Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's all about the kids, right?

So it seems the Chelmsford Teachers Union hasn't had a contract for 16 months. So, to send a message to the School Committee, the teachers are refusing to post assignments on the school's intranet site as well as refusing to organize field trips. Thus, a planned trip to Quebec is in danger.

This despite the fact that the teachers make on average $64,915, up over $12,000 in five years. What a bunch of selfish, self-loathing, hypocrites. They claim they're all for the kids but not unless their pockets are getting lined. And in the end, they take it out on the kids themselves. Now you know why I teach in Catholic schools...and why I am voting yes on questions 1 and 3.

Vote yes on 3

Question 3 on Tuesday's ballot asks voters if they want to reduce the state sales tax from 6.25% to 3%. There are ads all over TV saying the sky will fall and children will be reduced to eating sawdust for lunch. But the reality is, the state has plenty of money, they just choose to spend it on hacks and pensions.

Margery Eagan of the Herald agrees:

I’m voting for Question 3 because I’m tired of bleeding-heart do-gooders begging for legitimate programs but lacking the courage to say why their programs are always threatened. It’s to scare people. It’s also because funding Beacon Hill, friends of Beacon Hill, and certain wired unions matters more to Beacon Hill than any program. Otherwise, when times get tough, legislators would not take a 5 percent pay raise (they did) or keep their outrageous per diems (gas money to drive to work).

It’s small change but a huge symbol. It says it all, actually.

The reason we’re broke has to do with government patronage, pensions, health care and early retirement. The lucky ones make it to 80, even 90. And in between they go back to work at second or third government jobs and collect still another government salary on top of the pension they’re already collecting.

Our fearless leaders tell us voting yes on Question 3 is totally irresponsible. OK. They want responsibility from voters? Let them show some first.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Open minded...unless you vote Republican

Liberals fall all over themselves to demonstrate their tolerance and open minds...except to Republicans. Take the union worker whose son is in the Navy and serves on the USS George H.W. Bush. He wore a sweatshirt and hat about the ship to a job at an Obama rally and he was told to take it off or be fired. He refused as it wasn't a political statement, just a shirt and a hat upon which his son serves our nation. Either way, he was asked to leave.

Now, to their credit the union is now eating crow but this is just another example of liberals preaching to all of us about we need to accept the views of others...but they won't do the same.

Shocked, shocked I tell ya

What a surprise - the Boston Globe today endorsed every single Democrat running for the House of Representatives in Massachusetts. If they do the same with the state races, then they can no longer say they don't carry water for the Democratic party. They preach that there has to be balance in politics but all they do is endorse Democrats. They are pathetic and so predictable...and moving more and more to irrelevancy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lots to do

I thought with the summer over that events at the state parks would slow down. Nope - lots still going on. The following event this Saturday night at Harold Parker State Forest in North Andover especially caught my eye:

The full moon has been a vital and revered part of many cultures for centuries. The significance of each full moon, every 28 days on average, was important in tracking the seasons and important events during the year. Come and view the full moon in this informative and fun program, appropriate for children. Learn the names of the moons for different cultures and their origins. The program begins ½ hour before moon rise. Program includes explanation of moon phases and moon cycle, viewing of the Full Moon with binoculars, as well as night time activities. All children must be accompanied by an adult. We'll have a fire and roast marshmallows. Come and join us! Meet at the Headquarters at 305 Middleton Rd. Call (617) 828-1728 for more information

Kevin loves science (although he doesn't know it's science), including space, telescopes, binoculars, the Museum of Science, etc. In fact, he wants to be a diver for Halloween. Not a fireman, not a movie character...a diver. Anyway, he will love this event (as will I). The roasting of the marshmallows is the icing on the cake. We were doing this last Saturday up at my friend's John's house and Kevin was loving it.

This one at Upton State Forest also caught my eye:

Registration 12:45, Hike 1:00 PM Join us on this free, moderate, two-hour+ hike as we discover places within Upton State Forest used or built by men of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Will include interpretation of the Camp and site, water holes, stone steps, picnic area and vista site. Our destination is Dean Pond, created by a dam impounded by the CCC enrollees. Hear stories told in interviews. Learn about the legacy left to the MA park system. Short option offered. Heavy rain cancels. Dress for the weather. Wear appropriate shoes. Don’t forget water, sunscreen and insect repellant. Liability waiver required for all, parent must sign for children under 18. Out of consideration for those fearful of or allergic to dogs please do not bring pets. Discovery hikes sponsored by Friends of Upton State Forest and Upton Open Space Committee. Questions: friends@friendsofuptonstateforest.org or 508-529-6610 Notification of cancellation: uptonopenspaceevents@charter.net

I am very interested in the history of the CCC and would KILL to go to this one. We shall see.

Defending the hacks

One of the most despicable members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives is James Fagan of Taunton. This was the guy who, during a 2008 debate on Jessica's Law, said:

"I'm gonna rip them apart," Fagan said of young victims during his testimony on the bill. "I'm going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined, that when they’re 8 years old, they throw up; when they’re 12 years old, they won’t sleep; when they’re 19 years old, they’ll have nightmares and they’ll never have a relationship with anybody.”

Now he has come out passionately defending the hacks the right to have 13 holidays a year. 13! How many paid holidays do you get? I am guessing 9 if you're lucky. But Fagan sees no problem with state employees getting 13 days off, including Bunker Hill Day and Evacuation Day. Add this to their sweet pensions, insurance for life, vacation days, sick days, etc, etc, etc.

During his defense of these holidays in a recent debate, he got his history all messed up. He called the Battle of Bunker Hill the first battle of the Revolutionary War and said Henry Knox was the first "treasurer." For the record, the first battle of the war was Lexington and Concord and Knox was the first Secretary of War.

Get this guy out.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day in the country

One of my colleagues lives in Bristol, NH, a town north of Laconia. He invited us up to his place today for a sort of Harvest Festival and to enjoy the fall in the North Country. John lives on a hill called Peaked Hill and the colors and the views of the surrounding area are stunning.

We made it up there around 1:30pm. It was actually kind of cold and windy but it was a great fall day. He had tons of food (including very meaty and tasty pork ribs), lots of land, and a great fire pit for making smores. We left around 8pm and were home before 9:30pm. We all had a great fall day, the kind I live for.

Tomorrow I am going to the Patriots game with my friends Dan and Dave. Dan has season tickets and he invites me every now and then. I am going to get up early and go to the 7am mass at St. Michael's in Lowell and then get Dan at his place in Southie. We'll then drive over to Dave's house in Roxbury and we'll take his car to Foxboro.

Fun times.

Say again?

I was reading an article tonight on President Obama's visit to Boston and read this at the end:

Afterward, Obama traveled to West Newton for a fundraiser at the home of Caritas Cristi CEO Ralph de la Torre that raised about $900,000 for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. It is charged with electing party members to the U.S. Senate.

The president is counting on a Democratic Senate to pass the remainder of his first-term agenda. Both it and a Democratic House are in jeopardy in next month's midterm elections.

Meanwhile, de la Torre has been counting on local Democrats from Attorney General Martha Coakley on down to back the $895 million proposed sale of six Caritas Catholic hospitals to Cerberus, a for-profit, private equity firm.

Um, am I the only one concerned about the head of the Catholic hospitals in Boston raising money for Democrats?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Into your hands...

Please pray for the repose of the soul of the father of one our students. He tragically died of a heart attack the other night coming home from hockey practice. He leaves behind his wife, seven children (most of whom went to my school), his parents, and many other family members. I taught two of his children over the years but unfortunately never met him.

May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

21 years later...

Nice story in the Globe about a Massachusetts man who hiked the Appalachian Trail over a period of 21 years! Each year, Jim Haskell would hike 100 miles. This piecemeal hike of the AT is called Through-Hiking. Lynn and I talked briefly about maybe Through-Hiking the Massachusetts portion of the AT (about 90 miles) when the kids are older.

Anyway, it's a nice story, you can see it here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blowhard, my name is Tierney

Get a load of U.S. Rep. John Tierney in this "debate" with his Republican opponent Bill Hudak. Granted Hudak is a wingnut but Tierney comes off as a rude, boor here.

Keller's take

Jon Keller of Channel 4 has a fantastic take on the governor's race as the countdown to Election Day begins. You can see it all here but below is a taste:

Candidate Patrick - then as now - promised to eschew partisanship, to be governor of "all the people," but in hindsight it seems Democratic dominance became his political security blanket. After all, the Patrick organization still had all those e-mail addresses from the superlative 2006 organizing effort (even though the campaign website, touted as a key portal for "reinventing" the way government interacts with citizens, was left fallow until recently), his pal Barack was in the White House, and the Massachusetts Republican Party was hapless and broke. What, me worry?

But then Scott Brown broke that spell. In the middle ages, the death of a local prince would often touch off a period of unrest and rebellion among the peasantry. It seems Ted Kennedy's passing was one of those moments. The grotesque charade of changing the succession law, and the crude nature of the anti-Brown campaign made the surviving members of the Democratic establishment look weak, scared and dirty. It was brave and polite of Patrick to stand at Martha Coakley's side as she delivered her concession speech, but it wasn't politically smart. I bet more than a few TV viewers saw that image and made a mental note - you're next.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Almost there

Now the fun begins. Election Day is three weeks away and if the polls are to be believed, it's going to be ugly for the Democrats. I don't think it will be as bad here in Massachusetts, however. Some pre-game thoughts:

I predict that Deval Patrick will hold on to the corner office and all 9 incumbent Democrats running for the House will re-elected. Jeff Perry will most likely be the sole Republican victor, picking up the open seat in the 10th CD. I think Steve Grossman will win the Treasurer post (shudder) but Mary Z. Connaughton will pull off the Auditor's race. Martha Coakley will be re-elected Attorney General easily. I hope I am wrong about all the Democrat victories. I did say that Coakley would beat Scott Brown so I have been wrong.

Locally, I think Barry Finegold will win the open state Senate seat but boy do I hope Republican Jamison Tomasek pulls off an upset. I've met Tomasek and he's a good guy and will do a hell of a job. I believe that long-time state Rep. Colleen Garry will get be re-elected, beating Republican George Boag and Incumbent Matthew Sheehan. I like all three and really wouldn't mind any of them getting elected.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Berkshire fun

Yesterday we took a ride to the Berkshires to see the sights and sounds of fall in one of my favorite areas in the state. We got started later than I planned and we took about a 30 minute rest for food and changing in Greenfield so we didn't get to our first location until noon. We first went to Savoy Mountain State Forest in Florida. We stopped at a trail that I heard about, Busby Trail, and decided to hike it. I didn't plan on doing much hiking but in talking to people there the views at the top were worth the hike. So we went for it. I was nervous driving into this park as we were on dirt roads and there was no one around. But there were a number of cars at the trailhead and a lot of people out hiking.

I didn't have my cell phone so I don't know how long it took us to get to the top but all told, it took us 3 hours to hike up, spend time at the top, and then hike down. Kevin kept stopping, getting distracted, wanting to be carried, etc, etc. But all in all, he was a real trooper. The hike wasn't all that bad but as you got closer to the top it got very steep. Luckily there were rock formations that were just like steps so you just walked up. Once at the top the views were indeed stunning. Right across the valley was Mt. Greylock and below us was the town of Adams. All around us were the hills and mountains of the Berkshires - amazing. I will admit that I was very nervous as there's not a lot of room at the top and if you went over the edge, you were going all the way down. I would have been fine alone with Lynn but with Kevin I was very scared. So I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have but I did like it a lot. I found this picture on-line of some family who hiked to the top in the 1970's - gives you a sense of the views. According to the trail map the elevation is 2,566 feet which is a decent hike for a family with 2 little ones.

From here we headed around the mountain to Mt. Greylock. We had just been there in August but Kevin never got his stamp for his passport book. So since we were here we figured we'd get it (I realized the stamp box was right in plain sight so I could have gotten it last time, I thought it was inside the visitors center which, because we were there late, was closed last time we were there). We got the stamp and then drove up to the top. It was much more crowded than the last time we were there but this time, Bascom Lodge was open (last time there was a wedding taking place so it was closed to the public). There isn't much to it - a big open area, a room in the back with tables, bedrooms upstairs, and a dining area. Lynn fed Erin while Kevin and I walked around. After, we all walked to the lookout, directly across from where we were earlier in the day! It was pretty windy and cold so we didn't stay too long. Kevin and I were sitting on the slope admiring the view of the east end but Lynn wanted to head out. Lynn and Erin went back to the car while Kevin and I meandered back. We walked on the Appalachian Trail for a few seconds and checked out a shelter that hikers can use in case of emergency. I saw a ranger on our way down and stopped for a sticker for Kevin's passport book. He didn't have one but he said he'd mail one to Kevin this week.

We took a different road to the bottom, this one to North Adams and Rte. 2. It was getting dark by this point so we decided to begin making the way home. There was a 99 restaurant right where we stopped earlier in Greenfield so we stopped there for dinner (we were all starving as we completely missed lunch, all we ate during the afternoon were Cheez-its and apples). Thankfully the food came very quickly and Kevin was on his best behavior. I inhaled my food, as did Kevin (well, most of his) and he topped his meal off with an ice cream sandwich.

We got home around 10pm and I fell asleep on the couch a little while later. We didn't see as much as I wanted but I was very happy that we did a nice hike, it was very rewarding.

Today I am going to take the kids to Hopkinton State Park and Cochituate State Park. I wouldn't normally be going there but Kevin needs stamps from these last two parks to get a t-shirt for going to 12 of the participating parks in the DCR's Northeast Region! To be fair, he only saw 11 of them. I went to Lawrence Heritage State Park alone with Erin - it's a history park so he wouldn't have liked it. Lynn, I think, is going to stay home and do some stuff around the house.

I have a ton of work to do tonight, I can't believe how many papers I have to correct. Thankfully we have testing on Wednesday so I can get a ton done then too. Tonight I also have to watch "Meet the Press" for my Government class (they watch it every week and we discuss it on Mondays) as well as the first episode of "God in America", a 3-part series on the history of religion in the United States.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Week from heaven

What a great week. From Sunday to Wednesday, I was part of a team visiting Arlington Catholic High School as part of their decennial NEASC accreditation. I got to my hotel in Burlington on Sunday around 3pm and met the team about an hour later. The team was a mix of teachers and administrators from private (mostly Catholic) schools from all over New England. At 5pm, we were driven to the school for a tour and a wonderful dinner of steak and scallops in the gym. The guy sitting next to me didn't like scallops and gave his to me! After dinner we went back to the hotel for a meeting and then off to bed by 11:30pm or so.

We had breakfast each morning in the hotel (I ate at 6am before taking a shower) and then carpooled to the school at 7am. We then spent the entire day at the school meeting teachers and students, sitting in on classes, going through their documents, etc. We would also spend time writing individual reports and working with others on our observations. We spent Monday and Tuesday night going over our reports and thoughts. On Wednesday morning we wrapped up the reports, went over them one last time, voted on our recommendations and we were done by 11:45am on Wednesday.

While I can't say much about my thoughts and vote as the reports haven't even been presented to the school or NEASC, I can say that I had a wonderful experience at the school and everyone was very welcoming and generous. I grew up in nearby Melrose so it was a sort of homecoming with the thick, thick Boston accents, talking to folks from Medford and Malden, etc. There is a Social Studies teacher there named Mr. Flaherty and he joked with the kids that I was his long lost son and he's been looking for me for years. He told them that I stopped talking to him after he suggested I become a teacher. Too funny. I had a wonderful conversation with him during the week. He spent 40 plus years in Boston and Belmont public schools and came to AC after he retired.

It was back to work on Thursday. It was nice to know that people knew I was gone, kids I don't even have in class were asking where I was. My first and last period classes clapped when I walked in the classroom.

We had no classes yesterday but rather we all went to St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Dover, NH for a conference on Catholic education. The speaker was Sr. Clare Fitzgerald, SSND who, at 84, is one of the most dynamic and powerful speakers I've encountered in a long time. She spoke for 2 hours on the role of Catholic schools and their "story." She was simply amazing - funny, insightful, inspiring, thought provoking, etc, etc, etc. The bishop said mass after her talk and joked, "Now, I am fully aware that I am following Sr. Clare Fitzgerald..." I guess Sr. Clare spoke to the teachers about 10 years ago and those who were there said she was still incredible.

Lynn has been working a ton of overtime (until 9pm) so it's been me and the kids every night. Last night I took them to the Topsfield Fair. I hadn't been in a long time and enjoyed it a lot more being with little kids. It took forever to get in - me must have spent 30 minutes on Rt. 1 waiting in line. It was tad expensive - $8 to park, $12 admission (kids were free), $1.25 per ride ticket (and most rides required 3 tickets), and then food. Kevin rode a couple of roller coasters, spent a long time on the jumpie thing, we all rode the carousel, and we walked around enjoying the sights, sounds, and animals. There was ever a tractor pull which Kevin loved.

I ran into my junior high study skills teachers who was there with the junior high on their annual trip there. I remember going there with the school in 8th grade and was thinking of it as I saw the young kids walking around in groups.

Today we're going to our parish for the annual Harvest on the Hill festival and then to Melrose for Lynn's nephew's birthday party. Tomorrow we're going to the Berkshires to see the foliage and then on Monday I want to visit 2 state parks in Metrowest so Kevin can finish one section of his stamp collection for his passport book. Once you visit the participating parks in a certain region, you get a t-shirt! We're almost done with the Northeast region - they have 12 parks you have to visit. One of the parks is Salisbury Beach and we've been there a number of times but I never got the stamp. So on my way home from Dover yesterday I stopped at the beach to get the stamp. I think I like this as much as Kevin (if not more). After tomorrow's visit to the Berkshires, we'll be close to getting all the stamps from the Western Region. There are a ton more we have to see in the Central and Boston Regions and we haven't even gone to the Southeast Region. Lots to do!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Do as I say...

Once again folks we have a Democrat who thinks you and I should pay higher taxes but who cheats on her own. Step right up Suzanne Bump, the Democratic nominee for Auditor. It seems that Bump is receiving a property tax break on both of her homes, one in Great Barrington and her condo in South Boston. Both municipalities offer tax breaks to people who consider the homes their primary residences. Only one problem - primary means one and so how can Bump claim to have two primary residences??

Tisk, tisk. The Democrats are against the sales tax rollback and the lifting of the sales tax on alcohol, right? But of course, when it comes to their taxes, well, who are they to pay??!?

See the story here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Off I go

Been a whirlwind couple of weeks, hence the slooooooow postings. My apologizes.

With my favorite in full swing, I wanted to take a ride yesterday to see the sights and sounds of Fall in New England. I wanted to go to the Berkshires but Lynn wanted to go somewhere closer. So, we decided to check out a farm in New Salem called Hamilton Orchards. This place was awesome - picturesque scenery, vibrant colors, nice farm store, plenty of apple trees from which to pick apples, delicious apple flavored pulled pork sandwiches, and tasty apples. It was picture perfect, Lynn loved it. There were tons of students there from UMass Amherst picking apples and getting fall supplies.

From there we drove through Amherst to Hadley to drive up Mt. Holyoke which is part of Skinner State Park. It's a quick ride up and the elevation is just under 1,000 feet but there were great views of the area (I think the views from nearby Mt. Sugarloaf are better). There were two paragliders flying around which Kevin got a kick out of. We could only stay here for a bit as the gates closed at 4pm but it was a beautiful day to see the sights.

We stopped for drinks (not that kind) at a store at the bottom of the mountain and planned on heading to a 5:30 mass at a local parish. We had some time to kill and needed to get Kevin worn out. So we went to a local school and while Lynn fed Erin I ran Kevin ragged with a bouncy ball. Across the street from the Church was a huge pumpkin stand and we got a ton for $3! We then went to the 5:30 mass (they had a huge cry room with toys, tables, chalkboard, I loved it) and then took a ride to Amherst for dinner at this place called DP Dough. It's a calzone place that UMass Amherst students flock to and I remember getting food from there when visiting my friend Neil at UMass. You can tell they mostly do delivery as the store itself was a tad divey with little frills. But, the calzones weren't bad. As Kevin finished up, Erin and I went to get the car. I put her in her carseat and she was asleep before I buckled her in. I piked up Lynn and Kevin and we were off. We got home around 9:30pm - a wonderful day in Central/Western Massachusetts.
This morning I am going to take Kevin to a train show in Pepperell and I then have to leave for a few days. I am part of a team visiting Arlington Catholic High School as part of their decennial accreditation by NEASC. We have to stay in a hotel (they pay for it as well as all of our food) so we're staying in Burlington, about 20 minutes away from Dracut. We're going to start working today at 4pm and we go until 10 or 11pm. We then start each day at 7am and spend the day at the school sitting in on classes, interviewing students and teachers and then spend the evening writing reports. There is little time for fun and games, it's pretty jammed packed. But, it will be a wonderful experience - I'll see how another Catholic school does things and I'll gain some experience for my school's NEASC visit in March (I am the tri-chair for our visit).