Sunday, March 3, 2013


So I have no memory of when or why I started writing this - it must have been a random idea thought up during those long stand-by hours on slow days.  Anyway, it's probably funnier to read now after being several years into a career change than it would have been at the time.  

I'm supposed to call in at 9; that was number minutes ago. Story of my life. Pedaling down the -landform- legs still numb with sleep and person's name's on the radio barking about where the hell was I and no one's been answering him all morning- once he gets that off his chest, of course, it's just "sit tight" in boston neighborhood.
So I stand in line at coffee shop for nearly number minutes staring at the back of some overcooked secretary's body part, and then the second I hand over the $price for the dixie cup of hot liquid in my hand, nextel goes off and I get 3 pickups- 2 objects going to cambridge and a drydock. Coffee button, always. I start some band name on the music player and start moving.
An hour and a half, 6 35 mph wind gusts, 2 insulting adjective jaywalkers yelling "Pedestrian!" and 15 parking violations later, I'm finally about to verb the Longfellow on my way back through town carrying a long narrow object with number unbillable minutes of wait time, a couple of downtowns and that drydock, burnt to a crisp by now. Almost to the bridge and right on cue I have to verb around at Kendall and verb back out to verb on Norfolk st. Their stairwell always smells like noun. While I'm there, 1030 Mass Ave calls in another noun. Of course they did. I've run in there all adjective so many times the receptionist must think I want to verb her.
The bearings in my bike part are verbing the bed and it seems to be a matter of time before I end up with the stem in my internal organ. But of course I'll wait until the last possible moment to deal with it; could be worse. Hell, Jeremy's bike part has been fused to his other bike part for 5 years- when I can make aluminum rust, I'll verb.
Knock out a couple of rushes downtown and run down Milk towards 177 so I can stop at Goulston on the way out to the dirty bird, where i've miraculously gotten a pickup, and some bearded adolescent I've never seen before appears inexplicably humping his bike the wrong way by the corner of Batterymarch wearing the adjective-est article of clothing I've ever seen, and I don't think I manage to wipe the look of physiological reaction off my face until someone else pulling a sudden moving violation gets my attention back on the road.
It's getting close to noon with no noun, but I'm verb-ing against the wind down Seaport Blvd and the smell of fermenting grain verb-ing out of the open doors of the Harpoon brewery is sticking to my internal organ like sticky liquid so I'm not feeling very adjective at the moment, but once I get back downtown I know I'm gonna have to start thinking adverb about what's cheaper, and what's not too adjective to eat. And Jane's discount isn't for 3 more hours.
Ever notice seagulls always giving humans the adjective eyeball out at the dirty bird, wondering if they could grab one of us and go up 50 yards, whether we'd crack on the pavement like mussel shells? I saw one attack a noun on the sidewalk outside 250 Summer one day.
Must be noun hour on a nice day- suddenly no one's verb-ing in jobs, must be because they're all out verbing in the middle of the outdoor place. The guys are all wearing the same color noun, and the girls always manage to find a new style of adjective shoe that they can barely verb in every summer, except for that one year that everyone wore noun. It's hard not to notice these things when you verb outside all day;

Sunday, May 30, 2010

weeeeds everywhere, man

I'm always coming across this weed in the city- it seems to grow everywhere. Its striking purple and yellow flowers would grab anyone's attention (anyone who has a tendency to look at weeds in the first place, I guess) and they always seemed awfully familiar to me, like some shunned trailer trash 2nd cousin of potato, pepper, and tomato plants. The flowers are almost identical in shape to yellow tomato flowers, and though the leaves really aren't, their shape and surface really do resemble a cross between potato and pepper leaves. At some point a long time ago, I read that tomatoes (and peppers) are related to deadly nightshade, and that for a long time a lot of people didn't eat tomatoes because other nightshade plants are poisonous, fruit and all. Tomato leaves and stems are poisonous, in fact, even though they smell so good. So for a long time I've assumed these things were in the nightshade family, but never looked to confirm. Last week, in a fit of relative productivity, I brought out my camera and took a picture of one of these plants (among other things) on one of the streets in my running route and I finally took the time to look them up. There are lots of plants and animals that look very similar but are only distantly related, but in this case I was happy to find that I was pretty much right on - the purple flower weed is solanum dulcamara- called among many other things, bitter nightshade. It's a member of the solanum genus - which includes potato, tomato, and eggplant, all in the solanoideae subfamily (sister to the subfamily nicotianoideae!) of plant family solanaceae (the hierarchy of botany is so confusing!) - solanoideae subfamily also includes capsicum (chili peppers, paprika) - solanaceae family (the larger group, I think) does include belladonna - deadly nightshade.
As far as edible fruit/vegetables go, solanaceae is pretty damn useful- lookit-
* Chili pepper
* Eggplant
* Garden huckleberry
* Goji berry
* Ground cherry
* Potato
* Sweet pepper
* Tamarillo
* Tomatillo
* Tomato
...we can eat the fruit/tubers of these plants but the foliage is without exception poisonous, to some degree. Though I suppose chewing tobacco leaf is almost like eating it.

I cut and pasted the good parts from the Wikipedia site here - it makes sense that people would have been afraid to eat tomatoes, and that tobacco is such a popular drug - it seems like these alkaloids would have a suppressant, calming effect, as long as you can control the dosage and not send yourself into a coma.
"The Solanaceae family is characteristically ethnobotanical, that is, extensively utilized by humans. It is an important source of food, spice and medicine. However, Solanaceae species are often rich in alkaloids whose toxicity to humans and animals ranges from mildly irritating to fatal in small quantities."
"Solanaceae are known for possessing a diverse range of alkaloids. As far as humans are concerned, these alkaloids can be desirable, toxic, or both, though they presumably evolved because they reduce the tendency of animals to eat the plants.
One of the most important groups of these compounds is called the tropane alkaloids. The term "tropane" comes from a genus in which they are found, Atropa (the belladonna genus). The belladonna genus is so named after the Greek Fate, Atropos, who cut the thread of life. This nomenclature signifies the toxicity and lethality that has long been known to be characteristic of these compounds."
"...they are the most powerful known anticholinergics in existence, meaning they inhibit the neurological signals transmitted by the endogenous neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Symptoms of overdose may include dry mouth, dilated pupils, ataxia, urinary retention, hallucinations, convulsions, coma, and death."
"A famous alkaloid from the Solanaceae family is nicotine."

What's the point of all this? I dunno. This is just the kind of stuff I like to learn about. You see a cluster of weeds at the side of the road - they may or may not be useful to you personally, but that doesn't mean they don't have their own stories or significance. Lots of plants in un-lawned lots around here actually have proven medicinal value - we just happen to live in a place and time where we're privileged enough that we don't have to make it for ourselves, and so don't need to learn to recognize the differences between, say, mullein and bindweed.

My reference and its reference: (Kate would kill me for bad form, but you know what - though I have no intention of ever plagiarizing anything, I hate how rigid the rules are for formatting this shite)

1. "Solanaceae Juss., nom. cons.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-04-12. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
2. Yasin J. Nasir. "Solanaceae". Flora of Pakistan.
3. Griffin WJ, Lin GD (March 2000). "Chemotaxonomy and geographical distribution of tropane alkaloids". Phytochemistry 53 (6): 623–37. doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(99)00475-6. PMID 10746874.
4. "Solanine poisoning". Br Med J. 2 (6203): 1458–9. 1979-12-08. PMID 526812.
5. Alexander RF, Forbes GB, Hawkins ES (1948-09-11). "A Fatal Case of Solanine Poisoning". Br Med J. 2 (4575): 518. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.4575.518. PMID 18881287.

Monday, February 1, 2010


a few relatively fundamental things go awry, and i'm distracted to the point where i can't focus enough to do much more than the bare minimum. naturally, times like these are when i'm most aware of how much i need to be setting up projects for myself, to be making things and thinking more about the long term, especially now that i have access to all kinds of cool toys in the shops at MIT. i've never been good at this whole regularly scheduled self-motivated work sort of thing. at best, i could fixate on a single project long enough to get it done, but then would be compelled to move on to something completely different. i could never successfully keep a journal, or a regularly updated sketch book, can't even think about drawing or building or even planning when i have more immediate concerns - but it all feels like a shoddy excuse - these issues aren't taking up a lot of actual hours, they're just distracting me. i feel like i need to be working on creative things the most when i can't think straight enough to get my shit together at all. there are so many things i want to do, and each thing deserves a lot of time and effort, and i can't find a way to narrow the list down, never mind begin working. i feel like i've forgotten how to think.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wedding present, given. They like it!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


This is a wedding present for my friends Nate and Amy. Hopefully the cats won't kill it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

yes, i cut 2 fingertips off a few weeks ago. no, they didn't put them back on - there was nothing to put back. yeah, it sucks. no, it won't be a big problem, once they actually heal. that's going to take ages, though. good thing i was already funny lookin', or else this might bum me out a lot more!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Eh, the joys of roommate living are strange and unpredictable. I count 4 bottles of A-1 sauce, 4 bottles of barbecue sauce, and eight bottles of mustard. Oh, and most of them are almost completely empty. These are not the accumulated property of 3 separate people living in one house, but belong to a single person.

Oh well, at least they're not Febreze bottles.

This is probably one of the most difficult parts of making furniture. You can't do it in your head, either - I tried.

more hippie shit

Thick, thorny undergrowth in neglected parks like the steep backside of Mission Hill is left almost completely undisturbed by people, for good reason - you'd have to have great motivation to walk through dense wild roses, blackberry canes, and stinging nettle. My legs and arms look like I wandered into a senbon fight. The upside is, sometimes there are actually blackberries out there. I picked so many yesterday, I had more than enough to make a pie. If I go back next weekend, there should be enough new ripe ones for at least one more.

Oh, and there are sometimes these things to watch out for - this nest was the size of a grapefruit, and I've never heard anything about paper wasps that wasn't unpleasant.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Some photos I took back in winter of the shop. These photos only show about half the space. That's Quentin talking to Jed, and those moldy looking beams are the really old Southern Yellow Pine beams from that Fort Point building I may have mentioned. Scrape off an inch or so and the stuff on the inside is amazing, like amber.

act, not together

In small ways over the past few months, I've been busy getting more organized. Several departments have been severely neglected, this damned blog included, but I haven't forgotten about it. I've been putting so much effort into other things that I wasn't even remembering to check Kate's blog, which I used to do on a regular basis. I just realized that last night and was feeling pretty harebrained.
Kate and Ron are getting a secretary from me for their wedding- I've been trying to work out the drawings so I can start picking out and milling the wood I'll need. Designing furniture requires a lot more imagination and foresight than just building it, and I'm definitely noticing the need to be able to reference previous projects in my head to figure out what will work and what won't. It's also the first thing I'll have made myself that wasn't designed around pieces of scrap or a table top of predetermined size. There is one of those floating around, but it's in a store in Fort Point and I haven't taken any photos yet. I intended to make something for my friends Nate and Amy, who also got married recently, but they won't tell me what they could use, and I'm having a hard time pulling something out of my ass. Any ideas?

Also, for the past couple of months, I've somehow been very motivated to learn to speak, read and write Japanese. For real this time. I'm not sure what changed, since I've been interested for at least 10 years without ever having done much outside of a single semester... but something has, and now I'm spending a lot of time working on it. It's complicated and intimidating, but I like it, and as a happy accident I think all the studying is helping to improve my short term memory, which has been completely shot after spending too many years riding in traffic. I'm not dreaming in Japanese yet (though I did once, years ago), but I've been dreaming about kanji, which is a good sign!
The CMWC just so happens to be in Japan this year, but I don't have enough money or even a passport, so I'll have to wait a while longer before I can actually fly over there for any reason. I'd rather go out and work or go to school than just vacation (or go for a big weirdo bike race), anyway.

I'm also finding out that 2 bags of produce a week is really difficult for one person to eat. I bought a small share in a CSA with Parker Farm in Lunenburg this year, and pick up 2 full bags of vegetables every Wednesday in Cambridge. So far it's been the time of year when leafy green stuff does really well, so I've been gorging myself on salad (eating an unprecedented amount of dressing, which is unsettling) and I'm still having to pawn off a lot of lettuce on people. And then there's all the other stuff, like bok choy and chinese cabbage. Got peas last week, and soon enough it's going to be all yellow squash and cucumbers, tomatoes and corn. I'm looking forward to finding out how much healthy food I can actually get myself to eat - it's just going to be a lot of work making sure nothing goes to waste, since the stuff doesn't have much of a shelf life.