Sunday, September 18, 2011

Running to the beat

The weather was nice and the turnout was strong at this morning's ZUMIX Run to the Beat 5K in East Boston. Here are some photos from the race.

Eastie resident Steve Holt prepares to ride the lead cycle.

The runners are off!

As she nears the finish, Cheryl Conte passes a group of ZUMIX members keeping the beat.

Runners cross the finish line.
After conquering the course, runners grab some fruit and water at Piers Park.

ZUMIX 5K Sunday at Piers Park

Come experience the race hundreds raved about last year – the second annual ZUMIX Run to the Beat 5K. Once again, we’re running for ZUMIX, one of the city’s beloved music and arts nonprofits. We’ll start and finish in East Boston’s magnificent Piers Park, which offers expansive views of our city’s historic skyline and harbor that can only be described as … stunning. In between, enjoy our flat, fast course along Eastie’s wooded Greenway and two magnificent new parks. We’ve got prizes for the fastest runners, live music along the course, free food, and plenty of other goodies and giveaways. Whether you’re running for time, fitness, charity, or all of the above, you won’t want to miss this fun-filled event.

Do you hear the beat? Lace ’em up — let’s run.

Online Registration:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where I was on 9/11

Oddly enough, I was in Carlisle, a town about 25 miles northwest of Boston, during the 9/11 terror attacks. I had taken a new job that year and was getting ready for my last day of training at a beautiful facility off a rural road. When I pulled into the parking lot a young guy who was also being trained asked if I'd heard that a plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers. I hadn't. My radio must have been off during the drive, probably because it was such a beautiful day and I'd rolled the windows down to feel the fresh country air and didn't want any unnatural sounds to disturb the moment.

We went inside and were joined by the others, maybe seven trainees and our instructor. Moments later someone from the facility stuck their head in and told us about the second plane. Of course, everyone knew what that meant. I think we went back into the lobby to watch the news coverage for a bit, then went back to start our training. We stopped a couple times to decide whether or not to continue on -- especially after the towers fell -- but decided that we'd rush through and get out as soon as possible. A television was wheeled in for a bit and we kept tabs on what was happening, and we did break so that everybody could call their loved ones, and I knew I'd better call my mother or she'd be worried sick. 

The training over, we went our separate ways, and I never saw any of those people again. We'd be working for the same organization, but at different facilities, and I've always felt it strange that I spent the most awful moments of my country's recent history in a place I didn't know very well with people I didn't know very well.

And stranger still, I drove back not to East Boston, but to Somerville, where I had moved just 11 days earlier. I had two roommates and one of them was sitting on the front stairs, crying, when I got home. I barely knew her, but Paula's fiance was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles from Logan Airport on business that morning. She had, just before I arrived, found out that he was not on either of the LA-bound planes that had been hijacked, but on a different flight and was, therefore, fine. I consoled her as best I could, and then went inside to put on the TV and my computer, so I could finally get connected to the information stream -- something I like to do during important events.

The next morning I went out early to get copies of The Globe, The Herald and The New York Times. I'd always saved historically significant newspapers and I needed to add editions from Sept. 12 to my collection.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eastie remembers 9/11

East Boston will commemorate the victims of 9/11 at Piers Park on Sunday afternoon, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. According to, the event will include:
...appearances by local police and firefighters, presentation of the colors by the East Boston High School ROTC, patriotic songs sung by a women’s group from the East Boston YMCA, a poem read by a Meridian House resident, and an invocation and benediction by Brother Bob Metell...
 (The memorial will be followed by Zumix's annual Harvest Festival, featuring music, games and food.)

American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 both took off from East Boston's Logan Airport on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and each was hijacked and flown into one of the two towers of the World Trade Center a short while later. The Globe ran a story recently on how workers at the airport were affected by that horrific day.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Weather -- or not

Cristoforo Colombo had heard about the powerful Caribbean storms that the Taino Indians called "huracan" on his early voyages, and when, on his fourth trip to the New World in 1502, the natives told him that one such storm was approaching Hispaniola, he strategically moved the ships he commanded to the opposite side of the island, saving the small fleet when the rain and wind struck the following day.

Today, of course, we have much more warning and information on hurricanes than Christopher Columbus, as he is now known, did. There is radar and satellite images and computer projections -- and we have the broadcast media, which seems to go berserk when any type of extraordinary weather event unfolds. The flashy graphics and dramatic music bursts from the screen as if America were going to war again, meteorologists and anchors repeat warnings and narrate video with hyperbolic commentary, and reporters in the field -- those poor souls -- are made to stand in outlandish conditions so we can see the worst of the weather without going out there ourselves.

I know that all this drives some people crazy, and I admit that much of it is over-the-top, but I am a weather junkie and when noteworthy storms strike -- as was the case with Hurricane Irene -- I get excited, flip channels, scroll through news items on the Internet, and post updates on Twitter as if the outside world were getting their only information from me. And with Irene, as with other storms of all types, I heard a chorus of voices before, during and after dismissing the hurricane as a "dud." For most people in the Boston area, the storm entailed some wind and rain, leaving them feeling that the projections and the coverage were all hype. However, even in the city limits of Boston, several thousand people lost electricity and 500 calls came in to City Hall about downed trees.

The bigger picture is awe-inspiring -- especially because Irene made landfall as weakening Category 1 hurricane and did significant damage after being downgraded to a lowly tropical storm. Fourteen states, plus Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and a number of other Caribbean Islands were affected; more than seven million people lost power on the US East Coast; damage at this early point is estimated at $10 billion; and, sadly, the death toll now stands at 54. The state of Vermont, far from landfall and coastal surges, is experiencing the worst flooding in a century due to Irene's downpours; at one point 11 towns were isolated as a result of rising rivers and washed-out roads.

Maybe you didn't need that bottled water and flashlight that you ran out and fought crowds to get, but some people did. The information and warnings from the National Weather Service should not be confused with the melodrama that broadcast news -- especially the local TV stations -- foments to go along with it. Local TV is over-the-top every night on virtually every story, so it's annoying, but no surprise, when they do the same every time a storm is on the way. The have to fill their time and they have to keep viewers on edge, and when they go live all day, as they did Sunday with Irene, there are a lot of hours to fill. At one point an anchor narrated a piece of video that showed a roof with two tiles fluttering gently in the breeze. "Look at that," she said. "Roof tiles are being torn off by Irene."

The larger point I want to make is that, despite decades of cliches about their unreliability, meteorologists are terrifically accurate, especially these days. We were told, for example, at the end of last week that the weather in Boston after Irene passed would be upper 70s/low 80s all week and there might be a quick midweek shower but the next chance of a storm would be the weekend. Right on. I hear people complain when a snow forecast is a few inches off, not seeming to grasp that -- despite all the variables of weather and the complexities of predicting what will happen at any moment -- we were told several days in advance that a particular type of precipitation would fall from the sky for a predicted amount of time. Sorry if the forecast eight inches fell in the town next to you and only seven fell on your house.

Someone I know complained out loud one day last spring when it started to rain and I reminded her that the forecast had said there was a 20% chance of showers. "Yeah," she said. "That means it's not supposed to rain." I started to explain and then just threw up my hands.