Monday, July 30, 2012
The Empty House
1:42 pm edt
The Olympics were made for
televised coverage. NBC has gone to great extremes to bring every moment of programming to viewers. You could never possibly
watch all of it.
venues at the Games have been noted for huge blocks of empty seats. Apparently, many of the corporate sponsors are not using
their complimentary tickets. As a result, athletes are performing in front of empty seats in the biggest moment of their athletic
have tried to be creative by having volunteers and security officials sit in the seats. No matter how they try and fix it,
they cannot deny the fact that many of the venues are only partially filled.
The Olympics cost too much to stage and lose money right from the start.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Put Down the Bottle
8:14 pm edt
I have always been a big fan
of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but I wish he would stop turning New York City into the ultimate Nanny state. His stance on breast-feeding
by new mothers is more of a social agenda. It has nothing to do with running America's biggest city
He has worked with city hospitals to get them away
from a bottle formula philosophy. They have stopped giving sway bags to new mothers from companies that make the product.
I never had children
of my own. I really can't give an argument about the benefits of one over the other. I just don't understand why the mayor
gets involved in these items.
the other hand, all of the alarms he set off about cancer since gaining office has produced positive results. The cancer rate
in New York City has gone down in recent years. Lives have been saved. It was one of his agenda items.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Look At the Logo
9:38 pm edt
Life is full of anonymous
faces that we see everywhere. We might know some people, but we have random encounters with strangers all day. Sometimes,
there is a commonality that people can share. You never know what it might be.
Earlier this evening, I encountered a young couple as I exited a convenience store. The guy
recognized my UMass t-shirt and said "Go UMass". I stopped and asked if he was a graduate. He said he was entering
his senior year.
I encounter people who when they say UMass, they mean one of the affiliated UMass campuses in the state college system. I
was always against having a multiple UMass system. It was done for political reasons and "cost savings".
He agreed that there can be confusion about the school.
It was interesting to talk to him. In retrospect, I should have known he went to the Amherst campus because he recognized
the school's logo. All of the schools do their own thing.
Friday, July 27, 2012
9:40 am edt
You can always count on the
"letters to the editor" for some brilliant comments by the informed. There has been a recent controversy over public
utilities cutting trees and brush around high-voltage power lines. The utility's right-of-way gives it the legal authority
to remove vegetation that it feels might cause a power outage.
The current policy is to clear-cut any tress and bushes under the wires. Some of the abutters
feel they have gone too far. They think trimming the trees would be more appropriate. It's difficult to satisfy everyone.
People want their trees and uninterrupted power.
One genius proposed burying all power lines. He said the cost would be covered by the savings in tree
trimming. I think this guy needs to go back and look at his numbers. The cost to do this would be prohibitive and would be
passed onto consumers in the form of higher bills.
People love to throw ideas out there without thinking them through. That guy probably has a
great idea about reducing the federal deficit.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
9:13 pm edt
It looks like the Olympics
are here. We will be inundated with a media blitz like we have never seen before. As technology evolves, so will the viewing
habits of the Games by the public. NBC and its affiliated networks have a ridiculous amount of coverage. You could never watch
I have mixed
emotions about the Games. I can't get excited about so many of the sports. Historically, there have been many political issues
involved with the Games. Hopefully, this will be a safe time in this crazy era.
I might be more concerned with the start of NFL training camp and the New England Patriots.
The Boston Red Sox are on the verge of having the season implode.
We all have different tastes, but the Games have been around in modern times since 1896.
They are so much bigger than all of us. They were here way before I was and they will outlast me without question.
We get to watch the history of these Games be written.
I'm sure there will be some legendary stories in the end.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Learning To Weed
2:04 pm edt
I think weed-whackers have
their role in landscaping. They do a great job trimming along fences and stone walls. However, some weeds must be pulled up
by hand. I think it's only a temporary solution to cut the weeds in the cracks of sidewalks because they eventually grow back.
Today, I saw a kid trying to get rid of weeds along
a wooden fence. He was pulling them up by hand, but if they broke, he left the roots in the ground. Doesn't he know that they
will grow back?
could never say anything to him without looking a jerk. However, I know how to get rid of weeds and he was doing a lousy job
at it. The stuff will grow back in a few weeks.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The Useless Forum
9:15 am edt
The local newspaper has an
on-line forum where readers can post anonymous comments about stories. I wonder if anyone from the paper monitors it.
Last night five people were shot locally, resulting
in two deaths. Information is limited, but that has not stopped people from posting some pretty vicious comments.
When people are anonymous, the truth can get distorted.
I often question the value of these forums. I don't think they serve any purpose. People might be venting, but some are doing
it in a hateful manner.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Need More Bricks
8:07 pm edt
I enjoy watching the construction
of sidewalks on a major road where I live. They are also upgrading water and sewer mains. The road has been a mess. It gets
torn up and then patched over, but the sidewalks are coming along very well.
I love looking at recently installed granite curbing and freshly poured cement. The next
day they remove the forms and use them again.
The project will drag into next year. State projects are like that. There is no contractual incentive
to get it done early. This project is about five years behind schedule. There is no rush.
This is a great example of how money should be spent to rebuild the infrastructure of America
cities and towns. I fully support it.
I wonder what they will do will a 50 foot section of brick sidewalk in front of a building from the
mid-1800's. It would be a travesty to rip it up, but state contracts often remove everything is the way. Bricks can get a
little tricky, especially if the sidewalk starts to bulge. It happens in Boston all the time.
There are brick sidewalks in my neighborhood that
need repair. It won't happen anytime soon. There are other portions that have been paved over with asphalt. It's too bad we
can't preserve this work. The men who built the sidewalks did an awesome job for them to last this long.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
2:43 pm edt
Every day, I hear a commercial on the
radio about the special license plates issued by the RMV for fans of the Cape & Islands. They mention that "you can
show your friends what you think about this special place".
I have always been a fan of the Cape & Islands,
although I never went there until I was 23. I ran the Falmouth Road Race for 10 years. I visited Martha's Vineyard and once
spent ten days on Nantucket. However, my last trip was 25 years ago this September.
I guess they can't consider
me a frequent visitor. Every summer I have goal of getting there, but it never happens.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
9:27 pm edt
They say there is a place for everything.
That includes insects. They fit into the ecosystem and serve a big role. They just don't have any purpose in my apartment.
A couple of times a year, I get an insect either in my kitchen or bathroom. I had one last month in my bath tub. Today,
there was a huge one on my bathroom floor. I immediately stepped on it.
I reviewed some websites for identification
purposes. It might have been a centipede. It was huge and gross looking.
Where did it come from? Did it travel
through a drain? Did it crawl under my door? Will I get more?
If I see another one, I'll use the classic movie
line of "Terminate with extreme prejudice".
Friday, July 20, 2012
The Pricey Lobster
11:04 am edt
We are seeing drastic drop in the price
of fresh lobster. Those who make their living with their lobster traps are barely covering their expenses, while the consumer
is basking in low prices.
I always thought lobster was over-priced and over-rated. I have only cracked three lobsters
in my lifetime. I did my first one at a golf tournament when I was 25. I thought it took too much effort to eat a meal that
way. It was also messy and produced a lot of waste just to get the meat.
I acquired a taste for lobster rolls,
but you can never get them cheaply. I'll take one of them any day, but I think they are such a rip-off no matter the
price of wholesale lobster.
I have no idea when I might have my next lobster. My recent lobster roll was about
four years after my previous one. Don't hold your breath on this one.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
A Trip To the RMV
2:50 pm edt
You always hear about the nightmares
of trips to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Nobody ever says anything positive. When I went today, the two employees were
swamped with business. Everyone had to take a number and wait. I knew it would take time, so I brought a newspaper to read.
After about 30 minutes, my number was called. The clerk was very courteous and I was done in no time. I engaged in
a short conversation with her. I remarked how busy the place was and the lack of help. She agreed with everything.
Her co-worker excused herself to go to the bathroom. It's easy to see that they don't just get up and go. It was getting
closer to lunch when I left. I was concerned that I would be left top the mercy of one employee with about 10 people waiting.
Overall, it went well. I hope it's like that the next time I go.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
3:52 pm edt
Hot days like this bring out the discussion
about climate change. It also happens during the winter, especially last year when we didn't get any snow.
there is a climate change going on, but it's happening more in the sense of geological time. The Ice Age lasted for thousands
of years. Our time here is just a blip on the geological time line.
I think that in the last 300 years, mankind
has accelerated the climate change by wrecking the environment with pollutants. Scientists have drilled into the cores
of glaciers and have seen evidence of temperature changes.
How much are we contributing to it? Was it natural that
a 46 square mile ice sheet broke away from Greenland the other day? Did we do anything with the atmosphere to accelerate the
process? I never doubt that we have.
I think temperatures will continue to rise in all seasons.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
No More Stuffy Room
4:44 pm edt
We are in the middle of a
summer heat wave. You can't help but notice with all of the drama put forth by the media. A local radio station even had a
daily poll asking listeners if they preferred this type of weather over January. Where do they come up with this stuff?
Last year, I got rid of my air conditioner after
getting another sore throat. It was nice to have a cool room to sleep in, but I was always waking up with a stuffy head. Now,
I'm waking up because I'm so hot and sweaty.
That should only last another day or so, but I'm sure we will get another heat wave. It's not even
August. The only time I miss the air conditioning is when I'm in my living room. It could be cooler, but the fans help out.
It's better than breathing stale air and getting a sore throat.
Monday, July 16, 2012
The Bad Swim
7:35 pm edt
Last night, a man died while trying
to swim across the Merrimack River in Haverhill. He was described as "homeless" and "under the influence".
It was a foolish decision on his part to jump into the river after 10pm and try to swim about 400 yards against a strong current.
He paid the ultimate price.
I wonder how he got to this point. He was described as in his 50's. What was his background?
Did he have a family? How did he get to the point where he used such bad judgement in his last moment.
the front page, but his story will fade away because he was homeless and only a few people cared.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Losing At The Sands
2:50 pm edt
I think every effort should be made
to prevent beach erosion. In some instances, people can no longer fight nature. We are seeing that with the battle against
the ocean by some houses on Plum Island.
Beach erosion has been a problem there for decades and has claimed
a few houses. There are others facing imminent disaster unless something is done. This usually involved depositing sand
to build up the beach and dunes.
At what point do officals say enough is enough? I support fixing the jetty which
is considered as one of the problems. Naturally, the plan is years behind schedule and estimated now to cost $10 million.
Last spring, I took a ride to check out the situation. I saw a rather striking scene. As a few houses teetered on
the edge of being lost to the ocean, another structure was being built as if nothing was going on. This one had steel beams
being pounded into the ground for additional support. I doubt if they are being driven to the bedrock. In the end, the building's
foundation will fail at some point.
I just don't understand how officials can allow houses to be built on such
unstable land. It doesn't make any sense.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
10:53 am edt
Leave it to politicians to jump on the
band wagon when there is a high-profile issue that they can gain political capital from. We are seeing that with the outrage
over the clothes to be worn by the US Olympic team.
The design is controversial enough with their Ralph Lauren
duds looking like they should be at a regatta in Newport, RI. Now, everyone is outraged that the clothing was made by an American
company in China. One politician called on for the clothing to be burned. It's a little late in the game for that now with
the Olympics two weeks away.
Where do they expect this stuff to be made? It's well known that the American
textile industry has been decimated by cheap imports and outsourcing of manufacturing to foreign countries. Nobody should
be surprised at that. Even my LL Bean winter boots are made in China.
There is a call for the 2014 Winter Olympics
uniforms to be made in America. That means they will cost three to four times more. Everyone complains about stuff being made
in China. Some of the quality is questionable, but nobody ever complains about the cheap prices. That's how the China Outlet
(Walmart) stays in business.
Where was all of the outrage about jobs being moved overseas prior to this? Segments
of the American economy continue to be crippled by our trade policy. We don't make anything these days other than military
items. It won't change down the road.
Friday, July 13, 2012
The Ride To The Black Hole
10:01 am edt
I think the economic stimulus program
has produced mixed results. It didn't create too many jobs. Instead, it kept public employees on the payroll and avoided layoffs.
I view this as a bailout rather than a stimulus. It's good that people didn't lose their job.
It also provided
huge amounts of money for projects of dubious value. Providing high-speed rail transportation between Los Angeles and San
Francisco is a big waste of money. Everyone drives in California. Planners think they can change that culture by providing
an alternative, but they are sadly mistaken.
The government dangled $3.5 billion in stimulus money to start the
project. The state approved $9.95 billion in bonds as their share. Now, they want to start on a 130 mile segment between Madera
and Bakersfield. It doesn't matter that this is in the middle of nowhere. Who will ride the train?
If the segment
ever gets built, it won't be ready until 2020. The complete cost cannot even be estimated. They have thrown out figures of
between $40-$120 billion, with a completion date of 2035.
This is a great example of government out of control.
They should pull the plug on this project before they pour too many billions down a black hole. This will become the ultimate
white elephant, although it will take so long that we may never see the completion of it in our lifetime.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
4:59 pm edt
I got a blister on my right foot over
the last two days. It's about the size of a quarter. I wonder if my running socks are causing it. I like my NIKE ankle socks,
but I've had blisters in the past. It happens even when the socks are new.
I'm careful about he socks I run in.
I make sure they don't show any wear. I never walk barefoot, especially at home. There might be an issue with sweat. My socks
are always damp after I run. My feet get warm. It always feels good to take my shoes and socks off.
I have a problem with the socks. It's so difficult to find socks with the right composition of fibers and provide a good fit.
It might be time to look at other socks.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Don't Quote The Price
3:35 pm edt
You can always count on government to
be incorrect when it comes to giving estimations to build or procure anything. We see that with countless examples around
us. The Big Dig in Boston is the classic case.
It originally had a price tag of $2.5 billion back when it was proposed
in the 1980's. It eventually went up to $8 billion and finally about $15 billion. When you reach that level, the price is
The constructions was funded through long term bonds with a maturity date of 2038. As a result, the
final price tag including interest is now $24.3 billion. By then, the concrete in the tunnels will have eroded significantly
to need reconstruction in some areas. Additional debt will be added.
This will be one of those projects that
will never have a final cost. Just keep the money coming.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
12:03 am edt
I was finally able to upload a video
to Youtube. I made many mistakes along the way due to my inability to fully understand the process. I thought I could just
upload it from my Droid phone, but it was much more than that. I didn't get the part about needing a Wifi connection.
A couple of previous attempts had ended in failure due to a poor Wifi connection. Today, I was having my car serviced. That's
when I got the idea to try it again because the dealership had Wifi for its customers waiting for their cars.
took about 20 minutes to upload a three minute video. I was concerned that my car would be ready before the video finished.
If I had left, I would have lost the connection and had to start over.
I plan to upload another video soon. This
time, I'll go to the local library and try it from there. At least, I won't feel rushed and not be concerned about losing
Monday, July 9, 2012
Saying No To Mow
3:36 pm edt
Many states have stopped cutting the
grass on the medians and shoulders of interstate highways. This can result in the roads having a ragged and unkempt look to
them. In some areas, the states have planted wildflowers which seem to fit in nicely with their bright colors.
have no problems with grass not being mowed as long as it doesn't interfere with the sight lines of drivers. In many instances,
grass has been mowed in those cases. The same is true for the shoulders of the road.
If states want to cutback,
that's fine as long as drivers can see clearly and don't encounter any interference. Maybe the tall grass can hide some of
Sunday, July 8, 2012
Enjoy the Wait
5:21 pm edt
It's been a great time for people to
travel and enjoy the warm days of summer. Traffic can always be an issue, but it can get extreme, especially if you get caught
in it. There are always construction projects to slow things down.
If you really want to make it difficult for
drivers, just slow down traffic by having not enough tool booths. A traffic report indicated that there is a five mile back-up
at the toll booths on the Maine Turnpike south. What a way to end a weekend for the people stuck in that traffic.
I never have a problem paying a toll for a bridge or tunnel, but it goes against the spirit of the Interstate Highway
System mission statement to charge for a surface road. Congress approved it years ago.
They are just slowing
traffic to a crawl because they are trying to collect a user's tax in the form of a toll.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
No Transfers Allowed
11:36 am edt
Political correctness can get carried
to the extreme. It seems that we have changes in the terminology of things that have been around us forever. Today, I heard
the use of "transfer station".
Everyone knows this is just another term for the town dump. Some communities don't offer trash removal
as a municipal service. Residents must take their trash to a spot that was always called the town dump.
sure why it needed to be changed to the transfer station. Did people feel it was beneath their dignity to be at the dump?The
transfer station makes it sound like a better place, but it's a dump no matter how you say it.
The land underneath
any dump or transfer station has been contaminated by poisons and carcinogens for the next hundreds of years. Some of the
plastic and man-made objects will never break-down.
Maybe in a thousand years, people will call the place an archaeological
dig and a great opportunity to study life in the 21st century.
Friday, July 6, 2012
Need A Velodrome?
5:28 pm edt
The Olympics Games in London open in
three weeks. An estimated $15-20 billion has been spent getting ready. Most is infrastructure, but there are some very expensive
venues. The stadium cost $764 million. The other white elephants include a $324 million aquatics center and a $150 million
Does the host country ever recoup the money spent getting ready to host? The 2008 Games in Beijing cost
$40 billion. China spared no expense, including a $300 million open day ceremony.
New York City and Paris were
among the finalists to host the 2012 Games. They are the winners. They saved a lot of money.The site on the West Side of Manhattan
would have eliminated several neighborhoods by eminent domain.
East London has been the beneficiary of infrastructure
improvements to host the Games. The 72,000 seat stadium will be downsized to 25,000. The aquatics center has removal sections
to make it more for the community. The 12,000 seat arena will be dismantled and possibly used at the 2016 Games games in Rio
What happens to the velodrome? I don't know where another one is. Who races bicycles indoors?
You never hear about it except for the Olympics.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Answering the Call
4:20 pm edt
I get too many unsolicited phone calls
at home. They are mostly from charities, public opinion surveys and lower interest rates on credit cards. Caller ID allows
me to ignore them, but I answered a call from Comcast.
I only have my cable television plan with them. The
salesman offered their typical bundled package. It would save me money at first, but the monthly price would eventually increase.
Two things bother me about this. I don't like having all of this with one provider. I have been accidentally disconnected
by a Comcast technician in the past and lost my tv for several hours. I would hate to lose cable, internet and phone.
I have another concern about my television and computer working properly after hooking up to the new Comcast modem. My tv
is about 17 years old. It should be ok. My computer if six years old. I paid extra back then to greatly increase the RAM.
I probably should just upgrade everything, but I don't feel like spending the money at this point. That's the
problem with electronics. The stuff I have does the job, but could be a lot quicker.
If I bought anything,
it would be outdated in five years.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
11:06 am edt
It seems like someone is being placed
on "administrative leave" daily. For the person involved, it keeps their salary flowing.
When I looked
at the newspaper yesterday, a local college athletic director had gone that route. The story didn't mention the reason. That's
the problem with the entire process.
This person got a front page story. It looks like something is wrong, but
nobody will say anything. It could be something minor, but when you place someone on paid administrative leave, it raises
a red flag. In this case it was called a "personnel matter", which could be almost anything.
people start chirping with their comments and before you know it, the story takes a different direction.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Tales of Traffic
8:02 pm edt
Whenever you travel, you never really
know how the traffic conditions will be. That was very evident yesterday, two days before the 4th. A bad accident on the Mass
Turnpike caused a back-up that went from 8 miles to ultimately 14. It must have been a total nightmare for travelers trying
to go anywhere over the holiday.
This is the route I take to New York City. Route 95 always has construction. You can't help but get
delayed at some spots. The clock burns very fast when you don't move. The goal is to get back to highway speed.
We can all have the greatest intentions
on having a fun trip, but traffic can change everything no matter where you go. The time of day doesn't matter . It's 24/7
Monday, July 2, 2012
Coasting To A Stop
9:19 am edt
The Cyclone roller coaster at Coney
Island in Brooklyn is turing 85 and still going strong. I have visited there, but never thought of riding it.
I had two roller coaster rides in my life. The first was at Salisbury Beach in 1970. The wooden coaster
looked very rickety and unsafe. It was the first time I experienced the drops of a coaster. I didn't like it then. The ride
burned down about 10 years later.
I waited another 12 years before I went on another. When I was at Disney World,
I made the bad decision to ride Space Mountain. I never thought I would get off that thing alive. My head was spinning
when I stepped off. I promised myself that I would never ride one again.
I have been to Las Vegas and seen
their crazy coasters, but after thirty years, I have no intentions of ever having another ride.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Inside the Dusty Boxes
4:02 pm edt
I always thought being an archivist
would have been an interesting job, especially researching through old documents. You never know what you might find in a
box buried on a shelf.
Apparently, a researcher found a report written by the first doctor who treated President
Abraham Lincoln when he was fatally shot in 1865. The report by Dr Charles Leale was written a few hours after he treated
Lincoln. It was filed and never seen again for another 147 years.
It was found in a box of letters from the office
of the US Surgeon General. It was with letters from April 1865 and filed under "L' for Leale.
I'm always impressed
what is kept for posterity. I was at a Federal Record Center a few years ago to do some family genealogy research. Documents
listing a ship's passengers come to life as if they were compiled today.
At my local city hall, I was able to get
a copy of a document which showed that my mother changed her name from Helen to Helena. She did it on her own when she was
in her 20's, but her birth record shows that she was born as Helen.