Jeanine is nearing completion of her memoir cookbook and has asked me to start taking photos that will be used in the publication. Food photography is a field unto itself and I don’t consider myself particularly well qualified in this area. Nonetheless, I will do my best. The unique thing about this type of photography is that you can eat your subject when you are done. We hosted a small dinner party this evening which featured the pictured menu items.
One of my favorite views of downtown Boston (click the image for more detail) can be had from a hilltop in the Mount Auburn Cemetery, just minutes from my office. I decided to spend my lunch hour enjoying the beauty of the cemetery and will no doubt be revisiting this site many times throughout the year. Their policy on amateur photography is both enlightened and respectful. The grounds and monuments are simply exquisite.
Earlier in the morning I went in for my annual physical. I try to get one every three years or so. Triglycerides were way too high and my body mass index is too high (need to lose some weight. ) John has offered to put me on a regime which I am calling the caveman diet. Basically you can only eat what nature provides with no processing after that.
At the request of a bridge enthusiast and long time follower of this blog, I am posting a photo of the newly completed bridge renovation project near the South Bridge Boat House. The project involved raising the height of the bridge over the roadway to prevent the frequent decapitation of box trucks, which occurred with surprising regularity. During construction, one track was kept operational at all times except for one weekend when a crane placed the new steel structures in place.
My nephew, John Quinn, celebrated his 23rd birthday today. He has taken a job in the Boston area with a small marketing startup and is living here with us. He is a wonderful guest and we enjoy having a “replacement” for our boys who are far away in Colorado and Bangkok. John contributes to the household in many ways including preparing dinner each Sunday night. He has been studying under Jeanine’s culinary tutelage and produced another incredible feast this evening. My sister will be pleased to know that her son is turning into a remarkable cook. Earlier in the day we touched base with Kyle who just completed his first full week on the job in Thailand. He is working 14 hour days and reports he is losing weight because he cannot find the time to eat. You could hear the excitement in his voice as he explained his job to us. He settles multi-million dollar Asian stock transactions with local banks and brokers. The slightest mistake can cause delays during which equity values may change, exposing his company to financial risk since they must honor the original execution price. Further complicating his job, every transaction may involve different institutions each with a slightly different set of settlement requirements. He is already taking about extending his stay in the region beyond the initial three month commitment. We are looking forward to visiting him when we travel there next month.
More nervous than I would have expected for someone who has learned to drive so expertly, Maya took and passed her driving test this morning. Starting on Monday (when we convert her insurance status from student driver to licensed driver) she will be free to drive by herself. Of our three children, she has been the most anxious to reach this milestone, perhaps because her siblings are out of the house and she has no one to hang out with except her parents. As was the routine with her brothers before her, she learned to drive from a ridiculously young age, seated on my lap with me operating the pedals. I will forever enjoy wonderful memories of teaching my kids to drive and hope they will remember those lessons with equal fondness.
For weeks now I have been struggling with the seating configuration choice I made when ordering my new Tesla Model X. The SUV can be had in either a 5, 6, or 7 seat configuration. Given we are a 5 member family, my initial choice was a 5 seat configuration (3rd row seats not present) leaving a ton of cargo space in the back. At the time, the amount of information about any of these configurations was EXTREMELY limited. Over the past month, as the first cars have begun to ship, owners have been posting videos and photos that have provided great insights and caused me to revisit my thinking. There are many things to admire about the Model X; zero-emissions, 250 mile range, extremely safe design, insanely high performance, and the latest technology. Had Tesla stopped there, they would have had an affordable (less than 6 figures) SUV that would have sold in huge numbers. Instead they went on to add falcon wing doors and second row seating that tilts forward, all in the name of improving ingress and egress from the third row seats. Unfortunately, the design tradeoffs they made for this approach included fixed headrests, 2nd row seats that do not fold flat and the inability to mount a roof rack. The first severely limits rear view visibility and the second and third make it impossible to carry anything longer than 5 feet. I have opted to change my order to the six seat configuration (middle, second row seat absent). Rear visibility is unrestricted and it will be possible to carry items up to 10 feet in length (think lumber).
I never expected that my photographic skills would contribute so significantly to my work at Markforged. One of my highest priorities at the company is to see that we consistently enhance the reliability and quality of our 3D printer. To that end, I personally inspect every machine returned from the field with the goal of understanding the exact root cause of each failure. For every new failure mechanism identified, we take steps to ensure that it will be eliminated. Macro photographs play an essential role both in the discovery process and for documentation purposes.
It was bitterly cold today with windchill dropping the 24F air temperature into the low teens. This was less of an issue for Maya during her second cross country ski race of the season than her parents who froze various body parts off while watching her compete. Her form has improved from last season and she looked strong throughout the race. Her Girls Varsity team finished in first place with 462 points ahead of Acton Boxboro (450), Lincoln Sudbury (438), Westford (397), Wayland (339), Nashoba (324) and Winchester (321).
We received about three inches of snow last night, the first of the season which warranted a workout with the snowblower. It was a light fluffy snow which makes for easy clearing but not so great photos. By the time I paused to make this image, much of the snow accenting the trees had blown off. Wet snow clings to the trees and makes for the best photographs.
All but one of my bonsai trees perished when I moved them out of my office at iRobot almost a year ago. On that day we were experiencing an arctic blast and it only took a few minutes of exposure to prove deadly. I have since nursed the one survivor back to health and today purchased a companion for it which I will take to work tomorrow. Kyle gifted me this tree by way of a gift certificate to our local bonsai nursery the Christmas before last. I though today would be a special day for the purchase as it is his first full day in Thailand. I will think of him every time I admire this miniature jade tree.
I am accustomed to doing root cause failure analysis at work. I enjoy the forensic challenge of identifying new failure modes. It is essential work to improving quality and reliability. When it comes to products I purchase, however, I like to think someone else has made the effort to do this. I recently purchased new studio lights and one of three did not operate properly. Pictured above is the source of the problem (two fractured solder joints on the high voltage capacitor). This failure was obviously caused by mechanical trauma sustained during shipping. I sent the photo to the manufacturer and hope they will endeavor to improve their packaging or reduce the mechanical stress these joints are exposed to. I re-soldered the connections and my light is as good as new and I did not have to wait for weeks while it shipped back and forth to the service center.
As promised, here is a video of Maya’s infinity stairs. Watch the marble as it climbs the stairs and then descends through a rotary gate before repeating the cycle.