Archive for the ‘Bar’ category

Friend or coworker

May 30, 2011

I recently came across this blog post on whether your coworkers are just your coworkers or also your friends. It was actually published on my new company’s blog back in 2008. I found the article extremely interesting. I liked how the author personalized the topic by describing her relationship with her coworkers. Here’s an excerpt:

Being 24 years old, living in a city, and having come from a company full of 45 year old financial consultants I thought to myself ‘self, you are going to work with a bunch of cool 20 somethings and drink beers with them, and hang out, and be friends.’ Right, totally. So after a few months, I found myself enjoying this office, these 20 somethings, and the general fun that goes along with hanging out with your co-workers. The problem then becomes, are these people friends? Or are they coworkers?

She goes on to wonder if you can hang out with coworkers in a bar or restaurant (saying all the things friends say to one another in bars and restaurants), and then have a totally professional relationship with them while at work. I’ve sometimes grappled with this question. I like how the author went on to ask her CEO his opinion, and I like even more his response:

“…in your 20’s the people you work with can be very much part of your social network, you spend a ton of time together, usually share similar interests, and are forced in to close quarters. After 29, all bets are off – your life changes, you get married, have kids, then you spend less time worrying about making friends at work and more about managing the friendships you already have [or wondering why you have no friends].”

I really identify with these thoughts. For much of my 20s I spent lots of my free time with coworkers. I mean, it’s really easy to just head over to a bar or restaurant after work with your colleagues, especially if you work downtown. You all have a TON to talk about, as you spend so much time together every day. You can gossip about a coworker who’s not there, discuss your thoughts on a new work policy, or exchange opinions on the company’s evolution.

Now that I’m approaching 30, however, I find myself spending less time with coworkers and more time with friends I already have. Maybe that’s because I’m more settled than I was before (I’m engaged, don’t have plans to move, etc.), and have built a more balanced, multifaceted life.

To me it makes more sense to cultivate a wide variety of friendships than to largely hang out with coworkers. As you get older, you realize that friends are more than just who you are currently spending time with. They are the people you’ll continue to spend time with (or keep in touch with).

Often coworkers are just people you happen to be with at the moment, not people you’ll maintain relationships with after leaving the company. So your time is better spent figuring out who your friends are, in all realms of life, and spending time with those people.

A Harvard Square Saturday

May 15, 2011

Although the weather was pretty bleak, I spent a nice afternoon in Harvard Square on Saturday. I walked there from Porter Square, where I had just gone to the gym.

These photos were taken at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Everett Street, where Harvard University is constructing a new law school building. The building is almost ready, it appears (construction has sure taken awhile!)

Part of the new building

Some of the project crew members

One of the building's arches

As I approached Harvard Square, I spotted a crowd encircling some martial art practitioners/dancers. Here’s a pic:

Listen to the music the martial arts people were moving to by checking out this video:

As I waited for my fiance to finish up an exam at Harvard, I read some of the history displays near Garden Street.

Part of one of the history displays

I learned a bunch of new things about Cambridge, including:

  • Cambridge was first called “Newtowne”
  • The name was changed to Cambridge when Harvard University was founded. Cambridge is a reference to the university city of Cambridge, England.
  • Harvard is named after John Harvard, the university’s first benefactor
  • The Puritans founded Cambridge in 1630. It was meant to be their permanent capital, as the location was safe from an attack by sea. It didn’t last as a political capital, though it became an educational one (with the establishment of Harvard).
  • The community criticized some of Harvard’s early buildings, saying they were “too gorgeous for a wilderness.”
  • In the 18th century wealthy royalists built elaborate mansions and gardens along Brattle Street (the stretch of mansions was called “Tory Row). They had grown  rich from service to the crown and the rum and slavery trade. When the revolution broke, they fled to Canada and England.

Fittingly, on Saturday my fiance and I had lunch at a relatively new restaurant in Harvard Square named Tory Row.

I had some fresh pineapple juice ($2.50) and a grilled marinated chicken breast sandwich with chipotle aioli, mixed greens, and roasted potatoes ($11).

My meal

The roll was nice and soft, the aioli had the perfect kick to it, and the mixed greens and roasted potatoes provided a nice accompaniment to the sandwich.

After lunch, I saw Harvard Square’s newest Starbuck’s. It’s by Citizens Bank and the T.

A sign on the door states the cafe will be opening on May 20 (this Friday). According to comments at the end of this local news post, several business have failed at that location (including an Abercrombie & Fitch).

Harvard Square is such a fun place to walk through. You see guys like this painter, selling their wares.

One of the history displays had mentioned that the country’s first printing press arrived in Cambridge (from England) in the 1630s. I shared this tidbit with my fiance; he told me he knew where the printing press was housed. He took me to Dunster Street, where there’s this plaque.

A little ways down the street we saw this:

What a coincidence! I look forward to trying this place out!

Scholars Bistro in Boston has good food and service

May 2, 2011

At least that was my experience on Saturday evening with a bunch of friends. Scholars American Bistro and Cocktail Lounge just recently opened at 25 School St. in Boston near the Park Street T stop. Their wine is a little pricey (you can’t get a glass for less than $7), but I suppose that’s often the case in downtown Boston.

They have some unusual items on their menu, which I appreciated. Those dishes include rabbit fritters, braised beef tongue sliders, lasagna cupcakes, apple cider pork belly, and prosciutto pizza. I didn’t have the biggest appetite, so I just went with the mussels appetizer.

My mussels

From my experience, it’s kinda hard to screw mussels up. But the smoked salt, tarragon, and roasted tomato sauce made the meal tastier than your average mussels plate. Plus, they provide plenty of bread to dip in the sauce. My fiance had Tuscan flatbread pizza, which included sun-dried tomato, pesto, goat cheese, and red sauce.

My fiance's Tuscan flatbread pizza

He was quite a fan. Another friend of ours, who adores hummus, ordered the Za’atar flatbread pizza. That one’s made up of pine nuts, goats cheese, hummus, and labneh (Middle Eastern yogurt cheese). For an appetizer, another friend ordered some raw oysters. She let me have one, which is always a ton of fun.

Me slurping down the oyster

While staff didn’t seem 100 percent sure of the menu (that’s understandable as the restaurant just opened), they were nonetheless attentive. At one point, there were three waitresses serving us drinks and asking how things were going. When we first arrived (around 6 p.m.), we were practically the only diners in the whole place. But around 8 p.m. or so, things started picking up.

I think this would be a neat place to go for an after-dinner drink or two. Upstairs there’s a billiards room, comfy chairs, and dim lighting. It’s the perfect environment for enjoying one of their many creative cocktails. Beer fans will be glad to know they have 15-plus brews on tap. I will surely return to this awesome restaurant/bistro/lounge!

This chopstick company could use a copy editor

May 1, 2011

While out at the new Scholars Bistro in Boston last night, we noticed this funny language:

I got to see two members of Pearl Jam perform!

March 28, 2011

Last night I attended the Tres Mts. concert at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. The group is composed of Jeff Ament, the bassist for Pearl Jam; Doug Pinnick, the bass guitarist, songwriter, and co-lead vocalist for the hard rock/progressive metal band King’s X; and Richard Stuverud, a drummer who’s played for several bands in the Seattle area.

Mike McCready, the lead guitarist for Pearl Jam, joined the group for their tour. So I got to see him and Ament last night!

Gull, a one-man metal band, was the opening act. This strange dude sings, plays the guitar, and drums simultaneously. I shot this short video of him last night:

After a lengthy performance by Gull, Tres Mts. took the stage. According to Tres Mts.’s Facebook page, Ament first saw Pinnick perform in 1989. He asked him to open some shows for Pearl Jam, and they became friends.

Here’s a video I shot of Tres Mts. last night. First, you see Pinnick. Then, you get a glimpse of Ament playing the guitar. McCready is the red-shirted guitarist in the background.

Here’s another excerpt from Tres Mts.’s performance:

And another:

Here’s some guitar action:

And one more clip:

All in all it was a great show. It was a nice blend of slow and fast songs; I loved Pinnick’s voice, the wonderful guitar playing, and the band’s high level of energy.

Small-town bars

March 5, 2011


When I was living in a country town in upstate New York, there were many of those bars where everyone knows your name. You walk into the establishment, and nearly everyone looks straight up and says “Hey Christine!” (or whatever your name may be).

You walk around, saying “hi” to everyone; hoping you’ll avoid that one guy who gives you a hard time each time you come in (you know, he tries to hug you when you don’t want a hug or asks why you don’t want to go hunting with him). You buy a drink for an incredibly cheap price (or someone buys it for you), and then shoot the breeze with the regulars.

In my upstate New York town, there were a couple of these establishments I’d frequent more than others. I remember going to the first one; being marked by the frequency with which country music was played. Single men in their 40s and 50s would be listening to a sad country tune about an unrequited love while practically crying into their Bud or Michelob lights.

I made the mistake of playing a techno song on the jukebox one evening. “What the H#@& is this?!?!?” several Carhartt-clad men shouted in unison. I looked up, realizing the error of my ways. This was NOT the place to get my techno music fix. We let the song play, however, as several regulars lined up to play their next sappy country ballad.

One night at this bar I had some especially great conversations. I don’t remember what was said exactly, but I do remember one boat salesman saying he had to play me a couple of his favorite songs. This first one will always remind me of my time in this insular yet charmingly simple country town.

I remember that whenever the chorus played, this guy would close his eyes, groove his head to the beat, and belt out the words. He’d passionately utter:

I wake up and tear drops
They fall down like rain
I put on that old song we danced to and then
I head off to my job
Guess not much has changed

Punch the clock
Head for home
Check the phone, just in case
Go to bed
Dream of you
That’s what I’m doing these days

The other song was a little gentler/more meaningful in my opinion. I’m unable to post the YouTube video to this page, so I’ll just link to it. I remember thinking it was nice that this rustic outdoorsman enjoyed such a sweet song (it’s about a love between a father and son).

At the other bar, you’d run into all sort of important people in town: police officers, lawyers, town board members, etc. Initially they knew you (well me and some of my friends at least) as the journalists who interviewed them from time to time. But then, after seeing them there a few times, you were more like a friend. Eventually you barely talked about what you did for a career. Instead, you’d join them in cheering for the Green Bay Packers, playing some darts, or discussing the upcoming dairy parade.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/3841713630

New Year’s resolution #6 (or was it #7 or #10?): Join a French conversation group

January 28, 2011

A photo from my first time in France (on a beach in Nice in 2000)

Prior to moving to Boston two and a half years ago, I pretty much spoke French every week. Whether I was conversing with a French friend over the webcam, speaking French with some fellow francophiles where I was living, or thinking out loud in French, the French language was clearly an important part of my life.

Well, since I arrived here I’ve been really bad at keeping up with the language. I initially joined a French conversation Meetup group, but I wasn’t a fan of the setting. I found that Tommy Doyle’s Irish pub in Cambridge’s Harvard Square was too loud and crowded of a backdrop. So after two sessions I stopped attending the group. I began working as a reporter, and found my evenings taken up with public meetings and article assignments.

When I stopped working as a reporter, I thought I might be able to get involved with another conversation group. But I ended up taking on a part-time restaurant job and signing up for an evening class, eliminating my ability to attend the groups I knew of. Well, my schedule is now more normal, and I see there’s a group that meets one Sunday per month at 5 p.m., a good day and time for me.

The group gathers at The Asgard Irish pub in Cambridge’s Central Square. Because they meet during the day, I’m hoping the clientele isn’t too rowdy. I’m trying out the group this Sunday, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck (I’ll surely need it with my out-of-practice French)!


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