North by Northeast

An Open Letter to Congressman Markey in Support of the Route 16 Green Line terminus
25 October, 2008, 10:14 am
Filed under: Local, politics | Tags: , , ,

Below is the text of my correspondence, sent this morning, to my U.S. Representitive, Congressman Ed Markey of the 7th district. It urges his public support of the Route 16 terminus for the Green Line extension through Medford. For more on this issue, please visit the Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance web site.

Dear Congressman,

I’m writing to urge your public support for a local issue here in Medford that has a strong, positive impact on Eastern Massachusetts, on which you can have a very positive impact on I urge your support and leadership for the MBTA Green Line Terminus at Route 16 in Medford.

I’ve been working along with the Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance to ensure that we take this once in a lifetime opportunity to build as much infrastructure as possible to benefit the future generations of our city.

As a new resident of the city (3 years) I got involved too late to help support the state’s initial plan to have the Green Line terminate at the West Medford Commuter Rail Stop, which is the line’s logical terminus. I sincerely regret this. I feel the residents of that part of town made a poor choice for the future of our city, for our environment and for our neighbors who rely on public transportation to make their lives in the greater metro area possible.

I hope that you do not make the same mistake I did, but in regard to the Route 16 terminus, supporting it too late to make a difference.

I am a home owner on Orchard Street. My backyard abuts the railway that will be under strenuous construction for an untold number of years to make this extension possible. I am willing to deal with that inconvenience for the greater good of our city, its citizens and our environment. Right now, I deal with very loud commuter trains passing every 15 minutes or so, from which I get almost no benefit. At 2 in the morning, CSX freight trains roll by and shake my house, only about 25 yards from my newborn son’s nursery and my own bedroom. It’s about time something moved through that ravine that benefitted its neighbors instead of only annoying us.

As a former resident of Brookline who lived very near to the C-line, I know the noisiest that line can be, on outdated tracks that make the trains squeal. Even that noise would be many times more acceptable than what I have now, but that does not benefit me. New tracks and new trains on the all-electric Green Line would be nearly silent compared to the diesel behemoths that pass by now. Improved sound walls that the EOT has promised with construction will actually make my situation better, despite increased traffic in my backyard. The new sound and vibration damping will work with commuter trains and freight trains as well as the much quieter electric trolleys.

I believe that this is the first time I’ve written to you that I’ve urged you to take a stance on an issue I didn’t believe you already favored. I’m very appreciative of your leadership in high-tech and communications issues, such as net neutrality. In all, I’m extremely pleased that you are my Representative. I hope that you’ll come through for me here, in an issue that perhaps one of the most personally important to our city’s life.

Please feel free to contact me personally if you would like any additional input from a direct abutter to the tracks.

Thank you for your time.

Brian W. Christiansen


Another friend hits the blogosphere!
10 April, 2008, 1:03 pm
Filed under: Local, web

My friend (and for the time-being, co-worker) Ash is going travelling this summer to Asia and I think I finally conveniced her to creat a blog about it: Global Trottage. Her first post on packing (a black art, I’m told) is here.

All she needs now is an Amazon referrer account, so she can get kickbacks on the all gear she’s recommending… enough of it will ultimately add up!

We look forward to reading the tales and seeing the pictures!

Wal-Mart Spends big in MA to Avoid Paying Taxes
6 February, 2008, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Local, politics

Wal-Mart Spends big in MA to Avoid Paying Taxes

In the past year alone, Wal-Mart spent more than $200,000 on lobbyists to keep a Mass state tax loophole open so they can avoid $5+Million in taxes. They do this by paying rent to a company they own in Delaware, and then deducting the cost of rent as an expense from their tax returns. Wish I could that. Suppose I need to up my lobbyist spending. Oh, and they cost the state another $7.2 Million in health care costs for their un-health-insured employees that have to then use Medicare instead.

Heavy Snow Warning for Medford
13 January, 2008, 4:22 pm
Filed under: Local | Tags: , ,

I am excited that we’re under a heavy snow warning in Eastern Mass. But I have some serious concerns about my street! Normally, plowing on Orchard Street is not outstanding, considering we’re a residential, one-way street.

The hole in Orchard Street, Medford, Mass.

Friday, the city made some repairs to something under our street and left a hole and MHD sign in the middle of the street. The hole takes up at least half the street. Plus, someone has brilliantly parked directly next to the hole, making circumventing it excessively difficult. My small car barely fits between the hole and the car. The hole has sharp edges and is a couple inches deep. It could certainly damage a wheel at any sort of speed.

I doubt the city will fill the hole before the snow starts in four hours–how will the plows get by the sign? If they move it, and we can’t see the hold under the snow, whose wheel gets dented? Will the snow fill it in and provide enough support for passing cars? Will a plow blade get caught on the lip? Quite the drama could unfold tonight and tomorrow.

December Nor’easter
16 December, 2007, 12:34 pm
Filed under: General, Local, observations, outdoors, photos

Towards Winthrop, originally uploaded by bwc.

Not all snow storms are nor’easters. The definition is a storm which is turning counter-clockwise and battering New England from the north east direction. Today we had one.

Here’s a few more pictures I shot.

It started early in the morning (the overnight) and was easily 5″ of light, fluffy powder when I began shoveling around 8am. Around 9, the sleet began. By the time I came in at 10, my shell was soaked from the wet precipitation.

A good day to stay inside and watch the Patriots. But if you haven’t cleared out your snow – its only getting wetter and heavier every moment. Good luck with that.

Against Casinos in Massachusetts
9 December, 2007, 11:19 am
Filed under: Local, observations, politics

Casino foes mobilizing against Patrick’s plan – Boston Globe

The League of Women Voters is distributing form letters for members to send to their legislators. It has also enlisted a former Ledyard, Conn., resident to speak about how her community changed for the worse after the Foxwoods Resort and Casino opened.

I’ve mentioned before that I do not support the idea of casinos in Massachusetts. Being from Connecticut, where both my wife and I grew up near the location of those casinos, we have first-hand experience with casinos in New England, before and after. It’s not pretty. The only people who win with casinos are the developers.

There are a minimum of quality jobs created. The low quality jobs are often filled by people who move in from elsewhere, not by locals. With the great expense of housing in Massachusetts, I would be flabbergasted if these jobs paid enough for these workers to have reasonable housing. There is nearly no benefit for local businesses—casinos are ecosystems in and of themselves.

The communities which host the casinos are overwhelmed in regard to infrastructure and services (roads, emergency services, schools, affordable housing). It’s a bad deal all around—except for the wealthy developers—who grow richer at the expense of the community.

[ PS – I have been a supporter of Patrick. But why waste effort on this, how about pushing your Clean Energy, Smart Growth, and biotech initiatives? ]

Update: Just found this excellent source for information on the impact of casino gambling on communities, written by a community group around Middleboro. It meshes very well with my first-hand experiences in Connecticut.

Update 2: Scott Adams sums up my opinion of gambling in general: Urge to Simplify

Buying Bio Heat Home Heating Oil in Medford or near Boston
5 December, 2007, 11:19 am
Filed under: environment, Local | Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s that time of year again – it’s gotten cold, and the fuel oil is getting low. In previous years, I’ve bought from Burke Oil, in Chelsea, Mass but a call this morning confirmed that Burke will no longer deliver BioHeat to a residence. Not good, as last time I checked, they were the only company to deliver to Medford.

Good news though, Mass Energy, a non-profit consumer’s alliance now does deliver (or rather an associated dealer does) to Medford. I’ve signed up this morning ($20 fee to join), and hope to talk with the oil people soon. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I posted a request for alternative bioheat providers on Craigslist, but that was also before I called Burke, and learned they no longer deliver to residences.

Update: The Oil people who work with Mass Energy called. They only run a truck with BioHeat irregularly. As in rarely. I had to buy 100 Gallons (minimum delivery) of all-petroleum #2 home heating oil just to keep the house warm. However, going through Mass Energy saved me at least $0.10 per gallon. They had no idea when the next truck would roll with the BioHeat fuel. Also, their BioHeat deliveries are strongly tilted towards their automatic delivery customers, so being a will-call customer is difficult.

It looks as though I will sign up for auto-delivery for BioHeat soon.