Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shopping Locally

I saw this sign--or pair of signs--at the new Walgreen's on King Street.  This can't be good for the environment, causing all of those delivery trucks to sit there idling while the driver has to decipher what to do.

On a completely unrelated note, I went to the new Racing Mart the other day to buy a gallon of milk.  I was enticed by their advertised low price of $2.19 a gallon.  I should have know that something fishy was going on: I gave the clerk $2.25, she punched in the appropriate numbers into the register and then looked up at me.  "Do you want your penny?" She said as she made a face as if it wasn't a penny she was going to give me but a turd. 

"Sure," I said.  "Why not."

That's how they get you: lure you in with a $2.19 deal and then try to keep the penny.  Be warned. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Will Scott Brown Fix This Problem?

UPDATE: There's an article in today's Gazette about efforts begun in Northampton to stop this behavior. There's also a Facebook page devoted to it called: Stop the Republican from Delivering Supplements. It's nice to know I'm not the only one with a bug up his ass about this.
I don't subscribe to the Republican, and because I don't subscribe, I've been targeted by an evil entity who comes under the cover of darkness and litters my yard with "Extra" editions of the paper wrapped in lavender plastic bags.  I haven't been able to discern a particular pattern about exactly when and where they'll strike; I just know that on some mornings I'll put out of my driveway to head to work and the street will be lined with  lavender bags. 

I don't know how the Republican can get away with this wide-scale littering.  I think Scott Brown should look into this immediately after he's seated--or maybe he can do it now, since he's not actually working right now.

I took the above picture a week ago and it's taken me a week to call the Republican and ask them to please stop littering on my lawn.  It's not that I haven't tried, but the customer service people are available only between 6 and 10 a.m.  I finally got someone on the phone this morning and after answering their irrelevant questions, such as what my phone number is so that they could look me up in their system--and I'm not in their system because I'm not a subscriber, but then again, maybe I'm in their system because I'm a non-subscriber...

Anyway, the operator asked me what she could help me with.  I replied that I would like her to stop littering on my lawn with her newspapers.  I heard her tapping away and then she said, "you're all set."

We'll see.  I'm not convinced.   

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

(Special) Election Day

I was the 44th person to vote in my precinct at a little after 8:00 this morning. I don't know what that number represents in terms of turnout. I do know that I was a little surprised by how quiet it was at Smith Voke, my polling place. After all of the commercials and the robo calls, I expected the sign holders' area to be full. But one of the designated areas didn't have any people in it, and the other one had only one or two. Of course, it was early, and it was also snowing, a fact that led one poll workers to tell me she was worried that the snow might keep people away.

After I voted, I drove to work thinking about politics. It occurs to me that we've unwittingly developed this system where we demand perfection in our candidates, when we know perfectly well that no one can be perfect. And when the candidate--any candidate--does something that's falls short of perfection, everyone quickly pounces on the misstep as evidence of the candidate's unworthiness for whatever position they're running for. I know there's partisanship involved here, where our political views will inform how we interpret events, but I think it goes a little deeper than that. Just think about how many books, documentaries, websites, commercials, radio shows, whatever have been dedicated to telling the "real" story about such-and-such politician. What all these shows have in common, it seems to me, is that they demonstrate that the person in question is just that, a person, and not a perfect being.

I think this is why the myth that George Washington had wooden teeth has persisted for so long, because we instinctively long for evidence to support our belief that no one can be as perfect as their reputation says they are.

At any rate, we often find ourselves having to choose between two ideal-looking candidates based only on the carefully chosen and scripted information that their campaigns have let out. And since there aren't any degrees of perfection, i.e. "this is perfect, but that one is more perfect," we tend to choose the candidate who has not shown any blemishes while reviling the candidate we've not chosen because they've shown themselves to be less-than-perfect.

Now, in this particular campaign, Scott Brown has been the perfect candidate. He's got the looks, the military pedigree, the debating skills, and the experience. And that's all well and good. And the fact of the matter is that I wouldn't vote for him on a bet, because I don't agree with his views. So you might be on to something if you say that my assessment of Martha Coakley's campaign as "human" as opposed to "disastrous" or "less-than-perfect" is informed by my politics and not by logic. But I think I'm on to something with this less-than-perfect thing.

And for the record, my drive to work isn't that long. It just seemed long today.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Yes, You Love Me Now, But Will You Call After Tuesday?

Like everyone else in Massachusetts, I've been bombarded with ads in the newspaper and on television for the candidates in tomorrow's special election to fill the vacate senate seat in Massachusetts. And I've also received calls from Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Deval Patrick, and some other Coakley supporters. Just this morning, my cell phone rang and I saw t was a call from Washington, D.C. I answered it and found myself in the middle of a poll.

I've heard some people complain about all the calls they're getting, but I say, shame on them for not having Caller ID, and even if you don't, you don't have to pick up the phone just because it rings.

Obviously, there's a lot of attention on this race because it's the only one going on. Plus, depending on what you believe, this election will bring transparency to Washington (whatever that means) or carry on the legacy of Ted Kennedy (for however long that's supposed to last). Either way, Massachusetts has become ground zero for Tea Party people, liberals, conservatives, you name it.

The only benefit I've seen in this push to get out the vote is that my kids think that famous and important people call me all the time. And when they ask why, for instance, the president called, I tell them that he heard that they hadn't cleaned their rooms.

And on Wednesday, everything will be quiet again. No longer will my phone ring constantly. No longer will I have to avoid eye contact with sign holders hanging out at intersections while I'm driving. Until the next election, that is.

I know they're just using me, but I have to say that I kind of like all the attention.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bike Path Blues

I read with great consternation (great word, btw) about the man who was reportedly attacked on the Northampton Bike Path. I spend a lot of time on the bike path, and I'm definitely uncomfortable with the idea some individuals may be viewing the people who use the path as easy prey. But I'm even more uncomfortable with the idea that people out there may use this as an opportunity to bash bike paths in general.

What I'm hopeful about is that the police will find who did this, and that the community of people who use the bike path regularly will be on the lookout as well. I'm also hopeful that tomorrow's warmer temperatures will melt the ice on the bike bath enough so that I can use it again. I'm not so afraid of people who might want to rob me, but I am afraid of ice patches.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Beware of Unsolicited Training Advice at the Gym

It's January, which means that I'll be spending much of my free time at the Y. This isn't really anything new, as in an it's-the-new-year-and-time-to-keep-that-"exercise more"-resolution kind of thing, because I've already established an exercise routine for myself. However, with the onset of cold temperatures and ice-covered sidewalks, I've had to move my routine almost entirely indoors, which for me means the Y. In addition, the YMCA Basketball League, or YBL, has officially started its season. And with two sons playing this year, that means even more time spent at the Y.

But I'm not really complaining. At least not yet. I've told myself that we're basically looking at eight weeks here; in eight weeks, the days will be longer and the temperatures warmer. Not beach-warm, but certainly exercise-outdoor-more-often-than-not warm.

Besides, there are many benefits to working out at the Y. It's warm there, the staff is friendly, and it's likely that you'll run into someone you know. Plus, there's always a good chance that you can pick up some great workout tips, like the one I got yesterday.

I was on the treadmill watching the football game when a friend of mine came over and we started chatting. My friend was lamenting the fact that he was finding it difficult to get back into an exercise routine after spending a few week away from the gym.

"I just have to get to that point where the endorphins kick in," my friend said. "You know, find that addiction point again."

That's when the older gentelman on the treadmill next to me chimed in. "You know," he said. "If you're looking for an addiction, the advice I'd give you is to look into airplane model glue." And then he inhaled deeply through his nose with his eyes closed before exhaling with a satisfied "Ahhh." "And it' cheap," he added.

Who needs a personal trainer when you can get that kind of insight for free?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I noticed last night that my next-door neighbors didn't have their porch light on. Like everyone else around here, they'd been keeping their porch light on all night in an effort to keep potential arsonists from targeting their house. I didn't realize just how many porch lights were on around town until last night when people once again felt comfortable enough to go to sleep without the lights on. And I found the darkness refreshing.