Islander's Blog

Archive for December, 2011

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

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As we head into a new year, I feel as if 2012 has to be superior to the one we’re about to abandon. It’s sad to think that most people I’ve spoken to had the same reaction to the change from 2010 to 2011. This doesn’t bode well for the way Americans are liable to react about what’s in front of us. I always believe the upcoming 12 months are going to be better than what just passed. Time will tell.

Around December of each year is the time I look back and decide whether our situation is improving or tanking. This last year was better than 2010, though not enough to sing praises about. Still, any improvement is . . . an improvement. Right about now, I’ll enjoy even a slight bump in happy news, especially if it applies to a growing economy. A healthy economy has a great deal to do with our general happiness.

Christmas Day and the following day saw most businesses on Nantucket closed up tight. On the mainland, the day after Christmas was a busy one for shoppers. More evidence that spending for the holiday is totally out of control.

Last week I mentioned that there will probably be Valentine’s Day things for sale right after Christmas. I was wrong. On Dec. 23 there was a display of heart-shaped candy for sale in the Stop & Shop. Soon it will be time for Daffodil Day.

I am looking forward to the presidential and other elections coming in this next year. No matter how you feel about how our elected officials are doing, from the Oval Office all the way down to our Board of Selectmen, voters have the choice to replace or re-elect those candidates. Too many people in the world never have that choice. In the U.S., not enough citizens exercise that responsibility.

I’m ready for the hot air and big promises to begin. That and the endless media campaign(s), fundraisers and discussions with others about the various flaws and attributes of those folks running for office. Many of my friends and acquaintances and I often disagree on the candidates. The best thing about our arguments is that we go at it verbally, yet don’t carry it beyond that. Much like talking about sports, we don’t let it eat at us afterward.

After reading an article in The New York Times from earlier this month, one has to wonder what our tick situation for the upcoming season is going to be like. “After Lean Acorn Crop In Northeast, Even People may Feel The Effects,” is the title of the article. It opines that because of a poor acorn crop this fall, bird, squirrel and field-mice populations will crash. This could result in a shortage of hosts for ticks (mainly field mice) who will then seek out people to latch onto.

Along with the possibility of more tick problems, deer seeking food are likely to forage outside of wooded areas onto roads, where they’ll be more apt to be hit by cars and trucks. On Nantucket, where we have an immense tick-disease problem, this is something to think about when going out on the moors and into wooded areas. Having had Lyme disease three times and babesiosis once, I’m careful, though the little buggers are sneaky as can be. Obviously, they’re way ahead of me.

I have to wonder why it took so long for the people that built a retaining wall on the beach along Eel Point to be found out. And this was by accident, at that. Surely the ConCom goes back to check the progress of any work they issue permits for. Or do they? If not, I have to wonder how many more people cheated on the scope of their work and weren’t caught.

If the Point Breeze sale goes through and a new developer gets the old girl up and running, it will truly be a shot in the arm for Nantucket. I do wonder if the gentleman buying her really believes it could stay open year-round. We do need more rental rooms in the downtown area to help support businesses in the Main Street environs.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears regularly in this space and The Inquirer and Mirror

Goodman’s Gam

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

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(Dec. 22) There are but three shopping days until Christmas. I’ve always wanted to say that. From the activity I’m seeing on downtown streets, people are buying up a storm. From reports on the national news, it appears that sales are going to be up by several percentage points. One may hope that islanders kept as much money as possible in our local economy by buying locally. Your neighbors could use some extra income at this time of year.

Every year, I make a recommendation for a route to drive that will expose one to the best Christmas decorations around Nantucket. I’ll qualify this by saying that my tour is set up so you can see the most yard decorations in a fairly short time. That and it won’t burn much gas in the process.

Begin at the Rotary and drive to Fairgrounds Road. After going up Fairgrounds, turn right at Surfside Road and head for Hooper Farm Road. Once you reach the end of the road, there’s a traffic circle. Go around it and backtrack down Hooper Farm to Surfside Road. Make a right on Surfside Road and go back toward town. Your next turn will be a left onto Bartlett Road, going along until you reach Friendship Lane, which will be on your right. Not far and you’ll see a house that Clark Griswold would envy.

After taking in the electric company’s Christmas present, turn around and retrace your route, until you reach Bartlett Road, where you want to go right and then left on Mizzenmast. Mizzenmast and the small streets leading off of it hold quite a few yards that are decorated. Once again, drive back to Surfside Road and take a left. Turn left, across from the elementary school, and take a quick look on MacLean Lane, Tashama Lane and Washaman Avenue.

I always end up the tour by driving up Main Street. Though Main Street isn’t as decorated as much as some of the other streets, bouncing along the cobbles is beautiful and feels like a true New England Christmas scene.

Once Christmas is over, the interminable television and radio ads should cease. Within a week, we’ll probably begin seeing Valentine’s Day commercials beginning. There isn’t much time wasted between sales these days.

To hear selectman and wind-generator advocate Whitey Willauer talk about opposition to a wind machine by folks in Madaket, you’d think the opposition was against mom and apple pie. Whitey says the west-enders have a $50,000 war chest to fight what they consider a hazard in their back yards. Don’t these people have a right to be concerned? Mr. Willauer has his own support and some of it emanates from town resources he has access to.

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” was released as a movie a couple of days back. Many islanders read the three books and were as taken by it as I was. I went on to view the three Swedish movies and was surprised at how close they were to the books. That’s unusual to see. I’ll be interested to see if the American version is true to the story.

Whenever I drive by Fifty-Six Union restaurant, the decorations Wendy has by the front of the building make me smile. Sometimes they’re gaudy, even tacky, but they show artistic purpose and are original design. I appreciate them more than the off-the-wall art out on Hummock Pond Road, not that it isn’t interesting. They’re just too near a sharp curve to stare at for more than a split second.

Over time, the photos shot by Nicole and Jim in The Inquirer and Mirror have often been impressive. Now, seeing the color shots in the online version, they’ve taken on a new light. More crisp and artistic in nature, the pictures are every bit as talented by subject than many private photographers on-island.

Next week’s edition will be out shortly prior to the end of 2011 and right before 2012. I’m not sure how to characterize the year that’s run its course. How do you feel about it?
– Goodman’s Gam appears regularly in this space and in The Inquirer and Mirror

Goodman’s Gam

Monday, December 19th, 2011

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Could there be anything better than having the highest-paid town job, being fired for abusing the position, and now being paid a hundred grand to go away? Not only did Al Peterson get paid off on what appears to be a bogus contract, but the Board of Selectmen (other than Mike Kopko) approved the “please don’t sue us” give-away.

It’s a known fact that our BOS would rather pay off a specious claim than fight a lawsuit, no matter how good a case the town has. I’m not surprised, as the new chair of the Airport Commission is a retired financial guy. Golden parachutes in his former world are usually in the millions of dollars, so this was an easy decision for him. Two members from the commission who approved the under-the-cover contract joined forces with the chair to line Peterson’s pockets with a huge chunk of change on his way out the door.

Then, we’re paying a police officer, accused of driving under the influence, his full salary to sit home and do nothing. Can’t we have him sit at the station and sell parking decals, or count paper clips? Why do I fear the lawsuit he might bring against the town? You’ve got it: the BOS would likely settle with a nice going-away check should he do so. Nantucket citizens are paying one gent who was fired and another to hang out. Nice job, if you can get it.

Over the past week and in the next week and a half, those patrons at the main post office have had to wait in long lines to pick up yellow-slip deliveries. With so many people rushing to mail and pick up holiday packages, it’s going to be a mess on Federal Street for the foreseeable future.

In the above paragraph, I used the term holiday gifts, because there is more than one holiday in December. I am anything but politically correct, so the word Christmas tree is still in my vocabulary. Years ago, a woman I was living with asked what Jews do at this time of year, i.e.. Hanukkah. I told her, tongue in cheek, that we have Hanukkah bushes. She fell for it, until I started laughing.

I’m happy for a number of things right now. The Nantucket Whalers won the Super Bowl and the Boston Globe named Taylor Hughes Player of the Year for Div. 5. Then, four local veterinarians and supporters found a way to save what used to be the Nantucket MSPCA animal hospital. I was skeptical of their efforts and am glad to be proven wrong. Last on my list is the warm weather we’ve enjoyed this fall. Now the temperatures are falling, though they’re above normal for now.

Seeing the lights out where the Even Keel used to be is a bit depressing for many of us. I received an e-mail from Mark-Et saying they’re closing in a few days, and will re-open in March. I’ve also heard the Brotherhood will be shut down for part of this winter. In a way, these closings could be a boon for eateries that remain open through the cold months.

I appreciate the peaceful protest registered by people at Occupy Boston. Unfortunately, some participants latched onto a simple protest and aren’t there for anything but food and messing around.

The New England Patriots keep on winning, though not in impressive fashion. Unless, or until, they improve their pass rush and defense, staying in the playoffs could be a short-term affair.
It will be interesting to see the Boston Red Sox playing under new manager Bobby Valentine. I believe he’ll shake up a moribund team and hopefully, get the most out of an extremely-talented team. Spring training is just over two months away and I can’t wait.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears regularly in this space and The Inquirer and Mirror

Waterfront News

Friday, December 9th, 2011

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During the recent blow, several draggers and one sea scalloper came in and tied up at the end of Straight Wharf. The sea scalloper was the Inspiration. I have never seen her here before. She’s a big steel highline boat. These guys don’t mess around. Everything is shipshape and in its place. Looks like she tows two 16-foot-wide dredges. I also noted that she has a bulbous bow. Look at where her winches are. Up high above the deck. And the captain has his own house in which he can control the winches while setting out and hauling back the dredges. All her windows are tinted. Here are some photos
– Martie Mack writes the Nantucket Waterfront News blog

Goodman’s Gam

Friday, December 9th, 2011

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(Dec. 1, 2011) We now have a month left to go in 2011. This year went by in record time. Every year, time feels as if it goes by more rapidly, but 2012 is upon us in a trice. Having enjoyed a warmer than usual fall season, it’s entirely possible I was fooled into believing that January was nowhere near. As long as our weather stays nice, I don’t care what date the calendar says it is.

What is vexing to me is the selling of the upcoming holiday season. Ads on television are especially disgusting. The day following Thanksgiving should be spent taking life easy, not braving crowds of crazed shoppers. Admittedly, we don’t have a real Black Friday here on Nantucket. There are no big-box stores to be seen on island.

One commercial I watched showed a woman shoving an older woman out of her way as the doors to a store opened. Later, she snatched something out of another woman’s cart. What does this say about us as a nation?

On Friday, national news reports led with violence among shoppers, people were maced and there were a couple of gunshot victims as well. I was always taught that this time of year was all about peace and goodwill to others. What I see are scads of cheesy Chinese goods that have a shelf-life of a few months. Most are forgotten and broken in no time at all. This is why a handmade gift is so very special.

I hope that most of you are thinking about shopping here. Money spent on-island goes back into our community, for the most part. Spend your buck at Wal-Mart and it will never, ever touch Nantucket. Instead of going shopping off-island this weekend, reroute, and head up to the Super Bowl game to watch the Whalers do their best to beat Boston’s Latin Academy up in Taunton. A win for the team would go a long way toward erasing the heartbreaking loss to the Vineyard.

The Cold Turkey Plungers were lucky, in that they had a warm day, with above-average water temperatures in the harbor. I remember the initial plunge. It was as cold a day as I’m able to remember in November. I was bundled up to stand there and watch, and even then was freezing. Some of the swimmers told me the frozen sand felt like cut glass under their feet. Ouch!

Originally, I liked the idea of a wind generator out by the dump, but once the size was disclosed, that brought forth dismay. Whether the machine would affect people close by is up for speculation. The visual aspect would be horrendous for all of us. The dump site isn’t on anybody’s list of beautiful vistas, but this sight would be a blight on the horizon for miles around.

I’d love to see local folks take over the MSPCA animal shelter and hospital, then run it the right way. My belief is that the Angell people won’t make things easy. They’ve made it clear that this is all about money. I wonder if islanders could pony up the money needed to take it over, much less have enough to run it.

Another subject that’s somewhat similar is the group trying for seal abatement. Again, something needs to be done with these pesky seagoing mammals, though I doubt it will happen. I’d be willing to bet that most people regard gray seals as cute (they do look cute).

Try fishing around them and you’ll soon change your mind. Not only that, it won’t be long before they will “own” most of the beaches along Great Point, Tuckernuck and Muskeget. Other areas are sure to follow as their population continues to explode.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears regularly in this space and The Inquirer and Mirror