Boston, Day 2

To connect with yesterday’s post, I’ll start by whining about public transit. First, I don’t like how the T describes routes based on their endpoints. Why should I need to know where a given bus or train will eventually end up to decide which direction I need to go? I know where I need to go relative to where I am now (north or south or whatever, something on the compass rose at any rate). At least I’ve been able to realize I’m on the bus going in the opposite direction from what I want within a few stops.

After finishing today’s errands, I waited and waited at Davis Square for an 88 bus back to ‘ apartment. I finally gave up, knowing that it was about a mile walk, and that I’d be able to stop and turn around at each bus stop I passed to see if the bus was catching up with me. By the time I could see the bus, I was nearly there. In the end, the bus pulled up to the stop nearest the apartment just as I walked in, so I beat it. Ha.

This morning’s first task was getting to the Bank of America near BBN. I took the time outside of the Davis Square T station to buy an umbrella. Right when I walked out of the store, it stopped raining. I win. Then it was Red Line to Harvard Square, and bus 74 out on Concord Ave so I could take care of things at the BoA two blocks from BBN HQ. The process itself went smoothly, although I had to wait about 15 minutes, even though there were 7 employees and no other customers. One of the bankers was dealing with the armored truck guy, the other two bankers were on the phone, 3 of the tellers were busy doing assorted tasks, and the 1 available teller informed me that I needed to see a banker to open an account. One weird thing: the banker was (roughly) my age, also born in 1982.

After that, I decided to go to the other side of the traffic circle to sit in the air conditioned Starbucks, sip on a freakachino, and hope they have a wireless connection that I could steal. The latter was not available, but I spent about an hour waiting for my HR contact at BBN to call me back if he was available for me to come in and sign, among other things, my official acceptance letter. Which means that there now exists a sign document that says I have a job! Woot!

I did get drenched going from the Starbucks the few blocks over to BBN, even with the umbrella. It was raining very hard, and most of the storm sewers had backed up, and there was bad drainage in pretty much every place where the sidewalk had to cross a road or driveway. I had initially left, intending to walk along Concord to the realtor’s in Belmont Center and grab food on the way; it’s a good thing my contact called me when I was within about 2 minutes of BBN. I picked the wrong day to rely on my feet and public transportation. Or, arguably, the weather picked the wrong day to rain.

At any rate, I had lunch in the BBN cafeteria after getting everything signed, and he even offered to drop me off in Belmont Center, since it’s about a 3 minute drive. I re-met the president of the division in which I will be working (he was my final interviewer, what I would call the Ethics & Personal Values section of the interview), and I met the VP of said division. The HR guy also gave me a copy of the book that was written about BBN and their role in inventing the Internet. Neat. If I ever obtain another copy, it will go to t3h SCCS.

I hope I didn’t get the HR guy (he has a name, but I doubt he’d want to be featured in my LJ) in trouble; I forgot to give back my Visitor ID, and he forgot to take it from me. I may have to resolve that tomorrow or on Friday morning.

My first impression of my realtor was not superb: the flashy mercedes, the fancy cell phone that rang about every 42 seconds, and the approximately 31 hairs combed over his large bald spot. His co-worker, with whom I spoke briefly before he got back from a previous appointment was nice, and the place appeared to have been around for a while and to be family-owned and operated.

I saw a grand total of eight units, but naturally, I could only start the lease process on one. If I’m feeling bored, I might type up all of the little notes I scribbled about the various units I saw, but for now I’ll focus on The One.

It’s a tiny little postage-stamp unit on the second floor of a house located in Watertown (roughly 1.5 miles due south of BBN as the crow flies) that has been completely redone. The kitchen appliances are all new, there’s a brand new washer/dryer stack in the kitchen, the bathroom’s new, the wood floors have been redone, all of the windows have been replaced with new double-pane windows, and the roof and gutters appear to be new as well. I like new.

The back deck balcony has a lovely view of a cemetery (from where I will command my armies of undead). It’s actually a 1.5 bedroom unit, with a full bath, although the .5 room could hold a twin bed and that’s about it. I would probably use it as my computer room, to separate sleeping from working/playing a little bit. It’s small, so I probably won’t be able to inherit a whole lot of furniture from my parental units.

The real clincher though was The Sign. Said Sign was received loud and clear by the top of my skull when I stepped full force into the low ceiling in the stairwell up to the unit. Laugh all you want, but I do believe the apartment was trying to tell me something. I wonder how many dents I’ll make before I get used to it…

Apartment… From… Space!!!

In that view (courtesy of Google Maps), my unit would be on the western side of the pointed-to building. The abandoned railroad bed that runs SW-NE about a block north of the building is being converted by the town of Watertown into a bike path, which will be neat when it’s done. That will feed right into the network of trails that circle Fresh Pond, thus allowing me to bike to work almost entirely off of city streets.

After all of my unit-visiting was done with Jack the Realtor, we went back to his office so that I could get the lease process started. At this point, I’ve conditionally paid the realtor’s fee, so I have a hold on the apartment pending the landlord’s approval.

I bussed back to Harvard Square (after waiting for the 75 in Belmont Center for some time), then T-ed up to Davis Square. After getting on an 88 going the wrong way (see above rant), I got out and grabbed dinner at the Au Bon Pain in Davis Square and proceeded to people-watch, drink my Mountain Dew, and start reading the book about BBN.

I then waited for the correct bus 88. And waited. And waited. Finally, knowing I was less than a mile from ‘ apartment, I decided to walk. He lives right on the street on which bus 88 runs, so I could always catch one later if it caught up to me. I turned around to check at each bus stop, but I couldn’t see a bus until the last stop before his building. I arrived literally as the bus pulled up. I won.

This evening has been low-key. I chatted for some time with my mom about the apartment search while more Atelier Iris was played, and then I proceeded to start playing Xenosaga for some reason. In two hours of gameplay, I learned how the combat system works, and was exposed to a significant amount of plot exposition. I have yet to face a non-simulated enemy. Definitely a slow start.

Tomorrow evening, I will be attending my first Bos-Fun SWIL gaming! It’s nice to know that there’s a big contingent of SWILlies in these parts.

I apologize for boring you all.


11 responses to “Boston, Day 2”

  1. Oops, I forgot to recommend to you a Boston realtor; well, if anyone else is reading this, I highly recommend SuperJohn, aka John Lowenstein of Red Line Real Estate. A bunch of us NetMarket types used him in the mid-nineties, and he was, well, super, at listening to what we were looking for, and showing us places that fit our criteria.

    Then again, he doesn’t seem to show Watertown, so if that’s where you were aiming, he wouldn’t have done you any good anyway. :^)

  2. Congrats on finding an apartment! Best thing, IMO: washer/dryer in the unit. I’ve had that luxury exactly once in my entire adult life, and it makes things *so* much easier.

    Re: public transit identifying bus lines by their final destination — San Francisco is the same. I wonder if Minneapolis is the outlier rather than the norm here.

  3. The smart outlier. :oP

  4. It’d be hard to identify RGBO trains by direction rather than destination, since the lines tend to bend by 90 degrees or so. I think they do use “inbound” and “outbound”, though, referring to the train’s orientation to or from Downtown Crossing / Park Street. But really, for the Red line, all you have to remember is “Alewife” or “not Alewife”. For buses, of course, you’re on your own!

    Yesterday I opened a Commerce Bank account. It took about two hours, and my banker was a rising junior at UPenn. (I also finally closed my long inactive account with the FMFCU, nine years and eleven months after opening it.)

    In Joel and Sarah’s first apartment, Joel hung a painting of a mallard at the top of the low stairwell … to remind him to duck.

  5. Part of why they do that is that the line doesn’t always run one direction consistently. Also, there may be multiple branches running the same direction: On the T in Boston, the red line south from Park St splits at one point, but both splits continue to run south. Similarly the green line west from Park.

    You could argue that it’s weird for a line to branch like that, and why don’t they just call each of the splits something different at that point (e.g. the red line runs to Ashmont, and the line that splits off at JFK would be called the puce line or whatever), but that would be confusing in its own way, because you’d sometimes have puce line trains on red line stations, unless the puce line trains always stopped at the split (which would be annoying for people who travel between places across the split, especially daily travelers like commuters).

    Anyway, I’m hardly the right person to argue that traveling in Boston isn’t a pain in the ass. :^) But some of the weird things have good reasons for being the way they are.

  6. Huh, so it looks like you’re in the “if i’m feeling ambitious, i could walk to Harvard Square for lunch” portion of Watertown. KT and JMS live in Watertown center, so you’re sort of near them, but not entirely.

    In the middle of the downstairs part of the Harvard Square T station (in the part that’s free to enter, so you don’t have to pay a token to do this), there’s a big display with bus route maps for all the buses, with schedules and maps. If you get maps for the routes you want, it should make it a lot easier to figure out whether you’re going the right way. Also, the MBTA has some pretty good online information, and there at least used to be a PDA application which you could download to have current schedules (though not maps) for all the buses on hand.

  7. the berlin system also names things by their endpoints, but every bus stop has a “string of pearls” route map with every stop listed and notes when a stop would connect to another bus or to a particular u-bahn line. the u-bahns also have many good ways to tell where one is and the direction to go in and they have the added benefit of mostly going in definable directions. there is a ring train that goes in a circle and wouldn’t therefore have endstations, but it says either “ostkreuz” or “westkreuz”, so one can figure out whether its going clockwise or counterclockwise. when i’m in a hurry and one of the trains is right there, it’s a little annoying because all i have time to do is notice that one is say “rudow” and the other is “spandau” and people don’t understand if i ask “does this one go north?” i think they would understand “does this go UP?” because maps tend to mess with people’s minds like that, but i’ve learned to just name the station i’m aiming for and someone will know. natives of a city tend to know the system pretty well, unless it changes a lot.

  8. This is the R3 to Elwyn…what you’re only going to Swarthmore? Well this train is going to Elwyn.

  9. Well, if he were feeling ambitious, he could also walk to Watertown Square, but that might not be the best of ideas.

    On the other hand, I will note that either the 71 or the 73 from Harvard Square will be convenient to take, *and* that there’s a supermarket very, very close to the apartment (the Shaws, on Mt. Auburn St., is just before Belmont St. splits off). And fyi, about the cemetery: “Mount Auburn Cemetery was founded in 1831 as America’s first landscaped cemetery. It played a significant role in American history, inspiring the creation of the nation’s public parks. Today it is a National Historic Landmark with a great variety of 19th-century monuments commemorating both the famous and the now-forgotten.”

    And Bostonians don’t know from compass directions. We just know which way we need to go to get wherever we’re going, or things like the fact that Newton is on the way to Needham from Watertown (the 59 bus), or Watertown is on the way from Waltham to Cambridge (the 70/70A). :^)

  10. Hmm…I dunno. Almost all public transportation systems I use (train and metro/underground/subway/tube/whatever, I don’t like using buses) identify specific units by their endpoints, especially the NYC/London/Barcelona subway systems.

Nurd Up!