On The First 7 Days

Jan 23, 2013 | 4 minutes read

Tags: blog

Boston City Centre
Boston City Centre

After my first two days of initial impressions, I’d settled into a normal work week. Things aren’t much different – for now I’m working on the same stuff I was in Ireland. Timezone crossover with the team back at home isn’t such a big deal, and for whatever reason, I’m finding myself actually sleeping properly this week, meaning I wake at ~7, 7.30am every morning.  It’s blissful – as a mild insomniac, I only hope this pattern lasts!

Since I’m eating out at lunch, I’m usually cooking something simple in the evenings. My colleague has worked in the Burlington area before, and we’ve yet  to eat at the same place twice – including the 5 different spots I visited on my last trip over. The selection in Burlington is incredible – wholesome american, mexican, asian, sandwich bar. Also very carb-centric, and difficult to always choose the healthy option with so much temptation.

I went shopping for some household essentials in Target – which is essentially a shop that sells /everything/. I also bought something I thought important to my American adventure – a weighing scales. Curiously, it indicates I’m a stone up from my pre-christmas weight. It cost $7 – I don’t trust it.
None the less, my primary target is to gain any further – which may prove difficult, for the aforementioned culinary reasons.

My first attempt at a run was an interesting experience. Without checking the temperatures for the day, I set off around Burlington. When I got outside, the first thing I noticed was the extreme cold – it felt much worse than before. I figured I must have been imagining it. After the first 500m (up a monster hill), I could feel all the warmth leaving through my hat-less head. I abandoned, with only 1km elapsed. Back in the warmth of the room, I discovered it was -5c outside. Oops – maybe I’ve finally got reason to use the gym.

Paths through Burlington Landlocked Forest
Paths through Burlington Landlocked Forest
The next attempt was slightly more successful, in Burlington Landlocked Forest. I’d set out to find a trail which didn’t involve running through an industrial estate, or suburbia – something properly swallowed up by nature. What I found was a wide clearing through the forest with a gravel service road for the high capacity electricity pylons that ran through – but hey, it was the best I’d found so far! Or so I thought – maybe 1.5km in, the path ended and a freeway began. There were a few trails (pictured right), but more for mountain biking that running. Going to have to work on this one some more…

Driving is proving second nature – having driven so much in Europe, and on a few trips to the states now, the ‘other side’ of the road comes without having to think. I’m seeing a little more truth to the stereotype of Massachusetts drivers – they’re a special breed of awful. Speed limits are pretty ‘fluid’ – and on the freeway, I’m cool with that. Pedestrian crossings mean /nothing/, orange lights mean go faster, and red is just a ‘rough guideline’. Lane discipline on the freeway is pretty non-existent, undertaking is the norm, and the inner-most lane (the ‘slow’ lane) is often the one containing the fastest moving traffic.
It’s still not majorly different to driving in any other major city, however.

Snow on Congress St. on Monday
Snow on Congress St. on Monday
On Monday, the temperatures plummeted back to sub-zero, hovering around -5c. I’d been planning to visit the MongoDB User Group in the city, however the snow started at about 4pm and had began to settle. I needn’t have worried – besides the roads being a little slipper than normal, as you’d expect, it was business as normal. The user group was pretty great – roughly the same turnout as the Dublin user group where I’ve talked before. The presentation was from a company building an ERP platform (think SAP only for small business), and using Mongo heavily – pretty impressive stuff, and a brave move considering the ERP space is typically dominated by a stack of legacy technologies.

That night, I arrived back to find the hotel in total darkness. Turns out the power lines at the end of the street went on fire, and the whole block was without power.
Let me set the scene a little – the hotel is three floors, and three long corridors. It’s a week night in winter, and it’s pretty empty – maybe 6 guests, and I don’t have neighbours. At times, my whole floor is empty. Seen or read Stephen King’s The Shining? Picture a scene from The Overlook Hotel, only less grand.
Now, picture it in total darkness. Yep – fun times!

Tuesday has gotten even colder, it was -8c driving back home tonight, and it’s due to get colder! I’ve still a bunch left on my todo list, all pending on receiving a Social Security Number: Apply for drivers permit, licence, get mobile phone carrier, open bank account, find somewhere to live. Let’s see how all that goes!