Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm the Tax Man

So did you get your taxes in on time yesterday? I did, but with nary a minute to spare. My filing was much more complicated now that I list "timeshare ambassador" as my occupation. That one had me on the line with TurboTax customer support for quite a while. And boy-oh-boy did I log some business expenses trekking here and there in my duties. Al Gore's got nothing on my carbon footprint.

But it's all good now, and I've decided to hit Bean Town to commemorate tax day. In case you have forgotten, the original Tea Party happened right here in 1773, which put the concept of "no taxation without representation" to the test. As good British subjects, the colonist drank lots of tea and it was regularly delivered in bulk shipments by the East India Tea Company. But the Tea Act - passed by British Parliament in 1773 - basically cemented East India as a monopoly and added a tax on the tea not imposed by the locally elected colonial representatives. This - and the Massacre three years earlier - rubbed Bostonians the wrong way, you might say. Now Boston was not the first colony to take action on the tea tax. Other colonies simply returned the tea. But it was here that a band of colonists famously threw it overboard and refused to pay for it. And those my friends, are fightin' words. Of course the Brits didn't take it lying down, things escalated, and you know what happened next. And I suppose that is why Americans still drink way more coffee than tea. I for one am grateful for that. What would I be without my half-calf, triple shot, no foam, extra hot, mocha-machino?

Anyway, I didn't get a chance to file my report yesterday, because they were having a little foot race here when I arrived. Maybe you've heard of the Boston Marathon? It's the longest continually running marathon in the world, and is always held on the third Monday in April, a.k.a "Patriot's Day". Starting in 1897 with just 18 runners, it now boasts over 25,000 participants, and draws over 500,000 spectators. It's already "wicked ha'd to pa'k ya ca' in Baston," but on Patriot's Day, you can forget about it. I think it took me longer to get from the airport to my timeshare rental than it did for the winner to finish the race. A fellow named Geoffrey Mutai from Kenya ran the 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 2 seconds. Are you kidding me?! That's the fastest marathon time ever recorded, by the way. And the first woman to finish was not far behind. Caroline Kilel, also from Kenya, did it in just over 2 hours and 22 minutes. She nudged out Desiree Davila of the U.S.A. by 2 seconds. Can you imagine running over 26 miles and losing by 2 seconds? I think I'd rather come in last. Well, I know I'd come in last, but you know what I mean.

Fortunately, these professional and amateur athletes are better sports than I, and a great time was had by all. Well, except maybe that kid from nearby Babson College. The local business school is right along the marathon route, and he and some friends decided to take to the roof for a better view. According to the police, he slipped and "fell into a skylight and through the middle of the building, hitting stairway railings and other objects on his way down" the 4-story fall. One can only imagine what the "other objects were", but he somehow remained conscious throughout the ordeal. By no small miracle he did not suffer life-threatening injuries, and may even go home from the hospital as soon as today. Let's hope he spends next Patriot's Day at ground level in quiet contemplation. Or maybe just studying.

I am spending the rest of the week at Marriott's Custom House on the waterfront of Boston Harbor. This resort is in the building that was the first skyscraper in Boston, and is in walking distance to everything. In fact, if you use your own two feet and the Metro system, you really don't need your car at all. Combine that with the open-air, 360-degree observation deck, and I can see why RedWeek.com members rate it 4.5 stars. I know I'm loving it.

Well I am off to check out the site of the Great Molasses Flood of 1919. Do you know about this? Yeah, it seems a 2.2 million gallon, cast-iron tank burst on January 15, 1919, sending a wave of molasses down Commercial St. at a speed of 35 mph! And it took everything in its path with it, from homes and businesses, to a section of the elevated train line. Tragically, 21 people, a dozen horses, and at least one cat lost their lives as they succumbed to the viscous tidal wave. Prior to hearing this tale I had thought that drowning in sugar might be a nice way to go, but I've since reconsidered. I'm thinking the 4-story fall through a skylight, hitting stairway railings and other objects on the way down, is the way to go.

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