Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yankees Fans Like Boston

No lightning as this Yankees fan touches the Green Monster
Fenway Park, Boston
June 3, 2011

There are an awful lot of Yankees fans in Boston. I see them when the Yankees play. We have a sort of underground code involving head bobs, hand gestures and other methods of acknowledgement when Yankees on the field do good things.

We live in Boston because we like it here. Shocker I know. Seven months out of the year-- from April until October-- we are derided by those who know us and our allegiance. I have had beer spilled on me, I have been laughed at countless times, and the number of creative Evil Empire references I have heard is priceless. We are reminded that we are the enemy every day. Yet we are still here, meaning we must not just like Boston; we gotta LOVE Boston.

One of my favorite parts about Boston is Fenway Park. Yes, I love watching a game there. I love the charm of a stadium built when stadiums had to battle for land versus train tracks and highway right-of-ways, and ultimately lose (hence the Green Monster). I love sitting in right field and being oriented so as looking straight ahead means you look at the Green Monster, and you need to kink your neck to the left to see the pitcher. I love sitting in seats that are way too small. I love drinking beer before the game on Yawkey Way.

I like Fenway because it really is so welcoming. Driving home from work each night (I work in Waltham and live downtown), I pass under Brookline Avenue and immediately to the left of the park on the Mass. Turnpike. Hoards of fans pass over me. The lights of Fenway on on a warm summer evening. There is nothing more inviting.

Truth be told, Boston is a welcoming city with a welcoming skyline. I see it quote often landing at Logan airport. I hope the wind is out of the north, so the plane will land on runway 4. Out the left side of the plane is a breathtaking view of downtown.

Rivalry aside, the residents of Boston (Yankee fans and Red Sox fans) all share the same concerns. We all want the same things from our elected officials. We all hope of raising families, providing a good education to our kids. In return for receiving those things, we give back to our communities.

And we all love to watch baseball.

I often say it takes a special type of Yankees fan to live in Boston. Each spring I call Comcast, my cable provider, and request that they add the YES network to the lineup (for those not familiar, YES carries the majority of Yankees games). Typically, the attendant has a nice insult-- or worse-- to throw back at me.

One year, I pleaded my case. "You know, there are a lot of Yankee fans in Boston."

The attendant's reply: "Well, there are a lot of Red Sox fans, too."

A special type of Yankees fan lives in Boston? It's perhaps better stated that it takes a special type of city to be welcoming to fans of its dreaded rival. The lights of Fenway, the skyline, the restaurants and bars... they are welcoming even to me. But don't worry, I am almost always at home, locked away, when the Yankees and Red Sox face off. I know not to push my luck.

Monday, July 25, 2011

An Ode to Apple

My Apple collection over morning coffee (photo taken by my iPhone)
South Lyme, Conn.
July 25, 2011

After a very convincing argument from friend and high-tech entrepreneur Doug Levin, I bought an Apple iPad a few weeks ago. Now, I am not going to say that "it changed my life" forever, especially considering I am still reeling at the amount I paid-- considering the accessories for which I splurged, but the iPad is a pretty amazing little device.

The iPad has become my media center. I have signed up for a digital New York Times subscription. I also use it to ready the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, the New Yorker and Sports Illustrated. I love the CNN app, which cleverly combines video and text, along with the CNN radio hourly update, in a way that complements my other news sources.

I am connected into my MobileMe account through the gallery and idisk applications, allowing me to view documents on the iPad as part of both professional and personal pursuits. I often surf for videos on the iPad and then use the built in sharing feature to watch on my television, channeling the Apple TV box I bought this spring.

I am now fully hooked into the consumerization of IT trend. I use the iPad to check work email. The touch-pad keyboard is a bit clunky, but it is way better than the interface on the iPhone.

Yes, I also have an iPhone, and I am typing this post on my MacBook. I am a big supporter of Apple, both financially and through word of mouth. There was a day earlier in July where I bought a new iPhone, the iPad and a Shuffle within three hours (from two different stores). So I probably new ahead of time that Apple's earnings would be phenomenal.

I will say one thing that I have proven-- the iPhone and iPad do balance out a use of a laptop. It is true that the web surfing and email checking I do on the phone and the iPad I can do on my laptop. The cynics make this argument nicely, especially related to the iPad, as at least the iPhone serves a mobile purpose. It would be hard to carry the iPad everywhere to check email.

On the whole, however, the iPad and iPhone have cut down my laptop use dramatically. The overwhelming majority of my computer use involves simple tasks that are easily done by the devices. Checking email. Looking up the Yankees score. Investigating something on Wikipedia. Laptop not necessary.

So hats off to Steve Jobs. He truly is the computer genius of our time. And certainly I worry about Apple's founder as well, given his illness. The last time Steve stepped away from the helm of Apple, the product line suffered. I know from personal experience.

I bought my first Apple product in 1994, when I moved to Boston to go to Boston University. I pooled together a lot of money and bought a Powerbook 150 laptop and a printer. It was a big deal that the computer had a modem; at the time, "dialing-in" to BU's campus network to check this thing called email was bleeding-edge stuff.

I still have the Powerbook 150. That sucker survived years of college pounding, numerous term papers, and a three-month jaunt to Washington during my semester there in 1996.

My brother Scott was so impressed by it that he ran out to the local computer store and bought his town Apple laptop. Except something had happened in the delta between my purchase and his. Steve Jobs had left Apple.

My brother's machine, was, to put it nicely, a piece of crap. It crashed all the time, and it froze when it didn't crash. He had a color screen that never really looked right. He hated it.

Steve Jobs Apple products and non-Steve Jobs apple products are the difference between the iPad and the iCrap.

For now, at least, I am enjoying my Apple-powered life.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Celebrating Independence... On July 3rd

Since 1996, my parents and I have watched a 4th of July concert on the Esplanade in Boston the night before Independence Day. Back in 1996, it was a little known secret that the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra would rehearse on July 3rd, a final prep before the famous concert held during the evening of July 4th.

After 16 years, we have the rehearsal concert down to a science. We make the commitment to show up first in line so we can be right up front for the show. Since we're camped out for so long, interesting stuff happens. Last night, one of the performers, Norm Lewis, came to visit the spectators.

Norm Lewis on the Esplanade
July 3, 2011

Amazingly enough, I am posting this video before Lewis even has a chance to perform during the "actual" performance on July 4th. I guess you can call the above a rehearsal ahead of the rehearsal.