Friday, March 07, 2008

"Local Boys" Done Good

I am thankful to have the long continuity in my life that goes back to Humboldt with Ralph and many of you! With Ralph, our friendship goes back to the Hallock Hospital when Ron Baldwin, Ralph and I became the "Big Three" of Humboldt. Our Mothers gave birth to us within a two week period and the rest is history. One of our topics of conversation was how the three of us all became world travelers. I think I mentioned before that Ralph had an extended trip in Jordan as a part of the policy work I described.
From Mike Rustad:

Ralph Giffen and I got together on Monday night and we hope to get together again. I was proud to be able to show Ralph our law school building which has its own magesty. I thought I would recount our little trip and at the same time give some random thoughts on my dictim: "Life is a moving stream and not a stagnant pond."

Our library overlooks the historic cemetery where Mother Goose is buried. Yes, there was a real Mother Goose. We took a walk through another old cemetery close by with such old slate grave stones from the 1700s. Cambridge has just been voted America's most walkable city. Ralph is in perhaps the most prestigious and elite Management Executive's Institute in the world. Harvard, which is the Vatican City of all executive education, brings together some of the biggest names in management from Larry Summers (former President of Harvard) to Roger Porter and so many others that Ralph will need to tell you about! Ralph is on a roll having been also selected as a Brookings Fellow and serving with Senator Bingaham of New Mexico with great distinction. He is the associate director for Range Management for the United States.
So, ladies and gentlemen: Do you think anyone would have predicted that one of the local sons of Humboldt and St. Vincent would be in an executive management position deciding policy for the U.S. and arguably policies affecting the world?
The Brookings Institution and Harvard are the twin towers of policy and our friend Ralph Giffen was selected for both programs. The Harvard program, which Ralph is enjoying immensely, has top policymakers around the world in an informal setting and his schedule also afford him the opportunity to explore our greater Boston. He did a walking tour of Concord and Lexington. Ralph is very well versed in the Civil War and now can add to his background. Ralph lives in Manassas, Virginia with his wife Nancy and two sons Benjamin (7th Grader) and Alex (5th grader).

We had quite the adventure on Monday. I gave him a tour of our building including the magesterial Corcoran Room. Ralph commented that our classrooms were among the best he's seen and certainly competitive with those of the JFK School. I am very fortunate to teach in such facilities. Ralph's executive program is at the JFK School which is across the Charles, walking distance from Harvard Square. Harvard Square is perhaps a most vital and bustling little area filled with great restaurants, bookstores, etc. I am sure that Ralph will want to visit Longfellow's home only two or three blocks from Harvard Square. The tour of Longfellow's home is mesmerizing. The reason, we learn that Longfellow had a beard, was that he was severely burned trying to save his wife. His wife's night gown shot up in flames when she got to close to the stove. Longfellow and so many other writers gathered in the Parker House which is near our house. Ralph and I took a walk through the Parker House built around 1834. There's a lot of history in the Parker House. Ho Chi Minh, for example, was a bus boy. We proceeded next to Faneuil Hall which was in Colonial Times an old market and today is a bustling tourist area, in the best sense. It is not to be missed. We walked past my old pizza place and on to the Old North End which is our Little Italy. The North End is very much like being transported to Europe without the jet lag. The North End is incredibile in its ambiance. It is literally like going to an Italian neighborhood and I lived in Italy: Capri, Naples, and Venice during the 1970s. I took Ralph to the shrine of all cannolis. Ralph did not particularly like cannolis until he tried Maria's. Maria does not go for prefabricated cannolis and their soggy composition. Maria's cannolis are crispy and filled with riccoto cheese with a spring of confectionary sugar: smuggled heaven! We capped off the day with a long walk along the waterfront and the most modern multi-million dollar condos of Boston and walked past South Station and finally on to Chinatown. We opted for a Vietnamese noodle soup which fit the bill. We also ordered crispy duck and each serving was enough for 2-3 persons. It was wonderful to have such a day and to have the continuity.

And, I am thankful to have the long continuity in my life that goes back to Humboldt with Ralph and many of you! With Ralph, our friendship goes back to the Hallock Hospital when Ron Baldwin, Ralph and I became the "Big Three" of Humboldt. Our Mothers gave birth to us within a two week period and the rest is history. One of our topics of conversation was how the three of us all became world travelers. I think I mentioned before that Ralph had an extended trip in Jordan as apart of the policy work I described.