Last Night on the Mass Pike

Boston SkylineWe loved Boston! We totally should have gone there sooner, and more often. If New York is a big city, Boston is like a huge village. It feels nothing like downtown NYC.
The buildings are an odd mix of modern and classic architecture. The sidewalks are frequently coblestone. The roads are impossible to drive on, because everything is so jammed together. Its like Nicole’s little home town of Aylmer grew and repeated itself across a huge area.

And the people are SO much friendlier than in NYC. Not once, but twice, as we stood on the sidewalk looking at the map and arguing about where to go, someone came up to us and asked us if we needed help finding anything. Kindly strangers with smiles on their faces happy to help us poor tourists through their city. It was down-right trippy!

Downtown BostonI really wish we’d had a whole weekend to spend in town. We ended up on the train/subway for a good part of the day, popping out to check out a part of town, and then back on the rails to scoot somewhere else, so we didn’t really get a complete picture of the place. But even the train seemed friendlier. There were underground parts that were dark, like any other subway system, but the majority of the routes we took were above-ground, through clean and pleasant little neighborhoods. It really was more like a trolly than a subway.

We obviously had to be pretty strategic about what and how much we tried to see, given our physical constraints, and it didn’t slip by us, as we went over the routes Nicole had planned out, that we probably were among the nerdier tourists that Boston gets. Ben with 64KB of RAMWhile I’m sure most people would prioritize a trip to Fenway Park, we decided only at the last minute, to jump off the train early on our way out of town so we could walk by the park. On the other hand, a visit to MIT was the first thing we did. Their “museum” was quite small, but included a few cerebral gems that made the trip worth it — plus it was warm inside, so we happily coughed up the admissions fee.
MIT is home to some of the most pioneering experiments in robotics and AI, and it was definitely a treat for me to get to see what people much smarter than me are doing (or have done, in the past) with technology. The picture here is Benjamin standing next to the 1950s equivalent of a RAM SIMM. A table-sized block of wires threaded together to store up to 64 KB of fast-page memory.

In fact, the whole trip was something of a nerdy/intellectual summit for me. The company office I was there to visit is home to some incredibly intelligent, albeit theoretical people, many of whom probably came from MIT or a similar institution. There were concepts floating like embers around that building that when they touched-down on your head would set your brain on fire with ideas.

It was exciting to be in Boston, and enjoying the scholastic and friendly atmosphere. And it was exciting to go for training on where our company is headed. And, although it added a few additional challenges, it was great having my family along. As proof, I offer this video of Benjamin. Its not his first experience with a lemon, but its certainly an amusing one — especially near the end…

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=-2496568595350904473&hl=en

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