Thursday, August 31, 2006

Chris Gabrieli in Leominster this afternoon

Gubenatorial candidate Chris Gabrieli is coming to the 'hood this evening, with a meet-and-greet from 5:00 to 6:30 at the Ealges Hall. Since I'm still undecided, I'll be heading over to get an idea what he's all about. I'll let you know what I find out...


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It's that dirty Francona's fault

Dan Kennedy noted this morning that no one is blaming Terry Francona for the Sox collapse, so Nick Cafardo's latest article is unnecessary. Ah, but Dan obviously doesn't read the letters to the editor of the Telegram & Gazette (and in his defense, why would he). If he did, he'd know that all of the Sox troubles are related to Francona's lack of personal hygiene.

The solution for the Red Sox to have a successful season is not in the pitching staff, bullpen or starters. The solution is sitting on the bench with his head and eyes looking at a puddle of tobacco juice, bubble gum saliva and sunflower shells.

Occasionally he washes out his foul mouth and that goes into the contaminated puddle also. Terry Francona's supposed to be looking at his players, not the puddle.

He's got the walking man (second-in-the-league Kevin Youkilis) batting fifth. Who needs a walk when men are in scoring position?

No wonder they ran him out of Philadelphia. Give him his bus ticket and bring in Carlton Fisk before the season is a washout.

Ah yes, when in doubt, call on Carlton Fisk. Fisk is the guy who taught a whole generation of New England children what "a pinch between your cheek and gum" meant through years of commercials for Copenhagen chewing tobacco.

He is the man whose official bio at his speaking agency says "he already had a nickname (Pudge, from his childhood), and a trademark wad of tobacco that bulged inside one cheek." He's the guy to clean up the Sox.

(And I'm aware through a fair amount of googling that Fisk has given up spit tobacco, but still...)

Previous T&G Letters to the Editor:
T&G reader takes on terrorism
Worcester: the San Diego of the East
Is State Senator Barrios a Bush Crony
Rem-Dawg Debate Rages in Worcester
Jerry Remy has "lost all touch with reality"


Monday, August 28, 2006

Traffic Update

No Drumlins welcomed it's 2,500th visitor Friday. Since adding StatCounter to the site on January 26, here are other milestones:

500th visitor -- May 23
1,000th visitor -- June 30
1,500th visitor -- July 24
2,000th visitor -- August 15
2,500th visitor -- August 25

Something's been bugging me...

So, I go to cook supper last night, and for some reason, I decided to look in the bottom of the box of pasta that I had just poured into the water. Don't know why, perhaps I was looking to see if there was a rotini or two left in the bottom of the box. Anyway, I didn't find any more rotini, but I did find a couple of these guys crawling around the bottom of the box (note, they're not as big as pictured, they are about the size of a grain of rice.)

Well, that was pretty yucky, so I went to dump out the water and pasta that I had started to cook and I learned something: these suckers float. There were four or five of them that had made it into the pot and were bobbing around the boiling water.

So I moved to plan B, which was to check another box of pasta (this time penne) and found a couple of more. Finally, I grabbed our last unopened box of pasta (spaghetti) and sifted through it. Finding it acceptable, I boiled another pot of water and dumped the pasta in. While I was cleaning up after myself, I found one more bug crawling on the plate I'd just used to check the spaghetti. So another pound of pasta to the trash. Eventually, we ended up cooking ravioli since it had been frozen and theoretically not susceptible to an infestation. It was fine.

I spent the rest of the night with phantom itchiness.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Youth leagues should voluntarily ban aluminum bats

With the Little League World Series ongoing, the legislature's Joint Committee on Public Health is taking the opportunity to share the spotlight by holding hearings on safety in youth baseball. Among the solutions they are investigating are a ban on metal bats.

Local youth baseball organizations from Little League to the MIAA should take the initiative and voluntarily switch to all wooden bats. The state house should stay out of it.

When aluminum bats were originally developed and marketed to baseball teams, they were popular because they were a little cheaper in the long run than wooden bats since they were less apt to break. Over time, technology advanced to the point where aluminum bats also produce much more power. Aluminum bats today are much more expensive--and dangerous--than 20 or 30 years ago.

Since there is no longer an economic reason to continue using metal bats (the best ones can cost up to $200 or more), all leagues below the college level should voluntarily hang up the aluminum sticks. Would it cause a competitive disadvantage for those teams that advance out of the state to the Little League (or Cal Ripken or Babe Ruth) World Series? Probably. But the leagues should be looking out for all of their players, not just those 12 good enough to advance to a national tournament.

And they should do it voluntarily and quickly, so the legislature doesn't get involved. Like so many things government tries to solve, they would end up screwing it up. For instance, the House committee chairman suggested that they would look at other safety measures as well, including changing the distance from the mound to home plate. If Little League coaches and administrators are worried about what will happen if they ban metal bats, being the only state in the country without a 46-foot pitching distance would cause more problems than any change to the composition of the bat.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

'LOST' secret revealed by Montana senator

Republican Senator Conrad Burns of Montana (the guy at right in the cowboy hat) is in a bit of hot water over some insensitive remarks he made about a man working on his house. In a speech at a campaign stop, he referred to the worker as "a nice little Guatemalan man" and recalled a conversation he had with the worker about whether or not he had a green card.

While that has the senator in trouble with his constituents, I'd say the real trouble will come when others realize that he gave away at least one of the plot lines to the hit TV series 'LOST.' Can you spot the spoiler:

A new video released this week by his Democratic challenger, Jon Tester, shows Burns, 71, joking to a crowd in June about how a "nice little Guatemalan man" fixing up his house might be an illegal immigrant. "Could I see your green card?" Burns tells the crowd he asked the man. "And Hugo, says, 'No.' I said, 'Oh, gosh.' "

A Burns spokesman said the senator never really doubted the legal status of the handyman, Hugo Reyes. But it wasn't the only time Burns -- a critic of illegal immigration -- has poked fun at the immigrants doing work around his house.

Well, what do you know? Apparently the folks who crashed on that mysterious island get rescued sometime before Summer, 2006 (in the show, the crash happened in August, 2004), because amiable fat guy Hugo "Hurley" Reyes (the one waist deep in the ocean at right) is now a handyman in Montana. Seems like quite a change from being a hard-luck multi-millionaire, but that's why Hollywood writers get paid the big bucks.

Forget about Senator Burns's insensitivity. Can you trust the judgment of someone who hires a clinically depressed morbidly-obese slacker to work odd jobs around his house? Maybe Reyes was a major contributor to Burns before Oceanic 815 crashed and the Senator feels like he owes Hurley one...


Monday, August 21, 2006

Some pics of Jackson to hold you over

Jackson in a fall sweater.

Jackson's first time in "the Jumpy Thing."

Jackson with his cousin Kayla.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Question Authority, Eat a Grinder

So 100 or so protesters were expected to march in Leominster yesterday to protest alleged police brutality following a punk-rock concert at a church (!) last weekend. The police were ready, reinforcements had been brought in. The Telegram and Gazette picks up the story:
It was set to begin at 2 p.m., but no protesters had arrived by then. Police staff could be seen through the department's second-floor windows, waiting. One had binoculars.

By 2:30, Lt. Robert J. Healey came out to talk with reporters. He said the protest organizer had come by Friday night to finalize the permit, and promised 100 attendees. Now, nobody knew if there'd be even one....

A few minutes later, four punk fans showed up. They weren't connected to the organizer, but had heard about the protest and wanted to show support....

But for the next hour and a half, not much would be said. The four protesters sat quietly on the grass, two reading magazines. At one point, Lt. Healey even re-emerged to ask if anyone else was coming. The protesters said they didn't know.

Finally, at 4 p.m., the organizer of the event showed up. He was flustered and peeved, complaining of punk fans who were driving around, too afraid to stop and join such a small gathering. Seven would-be protesters had even chosen to skip the event and went to eat at a nearby Subway, he said. (emphasis mine)
And that's what the punk movement has come to. Rage? Only if the kid behind the counter forgets the mayo.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

T&G reader takes on terrorism

Oh those crazy T&G readers. It's almost to the point where I can't wait to read the Saturday morning Telegram and Gazette just to see this week's letters to the editors. It seems like the editor has decided that he's going to empty his desk drawer of all of the odd letters he's received during the week.

Today's gem
(emphasis mine):
I find it unbelievable that people in general call Hamas, Hezbollah, the Lebanese people, the Palestinians and almost everyone who is not connected to Israel terrorists. No one seems to report nor care that Israel murders the above groups as well as children. Israel destroys their olive gardens, enters their homes in the night and shoots their teenagers to death and pretty much does just as it pleases with no one referring to Israel or its people as terrorists.
Anyone else left with this image in my head of reporter Richard Engel wearing his flak jacket kneeling in front of a smoldering Italian restaurant as he picks up an object and reports, "tragically, these bread sticks went uneaten..." followed by an interview with an Israeli spokeswoman expressing regret, but insisting that if hungry townspeople had heeded warnings and gone to Bertucci's instead, they would not have been affected.

No? It's just me?

Previous T&G Letters to the Editor:
Worcester: the San Diego of the East
Is State Senator Barrios a Bush Crony
Rem-Dawg Debate Rages in Worcester
Jerry Remy has "lost all touch with reality"


Friday, August 18, 2006

Enough Already

I love the Red Sox and have always looked forward to their games with the Yankees. But God Bless America, does every game have to go four hours? After a while, these contests move from tension to tedium. When it's 11:25 and only the top of the seventh inning--without the help of a rain delay--I'd say this game has crossed that line.

Update: And then after all of that, the bullpen gives up seven runs in the seventh inning...sigh.


Boy, was that painful

I'm not sure what happened, but about midnight last night Blogger decided to go kablooey on me. I made the mistake of trying to switch over to the new Beta version of Blogger and when that didn't work, everything else stopped working too.

I assume the good folks at Google finally figured out what was wrong (or finally got to my issue out of hundreds), but either way, it looks like I'm back, baby! Wooooo!

And I promise not to try the new Blogger again until they drag me kicking and screaming.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Worcester: the San Diego of the East

In a letter to the editor of the Telegram and Gazette, a local man made the outrageous claim that San Diego was a more desirable city than Worcester. Crazy, I know. Then he posed a couple of suggestions on how to make Worcester better:
...The restaurants where we ate were immaculate and far superior to anything in this local area. There was a place called Supplantation, which offered all you could eat for $7.29, and it was fabulous. Other super restaurants were Denny's and Ruby's, plus a Mexican restaurant where we held the wedding rehearsal dinner...
I've always said the nothing makes a city great like a $7.29 buffet and a Denny's or Ruby Tuesday's on every corner.
California offers more tourist opportunities than one can fine [sic] time for. We also found an excellent Bible-believing church which is similar to the one we attend in Clinton. Worcester should take a tip from this and try to improve its image. I might add that even though the weather was very hot, we didn't mind it, as the humidity was low compared to here and there were no mosquitoes.
Well sure, Worcester could use a beach where the seals can play or a world-class zoo, but I'd dare say there are plenty of churches. Maybe the city can buy some newfangled weather-control technology to make every day sunny, 80, and mosquito free.

How would you make Worcester more like San Diego?
More Denny's and Ruby Tuesday's!
More Churches!
Turn Auburn into Tijuana!
Sink Metrowest into the sea and let seals roam free.
Stoke up the weather machine!
Wistah's already better!
Free polls from

Previous T&G Letters to the Editor:
Is State Senator Barrios a Bush Crony
Rem-Dawg Debate Rages in Worcester
Jerry Remy has "lost all touch with reality"


"...these are their stories"

Among a whole host of reasons I'm looking forward to Jackson becoming a toddler is the fact that I'll get to watch stuff like this on Seasme Street again:

Chung Chung!

Previously: "Don't Take Your Ones to Town"

Monday, August 14, 2006

Is this the state's oldest route sign?

Welcome Starts and Stops and Universal Hub readers. Make yourselves at home.

Is this the oldest numbered route sign still in use in Massachusetts? Could it possibly be the oldest route sign in the country? I'm on a mission to try to find out...

I was driving down Main Street in Leominster last weekend when I noticed this old Route 12 sign attached to a lamppost downtown.

I am something of an aficionado when it comes to route signs (I have a collection of different signs from around the country that I have bought on eBay, and yes, that probably makes me weird) and immediately recognized that this was a rare sign. I've traveled across country more than once, driven all throughout the northeast, perused countless websites dedicated to road trips and highway signs, and I've never seen a sign like this "in the wild."

I had a decent idea that the sign was pretty old, but I decided to do a little more research in an effort to track down a date. I haven't pinpointed a specific year, but there are a couple of clues to it's general age:

  1. The old block typeface used to create the "12" on the sign was in use from 1927 when the first national standards for highway signage were introduced until 1948, when the recommendations changed to the rounded font that is used on most highway signs today.
  2. The use of "cat's-eye" reflectors to illuminate signs at night was introduced in the first Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) in 1935. The 1939 version of the manual recommended that all route signs be reflectorized using either the cat's-eye reflectors or another method.
  3. Other collectors of signs have dated Massachusetts signs with this numbering style and these reflectors to the "1930s or early 40s."
So I'm fairly certain that the sign was manufactured sometime between 1935 and 1948, and most likely it was created after 1939. Further, it almost definitely was not created between 1942 and 1945, as steel and other metals would have been used almost exclusively for World War II.

My next steps are to attempt to find some photographic evidence pinpointing a time period for this style of sign, if not a photo of Leominster itself with the sign posted.

To this point, I haven't had a lot of luck, although I have come across a couple of pictures of other towns that help date other styles of route signs. For instance, the book Building Route 128 features a number of photos from the period. Only a couple have route signs in them, but one photo from the early 1950s shows a white on black route sign using the modern font, and a photo from the late 1920s or early 30s shows a route 128 sign similar to our route 12 sign, but without the reflectors.

Since it looks like I have about exhausted my internet resources, my next destination is the Leominster library and the Historic Society to see if I can find any photos of town from that era. I will also keep looking to see if I can find any evidence that an older sign is posted anywhere in the state. I doubt it, it's unusual to still see route signs from the 1960s anymore, not to mention signs that go back to a pre-WWII era, and I have yet to come across any evidence that a similarly old sign exists. As for being the oldest route sign in the country still in use...there must be an older one somewhere, but again, I haven't seen any evidence of it.

If you know of a sign that predates this one and is still in use, or if you have photos from this era that would help nail down the date let me know.


Grand Theft Auto: Leominster

I usually roll my eyes when I hear someone complain that too much video games, movies, music, etc. end up corrupting our youth. I mean, I played a lot of Atari growing up, and other than being "husky" I think I turned out all right.

But I can't help but wonder where the kids in this mini-mob scene at Leominster High School got their ideas. Essentially, here's the story:

A 14-year-old freshman decides he's going to sneak out of school and break into an area home, making off with $23,000 in cash. He then goes back to school, and tries to pay a couple of seniors for "protection" since he's carrying thousands of dollars around school with him. The seniors come up with a better idea, and offer to sell the freshman some drugs. When the seniors meet the 14-year-old in the bathroom to make the transaction, they cut the lights and take $2,300 from the kid.

The story got me thinking about a few things...
  • What the hell is going on at Leominster High School, anyway?
  • Who cuts class, breaks into a house, steals $23,000 and then goes back to school?
  • And then, what freshman would ever trust three seniors with the knowledge that he had $23,000 stuffed in his backpack or locker? The kid has probably already got his share of purple nurples and wedgies, yet he tells these kids he's got thousands of dollars? And he wants to pay them for "protection?"
Forget about MCAS, someone needs to teach these kids a little common sense. Or that if you play Grand Theft Auto in the real world, you'll probably get into trouble.


Friday, August 11, 2006

The end of a Patriots' dynasty

Based on tonight's performance, I've come to the conclusion that we are at the end of a Patriots' dynasty.

No, no, not the team on the field; I'm sure that they will end up competing for a spot in another Super Bowl. I'm talking about Gil and Gino. I got to hear about 15 minutes of them tonight, and I was saddened to realize that their time has come.

Gil could not get a handle on even the basics. He struggled to spot the ball correctly, was puzzled over why the officials were huddling (he eventually spotted a flag), incorrectly explained the options available to the Patriots when the penalty was being marked off, and misidentified players. Gino was no better, struggling to find a way to explain the action on the field. His voice also sounded weak and old. At least Gil sounded good, even if he wasn't sharp.

I love these guys, Gil especially. Gil is a legend. He may have the best radio voice I've ever heard (although Vin Scully is pretty awesome too). His call of the Patriots' first Super Bowl win will be one of my all-time great sports memories. He will always hold a special place in my memory.

Unfortunately, he and Gino have become Statler and Waldorf without the jokes.


I've got nothing

I've read that in order to keep people reading a blog, the author needs to keep publishing. Makes sense. So I've decided to post this despite the fact that I've got nothing.

Maybe it's just that time of year-- "the Dog Days of Summer" if you will-- but there hasn't been much that has grabbed me in the last week or so.

Or maybe staying up late to watch one nut-crushing Red Sox loss after another is starting to take it's toll on me.

Regardless, I've got nothing.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Todd Gross: Hazy, Hot and...

...I just can't make myself type the rest. If I do, I think I'll fall off my chair laughing. It might be the most absurd thing I've ever read. Here, take a look for yourself:

Eight months after Channel 7 abruptly showed the popular meteorologist the door, Gross has landed a freelance gig as pitchman for Tribe of Two Sheiks Hummus in WBZ 1030-AM radio spots.

"It's going to be hazy, hot and hummus in New England with Tribe Hummus! It's a great summer snack!"

Hazy, Hot and Hummus!


(via Universal Hub)

Previously: "Live Blogging" 7 News

Monday, August 7, 2006

Beware the invasion of those crazy Adventists

That's essentially the point of this morning's Sentinel and Enterprise article by Kyle Alspach warning of-- er, announcing--the planned opening of an Adventist church in Townsend:
Though already prevalent in North Central Massachusetts, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is looking to expand with a new congregation in Townsend.
Kyle is off to a great start, implying that the church doesn't need to open a new congregation since it's "already prevalent." I wonder if Kyle would suggest that other congregations with churches in each town have over-saturated the area.

With numerous churches and the Atlantic Union College in Lancaster, North Central Massachusetts is a hub for the denomination.

But members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church generally hold beliefs which depart from mainstream Christian teaching.

North Central Mass. is the the center of Adventist life in the New England, no doubt about it. But the reporter then implies that this is--I dunno--a bad thing?, a scary thing?, something more than it seems?, by including the ignorant suggestion that Adventists "generally" hold beliefs outside Christianity's "mainstream" (whatever that is).

I haven't read the 27 Beliefs (actually, I think it's 28 now) since I was in an Adventist history class 15 years ago, but I'm sure that Adventists "generally" hold very mainstream beliefs. There are a couple that aren't: a fairly convoluted view of the judgment that Adventists developed to explain away "The Great Disappointment of 1844" when Christ didn't return as expected, the whole idea of the "Spirit of Prophecy," and Saturday observance (although Jews might consider Saturday observance as a mainstream "religious" observance, if not "Christian). But "generally" Adventists hold beliefs that most other Christians do.

Congregants meet for a weekly service on Saturdays, the "seventh day," rather than Sundays.

They also "keep the Sabbath" -- one of the 10 commandments in the Bible -- by refusing to work or experience entertainment on Saturdays.

Ah, so that's it. Adventists aren't "mainstream" Christians because they go to church on Saturday and many of them refuse "to work or experience entertainment on Saturdays." Hmmm, I wonder if Kyle is similarly worried about an influx of Catholics, since the Pope has instructed Catholics that Sunday worship should not take a backseat to the "secular concept of weekends dominated by such things as entertainment and sport."

The church would be the eighth in the region for the denomination.

Besides Fitchburg and Leominster, two Seventh-day Adventist churches can be found in Lancaster, while others are located in Gardner, Sterling and Clinton.

Don't look now, Kyle, but there are more of those crazy Adventists in North Central Mass. than you think. According to this website, there are actually 11 Adventist churches (Athol, Gardner, Sterling, Clinton 2, Fitchburg 2, Lancaster 2, Leominster 2) and two additional unincorporated groups (Clinton, Gardner). So by the time a church in Townsend became official, it might in fact be the 14th Adventist church in the area.

Pretty scary, Kyle. Pretty scary.


In Defense of Matt Amorello

Someone had to do it, I guess. George Barnes of the Telegram and Gazette reminds readers that it was Matt Amorello who began work to make Route 2 between Phillipston and Erving safer for drivers. He suggests that while we're vilifying Amorello for a death in one of his high-profile tunnels, we should remember the lives he's helping save in a forgotten part of the state:

I'm interested in Matthew Amorello because he is also the Route 2 guy. He was state highway commissioner when the Route 2 safety improvement project got under way. He pushed the project, [and] promised it would go forward...

Route 2 is not the Big Dig. It doesn't compare with the Big Dig in cost or scope. It also does not seem as frivolous as the Big Dig. The Big Dig was dug to make sure people could get to the airport or more easily to shopping around Boston. It was dug because people are unwilling to use public transportation. The Boston roads were clogged and something had to be done so that people could continue to avoid using public transportation.

The Route 2 project was started because the deaths of four young women in a car accident in October 1998 were just four deaths too many on a road where people were too often getting in accidents. The stretch of highway from Orange to Petersham is known locally as "Death Valley" because of the many deaths along those several miles of two-lane pavement.

The road is also the lifeline for a lot of struggling communities. There was almost no public transportation in the towns when the project began. The road is an often difficult road, but it is also a highway of hope for people looking to connect with the larger world.


It has been a hazardous road since it was built in the 1960s. It was built lacking proper climbing lanes, with ramps that just about require high-speed, 45-degree-angle turns to avoid tailgaters running you down. Now it is getting fixed. There will be climbing lanes, better entrances and exits to ramps, a better line of sight for motorists -- and hope that more people will not be killed.

...a lot of changes have already been made this summer and more improvements are expected. And fixing the road was one of the first promises Matthew Amorello made when he became state highway commissioner. He said safety on Route 2 was a priority for him.

So far, he has been true to his word...

Barnes is right about that highway. The "Super-2" section west of Phillipston is on par with the "Suicide 6" two-lane freeway on Cape Cod. They have tried to do some things in the interim--banning passing east of Athol, placing rumble strips and reflector posts along the center stripes, requiring drivers to drive with their headlights on--but it is a treacherous stretch. Some drivers attempt to take it at 65 mph, while trucks and old ladies end up doing 45 or less, with nowhere to pass. The road is heatraveledelled, and creates dangerous driving conditions and lots of frustration and anger.

I've driven that stretch a number of times going to and from the family homestead in Vermont (including a trip yesterday to our annual family reunion) and I hate it. Hopefully the construction will be done soon.


Saturday, August 5, 2006

Congressional pork, with a nice honey glaze

Montana research firms are in line to receive $15 million over five years to develop anti-landmine technology.

Sounds like a good idea. Oh, did I mention that the new "technology" is honey bees and lasers?

That's right. We're spending $15 million to teach honey bees how to find land mines:
Some convinced insects could be used to detect bombs

Gazette Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Montana researchers' vision of honeybees swarming across a field to detect landmines in Afghanistan or roadside bombs in Iraq may get a $5 million boost after Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., included the funding in a Defense Department spending bill.

The researchers believe they are on the verge of perfecting a briefcase-size system that can be carried around and deployed easily, using laser technology to track bees that have been trained to find explosives.


The researchers estimate the total program cost at $15 million over five years. Congress at Burns' request appropriated money in previous defense spending bills for the bee research, including $1.9 million in fiscal year 2005 and $2.8 million in fiscal 2006.

The researchers' first obstacle, they say, is credibility. It seems people have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept of bomb-finding bees.
"It seems people have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept of bomb-finding bees."

Ya think?


No arms, no heart

I've never been a fan of Tebucky Jones. Frankly, I don't think he's a very good football player. In fact, he's such a poor tackler-- he attempts to knock people over instead of wrapping them up-- that after pinballing off a ball-carrier that he refused to wrap up I've been known to yell "Look Ma, no arms!" at the TV.

Apparently he has no heart either, as the Hartford Courant reported yesterday that he is attempting to evict his mother from the home he bought for her:
NEW BRITAIN -- Tebucky Jones, a New England Patriots football star and former New Britain High School standout, is trying to evict his mother from a condominium he bought for her.

Jones filed a complaint in Superior Court in June. He claims his mother, Maryann Jones, is not paying rent.

"He belongs in the hall of shame, not the hall of fame," Maryann Jones said Thursday at the Plainville condo.
Trust me, Mrs. Jones, your son is no threat to the make the hall of fame.
Maryann Jones signed the deed for the condo back to Tebucky Jones, for no money, in January 2006. It is unclear whether the mortgage on the property has been paid.

Tebucky Jones claimed his mother had agreed to pay $115 rent every month but stopped doing so in January. In June, he issued a legal notice ordering her to leave the condo by June 21.

Maryann Jones declined Thursday to discuss the situation.

Shanequa Jones said Thursday that Tebucky talked their mother into signing the deed over by saying he would take care of the condo and pay for everything.

"My mother trusted him and thought her son was trying to help her get out of debt," said Shanequa Jones. "Basically he's trying to put my mother out on the street. My mother is sick and you're doing all of this?"
Tebucky is trying to evict his mother over $115 a month? So, even if she hasn't paid him a dime (and really, why would a millionaire athlete ask his mom to pay rent?), she only owes him $920. It's got to cost him as much to evict her as it would to just let his mother live in peace.

As an aside, it's obvious that the Inside Track at the herald doesn't watch the games, since it refers to Tebucky as a "tackle titan" in this morning's rewrite of the Courant piece. The Herald caption writer also botched the assignment, referring to the safety as "tackle Tebucky Jones."


Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Leominster baseball proposal stumbles forward

The Telegram and Gazette reports that the city is toddling along with it's proposal to build a minor league ball field on the site of the old landfill:

LEOMINSTER-- Armed with conceptual renderings that show a 4,000-seat stadium flanked by a restaurant and a 6,000-square-foot hotel and conference center, city officials are readying a marketing effort to secure public financing for the $16 million project proposed for the capped landfill off Mechanic Street.

Assistant Planning Director Andrew Taylor and Purchasing Agent Gregory C. Chapdelaine have been working on the project since 2003, when the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball first expressed interest in putting a franchise in the city. League founder and CEO Frank Boulton said in May that the market could support another minor league team if the city could develop a financing package for the stadium.

Mr. Taylor and Mr. Chapdelaine yesterday said they were hopeful the new renderings will show the state the promise of the site near Route 2 and Interstate 190.
A couple of things...First, I'm assuming that the "6,000-square foot hotel" is a typo, unless the proposal is for the Mudville Bed and Breakfast. There are homes in Leominster with over 6,000 square feet.

Second, I know the state is run by some pretty simple folks, but I wouldn't think this "conceptual rendering" would turn too many heads. It looks like someone cut-and-paste a PrintShop ballfield onto a Google map. I think there are versions of "Sim City" that produce more attractive ballfields than rendered here.

The site would also be attractive if the city sought to use the stadium for non-league events, such as Little League tournaments.

"It's one-stop shopping," Mr. Taylor said, explaining that a tournament organizer would likely be attracted to the possibility of staging an event on the same campus as the accommodations for guests. "Everything you need is right there for you. You have everything as soon as you turn off the highway."

Mr. Mazzarella said he was confident in the plans for the complex, even if they evolve over time to incorporate other athletic uses. He noted the professional soccer club the New England Revolution is looking for a new home.

Sigh. Let's get one thing out of the way right now: there will never be a Little League tournament here. A little league field is only 2/3 the size of a regulation field, and Little league organizers aren't going to set up bases on a makeshift diamond just to play in Leominster. There are dozens of very good Little League fields throughout Central Mass. and statewide, and those fields will continue to host Little League events. A MIAA tournament? maybe. Babe Ruth or American Legion? A possibility. Little League? Never.

(And yes, I know that's a little thing, but if our city leaders are ignorant of what groups may be interested in using a stadium they want to build, I wonder what other elements of the project they are missing.)

And Mayor Mazzarella is on the moon if he thinks the New England Revolution would (A) build a MLS-level stadium in Leominster or (B) would share such a stadium with an Atlantic League baseball team.

An MLS stadium would seat around 25,000. Does he think we have the infrastructure at that site to support a stadium of that size? Does he think 20,000 people would travel to Leominster twice a week to see the Revolution play?

Further, the MLS team in Washington DC is in a bitter dispute with the Washington Nationals over the wear and tear on their multi-use stadium. Does he think the Revs would be A-OK with sharing a field with a minor-league baseball team and all of his mythical little leaguers?

(As an aside, I almost laughed out loud at the Mayor's suggestion, both because it's laughable on it's face, and because two months ago I facetiously suggested he steal the idea of building a soccer stadium from Jason at Save Fitchburg.)

I'm skeptical of the plan. As I wrote in May:

The city needs to be 100% sure that a team will be successful before it helps to build a ballpark. Unlike an indoor arena like the Tsongas Arena in Lowell or the Verizon Center in Manchester which can be used to host hockey, basketball, tennis, boxing, curling, and other concerts and civic events year 'round, a ballpark is what it is. Other than the occasional concert while the home team is on the road, or perhaps hosting a baseball event like an MIAA state championship, when a ballpark is empty, there isn't much use for it. The worst thing that could happen would be to build a ballpark and then have it sit empty ten years down the road because an independent team or league has folded.


Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Hey Boston, Get your hands off my wallet!

As though the city of Boston doesn't suck in enough money from people like me, now they want to charge me if I crack up my car?

That's outrageous.

Hey Boston, let's look at all of the ways that you already have your hand in the pocket of little old me from Leominster, who goes to the city maybe a half dozen times a year:

  • I already pay a tax to get into the city on the Turnpike, the Ted Williams tunnel, the Sumner, or the Tobin Bridge.
  • You get a cut of the outrageous parking fees I pay when I'm in town.
  • My auto insurance is higher because many residents of you fair city can't walk around the block without test-driving the first car they see.
  • My income taxes pay the bills of a lot more of your citizens than the bills of my neighbors.
  • I'm paying for your crumbling tunnels, which I hardly ever use and you charge me for even when I do.
Your streets are a moonscape of potholes and craters, yet I should have to pay if I get in an accident trying to avoid one? How about raising funds by fining the contractors that tear up your streets and refuse to put them back together.

Your cab drivers, delivery trucks, and generally lazy drivers double and triple park at their leisure, but I'm going to get tagged if I bend a fender trying to avoid them? How about raising funds by ticketing or towing these scofflaws?

Your pedestrians clog up the streets by sauntering in out of traffic in an elaborate city-wide game of chicken, and you're going to charge me if I side-swipe a parked car in an effort to save some jaywalker's life?

Maybe the cost of services in your city would go down if you stopped paying cops to smoke crack and snort cocaine.

Boston, I know you've discussed the idea of taxing any visitor to the city, using a London-style system of cameras and transponders to either keep people out, or charge them for coming in. Maybe you should just take it one step further and set up a toll booth on every highway, avenue, street, and alley coming into the city. Take each of us for a couple of bucks every time we enter.

In fact, you could set it up like a customs checkpoint, and charge a tax for people leaving with items they bought in town. Or better yet, maybe you could secede from the union and charge each of us $100 for a visitor's visa or a work permit.

Anything for a buck.


"A bad decision"

We have a clear frontrunner for Understatement of the Month. George Barnes of the Telegram and Gazette reports this morning on arrests in Gardner over the weekend. His lead:
GARDNER-- A bad decision while drinking led a local teenager and a 14-year-old boy on a spree of car theft and vandalism at a used car dealership, police say.
And what was this "bad decision?"
According to police reports filed with the court, Mr. Nims told police he and the boy were drinking early Saturday morning and decided to break into Chair City Auto Sales on Pearson Boulevard. They broke in, causing extensive damage to the small office building on the dealership lot, including smashing windows and attempting to set the building on fire. They then took two vehicles from the lot, and drove them onto Bickford Playground, damaging the playground and the vehicles. They then took two other vehicles from the dealership, drove them about a half mile down the road to Gardner Plaza and crashed them in the woods behind the Staples store. They were caught crossing the plaza and arrested, first for trespassing and later for charges connected with the theft of the vehicles and damage to the dealership.
Yup, I'd say that would qualify as a bad decision.



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