Quest for Sandwiches

A while ago, I either read about or heard about these Vietnamese sandwiches called Bahn Mi--I said (a) wow, they sound yummy, and (b) I call myself a foodie, and I've never actually had one of these?!?! I was further pushed by a New York Times article about travelling to Oklahoma City, and sampling the Vietnamese food there (Hi Sulu!). Anyway, time to solve this problem--I looked online and found a few recommended places in Chinatown.

So on a thesis break this weekend, JMD and I had a few mass transit adventures, heading from Arlington to Chinatown. On the way down, we tried the Commuter Rail option (Lowell Line, West Medford to North Station)--not a bad little ride.

Our target was New Saigon Sandwich (696 Washington St)--just a block away from the Orange Line Chinatown stop. Incidentally, once we surfaced, it was pretty clear that the Combat Zone is on its way out now--the last of the porn shops appears to be closed, only leaving, as far as I can tell, Centerfolds strip club. Lots of new residential development... oh, excuse me, luxury condominiums.

But on to sammwiches:

This is a bánh mì xíu mại (with crushed pork meatballs). Oh man... exactly what I was looking for. The crunch of a fluffy baguette (yeah, that's the French colonial influence for you), the fresh vegetables (carrots, cilantro, onions), and the slightly sweet/fish sauce flavored meat. And all that for $2.50! What a deal! Plus a lovely day to eat outside.

The trip continued with a meander through Chinatown--a few bakeries, the food service supply store, and a requisite stop at Brehznev's for a scallion pie. The kid there who helps out with serving (Philip) is totally growing up... but that's what kids do. He also has a younger sister or cousin, who is pretty adorable.

A stop in Harvard Square on the way home, and back to theesing. Ok, well... first replacing a broken bicycle spoke... then blogging... but... yeah... back to work.


First LJ Poll: Haircut Advice!

All of my readers are welcome to head over and vote on my LJ haircut poll. As I described it:

This might seem painfully self-indulgent, but hey, self-mockery is involved as well, so I figure it evens out. I've been too lazy to get a haircut since March--well, it started out as laziness, then three different women commented positively on my growing my hair out a bit, so it then turned into laziness with an excuse. On the other hand, other women told me that it looked, "...just a little bit too '70's." So, if I could trouble you all for your aesthetic advice...

Just as historical background (and to provide amusement value to all of you), here are some of my past haircuts (left to right):
  • High school: the parted bowl-cut. Man, there was a reason why I got beaten up a lot in high school. Shit, I think I'd even beat me up.
  • College sophomore year: crewcut for ROTC. Ooh-rah!
  • Current passport, from 2000: I hope my face is a little less round nowadays.


Videos of Bats Flashing on the Internet

... actually, no, it's not that kind of flashing...

I have mentioned the big party/seminar series that my company puts on every year--see here and here for the 2005 and 2006 accounts, respectively. Anyway, that's what I've been up to--I haven't been home since Friday, and there are still a few more days. As usual, it is a great time, with plenty of excellent food, drink, and people.

But also work. No... really. But it was relatively fun work--we are building some demonstration wall mock-up sections, to show our client how they would build and detail this wall (two wall sections with more insulation than normal). So one of my colleagues and I spent a few days hammering together the walls:

Part of the job is to demonstrate how you would install windows into openings--the drainage connections (i.e., flashings) are very critical to make the window work. As my boss puts it: "... there are two types of windows: windows that leak, and windows that will leak. This is why we use a pan flashing underneath the window opening, to drain out that water. So windows are like people. I might not leak right now, but when I get old, I'll probably start to leak..."

So for educational purposes, they shot and edited videos that they put up on YouTube--and for some reason, they decided that I was optimal on-camera talent. So you can see me in the video (Proper Technique for Flashing and Window Installation), doing the Bob Vila thing, except talking too fast and dressed up in tool belt drag. I actually haven't watched the whole thing yet--I find it a bit embarassing, and like everyone else, there's the whole "Is that how my voice really sounds?!" problem.

Another fun part was doing drainage testing on one of these assemblies. One of my colleagues from grad school did a lot of work on drainage in walls, so we set up a test to pour a few liters of dyed water into the place where water should drain out of the wall. I was put in charge of aquiring a measured container of water.

Huh... how about an empty 1.75 of Jose Cuervo?

As dyed red water started pouring out of the wall openings, I just had to start croaking, "REDRUM! REDRUM!"

Sometimes, I have to admit it is pretty fun to do what I do.