Monday, July 3, 2006

Blogging at Area 603

I've been invited to blog over at Area 603 and can't wait to give it a whirl. Area 603 is a subsidiary of New Hampshire Magazine and has been running the blog for the last few months. There are a slew of interesting people blogging there. I don't quite know what I will be writing about yet. But please do join me. It should make for interesting reading.

Exercise & Downloading
I've been trying to walk more, lose a few pounds and relieve some stress. So far, I haven't been too successful. But, I'm trying. I've also been downloading stuff on, one of the more inexpensive downloading services, and having a lot of fun doing it. The problem is that I'm often not using up all the tracks I can download on any given month. I have a reminder set so that I can use them all up before the end of the month. But, I don't always remember.
The worst part about downloading is that I don't have much time to listen to all the cool stuff I'm downloading. So, I've been thinking about buying an mp3 player in order to enjoy some of the music on my walks. But which mp3 player to choose? Probably not Apple, I guess: ["Apple faces the music as public discord with iPod grows"]. I had a mini iPod which I won at NAB in a raffle but I sold it on eBay for $90. I guess I should have saved it. Or maybe not. I didn't have any use for an mp3 player at the time but I do now.
I actually can't bring myself to buy one no matter how much I would like to be walking around listening to the tunage. While I like the sounds of the outdoors, I find my energy level getting pumped when I listen to music. And I would like to figure out ways to increase my energy level while exercising. Any recommendations on mp3 players would be appreciated.

Losing Farm
It's the end of an era in Winchester, Mass. with the signing over of the deed for Winning Farm to Salter Healthcare: ["Salter to take title"].
For any readers in Winchester who check out this blog, you know about this case and some of the writing which I previously did about the issue as editor of that newspaper.
For those of you who don't know, essentially, a rich suburban town sells 40 acres of land - 12.5 developable - to a local health care company with connections to insiders at cost. At the same time, said town begs and begs for more tax money from an aging population who can't afford the property taxes now. It was probably the biggest giveaway in the history of Massachusetts and everywhere you turned, the fix seemed to be in.
Lydia Crafts, the new reporter for The Winchester Star, gets some of the story wrong in this article but that isn't her fault. The larger story was never told because those people who are connected to the project did all they could to protect those folks behind the scene. I even had one person close to the deal come very close to offering me a bribe to ignore the story under the guise of how little money journalists make. That was when I really knew I was on to something. The case of this one parcel - sold at a fraction of its value - would make a great book or even very long piece for a magazine some day, if anyone can ever get to the bottom of it. Someone will, eventually, when the place is built and running and Salter and his minions are raking in the millions.
I'm sure there are a ton of these stories all over the place which aren't being told because the media just doesn't seem to want to look into much any more ... and townspeople are too afraid to upset other townspeople at their cocktail parties. Sigh.


Anonymous said...

After I just spent a few months working myself up to buy an iPod, you've got my doubting the wisdom of that decision again. I'm back on the fence, waiting and watching. I will most definitely be interested in what you end up doing mp3-wise.

Do you think that the lack of investigative local journalism and/or the tame cocktail party behavior are a result of political correctness? A lack of interest in what's going on around people? The oversaturation of information that makes it difficult to get into any one thing in depth? Something else?

Tony said...

I went shopping for one the other day when I had some free time. The problem I found was the price difference between a 512MB and a 1G or more. As well, I could only find one which used a AA battery - of which I already use charged ones to save money on dumping batteries into the landfill. That one was $80 which wasn't too bad. Then I realized that my Treo has a Real Player in it. So, I think the next step will be to load in some mp3s into the phone via the card and see if it will play the tunes or not [I have more than 400MB on the phone card so ...]. Hopefully, it will play in stereo and I may be able to save the $80!

On the journalism thing, I really think it is a lack of desire to tick off your friends when they are doing things which are wrong. In Winchester, it is one of those attitudes where, "I don't believe that of so-and-so, they are such a nice guy ..." Here and Concord it is a similar situation. Not to get into specifics, but a relative of mine recently remarked when he found out that a certain member of the community was on the Planning Board: "That guy has had his hand in every bad project ever built in this city! ..." Yet, this person is considered a pillar of the community. He doesn't seem like a bad person, but what the relative said was pretty accurate. Here is another interesting exchange over at Area 603, about ethics in city govt.:

Councilor Rogers' comments are pretty interesting:

The Concord City Council has a history of not wanting to have contenious discussions. The majority of the COuncil wants to be very polite and have any heated discussions behind closed doors. I believe just the opposite which is why I have always voted against the Council having executive sessions that are closed to the public. Unfortunatly I am usually the lone "no" vote to go into closed session. As to your thoughts about including more and different individuals on the committees I agree with you. I try to suggest new names to the Mayor for appointment to the various volunteer boards and committee but have had little luck in gaining appointment by these people. Concord's power elite likes the way things are run and it will continue in that manner until the Council is made up of a different sort of councilor.

Councilor Rogers and I disagree on some things, including how the local cable access center is being run and funded. But her comments are pretty interesting and in watching her for awhile on the council, I take her at her word. It makes you wonder if all our bodies of power don't need a good shake up now and again.

Tony said...

Update on the mp3 player: It turns out that the Treo Real Player was really primitive and only in mono so ... I went and got a Panasonic 1 gig digital audio player for $79 [Best Buy had limited supplies of everything so I had to go to Circuit City]. It is pretty primitive - it doesn't do much more than increase/decrease volume and hit play, forward, or go back. I've already loaded in about 500 MBs worth of songs, which was easy to do with a quick synch via Windows. The songs also sounded pretty good even though on primitive headphones.

Wicked Words said...

What a waste. I really wish we had confirmation whether or not those selectmen were getting paid under the table, though doubtlessly that was the case.

Regarding investigative local journalism, sure, there's not really a tendency to upset the status quo in local journalism and to print happy, fluffy bunnies above all. But I think it's just part of a larger trend veering away from investigative journalism nationally. Newspapers are out to make money, and they don't want to spend the resources to investigate stories when they can pick up stuff from the AP wire and force their reporters to pump out 10-20 stories a week. It's all so sad.