Archive for April, 2009

Rampaging Moms of Centre Street

April 30th, 2009

Beware the dangers in the Triangle of Social Snacking. The roving young moms with gigantic strollers in downtown JP have taken over. sidewalk clearing moms

My own uxorial unit pointed out the junge Hausfrauen to me first. She was at the Monkey for yoga. That is in the vortex of the Purple Cactus, City Feed and J.P. Licks. She found that they have new mistresses now.

She headed into J.P. Licks and expected to use the wee but customer available women’s room to wee. She found it blocked again by a toddler limo — a gigantic, high-end stroller jammed into the room, preventing entry by a second woman. A very special mom had forced the huge transport into the room, both reserving it just for her use and likely saving her expensive stroller and its wondrous goodies from who knows what public peril unattended beyond the door.

Likewise, with the skies warm and sunny, the privileged Pond Side and mid-JP breeders are each airing her precious. Make no mistake, citizen, the sidewalks are theirs as well. The mom/heir octet I snapped yesterday are typical. They rolled down Centre store-to-curb with their stroller as rolling forts.

They make no space for walkers in either direction, oblivious to those leaping into the gutter to avoid them. They are having a great time chatting. They in effect are like a gang of individual cellphone talkers, except they are actually face to face.

My wife, mother of three, finds them amusing instead of annoying. I too recall what it was like to travel city streets in Manhattan and then Boston with a stroller; I still stop to help a mom or dad use stairs or get through a door if they have a kid on wheels. My wife knows it’s evidence of their sense of privilege, but still she thinks they have a lot to deal with having a baby to entertain and transport.Their outings into the Triangle are better for them and their tots than asocial behavior.

As the Southerner’s say, “God bless ‘em.”

Not Too Late Bloomer

April 28th, 2009

I could drag this floral metaphor around the house repeatedly. The damned amaryllis became the blessed spring beauty. After muttering disparagement at it for months, I smile at its garish beauty and no longer resent its tardiness.

We picked it up cheap at some home center and did right by it while it ignored our expectations. Potted, watered and in a sunny Southern window, the bulb sat inert for many months, looking for the world like a remnant of elephant garlic in the dirt.

The winter and even spring holidays passed slowly and without the flower. Stubbornly, I kept it moist through Christmas, New Year and Easter. Suddenly and inexplicably, it rewarded my not tossing it with the earlier seasons’ trappings by thrusting a thick stem up and smacking our eyes with three deep red blooms.amaryllis on table

Let’s not get into living up to your potential or comparisons with ourselves or our children. How many teachers and parents have been impatient with how many of us? Lackaday, we have been inadequate, at least on their schedules.

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So now, we have had crocuses and violets. Our forsythia bushes fairly scream, “Yellow!” The parrot tulips are in high contrast to the brown and black earth around them. Yet, they are all outside.

amaryllis stamen

Our reluctant red chum brings new life right before us indoors. I have instantly forgiven it for its delay. It was not a late bloomer, rather a right-time-for-it bloomer.

In fact, I can easily see buying several next year and staggering when I start forcing them to life. For sure, such color power can be welcome at the rate of one a month. We have lots of varied lights, ornaments, package wrappings and even silly sweaters to brighten our Christmas and winter.

Ahab on Two Wheels

April 25th, 2009

Ten weeks — near an eternity to the impatient — after the surgery to repair my tib/fib break, I was on a bicycle. This was not the stationary bike-like object in the gym, rather my splendid Motobecane Grand Sprint.

By way of encouragement to others healing from titanium rod insertion, I did okay, although I could feel the unsureness of being back in traffic and wondering whether I could kick out and put a foot down as needed.

As I benefited from reading how people deal with their recovery, I urge working the muscles, both to strengthen them and to keep the blood bringing minerals, oxygen and other goodies to the broken and maimed internal parts.

My empirically based judgment on a single trip was that it was enough of a push to feel I had done something meaningful. Emotionally, it was huge to expand my functioning.

With a nod to Dave Barry, this was Ahab on two wheels (a good name for a rock band). I have set aside my cane. That is, I admit, a bit of a pretense. I could as easily continued using it for the sense of stability, but I prefer thumping along without it. Plus, I get to hear acquaintances exclaim how great I’m doing in my recovery, particularly those show last saw me with a walker or two crutches.

For the info of those recovering, I had a pretty slow paced ride of moderate length, 14 miles. It includes some rolling hills and one very steep one of about a mile. Before starting, I made a deal with myself that a lot of pain would trigger a turn around.

Going up the big hill on Unquity road, I slowed considerably. I probably fell back to 10 or 11 MPH up the steepest section and dropped to my middle crank wheel and lowest back gear.

A 20-something Spandex prince passed me on the steepest incline. I figure he was doing maybe 4 MPH faster. Figuring also that he is 30 to 40 years younger and not recovering from leg surgery, I was amused rather than annoyed or competitive. This has been a good side-effect from the break and recovery. I am picky about what upsets me and I am in control of what I react to now.

The speedy guy was a very look-at-me sort too. He was riding one of the $4,000 or higher Tour class bikes. His jersey and shorts were high-priced models covered with professional sponsor names. I hope for his sake he never slows enough for someone to pass him.

Back home, I showered, letting the hot water work the knee. It is a bit sore, but not really painful. I slathered the knee with Tiger Balm. It appears there’ll be no penalty for this little push.

Moreover, Bay State Bike Week (née Boston Bike Week) starts May 11th, with the festival on City Hall Plaza May 15th. Then, there’ll be a series of Bike Fridays with their own mini-festivals and group rides.

Back here in Woodbourne, cost center two returns from college in a few weeks. I had warned him that we would likely not be able to resume our father/son bike rides. After all, until last week, the surgeons predicted I wouldn’t be on a bike until September and wouldn’t really feel like pedaling until December.

My first physical therapy session won’t be for three weeks. They surely will be able to show me exercises to increase flexibility and decrease my remaining limp. I intend to bike over though and set the starting point.

So, if my little universe of one is any indication, I urge those recovering to push the possible and make it likely.

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Amusement of Self-Baggage

April 23rd, 2009

Some people we know have clear youth lineage. That is, many of us carry forward our favorite selves.

We can catalog our chums and see who was a cheerleader or jock or scholar in high school. Women who won a beauty title often see themselves in their tiaras when they are alopecic and dumpy. That’s not necessarily bad. Bringing our idealized selves to our adulthood at once gives us grounding — a frame of reference — and it lets us project with pride and confidence.

When it is bad though is for those who froze their classic selves as the fat kid or the one no one liked. No one needs to relive that self daily.

Begorra, we’re not plainly adults acting out like squealing sorority sisters or oafish and puerile linesmen, even if some of us still have those memories. Yet many of us do carry ourselves with physical and mental images of science fairs won, sashes worn, trophies accepted, tackles made, laps swum, or debate points scored.

Our physical images may be the most obvious. Many of us think we have one or more extreme or really bad or really good feature. My mother and sister for example had great giggles about their breasts. As the younger of the two kids and raised by a divorced mom, I was in their world. That includes pushing aside the hanging vines of brassieres, girdles and stockings on the way to the shower in a shared bathroom. The related giggles came from their comparing my sister’s large bras with our mother’s tiny ones — our mother could fill an A cup only with padding.

In moments of candor, we often speak of our special features. That might be a too big butt or perfect feet or gigantic nose or skinny legs.big shouldered gorilla

For me, I have huge feet and absurd shoulders. Many don’t notice my feet, generally being in brown or black wrappers, right away. When they do they are invariably excited and happy to inform me that I have really big feet (size 13 American/47 European). My beloved swim coach, Vic Liske, used to laugh that I was so good so quickly at breaststroke because I had built-in swim fins.

My shoulders and chest though are pretty much out there. I fill in an extra large shirt, the upper portion at least. My 48-inch chest has long limited my choice of shirts and jackets, as well as requiring alterations to suit jackets.

One football player in high school remained convinced that I sucked in my gut and puffed out my chest to look so much like a silverback gorilla. I had no choice.

My mother told the apologetic tale of how I came to have my father’s last name and his first name as my middle one, and then my mother’s maiden name (Michael) as my first. It had to do with those shoulders. My little mother was perking along just fine in Ft. Sill Station Hospital delivering me, but could not manage to get the shoulders out after the head. Before the docs uncorked me with the forceps, they gave her some gas to kill the pain. Then, being the military and all, the nurses immediately produced the live-birth form for her to sign. It required a name for the baby. She swears it was only under the influence of the drug that she forgot other choices she had and fell back on what she knew best.

In a little bit of recurring drama, my bones would revisit. We moved every couple years when I was a child. When I’d break in a new GP with a physical, I found the same routine with the height and weight. The doctor would ask what bone structure I had and invariably would laugh patronizingly when I said “large.” “Everyone (chuckle) thinks he’s big boned (ha ha). Let me show you,” he’d reply. Then if he bought out calipers to show me, his face slackened when he said I really did have big bones. He’d grab my wrist and tell me as though I should be surprised that there was no fat on my wrist, just bone, a lot of big bone.

I certainly got used to a huge chest and wide shoulders. There were girls, then women, attracted to them, particularly in my Speedo days. In fact, in my times of making my own message t-shirts, I had a little jest about my upper body. I think I still have one of those shirts that reads NOT TO SCALE.

One Fat Leg

April 22nd, 2009

I expected the scars, but not the fat old leg. I apparently hadn’t paid enough attention to my wife 16 years ago when she described her own broken-leg recovery.

The medical professionals were not much help. They provided vague information, and only specifically what I asked. There wasn’t any meaningful prognosis from either the surgeons who operated on my leg or even the physical therapist in the hospital who tortured me with a climb-the-stairs…and come back down…on crutches lesson before I could leave for home.

In the hospital, the surgeons told me the next morning following the insertion of a 14-plus-inch titanium rod where my tibia marrow used to be that the leg was “structurally sound.” That was the first of many over-the-wall statements I got from them in hospital and at the three and nine-week follow-up visits.

In my morphine-addled state, I asked what I thought were sensible questions, like, “When can I get on a bicycle again.” That stopped the head trauma ortho guy as well as his team of residents. He laughed heartily. That was a matter for the physical therapists, but his best guess was September (seven  months after the break). He added that I surely wouldn’t feel like riding and it would likely really be December. Maybe he doesn’t pedal in Boston, but December is not our best month to get back in the saddle.

Thumping to the Toilet

The PT arrived with a walker and crutches. His job was to get me to stand up (excruciating; much like the pain of my full shoulder dislocations of yore). Then I was to head by walker maybe 60 yards away to a stairway to learn how to climb up and down with crutches. He knew we had five steps to get into the house, but more relevant, the bed and toilet were in rooms 13 steps up from the main level.

He was a jolly fellow, but deferred to the surgeons and the future PT person on rehab and healing schedules and such.  He predicted next to nothing. Those attitudes may be professionally safe, but left me dangling like a comminuted fibula.

The two follow-up visits with the surgeons were similarly over-the-wall. At three weeks, as far as they were concerned, the cast would be on for eight or more weeks, depending on whether I was a fast or slow bone grower.  No predictions, no things to do, no light in my tunnel…

Then at nine weeks, the two who looked at the new x-rays included a young resident ortho surgeon. He let it be known that when he could find the time, he like to cycle. He was more inclined to answer my concerns. The unrepaired fibula was still a shattered mess, but the tibia was growing bone in and around the cleft they left me. He said it was not a good idea, but in theory I could get on a bike now. He also warned that I had better realize that for months to come, I’d pedal real slowly.

my road bikeI knew the latter from the gym. For over a week, I’d crawled onto a stationary bike-like object and literally lifted the lame leg over the saddle with my hands and carefully placed it in the pedal strap.Try as I might, my own previous times on the same tours wasted me. Slow was a kind way of describing my deconditioned self. Even after being on for two weeks, I am still dog slow. I can imagine my wife, the anti-biker, zipping past me on the road, if she’d ever bike on the road.

That’s the future. The present is messier. I won’t see a PT until mid-May for the earliest appointment. I can see not getting much out of it by then. I’m exercising, walking as much as I can and using a Thera-Band to loosen up the ankle ligaments and tendons.

Common Tales

I wasn’t well prepared for what to do by the medical types. Nor did they let me know about my bratwurst leg.  For the former, I know now that a tib/fib break as they say is damned common. A web search turns up everyone from 14 up writing about their circumstances, often with photos and x-rays, and describing the operation.

They tend to elide the recovery and rehab. I did find a couple though who recommended keeping the lower body pulsing with blood. Even letting the maimed and pained leg dangle was okay, so long as the other leg worked. While that sounded a bit illogical to me, it seemed to have worked. I grew a lot of bone and I found two aerobic machines I could do even before I could drag that leg onto the one-wheel “bike.”

For me those were the Scifit sort of arm-bike thing and the rowing machine. I could park my left leg out of the way and burst out into a 45-minute or so panting sweat. The blood and air were coursing through me. Plus, I wasn’t thinking about the leg with the rod. I was busy.

For the leg still retaining fluids more than two months after surgery, I was ignorant. That’s the way of the recovery from this. My left ankle is at least 50% bigger than my right. Any sock, even the very loose Polartec one, leaves deep ruts in the skin. It doesn’t hurt, but it sure doesn’t look right.

Here the nine-week-visit surgeons were straight with me. Full recovery, what they referred to as “getting your leg back” is a year. Meanwhile, no matter how much blood is pushing through the lower body, that leg will stay really round and squishy to the touch.

So from my very unscientific view, if you know someone with a tib/fib break that takes surgery, say:

  1. Exercise as soon and as much as you can
  2. Expect lumps, bumps and bratwurst limb

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Our Eternal Neighborhood

April 19th, 2009

St. Michael CemeteryCheek to jowl or seated in different corners, abutting JP cemeteries reflect permanent postmortem placement and philosophy. St. Michael (to the left) is a classic necropolis. Forest Hills (below to the right) was the nation’s second garden (a.k.a. rural) cemetery.

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While both spots serve the main purpose of corpse storage, they differ vastly in density, layout and decoration. They share Walk Hill Street but little else.

St. Michael (founded 1905 by several Roman Catholic parishes) has tight rows of headstones nearly touching. There are some wonderful realistic busts and entire-body statues of patriarchs, matriarchs and beloved children who died too young. Most art is miniature statuettes of Jesus, Mary, Christopher or an angel.

With every monument except for the border of mausolea only a paperback width away from the next, the feeling is very urban. Almost like tenements or triple deckers, St. Michael has the feeling of closeness and contradictorily of vitality — neighborly.

Most tombstones carry names of European and Catholic origin. Italian and Polish are common. These could be patronymics on doorbells in a crowded neighborhood.

Forest Hills (founded in 1848 as the nation’s second garden cemetery) is at once private residences and museum and park.

Forest Hills Cemetery

Filled with WASPs, Forest Hills is more like a Dover than a North End. The family plots have open spacing. There’s room to picnic if one is so inclined. In fact, the original concept for both Mt. Auburn (1831) and Forest Hills was a place for reflection and quiet enjoyment, linking the dead and living (future dead) in an attractive landscape with noble art abounding. Forest Hills has become much more of a museum and art showplace than Mt. Auburn, with its trustees and presidents purchasing, placing and commissioning contemporary statues and installations.

Amusingly for Boston, the residents here have relatively greater personal space than when they lived. Consider how many of the wealthy Protestants buried there may have lived on Beacon Hill or in the South End. There, while breathing, their houses nearly abutted their neighbors’, much like the tombstones in St. Michael. In death, they have their own lawns and considerable space from other graves.

Forest Hills lacks community and replaces it with bucolic welcome. St. Michael is the classic city of the dead, to visit but not to while or meditate.

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Surprise Me, New England

April 17th, 2009

Placing two hands full of gym clothes in the basement washer this pre-dawn, I heard the deep hiss of the boiler. That tends to come on when the outside is 35 degrees.

A couple of minutes before, the cheerful radio new voice said highs in Boston today would be in the low 70s — a one-day burst of heat for us in April. In my simple-minded way, I amused myself saying that this New England weather takes some getting used to. We’ve lived here continuously for 29 years.

Perhaps it’s rationalization, but I think the notorious swings and surprises in the air, on the ground and in the water are positive for us locals. Our weather produces a level of awareness that might otherwise require t’ai chi or meditation.

While we can and too often do drone on about the current weather, that’s a human norm. In temperate areas, they have to struggle to note small variances. We literally just look up or feel the air.

I lived in Manhattan for a decade before moving here. There was a span of several years when numerous friends moved to or near Los Angeles for movie or TV jobs. More than once after hearing their laments about unchanging weather, I sent an envelope with autumn leaves of red, orange, yellow and pied mixtures. That didn’t give them temperature swings or snow, but they liked the relics and memories they brought.

Yet, temperate zone residents seem in general not to like airborne surprises. My father-in-law was born, raised and died in South Carolina. It was hot and humid half the year, but their two seasons hot/not as hot were consistent and predictable.

When he and my mother-in-law visited JP, he complained loud and often about the cold, the snow, the frost and the wind. At first, I thought he really hated the chill, but I finally realized that he wanted consistent weather. He had an engineering mind and wanted simple planning for his day, his whole day and his week. This heavy coat in the morning and shirt sleeves by 3 p.m. with raincoat or boots in the evening didn’t suit him.

In contrast, his wife was from Indiana and loved New England in the snow. She radiated enough to warm us all on trips to Vermont for walks in the snow through covered bridges and nights before the rental house fires. She loved the awareness that came with extremes and change.

Many Southern and West Coast locales brag of year-round green and moderate temperatures. As great as that is for landscaping and gardening, it tends toward producing lotus-eaters. My father, who was a Master Gardener as am I, flourished with his plants in Tacoma. Low levels of all-year moisture and little cold helped him grow almost anything and keep an unheated greenhouse in the back for specialty items. Here though, growing plants from seed is a pretty big deal and knowing when to sow in the soil is a gamble with a large piece of intuition.

Consider a long, straight road. Driving it brings instant comfort and familiarity. Yet no turns and unchanging geography can quickly lead to inattention and torpor. Single cars can wreck on such roads, drivers lulled by sameness.

I contend that the sport of weathering the Boston weather has virtues. I am sure it affects and even shapes the locals’ minds. Through regular irregularity, we must develop an appreciation of ambiguity, if not in philosophy at least in dress.

We have to be ready to scrape windshields and shovel front walks in May and sweat walking around the next afternoon or even the same day.

I recall when my oldest son was in nursery school and differentiation was a lesson that shaped his reality. The pre-primary school tots learned same and different at school and on Sesame Street. A regular delighted squeal in the school or playground was, “We have the same!” when they discovered a shared color, number of items, or even similar dessert.

The awareness of and joy in seeing the same, in experiencing the predictable quickly turns into monotony. For a teen or adult, it’s more often the oh-crap moment at the same dinner, TV reruns, repetitious radio playlists, or another day with exactly the same weather as the one before and the one before and the one before.

Like cross-training at the gym, a bit of scrambling to weigh various daily forecasts, guess when you can transplant seedlings safely, or tucking the windbreaker and umbrella in the briefcase are flexibility aids. Geriatric expert have long recommend that we keep up both mental and physical challenges, down to crosswords and playing an instrument, so we keep our minds and emotions in shape as we age.

Too much sameness is at once soothing and deadening. New Englanders do just fine with our constant weather surprises and twists…perhaps because of them.

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Well, Bless My Bones

April 16th, 2009

Rapid is relative. Nine weeks after surgery to drive a 14-plus inch titanium nail into my broken tibia, I am impatient. Nine weeks after that surgery, the ortho guys tell me my bones look great and I’m well ahead of the curve.

The two x-ray segments today are of my self-patching tibia and the still shattered fibula. Images from nearly six weeks ago are here.

healing tibia

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Today, I learned even more about bone and body works.  The tibia apparently is the model of what a body is supposed to do when it realizes it has a break in a long bone. What did look like snapped firewood with two splintered ends now has a surrounding mass of new bone.

According to the Brigham and Women’s trauma ortho guys:

  • The body will slap more new material in, among and around the gaps and breaks than it needs.
  • It will circle around after that to nibble away the unnecessary and lay down straight repair lines on the tibia edges.
  • The additional material means there is nothing I can do now to prevent the total repair of this bone.

The fibula, on the other end of the limb is still a mess. Yet, as one of today’s follow-up docs said, “We are very disrespectful of the fibula.” He noted as others had that orthopedic surgeons use the tibia for spare parts, lifting segments as needed to graft to weight-bearing and essential bones. He iterated that as far as they are concerned, it isn’t even necessary to function.comminuated fibula

He advised not looking at further x-rays of that messy critter for at least a year. He figures it too will grow new bone and run through the healing cycle, just much later than the tibia. It’s not his fibula, but he said he wasn’t at all concerned about whether it ever healed.

Uptown though, apparently even in my hoary decrepitude, my body was doing all right by me and I by my body. That seems to include:

  • Lots of calcium intake (I can’t handle milk, but do yogurt and gigantic calcium carbonate pills).
  • Loads of blood circulating, particularly in the limbs. I could not use standard gym aerobics machines, but did inventory the works to find two machines I could use without using the left leg. Apparently having the blood working is huge in bone building.

Then nearly two weeks ago, I decided to take off the Aircast. I agonizingly crawled onto a stationary bike-like object to start working the left leg. It hurt, it was and still is slow, and I can’t do it long.  This dramatically increases the muscle tone and flexibility of the calf and ankle, as well as pushing the blood and minerals around the leg.

I’ve been in the gym six or seven days a week for the past three weeks, using aerobic machines.

The docs figure that I’ve cut a couple months off the healing by exercising. They say they see this when someone can do that and don’t see it when the patient remains in the cast immobilized.

My college son will be home next month. I can see biking together this summer, albeit more slowly than pre-break. I am learning how to appreciate the possible rather than bewail the shortcomings. It’s almost like being mature.

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Smash and Glue Comcast

April 15th, 2009

fair use symbol

Disdain? Gratitude? What do I heap upon Comcast for inexplicably breaking and then expertly fixing my Internet connection?

Many have been the fine rants excoriating the clumsy giant. Probably a great source would be UniveralHub.

Also, as many Bostonians, I am cautious about getting its horrid eye looking at me —  Comcast is our Polyphemus, captor and menace. I have no choice in that Boston has rented a monopoly over my neighborhood among cable providers and Verizon is too stupid and arrogant to run the wires enabling their FIOS. It’s Comcast or the coffee shop (which uses Comcast).

We felt we had gotten a free ride, with cotton candy on a cone, when they showed up on time. I was very familiar with keens of Comcast appearing hours or days or weeks late or not at all.

This seemed like a third-grade-level task. We had two separate Internet cables, because until recently, my wife’s company required a discrete connection for her VPN. When that changed, we could share and wanted to drop the second line and its monthly fees.

We made the call. They said a service person would arrive the next day. We disconnected the cable modem and its short cables, and had them by the front door.

So, the ‘caster came by to pick up the modem and its inside cable, check its provenance, and skip blithely back to panel truck. All of that happened…as expected and again, on time.

Well, Comcast took back the treat and kicked us off the ride. They had their infamous cosmic joke on us, waiting until after we thought we had escaped their tricks.

Shortly after our jolly ‘caster drove off to the Borg, the original, remaining connection blew. I suddenly got a browser-based demand to activate my account. You can imagine how much that delighted me, particularly as I’ve had a connection on that line since Comcast drove AT&T into the sea in capturing Boston, maybe five years ago. Comcast broke me when I wasn’t looking.

Fortunately, we did not have a phone contingent on a Comcast connection. I called and to my surprise had a technician on the phone within five minutes.

This is where the theoretical gratitude comes in. He didn’t take more than a couple of minutes to see that despite having the modem types and serial numbers, as well as the removed modem recorded, Comcast turned off the data to the wrong modem. They made what should have been an extremely simple operation into failure.

The tech had me disconnect my router while he tickled the cable modem remotely. In effect, he said that the account had been cut off and he reauthorized and reactivated it from the Borg ship.

So, this totally unnecessary disaster could have lasted for a day or week or longer. Instead, it was less than an hour (but some considerable anxiety and annoyance) for me.

So, there you have it sports fans. Is Comcast the villain or the hero or both? Do you hate the chef who burns the last daily special that you’d ordered and really wanted, but then produces an off-menu gem to replace it? I could work that metaphor for some time, but shall let it go.

I’m pissed and pleased. Mostly, this has reinforced my original feeling about Comcast. Avoid them.

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Face Time with My Councilor

April 13th, 2009

John Tobin CD symbolI suspect my District Councilor is better than yours. Mine, John Tobin in District 6, not only is very responsive, but he has roving office hours.

Today’s was at J.P. Licks. It was a bit early for a sundae, but they have good coffee there (and free wireless). He announces his City Hall, District Office and coffee-shop hours on his website.

He shows with an aide to help with any followup. This time was more check-in and social, but December’s visit with him got my neighborhood a much-needed stop sign.

John seems totally lacking in guile. Combined with my candor, we get along fine, with no one playing any social games.

Today for example, one of my questions was how tense City Hall and Council were with two Councilors and an activist running against the almost certain to re-run Mayor Tom Menino. Tobin laughed and said there were no open conflicts, much less fights. However, the added that the atmosphere was pretty strange.

For example, at a recent city budget hearing in a small room, both mayoral hopeful At-large City Councilors, Sam Yoon and Michael Flaherty, joined the mayor, as did Kevin McCrea.  It was an open meeting; any of us could have attended. Four who will surely be in a heated battle did. It must be more fun to be a detached Councilor like Tobin who is only running for re-election for his own seat, while being able to watch the theater before him. This can only get better.

Back to the ice-cream shop hours, I am not aware of other Councilors who do this.  District 7’s version has told everyone repeatedly how wonderful he is that he maintains a District Office. Well, John Tobin does that and ratchets it up a notch with a temporary office in another part of his district. You should ask yours to do so.

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