Sunday, November 18, 2012

Five Turkeys

Sean and I saw these guys just moseying down the street and through a few yards in Cambridge. It's not a rural area at all. Maybe they got scared away from the riverfront by the Yale-Harvard game?

And some more pics. 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Post Storm

By last night, I was pretty 'meh' on the whole hurricane thing.
Everything in the Boston area was shut down Monday, but it didn't feel
like we got anything more than some pretty strong wind gusts for a few
hours. Power stayed on the whole time. This morning, it turns out we
were just lucky. I saw two downed trees and one downed school speed
zone light signal on the way to work. A few houses down the street
were cordoned off, and a work crew was just arriving when I walked
back on the way home (so presumably, those houses have been
without power for ~24 hours).


Monday, October 22, 2012

Fact of the Day

Did you know that is the website of the American Society for Radiation Oncology? Their annual meeting (seriously, referred to as 'the ASTRO meeting') is in Boston next week.

Other astro related webpages: is the website of Moravian College Astronomy is a list of astrology links is an amateur astronomy website is an astrology website is the website for Astronomy magazine


Monday, August 27, 2012

Leibniz Cookies!

Leibniz cookies! Here! In the US!

I've had the LU brand Petit Ecolier butter biscuits you can get at the grocery store. They are not the same. Leibniz are much lighter, more cracker-y compared to the dense butter cakes from LU. And the Leibniz is oh-so addictive. I'd basically given up on finding it in the US, but we just stumbled upon them this weekend in a small market in Harvard Square.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Seen on the Way to Work

This is a fire department call box I pass on the way to work. It's right on the sidewalk, head height:

And close up:
I hope no one tries to pull it.


Monday, July 09, 2012


If you find yourself on the MIT side of Cambridge, MA some weekend, tickets at the Kendall Square movie theater cost $11, which strikes me as pretty reasonable nowadays. Also, Mead Hall next to the Marriott Hotel, has a cool oval bar and an extensive number of taps, including Gaffel Kölsch which I haven't had in years. Finally, EVOO despite the ridiculous name, does a fine 3-course meal for $42. The pappardelle with lamb bolognese is good, but it comes with a lamb croquette, which is a fried pocket of lamb goodness.


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Embarrassing Disclosure

Sean and I moved into our place last summer, and he does nearly 100% of the cooking. Last night was the first time I'd ever turned on the oven. I wasn't sure how. (It has more buttons than you might imagine!)


Sunday, May 06, 2012

Computer Proliferation

I'm impressed as every year my electronic gadgets become smaller and sleeker. My current computer is a MacBook Air. And, yet, technological progress doesn't translate into carrying less stuff. Sean just left for Japan carrying an Air, a iPad, and an iPhone.


Monday, March 26, 2012

New Music

I had a bunch of credit at the iTunes Music Store and finally decided that I should use some of it and purchased Florence + the Machine's Ceremonials and Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More. The very short report: Ceremonials is okay, although with all the Romantic with a big R allusions to heaven and hell, it's easy to start to wonder if you're listening to Christian pop. I've heard "Shake It Out" on one TV show and in one major movie ad campaign and expect that the song will hit total media saturation in 8 weeks (in time for May sweeps!). As for Mumford & Sons, I've been somewhat skeptical of their folk rock bona fides, since I don't really understand why they get mainstream success and not any other of the multitudes of bands out there working in the same vein. That said, the album is solid and good listening for a variety of occasions.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

From Turkey to Boston

Where does the time go? I haven't posted since January and it's somehow already March! Well, it is finally, finally, time for my last story about our trip to Turkey. After Cappadocia, we were to return to Istanbul for one day before flying out to the US. But with Hurricane Irene headed up the East Coast, the specter of getting stuck for days on our European layover was freaking us out. We tried calling the airline, both in Cappadocia and back in Istanbul, (thank goodness for good internet!) but even when we got through, no one would change our flights unless our original flight got canceled. Which, eventually, it did. So we took the train to the airport (1 hr each way) where a nice man changed our flight for us, which gave us an extra day in Istanbul and routed our return flight through Paris instead of Germany.

We flew Turkish Air from Istanbul to Paris. New plane, very comfortable. The best part was the seatback entertainment system which had two cool features. One, you could use it to make a phone call to another seat on the plane (which was of limited utility with Sean sitting right next to me). Even better was one of the TV channel options which showed the feed from a camera mounted on the bottom of the plane. While you were in flight it pointed toward the ground below, but at the beginning and end of the flight it pivoted to front facing, showing you the view of takeoff and landing. 100% awesome.

We were supposed to have a 3 hour layover in Paris. We arrived one hour late. That still left 2 hours to get to our next flight. Unfortunately we had to change terminals and that meant sitting in a little room waiting for the shuttle bus to arrive and take us to our terminal. There was a monitor in the room counting down the time to the next shuttle. It started at 20 minutes. 20 minutes later it said 13 minutes. 20 minutes after that it said 1 minute. 5 minutes later it said 3 minutes. All this time, more passengers are arriving in the room, and everyone looks more and more flustered. There was an airport employee supervising the room. He knew nothing and I'm sure his only job was to be sure no one tried to inappropriately access the tarmac. The shuttle did finally arrive, but by the time we made it to our stop, our plane was already boarding. We had to stop (not yet at the gate) to be issued boarding passes. The woman at the counter tried to tell us "oh, it might be too late." I was having none of that. We made the flight.

Never fly through Paris.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cappadocia - Day Two

And here are photos from our second day in Cappadocia:

I think they're supposed to be chickens or something, even though they look exactly like dinosaurs to me.

There are a bunch of underground cities in the area. The one we visited went 8 stories underground. There was a tunnel which connected it to a neighboring underground city, 9 km away. The first rooms and levels in the city were dug out a long time ago, maybe 8th century BC. In the 6th and 7th century AD, tens of thousands of Christians lived in the cities for months at a time -- as a place of refuge from persecution. Obviously, the lighting isn't great down there which made it difficult to photograph.

That's all for awesome pictures, although I have one more post about the trip in my back pocket.


Monday, January 09, 2012

Cappadocia - Day One

There really isn't much I could write about Cappadocia that isn't better conveyed in photographs. All these photos were taken in one day.

The striking rock formations which look rather mushroom-like are known as 'fairy chimneys.'

The Göreme Open-Air Museum is a Byzantine monastic settlement with a cluster of rock-cut churches. You can go into a bunch of the churches which have red-colored religious designs (i.e., crosses) and heavily damaged biblically-themed frescos that are difficult to photograph in the gloom.

Cut into the rock in the photo below, you can see part of a church. From that point, there's an entrance to the "Dark Church." Inside, very well preserved frescos are on every surface. There's no photography in there, and, of course, it costs extra. (Pay the extra!)

Did I crawl into that crevice? I can't remember. I suspect not even though I'm sure it goes through. It's not in the US, so scrambling up, on, along, and through (some very dark tunnels) with no safety precautions is almost always allowed.


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Cappadocia - Göreme and Logistics

Sean and I saw Cappadocia on a travel show a couple years ago. It looked incredible. Try Google image searching 'cappadocia' right now: it's full of crazy scenery. But we were both like 'we're never going to go there.' It's too far off the beaten path and there's a lot of cool places we need to see first. But once you're in Turkey, it's not that hard to get to. And it looks just like the pictures.

These are just the views around our hotel, so nothing really cool.

To get to Cappadocia, we flew from Izmir back to Istanbul and out again to Kayseri. Then, a van from the hotel picked us up and took us the 1 hour drive to Göreme. The area around the airport was all golden color fields and mountains. And the roads are pristine-ly new but with very few cars. It was like being in the Central Asian Steppe, if I actually had any idea what that is like.

Three volcanos ring Cappadocia and erosion of the layers of volcanic ash is the cause of the crazy rock formations you see in the area. The things to see are the scenery, the Byzantine churches in caves cut into the rock, and the underground cities. Taking a hot air balloon ride is very popular and must be spectacular, but you do have to get up at 4 for the sunrise flight and we opted to skip that.

We stayed in Göreme, which is basically a backpacker town. If you're looking for a more upscale vacation, you might prefer to stay in some neighboring town. We stayed at the Kelebek hotel, which is one of the original cave hotels. We took the cheapest room with a private bath, but, be warned, those rooms have windows out on the path between the entrance and the restaurant and people outside will wake you several times a night.

Two things about traveling in Turkey. We had fairly good (and free) wifi in our room at every hotel we stayed at, which is better than you could expect in the U.S. or in Europe. We also had tiny bathrooms in every hotel except at Kelebek. In a room carved into rock we had a fabulously large shower.

Finally, remember what I said about every tour having 'shopping stops?' Well, we pre-booked with a reputable company in Cappadocia, and it was fine. But what isn't mentioned in the guide books or even on the tour company websites -- and would have definitely swayed our choice -- is that Heritage Travel (which operates out the Kelebek) doesn't have shopping stops. You'd think they'd advertise that fact more.