Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'Boston'

Put a little raccoon in your afternoon

September 3rd, 2011 · Comments Off on Put a little raccoon in your afternoon

Racoons by nickhull
Racoons, a photo by nickhull on Flickr.

Just one, not this many, but still an adventure. When I got back today from lunch with Frank, I noticed that the lid had come off our big garbage can. I picked it up out of the driveway and casually replaced it, and was greeted by a hideous angry very long-echoing growl.

Something was in garbage can, and not happy about it.

I went in the house, grabbed a big broomstick, and bamboozled Frank to come help me to rescue … whatever it was. There is a vantage point over our driveway, behind a big fence, where one can poke garbage cans until they fall over without being eaten up by any monsters that might be inside them.

I successfully knocked off the lid and the growls re-began. We could peek into the garbage can. A young raccoon was down in there. A young raccoon with very deep baritone growl: “Rrrrrowwwwrrr. Don’t even think about making me angrier than I already angrily am.” Tipping the garbage can over was harder than I expected. Push–teeter–push–teeter–rhythmic push–teeter–totter–topple.

The raccoon did not even spare us a dirty look as he angrily stomped away from the scene of the crime. Hey look, pal, we did not ask you to rob our garbage!

Tags: Boston · Cambridge · Frank Wilczek · Wide wonderful world

Curtain up, light the lights …

March 31st, 2011 · 2 Comments

Lighting board by betsythedevine
Lighting board, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

After this weekend, it will be curtains for Curtains in Arlington, MA, and I am really going to miss this show. I started working backstage for them in February and soon worked my way up from worst painter to worst lighting tech!

Yes, I have risen so far in the Arlington (MA) Friends of the Drama that now I have to climb two ladders when I go to work, in the tiny lighting booth above the back of the theatre.

Fortunately, I now enjoy climbing ladders. Thank heaven I lost my acrophobia somewhere, most likely in Second Life where avatars easily leap from the tops of tall buildings (the quickest way down), crash to earth, stand right up, and just feel perfectly fine.

The songs by Kander and Ebb (they also did Cabaret and Chicago) are toe-tapping and singable. The singing, dancing, dynamic cast is such fun to watch, and let me tell you I have now watched them quite a few times but I still hate to look down when the light cues require my attention. If you live near Arlington MA, there are still some tickets for sale there for this weekend’s shows. And be sure, if you come, to be amazed by the great lighting.

Forgive my long non-blogging, but I have been “making trouble today for a better tomorrow” elsewhere … multiple elsewheres, for too many yesterdays.

Tags: Boston · Go go go · Wide wonderful world

John Brockman, founder of the feast

December 28th, 2009 · Comments Off on John Brockman, founder of the feast

John Brockman, founder of the feast

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

John Brockman and Katinka Matson were in Cambridge this weekend, throwing (as usual) an enjoyable party… which none of my iPhone pictures came out, but I like this one of John, seen here with just a bit of Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, the author of the (soon to be published) Bursts.

There was quite a bit of talk about the Edge question for 2010 (which remains secret until it gets published there January 1.) I was also very intrigued by the ongoing DNA mysteries that Ting Wu explores in her Harvard Med School lab — and by the diverse places that Katinka Matson finds the flowers for her humongous photographs. I also learned that Frank Wilczek considers evolution a very roundabout way to deliver paltry amounts of information. I am looking forward to reading Connected by Nicolas Christakis and James Fowler, especially the chapter that begins with epidemic laughter. And if I had been sitting closer to Marvin Minsky or Benoit Mandelbrot, I might have learned something novel from them as well.

And then there was the Harvest’s sticky toffee pudding! Thanks once again, John Brockman and Katinka Matson.

Tags: Boston · Cambridge · Frank Wilczek · Science · Wide wonderful world · writing

High tech, high Ada-Lovelace-quotient Lisa Williams

March 23rd, 2009 · Comments Off on High tech, high Ada-Lovelace-quotient Lisa Williams

These boots were made for Austin

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Ada Lovelace Day has arrived!

Picking just one “woman excelling in technology” is a bit hard, because there are quite a few whom I admire, e.g.

But I pick tech-trepreneur Lisa Williams aka blogger Lisa Williams, and not just because I have a photo of her wearing SXSW cowboy boots.

Lisa started with major computer-geeky creds and then built up and out, to test and evangelize (6 years at least worth of) new good stuff such as RSS and Bloggercon and podcasting. She has a good eye for what will be exciting, and she puts lots of skill and energy into making good things happen.

Lisa also writes about life in the geeky-young-mom lane, e.g. annotating her desk and giving advice to panelists e.g. “Bring one story to tell” but also “The best panelists are the sharpest listeners.”

More recently, she turned her tech skills to creating H20town, a hometown online newspaper. Being Lisa, she then branched out to find others like herself and built Placeblogger, mixing high-tech with low-tech can-do in equal proportions. Now she and Susan Mernit are teaming up, so who knows what the future holds for all of us?

In conclusion, I’m wishing a Happy Ada Lovelace Day to all of you high-tech high-flyers of every gender, but especially to Lisa Williams.

Tags: Boston · geeky · Metablogging · Wide wonderful world

What child is this?

December 21st, 2008 · 2 Comments

What child is this?

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Snow has transformed the Nativity scene at Saint Peter’s School in Cambridge on Concord Avenue.

The man with the lantern will have to look quite a bit harder to find Baby Jesus, because now the manger is under six inches snow.

Or is that Diogenes, looking for something quite different?

Tags: Boston · Cambridge · Wide wonderful world

Old Mac user (me): “What is that funny hole?”

September 3rd, 2008 · 1 Comment

MacPaint (and other) nostalgia: 1

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

‘So what is that funny hole?” I asked my kind young Mac trainer, pointing at the front of a big Mac Pro tower. Natalya, an anthropology major and certified Macintosh genius, speaks fluent customer-ese, and explained that the “hole” was a FireWire 800 port, something I’d seen before but left strictly alone.

To my chagrin (although also to my satisfaction, since I know it now) the FireWire 800 would have been almost twice as fast a way to synch my old Mac laptop* to my new Mac tower, a task that took more than 10 hours with FireWire 400. Which just goes to show that having loved Macintosh computers since 1984 is no guarantee that you can’t learn a lot more about them from somebody who was most likely born after 1984.

Here are some other things I learned in my first hour of Apple’s new One to One store training:

  • What’s the top story right now on CNN? Has anything changed on my Wikipedia watchlist? You can make WebClip widgets from bits of webpages you like, then flash them up onto your desktop using the Dashboard.
  • Want to move from a desktop full of writing projects to a desktop full of scrapbooking projects to a desktop covered with email resources? Leopard has a system preference called Spaces that lets you arrow-key around several different monitor screens, even if you have just one monitor.
  • On a laptop, you can set preferences to “Left Click” by tapping your mousepad with two fingers.
  • A new app called “QuickLook” lets you peek at graphics, Word, Excel files (etc. etc.) without having to open the big clunky program that edits them.

They say you are not old until you stop learning. Lucky for me that I still have so darn much to learn — and that Apple Store genii in Cambridgeside Galleria have so much to teach me.

* I dropped my Mac laptop last week. It still runs, but the funny noise of its fan and the very big ding in its casing suggest that it may not be running for very long into the future.

Tags: Boston · Cambridge · geeky · Useful

Undeclared broccoli, and other hazards of travel

January 13th, 2008 · 3 Comments

Biker chicks banner

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

This morning I almost got fined $200 for packing undisclosed broccoli!

Yes, Frank and I are in transit again. Out of Boston at 8 a.m. Saturday to San Francisco (6 hour flight, 7 hour layover) to Auckland, New Zealand (13 hour flight, 4 hour layover), and soon onward to Massey University in Palmerston North.

I’m sitting typing this blogpost in Auckland Airport, where, as we picked up our baggage to go through customs, a cute little bio-contam-sniffing beagle got very excited about my carry-on bag!

I couldn’t imagine what she was sniffing–the past aroma of Frank’s lunch sandwich of lox? The beagle kept begging to look inside my mini-suitcase, and her very nice female handler had to check.

And guess what? I had packed our toothbrushes in a used plastic grocery bag that had still inside it two fragments of broccoli!!!

The beagle got several treats for finding my broccoli, and they very kindly let me off with laughter and warnings.

Travelers everywhere, do you know where your broccoli is?

A bit more “wisdom” if you should ever follow in our crazy footsteps:

1) Both BOS and SFO airports have TMobile wifi. I bought a 24-hour Tmobile pass in Logan and was able to keep using the same pass in SFO. Better yet, I was able to put my computer to sleep and then let Frank use the account to go online with his computer.

2) Among the things New Zealand wants to know about if you have them–hiking boots or other camping equipment. They worry about your bringing in dirt on the treads.

3) A 13-hour flight is much more comfortable than a 7-hour flight in some ways–you have real time to sleep, for one thing. And I love Air New Zealand!

Tags: Boston · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Comcast goes out to lunch asks me to hold

January 11th, 2008 · Comments Off on Comcast goes out to lunch asks me to hold

Comcast goes out to lunch asks me to hold

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

I have been waiting online two hours for a Comcast chat service person.

Fortunately, I have lots of work to do at my computer while I wait.

Higher than usual service times? I hope so. I started off as “No. 2 in the queue” and after an hour graduated to my current status as No. 1.

La la la. Still waiting.

Comcast customer service is “No. 2” in my book!

Tags: Boston · Cambridge · Wide wonderful world

Home for Christmas

December 21st, 2007 · 3 Comments

Home for Christmas

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Oh how beautiful it was to be home in Boston, as we stood in the cold waiting for a late taxi, under big flakes of snow slowly falling down through the night air.

We got home late December 20, after many delays caused by the third day of Boston snowfall this week.

And today is the shortest day of the year. I plan to enjoy some of these long winter nights sleeping off my jetlag.

Tags: Boston · Cambridge · Wide wonderful world

We won we won we won we won..again!

October 30th, 2007 · Comments Off on We won we won we won we won..again!

Red Sox parade on Tremont Street

Originally uploaded by sooz

Un-be-darn-lievable, isn’t it?

We won we won we won we won we won…again!!!! (Says Betsy, born in Boston, grew up in NH, lives in Cambridge, now on sabbatical in Sweden….and not in fact an actual player on any field when Red Sox play.)

Yaaaayyyyy anyway!

But, in totally unrelated news from Sweden, I was introduced today to the most delicious (and most Swedish) sandwich! Take a bunch of Swedish meatballs, cold. Mix them up with some red beet salad (a little mayonnaise, a lot of chopped-itty-bitty Harvard beets.)

Now stuff all this stuff into what we New Englanders call a torpedo roll, to make what Long Islanders call a submarine sandwich. But you’re not done yet.

Decorate the edge of the sandwich filling with tiny, flavorful, sour, gherkin pickles.

If anything could console me for missing the Red Sox parade, this sandwich would. And thank you, Sooz, for Flickring your awesome view!

Tags: Boston · Sweden · Wide wonderful world