Islander's Blog

Archive for June, 2011

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

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The big news this week is that the 16th Nantucket Film Festival was a roaring success. Not that I went near the venues. I avoid crowds at this time of year. With each new festival, more people come forth to enjoy the films and the ambiance that accompanies the various discussions with actors, directors and comedians. For visitors to the island, restaurants and shops more than occupy any free time not spent watching flicks.

As I said, crowds are the last thing I seek out. I had three acquaintances, however, who repeated, almost verbatim, their enthusiasm for the films. “Buck” was a huge favorite, not to mention other cinematic selections. The Comedy Roundtable is another favorite, whether you’re a film buff or not. Last, but not least, people went home happy and Nantucket businesses had a very good week.

Another news story was the oxycodone bust. This is a drug that kills people when used illegally, which seems to be more abundant than for true medicinal purposes. The fact that it’s very expensive means that users are likely to fund their drug purchases by committing crimes. I congratulate the Nantucket Police Department on a job well done.

What did bother me was the way the police showed off the evidence. All that needed to be seen was the drugs, with a cash count. When I saw hundred-dollar bills, twenties, tens and then ones fanned out on a table, my reaction was, “Why wasn’t this guy’s pocket change out there as well?”

Now for the valet-parking project that was approved by our Board of Selectmen at its latest meeting. Another I&M columnist summed up his feeling (not in here). He said valet parking equals paid parking. That’s as concise and to the point a statement as I’ve yet to hear on the matter. I can’t wait to see what the tariff will be. There is one thing I’m certain of. Whatever the price is, few average citizens will be using the service.

I see Tom Scott has a new idea, by the name of The Nantucket Project. From what I’m able to gather, this sounds like a few heavyweights speaking to other heavyweights at the White Elephant. The fee to attend is well beyond what most Nantucketers could, or would, afford for a long weekend, given the talent on display. The price does include lodging, so maybe there would be a discount for on-islanders.

What I find most objectionable about this entire “weekend think tank” is that the second day of the conference is Oct. 1. I do understand that most of the suits at The Nantucket Project won’t be worrying about what spot in the harbor will hold the most scallops. Islanders will be thinking about that and the Nantucket Maritime Festival that takes place at Children’s Beach (right next to the White Elephant). The last two activities are for those who live here. Where will you be?

On a similar subject, Monday is when we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day. Before the fireworks display at Jetties Beach there will be a number of activities taking place downtown. One fine way to become personally independent is by reading. On Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3 the Nantucket Atheneum will be conducting its annual used book sale. From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., hardcover and paperback books of all types will be there for your perusal in the library garden.

As I’m wont to say when the Fourth comes around, summer is almost over. At the rate our summers have been going, let’s hope the weather is better than spring and early-summer days.

We have had some beautiful days, but they’ve been few and far between. And what’s been in between is often gray and humid. Keep smiling, it can only get better.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

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Say what you will, but this does not feel warm enough to be late June. Our forecast for the upcoming week is temperatures in the low 70s. The past week was in that range, too. When the sun is shining and the heat is up, a breeze is welcome. Lately, there have been spotty clouds, with temperatures barely reaching 70 and more breeze than needed. Well, it is June and considering last summer’s perfect climes, this is somewhat disheartening.

I can’t say I was surprised to see that a bicyclist was hit by a car on Old South Road. Since I don’t know anything more than it took place, I’d like to comment on an either/or problem. So, let’s look at both sides of the issue. What I mean is that both bike riders and drivers often function in a cavalier manner on island streets.

On many occasions, while crossing Lower Orange Street, vehicles haven’t slowed down, despite seeing me (and others) standing in the crosswalk. Those that stop often act as if they’re doing you a favor and wave you across, as if to say “I’m letting you pass through because I’m a good person.” Pedestrians have the right of way, so all they’re doing is obeying the law by “allowing one to pass.” No need for a pat on the back.

Now for the bike-riders. People using two wheels often forget they have to obey the law just as if they were driving a car. If, and I repeat if, the bike-rider merely slowed down and then tried to scoot across the crosswalk without waiting, then it would be difficult to blame the driver of the car.

Both the crosswalk where the bike rider was hit and the crosswalk by Fairgrounds Road are spots where I’ve seen others (and me) screech to a halt as bike-riders fly through there, without coming to a stop. Part of why this takes place is that it’s difficult to see bike-riders when they’re on the path. At Fairgrounds Road, the crosswalk is diagonal to the road, an unusual situation. In both places, cars are moving quickly. That makes for the possibility of decisions in a split second.

Whatever the outcome of this accident, I hope the bike-rider isn’t badly injured and his recovery is swift. No matter which person was at fault, this should send a message to both drivers and bike-riders to look in all directions and always be prepared to stop. If I ran into a bike-rider, my fault or theirs, I’d have a very tough time living with myself afterward.

A couple of additions to the passing of the override for mosquito-control last week. It passed and the money isn’t available for use until 2012. Yes, nothing will happen this summer and next summer people will be drawing up a plan to try and control the pests. In other words, 2013 would be the first summer something might be done. Of course, that would depend on our plan being approved by the state and money being appropriated at Town Meeting to pay for the plan. I’d be interested see how much money it would cost us.

We have to be the luckiest sports fans in the world. Ten years and Boston teams won championships in the NFL, NBA, MLB and now the Bruins in the NHL. The Stanley Cup playoffs were riveting. When the Bruins lost the first two games (at home) to the Montreal Canadiens, I worried this might be a replay of what took place against the Philadelphia Flyers in last year’s playoffs.

The gritty Bruins sucked it up and skated the Canucks into the ice to make our dreams come true. Then, there was the largest victory parade in Beantown, and we’ve had some doozies. Then, the other championship coaches came together and made Bruins coach Claude Julien feel like a member of their group.

The Red Sox are making me (and others) feel tremendous for a couple of reasons. At the start of this season the Sox had (on paper) a mighty team, but they could barely get to .500 for quite a while. Now, we’re seeing exactly what we had expected and it’s wonderful to behold.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror

Waterfront News

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

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I think the weather has finally broken. I’m not getting my hopes up just yet as it is still Junuary here. Today was the longest day of the year. Soon the days will be getting shorter by a minute each day. I’m already looking forward to fall and the slower pace of the island. It was a nice evening down at the waterfront. Calm and warm. There is always something going on down there . . .
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, June 17th, 2011

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We had a few days of summer last week, before May weather moved back in. Had there been some cooler days, with a smattering of rain taking place, no one would have batted an eyelash. In this case, people had their hopes raised high by July-like temperatures, perfect blue skies and little wind. As the weekend rolled in, clouds, rain (torrential in some cases) and a 20-degree drop on local thermometers took the starch out of the most optimistic Nantucketers.

Having gone through a spring that never really happened we had to figure summer, once it took hold, would allow us to plead amnesia regarding the past three months. Not so. Now, the recent gloomy weather has made us look over our shoulders and wonder when summer will stay longer than a handful of days.

As we enjoyed those beautiful days, I was up late after watching the Bruins versus Vancouver playoff game. When I turned off the television and then the lights, a flash outside caught my eye. There were a half-dozen fireflies in our back yard. Seeing them made my evening. Well, that and a Bruins win.

The crowds haven’t reached peak saturation as of yet. Judging from traffic flow, or should I say the lack of vehicle movement at times, this might be our worst driving season to date. The usual intersections have become badly clogged in early morning and late afternoon. Four Corners is especially tough, as is Five Corners, the roundabout and the Rotary. Downtown is jam-packed, with the exception of beach days, once the noon rush has passed.

Many people living here have found that the best way to get around traffic problems is to do errands when fewer others are out and about. Shopping for your groceries, doing laundry or visiting other businesses early in the morning is a fine way to avoid the crush. I have found that buying groceries after the dinner hour is a simple cure for dealing with too many vehicles, or the bodies contained in them.

Some Board of Selectmen members are open to the idea of what they’re calling “valet parking.” This doesn’t strike me as much different as using the “Wave” shuttle buses to access downtown. Having parking lots where people could leave their car and then be ferried into town is unlikely to succeed. Those with cars are going to drive to their destination. They don’t want to wait for a bus or van to pick them up. As said earlier, the “Wave” already is serving the purpose and far too few people avail themselves of that service.

I wish that wasn’t the scenario. Some of the high-end hotels use vans to bring their customers in to downtown. That’s another story, as these are people who don’t have a vehicle and have little choice as to how to get around the island on their own.

One solution to help alleviate some of the parking problems would be for downtown merchants and restaurants to present coupons for discounts in their establishments. These could come in the form of “Wave” tickets. This may or may not work, but it would be simple to implement and cost virtually nothing.

I’m writing this column prior to the vote on Tuesday’s override questions. The mosquito debate is one of those things where almost everyone I’ve spoken to thinks that a $100,000 outlay is going to help eradicate the nasty little insects. It won’t do any such thing. The money would be to study the problem and come up with a plan for the future.
If anyone believes that helping wipe out mosquitoes could be affected by a six-figure plan they’re fantasizing. Given the present local, state and federal regulations, a fix could cost millions of dollars. That wouldn’t be a one-time fix. Few voters have taken the time to carefully examine the upshot of what this study could cost us in the long run.

We have mosquitoes and have always lived with them. I have never lived, or visited, anywhere that didn’t have a mosquito problem. I remember when they used to spray DDT at will. Sure, it killed them; and they came back each year to bother us.

The Kelly Culkins West Walk for the Marla Lamb Cancer Travel Fund takes place this Saturday, June 18th. The walk begins at Faregrounds Restaurant, goes out to Surfside and then back to Faregrounds, where there will be a cookout. Money raised helps provide transportation for cancer patients to and from their medical appointments on the mainland.

Living here makes it expensive to leave the island. Dealing with pain and chemotherapy is more than enough for any one person to deal with. You may sign up from 10-11 a.m. at Faregrounds. The walk begins at 11 am. Please donate as much as you can, as this benefits our local friends and neighbors. A $10 donation is expected if you are attending the cookout and not walking.

I have far too much experience with cancer. My great grandmother, grandmother and sister all had breast cancer. All three overcame that, but succumbed to other types of the disease years later. I doubt there are many of you that haven’t been touched by cancer in your family, friends or acquaintances. Please support the walk.
 David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror

Waterfront News

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

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One of my favorite parts of the island is Coatue. This time of the year, I spend as much time over there as I possibly can. It’s a great place to escape the hoards of people which are here during the summer. Hardly anyone goes there, which is fine by me! I was over on Coatue recently and took a few photos.
– Martie Mack writes Nantucket’s Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

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A friend gave me a hard time about my comment in last week’s column. I mentioned that the Memorial Day Weekend was “fairly low-key.” He said town was hopping each evening after dark. I have no doubt that’s true.

For most of us with knowledge of what tends to go on after dark on that weekend, it was an area to be avoided. Spending an hour downtown on Saturday morning, things were tranquil. There weren’t many people on Main Street and parking spaces abounded. That was my take, and my friend had another experience.

The worst pavement in town was repaved last week. Starting in front of Cumberland Farms down Lower Orange Street to just in front of Hatch’s package store, the beat-up and often-repaired asphalt way was totally paved, and may I say, done nicely. Drains in that stretch were sunken to a point where I worried about front-end damage each time I went through there. The drains are now pitched correctly and now there’s no longer a thud as one goes over the spot.

Perhaps the rainy weather from early spring is the culprit, or it could be my memory is failing, but poison-ivy growth has progressed beyond what we would normally expect for early June. If there is one thing that Nantucket excels at, it’s our verdant crop of three-leafed shrubbery.

Getting rid of this noxious weed is very difficult. The best way to rid your yard of it is to pull up and cut the vines as low to the ground as possible. Then, carefully put a drop of poison-ivy weed killer on the stump. It works beautifully, though it requires patience and a long pair of gloves. Never burn poison ivy, as the oil dispersed into the air could cause more problems than if one was to roll in a patch of the stuff.

Then there’s another itchy problem we live with. Some years, when little spring rain falls, we have a less active population of mosquitoes than others. This year isn’t looking good so far, but if the rain stays away, the numbers of the winged nuisances should be lessened. There are some areas on-island that are and always will be breeding grounds for the nasty little critters. Living near a body of standing water is a surefire way to learn about how many buzzing menaces are hovering around day and night.

One way to help reduce the problem (no matter where you reside) is to make sure there’s no standing water lying around. Bird baths, water bowls for pets, open trash cans and even an upturned Frisbee are able to support a colony of mosquitoes. I have found that not scratching the bites (not easy to do) reduces the welt and lessens the itching.

Our weather is still a bit cool for June, though it is warming up slowly. At least we aren’t experiencing temperatures in the 80s. From Boston heading south, people all down the Atlantic coast are sweltering. When we have weather such as that, it’s no problem to take a dip in cool water to bring us solace from the heat.

The Board of Selectmen did the right thing by not falling for a pilot parking program last week. We live in a town where the streets were created a couple hundred years ago. There is no way to make them wider or more modern. The so-called parking problem lasts a couple of months each year. We do not need meters on the street, in vehicles, or parking garages.

Nantucket has an outstanding shuttle-bus system, if only people would avail themselves of it. Another problem is people working in town that continually move their cars to avoid a ticket. Then there are others that accept tickets as the cost of doing business in town. That’s the best reason not have meters. It would make all-day parking in town cheaper than paying for individual tickets. You’d never find a parking space should that happen.

For people who would like to impart their take on this column, or have other subjects to discuss, here’s how to register your thoughts. My phone number is (508) 228-4325, e-mail me at dgoodman@nantucket.net and my mail goes to Box 1263, Nantucket, MA 02554. As always, I welcome your thoughts and criticisms.
 David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this spot and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror

Waterfront News

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

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Looks as though summer has been delayed. This past weekend felt like mid-January rather than mid-June. Cold and windy. We were spoiled last summer. It was nice every single day but four days from April 1 right through Labor Day. We’ll probably never see another summer like that ever again. In any event, I bundled up and ventured down to the waterfront recently and grabbed a few shots.
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

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Nantucket had a fairly low-key Memorial Day Weekend. There were plenty of visitors all about the island. Most of them rented bicycles and spent much of their time tooling around our streets and roads. My favorite was a gentleman pulling one of those trailers behind him. As I came upon him he was pulling onto the Cliff Road (incomplete) bike path. I hurried by, trying not to be near him as he avoided the telephone poles centered in the new asphalt.

I had a quick errand in town on Saturday morning. Worried that traffic and bodies would be in abundance, I was surprised they weren’t. Walking half a block down Main Street, I did see tourists with suitcases. No, they didn’t tote Louis Vuitton luggage, it would be too formal. Instead theirs had the imprint of Anheuser-Busch. Seeing this activity on Main Street looks incongruous to me. At least they hadn’t begun popping the tabs and imbibing at coffee break.

Our weather over the holiday weekend was anything but perfect. At least things were on the warm side and we had some sun, in between bouts of fog. I’m not sure if we hit 70 degrees so far, though it won’t be long. In Boston and New York the heat was turned up to full. They were in the 80s. I’d rather be on the cool side for now.

Now for some important town politics and it concerns all of us. Appointments to town committees and boards should have nothing to do with politics, but on Nantucket, what doesn’t? Want to be on the Airport Commission or the FinCom? Better be prepared to vote the “right” way, or you’ll not be reappointed for a second term. The right way is when your voting record pleases three members on the Board of Selectmen.

One would think that an appointment to one of these two groups would be handed to people who have knowledge of the subjects, are willing to rule on facts, not helping out others in the good old boy system. If you think that, you’d be very, very wrong. We don’t do that here. Annoy the BOS and your aspirations are, or will be, toast. I can’t wait to see who the lucky winners will be.

The wind turbine by the high school took quite a while to get up and running. Then the machine went to work and was looking good. Next thing you know, the blades were still for a week. It seems as if there were faulty parts that needed to be replaced and it’s early in the life of this mechanical generator. I recall being told that this turbine had the bugs worked out, unlike the one at Bartlett’s Farm.

Perhaps this wasn’t anywhere as drastic as the beheading of that turbine at the farm, but it is a wake-up call. Why are there problems with most of these machines? I am in favor of green energy, though not until it works more of the time than not. When I found out that the flaw that brought the high-school turbine to a halt involved vibrations to the machine, it was worrisome. Vibrations can cause damage and worse to mechanical parts, and that’s not a good thing.

The Dreamland folks got another two weeks to wrap up the exterior of the theater. I was hoping they wouldn’t, but I’m no novice to what goes on here. The golden rule is at work here. He, who has the gold, makes the rules. Get ready, there’s more where that came from.

I have to admit the idea of changing the name of the Nantucket Regional Transit Authority to something new seemed strange. They already had a good name, so why replace it? The new name “The Wave,” however, works very well indeed.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and regularly in The Inquirer and Mirror

Waterfront News

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

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There is an extremely serious issue at the boat ramp in Madaket. Several holes have formed over the past few weeks in the asphalt along the front edge of the dock. These holes are approximately two feet deep. If you are not careful, you will fall into these deep holes and break your ankle or leg. Someone was nice enough to put a small piece of plywood over one of the holes. I am not sure why the town will not fill in the holes. It’s a serious accident waiting to happen.

And another thing, there are no aids to navigation in Madaket harbor, Eel Point or on the way to Tuckernuck. I am not sure why the town has not put the buoys in yet. This past weekend was Memorial Day Weekend. Several people who own houses on Tuckernuck went over there on the weekend to open their houses for the summer season only to learn that there were no buoys marking the channels and sandbars. It was very foggy every day out there. It would have been nice to have all the buoys set before the weekend.

Here are a couple of pictures of the holes in the dock at the Madaket boat ramp

– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog