Monday, February 25, 2008

A belated post about my recent trip to Boston, and more importantly, to WEBS

Alright. I'm sorry. My recent blogging, or lack thereof, has been an utter disaster. This is only my second post in February and the month is almost gone. Granted I was really really really busy and I had repeated health plagues, but still. And then I went to Boston for almost a week. I uploaded these photos last Thursday and I'm just now getting around to writing about them, which is pretty pathetic. I'm not so busy now and hopefully I'll get my blogging mojo back. But I see how people fall out of blogging. There's an inertia that arises from not posting, where you think, "Oh, I'll just do it tomorrow," but then tomorrow you can't be bothered, nor the next day, and you don't have much knitting to show off anyway, so you don't post. But, I'll do my best to not let down my public!

Right, apologies over with - let's talk about Boston! I went to Boston for the annual AAAS conference (this is the American Association for the Advancement of Science - try saying it three times fast). This isn't really a bench science meeting, it's much more about science policy and scientific issues. This year the theme was Science and Technology from a Global Perspective, and there were many symposia on global warming, global health, ocean contamination, energy policy, emerging green energy technology, etc. I loved it. I love science and I think we should all know more about it. But, I find my current research very focused (this is the whole point of graduate school - learning a lot about a very narrow subject) and I have broad interests. So for me this meeting was great because I got to learn about all sorts of interesting science that I wouldn't otherwise have been exposed to, and to meet some of the people who make the policies that shape how our nation deals with science. I went with FOSEP, the Forum on Science Ethics and Policy. We're a group of graduate students at the University of Washington that are concerned with science policy. We bring national speakers to campus to discuss current issues and encourage dialogue across campus, and we do some community outreach here in Seattle. Several of us went, including Anne-Marie, and we got a bunch of ideas for future seminar speakers, so the meeting was a success.
But, enough about that, probably you'd rather hear about Boston (or WEBS), so let's talk about that! We spent most of our time at the conference, although we did do some shopping (Thursday night when we arrived we had to jet to H&M because Alaska Airlines didn't feel like putting my bag on the DIRECT flight to Boston, and thus I needed to quickly acquire a new shirt). Although the conference technically didn't end until Monday at noon, Monday morning found Anne-Marie and I at Enterprise renting a car for our jaunt to Webs. As soon as we knew we were going to Boston we decided we really should make a pilgrimage, even though Webs is in Northampton, over 100 miles away. But, if you've already come all the way from Seattle, 100 miles is nothing, right? So off we went, through the pouring rain, driving wind, fog, and a mishap with a toll booth, to the yarn mecca of the United States. And we were not disappointed. Here's a shot of Anne-Marie in the back room, where all the deals are:Note smile and empty basket. The smile widened and the bag filled as we proceeded around the stacks. The front of the store was also impressive. I didn't think their base prices were that great, but they have a discount program that makes them quite a bargain if you're buying more than a couple of skeins (which of course I did). And, no sales tax in MA! They have such a huge variety. I wanted to take pictures but I wasn't sure if that was allowed, and anyway I was just too overwhelmed. Here's what we bought (this includes another trip to H&M, so those bags aren't all full of yarn, and our little car.

We had a little trouble getting all that yarn back on the plane. Thankfully Anne-Marie brought an extra bag and we were able to jam it all in there. If you ever get a chance to go to Webs, you really must. It's great, and the people were really friendly. And they have good pizza in Northampton, if you need a further reason to be there. And no, I'm not going to show you what I bought, because I don't want to frighten my relations. Actually I didn't buy that much - it could have been worse. If you're on Ravelry you can see that I uploaded a bunch of new stash - that was all of it. There were two bags of Hempathy (summer tops, light sweaters), a bag of Classic Al (lovely red) and some other assorted skeins for scarves and fair-isle projects. Between us we definitely paid for the rental car and gas with the money we saved, so it was a success.

But it wasn't all science and yarn, we did see some of Boston proper. On Tuesday we walked a good chunk (to the Charles River) of the Freedom Trail, which winds through many of Boston's historic sights. It's very easy to follow as they've painted, or bricked, a red line on the sidewalk that you follow blindly, and which occasionally has markers like these, in case you are confused about what you're doing: The Massachusetts state capital building is quite impressive:

Boston has a lot of history, being one of the oldest cities in the country, so there was plenty of old stuff to be seen, like this cemetery in the North End and Paul Revere's house, from which he set off to warn everyone that the British were coming.

And we saw other things as well, like Harvard Square in Cambridge, and Boston Common, and the waterfront. Boston isn't really that big, you can walk around most of it without too much effort and see a lot fairly quickly. We also drove around a bit when we got back from Webs, and the Boston drivers were NOT as crazy as I expected. Then again, I am an aggressive driver so perhaps I just fit right in? And it was a holiday, so maybe everyone was subdued. We had a lot of good food, including great Italian. Seattle is not a city that has good simple Italian. It's all fancy and expensive and I just want some pasta and good homemade red sauce. I'm spoiled because in Erie where I grew up there is great Italian food, and in Chicago as well, but out here, nada. But I digress.

I loved Boston. I always thought it would be my kind of city, although I'd never been there, and it was great. The people are friendly but they're aware of their surroundings and they walk quickly (people in Seattle amble and take forever to make left turns driving, which makes me insane). They drive fast and get where they're going, which I appreciate (see previous paratheneses). And they have good food, good yarn (well, close-by, although we went to Windsor Button and it was pretty good), and, and I can't stress this enough, everyone we talked to was really friendly. It has been my observation in several East Coast cities that shall remain nameless, that unfriendliness, if not outright hostility, reigns supreme, but Boston was not like that. Plus, there are so many universities, museums, theaters, etc, there that it seems like a larger city (Boston is smaller than Seattle, which surprised me). I'm actively looking for where I want to do my post-doctoral research, and Boston is now high on the list. While I love Seattle I would really like to be closer to my family and I could always come back here. We'll see. I'm sure I'll keep you posted!

Okay, that was a saga of a post. I have other stuff to talk about but I'll save it for later! Hope you're all well, and I'll try not to disappear for as long again, at least for awhile...


KarenJoSeattle said...

We go to Cambridge every few years. I need to plan an out-of-town jaunt the next time, huh?

I assume you now about the weekly magazine Science News? And have you tried Machiavelli's on Capitol Hill? I haven't but several people I know rave about it for good, old fashioned Italian.

Anonymous said...

Emily, About time but worth the wait. Only two of the pictures (sites) opened for me. I will try again later because I am the relation who wants to "see" the bags. love, mom

Anne-Marie said...

Great post!
And even a FOSEP plug... ;)

bookwoman said...

As someone who has visited Boston as a pedestrian, I can say that if you didn't think the drivers were crazy, it just means you fit in. Sounds like a fun trip. We're heading up to that area this summer. Maybe I can talk the Geek Boy into going to Webs.