Royal India

Another week come and gone, and with a relatively light work week I used the time today to go over my drawings to try and limit mistakes for our check set Tuesday. Ash had a conference all day in Lexington, so we decided she should bring home dinner from one of our favorite Indian food restaurants, Royal India Bistro, located in the heart of downtown Lexington, MA. We ate there many times while we lived in Lexington, so it was nice to have a reason to eat their food again. Tomorrow we are going to work on booking our flights to Europe and some home improvement projects. No flight training scheduled this weekend.

Day to Day

Not much to mention for today. Spent a good portion of the work day going over architecture sheets and looking for minor mistakes to correct before our deadline – mispellings, covered dimensions, etc. Fairly unexciting. A bit strange as I’ve been asked to help out a team that has been working on this project for some time, hard for me to understand much about the project, and so am relegated to some fairly menial tasks. No matter, happy to help in any capacity.

I came home and uploaded the full length video of my last flight lesson in super fast mode. It’s fun to watch an hour or so flight in just a few minutes. Should be linked in below.

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!

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

 

Deadlines

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.

Back to the Grind

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, and a lot of great things have happened; new job, new President, and new clothes. The weather is beginning to get colder, it’s a windy gray afternoon here in Boston, but the leaves are still bright yellows and brown, and the streets are still picturesque and make me smile every time I’m out walking the dogs or headed to the bus stop for work.

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Speaking of work, I’ve officially rejoined the workforce, being fortunate enough to land a job with CBT Architects. Hard to believe it’s been 3 weeks since my first day, and 4 months since my last day working at Brophy College Preparatory. Work started pretty fast out of the gate, as I joined the Academic team working on an interior renovation project at Boston College, Devlin Hall. We had two weeks before a DD deadline, so I was thrown into the fray picking up red lines – and learning Revit along the way – helping to get everything in order before our deadline.

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With our drawings in on time, we were able to relax a bit last week, but there was still a lot to do, as we had to get some renderings together and fix a few more red lines before a meeting next week. Everybody at the firm has been very nice to me, and I am looking forward to learning as much as possible during my time there.

In other news, we have a new President, and without getting too political, I’m concerned about what the next 4-8 years might bring. It was interesting to vote in a predominantly blue state for the first time, as I looked down the ballot, I was shocked to see Donald Trump as the only Republican on the entire ticket – for any race. It was nearly 100% Democrats running unopposed. I don’t prescribe to much (if any) Republican ideals, but candidates should not be able to run unopposed in such numbers – that can’t be good for anybody. As  you might expect from Massachusetts, it was eerily quiet on the morning after the election, as you can see in this video.

Today the weather is quite cold, but it has been pretty mild up until today. That has not stopped me from buying another Goorin Bros. hat – a newsboy style head topper for weekends and more casual outings. So far I’m really enjoying being a hat wearer, and even bought some feathers (Amazon is truly amazing) for my pork pie.

Lastly, needing a haircut badly, I decided to head to the North End on my lunch break and try Boston Barbers. It was a great experience, and I was very happy with my barber, Arty, and will certainly be back for another visit. The man was a perfectionist with with every tool he used, scissors, straight razor, clippers – I was in awe. It was a nice old fashioned haircut – obviously my kind of thing. Looking forward to next time.

That’s all for now. Will hopefully get back onto my weekly rotation of posts.

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Another week in Boston and the changes continue. My official Massachusetts Driver’s License arrived, which is basically the last regulatory measure left to complete my residence status. In 37 years I’ve never had a license from a state jurisdiction other than Arizona. Unfortunately, with Massachusetts licenses I’ll have to renew every 5 years, unlike my Arizona license, which was set to expire in 2044. Ridiculous.

With my 3D printer up and running in my mad scientist basement lab, I worked out a design for a front license plate holder which attaches to the lower grille of my car. I think the design came out well, and having driven only a few short trips, it’s still attached. Success. For the design I decided to try a new modeling software instead of my trusted OnShape; Autodesk Fusion 360.

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License plate bracket, as designed using Autodesk Fusion 360.

Fusion 360 is a free modeling software from Autodesk that functions quite similarly to OnShape, although I found it to be a bit less intuitive. Despite being less intuitive, however, it has some nice bells and whistles that OnShape currently lacks.

On functionality that was quite helpful is the ease of adding threads to nuts and bolts. Fusion has a database of threads, and you simply need to click on a cylindrical form and select the thread option to place, say, a 1/4 20 thread along your bolt. Currently, if you are using OnShape, adding threads has to be done manually. It’s not difficult, but it does take a few extra steps, which can certainly be a hassle.

One thing I like about OnShape, however, is that you can add multiple files in the same drawing, and then bring those components together as an Assembly. Any changes you make to individual parts automatically update in the Assembly. This is a nice function to have, and I’m not quite sure how it works in Fusion. I am taking a Fusion seminar later this week, which will hopefully answer some more questions. At present, I find both programs to be useful, and would recommend both to a friend and let them choose which one provides a more comfortable workflow.

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Oh, here is a link to my Instructable for the DIY Front License Plate Bracket. It wont win any awards on Instructables, but maybe there are others out there who want to make something similar.

http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Front-License-Plate-Holder/

 

Lastly, I went to my first Red Sox game the other night with my good friend from college, Adam. He greeted me outside of 4 Yawkey Way, which is the entrance to the main offices at Fenway. We then went down onto the field before the game began, which I must admit was pretty cool. The Sox were playing the Rays, and the stadium seemed filled to capacity on what had to be one of the more pleasant evenings, with regard to temperature, I’ve experienced in Boston. While I’m not much of a baseball fan, I’d say a nice summer evening at Fenway is pretty tough to beat.

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Adam, Me, Charles, and Chris