Monday, February 01, 2016

Time lapse construction camera

For a less verbal, aerial view of the Zervas (de) construction, here's a link to the Zervas construction cam. Cool! No comments about wallball, however.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

End of January 2016

Work on the dismantling of Zervas continues. 

From January 23, a shot of the playground equipment with swings removed. This photo is looking west from Cold Spring Park and the building behind the swing set is the modular at the end of the Kindergarten hall (you can see the original brick building on the right edge of this photo).

Here are two photos from January 27. The first shows men removing material from the roof of the building. There may be asbestos or some such because they wrapped all the material in plastic (and wore hazmat type suits) before hauling it away.

This shot from the 27th shows how much of the roof they've taken off of 1338 Beacon Street, a former home with dentist office which was one of three that the city bought to expand the Zervas lot. (1330 Beacon is shown behind and 1316 is not visible.)

This photo from today, January 28, shows that they've removed the modular room that extended past the kindergarten hallway which was in the first photo of this post. That modular was less than five years old and covered up what the kids considered the "handball" wall. Well kids, the wall is back! (Don't climb into the construction area to play, please.)

Saturday, January 09, 2016

New sight lines

Well, maybe someone is reading this blog or (more likely) they were planning on cutting holes in the fence in the first place. In any case, as you can see, there are now easier sight lines between Beethoven and Beacon. 

Meanwhile, here's a view from Cold Spring Park showing how the fence is closed off from that side. 

Friday, January 08, 2016

Fencing is close to the road

The fence around the Zervas building site has gone up. What surprised me is that it's right against the street -- it encompasses what used to be the sidewalk. 

I wonder if there's a safety issue here. I saw a jogger in the road on the south side of Beacon St. Also, for drivers it's hard to see much. 

This is significant for cars turning left onto Beethoven from Beacon. A lot of people cut the corner a bit and you may not see a car on Beethoven if you do. Be careful!

Meanwhile, they are leveling the site and piling up dirt near the front door. 

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Frank Zervas School is fenced off

Our local elementary school, which I've been walking to daily for the past seven years, is getting torn down to be replaced by a new building. 

I will continue to be walking by every day on my way to the dog park, so I thought I'd post a few random thoughts when they came to me.

Today, I walked through the property for the last time in a while to cut through behind the dumpster and basketball court to Cold Spring Park (literarily famous [not "literally"] as the setting for a killing in the novel Defending Jacob).

On our way out, the gate was chained up and the fence had been altered so I had to go around. Bye bye, shortcut! Taco will miss sniffing for squirrels in the dumpsters (he got lucky a few times). 

Zervas behind a fence

So here it is, Zervas elementary school behind the new fence.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

"Hamilton" and my kids

My latest missive is a love letter to a Broadway Musical on behalf of me and my kids:
The New York Times recently reported that the Rockefeller Foundation would be paying for 20,000 eleventh graders to see the musical “Hamilton,” the Broadway phenomenon that tells the story of the founding father Alexander Hamilton. Perhaps they should consider buying tickets for younger kids, too. 
For the past couple of weeks, my house of tweens has been booming with the original Broadway cast recording of the show. “Hamilton” has become the soundtrack to breakfast, homework time, dinner, and every car ride where the kids have control over the radio.
Read the rest on The Public Humanist Blog

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Khaki Life: Cleaning out the dryer

If we define "green" as environmentally aware and proper and "brown" as the opposite, most people probably are living a "khaki life." I know I am.

I also know that I should try to do better. I'm not going off the grid, or buying carbon offsets for my every car ride, but I try to do a little bit in my every day life. And, honestly, I have more time than money so whatever I do to get greener will probably involve more sweat than cents.

Take this weekend. I've noticed our clothes dryer -- a GE model we bought 5 years ago -- was estimating cycles at longer and longer intervals. Used to be it would weigh the clothes and check the humidity (or whatever it does) and suggest it would take 62 minutes to dry a load of laundry. But that time was creeping up until last month each load was taking 73 minutes.

About the same time, the washing machine overflowed and I checked the manual and saw that I was supposed to clean out the filter every six months. Oops. At least I didn't wait six years.

When I was done with the washer, I checked the dryer manual for maintenance tips. There was nothing listed.

Then, on social media, one of my neighbors was asking about dryer vent clean out services. Aha!

Our dryer is positioned in our basement so that there is a fairly long vent to the exterior -- six feet up and then 20 feet out -- because of an addition the previous owners had made to the house. The output vent on the side of the house had plenty of dust and lint around it which was a good clue that there was probably a lot of lint in the venting.

Dryer lint brush
Turns out, dryer vents are just tubes stuck into one another like the extending attachments on a vacuum cleaner, with one crimped end that fits snugly into the wider opposite end of the next piece. So, armed with a lint brush I bought from Sears, a stick, a bucket and a vacuum, I cleaned out my dryer vent.

Each section of the vent is less than 2 feet long so after taking the sections apart, I stood a section up inside the bucket, scrubbed the sides with the brush and then scraped at any loose bits with the stick. I even stuck my arm in to flail my fingers about a bit, but that was not very effective and I was afraid the metal edges might cut me. I tried to get most of the dust and lint I removed to fall into the bucket, but anything I missed was vacuumed up.

The last step was to disconnect the vent hose from the back of the dryer. Have you ever tried to move a dryer? Surprisingly light!

There was a ring securing the hose to the dryer and I should have loosened the ring with a screwdriver (lefty loose-y) but instead, when I pulled the dryer away from the wall the hose popped off by mistake.

Well, it was off anyway, so I cleaned out the lint from the back of the dryer and from the hose. That was a satisfying job. I then pushed the dryer half way back, deposited a skinny 11 year old girl behind the dryer and made her affix the hose back to the dryer (right-y tight-y) before I would pull her back out.

Daughter retrieved, dryer back in position, I set the machine to a short "fluff" cycle just to make sure there weren't major leaks in the venting system. It all checked out!

Then I did some laundry. When the load went into the dryer, I set it up and the machine estimated drying time to be: 43 minutes. That's quite a bit of difference!

Now, not everyone has an extra long dryer vent that has not been cleaned out in 5 or more years, but the point is that regularly maintaining our appliances will improve their efficiency. Which reminds me: those coils under the fridge need to be vacuumed, the radiators need to be cleaned... there's lots to do.

Let me know if you have any regular maintenance routines that help you live greener by tweeting me @jakcheng