July 5th, 2006

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Fireworking

msmemory and I decided to do the fireworks downtown this year -- we were in the mood for a bit of spectacle, and were not disappointed.

Every year, they come up with something New and Different for the show. Last year it was the Bizarro World fireworks, that burst into beautifully perfect green cubes in the air. To that, this year they added what I'm thinking of as the Inflationary Theory fireworks. These burst in a fine bang, and then suddenly (and rather uncannily) accelerated outward in all directions. You don't consciously think about how much you expect fireworks to be neatly Newtonian until you come across one that isn't.

We decided to make a constitutional of it, and spent the core of the evening walking. We parked in Central Square, walked down Mass Ave to Mem; across Mem to the Salt and Pepper bridge, across that into Boston, back along Storrow Drive to Mass Ave, and back across the bridge, stopping almost back where we started to watch the fireworks. The middle of Harvard Bridge continues to be my traditional favorite spot to watch them.

The walk was quite nice, for the most part. They're getting better at the speaker setups: ironically, the only stretch of it where you really couldn't hear any music at all was the quarter directly behind the concert itself. The peoplewatching was marvelous as always, and the foot traffic mostly okay. However, there was a real "what were they thinking" section along Storrow directly across from the Esplanade, where they funneled all of the pedestrian traffic into a single 10-foot-wide sidewalk; if there had been a sudden panic for some reason there, someone would have been killed in that crush. And the Boston end of Harvard Bridge has gotten loony -- there are so many people standing in a crush, jockeying for position to see the fireworks, that getting through was damned near impossible. But we joined into the thin line of ants pushing their way single-file through the earth of the crowd, and eventually got free of the worst of the crowd at around 75 Smoots.

We heard the concert only intermittently, but it was pleasant (if predictable by now). I'm not quite sure who came up with the idea of having Dr. Phil host it, but fortunately he didn't get to talk much. Mock-conducting the traditional Souza march (whose arrangement hasn't changed a note in decades) is a fine annual enjoyment.

And at the end, the traditional lemming rush to the roads. We always wait until the end, letting most people get out before us, and I still marvel at the insane traffic jam trying to escape Cambridge. A nuisance, but a price I've become accustomed to for a fun change of pace evening...
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Media immersion can really hurt one's sense of probability...

So I just read about the death of Ken Lay (heart attack, this morning), and my immediate gut reaction was, "Too convenient -- clearly faked his own death." It rather bothers me that, on an intuitive level, that seems more plausible to me than him simply succumbing to the stress. My carefully-honed sense of cliche has gotten a bit out of hand...
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    Blackmore's Night - Way To Mandalay