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Archive for May, 2008

‘Beat L.A., Beat L.A.!’ Celtics vs. Lakers in the NBA finals, it’s the match-up we’ve all been hoping for! These truly are the golden days in our region.

And yet, I still feel compelled to point out what was obvious to anyone who has been watching the NBA recently – the NBA has a major credibility problem with their officiating. I feel sort of foolish even making the refs an issue , especially since the Celtics ended up winning the series, but it really has gotten to the point where it is difficult to take seriously some of these games. If the refs are doing their job well, they should hardly be noticed during the course of a game. But in today’s NBA, it is ALL about the officiating – they are more at the center of attention than the players during the course of a game and it sucks. There is absolutely NO consistency and there are only two possible explanations – either the refs are just bad at enforcing NBA rules, or there is some sort of deliberate bias for the home team and/or certain players.

Last night’s Celtics-Pistons game 6 was easily one of the worst officiated games I have ever seen. It was mind-boggling and pathetic. And the offensive foul called against Paul Pierce in the third quarter was, without question, the worst single call I have ever seen in any NBA game – ever!  

With the Celtics down five after a Detroit run, Pierce, standing beyond the arc on the left wing, got his defender in the air with an up fake, drew the contact, and somehow made the 3-pointer as he fell backwards. The Palace of Auburn Hills was silenced until the call was revealed to be an offensive foul. Tayshaun Prince would get two free throws on the other end to complete a six-point swing. Bull****. Here is the video.

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I’ve been an aunt for about a day now and my niece has to be the cutest baby ever…and I’m not just saying that because I’m her Auntie. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see her grow up. I’m always one to look towards the future. Then again, she is only about 36 hours old. I should probably take it one day at a time, huh?

Anyways, things have come a long way in the “birthing business.” My niece was fitted with a personal GPS tracker on her ankle at the hospital! You know, so some crazy baby snatcher doesn’t kidnap her. I was pleasantly surprised at the smiley-faced device.

I also watched the “Business of Being Born” about a week ago. It is a documentary from Ricki Lake (yes, the former talk show host). It was quite informative. I wouldn’t say that I agreed with everything in the documentary or that I would go the “natural” birth route myself, but it is interesting to know that – if you can believe it – the time of day with the most c-sections in the US is about 4pm (right when a doctor is looking to go home and get some dinner). That’s pretty shocking, and I suspect, not a coincidence.

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Boston

Here’s a sampling of links about recent happenings with clean energy in Massachusetts – there is a LOT going on. Clicking any link will open a new window so you won’t lose your place.

  • Fenway Park unveils solar panels on roof – The green at Fenway Park will no longer be limited to the grass, historic rafters, and 37-foot-high wall in left field. Enough solar thermal panels have been installed on the roof to provide 37 percent of the hot water needed at the 96-year-old park, reducing annual carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 18 tons. The solar installation is actually part of two broader initiatives. City and federal officials announced Fenway plans to highlight Solar Boston, a $600,000 program aimed at increasing Boston’s solar energy output 50-fold by 2015. The Fenway solar installation is also part of a new MLB program, the Team Greening Program, which is MLB’s first league-wide eco-initiative and has teams all over the country starting green programs. The program provides each team with an individualized Team Greening Advisor, which is a Web-based software tool featuring advice and resources for every aspect of a club’s operations. For instance, the Sox are also making other changes, like switching the field’s lawn-mowers biodiesel and enlisting a group of 30-50 volunteers to collect recyclables between innings.

 

  • NSTAR Green allows customers to buy wind energy – Earlier this month the state Department of Public Utilities approved a program that allows NSTAR customers to buy their electricity from wind farms in Maine and upstate New York. Customers who enroll in the NSTAR Green program will have to pay a premium on their monthly bill, $4 – $7 depending on whether you opt to buy half or all of your electricity from wind farms (although I don’t think many people are very excited by the idea of paying more for energy right now). National Grid has a similar program, GreenUp, and there are many other utility and non-utility options available. You can find out what your clean electricity options are based on your town by following this link to the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust. For the uninitiated, enrolling in a program like this has absolutely no effect on the reliability of your electricity service, and nothing changes in terms of the way electricity physically gets into your house. The only difference you will notice is the premium on your monthly bill.

 

  • Massachusetts Green Jobs Act of 2008 – Last week, in an address to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, House Speaker Sal DiMasi announced a new initiative directing millions of state dollars at growing the local alternative-energy sector. Dubbed the Green Jobs Act of 2008, the bill would allocate more than $50 million to the creation of new jobs and revenue in the state’s clean energy industry. The initiative is directly aimed at creating jobs in the clean-energy sector, particularly through start-ups, and is designed to “attract hundreds off millions of dollars in venture capital, create thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in new annual revenue for the commonwealth,” according to a statement by DiMasi’s office. On a related note, the clean energy industry in Massachusetts is already booming – supporting about 15,000 jobs – and is about to overtake textiles as the 10th largest employment cluster in Massachusetts, according to a “census” of the clean energy industry released last year by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC). Click the thumbnail image to enlarge the picture. 

 

  • Newton/Needham Chamber to present Green Business Solutions Expo – All over Newton and Needham, businesses are looking to go green, and for the first time, the Newton/Needham Chamber of Commerce will present an expo to help them learn to adapt to a new, environmentally conscious business climate. The chamber’s first-ever Green Business Solutions Expo will take place at the Newton Marriott Tuesday, June 3. Speakers will cover topics including recycling, organic lawn care, energy conservation, and how businesses can apply to receive government grants and rebates. Fifty-five exhibitors are expected. Chapman Construction and Designis going solar, and for Guy Compagnone, the company’s director of sustainable practices, the business decision is a no-brainer. “If you’re pioneering right now, you’re ahead of the curve. If you’re not, you’ll be far behind and have to catch up later. Straight up, there’s a reduced utility cost, much lower environmental impact and client attraction,” said Compagnone. 

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For anyone even slightly connected to current events or pop culture, you’ve heard of the “Wii.” A video game console controlled by a wireless remote, the Nintendo Wii is a video game marvel recently outselling all other non-portable consoles including Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3. According to NPD, Nintendo has sold 714.2 thousand systems in April 2008 – cha ching!

The Wii is unique in that it appeals to an overwhelmingly broad, mainstream audience – kids, teens, men, women, and even the elderly. In fact, the Wii has become quite popular in retirement homes because it is a great way for residents to get up and moving.

Nintendo has taken the “get up and move” concept a step further with last week’s launch of the Wii Fit – a $90 pressure-sensitive “balance board” and game bundle that players can use to do yoga, aerobics, strength training, etc.

Nintendo kicked off the US launch with an event in Central Park, where they set up 38 Wii Fit systems for the public to enjoy and donated $5 to the American Heart Association with every person that tried the game. The event got a lot of attention with gaming/tech bloggers. Being in PR, this “launch event” tactic is very common. And I can tell you from experience, it is no easy feat getting the permits squared away to have an event in Central Park!

Although the game launched in the US last week, it actually had been in the UK for awhile, where Wii Fit has been making some big waves. The game measures your Body Mass Index (BMI) after you enter your age and height. According to a recent story by Mail Online, a ten year old girl was playing the game and it told her she was fat. Her parents were horrified and some experts have been dissing the Wii Fit as a result. I can see both sides of the argument – you don’t want a young girl thinking she is fat if she is not, but IT IS JUST A GAME!!!

Another amusing angle of this story is that the same week the Wii Fit launched, Nintento also released Major League Eating: The Game, which is based off of the concept of competitive speed eating – mmmmm, hot dogs.

All-in-all, the Wii has been a huge success for Nintendo and, although it’s been a year and a half since the Wii hit shelves, it is still hard to come by the console in stores, even with a $200+ price tag!

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‘Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known But to God’

It’s about honor and respect for fallen veterans – and nowhere is that most appropriate kind of honor and respect better demonstrated than at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

The Tomb of the Unknowns, which is a monument dedicated to American servicemen who have died without their remains being identified, has been guarded by The Old Guard sentinels (the elite of the 3rd U.S. Infantry) continuously, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, since 1937. The tomb contains the remains of unknown American soldiers from World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict and, until 1998, the Vietnam War.

I visited the tomb 15 years ago, when I was 11, and can honestly say my memory of that afternoon is still easily among the most vivid memories of any experience from my childhood. Watching the meticulous, dutiful, and precise ritual the guard follows when watching over the graves is truly awe inspiring.

This video seemed apropos – it shows The Sentinels Creed and some footage of the tomb on a snowy day in February 2007. I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend!

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Last night was bitter sweet. The sweet – our kickball team walked away with a win (I knew all we needed was our official t-shirts – see previous post) followed by some celebration drinks, flip cup, and karaoke at the bar Samba in Somerville.

The bitter – while we were consumed in kickball victory bliss, David Archuleta was defeated by rocker David Cook on American Idol. Don’t get me wrong “big” David has talent, but I was rooting for Archie, hands down. From the beginning I knew “little” David was going to make it to the final – but I guess he just didn’t have the “right stuff” (Citation: New Kids on the Block).

I guess I can’t really complain about the outcome, though, since I never vote. On the flipside, you can look at the loss as a positive – being an American Idol winner doesn’t guarantee success. Many AI “losers” have had great careers thus far – ahem, Chris Daughtry.

Now, Fox, bring on So You Think You Can Dance! It starts tonight – right now actually, so Elicia Buzz OUT!

(Note to Ryan Seacrest – it was a wise decision to die your hair back to a somewhat normal color and please don’t ever go back to saying “Seacrest Out” – it was a dark dark time in American Idol history.)

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We joined a kickball league! The “Massachusetts Minutemen” division of the World Adult Kickball Association, to be exact. A couple of our friends recruited us for the team, which happens to go by the name of “Balls Deep” (don’t even ask – I had nothing to do with it!).

We had our first game last week and lost. I think it was due to the fact that we didn’t have our official T-shirts yet. We’re supposed to get them tonight, so hopefully we’ll have better luck for our second game. We’re taking on The Belly-Itchers on what I’m sure will be a wet and muddy field from the rain today.

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