Our Jeweler on the Lam

Our Old JewlerWhen I pro­posed to Pam, I had already got­ten a ring at Alpha Omega Jew­el­ers in Cam­bridge. It was a small shop in Har­vard Square, fam­i­ly run, with not spec­tac­u­lar­ly high or low prices. In the years since then, we used them for not only our wed­ding rings, but oth­er bits of jew­el­ry.

So, I was not with­out a fair amount of shock when I read this head­line on the web site boston.com:
Alpha Omega liq­ui­da­tion sale set to start tomor­row

What was even more shock­ing was why they were liq­ui­dat­ing our old fam­i­ly jew­el­er:

The invest­ment con­sor­tium that bought the assets of Alpha Omega Jew­el­ers in a bank­rupt­cy court-approved sale said that the liq­ui­da­tion sale of the chain’s inven­to­ry will begin at its four stores tomor­row.

Every­thing must be sold before Ross-Simons, a Rhode Island-based chain, assumes the leas­es of Alpha Omega stores at Nat­ick Col­lec­tion and the Pru­den­tial Cen­ter in Boston, and items will be dis­count­ed to ensure fast sales, the con­sor­tium said.

The chain’s oth­er two stores are locat­ed in Har­vard Square and at the Burling­ton Mall.

Accord­ing to sto­ries in the Globe data base, Alpha Omega Jew­el­ers filed for pro­tec­tion under Chap­ter 11 of the US Bank­rupt­cy Code last month. The fil­ing came after own­er Raman Han­da unex­pect­ed­ly left the coun­try with his wife, son, and daugh­ter, prompt­ing the com­pa­ny’s bank to seize Alpha Omega assets and tem­porar­i­ly close its stores just before Christ­mas.

That’s right, they were going bank­rupt because the own­er fled the coun­try with his fam­i­ly. Sud­den­ly my mind filled with all the plots of Jew­el heists, with the thieves head­ing for Mex­i­co, hav­ing deposit­ed some of their mis­be­got­ten wealth in a Swiss Bank Account…

And to think I was served by Mr. or Mrs. Han­da (I nev­er learned their names, nor do I remem­ber them par­tic­u­lar­ly well), who might have been plan­ning their dis­ap­pear­ances for years!

Or per­haps it was some­thing less glam­orous and far more depress­ing, like mount­ing debts and “a threat to him­self or a mem­ber of his fam­i­ly”.

You Can Take the Boy out of Fenway...

The Red Sox, Victorious in Game 1…but you can’t take Fen­way out of the boy.

This evening, Pam and I ate hot dogs, drank beer and watched the Boston Red Sox utter­ly dom­i­nate the Col­orado Rock­ies in a wicked first game of the 2007 World Series. It was curi­ous to see the Sox not only do so well, but do so well in so many ways. They fin­ished off with a score of 13 to 1, tying the record of 13 dou­bles in a world series game. But it was­n’t only the hit­ting. They pulled off a beau­ti­ful dou­ble play, and pitch­er Josh Beck­ett only allowed 6 hits. The Rock­ies, on the oth­er hand, went through 5 pitch­ers.

Old habits do die hard, though. All the way up to a score of 7 to 1, Pam kept say­ing ‘They could still screw it up! Don’t let your­self be fooled!” It’s also hard to get used to see­ing our old Boston team as the favourite, and clear­ly not the under­dog. That said, it is fun to see them win hand­i­ly, even if we aren’t with­in a stone’s throw of the Green Mon­ster any more.

Go Sox!

A Walk on the Beach and A Strange Sign in Front of MIT

A Cold but Sun­ny Stroll
We took a walk on Kit­si­lano Beach today. After all, we could­n’t let this sun­shine go to waste. How­ev­er, the wind had oth­er ideas. It was very chilly, remind­ing us that despite the fact that it is spring and all of the trees are bloom­ing (and the city is show­ing some of its most gor­geous aspects), it’s still ear­ly spring, and we are, after all, in Cana­da, not Fort Laud­erdale or Puer­to Val­lar­ta. I did bring the cam­era, though, and we even doc­u­ment­ed anoth­er brush with a Bald Eagle. The large bird even roost­ed for quite a while on a boat (called ‘Free to Roam’, of all things) in the False Creek Mari­na, where crows seemed to treat it with no respect what­so­ev­er.

Inter­est­ing Items Back on Mass. Ave.

I some­times read the blog infos­thet­ics (mean­ing Infor­ma­tion Aes­thet­ics) for my oth­er blog, drucker.ca, because I often deal with some of the same issues and sub­jects (visu­al­iza­tion, infor­ma­tion archi­tec­ture, info­graph­ics, etc.)

A cou­ple of days ago, how­ev­er, they made note of a very odd piece of per­for­mance art that’s locat­ed at a spot that I often went by for about 15 years. It seems in front of MIT Build­ing 1 (the one with the columns out front), on Mass Ave. in Cam­bridge, an artist named Leonar­do Bonan­ni post­ed some­thing that looked like a bus sched­ule. Except it’s not a bus sched­ule: It’s a “framed piece of paper list­ing the lat­est results on untime­ly deaths/suicides at MIT uni­ver­si­ty.”

It looks like Mr. Bonan­ni has been busy. He’s a 1st Year PhD Stu­dent in the Tan­gi­ble Media Group at the Media Lab, and was recent­ly a final­ist for the Kendall Square Inter­ac­tive Design Com­pe­ti­tion, which appears to have been spon­sored by Lyme Prop­er­ties, the devel­op­er who build many of the Biotech Pow­er­hous­es that now dom­i­nate so much of East Cam­bridge.

Here’s a video of his pro­pos­al.

Kind of cool. Looks like the receiv­er of the very pub­lic cell phone text mes­sage on a huge text crawl was in a room at the Mar­riot, as far as I can tell from the ani­ma­tion. Many oth­er projects of his are host­ed by the Media Lab’s site.

It’s too bad that our paths nev­er crossed while I was liv­ing so close by. I would have liked to met him.

So You Want to Vote to Change the Massachusetts Constitution?

Back in Boston, Gov­er­nor-elect Deval Patrick this morn­ing called on leg­is­la­tors to skip tak­ing a vote on an amend­ment that could ban gay mar­riages in Mass­a­chu­setts.

I believe that adults should be free to choose whom they wish to love and to mar­ry,” Mr. Patrick said. “… Nev­er in the long his­to­ry of our mod­el Con­sti­tu­tion have we used the ini­tia­tive peti­tion to restrict free­dom. We ought not start now.”

Nev­er­the­less, a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment to ban gay mar­riage sur­vived a sec­ond vote in the after­noon after­noon after 62 law­mak­ers moved to advance the ini­tia­tive to the next leg­isla­tive ses­sion, ensur­ing that the bat­tle over same-sex wed­dings will con­tin­ue for at least anoth­er year.

A friend of mine back in Boston, Michael Femia, has a great blog called Bunko Squad. Today he mas­ter­ful­ly skew­ered the polit­i­cal dis­course in a Poll of his own that sug­gests:

If there is a pub­lic vote on same-sex mar­riage, what should we vote on next?

__ Ban­ning Divorce

__ 3‑Child-Per-Cou­ple Min­i­mum

__ Black Peo­ple Eat­ing At Lunch Coun­ters

__ Women Need Hus­band’s Per­mis­sion to Dri­ve

__ Abol­ish Child Labor Laws Down to Age 4

__ End Tax Exemp­tion for Polit­i­cal­ly-Active Reli­gion

Good one, Michael.

If You Can't Stand the Heat...

Odd­ly enough, some of the biggest changes we felt mov­ing to Van­cou­ver from Boston were the weath­er.

First it was the weath­er pat­terns them­selves. Boston’s weath­er was mer­cu­r­ial — not in terms of mov­ing the mer­cury of the ther­mome­ter around a lot (although it did, to a degree), but in the true sense of the word. The days were change­able, con­stant­ly vary­ing, unpre­dictable. The old joke went: If you don’t like the weath­er in Boston, wait 5 min­utes. Van­cou­ver intro­duced us to the mete­o­ro­log­i­cal equiv­a­lent of the long now. Is today sun­ny and pleas­ant? Then that’s how it will be out­side, for a cou­ple of weeks. Is it dark and rainy? Then expect the same for the rest of the month. Weath­er here does­n’t real­ly change here; it slow­ly morphs from one steady state to anoth­er. If cli­mate could be say, musi­cal styles, then Boston weath­er was Miles Davis doing be-bop. Van­cou­ver weath­er is Bruck­n­er, or per­haps Philip Glass.

The sec­ond change was, of course, the dif­fer­ent win­ters. In Boston, Decem­ber through March was snowy, cold, and dark, with occa­sion­al invig­o­rat­ing, bright white days. Here, it is milder, rarely get­ting below freez­ing for more than a dozen hours, but accom­pa­nied by near­ly con­stant rain and dark­ness. I thought that the lat­ter might bring back my Sea­son­al Affec­tive Dis­or­der, which (I now know in ret­ro­spect) doomed much of the time I lived in Rochester, New York years ago to end­less depres­sion. For­tu­nate­ly, I seem to have avoid­ed a relapse, at least this year. (We’ll have to see about next year).

The third big dif­fer­ence has been this week. It’s not real­ly the weath­er, but peo­ples’ reac­tion to it. For a few days now, the tem­per­a­ture has been in the mid to upper 20’s (Centi­grade — that would be high 70s to low 80s in Fahren­heit). Every­one I’ve talked to here has been act­ing as if it was an oven out there. In Boston, these days would be the relief, not the pun­ish­ment. The low humid­i­ty as well as cool breezes off the ocean make for utter­ly pleas­ant days, but to talk to some in my office or neigh­bors, you’d think we’re spend­ing a week in Hades. I’ve been accused of being a bit fussy about tem­per­a­ture (Pam insists on the ‘Mind over Mat­ter’), but some­times I won­der if any­one here (except those from back East, of course), real­ly knows what hot tru­ly is.

True, there is less air con­di­tion­ing here, although Pam and I both expe­ri­ence it at work. Here at home, we face north, and get no direct sun, so we no longer expe­ri­ence the sieges we used to have when we’d get one of those Boston heat waves (and our poor air con­di­tion­er could­n’t get the cold air to the top floor, where we tried to sleep.) I have no doubts what­so­ev­er that Glob­al Warm­ing will be in effect for the rest of my life, regard­less of any changes in the use of fos­sil fuels or oth­er activ­i­ties that might turn things around some day. If this was a hot sum­mer, and the next decades will make them hot­ter still, I’m glad that I’ve at least moved north­ward. Who knows, in 20 years, the new tem­per­ate zone that we move to for retire­ment may be the Nunavut Ter­ri­to­ry.