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First foray into LED light bulbs March 14, 2015

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Picked up a two pack of LED soft-white  light bulbs today. It was on sale for $9.99 at Target of all places.

They do better than the Compact Fluorescent bulbs in two ways – first the CFL’s are 13W, the LED bulbs are 7W. Second the lifespan of the LED lights is 22 years. Yeah ‘ll be in my 70’s when they finally die. And it’s highly likely the plastic casing will rot away before the 22 years is up.

And I’ll be honest I’m starting to see LED lighting everywhere. Around the corner they’re rehabilitating the old DePasquale Pharmacy into what looks like office space and they’ve put LED lights over the front and rear entrances. Traffic lights are most LED now along with the pedestrian signals. Then there is the train platform – once the platform goes outdoors there are lights along the way – all LED. And on the way into Back Bay Station in Boston I note all the lights are being changed from High Pressure Sodium lamps to LED lamps. I never would have thought when I was younger that the humble little indicator LED could ever become the powerhouse lighting of today.

So now two men can create a baby March 10, 2015

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Yeah I know. Bizarre but true.

But as we are wont to do we riff on stuff like that sometimes. For example we were trying to figure out what traits a child would get from between the two of us. Skin color, eye color, hair color and so on. Typical Mendelian stuff. But then we’re both hairy bears.

So I was theorizing on if we had a little girl we’d have to braid her back hair. But goes even further. There’s an old picture of my great grandmother when she was 19 years old. She had REALLy stern look on her face – in fact I think my cousin inherited that trait. But I theorized maybe it’s because she had to shave her back. The family name unbastardized is Italian for fur. Yeah – a trait in the family that probably hung the name on us.

The Religious Damage to Health March 10, 2015

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So I’m currently reading the book “Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine” by Paul A. Offit, M.D.

So far the author presents that he ended up with religion after reading through the Bible. Falls under my theory that M.D.’s as a general rule fall into one of two categories; God Complex or Jesus Jumpers.

That said the stories of kids who died because of religious belief is astonishing. There’s one case of little Matthew whose parents were Christian Scientists. First of all there’s no Christianity of Science in that group of people. It’s essentially chock full of nuts. Anyhow Matthew had bacterial meningitis. Something that antibiotics can handle quite well. But the parents waited twelve days to bring the young child to a doctor. Instead they had other Christian Scientists PRAY over the kid.

The delusion of religion is what really gets me. But the author gives the background to the Christian Science goons – and how medicine was practiced in the early 19th century. Put it this way – medicine back then had no regulation, licensing, etc. If you wanted to call yourself a doctor you could. So it’s no wonder the founder of the Christian Science didn’t trust doctors. But today we can have a bit more confidence that our doctors have learned a thing or two and been tested, licensed etc.

But the religious idiocy lives on. Despicable!

A political epiphany about Providence March 8, 2015

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It has been percolating along in my head for weeks now. I call Providence a half measure or in the more common vernacular a half ass city. In my meeting with City Councilor Bryan Principe and Representative John J. Lombardi yesterday the focus became a bit more clear.

The All Politics are local meme emerged and that’s all well and good. But what emerged was that the east side of Providence is the ruling class simply by dint of being the biggest voting and most consistent voting block in the city. Meanwhile overall voting in the Federal Hill/Broadway/West End areas is pitifully low. And the south side is worse than that. All total only about 1/4th of the people in those areas votes consistently. I’m one of them.

But I wonder why there is so much voter apathy. Don’t people realize that by voting in their neighbors and make no mistake, my elected representatives are in fact my neighbors.

I guess people get turned off every time a sitting politician gets caught up in legal troubles. Or not knowing what it takes to run – the fundraising, phone calls, emails, etc. that comprise a modern campaign even for city councilor. The ones who did figure it out sit on the council or in the State House today. Or we worked on political campaigns. I’ve done two gubernatorial campaigns so far. Perhaps I’ll do a mayoral someday – maybe organize the south side of the city.That would be fun.

And I ask myself how did I end up knowing how the game works? It’s pretty simple – I recall as a kid I was exposed to it every election season. My grandfather and father were very politically active. So it’s no wonder I exercise the same right. I grew up in the 4th ward and recall the dinners and more to the point the schools I went to made sure we got exposed to politics at lunches and dinners. I recall the food being mediocre and the conversation being pretty dull. But all that gelled into my young mind.

It’s important that you at a minimum know how to reach out to elected officials. If only to make your life a little easier. In my case I walk to the train every morning and having uncleared sidewalks is a major pain in the ass. So I of course know a little email directed to the right target gets it done. As an example I noticed the sidewalks after the GTECH building on Francis street east were never cleared. I figured out who the councilor was, sent him and email and next day the sidewalks bordering Waterplace park were down to cement. And now every time it snows there’s a DPW crew out there clearing it at 6 in the morning. Now I know it wasn’t just me experiencing the problem but as I’ve posted before when I get put out I get vociferous. And I have the wherewithal to know how to contact those people. I prefer email because email at least keeps a written record in your sent folder.

Let’s put it this way – our local elected officials need to hear from us regularly. And around here particularly in election seasons you cannot help but to bump into those elected folks.

So what I think we need to do in every ward outside those on the east side is to break voter apathy.  Maybe encourage sitting Councilors, Representatives and Senators. Send them into the schools to do assemblies or visit classrooms and talk about their positions. And by golly hold a spaghetti dinner every now and again. Bring the kids. This is something they need to know.

Sourdough Starter March 7, 2015

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So I made a Sourdough Starter. It’s really easy – I did a 50/50 mix of whole wheat flour and bread flour with some water. Put it in a loosely covered container. By the next day you should see bubbling going on and sure enough there was.

I’ve been feeding it for a week now. Just about at the point where I’m ready to use it and store it in the fridge. I’ve of course tasted it – nice sour tang to it. It’ll make a fantastic sourdough bread.

All due to a little bacterium called Lactobacillus. It’s present EVERYWHERE including the human gut. And in fact active culture yogurt uses it too. The bacterium is also used in pickling from the standard cucumber pickle to sauerkraut and kimchi among many.  (more…)

Saturday Providence Traffic March 7, 2015

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So today – we grabbed a zipcar and were all over the place from South Attleboro, MA to Coventry, RI and a bunch of meandering in the Providence/Cranston area.

So one of our trips took us up to the east side of Providence. Down near Pitman Street to be precise. It was a mission to get a certain soap that I both love and that is really good for my skin. The Whole Foods on North Main doesn’t carry it all that often, the one deeper on the east side does. So we went over there. Now coming back you take Angel St. and come down the hill towards Exchange Terrace and from there connect to Broadway.

The issue was – traffic was a nightmare. The Home show is going on today. So I decide I’ll risk going up toward Francis St. which is all the mall traffic. Made it to Francis and Gaspee and decided I’d go AROUND the State House and come down the back side of Providence Place Mall then up the connector and onto Dean St. and from there it’s an easy shot home.

Get half way down and some asshole is trying to turn left to go into the mall. And nobody is letting him in. Finally he edged out a little, I went around and was on the way home.

Now for the gripe – the snow removal during this winter was pretty damned bad. There is ice everywhere and cars parked make it hazardous to drive down the street.

Combine those two things and it’s no fun to drive in the City of Providence on a Saturday.

Events: Sunday meeting with City Councilor and State Representative March 6, 2015

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So in the past I’d written how I worked with my city councilor to enhance the penalties for not shoveling your sidewalks. That went through.

However some things have emerged that concern me greatly. For example, I live in Providence, RI but work in Cambridge, MA. The difference in the condition of sidewalks in both cities are diametrically opposites. In most of Cambridge it’s down to pavement on the sidewalks. In Providence there’s ice and shit still on the sidewalks. In addition I’ve heard on the news that the city can’t say WHO they’ve cited under the revised law.

So at the meeting I want to bring up:

1) Police department and Department of Public Works needs to be on board and cognizant of the changes to the law.

2) Public education – could be as simple as small signs posted  – this is big in Cambridge btw. I would take it one further – on the signs put a QR code and a web address, E.g. http://www.providenceri.com/snow

3) And one thing media has gone on about is the unavailability of salt for people to buy. So I’d like to propose the city take an empty lot by eminent domain and put a salt pile there. Charge people $10 for two ten pound burlap sacks. Refills would be a buck or two per 10lbs and problem solved.

National Read Out Loud Day March 4, 2015

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So I did a couple of funny paragraphs from the book “The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul” by Douglas Adams. It’s also subtitled “Dirk Gently Book 2″

House of Cards – The Intrigue March 3, 2015

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I’ve always heard it said and witnessed the premature aging of Presidents. And the Netflix series House of Cards is definitely in that phase now.

I’m at Season 3, Episode 9, Chapter 35 of the series now. So far the body count is definitely up there – the two most notables a reporter and a congressman.

Fun times!

For once the MBTA was on time today March 2, 2015

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Amazing. Sometimes the planets and stars align such that the MBTA commuter rail from Boston to Providence was on time this evening.

Of course this morning it was a different story. Mechanical issues delayed the 6:33AM train until 6:55AM.

But as I said, accolades for running right on time this evening.

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