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Archive for the ‘Massachusetts’ Category

When times are tough, you look for expenses in your household budget that maybe you can do without: “this is nice to have, but we don’t need it right now”; or, “we need this, but maybe we can be paying less for it.” Shouldn’t our State government be doing the same thing??

Instead, what does Beacon Hill do in difficult economic times? They go back, time and time and time again, to their own bottomless ATM (the Acquiescent Taxpayers of Massachusetts). They’re like some kind of rabid monster – “must get more revenue, need more revenue, can’t lose any revenue!!” As if raising revenue is the only option for dealing with budget shortfalls.

This morning we learn that *at the same time Beacon Hill is already getting $11 Billion from the Porkosaurus Rex stimulus bill* Governor Patrick is going to jack-up the gas tax by 19 cents per gallon (nearly doubling the state’s gas tax). God forbid the Governor actually trim some of the grotesque fat that oozes from every door jamb in the State House. Why don’t we just hand them our entire paycheck, and then they can give us a weekly allowance? Oh, and now we know why the Governor proposed a 50 cent gas tax last week – it’s the oldest political trick in the book: threaten a 50 cent tax, and then when everyone gets outraged, drop it to 19 cents…suddenly the ignorant masses think they’re getting a bargain. All this from a Governor who ran on promises of property tax relief – what an absolute joke!

And you know the saddest part? We aren’t going to do anything about it. The majority of voters in this state are spineless lemmings. Every November they go into the voting booth and check D-D-D-D-D-D, all the way down the page. Here’s the bottom line: if you voted for this Governor, if you voted ‘No’ on Question 1, if you continue to vote for all these incumbent Democrats, then you have no leg to stand on and ought to keep your mouth shut about this gas tax. Your votes already sent a clear message to Beacon Hill: “Keep doing what you’re doing, it’s fine with me.”

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A silver lining on the otherwise gloomy economic cloud – As of December 22, gas prices in Massachusetts (adjusted for inflation) are at their lowest level since April 2002.

ma-gas-prices

Source: Energy Information Administration, weekly retail gasoline prices. Inflation adjustment based on Northeast regional Consumer Price Index time series from BLS.

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There are a lot of myths out there about energy efficiency. For instance, it is a myth that turning your computer off-and-on takes more energy than just leaving it on or in “sleep” mode; and the Patrick administration just announced it is taking advantage of this ridiculously easy way for the state to save some serious cash.

Boston (WBZ) – The Patrick Administration says it can save $2 million and 12 million kilowatts a year just by turning off computers at executive branch agencies. The administration on Friday announced a new policy of shutting down the computers or switching them to energy saving “sleep mode” when they aren’t being used. Aside from the energy and cost savings, the administration estimates the policy will reduce 5,051 tons of carbon emissions — roughly equivalent to driving 925 cars for a year or providing electricity to 669 homes for one year.

So how about a few other myths along these same lines:

  • Myth #1 – Turning off lights uses more energy. Turning off lights, even for short periods of time, really saves energy, with little impact on the lifespan of the bulb.
  • Myth #2 – Turning off car uses more energy. Idling a modern car always wastes more energy than turning it off and then on again (even for short periods of time).
  • Myth #3 – Turning down thermostat uses more energy. It is good to turn down the thermostat while you’re away from the house for the day. If you are out for a good stretch of time (say 8 hours or so), this temperature “set-back” will save more energy than it will take to bring your home back to the desired temperature.

More efficiency mythbusters from ACEEE here

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Last Wednesday, I’m sitting at my desk at work and all of a sudden a massive storm swept through. The rain flew in sideways and the wind was so strong that some of the temporary partition walls at the construction site next door flew into the street. Observing all of the action from my 4th floor window, I saw five or six workers rush to retrieve the walls from the middle of Clarendon Street. 

That is not even the half of it!

In addition to the construction site next door, there were also construction workers on the side of our building standing on a scaffold 4 or 5 floors up. The scaffold was located on Stuart Street, which, due to its position next to the huge Hancock building, is ALWAYS a bit of a wind tunnel to navigate. The storm intensified this to a terrifying extent. For a number of minutes, these guys held on for dear life as they were whipped back and forth up against the building – even damaging the “YWCA” sign. I know the photo below really stinks, but it links to a video from WBZ that says it all (just click on the image).

I hope these guys get at least a few days off, if not a raise or bonus!

Strong winds lead to scaffolding scare in Boston

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The Patriots season officially kicked off yesterday with our first game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Technically, we won, but we lost our quarterback! It has been a dismal 24 hours and we’re all thinking to ourselves “what will this season bring with no Tom Brady?” At least for now, I can overlook this horrible injustice as I revel in the opening of Patriot Place. Have you heard of it? Apparently I’ve been out of the loop – I just heard about it yesterday.

Patriot Place is a shopping and entertainment mecca built adjacent to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. Not all of the stores are open at this point, but my guess is that, if the retailers are smart, everything will be open by Christmas. The complex will feature mall staples like Aeropostale, Bath & Body Works, Claire’s, GNC, Godiva, Hallmark, Pac Sun, Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret, and more.

But, what I’m most excited about are some of the restaurants and bars, like Davio’s and CBS Scene, and the new “Showcase Live” venue (Joe Bonamassa is playing in the fall – we’d probably be there if we weren’t already seeing him at Austin City Limits in a few weeks). I’m also looking forward to visiting the new Christmas Tree Shop (best store ever!) and the first Bass Pro Shops in New England (a 150,000 square foot outdoor superstore – yeah, that’s 3 1/2 football fields.) Not to mention, I’ve never been to the Patriots Pro Shop and, with all of the new added benefits of Patriot Place, it will make the trip from Newton to Foxboro even more worthwhile.

Click on the image below to check out the interactive map of Patriot Place.

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The unofficial end to summer has come and gone (Labor Day), the official end to summer is fast approaching (Autumnal Equinox)…and I couldn’t be happier. This is the best time of year in New England. Sure I love summer, and yeah, the dwindling daylight is a bummer, but there are just so many things I love about the fall:

●  NFL, college football, fantasy football
●  Pennant races, October baseball
●  Foliage – I’ll admit it, I dig foliage
●  Orion starts creeping up over the horizon – I’ll admit it, I dig constellations
●  Stews, braised meats, roasted birds, and other comforting fare
●   Crispy morning air that will wake you up better than a shot of espresso
●   And of course, our wedding anniversary 🙂

And get this, all the suffering through the tedious rain we endured during the summer is paying off in spades for the fall harvest. Cranberry and apple farmers in New England are expecting one of the most bountiful, colorful, and juiciest harvests in years. Extra helpings of cranberry sauce and apple pie all around!

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Normally I stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for my morning coffee. I can’t remember the last time I bought coffee anywhere else, and today, it showed.

I was in Harvard Square with some time to kill and decided to get my morning brew while I waited. Harvard Square is familiar territory – I was pretty sure that there was no DD within walking distance. I spotted Au Bon Pain, which seemed harmless, so I decided to cut my losses and just go there instead of searching for DD. Walking in, I was confident.

Almost immediately confidence gave way to anxiety – I didn’t know the protocol for getting coffee in this joint. Trying to look unfazed, I went to the main counter and ordered a medium coffee. Oops, its self-serve. I was referred to a counter where I could pour my own, so I made my way to the coffee thermoses and picked a cup from the many stacks – oops again…I picked an iced coffee cup instead of a hot coffee cup (apparently they are differentiated by color). I went back to get a hot coffee cup and finally poured the friggin’ coffee.  Home-free…or so I thought.

At this point, I looked around and there was no sugar or milk anywhere in sight. I was totally baffled. I slowly backed away from the coffee area, looking casual, and observed another customer pouring coffee so I could follow his lead. Sure enough, that guy drinks his coffee black and I’m shit out of luck. Feeling stupid, I meandered back to the main counter and asked about the milk and sugar. The woman referred me to yet another counter that is literally hidden from all view when you’re standing at the coffee counter…marvelous. I paid the woman and got the hell out of there. It was 5 minutes I’ll never get back.

I must have, deservedly, been the butt of jokes among the Au Bon Pain staff. You’d think anyone of my generation would be able to buy a cup of coffee at Au Bon Pain without bumbling and stumbling around like an idiot. Oh well, at least the coffee tasted good 🙂

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