The Square Circuit

Academia, parenthood, living in a bankrupt city, and what I read in the process.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Although it was unceasingly cold--as one with not a huge store of experience of the East Coast, I always forget how cold it can remain in New England well into April--Providence, Rhode Island with two small children was a qualified success. The wife was attending a conference over the weekend, so our home base was the conference hotel: the Westin, one of the nicer ones in that relatively small city. The Westin is a corporate hotel, so you get all of that loveliness (ours was getting billed almost $70 for honor bar consumption, even though all we'd done is move the cans on top of the fridge), and we also experienced a piercing alarm at 7am on Sunday announcing an imminent evacuation. That evacuation never materialized, and the problem was a flooded third floor that didn't effect us. But apart from that the hotel was just fine, and in fact the staff were remarkably good--friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. Pittsburgh could learn from that.

The highlight of the trip for Boy #1 was certainly the Providence Children's Museum, difficult to find but not a bad walk from the Westin. It's small, about half the size of the Pittsburgh version of the same attraction, but it's just as good. We spent two full hours there and I had to drag him away. There was even some stuff for the baby. We lunched at the Trinity Brew House, which had good beer (as did the Union Station Grill on the other side of downtown) and the baby ate black beans for the first time. On the second day, another chilly one, I walked with the boys up to the Brown University/RISD area, which is really quite beautiful with all the historic houses, but I think I gave the baby a cold from being out too long. We had dinner on the last night at Sicilia, a deep-dish pizzeria in Federal Hill (the Italian neighborhood), which was quite good but didn't compare to that great chain place in Chicago--Giordano's, is it?

We were greeted Sunday morning by a panicked hotel: the 7am klaxon, of course, but also a massively hyped "nor'easter" storm that actually did manage to cancel quite a few flights out of NYC and Boston and Philly. Ours all managed to leave, and mostly on time. It was remarkable. But we've come to expect great things out of Southwest (and this is coming from someone--me--who absolutely loathes the airline industry). Case in point: on the way there, we had a flight going Pittsburgh-Philadelphia-Providence. Bad weather in Philly, so they were going to delay the flight several hours. However, after about twenty minutes they announced that they'd just be skipping Philly and going straight to Providence FOR THE THIRTEEN PASSENGERS WHO WERE GOING THERE. The Philly passengers were put on a flight going later, so they didn't get delayed any worse than they were going to be anyway. But I've never heard of such a thing from an airline!


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