Sunday, December 31, 2006

Top 10 of 2006: #5 State's Oldest Route sign

Over the last 10 days of the year, I will be looking back at my top 10 posts of 2007. Some are included because of my interest in the subject, some because of their popularity with readers, some because I just thought they were well written.

While driving through Leominster one afternoon, I noticed what just might be the coolest thing on the highways and byways of Massachusetts. I wasn't the only one who thought it was cool, as I got a number of visitors thanks to mentions on Universal Hub and in's Starts and Stops blog.

August 14, 2006
Is this the state's oldest route sign?

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.


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hurricane Katrina claims another victim

According to 7 News Today in New England:


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Jackson's First Christmas

While he doesn't yet get the fuss, he had a great time just the same. Here are some pictures from Jackson's first Christmas.

Jackson and Santa at Papa's Christmas party.

Jackson's big present from us was a new wagon. Since it was such a nice day Christmas Eve, we put it together a day early and took him out for his first ride.

Modeling a new Christmas sweater.

With Daddy.

Trying out the new chair from Grammy and Grampy.

Sitting with Mommy opening his stocking on Christmas morning.

Checking out the gift from Auntie Astrid and Auntie Chesley.

All dressed up for Christmas dinner at Nana and Papa's.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Top 10 of 2006: #6 No News is good News, just ask channel 7

Over the last 10 days of the year, I will be looking back at my top 10 posts of 2007. Some are included because of my interest in the subject, some because of their popularity with readers, some because I just thought they were well written.

Staying up one night with a fussy baby, I decided to record the 11 o'clock channel 7 news broadcast and do a "live blog" of it. Man, did I pick the right night to do it. The show ended up being a perfect parody of an everyday channel 7 newscast, with alliteration after alliteration, vapid sportscasters, and a wickedly funny line by an anchor.

June 29, 2006
"Live Blogging" 7 News

11:00 -- Live from Boston, it's Seven News, on the News station..and we're off.

11:00 -- Relentless Rain, Fleeing the Floods, Record Rain, Rivers Rise, Fierce Flooding. Wow, we're not even a minute into the news cast and we have five alliterations. To Dan Housle for more...

11:01 -- Dan the Man likes tan in a can.

11:02 -- Another "Fierce Flooding" graphic gets us to Pete Bouchard, who tells us we won't have any flooding here.

11:03 -- A two-for-one. Christa Delcamp describes Pedro's return as a "Horrible Homecoming." The graphic over her shoulder reads Horrifying Homecoming.

11:03 -- To smiley happy Joe Amorosino, with Pedro Pounded on the video wall behind them. Fan with the obligatory Napoleon Dynamite sign "Vote for Pedro" in the montage.

11:05 -- Despite the happy talk from Pedro, smiley happy Joe assures us that he was "terribly embarrassed." How would he know that?

11:05 -- A "Tragic Turn" for two guys who met on the internet for rough sex and ended up dead. To Nichelle King, live from the house of ill repute: "this time, S&M turned out to be...Suicide and Murder." Oh brother.

11:07 -- A deadbeat dad is arrested in...wait for it...a Funeral Home Fiasco. I wonder if the anchor ever looks at the graphic on the video wall and has the urge to stand in front of it, trying to block the foolishness from our view.

11:08 -- Whenever I see or hear a reference to Braintree, I get the old Dave Dinger Ford jingle stuck in my head: "Come to Daaaave Dinger Ford, in Braintree (in Braintree)." It's in there now.

11:08 -- And we have our first story without an alliteration as part of the lead...and it's about the guy whose penile implant malfunctioned. If ever a story cried out for a snarky, sing-song headline, this is it. And nothing.

11:08 -- Jeff Glor tries to tell us this story really isn't funny.

11:09 -- You have a plastic tube loaded with springs implanted in your penis and you're shocked that it's painful? Seems like that would be the default position, no?

11:10 -- Back on track. Police find Cocaine in the Crib. Those two don't at all look like druggies.

11:10 -- Quick mention of break-ins at a Lawrence Boys and Girls club. No "Lawrence Larceny"? "Gang Grab," maybe? Someone's slipping.

11:10 -- Osama is releasing a "Terror Tape." Not very terrifying video of a smiling Osama plays.

11:11 -- Segue to updates from the "Crisis in the Middle East." As though there is only one.

11:12 -- And here is what we have to look forward to in segment two: Star Jones is out! Creepy robots! Weather! Vladimir Putin...ewwww! Nerds with Video Games! Stay tuned.

11:12 -- Am I the only one bothered that the news announcer guy reads a tag line for Mercedes Benz and points people to the their website for more info. It's not as bad as it used to be. There was a stretch where the news was sponsored by Chrysler and the little blurb point people to go to the website for more information. I guess I don't think a news organization should be lending it's credibility to shill for it's sponsors.

11:15 -- And we're back, with a story on Star Jones firing. I'm a little surprised that an NBC station is reporting on the changes at an ABC talk show, but I guess that's the only celebrity news of the day.

11:16 -- Randy is voicing over a story on these robots MIT is creating that essentially look like Cartoon faces on mechanical arms. Looks like the faces can move their eyes to follow the subject, can smile. Is that one moving in for a kiss? Are these the sex robots people were talking about last week? Randy throws in a "seriously smart".

11:17 -- Nerds falling prey to video game addiction. Risking Reality. Byron Barnett reporting, should I count that as an alliteration too?

11:18 -- So they're doing a story on video game addiction, they are talking to a woman who purportedly ruined her life playing video games and is now being treated for her addiction, and they have video of her at her computer, headset on, playing the game. Doesn't that undermine the story a little? If you had a story about a recovered alcoholic, you wouldn't film them drinking because having a drink could cause a relapse. So if this is a real addiction, how is it that they film a recovering addict doing the exact thing she is recovering from?

11:20 -- Pete Bouchard tries to save the segue by proclaiming that he's "addicted to weather maps." OK.

11:21 -- Pete is a good egg. I don't miss Todd Gross at all, but if you do, be sure to tell him just how much.

11:22 -- And here is the video of Vladimir Putin greeting children, pulling up a young boy's shirt, and kissing the youngster on the belly. Yuck. And Christa hits it out of the park: "I'm sure he's going to be talking about his eccentric Uncle Vladimir to all of the other kids." Randy Price laughs nervously.

12:23 -- Smiley happy Joe coming up next, with Sox highlights.

12:24 -- I hate these Toyota commercials. Come on for a drive, Feel the sunshine, stab hot pokers in my eye.

11:26 -- Sox win. Lastings Millidge is bad. Pedro taken deep by "soft-hitting" Alex Gonzalez. Whatever. On to Dave Briggs for more.

11:27 -- Cookie Cutter Dave (can you tell I don't like the 7 Sports guys? Didn't know if that was clear) tells us that the Sox ownership must be "privately ecstatic that their golden boy (Josh Beckett) was shining while the one the let walk struggled." Twice now, the Sports guys have told us that someone must be this or that despite what they said. That's absolutely wrong. If you want to get someone with knowledge of a person or situation to tell you that they believe "X" despite the fact they say "Y" to make your argument then do it. That's called reporting. But don't tell me what you think someone must be feeling. If I want that kind of groundless speculation, I'll tune in to talk radio, thank you.

11:29 -- Commercials. Did the Yanks win? Blue Jays? We didn't get any scores from around the league, so I have no idea. But at least I've been assured by Dave Briggs that Sox brass felt vindicated.

11:31 -- Back to the Studio for a good bye. If you're looking for a final tally, we had 14 alliterations (excluding "Byron Barnett") in 14 stories during the news segment, for a slugging percentage of 1.000. Highlight of the show, er, newscast: Christa's fantastically snarky comparison of Vladimir Putin to a sexual deviant.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Top 10 of 2006: #7 Jackson's birth

Over the last 10 days of the year, I will be looking back at my top 10 posts of 2006. Some are included because of my interest in the subject, some because of their popularity with readers, some because I just thought they were well written.

Since our son Jackson was born June 2, I have periodically posted photos and updates. Most of them are basic photo galleries with captions; nothing special about the posts, except that they portray the most wonderful child ever (yes, I'm biased). So while Jackson's birth is undoubtedly the #1 event of the year, if not my life, none of the individual posts are particularly noteworthy, but I've included the first one just the same.

June 5, 2006
Welcome Home, Jackson

Jackson came home with us from the hospital Sunday afternoon, and we just got back from his first doctor's appointment a few minutes ago. He passed with flying colors and it appears that he is healthy and happy. He has a mild disposition and even let us sleep for three or four hours at a time last night. Here are a few more pictures from the hospital Friday night and Saturday:

Jackson getting ready for his first night of sleep.

Jackson and Papa.

Jackson and Nana.

All dressed up and ready to come home.


Kayla welcomes Jackson home.

Not to overdo the cute thing, but when Kayla and Nana came to visit after we got home from the hospital, Kayla made sure to formally introduce herself. Kayla walked over to Jackson, pointed to her chest and said "I'm Taylor Morning" (that's what she calls herself, she hasn't gotten her name down yet), then pointed at her grandmother and said "This is Nana."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Top 10 of 2006: #8 Beware of the Bird Flu and a Tsunami

Over the last 10 days of the year, I will be looking back at my top 10 posts of 2006. Some are included because of my interest in the subject, some because of their popularity with readers, some because I just thought they were well written.

In May, ABC aired mini-series dramatizing what could happen in America should a Bird Flu epidemic hit. Since the mayor of Leominster obviously thinks we're all stupid, he called a press conference to remind citizens that it was just a movie and not to panic. Thankfully, not all of us are that dumb, some of us are more correctly concerned about tsunamis...

May 20, 2006
Panicked over the bird flu? It could be worse..."We could have a tsunami"

Panicked Leominster residents flee flu-ridden birds, despite mayor's plea for calm.

That was all I was planning to add today to the absurd notion that the mayor of Leominster called a press conference to tell residents not to panic in response to last night's made-for-TV movie, Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America. But thanks to the Sentinel and Enterprise--whose reporters I sincerely hope penned today's article with tongues planted firmly in their cheeks--the bird flu is the gift that keeps on giving:

Many locals feel bird flu TV movie goes too far
By Marisa Donelan

Leominster resident Dali Morales says a made-for-television movie about a fictional avian flu pandemic in the United States, which aired last night on ABC, is too over-the-top.

"When I first heard about it, I thought the ideawas kind of cool," she said Tuesday afternoon. "I've enjoyed disaster movies in the past. (Bird flu) is something that could happen, though. (But) I think the people who made the movie went too far."

The film, "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America," featured corpses heaped upon each other and whole neighborhoods under quarantine, according to a report by the Associated Press.


I don't think people are going to go out and prepare for anything," [Morales] said."They'll see it as a fiction movie, that's taken something that might happen and made a big exaggeration."

See that was my point yesterday: nobody was going to panic about the bird flu based on a TV movie because it was obviously fiction....what, you mean someone might?

But other local residents disagreed, saying the movie might stir up some anxiety over bird flu, a disease some doctors have said could create the world's next pandemic.

"I think the movie will start some hysteria unnecessarily," Leominster resident Donna Erickson said. "We should be leery of the disease, definitely. But I think the movie could potential spark some mass hysteria over something that hasn't happened yet."


Leominster Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella held a press conference on Monday to inform the public that city officials have a plan in place to deal with the bird flu, should a pandemic occur.

The mayor said on Tuesday that he didn't plan to watch the movie.

"No, I don't watch TV," he said.

Mazzarella said he doesn't think people will panic after watching the film, but it might raise awareness about the potential problem.

Wait, wait, wait. Now, the mayor does not think people will panic? Do you think he might have spoken up when Leominster Health Director Christopher J. Knuth said "I just don't want people to panic" at the press conference the mayor called to discuss the bird flu?

Guba Belanger, a Bedford resident who works in the Fitchburg Schools Central Office, was undecided Tuesday afternoon whether she would watch the movie....

The film may frighten some viewers who confuse television with reality, Belanger said.

"Everything on TV seems so real," she said. "It could really give someone a scare if they turned on the movie in the middle."

Again, I'm not concerned. My whole point all along is that my fellow citizens of Leominster are grounded in reality and...oh no...

Regardless of whether the movie is realistic or not, Erickson said viewers should remember that disaster hasn't yet struck.

"I think the filmmakers are taking advantage of the possibility of the flu," she said. "We'll deal with it when and if it comes. We could have a tsunami. Are we going to sit around and worry about that all the time?"

"We could have a tsunami"??!! Looks like the mayor has the topic for his next press conference. Perhaps he can use the forum to remind my frazzled neighbors that Leominster is 404 feet above sea level and a tsunami is probably the least of our problems.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Top 10 of 2006: #9 Bill Belichick's divorce

Over the last 10 days of the year, I will be looking back at my top 10 posts of 2006. Some are included because of my interest in the subject, some because of their popularity with readers, some because I just thought they were well written.

One of my most popular posts, thanks to a link from the sports humor site The Big Lead, was my guess at what Bill Belichick's deposition would sound like if he were to be called to testify in a divorce case in which he has been fingered as the "other man."

Even now, nearly six months later, I still get a handful of hits each day from people looking for info about the case, more often than not searching for pictures of the woman with whom Belichick is rumored to be carrying on.

July 20, 2006
Belichick on the hot seat?

Attorney: Please state your name and occupation.
Belichick: My name is Bill Belichick. I'm the HC of the NEP.

Attorney: How would you classify your relationship with Mrs. Shenocca?
Belichick: I'm a man. She's a woman. We relate. I guess that makes it a relationship.

Attorney: Would you say you had a sexual relationship?
Belichick: I can't say. I'm not an expert on that. There are experts for that sort of thing.

Attorney: I undestand you gave Mrs. Shenocca a watch. Could you describe the watch?
Belichick: It's a watch. It keeps time. It is what it is.

Attorney: Would you classify it as an expensive watch?
Belichick: I'm not a jeweler. You'd have to ask him.

Attorney: How much did you pay for the watch?
Belichick: I won't comment on contracts.

Attorney: What would you have to say to Mrs. Shenocca if she had attended the deposition today?
Belichick: I won't comment on the parties that aren't here. We're here to give a deposition and we have enough to do without worrying about who isn't here.

Attorney: Thank you.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Top 10 of 2006: #10 Baseball in Leominster

Over the last 10 days of the year, I will be looking back at my top 10 posts of 2006. Some are included because of my interest in the subject, some because of their popularity with readers, some because I just thought they were well written.

In May, talk started heating up again around the possibility of building a minor-league baseball stadium in Leominster. I panned the idea twice: once after a Sentinel and Enterprise article in May and again after an official unveiling of a plan in August:

May 8, 2006
Could a baseball team succeed in Leominster?

Once every summer, the local papers check in on the possibility of building a minor-league baseball stadium at the site of the old landfill at the intersection of rtes. 2 and 190. Today, the Sentinel and Enterprise ran this year's obligatory study of the project. The article looks at the status of the plan, and compares the effort to bring a team to Leominster to efforts to put teams in other New England cities. ...

I have some concerns. With so many teams close by (Worcester, Lowell, Nashua, Manchester, and Boston all within an hour or so) will a team in Leominster be able to draw enough fans to be profitable? The article points to Manchester as a success story.

Despite the similarities, I don't think that Manchester is a very good comparison for one important reason: The Fisher Cats are affiliated with a major league team. Leominster would not be, unless the Fisher Cats, the Lowell Spinners, and the Red Sox all waive their territorial rights, which preclude another affiliated team from playing within 35 miles of their respective parks.

With an affiliated team like the Fisher Cats or the Spinners, fans have the opportunity to watch players that will someday play in the major leagues in addition to the excitement of rooting for the local team. When I was in Toronto last summer for the Red Sox-Blue Jays series, there were a number of fans there with Red Sox shirts and Fisher Cats hats. Similarly, it's not unusual for fans of the major league team to travel to a minor league city to see their teams play. As a team in an independent league like the Can-Am League, a Leominster team would not have the same advantages.

A Leominster team would also likely split some of the potential fan base with the Worcester Tornadoes, a Can-Am League team. In fact, a check of the Tornadoes web site reveals that the Tornadoes are already working on building a following here in Leominster, with two visits to Leominster schools scheduled this month.

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.

If the city can ensure that a team will call Leominster home for years to come, I'll be the first one in line to buy tickets. But if they aren't sure that a tenant will be a partner for the long haul, they should not build the stadium.

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. ...

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. ...

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

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.
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.

[And] 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.)


Thursday, December 21, 2006

My Floral Gut

Today's news from the world of science was particularly interesting to me, as it appears that the reason I'm "husky" may be related to the creepy-crawlies in my belly:
Obese people have a distinctive mix of bacteria in their digestive systems that seems to make them prone to gaining weight, a startling discovery that could lead to new ways to fight the obesity epidemic, researchers reported yesterday. ...

The findings produced enthusiasm and caution from other researchers. Some praised the work for possibly offering a long-sought alternative explanation for the obesity epidemic. Perhaps some change, such as a food additive or antibiotic use, has caused a fundamental shift in gut flora, making it easier for many people to gain weight.
Don't you just love the term "gut flora?" That's so much more interesting than "intestinal microorganisms."

And not only could this breakthrough lead to a cure for obesity, it now gives some of us a more interesting excuse for our size. Instead of the stale "I'm just big boned" I now have the opportunity to come back with "It's not my fault I have a floral gut."

Much better.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

"That's what hate does."

It wouldn't be fair to tag all folks who oppose gay marriage as angry intolerant people who would resort to violence instead of debate. But it's clear that some of the movement's leaders are.

As reported in the Telegram and Gazette, the executive director of Catholic Citizenship left the stage during an anti-gay-marriage rally to assault a counter-protester.
WORCESTER-- Tempers boiled over at an anti-gay marriage rally yesterday when the executive director of the Boston-based Catholic Citizenship emerged from behind a lectern outside City Hall, rushed toward a female counter-demonstrator, and pushed her to the ground.

Sarah Loy, 27, of Worcester was holding a sign in defense of same-sex marriage amid a sea of green "Let the People Vote" signs when Larry Cirignano of Canton, who heads the Catholic Citizenship group, ran into the crowd, grabbed her by both shoulders and told her, "You need to get out. You need to get out of here right now." Mr. Cirignano then pushed her to the ground, her head slamming against the concrete sidewalk. ...

"Four judges do not get to decide what sin is," Mr. Cirignano said, as a chant of "Let the people vote" began to drown out the counter-demonstrators, who were outnumbered about 200 to 50.

Ms. Loy was holding a sign that read, "No discrimination in the Constitution" and counter-demonstrators were chanting, "You lost, go home, get over it," when she was pushed to the ground. Afterward, Ms. Loy, in tears, arose and yelled to no one in particular, "That's what hate does. That's what hate does."
What are they afraid of? Why do they resort to violence in the face of debate? Hopefully the Boston media will pick up the story and ask Ray Flynn and others who spoke at the rally why their leaders need to beat up their opponents.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

It's time to make the donuts

All I want is a Bavarian creme donut. Apparently, that's too much to ask of my local Dunkin' Donuts.

Since I was a kid, I have enjoyed Bavarian creme donuts. Most Sunday mornings when I was growing up, Dad would bring home Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast and I always had a Bavarian creme. It was what I did.

Now that I'm a somewhat responsible adult, I've shied away from donuts with powdered sugar, primarily because I don't want to show up at work with sugar all over my mug or down the front of my shirt. But it's a Saturday morning, we're out of cereal, so I decided I'd run down to get a coffee and a couple of donuts. I figure, "I don't care if I cover myself with powdered sugar, because I'm just lazing around the house anyway. I think I'll have a Bavarian creme donut."

Apparently, I have to fly all the way to frickin' Bavaria if I want a Bavarian creme donut because I can't get one at the Dunkin' Donuts on Central Street in Leominster.

To make matters worse, I then asked for a cinnamon donut because, again, it doesn't matter if I cover myself in powder...well, you get the gist.

"I'm sorry sir, we don't have cinnamon donuts."

It's a donut shop. "Donuts" is half of the name of the place. You'd think that I could get any of a number of different varieties of donuts at a place called Dunkin' DONUTS!

Note to the folks running Dunkin' Donuts: If I want bagels, I'll go to a bagel shop. If I want sandwiches, I'll go to a sandwich shop. If I want cookies or pastry, I'll go to a bakery. If I want donuts, I'll go to a donut shop.

Apparently I picked the wrong one.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Can we put the Red Sox away now?

I'm as happy as any other Red Sox fan that the team has gone out and signed one of the best pitchers in the world.

But can we please get on with the rest of our lives, at least until Spring Training begins?

I'm tired of being pounded over the head with Red Sox! Red Sox! Red Sox! every last minute of every day. I want to be able to turn on the news and not have Randy Price or Jack Williams or Natalie Jacobsen talking about the Red Sox. I want to be able to pick up a newspaper and not have every last story on the Sports page be about the Red Sox. I want to watch a Bruins game and not have Red Sox talk during every intermission, Red Sox news at the bottom of the screen every 15 minutes, and Red Sox players dropping the puck before the game.

Thing is, I love the Red Sox. I love lasagna too, but if I had Dr. Charles Steinberg and Larry Lucchino forcing lasagna down my throat every minute of every day, I'd eventually get sick of it. And I've about reached the point where I'd do anything to stop having the Red Sox force fed down my throat.

I can appreciate a little good marketing here or there, but what the Sox have been doing since John Henry bought the team has gone past marketing and is more like carpet bombing. For five off seasons now, from the never-ending highly public attempt to trade for Alex Rodriguez, to the never-ending highly public attempts every offseason to trade Manny Ramirez, to the smear campaigns waged against Nomar Garciaparra after he left, to holding a freaking press conference after Johnny Damon left, to dragging the groupies out to Hanscom Field to make it look like the pope himself was landing yesterday, it's all been about publicity.

Well, I'm tired. Please, let me enjoy the season. And then, when the season is over, let me recharge my batteries so I can root for you again. You wouldn't ask your players to go at full intensity all offseason, for fear that they would burnout. Don't ask it of your fans either.

Some of us are just about there.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Soy products cause "the gay"

According to a recent article on World Net Daily, infertility, obesity, poorly endowed men, and even homosexuality are caused by too much soy--"the devil food"--in our diets.

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them.
This just brings everything into clarity. I now realize the world is made up of two types of people: puny soy-loving gays and well-hung Christian beefeaters (insert Ted Haggard joke here).

And women, too. I guess that's three types of people.

But this part leaves me a little confused:
Research in 2000 showed that a soy-based diet at any age can lead to a weak thyroid, which commonly produces heart problems and excess fat. Could this explain the dramatic increase in obesity today?
So are man-boobs a product of excess fat, or excess estrogen?

Even with that mystery unsolved, it's nice to know that we've finally found what causes early puberty in girls, late puberty in boys, leukemia, breast cancer, infertility and obesity.

And "the gay."


City council raising rates on undrinkable water

The Leominster DPW has asked the City Council to approve a 23% increase in water rates for 2007. As if that's not bad enough, members of the council won't even drink the water:
LEOMINSTER-- A proposed 40-cent increase in water rates drew lively debate from members of the City Council, as well as some pithy comments from residents who opposed the plan. The increase would raise rates from $1.75 to $2.15 effective Jan. 1.

Joseph Corliss, a former councilor who spoke during the public forum of the council meeting, said he was curious to see that several councilors had bought bottled water from a vending machine nearby the council chambers.

"Why don't you get your water from a bubbler? [a bubblah! Ha!] It's probably because you've been reading the same reports we have about the water we have," Mr. Corliss said. He referred to deficiency reports the city has been required to send out about inadequate treatment of the water because of the lack of a treatment plant at one of the city's reservoirs.
And why are we facing such a high rate increase? Apparently it's because we're not using enough water:
During a public hearing on the rate increase, Roger H. Brooks, Department of Public Works business manager, told the council the increase was needed because of declining consumption and pending expenses necessary to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act, as well as other anticipated increases.

Mr. Brooks said two years of exceptionally rainy weather have caused people to use less water; as a consequence, revenues for the department have fallen. Mr. Brooks said, on average, this region receives about 40 inches of rain. In 2005, it received 61 inches of rain, and so far this year, 54.66 inches.
Now if anything speaks to the inefficiency of government, that is it. In the real world, when supply outpaces demand, the price goes down. But in the city of Leominster, apparently the price goes up. Way up.

Not that I should complain too much. While a 23% increase is significant, I'll still be paying about one-fifth of what an MWRA customer pays. Maybe I'll use the money I save on another case of Poland Spring.


Saturday, December 9, 2006

Wordpress or Wordmess?

I tried migrating my posts to a Wordpress blog, essentially to see if I liked it better than blogger. Since I did, all of my previous posts here have become an amalgam of run-on paragraphs.

Apparently, something about the migration process removed carriage returns from previous posts. The thing that's really weird is that the posts look normal (with correct line spacing) in the preview and composition areas, but are mush when I look at the published blog.

Guess I'll have to throw myself at the mercy of the Blogger staff to see if they can bail me out again. At least the whole thing isn't gone like it was when I attempted to move to Blogger Beta.

In any event, I invite you to go to the Wordpress No Drumlins site and then let me know which you like better.

Update: OK, that was really strange. Apparently during the migration process, my settings were changed to ignore line breaks. The idea that Wordpress would somehow change my settings to make my old blog essentially unreadable is certainly strike one against them. Anyway, I think I've fixed it.


Thursday, December 7, 2006

"Oh, The Shops!"

I don't know about you, but I suddenly have this urge to go shopping in Gardner.
They are no longer just the shops of downtown Gardner. Now, they are The Shops of Downtown Gardner.

In its latest attempt to promote the city's downtown stores, Square Two, a downtown advocacy organization, is doing a bit of branding. It wants people to think of the downtown businesses as a cohesive unit -- not just a disorganized strip of shops with no name, but a quaint, diversified place to browse called "The Shops of Downtown Gardner."
These Square Two folks have embraced one of the fundamental rules of marketing: There are only three things guaranteed to get people to buy what you're selling: bears, monkeys, and capital letters. Or something.
"When you refer to something in a different way, it sheds a new light on it," said Mark D. Hawke, the city's grants administrator and president of Square Two. "Somebody might say, 'Oh, The Shops, I might drive through and see what's down there.' "
Oh. The Shops!

Actually, The idea is genius. In fact I may try it. I want my wife to think that the pile of mail that I have to sort through is not just a disorganized mess of letters and magazines, but a quaint diversified collection of items I call "My Pile of Mail." I'll bet the next time I walk past the desk, I'll say "Oh, My Pile of Mail. I might sort through and see what's down there."
To be sure, downtown Gardner is not as healthy as the city would like. Some buildings, including the notable former Goodnow-Pearson building, are vacant and boarded up. Other storefront businesses, including a bureau of the Telegram & Gazette, are not retail, which makes them fairly worthless for shoppers walking the streets. ...

Still, there is shopping to be had, and a variety of stores line downtown's few blocks. In little time, a shopper could buy, say, sporting goods, a new watch, children's clothing and a DVD.

There's also food, including diners, pizza, a Chinese restaurant and the much-hyped latest addition, the Gardner Ale House. For sweets, there's a candy-making shop.
I dunno. The Shops at Gardner may inspire folks from Athol or Erving to make the trip, but that won't be enough to get the Volvo and Lexus crowd to venture outside of 495 for a DVD and a pizza. I'd have gone with The Shoppes at Gardnerville or Ye Olde Gardner Marketplace.


NFL Picks, Week 14

For entertainment purposes only. Picks are against the spread, straight up winners are in bold.

Pittsburgh (-7) over Cleveland (W, 27-0)
New England (-3.5) over Miami
Kansas City (-3) over Baltimore
Atlanta (-3) over Tampa Bay
Minnesota (+1.5) over Detroit
Tennessee (+1) over Houston
N.Y. Giants (+3) over Carolina
Dallas (-7) over New Orleans
N.Y. Jets (-4) over Buffalo
Jacksonville (+1.5) over Indianapolis
Washington (+1.5) over Philadelphia
Cincinnati (-11) over Oakland
Seattle (-3) over Arizona
San Francisco (-4.5) over Green Bay
San Diego (-7.5) over Denver
St. Louis (+6) over Chicago

Against the Spread
LAST WEEK   5- 11- 0  .313
TO DATE 83-101- 8 .453
THIS WEEK 1- 0- 0 1.000
SEASON 84-101- 8 .456

Straight Up
LAST WEEK   7- 9  .438
TO DATE 118-74 .615
THIS WEEK 1- 0 1.000
SEASON 119-74 .617

Monday, December 4, 2006

Wal-Mart Photo Center: "Bah Humbug!"

Now that we have a child, we decided to break down and get Christmas cards with the kid's picture to send to everyone this year. So we dressed Jackson up, set him in a little sleigh, propped him up on a TV tray table in front of the Christmas tree, took a bunch of pictures, and sent one to Wal-Mart to get some cards printed.

What an experience that was.

When I get to the photo counter Sunday evening, I give the kid with the floppy blond hair and the conspicuous tongue piercing my name, he searches for my photos, then he tells me that the manager has instructed that they not fulfill my order because the photos look too professional.

I told Slacker McSkaterdude that I was flattered that he thought my pictures looked that good, but that I'd just taken them in my living room the day before. The young man, who despite his appearance took his job very seriously, told me that if I could prove that I took the pictures, he'd let me have them.

I'm not sure exactly the look I gave him, but if the kid could read my face, it was saying "Prove that I took the pictures? You're kidding, right? And the lisp created by the tongue ring combined with your having to peer out at me from behind your bangs makes it hard to take you seriously." Showing admirable self-restraint, I asked Master Shaggy how he expected me to prove my photographic skills. He suggested I bring the camera in and show him the image, and he'd let me have the pictures.

I asked for a manager.

The kid started to get a little offended and I assured him that I wasn't angry at him (except for crimes against fashion) and that I realized that he was just doing his job, but that the whole thing was crazy. He said he understood, and that they've been told that they'll be fired if they let anyone get away with copyright infringement. Then he called Louise Jefferson over to answer my questions.

He explained what was happening and Weezie told me that she wasn't the manager who had flagged the photos, but that she'd be happy to take a look at them. After inspecting one of the cards for a moment, she agreed that I'd have to prove that they weren't professional and handed me one.

Weezie, Shaggy and I huddled around the photo like so many Florida election officials examining hanging chads. Luckily, I noticed that I hadn't cropped out the entire TV tray table, so I pointed it out. Either that was convincing enough, or Weezie was tired of dealing with me, so she finally released my Christmas cards.

You'd think Wal-Mart has more to worry about than keeping me from printing good looking pictures. Maybe I'll have to print blurry or off-center pics next Christmas to avoid the hassle.



No Drumlins Copyright © 2009 Premium Blogger Dashboard Designed by SAER