Change one thing

This weekend at the New Leaders Council Institute, I was charged with giving a moving two minute speech on the topic of “change one thing.”  It made me think not only of the big picture things I want to change in the world (inequality, racism, hate, etc.) but also about all the little things I would do differently if I was in charge of the world. Here’s my top eight* list for today – what would be on yours?

  1. Lego Friends – This is what I actually said in our class this weekend.  I believe that Lego Friends embodies pretty much everything that is wrong with our country in terms of sexism.  Girls were playing with Legos before, and they’ll keep playing with them now – by creating a separate product of building blocks that are pinks and pastels, we’re drawing a line and establishing boy toys and girl toys in one of the VERY few areas where this wasn’t already black and white.  Please, for the love of all that is gender  neutral, listen to the little girls and boys who are writing to you and go back to the drawing board on this one.
  2. Its – Look, I get what we’re trying to do here, differentiating between the contraction it is and that which belongs to it, but I’m tired of these shenanigans.  Give the damn second meaning an apostrophe already so it can match basically every other possessive version of anything.
  3. The hours of the T – Attention city planners: we didn’t move to Boston because we wanted to end our nights out in time to catch the last train at 12:30.  We came here because we wanted to be young and enjoy the good life, but you’re cutting our fun short with these ridiculous timetables and silly roads that make a 5-mile cab ride cost $35.  Since I doubt we’re going to build more efficient roads, can we please get some leniency with the weekend hours on the T?  Even just by an hour or two?
  4. Cover charges – Please go away.  That is all.
  5. The prevalence of pomegranate – This is being phased out, thank goodness, but the sooner the better!  I’m allergic and I’m sick of having to stay away from shampoos, dressings, and delicious looking drinks.  I’m ready for the next big thing, and hopefully this one won’t make me break out in hives.
  6. eBooks – It has finally happened that someone offered to lend me a book… on my non-existent Kindle.  I think that the more reading, the better in general, but the hard truth is that unless the other person has the same technology, you can’t share books this way, and that breaks my little bibliophile heart right in half.  Paper, please?
  7. The return of common decency – I want to see this happen, STAT.  It shouldn’t be ok to call a woman a “slut” or “prostitute” – whether she’s a waitress who pisses you off OR a 3L at Georgetown law who wanted to talk about the need for contraception coverage in the health care amendments.  We need to all come together and remind people – and ourselves – that this is inappropriate and we can be better than that.  Also, stand up for old people on the T and cover your mouth when you sneeze, please!
  8. The lack of Food network at BSC – It’s minor, but the only regret I had in finally leaving Planet Fitness for Boston Sports Club (in all their pool-and-spinning-class glory) was that PF got the Food Network and BSC does not, which means the end to my dinner adventure inspiration.  Instead, I’m always going to want a beer at MacLarens like in How I Met Your Mother.
This list is far from complete (see below) but it’s still nice to get these little wishes off my chest in case I meet a mini-genie one day.  Never say never!  And Lego – you can expect to hear from me soon.

*Hate imperfectly numbered lists?  Send me your top ideas and maybe I’ll adopt two more!

Music Monday: One day more

… until Katie and I go see Les Mis!

This will be our third time seeing the show together, not counting the O2 televised version and the 4 shows we put on in high school, and I get more excited each time.  I’m a bit nervous because I hear that when it was restaged, they took away the turntable component (gaspshockawe) but I’m sure it will still be a fabulous show.  I’ll give you my review later this week!

Winter Weekend Win

20-degree perfection!

Not pictured: brownies that are cooling in the kitchen, the roommate who will watch very silly Christmas movies with me, and the cute boyfriend who came to cheer on us Jingle Bell Runners.

After finishing the Jingle Bell Run 5k.

Our neighbor's amazing light display. Holiday cheer huzzah!

Delicious risotto for dinner - recipe to come!

Whale poop and the meaning of life

You read that right.  Last week, I took my nerdiness to a whole new level when I willingly joined my friend Jessica for a lecture about whale poop.

Yes, it’s a thing.  It’s orange, it floats, and it stinks to high heaven (when it comes from a right back whale).  And it’s freaking amazing.

I never thought I could sit for an hour to hear someone talk about poop, but the scientist who spoke to us (Dr. Kathleen Hunt) was incredible.  Here’s a strong, smart woman, leading the way in scientific discoveries via POOP.  Can it get any better than that?  Here’s a crash course on why whale poop is so fabulous:

  • Mammal poop carries a ton of hormone information, and can tell scientists all about estrogen, testosterone, an animal’s reproductive status, and their stress levels.
  • Poop is a much better indicator of stress levels than blood samples, because taking blood always stresses animals out (how could it not?) while poop gives you an indicator of how what an animal’s hormone levels were like 1-2 days earlier.  This rocked my world.  Because of this, poop is better than blood.
  • Another earth-shaker – blood tests aren’t even an option for whales, since no great whales live in captivity (and you can’t trap a live whale for tests).  This is obviously true, but still crazy to think about.
  • The whale poop we talked about (from the right back whale) is actually collected by going near where the whale surfaced and scooping it up with a net.  Dogs can help with the search, as they can smell the foul stuff a nautical mile away.
  • Some animals are always a little bit high-strung (just like people!).  More on this later…
  • Not all stress is bad.  Mating is stressful, and being pregnant is stressful on your body, but you can adapt to those and other natural stress.  It’s the unexplained stress that you have to be careful about.

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Lights, camera… Boston!

My life has been feeling a little more glamorous lately.  It may be my snazzy new haircut or the glow I get from running through the park at my 7:00 (AM!) boot camp, but I think I also owe a little bit of it to Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Bacon.

These boys, and good old Jeff Bridges (sorry dude – you were neither my Footloose hunk nor my 2 Guys, a Girl, and  Pizza Place crush) are getting ready to film a movie right across the street from our little old office in downtown crossing, Boston!  Just beyond the now-barren Borders (wah) they’re doing work on buildings, including the one right under us, and getting ready to film a new movie starting tomorrow R.I.P.D.

I learned all this from the very helpful workman who gave out waaaay more information than he was supposed to – maybe he was excited about Ryan’s arrival, too.  Though even before we had the specifics, we knew something was fishy when the convenience store across the street suddenly (and I mean in less than 24 hours) looked like this:

Um, hello 2011?  I may have a record player, but I know no one is stupid enough to open a VCR repair shop where a bustling convenience store used to be.  Now this one, on the opposite side of the street is more believable, especially in this economy:

See that white building, to the right of the green awning?  That’s my entry way to the office.  Yep.  I;m practically a part of the set – and now I have a much better incentive to get up and stroll into that part of the office between my bajillion meetings.  Just to show my dorky side, I want to say that I love that they’re consistent with the building numbering – this really is 25 Milk Street.  Now, I’m trying to decide if it would be acceptable to create a Yelp! account for this fictitious (but documented!) locale.

This is the best celebrity dorkiness I’ve enjoyed since I attended that Wheel of Fortune taping.  I’m loving every minute of it, even before the stars show up.  I’m out of town for tomorrow’s taping, but I hope to catch them later.  Have you run into these dudes or any other celebrities in Beantown lately (or elsewhere)?  Spill!

Journey to the center of the earth

Yeah, that’s right.  I did it, and I came out on the other side (literally).

Nolan and I recently made us of my Mapparium Buy With Me right before it expired, and got to walk inside and hear about this old stained glass dome.  We got there right before the tour started so we didn’t get to explore the entire exhibit, but we did get to walk inside the three story tall stained glass dome at the Mary Baker Eddy Library.  This map is the only place on the world where you can see the north pole and the south pole at the same time. Trippy, right?  Supposedly, it’s the only way to see the distance of countries from each other on the world’s surface, but I find this claim misleading because the countries are backward – from the center of the earth, facing the US, Europe is to the right of North America, but if I was really inside the earth, it should be on my left… right?  The distances might be accurate, but the directions are off.

The maps on this globe haven’t been updated since it was created in 1935.  On the tour, they said that there are 65 new countries that have been formed since this map was made.  However, we were there on the actual day South Sudan became a country (Kat, you ready to learn a new country yet?), so it’s really 66 now.  It includes places like Siam, the USSR, and a bunch of African countries with colonial names.

Overall, definitely worth $6 on a hot afternoon.  A word to the weak and weary though – when they say that sound in this dome projects, they mean it for real.  It felt like every person was whispering right in my ear – and then when the baby on our tour started crying, it rang through my head like there were 10 of her.  We scurried out after that, hence, no pictures.

But here’s me in front of the Christian Science Church, where we saw one of the world’s largest organs (over 13,000 pipes!!), toured the really interesting architecture, and got a cool tour from a church member.   I’d actually recommend the (free) church tour almost more than the Mapparium, though you have to go in with an open mind because while no one will actively try to convert you, they will almost certainly share their stories of how they were healed.   The history and architecture makes it worth it, though.   I had no clue until this that the Christian Scientists have no clergy, but it’s a shame people can’t get married here, because the building is gorgeous (also air conditioned, which is a plus for hot days).  If you go, let me know what you think!

The Boston Song

If you haven’t heard “The Boston Song” yet, I’m pleased to make the introduction.  This video makes me so happy about my second city, my non-New Hampshire home.  (My good old Granite State has been commemorated in its own song series, here.)  It is heartfelt, touches on all the places that make up my life here, and includes my favorite part of Red Sox games – that moment where you get to stand up and yell “so good, SO GOOD!”

Because if that – screaming fans drinking $7 beers in the wind, rain, and blazing sun – isn’t Boston, what is?

What’s your favorite part of this video?  Are you a fan of the ducklings?  The break dancing at Quincy Market?  The fact that they’ve obviously been filming this for months, since it includes the marathon?  Love the bit at 2:30 (watch and see, political friends)?

Check and check

There’s something ultra satisfying about checking things off a list.  Digging in that pen (or mouse) and saying “I OWNED YOU.”  Or just “one more done!” if that’s more your style.

When I started listing out my Five Year Plan, I knew most of the items were a reach, even the ones that seem easy (there is no good way to cook a chicken in our stupid erratic oven.  Allie, help!).  But I also knew it would be fun to accomplish them, to know I could come back here and cross them off, and add new challenges to the list.

I was just looking at another blog I used, back in the day, and found this list of things I wanted to do in Boston.  I haven’t seen it since I posted it in the summer of 2009, so I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made!  It’s nice to see that I really am living the life I set out for myself.  There are even a few things on there – the Mapparium, a tour of the statehouse, and the swan boats, for two – that I didn’t list there, but did care a lot about and recently checked off my internal list (more on that later).

Which of these things have you done?

Boston To-Do List (circa 2009)

  1. Take a tour of Fenway Park
  2. Have drinks at the Top of the Hub (done! went with the NH gang)
  3. Visit Bunker Hill (done! and climbed all 294 steps – phew!)
  4. Go on the USS Constitution (done! Hit my head coming up from below deck, swung in a hammock, had a grand old time.)
  5. See the Boston Pops (July 4, 2010 – double whammy!)
  6. Watch the fireworks over the Charles (see above!)
  7. Volunteer for the Boston Marathon (done! cheered on runners as part the Dana-Farber team in 2010)
  8. Go out to the Boston Harbor Islands (done! gone three times now)
  9. Skate at the Frog Pond
  10. Walk the Freedom Trail
  11. Cheer on MoHos at the Head of the Charles (done! – and even better, I got to cheer alongside my former teammates, some of whom are the best people I met at college)
  12. Host an awesome Oscar party (done! the red carpet stayed down for more than a month.  I think that says it all.)
  13. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity (not as easy as it sounded)
  14. Take a dance class (does a salsa lesson count?)

And now, on to the next challenge – just as soon as I decide what it is.