Saturday, August 31, 2013
11:16 am edt
Tomorrow is September 1st.
There are still four months left to the year, but that has not stopped charities from sending me five calendars already. They
ended up being recycled with my newspapers. Last year, I got about 25 before it was over.
Yesterday, I received my first holiday cards and address labels. It's way too early for this
stuff, but you can't convince the charities. There is no way I could ever put a stop to this. You would think that they would
take my name off their mailing list, but that won't happen.
Charities spend way too much money trying to raise funds. It's good for job security for
their employees. I'm sure the executives get compensated very well. What a racket.
Friday, August 30, 2013
11:55 pm edt
It's the end of August and
the temperature is cooler as it should be. The warm days are still ahead, but they will be far and few.
Autumn is here one way or the other. Nobody likes
the rushing of the seasons, but it gets like that around here.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Not Ready To Raise A Toast
1:33 pm edt
There seems to be a "National
Day of" for almost anything. I never would have known it was "National Toasted Marshmallow Day" unless I saw
it on Facebook. No doubt, it was the marshmallow industry that promoted it.
I have never been a fan of marshmallows and only had a few in my lifetime. I know I had a
toasted one, but can't remember when. It didn't leave a big impression on me.
Another thing I will probably never have is a roasted chestnut. I made it almost 60 years
without one. There is no point in having one now.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Hold The Balloons
4:40 pm edt
Kids are pampered and spoiled
to no end. They are never allowed to make their own decisions or to experience any type of failure.
The first day of school shows how bad the problem
is. No kid can go to school on their own. They must be accompanied by a parent who dotes over them. It creates a nightmare
for teachers and administrators, but they also buy into it.
A local vocational school had teachers outside the school greeting kids as their buses arrived.
That was nice, but did they really need to clap for the students? Why do kids need applause for showing up to school?
The most outrageous aspect was the balloons. I could
understand having them for first graders, but not in high school.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
12:15 pm edt
The US government stopped
issuing Silver Certificates as currency in 1964 when they changed to Federal Reserve Notes. The former bills indicated that
they were payable to the bearer in silver on demand. I don't have any plans to go to a bank and make such a request. Instead,
I'll keep it.
has this dollar been all of these years? It's a note from the 1935 series. It circulated for 29 years before the Federal Reserve
Notes. The average dollar bill is replaced after a few years.
They have been extinct for 49 years. All of a sudden, it showed up in my change. When was
it reintroduced to the money flow? Was it stuffed in a mattress all these years?
The bill is extremely wrinkled and in poor condition. I picked it out right away in my change.
How many hands did it pass through before I got it? We will never know.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Open On Sunday
6:48 pm edt
A library is a very critical
piece of any community. Some cities and towns neglect their programs at the expense of the public.
The local library stopped Sunday hours ten years
ago because of budget problems. The city wanted to cut more time, but the state threatened to withhold funding. The library
just meets the bare minimum for hours with 63 spread over six days. Now, they are finally ready to reopen from 1-5pm.
Funding for salaries will come from a state grant.
Studies have shown that Sunday is one of the busiest days of the week for libraries.
It's a shame that the city had to cry poverty over such a vital aspect of the community.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Life At The 38th
5:36 am edt
The DMZ between North and
South Korea is one of the most fortified places in the world. The 2.5 mile wide strip runs 148 miles near the 38th parallel.
It's been that way since the 1953 truce that stopped the fighting. They have a fragile cease-fire that has been effect for
over 60 years.
lives in the Zone. However, it has an abundance of rare plants and wildlife. In fact, there are numerous species native to
Asia that only survive there. They are not seen any place else.
It's very ironic that such a volatile and fragile place could support endangered species,
but that's how it is there.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Blaming The Father
6:41 am edt
I don't blame kids for the
action of their parents. They often do things because adults want it that way.
The other day, there was a devastating fire at a church in Boston. The structure was built
in the early 1800's and was a vibrant part of the community. Unfortunately, the fire may have totally destroyed the church.
The article was filled with the sad comments from
parishioners about their loss. I'll never understand why the newspaper decided to print a photo of a smiling seven year old
boy watching the fire with his father. He was decked out in a miniature firefighter's raincoat and little helmet.
I'm sure his father thought it was a cute thing
to do. Maybe the boy will aspire to become a firefighter someday and save a life. I just thought it was wrong to show such
a happy kid watching a fire. He probably doesn't understand the impact of such a horrible event.
His father should have known he was at a tragedy
and not some amusement park.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Going To The Dogs
4:27 pm edt
When we look at Detroit, we
are seeing the demise of a great American city. Its problems have been well chronicled between poverty, unemployment and abandoned
buildings. In fact, there are over 70,000 structures that have been left to decay and become the target of arson. Police and
fire responses are severely impacted.
the city is faced with a problem of over 50,000 dogs roaming the streets, left there by their owners. Some travel in packs
and become vicious towards any type of human contact. It's a problem that has gotten completely out of hand and with no solution
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Not Lifting A Glass
11:10 am edt
Autumn is just around the
corner. The leaves will start to change their color soon. Daylight will continue to get shorter.
I saw a posting on Facebook related to a "bucket
list" for things to do during autumn. One thing that caught my eye was "drinking hot apple cider". That's one
thing I have no intention of doing.
never drink apple juice or cider. It has a way of passing through me. Years ago, I drank it to help with a hangover and met
with disastrous results. That was my last glass of apple juice or cider. It's been 40 years, but I won't be lifting a glass
at any point soon.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Pull The Plug
12:08 pm edt
ESPN does a great injustice
by televising the Little League World Series. They have no plans to stop doing it because it's popular and gets good ratings.
However, I feel it shows everything that is wrong
with youth sports. This year, the kids are wearing a shoulder patch that says: "I don't cheat". This is in reference
to the PED scandal surrounding baseball.
These kids had no choice in wearing the emblem. The decision was made by someone who thought it would be cute to send a message
to the public.
are put into organized activities too early. It's often a social outlet for the parents. Kids are made to believe that they
are special and develop a sense of entitlement. There are too many traveling teams and all-star camps. It has gotten so far
out of hand.
sports have destroyed the ability of children to play spontaneously. Everything is calculated and measured because parents
think their child will get a athletic scholarship or make the Olympics.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Telling The People Lies
11:29 am edt
A successful politician must
say what people want to hear and believe some of their own lies. One of the candidates for Mayor of Boston is a great example.
Earlier this week, he used public transportation
in Boston to navigate his way to different events. He got first-hand experience of how difficult it is for many people to
get around the city. I thought he scored some points doing this.
However, he started to come up with some crazy statements. I think many people support the
MBTA bringing back late night service. The subway and buses shut down too early. Funding has alway been an issue since the
agency runs on a deficit. He suggested that private organizations could finance the service or the city might pay the bill.
This is so ludicrous. He has a better chance of being elected than this happening.
He also wants to greatly expand the bike lanes and bike sharing system which has a loyal
following, but not the support of the majority. Bikes and cars are not the best combination on the streets of Boston.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
The Whine of Winners
2:15 pm edt
We live in a society where
people blame others for almost anything. They are the first to whine when things don't go their way.
I read a story about a contestant on the television
show "The Price Is Right" who complained about having to pay taxes on the prizes she won. What did she expect? People
on the show must sign forms acknowledging their awareness of state and federal tax liabilities.
This reminds me of the time when Oprah Winfrey gave
new cars to everyone in the studio audience. People were liable for federal taxes based on the the value of the car. In the
end, the cars were never really free. They got a really good deal on them, but some people still complained.
There are those people who complain about the tax
bite on lottery winings. You can't please them.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Two Things To Pickup
7:06 pm edt
I picked up two things today
that I always make an effort for. The first was a nail in the road which I saw while I was running.
Whenever I see a nail or screw, I either stop to
pick it up or I kick it further into the gutter or storm drain. It might save someone from getting a flat tire.
I also picked up a penny on the ground. I will never
walk by them, as long as it's safe to pick them up. Pennies on the ground are free money. They might be worth only one cent,
but I will never reach a point in my life where I'm rich enough to walk by free money.
Friday, August 16, 2013
To Wear Or Not To Wear
12:58 pm edt
Motorcycles are a symbol of
the free spirit in America. I had one ride in my life when I was 17 and never got on again. I didn't enjoy being a passenger.
There is no consistent helmet law across the country.
It's left up to the individual states. Should this be decided on the federal level? When we leave things up to the states,
we end up with different sets of rules.
the government make riders wear a helmet or is there freedom of choice? What is the role in government in protecting people
recently repealed their 40 year old law requiring helmets. Injury claims have increased 34% since then according to the insurance
industry. Is that a coincidence? Is it time for the government to intervene?
Thursday, August 15, 2013
A Weak Stand
12:17 am edt
When Mayor Thomas Menino decided
not to run for re-election in Boston, it opened the floodgates for candidates. Twelve of them will appear on the ballot for
the primary election in September.
What motivated them to run? Do they all think they have a serious chance at winning? I don't think so.
Maybe running for mayor is on the "bucket list"
for some. It's a good way to get your fifteen minutes of fame. I have followed the candidates to a degree. Some of them come
up with some very dumb statements.
hopeful wants to have companies in Boston give preference to local residents when they hire. This is a fine and noble idea,
but it's nothing but pandering to the general public.
Boston is a very expensive city to live in. Many people prefer to live in the suburbs. Companies
need to get their workforce from wherever they can. Hiring Boston residents sounds nice, but it's only wishful thinking. This
candidate needs to come up with something better. It's not an original idea.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
A Cheap Call
3:45 pm edt
Many people feel that prison
inmates should not have basic rights. They would like to see them go back to the days of breaking rocks and chain gangs.
The Federal Communication Commission has issued
a ruling that was long overdue and will have a huge impact on inmates.
Private companies have been providing long distance phone service in prisons. They have
charged inmates a fee ranging from 50 cents to $3.95 just to place a call. They are then charged 5-89 cents per minute. It's
a form of price gouging on a group with not many alternatives or advocates.
The FCC has placed a cap of 21 cents per minute on debit or prepaid cards and 25 cents on
collect calls. This issue has flown under the radar for a long time.
People have a vast range of opinion on inmates. However, correctional institutions should
not allow price gouging by private companies.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
No Ivory Tower
8:22 pm edt
The cell phones of today will
be obsolete in a few years. It doesn't take long. My Droid of 3.5 years is so old and behind the times.
You can only buy a phone or computer for today.
My desktop is seven years old and running from a DSL line.
A story in the local paper talked about the problem of cell phone access in Southern New
Hampshire. There are many dead spots in the area. Towns are trying to upgrade their cell phone towers. It's very controversial,
but people want heir access.
America is becoming smaller as it meets up with technology and demand.
Monday, August 12, 2013
The Ice Is Not Melting
9:48 pm edt
I thought it would be a good
idea to freeze some water bottles and bring them to training camp for the New England Patriots earlier today. The water froze
very solid into a great block of ice in each bottle.
It took a long time for them to defrost. I exposed them to the 85 degree temperature, but
it didn't make a big difference.
ice melted so slowly in the bottles. It was hard to get a big drink, especially when I was eating my sandwich.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
A Slice From Ray's
1:04 am edt
I'll never understand how
some polls come up with their results. TripAdvisor, the travel mega-site, ranked the top five cities in America for their
pizza. Any result that doesn't have New York City as number one is invalid.
Not only did they rate the Big Apple 4th, they chose San Diego as number one. Even more absurd
was Las Vegas as #2. Boston was #3, but I've never been overwhelmed with slices there. Seattle rounds out the top five. I
always thought their claim to fame was coffee. They didn't have Chicago in that group. How could they neglect the home of
who has ever had a slice of Famous Original Ray's Pizza from one of their many shops in Manhattan doesn't know what they are
missing. There are so many things to love about New York City. A slice from Ray's is on the list.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Sharks On The Train
4:23 pm edt
on the Discovery Channel has been a big hit. Whoever thought of this program had a great idea. It gets good ratings and has
created a cult-like following.
took it to a new level in New York City when they placed a dead dogfish shark on the floor of a N train from Coney Island.
It looked like a publicity stunt in conjunction with Shark Week, but it was put on the train by someone who found the fish
on the beach.
had its moment of attention. People know more about them because of that.
Friday, August 9, 2013
Best By Default
10:46 am edt
The local newspaper has an
annual reader's poll to choose the area favorites for everything from ice cream to nail salons. I find these polls to be very
biased and filled with self-promotion. Some businesses even beg for votes on Facebook or other social media.
The paper takes the easy way out by having three
winners in each category. That way nobody has their feelings hurt. Some categories don't even have three choices. There is
only one local bike shop and two shoe stores. They win by default.
They also have an ulterior motive. They publish a 32 page section with the results. Most
of the space is taken up by ads from the winners who feel they should thank the public for their vote.
It's a great move by the paper. They create some
buzz with the contest. People go out and buy the edition to see the results. They also make a bundle of money selling ads.
It will be done all over again next year.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
A Useless Discussion
5:20 pm edt
People have the right to be
heard at town meetings and before the city council. It's the backbone of democracy. That doesn't mean that everyone has a
logical argument and point to make. A great deal of time is often wasted listening to frivolous discussions.
A local resident asked to be heard regarding the
issue of jaywalking. This problem has been around forever and will never be resolved. Massachusetts has a law on the books
that allows for a $1 fine for first and second offenses. It's not a big deterrent.
The resident suggested that police be more vigilant of the problem. They can do that, but
it will never happen. People take a risk when they jaywalk. It doesn't always work out for the pedestrian or driver. People
are struck and injured. There are some fatalities.
I'm sure the resident felt better after making their point, but in the end, nothing will change. The
council meeting also got longer because they had to hear from the person.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
There Are Stupid Questions
5:21 pm edt
It never ceases to amaze me
what people don't know about events in the world or some of the basics about government. We were all taught civics in school
when we were younger, but it didn't register with many people.
It didn't surprise me to hear the news story regarding a high profile murder and racketeering
case in Boston. The jury has been deliberating and sent a question to the judge asking whether their verdict needed to be
unanimous for each of the racketeering charges.
Having served on a jury, this really puzzled me. The judge would have given the jury very
specific instructions about being unanimous. It's one of the basic points in a criminal trial. Were people sleeping during
the instructions or just out of it?
I served on a jury, a couple of jurors wanted to have the judge come into our room during deliberations in order to ask him
questions. One juror accused me of being "Mr. Lawyer" when I said that would never happen.
I also explained reasonable doubt to some of the
other jurors, but it didn't do any good. They insisted on asking the judge for clarification. I told them that the judge would
read us the same instructions that he did earlier. When we went back into the courtroom, we heard the same instructions.
Some people are so ignorant of the world around
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Cutting Down Trees To Save Them
5:25 pm edt
I think I have lost the battle
to junk mail. It never seems to end no matter what I do. I'm one step away from writing "refused" on the stuff,
but I don't think it will solve the problem.
Today, I received a survey from an environmental group about trees. They send it to me every few months.
I refuse to fill it out because it will open the floodgates to more surveys.
I love trees and want to save them. It's too bad they need to cut them down to make paper
and send out surveys. It seems we are going around in a circle on this one.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Getting Blamed For Picking It Up
5:44 pm edt
Congress has gone on vacation.
Many think that they can't do any more damage, but they will. It comes naturally for them.
Their lack of action on the sequestration has impacted
the work done by the State Department Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.
This agency has provided $2 billion in funding to ninety countries around the world since
1993 to remove unexploded bombs and land mines. Their FY 2013 funding of $150 million is running out and work will be severely
impacted in 40 countries where the agency provides assistance.
The impact will be enormous. It's possible that someone could get get killed by a bomb or
land mine in the impacted countries. We will never really know.
The work needs to continue, but it doesn't really matter to Congress. They have other things
to do while on vacation. They can't be bothered with worrying about some child picking up explosive ordinance and being killed.
Those kids will never be able to vote for them. They don't live in their Congressional district.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
The Lamest Holiday
12:19 pm edt
Politicians constantly pander
to the voting public to gain their favor. They pass bills that are only meant to get votes. I feel that way about the Massachusetts
Sales Tax Holiday scheduled to take place on August 10th and 11th.
Businesses favor it because they feel it helps with their sales on goods under $2,500. The
public likes it because they can wait before buying a big ticket item.
Does it really help? The state loses $23 million in revenue from waiving the 6.25% sales
tax. Is it the responsibility of government to help businesses lower their inventories? It's only a one time deal. Businesses
still need to collect the tax on the other 363 days.
People argue that they can go to New Hampshire to buy products without paying a sales tax.
They can also get cheaper cigarettes and liquor. However, in some instances, the traveling public must pay a toll to travel
on New Hampshire roads in order to get there. That's another form of taxation.
Saturday, August 3, 2013
Not In This World
2:08 pm edt
Newspapers are filled with
reporting errors that never get caught. I saw one today and wondered if it will ever get a correction. A local sports writer
was talking about the Cape Verde Islands, a nation located 350 miles off the west coast of Africa. They are north of the Equator,
between 14 and 16 degrees of latitude.
writer made a terrible mistake by saying they were 350 miles east of Africa. That was his first error. To make matters worse,
he had a picture which included the reference of "Cape Verde, South Africa". That doesn't make any sense.
Many people claim ignorance to geography. I find
no excuse for it. Both the writer and copy editor should be called out for such an egregious error. This is just poor reporting.
I expected more from the paper's writer. I doubt if it will be corrected.
Friday, August 2, 2013
The End of the Tube
11:44 pm edt
We live in a wasteful society.
People throw many things away that could be used by others. We waste too much food. I try to do my part in my own little world.
Sometimes, we can go to the extreme.
always try to squeeze the very last bit of toothpaste from the tube. The one I'm using now would have been thrown out by most
people, but not by me. I cut the end of it off a few days ago to scoop out the remaining paste. I'm now into the third day.
It looks like the end will come in a couple more
days. I'm ok with that. There will be nothing else left in the tube.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Motor City Madness
10:54 am edt
It was not a big surprise
when the city of Detroit declared bankruptcy. The municipality had been teetering on the edge for years. It was only a matter
of time. The move will have huge implications for years to come, especially for its residents and pension recipients.
Detroit is a frightening picture of abandoned homes
and services not provided. The police take up to one hour to respond to calls. Over 40% of the street lights have been turned
off in a cost cutting move. The federal government has made no effort to extend a helping hand.
This has not stopped the state legislature from
providing up to $450 million in long term construction bonds to build a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL. It's
a very controversial move in a desperate city.
Another $200 million in private money will fund a shopping and entertainment complex. Economists say
its vital to the life of the downtown and will provide desperately needed jobs. They are right on the job aspect, but they
will be low paying service ones after the construction is completed.
Too many cities and states have been held hostage by professional sports teams who threaten
to move unless a new or improved arena/stadium is built.
Seattle and New Jersey are still paying for publicly funded stadiums that were built in
the last 30 years, but have been torn down because the teams wanted something better.
The money for the arena could go towards schools or providing city services. However, that
won't happen. It will only get worse for the residents who have no choice but to live there.