Pizza

Wednesday is Santarpio’s night with Ash. It tends to be a long day for me, as I go straight from work to the Brookline Teen Center to help the high school students with their Tier 2 classes for middle school students. Currently, they are working on building an RC plane, an electric scooter, battlebots, and an architecture project. After the teen center I head back to Eastie, green to blue, and meet Ash at the Airport stop. We then walk over to Santarpio’s for pizza, beer, and a grilled sausage from Lefty. We love sitting at the bar and having dinner there each week.

Rain

Not much to report from today. Another gray and very rainy day here in Boston. Continued at work on a residential hall renovation and then came home and attempted to make a spicy Szechuan soup with cabbage, onions, and chicken. It turned out pretty good, and I have some leftovers which I will eat later in the week.

Gray

With our DD deadline complete last Friday, I refocused my work on a residence hall at Babson College. We are not the prime on this job, its a design build, so we are helping the contractor, Shawmut. It is gray and rainy here today, but there is something nice about those kind of days. We continued to look for flights to Europe this summer, but have not settled on anything yet, although we are now looking at options via Norwegian Airlines. Their Premium cabin is not very expensive, so hopefully we can find something that works, and will get us to Krakow in time for the wedding. Homemade Szechuan chicken again tonight…so good.

Wintrop

Got up this morning and took my usual weekend run from Orient Heights to Revere Beach. Sped up video below. Took a walk with Ash to Adrianna’s for some coffee and to talk about our upcoming trip to Poland this summer. Trying to figure out the logistics of getting to Wroclaw cheaply.

In the afternoon I went to the Brookline Teen Center to teach my coding class, this was the first class of a 4 week session. The students were motivated and interested in the material, which always makes life easier. We made a quick race car game using Scratch.

After class I headed over to Adam’s house to say Happy Birthday. He had just come home from a short trip, and I just wanted to stop by quickly and say hello. His girls baked him a nice chocolate cake, and he was taking them to have sushi for dinner.

In the evening, Ash and I drove to Winthrop to have dinner at Rosetti’s, however, upon arriving, it was made clear to us that without a reservation we would not be be seated until very late. The place smelled amazing, so I look forward to planning ahead next time and tasting some of their food.

We ended up at a Mexican place called La Siesta. For Boston Mexican food it was good, and I’d be happy to go back. Our evening started early, and therefore ended early, as I had to get up at the crack of dawn for a flying lesson.

TGIF

We reached our deadline at work on Friday, and while the crew went out to celebrate, I stayed behind to finish up some other work that needed to get done. During the day, two of our dogs, Simon and Lulu were scheduled for some dental work. Lulu apparently went first, and after having ten teeth removed, the dental machine broke, so Simon was spared the experience.

Ash met me after work and we went to Bond for a cocktail. I believe this place was an old bank building, and the space itself was quite beautiful, very high ceilings, low booths. A man from Florida and his wife who were sitting adjacent to use, bought Ash and I a round of drinks, saying we looked like a lovely couple. This has happened to us a few times, it must have something to do with Ash. After drinks we headed to Legal Waterfront for some oysters and clam chowder. A very Boston evening indeed.

Szechuan Chicken!

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.

It is supposed to snow tomorrow, and my good friend Scott Weiss will be in town visiting. He will stay with us tomorrow night and hopefully join for our weekly pilgrammage to Santarpio’s!

Spring

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!

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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.

Alewife Station and Design

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.

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City of Boston

March 25th 1983

Alewife Transportation Hub Design Meeting

Meeting Minutes

 

Members Present:

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: Grey!

RW: Grey?

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?

RM: Restrooms?

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.

RW: Dude.

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

 

White Christmas

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.

The Weather Outside is Frightful

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.

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St. Mary’s, Jesuit Residence at Boston College
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.

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Some of the crew began wearing cold weather gear this weekend
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.

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Look at these two popsicles