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First Snow 2011

The  Nor’easter made quite a mess over the weekend. Many are still feeling its effects today. Fortunately for Boston, the storm only dropped a few inches of the heavy white stuff. Even so, limbs and branches were down everywhere. We went for a hike around the Arnorld Arboretum to see how the trees there fared.

The Arnold Arboretum is 250 acres of managed greenery in the city of Boston. The responsibility of maintaining the grounds is shared by Harvard University and the City of Boston. We got there around 10:30 am and most of the snow was already off the leaves. For the most part, the trees in the Arboretum look like they escaped the damage seen in the western part of the state.

It has been a few months since we last visited the Arboretum. In checking out the Welcome sign, we noticed a new feature called “Mobile Tour.” Prior to going, visitors can print out a self-guided tour map and download free podcasts. These self-guided tours are designed so visitors can explore the Arboretum at their own pace and gain a richer understanding of the various collections.

At the various stops on the Mobile Tour, there are QR (Quick Response) tags which will enable smartphone-equiped visitors to get more information about what they are seeing at that spot. The QR tages are a great idea. It is an interactive way to engage the visitor. Are tiny Bonsai trees the same as the big trees? Want to know more about the Bonsai Garden? Just scan the QR tag and get more info.

The concept is great. A problem we encountered at one of the stops was that the tag took us to a large dense web page which was impossible to read on our phone. We don’t know if this is true of all the stops. Instead of screens of long descriptive text, short easy-to-read factoids would have been more helpful. Still, the Arboretum folks are moving in the right direction. We hope they will continue to improve the presentation and make the information more suitable for reading on smaller devices.

The brisk walk amongst the trees was exactly what we needed as the next ten hours was spent watching NFL football…including the frustrating yet still oddly exciting Patriots/Steelers game. Frustrating in that the Steelers totally dominated the Patriots in their first outing after the bye week. Oddly exciting that the Patriots still had a miniscule, but possible, chance of pulling it off even with eight seconds left to go. Ahh…perhaps that is why we can’t stop watching week after week:-)

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