Boston blog postings

Boston Postings

Earliest: March 16, 2003Latest: July 12, 2018Total: 230

September 9, 2013

Amazon Sales Tax

A friendly reminder for Massachusetts residences that Amazon.com will be collecting sales tax on purchases after Nov. 1. This is because it now has an office in Cambridge. (Even thou you can't buy anything from their office.)

This means for Massachusetts residences, that "Cyber-Monday" will technically be on November 1st for Amazon shoppers. Don't think this is true? Well you should have see how busy the stores were around the Framingham area on "Tax Free Weekend." Seems lots of Massachusetts consumers were out and about on a very nice weekend looking for deals on previously taxed items.

No word on if Kindle books will be taxable, since they are electronic delivery. I suspect that they will be a taxable item.

You might be better off doing your Christmas shopping extra early to make sure that Amazon.com has your items in stock. Don't wait till Halloween, as many popular gift items may go out of stock, and if they are out of stock, you may not be able to order them. When they come back in stock, you'll end up paying the sales tax.

Worst case scenario? Take a trip to New Hampshire? No! Support your local businesses that are working hard to keep jobs in Massachusetts.

August 1, 2013
Harcourt Street

Harcourt Street

In the Boston's Back Bay there are some unusual streets, once such street is Harcourt Street. What makes this street  different than other street is how the trees are growing on both sides of the street. All the Oak trees are leading towards the center of the street! This creates an unusual effect when looking and walking down the street.

This is has happened because of the the limited amount of sun that shines in the area. Due to the tall building on both sides of the street, the street gets very little day light and over the years all the Oak trees that were planted on the side of the streets have been leading  towards the center to get the most sun. These trees have been growing this way for at least 50 years.

This isn't the only street in Boston where this is happening, there are some trees around Beacon Hill where you'll see this effect. What makes Harcourt Street special is its best place to see the effect on the street. Since this is a quiet dead end street, its safe to walk down the middle of the street and see how the tree branches are interlacing other tree branches. Note: Other people walk down this street as its a short cut to get to the Back Bay train station.

You can find Harcourt Street near Copley Place and the Prudential Shops. It's about two blocks west of the Hunnington Ave overpath. Something different to check out while your waiting for the Boston Duck Tours. Check out the location on Google Map or on Map Quest.

July 26, 2013
Migutan Rails back bay

Mystery Rails on Ring Road

While walking around Boston's Back Bay, you may notice something strange on the road between the Prudential Center and Shaws Supermarket (Ring Road). If you look down you'll see some metal on the street and sidewalk that run's parallel to the street.

This metal strip is called Migutan Rails, and Boston isn't the only place where you'll see them. The purpose of these strips is to protect water from going underneath the road or sidewalk. That's because much of the Prudential Center and Shaws is built over the Massachusetts turnpike.

You can find Migutan rails almost any place where it's necessary to protect water from going underneath the split slab deck. Such as Parking garages, Plazas and Podium Stadium concourses. You'll find them in Gillette Stadium, Fenway Park, Meadowlands and Yankee Stadium.

If you look carefully you can see a stamp 'Migutan' on the stainless steel capping strips. That's the brand of the system made by EMSEAL Joint Systems located in Westborough, Massachusetts.

July 22, 2013

Huntington Avenue Grounds

This fall marks the 100th anniversary of the World Series. The field, Huntington Avenue Grounds, where the first World Series was played no longer exist, it is now the main part of the Northeastern University campus. In 1993, the Yawkey Foundation put a marker and a statue of Cy Young to show where the pitching mound and home plate use to be.

This is the inscription on the home plate:

The First World Series

On October 1, 1903, the first modern World Series between the American League champions Boston Pilgrims (Later known as the Red Sox) and the National League champions Pittsburgh Pirates was played on this site. General Admission tickets were Fifty Cents. The Pilgrims led by Twenty Eight Game winner Cy Young trailed the series three game to one, but then Swept Four consecutive victories to win the championship five games to three. Home plate sat at this location with the left field fence along the Huntington Avenue Sidewalk.

Directions to the Cy Young statue at the old Huntington Avenue Grounds:

By Public Transportation:
Take the Green Line (E Line) to the Northeastern University Station stop. Head towards Forsyth Street, the intersection you see when you get off the train. Cross the street towards Northeastern University, stay on Forsyth Street. Take a left after you pass by the Bank of America ATM, that pedestrian path is World Series Way. Walk down World Series Way for about 50 yards and you'll see Cy Young statue on your right in a little park.

This is a nice place to visit if your a Red Sox Fan. There's really not much else to see here, there is just a statue and a home plate marker. Have a bit of fun and bring a baseball to see if you can throw a strike.

July 19, 2013

Red Sox Parking

There are several parking lots to select from when going to a night or weekend Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Here's a list of six of them that are within walking distance of Fenway Park. Two things to consider when selecting the parking lot, the location to Fenway Park and the location to major highways to avoid traffic after a game.

Clarendon Street Parking Garage
Distance from Fenway: 1.5 Miles (Approx 30 minute walk)
Game Parking Cost: $10

Clarendon Street Parking Garage is the "official" parking garage of the Boston Red Sox, it's also the furthest parking garage from Fenway Park. This is a good solution if you have plenty of time before a game to get to the park. The garage also has the easiest access to the Mass Pike, you can actually get on the Pike from the garage!

Copley Place Parking
Distance from Fenway: 1.2 mile  (25 mins)
Game Parking Cost: $15

Copley Place Parking is a good solution if the Prudential Parking garage is full. In most cases, you'll probably run into less traffic getting out of the garage. You can easily get on the Mass Pike via Huntington Ave near Copley Square.

Prudential Parking Garage
Distance from Fenway: 1 mile  (19 mins)
Game Parking Cost: $16

The Prudential Parking Garage is an excellent solution for anyone coming to the game using the Mass Pike eastbound. You can get off the Mass Pike and pull right into the garage without having to deal with the off ramp traffic on Huntington Ave. If you don't want to deal with the walk there are plenty of bike rides available to get you to the park very quickly.

Dalton Street
Distance from Fenway: .9 mile (17 mins)
Game Parking Cost: $14

Dalton Street Garage is located just off Boyston Street and next to Kings. This is a very busy garage and can be tricky to pull out due to pedestrian and car traffic. The garage is a little small and there are some tight corners to navigate.

Pilgrim Parking at 425 Newbury Street
Distance from Fenway:  .6 mile (12 mins)
Parking Cost: $25

This is a popular garage for long time Red Sox fans. It's not all that easy to get to, but a nice short walk through Kenmore Square to the park.  If you don't have tickets to the game, you'll run into plenty of ticket scalpers on your way.

Lansdowne Garage
Distance from Fenway: 200 feet (3 mins)
Parking Cost: $40

Right at the Park! Excellent location if you don't want to do a lot of walking. You'll have to arrive early as the garage does fill up very quickly. After a game it can be tricky to get out due to the number of pedestrians and game day traffic.

July 11, 2013

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.

June 14, 2013

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 caf? 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.

June 12, 2013

Workout Playlist

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.

Song TitleArtist
Anything( feat. Sofia)Sofia the First
Stand Up for the ChampionWorld Cup 2010 Anthems
This = LoveThe Script
The Party Starts NowClub Penguin
Twist AgainWKPE Recording
Ride Like the WindChristopher Cross
I'm Still StandingElton John
Bring It All BAckS Club 7
All StarSmash Mouth
LA Lakers IntoOracle Boot Camp CD
Back in the High Life AgainSteve Winward
Don't Stop 'Til You Get EnoughMichael Jackson
Theme From "Greatest American Hero"Joey Scarbury
(I Wanna) Be Like MikeTeknoe
I Like to Move ItReal 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.

June 11, 2013

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.

June 3, 2013

Debt Validation Letter

 In 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:

  1. the amount of the debt;
  2. the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
  3. 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
  4. 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:
    1. all documents, including electronic records or images, which bear the signature of the debtor and which concern the debt being collected;
    2. a ledger, account card, account statement copy or similar record, which reflects the date and amount of payments, credits, balances and charges;
    3. the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the collecting creditor; and
    4. ;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.