Monday, August 29, 2011
Just when you thought you would not have to hear any more about Hurricane Irene, along comes my blog about it. Mercifully, this blog is brief. I was impressed with the non-stop, comprehensive coverage provided by the Weather Channel and other national and local broadcasters as this record storm made its way up the East Coast of the United States. What an extraordinary example of how today's technology benefits our lives. Imagine a storm of this intensity a hundred years ago - fatalities would probably have been many many thousands of people. For us today though, having reporters on site providing observations, having real-time access to satellite and ground radar images - these are benefits that have remarkably improved our lives and safety.
The beauty of this sunrise belies the cause - this is the approaching edge of the outermost cloud bands associated with Hurricane Irene.
A few hours worth of rainfall in our yard - we ended up with 3 1/2 inches total - not that much compared to many past rainstorms or other locations in the path of this storm.
Imagine the value of this information a hundred years ago to a sailor or shipper or farmer or builder trying to make plans - we take this technology for granted and EXPECT it to be available to us all the time.
Damage-wise from the storm, we were fortunate in that only some high branches from tall maple trees snapped off and fell on our power lines and back deck railings.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
At the end of this Blog, you will learn about an extraordinary secret of the universe that apparently, I may be the very first to unveil here today. It will alter life on earth as we know it - like Galileo, and Copernicus, and Gutenberg, and Franklin, and Marconi, and Gates, and Jobs - one day, I will be spoken of in the same breath. But first, let's talk about ANOTHER PERFECT evening in Boston!
Lying on the grass beside the pond in the Boston Public Garden, a young woman enjoys reading a book on this beautiful afternoon. I'm not sure how this would look if she were holding an electronic reader but ........
Though still strikingly green, the first hints of shorter days and the coolness of Fall to come are starting to appear.
Although Boston automobile drivers are reputed to be among the most aggressive and self-centered anywhere, here is proof otherwise - we are so mellow during the warm summer days that passengers AND drivers (and dogs of course) enjoy parts of their bodies hanging outside the windows in the breeze. I don't know how she operated the gas pedal - the brake pedal is a moot point since Boston drivers never yield to others so operating the brake pedal would be unnecessary. (Rule #1: Never make eye contact with other drivers. Rule #2: Don't use turn signals- it reveals your intentions to the enemy).
The day draws to a close for commuters on Storrow Drive near the Longfellow Bridge. The John Hancock building is on the horizon.
Even in the dark, Acorn Street on Beacon Hill is a special place. Ironic that today it's extraordinarily valuable real estate - but, local folklore says that back in the early 1800's these brick row houses were built by the well-to-do families on the back of their estates to conveniently house their servants and tradespeople.Who'd have thought.......these mostly 2000-3000 square foot homes are now worth plus or minus $2 million bucks according to Zillow.com.
Over in the theatre district, the marquee of the 1932 majestic Paramount Theatre glows brightly. It was rescued from oblivion and restored by Millennium Partners and then later renovated by Emerson College for live performances.
Adjacent to the Paramount on one side and the Opera House on the other, this facade of the former Bijou Theatre features a way-cool light show in its windows. Click to play a glimpse of it.
Of course, the ever present and always active photographers of the Plymouth Digital Photographers (PDP) Club were seen creating more of their striking images through the window of this Charles Street restaurant. This is the street level kitchen of the restaurant Artu. Imagine the thousands of people that walk by these windows every day and look at the chefs working. Gives true meaning to transparency.......
Those PDP photographers even kneel in the streets to get the perfect shot. Notice that I'm standing safely on the sidewalk.
And now the big secret is revealed at last!!
First, if you skipped ahead to learn the secret, you are hereby reprimanded and not eligible to be one of my initial investors in this earth-shaking new technology. But pictured above here, before your very eyes and captured for all to see, is the method pioneered by Boston to obtain light and power directly from the external universe. It has often been said that Boston is the center of the universe and this discovery would seem to validate that. We pull the energy directly from the heavens right into our lighting devices - clean, renewable, unlimited - I'll keep you posted on my upcoming initial public stock offering so you can become a part of this exiting future investment opportunity!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
To some folks, Lowell is a hardscrabble New England former mill town. It may be that but, for me it's been the site every summer of great outdoor live music. Whether you bring your own chair or sprawl on a blanket on the grass - you can enjoy live outdoor music at the Annual Folk Festival or through the weekly Friday/Saturday night Summer Music Series concerts. Staged at Boardinghouse Park, the sponsors are the National Park Service in partnership with local businesses. Here's their link: Lowell Summer Music Series. Season passes or individual tickets are available to attend the weekly shows (the Folk Festival is free).
The stage is set, the sound check is done, the lights are on, and the crowd filters in for another PERFECT New England summer night for music under the stars. To sit outside with temperatures in the mid-70'sF and listen to live music is a treat of which I never get tired.
Tonight's performer was Eileen Ivers and her band Immigrant Soul. A phenomenal fiddler, she blends traditional Irish music with hints of folk, bluegrass, Caribbean, soul, and classical styles and delights crowds everywhere.
Following are two brief samples:
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Sometimes - there is a moment after a long, heavy, steady rainstorm - a moment when the air is still and clear - a moment when the world looks scrubbed clean - a moment when the day's last light shines through the parting clouds.......a moment like today on Bartlett Pond.
Friday, August 12, 2011
On this PERFECT summer day in New England, low humidity, temperature 75 F, light breeze, mostly clear blue skies, very, very few kids could be seen outside enjoying the world. Beautiful natural spaces and outdoor sports facilities stand underused. I'll bet the Ipod, or Wii, or Xbox, or whatever other popular electronic item folks have is being used indoors instead.
Beginning five miles north of downtown Boston stands the Middlesex Fells Reservation. This 3000-acre property affords all folks the opportunity for outdoor enjoyment in a nature preserve. (By the way, "Fells" is an English word for rocky, windblown hills.) From this promontory on Pine Hill at the southern edge of the Fells, part of the city of Medford stretches out in the foreground with the city of Boston on the horizon.
Although I doubt my son remembers, when he was five or so, while hiking one of these trails in spring, we came upon a roiling, boiling, swirling mass of garter snakes, lying in the warming sun adjacent to the trail. (It actually may have been a "mating ball" of many male snakes and one female but I didn't know that at the time.) In any case, what an infrequent and wonderful sight for a young mind to enjoy.
Here's a good technique to build a picnic table that is extremely difficult to vandalize - rock and mortar.
This Medford city park has a basketball court, a tennis court, a soccer field, and a playground - all seeing very little use on this beautiful day. (Although I did use the tennis court to practice my serve.)
Is a reflection the same as a shadow? If a reflection is light bouncing back is a shadow light NOT bouncing back? If a tree reflects light in a forest and no one is there to see it, does it really reflect light? Such deep thoughts for a retired guy...........
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Toad the Wet Sprocket - it seems unlikely that anyone would ever string those nonsensical words together but, in the mid-1980's, the British comedy troupe, Monty Python, the masters of nonsense, did so in a skit about a fictitious band. Even more oddly, some aspiring musicians in Santa Barbara, California adopted it as their band's name. The group is back together and touring again and appeared at the Lowell Summer Music Series. Below is a short video clip from a song you might remember from the early 1990's that boosted their fame back in those "good old days"........
If you enter into this green tunnel on this unpaved road.......
.......and continue through this mixed pine forest........
....this is what you see when you break out into the open at the other end. I didn't expect to see this. It felt like I had entered a parallel universe where grazing cattle and open fields are the norm.
The only sound one could hear was the ceaseless chomping by nature's most effective lawn mowers.
Friday, August 5, 2011
The unique company "Setting the Space," is a leading-edge design company specializing in interior design and home staging. At their retail store in downtown Plymouth, they are hosting a Photographic Art show by area artists for the next six weeks. The opening night event was held on Friday, August 5, and many of the artists attended. Live music of classical guitar and flute provided a beautiful background ambiance. Anyone who wants to go to "Setting the Space" can get a "two-fer" - beautiful furniture and beautiful photography! Many of the exhibitors are members of Plymouth Digital Photographers Club. Here's what the opening night gala looked like. Kudos to "Setting the Space" for providing a venue for fine photographic artists:
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Plymouth Harbor is home of the vessel Mayflower 2, a replica constructed in the mid-1950's of the original Mayflower that carried the Pilgrims from England to the "New World" in 1620. The replica was built in Devonshire, England by private donations from folks in both countries and sailed to the United States in 1957.
The original Mayflower journey took 66 days with 102 passengers and crew of 25-30 in a vessel approx 100 feet long by 25 feet wide. They arrived on November 11, remained living on board the ship until spring, and when the winter ended barely half the colony was still alive. Imagine all those people living in those cold New England winter conditions in a space smaller than a tennis court. Some hearty folk those Pilgrims. According to the Mayflower Society, there are approx 10 million descendants from that original group.
A few hundred yards south of the Mayflower is the Plymouth Rock Memorial which shelters Plymouth Rock. About a million tourists annually come from far and wide to gaze at the stone. Maybe they are all descendants? (I doubt the little dog is though. If any of his ancestors survived the trip they would probably have ended up as dinner for hungry Pilgrims.)
The red arrow indicates "Plymouth Rock." Impressive, right?
And speaking of impressive, who would have guessed that the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz would have chosen Plymouth to retire. Since the Scarecrow predeceased him and hid his oilcan however, he has become quite rusty. But in a twist of irony, he now serves as a "scarecrow" in this garden. Bet the great and powerful Oz didn't foresee that happening. It is not known if the Wizard is a descendant of the Pilgrims since he hails from Kansas - but he could be.
This bee and this flower are not known descendants of the Mayflower - but they could be.
It is suspected that this rock (red arrow) in Bartlett Pond might be the real rock where the Pilgrims landed but was subsequently switched with the other rock by fun loving students during a drunken bender on a bet. It does not yet have "1620" chiseled into it as does the "real" rock. The kayaker is not a known direct descendant of the Pilgrims - but he could be.
It is not known if the Pilgrims created this road through a typical pine forest in southeastern Massachusetts - but they could have.
It is also not known if any descendants of the Pilgrims have ever stayed in this typical cottage - but they could have.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Barnstable is the largest town on Cape Cod and includes seven separate villages: Barnstable, Centerville, Cotuit, Hyannis, Martons Mills, Osterville, and West Barnstable.
The Millway Marina in Barnstable connects to the Barnstable Harbor and Cape Cod Bay. The large boat at dock is a popular whale watching venture.
Nose high in the air, the scent of the nearby ocean has this trusty dog on alert.
Barnstable Harbor and Millway Beach at low tide.
Perhaps a Cape Cod quirk or maybe only in the town of Barnstable - this business is not "closed" it is "shut" - go figure. This wasn't the only store using such terminology.
Cape Cod is not just beaches, tourists, quaint villages and houses, but also has many productive farms and gardens.