Archive for the 'Everything Else' Category

Skateboard House

PAS House - Skateboard Dream

PAS House - Skateboard Dream

PAS House, aka the Skateboard House, is a fantasy made real for any teenage skateboarder or former skateboarder.

But you’ve got to grow up and make a lot of money to make your dreams come true if your dream is to have one of the world’s most unusual houses designed for you.

Pierre-Andre Senizergues, formerly a professional skateboarder and now the owner of Etnies, a sportswear company, commissioned architect Francois Perrin to create a house in which every surface is skateable.

PAS House (the name uses the owner-to-be’s initials) is a skatepark of a house.  The walls are curved, the kitchen counters can be skated on, even the furniture is designed to be used by skateboarders.

This summer a full-scale prototype of the inside of the house was on display in Paris.  The skateboard house will be built in Malibu, California.

The Etnies website has amazing videos of skateboarders and cyclists in the PAS House prototype.  A recent New York Times article includes an article with architect Francois Perrin about the skateboard house.

Senizergues’ current house, filled with skateboard art and artifacts, is pretty fabulous as well.  In fact, the LA Times called it the “ultimate skateboarder’s place”.  It’s almost as though Senizergues thought “I’ll show you the ultimate skateboarder’s place” – and commissioned Francois Perrin to create it.

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Move Gone Wrong – Sprinklers Flood Condo Building

Broken sprinkler floods condo building in Boston

Broken sprinkler floods condo building in Boston

Moving is never easy. If you were joining the masses moving into Cambridge and Boston this weekend I hope your move went smoothly.

One move went terribly wrong this week. 

The Boston Globe reported that it was a mattress strapped atop a car that broke off a sprinkler head in the garage of the Metropolitan condo building at 1 Nassau Street in Boston.  The fire protection system then pushed additional water through the system, eventually causing a sprinkler to burst on the 23rd floor of the high rise. Water flowed through a number of floors, damaging multiple condos.  Ouch!

The Metropolitan was built in 2004.  Penthouse condos in the building sold for $1M+.

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Houses by Julia Baum Photography – Website Wednesday

In Cambridge, our matching houses are often triple deckers

In Cambridge, our matching houses are often triple deckers

This portfolio, Houses, by photographer Julia Baum documents the wonderfully varied appearances of tract houses in a Santa Clara California development.  The houses were initially quite similar when built in the 1950s but now are showcases for their owners’ personal, sometimes quirky, choices.    It’s great fun to scroll through Baum’s 13 images.

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Scotty Dog Cutout Shutters

Scotty Dog Cutout Shutters

Scotty Dog Cutout Shutters

Heart be still – these have to be the best cutout shutters I ever did see!  I spotted them this afternoon on a colonial in Melrose.

Cut-out shutters do something to me – they produce that internal “click” that makes any house instantly appealing. Cutout shutters come in all sorts of varieties – diamonds, initials, squirrels, shamrocks, etc.

But scotty dogs?  Never did see these before.  Scotty dog cutout shutters are a twofer for me. This house isn’t for sale but if it were I’d be in line.

I’m a cat person but years ago on ebay I discovered the enormous popularity of scotty dogs and scotty dog ephemera.  Though I’ll never have a real live scotty dog my house now has its share of scotty dog collectibles – I’ve got drinking glasses, vintage cards, framed mottos, books and more adorned with these endearing little black dogs.

Here’s more info about cutout shutters in an earlier House Parts post I wrote.  Sadly, the squirrel shutters pictured on the Cambridge house have since been removed.

And here’s the charming Melrose colonial adorned with scotty dog cutout shutters.

Melrose house with scotty dog shutters

Melrose house with scotty dog shutters

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Camps, Meetups and More Around Boston

WordCamp Boston 2011

WordCamp Boston 2011

I’ve been spending a lot of time at camp lately.

No – not summer camp, or Girl Scout camp, or pitch-a-tent-in-the-woods camping.  As appealing as all of that sounds, these camps have all been held indoors.

I’m not really sure why techies, bloggers and online enthusiasts of all stripes coined the term “camp” to describe these seminars, get-togethers, and conferences (or “unconferences” as these are often called) –  but “camp” it is.  Lately I’ve been to RainCamp, REBarCamp, and just this weekend to WordCamp at BU where more than 500 WordPress bloggers and developers gathered for two days of sessions.

Boston is a hotbed of these annual get togethers.  Don’t want to wait that long for your fix?  There’s also a variety of groups that meet regularly to learn and share about all sorts of web-related topics and endeavors.

Internet Marketing, Web and Blogging Groups Around Boston

If you’re a blogger, an online marketer,  have a website or plan to create one, there are amazing opportunities around Boston to learn from and meet with many who are making a splash online.   Most of these groups are free. When there’s a cost for a program it’s typically very low relative to the value of the get-together. 

Here are some of the meetings and groups in and around Boston – some I’ve been to, some I haven’t.  Be sure to check out Meetup.com for plenty of other groups that may more closely match your interests – from the creative to the super-tech.

The Cambridge SEO Meetup  This long running group meets monthly (usually the first Monday evening of the month) at the Arlington Public Library.  Speakers and discussion about search engine optimization (SEO), affiliate marketing and and social media. Not to be missed.

SEMPO Boston  Local branch of the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO).  If you’re responsible for your own SEO efforts or your company’s these meetings and presentations will be valuable in your efforts.

Boston Internet Marketing Meetup  Meets in Boston and Cambridge. Meetups include presentations, Q & A, and networking on topics that include websites, social media, SEO, video and more.

Boston WordPress Meetup  Meets on the last Monday evening of the month, usually at Microsoft, overlooking the Charles River in Cambridge. If you’re a WordPress blogger or developer this popular meetup is a must.

Boston Media Makers Meets the first Sunday of each month at Doyle’s in J.P.  With a focus on audio and video on the web, the group’s members include videobloggers, filmmakers, writers, social media enthusiasts and more.

Camps Coming to Boston

Podcamp Boston is scheduled for September 24-25, 2011 at the Microsoft N.E.R.D Center in Cambridge on Memorial Drive.  Podcamp Boston will have sessions on podcasting, blogging, video blogging, social media and more.

Tech Day Camp will be held in Quincy on October 22, 2011.  Tech topics of all sorts will be explored: Facebook, the Ipad, video, computer basics, self-publishing, Twitter, and lots more. No matter your skill level you’ll find something of interest here.

If you know of other upcoming or ongoing opportunities near Boston be sure to leave the info in a comment.

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Cambridge Pod Patrol

Join the Cambridge Pod Patrol - Pick Pods!

Join the Cambridge Pod Patrol - Pick Pods!

Black swallow-wort is flourishing in Cambridge and nearby cities and towns  so the Cambridge Pod Patrol will be hitting the streets and city green spaces.

The Cambridge Pod Patrol is a volunteer endeavor organized to spread the word about this highly invasive vine-like plant and to enlist residents’ help in stemming its spread throughout the city.

Black swallow-wort is a danger for birds and butterflies and its aggressive growth forces out native vegetation or garden plants.

Once you know what it looks like you’ll likely spot black swallow-wort all over the city.  It covers chain link fences, it grows in gardens and winds its way around other plants, it’s likely to sprout up anywhere there’s a bit of dirt.  It’s most distinctive features are green, shiny leaves in opposing pairs and, at this time of year, smooth greed pods that look like a cross between a milk weed pod and a peapod.

What can you do about black swallowwort when you see it? 

Pick pods!  Carry a bag with you when you’re out on a walk and pick all the pods you can find.  Tightly wrap the bag and dispose of it in the trash – not in a compost bin or with yard waste. 

And let your neighbors know about black swallow-wort in the neighborhood.  Here’s the Cambridge Pod Patrol flyer with more info and pictures of Black Swallow-wort.

Estimates suggest that a thick stand of black swallow-wort will produce 2,000 seeds per square yard.  Pods left on a dead vine will still open and send out seeds.

Unfortunately, black swallow-wort has made inroads at Fresh Pond Reservation.  This Sunday, July 10th, the Cambridge Pod Patrol will hold it’s debut event at Fresh Pond Reservation.  Come join the battle against Black Swallow-wort and help pick pods.  There’ll be information and refreshments for pod pickers.

The Cambridge Pod Patrol kickoff is scheduled for Sunday, July 10, 2011 from 1 to 4 pm at Fresh Pond Reservation.  Volunteers can meet in the Water Department parking lot and will head out around Fresh Pond to pick pods.

Black Swallow-wort – Help Spread the Word – Not the Seed!

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Rental Scams – If It’s It To Good To Be True

Beware of Rental Scams

Beware of Rental Scams

The Boston Globe reported recently about the Cambridge Police Department’s warning about rental scams on websites like CraigsList and Zillow.  I’ve received calls myself from people asking for info or advice after becoming suspicious about a to good to be true rental.

It’s the height of the rental season right now in Cambridge and the Cambridge police have noticed a corresponding uptick in reports of rental scams.  Scammers advertise apartments online that they have no real connection with – often using photographs they find on real estate websites.  Typically the ads promise rents that are well below market rents in Cambridge.

The prospective tenant is encouraged to send the supposed subletting tenant or landlord money – by check or wire.  When the unsuspecting tenant arrives in Cambridge they discover there’s no apartment for rent and their money is gone.

What’s an apartment hunter to do – especially when trying to find a Cambridge apartment from afar?

Probably your best bet is to enlist the help of a Cambridge rental agent.  He or she will be able to match your needs and wish list to the best available rentals.  Renting an apartment when you’re not here to look for one is not easy – getting an experienced agent to help you will make your search much easier.

But if you’re winging it and hoping to secure a rental on your own do keep in mind that if it sounds too good to be true – it is.  Landlords or tenants subletting their apartment do NOT offer absurdly low rents out of the goodness of their hearts (ok – maybe somewhere out there there are some rentals where altruism rules – but better to assume that’s not the case).

Here’s a rough idea of what realistic – i.e. real – rents are like in Cambridge:

It’s difficult to find an apartment – any apartment – for less than $1200 per month in Cambridge. If you’re close to the T, in one of the popular squares like Porter Square, Harvard Square, or Central Square, then $1200 is going to get you a basement apartment – probably a studio or one-bedroom apartment – at best.  Typically, Cambridge two-bedroom apartments rent for $1500 and up with higher rents closer to the T and to the squares.  Again – if the ad says the apartment is close to Harvard Square you can expect to pay top dollar. There are no bargain apartments near Harvard – or if one pops up, it will last a day before it’s rented.  The landlord will not need to jump through hoops with checks in the mail, wire transfers, etc.  He’ll have would-be tenants waving applications at him right off the bat.

So – remember – if it sounds too good to be true – DO NOT SEND MONEY!

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Wednesday What’s It Winners

We’ve got winners!   Here’s the reveal for the inaugural Wednesday What’s It post:

The original photo:

Do you know what this is?

Do you know what this is?

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the reveal:

 

Harvard Lampoon Building

Harvard Lampoon Building

Yes, it’s the ornament atop the Harvard Lampoon building in Harvard Square.  The bird atop the ornament would have been a giveaway for many – and, no, the bird’s not a crane, it’s not a stork – it’s the Harvard Lampoon ibis.

The Lampoon Castle was built in 1909 at 44 Bow Street.

We’ll have another Wednesday What’s It next week.

Prizes are in the mail to the first three readers who correctly identified the Lampoon building – Laurie, Mark and John.  Congratulations!

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