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Senate Control Could Come Down To Whole Foods vs. Cracker Barrel | FiveThirtyEight
Entertaining analysis showing, perhaps, only that marketers are better at understanding the country’s political segmentation than political campaign planners are.

Aunt Maria’s Vermont Maple Sugar Pie, 1945 – A Vintage Pie Recipe Test – The Mid-Century Menu

The Questa Project | I Love Typography
Seriously cool new font family, worth checking out.

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New house, new history

The fence in front of our house is more than 150 years old, but the house itself is only 67 years old.

That was one of the surprises I had when researching the history of our new house. It sits on a main thoroughfare of Lexington, down the street from a church, meeting hall, and old village grocery store, and I always wondered how it was that there was relatively new construction here. It turns out the answer was simple: they moved the old house.

On our lot in 1716, Stephen Robbins built his homestead, and the Robbins family lived here through the mid-19th century. Around 1850, his family built the fence in front of the house, the one historical structure on the property. It’s sturdy, built of wrought iron and granite posts, and it isn’t going anywhere.

Unlike the Robbins house. After a long history (among other things, the house was apparently a station on the Underground Railway), the house moved on—literally. In the 1940s, Helen Potter bought the place for $500, then spent more than $3,000 to move it up the street, where it still stands today. In its place, the Cataldo family built our brick Colonial, completing it in 1947.

The Cataldos have been in town since the early 20th century. There’s a good oral history by one of the brothers that talks about the early days of the family, including Anthony Cataldo, who founded the Depository Trust Company of Medford and who purchased the depot building for a bank branch when the Lexington West Cambridge Railroad stopped running.

At some point before 1993 the property changed hands, and the biggest alteration was made: a subdivision of the property (and maybe the adjacent property) resulted in the creation of a cul-de-sac and three old-looking modern Colonial houses that surrounded it. Aside from the demolition of an old barn that once stood on a corner of our property, the biggest change to our house was a remodel that left us with gold fixtures in the bathrooms. 

Fast forward twenty years. After a few owners, the house was purchased by a nearby school eight years ago and became a rental property. When they realized they needed cash for renovation projects, the house went on the market and we snapped it up. Now comes the fun part of its history: making it ours.

New house, new start


The Jarrett House North has moved. I don’t mean this blog, though given my relative silence here for the last too-long-to-count you’d be forgiven for thinking all the action was going on elsewhere. No, I mean our physical house. Ten years to the day after buying our first Massachusetts home, we became the owners of this 1947 Colonial in Lexington. After ten years in a Cape, I still can’t get over all the space. I mean, we certainly made that little Cape as spacious as we could. But it’s no match for center hall, full second floor, full attic. Even with only a half-finished basement it’s still a lot of room. So of course, we’re still in boxes despite having moved six weeks ago. But we’re getting used to the place and the neighborhood. And what a neighborhood! East Lexington was a separate village once upon a time and we’re right at the center of it all. I’ll post a little about our neighboring architecture soon. And the grounds are astonishing — after having to cut down a bunch of diseased trees at the old house, to have a bunch of healthy horse chestnut trees, maples, a gorgeous plane tree, and even what I think might be an apple tree is a fantastic blessing. So even on a rainy day, I can sit here and look out the window and say: we lucked out.

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Doom & Gloom From The Tomb — "Guilty" – Lou Reed / Ornette Coleman When Lou…
Yes please.

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Tweet of the Month @rohinivibha
Pointer to a good article about product management.

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Lou Reed leaves $30m fortune | Music |
Lou was pretty good at getting paid, it turns out.

Share extensions in iOS 8: Explained | iMore
The how of getting your app onto the iOS 8 "Share" menu.

How to Avoid Lowering Your Prices | SiriusDecisions
Sound strategies for avoiding pricing messes in the field. I’ll add another vote for offering a longer contract rather than lowering price. The big secret here is that it’s very hard to change the price at which a subscription is established, so don’t lock in a low rate to win a customer; give free months of service instead.

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Sasha Frere-Jones: The working life of Brian Eno.
Nice midlength article on Eno and his work.

1895 Map of the University of Virginia Grounds

1895 map of the University of Virginia from the YMCA Student Handbook

1895 map of the University of Virginia from the YMCA Student Handbook

It’s not every day that you get to see a picture of the world just before it changed. But that’s what I found in my latest eBay finding, a copy of the Y.M.C.A. Student’s Hand Book to the University of Virginia, 1895–’96. Inside the book, after the title page and opposite the calendar of the year (more on that in a second), is a fold-out map of the University as it existed at the beginning of the 1895 school year.

It’s literally a peek backwards in time. The infirmary (now Varsity Hall) is on the map where it was built and stood until its move in 2005 to make way for the expansion of Rouss Hall for the McIntire School of Commerce (and Rouss, Cocke, and Cabell are not on the map at all). The original Dawson’s Row buildings dot the map in an arc leading away from Monroe Hill. The lost Jefferson Anatomical Building, here labeled “Biological Laboratory,” stands on the map alongside a pair of more modern buildings for Anatomy and Chemistry, both now lost to time. Memorial Gym is still the skating pond. Carr’s Hill is a set of wooden dwellings, with no sign of the president’s home that Stanford White built — of course, this was before the University had a president. Madison Bowl, and the original Madison House building, are just the “YMCA Campus.”

And of course, the Rotunda only has one set of east-west wings, and it has a big Annex.

It’s all poised on the brink of a monumental event: the destruction of the Rotunda Annex and the burning out of Jefferson’s Rotunda on October 27, 1895. In a day the University was turned upside down. Two years later the Rotunda would be rebuilt in a grand style, three academic buildings would close off Mr. Jefferson’s Lawn, and the unprecedented fundraising challenge would prove the last straw for the old faculty government model. Within ten years the University’s first president would take office. It’s a fascinating look back into a lost world.

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roio » Blog Archive » NICK DRAKE – A DAY GONE BY
Track 226

Eight Terminal Utilities Every OS X Command Line User Should Know
A few interesting goodies here.

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Scoop: A Glimpse Into the NYTimes CMS
Makes me want to work at the Times.

2014 UVA Reunion, Part III: The people

Diane, Lara, Julianne, Don, Erika, and myself

Diane, Lara, Julianne, Don, Erika, and myself

The best part of any reunion is the people, and I’ve learned an important lesson this time: get here early. I was never rushed, had enough time to spend with everyone, and lowered my blood pressure probably 20 or so points.

The shenanigans of our group of friends shall mostly be lost to the mists of time (or behind private walls on Facebook), but a few things stand out:

After Saturday’s banquet, I had reached my quota of extroversion, and my claustrophobia kicked in. So I took my leave of my friends and walked up East Lawn, then cut across to West. As I passed Pavilion V, I was hailed by strangers sitting outside one of the Lawn Rooms, who pointed out my absence of beverage and rectified same; we exchanged pleasantries and University personal histories. Walking back down East Lawn again, I was stopped by alumni of the class of 1974, sitting outside another Lawn room drinking bourbon and smoking cigars. They pointed to my orange and blue bow tie and said, “Now that’s how it’s supposed to be done!”

Photos from the Grounds are on Flickr.

2014 UVA Reunions, Part II: The Rotunda

Rotunda Capital

Rotunda Capital

I got a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Rotunda on Saturday. The Rotunda, Jefferson’s library and the centerpiece of his Academical Village, just got done with a roof replacement and now enters the second, more extensive phase of its renovations as they redo the mechanical systems and get ready to return it to a building more integrated with student life. The guide said that they were inspired by the way students took to the McGregor Room in Alderman when it was turned into study space after Special Collections moved into its new dedicated building, and hope to recreate that effect in the oval room across from the Board of Visitors meeting room on the second floor. I can’t think of anything better.

The tour itself was fascinating. We stood in the lower oval rooms on the ground floor and learned what they’ve reconstructed about the larger role of the chemistry labs in the earliest days of the university, when the Rotunda was not just library but also science classroom. We marveled at the graffiti left by builders in the portland cement  lining the cistern buried in the east courtyard, long hidden under a fountain. And we got to ascend both tiers of balcony above the Dome Room floor, which have long been off limits to regular tours.

The last part was the most special. Behind an opened panel on the north wall was a small chamber housing the machinery for the north clock. There was a 1970s era unfinished wood structure around the clock mechanism. And the wood structure was covered by signatures of probationary classes of the University Guide Service. The Guides’ secret hideaway had long been a legend, and seeing it in broad daylight was surprising at first. But as I wrote to a friend, I felt that the Guides found a way to become part of the historic fabric of the building in an intimately familiar and ultimately respectful way, just like the builders who left their names in the cement of the cistern. Seeing the signatures meant that my friends had found a way to become a deep part of the history of the University.

Check the Flickr photoset for more.

2014 UVa Reunions, part 1: The Library

Alderman Library reference room.

Alderman Library reference room.

My 20th reunion has been a great time to connect with friends, gawk at the architecture (again), and disappear into the library. —Wait, what?

I got into Charlottesville on Thursday for reunions weekend, and headed straight to the library. I was on the trail of the mysterious Glee Club concert program. I found the mention of William Wood Glass‘s correspondence with Ada Bantz Beardsworth in January of this year, and one sentence in the finding aid was electrifying: “He also included programs for the University of Virginia Glee Club.” 

In the end, the discovery was simple. I went to Special Collections, requested the box of correspondence, opened it, and there it was: a program for the February 12, 1894 Glee Club concert. Featuring E.A. Craighill, author of the Good Old Song,  and the same concert program that the Club took on that 1893–1894 tour, the program formed the second earliest record we have of an actual Glee Club performance. It also had a human dimension: Glass wrote a letter to Ada on the front and back, describing the concert and its aftermath. He notes, “We had a fine time, but not as large a house as we anticipated. I made a great mash on one of Miss Baldwin’s girls.”

I’m getting the program scanned properly. It should be part of our permanent record of Club’s history.

I returned to Alderman on Friday to dig through other holdings. I finally laid eyes on the January 1871 copy of the Virginia University Magazine, which fixes our earliest date for the Glee Club, and made my way through much of the collection of Corks and Curls. I’ll post about some of those findings another time.

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Designers Explain Why Apple’s New OS X Typeface Is a Strange Choice
And now we have the odd phenomenon of designers dumping on Helvetica.

New mix: been so lonesome, just ’bout flew away

Percolating this one for a while, as usual. Genesis has been the end of a long hard winter, some outstanding old gospel 78s that washed up on Bandcamp, and a few songs (“Headspins,” “Genius of Love”) that seized my playlist and wouldn’t let go.

  1. In Your Eyes (Special Mix)Peter Gabriel
  2. I Won’t Be LongBeck (I Won’t Be Long)
  3. City With No ChildrenArcade Fire (The Suburbs)
  4. ManNeko Case (The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You (Deluxe Edition))
  5. HeadspinsSplashh (Comfort)
  6. Little By LittleRadiohead (The King of Limbs)
  7. WeightlessBrian Eno (Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks)
  8. Root DownBeastie Boys (Ill Communication)
  9. White GirlSoul Coughing (Irresistible Bliss)
  10. Can You Get to ThatFunkadelic (Maggot Brain)
  11. Borrowed TimeAlexander O’Neal (Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound)
  12. Bittersweet MeR.E.M. (New Adventures In Hi-Fi)
  13. Genius Of LoveTom Tom Club (Tom Tom Club)
  14. PatienceThe Men (Campfire Songs)
  15. What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?Dixie Hummingbirds (When the Moon Goes Down in the Valley of Time: African-American Gospel, 1939-51)
  16. Stones In My PasswayRobert Johnson (The Complete Recordings)
  17. RoyalsLorde (The Love Club EP)
  18. Deeper Into MoviesYo La Tengo (I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One)
  19. Too Much of Nothing (take 2)Bob Dylan (A Tree With Roots)
  20. That Was My VeilJune Tabor & Oysterband (Ragged Kingdom)
  21. Wash.Bon Iver (Bon Iver)
  22. Avalanche (Slow)Zola Jesus, JG Thirlwell & Mivos Quartet (Versions)
  23. Green, Green Rocky RoadDave Van Ronk (Inside Llewyn Davis: Original Soundtrack Recording)
  24. Water WheelSteve Gunn (Time Off)
  25. CeremonyNew Order (International: The Best of New Order)
  26. One DayAngelic Gospel Singers with the Dixie Humming Birds (When the Moon Goes Down in the Valley of Time: African-American Gospel, 1939-51)
  27. Winter’s Come And GoneGillian Welch (Hell Among The Yearlings)