Sunday, August 8, 2021

Shark Research

Above, is a large white shark that was tracked from Head of the Meadow beach, Truro, Massachusetts, summer of 2021. 

Whales, seals, Mola mola (ocean sunfish), dolphins, huge schools of fish; in 25 years of surfing, swimming and body boarding the "outer cape", (Atlantic, east facing) i've seen a lot of wild sea life, but I've never seen a great white, or any shark in the water, until the summer of 2014, when, while surfing at Coast Guard beach, in Eastham, on a warm August day, my friend Dan and I witnessed something straight outta Shark Week. 

The waves were small, we weren't very far out, the water was 6-8 feet deep. While we were sitting on our boards, we noticed the grey seals that were moving north, with the current, were none too happy about our being in the middle of their mid-day migration. The seals were grunting, groaning and were actually passing inside (closer to shore) of us, which is very strange, given we weren't very far out... We quickly theorized that there was probably a big great white patrolling, just offshore and the seals were aware and didn't want to pass to the outside of us (deeper water). Heeding the seals warning, we paddled about 50 feet closer to shore- to give the seals (and possibly shark) a wide berth. No sooner did we paddle into shallower water, we see a commotion, 50 yards to the north, same distance offshore as we had just been- A giant splash, followed immediately by a small seal breaching (jumping out) the water, and a huge, grey pectoral fin (arm), or possible tail, of what must have been a giant great white shark. The seal seemed to have evaded the strike, and I looked at my buddy, Dan, as we both said simultaneously: "you see that!?" As our eyes popped outta our heads. There was actually a young surfer not more than 6-10 feet away from the commotion, with his back to the action, and he was completely unaware of what just happened.

Every year would bring more great white sightings, one memorable photo, on the cover of the local paper was a guy getting chased on his kayak, by a big great white, at Nauset beach, early July, 2012.

2018 was different. As a surfer, most of my friends had either seen a shark in the water, or been called out because of a shark sighting. My friends and I had begun to alter our behavior to try to mitigate any shark encounters: we didn't get up and surf "dawn patrol" or surf into the darkness, as we had relished, in years past. We also started avoiding Nauset public beach, in Orleans, during the summer, because Nauset had by far the most sightings. After our experience at Coast Guard beach, a few years prior, we were kind of avoiding that beach, too. In fact, we were surfing more on the South Coast and South Shore; consciously, or sub-consciously, as a result. 

I rented a beach cottage in Wellfleet, over Labor Day week, the unofficial last week of summer, in 2018, as i had in prior years; i brought the boards, plans for bbq, beers and surf with friends was on tap. A very peaceful, relaxing and beautiful time of year on Cape Cod. Crowds are down, traffic is light, and the shadows are getting longer. The sun doesn't blind you at 6 am, like it does, coming over the Atlantic, in June and July. 

A week later, the Cape, and New England had the first person killed by a shark since ~1938, Arthur Medici.

--RIP Arthur Medici--


Friday, January 26, 2018

What's in a race?

  1. 1
    a competition between runners, horses, vehicles, boats, etc., to see which is the fastest in covering a set course.

  1. each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics.

    "people of all races, colors, and creeds"

With what has been the craziest year in politics, since Trump came to power, January 20, 2017. For better - for worse, this guy shook up the country like a 2-liter of Diet Coke...  And dropped a Mentos in it.

What Trump HAS done, that i like, is really expose the underbellies of people for who they are and what they are, including himself. Given the polarization of policy and relations across the USA this past year, and really since the election started, citizens have become polar, but as i heard a historian say, the USA has only really been unified twice (maybe thrice) in it's 200+ year history- WWII and 9-11 . Of the myriad of problems that have plagued our country, race relations; an ever-present, scourge on society seems to shower the news, lately.

The Charlottesville rally that ended with chaos and a dead woman, sparked the fire, again, literally and figuratively, about race and racism, in a small, western Virginia college town, that ironically (or not), is home to President Thomas Jefferson, a conundrum in himself- declared- "All men are created equal", but was a noted slave holder, who himself fathered children with his own slave, Sally Hemmings, who herself was half sister to his wife Martha. Digest that.... 

While i've always thought racism was ridiculous: not liking someone because of the color or their skin, seems so 1800's and archaic to me. I thought everyone evolved from the cradle of humanity, 
Africa. Some people went closer to the poles and lost their skin tone and those who stayed closer to the equator, maintained their color. 

In today's day and age, DNA testing can show you where your ancestry came from, what i wanna know is, how white is white and how black is black? There's no need to call someone an African American, unless they were born in Africa or emigrated, just as there's no reason to call someone an Irish American, unless they came here. I think when government and society tries to ascertain your "race" when you fill out forms or registrations, undermines who we are as a country.

When I lived in New Orleans, ~2002, there was an albino kid in my neighborhood, his parents were black, so in effect he was a white, black kid. This took everything i knew, or thought i knew about race, and tossed it all out the window, i'd never met a 'Caucasian' albino, let alone an 'African American' one, for that matter.  Yellowman, a reggae icon and albino, was orphaned as a child in Jamaica (due to his parents rejection of him), and went on to be one of the most successful musicians from the island nation.

"Dont' judge a book by it's cover" is a simple and powerful metaphor to describe preconceived notions, race being one; which is echoed in Martin Luther King Jr.' famous speech, on August 28, 1963- 

     "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character"

Sunday, November 19, 2017

America the Beautiful... Infrastructure 🚃

In all of 241 years, the United States of America, has risen to become the richest country and greatest power, ever.  The equity and assets built since the industrial revolution and furthermore, since WW2, have shaped this country into a leader and innovator.

The USA, where any man or woman can persevere to become whatever they want- "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"; there are no caste systems, and everyone is guaranteed these "unalienable rights", as prescribed in the Declaration of Independence. With it's capitalist economy (and safety nets), independent states/republics and freedoms, it's no wonder that  millions (billions?) of people from all over the world want to live here.

That being said... The United States aren't without their problems and perils. The financial position of the USA is eroding, in part, due to developing nations increasing their wealth and adding to the global economy.  Although the wealth of the USA is growing, in terms of GDP- gross domestic product, it's at a slower rate than developing nations. Coupled with slower growth are increased liabilities or debt.

As far as money, debt and liabilities are concerned, you could point to countless inefficiencies and WASTE along the Federal, state and local governments, that contribute to our fiscal situation. Most of the time, when it comes to sorting out the problems, it all comes back to $$$.  Where are the tax dollars going? Well,  ~ 60% of the Federal budget goes to maintain social security, medicare/medicaid, safety net programs.  Spending is always on the lawmakers lips and government budgets seem to be a daily headline.  Whether it be funding for a new public high school, resurfacing for a major highway, military, social security, medicare, etc...  Soaring healthcare costs/spending and social security depletion are always talked about, but little is done.

If the USA is so rich, why are many services and systems sub standard when compared to other industrialized countries? 

Infrastructure: roads, bridges, railroads, utilities, airports and ports, are the veins and arteries (literally) are the transportation systems that keep our country alive.  Hundreds of millions of Americans depend on them everyday.  Maintaining these infrastructures relies on a a stream of funding from all different sources- taxes (federal, state, local) to tolls and ridership fees.

One key component of major metropolitan cities are their commuter rail or subway systems that ferry people in and out of economic centers. The largest of which, the New York City Subway system, fittingly, operates in the largest city in the USA.  Although the Subway is the largest in terms of size and ridership, the problems experienced by it are mirrored in other aging transit systems across the country- increased ridership, worsening service.

The impressive assessment of NYC Subway, by the NYTimes- How Politics and Bad Decisions Starved New York's Subways is a scathing report of waste and mismanagement.

Now, without going into all the details regarding the disrepair of the system, (one of the oldest and largest in the world), the first few paragraphs struck like a sword-
"Signal problems and car equipment failures occur twice as frequently as a decade ago, but hundreds of mechanic positions have been cut because there is not enough money to pay them — even though the average total compensation for subway managers has grown to nearly $300,000 a year."

"Daily ridership has nearly doubled in the past two decades to 5.7 million, but New York is the only major city in the world with fewer miles of track than it had during World War II. Efforts to add new lines have been hampered by generous agreements with labor unions and private contractors that have inflated construction costs to five times the international average."

Among all the news/noise Americans hear all day, everyday, about current events and the likes, the most subvert situation nobody has challenged effectively are the cost, salaries and compensation of public works projects, workers and their impact on the areas they serve.

Now how is it, that a manager for the MTA (metro transit authority) makes $300k???  the same amount,as a highly trained, licensed, and experienced shipping pilot (captain), who him/herself is unionized too....   Public works and "fare wage" rates have gone through the roof and it's about time somebody stepped up to the mic, assess the problems and hold those accountable. BRAVO New York Times #NYTIMES for a great piece on the nation's most critical transportation system, and it's fleecing by directors, unions, politicians, contractors, and the likes.

"All politics is local" - Tip O'Neill

Friday, September 22, 2017

Hurricane Alley

As of today, there have already been two Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes and 13 named (Atlantic) storms in total- the official hurricane season doesn't end until November 30th.

"The season is one of only six years to feature at least two Category 5 hurricanes" 

The bulk of the battery from these storms, has been felt by the Caribbean islands, mostly the Leeward Islands and the Bahamas.  Living and growing up in Hurricane Alley, the residents know how devastating these storms are, and what peril they bring.  I have spent much time in the Caribbean, and have a great affinity and kindred spirit for the islands, their people and the culture. My heart goes out to the people of these islands.

Although i've lived along the Atlantic seaboard and Gulf Coast the majority of my life, the most powerful hurricane i've had to endure was Hurricane Bob, in August 1991. Bob was only a Category 2-3 storm and wreaked havoc on North Carolina, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Long Island and Connecticut.

In the wake of Hurricane Bob and the ferocious Hurricane Andrew in 1992 (a Category 5 storm with 175mph winds), which blasted the Bahamas and Florida- Construction/building codes and standards were updated and upgraded across the maritime Atlantic states (and still are) to withstand the brutal impacts of these storms With Miami-Dade county, going so far as to writing their own.

In addition to the obvious destruction- loss of power and water, flooding and general chaos; one thing that blows me away, is how much the Caribbean islands still need proper education and training on wood frame and reinforced concrete construction.  Obviously, high-end construction is built to high standards, but that's because they have to protect their investments.

What i'm talking about, is the wealthy parent countries- like Britain, France, the Netherlands and USA, investing in infrastructure (buildings, roads and utilities), training and materials, to mitigate these disasters; in their overseas playgrounds, these small, autonomous, tourist dependent colonies.  Of these islands, the US territories (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands) have, by far, the best infrastructure ~ in the Caribbean, that I have witnessed.

'Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.'

Materials, as paltry as a $0.27 - Simpson Strong-Tie H2.5A Hurricane tie, 
can mean the difference between your roof blowing off, or staying on.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Politically speaking

After waking up and seeing the Bloomberg headline yesterday, "Deepening Feud Pushes U.S. and Mexico toward trade war" i took to facebook (pathetic), to rant and vent to my 'Friends'; as if they didn't have better things to read than some diatribe about economics and how NAFTA is important. Albeit in a profane rant:
Economics crash course: USA manufacturing is at all time high, skilled manufacturing is and has been understaffed for years. Automation kills jobs too, assholes. If people think that they can just sit back and think that this coked up Messiah is gonna change your lives, you're fucked. Mexico 🇲🇽 is our #3 trading partner, #2 China and #1 Canada

From January 2016, from

I did this, because some people are ignorant and need to wake the fuck up. I know that some people have it rough, but compared to 8-9-10 years ago, i'd say 80-95% of Americans are better off than they were after the Great Recession. But WTF, the government can't do everything for you, we live in a BIG country, one without border walls and one you are free to move around and live wherever you want.
I wrote on twitter (another social media shitstorm), that 30 years ago, kids had paper routes, now nobody reads papers, you don't see former paperboys sitting around, commiserating about getting their jobs back. You need to be able to adapt to the world instead of expecting the world to adapt to you.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

El Faro - The Lighthouse

The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) released the transcript from the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) of the SS EL Faro- a cargo ship which sunk at ~7:39 am, October 1, 2015, as it steamed into a rapidly developing Hurricane Joaquin. The ship was on its weekly trip to Puerto Rico, from Jacksonville, Florida.

                                                             El Faro in 2008. Peter Ferrary / Flickr

The transcript shows that Captain Michael Davidson repeatedly shot down his junior officer's suggestions and requests to change course, and that Davidson was mired in consternation throughout the trip.

Despite crew questions, El Faro captain steered toward hurricane, transcript shows - Miami Herald

The morning of the tragedy, the captain got back to the bridge, at just after 4 am (after being in his stateroom, since 8 pm the night before).  The ship's capabilities were being tested by Hurricane Joaquin, yet he still downplayed the storm.

Chief mate: "I turned off the off course alarm.  it was going off every five seconds. hearing' it ring- ring- ring- ring."

With the ship and storm on a collision course, cargo was getting compromised, the engineers were trying to balance the ship, maintain the power plant and pump out seawater from the holds of the old steamship. After losing propulsion, the ship was at the mercy of 50 foot waves and 140 mph winds.  The SS El Faro, was only 22 miles from the storm center when it sunk.

Once again, the Miami Herald and Florida Times-Union ( do a great job in covering the SS El Faro. The Miami Herald map, below, shows the relationship of the ship's path into Hurricane Joaquin.

Point of no return- Oct. 1 - 1:30 a.m.

As the map above shows, the ship turned towards the hurricane at 1:30 am, but third mate Reihm (3M) says to the helmsman, AB-3, hours before, at 9:19 pm:

21:19:40.3 well right now– we got nowhere to go. you would have to– but later on there's a gap in the chart– you can head south– you know.– it's a good idea to have a– really– ideally– what (you/we) should have is a other alternate– you should have a backup route...

This is the most important conversation of the whole transcript, in my opinion. The "you can head south" bit, is, where I think Reihm is suggesting using the Crooked Islands passage as the "backup route..."

Reihm contacted the captain, in his room, nearly two hrs later:


uhh well it's– the– the– the current forecast has it uhh– max winds um a hundred miles– an hour. at the center.– umm and if I'm lookin' at this right– um– and it's moving at– at two-three-zero at uh five knots. so I assume it stays on that same– moves that same direction for say the next five hours. and uh so it's advancing toward our trackline– and uhh– puts us real close to it. umm you know like– I could be more specific– I could um– plot that out. but it's gunna be like real close (and). and uh– don't know. uh– uh I can give ya a better number and call ya back. we're lookin' a meet it at say like four o'clock in the morning. (you know).

Reihm calls Davidson back a few minutes later after figuring out the tracks of the ship and hurricane:

23:13:38.3 so– at oh–four hundred we'll be twenty-two miles from the center. with uh max one hundred with gusts to one-twenty and strengthening so– the option that we do have– umm from what I can see– is at oh-two hundred we could head south. and that would open it up some– so I mean of course I'd want you to verify what I'm seeing. I do understand you expect us not get into the quadrant dead ahead and (expose) us. just so you know that– that's how that's how close we'll be.– you're welcome.

A few hours later, second mate, Danielle Randolph, 2M, now in charge of the bridge, called captain Davidson @ 1:20 am to discuss the escalating situation. Although the conversation is not whole, the Captain and second mate (2M) talk on ship's phone (ET) about the ship's course and Danielle says:

2M-ET 01:20:50.3 "– right now my uh– trackline I have zero-two hundred– alter course straight south and then (we'll) * go through all these * shallow areas. umm (and the next) course change (will/gunna) be (through the Bahamas) and then (just gunna) turn * * *."

I think what second mate Randolph is saying is- At 2 am, there is a course change to "straight south", which would send the ship through the Crooked Islands Passage, west of the Crooked islands (see nautical chart above); what 3rd mate Reihm suggested to Capt. Davidson, hours earlier on his watch... But, it seems, she doesn't like that route or is confused as to what course to take (it's unclear), Randolph mentions that the south route will put them over shallows and go through the Bahamas. In reality, the "shallows" she refers to is a commonly used, deep water pass (thousands of feet deep), that would not have added much, if any time to the run and would afforded some protection to the ship from the incoming hurricane.

2M-ET alright I'm gunna adjust course (that) @3M (had/planned) * * *. he wants to (run) * * *. * * *. * * * one-one-six. okay. thank you.

This short, 1.5 minute conversation between Capt. and 2M Randolph was a mind fuck.  I think Reihm kept his southerly track as a "backup route" on the chart plotter, in the hopes of the second mate and captain taking his advice; after he left watch at midnight. This miscommunication between the captain and his officers was the last order of disconnect, that ultimately sealed the crew's fate.

After the call ends, the helmsman (AB-2) and Randolph, discuss the route change. The second mate contradicts herself when asked if they are gonna switch to heading 116.

2M- he said to run it. hooold on to your ass @AB-2. [spoken very loud and dramatically and then the sound of laughter.]
AB-2- he wants to change course to one-one-six?
2M- nope. [sound of laughing.] oh no– that's– that's the original course. that umm– uhh @3M– planned out. that gets us in– into the storm at four o'clock in the morning.
AB-2- so– we're– gunna stay on this course?
2M- with the course change. yeah– the one that you see on the radar.
AB-2- uhh we (want to come to) one-one-six.
2M- yeah. eventually.

Then, a minute later, as if the conversation with the AB-2 didn't just happen, she says- "alright @AB-2- let's start easing it over to one-one-six- nice and slow" You can see on Miami Herald map, where on Oct. 1 - 1:30 a.m., the ship changes direction to the direction of the storm, instead of heading south to the left/west of the Crooked Islands.

Hats off to to third mate, Jeremie Riehm, the lowest ranked deck officer, and the AB's: the abled bodied seamen, the helmsmen- with decades of experience on the water and the wheel (although low on the totem pole) were the voice of reason on the bridge, during the voyage.

 RIP Sailors.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Apple vs. Adobe Flash

WTF is going on these days? it's 2016 and apple still won't accept Flash and Vice versa. Personally, I think flash sucks, and it's beat, but WTF?!
And since i'm on topic, WTF is up with all these tech companies not working together, to make more seamless communication?! Google, Apple, Microsoft, Adobe,and other belligerents; GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. "Blah, blah, we're competitors" is their narrative, well idiots, the consumers are gonna pick the ones that work the best.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Kaught looking.

A few weeks ago, a young, emotional, major league pitcher for the Miami Marlins perished, along with two friends. Although speed was most definitely a factor, the vehicle they were in wasn't an exotic European sports car or private jet, it was a 32 foot sport fishing boat.
Here is a great synopsis of that fateful night-

Monday, June 13, 2016

Weather and WIND

For years, the weather game has been getting more complex, with satellites and new weather models giving amazing pictures and data, predicting storms and helping people go about their lives. We can thank the US Government and it's employees for most of this information. Like many US Government agencies/assets, The National Weather Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provide invaluable weather and climate data with their DATA gathered from Satellites, Doppler Radar, Ocean weather buoys, and weather stations across the United States and the world.
What is most important to me and many others around the ocean and maritimes, is ACCURATE WIND SPEEDS and wind predictions. The information is out there, but many weather outlets (phone apps and websites) incorporate shoddy data from suspect sources (backyard weather stations), with the reliable, accurate info. All these inaccurate stations do is create noise, and distract from legitimate data.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Goldman Sachs needs to lay an egg

Although there's unrest in markets and turmoil around the world: markets, indices, and industries can move independently of one another and are starting to show it, hurray!!!: Global Markets Are Falling Out of Lockstep, and That's a Good Thing

Now contrast:
Gasoline Trades as if US Nearing Recession, Goldman Says.

I'm thinking, WTF? How can cheap oil be an indicator for a recession? When gas was $5/gallon, consumers were BEGGING FOR RELIEF. Now oil is cheap, and that's a problem?!?! I realize the health of the oil industry affects businesses down the pipeline 😏, and are affected by the ebb and flow (puns keep coming) of price fluctuations -- but are oil prices a reliable benchmark for the health of the economy?
I Google the historical oil prices for the peak(real $$$ not adjusted for inflation). Turns out the highest ever price for oil was right before the Great Recession of 2008; Goldman Sachs played a big part in the 2008 recession.
Oil peaked at $145 in July, 2008 and by December, after Lehmann Bros and AIG bit the dust, oil was down to $30/barrel, roughly what a barrel is trading at now.
Is Goldman trying to insinuate that a recession is looming because oil prices are trading low? It seems completely logical, except for the fact that the global economic landscape (now) doesn't look anything like the 2008 financial meltdown.--

What Goldman economists are missing is: steady or lower \/ consumption and increase /\ supply aren't bad for everyone.
--If you told your doctor, my caloric intake is down and my energy level is up, they would be ecstatic. --

US auto sales set a record in 2015, coupled with a increase in travel, American's have logged a record number of miles driven in the past year, and US consumption of oil is down, due to increased efficiency and fuel economy. Coupled with strong consumer confidence, and unemployment is below 5%, and wages have begun to climb as well.

The USA will weather the early 2016 storm, and continue to help other economies through free trade and partnerships.
I'll adjust you for inflation.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

In the Heart of the Sea

With the upcoming movie release of In the heart of the Sea, the harrowing (true) tale of the whaling ship Essex; which, in 1820, left Nantucket and was struck and sunk by a great white (Sperm) whale- the inspiration for Herman Melville's, Moby Dick; In the Heart of the Sea, is a Ron Howard directed film based on the book of the same name. 

World of hurt

Answers are the solution. Not questions 

Without consciously going into a world political diatribe. I don't think the USA wants to be global policeman, but if nobody steps up, you'll end up with another Syria crisis, Ukraine or South China Sea debacle.

It Makes me think of the Steel Pulse album, Earth Crisis, released in 1984.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tell Stories

This picture was taken shortly before I threw (said) phone into Boston harbor. While reaching into my pocket to get a picture of an incoming jet plane, I got a little excited and tossed the iPhone right into the water. But... Having lost another phone to the Atlantic Ocean, a few years ago, and witnessing it's zig-zagging descent into the abyss, I quickly reached into the water, (Zen Buddhist style) and SAVED THE PHONE from ultimate peril. It still works to this day, albeit, with a lil wavy screen scenario :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

New iTunes sucks

Back in the day... Apple was the go to music player, they were the easiest to import, export and generally user ease. Now they've ruined it. With the launch of the new iOS 8.4 of the iPhone, came another redesign . This redesign, is/was the worst update they've released. In addition to this new iMusic feature, which is mediocre at best (similar to Pandora or Soundcloud), there's this @Connect function which is a streaming (pay to use) music service. All this streaming bullshit, clogs up the formerly simple and streamlined menu bar.

 If I can even find specific music, which is virtually impossible now driving, playing the music is just as daunting, because the play button is shrunk to the size of a pen tip. I've yet to figure out why the designers didn't do their customers a 💩 and removed the SHUFFLE button... Given, it didn't work great to begin with, (usually repeating the same 10 songs) the shuffle button was easy to use and provided some variation Now I can barely find my music, and when i find it, I can't play it. Forget using in the car while driving.

Playlists?  Gimme a break; shuffle, the most important function in a music player was removed..

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Latest marketing trend: Not pissing off your public.

With all the distractions and different forms of media and advertising these days, the hardest part in promotion (in my opinion), is not: enticing would be consumers; it's trying not to flat out piss them off. People are inundated with so many advertising "impressions" throughout the day, that most people don't even notice 90% of them, and the 10% that sneak through the consumer's blinders, better not alienate them, causing more harm than good.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Future sound- Jurassic 5

Jurassic 5, one of the best hip hop groups, of all time. I remember getting their debut album: Jurassic 5 (EP), at UMass ~1998, and being blown away by their melody and lyrics; completely refreshing. This was released in 2006, and is still as dope as the day it was recorded. They hit a home run.

"Either your here to teach or your here to be taught, If you dont plan to get away then you plan to get caught, I was born to win, Thats why i run dont walk, South central MC, What the fuck you thought"

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Apples & Oranges

Exhibit A: Pennywise and Dollar Dumb
Alford Street Bridge, Boston, MA. Connecting Boston's Charlestown neighborhood to Everett. The new $56.1 million dollar bridge was constructed to replace an archaic span over the Mystic river. With little elevation change from the street level grade, this bridge is a lifeblood for hardworking commuters, not to mention, the ONLY street level crossing connecting Boston to Everett/Chelsea/E. Boston.

The $56.1 million dollar drawbridge to nowhere... With little else upstream besides 2 small yacht clubs and a state boat ramp, the Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation (DOT) decides to replace the bridge and repair/replace aging drawbridge. Why would you rebuild a drawbridge and constrain travel for FIVE years (Yelp), when there is a (low height) fixed train bridge right upstream? I thought. Just build a 12 foot MHT (mean high tide) bridge like are built all up and down the Eastern Seaboard, for boat traffic. Then I look at google maps and I reveal the Pandora's box.
Not only is there a CSX train bridge just upstream of the Alford Street bridge, there is also a dam, the Amelia Earhart dam and another train bridge, operated by Mass Bay Transit Authority (MBTA). The Amelia Earhart Dam has THREE locks, the largest being 325 feet, long and 45 feet wide!?!? WTF, are they passing barges up the Mystic River?

Exhibit B: Form, function and fiscally responsible.
Penobscot Narrows Bridge carries traffic over the Penobscot River, Maine. In addition to being 1000% larger and more complex (than Exhibit A) it was finished in three years, from ground breaking to public traffic. Build in haste, but not compromising quality, or the community, the new bridge was fitted with a three story 420'(ft) observation deck, fitted in one of the two obelisk shaped (think Washington Monument) towers.
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge, the only bridge in the USA to have an observation tower, it's also the tallest (bridge) observation deck in the world. This is truly a marvel of engineering, design and expediency. Guess how much such a magnificent bridge cost? $100-$200 million? Nope, a mere $85 million, for one of Popular Science' 100 best innovations of the year 2006.

It seems a bit lopsided to think that Massachusetts spend $56.1 million dollars on a street level drawbridge to nowhere, while Maine built a world class bridge: twice the distance, over a deep ravine, (above 135' at MHT) and integrated observation tower, for only $85 million?!?! Crazy

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Please stop the new Osphena® commercials

I just saw a new commercial for Osphena®, a new drug for women after menopause, who suffer from "painful sex". The narration of the potential side effects and Dr.'s warnings is HORRIFYING! Just thinking of the graphic commentary is making me cringe while writing this. I thought all the erectile disfunction, "ED" commercials were(are) a bit excessive and over the top, but those spots are timid in comparison.

If they can advertise this intimate, and inappropriate content, than why can't they show a guy (imitating) pooping a football out during a Super Bowl touchdown celebration?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wu-Tang - The M.G.M.

Raekwon's birthday today.   Ghostface Killah and Raekwon trade verses.  Wu-Tang classic.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Fuel oil is the next whale oil

With volatile crude oil prices, oil burners are bound to go the way of the Dodo.

Home heating oil, once a Northeast U.S. and Eastern Canadian mainstay for powering boilers, furnaces and hot water heaters is now becoming a thing of the past. Most people from this area (over 30) can remember a house they've lived in, with a giant oil tank stinking up the basement; the oil truck coming every month or two in the winter; the oil man trudging through the snow to keep your house warm. It seems the cards have been stacked against oil burners for the past 15 years and natural gas is rapidly taking it's place.

Home heating oil (HHI) is known in North America as No. 2 Heating oil: similar but different from diesel and kerosene. Although far from extinct, homes and commercial buildings once fired by fuel oil are rapidly being converted to high efficiency natural gas systems. With oil and gas reserves being discovered and exploited from New York to Montana, the oil reserves are PRIORITY ONE, because oil is more profitable. As a result, natural gas has to play second fiddle and in North Dakota, 2011: 30% of all natural gas produced was burned off as waste.

But, just like the whales, killed for their oil rich blubber, hunting petroleum oil will soon be a part of history, supplanted by modern energy: cleaner, renewable and sustainable sources (solar, geological, wind, etc). But the petroleum whale won't die easy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Massachusetts new Governor: left handed

Charlie Baker, Mass' newest Governor (elect) is left handed; surprise. I like this guy, he spoke pretty candid and ran a good race. His democratic rival Martha Coakley has never really impressed me. Charlie Baker was the head of not for profit, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and supposedly turned that (billion dollar) institution around. Showing his bipartisanship, his first cabinet pick was a democrat from Chelsea, for the head of Housing and Economic Development.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Arthur T. Demoulas: Working class hero

One of New England's biggest headlines of the summer, was the ousting of Market Basket CEO Arthur T. Demoulas (Arthur T, or ATD as he's affectionately called by employees) and two other top executives by the Market Basket board of directors, who are also his family. This in itself isn't really news, as execs get axed all the time and it's just business as usual.
What happened next is where the story spikes. The employees of Market Basket, (all non Union) in a move to show solidarity for their beloved chief, Arthur T., orchestrated a grassroots workforce strike the next day; with the brutal effectiveness of a megaton bomb. The workers ultimatum: they wouldn't return to work until ATD was reinstated as chief. Yesterday, August 28, 2014, (two months later) after intense news coverage, social media bombardment and two governor's pleas, the saga came to a peaceful and amicable ending. Arthur T. and his constituents finalizing a $1.5 billion buyout, resulting in ATD having a >50% share in Market Basket, and thus, control.

"Some industry analysts put the loss from the job action at more than $10 million a day."- Bloomberg News- Market Basket Revolt Ends as Arthur T. Demoulas Wins Bid

The genesis of the argument & what was at stake, was a difference in opinion on how profits should be distributed at Market Basket: a privately held, 71 store grocery chain, with $4 billion sales/year. Arthur T. believed that the wealth should be distributed back to the employees in the form of profit sharing, whereas the Chairman, Arthur S. Demoulas and supporters felt the money was better spent giving back to the shareholders- Demoulas family members.
This is one of the greatest case studies i've been fortunate to experience and learn from, first hand. I think this summertime Market Basket fiasco represents a historical precedence in labor relations, wealth distribution and bottom line economics. As Arthur T. Demoulas, in a heartfelt victory speech to employees said yesterday-
"As I stand before you, I am in awe of what you have accomplished, and the sterling example you have all set, for so many people across the region, and across the country."
Watch the highlights here, for one of the most honest speeches i've heard in my lifetime.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tribute to my European wedding holiday,

Summer solstice 2014 Home is where you lay your head.

Sanchez - Longing To Come Home

European Union holiday

After nearly two weeks in Europe, I feel truly blessed. Flying first to Cyprus, to celebrate the marriage of two best friends.  We were treated to a great tour of the island nation, from a local's perspective.
A&A, took us through the island and visited his family home and the Capitol city Nicosia, then off to the east side of the island to Proteras and the Grecian Park Hotel. It was beautiful and the beaches and cliffs were idyllic and hearkened me back to my greek mythology memories from childhood. From there we were off to Pissouri, with a sleepy fishing bay/resort, and a historic mountain village with central square , beautiful coastline surrounded by on the south coast

After a week in Cyprus, I traveled north to Stockholm, Sweden, to visit the bustling Nordic capitol and see the European Union from it's furthest reaches.
This trip coincided with the summer solstice June 21, 2014- which is my favorite time of the year- The longest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere, with days at their longest and warm, clear nights, glistening with starry skies.
It was a relaxing and comfortable vacation with some of my best friends, while making new ones along the way (below pic is my buddy Ahmed from the Hötorget (Haymarket) down the street from my hotel. Ahmed hooked me up with some trinkets.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Double Bomb Nor'easter- 03/26/2014

img credit
In a winter ripe with Atlantic storms, Nor'easter's and blizzards, the latest rendition was historic. A wind gust of 129 mph was measured on Wednesday at the Bay of Fundy

img credit NASA
Storm systems are generally measured in two ways; wind speed and barometric pressure. Barometric pressure is commonly measured in millibars(mbar): with sea level being 1013.25 mbar and 1 bar= 14.5 psi. Numbers above 1013 mbar are considered High Pressure, whereas below 1013 mbar are termed Low Pressure. The lower the pressure= the stronger the storm. If 0 millibars= perfect vacuum, think BLACK HOLE. The most historic (of recent times) Nor'easter is definitely, the Halloween "1991 Perfect Storm", for which a Hollywood film was made, depicting the final voyage of Andrea Gail; a fishing boat lost in the storm. The Perfect Storm had a registered pressure of 972 mbar, Wednesday's 'Double Bomb Nor'easter' was registered at 955 mbar.
I went to during the height of the storm, to see if any ships were bearing the storm. As I scanned the map for any ships close to the Double Bomb storm center, I see only ONE single vessel in the entire North Atlantic maritime region. I figured it was probably a 1000 ft container ship, plowing the (~75ft) seas on a transatlantic voyage, nope.
As I zoomed into the map, I notice the 'ship' is close to this small landmass out in middle of the ocean, east of Nova Scotia, called Sable Island. I click on the small vessel icon to see the track.
Now, it all makes sense:
The 81 meter/261ft Panuke (below pic); a heavy duty, North Atlantic supply vessel, was taking refuge in the protection of the crescent shaped, Sable Island. a small blip of a sandbar, nearby its destination, the Thebaud natural gas platform. Mind you, the above screen capture was taken yesterday, 24 hrs later, and the Panuke, remains there today, jogging in little circles, two days later.

As I talked with a friend who works in the maritime industry last night, I told him about the offshore supply 'boat', jogging behind this tiny island 150 km east of Nova Scotia (in the heart of the stormand asked if he'd ever heard of Sable Island, to which he responded, "That's the Island the Andrea Gail was trying to get to during The Perfect Storm"....