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The Boston College graduation started early on Monday at 9:00a.m. The cab we took there was more than a tight squeeze. I had to sit in the front seat because there wasn’t enough leg room for anybody but a short person. The back wasn’t all that much better. But none of cabs were big at all.

The cabby wanted to drop us off seriously far away from the college because of traffic. I think he was afraid of losing money getting out of there. But we didn’t pay for a cab just to walk ten blocks after we got there, thanks. We had him drop us off at the church, which was the edge of campus.

So here’s the thing about the BC graduation. It’s outside on a football field. So while you think it’s a good idea to wear nice fancy clothes to graduation, you’re wrong. Because you end up sitting on the same bleachers that beer drinking, loogie spitting,ketchup spilling fans sit on. It is so cold that I can cut glass. The metal bleachers are sucking the heat out of your butt and just when you think the misery will end, it starts to rain. Icicles are forming on the tip of your nose and this is all before the actual graduation starts.

I am so cold that I pay for an overpriced BC blanket and ponchos, but that does not help with the cold. So we decided to go inside to the basketball court where you could watch on big screen TVs. Your graduate won’t know because everyone who’s graduating appears in the first half of the ceremony. There is a symbolic accepting of the different colleges/schools (undergrad,law,etc) before the guest speaker comes on and tells you how much you suck as a generation.

I don’t remember who he was other than that he was a documentary film maker. He tells the class about how technology addicted they are and how they should commune more with nature. I don’t know who’s children he’s been hanging out with, but isn’t it the young people pushing for green everything and a smaller carbon footprint? Who do you think embraces that thought? You’d think that the new generation is a bunch of drooling slacktards texting each other while watching 18 hours of television a day.

Don’t you think that telling them that the world is hard and hard work will be required to achieve your dreams, but nothing can stop you from what you want to do, and, I don’t know, give them some hope and encouragement would be good to send them off in their adventures as grownups? It shouldn’t be a platform for your gripes with young people.

So anyway, after all that is intermission. It’s lunchtime, but it’s not a long enough time for you to go eat something. You have to stand in the hellaciously long lines at concessions to get a hot dog and if you’re lucky, a stale pretzel. We trekked a bit and got a some sandwiches at a gift shop. And we ate that in a hurried and greedy fashion, snorting it up like starving inmates given gruel and then trekking back out into the cold and wind to watch your actual student get a diploma.

The great thing about this part is that they call about four names a minute. With about nine million graduating underclassmen, they are done in about three hours. The in-laws last name is luckily H, and we were able to stay long enough to watch The Little Sister’s name get called and we screamed for her before taking off. Because, you see, I had made flight reservations that night to go home. Had I realized that the graduation was an all day event, I would have been more prepared.

We took the green line back to the hotel snatch up our stuff and then cab it to the airport where we grabbed a quick dinner before flying back home.

So here’s the lesson for the day. If a child of yours is graduating from Boston College, bring a sleeping bag to keep you warm. Preferably a zero degree bag to fight off windchill. And bring an umbrella because it will rain on you, because it hates you. And lastly bring a snack and water. Pretend like you’re going on a short camping trip because you will be roughing it out there on the bleachers.

And that concludes the Boston Trip!

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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I knew that I was going to the aquarium and having had problems with some of the dimly lit exhibits at other aquariums, I did some research online. I have a Nikon D70 and there were two 50mm Nikon lenses that could fit the bill. There was a $300 one that opened up to 1.4 and a $100 that opened up to 1.8. I read a bunch of reviews comparing the two and the gist of it was that the 1.8 was good enough for government work. So I took that and was able to get these photos.

In previous sessions, this photo would have been super blurry.

I would have never gotten this photo with my other lenses.

I did have to jack up the ISO to 1600 and that’s why the photo is a little bit grainy, but I can’t tell at all, so whatever. I’m sure if I got the 1.4, I would have gotten less grainy photo with a lower ISO, but I would also be out $200.

Granted, I took about 50 photos for every good one that came out. It’s a fixed focus lens, which means you can’t make it zoom. You have to wait for the animals to come into focus.

So if you have a Nikon camera that can use the 1.8 lens, I highly suggest it! It made these photos possible.

The rest of the New England Aquarium photos.

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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I love the color of this anemone. Remember not to stick your finger in the middle.

We were able to take the train to the aquarium. Make sure that you have your credit cards with you because you’ll need it to buy train tickets.

This fish is not dead. It’s supposed to look this way.  Do you think it’s a baby halibut?  Is it’s eye migrating?!

The aquarium has a very interesting setup. The center is a huge tank that has a spiral walkway that you walk up. (We did it backwards though. We walked down.). The outer spiral had all the small enclosures making it seem like the aquarium was one giant tower.

A little help here? No? You’re just going to let me lay here aren’t you? Why do you hate me, Bill? What have I ever done to you?

Like any good aquarium, there is always the obligatory penguins.

I used my macro lens to get this

Also, because we went to the Duck Tour, we were able to use these coupons that they gave us. We got two dollars off admission each ticket. You could also get a discount if you had a Charlie Card, which is the train card.

You look tasty

This wasn’t the biggest aquarium or the flashiest, but I have to say, I enjoyed this one quite a lot. I got a lot of good photos. It’s a good place to take the kids because there are little steps at the front of the exhibits for the kids to step on and look.

You better not sleep or I’ll eat you.

Plus, they have the creepiest looking octopus.

The only thing I regretted was not making sure my second battery was fully charged. Because I ran out as we were getting to the jelly fish exhibit. And I love jelly fish. I managed to get a few good ones. *sighs* Maybe at another aquarium.

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

Sonsie’s

Aug. 24th, 2009 08:00 am
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For brunch on Sunday, we went to Sonsie’s, which is also on Newbery. I didn’t make these reservations, so I didn’t know anything about these restaurants. I looked at the restaurant after the fact so I could link it here. Had I seen the comments on their website, I would have definitely not gone there at all.

The quotes from magazines were all about how it was the place to be seen and the photos were full of young trendy people having a great time. The last thing I care about is being seen by strangers. They don’t care and I don’t care. I don’t understand this whole being seen thing. I don’t see what it gains me.

But that quote would explain why the hostess was dressed like she was going clubbing at ten in the morning. Her teeny tiny buttcheeks peaked out the hem of her dress with each step that she took on her four inch heels. Her scowl of disdain was permanently etched onto her face. She was incapable if smiling because those muscles have atrophied.

She didn’t want to seat us at first because our whole party wasn’t there. A few of our members had decided to go shopping instead of wait for our table, which we were ten minutes early for. I was hungry. I didn’t know when they would be back since Newbery was a street full of clothing shops. So I said that I wanted to be seated now, which earned me an eye roll. I wonder if she smiled after sex.

Probably not.

She sat us in the back, which was probably some sort of diss except that it was nice and quiet back there. I much prefered it there than having waiters swishing back and forth behind me. Chris’ family is so tall that more than one tray of food has either grazed their heads or fully been conked in the head leaving them covered with food. And these waiters were not tall enough to lift the overly heavy trays over their heads.

Having finally being seated, I ate the best scones in my life. It was filled with raspberries and covered in a layer of sugary frosty goodness.

Now I fully admit that it could have been that I was hungry. I remember once declaring how good Cheetos were after eating half a bag. I fully admit that hunger had something to do with how good they were.

I also ordered a mimosa, so that could have tainted my thoughts on the steak and eggs that I had. I found them also equally delicious. And that was more than enough food for me. (It also came with potatoes.).

The restaurant is known for serving sophisticated comfort food. I’m not a big fan of that. Just because you put truffle oil and saffron into my mac n cheese, it doesn’t make that sophisticated. But surprisngly, there was none of that nonsense in my steak and eggs.

The food wasn’t horribly priced. For five of us, it was about $150 before tip and that was with mimosas. It’s a decent enough place for brunch. I’m hesitant to suggest it because of all the super trendy people there. But if anything, you’ve got to try those scones. I’m convinced that it wasn’t because I was hungry.

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

Duck Tour

Aug. 21st, 2009 08:00 am
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We got up hellaciously early to do a Duck Tour. They were totally out of tickets by the time we went to buy some. All the good times were sold out. So we were stuck with this butt-crack of dawn one.

This one left right in front of our hotel, so all we had to do was cross the street. The only problem was that it was cold and raining! But we went nonetheless.

The tour guides were all dressed up in interesting outfits. This guy was some sort of guru, but can’t remember which one. It was too early. It was supposed to be funny. I don’t remember laughing.

Our tour was also full of either middle school or high school students. They were on some sort of field trip from Sacramento, which was such a coincidence. I used to live in Sacramento, you know. I’m sure there was some sort of serendipity or sign or something, but it was too early to think about all that.

And did I mention? The kids had too much energy so early in the morning. I think they all drank six cups of coffee.

I wanted to take Chris on the Duck Tour because I knew he would like going into the water. After we got the tickets, his Mom said that he’d already been on a Duck Tour. I asked Chris and he said he didn’t remember. It was like when he was six and what he did remember was that the water they did go into was like a small stream that any car would have driven over. He didn’t actually expect us to go into the Charles River. I think he quite enjoyed the ride.

What did the tour guide talk about? Something about how old Beacon Street was, how there were a ton of Dunkin’ Donuts. Something about some movie. It was too early to remember. Quite honestly, I wasn’t paying attention. Sshhh, don’t tell anybody!

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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There were a bunch of statues and sculptures in Boston Commons. When I saw this from a distance, I asked Chris what he thought that was. He said, “A depth charge.” and I was like, “No way!” So, of course, I had to go look. And it turned out that it was indeed depth charge from one of the world wars. I asked him how he knew it was a depth charge and he said, everybody knows what one looks like. Humph!

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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Kashmir’s is a nice Indian restaurant nestled on Newbery street. They were a little hard to find for me because they were below street level.

Indoors was a little muggy at first. But it could have been that it was freezing outside and every heated room inside was stuffy. After I thawed out, the restaurant was a comfortable temperature.

The tandoori tikka that I got was somewhat bland. I wanted some sauce or something with it, but I have a feeling I got the wrong dish. I got a dish for beginners. Chris got vindaloo, which was much more flavorful. Garlic naan was devoured before it even hit the table.

I absolutely loved the rice. It was fragrant and flavorful. I could just order a huge bowl of rice and be fulfilled by that.

The website says that there was outdoor seating, but we weren’t offered any and I didn’t see a space for it. Could have been under construction or something though because we saw some scaffolding.

On the whole, it was a decent enough place, but I don’t think that I’d go back to dinner. It’s a bit pricey. They do have a buffet style lunch that I saw when we were making reservations. That might be better for your money.

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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This photo was taken on Newberry Street. I found it an interesting juxtaposition. American’s are made fun of because of our big SUV’s and yet we also drive some of the smallest cars. I’m not sure which make or model this one is, but I’m pretty sure it’s an e-vehicle of some sort. It looks like a Mommy car with its baby.

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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We were in Boston at a good time for the tulips. They had just recently bloomed and the day was overcast, so the flowers had a vibrant color to them. They weren’t washed out by the glare of the sun.

One funny thing about the gardens was that you weren’t allowed on the lawn. There were signs everywhere saying to keep off. Now, I don’t know about you, but isn’t part of the fun of going to central park being able to sit on the lawn and have a nice picnic? Guess they don’t believe the same thing here.

But then, I could understand why they didn’t want anybody on the lawns. There wouldn’t be any grass with the massive amounts of people there.

There were a bunch of street performers. One of them was rude and mean. He played the guitar and a kazoo. He looked like a serial killer.

This is my favorite photo of the tulips.

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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Stephanie’s on Newberry is a self-important overpriced restaurant that I would never go back to again. At first glance, they look to be a lovely restaurant with outdoor seating. It’s situated in the middle of Newberry where you can people watch. Or at least that’s the theory. In actuality, they will rush you the hell out of there as quicky as possible.

We made a reservation for outdoor seating, which was not available. We waited twenty minutes for our seats. The one that we did get was on a slant. It wouldn’t be noticeable except that your drink glasses had a tendency to want to walk off the table on it’s own. When it eventually happened and no one was fast enough the to catch it, the glass took a header off the edge, the staff looked at us in a disgusted fashion. No new water glass was offered nor any napkins to clean up with.

I was jammed up against the wall. We couldn’t push it out further because of fire regulations.

The food was subpar. They claim to serve “sophisticated comfort food”, but just because you throw truffle oil and saffron on a piece of poop, it does not make it divine. If I order a $20 meatloaf, I expect it to be mouthwateringly good. It tasted like an ashtray with puke as dressing. And the aftertaste of puke lingered long after the dinner was over.

Chris ordered the T-bone that came out hard as a rock and overcooked, the second one came out all grisly and chewy (no amount of chewing would soften it enough to swallow), and the third one came out completely raw. Chris finally ordered a half-chicken which was just as dry as chalk.

They then offered to give us free dessert except that we couldn’t pick. We were going to order chocolate cake and a few other things, but they gave us the cheapest thing on the menu. We ended up ordering the dessert we wanted anyway, which we paid for. The dessert they offered was left half eaten.

There were four of us at nearly $30 a plate, plus appetizer, wine and several desserts, this check was more than $200 and yet we were treated as though we were tabacco chewing hicks.

They kept asking us if we were done at each portion of the meal when clearly only half the food had been consumed. I have never felt like I needed to gobble down my food. Never at any other restaurant.

There are plent of other restaurants with outdoor dining on Newberry that you could get a better experience at a cheaper restaurant.

I’d say save your money and go elsewhere.

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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There’s a section in Boston Commons that has a ton of squirrels. Two people were feeding them peanuts, which allowed me to take some of these awesome photos.

The squirrels wouldn’t actually take the peanuts out of their hands, but they got within about two feet or so. The woman threw a peanut and bonked one in the head on accident. The squirrel didn’t even flinch. It just picked up the peanut and started chewing.

I once read that squirrels didn’t have much of a memory. They forget where they’ve buried their nuts five seconds after they’ve buried it. They do have a great sense of smell though, and so they sniff out the nuts they would need for winter. Whether it’s a nut that they buried or another squirrel buried, they have no idea. I guess it’s a good thing since nobody would know that their stuff was stolen.

I got lucky with this photo. Two squirrels were squabbling in the tree and then one of them popped into the hole. It poked its head out once, I caught this photo and it did not come out no more!

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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Here are a couple of photos from my window at the Marriott Copley.

I think during the Boston 2004 Worldcon, I stayed at the Sheraton because I distinctly remember being at the other side of the mall. You know that mall that was connected to the convention center and the hotels. I remember because of the long trek to the other side of the mall to go to California Pizza Kitchen.

A kind of funny thing happened while we were there. At lunch, I saw that Chris’ Dad had a name tag on his shirt and he had some pamphlets. I asked what that was all about and he said that there was a medical conference going on at the hotel. It was sheer coincidence that we were there. So he signed up then and there and went to a few panels/discussions. He told me about them, but I’ve forgotten what they were.

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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Because of my work schedule, I couldn’t get to Boston until after 8, but we went to dinner anyway. Chris’ dad had made reservations to Atlantic Fish, which is a restaurant near the hotel on Boylston Street. We had a nice stroll down there for dinner.

Since I was in Boston, I was determined to have clam chowder. I love clam chowder, but I don’t usually get it because it’s a creamy soup. And it came in a bread bowl, so I couldn’t resist. It was so good that I slurped it up like a giant cup of red Icee. Even though it wasn’t a dinner portion of soup, I was quite satisfied with my meal. I highly recommend.

Chris got the fish and chips, which he normally loves, but found it a little lacking. The fish part of that meal is usually a large piece of fish that they batter and deep fry. But the one at Atlantic Fish are little pieces that ate battered and fried. The problem with this is that it ends up being more batter than fish. Chris was highly unimpressed.

For dessert, we got the peanut butter ice cream pie because the waitress said that it was delicious. She lied. It was vanilla ice cream with broken pieces of Reese’s peanut butter cups. I can get that at Dairy Queen for half the price.

I would definitely go back and get the clam chowder again. They say it’s won awards, but I really don’t care about that. It was super yummy. Quite definitely the best that I’d ever had.

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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Welcome to August, which I have designated Boston Month! Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday there will be a post about Boston, what we did, where we ate, what we saw. Some will be short, some will be long, but by the time August is over, you’ll be sick of Boston.

Back in May, we went to Boston for the Little Sister’s graduation. We stayed at the Marriott Copley, which is at the other side of the mall from the Worldcon in Boston several years ago. Luckily, we didn’t eat at California Pizza Kitchen the whole time again.

And speaking of the SFnal world, I saw Susan Groppi sitting in my hotel lobby! I thought what a coincidence that was. She was there for another graduation. But unfortunately, our schedules didn’t mesh up enough to spend any time together. Boo!

I did manage to get in touch with a Clarion Classmate (Carla), who seemed to be doing well.

While in Boston, we ate at Stephanie’s on Newberry, Kashmir, Atlantic Fish, and Sonsie’s. We went to the New England Aquarium, did the duck tour and, of course, went to the Boston College graduation.

So starting Monday, you will get to read about my trip! Enjoy!

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

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