Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Ice Cream Marathon

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

On Saturday August 14, 2010 the long planned Wednesday Night Dinner Ice Cream Marathon occurred from 1pm until 7:30pm. We followed and approximately 7 mile route from Boston’s North End to Harvard Square in Cambridge following this route:

View Ice Cream Marathon in a larger map

We stopped at each place marked in green. We skipped over duplicate stores, chains, and stores we didn’t know existed. We carried score cards. Here is the digital representation of mine:

Location Time Flavor Size Score (1-10)
1. Gelateria 1:20pm Hazelnut / Vanilla Small 5 / 8
2. Sprinkles 2:00pm Butter Pecan Child 7
3. Emack
& Bolio’s
2:45pm Cake Batter1 One Scoop 3
4. Picco’s 3:25pm Cinnamon2 One Size 93
5. Bon Bon 4:25pm Pineapple Sorbet One Size 2
6. J. P. Licks 4:55pm Cake Batter Not Available4 0
7. Toscanini’s 5:55pm Cake Batter Kiddie 9
8. Christina’s 6:30pm Corn5 Small 4
9. Lizzy’s 7:30pm Vanilla Cookie Dough Kiddie 6

1Like most flavors at Emack and Bolio’s this cake batter is infused with chocolate. This is not an acceptable thing to do and still call it cake batter, but that is what they do.
2Also bread and water were provided at no cost at Picco’s.
3The flavor of the Cinnamon (and they Honey flavor that I tired) were so intense as to deserve top honors. However, we were unable to finish these flavors due to their intensity.
4J. P. Licks has suddenly, and without warning discontinued the cake batter flavor at all of their locations. This is not acceptable as it was the best cake batter flavor available in the city and my favorite ice cream overall. Until such a time as cake batter is returned to the menu I am forced to boycott J. P. Licks. I did get in line and ask for cake batter, only to be told they they don’t have it, to which I responded, “Ah, never mind then.”
5Bacon flavor was also available and I tried a spoonful of it. Someone got bacon flavor and was unable to finish the salty delicious treat. I had tired corn flavor earlier in the week and thought it quite good, but I was unable to finish my small size of it either.

The clear winner was Picco’s. Picco’s is a sit down pizza restaurant that also hand makes ice cream for their desert menu. They were great sports and sat a table for 13 who intended only to have ice cream. They also provided bread and water at no charge, which was most appreciated. Surprisingly appreciated was the bread! The flavors at Picco’s are intense, rich, and wonderful. I could taste the gainyness of the cinnamon in my ice cream! Everyone agreed this was the best place.

Clear runner up in my book Toscanini’s. Toscanini’s, since inciting me into their store for the first time in years with their ROFLCon inspired “Internet” Flavor (vanilla + grape nerds) has become my favorite ice cream parlor. The fact that J. P. Licks has recently committed seppuku has only help them reach the top. Other excellent recent flavors include Fig Newton, Ginger, and the best remaining cake batter flavor in town! Enough said!

Roswell – March 2010

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

I spent much of March and April of 2010 in Roswell, NM for work. I consistently flew there on Delta via Los Angles, which was always a ~14 hour three airport affair. I loved it, and I didn’t miss any connections on any of my trips to Roswell

Los Angles from the Air:

The first time I headed to Roswell was also my first time in L.A. Although, I never left the airport, so that makes counting it a bit strange. I find, that I airports count as going to a state but not a city. Such as, “the last time I was in California was when I flew through LAX to Roswell”, is fair but to replace California with L.A. isn’t. I suppose this is because cities have a character that one needs to explore to say that one has been there. States do too, but it highly varied from area to area, and people don’t expect you to be familiar with every area to say you have been there. One can often get a good sense of whats its like in a state from the airport; not so with a city. Anyways, here’s a shot of the iconic LAX entry way:

We worked at the airport in Roswell. The airport is something of an airplane graveyard, or at least long term, until the economy gets back on track storage yard. There are on the order of 100 planes in various states of disrepair strew about the airfield.

Working in Roswell sucked. But one day we took a half day off from working and went skiing for a full day. From the top of the slopes one can see nearby Sierra Blanca (on the left), the southernmost high peak in the contiguous United States, which means that all higher peaks are farther north. Towards the right, in the basin one can see White Sands.

On the way back from this first trip to Roswell I completed a challenge feat. I was on the ground in all four continental us time zones within one day. I accomplished this feat by flying from Roswell (Mountain) to Los Angles (Pacific) to Minneapolis & St. Paul (Central) and back to Boston (Eastern). It was the only time on any trip to/from Roswell, that I had a layover in the Central time zone, and therefore the only time I completed this feat. Google latitude should offer rewards for this sort of thing ala foursquare.

Washington D.C. During Snowmageddon

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

In February 2010 work sent me to the Shenendoa Valley of Virginia, about 2 hours from Washington D.C. I flew in between the two Snowmageddon storms, and made it out to Bridgwater, VA. before the second storm hit. The storm there dropped only four inches or so, which the local services were totally able to handle. Although, I did make the mistake of letting a friend from Los Angles drive in the snow, and he managed to get pretty suck in a parking spot. It was embarrassing; we didn’t tell the people who helped us out that I life in the north.

After the second storm went through, on Friday February 12th, Lincoln’s Birthday I managed to snag some time in Washington itself. I had never been to the district before. I had lunch with Emma, a CSG girl whom I mentored in college. She is pursuing a computer science degree at George Washington, so I guess I may have had some effect. She is a big fan of going to see the monuments. She claims that is often a drunken Saturday night activity. So we went to see them, with 2-4 feet of snow on the ground.

First we went to the Washington Monument:

On the way there, this is as close as I got to the White House:

Next we went to the Lincoln Memorial, which was not doing anything fancy for his birthday. It looked rather ominous on the snow covered hill, like something out of Logan’s Run, but with more people around. I am just in love with this photo. It is certainly my favorite of all the recently posted ones, even that 15 second exposure of Boston at night.

From there I got an off center shot of the Capitol building.

We then walked back to GWU and parted ways. I later drove much closer to the Capitol building on my way to the Air and Space Museum. I only spent an hour at the museum, which was all I had before my flight, and all I wanted to spend. I only had enough quarters to pay for 15 minutes of parking; damn it was expensive, but I didn’t get a ticket (probably thanks to the huge snow banks). It was really disappointed by it. Although, I hear the good stuff is all out by Dulles, so I will have to try that some time.

Travel as a Graph

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

I have been averaging more than one trip a month since July of 2009, and it feels like a lot of travel, so I want to record some numbers about it in case I want to compare at some point. For the purposes of this accounting, a trip requires that I got on an airplane or stayed in a hotel while not in the Greater Boston Area. For the record I have not stayed in a hotel in the Greater Boston Area during the time period. Lets start with a graph:

The blue line is 1 if I was not home (away) and 0 if I was home on a given date. If i was traveling home on a day the line is a 1. The red line is 0 when I am home, 1 when I am traveling for work, and 0.5 when I am traveling for pleasure. Since the red line is on top of the blue, you can really just think of the blue as personal trips.

This tells us that I spent all of October in Boston, a fact I had forgotten. I have been averaging 1.3 trips per month divided between 0.5 personal trips per month and 0.8 work trips per month.

This has lead to a total traveling percentage of almost 32% of days. That is on any given day there is a 32% chance I’m not in Boston. I would have expected that number to be much higher, but the graph seems to agree with it. If we look only at 2010 only I’ve been gone for a slightly higher 36%, but I really feel like it’s been 50%. That’s the point of the analysis. I now know that 32% is way too high.

ROFLCon Volunteer

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

I’ve signed up to Volunteer at ROFLCon again. I haven’t gotten any assignments yet, but I’m super excited after seeing the initial schedule. Sadly it overlaps with Kentucky Derby Day so I won’t be throwing a derby party this year despite that I very much want to do that again as well.

Know Your Meme and More

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

The Internets and I had an excellent evening together tonight. It all started with a need to eat up the most perishable foods in the house before I head home for the holidays. What can you make with eggs and chicken, google of course has the answer. What, it needs spinach, too oh man, there’s a huge bag of it that’ll never get finished before I leave. I was lacking for tomatoes, but with a little salt instead Tuscan Chicken Scramble was a crazy fast meal with all the right ingredients.

While I was trying to eat my dinner, and watch episode of Sliders, my phone interrupted asking for advice on buy it’s girlfriend… rather my friend’s girlfriend a holiday gift. I love turning goals into gifts, especially for significant others, but having always been alone for Christmas, I often just help. He suggested a “cookbook? Not the greatest gift but… it will give us something to do together (and you know that’s something I think we need).” I respond, “Yes, activity book for adults, good deal. Another idea along the same line (something to do) tickets to a show,” eliciting “Ooh. That’s an even better idea. Damn you. I love that idea. I’m already in a bookstore And now I’m going to have to see what shows are going on”. Luckily, “our phones rock.” And he was able to do it all standing right there in the bookstore. All the while discussing the shows, which I was surprised to find I knew a lot about. For instance, earlier today I had in fact read about one of them selling out often. And that was in the same vain as another show I’d heard of. One my other goals, besides not being alone for Christmas, is to know what is going on, apparently I do, and I didn’t need the net for that, strictly speaking in this case. There is still something to be said for knowing facts, even with the net always in my cargo pocket.

SlidersSo I digress. But yes, that Sliders episode is the one where they did get Sabrina Loyd back to reprise the voice, but not the body of her former regular character.

Following dinner, I started cleaning house, and left the roomba to do it’s job downstairs. I sat down to wrap a gift and finally get to know, Know Your Meme. I really love their style, and there are few memes that I did need to hear an explanation on. But mostly it was an excellent trip to some of the best places on the Internet, without even going, just listening to them being extolled for their virtues. It was like a mini roflcon!

Finally, it came time to but a bow on that gift. I don’t have fake bows, but I do have red ribbon left over from that Halloween costume. So pause that know your meme episode, and head over to google. First result, of course, a ~2 minute you tube video. 5 minutes later, ribbon tied, gift wrapped ready for tomorrow.

Know Your MemeBack to more meme history goodness. Via the Three Wolf Moon episode, a quick stop, back by you tube for an actual meme instance, in the form of this amazing Three Wolf Moon music video set to a Disney song. And of course, now I stay up too late considering I’ve got a 9:30 meeting telling the internets about how it fully entertained me for a night.

Summer Panoramas

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

I have not yet replaced the camera that I lost. Part of this is because I’ve had a very busy summer and I haven’t done my research. Part of it is because I want the quality of an SLR without the price or the bulk. I took a lot of trips this summer on which I wish I had taken a real camera, but all I had was my cell phone camera, which is bad as cameras god but great as cell phone cameras go in my opinion. So here are some camera phone panoramas from the summer.

July 3rd, 2009: Red Sox Home Game #36

Red Sox July 09
The sox lost this game (my second) to the Seattle Mariners in 10 innings, and it was close all the way to the end. At one point early on David Ortiz stole home base from 3rd on a wild pitch. I have never seen that man move so fast before. This is currently the highlight of my Fenway Park experience. I had a surprising amount of trouble finding someone to come with me to this game, because Mary, who’s a Mariners fan, was in Washington state at the time. Eventually I convinced Briana to come with and we had fun.

July 4th, 2009: Pops Goes the Fourth Fireworks

July 4th Boston
This was the first full day of summer in Boston following a rainy awful June. The night was perfect for fireworks, and we had a prime viewing spot on the Cambridge side.

August 30th, 2009: White Sands

White Sands
This view of the White Sands of New Mexico is from a road between Cloudcroft and Sunspot in the Sacramento Mountains looking west into the basin.

September 9th, 2009: Provincetown, Massachusetts

These dunes are located at the far end of cape cod just beyond Provincetown to the west. Beyond the dunes that reach all the way across the scene is the beach. I somewhat enjoy the differences in color that remain in this one. All the images were taken within two minutes of each other, so the color differences are due to issues with the camera not changing lightning. In the distance on the left lighthouse can be seen. That lighthouse is also pictured here:

Cape Cod Lightouse

I Guess I Know Enough People Now

Monday, September 14th, 2009

The last two times I’ve gone out to bar in Boston I’ve run into people I know randomly. Now, granted, it was 2 months between consecutive bar trips, and the bars were actually in Somerville and Cambridge, but still. The first trip was to Joshua Tree in Davis Square on July 18th for my birthday. Across the bar I spotted some coworkers. Well actually, I first spotted a cute girl, and then I later noticed she was with my coworkers. Unfortunately for me, she’s recently married to one of them. Previous to entering the bar I’d seen Krishna, a gaming buddy & coworker, and his girlfriend out on the street. To be fair they live within a 500 yards or so of the bar.

View of Harvard from DaedalusThis time we were out last Friday for my room mate Sriram’s birthday. We were at Daedalus in Harvard square on a stormy night. We were the first of our group to arrive. Scoping out the room, I saw a guy I vaguely recognized, but did not know from where. Surprisingly, Sriram walked toward him, but that was just a coincidence. His name I found out is Doug, and I knew him as a 3 hop friend via Sparky and his friend Lilly. I met Doug at the 4th of July and a BBQ in August. Doug was there for a friend of a friend’s (2 hop) birthday. As it turns out, the birthday boy was Sriram. Doug recently became room mates with one of Sriram’s friends. Small world! Later on, one of my former room mate Biran’s friends, whom I know from Hog Island parties showed up.

It was a pretty fun night. Very similar to my birthday, there was Indian food followed by drinks. Lacking anything else interesting to try I had two Absolute Boston, yes that is a variety of vodka now, & Lemonades. The first one was very good, but the second one got old.

Welcome to Alamogordo

Friday, September 4th, 2009

I have spent the last two weeks in town of Alamogordo, near the White Sands in New Mexico. This is by far the longest work trip that I have been on. I was working the night shift, as an operator flight testing an airborne radar I helped develop the control system for. Below are the highlights from the trip, which was not nearly as bad as I expected going out.

The Night Shift

I have never attempted to work the night shift and sleep during the day for such an extended period of time. I was very successful at switching to the strange schedule. I was able to block nearly all of the light from my window and sleep from (4-7)am to (3-5)pm each day. I was the only of the four of us (2 operators and 2 pilots) who was able to fully transition. Today is my first day back on a normal sleep schedule. I was unable to get much sleep, not being able to goto bed until 4:30am, and waking up at 7am, but somehow I’ve managed to stay awake all day.

On the Plane


The flights were from 1am to 4am or 3am to 6am on the White Sands Missile Range. When we started we didn’t have a moon and it was always very dark, but as the weeks went on we got more and more moonlight and better and better views of the White Sands dunes. One flight was a particularly new experience because it was high enough that we needed to use oxygen masks in our unpressurized aircraft. Other than my glasses fogging up, and the need to remove the mask to speak into my headset I didn’t have any issues with it; meaning I never felt any hypoxia symptoms.

Daylight Doughnuts

One morning after the flight the pilots and crew chief took us to this amazing hole in the wall doughnut shop in town. They are famous for their breakfast burritos, which are small and simple, but very tasty. They make the story here because they have a particular kind of doughnut that I have been searching for since I was five years old. When I was living in South Carolina my parents often took me to a shop that had cake like doughnuts with white icing topped by shards of peanuts. Neither Dunkin nor Krispy Kreme sell this variety, but Daylight did, and it was wonderful. They was just as good as I remember them. I sadly, didn’t make it back before I left.

Cloudcroft and Sunspot

Sunspot Solar Observatory

On our Sunday off our crew chief took the pliots and opertators up into the mountains to spend the day. The Sacramento Mountains, just to the east of Alamogordo. The mountains are completely different from the basin floor. On the way up, at a certain elevation all of sudden there are trees and the tempeature drops 15 degrees. It was nice to get out the desert for a bit. We had brunch at a large mountain inn and golf course in Cloudcroft, NM. Then we headed over to the solar observatory at Sunspot. The observatory was very cool and they let you walk right in and see the main level, which is only a small part of it. We got some great views of the basin.

The Basin from the Mountains

White Sands

After seeing them from the air and the mountains on Monday I made the drive out to the White Sands Monument. They didn’t have any tours or anything going on, but it was not crowded. It was eerily quiet out there on top of the dunes, and none of my pictures came out very well. I wanted to make my way over to towards the flats, where they have emergency runways for the space shuttle, but it was more than a three hour hike, which in the hot sun of 5:30pm without water was out of the question.

White Sands

June 2009 Visit

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

About a month ago, my Mom, Aunt Kathy, and Cousin Jill came for a visit. This was smack dab in the middle of the extra rainy June, but it was still a good time, and we made some spectacularly lucky weather choices. Here’s a map of what we did.

View June 2009 Visit in a larger map