Neighborhoods

Still spreading the ‘haps of Park Drive… check out my mattress picture on streetmattress.com. Now that baseball season is in full swing (I think it’s in full swing, but I wouldn’t really know), the streets in the Fenway tend to be crowded with fans. Yesterday I saw someone peeing in our front yard. It was kind of wierd because I just happened to glance out the window, and he happened to glance in the window. Neither of us was happy to see the other. Still, I’d rather people pee in the front yard than leave trash in it – there’s too much litter on my street.
I’ve had a couple chances this week to explore Jamaica Plain a little bit. I must say, it’s a beautiful neighborhood. There are lots of old victorian houses, most of which are in excellent condition. The population is ethnically diverse, and there seems to be a real sense of community. On of the clinical instructors in my “unit” at work, Art Johnson, gave a tour on Wednesday of the area and provided a lot of insight into city planning and JP history. He even pointed out a single family house that was built to conform with local zoning regulations, but that should have been a muti-unit building since it was so close to the subway (and was on a street full of muti-unit buildings). Just the sort of thing my anti-sprawl book pointed out as a major planning problem.

Subway Simulator

Those present at lunch today agreed that they fall in and out of love several times a day on the T. I would probably agree if I hadn’t lately been taking the orange line exclusively. I can vouch for the green line, and the red line has a positive reputation when it comes to passenger beauty. I was looking for a website on the topic when I stumbled upon something much more interesting…
NXSYS is a “New York City Subway Signalling and Interlocking Simulator”. Actually it’s the signalling and interlocking simulator. I don’t think too many others exist. Basically, a guy named Bernard S. Greenberg has taken it upon himself to design a NYC subway simulator. After installing the program you can create trains and set them into motion, controlling all the signals and switches as would be done by an actual train operator. What’s the point? I don’t know, but it’s fun to try it out.
The real subway has safeguards to avoid things like train collisions. The simulator, unfortunately, is so good that these are still in place on one’s computer. “You are limited by the circuitry to safe moves — you are prevented from sending trains crashing at each other, setting routes that conflict with each other, moving switches while trains are on them, or executing any other invalid or dangerous action.” Now where’s the fun in that?

Professor Lineup

I finally got around to checking my Fall 2002 schedule today. The idea is to sign up for as many classes as possible (six) and then drop whatever you don’t want. Otherwise you don’t get any alternatives if for some reason you can’t get into a class.
The funny thing about the BU system (and this seems to be a BU-wide system, not just the law school) is that you can generate a “Photo Gallery” of your professors. I can’t link to the area since it requires my password, so I took screenshots instead…
The link looks like this:

You click it, and this is what you get:

How funny is that? It looks like a police line up. Or all the bad professor ID pictures compiled in one great collection. Its great thinking on behalf of the registration system programmer. “Lets allow the students to generate a photo gallery of their professors. That way they know what their professors look like and they can associate a name with a face.” I’m sure though, that no one ever told the professors that their pictures were going to be used for such a purpose. Smile people! (And where’s professor number 6?)

Sprawl Introduction

Today I finished reading Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream today. I’ve been reading this book for ages because, well, law school gets in the way of things.
For some reason, sprawl is one of the issues that I am most passionate about. I really think our country is needlessly headed in the wrong direction. Most people I’ve talked to don’t like huge suburban subdivisions, shopping malls, traffic, etc., but no one seems to think they can solve the problem. (I don’t think too many people really think of it as a “problem”.) However, the problem (as I’ve learned from this book) is much larger than one would think. On the surface there are arguments about pollution and style, but lurking below are far greater problems. The loss of community, segregation of socio-economic classes, and traffic (stress, loss of time, pollution, etc.) are all worsening as a result of sprawl.
What can be done? I support local business as much as possible. I support the T. (Boston’s mass transit – MBTA.) And I don’t ever plan to live in a sprawling suburb that has not made an affirmative design effort to create a community. For example, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to demand that local governments require high density, mixed use zoning, transit and pedestrian friendly layouts, and at least some subsidized housing. If it were my world I would probably tax drivers for the use of the roads, let them fight their own oil wars, and hold them responsible for the 43,200 yearly automotive related deaths. I’ll take it slow though.

Ben Folds and the Southeast

Just got back from an amazing Ben Folds show. May Ben Folds live forever.
About two years ago I was getting interested in the south-eastern U.S. I read Noodling for Catfish and Eric Martin’s Luck (I tend not to read fiction, but Eric was a coworker of mine so I picked up a copy – very good stuff). I also got really into Ben Folds Five. It was a bit after their spotlight had faded, but they were still putting out really great music. Ben Folds used to always make me think of the east coast. Now that I’m here he makes me think of the south east, some far off mythical land (I’ve never been).

South Park Andrew

Fourth day on the job and things are getting pretty interesting. I’m actually doing real legal work for the first time in my life. It’s all about MS Word and “find and replace”. Now I know why legalese (wherefore, henceforth) is still around. Its not that lawyers write like that, its that they don’t unwrite like that. Now seriously, there has to be some original thinking to create a custom legal document, and there is a lot of work that goes into it. But no one starts from scratch.
Congratulations to my roommate Chris Boundy for making it to the front page of California Suncakes. Another example of my fine photography work. (You have to scroll down – right-hand column with the caption “Christopher takes a healthy snack to Fenway”. Today he received two dozen of those things. I’ve yet to try them.
And finally… you’ve seen Lego Andrew and now, with the aid of a German video game site we present…
South Park Andrew

I’m not a big fan of South Park, and I think the reasonably clever Lego Andrew was better, but I have to give these guys props for having colors that I actually wear. The hair is a little closer too. One step closer to the real thing.

First Day on the Job You Find…

Morrissey once sang, “First day on the job you find… everyone lied.” Actually, it was “First day with the joy” oh no wait, it was “First day with the jar”. Oh who knows what he sang? My point was going to be that it sounds like he’s saying “everyone lied”, and this melody (“Glamour Glue”) pops into my head the day before the first day of anything (school, jobs), and last night was one such day.
Today was my first day of work at the Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain. I wouldn’t say anyone lied (so maybe Morrissey never said that after all). It definitely seems like it’ll be a great place to work this summer. There are tales of interesting cases and great experience, and I have no reason to doubt that they’re true. Nevertheless, I must ponder the strangeness of first days of work (or school really). You turn up there bright and early and have no idea what you’re supposed to do. You might not even know how to get into the building (i.e. today… and come to think of it my first day at moreover was also like that). People seem nice, but you’re so concerned with not screwing anything up that you fail to notice. The day rushes past and you return to your safe haven, only to start the whole process over again bright and early the next day. Its not an especially bad experience, but certainly a bit awkward.
And with each day things become vastly more familiar…
In other news, my pictures are finally live on airlinemeals.net. You have to look under Alaska Airlines and then scroll all the way down. Some punk decided to submit five pictures of his first class food fiesta, thus bumping my pictures down and making me wish I had had that bump up to first class. Oh well.

Mirror Project

The mirror project is a website dedicated to self portrait photography using reflective surfaces. Anyone can submit a photograph as long as it uses a reflective surface and shows at least part of the photographer and the camera. The results are amazing. Considering that all submissions are accepted, I wonder how the pictures can be so good. The site design really lends itself to the exhibition, and the concept is nothing short of brilliant. Can you tell that I like this site?
Check out my submission to the mirror project.

Haymarket and Fancy Travel

I went down to Haymarket today and took some pictures. Hence the new Haymarket Photo Gallery. The market is interesting because there are so many different types of people buying so many different kinds of food. It’s sad that, in a street full of very inexpensive food, there are poor people scavenging for food off the ground and trying to get more than they pay for.
I picked up five ears of corn, five onions, and a huge cantaloupe for $3.50, not a bad deal at all.
I meant to mention the other day that I tried and failed to upgrade to first class on both my flights last week. My dad is a frequent traveler and has a supply of “first class upgrade” coupons. It seems to me that these coupons aren’t really worth much, as they require there to be an open seat in first class before one can upgrade. I didn’t mind not being “upgraded”. It was a domestic flight so they didn’t have any of those fancy massage chairs or anything like that. (Virgin Atlantic includes a limo pickup with their “Upper Class” ticket. You can opt to be picked up on a motorcycle in case you think you’re James Bond and you just can’t be bothered to waste another minute cracking the secret code.)
Thinking about the possibility of an upgrade, I was reminded of a short film called The Upgrade in which Minnie Driver plays a first class obsessed traveler. Funny stuff.