Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Hey Jason Wolfe, isn't that just as bad, if not worse, than John DePetro calling Grace Ross a fat lesbian? Can we expect Callahan on the bread line tomorrow morning? Please advise.
It would be, if Steve Garfield hadn't covered this ground yesterday. Sure, maybe the Globe was already on the story, but I doubt it. Steve posted his stuff at 8:24 a.m. yesterday. I think it's pretty clear the Globe saw his post and decided to follow up on the point. Would it have killed the writer, Bruce Mohl, to credit Steve in the paper?
That's so cheap.
Monday, November 13, 2006
I have four cavities. Four. How does that even happen? At leas they're "tiny" cavities, as my dentist cheerfully pointed out. I mentioned this before; she's really nice, even when telling me I'd be better off buying a new jaw at a local morgue.
Ok, she didn't say that. But I can tell that's what she meant.
It doesn't stop there, of course. I also need braces. It's like high school all over again. And what really kills me is I'll need braces because of previous dental work; my teeth are shifting because my wisdom teeth came out last year. Solving one problem in the back of my mouth led to me looking like Grace Ross in the front of my mouth. Aces.
But the icing on the cake has to be the now-necessary implant for a lingering baby tooth. The "adult" tooth was impacted and removed when I was like 12, so nothing ever pushed lil' baby out. But now baby's loose and ready to leave home and find an apartment in Allston somewhere. So I need an implant. That means they are going to push a screw into my jaw to hold down a fake tooth.
And of course, no one dentist can do any more than one of these things, so I'll see my regular dentist for the cavity, an orthodontist for the braces and a periodontist for the screw job. It's like I'm the golden goose of Revere dentistry. Yeesh.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
There are a couple of things that make me think things are not occuring organically:
1. These top stories are listed according to e-mailed recommendations made within the last hour
2. The top stories all ran days earlier
Here's a screenshot of the top rankings at about 10 a.m. this morning:
The top story? It's LaGuer, which originally ran Oct. 4! All of a sudden, 262 people saw this and had to recommend it to their friend? Three weeks later? Same thing with the second story, which is about Patrick donating money towards a DNA test for LaGuer, which ran Oct. 5.
Remember, today's Oct. 24.
It doesn't just go one way, though, as a friend pointed out to me. A lot of recent "top stories" on boston.com have been about women's groups endorsing Patrick, Criminologists hating on Healey, and lawyers defending Patrick.
So you tell me: How do these weeks-old stories all of a sudden become super popular? Is it that hard to imagine both campaigns putting an intern in front of a computer to send out recommendations all day and keep stories up in the mix?
To test my hypothesis further, I just e-mailed a story (Girls Soccer Stars!) to five people at once, and it showed up on the list as one recommendation. So when we talk about 262 recommendations, that's 262 times people looked at the article, clicked on the "e-mail to a friend" link, and sent the article to a buddy. So 262 people in the past hour decided to e-mail out a three-week old story that's dominated the headlines and commercials for nearly a month? C'mon now.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
It's about time the tolls were pulled out. I don't understand why transportation (roads, rail, busses, and subway) requires a user-based fee system for its maintenance and repair, rather than paying for it out of the tax rate. We all live in this state, and my tax dollars are being spent to pay for schools, cops, fire depts, etc all across the state. If it weren't for the state's tax dollars, cities like Lawrence and Springfield would have no public services. As a taxpayer, I pay for rape crisis centers all across the state, not just in my area code. And that's how it should be. We are a commonwealth, after all.
But if you insist that there's a good reason to make this a regional issue, try this on for size. My Plan B theory, which I came up with right now: Kill the tolls on the pike and replace them with a gas tax. Use that money to cover the expense of repairs to the pike itself and to funding the Big Dig bonds. What's left over should be used on road projects across the state. That's on top of normal yearly appropriations, of course.
Next split the state into five parts: North Shore, Boston, South Shore/Cape, Central and Western. The tax collected in each region can be used exclusively on projects within that area. So repairs can be made to bridges and roadways across the state evenly and according to road use in each area. And they can finally pave the road to Springfield. That's not ideal, but it could work.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
What's a five-day old story doing on top of the most e-mailed stories of the day?
So I clicked on the "Full List" link for the most popyular story page. That takes you to a list of the most e-mailed stories in the past hour. The Anti-Patrick story had been sent out 247 times. Here's a screenshot:
When I went to look at the daily list (most e-mailed in the day), I saw the story had been sent 303 times:
And for the past week, the story had only been e-mailed 330 times:
So what's the deal? How did this story all of a sudden go from less than 100 recommendations in five days to 247 in an hour? Did a big blog link to the article? Or is some Healey fan or the Healey campaign itself sitting around e-mailing this article to everyone? Are there Shenanigans afoot? Seems so to me.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Subway and trolley rides would go from $1.25 to $1.70, bus fares from 90 cents to $1.25, and most commuter rail passes would cost 22 percent more.
Riders who pay cash or use automated fare CharlieTickets instead of CharlieCards, which will become available next month, would have to fork over 25 cents more to ride buses and 30 cents more to ride subways and trolleys. Under the original proposal issued in April, the surcharge would have been 40 cents for bus and 55 cents for subways and trolleys.
I came close to calling it a few months ago:
If I had to make a guess, the T will offer transfer to CharlieTicket riders and keep the increase at $1.70, instead of retreating on the final increase amount itself.
I suppose that's a good impetus to get people using the credit card style Charlie Cards, but still, it soaks the casual T user who has no idea there's a caste system for fares.
I live next to Wonderland. As a terminus, it attacts a lot of casual users coming to Boston from the North Shore every weekend. Now I get to deal with irate dads, confused old people, and stupid teenagers from Swampscott clogging up the Charlie pass machines, trying to figure out why their fare costs more than everyone else's. Awesome.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Take the recent case of Republican Rep. Mark Foley, who has resigned after sexually charged e-mails and IMs he sent to minors were uncovered. The Republican leadership apparently knew about this almost a year ago, and squashed it rather than chase Foley out of his position.
The problem couldn't be any clearer: A Republican was sexually
exploiting underage staff members, and the GOP leadership knew all
Instead of saying just that, though, here's what Nancy Pelosi wrote to
the Ethics Committe, knowing full well it was her money quote:
``It is a nightmare for every child, parent, and grandparent to learn
that a child is being stalked on the Internet by an adult in a
position of authority," House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrat
of California, wrote yesterday to the Ethics Committee. ``The fact
that Mr. Foley was engaging in this behavior with underage children,
that the Republican leadership knew about it for six months to a year
and has characterized the inappropriate behavior as `overly friendly'
and `acting as a mentor' and that apparently no action was taken to
protect these underage children is abhorrent."
Instead of saying what everyone else is thinking ("what bastards!"),
she turns it into a treatise on how to say nothing by saying every
damn thing in your head.
She starts with a preamble on why sexual expliotation is bad. That's
followed by one sentence that makes seven different points, some
redundant, all completely clouded by crowding and a passive voice:
1. Foley did what we said was bad in the first sentence
2. The child was underage, which is redundant
3. GOP leaders knew about it for some indeterminate amount of time
4. They pooh-poohed it using awful euphamisms
5. They didn't do anything to stop it.
6. These kids, again, are underage
7. It's abhorrent!
Why not say this instead:
"Mark Foley--a congressman!--exploited and sexually preyed on
children. Republican leaders knew about this, but chose to cover it up
instead. Why? To protect their hold on power in this chamber. They
sacrificed the safety of children for the sake of an election."
The point is clear, language is active, and is a better quote for the
newspapers. And that was after a two minute pass at a rewrite. I'm
sure all of us can come up with better if we had a little more time.
Seriously, who's writing this stuff for her?
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Apparently, the scourge that is my mom has to be stopped.
I mean, hey, that whole habeas thing is a bit overrated anyway, right? Sure, it's been a cornerstone of our code of laws for 791 years, but Alba seems to have changed everything. Seriously, mom, what did you do?
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Did he come on too strong? My initial reaction was yes, a little, but afterwards the most vivid memory is of him hammering Healy on the Big Dig, so maybe going that big with an attack was useful. Also, he still came away as likable, sort of like your irascible but fun uncle.
I think the guy moved the needle a little bit and may clip some of Healy's support among independents and may nibble at some really conservative voters, which is bad news for Healy.
Patrick did alright in that he didn't implode. He landed a few good shots, but mostly could hang back and look reasonable because Grace Ross was staking out way-liberal stances and Mihos brought the shovel to smack Kerry Healy. He shined in comparison to Healy thanks to the work of the other two candidates. All in all, a good night's work.
Kerry Healy was playing defense all night, and then was flat when she touched her bread and butter issues (taxes, illegal immigration, the balance of power in the state). At times, she was literally fending off three players at once, especially during the Big Dig segment. You have to wonder if Republican Presidential hopefuls were watching how the Big Dig plays against Healy. The same failure to recognize and react to the problem could tar Romney in the primaries 14 months from now.
Grace Ross was certainly the most liberal person on the panel, but she wore it with a smart common people theme, and used softer language to describe her positions. Sort of a Class Warrior without the sword. She came off well, even if she was a bit unfocused earlier in the debate.
Monday, September 25, 2006
6:01 p.m. What's with the HBO Boxing After Dark intro graphics? "OK< JIM, the debate is scheduled for 12 rounds followng the unified rules..."
6:02 p.m. Taxes: Patrick: $980M in new taxes and fees under Republicans! And I'll hypnotize local towns to lower property taxes, even though I have no way to actually make that happen. Ross: Huh? Mihos: Towns are starving thanks to Healy and Romney! Healy: We don't need no stinking taxes! (hole empty answer on her main issue)
6:05 p.m. Property taxes and budget shirtfalls: Healy: People are leaving because of the taxes? I thought it was because there aren't any more jobs. Collectivized healthcare purchasing is a good idea. Patrick: Again with the $980M in new taxes under Republicans. Seems kinda tinny to me. Ross: (what the Hell is she wearing?) Help to the small businesses by increasing the minimum wage? Mihos: Big Dig is to blame? What?
6:08 p.m. How can you roll back both the income tax and property tax? Mihos: WE HAVE TO DO IT! More Big Dig, and a shot at the Sox. Healy: "My opponent Deval patrick" and special interests (Message to Mihos and Ross: Screw you!) Patrick: Special Interests Healy's talking about were the Massachusetts congressional delegation. First clean point of the debate goes to Patrick. Ross: Huh?
6:10 p.m. Patrick breaks in: We all agree on creating pportunities and job growth. Healy: Agrees to increase local aid. Stronger on rolling back income tax to 5%. "They deserve the roll back." Ross to Healy: You have the power to Veto. Where were you? Mihos: (yelling again) "That's what we're sick of in this state...throwing bombs at each other." Heh.
6:12 p.m. Affordable Housing: Ross: If we had a system that was flat for all taxes, we'd have about $3B more, mostly from people on the top. Now is openly soliciting for a sweetheart land deal. Mihos: "We're overtaxed." "This state is unafordable/, that's why people are leaving in record numbers." It appears Mihos is wholesale stealing Healy's playbook while poking her in the eye. Healy: Patrick took a pledge with AFL-CIO! How can you negotiate for the state? Patrick: I never traded a quid pro quo (ed-cough, cough, cough).
6:15 p.m. Voter questions introduced my Maria Stephanos! MCAS: Patrick: In favor, but we "slap it on top of school systems already under strain." Remedial programs. Other measures of child's progress. Ross: "We have a generation now that may not make it out of high school." Test is the reason why, apparently. No Mittens in school in winter! Mihos: "Fist to come out against" MCAS. More local funding. "It was a tool, it's now a weapon." (great line). Healy: It's not about funding, it's about standards. (to deval): You were against it before you were for it. wicked flat reposte)
6:18 p.m. Ilegal immigrants going to college: Healy: I will always be opposed to that proposal. We should use that money to lower tuition for students who are citizens. Patrick: I disagree, but there are good points on both sides. "People are not coming here for in-state tuition, they're coming here for jobs." Healy/Romney support businesses that hire out illegal immigrants. Ross: Immigrants who work here pay taxes here! Mihos: Used work illegal one, two, three, four times. Drags healy's husband into this, connects her to GWB. Healy: (Can't get a word in edge-wise as Mihos hectors her to respond to his silly attack).
6:22 p.m. Illegal immigrant driver licenses: Patrick: I want to know the name and faces of the people who are here. (good line, delivered flat). "People aren't coming here for driver's licenses, they're coming here for jobs." Ross: "What we really need to look at is what happened to our economy." Has nothing to say about drivers licenses. Mihos: "The Democrats want their votes, the Republicans want cheap labor." (to Healy) How many corporations has your administration fined for using illegal immigrants. Healy: It's Ton Reilly's fault! (point to Mihos) License is "most basic form of identification" in this country. If illegals have livceneses, they win...
6:24 p.m. (to Mihos) Would you push to arrest illegals driving w/o a license? Mihos: Yes, and I'll call INS (ed-which no longer exists) Healy: Calls Mihos on INS and agrees to lock up people driving. Matter of right or wrong. Patrick: It's a matter of priorities. With gun and gang violence "soaring" there's more important things for cops to focus on. Work with Kennedy and Kerry for "real solutions." Ross: Illegal immigrants make the worst wages. (to Mihos) You cry about the companies, but you want to go after the individuals (point to Ross). Use cops to stop drugs!
Shonda Schilling has a question! (Wow, it's missus bloody ankle!) Question on teacher merit pay: Healy: Love it! And let's give incentives for good teachers to work in underperforming schools. Mihos: You can call me Christy, and I'm against merit pay. Make these decisions at the local level, not from "elites up on beacon Hill." (Oy.) Ross: Best measure of school performance is how much money a town has. Tells an unfocused anecdote about class size. Patrick: Loves incentives to draw teachers to underperforming schools. Likes merit pay "in a way that encourages collaboration, bot doesn't defeat it."
6:30 p.m. To Patrick: It's a (an?) historic election: What has changes that Mass mihtbe second state to elect an African-American governor, or first female gov. in Mass history, or first independent. Why's Mass ready for a black governor? Patrick: If that was the only issue, I wouldn't win. I'm black, but I'm also a successful businessman, have led in gov't., in non-profits, yada, yada, yada. "Checked out, check back in" makes it's first appearance in the debate. Ross: The critical issue is race WIll be a critical factor, anyone who says otherwise isn't telling the truth. So will gender. Mihos: (Good God, this guy's got a tan. It's Geaorge Hamilton-esque). Republicans suck! Democrats suck too! Everyone is an indempendent now! Healy: The reason why people support me is I understand what it takes to make Mass more affordable. Auto rates, etc.
6:33 p.m. To Healy: Which policy do you identify closely with Romney? Least identfy? Healy: Most with fiscal restraint, least with abortion. Patrick: "Fiscal disciple is the responsibility of any governor." "prine economic pump." (Dud is smooth). Third time he mentions $980M in taxes and fees. Ross: Prison is too expensive! Shelters are too expensive, let's put people in housing. Republicans are wasting our money. Mihos: Now stealing Patrick's $980M line. Raised gas tax. "Ask a barber on the street what's happened to his license!" (ed- I love this guy) Cut to commercial. In a debate? Classy move, Fox 25!
6:38 p.m. And we're back.
6:38:30 p.m. To Mihos: How are you not just a spoiler out to screw Kerry Healy? Mihos: "How can you spoil a system that's rotten?" (good line). Big Dig is proof everything's FUBAR. Jane Swift violated Christy's civil rights, and Healy cheered her on! Mihos just stole Patrick's checking out nostrom. Healy "You're my hero, Christy." If Deval wins, we'll go back to the Dukakis era where there's only one party in control (ed- It took you 40 mionutes to hit your biggest selling point?) Patrick: People want broader experience. Big Dig was a grea tproject, but there were huge problems and there was hardly any attention paid to this. Ross: I make about $20K-$30K a year, and these peeps are super rich! "They have no clue what the rest of us face."
6:42 p.m. To Ross: Why are you even here? Ross: We need to talk to real people about real issues. "It's called trying to rebuild democracy." She's totally pulling at my Nader heart strings. Patrick: I grew up on public assistance. We're not about drawing divisions, we want to build community. Healy: Balance is about to be lost on Beacon Hill (Did she just concede)? If it weren't for me and Romney, a cap gains tax would have been retroactively applied! Mihos: I'm spending my kid's inheritance to run! Ross to Patrick; I didn't say you were divisive! I'm saying 60% of us are in a recession!
6:46 p.m. Voter Question! How we gonna keep businesses here, creating jobs? Ross: All of the tax breaks are going to the top brackets and corporations! We need real universal health coverage. Healy: If we're serious about job creation, roll back the income tax! And let's work on our permitting process. Mihos: I AM a small business owner! We can't afford to live here! Whoa, he "agrees with Kerry on this issue." Patrick: Permittign needs to be fixed. We need to connect good ideas with capital. Fix the roads!
Why is no one looking into the camera? Isn't this like debating 101?
6:49 p.m. Big Dig: To Mihos: What responsibility do you bear? (meatball down the middle for Mihos) Mihos: Fired for speaking up, voted to recoup funds from bechtel, voted for oversight, took Matt Amorello to court for documentation. Romney/Healy allowed the Big Dig's property manager to sign off on the commonwealth's responsibilities! Healy: Wanted to merge MadssHighway and Turnpike Auth. (yawn). It took a tragedy to get the merger done. Patrick: "That stem to stern review was promised when" thre Romney admin. came in. Healy isn't taking respnsibility for her failures in Big Dig. Healy responds: We totally have done an independent review. Patrick again: And it took a death and that is a "shocking shame." Ross: You shoulda had every contractor in your (healy's) office and demand they fess up now! Mihos: Hitting hard on Healy. "Two people are dead today because you did nothing. (woulda scored a point except he's coming off WAY too hard). You are paying the companies everyday!
6:54 p.m. To healy: Romney was late into the Big Dig game, right? Healy: We were totally interested in doing something, but no one would give us any information. What could we do? Patrick: I commend the gov and lt. gov for your work since the accident. But the point is leadership is taking on the problem from day one, not making excuses (scoring big points.) Ross: Both Patrick and Healy have taking money from Big Dig contractors. Cashman wants permits for LNG in Fall River and new Wind Mills. There should be no new permits until everything's straightened out. Mihos: The Big Dig is the state's project. Everything has to be voted on by THEIR Hwy Dpt. "This intentional indifference to blame everyone except themselves is what has caused this mess."
6:57 p.m. Sick time abuses. what can you do to stop this from happening? Patrick: I'll stop it! Ross: We need collaborative leadership! Mihos: Independent Authorities "poster childs" for what's wrong w/ Mass. Amorello totally paid himself and his "hacks" off with sick time, vacation time, etc. Healy: Independents were supposed to remove politics. What they did was remove responsibility. I'll fix 'em! Then she blanked on UMASS.
6:59 p.m. Question from Jasper White: How you gonna help fishermen while protecting the environment? Mihos: Screw Cape Wind! Ross: "The Fisher Industry has also suffered greatly." "We have to increase agricultural and fishing and those sort of things." healy: Fighting in Washington to protect our fishermen. Patrick: We all love Jasper's cooking! Fishermen are drug addicts? What?
7:02 p.m. Mr. Patrick has asked for everyone to run a clean campaign. Shouldn't you be ready to handle criticism and sharp elbows as a governor? Patrick: I can handle it, but let's all get along and work together on stuff. Ross: I totally agree with Deval. Mihos: I want to give people a chance to listen to the issues. Wants a discussion on the issues after hitting Healy with a sledge hammer for an hour. Healy: Word, let's keep it clean. I want Deval to tell the 527s to not participate in the campaign. Patrick: Don't associate me with those 527s!
7:06 p.m. Closings: Ross: I was a community organizaer. We should all have a voice! "the heart of massachusetts is a just heart."
7:07 p.m. Healy: thanks the sponsors (second time tonight). I see and I believe in higher stds in our schools, more charter schools, merit pay. DP oppposes those positions. "Under Deval Patrick, taxes would only go up." Deval's soft of crime!
7:08 p.m. Mihos: "I love this state. That's the only reason I'm running for governor." I'm the only person here FROM this state! "Everything I have is here; this is my home. Massachusetts is worth the fight." Christy's Proposition One is on my Web site!
7:09 p.m. Patrick: Every election is about a choice. I want us to be about the politics of hope. Everyone has ideas, but those ideas don't go anywhere without leadership. I'm totally a leader. "I'm not asking anyone to take a change on me: I'm asking you to take a chance on your aspirations."
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
It gets better: It wasn't everything about Jesus that was stupid, just the whole forgiveness thing. You know, love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, "forgive them father, they know not what they do." That thing.
I'm not even religious, and I found that offensive.
The duo were talking about the nun in Mogadishu who was shot by Muslim extremists as a response to the Pope's speech last week. As she lay dying, she mumbled "I forgive you" over and over.
This had Callahan tied in fits, saying she was an idiot for forgiving two guys who shot her, and that her action essentially gave them permission to kill more nuns. When John Dennis calmly tried to explain that she was trying to emulatre Christ, and retold the whole "forgive them father" story, Callahan called Jesus stupid for forgiving the people who killed him.
Never mind that it's the basis of the entire Christian belief system. Forgiving others is stupid, because it gets in the way of Gerry's bloodlust and the President's political interests. What a jerk.
Dreams? As in, "My hope to be the next governor is a dream?"
Monday, September 18, 2006
There are competing interests in this race: The best interests of Massachusetts and the best interests of the Democratic Party. These are the interests presented by the candidates. And while most voters don't necessarily care about the health of any one political party, I do.
Tom Reilly, unfortunately, is not a good fit for either role. His deplorable performance in the first televised debate was the latest in a string of gaffes, and that shows that he's a good guy who isn't ready for the type of politics a governor must deal with on a day to day basis. He may have won the second debate, but the fire he showed then was tempered by the first debate's ersatz cries of indignation over the release of readily-available financial records.
Both Patrick and Chris Gabrieli, however, would be good governors, I suspect. Gabrieli has shown a better grasp of the finer details of policymaking and would thus be a stronger player on Beacon Hill.
Gabrieli is also more committed to the job. A governor Gabrieli would run for re-election until his own wake. This is his ceiling as a politician; Good humor aside, he's not built for a federal race at any level. And this seems like a job he wants, and not a weigh station for bigger and better things. As governor, Gabrieli would work hard for the interests of the state.
So would Patrick, although perhaps not as effectively as Gabrieli. Yet.
That's the second consideration in this election: Deval Patrick is still green, but he's a candidate that is built for higher office. The Democratic Party needs to develop candidates for national offices, and Patrick could be a key player in that.
I am very wary of giving the governor's office to another politician angling for a different job, but Patrick has the dynamism, charisma, and ideas that will translate well into a senatorial bid. He even has the build of a presidential candidate. I'm not running the guy for president just yet; I'm just saying his background, public speaking abilities, policy ideas and charisma are the foundations of a presidential candidate. Whether he has the temperament is still a question, especially after the second debate last week.
The larger picture is a candidate who will do a good job as governor, and has the ability to learn on the job and groom himself for higher office. Although that means he's likely in the job for one or perhaps two terms, it may be a short term we can live with.
I lamented to my friend that there was no senatorial opening for Patrick, because that would be a great fit for him, and it would give us Gabrieli in the state house. Maybe that's the dream scenario, but it's not reality. I hope that Gabrieli doesn't hang it up and runs again when Patrick does take that next step.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I walk in the store, and there's a line to use the machine. There was a young Latino couple at the machine, some middle-aged white lady and then me. The young couple's engaged in light conversation in Spanish and pulling out obscene amounts of change from plastic bags. It's clear they've been there for a while, because their total's over $100, even with another bag of change to go.
The lady in front of me turns around and looks at me, which I thought was weird. I live in Revere. People don't look at each other.
When the couple pulls out their second bag of change, the wife looks back at the line (there's someone behind me now) and smiles. The lady in front of me turns around again and gives me a "Can you believe this?" look. What the Hell? I realize that this is some sort of trial by fire for this woman, and that she thinks I'm her partner in adversity.
I can't figure out why she was so agitated that people sometimes have a lot of change. So I sort of suck in my bottom lip and make my eyes all wide, trying to convey a "Hey, what are you gonna do?" sort of look.
The couple finally ends after rolling through like $250 worth of change. No lie. They must have set some sort of Coinstar record. Now it's put-upon lady's turn at the machine.
She gets to the first menu on the machine, which asks if you want the instructions in English or Espanol. She audibly grunts and SMACKS the English button. All of a sudden, everything is clear; she's not upset some couple took a long time at the machine; she's upset some Latino couple took a long time at the machine.
Great. Some racist is trying to make communion with me in the Stop n' Shop.
She punches through the menus and the machine is ready to take her change. Except she doesn't know what to do. The racist lady doesn't know how to use a Coinstar machine, even though the instructions—helpfully written in English, as requested—are on the screen, next to the picture of change falling into the tray.
"What? How does this work?" she asks.
"You have to put your change in that tray and slide it down the slot on the side."
"Oh! OK, thank you!"
So she dumps her change in the tray…and freezes again.
"Now lift the tray and the coins will fall into the slot."
"Oh! Oh, OK. Thank you again."
Now she grabs the handle and pulls the tray up, dumping all her change into the slot and overwhelming the machine. It accepts like $7 of change from her and rejects the remaining $20-something, which falls into the rejected coin tray.
"What? What happened?" she asks.
"It didn't read the change. You have to take it out of that bottom tray and try again."
"OK, you know what? I don't have time for this, and I certainly don't have the BALLS of that OTHER couple. I'm just going to put this change back in my bag [ed. Note: She really was giving a play by play like this] and take my slip for $7. Thanks for your help."
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Friday, September 01, 2006
I had gotten one the other day, and I couldn't believe it. So when I went to my regular Dunks today the guy asked if I wanted my regular, and I said, "No, I think I'll have one of them cookies instead."
Both he and this other worker literally cheered when I said that. Seriously. They said they were sent to learn how to bake them and stuff, and people were taking home as many as they could after the session was over.
So I asked about that story in the Globe, saying Dunks was going to expand to lunch foods and stuff. They seemed less enthusiastic. "There's one in Nashua selling hot dogs," said the guy with a sigh. "That's weird. I can't get used to that." Amen.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Here's the thing; I'm a lazy bastard, so I never went and got a new box of the contacts. I put mine in yesterday morning and it felt sort of normal, except the left eye was giving me a little trouble. But it didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary, so I just went to work.
After about two hours, the itchiness turned into some very low level pain, and I took my left contact out. It was partially torn. This was at like 10 am. But everything still seemed manageable, so I did a little research online and found the closest Wal-Mart. I don't like shopping there because of their labor problems, but I figure the contacts aren't made in a sweatshop and they offer really big rebates and stuff. The closest one is in Salem, like 20 minutes away.
At about noon I hopped in the car and head out there, and I found the smallest, most busted looking Wal-Mart you've ever seen. And there's no optometrist inside, so I figured I was screwed. But I decided to take a shot at the pharmacy anyway. While I was waiting for the one guy to come see me, my eye all of a sudden started bugging out. Like searing pain, all at once. I pulled the contact out, and it was completely torn apart. A whole huge side was missing, and presumably its floating behind my eyeball, because I could never find it.
The guy finally came over and I asked if they carry boxes of contact lenses. He said no. OK, where is there an eye place around here that would? He didn't know, because he lives "on the other side of the state." I swear to God he said that. Then he told me to ask the girl at customer service.
So I go over to customer service, and the girl (she was like 16) was ringing up customers, because this was the smallest most busted Wal-Mart ever. I finally get to her and asked where in the area I could get a contact lens prescription filled. Without looking at me, she says "try our pharmacy over there," and points back to where I came from. No, I explained, I talked to the pharmacist and he doesn't have contact lenses there.
She finally stopped and looked at me, and literally recoiled with disgust. This was the first indication I had that my eye at that point looked disgusting. She said to try the CVS up the street, which I knew absolutely wouldn't carry contact lenses. Thanks, I said, and left.
When I get to the car, I removed the other contact lens because walking around with just one was actually worse than nothing at all. Then I pulled down the visor mirror, and my eye looked like Sauron from the Lord of the Rings movie. I have never seen an eye that red and bloodshot in all my life. Wicked gross.
Of course, I went to CVS anyway, and sure enough they didn't have contacts, and suggested I try the mall. But I'm now 50 minutes into a one hour lunch break, and I have a 20-minute drive back to work. So I couldn't go to the mall.
I was forced to head back and wear the prescription sunglasses I keep in my car. Sunglasses in the office. I looked like a total jerk for the rest of the day. One friend helpfully offered to make me an eye patch. Everyone else just laughed at me. Supportive bastards.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Did you hear about the fire yesterday in Shrewsbury? My friends Seth and Allissa lived there. They got out OK, but one of their cats didn't make it. If you look at the photos, they lived on the top floor, where all the firefighters are walking around. The roof over their apartment collpased.
I drove out to see them last night, along with another friend. We stopped by the place before meeting up, and it was just stunning to see the damage and breathe in that smell of burning wood. Just awful.
Friday, August 11, 2006
"If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England. It will strengthen them and they will strike again."
So Joe's decided to make political hay by accusing his Democratic opponent of cutting and running in Iraq, a war which Joe says makes us safer from terrorist attacks like that one that was planned in England and exposed yesterday. And he doesn't understand why he's so closely linked to President Bush and VP Cheney. Sheesh.
Joe's statement is misguided in so many ways, we can actually list them out:
- By Joe's logic, we should invade England and "take the fight to them" over there. These were British citizens who planned this attack, after all.
- You can't level foreign policy rebukes in a pizza parlor. Or any place called a parlor for that matter. No discussion about the situation in Darfur while you're in line for a Fribble at Friendly's. Got it?
- This quote: "How the heck can we be in a battle in which we are fighting as Democrats and Republicans against each other when these terrorists certainly don't distinguish based on party affiliation?" makes absolutely no sense. Democrats and Republicans are fighting "this battle," but "this battle" is the global war on terror, but it could be the war in Iraq, and we're fighting—literally, it seems—against each other, but we're also fighting the terrorists (or Iraqis), so we should stop physically harming ourselves, or…huh? I understand you're speaking extemporaneously, but seriously, didn't you review this in the car on the way over?
- Maybe, when we defeat the terrorists, they will then decide to wage war as Independents.
- Godwin's law is in effect: Joe used the Nazis to make his point. He loses the election and now owes everyone here a soda.
- Department of redundancy department: All Soviets were communists, Joe.
- Picking up and leaving in Iraq is a morale boost for terrorists. That's opposed to, say, keeping troops in Iraq to be killed by said terrorists.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Apparently, the Globe can't. stop. talking. about. "Helicopter parents." Today's version of the same story: Parents have a hard time detaching themselves to kids at camp.
Stories of helicopter parents -- so called because they hover ever so close to
their children -- abound among baby boomers. Competitive, overbearing, and
unwilling to let go, they have changed the flavor of kindergarten enrollment,
Little League cheering sections, and college admissions. Now, 140 years after
the first privileged boys trekked out of grimy Northeastern cities and into the
woods for a season of fresh air and exercise, those parents are redefining the
way summer camps are run, too.
I'm not saying it isn't interesting, I'm just saying it loses value when you run the same damn story over and over. Enough already.
This all reminds me of Jack Shafer's fun thread on Slate, where he excoriates newspapers for running with stupid, uninformed articles about the non-present Meth explosion in our country. Seriously, Dan Kennedy, where are you on this?
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
The congressional cafeteria: Run by that uncle who tells the same joke at every Thanksgiving.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
They have researched discount textbook outlets, campus safety, even individual professors. But they are not honor students; they are not students at all. They are "helicopter" parents, so dubbed for their tendency to hover, prepared to swoop in at a moment's notice lest harm befall their progeny.
But it doesn't stop there, this lunacy dates back to last year, when the Globe reported about how today's parents, um, are super control freaks and their kids are mush-headed idiots.
Theories abound to explain the growing ranks of what administrators call ''helicopter parents" who hover over their offspring. Hypotheses range from the competitive frenzy over school success to the high cost of college education and the trend toward smaller families, in which children make decisions with their parents.
Perhaps it wasn't a coup after all, but an obsessed editor assigning and picking up stories on the same damn theme to fulfill her off-to-college article quota? Or the Boston Globe just out of ideas?
Friday, July 28, 2006
That's what you didn't know about me; I got pull.
For my next trick, I'll try to convince them to eliminate the proposed fare double-standard for people without Charlie Cards, to green light the promised red-blue connector, and to sell Meth to pay for basic maintenance. What do you say, guys?
OK, maybe not the Meth part. But hey, at least they were good enough to fix the loophole. Thank you. The problem, however, is now you can't see the results of the poll, either. If the powers that be at the MBTA (or their PR firm) are still reading over here, how about releasing the poll results for everyone to see? When you're done collecting the info, of course.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Most people would quit there, but Rob's a daredevil. He tried the first thing he could think of as a password for the MBTA: Charlie. It worked.
And what Rob found was the survey results, along with the e-mail addresses of everyone who submitted the info to the survey.
Yes, that's a small transgression, and the worst that'll happen is some harvester will collect those addresses and send people more spam, but seriously: The T couldn't take some step to protect this information? Yeesh. And why have a password at all if its going to be so damn easy to figure out? It's like using your own name or "money" for your ATM card.
But it was interesting to see what people would like to see on the T Web site. The best suggestions: T maps overlaid with street maps, the ability to recharge CharlieCards online, and overall suggestions to simplify the design.
The best snarky sugesstion (via Jason): "Here is, so far, my favorite response to the question of what should be on its new website: 'Why we have such poor service'"
Thursday, July 20, 2006
At the moment, this is a generation that lacks the common sense to stay off
deadly train tracks or campus rivers when they're icy. A generation that can't
seem to make decisions without texting home, and whose helicopter parents -- so
named for their hovering ways -- have actually begun negotiating salaries with
job recruiters on their kids' behalf.
The evidence of the grandmotherly coup:
- They're complaining about crank kids and their too-fussy mommas.
- The story they refer to ran in the paper two weeks ago. All my uncles complain about stuff they read or saw "on the TV" two weeks ago.
- It appears as though they nodded off for a nap around the fifth graf.
- They've taken a point I initially agreed with and nagged about it to the point where I take the other side just to be stubborn. I am six years old again.
- Word has it tomorrow's editorial will be about "those goddamned squirrels getting into the bird feeder again. Those seeds are for THE BIRDS!"
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
I went to Chicago last week for a vacation. I have a bunch of friends out there, although oddly almost none were originally from the city. It's a great city to visit, and I go pretty often.
My friend Molly performed with her sketch comedy troupe at a benefit show. She was great, as were some of the other groups. But others were awful. What was the worst? The headlining act for this battered women's charity event was called "Pimprov." Seriously.
I also saw a buddy's reading. My friend Jonathan runs "The Dollar Store." It's a monthly reading of stories inspired by items bought at—wait for it—a dollar store. Really fun.
I also saw The Grackles (a friend's band) play, and went to the aquarium. And ate like a bastard. Good trip.
Lots of my friends out there are going through some personal shit, and I won't exploit that stuff here. And I don't have a lot of pictures, because I'm stupid and forgot my camera every time I went out. So let me tell you about the Cubs game I went to.
The park, once you're in your seat, is awesome. I was on the first base side, so I had a great view of the Budweiser house and home bleacher sections neighbors put up. The ivy really does give the park a different feel, too.
But some stuff was bad. They have a hand-operated scoreboard, which is cool, but the information on the board was all over the place and hard to read. Plus, a lot of pertinent information, like the pitcher's line and stuff, was no where to be found. Lousy.
And the fans were all kind of stiffs. I was told repeatedly by friends out there that people only go to Cubs games to drink Old Styles and be seen by other people, and it's totally true. They knew more about baseball than the awful fans in San Francisco, but still weren't into the game.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Get well, soon, Peter.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
- My buddy Jason had an op-ed run in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel yesterday, where he explains how he got his high school to stop forcing kids to stand for the pledge of allegiance. He makes the point perfectly; respect for our freedom has to include the freedom to keep your seat.
- Remember how I said Barney Frank dug knuckle-deep into his nose on national TV? There's video evidence on youtube.
- Enough of the waiting; Build the goddamned parks! I swear, I must be the last guy in the commonwealth who still likes the Big Dig project, but they're starting to lose even me.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Could it be that he's still sulking over the fact that Congress flicked aside
his efforts to assign the main portion of the Big Dig the completely white-bread
name, ``The Liberty Tunnel"?
Could it be that he's so partisan that he can't
take a couple of hours out of his day to honor the memory of one of the great
Democratic leaders to come from this state, a truly significant national figure?
Or could it be that his presidential aspirations have made him so
knock-kneed that he's afraid to be associated in any way at all with the
so-called liberal politicians from Massachusetts, especially as he's performing
for a national Republican audience?
Take your pick. One's as bad as the
other. A classless partisan or a political coward -- you decide.
McGrory has been hit or miss lately, but this piece is dead-on-balls accurate about how craven Mitt Romney really has become. Think back to before he ran for governor, and how he had plotted to take Utah's top executive job. This was never about Massachusetts or being an effective governor, it was about raising his profile. And now, as he panders to the right, he's making the same classic mistake most would-be candidates make; He appears feckless and petty. And by yesterday's performance, we now know it isn't just an appearance.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Yeah, they can be annoying, but so were fans in the park before all these fair weather kids came rolling in. And it's always been impossible to get seats at Fenway. When I'm shut out of the game, it doesn't matter who's sitting in the park instead. I hate them all, equally, as God intended.
And the cell phone thing? Are you serious? Generally, it's rich season ticket holders and their buddies who sit behind home and wave at the camera while on the phone. How many pink hats sit back there? Really, Tony, you're a great writer, but let's learn to pick our fights a little better, n'kay?
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
But I will say this: If you're going on national television to explain your position, don't pick your nose. Frank was on MSNBC's Countdown last night, and after giving a great answer about why he's bucking the trend and supporting the FBI's actions, he got right in there and buried his finger up to the first knuckle. The show cut back to a single shot of fill-in host Brian Ungar, but it was way too late.
Unfortunately, there's no film yet on the countdown Web site. But it totally happened.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I decided to get tickets for a few reasons; to see the park, to experience one of baseballs biggest rivalries (The Dodgers were in town), and to see that fraud Barry Bonds.
During the game, I had noticed the guy next to me had a dark blue hat, so he wasn't a Giants fan, and the color was too dark for the Dodgers. During the middle of the third, he got up and took his windbreaker off, and then I saw it: A "26 rings" Yankees shirt. I was sitting next to a Yankees fan. He started jawing with the older couple in front of me and the lady said something snide about the Yanks (with a smile. These people were all season ticket holders).
So I said "I can't believe I flew 3,000 miles to see a ballgame, and they sit me next to a Yankees fan." The guy turns around and says, "Are you from Boston?" Yeah, I am. It ends up he's a transplant to the West Coast, and the lady in front of us is originally from Attleboro. Small world.
The Yankees fan and I chatted it up the rest of the game. He said it was actually good to sit next to a Boston fan, b/c people from San Francisco really weren't that into baseball. As the game progressed, I could see that was true. These people were committing every ballpark sin imaginable: Half the place showed up late, at least a thoudans people were out on the shoreline, with no view of the game, they talked during balls in play, walked up and down the aisles during the game, left early, the whole nine yards.
When Bonds grounded to first to end the eighth inning, the Yankees guy elbowed me and said, "Now watch the stands." I looked up, and I swear to God, a third of the place emptied out. The Giants were only down by three to their biggest rivals, the Dodgers, and they had their 4-5-6 hitters up next, and everyone was leaving. Friggin bandwagon.
But they're the ones who missed out; The Giants rallied for four runs in the ninth and won the game. And with about 12,000 non-fans now out of the park, the people left were like a distilled version of the crowd; These were the people who really do like baseball, and weren't there just for the Bonds spectacle. So in the end, it felt like a real ball game. But for like 20 minutes. The rest of the time it was like watching a movie outside.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
It's been raining. Thought you'd might want to know.
I actually missed a good portion of the rain. I was in San Francisco on business (Jesus, did I just write that?) most of last week. It's a spectacular city with a little bit of Boston in it. But just a little.
But San Francisco itself, while great, wasn't the best thing about my trip. No the best part was meeting Steve Perry at a Giants game. You know, Steve Perry, lead singer of Journey, Oh Sherry, You should have been gaw-awne, Steve Perry.
I went to the Giants-Dodgers game on Saturday. Pac Bell Park (now AT&T Park) is friggin gorgeous and super fan friendly. I was sitting in the club section of the stadium, which I didn't realize until I got there. I was in Section 202, the last on that deck before you get to the water. Just awesome.
So I got to the park early and walked around for a bit. There were only a couple of people in my section, so it was pretty quiet. Then these two guys walked up. One was totally nondescript, but the other looked wicked familiar.
That hair. That nose. The guy looked just like Steve Perry.
I immediately called my buddy Jonathan and left him a message, asking whether it was lame to try and talk to the guy. Jon left me a message saying I should just yell out "Steve!" ands see if he turns around. But I was afraid to do it, because that seemed like it would be lame. I was worried about seeming lame to Journey's Steve Perry, you see.
So I finally got Jon on the phone and again he pushed me to yell. I guesstimated that the maybe-Steve guy was about 20-25 feet away, looking over the railing at the concourse below and the expanding Pacific in front of him. It's too far, I decided. I couldn't just yell out.
Then I heard the guy talk, and that totally confirmed it; I was looking at Steve Perry.
Just then, he turned as he and his buddy started to leave. They were about to walk past me, about two rows down. There was still like maybe 10 people in my section, so it's like he was right in front of me.
I half-turn away and hiss to Jonathan: "Oh my God, he's leaving. He's walking right up. He's walking right in front of me! Hang on!"
I look up, and there he was.
"Yeah, what's your name?"
"Roberto Scalese. I'm a big fan."
(Cue big shit-eating grin on my face)
"Hey, thanks, man."
With that, he shook my hand and went on his way. No muss, no fuss. And I was a happy guy, because I really do like Journey, and not in some ironic trucker hat indie rock way. It's good music, dammit. But the world is coming back to where I already am, and when it does, it'll see me with Steve, side by side, like Jake and the Fat man.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
So she's in the casino and she finds a table that'll take small action like $20. But she's scared, so she decides to watch a hand and see how it's done. The spin comes red. Now, she's mentally preparing to place my bet, but she's still nervous. Some guy steps up next to her and lays down $20 on black. Gienna thinks, "OK, now's the time!" but hesitates and the dealer waves off any additional bets.
It hits black. I'm out $40.
The guy who came to play let's the money ride, which is exactly what I told Gienna to do when we last spoke. But now she keeps thinking she just screwed up, and since the last bet was black, does that mean it's less likely to come up, etc. She's not stupid; she knows that it's still 50-50, but she's like parylized with fear.
Black. My $20 would have been $80.
Now she's frozen, panicking at the table. A couple of ladies who Gienna swears were nuns come up, and one of them puts a sizable bet on black. Gienna doesn't move.
Black. The nuns are way up, and I'm out $160.
Black comes up three more times; that's six times in a row. That's $20 to $40 to $80 to $160 to $320 to $640 to $1,280.
I'm out $1,280 bucks at this point.
So that's the final straw. Gienna now realizes that she cannot--CANNOT!--put any money on this table, because it's cursed. So she walks over to the new Roulette wheel and smacks down the $20 on black like a pro.
But at least she got me some poker-chip-shaped chocolate. Thanks for playing.
Is that fair? Of course not. Anyone would have walked away after the original bet and maybe let it ride once. But still, it's more fun to hang a grand over her head. :)
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Pelican In Her Piety has an outstanding summation of the T's funding situation and a spot-on analysis of the problems facing T riders and the agency, thanks in large part to outer suburb Representatives who cut the T's funding and then tried to raid its accounts (Via Universal Hub).
In case you missed it, Mike Dukakis got into the act in yesterday's Globe, and make some damn good sense:
''Gas prices are now $3 a gallon for regular," he wrote in an e-mail. ''Yet, here in Massachusetts where we are blessed with what could be the best public transportation system in the country, we seem to be doing everything we can to drive people away from the T.
''It is now clear, as it should have been at the time it happened, that tying the T to one penny on the sales tax as its principal revenue source was a terrible mistake. The T is a public service, just like our highways. It is a critically important piece of our metropolitan and state economy. It needs expansion, not contraction."
So is this the real start of the pushback, and where will we end up? If I had to make a guess, the T will offer transfer to CharlieTicket riders and keep the increase at $1.70, instead of retreating on the final increase amount itself. Then they'll say everybody wins, although the evidence shows this is the solution that should have been in place in 2000. Grrr.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Seriously, has a trade ever been undone this quickly? I know Josh Bard was having some trouble, but Sheesh. Anyway, i like Doug, so welcome back and help out Wake, wouldja?
First, when the last fare hike was made two years ago, many opponents (including myself, in my only appearance ever on NPR) said it would start a vicious cycle: Ridership is down so you increase fares, but that forces down ridership, which forces you to increase fares. Clearly, that's what's happening here.
Some of the same rate hike canards are making the rounds again. The T has the cheapest subway fare in the country, but it doesn't offer free or reduced transfers for most rides, making it one of the most expensive total trips. Thankfully, the new fare structure will include free transfers from subway to bus. Even with that, though, the T offers far less service that New York, Chicago, and DC for the same price. All these lines run into the late-night or 24 hours, while Boston rolls up its tracks by 1 a.m. (depending on the station.
Eliminating the exit fares, free outbound rides and the rest of the irregularities is a small but appreciated item. Decreasing the combo pass price is also a great help.
Charging more per ride for CharlieTicket users than CharlieCard users is something that I find a little troubling. Look, you certainly want to reward the people who use the system the most and keep them as loyal customers, and lower fares for consistent users is a good way to do that. It also creates an incentive for people to use the faster technology (the CharlieCards are wave-throughs, while the tickets have to be manually fed into the system.
My concern, though, is that the price jump for non-traditional T users is so steep as to keep them away from the service altogether. At the very least, make CharlieCards purchasing available at the terminus of each line and branch, so out-of-towners can take full advantage of the better technology. If the T wants to increase its ridership appreciably, it needs to attract these people on the periphery who feel that driving to town is still worth the hassle and cost. Bilking them for an extra 55 cents than other users is just as unjust as an exit fare. These are customers who will see a full dollar jump in fares, all because they aren't aware of the new cards, or are less frequent users. That's bunk.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
I was at a friend's wedding, which was in some retreat in the woods in Rhode Island. At one point, I had to find a store. On the way back, I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts.
Me: Can I get a Mountain Dew and a chocolate stick?
Cute Dunks girl: A Mountain Dew and a what?
Me: And a chocolate stick.
Me: What? OH! You don't have those?
CDG: (Smiles and looks at me like I'm a jerk)
Me: OK, sorry, can I get a chocolate glazed?
What's up, Rhode Island? How do you not have chololate sticks? It's bad enough that Dunks took our cruellers away from us, but to deny me the Go-Bots version as well?
Monday, April 10, 2006
Look, I'll say this up front: Of course I want children to remain safe as they walk to school. And this is a woman who volunteers her time to make sure the children stay safe. That's fantastic. I'm sure she's a wonderful lady with a big heart. My concern is that her heart's a little too big.
Our Lady of the Crossing Children stops traffic for every single little snot who steps up to her crosswalk. She doesn't wait for other kids approaching to reach, and then cross them all at once. She doesn't allow parents to cross by themselves. She crosses everyone as soon as they show up.
As a result, she stops traffic like a dozen times before I can pass her. I turn onto Revere Street about 6 blocks away from the school. It should take me 30 seconds to pass the school. Instead, because of her, it usually takes me the better part of five minutes. Every day. That's nothing, really, but it's killing me because it used to be different when I went to school there.
Back in my day, Dotty was our crossing guard. Dotty was awesome (I was best friends with her son). A kid would walk up to her spot, and she would look to see if anyone else was coming. If there was, she'd wait patiently until everyone was sort of gathered up and THEN cross us. It was a marvelous system that balanced the safety of children with the need of everyone else to get to work every day. Thoughtful, pragmatic, caring. Those were the golden years of school crossing guards.
Today, however, was a perfect example of how this once-great art has been lost. We all stopped for the bus as it let out the kids. The crossing guard (who I swear really must be a nice lady) stood in the road to block traffic, which is fine. But then she lets some van scoot out from a side road in front of the bus, which seems crazy to me. But fine, whatever, the van is also a school bus of sorts, so it's in her purview, I suppose. But after that, she stops traffic to let a kid across the street, and then stops traffic AGAIN to let some old Buick out from the same side street. I was trapped a block away from the school for like seven minutes while all this was going on. What the Hell!
Had Dotty been there, things would have been different in a number of ways. First, the bus would have used some side street to turn around and therefore dump the kids off onto the sidewalk in front of the school. Maybe that wasn't Dotty's doing, but it happened back in my day and it was better. Traffic would still have stopped, but keeping the kids on the right side of the street is safer to begin with. This would also allow the van to pull out and line up behind the bus, dropping off the kids inside and saving us all an extra step in the process.
Dotty would have held onto the kid as others were walking down the street toward her, and she never, NEVER would have stopped traffic to help some old guy in an Eighty-Eight pull out into traffic, because she has better things to worry about. Just like that, you trim the wait time in half, and stop at least one commuter from mentally swearing at a person doing a bad job with a good deed.
Monday, April 03, 2006
I went to Atlantic City for a bachelor party this weekend. We had a
blast, but let me say a few things about Atlantic City:
Atlanitc City is gross. I mean that literally. The place literally
stinks of old people, cigarettes, and Drakkar Noir. If sadness and
failure has a smell, this would be it.
And the hand cab drivers were all sort of scary too. I mean, maybe I
don't understand their industry, but having a guy scream "Spend some
fucking money! Spend some fucking money here!" doesn't seem very
inviting. Along the boardwalk, I saw a few women have their heels get
stuck between planks. As soon as that would happen, the hand cab
guys would swarm like seagulls on a french fry "Did your shoe get
stuck? How about a ride?"
You can't even see the beach from the boardwalk, which is weird.
There's a big berm of sand in between. That makes sense, I suppose,
but it was a bit disappointing.
Even the casinos were sort of seedy. Some were really nice, like the
Sands and Caesar's, but others were filthy. I was sitting at a table
game in the Showboat, and the felt looked like a used towel. There
were drink and water stains all over it. The place smelled a bit
My buddy Jason has more details on the Hotel, but it was no prize,
either. We couldn't get a second cot in our room (fire code,
supposedly), so two of us were forced into a position the Catholic
Church says is a sin. There was a balcony with a nice view of the
ocean. But no furniture to sit on and enjoy the view. There was,
however, a helpful sign reminding us that seagulls are known to shit
wherever they please. Seriously.
Friday, March 31, 2006
It seems that the state's Outdoor Advertising Board is using some real ticky-tack technicality to force the billboard out of the sky. It's a clear case of someone's political panties are in a bunch, and now the apparackik has made a veiled threat to the gun violence billboard as well:
For now, Little Brother remains in place, but here's where it gets really touchy. Rosenthal has crusaded against gun violence, and this month he repapered his 252-foot-long antigun billboard, shaming states that don't require background checks for private gun sales.
Suddenly, state bureaucrats were checking on a waiver Rosenthal received 11 years ago that allowed a billboard that large. ''I've had several people ask me about it," Bickley acknowledged. ''Eventually, someone may challenge it." Who would challenge a billboard that discourages gun violence? That remains unclear.
How thuggish is that? After years and national exposure for his gun violence billboard, John Rosenthal has to listen to some guy tell him his free speech must be curtailed because there's a subprovision in a bylaw somewhere that says his views and opinion are geographically too close to advertisements. God save us all.
What really bothers me about the Herald's wall-to-wall coverage of the Scalia hand gesture isn't that they totally screwed up and called the gesture obscene (It's absolutely, 100% is not). It's that they manufactured this controversy by missing a mistake by a reporter, and then claimed the mistake was actually part of a larger national conversation over whether the gesture was obscene.
In effect, they screwed up and put in on Scalia so they could sell more papers. It's slimy and unethical.
It's easy to hate on Scalia, not because I disagree with virtually every opinion we writes on the court, but because he's a prickly asshole. But he isn't stupid. Apparently, however, the Herald thinks you are. Why else would they feed us this ridiculous line?
* Full disclosure: I used to work for Community Newspaper Company, which is owned by Herald Media.
Monday, March 20, 2006
I was about to post about the Wily Mo Pena-Bronson Arroyo deal, and I based it on kicking Eric Wilbur in the teeth for his "gentleman's agreement" line on his blog. But now that line is gone, and the post starts with what was the second paragraph.
So did Wilbur realize he was wrong? If so, why not cross the line out or admit it was incorrect in a separate post or in an update? Why scrub the line instead of owning up to a dumbass comment?
Clearly, I'm more pissed because it screws up the premise of the following post, but hey, what can I do? Wilbur totally caved/showed some modicum of integrity by correcting a mistake, even if he did it in an underhanded, "I never said that" sort of way.
Whatever. Here's the now obsolete post:
Pity poor Eric Wilbur. As news broke of today's Red Sox deal sending
Bronson Arroyo to Cincinnati for outfielder Wily Mo Pena, the
boston.com blogger had to rely on his own memory in recalling
Bronson's recent contract extension with the Sox. It was a three-year
deal under Bronson's Market value. Wilbur seems to recall a
gentleman's agreement, where the Sox said they would not trade Bronson
in exchange for the lighter salary. And thus, Wilbur's hackles are up,
claiming the Sox reneged on a handshake deal and should be ashamed of
themselves. He writes:
"The moral? Don't make any gentleman's agreements with the Red Sox."
Poor Wilbur. If only there were a way to look up written articles from
the recent past. Something like a virtual library, where things that
have been written are stored forever. And there would be this clever
and easy way to sift through the veritable googol of pages in that
virtual, world-wide library, so he could find just what he was looking
for by typing in some key words.
Had that technology existed, and Wilbur typed in the words "arroyo
deal," he would maybe have found Chris Snow's Boston Globe article on
the deal, dated Jan. 20:
The Sox, according to Arroyo, told him they have no immediate
intentions of moving him.
''They didn't give me any guarantees," said Arroyo, who began looking
into buying a place in Boston. ''But Jed and Ben [Cherington] both
stated to me there were no deals on the table for me now, and they
felt pretty strongly I wouldn't be traded anywhere in the near
Or maybe he could have found the Providence Journal's take, where Sean
McAdam had this:
"I want to stay here for my whole career," said Arroyo. "I think it's
a move that's going to be beneficial to me as well as the team for
right now, at this point in my career. Hopefully they see it that way
and don't trade me."
Arroyo spoke with co-general managers Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherrington
before agreeing to the deal and received no guarantees that he
wouldn't be dealt.
"But Jed and Ben both stated to me that there were no deals on the
table and they felt pretty strongly that I wouldn't be traded
anywhere, anytime in the near future," Arroyo said. "Not that they
could guarantee me any security for the lifetime of the contract. But
at no time in the near future did they see me going anywhere."
That could have gone a long way in stirring Wilbur's memory, and maybe
he would start to see that there was no "gentleman's agreement," as he
so eloquently put it. Heck, a little more digging on this
interconnected, web-like portal of information would likely have
yielded this AP story on espn.com, which stated:
Arroyo said neither of the Red Sox co-general managers, Jed Hoyer and
Ben Cherington, could promise him that he won't be traded.
But hey, we don't live in a world with that sort of unlimited access
to information. Would that we had such a fast and easy portal, almost
like a superhighway of ideas and information!
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
I just had a caviry filled. The dentist who did the work is great; Happy, calm, friendly.
So she set me up in the chair and gave me a topical swap to numb me up for the novacaine shot. I asked her to wait like a minute, because the last time I had a cavity filled, they shot me up right after applying the topical, and it hurt like Hell. So she agreed, and even daubed a little more of the topical stuff before she started. OK.
She starts to drill, and things are going fine. Apparently, though, this cavity of mine was way back on the far end of my last tooth, and it was hard for the dentist to get to it. So she pulls back on my cheek a little harder, and says, “You’re doing fine.”
I’m doing fine?
I wasn’t aware I was doing anything. But OK, maybe she was talking more to herself than me. Like I said, she’s wicked nice and good at what she does.
So she keeps working, and I hear drill bits grinding to a stop on the tooth. Which is awful, but what are you going to do? I didn’t feel anything, although I could smell the burning tooth and sense the vibration come to an abrupt stop. “You’re doing great.”
Then I start to realize: She thinks I’m freaking out. But I wasn’t, and I know I wasn’t. I wasn’t grimacing, I didn’t say anything, or pull away. So why does she think I’m about to break down in the chair?
I start to wrack my brain as she continues to work. She’s tugging hard at my cheek, because if she doesn’t, she says, she’ll cut the cheek. She took her hands out of my mouth and I say, “I appreciate that,” trying to use a little humor to let her know I’m all good.
She gives off a little (forced) laugh and said “You’re doing a great” again.
She starts to work again, and I realize, it has to be because of the form I filled out last year when I started with this dentist. It had a question about whether you feel anxious about seeing a dentist, and I checked “a little.” I wanted to be honest, because I don't entirely like the idea of someone poking around my mouth with needles and drills. But maybe everyone lies on that form, and tries to play themselves off as cooler than they are. So to the dentist, "No" means "A little" and "A little" means "Hell yeah I'm scared."
Sunday, March 05, 2006
But first, here's what happened: I’m driving south on Lynn Marsh Road in Revere at about 4:30 or 5 p.m. yesterday. If you aren’t from around here, Lynn March Road is a long, straight shot through the marsh between Revere and Saugus. And when I say straight, I mean it: It’s where most kids would go to drag back when that was still cool. It’s almost impossible to drive down the mile and a half or so of road without speeding.
So I’m driving back toward Revere, and I see a cloud of dust, like sand billowing up in the air, about 1,000 feet in front of me. That’s not entirely unusual, because everything is so flat there. But it’s a lot of dust, like maybe someone is kicking up sand from the side of the road.
That’s when I see the car on the other side of the road; it hits the guardrail, stops, and pulls to one side like someone yanked on a string behind it. Then it pops up and flips in the air, hits the ground, and rolls over a couple more times. Once it settles on its back, the car spins down toward the far side of the road.
I pulled out my cell phone and called 911.* A bunch of people stopped and ran over to the upended car. By the time I got there, both passengers were out of the car. One guy was on the ground, flat on his back. He didn’t have any obvious injuries, but he was yelling and writhing around. It was hard to tell if it was pain or if he was just upset.
His buddy, though, was up and walking around, but the right side of his face was covered in blood. Covered. The eye was swollen shut and his shirt was quickly soaking with the blood pouring down. Everyone (there were about two dozen people out of their cars at this point) kept imploring him to sit down, but he didn’t want to or didn’t understand.
At one point, he turns to me and a couple of other guys and asks “Is my face fucked up? If my face fucked up?” No, we all say, it’s just a little blood. You’re fine, you’re fine.
The kid talks to an older man in Spanish. The old man then turns to me and asks if I have a cell phone. I pull it out. “He wants to call his mother.”
OK, I ask, what’s the number? The kid starts to tell me the number, but he can’t get it straight. It took him a couple fo tries to get a number out, whish I dial and gave him the phone. After a couple of seconds he hands it back and starts to pace again. He never spoke with anyone.
Now we’re all just waiting for the cops and ambulance. The guys seem fine to the naked eye, so people start looking more closely at the car. Everyone sees the vodka bottle.
It’s one of those fruit flavored vodkas, with a green cap. I can’t tell if the bottle is open or not.
A fire truck and ambulance pull up at the same time. At that point, the EMT tells everyone to step away from the car. We all shuffle back and start to talk.
“Did you see the bottle?” one guy asks us.
“Yeah, I saw it,” I say. “I don’t know if it was open or not.”
“We should have thrown it out,” the guy says, only half kidding.
I don’t say anything at that point, because frankly, if the kid was loaded and driving that fast on the highway, I want the cops to figure that out.
Cop cars, fire trucks and ambulances from both cities are pouring in at this point. We all waited there as the kids were loaded up onto those boards and taken into the ambulances, then started to disperse. I asked a firefighter if anyone needed to speak with me, because I made the call to 911. He said no, you’re free to go. And I left.
I got in my car and pulled out my phone again. Before I started to dial, though, I found a bloody fingerprint on my phone. I wiped if off with a bandana and threw the rag out of the car. Then I went home.
*Calling 911 was a bit of an ordeal.
I had dialed 911 when I saw the car flip. Cell calls to 911 direct you to the state police, which is a horribly inefficient use of time for the Staties, the people in the accident, and the local police who are going to respond to the call. After the accident, a friend told me the state’s trying to set up a system where your call is triangulated and directed to the closest local authority. Let’s hope that’s done sooner rather than later.
So I got the Staties and I told them, “I’m on Route 107 on the Revere-Saugus line. A car just rolled over on the highway.”
The dispatcher asked which town I was in. I said I wasn’t sure, that we were in between Revere and Saugus. “I need you to tell me what town you’re in so I can direct your call.”
“Ok, Revere,” I said slightly annoyed.
So she connects me to Revere, and I repeat what happened.
“Which town are you in?” asks the Revere dispatcher.
“It’s Lynn Marsh Road. I don’t know which town exactly. It’s right on the line. I think it’s Revere.”
Then she asks for a landmark, and I don’t see one. Finally, she asks “are you near the lobster place?”
I turn around, and sure enough, there it is, about 500 feet down the road.
This bothered the Hell out of me. I know the area very well, and I know that Cataldo, the ambulance service Revere contracts with, is literally two minutes away. They are the ones who are going to get the call. I know this, and I’m not a cop. The dispatcher knows this too, so why the third degree about which town? I also know that both towns will respond to an accident on this road, so what gives? Maybe there’s an excellent reason beyond “We don’t want to spend the money and resources on an accident in someone else’s town,” which is all I can figure. But it doesn’t make sense.
Look, Revere’s one of those towns where everyone has a horror story about the cops, and I think overall that’s bullshit. I’ve never been harassed by the cops in Revere, and in the times when I have had to deal with them, they were really professional, even the older cops who some people have specifically told me are jerks. So I like the cops here. I couldn’t imagine the dispatcher I spoke with cares about which town picks up the tab for responding here. So what was the deal?