Monday, January 31, 2022


All week long, the news was consumed with speculation about the upcoming storm. It could blow out to sea. It could be historic. It could be meh.

By mid-week, it looked like blow out to sea was off the table, but they still weren't certain about historic vs. meh.

But just in case...

Don't forget the bread! Don't forget the milk!

I had plenty of everything, but for whatever reason I began craving chicken parmesan, something I seldom eat and never make. But I really craved it. Sure, I could have just gone to the sub shop on Charles Street and gotten a chicken parm sub. But I decided that it would be a good thing to make on a snow day. So on Thursday, I did a little grocery run to pick what I needed - parsley and mozzarella - to make my chicken parm dream come true. The store wasn't particularly busy, but when I put on the evening news, they were leading with scenes from local grocery stores where people were loading up.

I swear that even people who weren't alive in 1978 go pre-blizzard shopping as if the stores were going to be closed for days after the storm. Which they were during and after the Blizzard of 1978. You were stuck with what you had on hand. And when the stores first opened up, they were rationing the bread and milk. (At the banks - this was pre-ATM - they were limiting your withdrawal to $50.) Maybe genetic memory really is a thing. The people around here certainly go completely crazy when there's a storm coming.

I always like observing what's in people's carts. 

Hey, old empty nester couple my age: do you really think you're going to need two gallons of milk. 

And soda seems like a biggy, too. There was one guy they showed on the news whose cart was crammed with Pepsi, and perched on top: a six-pack of root beer and a mega frozen turkey. Okay.

The other theme on the news is always the run on the hardware stores for shovels and snowblowers. Now, you may not have a snowblower. And I suppose that last year's shovel may have broken. And you could of course be new in town. But who that's lived in New England for a year doesn't already have a shovel? So why are there so many people in the "gotta get a shovel" category? Sheesh. I live in a condo building, and I even have my own personal ice chopper. 

Anyway, while people are complaining of grocery shortages country-wide - and there have been NO empty shelves around here as far as I can tell, and I'm in and out of Roche Brothers, and make irregular stops at Whole Food, Trader Joe's, and Star Market, and I haven't seen any barren shelves since the early stages of the pandemic - there really are hardware stores that, by the end of last week, were out of shovels, snowblowers, and ice melt. (Ice melt I fully understand. My building went through about 50 pounds during an earlier January storm, and we've easily gone through that much this time around. Fortunately, we have enough to get us through this storm and its aftermath.)

By Friday, the forecast was definitely leaning in the direction of lot o' snow. And by Friday, I decided that I not only craved chicken parm, I craved eggplant parm. So I made a quick stop at the grocery store for an eggplant. There were major lines, but not at self checkout. Phew!

When I woke up on Saturday, it was snowing lightly and there wasn't that much of an accumulation. But I put on the local news, which was 100% dedicated to THE STORM, and started watching weather porn.

The scenes could have been filmed years ago and just taken out and re-run for the latest storm. But news is news, and it'd better not be fake! Here's what's happening in Sandwich on the Cape! Here we are watching ice-covered waterfront homes in Scituate! Here we are finding out whether at least one house on Plum Island will float out to sea! (For all the watching I did, I still don't know what happened to the house in Truro that was propped up at the edge of the sandpile it was built on. Did it make it through? The owner, we were told, was planning on moving it after the storm. Might have been more prudent to move it before the storm.)

All day long, as the storm picked up energy, the big question was would we break the one-day snow accumulation record. Which I think we did in Boston, as we ended up with 24.5" of snow. I'm just not sure what record we broke. Record for January 29th? Record for January? Record for winter?

Whatever it was, it was A LOT.

When I wasn't riveted to the screen, I'd look out at the storm, and it was quite beautiful. A couple of times, I walked out to the front door and looked over at the Public Garden. I missed my opportunity to be on TV. At one point, when I was weather watching, I saw that the Channel 4 weather van/truck/monster vehicle was making its way down my street. Sure enough, they went right by my front door, and I could have been out there waving. But I wasn't.

And other than those brief looks out the front door, I didn't go out at all. As I could see on the news, there were a lot of folks - with lots of kids and dogs - cavorting around on the Boston Common. I suppose I could have joined them, but the wind was whipping, the temperature plummeting, and snow coming down at a clip of more than 2" an hour. So I stayed in and watched out. Got two loads of laundry done. Did a bit of reading. Took a nap-een. Texted with friends elsewhere who wanted to know how things were going. 

Being snowbound is fun!

After dark, I made my chicken/eggplant parm. Quite messy but yummy. And something of a PITA to make both for the same dish. Next time of craving, it'll be either-or. I had leftovers for dinner last night, and will do it again tonight. The rest is going to be bagged up and put in the freezer, where I'll be pleased to find it at some point. 

Sunday was cold but lovely. 

I got most of my steps inside. (There's an empty unit upstairs, and the door's open. It's a floorthrough, so excellent for pacing. I've told the folks who live downstairs from it to let me know if my pacing is annoying, but so far they're fine.) But by mid-afternoon I wanted out.

Plenty cold, with a plenty brisk wind, but sunny, blue skies, and quite a nice mid-winter's day.

And how gloriously beautiful that snow is when it's pristine! In a few days, it'll be shrunken down, grey with street dirt and slush, full of yellow doggy pee stains. But for now. Just gorgeous. 

I walked around the Public Garden, and a bit along Charles Street, but no matter how well-shoveled, those bricks on Charles Street are slippery. I have no desire to break a hip, so I headed back in. I was happy to get out and un-snowbound. (Between pacing indoors and gingerly walking outdoors, I was able to get 6 miles worth of steps in.) 

The picture is a shot of where I live - I'm in that taller building - taken from the Public Garden.

Lucky girl, me!

Fun while it lasted, but I hope this is the last of the mega storms for a while. Snowbound, even for a day, should be a once-a-year kinda sorta thing. 

Friday, January 28, 2022

Huzzah for Commander Farrell!

When you live in a place that's chocked-full of history, you don't tend to notice all that history surrounding you. At least not it you're me.

Every few days, I walk by the monument that memorializes Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment, which was made up of African-Americans, and their Civil War heroism. (Their deeds were the basis for the movie Glory.) Do I ever really notice it? Not really. At least not often.

Every few weeks, I walk by Paul Revere's House and the Old North Church of one-if-by-land-two-if-by-sea fame. Do I ever really notice them? Not really. At least not often.

Every few months, I walk along the waterfront overlooking Charlestown Navy Yard, where the U.S.S. Constitutions is anchored. Old Ironsides, a warship, was commissioned in 1797, and took part in the War of 1812 and the Barbary Wars, and is the oldest still-operating ship (although not as a warship) in the U.S. Navy. Do I ever really notice it? Not really. At least not often.

And every year, on the Fouorth of July, there's a turnaround, when the Constitution makes its way - nudged by tugs - into Boston Harbor. Every year, I plan on walking down to the waterfront to catch a bit of the journey. Do I ever? Well, no.

But I did notice an article in the Boston Globe the other day on the new commander. Billie Farrell is the first woman to command the ship. 

She's an Annapolis grad who just prior had been the Executive Officer of a guided missile cruiser.  The USS Vicksburg isn't a brand-new ship. It's been around for 30 years. But I suspect it's a tech marvel when compared to the Constitution, which is mostly a living museum - and, if you're in Boston, well worth the tour. In keeping with the living museum theme, the sailors all sport ye olde garb, with the snappiest of garb reserved for the Commander.

Although they do get to fire the two working cannons off each day - gunpowder only, not cannonball - for those stationed on the Constitution, it's not all cosplay. They also attend the funerals for Navy veterans in the area. And, in addition to learning how to keep an over 200 year old ship ship-shape, they have to keep up with current Navy whatevers. (By the way, over the course of its long lifetime, about 90% of the original materials of the Constitution have been replaced. But somehow, it's not a fake replica in the way that the Mayflower in Plymouth, Mass. is not.)

I don't know whether you get plucked from wherever to get this post, or whether you put in for it, but congratulations to Commander Farrell. And welcome to Boston! (She's married to a local - also a Naval Academy grad - and one of her dogs is named Fenway. So although she's from Kentucky, her kids are half-Massachusetts. So she's practically a native. But welcome, nonetheless.)

On one of my walks, I may not just not notice Old Ironsides. Maybe I'll actually cross the bridge into Charlestown and take a tour. Looking forward to getting piped aboard!

Thursday, January 27, 2022

And let's hear it for Mark Cuban!

You read the horror stories all the time, the most common are the ones about the diabetics who rationed their unaffordable insulin and died in the process. While this doesn't happen all that often, it does occur. And I've read that one out of four diabetics does resort to insulin-rationing which, if it doesn't kill you, does exacerbate the cascade of health problems that diabetics suffer from. And the high cost of insulin seems particularly galling, given that its discoverers "sold" the patent for $1 way back in the 1920's so that it could be widely used by those in need. 

While insulin is the one horror show medication that we hear the most about, with some cancer drugs being a close second, there are all kind of drug affordability trap doors that Americans fall through, even those who are well-insured. 

I'm fortunate in that the only prescription drug I take is a low-dose statin, which costs me about five bucks a month. But my brother who, like me is on Medicare with excellent supplemental insurance, falls into the "donut hole" of coverage and, one month a year, ends up paying $800 for one of his prescriptions. It's ghastly, but he can afford it. A lot of people can't absorb that type of hit.

Well, here comes Mark Cuban to the rescue.
Billionaire investor Mark Cuban launched an online pharmacy Thursday that offers more than 100 generic drugs at an affordable price with a goal of being “radically transparent” in its price negotiations with drug companies.

The Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs Company (MCCPDC) is a registered pharmaceutical wholesaler and purchases drugs directly from manufacturers,
bypassing middlemen to lower the price of more than 100 medications, it said in a statement.

For example, the leukemia drug imatinib is priced at $47 a month on MCCPDC compared to the $9,657 retail price.
The online pharmacy’s prices for generics factor in a 15% margin on top of actual manufacturer prices and a $3 pharmacist fee, the statement said.

The markup on generics average “at least” 100%, the MCCPDC said, while the Wall Street Journal reports in some cases it exceeds 1,000%. (Source: Forbes)

The company will also build its own manufacturing facility.  

Cuban - an entrepreneur who is one of the sharks on Shark Tank, and who also owns the Dallas Mavericks - got involved in response to a cold call (well, cold email) he got from Alex Oshmyansky (himself no slouch: among other things, he's a physician). Part of their motivation was the bad behavior of "Pharma Bro" Martin Shrkeli, who acquired a drug company and promptly jumped the price of the lifesaving drug they produced from $13.50 to $750 per pill. (Shrkeli is in prison for unrelated securities fraud.)

MCCPDC is mostly the brain child of Oshmyansky, but: 
[Cuban] said he decided to put his name on the company to “show capitalism can be compassionate and to send the message I am all in.” It’s not clear how much he had invested in the company.
Whatever he's all in for, Cuban's name on the door is clearly helping the new company gain attention and traction.

MCCPDC won't be all things to all patients - at least for now. Among other things, they offer generic replacements for some Type 2 diabetes pills, but nothing for insulin-dependent Type 1 diabetics who get their insulin via injection or pump. They also don't have a generic for the drug my brother is getting gouged for.

But it's a start.

We hear plenty about the not-so-great billionaires out there. Big buckers like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk and their space race. Etc. (I won't be including Trump here, as I'm guessing he's a not-so-billionaire.) Nice to see Mark Cuban getting involved in something that will help a lot of people.

It's a shame though, isn't it, that we can't find a way to make drugs as affordable as they are in other countries, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Make way for the cargo blimp.

I'm not sure what they were doing in Worcester, but every once in a while, during my childhood, a blimp would drift serenely through our skies, and we would stand in our back yard watching it drift serenely by. (In March 2014, I blogged about my fond blimpian memories.) 

Something there is about a blimp (or dirigible or zeppelin or airship - I recognize that there are technical distinctions, but for my purpose, a blimp is a blimp is a blimp) that just brings a smile to my face. (Unless, of course, it's the Hindenburg.)

So I was delighted to come across an article - even if it's nearly a year old (the news was apparently moving at a serene blimpian drift) - about a French company, Flying Whales, which intends to make airships to transport cargo to remote outposts: towns, logging operations... Cheaper and more environmentally friendly than wiping out forests to build roads. And the airships themselves are cheaper and more environmentally friendly to build and operate. They can also be used to bring goods to the site of natural disasters if the roads aren't acccessible. 
Flying Whales has said its vehicle would be the largest aircraft in the world — at 200 meters long and 50 meters high. The rigid balloon ships would be able to lift 60 tons.(Source: CBC)

60 tons may not sound like, well, a ton. But:

That's about three times the maximum carrying capacity of a Hercules plane, a cargo plane used by the Canadian military.

These planes are used by Canadian governments to fly goods into their remote locations, like the brilliantly named Yukon fly-in community of Old Crow.  

Because there are a number of out-of-the-way places with strange sounding names in Canada, at least one provincial government (Quebec) made an investment in Flying Whales. Among other elements, the deal required all Flying Whale airships that will be used in the Americas to be built in the Quebec.  At any rate, Quebec tried to get a deal going. 

Alas, the Canadian federal government overruled the Quebec deal, citing concerns about Chinese involvement. That matter has apparently been cleared out - the company bought out the Chinese investors - so it looks like things may be able to proceed. Eventually.

Flying Whales has yet to build a working prototype - things are still in the design phase - and the company doesn't anticipate that it would begin any production in Canada until 2025, with the goal of having some airships in use by 2026.

Canada is a patient country. 

They've been talking about deploying cargo airships for nearly a decade. And Quebec has been poking around the airship industry for nearly as long.
This isn’t the first time a company has tried to build airships in the province. In 2015, LTA Aerostructures, a Montreal-based company with American and Canadian backers, announced plans to build a $60 million production facility in Mirabel to build airships capable of transporting up to 70 million tonnes of cargo. However, the plant was never built and the company’s website is no longer active. (Source: Skies Magazine)

Other cargo airship initiatives have similarly failed to get off the ground. It's apparently easier to build a do-nothing dirigible like the Goodyear Blimp that's used for advertising over football games, than it is to develop  a get-to-work cargo airship.  

Yet I remain hopeful that at some point, there'll be a cargo blimp lugging things up to Old Crow in the Yukon. And we'll get the news from the North that it's delivering the goods.

Until then, I'll have to be content with an occasional local sighting. Which, guaranteed, will never cease to stir my heart and put a smile on my face.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Is the title Duke of Earl taken?

Okay, I lapped up The Crown. And Spencer

I confess to occasionally clicking through to read an always-disappointing story on Meghan and Harry, or Will and Kate. Sometimes even something about Charles and Camilla.

I think Queen Elizabeth is a trooper. 

And I did enjoy hobnobbing with the titled/entitled denizens - are they even royal or what? - of Downton Abbey

But mostly I'm not all that big on the royal family. 

I'm pretty sure that, if I lived in the UK, I'd be on the side of those interested in getting rid of The Royals. Oh, not in an off-with-their-heads, tumbrels to the guillotine kind of way. But just drastically paring down the outsized (and colossally costly, in more ways than one) role they play there. 

I wouldn't do this until QE2 passes. 

But once she's gone on to be with the Queen Mum, Prince Philip, Princess Margaret - and all those corgis - in the big Balmoral in the Sky - I'd be cutting their allowances and hang on only to the bits that can be directly tied to tourist revenue. And maybe seeing about clawing back at least some of the billions of dollars worth of property those wankers "own." 

Eventually, I believe the British monarchy will be eased off the throne it currently occupies. Surveys show the majority of Brits still narrowly support having the royals in charge of whatever they're in charge of. But the polling, when broken down by age cohorts, shows a trend that's not favorable to the royals. 

Unfortunately for the royal family, Prince Andrew has been in the news, which isn't helping out here any. For all Christmas cards they put out of Will, Kate and their cutie-pie kiddos, or of Kate celebrating her 40th, Prince Andrew's the one making most of the headline news. And even though his royal wings have been clipped - no more appearances at ribbon cuttings, no more patronages, no more HRH style, no more swaggering around with a chest full of military medals - he's the poster child for all that is useless and feckless about the royal family. All topped off with the odor of immorality, and a whiff of the illegal.

Still, Prince Andrew remains a Prince. And he's still the Duke of York.

But now, there's a bit of movement to let the locals weigh in on whether their place gets to be used as part of a royal title. And the first voice heard from is an MP who'd like a bit of a convo about Andrew's association with York:

Labour MP Rachael Maskell (York Central) called for a debate into how aristocratic titles which "take their name from a geographical location" are assigned, having previously said that Andrew's title as Duke of York is "untenable". (Source: Bloomberg)

Since the Tories are (somehow) still in charge, it's unclear whether this will be debated in Parliament. House of Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg - and how's that for a posh name? - has stated (or did he sniff?) that "territorial designations" are up to the sovreign. 

I'm with MP Maskell.

Sure, there are more important fish to fry, or eels to poach, or whatever the Brits might say, but who'd want their city associated with one of Jeffrey Epstein's BFFs? Who wants Andrew, this fatuous clown, as their Duke as things play out with respect to the sordid allegations being made against him? 

Gene Chandler, who wrote and sang the early sixties hit "Duke of Earl," is still alive and kicking at the age of 84. Maybe he'd be willing to lend Andrew his title. I mean, being the Duke of Earl is kind of like being the Prince of Duke, or the Earl of King. Pretty much as silly as the entire notion of royalty in this day and age is to begin with. Andrew would wear the title well. 

My guess is that the Queen's purse will snap open to make some big buck - mega-pound - settlement before the current legal matter facing Andrew gets to court. Before that purse snaps shut, maybe she can send a bit of cash Gene Chandler's way.

Just an idea...

Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl...

Monday, January 24, 2022

That's the world's smallest violin, I mean cello, playing for you, Claudio Ronco

I haven't tested it out quite yet - I'm pretty much hunkered down for the next few weeks, hoping that omicron peaks and things ease up to where they were last fall - but as of last week, you can no longer go into a restaurant in Boston without showing your vaccination card (or a QR code you can download to your phone based on your vax status). There are other venues covered by this new rule, as well. (Gyms, theaters, museums, pools...)

I know, I know, vaccinated people can catch (and spread) covid, but we're just not the Typhoid Marys that the unvaccinated are. 

Anyway, I'm all for this new initiative. Our hospitals are filling up with (mostly) non-vaccinated covid patients, who are crowding out those who are in need of procedures and surgeries that are not deemed to be immediately necessary. This includes some procedures for cancer, where a tumor, say, is growing at a slow enough rate that a patient can wait. Sure, it may not kill you to hold off a bit, but how'd you like to have cancer and have to postpone treatment because some clowns who have refused to be vaccinated are clogging things up.

Boston's vaccination rates  - first dose and fully-vaxxed - are quite a bit higher than the U.S. averages. But they're not high enough. 

I hope this latest will get more people off the dime.

Like most rational folks, I'm fed up with the aginners prolonging things. I don't think we'll ever be entirely rid of covid, but I'm looking forward to having a new normal that's more normal than new. If we have to wear masks on public transportation, or in the grocery store: FINE. In fact, I may well keep wearing a mask in crowded, public, indoor places. 

Why not? Beats catching covid, even if I do end up with a mild case.

There are more stringent rules in force in other places. 

Take Italy, where you pretty much need a Green Pass (attesting that you're vaccinated) to get around. (Like a number of countries, Italy has removed the "be vaccinated or show a recent negative test' option.)

And this has gotten in the way of getting around for cellst Claudio Ronco. He uesed to perform all over Europe: 
...but now he can’t even board a plane. He can’t check into a hotel, eat at restaurant or get a coffee at a bar. Most important, he can’t use the water taxis needed to get around Venice, his home for 30 years — a loss of mobility that recently prompted him to gather up two of his prized cellos, lock up his Venetian apartment and retreat with his wife to a home owned by his in-laws one hour away in the hills. (Source: Washington Post)
And he's feeling pretty darn sorry for himself.

Well, sorry/not sorry, but the mournful sound you hear is the world's smallest violin - make that the world's smallest cello - playing a sad little song for you, Claudio Ronco. 

Ronco's reasoning behind refusing to get vaccinated doesn't appear to be purely health concerns, or religious belief, or "I've done my own research," or crackpot conspiracy theories coming out of whatever the Italian version of Qanon is. 

Nah. Mostly, he's always had an oppositional personality, and this is just an extension of his lifelong passion to follow his inner Groucho Marx/Professor Wagstaff: Whatever it is, I'm against.

Claudio Ronco is plenty miffed. He believes that the crackdown on the unvaccinated is tearing society apart, creating two classes of people, and pitting them against each other. He stokes his rage by invoking "the Nazi-era Aryan passport document."

Talk about a metaphor that doesn't hold up to much scrutiny. (Somehow made even worse by the the fact that Ronco himself is Jewish.)

You want to take a water taxi in Venice? Get f-ing vaccinated, Claudio.

But, no. 
Ronco said he is committed to his resistance, and it has consumed enough of his identity that it’s almost impossible to imagine reversing course. He said that even if he got infected — the lone scenario that would allow an unvaccinated person to get a Green Pass — he wouldn’t use the pass.

“It can’t go on like this,” Ronco said...
Well, Claudio, here's the thing. It. Doesn't. Have. To.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Worse places to get stuck in a storm

A week ago last Tuesday, it was pretty nippy out. Single digits. The wind chill made it even brrrrrr-ier.

I went out once, for a two minute walk to my polling place to vote in a special election for state senator. My candidate was running unupposed, but I wanted her to have at least a vote or two. An election official there told me that they were estimating that the turnout would be about 1.4%. Which is what you might expect from a dead-of-winter special election with an unopposed candidate, and with voting held on the coldest day in a couple of years.

That was the coldest day in a couple of years until last Saturday.

Cold was coldier; wind chill was chillier. 

I didn't make it out of the house all day.

My big project, other than making sure the faucets were dripping, was finding my little ceramic space heater. Just in case. 

There aren't a lot of places in my small home to store anything, and fortunately I was able to find it in the last place I looked. Of course, when you find something in the last place you look, it is, of course, the last place you looked. But in this case, I had exhausted all the other smaller closet possibilities and found it in my one good-sized closet. Where, in truth, I knew it would be. I just didn't want to unbury it from the stockpiles of toilet paper and paper towels that surrounded it. 

Anyway, I never did end up using it. But at least I have it for the next time we have a snappy little cold snap and I'm stuck in the house.

There are worse places to be stuck during foul weather, whether that weather is a raging storm, which we are known to experience, or during bitter, nose-hair-freezing cold. It's warm (even without revving up the space heater. The larder is stocked. I have my books and an endless supply of "there's nothing on" available via cable. 

But when fantasizing about being stuck someplace due to weather, which I have been known to indulge in on occasion, it's, frankly, never my own home. It's someplace in the middle of nowhere. The top of Mt. Washington during a blizzard. Or in a lighthouse.

Like Fastnet Lighthouse, which lies 8 miles off the coast of County Cork, Ireland. 

And getting stuck there is what happened in December to four lighthouse workers. They were on Fastnet what they thought would be a couple of days doing maintenance to the lighthouse (unmanned since 1989). But they got caught there by Storm Barra, with its pummeling 100 m.p.h. winds, and ended up spending the week before a helicopter could get in to retrieve them.

Putting the bright side on things, one of the marooned men, engineer Paul Barron "said that it was a safe place to be as the country battened down the hatches to face the storm." Barron and his colleagues were well prepared. Sure, "the tower was 'shuddering a bit'", but the men had everything they needed for survival. 
He says the lighthouse has kitchen facilities and they always bring additional food in case of emergency.

“It could be a fine summer’s day and there could be thick fog and the chopper wouldn’t take off so we always bring extra food. We are passing the time by watching Netflix! This is a good place to be in the eye of a storm. This lighthouse has been built a hundred years so it has seen a lot of storms.” (Source, Irish Times)

I love the fact that modern survival requires entertainment. There's always something on Netflix. (What did they watch, I wonder. Derry Girls? Peaky Blinders?)

Anyway, Fastnet Lighthouse is definitely the stuff that stuck-in-a-storm fantasies are made of. (That said, I probably would have spent the entire time shuddering in my bed with a pillow over my head.)

When I read the name Fastnet, by the way, my first thought was, Ugh! It's not a trad place name, but the name of some Internet Service Provider. And my first thought was wrong-o!

Fastnet Rock, or simply Fastnet, (possibly from Old Norse Hvasstein-ey 'sharp-tooth isle' is also called Carraig Aonair, meaning "lonely rock" in Irish). It is a small clay-slate islet with quartz veins, and rises to about 30 metres (98 ft) above the low water mark and is separated from the much smaller Little Fastnet to the south by a 10-metre (33 ft) wide channel. Fastnet is known as "Ireland's Teardrop", because it was the last part of Ireland that 19th-century Irish emigrants saw as they sailed to North America. (Source: Wikipedia)

Maybe I'll figure it out someday, but I have no idea where my Irish grandparents sailed from when they came to Amerikay in the 1870's. If they left from Cork (Cove/Kingstown), which so many emigrants did, then a Netflix-free Fastnet Lighthouse may well have been their last sighting of home.

And with that history, I'll say it again. There are worse places to get stuck in a storm.  

Thursday, January 20, 2022

What a croc(k)

One day last week, I passed two young women (early-twenties) walking along Charles Street.

Although I am a bit old and a bit slow, I was able to pass them with ease because one of them was teetering along on a pair of flimsy stilettos, clutching on to her low-heeled boot-wearing companion as if for dear life.

Now anyone who has ever walked the sidewalks of Charles Street knows that they are a) brick; and b) full of grates. Not ideal for walking on heels.

Back in the day, when I was a bit younger and a bit faster, I occasionally wore heels - NOT stilettos, but not low chunky heels, either - walking along Charles. This resulted in heavy cobbler costs incurred whenever I caught a heel in the bricks and had to have the shoes recovered. (I was savvy enough to avoid the grates; you couldn't avoid hitting the bricks.) Eventually, I wised up and did what women folk did back in the day: I wore white sneakers and athletic socks - which looked especially fetching when paired with black or navy opaque stockings - and carried my heels to work with me. Eventually, I wised up even further and started wearing more comfortable shoes. (This coincided with the gradual introduction of business casual, which eventually did in the wearing o' the skirted menswear suit and high heels.)

The young women I passed on Charles were fashionistas. I didn't note what brand jackets they had on, but one was carrying a Gucci pocketbook, the other a shoulder bag from Dior. (They were tourists, which I could tell because a) no one in Boston dresses the way they were dressed; and b) they weren't speaking English.) I hope they made it back to their hotel before that one woman broke a heel. And I hope she had some sturdier, and warmer footwear, on hand (on foot?) for last weekend's bitter cold.

Perhaps she would have been better served, comfort-wise, if she'd been wearing a pair of Balenciaga high-heeled Crocs.

Crocs Madame - a play on the French sandwich, the Croque Madame (I prefer the Croque Monsieur, myself) - come in black, white, pink and - perfect for St. Patrick's Day - bright green. 

They're rubber and have a broader-than-a-stiletto-tip heel, so you're not as likely catch your heel in a grate.

And they only cost $625.

I have never owned a pair of Crocs, Madame or otherwise.

I don't garden, and I don't need to draw attention to my lllloooonnnnggg feet by encasing them in brightly colored rubber. (I don't mind an occasional pair of brightly colored sneakers, however.) And I don't wear heels, so so much for the Crocs Madame.

But if I were going to get me a pair of Crocs, they'd be the plain, old-fashioned ones. Not a pair of Balenciaga Crocs that cost $625.

(If you're wondering what the answer to the question 'who pays $625 for a pair of goofy looking novelty shoes?', the answer is 'NOT ME.')

I've never been a dedicated follower of fashion, but I do associate the name Balenciaga with haute couture, and as a kid likely heard the name associated with Jackie Kennedy. 

I guess Balenciaga couture is no long quite as haute as it was when Jackie was hiding her clothing bills from Jack. Although she'd probably have looked fabulous whatever she was wearing, I can't exactly picture Jackie in a pair of stiletto Crocs. Nothing timeless and elegant about those suckers.

This isn't Balenciaga's first appropriation of a lowish-rent yet iconic brand/look. A few years ago, they brought out a knock- off of the blue plastic IKEA tote bag. Only theirs cost over $2K. (Good to know that people were nuts in 2017...)

I do not anticipate seeing many/any of these Crocs Madames on the streets and sidewalks of Boston. Even though I don't spot them that often, other than on kids during the summer, the original Crocs seem like more of a Boston thing. But I'm sure that tourist girl has $625 to spend on a pair of Madames. And although they don't look all that comfortable, they'd probably hold up - and hold her up - better than the stilettos she was wearing.

Still, who spends $625 for an item like a pair of Crocs Madame???

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Please, sir, I want some more.

I don't know the full history of the building I live in.

The main part went up c. 1860, one of a grand block of elegant granite homes inhabited by Boston 19th century gentry. In 1919, the owners decided that the place wasn't large and grand enough, and they added a fifth floor and considerable square footage to the back of the building. My unit is in the back section, and I can attest to the fact that the owners went all-in on making the back of the place as grand as the front. My living room has beautiful woodwork, a majestic fireplace, and a plaster medallion ceiling. (The motif on the medallians is grapes, which matches the carvings at the crown of the majestic fireplace.)

I believe my building stayed a grand single-family home until the mid-20th century, when Beacon Hill got a bit tatty. I've heard that at one point the building was a rooming house. I'm trying to envision have many roomers may have roomed in my grand living room, which is quite large.

In the early 1980's, the building was converted to six condos, which were owned by a single man (who lived in the penthouse unit) and a family trust. The one man ran into some financial difficulties, and his units were repossessed by the Feds. We bought our unit at auction in 1991.

Did anyone famous ever live here? 

At one point, the trust fund daughter of a former governor lived above us, but that's about as famous as it gets in my recall.

The fictional Silas Lapham lived in Beacon Street in the 1800's, but I believe his fictional edifice burnt down. Which leaves this building out. Author William Dean Howells, who wrote The Rise of Silas Lapham, lived part of his non-fictional life on Beacon Street, but further out into Back Bay. 

Did anything interesting ever happen here? (Other than the grifters who "rented" an apartment in the building but never actually paid any rent. Instead, they spent all their time suing the management company and the owners of their unit, the condo association, and the owners of every other unit in the building, for some largely exaggerated unit and building defects. Fortunately for us, they agreed to arbitration, and the judge told them to take a hike. But not before causing us all sorts of aggravation (not to mention legal fees). I was especially aggrieved that they were suing me personally, given that - before we realized they were grifters - I had given them a baby present. Grrrrrr.)

Someday, maybe I'll get my Nancy Drew on and sleuth around to find the building's history to add to my 30+ years of lived experience. It may turn out to be one of the funner things to do when you live in an old building in a history-deep neighborhood. You never know what I might turn up. 

Building sleuths in England have long tried to do a reverse lookup, and figure out which workhouse was the model for the home-away of young Oliver Twist. Then, in 2010, historian and workhouse scholar Ruth Richardson cracked the code and discovered that it was the Strand Union Workhouse. 
Dr. Richardson’s discovery came just in time. The workhouse, still stunningly intact, was then an unused part of a hospital owned by a foundation connected to the National Health Service, which wanted it razed to make way for luxury apartments. It soon became clear that the structure on Cleveland Street, in a neighborhood called Fitzrovia, was that workhouse, especially when Dr. Richardson unearthed details about the place that were echoed in the novel. (Source: NY Times)
Among the deets Richardson found: the Strand expressly forbid second helpings, which was what poor hungry little Oliver Twist was after when he made the request for
another portion of gruel, a request that inspired a million memes: "Please, sir, I want some more." 

Anyway, because of Richardson's find, the Strand was granted historic preservation status. 

Which isn't so grand and glorious for Peter Burroughs. He's the director of development for the University College London Hospitals Charity. They're the outfit that owns the Strand, and the initial idea had been to tear it down and develop it. 

Now that is has preservation status, the Strand can't be torn down. So now the plan is to turn the property into 11 high-end apartments and two houses. 

Turning a workhouse into luxury living is quite something, for starters.

But wait, there's more.
The property includes land that in the 18th and 19th centuries served as a pauper’s graveyard. Last year, archaeologists started exhuming bodies, roughly 1,000 in all.

Exhuming all those bodies doesn't come cheap. The costs for the project has skyrocketed. It's now over $130M. (That covers the exhumations, plus the cost of a good sized apartment complex going up on the graveyard site, once they unearth and rebury those 1,000 souls, many who it's quite likely were denizens of the workhouse.)

This project looked like a good econonic bet back when it kicked off. But, alas:

... this is a lousy moment to be selling deluxe apartments in London. With the pandemic having accelerated the downturn in housing prices caused by Brexit, the only unknown is how much money the charity will ultimately lose.

When the workhouse units come on the market, later this year, the starting price for a one bedroom apartment will be $1.3M. 

That's a lot of gruel.  

I hope the University College London Hospitals Charity makes a lot of money to support their mission, but I'm probably not the only one who thinks it might have been more fitting to turn the workhouse into affordable housing. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

But, but, but it was Pokémon

The Los Angeles Police Department has a long-standing reputation for corruption and violence. You wouldn't knoww it if you're a fan of Bosch (the TV series based on the writing of Michael Connelly), but things may have toned down in recent years. Still, the LAPD certainly carries with it an inglorious history. Think the beating of Rodney King. Mark Fuhrman and the OJ trial. The Rampart Division corruption scandal.

But the latest LAPD scandal is something of a nothing-burger, and is actually pretty amusing. Unless you were the victim of the active mall robbery that officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell chose to ignore in April 2017.

They were too busy, it seems, trying to capture a Pokémon character they'd spotted in the vicinity.

Not exactly "One Adam 12, one Adam 12. See the man." behavior. In their defense, it was, afterall, Pokémon. And it was, after all, a craze.

I well remember the Pokémon Go craze. You could barely make it through the hordes in the Boston Public Garden roaming around with their smartphones, trying to capture the illusive characters who had virtually popped up in the area. There's been a bit of a pandemic resurgence, but it's nothing quite like it was back in the day. Which was back in the day when Lozano and Mitchell decided to take the mandate about all work and no play a bit too seriously.

They were fired. 

The two appealed, arguing that the video that was used in evidence was of a private convo and thus inadmissable. And that when they were questioned about the incident they hadn't yet lawyered up. But their appeal was just turned down. 

The officers had claimed that they hadn't heard the call about the mall robbery. 

However, an in-car recording of their conversation revealed that they had heard the call, spoke about it and decided not to respond, court records show. (Source: Huff Po)

Just the facts, ma'am. Just the facts.  

“Aw, screw it,” Lozano reportedly said after a discussion about the call. Five minutes later, Mitchell allegedly told Lozano that a Pokemon character known as a Snorlax had popped up nearby.

For about the next 20 minutes, the officers could be heard on the in-car recording discussing Pokémon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phones, court documents said.

After capturing the Snorlax, the officers then traveled to another location to capture another Pokemon, known as a Togetic.

“When their car stopped again, the DICVS [in-car video system] recorded Mitchell saying, ‘Don’t run away. Don’t run away,’ while Lozano described how he ‘buried it and ultra-balled’ the Togetic before announcing, ‘Got him,’” court documents said. 

"Don't run away. Don't run away." Think of all the stories we've heard about police officers shooting someone (unarmed) running away, killing them because they didn't comply. It's probably not helpful in terms of impulse control and thinking things through that officers are "trained" to be trigger happy via video games. Sigh.

Most of us have goofed off at work at one time or another. Pre-Internet, it was mostly taking a gab break with colleagues. Post Internet, it was mostly checking personal emails or doing a bit of online something or other. (One guy I worked with was fired for watching porn. A young woman in my group was caught up in a mini-scandal for trading salacious emails with a security guard. It wasn't the immediate cause of her losing her job, but the next time we had layoffs, she headed the list.) Now the goofing off likely involves shopping Amazon, random googling, and social media stuff. 

But most goofing off at work doesn't involve putting lives at risk. And if you're a salaried employee, you make the time frittered away by staying later or whatever. 

Anyway, if a marketing writer goofs off at work, no big deal. But if a surgeon, or a pilot, or a cop goofs off at work, the stakes are a bit higher.

No one died because Lozano and Mitchell were on the trail of Snorlax and Togetic. But when they ignored the call, they (the officers, not Snorlax and Togetic) didn't know that. 

When you carry a badge, you can't be spending your time on the job upping your Pokémon scores. 

Non-justifiable dumbicide. Book 'em, Danno. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

MLK Day, 2022

When I take my daily walks, I think. And what I've been thinking about lately is what to write for this year's MLK Day.

Should I write about the souped-up horror over Critical Race Theory? About why we don't learn about Tulsa in our history classes? Why some Black folks have to stand in line for eight hours to vote - and why in some places they can't even be given a bottle of water for their troubles? About the Voting Rights Act? About white privilege (a term I really don't like)? About justice for George Floyd, for Ahmaud Arbery? About whether this Supreme Court will overturn Brown v. Board of Education and reaffirm Plessy v. Ferguson? About some ninny in Virginia who was so disturbed by reading Toni Morrison in his AP English class that he practically has PTSD? (Note to Virginia ninny: if you're triggered by reading Toni Morrison, you're not mature enough to take AP English.)

Should I write about my own life, most of which has been lived in the white-o-sphere? I didn't know any Black people growing up. I didn't work with many Black colleagues during my career in high tech. I live in a neighborhood that's as close to lily white as is possible. 

Most of the Black people I know are known through my volunteer work. 

I have one Black person who I can plausibly call a friend, but she's not an inner circle friend. She's someone I like an awful lot, and we sometimes hang out (especially when we're in the throes of our mutual volunteering). I've met her kids (who are fabulous). She's slept on my couch. I know that I could call her if I ever needed something. But she wouldn't be the first person I'd call. (I am fortunate that I am hip deep in family and friends I can rely on.)

Most of what I know about Black lives I saw on TV or read about somewhere. 

I have a lot to think about.

And today, to help me think things through, I'm going to curl up with a good book.

I will be reading selectively, focusing on older essays that, if I've ever read them to begin, I read a long time ago.

I don't know what I'll find, but I'm hoping it helps me figure out what to write about by the time MLK Day 2023 rolls around.

Meanwhile, here's what I had to say on this day last year

Here's how I ended my piece:

Martin Luther King, Jr., paraphrasing 19th century abolitionist minister Theodore Parker, famously wrote that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

We can dream, can't we?

I do like to think that this is the case.

It's been a tough year, all the way around.

I'm still dreaming. But the dream is tinged with fear, with sadness. Does the arc of the moral universe really bend toward justice? Maybe, I am sad and fearful to say, not in my lifetime.

Friday, January 14, 2022

So long, butterfly sewing box

How often do I actually sew something? Every couple of months. Maybe. I sew a button on. Mend a tear. Hem a pair of pants. 

So why was I so delighted when the Amazon package containing my new sewing box landed on my stoop? 

My new sewing box. It's cute and peppy - a black background printed with sewing notions: buttons, pincushions, spools of thread, thimbles, scissors. A lot cuter and peppier than the cream-colored wicker one with the butterfly design on the lid. The one my mother gave me - what? - 40 years ago. 

I have needed a new one for a few years now, ever since the closer thing-y on my old one broke. I suppose I could have figured out a fix, but in truth I was never all that wild about my old one, even though it's nicer - wicker vs. cloth covered cardboard - than my newbie. 

Maybe it was just a need to break up my covid hunkering down by ordering something online. (That is, something in addition to the new hamper - my old one was literally falling apart, shedding pieces whenever I lifted the lid. And the new tablecloth. And the cute sweater I didn't need. And the fake bittersweet to replace the dried up real stuff that you can't buy anywhere now that it's illegal as a superspreader, and now that I can't rely on my sister's supplying me with her side-of-the-road findings from Wellfleet, now that she no longer lives there.)

And maybe I just needed a change of pace - for those three or so times a year I actually find myself going to my sewing box.

Swapping out the old for the new took me a lot longer than I anticipated. 

All those buttons to sift through...

All those buttons...

All shapes, sizes, and colors. And a stroll down memory lane.

Those funky leather buttons from that periwinkle plaid sweater - the one with the pale cantelope-colored grosgrain trim. I know, I know, it sounds awful. But it was really pretty. And I loved that sweater. Which has been out of my life for decades now. 

That stamped metal button with the intricate pattern. I can almost, but not quite, picture the sweater that came from. (It'll come to me.)

I still have the black quilted jacket those buttons for the black quilted jacket go to. And the navy blue skirt I haven't worn in years. Maybe I'll need that skirt button at some point. That is, if I ever put on a skirt again. And if the skirt I put on is that navy blue one.

All that thread to go through.

White, black, navy, cream, khaki. Some of it "coat thread" strength. The basics. I'm good for life. But some of those spools of thread are colors I needed for something that color. A one-off item, no longer in my closet. But you never know. That hot pink thread might come in handy at some point.

What I can't imagine will come in handy are the dozens of tiny little safety pins I've accrued over the years. The ones that attach the little plastic baggie of spare buttons to the piece of clothing that might need a button replaced at some point. Other than attaching the little plastic baggies, what earthly good are they? No earthly good that I can think of. 

I also have a lifetime supply of needles. And a handful of needle threaders, essential at this age and eyesight.

I had two measuring tapes in my sewing box. Why? Why not! (These are cloth measuring tapes. I also have several of the metal ones, including one that's contractor caliber.)

I might use the measuring tapes at some point, but the packs of bias tape? Doubtful.

My old sewing box also contained dozens of the little sewing kits they give you in hotels. Most of them were of this variety:

Most of the were too dog-eared to donate to St. Francis House. I hate to waste, but out they went. And I do have a question: why do these little kits always include pink thread???

Some of the hotel sewing kits were fancier, stamped with the hotel name, and including more notions - a couple of buttons, maybe even a little scissors. Often one of those tiny little safety pins in brass. Apparently the branded kits are popular in Ireland, as I found kits from Ashford Castle and a few other hotels my husband and I stayed at. 

I found one very fancy - but unbranded - sewing kit, in a little plastic pouch. And the kit from the Forum Hotel in Budapest was something of an oddity. It held four colors of thread: brown, and white, red, and green. The colors of the Hungarian flag. I guess those would be useful if you were, say, at a folk festival and had to do a costume repair. 

My old butterfly sewing kit went out with the trash. I felt bad about that, feeling a bit sentimental. After all, it was from my mother. The woman who taught me how to thread a needle, sew on a button, mend a tear, hem a pair of pants. The woman who taught me that buttons were worth saving. (As kids, we loved to play with her "button box," a maroon flowered cookie tin that held hundreds of buttons. Before my mother recycled a too-worn item into rags, she cut the buttons off, using a razor blade. You never knew when those buttons would be needed. And even if you didn't end up using them to button something, you could use them to glue on to a painted tin you were going to use as a button box. Just one of the many items my mother crafted over the years to donate to school bazaars.)

I didn't put the buterfly sewing box in a trash bag. I just left it out, hoping that someone would pick it up and get some use out of it. But when I checked later in the day, it was unclaimed. The weather was cold and rainy. And maybe there was no one out and about who needed a sewing kit with a broken closer thingy.

So long, butterfly sewing box. (I kinda sorta miss you already.) Hello, cute young thing. I'm delighted to have you.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Grifters gotta grift. (Be Best!)

Eleanor Roosevelt was certainly an admirable champion for social justice, and she was right out there near the front lines visiting the troops during WWII. (Big Eleanor fan here.) Jackie Kennedy replaced some chipped china and spruced up a dowdy and tatty White House. But the first First Lady to have a formal agenda was Lady Bird Johnson. She went all in to beautify the country's public spaces. And you know what? She may have been the only First Lady who actually managed to fulfill her agenda. Public spaces are more attractive than they were when I was a kid. And there are a lot more flowers out there, too.

But mostly, the First Ladies' agendas, however heartfelt, are usually somewhat 'meh,' especially when it comes to showing any concrete results.

I mean, Nancy Reagan wanted folks to 'Just Say No' to drugs, which was a good idea, but mosty it resulted in a lot more folks (especially Black folks) being incarcerated. Hillary Clinton futilely tried to take on the cause of universal health care. Barbara Bush and Laura Bush were both focused on literacy - a great cause, but if anything, our population has gotten dumber over the years, not smarter. Michelle Obama wanted kids to be fitter, but was attacked by those who want the freedom to keep their kids unhealthy. Jill Biden is an education advocate, and works on behalf of military families. 

Sure, these agendas are better than those espoused by the average Miss America. ("If I could meet one famous person in history, it would be Aristotle, so that we could discuss the philosophies of the ages. And then I could bring about world peace.") While most of them certainly do put their hearts into it, mostly these agendas are just something to do to keep the First Ladies visible. 

And then there was Melania Trump.

You almost have to admire the disdain she had for the process. ("I really don't care, do you?") Almost.

Her announced agenda was just plain laughable. Anti-bullying? Are you kidding me? When you're married to the Bully-in-Chief?

Mostly, she seemed content to look at herself in the mirror and dress up in expensive clothing. That and sit around in a little one-person pity party imagining the she was the most bullied person in the world. Admittedly, most of the time she looked good, which is easy enough to do if you're pretty (albeit more and more plasticky as time marches on), tall, slender, leggy, and have a lot of money to spend on clothing. 

Since she didn't do much when she was in office, other than see to her bogus agenda, tear up the Rose Garden, oversee Christmas displays that looked like they were designed by a Batman bad guy, and aid and abet her rotten husband, I wasn't expecting much once she'd exited 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Supposedly, she's writing a memoir. God knows, most political memoirs are whitewashed hogwash, but this one? I haven't seen any deets, but I can't imagine a reputable publishing house wanting to get into it with this vapid clothes horse, especially given that the likelihood of the book containing one shred of honesty, insight, and reflection is just about nil.  (Her husband's first post-WH book was, not surprisingly, a coffee table picture book of his Presidential travels. It wasn't brought out be a "real" publisher, but by an outfit called Winning Team Publishing, which was founded by none other than Don, Jr.)

But grifters gotta grift, and Mel would, naturally, want to figure out how to build a revenue stream of her own. So she's auctioning off the "iconic" hat she wore when Emmanuel Macron (et Brigitte Macron, la Première Dame de France) paid a call on the Trump White House.

The White Broad-Brimmed, High Blocked Crown Hat With a nod to French culture, Mrs. Trump commissioned French American designer, Hervé Pierre, to create the one-of-a-kind white hat. Mr. Pierre used the same fabric as Mrs. Trump's white Michael Kors suit and constructed the piece in New York City. (Source: Press release from the office of Melania Trump, put out on PR Newswire)

But, as befits the office of someone who was once a jewelry pitchwoman on QVC, WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

"The Head of State Collection" - get it, hat, head! - also includes "an original watercolor on paper by Marc-Antoine Coulon, and an exclusive digital artwork NFT with motion."

Mr. Coulon's watercolor on paper celebrates the April 2018 French State Visit. This painting [which is a picture of the hat] measures 29.7cm x 40.5cm and is an edition of one. Signed by Melania Trump and Marc-Antoine Coulon

Digital Artwork NFT with motion by Marc-Antoine Coulon, 2021 The digital artwork, a one-of-a-kind NFT of Marc-Antoine Coulon's watercolor [of the hat] with movement, was designed to commemorate the important historical moment and highlight the iconic hat. The NFT is an edition of one. Signed by Melania Trump and Marc-Antoine Coulon

NFT's have got to be right up the Trumps' alley. Selling nothing for something! (Melania has already dabbled in NFT's, having hawked an NFT of a watercolor of her eyes - again by Coulon - and narrated by Melania. If you'd been on the ball, they were up for grabs on her website in December.)

An unspecified "portion of the proceeds" from the current auction will go to Fostering the Future, A Be Best Initiative. (And here I didn't think Be Best was for real. Tsk, tsk.)  This has a reasonably good purpose: helping young folks who've been in foster care get a computer science and technology eduction. But who knows how much money will actually go there way? It may actually be some. At least that's the plan, as Melania's promising to award the first scholarships in Q1 2022. But aren't we still waiting to see her visa application??? It's so easy to miss a promised deadline when you're all caught up in selling your hat and an NFT. 

The starting bid for the "iconic" hat and other stuff is $250K - payable using SOL crypto. (Wanna bet some Trump-supporting wankers have a hand in Solana?)

I mean, it's a cool hat and all. And Melania sure knows how to wear it. 

But $250K? In crypto, yet? 

Can't exactly blame Melania. Grifters gotta grift and all that.

But who, exactly, is going to buy this?

Be Best!

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

John Henry: once again a savior?

I grew up a Red Sox fan - a Red Sox fan who never thought she'd ever, ever, ever in a million-billion years see the Red Sox win a World Series. 

And then John Henry bought the Red Sox, and poured some serious money into the Olde Towne Team.

Which begat the miraculous, brilliant World Series win of 2004, which begat repeat performances in 2007, 2013, and 2018. And all of a sudden, the Red Sox were winners. A dynasty, sort of. In the old days, we expected the Red Sox to break our hearts. (Signs up all over local offices in 2003, when the Red Sox once again blew it: The Red Sox killed my father, and now they're coming after me.)

Thank you, John Henry.

I grew up a daily newspaper reader. When I was little - even before I could read very well - it was the funnies, but by the time I was in the middle of grammar school, it was the full newspaper. The Worcester Telegram (morning) and the Evening Gazette (afternoon). And on Sundays, along with the Sunday Telegram, the Boston Globe and the Boston Record American

I went to college in Boston, and started reading the Boston Globe, pretty much daily. And once I got out in the "real world," I bought the Globe every day, including Sunday. (For a long while, Sunday also meant the New York Times.) In the 1990's, the Times bought the Globe and the Telegram.

I went on reading the Globe, paying little attention to what was going on. And somewhere along the line, I moved from reading the paper paper to subscribing onilne. 

I do know that John Henry bought the Globe (for next to nothing) in 2013. I don't know if he exactly rescued it the way he rescued the Red Sox. And it's certainly true that the Globe, which used to be a great newspaper, is now a not-so-great newspaper. But when I look at how, in many cities, the paper of record is just a vague shadow of what it once was, I'd say he saved the Globe from that grim fate. 

Thank you, John Henry.

I grew up a reader of books. (Everyone in my family was a complete nose-in-the-book person. Books were all over our house. My parents were great readers. All their kids became great readers, too.) When I was four, my sister Kath taught me how to read a bit. I didn't become a fluent reader overnight, but I began putting two and two together. Those letters underneath the pictures in my Golden Books? They combined into words. And you put words together to tell a story. 

Pretty soon I was off.

I am embarrassed to say that, while I'm always reading something - often online - I don't read as many books as I used to. Up until a few years ago, I was still reading 1-2 books a week. Now it's more like 1-2 a month. As often as not, my take-to-bed, goodnight reading is the latest New Yorker or Atlantic. And I'm completely distracted by Twitter.

Still, I'm a reader. And a book buyer. And a lover of bookstores.

Sometimes I buy through Amazon, or download to my Kindle. But mostly I buy books at my wonderful local indie, the Trident Bookstore Cafe. But my main bookstores used to be in Cambridge: the late lamented Wordsworth. And the Harvard Book Store. (Nothing to do with Harvard U, by the way, other than the name and its location in Harvard Square.)

Harvard Book Store (HBS) was my husband's favorite, as it sold a lot of the sciency and philosophy-y works he preferred. But it also has an excellent fiction section, so I was always happy there. A few times a year, we'd walk over to Harvard Square, have lunch, and pop into HBS and load up. (We'd take a cab home, each carrying a half-dozen books.)

I don't get over to Harvard Square all that often, but a couple of years ago - just pre-covid - I was there and stopped into HBS. When I was checking out, they asked if I had a "frequent
reader" (or whatever they called it) membership. I told them 'no', but that my late husband had had one. They asked me his names. Sure enough... They gave me Jim's discount on my purchase. Now this is a bookstore you gotta love.

But like all indie bookstores, it's been struggling.

And then...
[John] Henry has long had an affinity for independent booksellers, and reached out to current owners Jeff Mayersohn and Linda Seamonson early on in the pandemic when he’d heard they were struggling during the shutdown. At the time, the couple had decided to continue paying their staffers even while the store was closed. And with the revenue gone from their litany of literary events — the store typically hosts over 450 readings a year — they were increasingly worried whether the business would survive.

“We had very few months of cash left,” said Mayersohn. (Source: Boston Globe - where else?)

As it turned out, HBS got some covid aid from the Feds, and an increase in customer support when the word got out that they were in trouble. But they had begun talking with John Henry, who has now made an investment.
Mayersohn and Henry did not disclose a figure. But both said it would be enough to cover the costs of renovating the store’s decades-old fixtures and updating its website, which — nearly a decade old — currently doesn’t do much to help Harvard Book Store compete with other, larger, online booksellers which will remain unnamed.

Keeping the Harvard Book Store more than afloat? Great.

Thank you, John Henry.  

When John Henry bought the Red Sox, he knew how important the team was to our community. Ditto for when he bought the Globe. He said he sees its purchase, as well as his investment in the Harvard Book Store, "as contributing to the civic good of the city." He "didn't want to see [the bookdstore] go away."

Once again, John Henry's a savior.

Thank you, John Henry.