7/26/2013: Fun facts about our water supply

So the Globe has a big article about Greater Boston’s water supply that most of you probably haven’t read. Some pretty interesting facts in the article — which I’ll summarize below:

  • Our water comes from the Quabbin Reservoir, which is located about 60 miles west of W. Newton (near Ware, MA). The Quabbin is Mass’ largest body of water and named after an American Indian Chief named Nani Quaben — which means ‘many waters.’
  • The Quabbin was built between 1926-1939. 38 square miles of land were cleared: trees, topsoil, 36 miles of state highways, 16 miles of railroad tracks, 8 train stations and 7,500 dead bodies had to be relocated. ….Some townsfolk say they didn’t get all the bodies and late at night you can see…. only kidding. They got pretty much all of them.
  • 4 towns were disincorporated during construction. From what I’ve read about disincorporation, it sucks. The government forces you to sell your land, home and all the stuff you can’t move — then floods it. If Newton ever has a vote for disincorporation, vote no!
  • The Quabbin is fed by the Swift River and took 7 years to fill once construction was complete. The reservoir is 150 feet deep.
  • While the Quabbin was slowly filling from 1939-1946, the reservoir was used by the Air Force as a precision bombing and gunnery range. This leads me to believe they didn’t remove ALL the dead bodies, had a bunch of zombies swimming around and needed to bomb them.
  • The Quabbin is only accessible by foot. The surrounding area is inhabited by bald eagles, moose, deer, bears, bobcats & yettis.
  • Water from the Quabbin is disinfected and treated several times before it arrives in Newton. Contaminants are removed, small amounts of chlorine & fluoride are added.
  • Newton residents use an average of 54 gallons per person/day. Average annual water cost per household is $719.

mct quab bomb 2.jpg

7/25/2013: Custom built-ins

Guest blog today from Leah Daly on her new living room built-ins.

We vetted 3 companies, looking for something that would fit in stylistically with the rest of the 1940 house. We ended up using Shaun Ritter, owner of Needham Woodworking. They were great — easy to work with and very professional.

They build the units off-site and install in one day; there was about a 6 week wait time for completion. During the initial consultation, we designed the unit together – Shaun was more than happy to revisit the design once we had thought about it some more and realized a few changes we wanted. He and his guys have a background in A/V, and so they also installed our TV and cable systems with the bookshelves. They will be back next week for touch-ups and to put on the knobs.

We were very impressed with their attention to the little details. They were able to match our somewhat uncommon molding, fitted molding to the front of the shelves, and use quality hardware inside of the doors (key if you have kids who might be prone to slamming things).

They do any kind of custom cabinetry, desks, etc. We would definitely hire them again if we were to do any more projects like this one.



7/17/2013: Nest thermostats

Super jazzed about this you guys.  Just installed a Nest thermostat in my never-ending quest for energy efficiency.  Guy that invented the ipod invented this thing too.  From ordering, to installing, to using Nest — it couldn’t be easier.

Nest is a smart thermostat that learns your schedule and programs itself to the temperatures you like.  Within a week, Nest will know that you like the house warmer when you wake up and cooler when you sleep.  When you’re out of the house, Nest will adjust the temperature to save you money — which could add up to a 20% savings on your monthly heating/cooling bills.

Start by ordering your Nest at http://www.Nest.com.  The thermostat costs $249, but there is an instant $100 savings through National Grid.  Just make sure you have your gas account # handy.  So $149 total.  Nest arrives in a few days.

Installation takes about 20 minutes.  Be sure to turn off the power of your thermostat (switch the breaker in the electrical panel — thank you, Leah).  Take off the faceplate of your existing thermostat and label the wires.  Should look like this.


Unscrew and take off thermostat plate.  You should have a hole in the wall with a few wires hanging out.  Install the Nest plate, then thermostat.

Nest will ask you for some basic info, then connect to your wireless network.  Once you’ve connected and downloaded the app onto your phone, you can change the house temp from anywhere.  Great when going & coming back from vacation.  This feature is Management approved.


7/9/2013: Slime mold

Want to know what that pile of yellow slime is in your mulch? It’s slime mold – more commonly known as “dog vomit slime mold.”

The mold appears after heavy rains, usually in mulch beds but also on grass. The good news is the mold will not harm grass or plants and is easily scooped up or sprayed away with a hose. The bad news is it looks like a dog puked in your yard.

After one of the wettest Junes on record, can’t say I’m surprised to see more mold this summer. Just wish it didn’t freak out the kids and anyone walking by our house.


7/2/2013: 1890 map of Randlett Park

Thanks to my old pal, Doug Tilberg, for sending this map of Randlett Park in 1890. This map by O.H. Bailey & Co. shows Randlett & Fairway as private roads that lead to either an estate or possibly the golf course clubhouse. Place must of looked like Downton Abbey. Which when you think about it, is really a show about people talking behind other people’s backs.

(Click for larger image)

1890 Randlett map

7/2/2013: Last blog about WB Randlett — I promise

Management came across some old Boston Globe articles with more info about The Chief.

WB first worked in the Milton Fire Department as an engineer creating a fire signal system.  He was later promoted to Assistant Chief and Fire Chief before joining the Newton Fire Dept in 1881.  WB was named Superintendent of the Fire Alarm System and later became Fire Chief when his boss, Henry Bixby, died in 1894.

WB served as Chief for 30 years.  He died in March 1924 as a result of inhaling amonia gas at a 2 alarm fire at the Newton Club.  Flags across Newton were flown at half mast and the Mayor attended his funeral.  WB’s son, Clarence, later became Fire Chief of Newton.

7/1/2013: Who was Walter Randlett?

Turns out he was a serial shoplifter in the early 20th century.  Used to “hit” Puttin on the Knitz in West Newton Square frequently.  Apparently stealing yarn was a thing back in the day.

Kidding gang.  Walter Brown (WB) Randlett was Newton’s first Fire Chief.  Born in 1853, WB became Fire Chief near the turn of the century and helped implement a telegraph fire alarm system in Newton.  Early telegraphs from Randlett read like this:

Your house is on fire (stop)

Get out (stop)

Randlett also had use of West Newton’s first Auto Car Fire Vehicle —  pictured below in 1911.  It’s good to be the chief.

Fire Chief Randlett

Fun fact: Newton fire prevention dates back to the 1630’s, when fire prevention rules were first issued.  By issued I mean a scroll nailed to a post in the middle of the village.  The first fire wards were established in 1818 and fire stations for each village constructed shortly thereafter.