Archive | August, 2013

Labor Day Events

29 Aug

Boston is holding several events in honor of Labor Day Weekend. If you want to take a break from your grilling, check out some of these festivals and events.

The Boston Arts Festival:

This free festival will showcase visual, performance, and craft art from over 60 artists and includes interactive booths.  It runs from Saturday to Sunday and takes place in the Christopher Columbus Park along the Boston Harbor. There will also be a firework display (from the Boston Harbor Cruise) visible from the festival.

Frank Hatch Free Day:

Held at the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum, Frank Hatch Free Day is a day where admission to the museum is free. Visitors can access the entire museum, including the courtyards and the recently opened wing designed by Renzo Piano. Tickets will be handed out in 30 minute intervals starting at 11 am and ending at 4 pm.

Mass Brewers Fest:

This 21+ event features more than 80 different beers to sample from over 30 local Massachusetts breweries. Live music and food will also be available at the festival.

Labor Day Concert:

This concert will feature French recorder player Heloise Dégrugillier playing a program of G.F. Handel’s recorder sonatas accompanied by Bálint Karosi on the harpsichord. The concert, taking place in the First Lutheran Church of Boston, is followed by a rootbeer float reception. Tickets start at $10.

Ben & Jerry’s Fair Trade Music Festival:

On Saturday from 2-7pm, Ben & Jerry’s will be giving out samples of their fair trade treats, while the Ryan Monbleau Band performs. The festival is free to guests and takes place at the Prudential Center.

Christmas in September

27 Aug

It’s that special time of year again. This weekend marks the beginning of Allston Christmas, which takes place on September 1st in Allston, Fenway, Cambridge, Brookline, Brighton, and Mission Hill (The neighborhoods are heavily populated by students.) Around this time of year, when people are making transitions in housing, movers tend to leave their unwanted goods on the sidewalks for anyone to take. This “free-for-all” has come to be known as “Allston Christmas.”

Allston Christmas might be good for people trying to find slightly used items on the cheap, but not everyone thinks it’s a good idea. The city is concerned about the potential health risks, such as spreading infestations of bed bugs. They have started warning scavengers by leaving signs that dissuade people from taking items and have also increased garbage pick up times on the first. Some residents have also had items stolen in the chaos of moving; not every item left unattended on the street is free to a good home. All the moving also causes traffic delays.

If you’re willing to brave the potential health risks, Allston Christmas might be the way to spend your Labor Day weekend.

Making the Charlie Card Fashionable

22 Aug

Two MIT students have started working on an idea that is aimed at making using the MBTA easier. The inventors came up with the idea for the “Sesame Ring”  from having missed the train while struggling to find their Charlie Cards one too many times. Utilizing the online fundraising platform Kickstarter.com, the inventors have been able to fund their invention to the point of manufacturing for mass consumption, but they are currently only supplying rings to those who contributed to the Kickstater campaign. The ring is waterproof and like the actual Charlie Card, rechargeable at any MBTA kiosk.

The MBTA thinks the team have a great invention on their hands. They even provided the team with some of the materials needed to start the project. The project, which started in January has been through several phases of testing, using different subjects, but they’ve finally settled on a design they feel works best for the MBTA. The inventors hope to have the first round of rings for consumers ready by Christmas.

For more information and to order a “Sesame Ring,” check out the Kickstarter page.

Free Pianos?

19 Aug

Boston will soon be home to a new art installation aimed at developing a more interactive community. “Play Me, I’m Yours”, created by artist Luke Jerram, gives people the opportunity to play a piano that has been placed in a public area. The pianos will be scattered throughout the city and will be decorated by local artists. The pianos are open to anyone who wants to play; there are no restrictions as to who can play it or for how long. The pianos are meant to be integrated into the community for the duration of their stay, although how long they are here is to be decided by the specific community the piano is located in.

Jerram focused on community when he devised this installation. Inspired by the silent interaction within the small and spontaneous community of a laundromat, Jerram wanted to create a space that would invoke communication among community members. By adding a piano to a specific space, Jerram feels that people will be more inclined to interact given a catalyst for conversation.

The project has been featured in London, Sydney, Paris, New York City, Sao Paulo, and Barcelona among other cities. The locations of the instruments will most likely be announced in late September.

 

Science Fiction Meets Reality

14 Aug

Science fiction dreams may soon become a reality, with the creation of an actual working jet-pack. This week, the first working jet pack meant for practical use will be taken out on manned test flights. Although the aircraft is in its testing phases, the public can’t expect to see a market ready product until 2015. The estimated cost of this jet pack will start at $100,000 but it’s more likely to cost around $1500,000 to $200,000.

The New Zealand based company, Martin Aircraft, has been working on the jet pack model for about 30 years. Glenn Martin, who designed the jet pack, was inspired by his favorite science-fiction cartoons, seeing something he wanted to make into reality. Now his dream is coming to fruition. The jet pack is currently about 400 pounds and seven feet high and wide. This size makes portability difficult, but it is necessary to encompass the aircraft’s gas engine and cylinders with fans. The jet pack is able to cruise at its maximum speed of sixty miles per hour for about thirty minutes and can reach a maximum height of 8,000 feet. The New-Zealand government is taking notice; they are potentially developing plans to use the jet pack as part of military or emergency training.

Bulger Trial Verdict Decided

12 Aug

The trial of James “Whitey” Bulger has finally come to an end. The jury convicted Bulger on 11 out of 19 murder charges. Bulger was also convicted of money laundering, extortion, gun charges as part of his initial indictment of racketeering. Over all, Bulger was convicted of 31 of the 32 criminal counts he faced.

Whitey Bulger is known for his extensive criminal activities during the 70’s and 80’s, as part of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang. After his crime run ended, he spent sixteen years in hiding, evading police, until he was finally caught in California. At one point in time, he was placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” List.

The two-month long trial ended with a five-day, thirty-two hour long deliberation. Many people have mixed feelings about the result. Bulger claimed he was pleased with the results not because he was not convicted on all charges, but because the trial exposed government corruption. Allegedly, Bulger was an FBI informant during his days as a crime lord. In exchange for information about the gang world, Bulger received inside information from corrupt law enforcement. Others are not so keen on what occurred. Families of the murder victims say some did not fully receive justice.

Sentencing is scheduled for November 13th.

Climate Change

8 Aug

New reports are showing the massive effect that climate change is having on the environment in California. Effecting everything from the ocean to the farming economy, the damage from climate change is widespread. The reports have found “36 indicators” predicting climate change including worsening forest fires, increasing sea levels and temperature, less glacial run-off, and changes in plant and animal migration. The danger in changes like those comes with their secondary effects. The change in the waters, which also includes an increase in acidity, contributed to a drop in the population of Chinook salmon in 2004. Less glacial run-off means less water for hydroelectricity plants and farmers who rely on run-off for irrigation. Reports stated that the state’s temperature has risen 1.5 degrees since 1895. Although that is not a significant amount, the increase in temperature has picked up speed since 1975.

The changes in environment, according to reports, are a clear sign that things need to change. It was noted that there had been a slight decrease in greenhouse gasses over California in recent years, but this is not enough. The alarming details of the report have prompted further monitoring of environment changes.