Hello, World!

September 2, 2016 at 3:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So this marks the return of North Star Highways. I’ve been active on the old usenet group misc.transport.road for a number of years, and it’s spiritual successor AAroads.com. At the height of people having personal web sites in the early 2000s, I had one too, devoted to roadgeekery with a Minnesota focus. Pages on such topics as abandoned highways sign shield galleries. However , there were several problems that I was never able to resolve.

First of all, it always looked like something someone threw together in Netscape Composer, because it was. I never learned how to program html, much less java. It was kind of OK in those days, but the look rapidly became dated.

Second, on my Earthlink free web site, I was limited to 15 MB of file storage. That didn’t go very far even back then and even with reducing images to the minimum size I considered acceptable. Finally I split the more  more historical aspects of the site from the others into
“North Star Highways II” which I never liked and didn’t ultimately solve the problem.

Thirdly, people did some key areas of my site better than me. John Weeks with his bridge photography, and “Deadpioneer” with historical context. One of my plans was to photograph as many Mississippi River bridges as possible, but with John having more resources and wherewithal doing so myself would be superfluous.

And fourthly, film photography was expensive and time consuming, and I was involved as a photographer for a church group, which took up much of my time and wherewithal.

Although the site languished for years with little attention, it persisted until it was time to switch the cable and internet account from my father’s name to mine. He had moved out years ago and it was an issue every time I needed to contact Comcast about something or other. Effectively the account was terminated and a new one was made in my name, and Comcast no longer offered for web storage with new accounts, so that was the end.

In the meantime I finally switched to digital and started loading photos on the Flickr. This increased once they removed their limit on the number of images for free acounts. This solved the lack of web space, and was fine for certain things like shield galleries, but created a new problem in that there was no real way to present them in the context of an article. Then I started reading articles on streets.mn, a local transportation issues blog. Although having no official site opinions, it was heavily slanted towards urban viewpoints. When I complained, they suggested I write for them myself, which I did, for 48 articles.

Most of the staff treated my nice throughout most of my time there, both online and at meetups and were appreciative of my writings, but ultimately I felt like the token black person that was accepted onto an exurban high school on the debate team to give the impression of diversity. It was a role I did not mind, bringing diversity and the minority report to the site. But for reasons I don’t fully understand,  eventually tensions increased and my opinions became less welcome, at least among some of the staff. This finally coming to a head when I used derogatory words to describe a type of development I personally don’t like, “Stack and Pack” housing in a comment one of the moderator’s articles.

I was told by a moderator to cut it out, despite the fact that everyone else was free to use derogatory words for development they personally don’t like, such as “Sprawl” and “Nowhere” to describe the suburbs, or “Stroad” to describe a street that was apparently anything more than the bicycle trail.  I was also warned about my “combative tone and inflexible opinions” and that other people were not writing articles for fear I might not agree with them and that if it continued I might be kicked out.

Never mind that my own articles had plenty of comments with “combative tone and inflexible opinions” and I wasn’t the only one criticizing articles. (And if you write an article you should expect people might disagree with you; I certainly did). Although it was not quite a “you can’t fire me, I quit type” of situation it was becoming clear the tensions weren’t going to go away and would only get worse if I stayed around.

Finally, although I pushed as hard as I could into roadgeekery, streetlights, and traffic signals on that site, I still had to hold back in some ways due to the general nature of the site. It is my intent to update, revise, and repost some of my articles, some of the old North Star Highways pages, make articles out of some of my Flickr galleries and of course fresh new content, both of the type I wrote on streets and of the type from the North Star Highways of old. Ultimately there will be challenges adopting a web site into a blog format and well as a cohesive theme with my new emphasis on suburbia as well as hardcore roadgeekery, but we’ll see what happens.

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