Friday, June 27, 2014

Boston Central Library...and more

I had heard about the Boston Central Library located downtown, across from Copley Square.

BPL has 26 sites around the city area.

First I noticed there were no lions out front, guarding the entrance.

A few steps inside, I saw the Library Cats, posed and poised at the top of the stairs in back-lighted serenity.

What a beautiful scene.

Arriving late in the day, I knew it closed at 5 pm so I hurried around the place.

Wanted to visit each floor and carry away vivid memories of this impressive  BPL flagship.
The Main Reading room was huge.

The towering ceiling, the rows and rows of green-shaded lamps at all the tables.

And comfortable chairs that encourage lengthy marathon reading sessions.

The Central library has 64 computers for use by the public.

It also is a wireless hotspot for myriad cellphones, tablets and laptops.

Oh yeah, and plenty of printed books.
So, despite the lack of "traditional" lions out front, it was an excellent stop on my return tour of Boston.

Apparently  the 44th annual Gay Pride Parade and Festival was set for the next weekend

That would help explain why so many flags and banners in support of the LGBT community were visible flying proudly all over town.

As the link says, the parade included 25,000 marchers in 200 different groups.

The Massachusetts Governor and the Boston Mayor led the parade.
Just half a block off the famed Freedom Trail in Boston, close to Faneuil Hall, is the New England Holocaust Memorial.

Strong. Very moving.

The six glass towers represent the six death camps.

As you walk a path through the towers, you see numbers etched in white on the tinted glass, identifying numbers that had been assigned to victims.

The link gives more precise directions and names the four streets that form a square around it.

 Walking along the Freedom Trail, the self-guide tour through American history, you pass many delightful sights.

I try to compose with a contrast of the very old and the new.

In this particular picture, I maneuvered around for the best possible angle.

Naturally I had to step in the way of traffic a few times but I was careful and waited until there was a break in the flow.

Despite all my efforts though, a tri-color traffic light was impossible to exclude.

If I adjusted for it, I picked up signs and other visual interruptions.

 Even a person from Boston now probably would not see where it "really was" before I Photoshopped it out of the way.

By the Visitors Center on the Commons, I overheard a tour guide say there were four competing companies with narrated walking tours.

Hmmmm. On my smartphone, I could trace the Trail map and read the salient historic points all along "The Trail."

I spotted this tour guide resting on a bench, looking at HIS cellphone.

Maybe he was sizing up the competition? On "ye olde smartphone."

Or playing "Angry Birds."

I did not stop and ask him.

Later, over in Cambridge, I paused at the entrance to Harvard.

Across the street, there was another competition going.

Chess battles.

Multiple tables, timers, seating and lots of standing room for onlookers.

I suspect money passed hands as winners "beat the clock" and won.

Now, if it had been checkers...I still would have lost.

These were serious players.

Walking up a steep hill on the "Trail"on the way to Bunker Hill,  I noticed the "skinny house" at 44 Hull Street.

Actually I had read about it but didn't spot it at first.

Knowing the street number helped me locate Boston's "narrowest house."

It really did look like an addition but then I spotted the "front door" on the left side of the 4-story home.

The link will give you "the rest of the story" of the house built in 1862.

Yes, it was constructed by a noted shipbuilder and measures 10.4 feet at its widest - on the outside.

Inside, it's 9 and a half feet from wall to wall.

In ship talk, that would be "the beam."
The nearby Leonard P. Zakim bridge,
known locally as the Bunker Hill Bridge. is a very visible product of the Big Dig.

That gigantic  project drastically improved traffic flow, reduced congestion and  reunited downtown Boston with the waterfront.

The link quotes many engineering studies that went into the design of the distinctive two pylon cable-stayed structure.

It links downtown with the "Tip" O'Neill Tunnel, scooting traffic in and out.

No studies factored in my using a fisheye lens effect to bend and warp the bridge image into all sorts of impossible
angles and curves..

Looks like a a giant wishbone. Make a wish?

I did see a marketing principle at a tavern dating back to the 1700s.

The large pull on the draft no doubt presented a truism for bars and selling beer and ales.

I'm just a bit disappointed it was not being used to pour a Samuel Adams Seasonal.

Local brewer. And Patriot.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

So, my stay in Beantown involved history, engineering, monuments, libraries, chess, gay pride, shipbuilding and selling more beer.

Did I mention I love lobster rolls?

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Entertainment...New York City Style!

Entertainment means different things to different people.

I am a big "live music" fan and like to seek out quality sounds in a great acoustic venue.

During my recent short visit to New York, I had an array of sights and sounds so here's a sampler.

Think about these as you plan your next trip to "The City That Never Sleeps."

This was  Arturo's in the Village,a neighborhood pizza place - with a live Jazz trio - just a short subway ride from my lower Manhattan hotel.
But, the ultimate sound, the best acoustics EVER, in a large venue would have to be Radio City Music Hall.

I still recall sitting there back in my high school days, goose-bumpley enthralled by the building sounds of Ravel's Bolero. Wow.

Those hidden entrances that are spaced along each side had more musicians appear as the sound continued to rise.

Of course, back then in the 1950s, the Music Hall was only 24 years old.

Opened in 1932, it was built to offer a way for Depression people to enjoy some uplifting joy and music.

Vaudeville acts, live bands and a movie would fill the a reasonable price.

I had no idea that it could hold 5,000 people and was filled night after night.

On a tour, the guide seated us high in the 3rd balcony and we could hear the footsteps of a man who walked across the stage. Fantastic acoustics engineered and built by design. And, not a bad seat in the house!

Right around the corner is Broadway and the famed Times Square, from 42nd to 45th streets.

Back in the 1950s, I don't think I was allowed to make a stop here.

Not the sort of place a teenager from South Carolina would be expected to visit.

It has REALLY changed since then and is quite a visual light show - even during the day.

Later I would see it all bright and shiny lighted up at night as I left a Broadway show. Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Neil Patrick Harris had blasted it outta the park with an instant Broadway hit.

This was on top of his great long television run on the hugely popular "How I Met Your Mother" series that recently came to an end.

Not bad for the former very, very young Doogie Howser, M.D. 

I had just exited the early taping of the Late Show with David Letterman at the Ed Sullivan Theater - about 14 blocks away - and managed to snap a few daytime shots as I hurried up Broadway.

The crowd was still milling around outside so I knew I had made it in time.

Needless to say, this was another situation where cameras were not allowed.

With the proliferation of photos taken with cell phones, they were not popular either with the stern ushers who reminded us of the No Photos policy.

I obeyed and later found this picture online from the Emmys show a few weeks ago.

I can attest that it's the same outfit he wore onstage the night I sat in the 5th row.

Toward the end of the 97-minute blockbuster show, a man with a cellphone camera was quietly escorted out of the theater by two ushers.

He should have waited and taped a rerun of the Emmys where NPH won his acting award.

I did and therefore, was able to stay until the end.

Spoiler alert: his costume was more brief by that time.

Another entertaining feature of my New York visit was seeing the Prius painted as NY police cars.

Nothing against the compact fuel-efficient import, but I'm thinking a squad car should be bigger and badder. High speed chase cruisers.

The classic, big, Ford Crown Vic.

Oh, then I looked closer and saw these smaller vehicles were with the Traffic Division. Never mind.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Instead of speeding fast, a Prius could hang behind until the bad guy stopped for gas.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Theater time in the Big Apple...

After 30 years at NBC and CBS, David Letterman announced he would retire.

Assuming tickets would now be REALLY hard to get, I didn't have much hope for this recent trip to NYC.

Well, it helps if you start two months before you head up there.

Was told IF selected, would hear back with a phone call and a trivia question about Dave and the show.

They want real fans in those seats. Got the call the day before we flew.

Showed up at 3:30 pm, were handed tickets and told to come back at 4:50 pm and stand in the blue roped area out front.

We were going to be part of the audience for the show that taped  around 6 pm to 7 pm!

A warm-up guy herded all 250 of us into the lobby of the Ed Sullivan theater and prepped us with jokes and one-liners to make sure we were the best audience ever.
"There is no laugh track. 

"You make the show a success with your enthusiasm and laughter."

"You can smile at home if you think something is funny. But here, we want to hear you having a good time."

Being seated on the ground floor - instead of the balcony - was some sort of formula they use.

Fourth row on the aisle was a lucky break, purely by chance!

*These photos were snapped from the tv screen while viewing the show the next evening. No cameras or cell phones were allowed inside.

Great sight lines. And sitting close when Dave came out to chat with us before the show and keep us warmed up in the chilly theater.

(Why is it so cold in there? Because that's how Dave wants it.)

When someone asked that question, Dave had an assistant take off her Late Show jacket and wrap it around the lady from Salt Lake City.

"Now, is everybody comfortable?" Dave asked laughingly.

So many people behind-the-scenes to make it go so smoothly. People seldom seen on camera.

The announcer Alan Kalter was the emcee who gave us tips on what to expect - and what was expected of us.

As Kalter promised, we had a great mini-concert by Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra.

The taping ended about 7:35 pm which made us scurry up crowded Broadway for 14 blocks to see Neil Patrick Harris in HEDWIG and the Angry Inch. 

The curtain was 8 pm, and we made it with about 10 minutes to spare.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

This was on Wednesday, fairly early on a weekday, and Broadway was mobbed, shoulder-to shoulder at some corners.

Maybe I don't want to be in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, June 15, 2014

NYC - Yankee Bridge Traffic....

 Just back from a quick mini-vacation up to Boston and New York.

Flew Delta to Boston non-stop. A few days later, came down to New York City on Amtrak and, after two days there, flew home non-stop.

Yes, no going through Atlanta.

 In Boston, after some days of sightseeing, took a ferry to the end of the Cape to spend the day in P-Town (Provincetown).

Walked my legs off in New York and, despite some cloudy weather, decided to cross over the Brooklyn Bridge. Lots of people do that. About 150,000 cars and pedestrians cross every day.

Just as on our Ravenel Bridge, there is a clear walking path for hikers and a separate space for bikers.

Divided by a white painted stripe.

Each lane has a symbol repeated often showing which lane is to be used by either one.

But, neither path by both.

These three young ladies did not speak English but the biker's bark was clear to anyone within 20 feet.

"Hey! Git outta da way," is what I heard as my camera captured the moment.

Thankfully, there was no impact and he continued his speedy pace down the bridge.

I had stopped a few moments before - well inside my lane - and snapped  a shot of cars racing along below us.

Obviously our bridge looks better than the Brooklyn Bridge, but then ours is only 9 years while this one was built in 1883. Yikes.

131 years old and counting, it had a solid feel on the wooden deck that covers the surface of the center span.

Naturally, as with all things open to the public, some feel the urge to add to the urban graffiti.

This is an interesting use of rivets.

I don't think that "Rosie" from WWII would have been amused.

People have attached small locks to parts of the bridge and thrown the key into the East River below.

This, I am told, symbolizes the love romantics have for each other.

As the clouds broke up briefly, we were treated to a view of the famed New York skyline.

Not hard at all to spot was the iconic Empire State building.

I know its companion, the Chrysler building, is huddled nearby in there too.

So, in addition to a 1.1 mile exercise walk, there is beautiful scenery as well.

Looking toward the New York end of the bridge, the new One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) is nearing completion. At 1776 feet high, it is the tallest building in America.

On the left as you head back to the city, Lady Liberty is easy to spot in the harbor.

Well, with binoculars perhaps.

My small easy-to-carry Canon sx260HS camera has an excellent 20x optical lens.

But I also cranked in digital zoom to make the lens effect even longer to gather this image.

You can even see the flame in her torch if you look closely.

Instead of taking the subway to a stop in Brooklyn and walking all the way back to New York, I started on the City side.

Up the sloping ramp leading to the bridge, I then walked a bit more than halfway across, snapped pictures, then returned.

I had no car to worry about. (A car in the City? Are you crazy?)

(Click on the photos for more details.)

I had interrupted a new 2-week crash diet for this trip and am pleased I regained only two pounds in an amazing place, surrounded by food of every description.

Well, sure I ate a slice of Pizza.

New York style.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, June 05, 2014

BIG...but becoming

The kitty looked but did NOT see any Kibble.

But, what a load of strange food!

Erm, actually, it's a lot of "healthy" food according to the Mayo Clinic Diet guidelines.

Some mentioned the Atkins Diet when I said I wanted to lose some weight and stay healthy.

I listened to my doctor who instead suggested I give this one a serious try.

He wanted me to be especially aware of my blood sugar figures. Had just received a "warning" that I was headed up - the wrong direction.

So I printed out the start-up diet menu and realized I had very few of the items suggested. Yikes.

Sweet rolls? Hmmm..not on the list.

Cheese crackers with peanut butter? Nope.

Trail Mix with M & M's?

You're kidding..not on the menu?

Had run out of potato chips and pretzels.

Hey, but I have eggs.

Eggs were all over the page of items to eat for the first two weeks.

Almost three times a day.

High in protein but no sugar.

I guess that's why it's the basis of the 2-week regimen they say could help me drop 20 pounds.

On the very first day I got to have toast!

Well, along with the two eggs that show up on my plate a lot.

The diet also has coffee or tea included so that would be the caffeine I suppose.

That was a single piece of plain toast.

Later, I read, butter can be added because it's better for you than margarine.


I started using light butter a while back, made with canola oil. Turns out, that's exactly what I want.

My butter has zero carbs but also zero proteins.

Next slice of toast is only three days away.
I knew spinach was a healthy food.

Apparently the doctors at Mayo agree.

I was thinking maybe making a large spinach salad, with a pile of croutons, a sliced hard-boiled egg, handful of walnuts, bacon bits and a tomato cut into hunks.

Oh, and a breaded chicken breast.

There's some healthy stuff in there
but I just reached for a can of spinach.

After I finished, I read the label and saw that a can has THREE servings. Who knew?

I have pictures of the dial on my bathroom scale on Day One and today's weigh-in.

I'm actually proud to document that, since Friday night, I have dropped 10 pounds!

(Click on the photos for delicious detail.)

Tomorrow's dinner is ALL the steak I want. YES!

I bought a Kansas City Strip steak to go with the pickles,celery and tomatoes.

And a cup of coffee.

Here's the menu for the 2-week intro portion Mayo calls "Lose It." 
After that, many more sensible choices called "Live It."

Labels: , , , , , ,