Monday, May 31, 2010

Amusement Parks

Memorial Day weekend was the opening of a great memory of my past and that is Luna Park at Coney Island. In the mid to late 50s we spent many weekends in NYC thanks to my fathers business ventures and this resulted in some rather unusual opportunities for a young teen. First was exposure to Broadway musicals of which my mother would drag me to but the payback was she would have to take me to ballgames - so I spent some quality time at Yankee Stadium, Ebbets Field and The Polo Grounds. So while I got to see everything from My Fair Lady to The Music Man my mother got to see Mickey, The Duke and Willie. Now the second part of this equation was Coney Island.

I was actually allowed to venture on the subway by my lonesome to go to Coney Island. Not bad for a twelve year old but I could easily navigate Boston so I could do NYC. Different age back then. I loved Coney Island. I loved the fun houses. I loved The Cyclone. I love Nathan’s. I loved the games of (no) chance. I just loved amusement parks.

My first venture into amusement parks was Paragon Park at Nantasket Beach. We actually rented a house one summer for a few weeks and I spent many a time attempting to get on rides for which I was deemed too small. For the next few years I would measure my height every few months hoping to finally reach the magic number that would allow me to ride The Giant Coaster which is still active in another life. This started me on the path to being a coaster affectionate after I experienced my first fright filled trip through the dark tunnel and up the steep hill with knees shaking and a death grip on a handle bar. The drop of that first hill wondering how the car stayed on the tracks and memories of newspaper reports of deaths from the coaster. The sheer terror of the quick turns and being tossed around like a rag doll and the bruises that appeared the next day from this harrowing journey. Naturally I rode and rode until my money ran out.

Once I was able to go on that coaster others would beckon and a train ride to Revere Beach provided the next great adventure for a local coaster rider. Since driving at age eleven was out of the question I would do anything possible to get a relative to transport me to one of the parks that still attracted great crowds. Lincoln Park was close by and so was multiple rides on The Comet whose decaying hulk still exists. My aunt’s lived in Hartford so Riverside Park was an easy drive for them and my aunt’s loved to play Fascination so a trip was almost a guarantee with each visit. Freddie “Boom Boom” Cannon had a great song called Palisades Park and I could care less about the song as the park became a goal and on a trip to NYC I got to go. This was before the internet so research was limited but I knew of the parks in New England so I’d somehow manage to get to them all. My father had family in Pennsylvania and that opened up a treasure trove of parks topped off by Hershey Park.

This fascination with amusement parks has continued and I even joined ACE and would occasionally go to their meetings at various amusement parks. When Six Flags New England opened up Superman my ACE card got me to the front of the line and any seat I wanted - no five hour wait since we critiqued the coasters. Ride as many times as I wanted. VIP treatment. Eat your heart out peasants.

Some folks pass on certain things to their children and my big contribution has been they all just love coasters and amusement parks. One family vacation centered around a trip to the Mecca of amusement parks - Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. This is the coaster capital of the world! We managed to get my wife - The Lovely Cynthia - on one of the smaller coasters saying it was a simple ride. I still remember her vomiting into a large flower display after the ride.

Veronica or Betty? Mary Ann or Ginger? Coke or Pepsi? Steel or wood? Steel coasters do things that wood cannot. Twists, turns, loops, speed and so on. Cheaper to build and maintain and they were all the rage since Knotts Berry Farm installed one. Heck…I flew a a Citabria aerobatic plane out of North Middleboro for years so I didn’t need any loops. But like Vinyl with records the woodies have made an amazing comeback. I prefer them. I like the bumps and the grinds. My favorite is The Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. This one had to be changed three times since it had created too rough a ride. The designer eventually died of a heart attack supposedly brought on my the stress of getting this machine going.

I could create quite a list of coasters and parks and rate them but that would require a book rather than a post and just reflect opinion. In a few weeks I will go to Denver to see the Sox play but one game will be missed as I’ll head to Elitch Gardens for a few jaunts on their coasters. Cynthia will be invited but somehow I think she’ll pass on any and all rides. In fact the only think I now prefer is coasters as just about anything else makes me sick.

Some amusement parks have survived to this day while others have become faded memories of another time. A certain part of the demise can be attributed to the ultimate evil prince of amusement parks - Walt Disney! Yep - uncle Walt and the creation of the theme park. Some of the madness of theme parks have seeped into the world of amusements parks with shows and productions. I want rides! I want fun houses! I don’t want cartoon characters and fluffy Disney rides.

Friday, May 28, 2010

End Of May Stuff

If the hacks that are destroying this state want to get serious about reform start with this one. If you are a state rep that means your husband/wife, son, father/mother and uncles/aunts cannot be employed by any state agency or quasi agency. They do this conflict of interest BS that is totally meaningless as long as the trough is open to relatives and friends. The state agencies are ripe with cronyism and political favors - jobs.

The district where President Obama (Walk On Water) grew up in Hawaii went Republican in a special house election. Twenty years of Democrats are no more for that district.

The oil spill in the Gulf is just another in a long line of engineering disasters and when all the blame and finger pointing is complete then the real work will begin. Everything that led up to the disaster will be analyzed and safeguards will be engineered. That will be the important outcome and not the politics of ranting or corporate malfeasance.

Dr. Peter Venkman and his crew were recently at the town hall hunting down ghosts. Selectwoman Marsha Brunelle is a supporter of this nonsense that has no science foundation what so ever. But who am I to complain since this is an amusing past time and keeps some busy much like my baseball diversion. I’m sure all their sensitive instruments are a real hoot that Rube Goldberg would be proud of. Just if you manage to capture anything please beam it up to the mother ship.

Since I go running with BB - although he really waddles - I do have access to this local power broker and decided - like Fergie - to try to cash in on that. So far I have collected a rusty lug nut, a broken crayon and a coupon for Cheez-Nips that expired on 5/31/2008. Guess I have to continue to rely on scratch tickets for my eventual big score.

The United States has always lagged behind Europe on social issues such as health care, welfare, unionization, labor laws, employment benefits and so on. For decades now many European nations have had a cradle to grave benefit system and now the bill has become due and the result is economic turmoil resulting in serious budget cuts. This is the end result of entitlements gone wild and should be a solid wake up call for this country. When liberals “brag” about all these hand outs the sheer ignorance is showing - someone has to pay the bill.

In Massachusetts it pays - and I do mean pays - to be an illegal. Benefits are handed out for no apparent reason. The logic just escapes my feeble little thought process.

Wamps are starting to look more like the lost tribe of Israel.

The United States has deployed troops all over the world and some are in rather adventurous foreign policy situations where the U.S. is viewed as an invading force. So if that is true why are we allowing ourselves to be invaded? President WOW has dispatched 1,200 troops to Arizona to help secure our borders from what has become an invasion from Mexico. Maybe it is time to add a few more zero’s to that number and get real serious about this invasion. For those of you with a smattering of American history a good portion of the Mexican-American War was steeped in the fact that Mexico viewed our immigration as an invasion. Despite pledges immigrants really rejected much of the government policies, laws and religion. The immigration began to serious overwhelm the area and eventually Texas fought and won independence and later the U.S. war with Mexico translated into Texas becoming a state after a brief flirtation being a republic.

Unemployment rate jumped to 9.9% last month. Tell those folks all about recovery.

Wonder how many of Obama’s teleprompters it would take to plug that oil leak?

Going green is fine and it seems to be the thing to do but is there another side to the story? Try reading “Power Hungry: The Myths Of Green Energy” by Robert Bryce. You may disagree with some portions of it and agree with others but when examining an issue it is best to examine from all sides especially those sides which you may feel you vehemently are opposite of.

Stay safe 144th.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Economy, WOW and Bumpkin.

The European debt crisis that is all based like ours with poor regulation and cheap money has now put the stock market into retreat. The geniuses on Wall St. will claim this is all a correction but it also reflects the fact that many will now bail out of mutual funds, ETF’s and stocks and toss the dough into CD’s and T-Bills. This is not the sign of an improving economy but a shaky one in which Joe and Jane citizen are apprehensive about their financial future. Of course the current administration keeps on saying things are improving. I wonder what looking glass the collective Alice’s in this administration are peering through? Unemployment is not dropping. Job claims fluctuate without any consistent trend and worse of all is that a large number of the employed and waiting for the axe to fall have little to be encouraged about. I imagine that the WOW administration is busily trying to concoct some positive message to lighten what appears to be a devastating rejection of their policies come November. The Republicans also are doing their own peering as the Tea Party is showing no favorites and happens to be targeting more than a few Republicans. Maybe the business as usual will be over in Washington? Maybe WOW will actually try to have some substances rather than his staged teleprompter inspired rhetoric?

The Arizona situation has actually forced the Obama Administration to at least appear to be addressing the issue. Of course you have the Mexican President Calderon admonishing us regarding our attempts to even enact such legislation as proposed in Arizona. I would suggest he concentrate on his own inept, corrupt and drug infested backwater to find out why so many would risk leaving. I have already posted what the requirements are for immigration to Mexico (fat chance) and it ain’t pretty. Obama claims “he needs help” to address immigration and that means the party of no….as in no open borders. Just another example of floundering WOW.

The best response to the PC crowd attempting to enact a boycott was a power administrator in AZ who suggest to the mayor of LA that the city discontinue purchases of power from AZ. The song and dance followed as the mayor was in full weasel mode trying to avoid doing a full body slam onto the hot seat. Twenty-five percent of LA power comes from AZ.

Eric Holder, the U.S. AG, made the talk show rounds on Sunday morning blasting away at the AZ law only to finally admit he’d never read it! From what I have managed to read much of it mirrors federal law and enforcement seems much like our former seat belt law that could not be enforced unless you were stopped for something else.

I just loved Reverend Wright pronouncing Obama “threw him under the bus.” I am shocked! What a revelation! Let me see if I remember - I think WOW was part of that congregation for twenty years and listened to all that bad racial smack Wright would toss out with nary a peep from WOW until Wright gets outed. Then we have political expediency ( I.E. - get elected) surface and Obama distances himself.

My daughter gets these magazines that focus on Hollywood and all the trials and tribulations of the “stars.” Now what exactly is a star? I looked through the latest issue of something called “US” in which they focus on the behaviors of various “stars.” I didn’t know the names of at least 80% of them. When I think star what goes through my simple mind is DeNiro, Nicholson, Streep and so on. What they have as “stars” and folks that appear in reality shows or on second and third rate TV shows - usually ones that are on some cable network I never heard of. Calling these folks “stars” is - to use a baseball analogy - like referring to some bench warmer as a star.

I attended the latest BB concert and have to deflate his already inflated ego. The real star of the show was his wife who has a great voice and during a duet carried both of them. Time for a lot less Mark and a lot more Mary.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Weston Memorial Park and Casinos

The Weston Memorial Park that is off Purchase Street has had its trail system destroyed. The area had some cutting done and what this really represented was a woodlands version of strip mining. Swaths fifteen feet wide or wider were cut into various areas and that did in most of the previous trail system. Why this was done without any consideration of the trails is beyond my comprehension. I have run in scores of areas in many other towns and have not seen this drastic approach and such a blatant and total disregard for existing trails. The swaths have done nothing but have a variety of undergrowth sprouting and the remains of the woody refuge left behind. Where one could previous walk or run is now a high risk factor. Forget biking. I did manage to locate part of a previous trail that went for about ¼ mile that ran parallel to one of the butchered areas. Then it became victim to the cutting. I went to Faye Avenue where there is a entrance to your right as you go down Faye. I went in and where a trail breaks to the left is now just a mess. This was a nice trail of over a mile. Destroyed or an least virtually inaccessible - maybe piece meal portions exist but I chose not to risk injury to explore. The other portion of the trail use to be a short hike to the parking lot and now just breaks into one of the paths of destruction. I would gladly take any and all of the folks responsible to other trail systems in other towns or even to Pratt Farm. Old growth sometimes has to be removed but it has to be removed with a certain degree of forethought.

I have no real qualms about the various sky is falling outcomes that anti casino lightweights seem to always put front and center. I am like virtually all who go to a casino in that - to quote Clint Eastwood - “A man has got to know his limitations.” I play with a set amount as do most. I have been to dozens of casinos in various sizes in probably fifteen states. I have yet to see any prostitution, drunks rampaging about the place and drug dealers looking to score. Probably exists but I can tell you places in Middleboro where it also exists. I have seen many a depressing sight at casinos of folks lined up at an ATM or just mesmerized by the slots - much like they are mesmerized by scratch tickets at the Village Market. This state has already opened the door on legalized gaming and casinos/slots are just another step. If it means we recoup some dollars leaving our borders I’m all for it. I do believe the social costs are present but greatly overstated. I do feel that it is merely another way to spend discretionary income and that is a personal choice. If the zealots wish to legislate social behaviors then good luck with that since it will fail and fail miserably just as has their efforts to keep casinos/slots out of Massachusetts.

Very bad Tuesday for incumbents, Democrats, selective Republicans, Obama and moonbats. The results have shown that the Tea Party is a viable movement and it will be interesting to see if their positions are “copied” but the two reigning parties. TP crowd is going to cause havoc to both Democrats and Republicans who just don’t seem to “get it.” The TP message of just about anti everything has resonated with the middle.

Harvard has some impressive admissions standards.

State budget is at 28 Billion. After listening to our local reps this is the slash to the bone and Draconian?

The law and justice. I had a conversation with a judge recently over those two points - a little name dropping without a name. My question was how many times can he recall following the law but not justice in a case? He had never been asked that question. He reflected that there were many decisions he has made over the years that he knew flat out were wrong but represented the law as written.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nothing About SysCo

Medicare’s chief actuary announced last week that the new health care deficit….I mean program….will add 311 Billion in increased deficits over the next ten years. Another new projection to show more costs and not less.

Margery Egan had a great column in The Herald on SCOTUS diversity in that the justices have very little in the way of real life experience since they were on the elite fast track since day one. None have the experience of meeting a payroll, addressing mandated government programs, environmental concerns, miserable economic conditions and most importantly NEVER having to deal with the outcome of their decisions at the grass roots level.

I’m not an energy expert like JP but the information I have read on the recent oil spill is there was measures in place that should have initiated a shut down. Didn’t work. Is this a technology failure?

Fannie Mae wants another 8.4 Billion in aid - a simple translation is our money. Maybe Barney Frank (D- financial patient zero) can look into this?

The local restaurant meals tax is just what it is - a tax. I love it when terms like “source of revenue” are tossed around. With government that source is a tax. Now this is a small tax in the scheme of things but you do have a cumulative effect with many small taxes and their bastard offspring - fees - adding up to a considerable amount of money. After a defeated override and a defeated CPA you would think our local BOS would deep six this measure also.

The necessity for handing out crumbs like the above tax is the result of decades of failures on Beacon Hill to address a myriad of issues that directly impact our pocketbooks. Recently fees and taxes were increased and a backdoor attempt at watering down 2 and ½ was scuttled so crumbs are handed out as a way of minimizing the lack of funding from the state and allow the locals to implement their own taxes.

Bob’s Furniture commercials just get to me. At this point I’d sit on an orange crate before I buy his stuff.

The Mashpee whatever tribe is now talking to Fall River or is it New Bedford? I get the two confused. Originally this was reservation shopping and now it has reversed where the tribe is shopping. I’m getting the feeling they have self destructed their welcome mat.

There are no Constitutional or legislative qualifications for Supreme Court justices. So theoretically, if appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate anyone can serve. Maybe it is time for a Joe The Plumber to sit?

The Red Sox are in a slightly more advantageous position than the NY you know who were last year at this time. The Yankee$ eventually won 103 games and the World Series. I guess that may be a glimmer of hope.

You want a look at the future look at Britain and Greece and soon to be much of Europe. In Britain the new government speaks of austerity and a reduction of decades of entitlements - sound familiar? Greece there are riots and a good portion of it is based in reduction of pensions and entitlements. Crushing debt and much of it the end result of a mentality of giving to those who have contributed little.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jail/Immigration/Wall St./MWRA

If you are a guest of the Commonwealth you will soon be required to pay a $5 per day inmate fee per legislation passed by the House. I’m sure the usual suspects will surface rallying against such a Draconian measure. These are the same folks who are conspicuously absent when a discussion is made over the crimes these “guests” have committed in their illustrious careers of criminal activity. My sympathy meter is firmly stuck on zero when it comes to this issue.

Immigration laws in most other nations are highly restrictive and that is especially true in Mexico which requires - among other things - your own health insurance, a sponsor, minimum income requirements for you and dependants, not take a job in Mexico and translate all documents into Spanish. There is much more including the possibility of being shot crossing the border.

The Wall Street Journal had an article detailing members of congress who profited form the economic turmoil by betting the market would go short (stocks going down). This is a quote from the article: In February, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R., Ga.) argued on the Senate floor that "we don't need those speculating in the marketplace to take unfair advantage of the values of equities that are owned by Americans all over this country for the sake of making a buck on a short sale." Guess what he was doing? Buying an EFT targeting a market going short. Naturally his excuse was his account is “professionally managed.”

This is for the folks in the MWRA water district recently impacted by a failed water main. Take a large pot. Fill it almost to the top with tap water. Place it on the stove. Turn the stove on. Eventually bubbles will form on the water and this is called “boiling.” Allow this to happen for over a minute. Turn off stove. Remove pot. Let water cool. Place in refrigerator to cool even more. This means you don’t have to make a freaking third rate dips**t out of yourself getting bottled water in some type of herd mentality panic.

The Middleboro BOS gets a lot of heat but compared to the Boston City Council they make Bernie Madoff look like Mother Theresa.

What has become abundantly clear in the last week is that economic recovery is an illusion propagated by either fawning sycophants of the current administration or Wall Street dreamers. The jobs picture remains bleak and several counties in Europe - especially Greece - have debt and credit issues that remind me of Mexico back a few decades ago. I’m not exactly going out on a limb here to say this administration continues to be like someone in a maze that has no exit.

Speaking of Greece and its impact on the economic turmoil just how much of an economic powerhouse is Greece? Well, the GNP is ranked 29th in the world at 218 Billion and Greece has a population slightly over 11 million. Does this smack of over reaction?

Along those lines when you have stock sell offs - much of it computer generated - like happened on Thursday with selling and then triggering buys when stocks go lower. A computer generated merry-go-round. There are pre market triggers in place that stop trading when the market recedes 500 or more points. I was online watching the proceedings and the action was so fast the computers could not keep up as the market continued to drop rapidly. Usually a buy order will process in a few seconds. I had one in that took almost a minute to process and since it was a market order the price actually went up 4% in that one minute.

In the another one bites the dust department representative David Obey (D-Wisconsin) has decided to pack it all in as it appears he just may have the voters do it for him. Obey chairs House Appropriations and was a key element in the stimulus disaster.