Periscope Depth

pattycake, pattycake, I'm the baker's man

Answer the questions in this post and I will reward you with spices from Araby, silks from Cathay.

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I did more than just witness a wedding this past Saturday, of course.

I hit up the Union Square Farmer’s Market for old time’s sake, buying fresh basil and haggling over a ciabatta loaf. I hadn’t intended to buy anything else, but when the butcher pointed out that only grass-fed beef went into her hot dogs I instantly bought a pack. At home, I grilled up some chicken and sandwiched it between the toasted ciabatta, along with the basil, some mozzarella and some tomato slices. I think the chicken pushed it over the edge, as the entire concoction kept threatening to disintegrate in my hands. But I still enjoyed it.

The next morning, per Mia’s recommendation, I toasted some ciabatta slices in the oven with mozzarella, basil and diced tomatoes for a homemade pizza. Just as delicious and much less messy.

So I have ciabatta, basil, tomatoes and grass-fed beef hot dogs in my fridge (mozzarella’s gone). And some grapes. What can I do with these ingredients?

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Non-Bostonians, pay attention: the Red Line, one of the main branches of Boston’s subway (the “T”), starts at Park Street near the Boston Common. It goes north into Cambridge, passing through MIT, Harvard and Tufts before ending at the Alewife T stop.

You see a lot of homeless people at the Park Street, Central Square and Harvard T stops, but significantly fewer at Porter or Kendall/MIT and almost none in Davis. Then you see a bunch of panhandlers at Alewife again, which always strikes me odd because you can’t really walk around Alewife. It’s one of those well-paved strip malls, designed to funnel cars into Dunkin Donuts and CVSs. When James Howard Kunstler talks about places not worth caring about, he means Alewife*.

Non-Bostonians: I have brought you up to speed.

Everyone: why do homeless people congregate at those T stops and not others? It costs the same amount of money to reach any of those stops. Harvard and Central get a lot of foot traffic, but Alewife gets almost none – the panhandlers there walk from car to car at the Route 2 interchange. Harvard has lots of students, but so does the Kendall/MIT stop. And if you want to rationalize about soft-hearted liberals at Harvard and their generosity to the homeless, let me stop you now: I have never once seen even the flakiest Cambridge Spartacist drop a dime in a beggar’s cup. Boston may slant left, but it’s the coldest left I’ve ever seen.

I want to know why homeless and transients favor certain neighborhoods over others. This would make an excellent project for a grad student, unless the student discovers that panhandling pays better than grad school and is less demeaning.

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Finally, I’ve seen a couple different car washes offering the following promotion in the last month: Ask How You Can Wash Your Car for $1 A Day. I presume this sign advertises some unlimited wash program – $30 a month, let’s say. I’ve seen this offer at several different chains all across Cambridge, Somerville and Watertown, so more than one franchise pushes it.

However, every time I stop and check the prices a little further, I see that you can get a quality car wash – wax, undercarriage rinse, the works – for about $15. So this $30/month plan only pays off if you wash your car more frequently than once every two weeks – in other words, for neurotics only.

Granted, you should not come to me for car wash advice – the rust stains on my hood promoted my car from Sturdy Traveler to out-and-out Beater about a year ago. But does this make sense to anyone else? Should you wash your car more than once every two weeks – more often than you fill its gas tank? If not, what gives?

* * *

Spices and silks, people. Tick tock.

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* You can reach Government Center, which Kunstler calls out in the linked video, on the Green Line.

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