Smart Car Spotting in Houston!

I spotted a Smart Car in Houston a couple of weeks ago from my trusty Corolla while stopped at Kirkwood and Richmond. This Smart Car was apparently purchased from the Sugar Land location. A colleague had been on a waiting list for about a year so I knew they were coming, and it looks like they’ve finally arrived in Texas!

Houston Smart Car 02

Okay… So perhaps they are not such a big deal in Europe where you see them EVERYWHERE in various incarnations… But it was pretty exciting seeing one in Houston. Not that I want one… Still love my Corolla!

In the picture below, I captured three in one frame in Rome last summer, which is not very special since they are so common there!

Smart Car, Rome

Now what I think is really interesting is a car like MIT’s Stackable Car… Not quite convinced by this yet, but it is an intriguing system.


Published: August 31, 2008
It adds convenience, privacy and security. And the oversize door is handy for moving big objects in or out. One owner even turned his garage into a music room.

Car Talk Landscape Architecture Puzzler

This week’s Car Talk puzzle as described by Ray:

This puzzler is from my horticultural and mathematical series. It was sent in by Daniel Reiss. And, of course, I couldn’t resist the temptation to mess with it a little bit.

Here it is.

An eccentric billionaire decided to interview landscapers for his newly constructed estate. Part of the interview was a simple test. He said:

‘Four is my lucky number. I made my fortune working four hours a week, just like those two knuckleheads on Car Talk!

‘So, I want every tree and bush and shrub you plant to be in groups of four. Got it? But in addition, I want each of these four things that you plant, to be the same distance from one another.

‘For example, if you plant four rhododendron, I want them all to be equidistant, i.e., each one is the same distance from each of the other three.’

The question is, can it be done?

Or… you can listen to the audio version, which I prefer!  Though I USUALLY download podcasts of the whole show!

I thought of the answer in less than a second, but don’t ask me how long it took me to MODEL it!

The way that I think about it… Imagine a methane molecule, CH4. The hydrogen atoms become the four trees and the carbon atom (not represented in the model) is invisibly floating between the triangular pool and the cantilevered mezzanine. (Bond angles, 109.5°! Yay!!!)  In the scale model below, each tree is 50 feet away from each of the other 3 trees.

Someone PLEASE tell me if there’s a way to use polar coordinates in SketchUp!  The pyramid took forever for this SketchUp newbie (ie, me!) to accurately model!

I’ll tell you how the tree is growing on the upper level if you tell me how these trees are growing on this MVRDV structure below. My classmates (below) and I were biking around the Netherlands last summer exploring architecture and landscape architecture projects! This Parkrand Building project is in Amsterdam.

Yeah, yeah…  I’ll decrease my chance of “winning” by posting this…  But I didn’t really do this to “win” anyways.  When else are methane bond angles going to be relevant to landscape???  😀

P.S. Do the terms “bush” and “four rhododendron” bother anyone else?  Or is that just me???