Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Boston is close-minded

I was at work until very late tonight. I had to take a cab home, because the train had stopped running. This wouldn't be a big deal, because it's normally only $15 with tip and takes less than 10 minutes. Unless the city decides to close all of the tunnel entrances simultaneously -- something I haven't seen in my 3.3 years living in East Boston. Often one is closed late at night, but I've never seen 3 closed before. $40 and 30 minutes later, I finally got home. I wish they announced the closures somewhere, but I really think they just do what they want when they want.

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Friday, February 28th, 2014

No place like home

Nobody who lives in Boston is the least bit surprised by this.

At every intersection, every new sign for 2A directed drivers in the wrong direction. At the intersection of Columbus and Massachusetts Ave, there were yet again 2A signs pointing the wrong direction. But even more surprising, there was a sign for Route 28 East, a road that doesn’t exist. Route 28 travels only north and south. Across the intersection the station saw an accurate North 28 sign. On Forsyth Street, East and West Route 9 signs, feet apart, point in the same direction.

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Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Classy, Target

In Watertown.

Paula Deen

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Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Aaron Swartz

Aaron was an inspiration to me personally, politically, and professionally ever since we met (ice cream and word games with a small group in a bank vault at Herrell's in Harvard Square) several years ago. I don't understand how things got to this point, but I know I'm angry along with Lessig.

I'm so sorry for all of his family and friends; all the rest of us can do is try to make even a tiny sliver of the difference he did.

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Sunday, September 30th, 2012

It's about time

I saw this a while ago at Logan and forgot to post it. Good news for vegans, although it doesn't make much difference to me personally since I'm not about to drink a Dunkin' Donuts latte and I don't put milk (soy or otherwise) in my coffee.

In other vegan doughnut news, I was able to try one brought to me from Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, and it was awesome. Maybe even better than my beloved Mighty-O. But more taste-testing is required.

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Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Kam Man

Today we took a Zip Car to the Kam Man Marketplace in Quincy.

We focused mainly on the vegan "meat" products, and came away with:

  • Beef slices (dried)
  • Pork nuggets (dried)
  • Ham (a giant, tube-shaped, frozen, $15 ham)
  • Prawns (frozen)
  • Chili beef jerky
  • Sesame dried bean curd (like jerky)
  • Bean curd snack on a stick
  • VitaSoy tofu, on sale for 99 cents

Opinions and photos forthcoming. But one thing is for sure, Kam Man is amazing -- I will definitely be going back.

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Monday, May 7th, 2012

Cambridge and Zipcar

I'm a few years late to this debate, but back in 2009, Cambridge discussed whether people should be allowed to rent their driveway parking spots to Zipcar.

Apparently the concerns are a combination between:

  • People with cars might rent out their driveway spot and park on the street, therefore decreasing available street parking for other residents, and
  • the camel's nose under the tent effect of allowing any commercial use of residential zoned property.

At least, that's what I gleaned from this committee report. I was thinking about this issue because I may be moving soon, maybe to a place that has a parking spot, which I don't intend to use, because I have no car.

I'm not sure how much money Zipcar actually pays for parking spots. According to this page on their site, they prefer to pay nothing. I guess that's not a surprise. I would consider renting them the space for a very low cost, because I would get the benefit of a Zipcar that would often be available for me to use. I imagine a lot of Cambridge residents (of which I am not one) would feel the same way. Between that and the fact that the scenario of a person with a rare driveway spot and a car actually choosing to give up the spot and fight for street parking is laughably unlikely, I don't think this is much of a concern (and if it did happen, it would be somewhat self-regulating, since people would not want to do it if they could not find street parking).

The bigger concern is probably landlords renting the spots to Zipcar instead of giving them to their tenants. A lot of lease agreements might very well prohibit tenants renting out the parking anyway. It seems like they would, since they prohibit other sorts of subleasing without permission.

But something about this concern feels backward to me. Street parking spots are public space, regulated by the city supposedly for public interest. Some number of individual car owners might suffer even more inconvenience than they already do because there is less street parking available, but this cost would come at the benefit of getting many more people access to shared transportation, and might even convince some people to give up their cars entirely.

As far as the commercial use of residential areas goes, that argument reminds me of when I got a ticket in Somerville for having a U-Haul van (not a truck, and also with noncommercial plates) parked in front of my own house with my assigned visitor parking permit in the window. It turns out that the visitor parking permit does not work for "commercial" vehicles, which apparently includes normal-sized vans with noncommercial plates used by noncommercial people to move into their noncommercial residence. In other words, I don't care for the argument.This is not the sort of commercial use we need to worry about -- Zipcar is commercial, but the parking-spot aspect of the service has very little to do with the kinds of commerce that are the concern of zoning laws.

In 2009, 200 Cambridge-based vehicles were used by 10,000 people. That's pretty cool, and probably something the city should embrace. Maybe they have! I need to keep looking for more recent news.

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Monday, April 2nd, 2012

What's the deal with East Boston taxi tolls

Meridian Street in East Boston

At some point, I would like to write in detail about the absurd situations which arise whenever one tries to take a cab into East Boston. But for now, a quick introduction.

The basic situation is this: When taking a Boston cab from Boston into East Boston, the cab driver is not allowed to charge the passenger for the Sumner Tunnel toll. This means that the driver can end up on the hook for $5.25 coming empty back into Boston. Given that most fares from Boston to places like Maverick Square are only $12-$20, that's a substantial loss for drivers. But of course, paying the toll is also a substantial loss for passengers. So, East Boston residents are in a sort of constant low-level war with cab drivers, wherein drivers attempt to cajole and/or guilt passengers into paying the toll voluntarily -- or just outright refuse fares to Eastie. Residents react to this situation in a variety of ways, either:

  1. belligerently asserting their rights,
  2. voluntarily paying the toll to show their solidarity with the common cab driver or in the vague hopes that positive karma from this will help get them a cab next time, or
  3. refusing to pay the toll but tipping generously -- so as to end up basically paying the toll.

This is all complicated by the fact that some drivers just don't know the rules. Like this guy, who refused to let the non-toll-paying passenger out of his cab and instead drove to the police station in an attempt to collect the toll.

But the usual result is that at high-demand times, we have to try several times before we can successfully get a cab, and often that only works by offering to pay the toll. Given that it is not possible to walk or bike into East Boston from Boston, this can feel like pretty serious disenfranchisement. But we can't really blame the drivers either. The rules need to be fixed.

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Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Next Time

I'm trying to figure out how to get two 27"x33" framed pictures (glass) safely from Detroit to Boston. In reading about Delta's policies on fragile luggage, I learned about their Christmas Tree policy. Who knew.

Christmas Trees

Do you want to bring some holiday cheer to your destination? You can indeed bring your Christmas tree with you. We will accept cut Christmas trees as limited-release baggage on all flights within the United States, including flights to/from Hawaii. However, all Christmas trees will be subject to baggage allowance and baggage size restrictions, as well as some other rules:

  • Trees need to be adequately packaged with the root ball or cut base and all branches wrapped and secured using a burlap-type material.
  • If you are traveling into Hawaii and checking a Christmas tree as baggage, you must include it on your declaration form and the tree must pass agricultural inspection.

One policy I'm glad I don't have to concern myself with this Christmas? The Cremated Remains policy. "TSA suggests the passenger purchase a temporary or permanent crematory container of lighter material such as wood or plastic which can easily be x-rayed." Is there a Ralph's around here?

I welcome suggestions for transporting/shipping these pictures.

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Saturday, November 19th, 2011

So that's how you get there

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