Posted by mike d. Filed in RockStar

Earlier this year I spent somewhere near to 10 weeks in Ohio on an installation job. While I was out there, I got my pinky finger bashed between two metal plates. It was very painful.

Turns out I broke it.

I had to baby it a bit due to pain, but with the aggressive schedule in Ohio and my stubbornness, I never went to a doctor. It healed all wonky like and now I can no longer straighten that finger.

That's as straight as it gets.

That’s as straight as it gets. Also, this is a weird perspective.

The worst part is that it’s on my left hand. That’s my fingering hand for guitar. Except… my guitar playing has improved.

I have had trouble for a long time with keeping my pinky finger close to the strings. The closer your fingers to the strings, the less time it takes to depress a string – the faster you can play.

Now that I can’t straighten my finger, it is forced to bend closely towards the strings. I can wail!

While it doesn’t speak highly of my guitar playing if broken fingers improve my performance, I find it fitting that metal indirectly improved my ability to shred.


Nobel Prize

Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

It’s worth noting that James is interviewing with Nobel Prize winner James Rothman later this month for a job.

No pressure or anything James.

Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

On Friday, after a trip to the town hall for a marriage license, Jen and I were lucky enough to redeem an invitation to the Hartford NPR studios to sit in and watch the production of the Colin McEnroe show. Sean the Shark, one of my fellow Roller Derby announcers, linked us up with Chion Wolf – a producer/NPR personality. We reached out and got hooked up for Friday’s ‘The Nose’

We got to the studio at 12:30 where we relaxed in the lobby chatting with a few of the show’s participants until we were brought upstairs to the studio proper. The acoustics were AMAZING. The sound carried beautifully, but didn’t linger. Grapefruit sized microphone foam covers hung from jointed mic booms. The room was eclectically adorned with John Dankosky coffee mugs and posters for local shows.

Jen and Mike at WNPR
(photo by Chion Wolf)

We met Chion who graciously offered us one of two awesome seating locations to observe the show: next to the guests, or in the production control room. We chose the production control room; this was the right decision.

The studio exists in a weird duality where urgency is married to a patient calm. “Come on in we have three minutes,” Chion invited, “that’s an eternity.” When things have to happen, they are executed with heightened focus and haste. Yet the spans between these moments of intensity are relaxed.

The production room was arrayed with computer screens, knobs, and buttons. All parties communicated via instant messenger for important show communiqu├ęs, while studio audio buzzed in the control room via big speakers. Chion walked us through each of her tasks from the show prep, to the careful timing of events, to the handling and managing of listener phone calls.

Our 90 minutes behind the NPR doors flew by. It was enlightening and educational. Jen and I got to see a unique side of the NPR world. An unforgettable experience!

A huge thanks to Sean the Shark, Chion Wolf, and the NPR staff for welcoming us into their studio.

Posted by mike d. Filed in family

This weekend Jen and I spent some time with her Step-Brother and Sister-in-law for some engagement photos. Brandon and Christine are photographers and graciously offered their services for our event.

The pictures came out pretty awesome. And not only did we get some professional pictures of us, but Brandon and Christine are mega fun and were willing to take some laughable photos too. These are my favorites from both catagories:







Posted by mike d. Filed in Geekdom

I have been perpetually confused with what defines a house style as a Colonial. It has always seemed like the go to descriptor for any house that didn’t cleanly fit into any other category. I couldn’t find the common bond between one colonial and any other colonial.

What I didn’t know was that, unlike say the Cape, the Colonial style is a general style encompassing many well-defined styles and a few nebulous ones. Let’s learn!

The Basic.

The Basic.

First the basics: The American Colonial is defined by simpleness and symmetry. The original Colonials developed, as the name suggests, from construction styles of American colonists from the 1600′s *1. Some of the subtypes are attributed to the cultural heritage of the residents: Dutch, Spanish, French, German Colonials for example. The regional preferences of these cultural groups result in greater frequency of certain subtypes by region. Today we’ll look at the following Colonial types:
Garrison, Saltbox, Georgian, (Federal), Dutch, German, Spanish, and French.

Garrison Colonial
This one’s easy. Bump out the second floor a foot and you’re go. Mom D informed me that legend says this style was developed to allow Colonial’s to defend their homes by aiming their guns at the front door through that one foot gap. Bob Villa supports this legend, but suggests that perhaps the real origin is more likely roots in Elizabethan townhouses*.


The Garrison

Saltbox Colonial
Take your standard colonial and drop the back roof down closer to the ground. Wikipedia suggests that this was done either to a) evade some taxes by having the rear roof of the house at 1 story or b) affordably accommodate a growing family with a cheap lean-to addition in the back.



Georgian Colonial
Whoa there, now we’re getting fancy. Georgian styles added some flare. The decorative crown on the door? The faux flat columns on either side of the door? Exciting! Throw in some symmetric chimneys and we are good. Sometimes these might have added ornamentation like dental molding around the eaves. All these examples of flare were methods of pragmatically displaying wealth and prosperity *2. This style developed after 1700. *3



Federal… Style?
Federal houses are Georgian Colonials on steroids. Grandiose and formal. Their doorways are even more intense, they frequently have half circle windows or fanlights above their doors, with occasional pillars. Sometimes, Federal extends away from the pitched roof style home with some massive flat roof types. Other times they have their Pediment (the triangle part of the home) as the front of the building.

Federal Style

Federal Style

Fun fact: Some websites put the Federal style into the Colonial Revival type of houses. Other websites seem to put the Federal building as its own style. If any brilliant architectural historians are out there to set this one straight, please comment.

Let’s stop briefly to hit up roof styles. Check it out, some of these will be important to understand before we continue:

Roof Styles!

Roof Styles!

And thus concludes our intermission. Back to Colonials.

Dutch Colonial
GAMBREL THAT ROOOOF! The Dutch Colonial is extremely distinctive. You take a standard colonial, increase the pitch of the roof and then barn-ify it with a couple dormers. In fact these are often referred to as barn style homes. Sometimes the entryway has a pretty arch, other times there’s a porch on the one side. These Colonials are easy to identify. These style homes were more commonly constructed in the early 1900′s, so we’re definitely within the colonial revival era. NOTE: my drawing is not very good.



German Colonial
Standard colonial made out of stone. Bam. German Colonial.



Spanish Colonial
This house subtype is extremely hard to define. There are examples on the internet of basic colonials with ceramic tile roofs, to grand spanish villas rife with arches and stucco walls. There are a lot of these in California. I am not going to attempt a drawing as the style is too vague to capture in MSPaint.

French Colonial
Also tricky to define, French Colonial architecture in America can describe any number of different styles. One common theme that I have noticed are unusual roofs. First there’s the bonnet roof. Think McDonalds in the 90′s.

French example 1

French example 1

Sometimes the roof on these extends far out over the house with pillars coming down all the way around.

Then there’s the steep roof French Colonial. It has a hip roof, but this one is much steeper.

French example 2

French example 2

From my own observations, these houses tend to have multiple house sections all with those steep roofs. Arched dormers and center chimneys are not uncommon.


So there we have it! A quick walk down the path of Colonial architecture. It would seem that my initial impression of Colonials as a ‘catch-all’ isn’t entirely bogus because there are a lot of different looks to this genre, but hopefully this post provides a bit of clarity to this generous style. Thanks for reading!


Posted by mike d. Filed in Quickthoughts

Every once in awhile you find yourself eating dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets.


Jason Huff

Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life..., Books

On Friday, Jen and I visited the New Britain Museum of American Art for their September First Friday event. The first Friday of every month, the museum hosts a night of snacks and jazz. While the clientele is a bit older, the entertainment is wonderful and in my opinion it’s a perfect date night.

Shortly after our arrival, we were alerted that there was an artist’s talk beginning shortly on the second floor. Jen and I strolled upstairs and sat down to listen to artist Jason Huff talk about his recent work.

Jason Huff has a fresh approach to traditional works. The focus of his talk was his book ‘The Road Not Taken’ which uses Google’s recommended search results as supplements to the famous Robert Frost poem. Each word from each line was entered into Google, and a new poem was created from the now ornamented text.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” thusly becomes:
“Two moons roadside lyrics diverged definition inception amtrak yellow book woods hole ferry.”

It was an extremely fun method of modernizing a traditional work. Check it out here.


Storm King!

Posted by mike d. Filed in Weekend Update!

At the recommendation of Dr. Scott, Jen and I took Saturday to head east to New Windsor, NY to visit the sculpture garden Storm King. In addition to a ridiculously awesome estate name, this 550 acre garden located about an hour North of Manhattan sports over a hundred sculptures and stunningly beautiful vistas.

Menashe Kadishman, Suspended 1977

Menashe Kadishman, Suspended

Jen and I got there around 11:30, had a small picnic at their picnic tables and then got to walking. Within the last three years or so the park started renting bicycles to make travel easier, but they are absurdly priced at $40/rental. The park will not allow you to bring your own bikes. I’m sure that this rule is to make sure that no one mars their lawns with thin tires – but to me it mostly seemed overprotective.

Mark Di Suvero  Mon Pere, 1973-75 Beethoven's Quartet, 2003 Pyramidian, 1987-98

Mark Di Suvero
Mon Pere, 1973-75
Beethoven’s Quartet, 2003
Pyramidian, 1987-98

While the large pieces were sprinkled across the landscape, most of the smaller sculptures were clustered around the centerpoint of the park: a beautiful little museum that housed a focal exhibit. The museum, being atop a hill, also provided what may have been the best views of the estate.


Perhaps the most exciting sculpture was Andy Goldsworthy’s Storm King Wall (1997-98). It was a five or so foot tall wall that wound its way in, out and around a row of trees then through a lake and up a hill.


To me, the artfulness of the piece was its embrace of surplus. The effort required to build this piece makes my brain hurt.

Winding Wall

It took us about three hours to walk the landscape. The grounds were hardly flat, as I think you can tell from the pictures, so we were admittedly pretty tired after tromping around the landscape. They have a tram that anyone can hop on and hop off anytime, but we chose to walk since it was the perfect late summer day.

Mark Di Suvero - Jambalaya 2002-06

Mark Di Suvero – Jambalaya

Alexander Calder - The Arch 1975

Alexander Calder – The Arch

From central CT, its about 1h45m to Storm king – and well worth the trek. I would imagine that it would be particularly spectacular once the leaves start to change color. Try to get out there, it’s mega-fun. Thanks for the recommendation Dr. Scott!

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