Saturday, September 19, 2009

Scouting for accommodation in Boston

Boston seems a lot nicer once you get to Cambridge. On my last visit, I had an interview at Harvard and I was in and out real quick. Red line, silver line, Logan, Albany, not much to see and touch. This time I actually got to experience Boston. From the daily commute (I was staying in Natick with a friend, 45 min to South Station) to the peripheral neighborhoods (Quincy, Medford etc.) I tried everything. Back Bay is really nice with its fancy old boulevards and close to most things. The MIT/Kendall area suffers tremendously in terms of image since (I assume) it was (and still is, to some extent) a crowded former industrial area of Cambridge. Still, you read in the local papers how much is coming up these days. So no surprise, here I found some really bad and pricey prices (amazingly contradictory!). Getting the weekly Charlie pass helps so much to move around Boston. Just tap or slide and your problems are over. Worthwhile even for my three and a half days in Boston. Speaking of transport, this time, Megabus was a trully inspired choice. That even after they’ve change the schedule on me (on the same day I got an email that my bus is going to leave earlier from NYC); I was already on my way to NYC, so there was nothing to do but to wait for the next one. Being among the first on the ten people line in the middle of the week has its perks, beside the awesome price ($5 one way)…talking about the table with 4 chairs facing each other that helps with your overheating lap from the laptop usage. Obviously, free wireless and plugs get their fair share of appreciation. My adventure in searching for a place was indeed as the MIT housing website and person responsible coined it: “you will see everything from the bad, ugly and even weird”. And I did. Started with some mixed apartments in the Watertown; I really liked the area, also quick access to Harvard Sq. via fast buses (73 and 71 lines). Remained an option until the last day. Then scouted a bit of the Cambridge/Kendall area, Central Square and Lechmere. Not good. Overprices. Shady. Didn’t enjoy but still part of the overall experience. Finally, made my way to the popular (among students) Somerville: Davis Square was really nice, and I saw great places close to Teele Square. Hope started to emerge and once you have a back-up, I started brainstorming about a decision, although on the third day I managed to see some more places in Somerville, Cambridge and even Quincy area, after a long T ride and walk in the neighborhood. Some practical advices: 1. Get there on weekdays (people are at home and you can maximize better the search days if you include weekends). 2 Do zones (e.g. Somerville in one day; Cambridge the other, etc); 3. Go beyond the common newbie naivity (I want a place near Harvard or MIT): the red T line works flawlessly (especially off peak hours; otherwise, it’s not that peachy); Cambridge has bike lanes which is great; plus, MTBA trains are working great either from the South Station or the Back Bay one; finally, having your personal car gets you even further (suburbs, etc) although the costs might be pretty high in the Boston area…so leave it outside. 4. Check out the sites of universities for adds (I did Berklee and MIT, ask for help from friends etc) besides the main source (craigslist, for me). Many times I felt that the landlords were interviewing me before showing me the house. Obviously coming to MIT gets many eyes rolling (for appreciation, I hope) so flash your credentials to them, make them work. Finally, act relaxed but interested, even if you’re not. Being polite brings a lot. Your purpose is to find a place but nasty-ness you will not bring you closer to your final goal. Just be patient, persistent and SMART. You will get there.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Magical 09/09/09

Yes, it is magical. and yes, it is today. Article on Yahoo:Modern numerologists - who operate outside the realm of real science - believe that mystical significance or vibrations can be assigned to each numeral one through nine, and different combinations of the digits produce tangible results in life depending on their application. As the final numeral, the number nine holds special rank. It is associated with forgiveness, compassion and success on the positive side as well as arrogance and self-righteousness on the negative, according to numerologists. Though usually discredited as bogus, numerologists do have a famous predecessor to look to. Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician and father of the famous theorem, is also credited with popularizing numerology in ancient times. "Pythagoras most of all seems to have honored and advanced the study concerned with numbers, having taken it away from the use of merchants and likening all things to numbers," wrote Aristoxenus, an ancient Greek historian, in the 4th century B.C. As part of his obsession with numbers both mathematically and divine, and like many mathematicians before and since, Pythagoras noted that nine in particular had many unique properties. Any grade-schooler could tell you, for example, that the sum of the two-digits resulting from nine multiplied by any other single-digit number will equal nine. So 9x3=27, and 2+7=9. Multiply nine by any two, three or four-digit number and the sums of those will also break down to nine. For example: 9x62 = 558; 5+5+8=18; 1+8=9. Sept. 9 also happens to be the 252nd day of the year (2 + 5 +2)...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Tarahumara - Born to Run

The Tarahumara are an indigenous people of northern Mexico and are renowned for their long-distance running ability. Originally inhabitants of much of the state of Chihuahua, the Tarahumara retreated to the Copper Canyon in the Sierra Madre Occidental on the arrival of Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century. The area of the Sierra Madre Occidental which they now inhabit is often called the Sierra Tarahumara because of their presence.
Current estimates put the population of the Tarahumara in 2006 at between 50,000 and 70,000 people. Most still practice a traditional lifestyle, inhabiting natural shelters such as caves or cliff overhangs, as well as small cabins of wood or stone. Staple crops are corn and beans; however, many of the Tarahumara still practice transhumance, raising cattle, sheep, and goats. Almost all Tarahumara migrate in some form or another in the course of the year. The Tarahumara language belongs to the Uto-Aztecan family. Although it is in decline under pressure from Spanish, it is still widely spoken.(Source: Wikipedia)