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Five bike rides to check out around New Haven

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In 2020, I was sharing with you four perfect spots to go kayaking in New Haven to be socially distant from people. But 4000+ of you read it, bought a kayak, and now I cannot get drunk on my kayak without seeing my neighbours, or that clingy friend I told I was busy and now it’s awkward for you to see me not being that busy, or my ex (there is a reason we are exes Michael, don’t come too close!).

Now all New Haven are now avid kayakers, and I need to find another sport to be alone with my many, Many, MANY…. thoughts. We are all pretending the pandemic is over, but I still would like to pretend it’s because of Covid I don’t want to be too close to you.

Time for another sport! How do you feel about biking?

1 – The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail: bike & snack!

Running 81.2 miles, the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail (FCHT) is a pedestrian/bike path going from New Haven to Northampton in MA. Not unlike someone going through a rough phase changing their hair colour every few weeks to find some sense of control, the FCHT is Connecticut’s version of hair. First a canal linking New Haven to Northampton in 1835 (remove all the dirt!!), it became a railroad in 1847 (actually, put back all the dirt and add steel), and finally a trail in 1996 (never-mind, remove the steel!). The last section to connect Hillhouse Avenue to Long Wharf was extremely delayed since the original plan was to dig a tunnel under the FBI building (Italian Job anyone?) but is it currently under construction and should be delivered in 2023.

It is the perfect trail to go for a bike ride, with multiple entrances and exit, you can choose how much you want to bike! Here are my two recommendation for the trial:

New Haven to Hamden

Starting point: 17 Hillhouse Avenue
Distance: 16 miles, way and back
Duration: 1hr 20 min
Points of interest: Shepard Brook, York Hill, MiKro
More info and full map: fchtrail.org

Biking from New Haven to Sleeping Giant in Hamden is an awesome chunk of the trail, although the trail cross a lot of street exiting New Haven in Dixwell and Newhallville. Be careful at the crossings, the cars don’t always stop for bikers. On this section of the trail, you will bike by the marsh area of the Lake Whitney, you can refresh your feet in the Shepard Brook, and you can do a stop in the lovely forest backyard of a generous Hamden inhabitant who offers their property to the trail users.

And if you want a challenge, climb the hill at the 7.7 mile mark, all the way to the Quinnipiac University York Hill Campus! This one mile-long road has a 6% grade slope that will make you sweat, but the view on Sleeping Giant at the top is worth it, almost as much as the way down, flying like the wind!

As a reward, the brewery MiKro Depot, directly off the trail in the former train station is a perfect pit stop for a snack or a drink before heading back to The Have.

Make it a loop! Continue towards Sleeping Giant on Mt Carmet Avenue and come back to New Haven by Ridge Road (you will see amazing houses!) that will lead you all the way back to East Rock. The loop adds about 5 miles to this ride. Watch out, someone throw their full smoothy at me from a moving car on Ridge Road. It hit my leg and splashed the elderly man walking on the pavement next to me. I was mad at them at first but then I realized it was a kale smoothy so I understood. I would have probably throw it away too if I realized that high school kid at the juice bar added kale to my bro-smoothy…

Hamden to Cheshire

Starting point: Sleeping Giant
Distance: 14 miles, way and back
Duration: 1 hr 30 min
Points of interest: Lock 12, Wentworth ice cream shop
More info and full map: fchtrail.org

Alternatively, if you want to avoid the road crossings, I recommend parking at Sleeping Giant and biking all the way to Cheshire on the trail. This is the quietest part of the trail (it gets busy with 250,000 users per year!) and you can stop to see the Lock 12 Historical Park, the last visible part of the canal on the way there, and stop at Wentworth for some well deserved homemade ice cream on the way back!

2 – The wealth and privilege bike lane

My editor censured my thin blue line joke…. This is what republicans must feel like when CNN won’t air their problematic thoughts.
Starting point: 1 Prospect Street
Distance: $42B, one way
Duration: 2 min
Point of interest: realizing you are poor
More info: yalerespectnewhaven.org

We know Yale is rich, but did you bike it?

On Prospect street by Grove Cemetery, you can see how much Yale is paying in taxes (in red) and you can bike up toward Science Hill until you find the end of Yale Endowment (in blue)! Yale students, community advocates and Yale union members painted this in May 2021 as a message to the university in front of President Salovey’s current office “Yale: Respect New Haven”.

This month marks the 8-year anniversary of me moving to New Haven, and since I arrived, Yale endowment doubled. I don’t want to take full credit for it, but you’re welcome!

3 – Florida to Maine: the East Coast Greenway

You find the 81.2 miles of the FCHT a little too short? Fear not, the East Coast Greenway got you covered! Connecting 15 states and 450 cities and towns for 3,000 miles, this bike route can bring you from Maine to Florida!

Follow the little tree signs (the trail/roads are well marked!) and you will enjoy a delightful bike ride .

New Haven to Stratford

Starting point: Long Wharf
Distance: 20 miles, one way
Duration: 2 hrs
Points of interest: Long Wharf Nature Preserve, West Haven Boardwalk, 
Silver Sand State Park, the beach houses on the ocean front in Milford
More info and full map: greenway.org

I recommend starting on Long Wharf in New Haven where the bike path leads you through the Nature Preserve behind the highway to bring you to the West Haven boardwalk, the numerous beaches of Milford, the state park of Silver Sands with a view of Charles island. Perfect end of summer bike ride, pack a swimsuit and a towel and make numerous refreshing stops on the beach or grab a drink at Dockside Brewery by the Housatonic river.

As soon as you cross the Washington Bridge in Stratford, the pleasant beach towns where you biked turn into a highway nightmare and I would advice to just turn around before the bridge to go back, or catch a ride back with the Metro North at the Stratford train station.

4 – I don’t care where we go as long as it’s a party: the New Haven Bike Parties!

Distance: About 10 miles loops, multiples stops
Duration: Around 1h30
Meeting point and theme: facebook.com/newhavenbikeparty

Every second Friday night of the month, it’s party time! New Haven Bike Party time!

Starting at different points and going through different routes each month, Bike Party is first and foremost a PARTY! There is music, and costumes and all kinds of celebrating (mostly yelling “BIKE PARTY” at every soul you cross)! Riders dress up (there is a different theme each month) and pimp their rides with lights, flags, and other elaborate decorations. The goal is to engage with the biking and local community, and discover neighborhoods you might not have been to before.

5 – Around East Rock Park: the Pardee Rose Garden

Starting point: Orange St
Distance: 5 miles, loop
Duration: 40 min
Point of interests: Rice field, Pardee Rose Gardens and its
glass greenhouses, many deers!
More info: newhavenct.gov/ Rose Garden

Tired of hiking up East Rock? Yeah me too! What about a loop around it?

Turn right at the Orange St bridge and pass the baseball field and continue around the park on State St (heavy car traffic here!). Turn left onto Park Road and you will get to see the impressive glass greenhouses of the Pardee Rose Gardens (if you use headphones for your ride, here is the perfect soundtrack). Spanning 2 acres, the garden features an array of flowers from early spring until mid fall.  Outside of these dates, it’s a barren wasteland, but it’s the other side of East Rock, what did you expect? We should just go through with the annexing plan…

Continue to the back entrance of the park and start your climb. After the second turn in the climb, turn left at the closed road (watch out for the chain!) and enjoy a gentle ride down the tortious road all the way back to the Rice Field. Don’t go too fast on the road, there is a lot of hikers, especially by the stairs, and many deers. Bike vs Deer, the odds are not good for your front wheel!

Podcast Episode 40: Making It With Stefano & Shawn

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Local actor and comic Stefano Sanzo joins comic and writer Shawn Murray to talk about what it means to “make it” and what we want out of writing, comedy, acting, etc. What does success look like? How hard are you willing to chase your dreams? And who wants to be Batman?

Direct link to newsletter subscribers: https://share.transistor.fm/e/4a5cf9f0

My Experience Flying Tweed to Chicago

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In Fall 2021, Avelo Airlines arrived in New Haven’s Tweed Airport, replacing American Airlines service to Philadelphia and then other, more expensive places from Philadelphia.

Avelo came to New Haven with promises of all of the wonderful parts of Florida you could see.

Tampa! Orlando! Miami! Well, Fort Lauderdale. Miami-ish!

Picture of Orlando with Orlando Over It
ORLANDO

In a moment of clear desperation, the execs down at Avelo probably thought to themselves, what about the elusive under-70 crowd? Where do they want to fly?

So in Spring 2022, Avelo added destinations to non-Florida states.

Nashville! That’s a real place for sure! Raleigh?! I hear good things.

City of Raleigh
So this is where they make Linux!

One of those locations which I’d never visited: Chicago, Illinois!

After all the Covid time alone, and also my passport expired at some point in there when I wasn’t really paying super close attention.

So it was time to book a flight somewhere, anywhere! So let me tell you all about my experience flying out of our fair city, New Haven and also East Haven a bit.

Parking is Expensive, But Ubers Are… Not as Expensive

Listen, I’m not sure if you’ve heard about inflation, but prices are wild right now.

Parking at Tweed is $15-25 per day depending on how far you want to walk. I was going for a week, which adds up pretty fast.

Tweed parking map
Tweed trying to erase walk speed diversity here

Uber got more expensive, but not $50 expensive.

I had no problem finding an Uber to take me and drop me off at the location.

Tweed Provides Fast Security, No-Frills Experience

Security took five minutes. It doesn’t get much easier than that. I can’t speak to your experience but it’s hard to imagine a significant wait.

Tweed had like two and a half seating areas and a G Cafe, which is a considerable upgrade over the previous restaurant, an old vending machine.

Vending Machine
“Ah, yes, I’ll have the Snickers and the lady will have the Twix.”

Sandwiches, coffee, etc. It’s fine!

No airport bar, though, so you’ll just have to show up drunk I guess.

Avelo Provides Flight and Nothing Else

Avelo Airlines Ad
That seems like… not… enough…

I haven’t really flown a ton of discount airlines in the United States, so I don’t know what’s normal, but as far as in-flight amenities, they provided: several garbage bags.

That’s it. Which is fine! It was cheap! One of my chair-neighbors asked for a water towards the end of the flight which they very begrudgingly gave him. It’s fine. It’s a two hour flight. Read a book!

Avelo Airlines
Oh, you thought you were gonna take one of those air-conditioned tunnel things?

So just bring your own water, snacks, etc. The folks were fine but Avelo is just gonna get you there and get you back and they’re not gonna like smile at you about it.

Which is fine. I’m from Connecticut also and do not feel like smiling.

Chicago is a Cool City

You should check out Chicago! It’s a cool city! Great architecture, cool big lake (Lake Michigan), lots of comedy, public transportation directly to/from Midway Airport. Enormous bars you would never be able to have in New York. The legendary Second City and its legendary ticket prices.

Josh and Elvira at Second City
I also got to see Friend of the Blog (and Me!) Elvira in Chicago yayyyyyy

Dispensaries.

I recommend one of the Chicago River Architecture Boat Tours. I didn’t even know how cool architecture could be until I went to Chicago! I texted my friend Dan about how amazing it was and he accused me of being very high. Whatever. It’s awesome. Good architecture. 10/10.

Wrigley Building and Chicago River
It was the 4th of July so not sure if they love America like all the time or just around this time

Also, there’s a beach! In Chicago! Like, several! It’s wild! You’re just hanging out in this lake and also there’s skyscrapers everywhere.

Chicago Beach
It is surreal to be at a beach next to some skyscrapers. Strongly recommend experiencing this.

Also, check out the Chicago Art Institute. They have pretty famous art from pretty famous artists.

No Uber Allowed on Way Home

For whatever reason, Tweed doesn’t let Uber pick up drivers at Tweed. I’m sure it’s some totally legitimate cartel of cab drivers or something.

Someone told me Lyft works but I am boycotting them due to this incident with the bike share and some accusations they made about whether or not I returned said bike.

Crime scene
Please stand back there’s nothing to see here the Lyft lock just has not engaged and there is an active criminal investigation

I dragged my luggage across the street which was… not that fun. But then I could get an Uber. It was probably 20 bucks.

What About the Noise

Oh, I bet it’s not great.

Neighbors have been letting Tweed know that for whatever reason they aren’t a huge fans of the increased noise and smell of jet fumes wafting through their pie-laden windows.

Pie cooling on window sill
A world without Tweed, probably

Long-time readers will know about my affinity for Lighthouse Point Park. And I have definitely noticed a significant increase in flights departing New Haven, as well as the size and noise of those jets.

But hey how many beaches can you watch airplanes take off? Probably some!

For the record, I am sorry for contribution to the increased noise and pollution, but I will say: It was really convenient for me and I am not that good of a person.

Robot Shrugging

Why Connecticut Beaches Are Better Than Rhode Island Beaches

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Whenever someone asks, “What’s the best beach in Connecticut,” the predictable beach snob response is, “Go to Rhode Island.”

After all, Connecticut’s water isn’t even technically the ocean. It’s an estuary. It connects to both rivers and the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike Rhode Island, which gets pure ocean, despite not being an Island at all.

Long Island Sound highlighted in pink
Hmmmmmm

Before you pack your bags for Misquamicut, let me make a counter-argument, though:

Connecticut beaches are better, sort of!

Here’s why.

1. Warmer Water

This is 90% of my argument right here. At the end of the day, going to the beach isn’t just about sitting in the sun and looking at cool-ass waves.

Giant Wave with Sunglasses
Why would I do this

It’s about getting relief from the heat by swimming in the ocean estuary.

The water temperature in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, as of this writing on July 18th, 2022, is 68F.  It’s 68. It’s not terrible. But it’s not that good, either.

It’s mid-July. Three weeks ago it was 63! What is this, some kind of Polar Ice Challenge?

The water temperature in New Haven, Connecticut right now? 72 degrees.

Lighthouse Point Park with Sunglasses On It
Presented without comment (Photo courtesy Daphne Swiateck, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Beautiful. Perfect, even. Cold enough to be refreshing, warm enough to not feel like you’re slowly dying as you enter the water.

2. No Sea Monsters

You know what lives in the Atlantic Ocean? Great White Sharks. Killer Whales. Porcupine Crabs. Octopus… es.

Who knows. You can’t see! But we’ve all seen Jaws. You know where Jaws is set? On an island. In the very same Atlantic Ocean.

C'thulu
No sunglasses cause there is nothing cool about this typical Atlantic Ocean Sea Creature

If the movie Jaws was set in Long Island Sound it would just be some kid getting stung by a jellyfish.

3. Beach Traffic

You know what my favorite part of the beach is? The two-and-a-half hour drive home on I-95. So fun. So good for the Earth.

Traffic with Sunglasses

Good thing you just spent all day in the sun, I’m sure you’ll be at your most alert for this monotonous ride home!

It takes me 20 minutes to get home from Lighthouse Point in New Haven. Twenty minutes.

That extra two hours and ten minutes I get? I can do anything with it.

Build a bench. Scale a skyscraper. Eat ice cream until my tummy hurts.

Strawberry Ice Cream
Good luck eating this in your Honda CR-V

The possibilities are endless and every single one of them involves me eating ice cream and you sitting in traffic.

4. No Waves = Relaxation Mode

You ever wanna just lie in the sea, staring up at the sky, wondering how it’s possible that throughout all the billions of stars and galaxies and endless satellite planets you are consciously aware of yourself right here right now in this moment alone in the universe —

Oh never mind you got hit by a wave. You were about to achieve nirvana. I guess you’ll never have enlightenment now.

Will Ferrell spilling wine on himself while crying

Waves? You gotta pay attention to waves. I don’t want my beach to slap me or knock me over. I respect myself enough to know what I want out of an ocean estuary.

Long Island Sound is chill. it’s so chill you can literally just sit your butt right down in the water and enjoy a fun little sit-down hang-out with your pals.

5. We Didn’t Invent Rhode Island Clam Chowder

Seriously, Rhode Island. What’s your problem? Why would you do this?

Rhode Island Clam Chowder
angry face emoji

New England Clam Chowder is perfect. Why would you ruin it with a clean broth? “Oh people really want to see the clams” nobody asked for this.

OK, that’s my argument. And, I admit, it’s not very good.

But I am lazy and my beach is right here and the beach you like is in another state???? Cool have fun see you on 95 I’ll be waving from the Ice Cream Shoppe.

But Isn’t Long Island Sound Polluted?

I’m so glad you asked! Actually, it’s not bad! Obviously, west of Bridgeport isn’t great, but honestly, isn’t that all rich people anyway? Am I supposed to feel bad for them??

Long Island Sound Grades
Look at those appealing shades of safe green water

The little part with the red is where New Yorkers pay $4,000/month to live on purpose!

OK, I’m Convinced! Where Should I Go?

  1. Hammonasset (Madison): Nice sand, loooonnggg beach, rotaries everywhere
  2. West Haven: The boardwalk area is cool, and parking is surprisingly cheap. Low tide is rough though.
  3. Rocky Neck (East Lyme): Fills up pretty fast though
  4. Silver Sands (Milford): It’s free and it’s definitely there, it’s not the best and it’s not the worst! I’ve had much worse things said about myself
  5. Lighthouse Point Park (New Haven): It’s $25 for ppl who don’t live in New Haven but who cares about those ppl

New exhibition – The Quantum Revolution: Handcrafted in New Haven

This is it y’all… Like a 24/7 diner hostess working night shifts lighting up a cigarette from their second pack of the day to fell any rush of nicotine, I need to increase my dose of approval to satisfy my ever expending ego. My mum’s unconditional approval is not enough anymore. I need MORE!

Writing on this blog is like a gateway drug. You start feeling the rush of endorphin with each hate comment on my Between Two Rocks satirical posts but I now need even more… Don’t get me wrong, approval from New Haven people is great, but when I see you all crawl out of the bars on Crown Street on Saturday night, I think I need to find a drug that’s not laced with Sunday morning regrets.

You know what I need? The approval of respectable audience! The kind that goes to the farmers market at the opening and make homemade kombucha. The kind of audience that has a New Yorker tote bag and a pile of said New Yorkers unread in the bathroom. The kind of audience that listens to NPR with their colleagues in the car but shamefully switches to KC101 when alone.

I think I am going to have to do it. I think I will have to partner with a dusty museum to showcase a difficult topic and use a color palette for the design of the show coming straight from an emo hot topic t-shirt from early 2000s…

Introducing: The Quantum Revolution – Handcrafted in New Haven, showing at the New Haven Museum from April 13 to September 16, 2022.

Let me catch you up! I’m a French rocket scientist turned manager of a research center on quantum science with a passion for arts & science. When I meet new people, I usually get asked what I do for a living. “I manage the Yale Quantum Institute and I work with quantum physicists”. Almost every time, I am met with blank stares and awkward silences. (The rest of the time, they call me a nerd and give me a wedgie…).

Quantum physics seems so abstract and foreign that it paralyzes my interlocutors, forcing them out of this fascinating subject. The lack of exposure to quantum physics and the cultural assumption it is one of the most complex subjects in physics might be the reasons why people are so reluctant to discuss this topic. When I think about quantum physics, I get excited about cats being dead and alive at the same time, spooky actions at a distance, entanglements… In 2016, when I became the manager of the Yale Quantum Institute (YQI), I wanted the outreach programing to be for everyone, something fun and accessible. And full of art!

Reading “Quantum Physics for babies” in the Yale Quantum Institute laboratories. Photo by Lotta Studio.

 

I met Martha W. Lewis, a New Haven based visual artist, at one of the City Wide Open Studio weekends organized by Artspace (CWOS happens every October, highly recommend!) when she showcased her work in her studio at Erector Square in Fair Haven. Her practice draws from human knowledge and history of science, and she makes, among other artwork, these beautiful abstract landscapes expending technical drawings of parts and schematic into mesmerizing pieces. I hired her as YQI first artist-in-residence in 2017 for which she developed an installation that was showcased at the Arts & Ideas Festival. Since, we continued to work together on art and book projects and on radio shows… Her amazing talent fuels my theater kid personae.

During her residency at YQI, she documented the work performed by quantum researchers (from experimentalists tinkering in the lab, theorist writing equations on whiteboards, to the group discussions in the seminar room) in a series of pencil drawings in her notebooks. Including beautiful portraits of our famous “fridges”.

Martha Lewis’ notebooks

Two of the laboratories YQI has under its umbrella (we have a total of 23 research groups working on all topics in quantum science and information) are focusing on superconducting qubits: the circuit board of quantum computers! This new technology would be able to outperform any classical computers. You might have already heard of quantum computers in the news thanks to the recent technology breakthroughs of Tech Giants like Google or IBM, or from you drunk uncle who wants you to invest in his new own crypto coin because you know… bitcoin disruptive quantum NFT blockchain! I’m sure your uncle is great but stop listening to your family for quantum computers info, stick to the science news sites.

The only teeny-tinny very small practical detail with superconducting qubits is that… they need to be cool down to ABSOLUTE ZERO to function. Yep! That damn quantum computer won’t boot Windows Vista if it’s not at -259F… To give you an idea of how cold this is, outer space is warmer!

The dilution fridges are like Matryoshka dolls (a fridge, inside a fridge, inside a fridge…) that host and cool down superconducting qubits to perform quantum experiments. This is what it looks like: left is “Tennessee”, open and warm (you can see its cans on the right hand side), right is “Vericold”, canned, cold, and running experiments. Photos by Jessica Smolinski.

Hence our fridges. Our students and researchers are using dilution refrigerators to cool down their experiment to almost absolute zero to perform their quantum experiments. The quantum lab started at Yale in the late 1990s with a single fridge called “Kelvinox” and a handful of researchers. Today, they built and run 17 other fridges, became one of the largest academic quantum computing groups in the world, and trained the majority of the superconducting qubit researchers in the quantum workforce. All that from our quint little town known for her pizzas.

The Quantum White Clam Appiza T-shirt

Since they started this field of study, researchers had to build their own prototypes from scratch and the handcrafted nature of each device gives the individual fridges a unique look, function, and characteristics, which prompted Martha to create “family portraits” of these chilly mechanisms. Her portrait are beautifully printed on large metallic sheets and displayed in the museum along cavities, qubits and substrates scattered around the exhibition.

Martha’s pencil drawing of a dilution refrigerators (in order: Badger, Blue, and Dreadnought)

The star of the show is Badger, a dilution fridge built in 2002 in the Becton laboratories on Prospect Street. It famously ran the world’s first two-qubit algorithms with a superconducting quantum processor in 2009. This might sound hard to understand but this was an important technological breakthrough. My boss explicitly forbid me to say this could be seen as the first heartbeat of a quantum computer. So I am not saying it. I AM NOT SAYING IT!

What I am saying is that experiments hosted inside Badger were the prototypes upon which all the current superconducting devices in the lab are built. And I’m saying that all the other quantum laboratories and industry leaders (Google, IBM, Intel…) across the world have since hired all our graduates, widely adopted this technology, and incorporated it in their commercial quantum computers. Our New Haven researchers must have done something right!

We are today at the very early stages of quantum computing, at the juncture when a quantum computers takes up a whole room, and yet is barely capable of an infinitesimal fraction of the computational power of your smartphone. But we are getting there and you should be very excited! In the next 5 to 10 years, we should all see quantum computers outperform any of our most powerful classical computers with applications in cybersecurity, to develop better drugs, optimize complex systems like airline scheduling or improve modeling for weather forecasting.

And probably for a lot of porn… After all, have you seen the phallic shape of that computer?

Badger, the decommissioned dilution fridge who ran the world’s first demonstration of two-qubit algorithms with a superconducting quantum processor in 2009. Photo by Jessica Smolinski.

Since the begin of the article, I’ve thrown fridges names at you. Blue, Dreadnought, Vericold, Tennessee…. Researchers working on their fridges become really attached to their experiments. Human empathy is powerful, and I remember vividly the reaction of one of the researchers who was very offended when I “badmouthed” one of their fridges. There is something extraordinarily special about this relationship. The devotion and love of researcher towards their dilution fridge is a key element of the development of this technology. And they give them names! The exhibition at the museum is also an excuse to discover the delightful stories behind these names (which is truly the best part of the show!). I’ll reveal the story for Badger here, but you will have to come to the museum for the other names!

In 2011, Badger catastrophically broke down. Repairing it would be long and painful, and researchers let Badger sat, warm and unrepaired for a year and a half to use the other new and more efficient fridges. Two researchers, Ioan Pop and Clarke Smith, were courageous enough to try to repair it, but when opening up the device, much to their dismay, they found Badger had much more complex problems requiring even more extensive work than they thought. During the repair, Nick Masluk showed Clarke this viral video:

 

Like the stung honey badger, the fridge woke up from its massive operation like nothing had ever happened (“Badger don’t care!”), and Clarke decided to name it after the very resilient, poisonous snake eating mammal. Yes, that very high-tech quantum device is named after a meme… This is the kind of information you would not see in the Nature peer-reviewed article about the experiment in Badger!

And therefore, the most important equation to ever come out of a research lab since E=mc2 is:

cutting edge tech + viral video = best fridges names ever

This silly video is actually the reason why I wanted to learn about the stories behind the other names (amongst them Moonshine, Lazarus, Smeagol, The Grechka…). For the last two years, I interviewed current and formers researchers, and realized there were something special here. Something untold that I would like to share with everyone.

Martha and I worked on the exhibition narrative, collected (and saved from the trash!) laboratory devices and artifacts to display, researched their use and function, fact checked all the details, designed the look and feel of the show, and created a beautifully illustrated exhibition companion catalog… Oh and soooo much copy editing and back and forth with the Museum. So much!! But it was all worth it.

You cannot imagine how proud I am of this exhibition. It has been a very challenging project to pull off. We made the show is visually sticking to distract you from the fact you’re actually learning! I  hope you will come visit the show and that it will make you to learn more about quantum science. Or at least, not fear it as much.

Thank you to the New Haven Museum for hosting this exhibition. Special thanks to Jason Bischoff-Wurstle and Katie Piascyk for their invaluable help on this project.

Disclaimer: Some scientific details have been altered here for humorous purposes.

Exhibition details

____

The Quantum Revolution: Handcrafted in New Haven

Explore Quantum science from the Yale Quantum Institute and view original artwork from Artist-In-Residence Martha Willette Lewis.

In the late 1990s, a small revolution started in New Haven. Experimentalists and theorists at Yale started to focus their attention on quantum mechanics to leverage its properties to build a new type of computer that could, in theory, overpower any of the current computers. After a decade of hard work and several technological breakthroughs, these researchers ran in 2009 the world’s first demonstration of two-qubit algorithms with a superconducting quantum processor inside a dilution refrigerator called Badger.

With this exhibition, we hope to show you what an incredible set of achievements this is. Scattered around the room are cavities, qubits, and substrates (the nuts and bolts of quantum architecture), all invented and handcrafted in New Haven by generations of researchers. The handcrafted nature of each device gives individual fridges a unique look, function, and characteristics, which prompted YQI Artist-in-Residence Martha Willette Lewis to create “fridge portraits” of these chilly mechanisms. For over 20 years, researchers in New Haven have built strong, meaningful relationships with their machines. Each fridge has a unique name, function, and story that we invite you to discover here.

Curator: Florian Carle

Artist: Martha W Lewis

Photography: Florian Carle & Jessica Smolinski

Scientific Consultant: Zhixin Wang

New Haven Museum, 114 Whitney Avenue

Open Wed, Th, Fri, 10 am to 5 pm; Sat, 12 noon to 5 pm

Masks are required

https://www.newhavenmuseum.org/

Episode 39: David Valentino

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Local New Haven history buff/gay citizen David Valentino comes in to talk economic redevelopment and life in New Haven in general.

Link to the episode for newsletter subscribers:

  • Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/between-two-rocks/id1361191097?mt=2
  • Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/6DugrLlJM1cB2ScwzbUlL2?si=ByC21BYUT2GIamx9eqAvOQ
  • Social landing page: https://share.transistor.fm/s/9142bb53

My Favorite Veggie Dishes in New Haven

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Being a vegetarian is hard, which is why I only do it sometimes, when I feel like it.

But not every bar and restaurant provides fantastic vegetarian options. For many pubs, you’ll be lucky to get a veggie burger which disintegrates when you glance at it or a quesadilla which makes your seasonal depression come back.

Don’t worry, though. I’m here to spice up your life with some hot veggie recommendations.

“But Josh, isn’t unhealthy to eat out all the time?” Who are you my doctor enough with the questions.

Claire’s Corner Copia: Fire Island Sandwich

Claire’s entire menu is excellent and has a ton of amazing vegetarian and vegan options. However, the Fire Island Sandwich maintains a special place in my heart because it does something vegetarian cuisine has a hard time doing: making a really good, satisfying sandwich.

Technically, it’s more of an open-faced sandwich drenched in cheese. But I count it.

It also does the buffalo chicken-like flavor very well. Did I mention it’s covered in cheese. Or vegan cheese, if you’re better than me.

Burrito
This is actually a burrito because I couldn’t find a picture of the sandwich and I’m not a real journalist.

The only downside is they don’t serve it with fries, but it’s a pretty huge sandwich and you’re not likely to walk away thinking you missed out on a pile of fries.

Location: 1000 Chapel St, New Haven, CT 06510

Order online: https://www.grubhub.com/restaurant/claires-corner-copia-1000-chapel-st-new-haven

Ninth Square Market Too Caribbean Style: Combo Plates

First of all, great name.

If you consider the quality of a restaurant by the sheer quantity of words, this is definitely one of the best restaurants in New Haven.

This lil’ hole-in-the-wall across from the Abandoned LiveWorkLivePlay Dream Parking Lot serves a variety of Caribbean-style vegan food and it’s all shockingly good. You pick a few proteins for like 10-12 bucks and you get this huge plate full of stuff. Last time I got these things which were not pork ribs but they were so much like pork ribs I was like am I… is this okay?

Veggie Plate
I can name two, maybe three of the items in here.

Location: 89 George St, New Haven, CT 06510

Order online: https://www.caribbeanstylevegan.com/

Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant: Lunch Buffet

Did you know that the unassuming Ethiopian restaurant right next to downtown stalwart Prime 16 actually has a very good lunch buffet for something like 12 bucks on weekdays?

And did you know that a fair amount of Ethiopian food is quite good, quite vegetarian, and also you get to eat that delicious sponge bread?

Ethiopian Food
Mmm… stuff… on the… bread… thing…

There’s just something about eating with your hands that makes you realize you’re nothing but decaying organic matter on a flying space rock.

They have meat dishes as well if you’re in mixed company.

Location: 176 Temple St, New Haven, CT 06510

Order online: https://www.grubhub.com/restaurant/lalibela-ethiopian-restaurant-176-temple-st-new-haven

They also have a food truck that’s probably somewhere.

Rawa: Hummus

Hummus? Really?

Yes. Hummus.

Normally, when you’re at a bar they have some basic hummus and old carrots and you order it to be healthy and you eat it and it makes you realize you really didn’t need to put on real pants for this.

Yet Rawa has mastered a seemingly basic dish and elevated it to something I actually order out at a restaurant. It’s that’s good.

 

Hummus
College was a pretty weird time for me

It’s not some fancy garlic-and-pepper-with-artichokes-and-heirloom-kittens or whatever hummus.

It’s just plain, awesome hummus.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try out Rawa’s dip sampler. They’ve got baba ganoush. They’ve got mujaddara. They’e got some avocado dip that isn’t Middle Eastern at all but who cares we all love avocados.

Location: 838 Whalley Ave, New Haven, CT 06515

Order online: https://www.rawainc.com/online-ordering

Rudy’s: Meatless Nugget Wrap

If you create a product called a Meatless Nugget Wrap, I will eat that product. If only to respect the absolute audacity of creating something called a Meatless Nuget and charging money for it. Goddamnit I’m in.

You know what? Pretty good, actually. And you get frites. With the aioli sauce.

Rudy's Fake Chicken Wrap
Since I don’t drink, I would probably pair this with a nice apple juice

Which means you can get Samurai Sauce which is the best sauce and there will be no arguments at this time.

Location: 1227 Chapel St, New Haven, CT 06511

Order online: https://www.grubhub.com/restaurant/rudys-1227-chapel-st-new-haven

Food Mart on Whalley Ave

I don’t exactly know what this corner store is called, but it’s my corner store and it’s on Whalley Avenue and it sells two egg-and-cheese sandwiches for three dollars.

Let me repeat that. This store sells two egg-and-cheese sandwiches in the year 2022 for three dollars.

Egg and Cheese Sandwich
You can also get it on a roll!

Is it the greatest egg-and-cheese sandwich you’ve ever had in your life? Well, I don’t know you. But, no.

Still, for three bucks. Are you kidding?

Good place to buy Rap Snacks, too.

Location: 538 Whalley Ave, New Haven, CT 06511

Order online: LOL

Honorable Mention: Firehouse 12

Okay, so people have been telling me to eat at Firehouse 12 for a long time. Which I haven’t done. Because Firehouse 12 was like one of my spots back when I was a professional Elm City Drunk. So it’s like… I don’t know, not a restaurant in my brain?

People tell me their vegan menu is bomb, though. People tell me things. So you should check it out.

Location: 45 Crown St, New Haven, CT 06510 though their website says they might be closed?? Idk.

Order online: https://firehouse12.eatzy.com/menu


What do you think? Did I miss anything? Do you just hate vegetables and need some kind of Meat List? Are you upset it isn’t just a list of pizzas?

Let me know.

Aerial Guided Tour of New Haven’s Abandoned Industrial Buildings

Yes I know, you are surprised! Finally an article on that blog that is ACTUALLY about New Haven… Taking actions in my own hand, I am here to bring back the NHV content while our lovely editor Josh uses any excuses to talk about non-New Haven related stuff, like his cool comic life in New York, or some other TRIVIAL subjects like mopeds or his crippling depression.

I want to bring you on an aerial tour of my favourite abandoned buildings of New Haven. What are my qualifications? Well… I have a drone and a lot of time to kill…

The city had a vibrant industrial past (New Haven was world famous for their clocks and Winchester firearms; told you had time to kill) but consolidation and modernization of industries, delocalization, and the building of I-95 highway through New Haven cut off entire industrial blocks and lead to the departure of many company and you can nowadays see buildings slowly deteriorating if you go for a walk down Chapel Street past Wooster Square and the overpass.

Saving the buildings, or at least recording the history of these building, is becoming a strong concern of a lot of people like Film Director Gorman Bechard who is making a crowd-sourced documentary on the Hamilton Building, New Haven Museum Curator Jason Bishoff-Wurtle who made an exhibition called Factory about the industrial past of New Haven, or Professor of Urbanism Elihu Rubin who runs community-based and student-driven research projects like New Haven Industrial Heritage Trails, the New Haven Building Archive or the Yale Urban Media Project. If you want to hear about their work, two of them were guests on the Between Two Rocks podcast (Bechard on Episode 31, Bishoff-Wurtle on Episode 35). Look at me, making synergistic blog posts!

But after all, this article is mostly an excuse to justify to my friends that living under a highway bridge near the Mill District River is rather cool, and I hope all the fancy drone footage I took will be enough to make them stop calling me a “bridge troll”.

The New Haven Clock Company Factory building

133 Hamilton St

When you talk about factory buildings, the royalty of all factory buildings is the New Haven Clock Company building on Hamilton Street! This building had many many lives. It was built in 1866 to host the clock factory where 1,500 workers, mostly immigrants made clock which were exported all over the world.

Fun fact, I grew up near the clock given by New Haven to her sister city Avignon in France (Place de l’Horloge, town hall building) before moving next to the factory that made it. Yes, you are right, I managed to turn an article about old buildings in a foreign country all about myself. It’s called talent!

The New Haven’s plans for the urban renewal of Wooster Square were enacted in 1958 and marked the end of the clock factory. While the plan did not include the destruction of the building, the factory closed a few years later.

Since, the building was used as a rave site where the Yale School of Architecture students hosted Sex Balls in the 1980s, multiples clubs that changed with the musical areas (punk and then R&B), an indoor skate park (it was basically Jordan’s without the ugly furniture), and in the 1990s, it became the largest LGBTQ club of the State with hot tubes in the courtyard! Nowadays the best you can do it get a covid igloo in a back alley… And finally, it was a strip club/steakhouse (meat on display at Score I guess) which was more or less squatting the factory and was forced to vacate the building in 2019 with $57,000 in back rent, that the eviction lawsuit stipulates, must be paid in singles. Make it rain baby!

Currently, the building is plan to undergo a massive clean up (bye-bye radium!) and will be turned, thanks to a $4M+ brownfield state investment, into a mixed-used building. For those not aware of this concept, a mixed building is a term used by investors when they want State or Federal grants and cannot really tell them they want to just build luxury condos for profit. So they say mixed and add to their renovation plans a coffee shop and an artist studio between the 500+ new $3000/m studio rentals, and highlight the one and only tiny affordable residential unit tucked in the back by the garbage chute (if possible with a separate entrance!).

A documentary about the building is currently getting filmed and should be release in late 2022.

The English Station

510 Grand Avenue

The English Station, sitting silently on Ball Island (a former lumberyard in the early 1800s) on the Mill River is probably one of the most prominent industrial building, visible from the Q Bridge when you enter New Haven. It was named after James Edward English, Governor of CT in the mid-19th century and prolific industrial who retired from the lumber business and purchased a bankrupt clock factory in 1853, re-established the business, and turned it into the biggest clock company of the world (hint hint).

Built in 1929, the United Illuminating power plant burnt coal and later oil, until the Harbor Station built in 1974 on the East Shore made it obsolete. It ran as a reserve power plant during period of high energy demand until the 1990s, and got sold in 2000. After a fail attempt to reboot the power plant in the early 2000s, an environment study highlighted an incredible amount of pollutants and UI kindly and generously offered to clean the site after the State sued them (bye-bye PCBs!). Any respectable abandoned building ought to be sued at some point, otherwise, you’re not really a New Haven building!

And for the last 20+ years now, UI is trying to clean the site to the bare legally-required minimum possible (the building would be safe if you stay less than 6.7 hours a week inside, so maybe not that safe?) while the current  owner who, you guessed it, wants to renovate the power plan into a mixed building (*cough* luxury flats with a coffee shop *cough*). UI, the current owner, and the State are in a deadlock arguing during environment meetings how much to clean and who will pay (probably us…). More info can be found in the New Haven Independent article of May 2021.

 

I am not sure what they are going to do with this beautiful building, but trying to make a place you can only stay a few hours a week profitable is going to be a challenge… Maybe some “health” guru can invent the new craze and open a polychlorinated biphenyl spa!

The English station remains one of my favourite spots in town (what can I say, I like toxic relationships) and you feel so small when you kayak on the Mill River around Ball Island and this silent giant. Silent but deadly.

Special mention: New Haven Armory

290 Goffe Street

Photo courtesy of Art Space – Taken during the City Wide Open Studio in 2018

 

Sorry no drone footage of the New Haven Armory, it is located too close to the New Haven Correctional Center and I was rather scared the guard would shoot my drone down (thinking I was filming policy brutality…?).

Located on Goffe St, this former gun factory was turned once a year into an art exhibition space thanks to Art Space’s City Wide Open Studio in October before the building became too decrepit to be safe for public. Bummer, it was a very cool space!

Outside, you can still see the 2017 art installation Pool Noodles by mathematicians/artists Dan Gries and Dan Bernier, and the students of the Common Ground School who used pool noodles to create a mosaic made of cut pool noodles. It’s always fun to walk by the building and look at the windows.

Tidal Marsh and the abandoned part of Cedar Hill Train Yard

200 Universal Dr, North Haven

On Sundays, you go to Target (Don’t lie, I see the lines out the door!)

On Sundays, I go behind the Target parking lot. (Not helping my Troll status…)

Located at the intersection of New Haven, North Haven and Hamden, if you follow the markers of the Tidal Marsh Trail, you will find hidden in the outgrown vegetation an extensive network of decommissioned train tracks, overhead lines, light poles, and switch towers. Built in the early 1890s, Cedar Hill Yard was a classification yard at the intersection of the New York, Hartford, and Boston train lines, to dispatch the freight onto their correct tracks. The Yard was expended and extensively used during the two World Wars (nothing like a good global war to boost the local economy, Shop Small might consider starting a major conflict, just saying).

Cedar Hill Yard in 1977 – Photo by Jack Boucher, National Park Services

History footnote, on August 29, 1928, the Yard was the stage of an attempted sabotage on an express train to steal the $2M worth ($30M with inflation today) of gold with spiked on the tracks. A yard employee stopped the train in time at only 30 feet from the spike. New Haven was like the Far-West with renegades attacking trains for gold! I feel the need to start wearing boots with spurs and chew tobacco!

And like the rest of New Haven industrial buildings, in the 1970s, the yard started to be successively sold to companies trying to make it work with the dwindling demand, the shift to road transport, and the deindustrialization of the region. A large chunk of the yard was left abandoned for nature to take the track over in a very Blair Witchy vibe, with only a small section left used for freight classification (and therefore you’ll be stuck behind a snail-paced Metro North for hours in your fancy Acela!).

Exploring the overgrown yard is an amazing experience: you can experience first hand an apocalyptic world where human gone instinct and nature took over once more. It’s incredible to see how much 50+ years of nature does damage to human built structures. Bricks are eroded, metal is eaten by rust, and gigantic steal towers are toppled to the ground. Make sure you have your Tdap and go play in the industrial ruins. If you explore deep enough, you will find the only inhabitant of the yard: a massive polar bear made out of freight containers.

Bonus, the marsh is next to the last standing frozen yogurt place nearby New Haven so you HAVE to get one each time to go visit the Yard. Frozen yogurt was basically the next wave of the industrial past of New Haven. And like its predecessor, the Frozendustry closed in the late 2010s and delocalized when the Pokédustry took all their storefronts. What a shame!

The images and videos in this article were taken with a DJI Mavic Pro drone with pre-approval of the FAA thorough the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) to access the airspace under Section 44809.

Additional drone footage of New Haven factory building can be found here.

Thank you to my brother-in-law Gregory and my sister Pauline for letting me use their drone (don’t tell them I crashed it into the goal post of the Yale Bowl…)

 

 

 

 

 

What New Haven Can Steal From New York

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I tried a month of New York Living and I will not shut up about it.

It made me appreciate New Haven, which I wrote about. But it also made me realize New Haven, being a much smaller city, also lacks so many of the things that make a larger city special.

Well, we should steal those things. The ones that make sense, anyway. We probably won’t be able to open as many milk-based bars or American History Museums.

Hot Dog Vendors in the Park

You can only spend so much time in a park before you need a hot dog. That’s what scientists are saying.

Sooner or later, you’ll want an ice cold beverage or some kind of snack. It doesn’t have to be anything obtrusive. Allow a few hot dot/drink vendors to setup in Edgewood Park, East Rock Park, the Green. People are way more likely to stick around for a little while if they can get a snack or a drink. People forget to pack stuff.

Taltal13, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I always make fun of my friend Monica for over-preparing, but she always has snacks. Well, the rest of us just want some snacks. Seems like an easy win for the city, people spend a few bucks, eat a hot dog, look at a few trees, everybody wins.

Public Restrooms

Imagine yourself walking on a gorgeous spring day in New Haven. The cherry blossoms are blooming. Yale’s gothic architecture towers above you, the smell of local restaurants waft through the air. It’s almost perfect.

Except you have to pee.

But what are your options? You could use a Port-a-Pottie on the Green, which is a great spot for realizing that losing your sense of smell to COVID is not entirely terrible.

Larger parks in New York City all have public restrooms. Someone works there. It’s clean. People can use it. It’s great.

Instead of going home, you use the facilities and keep walking around and spending money. Bam, I’m an economist.

How much could a bathroom possibly cost to put in, like a million bucks? Come on. That’s like 1% of a school. Let’s do this.

Developed Shoreline

It is so goddamned ridiculous that New Haven’s most valuable, ocean-front-ish property is a giant highway interchange.

But you know what? The west side of Manhattan has the West Side Highway and they still had the decency to give everyone nice running tracks and piers with bars and cute little parks which jut out from the walkway.

See, it doesn’t even have to be nice and people will still be like OOOOH WATER

Listen. Food Truck Paradise was… an idea. And it’s absolutely a great way to concentrate discarded trash in a nice, convenient area for everyone to look at together.

But we can do better. This all needs to be built out. Build out some wood piers for walking, put out vendor places to bid, some cool little waterfront dining options.

Maybe enforce some parking laws and noise ordinances, who knows, the sky’s the limit.

The Empire State Building

What if we stole… the most famous building in the world. Okay, hear me out.

We gather a ragtag bunch of con-artists, safe-crackers, ballet dancers, and hackers.

Obviously, they all have to be incredible looking.

And we steal the Empire State Building.

“What, this building? No, it’s been here the whole time.”
Aniruddhags, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

We’ll just tell them this is another, different building, and we haven’t seen their building but we heard New Jersey was doing some shady shit.

Bring Back Bike Share

In early 2020, with COVID looming, New Haven’s bike share company suspended service indefinitely.

After all, what could be more dangerous than people riding their bike outside.

In fact, the implementation of New Haven’s bike share was… spotty, to be generous. The app was difficult to use. The company put ugly McDonald’s mini-billboards in a variety of neighborhoods. The whole thing was kind of a disaster. New Haven-style, if you will.

Well it’s almost 2022, and still no bike share. Even though CitiBike in New York is enjoying record numbers, we’re just sitting here using our legs like neanderthals.

Doug Hausladen enjoying headier days before anyone actually tried to use these things.

Of course, Yale has a bike share. And what could be more New Haven than a transportation service exclusively for Yale affiliates and nobody else. Free shuttles and bike share for them, and for us… well, I’m sure the bus will eventually come.


Let’s get it together, New Haven.

We aren’t going to compete with New York or Boston or even DC or Philadelphia.

But we can still do better. We can be a city that instead of people saying, “Oh, this city is a bit more fun than I thought,” they’ll say, “Oh, New Haven is significantly more fun than I thought and also it was really nice that I was able to find a bathroom and hot dog.”

Just promise me you’ll name one of the bathroom stalls after Between Two Rocks.

Episode 38: Hive Hair Studio

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A new episode of the podcast features the owners of the Hive Hair Studio! We talk everything hair, and it mostly devolves into making fun of Josh. Available on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.

Direct link for Newsletter subscribers: https://share.transistor.fm/s/f12d99bd