The blizzard of 2013

The blizzard of 2013 was not technically a blizzard, but it was certainly a big snowstorm with strong winds and 26″ of accumulated snow — in Cambridge at least. (It wasn’t a blizzard because the wind and visibility criteria were not met. “By definition, a blizzard occurs when the following happens: winds reach a sustained speed or frequent gusts of 35 miles per hour at the same time the visibility is at or less than one-quarter mile due to snow or blowing snow.”)

Even before the first snow flake fell we knew it was going to be a big storm. TV, radio, on-line media was going crazy about the storm. And when it comes to weather events I just get sucked into the hype. I normally do not watch much TV, but when there is a storm coming up I can’t get enough of the weather forecasts. I mean, all of the weather forecasts, on every channel, non-stop. But in the end Harvey Leonard on Channel 5 is my trusted weather source. What I didn’t really get into was the name Nemo: I guess the Weather Channel started a thing where they name snowstorms, and this one was named Nemo. Hurricanes do have official names, but to me unofficially starting naming snow storms is a little too much.

The forecast was calling for the storm to start around noon on Friday, so the office closed at 11 a.m. I went to Whole Foods to get a couple of things, and it was so busy, it looked like a Market Basket wannabe. It started snowing lightly on Friday afternoon and intensified on Friday night into Saturday morning. In addition to the standard snow emergency procedures that go with a forecast of 2-foot snow accumulation, the Governor of Massachusetts issued a travel ban starting 4 pm on Friday, virtually banning all travel from all the roads in the State. The ban was largely heeded, and anyone breaking the ban would be subject to $500 fine and up to a year in prison, we were told. Travel ban aside,  I had to go from North Cambridge to Spring Hill in Somerville and back, and I had to drive. So I drove. The streets were eerily quiet, the empty streets coated with snow. I saw people cross country skiing and a few people walking around. Driving down Highland Ave I found a deserted street, with flashing lights of police cruisers and plows, and a couple of lone figures trying to walk against the wind. Thankfully I wasn’t stopped by the police. And even if I were, I had prepared a list of excuses to get away with it.

The winds picked up late Friday night and the snow was coming down heavier. When I got up on Saturday morning everything looked blanketed with snow. Mass. Ave and the bike path were completely covered by seemingly deep snow. It was bright and beautiful. People were walking and cross country skiing along the bike path.

The travel ban was still in effect until Saturday 4 p.m. When I went out for a walk in the afternoon it was quite nice to see people enjoying the snow, kids having a blast. Seven Hills Park at the Davis Square T stop turned into a snowmen park. No cars on the roads meant people on the roads. Walking on the street was much easier than walking on the sidewalks which were pretty much still covered by almost two feet of snow.

The wind drifts created 4 feet high piles at some places. Walking on Highland Ave you could see people had started digging their cars out, cars completely covered with at least a foot of snow. Some side streets looked like they hadn’t been plowed at all. Even where the streets were plowed, the travel lane width was reduced. And trying to clear the snow off sidewalks, driveways and cars did not get any easier as there was no room to put the snow.

I finally made it to Spring Hill in Somerville with my right hand almost frozen. I helped shovel a sidewalk and driveway, and actually that was my first time shoveling.  The snow was light, but still my shoulders and upper back got really sore. And that made me appreciate the fact that my car is parked in a parking garage and the sidewalk around my building is shoveled by a crew.

Later in the evening I walked to Harvard Square, and it was quite something to walk around the quiet city. Everything looked beautiful covered in fresh white snow. But what I enjoyed the most was the silence. Walking everywhere made me think of our ancestors, who at some point in our history did just that, they walked everywhere.

On Sunday things slowly started to return to normal. More plowing, more shoveling, more digging out. Mountains of snow in every intersection made driving and walking dangerous, and you could see dump trucks hauling snow away. It is now raining, so the snow is getting heavier. Most catch basins are under feet of snow, and the streets are already looking messy. This week is supposed to be rather warm and there will be some snow melt, but I wonder how long it will take for the last of the 26″ of snow to go away.

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In Case You Didn’t Know, U2 Was In Davis

As everybody knows U2 played at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square last night. It was an invitation-only show: you could either be in the band’s or the promoter’s network or you could win at contests that radio stations had going on last week. I tried to call to a couple of radio stations, but of course no luck. The venue was held secret up to the last minute, but one day before the show when crews were carrying gear and the road behind the theatre was closed, it wasn’t so secret anymore.

I walked to Davis yesterday afternoon and it was very calm. I had to get back to work, but it was very easy to follow the action on-line. Local reporters were tweetering about everything, and local blogs were instantly uploading photos and video.  Constant updates on facebook and constant tweets made me feel like I was there: “they are here”, “they are shooting a video” etc etc

A little before 9pm I walked to the square again and the scene wasn’t as crazy as I would expect it to be. Joshua Tree and the Burren were very busy. People gathered behind barricades across the street from the theater, as if waiting for Bono to come out of the front door and say hi. I noticed that “U2” didn’t appear on the theatre marquee, that would have been a cool photo! Anyway, when the buses arrived carrying the lucky ones who would attend, I walked through them, and they were holding their special tickets in a way that I felt the urge to snatch one or two. But the security all around was tough and mean-looking, making me abort my last-resort plan to sneak into the theater by pretending I am a custodian, who does not speak English. Oh, well.

Then I made my way at the back door of the theater. I tried to sneak in in the press area, it worked for 5 minutes, until a security guy noticed. I found a good spot to stand with clear view of the band’s SUVs. The driver of one of the cars was nice enough to tune to a radio station that was broadcasting the show live and blast it, so we could hear what was going on inside. Hey, we were part of it, yay! They played, I don’t know, 5 or 6 songs and then there was a brutal Q&A session, where Adam admitted that it’s cool to sit back and let two people do the work, and that if he wasn’t a musician he would like to be a fashion photographer…

That was done at around 10pm. Excitment was building up, there were going to come out any time now, right? Wrong. Well, it felt like it took them ages to come out; the wind was picking up and my fingers turned numb. I don’t know what time they finally made their exit, a little after 10:30pm, I think. First Bono came out and came towards our area, greeting fans, then Adam and right behind him the Edge. They were all smiling. Larry made it out a little later. It’s funny but these days when you see celebrities the first thing you do is point a camera or cell phone with a camera at their face. It’s like we’re not really seeing and experiencing anymore, we’re instantly documenting. Myself guilty as charged.

Anyway, it was cool to see them from up close, it was cool that they played in my neighborhood. U2 was at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square, Somerville. How cool!

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“Interpreting East Somerville” Photo Exhibition Opening Night

Tonight’s the opening night for the “Interpreting East Somerville” photo exhibition. The opening reception will take place tonight at the Somerville City Hall (93 Highland Avenue) from 5:30 to 7:30pm. The works of 43 local photographers will be on display through mid January at the City Hall.

One of my photographs was chosen for the exhibition and I will be there tonight!!!scan0001

My photo made it to the postcard, yay (see top left corner)!

Interpreting East Somerville

I am very happy that one of my photographs, “Cross Street Bridge” (see East Somerville post) was selected for the Interpreting East Somerville photo exhibition! Interpreting East Somerville is a community photographic exhibition presented by East Somerville Main Streets. The exhibition will open at the Somerville City Hall on Thursday, November 20, 2008 and will go on until January 2009.

I look forward to the exhibition!

Tour de Somerville 2008

Tour de Somerville is an annual bike ride organized by Somerville’s Bicycle Committee. The 2008 Tour de Somerville was held on Saturday October 18, 2008. It was a 15-mile long ride mainly along the outer edges of the City of Somerville. You can view a map of the ride and cue sheet at http://somervillebikes.org/.

I initially thought it was going to be kinda chilly, but it turned out to be sunny and pretty comfortable. The ride started at 10am at the Seven Hills Park and ended at 1pm at Kenney Park. The pace was rather slow, but it was accomodating to the diverse crowd of bikers, meaning all ages and various fitness levels.  It was really nice having Somerville Police officers riding with us, which meant that the roads belonged to us (yay!!!) and generally made the ride safer.

At some point we rode along the Mystic River Parkway (Route 16):

At some point later we stopped at Broadway and Bristol Pearson Road

waiting for Mayor Curtatone to address the crowd. He showed up with one of his super cute sons

She had the coolest helmet on:

Later on we stopped at the Somerville Boys and Girls Club’s Blessing of the Bay boathouse by the Mystic River for refreshments 

where I snapped this picture of the youngest (I think) participant of the Tour, with Mom, Dad and one of the police officers

I guess around 100 people joined for the ride, and I am sure they enjoyed it. I met some new people and even had the chance to say hi to bassist Pete Sutton of the Ray Corvair Trio. A pleasant Saturday morning indeed!

HONK! 2008

Well, it was a long weekend (I love Monday holidays!). I’m glad I had the chance to go out and about. The weather was marvelous, but still there’s no mistaking that Autumn is upon us: yellow and red leaves have flooded the streets, the parks and the forests.

Saturday we stayed urban and checked out the HONK! 2008 festival in Davis Square, Somerville. Activist brass bands from different places get together and there is much noise, color and excitement for the bands and the crowds. I like this kind of music, rhythmic and urgent and danceable. Davis was crazy busy! I brought my new D90 with me to take some pictures, but I got bored with it quickly. Most of the photos I took are of the Brass Messengers;  they were pretty cool!!!