Posts Tagged ‘south station’

bitcoin-machine-at-South-StationA friend is doing research on bitcoin and other virtual currencies.

Although it sounds like phoney money to me, I still honor the lesson I got in fourth grade about how a dollar represents trust. You trust when you receive it that it will be accepted by someone else in exchange for something you want. You trust the entity that backs it. Today people are using virtual currencies like real money, so trust is working so far.

But does it all remind you of the company that used to accept your money and promise to do your worrying for you? Or how about virtual gift giving, which enjoyed a flurry of attention in the media a while back. (The gift company will e-mail your friend that you “bought” a virtual gift. The concept is based on the premise that it’s the thought that counts. VirtualGifts4U.com, for one, just asks you to support its sponsors.)

I took this picture at Boston’s South Station, where, during specified hours, a friendly young man will explain how you can buy bitcoins at this machine. I haven’t chatted with him, so I don’t know if he also explains that the value of your bitcoins can not only go up in an hour or two but go way down.

There is no significance to the fact that the machine is located right next to an endlessly running “If you see something, say something” security video.

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I love Amtrak, and I love writing, but I don’t think I am ever going to do an Amtrak Artist Residency, so I am passing along the info so you can apply. It sounds like fun. Just glimpsing the exposed backs of houses along the tracks with their hints of the private lives lived in them is inspiration for a ream of stories.

William Grimes writes for the NY Times blog ArtBeat, “The wheels have begun moving on Amtrak‚Äôs plan to offer writers a rolling residency aboard their trains. … Up to 24 writers, chosen from a pool of applicants, will be given a round-trip ticket on a long-distance train, including a private sleeper-car room with a bed, a desk, and electrical outlets. …

“The idea was born in December when the novelist Alexander Chee, in an interview with the magazine PEN America, casually mentioned his love for writing on trains, and added, jokingly, ‘I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers.’

“When Jessica Gross, a writer in New York, echoed the sentiment on Twitter, Amtrak arranged for her to do a trial residency on the Lake Shore Limited from New York to Chicago. She agreed.

“Her account of the trip, ‘Writing the Lake Shore Limited,’ published by The Paris Review in February, grabbed the attention of The Wire, The New Yorker and The Huffington Post. Soon after, Amtrak decided to turn the trial run into a full-fledged program.” More on when and how to apply.

Even before that series of events, there was the Whistlestop Arts Train, you know. I blogged about the rolling public art project by Doug Aitken last July, here.

Trains for dreaming. Holiday model train layout at Amtrak’s South Station, Boston.


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A building gets wrapped with a bow, friends volunteer to hammer in some color along Greenway walks, South Station digs out its toy trains (display by these folks).

We don’t have snow, but we’re pretty festive anyway.

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For several years now, there has been a concert series right in the middle of all the comings and goings at Boston’s busiest Amtrak Station. Sometimes chamber music is played, sometimes it’s movie music, sometimes it’s cabaret. The concerts go from 11:30 to 12:30, and people just wander in and wander out. It’s great to see the look of surprise on travelers’ faces and the cellphone cameras being whipped out. Chairs are set up for those who want to sit to listen, or to eat their lunch. This year’s schedule is here.

Today we heard jazz harpist Deborah Henson-Conant, who has a website with a great URL, www.hipharp.com. She plays a small, 11-pound, blue electric harp from France and dances and sings while playing blues and jazz and songs she wrote. She has been called the Jimi Hendrix of harp and had us all singing along.

See the demo. It starts out with an original song that she also performed in South Station today.

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