Friday, March 30, 2007

Today's Forecast: Mischief, Shenanigans

Got this in my box this morning from the National Weather Service in Taunton:

For instance, a beautiful sunny 65-degree day is, in fact, the perfect weather for boys to play with matches. Look for subsequent warnings of an elevated "Riding on Handlebars" risk and "Foul Ball through the window" risk.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Thanks for nothing, Home Depot

Well OK, thanks for the new gas stove. But the least you could have done is told me that I would need a licensed plumber or pipe-fitter to install it...

We bought a new stove last week from Home Depot in Leominster. The stove that was here when we bought the house was ancient, and we knew that we were going to have to replace it sooner rather than later. We knew that one burner didn't work, but seeing the flames shooting out of another was enough to convince us to get a new one now. It was delivered by Home Depot Friday.

So I get home from work last night and pull out the instructions...and right at the top is this message:
Customers from Massachusetts
State law requires that your new stove be installed by a licensed pipe-fitter or plumber...
Whatever. I figured I'd just do it myself...until I saw the rest of the instructions, then I decided I'd rather not be responsible for blowing up my house.

I quickly became angry at Home Depot. When we bought the thing, I asked the clerk if Home Depot would install it when they delivered it, and she said they would not. Would it be too much for her to also tell me that the law requires I get a professional to install it? If I'd known that, we'd have scheduled someone to come in Friday afternoon to install it. Now I've got to wait until Monday just to call someone; hopefully we'll find someone who can come out immediately.

In the meantime, we eat out.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Friday was a good day...I didn't get shot

Friday, I got sent home from work early so I could beat the storm, went with the baby to a local animal shelter to look at puppies, and got in and out of Leominster without getting shot. I can't think of a better day.

Something tells me that folks in town won't be so lucky one of these days. There was another shooting in the South End Wednesday night. Again, no one was hurt:
For the third time in three months, shots have been fired at the Litchfield Terrace apartment complex. The latest incident, Tuesday night, occurred when a private security guard was on the site....

Shots also were fired outside an apartment building in the complex in February, and there was a report of a drive-by shooting in January, when three bullets hit a car.

After the February shooting, a few residents told reporters they were worried for their safety. One woman said she hadn’t seen security guards there for several months.

Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella heard from residents as well. He said yesterday police have added patrols at the complex. Police are at the complex on foot and in cruisers, he said.
You mean the mall security rent-a-cop on duty wasn't enough to keep a gunman from peppering a passing car with 10 shots? I could have told you that:
After three shootings, the mayor's first thought is that an extra mall rent-a-cop or two are going to make a difference? The last shooting occurred when a maintenance man tried to foil a break-in (also in "broad daylight."). Does [Mayor Mazzarella] really think that a guy with a flashlight, a badge, and a walkie-talkie is going to keep this from happening?
The mayor and city council have talked about the effect new meal taxes could have on business. Maybe they should spend more time worrying about what will happen to business as people become more and more afraid to come to town to shop and eat out.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I'm afraid LOST jumped the shark tonight

I'm a LOST watcher. I admit it. I kind of enjoy trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together, although I think this season has dragged on quite a bit.

The little ties between each of the characters are kind of neat, but the whole "Claire, I am your father" revelation from Jack's dad tonight was a little too much to take.


When does Meehan want to be replaced?

Now that the worst-kept secret in Massachusetts politics--Marty Meehan's hiring as chancellor of UMass-Lowell-- is finally a reality, the next big question is: When will the special election to replace him be held?

Ore more specifically, when does Congressman Meehan want the election held? Does Congressman Meehan have a candidate he would like to succeed him? If so is he willing to use his power to determine the date of the election to the advantage of his proposed successor?

Because of the way the law is written, Meehan can essentially decide for himself when the election will be held. The law says that the governor must call the election for a date between 145 and 160 days after Congressman Meehan submits his resignation. Not the date his resignation is effective. That is key: the clock starts ticking the day Meehan officially delivers his letter of resignation.

I believe Meehan should wait until June 1 to officially resign.

If the congressman resigns on (or around) June 1, Governor Patrick could call the election for November 6, which would be the traditional "first Tuesday of November" election day. Because most of us are used to going to vote on that day, a November 6 election would probably garner the highest turnout. That would also put the primary September 25, just a week later than a regularly scheduled primary would be held.

There is a significant drawback to waiting until the first of June to announce: the fifth district would be unrepresented from July 1 until the middle of November.

Representative Meehan could conceivably announce his resignation as early as tomorrow, which would put the election in the first couple of weeks of August. The advantage of an early representation is that the district would only go a month or two without a representative, and late Summer is usually a pretty slow time in Washington, so they might not miss much.

But who is going to come out to vote in August? Or maybe more importantly, who will turn out to vote in a primary held between the end of school and the fourth of July? Turnout is low in a primary under normal circumstances, but holding one when many people are headed out on vacation would depress turnout even further.

The question then becomes, does Meehan want an early election, which would benefit a candidate with a strong organization, support among hardcore party members, and/or a lot of cash on hand? Or is his man (or woman) someone who would benefit from time to raise money and campaign, or from broader support because of high name recognition or moderate positions?
I don't know. Perhaps Meehan won't consider politics at all in his decision, and do what he thinks is best for the district. But I expect he'll choose a date that best helps him choose his successor.

UPDATE: It looks like Meehan is thinking earlier rather than later.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

You guys should have thought about that when you had the chance

Seems like this would have been a better idea, oh, 75 years ago:
When Adolf Hitler was awarded German citizenship, he abruptly brushed off the congratulations: "You should congratulate Germany, not me!"....

Three quarters of a century later, Isolde Saalmann, a Social Democratic member of Lower Saxony's regional parliament, would like nothing better than to rescind this momentous bureaucratic act. The Austrian-born Führer, who has been dead for almost 62 years, should no longer be a German, in her view. Stripping him of his citizenship would be a "symbolic step," Saalmann believes. She has already proposed her idea to the leadership of the SPD faction in the regional parliament.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Should American kids be deported or orphaned?

One of the problems with the policy of rounding up and deporting illegal immigrants already in the country is the effect that policy has on ordinary American citizens.

I'm talking about the children.

Fact is, a nine-month old child born in New Bedford to an illegal immigrant is just as much an American as my nine-month old son born in Lowell to parents who can trace their American heritage back to the 1630s.

So what happens to that nine-month old American citizen when his mother is rounded up at work, driven to an internment camp, and readied for deportation? Well, I guess we're going to find out:
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. --Dozens of young children were stranded at schools and with baby-sitters after their parents were rounded up by federal authorities who raided a leather goods maker suspected of hiring illegal immigrants, authorities said Wednesday....

As a result, about 100 children were stuck with baby sitters, caretakers and others, said Corinn Williams, director of the Community Economic Development Center of Southeastern Massachusetts....

”I’m not saying there won’t be children whose parents are detained and removed, but I am saying that every effort is going to be made to ensure no child is going to be put in jeopardy because of the removal,” [Marc Raimondi, spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement] said.
I can't imagine the fear and panic those children must be experiencing. When I was of school age, if my mother or father never came to school to pick me up, I'd have been scared to death. It probably will take those kids a long time to get over that fear.

Not to mention what the parents must be feeling. Imagine officers showing up at your workplace tomorrow cuffing you, putting you in a bus with no windows, and shipping you off to a former Army base to spend the night without your kids.

But beyond that, what do you do with those young U.S. citizens who have been separated from their parents? Seems to me that there are only a couple of options: either we deport Americans in order to keep them with their parents, or we make orphans of them and let the state raise them.

Those aren't very good options.

Which is why I'm in favor of some sort of a plan which allows illegal immigrants--especially those who are parents of American citizens too young to take care of themselves--a path to citizenship or other legal status.

If we want to find a way to keep illegal immigrants out of the country in the first place, go for it (For what it's worth, I think there are a lot of other issues more important than this one). But forcing American children to either leave the country or become orphans is unacceptable and immoral.


Monday, March 5, 2007

A moving target

Why did we move? Reason number one:

The view from my front porch on February 28:

The view from my front porch on March 1:

I've been needing to remind myself of this a couple of times over the last few days. No two ways about it...moving sucks. At least we're not going to have to do it again.

I had this romantic idea that I'd wake up the first morning in our new home, come downstairs, look out the picture window at our incredible view, and feel like had awaken in an old country Bed and Breakfast. In reality, I came downstairs and felt like I got up in a Bed and Breakfast full of crap.

We really have a lot of junk. This house is nearly twice the size of the home we just moved from, so I figured that the new house would be less cluttered than the old one. I've realized that the difference in square footage only means that the clutter is just spread out a little bit thinner.

But we're slowly getting things together. I told Michelle last night that I'm looking forward to a little less doing and a little more being, but I think we're still a few weeks away from getting back into a regular routine.

After a couple of rough days, Jackson has settled in. He didn't sleep well at all the first couple of nights here and had generally been cranky while he was awake. But he's been a lot better the last couple of days, and has taken to exploring as much of the house as he can. The hardwood floors are taking some getting used to, as he lands a little harder when he falls than he did on the carpet at the old place, but he's starting to get it all figured out.


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