Boston Blog Posts
Sam Adams Brewery Tour
Recently I took the Boston's Sam Adams Brewery tour with my company's engineering team. Here are some notes about the tour if you are interested in doing it.
The brewery is accessable by the Orange Line, get off at the Stony Brook stop and walk a couple of blocks to the Samuel Adams Brewery. You'll see some signs along Amory Street pointing you to the right directions. (Take a left when you get out of the train station and head towards the traffic light, and look for the Sam Adams billboard pointing you to the way!)
The tour groups are large, I estimate that there were 30 people on the tour group. We basically went through three sections of the Sam Adams Brewery. You are allowed to take pictures on the tour.Section 1
In the first section you get some basic understanding what goes into making a beer. You will get to feel and smell raw hops and wheat. (Some people even tasted raw hops!) Your tour guide will explains all the different parts of the beer and why each ingredient is important to making their beer the best.Section 2
In the next room you get to see some of the large containers and barrels where the beer gets made. The tour guide will explain the step-by-step process of making each beer. While the tour guide is talking you may see some employees opening containers and barrels to perform daily functions. Note: The tours are given in the research and development area of Samuel Adams Brewery - you are not really seeing beer making process being done that will be distributed around Boston.Section 3
This is where most people are excited to try some of the beer. You get a 7oz plastic cup and a chance to sample 3 different types of beer. On my tour, we tasted Boston Lager, Summer Ale and Black Lager. When you get the first drink, the guide will explain all the ways to taste and see what makes Sam Adam's beer different. Some people in the tour were able to have more than one sample of the beer.Misc notes
- There were some children on the tour. I think it's probably not the best place to bring them since there's not a whole lot of excitement for them. (Kids don't get root beer or anything, and the one's I saw didn't look excited to be there.)
- When your tasting the beer, the tour guide will explain how you can get the famous Sam Adams glass at a discount. (Hint: It's available at a nearby bar.)
- The tours last about 45 minutes, with much of the time spent tasting the beer.
- After the tour is over, there is an "extra" tasting where you can sample a couple of "upcoming" beers. Let the Brewery know which one you like and why.
Using Disassociation to help Running
More training today for the 5k during lunch. I ran the longest duration of my training for the 5k. Yet I was able to run 20 seconds faster per mile than what I did on Wednesday. (Wasn't even trying to run that fast, was focusing on maintaining a pace!)
I found this article on Running Planet by Rick Morris, really help me stay focus.:
Imagine you are running a 10 mile loop. You are at mile 3 and you begin to feel fatigued. It starts to rain and you're feeling miserable. Off to the right is a nice warm café with fragrant, steaming coffee. Your conscious mind tells you that you would be much better off stopping your run and relaxing with a nice cup of hot Joe. So – your body reacts by becoming even more fatigued. That is the power of your brain. But you can use that power for good instead of for the dark side.
There are a number of techniques you can use to harness the power of your mind, including focus and positive thinking. Another is disassociation. There is a great legend you may have heard of involving Tibetan monks. According to this legend, a group of monks ran 300 miles in just 30 hours – a blistering pace of 6 minutes per mile. This story, as reported by an anthropologist, says that the monks performed this unworldly feat by fixating on a distant mountain peak and repeating a mantra with each stride. They disconnected their conscious minds from their body's physical demands and feelings of fatigue.
Read the whole article.
Having a really good running playlist also helps distract from wanting to slow down. Also part of my run goes along the Boston Marathon route, so there's a bit more inspiration.
Everyone have a playlist of music that they like to listen to when they workout. This is my list of carefully selected songs that put me in the right move to keep going. Many of these songs are available on iTunes or Amazon.com. Some of these came off of my 'Great Sports Rock & Jams' that I purchased about 10 years ago.
|Anything( feat. Sofia)||Sofia the First|
|Stand Up for the Champion||World Cup 2010 Anthems|
|This = Love||The Script|
|The Party Starts Now||Club Penguin|
|Twist Again||WKPE Recording|
|Ride Like the Wind||Christopher Cross|
|I'm Still Standing||Elton John|
|Bring It All BAck||S Club 7|
|All Star||Smash Mouth|
|LA Lakers Into||Oracle Boot Camp CD|
|Back in the High Life Again||Steve Winward|
|Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough||Michael Jackson|
|Theme From "Greatest American Hero"||Joey Scarbury|
|(I Wanna) Be Like Mike||Teknoe|
|I Like to Move It||Real 2 Real|
I'll keep adding to the list as I find more songs and/or get tired of listening to some of these over and over again.
Running paths in the Back Bay
If your looking to work out for the JPMorgan Corporate Challenge 5K and your in the Boston's Back Bay. There are some alternative running spot beside running along the Charles River. This is a useful tip for people that are looking for alternate running spots in Boston.
The main problem with running in the City is keeping the rhythm with all the street crossing. How can you maintain a good pace when you have to stop at intersections and wait to cross? Well there are a couple of really good solutions.
Back Bay Triangle ( 1.55 Mile)
Starting from the corner of Massachusetts Ave and Hunnington Ave, you run up to Bolyston Street and take a right, you continue all the way past the Boston Public Library take a right on to Dartmouth Street, then a left onto Hunnington Ave back to Massachusetts Ave. This triangle trip has the fewest number of major street crossing in Boston. You should be able to maintain a fairly constant pace for the duration of your workout.
You should consider this path if your looking for a long workout run. The good thing about this run is that 2 trips around is equivalent to a 5K! Which is a good way to measure your results.
Back Bay Gardens (1/2 Mile)
From the Back Bay station to Massachusetts Ave is a pedestrian-only walkway. This walkway parallels Huntington Ave and the worst that you'll encounter would be people with strollers.
The advantage of this route is that there's only one street crossing and there's not much traffic on the street, so you should maintain your pace. It's a good location for a run and to easily track your progress.
The other good reason to use this spot is that it isn't that crowded, so you don't have to worry about running around other people.
There's lots of other places to run in the city of Boston. I listed two places that I know of that are great for a lunch workout without getting too far from most of the businesses around the back bay.
Debt Validation LetterIn the coming weeks Massachusetts residences will be getting Debt Validation letters from various companies, such as Auto Finance companies. This is not a collection letter, but basically a letter of information that you are a customer of the debit that they hold. This is response to a new change in Massachusetts regulations.
Here's some more information:
The Massachusetts debt collection regulations require creditors to provide a validation notice. Under the amended regulations, creditors are now required to provide a debt validation notice, similar to that required under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The amended regulations require creditors, within five days of the initial communication in connection with the collection of a debt (defined as more than 30 days past due and owing), to provide the debtor or his or her attorney:
- the amount of the debt;
- the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
- a statement that unless the debtor, within 30 days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the creditor; and
- a statement that if the debtor notifies the creditor in writing within the 30-day period, that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the creditor will cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the creditor verifies the debt and provides the debtor or his attorney, by first class mail, the following:
- all documents, including electronic records or images, which bear the signature of the debtor and which concern the debt being collected;
- a ledger, account card, account statement copy or similar record, which reflects the date and amount of payments, credits, balances and charges;
- the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the collecting creditor; and
- ;a copy of any judgment against the debtor. Mass. Regs. Code tit. 940 § 7.08. The creditor must cease collection of the debt until it has made reasonable efforts to obtain and provide this information to the debtor.
Building confidence in running
Some advice that I found on running when you start to loose to confidence and not meeting goals. Some things to think about while your training for a 5k run:
Focus on achievable goals: Instead of setting a goal to run an in-month best time which may not be realistic right now, focus on a goal that is challenging yet realistic. For instance, to run a best time by the end of the month, you need to work on the back half of your race. So, set a goal of negative splitting your race. It is do-able and will set you up for fast racing later.
Recreate past successes: Go back, in your mind, to the last time when you were running well. Recall how you felt, what you said to yourself and how you focused when standing on the blocks getting ready to race. Try to recreate that now. Set the stage for your success. While a multitude of factors affect performance, your attitude and thoughts certainly have an influence. Strive to recreate the "mental environment" that has proven beneficial.
Carry P's with you: P stands for Positives. When not running well, there is a tendency to be attuned to negatives; to focus on all the negative things that confirm you are not running well. For example, a runner who is struggling will get out of practice and remember the two missed intervals and how heavy his legs felt on the sprint set. You need to force yourself to acknowledge the P's - the positive, good things that occurred such as improvements in technique or feeling better than the day before. These P's should go with you to competitions to give you confidence that things are turning around.
American Bald Eagle
If your looking for a good opportunity to get a close up picture of an American Bald Eagle, you should visit the Ecotarium in Worcester. You can see a couple of Bald Eagles outside the walkway as you walk into the museum. There are other animals available outside, but the day that I went it was too cold to walk around to see them.
This particular picture I took with my Sony- Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V and zoom in to the head of the eagle. This was easy to do since one of the eagles was sitting on an egg and not moving around as much. The zoom did manage to block out some of the cage netting.
The Ecotarium is located near Route 9 in Worcester and it about a 35 minute drive on Route 9 from Framingham. This is a fun place for families to learn all about the environment and science. There's lots of indoor and outdoor exhibits. I would definitely recommend going during a warm day since there's plenty of things to do outside. For $3 more you can ride the train around the property.
The Ecotarium is eligible under the ACM Reciprocal Network. As of April 1st, the Uniform Reciprocal Benefits changed so that up to 6 people now pay 50% of the cost of the museum. The old benefit had 100% off for 4 people.
J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge
I just signed up for the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge 5k race which will run on June 20, 2013. This is the first race that I have done since high school, many many years ago. Over the next few weeks I'll be training to make sure that I have a great race. I am not in it to win the race, just to have a great finish and a fun time on the way.
I just downloaded the 5K Training For Beginners - From Couch To 5k Runner In 8 Weeks Or Less by Jago Holmes, on my Kindle to help me get started on my journey. It's a good investment since I was able to borrow it free since I have Amazon Prime. The reviews and ratings are good. I downloaded the preview and think its a good read for the month.
I'll update this blog on my journey to get to the finish line. I am not taking this race lightly. I want to make sure that the race is fun and that in the process I get into better shape. One other positive side effect is that it will make the morning run to the train station a little bit easier.
Common Mistakes new Commuter Rail riders make everyday
I was talking to a fellow commuter rail rider yesterday, we chat every once in a while and we came up with five things that almost ever new Commuter rail users encounter.
Getting to the train station late
Plan to get to the station at least 10 minutes before the schedule arrival of your train. Don't be the one running as the train is leaving and yelling to the conductor to wait, they won't. Get there early and wait.
Not buying a train pass at South Station or Back Bay
If you get on at South Station or Back Ba. you will pay a $2 premium if you purchase tickets on the train. Get your ticket at the ticket booth and then wait for the train.
Not having the ticket available when the conductor is walking around
Have your ticket handy so when the conductor comes around they don't have to wait for you to find it. If you buy a pass, make sure to put it right back where you got it.
Wear the right shoes in rough weather
The train can be slippery when getting off and on and wearing high heels or shoes with no soles will only lead to a free fall. Pay attention to the stairs as you walk on and off the train.
Getting on the train is "every poor sucker for themselves."
This is mostly true when getting on the train at the Back Bay station. When the train arrives, everyone wants to get on to get that premium seat. Don't expect that everyone will get out of your way to get on the train. If you're going to be a while, because you have luggage or your slow on the stairs, wait for everyone else to get on.
Getting off the train is slightly different story, commuters are actually more friendly and will have no problem with you getting in front of them to get off the train.
Bring something to read/do on your ride
When you get on the train you may not have to opportunity to sit and look out the window. Bring a book or Kindle with you to read on your journey. Also keep in mind on some busy trip you may not have a seat.
If your looking for a good afternoon snack, stop by 5 Napkin on Huntington Ave. This is their menu plan for the unofficial happy hour. Massachusetts only ban Happy Hour for alcohol consumption, there's nothing wrong with having food as a happy hour:
Twice a day, 7 days a week! 4-7pm, and 9pm-close, in the bar area. $2 sliders (orig, veggie or turkey), 50-cent wings, $2 pork taquitos (4) and $2 hand rolls (spicy tuna & cucumber or spicy salmon & avocado)
Mass General Laws
Did you know that you could be fine for carrying a lighted match, cigar, cigarette or pipe on MBTA property? From the Mass General Laws C272 Sec 43a, which is posted on signs all around the MBTA Station:
Section 43A. Whoever, in or upon a railroad carriage, steamboat, or other public conveyance, or in a terminal or other facility of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, smokes or carries an open flame or lighted match, cigar, cigarette, or pipe shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than ten days or by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars, or both such fine and imprisonment.
I guess the MBTA is really cracking down on not just smokers but people that are holding smoking paraphernalia. In other words, you're a criminal for possessing a legal product in your pocket.
Icing on the Cake
If your looking for the best place in metro Boston to get a special occasion cake, you should check out 'Icing on the Cake' in Newton. This is certainly a hidden gem in Newton that has a huge fan base.
We have ordered from them many times in the past six years. Not only do we enjoy the delicious cakes, but we are amazed at the creativity that they put into each cake.
Icing on the Cake isn't a normal cake place, its for those special occasions when just any cake won't do. If your celebrating a 65th birthday, do you really want to get a cake from Stop and Shop or BJs?
When your ready to place an order, don't pick up the phone. Make a trip to the store Why? Because the store will inspire you will all sorts of ideas.
The friend staff will work with you to produce an awesome cake, that will taste as good as it looks. One of the cool things about the store is that they have refrigerators that display cakes waiting to be picked up by customers. Which is awesome to see what they can do. Also when you pick up your cake, and you think you have the best one, there's always someone else that has a better design.
Over the past six years have ordered all sorts of cakes, from a DisneyWorld Haunted Mansion cake to a birthday cupcake display with hidden Mickey's.
The cakes taste melts in your mouth, you can make the cake any way you want as each cake is made to order. I really like that the cake taste really good a few days after an event, which is all the more reason to order a size slightly bigger than you need.
On weekends they have some cup cakes that you can purchase too. Excellent way to treat yourself to some of their awesome frosting and cake.
The Icing on the Cake is on 230 Adams Street in Newton, They only accept checks and cash.
If your going to a Red Sox game this year, you could consider parking at the Prudential. They charge $16, which is one of the lowest parking price of any garage around the Fenway area. I believe the garage at 100 Clarendon is slightly cheaper, but adds about 10 minute walking time to/from Fenway.
According to the signs around the Prudential Mall, the walk to Fenway is only 10-12 minutes. However, using Google Maps, the walk appears to be about 20 minutes long. I guess it all depends on how fast one walks.
If you take the Mass Pike, then the parking at the Prudential is a good option, its really easy to get to the garage off the turnpike, and even easier to get back on the turnpike. After the game, instead of getting on the Pike at Copley, take the Mass Ave. exit. It's a little less traffic to maneuver around.
I took some photos this morning around the Back Bay with my iPhone, but I am unable to send them because 3G is not available in Boston right now.
The Prudential Tower and Shops are still without power, almost 38 hours since the transformer blew up. There are lots of power trucks all around the back bay, mostly in front of apartment and condos.
Coffee in the Back Bay
There are 5 unique places to buy coffee between the Back Bay T stop and Christian Science Plaza:
Dunkin Donuts (3 Locations)
- On Stuart Street, across the street from the John Hancock tower
- Inside the Shaws super market next to the Prudential Shopping Center
- Inside the Prudentail Center near the Hynes Convention Center
Starbucks (2 Locations)
- Inside the Copley Place Mall, near the Boston Marriott
- Inside the Prudential Shops, next to Barnes and Noble
Au Pon Pain (2 Locations)
- Inside the Copley Place Mall, near the Stuart Street entrance
- Inside the Prudential Shops, near the Hynes Convention Center
Paradise Bakery & Cafe
- Inside the Prudential Shops, in the food court
- On the corner of St. Botolph Street and West Newton Street