Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I saw this sign on the train, and wondered what the effect is. The trains in Boston aren't particularly dirty, they're clean most of the time in fact. From time to time, there are newspapers or Dunkin' Donuts coffee cups or bags and other random items.

My hypothesis, is that most people keep the train clean, not because it is their tax dollars, but because they have a personal belief of the need to do so. These people were brought up to pick up after themselves. From time to time, accidents are bound to happen, a person might forget a coffee cup like they might forget a glove or a phone on the seat.  Given that I rarely see trash on the T (the Boston train system), there are a few reasons for this. One, as already said, people have a personal desire to keep the area clean. Two, people sometimes leave trash, and it is an honest accident. Three, people carelessly leave trash. The division between the a careless person and an honest accident is unknown to me, and I don't have much basis for deciding what the percentage of each might be.

Back to the sign. Who is it targeting? Is it thanking people who would have already picked up after themselves? Is it reminding people who are on the fence about whether or not to wait until the train station to dispose of something? Is it aimed at blatant litterers who might consider otherwise upon reading that their tax money is at work to pick up after them?

I don't think the last thought is the purpose of this sign. Any one who sees this sign, might see the tax dollars as money they've already spent. They're already getting taxed in many different forms, who is to say which one goes towards cleaning up the T, or how much. What is the chance that a publicly maintained clean T will result in lower taxes? (This was one of the immediate thoughts that was in my head when I first saw this sign)

I think there are opportunities to have a more directed and interesting sign in place of this one. It could impart a similar message, in a different form. One possibility is the exclusion of the sign all together.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More Ads

Another T Station ad space buy out. This time by Macy's in the Downtown Crossing station. I wonder if ad spaces are getting cheaper or these large buy in's command a significant discount. I do appreciate the element of uniformity of seeing all the ads together (even if I don't care for the ads themselves).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Appropriate Tools

A Boston Public Works employee appropriates two screwdrivers to remove a street hatch. I am curious as to what the original designer thought might be used to open up such a hatch. Additionally, if new or old screwdrivers are used, and how such use effects durability. Finally, I am curious if this employee was shown this technique, or improvised it.

After removing the cover, he examined the hole for about 4-5 seconds, and then replaced the cover, by stomping it down with his foot.

Friday, December 18, 2009

First Snow

From the night of one of the first snowfalls this winter season in Cambridge.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Brussel Sprout Tower

This photo was taken a few weeks ago, and the stem was placed in a flower arranging base. When standing up, it looks something like a smoke plum. I had only recently seen brussel sprouts in this kind of arrangement over the past year. It is odd to think that I have been so out of touch with what something I ingest into my body looks like in its natural form. It is something of a leap of faith many people in urban areas take everyday with the various foods we eat and technologies we trust.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Just take the outbound train in the opposite of its intended direction, and you'll be able to find it. It's hard to argue against this kind of graffiti. (It has since been removed, I think they tagger used an expo marker)

Monday, December 7, 2009


This is a processing plant of Conoco Phillips Inc in California that can be viewed from an Amtrak train. The bright yellow mountain in the center of the photo is sulfur. It glows fluorescent in the middle of the day.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mr. Daily Talk

Mr. Daily Talk (Alfred Sirleaf of Liberia, read more about him in this NY Times Article) talks to Erik Hersman, of Afrigadget, at Maker Faire Africa about how he crafts his chalkboard news.