Monday, December 31, 2012
The Annual Mantra
12:45 pm est
It's hard to believe that
this is the last day of 2012. Another year will soon become history. I think we all have our own ideas about changes we can
make in our lives. Some people make drastic resolutions to start the new year. It's hard to stay with them for various reasons.
I get a kick out of those who feel that 2013 is
like pushing a reset button. It's not that easy to change one's habits or beliefs.
People who want to give good riddance to 2012 said the same thing about 2011. We might have
a new year, but we also have many of the same behaviors. That's true for all of us.
Sunday, December 30, 2012
The Sounds of Winter
6:03 pm est
It never seems like winter
is here unless there is snow on the ground. Warm weather in February doesn't make nay sense. I think we have experienced some
type of climate change in recent years.
Last night, we had a forecast for 4-8 inches. We ended up with about 6. When I looked out
the window this morning, everything was covered with a coating of snow.
The sound of the plow on the pavement outside got
my attention from a deep sleep. You always know there is snow when you hear that sound of metal on asphalt. It's a very unique
sound of winter that we only hear for a few months.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
The Ocean of Doom
12:49 pm est
It's becoming an annual event.
Homes on Plum Island are on the verge of being badly damaged or swept out to sea because of beach erosion.
I feel bad for the people who are effected. On the
other hand, they are probably fighting a losing battle against nature.
Earlier this year, I drove around the island to check things out. People have built homes
too close to the water. They are on a barrier island to begin with. Those who live here do so because of their love of the
ocean. There is nothing wrong with that.
reality is trying to deal with nature. I have no idea of how to save those homes from future destruction. The financial costs
of some plans are prohibitive. Who should pay for it?
I would never get myself in a situation like this because I would never own a home so close
to impending doom. If I did, I would also have another place to run to when the water gets too close for comfort.
Friday, December 28, 2012
A Special Place For Them
11:17 am est
We have heard many nice stories
about people helping one another after the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. Parts of New York and New Jersey were forever
altered by the damage caused by the storm.
of the most disheartening stories involves those who are going into damaged homes and stealing scrap metal from them. They
are breaking into someone's house and helping themselves to whatever they can find.
They have no regard for the people who lived there. They only care about themselves. They
might be desperate, but what type of person does this? They would probably rifle through someone's pockets if they saw they
unconscious on the ground.
is already a spot in hell reserved for these guys.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Film On Fat
11:26 am est
I don't think plastic containers
are the best things for storing leftovers. I never use them because I eat everything on my plate.
The other day I got a container filled with Italian
Wedding soup. I microwaved it last night. It was delicious. However, the container had a film left by the coagulated fat.
I soaked it overnight, but this morning, it was still greasy. I had to wipe the container down to get the film off.
A regular plate or bowl would have been easier to
clean. The film from the fat made me realize that the soup might not have been the healthiest thing to eat.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
12:53 pm est
By this evening, the media
will be in full blown storm mode as we are facing a few inches of snow. We seem to be on the border for getting 3-6 inches
or 6-12. Naturally, that doesn't tell you anything.
However, it will send people out to the market to start their panic shopping for their bread and milk.
They assume they will be stranded forever with no hope of getting out.
The media likes to stoke the hype whenever there is a storm. This is their day and hour.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Gasping For Air
11:46 am est
It could have been a disaster,
but I think it will be ok. I woke up this morning to my computer making a loud noise. It sounded like it was struggling for
air. When I rebooted, I saw a screen message about the fans be blocked.
I opened up the tower to see a huge dust problem. I was very careful with the vacuum cleaner
wand. I also had a can of compressed air. It took about 20 minutes, but things appear to be ok now.
This is something I have been putting off. I should
have done it sooner. The dust could have cooked the mother board by blocking the fan.
There is bigger problem behind the table the pc is on. I need to move everything and do some
serious cleaning. There is so much dust there.
That is a project for tomorrow.
Monday, December 24, 2012
No Way To Stop
4:09 pm est
It seems hard to imagine that
the MBTA Green Line doesn't have an automated system in place to monitor and control trains in order to prevent collisions
and derailments. There have been seven derailments since 2000, as well as a few accidents resulting in fatalities and extensive
damage to trains.
officials say that it would cost between $645 and $721 million to design, install and test a modern system for the Green Line.
The cost is staggering enough, but they say it would also take nine years to implement.
This whole scenario doesn't make any sense. It took
almost that many years to put an astronaut on the moon. Where do they come up with the figures of $645 and $721 million? That
seems like a very odd amount.
the system takes that long to implement, there is no way the cost estimates will stay within bounds. It will probably be over
$1 billion. Based on that alone, the discussion and debate will continue.
Meanwhile, there will be more accidents and perhaps some fatalities. When that happens, there
will be more finger pointing and assignment of blame.
This is a great example of government inaction, not government in action.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Two More Days
2:32 pm est
We all deal with Christmas
in our own way. I think it's too commercialized these days. It has been non-stop since the beginning of November. People
have lost the sense of what the day is all about.
I'll be the first to say that I'll be glad when it's all over. I never want to sound cold or impersonal,
but things have been over the top with people. I would hate to be a parent these days. I don't think you could buy enough
stuff to keep a kid happy. That's not what it's about, but stores want you to spend yourself into oblivion. People are spending
money they don't have.
disheartening to think that we will be inundated with after-Christmas sales. When does it all end?
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Hart In New York
10:34 pm est
I read a very fascinating
story about Hart's Island. It's part of the Bronx in the great city of New York. Throughout it's history, it's been a potter's
field for indigents and others. Nobody has ever lived there.
Today, there are at least 850,000 buried there according to published reports. Who are they?
Officials admit that burial records are incomplete for many years. Some have been lost to fire.
Nobody should be buried in
anonymity. They have mass burials there in trenches, but at least some record should be kept of who is there.
It's the right thing to do.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Don't Make A Resevation Yet
1:51 pm est
approved casino gambling, nothing has happened other than several proposals that have gone nowhere. We keep hearing different
ideas. They all sound wonderful for the most part.
I don't see how the state can support three facilities. It would be nice
to have one within a short drive, but there will be too much competition for limited dollars. Most of the proposals are destination
style resorts. They will need a constant flow of people coming through the doors.
Will it divert dollars from the state lottery? Many questions remain unanswered.
I'm not overly concerned because it will be years before anything gets built, if ever.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Last Is First
3:56 pm est
People don't send holiday
cards like they did in the past. The cost of mailing hasn't helped. People are too busy to take the time to write them out.
Some like to have them pre-printed and with address
labels. I wouldn't do that myself, but others have no problem with it. I got a card today that was rather impersonal. It was
pre-printed and had an address label. However, they did the alpha sort by last name, first name.
I think it's more personal when they put your first name first, but what do I know.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Waiting Too Long
1:26 pm est
I never had a desire to buy
stamps on-line. I don't use that many because most of my bills are paid by my debit card. I received an offer from USPS last
year to create an account. The offer included a digital scale and $5 worth of supplies. They never said what the supplies
and I never did anything about it. I was looking at the contents today that included a CD to get started.
Apparently, the offer expired
on Sept 30, 2011. That was also was the end of the fiscal year. It's a moot point now. The CD ended up in the trash and the
rest got recycled.
you procrastinate long enough, the issue can become irrelevant in some instances.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Tires Not Wanted
4:18 pm est
Illegal dumping of trash is
a problem everywhere. People leave things on the side of the road with the assumption that someone else will remove it.
I saw a good example today of how extreme this issue
can get. I dropped off some newspapers at a local church bin for recycling. Next to it was one for used
clothing with a large sign that said no appliances, books, furniture, tires or mattresses. To leave one of these is purely
selfish on the part of someone.
They will just dump it some place else.
Monday, December 17, 2012
Nothing In The Box
11:37 am est
I think it's very easy to
have your email in-box filled with messages. At one point, I had over 180, but now I have none. Everything has been read,
placed in a folder or deleted. It's much more organized now. I want to keep it that way from this point forward.
On a typical day, I get about 80 messages. Most
of them come unsolicited. I don't think you can ever stop them. I need to stay on top and delete them as they arrive. It could
get out of hand very easily again.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Money For The Black Hole
12:45 pm est
You can always count on Congress
to take a special appropriation bill and tack on all sorts of spending items. They can't help it. They love to bring money
back to their district. Nobody likes "pork" spending unless it benefits their constituents.
The bill has $60.4 billion for Hurricane Sandy,
but contains many other goodies. There is $150 million for the Alaskan fishing industry, $2 million for the Smithsonian Institute
to repair roofs, $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Department of Homeland Security and countless other items.
Much of this is worthwhile spending, but Congress
creates a terrible perception with the way they add stuff. One item that is sure to create waste is the $13 billion for "mitigation
projects" to prevent damage from future storms. That is a black hole in the making. No matter how much they appropriate,
$13 billion will never be enough for a project that has not even been defined.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
5:50 pm est
State government can actually
come up with ideas that makes sense. Massachusetts is looking into replacing their 400 toll collectors
with an electronic system using transponders and cameras.
I think it's a good idea that will improve traffic flow. The toll collectors would get offered early retirement, buyouts or training for another state job.
The initial cost is estimated at $100 million. Advocates feel that it would pay for itself
in 2-3 years. States with this sytem have a higher rate of transponder use. Cameras would record all
license plate tags. Bills would be sent to the owner of record. Compliance has been good in those states.
I don't use a transponder. I thought about getting
one, but never followed up on it. I'll probably wait until they force my hand.
I don't want to write a check for a 50 cent toll.
What A Dance
11:19 pm est
A local affluent community
is considering administering a blood alcohol breath test at high school dances. This seems rather Draconian and another example
of the "nanny state".
is no doubt that alcohol can be a problem with kids, but this has been going on forever. Nobody ever wants to see tragic accidents.
I feel the alcohol test is very intrusive. Do students
surrender their rights going to the dance? Should they even have dances when it gets to this point?
Too bad they can't hold the dance in some type of
protective bubble where nothing bad will ever happen.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Not On The Same Page
11:56 am est
Newspapers are fighting to
stay alive. Revenues have decreased because of on-line publications. Selling ads is a vital source of revenue. Some papers
have no problem running them on the front page.
I wish papers would keep all obituaries on a dedicated page instead of having them all over the place.
Families pay for them. They should at least be treated with dignity and not like another paid ad.
Yesterday's edition of my local had them on three
different pages. It wasn't because of the number of them, but rather the placement of some other ads. There was one on the
sports pages in the upper right hand corner. The family should be outraged over this. I'm sure there are people who missed
it because they don't look at the sports page.
I wonder if newspapers will survive for another ten years.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Don't Mention PTSD
1:18 am est
Returning soldiers from Iraq
and Afghanistan must deal with the issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It's a huge problem in the military. The Veteran's
Administration is overwhelmed with cases. A huge backlog has resulted causing delays in getting financial benefits and counseling.
Many soldiers are afraid to come forward and seek
counseling because they fear a stigma. They could be right to a degree. According to the NYPD, 80% of veterans who apply for
a police job are rejected because of admitted cases of PTSD.
The NYPD said it reviews each case individually, but PTSD is something that they feel must
be looked at. It's easy to see why some veterans choose to fool themselves and others into thinking
they are ok. To admit to PTSD is a career killer in some instances.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Fixing It Again
2:35 pm est
Last August when I was in
New York City, I used the subway at the South Ferry station. It was rebuilt after 9/11 at a cost of $568 million and completed
only three years ago. The inside was a stellar example of what a subway station could be with its bright lighting and pristine
It was also
a few hundred yards from the Hudson River. The station was flooded to the ceiling during Superstorm
Sandy. It now lies in ruins and will take almost the same amount of money to fix it. It will be a few years before it opens
City could get another storm like Sandy. That part of the city is sitting in the cross-hairs of potential disaster. There
is talk about spending $10-20 billion on flood control. It will be years before anything is done. In the meantime, the station
could get flooded again. Lower Manhattan is a disaster waiting to happen.
Monday, December 10, 2012
The Gig Is Up
7:24 pm est
I think kids are spoiled these
days. Their parents shelter them from the realities of the world. I saw a great example today from a letter in "Dear
was concerned that her 12 year old daughter no longer believes in Santa Claus. The daughter refuses to write a letter to Santa
and has told her mother that she knows he doesn't exist.
Rather than acknowledge her daughter, she is concerned that the young
girl will think her parents lie to her about other things.
Is this woman for real? Just give the Santa thing up. The kid knows the story. She won't
hold it against her parents. How longer does she think this could on? A kid who believes in Santa at 12 will probably have
some issues down the road.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
9:36 pm est
I will forever be associated
with UMass Amherst. That is my school that I love so much. So many great memories there. I donate money, but they will never
name a building after me. Over the years, they could have done a better job in getting donations from alumnae.
It gets worse with Suffolk University where I received
a Master's degree in 1979. Only 5% of the graduates donate. That is so pathetic. The school is going through a transition
from it's location on Beacon Hill to downtown. There are so many needs.
Schools need to make donors feel that their money is appreciated . It doesn't always happen.
The important thing is to donate. It doesn't matter how much, although schools have a way of making alumnae not feel warm and fuzzy.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Five Too Many
9:03 pm est
Boston and Cambridge have
seen a huge increase in the number of cyclists on their streets. Bike sharing stations and dedicated lanes have facilitated
they make a very bad marriage with pedestrians and cars. Earlier this week, a college student was killed after being struck
by a truck. He was the 5th fatality this year for cyclists. Accidents happen all the time, but this figure needs to be dealt
I have no idea
how you could make cycling safer without getting a great degree of opposition. I never like driving near them.
Friday, December 7, 2012
Not Jumping In
6:25 am est
It seems like more people
are taking a dip in the ocean on New Year's Day. A local road race I ran in for many years has that option. It never appealed
to me. It's one of the last things that I would ever do. Those who do it say that it's very invigorating. I'm sure it is,
but it must be a real shock to one's body.
recently got an email from the club promoting the race. It had a series of pictures of runners emerging
from the cold water. One guy was wearing a wetsuit. Does that really count? I would probably do the same thing if I had to
jump into the water.
I think a wetsuit compromises the "spirit" of the ocean dip on New Year's Day. It doesn't matter to me. It's not
on my "bucket list" of things I want to do. In fact, it's on the list of things I never plan to do.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Price Is No Object
2:21 pm est
I love when government projects
have prices and time-frames quoted because they soon become unrealistic. We are seeing that with the unveiling of the designs
of the new Tappan Zee bridge in New York.
the political process crawls at a snail's pace, the cost continues to rise. The latest design has a price tag of $3.14 billion
and a five year completion time. There is also another $600-$800 million for contingencies.
The most popular design is also the cheapest. The designs vary in cost by almost $1 billion.
I like the favored design that incorporates a partial suspension bridge. The New York Thruway Authority will choose the winner
on December 17th.
matter what happens, construction will never start on time. The state of New York should run a contest for citizens to predict
the final cost. I have no doubt that it will surpass $5 billion. That's a conservative estimate, based on the actual starting
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Room With a Lousy View
5:23 pm est
A local non-profit is building
a group home along Main St. They designed it to blend in with the other historical buildings around it. It should be very
beautiful when finished. There are plenty of windows for the rooms.
Unfortunately, one side of the building abuts the rear cinder block wall of a laundromat.
Anyone on that side of the home will be looking at a concrete wall a few feet away.
Maybe they will plant some tall shrubs to enhnace
the view. The laundromat isn't going any place.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Betting Against The T
2:43 pm est
You can always count on transportation
projects to be delayed and completed way over budget. We are seeing a text book case with the plans by the MBTA to close and
renovate the Government Center station.
facility needs to be upgraded to conform with ADA guidelines among other things. The T is adamant on closing the station because
a partial shutdown would add over a year in construction and cost $16 million more.
The plan is to close the station for two years and complete the project for $90 million.
I would bet any amount of money that it takes longer and costs more. They still have not decided on the date to close the
stop. It could be late summer or early autumn next year.
This doesn't sound like a well planned project . If it was, they would have a firm shutdown
date. Government projects are never completed timely and within budget. Why would this one be the exception? The federal government
is covering 80% of the cost. That tells you something about the viability of it being done within the estimate.
Monday, December 3, 2012
See You Next Year
3:09 pm est
I might have sounded a bit
foolish today at the doctor's office when the receptionist asked me if I wanted to make another appointment for a physical
next year. At first I said no. I told her that I have problems making plans that far in advance.
After thinking for a moment, I decided to go forward
and make an appointment for next year at this time. So many things can happen between now and then. I feel like
I'm going out on the limb, but I guess we need to assume that we will be here.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Let's Dump Asphalt
9:17 pm est
Whenever they pave a street
or a highway, it never seems to last very long. They are always paving on the highway. It only lasts for a few years. It gets
worse on the bridges.
did some work in my neighborhood recently. It looks nice, but I wonder how long it will last. Asphalt has a tough time in
I jog on
a portion of a street on a regular basis. After awhile, you know every detail about the street and sidewalk.
I noticed a catch basin was filled with dirt and
a light coating of asphalt. Dumping excess asphalt down the catch basin is not the best option.
That stuff should have been hauled away by the contractor.
What type of corporate culture makes illegal dumping normal behavior?
Saturday, December 1, 2012
Waiting For The Lawsuit
6:13 pm est
I just saw a horrible story
on the news about an arson fire that destroyed a church. The suspect was considered to have "mental health issues"
and had been in and out of various facilities over the years.
Where does this leave the congregation? The 25 year old church is a
total loss. As the suspect winds his way through the judicial system, we will watch how much of a farce the process can be
It's so crazy
that I would never doubt the suspect filing a lawsuit against the church for allowing him the necessary
access needed to burn the place down.