Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm in the wrong business

Wow, the Christian Science Monitor is going weekly ... or so says the stuff that runs along the bottom of the screen that I don't usually read because it's distracting

I'm watching "The View"

Sorry, I'm in the mode of Twitter and Facebook, with their constant question of "What are you doing?"

Some people actually do say what they're doing - when in reality what they are doing is typing on the computer. Kudos go to those who admit what they're doing is sitting there, at the computer!

Fortunately for me, I have a laptop and I can multi-task. So I'm typing and listening, although as soon as that Hasselbeck woman starts spouting, I'm outie.

I'm outie!

Back to MSNBC - although soon I'll switch over to some version of Law & Order that is shown all day on TNT.

So now you know what I'm doing. Not anything very productive.

Information overload

So I've been so overloaded about this election that I'm not only (slightly) depressed, but I've started packing my bags.

Just kidding.

With this new information age, every word that a candidate makes is scrutinized and analyzed, then some pundit (or "pundint," as McCain says) comes along and makes some pronouncement ... and on and on it goes, all day.

For example, how do I know that McCain mis-pronounces it "pundint?" Because I hear the same stump speech 2-3 times a day. It's an endless loop of Palin, McCain, Obama - with the occasional Biden thrown in, just in case he says something they can say is silly.

To be fair, Lieberman said the same thing in June about the new president being tested. But hardly anyone mentions that. Even on MSNBC, where both Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow have mentioned it more than once, the anchors ignore it.


As I said before, it's all a game. And the public are the pawns. I'm moving one square to the right, thank you.

I did find interesting the press on Sarah Palin being a "whack job." Only because it shows how far we've all fallen with the anonymous slams.

Seabrook siren test

I was going to write about this, but then I got all involved in being depressed (slightly), so this story in the daily gave me the impetus to proceed!

SEABROOK — There were no reports of whales jumping from the ocean or spooked animals running downtown in the wake of the first regionwide Seabrook Station siren test. In fact, many local residents are saying the drill sirens were not even loud enough to hear from their homes.
Hee hee ... a previous story had predicted whale and other animal extreme reactions to the test.

I was at The Tannery Mall when the first regional siren test of the Seabrook nuke plant went off last Saturday. I heard it ... and so did at least one other person who had no clue what it was and kind of freaked out in the parking lot.

I went into a building and then into the Nutcracker Bakery - and no longer was it audible.

"Some siren," I thought.

So it's good to know others also thought it was less than effective.

"All I could hear was a very far away faint whistle," Lynette Leka of Pine Island in Old Newbury said. "I wouldn't hear it at all if I were running the vacuum or mowing the lawn."

Leka noted while growing up in the Midwest, she would hear the tornado warning sirens, which she said "blew her socks off." She said there was no way to miss the tornado sirens that were numerous on streets in her hometown.
I've got to agree. Those tornado sirens were LOUD (civil defense, man).

But does it matter? I don't even know what to do if there is an accident at the plant.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Landfill meeting

Sorry, folks, I did not go to the meeting! I got a report (as did others) that the mayor presented a draft agreement (with New Ventures) to the City Council.

The agreement is 7 pages long, so if you would like a copy, email me and I'll send it along!

Basically, it says that NV releases the city (and all boards, officials, etc.) from all claims, demands, notices, actions, suits and causes of action for any and all response costs under General Laws, Chapter 21E ... regarding deposits made at the landfill regardless of date or origin of materials.

Current landfill owner will maintain the landfill for 1 year after closure and then hand it over to the city for maintenance.

NV shall grant an easement to the city for its use of a portion of the landfill for wireless telecommunications and alternative energy activity, such as a wind turbine it seems. This "portion" would be in the form of a pad or platform. NV will contribute to the construction.

People have already started to complain about this, since a wind turbine has to be anchored in the ground ... which in this case might involve penetrating the membrane that caps the dump.

They get 35 more trucks per day?? (Excluding trucks carrying construction & demolition materials.) For the purpose of closing and capping the landfill.

This is only part of the agreement, but it looks like these are the more salient points.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mad Men (and women)

I've been turned on to AMC's dramatic series "Mad Men." Thanks, Jennifer!

So I was catching up with the series via On Demand and recaps on Television Without Pity (great for this kind of situation).

Season 2, episode 8 - called "Women on the Verge of Kicking Some Ass" on TWOP or "A Night To Remember" according to AMC - we've got a female office manager (Joan) filling in in an unfunded executive position at an ad agency.

As was clearly built up to in season 1 and season 2 prior to this episode, she performs in an outstanding manner. The ad agency gets all kinds of accolades. The inevitable happens ... the position gets funded ... I'll let TWOP's recapper, "Couch Baron," explain since he does it much better than could I:

Harry introduces Joan to "Dan," and says he's going to be in charge of Broadcast Operations. Joan's face freezes: "Excuse me?" Oblivious to the perfect storm that's manifesting right before him, Harry tells her that he really appreciates her having filled in, and asks if she can train Dan right then and there.
This series takes place in 1962, or thereabouts. What was so hilarious (not) to me is that this - or something of the same ilk - happened to me ... only in, like, 2002.

Yes, as hard as it is to believe, I one day came into the office I had been running efficiently to find a new guy there, who was introduced to me as the "Chief Administrative Officer." And since I did payroll, I knew he was being paid twice as much as was I.

Heh. I had to prop him up ... How far we've come, huh? And by "we," I mean both sexes.

It's a great series, though ... engrossing and disturbing. I didn't realize so many people smoked in the early 60s, but then I remembered both my parents smoked (although I don't remember that much alcohol consumption).

It's also cool to see dresses like the ones my mother used to wear.

Check it out, if you haven't already.

Question 1

Check out City Councillor Ed Cameron's blog, in which he posts about Question 1 (eliminating the state income tax).

Ed points to this editorial in today's New York Times. This is the opening paragraph of the opinion:

Next month, voters in Massachusetts will face a tempting ballot question: whether to eliminate the state’s income tax. This is a reckless proposal that would hurt all taxpayers. Voters should reject the idea.
Ed also has some more information about the question, which surely is of importance to all of us here in Massachusetts, including this:

Please join the local Democratic Town and City Committees of Amesbury, Newbury, Newburyport, Salisbury, and West Newbury at an information session on Thursday, October 23 at 7PM. The nonpartisan event will be at Newburyport City Hall and is open to all voters: Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Your neighbors and your elected officials will discuss the impacts of Question 1, the ballot referendum to eliminate the State Income Tax.

Thank you all.

Wood Waste/New Ventures - appeal from Everett

I got this from someone in Everett:

Is there any way to post this and is there a way to get this in the Newburyport papers to inform the residents? People from Everett need to hear from the people of Newburyport. I know it's a trip, but it would be worth it. Everett's administration is seriously downplaying Newburyport's suffering and blaming Newburyport for all the problems, to the citizens of Everett.


* It is time for the people to be heard.
* Wood Waste needs to be stopped.
* Wood Waste should be made to come into compliance and be enclosed at
its present site on Boston Street.
* No more Rewarding a company that has no regard for the Health of the
Residents of Everett.

* Please come to the Public Meeting and take back Everett*

For information visit •

Date: Wednesday October 29, 2008
Time: 7:00 PM
Place: Everett City Hall • City Council Chambers

Friday, October 17, 2008

Nancy Colbert

A story I was writing for Globe North about Nancy Colbert's departure from our planning dept. was killed, so I'll tell you some interesting tidbits she told me while I was interviewing her:

She's recently engaged to be married.

She was not looking for another job; a friend pointed out the town administrator in Boylston because the friend knew that administration was Nancy's ultimate goal.

She's having knee surgery right before Thanksgiving, before she takes up her duties in Boylston.

Moak said he hopes to have someone that's "ready to commit" to take the position by Nov. 15 (Colbert's last day will be Nov. 21.)

On a related note - Was it in the daily that Mary Lattime, city treasurer/collector, is retiring at the end of the job?

Incoherent rambling

I was sort of semi-reading columnist Andrew Sullivan's piece on It is entitled "Why I Blog."

I got bored after the first few paragraphs - not because he's not an interesting character, but because I don't really care why he blogs. Besides, it goes on and on and on.

But my point (at this point) really is that we all blog because we think we have something interesting and/or informative to convey.

I haven't been blogging because whatever I have to say about anything that going on in which I'm interested - which would be the presidential election - would be entirely skewed.

Do you need my opinion?

Well, judging from all the watching of cable news I've been doing, and all the comments on other blogs and online editorials I've been reading, people crave reading other people's opinions.

It's all sort of unsettling to me.

Why haven't people made up their decision about who to vote for? Don't people realize that all of the news outlets are playing for the news, not just one particular candidate?

The media, which is largely owned by conservatives, is not "liberal." It's focus is making money, just like any other corporate entity.

It makes me laugh - or would if it weren't so inherently sad - to hear all this talk about "greed on Wall Street and in Washington."

Everyone is greedy. Who amongst us does not want to live the best life possible, financially?

Warren Buffet was writing about buying stocks, but here's what he writes in an editorial in today's New York Times:

A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.

So that's fine for a millionaire. What about the rest of us?

Who cares about capital gains taxes? Stock portfolios are for wealthier people than I; I used to have one, but not anymore. It was never that large or significant.

Let's talk about getting me a job when newspapers are laying people off left and right and/or going out of business. Some (maybe) plumber in Ohio will always have work because people will always need plumbers.

I don't want to hear anymore about William Ayers, and I couldn't care less about the "Keating Five."

I need a reliable income stream.

Anything else is just pap to me. What is see on the news is fodder that is being presented to other angry, frustrated citizens who are now feeling the effects of our cumulative greed.

And, of course, the random fueling of the more base side of human nature.

I'll try to come up with something more coherent later. For right now, I have to figure out how I'm going to pay my rent this month.

**Speaking of which, I'm sending out a plea for a story idea about someone who is doing something unusual to make money during these hard economic times, or any interesting or unusual businesses.**

Monday, October 13, 2008

Do you believe people can be rehabilitated?

Isn't that a catchy title?

I'm not going to be scientific here; I've just been thinking about this for a few days.

When I was a teenager, the war in Vietnam was the #1 topic of discussion among people in my circle of friends and family. Understandably, since I was living in rural Michigan when I was a teen, there was not much dissent from older people.

But there sure was from people in my age group.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pray for Atticus

I woke this morning to an email from Tom Ryan, sent to his friends and supporters, that little Atticus was attacked by another (unleashed) dog yesterday.

As of the time of his email (6:15 a.m.), Tom reports that Atticus is heavily sedated and he (Tom) is monitoring him for signs of a pneumothorax and/or a collapsed lung.

Tom and Atticus are due to be honored in Boston next Thursday for their fundraising efforts for other animals.

Pray for Atticus.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Amusement is my middle name

This is amusing: women (and men) who love Sarah Palin's looks and who are trying to look like her and buying 'her' glasses should read the folowing.

Palin referred to the attention her looks garner in an interview with Vogue magazine, before her nomination.

"I wish they'd stick with the issues instead of discussing my black go-go boots. A reporter once asked me about it ... and I assured him I was trying to be as frumpy as I could by wearing my hair on top of my head and these schoolmarm glasses," she said.
The full report is from Reuters.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Yay Helen!

Thanks to Ari for pointing out (on Twitter) this blog by an 82-year-old woman living in Texas, Helen Philpot.

She got 540+ comments on a post about Sarah Palin!

Now, a lot of people think she is not an 82-year-old woman at all. Some young people claim that she's too old to be blogging ...

May I point out that my 78-year-old mother has a Facebook? My nephew thinks it's a hoot, but honestly! Senior citizens aren't what a lot of people think they are ... demented old coots.


Fast talking

Does anyone but me (and my mother) notice how fast people on TV are talking these days?

I mean actual speed of talking. My mother, who is hard of hearing to begin with, has difficulty hearing these people who speed read through their scripts.

I understand that cable news anchors have to cram a lot into the day (never mind how much pabulum is in there that they could easily cut out), but I was just listening to a woman anchor (or whatever they call them) on MSNBC who talks so fast she gives me a headache.

I don't know her name because they never identify themselves, nor does MSNBC - but I think she's Tamron Hall. For an hour, I've been thinking guests were thanking "Cameron" for having them on the show.

Last week the cable news networks spent as much time dissecting the OJ trial as they did the economic crisis, but that's another issue altogether. Does anyone really care about OJ Simpson anymore?

Anyway, TV shows, these news people and whoever else are talking so fast that it's mind bending. Sometimes I have to rewind, when I can, to understand what someone said.

Landfill news from Everett

I had 2 comments from people in Everett to my last post about the landfill, which was a while ago now. I also received an email that said the same thing, so here it is, in total:

Please read here where the Mayor of Everett, Carlo DeMaria said last night that he has a meeting on Wednesday with the AG to reopen the landfill. You may already know this but I wanted to make sure you knew, and there wasnt any back room deals getting made behind Newburyport's back.

Also, the city of Everett is having an open public hearing on ALL matters with William Thibeault, on October 29, 2008 where Chip Nylen is invited to attend, to tell his spin on the landfill. Conveniently, the time and place was not mentioned by the mayor. community-then Wood Waste

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lying and cheating

I was thinking today about people running for office who have small children.

What do you do, as a candidate, when your young child comes up to you and says, "Daddy/Mommy, a man/woman on TV just said you are (fill in a terrorist, a bimbo, or any other slur that you've heard this election season)?"

What do you say to your child when s/he repeats back to you what YOU said?

"Mommy, you said that man is a terrorist ... is that man really a terrorist?"

What do you say?

This culture is based too much on "acceptable" lies. All's fair, right?

I play this computer game, Civilization, a lot. It would be fair to say I'm addicted to it. This is a game in which to start building a civilization - and if you're playing solo, you are playing against other civilizations run by artificial intelligence, or AI.

The game cheats like ... like ... well, I can't think of anything right off hand. There's even an option for the player to cheat. There's no fair measure or explanation of why you're in last place, even though you have the largest and seemingly most thriving civilization.

You could have 15 military units guarding a city, and it does not matter, because an AI civilization will inevitably show up with 30 units to attack you. It does not matter the number, you can be sure the other civ will have more.

You can even predict it. If you think you're doing well - well, you're not. The creators of the latest version of the game even say, I believe, that it's nearly impossible to beat the AI.

I wouldn't know because I, in desperation, downloaded the game off the website and did not really get an owner's manual that I can access. Thank you, Windows Vista.

Why do I keep playing? Because, like a fool, I keep thinking there's some way that I can make it so it doesn't cheat. I've been thinking like that for more than 15 years now.

I know that because I was playing Civ the day I got the call that my niece had been born in Chicago, 15 years ago on Aug. 28.

What kind of a schmuck does that make me?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Memories, like the cobwebs in my mind (part 2)

I'm reading in the Flint Journal that the library of Mott Community College is getting an $8.2 million renovation:

FLINT, Michigan -- The library at Mott Community College is slated for the most ambitious renovation since the building was constructed in 1959.Last week, the state Legislature approved giving Mott $4.1 million toward an $8.2-million upgrade project for a building that college officials say has become the heart of the campus.
What does this mean to you? Well, nothing!

I used to work at this building, back when it was the library for both MCC and the University of Michigan. In fact, it was my first full-time job after graduating from college.

I was planning on becoming a librarian at the time.

My experience there, and working at a branch of the Flint Public Library, convinced me that librarians can be very bizarre people ... at least the ones I was working with in Flint at that time.

(I have to qualify everything with that disclaimer.)

One thing that was very interesting about the experience was the people I worked with in the processing department (where they catalog and otherwise process the books before they go out on the shelves).

There were 2 women from Germany and one from Finland. Flint, if nothing else these days, was a very diverse city. There were also a lot of people from the Middle East (you know, Muslims), and hey! we all got along just fine.

Too bad it didn't stick. Poor Flint; but good for the library.

I imagine those old card catalogs I used to stock are long gone, as are the people. I know one of them recently passed away.

Is my 'illness' regional?

So yesterday, as usual, I drove down to Gloucester to visit my mother.

The whole time, I was encouraged by the fact that I did not cough once and was actually quite sprightly.

Driving home, I passed through Ipswich, turned a corner, and immediately started coughing and hacking. By the time I got to the cottage, I was feeling lethargic and ready for a nap.

I don't know what could possibly be that localized, but I do know that my sister (the one that lives in Gloucester) frequently has to take allergy meds when she comes up here.

It can't be the flora because I see the same old plants all over the place.

So what is it?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I was alerted to this by a tweet from someone in Flint, via Twitter.From the Flint Journal:

GENESEE COUNTY, Michigan -- An apparent Internet hoax is causing hysteria as rumors spread through text messages, e-mails and word-of-mouth about a supposed gang initiation involving shooting women in the head at gas stations.

State police said they have been flooded with calls about rumors that a woman had been shot. The rumors remain unsubstantiated, although panicked residents flooded police with telephone calls, parents pulled students out of school and at least one school district went into lockdown.
The person on Twitter apparently works in the district that went into lockdown.

Since it's not all over the news, which I assume it would be, I have to take the Journal's word that it was a hoax. Plus, people commenting on the story report a similar situation occurred 2 weeks ago in Pontiac, which is south of Flint and also a place I used to live.

On another note, I'm enjoying watching Tom Delay defending the last eight years of government. One thing I'm learning from watching all this cable news is that partisan people refuse to say anything nice about the "other side."

(Even though we all know some of these people are friends in real life.)

There's got to be at least one thing one side likes or admires about the other, and is willing to admit to on camera, wouldn't you think?

Look how well we all get along.

Obama and introspection

A while ago I watched Obama deliver a speech in Wisconsin. I had an epiphany.

It wasn't anything about his political position, though. It was him talking about how hard-working Americans are.

And I thought, "Wow, do I work hard? Honestly and truly, do I work hard?"

Well, I don't know. What I do know is that I obviously don't work hard enough.

Because it seems no matter how hard I work, I don't make enough money.

I blame all those men who passed through my life and did not offer to save me from myself by entering into holy wedlock with me ... (I'm kidding) ...

Oh, and by the way, I think it was X who turned me on to Keith Olbermann. Thanks, X! I love Keith Olbermann now. I want to bear his little left-wing offspring.

By the way x2, introspection is a good thing. I'm seeing an awful lot of people lately who don't practice it.

Hello again

So people are calling, people are writing ... OK, one person in each case.

I am alive and reasonably well. Last week I had three deadlines for three different publications (Merrimack Valley Magazine, North Shore, and the Globe North) so I ... I ... OK, I had enough time to post.

Two things:

One, I really have been sick, and I've been sleeping A LOT.
Two, I really have been totally engrossed in this presidential campaign and the economy.

Three things-

One or all of the aforementioned publications might have an issue with the blog, and/or one another. This freelancing thing ain't easy.

So like Joe Biden, I may have to rein myself in somewhat.

Knowing me, you know what a struggle this ordinarily would be, if I weren't so enraptured with the 24-hr. news cycle on cable. And, you know, eating.

I actually get annoyed when one of the cable news outlets puts on some pre-taped programming. Except Fox News, when commercials and other programming save me from throwing something at the TV.

Not my food, though. I'm guarding that with my life.

By the way, I actually did throw something at the TV once, when President Reagan was speaking, back in the 80s. I think it was when he was claiming that the homeless on the White House lawn were just camping ... or was that a Doonesbury joke? All I remember is that he was talking about the homeless.

Whatever - luckily what was in my hand at the time was a plastic bottle of saline solution that I had just used to moisten my contact lenses ...