The Soapbox Archives:
Thank you to all who contacted me on Friday, April 19, 2013, to make sure I was okay. I live about a 10 minute walk from the explosions of the night before and a mere 25 minute walk from the final conclusion of the long chase. Those of you who told me to lock my doors and to not open them to anyone except uniformed police were a bit late. The automated Belmont emergency line woke me up at 6:20 am with the same message.
One person took the moment to ask if I was wishing that either I or someone I knew had a gun. I *do* know someone with a gun that I can count on (see this scene outside my house that morning). I complain about living in Belmont and having to pay relatively high property taxes, but it's reassuring to know that the cavalry is not far away.
In an editorial on Tuesday, April 23, the Boston Globe noted that some [asinine, insensitive and completely ignorant] state representative in Arkansas wondered "...how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?" The Globe rightly noted that individuals (as opposed to trained officers working together as a team) could have easily shot the wrong target or been mistaken for the bad guy. They forgot to mention that an armed civilian would have just killed the suspect as opposed to following orders to capture the bomber alive and getting important information out of him. We "Boston Liberals" trust the police to do the right thing and we choose not to live our lives in a deluded fear of the government.
I must admit that I haven't given much thought to the victims of the two bombers. What catches my imagination are the people who ran towards the explosions while everyone else was trying to get away. It's an ultimate test of character, as much as we saw during 9/11 when all those firefighters ran *into* a burning skyscraper that, in the end, collapsed on top of them. I hope that, if push ever comes to shove, that I acquit myself adequately compared to these who truly deserve the title, "Hero".
One thing that most of you might have missed. As described in the Saturday Boston Globe, most businesses in and near the locked-down area closed for the day, except for Dunkin Donuts who stayed open on Friday to provide food and drink and a rest haven for those involved in the search for the terrorist....and they didn't charge anyone for it. That's one for the the home team. Addendum: The Tuesday Globe followed up with a piece about the Lenox Hotel becoming the command center for the bombing investigators and feeding all those law enforcement officers for free (and talking the other nearby hotels into contributing food and supplies) during the week.
During the crisis, the news stations kept referring to the second bomber as "Suspect #2", perhaps because they couldn't pronounce his name. I recalled one of the ideas brought up in the Gregory Benford book, "Foundation's Fear" (based on Isaac Asimov's Foundation series). In the book, the main character suggested that terrorist names be expunged from history to deny them the glory of immortality; let the bombers fade away as "Dumbass #1" and "Dumbass #2". I think that's an idea worth a debate if it weren't for human need to be nosy.
And, if you would refer to some notes I may or may not have made back on 9/11, in Western theology, Satan thrives on hate, destruction, anger, and death, and yet, he can't take a direct hand so he must work through agents. Nicknamed "The Prince of Lies", he somehow manipulates others into doing his handiwork.
If that's too religious a concept for you, try this: The "good guys" build, grow, and discover and move forward into the future. The "bad guys" destroy and try to regress back to a point in time when Baghdad fell as the intellectual center of the world and intellectual activity (especially math) was considered the work of the Devil.
PS: Thanks to Roger Weiss who took the picture.
I stopped by the CVS in Watertown Square and saw something that blew my mind. In the parking lot I saw some SUV parked in not one, but *two* handicapped parking spots. I can understand parking in one because you're stupid, but you have to be a truly selfish bastard to park in two handicapped spots at the same time.
It wasn't because there weren't any other spot because I was parked three spots over and there were plenty of other spots. It wasn't because no one used those spots because some elderly guy with a handicap tag on his mirror *did* try to park in one of those spots while I was standing there. It can't be because the driver didn't want to pay the meter. A ticket for not paying the meter is only about $25; a ticket for parking in a handicap spot is gotta be about $250 (plus towing).
The driver, a quite healthy 20-something, showed up and left before I could take a picture of the car. I wanted to post it on FailBlog (and send a copy to the Watertown police).
I wonder if you get *two* tickets for parking in two handicap spots at the same time.
I store my old electronic equipment and once a year I take it down to CRT Recycling in Brockton. I think it's a smarter solution than the trash. This place charged me $3 to unload a CRT monitor; Staples or the town of Belmont would have charged me at least $10.
There is a side benefit to making this trip. There's at least two gas stations down the street from this place and gas for my car was about 30 cents *cheaper* than in town. With a fillup, I more than made up for the cost of the monitor and the gas I used.
For those of you who don't want to drive that far, this company also has collections in various towns in Massachusetts at various times of the year. Unfortunately, I just missed the one in Arlington.
Everyone knows what racial prejudice is when it refers to the way one ethnic group treats another; it's still prejudice when it concerns people of the same "race" yet who are from different cultures.
On the way home from the recycle center I decided to stop off in Chinatown and pick up an order of my favorite food. It's always dicey when ordering there because my Chinese language skills are terrible and no one in that place speaks more than a few words of English. Yet, I'm sure they have lots of non-Asian customers and they somehow manage to cope. I think I know enough Chinese to get my point across but I'm still iffy on specifying amounts.
I waited there a while when I heard the off-duty butcher tell the other staff, in Cantonese, "Help the Jook-Sing." That term refers to a Chinese person who's not born in China and when it's uttered by someone who *was* born in China, it's typically not intended to be a compliment. He probably meant "Help the guy who needs service" but it came out as "Help the Westernized Chinese guy who can't speak Chinese and therefore, doesn't know how to ask for help". Did he really think I wouldn't understand him or that I wouldn't care?
I tried to indicate that I wanted two boxes of the particular item, but I had to resort to English for "2 pounds" and "1.5 pounds". I somehow ended up with half a pound of edibles in one box. I tried to clarify my point so they gave me two boxes of food with half a pound each. At that point, I got frustrated, took the order and left.
Back in the old days, I could understand their point of view because back then there was only Chinese (Cantonese) people in Chinatown. However, these days there are a lot of different types of Asian-types in Chinatown including Koreans, Japanese, Vietnamese, and others, not to mention Chinese who speak Mandarin, a "dialect in theory, but let's face it, it's really a different language. And of course, there are tons of non-Asians who shop there. It's reasonable that a lot of customers aren't going to speak Cantonese to them and the store should try to accomodate them. Besides, some of us really suck at languages (I should know English, Cantonese, French, German, and Latin).
I'm going to have to fall back on an old crutch: get someone to write it down in Chinese for me. When I get take out "yum cha ("Dim Sum" to the rest of you), I bring the entire order on a laminated piece of paper so there's no confusion concerning what I want.