Wednesday, December 20, 2006


It's cold here, something I hadn't planned on, so I had to dig my sweat shirts, fleece socks and pants, etc. out of the plastic, sealed containers from the garage. The name of the game is layers. Long sleeve tee, and a hooded zipper sweatshirt, jeans and cumfy fleece socks. As the day progresses, and the sun heat's the house, I can relax in the bare feet.
I don't understand why it's one of the coldest Winters here, as one chick on TV said. I've been doing my part to accelerate the greenhouse effect. By the looks of the freeways, I'm not alone. Maybe it's time to remove the catalytic converter. Ha.

But it's a different kind of cold, since there's little to no humidity. It's dry, raw. And as the sun crosses the sky, it actually warms up a bit. But it does get cold as soon as it disappears behind the mountains.
About the only thing I miss is the gas fireplace, but that's one of the 'must-have's' for the new place, so I guess i can wait.
And being that it's December 20, tomorrow is the shortest day of the year. For the 'glass full' people, it means that everything starts warming up. Solstice.

We spent Thanksgiving at Disneyland, finding out it's the second-busiest day of the year for them, Christmas being the busiest. So that's out for Christmas. Maybe just a day at the beach, soaking the sun. Seems right.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Stupid banks

So I signed up with a new credit union here; start the direct deposits.
At DCU, my old bank, I call to cancel my card, and the account.
I'm told (by non-english) that I need to put it in writing.
Ok, I say, but i want you to disable my account now. I can't, she says,
unless your card is lost or stolen.
Um, I say, ok, I lost it. She cancels it. The card. Not the account.
I buy some songs from iTunes...prior to changing my iTunes account. I quickly change, adding my new card, deleting the old.
5 tunes. 4 get charged to my new card, one to the old. Don't ask me why, or how.
So 1.09 hits my DCU account, the one I tried to cancel, the one with no funds...and I get hit with a $25 charge. Insufficient funds.
I call, and get a guy who doesn't live in this country. I'm so frustrated at this point...I ask him where he is. He tells me he's in the "main branch"..Where's that, I ask...."Marlboro". I have him spell "Marlboro" for me...

Finally I request someone from my branch (Littleton). She explains to me that she'll refund the penalty charge, and for me to write a letter closing my account.
Now keep in mind that I have $5 in my savings...$5 needed to keep my account active, the same account I want to cancel.
So last week, I get a letter from DCU. Telling me that I have a negative balance in my checking ($1.09), and, if I don't respond by Nov. 15, they'll cancel my account, using the $5 in my savings to cover the checking.
So I'm off the hook..
Now today, I get a call from DCU...informing me I had a negative balance in my checking..I told her to use the $5 in my savings to cover. She says that the $5 is needed to keep my account open. I tell her I want to cancel my account. She says no, I have to do that in writing. I said "what if I do nothing"?
Well, she says, we'll close your account and use the $5 to cover.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Motherless children have a hard time
When their mother is gone.
Motherless children have a hard time
When their mother is gone.

Motherless children have such a hard time.
There's all that weepin' and all that cryin'.
Motherless children, they have such a hard time

When their mother is gone.

Father will do the best he can
When the mother is gone.
Father will do the best he can
When the mother is gone.
Father will do the best he can,
But there's so many things he just don't understand.
Motherless children, they have such a hard time
When their mother is gone.

People say a sister will do
When your mother is gone.
People say a sister will do
When your mother is gone.
People say a sister will do,
But she'll get married and turn her back on you.
Motherless children, they have such a hard time
When their mother is gone.

You may find comfort in your husband or your wife
When your mother is gone.
You may find comfort in your husband or your wife
When your mother is gone.
You may find comfort in your husband or your wife,
But you'll be your mother's child
for the rest of your life.
And nobody treats you like your mother did
When your mother is gone.
-Blind Willie Johnson
Cloutier, Ruth P. (Dexter)

Acton Funeral Home

age 69, a resident of Boxborough since 1975, died Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at the Emerson Hospital in Concord. She was the widow of Gerald J. Cloutier, who died in 1976. Mrs. Cloutier was the daughter of Nellie (Baron) Dexter of West Warwick, Rhode Island and the late Ralph P. Dexter.

Mrs. Cloutier was raised in Warwick, and was a graduate of the Warwick schools. She earned her nursing degree from the Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Hanover, New Hampshire. She married Gerald J. Cloutier in 1958, settling in Billerica where they lived for many years before moving to Southern California and Boxborough, MA. Mrs. Cloutier's favorite place was the beach, and she especially loved her recent vacation at Old Orchard Beach in Maine. She also enjoyed knitting baby sweaters and Christmas stockings for family and friends.

In addition to her mother, Mrs. Cloutier is survived by her four children: Stefanie Cloutier of Concord, Michael Cloutier of San Diego, Keri Prasky of Groton, and Jeffrey Cloutier of Lyman, Maine; a brother Arthur Dexter of West Warwick; 7 grandchildren, and two nephews.

All are invited to visiting hours on Sunday, September 24th from 3:00-5:00pm at the Acton Funeral Home, 470 Mass Ave. (Rte 111) Acton. Funeral services will be held on Monday, September 25th at 1:30pm in St. Anne's Episcopal Church, 14 Treble Cove Road, North Billerica, with burial following in North Burial Ground, North Billerica.

Those who wish may make memorial contributions to the American Cancer Society, 30 Speen Street, Framingham, MA. 01701.

For directions to St. Anne's Church, please follow this link:

Monday, September 04, 2006

Things left behind

About 13 years ago, I built this plastic model of a T-Rex. Being an amateur Paleontologist, I painted it to scientific specifications, too. I think it came out pretty damn good, if I do say so my damn self.

So come packing time, I decided that it was time for it to go. I chucked it in a trash bucket, and took it down to the Boxboro dump, along with everything else.

About 3 weeks later, I went back to dump some more stuff, and found it propped up like this, for all to see.

3000 miles away, I have public art (albeit in a dump).

Monday, July 24, 2006

Leaving Boston...

I've lived here long enough to relate to all of these:

If you're from Boston:

You think crosswalks are for wimps...

You think if someone is nice to you they either want something or they are from out of town and lost

You know how to cross four lanes of traffic in three seconds

You think it's not actually tailgating unless you're touching the bumper of the car in front of you

You know that a yellow light means that at least five more people can get through before the red when another two can make it

The public transportation system is known as the "T" and you'd rather drive in bumper to bumper traffic for 4 hours to get to Boston than be caught dead on the "orange line"...

You could own a small town in Iowa for the cost of your house

Subway is a fast food place

There are 24 Dunkin Donuts shops within 15 minutes of your house and that is how you give directions

You believe using your turn signals gives away your plan to the enemy

If you stay on the same road long enough it eventually has three different names

Someone has honked at you because you didn't peel out the second the light turned green

You have honked at someone because they didn't peel out the second the light turned green

Anyone going faster than you is a maniac. Anyone going slower than you is an idiot.

All the potholes just add to the excitement of driving

Stop signs mean slow down a little, but only if you want to

Six inches of snow is considered a dusting

Three days of 90 degree heat is definitely a "heat wave"

55 degrees is "on the warm side" -

You cringe everytime you hear some actor/actress imitate the "Boston Accent" on TV or in a movie; if you don't have it then you're never going to get it even if you were born here

At the ice cream shop you call chocolate sprinkles "jimmies"

You know how to pronounce towns like Worcester, Haverhill, Peabody, Scituate, Chatham, and Leominster!

You know what they sell at a "packie"

You've slammed on your brakes to deter a tailgater

You keep an ice scraper in your car all year round

Paranoia sets in when you can't see a Dunkin Donuts, ATM or CVS

You've pulled out of a side street and used your car to block oncoming traffic so you can make a left

You can navigate a rotary without a problem

You feel the rest of the world needs to drive more like you

You know what a frappe is

You never say "Cape Cod"...... you say "The Cape"

You can drive to the mountains and the ocean all in one day

You know the Mass Pike and 495 create some sort of strange weather dividing line

You almost feel disappointed when someone doesn't flip you off when you cut them off or steal their parking space

You actually get all these jokes

But, no, I don't have the accent.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

3 days of the Hondur(as)

¿quién es más macho?

San Pedro Sula, Honduras; 3 days, 2 nights. I got the call while in New York, asking if I wanted to go. Of course, I jumped at the chance. Flew out Wednesday, and back on late Friday evening. Well, technically Saturday morning. I flew into Miami, planning to meet a representative from the company, and our own sales manager for Latin America. But our guy had mixed up the dates, and the rep, who had been acting as my translator, left after one day. So for the rest of my v
I do say that their English was far better than my Spanish.

The purpose was to assist a chemical company at a customer of theirs, a textile plant. Being inside with the boilers was so hot that stepping out into the 95 degree weather actually cooled me off.

Security was tight, although I have no idea why; they make fabric. But I was told that most of the larger factories have this kind of security.

We worked the first day until 8 in the evening. The next day, a full one, almost 9 hours in the boiler room. A room only in the sense that it has walls and a ceiling, but it did have a side that was open to the air. We would get a cool breeze periodically, but mostly it was hot. África caliente.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Back to Manhatten...

So this time, I had to get up extra-early, and take the red eye Acela. Red eye, because it leaves before 8 AM. And I had little to no sleep the night before. It was one of those nights that I feel I'm forcing myself to go to sleep, which makes it worse, more stressful. And about every hour, I look at the clock, and count down the hours until the waves crash.

The morning went by quickly. The train was empty, of course, and I arrived in Penn at 11, took a cab to Times Square (had to give the cabbie an address, as he's never heard of the hotel), checked in, and took the subway to Queens (L.I. City). And after that, went on a walkabout to the upper West Side...
That's from 41st street, up to 82nd street. I wanted to take the Seinfeld self-tour, plus soak in the rays at the same time. The walk proved to be exhausting, so I hopped the subway for a portion of the trip back...well worth it.
And grabbed a cheesesteak sub for dinner.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thoughts while driving

I think it's because I slept through my alarm; 7 minutes into it, to be exact. Of course, in retrospect, "Soothing Ocean Waves" probably isn't the best mode to wake to. But it made me late, and cause me to fly down the highway, breakneck speed. Almost spilled my iced coffee.

But trying to make up for lost time really gave me a good look on other drivers habits, mistakes, and missues of the roads...

1. If you're cruising along, and see a cruiser, with lights flashing, on the side of the road with a speeder, don't slow down! Why? He's got his victim! He's writing his $300 ticket for the hour! It's like a python slowly digesting a wild pig: there's no way in hell he's hunting again for quite some time. On the contrary, this is the perfect opportunity to step it up a few mph, and make up even more time! It's a free pass!!

2. Enough with the Prius and other "Hybrid" cars in the fast lane going 60MPH. The milage difference is what, 10mpg? 15? Please. You lose any fuel savings in the cost of the car, and angry gestures from idiots like me. Global warming is overrated. It's the cycle of life: when the Earth gets too crowded with iceburgs, another dinosaur fossil squirts some oil, and warms another patch of land. It's time we retire these "Hybrids" back where they belong: in the parking lot of PTA meetings, where the owners can brag about how they, and they alone, are saving this planet that managed to survive for billions of years without Muffy's help.

3. Cell phones are way too much of a distraction for drivers. Which is why I rarely use mine when driving. It also takes too much time away from my fumbling with my iPod. If I go in a firey crash, I want background music, not a tinny voice asking "can you hear me now?"

Monday, April 24, 2006

Gas conservsation tips

Gas prices this morning topped off (no pun intended) at $2.949 a gallon. Well, topped off at that price at the station I usually stop in on the way to work. I stop there because they're one of 3 places that sell Diet Vanilla Pepsi.
Other places have been cheaper ($2.91) but I've seen more, especially close to the city. And they (the "they's" that always confirm urban myths) are predicting prices closer to $4 and up by the time things (re: Iran) shake out.

Ignore the usual musings of conservation, like ride-a-bike, and carpool. These are the way to save gas:

  • I've seen the guys racing in NASCAR do this (actually, someone who watches NASCAR told me. Honest). Follow really, really close the car in front of you. This is called drafting. Follow so close that your bumpers almost touch. This lessens the wind resistance on your car, resulting in better gas mileage.
  • Stop using the brake so much. Whenever you brake, you're robbing your car of precious momentum, and using your gas to stop. Instead of applying the brake, anticipate your stops ahead of time, and ease off the accelerator. Like 2 or 3 exits ahead. True, by the time you turn off you'll be going about 11 miles per hour, but think of the gas you'll be saving.
  • Use the cruise control more often, if not all of the time. And don't waiver from it, either. Sure, not all cars are going the same speed, and other drivers may try to cut you off, or slow down in front of you, but by keeping with cruise control, you'll not only save gas, but become a better, more efficient driver. You will become one with your steering wheel.
  • Ignore the "Drive-offs will be prosecuted" signs at gas stations. Especially the busy ones. Have you ever seen the people working there? They sweat just flipping a switch to turn on a pump, so I can't imagine one of them sliding off the stool and lurching out after you. And rationalize; paying for gas only keeps the terrorists in business.
  • Lighten the load in your car. This means no passengers. Detailed studies prove that carpooling actually wastes gas. Your gas, because of your hefty freeloaders.
  • Drive downhill whenever possible. I know, so obvious, it's simple. I wonder why this has never been thought of before?

And make sure to visit Alaska now; in a few short years, it'll resemble the Sahara Dessert. Or is that desert? Whatever.