Saturday, November 30, 2013
Glad To See Us
7:55 pm est
As the US Postal Service loses
billions, they are trying to redefine their mission. They still deliver snail mail, but they also do more package
hours are so important for any business. I was able to buy stamps today at a local branch before their 1pm closing.
At 5:30pm, I went to the main branch to drop
off a bunch of things. The lobby was open until 6, so it worked out. You can see the hamper that it falls into if you look
through the slot.
could hear workers out back. I wonder if they pick up this stuff and do something with it tonight. There is no doubt it gets
emptied, but moving it forward is another story.
When will the recipients get it? Most of them are local. The USPS has a total monopoly
on snail mail. If it gets there Tuesday, that's how it goes. They set the rules.
As I walked into the lobby, they had a new floor mat out for the winter that said "We
appreciate your business".
appreciate their comments, but it's not like we have a choice.
Friday, November 29, 2013
The Curse of Cursive
5:42 pm est
Cursive writing style isn't
taught much in schools these days. We had it all the time when I was a kid. I actually had nice penmanship at one time.
Today, I was sending some cards out and was reminded
how poorly I write in long hand. I tried to write slower, but it didn't help. I'm disappointed that I write
so poorly. I could work on it, but I'm not sure how much it would help.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
The Band Played On
11:45 am est
I never watch the coverage
of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. After today, I can see why. The UMass Marching Band was selected to take part. None
of the coverage was along the parade route.
Each group was given their time on the red carpet in front of Macy's. UMass did one song
at their appointed time of 11:24. That was it.
I put the parade on after I got back from my road race. I was doing things leading up to the appearance
by UMass. They had their couple of minutes before another group took their place.
It might be a long time before I watch the parade coverage again. I'm sure they did a great
job along the route.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Getting Credit For Bad Ideas
7:48 pm est
are not cheap to build. They need one locally for 1,000 students at a cost of $60.5 million. The state will pay 61% of the
cost and leave the local taxpayers on the hook for $24 million. It needs to get done one way or other.
The state school building program has very specific
guidelines on how the structures should be built. That didn't stop a local politician for advocating modular style construction.
His idea has merit, but isn't allowed by the program. The law won't be changing any time
soon. The politician got his face and quotes in the paper. He can always say that he was thinking outside the box, even
if it didn't have any positive results.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Down The Tube
1:58 pm est
I was surprised
to read about the plan to open the London subway system for 24 hours daily. Considering the size of London and the popularity
of The Tube, I assumed it ran all night. It must be awkward for tourists and locals to get around late at night.
They also want to modernize the system to accept
bank cards in lieu of tokens. Many think the Boston system is outdated because the trains don't run all night. I never
knew that Boston was in such elite company.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Stupid Pet Gifts
1:43 am est
at this time, we see stores flooded with all types of cheap holiday gifts. We never see this stuff any other time of the year.
Most of it is made in China. They must make it year round and keep it in warehouses.
There are all sorts of catalogues with strange gifts. I saw a gift guide in the New
York Post featuring a special collar for a dog that syncs to a smart-phone to track the quantity and quality of the dog's
gait. It costs $99.95.
I have no idea why someone would need to monitor
their dog's gait unless they were hurt. What difference does it make how many strides a dog takes?
People are bad enough with monitoring their
exercise regimes. They don't need to do it to dogs.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
What IsThe Real Count?
12:48 am est
I don't think there is an
accurate way of determining the amount of homeless people in America. The Department of Housing and Urban Development
announced that their annual census had counted 610,000 people, down from last year's total of 633,782.
This process has its limitations. It was done on
a night during the last week of January. The census counted people in 3,000 cities and counties. Two thirds of those
homeless were in shelters or transitional housing. Those were the easy ones to count.
rest were living under bridges, in cars or abandoned buildings. They only counted the ones they could find. I feel this number
should be much higher. Many of the homeless find ways to stay out of sight.
in the interest of politicians to keep the numbers down, but the problem is worse than the numbers reflect.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
6:35 pm est
Friday shopping frenzy has certainly impacted the way Thanksgiving is being celebrated. Thursday night store hours have become
part of the day.
this good or bad? Should government regulate the way the holiday is celebrated by prohibiting stores from opening? Massachusetts
laws don't allow it, but it's ok in New Hampshire.
It seems to be financially feasible for the major retailers to be open. I'm sure a lot of emloyees
don't like it, especially if they are forced to work the day.
Americans will spend a great deal of money over the holiday. Black Friday gets huge sales
figures, but it impacts other holiday shopping days. People can only shop so much.
This is a great example where the actions of the minority, impact all of us. The overall percentage
of Americans who shop on Thursday won't be that significant, but some stores will be open.
The media will hype it up.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Round Number Days
6:26 pm est
I always thought the assassination
of President Kennedy was the biggest news event in my life. After the events of 9/11, I added that date to the list.
It's interesting to see the attention the 50th anniversary
is getting. In recent years, Kennedy's shooting was buried deep in the newspaper and got scant attention on the nightly news
You would need
to be at least 55 or older to have any memory of that day. People grew up hearing about it.
Pearl Harbor Day still gets attention 72 years later. I'm sure it will be a big day on it
75th anniversary in 2016.
year will be Kennedy's 51st anniversary. The story will get buried again.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
12:44 pm est
The federal government doesn't
do a very good job in tracking the 2.5 million deaths in America each year. In the past few years, Social Security has
paid $133 million to deceased beneficiaries. Another $400 million was paid to federal retirees in error.
It gets worse in other areas. Medicare paid $23
million for services provided to deceased patients. They also spent $8.2 million on equipment prescribed by doctors who had
been deceased for more than one year.
There is an obvious gap about reporting deaths.
Most cases rely on the family to provide the information. Many times, there is a significant delay or no action taken.
The problem has no easy solution. You could create another layer of bureaucracy to track
deaths, but that would have many up in arms. At best, the government should work to reduce the amount paid. It will
never be perfect.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The Dollar Card
11:29 am est
It was a good idea to force
New York City transit riders to purchase a MetroCard for $1. The thought was to elimintae expired cards that litter subway
stations. They ended up printing 60 million fewer cards this year.
It was also a revenue raiser as many riders end up leaving money on their card at the end of the
year. This year, MTA riders will leave $52 million on the cards. I left 45 cents on my card during my most recent trip. It
starts to add up.
a great way for the system to make money without providing any service. No matter what happens, the MTA will continue to have
massive operating deficits.
No Cigs For Them
11:54 pm est
In the ever growing Nanny State
of New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been successful in his attempt to limit cigarette sales to those over
21 years of age.
might be seen as rather Drconian, but Bloomberg has been able to pass his social legislation.
It doesn't make any sense to prohibit sales of cigarettes to those under 21.
Monday, November 18, 2013
A November Tradition
11:58 am est
The last time I had a flu
shot was in 1981. I ended up getting very sick. It was about two weeks after running the New York City Marathon. I decided
to take my chances after that.
In the past,
I have developed flu-like symptoms a week or two after the race. I thought I was in the clear, but I got a very bad sore throat
on Saturday night. It feels better now, but I have a very stuffy head and congestion in my chest. Is this the flu or
get a kick out of stories about the flu and the numbers they come up with. It only gets reported if you see a doctor.
So far, I'm flying under the radar.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
1:24 pm est
I'm a big supporter of public
works projects that improve the infrastructure. However, I'm opposed to using any taxpayer money to build sporting venues.
The recent stadium debacle in Atlanta should serve notice
to those in Boston who are giddy about a possible bid for the 2024 Olympics.
Atlanta built a 85,000 seat stadium to host the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Games and serve as
a venue for track and field. It was done at a cost of $207 million. An additional $209 million was spent after the Games
to retrofit the venue for use by the Atlanta Braves baseball team. Taxpayers were on the hook for $39 million of that
week, we heard of a plan for the team to move to a new $672 million stadium in Cobb County. Taxpayers will be picking up half of
the cost. The vacant Turner Field will be torn down and replaced by affordable housing.
I appalud the move to build housing, but it was a complete
waste of money to build a stadium, only to tear it down 17 years later.
I'll never understand the big deal bout getting the Olympics. Why spend all of the money on
venues only to tear them down after?
Saturday, November 16, 2013
No Sonic Boom
7:41 pm est
I finally stopped at the Sonic
restaurant on Route 1 in Peabody. There was so much hype when it opened, with long lines of cars waiting to get in at all
I went to the
drive-thru. I wasn't impressed with their menu. The combo meals didn't interest me. It isn't the healthiest food out there.
I ended up with a double cheeseburger. I peeled away as
much cheese as possible. It was ok, but nothing special. I'm in no hurry to get back there.
They must be doing something right because they are very
Friday, November 15, 2013
Don't Wait For A Ride
1:22 pm est
Politicians can never let
go of a bad idea. They often pursue it because it keeps them in the public spotlight and makes them look good.
It's easy for anyone to say that the MBTA should expand
its service hours. The system shuts down at 1AM, leaving people on their own for finding transportation. It hinders
Boston from becoming a 24 hour city.
Everyone wants late night service, but funding is another issue. It's totally absurd to think that the
T could get involved in a public-private sector funding of it.
The T has tried in the past to expand service from 1-2:30 AM on weekends. Ridership was never big
enough to justify the annual overtime costs of around $2 million. It's a small amount for an agency that has a regular annual
operating deficit of a few hundred million dollars.
This will probably be an issue ten years from now and never get resolved.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Rolling The Dice
12:02 pm est
The voters in East Boston
voted down a casino proposal for Suffolk Downs. Will the Boston area one end up in Everett?
I support the casino endeavor, but with reservations.
I don't think the state can support three of them as well as a slots parlor. The winning communities are the ones that voted
are seeing the possibility of an Indian casino on Martha's Vineyard. Is this a good idea? It would change the island forever.
Too many states and municipalities are kidding themselves
about the benefits of hosting a casino. I predict that one of them will fail in Massachusetts within five years of their debut. They
will never meet the financial expectations.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Some Like It Raw
12:44 am est
I don't understand the big
craze about drinking raw milk from a cow. It's legal to buy in New Hampshire and quite popular.
It bypasses the pasteurization process which is critical
to preventing e-coli bacteria from developing. It has been a staple of milk processing since it was introduced in the
it's purer than the porcessed stuff. I think people carry that point to the extreme. I would never drink it.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
6:11 pm est
There is a first time for
everything. Today, I bought my first watermelon. It was a seedless quarter of one from Mexico.
I only had it a few times in the past. I like the seedless
type better. It's also less messy. It was tasty, but I'm not sure if I would consider it one of my favorite fruits.
It's always a challenge to eat enough fruit. Every bit counts.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Losers Are Winners
10:51 am est
The proposal for Boston to
bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics is back in the news. A group of prominent business people is looking at the feasibility of
being the host city.
doesn't matter that Boston has so many needs to deal with before they can even try to apply for the Games. The subway would
need to be rebuilt. There is no 80,000 seat stadium, aquatics center or housing for the 15,000 athletes.
The necessary infrastructure improvements would be
very costly and daunting. Would the city and region ever recover the financial investment?
I think the group is being too idealistic. One person mentioned
building the stadium and then down-sizing it. It could be done, but at a huge cost. Where will the housing be built?
The MBTA subway system is the oldest in the country. The
Green Line is a complete joke. The T can't even order replacement cars timely.
The committee is wasting their time. There is too much to do before they can submit a bid. New York
City had a very competitive proposal and many things already in place for the 2012 Games, but they were bypassed.
The winning cities are the ones that don't get selected.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Stick To The Trash
1:31 am est
I try to use sun screen this
time of the year. It's hard to remember with the weather getting colder. We always think of it as being used only in the summer.
I used some yesterday on my face from a speed stick . It was very greasy. I ended up washing my face after I got back from running.
I used it previously with the same result. This time, I
did something different. I took the two speed sticks I had and tossed them into the trash. The stuff was given to me at a
future, I'll stick to the lotions which go on a lot easier and don't leave a mess on my skin.
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Not The Tallest
3:19 pm est
I was recently at the Ground
Zero Memorial in New York City. It was very impressive as were the structures being built there.
The World Trade Center tower is rising from the ashes of
9/11 and will be a magnificant builing, but will it be the nation's tallest?
A group of architects representing the Council On Tall Buildings
and Urban Habitat has been meeting in Chicago to determine the true height of 1WTC. The floors go to a height of 1,368
feet. The building is capped with a controversial 408 foot antenna, bringing the height to 1,776 feet.
However, the antenna doesn't meet the definition of a decorative
spire which would be counted in the overall height. The antenna was redesigned during the building process to allow workers
access to it. As a result, it is considered just another antenna and not allowed to be counted in the overall height.
Much is at stake, including bragging rights to the tallest
building in the Western Hemisphere. The former Sears Tower in Chicago stands to lose its title if the antenna height is counted.
I don't think the antenna should be included. As a result,
1WTC will be the second tallest building. It seems like every skyscraper does it to gain more height, including
the Empire State Building.
Friday, November 8, 2013
The Quinannual Inspection
10:41 am est
During my trips to New York
City, I always wondered why so many buildings had scaffolding erected at their entrance.
The mystery was finally solved for me at the hotel I was
staying in. Each guest room had a note from the staff informing them that the structure was undergoing a routine facade
inspection. The city requires these inspections every five years for buildings over six storeys that contain brick or stone.
It makes a lot of sense now. It just seems to take
a long time for the inspection.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
4:54 pm est
I don't think there is a valid
method for measuring a person's memory. Testing instruments have been developed over the years, but memory can be very
amazed at restaurant workers who can remember orders without writing them down. When I was in NYC, I saw it first hand at
a small cafe. One guy took the order and gave it verbally to the guy working the grill. The place was very
busy, but they got all the orders correct. They only needed to hear it said once.
How good is their memory in other areas of their life? That
is the part that can never be measured.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Time For Change
12:25 pm est
I like to keep track of various
things, including how long my razor blades last. I can usually get at least five months of use before I need to change.
The last couple of weeks gave me an indication that my blade
was near the end. I could feel it in the quality of the shave.
I finally changed it today after almost six months, missing it by three days. My longest use
was six months and seven days. The clock is now ticking.
This blade should take me to the end of April or into May. After that, there are 11 more blades to
use. I should be all set for awhile.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
The Train Pulls Out
12:00 pm est
I'm writing this as I travel on a Metro North train from Grand Central to Stamford Connecticut. I spent
the last five days in NYC for the marathon, a total of 120 hours. A lot happened in that time. It went by fast. Now, it's
just a memory.
We look to the future knowing it will soon be the past. All we can hope for are
good memories and lessons learned. I will always remember this trip. There were so many special moments. The race went so
well. It's all history. Looking forward to next year.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Doing The Layers
4:17 pm est
The weather during my time in NYC has varied. All of the days have been either sunny or partly cloudy.
The temperature for the first three days was in the 60's. A light jacket was all that was needed.
was around 50 degrees for the marathon and windy. Once I finished the race, it dropped to 40. I was really cold walking back
to the hotel in spite of having several layers on. When I went out last night, I couldn't get warm enough.
same thing happened today. I finally had to come back to my room to get a few more layers. I don't regret not bringing my
winter jacket. It wasn't needed the first few days.
put on a few more tops and go out again. My neck was cold in spite of having a fleece jacket with a turtle neck. It felt like
February today. It's only going to get colder in the coming weeks.
Winter is definitely on
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Washing It Away
10:25 pm est
The marathon went very well for me. I ran my fastest time in the last six years. The weather was perfect,
being windy and cool. I had many special moments in the race.
One of my best feelings was taking
a shower when I got back to my hotel. I was so dirty from sweating and just being on the streets of New York.
shower feels good at any time.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
The Day Before
1:14 am edt
It's now the day before the New York City Marathon. After tomorrow, it's over for another year. How
will the race play out? That is the big mystery. You never know how it will end. I'm looking forward to it one more time.