses as they fog over. However, I’m used to it now. We’ve eaten out numerous times during the pandemic, which we’ve enjoyed.

Last month the CDC said small groups of vaccinated people could gather, maskless. We got to visit and hug a friend on April 25, 2021, we hadn’t seen her in a over a year. A week ago today the CDC made a big announcement on masks.

People fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.  (CNN)

States, cities, and businesses began dropping their mask requirements — for fully vaccinated people. Masks are still required for public transportation (planes, trains, buses, etc), healthcare facilities, and such.

On Saturday we went to Costco in south county, some customers weren’t wearing masks. We were. Yesterday I went to Schnucks downtown, same thing. It feels weird being indoors with my unmasked strangers.

Just over 34 percent of St. Louis County residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That’s an increase of 2.5 percent in the past week.

In St. Louis City, more than 26.5 percent of people have finished their vaccinations. This is a jump of over 2 percent. (Fox2)

With such a low percentage fully vaccinated I wonder if non-vaccinated are using this as a way to shop without wearing a mask. I know the science says I’m still highly protected, but it’s not 100% guaranteed. I’m not immune compromised, but my immune system needs to stay focused on keeping my tumors from growing. For me it’s just not worth the risk, putting on a mask for a quick trip into a store is no big deal to me at this point. Most of the time when I leave home I take MetroLink to Siteman Cancer Center, so masks are required anyway.

If you’re not vaccinated please get the vaccine, it’s easy. I felt bad the day after my 2nd Pfizer shot, but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. I get if you’re hesitant, a friend in her early 70s who’s fearful of the vaccine. My brother-in-law doesn’t want to be a government “lab rat.”

I look forward to the day I can ride the bus, or get treatment without needing a mask.

— Steve Patterson

 

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