Sunday, August 30, 2009

I have several friends who love waking up early.  They enjoy a morning ritual that I'll never understand nor want to mimic. By contrast, I never really feel my best until my work day has concluded and even if I don't go out regularly, I stay up probably later than I should. 

Sadly, Boston is an early to bed - early to rise kind of town. I think it has something to do with their maritime heritage and Yankee sensibilities which give us ridiculous sayings like "the early bird catches the worm". Yuck, I hate worms... I would rather stay up and hear the voices from friends enjoying a late night conversation over a bottle of wine at a restaurant or from an open window in an apartment. However, as I walked home from Backbay tonight, there was no hushed conversation to be overheard - actually, there was hardly another soul in sight.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My quest to find a husband

A very good friend of mine is giving love another try... what I mean by this is that she has decided to be more proactive and attempt to find true love over the next 365 days. To maintain her focus, provide an insight into what it is like to be a single woman living in Boston and to record and share her stories (humorous and otherwise) she has created a blog called My Quest to Find a Husband. The blog boldly states "I have made pact with myself to do everything I can, within reason of course, to find a husband within the next year!"

Thus far there has been no dating drama shared - I suppose she needs to go on a date for that to happen. However, her first few entries showcase her wit and self-deprecating nature assuring the blog will be an easy read for anyone who visits the site. So far she has written about an evening out with girlfriends at a restaurant she favors (check out the embarrassing wardrobe malfunction of sorts that happened to her), pseudo-stalking at the gym, and online dating frustration (which knowing my friend seemed very restrained) we'll see how long that lasts.

Check out the blog - I'll have to be sure to share with my friend the vlog that I posted late last night about dating etiquette (immediately below this entry).

Dating etiquette

I stumbled across this video from WGB. What an absolute riot. This 8+ minute vlog about dating etiquette is worth the watch. If you're single and frustrated with dating or just curious, check it out. I thought it was funny, but then again it is 3:00am so maybe I'm just getting punchy. However, I'm fairly certain that come tomorrow, I'll still find this pretty funny.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Flashback Friday: The Kennedy's

Looking back at my past few posts the balance that I usually try to maintain with regards to subject matter and interests seems to be quite lopsided. The debate about healthcare and politics in general account for several of my most recent entries. This week’s flashback is no exception. In light of the recent death of Ted Kennedy, I wanted to post this photograph of Ted, Jack and Robert.

I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to shake Senator Kennedy’s hand and thank him for his work in the U.S. Senate. In 2008 I was also able to hear him speak when I attended the Fenway Health Community “Men’s Event” and Senator Kennedy accepted the Gerry Studds Award. His speech that night to the sold-out crowd of 1,300 (mostly gay men) was inspiring because of the passion he showed for a cause which he did not need to champion but did so with gusto because of his conviction that GLBT rights were worth fighting for.

Sen. Kennedy was a political giant, but he was also part of the political landscape here in New England and in particular in Massachusetts. For as long as I’ve been alive (longer actually) he has been the state’s senator. It is strange to miss someone whom I did not know and who has such an incredible legacy. Unlike his three older brothers, his life saw tragedy but was not tragic – anything but actually.

Sorry for all the recent melancholy. I do promise to inject more humor and diversity into my future posts.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The dream shall never die

"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."
Sen. Kennedy, 1980 Democratic National Convention, NYC

Senator Kennedy's fight with cancer made news of his passing this morning less of a surprise than it might have been otherwise. However, it does not make his death any less bitter or sad for someone like myself - a proud, self-proclaimed liberal.

Regardless of ideology, Sen. Kennedy will be recalled as one of the most influential politicians of the 20th century. He authored more than 2,500 bills in the United States Senate - of which, several hundred became public law. I've listed some of the more recognizeable bills.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act of 1990
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997

Civil Rights
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Title IX of the Higher Education Act 1972
Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978
Civil Rights Act of 1991
Civil Rights Act of 2008

Note how Kennedy's 1980 speech even then addressed concerns for reforming our nation's healthcare system, "I will continue to stand for a national health insurance...We must not surrender...Let us insist on real controls over what doctors and hospitals can charge, and let us resolve that the state of a family's health shall never depend on the size of a family's wealth."

You can read the full transcript or listen via audiofile online at American Rehtoric
Kennedy's life (photos)
Kennedy's life (timeline)
Beyond Camelot: His shining moment endures

Monday, August 24, 2009

What is a "Public Option"?

I stumbled across this video clip on Modern Fabulosity, a blog I enjoy reading, which generally focuses on pop culture.

The clip explains the positive impact a public option would have on the healthcare system. I think anyone who reads this blog (especially lately) would recognize how much I am in favor of improving the current system so keep in mind my personal bias. If this clip helps you understand the benefits of a public option, please feel free to steal, swipe, or share with others.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Flashback Friday: Tip O'Neill

For 10 years starting in the late 70s and running through the late 80s Speaker Tip O'Neill an Irish-Catholic from the streets of Cambridge, MA dominated the U.S. House of Representatives. He became extremely powerful because he was able to break (or cause gridlock) in the House. However, his ability to work with anyone and get legislation passed was what helped build his legacy.

Nancy Pelosi has earned her place as Speaker and she certainly is fluent in partisan-speak (as was Tip). However, she has yet to learn the nuanced voice of restraint and bi-partisan dialog, that made men like the former Speaker O'Neill giants in Washington, D.C.

With healthcare reform and the President seemingly under seige, it makes me yearn for the deft political ear and approach this political giant brought to bear while working with three Presidents (two of them Republicans).

Tip O'Neill happened to live and serve in a state transfixed by the Kennedy aura (I am one of them), but he deserves his own place in history as one of the longest serving Speakers (1977-1987), an effective legislator and a champion of social causes and justice.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Healthcare hoopla part II

Representative Barney Frank a Democrat from MA has long been reviled by many conservatives. Like most members of Congress, Frank can be quite pompous and downright arrogant. However, unlike most members of Congress, Frank also has brass balls, is not afraid to speak his mind and is exceptionally intelligent. His left leaning bias aside, the so called "Blue Dog" Democrats and other moderates would do well to take notes on how Rep. Frank handled himself at a recent town hall.

Near the end of the Town Hall a woman stepped to the podium and asked, "Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?" Frank handled this exchange in much the same way many of those who are disrupting other town halls should - directly and by calling them out for what they are - hateful rhetoric not based in truth, fact or reality.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pho Republique is leaving the South End - it is confirmed.

Last night I grabbed a bite to eat at Pho Republique - a south end restaurant which has stood the test of time both in its longevity and its ability to distinguish itself. This southeast Asian restaurant really has no equal in the neighborhood and is one of my absolute favorites. I regularly order take out from them so you can imagine how sad I was to learn that the owner has decided to close at the end of December and relocate.

Although there is an outside possibility that Pho will remain in the South End, the general concensus from the staff was the owner wants to relocate in Cambridge. A larger space that can also provide live music is what they want. Apparently the Bombay Club a cambridge-based restaurant will go into Pho's space, which I suppose is good news because I would hate to see the location vacant for long, but I'll definitely be sorry to see Pho go.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The image I've included in this entry shows what the MBTA subway and commuter rail system look like today. Click on the image to enlarge if you like. However, John Keith over at Boston Real Estate Blog wrote about a website called this past Friday, which I thought was pretty cool.

The website envisions a public transportation system for Boston as it should be, not as it is. If you have some opinions on the matter, the site owner is including reader suggestions on how to expand the system. It is worth checking out. Some of the suggestions are very interesting.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Flashback Friday: Concerts on the Commons

Do you recall the summer concert series that use to take place on the Boston Commons?

My very first concert was at the Concert on the Commons. It was Friday, June 29, 1984 and the headliner that night was the Go Go's with a relatively new band from Australia named, INXS, as the opening act. The Go Go's were promoting their new album, Talk Show, and INXS was promoting their album, "The Swing". I was in 8th grade at the time and was accompanied by two of my closest friends, Brian Northridge and Tom Kane. We were driven into the city by Tom's super cool aunt and her boyfriend at the time who were in college.

The concert would be the first of many live shows I would go see and indicative of the 'new wave' movement which I would be swept up in through the remainder of the 80s.

I've looked all over for images of and references to the Concerts on the Commons, and I wish I could find archived photographs that I could share but sadly I've not. Do you recall this summer concert series in the heart of the city? Did you go and see any shows on the Commons?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

JetBlue offers $599 all-you-can-fly deal

If you are a travel-aholic you might like this deal from JetBlue. The Boston Globe is reporting if you buy a JetBlue all-you-can-jet pass for $599 between now and next Friday (Aug. 21) you can fly anywhere the airline goes from Sept. 8 to Oct. 8, and there are no blackout dates. Sadly work will keep me too busy to leverage this deal, but it does sound sweet.

Restrictions do apply, for example flights must be booked no later than 1:59 a.m. EDT three days before the flight's scheduled departure and the tickets are nonrefundable and nontransferable. Taxes and fees for international and Puerto Rican flights are not included, but even so it is still a pretty good deal. You can read the rest of the fine print here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What American accent do you have?

Once upon a time, I spoke like Matt and Ben in "Goodwill Hunting". However, spending 3 years in Atlanta, GA after college beat most of the Boston accent out of me. I spent most of the first year in Atlanta repeating myself endlessly because people could not understand what I was saying to them.

Word choices like "tonic" meaning soda or talking about my cahhhhh perplexed and confounded everyone I met. Eventually I subdued my accent (although it can manifest at the most inconvenient moments).

I thought it was interesting that although the quiz notes I have a "midland" accent - the next most likely accent was from Boston. Take the quiz and let me know your results.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying, "you don't have an accent."

The West
North Central
The Northeast
The Inland North
The South
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Cheers - The Boys in the Bar

Here is a funny clip from a show I watched back when I was a kid. I don't think I saw this episode of Cheers which was probably from the first season since it pre-dates Woody and still has Coach as the bartender.

Very funny to watch. Thanks to Gay Guy / Straight Guy for posting it on their blog.

Healthcare hoopla

A lot of news has been made of late about angry mobs shouting over each other at "town hall" style meetings between Senators and their constituents. Although I can understand someone's distrust of government and be wary of entitlement programs, I don't particularly understand the logic of what is being said. Concerns I hear repeatedly run something like this.
1) I don't want my health insurance to change.
2) A national insurance plan by the gov't. will kill private insurance
3) I don't want the government in the healthcare business

Let's talk about each of these concerns individually.
1) For people who are happy with their health insurance through their employer, they need not worry. An estimated 160million people receive medical coverage this way. This is commonly referred to as dual-payer system; meaning an employer and an employee jointly contribute to the medical benefits. An example of a single-payer system is what exists in Canada or the U.K. Nobody in the Obama administration has proposed a single payer system. Ironically, candidate John McCain espoused a single-payer model based on tax cuts for businesses. He felt that if businesses no longer had to provide medical benefits it would make them more competitive and this responsibility should fall on the shoulders of the individual / family.

2) There is a concern that if the federal government offers a public insurance plan that private insurers will go away. However, this fear is untrue. The State of MA has created something called "The Connector" which allows people who do not qualify for or receive insurance from their employer to select insurance plans that are government regulated. Private insurers plus government plans are included and since MA passed universal coverage in 2006 - the private insurers in the state have benefitted significantly. With near universal coverage they've seen their enrollment numbers rise - something I believe that is unique and not been seen in 49 other states where each year more people lose coverage or drop it because it is no longer affordable.

3) Government is already in the healthcare business and if one is to believe polling done by the elderly - they are very positive about their coverage and choice in the Federal Medicare program. This does not mean there is not waste in this program or that it is perfect, but if you know someone over the age of 65 who is no longer working - they receive Medicare. Ask them if Medicare should go away or if they are unhappy with their coverage.

Last year, not long after I joined my firm, we published a report that claimed more than $1.2 trillion of the $2.2 trillion the US spends on healthcare each year is wasteful. For sure much can be done in the area of payment reform and streamlining procedures. This is in part what the Obama administration is trying to accomplish by reforming the system. However, the bulk of that waste is directly attibuted back to the consumer. Meaning that you and I are the biggest reason healthcare costs continue to spiral. Attributing poor decisions about our health and our slow nature to respond to health concerns as the biggest driver of cost.

There is plenty to be mad about with regards to health reform and everyone has the right to be heard. But there is a big difference between shouting nonesense and having an honest gripe. If people don't want reform - that is a valid perspective, but keep in mind that healthcare costs in 2010 are estimated to rise by more than 9% - nearly 3 times the rate of inflation. Also keep in mind that by nearly every measure in quality and cost the US comes in either last or near the bottom as compared to every other industrial nation. To do nothing is to be satisfied with failure in my opinion.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

That's Gay: Commercials

Also available to watch on, this two minute clip shows how homosexuality is depicted (sometimes as the pun of a joke and other times quite subtley) in advertising. Pretty humorous and worth the watch. I've also included a link to the Levi's commercial referenced at the end of the clip if you've never seen it before. As far as I'm aware this was only broadcast on Bravo and Logo.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Heading out of town...

I'm off to NYC to catch a show and to hopefully see the Red Sox put an end to their losing streak. I have not been to the city for fun since I spent new years eve in the big apple two years ago. Work has brought me there with some frequency, but it is quite different when going solely for fun. No more blogging or entries until after I return.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Outsourcing friendships

Are you overburdened with personal commitments and saddled with needy friends who require more time than you have to offer?

Now you can outsource these friendships to India. Fortunately Prakash is more than willing to fulfill the role as BFF. Feel free to dial 401-285-0701 and forward this to your needy and much neglected friends.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Volunteering your way to a job

The Boston Globe has an article in today's paper, Volunteering your way to a job. Although there is a lot of work to be done when you are first unemployed (i.e. getting your resume in order, applying for unemployment, etc...), if you are organized and efficient, you can conduct an effective job search in just a few hours each week.

When I was laid off in 2001, making myself available and keeping busy was essential. After being unemployed for a couple of months, I realized I needed to shake-up my routine so I turned to the AIDS Action Committee of MA (AAC) to volunteer Tuesday - Friday from 10:00am - 4:00pm in the development office.

I initially approached AAC for selfish reasons as a tech lay-off but my time at this wonderful health and human services non-profit paved the road and redirected me to a career in healthcare. Without realizing it, I was making excellent connections and more importantly, I was re-training myself. Too often people assume learning and career training needs to take place within a classroom, but that is simply not true.

Bathroom poet

Earlier this week I had to pay a visit to the bathroom while I was having dinner at the Beehive and although this is not the first time I've read this particular haiku, I did think it was funny to see it scrawled at eye-level in front of the urinal. I am more accustomed to seeing various graffiti, the random phone number or epithet.

Haikus are easy
but sometimes they don’t make sense

What is an haiku? An haiku is a form of Japanese poetry, consisting of 17 syllables in three metrical phrases of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.

Boston ranks 3rd in pay-raise survey

In an article published today by the Boston Business Journal, the non-profit researcher, World at Work, ranked Boston employers third-highest in a study on expected pay raises within major metro areas. Washington, D.C. took top honors in local business pay raises (no surprise since the government never is short on cash). Boston and Tampa tied in the survey where the average raise is expected to be 2.3%.

On the downside, the 2009 increase is the smallest in the survey’s history and 1.7 percentage points below the 3.9% that had been projected in the previous year’s report. And then there is the depressing fact that the MA unemployment rate is hovering around the 9% mark.

You can read the full article here.

OMG - Le Viaduc de Millau

As a self-proclaimed travel nut, my journeys have taken me to Europe many times, but I've always travelled by plane or train. However, the Millau Viaduct, which is located in southern France and is part of the new E11 expressway that connects Paris and Barcelona might just tempt me into renting a car to enjoy driving over the tallest vehicular bridge in the world.

Interestingly, the Millau Viaduct is built with a slight curve because a straight road could induce a floating sensation as you drive across it. The curve adds a sense of elegance in the picture and really does look as if it is floating in the sky. Would you drive across this 8,000' long bridge? I would not want to be stuck on the bridge if there were high winds or inclement weather but on a beautiful day it must be absolutely spectacular.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The comedy of errors opens

This was the opening weekend for Shakespeare on the Commons, an annual tradition put on by The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. This year's play is The Comedy of Errors, a tale of mistaken identity among two sets of twins.

Each year these free performances introduce a new generation to a classic play from William Shakespeare and offer families and friends a fun and affordable evening out in the city. I wish the weather in New England offered more opportunities like this.

Show your support for Boston's local theater scene and bring a friend or two with you to enjoy this performance. The Commonwealth Shakespeare Co. deserves their accolades, but it is the crowds that come each year, which makes all their toil worthwhile. Performances run through August 16th; Tuesday thru Saturday at 8pm and Sunday's at 7pm.