Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dr. Njiiri at Tower Square

[DATELINE: 02-27-07]

To many, Dr. Ruth Njiiri* may well be an unknown. But to her fans, she is an inspiration. While on one of my many tours of the downtown area, I slipped into the Tower Square just after 11:30am for a quick bite to eat. Inside, I noticed preparations were being made for Dr. Njiiri's appearance there, scheduled for noontime. I had no idea who the woman was, myself, so I checked my itinerary and saw that I had just enough time on my schedule to briefly listen in on the lecture she was due to give.

For lunch, I enjoyed the #2 combo meal - a burger with fries and a soda - courtesy of the Tower Grille. Afterward, I wandered across the mall to where a balcony overlooked the stage area where Dr. Njiiri was to speak (on the ground floor). I was just in time, as the Doctor's presenter was about to introduce her to the audience.

I glanced around, below. There were about sixteen chairs lined up in two rows facing the stage area, which was just beside the escalator. On hand, too, was a member of Springfield's Finest to provide security.

Finally, the presenter introduced Dr. Njiiri, who approached the stage as the audience politely clapped. The Doctor smiled back at everyone in attendance, thanking all five of them for showing up for her lecture (including the organizer, who was busily photographing the event for history). There were two elderly women, a young man in military fatigues, and one scruffy old white man who seemed (to me anyway) oddly out of place. It was a strange scene, both mildly amusing and eerily quaint. The Doctor immediately requested that her audience move up closer to her, which they happily did. At this point, the police officer's primary role became clear to me as he quickly moved to assist an elderly woman in getting up from her chair and shuffling forward.

The Doctor then began her lecture. Everyone seemed in perfect harmony with how things were unfolding. And I felt perfectly at ease with just walking away.

*Dr. Njiiri was the personal secretary to former Kenya President Jom Kenyatta.

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Missing Persons in New England

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

QUEST FOR CRIME! - Episode One

Masslive's Springfield forum had come alive with reports of a terrorized citizenry falling victim to dozens of muggings, rapes, and purse snatchings - all perpetrated in broad daylight, each and every day! (Egads!) The anonymous poster (of course!) apparently spends hours of his valuable time every day listening with rapt attention to every cry for help issuing forth from his trusty Internet-connected police scanner. His conclusion? Springfield is a den of depravity. A housing complex of horrors. A village of villainy!

After learning of the explosive torrent of crime riddling our once-fair streets, I decided to venture into the peril all by my lonesome, nifty camcorder in hand, to seek out the endless mayhem allegedly cursing us all. My heart racing, I prepared myself for the worst. Anxiety gripped my soul.

The resulting video may shock you. (Or it may very well put you to sleep.)

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Missing Persons in New England

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Because We Said So

Wednesday night, February 21st, 2007, the Springfield Public Health Council voted unanimously to come to the aid of those who never sought their assistance. The Council decided to force a smoking ban on private clubs in the name of "public health." Defenders of the integrity of private clubs crowded the hearing to have their voices heard, but in vain. Public Health Council member Dr. Jeffrey H. Scavron stated that while he respected the people who spoke out at the meeting, banning smoking was an important public health measure.

Now, I'm a non-smoker, and I'm also a member of a private club. But the Council, in voting to ban smoking in private clubs, also has continued an unsettling trend in lawmaking that restricts individual citizens from determining their own lifestyles, and so their own futures. We as a society should be supremely watchful of those who make rules which they say are needed to protect us from ourselves.

Let's be clear on the particular matter of private clubs: Every single member is there by choice. Indeed, they asked to join. Yes, it is true that some private clubs have allowed public access to their facilities - or certain parts of those facilities. And any club with such access should have the same requirements [in those areas] as any public facility. But the Health Council overreacted in this instance. Rather than make the prudent judgement that any private club that employs non-members or allows public access to private facilities needs to adhere to public smoking laws in those areas, they instead chose the absolute measure of banning a privately-allowed (and so otherwise perfectly legal) activity altogether. For the good of society, you know.

We've heard this refrain before. Motorcyclists wear helmets for their own good - because we said so. Litigation concerns and insurance issues have brought our entire society to the point of having to think twice before we even leave the house.

Reasonable people understand that there are circumstances where safety concerns should outweigh an individual's right to decide: Drug and alcohol abuse, which effects others. Seat belts for toddlers and youngsters. Even a smoking ban in public facilities. But society needs to draw a line somewhere. And that somewhere should have been with private clubs. The only other private things we have left are our homes and our bodies.

But the noose is tightening.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Adventure Soup

I was cooking up one of my favorite meals the other day, and it occurred to me that I should probably share my little secret recipe with all the world - so that everyone can enjoy a great bowl of soup! I'm actually a fairly bad cook, but this is one adventurous meal that even Jennifer Adams, over at Valley Victuals, is sure to enjoy (if she likes oysters) - and maybe even look back upon fondly for years and years to come. In fact, that is precisely the name of my recipe: Adventure Soup.

Okay. First, the ingredients. I'm assuming the cook will be cooking for two people, or thereabouts. Oh, and uh, I'm not too keen on exact measurements, either. Anything close to the amounts I mention here should be okay. Let's begin...

- 1 can of Whole Boiled Oysters.
- 1 can of Whole Baby Clams.
- About 3 cups of Milk. (?)
- Worcestershire Sauce.
- Hot Sauce (any brand will do).
- Half Stick of Butter or "I Can't Believe it's Not Butter."
- At least a Tablespoon of Chopped Garlic. (Hoowaa!)
- Salt & Pepper.

Some folks might add chopped potatoes, but I think not, myself. As an added delight, you can also add in a few crawfish.

Alrighty then. Let's get cooking!

Put the milk in a medium-sized pot (or is that sauce pan? I don't know what they call them). Add in the juice from the cans of Oysters and Clams. Stir and heat it all up on some kind of low setting - just DON'T boil the milk! Through the years, I've tried this recipe with boiled milk a few times (unfortunately), and it is not good.

Add in the butter, garlic, and salt & pepper. (I prefer a good dose of salt, but you folks can add the salt & pepper to your personal taste.) Next, add in the oysters, clams, and pour in the worcestershire sauce & hot sauce - at least a tablespoon of each. The more hot sauce, the more adventurous the soup!

Keep the whole thing on low heat for a few minutes - I can never wait any longer than it takes to heat up the little oyster bodies.

And there you have it: Adventure Soup.
Serve and enjoy!

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Golfing in the Snow

A look at whether golfing with colored golf balls really does make a difference when golfing in the snow. Sometimes, though, things just don't turn out the way you intended, and I was a little disappointed with the results, here. I was a bit shaky on the cam in one segment (it was chilly out there), and it's difficult to hear the golfer, Bryce Piemonte, talk. But overall, not too bad. The video runs 4m + 40s.

Oh, and please, spare me the jokes about the sun-spot reflection on my forehead! I didn't have any camera makeup on me ;-)

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Blizzard of 2007 - Springfield, MA

The much anticipated blizzard that struck Springfield, MA, fizzled into a sleet storm. It was slippery and it was cold. But the heavy snowfall predicted was a no-show in these parts. The below video is about 6 minutes long. I'm kind of bummed out that I couldn't include a near-hit by a Jeep Grande Cherokee that sped out onto the road ahead of me as I rolled up Central Street, sliding out-of-control and nearly whacking me.

I didn't have the camcorder on >:-\

The Route:
Home, Main Street, Central, Rifle, Allen, White, Sumner, Belmont, & North Main Street, East Longmeadow.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Birds Cool Off Via Butts

Here's an interesting story from Birds Cool Off via Butts

Can you imagine being one of the bird subjects in the experiments? ("You're going to glue my what shut?!")

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

PETA's State of the Union "Undress"

In the interests of social diversity and political fairness - not to mention the woman in the video is pretty dang nice looking, I have opted to make available the PETA "State of the Union Undress" video. It's a social-awareness video. Really. I'm not kidding. Something about animals, I believe.


Personally, I believe animal testing is essential to medical research. The alternative - testing untried drugs on humans - is not an alternative. As far as the slaughterhouses go, there should be better controls on the treatment of the animals there. It's enough that they're going to be our dinner soon, we shouldn't be torturing them on top of that.

Otherwise.... pass me the beef!

(Warning! Not work-place friendy! If you are offended by nudity, I strongly advise you do not watch this video! )

Watch more PETA videos at

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Benefit for Nowak (??)

Here's a tear-jerker:

A Florida restaurant holds a benefit for Astronut Lisa Nowak.

If this had been a guy stalking a woman with intent to harm or kill, would the good folks have been so caring?

A quote: "It seemed like the compassionate thing to do," said Janet Ritzi of Readfield, Maine, who's staying in Melbourne Beach on vacation. "Just as a human being, may we all be so considerate."


I hope they at least sent Shipman a card.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Anonymously Speaking

I remember the early days of my Internet carousing. It was fun - a new experience filled with so many unknowns. Yes, there was danger. But there was also a lot of excitement. One of the best things about getting online was being able to have an entirely different persona - I could have a "new me." And I could say whatever I wanted, because I didn't know any of the folks I was yapping at, and they didn't know me.

But with the anonymity also came a sort of detachment. Sure, I could be rude, aggressive, or incredibly silly. But no one would ever get to know the real me. And so it kind of made the interactive correspondence a little lonely, too.

That all changed about five or six years ago, when I decided to "get real." So nowadays, although I still have a user name for my various accounts, I always try to be sure to fill out the "profile" option if the account has one, and there for all to see is exactly who I am. No mystery. No intrigue. Just Bill Dusty.

I still marvel at the rudeness of some of those out there who use their anonymity to say cruel and ridiculous things to others. You know who you are. Typing away with a snide grin, knowing full well that no matter how vicious or insulting you are, it's just "JoeCool23" doing the cutting. The Mr. Know-It-Alls out there, who firmly believe that they are the smartest people posting to the forums, and if you don't agree with them, then, well, that's just because you're an idiot.

Personally, I think most forums should ban anonymous posting. You'd fill out a form with your name & address, and that would become a part of your profile - with maybe the address hidden, if you wished. But you'd have to have your real name there. Some good folks might balk at that, for whatever reason. But nearly all of the jerks would be gone.

Better yet, here's another idea: could host a forums gathering - "a Forums forum," if you will. They could invite everyone who posts at least five times a week on the Masslive forums (or something like that). To entice folks to show up, they could have, say, an hour-long open bar, with chips & dip and cheese and crackers. At the door, people would be checked off as they stated their user names (this, to keep out the street folks). Then, instead of getting a name tag with their real names, they would have to wear tags with their user names. I think it would all be rather humorous to see how civil everyone is towards one another when the blinders are removed. No insults, no stabs, and everyone would finally get to see what that egotistical SOB really looks like (every forum has one).

Ah, to dream. But I do like the open bar idea.

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Downtown on a Sunday Afternoon

It was a fine day to be outside, so I took one of my strolls up Maple and down State Street on my way to downtown. As I walked onto Main Street, a couple of kids passed by me with a stack of "Prime" newspapers in their clutches. One of them asked if I wanted to buy a copy for 25 cents. That's a terrible deal, of course, since the little newsmagazine is actually free. But still, at least they attempted to offer something in return for some coin (unlike some of our other roaming residents).

After I walked along a little further, however, I came upon a slew of these newsmagazines blowing around all over the place by Court Square. I did this quick film (see below), then made a vain effort to pick up some of the copies. Walking on still further, by the Boland statue, I saw a stack of the newsmags on the sidewalk, only just starting to get blown around. I picked those up and tossed them into a nearby trash barrel (sorry "Prime" folks).

That's one thing about litter in a neighborhood: all it takes is one or two people to make a place look bad. It was especially eerie-looking downtown because it was a Sunday afternoon and the streets were largely empty, so the scene - empty streets, papers blowing all around - reminded me of the Charlton Heston movie, "The Omega Man."




Friday, February 09, 2007

Heritage Park - East Longmeadow

Just a chilly winter day at Heritage Park in East Longmeadow, MA. The folks were out skating, the birds were out chirping, and all was at peace in the world - if only at the park that day. Sorry, no swans - I believe they're on sabbatical for the winter.

UPDATE: I've been told by a couple of folks that the swing set mentioned in the video is not the same one where an unfortunate man was killed. There is, however, some conflict in each's story about precisely where the event occurred. So I'm not going to sweat the details. Suffice to say, he is with us no more.


Visiting the York Street Jail - 02.07.2007

As I walked around the former jail in Springfield, MA, I couldn't help but be touched by a sense of quiet loneliness, as if the old building itself was reaching out to me, asking me not to leave. A few days earlier, I had a conversation with a couple of guys who once worked there. They both agreed that as bad as the building was at times, they were still going to miss it after it is finally brought down.

The York Street Jail is 120 years old, so I guess it's earned our sentiments. It was once a busy building, with prisoners, guards, and other personnel filling its corridors and offices. But those bleak halls will never again hear the clamouring of footfalls, nor the voices of men - save for those who will come to destroy it.

The York Street Jail is doomed.

See a Cell Block Photo of the Jail Here

(above link, click on small images to enlarge)

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|| Missing Persons in New England ||

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

R.I.P. FHM (US) 2000 - 2007

A sad day in the world of Mandom came with my latest - and apparently last - delivery of For Him Magazine (FHM). The magazine's U.S. edition caved in and announced its demise this past December. All good things must eventually come to an end, so it is that one of my favorite male chauvinist magazines has passed into history. According to the obituary report, when trouble loomed for the whole girly-mag market, FHM shifted into "low" gear and opted for ever-risque covers and photo spreads, while its chief rivals moved to go more upscale.

And so never again will my eyes be blessed with page after page of barely-clothed young women from this fine rag. (Of course, there's always the international online edition!) Never again will I be witness to bad jokes, suspect sex advice, and terrible food reviews in quite the same way that FHM served them up to me.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

There are others, to be sure. Maxim and Stuff - the rivals that chose a more successful marketing strategy - will eagerly take up the void. And of course there's always Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler, where the chicks go all the way. But each time one of Our gender-biased magazines goes under, I can't help but get a little teary-eyed.

So it is with a heavy, grieving heart (among other parts of my anatomy) that I bid farewell to FHM.....

Well, I'm off to the Newstand to pick up the latest Stuff. - Later!

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|| Missing Persons in New England ||

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"What's A Towel Head?"

Massachusetts state representative Cheryl Coakley-Rivera (Springfield) has gone on record as saying she did not know what a "towel head" was until her ears were scorched by the term only in 2004. Frankly, I find that hard to believe, especially in light of the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001.

1.] 'towel head':
A derogatory term most often referring to an Arab person of Middle Eastern descent, specifically from the Persian Gulf region, who chooses to wear a towel upon his head as a form of head gear. Hence the term "towel head."

- See also, 'towelhead' (Webster's New Millenniumâ„¢ Dictionary of English)


Monday, February 05, 2007

Space Chick on a Mission

This story is so bizarre, Hollywood producers must be doing back-flips.

NASA astronauts are some of the most dedicated, highly trained and disciplined people in the world. But even so, they are still just dumbo humans - and sometimes whacked ones, at that.

So it became true for U.S. Navy Capt. Lisa Nowak, a NASA astronaut who flew on a shuttle mission just last year. Captain Nowak apparently snapped when she heard that another woman was seeing a man she had fallen in love with. Risk-taker that she is, Nowak quickly sprung into action: Sporting a pair of diapers (so she wouldn't have to stop), she hopped in her car and drove from Houston, Texas, to Orlando International Airport to confront her female rival. Her mission went awry, however, and she soon ended up in police custody.

Authorities reportedly found pepper spray, a BB gun cartridge, and latex gloves in her car. Nowak told police she only wanted to scare the other woman, Colleen Shipmen, to get her to talk about her relationship with her true love.

Believe it........... or not!

The whole story here

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Central Street Revisited

Last fall, in a little photo essay of trash dumping along Maple & Central streets, I included a photo of the proud residence at 105 Central Street. The folks there thought enough of their neighborhood to just toss their bedding furniture out on the curbside and let it rot there.

Well, the furniture did rot there. And apparently it worked out so well for them that they have decided to give it another go. What the hey? Why pay for a bulk pickup when you can just leave your crap out at the curb and watch nature go to work in the ensuing weeks and months?

I've often said that the city should be doing more to enforce its dumping laws, but it is also true that the residents of the city oftentimes have only themselves to blame for the trashing of their own communities. There is no excuse for the dumping, pictured below, which also includes a busted television set tossed out there, courtesy of another resident next door to our featured property.

While I was there, I also took a photo, below, of the rowhouse on the corner of Maple & Central, which caught fire last week. The front door now has a "condemned" notice on it. (Photos of the front steps along this building were also featured in my earlier blog post on dumping.)


Friday, February 02, 2007

Springfield United

Springfield United
An Alternative to Economic Prosperity

Springfield, MA, stands today as a mere shadow of its former self. Gone are its youthful trading days, its robust manufacturing years, and its once respected history as being a city of firsts and a metropolis of homes. Its ills are many, and its remedies have proven to be frustratingly elusive. The city needs a change of ideas. And it needs to find a new course through a history that, lately, has been unflinchingly cruel.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Touring The Mill River (Spfld, MA)

The Mill River in Springfield, MA, intersects the city's South End and Forest Park neighborhoods. It is a small waterway that most people probably never even notice as they go about their day-to-day routine. It's hidden from vehicular traffic by being nestled in steep embankments, with trees or fences blocking its view.

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