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!

Posted by mike d. Filed in Dreams

Jen and I have wildly different wedding dreams. She dreams about her dress not arriving on time, or some other organizational disaster. I dream about wedding parties being completely consumed by raging flash floods while I stand helpless holding a rope that’s too short to save the periled souls. Or, I dream of the wedding gifts that arrive all being different versions of the game Risk.

A true window into the psyche.

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

After months of putting it off, I finally followed Vivienne’s recommendation and tried out the epic running app: Zombies, Run!

Verdict: AMAZING.

The concept is fairly simple. You live in a post apocalyptic zombie infested world and are given daily missions which will require you to leave the safe gates of your base and run around collecting critical supplies and plot developing items. You are coaxed on by the base via your radio transmitter. While you run the program keeps track of your location via GPS (or accelerometer for you treadmill junkies). And about three times per run, zombies chase you and if you don’t pick up your speed – they will get you.

Getting caught doesn’t change the plot line or stop the story, it’s mostly a pride thing. The program essentially coaches you into interval training while keeping you interested and eager for more storyline. Also, it seems to define how fast you’ll need to go to escape the zombies by your average speed. I find that I really have to book it in order to escape during zombie chases.

Each episode is about 30minutes long and the program pulls music from your collection to play between story segments. If you want to keep running after the 30 minutes are up, the plotline stops, but you are entertained by comical banter by the radio transmission guys.

I’ve only run through four episodes now, but it’s mega fun. For 4 bucks, it’s a great deal.

Posted by mike d. Filed in Quickthoughts

For some reason I never realized that the pull tab on a Hershey Kiss allows one to unwrap the candies with great expediency. Up ’till now, I’ve always peeled back the foil by hand.

Over the course of my life, this revelation will most certainly save me hours of time.

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