Will play piano for G&Ts.

I meant to use this as my profile photo; however, the interface seems to have a problem recognizing the photo URL (claims it cannot find it). This was from playing piano at Crack and Joslyn's wedding.


Boston You're My Home

OK, admittedly, that's Cambridge in the photo. Anyway.

I’m getting to spend a wonderful decompression and relaxation period of almost two weeks here in Boston. Many thanks for all of you who got to hang out with me; it was awesome seeing all of you. The photo above is a snapshot I took at Porter Square Station—it’s a great demonstration of what I consider quick indicators that I will like a city: public art and public transportation. Out of curiosity, I looked up the wind sculpture outside the station: it is Gift of the Wind by Susumu Shingu (1983).

As is probably obvious from my roundness, I love food. Especially good food in familiar places that I know and love. So a big part of this trip has been to go to some of my favorite restaurants around town with friends. Here’s my list: if any of you are non-Bostonians and/or are unfamiliar with these places, I give all of them a strong recommendation.
  • Brehznev’s (a.k.a. King Fung Garden; Chinatown)
  • Cambridge Brewing Company (Kendall Square; their beer is great; food is ok)
  • Chang Sho (Mass Ave between Harvard and Porter—excellent classy Chinese)
  • Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers (Harvard Square)
  • Bombay Classic Indian Cuisine (Arlington Center)
  • Diva Indian Bistro (Davis Square)
  • Redbones (Davis Square; note—sadly, their new Texas chili is not worth it—mostly watery beef stew)
  • Anna’s Taqueria (Porter Square; side note—there was a great New York Times article about a writer homesick for Boston coming up to town on the Fung Wah bus just to have a super burrito at Anna’s (A Shuttle Between Chinatowns)
  • 1369 Coffeehouse (Central Square)
  • Emma’s Pizza (Kendall Square)
  • Toscanini’s Ice Cream (Central Square)
  • Ramen noodles at Porter Exchange (Japanese food court)
  • Mary Chung’s (Central Square)
  • Helmand (Lechmere/Cambridgeside Galleria area)
Of course, there are always new places to explore. I had dinner at a restaurant called Sauce (in Davis Square)—they serve small appetizers to share; kinda tapas-style presentation. It opened only recently; there was about a 10-minute wait on a Tuesday evening. It was definitely a good “impress the date” kind of place (excellent atmosphere; I liked the design)—and (more importantly) very tasty. Their butternut risotto kicks some ass: butternut, sage, and bacon… what a great combination of flavors.

I also went to the Grafton Street Pub and Grill in Harvard Square, where the Bow and Arrow used to be. Can’t say it’s a strong recommendation—we sent back the appetizer plate of mussels: they had definitely seen better days. It’s another reason to heed Anthony Bourdain’s warning from Kitchen Confidential to avoid seafood on Mondays.

In addition to eating, here are some other items that I’ve done during this visit that reflect the fact that Boston is my home, and will be the place I will be coming back to in two years, if my life manages to go as planned:
  • Did laundry at the Roost using my own detergent (a box of Seventh Generation brand suds that I left behind when I moved out)
  • Went to the optometrist to update the prescription in my safety glasses—I just had to tell them, “Look up my file, and make these glasses match what I’m wearing now.”
  • Went to the Cambridge Public Library outside of Harvard Square; took out a book (Jonathan Franzen), and even got a new library card.
  • Sent out a round of postcards from Boston—hey, I’m actually a visitor here now!
  • Rode the Red Line from one end to the other (Braintree to Alewife). (No, I wasn’t exhibiting some variety of obsessive-compulsive disorder here; I was just getting back to Cambridge from Weymouth).
  • Sent out Christmas cards—after this semester, it was really nice to know that I have no pressing priorities greater than writing up cards to my friends.
Well, I'm heading down to New York on Friday, to see my folks (on Long Island), and to hang out with various people in the city. Bird and Jen are giving me a ride down to NY; I'm planning on meeting up with Probe and Becca there.

Anyway, happy holidays to everyone, and a safe and happy New Year!


Made it out alive

Well, I survived the term, and made it down to Florida for my conference. Weather forecast for the next few days is highs in the low 80's. Picture above is a shot I took while wading on the beach. If it makes you feel any better, my root canal still hurts.

I don't think I really believed that I was done until I made it out of the airport in Tampa. But I'm done. I'm way done.

I'll be back in Boston (for real) on Sunday! (I'm actually flying in on Thursday, but I'm doing work stuff on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). Call me if you want to get together--I've set up my 617 VoIP line to forward to my cell phone (or email).


Hollowed out like a canoe

As I was pondering my impending root canal treatment, I envisioned the following imaginary dialog between the Devil and myself:

Devil: Well, I’ll give you a choice here, lad. You can either finish up this semester, or have a root canal.

Me: Hmm. Maybe I’ll go for the root canal.

Devil: Mwahaha! Why, I’ll let you have both! Because I’m just that way.

Me: Buuuuh… hey, wait!!

[Devil takes my twenty dollar bill and vanishes in the air. Fucker.]

Actually, the procedure wasn’t that bad—not too painful. There were some bad moments—-like listening to the crunching sound of hypodermic needle being pushed into my gums to apply anesthetic. And feeling something inserted way deep (20 mm) into my jaw, to the bottom of the root canal. And swallowing the spilled-over bleach they were using as an antiseptic in the tooth opening. This was in spite of them using a dental dam (with a collar around the tooth) to limit the amount of antiseptic that got into my mouth. Incidentally, this is the first time I had actually heard or seen a dental dam being used for a… well… dental purpose. I’ve usually heard of them in their context as a prophylactic device.

The dentist was a relatively young guy; he seemed happy to chat and indulge my geekiness and interest in the procedure and dentistry in general. Before I my first consultation, I did a fair amount of web reading on root canal treatments—-if for nothing else, to keep my mind off the pain. So I tipped my hand early on—"Based on what I'm experiencing, it sounds like its time for RCT, right?” Also mentioned that I was doing engineering at UW--as a result, he spoke to my level. We talked about the shearing forces being the deciding factor on using or not using a post when installing a crown.

Although the tooth was blindingly painful over the previous weekend (as in: sip some water on the far side of my mouth and bang my head against the wall in response to the pain), it was a lot less sensitive the past few days. My understanding, based on web reading, is that this was the nerve dying: “Okay, so you’re not going to listen? Fine. I’ve had it. Piss off. See how you do on your own now. My half of the rent is on the fridge.” This was confirmed during the drilling-—there was a lack of bleeding when they opened it up, which is a sign of a necrotic tooth.

So now, I’ve got a manhole sized filling (okay, it’s about 8 mm in diameter, but compared to the size of the tooth, it’s friggin’ huge) in my back molar. The plan is to get it replaced with a crown: grad students might be getting dental coverage next term—I’ll wait to hear word on that.

The aftereffects of the sedative were not that bad. I was fully expecting to walk out of there sounding like John Merrick (“Aigh Emm Nawt en Aanimuh! Aigh Emm a Humann Beein!”) (Okay, I admit, that's a steal from Naked Gun). It was interesting to find that, I assume, a specific nerve was sedated—there was a band of numbness only on the left side of my head to the centerline—jaw, tongue, lips, up the cheek—but not the upper jaw. The nervous system is like wiring; you can just trip the breaker for specific circuits. Well, I guess it did have some real effects. As I was walking down the street, I hawked up some spit to get rid of the residual bleach taste, and it mostly dribbled down my coat. Yeah, that looked cool.

So now… well… it hurts about the same that it did this morning—a bit of throbbing, and sensitivity to pressure. Okay, so if we just cored out all the living guts of the tooth, why the heck does it still hurt?

As an update to my progress for the semester: my 20-page term paper is done, backed up on two spindles, and I’m planning on printing it this evening. Need to finish the lab report, then this semester is in the can.