Turning the S.F. Bay Bridge Into a Park

I read today about a fascinating proposal to turn a span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge into a park.

The aged Eastern Span of the bridge is scheduled to be replaced in 2013 with a new span, engineered to better withstand The Big One. Rather than demolishing the retired span, one group is advocating that it be turned into a park with tennis courts, walking trails, and a futuristic collection of pods strapped to the underside of the bridge, for who knows what kind of  mischief and shenanigans. Either high-priced loft condos or homeless encampments, I presume.


Turn it into a park. Futurist architects have proposed turning the retired Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge into a park when it gets replaced in 2013.


Only in San Francisco. There's plenty of space for tennis, sun bathing, and shopping-cart clad homeless encampments 🙂

See more of the above photos on The New Bay Bridge, a Web site hosted by a group of j-students at UC Berkeley complete with videos, drawings, and interactive timeline. Photo and idea credits here.

Another bridge bites the dust
The 80-year-old bridge, which connects San Francisco with the East Bay via Treasure Island, was closed this week after a section of the recently repaired span busted apart. Engineers (via Popular Mechanics) blame it on Harmonics, the same culprit that took down the famous bridge in Tacoma, Wash. (If you didn’t watch the Tacoma Bridge collapse in your high school physics class, watch it collapse via YouTube)

Fall is for Yankees

Fall in Connecticut

A calm Fall morning on the Housatonic in Western Connecticut. Click the image to enlarge.

The 2009 New York Yankees are heading to the world series, again. I’m no sports fan. But I think I know why the Yankees always seem to prevail in the month of October.

Because Fall is For Yankees! In weather and in baseball, things seem to go in the favor of New Englanders this time of year. Even sunny California and its Angels can’t touch us.

For most months of the year New England is either too cold or too muggy. But for this short stretch of the calendar, we Yankees celebrate the most glorious season there is. See photo above taken this week on a morning walk to our local river beach on the mighty Housatonic.

Weekndr Project: Front Door Cedar Awning

The newest DIY addition to the Weekndr abode. A cedar awning over front door.

The newest DIY addition to the Weekndr abode. A cedar awning over front door.

Mostly to keep the rain and snow from piling up in front of the front door, I got to work this past weekend building a wood awning over the entry to the house. It’s constructed entirely of cedar purchased at my local home center. The support brackets and header beam are 4×4 cedar posts. The roof rafters are cedar 2x4s. And it is roofed with cedar shake over cedar fir strips.

awning-joinery-2The design is pretty simple. It is based on a few photos I found in magazines and it employs some psuedo-timber-frame joinery . As you can see in the detail photos, all of the parts connect with either half-lap joints or some sort of modified mortise and tenon.

In addition to the mechanical joinery, I drove 4-1/2-in. lag bolts through all of the joints for reinforcement. With some planing, I was able to hide all the bolt heads from view.

I’m hoping to apply a mahogany stain this weekend to finish it off.

The support posts, the header, and the roof rafters all join with half-lap or psuedo mortise and tenon joinery.

The support posts, the header, and the roof rafters all join with half-lap joints or psuedo mortise and tenon joinery. They're reinforced with lag bolts.

Bitchin’ New Camera from B&H

A ghostly image. Experimenting with f-stops on our new Canon Rebel T1i.

A ghostly image. Experimenting with f-stops on our new Canon Rebel T1i.

The above photo was taken while trying out the new gift-to-self last night. We were without digital camera for nearly two months, and I’ve been wavering as to what to buy. So I finally went for it and invested in Canon Rebel T1i, a digital SLR (single-lens reflex) that also shoots HD-quality video.

If you’re willing to lug around a big camera with a big lens and suffer the fate of looking like a complete tourist, you can pick up a DSLR for less than $700. And if you can master your F-Stops Shutter Speeds, the photo quality is worth the price.

The Amazing B&H Photo and Video

01-bh-canonI bought this one used from the most awesome photo store in the world: B&H Photo and Video in New York City.

The place is packed with every model camera and accessory known to man. And it features one of the most amazing shopping experiences I’ve ever been in. The store displays all of its inventory as floor samples that you can interact with. When you’re ready to buy something, you shuffle into a line (much like going to your local deli during the lunch rush) and wait for your turn to meet with a salesman.

Now here’s where I should mention that the place is owned and operated exclusively by Hassidic Jews. All the employees sport long beards and sideburns and are dressed just as you would expect from a Hassidic Jew. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just good to know when you’re trying to order something from their Web site and discover they don’t do business on Jewish Holidays.

After writting down your order, the salesman (notice I said man) picks out your merchandise from behind the counter, drops it into a plastic bin, and then sends it off on a conveyor belt to the front of the store, where you’ll meet up with it next on your way out. The saelesman gves you a sales slip, which you pay for at another part of the store. There you do business with a cashier who is sitting in a bank of narrow stall only big enough to hold a cash register and a skinny Hassidic Jew. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

If you’re a fan of photography, videography, Hassidic Jews, or awesome shopping experiences, I suggest you visit B&H Photo next time you’re in New York City.

Roku+Netflix+DVD+VCR=Weekndr Home Entertainment System

I’m a certified gadget nut. That was confirmed this week when I placed an order for a Roku set top box. The $99 device, which is about the size of a hardback John Brown novel, streams internet television and movies on demand by way of our monthly Netflix subscription. The Roku is also hooked up with Amazon’s digital movie rental service. Good to know if we’re ever Jonesing for a new release.


The addition Roku means that our cobbled-together home entertainment system spans 30 years of technological innovation, from the trusty Video Cassette Recorder (aka VCR) to this futuristic Wi-Fi enabled digital video device.

The Stack
To record this moment in history, I’ve decided to offer a close-up look at the Weekndr Home Entertainment System.

29-in. Flat-Panel television: We have a small house, so four years ago I became an early adopter and picked up an Apex LCD television from Circuit City (may she rest in peace) so we save space and enjoy a better-quality picture. As an added bonus, I hung it on the wall with a bi-fold bracket. Apex is an obscure brand, but I opted for affordability over name brand. It’s lasted so far, plus, they’re all made in the same factory anyway.

vcrVCR: We keep one of these around to play old Barney and Walt Disney classics for the kids. I refuse to buy them again in a new format, so instead I hunted down what seemed like the only VCR in the Tri-State area on our local Goodwill store.

DVD: Did you know you can pick up a perfectly acceptable Sony DVD player from Best Buy for $41? I just did; to replace the perfectly broken DVD player we bought two years ago from Kmart.

Roku: A Wi-Fi enabled set-top box that streams digital video over the Internet. We got this mostly for its access to our Instant Queue on Netflix’, which is fully loaded with kids shows (Inspector Gadget, Dora, Calliou, Care Bears), as well as favorites for mom and dad. Finally, we can flop on the couch instead of sitting down in front of the computer.

Basic Cable: The cable companies don’t even tell you about this option, which provies major network television from New York and Hartford, public television, QVC, and CSPAN, for just $15 per month. We get The Daily Show on Hulu, and we make due without FoodNetwork. Who needs cable?

High-speed Internet: We receive our high-speed connection through our cable. I’ve always preferred this over DSL.

netflix-3Netflix: We get this mostly for the on-demand service. No matter how hard I try, I can never remember to mail back the DVD envelopes.

I’ve been experimenting with video on demand through the Internet since it was first attempted long around 2001. There lived a startup called MovieLink. For the price of a Blockbuster movie rental (and sometimes less), MovieLink let you download movies and television shows from a modest library. You could hold on to your rental for up to 30 days. The minute you pressed “play” the rental would expire within 24 hours.

MovieLink suffered from a few setbacks initially. You needed a lot of bandwidth, and most people just didn’t have enough of it. Even with DSL it took about 20 minutes before you could begin watching your movie. The movie selection was weak and mostly dominated by random b-grade flix. And it didn’t run on a Mac.

A few years ago Netflix acquired MovieLink and immediately began improving things. It’s available for Mac, the inventory is getting bigger and better, and there are no viewing restrictions.

The future of television is here, friends. But so is the past.

6th Wedding-Anniversary Gift: A Bed Made of Wood

The Morris Bed: An Arts and Crafts style bed  made from quartersawn white oak.

The Morris Bed: An Arts and Crafts style bed made from quartersawn white oak.

As it turns out the modern gift symbol for a 6th wedding anniversary is wood, according to the all-knowing about.com. That’s an auspicious sign for Mrs. Weekndr and I who celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary today, and recently began celebrating the completion of my bed project (picture above)

The tradition of giving gifts based on symbols dates back to the middle ages, even before Hallmark was established. These symbols range from paper (1st wedding anniversary) to a 10k diamond (100th anniversary). I’d say anyone who stays married for 100 years deserves at least a 10k diamond.

According to this ancient tradition, iron and sugar represent the 6th year of marriage. To satisfy those requirements we’ll be feasting on iron-rich red meat and sugary desserts for dinner tonight.

But sometime in the 20th century wood was suggested as a modern gift alternative. Lucky for us, I just so happened to have completed this Arts and Crafts style bed made of quartersawn white oak. I hadn’t planned this convenient coincidence, but I’ll take it.

Happy anniversary Mrs. Weekndr!

Love, Mr. Weekndr