Today I continued work on a new project, well at least new to me. Still helping a team here get DD documents done by the end of the week. I get a daily email from Instructables that highlights interesting projects, and noticed an ‘ible for making Szechuan chicken. I’ve been interested in learning how to make this dish, which I first had at the Szechuan Palace at the Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix, AZ. It’s like crispy, spicy, chicken, but the most notable flavor/sensation is the tongue numbing feeling this dish provides. Turns out this is due to the use of Szechuan Peppercorns. At lunch today I took the Orange Line over to Chinatown and stopped at the Jia Ho Supermarket and picked up some of that magical spice, along with some other ingredients. I was skeptical I would be able to recreate that dish, but the Instructable was spot on, and it came out nearly identical to what I remember ordering. A definite new addition to my rotation.
Today was MLK day, and I spent the day working at the office. The office was actually closed for the holiday, but I was asked to help out with a project that has a deadline this Friday. There was a little bit of snow this morning, but it was all gone by the time I came home from work. Some coworkers asked me to lunch today, and they decided on Qdoba, which is terrible. Another reminder of how much I miss Sonoran cuisine. Leftover chicken for dinner, and Ash and I began planning for my brother’s wedding in Poland this summer. Thinking of exploring Croatia after the wedding.
It seems that in an instant Spring has sprung in Boston. Perhaps it is silly to say such a thing, as the weather here changes on a whim, but it was nearly 90 degrees the other day. It was rather gorgeous temperature wise over the weekend, and it was nice to sit in the backyard during the late afternoon and relax with a cold beer. I can see plenty of that happening during the summer.
Tomorrow CBT is sending me on my own to a meeting of some importance, and because my boss is out of town, their must be a great deal of apprehension on their end, as well as from the contractor and our consultants. I’m just hoping not to screw up too much. Doubt anybody is going to cut off my tie when I return to the office. On the plus side, I’ve used the company 3D printer to print a large pot so I can have an office plant. Came out very nice!
On Monday I had lunch with a former student, Gabe, and we tried the new downtown location for Chicken and Rice Guys. Reading the news the next day, I saw that people were getting E.Coli from Chicken and Rice Guys and several had to be hospitalized. So far no issues for me. As for Gabe, also no E.Coli, but he is working on bringing a new product to market – the Coffee Cookie. It’s a small rechargeable heating device to keep your coffee hotter longer. It slides underneath the paper cups you get from typical coffee shops like Starbucks. He is hoping to sell 1,000 of these devices, and I’ve offered to help him with assembly once he receives all his parts from China.
All of our stuff has finally been moved out of our old place in Lexington, and we are fully moved into our home in East Boston. We made several trips over the weekend, and Ash did a final walkthrough with our landlord the other day. We got our deposit back, so everything seems to be in order. We have a 3 day weekend because of Patriots Day here in Boston, and we are hoping to get a lot of housework done.
It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks, as Ash and I have finally closed and moved into our new home in East Boston. Probably more safe to say the home is new to us, but certainly not new, as it was built in 1907. We are very happy to have our own place in Boston, and are excited to be much closer to the city.
There was a small scare the other day, as one of our dogs, Simon, fell down some stairs and must have been knocked unconscious. I was pretty sure he was dead when I found him, and it took him quite a while to recover. Luckily, the little guy pulled through, and soon after he was up and about as if nothing had happened. I do notice, however there is a bit of apprehension on his part when approaching the stairs. To be expected I guess.
Our new home is located in the Orient Heights neighborhood of East Boston, which is 4 stops on the Blue Line from downtown Boston – not too bad! We have a small yard with a porch, and nearly a view of the city. My commute to work has gone from over an hour each way to just 25 minutes door to door. Unfortunately, Ashleigh’s commute has become much longer – but having our own place makes up for her time spent on the road.
Construction Administration has begun on the Devlin project at work, and RFI and Submittals have started to come in already. We are in a preconstruction phase, with minor demo work happening, but the majority of construction will begin once school lets out. At that point, there will be a tight schedule to have everything up and running before classes resume in August.
In addition, I’ve started my Deskie hours at Artisan’s Asylum. This just means that I work the front desk from 6-10pm on Thursday nights in order to get a subsidized membership. It’s also a good way to meet new people, and still feel like I’m part of makerspace. Still have not had a chance to make anything here, but soon enough.
All for now.
An Architect is always learning. The most successful in the profession are those who continually ask questions, broaden their knowledge, and constantly look for ways to improve all aspects of your work.
To that end, I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on some of the public structures I frequent on nearly a daily basis. After months of looking for documents, emailing city offices, and spending time in libraries, I recently came upon a rather unique document that illustrates the process of design. What follows is a conversation, recorded nearly 30 years ago regarding the building of a specific public transportation structure. The names have been changed to protect any unwanted legal entanglements.
City of Boston
March 25th 1983
Alewife Transportation Hub Design Meeting
John I. Oneil, Head of Boston Transportation Division
Ruth McStearny, Public Relations Office Liaison
Gerald Knickerbottom, Outreach Commissioner
Rory Walsh, Division of Public Works
Sandra Middletuts, Scribe
JO: I’d like to bring this meeting to order and begin discussions on the planning and design of the Alewife Transportation Hub. It will represent the future of commuting in the city of Boston, and should become the gold standard for public transit hubs all over the world. Let’s begin with basic design decisions, how about starting with color?
GK: Like super grey. No color whatsoever. People like that.
RM: Hmm. Intriguing, but perhaps some color could positively affect commuter’s moods? Thoughts?
GK: You’re not hearing me. Grey. It’s not black, its not white – it’s like not even a color. People will see whatever color they want, thus everybody will be, like, super happy all the time. They will be the most happy people ever. Biggly happy. Trust me.
JO: Perhaps a little bit of color – a hint, a hue or some other important sounding adjective? A smidgen, yes, how about a smidgen of color?
GK: No fucking color! Grey. Trust me. I’m always right. It’s the best color that’s not really a color.
SM: Somebody is touching my thigh.
GK: My hands are too small to touch anything. I’ve never touched anything ever.
JO: So…I guess it could be grey, perhaps we can table the color decision for a few more weeks.
GK: Good, when we come back to the table let’s make this building grey.
JO: Let’s discuss commuter comfort for a moment. Thoughts?
RM: I was thinking of enclosing the structure and maintaining a comfortable ambient temperature for commuters.
GK: Worst. Idea. Ever.
RW: There must be worse ideas than keeping people warm in the winter and cool in the summer? Like sneak attacks in Yemen, giant walls, and genital groping.
GK: All good things by the way. The best things.
RW: Those are not good things.
JO: Please people, let’s try and focus here. We were talking about commuter comfort and enclosing the station with a building envelope.
GK: Waste of time! You want it to be needle-stingy cold in the winter, and reek of hot genitals in the summer. That’s what the people want. People are coming and going, you want to ensure they don’t want to be there. Why make it a comfortable place to be? makes no sense. Trust me. Biggly.
RM: Sometimes you have to wait for a bus, or a carpool, and it’s nice if you can wait somewhere where the temperature is comfortable. Boston can be quite cold in the winter and hot and humid in the summer.
JO: Very true, Ruth. I’m thinking…
GK: Obviously, none of you are designers nor architects! No heat or air conditioning fits perfectly with my grey lack of color motif.
RW: You are neither of those as well.
GK: I went to Wharton damn you!
RM: No you didn’t, you just took a class there one time, maybe.
JO: I had sex with a man once, doesn’t mean I’m gay…
RW: Wait, what? I think it does actually.
RM: Bi maybe, but I try not to categorize people’s sexuality.
GK: Agreed. Using a completely made up situation, just because somebody urinated on my chest while I shouted “Pee on me!” at the top of my lungs does not mean I enjoy that sort of activity. It was so, so warm…
SM: How warm? It’s for my notes.
JO: Okay, I guess we don’t have to have a closed building envelope and comfortable temperatures inside. So far we have a grey building that’s hot in the summer and freezing in the winter – that’s probably just within our budget. How about we move on to ease of access? Should it be easy to enter and exit the structure during busy times of day?
RW: That makes sense – maybe several exits that help keep traffic flowing during peak times?
GK: Really? Terrible. Sad, actually. You need very few exits, and they should all enter onto the same one laned street that goes directly into a stop light. That way it’s constantly clogged, like my pores.
RW: Why would we want to make it difficult to exit?
GK: People love their cars – so let’s give them extra time to be in them. Imagine how grateful people will be if we keep them lined up and wrapped around the garage like sardines in their cars. They will be so thankful – like super thankful. Why is everybody not as smart as me?
RM: What about incentive pricing plans for frequent users?
GK: You’re stupid. And ugly. Why have complicated plans that nobody could understand? Dumbest idea ever.
JO: Going back to access, what about pedestrian or cyclist access?
GK: They should have to risk their lives negotiating paths that directly cross fast moving traffic. It will make them more nimble and they will all thank me for that.
RM: That could be dangerous and put people at risk?
RW: Yeah – maybe we should separate pedestrians and cars.
GK: Fine. Make sure the pedestrians and cyclists have stop signs when they want to cross the street. Make them responsible for not being hit by cars. Humans were not made to walk, it’s gross. I never walk anywhere, ever.
JO: Bike parking?
GK: Metal fucking batting cages…next!
JO: Looks like we have a grey building that lacks any sort of temperature control, it’s difficult to enter and exit with a vehicle, and pedestrians can access it only by taking their lives in their into their own hands. Anything else?
RW: Smart. Thousands of people will go through it each day, it should have restrooms.
GK: Obviously I like the smell of hot urine, so let’s force people to relieve themselves on the floor.
GK: Fine. One stall for men, and one stall for women – nothing more. Also, make it terrible in there. If nobody uses them we never have clean them – self perpetuating cycle. Saves money. I went to Wharton.
RW: You never went to Wharton.
GK: Whatever. I was too smart for Wharton.
JO: I think we need to wrap today’s meeting up, but just to clarify…
SM: My other thigh is being touched.
GK: Ruth did it.
JO: …just to clarify, the new Alewife Transportation Hub will be grey, uncomfortable, dangerous, and lack appropriate restroom facilities.
GK: I build the best stations.
JO: Great, thanks everybody for being at the meeting. I think we can use this conversation as jumping off point for our next discussion regarding TD Garden and North Station.
End of meeting minutes
So hard to stay on top of these posts – weeks keep seeming to fly by faster. Before I know it, many weeks have passed without a posting. Since my last post I’ve traveled to Vegas for a soccer tournament, purchased plane tickets to Israel, and begun the search for a new home.
The team traveled to Vegas over the MLK Holiday. We stayed at the Aria, and I shared a room with my father who came up for the tournament – my mom was in Nebraska visiting family. I think this team has a lot more talent than our Chile team, and hopefully we will get some more practices under out belt before heading to Israel this summer. It’s a great group of guys, and I had a lot of fun playing over the weekend. My body seemed to hold up pretty well – unusual for me – and I returned home with just some minor bumps and bruises. The hardest part of the trip was the flight home, which arrived in Boston around 1:30am. Having planned ahead, I booked a hotel at the Club Quarters, which is not too far from my office. It allowed me to get to sleep a bit faster, and sleep in a bit longer before heading to work the next (that same) day.
I will not go on a rant about how terrible Vegas is, but it’s pretty terrible. I did not enjoy any part of it – the city that is – and hope never to return. I just do not understand the appeal. That being said, it was nice to spend some time with my father – we ate oysters and had some fantastic Italian food off strip.
Ash and I finally purchased out tickets to Israel – we are flying El Al, which actually has a direct Boston to Israel flight. They partner with Jet Blue, and Boston is a hub for Jet Blue so it makes sense. It was not the cheapest flight, but I think it will be worth not having other stops. We also made reservations at a hotel, the Dan Boutique. It seems close to the center of town and the old quarter, so I think we will be in good shape.
We have spent a fair amount of time lately looking at new homes to buy. We’ve made the decision to try and live as close into the city as possible, and are content to own a condo. We’ve looked at a couple of different areas, including Cambridge, Sommerville, Charlestown, and East Boston. East Boston is by far my favorite – the real estate is a bit cheaper, but that area of town still has a bit of an edge, unlike Charlestown. Cambridge and Sommerville are hit and miss, but can be quite expensive. We are still keeping our options open, but have not found anything we love quite yet.
At work we’ve submitted our documents for bidding on the BC Devlin project, and I will be working CA on that project once it gets into construction. For now I’ve been helping with the Babson College Residential Masterplan and also a very small renovation at BC which is placing a small lounge area inside a dormitory. The dorm is quite old and has no real facilities available for residents, so this will certainly be a welcome addition to the building.
I started writing this post but never actually published it a few weeks ago. Since then I have worked on two new projects – BC Kostka and Wework, and had an offer rejected on a condo in East Boston. Today Ash and I looked at another place in East Boston and are going back tomorrow with our agent. It needs a lot of work – but is close to the T and is a single family home. On a whim, Ash and I went to Salem this afternoon for lunch. I had never been before, and really enjoyed being there. I especially enjoyed the historic colonial homes, really beautiful. Additionally, I’ve started volunteering once a week at Artisan’s Asylum – see image below of giant Snow Man I stumbled upon the other day while walking through there.
Another revolution around our star Sun came to an end on a completely arbitrary day marked by a completely arbitrary year. Ash and I spent the holiday extended weekend at home, cooking extensive dinners, and having quiet cocktail hours by the fire. We also took a drive up to Gloucester, MA on New Years Day, walked among the lobster boats, and stood at the edge of the shore on the beach looking east. Gloucester is a wonderful New England town, and even though the wind was whipping off the ocean that day, it was still a pleasant visit.
The week after vacation was tiresome at work, as our CD deadline for the Devlin Project at BC was Friday. The team spent long days at work, usually 8am – 10pm each day. We were able to send out our CD set around 6pm on Friday, a little later than our noon goal, but a few late hiccups with Revit required our attention late in the day. Nonetheless, the set was sent out and I’m quite happy with the completion of drawings on my first set in quite a long time. Not sure what will come next, most likely CA work with the Devlin project, but we will see.
We had a lot of snow over the weekend, so we spent a fair amount of our time indoors. That did not stop me from taking my usual morning runs on Saturday and Sunday, but the snow seemed to inspire the pups to more napping than usual. I spent a good deal of time working on a side project for my friends Olga and Dan, so the snow was probably a good thing – keeping me in my work chair throughout the weekend.
This week will be a short week, as I will be traveling to Las Vegas on Friday morning to play in the Kings Cup with the MUSA 35 team. I always enjoy playing with this squad, and am looking forward to seeing the team again. My father will be joining in Vegas, and two friends will be staying Friday night through Saturday afternoon, so it will be good to catch up with all of them.
Also, Lu used Ferg to stay warm.
Well, it wasn’t much of a white Christmas here in Boston, but it was still lovely to have 3 days off and spend some time at home and relax. It seems Boston was a ghost town last week, and this week leading up the New Year holiday looks equally as dead. It certainly makes for a nice commute to work, however, I am certain the regular volume of people will be packing themselves onto the T once again after Jan 1.
While snow was not in the story line this year, it was still a bit chilly. Yet, with our new 1/4 chord of wood from Beech Hill Firewood, we were cozy and warm with a crackling fireplace all weekend.We did not stay inside all weekend, however, as we purchased tickets for the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One, and went to an 8pm showing at the Burlington theater. We arrived just a bit early to sample the bar selections, but were gutted to find no alcohol in site – the bar was closed. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the reclining seats and the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga.
For Christmas Eve we booked a table at Marliave, one of the oldest restaurants in the city, for a classic meal at an iconic restaurant. I’ll admit it was not my favorite meal, but the oysters were delicious and the cocktails were well concocted – I tried the Bourbon Democrat and was pleased with the selection.
After dinner we settled on a nightcap at The Last Hurrah. They were closing up shop, so we did not spend much time there. Just enough to finish our drinks and take photographs for some fairly inebriated patrons. They asked us to take a photo of them in the lobby, and a few minutes later asked us again to take a photo in the bar area as if we had never seen each other before.
With our new smoker, we attempted to make a porchetta for Christmas dinner. We purchased a pork tenderloin and a pork belly at Prime, a butcher shop in Arlington. Incredible selection there, and certainly a place I’ll return. They even had a nice selection of wine and whiskey, saving us a stop on the way home. The porchetta turned out really well, but the belly is just so rich, it’s hard to eat too much of it. The tenderloin had a ton of smokey flavor, really delicious. Using the smoker has been exceptionally easy, and produces some delicious meats.
I’m back in the office today, and headed to Boston Barber during lunch for a quick haircut. The banter in there between the barbers is great – deep Boston accents talking about suspect North End activities. I’m heading to a comedy show with Adam on Thurs, and then we are having dinner at his house on Friday.
Additionally, I’ve picked up a small side gig helping Olga and Dan draw plans for an addition to their house. It’s good practice for me, and I’m looking forward to helping them with their project.
Winter has finally arrived here in Boston. We’ve already had our first (and second) snows, and last weekends low temperatures reminded me why people live in Arizona. Still, the cold weather has not defeated me yet, in fact, I find it quite pleasant to come home to our comfy little house and start a fire in the living room. There are still deadlines to be hit at work, and we again had some visitors this this weekend, so things are staying pretty busy in New England.
Last week I finally had the chance to visit the building I’ve been working on, Devlin Hall at Boston College. It was good to walk around and orient myself with the actual space, and I’m glad Chad took me along for the site visit. We did have some business on our schedule, starting with a short meeting with the client regarding interior finishes. We met at St. Mary’s, the Jesuit residence which was recently refurbished, to look at some of the wood finishes. It’s a really beautiful old building, and I’d love to spend time in that sitting room – felt like I was a Duke in England. Just needed some hunting dogs and a giant turkey leg. After discussing the finishes at St. Mary’s, we then headed over to Devlin and took some measurements and looked inside some of the old walls.
My parents came for a visit over the weekend, and got a little more than they expected with the weather. It was pretty chilly over the weekend, but that did not stop us from walking all over the city in an effort to show them around Boston. Friday evening we headed to Back Bay for a steak dinner at Abe and Louie’s, with Frank and I sharing a Bone In Ribeye – it was delicious. Again, it’s no Durants, but I think it’s probably the closest you can get in Boston.
Saturday we were lucky to meet with Adam for a tour of Fenway Park. It was the first day to buy season tickets at Fenway, so there were a lot of activities happening on the grounds. We walked all around Fenway, including up to the Green Monster, which I have not been up to before. Great view of the ballpark from up there, but we didn’t linger too long, as the cold wind was a bit much for us up there.
We headed back to our house during the late afternoon and were surprised to be gifted a new smoker from my parents. They had it shipped to a local Ace Hardware, and we are really looking forward to smoking some meats this winter! We were also gifted some amazing cook books, including Anthony Bourdain’s Appetites, Steve Raichlen’s Project Smoke, and an American Cake Cookbook for Ash which offers recipes of American cakes through the decades.
Saturday night ended with a nice dinner at Vinoteca Monica and then a nightcap at Four Winds. We ended up walking up and down Newbury on Sunday afternoon working up an appetite for our dinner at Island Creek Oyster Bar. The oysters were delicious and were the highlight of the meal for me.
My parents leave Boston this afternoon, so we are going to try and sneak another meal in before they go. I think we will head into the North End and look for something tasty to eat there, should be pretty easy.
It was a short work week for me, as CBT called the day at 2pm on Wednesday to allow everybody to head towards their families for the Thanksgiving holiday. We were still speeding toward a deadline, trying to get some renderings out to the client so they could make some decisions on finishes. Having put in some longs hours over the course of the last week, it was nice to get a break.
Usually we head to Flagstaff, Arizona for Thanksgiving with my family. Obviously, being 2,300+ miles away has made that a bit difficult this year, and so we opted to stay in Boston for the holiday and the long weekend. My good friend Adam invited us over to share Thanksgiving with his family, which also included his father Ned, Aunt Joan, Candy, and the little girls, Stella and Lu. It was a very nice evening, great food, and always nice to catch up with our good friends. It was very kind of them to include us in their family dinner.
After a great night on Thursday we had another friend, Scott, stay with us Friday evening through Saturday afternoon. Having not seen Scott for quite some time, it was nice to sit on the couch and enjoy some beverages before heading out for a nice dinner in Cambridge at Puritan & Co. followed by drinks with his sister at a few local watering holes in that area. Puritan & Co. had some rather delicious dinner rolls, and we were pleased with the Pork Belly Pancake (with fried oysters) and the Roasted Brussel Sprouts – really good.
The next day Scott and I watched some EPL games in the morning, and then headed to the South Street Diner for a quick lunch before walking across the street to South Station so he could get on his train back to New York. The South Street Diner is an old 50’s diner that is open 24/7. Food is basic diner fare, and will not win any awards, but I enjoyed the atmosphere – even though the bench seats did not seem to have enough seat for a comfortable sit. Needed 2-3 more inches, I guess people were a bit smaller back in the day.
After dropping off Scott at South Station, we had yet another friend in town, and we were excited to spend some time with Eric and Erin, good friends from Arizona. They had spend the weekend up north traveling through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, and were back in Boston for a few hours before their plane departed. We met at Faneuil Hall, and then walked down towards the North End to find spot to grab a drink and some food. We ended up at the Corner Cafe and had a few Sam Adam Winter Lagers before walking to the West End and grabbing a snack at Tavern. We ordered the Truffle Tots, and they must have used a snow shovel to put these things on a plate. I’ve never seen so many tater tots in my life. All 4 of us picked at the tots during our time there, and we barely made a dent. So. Many. Tots.
Ash and I spent the day running a few errands today, and now we are home cooking and putting up some Christmas lights. I’ve put a large Chuck Roast in the sous vide cooker, and it will spend about 6 hours in there, so I’m expecting some good results.