Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ten things I've done that you probably haven't

I'm caught up in all these ... er, memes? ... going around. So taking a clue from a Facebook friend (actually, he's both a blog and a Facebook friend), I'm 'fessing up to these 10 things (read about what may be the start of all this on author John Scalzi's blog, called Whatever):

1. I spent one night and two days on a replica of a tall ship (I've posted about that before).

2. I once drove from Michigan to Baltimore, MD, to see The Cars in concert (disclaimer: my sister Sarah has done this, since we did it together).

3. I was at game 5 of the World Series in 1984 when the Detroit Tigers finished off their incredible season with VICTORY (again, Sarah was there, too).

4. This isn't something I did (looking at the cat), but I once found a dead mouse down at the foot of my bed, between the top sheet and the blanket. I have no idea how many nights I slept with a dead mouse ...

5. I've lived in 3 different countries, counting the one I was born in but was taken out of when I was 3 months old.

6. I once went to rock concerts on three consecutive nights (again, Sarah ... what can I say? We used to live together!). I think this is another Cars-related entry.

7. I rang the church bell at The First Parish Church, Newbury (MA). It was way cool.

8. I have twice been in the building from which the bridge tenders raise the Gillis Bridge over the Merrimack River between Newburyport and Salisbury. It's tall and right over the middle of the river - and the view is terrific.

9. I was on an airplane one time and I was trying to open one of those packets of salad dressing they give you - and the salad dressing sprayed all over the woman sitting next to me.

10. I nearly emasculated Sen. John Kerry one day outside the State House in Boston. I was walking home, swinging my furled umbrella, and he was behind me. He grabbed it just before the point hit his crotch. At least I think it was Kerry ...

I used to believe I kissed the Pope's ring when my mother and I still lived in Barbados, but my mother recently told me it was just some bishop.

Now that I think about it, these things are probably supposed to be more impressive ... like, hey, I met Mother Teresa while feeding starving children in India ... great, now I'm depressed.

No more lists! Unless you guys want to do it, of course ....

How to get a job in today's market

Oddly enough, I found advice on this topic in The Flint Journal ... but then, I did not check the Globe.

According to the story, I should tell you all that I need more work! I mean, the article doesn't say "Gillian Swart should say on her blog that she needs more work ..." I don't even know Melissa Burden, the person who wrote the story! (Although I did used to know someone named Mike Burden ... I wonder if they are related?)

Advertise your unemployment.

While letting others know you're looking for work may have been passe, job coaches suggest that changing your tune and advertising your job loss may just land you one.

So tell your neighbors, friends, family, former co-workers and others that you're looking and available.

I don't suppose any of you guys owns a newspaper or publishes a magazine, by any chance? I'm not exactly unemployed, as you know (apparently potential employers like you more if you're employed while looking for a job; potential employers are sick puppies).

Challenger and Pachter said joining social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn (make sure to create a professional looking page) and adding friends and colleagues in your field can help in your search. (Challenger and Pachter are experts on this, apparently.)

Well, if it does not work out for me, it may work for someone else! After all, I was informed yesterday that my blathering on about Facebook motivated a reader to sign on.

More than that, a story I wrote about someone for SeaCoast Scene last summer got her a job interview! Yes, a man read the story, called the editor and asked the editor to have me call him so he could contact her.

Reminded me of high school, when boys used to call me to ask if I thought my friend Ann liked them.

The woman/subject of my story ended up taking another job, but we were both pretty amazed. Seems in my work, I'm more of a facilitator than a beneficiary. Luckily this works for me.

After spending some more time on Facebook over the past few days, I have more comments to make ... but that's another post.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Michigan is fighting with France!

Well you think we've got problems, at least we're not fighting with a whole other country ...

Michigan and France are fighting over the possible - possible - wreck of a 17th century ship in Lake Michigan.

In the story in the Detroit Free Press, it says no one is even sure that they've found the wreck of the Griffin, which was built by the French explorer La Salle.

The Griffin (also spelled “Griffon”) disappeared on its maiden voyage in 1679 after embarking from an island near Green Bay, Wis., with a crew of six and a cargo of furs and other goods.
Of course, Michigan wasn't the State of Michigan then ... and France wasn't really France as we know it today. But at least there was a France!

Not that I'm on their side.

From Wikipedia:
In 1679, Lord La Salle of France directed the construction of the Griffin, the first European sailing vessel on the upper Great Lakes. That same year, La Salle built Fort Miami at present-day St. Joseph.
Did you know Michigan has the longest freshwater shoreline in the world? It also has 12,000 inland lakes! I grew up, from the age of 7, on one of them.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A shout out to my friends in Everett

I was reading Tom Salemi's flattering post *blush*it's my job*and besides, the editor was the one who made the decision to post the videos* from today, and as I wrote in the comments, there are some incredible people in Everett.

Even if it means they don't get rid of the piles of debris building up in their own city, they want our city to keep on fighting.

These people have as much invested in Newburyport's battle over the landfill as do we here. Because of perceived failings in the people in charge in Everett, they are looking to Newburyport to do "the right thing."

Any "victory" we achieve here will be theirs as well.

So thanks, people from Everett, for your support of our city.

I don't know how many of you there are, but I feel like you and more than a few people here are in one of those videos of people fighting against world hunger - standing together, arms linked, swaying and singing some cheesy song.


I read with interest this post on Ari Herzog's blog. He's talking about sextogenarian women using Facebook, but as I comment on the post, my 78 y.o. mother has a Facebook.

I don't know how much she uses it, if at all. Unless she addresses me via the site, I'm trying not to pry! (Unlike my other Facebook 'friends,' who I stalk daily ... oh, I'm kidding.)

But I noticed within the last two weeks that my aunt (my mother's sister-in-law in England) is on there now - much to the surprise of one of her grandchildren. Sort of like how my nephew reacted when he saw his mother and grandmother had Facebooks.

He later told me it was unusual to see "old people" on Facebook. heh

I still have reservations, though, and they are of my own making.

My neighbor, who is the complete opposite of me, a few weeks ago demanded that I pull up her ex-boyfriend's Facebook so she could see what he was up to. He had deleted her as a friend.

At the time, I thought it was a violation of his privacy (she whined in response, "But we're friends!" - meaning she and I), and for my collusion (as unwillingly as it was given) he deleted me from his Facebook as well.

I can only assume she told him that I was an accomplice. Some friend. heh

I regret letting her use me that way and my weakness (man, she ripped my laptop literally off my lap because she felt I wasn't relaying to her the entirety of what I was seeing).

It goes without saying that I won't let anything like that happen again. mea culpa
According to this report in today's Flint Journal, college students are looking for green initiatives in their colleges and universities.

When this generation of students tours college campuses, their interest goes beyond lunch menus and recreation facilities. Green -- and not just tuition dollars -- is becoming increasingly important.
I admire the level of awareness (awareity? I like making up words) in today's youth.

At the University of Michigan-Flint, even dining has become a green experience.

Sandwich wraps are made of bamboo. Salad containers are made of corn. The silverware and coffee cups? Simply potato starch.

The eco-friendly products are sometimes double the cost, which can make food more expensive. But many students are willing to pay it.
When I was in college, I could barely afford a traditional sandwich from Drake's Sandwich Shop, but that was then and this is now ...

The report goes on to say that UM-Flint recently spent more than $100,000 to make the roughly 30 urinals in French Hall waterless, saving about 20,000 gallons of water per year.

With all of our water worries, maybe Newburyport should be investigating this, for the public buildings, and encouraging local businesses to do the same. 20,000 gallons per year is not a lot in the scheme of things (consider the proposed River Little Village - sorry, Shoppes - in Newbury would use 20,000 gallons/day), but that's just one building they're talking about.

But how exactly does a waterless urinal work? Check it out here, on the Kohler website. I'm no urinal expert (yet), but these look like they could also save space.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Anonymous wrote (earlier this evening):

As for the enforcement agreement with Wood Waste of Boston, it is an agreement, not an order.

Agreement meaning...."the act of agreeing or of coming to a mutual arrangement" it's not an order that would state "an authoritative direction or instruction; command; mandate"There is a difference here. Here is a paragraph of the "Agreement"

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the following mutual agreements, the parties hereto agree as follows:

1) Wood Waste will continue to disperse odor-controlling agents at the Facility to keep H2S levels below industry guidance and will maintain and supply air quality monitoring equipment and personnel at the site to monitor odors from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wood Waste will spray the piles daily and the piles will be tarped to maintain dust control. The Board of Health will be provided with a schedule prior to the execution of this Agreement as to when the spraying will be conducted. Odor misting machines will be set up on the perimeter and will be disbursed as necessary in addition to the daily scheduled spraying. Street sweeping and water truck spraying will take place at least once per day and as needed to reduce dust. The Board of Health or its designee(s) are authorized to monitor the site at any given time to ensure the measures are being taken to control said odor and dust issues.

This should read "order" He should be ordered to do so and we just did him a huge favor for his trial. I hope someone from Newburyport will be there during the trial. If Richard Nylen tries to use this in court, I would absolutely agree that is a conflict that Thibeault's own environmental lawyer (who is defending his case in April) would have an ethical issue on his hands.

Richard Nylen wrote this agreement only to help his case in April. If he brings this agreement forth in court, I really hope someone from Newburyport will be there and defend this "set up" between the environmental lawyer, and the Everett Mayor, Carlo DeMaria who admitted just last week on TV that he has built a relationship with this business owner.

So noted that Nylen seems to have drafted the agreement. I checked with someone in our City Hall and they said that's not unusual - although here the City prefers the City Solicitor to write the first draft of any agreements.

I'm assuming that people other than the Everett mayor are putting their two cents in on the agreement - and you are correct, it's not an order.

Note that our health director Jack Morris says that he did not advise Everett to enter into a consent agreement ... he says he recommended rescinding the site assessment or issuing a cease and desist order.

Furor over Everett mayor's comments

Comment received yesterday from MassDee in Everett:

At last night's City of Everett's Board of Alderman's meeting, the mayor informed the Board and the residents that the Crow Lane Landfill will be opening soon. He stated he received his information from Newburyport's mayor. He said that the issue will be settled in the next 7 to 10 days through Newburyport's Board of Health.

Is this true? Can anyone shed some light on this? I was very surprised to hear this latest chapter in the saga of Bill Thibeault. It seems that in the end, he always gets what he wants.

I refer you, MassDEE, and everyone else to my story , now up on the Newburyport Current's website. I did my best to answer everyone's questions.

Are we all ready for digital?

This is very disheartening:

The effort to delay next month's scheduled death of analog television suffered a setback in Congress on Wednesday, despite warnings that millions of American homes will not be able to see broadcast shows in three weeks.

The bill, which passed the Senate unanimously Monday, failed to get the necessary two-thirds vote in the House on Wednesday afternoon. (CNN)
I know analog is dead, but how many people cannot afford this?

The transition to digital-only broadcasts has been set for nearly a decade, but 6.5 million households, mostly lower-income, have not bought the newer digital TVs or converters for their old sets, according to a study by the Nielsen Company.
That many, would be my guess.

The piece says that at least $200 million has been spent on telling people about the change, which is scheduled for Feb. 17.

After reading this, I agree with the person who said that the country is nowhere ready for this change. Especially after reading that digital signals don't even reach some communities.

What idiocy.

Oh the weather outside is frightful

Same view; with the bottom photo the flash went off so you can see the snowflakes. From what I can hear, it is now either sleeting or raining. I only went outside about 15 minutes ago!
The reason why I shot this particular part of my yard is because while I was talking to people from DPS, they mentioned that PI residents are throwing snow around/over the sewer thingie there that allows the system to "breathe" (it's a vacuum).
Not good. So you should be shoveling it OUT, not under. Thank you!

Read my lips

Does it bug you when people pronounce the name of our fair city as "New-berry-port?"

I mean, I know the word "bury" is usually pronounced "berry," but c'mon!

Even in some video promotion of the city that used to be on the city's website the voice-over person pronounced it "New-berry-port."

I can't find it on this newest incarnation of the site ... which I think s-u-c-k-s! I can't find anything on there!

Speaking of which, MLive, which runs the content from the Flint Journal, recently made some changes as well. Those also SUCK!

Hold on .... must pet cat. It relieves stress, you know.

Ha ha ha

Someone this morning suggested to me - actually, he said it right out - that my gig at the Current is interfering with my blogging!

Amen to that ... but unless you guys want to pay me ... actually, this person also suggests I get a different day job to remove the interference!

I don't know how many of you are aware of this, but there's been a kind of explosion in news about the landfill since yesterday (you'll have to wait to read my story, which I'm told will be online sometime today).

I have also been warned that things with the landfill are going to move very quickly from here on out ...

In the meantime, I suggest some light entertainment. YouTube is always good ... nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Heat's on!

Well finally Eastern Propane & Oil turned up and fixed the furnace. Something called an igniter was shot.

I'm no expert on furnaces, but I think an igniter is probably necessary for one to function correctly.

Seriously, I should have known there was something amiss with the igniter since sometimes it would not ignite on the first attempt.

Now I'm reasonably warm and toasty, cooking up some curry and settling in before tomorrow's possible onslaught of snow.

Who needs love slaves?

No more bills by snail mail?

In response to Ari Herzog and his latest blog post about the city emailing bills to residents (and saving $32,000/yr.), I say:

I tend to forget to pay my bills and I lose the envelopes in the general mess of paper that is the area around my couch (I don't have an office).

I'm not sure if getting bills on email would help with this problem, but I do shudder at the number of envelopes I get each day (I shred bills after I finally pay them) and the amount of paper in those City Council agendae (agendi?), which has nothing to do with mail or envelopes.

But then - all the random envelopes may be needed soon to provide heat as I burn them.

Ari, I don't think this is going to happen.

I'm using my cat as a muff!

Well it's a balmy 57 degrees in the cottage right now. The furnace is broken, or the propane line is clogged ... who cares? The temp in here is falling fast!

Hmmmm ... guess I should turn on the electric heater my landlady brought over ...

... OK, now that there's tepid air blowing in my general direction, I can bitch and moan about how I called Eastern Propane & Oil more than two hours ago and was told a technician would be arriving "soonishly."

Actually, "soonishly" is a word I use and is not typical of the propane professional. He told me not to go anywhere anytime soon.

I canceled a 3 p.m. engagement for this! I could have gone, been warm and would have been back home by now!

Where are my love slaves when I need them? Bah!

Brian Derrivan

City Council President James Shanley said at the start of last night's City Council meeting that Ward 5 Councillor Derrivan had been hospitalized for observation ...

I just heard that, as of last night anyway, he was sitting up and making jokes, but that he was attached to heart monitors and such.

I wish him a speedy recovery.

Update at 10:37 a.m.
He's doing fine and should be home tonight.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Does any of this sound familiar?

Read this here story, from the Flint Journal.

It's about people not shoveling their sidewalks! Then read the comments, which mirror almost exactly the ones on stories on the DN website.

Well, except for the ones about getting mugged and/or shot while shoveling. I don't recall any of those on the Daily News site ...

Flint Mayor Don Williamson said unshoveled sidewalks are a problem all over the city -- one that has gotten worse over the years.

"Years ago when I was a kid, everyone shoveled their snow," he said. "Today, no one does it."
That's funny ... years ago I remember a little vehicle clearing the sidewalk. But then, I wasn't a kid when we moved to Flint.

When I was a kid in Michigan, we lived on a gravel road out in the country. We had two driveways and a relative with a plow on his tractor (?).

When I was a really little kid, we lived in the Tropics and ... well, no snow.

Comprehending female desire

I seem to be on a theme here today!

I tried to read this whole story, from the NY Times Magazine, entitled "What Do Women Want?" and written by Daniel Bergner, who has written a book about lust and desire. It's pretty long, though, and I've still got my stories to write (two down so far, though).

The piece chronicles the work of Meredith Chivers, a scientist studying and/or teaching sexual research in Canada.

This is part of the next-to-last paragraph, which I did read:

There was the implication, in her words, that she might never illuminate her subject because she could not even see it, that the data she and her colleagues collect might be deceptive, might represent only the creations of culture, and that her interpretations might be leading away from underlying truth. There was the intimation that, at its core, women’s sexuality might not be passive at all. There was the chance that the long history of fear might have buried the nature of women’s lust too deeply to unearth, to view.
Tell that to Lady Caroline Lamb, I thought - but then, she's dead. So are all those other lustful ladies of historical notoriety I could mention here (and even more modern 'examples' of 'bad behavior,' who I won't mention at all). But I guess we know so much about them because they were lustful. Those hussies.

I think this, and the stories about Facebook and showing nipples, and the one about women being comfortable with their bodies all relate to the same thing.

What that same thing might be I have no clue. Ha! I got you ...

I think the words "hussy," "hysterical" and "Jezebel," among others more crude, might have something to do with it. But I'm no scientist; what do I know about what women want?

This 'bares' scrutiny

(Warning: I did no research on this; it's purely my personal observations.)

The controversy between Facebook and women who want to put photos of themselves breast feeding topless rages on. (You can watch this video about one particular mom on

Is this prudishness?

Stepping into the Wayback Machine, I once again see the French exchange student who lived with my family for a year and photos she showed us of her life in France - including ones of her on a beach that allowed semi-nudity (bottoms but no tops).

As my warning above indicates, I have no figures on how hung up Europeans are on females baring their breasts ...

But if Facebook should change its policy, an unlikely event I would say, what's to stop everyone from wanting to post pictures of bared female breasts? Nada.

But (again) - if you are banning female nips, you should ban male ones as well. If mandatory dress codes have taught us nothing, they have taught us that you can't apply standards to women without also applying them to men.

So I say de-criminalize the female breast. How can a woman feel comfortable with her body if she knows exposing parts of it is considered "obscene?"

But no! The bits below are still 'bad.' Bad bits.

So I retract my previous bare statement and amend it to: let's go back to the 19th century, where women had to cover themselves from head to toe.

We haven't come a long way, baby.

Isn't it funny how something so purely functional (the human body) became a matter of shame and censorship? When did that happen? Not recently! Bad, naughty, evil Eve.

And for those of us not into the religious explanation - Bad, naughty, evil Mother Nature.

Well, folks, there are a million stories in The Naked City - and I have to go write up a few of them now!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Big trouble in little Newburyport?

This speaks for itself, from today's Globe:

Last Friday, Governor Deval Patrick announced that he was cutting local aid to cities and towns by $128 million for the current fiscal year, and he proposed an additional $375 million cut for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The cuts are part of Patrick's larger plan to close the widening state budget gap and craft a balanced budget for next year.

This is cool ... and kind of freaky

So I just saw the person (and there was one specific person; I hadn't seen him in quite a while) that I was moaning about last night in the post about social media:

Why isn't this person who's someone else's 'friend' trying to friend me?

He walked over, gave me a hug and a kiss ... and I wondered why I'd ever doubted he would consider himself my friend. I told him I was just thinking of him last night, after I saw him on Tom Salemi's Facebook friends list and thought, "That rat! He's Facebook friends with Tom and not ME!"

He laughed and said he'd take care of that as soon as he got home. Sorry, Tom, but he's going to axe you from his friends list ... nah, he's going to add me.

So it doesn't take a Facebook to define your friends (in fact, a lot of my friends aren't on Facebook) ... but I'm happy with all my friends, old and new, on Facebook or not.

Even the 2 I have yet to meet in person.

Yes, I have 2 Facebook friends as a direct result of this blog, and I've never met either one. Hey, Ari could be on to something!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

GateHouse Media makes the news

GateHouse Media, which owns the Newburyport Current and a whole slew of other weeky newspapers, last fall tried an 'experiment' in Batavia, NY - launching a web-only news source in a town where they did not have a print presence.

Back in Sept., Scott Karp wrote on

It’s a newspaper company thinking and acting like a startup — which is what every media company needs to do to survive the digital transition.

The real problem is, you know, is that not everyone has a computer. Hard to believe, but it's true ... and then there are the folks, like my mother, who use a computer for email, writing and doing her family tree - but who would never read a newspaper on line.

And even here in Newburyport, there are a lot of people who read the weekly because they can't afford the daily.

More recently, GateHouse media has filed suit against the New York Times Co., which owns the Boston Globe over intellectual property. (That phrase always makes me smile.)

From Friday's (it's a Globe story, by Robert Weisman):

At the heart of the complaint, lodged by GateHouse Media Inc., which publishes 125 community newspapers in Massachusetts, is the question of whether Internet news providers will be able to continue the practice of posting headlines and lead sentences from stories they link to on other sites. The case has been scheduled for trial in US District Court in Boston as early as Monday.
As someone called pinball25 comments:

It's not just the links. It's the fact that created these Your Town sites and rather than hire the nessecary staff to create content for the sites, they are simply linking to GateHouse Media's Wicked Local content. So gets all the revenue from having local sites with none of the expense. Something this blatantly bias article fails to point out.
I agree with pinball25. As someone who was pushed aside due to cutbacks - and basically told to go back to writing for "the competition" (not in a mean way) - I find this amazing. So they don't to pay me, or other GateHouse media reporters/stringers, but they want what we write?

I know, any link to a story on WickedLocal is more traffic for GateHouse Media sites, but honestly ...

And I really don't see why the New York Times has a Northeast edition. Isn't that what the Globe is?

My disenchantment with 'social media'

I guess I kind of agree with this post on - which was pointed out to me (and a few thousand, million, whatever others) on Twitter by none other than Ari Herzog.

Nearly a day goes by on Twitter without yet another social media “expert” choosing to stalk me. At first it started innocently — back in the day (about a year ago) various techie friends started to declare themselves social media gurus because they decided to hang out on Twitter and Facebook all day.

So here's some guy complaining about people doing what people do on 'social media' sites that are prime areas for this type of behavior. If that makes any sense.

Get over it, dude.

I signed up for Twitter. I gave it a shot, I let it go (even forgot my password), then I went back. Now I'm gone again.

Still don't see any benefit to it for me. I'm not selling or promoting anything and no one ever, ever responds to anything I say on there.

So what's the point?

There is no point.

I can kind of handle Facebook because at least most of the comments are by people I know. But I also feel disconnected there.

What's funny to me is that my cousin, who hasn't written to me in years, actually wrote something on my Facebook. Just as if we have been in constant contact in the year+ since I last set eyes on him.

And I don't know who to 'befriend' on Facebook. Why isn't this person who's someone else's 'friend' trying to friend me? Should I contact him or her? Will I be hurt if they don't respond? Why is my best friend from my teen years not responding to my friend request?

Why? What? Who? Who are my friends?

I like it here. People comment; people write me private emails every so often and recently I actually met someone who used to comment a lot on here (with a pseudonym) but who doesn't anymore. It was kind of fun and we laughed without actually outright acknowledging the connection.

Are you my friend?

See? It's just all too confusing!

Green with envy

I ran into my friend Skye at the Book Rack today ... actually, since we were both attending the book launch of a mutual friend/writers group member, it wasn't quite so much a run into as a met up with ...

Anyway! She told me her daughter Hillary Chabot, a reporter for the Boston Herald, was assigned to cover the inauguration.

Chabot was in the second row. Sitting or standing (who cares?) next to Denziel Washington.

What a dream come true! I mean being there. And the part about Denziel Washington.

My nephew Mike was also there, but he was waaaaay back. I was envious of him but now ... !

I found it kind of distracting

But that's good, right?

I'm referring, of course, to Aretha Franklin's hat, at the inauguration.

Wow, all you have to do now is have something you design or sell show up on some diva and you've got it made (the hat, Sarah Palin's eyeglasses ...).

Not that I mind this guy getting even more made - he's a Detroit original.

The story line of a small family hat shop suddenly put on the map by a superstar is a romantic one, but it doesn’t quite fit the facts, Mr. Song said. Yes, his business started small, in a store opened by his mother, an immigrant from South Korea, in 1982. But Ms. Franklin has been a customer for two decades, and the business long ago outgrew the store: Mr. Song, who studied at the Parsons School of Design in New York and first thought he wanted to become a painter, dropped out after two years to return home and transform the business into a sizeable garment and millinery supplier, Moza Inc. (New York Times)
Near the end of the piece, Mr. Song says that
while customers are scaling back on buying clothes generally, they are still buying hats, because a new hat can change the look of an outfit for less money than a whole new ensemble would cost.
I heard this in a women's accessory shop in The Tannery while Christmas shopping. The woman behind the counter told me that, instead of buying a new coat this year, many women are just buying accessories to pin on their coats (or buying scarves).

Since I've had the same coat for about 3 winters - and I bought it used from Pandora's Box (on Pleasant St., and where I also got my red cowboy boots) in the first place - I could not relate to this concept.

I don't wear hats because my hair is so thick, it works as insulation. Which is great in the winter but sucks in the summer. Besides, I look goofy in hats.

But nice job on this hat. It was a real eye-catcher.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bring a clothespin with you

I found this post on a board called It's from July:

Hello all,

Im a lifelong Mass resident and looking to move to Newburyport soon. I have heard the Crow Lane landfill has been causing lots of problems for some of the residents/city officials in Newburyport for a long time and I wanted to see which areas/streets were the ones that typically noticed the foul odor. I wasnt sure how far the odor carried or in what direction and I dont want to buy a house in an area that could be effected. Many thanks for any input!
Depends on which way the wind is blowing, dude.

"Owner in a pickle ..." = great headline

I just read this story in today's Daily News. I was at the Water Commission meeting, of course, so I heard it all as well.

Robert Finneran, who is sole proprietor the corporation that bought the former Mike's Sub Shop (that tiny building at 42 Merrimac St.) is peeved because DPS won't sign off on his building permit until another property on Plum Island (which is owned by a trust - his family's - and of which he is a trustee) hooks into the water/sewer system.

We all know there are repercussions to not hooking into the new PI water/sewer system. It seems this is one of them. If I remember correctly, the city - or town, in this case, since the property is in Newbury - can also condemn properties whose owners don't hook into the system.

First, I was amazed that the Water Commission took Mr. Finneran out of line - as in, some people in the audience wanted to talk about the Newbury Little Village at River project while the developer was still there, but Commissioner Lawler not only let the guy leave, but let Finneran talk about his issue, which in any case was due to a late file.

The sticking point seems to be this (from the DN):

People seeking building permits from the city must demonstrate that they are up to date on all their other municipal obligations.

Although DPS Director Brendan O'Regan told the commission that this was an executive order, Lawler still expressed skepticism that because Finneran doesn't actually own the PI property (he rents from the family trust), the sub shop property would fall under the order.

Victor Tine pretty much tells the rest of it in the DN story, except for Finneran's mumbled excuses for the PI property being hooked into the system: something about the whole building needing to be re-plumbed, issues with the neighbors and "simply the finances of it."

I know lots of people had problems with "the finances of it."

Finneran wants to add a second floor to the building, which he bought just over a year ago, for an office and run the same type of sub shop as was there before out of the ground floor.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Boston uber alles

There's something particularly heady about being in a crowded basement room with a bunch of writers, editors and people who may or may not want to hire same.

Snitching French fries off some kid who doesn't look old enough to be in a bar, trying to get the attention of a guy from Boston magazine ... living (sort of) large in a Boston nightspot.

As a networking event, the first Boston networking party of the year put on by the website got off to a rocky start. The basement room was populated not only with MediaBistro members but regular old bar patrons. It was packed. It was loud. It was Boston.


Sometimes I miss Boston so much it almost hurts. Watching people walking home from work down Summer St. when we first arrived, I said, "That would have been me, a few years ago ..."

It's not the same as it was, now that the Big Dig is done, and I have to admit I held my breath for a bit as we went through the underground portions - but it was Boston in all its grimy glory.

I had a couple of drinks, met some people and got to know the people I went there with a little better. Thanks, friends from the Newburyport Writers & Journalists group.

I'm glad to be back on Plum Island - but I wish I visited Boston more often.

My feathered friends

I don't mean to harp on about recycling Christmas trees for the benefit of birds ... actually, yes I do.

Here are 2 ex-Christmas trees - one I purloined from the side of the street and the other was my mother's Christmas tree.

A little bit ago, there were at least 3 birds in the large tree. They fled when I opened the window to take the photo. You see, usually they get to hang out in a thick stand of scrub trees and beach plum.

One of the first things I noticed about this place before I rented it was the couple dozen birds twittering outside the living room and bedroom windows. Then, of course, the first time the male cardinal woke me up at dawn with his damn twittering ... well, I'm used to it now.

Having a dense tree there keeps them out of the wind and safe from predators. That would in most cases be my cat.

When the needles fall off (it takes longer than you would think), I put the trees in a loose pile. A lot of birds hang out in there, too.

Thus ends today's public service announcement.

More mayhem

This is from today's Daily News:

Another bad week for landfill neighbors

NEWBURYPORT — After more than a dozen odor complaints were filed by neighbors to the Crow Lane landfill over the weekend, the smell is finally gone.

Abutters to the landfill sent out mass e-mails to other neighbors, city and state officials, and members of the local press, reporting itchy, burning eyes, sore throats, scratchy throats, sinus infections, headaches and nausea.

The odor, which smells like rotten eggs or burnt matches, comes from hydrogen sulfide, and it has plagued the neighbors of the landfill for the past half decade.

A flare remains lit at the site to burn away odor-causing gas, but it wasn't working properly, Mayor John Moak said yesterday. It has been fixed.

"The flare was not running at the proper temperature," Moak said.
I talked to the mayor yesterday about this very matter (see my full story in tomorow's Current).

Good thing we live in America, huh?

A friend, who is a business writer, sent me this AP story out of London about British media facing a banking crisis inquiry.

(The AP frowns on reprinting their stories, so I can't do it.)

In summary, "an influential group of British lawmakers" will hold an inquiry into the role the media played during the recent banking crisis (what ... it's over now?) and whether journalists should be "partly gagged in periods of market volatility."

Now I'm all for restraint, but this is - as my friend puts it - absolutely terrifying.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It comes in a giant economy size, too

By the way, I was alerted secretly (via coded communication) that there is an even BIGGER version of that wind turbine ... over 400' tall ...

The one at Richey Woodworking is a mere 292' tall.

I definitely should NOT have picked up that fully caffeinated latte after leaving City Hall ...

Great pie?

Greta's Great Grains has got this peach praline pie that looks so good, I want to grab it from the dispaly case and eat it right out of the pan.

No utensils necessary.

I don't know how I've resisted buying one for so long.

I bought apple and cherry pies there for our family's Thanksgiving dinner. Back then, they were, I think, $7.95. Now they are $11.95.

Actually ... That has a lot to do with why I have not tried the peach praline pie yet.

But I'll do it one day, I just know that I will.

Who's to blame when an icicle gets out of bounds?

As I was making my way around downtown today, I couldn't help but notice all the smashed icicles on the sidewalk (mostly because they were in my path).

So I looked up.

And yeah, there were a lot of icicles hanging off the rooftops, folks. I've got a few giants hanging off my eaves out here as well.

But when I was trying to gain access to the Bank of America ATM (will they ever fix that?), I was slight unnerved by the number of icicles hanging over my head.

A while later, as I turned the corner from State St. (where I see The Studio* is having a closing sale) onto Pleasant, I couldn't help but notice Daily News photographer Bryan Eaton, also looking up.

I suspect there will be something in tomorrow's Daily News about icicles.

So ... forget unshoveled sidewalks for the moment and consider whose responsibility it is to clear icicles from the roofs of buildings.

Maybe the DN story will clear this up! Because I've got very thick hair, but I don't think it would stop a falling icicle from piercing my skull.

*According to a note on her website, Kim is closing the retail store but maintaining the web presence.

Caught up at City Hall

So I went to the Water Commission meeting because of the Little Village on the River deal (it's baaaack - and I still can't get the name straight), then dropped in on the Budget & Finance/Public Utilities meeting in council chambers ... came out of that and there was this big old group of people lurking in the hall ... so just had to go back in for the Planning Board meeting.

Ed Cameron made me do it.

Well, I asked him if it was important enough for me to stay, and he said he thought so ... so in I went. At the time, I didn't even know it was a Planning Board meeting/public hearing!

The meeting was mostly all about this proposed subdivision on Toppans Lane. Which, you know, being the crack reporter that I am, I was only vaguely aware of.

Personally, I don't think subdivisions belong in city neighborhoods, and apparently a lot of people agree with me.

Sadly, the spiel by the developers took so long that I had to leave before residents got a chance to air their grievances. But there was a lot of muttering going on in that hallway and in the room, before the meeting commenced.

But what it boils down to is a 22-lot subdivision with 20 new homes and two existing houses, on the Rindler "almost 11 acre" property, which is still owned by a Rindler family trust, said the attorney for the developer.

It's a really strange property - it's shaped like a horseshoe (another property down the middle). I did not know there was that much open space left in that area, except for the old gravel pit.

There seems to be a lot of challenges attached to the whole scheme, not the least of which was the negative attitude coming off the Planning Board chairman, Dan Bowie.

I do believe that the developer, Great Woods Post and Beam, once owned that property at 8 Ocean Ave. that I blogged about last weekend ... yes, yes it did ... (checked on the appraisal system).

Speaking of checking, check out this post on The Newburyport Blog, from July 27, 2006, relating to this developer.

There was an awful lot of talk tonight about taking out old stand trees. The Tree Committee will not be pleased.

Snovel show

Ah, remember those days when neighborhood kids went around with snow shovels and would shovel you out for a small fee?

I do, since the neighbor kid and his friend used to shovel me out ... now he's 17 and delivers pizzas (makes a lot of dough at it, I heard from his mother....).

This is from yesterday's Daily News:

The city reminds residents that there is a law requiring homeowners to shovel the sidewalks in front of their homes. Failure to do so can result in fines.

Recycling Coordinator Molly Ettenborough said last week that the health department has issued 30 to 40 warnings so far this winter, but no fines yet. Next time, she said, they will issue the $50 fine.

Seniors are encouraged to call the Council on Aging at 978-462-8650 for a list of residents who will help shovel for a small fee.
I wonder ... is Dick M on this list? Or is he still holding out for the 25%? And why do the seniors have a pay "a small fee?" And why is the recycling coordinator in charge of residential sidewalk snow removal?

This sort of reminds me of the A-frame signs debacle (I think the City Clerk is in charge of that). People aren't going to follow the law if you aren't going to enforce it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh stuff it

Wow, her first few seconds on the job and people are already trashing Michelle Obama's ball gown.

The poor woman has to attend 10 balls after standing around all day, smiling and waving ... give her a friggin' break!

Who cares if Nancy Reagan also wore a one-shoulder gown at Ronnie's inaugural ball? Apparently these "experts" on CNN care.

God only knows why I'm still watching this. (Mostly I was writing a piece for Friday's Current, but had to look up to see da dress.)

Actually, let me, the fashion maven (not) comment: she should stick to the jewel tones. But not that awful red and black garment she wore the night Obama won the election ... there, that was in honor of my friends Miss Donna and Miss Jean, who were always on the lookout for "fashion don'ts" when we worked together at the former New England Medical Center ...

"Now, Miss Gillian, I see that you are wearing white after Labor Day ..."

(You know that, in a former life when I was very young, there were actually people who called me "Miss Gillian," in all seriousness?)

Anyway, I'm amazed either of them can still stand, much less dance. That would be Obama and the Mrs., not Miss Donna and Miss Jean. Those 2 chicks are maniacs.

That's one big honkin' turbine!

I was driving north on Rte. 1 this morning and I happened to glance to my left. EEEEEK
I thought some giant transformer/monster thingie was about to step out onto Rte. 1! I mean, literally I was startled at how big it is.
When I think of wind turbines, I think of those slender, graceful ones at Cider Hill Farm. Those ones appear to be benign ... almost sleep inducing.
The blades on this thing could take out an 18-wheeler. This photo really doesn't do it justice.
Now I understand what all the fuss is about ... I'm not saying it isn't safe, but HOLY MOLY!

South End Blend

I contacted the administrator of South End Blend because it seems to have ceased 'publication.'

It has, indeed, been pulled.

Being such an innocuous blog, you'd think no one would get particularly nasty about it. But there you go.

It was part of someone's life and part of our city - and now it's gone.


Sen. Kennedy suffers seizure

Apparently Sen. Kennedy had a seizure at the inaugural luncheon and was taken to the hospital ... I missed what Pres. Obama said because someone called me while he was talking about the senator, but CNN is on it ...

Apparently Sen. Byrd also needed medical attention.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fears and tears

On the same topic of programmers and the general public, I have an anecdote. I don't think I've written on here about it before (I did a search and didn't come up with anything).

Going back in the Wayback Machine, I'm in the Math Dept. at the college where I worked. Sitting next to me is a woman named Pearl. She is an older woman who was worked in the dept. for many years - typing tests and such merrily on her typewriter.

She has been told she has to use the computer. She is afraid. She has called me (the training specialist) in to help her adjust.

Pearl tells me that she knows she will do something bad to the computer (at that time, a mainframe and 'work stations'). I tell her there is nothing she could possibly do to 'hurt' the computer - well, computers, since there were 3 of them.

One evening not too long after this encounter, I'm hanging around the Computer Center, waiting for a co-worker with whom I carpool to work. The night system admin comes out of his cube and says something is eating up all the disk space on one of the computers ... and he has identified the culprit user.

Yes, we run upstairs to the Math Dept. and yes, there is Pearl, working late. Her monitor screen is filled with code. She is near tears.

"I told you! I told you I'd do something bad!" she says to me.

Dan (the admin) and I look at each other, look at Pearl, and I sigh, smile and say, "Yes ... yes, you did."

Then we all 3 burst into laughter. When we first walked in, I thought Dan was going to strangle her.

I don't remember what she it was she did wrong, but I do remember her job depended on her learning to use the computer.

She and I got to be pretty good friends through constant contact.

I'm going to need you to go ahead and ...

Was re-watching "Office Space" - a hilarious movie, btw - and it reminded me why I hate working in an office.

If you have not seen it, I highly recommend that you do so ASAP. It's playing right now on HBO.

HBO loves to run these new movies ("Office Space" came out in 1999 - guess in this case, it's a 10-yr. reunion).

I particularly love Gary Cole as the boss, Bill Lumbergh, and Stephen Root as Milton.

"I deal with the customers so the software engineers don't have to!"

I used to have that job, at the college where I worked right before I moved to Boston. I have to say, that was one of my favorite jobs ... possibly because I only was in the position for about a year before I moved away from Flint ...

Back then and out there, I could get a job doing that: training people on how to use the software and writing the manuals for software produced in-house. I thought I could get a similar position in the Boston area, what with all the high-tech going on here.

But NOOOOOO ... needed a degree in computer science and/or technical writing to do that out here.

Funny how you don't need a degree from a secretarial school to be a secretary (not a job to be sniffed at, btw), but you need several advanced degrees to write bloody software manuals. Seeing as how the ones being produced are so helpful and all.

Sorry. Carry on with whatever you were doing ...


Some dude named Claudio Tomassini wrote to ask people to check out his art, on his blog. The whole thing is in Italian, but you might be interested in the art.

I don't usually do this, but it is kind of neat.

Photos from today

(Top photo) Rolfe's Lane/Ocean Ave. - why does it change names once it gets into Newburyport? Wasn't Rolfe's Lane good enough? It's Ocean Ave. for what, 200 feet?
(Bottom photo) Those huge icicles have since fallen down, taking parts of the cottage with them.

My lips are sealed

I would comment on some stuff ... but then THEY would get a story idea ... I know THEY are watching because one of THEM has emailed me in the past ... if you get my drift.

Speaking of drifts, why do people/cities leave giant piles of snow on corners? One cannot see around them and thus cannot see oncoming traffic when one is pulling out onto a major road.

And that's not even to mention all the people wandering around in the streets!

Must go now and try to plow through to bird feeders ...

Saturday, January 17, 2009


This winter reminds me of the one we had the winter after my sister (the one who lives in Gloucester now) moved to Malden.

It seems to me that it snowed every weekend, and I recall my sister and I one Sat. slogging up the hill they lived on there ... that was a quite a while ago now.

I've been trying to get a story on an event that takes place on Sunday morning for 2 weeks now. My guess is, tomorrow will be another bust. Another Sunday ... another 6-8 inches. I'm running out of convenient places to fling any new snow.

As a sidenote, that same day in Malden, I lost one of my beloved fake pearl drop earrings. The next summer, I was standing on my sister's porch, looked down onto the front lawn - and saw something pearly glowing in the grass.

It was my earring! I guess it got caught in my scarf and fell onto their porch, which my brother-in-law was shoveling at the time we arrived at the house.

I love finding stuff I thought was gone forever.

A castle and a keep

From the Daily News:

Plenty of bidders at auction; new home goes for $875K

Maybe real estate in Newburyport is more valuable than the market might appear.

A brand-new, custom-built Colonial home in Newburyport with water views sold for more than its city assessment yesterday.

John McInnis Auctioneers of Amesbury, which is better known for its dealings with antiques and collectibles, auctioned off the home at 8 Ocean Ave. in Newburyport for $875,000. The house, a commercial loan foreclosure by Newburport (sic) Five Cents Savings Bank, is assessed at $748,600. McInnis typically only works with the local banks, which have fewer foreclosures.

The newly built home isn't entirely complete. But there were plenty of bidders. McInnis said there were 10 registered, qualified bidders on the property, which is located in the Joppa area.

"We had a huge crowd there," McInnis said. The purchaser was a development company from outside the area, he said.

The land alone (?) at 8 Ocean Ave. was listed here for $299,000. That seems kinda low for the location, which would have primarily river views, but still ...

Funny how those photos on the website are barely recognizable as a street I drive down pretty much daily ...

What if .... ?

You send a reply email to someone, and the only means you have to contact this person is through email, and it comes back as "undeliverable?"

Is this another failure of my former Yahoo email address?

Since I'm sitting at home sick, I'm tending toward obsessing over things like this ...

So I'll just say in response to someone who emailed me a while back (I have been periodically trying to reply) and made a comment about the sandbags on the beach that I think the Daily News may have over stated the size of them. Can't be sure about that, though - I believe they were just referred to as "massive."

I have not actually gone onto the PI beach for some time, but I can see every time I leave the island that the sand (can't really call it a dune anymore) at PI Center seems to be holding its own.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Can the Christmas trees

Better late than never, right? Besides, the city has not collected the trees yet.

Christmas trees and the beach do not mix; at least not on the PI beach (Daily News report).

Under ordinary circumstances, ye olde used Christmas tree helps trap sand on a beach. I hear that in Gloucester, they use them to retard erosion on Wingaersheek Beach (don't you love that name?). I can't find any evidence online of this, but it's what I heard.

From, regarding recycling Christmas trees (I use them for #3, the bird habitat):

Christmas trees can be used to help reduce erosion on shorelines of oceans, lakes or rivers. The branches and trunk provide barriers that help lessen the amount of sand washed away by the water. They can also help rebuild areas, especially after hurricanes, by collecting sand deposits.

Check with your state's Department of Natural Resources to see if they have a need for your Christmas trees.

Thing is, we got big old sandbags on the beach now, and the engineer who had them put there said that the important thing now is to keep debris off the beach so the bags don't get ripped open. The bags are full of sand ... but that's not the point.

Sniff sniff

I'm watching more about the plane that landed in the Hudson River yesterday afternoon. What a great story.

And they were just saying on the radio the other day that there hadn't been a major crash of a U.S. carrier in some time ...

I guess it was 'due;' but thanks to that pilot and first responders in NYC, a happy ending.

Triple cheers to all.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New recycling, same as the old recycling

Well the new recycling program is in effect (we're sharing trash and recycling collection with Amesbury now, you know). It appears to be going swimmingly.

Some of the hype was about how now we don't have to sort our recycling.

I have to confess I never did sort my recycling. Didn't know I was supposed to. (I confessed this to Recycling Coordinator Molly Ettenborough, and she chuckled.)

Today, as I drove over the bridge away from and to home twice, I saw a plastic grocery bag in the middle of the road. It obviously had some gross contents because a flock of seagulls (birds, not the band) were trying to get it open for the 'yummy' contents.

Then I remembered a post from a few days ago, by Gordie Young on Flint Expatriates. Genesee County (MI) is contemplating a ban on plastic shopping bags. San Francisco has already done this and Seattle has a fee on all bags and plastic foam food and drink containers.

Those West Coast cities are so rad.

One thing I always try to do is get my groceries in paper bags. Now I understand this is not necessarily a good thing. Those paper bags take up more room in landfills *cough cough* ... sorry the word "landfill" has that effect on me now ... than do plastic bags, but plastic bags never break down.

But wait, I recycle the paper bags!

Then I read that plastic bags are easily recycled (but not by Newburport's recycling facility - at least not before). That means I have to remember to take the bags back to the grocery store and stuff them in that bin by the door.

Sometimes I give them to my sister Helen in Malden and she uses them to scoop Annabelle's poop (Annabelle is the dog, if you didn't figure that out for yourself).

But according to, one is not any better than the other.

Both paper and plastic bags consume large amounts of natural resources and the majority will eventually end up in the landfill. Both bags can be recycled to some extent and can be utilized around the house. We've read several studies comparing the two choices and none of them agree. Some feel plastic is the better overall choice, others paper. It's really tough to say. Paper may consume more resources to produce, however, it is also more recyclable than plastic if you include the fact that paper can be composted and plastic bags cannot.
Hah! So Greenfeet's conclusion is that all of us should take our own reusable bag to the store.

You knew that; I know that. I just never remember to bring them with me (I have several). So I'm still going to choose paper, whenever I need to (or can) make the choice.

But have you noticed that paper bags are flimsier than they used to be? Put more than 6 things in there and the bag rips. Even Trader Joe's bags are less sturdy than they were a few months ago.

I might change my mind. I just don't know how many more used plastic bags I can fit into my trunk.

New store coming to town

I notice that Off The Wall Gallery on Pleasant St. is gone. A sign in the window indicates that something called Three Sisters will open in the space in April.

Here's some more information, from something called Kijiji Worcester.

We are three sisters seeking local artisans and crafters for a new store in the seaside city of Newburyport, Mass. Newburyport is an exciting place to own a shop! There are art and music festivals throughout the year as well as a seaport and a local theater. We would like an eclectic mix of products to offer our customers. We plan to open in April 2009. If you have any interest in joining us, please email us and we will forward our business plan.If you have any friends, relatives or acquaintances who are artisans, please pass the word! Hope to hear from you!
So there you have it! Nice name. I can relate, since I have 2 sisters.

New email address

Note that my new contact email is!


Too much SPAM on the other.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I don't even want to get into it!

Thanks to Ken Dumas at Sign Language for his permission to use the image.

The scent of a landfill

Here is an interesting article I found online while doing some research. It's from a national publication called Waste Age and is called "Passing the Smell Test."

This is the opening paragraph:

IT'S THE MESSAGE NO LANDFILL wants to receive. Recently, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Boston, issued a notice of non-compliance to a construction and demolition (C&D) debris landfill for its failure to control odor. According to the notice, the decomposition of C&D debris was causing the release of odor-causing hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas. Those who don't recognize the gas by name would know it by its smell — the unmistakable odor of rotten eggs.

I think I know to which landfill they are referring ... anyway, it's an interesting read, for all those interested in C&D fines and smells, and what the industry is doing about it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Buddy, can you spare a quarter?

Hey ... times have changed. A dime no longer does the trick.

But apparently a quarter does.

Some one, or some people, are either testing their credit card number thieving techniques or are ripping people off, a quarter at a time. From

Several Internet complaint boards are filled with comments from credit card customers from coast to coast who have noticed a mysterious charge for about 25 cents on their statements.

The charge shows up on statements as coming from "Adele Services" in Melville, N.Y. There is no business by that name listed in Melville, or registered to any business anywhere in New York, for that matter.
The suggestion from experts is that, if you notice such a charge on your credit card bill, you should dispute it.

Don't you sometimes just long for the days when your money was in the local bank, you had your little pass book ... and that was it. Maybe you don't remember those days ... I only barely remember them.

But then - I barely remember last week!

Latest on the landfill

Read all about it here.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Three NY bloggers obtained press credentials this month in NY after they had to file a lawsuit to be recognized as 'the press.'

The men were issued press identification cards - not the more weighty press pass (or working press card), which allows journalists to go behind police lines and such.

Press credentials are issued by police departments (I used to have one, a long time ago, in Flint).

From the Jan. 9 edition of the New York Times:
“This step recognizes that bloggers are 21st-century journalists,” Mr. (Norman) Siegel, a noted civil liberties lawyer who has announced plans to run for public advocate next year, said in a phone interview. “It’s an important first step, but only a first step, because we still need to address the constitutional problem of who gets press credentials in New York City. The Police Department should not be in the business of determining who’s a journalist.”

All three of the men had previously held press credentials, which need to be renewed annually. Their applications for renewal were denied in 2007.

In Newburyport, of course, a press pass is hardly necessary. Sometimes all that's necessary is walking up clutching a reporter's notebook (although rather pricey, I've found through actual experience that holding one lends more credibility).

But this decision by the NYC police to relent and give the men their credentials (after they had filed a lawuit, of course) is a step forward. I guess.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I was outside earlier, shoveling even MORE snow (another 8 inches - just what we needed), and I got to thinking:

I lived in Boston for 20 years. I paid less rent, did not have to pay for my own heat, water, or sewer ... and NEVER had to shovel even one flake of snow on my own behalf (may have shoveled for family members). Didn't need to own a car ...

When is winter over again?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Like a penguin

I was darting through the web, looking for places that produce good content, and I came across a reference to this from - a graphic guide on how to walk on ice.

I was particularly amused by the illustration of the man falling (slide 3). I never look that graceful when I'm falling - and I tend to fall at least once every winter.

I once fell down the icy steps at the Symphony T stop, in Boston. Because no one else was around, it wasn't nearly as embarrassing as the time, as a teenager, I fell in the icy road right before getting on the school bus in rural Michigan, in front of my fellow students.

My skirt flew up as I went down. Back then, girls weren't allowed to wear pants to school, not to mention that my mother wouldn't have let me, even if they had.

As I was saying to someone just last night, I fell this year on Christmas Eve, in my parents' yard in Gloucester (it was like an ice rink out there).

I fell forward, which in a way was my saving grace. The rest of my person was rescued by my huge tracts of land ... that wasn't the descriptor that either I or the woman I was talking to used to describe our feminine bits.

We were using the word that rhymes with "tubes."

The discussion came to a lame halt when a man entered the kitchen (the site of the discussion). He seemed a tad discomfited, so I explained what we were talking about. He muttered something about how it was probably best not to ask any questions and fled the scene.

I once fell not once, but 3 times walking up Newbury St. in Boston several winters ago. Three times on my left knee, upon which I had had surgery when I still lived in Michigan. Ouch.

There really is no "good" way to walk on ice, unless your boots have spikes. I'm sure even penguins slip, sometimes (Don't they slide around on their little butts? Or am I confusing an animated movie with reality?). Penguins don't have spikes, so they just go with the flow ... or floe ...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Draft agreement - Everett - Wood Waste

A message from Anonymous in Everett (I think - could be here, though):

Here is a copy of the draft consent agreement as it appeared in the Independent on December 23rd. I'd bet money that it has gone thru some changes since then though.

This agreement made this ____ day of January, 2008 by and between the City of Everett, a municipal corporation duly organized under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and located at City Hall, 484 Broadway, Everett, Massachusetts 02149, acting by and through its Board of Health, hereinafter referred to as the “Board of Health,” and Wood Waste of Boston, Inc., a Massachusetts corporation having a usual place of business at 80-87 Boston Street, Everett, Massachusetts 02149 (hereinafter referred to as “Wood Waste”).

WHEREAS, Wood Waste operates a transfer facility (the “Facility”) in the City of Everett under license by the Department of Environmental Protection (the “Department”); and

WHEREAS, the Facility is licensed to store and process construction and demolition (“C&D”) material; and

WHEREAS, C&D material is approved by the Department as shaping and grading material for the final closure of landfills; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Health has received numerous complaints in relation to odor and dust regarding the Facility; and

WHEREAS, the material at the Facility is designated for placement at a landfill in Newburyport (the “Landfill”); and

WHEREAS, the City of Newburyport has not authorized the increased amount of C&D material to be placed at the Landfill which has resulted in the piles of C&D material remaining at the Facility for a longer period of time than intended; and

WHEREAS, there is litigation pending in Suffolk Superior Court that is intended to resolve this legal question in 2008 or in early 2009; and

WHEREAS, neither the federal government nor the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has adopted a standard for the level of H2S discharged to the atmosphere to have a negative public health impact; and

WHEREAS, the parties desire to avoid the time and expense associated with litigation.

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the following mutual agreements, the parties hereto agree as follows:

1) Wood Waste will continue to disperse odor-controlling agents at the Facility to keep H2S levels below industry guidance and will maintain personnel at the site to monitor odors from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wood Waste will spray the piles daily and the piles will be tarped to maintain dust control. The Board of Health will be provided with a schedule prior to the execution of this Agreement as to when the spraying will be conducted. Odor misting machines will be set up on the perimeter and will be disbursed as necessary in addition to the daily scheduled spraying. Street sweeping and water truck spraying will take place at least once per day and as needed to reduce dust. The Board of Health or its designee(s) are authorized to monitor the site at any given time to ensure the measures are being taken to control said odor and dust issues.

2) Wood Waste agrees to process all new C&D material coming into the Facility and to ship same out on a weekly basis so that the piles will not expand.

3) Wood Waste represents that the Department approved a site plan for construction of a new enclosed facility. Wood Waste has purchased land at 111 Boston Street (Adams Furniture) to modify its enclosed facility plans for a more environmentally friendly and efficient facility.

4) No later than March 1, 2009, Wood Waste agrees that it will submit the necessary application and plans to the Department seeking approval of the Boston Street/Route 16 Facility modifications for an enclosed facility to be constructed.

5) B.O.H. The Board of Health is authorized to monitor the piles so that it is regulated in the manner set forth above to determine compliance with this Agreement.

6) The Board of Health agrees that it will not issue any orders under the provisions of any statutory or regulatory authority provided that Wood Waste is in compliance with this Agreement in relation to odor and dust issues specifically enumerated in this Agreement.

7) Prior to taking any steps to enforce this Agreement, the parties agree that they will give the alleged breaching party at least seven (7) days notice to cure said breach. If the breach continues, the Board may exercise its enforcement discretion and seek penalties in the Middlesex Superior Court up to the fullest extent of the law.

8) This Agreement shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the parties hereto submit to the jurisdiction of its courts for the adjudication of disputes arising out of this Agreement.

9) This Agreement may be executed in one or more counterparts, each of which shall constitute an original.

Signed as of the date and year above first written.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Thank you!

Dear Anonymous from 4:05 today,

Thank you for your comment, which I am holding pending further investigation and probable story writing for the Newburyport Current (can't scoop myself).

Thank you!

It's, like, the rave

I was, like, reading this here letter to the editor in the Daily News called "Expressions better left unsaid."

Here it is, in full:

Call me old-fashioned, call me critical and you can even call me ridiculous, but one thing that I pride myself on is speaking the English language correctly.

What has happened to the way that we speak? I am referring to two expressions that have become so prevalent in our society that it annoys the heck out of me.

The first one is using the word "like" in the wrong context and using it too frequently. I hear people everyday saying, "I'm 'like'" or "He's 'like'" in just about every sentence that's spoken. Where did that come from? Is this the right way to talk? Not for me. It sounds very juvenile and just shouldn't be said, in my opinion.

The other expression that I hear that absolutely drives me up a wall is the word "goes" and the singular of goes, that being "go." When a person is describing a conversation that one has had with another, such as, "I was talking to so and so the other day," they always say, "He 'goes'" or "She 'goes,'" instead of saying it the correct way, that being he or she "said" or he or she "said to me" or the singular "I go."

We all live in an imperfect world, that is a fact; however, I would hope that we can learn to speak the way we we're taught in school, and those two aforementioned expressions, I feel certain, were not the correct way to speak.
People commenting online point out the typing (or other) gaffe in the last paragraph (in red), but hey ... my pet peeve is extraneous apostrophes!

I remember the first time I noticed someone saying "like" every other word. It was an interview with Greg Hawkes, keyboardist for the pop group The Cars. It struck me as very odd (I believe I was still living in Michigan, or had just moved out here).

Actually, I still think it's odd. Why add extra, unnecessary words into your sentences, man?

I find myself saying it, all the time. I'm trying to stop cuz it's, like, weird.

Nipple Mania v. Facebook

Check out this young man, who is waging a war (of sorts) with Facebook over the site's policy of not allowing photos that include nipples.

Only women's nipples, of course.

So he made an artistic rendering of himself, made totally with small photos of his nips, and used it as his profile pic on Facebook.

He's even got a vid on iReport, which is accessible through

Strangely enough, most of the comments on his blog support the ban on (women's) nipples.

I agree. EWWWW, nipples! How gross!

Good grief.

Although there is one interesting comment, in which a reader asks, "Why did Michelangelo give Adam a Belly button?"

Think about it.

Another snow storm?

"Good fertile storm breeding ground" is how Matt Noyes is describing the area (in the midwest, of course) from whence the storm is coming - TONIGHT.

Oh sleet and freezing rain, too.

Does 2-4" constitute a "snow storm?"

It's just a weather event!

Was she really a brat?

I was re-reading To Kill A Mockingbird over the weekend.

I had failed to do so during last year's The Big Read; in fact, having read it, I wonder if I had previously read it at all. This is how movies based on books skew your brain.

On The Big Read website, it says Scout is "bratty." I think the character is profoundly interesting - but then, I always did like bratty kids better than goody-two-shoes ones (being one of the latter myself).

My copy, obtained used at Jabberwocky, is obviously a cast off from last year's program. I would rather have the book in hardcover, but I can't see myself ever casting this paperback off to the shelves of the used book room.

Reading the story sort of reminded me of Newburyport, or any other small town with a history you could name.

And in that, I saw the value of a relatively insular community, where everyone knows your name, indignities are avoided, and hostilities simmer down after a while.

Well, if the hostilities are felt by a decent, reasonable person, that is.

Oh, well ... social strata aside, I was amazed at how parent-child relationships have changed and how children used to be able to roam about the neighborhood without fear ... oh, wait. But that was an isolated incident.

Nowadays one would be startled if a child called his/her father "sir." And I rarely see children roaming around unchaperoned, even though *wow* if I were a kid, I'd sure want to be out on the marsh, down on the Refuge, out on the water ... without parental oversight.

How can you hear the call of a loon (the bird) if you've got an iPod hooked to your person?

I can remember lying in a field of tall grass, just staring up at the sky, for long periods of time. I never went swimming by myself when I was little, but we went sledding, explored the woods (not too far, though - I was, and still am, scared of woods), climbed trees, and basically spent most of the day outside.

A great work of social commentary (although last summer, my neighbor wanted to kill one of our neighborhood mockingbirds because it was carrying on all night).

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." - Atticus Finch

Friday, January 2, 2009

Let them eat cake

I was just perusing the Daily News website and came across this story from today about Rep. Costello and Sen. Baddour spending $49,000 on food and stuff in the last 2 years.

Picking up the $49,000 food tab: Baddour, Costello run up big bills at restaurants

It's said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

That's an idea that both state Sen. Steven Baddour and state Rep. Michael Costello embrace.

Between them, they spent $49,000 on food during the past two-year election cycle. Their food choices ranged from high-end steak houses like Ruth's Chris, to popular neighborhood eateries like Shadi's in Baddour's native Methuen.

Both insist the money they spent on food is all about politics, rewarding supporters and winning alliances.

Kind of snarky, huh? Just when I had posted about news stories not being like blogs!

What I want to know is, what is the source for this information? I'm not saying it ain't true - I just want to know where the info came from. Basic reporting stuff ...

Hey, I saw Mike Costello eating lunch in a fine establishment in town a couple of months ago - it was Angie's! (For those of you who don't live here, Angie's is a .... ummmmm ... local diner place. Vinyl booths and the like.)

I guess coming from the corporate world, I don't have a personal gripe with this.

When I worked in Boston, I rarely was taken to Subway for work-related lunches. Hell, even when I worked in Newburyport, "work lunches" were never at Angie's and dinners were always at places like Glenn's, Ten Center or Mission Oak Grill when it was that Kiwi place.

You know, places I don't go when I have to pay for myself! I know, it's taxpayer money. But when some CEO takes his cronies out to lunch, we pay for that, too. Now if these guys were getting free food ...

Not making excuses, but I was in Boston's Back Bay a few months ago and I noticed a definite lower number of moderately-priced eateries from when I lived there. *sigh*

That's part of why I moved away ... but I do miss the city sometimes.

Virus alert

Funny how when someone says "virus" now, I immediately assume (usually correctly) that they refer to a computer virus.

Apparently there's a new one going around that has a subject line referring to an acceptance speech by Obama.


And not a moment too soon ... the Rte. 1A bridge re-opens on Monday, according to this story in the Daily News.

I can't wait ... wow, my weekly trips to Gloucester shortened by at least 15 minutes and the trip down/over will be interesting again to boot.

I'm psyched.

Now if we could just get the Hines Bridge fixed ...

Circling the drain

I found this interesting post on the website of The Ann Arbor (MI) chronicle. It's a column about the Ann Arbor News, a daily newspaper.

This section here could relate to any daily newspaper (and does):

The publisher of the Detroit News, Jonathan Wolman, was in town in early December as part of a panel discussion titled “The First Amendment, Freedom of the Press and the Future of Journalism,” held at the Ford Library. As partners in The Ann Arbor Chronicle, my husband and I have a deeply vested interest in exploring this topic – it’s our future, too.

Based on what the panelists had to say, that future involves a tumult of technology – news delivered via Twitter, video, podcasts, blogs, live-blogging, social networks like Facebook and others methods yet to be invented. These different forms require attention – someone has to file a Tweet, shoot and edit video, record the podcast, get these things into some kind of presentable form and post them on whatever platform they’re using. Often, that someone has evolved to be the reporter. That doesn’t include time spent doing what the job originally entailed: Preparing, researching, reporting, writing, editing, rewriting and, god forbid, just working the beat.

With fewer people employed at news organizations, each person is asked to do more of these things. At some point, something’s got to give. Vincent Duffy, news director at Michigan Radio, said at the Ford Library forum that typically what gets shorter shrift is attention to the story itself.

Technology is also behind the news in other ways. All of the panelists said they factored in website traffic – specifically, what stories online drew the most readers – when deciding what to cover next. They all looked at that data as part of their daily news meetings, when editors discuss how to allocate their staff resources, what kind of “play” a story will get or whether it’s worth covering at all.

I guess this could be seen as the democratization of media – readers are essentially voting on what they’re most interested in, be it Britney or bailouts. But it also seems like an abdication of responsibility, when newsroom leaders throw up their hands and say, “Hey – we wanted to cover the war in Iraq, but our readers were clamoring for cute puppy stories.” It’s happening at a time when newsrooms need more leadership and vision, not less.
I guess I wish that I could have made this blog a real site for news (actually, there's no guessing involved), but that is economically not feasible (it takes too much time to verify everything when I'm not being compensated for the time). I wish all the stuff that is going on in Newburyport got better coverage and maybe The Liberator does indeed fill that gap.

It's very sad that people don't want to read a paper anymore, but I've said it here before and I'll say it again - the printed news is too dry and people want emotion. Not emotion by the reporter, but emotion from the reporter (as in, conveying it).

It's not enough to say "neighbors of the landfill have reported health effects they attribute to the former dump site," or words to that effect. But that is all that is said.

There's a reason why reality shows and blogs are so popular while newspapers are failing. Blogs are reality shows; newspapers are stuck in some era that I suspect is fairly recent. I have copies of old newspapers and you can feel the thrust of an emotional story.

It probably coincides with people writing for newspapers being labeled "journalists." Blogs are journals in every sense of the word; newspapers are not.

What I always find interesting is how, when a newspaper (and I lay the blame there because there are - or were - people called fact checkers) makes a mistake, very rarely is there a complaint by the person of whom the paper has run afoul. Everyone seems to expect mistakes.

Now isn't that just sad?

Landfill: a 'thank you' to a Port resident

A comment from an anonymous reader in Everett:

I just wanted to leave a note to thank a Newburyport resident, Gloria Braunhardt for a lovely letter to the Editor in the City of Everett’s Leader Herald newspaper, informing the residents of Everett of just a bit of what’s been happening in Newburyport. We have not seen anything like that in our newspapers, all we hear is propaganda from the DeMaria administration. Week after week, they try and paint Wood Waste as being angels and the saviors of Everett. Mr. Thibeault has been paying to have these propaganda articles in the newspapers however, when an Alderman disputes what he says, and writes his own article, Mr. Thibeault just opens his wallet and has to have the last word, and keep repeating himself, of how great he is. Many, many people in Everett can see that Mr. Thiebault did not write these articles, they are the exact replica wording and formatting of the Mayor DeMaria’s Chief of Staff, so it’s blatantly obvious that the city of Everett is in trouble. Thank you Ms. Braunhardt, if you read this blog.
Of course, I cannot find said letter on the paper's website ... because there does not seem to be one!

But I do see over on Tom Salemi's blog that the landfill is kicking butt (his words) in his poll of big stories of 2008.