Apartment Hunting and Questionable Designs


Ally and I are looking for an apartment. Getting an 2 bedroom apartment within walking distance of the Red Line is expensive, nearly 4 times as expensive as a mortgage on a 5 bedroom, 3 bath home in rural Michigan. So we are taking our time and scoping out various options. We have been on a handful of tours now. Nothing in particular has been striking thus far. Most of the places we have seen are floors of multi-family homes nestled tightly together on 1/16 acre plots. Somerville is a dense neighborhood. In one case we visited an actual 'apartment building', it was a bit old and showed its age in places. The broker from Coldwell hurried us through an apartment in the building in which a resident was present (illegal if the tenant object according to COVID regulations, I did not know prior someone would be there and/or if they wanted the broker to stop by). As I asked the broker if a particular component in the apartment worked, the resident looked me in the eye and nodded 'no'... the broker did not see this... the search continues.

As a general principle, I think it's good to ask questions even when things seem normal and satisfactory. Things can always be a bit better right? Or a bit safer? Perhaps the way we used to do that was inefficient? Dangerous?

I was looking at this building while on a run through Somerville. It's been around for decades. I was struck by the diameter of the supporting pillars underneath the building. Something in my head told me that the supports seemed inadequately built. I sat down at the dinner table later and calculated the critical load for buckling using some ol' statics knowledge from college. I made some assumptions and my 'back of the envelope' calculation showed me the building's supports have at least a safety factor of 5, which is not great but perhaps acceptable for static buildings that do not change in mass often. 

Another building I saw on my run had these signs outside. I feel like they probably got tired of updating the sign after a while...

COVID won't end immediately, it'll be weird first


Poster outside the MIT Z center
It'll be weird at first

Sometime in summer 2021

There's someone in the store without a mask. You think to yourself, "Oh bother, one of those people, I bet they're an antimasker... tsk"... you think for a moment about what you heard on the news last night. The governor announced that the vaccination rate in the state is at 65% and rising. And while public health officials state plainly and openly that mask use is still incredibly important and helps reduce spread, you find that many individuals choose to only wear masks when inside public buildings. Some people wear buttons that announce they are vaccinated. You wonder briefly if you still need to wear your mask, you received your last dose of the vaccine two weeks ago.

A few weeks later, you find yourself in the same store. You're picking up some apples when someone reaches past you to grab an orange. They aren't wearing a mask! But again you remember hearing the vaccination rate is at 73% in the state and rising. Public health officials are still stating the importance of mask use to reduce spread of all respiratory diseases. You live in a more well-off part of town. You're fairly certain this person reaching across you has received the vaccine by now. All your friends have gotten it. You still wear your mask. It's easy and the right thing to do right? It's not really a hassle and it keeps your face warm.

A few more weeks pass, you start getting invited to join old friends out to dinner at some of the restaurants that are still open in the nearby commercial area. Half of the businesses are closed and empty. You still wear your mask but it's hard finding another person at the store who wears one nowadays. CNN has stopped posting daily case rates and death numbers on the TV. People start talking about 'the end of COVID' when it's still very much a problem in other parts of the country and the world. You want to talk about COVID sometimes with friends but it just makes you so sad and cyanical. What else is there to talk about? You and your friends haven't seen each other in such a long time, that when you arrive at the restaurant you almost bump into them before you recognize each other. You laugh about it behind a facade of different emotions. You take off the mask to eat.

A couple more weeks pass, you forget your mask in the house as you leave. As you turn to retrieve it, you reconsider. "It'll be okay, I don't really need it right?". You go to the grocery store without it. There is some guilt and anxiety but it fades slowly away as you check out and leave.

COVID won't end immediately, it'll be weird at first

Synchronous Fireflies and Summer Plans

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