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Summer time is construction time on the Tufts campus.  I stepped out of the office to capture the projects closest to Fletcher’s front door.  Happily, there’s not as much disruptive activity this year as there was in July/August 2011, but it’s still not hard to find a piece of construction machinery.  If you happen to be Tufts President Anthony Monaco, the construction is your front lawn.

Though Gifford House is only marginally accessible at the moment, the objective, once the project is complete, is to improve accessibility for all.

Walking down the brand new sidewalks for a few more yards beyond Gifford House, and we have the redesign of the intersection of Packard Avenue and Professor’s Row.  Because Tufts is not walled off from the surrounding community, anyone driving or biking in the neighborhood might travel on one of these streets.  A new raised intersection should improve safety.

These and the other projects on campus are due to be complete before Orientation, meaning more eyes that those in Fletcher Admissions are watching the calendar to be sure we’re ready for the return of students.

 

What’s better than talking about my weekend?  Talking about my vacation, of course.  Last week, I was blog-postless while enjoying some time on Cape Cod.  Not being a Massachusetts native myself, I don’t have stories of generations of family all vacationing on the Cape, but we’ve started our own tradition of occasional summer visits to Eastham.  People often compare the shape of the Cape to an arm making a fist.  Eastham is well along the arm, but south of the fist itself:

I would describe Eastham as offering just the right amount of nothing.  That is, there are several restaurants and a couple of motels, but when Kayla wanted to find a public spot with Wi-Fi access, she needed to bike to Orleans, the next town to the south.  What Eastham does offer is beaches along Cape Cod Bay, ocean beaches that are part of the National Seashore, and a few fresh-water kettle ponds.  Making it easy to go from one to the next are two great bike paths — the Cape Cod Rail Trail, and a path to Coast Guard Beach.  Could we need anything more to keep us busy?

We entertained a small but shifting cast of characters in a rental house for a week, and managed to take advantage of all the things that we consider attractions, in addition to the usual beaches.  We went to Wellfleet twice — once for the Wellfleet Drive-In, and once to walk through the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp at Marconi Beach.  (Marconi having sent the first trans-Atlantic radio transmission originating in the U.S.)

Americans usually learn that the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, and Plymouth certainly played its important role in U.S. history.  But, in fact, the Pilgrims first landed at the tip of the Cape, near Provincetown.  Our week included two treks to Provincetown, where we mixed a bit of shopping with trips up the pier to drop one of our visitors at the ferry.

If you’re at Fletcher this fall (or a future one), you can easily experience a bit of Cape Cod with a day trip.  An hour’s drive will take you to Sandwich, where you can bike along the Cape Cod Canal.  Or perhaps you’d prefer to relax on the ferry to Provincetown.  If you bring a bicycle onto the ferry, it’s easy to get around Provincetown, though even traveling on foot allows you to cover a lot of territory.

My week’s vacation is behind me now and it took me all day yesterday to clear the email and other stuff that awaited me.  I’ll return the blog to admissions topics later this week.

 

Well, I didn’t get it together this week to report on my weekend.  But, with service to my readership in mind, I’ll just mention the restaurant we went to.  You may be looking for an interesting meal this weekend, and I wouldn’t want you to go hungry (or uninspired).

Much as I love going to the beach, the visit is undeniably enhanced by a good dinner.  So last Sunday, when it was quite hot, we went to Revere for a little sea/sun/sand, and some Cambodian food.  First, we checked out this year’s sand sculptures (always creative and odd at the same time).

And then we headed off to Thmor Da, our favorite Revere dinner venue.  Not just us — the Boston Globe likes it, too!  (Personally, I could eat the papaya salad every day.)  If you’re making a plan with friends tonight, consider taking a ride on the Blue Line to Thmor Da.  Or, if you’re not in town, file this away in your mental restaurant directory, and make the trip when you’re at Fletcher.

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The fact that I didn’t write about my weekend yesterday or on Monday may have had you breathing a sigh of relief.  Alas, I’m not giving up so easy on my favorite blog topic — I just didn’t have time to do it justice.  Even today, I’m only going to mention two activities that were a little different from my usual.  The first was a bike ride on Sunday morning to Torbert Macdonald Park in Medford.  As we were riding through the tall reeds by the side of the Mystic River, Paul said, “It’s like being in….”  I couldn’t hear the end of his sentence, but it doesn’t matter.  Whatever he may have said, the point is that riding along the park path is certainly not like being close to a major roadway across from an auto dealer.  Our ride took an hour and a quarter, including some diversions, but it could easily be done in an hour or less from campus.

On the opposite end of the activity spectrum (earning calories, rather than burning them), Kayla and I made a pilgrimage to Verna’s Donut Shop in North Cambridge.  The Boston area has a high donut to population ratio, this being traditional donut country, and Verna’s takes you back to kinder, gentler donut days.  Plus, Verna’s donuts are delicious.  After drinking our coffees and eating our donuts (one plain, one glazed), we headed for the door, but not before indulging in an additional purchase, a whoopie pie.

That neighborhood of North Cambridge — given the way Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford nest together — is only a mile from campus, and it’s loaded with great little restaurants.  Walk over to Verna’s for a donut, and pick a place for a future dinner, too.

 

Summer blogging is easy when I convince myself that writing about my weekend gives incoming or prospective students a glimpse of what’s happening around town.  Although Paul and I have our roots in larger cities (London and New York), we have lived in the Boston area for a long time, and I love the range of activities that are so easily accessible.  With that, I will now proceed to tell you about my busy weekend.

I was off from work on Thursday and Friday, and I’ll start my weekend rundown with Thursday.  After dropping my bicycle off to be tuned and running a few more errands, I headed over to Yoshi’s (Japanese food at moderate prices, right near campus) for lunch.  There, I met Helen Anderson from the Office of Career Services and another old Fletcher friend for a reunion.  The three of us hadn’t managed to get together in a long time, and we only barely managed to eat while maintaining a lively conversation covering all relevant topics.

After lunch, I went over to Hanscom Air Force Base to attend a ceremony honoring a friend and her work.  She has been a civilian with the Air Force for many years, but now she’s off to new adventures.  I have been near and around the base before, but never on it — a new adventure for me.

Thursday evening found us at the Somerville Theater in Davis Square for a concert (music and a dose of politics) by Billy Bragg.  Davis was hopping on a warm summer night!

Friday was taken over by domestic chores, but after dinner Paul and I met up with Kristen and her family (husband Sam and daughter Lucia) at the annual Cambridge Dance Party.  Little Lucia has some really special moves! But she also has an early bedtime, so off they went and Paul and I circled around, meeting up with a few friends.  We stayed long enough to see City Hall covered in lights.

On Saturday afternoon, we hopped on the T and walked along the Boston waterfront, viewing the tall ships that were in town for the Harborfest.

It’s a particularly big event this year, including both Navy Week and the tall ships with OpSail Boston, and coinciding with the bicentennial of the War of 1812.  I particularly liked this little boat.  If he eats well, he can grow up into a full-sized tugboat:

Along the way, we were distracted by the Institute of Contemporary Art and dashed in to see an exhibit of glassworks by Josiah McElheny.  The ICA is cantilevered over the harbor.

You see those people through the front window of the building?  Here’s their view:

Dinner was in Brighton (a neighborhood of Boston) with my cousin and my cousin’s cousins, including a two-week old baby whose mother is a double Jumbo (undergrad and Friedman).

Sunday morning, bright and early, Paul and I dashed up to our favorite beach in Revere.  I am Revere’s biggest fan — I love the ethnic mix on the beach whenever we’re there (primarily Russian spoken in the morning, Portuguese in the afternoon).  We grabbed breakfast at a local restaurant where I can always count on seeing a big group of long-time customers in the midst of lively conversation.

After lunch, Paul took Josh out to shop for appropriate clothing for his new workplace, and I took Kayla out to find the extra-long twin sheets and other things she’ll need for her college dormitory.  Back home in time to see Spain top Italy in the Euro 2012 Football Championship.  A busy weekend-plus, which supplied me with a blog post, and which I hope gives you a sense of how much can be done within a short distance of Fletcher.

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It is hot hot hot today, but on another day, when a walk outside would be more enjoyable, I’m going to saunter over to the gallery at the Aidekman Arts Center to check out two new exhibits.  The first is The Boston–Jo’burg Connection — interesting art with an interesting back-story.

Rounding out my cultural field trip will be a second exhibit — photographs by university photographers.  Though most of the pix are not closely linked to Fletcher life, I like to imagine that our students get out into the greater community now and then.

If you visit Fletcher this summer, consider leaving a little time to wander around the Tufts campus and check out the Arts Center.  But if you don’t have time to cross campus, you don’t need to go culture-free.  The Fletcher Perspectives exhibit of student photography is conveniently located in Ginn Library.

Perspectives is a student-run organization and it has just emerged from a year’s hiatus.  The photos currently on display represent a variety of styles and locations, including this one from Turkey.

No plans for a visit this summer?  Check out the complete collection online.

 

As someone who can fall victim to distractions, I’ve always valued the slightly-out-of-the-center-of-things location of Tufts.  Students can focus on student life while on campus.  Or they can wander a short distance from campus to surrounding neighborhoods with food, services, and fun.  A short distance further off, they’re in the broader academic community of Cambridge.  Or, with little fuss, they can take advantage of all that Boston has to offer.  For starters, from Fletcher, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the subway (which we all call “the T”).  Bus lines broaden the territory covered by mass transit (and make it easy for students to find housing with easy access to campus).  Here’s what our options look like:

Buses 80, 94, and 96 actually come onto the campus, and the 87, 88 have stops five minutes from Fletcher.   (Curtis Street and Packard Avenue bracket Fletcher on the Tufts campus.  You can find the full map here.)  So transportation links are pretty easy.

But what if all these multicolored noodles of bus and subway lines make it seem that traveling to Boston is a major expedition?  Well, if you have a little time, you can always choose to walk or bike.  Here’s one suggested route, for a day when you want to ice skate at the Boston Common (or, in summer, join the crowd of children splashing in the spray pool):


View Larger Map

Sure, it’s five miles, but five miles seems like a nice balance — a quiet campus that’s only a long walk from everything.

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Planning to be in the Boston area this week?  Take advantage of this once-in-four-years opportunity to attend the Los Fletcheros Leap Day Extravaganza.  Fletcheros and fans will be gathering Wednesday, February 29 at Johnny D’s at 8:00 p.m.  Fletchero press releases claim that the “The Los Fletcheros Leap Day Extravaganza Event is one of the most highly anticipated events of Davis Square’s quadrennial celebration!”

Blog readers, don’t be disturbed by the Fletcheros’ tendency to overuse articles (“the” and “Los”) in English and Spanish.  And do consider attending.

I know one thing I won’t be doing on Sunday afternoon or evening.  I will not be speaking to my son, Josh.  Why?  Because Josh is a HUGE fan of the New England Patriots, and our local football team is playing in its first Super Bowl since 2008.  (The less said about the 2008 game, the better.)  All Josh’s Sunday energy will be tied up with willing the Patriots to victory, and a phone call from his mother will not be welcome.

Boston is a sports town, but it hasn’t always been the host of winning teams.  Until, suddenly, it was.  Now there’s an annual expectation that some team in some league should be winning.  Not the Red Sox this year?  The Bruins will take their place in local sports fans’ hearts.  Hopes are riding high for the Patriots.

Fletcher, being an international community, includes many people with limited knowledge of American football.  Into that information gap step second-year students Chris and Charlie, who have kindly offered a one-time seminar on the game.  Inviting their fellow students to attend (via the Social List, of course), they said:

Every year in September, Americans go absolutely crazy.

We reconstruct our social lives so that we have nothing to do on the weekends and can spend hours in front of the TV.  Our mental sanity is based on the success and/or failure of 18 and 19-year-old amateurs or 35-year-old professionals with reconstructed knees, hips, and ankles, and potential brain injuries.  We spend billions of dollars to sit outside in the freezing cold or the blistering heat, only to get really, really angry.

Why do we do this?  Because we love our football.  Our American football.  Our gridiron.  This Sunday, the crazy will come to an insane peak.  Over 100 million Americans will watch three hours of Super Bowl action between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.

If you’re interested in learning about the game of football, then join us for an explanation of the sport, the industry, and the passion.  In addition to being useful this Sunday, it might serve you in the future — around the water cooler, on a date, or even at a conference.  We Americans love our sports (especially football) and often end up talking about it, probably more often than we should.

For those interested in the international relations side of American football, two players in the Super Bowl have noteworthy backgrounds.  Mathias Kiwanuka, a player for the New York Giants, is the grandson of the first Prime Minister of Uganda, Benedicto Kiwanuka.  And Sebastian Vollmer, a player for the New England Patriots, is the only German in the National Football League.

Trust Fletcher students to find the international angle!  With the community educated, and my fingers crossed for Josh and all Boston sports nuts, we’re counting down to the game.  Go Pats!

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This past week was so busy that, alas, I didn’t have a chance to tell you about the Honk Fest or the dueling Davis Square and Harvard Square Oktoberfests, or any of the other events that kept us busy last weekend.  I don’t have much planned for this weekend, but I hope the weather will hold out for some apple picking.  Meanwhile, a quick note that the Office will be closed on Monday, October 10 for a public holiday.  We’ll be back on Tuesday the 11th, and counting down to our first application deadline of the year, for students who wish to enroll in January 2012!

 

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