Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Feliz 2009

It is 11:30pm, and I am watching Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin on CNN to ring in the new year in Provincetown, MA. The weather has been horrible - it took us more than 7 hours to drive from Boston to Provincetown today. Because it took us so long, no sooner did we arrive at our condo then we had to dash off to Ciro and Sals to make our reservation for our last dinner of the year.

Now that we have settled back into our temporary home, I feel much better and relaxed. The weather outside is incredible. The wind is howling and the snow limits visibility but we have an amazing view of the Provincetown monument which is beautifully lit in Christmas lights. I am sure that tomorrow when we wake outside will look like a winter wonderland. For tonight it is quite romantic.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My 2008 Retrospective

One of the reasons I started my blog was to record my thoughts and so as 2008 draws to a close, I wanted to revisit some of the high and low points from the year.
Although there were no visits to Broadway shows in NYC this year, I was able to get out and see the following shows: Spamalot, Avenue Q, Whizzin, The Light in the Piazza, Varla Jean Loves a Foreign Tongue, and All About Eve. Additionally, I went to see both Margaret Cho and Kathy Griffin when they visited Boston. I also had excellent seats to see George Michael who put on a fantastic show.

As with most Americans the majority of my travel this year was close to home, but I was able to get away a few times. I started 2008 in sunny, warm Fort Lauderdale. In the spring, I spent a cozy weekend with my entire family on the coast of Maine and later in the summer I spent long weekends in both Newport, RI and Provincetown, MA. I also made a mad dash to NYC to see the US Open in August with my former co-worker and friend Stephanie. This past November / December I visited Brasil and spent time in Belo Horizonte, Buzios, and Sao Paolo. Lastly, I will be leaving tomorrow to say good bye to 2008 from chilly Provincetown. All, told I visited 8 cities / towns and packed my bags for vacation a total of 7 times - not shabby.

In February, I accepted a job to work for a well respected professional services firm and left my job at The Bostonian Group after nearly 4 years of service to the firm. The chance to join the Healthcare practice at this firm was a no brainer and something I have no regrets about but it was difficult leaving an organization where I had made so many wonderful friends.

The most upsetting change in 2008 happened on May 21st when my grandmother "Nana" passed away. Her passing was a forgone conclusion and had been expected for several months but it was still very upsetting and she is dearly missed. I can see how much she is missed in the eyes of her children who have spent the past 6 months learning to cope without their mother.

In June candidate Obama clinched the Democratic nomination making him the first man of color from either party to accomplish such a feat. Five months later he would go on to be the first African American elected to be President of the United States. Finally, after eight years, I felt like reason and intelligence won the day over fear and a desire to elect a President you would want to share a beer with - jeesh!

Other Great Moments in 2008
- Gov. Deval Patrick is one of the first (if not the first) sitting governor to walk in a Pride Parade. He does it to show his love and support for his daughter as well as to show his support for GLBT equality.

- The Red Sox and Patriots season may not have ended in victory but the Celtics accomplish an amazing turn around thanks to the addition of Kevin Garnett and others. Helping the Green Machine crush the LA Lakers (how sweet) and win their league leading 17th NBA Championship title.

- I attended my very first Tennis major by going to the US Open in NYC and was able to see first week matches played by Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams. Sweet!

- The Beijing Olympics and Michael Phelps combined for a one-two knock out punch that made the 2008 Summer Olympics probably the most amazing I will ever see in my lifetime.

Thank you for the memories 2008... I look forward to 2009.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Medical Research Project

The morning of Christmas Eve, I had my third of four visits to Mass General Hospital for the medical research project I am participating. My final visit will occur in mid-January and at that point I can find out which group I had been placed for the study. I've found the entire process very interesting despite some of the side affects. I would hate to think that the side affects I just alluded to have all been psychologically induced, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility that I was receiving the placebo. I will have to wait another 3 weeks to find out for certain. has an interesting pictoral history of Mass General Hospital which initially opened its doors in 1821. The photograph I've included is the first image in a series that is shared on the site. There are some great black and white photos of patients and nurses as well as some interesting facts about the hospital. For example, MGH held the very first demonstration of the use of anesthesia back in 1846. You can check out the photographs and read more about the storied history of Mass General Hospital by linking here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my father's birthday. In addition to being one of the best father's any kid could ever hope to be blessed to have, he is a wonderful person and loving grandfather. The older I become, the more I use my father as a measure of the man I want to become.

Happy birthday Dad - I love you more than I can adequately express in words.

Boxing Day

Yesterday, December 26th was Boxing Day, and a close friend originally from Manchester, U.K. who now calls Boston her home, hosted an intimate dinner party in honor of the holiday. Boxing Day is a 'bank holiday' in the U.K. and is widely celebrated in many Commonwealth Nations (e.g. Canada, Australia, etc...)
I'm not sure when Boxing Day became an official banking holiday but my friend told me that it was traditionally observed by the wealthy in England to provide gifts to the less fortunate.

However, now most people celebrate with friends or shop for post-holiday sales. My friend used the occassion this year to host a fun dinner party complete with a competitive game of Twister. The fact that our bellies were full and more empty bottles of wine than I'm willing to admit were strewn through out her apartment meant the game only lasted two or three spins before someone would fall and knock everyone over. I vaguely remember falling but have a very sore spot on my knee to remind me should I forget that part of the evening. I'm hoping that this dinner party becomes a holiday tradition my friend wants to repeat. It was a wonderful introduction to the holiday and a great way to celebrate Boxing Day.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Wishing all a happy and peaceful Christmas holiday filled with pleasant surprises and laughs to share with someone special.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I love the holidays

The Christmas holiday is fast approaching and today is really the last day of work I have until the new year. I am so excited that I will have the next 12 days off it makes me forget how freezing cold it is here in Boston right now and want to dance.

However, since it is well documented that I have no rhythym, I'll let the guys from Brasil in this video do all the dancing for me. We both seem to share a sense of excitement and contentment at the moment - they are just more expressive and better at showing this through dance.

You can see scores of Brasilians doing this and variations of this dance on YouTube if you type in the search feature, "Cueca Funk". This particular video which was posted on YouTube more than a year ago has had more than 800,000 hits. I can see why... eat your heart out Dancing with the Stars.

This video was also recently posted on a blog I enjoy reading, Wicked Gay Blog, entitled "Parar relembrar porque amamos o Brasil" which translates to "to remember why we love Brasil"... enough said.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Best Editorial Cartoons of 2008

The Boston Globe has posted Dan Wasserman's best OpEd cartoons from 2008. Many of these are quite funny. I've included one of my favorites. If you would like to link to to see all of Dan's cartoons link here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Some of my favorite destinations

I recently returned from a two week visit to Brazil and had a great time so I added my comments about the place we stayed (Casas Brancas) to Trip Advisor. I use the website to help me plan my travels by reading recent comments left by travellers and to validate information I read on the web.

After I left my comments Trip Advisor asked me to rank some of my favorite places. I don't know that I would really rank any of the destinations below as better than another. Each destination has a special place in my heart and provide me with some wonderful memories. Actually, the list is too short to really encompass all the places I've been which I would happily return to, but I thought I'd include it here on my blog since Trip Advisor makes it so easy to share. Perhaps in the future I'll look back and feel compelled to add new destinations I've yet to visit.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Boston remains relatively quiet and very pretty this afternoon. Temporarily, everything is still pristine - transforming the city into a winter wonderland.

Unfortunately for the retailers, the snowfall seems to have deterred many people from outside the city from coming into Boston today. Fortunately, this made it fairly easy to get around by car so we drove to Jamaica Plain for some hot chocolate at J.P. Lick's.

Getting out and spending the afternoon has helped to avoid any feeling of cabin fever. On the drive home, I snapped the following pictures of Fenway Park and the Cask n Flagon. Check out how long the icicles are which hang from Fenway's Game On.

A Wicked Blizzard

Boston's first snowfall started at 2:00pm on the Friday before Christmas and while I'm unsure of the exact total of the fluffy white stuff there is plenty to guarantee a white Christmas. Most businesses sent employees home early and the effects of that were obvious in the South End where I live. Retailers, banks and even restaurants closed early either out of safety concerns for their employees or because the powerful storm would not make it worthwhile to remain open.

Earlier this evening I walked down Washington Street which was absolutely beautiful in its near deserted state. If it had not been for all the snow blowing around making it difficult to walk, I probably would have stayed out longer. For the most part only dinner-delivery drivers, plow trucks and Silver Line buses were on the road. Restaurants were mostly quiet (Union was actually closed) belying the fact that it was a Friday during the holiday season.

I (accompanied with my friends) stomped into Pho Republique for a dinner. To provide an idea of both how much snow was billowing down Washington Street and show how quiet the restaurants were earlier this evening I've included a picture of the restaurant looking out on to Washington Street.

I generally don't care for snow, but I have to admit it is fun when Boston has this deserted feeling and only those who live in the neighborhood are out and about. It is also nice to have this kind of storm where the snow is fluffy and white - not mixed with ice or freezing rain. On our walk home, my partner channeled his inner child and made a snow angel. I even showed my partner and our friend (both originally from Brazil) how to make a snow ball.

Other people in the neighborhood were obviously channeling similar energies. The picture below shows a handful of guys out in front of my apartment in the BSC parking lot in a large snowball fight that seemed more filled with shouts and laughs than actual snowballs.

The forecast through the rest of the weekend is for more snow and cold temperatures. I am curious to find out how much snow actually does end up falling in Boston. I would guess that we have 6" - 7" total right now, but it could be more. There are better pictures on The Boston Globe's website, which can be viewed by linking here. Interestingly, also has a delicious guide to some of the city's best places to get hot chocolate. If this weather persists, I might just be compelled to try a few of these places. If you too like hot chocolate you can see the Globe's picks here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Jon Stewart and Mike Huckabee

As shared in this week's Bay Windows.

"I think you are looking at sexuality and not attributes, and it’s odd because the conservative mantra is a "meritocracy", and I think what you are suggesting is the fact that being gay parents makes you not as good as others and I would suggest that a gay, loving family with a financially stable background beats the hell out of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline any day of the week." - Jon Stewart, discussing same-sex marriage and parenting with Baptist minister and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, The Daily Show, Dec. 9.

My Hope for Expanding Healthcare Coverage

I am very passionate about expanding access to healthcare and finding ways to make the US health system both more affordable and easier to navigate. I don't have any illusions about how monumental such an undertaking will be but I also don't believe that this is a challenge too great for the United States - even in light of the current economic malaise. As a matter of fact, I believe that the downturn in the economy which is certain to increase the numbers of uninsured and further strain the employer-based health system could be the impetus needed to start reforms.

I am heartened by the fact that Massachusetts' universal healthcare system (while not without faults and problems) is considered a success by virtually everyone and is now being used as a model for several health reform plans in Washington, D.C. Today, The Boston Globe published an interesting story entitled "Mass Health Plan Has National Appeal" that explains how our state has taken a leadership role in addressing expanding coverage. At work, I recently was part of a national conversation that addressed the current ills associated with the U.S. Health system and the need for reform.
Changes will come slowly in the form of an expansion of SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Plan) which is all but certain to be signed into law this spring. This is an important first step in expanding coverage and placing emphasis on prevention and wellness, but so much more needs to happen and I am excited by what the incoming administration might do. I think most people would agree that the current administration's decision to do nothing for the past eight years has not resulted in any market self-corrections. More people have lost their health coverage (uninsured numbers are now estimated to be an astonishing 47 million people); for those lucky enough to have coverage they are finding themselves paying more out-of-pocket each year; and businesses are straining to keep up with increases to their health plans which have typically been 3-4 times greater than inflation for more than a decade.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

9th Annual Santa Speedo Run a Success

I have been reading several local blogs to find pictures from this year's Santa Speedo Run in Boston. As usual posted a bunch of pictures which you can view here, but the Loaded Gun has included pictures from two friends. I know it is bad form to pilfer without properly crediting your source so I've lifted the appropriate text from the Loaded Gun blog and hope that they don't mind.

As written on Loaded Gun, "Click here for Marciela's revealing Flickr photostream and here for Derek Lumpkin's pics from the event. Also, click here for a video giving the, um, naked truth exposing all of those "Philly Boys" who make the trek to Boston for charity."

I had intended to go down to Boylston Street to see the runners but I was not able to get there in time for the race and will have to wait until next year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Santa Speedo Run 2008 - December 13th

This Saturday, December 13th the 9th annual Santa Speedo Run will take place to benefit Cradles to Crayons, a local charity that provides basic necessities to children. Each year this 1+ mile race raises money for a worthwhile charity as well as a few eyebrows as several hundred men and women run in little more than their speedos down the frigid streets of Boston. This year the forecast indicates the weather will be sunny but with temperatures expected in the 20s it will definitely be a tough run for many people.

This run has taken off quite literally and is now done in several other cities. Check to see if your city hosts their own Santa Speedo Run and slip on your suit.

I've included a video from YouTube of last year's Santa Speedo Run in Boston.

*Thanks to Made in Brasil for the picture...

All About Christmas Eve

Last month I mentioned that the Gold Dust Orphans would be performing "All About Christmas Eve" in December.

The show opened last weekend while I was still in Brasil, and the reviews have been great. Louise Kennedy of The Boston Globe loved the play - you can read her review here.

I am going to see the show tomorrow (Friday) with several friends and would encourage anyone in the Boston area to check it out. Tickets are affordable and remain available.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Brasil 2008

The following are more photographs taken from my recent visit to Brasil. I had a wonderful two weeks. The trip was good for the soul if not my waist. This was the first prolonged vacation I had taken in nearly a year and now that I'm back home I am already looking forward to my trip to Puerto Rico in late January / early February.


Earlier this week I returned from my annual trip to Brasil and I am sorry to be talking about the vacation in the past tense. Following my week stay in Belo Horizonte, I went to the beachside town of Buzios for five nights. Here I spent most of my time relaxing and enjoying the beautiful surroundings. I stayed at Casas Brancas and would definitely recommend it to others considering a trip to Buzios. It is quite close to the Rua das Pedras and is very comfortable.

The following are a couple of photos of where I stayed, Casas Brancas, which was excellently situated near the Bridgette Bardot statue and steps from Rua das Pedras.

Buzios is a quaint but wealthy town filled with many small independently owned resorts that support the many shops, restaurants and galleries. As a result this is a place many well-to-do Brasilians, North Americans and Europeans find appealing to visit. I have added a few more photographs from my trip.