Friday, October 28, 2011

Shanty Town And More

At the weekly Edgeway Park hearing Selectman Steve Spataro took exception when one of the tortured home owners used the term “Shanty Town.” Well just take a stroll through what passes for the architectural nightmare of our scenic downtown. Exactly how would one classify this collection of 70s kitsch and crumbling late 19th early 20th century buildings?

Start your walk and examine all the weed infested bricks and the sickly trees with their metal grates surrounding them. Did anyone ever hear of weed killer? Hey…just stroll into Benny’s and grab some. Weeds are deadly to cement ands brick. Just look at those store fronts. Is there a contest to see which building owner can create something that will actually surpass Boston City Hall Plaza in sheer ugliness?

Then that parking lot behind Benny’s. That place looks like the military had artillery practice. Was there a war? Did Lakeville attack us and have some F-18s strafe that lot?

On Jackson Street next to the Middleboro Youth Building is something that resembles the back lot of Costello Dismantling. Why is all that crap piled there?

Speaking of Costello he had the right idea with the Washburn building. Just crush it.

And getting back to Jackson Street that parking lot behind the cop shop is also in dire need of repair and maybe a note to B & H auto that it is not their lot for their truck. The trees along the street are also weed infested as the fascination with those metal grates surrounding them provides a wonderful weed attraction.

Now occasionally someone actually decides to invest and make some decent changes such as The Alley Theater. Too bad it is within shouting distance of a major eyesore - the former Steve’s Sports Den.

There are some things that are so bad little can be done except to bulldoze the mess and start over but it would be nice to just keep the place reasonable clean by cleaning gutters, repairing walkways, weeding and doing something besides hanging a few flower pots.

The scruffy lay-abouts that are Occupy Wall Street (OWS) obviously are clueless. Wall Street an issue? Gee…just because fines totally billions were levied against Citi, Wells Fargo, Bank of American, J.P. Morgan and others they OWS gangs think something nasty was going on? Forget all the residual crap that is festering around the movement that reeks of the mindless panacea that socialism will put forth. Toss it out! Forget the “living wage.” “excusing student loans,” all the chants of “social justice” and every other deflection. When they abide by their name - OWS - they are right on target. The entire system is toxic and has been for years.

OWS will face the same problems as the Tea Party and an attempt will be made to hijack as much as possible by more perceived mainstream forces. The TP was seen as a legit movement and it attracted a large segment from the fringe - usually wing nuts - that viewed it as a pathway to respectability. The Republican hierarchy also so the potential of hooking up and viola - you have mix master politics. Deval Patrick has already been stiffing around the OWS gang in Boston and the moon bats do see all those wonderful posters about open doors to illegal’s, tax the rich, fair wages and on and on and realize just maybe they can get some political hay out of this. Are both parties bottom feeders that one should not trust? IMO that is answered by the overwhelming numbers that now designate party affiliation as “U.”

Attention Middleboro (borough) Gas & Electric. Please tell the driver of vehicle M78 727 that when you go into Cumby’s at the intersection of Wood and R28 it would be nice to not leave your doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition of a running vehicle.

At this same store last year some idiot did exactly the same thing with his high end tricked out truck only to have Bogo The Magnificent save his pathetic arse. Some “students” were examining the situation and one had already opened the passenger side door when I made mention of the potential of the vehicle not being in their ownership. The lads quickly bolted towards the cemetery and I waited for the driver to explain the situation. He mumbled a “thanks” and that was it.

So if you ever need a ride hang around the local convenience stores and just wait for the idiot Du Jour. Trust me - you will not have a long wait.

Our two senators are at odds over the impending exit from Iraq. Kerry wants the boys and girls out by the end of the year while Brown is a bit hesitant on exit strategy. The exit strategy should be out ASAP and same with Afghanistan.

Social Security has a COLA increase after several years but the increase is not based on significant regional cost of living indexes. Metro Boston is simply far more expensive than most other places.

\Now for some seniors this money will be wasted of foolish stuff like food (Friskies or Nine Lives?), clothing (Goodwill or Salvation Army?) and shelter (Tarp or tent?).

Elizabeth Warren is going after “The hick vote.” That is polite speak for going after “The third rate dips**t vote.”

The Obama solution to all vexing problems is the continued expansion of government. Each regulation, bureau, law, increased agency power and tax just erodes individualism a wee bit more.

Going green in Massachusetts means the green as in money is gone.

Food stamps and EBT cards offer a lucrative secondary and under the radar market. Selling benefits is quite common on social media web sites.

The original “Halloween” was a great horror movie.

Verizon may have the worse level of customer service in my memory.

House values in Middleboro go down and taxes go up. So I guess when they finally go up the taxes will go down!

How does New Hampshire get jobs? They simply poach them from a tax burdened source just south of their border.

The pension and benefit bloated MBTA is reeling in debt. The proposed solution? Why an increase in the gas tax.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lotta Great Stuff!

A nice shout out to Melissa and the Mess Movers for making a dent in the trash roadside and other in Middleboro. Maybe just seeing folks around doing pick-up duty will provide encouragement for others to join and maybe for others to be aware.

I posted out on the infamous BB blog about how the local cop shop has decided to use the public parking venue behind their “house” as a personal dumping ground for the hulking wrecks of former cruisers. Why? And they are not alone. Seems that down in the lower park area is a truck that is also town property that is just sitting around rusting away. G & E also has accumulated flotsam and jetsam in their backyard.

Amazing how our spectacular DPW is willing to harass residents for not removing the fallen remains from the semi hurricane but does zero to address the issue of town entities acting like common polluters. Why the free pass?

Now I also noticed on Route 28 a massive amount of rubbish piled into the entrance way of the water department station. A glance will show that a good portion of that is just the type of stuff that the local trash removers routinely will toss back at you such as wood but they can leave that out for whoever is responsible for carting it away. Amazing that this marvelous double standard apparently exists. Now I could also single out the area around the DPW which is also far from pristine and maybe just about any other area that the town operates. Just seems like stuff that should be taken care of. Maybe someone should give a ticket to Andy Bagas?

I guess if we who actually pay an exorbitant trash tax followed their shinning example they would litter us with paper - as in a summons. Maybe it is time for the Town Manager to actually get after some of our illustrious department heads to set an example that is positive and clean up their own litter boxes.

On the trash front is the 22nd of October is actually a unique opportunity to drop off stuff and the dump (AKA - Landfill) for free. Much of this represents items that many other towns routinely grab for no additional charge. Middleboro appears to be the only community in SE Massachusetts that when faced with a service issue has the standard phrase on why they can’t do it: “We have a manpower shortage.” What they really have is a service and creativity shortage.

I have often said it is “The little things” that get folks all ticked off. Mayor’s White and Flynn of Boston were masters at recognizing the importance of city services. Flynn would go around in a snow plow on storm days and even cruise around the city to make sure trash was being picked up. No excuses. They both knew you could waste millions on hack jobs and handing out contracts to political supporters but when that phone rang at city hall or at the office of a ward boss that was what took priority and it was usually one of those “little things.”

When you toss your money into the great fiscal swamp known as a 401(k) the big point is to diversify but in today’s economy so much moves in tandem. Overseas markets will often mirror our own or visa versa. Twenty years ago a debt crisis in Slovakia was meaningless but today it sends shock waves reverberating across all global markets. Like I have said before - a camel farts in Egypt and the DOW goes down twenty points.

Sectors also seem to go down in tandem also - utilities, manufacturing, tech and on and on. But diversification is more that just markets as it is also specialized bonds, precious metals, commodities and a variety of other areas that one can toss 5% or so into. One of the areas I have tossed a few meager bonds towards is currency markets. I have found you can protect yourself in a fluctuating market but not like you could twenty years ago. You lose but just not as bad as it could be.

Some of the real gloss is off mutual funds since they have been underperforming index funds especially targeted ETF’s. Index funds is merely buying into the DOW or S & P or even a specific sector. One thing is the index funds have lower costs and I have no seen one that requires a “load”{ or upfront fee for the pleasure of giving a fund manager millions in bonus and salaries for losing your money.

With the mutual funds one of the increasing problems is cash flow as they have to have enough free cash to pay off withdrawals and that can depreciate a fund quickly by forcing the selling of stocks or other investments below their intended value. Funds also can be hit by stocks such as Citi Group that go below that magical $5 a share price that funds dump them at. Hence the reverse 10-1 split by Citi a few months ago.

With the real estate bubble firmly puncture that anticipated growth of value is now gone. The 500K house is now worth 350K but for the most part that has tricked down. Again the big issue is loss of equity meaning the loss of money to buy shiny new toys further eroding the lets spend it all mentality of a consumer driven economy.

Across the globe it really can be rather simplified as to why problems exist - countries have too much debt and large obligations and limited revenue. Get more revenue (taxes) and that means less money for shiny new toys or other wasteful things like food clothing and shelter.

The latest disaster of the current failed administration is a jobs bill the primarily props up the public service sector. Giving money to states to increase or maintain staffing levels for teachers and safety just does not create jobs and is just political payback for union support.

Step one is problems in (fill in the blank) and market goes down. Step two is problems ease in (fill in the blank). Step three is go to step one. And some wonder why Occupy Wall Street exists?

On the recent Mess Movers expedition I was down at the playground area and you can see the need for extensive improvements that could and should be made. A new bathhouse for the pool area, refurbish the tennis courts, fix that mess of a skate park/basketball court, some pavement work, and maybe even some trail expansion from the herring run along the river. There are still some old trails in that area that could easily connect to the power lines and to the existing and need to improve trail system on Barden Hill. Even cross Sachem Street and get an easement through the sand pits and into Pratt Farm. This would be a fantastic opportunity for CPA initial expenditures and would provide visible services for thousand s to use. Don’t know how it would work or if it could under present CPA restrictions but it is worth the investigative effort.

SYSCO project is moving right along in Plympton. Say….just how is that marvelous hospital site in Lakeville doing?

Why does an Obama press conference always seem like a college lecture?

For years I have questioned the operation of the Red Sox by owner John Henry. Ah…sweet vindication!

The failed administration has the unique position of being pro-jobs and anti-business.

One of the key points of the Occupy Wall Street crowd is access and that access is bought by lobbyist. Folks appear to be on the outside looking in.
The wing nuts have a tendency to dismiss the Occupy Wall Street participants and connect them to the loony left and that is so reminiscent of the moonbats attempts to do the same with the Tea Party and paint them as far right nut jobs.

What in the world does it take to finally realize the ownership of Edgeway is just bottom feeders.

On Route 105/28 island intersection in Lakeville is a remarkable fall display of mums and other assorted vegetation. I see this around Lakeville but not Middleboro. Middleboro once had a garden club and do they still exist? I know they use to do community service projects like this.

A pizza shop should be automatically rejected as second rate unless they have anchovy pizza.

I’ve been watching prices really shoot up at Hannaford’s the last few months. Get ready for “Wacky Wednesdays” at Trucchi’s.

Market Basket just beat out Wegmans in a recent price comparison.

Many corporations are flush with cash but are not going to risk capital with the ramblings of the current failed administration. Health care, taxation, environmental policy and energy policies are among the potential risks that corporate expansion faces. Why take the chance? Wait for more favorable political conciliations.

I see the old McGee building is now being used and that leaves the Morse building down on the Middleboro - Wareham secure border empty. Rumor was a Market Basket being located there.

About 25 years ago they (town) reconfigured some house numbers on our street. Myself and a neighbor never changed them. Recently someone from the town did a routine appraisal on our property and reported the “crime.” I finally added a second number to the first since I have received several letters from the police. Now the regulations are routinely ignored and a fire captain who lives on my street is in violation. I reported to the person handling this massive 9-1-1 issue the fact that I counted at least ten violations in a half mile radius of my house. To date nothing has been done. So much for enforcement.

Speaking of the idiotic - or why do you give these folks guns? In Swampscott one Anthony McKay became aware of a local druggie attempting to break into McKay’s car. His wife called the cops and McKay confronted the perp and the perp ended up with a busted jaw. Naturally McKay now faces assault charges and I quote from one Sgt Tim Cassidy (AKA - Sgt. Shultz) of Swampscott: “We don’t want anyone to fight back. We want them to call us.” Maybe he was groggy from too many paid detail hours?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Middleboro

Occupy Wall Street has been in the news as this throwback to the 60s and early 70s appears at first glance a grassroots (no pun on “grass”) movement. Some of the protesters appear in a time warp from days I remember and like in those days there seems to be a convoluted list of demands, issues and targets that made for amusing reading and that is definitely true with this current movement. Some of the “demands” appear right out of the far left playbook although the protesters claim they have no allegiance to either party and seem to actually place a significant amount of blame on the now quite weak shoulders of the Community Organizer In Chief.

Now the bottom line to me is this scraggly group is onto something. They may not be able to articulate their ire except in slogans or in some rather convoluted and bizarre interviews with media but they know something is wrong - seriously wrong - with the way this nation, this administration, previous administrations and a long list of Congress after Congress has consistently been in the bag to special interests, unions, high profile (and low) billionaires, banking and investment interests and just about anyone who has access thanks to having oodles of cash.

This is one protest I would gladly join and may. If they wish to target the Commodities Modernization Act or Gramm-Leach-Bliley I’ll climb on board and carry a sign but I will continue to sleep in a real bed and bathe daily. These folks are onto something.

The financial services sector is just a joke. The salaries and bonus figures are nuts and for what? How valuable are they? OK…doomsday has arrived and we are picking up the remains of society so who would you rather have a carpenter, plumber, electrician, mechanic or a financial advisor?

Is Herman Cain the Republican answer to Reverend Wright?

A 7B pipeline is in the works from Alberta Canada to Texas. This has an interesting dilemma for our current (and latest) oval office failure - support environmentalist or unions who want jobs? Maybe the Prez can look into his magic teleprompter for an answer?

On a recent trip to Texas we stayed at a resort since our Great White Elephant condo was finally sold and I am just amazed at the various methods high end hotel chains flat out screw over customers. First off is the internet charge that runs at this place $14.99 a day where at Motel 6 you would pay zero. Then comes the resort fee which is what you pay for services that should be included in your bill and often for things you will never use. This can be up to 15%. Of course you get two complimentary papers so maybe that’s why you’d pay twice as much as the Quality Inn next door? I had managed to get a huge discount on this place and paid about 40% less than the rack rate but otherwise there were plenty of places in Galveston with ocean views, free parking and a breakfast for half the price.

Next up on my hit list is the airport mall cops - TSA. “Sir! What do you have in your back pockets?” “Ah….I don’t have back pockets.” “SIR! What do you have in your back pockets?” “My arse is the only thing in my back pockets and you can enjoy the pleasure of doing a feely to find out.” “Sir! There is no reason to respond in such a matter.” “I can respond to an idiot question with an idiot answer when I deal with idiots.” Somehow I managed to get through security. I really don’t think the agent caught the reference.

Rick Perry’s daddy had a rather unique name for the old hunting lodge.

Been some talk that Chris Christie is too fat to be president. The last few have been rather svelte and how did that turn out? Where is Taft when you need him.

My wife - The Lovely Cynthia - and I have never taken a cruise. We travel constantly but a cruise has never been high on the list and in fact is somewhere below experiencing a sand storm in the Gobi desert. In Galveston a new cruise ship docked and this one was a combination Disney World, casino, endless buffet and petri dish. We both decided that just maybe we may try a cruise of three or four days but I know it won’t fit our style. We both like to leisurely explore places we go and TLC (The Lovely Cynthia) enjoys sitting on a beach for hours while I hate to be confined and a ship appears like a large gerbil cage. But we may just finally do it. Folks rave about the cruises but I just listen and say internally “not for me.”

Mitt Romney (R - Waffle House) is suppose to belong to a religious cult according to some mainstream religious pundits. For an atheist they are all cults with some just more established than others.

Elizabeth Warren (D - Consumer Reports) is the current front runner for Brown’s seat. Warren portrays herself as a “lass of the people” and I’ll not try to buy into that elitist Harvard BS with a 500K compensation package and the fact she can’t even file finance reports on time. Tack on her very close ties with the administration and that is Trouble with as capital “T.”

Massachusetts is one of the dwindling few states that actually still has favorable numbers for president WOW (Walk On Water).

The Boston Globe once again has managed to show what a two bit rag it really is as the bow tied bum kissers outed the Whitey Bugler informant. This may seriously put the woman at risk especially from assorted nut jobs who may wish for their 15 minutes of fame. The whole tipster program will also be jeopardized thanks to this incredible breech of common sense. The wonder is who tipped them off? Well …to me just think FBI.

If size matters then visit the new Wegmans super market. This place makes a big box store look like the corner mom and pop operation. I’m familiar with the store from my travels and find it daunting as I just feel uncomfortable in the large super stores. Hannafords and Market Basket are about the right size for me and the prices are find plus I know where everything is without using a GPS.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

MCC And Smoking

Massasoit Community College has implemented a smoking ban that forces the addicted into two designated areas to enjoy their slow method of killing themselves. The administration at MCC had actually conducted an extensive survey that showed overwhelming support for such a ban. I have zero sympathy for the addicted.

I grew up in an environment where smokers were allowed to run amuck with their habit and the whole process was consider chic and sexy. Unfortunately I have little tolerance for the foul aroma and it made life quite difficult for me. As I got older any bars or restaurants were off limits or I resigned myself to about an hour before the burning eyes and pulmonary irritation took place. I was an outstanding candlepin bowler but that had to go since bowling alleys looked like the morning fog over ‘Frisco Bay.

On airplanes it was a disaster. In the early 70s I had to travel for business and three to five hours in a closed environment meant hours of recovery. Classrooms were also a problem as folks would just light up and in fact light up in all public places. One of the reasons I thrived in a computer environment is that smoking was prohibited around the equipment. But changes would be taking place.

In the late 70s I was part of a group called GASP - Group Against Smoking Pollution. Goal #1 was a simple one - to ban smoking in supermarkets. The approach was through local boards of health to make it a health issue and not a political one. By this point there was - unlike global warming - irrefutable evidence of the negative impact of smoking and - pardon the pun - the smoking gun of second hand smoke.

The wheels of fate have now placed smoking into a realm where even the addicted have the manners and common sense to know where and when to light up. I have a boat load of sympathy for their entrapment into the addiction but I have even more sympathy and responsibility for myself and maintaining good health.

So the whinny little group at MCC is offended that they are under strict supervision. Tough. Cry me a river since I went through the other side of the equation for 30+ years. The excuses they put forth were flat out pathetic. You can’t go without for five or six hours? Please. If you were flying from Boston to LA you’d be shut out and somehow manage.

Now I don’t want the foolish addiction banned. If someone wishes to light up in their car or home just go for it. Hopefully they’ll have some common sense and not expose the non smokers to their pollutants. But it is now getting to be a much better world for the majority of us who do not practice the habit. I can eat without having my eyes burning and travel without any worry of someone puffing on a gawd awful stogie next to me. Even hotels I now only have to worry about bedbugs and not the pallor of smoke the previous occupants has left as their personal gift.

In the work place the loading docks are now important gathering places as the smoking zombies assemble several times a day for what seems like endless “breaks” to puff away. I know when I was in the DPS (Dreaded Private Sector) there was a strong undercurrent of resentment over time lost as the zombies fled for their magic puff.

I know most want to quit and have made multiple attempts but like serial dieters they seem to go back and forth between cold turkey and a rendezvous with the Marlboro Man. At least with my ice cream addiction I can exercise the excess off and somehow second drippings from my chin won’t send someone into cardiac arrest. The simple fact is the various forms of smoking are designed to kill you when used as directed. The actuarial tables do not lie on that one.

Where I taught and still tutor I see one of the worse results of behavior disorder and it is exemplified by smoking. What better way to churn up the adults and authority figures than to puff up. Many of the students started at ten years old. A real defiant and “Take that” attitude. Many will flat out say “If I only knew then….“ I have seen some with a pack a day habit that has put them into a situation where even their meager employment dollars are drained to feed the habit. The program has interventions to help but, unfortunately, the success rate is akin to the recent Red Sox September.

My daughter was a student at MHS ten years ago and literally could not use the girls facilities because of the dense smoke. This is a similar problem at where I tutor. The smoke wafting out of the boys rooms can become a dread for me. In fact out of curiosity I once asked an attorney I know if someone like myself with a documented health reaction to smoke could actually bring a criminal complaint against someone smoking in a restricted area by claiming it as a type of assault. He was quite fascinated with that concept.

The malfeasance of the cigarette industry is well documented. Most have managed to weasel out of class action suits despite the evidence that shows a pattern of lying, skewering facts and attempting to debunk the opposition - much like those global warming advocates did a few years ago. But the risk-reward is really great so take a chance. Most of the companies have managed to diversify so much that cigarettes only represent a fraction of the business. They fully comprehended the direction public support was going.

Now the excuse machine at MCC was in full force as the addicted attempted to somehow do a weasel t6o get their way. Too far to walk? Hey, it will do some good for your lungs. The excuse that it could lead to car break-ins. Oh - so smokers are car thieves?

So I am sure the latest brouhaha at MCC will just go up in smoke.