Thursday, January 31, 2013
Keeping It Complex
9:23 pm est
It always makes me laugh when
I hear talk about changing federal tax laws. We will soon be hearing sound bites concerning a bill in the Senate to "simplify"
the code to a flat rate of 17% and a tax return the "size of a post card".
I've been hearing this for over 30 years. This is the ultimate example of pandering to the people. I always felt that tax laws are written by the rich and for the rich and various special interest
how it is. I'm not saying it's right, but it's the system we live with. Good luck to anyone who tries
to reform the tax laws.
Lawyers, accountants, financial advisers and tax preparers all have a stake
in keeping the laws complex. It's good for business and provides job security for them.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Too Many Captains
11:53 am est
Parents are too involved with
youth sports teams. It begins as soon as they start playing organized games and continues through high school. You
can always count on parents to exhibit boorish behavior at their kid's sporting events. Everyone thinks their child
is going to be a future Olympian or professional athlete.
When I ran track and cross country in high school, we had either a captain or co-captains
for each sport. I thought that was a reasonable representation. The captains don't really do anything. It was a popularity
contest then and now. However, it does look good on college applications.
We have trained our kids to think that everyone needs to win. Nobody can ever suffer a defeat
because it's bad for self-esteem. That's why we have a situation on a local high school wrestling team with five captains.
That's more than most NFL teams. Why does a high school team need that many?
I have no doubt it was because of pressure exerted on the coach and athletic director by
the parents who could not imagine their child not being a captain. They should just name everyone on the team a captain. Nobody
would have their feelings hurt.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Itching For It
7:12 pm est
I continue to battle the dry
skin on my hands by using lotion daily. It seems to be helping. I also have a lot of dryness on my legs. There are times when
I scratched too much to relieve the dry itch.
Before I took a shower, I lotioned my legs and waited an hour. The shower felt good, although it's
a good idea to avoid hot water on itchy skin.
This is a good thing to do on a daily basis or at least until I get past the
dry and itchy skin. Usually, it stays around into spring.
Monday, January 28, 2013
A Taste of Honey
10:45 pm est
I never use honey. I've only
tasted it a few times in my tea. I never thought much of it until tonight when I had a cup of tea and
a teaspoon of honey. It was a delicious drink. I had another cup on top of it.
I wrote down the name of the brand. I'll be looking out for it in the market. I'm sure they
all taste different, but I liked this one a lot.
It looks like I'll be using this stuff in the future. This will be
the first time I ever bought honey.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
The Cold Facts
1:34 pm est
The recent cold weather has
effected many people, both in a positive and negative way. It often becomes a death sentence to the homeless who live on the
streets across America. Some die from exposure, but their deaths often get little attention other than someone saying that
it should not have happened.
have no doubt that homeless people died in New York City over the last week. The cold was just too much for some, no matter
how well they prepared.
positive benefit was the city had no homicides over a course of nine days. It's interesting to note that this period coincided with the recent cold spell.
Things got back to normal yesterday when a 20 year old man was murdered in Queens. Every
victim has a face and a story. Their demise often generates only a few lines, if any, in the newspapers.
The city has trumpeted its success in lowering murders
last year with only 414, but that doesn't matter to the family of the victims. It
has done a remarkable job when you consider that there were 2,245 homicides in 1989.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
A Week In The Subway
10:51 am est
New York City is facing an
epidemic of people being struck by subway trains. Last year saw 55 fatalities. Most of them were suicides.
Advocates are calling for some type of safety barrier to be installed to prevent people from falling onto the tracks. It's
not a bad idea, but the cost for the entire system could be close to $1 billion.
Three people were struck this week. The first victim was killed after walking to the end
of the platform and entering the track tunnel around 4:30am. The second one died after throwing themself into a train approaching
Times Square. The third person was saved by a Good Samaritan after falling onto the tracks while drunk.
More victims will join the list in the upcoming
weeks and months. What is the responsibility of government to prevent such tragedies? The subway provides an easy way for
them to end their life, but will they find another way if prevented by a barrier?
The issue is very complex and without an easy solution.
Friday, January 25, 2013
1:14 am est
It's easy to see why the US
Postal Services loses $25 million daily in its operation. Customer satisfaction is not one of their strongest points.
Yesterday, I received one of my monthly magazines in sealed plastic. I
didn't think that much of it because National Geographic does the same thing. When I removed it, I found six other duplicate
issues. I was about to recycle them when I noticed they had names and addresses in my neighborhood.
I brought them to the local post office. The clerk
rolled her eyes and said this happens periodically when workers are careless. Apparently, many magazines get delivered to
the post office in this format, based on the zip+4. All of the magazines owners lived near my home.
Someone at the post office
should have taken them out of the sealed pouch and distributed them to the proper routes for delivery. If I hadn't
gone to the post office, these people would have missed their magazine delivery for the month.
It makes me wonder about my TIME magazine which
arrived a few weeks ago. It was badly mangled and had torn pages. It was just another day at the post office.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Crazy Ideas In The Big Apple
5:04 pm est
A group of local citizens
will be meeting to discuss ideas for the future of Haverhill. I'm all in favor of this type of discussion as
long as the ideas are logical. A few years ago, I viewed an exhibition at the local library that illustrated some of their
ideas. I must admit that some were not financially feasible or actually doable for a variety of reasons.
I read an article today on ideas that were proposed
to enhance the future of New York City. They were proposed as early as 1934. Some of them were rather
was to fill in a 10 mile section of the Hudson River to provide more land for the expansion of Manhattan. That certainly would
have eliminated the ship traffic on the West Side.
The late Buckminster Fuller thought it would be a good idea to build a two-mile dome over
mid-town Manhattan in 1960. It would have been climate controlled and created a unique living environment. Nobody said how
they would build it over the skyscrapers.
have always been an issue in the city. Why not build 15 towers of 100 stories each to eliminate Harlem? Each would have been
built in the shape of a nuclear power-plant cooling tower.
The public housing projects built after World War II created their own social problems.
They were usually 15-20 stories. One can only imagine what 100 stories would have lead to.
One of the final ideas that was outlined was the proposal for the 2012 Olympics. It would
have destroyed most of the West Side from 34th to 42nd street and from 8th Ave to the Hudson River.
It's a good thing that a lot of ideas don't get
off the drawing board. The scary part is that sane people thought of them and had a lot of support.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
4:26 pm est
Whenever I listen to all-news
radio, I hear the same stories around the hour. They change the wording at times, but keep the same sound bites.
Weather people can be very annoying on stormy days
or cold ones like today. They seem to have a need to editorialize about how cold it is. They also like to tell people to dress
how cold it is, but they overdid it today. It was 15 degrees and a little windy when I went for a run around 1pm. It wasn't
as bad as I thought it might be. They made it sound like I was going for a run in the Artic. As soon
as we have a warm day, they will be telling everyone to get outside and enjoy it.
The 6pm news will have the obligatory interview with people outside and saying how they
stay warm. They could
use footage from a few years ago and we wouldn't know the difference.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
A New Roll
7:11 pm est
After filling my gas tank,
I pressed the button to get a receipt. It printed out, but had the infamous solid red line on the edge of the paper. The paper
roll was nearing the end.
clerk inside only finds out when a customer goes to see them to get a receipt. It happened to me last week on my way to a
comedy show. I spent several minutes in the store trying to get a receipt.
I have no idea how many more receipts can be printed. The roll will end at some point. You just don't want to be that customer who finds out.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Teach & Learn
9:19 pm est
I already knew it when they
tried to teach me in the 6th grade. It was the difference between the words "learn" and "teach". I never
understood why there was confusion over their meaning. I knew back then, but people still misuse the words now.
When I was 21, I worked in a butcher shop. They
had professional meat cutters who did the job so well. The owner once said to me "if you are good, we will learn you
the cut". It didn't make any sense back then when I heard that expression.
I have no idea how I could ever learn you about anything.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
5:02 pm est
There is so much infrastructure
in America that needs to be replaced. Roads and bridges constantly need work. Water and sewer lines are ancient in many communities.
The cost is astronomical. Thousands could be put to work, but nothing gets done until there is a problem or people have been
saw that in a local community where a house nearly burned to the ground. Fire officials said that low pressure in old water
mains hindered their efforts to fight the fire.
This should never happen, but it does more than it should. Citizens pay taxes and should get at least
the minimum amount of services and protection.
These areas of low water pressure are often identified after the damage has been done. Meanwhile,
the infrastructure continues to crumble in front of us.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
2:16 pm est
I appreciate the creativity
of commercials on radio and television. The ones for the Super Bowl always draw a great deal of attention. In recent years,
some advertisers have tried too hard to make the greatest commercial in history. As a result, they often have a number of
I was very
dissapointed today when I tuned into 1010WINS on-line. I enjoy listending to my favorite all-news radio station from New York
City. Not only did they have too many commercials, but they were lousy ones.
I don't know who created them, but they need to do a better job. I can accept on-line advertising
as a fact of life, but at least do something that is entertaining.
Friday, January 18, 2013
A Can't Win Decision
3:53 pm est
The decision to cancel school
on a snowy day is a difficult one to make at times. We saw that locally the other day when the decision was made to go forward
were outraged that their kids had to deal with adverse conditions. Social media magnifies this problem even more because everyone
can have a voice and hide behind their comments.
Cancelling school can certainly impact day care issues. Each day missed adds another one on at the
end of the school year. Parents get upset when their kids go late into June. There is no pleasing them
one way or the other.
would not want to be the one who makes the final decision on having school on a snowy day.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
12:23 am est
The snow yesterday brought
out the whining in some people. Apparently, they don't realize that it's winter in New England in January. They were complaining
about wanting the 65 degree temperatures we had on Monday.
Some of these people get so delusional.People mock global warming and say they want more
of these warm temperatures. They are the same ones who will complain when we have vicious rain storms this spring and summer.
I think peopl who complain
about the weather have other issues. It's pointless to do it. There is nothing on earth anyone can do. It's one thing to complain,
but some people say some really stupid things.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Just Another Closing
12:14 am est
Churches are an important
part of any community. They are part of the social fabric and play a role in the lives of their members.
In recent years, the Boston Archdiocese has been
closing churches due to a shortage of priests and dwindling attendance. Many of the vacant churches and related properties
have been sold to private developers. Some have remained as churches for other religions.
I read a sad story of St Joseph's Church in Salem, Mass. It had a very
devoted group of parishioners who were there since its construction in 1949.
I always noticed its distinctive white bricks and cross-shaped design whenever I drove through
Salem. The church was torn down this week. Housing will rise on the site. It's a good use for the land,
but it's a shame that a building like that was simply discarded. The church was a vital part of the community for so many
years, but one day it became expendable.
Archdiocese is too quick to sell property to get money in return, but they have their own financial
problems. It's a shame that the church was taken away from its parishioners. It can't be replaced.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Can't Slow Down
11:17 am est
Getting struck by a subway
train in New York City happens far too frequently. Some victims were suicide attempts while others were pushed onto the path
of the incoming trains. Last year, 139 were struck resulting in 54 deaths.
Train operators have been advised by their union to slow down to 10 mph when approaching
a station. Currently, the trains come barreling in at 30-40 mph.
I have watched them many times and thought that nobody could possibly survive a train strike.
I often wondered why they never slow down.
Apparently, MTA management is against any slowing down because they feel it will impact the system
speed along the line. That makes sense because of the signal system and switches inside the tunnels. I have been on trains
that stopped for 15-30 seconds while waiting for clearance to proceed.
MTA officials are now concerned that the union will use the tactic during their contract
negotiations. Both sides make a valid point. I'm not sure what the solution is other than staying as a far away from the tracks
as possible and keeping an eye out for suspicious looking people who might try to shove someone onto the tracks.
Monday, January 14, 2013
Let's Keep It Cold
3:15 pm est
It's almost 60 degrees today.
It was a lovely day for a run with the sun shining brightly. Everyone wants more warm days, but this is not good for us.
These types of temperature changes are bad for the
environment. We went through this last winter with days in the 70's. We will pay for it eventually. I think we saw it with
Super Storm Sandy.
have no doubt that we could get another storm like that. We have altered the atmosphere too much by polluting it. If
people want weather like this daily, they need to move to a warmer climate. However, those places have their own natural disasters
to deal with.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
The Bad Marriage of Birds & Planes
6:16 pm est
In the last two days, there
have been two jets struck by birds during takeoffs at JFK airport. This presents a huge and potentially fatal problem for
the planes involved. Both planes continued on without any problems, but it's only a matter of time before there is a
airport runways are a bad combination. Animal activists bristle at any notion of removing the birds or destroying them, but something needs to be done. Many airports are located by the water on the east
coast. It's a ticking bomb waiting to go off.
Nothing will ever get done until they bring another jet down with fatalities. Even then,
the supporters of the birds will say it's not the birds fault.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Good Old Post Office
10:18 pm est
The US Postal Service managed
to lose $15.9 billion during fiscal year 2012. It's easy to see why with the change in mailing habits by Americans. This is
not the Post Office of the 1950's, but they seem to live in that world. The only thing they do well is deliver packages, circulars
and junk mail. It generates a lot of revenue, but not enough to stem the deficit.
Nobody will ever be able to explain to me why my TIME magazine was delivered
to me today with pages ripped away. I wonder what happened along the delivery way.
They need to show my magazines more respect and
keep their deficit under $16 billion, although I doubt it.
I wonder if they will ever move to privatizing mail delivery. There are over 500,000 postal
employees to consider in doing anything. I don't think it will happen, but you never know. There could be some type of reform
15 years from now in 2028.
Friday, January 11, 2013
It's All In The Hands
6:46 pm est
The flu epidemic across the
nation is really bad and has caused a number of deaths. So far, I have not been sick, in spite of not getting a flu shot.
I have mixed emotions about some of the comments
I hear from the media and elected officials. We are being told to get a flu shot. I have not had one since 1981 and no plans
to do so. Telling people to get a shot is another example of the "Nanny State" we live in.
I think it's a good idea to encourage
people to wash their hands and cover their mouth when they cough. However, it can get to the point of sounding like a lecture
from an adult to a child.
Hand washing is a problem 365 days a year. I might be compulsive about it, but I see people in the bathroom who don't wash
their hands. It's easy to see why there is so much illness associated with food handling.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
How Busy Can You Be?
4:56 pm est
I was at a gas station today
and saw a guy fixing one of the gas pump nozzles. That seems like a normal thing to do, but he had a truck with a door sign
that said he was from a nozzle service company in New Hampshire.
I wonder how busy he gets. Is there much competition in this line of work? They don't need
his services unless it's for a repair or new installation. How many other calls did he get today?
I wanted to ask him questions, but I thought he
might look at me like I'm some type of fool. He certainly has an interesting and unique job.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Laundry Appreciation Day
8:23 pm est
I did something today I had
not since 1983. I went to the laundromat because the two washing machines in my apartment building are being replaced. They
both died over a week ago. It's been about ten days since I did any laundry. I couldn't wait any longer.
The place I went to was clean, but more expensive
than I thought. The cheapest washer was $3.75. I spent $11 on three large loads. It was another $9 for three dryers. I'll
be so glad when the new machines are hooked up. I'm sure the price will go up, but it was only $1.25 for a wash.
I didn't want to fold my laundry there so I brought
it home. Everything needs to be folded. I think I'll count how many things I washed today. I have an enormous pile of t-shirts
and many socks.
enjoy doing laundry. I hope I never get that far behind again.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
On Thin Ice
3:41 pm est
If people want to engage in
irresponsible behavior, I'm ok with that as long as it doesn't effect anyone else. However, it's a problem because people
often drag down others with their selfish actions.
I saw this today when people were on the ice of a local pond in spite of it being 44 degrees
outside. You could see from the road how thin the ice was. That didn't stop two different groups from venturing out onto it.
I saw a couple of people fishing. They should know better, but they obviously had no concern about the ice.
They have a right to fall through the ice if they
want to. However, it's selfish on their part to think that first responders would need to put heir own lives in jeopardy in
order to save them.
onto the ice in warm weather should be done at your own risk. However, they would be the first to scream for help if they
Monday, January 7, 2013
A Case of the Bug
12:27 pm est
I'm not a fan of any insects
that enter my apartment. When I see them, they meet their demise very quickly. Yesterday, I was startled when I saw something
fly by me as I read the newspaper.
grabbed a fly swatter and waited for it to land. About an hour later, I saw in on my kitchen counter and quickly struck. I
was surprised at its size. I'm not sure what it was, but it was bigger than a
moth and didn't have the same type of wings.
I hope I don't see another one, but if I do, I'll jump into action.
This place isn't big enough for both of us.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Sales Not Sinking
11:24 am est
I don't think they will ever
come up with the total dollar amount of damage done by Superstorm Sandy. The devastation is a terrible sight to see.
Unfortunately, there has been an economic benefit
to the building supply industry. Their sales have spiked since the storm as people try to rebuild.
The boating industry has also benefited. Sales are
up 25% in the metropolitan NYC area because of insurance settlements on damaged boats. More than 65,000 boats were destroyed
along the coast and at marinas.
owners are very passionate about replacing their crafts no matter what size. Industry observers expect sales to hit $700 million
before it's over. Hopefully, the boats are made in the USA and providing good paying jobs.
It seems like that there is always some type of economic benefit to disasters. It's a shame,
but it happens.
The Big Wheel
11:18 pm est
Some ideas always sound great,
but are so flawed in reality. Government has a big role in that. Many ideas come and go, but I think we were all behind the
plan to have a 625 foot Ferris Wheel as part of a $500 million project on Staten Island. It was a no-brainer until we found
out that most of the ride is in a flood zone.
People have their heads in the ground when it comes to flood zones. Who knows when a geat storm will
strike again? It could be 40 years or six months. It's easy to see why developers would be nervous about this.
I don't think this project will ever happen.
Friday, January 4, 2013
The Biggest Bar
5:08 pm est
I have not eaten any chocolate
or candy since late 2008. Sometimes at work, I would buy M&M's, but never again after I retired. My last candy bar was
about 10 years ago.
was in a store today and saw a one pound Hershey Bar. It was enormous. Bigger than the bar was the price at $11.99. Who would
buy this other than for some type of joke gift? I'm sure there are those who could consume it during one sitting.
If I never eat any more chocolate, that's ok with
me. There are no plans in the future.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
A Vote For Going Early
12:28 am est
Voter turnout in Massachusetts
elections has not always been impressive. It gets worse for the primaries. Many people lose interest because so many seats
go uncontested, especially in the state legislature.
I was pleased to hear that Beacon Hill will consider bills allowing early voting and loosening
the guidelines for absentee ballots.
day has always been a tradition everywhere in this country, but people should have the option to vote on an earlier date if
they choose. There will be some financial costs involved, but I think having more people participate in the election process
outweighs any price.
long as the integrity can be protected, I'm all in favor of early voting.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
No Tickets To Orlando
10:40 am est
New York City claims to be
the number one destination for tourists with 52 million visitors in 2012. I always wonder how they keep track of this stuff.
Officials say it's based on computer models.
Orlando, home of Disney World, is also saying that they beat the Big Apple by over 500,000. How can
you dispute this? Counting hotel room nights is a factor, but what about day trips to both places?
New York also claims 33% of foreign tourists. How
is this computed? Nobody sits at the airport with a clicker to count people exiting from planes.
I often wonder how New York figures that 356,000
worker are employed in the tourism industry. Do they count cab drivers and bodega owners?
New York City has always been my favorite destination. I went to Disney World once. I have
no intentions of ever going back there. I don't care if the trip is free.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
The Illegal Bottle
1:28 pm est
We see the ongoing difficulty
in determining what level of government should establish a law regulating something. This is especially true concerning the
issue of gun control. States want to maintain their rights and laws. Others feel, it should be under the guidance of the federal
aspects of life are shrouded in regulatory controversy. Some states have their own deposit bottle bills to encourage recycling
and eliminating waste. Various types of bottle are not redeemable in other states. Massachusetts allows consumers to throw
plastic water bottles in the trash if they don't recycle them.
The town of Concord, Mass has taken it one step further. They have outlawed the sale of single
bottles of water. Officals feel that there is suitable tap water to drink.
I think this is a very Draconian rule. I have no doubt that water bottles use up too much
petroleum and usually end up in a landfill, but I think local government has exceeded their boundary.They are also effecting
the commerce of stores who will now lose money because they can't sell the single use bottles.
In a perfect world, everything would get recycled,
but it doesn't happen. I don't think the solution is to draw up a list of arbitrary items that should be outlawed.