Category Archives: Massachusetts

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!

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Mahna Mahna

If you have time, I strongly suggest that you go over to the Museum of National Heritage in Lexington to check out the “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” exhibit. It runs through June 27, 2010 and is awesome if only for the ability to be near a bunch of actual Muppet puppets.  I had already seen Oscar up close and I think I get to count Big Bird since I met and shook hands with Carroll Spinney, but I also got to see Kermit, Bert/Ernie, Rowlf, and my favs the Mahna Mahna guy and the Snowths.  There were also a few others that I did not recognize immediately because they were used for commercials, but had many features of later Muppets.

Now, you aren’t supposed to take photographs (Even though it is an exhibit by the Smithsonian and they let you take gazillions of photos) but I still did. I’m sneaky like that 🙂

A short description:

The Museum is pleased to announce that we will host “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” from April 3, 2010 through June 27, 2010.  The exhibition features 100 original artworks, including drawings, cartoons and storyboards that illustrate Henson’s talent as a storyteller and visionary. Among the variety of exhibition objects are puppets and television and movie props, photographs of Henson and his collaborators at work and original video productions, including excerpts from Henson’s early career and experimental films.”
You can also download a podcast about the exhibit or borrow a player for free from the people at the museum. You just have to leave your ID with them.


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I love that Ernie has his Rubber Duckie with him. They should have put bottlecaps in for Bert.

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This now adorns my cell phone wall paper. I love Rowlf…he is a wonderful straight line guy.

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Love love love!!!

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?

Lowell National Historical Park

Yet another field trip to another National Park, this time Lowell. Not a lot of people would think that Lowell would have a National Park, but it is a great example of what happened all around the country during the Industrial Revolution.  Not only are a lot of the buildings still there, many of them have been revitalized into new spaces.

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Excavated by two of my professors (One from UMass Boston and another from Boston University) the Boott Cotton Mills Museum presents the history of the Industrial Revolution in a way everyone can understand. By using the oral histories left behind by former workers and actual artifacts from that time period, you can really get the feel of what it might have felt like.  Inside the Boott is a room with a number of machines that are needed in the process of the creation of fabric.  Here is a video that has only a few of the machines running:

Lowell is also known for having one of the best education centers in the National Park Service and they provide a huge variety of programs for children to attend and learn math, history, language arts, and science during.  One of the programs has children weaving on a loom:
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They are also in possession of Jack Kerouac’s backpack from when he went off on his tour of America. Not only was Kerouac an important poet and writer, he was also a native son. At one event, they gave away bobbleheads of him 🙂
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There is also a lot of artwork in the surrounding area and a stage for performances during the summer.
Woman!

All in all, Lowell is an awesome National Park and quite worthy of a visit. Go in the spring when you can ride the canal!

10 years

Seems like 10 years shouldn’t fly by the way this last decade has, but if you blinked you probably missed a lot.

10 years ago I was in college getting ready to go to my winter formal. My parents had come down to help with my hair and take pictures and sent me and my boyfriend on our merry way. The dance was awesome, I was involved with Campus Activities and had a lot of friends at the dance with me.

The only annoying part of the dance was the ride home…it took us almost an hour to drive what should have been a 20 minute ride. By the time we woke up the next day, we learned about the tragedy that started on December 3rd of 1999 at 6:13 PM. We all agreed it was stupid to keep sending in teams to find the previous two that had dissapeared, but what else where they supposed to do? Those were their buddies in there and they wanted them out. By the time the fire was out, 6 men had vanished into the warehouse and it would take days to find them all.

Our city was shut down for the funeral…it was spooky to see 290 with no cars on it whatsoever. Reporters quickly learned how to pronounce Worcester and firemen from all over the world came to pay their respects.  The flag on our campus was at half staff 2 weeks for each man. 12 weeks is too long a time to have the flags at mourning level.

Good things came out of the fire, however. A sense of community and support for the firefighters; a call for greater attention paid to homeless people in the winter; and a new firehouse on the site of the tragedy.

Dry Dock One

Sometimes I get to do really fun stuff because of work…on Saturday, under blue skies and with no wind, I got to go into Dry Dock One at the Charlestown Navy Yard and learn all about its history.  Not only did we get to go into it, we got to spend about an hour wandering around, taking pictures, looking at fish and crabs, and climbing up and down the edges. It was awesome.

We found really interesting objects inside the dry dock (a skull!! How did that get there? Seems to be a prey and not a predator like I originally thought) and saw lots of numbers around us.

Most of these had fallen off of the walls as the epoxy used to secure them to the surface dried and cracked in the heat and cold. I sooo wanted to take a few home with me.

Then, we went into the Caisson…this is the thing that keeps the water out of the dry dock, and I was inside of it. It is actually very clean inside, which was slightly impressive.  It is also impressive that so little metal is keeping the ocean out of that dry dock.

Next field trip may include the Chain Forge and the Rope Walk…and a trip to Lowell to look at their education program. Sometimes I love my job.

Mr. Backwards

Dear Asshat,

Yes…I know that apartheid did not occur during the 1800s. I was trying to tell you all the important events that had been debated in Faneuil Hall over the years.  The list of: apartheid, child labor laws, women’s rights to vote, union rights, religious rights, and others should NOT be met with the reply: “So nothing of significance happened here”.

When I tell you that I love having the right to vote and that my Grandmother, 90 years old this May and on Facebook, loves the fact that she was BORN with the right to vote, you should not reply back with “Stop being defensive. That is the problem. You are a woman and women get defensive”.

You should also not tell me that I am a waste of tax payer money and an embarrassment to civil service everywhere. I am not a civil servant and you are an Ass Hat. Please do not come back to Boston…go back into your hole and back to worrying about the fact that some of our nation’s greatest treasures are in the hands of Massholes like myself.

No cookie for you,
Me

 

Dear Lovely Canadian Men,

I love you. You helped me be able to detach myself from that Ass Hat from somewhere America. Thank you for being the sweet Canadians that I know most are. I hope that you are dating each other because you would make a cute couple. Please come back to Boston anytime you want and bring all your friends.

Me

USS Constitution

I had a great post here about the neighbors who want the USS Constitution to change the way she fires her cannons because they feel lit is too loud.  They want the cannons to be quiet until 9 AM on the weekends and the National Anthem to not be played so loudly and the charges to be smaller.

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To which I say: shut up.

This tradition has been going on since before 1800 and the charges have been made smaller over the years already. They barely use any black powder to set the cannons off already and oh yeah, we are at war. These cannons are shot off twice a day in honor of the men and women who are serving and who have served. Many of these sailors will be going off to active duty combat after their 3 years at the Constitution is up and many of the National Park Rangers have also served in some capacity.  This ship is the mascot of the entire Navy and it is only appropriate for her to fire her cannons off as a sign of respect…and its pretty cool to watch them do it, as well.
I was lucky enough to get to take a trip on the Constitution a few years ago with my Dad. It was Armed Forces Day and so there was a 19 gun salute (why are they always odd numbers?) to the men and women of the Armed Forces. While I couldn’t really see over the sides of the ship, I knew enough to get down to the gun deck in time to see them load and fire the charges. Afterwards, I got one of the shells as a souvenier of my trip…it stunk to high heaven for a few weeks, but it is awesome. See:

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So, be quiet people living at Flagship Wharf…Nomar would have never been a jerk like you are. Oh, and I hope you enjoy it next summer when they are turning the Yard back into a working one and putting the USS Cassin Young into drydock! That should be exciting…lots of banging and crashing and melting and tearing. Its going to be awesome to see what kind of letter you send to the NPS unit.