Tagged: boston

Are farmers afraid of the dark, or is it just Boston?

This evening, I was making my semi-usual Monday after work loop heading to the Boston City Hall Farmers Market to pick up raw material for dinner. As I approached the market I thought, “wow, it’s nice that they have those lights so people can still shop after dark now that they set the clocks back.” As I got closer, I saw that some of the stalls were already empty and the rest were packing up fast, a whole hour before what I thought was closing time.

I was able to buy a stalk of brussels (with a final s) sprouts from a farmer who explained that they changed the hours because “who wants to be here in the dark.” Reds Best was long gone, quashing the evening’s protein plan.  I’m not sure if the farmers were leaving because they didn’t want to stay after dark (I guess the business from after-work shoppers like myself isn’t that rich) or because some official had decreed that you can’t buy fresh produce outdoors after sundown. It was clear that the vendors I saw had plenty of inventory left. It was one of those “not world class city” moments that I keep wishing Boston would outgrow.

Clutching my stalk of brussels sprouts and grumbling to myself on the T, I realized two things: first, you get more room on the T if you’re brandishing a stalk of brussels sprouts, and second, the real problem here is that sham called Daylight Saving (no final s) Time.

Storrowing credit for a neo-neo-neologism

This morning the estimable editors at UniversalHub described a truck as “freshly storrowed,” meaning that it had been driven under a famously (but not famously enough I guess) too-low overpass on Storrow Drive and either gotten stuck or had the top ripped off or both.  Bostonians know this phenomenon all too well, mostly around the traditional moving seasons at the start and end of the academic year.

The earliest (easily found) search result for this use of storrowing is a Tour De France blog post by Dave Chiu from this past summer with a photo of a bus that had tried to squeeze under some signage that was not high enough.  Over at Urban Dictionary, there’s another sense of storrowing that is probably as old as the hills in practice if not in name, and also a portmanteau of steal and borrow.

to borrow something intending to not return it or to borrow something and decide to keep it.

More searching uncovers what might be an even earlier meaning for storrowing that also comes with a handy opposite in astorrowing which apparently is to be avoided if possible.

STORROWING PEATS: Three weeks after cutting the peats are ready to be storrowed – that is placed on end in little wigwam like piles so that the air can circulate freely round them. In a wet year those piles sometimes have to be taken down and built up again, outside in. This is known as “astorrowing” and no one does it if they can help it. After another three weeks the peats should be ready to come home.

What would James J. Storrow think? Maybe his ancestors were in the peat business back in the old country. One hopes his descendants are careful when driving trucks on the family road, though the headline writers would certainly love it if they weren’t.

— Update 10/15 —
Some time after I wrote this, somebody added Storrowed to Urban Dictionary using the same UniversalHub story as the basis. Also, a video.

One fish, two fish, Red’s Best, Cod Squad

Occasionally, you can smell the ocean from outside my office near the North End. Maybe it’s just a nearby fountain or open hydrant or the aquarium, but it serves to remind me that Boston has a seafaring heritage. That said, if you’re not careful buying your seafood here, you can get scrod.

We all know that Anthony Bourdain warns against ordering fish on a Monday, but as it turns out, Monday is my go-to double header fish day with two quality establishments: lunch at Captain Marden’s Cod Squad Food Truck followed by a trip to Red’s Best Seafood at the Boston City Hall Farmers Market to pick up something to cook for dinner.

Haddock sandwich from Captain Mardens Cod Squad truck

I’ve praised Captain Marden before, so I’ll be brief today. I was on the fence between fish n chips and the tuna melt. I asked for the chef’s choice and ended up with the haddock sandwich. $11 got me the sandwich, a ton of fries, cole slaw, onion, lettuce and tomato, and a nice touch, a lemon wedge. I was offered cheese, too, but declined. The haddock was delicate and flaky, and was neither overwhelmed nor cheated by the crust. Delightful if a bit much for a lunch, maybe they can offer a “just the sandwich” version sans fries in the future. Cod Squad also offers a range of salads topped with seafood.

Red's Best Local Fish at the City Hall Farmers Market

At Red’s Best, you can get a variety of fresh – not frozen – seafood, all caught by local fisherman and monitored all the way along the chain to make sure that you’re getting the kind of fish you think you’re getting. There’s a good variety of fin fish and shellfish, but if you don’t get here on the early side, things have a way of selling out. I scooped up some scallops ($22/lb) that were super sweet and went very well with the kale from a nearby farm stand. If you’re concerned about the source and sustainability of your seafood, I recommend a Red’s highly. The hardest thing for me is remembering to bring the fish home after stowing it in the fridge at the office for the afternoon.

Now you T it, now you don’t

Do you know what you were doing five years ago today? Well, according this this blog, I was in Santa Monica, but according to the MBTA, I was unboxing a brand new Charlie Card. I know this because today, five years later, that Charlie card, suddenly and without warning, expired.


By “expired” do I mean kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible? Apparently not, because the helpful MBTA resurrectionist customer service person in the station keyed in a secret code on the Charlie card vending machine, tapped my card and read off the balance and passes on it.

So what gives? Well, it seems that what gives is that older Charlie cards like mine have a replicant-like five year lifespan. A new one you get today will last ten years and unlike mine, have the expiration date printed on it.  Why does it expire when the electronics inside are still working? Why do I get no warning in advance of this expiration? That’s not for me to ponder, it’s for me to drag my sorry early-Charlie-card-adopting ass to the one and only “Charlie Card Store” at Downtown Crossing three days before the end of the month and get my paid-for passes transferred to a fresh card. I’m sure it won’t be busy at all, since it operates during the commuter-friendly hours of 8:00am till 5:30pm, Monday through Friday.

In New York City, you can exchange an expired MetroCard for a fresh one (as long as it’s less than a year since expiry) at any token booth with a customer service agent, and I’ve seen those in nearly every station and at all hours of the day and night.

On the way home this evening (after 5:30), the MBTA employee let me through after verifying that my card had a pass on it. In the morning I’ll probably have to pay to get to Downtown Crossing to get this fixed.  What are the odds that I’ll get my fare for that trip reimbursed?

Bus stop, T woes, stop goes, speed grows

Via the estimable newsmachers at UniversalHub, a report that the MBTA is eliminating some stops on 15 of the busiest bus lines in the city this summer. The idea is that snipping out some redundant stops and refurbishing others will reduce end-to-end trip time and cut back on bunching. One of the stops to be eliminated is right in front of limeduck world headquarters, but the T maps show it to be as little as 260 feet from the nearest stop, so I can hardly complain.

Kudos to the T for what seems to be a data-driven harvesting of low-hanging fruit. People close to the soon to be former stops will be inconvenienced, but probably only at one endpoint of their bus journey, and substantially all riders of these lines will reap benefits.

What the always entertaining comments at UHub don’t bring up (yet) is what will happen to the former bus stops? Will more (metered?) parking be created? Bike parking? Ghost stops where parking is prohibited but buses never stop? Pocket parks? Time will tell. Until then, watch this: