Reason #2,331 why Red Sox fans drive me up a f*cking wall: a mere New York license plate is enough for them to attack you with baseball bats and “accuse” you of being a Yankees fan.

The Red Sox are the only team I’ve ever found whose fans are defined more by their hatred of a team than their love of one.

Update: it appears that the guy who wielded the baseball bat, Robert Correia, will remain in jail for at least the next 90 days awaiting his trial; the judge deemed that he’s too dangerous to release into the community. I’m sure that’ll do nothing to incense his fellow New York Yankees haters Red Sox fans…

Bill Simmons, ESPN’s Sports Guy and possibly the biggest Boston sports homer in the world, found himself at this year’s Super Bowl without his lucky Wes Welker jersey. He grabbed a Randy Moss jersey from the vendors inside the stadium, put it on, and proceeded to watch the Pats get stunningly upset by the Giants; after that, he went home, threw the jersey away, but then thought twice about it and decided to auction the jersey off for charity. So now, you can head over to eBay and bid, with all proceeds (literally, 100%) going to the Jimmy Fund! Having worked at the Jimmy Fund clinic for three years, I can dig the sentiment, and hope that the eventual winner of the auction follows through with the donation — I like how Simmons put it in the auction listing:

Note: A warning to anyone thinking of bidding this auction up without any intention of paying the final fee: This is for charity, we’re raising money for cancer research, and you would be guaranteeing yourself a lifetime of bad karma if you ruined this auction in any way. Go on the Jimmy Fund’s website, read about the kids they’re trying to help, and tell me how it would possibly be a good thing to sabotage this auction. Hopefully, we can raise some money for cancer research and reverse the bad karma that this jersey has wrought on the Patriots franchise. Once you get the jersey, I don’t care what you do with it - you can wear it, you can burn it, you can bury it in your backyard. I don’t care. I never want to see it again.

I admit to not paying much attention to the whole fracas around the Boston Police Department shutting down parts of the city to “disarm” what turned out to be guerrilla art marketing geegaws, but thankfully, a bunch of other have been doing so… and they’re thus now in a position to point out the overt idiocy of the Boston Police and prosecutorial machinery. First stop is Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s post, which puts this event in the context of another genius move by the BPD, the 2006 “bomb scare” arrest of a man who was protesting by reenacting the famous Abu Ghraib photo outside an Army recruiting center. Then comes Bruce Schneier, who reminds us that the only terrorizing that was done came at the hands of the BPD, not the artists; the devices were up for over three weeks in Boston, and over ten weeks in other cities, and all of a sudden the BPD decided that it had to panic and go apeshit. And finally, Wired’s John Browne with a look at the laws involved, concluding that the only way the Boston prosecutors will be able to fulfill their promise to throw the book at the artists is if they demonstrate both that they intended to instill fear and that anyone would reasonably believe the devices to constitute some threat… something that the whole up-for-many-weeks-without-incident thing probably contradicts. (some via the inestimable Rafe)

Ahhhh, it’s that time of year again, when people enjoy a uniquely Massachusetts (and Maine!) holiday off of work, and either run 26.2 miles through the suburbs of Boston or drink an unreasonable amount of beer while cheering on the former group from the sidelines. Myself, I’m aiming to be a satellite member of the latter group, watching the runners and the drinkers from the comfort of the sidewalk in Brookline’s Washington Square. This will be the fourth year of watching the Marathon for me; three years ago, I happened to be here scouting out places to live on Marathon Monday and watched the runners as they made their final turn onto Boylston Street, and for the past two years I’ve retired to the much less crowded spot in Washington Square. It’s always a bit inspiring to see people twice my age jaunt by with a smile on their faces and energy left for the last three miles (but let’s be clear, I’ve never been so inspired as to feel that a 26.2 mile jog would be anything but sheer torture for me!). I’d love to be able to cheer on a few runners I know (or, since I’ll be at mile 23, I’d love to help resuscitate them when they collapse on the pavement after having recently crested the famous Heartbreak Hill!), but the official Boston Marathon site — the only place to find out bib numbers and keep track of a runner’s progress — has been horked all morning. Hopefully, it’ll come back up in time for me to get the info I need and wander up to Washington Square in time to see the elite runners come through!

Just a quick public note to Dan Cederholm (the man behind SimpleBits), his wife Kerry, and his three-month-old Jack to say glad everything went well! Jack just underwent surgery at the fabulous Children’s Hospital Boston to correct two congenital heart defects, and is recovering quickly enough to be out of the intensive care unit. Go Jack!

12.9 farenheit

Holy crap, it’s cold here in Brookline (and that’s without the wind chill!). To borrow a medical phrase, that’s damn near incompatible with human life….

Seriously, why is it taking the Yankees (and Major League Baseball) so long to release official Johnny Damon Yankees T-shirts? Being marooned here in the land of the BoSox (and thus having had to tolerate the puppy dog love of the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer displayed by nearly every Boston woman for the past two years), I really can’t wait to wear a Damon Yankees shirt into the hospital. Alas, the official MLB merchandising juggernaut hasn’t gotten around to making anything but the official (and $190) jersey for the Yankee’s newest outfielder, and while I’m sure that there are plenty of knockoffs along Canal Street in Manhattan, there’s nothing here in Boston but “Johnny Judas” shirts. It’s getting bad enough that I’m considering getting a “Welcome to New York, Johnny” shirt being sold online by Modell’s…

The best sign that I’m getting older is that today, rather than savor the first real snowfall we’ve had this year in Boston, I immediately started to dread the endless shovelling and tiresome parking battles that begin today. Last winter, I had to wake up an hour early most mornings so that I could go outside, clean off one or two cars and shovel them out of the snow, come back inside and shower, and then frequently head back outside to discover that a snow plow had buried us behind a new wall of snow — not fun at all. And since I live in a little community with minimal to no on-street parking, even the ethic of not taking a parking place that someone painstakingly shoveled out for themselves sometimes goes out the window, meaning that I also spent a good deal of time trying to find the person whose car was snuggled tightly into my spot. The forecast calls for even more snow tomorrow morning, which makes me want to crawl into bed and come out in April.

When I got home from work today, my neighbors were all staring inside a rotted-out hole in a tree trunk next to our house, something that I thought was a little strange. Alas, it turns out that a few days ago, they noticed a group of black-capped chickadee hatchlings living in the hollowed-out tree, and today, the new chicks started to try to venture out a bit. By the time I got home, only three of the original five were still in the nest; the other two found their way out, and had started to explore the area a little bit. Of course, neither of them had mastered the whole how-to-fly business, so we kept having to follow their (louder than expected) chirp to find them and get them back over to the nest area. They had their full plumage already, and were as tame as can be, allowing us to just walk right up and help them find their way home. One of the two was getting a little better handle on using his wings than his sibling, though, and within about half an hour had figured out how to flit back and forth from the ground to the nest.

I went out for a beer with some friends, and when I came back, the three inside the nest were still chirping away. It was easy to find one of the two out-of-the-nest chicks hanging out on the edge of our stoop by following the sounds of his chirp, but I never found the fifth one — maybe he was the one who was rapidly mastering flying, and had ascended into the trees overhanging our house. In any event, I wished them all luck getting through the night (there are a few street cats around here), and came inside to settle in. (If they’re still there tomorrow, I’ll try to snap a few pix!)

In the past 24 hours, it looks like we’ve lost power at our house in Brookline four separate times. Two of the times, the power was out for long enough to deplete the battery backups I have running on my rack of computers; for some reason, the Windows 2003 Server machine decided not to turn back on both times the main power was restored. Seems odd!

Later today, expect a few outages here and there in QuesoLand as I test things out and get the battery backup system tuned up.

Update: it looks like the battery in my UPS is dead, so even a very brief power outage is enough to bring everything to a screeching halt. I still don’t get why the Win2K3 machine isn’t restarting on its own when the power comes back on, but at least I can replace the battery without much muss or fuss.

How cool — Brookline looks like it’s going to go wireless! Of course, there aren’t any guarantees that the plan will succeed; attempts by other cities to provide universal wireless access have met with intense objection from the telecommunications providers that would actually have to start competing for business, providers that carry a lot of weight in the various state legislatures. (For a hilarious look at the view telecoms take of cities moving to provide WiFi access, read this account of Verizon’s CEO losing his mind during a conference call when he was asked about San Francisco’s plans to blanket the city with wireless.)

Nonetheless, it looks like there are a few factors that might make Brookline’s attempt more likely to take root. First, it seems that Brookline is looking to deploy wireless as much for city use as for public use; reading the Wireless Committee minutes and looking at the various presentations the committe has requested makes it clear that the police and fire departments, the parking enforcement department, and the various divisions of Public Works all are looking to invest heavily in using wireless communication. (And for those of you who’ve spent any time in Brookline, you know that the most important — and lucrative — one of those groups is the parking enforcement one, which very well might be able to pay for the wireless infrastructure itself!) It’s unclear whether the telecoms would have enough juice to fight a battle against such a strong interest.

Second, in my time here in Brookline, I’ve gotten the impression that the town has an incredibly strong ethic that resists bending to corporate interests. When I had an ongoing problem with my cable service, a Brookline ombudsman was able to put me in touch with a senior corporate representative of our cable company pretty much instantly, and shared with me the fairly restrictive contract that Brookline signed with the company detailing expectations of service and responsiveness. It’s vigilance like this — possible because of the small size of Brookline — that’ll probably work against any efforts by the telcos to oppose wireless plans here.

Only time will tell, but it’s neat to think that Brookline’s going to go forward with this!

Damn, it’s been a whole week since I’ve posted anything at all! I guess that’s what happens when I’m on the second of back-to-back weeks on call, and when on top of that, I have a project that needs to be done stat at work. So, in lieu of something more focused, here are the things that I’ve enjoyed over the past week:

  • watching Brad Choate’s new SpamLookup plug-in for Movable Type fill up my logs with notices about blocked TrackBack spam. After an initial brain fart trying to install the plug-in, I got it all set up, and haven’t seen a single one slip through since. (Of course, given that I was getting about 500 spammed TrackBacks for every legit one, and was seriously considering abandoning it as a result, it’ll take a little while to know if SpamLookup is truly the answer.)
  • the National Geographic Photo of the Day. There have been some unbelievably amazing shots in the past week, enough that I’m starting to get my photography jag back. (Must remember to get the light leak in my Contax SLR fixed!)
  • the weather in Boston, which has emerged from the subarctic temperatures we had come to expect and hit seventy twice! (Must start thinking about getting the air conditioners into the windows!)
  • the completely unencumbered ease of using Ajax (or XMLHttpRequest, or whatever you want to call it to avoid meaningless religious wars) to develop web applications. The project I’m completing at the hospital is a web-based database for storing tissue specimens, and having this tool in the toolbox makes for an unbelievably more usable and intuitive interface, something that makes me as happy as the end users.
  • Will Smith’s Switch and Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl; what can I say, I’m a sucker for a silly song with a good beat.

This morning (don’t you love that 12:55 PM is “morning”?), I’ll share a few links that found their way into all the tabs I have open, waiting to be read. The sharing is partly because I have to update my web browser, so I’ll be losing all those tabs soon; it’s also partly because they’re all share-worthy.

  • The City Record and Boston News-Letter: this is a (TypePad-driven!) site run by Charles Swift and devoted to Boston’s history; Charles came across my June 2003 post about moving to Boston and wanting to spend time delving into the history of the region, and was kind enough to drop me a line overnight letting me know about his site. This is the kind of weblog that sits smack in the middle of my danger territory — I could start reading it, and get so engrossed and so obsessive that I might never come out.
  • Guide to Using XmlHttpRequest (with Baby Steps): I posted last Monday about Jesse James Garrett’s piece on Ajax, the newest Big Thing in web development, but lamented that there still wasn’t a user-level guide on implementing it. Well, now Bill Bercik has done that, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m currently finishing off the reimplementation of one of my web applications in PHP, and after reading Bill’s piece, I’ve already started forming a mental checklist of places that I might want to think about using Ajax in v2.1 of the app.
  • The MN Musolfs: OK, this one is mostly personal — it’s the new Blogger site of a friend of mine. The part of it that isn’t personal, and what motivated me to include it in the list, is that she (or her husband) is a natural-born blogger; in one page of posts, there are baby pictures, recipes (a hot tuna wrap!), and laments about the cancellation of the NHL season. I can’t wait to see where the site goes, and it’s nice to have the added way of keeping up with long-distance friends.
  • Rolling with Ruby on Rails: this is a O’Reilly review of the web development technology that’s being called The Way Of The Future, and while I’ve been at this long enough to know that there’s as much hype as reality in claims like that, I’ve also been at this long enough to know that, at a minimum, being called that means that the technology is at least interesting. And according to this MetaFilter thread, some of my favorite websites were built using RoR. So I’ll give it a read.
  • Stage Fright Remedy: this is a brother-sister guitar and vocal duo that Shannon and I heard on the “Talent from Twelve to Twenty” Prairie Home Companion show last weekend, and even though they didn’t win the competition, we really liked them. Turns out that they’ve got music online, and it’s already made its way onto both of our iPods. (Of note, I also loved the bluegrass music of The Lovell Sisters Band, but they’ve got nothing online, so it’s hard for me to keep listening to them!)
doppler, blizzard of 2005

Yeah, so there’s about 18” on the ground already, the snow is moving horizontally outside our windows, and the latest report says that it’s all supposed to keep up through tomorrow evening. Send rations!

Today, Mark Frauenfelder pointed to an article that made me laugh, all about how the mayor of Bogota has embarked on a program of putting mimes on the sidewalks to mock Colombians into better behavior. After reflecting on it a bit, I realized that the funniest thing about the article to me is that it appeared in a Boston paper. This is a town where a similar level of jackassery takes place every single day, but rather than in on the sidewalks, it takes place behind the steering wheels of cars — running red lights, driving 80 on the shoulder, ignoring pedestrians in crosswalks, and making left turns inches in front of streams of oncoming traffic. Maybe it’s time to hire the Bogota mayor to figure out a way that mimes could effectively mock drivers…

Tonight, Shannon and I had Alison, David, and the boys over for our weekly pizza dinner, and tacked on the extra occasion of setting up and decorating our Christmas tree. Last year, it was just about this time that we were starting to see the light at the end of the home redecoration tunnel, and Shannon and me putting up our tree felt like a declaration that we were finally settling into Brookline. This year, it was nice to expand the decoration group with some of our closest Brookline friends; it also didn’t hurt that both of the (three year-old twin) boys spontaneously threw up their arms up and declared, “Ta daaaa!” as we topped the tree off with the star. (Seriously, it was sweet enough that I went into a diabetic coma, from which I’m just now emerging.)

Normally, when the twins step foot into our apartment, our cats instantaneously teleport themselves into the deepest, darkest hiding places they can find, knowing that it’s only a matter of minutes before little feet start stomping around attached to voices shouting, “Cat! Cat! Where are you, cat?!?” It usually takes a half an hour or more after everyone leaves for them to wearily come out of hiding and rejoin us in the living room. Tonight, Boogie came out pretty quickly and took up his regular position sleeping on a shelf next to Shannon, but Sammie didn’t show her grey face for quite a while. When I got curious enough, I went hunting, but it didn’t take too long to find her — I think she might like the holiday season, too!

sammie under the tree
red sox win!

Congrats go out to the Red Sox, rolling through eight straight to shock the Yanks, stun the Cards, and close the chapter on 86 straight years of New England misery! (And thanks go out to Dan Cederholm for permission to use his great graphic.)

Shannon and I maintain hours that are just inconvenient enough to totally conflict with our drycleaning needs, so about a month ago, we started hunting for a good company that did pickup and delivery. We were pretty excited (unreasonably so, I’ll admit) when we found Zoots, as they completely fit our bill — Brookline service, online scheduling of pickups, twice-weekly visits, automatic billing, and named as one of the Best of Boston. What we had no clue about is that, alas, Zoots completely sucks.

Courtesy of, a thumbnail glimpse of the next 10 days of Brookline life:

tons of rain

I wonder if we’ll ever get to use our new porch furniture…

For the past eight months, I’ve been jonesing to replace the door to my study with a french door that will let the light from the front of the house through to the hallway and the rest of our apartment. I wasn’t anxious to do everything that that entailed, though — chiseling out hinge mounts, drilling doorknob holes, and aligning all the mechanical workings wasn’t something that I thought I could handle. After succeeding at replacing a few mortise-type doorknobs in other doors last weekend, though, I started to think that this weekend was the time to try starting the Great Door Replacement Project, and in the aisles of Home Depot yesterday morning, Shannon reassured me that I could pull it off.

We bought the door, and this morning I trimmed it down to the dimensions of the frame. I then learned that the frame isn’t exactly square — houses built in 1900 seem to settle a bit, leaving angles that are a bit off of right. After that, I picked up the small fact that my 7.2 volt cordless drill isn’t powerful enough to bore the doorknob hole through 1-3/4 inches of solid pine. And last (but not least), I learned that a standard doorknob hole is slightly too big for the decorative knobs that we bought to match the rest of the hardware in our apartment. But in the end, I managed to get the door sized to the frame, and get it all hung and aligned.

new french door

Next week, we’ll prime and paint it, and then get all the plastic off of the windows; I can hardly wait to see it all finished!

Thanks go out to Matt for solidifying my depression by pointing out the fact that the Northeast has been colder than Mars over the past few weeks. I mean, we’re talking about a planet that’s nearly 50 million miles further from the Sun than ours, and it’s warmer there than outside my apartment window. Maybe a Mars colony doesn’t sound like such a bad idea after all…

Now’s the time that I share two photographic notes from the end of my week; as always, click on the little pix to get bigger pix. Friday morning, Boston was cold enough that I was barely able to motivate myself out the front door. My engine turned over six or seven times in order to catch, and when I looked down, I was saddened to see the thermometer on my dashboard read six below zero.
dashboard thermometer
On my drive to work, NPR kept warning that, while the ambient temperature outside was in the few-below-zero range, the wind chill was making it more like forty below zero. It was the first day that, rather than spending one minute crossing the street, I decided to take the ten-minute, entirely-indoor route between my parking garage to the hospital. It was cold enough that, after doing a bone marrow harvest, I needed to again use the indoor route to bring the marrow across to the cell processing lab; we were told that the insulated cooler that we transport cells in just wouldn’t be good enough in that kind of weather. Friday evening, I was getting ready to leave the hospital when Shannon called. She had come home to find my cat sitting there drooling with her tongue out; Sammie was unwilling to close her mouth, and didn’t appear to be all that excited about eating.
sammie's tongue
I hurried home, and after a quick search, found a great vet who was still open, and (more importantly) was willing to see us right then. We took Sammie in to get checked out, and after some hissing, scratching, and a little sedation, the vet told us that she had some dental disease but no clear reason for her symptoms. Worried about a jaw dislocation or fracture, the vet did x-rays which didn’t shed any light on things; despite that, nobody could get Sammie to close her jaw completely, and we were left thinking that there was a possibility of a tooth abscess or other hidden infection. They sent us out with antibiotics for Sammie, and also with the instruction to have her checked out again if she didn’t improve over the course of one or two days. Last night, Sammie let me get enough of a look in her mouth to see that she appeared to have a malocclusion, and this morning I brought her in to our fabulous local animal hospital. They hooked us up with a visit this week to their dental specialist; we’ll see how that all goes. For now, Sammie has been relegated to eating soft food, and to forming puddles of kitty drool if she stops moving for more than five minutes. It’s sorta pathetic.
When I got into my car this morning, the in-dash thermometer read minus 3 degrees. That’s in Farenheit, people. It was three freaking degrees below zero, cold enough to make the insides of my nose freeze in the time it took to walk from my front door to the car. Cold enough to make shifting my car into first gear feel like dragging a two-ton weight through a vat of molasses. Cold enough to make the 200-foot walk between the parking garage and the hospital seem like a legitimate threat to my well-being. Dammit, I grew up in balmy Texas, where temperatures below freezing were less common than Democrats, and when you talked about dressing for the cold, you meant that it would be a good idea to wear pants. Looking at the coming week, we’re going to get up to a truly toasty 38 degrees before plunging back down in the single-digits… I hope that I get through it without losing body parts to frostbite.
new york times, 10/17/2003boston globe, 10/17/2003
Bill Buckner must be breathing a sigh of relief today, because at the top of the list of people most responsible for ripping the hearts out of all Red Sox fans, he appears to have been instantly supplanted last night by Boston manager Grady Little. Here at the hospital, just saying “Grady” or “eighth inning” causes nearly everyone to erupt with venemous rage, and there’s a poll running on the Boston Globe site that, with nearly 11,000 votes cast, is 67% in favor of tossing Little out on his ass. (Of course, it’s one of the worst-worded surveys in all of history, but alas.) Some of the headlines in the print version of the Globe today read: “Little was too late with ace in a hole” (continued with “Little tipped his hand by holding his ace too long”), “Little stood by his man, for too long,” and “A Little second-guessing”; exclusive to the website was the main Red Sox page headline “Sox blow it; Little’s failure to remove Pedro in 8th cost Sox the pennant .” It’s bad enough here that there’s a certain Cubs fan who’s probably relieved that, as horrible as his last few days have been, at least he’s not Grady Little. (And for posterity’s sake, there are PDFs of both today’s Globe and Times.)
yankees!  yankees!
OK, here’s where I admit that I had almost completely written the Yankees off somewhere near the end of the seventh; here’s where I also admit that I may have caused damage to both my sofa and the floor beneath it with all the jumping up and down that I did in the bottom of the eighth. What an unbelievable game, and what an even more unbelievable end. (Mariano Rivera pitching three complete innings for the first time since April of 1996!?! A walkoff home run from Aaron Boone!?!) I have to admit a bit of sadness for the Red Sox — since I’m always a sucker for the underdog, and now that I live here, I also have a bunch of friends that are going to be horribly sad for the next few weeks — but I also have to exult at the Yanks making the to Fall Classic. A few last notes before heading off to bed:
  • The choice of Rivera as the ALCS MVP was just obvious, and well-deserved.
  • It’s a shame that Pedro stuck around for the eighth; in the blink of a managerial eye, a masterful Pedro victory turned into an unfortunate afterthought. (Well, we’ll see how much of an afterthought it is in the Boston press tomorrow.)
  • Hey, Tim McCarver — could you possibly have been more annoying about whether or not it was going to be the end of Roger Clemens’ career? I’m pretty sure that we all got it the first twelve times you said it; we probably didn’t need the other fifteen hundred.

What a night of baseball! First, the Yankees’ other 40-and-over pitcher, David Wells, got it done in Fenway Park, pitching seven innings and striking out five. Then, the Cubbies learned that the Curse of the Billy Goat is alive and well when one of their own fans grabbed a ball from above the outstretched glove of Moises Alou, preventing the second out of what turned into an eight-run Marlin eighth. (Poor guy had to be scooped out of his seat by security, and later escorted out of the stadium, so that other fans couldn’t kill him.)

Of course, the Marlins win pushes the NLCS to the seventh game, which means that the Yankees/Red Sox game will be at 4:00 today… when I still have at least two hours left at work. Dammit!

My summary of tonight’s Yankees/Red Sox game:
  • Roger Clemens had early problems with control, giving up three hits and two runs in the first fifteen pitches. Luckily, he settled down, finishing after six innings with no more runs and seven strikeouts.
  • The Yanks scrapped away as they always do, turning gap shots and long low balls into runs. And with the only home run of the game, Jeter literally silenced Fenway Park; I don’t think I’ve ever heard the crowd that silent.
  • Pedro Martinez reinforced his reputation as a headhunter, hitting Karim Garcia in the fourth and then yelling further threats about throwing at batters’ heads into the Yankees dugout.
  • After a not-even-close pitch up and inside, Manny Ramirez inflamed already-smoldering tensions by strutting out towards the mound, causing both benches to clear and Pedro to lose even more friends by throwing 72 year-old Don Zimmer to the ground.
  • A moronic Fenway groundskeeper felt that it was a good idea to jump into the Yankees bullpen during the ninth inning, somehow leading to Karim Garcia getting injured. (Can you say criminal charges? Can you also say unemployed?) (Update: it appears that it may have been the Yanks responsible for the bullpen fracas; we’ll see where the fallout ends up.)
  • Mariano Rivera was, as always, just awesome. It’s just unfathomable that he has a postseason ERA of 0.74; during the playoffs, Mariano regularly gives the Yanks two solid innings in which all they have to do is concentrate on putting more runs on the board.
All in all, neither of the two superstar pitchers was all that awesome, and Pedro ended up losing the matchup both on the scoreboard and in his jackass behavior. (And for those who don’t know, there’s a reason Don Zimmer was bridling at Martinez pitching at people’s heads. In 1953, Zimmer was hit in the head, and was unconscious for nearly two weeks. He couldn’t speak for an additional four weeks, and he ended up with a metal plate in his head. Three years later, his season was ended by another pitch to the head that broke his cheekbone. In other words, he knows of which he speaks.)
And there you have it; the most one-sided rivalry in sports now takes center stage, starting Wednesday night. It’s a shame that it looks like the pitching lineups won’t get Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez on the same field, but it does seem likely that Clemens will be pitching in Fenway Park one last time in his career, which is just awesome.
This morning, in a moment of absolute craving, Shannon and I decided to start hunting for good bagels in and around Brookline; the web page we found provides not only what seems to be a good list of Boston bagel shops, but also a good explanation of the difference between Boston-style bagels and New York-style ones. Of course (being that I’m a New York bagel snob) my favorite part of the page was:

David Lewis’s mini bagel FAQ:
Q. Does Bruegger’s make good bagels?
A. No.
Q. Does Dunkin’ Donuts make good bagels?
A. No.
Q. Does Einstein Brothers make good bagels?
A. No, but the stores are hip and trendy, so people claim to like their bagels.

The problem with the list is that there aren’t any New York-style places in Brookline; does anyone else have suggestions?
salt with a tail breech
What a great day! Shannon and I joined Anil and Alaina on a daytrip to Provincetown, the highlight of which was an awesome trip into the Cape Cod Harbor. Click on the image for the complete photo gallery…
The Boston Globe recently finished a three-part series on traffic ticket patterns in and around Boston, and found that whites are more likely than minorities to get warnings (rather than tickets) when pulled over by police. Of course, this can’t be shocking to anyone; I’d be willing to wager that the same stats hold true for any large metropolitan area in this country, even after all the hoopla about racial profiling. A few other cool stats came out of the Globe data, though, like an explanation of the effects of getting a ticket on your Massachusetts auto insurance rates, and information about how much cops let you speed before they give you a ticket. (Worrisome in that last set of graphs is that cops in Boston let people speed more than state troopers, even though one would imagine that city police officers are watching over streets with lower speed limits than those patrolled by state officers.)
A picture of our new living room, posted here as proof that I am doing something with my life other than working in the hospital:
our brookline living room
One change so far: those little trinkets on the bookshelf to the right are now on pedestal shelves on the wall next to the picture above the chair to the left; in their stead is a cool antique-looking clock.
Tonight was my first trip to Fenway Park as a Boston resident, and it was a great one. The weather threatened rain all day, but the clouds seemed to part in the middle of the first inning, and it turned out to be the perfect night for a game. Shannon’s dad and I sat way up in the bleachers, and in addition to eight and a half innings of good ball, we sat next to a dad teaching his nine year old daughter how to score a game, saw a fight lead to two guys sliding down twenty rows of concrete stairs on their backs, and swam in the midst of more inebriated half-naked women than I’ve ever seen at Yankee Stadium. We also got to see the 10,000th home run hit in Fenway Park and the 100th home run hit by Manny Ramirez in a Red Sox uniform, and a great ninth inning push by the Orioles before Byung-Hyun Kim secured the win. All that being said, though, I’ve never seen a fan base that’s more wrapped up in the hatred of another team than they are in the love of their own. There may have been more “Yankees suck!” jerseys than there were Nomar Garciaparra jerseys, and on top of those, there were shirts recommending the Yankees shove their 26 World Series rings up their asses, yank certain Red Sox body parts, and pretty much every other tired joke you could think of. Pretty pathetic, actually.
I was warned, I’ll admit that; probably more than anything else, when I was preparing to move, people told me that it’d be so much worse than I thought. Living in New York at the time, I figured there was no way, chalking it up to people who just didn’t know how bad it could get in the Big Apple. But I’m now ready to acknowledge the one basic fact: Boston drivers suck, way worse than any others I’ve experienced. Every day, I’m stunned by something new on the roads. People turn left across three lanes of busy oncoming traffic without even thinking about waiting for a gap. A “No Turn On Red” sign isn’t a rule, nor is it a suggestion, but rather, it’s a challenge. Shoulders aren’t for unexpected car maintenance, they’re for unexpected chances to floor your car to get past someone. And if a light turns green during the twelve milliseconds it takes for you to blink, don’t worry, because inevitably your ears will still be able to hear the car behind you lay on the horn before light again hits your retina. It’s totally unbelievable. After twelve years in New York, I’m enjoying owning a car, but I have to say that I worry about accident damage every time I venture out of my parking spot.
This past week, things turned a corner, in both my professional (medical) and amateur (do-it-yourself home improvement) lives. In terms of the doctor life, this past Tuesday was my first day as a pediatric hematology/oncology fellow, and it felt good. All of my co-fellows are incredibly cool — fun, helpful, equally nervous — and there isn’t a single aspect of the training program that doesn’t totally eclipse everything that I’ve experienced over the past three years of training in New York. The staff is not only helpful, they all go out of their way to make sure that everything goes well. The facilities are beautiful, on both the inpatient and outpatient sides, and reflect planning that took into account what would be best for everyone involved. And there’s no other way to describe the support services than simply unbelievable; every time I ask how to get something done for a patient, the answer is invariably to point me to the person whose job it is to handle exactly that. It’s nice to finally start working somewhere that exudes an understanding that patients are the single most important reason we all work as hard as we do. Of course, it also helps that I started out on neuro-oncology, one of the easier rotations I’ll experience this year, which has meant that I’m able to get my feet wet in the new hospital but am also able to get home at a reasonable hour. Speaking of home, Shannon and I both agree that this weekend was big for us, not because of any sheer quantity of work that we did, but rather because we finally crossed the line between getting basic things done and getting real quality-of-living things done. For example, we framed five photos and hung them along our main hallway, making it feel like a home rather than a sterile passageway, and likewise, we did some decorating in the kitchen that helped it cross into the world of warm and comfortable. And Matt’s visit this past weekend also lit a fire under our asses to work on the bathroom and front room. Shannon tackled painting the bathroom, and then we built a nice armoire and wall cabinet, put up a glass shelf, hung a new curtain rod and shower curtain, and replaced the shower head. In the front room, we got everything painted, set up my desk and computer, moved the sofa bed into place, and hung the curtains on the french doors to the patio; all that’s left is deciding where all the wall decorations are going to go, and it’ll be another room in the bag. And finally, a spontaneous walk around the neighborhood last night (while waiting for paint to dry) led to the discovery of what seems to be an awesome indoor pool a mere four blocks away from me. It’s in the building which housed the first indoor municipal swimming pool in the United States, which is damn cool; cooler still is the fact that the rates are incredibly reasonable, and the hours look like they won’t conflict too terribly with my packed hospital schedule. Here’s to another week of progress!

I’m in Boston, and have even started work; the apartment is coming along, but it’s still in the phase of requring a lot of effort getting things into a livable state. (Lucky for me, Shannon is doing a lot of painting when I’m at the hospital, and then we get to tool around together in the evenings, setting up rooms, painting, hanging cabinet doors, and other domestic stuff.)

I promise more updates, including before and after pictures, when things settle down a little bit. Next up: the T1 provisioning, the installation of our cable TV and phone lines, the delivery of a new desk (to replace the one that got pretty hosed in the move), and the possiblity of a fully functioning kitchen in the next 24-48 hours.

P.S. Happy 30th birthday to me!

This is it — the apartment’s packed, I get the truck in an hour, and after a grueling few hours loading it up, it’s off to Boston.


Something else I’m thinking about in planning my move: blanketing my new apartment with WiFi. Specifically, I’ve been trying to figure out how many base stations I’ll need in order to cover every nook and cranny (and whether it’s important to also try to get to the corner of the basement, where the washing machines are). I’m already figuring that there will at least have to be a second base station in the back of the apartment, but after reading Paul Boutin’s article, I realized that I haven’t thought out whether it’s important to try to get the two base stations to merge into a single, seamless network. If anyone has any ideas, please feel free to pass them along; I’ll be sure to do the same after I figure it all out.

Last week, Shannon and I began the packing (and garbage disposal) process for the upcoming move, and in an attempt to start small, we decided to attack the closets. In one of them, I uncovered a box of college textbooks and notebooks (I’m that kind of packrat), and among them were my spiral-bound notes from what may be my favorite class of all times, Kenneth Jackson’s History of the City of New York. It was a weird moment — I was busy packing up to move out of New York City, and in so doing, uncovered evidence of the class (and professor) who, more than anyone or anything else, helped me fall in love with New York City. Jackson taught the class as part-lecture, part-walking tour, and one-time all-night bike trip around the City, and to this day, the experiences he passed on have served to cement my psyche to the streets of New York. It’s unclear whether that is because I’m a natural-born New Yorker or whether Jackson just got to me at the point when I was most vulnerable (or, perhaps, whether I was just extremely likely to grasp onto any big city after ripping up my San Antonio childhood roots). After looking through the spiral, I found myself hoping that I have enough time once I get to Boston to invest myself in a similar exploration of the city’s history; I think it’s time to start compiling resources (both online and off) that exist to help weekend urban anthropologists like myself discover the Boston of times past.

A few observations (or, put more aptly, nagging questions) that I’ve come up with while planning for the move to Boston:

  • Why don’t most of the major car insurance companies provide policies in the state of Massachusetts? Part of me suspects that it’s a legislative thing, like maybe that the state rules make it hard to offer affordable insurance. The other, more realistic, part of me feels that it has to do with the absolutely freaking insane drivers of Boston, and the fact that carriers need to factor in the reasonable chance that the entire right side of your car will be demolished by one of them as he swerves down the shoulder at 100 miles an hour.
  • Is there a good way to find someone that I can pay to help me unload the truck when I get to Boston? Thanks to Alaina and Anil, I have people for this end (of course, I haven’t called or e-mailed them yet), but thinking about the flight of stairs at the other end has already made my back start hurting.
  • How likely is it that a single 15-foot truck is going to hold all my crap? I mean, I feel like my computer shit alone is gonna fill that puppy. (What, did you think that the MetaFilter server was small or something?)
  • Is there a cellphone provider that’s particularly good in Boston? One whose coverage is so bad that I’d be better served by a roll of quarters and a box of alcohol wipes to sterilize the payphone handsets? T-Mobile has decided to treat new customers better that current (eight-year veteran) customers, so I’m going to dump their service at the end of my contract next month; so far as I can tell, I can get good deals and great handsets through AT&T, but I have no clue if I’ll have reception worth a damn in the Brookline area.
  • Is there any chance whatsoever that I’ll just come home towards the end of June and find my entire apartment boxed up and ready to go? Do I have to actually participate in the process of making it so?

That’s just a little bit of what’s whizzing through my head as I enter full-on panic mode…

Postscript: Don’t even think about buying a car outside the state of Massachusetts and registering it in Massachusetts; it ain’t gonna happen. Ever. (Oh, and that was two hours of my life that I’d like back, please.)

Ever since we all returned to the northeast, my family has made Thanksgiving the one holiday when we all get together and bask in each other’s company. We’re a family of many religions, and that means that the traditional big family holidays — Passover and Christmas, for the most part — aren’t shared by everyone, so that means that we all settled on Thanksgiving as our big family gathering. Unfortunately, though, I just got my schedule for next year, and it looks like a return to New York City isn’t in the cards for me. I’m scheduled to be on the Bone Marrow Transplant service for the month of November, and more precisely, I’m on call for the service on Thanksgiving Day. I hope that the service is quiet enough that I’ll be able even to get back to my apartment that night and have dinner with Shannon, but since I invited one of the fellows to our dinner this past year and she wasn’t able to make it out of the hospital, I harbor a certain amount of skepticism that it’ll happen. Harrumph.

There’s a big reason that I’ve lived in the same apartment in New York City for eight years — I cannot stand real estate hunting. Between the run-down cells that are passed off as livable and the creepy people involved in the entire process, I cringe when I think about having to pound the pavement looking for an apartment. Thus, my upcoming move to Boston has had quite an effect on my blood pressure as of late; Shannon can attest to the fact that all it’s taken over the past few weeks to get me riled up was an innocuous question from a friend about whether or not I’d yet found a place to live. All that being said, though, I have to start my fellowship on July 1st, so after putting the process off as long as possible, I came up to Boston late last night (straight out of an ER shift) so that I could get started. Thus, I couldn’t be happier that by 10 AM this morning, I was done — I now have a Boston apartment.

The way that it all worked out so nicely is a good story. One of my old friends — someone who I met in the fourth grade, who was on the debate team with me in high school, and who may get credit for being the first to sit me down in front of a computer — is now a lawyer in Boston. He’s lived in the same apartment for the past eight years, and nearly every time I’ve come up here, I’ve stayed in his place. It’s a nice apartment, with three bedrooms, big living and dining rooms, a gargantuan kitchen, a study, and an outdoor patio off the front of the house. The last time I came up, he mentioned that he and his girlfriend were closing on a house, and it turns out that not only did they do so, but he’ll be moving out of his apartment just as I’m going to be moving to Boston. His apartment is perfect for so many reasons — it’s close to the hospital (about 5 minutes from the hospital by car, two T stops away by train, and within walking/rollerblading distance if I’m feeling ambitious), it’s big, it’s on a private street, and most importantly, it’s owned by a great guy who is willing to do the precious few things that I’d want done before I were to move in. This morning, he and I walked through the apartment verifying everything that he’d do to get the place ready, and ten minutes later, the deal was sealed with a handshake (and later, with a lease that was waiting for me when I got back from the movies tonight).

I feel like a huge load has been lifted off of my shoulders; it wasn’t until tonight that I felt completely ready to move to Boston, and start this next chapter of my life. Now, to get through the packing and unpacking process…