Year end 2023 and start of 2024

So it got a bit busy as I look back through my recent photos. I also finally figured out how to synchronize my Windows PC with my iCloud iPhone photos (easy but you have to look it up via Google search because you need some helper apps…). So this post has some photos from prior updates that didn’t actually make it into prior updates (or even if they did – I liked them and so what if a double posting!)

Reaching back to Old Home Day in Carlisle of 2023 – a neat winter scene of Carlisle center – which looks almost like it does today on February 2nd – grin. Also a photo of my Dad’s entry – a Blue Heron observed in the pond and printed on metal

Carlisle Old Home Day art show July 2023
Carlisle Old Home Day art show July 2023. Tim Fohl photo entry of a Blue Heron. Photo on metal print

In late summer, the MBTA in Boston put in system wide slowdowns due to widespread accumulated track damage that was leading to a number of derailments. Poor management led to mass overhaul of who runs the MBTA and the new head seems pretty with it – instead of trying to fix everything via an hour or two in the middle of the night, they have put into place a measured plan over the next two years to close off sections of various lines for 2-3 weeks and then work 24 x 7 on that section and properly fix everything. Good plan and it should work – but the Red Line that I use to get into our Boston office is sooooo slowwww now. I decided to instead drive all the way in to our Everett office (where a big batch of my team works as well). So in August, I decided to actually take lunch and took a walk to the Boston Public gardens – since I may not have an easy opportunity in the future. Its really pretty neat – VERY hot day so not the best of ideas – Haha

The world famous Swan Boats – peddled by college students

Some photos of my trip, meeting up with my old College roommates in September of 2023 – we took a day trip to Occidental – a small town in the woods near Jenner on the Sonoma coast. Neat little town, cool Redwood park near by. I especially liked the local map, painted as a mural on the side of one of the shops. Very reminiscent of Nantucket (which I am going to visit with Tom McGillvray in March 🙂 )

On my way up to the Sonoma coast, I did stop in San Francisco and took a day to walk from Downtown, to the Golden Gate bridge and back (about 8 miles). It was one of the 5 days a year that it is truly hot and windless in San Francisco – so lots of sweat and actual blisters from the sidewalk heat – something like 97 degree air temp!

Palace of Fine Arts on the edge of the Presidio

Vertical rotor windmill demonstration on the Presidio at Chrissy Field. Half of them have been disassembled, presumably for maintenance – but I attached a graphic of the various types that are normally running in the high winds common along The Slot (the area between Alcatraz and the Bridge)

Vertical rotors

In December I went to New York City to help with some planning sessions as the Bank is embarking on a journey to remake how it operates – trying to operate more like a software company in day to day function, in order to get more efficient and operate faster. Personally I think it is good plan and we are working hard at making it happen. Our CEO notes that company culture eats strategy for breakfast – so he is really focused on getting everyone lined up. A multi-year plan but it feels like we have a good start.

Anyway – I was staying near the 9/11 memorial and I took some shots at sunrise of the horse statue commemorating the Special Forces soldiers who worked in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11. Wikipedia article on this bronze statue here. In person it is really neat – hard to photography and kind of an out of the way location – but still cool.

Also in December, I managed to get the coal forge lit and working. I started pounding on some metal, hopefully what will become some sculpture for the 2024 Old Home Day art show. I am using some old scrap wrought iron – a 2 inch square wagon axle. The coat we have is not very good and man is it a lot of work to get a hot fire going. 90 minutes of sweating to make a hot enough fire doesn’t leave a lot of energy for heavy pounding – so I am thinking I will need to refurbish the gas stove or do something, otherwise I won’t get anything done at this rate – lol

good fun though!

finally a full fire going

Rolling into January of 2024 – I got inspired from talking with Eric Bonzell and Eric Moeller about camping and I have been thinking for a while that the two Subaru station wagons we have in Carlisle sometimes are too small – so I decided to do something about it. Specifically, I decided to pull a trigger on an idea I had since the middle 1980’s when we spent a lot of time offroading in Anza Borrego and other desert locations east of UC San Diego. Specifically getting a Chevy Suburban and set it up as a work truck and camper/overlander rig. The idea being that the Suburban is fully enclosed, with the 2nd and 3rd row of seats out, has the same cargo space as a long bed pickup AND there is a second set of doors so you can get to things instead of crawling around. I did some internet digging and stumbled onto a small family business in Twin Falls, ID called Suboverland. They find older Suburbans, refurbish them and set them up for camping. I got in touch with them and had them source locally a 1999 GMC Suburban in great shape, refresh it (driveline maintenance, shocks, spark plugs etc…). They also put on a 12,000 pound winch, took out the 2nd and 3rd row of seats, put in a Pioneer media system with a backup camera, a 2,000 watt/hour battery system and a Dometic electric refrigerator. A 1 inch suspension lift, new All Terrain tires and a new limited slip differential in the rear. All up it was about $18,000. I picked it up the second week of January in Idaho and drove it to Massachusetts, dodging two really major blizzards in the Plains and got to visit with my Sister in Law Tenley and her husband Dan (and finally see her house in Galesburg IL – grin).

I started calling the Albino Caterpillar since it just kind of burbles its way along on the highway – super soft and comfortable. That is perfect, because the idea is that 99% of the time it will be a hobby work truck and occasional overlanding camping rig where I zoom cross country to meet up with the old roomates and camp around Yellowstone etc…

Since getting it home safe and sound, my Dad and I have already hauled some Black Walnut logs – haha. Next things on the docket are we are getting it setup to haul around his 3 wheel recumbent bicycle that just doesn’t quite fit in their Subaru Forrester. We got a light duty ATV electric winch from Warn (over kill a 1/2 done weight rating – but it was the smallest that came in a good form factor and had a remote operation controller). Plan is a plywood ramp and my Dad can winch the bike in and out on his own – so he can go riding midweek while I am at work (and he can keep the ‘Burb running and active). The winch has arrived and we took measurements last night – next up is some wood and do some engineering. Good fun and I will save that for the next update.

Hope anyone who is reading this is having a good winter!

Here is a Youtube video made by Suboverland (I HIGHLY recommend them) of my truck.

Suboverland showing off my truck. The Albino Caterpillar!

The cargo area of the Suburban – 2nd and 3rd row of seats permanently removed

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blogging is a habit – one I am going to try and re-acquire

I realized this morning it has been more than a year since my last post. I am going to try and be and do more writing here.

So – this morning it is crystal blue sky and the first day where we have had two hard frosts in a row. There is actually ice (not a ton – but maybe 15%) coverage on the pond this morning at sunrise. No clouds at night = radiant cooling.

The year has slipped past a bit – a lot of the same old, same old. A work, we keep doing the same system conversion over and over again, grinding our way through the subsidiaries needing to flip over to our new securities trading platform (BlackRock’s Aladdin system). Its challenging and interesting work but when you get to your 5th and 6th conversion, it all sort of turns into a bit of a blur.

This summer was a very wet one here in Massachusetts – as of August 2023, it was the 2nd wettest summer on record and it rained more since then. We actually just broke out of a 6-8 day storm cycle that lasted 9 weeks — which if you are counting along meant we had significant rain every week for a bit more than 2 months. Timing was perfect too – on the weekends 🙁 hahaha

meant a lot of mowing of grass – looking out the window as I type, I might have to mow one more time – shmaybe?

Eric Moeller came out this summer to visit his son Lars and girlfriend (Vic) – we visited together Minuteman National Park and poked around Concord. We ended up in a great conversation at Old North Bridge visitors center. Someone commented on the British Redcoat uniform and part of it – the leather collar insert – that apparently was not popular with the troops (it was designed to help against a calvary sabre slash). This led to a 45 minute freewheeling conversation with a retired US Army Amor officer who was there as a visitor and how troops were trained then and now and how forcing people to wear their uniforms properly is an age old problem. One thing I learned there, that I had never known, was that the British troops were from all different commands and units and had been thrown together hastily as they came to Boston. So while relatively well trained individually, they had not trained together or under their current officers. When formed up into formation at the Old North Bridge, apparently the officer in command ordered a two-by-two formation. Two solders stand near each other and then there is a gap on either side to the next two. Behind them is another two in column etc… The goal of this is that column of two acts like a conveyor belt – as the two in front volley their guns, one peels of to the right and one peels off to the left and then go to back of the column. Well apparently most of the men did not know what this formation was, and when the front soldiers peeled off, the others thought this was a retreat and they followed. This confusion was explained in a journal of one of the sergeants if I recall the conversation properly. Anyway – it was an absolutely fascinating conversation with the Park Ranger, and people in the room at that moment. A treasury of a memory!

Other stuff – I did manage to get a good vacation in this September. I went to San Francisco, Mendocino County and Scotts Valley. San Francisco was to finally get around to closing my Wells Fargo bank account eight years after I left California (there are no WFB branches in Mass.) I also got to have a nice dinner with Marty and Allison, visit some friends from work (Howard and Welton) and then the best of all – got to have dinner with my niece Margaret and her fiancé Matt. You go Matt – you got yourself a good one with Margaret (me, not biased at all – bhahahaha).

Then off to Mendocino and met up with the UCSD crew – our second annual get together and hopefully it will continue to be a thing. Dave Brown is retired now along with Darren and it sounds like Eric Moeller is going to retire next year along with Claire Brown. Us private sector types are in full save as much money as possible mode so we shall see.

Scott’s Valley was VERY fun and relaxing. I got to watch a bit of Fortnite gameplay with my youngest nephew (Owen) – who is very good. Mason was doing well, as usual and just had a relaxing time with family. Grin.

In other news, I have been thinking about 4 wheeling/offroading after discovering a lot of good video on YouTube and I finally pulled the trigger on doing something that I dreamed up while offroading with Eric in the 1980’s – getting a Suburban. I found a company in Idaho that buys old Suburbans, refreshes then and outfits them for offroad camping. Suboverland is their name and they got me a 1999 Suburban and are working on it right now – should be ready next month or so? When it is done, I will fly out to Twin Falls ID, pick it up and drive it back. The general thing that pushed me over the edge is that me and my Dad keep coming up with projects where our Subarus are just a bit too small – something bigger is needed. The Suburban can easily fit an 8′ by 4′ sheet of plywood (or a blacksmith’s anvil) inside. Buying something used is WAY cheaper than new (by about 60-70K dollars !) – so I think it is the way to go for something that is essentially an extra vehicle. Suboverland is outfitting it with all the things I wanted but didn’t do anything about back in the 80’s with my F-150 pickup. A 12,000 lbs winch, a 1.5kw aux battery system, a Dometic fridge and because it is now a thing, a retrofit nav screen/backup camera (since it is a big truck after all and I will be doing a lot of things alone in it).

Anway – how about some photos?

Meghan and Jeff Fohl – Panther Beach, Santa Cruz
Jeff Fohl, Panther Beach Santa Cruz
Panther Beach showing absolutely amazing cliffs – sort of sand, sort of rock – definitely interesting!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

San Diego and catching up with old friends

Darren Bedell – a roommate of mine from UC San Diego – retired from NASA this year and he got a bunch of us from our school days organized for a get together and we all rented a couple of condos in Pacific Beach down on the boardwalk. It was great catching up with everyone – some of us not having seen each other in decades. The Moellers, the Bedells, the Browns, the Bonzells, the Dempseys (with their kids for a day or two), Steve Gee, Papaha Gosline and myself.

Huge thank you shout out to Darren and everyone who collaborated on getting this organized (I contributed essentially zero). The second half of this year has been brutally hard at work so I showed up with my mind ready for a complete shift into neutral with nothing in mind except just being there. Mission absolutely accomplished!

We had a pair of condos in Pacific Beach, one right on the beach with a great shared patio area and the other an alleyway back with a wonderful (but weird entrance through a bedroom) roof deck BBQ area.

The East Coasters (and Diane – hi!) usually got up ahead of the sunrise and drank coffee on the roof as we watched the sun come up. It absolutely did not disappoint – I have picked out a single sample for this post but the full picture drop is on my Shutterfly account if you would like to see more and perhaps download them:

Sunsets were equally awesome – I think we saw the elusive Green Flash four times, which is amazing since I recall only seeing it 7 times during the 4.5 years I was at school. The conditions need to be just right in order to see the green flash – as it comes about from the sun’s rays passing through more of the atmosphere vs your personal perspective and the greater density of air causes refraction and splitting of the light into colors. While I was checking my facts on this, I found this article and apparently, if the conditions are just right (very clear air) you can see a BLUE flash! New life ambition added – haha. Here is the article:

Claire and Dave Brown both work at the UCSD campus and they gave us a tour of ‘the office’ – hope it wasn’t too boring for them! I certainly had a great time. The campus and the surrounds are a LOT more built up than when we were there in the mid 1980’s – but I think the school has done a really, really good job about adding new facilities thoughtfully and well. The new buildings and facilities have improved the place a lot – not just piled stuff on. Good job UCSD!

I had a wonderful time connecting back up with everyone and we definitely need to continue to connect back up. On to the photos!

The view of the beach
A very good condo for a group get together. The Moeller’s, the Dempsey’s, the Bedell’s, Dave Brown and Steve Gee
While much of the Eucalyptus groves are gone now, there still some to be seen. Certainly don’t miss the old Marine Corp Quonset huts – they were neat but they were boiling hot! The new architecture is a lot better
Claire and Dave Brown giving us a tour update of the campus. For them, walking around “the office” was probably a bit boring – but for those of us who only come back to campus occasionally, it was fun (though I almost asphyxiated due to an allergic reaction to some flowers on the new main across campus walkway as we went through Muir. In the group photos someone took, every picture I have a water bottle in front of my face as I gulped water – lol)
Sunrises every morning for us East Coast types – great time to have coffee and watch the world turn on its axis and a new day start
Classic San Diego sunsets pretty much everyday. We saw the Green Flash 4 days in a row if I recall. Its pretty rare in that you need zero clouds out at the horizon so that the refraction of the last sunlight through the atmosphere can get through and color shift to green. My iPhone wasn’t up to the task of capturing it in a still photo for sure!
Frisbee on the Beach in PB !
Left to right: Eric Bonzell, Darren Bedell, Heidi Bedell, Eric Moeller and Steve Gee

And also – here is a link to a short video on my Youtube channel (which is an assortment of VERY random video) – it was assembled automagically by Windows as I downloaded the photos and I liked it – so I posted it – haha

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

General catchup post – 2022!

This is a general catchup post – its been a busy year for work, and with Covid, I haven’t been doing a ton of interesting things. But me and my friends from College did get together in September and I promised myself to do a bit better with posting updates than I have been previously.

I am going to save the San Diego trip for a complete and separate post. This one will be a bit of a bookend miscellanea.

First off – in July, Claire and Dave Brown came out to Boston and we had the opportunity to hang out for a whole weekend. Awesome. Claire was out for the week attending a work conference and Dave came in for the last few days for some vacation activity. On Saturday we met up and took a tour of Fenway Park, which was super interesting. Fun tour guide. Very, very hot and humid however! Followed up with some random wandering around Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (which has changed a bit from pre-Covid. I suspect they had a hard time with no tourists for the past few years – but they seem to be doing better).

On Sunday we went and visited the Revolutionary War battlefield sights which are about 5 miles from my house. First off, we visited the Old North Bridge and then the Old Manse. At the Old Manse we took the hour tour and man was it good – so good! really recommend it

pulling from their website:

To visit the Old Manse—a handsome Georgian clapboard built on the banks of the Concord River in 1770—is to re-experience pivotal moments in our nation’s early history. Constructed for patriot minister William Emerson, the upstairs overlooks North Bridge, where the famous battle of April 19, 1775, took place. Later, some of New England’s most esteemed minds found inspiration inside its walls. In the 19th century, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne both called the Manse home for a time: Emerson drafted his influential essay “Nature” in an upstairs study. Meanwhile, Hawthorne and his wife, Sophia, started their married life here; the recreated heirloom vegetable garden was originally planted by Henry David Thoreau in honor of the Hawthornes’ wedding.

Claire and Dave Brown, visiting the Minute Man National Park with the Old North Bridge in the background. A great day

Because I am a moron, I neglected to take any photos of the Old Manse itself – but you can go to their website above to learn more about it.

We then went to the Colonial Inn in the center of Concord (about a mile) for lunch. Love that place and the air conditioning was much needed – haha

After a good lunch, we went over to the Park Headquarter on Battle Road (the road back to Boston, where the Colonials put the Regulars / Red Coats under heavy fire all day as they marched back to Boston). The headquarters had a very, very interesting multimedia movie that set the stage strongly for the Ranger led tour we also signed up for. That was super interesting as it was mostly focused on recent archeological research they have been doing

Specifically, they have been researching the site of “Parker’s Revenge”

Parker was the head of the Lexington Militia and it was his men who participated in the battle of Lexington Green that was the first battle of the Revolution. The men of Lexington did not fair well in that initial meeting and after re-gathering, they met the British Regulars on their way back to Boston. The location of that meeting has been debated as it is extremely lightly documented at the time. Just that it happened. See the link above for the archeology and the story. One of the things we all found interesting was that Park Ranger pointed out to everyone that the land is very different now than it was during the 1770’s. Currently everything is very heavily wooded – but that wasn’t the case in 1775. Most of the land was opened up for farming and grazing for economic purposes – and also wood being used for cooking and heating! This matches up with my own experiences in terms of how much the woods have filled in during my own lifetime. When I was young, the oldest farmers were just dying out and the area was moving towards commuter / bedroom communities and the fields were filling in. The Ranger pointed this out and how it impacted their archeology attempts once people wised up to that.

Finally we ended the day by visiting the Hartwell Tavern on the Battle Road and the virtual tour:

This was actually super neat. It was the end of the day, about 4:30pm and very quiet. We walked up the wooded lane towards the Tavern and as we got closer, we could hear someone playing the fiddle – solo. It turned out to be one of the Park re-enactors who was bored because there was nobody around – so he was playing a jaunty tune. It felt very much like a step back in time – much less people around than normal, no modern world noise and you walk up a wooded dirt lane to a lone Tavern on the hill and there is music and fun coming from it as you get closer. We had a good time talking with the him and he was glad to have us as the last visitors of the day.

Overall – a super good weekend!

Hartwell Tavern in Minuteman National Park – along the Battle Road. Photo from

see this link to my other visit a few years ago to the Tavern:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2021 is in the rear view mirror

Hello all – a bit of a lag updating here. All the standard craziness of year end and I also updated my computer (the old desktop was maybe 8 years old and starting to have problems that were indicative of a motherboard failure). Anyway – what has been going on in Carlisle?

First off it was a wet and mild fall – not much different than the whole summer (57 inches of rain – not quite a record apparently, but it felt plenty wet!). This allowed a pretty good year end clean up of my property and of my parent’s place (mowing, tree clearing etc…)

The Carlisle Conservation Foundation has also been doing clearing work bittersweet vines etc… in the Benfield property on South Street. I got some nice photos in November on a very foggy morning – below

Moving on towards Christmas, it was especially memorable because my one of my college roomates (Darren Bedell) was doing his last launch as a senior engineer at NASA on Christmas Day down in Ariane Space / European Launch facility in French Guiana of the new James Webb space telescope

We have a text/SMS chat group that runs erratically and Darren was kind enough to loop us in the night before and actually during the launch. He was in the main control room with the Launch Director. Darren has well over a 100+ launches under his belt during his 30+ years at NASA and here in 2022 he is going to be retiring – so this was his swan song launch. So very cool to, even in a small way, participate. The launch went of on time and picture perfect. According to subsequent tracking, the launch was so on target, there has been the need for less mid trajectory course corrections and they have therefore been able to save fuel – fuel that can be banked and used to help keep the telescope on station longer. This should extend the operational lifetime of the telescope out to 10 years or beyond. Great stuff!

The full multi-hour launch video is preserved on YouTube if you want to see it here.

Here is a picture Darren sent from the launch facility – Darren is in the light colored shirt on the left

Below are some screenshots that I pulled from the YouTube Livestream after the launch – at this point in the stream, the telescope payload had finished its launch and boosting activities and had separated from the launch stages – so while a LOT of work still be to done to get it operational (still ongoing as I write this on January 9th) – the Launch team’s work was all done and all smiles!

Darren is on the left in the light blue shirt. Way to Go Darren. Way to Go Webb. Way to go NASA. Way to go ESA and Ariane Space !!!

Thumbs up!

hmmm – I didn’t think I had that much to talk about but apparently I am not finished yet!

My Dad and I are working on an improvement to the coal forge – a force air evacuation hood to pull the coal smoke away. Got most of the piece parts purchased and some of the layout done. Not on any particular schedule – just plugging away 🙂

hope everyone reading this is doing well – safe, healthy in these Covid times and relatively sane

Blower, stove pipe connections and layout on sheet steel
a snowy forge!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Indian Summer in Carlisle – 2021 edition

Mid-October and cool evenings/mornings but very, very nice days with a fair amount of humidity. Feels a bit odd to tell the truth. The trees around us are kind of all over the place. Some of the maples are almost completely nude having dropped all their leaves while other trees haven’t even started turning colors. I did notice however yesterday (Saturday 10/16) while driving over to my house from my parent’s place that large long windrows of pine needles are all down and lining the roads. Definitely fall is coming – but still having to mow like crazy – so much rain!

However all over it feels and smells like harvest. I was trading some emails with my friends Allison and Marty from San Francisco and they have some property with vineyard vines up in Napa – they sent me some photos – totally awesome!

This summer has been pretty fun despite Covid – I have managed to actually get out for a walk most days that were not raining during lunch and with all the rain, I found some really neat mushrooms growing alongside the road. See below. Also, took some neighborhood shots. Spring Hill farm and across the street Fox Run (on Pope road in Acton). Also a shot of Bates/Kimball’s Pond which is downstream on Pages Brook at my house – just poking around 🙂

Spring Hill Farm on Pope Road and Spring Hill (naturally enough – situated on a spring)
Across the street, Fox Run
Kimball’s pond (us old timers call it Bates pond since Herb Bates built it in the early 20th century. It is downstream from my house on Pages Brook and is a favorite skating spot (weather permitting) for kids in town

Pictures from the top of my parent’s driveway – Kevin Brown was down from Maine to cut the upper fields with his really big Kabota tractor (you can kind of see his truck and trailer). Also, the Carmichaels have really done a nice gardening job across the street (the old Koford house)

neat mushrooms

Also – in traditional fall work, I got my DR brush cutter walk behind finally working after battery and crank case oil issues all summer. I cut down a LOT of dead invasive plants that my plant control service team killed (part of my permanent order of conditions from the Conservation Commission is to have an invasive plant management plan – I am fulfilling that by having a team do work each year and man do they do a good job! Lueders for the win!

Long day (about 7 hours of mowing all in at my house and my parent’s house) – lots of dodging of rocks and hoisting heavy equipment around but the brush hog actually did a good job of not only cutting things down but mulching them up too.

more before pictures

After lots of cutting of dead stuff
After lots of cutting of dead stuff

Finally – I thought I would share a bit of small town stuff with anyone who is still reading?

I went over yesterday to Vanderhoofs Hardware in downtown Concord to pick up some electric socket ground testers because I had some circuits tripped (we surmise due to surges from a blown transformer in town last month). I had a really interesting talk with Scott Vanderhoof – he is the 4th generation owner of Vanderhoof’s hardware and his family owns one of the iconic buildings on Main Street in Concord. There is an alley entrance to the back parking lot from Main Street and it was blocked off with cones – because the siding was off the building and being replaced. As I was walking up the alley, I ran into Scott who was in the midst of recovering the antique corners to the window frames – he was replacing the windows with new but he has a lot of customers come in for that type of window framing materials and they are not made any more. We got to talking about the building – under the siding, the framing boards are original and they are 12-16″ wide and 1.5″ thick oak boards. He was telling me the 3rd floor hasn’t really been touched since the 1800’s and the floor is a mishmash of different widths of maple – he thinks it was scrap maple from other projects because the 3rd floor used to be the union hall for the Carpenter’s Union (and the Plumbers Union). Apparently that section of the street used to be called Union Block due to the guild halls up in the upper stories of the buildings – neat!

I also had the opportunity to tell him how very, very much we have been enjoying his book about the history of his store and his family. His daughters are nurses and don’t have an interest in the store – but his nephew (also a Vanderhoof), after a stint as a corporate accounting person, has come back and loves it and they are planning on him continuing on as a 5th generation owner. Super interesting book and its available on Amazon (also – Nancy Shohet West – our neighbor on South Street (the old Diment place) wrote it with him. Her parent’s live next to me over at my own house – super local

Vanderhoof Hardware Company: The Story of My Family, Our Business, and More Than a Century on Main Street
As told to Nancy Shohet West (author)

“For over one hundred years, the Vanderhoof family has operated a bustling hardware store on Main Street in Concord, Massachusetts. As he himself approaches fifty years in the business, owner Scott Vanderhoof reflects upon the legacy that dates back to his great-grandfather and how five generations of Vanderhoofs have provided excellent service to the greater Concord community, proving that in the right circumstances, a well-run family business can indeed thrive in today’s retail climate.”

From the back cover – an old family photograph and the current generation recreating it. Awesome fun stories and a great place. I highly recommend it 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hot and Humid September

I had some work events wrap up on September 1st so I was able to take the week after the Labor Day holiday off and it was a lot of outdoors yard work kind of stuff. Good fun – but really, really hot and humid all month so far. A couple of days ago, Hanscom Field weather station was recording 100% humidity. Just a bit more and you need a snorkel out there!

Harvest season is here though – when you go outside, you can smell the wild grapes ripening on the vines – wonderful!

Some stuff I was able to do the past couple of weeks – I got the anvil in my Dad’s blacksmith shop moved around using the chain hoist (it was at a really awkward angle in relation to the coal forge). I also took out my axe and took down a couple of trees and I have been working with the Carlisle Conservation Commission on permission to take out 2 dead trees near my house and two junk trees overhanging the roof – I have it mostly lined up and then will have some folks with a bucket truck come in and take care of things

Upcoming is working more on the forge – my Dad and I are going to build an exhaust hood to try and deal with the smoke better (right now it tends to blow in your face a lot!). We went to Vanderhoofs hardware and got stove pipe and also the electrical fittings for an exhaust fan I had previously purchased and we got that wired up as well. I am just waiting right now for an adapter to arrive – a part that will mate the 6″ round stove pipe to flat sheet metal as Scott Vanderhoof didn’t have anything in stock.

One side note, Nancy Shohet West and Scott Vanderhoof have published a book about the family store – it is super interesting and the story of a long held family store in a small town. I recommend it!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hot August and Tropical Storm Henri

Good morning – I am glad to see that posts are working again – yay!!. I am not sure why the email notification of a post is not happening but will look at that in the future.

What’s going on this week? Well, as you would expect, August in Massachusetts is hot and HUMID! yesterday we were at 78% humidity and it was really hot. It was so humid that dew in the morning was still on the grass at 5 pm unless it had been in direct sunlight for a looong period of time. My Dad and I both remarked on that while we were doing stuff around the shop in the late afternoon (Saturday).

I did some mowing over at my house and I have taken to mowing along the driveway and around the back to keep things tidy, but around the front of the house, due to the sandy nature of the soil and the ledge rock close under the surface, the grass tends to be thinner and there are a lot more wild flowers. So I am mowing that less and enjoying the flowers. Speaking of which, this year with all the rain we have gotten (July was about 13″ or 14″ inches – which is an all time record), the plantings for the English Hedgerow are doing well for the most part. (also see this other page in the blog for the specifics on what I planted in the Hedgerow)

For the future, I am thinking about hiring Laura Kuhn to do something interesting with the large ledge rock near the mill site and combine it with a restoration/stabilization effort of the stonework. Something to continue thinking about.

The other thing that got done is thinking about winter and plowing. Our mutual plow guy (who is excellent!) is Mercer Therrien and he is switching to a tractor for plowing from a pickup truck (I have zero idea on how he is going to make that work?). Anyway, he asked that there be a certain clearance in terms of height be available for him – so my Dad and I went out yesterday and measured the the low point of the utility wires as they cross the driveway. We could have gotten all fancy and used various surveying tools and math – but I suggested being simple. We tied some string to a large 3/4″ metal nut and tossed over the line and then measured the length of line. Easy! Turns out the lowest point in the line drape from the utility pole at the street and first utility pole on my parent’ drive way is 11′ 4″. At the point where the wire is at the center of the driveway (crossing it over) the lowest point is 12′ 6″. So the wire height is actually rising again as it crosses the driveway (diagram below I wrote up for long term reference). Mercer only needs 10′ so we are good. However, this led to the thought and wonder in terms of how much height does the current town firetrucks need? My Mom is going to contact them during the week and ask. The lowest cable set is from the phone company – so it should be pretty easy for them to come and tighten up the tension and reduce the drape. At my house all the utilities are underground so no worries there – just branches.

Finally – Hurricane Henri.

First Hurricane in New England in 30 years. While I have been typing this entry, the first of the rain started to fall. My understanding is that this storm was barely a Hurricane and it has weakened already into a Tropical Storm. Yesterday I took down the last remaining canoe from the boat shed (the while Bart Hathaway ultralight – we gave to the Andereggs the other canoes and windsurfers) and in general tidied up things that are wind susceptible. We should just get wet and this is why it was so humid yesterday :-).

Below is a screenshot of the radar on Accuweather as of 7:30am this morning – the storm has been coming up the coast and while they original thought it slam Cape Cod and go east, it looks now like it is going west and will hit Rhode Island and move up the Connecticut River Valley. Regardless, a good day to stay indoors and be glad we have backup generator service!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Will more server memory actually get this blog back online after 3 years??

Hi everyone – I have what is called in the Technology biz a “Vintage” package with my hosting provider and I was getting memory errors logging in to create new posts, put up pictures and what not. I got part way through moving to a new plan on GoDaddy (which is excellent) but that is a giant pain in the tail since I have stuff reaching back to the early 1990’s on my site. Fortunately while fighting to move things, I was finally able to stumble my way to re-configure the memory on my existing site – so we will shall see how it works out!

What has been going on since my last post? A lot, COVID of course and ton a change at my job. I had to create a timeline of the last 4 years at work the other day for a business re-org and I realized that me and my team have had a major strategy change, project, re-org or some other big event pretty much every 4 months for the past several years – the longest stretch of moving straight towards a goal was 9 months – oooofff. But all good – great bunch of people. So I will skip all the boring bits and let you know what is going on now that is fun

My Dad changed things up and got a new mower. The old John Deere tractor was having a hard time with the lawn, which has been getting lumpier and lumpier with odd off slopes developing. It was a bit top heavy and unstable feeling. We looked at getting a landscaping company to come in but they wanted $900.00 per WEEK just to mow around the house and along the driveway (not including the fields across the pond). At that price, a different mower started looking pretty cheap. We looked around and got a commercial grade Z-Trak John Deere (lower end of the scale, but had the beefier chassis for bashing against the occasional rock – as one does find in Carlisle 🙂

This is basically what it looks like – you steer with the two bars. Once you sit down, you fold them in and then push or pull to go forward or back or spin in place. My Dad says its like riding a horse – gentle. I wouldn’t know since I am afraid of horses – LOL. It does a great job and is super fun to use.

Yesterday my Dad and I went down to the Robbins Museum (aligned with the Massachusetts Archeology Society) and donated a whole car load of Geo-Archeology equipment. Think things to take core samples, sift things, bag things up and what not. This was equipment my Dad had accumulated over a number of years while doing things with the Society and people in the community. I won’t try and trace all the different things that drew him into this branch – but one of the things is pretty neat and interesting to the lay person. When I was in London for work a number of years ago, I stumbled on the Museum of London (aka – covering the history of the City of London). They specialize in Roman period and earlier – basically the period prior to existing written history. It is super – highly recommended. I picked up this book Seahenge: a quest for life and death in Bronze Age Britain On the cover it is about the discovery of a wooden “Henge” (think Stone Henge) that was uncovered along the coast after a big storm washed away some dunes. It apparently was a big deal in Britain when it was discovered and made exciting because it was wooden in a now exposed marine environment – Archeology in Rush, news at 11 tonight, don’t miss it !

That was mildly interesting but most of the book was about techniques used and for that, the author focused on prior sites to use as examples and it was absolutely fascinating when he got into how they analyze soil. The amount of information they are able to determine by examining pollen is amazing. What I found super interesting is that on one site, they examined the ground and were able to determine that wooden posts had been set in the ground, and that they had been shaped with flint stone tools and they could identify with such accuracy the shape of the posts, they could calculate the shape of the stone tools used on the post. Later in the dig, after cataloging the theoretical shapes of the tools used – they actually found them and the shape and size were exact matches. Wow.

Needless to say this was ground breaking techniques that are not being used in New England.

the point of donating the tools is that we are not doing much of that stuff any more and the Archeology Society needs help with things that members can participate in without having a PhD or certification. Driving a 3/4 inch wide pipe into the ground and getting a core sample usually doesn’t require a permit from the State for an official dig and is actually the cutting edge way to do things instead of Indiana Jones pick and shovel stuff!

Here are some pictures of the equipment my Dad donated – not a full inventory since there was a lot variations on the themes here. Basically all methods for gathering, handling and storing samples.

The Robbins Museum was a very interesting museum – it has the largest collection of Native American artifacts in New England and possibly the United States (that gets a bit vague). Here is their website and YouTube channel in case you want to check them out.

I won’t bore you with every photo of what they have on display but here is a bit of an example – a very neat place!

That’s all for this weekend – fingers crossed this is all working again and I can get back into a regular cadence – I have missed it! Waving to everyone virtually 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fall 2018 after a long hot and wet summer in Carlisle

It was a long, hot and wet summer this year – but fall has finally arrived.

I have been working pretty much every weekend for so many weeks now that I cannot really remember – definitely stretching back into September.  A big project at work that took me down to New York, which was interesting and I had the opportunity to meet up with my new department and my peers in person.   Made a live, on stage, presentation to all the senior leadership of technology of the parent Bank – which was stressful since I was presenting the technology of the group I had just joined 5 weeks before to people who were asking detailed questions.  Fortunately my new boss was on stage with me and it went well – but it was a pretty long hour or so!

I got a chance to visit Ground Zero and the Oculus (the new memorial/PATH train station) since it was directly across the street from my hotel.  By the way, how is it that the Hilton Millenium directly downtown doesn’t have a WiFi internet system except in lobby (which also doesn’t work)?.

I found the site a very excellent combination of memorial and bustling life moving forward.  They have struck an excellent balance.  I didn’t have time to visit the museum itself but it is supposed to be very, very, very good.   I really liked the Oculus – it is a building that is getting USED but also helps you think.

Finally – a bit of a shot of the Farm Stand near my house – all dressed and bustling with harvest energy!

and I almost forgot – here is the final installed stone work that marks the permanent maximum extent of my lawn


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment