GoToMeeting fail

Things I am thankful for: conference calls with slideshows. Because I love having to infect my computer with your shitty corporate software that can’t even upgrade itself like it’s 2014.

December 19, 2014 December 20, 2014 rants by Scott No Comments

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2014-11-08 18.13.22 Hazardous chemicals and outdated electrical paraphernalia.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


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