Tag Archive for 'boston'

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Many things

Ok so long story short:

Peru: awesome. more to write on what I did there. over 600 photos beginning to get posted, probably 10 good ones…

Road trip: drove to Florida with Halv to visit Jose. passed sights such as America’s smallest church and Dizzy Gillespie’s birthplace. many silly photos to be posted, probably no good ones.

School: what’s that? new planet paper coming to an arXiv near you soon. devil in details as usual.

Turning 30: celebrated near Kennedy Space Center with Jose and Halv by drinking “Icehouse” beer that cost $4 for a six pack at 2am this morning after 1800 miles and twelve states in two cars from Boston. I’m not sure if I’ll celebrate by keeping or removing my terrible moustache.

Updates/stories/photos as I get back to normal, if I can remember what that is.

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Back in Boston

So I’m back from wonderful Peru safe and sound… stories to follow…

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Chicago!

I’m exhausted. My weekend trip to visit Amanda in Chicago turned into a tour of some of the local drinking establishments… with a little sightseeing thrown in on the side. I also left my mobile phone in a shuttle, so am phoneless.

I arrived slightly later than planned on Friday. My flight out of Boston was delayed by some gum on a seatbelt, and I consequently missed my connecting flight by a few minutes (despite running and skipping the security queue). I was put on the next flight about ten minutes later thankfully. I caught the Omega shuttle down to the University of Chicago’s area of Hyde Park. Being on the south side, Hyde Park is something of an oasis of middle class surrounded by poor/rough neigbourhoods. There are certain streets one just doesn’t go past…

We started the late afternoon with free post-doc beers (one), and a few greasy fries. The evening saw us off toward Wicker Park, a popular eating and drinking area. We first sat outside at a bar for a pre-dinner drink (two), and then had some pizza and beer around the corner (three). We only got the medium size pizza, since the large ones were about the size of a table. Following dinner we met up with some others at a generic loud bar with lots of televisions (four), before moving on to a German place (five). This was one of those places that serves 1 liter steins. More curiously it had aussie rules footy on one of the tv’s.

this tee shirt is popular everywhere!

We were eventually kicked out (at closing), but since we weren’t done we went on to a blues bar (six) until they finished up too. Don’t ask how we got home, well to where we stayed anyway since we didn’t make it home…

We headed back to Hyde Park via town, using the “L” for a tour around the town loop. Being a few floors off the street, the train is a great way to see some of the buildings in the middle of the city. The Chicago River runs through the middle of town, and looks very cool with skyscrapers rising from right next to it, and being crossed regularly with old iron bridges.

The next evening started quietly, with good food and a beer at a restaurant (seven). We then started our tour of some more local bars, hosted by local Ken. He first took us to what looked to me like the American “idea” bar (eight), where we started on some of the incredibly cheaply priced midwestern beer. Next was a very local feeling place (nine), where we sat outside on plastic chairs at plastic tables and drank margaritas from plastic cups. After that was a place with lots of Elvis stuff on the walls (ten), but also other junk. Apparently there was another New Zealander, but my Flight of the Conchords tee didn’t draw them out… The last bar of the evening (eleven) had $3.25 gin and tonic. We made it home after giving a taxi driver blow-by-blow directions, which is a little odd in a city set out like a grid with numbered streets.

Sunday started slowly, but we eventually made it toward town, and walked up to some beaches. Hunger drove us to a bar (twelve!) for some meat and a beer. We went to another local person’s house for a bit of a wine tasting party after that, before heading home much in the same manner as Saturday night (i.e. giving directions to a Taxi driver).

some tall buildings

Thanks Amanda for an awesome weekend!

A few more photos are here. There are also some from drinking wine on Sunday night here.

A shot in the arm

It’s kinda funny. A shot in the arm is a good thing right? This obviously ignores the half day or so or slight ache that follows an actual shot in the arm, of which I received five today, spread over two arms. If I had three, the nurse would have used them. Thanks for MMR, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hep A, and Yellow Fever… which one can get at Mt Auburn hospital in Boston. There is a list of places on the CDC website if you’re looking for one of these near you in the USA.

(this theme has a “asides” category for mindless crap, which this is… so I’m trying it out)

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Summer travel…

I’m excited! I have so much cool travel planned in the next few months it’s going to be hard to get any work done during the week while I’m here. This weekend is the Adirondacks, next weekend might finally be New York, the weekend after is Chicago, then I have a break as I welcome Nick and Michele to Boston. Then it’s the big trip to Peru! After that there might be a road trip to Florida, and I’ve been keeping my eye out for cheap flights to places such as Key West

Middlesex Fells

Having been back in Boston for a whole two days I felt like getting out and doing something. A few people mentioned that there was something at the end of the Orange Line, if you could avoid getting shot on the way. While there aren’t any decent maps on the Middlesex Fells pages, I found a good pdf one on a biking site.

Getting there is simple, go to the north end of the Orange line and walk up Washington St until you hit one of the many ‘gates’ along that road, I went up Goodyear Rd and started there along the Rock Circuit Trail. This trail appears to hit every outcrop on the eastern side of the Fells, and goes through many and varied kinds of forest. The circuit took about 2.5 hours for the round trip, not including the 15 minutes or so from the T stop.

Middlesex Fells

The walk is similar to the Blue Hills Reservation skyline trail, which has a number of views of the city. It’s a much smaller park, but is perhaps easier to get to. From the little time I spent there it appeared the density of people was rather less too.

The rest of the photos are here.

Massachusetts: done?

I’m not sure whether to claim this one, I spent a week near Springfield at an enjoyable Gordon conference in western Mass this week so have ventured out of Boston.

Maybe I’ll wait until I’ve been to Walden Pond to claim it…

Independence Day

Along with lots of people who are real bona fide Americans, I celebrated July 4th yesterday. Every year Bostonians gather along the banks of the Charles River, to soak up the atmosphere, listen to some music, and watch a good ol’ fashioned fireworks show. This year they also got wet.

I took my camera for a walk along the esplanade around lunchtime, to see hundreds of people enjoying a lovely afternoon by the river. I didn’t go into the sound shell area, which was pretty packed having been open since 9am. A number of new citizens were sworn in, a little history was read out (the declaration also appears as the editorial in the Globe every year, thus saving the editor a days work).

people walking around in boxers?

After a ‘few’ celebratory cocktails with the Aussie/CfA crew, I returned to the river to watch the fireworks, in the rain unfortunately, but didn’t dampen our spirits…

july 4th fireworks

Photos here.

Blue Hills Reservation

I spent all day today either in, or travelling to and from the Blue Hills Reservation (links 1, 2). Located (sort of) near the end of the Red Line, it’s the largest piece of land available for people to walk through in the area. I got there by going to the Ashmont end of the Red Line, then going the extra bit to Mattapan on the ‘Trolley’. This is a bus right now, since there’s a ton of construction and leaves from right outside the T stop. Then a smaller bus took me down to the Trailside Museum. A fair way to travel, but less than $5 and probably took an hour. The last bus, the one from Mattapan to the Museum, doesn’t seem to be particularly regular, so using it in the morning and the more reliable stuff at the Braintree end seems to be a good option.

Arriving at the Museum, I purchased a map for $2 and started walking. I joined the Skyline trail at the top of Great Blue Hill, and walked to the end. The trail passes through all sorts of different forest, mostly with lots of rock. The was lots of wildlife, the highlight for me being a deer running past me. I only happened to see it, since it was surprisingly quiet. Others included a snake, various birds, and a hard to photo snake. It is becoming clear that a little mono/tri-pod would be a good complement to my new zoom lens.

Along the way there were numerous views of Boston’s skyline (hence the name I guess…). Boston is incredibly green seen side on. The trail has some steepish bits, but is pretty friendly, as were the people I saw along the way. There have been various fires over the years (presumably more often at Burnt Hill), so there isn’t much undergrowth in some places. This made is easier to see the millions of chipmunks!

View of Boston from the Skyline trail.

At the other end of the trail I walked all the way to Quincy Jones T stop. There is a 238 bus that goes past the end of the trail, but only every hour on the weekends. It was a pretty long day, probably more to do with Daves ‘T’ party last night, so I rewarded myself with burgers with habanero cheese for dinner, thus replacing any calories burnt during the day. The photos are here.

More visitors

I’ve now had my second set of visitors. Nick and Michele of “Nick and Michele’s wedding“, and “Road Tripping through Georgia” fame came up to search for a place to live. They found a nice place to live in the South End, and we celebrated by going to the nearest gay bar and having a beer. We got table service, but had to pay for our three beers right away. Weird. We went along the road to a more “informal” place for another few, before going up to Redbones for meat.

Other weekend highlights included walking along the Charles, and breakfast at the Neighbourhood restaurant. Thanks for a cool weekend guys!

Harvard commencement

I always thought commencement was the start of the school year, but I was totally wrong. Oh well…

Harvard’s commencement was just this week, and I now realise why the gardeners were so keen to get the grass growing again after winter. The various yards around the university look totally green and beautiful right now, and this was no doubt appreciated (or taken for granted) by all who took part in the ceremonies this week.

I didn’t go since I wasn’t invited, but the highlight was probably the latin address. This is a speech given in latin every year by a student. It is supposed to be humourous and somewhat understandable to the layperson. The average Harvard going layperson that is.

Being the good geek that I am, I was reminded of this tradition by slashdot, which points to a video of this year’s speech. Unfortunately it is the whole mornings “exercises”, but if you skip to 1:09:50 then you’ll skip all the serious stuff.

God bless America

God has indeed blessed America, clearly humans are helpless to do anything to influence their surroundings by themselves. Gratitude for said blessing manifests itself in many ways, the most conspicuous of which can be seen below. There are probably others, but this one appealed to me more than the multitude of churches this wonderful country harbours.

god bless pizza boxes and all they contain

There are many things that god has blessed this country with. Here are a few personal highlights:

One of my favourites is the ability to get a huge piece of meat in a burger pretty much anywhere I go, I think I’m addicted. In a totally unrelated matter, there are tonnes of micro-breweries that allow one to get good beer, which may sometimes be a precursor to the aforementioned chunks of meat.

I like that my local supermarket (known as “Johnnies Foodmaster”) has that nice Barillia pasta for about $1 a packet.

I can watch baseball anytime I like. The Red Sox play pretty much every day, and NESN shows previous games even when they’re not. Thank you lord.

Despite my preconceptions of the locals, people generally think pre-emtive strikes are a bad idea. Driving through Southwest Harbour in Maine there were a bunch of people by the side of the road with signs saying things like “join us if you are concerned about the war in Iraq”. I didn’t even though I am concerned. I had some hills to climb and views to see. Anyway, very non-confrontational, and an interesting thing to see on a Saturday morning in rural America.

There are lots of cool places to visit from my base here in Boston, I have the aim of visiting a new state for each month I’m here. Other countries and their states count. So far I’m on track, ticking off Georgia, Maine and New Hampsire in the three months to date.

It’s green, and the trees aren’t all eucalyptus.

It’s old, not Europe old, but older than I’m used to nevertheless. This doesn’t have much to do with being blessed by god but I like it anway.

I really do like burgers.

Amen.

Acadia National Park: done

Wow. Acadia is beautiful. Complete photos here

I arrived late on Friday evening, after the visitor center had closed. I manged to find my way to the summit of Mt Cadillac on my way to the campsite. At 400 or so metres it’s the highest on Mt Desert Island and had great views of smog from Boston and New York, with some nice scenery of the surrounding countryside behind.

hazy hazy

I moved on to the “first in first served” campsite, and found a nice piece of dirt to call home for the next few days. The next day was time to conquer some of Acadias massive peaks in the west, but not before a little coastal walk around Ship Cove near my campsite. The coastline in that area is beautiful! I noticed that I was taking photos with less sky in them, the foregrounds are beautiful too!

lovely coastline

Packing bottles of water and a few sandwiches, and of course my faithful camera, I set off on a trek along the edge of Long Pond (pond = lake), and up and over the top of two of the peaks. Every man and woman and both of their dogs were there in the lower parts, not that it was crowded, every one just seems to use the national parks as big dog walking areas. This is one of the views, complete with the contrails that appear everywhere in the USA.

view from Bernard Mountain

After my four hour walk I was thoroughly wasted and smelly. Thankfully there are places to swim (some ponds are water supply so aren’t swimmable) such as Echo Lake, where I had a dip in my undies and a nap in the sun before it disappeared behind the cliffs. I took a roundabout way home, and happened past Thurston’s Lobster Pound, where they show you the crayfish and then whisk it away to be cooked. Mmmm yummy and cheaper than in Kaikoura by miles.

The next day was another hill, this time on the east side of the island, and driving around the roads there. I didn’t have a bike with me. If I had there are heaps of carriage roads just for bikes and walking, very friendly for those not able to walk up the trails. I was surprised at the trails in places, with very steep climbs and a bit of scrabbling needed, just what I like. Some of the steeper bits were fashioned into lovely granite staircases, a lot of effort to build but very easy to walk up and down…

rocky staircase

The last thing I did before leaving was to drive around some of the park roads, stopping at various ponds, streams, and other wonderful looking vistas, such as this pond…

an acadian pond

After walking and driving around a lot of roads I was feeling Acadia’d out and thought I could squeeze some more out of my quickly disappearing weekend, I headed off the island and east, in a mad dash for New Hampshire before it was too late…

Maine and New Hampshire: done

I did several different things on this trip so I’ve split it into Acadia, Fort Knox, Mt Washington, and this post about the travel in between.

I made my first trip away from Boston under my own steam at the weekend, and had an awesome time! I hired a car with the aim of having a look around Acadia National Park, which is up in Maine about six hours north of Boston. I went to the rental car place on Friday lunchtime, and picked up the “ugliest car ever”, aka Chrysler PT Cruiser. However, it did have an auxiliary jack on the stereo for my iPod, which redeemed it. It drove ok too…

ugly ugly ugly

I was rather apprehensive about driving in Boston traffic, it looks pretty scary from the pavement sometimes just walking to school each day. I managed to find my way out of town thanks to some directions from google maps, and was off on a rather hot 35 degree day

The first thing I encountered was five bucks or so of tolls. I must have stopped about four times to hand over a dollar or so. By the last I had to give the guy a $20 bill, which he cheerfully gave me $19 change for. Without exception everyone I met and talked to on the trip was nice.

It feels like all of New England is covered in trees outside the big cities. There was nothing but green of many shades all the way to Mt Desert Island, where Acadia is. One thing I noticed it that pretty much all the towns up that way have an American Flag hanging from every lamp-post. Why do I think that’s wierd, NZ’ers should be patriotic and follow the example!

Eventually I arrived at my destination, passing Fort Knox (Maine, not Kentucky) and a nice big bridge, a spiral staircase company, and many beautiful old houses. Everything is much more spaced out up there, and everyone drives a truck (American version of a truck, what I’d call a kickass big ute). More on Acadia here.
After a few days I was all Acadia’d out, and decided to drive west to see how different it looked in New Hampshire. I invented a new goal during my time in Boston: to visit a new state every month. It’s now the end of May and going to N.H. would allow me to tick Georgia, Maine, and N.H. since I arrived in March.

I left Acadia kind of late, and got distracted by Fort Knox so drove most of the way in the dark. I passed a number of lakes, and a lot of churches that all looked the same. I thought I was going in circles at first, but the highway numbers kept on corresponding to those on my map so I felt safe. Every road has a number and direction here (e.g. 22 South), and the intersections are well labelled so I found it easy to find my way across Maine, even in the dark. Along the way I achieved a goal I set for myself in Georgia, to use a drive though ATM!

I arrived at my campsite late, about 11pm and set up. I put the fly on Tiff’s very nice Mountain Hardware tent in anticipation of the rain, which bucketed down sometime during the night. As it is with camping, I slept in for ages and got up at 7am to find myself in more trees, broader leafed than most of the ones in Acadia, but a nice mix of evergreen and deciduous nonetheless.

I set off down the next valley since it looked like it would have interesting things in it. I started to see billboards for the “Mt Washington Auto Road”, which I dutifully paid my $20 for and had a look.

After the excitement of Mt Washington, all that was left was to get back to Boston by 4pm, the time my rental was due. Somewhere down the valley I hit my first traffic, from there every small town with lights would cause a 20 minute delay as everyone returning from their Memorial weekend holiday tried to squeeze through as quickly as possible. There were parts of entertainment along the way, what do you think this building holds?

it’s a bank! note the drive thru atm’s obscured by trees

I got bored of that pretty quickly and went off to another road that I thought would be better. It was and I made it back safe and sound, and more importantly in time to unload and fuel my car.

All up an awesome trip! It cost probably $500, of which $300 was car, of which half was insurance. I don’t want to piss anyone off in this litigious country…

Red

I can now say I’ve arrived in Boston, having attended a Red Sox game at America’s most beloved baseball field: Fenway Park. The game itself was exciting, with yet another sold out crowd (ever since May 15 2003 would you believe). Aside from the baseball which ‘we’ won, there were other highlights such as the seventh innings stretch (literally, everyone gets up and stretches… and then sings “take me out to the ball game”). We also sang “sweet caroline” at some point too. Truly a friendly family even for all to enjoy.

fenway panorama

Sox!

Yeah you know what these are…

sox tickets!

Prudential Tower: done

One of Boston’s tallest buildings is the Prudential Tower. At over 50 floors this building provides a prime opportunity for someone to make money from the excellent view it provides. I went up there today with Halv and we got a great 360 degree view of Boston. There are a lot of trees now since spring has just sprung, so the city looks wonderful.

Prudential Tower

I live on the other side of the Charles river, which is where MIT and Harvard are. More photos here.

Local music

Something I like about a number of the bars I go to around here is live music. I’m not sure if I’m just being inspired (read dragged along) by others, or if there really are more good bands playing here.

Last night we went to a CD release gig. Sam Bigelow is a local guy who plays piano and has a band. There was a lot of slow ballad type stuff, but my favourites where the good old fashioned twelve-bar blues numbers… speaking of blues, when I was in Atlanta a few months ago we saw a good band who came from Boston.

The next bar we went to (the Toad, someone told me it’s the basis for the hypnotoad in futurama, but I’m not sure. I can’t find any evidence on the web) had another good band, with a duelling guitar/fiddle duo.

Anyway, good live music in this country…

Georges Island: done

I continued my efforts to be a combination tourist/local by making a trip out into Boston harbour today. It has a whole bunch of islands, some of which were used for strategic defence in the mid 1800’s. There is a ferry service out there; a cat that goes pretty fast compared to what I’m used to…

Fort Warren is on Georges Island, and is impressive with a massive volume of granite and brick used in its construction. Note the very nice granite staircase… and this was just for a foward defence point, not fancy officers quarters or anything.

Fort Warren marble staircase

The fort has some really cool dark passages. I wandered down one using my camera flash to find an old powder magazine. A huge room totally isolated so it wouldn’t blow up unexpectedly, they used to line the walls with timber so no sparks could be generated when people brushed the walls with their finery.

One of the more recent additions to the harbour island visit points is Spectacle Island, which once had a rendering factory and was then a dump for Boston. During the Big Dig, they buried it under the excavated dirt, and turned it into a 150ft high island with trees. For now it looks very new, kind of the opposite of some of the ‘artificial’ lakes in NZ, but in a few years when the trees grow it’ll be lovely. Apparently it’s a pretty good spot to watch the sun set behind the city as it is now…

Photos here

Spring has sprung

Spring has come on quickly here. Just over a month ago there was a snowstorm, and now the trees are leafing up and there is grass. This is the view out my bedroom window. I’ll take one every few days and make a year round montage like the one I did for the construction of the AITC at Mt Stromlo.

the view out my window in Boston

The grass has been encouraged heavily, the harvard gardeners are evidently under strict instruction to re-sow the lawns as soon as possible to keep the tourists who come to touch John Harvard’s foot happy. If only they knew what the students did to it

Black Sheep: done (well not done…)

I went with some people to see the movie Black Sheep recently, it was everything I expected it to be. It had blood, my old mate Nathan as the lead, and of course sheep jokes.

movie ticket

Thanks, Independent Film Festival of Boston!

Boston's Freedom Trail: done

I have now done my first really touristy thing here in Boston, walking the Freedom Trail. It’s a trail that pretty much goes through the middle of Boston, passing a number of iconic monuments, buildings, graveyards, and places to spend money.

Before leaving I found a podcast which gave me some guidance, saving me the embarrassment of wandering along the trail with someone in an old fashioned get-up shouting at me.

Here’s an example of an old building sitting in the middle of the city…

old building in new city

The rest of the photos are here

A typical day at the CfA…

So I imagine people wondering, what is a typical day at Harvard-CfA like for Grant? Here is my ‘typical’ day…

So after wandering down to school through a crisp morning with patches of snow, I find there are some people I know passing through. I go and meet Anna who lives in Texas, and also see Martin and Ken from Australia. I then go to a talk by a guy from Caltech who does cool theoretical planet work, and later to a talk by another guy who does cool observational planet work. Finally I go out to dinner with more people who do things I’m interested in. And the best thing: dinner was free, thanks ITC!

Meeting three or four people in a day who do research directly related to what I do is very cool, and hasn’t even come close to happening in two years in Australia.

Of course some days I just sit at my desk at play with my computer…

St Patrick's day in Boston

Boston is apparently the most Irish city in the USA. They make the most of this by having a huge parade through South Boston each year, which all those not too hungover from the Saturday night before attend. Halvar and I didn’t fall into that category so of we went.

It was pretty cold standing around watching various police, army, schools, local youth, and lots of guns of varying degrees of reality being wielded with varying degrees of sobriety parading past.

The best photo I took was of Dorothy’s mate the Tin Man. I missed the reasoning behind the costumes but they were handing out green lollies, which was god enough for me…

tin man

Highlight of the day was a guy in the parade spotting some kids in a back yard shooting hoops, requesting a ball, and downing a ‘nothing but net’ three from the street. He knew it was good the instant it left his hands and was twenty meters away by the time it went in. Nice.

Pics are here.

Snow and cricket

Today it snowed. A lot. In fact it’s still snowing outside right now. There is a nice little snow bank building up next to the fence and there’s a weird light outside as if the sun didn’t quite go all the way down.

I left school a bit after 2pm and watched the second innings of NZ vs. England live from the Caribbean in a reasonably warm bar with cold beer. I can now say I’ve trekked through snow to watch cricket…

halv + snow

This is Halvar outside after the game. He’s doing thumbs up because we beat the poms.

New Zealand is too small…

So I arrive in Boston, and my friends show me a photo of a poster for a new movie, Black Sheep. I look at the picture for a second, and then realise I grew up about two doors down from the lead actor. We used to skate together back in the day…

movie poster

movie poster

Nice one Nathan!

brr

It was really cold today, like -10degC. How does it get that cold? I survived the 25 minute walk to school ok, though I was glad to be in the warm when I arrived…

I’m getting settled in somewhat, at school anyway now that I’ve almost run out of procrastination type things to stop me from doing some science for a change.

Boston!

I made it! After various delays in flights, and rather longer visits to Auckland and LAX airports than I’d hoped, I arrived in Boston on the red-eye at 7am. There was snow all over the place as we flew in, and the city looked rather grey and concrete-like.

I followed Halvar’s directions to Harvard, and walked a rather long distance to the Center for Astrophysics. I then met my officemate, and eventually my supervisor. It was a little weird after already talking to him for a year and a half, but good too. I can’t use the “I haven’t met my supervisor joke anymore however..”

I am now in P342, with my supervisor a few doors down. I’m not sure that I’ll actually talk to him more than in the past, but at least it will be in person!

I didn’t really feel like I’d arrived until I saw my first squirrel…

You can see where my office is at this link. The satellite image was taken during summer I think…

Getting closer…

The flight from Auckland eventually left at something like half-past midnight. Our plane was broken or something, apparently nothing unfixable since I’ve made it as far as Los Angeles. I missed my connecting flight like everyone else, but Qantas have been good at rebooking people onto new ones.

My rebooked flight has an associated five hour wait, and there isn’t all that much to do here apart from internet and food. I did get given USD$19 to spend at a restaurant here, which I will do since I’m getting a little peckish and American Airlines don’t feed their passengers I hear.

Tomorrow in Boston is supposed to be 2degC, quite bearable probably.

Leaving

My trip has (not) started with a delayed flight. We were supposed to leave at `9:40 but now it’s going to be 21:45. The lady assured me any connecting flights would be rebooked, which matters since my flight through to Boston doesn’t exactly have a lot of wiggle room. It would be rather a pain if my trip started with a missed flight! They have started giving out free water, orange juice and biscuits. The type one gets in flight unfortunately.

I’m not excited yet, more nervous than anything else I think. The hassle of going through numerous security checks doesn’t help, though at least in NZ the people are friendly. I hear this doesn’t apply to American security.

The weather appears to be mild in Boston, only 1degC tomorrow. This should make it possible to wander around with pretty normal clothes, rather than a big jacket which I don’t have.

I’ve had an excellent trip through NZ the last week. The only person I missed seeing was Tom. Hiring a car was the best thing I’ve done for a trip like this, rather expensive but worth it for getting about and having freedom. A whole bunch of people are likely to come visit while I’m there. Julie is gong to be in Canada, as is Simon so they may visit. Laurie said he’d come over, despite never visiting me in Canberra. There are also a bunch of people who I can contact when I arrive, who are mates of people I know.