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
Thursday, December 4, 2014
They Just Like To Dot The I's, Cross the T's, Loop The J's, Coil The G's, Bump The B's, and Wiggle The S's, That's All.
The hotel project for the corner of New Boston Road, and Route 20 that was given permission to begin construction back in 2010 is only just now rounding the last bend in the approval process.
Was it all the waiting necessary? Hard to say, I am not on any of the committee's, or boards that demanded adjustments along the way, and I am not up to speed on any of the requirements the town insisted on to get this far. However, I do own a calendar, and I am well adept at reading it, and my calendar has indicated that it has taken a very long time to get this far in the project. It took four years to reduce the project by 1.4 acres, and .35 acres of pervious area.
The landscape plan for the area surrounding the proposed hotel is going to have 88 trees, 200 shrubs, over 500 perennials including ground covers, and grasses. This is a pretty extensive plan. Although, the actual layout has not been shared, it must need a bit of a tweak since the Planning Board feels it could be done better. Apparently, the plan is not specific enough for the Planning Board.
They know best.
They want to be sure that this corner business is attractive to the eye for folks living in town, and those coming from all over the world. I like the way they think, but I also think at this point in the process, and it being over two years since the old hotel was torn down, and the ground has been left looking like a playground in Chernobyl, that a daisy in a milk carton would make the site look 100 % better.
Simple Rule # 23: When there is no urgency felt by those making decisions, then decisions will be made without any urgency attached.
Is four years a bit long to get to this point? Probably. Would the process moved faster in another community? Only if there was an urgency to attract new business, get it up and running ASAP without compromise, and create a welcoming atmosphere to attract other businesses.
The current plan is to begin hotel construction in the spring if the current plans pass muster with the Conservation Commission, and the Planning Board in a few weeks. Drainage is the next topic.
I guess the bottom line is that a new facility is coming to town eventually, and it replaced the old American Motor Inn that desperately needed to come down, and, it will be nice to see a new facility welcoming those that come into town off of Exit 3b. Visitors will smile when they drive down Route 20, and look around them, and see that not much more has changed over the past 10 to 15 years. I guess that is why most visitors come, to experience the history, and ambiance in a history loving town where time doesn't really stand still, it just moseys real slow.
Just as nature supposedly abhors a vacuum, Sturbridge isn't too fond of change, especially fast change.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Before all the official recognition had begun, it was the more intimate form of recognition that I was having issues with. Relatives I have not seen in 35 years were there, and although we were all fairly close as kids, I barely recognized them now. I did manage to connect the faces with the names from my past after a lot of uncomfortable staring. Recognizing their children was impossible.
I scanned the hall, and attempted to identify the faces that hung under the graying, and gray hair. I saw cousins wearing sweaters, and Dockers with their belts hiked up to their nipple line. It seemed that it was just few months ago that jeans, and a work shirt would have once been the ensemble of the day. One thing didn't change, they still drank their Bud from the bottle. Somethings are just instinctual.
The hair was more dyed, gray, and sparse; the faces showed thirty five years of added character. The changes, hardly noticeable when seen over the years on a more frequent basis, only announced that not only was Uncle Tony older, but the celebrants were that much older, too.
A damn lot older.
Cripes, we all had become that sixty year old we used to think was synonymous with the end of life when we were twenty-five.
How the hell did this happen? Just a few months ago it was 1982, and I was singing along to Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger", and now I was standing in the middle of an American Legion Hall with a bunch of old people that insisted they were my cousins.
The realization that one is not only getting older, but is old, doesn't just come with ones first invitation to join AARP at fifty, it comes all along the the way, too. All those little bothers like getting out of the car a little slower, popping a couple of Aleve after spending the morning working in the yard, changing glasses in order to read a text on the phone, and then changing them again when you want to go back to watching Jimmy Fallon, tell us that something is up. If we accept things as just life, we'll do fine, but if we write off every wrinkle, ache, set of lost car keys, forgotten items at the store, missing hairs, teeth, as being old, then we will be old.
The mind is a neat thing, if you tell it something that you believe in, it responds in kind. Acting ones age is not always the best advice, being how one feels is far better.
I'm not old. I am aging, though. I'm younger than Uncle Tony, but I'm not young, either. This is my reality, and it is essential in moving forward without getting all hung up on what I used to do better than I do now. I listen to Top 40, and always have. I work with people less than half my age, and enjoy it a lot. I still wear jeans.
What's in my mind is so much younger than what's in my mirror.
Staying young has little to do with the date on the calendar, but everything to do with what is on your mind. If you choose to live old, chances are you will be, but if you choose to age, like wine, then you will most definitely become better than you are now.
I want to live to be 90 like my Uncle Tony, and I am working on being fifty when I get there.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
For those interested in learning more about rail service options, and improvements, and how it could affect us locally. This would be a great place to learn if it was possible for a train station that would be accessible for Sturbridge residents.
Senior Project Manager
Innovative Planning, Better Communities
416 Asylum Street, Hartford, CT 06103
Main: 860-247-7200 | Direct: 860-570-0740 | Mobile: 860-539-2038
Monday, November 10, 2014
Last time I wrote on this subject was last January, and I haven't heard, or read a word about the lands status until this morning.
This morning I learned that no actual remediation is needed, but only a recording, and delineation of the area not to disturb. I'm told that the area is about two acres. The order from the Sturbridge Board of Selectmen not to do anything on ALL the acreage still stands, after all this time. It is time to move on, ad get the trail completed.
So, let me put it out there to the Sturbridge BOS. What is the status of the River Lands, and when can we expect work to begin on completing the Grand Trunk Trail?
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Ebola is only spread by contact with infected body fluids, infected needles, and syringes, Fruit Bats, and primates.
The medical teams in the U.S. that are caring for those infected clinicians returning from West Africa are not required to be quarantined for 21 days after caring for those infected persons, however if that same team cared for that infected person 7000 miles to the east, in, let's say Sierra Leone, and returned to the U.S. they would be subject to quarantine for 21 days.
Why? What is the difference? Care is care, right?
No. Apparently it is not in the eyes of some state governments. Some states have made it clear that the care given over there is not quite as good for the caregiver as it would be if had been performed over here.
Dallas proved otherwise.
In Dallas we proved that we can offer the same "here's a band aid, and a prayer" therapy, that many world governments have extended to third world countries for generations, to our own people inside of America.
We were caught with our isolation gowns down, and were too proud to admit that we had no clue as how to proceed. We thought our big modern hospitals with their modern isolation rooms, and trained staff would be immune from Ebola hurting our own. We could have done way better. Nebraska proved that.
I admire the nurse from Maine that was quarantined in a tent in a parking lot with a bucket toilet for three days. After returning from Africa, where she cared for those stricken with Ebola, she said the right things, in the right way in order to put the attention on a system that was not up to speed, poorly thought out, and based on fear, not science.
This isn't over. There will many more health care workers exposed to the disease.
Fear is a natural component, but only knowledge, training, and proper equipment are what matters. Given to the right people they are the only things that can stop the outbreak.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Charter Cable recently went all digital. What that means to folks like us is the TV's we have in our house that did not require a cable box now do.
It was too good to last.
Even is it is a digital TV, it still requires a cable box. So, the old TV in the basement we used while throwing a load in the washer, or folding the laundry is now disconnected. No sense in paying $5.00 a month for a cable box that is seldom used. The TV in the kitchen did need a box, as did the TV on the wall in the bedroom. Those were boxless for years, but now I needed to figure out where to put the newly required boxes. The kitchen was fairly straight forward, the box sits on the counter with the tiny flat screen on top of it. The vents aren't blocked, and it works. The bedroom was different. The TV is hung on the wall with no place to put a cable box. I though of putting the box on top of my bureau on the other side of the room, but Mary knocked that thought out of my head. No, it had to go near the TV, preferably above it.
The Container Store in Natick has a bunch of neat shelving products. I bought a shelf system there a few years ago that was simple shelf supported by a cable. The shelf hung above the TV on the wall putting the box, Blu-ray player, and Wii console up, and out of the way. All the cables are hidden behind a cable hiding system I bought at Home Depot.
I drove back over to the Container Store to see what other options there were for the bedroom, and found a simple system of a shelve, and two supports. It was rated to support up to 65 pounds, and was simple. It also cost under $20. Come to find out the Home Depot has a very similar system, too.
I bought the shelf, and supports, and installed them that day. Took very little time, and Mary was happy. The only issue was the new cable box had the time lit up on it all the time. I never paid much attention to that on the other boxes, but in the bedroom that little bit of light is very annoying. Between the air conditioner LED lights in the summer, the humidifier LED lights in the winter, the clock radio, the little standby LED on the TV, and now the cable box , the bedroom was lit up like Times Square. Then I remembered reading an article about the phantom energy robbers in our homes. One of the things that robs electricity is cable boxes that stay lit all the time. I pushed the menu button on the remote, chose to have the clock off unless the box was turned on, and the problem was solved. I did the same for all the other boxes in the house, too.
If you have a table to place the cable box on you are all set, but it your TV is stuck on a wall without a table in sight, then these shelves may be an option for you.
Saving a little electricity is always good, but getting that annoying cable box up, and out of the way is even better.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
|The minimalist garage.|
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Stafford Street is a straight shot into south Worcester, and not to far from Goddard Memorial Drive, the road to the airport. It's a rural road, all tree lined, with simple homes along it's edges. A welcome change from 290.
When we reached the Leicster town line, there was a sign welcoming us to the village of Rochdale. It's a nice sign, and from what I remember reading as I drove by, it read "Welcome to Rochdale -- A mill town." Although a village within Leicster, the Welcome to Rochdale sign gave the village it's own identity beyond a separate zip code. Mary turned to me and asked, "Why doesn't Fiskdale have a welcome sign?" as if I am the Sturbridge Oracle.
"Dunno", I answered as intelligently as possible being caught off guard without a snappy reply. "I really don't know", I reinforced.
There is a nice mini-park at the clock on Main Street in Fiskdale, beside the mill building, that contains a little history about the area on placards placed in the garden, but Mary is right, there is no "Welcome to Fiskdale" sign on either end of Main Street, Holland Road, or Route 148.
|Map of Fiskdale, Massachusetts|
I think a few "Welcome to Fiskdale" signs placed about would not only reinforce what the feds have stressed on our envelopes for years, but lend an immense sense of pride to the those of us living "out west".
Now, I can hear the hairs rising on the back of the Sturbridge purists necks as I write.
"Welcome to Fiskdale signs will only confuse those that come to our town. They won't know where they truly are."
"They'll think they overshot Sturbidge."
"They'll get lost looking for Old Sturbridge Village."
"The signs won't do anything to promote Sturbridge."
"Sturbridge is the historical place, not Fiskdale."
Other towns put up signs as a matter of pride, and I am quite sure that Sturbridge is very proud of Fiskdale, and it's history. I don't think it will affect folks heading to Old Sturbridge Village, after all, it is located in Fiskdale.
If worded properly, and placed appropriately, the signs would be a wonderful addition to our roadsides.
Friday, October 10, 2014
Now, don't say you are always unhappy, or you are a lifelong pessimist, or you have an enzyme dysfunction that excludes you from being happy ever. I don't buy it, and don't be a dink. Happiness is universal, and it is a choice to either experience it, or not. Oh, you may be bummin' about something that might make it hard to smile at the moment, but that is temporary. The smile will come back, just grab hold when it does. You'll be fine.
If you are breathing be happy. That is a simple thought to start with.
I've had several times in my life where happiness took a leave of absence. You have, too. I have also had far more times where happiness not only found me, but grabbed me, and throttled the bejeepers out of me. It was that good. The sad times were rough, too, but I knew that they were only temporary.
I was not going to live sad. I am not talking about depression. Depression is far beyond being sad. Depression is a clinical condition, sadness is something everyone feels now, and again.
I've lost people close to me, jobs that I loved, all sorts of relationships, pets, my car keys, my train of thought, and money, but nothing did I loose was so severe as to suck the life from me for the rest of my days.
I've also had the attitude that I will maintain happiness, be ready for the next smile moment, and experience it to the fullest. That moment could be the simplest thing. On Monday, my happiness reached a high. My face still hurts from smiling for two hours straight.
Mary and I were both off on Monday. I slept in the morning after my work at the hospital that night, and she ran errands, and did "Mary" things. After noontime we moved somethings into the shed for the off season. It was a beautiful fall day with blue skies, a few white clouds, and seasonal temperatures.
"I want to go for a ride on the motorcycle", she said.
I am a novice rider, and had to gain some experience before taking a passenger with me. After a month, and a half of practice yesterday was the day to grab that next moment.
We ran over to Auburn, bought a helmet for Mary, and drove home. "Hurry!," Mary said as she smacked my arm, "We're burning' daylight!". She was little excited.
On the way home, I gave her the prerequisite safety talk about being a passenger on a motorcycle. I knew she heard me even though her smile was overlapping her ears.
At home we donned our gear, I got on the bike, and Mary sat behind me. She gave my back a squeeze, and I could feel her excitement though her gloves. A deep breath, a prayer, then off we went to Cumberland Farms.
We needed gas.
The air was brisk, and the sun was out. Blue skies with a few white clouds led the way. The afternoon sun played with the foliage along the road. At each stop sign I checked with Mary, and asked how she was doing, and even over the motors rumble, I could hear her smile.
You can actually feel happiness, and I felt not only my own, but hers.
We rode up Route 32 into Hardwick to the covered bridge. This is one of our favorite places, and it was only natural we would come here on our first ride together. Riding the bike through the covered bridge over those thick wooden boards was great. The sound of the motor against the bridges floorboards, and echoing up against the rafters will stay with me for a long time. We dismounted, took a few photos, and headed back down 32 to Route 9 west, and the Quabbin Reservoir.
Route 9 becomes less wide the further west you go, and has more twists, and curves. It is a great road for riding a motorcycle. The scenery is the best, and around each corner I could feel Mary give me a squeeze when she saw a sight that was awesome. I got a lot of hugs that day.
We entered the Quabbin Reservoir, and rode slowly through the forest that reservoir sat inside of. The leaves were near peak in some areas, and in others they hadn't changed at all. In the very best areas, where the late afternoon sun was just hitting, the colors were the most glorious.
We pulled over in a scenic area, and stared off towards the water. It didn't cost us a thing. The happiness we were feeling was free, all it took was for us to find it.
We rode down the rest of the road chose to ride down by the dam, and back out to Route 9.
Coming up onto the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield the view was perfect with the sun illuminating the trees around the pasture. The cows looked as if they had been painted onto the scene. All it was missing was a signature in the corner. I'll hold that picture in my mind for a long time.
We took Route 148 south. The Brookfield Common, the Quaboag River, the fields, and woods lined our ride back home. The sun was beginning to fall below the tops of the trees to our right, and the shadows cast into the fields on our left were punctuated by colors of the changing trees. Mary's squeezes were held longer, and tighter. She was pushing the Happy Meter to its limits, and my smile hadn't left my face since we first pulled out of the driveway, and now, as we were pulling back in, it was frozen in place.
There is no secret to happiness. It isn't some mysterious force that only finds it's way to others. It's homemade. Whether you're giving it, or feeling it, happiness doesn't cost a thing. Be proactive, and don't wait for it to find your face, go find some for yourself.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
A bucket list thing is something one wants to do before they die in order to feel that their time here on this rock has been one of accomplishment. Checking off things on a list is one way of keeping track of those accomplishments.
Nothing wrong with a bucket list if one starts it early enough. If one starts a list early enough then life will steer one toward the items on the list, instead of the need for accomplishments steering ones life.
An early declaration of goals is not called a list, but rather a map for the path one chooses. Way points, destinations, layovers, and detours will be all over that map, and they will be added to, crossed off, ignored, and postponed.
I have one of those maps, and I have some postponed items that are now in the accomplished pile. One of those things on my list from very early in my life was to ride my own motorcycle along the back roads of New England in the fall.
This week, on the first day of autumn, I did it.
The ride was freedom, fun, and a smile that started in Fiskdale, and was still there when I arrived home again, and putting my bike back into the garage.
I'm still smiling.
When I decided that life finally was at the point on my map that would allow me to head in that direction, I began by taking the required test to obtain my motorcycle learners permit in spring of 2012. Soon after, a small detour went up when we bought a summer place. Just a detour, I've had those before, and the road it led me on was either a bit rocky, or better than my original route. This time it was the latter.
This past spring, with only a few months left on my two year learners permit, and having no time learning, I signed up for a two day motorcycle safety course in Boylston. Classroom hours, and hours on the asphalt course gave me a basic understanding on what it takes to get hurt, and how to avoid it. The class also taught me how to ride.
At the conclusion of the course I took a written test, and a practical test on a motorcycle. I passed both, and was awarded my very own Commonwealth of Massachusetts Motorcycle License.
I put off the idea of doing my long thought of back roads ride for a bit, there were other things that needed attention, and I don't like spending money on myself.
After a thinking things over this summer, reviewing the map, adjusting for detours, I decided to take the next step, and buy a motorcycle. A tent sale at Sheldon's in Auburn was a very good incentive. The motorcycle was affordable, in excellent condition, and apparently had been waiting for me.
Over that past several weeks I have taken the bike out and put a couple of hundred miles on it. Each time I go out, I learn, gain more confidence, and understanding of my bikes, and my limitations.
This past Monday, it was bright, sunny, and the fall colors were starting to appear. It was also the first day of fall.
It was time.
I took the motorcycle north on Brookfield Road to Warren Road. The trees, were changing, especially by the wetlands. I stopped at a farm stand we usually buy our pumpkins at in West Brookfield, took a couple of photos to remember the moment a destination on my map had been reached. I then headed the back way to Brimfield, towards Route 20, and home.
I have a lot of destinations left on my map. I know I will be adding more as well, and there are others I will never reach, have gone by, and have been reset. Reaching a destination is important, but not nearly as important the trip one takes in getting there. That is where the learning occurs. That is what makes reaching the destination so meaningful.
This journey took some time for me to reach those red, and yellow, leafed roads of West Brookfield, but it doesn't matter, I made it. The neat thing is that it may have taken forty four years to get there, but I was sixteen when I arrived.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I've written about having commuter train access for those in the region in the past, and today I am writing again in support of the selectman's plea. The addition of a rail platform on the existing line would be a tremendous boost to the area. Commuters to Worcester, Springfield, and beyond in both directions, would be able to cut their commute time, save oodles of money, reduce wear to the roads, and our environment, and do it all by driving a little bit north to the CSX line, and boarding a train.
No need for tracks. They are already there. Just a station. A sheltered platform. A small investment with incredible returns.
|Widening of the Massachusetts Turnpike from 4 to|
6 lanes looking west toward Exit 9 in Sturbridge.
A rail station would be an amenity that would attract thousands to an area that has been disconnected since the age of the trolley. The turnpike was an innovation designed, and built during the Eisenhower years when the interstate highway system was being constructed countrywide. Based on designs of the autobahn in Germany, modern highways served an incredible importance as our country grew beyond the neighborhoods, and out to suburbia. The turnpike is mainly responsible for Sturbridge being who we are today. Problem is, we are stagnant.
The age of the automobile not only spawned the toll road, but has maintained it. Today, the turnpike is like an old soldier trying on his uniform years after he took it off. It looked great at one time, but it simply no longer fits. The turnpike was built for 1957 traffic, widened for more traffic in the late 1960's. 2014 traffic is too much for the old road . It is no longer the care free road from here to way out there, but a clogged artery that causes accidents, lost patience, constant repairs from the load, and travel times far exceeding the times the highway was orignally built to provide.
The highway brought the people to rural America, but is struggling to get them in and out on a daily basis.
Time to shift gears, and put an option out there. Trains are a fantastic option.
Thank you, Mary, for your passion.
Previous articles on trains for our area:
Thinking Out Loud In Sturbridge: We Have Met The Enemy...
Thinking Out Loud In Sturbridge: Best Regional Idea ...
Sunday, September 14, 2014
The cell phone, and Voice Over Internet Protocol, cable telephone, has almost completely replaced the hardlined telephone line. CAUTION: OXYMORON AHEAD. Now, we are a generation of relying on our cable company for uninterrupted service.
Then there's the cell phone. We have we been turned into a head down, jaywalking, eye averting, texting, society who is only social when posting food pics from a restaurant , or of their cats being cats.
The expression, "Did I say that out loud?" was funny at one time, now it is expected behavior. Everything that is running through ones head is immediately texted, posted, or pinned. There are few secrets today. There is no mystery. We know everything about each other. From your inseam, to your bra size. From your dietary needs, to his GI issues. Wishes, to fantasies. We now know who each of us love, and who we don't. Some of us ramble. Others mutter, and others make absolutely no sense. There are few that are eloquent with their posts, and others are only confirming what many have known all along, and are now sharing with the world.
Our behavior has changed almost over night. What would have been regarded as rude, impolite, introverted, obsessive, compulsive, boring, and socially incorrect a decade ago, still is, but has now been given the term "social media" so it is a more accepted,tolerated, almost expected behavior.
Actually, it is the tolerated addiction. Frankly, there is not much we can do about it.
So, while you are sipping your coffee this morning, and mulling this over, check out this pic. WTH is she staring at? LOL.
My inseam is 32".
Friday, September 12, 2014
|Wells Harbor, Maine|
(c) 2014 W. Hersee
Monday, July 28, 2014
Friday, June 6, 2014
|Roadbed removed in preparation for the paving of new roadway.|
|Looking toward Route 20|
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
He was right, the matter is being addressed. Let's hope that it comes to fruition.
10:52 AM (5 hours ago)
|Good Morning All,|
To: DOTInfo (DOT)
Subject: MassDOT Contact Us: MassDOT
Auto forwarded by a Rule Name: Walter Hersee
Address: 60 BROOKFIELD ROAD FISKDALE, MA 01518
Phone Number: 508-963-5465
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, May 24, 2014
I am sure many of you have driven south of Route 148, and stopped at the lights at the intersection with Route 20. And, most of you know that you must yield to oncoming traffic if you are going to turn left.
Well, you do, but most of you don't.
I have seen close calls, obscene gestures, and hands flying up, and off the wheel in exasperation at this intersection, and it doesn't have to be that way. People just need to be reminded to yield. Those yellow triangle signs we see at merges are there to remind us to Yield; so are stop signs. As drivers we need to be reminded, alerted, and instructed as we drive. Experience, common sense, and knowledge can only help us so far.
At the intersection of Route 148, and Route 20 there is the need for a reminder. A sign placed on the large metal support for the traffic lights where Holland Road and Route 20 meet, and facing towards Route 148, and another placed on the wire light supports over the intersection would be very good reminders. This past week I received an email from a fellow Fiskdale resident expressing the same concerns. That email prompted me to write today. Thank you, Hoyle.
This is not an expensive fix, but as with the No Turn On Red signs at Hobbs Brook, it is necessary.
I have forwarded the email I recieved to to Selectman Moran, Greg Morse of the Highway Department, and Chief Ford. All of these men consider public safety to be a priority.
I'll let you know when I hear back.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
The former chairman of the BOS contacted me in an email, and assured me he would address it. He later called me and said he was involved with other negligent property owners in town, and wanted to take care of them first. He felt if the BOS addressed the Fiskdale house it would affect the proceedings with the other abandoned homes in town. He assured me he would address it in about three months.
I was confused. Here was a safety concern for the businesses, and those living next to the abandoned building that had been an issue for many, many years, yet the town would was not going to address it. Any other town would have cited the owner, given them a date to correct the issue, and if it wasn't, tear it down.
I did email reminders each year after the initial email in 2010, but never received a reply.
It's 2014. The building is still there, and he's not. There is a a new chairman, a new building inspector, a new fire chief, and a new attitude. So, let's try this again.
To the Sturbridge Board of Selectmen, Fire Chief, and Building Inspector:
The abandoned house beside the Blackington Building is a public safety hazard. It has sat empty for well over a decade, and it needs to be razed.
What are the towns plans for the building?
OK. Let's give the town a chance to formulate a plan, and to get back to us. This time, I promise not to let it go.
Friday, May 16, 2014
|Fisherman on Wells Beach|
(c) W. Hersee
The sea is very different each day. The feeling of the mist on your face on a cool, overcast morning is as enjoyable as the scent of sunblock soaked sand on a 90 degree day. The gentle sound of the tide going out is so different than the heavy surf coming in when there is a storm at sea. Both are wonderful, both enjoyed equally.
I could sit and watch the sea roll in, and then out, again forever. This passive act is perfect for thinking, dwelling, and pondering about nothing more than nothing at all. Sometimes that is the very best thing to do. It justifies that staring
|A young girl enjoys the sunrise on Wells Beach|
(c) W. Hersee
This summer we plan on doing a lot of mindless staring off to sea. We are getting quite good at it, almost to the level of making it an Olympic sport.
Watching the surf chase the Sandpipers up and down the sand is therapeutic--it actually cleanses the head, washing all the debris that has accumulated in those hard to purge recesses. It is a healthy thing to do. There is a renewal that occurs, and one can feel it as it is happening. It is not an act of laziness, in fact, if done correctly it surpasses being lazy.
|Fishing on the Jetty at Wells Beach|
(c) W. Hersee
Nature is cunning, and manipulative that way. We plan on being victims of manipulation on the beach a lot this summer, and we will be better people for it.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
It may look like a little plastic ring, but to the Felis catus, it is crack.
No matter what they are doing at the time, annoying you with those choreographed in 'n outs through your legs while you are taking dinner from the oven, or slapping your face as you lie in bed trying for those last few minutes of sleep, if they so much as hear one of these rings hit the floor you can say, Adios, gato!
There is something about these plastic circles that drive cats mad. I used to think it was the scent of milk from the milk jug from which they came, but after finding a few under the couch months after they were lost, and they still have the same narcotic effect on them, I now doubt that is the reason. It could be how the thing springs madly about when slapped with a paw, and can be carried from room to room in their mouths, but I haven't a clue. It is something powerful, though. It can distract the most hungry, and persistent cat, the most annoying cat that appears out of no where to sit on your head while you are watching TV. Just toss it on the floor, and watch the fun. If we could invent a human equivalent I believe we could achieve world peace. All we would need to do is have fly a drone over a trouble area, drop a few hundred thousand of these little plastic diplomats onto the angry throngs, and then sit back and watch the distraction. After awhile, the opposing parties may forget what had them so hot and bothered for in the first place, and go out for a beer.
I hope those smart kids at WPI are reading this.
|The plastic cat ring in its natural state.|
- Buy a jug of milk with a turn off cap.
- Take off the cap.
- Take off the ring. A fork may help.
- Put cap back on the milk jug.
- Toss the cat distractor onto the floor in front of cat.
- Watch the fun.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
How old the broken something is, is there a newer, better, shinier version available, and cost would be the factors that would preempt any repair attempt. The challenge of giving the broken thing an extended life was always something worth taking on so that when I had to buy a new own I could justify the purchase, and have no regrets.
Many of us follow these steps to some degree. We'll wiggle it, shake it, and turn it upside down. Some of us will even go the next step, and take a screw diver to it, open it up and do the wiggle, shake, turn maneuver all over again. We do it not so much to save a buck, but to satisfy the driving force to accept the challenge to fix it that the thing has offered up. Half of our brains hope for a quick, and easy fix, and the other half are hoping for a new, shiny thing.
The other day, after wiggling, and shaking, I bought the new shiny thing.
|Failed lock set.|
I grabbed a Phillips head, and went at it. Soon I had the knob off, and in my hand. I wiggled it, followed by the required shake, and then examined it from every angle as I wiggled and shook.
The knob continued to turn only one way, but not the other way so it would not allow the door to be closed unless the knob was turned. Without any further wigglin', I was off to Home Depot. It was time for a shiny new knob.
Home Depot's lock set aisle is impressive. Large displays up one side of an entire aisle of lock sets with, and without deadbolts, brass, or nickel finished, antiqued rubbed bronze, or brushed metal finishes, key operated, or combination lock. I narrowed my search to a combination pack of knob, and lock set, and I found the price was a bit more than it was three years ago. Maybe a new part would help. One company did sell a replacement inside piece, but my lock was a Schlage, and the store no longer carried those replacement parts because they were seldom sold.
Well, duh. They are replacement parts. If you sold a lot of them it would not speak well for the product, but it you did need a replacement, you would need it then, not in three to five business day from an online site.
I was directed to a lady at the end of the aisle. The Home Depot employee that directed me said she knew everything about lock sets. And she did. I told her my problem, and she asked what company the lock was from, and I told her it was a Schlage. She said to call them, and they will replace the lock set for free. They warranty their products for life.
Free? Really? Well, that sure as heck beats a shake and a wiggle hands down.
|The new lever lock set.|
When I got home, I called Schlage, and was greeted by a lady named Judy, and I explained my situation. She said she would be happy to help, and asked for the numbers on the replacement set I had just purchased, and for me to email her a copy of my receipt. She then told me my refund for the newly purchased lock set would be sent out in two weeks.
Really? She told me that Schlage stands behind their products, and they are guaranteed for life. I asked if she wanted me to send her the old set, and she said no. I then told her the new lock set had a lever, and was not the knob type that it replaced. She agreed that a lever was the best thing to have on that door since it would make life easier with hands full of groceries. No, she said, it didn't matter that it was a lever.
In the span of a couple of months, I had been visited twice by the Consumer Good Fairy. First the powered bathroom shade was replaced for bupkis, and now a $70.00 lock set was being replaced as well, and all for the price of a phone call.
So much for planned obsolescence. Today corporations find it better business to build a product that will either last, or take on a policy of replacing a defective item with no questions asked. For the consumer, this means a great deal. Loyalty is insured, and that spawns more positive word of mouth reviews, and more business. It works - I'm doing it now.
The lesson in all of this is if you have a product that has failed, and you fully expected it to last a lot longer, then give the company a call, and speak to customer service. You may be in for a pleasant surprise.
Now, for a bit more positive consumer news. I want to report that the new razors from Harrys.com I wrote about back on April 30 are great. That first razor I loaded onto the handle two weeks ago is still there, and shaving very well. Let's see just how far it will take me.
In the meantime, the hits just keep on coming.
Friday, May 9, 2014
Although, I am beginning to feel a bit like Angie's List, I want to share about a few local businesses today.
There are lots of small businesses here in town, and many of them I have used at one time or another, and I would recommend to a friend. Others, I have experienced, and they did not impress me. Most of them did not survive, and some, unfortunately, are still here.
Below are a few of the local businesses I recommend.
|C&R Tire in Fiskdale|
I've used the Finer Cut on Main Street just before Shaw's Plaza, in Sturbridge for years. They take walk-ins, and Ellie, the owner, and Marie, are nice people. They run a good shop, and know how to cut hair. I have no clue about the other things they do to hair, such as coloring, and such, but they've been tending to the hair needs of local folks for a long time. A good haircut is something one always needs, and they deliver.
Micknuck's Fresh Marketplace in Fiskdale is a local market that we frequent a couple of times each
We also frequent The Duck at the Whistling Swan, and Avellino's. Recently, I raved about Avellino's. The Duck is upstairs in the loft. It is a great casual gathering place with live music on weekends nights. The bar is very comfortable. Sunken a few feet, and surrounded by very comfortable chairs. The bar staff are great. They believe in service, and are very good at what they do. The menu at The Duck makes it well worth a visit.
Sturbridge Seafood on Main Street beside Sal's Pizza. Today, I am adding it to my list of neighborly recommendations. The menu is awesome. Mary had the honey crusted horseradish salmon, and I went went with my old standby that I use to judge seafood restaurants, whole belly fried clams.
Both were fantastic. Really.
Fried clams is such a New England staple, and they are made as many different ways as their are clam shacks. The trick to making them worthwhile is to use only fresh clams, and the batter cannot be an afterthought. A good taste, without being overly textured, and crunchy is best. It cannot take away from the taste of the clam. The batter on my clams last night was perfection. The clams were so fresh I had to send them to their rooms for the night. Mary's salmon was also very, very good. The horseradish gave her salmon a little bit of a kick without overwhelming the salmons fresh taste. Jenny had the fish taco, and she loved it. She told us it was great, and that is a great review.
Great food, and a great menu aren't the only things that a restaurant needs to succeed. They need a great chef, and they have one. Ken Yukimura is chef, and owner, and he has big plans for expansion that are now underway. The next requirement needed for any restaurant to succeed is to have the right customer service attitude in place from the very beginning so that it becomes a culture.
They have that part down pat as well. Last night our server was Faith, a young woman, that was truly personable, and real. She was efficient, personable with a great sense of humor. She never appeared harried, and when she was standing beside our table it was very evident we had her attention. If you are treated rudely, or the service at your table is lacking, you will not want to repeat that experience despite the food being great. We will be repeating our visit to Sturbridge Seafood again. They're on the list now.
So, there you have it. Some of the local businesses in town that impress us, and that we frequent. There are many more as well, but I'll save those for another time. I really am starting to feel like Angie.