A very busy day at work started with a visit to a battery pack manufacturer in Billerica followed by my first all-hands Engineering meeting which went very well. By late afternoon I was helping out with photography for a set of instructions on how to replace the rim on our Copenhagen Wheel and then a meeting to prepare for a job fair we will be participating in at Harvard next week. Before I knew it the day was over and I was on my way home. One of the things I enjoy most about working at a startup is the number of different hats you get to wear.
Unfortunately, we on the east coast only got to witness two of the three attributes of this evenings super blue blood moon. It set just before starting to be eclipsed which would have produced the blood (red tint) feature. We did get super (closest orbit to the Earth making it visibly larger and brighter) and blue (second full moon in a calendar month). I shot this handheld from our farmer’s porch while shivering in my bathrobe which speaks well of the image stabilizer system of my lens and camera.
This replica of Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond reminds us that the tiny house movement is not a new thing. I passed by it on my way to the dentist this morning and paused for a quick photo. Had I lingered to enjoy the setting and perhaps a lap around the pond, I would have missed my appointment and the discovery of two broken fillings and one broken tooth which will need to be addressed next week.
For the second time this week, it was necessary to relocate the tiny house. This time because it was blocking a window used for loading hay into the horse barn next to which it currently resides. The hour long process to move it less than 20 feet was nerve racking but ultimately successful. We are hoping that Olin College will agree to Maya’s request to store it on campus so that she can complete the interior construction as part of an independent study. The design of multi-purpose, space efficient furniture and storage space would be a perfect project for any mechanical engineering student.
For some time now, Jeanine and I have been taking turns at what we call “mystery date.” Each of us gets to choose a date activity which remains a secret from the other until the last minute. Today I sprung a multi-part date that started with breakfast at the Clover Food Lab in Cambridge followed by a scavenger hunt/walking tour of historic Boston (www.urbanadventurequest.com), a tour of Superpedestrian headquarters, a visit to REI to purchase a warm winter coat for Jeanine, and a late lunch/early dinner at Seta’s Cafe in Belmont. The scavenger hunt was very entertaining for both of us and we completed the tour in 2hrs15min with a score of 520 of a possible 525, good enough to place us atop the 30-day leader board for Boston.
Maya shared this photo, part of a team project she is working on for a course in entrepreneurship called Products and Markets. Their first assignment was to create value from Post-It Notes. Her team has created shadow templates of iconic images (women’s marches, in the case above), and projected them onto campus buildings to provoke discussions about current affairs. She says it has become more of a social action artistic endeavor than an actual product development but it sounds like a fantastic outcome to me and I am delighted she is having these types of learning experiences.
One of only two remaining advertising signs of its type in the area, the other being the Citgo sign in Boston, I pass this Shell sign when I return from work late at night. Located adjacent to Memorial Drive since 1944, it was built in 1933 and originally located on the Shell Company building on Commonwealth Avenue. In 2001 it was on the verge of collapse and looked like HELL (the “S” lamps had burned out). In 2005 it was turned off for good. After two failed attempts, the Cambridge Historical Commission eventually designated the sign a Cambridge landmark and in 2011, a replica, built using LED technology instead of neon and incandescent bulbs, replaced the original and has been enjoyed by all but its closest neighbors since.
After much preparation and several weather related delays (deep snow on one occasion, black iced roads on another) Maya’s tiny house finally left our driveway on its maiden voyage late this evening. The driver I hired on Craig’s List proved to be very capable and expertly backed the trailer into a very tight spot located next to a barn on a nearby farm. Not shown in the picture (which was taken the day after) is a truck that blocked access to the road. Had I rented a truck to drive myself, as was the plan at one point, I am certain I would not have been skilled enough to thread the trailer into this spot. The tiny house will live her through the end of May when we plan to move it to a more permanent location.
With Maya and Nico both back at school now, Kyle too has returned to his studies. He has passed the midway point in his data science programming course and appears to be on track to finish this spring. He reminds me a lot of my father who was very disciplined in his study habits, whether it was research for his books or practicing the guitar.
Finding a suitable tow vehicle for the tiny house has proven to be just as difficult as locating a suitable location to store it. Most rental trucks do not support heavy duty towing. The ones that do are very expensive to rent and must be picked up/dropped off far from our home. Professional towing companies are not that interested in a 1.7 mile haul. Turning to Craig’s List was the answer. Within hours of my posting, I had four suitable truck owners willing to tow the house for a modest fee. The only thing needed for this plan to work was a draw bar and ball hitch of suitable capacity to connect the truck to the trailer. Pictured are the assembled components, rated to match the 14,000 pound trailer. As it stands, I estimate the weight of the house at less than 10,000 pounds.
I spent a good portion of the weekend culling some 3000 photos from my collection of 100,000. I covered a two year period of time, deleting weak photos, making edits to improve “keepers”, and adding ratings/keywords to make future searching more efficient. It is only when I make such comprehensive reviews that I realize how few good photos I have of myself. Fortunately there are some, and of them I liked this one the most.
Moving the tiny house has proved to be a complicated affair. Our first storage destination proved to be too uneven to safely park the trailer. Our attempt to move there was delayed by a massive snowstorm which in retrospect was a blessing in so much as it forced us to look for a more appropriate location. Jeanine saved the day by connecting Maya and I with Steve Verrill who has generously offered to let us store the tiny house on his property. Maya and I carefully covered the 1.7 mile route to his farm measuring each power line and low tree limb to ensure that our 13′-6″ tall house would not get snagged on anything. Several passing motorists were not sure what to make of me standing in the middle of the road with my tape measure.
While he was back for the holidays, we agreed to help Nico with the purchase of a weighted keyboard/synthesizer so that he can practice while at school and perform with his friends. Within days of returning to Colorado he located a lightly used high-end Roland on Craig’s List. Of our three children, Nico has taken the keenest interest in music and it is a pursuit we are delighted to support.
Superpedestrian’s CEO leading an industrial design discussion in the middle of a hallway. To say we have a casual work environment would be an understatement. I spent several hours yesterday working on something of a mechanical puzzle related to our next generation product. None of those ideas were as good as the one I had while driving into work this morning. By noon I fashioned a working prototype constructed from foam core insulation (easily cut and shaped with a knife). There is almost nothing I enjoy more than coming up with a clever solution to a challenging problem and then reducing it to practice. It was a very good day.
Snow today during commuting hours had me working from home. We only received about 3 inches of the 5 inches forecasted but that was just fine by me. Normally I wait for the snow to stop before clearing it but needed to make sure Maya could get out for a job interview, doctor’s appointment and trip to New York City to visit her friend Sarinnagh. The house was empty for most of the day and the lack of distractions helped me to focus on a tricky mechanical challenge that my team is working on. This evening I sold Nico’s drum kit which has been sitting idle since he left for college. Little by little we are clearing out all items which will not be joining us when we move to a smaller house at some point in the future. Not for sale is the framed cymbal and drum sticks, signed by the Van Halen brothers with a dedication to Nico, a gift when he received the Shane’s Inspiration Award in 2008.