30 July, 2008


We've spent well over a month remodeling our main bathroom on the second floor. As it sounds, this took longer than expected, involved more gutting and fixing than we planned, and cost more too. Not that we are finished, but let's say it's close. Only the sink is left, and I finally ordered a sink to sit atop the Ikea kitchen island that I'm going to modify for a sink stand. We are doing all we can to cut corners but cost just seems to rise regardless of my design choices. In any case, we've come a long way from the demolition pictures at the bottom of this post.

Built in removable shelving between the shower and the window holds basically everything we need.

We kept the original window but re-cased it, which sounds simple except the entire wall was rebuilt to be "plumb".

A new low-flow but strong flush Toto toilet is a welcome addition.

Josh, our cousin, did most of the actual work of the renovation and you can see his tile handiwork is superb. My favorite is the built in shelf, though we also added a bolted glass shelf as well.

We decided to go with a combination of a soaker tub and a nice shower experience by getting a deeper and wider tub.
We also took the door off its hinges and reconfigured it as a pocket door built into another rebuilt, re-plumbed, thickened wall. The interesting gadget above the outlet is the control for the hidden but likely best feature of the room, heated floors. Yep, no more cold tile in the winter. And that isn't the best reason, it will save us energy. We had a small radiator that did little but was using lots of energy by heating water in a dedicated pipe that ran over two floors from the basement directly to the bathroom. Now we are recycling that copper and only heating the actual part that needs heated, the floor.

Because it took so long, we spent many nights and mornings tubbing it ghetto style.

Oona got a kick out of the construction site too. She's waiting for bath time.

Here you can see how we went down 7 layers to the original floor to build a new floor that was actually level and well supported, not to mention insulated. Only one exterior wall was insulated, now the whole room is. You can also see the edge of a maze of pipe that we tore out and completely re-plumbed.

eugene lang

Some of you I've already talked to, but for others, you will be glad to know that Oona is not going to go hungry. At least not this year. Why? Because I've recently accepted an Assistant Professor of Ecology position at Eugene Lang College at The New School, the first hire for a new Environmental Studies program that is intended to bridge Eugene Lang and the Parson School of Design.
A little info on the New School: It was started in 1919 by John Dewey and a few other noteworthy radicals who wanted a place for thinkers to meet up in a non-traditional academic structure. And the New School is definitely non-traditional. Since then it has grown to include a number of "schools" under its umbrella. The Environmental Studies program at Lang will be very urban and design oriented in a mission that intends to provide students with sustainability focused education. What this means in practice is that for the fall I'll be teaching a course on Urban Ecology, which will necessarily have a strong fundamental ecology component. I'll also be teaching an introduction to environmental studies called "Environment and Society" which will be the main introduction to the program and also be urban in focus. I am also helping the faculty shape the future direction of the program as we are trying to grow quickly but remain unique. Incidentally I am working with a professor who also did his Ph.D. at Rutgers University in Urban Planning and another professor from Parsons who is a close colleague of my mentor Steward Pickett at the Cary Institute. It is a small world.

In the spring I am planning a course on conservation and we are talking about another focused course on green building practices or possibly a critical theory/environmental history course using film as the text. That latter is still up in the air, but in any case I am doing my best to entrench myself with a new core environmental faculty group in what is best described as a liberal, activist institution. It's just my style. I can't wait to meet the students. And the faculty are great. FYI: I'm not up on the faculty website yet, so don't bother looking.

So, I'm happy about the new challenge though a little nervous about getting two new courses designed and launched in a month. Classes start September 2nd. I'll also be keeping my affiliation with Columbia University as a visiting professor for the Earth Institute considering I still have a summer/winter course and ongoing research there as well. Ok, enough work talk for today.

12 July, 2008

a walk in wellesley arboretum

On our way to Portland we stopped to visit our friends Scott, Amanda, and their beautiful Colette.

More Oona photos here.

10 July, 2008

fairy houses and ghosts in the trees

First Atlantic Ocean touch.

09 July, 2008

a little vacation

Maine is a place we associate with a romantic ideal of old New England. So, the day I found out I got the professor job I wanted, we planned a week long vacation to Portland, Maine. Keely found an apartment on the water in a beautiful house near the old town and we spent our days meandering around the islands, beaches, and old streets of Portland.

We spent a number of late afternoons drinking locally brewed Allagash wheat beer and eating fresh seafood at this fish shack.