Infrastructure Dorkery Part II

As a continuation of yesterday's historical infrastructure dorkery (trolley tracks at Somerville Ave), I walked by the same site today, and there was enough interesting stuff going on that I posted the shots to my Flickr page.

One interesting item was the shape of the track--it has that "cup" on one side of the track--necessary for it to function as a flush part of a surface street, while still having somewhere for the railroad wheel flange to go. Some Wikipedia searching revealed that it is known as grooved rail ("invented in 1852 by Alphonse Loubat, a French inventor who developed improvements in tram and rail equipment, and helped develop tram lines in New York City and Paris").

Also, the excavation revealed that there were cobblestones under the asphalt surface. I have a soft spot/nostalgia for cobblestones--I distinctly remember my family driving around various NYC neighborhoods, and the car rumbling around on the cobblestone street portions, back in the 1970's.

They are reducing the width of the sidewalk on the side next to the commuter rail tracks. Huh.. I wonder if they might be adding a bike lane or something? That would totally rock. But maybe they're just making the street into two lanes or something.


Old Trolley Tracks (Somerville Ave)

[Category: Historical infrastructure dorkery]

I actually took the car to work on Tuesday; as I headed away from Mass Ave at Porter onto Somerville Ave, I saw that they had a few lanes blocked for construction. Ugh... seems like they've been doing repeated construction for years now on Somerville Ave.

But as I stopped at the light, I saw them ripping up... whoah... what's that?

Huh... looked like there were trolley lines under the asphalt that they were tearing up. At first, I thought they might have done this by accident: Okay guys, let's just get the backhoe in here, and we'll make a hole for the gas lin... aw, crap, what did we snag here?

But if you look a bit more closely, they have the trolley location marked with white dashed paint (apologies for the composition of the photos; they were taken blind pointing my camera behind me out the passenger window). Note how the track was poking up through the asphalt at the double yellow line--y'know, I think I remember seeing that, and wondering what it was...

Anyway, I had no idea that there used to be a trolley line here (parallel with the commuter rail tracks). But that seems to be the case, according to this Boston streetcar map from Wikipedia. Also, there is a 323 page PDF of "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" on the web:

June 1, 1912 The Lechmere viaduct opened from the North Station portal to Lechmere Sq. An elevated station was located at North Station West. Surface car lines operating through from Clarendon Hill via Somerville Ave., Clarendon Hill via Highland Ave., and Harvard Sq. via Cambridge St. operated over the viaduct to Scollay Sq. or to the portal at Tremont & Broadway.

Huh... it all pretty much makes sense. However, if you ever see me compelled to write a 323 page document about a transit system, you might want to stage an intervention.


Last Weekend's Wedding Post

Well, it looks like I won't actually have time to write a real post about Colin & Jess's wedding last weekend, so I'll try to summarize highlights. spectralbovine's recap of the event is a quite complete recounting of the wedding of awesome. Also, there's a Flickr group page for the wedding that many people have contributed photos to. And Beemer's post here. Huh... this is more of a meta-post, it seems.

Jofish officiated at the ceremony (always excellent to see); some highlights included Jess's dad reading some of DaVinci's work on arches as an analogy for marriage ("An arch is composed of two incomplete circular segments joined together..."), as well as readings from the Massachusetts and California State Supreme Court Rulings on Same Sex Marriage--a wonderful touch, which invoked huge cheers from the assembled crowd.

The reception was held as the SquidLabs Alameda office--the renovated control tower on the abandoned Naval base. Wow... I don't know if there would be a more perfect place to have a reception for a bunch of geeks... just an incredibly sweeping view of the Bay, a great big roof deck to hang out on, and a control tower that everyone could pack into and socialize in!

I ended the evening of the reception sitting at the piano which is in the lobby of SquidLabs. A dramatically lit grand piano, with a view of the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline... how could I possibly resist sitting down and playing for a while?!

The trip wrapped up with two familiar but great parts of a canonical Bay Area trip--Brunch at Tortuga (Christy & U-Boat's), with all of the folks who made it out for the wedding:

And a trip down to South Bay to visit Jen, Schmooz, Max, and Delaney--Max was on his way to Stanford's Pirate Camp (summer camp run by the Stanford fencing and sailing teams as a fund-raiser):

Pirates Camp is dedicated to creating a safe and fun pirate experience.
Our experienced counselors (captains) help bring to life our pirate theme.
Pirates are on the move all week! Our day will be filled with fencing in the varsity fencing room, treasure hunting around campus, rock climbing and lots of fun pirate games.

Travel home was on that horrible SFO-ORD-MSP-BOS itinerary, including claiming and rechecking luggage in MSP while changing airlines. Travels went as smoothly as a four-airport trip could go, but it was still 15 hours of travel door-to-door. Ugh.

Overall, it was a complete and utter delight to see such a lovely couple get married. And it was great to see all those friends!


Religiosity and the US

This graph comes from an Atlantic Monthly article And The Winner Is... (March 2008). The article has an extensive discussion of the various faiths around the world and how they are gaining or losing adherents. But the graph itself was very telling to me:

Last October, the Pew Global Attitudes Project plotted 44 countries according to per capita gross domestic product and intensity of religious belief, gauged by the responses to several questions about faith (a rendition of the Pew data appears on the opposite page). The pattern, as seen in the Pew study and a number of other sources, is hard to miss: when God and Mammon collide, Mammon usually wins.

Of course, you will note that the United States stands out pretty far from the remaining pattern, and substantially more religious than comparably wealthy nations:

Talk about an outlier—there on the Pew chart it stands, nearly alone, as the only country in the world, apart from Kuwait, that is both wealthy and religious. Americans are not only more religious than Europeans; they are more religious than the citizens of some Latin American countries. If proof is needed that religion will remain a dominant force in history for a long time to come, the fact that the world’s most affluent society is also well up among the faithful would seem to provide it. When the president says that his decision to invade another country was influenced by a call from God, or when school boards decide to include creationism in their curriculum, it appears safe to conclude that Americans are not living in the world envisioned by Marx or Freud.

Explains why, as an agnostic, I have generally felt out of step with the general tone and attitudes of this country. Also, it jibes well with the wag that the US is "just a very rich Third World country." Perhaps it is also why I felt a bit more at home while living in Canada (also supporting the contention that Canada is a bit more like Europe than the US).

I wonder what the graph would look like if they divided up the country by region--e.g, the North vs. South, Blue States vs. Red States, or coasts vs. heartland. Or is it far more blended than one would think--for instance, see the "blended" cartograms towards the bottom of this page recording the 2004 election.


Pick a Card...

I realized on this trip that I keep fare cards for three transit systems (Boston CharlieCard, New York MTA, San Francisco BART) handy, because I end up in all of these cities on a somewhat regular basis. It's very nice that in all these locations, I can feel at home, get around reasonably well, and have friends to see! It's a kinda neat feeling to get off a plane or Amtrak, and get right on the transit system without even hitting the ticket machine. I also have system maps for all three systems (as well as Minneapolis Light Rail) on my CrackBerry.

As for comparing the cities--well, Perlick put up a post comparing New York with the Bay Area, and Boston/Cambridge as well; his discussion (synthesizing other opinions) and the reader comments were quite interesting.

Incidentally, on this recent Bay Area trip, I was guessing that San Francisco is larger than Boston, but I wasn't sure by how much. A little Wikipedia seaching revealed the following (2000 Census data):

Boston: 589,141
Cambridge: 101,355
Somerville: 77,478

San Francisco: 764,976
Oakland: 420,183

So the nominal "city" portions are pretty comparable, but the combined populations of SF and Oakland make the Bay Area much larger. This was also reflected in the sizes of the downtowns--Boston's is pretty limited (skyscrapers from the Pru to the Financial District), while it is much larger in SF.

It was also interesting to walk around San Francisco proper, and realize that there's still lots of industry (garages, body shops, furniture warehouses) in the city--like around the Instructables/Potenco office. It has always felt to me that in New York City, these industries were relegated to the outer boroughs (Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx), instead of remaining on Manhattan, due to real estate prices. I considered this a bit of a pity--creating a monoculture of ritzy shopping, restaurants, and high-end condos takes something away from the jumbled-together character of a city, I think. Then again, living downwind of a painting booth doesn't sound fun.

SF Trip (Random Photos, First)

I'm back from my Minneapolis and San Francisco trip (i.e, the BOS-MSP-ORD-SFO-ORD-MSP-BOS itinerary). I need to put together the requisite-extended-travelogue, but in the meanwhile, here are a few goofy photos that made me chuckle when I took them:

First, a hotel in the Mission:

Yes, I know that Eula is a name (as well as a town in Texas), but I can't see those letters without thinking End-User License Agreement. I got riffing:

By unlocking the hotel room door, the user agrees to be bound by the terms and conditions spelled out in the document posted on the opposite side of the door. If you reject the terms of this agreement, you are more than welcome to sleep on the sidewalk with the dudes that smell like a mix of Thunderbird and nursing home.

As for the second one (And yes, I was crashing with the lovely and brilliant Dr. O. on this trip):

It was almost tempting to go up to the front desk, to see if they would answer "What time is checkout?" with, "Well, sir, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Man, that joke just keeps getting funnier each time we use it." Oy.


On Micro-Vacations

Boring, wordy post written while on an airplane ORD-SFO today.

I realized that the way I schedule my vacations currently is pretty unconventional—I often take a few days here-and-there while on business travel, when work sends me to places that are either interesting or where friends live. For instance, I have made use of business trips to San Francisco, Cleveland, Denver, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Seattle, Waterloo, DC, and many other towns to see friends, which has been absolutely wonderful.

For instance, on this current trip, I took one vacation day in Minneapolis after my conference to hang out with my friend Psycho Security Guard–I haven’t seen him or his family in about a year and a half. His daughter is 3 years old now, quite adorable, and whip-smart. Then I’m taking two or three vacation days (and a weekend) to go to Colin & Jess’s wedding in San Francisco—and see a variety of Teps.

I’m in a position (single and without children) that this system of “micro-vacations” works perfectly. My schedule is flexible, it requires little planning, and doesn’t require airfare and logistics for multiple people. All that I really want for accommodations is a couch and a wireless high speed connection. I realize, of course, that there are plusses and minuses to either lifestyle—but right now, honestly, on the scale of things, this one works for me. I’ll admit that there are definite downsides (discussed below).

I’m probably going to take a similar mini-vacation in August, when I am out in the Bay Area for a conference. But I haven’t planned a big (e.g., weeklong) for this year… perhaps I should try to schedule one, to avoid burning out. Anyone have any suggestions?

However, my current life arrangement makes me worry about planning/enjoying large vacations by myself. It is part of what keeps me from trying out the world traveling that I’d like to do (e.g., South & Central America, Southeast Asia). I figure that travel logistics can be very annoying—you don’t have the option of “Ok, you watch the bags and wait in line, and I’ll grab us some food and water.” I’ve dealt with this by being the organizer for various group camping trips (Badlands/South Dakota, Big Bend, Yosemite, Saguaro). Perhaps I should try a big solo vacation, though, anyway. A quote from David Margolick (contributing editor at Vanity Fair) on this topic struck me:

Some people are well-suited to solo journeys, but I am not among them. If such trips had a sound track, for me it wouldn't be that old camp standard about wandering happily with a knapsack on my back - "Val-de-ri, Val-de-ra" - but "Courage," a song from Schubert's "Winterreise" in which a stalwart traveler tries, rather unconvincingly, to show he can hack it on his own, can fend off the loneliness and despair.

I haven't had specific crises; it's rather the general, predictable situation. Naturally, there's no one to share the joys. But more often than that, there's no other brain to pick, no other set of legs to choose between left or right at the next corner, no one's plate to pick off.

The hardest part is the meals, and there are lots of them, because they are easy, mollifying, something to do. You're thankful to bury your head in The International Herald Tribune, but if the place is dark, you're out of luck.

Perhaps this is why solo travelers write so many postcards. Go with another person, even if it's the wrong person, and you're spared that, along with the table for one in the corner.

But along with the sadness, there is a crucial bonus to being on your own: serendipity. People touring in pairs seem self-contained, impermeable - except, perhaps by other pairs of travelers, often from the same place (home), often doing the same superficial things. When you are alone, and when you have the courage to appear as vulnerable as you really feel, this is when travel's most memorable moments occur.

On the flip side, I know I enjoy solitary travel at times—see my travelogues from NYC, for instance. I can geek out looking at infrastructure, or sample the strangest food, or have odd schedules, or stop to write postcards for hours at a café—without worrying how much I’m boring somebody else. I know that I can get annoyed and lose patience with others easily—which might be at least as unpleasant as the problems of traveling alone.

I Would Drive 5000 Miles

A quote from a recent Times article (U.S. Gasoline Rises Above $4 A Gallon For First Time) was pretty striking to me:

A survey issued last week found that 74 percent of Americans would change their driving habits if gasoline were to top $4 per gallon.

If gasoline prices hit $5 a gallon, 85 percent of Americans would cut out nonessential driving, consolidate errands, carpool, walk or bike, according to the survey by Ipsos Public Affairs.

<sarcasm>What?! People might actually start acting as if oil were a valuable resource? And realize that easy motoring convenience has a non-negligible price?! You're kidding!! Carpooling and consolidating errands?! Cutting out nonessential driving?!?! What madness is this country being driven to?! This American way of life is non-negotiable!! Dick Cheney told us so!</sarcasm>

In case I haven't shared it before, here is a great Times graph showing gasoline per gallon price, normalized to 2005 dollars. It shows that if you factor in inflation, the 1981 peak was over $3/gallon. But apparently, we’ve blown past that record now.

I consider myself very fortunate (and happy) that I made life choices letting me minimize my driving. I have filled my gas tank only five times in the past six months, and that includes a 700-mile round trip from Boston to Ithaca (3 people in the car each way, in case you were wondering). Most of the remaining driving was for work (reimbursed at 50.5¢/mile). Owning my dorkmobile-bicycle-trailer also makes this lifestyle possible. Minimal car use also works well with tandem parking—my car sits in the back spot, so JMD and I rarely have to do the car shuffle.

Here’s some average mileage data (per vehicle and per household) from the Energy Information Administration:

An average vehicle, therefore, traveled farther in 1994 than in 1988: 11,400 miles per year compared with 10,200 miles per year (Figure 3.2). Because the number of vehicles per household remained steady at about 1.8 from 1988 through 1994, per-vehicle and per-household mileage grew at about same rate. The per-household average rose from 18,600 miles in 1988 to 21,100 miles in 1994.

So compared to ~12,000 miles/year per vehicle, I’ve consistently held it to ~5000/year, since starting grad school and then returning to Boston:

Yeah, you can really see the effect of ditching the Cambridge-to-495 daily commute. Of course, currently, my transportation expenses are displaced to the other modes that I use (CharlieCard, bicycle parts). But if you add up my MBTA costs for Q1+Q2 2008, they were: $180. Difference between driving 5,000 vs. 12,000 miles with my current vehicle: ~$1120/year. Hellsyeah.

In case there is any non-overlap on my friendslist, arcticturtle had a post on this topic that made me laugh out loud (“not to gloat, but…”):

when we bought our hybrid Honda Insight in 2000, lots of people told us it wouldn't be worth it - we wouldn't save enough gas to make up the expense of buying it (though, really, it wasn't much more than a "comparable" nonhybrid, whatever that is.)

We didn't argue. We figured driving clean was worth spending more. We wanted to help foster the improving technology. Plus, surprisingly few terrorist organizations are funded by Japanese automotive engineers.

Of course, I do realize that the rise in fuel prices is going to have an effect on the overall economy—everybody is going to take a price hit, given the national infrastructure (transportation, food, distribution of goods) we’ve built up based on cheap fuel (see the shipping container post).

Finally, I have to direct folks to an On Point episode on WBUR on the topic of oil prices. It grabbed my interest strongly enough that I ended up sitting in my car in the Whole Foods parking lot, to catch the whole episode. One striking piece of information: the United States consumes 33% of world’s road fuel, with only 5% of the population. It was mostly information that I knew and agree with, but it was still worth a listen.


Not *More* Bad Travel Karma…

I partway through my BOS-MSP-ORD-SFO-ORD-MSP-BOS trip, and it’s been an annoying trip already (wrote this on Tuesday; this is the first time I've gotten online since I landed).

I experienced an extreme failure getting to the airport via MBTA—it took 1 hour 10 minutes to get from Porter Square to the airport. The little frustrations along the way were what really bothered me. Sitting at South Station, and seeing four non-airport Silver Line buses drive by. <sarcasm>Shit—it’s not like anyone really goes to the airport, anyway, instead of, say, Silver Line Way.</sarcasm> Then stopping at Terminal A (already late), and doing the mental calculus—“If I bail here and hump my bags overland through Central Parking to Terminal E, will I get there faster than the bus circuit?” (I decided against it). And then standing in a checkin line of squalling children, with morons standing at the front of the line waiting for a human being—while there were open checkin kiosks.

I fully expected to miss my flight, but they managed to check me in (a plus, for a change, for airline delays). I got on the plane with minutes to spare.

My bags didn’t make it, as I expected—I planned for this contingency, and threw my chinos into my carry on bag. Unfortunately, because my missed bag was my fault (checking in late), the airline doesn’t deliver your bag—I had to take the train back to the airport to pick it up. Grr.

My colleague had it worse—getting stranded overnight at ORD with a $300/night hotel as the only option; he managed to get to the conference around noon--and he’s a co-chair of a session.

The Minneapolis end went fine—actually, major points for the Minneapolis Light Rail system--a convenient airport connection to the station, $1.50 for a ride pretty close to my hotel. Go mass transit!

Another annoyance was trying to get a network connection. The hotel charges for wireless (it’s the usual expensive-hotel-so-we-don’t-include-wireless-for-free scumbag model). Also, the convention center charges for wireless. Fuckers! You’re all fuckers! The City of Minneapolis claims to offer free wireless, but once connected, I couldn't seem to do anything.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to taking a few days off after this conference--hanging out with my buddy Psycho Security Guard tomorrow. My talk went very well (a few people complimented me on it and asked questions), and I managed to retrieve my luggage. I’m figuring I’ve gotten the suck-ass travel out of the way, so the rest has to be smooth sailing, right? (i.e., the French car theory of life—your Peugeot puts you through so much misery that the rest of your life has to be good to compensate).


Globalization and Fuel Costs

This is another post in the 'peak oil & related' category--I also wanted to link together two seemingly unrelated articles that I read recently.

An article in today's New York Times ("Revived Paper Mill Brings a Town Back With It") was a rather heartening story of how local workers in upstate New York held on to a closed paper mill, and managed to find an investor to buy and reopen the place.

Eight years ago, a paper mill closed in this remote corner of the western Adirondacks, taking with it more than 100 jobs. Most of the 75 houses in this speck of a hamlet a two-hour drive from Canada soon fell into disrepair, their frames thrashed by weather and hardship.

It is a familiar story: industry leaves, jobs disappear, hardscrabble town is left adrift. Not Newton Falls. As if in a fairy tale, the shuttered mill has come back to life, thanks to a healthy dose of luck, a longtime paper executive’s willingness to take a chance, and the unbending commitment of two men to the place where they had labored for two decades.

It is not yet profitable (open less than a year), but it seems quite possible. I have to admit that it's nice to hear stories that manufacturing in the US can actually work--the distance we ship everything we own is a bit offensive. Also, it is one of those things that fundamentally bothers me about turning closed heavy industry into upscale lofts--all that it means is that we shipped the associated pollution overseas--it's not as if that pollution went away. In fact, it must be worse in places like China and India (fewer pollution/environemntal controls, etc.) See this Boston Globe article ("US castoffs resuming dirty career: Old plants, buses are sold to poorer nations")

But I am worried whether or not the economics will actually work at a plant like this--when a worker can get paid $90/month in China or $45/month in Vietnam (today's Marketplace figures)... how can the US possibly compete?

One thing that might make US industry viable again would be rising oil prices increasing shipping costs--making it no longer economically feasible to continue business as usual. This made me want to do some research--just how strong of an effect will rising fuel costs have on shipping everything from Guangzhou to Wal-Mart via container ship? Small or large?--for instance, I know that ships are one of the least fuel-intensive modes of transport (this Wikipedia table only compares US Domestic rail, water, truck, and air).

This research led me to this Toronto Star article, which in turn pointed me to a CIBC report ("Will Soaring Transport Costs Reverse Globalization?"). Man... the internet is great for porn.. uh, I mean research!

The authors found that increases in shipping costs have effectively created tarrifs so large they have pretty much wiped out all the "knocking down of trade barriers" done for globalization. In terms of fuel vs. transportation costs:

The duration of a typical sea voyage from China to North America is four weeks. Including inland costs, shipping a standard 40-foot container from Shanghai to the US eastern seaboard now costs $8,000. In 2000, when oil prices were $20 per barrel, it cost only $3,000 to ship the same container. But at $200 per barrel, it will soon cost $15,000 in transport costs to ship from China to the US eastern seaboard.

(I'm assuming they're talking about ship across the Pacific, and train across the US. In case it's not obvious, WTI = West Texas Intermediate, a type of crude oil used as a benchmark in oil pricing.)

The authors of the article addressed my question directly, actually:

To what extent will astronomical increases in transport costs alter the huge (but shrinking) wage differential between Chinese labor and North American labor remains to be seen. But we are already starting to see some change in capital-intensive manufacturing whose products carry a high ratio of freight costs to final selling prices.

Take the steel sector for example. With little over an hour and a half of labor time embodied in the production of a ton of steel, and relatively high freight costs, the global cost curve of the steel sector is changing rapidly. Given that most parts of China (and Asia in general) are short iron ore, getting the raw materials to the steel mill (mainly from Australia and Brazil) adds an additional and growing cost not typically incurred by US steel producers. Add to it the $90 freight cost of shipping a ton of hot-rolled steel sheet from China to the US, and the transport component is large enough to turn the global steel cost curve on its head. Even at today’s oil prices, rising transport costs have already more than offset China’s otherwise slim cost advantage, giving US steel a competitive advantage in its own market for the first time in over a decade.

They also point out that Mexico might see a resurgence:

Instead of finding cheap labor half-way around the world, the key will be to find the cheapest labor force within reasonable shipping distance to your market.

In that type of world, look for Mexico’s maquiladora plants to get another chance at bat when it comes to supplying the North American market. In a world where oil will soon cost over $200 per barrel, Mexico’s proximity to the rest of North America gives its costs a huge advantage.

I realize I'm not saying anything new here--James Howard Kunstler ("Home From Nowhere," etc.) has thoroughly explored this subject, figuring that in the extreme case, rising fuel costs might someday force us back to horse-and-buggy level locally-produced economies.

As a post-script note--if you haven't already read about it, check out the Simmons-Tierney bet, on the future of oil prices. I'm looking forward to seeing Tierney get punk'd in 2010.

As to the point of "economics will drive us to alternate fuels in due course"--the ultimate problem is that for the most part, transportation fuel = liquid fuel/oil--there isn't much in the way of substitutes, at least given current technology. By way of analogy, you're not going to tell a heroin addict going through withdrawal that cough syrup should keep him going without a problem.


Double-Headed Action!!

This post can be filed under "computer dorkery: monitors", "Windows XP", and "IntarWeb public service." One of my coworkers pointed out that when you connect a laptop to an external monitor, you can use both monitors independently. This part might be a "duh" to all of my readers, but was news to me.

But one problem I ran into: you cannot set the external monitor to be the "primary" monitor. Therefore, all applications start by default on the small monitor. And whenever a dialog box opens up, it's on the small monitor. And when you do Alt-Tab to cycle between applications, it's on the small monitor. Grr. There is a checkbox for "Use this device as my primary monitor," but it is greyed out.

This made it mostly useless to me--I searched online on how to make it my primary monitor, with no luck. However, I accidentally figured it out: after connecting the external monitor to the VGA port on a laptop:
  • Press the function monitor toggle keys (my laptop uses Fn-F10)--it will go from laptop only, to both laptop and external, and only external--leave it on that third setting
  • Go to Control Panel -> Display -> Settings
  • Monitor 2 should be the laptop monitor now, and the external is the primary. Right-click to attach it, and place it where you want to, relative to the primary monitor
  • To disconnect, just reverse this procedure

Woo hoo!

Although I am currently saddled with that task that makes me feel like a piece of me is dying every day, this setup makes it easier to juggle data between four applications. A laptop stand brought the monitor up to a readable level, reducing neck strain.

Note that I have no need for a Wall Street trader-style monitors-for-my-entire-field-of-vision setup.

Okay, geekery over. For now.


Weekend Project: Bathtub Moving

Sorry I haven't been updating lately--I'll try to post something more substantive soon. In the meanwhile, here's this past weekend's project--moving the clawfoot bathtub that Jen stripped and refinished into the renovated master bathroom, over at Bird & Jen's.

First, Bird and I ran a bit of baseboard, where it goes behind the tub.

The tub moving process involved a low dolly and leapfrogging pieces of plywood across the floor, to avoid leaving dents in the wood floors. It worked remarkably well, although the whole "move-then-leapfrog" thing made me think of stories of ancient builders doing the same with rollers, sledges, and stonehenge-size blocks.

I've been looking for this quote from a steam-era (?) engineer, along the lines of, "Heavy lifting is for levers, mules, and idiots." Unfortunately, Google hasn't turned it up yet. I'm glad that we made use of basic machines where possible for this project... although there are times when you just have to muscle the thing on and off the cart.

Well yeah, lady, there's ya problem.

Anyway, as a public service to the IntarWeb, in case anyone finds this useful, a bit of cleverness was required to attach the feet to the tub. They were laquer-finished ball feet:

The connection fitting was some type of a wedged dovetail--it wedged into place, but didn't seem completely secure. However, when you dry-fit the piece, you can see that there was a rectangular opening on the inboard/far side of the lug. Apparently, the foot is meant to be secured by some type of a metal wedge inserted in that opening. Huh... didn't see any of those in the kit.

However, an old-fashioned metal "cut nail" seemed to work just fine in this application. A bit of tapping and nudging secured everything together.

Alternately, some searching on the net turned up this solution--a threaded rod and turnbuckle, to secure the feet from slipping outwards.

Anyway, seems like their bathroom project will still be ongoing for a bit.... but this moves one heavy piece into place.

Afterwards, Jen made a lovely dinner (pork chops and risotto with asparagus and fiddleheads).

A late evening of drinking followed (beer, gin & tonic, red wine with dinner, Glenrothes single malt).