Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Grab Bag: Clothes and cows

It's Friday, and you know what that means ... Pull out the grab bag.  In all its randomness, I present you the Grab Bag ...

1. When you chose a new outfit of clothes, you are literally stepping into a stream of consciousness.

2. Here are cows at the lovely Appleton Farms heading off to get milked this afternoon ...

3. And here is the lovely Appleton Farms on a not very crisp October day ...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Lowell, MA: Home to Innovation Once and Again

Yesterday, the M2D2 Innovation Hub opened up in Lowell and I hopped in a car with Workbar co-founder Bill Jacobson and his director of community development Alexa Lightner to drive up
Alexa, the smiling face of Workbar at
the start of the day's journey
to the ribbon cutting, shake some hands, eat some prefab Caesar salad and hear lots (and I mean “lots!”) of politicians take their 2 minutes at the mike when it came time for speeches.

UMass president Marty Meehan, one
in a long line of speakers at the mike

To be fair, the pols were excited and they had every reason to be.  What UMass under the leadership of president Marty Meehan and Lowell campus chancellor Jacquie Moloney has been able to accomplish in this building near the Hamilton Canal is impressive. The transformation of an old industrial site into a place where entrepreneurs, 3-D fabricators and people in lab coats are starting companies represents a huge step for a city that was home to the American Industrial Revolution but has seen harder times since.
Bill (r) with Steven Tello of UMass Lowell (c)

Bill and Alexa had their own reasons to be there. Workbar, the shared work space model already in Cambridge and Boston, will operate the shared space in Lowell. One of the greatest innovations of the 21st century surely must be the increased sharing of resources, adding to their value by extending their availability. Workbar represents that and has proven its efficacy in hotbeds like Cambridge. Pushing that model out to underserved areas was on the minds of all the speakers at yesterday's event, and they let it be known.

The Lowell efforts are also highly reliant on partnerships and Workbar is only one of the many that make this place go. UMass Medical School in Worcester is seen as a critical part of M2D2's success. Med school chancellor Michael Collins noted the critical role this joint effort between the two campuses represents.

As someone who's been interested in this topic for quite some time, Lowell strikes me as indicator of how existing resources can be put to reuse in very productive ways. Oh, and it was also just a fun, fun day.

Here are some more photos from the trip ...

The interior redo on the Canal Street building
 is all about light and air.

Long open corridors define the space.
The innovation hub


The old industrial past is never far away

nor is the infrastructure that facilitated it

And here's a cool chair!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Scott Walker, we hardly knew you ... But it was enough

The thing about Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor who just "suspended" his campaign to become president of the United States, is that he was a not-very-appealing candidate who didn't appeal to many people. But sour pusses usually don't.  When it was reported recently that the Koch brothers demanded their $900 million back from Walker after he conceded to Republican voters that no one really likes him, there was broad agreement that this spat over cash couldn't happen to a nicer group of people. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

A weekend of petrochemical bliss (with some electrons thrown in for good measure)

This weekend was the annual Boston Cup, a fabulous auto show on the Boston Common.  As well, it was culmination of National Drive Electric Week. It was, in other words, a celebration of four wheels -- the gas guzzling kind as well as the electron munching kind -- and featured cars ... all kinds of cars ...

There were short ones 

and fat ones 

and skinny ones 

and old ones 

and new ones.

There were orange ones 

and yellow ones 

and red ones 

and blue ones.

There were electric ones 

and mechanical ones

and expensive ones

and even more expensive ones.

There were some you’d park in a field to smoke some herb in

and some that go really fast

and others that go really slow.

There was one made by some MIT students

and one with two badges on its hood. It turns out this one belonged to rock and roller J. Geils.

There were even some two-wheeled ones.

For the petrol-head, and the electron-head, it was a weekend of paradisiacal bliss.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day

Today I celebrate the land that I love, the land that gives me liberty and leisure and abundance beyond all measure. Today I celebrate this land and the labor that made it so, mine a tiny dollop and others a much greater heaping. I celebrate all of this ... with this photo ...

You of cynical mind will think that I too am being cynical. But you are mistaken. This photo isn't all of America, to be sure, but it is by some measure a very American part of America, to be sure!

Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Urban space transformations as seen through Google Street View

This is a fascinating look at cities and how they have been changing (for the better) over the past decade.

It's also a fascinating take on how technology is recording our world with incredible precision.

A Brazilian urban planning collective called Urb-i was thinking about cars and cities, and they started scouring Google Street View for examples of how cities have been changing. This is what they found. It's very cool and worth the look ...

Click HERE to read the article about Urb-i's work.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Great Driving Roads: The worst road in Cambridge isn't in Cambridge ...

... it's in Somerville. Beacon Street from Inman Square to Porter Square is just shockingly bad! When will Somerville do something about it?!

My car obsession has led me to a profound insight of a potentially inconsequential kind: we celebrate car designers as artists, artisans, engineers, and fix-it guys of genius proportions. And in some of the greatest cars, they are all these things and more. The Jaguar XK 120 from the 1950s comes to mind as does today's Porsche 918. There are many more examples.

Jaguar XK120

Still, equally as important to the driving experience as the auto engineer is the road engineer. Driving in its totality is the combination of car and driver and way. There is as much artistry, ingenuity, problem-solving genius in the road your driving on as there is in the car you're driving in.  Think about that the next time you come upon a covered bridge in Connecticut, or you bank a curve down a stem winder in North Carolina, or crest a mountain in Montana.

Connecticut, scenic and lovely

US Route 129 in North Carolina with 318 curves with corners called "Beginner's End"

US Route 212 in Montana. The grand open landscape of the American West

The YouTube car magazine EVO is the only place on the web I've found that recognizes the contribution a great road engineer with such unqualified admiration. Italian Antonio Parietti clearly created works of art in his roads on Majorca, Spain and I recommend watching this little bit of car/road/travel porn narrated by the magazine's Henry Catchpole. Don't worry, no naked women (or men) appear, but some truly raw, naked beauty does come through, along with an overly-dramatic, quintessentially British soundtrack to make sure you get the full emotional point of all this scenery. Man and nature do a dance and we get to watch. It's worth the look.