Another fine acronym that all planners will want to use.


The end of the world as we know it.

The end is nigh!  

            I hope not

Were all gonna Die!

            Well, yes, none of us gets out of this alive, but not soon, I hope.


Events in the Life of a 70 Year Old

YearsEventTotal DiedAnnualized
(to date)Rate
1981-2020HIV Aids675,00017,308
2003-2011Iraq War3,836426
Sep 11, 20019112,9772,977
1955-1975Vietnam War58,2202,911
1950-1953Korean War33,6868,422
for 12 months200,000 firstseven months

The events above imacted the lives of people presently 70 years old. For some of Polio was among our first memories when we were very young.  Our wars have been sad events, with Vietnam our a major challenge when we turned 18.  HIV AIDS has been with us for 40 years. 911 was an enormous shock. And Covid-19 has made a very major impact in only seven months.


The Tyrrany of SSgt Fitbit

My friend suggested that I start using a fitness watch to better condition the old ticker. So my wife purchased a Fitbit Versa 2.

Her name is SSgt Fitbit. Like most men I am trained to listen to and instantly obey women. And she is a Marine Staff Sergeant - a Platoon Sergeant - trained to get people to perform. 

SSgt Fitbit’s mission was to gently prod me into better condition. She would track my pulse and count my steps, and relay this information to my phone and computer. She was very smart.

Initially she got me to walk 10,000 steps a day. This was easy. Although the science for walking 10,000 steps is nil. The magic number “10,000” dates back to a marketing campaign conducted shortly before the start of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. A company began selling a pedometer called the Manpo-kei: “man” meaning 10,000, “po” meaning steps and “kei” meaning meter. It was hugely successful and the number seems to have stuck. It has as much scientific validity as "an apple a day keeps the Doctor away."

Still, it was truly meet and right and salutary. I would happily and leisurely walk my steps.

Then SSgt Fitbit started cracking down.  She started making me track active minutes. That was ok. The magic watch on my wrist did its thing and put it on the phone.

But then, as so often happens, she became pushy and
demanding. She started requiring me to perform active zone minutes. You have to push your pulse up to at least 93 beats

per minutes and then push it up to 113 beats per minute for double zone minutes. And she really wants me to go at 127 beats per minute. No more leisurely pleasure walks - now I am stepping out like a crazed madman sweating in the Florida sun where no one goes except Mad Dogs and Englishmen.

She reminds me of Sgt Daniels, an excellent but demanding young Marine NCO. Sgt Daniels was leading a run of our Marine unit. One Marine stumbled and started to fall out. Sgt Daniels was having none of it. She shouted and yelled and made him complete the run. After that he went to sickbay where they found he had broken his leg.

SSgt Fitibt has taken to exhorting me to go faster in many different languages. It is all telepathic - she is in my head! I know some of the words - Korean - Nakaja, Hebingday! Balyway, Hwang!, and Russian поторапливаться!, but the rest of her exhortations are in a variety of unknown languages. But I understand - move faster and faster.

I could take her off my wrist, or quit charging her, or throw her in the lake. But she has taken over my mind and body!! Invasion of the Body Snatchers!

And she mocks me, laughing and goading me. Oh, the Humanity! Where will it all end?

US Department of State - Russian Disinformation


Click to View the report

US Department of State - Russian Disinformation


Social Media is a very important way to communicate. As the graphics below show, many people in the US use social media.
Younger people use technology at higher rates than older people.

There are many different Social Media Platforms. The table below shows them by popularity. Youtube and Facebook has the largest usage. Video has become increasingly important, with Youtube now outperforming Facebook, although both platforms use Video.

Click the link below to read the full article:



Homes Size - Then and Now


Home size - Then and Now


Tiny Houses - Then and Now

Back to the Future

The tiny home movement is interesting. I am in favor of it. Living with less and making less of an impact on the environment is a worthy goal.

It is also back the future.  For most of mankinds existence we lived in housing of moderate size. 

All four sets of my great grandparents homesteaded in western South Dakota in first decade of the 1900. The claim shacks were built on site, sometimes with sod or dugouts.  Tiny Houses.


Homestead Acts

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Norwegian settlers in North Dakota, 1898

The Homestead Acts were several laws in the United States by which an applicant could acquire ownership of government land or the public domain, typically called a homestead. In all, more than 160 million acres (650 thousand km2; 250 thousand sq mi) of public land, or nearly 10 percent of the total area of the United States, was given away free to 1.6 million homesteaders; most of the homesteads were west of the Mississippi River.

An extension of the homestead principle in law, the Homestead Acts were an expression of the Free Soil policy of Northerners who wanted individual farmers to own and operate their own farms, as opposed to Southern slave-owners who wanted to buy up large tracts of land and use slave labor, thereby shutting out free white farmers.

The first of the acts, the Homestead Act of 1862, opened up millions of acres. Any adult who had never taken up arms against the Federal government of the United States could apply. Women and immigrants who had applied for citizenship were eligible. The 1866 Act explicitly included black Americans and encouraged them to participate, but rampant discrimination, systemic barriers and bureaucratic inertia slowed black gains.[1] Historian Michael Lanza argues that while the 1866 law pack was not as beneficial as it might have been, it was part of the reason that by 1900 one quarter of all Southern black farmers owned their own farms.[2]

Siesta Key, Sarasota, Florida Sep 9, 2020 Military Officers Association

Click for more photos 


Unconditional Surrender - Kissing the War Goodbye

The iconic 25 feet tall statue on the Bayfront in Sarasota is in trouble. The Arts Commission wants to banish it from the waterfront and locate it far away from the bay and downtown. Some people view it as condoning sexual assault. Others think it is without artistic merit.

The general public likes it and wants it to stay. Veterans groups like the statue.

The sculpture depicts the famous kiss on Times Square in New York. The kiss took place when Japan surrendered. World War II ended and people spontaneoulsy went to public places to celebrate.

The photo is a happy defining moment for America’s Greatest Generation celebrating the end of the long and bloody war. My father was home on leave having fought all through North Africa and Italy. He had orders report for the invasion of Japan. He and most other veterans who were headed towards Japan were very happy when World War II ended.

There were two photos of the kiss. One was taken by professional photographer Alfred Eisenstaed. His wartime photos covered everything from the rise of Hitler to the fall of Japan. He died on Aug. 23, 1995. Navy photographer Lt. Victor Jorgensen took the other photo and titled his photograph "Kissing the War Goodbye."

There have been several men and women who claimed to be the people in the photo. The consensus seems to be that it was Sailor George Mendonsa, home on leave from action in the South Pacific, and Dental Assistant Greta Zimmer.


"Mendonsa was on leave and had been on a date with another woman when he heard the war was over. His date, Rita Petrie, is seen in the background of the photo. She said she didn’t mind that he kissed another woman amid the celebration. In fact, she became his wife of seven decades."

“Either I was dopey or something, but it didn’t bother me!” she told CBS, adding that he would sometimes repeat the performance. “It’ll come up that he’s ‘The Kissing Sailor’. So the kissing sailor has to think he has to kiss everybody. So he does!”


"Mendonsa served on the destroyer The Sullivans" named for five brothers who were killed in WWII. "He was home on his last day of leave and was slated to return to active duty. He had seen the terrors of the war, and what was on his mind that triumphant day was the memory of the nurses, “the Angels in White” who had cared unselfishly for the wounded and dying soldiers, sailors and Marines he served with."

"When he saw that same white uniform, he reacted spontaneously, briefly left his girlfriend (whom he later married), rushed to Zimmer and hugged and kissed her."

In an interview archived with the Veterans History Project, Greta Zimmer remembered: “Suddenly, I was grabbed by a sailor. It wasn’t that much of a kiss. It was more of a jubilant act that he didn’t have to go back."

“I found out later he was so happy that he didn’t have to go back to the Pacific where they had already been through the war. The reason he grabbed somebody dressed like a nurse is that he felt so very grateful to the nurses who took care of the wounded.”

After the kiss in Times Square, the pair did not meet again until both of their identities were proven. They reunited in Times Square in 1980 to recreate the famous moment, sans the kiss, and again in 2012.

Greta Zimmer was a refugee from Austria who immigrated when she was 15. Her parents were killed in the holocaust.


The statue is reputed to be the most photographed site in the City of Sarasota. The statue was donated by naval veteran Jack Curran. He gave one half of a million dollars for the production of the statue.

John Seward Johnson II was the artist. He is the grandson of Johnson & Johnson co-founder Robert Johnson. He is known for his cast bronze sculptures of people doing everyday things as well as larger-than-life works. He said of his creations, “People often revisit their favorites. They become like friends.” He died in Key West at age 89 on March 10, 2020.

The sculpture is entitled Unconditional Surrender for the terms of the surrender. The double entendre is the surrender of the young woman to the sailor.

The name "Unconditional Surrender" may have doomed the statue since it is now viewed by some as a sexual assault. The original name "Kissing the War Goodbye" is more acceptable.

According to the New York Post, “In recent years, bloggers and other critics have tried to use the VJ Day kiss as an example of sexual assalt."

It is now controversial with some groups viewing it as sexual assault. Others view it without artistic merit.

Mendonsa, a fisherman like his father, died just two days short of his 96th birthday on Feb. 17, 2019. His wife, Rita Petry who is smiling in the background of the Eisenstaedt photo, died in 2019. They were happily married for 70 years.

Gretta married Mischa Friedman and had two children. She went on to become a designer and artist. She died Sept. 8, 2016, age 92, and is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

Jack Curran died on Dec. 22, 2015. He was 94. According to an article in the Herald-Tribune, his longtime friend James Harden said Curran was one of the most congenial people he ever met. “His wife [Margaret] just loved it. So that’s why he bought it.”

The Public Art Committee of Sarasota opposes the sculpture. They do not see as a piece of art. The chairwoman of the Public Art Committee said in 2009: “It doesn’t even qualify as kitsch ... It is like a giant cartoon image drafted by a computer emulating a famous photograph. It’s not the creation of an artist. It’s an artist copying a famous image.”

Their protestations notwithstanding, art or not, kitsch or not, the statue has been heartily embraced by veterans groups and a majority of Sarasotans who are concerned not at all about its artistic merits but take pleasure in the very sight of it.

Photographs and stories about Sarasota’s larger-than-life statue have been seen throughout the world.

And, recently, into controversy as the #MeToo movement took hold. In February 2019, vandals painted #MeToo in red on the nurse’s leg.

Creating A Town Square


This piece was prepared by Craig Hullinger and Pete Pointner. 

The photos illustrate many attractive town squares.  They come in a variety of sizes and shapes - a public space that can be a square, circle, triangle, or path. They provide a center for human activity and a focal meeting point for the city.

This article will discuss the merits of the Town Square, and outline steps that a community can take to develop or improve a town square. It also provides examples to illustrate a variety of design concepts.

Monumental Squares  

The Plaza Mayor in Madrid is a monumental square.  It is a great location for major events, but is a little too large and cold for smaller local events. Other examples of monumental squares include Red Square in Moscow, Tianenmen Square in Bejing, and St Peters Square in the Vatican. The mall in Washington DC provides this function, but with more grass than is typical for a large public square.

Small Squares

Trevi Fountain in Rome is a great attraction. There are numerous other examples around the world.  They can be the focal point of a small community, or a number of them can be linked to form an interesting public open space.

Medium Squares

The Piazza del Mercato Nuovo in Florence is a very nice plaza.  It is small and intimate, but permits room for shops, dining and circulation. A smaller Village can provide one square, or a larger community can link several squares with a pedestrian path.

Design Elements

The town square should be in or near the town center. It should be close to major streets and transit, but is often better if it is not adjacent to major busy highways. It should be well landscaped but much of the surface should be a hard surface facilitating walking.  Some or all of the perimeter of the square should have shops and dining opportunities. It should be a focal point of the community providing a sense of identity.

Quality sculpture enhances a public square.  A tall monument can bring a unifying symbol to the community. The square should be a point of pride for a community and high quality art will help that perception. 

Sculpture that is incorporated into fountains is a great way to bring focus and vitality to a square.  And incorporating wind, solar, motion and landscaping into a sculpture would form a great attraction.

How to Create Your Town Square

One simple way is to simply buy property downtown and create a new square.  This approach is also the most expensive.  It is affordable if your CBD is in decline.

For a town with substantial growth, a public private partnership can be effective.  The city works with landowners and developers to create incentives to build the square.  An example would be where existing buildings are two stories. If there is enough demand for new housing or commercial space, the city could rezone the property so that new taller buildings could be created while creating the town square. 

Examples of Town Squares

There are many descriptions of public squares and gathering places. The use of the term town square emphasizes the following characteristics:

  • In or near the center of the city

  • It is recognized as the central gathering place for the city

One might say that town squares meeting these criteria could be characterized as public spaces for gatherings of people in the town center. But as pointed out in the text, public squares also include public gathering places for sub-areas within a large urban area or public gathering spaces associated with historic buildings or sites or unique natural features or functions.  Then there are numerous urban design alternatives and questions which may distinguish what one person calls a town square and another simply a plaza, courtyard or venue for public events and gatherings.

 To build on the variables previously noted consider the following:

1. The size of the square, its shape and dimensions;

2. The surfaces --  hardscape versus landscape;

3. The adjacent uses, their massing or ability to define the public space;

4. The uses of the central space, temporary or permanent, and the physical facilities and infrastructure necessary to support them;

5. Access and linkages for pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit as well as provision for automobiles; and,

6. The scale, symbolism, location and orientation of public art (including murals) interpretive mechanisms or water features.

 The following is an elaboration and examples for each of these 6 considerations.

1. The size of the square is primarily determined by the area it serves and therefore the number of people likely to gather there.  St. Peter’s square and other monumental squares previously described serve to allow gatherings from large urban areas or international participants. 


1. St. Peter’s Square, Rome   2. Historic Sea Side Square,

San Diego

The medieval town square served as a gathering place for worshipers and was typically the site of the local market, was surrounded by a wall of buildings which defined the space, in this example triangular in shape. Sadly, many of these squares are now dominated by cars.


3. Medieval Square                 4. Brussels Square with Cars 

Within historic districts and shopping areas, small, more intimate spaces or courtyards allow customers of nearby shops a quiet place to sit and talk or rest. The ancient medieval walled city of Rhodes has a central square where the inhabitants could gather. Modern examples of a town square can be found in the municipality of the Villages in Florida.  Each sub-area or village of this city of over 120,000 has its own town center.  Each square is defined by retail and service establishments on the perimeter.  In the center is a space for entertaining performances.  Folding chairs are brought out and arranged on the paved surface for people to socialize and take in a performance.  Each corner of each of the 3 squares has a small Tiki hut serving refreshments. 

5. Town Square in the Ancient Walled City of Rhodes                           6. ATown Square in the Villages


Often, the public gathering place is an adaptively used parking lot which attracts people for a farmers market or a public square around which such markets attract thousands as the sidewalks surrounding the Wisconsin state capitol. These may or may not be considered town squares.


7. St. Petersburg Farmer’s Market          8. Madison Wi. Farmer’s market 

Lineal streets or aisles can also serve pedestrians and shopping functions and create unique places with identity and character but are not “town squares” as defined in this post.


9. The Plaka in Athens


And, new developments may incorporate an “Island” round-about with perimeter shopping and parking.


10. St. Armond’s Circle, Sarasota, Fl 11. Town Center in Wheaton, IL

2. The surfaces of town squares, in order to accommodate many persons, should incorporate some durable hardscapes with appropriate infrastructure though this can be of a permeable material for environmental reasons. In St. Petersburg, Florida, a large open space is defined by a stadium, elevator buildings of condos and offices and opens up on one side to a harbor with a marina and a public park land side. It is designed for parking but is converted to a farmer’s market on Saturdays.


12. St. Pete Farmer’s Market

3. The classic town square is illustrated by St. Marks in Venice which accommodates tourists for shopping, eating, resting or simply taking in the remarkable historic architecture. The observation tower can be seen from many locations in Venice and is a design element furnishing identity to the square and for the City.


13. St. Marks, Venice

In other cases, a public space is not a town square as described earlier but an elongated open space with a visual terminus which can be filled with citizens like the mall from the nation’s capital or the Washington monument in DC or the open area with a sculptural element that attracts thousands from around the world like the Vietnam Memorial.


14. A Mall in Washington DC     15. Vietnam Memorial, Washington

4. Some gathering spaces are tightly defined, some, not so. A large public gathering space is in the “Boston Commons” and though not tightly defined serves as a Town Center and there are multiple functions in this historic space and surrounding buildings. Millennium Park in downtown Chicago is connected to the Lakeshore open space.  The major gathering space defined by tall buildings on two sides and an extension of the park on two sides, is further defined by a structure which arches over a grassy area and a fixed seating area for viewing performances in a large pavilion.  The structure also contains the speakers to provide excellent acoustics for thousands of persons who attend free performances.


16. Boston Commons 17.Millennium Park, Chicago, IL


5. Access is important, by pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit. St. Petersburg’s farmers market,  described previously, provides accommodation for bicycles and public transit as well as landscaped and generously proportioned sidewalks.


18. St. Petersburg Streetscape     19. Bicycle Accommodations

6. Design

Ahh, so important.  So much can be designed into a public space to give it a unique identity.  This can be a focal point, an interpretive opportunity, a photo op, or an interactive attraction. Many activities occur in the Civic Center Plaza of Chicago which has a Picasso sculpture kids love to play on.  Tarpon Springs, Florida, though not a town center as presented in this article, has a public gathering place along the main street through the historic center with some room for gatherings and a sculpture and which commemorates a historic person which gives identity, serves as a photo and interpretive opportunity.

20. Picasso, Chicago Civic Center               21. Tarpon Springs Photo Op

In closing, there are many delightful public places, large and small.  True town centers sometimes have evolved from historical forces but new ones must be created, designed and implemented. That takes vision, sensitivity, skill and perseverance.  

About the Authors 

About Pete Pointner




About Craig Hullinger