Archive for February, 2009

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Friday, February 27th, 2009

I’m blogging from the Friday awards ceremony at the FIRST Buckey Regional, but when I arrived in Cleveland on Wednesday my first stop after the hotel was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is, of course, the only thing I thought there was to do in the city. Josh and I were surprised at how un-interactive the exhibits were. Most were simply clothes, cars, notes, posters, or records sitting in glass cases. Well, the cars were not in glass cases. It did have quite a lot of exhibits, but since we’re not very well versed in music many of them amounted to, “so who’s that?”

Afterwards we went out to dinner. We were surprised to find a pedestrian only street lined with all sorts of restaurants, Mexican, Vietnamese, Mediterranean, Irish, American. We gave the Mediterranean one a try. It was called La Strada. We started with a free fried eggplant appetizer because they were out of the one we actually wanted. I had a chicken and cuscus dinner. Everything we had there was excellent. However, after dinner they kept offering us all sorts of things. Desert, coffee, complimentary fruit, then later tea, and a wet hand cloth. It was a little too much, made me feel sort of bad that all I wanted to do was pay and leave. Actually, I didn’t have to pay because Josh owed me a dinner since the Red Sox & Yankees tied the season series last summer at 9 games apiece (we decided due to extenuating circumstances that I would win ties).

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

About a week ago my room mate and I went to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The tickets were cheap thanks to the < 40 = $20 program. That made it an excellent opportunity to check off Symphony Hall from my list of Boston landmarks to visit. I went as much for the architecture as for the music, but I forgot my camera. I did manage to take enough shots with my phone’s camera to string together this panorama, taken from my seat before the concert.

The music that night was Mozart’s 19th, 20th, 21st and 25th symphonies. Apparently, of those, only the 25th is commonly played. The 25th was also my least favorite. Of the others, a week later they all seem to run together. They were playing the more uncommon peicies because they were in the middle of a series of concerts in which they were playing all (or most) of Mozart in chronological order. I was glad that I didn’t goto one of the later on chronological shows, which include more like the 25th (so I’m told). My most interesting thought at the concert was how much it might suck to be a room mate of one of the performers, many of whom were young looking. Then I decided that the BSO could probably afford to provide practice space.

I would go back under any of two conditions:

  • I was on a date
  • It was a tour of the building including history and not a concert

Paul Romer Agrees with Me

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

I’ve been catching up on some back issues, well I suppose they are posts, on Greg Mankiw’s blog. I ran across a link to this, Let’s Start Brand New Banks. It sounds pretty familiar to me. Although, it works from evidence instead of first principles, but I still feel justified. If only they would follow our advice.

The Guild

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Over this past weekend I found a wonderful new web show via Internet Superstar on Revision 3, the only other web show that I periodically watch. On my first visit in a few months, I saw they highlighted an episode with Falica Day, whom most people know from Dr. Horrible. Anyways, I keep not writing a post about The Guild, because every time I goto the site I end up watching more episodes. Actually, I’m just watching the episodes from season 1 over and over again, as I’m saving starting season two for some reason.

The guild is an independently produced and financed short web series about a guild that plays something very similar to, but not actually called World of Warcraft, and it is hilarious even to an outsider like me. Although, I have had to bone up on some lingo including QQ more and PUG. <asside>Gee thanks to all the urban dictionary users who wrote that PUG is a dog, if I wanted to know that I’d have checked a normal dictionary.</asside>

It seems for season two that they have found some sponsorship and so individuals can no longer donate directly, which is a shame. I don’t really want/need the show on DVD or a T-Shirt, but I haven’t found another way to contribute. Contrary to Saddleback ski resort, I think everyone should check out The Guild.

Cranmore and Saddleback

Monday, February 16th, 2009

This post is about my two (so far) local ski trips this winter.


On January 24th Mary and I drove to North Conway, NH to give Cranmore a try. We mostly went because it would be cheap. That day they were running a deal where driver’s of hybrid cars get free lift tickets. Oddly, since passengers of hybrids didn’t get free lift tickets it actually discourages carpooling, which, given the distance, makes a larger environmental impact than the hybrid. For the curious, they asked to see the car’s registration to prove it is a hybrid; note that my registration doesn’t have any indication of such a status, but they were not concerned. It also came recommended by Kelly, who skied there frequently in her youth.

I was disappointed with the runs there. The vertical was 1200 feet, which seems respectable, and they had some nice lifts to keep the lines moving, but we took our warm up run on a blue and diverted to a black. We mostly diverted to get away from the crowd, but it was not difficult at all. The conditions were pretty good. It was clean and ~25 degrees out, but there was a howling wind, that was blowing snow up the mountain. This was not a problem as far as seeing, but it did manage to keep the slopes well groomed, as any tacks you made were covered back up by the snow you loosed. It was fun to spend all afternoon (we skied from 11:30-4pm) speeding down the relatively tame runs, but we did manage to do just about every black and blue there in that time frame. In short, it was a fun time, and it was cheap due to the free ticket, but I wouldn’t go back unless I was teaching someone.


Eleven people somewhat loosely associated with Wednesday Night Dinner went to Rangeley, Maine from February 6 – 8 to ski at Saddleback. Saddleback was a small, local place until recently when it was purchased and greatly expanded. They expanded their trials by 40% since last year, and they have plans to continue this kind of growth. When they are done it will be huge, at least as fat as New England standards go. It was also exceedingly cheap and not at all crowded. Of course, it is almost five hours drive to get there. That is why we spent two nights there. Also the lodging was part of a package deal that left us with $28 lift tickets. Since its so new and expanding everything, but most importantly the equipment was all brand new.

The skiing here was excellent and challenging. There were some glades and slopes that looked downright scary, some of which I did and some of which I skipped. The weather was warm, topping out at ~36 degrees, with little wind. Although it got overcast in the afternoon. Here are some icture highlights from the trip to continue the story:

The Cabin. There were 3 rooms (with an open kitchen/living space). There were 9 beds in the place and we slept 11. It was cozy, but cheap.

Breakfast was eggs and toast.

Before we could get the slope we first had to climb this ice covered hill between our lakeside cabin and the road. It was well below freezing in the valley (it was warmer up on the mountain by a lot) and so we ended up pushing all of the cars up the hill. I don’t recall having ever needed to use low gear on my car before, but clearly it helped here. What didn’t help is that due to the lake, we didn’t have much chance to get a running start. Luckily Sunday morning was much warmer and so it wasn’t a problem.

The view was pretty spectacular from the top of the ~4000 foot mountain. The lodge was at ~2000 feet. This view looks west down towards our cabin and New Hampshire. Looking north one could see Canada as well.

We rode a lift up with an instructor and we discussed these two trails that looks like there was all kinds of debris in them. He said that it was only the tops that had the debris and that bottoms were clear, and of course ungroomed. He told us how to cut over safely. There we found the best conditions of the day; although, they were not untouched power by any means. I found I was able to cope (and have fun) with the natural, soft moguls that had developed. It was great. Of course, the story with the trail is that they didn’t finish cutting and clearing it all before the first wave of snow; this picture looks up at the debris field of course.

In closing:

  • Don’t take my word for how great this place is.
  • Don’t ever give it a try.
  • Continue to take your slight shorter drives to your much pricer, smaller, and more crowded resorts of choice.

Can we do that every week?

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Wow. The president of the United States just spent an hour of live national television to answer reporter’s questions. I have only one question, “Can we do that every week?” This is exactly the type of change that I was hoping for when I started advocating for Obama more than a year ago. I’ll admit that he didn’t answer every question, and I’ll be the first to admit that his answer to the first question was more like speech part two than an answer. However, I can not recall the last time a president took live questions of this magnitude. I can’t wait to hear what Jon Stewart has to say about it.

New Gloves

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Wow, it’s been more than two weeks since I updated. I’ve been spending most of my words continuing to give internet dating a try. It takes a lot of words, but not so much that I can’t hit an every other week target for the blog. Anyways, today’s story starts on the most recent first date I went on as a result of all the words spent on internet dating. The plan was to go to dinner followed by ice skating with an option for coffee afterward. Coffee, of course, means hot chocolate for me, cause I don’t drink anything else served at a coffee shop.

I met the girl after walking to the T. I was, of course, sporting my nice coat and my one pair of dressy-ish leather (or faux leather) warm gloves. She was late so I had to wait inside for a while, and so I took the gloves off and shoved them in my kind of small coat pocket. That was the last time I remember having the right handed one. When we got off the T I went to put them on and it was missing. By the time I was sure I didn’t have it the train was gone and any chance to go back was lost, so I didn’t mention it.

I did alright without gloves until it was time to ice skate; most of that time was at dinner anyways. And, actually, I did well at ice skating without them as well. My date suggested that I could improve my technique my making less use of my arms, and keeping them in my pockets was a good way to remember not to use them. My ice skating technique is most akin to how I ski when I need to pick up speed on flat ground, it takes wide strokes and a lot of energy. Not using the arms did help; although, I feel square on my ass once this time, an increase from my previous attempts of one. While skating I noticed that I was not the only one without gloves, my date was also gloveless having forgotten. Apparently, that’s part of a pattern for her.

That was Friday; on the following Sunday I went in search of replacement gloves, since getting a back a glove lost somewhere on the Red Line is clearly a crapshoot. As much as I enjoy all the neat little one of restaurants and such that populate Boston’s commercial districts, when I need something quickly, and have strict, known requirments for it, I like to go to the kind of shops I used to from the Midwest. I feel like I’ll be able to get in, get what I need, get out, and pay a fair price more easily with the familiar box stores. I went to Khols. I sent about 20 minutes roving the store in search of winter accessories, eventually finding a clearance rack that looked like the huns had sacked it for months. Sadly after much inspection there were no suitable gloves. The was a Marshalls in the same strip, so I checked it out; having never been there but understanding it to be a closeout kind of place. Also no dice, err gloves.

I considered going to Target, but time was short so I just went to the closest real mall I could think of, the Cambridgeside Galleria. There was a Macys there, jackpot, they will surely… well that had non-lined, women gloves that from the outside kind of looked like what I was looking for, but lets go with no dice. I checked all the other mens’ clothing stores there, all with spring fashions. So, I realize that the clothes come out a season early so people can buy looking forward. But it is literally the dead of winter, and gloves are lost on the T every day. Really, it is to the point that I saw a news story about it. It should not be this hard to find a damn pair of warm dress gloves! So I went home and turned to the internet. After some searching I settled on a good look pair of gloves only to realize they were being sold by Target through In need of gloves quickly, before a possible second date, I went to a Target, but alas they only had the gloves online.

So I looked more on-line and I got the gloves pictured. They came in a package that advertised police gear such as Kevlar vests and other types of badass clothing for police. I think they look pretty damn sharp, especially when I make a fist. They are not as soft and padded inside as the old ones, but they might be warmer since they use some space age insulating material. They fit great, and I have them now, although waiting a week for them was not what I wanted. Sadly a lack of gloves was on the short list of things I had in common with my date, so there will not be another.