Sunday, June 30, 2024

My Favorite Boston Championships

Since moving to Boston in 1991, I've experienced championships in the four major professional sports leagues. Boston is a modern Title Town, a Championship City.  In the middle of this month, the Boston Celtics won the top trophy and I attended their parade. It was a bright sunny day. The crowd was lively and the members of the team (in individual Boston Duck Tour boats) looked happy and delirious.

On social media, Boston was beating its chest: 13 Titles Since 2001! 6 Super Bowls. 4 World Series. 2 NBA Championships. 1 Stanley Cup. It's a remarkable run. Here are my favorite four championships ranked from these 13 titles:

#4: 2014 New England Patriots - The Patriots have played in ten Super Bowls, and won it six times since I've moved here. Going into Super Bowl XLIX, the Pats had lost their two prior Super Bowls, both against the NY Giants. I'm not sure I'm really past the loss from 2008, so when I saw that circus catch by Jermaine Kearse, I was ready to turn off the TV. Instead, very shortly after the Kearse catch was the greatest interception I've ever watched. Chills!

#3: 2024 Boston Celtics - I was dazzled by the 2008 Big Three: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. But the last few years of watching Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum develop and grow in front of my eyes since Brown's draft (2016) and Tatum's draft (2017) has been amazing. They are an incredible pairing! With their latest team the Celtics have become elite again!

#2: 2011 Boston Bruins - When Patrice Bergeron scored the third goal short-handed in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, it looked like he pushed the puck into the goal with his hand. I remember going into my kitchen to life face down on the tile, hoping for a favorable non-call. After a moment, Boston got their call and it was 3-0 Bruins. I fully embraced hockey when I moved to Boston. It's my favorite sport to watch, live or on TV. This was the only other championship parade I attended! 

#1: 2004 Boston Red Sox - The most pure moment I ever felt as a sports fan. I cried. "Don't let us win today," said Kevin Millar in the epic Game 4 of their ALCS against the great New York Yankees. That comeback wiped away the terrible memories from that Aaron Boone homerun in 2003. The Red Sox sweep of the St Louis Cardinals was almost just icing! The Red Sox have won the World Series three more times since then, but their championship in 2004 is my favorite Boston championship!

Boston Duck Boats parade for Boston Celtics 2024
Boston Celtics 2024 Duck Boat Parade


Friday, May 31, 2024

Gordon Street

From March to September 1991, I lived at 80 Gordon Street, in Brighton, Massachusetts. This was my first time paying rent for my own place. (I moved to Boston in January 1991, stayed one night with family, then was conveniently invited into house sitting at a co-worker's friend's place.) Gordon Street reminds me of the simpler though lonelier lifestyle I had back then. 

The apartment was simply a place to sleep, nothing more. Despite that, I didn't have a bed. It never occurred to me to buy one. I had a sleeping bag, and I slept directly on the floor. Word got around the office and a few months later a co-worker offered me a mattress he was getting rid of. I remember driving that used mattress in my tiny car from some North Shore town and being genuinely glad for it.

My apartment had two rooms, but because I didn't buy furniture one could be confused by their function. In the one room was the sleeping bag/mattress. In the other room was a folding table that had some books and an old computer. I rarely used that computer though. Instead, as a young workaholic in high-tech, I spent most of my waking hours at the office where there were far more interesting computers. Someone joked "Rick has more rooms than furniture." I laughed at the absurdity.

There was a small kitchen in that apartment. However, the one time I thought to cook something on the stove I was met with the reality that you have to call the utility company to turn on the gas. I had not done this. My diet in 1991 was served by national fast food chains and local fast food chains. And sometimes, a high-end restaurant. That's right: if co-workers were headed to nearby Michela's, a gorgeous and fancy destination restaurant, I'd sometimes tag along, somewhat out of place in casual clothes but solvent enough to mostly not care.

The mattress on the floor was soon accompanied by a beach chair I had bought. I'd sit in that chair to read or to write in a paper diary. There was a door that led to a tiny balcony. It overlooked a parking lot which I didn't have a permit for. In the kitchen the window overlooked the air well between the surrounding apartment buildings. Sometimes, if I saw someone across the way, I wondered if they were as lonely as I was.

When one of my co-workers asked if I wanted to join up with two other people in a larger apartment in downtown Boston, I leapt at the chance. I needed this invitation at that exact moment in my life. I must have broken my lease with the landlord immediately, but left all my moving plans for the absolute last minute. The morning of August 31, a loud knocking at my door woke me. When I opened it, I saw two parents and some children. They were the new tenants, and they were here to move in.

I hurriedly gathered my mattress and folded up my table and chair. I marveled at their furniture and their unpacking of kitchen implements. I stuffed my car with my meager belongings. I must have given this new tenant my key, though I don't remember. I then drove a few miles to the Back Bay. In that new apartment I had the smallest of the four rooms. My mattress and beach chair fit perfectly. 

80 Gordon Street (Google Maps)


Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Song: Starless (King Crimson)

Earlier in the month, I went to see "Children of Men" at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square. I love this movie and in preparation for the rewatch, I listened to its sound track. One of the songs is "In the Court of the Crimson King" by the band King Crimson. This song got me listening to some of the band's other songs. I eventually stumbled on "Starless."

This song is so incredible, so good. It's a track that is a bit over 12 minutes, so give yourself time to enjoy its epicness. The song features a build up of tension that is exquisitely released in the song's closing seconds. The foreboding bass, the funky mellotron, and the dark lyrics ("Starless and bible black!") make the song mysterious yet alluring.

When I like a song like this, I'll often go to YouTube to find covers. My favorite one is a music school's production from 2018. It was for their "Prog Rock" show. Prog rock does away with verse-chorus-verse and instead embraces complexity and multiple sections. Kind of like metal, I think.

I was happy to learn of this song, and amazed that it's been around since 1974. I like to think this song would have captured my attention when I was younger. Who knows? All I know is that old music can be new music if you are willing to open your ears.

King Crimson (Red)


Sunday, March 31, 2024

COVID-19: Paxlovid

COVID-19 finally caught up with me last weekend. I woke up feeling sore and weak and achy. I had a mild fever. I was going to start a juice and rest routine when I thought: could this be COVID? Sure enough, I saw my first positive test result. My wife encouraged me to call the doctor to see if I could be prescribed Paxlovid, the antiviral medication for COVID-19.

The next morning, a Monday, I learned that Massachusetts has a free telehealth "clinic" that can determine if Paxlovid would help. I logged into the website, answered some questions, then waited for an online call. Within a half-hour I was talking to a Family Nurse Practitioner. She briefly discussed my answers, declared that Paxlovid would help, and confirmed my closest pharmacy. I had a box of Paxlovid within an hour. (Thanks to insurance, this was $25.)

I took the pills right away. Within a few hours, my soreness and achiness went away. I felt a bit better though my fever persisted. The next day, my fever began to subside. By day three I was feeling about 70-80% normal. This medicine felt like a modern miracle. The only side effect I experienced was a metallic taste in my mouth. Drinking water and taking cough drops helped with this.

The world has moved on from the state of high alert regarding COVID. By now I know maybe 6-12 people that got sick with COVID. During the early months of the pandemic, most just rested and let the virus run its course.  It's only in the past year did I start to hear about effective antiviral drugs. I have a feeling taking Paxlovid early in my illness helped with its efficacy.

This whole week I stayed home, though state guidelines suggest I could have returned to my office to work as early as Day 4 of my five-day Paxlovid regimen. For at least another week I'll be wearing a mask and carefully monitoring for a rebound (something that does occur with people who take this medicine). I highly recommend Paxlovid if you get sick with COVID. It's fast and effective.


Thursday, February 29, 2024

Unlit Stall Thoughts

A few weeks ago I was in a bathroom stall at work, playing some Freecell, passing a little time and a little gas. Not much else though. Suddenly, the lights went out. 

After that split-second of low-grade confusion, I realized that I was the only person in the bathroom, and the facility's motion detector must have shut off the lights when it didn't detect anyone moving. I certainly wasn't doing much moving (in more ways than one).

My thoughts went towards how you might add sensors in the stalls or even the toilets. Those sensors could communicate to the lights that there were people inside who couldn't move but were nonetheless present. It could do double-duty by tracking stall usage.

But then my thoughts went towards the ancient times. How did people go to the bathroom at night before there were lights? Did they just stumble around their unlit homes? Did they fire up a candle? What about prehistoric times? Did people just wake up in the night then wander nearby to relieve themselves? They would likely be concerned about predators.

My thoughts finally settled back towards mid-2021, back to when COVID was starting to fade away. Nearly four years later, my office building is a small fraction of its former population. How long before someone else walks into this bathroom? I waved my arms, but that didn't trigger the lights. 

Just as I started to think practically about finishing up in the dark, someone else walked in. The lights came on. I thought about how this person might have calculated he had the whole bathroom to himself, but then  realized another person was here, sitting in the dark. He went into anoter stall, and then I made my way out, into the light.

Bathroom from Post

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

My 2023 Books and Movies

In 2023, I read 25 books (LibraryThing) and watched 66 movies (Letterboxd) (24 were rewatches).

My favorite book: Solito. I won't ever forget the gentle bravery of the little boy in this immigration story. Another favorite that I read in that same month was Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Its maximalist style jumps off the page and I greatly enjoyed it.

My favorite movie: The Holdovers. I so loved the sweet sadness of this movie. The fact that some of the movie takes in place in Boston only adds to it. Other new movies from last year that I liked: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,  and No Hard Feelings.

Some books I read in 2023