...serving up your daily dish.
The Barista is going out. But if you insist on staying home and looking at the internet, you can see Times Square live on Panasonic's Earthcam here. It may take a few minutes to load.
We'll be back with pictures of Montclair First Night when it's last night. Meanwhile, talk amongst yourselves. And don't leave chips on the floor.
PS -- It's 7:08 pm and the fireworks have started. Or else it's thunder. Or gunshots. Or very low loud-flying planes. Or the end of the world. We're hoping fireworks.
All politics and weather may be local, but all charity is not.
Know of other Baristaville residents helping? Let us know, by adding a comment below.
Montclair resident Garrett Morrison, opponent of current Church St. redevelopment plans and victims of a freak accident earlier this week when a chunk of the Hahne's building fell on his garage, shows evidence of his small victory. At his insistence (and that of his wife and neighbors), workers are now removing cinderblocks by hand.
Morrison said it took about one hour -- and the presence of a policeman and two Montclair construction officials -- to get the foreman to stop using a backhoe after cinderblocks began raining on his property Tuesday.
It's hard work trying to wrap up a whole year, looking for the big profundities. And then God has to go throw a big curveball at humorists by smashing Asia with a huge tsunami, killing 120,000 people, and all but obliterating the fun of year-end snarkiness. (Yes it's about us. Us us us us us.) We could go into our own New Year's Resolutions (here are a few from our local celebs, Yogi and Michael Strahan), but then there's nothing particularly original about wanting to lose 10 lbs or back the computer up more often.
But two things caught our eye (or ear) in the last day that we thought worthy of reporting. Reader Ken Shane sends us this story: ABC News named bloggers the People of the Year.
And then, public radio's Marketplace reported last night that Americans now spend more time online than they do watching TV.
According to the Marketplace report, based on a Stanford study, Americans now spend 3 hours daily online, compared to 2 watching TV. There are, however, some drawbacks. For every hour a person spends online, they spend 23 minutes less with their family and get 8 minutes less sleep. And 14 minutes of each day are now spent either dealing with spam or other computer problems.
Some statistics from our little enterprise. We've clocked 73,000 visits since we first started posting in May. We've written 935 posts, and those posts have generated 2,715 comments.
So thank you, gentle and not-so-gentle readers, for helping us launch Baristanet this year, and for being part of this new online community.
Happy New Year.
...serving up your daily dish.
Some of our commenters have gotten awful potty-mouthed lately. The Barista is no Mary Poppins, but she's disappointed nonetheless. No subject is off-limits at Baristanet, but pure malacious profanity is not welcome. We're not the FCC and we're not the Watercooler, but people who ignore this request will find their comments banned.
Could this be a new way to silence public critics? Drop 1,000 concrete blocks on their houses?
Strange but true: A big chunk of the Hahne's building fell, during demolition, on the home of the redevelopment effort's most outspoken critic, Garrett Morrison.
In a post to the Montclair Watercooler, Morrison, who had focused on the downtown parking problems raised by redevelopment, wrote, "It's now clear I should have spent just as much time on safety concerns."
No one was hurt in the accident, which happened Tuesday, but Morrison is still miffed by the town's response. "What bothered me most was that we almost couldn't get our town building inspector to stop the demolition while we looked for a safer way to do the job," he told Baristanet. "What also bothered me was the developer didn't take any precautions and the construction workers didn't stop working when the wall fell on and against my garage. Not even an apology."
No apology was forthcoming from the town either, at least in the Watercooler post of deputy mayor Joyce Michaelson, who suggested that people who have buildings fall on them call "the revelant department." Hmmm, that would the Department of Falling Buildings, right?
As soon as I saw Garrett's message on the Cooler I forwarded it to the Manager and the Redevelopers for attention. Garrett could have contacted the Emergency Contact number posted on the safety barricades, but, if he received no response, he was correct to call the police who have 24 hour coverage. I'm glad that they were responsive.
In any emergency or question about town services the best action is to call the relevant department - the phone book lists municipal contact numbers as does the town website. They will have current information and should be helpful. If further questions arise, you can contact the Manager's office or any of your town councilors. Direct messages to my e-mail are more effective and timely.
It seems Starbucks isn't content with just getting us to say things like frappuccino, venti or macchiato. Now, they're taking on chocolate and monkeying with that the all-American tradition of eating it (o.k., gobbling) by hand. Citing that for more than 90 percent of its history, chocolate was consumed in liquid form, Starbucks has announced the return of drinking chocolate starting January with a new beverage called Chantico. Not to be confused with hot chocolate (they already sell that), Chantico promises to be far more decadent, something akin to drinking a melted chocolate bar. Named after the ancient Aztec goddess of hearth, home and fertility, this new nectar will be crafted with cocoa power, cocoa butter and steamed milk. Prediction: Chantico will be the rage with the middle schoolers who attend the Valley Road Starbucks' after-school program.
Our suburban archeologist, Lisa Finan, starts us off with her New Year pledge. Feel free to append your self-improvement ideas in a comment.
Every New Year’s Eve I think back to when I was fourteen, when my best friend and I watched New Year’s Rockin' Eve on TV, hosted by Dick-the-worlds-oldest-teenager-Clark. Unfortunately, we were young enough to party (as it was called in the dark ages in Southern California) but not old enough to do it. So while our parents went out dancing the Fox Trot and drank Cable Cars, we waited for the ball to drop on TV. A lot has changed over the last 30 years. Like the personal and national security of my country. Not to mention our morals and ethics. Back then, a kid didn’t need playdates because we were safe enough to run outside and play all day until mom called us home for dinner. And our leaders didn’t antagonize other countries to the point that they wanted to bomb the hell out of us, on our soil. We were all pretty much in the clear. It was America the beautiful. And I am waxing nostalgic.
But as some things never change, I still stay up to watch the ball drop. Now it’s with my husband and kids. This year though, I’ll be glad to ring out 2004. I think we’ve besmirched our national character quite enough for one year. I for one am ashamed. In fact, when we were in vacationing in Southern Italy this summer, I tried to play Canadian, but my size gave me away. My husband got away with it because he’s still trim. But I found myself apologizing on behalf of my President for being such a jerk, and that truly, Americans were still ok. We liberated you, remember?
Never mind the President’s behavior, there’s an entire laundry list of people and personalities who have behaved badly. And I seriously think we can blame it on the twinkie defense. The deep fried Twinkie that is www.supersizeme.com. With a steady diet of sugar-fried-salt coursing through our veins, it’s no wonder we’re acting crazy. And yes, TV is also a culprit. I used to think that was out the the question. But viewers insist on watching people like themselves eat maggots and relish in the fact that participants get fired, well, need I say more? I’ve taken matters into my own hands and locked my kids out of channels that contain maniacal, sugar frenzied, toy-ridden commercials blasting at ear piercingly high decibels.
That done, there’s still the matter of the criminals and bullies. Take Martha Stewart for example. She was a naughty one this year. Always pretending to be the picture of perfection while going postal on her staff everyday. There’s a work ethic worth emulating. I’m sure she’s happy to get “this ridiculousness” over with. Ah, then there’s Abu Ghraib. Yeah, thumbs up Lindy. That’ll be a nice one for the family photo album someday. The Pistons/Pacers basketbrawl was a keeper. Nice sportsmanship guys. The kiddies are really looking up to you and your multi-gazillion dollar contracts. And last , but certainly not least, those permissive parents who were too busy pull out a bag of vegetables and a chicken breast out of the freezer for their kids which nicely contributed to a national epidemic of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in children.
I’m ashamed that Americans are in such a carbohydrate induced stupor that they’re not bothered that 35.9 million Americans live below the poverty line – 12.9 million of them children. I think these were the numbers that inspired Roosevelt to institute the welfare system after the Depression. I’m positively rigid when I think that 42 percent of Americans still think Saddam Hussein was "directly involved in planning, financing, or carrying out" the 9/11 attacks. That Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld couldn't find time to personally sign letters of condolence to the families of troops killed in Iraq. And that Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz couldn't remember the number of soldiers who'd lost their lives in Iraq. There never was a kinder, gentler nation.
So, in order to make a more perfect union, in my house at least, I have decided, character building, versus nation-building, begins at home. As one of the few parents I know who give my children age appropriate chores, they’ve got more coming in 2005. We’re going to give to the food pantry and help out once a week at Tony’s Kitchen. stlukesmontclair.org. And there will be more vegetables, less TV and more chores. Sounds simplistic. But at least it’s a lifestyle I can defend.
...serving up your daily dish.
First Night Montclair reminds everybody to snatch up their tickets for the New Year celebration -- particularly if they want to catch the Big Apple Circus portion of the event. Right now, the 7:45 pm show is "virtually sold out," according to spokesman James Cotter (although some ticket locations may have a ticket or two left). The 8:50 pm and 9:55 pm shows are going fast.
Tickets purchased online can be picked up in the lobby of the Clairidge theater on Dec. 31. Otherwise, in the realm of physical reality, tickets are being sold at Keil’s Pharmacy, King’s, Baby Boom, Plaza Shoppe and Deli, Watchung Booksellers, American Royal Hardware, Just Kidding Around, Montclair YMCA, Beans, TCBY, the Montclair Public Library, Grove Pharmacy and South End Hardware.
On New Years Eve itself, tickets can be purchased at the Clairidge or at the Montclair municipal building. For more information, go to the First Night website.