Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Walk on by

Boston Real Estate Blog shared that walkscore.com has ranked Boston the 3rd most walkable city in the country.

San Francisco and NYC took the top two spots respectively. I'm not sure that the hills of San Francisco make the city the most walkable but it is a beautiful place to visit.

The website is really pretty cool and allows you to see how various neighborhoods ranked for 'walkability'. If you would like to check it out, link here. Back Bay, Beacon Hill and the South End led with the highest scores. You can see how deep green these neighborhoods are in the picture below from the website which indicates it is a 'walker's paradise'.

I would like to add that these people obviously conducted their survey during warmer months, because right now when I am walking to get my coffee paradise is not how I would describe the experience. The children's game "Slip 'n Slide" would be more appropriate.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Say NO to Rep John Rogers for Speaker

Many people know that State Speaker DiMasi will be stepping down as Speaker of the House. However, I did not realize that majority leader Rep. John Rogers from Norfolk, MA is the inside favorite to replace the North End Speaker.

Although Rogers has come around and now supports Gay Marriage. Rogers is hardly a progressive politician when it comes to social issues. A strong friend of Thomas Finneran - a convicted felon and enemy of the GLBT community - Rogers is a social conservative who has a very short record when it comes to supporting GLBT rights. I'm writing this blog entry hoping it will encourage others in MA to pick up their phone and flex some political muscle. Let your State Representative know that electing John Rogers to the Speaker of the House is BAD for the GLBT community and that you would rather they support someone else. Rogers has a long track record voting against many GLBT issues citing his conservative values as the reason.

I don't know much about the other 'favorite' to fill the shoes of Speaker DiMasi. Local papers all seem to agree that it is Rep. Robert Deleo from Winthrop. If you have anything to share about him, please leave a comment here for readers to see. I will be calling my State Representative from the South End tomorrow to voice my dissatisfaction with Rogers as the next potential Speaker of the House, and I would encourage you to do the same. You can find out who your State Representative is and how to encouarge them by linking here. I remember what it was like when Tom Finneran ran the State House, and I do not wish to return to those days.

InterNOT with Verizon lately...

How many of you have found yourself in the past trying to figure out what is happening with your internet service provider? We have had Verizon Avenue (a subsidiary of Verizon) that serves our apartment complex in the South End. For nearly 5 years we have hardly had an issue but starting two weeks ago, the internet service has become unreliable.

Our internet service keeps dropping for 1+ hours and the only reason provided when I call to ask what is contributing to this problem is that Verizon is having "issues with their equipment". If this was a Ryan Landry satire I would laugh at the entendre but the inconsistency comes after I was told I should sign up for a 6-mos. commitment to Verizon Avenue so I feel like I've been duped.

Anyone else have battle scars dealing with Verizon or Verizon Avenue's internet service? I'm contemplating switching to cable but I'm torn because I don't know what to expect from Comcast internet service.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rise of the new America

Like the mythic phoenix rising from its own ashes, I feel like America is once again reborn. The rise of the new America comes from a feeling that the political landscape is shifting again. The lessons learnt from previous generations are there for us, but this president and our generation are not encumbered by their hang-ups and generational perceptions that have shaped and sometimes shaded political opinion.

Part of this stems from the fact that what it means to be an American and what an American looks like is truly being redefined. The First family is a tangible example of this, but it goes beyond simply black and white. Today's Politico.com has an interesting article "Latinos fight for political recognition" by Gebe Martinez.

In the article Martinez reminds us that Latinos voted 10million strong in the November 2008 presidential election and more importantly, they represent significant populations in key states like Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and California. Martinez points out that "there remains a gap between the power they (Latinos) have earned and the Washington elite's perception of their power." This provides the newly sworn in President (and his party) the opportunity to reach out and work more closely with this important constituency to help empower them. Closing this gap of perceptions is important, because perception can be misconstrued as reality if not called out.

It probably will not be long before we swear in our first Latino president and when that day comes - it will be just as moving because we will have redefined (yet again) what the office of President means and how people relate to that position of power. Obama's swearing in really does signify a dawning of a new day. I hope that we can harness this energy and enthusiasm to continue to engage all Americans and welcome them into the political process. Apathy serves nobody in a democracy.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Snow dumping - isn't it bad for the environment

Is dumping snow into Boston harbor legal?

Wherever you go in the city you see signs cautioning you to think before you potentially dump anything toxic because the sewers lead directly to Boston harbor. Yet all winter long I have watched salted and dirty snow piled high in parking lot across from my apartment on Harrison Avenue dump melted snow into the city's sewers. I understand the problem and empathize with the landlord. GTI Properties has done a magnificent job of turning SOWA from a lonely outpost in the South End to a great neighborhood. However, watching them melt and dump gallon after gallon of dirty snow into the drains to make way for the needed parking must be harmful to the harbor.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

SpeakEasy Stage presents "The New Century"

Starting this past Friday (January 16th) The SpeakEasy Stage opened their latest production, The New Century. The 90-minute show at the Calderwood Pavilion runs through Valentine's Day and is described on the SpeakEasy Stage website as an "hilarious collection of four short gay-themed comedies. A wealthy Jewish matron with at least three gay children, a flamboyant public access TV host and a Midwestern scrapbooker/competitive cake decorator each have their say, then meet, in this outrageous look at where society is headed in the new millennium."

I've purchased tickets for their final performance on Saturday, February 14th. If you have not had the chance to check out the peformance or would like to find out a bit more about the show the SpeakEasy Stage website has a video trailer you can link to view here.

Australian Open 2009

The Australian Open starts today where it is already tomorrow (Monday, January 19th) in Melbourne. The tournament draws the most talented tennis players in the world and is the first Grand Slam tournament in 2009.

The draws for the 2009 tournament can be viewed here.

ESPN2 will be broadcasting most of this tournament again and while they start tonight at 7pm (which is channel 850 in HD if you have Comcast in the Boston area), you can view the complete broadcast schedule by linking here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I see fat people

U.S. statistics now show more than 34% of U.S. adults were obese in 2005-2006, compared with 32.7% who were overweight. The National Center for Health Statistics study, based on a survey of 4,356 adults, said the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled since 1980 while the prevalence of overweight has remained stable.

What is it going to take to reverse this trend in the United States? This is terribly depressing. Obesity affects the quality of life for millions of Americans and their families and leads to illnesses and shortened life spans. Imagine what healthcare costs would look like if this trend was reversed? Sorry for the social commentary, but I am passionate about healthcare and I wish more people were too.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fighting GetMeTheHellOutOfHere Syndrome - damn it is cold!

Holy crap it has been cold in Boston lately, and just looking at the 5-day forecast is making my teeth chatter. At no point over the next five days are we predicted to get above freezing - our high is 30 degrees, and I'll have to wait until Sunday to even see that.

I feel a sudden case of GetMeTheHellOutOfHere Syndrome setting in and it is making me thankful that in two weeks I'll be hopping on a plane to sun myself in Puerto Rico.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Medical Research Project

I spent approximately 4 hours today at Mass General Hospital for my final medical visit for the medical research study program I started back in September. In about a month's time I will receive a full medical report that will describe in detail all the tests that were done and how my body reacted. I look forward to receiving it although I'm unsure how much I will actually understand. I plan on giving it to my doctor to add to my file. Hopefully he'll understand more of what it says.

I was oddly relieved to learn that I was not part of the control group receiving a placebo. I would have really been frustrated with myself if my side affects had all been manifestations of an overactive imagination and self-induced. As it turns out, my testosterone levels had dropped during the study.

The doctor did explain that the Zolladex pellet last injected into my stomach on Christmas Eve day will continue to suppress my body's production of testosterone for 3-4 more weeks and without applying testosterone through the Androgel that had been provided for the study, levels will continue to drop.

I have to admit I have no reservations about having participated in the study and really found the entire process very fascinating, but I am equally relieved to be done and look forward to returning to normal. I had no idea how much the loss of testosterone in my body would affect my metabolism, energy level, sex drive, etc...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Motley to close its doors

I was so bummed to see that Motley will be closing its doors and leaving the South End. The hand written thank you on the storefront windows says it all.

Apparently, the store closing has less to do with the economy and more to do with the owner who has recently moved to Portsmouth, NH to open a B&B. Motley's collectables and garments made it a must visit if you were shopping in the neighborhood. I loved their Jack Spade bags, unique t-shirts and gag gifts. I am sorry to see the store close and hope some young entrepreneur will claim the space before a bank, salon or real estate company grabs the storefront.

Fare Payment

Today, The Boston Globe is reporting that many of the city's taxi cabs will soon be outfitted with backseat touchscreen credit card readers. My response, Amen! Boston taxi drivers rarely accept credit cards and even more rarely seem to have correct change. Most people I know carry credit cards and would prefer to pay with a credit card so they don't need to carry cash or visit an ATM just to pay for a cab ride home.

Boston will follow the lead of NYC and Philadelphia which already have mandates in place for cabs to use this technology. Now if we can just get Mayor Menino to also insist on getting more hybrid taxis on the road we might actually have a fleet of cabs that represents the 21st century.

Monday, January 12, 2009

No wonder we are all so exhausted

Tina Brown has an interesting article posted on The Daily Beast blog today called,"The Gig Economy". In her article she refers to a trend that is being overlooked by economists, which shows that more and more Americans are holding multiple jobs to make ends meet.

What I thought was interesting about this article was that this trend no longer affects just the 'working class', but now is fairly typical for even college-degreed professionals earning more than $75,000 a year. When I met my partner nearly 10 years ago he worked in the service industry and balanced three jobs to make ends meet. About 3+ years ago he started working at a Fortune 500 company in a highly specialized role. When he took the job, he thought that it would mean he would work Monday - Friday focusing on only his new job but he quickly realized that he needed to keep his consultancy business to make ends meet. I have friends who are very successful at recognizeable firms in Boston including, Fidelity Investments, PricewaterhouseCoopers, BlueCross BlueShield, etc.. who all have side jobs that augment their income. Some people do this because they like the diversity or enjoy the extra income the work generates, but Tina's story indicates that for many (and I know these people too) the extra jobs are a necessity due to a decline in real wages and or loss of employment.

This story has really made me stop to think about the implications and what this all means for the real health of our economy. It has also made me pause to wonder just how incomplete a picture our unemployment reports really are providing us. Recently it was reported that the U.S. unemployment rate jumped over 7% (a rate not seen since the first month of the first term of office for President Bill Clinton). What might the job reports indicate if they were to measure real income for all American families?

Once upon a time, there was such a thing as a single-income family. While there are still a few of those out there, nobody would argue that it is quickly becoming a thing of the past. However to have traded the need for a two-income family for a two-income multiple jobs family is a trend that has terrible implications for family and family life.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Relationships are a lot of work

How relationships (mine in particular) can be so maddening and fulfilling at the same time is certainly a mystery. For the past several months, my partner has been under a great deal of stress, and I have struggled to try and support him by listening and offering advice. Unfortunately, even though we have a great relationship, I have not always come across as completely sympathetic even though I am. I chalk up my sometimes callus-sounding responses (to his ears) to my Irish heritage and an emotional disconnect that I cannot explain. Fortunately, we have been together for quite awhile so he does know that I love him deeply and only want to see him happy.

Part of the breakdown in our communication stems from the fact that I am not a psychiatrist and sometimes fail to articulate my feelings in a helpful manner. But in my defense, it is very difficult when you feel powerless to help someone you care about, and lately I've felt completely exasperated. All I can do is offer a sympathetic ear and let him know that I support and love him. However, sometimes that just does not seem to be enough. Do I sound morose? I don't mean to be. I'm just rambling again.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Catherine Tate "Translator"

I love Catherine Tate the English comedian and actress. She is on nearly every show broadcast on BBC.

However, I really love her comedy shows where she plays various characters ranging from the Ulster Mother with a gay son to the Manchester Teenager who is not "bothered".

Here is a video courtesy of Youtube which is a personal favorite.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fox and Friends LOVES Ann Coulter

Just a quick follow up to the news that Ms. Coulter was banned from NBC, which the Drudge Report was first to post yesterday. This morning the hate-spewing siren was on Fox and Friends show. The interview mostly consisted of Ann bemoaning how unfairly she has been treated and how Liberals are to blame for all of the U.S. ills. Co-anchors, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, spent most of their time drooling and praising the conservative pin-up.

On a side note, the Fox "News" show was commenting through out the morning on how to be more tolerant of teasing in schools to teach child how to deal with adversity. Co-anchor, Gretchen Carlson, has shared earlier in the program how she was taunted by children when she was young and called "Goal-Post Gretchen" due to a large gap in her teeth. So as the interview with Ms. Coulter was nearinng its end, co-anchor, Steve Doocy, inquired if she had any nicknames growing up that had caused her distress. The question caught Ms. Coulter off-guard but the best part of the question was Gretchen's quick response, "She's had plenty of names as an adult." Ain't that the truth.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Senator Franken?

Here is a brief clip of the next Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, sparring with Hannibal Lector (a.k.a. Ann Coulter) at a forum in CT in 2007.

Many thanks to Towleroad for this classic.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Images from snowy Provincetown

Provincetown Winter Night

I have just returned from a relaxing few nights in Provincetown where I spent the New Year's holiday with my other half and another couple. I plan on sharing a few pictures from our trip but in lieu of writing what we did I took a stab at expressing myself through poetry. There is no disputing the the final result may indeed embarass me in time when I look back at this entry but I thought I would share this attempt at creative expression.

Provincetown Winter Night

The laughter and sounds of summer are gone
Just an echoing memory 'til next year.

The howling winter winds now own the night
Their screams buffet our house and all you can hear.

Winter's full fury keeps Commercial Street quiet
But in a few months the sun and warmth will return.

And then the crowds will too as they always do
But only after winter has had its turn.