Boston Blog Posts
The Christian Science Plaza
The Christian Science Plaza in Boston is a beautiful place to walk around or to sit and enjoy the sights and sounds of Boston. From the east side of the plaza, you have an excellent view of the Prudential Tower and surrounding buildings.
If your visiting Boston in January, you can still get nice pictures of the Boston Skyline with the winter blue sky. You don't need to have water in the reflection pool to appreciate the architecture of the City of Boston.
The best time to take pictures at the reflection pool is in the afternoon. That's when the sun will shine on the right side of the Prudential Tower.
The Reflection Pool at the Christian Science Center is 670 foot long. Compare that to the famous Lincoln Memorial Reflection Pool, in Washington DC, which is 2,029 feet long.
The water in the pool usually drains in the middle of November. The water comes back a couple of weeks after opening day at Fenway Park (around mid-April). It usually takes about 4 hours to fill up the reflection pool.
The Christian Science Plaza will not publicly announce when they plan to empty or fill up the pool. (This seems like a missed opportunity.) If you're visiting Boston in November or April, you never know if the pool is going to change. It's worth stopping by to see to see the difference the plaza is with and without water.
Like most reflection pools, there is no swimming allowed. Last year, the management allowed people put in remote control sail boats in the pool. It's kind of cool to see the boat going back and forth, and then trying to figure out who is controlling it. (Tip: Usually the person near a big duffle bag which is used to carry the boat.)
On hot summer days children can cool off at the water fountain. The fountain is running every day when the temperature is above 50 degrees. Just before the fountain is shut off for the season they run the water at full blast, this causes a lot of steam which causes a nice effect.
If you do bring your children, you can treat them to come cool ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery on the other side of Belvedere Street.
Christian Science Plaza
Be sure to visit other sites around the plaza. Check out the gardens near the reflection pool and the trees around the plaza. There's lots of weekly activities at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, including the historical Mapparium.
Skitch and Evernote
If your looking for a productive Macintosh screen capture tool, I highly recommend checking at Skitch by Evernote. This is a free tool that works very well with your existing Evernote account. You don't need Evernote to use Skitch, but they work so well together, why wouldn't you?
Use an existing image or capture a new one, then add shapes, write on it, draw on it, annotate it any way you like, and save it to your Evernote account so that it is available everywhere Evernote is.
Evernote is a notes application designed to help you stay organized that goes far beyond what you'd typically think of as a notebook. You can add text, images, audio, scanned documents, files, and more to your notebook, synchronize everything across all of your devices in Evernote's beautiful, free apps, and then quickly find anything with powerful search that can even recognize text inside your files and images.
Your Screen Capture on Steroids
The key thing to remember is you can "quickly find anything with powerful search." This means that when you use Skitch and save the screenshot in your Evernote account, you can search for text that is in your screen shot.
That's the power of Evernote and Skitch.
Skitch has all the image annotation that you come to expect from a screen capture tool. You can add arrows, Text, Shapes, Highlights, predefine stamps, Pixelate, and crop images. You can easily export the image out of Skitch so that you can add it to a Jira issue.
The good thing about Skitch is that it will create a notebook to store all the images, so the screenshots won't clutter up your default Evernote notebook. In addition, you can manage the notebook how you want, so if you don't want the files, simply delete them. You can tag the notes so that you can find them even easier.
I have plenty of space in my Upload Allowance.
Image/Shape Library - This would be a personal library of shapes and images that users could add to the screenshot. Knowing the image was issue happen in Firefox or Chrome could add a lot of value to the screen shot.
Missed Boston Area Resturants
This was a tricky list to put together. It really made me think of all the various restaurants that I visited in the Boston Area over the years and which ones that I would want to go back to.
Today's post is all about three restaurants that I wish were still open and get one last meal. I had to think really hard of places that are no longer open that I would like to eat at again. The criteria for this list is simple; the location must be in the Boston area, closed for at least 5 years and a place where I ate their many times.
So here's my list:
- Thompson's Clam Bar (Harwichport) - "Best Seafood Experience"
- The European Restaurant (North End) - "Yummy Pizza"
- The Tasty (Harvard Square) - "Best Hot Dog"
Thompson's Clam Bar
Location: Wychmere Harbor, Harwich Port
Ah I can still remember hearing something like this over the loud speaker:
"Miles, Miles party of seven your table is ready. Go down the stairs and down the dock and see the waitress name Nancy. Miles Party of seven."
Then there is the classic radio commercial:
"Hey, Where are you going... I am going where the tasty clams are...Thompson's... Where? Thompson's Clam bar, it's where the tastes clams are...come by boat, come by car, come the way you are. Thompson's Clam Bar in Harwichport"
Here's one version of the famous New England Commercial:
This was the place to go if you wanted fine seafood by the sea. It would be cool to see boats that would pull up to the pier by your table and see people get out just to get some excellent New England Cooking.
When I was little my family use to go at least once every summer as part of our summer tradition. It was fun to sit and watch the boats go by. At the time we were members of the Yacht Club, which was on the other side of the channel, and we would look over to see what was going on at the club while we were eating.
I remembered that they had a great mix of rice crackers on the waiting tables on the patio. (Basically bar snack food) I remember them tasting really great and they weren't too spicy. For years, every time I would see a similar pack of Rice crackers in the grocery store I would buy it wishing it would be the same. I never found one that had the same taste.
The last time you could get fried clams at Thompson's Clam Bar was Labor Day Weekend in 1995.
The European Restaurant
Location: Handover Street, Boston Massachusetts. (North End)
This was a great go to restaurant in the North End. I remember my Dad would park the car under the causeway and we would walk over to Hanover Street and to the European. It would be an awesome treat.
The pizza was good and I remember some of the decorations around the restaurant. I remember the back room had a tall ceiling and their were lots of tables. I believe that they had family seating similar to Durgin-Park.
We didn't make it an annual tradition, but if we were going to get a bite to eat in Boston it would be at the European.
After we left the restaurant we would head over to Mike's Pastry and some awesome deserts. That is if we were still hungry from eating the large Italian Pizza.
The Aprile's European Restaurant in Chelmsford is supposed to be the modern version of the fine food served at 'The European.' I haven't been there to try it out, might be worth the drive to check it out.
For over 80 years, The European was an institution in Boston's North End. Now Eddie Aprile has brought back the recipes and the spirit of the European to North Chelmsford. Located in a historic brick millhouse, Aprile's European Restaurant has a comfortable, yet elegant atmosphere while that serves rustic Italian cuisine. Come join us for lunch, dinner, at the bar, or to book your private event.
The The European Restaurant open in 1920 and served it's last pizza on January 7, 1997. Today CVS occupies the space that was the historic European.
Location: 1 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge Ma (Harvard Square)
Nothing like getting a cheap hot dog for lunch in Harvard Square. The Tasty was a very small diner where people could get a quick hamburger or hot dog. They were very well known for their hot dogs and very small counter that surrounded the kitchen.
When I was working in Harvard Square for a few years, I would intentionally take later lunch breaks so I didn't have to wait to get a seat. I remember many times sitting up on the counter at lunch time and asking for 2 hot dogs and a coke with fries.
Don't remember much of the fries, but I do recall that the hot dogs were very good and snap when you bite in to them. They would have about 10-15 hot dogs on the warm part of the grill and would move the hot dogs to the hot burner as soon as you place your order.
It was kind of cool to just sit at the counter and listen to people talk to the cook about what's going on in their world. Since it was Harvard Square, you never know who would be sitting next to you. Would it be some famous Professor, future lawyer or even a future President.
Federico Muchnik did a film of the history of the Tasty:
'The Tasty' served it last hot dog in November 1997. (It was in business for 81 years.)
How did I do?
Do you know any places that I might have forgotten about that should be included? Let me know, send me an email or catch me on Twitter.
Levenger Leaves Boston
Levenger was found in Belmont, Massachusetts in the suburbs of Boston. They had their first retail street the Prudential Shops in 2004.
Sales must have gone down recently as the Boston retail store never reopened after closing this past Christmas. They didn't make any mention of the store closure on their website or on Twitter. You would only know by visiting store and seeing the paper covering the windows.
This is the second flagship store to close - in 2011 they closed the Town Center Mall in Boca Raton. They now only have stores in Chicago and Washington DC.
Since I frequently buy from them I get their email advertising with all the hot deals. This week I noticed that the Boston retail store was removed from in all post Christmas advertising.
The store closing can't be too much of a surprise to anyone who regularly shop there. When I went to buy some Circa paper for Christmas I noticed that the store had a lot of space. It wasn't missing inventory, just like look very open. Specifically, they weren't displaying as much furniture as they did before. When I was shopping, I didn't think anything of the lack of shoppers or inventory. Perhaps I should have asked about it.
Hopefully Levenger hasn't given up on the Boston market and open up a new store soon. In the meantime, I'll be buying my Circa paper from their website.
Today's post is about Santa Claus at The Shops at Prudential Center in Boston. This seems an appropriate topic for a Christmas Eve posting.
Last weekend we stopped at the Prudential Shops to look at some of the Christmas decorations, grab an early dinner at Five Napkin, and then see Santa Claus.
I was thinking that it would be risky to see Santa Claus on the Sunday before Christmas, clearly there would be a long wait. To our surprise it wasn't busy. We only waited for about 15 minutes. Which wasn't bad for a 4pm visit.
What made this even better is that Santa Claus took plenty of time with each child so they could let him know what they want for Christmas. For some kids he did it before the photo opportunity, and for others it was afterwards. It was awesome to see that they didn't rush through the whole photo process.
Around the same time, one of my friends posted on Facebook on the long waiting at the Natick Mall. I was very happy that we didn't choose to do that. We did visit the Natick Mall Santa, and actually thought the santa photo packages were cheaper in Boston
So if your looking for something to do on December 18, 2016 how about heading to the Prudential Mall and doing some last minute shopping. You can park at the Prudential for $15 all day, with validation, and walk around the Mall and then take a stroll down Newbury street. Your best bet for parking validation is at one of the restaurants in the mall, including 5 Napkin.
The lights and window displays on Newbury street are absolutely beautiful this time of the year, and certainly will make everyone appreciate the Christmas Season.
Peppa Pig Live
We sat in the middle section of the upstairs balcony.
Some notes and observances on the show:
- Very surprised to see Peppa Pig as a puppet on wheels. I thought all the characters would be like Daddy Pig and be someone in costume.
- They spent a lot of time singing which is quite different than the actual show.
- It was good that they got some crowd interactions
- They had a place where you could take picture by a Peppa Pig sign, but it was too close to the entrance. Most people missed it due to the large crowds coming in.
- Wasn't sure if photography was allowed. I got stop carrying in a camera but the security guy wasn't clear about the rules. I did see people taking pictures and some video of the show.
- Most people arrived about 20 minutes to show time.
- Most of kids didn't sit too well after the intermission break. I was looking around after the intermission and could clearly tell that kids we not into it anymore.
Some observations on the Orpheum Theatre
- The Orpheum is an old theater and the seats in the balcony seemed pretty old and a bit uncomfortable.
- If you do attend something at the Orpheum, arrive early for a good experience. The main entrance is small and can get very crowded very quickly. Arrive early and get a drink and snack before the show!
- Not a great place for kid shows. Couple of reasons:
- The seats in the upstairs balcony didn't have enough height differential between rows. So if an Adult sat in front of a kid, the kid would have move his head just to see the show.
- After the show got over, it took a long time to get out of the theater. I can't imagine what it would be like if they needed to evacuate the theater in an emergency.
- I thought it was weird that they had beer and wine for sale. (You could buy a bottle of wine for $35)
- They could have been created a special pink juice drink for kids and named it the Peppa Splash or something.
- We parked at the Boston Commons garage as most people did. This is the cheapest parking near the theater, only $16 on a Sunday. It's about a 10 minute walk to the theater.
We had a good time and My daughter liked the show, and that's all the really matters. However, given the choice of a Peppa Pig and and Disney on Ice, I think she may want to see Disney on Ice.
Public Bathrooms of the Back bayI remember when I was a teenager and we visited the Waikiki Shopping Plaza in Hawaii. They had an automated kiosk that would help customers in the mall, if you pressed the bathroom button you would hear a lady singing:
You can travel here and there
You can travel everywhere
there's no place like Hawaii...
..and when you have to go... you have to go...
the bathroom are upstairs to your right...
Today's post about bathroom seems a bit ridiculous until you need a place to go. These are some of the places that you can find a bathroom if you need to go. You can find restrooms in all the restaurants in Boston, but if you need a quick place to go, here are three public facilities that have bathrooms:
Back Bay Station
Located on 145 Dartmouth Street Boston, MA, the Back Bay T Station is the third most popular MBTA station in Boston. The station serves the Orange Line and the Commuter Rail for many trains that depart or arrive at South Station. The bathrooms is right near the ticket area at street level.
While the bathrooms may not be super clean, they are in better shape than any facility you'll would find on a train. Definitely worth stopping in before getting on the train.
The Prudential Mall, officially called the 'The Shops at Prudential Center' is located at the base of the Prudential tower. The best entrance to get to the bathrooms would be Huntington Ave entrance near Shaws.
The Prudential Mall is currently undergoing some major changes and the bathrooms are in a different location than you may be used to. The bathrooms are now located near Levenger in the 'Back Bay Arcade' wing. The mall does a good job keeping the bathrooms nice and clean.
The bathrooms are usually accessible outside of the regular Mall hours since many people travel through the mall going to/from work.
Boston Public Library
The Boston Public Library is one of the nation's oldest public library. You can find some very nice art around the library. They have an impressive collection of Newspapers and Magazines in microfiche format.
Use the Boylston Street entrance and head downstairs as soon as you enter the staircase area. You'll see the bathroom signs at the bottom of the stairs.
I have found that these aren't the cleanest bathrooms in the Back Bay. The library tries to keep the place clean. However, they are popular with homeless as they spend much of the day in the library to keep warm or dry.
Boston's Magic 106.7 (WMJK) is a popular music station that is broadcast out Dorchester, Massachusetts. It has an adult contemporary format.
Things change right after Thanksgiving as they change format and only play Christmas music. Chances are if your driving to the Burlington Mall on a Saturday, many of the cars waiting for a parking spot has Magic 106.7 on. Every year at 6pm on Christmas Eve, they start playing commercial free Christmas Music until the 26th.
The Christmas Music tradition started back in the mid 1990s (I wasn't able to find the exact year.) It has generated a good fan base. Check out Robert Gillis website where he attempted to track all the songs they were playing on Christmas Eve in 2010. He put together a pretty cool spreadsheet of the music that they played.
A few years ago they put together a CD collection of their all time favorite Christmas music. It was quite a list and for many years my Christmas Playlist. I really liked it when every once in a while they would add, "This is Magic 106.7." It's really cool when your listening and your not in the Boston area.
They don't put out a CD anymore, and perhaps you can find a copy at a used music store. This is the CD music list from when I imported it into iTunes back in 2007. (I don't know why the name of the artists don't show up in all of the listings.)
|Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree||2:05||The Magic Of Christmas||Brenda Lee||12/20/07, 10:13 PM|
|Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer||3:31||The Magic Of Christmas||Elmo & Patsy||12/20/07, 10:13 PM|
|Jingle Bell Rock||2:22||The Magic Of Christmas||Various Artists||12/20/07, 10:12 PM|
|Sleigh Ride||3:02||The Magic Of Christmas||Various Artists||12/20/07, 10:12 PM|
|The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year||2:17||The Magic Of Christmas||Various Artists||12/20/07, 10:13 PM|
|Linus & Lucy||3:05||The Magic Of Christmas||Vince Guaraldi||12/20/07, 10:13 PM|
|The Chimney Song||2:12||The Magic Of Christmas||Various Artists||12/20/07, 10:13 PM|
|Feliz Navidad||3:06||The Magic Of Christmas||Various Artists||12/20/07, 10:13 PM|
|Mary's Boy Child||5:10||The Magic Of Christmas||Various Artists||12/20/07, 10:14 PM|
|Silver Bells||3:34||The Magic Of Christmas||Kate Smith||12/20/07, 10:14 PM|
|Carol Of The Bells||3:43||The Magic Of Christmas||Various Artists||12/20/07, 10:14 PM|
|Hark The Herald Angels Sing||3:32||The Magic Of Christmas||Various Artists||12/20/07, 10:15 PM|
|Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas||4:46||The Magic Of Christmas||Various Artists||12/20/07, 10:15 PM|
Boston is a fun shopping town and there's nothing like browsing around various stores at Faneuil Hall Marketplace at Christmas time. You can find all sorts of unique gifts for people that are hard to shop for.
Faneuil Hall is also well known for it wide selection of foods from various counter restaurants in the Main hall to various sit down restaurants in the area. If you want to try something new this is the place to go.
If your looking for a good Celiac friendly restaurant, your best bet the same place your grand parents might have eaten at - Durgin Park. This is local favorite with a unique atmosphere and a menu that hasn't changed much since George Washington stopped by.
Historic Durgin Park, one of the oldest Boston restaurants, has served traditional New England home cooking near Faneuil Market for almost 200 years. Durgin Park "established before you were born." Features New England specialties such as prime rib, delicious steak and chops and a variety of fresh seafood. Other favorites include Indian pudding, corn bread, Yankee pot roast and strawberry shortcake.
Recently I stopped in with my brother and had a great dinner. It's been a long time since we both stopped in. We enjoyed our traditional New England cuisine and the service was excellent.
As we were leaving, I inquired if the restaurant had any Gluten-free options for my daughter. I was very surprised to find out that they had a large Gluten-free menu that offered a lot of the same specials as their regular menu.
I did notice that they didn't have anything special for kids. The manager on duty did tell me that they would work with us to put together a dish that my daughter would love. They did have a Frankinster dish on the Gluten-free menu - which is basically a couple of Hot dogs grilled, baked beans and French fries. This is certainly a dish any kid would enjoy. Incidentally the baked beans were very yummy, I highly recommend this as a side dish to any meal.
The manager told me that the kitchen would make sure the meal was prepared in a separate part of the kitchen - this is to prevent cross contamination. He seemed very knowledgeable about concerns that people have about eating Gluten-free.
If you need to eat Gluten-free, you don't have to miss out on going to one of oldest restaurants in the country. Next time your in Boston try Durgin Park. I highly recommend it.
While sitting in a nice air condition office, the MBTA kindly let's me know how hot is is outside. On hot days, I get a text notifications about the delays on the Worcester/Framingham commuter rail train due to heat restrictions.
The longer the train delays means that it's pretty hot outside. It seems that most of the delays impact the early afternoon trains. Usually by 5pm the delays aren't as bad.
Heat restrictions are a problem only with the Worcester/Framingham line. This is because CSX used welded steel rail which can expand during high heat. To avoid any derailment, trains have to go slow.
You can join in on the MBTA weather fun by signing up to the MBTA T-Alerts on their website. It's a handy notification to have when you need to know ab
Logan Airport Cell Phone Parking lot Overflow
My frustration with finding the overflow cellphone parking lot at Boston's Logan International airport is the reason for today's post.
The overflow cellphone parking lot is located right next to the car rental return location. Simply follow the signs for car rental returns and just before you get to the return area you'll see a white sidewalk sign for the Cell Phone overflow waiting lot. The "official" street address is Tomahawk Dr, Boston, MA 02128, while waited I pinned my location on Google Map.
In fact, if your coming in from the Massachusetts Turnpike, it's much easier to get to this lot than to the regular lot. Not only that, it's much quicker to get to the terminals than from the regular cellphone parking lot. This means you don't have to deal with much airport traffic to get to the terminals .
If the person you are waiting for doesn't have any checked baggage, it takes roughly 30 minutes from when the plane touches down to when they walk through the departure doors. This depends on how busy the plane is. I would estimate about another 20 minutes if they have any checked luggage.
The passenger car arrival area at Terminal C, is very crowded and the car area waiting for passengers is very small. Boston Police strictly enforce the no standing policy and keep pushing cars to move on. Your best bet is to wait until your passengers have gotten off the plane before getting to the gate. If you arrive too early, you may have to move out of waiting area, and getting back isn't fun.
If you do arrive at the terminal early, be friendly with the Boston Police. I am sure they appreciate some humor in their crazy day. Just watch them for a few minutes and be happy that they aren't in your weekly FitBit challenge.
I hope my simple Logan Airport tips help you have a great uneventful pickup experience.
Boston Science Museum
This past weekend we visited the Boston Science Museum to see the Pixar exhibit and a Planetarium show. This was my first visit to the museum for my 4.5 year old daughter. We also visited during the 4th of July activities around the esplanade.
The museum had shorter hours on the fourth of July and that's due to all the activities that the museum does to watch the fireworks. The celebration is a pretty big deal, and getting tickets to the show is very hard to do. The museum didn't seem that busy as there was only about 20 people at the 10:30 planetarium show.
We saw the "Big Bird's Adventure: One World, One Sky" show at the Planetarium. My daughter love the show and interacted with the show all the way through. We felt the show focus too much on speaking Chinese than learning about the planet's. It was a fun experience for daughter and she had a great time.
We next visited the traveling Pixar exhibit. It was a great exhibit to learn all the technology that goes into making a Pixar movie. My daughter loved the interactions with making shapes and models. It was fun for her to take pictures of some of the Pixar characters. At the end of the exhibit, there was a store where you could buy Pixar merchandise, much like any Disney ride. Just like Disney, the merchandise was way over price. It was a great exhibit to learn about all the attention to detail that goes into making every movie.
We brought our own lunch, since we weren't sure that any of the food options would Celiac friendly and be something that my daughter would like. (Not many places have Gluten-free Mac & Cheese) It was very easy to run back to the car and get the lunch bag. However, I didn't need to since their are lockers just inside the main entrance.
The exhibit hall was a fun place for my daughter to run around and have fun. She ran from one exhibit to another eager to explore something different. She had a lot of fun at the lighting show and she covered her ears so they wouldn't hurt. She told me that the lighting was much louder that the fireworks she saw the night before.
It was a fun visit to the museum. We are now members so we'll be going back again and again to explore and learn a lot more about science.
Section 5 in Fenway Park
If your going to Fenway Park and have seats in Grandstand 5 (rows 5 to 12), don't worry about rushing to your seats. You could possibly be in one of the worst seating areas in Fenway park.
All the seats in the section are facing the bleachers. You have a direct view of the Giant Glass sign than home plate. In order to see home plate you have to look well left and hope the guy next isn't leaning forward otherwise you'll be having to look over their back to see the game.
In addition, some of the seats have obstructed views of the pitching mound so you can't see the delivery. These are not classified as obstructed view seats since you can still see home plate.
The Red Sox try to make up for the inconvenience s by installing flat screen TVs overhead so that you can see what's going on. However, the video isn't in real time. You get a 5 second delay of the action on the field. This makes it a weird experience when the crowd roars and on the TV the pitcher hasn't thrown the ball yet.
There are some positive things about the location. The seats are under an overhanging so you won't get wet on rainy days. It's also near the busy grandstand food concourse, which has a lot of food options some of which isn't available elsewhere in Fenway Park. You are also sitting near the kids play area.
My advice is to sit in the seats for a couple of innings and then move to a standing area someplace closer to home plate to actually enjoy the game. You'll do your neck a big favor and you'll enjoy watching the game.
Duck Pond on Botolph Street
Some of the Boston brownstone home owners in the Back Bay have a great sense of humor. You can see it various times of the year with unique Christmas lights, awesome winter parking space savers and creative yard design. I think they do some of this to amuse some of the commuters that walk through their neighborhood.
On St. Botolph Street, one of the home owners has a little pond in the front of the house. For most of the year they have the water running and place rubber ducks and frogs around the pond. It's very cute. In the Winter time they stick candy canes in the ground around the small pond.
You can find the pond at 65 St. Botolph Street, about a 1/2 block from the Inn at St Botolph. It's not one of the "must see" tourist attractions, but just something unique to discover how Bostonians make their neighborhood special. While your in the neighborhood you should check out the SW Corridor Path.
The SW Corridor Path is an public walkway that is above the Orange Line. There's lots of seasonal flowers, dog park and a playground for the kids. In addition you'll get some really good photo opportunities of the Prudential and John Hancock buildings.
National Weatherperson's Day
National Weatherperson's Day, also known as National Weatherman's Day, is observed on February 5 primarily in the United States. It recognizes individuals in the fields of meteorology, weather forecasting and broadcast meteorology, as well as volunteer storm spotters and observers. It is observed on the birthday of John Jeffries, one of the United States' first weather observers who took daily measurements starting in 1774.
In the Boston Market the chief Meteorologists are Harvey Leonard - WCVB-TV, - Eric Fisher - WBZ, Pete Bouchard - WHDH and Pete Bouchard - WFXT
This year's National Weatherperson's Day is on February 5th, 2015.