Islander's Blog

Archive for February, 2010

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

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February is a favorite month of mine. The weather isn’t that terrific, but the shortest month makes it feel as if winter is going quickly and spring is in the foreseeable future. There have been a couple reports of green shoots coming up through the ground, so we re on the right track. I’m more than ready for March!

If you’ve been in the Federal Street post office in the past few weeks, there are now slips hanging over dozens of the boxes. These slips are want-ads for empty P.O. boxes. When I first moved here, I had to get on a waiting list until a box became empty. That took several years to come to fruition. I remember feeling as though having Box 1263 made me an official island-dweller.

Seeing so many boxes sitting empty made me a little sad. Not so long ago, the post office removed a couple of tables where people could sort out their mail, so as to add additional, portable boxes. Now they have a surplus of cubicles and there are but two places to figure out what goes home with you and what ends up in the round file.

I fully understand why this has taken place. Parking is often a chore downtown, primarily in the peak season. I’ve found the way to avoid the problem is to go early, late, or after lunch on sunny beach days. Then there’s the Post Office by the roundabout.

I’m not a big fan of this spot for several reasons. The parking is nonexistent at times, even in the off-season. You have to traverse bank traffic by first entering their parking lot on the way to the P.O. The final problem with this USPS facility is the hour the window is closed down in midday. Any time the window is closed (at any island P.O.) there’s bound to be a yellow slip awaiting you, announcing you have mail or packages behind the counter.

Last week I wrote about island characters, or should I say, the lack of them these days. One nice lady, who wasn’t particularly taken by my words, asked a question for the first time, that everyone else came forward with afterward. While there were a number of names bandied about, the name most inquired about was animal-lover Billy Dexter.

There were at least two dozen people that could have easily been included in last week’s story. At some point, I had to make the call for several reasons, one of which was length. Some time in the future I’ll return to the subject, as it seems to have hit a chord with many readers.

Stop & Shop employees have voted to go on strike (I&M story here), but they’re willing to keep speaking to management for a few more days before physically walking off the premises. One of the workers when asked about the strike told me she was on her way to Florida for the week and wasn’t going to think about it for now.

I found it unsettling to see there were already help-wanted ads for clerks well before the strike date. Shopping several times a week means I’ve gotten to know many of the workers there. The people working there aren’t getting rich, though the Stop & Shop appears to be on solid financial footing. In a short while, it may be time to think about whether to cross a picket line, manned by our friends and neighbors, for food.

Nantucket’s 2010 Junior Miss, Georgie Morley, walked away with two awards at the Massachusetts Junior Miss scholarship competition last weekend (I&M story here). Over the years, the island’s young women have done very well, considering this is a small community. One reason is the support they’re given from boosters and former Junior Miss contestants. It doesn’t hurt that we have some very special young women living here.

TD Bank now has the true “White Elephant” on island (I&M story here), as the new owners of the Point Breeze. I wonder who’s going to get Bob and Mia’ s house on Cliff Road?
“Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

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School vacation is coming up, and that means town will be even emptier than it has been this winter. I’ll hazard a guess that there will be fewer families traveling off-island, particularly those going on expensive southern sojourns. Trips to closer spots within a couple hours’ ride are more likely. What’s more important is families spending time together.

A recession that’s got us in its grasp has hurt most parts of our lives. The one benefit might be that it could help by pulling members of families closer to one another. I don’t recommend financial straits as a method for fixing what ails the modern household tribe, but it may be a way to begin the process.

This afternoon, I received an email from WBUR, the National Public Radio station in Boston. It was a report from an organization whose website is countyhealthrankings.org . They publish a set of rankings for counties around the U.S.. According to their research, Nantucket is the healthiest county in the Commonwealth.

They take a number of factors, including, among other things, smoking, teen pregnancy, binge drinking and poverty rates in order to reach their conclusions. I’d like to add another couple of reasons for the general good health here. We have a local hospital, unparalleled for a small community, stocked with some mighty fine doctors, nurses and technical staff. Another point in our favor is the island’s fresh, relatively unpolluted air. Nantucket is a less stressful place to live. If you don’t believe me, try living elsewhere. (For more on the study, pick up next week’s Inquirer and Mirror).

We now know the names of candidates for local elections, coming on April 13. This promises contests that may prove interesting, especially for the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board and Historic District Commission. Each of these races will pit incumbents against newcomers.

I like the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” As the BOS goes, there are some fixes in order, but ridding ourselves of the two incumbents now running would hurt the board. I’m looking forward to Meet the Candidates night, mainly to hear what some of the new candidates running for the HDC and Planning Board have to say.

The bigger election(s) are going to come in the sheriff’s race(s). We already have two Jims, two Mikes and a Bret saying they’re in the hunt. It appears there could be more people tossing their hat in the ring before the end of April.

In September comes the primary, which then leads to the general election in November. I’m hoping both fall frays are equally exciting. I can’t remember any election around here for a single office with as many qualified candidates. Nantucket voters deserve good choices for all local offices and this go-round should be outstanding!

There are a couple of local spots sporting neon signs (not kosher here) that aren’t actually in the window, but they’re placed so as to be viewed as one passes by. The one that is particularly bothersome is in the front of a bar/restaurant across from the Town Building.

This owner might not be breaking the law, but he is bending it beyond the limit. I know the gentleman contributes his space to many good causes, so it would be nice if he’d consider moving the offending sign away from the window area.

Boston Red Sox pitchers and catchers report for spring training today. There’s a long way to go before the season begins, though this is our warning signal that there are only six weeks of winter left.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

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Taking a look at the warrant for the 2010 Annual Town Meeting is tedious, with occasional flashes of interesting articles to be discussed and then voted on. I like to leave mine in the library, so that it may be read an article or two at a time. That way I’m able to digest the entire package.

Most people who received their copy in last week’s I&M, never looked at the warrant. Too many citizens abrogate their duty as voters and refuse to show up at the polls, much less sit through several evenings in the high-school auditorium. What’s worse is the age of most of the people attending Town Meeting. Most seats are occupied by islanders old enough to receive Social Security, or at least they’re closing in on it.

I’m not knocking the virtues of senior citizenship, having been eligible for membership in AARP for 10 years. What bothers me the most is that 30- and 40-year old-voters ought to be weighing in on subjects which will affect them and their children in the near and far-off future. Few of them show up at the meeting.

The old lines, “I’m too busy,” or “I can’t get a babysitter,” don’t cut it. No one is too busy to let important local issues be decided by a distinct minority of the population. As far as finding a babysitter, why not have one parent attend Town Meeting, while the other stays home with junior? If senior citizens are capable of getting to the meeting, surely someone half their age should be sprinting into the auditorium and participating.

I ducked into Nantucket Looms’ new digs on Main Street early this week. As expected, Liz and her minions have put together a beautiful new shop. The Looms should be open within a day of your reading these words.

Later on that same day, I was out toward the airport and having heard online comments about Crosswinds restaurant, stopped in to try the food. Unlike Alice’s, the eatery was open for business.

I had a simple lunch that was inexpensive and tasty. With the Downyflake on vacation for a couple of months and several other restaurant closures (temporary), this turned out to be a good choice. As I was getting up to leave, who walked in but Liz Winship. Well, it is a small island, especially in February.

Everyone I’ve spoken to regarding the outcome of last week’s Super Bowl had the same comments. They were happy the New Orleans Saints prevailed over the Indianapolis Colts. The other message conveyed was that it’s time for the Who to stop performing, at least in public.

Having seen the Who back in their heyday, this was embarrassing to see and hear. One woman told me she thought it was weird to hear a rock band in their mid-60s, singing songs of youth and rebellion. Remember the line, “Hope I die before I get old.” Roger and Pete, it’s time to change “die” to retire and then pay attention to your own lyrics.

The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics blast off with opening ceremonies tomorrow (Friday) at 7:30 p.m. This should be an exciting couple of weeks. Much of the action will be in real time, as the difference on the West Coast is only a few hours earlier than here. I’ve never skied, though watching it makes me feel exhilarated. The snowboarding is exciting, too.

Figure skating is less my thing, as I prefer to see sticks and pucks flying around the ice and guys policing the action in striped shirts, with whistles. Winter evenings don’t have to be dull. And, there’s another reason to keep the tube warmed up.

On Monday and Tuesday evenings, the Westminster Dog Show is being broadcast from Madison Square Garden. Nantucket is a paradise for dogs and those who love them. So it stands to reason that this is a good reason for us to sit in front of the TV and watch everyday pooches and exotic ones as well. Not only that, islander Rhoda Weinman has two of her Dachshunds entered in the contest.

Monday evening the coverage begins on the USA Network (Comcoast channel 35) at 8 p.m. and then at 9 p.m. it switches to CNBC (Channel 46), ending at 11 pm. Tuesday it’s broadcast solely on USA, beginning at 8 p.m., ending at 11 p.m. These canines are a picture of perfection as they run their handlers around the ring.

I jumped the Valentine’s Day gun last week. Now, you have but three days to buy something sweet for that special someone in your life.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

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According to Quentin the Quahog, my prediction from last week’s post was accurate. Our mollusk with all the answers is now reposing in harbormaster Dave Fronzuto’s gullet after spitting to the left on Tuesday. Only six more weeks of winter would be a respite around here. The third week in March, (chronologically) is the signal for spring. We’ll be lucky if it feels like spring a month beyond that date.

Beautiful fall weather (from warm ocean water) results in a late spring. This is a good tradeoff in my mind. Nantucket has made the big time with Quentin this year. The Boston Globe posted the news on Boston.com late in the day, complete with Mr. Fronzuto’s disparaging comments regarding Punxsutawney Phil. I believe most islanders feel the exact same way. Besides, groundhogs are the last thing we need here.

Then there was the sensationalistic story about Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and part of Cape Cod representative Tim Madden. Traveling between Boston and the three communities he serves made him the highest-reimbursed rep for travel expenses in the legislature at $13,900. Tim is up on Beacon Hill just over 150 days per year.

Aside from the toll of that amount of travel, boats, planes and automobiles (sounds like a movie) the tickets cost money. It’s only fair that the state pays for this. The voters in Mr. Madden’s district deserve his services and he isn’t paid enough salary to dole out travel expenses from his own pocket.

This so-called exposé came courtesy of the Boston Herald, a newspaper that is similar to some of the headlines I read while going through the checkout line after shopping for groceries.

There has been much discussion about the fence a homeowner erected going through the dune at Steps Beach. As much as the split rails look ridiculous, standing alone for a short stretch on the beach, it appears to be legal. My question is: how long will it take for some vandal to trash it? Otherwise, summer is coming and kids are sure to use it for a beach party bonfire. The fence is jarring, to say the least.

Years back there used to be a saying here: you can tell a carpenter by the black Lab in the back of their pickup truck. A contractor has two Labs in the bed of his pick up. Over the past year or so, I’ve noticed at least a half-dozen guys in pickups with small dogs riding in the cab. Poodles are the last thing I expect to see with these big macho builder types. They’re no match for a retriever when it comes to retrieving tennis balls at the worksite.

Cutting the social-services department sounds like a good idea to save the town $30,000 a year, but at what cost? The system is working well as it is. Taking a chance like this could easily fail, which would then end up hurting people in need and costing more money (to us) in the future. We all know the old saying, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” I believe there are several other items in the town budget that could save us thirty grand and wouldn’t hurt a soul.

You have to give Cape Air credit. They’ve sent two of their Cessna 402s to help out the relief effort in Haiti. The planes will be making 10 trips a week to ferry in medical personnel as well as medical supplies. One plane will be flying to Port-au-Prince, while the second one is going to service two cities outside of the Haitian capital. Great job and thank-you for doing a good deed!

Sunday is the Super Bowl, an overhyped contest most years. This go-around should be good. The two best teams in the NFL meet in Miami to duke it out. It’s a tough call for me. I’d like New Orleans to win, but I have to believe Peyton Manning will lead Indianapolis to a victory. Or, maybe The Who will steal the spotlight.

You now have four days to buy cards, flowers or candy for your honey. Valentine’s Day is next Sunday.

If you’d like to get a hold of me directly, call (508) 228-4325, write me at P.O. Box 1263, Nantucket, MA 02554, or e-mail me at dgoodman@nantucket.net.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror.