I’ve been clear­ing out our base­ment on and off through­out the year. And by “clear­ing,” I mean that I have demol­ished pretty much every­thing that wasn’t hold­ing up the house. Some findings:

2014-11-08 18.11.35 Jars of fas­ten­ers, mostly attached to the ceil­ing. Already prov­ing use­ful. Given the num­ber of jars, I can safely con­clude that a pre­vi­ous owner had a seri­ous weak­ness for herring!


2014-11-08 18.13.22 Haz­ardous chem­i­cals and out­dated elec­tri­cal para­pher­na­lia. Inevitable.


2014-11-08 18.28.12 A giant bun­dle of col­or­ful cloth-braided tele­phone inter­con­nect wire. I can’t bring myself to throw it out. They don’t make wire this visu­ally inter­est­ing any­more. Back in the hey­day of cop­per phone ser­vice, Ma Bell had a com­pli­cated color cod­ing sys­tem to help dif­fer­en­ti­ate the hun­dreds or thou­sands of pairs found in cables and wiring plants. I’m more famil­iar with the major/minor 2-color scheme used today, but some of these wires have 3 col­ors. Good luck sort­ing that out!


2014-11-08 18.23.22 A lump of coal. Sav­ing it for Christmas.


2014-11-08 18.15.19 A wooden box for a David­son Patent Foun­tain Syringe, No. 16. Suit­able for use as “irri­ga­tor, vagi­nal, anal, childs, sprin­kler, and nasal.” I’d pre­fer not to think about it. The box is full of mis­matched iron hinges.


2014-11-08 18.22.45 From above the ceil­ing and behind the walls, a cor­nu­copia of tools. Every­thing from a tiny oiler to an arborist’s pole saw to a hefty axe marked “prop­erty of City of Boston, Sewer Divi­sion.” And a rusty cleaver (Halloween?).


2014-11-08 18.17.29 Ancient and mod­ern sand­pa­per from Minnesota’s favorite Min­ing and Man­u­fac­tur­ing company.


2014-11-08 18.26.34 2014-11-08 18.26.53 The “Win­ter Vaca­tion Sec­tion” from the Decem­ber 4, 1949 Boston Globe. I wish we could still travel to Florida on the only rail­road “stream­lined for stream­lin­ers.” Or get travel plan­ning help from Miss Hospitality.


2014-11-08 18.27.23 It was rolled into a tube bound with wire and used as pipe “insulation.”


2014-11-08 18.29.01 A bot­tle of booze hid­den in a secret crevice behind the work­bench. Because life was harder back in the day.

November 8, 2014 November 8, 2014 home by Scott 2 Comments

I like strange murals.

portsmouth, nh

waltham, ma

November 5, 2014 November 5, 2014 observations by Scott No Comments

Jeff and Helena

More than a year late, but who’s count­ing? A new gallery.

October 26, 2014 October 26, 2014 photos by Scott No Comments

Either Amazon.com is mon­i­tor­ing my news read­ing habits, or it’s just suc­cumb­ing to para­noia. Here is what it rec­om­mends I buy today:

bunny suits

October 17, 2014 October 17, 2014 observations by Scott No Comments

Buses

At the Seashore Trol­ley Museum.

October 7, 2014 October 7, 2014 photos by Scott 3 Comments

On the way to work yes­ter­day, I was passed by a mas­sive (and very new-looking) Cam­bridge Police armored vehicle.

Aside from obvi­ous ques­tions about whether it needs to exist at all, or whether it makes sense to drive it around in pub­lic so soon after the Fer­gu­son sit­u­a­tion, I have one sug­ges­tion for the city of Cam­bridge: change the paint job! The vehi­cle is painted dark green (for­est cam­ou­flage?) and sports the same black-and-gray Amer­i­can flag insignias and under­stated let­ter­ing that spe­cial forces sol­diers wear.

The whole thing looks extremely military–not police.

Why not paint the vehi­cle in bright, friendly police col­ors? It wouldn’t be any less effec­tive at, say, dri­ving into an armed hostage cri­sis. And it would send a strong mes­sage to the police that it’s not OK for neigh­bor­hood offi­cers to play com­bat dress-up games.

September 27, 2014 September 27, 2014 observations by Scott No Comments

pedal-wood-03-pair File this one under “first-world prob­lems.” Since putting together my belt-drive city bike last fall, I have been look­ing for a bet­ter way to ride (occa­sion­ally) with nice leather-soled shoes. Every metal- and plastic-surfaced pedal I tried rubbed unevenly against the shoe, destruc­tively dug into the leather sole with sharp points, or both.

The solu­tion seemed to come in the form of the Moto Urban Pedal, which has an unusu­ally large flat fric­tion sur­face as well as a dis­tinc­tive ply­wood body. Unfor­tu­nately, the fric­tion is pro­vided by “strong grip tape.” While their adver­tised claim is true–that the skateboard-style grip tape pro­vides slip-free con­tact even with wet leather soles–the man­u­fac­turer doesn’t men­tion that grip tape also destroys leather by grind­ing it down. As I found out, grip tape is just coarse sand­pa­per with an adhe­sive back­ing. That solu­tion is per­fect for the skateboard-industrial com­plex because it ensures a steady cycle of demand for new skate­board­ing shoes, but it is unsuit­able for my needs.

So I began my Edison-style exper­i­ment with every kind of fric­tion mate­r­ial I could get my hands on. I tried sev­eral dif­fer­ent mod­els of 3M Grip­ping Mate­r­ial, the amaz­ing stuff that sim­u­lates gecko feet, but it quickly became clogged with debris. I tried a tex­tured self-adhesive neo­prene prod­uct designed for guns (?!), but it lacked the dura­bil­ity and adhe­sive strength I needed.

Finally, Feld­meier sug­gested that the best fric­tion mate­r­ial for shoes might be another shoe. From an online cob­bler sup­plier, I obtained two sheets of sol­ing mate­r­ial: a 2 mm SoleTech sol­ing sheet for dress shoes and a 4 mm sheet of Vibram 7175 boot rub­ber. The Vibram mate­r­ial is amaz­ing but way too thick and heavy for this appli­ca­tion, so I put it aside. The SoleTech (check-textured SBR rub­ber) is perfect.

I made a tem­plate of laser-cut acrylic so I could cut per­fect pedal-shaped pieces from the sheet with a knife.

2014-09-14 11.19.01

Rub­ber con­tact cement pro­vides a per­fect (although pos­si­bly too per­ma­nent) bond to the plas­tic pieces that form the plain bear­ings in the Moto ped­als. It also smells awesome.

2014-09-14 11.41.37

The new pedal sur­faces are work­ing great so far, wet and dry. And they don’t destroy leather. We’ll see how they hold up in the long term.

2014-09-15 09.13.14

September 18, 2014 September 18, 2014 cycling by Scott No Comments

positive All­ston Christ­mas comes again. We moved our year-old pile of “things we want to sell some­day” out to the curb. First item was gone in 5 min­utes. Last item in 15 min­utes. Now that’s efficient!
neutral CVS stops sell­ing tobacco to focus on health. I’m pretty sure they’re still sell­ing Oreos and gal­lon jugs of Ari­zona Iced Tea in the dia­betes meal sup­ply aisle. Inter­est­ing position.

September 3, 2014 September 3, 2014 ww by Scott No Comments