My Boston

Thursday, June 02, 2005

#52 Boston - Attack of the Dust Particles June 2, 2005

My friend Lisa Miller got viciously attacked by some filthy dust particles in the New York subway, her shoes melted and apparently I was in a bar fight that I do not remember anything about - I simply woke up with a disfiguring gash on my head. Bottomline: we had fun in the Big Apple!!! One-eyed Lisa eventually recovered from her ocular ailment, while I still sport the laceration on my forehead. What is a trip without battle scars, eh?

NYC welcomed us with spectacular weekend weather, temps in the upper 70s and lower 80s - after three weeks of pretty much constant rain and tenebrous skies in Boston, it was a well-deserved change. New York was, as always, amazing, dazzling, like a shot of adrenaline - jam-packed with tourists, and some folks who actually live there.

I met up with Mrs Miller this past Friday to spend a few nice days in her family's apartment on the Upper East Side (Thanks Roger and Susan!!) - we pretty much wasted no time and immediately zipped down to Rockefeller Plaza (, where we decided to take a tour of the NBC studios. I was very impressed with 30 Rock (as the NBC staff calls it) - in particular the set of "Saturday Night Live" ( It actually features stadium seating which was given to a cash-strapped Lorne Michaels by none other than George Steinbrenner. Apparently Michaels did not have enough pesos to support "his little show" and Steinbrenner, in a rare fit of munificence, decided to "lend" him a few rows of Yankee stadium seats. Little did he know that the "little show" would go on for more than 30 years!! Of course, the SNL family now considers the seats a good luck charm and they are never replaced (fixed, yes). Gotta keep the good juju!! After pictures were taken of us as NBC newscasters on the set of Dateline NBC, we hightailed it out of there, back to the Upper East Side, to meet up with my German friends Marion and Ulli (both teach in NYC) for a delectable meal at Lentini's, which was quite a treat.

Saturday morning, and every morning thereafter, started out with a trip to the corner-deli-cafe-gourmet-grocery-shop "Agata" - one of the lovely typical New York East Coast deli style places, where everyone who lives in the neighborhood stops in for their morning coffee and probably for their lunch as well. Agata's did welcome us every day with a primo selection of breakfast foods, even if the staff seemed to reside on Planet Spacey at times, and could only handle one coffee order at the time.

We hopped on the subway and were prepared to get into the dreadful lines for TKTS half-price tickets at Times Square ( - generally the wait is at least one hour, and I recommend bringing a folding chair, and a picnic basket, maybe some wine. However, we did discover a secret that I am going to spill now to everyone in the entire universe: you only need to be in the bloody line if you want musical tickets!! (I wished someone would have told me that last year!!!) For plays, you simply go to the cash registers/exits, line up behind the one or two people there at Register 6 (Plays Only) and get your ticket. 5 Minutes, wham, bam - you are done!! Six million thank yous go out to the kind soul in line who told us this!!
This opened up our schedule big time (no kidding), so we trekked toward downtown and my favorite place in New York, the Saturday Union Square Farmers Market - you can buy anything from NY rooftop honey, "mango-on-a-stick", freshly baked pretzels, strange herbs and bad art.

The off-Broadway play "The Paris Letter", performed at the Roundabout Theater on West 46th Street, was impressive - the story of a successful Wall Street power broker, whose life and personal happiness eventually succumbs to the lie he has been living and to the desires he had repressed for decades. Tony award winners Ron Rifkin, John Glover and Michele Frank headed the remarkable cast that also included Daniel Eric Gold and Jason Butler Harner.

On Sunday, we decided to follow a recommendation from my friend Linda and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge ( What a wonderful thing to do!! Opened on May 24, 1883, it is truly a marvel of engineering, with its wooden caissons, a terrific view of the Manhattan Bridge to one side, and Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty to the other. And of course you have to stop by the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory located at the foot of the bridge. Just four flavors (vanilla, vanilla choc chunk, chocolate and chocolate-chocolate chunk) - but the most excellent ice cream!! We stopped for lunch in the artsy-loft district, before heading back over the bridge and then cruised through the entire length of Manhattan.

A walk through Manhattan affords a glimpse -and some stops- in many of the city's engaging neighborhoods - we passed by Tribeca, made a pit stop in trendy Soho (check out Dos Caminos - dynamite Latin food, spectacular Guacamole bar, and Ceviche to die for!!!), looked for the Olsen twins around NYU (absolute gem: Washington Mews between 5th Avenue and University Place in the Village - - was originally used for stables servicing the expensive homes facing Washington Park; it still retains its original cobble stones, and looks as if it was plucked right out of 19th century Europe), and finally rested our weary feet in Central Park (not before stopping at Trump Tower, and Tiffany's, of course!!).

All in all, a most enjoyable weekend, and of course I have to end it with a few little unusual tidbits about New York:

- When you pay for the subway's Metrocard, it asks you to "dip your credit card"
- Street Signs tell you to "curb your dog"
- Winning restaurant names include (our old favorite) "Senor Swanky's" and (new on the list) "Nancy Lee's Pig Heaven" (wonder how the pigs feel about it)
- Favorite New York Moment: Dinner at Empire Wok on Second Avenue, with a table facing the street, and within five minutes we had a sailor throwing us a rose, a dog performing tricks on command and a pretty hammered drunk trying to do the same. Gotta love it.

Back in Boston - after some more joyless weather, spring has finally forced itself onto us, and I was able to have my first nice-weather jog along the Charles River.

On the social front, I was invited to another movie preview screening, this time an absolutely phenomenal flick called "Capote" with Philip Seymour Hoffman portraying Truman Capote so vividly and to the point, that he should get two Oscars! The audience (myself included) was so absorbed by the movie that there was total silence afterward, and the discussion with director Bennett Miller went on for quite some time. The movie will come out sometime this year, so stay tuned.

OK, folks, gotta go! It is nice out, and I want to get a little walk in before it gets dark. Tomorrow is my 1-year anniversary in Boston - a year ago this Friday, I arrived at Logan airport, tired, with three monstrous suitcases and a frightened little bird.

All my love to you - miss you, please keep in touch.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

#51 Boston - A Week of Culture and The Great Outdoors - May 26, 2005

Wow! What a week! A culture wave of sorts - a play, a musical, a concert, an Indie film screening, documentaries on Netflix on the cultural side, supplemented by a wonderful hike in New Hampshire to explore the Great Outdoors.

The weather here in New England has made every effort to keep us inside - it has been raining non-stop, and I mean, NON-STOP! Contributing also has been an extremely vicious wind, so any attempt to open your umbrella is pretty much useless. Might as well just get drenched. I admit to a certain level of insanity when it comes to my refusal to take the subway as opposed to getting in a nice long walk to and from the theater, but when I arrived at my apartment last night, soaked as can be, I myself had to question how far the psychosis has progressed.

The hike this past Sunday led up north to New Hampshire, Pawtuckaway State Park in particular, just east of Manchester ( The trail drifted through lusciously green and unspoiled woodlands, past hoards of impressive granite boulders ("glacial erratics" for the geologists among us) and mysterious caves at Devils' Den, to a most rewarding view on the North Mountain. The beaver ponds (again) revealed no beavers, and we encountered only a few souls on this gray, but perfect hiking day. Having done mostly local hikes on flat territory all winter, I definitely rediscovered some muscles, who had been in hiding all this time - pleasantly sore as they say, with a smile though, remembering a lovely day.

The cultural divertissements started off on Friday evening with the play "Shakespeare in Hollywood" at the Lyric Stage Company ( The company is a most charming venue right in the heart of Boston, and this play by Ken Ludwig, a farce featuring a Jewish movie producer who escapes to Hollywood from World War II Europe, captivated, enthralled and tickled a very hopped up audience with its wisecracking and drollery. Said producer is trying to bring a little "cultscha" to Tinseltown, and picks "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as his play of choice, only to have the real Oberon and Puck appear in some sort of time-travel trickery and all kinds of flimflam starts to happen.

Saturday, in a complete change of pace, the cultural locale was the Avalon, according to "the closest thing to a big-time New York Club you'll find in Boston". Excellent concerts there, not too overpriced and even pretty decent beer. The group performing this evening was "Snow Patrol" (MY NEW FAVORITE BAND!!!!!) . Their website describes their style as a "heart-crushing mix of distorted British pedal rock and US alternative guitar pop" - absolutely fun music, great band, terrific tunes! Check them out if they come your way!! (You can listen to "Spitting Games", "Run" and "Chocolate" on the web!)

Tuesday night, it was time for the next ushering job/ culture fix, this time at the Huntington Theatre Company for a musical called "Falsettos". Set in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the story centers around a family whose father, Marvin, leaves his wife for a guy named Whizzer and has the lofty goal of keeping everyone "one big happy Jewish family". Again, the Huntington affirmed its reputation for great stage display and original choice of playwright. Energetic performances by a stellar cast, in particular 12-year old Jacob Brandt, who plays Marvin's son Jason and whose vocal performance was quite impressive (very clearly, puberty has not hit this young man yet....).

Rounding out this week of fun, was yesterday's screening of a new movie called "Friends with Money". As volunteers for the Independent Film Festival, we were invited to this exclusive event, and were not told much about the movie beforehand. "Just be there, 7:30 PM, watch the flick, we would like to know what you think" - kind of event. I certainly enjoyed the movie - fits probably into the category "bitter comedy" - Frances McDormand, Jennifer Anniston and Joan Cusack were among a very absorbing cast of characters. Following the film was a discussion with writer and director Nicole Holofcener ( "Lovely and Amazing" is one of her earlier accomplishments) and feedback from the audience. Cool.

So, quite a week, eh? And a short one too, as I am heading to New York City tomorrow to meet up with my friend Lisa Miller for a fun-filled weekend.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend and stay dry!


Thursday, May 19, 2005

#50 Boston - What happened in Florida and Other Useless Observations - May 19, 2005

I am back in town - returned from the Sunshine State, and the city of Boston welcomed us at the airport with a scorching 45 degrees!! Overall it was not that much of an adjustment as I spent most of my time in Orlando in the Orange County Convention Center, which featured about the same temperature. Conferences, in particular this one, are very exhausting, and I basically headed home Tuesday and slept for a day-and-a-half (some of it in bed).

Some observations (most of them useless) from my trip:

You have heard of a hammer toe, right? Well, the guy next to me in the plane (a fellow attendee as it turned out) had a "hammer thumb" - an enormous behemoth of a finger I must say. Freak.

Experienced one of those families we love and cherish on plane rides, in particular the 5-year old son, who delighted his mother and us fellow passengers with a barrage of statements like "Are you sure we are on the right plane?", "Is anyone getting play dough?" (Ain't gonna be me!")

First time I flew into Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington, DC - right over the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery. Cool.

Palm trees in Florida were a site for winter-sore eyes, ahh, warmth, feels good, sense memory comes back.

Westgate Lakes Resort - my hotel - aha, this is where families with eight or more children vacation.

Met a 2 1/2-year old alligator in hotel lobby (his mouth was taped shut, which was a good thing). Meanwhile MGH in Boston with all its construction displaces whole colonies of mice.

Playing the name game at the ASCO convention, discover participants named Donald Trump (no kidding), Kim Chi and (very cutting edge) Roger Rodgers.

Love the non-smoking sign at the Convention Center (remember this is a cancer conference):

"Smoking is prohibited"
"Smoking causes cancer"
"Secondhand smoking kills, too"
"Your fellow oncologists and patients appreciate you not smoking"

Lots of business dinners in the evening, highlight is the French Restaurant "Le Coq au Vin", absolutely the best food in Orlando. Ingestion of alcohol leads to indulgence and revelations - who knew the pharma industry rep has a degree in Middle Eastern Studies and used to sell fork lifts?

Cabbie gets completely lost on the way to the restaurant, and gives us the grand tour of Orlando - we pass a church named "Mary, Queen of the Universe" (??)

If you wonder where the bee line (that we take so often) is, I am happy to report that we discovered it in Orlando (Bee Line Parkway, right near the convention center).

Conference turns into reunion with many friends from California - hello all!! It was good to see you.

Highlight of the conference for me is a movie called "Frankl's Choice" which juxtaposes the life and teachings of Victor Frankl, the developer of existential psychology, with interviews of terminally ill patients and cancer survivors (among them my boss Bruce Chabner, who is an oncology physician, and his wife, Davi Ellen Chabner). Here is a quote from his book "Man's Search for Meaning" - "Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible."

Aside from being THE meeting every year where scientific results in oncology get highlighted, this is also the mecca for marketers. The exhibit halls overwhelm with gargantuan booths, high-tech gadgetry, and every tschotschke known to mankind. Lots of cool little items, some of which now reside in my home..... at the end of the day you stagger out of there like a drunken sailor on shore leave and packed like a mule, just like after a sale at Filene's Basement....

Disney is unbelievable - those of you who have ever been to Disneyland in California know, it is in the hood, somewhere in Anaheim, in an uninspired neighborhood - just when you have given up all hope, there is the parking lot! Disney World in Orlando (if you are into that kind of stuff) is mind-boggling. You drive through the lush Florida vegetation, and all of a sudden the freeway signs turn Disney Color, you know just like at Toys R Us. Fake boulders appear out of nowhere, castles line the side of the road and you expect all vehicles to be driven by 6-year olds. 47 Miles of property are occupied by the different parks (Epcot, Disney, MGM, Universal) and all of them charge $65 a pop to get in!! The whole area reminded me of one of the old Star Trek episodes, where Captain Kirk and his crew land on a real pretty and clean planet, where all the people are smiling and have probably been drugged and brainwashed.

Back in Boston, work is insane, immediately following ASCO, organizing a huge meeting, which took place this afternoon, and went very well. Heading home now, exhausted, happy that it is Friday tomorrow.

Ciao for now!


Thursday, May 12, 2005

#49 Boston - Scuttlebutt and Limeys - May 12, 2005

Greetings from Sunny Florida, where I landed today - and let me tell you, it is a bit of a surprise that I got here at all. Not the airline's fault, but it can be entirely attributed to my early morning scatteredness. Went to the wrong terminal at Logan for starters, then hiked to the right terminal, found US Air, even though they do their best to hide, sat at the wrong gate for a while (looked at seat # instead of gate #), realized it in time (phew!!). Maybe I should switch away from decaf!

It is my first time in Florida - I am attending the annual meeting of ASCO, the American Society for Clinical Oncology. 30,0000 cancer specialists will descend onto the city of Orlando ( over the next few days. The conference is absolutely insane, overwhelming and as I experienced two years ago in Chicago, so huge that it is essential to have a decent, sturdy pair of walking shoes.

I am staying at the Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa, one of six million "resorts" on the outskirts of Orlando. The place is a huge, 1300-room sprawl. I occupy the most lovely studio - the design is definitely "Golden Girls", about the size of my apartment, with a view of Turkey Lake and a Jacuzzi!

As a great segue into my trip, the weather in Boston changed drastically and was nice for once over the past two days (and yes, again, the flip flops came out).

The past weekend was again rainy and drab though, so hiking was definitely not on the agenda. On Saturday, my stir-craziness drove me out of the house in the afternoon and led to a brief, rain-soaked stroll over to the Science Museum. I had wanted to see the Butterfly Garden, their newest exhibit, but since everybody and their cousin were there, the program was sold out. So I headed to the Charles Hayden Planetarium and listened to a presentation on stargazing, which was pretty decent. The rest of the afternoon was spent in the "hands-on" explorer section of the museum, where some six-year olds and I put all the right organs (or so we thought) on a human dummy. The Velcro strips were not so crisp any more and the kidneys kept falling down, but aside from that we did pretty good.

Saturday night, I went out with my Indian friends, Rohini and PJ for a superb dinner at the Silvertone Bar and Grill, definitely one of my new favorite places in the hub. The Silvertone convinces with a hip crowd, spectacular food (best Mac and Cheese ever) and very affordable prices! It was a most educational evening - Rohini is the world's best resource on - well, pretty much anything. Just like Barbra Streisand in "Hello Dolly" - "Just leave everything to me" - she dazzled us with one business card after the other. No matter if you need your eyebrows threaded, your car tires rotated or your neck adjusted - Rohini knows!

On Sunday, it was time to visit the final two stops on the Freedom Trail that I had omitted to visit until now: The USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument, both located in Charlie aka Charlestown.
The USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides" is a spectacular experience. The oldest commissioned warship afloat in the entire world, she is still part of the US Navy and can boast a colorful history. Her name, "Old Ironsides" stems from a historic battle with the HMS Guerriere in 1812. The British 380-gun frigate, famous for terrorizing the US naval fleet, should have flattened the Constitution. The Guerriere started firing like mad, only to see their cannon shots bounce off the sides of the USSC - so one of their sailors shouted "Huzzah, her sides are made from iron!!" - which gave the old girl her famous name. (The strength of the hull is actually due to a triple layer of white oak-live oak (very strong wood)-white oak - no iron whatsoever). After 20 minutes, the British were toast, and the HMS Guerriere was so badly damaged that they had to sink the ship.

The tour of the USS Constitution was equally engrossing, and a very dapper young naval officer gave us a glimpse of what life was like aboard the ship. 500 men were on duty, worked on the gun and spar decks and slept in their berths, always in 4-hour shifts (250 a piece). One of the artifacts on deck was the "scuttlebutt", the ships drinking water supply, which was the only place on the ship where you were allowed to chat (the "water cooler" of yesterday) - hence the word scuttlebutt is used for gossip. The barrel was a "butt barrel" with a scuttle opening. Needless to say the water allocated to every sailor (35 pints a day) was not used for personal hygiene that much, this made the whole 500-man-on-a-boat experience a bit of a smelly affair.
My other favorite amenity on board was the grog tub, which for the US Navy contained whiskey, not rum as one might expect. (The Royal Navy had rum). In order to prevent the all-prevalent scurvy, lemon juice was added, whereas the British added lime juice to their rum, hence the term "limeys".

I then met up with Elaine and we zipped over to the Bunker Hill Monument, a 221-foot obelisk, which marks the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution. "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" - untrained and ill-equipped to match up against the far superior British forces, the American colonists made up for their shortcomings with fierce determination. The Battle of Bunker Hill, fought in June of 1775 awarded the British of loss of half of their 2200 ground forces and artillery. The colonists did loose eventually, but not without inflicting serious pain and damage on their enemy. You can climb up all 294 steps to the top of the monument, which is a serious workout, but does reward with spectacular views.

Completely exhausted, Elaine and I retreated to her new and extremely comfortable new couch, and spent the afternoon with tea and cake, just as it should be. I also got to meet the newest addition to her family, Nipsy, a little budgie just like my Oscar. He was absolutely adorable, even though he tried to evade his first German lesson by hiding behind the refrigerator.

The weekend ended with a lovely visit by Melanie and Tom from California, which was celebrated by way of a delectable meal at Croma, one of the nice, but not too upscale eateries on Newbury Street. Their chocolate cobbler is definitely worth a visit.

On Monday, I made use of another resource for us rat-poor, cash-drained Bostonians -, where you sign up for a haircut with a student at one of the fancy schmancy hair salons in Boston. $15 dollars - I am now sporting a very snazzy, albeit a bit short do courtesy of Runway Salon.

My friends, it is bed time - all my love to you from Orlando......


Thursday, May 05, 2005

#48 Boston - Return of the Flip Flop - May 5, 2005

No, my friends, I am not talking about John Kerry, even though he does hang around here. This is another unsettling phenomenon, closely related to the quilt bag movement I eluded to in one of my earlier updates. The same women who last year, during my first encounters with New England urban culture, carried the flowery Vera Bradley bags (coined "diaper bags" by my friend Ruth) have now - at the first signs of spring and the sweltering 50 degree weather - pulled out their beach wear -flip flops, which go so well with their professional outfits (not!!). I don't know who started this people!! In addition, I have to say something to the guys accompanying these women - no matter how much you love your girlfriend, fiancée, wife, mistress, spousal equivalent - do not, I mean DO NOT carry their hand bags (in particular if it is one of those bedspread bags...). I know you mean well, but - no, no, no - very unbecoming....

Speaking of returning - this Wednesday, the resident Public Garden swans, Romeo and Juliet, have returned to their summer lagoon - they reside at the Franklin Park Zoo all winter. There was a little parade to welcome them back to the hub, led by none other than our own Boston Park Ranger Lt. Reginald Sampson.

At this point, I am pretty much convinced that no more snow is coming to Boston, and the weather has kept steady at temps in the 50s, albeit with not much sunshine, and last weekend was a rain-out, so any attempts at hiking were balked at by Mother Nature. This drencher of a weekend put a major damper on WBOS's Earth Fest, which took place on the Charles River Esplanade, and had actually a pretty nice line-up with The Wallflowers, Carbon Leaf, Five for Fighting as their headliners. I did not attend, but was able to hear some of it, as I was stuck in traffic on Storrow Drive with my friend Renee's mattress crunched right above my head. I was helping her out with moving and there was gridlock everywhere! All went well though, and Renee, Clover (the cat) and Rufus (the dog) are now comfortably settled in Somerville.

Saturday evening I headed toward Emmanuel Church on Newbury Street ( to usher for Boston Cares. The evening featured a performance by the Spectrum Singers (, one of the many choral ensembles here in New England, and definitely one of their finest!! They have been around for a quarter century and generally perform pieces from all periods of music history. English baroque composer Henry Purcell (1659 - 1695 )( and his opera "Dido and Aeneas" were portrayed that night. Considering that I just saw the play about Dido and Aeneas at the ART, this was a fitting addition to my cultural program, and a spectacular performance by this choir. Bravo!!

I was determined to do some hiking on Sunday, but again - rain, rain and rain. Change of plans, time to hit the museums. For starters I had to visit the one museum in Boston that I had been negligent in visiting - the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. From the outside, you would never guess what a gem this place is - a 15th century Venetian Villa, right in the middle of Boston!! ( Isabella, bless her, was an art collector, philanthropist, music enthusiast and designed this marvel to inspire in people a love for the arts. It is one of the finest collections of paintings, tapestries, sculptures, furniture and decorative arts. The courtyard with its amazing display of flowers and, my favorite, the tapestry room, where concerts by the Gardner Chamber Orchestra take place, they just take your breath away. The museum opened in 1903 and has not changed since Isabella's death in 1924. The collection features objects from ancient Rome, medieval Europe, Renaissance Italy, Asia, the Islamic world and 19th century France and America. Titian, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Manet, Degas, Whistler and Sargent are among the artists displayed, and its archives hold thousands of letters from the likes of T.S. Eliot, Sarah Bernhardt and Oliver Wendell Holmes, in addition to original Dante manuscripts. This is a must for every visitor to Boston!

Artist in Residence Dayanita Singh provided an interesting exhibit on chairs - come to think of it, actually a pretty neat idea. Not all chairs are created equal (or seat equally comfortable), as they say!

Well, once I had exhausted myself there, I ambled over to the Museum of Fine Arts to make another attempt at seeing the Ralph Lauren Caaah Exhibit "Speed, Style and Beauty" and this time my quest was successful. ( Quite the car enthusiast he is, our Ralphie! I was not quite sure what to expect, but I have to say, I got swept up in the excitement over the horsepower in that room. Contrary to my expectations, the audience was a pretty mixed bag (not just guys), but definitely different from the "Spring in Bloom" crowd downstairs, which leaned strongly toward the 70+ female demographic. The cars were absolutely cool!! You just wanted to hop into one of those bad boys and go (not that my little Ella is not fun too, but...). Bugattis, Bentleys, Alfa Romeos, Porsches, Jaguars and Mercedes - up-close and personal!! My favorites were the 1937 Bugatti 57SC Gangloff Drophead Coupe, the 1955 Mercedes Benz 300 SL Coupe (with its airplane-type doors) and of course the Porsche Spyder. The McLaren Formula 1 all-carbon was quite stylish in a futuristically sort-of-way (also goes 240 mph). Write-ups on the walls depicted the inventors and designers of these cars - and some interesting tidbits about them. Walter Bentley was part of the "Bentley Boys", a "gaggle of British gentlemen, who drove fast cars and lived fast lives, with dusk-to-dawn parties and escapades all over Europe." (ooh, lala!!). Etore Bugatti apparently was a peculiar bird, he once refused to sell a car to King Carol II of Romania, because he did not like his table manners. And William Lyons, the Jaguar guy, once went to test race one of his cars with a friend. He forgot his glasses and instead of heading back to get them, he simply told the poor passenger to direct him where to drive (we are talking race car speeds here!!).

After that adrenaline-laden experience, I headed for a cozy little exhibit the MFA had on baseball and the Red Sox, the center piece of which was a famous Norman Rockwell painting called "The Rookie". It was the cover page of the Saturday Evening Post on March 2, 1957. ( A small exhibit, but what a great collection of Memorabilia:
- a picture of the first game ever played in Fenway Park on April 20, 1912 between the Boston Red Sox and New York Highlanders
- Harry Hooper's Sweater (he still holds the Red Sox record for most stolen bases (300) and triples (130))
- Jerseys from Carlton Fisk, Carl Yazstrzemski, Ted Williams and Cy Young (did you know his first name was Cyclone??)
- Score cards from the 1915 World Series
- The famous promissory note to the New York Yankees for the partial payment for Babe Ruth
- Johnny Damon and Curt Schilling's cleats and other paraphernalia from the 2004 World Series
- The diehard Royal Rooters, who used to perform their baseball battle song "Tessie", which is still played at Fenway Park, now in its newest interpretation by the Drop Kick Murphys. (

At the end of this rainy weekend, I was suddenly attacked by a vicious virus of sorts and since then have been fighting a cold, that has pretty much afflicted everyone here at the hospital and in my circle of friends (not that I stated it!!). Raspy throat, runny nose (call me Rudolf), the whole works. I have been heading home every night this week and pretty much straight to bed, so nothing new to report.

Got my picture in the paper again, sort of - the Boston Courant had snapshots from the Back Bay Road Race, and while my friends Ruth and Eric can be seen quite nicely, Elaine and I are featured partially, but hey - I'm not picky.

Amigos, Happy Cinco de Mayo, I am head home now and will eat a truck load of chicken soup!!



Friday, April 29, 2005

#47 Boston - A Weekend at the Movies - April 29, 2005

Hello All,

Week 47 here in Boston, this time littered with movies and some other incidents of random madness.

The cinematic excitement was due to the 3rd Annual Independent Film Festival (, which took place in several locations across the hub - at the Somerville, Brattle, Coolidge and MFA movie theaters. I had signed up with IFFB for a couple of long shifts at the Somerville movie theater near Davis Square and it made for a very exhausting weekend. The festival was definitely compelling - only one celebrity sighting for me - famed African-American actor/director/composer Melvin van Peebles ( He was wearing a t-shirt with the words "Original Badasssss" on it, referring to his controversial 1970s movie "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song". On opening night, which I did miss, Indie favorites Steve Buscemi and Casey Affleck were also seen in town attending the premiere of their project "Lonesome Jim."

I did manage to see two stimulating pictures, a Canadian flick called "Childstar" (, which was a funny, but darkly bitter comedy on child actors in the film industry. "Rhythm is It" is a documentary on a project done between the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under the conductorship of Sir Simon Rattle (great name for a composer!!), and British choreographer Roylston Maldoom. Roylston took 240 kids and young adults, from elementary school age to about 22 years of age, and taught them to dance accompanying the symphony orchestra's performance of Igor Stravinsky's "Le Sacre du Printemps". What an inspiring project and equally motivating and touching movie!!!! (

Somerville is a very nice part of the Boston municipal area - home of my favorite Boston pub, The Burren, all very neighborhoody, great restaurants. The Somerville Theater, in one of its previous lifetimes was originally a Vaudeville-style performance theater with a reputation for excellence.
Spending some time waiting for the subway in Somerville, reminded me that a some of the T stations here feature much appreciated diversions. The Davis Square T for example features poems by Emily Dickinson and other women poets on its brick tiles on the platform floors. At the Kendall Square/ MIT stop local artist Paul Matisse installed three sculpture-instruments - Pythagoras, Kepler and Gallileo. "Pythagoras" is a set of long tube bells tuned in B minor struck by a line of pendulum hammers. When passenger move the handle on the station wall, the hammers swing back and forth, striking the tubes, creating the most wonderful sounds.

The weekend started off on a good note, on Saturday morning, I participated in the first ever Back Bay 5 K ( along the Charles River Esplanade. Organized by the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay and the Chi Phi Fraternity of MIT, it was a very community-based, low-key event with about 120 runners attending. The Chi Phi frat boys did a commendable job, and the race was definitely enjoyed by all, in particular because we all put up spectacular running times. This was partly due to the fact that the race was not exactly 5K (3.1 Miles), but according to my own calculations about 2.75 Miles. If my math is correct, I can now applaud myself on a new personal best of 8.45 minutes/ mile!!! Yeah! The weather was perfect for running, cool temps in the upper 40s or so, and just a little windy. My running companions included Ruth, Eric and Elaine - for Ruth this was her first official race, and she did spectacularly.

Sunday was a bit of a messy day, as other kinds of madness kicked in. First, after peeling myself out of bed at the ungodly time of 7:15 AM to meet up with an acquaintance to go bird watching at the wonderful Mt. Auburn cemetery (, I got stood up! There I was waiting in the pouring rain, freezing, tired, and no one showed up (at least nobody I knew)! That pretty much set the tone for the day. Being overtired and grumpy do not make a good combination, I have to tell you. During my afternoon shift at the theater, I walked outside to look for one of the coordinators, only to find some 65-year old psychopath freak out on me simply because I "stepped in front of him." Completely lost it, the dude, screaming on the top of his lungs, his eyes bulging, and he did not stop his rapacious tirade until the end of the next block. The whole day was like this - loonies everywhere - and by the time I came home, I went straight to bed. No use in staying up or meeting more crazy people.

The week has been pretty low-key as a result of my extreme tiredness following this past weekend, the evenings were filled with couch time, movies, books, and an acceptable allotment of exercise. The weather has been less than inviting, warm but mostly rainy. The weekend promises mixed weather - plans include a concert, some hiking, maybe a road race (possible spontaneous moment coming up!). Sunday is National Arbor Day (you know, good for the trees, that kind of stuff). As a nice contrast, Germany celebrates Labor Day on May 1st - everyone usually goes on a hike and gets drunk! My friends, have a beer on me and enjoy the weekend!!


Friday, April 22, 2005

#46 Boston - In Fine Fettle - April 22, 2005

Healthy as a Horse, as they say! I returned from a physical check-up with my PCP with a boastable cholesterol level of 182 (not even fasting), and an HDL level of 74 (greater than 40 is optimal). No word on my mental capacity, but you guys all know me! No reason to check any further, eh? I hope this will bode well for my running efforts, in particular for the road race tomorrow morning (the 1st Annual Back Bay 5K), where I hope to improve my running time, and maybe get a wee bit closer to that 9-Minute/Mile mark. I have been practicing diligently, but again learned that I suck when it comes to jogging during warm weather. This past Wednesday, where the erratic spring climate dropped an 87 degree day on us, I put on the most despicable performance ever - it was like running through molasses (considering that it was still 80 degrees out at 5:30 PM). It has cooled down a bit since, and we are hoping for no rain tomorrow. Spring bloom is in full force, and the magnolia trees along Comm Ave and the cherry trees on the Charles River Esplanade are putting on a most splendid display.

The weather has been inviting for hikes and such, so last weekend I hopped in the caah and barreled up to Nashua, Hew Hampshire for a hike with the AMC. Nashua, situated in the Merrimack Valley, is the second largest city in New Hampshire, about 30-some miles from Boston, and has an interesting history ( It originally started out as the Dunstable Massachusetts Bay Settlement sometime in the 17th century, in 1746 became a bona fide NH town named Dunstable and in 1803 changed to Nashua. Our hike in the granite state took us to Mine Falls Park, a very nice 325-acre area along the Merrimack River, and we were rewarded there with turtles, herons, one lonely swan and a lovely lunch alongside a pretty impressive waterfall. (

Back in Boston, I lumbered to the Hynes Convention Center where the John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo was taking place - the city was abuzz with the excitement of the upcoming Boston Marathon (, which was to take place on Monday. The city was jam-packed with people, athletes and cheerers-on alike, and the nice weather put them all onto our fine streets. Forget about getting a spot for dinner anywhere.....

Sunday started off with a nice breakfast at the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown, where on the weekends the lines are out the door - with the size of their flapjacks that is no surprise to anyone. It is one of my favorite breakfast places - their pancakes come in plain, buckwheat and sweet potato, and their tea selection is quite eclectic. Owner Don Levy prides himself on offering what he calls "fine dinering" fare (
Aside from a quick 5-mile run along the Charles River, (where some of the sun-hungry Bostonians attempted to enhance their chances of getting skin cancer) Sunday turned into a lovely lazy day with some chores and lots of R&R.

Monday was Patriots Day which equals Marathon Day - what an excitement!! Many people take the day off to cheer on the 20,000 runners in the race! "Catherine the Great", Catherine Ndereba from Kenya captured her fourth crown in a row, and Hailu Negussie from Ethiopia crossed the finish line as the men's winner - both of them in times barely over two hours!! That is 26 miles, 40 Kilometers!

The week has been good at work, progress in "posterland" (with a mildly scary first presentation today to the executive committee of the cancer center, but it did go well) and lots of social activities, among it two nights of jogging with my friends Ruth and Joanne. The book group met Tuesday night, where we descended on a snazzy desert place called "Finale" (check out their creations - they are pieces of art - ). In the sugar rush that followed the consumption of a Manjari Mousse, I was a little out of control, but I was not alone there - fellow book worm Coleen called her father, telling him that I have a fact fetish, and solicited the story of Boston-born Republican statesman Henry Cabot Lodge (he grew up in Nahant, where Coleen resides). She then proceeded to tell me some cockamamie story about Cabot's family making their money by cutting ice in chunks and shipping them out for refrigeration. I have not been able to find anything about this anywhere, so I am just assuming that it was the chocolate talking!

Wednesday night I joined my friend Nesli Basgoz for a little trip out to her neighborhood in Brookline, a rather lovely part of Boston. My favorite part was "Emack and Bolio's" -, an "ice cream shop with more than a lick of promise". Started in the 1975, it is a Boston ice cream institution and was apparently named after the first two customers that walked in the door.

Last night, it was time to taste the whiskey, this time for the "Johnny Walker Journey of Taste" at the Hotel Commonwealth at Kenmore Square. A rather sloppily and hastily organized event, so aside from tasting some of the whiskeys that go into their blends, it was definitely not worth attending.

My friends, it is time to head into the weekend, I leave you with a couple more local morsels.



Morsel 1: Boston has the world's smallest suspension bridge (in the Public Garden -

Morsel 2: The city of Rockport, MA voted last Tuesday night to allow the sale of alcohol by restaurants (ending 150 years of being a dry town). Only 14 dry towns remain in this lovely state of ours. Let's go get'em!

Friday, April 15, 2005

#45 Boston - Weather Jumble - April 15, 2005

Hello All,

I know that you might be tired of hearing about the lovely, but unpredictable Massachusetts weather, but this week has been and is definitely noteworthy. The signs of spring are here - absolute fact - and last weekend us New Englanders (actually probably just me) thought we had it nailed. The weather kept getting better and better, and on Sunday we enjoyed a very balmy 68 degrees, everyone was out and about, sandals were freed from the back of closets and the sound of children playing echoed in the streets. Monday morning, I put on my nice new spring blouse, and left the house with just a jacket, when I noticed everyone wearing their fleece and down jackets and a minute later a nice 42 degrees hit me in the face! What in the world?? It stayed cold most of Monday, warmed up a little on Tuesday morning, and when I left the hospital on Tuesday evening, I was greeted by snow flurries (yes, snow!!??!!). It has since warmed up again slowly, and we are expecting a nice warm weekend with temps in the upper 50s and even 70s for Sunday. For next Wednesday a high of 78 degrees is proposed. That folks, is spring in New England!

Aside from this hodgepodge of weather, it has been a good week off work and an operose one at work. The grant is coming back to haunt all of us as we are preparing for the NCI (National Cancer Institute - the folks with the dough) site visit in June. I am in the midst of preparing posters, making friends with many Excel spreadsheets and having flashbacks to February (not the good kind).

This past weekend, on account of the peachy weather, I headed to the most lovely city of Carlisle and Estabrook Woods, which consists of about 1200 acres of woodland, hills, ledges and swampland just a couple of miles north of Concord. The name was given to the forest area by none other than our friend David Henry Thoreau. Carlisle was first settled in the year 1650, is located about 40 minutes outside of Boston (20 Miles NW) and - interesting fact - 25% of the town is protected conservation land. ( I joined my friends from the Appalachian Mountain Club for a very agreeable hike, slightly muddy on occasion, dotted with gratifying conversations including some solid advice from an investment banker and a slight disagreement with the trip leader about pine trees. He was a bit of an odd duck, got lost a few times, and we backtracked quite a bit, so the 5 miles we hiked might have been a bit of an underestimate.

Upon returning home to Boston, I was not yet satisfied with the amount of physical activity for the day, so I headed out for a 5-mile run along the Charles River Esplanade, which was packed with roller bladers, bicyclists, joggers, dogs, cats, squirrels, you name it.
The snug weather on Sunday invited for a few things, but mostly for lazing and dilly-dallying, catching up on some reading. I spent the afternoon attending my friend Nakia's baby shower, "Little E" (Evan Jr.) is expected by the end of the month and we are all anxious to meet him.

On Tuesday night, I volunteered (sort of - we did not have to do that much....) with Boston Cares at the American Repertory Theater, this time at their Zero Arrow location between Harvard and Central Square ( The play was "Olly's Prison" by controversial and award-winning English playwright Edward Bond. His first play "Saved" which was produced by the UK's Royal Court Theater Group (1965) depicted the life of disenchanted youths who were driven to monstrous acts generated by the brutal economic conditions they faced. The play stirred up quite a scandal, and eventually led to the abolishment of censorship in theater plays in England. "Olly's Prison" ( is an interesting play - and having a bit of distance in between now, I would say a very powerful one. The theme for me was that all the characters in the play were looking for some sort of order in their lives or in their minds in the midst of violence and turmoil. The actors were absolutely phenomenal, Bill Camp as Mike the main character, was an astonishing force on the stage, and so was Angela Reed. The performance was quite violent at times, either with its writing and words that were thrown at you with the potency of a whip or with the actual portrayal of violent acts. An amazing and exhausting experience.

On Thursday evening, I headed out to Weston - the site of some of my XC skiing and snowshoeing exploits in winter, which is now a golf course. The Charles River Canoe and Kayak folks had organized a slide show by the Maine Island Trail Association, featuring Maine's 100 public and private islands along the state's coast line. I will have to stock up on Dramamine and sea bands if I want to hop into a kayak and not get queasy, but the striking photographs will leave me no choice. MITA is a very cool organization, as their mission is to make all visitors (kayakers and boaters) "stewards" of these islands. They train visitors on low impact techniques and practices that assure that the fragile ecology of these islands will be preserved. (

Hiking season has begun, and this weekend I will attend a couple of short hikes, Nashua, New Hampshire and Middlesex Fells, MA; there is a Sports and Fitness Expo at the Hynes Convention Center (on account of the Boston Marathon on Monday!) and meeting up with some friends, you know, just your average weekend. A little running also, as next week another road race awaits - the 1st Annual Back Bay Road Race! I will also be volunteering for the Boston Independent Film Festival in Somerville, so no shortage of entertainment there!

My friends, I hope you all have a nice weekend too. Be well and enjoy the great outdoors!


Friday, April 08, 2005

#44 Boston - Daily Notes, A Shakespeare Sonnet and a Civil Righs Poem - April 8, 2005

Friday, April 1:
April Fool's Day - No apparent traps anywhere, we'll see when the bank statement comes or if someone delivers a washing machine to my door. Who knows? The week does end on a high note - my first 5-mile test run in the evening (no collapse) - MGH to the Boston University Bridge and back. Christmas pounds and winter weight finally melting away!

Saturday, April 2:
AMC's all-day Bicycle Repair and Information Workshop in Concord. Perfect activity to pick, as it is raining cats and dogs all day. Learned something (what kind of bikes to use for what, how to replace an inner tube (yeah!!), what a derailleur is and that I better not fix it myself - no intention of touching that stuff on my own!). Now I can go out biking in the wilderness and have a flat (again, no intention of doing that either).
Saturday night, first to the gym - then onto Netflix night, I can't believe I am telling you this! I watched "Walking Tall" with "The Rock". 'Nuff said. Note: There was no beer involved!! (As a matter of fact, I had my last beer on March 20th!). Also some TV time at my neighbor Claire's place (feeding the cats and enjoying the big screen TV).

Sunday, April 3:
Lolling around on the couch, followed by successful retail therapy at Filene's Basement. Finally realized in my Sunday stupor that the clock had jumped an hour ahead - bloody daylight savings time... All of a sudden, lolling and dragging did not seem like such a good idea any more. Get crackin!

The Museum of Fine Arts ( was next - to see the Ralph Lauren car show on "Speed, Style and Beauty" ( - sold out, my friends! As the MFA is always a good bet on any day (rainy or not), I stayed and checked out the Asian Art collection, in particular a photography exhibit by Hiroshi Sugimoto, who became well known in the 1980s through his extremely long exposure photography, in which he was trying to combine the Eastern ideas of the creative process with the Western idea of conceptual art. Stunning photographs, simple in their beauty, in particular his nocturnal seascapes (the view from Mount Tamalpais included) and his somewhat bizarre obsession with theater and outdoor movie screens (including a phenomenal shot of Oakland's Art Deco Paramount Theater). [] Moved on to a great exhibit on the "Sword of the Samurai" and stunning selection of Japanese wedding kimonos (uchikake) and furisodes (kimono for unmarried women).
As only a fraction of the MFA's permanent collection is on exhibit at any given moment, my attempt to see my beloved Vermeer was for naught, but I did spend a few enjoyable minutes with the impressionists (always reliable).

Sunday evening - more Netflix ("The Day After Tomorrow") and Cat/Big-TV-sitting.

Monday, April 4:
Extended lunch hour, snuck away to Suffolk University Law School for a book reading by famous author Ha Jin - presenting his newest work "War and Trash". Got my copy of his book "Waiting" signed, one of my first ever book group books.
Evening - gym activity (remember the Christmas pounds!) - rowing machine for 6 K. More Cat/Big TV-sitting (I am so glad I do not have a cable hook-up at my place - you would not be reading any updates, ever!)

Tuesday, April 5: Same as yesterday (except for no rowing).

Wednesday, April 6: Attended the volunteer orientation for the Boston International Film Festival which will take place later this month ( Continued over to the auditorium for the Third Annual Boston Shakespeare Sonnet-thon, where my friend Renee presented Sonnet #141 (

In faith I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who, in despite of view, is pleased to dote.
Nor are mine ears with thy tongue's tune delighted;
Nor tender feeling, to base touches prone,
Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited
To any sensual feast with thee alone:
But my five wits nor my five senses can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee,
Who leaves unswayed the likeness of a man,
Thy proud heart's slave and vassal wretch to be:
Only my plague thus far I count my gain,
That she that makes me sin awards me pain.

Unfortunately I missed her reading, but enjoyed quite a few others along with an extremely giddy and delighted audience. His birthday and day of death are both April 23rd, so every year this poetry marathon is held in the Boston Public Library.

Wednesday, April 6:
Weekly jog with the Running Partners from MGH (Lynda #2 and I)

Thursday, April 7:
Opening Reception at the Panopticon Gallery in Hotel Commonwealth at Kenmore Square - Ernest Withers, famed African-American photographer, who captured many key moments of the civil rights movement (His "I am a Man" portfolio is legendary), and also depicted the music scene in the 1950s and 1960s in Memphis, Tennessee. His exhibit was named "The Color of Baseball" and featured both prints from the Negro Baseball Leagues (in black and white) and modern day baseball (in color). He is an absolute icon and at the tender age of 83 quite spry!

"I am a Man"
by Robert Worsham

Don’t look at me with disdain,
For I am not a weakling, I am a man.
I stood when to stand
brought severe reprimand,
I spoke, when to speak
brought denunciation from the weak,
and brutal attacks from those in power,
But to me this was my greatest hour,
With chin thrust out and head up proud,
I stood up straight and I said out loud,
I am a man!
And I shall always defy
the oppression of mankind
until the day I die.

Friday, April 8: Notes to Friends.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

#43 Boston - I'm Having a Hot Flash - March 31, 2005

Well, I am not quite that old, just in case if you wondered. I might go off the deep end once in a blue moon, but that is a whole other story. I actually went to the Stuart Street Playhouse this past weekend to see "Menopause, The Musical". Now, I love musicals to begin with, but this one was absolutely hilarious and so much fun! A platoon of four women (Power Woman, Soap Star, Earth Mother and the Iowa Housewife) danced and sung their way through the funk that attacks us babes a little later in life. Pop songs took on a whole different meaning - Smokey Robinson's "My Guy" turns into "My Thigh", Irving Berlin's "Heat Wave" becomes the "Hot Flash" and "Puff the Magic Dragon" ends up as "Puff, Boy I am Draggin". Girls, go see it and have laugh while you can! Guys, you better check it out, so you can see what's coming your way - start construction on that separate "man room" in the basement right now! (

I hope all of you had a lovely Easter weekend - it certainly was most wonderful here in New England - the weather was picture perfect! I had to put in some work time on Saturday morning (a great "opportunity to excel" over the past two weeks had presented itself - good project, lots to do, with some solid progress being made, so I am padding myself on the shoulder officially - right here, right now!!) - but I made up for it big time.

First I headed to Haymarket - located between Faneuil Hall and the North End, this very popular Friday-and-Saturday outdoor produce market is quite impressive. You can find some excellent bargains there, especially if you show up a little later in the day, where they practically throw the stuff at you. For a few bucks you can come home with pounds and pounds of carrots, potatos, salads, all fruits and veggies imaginable - it is quite the scene. Of course you really want to make sure that you do indeed want to buy ten bell peppers (even if they are only a dollar) or 6 pounds of carrots.

After visiting Bostix, the half-price ticket booth for my musical tickets, I headed out to the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum - it is the official memorial to JFK, who grew up here in Brookline and who was Massachusetts Senator before running for president. ( I have to say that this has been probably one of my most enjoyable outings here in Boston - after an introductory movie, you head out on a self-guided tour, which leads you through galleries depiciting anything from a mock 1960 Democratic Convention set-up, to 60s street scenes reminiscent of his presidential campaigns, multi-media presentations with the Nixon-Kennedy debates, and complete reconstructions of White House rooms. There are loads of original items from his presidency, including notes, desk accessories, speeches, letters, gifts received from foreign dignitaries - even Jackie's baby sweaters are there. Mixed in are tons of screens with original footage, John Glenn's astronaut suit, and other fascinating memorabilia. Very moving is the section with footage of his assassination in a completely black corridor, with just the words "22 November 1963" written on it, and three TV screens showing the news reporting from this tragic day. The last room contains a quite sizable section of the Berlin Wall and a statement that was made by JFK in June of 1963 : "Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades." Once you exit the tour, you end up in the Pavillion, which is stunning - a 115 -foot high atrium, whose walls are made from a scaffolding-like structure and glass - with a stunning view of Boston!

On Sunday, it was time to get moving, so I joined the AMC on a 6-mile hike in Groton, Mass. Thanks to some rather cryptic directions, I got to know the area really well and arrived a bit late, but the group was nice enough to wait. The Groton Town Forest turned out to be a lovely place to hike, there was still snow and ice galore, and Ella got to prove her "all-wheel-driveness" in a pretty slick parking area. The march lead along some abandoned railroad trails and we ended up having a lunch on an old railroad bridge, which was pretty cool. This was not a botanical hike, so no explanations by our trip leader (who was remarkably quiet), but I did make everyone at least sniff at the Wintergreen plants and explained the difference between red and white oaks to a few folks who were interested. Boot would be so proud of me! Once I got home, I decided the weather was too nice to sit inside, so I went for a 4-mile jog along the Esplanade - amazing what a little nice weather can do! Puts a little spring in your step!! I can never get tired of the view you have when jogging along the Charles River on the Cambridge Side looking over at the lovely city of Boston.

The week has been busy with work, work, work and work, and exercise in the evenings. This Tuesday I met up with my friend and neighbor Mike, who is an anaesthesiologist at the hospital and who was showing me pictures from his trip with an MGH crew for Project Hope, which provided medical help in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, to victims of the tsunami. Quite amazing pictures and it was impressive to hear first-hand accounts on the situation down there.

That's the news from the hub for now - Have a great weekend my friends, we are expecting torrential rains (some snow showers maybe), so it might be time to hit up some more museums!!



I have to add a little Boston tidbit (of course), from one of my favorite websites, Adam Gaffin's "", where he describes the "Great Molasses Flood of 1919" (I know, by now you are saying, what kind of a place is this? - Good thing is, we have not had one since!):
"If you had to choose how to die, drowning in molasses would probably not rank high on your list. On Jan. 15, 1919, 21 people, a dozen horses and at least one cat had no choice. A 58-foot-high, 90-foot-wide cast-iron tank holding 2.2 million gallons of molasses burst, sending a tsunami of the viscous liquid down Commercial at 35 m.p.h., destroying houses, commercial buildings and a part of the elevated railroad. Today, only a small plaque at the entrance to Puopolo Park commemorates the disaster. But climb up the terrace (which looks like a stone medieval rampart), look out over Commercial Street toward the harbor and imagine a three-story wall of molasses flowing past."

Friday, March 25, 2005

#42 Boston - Spring, haltingly.... March 25, 2005

Dare I hope that spring has arriveth? It looks alarmingly good, even though the threat of snow and cold weather still lingers in the air - for next week the folks at the Weather Channel are hopeful that temperatures will soar into the upper 50s, I even saw a 61 F in there somewhere. This week has been wonderful weather-wise, with a tiny little storm in there and some snowy-looking rain, but New Englanders are hoping that they have finally exhausted Mother Nature and her winter habits.

It has been a week with lots of activity, especially the healthy kind, as an anxious glance at the scale indicated that it is time to get movin' (the scale was supported in its assessment by my "benchmark" jeans, who have requested a bit more air between me and the fabric). My days (and meals) have been filled with salads and vegetables as opposed to the winter-root-carbo-loaded victuals of the months past. The gym has been visited quite often, and thanks to the television sets across from the cardio equipment I am now again up to date on every reality TV show on the planet. Celery combined with celerity is the motto for the upcoming weeks, and with the weather on the mend, I am looking forward to releasing my bicycle from winter prison and get the roller blades going.

The past weekend was most pleasant (except for a little "let's get lost in Brighton episode") - kicked off by a Thai lunch in lovely Brookline with my friends Mona and PJ on Saturday afternoon.
In the evening, I joined my friends Linda (still #1) and Roger first for a beer at Ned Devine's Irish Pub at Quincy hall before heading to Faneuil Hall to hear the Musicians of the Old Post Road. [] This chamber music ensemble that specializes in period instrument performance of music from the Baroque, Classical and early Romantic periods was founded in 1989 and brings its lovely music to beautiful historic buildings along the original route of the old Boston Post Road, the first passage connecting Boston and NYC in the late 17th century. The first post rider hustled from NY to Boston on January 22nd, 1673 and thus established the first major overland route in the American colonies. It took the poor chap almost three weeks to cover the 250 miles! "Music from Madrid" featured two Italian composers, Gaetano Brunetti (1744-1798), who was a composer for the King Charles IV of Spain, and Luigi Boccherini, who wrote tunes for the King's brother.
I know I have provided you with numerous iterations on how great Faneuil Hall is (you can pronounce it the French way or Boston style, which sounds more like "fennel") - it still never ceases to impress me! Its amazing history and development from marketplace to the "cradle of liberty" is adequately stated in this little poem by Francis Hatch (1958): " Here orators in ages past - Have mounted their attacks - Undaunted by proximity - Of Sausage on the racks." An extra little tidbit about this great building is that the weathervane on top, which prominently features a grasshopper, is the only part of Faneuil Hall that remains totally unmodified from the original 1742 structure and according to the brochure is "a fine example of colonial artistry."

Sunday was entirely devoted to St.Paddy's day celebrations and we started off with (what else) a road race - the Ras na hEireann race in Somerville - 2500 motivated (mostly by the promise of free beer and soda bread afterwards) runners lined up in front of my favorite Irish Pub, "The Burren" and got crackin'. Now, bottom line is, I did well with a time of 9:16 minutes/mile, but I tell you folks, it was not pretty! I was seriously huffing and puffing - thoughts of impending death and immediate collapse were on my mind, and I could see myself sprawled out on some side street in Somerville with 1500 of the remaining runners trampling over my exhausted body. After the race and after receiving a medal (everyone did for finishing), Elaine and I went to The Burren for our free beer (alas, t'was not green), and then I got myself on public transportation and headed over to Southie (aka South Boston) for the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. Considered the heart of Irish Boston (, Southie is quite wonderful, and the parade is a very old-fashioned, traditional parade - with lots of firemen, police officers, veterans, marching bands and bagpipe players, and girls twirling batons high up in the air. My favorite group were the Cycling Murrays, Irish flute players on uni-cycles (only in America!!!) and some guy who was running for office who came over personally to shake my hand. Little does he know that I can't vote squat in this country. Main thing I made his day, eh?
I hung out with my friends Barbara and Anita who just recently purchased a condo across from the L Street Bathhouse, just down the street from Fort Independence and Castle Island - one of the Boston Harbor Islands that is really not an island any more (sort of sticks out into the harbor - The two took me on a tour of Southie - and of course, we had to stop at Barbara's brother Michael's house for some tasty corned beef and cabbage.

Aside from the no-nonsense exercise regimen this week, I got a little cultural fix in by volunteering with Boston Cares, this time at the American Repertory Theatre for the play "Dido - Queen of Carthage" ( - the tragic story of Queen Dido who rules over the very civilized city of Carthage in North Africa. She fatefully (and with the help of some nefarious deities) meets Aeneas, who with his son Ascarius has survived the Trojan war. A very well acted play - full of drama (of course) and humor with some interesting interpretations of some of the characters. Cupid was effeminately gay, Aeneas sounded a bit Irish and Juno, sister of Jupiter was played by a drag queen. That's Cambridge for you!

My friends, with these images in mind, I bid you farewell - may you have a enjoyable weekend!


Quote of the Day: "If you cannot convince them, confuse them." (Harry Truman).

Thursday, March 17, 2005

#41 - Boston - Bears, Pirates and Chinese Sushi Delivery - Oh My! - March 17, 2005

I don't even know where to start this time, to be honest. In some ways this week was wonderful, exciting, filled with wonderful adventures and events - the past two days however had "catastrophe" written all over them, and made my colleague Renee call me "Mrs Worst Day Ever". That would have been yesterday, and let's just get this awful stuff right out of the way, so that you can immediately send me an email, saying "oooohh, you poor thing" and I can at least bask a little in a sea of pity and sympathy.

The groundwork for this little "day of doom" was laid on Tuesday evening with the arrival of my new techno toy, the Blackberry. All excited about it, I hooked it up to the computer (as per specifications from our IT department) and "wham!" the computer crashed - really crashed. It made that sound that light bulbs make when they blow up, and I though to myself "This cannot be good". Upon restarting it, that dreaded all-blue screen came up with a mile-long error message. I decided to call it a day at this point, and head off to the book group dinner.

Wednesday morning started out somewhat innocent, but then a sequence of unfortunate events ensued. Ella, the caah, was not showing any signs of life. I had left the overhead light on since Sunday and the battery was d-e-a-d. I got someone to jump start her and was driving Ella around when on the way back home a Chinese sushi delivery truck bumped into me. I was standing at a red traffic light with other cars as well - but apparently the guy did not know where his brakes were. On the positive side, nothing happened to me, and Ella has only sustained the tiniest of nicks (one of those that when I tell you where it is you will see it......), so she is now considered a bona fide Boston city caah with her first war injury. When I returned, slightly frazzled to home base at MGH, the computer techs showed up, took one look at my computer and said "You need a new hard drive." In my quest to do my work, I was then relocated to the receptionist desk, which made the day somewhat interesting. After receiving the new hard drive and the tech actually hooked up the Blackberry, most was copasetic, except for the fact that the BB does not synchronize any of my emails..... And the saga continues....

I am happy to report that my jog with fellow running club mate Joanne yesterday evening was uneventful, and I did not get attacked by any trees or so, and today (Happy St. Patrick's Day!!)has been fairly benign aside from a couple of minor food-related incidents that have not contributed to enhancing today's outfit. A pint of green beer at Kinsale might be in order today to forget about all this.

Now to the good stuff - a weekend, chockful of events and memorable experiences. Friday night I attended a slide show at REI, where author Peter Potterfield presented his new book "Classic Hikes of the World" - phenomenal slides reminding me of all those wonderful places I still need to visit: Denali in Alaska (that is where the bears are...), Patagonia, Himalayas, Sweden's Highlands, King George Island (Antarctica)..... Mileage donations are being accepted!

On Saturday morning, I headed for Lynn Woods, about 11 miles north of Boston, and one of the largest municipal forests in the country. It was raining cats and dogs that morning, so instead of doing work on the trails we decided to do some paintwork in the ranger's house/visitor center. Once the rain turned into snow we headed out onto the trails, removed some toppled trees and went for a hike.

Now Lynn Woods, my friends, has a pretty interesting history
( A pirate named Thomas Veal housed there sometime in the 17th century, hiding out in a cave guarding a treasure acquired by him and fellow pirates. Legend has it that during an earthquake in 1658 he got crushed by a huge boulder and that was the end of poor Thomas. Subsequently spiritualist Hiram Marble and his son Edward kept digging tunnels near Dungeon Rock (the boulder that crushed unlucky Tom) to find the treasure, but 30 years of digging did not turn up anything. Under the guidance of Ranger Dan and armed with flash lights we did manage to go down into the Marbles' tunnels, 35 feet under ground. Very cool! Once a year Lynn Woods celebrates Dungeon Rock Day, where you can dress as a pirate and hike through the woods and hunt for a treasure or just stop by at the Hog's Breath Inn for grog and cookies. Lynn Woods is a magnificent place to hike - all 2200 acres of it.

Saturday night, I volunteered (yes, again with Boston Cares) at an event in Cambridge, where Musica Sacra ( performed a "Choral Bestiary" at the First Church Congregational at the Cambridge Common. A very nice and interesting program, flimsy and funny; all of the pieces performed related to animals somehow - among my favorites were McCord's Menagerie ("Let us ponder the condor; biggest thing on the wing, like a kit on a string; a subject not cultural, but very vultural" / "Jaculus jaculus (a gerbil) – Nothing miraculous, rat of a sort, front legs too short, hind legs too long, All rather wrong") and El Bestiari de Pere Quart ("Bacillus - Not a good speck, the Microbe").

On Sunday morning, as promised, I went on my second naturalist hike with Boot Boutwell of the AMC. Again, Boot was a trip leader extraordinaire and did not disappoint. It had snowed the day before, so the Mass Audubon Habitat in Belmont was an absolutely postcard-picture-perfect winter wonderland ( I was able to apply my knowledge from our last hike, but there were many new lessons in botany to absorb (the spice bush and the striped maple were among my favorites) and interesting New England stories to learn. The plant of the day was the Winged Euonymous ( or Japanese Spindle tree, which is quite unmistakable. The best Story of the Day was under the Headline of "Who ate Roger Williams?"
( - as we pondered the local apple trees, Boot related the story of Rhode Island founder Roger Williams, who was buried on his family farm, and when the Rhode Island Historical Society wanted to exhume him to give him a proper burial (him being the founder of the state and such) poor dead Roger was gone, poof! Apparently the apple tree got to him, the roots into the coffin exactly depicted his body shape.....
Also got to sample maple syrup right from the tree (tastes not like much as it needs to be boiled down first, but we had to try, right?).

Sunday night, again (I should be volunteer of the month!) I assisted with Boston Cares, this time at the Huntington Theater ushering at a play called "36 Views" - great acting, phenomenal stage work, beautiful theater and a pretty nifty topic - art dealers, fraud, Asian antiques, and a love story as well.

The week (aside from the calamities, which in hindsight are not sooo bad) has been filled with seeing friends and on Tuesday night with the book group, who in connection with reading Khaled Hosseini's book "The Kite Runner" went to "The Helmand", an Afghan restaurant right across the river in Cambridge and enjoyed some pretty spectacular food!

The end of this week and weekend will be filled with St. Paddy's day activities, including a road race on Sunday (The Ras na hEireann Race) and the parade in Southie, as well as some solid couch time, and hanging out with friends, new and old.

Slan go foill,


I have to add a little morsel that I have been saving up and it really does not fit with anything in here, but is just a fun thing to know.
There is a lake in Massachusetts - Webster Lake in Webster - its Native American name is: Lake Chargoggagoggmanchaugagochaubunagungamaug or Lake
Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, which translates into "you fish on that side, we'll fish on this side and nobody will fish in the middle".

Thursday, March 10, 2005

#40 Boston - The Lump - March 10, 2005

Aaah - yes, that would be me - the lump. Jet lag has turned me into the quintessential sofa spud this week, tired, wrinkled and with the biting temperatures outside the weather has made it easy for me to indulge my body's wish for down time. I have already consumed all my Netlfix movies that awaited me at home, and am now moving on to magazines and books, nothing is safe as long as I don't have to leave the sofa.

I returned to Boston late Sunday where conditions have been muy frio, mis amigos! Tuesday morning I left for work with a balmy 40 degrees, so decided to put on a short skirt, and leave the polar wear at home. When I returned from work at 6 PM, I was welcomed by ... well, what was it? Hard to say, it looked like snow and all was white, but I swear it was raining ice! Cursing and cussing I ran down the street in my little skirt and my little pumps, and was convinced that I would never make the 100-yard dash home without sustaining serious frostbite. Massachusetts weather at its best, yet again (and no, I am not tired of it yet...)! That night, the sky kept dropping rain, sleet, snow, ice and who-knows-what, and combined with crazed gusts of wind, I could observe the most unbelievable display of weather-related turbulences. Needless to say the running group this week has not taken place, and we are hoping that by tomorrow we might be able to make a feeble attempt at jogging outside.

Meanwhile, back in Amsterdam the weather had been equally disconcerting, at least to the Dutch, who had not seen weather like this (8 inches of snow) in 25 years. The city was obviously overwhelmed, side walks were either not cleared at all (which made for some nice icy surfaces to slide around on) or attempted to be cleared with diggers and dredgers that they pulled off the closest construction site. The airport shut down and when my boss arrived a day late, he could not believe that they closed the airport for this imperceptible amount of snow - he was expecting huge snow drifts and blizzard-like conditions New England style.

The conference itself was enjoyable and busy, held at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, a mere 20-minute walk from my hotel. We were all given passes for the trams, but after experiencing one ride, I decided to walk - people were packed in like sardines - scenes reminiscent of the Tokyo subway, where they push people in until they pass out. About 300 people attended, a very small conference by comparison, but it allowed some more in-depth discussions with those who were there.

Friday night, the organizers had come up with a social program - I was a little suspicious at first, since by its name alone I could not - even by stretching my imagination - figure out what it was or supposed to be. "Boom Chicago" ( is apparently an Amsterdam institution. Most of the conference attendees and yours truly crammed into the 300-seat Leidseplein Theater for dinner and a show. Not only was the dinner top notch, but so was the program! Boom Chicago is an improv troupe - with some scripted skits but most of it improvised - with (in our case) enthusiastic cooperation from the audience. We had a grand old time, folks! Amber Ruffin, Tim Sniffen, Rachel Miller and Rob Andrist entertained us to no end, and even I made it into one of their little parodies ("Where's my little Petra?). A particular crowd favorite was a segment called "Dutch Products We Are not Going to Endorse" which included "Sissy" (soda), "Pipi" (toilet Paper), "Retard" (a cough syrup if I remember correctly) and some other unmentionables.

The Dutch are a friendly, but dangerous kind - as I learned one evening in my hotel, when I headed for the bar for a night cap, and got involved in an interesting discussion with two sailboat sales guys from the Netherlands. I learned that the beer I was drinking was called an "amsterdammetje" and I was educated about a New Year's custom called "Carbidschieten", where it is apparently pretty easy to blow your head off (If you want to experience "Death by Milk", this might be for you - carbide is put into a milk can with some water, which makes explosive acetylene gas and is subsequently set on fire). Apparently people die from getting in the way of these exploding milk cans! These people are insane!

The weekend is coming near, and after vegging out at my house all week, it is time for some action and outdoor activities! I will be attending a slide show at REI on Friday on "Classic Hikes of the World"; will do some trail conservation work with Boston Cares on Saturday up in Lynn Woods (a 2,200-acre municipal forest park north of Boston); and on Sunday, go on a hike with Boot, the AMC naturalist - this time in Belmont at the Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, just six miles northwest of downtown Boston - so look for another botanical lesson coming your way! We are expecting snow again this weekend, so this might be interesting!

I hope this update finds you in good spirits - until then! Goede Avend!


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

#39 Boston - Germany - Amsterdam - March 2nd, 2005

"Wenn einer eine Reise tut, dann kann er was erzaehlen" - "Those who travel, have tales to tell" - that could certainly be the motto of the little trip I took this time, leading me from my chosen residence of Boston to Germany and then to Amsterdam. Getting to Amsterdam was not that easy as it has been snowing here non-stop since last night. Our plane was delayed for a solid hour-and-a-half, circling above the snowy skies. The cabbie this morning had told me that it was announced on the radio that this has been the biggest snow storm in 20 years, and as of now it has yet to stop. The Netherlands generally don't see a lot of snow, and apparently at the sight of even one snowflake all hell breaks lose here.
The Amsterdamers (-damians?) are as giddy as I have ever seen anyone at the sight of the white stuff, grown-ups are engaged in snow ball fights on the streets out there and on the slanted roof of a subway station near the Rijksmuseum (where they have the Rembrandts and such - kids were zooming down the hill on sleds, garbage bags and cardboard boxes (you can tell they are not prepared).
Apparently throwing snowballs at passing cars is a past-time here as well - scared the bejesus out of me. That and the crazy bike riders - no weather can deter them from riding these deadly weapons. They just put a plastic bag over their bike seat and who cares if the snow storm of the century is taking place. When Noah loaded up the Arc, the only people out there most likely were Dutch bicyclists. Scary -at some point paranoia actually starts to set in, every step you take you are convinced that one of them will get you. They would not even flinch, I swear!
Aside from the constant fear of being run over by a bike, Amsterdam is a beautiful, gorgeous city - and even more stunning in the snow. You can walk along its famous canals, the Grachten, or pay a visit to Vinny's place (The Vincent Van Gogh Museum - - don't even think that it is pronounced "van go" - it sounds as if you just had your windpipe removed and could only croak out some strange, raspy sounds). Van Gogh was a disturbed fellow, mostly in and out of his mind - to use a description I read in a book "his eyes glinted with a light not quite sane" - spent some time in Holland, some time in France, some time in the loony bin, went back and forth between being a evangelist preacher or an artist, cut off his ear at some point, and eventually committed suicide. His art is simply stunning, some of it so cheerful that it is hard to imagine it came from such a troubled mind !!
Also paid a visit to the Anne Frank House (, which is an absolute must if you are in Amsterdam. A very moving place, fitting tribute to a young woman who had such vivid dreams and hopes in the face of such overwhelming tragedy.

Amsterdam is very hip, very international, everyone speaks at least Dutch, German and English, great food as well! On the way back to my hotel I played my favorite game trying to find interesting names of places and so far we have a few winners here: Shampoo Palace, Cafe van Puffelen and a store whose name I forgot, but which featured head-bobbing Jesuses and kids tees with the words "My Mummy is a Yummy Mummy." They also had card board versions of Van Gogh's ear, but I managed to resist the temptation.

During this past week, Europe has definitely shown itself from its chilly side, temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius in Germany, actually minus 40 degrees in some corners of Bavaria. It snowed my first night in Germany as well, I seemed to have brought the Boston weather with me. Arrived in Germany last Saturday, and after a hide-and-seek game with my brother at Basel Airport (the airport has exits to France, Germany and Switzerland - I waited in Switzerland, my brother was in France), headed home for a power lunch and power nap before the first friends arrived. The coffee and cake event turned into a joint performance between my brother's parrot Carlo and my friend Margit's 4-month old son JT - the two of them riled each other up in a cacophony of sounds which was definitely unmatched and should have been recorded.
Sunday the whole family went out for brunch at my friend Helga's Hotel Anika ( - we ate and ate and ate.... The brunch at her place had definitely a very different style to it. Food was served sequentially and so we sat there eating for three hours straight. Felt just like Thanksgiving, buttons were popping, people were drinking Jaegermeister to help with the digestion, and everyone was ready for a nice long map. And of course, there is no better place to observe rude behavior than at a buffet table. The food items had barely been placed down when said leeches lined up to fill their plate again and again. In addition, there were some unsatisfactory states of personal hygiene, which did not increase their popularity with the rest of the room.
Sunday night the Schoki Club met again for some mediocre Greek food (not that this was our intention), but some cocktails helped to mediate the situation eventually. Monday I met up with my friends Roland and Ulla, who are celebrating their wedding this Saturday (Congratulations!!!), at a most quaint restaurant, the Klemmbachmuehle (Klemm Creek Mill) - located in the foothills of the Blackforest, very rustic, good hearty food and beautifully situated.

Of course, throughout the whole week, I also have been sick - not the big dreaded lurgy, but maybe a mini-lurgy of sorts, turning my nose into a beacon and my mind into mush.

Other travel observations:

*No one seemed to be bothered that there was a bird flying around the terminal at Washington, Dulles airport.
*What better place for smokers than the smoker's lounge at said airport (miracle that the bird is still alive, but then again, he may not have gone near the smoker's lounge) - one room, completely enclosed, surrounded by other smokers and a thick juicy nicotine fog - must be the ultimate thrill and nicotine rush, eh?
*During the flight from Boston to Dulles, I had the pleasure of sitting right next to the "facilities", and apparently I was the only person on the plane capable of opening the door - even the flight attendants needed my help.

My friends, it is time to go - more news from Amsterdam after my return to Boston. A few kudos to some of you who have become quite the wordsmiths in your updates to me - First place goes to Murriah, whose reaction to the Raspberry Honey Ale was that it sounded "gag-able" and second place to my friend Linda for the use of "harpsichordy"!



Thursday, February 24, 2005

#38 Boston - Just Another Ordinary Week - February 24, 2005

Thursday - February 17th:

Hectic at work.

Attend Mass High Tech (an industry publication) "Women to Watch" award at the Ritz Hotel near the Public Garden. Enjoy event, leave with massive inferiority complex. Exit hotel screaming "What have I done with my life??? Nothing!!). Meet some nice folks though - plans for a slumber party with the "cooltime gang" (don't ask) are being hatched.

Remembered to tell you about Commonwealth Avenue, the stateliest (is that a word?) street in Boston. During the winter season the trees are decorated with lights, and you can walk down the grassy middle part to admire various sculpture gardens including the Boston Women's Memorial (, which honors Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone and Phillis Wheatley. Also impressive is the Vendome Memorial which honors nine firefighters who lost their lives in June of 1972 at the Hotel Vendome, when the fire-damaged hotel's floor unexpectedly collapsed. (

Wondered about email regarding patient confidentiality and celebrities at work, then learned that New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi was at MGH - had suffered a mild stroke. I encounter patients in the hallway pulling their IVs looking for him. Darn Rubberneckers!

Friday - February 18th:

Hectic at work.

Tedy Bruschi leaves hospital.

Meet Josephine at the Tavern near Central Square. Nice pub, everybody and their cousin is in there, horrendously noisy. Good food, excellent beer selection. New favorite:Spanish Peaks Honey Raspberry Ale. Muy bien! Head out in sub-arctic temperatures (0 Fahrenheit or so), return home missing several extremities, frostbite most likely.

Ruth tells me the story of the "smoot" (remember the Harvard Bridge which runs to MIT and is measured in smoots (let's see if you did pay attention!):

He was an MIT undergrad in the 1950s who was a fraternity member at Lambda Chi Alpha on Bay State Road, thus he had to cross the Harvard bridge each day to get to and from campus. Oliver Smoot happened to be the shortest brother in the fraternity at 5' ft 7". One night, his brothers decided to lay him from end-to-end and measure out the bridge in Smoots-lengths. LCA still maintains the Smoot-markings on the bridge, forcing their pledges to re-paint them twice a year....The length of the bridge is officially 364.4 smoots plus one ear.

Another little tidbit about Harvard Bridge - there is a sign on the Bridge from the Society for American Magicians honoring Harry Houdini, who in late April of 1908 performed one of his famed manacled jumps from Harvard Bridge, followed by an underwater escape in the Charles River. (

Success: Found cheap and good hairdresser, in Boston! (Actually in the hospital salon!)

Saturday - February 19th:

No hectic, no work.

Mid-morning jog along the Charles River Esplanade - what was I thinking?? I can't breathe, too cold, lungs are constricting, fear of having a blood vessel burst in my brain. Make it home without any aneurisms, feeling much better.

Leave Boston proper to head for Stony Brook State Reservation for hike with AMC. I am leaving worried, talked to the trip leader the day before who sounded like he was 200 years old. Could not understand a single word of his directions. To get to Stony Brook you get to drive pretty much through every "so-so" and "not-so" neighborhood in Boston. Upon arriving discovered that trip leader is indeed 200 years old. He wimps out on us after 1 1/2 hours of the 3-hour planned hike. On the way home get lost in Uphams Corner.....

Meet Ruth for late night drinks at the Hill Tavern on Cambridge Street. Good times making fun of the diaper bag ladies (aka the quilt bag brigades).

Sunday - February 20th:

No hectic, no work.

Spend the morning knitting a scarf (no, I am not done yet). Yet another hike with the AMC, this time with very competent trip leader (not 200 years old). Hike is near Concord, MA at the Great Meadows - just 20 miles or so outside of Boston. - phenomenal place - abundant flora and fauna. Large hiking group with some familiar faces. Trails require fancy footwork on account of ice, in addition it is friggin' cold!! Put on face mask to avoid losing more extremities.

Sunday Night - Netflix Night - Recommendation: "Lonestar"

It is starting to snow.

Monday - February 21st:

Presidents Day Holiday - No hectic.

Laundry. Then off to successful retail therapy at Downtown Crossing. Meet Ruth for Mexican hot cocoa. Still snowing.
Stop by at my neighbor Claire's for Chocolate Martini. Forget about laundry.
Walk across the Longfellow Bridge (also known as the Salt and Pepper Bridge, as its towers look like salt and pepper shakers ( Meet Linda (#3) at Kendall Theater to see "The Merchant of Venice" with Al Pacino. Absolutely brilliant movie! Made me believe that Al Pacino is Jewish. Now that's acting! A must-see!

Tuesday - February 22nd:

Work. Slightly hectic.
Snow stopped.
Discovered that my name is mentioned in the Improper Bostonian. Picture did not make it. That good, eh?
Dinner at Antonio's on Cambridge Street.
Snow started.

Wednesday - February 23rd:

Work. Alright.
Snow stopped.

Hosting Running Partners, the running group of the hospital. Again, fancy footwork on account of ice. Start packing for trip to Europe.



Thursday, February 17, 2005

#37 Boston - Bob and Jerry - February 17, 2005

No, it is not a new ice cream flava, but rather another installment of "odd couples you meet on the bus". This one was a rather unusual and to a certain extent, very unpleasant combination, in particular as Bob (who was the main annoyance here) communicated over my head with Jerry, the victim of his palaverous assaults, and thoughts of inflicting pain and torture started forming in my mind. Good thing this happened only on the way back from Sunday River, Maine, and other good thing, we had a movie to play, which put and end to Mr Blabbermouth behind me. Now Jerry, said bus driver, was a nice guy- if we were in the 60s you would have described him as a "cool cat"- and he was not amused either by all that meddling, in particular, because Bob started really getting into it, and threw a few insults into the mix. "Hey Jerry, got White Line Fever?" (Let's have Bob try to steer a bus like that in snowy weather, shall we?)

Aside from this episode of Bob's Bus Lectures, the trip to Sunday River, Maine was simply wonderful and of stunning beauty. Winter as it should be! It snowed there the week prior, and the pine tree state presented itself as the queen of New England, with luscious forests, covered in picture perfect snow and a bright blue sky. Ski enthusiasts were out in force, and Sunday River with its eight peaks certainly had the might to handle them. Ruth and I had signed up for the Boston Ski and Sports Club's "Winterfest", which included a whole array of activities that promised to exhaust us by the late afternoon. The morning was spent to cross country ski (away from the thousands of down hill skiers and crazy snow boarders up on the mountain) - perfectly manicured tracks and almost no one around, trees forming an arch over the trails through which the blue sky and the sun occasionally peaked through. We went along some interesting trails such as the Fire Pit, Stone Wall and Turkey Run, but ended up heading down the Wanigan trail, which led us to one of New England's most famous wooden covered bridges ( Only nine of Maine's originally 120 covered wooden bridges remain. They were originally built to make traversing rivers safe during the harsh and icy winters in the Northeast.

Lunch happened at White Cap, one of the centers of Sunday River, and after some decent carbo-loading we went on to our next adventure, tubing! Basically you zip down the mountain on your stomach on these giant inflated tires, hold on to two handles, and pray to the high heavens that the speed won't take you up over the walls and into the path of some unsuspecting snow boarders. The first couple of times you really get dinged around quite a bit, and might suffer from a slight bout of nausea, but once you figure out how to steer the damn thing, there is no going back. This is as close as I will ever come to experiencing the luge and I was loving it! My hiking boots have not yet forgiven me for the abuse they suffered, as they were seriously required to slow down on the course, but it is a small sacrifice for so much fun. The rest of the day was spent in front of a cozy fire place in the lodge, and some of my bus mates spent maybe a bit too much quality time up at the "Foggy Goggle", the local bar and hangout.

This past Friday, I again volunteered with Boston Cares, this time at Faneuil Hall ( for a performance of the Boston Classical Orchestra. Certainly an interesting event - the overture to Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro", followed by "Incidental Music to "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by Mendelssohn, narrated by local WCRB radio host Ray Brown and topped of by a world premiere of Stephen Halloran's "Concerto for New Orleans". In this last piece the BCO joined a jazz sextet called "Made in the Shade" who brought a unique blend of New Orleans jazz, swing, ethnic and folk music to the table. A very enjoyable evening (only slightly interrupted by some fainting patrons who had to be shipped off by ambulance).

The week has been busy as usual, work is dynamic and interesting. The past few days have featured a good amount of social events, including a book club meeting at my new favorite place to go to (and it is only three blocks from my house): Boston Beer Works ( on Canal Street. This definitely is a good hangout for me - great food, really great food, and some stellar brews! My choices for the evening were "You Handsome Devil", a Belgian style ale and the "Bunker Hill Blueberry Ale" which had actual blueberries in it. Yumm, Yumm and Yumm! Yesterday was MGH Running Group, and a social with one of my neighbors who just returned from Germany. Tonight I am heading to the Ritz Carlton for a little affair on "Mass High Tech Women to Watch" - hoping to be one of them one day, I will attend and do some serious networking.

It has been a very nice week here, with a couple of teasers where the weather warmed up to a very balmy 50 degrees, but as of today we are back to cold, cold and cold. The holiday weekend is upon us, and boy, do we need it! I will stay in town for some nice local hikes, lots of reading and some initial packing for my trip next Friday to Europe. Because of my upcoming travels, I will miss the opening reception for the art exhibit here at the hospital where my photograph is displayed, so all my Boston friends can come, look at it, and say whatever they want behind my back!

I have not done this in a while, so here are some final tidbits for you:

*The state bird of Maine is the chickadee! (It is also the state bird for Massachusetts.)
*Aside from Stephen King, other famous Mainers (no, it is not Mainees!) are Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (the poet) and film director John Ford.

* Some more Boston stuff from my friends at that you should absolutely know:

*There are two State Houses, two City Halls, two courthouses, two Hancock buildings. There's also a Boston Latin School and a Boston Latin Academy.
* Route 128 is also I-95. It is also I-93.
*The Harvard Bridge goes to MIT. It's measured in 'smoots.'
*Johnson never should have hit for Willoughby.
*The subway doesn't run all night. This isn't Noo Yawk.