Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Both ends of a fine spring day

I've been reading that Federal general John Logan, as head of the Grand Army of the Republic, chose (originally) May 30 as Decoration Day because it commemorated no anniversary date of any Civil War battle. He hoped to leave the door open for common observance and eventually succeeded.

It must be a sign of age that I have made a habit of showing up for at least a part of our town's Memorial Day ceremonies.

The mind of a veteran goes very far away from the here and now during these things. My strange little Foggy Bottom ceremony a couple of years ago has, oddly enough, laid to rest the worst of the memories that had troubled me for more than 30 years. But one can't put on a navy ball cap with insignia, stand to parade rest or attention, render a salute, without remembering one's own experiences. The volley salute, in our town, is offered by an 18th C. re-enactment group. It's a reminder of how loud musket fire was, and how long it took between volleys. It's also vaguely disturbing that the death toll of veterans of what we coyly call "the Vietnam era" keeps going up.

The park where the keynote ceremony takes place is dominated by a silent obelisk to the fallen of the Civil War. There are smaller monuments to other wars around it. You need no skills but arithmetic to understand why this is the largest. Our media moan today because as of this weekend we have lost 1000 service personnel in nine years of war in Afghanistan. Our threshold of horror keeps shrinking. Skipping the intervening wars, that would have been the death toll of a single minor league Civil War one day. The obelisk, with its many score of fallen from one town, reminds us of that.

Just as well then that there were other things to do after paying the respects. Our trip to Yosemite is less than three months off. Practice is in order if we mean to a) enjoy it and b) come home alive. The nearest place with anything like sustained technical hiking is the Blue Hills Reservation, south of Boston. We contrived to get down there at a quiet moment in traffic, to put in (on my second trip and my wife's first) over three surprisingly vigourous hours of hiking, and to get back ahead of the slavering* mob of irate Cape Cod weekenders.

Here's another definition of "technical" hiking. It is hiking where you are on your hands and feet, but have not left the vertical. It is also hiking in the presence of six circling vultures, all of whom show an uncommon interest in your state of health.

(*"Slavering" is excessive, you say? Clearly, you have never been stuck in a seven to ten mile traffic jam of people trying to leave the Cape Cod holiday paradise right now. Most victims of these jams store up about six months worth of road rage in one afternoon.)

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Friday, May 28, 2010


As I mentioned the other day, among the 23 LinkedIn people with my odd-in-the-USA Welsh name is my doppleganger. Going by the job listed as my current one on the account, this cyber presence goes back maybe 2 1/2 years, and I have no recollection of opening it at all. So much for the premise that we retain long-term memory as we age. Evidently that isn't long enough.

I'm separated two degrees from myself. Oh right, I know many people could have predicted that, and there are a few others who will shake their heads and say quietly that that explains a lot. Never mind, I'm finding it very comical too, and the comedy is going to keep me from resorting to LI's help desk to put my cyber-clone out of its misery.

The task progresses. I've tweaked the design umpteen times in a couple of days. I rationalise my perfectionism with the thought that this is a prototype whose chief end is to prove that I can communicate in media other than semaphore. Next, I'll do one just meant for time trials. After that, maybe I'll do one to make money.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm not goofing off

Although with the temp at 81 deg. F after 7 p.m., it's a temptation.

No, no, I'm finally working on a Web site. It will have a link here, of course, and I'll try to throw it enough raw meat to keep it going.

This is part of the campaign against my cherished Web invisibility: one hopes. As a Verizon customer, I get free (to a certain bandwidth) Web hosting. There is already a spanner in the works. The development tools do not work with Firefox, only IE, so the first thing to check when I publish is whether the site is visible in browsers other than IE. That's an antique feature, but not totally extinct. If the site isn't visible in other browsers, it'll be time to move it. And no, the help isn't very helpful on this or many other points.

The entertainment, such as it is, will remain here. The site is pretty much oriented to serious business, and those who want an idea of my ideas will have to drop by here: that's a sneaky way of building hits.

By the way, there are 23 LinkedIn entries with my name. Two of them are mine, because LI neglected to delete an older account of mine. Not surprisingly, there is only one other in the USA.


Friday, May 21, 2010

The hilarity of paranoia

The unemployed have a new set of pests, the social media coaches. "Pests" is a bit unfair, since much of their information is at least thought-provoking. However, all of them are inclined to open with "have you Googled yourself lately? Do you know what others are saying about you?"

Well, excuse me, that's a rather private topic, isn't it? I never Google myself in public ;-)

Having some acquaintance with paranoia, I have heeded these calls to angst and fear and set up a Google alert. The results show one thing I already knew, that I'm essentially invisible on the Web. I've been perfectly happy with that until now, but I'm getting to accept that invisibility sends as bad a message as the archetypical party pictures on Facebook. It's an especially bad message when one is an old fart. It suggests that one sits around all day next to a rotary dial phone, watching Medicare goods commercials on daytime TV and preparing resumes on a manual typewriter.

Having a name that is vanishingly rare in the USA, but fairly common elsewhere in the former British Empire, the Google Alert results aren't quite what the social media authorities would have their audiences expect. Of course, they assume that you're Jane Adams or Henry Smith.

I'm beginning to collect the hits and if there's bandwidth on my Web site in progress, I'll link to the list. This is my favourite of the week:

Twitter / David Bryn Evans: Sam Allardyce for West Ham ...
Sam Allardyce for West Ham job = half empty stadium .... :(

This bloke hardly counts, since the first name is different, but he's a right good hand with Photoshop. Maybe I should try something of the sort to add a little drama to my LinkedIn profile.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ipswich River adventures

The Ipswich River is the closest thing to wild fresh water near to me. It has two significant disadvantages. One is that the watershed is the principal source of water for much of the North Shore: too much. Between normal increased demand, and the abnormal demand caused by 50,000 entitled households who must water their five-acre lawns every day in the summer, the river has been known to dry up. As in literally, totally, dry up. This is especially disturbing when one has seen the host of wild things that make their living from the river and its adjacent wetlands. There are now restrictions meant to prevent further dry-ups, and of course there is whining as a result.

We did a nine-mile round trip yesterday, more or less: that's about 4 hours and 4o minutes of paddling without leaving the 'yaks. It wasn't exactly nonstop, for reasons I'll get to in a moment, but it was without getting out. I spent much of today getting reacquainted with muscle groups I'd forgot about. The flow rate was a bit higher than we expected, so a good deal of the trip was, hmm, interesting, technical, choose the adjective you prefer for water moving very fast in the opposite direction to your course. No harm came of this—apart from the various complaining muscles—and a good deal of useful knowledge did come of it.

We saw numerous geese and ducks, red-wing blackbirds, beavers, turtles, a green heron, and a large, unidentified white bird hanging out with some geese. This was in one of those very fast bits of water, on the downstream return trip, so there wasn't time to exchange cards or anything. It wasn't an egret—the prize of the river—but either a large white goose or a small swan. In either case the bird was playing out Hans Christian Andersen, and the Canada geese didn't mind a bit.

Now, the other disadvantage to the river is posed by bipedal wildlife, the people who rent canoes from the river's one rental shop, which is well downstream. This firm loads quantities of canoes on a big trailer, trucks them and their customers far upstream where they drop them with a "bon voyage" and assurance that all they have to do is float downstream to return to the shop. As in other sports that demand a certain base skill for enjoyment, I wonder how so many people who have never been in a canoe, or a small craft of any kind, manage to get themselves into these messes.

We met our first large cadre of canoers, a high school field trip, at a highly technical point of the river. Fortunately the water was shallow, because it was one of those downstream obstruction situations that even experienced paddlers dread. The rental canoes are aluminum and therefore nearly indestructible. Damn good thing, as four or five canoes stacked up against the obstruction with numerous thuds and crunches, and discovered why we were waiting in an eddy: it is very hard to get round these things, or to back up if you screw up. There were no casualties; we got out of our waiting spot and got upstream, passing through a few more of these friendly, but utterly clueless, young people.

Perhaps another half hour upstream we encountered a group of adults, presumably out for one of those moments all reasonable adults loathe, the team-building exercise. They were friendly, exuberant, and probably a little buzzed. They neglected to mention one fairly important detail: they had left one of their canoes behind and in some little trouble.

We found this canoe and its passengers a few minutes upstream. The pair were soaking wet in 50-something degree water with nothing but shorts and t-shirts. Although they had managed to paddle to an muddy islet and right their canoe as we arrived, the duo were getting very little benefit from each other's company, and had a good deal of trouble doing anything. The old boating safety bell went off in the back of my head, signalling "hypothermia," so we stood by.

They had lost their life jackets and floatation cushion. We retrieved one life jacket and the cushion; the other jacket was gone. These were large men, trying to sit on those absurd canoe seats that no one should ever sit on. One finally sulked and slumped in the very wet bottom of the canoe. I told him to stay put, since it would lower their centre of gravity. We estimated the distance they had to go, gave them some general instructions for downstream travel, and sent them on their way. We were sure we'd see them again; we just hoped we'd see them alive.

We were right, although they had managed to get well down the river before getting lost. I couldn't blame them (entirely) for this. The place they got lost was a very difficult set of divergent channels. It took me two tries to hit off the right channel, and I had all my faculties. By that time, they had either been at the cooler or were still having the confusion that goes with hypothermia. So we spent our last half hour or so on the water leading Frick and Frack downstream to the canoe rental place. Actually, we let them go about a quarter-mile upstream, within sight of their destination. I hope they managed the last bit safely. During our bit of escort duty, whilst I was picking out channels ahead, my wife got close enough to our victims to discover that the group were—shall we say—professionally involved in public safety. Good grief.

We had been joking about rental canoe casualties moments before all this unfolded. After a lifetime on the water, I still don't get why people won't treat it with respect. Now I'm sorry she didn't find out what town these people were from, because I so don't want to go there.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010


By now, regular readers (and even irregular ones) will have noted a common theme at this address, that all career advice dispensed on the Internet is worthless, especially if it's dressed as news.

Our latest specimen comes from Investopedia, by way of Yahoo news. It's one of those useless lists of jobs that are desirable for one reason or another. In this case, the desirable feature is that they are supposedly low-stress jobs.

The story hews to the common formula, which is to dredge up the list and coyly neglect to mention that one doesn't just walk in off the street, say one wants one, and demand top dollar. The formula also demands that sources, if any, be at least ten years old, and that the overall context bear no relation to reality.

The envelope please. Our candidates for low stress jobs that anyone can get are:

  • Physical Therapist

  • Computer Software Engineer

  • Civil Engineer

  • Technical Writer

  • Massage Therapist
You're all welcome. As a technical writer, I knew you could use the laugh at the end of your stress-free week. Technical writing is very stress-free these days, because to have job-related stress you have to have a job, eh? On a recent occasion when I was approached about a position within my skill set, I had to delay my reply to answer a phone call. By the time I called the recruiter, the req. was gone. There had been 35 applications within 15 minutes of the req. being posted. This, mind, was for a three-month contract whose annual rate worked out to much less than $47,000-$98,000.

For my next stress-free job, I want one writing these Internet business fantasies. I imagine the pay is chump change plus all the hallucinogens you can swallow.

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There's a place for us

And now they've found it. Unpopular as the idea may be, I've long maintained that optimism is good for you in the same way that full-octane triple scoop ice cream is good for you: very rarely.

Now we have plausible evidence in this study which, despite the dimwitted headline, isn't exactly about being bad at relationships. Rather, it's an argument that those of us who can't sustain (or tolerate) perkiness for more than five minutes at a time have a legitimate evolutionary function. The function is to be the first one in a group who notices that the cave bear is getting really really close during the group sing.

It is a comfort when science backs up one's intuition, and now I have a perfect comeback when someone perky reproves me for my anxiety. The study offers one more reason to regard Marvin as the best sci-fi character of all time.

"I'd make a suggestion, but you wouldn't listen.... No one ever does."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wooed to return?

No older worker can accuse US News & World Report of being pessimistic. A May 10 article trots out an impressive and convincing set of statistics that support the present and future need to involve more older American workers in the workforce.

Trouble is, this will happen over the dead bodies of most middle and senior managers, and nearly all HR people, alive today.

In my experience, most managers between 30 and 50, and a few older than that, are threatened by older workers. A good many also harbour unresolved fears of their own mortality that the mere presence of older workers tends to reinforce. If one is going to make the transition, it becomes a matter of changing the psychology of management.

Nothing could be better for the future than sacking every HR department. Assuming that won't happen, they must be jolted out of attitudes toward older workers that are a half-century out of date.

Here, we have a (possibly overstated) example of the stereotype of the older worker held by most managers, HR people and job search pundits:

And here, by contrast, is an actual woman (Helen Mirren) at age 63, photographed in 2008:

One grants that many of us haven't held up quite as well as Dame Helen, but I suggest that my generation more resemble the latter than the former.

Will the wooed, if they return, be able to change the culture of the wooers? Many people who accept their enforced retirement now do so because they are fed up with long hours for no additional pay and with incompetence at every level of management. This old guy would go so far as to say the long hours are in part a result of incompetence—the combination of bad planning and lack of coordination that makes long hours necessary. They are also in part the result of a culture of phony machismo that makes excessive work hours a hallmark of manliness. Sorry: endurance of that sort only counts in one place, mates, and it is not the office.

WBZ-TV analyst Jon Keller asked, in the aftermath of the Celtics upset of Lebron James, whether that did not suggest the value of age and experience. It might, for those who have a brain...not to mention those long past the ages at which the Celtics are considered "old."

I would say that the inmates are in charge of the asylum in today's work world if I weren't entirely convinced that the results would be better if they were. The situation is much worse. The asylums of work and media are run by those people who have never been blessed with a moment of self-doubt, who are sure of their course and perennially optimistic, even as they plunge over the cliff. Many of those the world calls crazy would have more self-awareness than that.

The best revenge open to older workers is to wait for the wooing...and to reply with the finger. If we follow the US News logic, the future of this economy is in our hands. By the time the wooing begins, those of us still alive will have discovered the best of gifts: the understanding that we do not need most of the things for which we once slaved, and that we do not need to be treated like galley slaves to get what we most need in life.

And if you don't think the media speaks out of both sides of its mouth on such matters, consider this, which appeared whilst I was dawdling over this item.

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Insights from the cattle show

There was a cattle show yesterday: oh excuse me, a career fair. I went, as usual, as a forlorn hope. I saw three employers, one of whom had something intelligent to say, and one of whom has gotten, today, just desserts.

The positive contribution came from a consulting firm's recruiter who left me with something to think about. Rather than focus on what my record has to offer objectively, she suggested concentrating on what it offers subjectively. That is, I have many years of varied experience related to their competencies, look "distinguished" (old) and could quite possibly play a management consultant on their TV. That's a flippant way of condensing serious advice that I mean to look into.

Now for the comeuppance. I was getting the standard polite brushoff from one person representing an IT company, when her associate barged in, evidently bent on getting rid of this annoying old fart: fine behaviour for a "diversity" job fair, but there you are. Ms. Rude backed off quickly when she discovered that I knew of and had used a number of contemporary technical writing tools. Apparently she thought that the limit of my technical skill was the electric typewriter. That wasn't so much a comeuppance as a board check.

The comeuppance came today with the news that this company has been sold. One can look forward to the possibility that some of its HR people will be looking at life from the other side of the recruiting table. One can only hope that the polite ones stay, and the jerks go.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Signs we do need

Today I passed signs for the Gypsy Rose Dancing studio at a highly respectable, even august, address in downtown Boston.

They were advertising pole dancing classes, and this is apparently a trend. See what one misses by living in the 'burbs?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Signs of spring we don't need

One of the stranger (to me) features of my town is the comparative absence of mosquitoes and black flies. This is partly a function of lack of open space, but also related to the tendency of all the insect life to congregate around the bait buckets. At any rate, it has always been an oddity for someone raised in a place where to breathe was to be attacked by the small savage beasties.

Over the last week, I've taken two hikes in parts of Essex County not so blessed. As long as one moved, it wasn't so bad. Standing still, however, was like slitting a vein in a piranha pond.

This comes atop what gleeful weather people like to remind us is the worst spring for pollen in 20 years. Oh...(sniffle) are you (snork)...sure about that?

My spouse, who is gung ho for native species, spends most springs waging war on the Norway maples, which are highly invasive. Fans of the tree go into ecstasies over the shower of yellow buds that descend from them each spring. This year, what with the rain and the wind, the flowers were early, plentiful, and showed their favourite habit of instantly composting on any surface they contact, including cars.

Eastern New England has played host to the winter moth for several years now. In one of those moments when nature does play fair, it appears that the moth larvae are especially fond of Norway maples. Since they feed on buds, then leaves, it must follow that a tree that buds and flowers so profusely is going to attract them in droves.

The winter moth larvae are either very sloppy eaters, or possess extremely busy excretory systems. I'm not sure which and I'm not sure I want to know. But a sure sign of spring, if you have trees tasty to the larvae, is a steady rain of larva drool or larva poop. In sufficient quantity, this will pit the finish on your car, and even (not making this up) ruin the gelcoat finish on boats or other fibreglass objects.

I applaud the moths for being fond of invasive tree species. However, I'd prefer it if they'd complete their murderous work and depart. Moth manure is high maintenance.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Another insular reflection

With the water operating again, Massachusetts is indulging its favourite sport, second-guessing.

I'm second-guessing myself.

There's an element of comfort activity for me in this fetching and carrying, because it's so much like the island life that formed a big part of my childhood. The store I visited Sunday for our H2O was no further than we used to go for groceries. In reality, groceries meant a trip that was long to a seven-year old, in a usually hot car, to a usually hot and smelly store. In addition, island provisioning involves a lot of materials handling, more than I did last Sunday, and being a kid was not an excuse for goofing off. Our water trips, to the always-cool pump house on the mainland, were more fun, despite the materials handling. Save for the walk to the pump house, we never left the lake. On return, there was the business of loading up the four-gallon water crock. Anyone who thinks water has no flavour hasn't had it straight from the pump, or out of the spigot in a big stoneware jug.

I digress. For us, water wasn't really the emergency: Running out of toilet paper was. From our earliest potty-trained moments, my brother and I were lectured on the importance of rationing toilet paper in the privy. (Yes: a privy, delicately called yn ty bach —the little house— in Welsh.) When my parents built a house outside the capital, we were already well trained for the rationing required to appease its cranky septic system.

The importance of the subject was emphasised by a little appliance in the little house: a box with a glass front and a wooden hammer hanging below it. In the box were three corncobs. Over it was a sign, "in case of emergency, break the glass." The corncobs had been in there for a very long time, and this was a constant, alarming reminder that the management was in earnest. By and by, the little house supplies came to include last year's Sears catalogue, which was a somewhat more practical backup plan. However, a page from the Sears catalogue was a stern reminder in itself of the need to ration the island's most important external resource.

It's doubtful whether it's better to indulge in fits of nostalgia than fits of panic, but I do indulge the former. Now that I have this start on the inventory, it's harder to indulge in procrastination about building up the hurricane inventory. That has a little more practical grounding. The last time our town caught even a modest piece of a hurricane, all the utilities were out for three days and the streets were more of a mess than in the blizzard of '78 (which I also enjoyed). Common sense says one should lay in goods for what then becomes a mandatory holiday.

With the demise of mail-order catalogues, I'll be extra sure to have enough toilet paper.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The mathematics of a good view

This topic crosses my mind any day that is a) unusually clear and b) I've climbed up Shittin' Hill, where one is about 60 feet above sea level. In clear weather it's possible to see well down the South Shore, subject to certain limits that I once learnt in marine piloting courses. I brushed up on the subject and I've been doing the math when I get some scenery.

The basic principle is to take the square root of the height of the observer's eye, and add that to the square root of the height of the observed object. The sum is equal to the distance in statute miles from which an observer at that height can see any part of that object. If one wants to get nautical about it, one then multiplies the sum by 1.15 to get the distance in nautical miles. Piece of cake with a calculator.

The rule is subject to certain variables. Because the earth is curved (contrary opinions are disallowed for lack of evidence), you can't see all of the observed object unless you're relatively close to it. That's one variable. Another is weather. In these parts, one can count on "unlimited visibility" (greater than five to seven miles) maybe one day in five. A third is "loom," the phenomenon that creates mirages, and at times can increase the range of visibility. The observer doesn't actually see the object in these cases, but an image or reflection of the object.

There is one more, one that the authorities on this business often overlook, and that is the mass of the observed object. If one is looking for a landmark at a distance of, say, 25 miles, it is easier to spot a skyscraper than a communications tower of the same height, and still easier to spot a hill of that height than the skyscraper.

All this bears upon the nervous angst of the privileged of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket regarding the Cape Wind proposal. Similarly, it bears upon the stupidity with which Cape Wind has responded to nimby media manipulation. The privileged, many of whom know the mathematics of finding objects at a distance over the water, have deliberately manipulated the evidence in their favour. Cape Wind, having finally come up with a density proposal that works out to around 5.5 per square mile, obstinately publishes pictures of European wind farms with many times this density, which the nimbies manipulate with great delight. These images also feature unlimited visibility. But Nantucket Sound's definition of unlimited visibility is often that you can see someone else's hand in front of their face.

So, having noted today that I can just see tall slim white objects on hilltops ten miles off, without being able to tell if they're cell phone towers, wind generators, or Slovenian basketball players, I'm inclined to wait before I throw my hissy fit. In any case, I'd rather look at a wind farm than an oil spill.

Death to the Standells

Here we are in Day 3 of Boston's water disaster story. First, I'm wondering which Boston media outlet will be the first to recognise that endless repetition, or riffs on, Dirty Water qualify as Bostonian water torture. I can't get that fricken song out of my head!

This is the sort of disaster story that appeals to my sardonic side. It would be more amusing had we not been out of town all day Saturday, arriving home after 9. Neither of us bothered to catch any local news before bed, and I ended the day as usual by dropping my usual evening handful of geezer pills, washed down with a glass of tap water.

Oops. This is why most people drank beer and wine instead of water for centuries.

The story is still fodder for amusement. Top of the list is the fact that my town is one of two which are rather far out on the North Shore (surrounded by communities belonging to other water agencies) which get water from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). That whole drama played out nearly 40 years ago, and going with MWRA seemed like a good idea at the time.

Getting water, and watching people get water, is hilarious. One lesson I took from spending much of my childhood on a small island in a somewhat polluted lake is how little potable water you really need. On Sunday I went a couple of towns over and picked up ten gallons. That allowed one for our water-finicky cats, two for present needs (plus a couple of litres of boiled tap water) and one for our depleted hurricane inventory. Today my spouse called to tell me to go over to the water department for our water ration. I did, figuring there would be no harm in picking up another gallon or two. But no: I found myself in an auto queue. When I got to the head, I didn't get to ask. Someone opened the back door, hoisted in two cases of brand-name bottled water, and someone else signaled me out of the Water Department driveway.

We now have something like 64 litres of bottled and boiled water.

Returning to my water purchase on Sunday, it was interesting to watch people get a lesson in applied natural science when they approached buying water the same way they approach hoarding cold cuts, bread and chips for a six-inch snowfall. When I walked into my target supermarket, I found the water right inside the front door, of course. I also found ahead of me this short, rotund, rather geekish-looking fellow earnestly filling every available space of his shopping cart with 2.5 gallon water bottles. I think he had ten when he finished. However, his geekishness evidently didn't extend to understanding that as these bottles weigh 20 pounds each, the more you pile on the cart, the more the load will weigh. He had broken into a considerable sweat by the time he shoved his 200 pounds of water into the nearest checkout line. If he lived in a third floor walkup, he was in for a busy afternoon.

One of the core items of the media panic story has been, of course, "the stores are out of water!" That was evidently true Saturday afternoon and evening. It was less and less so throughout Sunday morning. By the time I reached my objective at 11:30 Sunday morning, water was coming in so fast that supply and demand were approaching equilibrium. Today, in my town, I'd have to say that supply exceeds demand. If I ever had any doubts about the merits of a just-in-time delivery system, they'd have vanished watching the process of meeting this demand. If we reach resolution by Thursday (which seems likely), it will be equally interesting to see how fast the surplus inventory gets packed up and shipped someplace else.

Although the MWRA and the state generally have done a reasonably good job dealing with the emergency, the same isn't necessarily true at the municipal level. For example, my town busily sent out flyers and local news releases stating that bathing qualified as a non-essential activity forbidden under the emergency decrees. This was at the same time that the MWRA was saying that it's safe to bathe and shower as long as one doesn't swallow the water.

It has been hot in Massachusetts since this happened: as hot as a typical three-day run in July or August, and in my town it's town meeting week. Town meeting debates can get pretty ripe, but if enough voters follow the local decree, the meeting will get riper still.

Late news. This is too funny: it's National Drinking Water Week!

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