Category Archives: boston

Christmas at Faneuil Hall

Need to go back with a working tripod, but got one nice shot of the tree the other day.

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The Zakim

There are a lot of ugly things in the city, but not this bridge. The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge is one of the largest cable stay suspension bridges in the world. At one point, it was part of the largest construction project in the world, the Big Dig, until the hotel in Dubai surpassed it. Today, it acts as the gateway into Boston from the North and is lovely at night.

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Huzzah!

Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing the USS Constitution “sail” through Boston Harbor for the last time for the next 3 years.  The weather was glorious and I timed it just perfectly to be able to see the ship as she passed Faneuil Hall and Old North Church.

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Also got to hear the Dropkick Murphys as they played on the deck.

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Sooo many people were on board the ship, over 500 people.  When I went on my turnaround, there were many fewer people and you could wander the deck a lot easier.

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The Constitution then fired a 17-gun salute near the Coast Guard base.  When she was built and launched, it was around that part of the North End.  Hearing the cannons was fun, but you could also feel it inside your knees.

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Spectacle Island

Many of my adventures have taken me onto boats for this summer…and my trip to Spectacle Island was no different.

Spectacle Island is a 15-20 minute ferry ride out of Long Wharf in Boston and is part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. Today’s island has been reshaped over the years with dumping, erosion, and the fill from the Big Dig to become one of the highest points in Boston Harbor.

The National Park has a green visitor center that has CLIVUS toilets, expansive views of the city, and covered picnic area.

There are a number of trails to walk along and view the city or the lighthouse.  One of these trails takes people along the shore that is scattered with rocks and the occasional dead fish:

The other main feature of the island is the trash that is coming out of the ground and washing up on the shore…seaglass and pottery shards. As an archaeologist, I am always looking down on the sand at the beach for seaglass and random things. At Spectacle, you don’t even have to search…it is all there, but not for the taking.

The ferry to the islands is almost done, just about another month. I hope to get back out to George’s sometime before then to find the dark space again!

Product Review: Utilitech 1/6 HP Utility Pump

This past weekend, I had the unfortunate pleasure of using a utility pump to get water out of my basement.  It was a good pump, but did not come with any instructions or trouble shooting so I was mostly wandering around blindly while inches of water came in through my basement. I thought it might help some people if I wrote about how to use it.

  • The shorter the hose the better. I originally had 100 feet of hose attached to the pump, but that was way too long. I bought it that long so that I could run the hose out of the basement to the front, but my father pointed out that I could get a shorter hose and put it through the drain for the washing machine. Since the power cord was 10 feet long, I bought the shortest hose I could get (15 feet)/
  • Sometimes the pump would not spin. This was because of silt that had gotten into the mechanism.  By drilling the screws out and wiping each part down, I was able to get most of the silt out. Always make sure that the pump is turned off when you do that and try it out before you put the screws back in.
  • Sometimes that even doesn’t work. The only way I figured out how to make the pump start working was to turn it out, put it on the floor, and then unscrew the hose until it started taking in water. Then you have to move very fast, angle the pump on its side and screw the hose back on. This way, it will start taking water up and through the hose.
  • Make sure to give it time to cool down. It has a little engine and it is doing a lot of work, so put it in a cool place.
  • Clean it completely after you are done with it.

Hopefully I won’t have to use this again anytime soon. However, we need to get a few contractors out to fix things in the house and yard.

I bought my pump at Lowes. It was located in the back behind the fridge/sink/toilet display against the back wall.

Vandals

I cannot stand people who vandalize buildings, especially National Monuments or other places of importance.  It happened once at the Bunker Hill Monument where people believed that the monument was dedicated to the British who died there.

Unfortunately, it happened again to National Park property the other day. As we drove around the base of the Dorchester Heights Monument you could see the vandalism that occurred.
My creation

The Libraries of Boston

Today, Mayor Menino stated that the  “days of the old encyclopedia are long gone.”

Oh, are they, Tom?

Did you know that libraries offer so much more than dusty old encyclopedias these days? Where do you think people get those electronic databases and the skills on how to search them? Where do you think the poor people of your neighborhoods of Boston go to use computers to access electronic data and to fill out important forms? Where do you think homeless people go to spend some time warming up and looking at the newspapers and magazines during the day?

If you think libraries are so passe, then why do you think they created a new library in Mattapan that looks great? If libraries aren’t part of the social structure, then why is usage up?

And if you close libraries and community centers, where are the kids going to go during the day in the summer? How much more crime are we going to experience in the next few months because these important community gathering places are no longer open and the safety and security that go along with them is gone?

How about this, Tom…Instead of you closing libraries and putting dozens, if not more, of librarians out of work (and onto unemployment) how about you stop taking a paycheck from the city of Boston? How about a few of the higher paid people take a lower paycheck or none, and allow these hard working people to keep their jobs?

What you stole

Sometime yesterday afternoon, you and at least one other friend broke into my house and stole my stuff. You pawed through my clothing, you smoked in my house. You violated my security and you left your tire iron on my bed.

You stole my pearl earrings and necklace that my grandparents had given me. But you cannot steal the memories of being at Epcot Center with them and the joy of watching the guy open up the oyster I had picked and finding not one, but two pearls in it.  Even my grandfather was overjoyed with my luck that day and we had them made into earrings with gold backings.  I wore them and the necklace they gave me at my graduations, at weddings, and at my grandfather’s funeral as a tribute to him.

You stole the necklace my father brought back from Saudi Arabia.  But you cannot steal the feelings of happiness when he would finally come back from setting up the computer system for his client or the anger and annoyance that went with it.  Not entirely happy memories, but they made us a stronger family.

You stole my celtic knot…perhaps my most favorite necklace. It isn’t worth anything on the street, especially in a neighborhood with no Irish. However, you cannot steal the fun that I had out at Hammond Castle, Connecticut, Carver, or Salem dressed up as a “Renaissance” woman being teased by actors and men who believe in chivalry or the memories of delivering cookies or taking pictures from the front lines.

You took my baby locket, my confirmation cross, my grandmother’s jewelry.

You took my feeling of security in my own home.

You ruined my door and the wall I had just painted.

You took my stash of Canadian money.

You, however, did not hurt anyone who lives in the house.

You did not burn down my house with your disgusting cigarette left burning in the rug.

You did not take my great grandmother’s charm bracelet, the only thing I have of hers.

You did not take one of my best gifts ever…the one that my niece picked out for me on her own, and with her own money. The one that I will be wearing this Christmas as it is the about the only jewelry that I have left.
I doubt you are long for this life…but I hope before you die, we get to have some news that you have been arrested or are already in prison and off the streets. I can honestly say that you are one of the few people that I hate.