Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Great Gadget

One of the gazillion gifts Mary gave me for Christmas was a Gift Card to L.L. Bean. What a great idea. Now, I could have used the card online, but I had to exchange an LL Bean gift, and I wanted it sooner than later, so I drove down to the new LL Bean store in Mansfield. The store is in a new plaza just a couple of minutes off I-495. It's a great place, but not as big as the Freeport, ME store.

While I was there I poked around in the gadget section. I love gadgets, always have. I found a little radio that I had been lusting for over the past few years. The radio is a small AM / FM Weather band radio that one cranks to charge the rechargeable batteries inside. there is also a solar collector on top that will charge the batteries as well, and a port to plug it into the USB port of your computer to charge it as well. Of, course there is the AC port to charge it as well, but it didn't come with a charger. Those are extra.

The radio usually lists for $35.00, but was on sale the day I was there for around $28.00, so I bought it. This is a piece of equipment that every home needs. We just saw first hand what snow and ice can do to the power grid here in Central Mass, and we need to stay in the know when those times come. This little radio is just the thing to get the information you need, and entertain you as well.

The reception is great, and the weather radio has seven channels to choose from. Worcester is broadcast on the seventh channel, and comes in clear as a bell.

Another feature the radio has is a 3-LED flashlight. LED's don't burn out like regular flashlight bulbs, at least not in your lifetime with normal use, and they stay very bright. They also use very little power.

We have a few LED flashlights around the house. One of them is on a charger, and always ready, another is one that I take to work everyday. They are bright and reliable, so for those times without power from National Grid they are invaluable, and safer than candles. There are also LED table lanterns available that stay lit for hours and hours.

Every home should have emergency supplies such as these items. They'll help get you through a day of no power. Anything longer than that will require some advanced thought on just what to do next. A radio, flashlights, and a way of providing safe warmth are things we must have on hand. Those with well water need to stockpile water, and if the power is off for a long period of time, then the food in the fridge may spoil, so food staples such as powdered milk, juice boxes, Peanut Butter and Jelly, bread should be on hand.

Oh, and Oreo's. They are essential emergency rations.

I'm writing this as the snow is falling, and predictions are that we will receive over six inches today by the time it all said and done. The are also predicting a "wintry mix", that means ice and sleet. Sleet I can deal with, but ice is far more imposing. It sags the power lines, the trees, and makes the roads impassable. Loss of power is common, and car accidents skyrocket.

Ice days are the worst.

This is not going to be the best weather day. Mary is already at work in northern Mass, and I will be driving to work in Boston later in the day. This is when commuting is the worst, and driving slowly, and defensively is essential.

One more thing I have that may not be an essential storm gadget, but sure makes the time go by quicker, is a battery powered DVD player (another gift from me Mary).

I don't like loosing power, or living like a pilgrim for more than a day or so. I guess I am spoiled by the conveniences that man has invented. I'm not sure if that is OK to admit, or not, but it is the truth. If I purposely go camping with only a tent and a sleeping bag, then that is fine, but if I am home, then let the light shine.

Yep, I'm spoiled.

I've been thinking of a propane generator, and a propane powered fireplace log. Both of these items could save this man from a severe case of cabin fever, and make life for those around him bearable.

Anyway, check out, and look up the little radio. For just a few dollars you won't be able to light your entire home, or power your TV, but it will give you some peace of mind when the weather turns against you.

If it could get cable, and run the microwave it would be ideal.

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