The topography of St. Louis

In Houston, there are only three topographic features: the bayous, the freeways, and the skyscrapers. The concept of a natural vantage point from which you can view the city—like the infamous view of Los Angeles from the Santa Monica Mountains—was largely foreign to me as a kid. I’d only catch brief glimpses of the broader cityscape when ascending one of the region’s stacked interchanges.

On Twitter and adulthood

I’m 27, about five years out of college. I’m young by any reasonable standard, but I’m also not new to adulthood. I’m married; I own a home; I’ve moved past the first stage of my career; many of my friends are completing graduate school, getting married, and seriously considering having children. College is increasingly in the rearview mirror—my social circle has dispersed as each of us further defines our independent adult lives.

My perspective is not the same as it was five years ago. As I’ve discussed previously, I have a far better understanding of my relationship with money and the role it plays in building an adult life. Living and owning property in an adopted city, I’m now heavily invested in local quality of life issues like crime, city services, and taxes—things that I was fully insulated from in college.

More people should live near MetroLink

Researchers and transit experts have attempted to quantify the “minimum” population density required to justify light rail service in an urban area. Published research suggests somewhere around 19,000 people per square mile (ppsm) within the service area of a light rail system. Noted transit expert Christof Spieler describes a “tipping point” between 10,000 to 15,000 ppsm, at which neighborhoods generate enough trips to justify a higher-capacity transit mode and are complemented by a walkable urban form that discourages driving.

Why I left civil engineering

When I stepped foot onto the campus of Rice University as a matriculating freshman in the fall of 2014, I was dead set on becoming a civil engineer. As an adolescent I nurtured an obsession with infrastructure and cities, with much of my formative years spent observing the rapid pace of development in Houston (including the mammoth reconstruction of the Katy Freeway), playing SimCity 4, and reading about urban planning. The complexity of urban transportation—and the neverending quest to improve it—has always scratched an itch in my brain.