Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Providence to Boston and back to Providence
After several days of exploration in Providence and the surrounding area I hopped a commuter rail up to Boston ($7.75) and started exploring a city I'd heard so many great things about. I checked out China Town and ate some tasty treats there but discovered that I like Americanized Chinese more than authentic Chinese. Call me a sinner, but I feel that food should be enjoyed and if you don't enjoy something there's no sense in pretending you do just because it's more authentic than the alternative. You're only cheating yourself. Not that the food was bad, it's just that I'd rather eat General Chicken than Chicken Feet if given a choice.
There's some nice architecture up in Boston and some really beautiful old churches, but the big difference between Boston and Providence is the people. In Providence everyone is open and friendly and willing to strike up a conversation with you, even more so than Montgomery. In Boston, no one talks. People look straight ahead and march. They nod if you greet them, but there's no verbal response. The entire place seemed so much colder as far as people went. They weren't rude, they just didn't care to talk. I found this to be the case all over the Boston area including Wellseley and Cambridge.
I got to see the Harvard campus which is kind of a strange place. It looks like a nice university but the section of town it's in appears rather run down. It's like Harvard thrived and the city around it died. It just seemed out of place.
The roads in Boston are horrible. There's cracks and potholes everywhere. It's the only place I've seen with worse roads than Louisiana. They're terrible and the only thing worse is the drivers. NO ONE IN BOSTON CAN DRIVE! They drift from lane to lane, oblivious of other vehicles on the road. They stay in the left lane when they need to turn right and then they just turn, nearly causing wrecks. They almost run down cyclists every few minutes. They lounge around intersections when the light is green and then gun it through red lights. It's like all the rules of the road are just polite suggestions that Bostonians never heard. It's worse than Houston traffic. It's worse than Austin traffic. It's worse than anything. At least in Houston those 50 billion people have a general idea of how to drive. In Boston, no. It's like half the drivers are children who can't see over the wheel and the other half are blind... and drunk.
I also checked out the MIT Museum. If you get a chance to go there, go. And it's free on Sundays. The place is action-packed with cool stuff like little electronic devices that were wired by viruses using nanotechnology and odd little machines that do strange things. The coolest things were the robots and the AI. The people at MIT are really smart or really stupid because they're going to build the robots that become self-aware and take over the world and I don't think it's going to take them long... if the zombies don't get us first.
There was also this cool chick named Allie who was working with a team of people to develop the next generation of space suit. It looks wicked-awesome. I asked her tons of questions about it because I find that sort of thing cool. The idea behind a lot of it seems like science fiction, but I know that it'll probably be in use before I'm 50. That's just the way that science fiction works, like all the crazy stuff mentioned in that book 'Ender's Game' back in the early 70's. He talked about touch screens, computer tablets, chat rooms, virtual reality simulations, flight simulators and laser tag. And now it's all old news.
I left Boston on Monday afternoon and returned to Providence. I really like this city and I'm going to spend a lot of time here on future trips. It's a really great place. I'm currently staying with two guys named Derek and Nathan who showed me the Lincoln Woods State Park. It's a beautiful patch of the world just north of Providence. There's rocky woods, sassafras trees and maple. Their leaves already turning red and gold. A large pond on the southern end of the park has several small, rocky-shored islands. It's quite scenic. But everywhere I looked, every time I tried to take a photo of the natural splendor, the view was broken by a road or a sign or a building or a line of boulders carefully arranged by the park service. Why do we feel we need to conquer nature? Why do we set aside a patch of land to be preserved and then tear down the trees to build a field so people can play frisbee with their dogs? Why to we have to damage what we claim to enjoy?
I tried to just enjoy the park, but I wanted so badly to pull up all the signs and tear down the buildings and let nature fix what man had ruined. My relaxing walk in the park ended up leaving me in a bitter mood. I was angry.
Maybe a race of robots from MIT bent on human annihilation is just what the earth needs. Perhaps they would be more responsible with regards to their home than we have been. They certainly couldn't be any worse. Is it wrong for me to think like that? If so, I don't really care. And if you saw that park and it's marred beauty, like an abuse child, you'd feel the same way.