Friday, July 30, 2010

Good going Deval

It's no secret that I am no fan of Gov. Deval Patrick but I am so happy that he will not sign on to the casino deal the legislature came up with! Boston.com is reporting that the proposal to allow for three casinos and two slot parlors is "unacceptable" to Patrick.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Gov. Patrick!!! Hopefully this kills the bill as the legislative session ends tomorrow at 11:59pm and all conference committee reports had to be by 8pm tonight.

Phew (I hope).

Computer woes

This has not been a good summer for my computers. We have two at the house (a laptop and a PC) as well as my work laptop. However, my work laptop got a virus, as did our PC. Then Kevin took tons of keys off the laptop keyboard making it virtually unusable!

But luckily some tech guys at Lynn's work gave us some anti-virus stuff. I installed it today and it cleaned up our PC nicely (knock on wood). It's actually working faster and everything - not bad considering I got it in 2002!

Hopefully now I can work on a project I've been putting off. I am teaching a new AP class this spring (Comparative Government and Politics) and you need to submit a syllabus to the College Board to get it approved and to be able to use the AP label for the class. Our laptop was too slow to really effectively use it and until today the PC was slower than me in a race. But now that it seems to be working a little better, I am going to attempt to get some work on it while the kids are taking a nap.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Losing my vote

The Massachusetts Legislature, in its typical infinite wisdom (sarcasm) passed a bill that would grant the state's 12 electoral votes to the presidential candidate who garners the most votes nationally rather than in Massachusetts. So that means no matter who wins Massachusetts, if the other person wins more votes overall, he or she gets all of our electoral votes.

The good news is this doesn't go into effect until enough other states pass similar bills.

The other silver lining is that if a Republican wins the most votes nationally, Massachusetts will have to give its votes to the Republican! That will be rich.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Saving a buck

First it was Sen. John Kerry who, until he was caught, was evading paying $500,000 in taxes to the state of Massachusetts for his foreign made, out of state docked $7m yacht. Now it is Rep. Barney Frank who apparently made a scene in New York when he could not get a $1 senior discount to a ferry to Fire Island.

Fire Island is, as the New York Post describes, is a "popular gay haunt."

Monday, July 26, 2010

What liberal media?

Remember a couple of years ago when everyone praised the New York Times for releasing details of wiretapping by the NSA? They were heroes to the left and all the moonbats on MSNBC, national security be damned. Now that the same newspaper has leaked classified details about the war in Afghanistan...well, these same people say, gee whiz, maybe they shouldn't have done that. What about national security they say?

The difference? One incident was under Bush, this is under Obama. See the difference?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book update

I finally finished re-reading/reading the books I assigned to my students for summer reading. My AP US History class has to read "Mayflower", "Founding Brothers", and "Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution" while my AP US Government and Politics class has to read "Miracle at Philadelphia" and "Showdown at Gucci Gulch." I've read all of these books before except for "Mayflower" and "Miracle at Philadelphia" but I didn't mind re-reading the others, I always learn something new (especially from the Lincoln book).

So now I am going to read a few books for pleasure. I just started "Sea of Glory" by Nathaniel Philbrick, a book about a naval expedition to the Pacific Ocean and the discovery of Antarctica in the early 19th century. After that I think I am going to read Doris Kearns Goodwin's memoir "Wait Till Next Year", a book about her growing up in New York in the 1950's. I then hope to read "American Colonies" which is about the early years of the colonies. I am pretty weak in early American history so I want to bone up before school starts next month.

Beach, birthday, baptism

Busy couple of days here in the Flaherty household. On Thursday night, we all headed up to Hampton Beach for a couple of nights. We got there around 10pm and because of the excitement and being in a new bed, Kevin did not fall asleep until 1am. Yep. That's not a typo! He actually woke up at 6:30am and at 8am Lynn took him down to the beach. Erin and I headed down about an hour later but we couldn't stay long as high tide was closing in. I did some errands and then Lynn left for work at noon (she worked the 1pm-9pm shift so she could go to the beach in the morning).

At this point I had a decision to make. Kevin slept for 5 hours the night before so I could put him down for a long nap or keep him up all afternoon so he would go to bed early. I choose the latter and we headed back to the beach as the tide was going out. We stayed there from 1pm-4:45pm or so! We got back to the cottage and I fed Kevin and Erin. Kevin was falling asleep on the couch around 5:50pm and I had to keep him up for another hour or so. I had promised him ice cream so we took a ride to the place down the street. We got back to the cottage around 6:30 or so - I put him in bed shortly after that and put on a movie for him and he was out like a light before 7pm! Erin stayed up for another hour or so and I just got to watch TV and read for the rest of the evening. Lynn got back after 11pm (she picked me up some buffalo tenders from the 99 in Seabrook!) and that was that.

We headed to the beach again on Saturday morning but again, high tide was coming in so we couldn't stay long. Lynn had a renter coming in that afternoon at 2pm and she had a lot of cleaning to do so I took the kids home early so she could get things done. We then met her at a birthday party for her co-worker's son in Natick. It rained hard when I got there with the kids but it cleared up later and the kids had fun playing in the backyard (slip and slide, kiddie pool, etc). We got home around 7pm and Kevin was dead asleep about an hour later. It made for a long couple of days and I hit the hay at 9:45pm. I tried to read for a bit in bed but after after a few pages I cried uncle. I turned off the lights, put on the radio but that's all I remember!

This morning I caught the 8am mass at Saint Francis whereas Lynn headed to the 10:30 at St. Kathryn's in Hudson. We then went down to Saint Joseph Parish in Wakefield for the baptism of my cousin's third child, Maximilian. The pastor at St. Joseph is Father Ron Barker who used to be at Saint Patrick's in Stoneham. I used to go to mass there a lot when I lived in Melrose and always liked him. It was nice to see him again. I made some deviled eggs for the party. I've never made them before but we had to leave shortly after Lynn got home from mass so I had to make them. I added some Tabasco sauce, salt, and pepper to the yolks and mayo and then topped them with paprika. They came out great! We're having another family party on Saturday and I said I'd make them again.

Now we're all just taking it easy (except for Lynn, she's out grocery shopping) for the rest of the day. I do think Lynn is going to take Kevin to the sprinkler park here in Dracut later to get him all tired but that's about it. Time for another week. Kevin needs some playtime so he's going to go to his daycare place for two days this week. He doesn't go over the summer but I've noticed he's been a little aggressive at the playground with other kids. I think he needs to spend some quality time with kids. On Wednesday I am taking him to the Museum of Science in Boston along with perhaps our friend Rebecca and her daughter Julia. I haven't been there in years. Actually, the last time I was there I went to the Omni Theatre with Lynn. This was before we dated...I was living in South Boston at the time and I called her one Sunday and asked her if she wanted to do something. She said she couldn't but she then called me back a few hours later to say she did want to do something so we decided to meet at the Omni Theatre. She then invited me back to her place in Stoneham for dinner and later that week I finally asked her out on a real date! Silly girl, she was trapped! Making me dinner sealed the deal although she swears she was just being nice.

No surprise here

So Sen. John Kerry now has a new $7 million boat - that was built in New Zealand and is docked in Rhode Island (so much for helping out American workers, huh Senator?). Now why is his boat docked in Rhode Island? Because they don't tax boats whereas Massachusetts has a 6.25% sales tax in addition to excise taxes. If he did dock it in Massachusetts he'd have to pay $500,000 in taxes (so much for everyone paying their fair share, huh Senator?).

Howie Carr takes on Kerry in a fantastic column today. See it all here but below is a taste:

This is the most amusing story of the summer, by far. Great work, Inside Track. You can tell how devastating it is by the way the Globe is giving it a good leaving-alone, with wire copy. Yes, the Globe, the same dying broadsheet that railed for days about how two small-fry pols named Christy Mihos and Jack E. Robinson were trying to avoid paying their, uh, fair share of taxes on boats that were basically dinghies, at least compared to the Botched Joke.

Of course the difference was Mihos and Robinson were Republicans. Liveshot is one of the Beautiful People. Nothing to see here folks, move along. Filthy-rich Democrats refusing to pay their taxes isn’t news. Just ask Charlie Rangel, or Tim Geithner, or Tom Daschle.

Do as I say, not as I do. Taxes for thee but not for me. Just like when the Kennedys were allowed to file Rose’s will for probate in low-tax Florida, even though she hadn’t left Massachusetts for the last 12 years of her life.

John Kerry was for higher taxes before he was against them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wait a second...which way?

When it comes to matters like abortion or marriage, Democrats (especially Catholic ones) always say that they cannot "allow" their faith to dictate their policy decisions because of the separation of Church and State. However, whenever they talk about issues like the death penalty and immigration, they're Bible thumpers. Take this one from Gov. Deval Patrick on a Globe article on illegal immigrants:

In a written statement, Patrick said immigrants should be treated “the way Scripture teaches us to treat them.’’

Are you kidding me? So now Patrick thinks the Bible should be a guide for policy? So, does this mean he is against gay "marriage?" I think there is something in there about an eye for an eye, I guess the governor is in favor of capital punishment too (for the record I am against capital punishment).

Who knew?

Crashing and burning?

Good news out of the State House - it looks like the House and Senate cannot agree on plans for casinos/slot machines in Massachusetts. The House wants slots at race tracks whereas the Senate does not (Speaker of the House DeLeo has two race tracks in his district so you see why the House is pushing for it). Furthermore, the Senate wants the legislation to dictate where the casinos will go while the House wants some new Gaming Commission to choose. You can bet your bottom dollar that this Gaming Commission will be stacked with hacks and buddies of politicians and businessmen to ensure the casinos go to the "right people."

What a hack DeLeo is. I am so glad this thing may die.

Football at Fenway

The other day, WRKO was offering free tickets to last night's Football (i.e. soccer) at Fenway on Facebook. I figured what the heck and put my name in...and won. I had to pick them up at the WRKO studios in Brighton on Tuesday, the same day we were going to the Ecotarium in Worcester. So we went to WRKO first and then jumped on the Mass Pike and headed to Worcester. I have been to the WRKO studios before actually - a number of years ago I was able to sit in on Howie Carr's show to see them draw the numbers for low number license plates. After the show ended Howie pulled the last number and he got it! People claim it was fixed but I saw it and there did not seem to be any funny business.

Anyway, we got the tickets and then headed to the Ecotarium. I take Kevin (and now Erin) here once a summer (this was our third time). It's a neat little place and Kevin always enjoys it. We got there around 12:30pm and spent about 4 hours there. The Ecotarium has exhibits and games inside that are pretty boring - they have some tanks with turtles and what not, a play area, and interactive stuff. You can tell the exhibits are pretty old as they were sponsored by companies that are long gone - Fleet and Allmerica!

We spent most of the day outside playing with their bubbles, taking a ride on their train, playing in the playground, and looking at the polar bear. Kevin had a great time, so great that he forgot to tell me that he had to poop! He is very good about using the bathroom when he has to go #2 but not this time. After spending some time looking at the sea otters we headed home around 4:30. That evening my friend Andrew Nelson stopped by for a visit and to drop off some gifts for Erin, his goddaughter.

Yesterday I had a meeting at school so my parents agreed to watch the kids for the afternoon. After a few hours at school, I went to my parent's house to wait for Lynn to get there so I could head to Fenway. The kids were asleep when I got there and slept for most of the time I was there! Lynn got there around 6:45pm and I went to Oak Grove to take the T into Boston. I met my sister Meaghan outside the gate an hour later and we headed in. We had great seats, in right field behind one of the nets. We were on the Portugal side and their side was very into the game (much louder than the Celtic fans). The game ended in a 1-1 tie but they had a shootout and Celtic won 6-5 (although officially it was a tie, I think they had the shootout for the benefit of the fans).

Meaghan and I decided to walk to the station that was before Kenmore, the stop for Fenway, to beat the crowd. It worked perfectly and we didn't have to pay as it was one of those outdoor Green Line stops. I got back to Oak Grove around 11:15 and was home a little after midnight. A good night all around.

Selling out

Yesterday the State Board of Education voted to adopt federal academic standards for Math and English, replacing the very successful standards the state already has. Why did they do this? There are 250 million reasons.

The national government has a program called "Race to the Top" where states apply for money to be used for education in their states. Massachusetts' application was denied earlier because we didn't adopt the national standards and because we don't have a teacher evaluation process that was tied to student scores. Now, do you think Deval Patrick is going to risk the wrath of the teachers union by requiring tougher evaluations? Hell no so instead the students have to suffer by changing their standards and hoping that does it.

Joan Vennochi has a great column on this. See it here but below is a taste:

The desperate quest for revenue explains why, from casinos to classrooms, Massachusetts is giving up its uniqueness in favor of that old temptress, cash. It’s one thing to sell your soul for slots, and the jobs that come with them, along with crime and addiction. But gambling on a child’s education?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Using race to divide

I have no idea who Mary Frances Berry is other than what it says under her name (Professor of American Thought and History at U Penn) and that she is black. She wrote on Politico:

Tainting the tea party movement with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. There is no evidence that tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans. But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one’s opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness.

So what she is saying is that it is OK to accuse someone of being a racist even if it's not true so the Democrats can score political points? Are you kidding me? To be fair she doesn't say that she supports this strategy but she seems to. That is complete crap.

Free rides for all

The Boston Herald is reporting today that the state is not asking for folks' immigration status when they apply for state programs such as Medicaid or discount drugs - despite a law being passed that requires just that. This is why people want to storm the State House and throw all these people out. I know someone who is on Medicare and has to pay full price on all of her prescriptions for the rest of the year now to the tune of hundreds if not thousands of dollars. She also has to pay FULL price for dentist visits. However, some illegal from Mexico will get all of the same for 100% nothing. I cannot tell you how many times I've been behind some immigrant at the checkout at Market Basket in Lowell and they pull out their food stamp card. Here I am a full fledged citizen, raising two kids, not making a lot of money as a teacher and I pay for everything while these people come here from another country, don't speak English, and two seconds later are getting free health care and free food from the supermarket. I want to scream.

Anyway, see the Herald article here (make sure you've taken your blood pressure meds first).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day in the city

On the way home from my parent's house yesterday (after an afternoon with the kiddies at the MDC pool in Stoneham) I heard that George's Island just built a new playground. When I got home I checked the ferry schedule and saw that they were free today! So I planned on our 4th excursion into Boston in a week.

The free ferries were part of a program called Free Fun Fridays, weekly free admittance to various places in Boston. Last week when driving from Castle Island to my in-laws in West Roxbury I noticed that the Franklin Park Zoo was mobbed like they were giving away money. Now I know - it was the free location for last week. Next week is the JFK Library.

Anyway, we headed out around 9:15 this morning and went to my parent's house in Melrose. My father dropped us off at Oak Grove T station and we got to Long Wharf after 11am. The ferries were leaving every hour so I figured we'd grab the 12pm ferry. As soon as we got there I saw the sign - all tickets had been given away for all of the ferries. I had a feeling that would happen. But the good news is that I got a voucher for a free ride in the future.

So, we took a walk over to the Aquarium area and I considered taking the kids in. Kevin has been there with Lynn but the line was unbelievably long and the admission price is insane ($21 for adults, $13 for kids). Lynn's work gives discounted passes so we'll go again later this summer. We took a walk across the street and came across a kid's sprinkler area and play area at the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Kevin had some fun getting wet and playing for a bit (as well as a ride on a nearby carousel) and we then headed to Faneuil Hall for lunch. After some pizza at Pizzeria Regina, we jumped on the Green Line at Haymarket and went to the Boston Common. We came across a playground next to the Frog Pond (called the Tadpole Playground) with yet another sprinkler so Kevin played around again for a bit. Kevin wanted to go into the Frog Pond but he was soaked and I didn't have a change of clothes. We then walked over to the Public Garden for a Swan Boat ride. We sat next to a woman from Washington, DC who had lived for a time in Woburn and went to nursing school in Lowell. I was chatting with her about the sights in DC which made me long to go there!

After the boat ride, Erin was all done so we walked over to the Chinatown T stop and headed back to Melrose to get our car. Kevin actually didn't fall asleep until we hit Dracut but he was out like a light until I woke him at 6pm. I had to go to the store to get some stuff for dinner so I had to wake him up.

Another fun day even if it wasn't what I had planned. What to do next!?!?!?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Playing catch up

One of my favorite shows on TV is PBS's "American Experience." They are hour or so long shows on various American history events, people, etc. I had 11 on my DVR that I never got to watch during the school year so I am going to try and watch them all this summer. Last night Lynn and I watched the 1992 one on the Donner Party. Wow, what am amazing episode. The Donner Party was a group of pioneers (87) who moved from Missouri to California in 1846 - however only 46 made it. They were following a short cut they read about but it turned out to be 125 miles longer than the standard route and much more treacherous.

Because of the longer route and various delays, they ended up getting caught in the snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains in October. Dozens of the members of the party died and ended up eating the corpses for food. Come spring, rescue parties were able to save the survivors but some even died en route out of the mountains.
Lynn and I both commented that the episode was very Ken Burns-esque. Well I found out today that this episode was directed by Burns' brother Ric who has the same format as his brother. Ric also directed an amazing "American Experience" episode on whaling. That was just on this spring, it was so, so, so good.

I think the next one I am going to watch is the episode on Dolley Madison. I am currently reading a book on the Constitution, whose "father" is Dolley's husband James so the timing seems right.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My latest addicition

My name is Brian and I am a Used Bookstore Addict. I admit it. Last year I got a number of used books for Christmas from my mother - she got them all from ebay. I never thought about buying used books. I typically only bought new books and only books that I really, really wanted or authors I love (i.e. Joseph J. Ellis). But once I discovered used books I bought more and more of them. Again I only buy books or authors that I really want but the collection is getting bigger, especially since I discovered the Used Book Superstore. They have stores in Nashua, Salem, NH, and Burlington (as well as Danvers and Saugus). They don't always have books I want but sometimes I get lucky.

Today I learned that there is a bookstore right down the street in Lowell. I think it's actually the UMass Lowell bookstore but I'll check it out anyway.

If you're interested in the books I've gotten, check out my Library off to the right of this page.

Unforgivable Blackness

I finally got a chance to see Ken Burns' 2005 film "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson." I admit that I never knew this story and found it incredible powerful but also very sad. Jackson was a black boxer who won the heavyweight title in 1908. He had a hell of a time getting a shot at the title as the defending champion, Tommy Burns, refused to fight a black man. Johnson's victory propelled him to riches and fame...but also to scorn from white people who were angry that a black man was the heavyweight champ. There were riots across America and Johnson was actually blamed for them. Black people were warned not to walk around with their heads held high or with their chests puffed out because a black man was the heavyweight champion. Johnson, however, didn't care what people thought of him and refused to "tone it down" so as not to upset white people. He had, as the title of the film says, unforgivable blackness.

He defended his title a number of times, most famously in 1910 against "The Great White Hope" former champ Jim Jeffries. Since Johnson could not be defeated, people decided to go after him for dating and marrying white women. A law was passed by Congress in 1910 that outlawed taking women across state lines for "immoral purposes." Johnson had done just that when he brought a prostitute to Atlantic City but he did so before this law was passed. The Constitution clearly forbids someone from being charged with a crime that wasn't a crime when the act was committed (ex post facto). Johnson, however, was convicted and he fled the country and lived in Europe for many years. But World War I broke out shortly thereafter and he had little success boxing and making money. He eventually agreed to defend his title in 1915 in Havana and he lost.

Johnson eventually bounced around again but decided that he wanted to go home and he surrendered to US authorities at the Mexican border and he served his sentence. He would never box in any meaningful way again.

The movie was sad because the United States government did everything in its power to find a way to bring Johnson down. The movie discussed the racist movie "Birth of a Nation" being shown at the White House in 1915, much to the delight of President Wilson, his cabinet, and all of the Supreme Court justices. The deck was so stacked against black people.

Anyway, this was the last "short" Ken Burns' movie that I had left to see. I still need to see all of "Jazz" as well as "The Civil War." I've watched a couple of "Jazz" episodes and most of "The Civil War." I plan on watching "Jazz" this summer and I will watch "The Civil War" during the school year.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The old ball game

As I mentioned before, Lynn bought four tickets to yesterday's Futures at Fenway game. We all headed in to Boston along with my father (although Erin stayed with my mother) yesterday morning. We took the T in and got to Fenway in the top of the first inning of the Spinners game. Kevin doesn't sit still very well so Lynn and I had to keep taking turns taking him for walks around the park. At one point when I was with Kevin, Wally the Green Monster walked right by us. I am no fan of Wally as I don't think the Red Sox need a mascot (Wally was booed when he was introduced at a game in 1997) but Kevin loves him (he has a book about Wally that we read all the time). Wally was in a hurry so he didn't stop but he did wave to Kevin. Later we found a Wally statue that Kevin could climb so that was good enough for him.

The floodgates opened in the top of the 7th and the rain kept coming and coming and coming. During the rain delay Kevin and I walked down to the edge of the field (I reached down and touched the dirt in left field) and then to the visitor's dugout. The rain was so bad that we all decided to leave (the Spinners game was called and the second game was cancelled). The walk to the Kenmore T stop was hell as the rain was just pouring. It was actually kind of fun and Kevin kept saying it was like the sprinklers.

We got on a train right away but the Green Line being the Green Line, we had to get off at Boylston station as the train was coming out of service. We got on another train that was going to North Station but that went out of service at Park Street. So, we took the concourse over to Downtown Crossing but that station was flooded and we had to go outside and back in via another entrance (I was wearing sandals and I don't want to know what I was walking in).

Looks like some things never change with the T, huh?

We made it back to my parent's house in Melrose around 4pm and Lynn and I had to dry our clothes in the dryer. After we had some dinner we headed home around 6:45. Kevin fell asleep in the car and slept all night (although he woke up this morning at 6am!).

Today I am going to catch the 10am mass at our parish, Saint Francis, and Lynn is going to go to St. Kathryn's in Hudson, NH at 6:30 tonight. Our church has a 5pm mass but they cancelled it for the summer. St. Kathryn's is an amazing parish that is right over the border in Hudson. I love going there and to be honest, if I knew about that parish when we first moved here I would have joined that parish. It's actually the exact same distance from our house as Saint Francis (10 minutes). For the day I think we're going to meet up with our friend Rebecca and her daughter Julia (her husband Dave has to work today). I am not sure what we're going to do yet but it looks like a nice day to be outdoors.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

True sacrifice?

I admit that I have been following the Lebron James story a lot...my wife is so sick of hearing about it! What's driving me crazy, besides the self promotion, the arrogance, etc., is people saying that James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh "sacrificed" to sign with Miami. They could have each made more money signing with other teams but they wanted to win a championship so they decided to come together in Miami for less money.

In this day and age of 10% unemployment, devastating cuts to social services, for people to say that Lebron James taking $90 m as opposed to $120 m is a "sacrifice" is despicable. These people have no sense of reality. By the way, Florida doesn't have a state income tax so it's all a wash anyway.

I hope the Heat choke this year. James is an expert on that so it should be no problem.

Get thee to a history class

Newsbusters points out that Keith Olbermann surely doesn't know his history. After criticizing Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle for not knowing how many elections Abraham Lincoln lost, Olbermann showed that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Angle said that Lincoln lost "quite a few" elections but Olbermann said Lincoln won 7 of 8 elections. He said that the only race he lost was an 1832 run for the Illinois State Assembly.

Ahem. How did Lincoln get on the national political map? His 1858 contest against Stephen Douglas for the U.S. Senate. Lincoln-Douglas Debates - ever hear of them Keith? Lincoln lost that election but gained national exposure because of the debates which focused on one issue - slavery.

Even so, Newsbusters points out that Lincoln indeed lost a number of other elections so Angle was correct.

It wouldn't be so bad if he didn't arrogantly say, "Sharron Angle, I knew Abraham Lincoln`s won-loss record, and you`re no Abraham Lincoln."

Um, apparently you don't Keith.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Quiet times...

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. Honestly, not much is going on and nothing in politics has gotten me worked up lately.

It has been a week or so of new purchases. Two weeks ago my friend Bill gave us his old TV as ours got fried in our last thunderstorm. I think it got a power surge or something but the dang thing would not go on. Then this week our coffee maker and DVD player kept acting up and the coffee maker finally stopped working and the DVD player would not play DVD's! In addition our door knob hasn't been "working" as it takes forever to get our keys in and once they are in, you have to be the Hulk to get them out. So, Lynn bought a new coffee maker the other night ($23.99 but with a $10 mail-in rebate) and yesterday I bought a new DVD player at Best Buy ($41.99) and a new door knob at Home Depot ($21). Not huge purchases but they add up. Thank goodness we didn't have to buy a new TV. Oh yeah, my work laptop got a virus so I'm without that for the summer and this past Sunday our home PC got one! Luckily we have an older laptop that works.

Today I took the kids down to Castle Island in Southie. Kevin didn't play much on the playground but he did want to try out his new Spider-Man rollerskates. He just stood around in them and walked a little bit to get the hang of it. After that we walked around the island to see the guys fishing and we then headed to Sullivan's for lunch. I had promised Kevin ice cream but the line was too long and Erin was getting fussy so I told him we'd get it elsewhere. He wanted no part of that. "I wanted ice cream at Castle Island" he said! So I parked the car again, got the kids out and we got ice cream. The things we do...

After we took a ride over to West Roxbury to see Lynn's mother who is recovering from knee replacement surgery. She came home on Wednesday and I thought she'd like to see the kids. We stayed for 2 hours or so and then headed home. But before we went home I stopped at the Used Book Superstore in Burlington (I went to the one in Salem, NH yesterday and Nashua last week, I love this place). I got two books, one called "Sea of Glory" by Nathaniel Philbrick (my newest favorite author) and "Wait Till Next Year" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I've been looking for this Goodwin book for months and I couldn't believe that I found it finally.

Tonight Lynn met up with some of her friends for dinner in downtown Lowell. Kevin was exhausted and went to bed very easily (but with some drama). Erin fell asleep for a bit but she is making some noise now so I should go get her. Tomorrow is another busy day - Lynn got tickets to the Futures at Fenway game from a guy at work. This is a double header of two of the Red Sox farm teams and we got box seats. The Lowell Spinners are playing in the first game so Kevin will like that. After the second game you can go onto the field! Lynn got four tickets so her, Kevin, and I are going as well as my father. Erin is going to stay with my mother for the day. Hopefully the rain holds off...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day at the beach

After mass yesterday, we all headed up to Hampton Beach for the 4th of July. Once we got off Rt. 95 and onto Rt. 101 the traffic came to a standstill, we've never seen it that bad. Lynn decided to pull a U-turn and get off at Rt. 27 which brought us to Rt. 1. There was some traffic there too but not as bad as 101.

We went straight to the beach when we got to the house and met up with Lynn's sister Laura, her husband Marc, and their children as well as a few other folks that came up. High tide was coming in quick so Erin and I didn't stay long and headed back to the cottage. Others returned soon after and we all had hot dogs and hamburgers. After some time of hanging out and chatting we decided to head home but first stopped for ice cream. I actually got some lemon slush, I used to eat that all the time growing up and it was as good as I remembered!

The kids melted down on the way home, they were so tired and sick of car rides. They went to bed shortly after we got home and Lynn and I settled in to watch the Boston Pops concert on TV. It was pretty good until their tribute to the Kennedy brothers! I thought that was a good time to take a shower. The Kennedy propaganda was still going after my shower but it was soon over and they got to the good stuff - the 1812 Overture and Stars and Stripes Forever.

I ended the 4th watching "Empire Strikes Back" and part of "Return of the Jedi" on Spike TV. I wanted to stay up for Jedi but could not keep my eyes open.

All in all a decent 4th of July. Today I think we're going to visit Lynn's mother who is in rehab recovering from knee surgery until Wednesday and then to see "Toy Story 3."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wedding bells

Yesterday afternoon, we all headed to my friend Bill's house in Raymond, NH for a wedding. A classmate of mine from college, Robert, was getting married to a girl from Peru. For legal (i.e. immigration) reasons, they could not wait very long to get married so they had to have a civil ceremony before a church one. They were going to get married at Manchester City Hall but Bill offered his backyard. Bill, Robert, and I all went to college together. I was never all that chummy with Robert in college but we lived in the same dorm for a couple of years and we'd talk and I still see him on occasion as he still hangs out with Bill.

I've never been to a wedding presided over by a woman or a non-religious figure but the Justice of the Peace used an old Catholic rite (given to her by couple). I've never actually heard anyone ask the old "Speak now or forever hold your peace" line! There were only a handful of people there - Bill, his fiance Amy, Bill's parents, Amy's parents, and us. We had cake and champagne after and Rob and his wife danced a first dance. It was nice.

After we all just hung out and had pizza, drinks, and Kevin and Lynn enjoyed the pool. Tomorrow is Bill's birthday and since he is Kevin's godfather we got him a present. I got him Nathaniel Philbrick's new book "The Last Stand" which is about Gen. Custer and the Battle of Little Big Horn. Bill loves military history and he liked Philbrick's book "The Mayflower" (which I am reading now) so I knew he'd like it. We headed home around 9pm or so. Erin was asleep before Lynn put her in the car but Kevin stayed awake for the whole ride home!

Today we're all headed to Hampton Beach for the day. Lynn and Kevin are at mass now and I am going to the 10am. I guess we'll head out after that. Tomorrow will be a quiet day as we've done a lot of driving around lately. Lynn has the day off obviously so I think we'll go see "Toy Story 3." Kevin has watched "Toy Story 2" a thousand times so I think he'll be excited to see this one. He's never been to the movies before (well, once when he was a month old!) so it should be interesting.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

God's country

One of my fellow teachers and his wife moved to the Northern New Hampshire town of Bristol last fall and I've been wanting to see the house for sometime. Bristol is actually only about 30 minutes from Concord but it's north of Laconia, Franklin, etc. so it is up there.

So this morning I packed the kids up and we headed north. It took us about 90 minutes to get there after a stop for gas and coffee. John and his wife live off of Rt. 104 (exit 23 off of 93) and they have NO neighbors, it's real quiet. The closest neighbor is about 1/2 mile down the road. We got there around 11am and John gave us a tour of the house and 5 acre property. He bought chickens a few months ago and Kevin had fun chasing after them and, as Kevin called it, "egging" them (collecting their eggs). John also has bees so we saw the hives.

The house was built in 1850 so it's pretty old but it's a quaint country home. John spends most of his time clearing the land, building stuff, taking care of the chickens and bees, etc. He said during the summer he is up at 5:30am and stays outside doing work until 9pm or so. He has a lot of little projects and ideas that will keep him busy for 20 years.

After the tours and feeding Erin we took a ride to Laconia for lunch. We went to a place called Tamarack and John treated. He recommended the lobster roll so I had to take him up on the offer! Dang was it good. The kids fell asleep on the way there but it was an outdoor place so they just stayed in the car as we ate (although Erin did wake up eventually).

After lunch we headed back to John's to feed Erin and we then headed out as John needed to do some errands. John sent us home with 2 dozen eggs, a jar of his honey, and some soap he makes!

Kevin hadn't eaten lunch yet so we went to a store where I got him some chicken tenders and then to a delicious ice cream store.

All in all it was a great day in the country!