Sunday, March 31, 2013
The Day The Tree Died
2:37 pm edt
The tree grew on my street
for many years. I remember when it was alive, but it died several years ago. It always stood out in the summer because it
had no leaves. During the winter, it blended in with all of the other bare trees.
A few years ago, the the city cut it down, but left a 20 foot tall stump. It looked horrible.
Some neighborhood kids attached a basketball backboard to it, but eventually the rim got bent and was no longer used.
I would run by the tree several times a week. It
was a sad thing to see, a once tall and majestic tree being relegated to a broken basketball hoop.
When I drove by today, the tree stump had been cut
down to the level of the sidewalk. The saw dust was still there. If they remove the stump, it will leave a gaping hole in
the sidewalk.They will probably leave it for now.
Maybe another tree will be planted in its place at some pont, but I won't
hold my breath.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
How Many Cans?
7:34 pm edt
The local market had tomato
soup on sale. It was buy one, get one free. So far, I have 16 cans. That should last for a fair amount of time.
I don't have that much room to store things. I recently
did the same for toilet paper. If I had an extra room, garage or cellar, I could hoard a lot more items.
You reach a point when you wonder, how much is enough.
I could keep buying cans of soup, but I wouldn't have room to move.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Not Always Cheaper
12:47 am edt
I love pistachio nuts. They
are my favorite late night snack and are also very healthy. I always buy the same size package.
Last week, I decided to do something different.
I bought a two pound bag. Based on the price of the 10 oz. size, it was like getting one free. It made a lot of sense
the more you have of them, the more you eat. I think three 10 oz bags would last longer than a two pound
When I buy my
next bag, I'll need to have a better system of rationing them. I eat them too fast because they taste so good.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
The Deal On The Tables
3:00 pm edt
I wonder what the "over
and under" date is for opening casinos in Massachusetts. The public has heard many plans by developers, but no decisions
have been made. That hasn't stopped entrepreneurs from trying to cash in leading
up to it.
A school has
started for training people to be card dealers in the future casinos. They learn all aspects of shuffling cards and casino
table protocol. It's a great idea for these businessmen. A number of individuals have taken the course and look forward to
the opening day.
only problem is when will it happen? How do you keep your skills without a job? There is only so much time you can practice
on your own.
things get on the fast track, I don't think any place will open before 2015. That's a long time to practice while waiting
for a job.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Put The Ball Down Now
4:01 pm edt
We continue to see examples
of the "Nanny State" daily. The latest involves a local school district that has banned kids from playing dodge-ball
because they feel it promotes bullying and targets individuals.
What will be next on the list, playing tag? The kids were using foam
balls, not the red ones that were the staple of gym class and recess for so many years.
It's easy to see why kids don't engage in play activities like they did in the past. It's
so regulated by parents and officials that everyone is afraid to do anything.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
All In The Dumpster
8:20 pm edt
I feel good about recycling
my newspapers and magazines to local churches who set up dumpsters for them. The churches are paid by the amount of pounds
left by donors.
I put some stuff in tonight, it was really full. I had been by on Sunday and it was just as bad. I wonder what the pickup
schedule is like. Does someone from the church visually observe the level of the dumpster and then place
a call to the container company or are they on a set time?
Can you imagine calling the rectory and asking this question? They would wonder what was
It's one of those
things you get curious about.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Don't Go Fishing
3:10 pm edt
Animal-rights groups have
an important role in creating awareness of the problems related to the treatment of animals. They can get carried away at
times with their zealousness. We have seen many stories about PETA over the years.
They made the news recently for protesting a program in Vermont that teaches young people
and their families how to fish. They feel that fishing is cruel and encourages violence. I'm not sure how they arrived at
people who fish need to treat their catch properly. If they do "catch and release" they need to ensure that they
don't do anything harmful to the fish that might hurt or kill them.
Some of these groups appear to protest just to get publicity. If that's the case, they are
doing a good job at it.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
The Show That Wasn't
7:53 pm edt
Everyone makes mistakes. They
happen daily to all of us. Some are minor and nothing happens. Others can be catastrophic and potentially fatal. Hopefully,
we learn from mistakes, but that doesn't always happen.
I'm still tyring to figure out how I messed up on the date for a comedy gig. I thought it
was next Saturday, but it was last night. I found that out earlier today when I got a text from the woman running the show.
She was wondering why I never showed up last night.
I went back to our email exchange and my definition of "next Saturday" wasn't the
same. I aslo never mentioned the date. If I had, I would have found my mistake.
It wasn't he end of the world. I was looking forward to the show, but I guess it will never
Saturday, March 23, 2013
12:54 pm edt
I did a 14 hour fast to prepare
for some routine blood work. It's not a big deal when you can have a nice meal before you begin and something to eat once
that is not the case for millions of children and adults around the world. They go to bed hungry and wake up feeling worse.
They might be lucky and get something to put into their stomach. It's not always the most nutritional food, but it's all they
Hunger is a
way of life for so many people. Here is America, we live in a society where tons of food get tossed out daily. Restaurants
and markets fill their dumpsters with food not eaten by customers and items past their expiration date. There are people
who would fight over this stuff, but we just cart it away.
We are so wasteful when it comes to food.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Make Room For The Avocado
10:43 am edt
I never mind food shopping.
I would like it even more if I didn't need to spend money, but that won't happen. Last evening was quite interesting.
I bought my first avocado and ate it. I'm not sure
why I never bought them before. They taste rather bland, but that works for me. Their health benefits can never be disregarded.
While looking at cereal, I saw that they finally
brought back "Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs". It had been off the market for a couple of years. It was nowhere to be
found, even on-line. When they finally brought it back, they jacked up the price and made the box so much smaller.
It made sense to buy the two pound bag of pistachio
nuts. Previously, I was buying them in a ten ounce package. For the price of two pounds, it was a significant
savings. I just need to be careful not to eat them too quickly.
There are several new fruits and vegetables that I plan to try, but it's one step at a time.
The avocado was a big one.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
4:26 pm edt
The federal government has
many ideas that begin with great intentions, but they don't always work the way they were hoping for.
There is an obvious obesity problem in today's children as well as adults.
Recent changes to the public school hot lunch program
were met with great skepticism by everyone. Kids are growing up on junk food filled with empty calories
and saturated fat.
must now use whole wheat bread and offer four ounces of fruit and vegetables to kids. What has been
the net result? Kids are eating their burgers and sandwich meat, but tossing out the bun. Fruits and vegetables are untouched
in many cases. So much foods is being thrown away.
Local school districts have been conducting focus groups with kids to determine where they can reach
a happy medium on the menu. It's a very difficult task because kids can be very fussy eaters. I was one of them. When I look
back, it's a wonder that I didn't waste away from being so thin.
I never ate fruit or vegetables growing up. When I went away to UMass, I started to change,
but it has been a lifelong process to get to where I am today nutritionally.
Some of the fast food options are so atrocious. It's easy to see why we have such a weight
problem in this country.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Fresh vs Frozen
12:28 am edt
I don't think that I will
ever get to the point where I eat enough fruit. I started eating blueberries with my yogurt. Overall, I need to eat more servings.
I do very well with my vegetables. I had six different ones yesterday.
One of the challenges with buying fruit is keeping it fresh. I decided
to try frozen raspberries. I thawed them out for one hour and then mixed them in yogurt. They tasted ok, although they still
had a bit of a frozen feeling to them.
I think vegetables handle freezing better than fruit. I keep a regular supply of frozen spinach leaves,
broccoli and cauliflower.Their taste never seems to get compromised. I'll see how it goes with the fruit.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
4:28 pm edt
Smoking cigarettes is very
expensive for those who do. At almost $10 per pack, it comes out to about 50 cents per butt. It's easy to see why people don't
always toss them out before they go inside.
I saw that today at the local market. A guy had a fresh one going as he walked towards the entrance.
In one quick motion, he took the cigarette out of his mouth and extinguished it against his fingers. He placed it in his coat
I can understand
why he did it. He didn't want to throw 50 cents away. He acted like he does this on a regular basis.
Monday, March 18, 2013
9:19 pm edt
This could be the last snow
storm of the winter. We have heard all sorts of crazy snow levels predicted from 1-3 inches to 6-12. Nobody really knows at
I find it
quite remarkable that people vent their frustrations over one more winter srorm. Facebook has been inundated by people grousing
about the weather. Why do they do this? They should know about New England in the winter.
Spring is less than two days away. If it snows,
warm weather and rain will melt it quickly. Winter is over.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
America's Dark Side
11:59 am edt
How does government contain
the cost of social problems that start with great intentions, but spiral out of control in cost? New York City is facing this
with their homeless population.
city does the honorable thing by guaranteeing shelter to any individual or families that request it. The amount of homeless
in the city is staggering. There is really no accurate total other than the count in shelters. There
are thousands out on the street, vacant buildings and subway tunnels on any given night.
The shelter population is up to 50,000, including
21,000 children. Last year, the city spent $723 million to house them, with a projected cost of $819 million for 2013. All
of this money could be used to build permanent housing, but that's not how the system works. You could certainly construct
a lot of housing units for the $1.5 billion spent in the last two years.
Homelessness in America is a deep social problem. There is no easy solution for it. The cost
is enormous in terms of dollars and human suffering.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
The Freshest Nonsense
10:09 am edt
Businesses often make dubious
claims in their ads. Some of them can never be verified. Consumers are on their own when deciding what to believe.
I saw a good example of that today. There is a local
guy who has been selling fish from a truck in a convenience store parking lot. He has a big sign next
to his vehicle that says: "The freshest fish within 35 miles of Boston".
How can he say that? What is it based on? Is he comparing himself to other fish trucks or does he include retail outlets? There is no way to measure
He also had
a boastful claim about being inspected by the Board of Health. That's stating the obvious. I would never buy fish from a truck,
but I hope that the health inspectors would be checking this guy out for cleanliness and health code violations.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Back To The 1300's
8:13 pm edt
It's not that hard to stumble
across old burial grounds when doing construction. It happened in New York City recently during the building of high-rise
condos in lower Manhattan.
was very interesting to read about the recent discovery in the Farringdon section of London. A mass burial ground of up to
50,000 bodies was discovered during construction of the $24 billion Cross Rail Project.
What makes this so unique is that most
of the victims are likely from the Black plague back in 1348. The area had a reputation of being a burial ground. Construction
workers unearthed 13 skeletons less than eight feet below ground. They were sent for forensic study.
I hope great care is taken to preserve the dignity
of the bodies buried there. No indication was given about how many bodies might need to be moved in the future. It's probably
going to be a lot.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Stuck With The Cups
6:38 pm edt
Mayor Michael Bloomberg of
New York City has never been shy about steering his great city towards a "Nanny State", especially with his ban
on soft drinks in cups over 20 ounces.
Everything was in place for the new cup size until the Manhattan Supreme Court struck down Bloomberg's plan. The city
said it will appeal the decision.
fine for many and doesn't matter for some, but what about the places that ordered smaller cups for their customers? Nobody
thought about some of these businesses. One store owner said he will swallow the cost of 100,000 cups for $19,000 because
he had his store's name printed on them. He will go back to the 20 ounce cup size until he is told otherwise.
One of the problems with social legislation is the
hidden cost on businesses. Some can return their cups for bigger sizes, but some are stuck with them.
I still have issues with this ban. The Mayor is
certainly right about the dangers of drinks with too much sugar. The bigger issue becomes how much should government do to
prevent people from hurting their health. They are taking the freedom of choice away.
It's a very complex issue.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Too Old For Santa
3:38 pm edt
I read a nice story about
a soldier and how his deployment to Afghanistan has effected his family. He said his kids are handling it well, especially
his 11 year old. He said she has a firm grasp of the situation.
I beg to differ on that. He said his wife talked about their daughter asking Santa Claus
to watch over him while he was overseas. I respect the daughter asking Santa, but why is she still talking to him at 11 years
old? She is too old for that stuff.
father is going to a war zone. What does she think he is doing there? Kids are pampered so much these days that they lose
their concept of reality. I was ok with the story until I read she still believes in Santa Claus. There is a serious disconnect
here. At some point she needs to give it up.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Caffeine At Night
9:50 pm edt
We go through life not trying
to make the same mistakes. You live and you learn, but sometimes, you never really learn.
It's not a great decision when I drink tea in the
evening unless I want to stay up real late. I drank about 12 ounces last night at a comedy show and finally went to
bed at 3am. I should have stayed up longer because I couldn't fall asleep.
I usually drink only one cup of tea in the morning. My other caffeine
comes from about 8 oz. of Pepsi daily. If I go to a show, I have Diet Pepsi which seems to have less caffeine.
No matter what, I should try and stick with water.
It seems like I buy a diet soda just so I don't look cheap by not buying something at the bar.
When I buy my soda, I give at least
a 30% tip, but it ends up being only one or two dollars.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Weighing In On BMI
2:59 pm edt
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a
controversial measurement that factors in weight, height, age and sex to determine whether an individual has an issue with
a weight problem. We can see it with kids in school. Many show signs of being overweight at an early age. School districts
around the country have been monitoring the height and weight of kids by measuring their BMI. Parents are notified when there
might be a potential problem. Over 41% of the districts do this.
It's not without controversy becasue many parents don't feel it's a good indictor of someone
being overweight. I find it flawed because it factors in age as one of the criteria.
The bigger question is whether schools should even be involved in this practice. Should this
be an educational issue or one left for the family doctor? Many feel that kids get labeled as being
overweight once a letter is sent to the parent.
I think the practice has good intent, but like many other things, gets messed up along the way.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
12:48 pm edt
It was very unfortunate for
those on Plum Island who had their homes destroyed by the recent storm. They have been fighting a losing battle against nature
for the last several years. A barrier island is no match for the ravages of the ocean.
Residents saw homes fall into the water
over the last few years. They must have known their time was coming. It was inevitable. I hoped they removed personal and
family items from their homes before disaster struck.
Several more residences will be torn down before they are washed out to sea. It was foolish
to build there in the first place. I hope they don't allow any future construction. It's just another disaster waiting to
happen. We are starting to see this scenario repeat at Salisbury Beach.
It might take a year or 10 years,
but the ocean will eventually claim some of the homes along the shore.
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Playing Games With The Games
5:22 pm est
It was inevitable that there
would be some talk about Boston putting in a bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games. A private group has been formed to gage interest
in the endeavor. They face an uphill battle against the odds to submit an application.
Boston doesn't even qualify to be a host city because
they are 5,000 hotel rooms short of the 40,000 required. They also don't have a "first rate" public transportation
system unless you consider the MBTA's Green Line to be state of the art. They would need an Olympic Village to house 16,500
athletes and technical support for 15,000 media. We don't even want to talk about the lack of sporting venues.
It will cost untold billions to bring the Games
to Boston. I'm sure there will be some level of political support. Boston wants to think it can compete with the cities of
the world. However, I think the politicians will let this idea die a slow death.
I agree with them. I don't think this is a good idea unless it can be funded 100% privatively.
That won't ever happen.
Friday, March 8, 2013
Just Bring Your Knife
1:01 am est
I think the TSA is making
a huge mistake with their new regulations which allow airline passengers to carries knives less then 2.36 inches onto planes.
It's a recipe for disaster. Officials claim that TSA employees should focus their attention on looking for bomb making components
during their screening of passengers. Box cutter and razor blades would still be prohibited.
The changes have drawn a firestorm of protest from pilot and flight attendant groups. I support
them in the outrage. The American public has been lulled into an attitude of complacency since 9/11. I think we have been
letting our guard down because no disaster has happened.
People have complained about the long lines when trying to board planes, but they also want
to feel safe. They can't have it both ways in this day and age. It will be interesting to see if this rule gets changed. I
think it's a lame excuse to say that the change will allow compliance with International passenger screening standards.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Lighting Up The Bridge
5:15 pm est
The San Francisco-Oakland
Bay Bridge has always played second fiddle to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was considered an engineering marvel in it's time
and is bigger and carries more traffic than its famous mate.
It was in the news for its controversial LED lighting display. The bridge was bathed in 50,000
lights. It has gotten rave reviews and officials hope that it will stimulate tourism. It was funded with $8 million in private
donations to cover the costs for the next two years.
Some will complain about using this money to light up a bridge, but I feel otherwise. I think
it's a good idea to promote public art like this. The fact that it was paid for with private donations should silence any
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
No More Rolling Down
4:34 pm est
Technology and lifestyle changes
are making some expressions obsolete. When I was young, I heard the term "Saturday night bath" all the time. In
fact, I never lived in a house with a shower until I was 10.
I saw a reference to the dying expression "roll down the window". Kids are growing
up without ever hearing it or actually rolling down a car window. Just about every car has electric windows. I never had them
other day, someone was talking about using a dot matrix printer for various forms. I still have a small ream of paper from
one. Pretty soon, that stuff will be hard to find.
The hot technology of today becomes outdated very quickly. It's hard to keep up with it. I bought
my desktop computer back in 2006. I upgraded several aspects of it, but now it's quite old and should be replaced at some
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
2:09 pm est
I think kids have too many
supervised activities these days. They never play spontaneously. Everything is choreographed by the parents from swim lessons
to soccer and dancing. The list of activities goes on and on.
I saw a story the other day that was over the top. It was a rock wall climbing class for
five and six year olds. I've heard all of the stories about the benefits of group activities and so on. No kid makes a decision
to take climbing lessons. It's made by the parents.
Eventually, the kids will become bored and move onto something else. I think they have too
many options, but they don't do the choosing. The parents make all of the decisions. We have become such a society of "helicopter"
Monday, March 4, 2013
Tax Up In Smoke
7:15 pm est
New Hampshire is debating
whether to raise their cigarette tax by 30 cents per pack. It would reap millions for the state coffers. However, many are
questioning the wisdom of this. Stores along the Massachusetts border get a huge amount of business from residents looking
for cheap smokes. They don't want it to hurt sales.
As harmful as smoking might be, governments get money from taxes on them. If you eliminate cigarettes,
you lose a revenue stream. Some of that money could be saved in health care costs for smokers.
Bean counters are always looking at the bottom line.
Will a tax increase hurt sales? It a chance that New Hampshire might not be willing to take.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Beating The Odds
10:51 am est
We always hear stories about
people being at the wrong place at the wrong time. It can have dire consequences. I often wonder how people get to that point
to where fate crosses their path.
saw that with the man who was swallowed up by a sink hole in Florida. One moment he was in his bedroom and then the floor
gave out beneath him. The massive hole has made the house unstable. First responders have been unable to retrieve his body
due to the potential danger. The hole continues to get bigger.
Sink holes happen daily around the country. There is a small one in my neighborhood that
continues to cause a portion of the street to buckle and sink inward. It seems to be caused by deteriorating water and sewer
I hope they are
able to recover the man's body in Florida. That was a terrible way to die. You never know when something like this might
happen. The odds are great, but it happens.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Don't Tear Down That Wall
11:56 am est
I'm a big believer in historic
preservation. Once something is lost, it's gone forever. History needs to be preserved for future generations.
We are seeing that in Germany where there is controversy
about one of the last remaining sections of the Berlin Wall.
The barrier came down in 1989 after the fall of the Soviet Union. It stood as a symbol to
oppression and the world of Communism. Many people died trying to get their freedom to West Berlin. Parts of the wall are
in museums, including the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
A protest has broken out over a 3/4 mile section. A developer is trying to remove 19 concrete
slabs, each four feet wide, in order to build an access road for a housing development. All of the proper permits are in place.
There is a hard-core group
of citizens who want to preserve this symbol of the Cold War. I agree with their stance. As painful as it is for some, I think
this section should continue to stand for future generations to see. It's a part of German history that should not be forgotten.
Friday, March 1, 2013
Not Dogging It
1:18 am est
I'm not a big fan of the dog
run park planned for Boston Common. The proposal doesn't sound that good to me. It will be located near the bottom of Joy
St. which is a busy area of the park with many pedestrians.
To avoid excessive wear of the grass, the location will be rotated among a few other spots
in the park. Dogs will be off their leashes, but under the supervision of their owners. They will also be required to clean
up after them.
as I like dogs, I think this plan will probably fail. The Boston Common is a bad location for a dog
park. It's certainly convenient for a lot of dog owners, but the place is too busy.
I'm sure there will be complaints about dogs running wild and leaving their calling cards behind. The dog lobby has been able to push their agenda through. It looks like
this plan will get a shot. I don't think the rest of the public will embrace it.
It will be a great example of "I told you so".