My favorite weekly column in the N.Y.Times—and almost the only column I read since the venerable newspaper's abysmal coverage of fire safety in tall buildings, post-9/11—is called Metropolitan Diary. For those unfamiliar, it is a contributed (by readers) collection of anecdotes about people's experiences and observations—current and past—in and around New York City. Some are funny; some are odd; some are poignant. Some relate tales of unexpected good deeds; some relate tales of days gone by and people no longer with us. They amuse and entertain. They often put smiles on readers' faces. They pay tribute. (There is even the occasional poem.)

I decided that in these difficult times, we could use a construction diary, of sorts. So, I am unofficially launching one with this blog post.  We invite all viewers and readers to send us their tales about construction. We are seeking 100-150-word submissions. They can be about anything related to design and construction, anywhere in the world (even in outer space). They can be about people, things, projects, travels, meetings, dinners, coincidences, synchronicity, work versus life and school days. They can be about mentors, proteges, clients, teammates, developers, architects, engineers, contractors and so on. The can be about the past; about the present.

Please e-mail your anecdotes to and include your name  (and company name, if you wish).  (People are always asking me how they can get publicity…This is an easy way. And in these challenging times, we might even lighten things up a bit for each other.)

I am also seeking suggestions for the "diary's" official name. Construction Journal is too formal. Tales from the Trenches is too warlike. Post's Posts is too specific to me. Reflections on Jobs Past is too high and mighty. Memorable Memos has some legs. Memorable Moments in Construction is too long. Working Memories might do it. What do you think?

 I am going to grease the wheels, a bit. I have a fair number of tidbits—having been kicked out of a few site trailers over the years while reporting stories. I was even chastised and then kissed on the cheek by Frank Gehry, a year or so ago. (Trust me, I didn't merit the dressing down and didn't want the kiss!). In one session at the Council on Tall Buildings congress in New York City, a woman speaker shook her finger menacingly at me (I was in row three or four, on the aisle), and then said to the audience "DON'T YOU BELIEVE ANYTHING YOU READ IN ENR!!!!" She was upset with me over my (fair and balanced) coverage of tall buildings and fire safety.

Not wanting to embarrass or insult people, I decided to pepper the pot with a kinder and gentler tale:
Some of my sources, and almost all the structural engineers who attended Structures Congress in 2005, know I play the viola. My blog photo also gives it away! (That picture was taken by David Rivinus—the luthier who designed and built my instrument—for use in his advertisements.)

The Aug. 13 issue of ENR, already posted on, has a news story on TELUS's green modular data center in Canada with a new patented cooling technology, from Inertech, that is designed to cut utility operational costs by about 80% over conventionally cooled data centers. The cooling system, which drastically cuts water use, is currently building adapted for use in other building types.

My colleague, Luke Abaffy, was preparing to post an animation video on, courtesy of Skanska, to accompany the story, and illustrate how the modular building came together. He asked for my counsel on the music track.

This data center went from groundbreaking to opening in 10 months—which is considered exceptionally speedy. I wanted background music that would convey the high tempo behind the construction pace. To illustrate, I started singing an excerpt from one of my favorite string quartets, called Death and the Maiden, by Franz Schubert. I never dreamed Luke would actually select that piece for the soundtrack. But within seconds, thanks to some file server somewhere, he had found the excerpt and was playing it for me. "YES!!! That's it! Perfect!" I said.

Minutes later he had added it to the video.
Check it out—both the story on the data center and the video. Thank you, Luke, for launching my "career" as a construction music video editor and for merging my work and my music life! And thank you, Schubert! (He died at the ripe young age of 31, 184 years ago but he left an incredible legacy!)

Finally: Please send anecdotes! Thanks, Nadine