Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hurricanes? in Boston?

I guess we didn't plan on this when we made the decision to move here:

C is scheduled to fly to Denver on Sunday morning, and already they are saying the hurricane may ground air traffic in the Northeast from Saturday to Sunday. This could be interesting...

Just for reference, C and I didn't feel yesterday's Virginia earthquake at all. But I'll bet my brother, who lives in Charlottesville just 35 miles from the quake epicenter, or our friends JD and DJ, who live in Annapolis about 140 miles from the epicenter, might have...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The New Couch

C and I just dropped $$$$ on a sha-weet new couch. We were totally inspired by the sha-weet "L" couch our buddies DJ and JD own that is very conducive to conversation and general chilling out with friends.

The latest addition to our family looks sorta like the promotional photo below, although we got one a big larger and in a slightly different configuration (and there's no way in *HELL* two savvy gays like us would ever allow those throw pillows to cross the threshold of our home).We are having a great time together tricking out our new digs :-)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New England driving rants

  • Rant #1: No or missing street signs. There appears to be a law that any intersection can have at most one street sign. Sometimes none. Never two or more.
  • Rant #2: Which lane do I stay in to go straight through an intersection? When approaching an intersection, Bostonians will queue up into two lanes (although there is no painted line separating them). Sometimes the left of the two lanes is treated as a left-turn-only lane while the other lane is a right-or-go-straight lane. Other times the left of the two lanes is a left-or-go-straight lane and the other is a right-turn-only lane. These are not marked, but townies know how they want them to be used, and they will let you know with hand gesticulations if you are using them incorrectly.

  • Rant #3: When you are the first person in the go-straight lane, you are expected to pause and allow exactly one car from the oncoming left-turn lane turn left before you proceed into the intersection. This is an expected courtesy; again, locals will let you know with hand gesticulations if you do not provide it.
  • Rant #4: toll road exit numbers have no connection to mile markers. If you went by exit numbers, you'd think that New York is only 62 miles across and Massachusetts is only 26 miles across. This applies only to toll roads; if you exit a toll road onto a freeway interstate, exit numbers again match mile markers (as in the rest of the free world). Unnecessarily confusing.

Worst. Lamp. EVER.

So C and I are preparing for our first trip to IKEA today. We're taking a look at stuff online to get a sense of what's available. Came across this un-gem:
Why, yes. I'd love to pay $60 to install a giant, glowing tampon in my living room.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

New Digs

C and I have been apartment-hunting in Massachusetts for the past few days. We just signed a lease on our home for the next year. This place is sweet! We are living in a great loft in a renovated 180-year old textile mill in downtown Lowell.

Lowell, by the way, has really blown away my expectations and even the early positive opinions I had of it when we were out here in February. The whole place is like the San Antonio Riverwalk or the Indianapolis Canalwalk on steroids. Engineering steroids :-)

Downtown Lowell is itself a National Park, so deemed due to Lowell's role as the starting point of the American industrial revolution. This city was engineered from its inception, when several textile companies drew up plans for a town based entirely around textile manufacturing. In the early 1800s, these companies dug an elaborate network of canals to divert the Merrimack River as it descended a ~32 foot elevation drop over the course of a mile in a particular bend of the river near Boston.

The canals turned the farmland that would become Lowell in to a shallow archipelago, and astride the canals the companies erected massive cotton and wool textile miles.

The canal water turned massive water wheels and turbines in the basements of the mills, and this mechanical motion was transferred by systems of gears and belts throughout the mills to turn the first mechanical looms in the United States. The rest of the city sprang up in support of the mills.

The textile industry in Lowell ground to a halt after World War II, and for about 30 years the mills fell into disrepair and several were demolished. The US Congress created the Lowell National Historic Park in 1978 and began renovating some of the mills. Since then, every federal dollar invested has been matched with 10 private dollars for renovation, as Lowell's mills have been restored to their former glory, although now housing doctor's offices, small businesses, condos and loft apartments, and tons of great restaurants.

The water from the canals no longer drives mechanical looms, but is now used to generate electricity at four hydroelectric stations throughout downtown located on the old locks of canal system as well as in the basements of two of the old mills. The National Park operates boat tours along the canals (C and I took a fascinating 3-hour canal tour today). In addition, the Park has restored part of the old electric trolley line that ran through the city and conducts tours in two cool old streetcars.

I am honestly finishing this trip more excited than I was before. I think we're really going to enjoy living here :-)