Archive for June, 2014

Jun 25 2014

When buying a State Rep won’t work, throw more lawyers at the problem

Published by under General

Neighbors raise ante in oyster fight | CapeCodOnline.com.

The Greedheads of Popponesset Bay will not go quietly as far as Richard Cook's oyster farm is concerned . Having failed to sneak in a midnight amendment to the state budget to declare his underwater clam farm a "marine sanctuary," they are falling back on that time-honored last resort of the wealthy which is to out-lawyer the little guy. Sort of like raising the bet  in a poker game until everybody has to fold.

Having been denied by every Mashpee board with a horse in the race, the homeowners (a largely  anonymous group who have hired Sandwich pettifogger Brian Wall to keep dragging things along), are now appealing to the State Supreme Judicial Court to kick the case to the Cape Cod Commission for their review because it is a commercial venture.

The appeals court already slapped Wall and his waterfront clients down when they said their objections are without claim because the project is outside of the town's zoning authority because it is beyond the extreme low tide mark.

Three years and counting. And all over a clam farm.

4 responses so far

Jun 25 2014

Dealing with Biters

Published by under General

With regards to the biting soccer star from Uruguay, I offer the following solution to FIFA's disciplinary committee:

My father , the late Tony Churbuck, had a proven parenting technique for stopping the biting of siblings and friends. This was a man who's life's motto was "Don't get mad. Get even."

He would examine the bitten party, calm them down, and check to see if their skin was broken and if they needed hydrogen peroxide and bandages. After calm and quiet was restored he would call the biter over and ask them to present the same body part on themselves that they had just chomped on the victim.

The biter, lulled into complacency by watching his victim be consoled and examined for damage, would usually approach Tony and sheepishly extend the same body part. At which point Tony would take a nice, firm grip (from which there was never any escape) and bite the biter. Hard.  He would do this to cousins, even visiting friends, and always deny it if accused.

If I were FIFA I would hire Mike Tyson to deliver the penalty.

One response so far

Jun 12 2014

If the Kettleers had a mascot….

Published by under Baseball,Cape Cod,Cotuit

Opening day in Cotuit today but I went to Hyannis last night for the season opener against the Hyannis Harborhawks and witnessed the unveiling of their new mascot, a person in a bird suit.  The mascot's name is "Ossie"  as in Osprey. Hyannis has an identity crisis. They used to be the "Mets" but then the Cape Cod Baseball League's teams who were borrowing the names of major league teams had to stop because of trademark and licensing stuff. So the Mets became the Harborhawks, a nod to the ospreys that next on top of the light poles around the field. They kept the uniform colors of the Amazing New York Mets but the name was changed.

The real birds were there last night, making their screechy osprey peep sounds from their nest on top of the light pole behind the visitor's bleachers. Ossie was introduced to the crowd. This made me ask the guy next to me on the bleachers why they weren't called the "Hyannis Ospreys" in the first place.

The Hyannis Harborhawks are guilty of the same name confusion as Cape Cod Academy which has adopted the "Sea Hawk" as its mascot. There are no such things as Harbor Hawks and Sea Hawks.  Yes, "sea hawk" is blessed as a possible synonym for osprey by Wikipedia, but the Britannica Killer also says it can refer to the skua. Then there is the Sea Eagle -- a synonym for that classic crossword puzzle three-letter word: "Ern" -- but no Harbor Hawk exists except in Hyannis.

Personally, I'd embrace the Osprey and be done with it. Ospreys are cool. Ospreys are survivors.  And the frigging new mascot is running around calling itself "Ossie". Besides they named a really expensive controversial but bad ass helicopter-plane after the species:

I think Hyannis is at the vanguard of a dangerous trend in Cape Cod Baseball:  more mascots. I won't speculate what Wareham would come up with, since they are the Gatemen (maybe a security guard would work).  Chatham (the original "quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem") has the Mariners -- so some guy stuffed into some waders with an 11-foot long surfcasting rod could be easily pressed into service and cast t-shirts into the bleachers in between innings. Brewster has the Whitecaps. Tough one there.I guess a custom costume that looked like a Big Wave, give the thing a Supersoaker, have it blast kids. Blow off a tsunami warning horn after every home run?

But Cotuit.... We have a kettle to thank for our name. The kettle that Myles Standish used to "pay" the Wampanoags for the land that became Cotuit, which with a garden hoe thrown in to sweeten the deal, gives us the name of the local tavern, The Kettle-Ho (which lost in the early rounds of the recent Real Cape dive bar contest).

The Kettle-Ho's mascot is a mermaid (arguably a "ho" herself as the bar's motto is "Not the 'Ho You Used to Know") ,  holding a hoe and cuddling a black kettle with her tail.  The sign hangs just a few doors down from the offices of my insurance broker, Mycock Insurance (the Cape Cod Baseball League's championship trophy is named after longtime Cotuit Kettleer manager, Arnold Mycock).

Other than the baseball team and the bar, the kettle thing doesn't have a lot of legs in the village. But, if Cotuit were to get a mascot, what would we get? They pass plastic kettles around the stands to raise some cash every game. And I've seen a fan show up with a brass kettle and bang on it like a Swiss ski fan ringing more cowbell on the slopes of the Matterhorn, I guess it would have to be somebody running around in a kettle specific version of the Kool-Aid Man.

My neighbor at last night's game agreed with the Kool-Aid guy idea, but suggested there would also need to be a "hoe" which of course led to inappropriate speculation about how a "hoe" would be represented in a costume.

Any way, Cotuit lost last night, 3-2 and stranded something like a dozen baserunners, keeping us on our toes with the bases loaded in the ninth. But alas. It was not to be for the 2013 Cape Cod champions. Today at 5 they open at home against Hyannis, game two of the Patriot Cup. Without a mascot but with nice new home stands.

 

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Jun 11 2014

Wild Kingdom of Kotuit

Published by under Cotuit,General

5 am today, sitting down and reading the "paper" on my tablet, the birds waking up and hitting the feeders under the grape arbor and making their usual racket when suddenly out of the corner of my eye I see an explosion of birds scattering in all directions and a grey blur go whistling past the window.

This was the local grey fox who lives somewhere in the woods between me and the harbor on the hunt for a squirrel. Grey foxes used to be the most common fox on the East Coast (they range all over the country from Canada to Mexico, Cape Cod to the Channel Islands off of Santa Monica) but now the more familiar red fox is the one you see around the garbage cans at the beaches the most. They are like little dogs, in fact they are one of the most primitive of the canids, about the size of a skinny beagle with a sort of mongrelish, mini-coyote look to them. Definitely not the more stylish and regal look of the red fox.

The birds fled the scene but the squirrel who had been hanging upside down on the peanut feeder decided to hide in the grape leaves. Because the house sort of envelops the arbor on three sides in an alcove, the escape route is one way across the yard where they can either cross the open grass and duck into the bushes, or cut right towards Main Street, or left towards the back gardens and the chicken coop. This squirrel decided to wait things out on top of the arbor.

The fox circled the arbor for a few minutes. Freezing from time to time whenever the squirrel rustled the leaves and made a move towards the great escape. The fox stood on its back legs and peered into the dense green cover, then dropped back down and sat on the grass, sort of hanging out patiently.

The squirrel made its move too soon. It dropped from the arbor, literally hit the ground running, and took off across the lawn. Total Wild Kingdom scene ensued as the fox followed, about a foot behind the terrified squirrel. eventually stepping on the squirrel's busy tail and causing it to wipe out. I was bummed. I was rooting for the squirrel. The fox grabbed it by the neck with its teeth and started shaking it hard -- right in the open. The squirrel didn't like that.

Then a clutch of the ladies-who-walk came cackling along the sidewalk. The fox froze. They didn't see him. He dropped the squirrel (whom I figured was dead) but no, the Squirrel was resurrected and made another dash for the bushes and freedom.

The fox followed and again, the game of hide in the bush and wait started to play itself out again. Eventually the squirrel hopped from the top of one arborvitae to the next, flung itself at the black cherry tree and headed up. Meanwhile, I'm in Wikipedia reading about the grey fox and learned it can climb trees really well. This one stood up, forepaws on the trunk, looked up and seemed to shrug and say, "Screw it."

Anyway, if the fox can deal with the rat problem under the bird feeders, he's welcome to them If he poses a threat to the Yorkshire Terrier (everything in theory poses a threat to lap dogs) he's toast. And we're all relieved that one of the squirrels -- a ratty, wino looking squirrel with half a tail we've nicknamed "Stumpy" -- was seen on the arbor just a half-hour later. Now to see if this morning's assault victim limps back with any injuries.

One response so far

Jun 09 2014

Stepping off the upgrade treadmill – I hate my devices

Published by under Technology

Random rant expressing hatred of my technology this cloudy Monday morning.....

There was saying among reporters in the tech press in the 1980s that "The PC you want always costs $5000."

I heard this often enough from enough people who knew the business that I had to agree -- the PC you could afford was about $1,000, but the one you wanted, the really, really good one that could play Flight Simulator, was $5,000. Upgrading to a new PC was a point of professional pride for a tech reporter.  PC Week gave reporters the original IBM 8088 PC, the one Charlie Chaplin introduced that started it all, an ugly grey monster with a cast-iron keyboard that was the best I've ever used. If you were cool you got the IBM PC one with a 10 megabyte hard disk, the IBM PC AT. I remember when the 386 chip came out and the Editor in Chief had the first one from Compaq. Definitely a $5000 machine at the time. Forbes was lost in the stone ages and it took mutinies and expense account fraud to get a PC that would actually work (and I was the senior tech editor).

Now me and the rest of the world is lugging around tablets and smartphones and notebooks and bluetooth speakers and god knows what else and no one other than a few paste-eaters give a damn what "megabyte" size it is or what magic chip makes it go faster. When the iPad arrived I took one look at the rectangle of glass and said "So much for design. Not much you can do with a rectangle."

I think I was right. Other than the size of the rectangle -- be it a phone in your hand, or a tablet in your lap -- the only thing that makes one different from another is the software it runs. It's all about the cult of the backend store these days -- are you a Windows person or an Apple cultist? A follower of the Google or you've bought into Amazon Prime? I really don't care if my rectangle comes from Apple or Lenovo or Samsung or Dell.

Now, as my phone contract is up for renewal and my Google Nexus 7 is running a little slower, I realize I could care less about shelling out a few hundred for the next great rectangles. Other than the fact I despise Sprint and my Samsung Galaxy S3 is infected with a mysteriously cheery ring tone that just goes off at random moments because of some ghost app I can't be bothered to hunt down .....and the New York Times takes too long to load stories on the tablet .... I honestly have reached a complete state of device anhedonia where I could go on with the same crappy stuff for another two years, scratching it up and cracking the cases and in general not giving a damn about being seen in public with the latest drool-inducing toy. And who wants to buy new accessories for the damn things?

I think my next device is going to be a hearing aid.

 

3 responses so far

Jun 06 2014

Cape Cod Modern

Published by under Cape Cod

I live in an old house built in the 1820s, passed down through five generations thanks to a lot of childless great-aunts and the strange coincidence of only-child status enjoyed by my father and his father. It was added onto over the years in a haphazard marriage of outbuildings, barns, porches and what-not all tacked together into a big mess I have been told is an example of "Greek Revival."  My architectural antenna isn't very sharp. I know what I like and I know what I don't like, and I'd say my tastes run towards more to an old New England sensibility than anything else. But I've always loved modern architecture from the 50s and 60s ever since my rowing friend Steve moved to Cotuit and his parents built a very cool concrete and glass house in the pine woods overlooking Shoestring Bay. There isn't a lot of modern examples around Cotuit. A few are scattered along the waterfront, looking tired and overwhelmed by the trend towards wedding-cake ostentation that polluted the views of Osterville and Cotuit in the go-go years of the early 1990s and can be attributed to a local architecture (who shall go unnamed) who had an affinity for faux widow's walks and lighthouse-like turrets and a love affair with round windows, as if her designs were catalogue models for the Pella Window Company. Whatever, there was a nice little stink when former local TV celebrity carpenter Bob Vila threw the offending architecture under the bus in an interview with a local newspaper.

Reading the Wall Street Journal yesterday I learned something about Cape Cod architecture I never knew before. The outer Cape, especially in Wellfleet and Truro, is renowned among architects as a trove of very innovative designs from the 50s and early 60s. There is a group devoted to saving these places as they grow dilapidated and face being torn down. The Cape Cod Modern House Trust ... 

hatchhouseFrom the WSJ:  "Cape Cod was ... a stronghold of architectural experimentation, where the aesthetics of Europe's progressive-thinking designers dovetailed surprisingly well with the casually built oyster shacks, saltbox houses and seaside piers that dotted the woods and dunes."

I was so smitten by some of the designs on the CCMHT's website I ordered a copy of their coffee table book. Some of the designs are absolutely awesome, especially when you consider some of them are close to 70 years old and look as fresh as anything designed today.

That "recent old Cape" of the last century -- when the outer Cape was a haven of bohemian intellectualism beginning with the writers and painters of Provincetown, then the summer stock theater scene around the Falmouth and Cape Cod Playhouses .... followed by the reputation of Wellfleet as a summer writers' colony for New Yorkers -- gave a lot of flavor to the place before subdivision disasters of the 70s and 80s when the woods were turned into so many Levitttowns and the the seashore became a stage for the Masters of the Universe in their trophy homes with their trophy wives.

It's cool to see these modern classics lovingly restored.

kugel

 

 

 

One response so far

Jun 01 2014

Nothing taken for granted | CapeCodOnline.com

Published by under General

Nothing taken for granted | CapeCodOnline.com.

The Cape Cod Times editorializes in favor of Richard Cook's Popponesset Bay oyster farm.

I'm still waiting for some official rebuke against the greedhead property owners who are tormenting this poor man. They've got to be made to pay for their treachery.

One response so far

Jun 01 2014

Stop the presses, Old Shore Road is now one way

Published by under Cotuit

Old Shore Road -- it's the road pictured in the image at the head of this blog (a wide-angle panorama taken at the turn of the 19th century and found in a Churbuck collection somewhere) -- connecting Main Street two doors down from my house with the boat ramp, the public bathing beach/dinghy rack at Ropes Beach, the yacht club, and then up the hill to the curve where Putnam Ave swings right  and turns briefly into Maple at the broad expanse of the Ropes Field.

The town, at the urging of the Cotuit-Santuit Civic Association, has been focused on Old Shore Road for a couple years. First they banned dinghies and rowboats and hobie cats and sunfishes and paddleboats from hanging around on the beach between November 15 and April 15. They called out the surveyors last year and staked out the parameters of the road leading to some fears it would be widened. Then they started hanging up even more signs prohibiting the parking of boat trailers, and as of this past week, they have officially made the road one-way from Putnam up to Main Street.

I guess I'm supportive. Old Shore Road is being loved to death.

It will suck not being to duck down the hill in the car on my way to Hyannis or the grocery store to take a quick look at my boats to make sure all is well and the bilge pumps are keeping up with the rainwater. Two way traffic is a disaster on the narrow road, especially during weekends and busy times such as when a hurricane approaches and everyone re-learns how to back up a trailer on the nice new (relatively new) boat ramp installed over the old sandy spot a decade ago. The stretch along the beach is nearly impassable on a sunny summer afternoon as boaters, rubberneckers, pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers and the handful of residents off of the road try to make their way from one end to another.

[Can I say a word about the proliferation of signage down there? There has to be over three dozen different town signs along Old Shore Road -- everything from stop signs to parking signs to don't refuel your boat signs, eastern blue crab season, no trailers, a long list of beach regulations, no dinghy warnings, handicapped parking ..... on and on and on. The visual blight is astonishing. Come on. We can do away with 90 percent I bet. ]

In the end the situation is understandable. There is precious little public beach front in Cotuit and this is spot is the main attraction for boaters, fishermen, sailors and clammers (along with the Town Dock). As the harbor becomes more and more crowded and the inland population of the Cape becomes more insulated and walled off from the water, any aperture with access is going to feel more and more pressure. Personally? I'd make it pedestrian only except for residents and people launching boats with no parking anywhere. Ropes Beach --- once a pristine little bathing beach with pretty lifeguards and a bathhouse, and a water fountain -- is a dilapidated place for people to park and walk their dogs out to Handy's Point (the dog-mitt dispenser for turds is missing and special thanks to the dog walkers who leave their little knotted bags in the beach grass). Come summer the beach is taken over by the sailing classes at the yacht club, and every year the place gets closed down due to excessive bacteria run-offs following rain storms.

It isn't going back to the way it was, but at least the "one-way-ification" may take off some of the pressure from the rubbernecking motorists.

One response so far