Thursday, December 30, 2010

Finishing Off The Year

I read a recent comment about Senator Scott Brown that he is “Not a puppet.” This became readily visible in his vote in favor of repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and START. Can you imagine Kerry or Kennedy going against the grain in one week on two significant issues? Many of the anti Tea Party and just “hate Republican” crowd no doubt will remain silent on how dead wrong they were on Brown. No doubt they will support whatever lock step ultra liberal they can drag out in 2012 to run against Brown so they can get back to the position of mindless orthodoxy. Brown has done a remarkable job of voting for the legislation and not for the symbol of “R” or “D.”

The new year means a new diet for many folks. January usually sees an upsurge in “Y” attendance as all those resolutions are made to get the fat off. I see shows on TV constantly plugging one product or book after another to make everyone slim and attractive like Bogo. The real truth is rather simple. If you wish to lose weight just eat less and exercise more. The weight comes off. Now as far as the eat less that does not mean one coffee roll rather than two but simply eating a more balanced regimen. A key component in any weight loss is exercise and exercise can be just plain old walking especially trails once the hunt for Bambi ends and CPA spends a few hundred large to have a trail system locally. But, seriously, there are some great trail systems locally so just use them.

My son just returned from a stay in Kuwait. His missions were simple - drive into various places in Iraq and extract equipment. The missions usually lasted between twelve and twenty days and the trucks he drove - HET’s (Heavy Equipment Transports) offered wonderful target opportunities. The trucks had amour and all sorts of counter measures but still they’d get hit or close to it. Needless to say several members of the transportation group came home early due to extreme stress and many of those were on their third deployment. On 12/24 the entire group arrived back in Massachusetts and they know their next stop will be in Afghanistan in two years.

One of the more compelling stories my son told was the first time he saw a group of children and tossed candy out the window. They ran thinking it was explosives. Then they returned to collect the goodies. As the missions continued kids began to get some upgrades as we sent over packages of Hot Wheels to distribute.

The Care packages sent to troops are so important. You can donate just the postage for a package which is about $12 and I do believe Oak Point has a Vet’s group that does just that or look up Cape Cod Cares. Just include letters and local papers even if they have no relevance to who may get them. It is not unusual to get a note from a kid in Iowa who is in Iraq or Afghanistan who has a Gazette or Herald or Globe or Enterprise and relays how important it was just to read a simple newspaper and look at articles that we routinely bypass and even advertisements.

Give President Obama a break. He’s trying to enjoy a family vacation and all you get is the shutter bug paparazzi attempting to get a photo op. This applies to celebrities from the “A” list to the “D” list. Why is it important to look at a photo of Jack Nickelson coming out of a restaurant or some reality “star” getting into a car? Who is really fascinated by this stuff? Is this something for 20 somethings? I just don’t get it. Many a time I have seen celebrities in a public place and the last thing I would be is intrusive and try to get a picture taken or an autograph. I remember on a Red $ox road trip we had dinner at a hotel the team was staying at and one of the players was - Lou Merloni - was signing autographs in the lobby so I went over just to observe the madness and he asked if I wanted his autograph. Instead I gave him MY autograph and said if he wanted a picture with me he better have a camera. Fortunately he had one and I’m sure Lou has in hanging in his den.

The famous also get special treatment such as go to the head of the line or a comp. Recently Shaq was at Nashoba Ski area and refused a comp for himself and his children and SO.

That brings up another wonderful Bogo story. In the early 1970s we flew into Hyannis Airport and went to the upscale restaurant on the premises - the Neptune Lounge and they required a suit jacket and tie, Being the GQ person I am I had neither but they supplied me with an awful facsimile. After ordering in came a large party and none of the gentlemen had a suit jacket or tie. I asked why and the response was “That’s Ted Kennedy!” So I repeated and got the same response. I left. I imagine the check is still being held for me. By the way the Senator was highly intoxicated, loud and just plain obnoxious and I know all about obnoxious.

Football time. I am a fan of the NY Football Giants (via NJ) and they have put on the most pathetic display imaginable the last five quarters. Then you have the local entry that has managed to perform beyond expectations. IMO the real star surprise for the Patriots is Green-Ellis. Kid is like Jim Nance for you old time Pats fans.

Huge Hefner is getting married again. The 84 year old Hef is engaged to a 23 year old who professes her love to Hugh.

The start of the new decade is upon us as that takes place on 1/1/2011. The same applies to the millennia which began on 1/1/2001 and not on 1/1/2000.

I am still mystified by the recent statement that about 50 Xmas trees met their fate at the chipper last Xmas season so therefore why bother. I imagine this is some rather telling math deficiencies on the part of the DPW. On our street along there were about ten and we have only 35 houses on the street.

More on the DPW is that the recycle pickup will not take place for those of us scheduled for Tuesday. We’ll have to wait two more weeks in a shinning example of more quality service for the $208 trash tax. My wife - The Lovely Cynthia - called up the DPW so that is how I know. She called again to whine - I mean, to complain - and was told the DPW supervisor would get back to her. Still waiting. Probably happened sometime this century.

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts rendered a decision that has resulted in a mandate for all of us to clear our sidewalks and even our steps or face the consequences of legal action either via local fines or from slips and falls. The recent snow storm provided a windfall or snowfall for The Boston Herald that took photos and attempted to interview justices that didn’t follow their own ruling. Naturally they could not be reached for comment. With government officials they are them and there are us and both have different sets of rules.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Xmas trees and other junk

It’s the little things that get to folks and that is especially true in government. In Middleboro the latest directive is regarding Christmas trees. Apparently the semi- new and IMO clueless Highway Superintendent decided to forgo the annual pick up and decapitation of the spent Xmas tress. Our trash tax is $208 and covers very little except routine pick up. No large items. No leaves. No paints. No special collection days. If you want to decide those your choices are two fold. First is to select an appropriate spot on one of our 160 miles of roadways and just toss it. The second is to get a dump pass (AKA - Landfill) for $25 and bring assorted items there but if they happen to fall into a select category there is an addition fee and that fee can be expensive. Yes…the dump will take yard waste gratis but you must haul it in yourself. So now back to the trees.

Your option is to cart the tree to the dump and toss it. No charge except for your time and gas. Now if you happen to be unable or unwilling (ODD?) to do this too bad. No wood chipper to relieve you of this duty. If you do not wish to go to the dump I’m sure you can cruise down Wareham Street and make a personal delivery to the highway department.

The whole trash tax is a joke. For $208 down from $216 you expect some moderate degree of service. If I lived in several other communities this would not be a problem. Advanced notification and large items are taken away. Old sofa? No problem even if gramps is still sitting on it. Ditto appliances, wallboard, wood and just about anything else. You may pay more such as Brockton with a $280 fee or less with Attleboro and their under $200 fee but you do get some actually return on this backdoor tax.

This is a little thing but it is the type of thing that gets locals blood to boil almost as much as an imperial decree not to plow certain streets. What it does show me is an amazing lack of basic understanding of human nature and the fact that when you cut a simple service almost on the eve of Christmas that Middleboro may have hired a few Grinches to take over key position. Timing is everything.

Oil is up to $90 a barrel and the U.S. is continuing to be held hostage to oil producing nations. The truth is we use oil now. We need oil now. We are limited in what we can do for domestic production. The reality is drilling should be allowed without our domestic domain to create some degree of independence. The U.S. should also insure that domestic production remain domestic and not tossed into the international markets. As far as alternative energies that technology is advancing rapidly but until further breakthroughs occur oil will have to do.

The Chinese are now following the U.S. pattern of the 50s with personal transportation - the car. Despite incredible transportation infrastructure development the Chinese seem to want the auto. And they like big ones if they can afford it. Then they have those monster traffic jams that don’t last hours but days. Some truckers carry camping equipment to wait out the jams. Looks like that transportation infrastructure left out four, six and eight lane highways.

Scott Brown is going against party drift in the START Treaty proposals. Brown is also changing his opinion on don’t tell. Brown has done exactly what he said he would and not necessarily follow the party herd. What a far cry from whom he replaced and our Senior senator …and toss in our Congressional delegation.

As far as our delegation let the feeding frenzy begin as one seat will have to be deleted thanks to population shift. Would it be possible to give up all the seats? Our delegation is like a crew of Mynah birds just repeating and following lock step whatever decree comes forth from the leadership. I’d suggest they gerrymander out Barney Frank unless the party needs another fiscal albatross around their necks.

I have a condo in Texas and an interesting thing happened - my real estate taxes went down. Not by much but they did go down since the value of the property went down. How novel!

I don’t know what would be a bigger disaster - another four years of Obama or Palin winning. A perfect lose-lose situation.

ASVAB is the test for joining the Army or Marines and the failure rate is climbing up to almost 25%. The Air Force and Navy require even higher scores than the 31 percentile the Army/Marines require. The average scores for blacks is 38 and for Hispanics it is 44 and whites’ check in at 55.

The Red $ox have managed to rebuild their bullpen just before Christmas with the acquisition of Jenks and the under valued Dan Wheeler. If Bard maintains his performance level and Papelbon can regroup this may be one the best bullpens in baseball.

The Wikileaks founder became victim of a leak as his Swedish police reports were leaked.

President WOW (Walk On Water) ahs managed to cave in on the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Many in his own disjointed party have willingly tossed him under the bus. Nancy Pelosi (D-Botox) and Harry Reid (D- Slot Land) even refused to show up at the ceremonial signing of the measure. Is this the beginning of an Obama drift towards the center? Is this a willingness to work with Republicans?

Welcome back to the 1166th.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


SYSCO ends up in Plympton and it appears the deal maker was the quick permitting available. In Middleboro there was considerable behind the scenes activity to get the deal done but, alas, it was a great effort but no prize. My assumption is that SYSCO will use Spring Street on Rt. 44 as their access point for Rt 3 and I-495 . Middleboro rotary may get some heavy duty truck action in the mornings. Maybe the land that was designated for a potential Middleboro site could be used for a casino?

What is it with Rt. 24? This is now the Highway To Hell to quote one of my favorite bands. I use to work in Boston, Quincy and Braintree and have taken that road thousands of times and cannot recall - even at my advanced age - the number of accidents that seem to snarl traffic. Back when I had a daily commute Rt. 24 was generally clear sailing until you got to Rt. 128 or whatever it is known as. There is nothing particularly unusual about the configuration of the road like there is with say - I-95 in the Pawtucket area - yet it has become almost a daily occurrence to have wreck somewhere. My daughter now travels Rt. 24 every morning and has become an avid listener of traffic reports - something she had never done in the past.

I’m all for an extension of the tax cuts and really am getting a bit tired of the “soak the rich” mantra. There are certainly people of wealth who didn’t exactly extend themselves to any great sense to get the dough - maybe a thanks, Dad? But I know folks who exceed that magical 250K figure that moonbats seem to toss around and they are folks that are driven by long work days, incredible responsibility for decision making and really not living a flamboyant and excessive life style. The super rich - top 1% - have 23% of the income yet pay 40% of the income taxes according to The Herald. Class warfare sells.

The national debt keeps piling on and IMO the one key to the whole mess is a surging economy. If unemployment manages to get cut in half you will see revenues start to erode those many trillions especially when accompanied with some degree of fiscal restraint.

In baseball a good trade is one that helps both teams and the same applies to politics and the recent negotiations/compromise between Obama and the Republicans clearly showed that.

On baseball the famed Baggie Dome in Minnesota had a snow induced collapse. This was IMO the worse baseball park ever created. Thankfully the Twins have a new field and the Vikings may soon also have one.

As Christmas approaches the phone calls amp up on the begging line to which I usually respond: “I do not accept solicitations over the phone.” I really dislike the call centers that some quite legitimate charities use since it does siphon off a considerable amount of potential income.

I do believe LaBelle Chevrolet of Bridgewater is now another victim of the economy. Last time I drove by a few cars were in the lot and the sign was down and there was a sign that signaled a possible used car - pardon me - Pre-Owned car lot.

A high school track star was shot in the leg over the weekend in Mattapoisett as he and his fellow runners made the tragic mistake of running in a restricted area to hunters during hunting season. Earlier in the week a dog was plugged in another town as it is quite easy to confuse a pooch with a freaking deer. As a trail runner restricted means absolutely zero to way too many hunters in the quest for Bambi. I have been to areas over the years that are restricted and well posted only to find the beer swilling and rifle toting crowd out for the kill - deer, cow, horse, dog or human - just plug something. I have talked to many hunters who say it is amazing the changes that have taken place over the last forty years as many keep the woods clean of their rubbish but seem more inclined to sample some recreational drugs and more traditional alcoholic beverages prior to and during the hunt. Things are rough when even some hunters shy away from it.

I have a Facebook page that I hardly use but I did receive a message from Facebook about the possibility of my account being compromised so on I go. I change my password but could not sign on. When I go through the hoops they set out I need a code they have emailed me. Naturally I never received a code and therefore cannot get on and just delete this worthless piece of garbage. OK…just contact them but the trouble is you can’t. No way! Phone is useless. So I sent out about fifty duplicate emails to various parts of the company hoping someone will respond. After three days nothing. Useless

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has become an annual pilgrimage for my wife - The Lovely Cynthia - and myself - The Obnoxious Bogo. This time we decided to venture to the west end of the island to Rincon about a torturous three hour drive from San Juan.

Rincon is a tourist area that is primarily a stop for the island residents rather than a huge influx of those from the continental states. Most of the upscale resorts in PR tend to be in the San Juan and Ponce areas or in their general vicinity with an occasional lonesome one spread elsewhere on the island. I could care less since we stay in guest houses or boutique hotels. Cost and most importantly our personal preference are the contributing factors as we find the large resorts quite self insular and lack the ability to get a neighborhood feel. Bogo goes “native?” Neither of us need a spa or a golf course or a 400 square foot room and twenty-four hour concierge service. We prefer neighborhood stores, restaurants and stopping by local road side stands. We prefer public beaches and actually enjoy being in a neighborhood where chickens may roam the streets despite being the island equivalent of middle class to upper middle class. And where we stayed that is what they did. Kids playing in the streets, dogs running loose, folks sitting on their porches, parking cars on sidewalks and just strolling around. This was a neighborhood and not a four star enclave.

Rincon is quite a beach area that is noted as being a surfing hot spot. The beaches are many and the sunsets are a killer and toss in consistently mild weather and it is a keeper. We stayed at a guest house and were for our five days the only ones. Someone must have warned them I’d be in town. They have eight rooms and all remained empty as this was the end of “low season” which means cheap rooms. Generally “high season” and its accompanying expense starts in mid December so if you go to PR plan accordingly. Now when I say we were on the water I mean on the water. Walk out our room and cross a tiled communal patio and go thirty feet and it is the ocean. You get the picture.

Right down the beach - about a five minute walk - was a resort. This was not a lavish place but one that had those amenities you may occasionally desire such as a more upscale restaurant, music and a bar. We wandered down twice and the place was relatively quiet on both a Friday and Saturday night. The “low season” thing.

I once had a PR student who said to two Asian students: “We Ricans are just like you - we drive like s**t and love to gamble.” How right he is about both. The main highway from San Juan to Arecibo area is Route 26. Two lanes, tolls, great scenery and drivers who seem to stay in the passing lane and go 45MPH with no desire to pull into the right hand lane. You find yourself going right and left to swerve around these folks. I asked a local about this quaint customs and he gave a Spanish term that roughly translated was something like A-holes. The other thing is turn signals. Why even have them? It became a game to see the ratio of who used them. It was about one out of thirty would actually put on a blinker when turning. Massachusetts drivers actually appear polite. After Route 26 comes Route 22 and it is endless traffic lights for forty miles.

Everywhere you go is the lottery. The national lottery tickets are sold on tables set up in front of high traffic areas or on roadsides right out of trucks with lottery signs. Scratch tickets are popular but they seem to prefer the daily numbers and the national lottery. Casinos are in some areas - primarily San Juan - but are small in scope and frequented almost exclusively by tourists.

The language barrier exists. My skills with Spanish are now limited to about fifty words. I can order food, ask for directions, find a bathroom and that is about it. What will often happen is my fifty words and a locals fifty English words will be enough to get things done. Sometimes the results could be unusual as you may end up with a food item that you are totally clueless about. What is also interesting is how many noted American companies do not have their signage, menus and other information in English. It seems in the states they bend over to accommodate but not on the island.

Speaking of food I have never been one to sing, shout or mime the praises of PR cuisine. I’ve just never considered it that special. In San Juan and Ponce you have a variety of restaurants that practice infusion culinary arts that will blend PR cuisine with Cuban, French, Italian and so on but in Rincon it is primarily the basics and a whole list of your standard known fast food chains. I love Churches Chicken and they was one about half mile away and the local bakeries had some exceptional pasties. I did find a local place that did Bar-B-Que and it was great. Pulled pork, beef and roasted chicken and plantains done a variety of ways. The cook (don’t call me chef) went to the prestigious Culinary Arts Institute of America but gave up being a chef for the beach life in PR.

In PR a grande is equal to our small. A standard coffee size is six ounces and a large eight ounces. The Coffee is exceptional in taste and we actually have PR coffee shipped out about twice a year. No more expensive than getting a bag of DD. The local beers - Madelia and Silver Key come in ten ounce cans so size does make a difference.

One of the things that always gets my bride irritated is that PR is far from “going green.” They do not recycle, the streets tend to be sloppy, and we have never seen a solar panel array or a windmill despite their astronomical electrical costs on the island. They must have alternative energy somewhere but I haven’t seen it yet.

If you rent a car in PR it is relatively inexpensive but the highways system is almost on existent. San Juan and Ponce areas have some four lane roadways and there is one connecting San Juan to Ponce but if you go east or west out of San Juan after about fifty miles you are no longer on a highway system but smaller roads. The signage can also be a mystery as in some places it is confusing or does not exist - just like Massachusetts.

For those who are budget minded PR offers a nice option to other non American islands in the Caribbean. No worry about any passports or entrance or exit fees. The weather is excellent and there are many bargains as far as places to stay. The island also options some touring options from a rain forest to the giant array at Arecibo.