Thanks

mom-and-meThis morning Mom and I participated in the annual Drumstick Dash.  This is a downtown Roanoke 5K run or walk that benefits the Rescue Mission.  It was a festive crowd of 4,800 despite the brisk morning temperature. 

The route wound its way through downtown Roanoke, Virginia.   We quickly discovered that it was so much warmer in the direct sun verses the shadows of the taller buildings.  Luckily Roanoke doesn’t have too many of those.

The walk part is mostly comprised of families withcamo-dog and without strollers and alot of dogs bring their owners.  I miss having a dog and hope that Matt and I get one soon.  Maybe we will have one by this time next year.  I do get a bit tickled when I see the dogs that look like their owners.

sooner

Sooner

The race was very well organized with clearly defined route markers, enthusiastic volunteers, and friendly fellow walkers.  We met several dogs and even a few owners.  This beautiful yellow lab is Sooner, he and his owner are visiting family in Roanoke for the holidays.  He is a great dog!

The dogs even got their own water break just about half way through the route.  They all seemed very thankful for the opportunity to slurp a bit.  Surprisingly they all seemed to be very well bewatering-doghaved.  Well, most of them anyway, I did hear a few minor distant disputes.

For me this was a great way to start off Thanksgiving.  I didn’t have to feel so guilty for the rest of the day’s meals.  For that, I am truly Thankful!

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Whoopin’ it up in Beantown

I’m not much for big cities, but I love it here in Boston. There is so much to do in such a small space. This isn’t the best time of year to visit, but it has still been fun. I had forgotten how the wind howls through the buildings, particularly around the Christian Science Center. If it got above freezing here, it wasn’t much.

So what did we do? Wow, we had some nice dinners. Artu, an italian restaurant on Charles St. in Beacon Hill was a terrific little hole in the wall (maybe 8 tables). Nice place, great food. Beacon Hill is the quintessential Boston neighborhood. We ate at Legal Seafoods near the Park Plaza hotel, great food, spotty service. One night we hit a Vietnamese pho restaurant in Chinatown – get the noodle soup rather than the rice soup. Today we went to a kabob place next to Symphony Hall on Huntington Ave. Very reasonably priced food, and we can highly recommend the lamb stew and chicken curry. Last night we were at Quincy Market next to Faneuil Hall and got some clam chowder in a bread bowl, which was far better than the seafood gumbo. Tonight was Penang, a Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown, the Penang chicken appetizer was great, duck was good, seafood yam bowl very good. Looks like Thai food, fantastic place, great food, nice environment. Good thing we were there early on Saturday night. The lines formed quickly after we arrived.

The New England Aquarium is a definite recommended spot. We spent several hours just enjoying what they had to offer. They had the largest (and only) Cobia I have ever seen in captivity, not that it’s a big deal, but it was cool.

The best thing they had was the penguin display and the central tank. And of course the jelly fish display.

We saw a lot of nice churches around town, and the Boston Public Library was an unexpected art trove. Amazing how much stuff there is to see in such a small space. The world headquarters of the Christian Science church (not Scientology) has a stained glass globe that you can walk through. Really amazing. In fact, much of the Christian Science church was amazing. It’s one of those things that you really should see if you spend time in Boston.

There was much that we missed, but with the highs in the lower 30s and the winds in the upper 30s, it wasn’t very pleasant weather for walking around.

I skipped over some of the fun things we did. There is no reason to get bored here. It’s a great city.

Boston

Up until this point in the trip it sleepinghas been mostly work for me.  Matt has actually fit in a little more work than expected but today (Saturday) looks like a play day.  Most everyday this is the last I see of Matt until the evening.  It is amazing he has gotten anything done with his late late wake ups.  I am going to see things today that I haven’t seen before and that always intrigues me.

The conference is over and it was overwhelming great.  I have tons of sustainable information floating around tryipartisiansng to land in my head.  A day or two of not thinking about those things will be good.  One of the days this week I decided to take the T back to our beautiful Hotel in Boston.  The T is a test of ones sense of direction.  I did a little better here than Barcelona.  The new stations like the one near the convention center is modern and efficient with even evocative sculpture outside.  However the old lines are very old lines…. efficient in every way but disgusting filthy.  The smell of creosote burned my nose and everything just looks dingy and old.  It looks like some areas are in the process of renovations but it looks like Boston has waited way too long to start.  It is a great system for getting around and our weekly pass makes me feel a little like a local as I zip by the tourists buying their tickets for each ride.

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View from World Trade T station towards Boston Convention Center

Luckily we have done a good bit of walking.  Me during the day at the conference and at night just getting around.  One night we walked through ChinaTown (not as far as I thought), the other it was into Beacon Hill, and last night was basically across downtown.  As always with most any town I visit, by the end of the trip the city gets a little smaller.

One of the questions that Matt and I have been tossing around during this trip is this – “Do the health benefits that come from walking in a city outweigh the pollution that you breathe while walking?”  We are going to have to see if their is any research on this subject.  If you know of any drop me a line or leave a comment here.  Thanks! ~K

Arriving in Boston

I’m not a big city kind of guy, but I do love Boston.

panorama from the Taj

panorama from the Taj

Kim is here for a green building conference paid for by her employer, so with a $370 hotel room paid for several nights, I wasn’t going to sit at home. As I sit here “working”, this is my view, looking out over the Boston Public Garden and downtown Boston.

When I went to school here in the 80’s I never dreamed that I would ever get to stay in the Ritz-Carlton. Well, I never did get to stay in that hotel, but it changed names and is now the Taj. We are on the 9th floor over looking Arlington Street at the intersection of Newbury Street. Newbury is probably the most upscale shopping district in Boston.

Our trip started from Roanoke yesterday. We stayed in Greensboro and flew out of there this morning. I’m not much of a morning person, either, and since Kim is the one with the camera, I take the brunt of most of her picture taking.

barely awake
barely awake

So here I am at some unholy hour, obviously still in the single digits, you can tell by the angle of the sunlight in the terminal.

Our flights were surprisingly snafu-free. We got all the bugs out of the trip the previous day. Kim woke up Monday morning in a panic (flight didn’t leave until Tuesday morning). She was so worried she was going to forget something. Meanwhile, I got my stuff packed and didn’t think much of the situation. My new mantra is “I’m not going to let your paranoia affect me”. When I don’ get flustered by her panic, it just makes her angry. So I haven’t figured out how to get around this one yet. I can’t keep her from panicking, and I won’t join in her panic with her. Still not sure what to do here.

Anyway, on our way to Greensboro, Kim discovers she’s left her laptop behind. Hmmm. No problem, really, she can use mine, which I bought for both of us for trips like this anyway.

Like I said, our trip was uneventful for the most part. I woke up somewhere on the way between Atlanta and Boston. We flew right over Manhattan, and I was too slow to get a picture, but seeing that from the air is always amazing to me. I did get a bit of the Massachusetts coastline:

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Nice. I always get a kick of seeing geography from the air. Plus, there is just something about water that is irresistable.

Kim and I got lucky on the flight from Atlanta. It was supposed to be a full flight, but we wound up with an extra seat next to us, so we spread out a little. This made the whole experience more enjoyable for me. I hate crowded planes. I’m not sure what would help Kim enjoy the flight more, because she hates it when the plane tilts, when it speeds up, slows down, bumps, shivers, or just goes the same speed.

Of course it didn’t help at all that the only comforting story that came to mind to tell her was of the stunt pilot that lost a wing while doing a barrel roll, but still landed the plane safely (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y90vnB6gUME). The story had a happy ending, but she didn’t want to hear it anyway. There’s just no pleasing some people.

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So, we’re on our way to a “green” building conference, which means they are looking for ways to be environmentally efficient. I figured Kim needed to be immersed in the concept. So we didn’t get a cab from the airport, we took public transportation. I was able to get passes for both of us for a week for $15 each for all the T rides you could stand. Pretty good deal, and public transportation is a “green” concept.

To get from the airport to the city, we took the Silver Line. Here you see me playing tour guide getting Kim on a Silver Line car. It turns out that the Silver Line makes use of another “green” concept. Around the airport, the Silver Line is a natural gas driven bus, but in South Boston, it hooks into the grid and becomes an electrically driven subway car, with rubber inflatable tires instead of riding on rails. It took just a few seconds to turn off the engine and switch over to the cleaner type of power where the overhead power lines were available. This was another type of “hybrid” vehicle. It didn’t use both sources at the same time, but instead turned one off and used the other.

The T ride at 2 pm was crowded and disorienting at times, but I think it was well worth it. Kim even got to see where the convention was being held. Cab rides are faster, more personal, and you have fewer stairs to carry your luggage up, but you just don’t see the same part of a city that you see riding public transportation. We got to change from Silver to Red to Green… I thought it was cool. Kim may have different ideas.

Dinner tonight was at Legal Seafoods. Mmmm. Food was good. Wait staff was a little confused, I think.

I’ll post more stuff throughout the week…

Bean Town here we come!

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Getting geared up for a trip next week to Boston.   This time it is my work that is taking us away.   My company is sending me to a huge convention called GreenBuild.  This is the annual event put on by the US Green Building Council and attended by about 25,000 building industry professionals.  I will be filing reports on my “green” blog and hopefully Matt will be posting a few entries here to share the experience with you.  He has spent a considerable amount of time in Boston so I will let him tell that part.  I am looking forward to having him be the tour guide (I think).  ~K

Roanoke’s Energy Expo 2008

Yesterday the Energy Expo opened in Roanoke, VA.  This is an annual event that has been growing by leaps and bounds.  I am happy to report that this year the exhibits are packed full of valuable sustainable information.  Here are a few….

Learn how to make your own rain barrel through the Western Va Water Authority.

Meet David Zachow with Direct Connect Solar and Electric to get set up with a solar system.

Even see a real live Yurt from Blue Ridge Yurt.  This is a neat structure that from the inside looks like one big baby gate.  Very quick to assemble and take down.

future-solar1For my thoughts on the best of the show, it would have to be the kids from Thaxton Elementary.  These kids are getting it.  Walk up to their booth and you are greeted by six or so stations of experiments with energetic and excited kids demonstrating.  There were experiments on solar energy with small PVs, static electricity, magnetics, simple circuits and more.  While their teachers are to be applauded for making it fun, they are also teaching them important skills to understand tomorrow’s energy.  Job well done!

So if you are in the area of the Roanoke, Va, Civic Center stop by on Saturday.  It is free and you will see alot of great ideas for energy efficiency.