☕️ The Decline of Coffee and Other Observations in the Time of the Great Recession (Part 1 – Japan)

An round-about return to (The Great France Art Tour of 2017)

Tashiki, with the onion-framed wire rims, Beatle mop-top, sincere smile and winning sense of humor, gave the impression he had somehow slipped away from working as John Lennon’s stunt double in the “Magical Mystery Tourmovie and stepped into a magical real world that was always of great interest to him.

After spending some time in his youth as a Japanese ex-patriot attending school in Southern California, Tashiki managed to escape the interest of the Big Dumb Corporations of the USA and returned to find a job in Japan. Years later we’d both ended up working for the same multi-national corporation. I’d met him when he visited our site in New Jersey. Now in Tokyo, it was a relief to see a friendly, familiar face. And I might add, a colleague who I knew could communicate with me much better in English, than I was capable of speaking (with my two or three phrases) in Japanese.

This was my first trip to Asia, 2006, not long before the world economies took a nose dive, and our Japanese colleagues on the 23rd floor, in the large open office of low-walled cubicles in the old Kakegawa section of Tokyo, welcomed us with the traditional cross-cultural bowing, exchange of business cards, and handshaking that celebrated our trans-oceanic office arrival. We appraised and complimented each other on our cards, especially the double-sided cards with name and titles in Japanese on one side and English on the other! The ritual complete, the colleagues informed us of “two important things”: the location of the rest rooms (outside and just off the central elevator), and a surprise for us, coffee!

Jet-lagged from the eighteen hour journey, and not yet accustomed to requisite long days of an important Western IT specialist—bringing a new email system to be followed by a hardware “refresh” of new laptops—I was relieved with the unexpected promise of coffee.

We strolled to a little corner of the office which served as a kitchen and lounge. Our colleagues had recently installed a small appliance somewhat larger than a toaster oven. Nearby, between a small frig and a microwave, a shiny, silver table-top carousel held twenty or thirty red and gold, thimble-shaped aluminum containers, but larger—if thimbles, then, those used by a very large seamstress.

An eager and worthy host, Tashiki demonstrated how to pop the coffee “thimble” into the toaster-like coffee maker. He pressed a button or two, and after some grumbling and hissing from the machine, a brown liquid appeared and half-filled a paper cup we had placed beneath it.

The colleagues were excited to share details of this new innovation, and I agreed, making coffee with such convenience was an impressive feat! And, since my stomach doesn’t tolerate black coffee, and already a bit queasy from travel, I politely asked if there were milk or cream so that I might sample the brew in my accustomed manner? We located the cream, or “creamer”, which came in single serve, single use, four-inch-long, drinking straw-width paper or plastic tubes, accompanied by sugar, packaged in a similar fashion, both of which I applied to the brew.

While we took our turns at the coffee machine, Tashiki carefully and passionately explained the adjacent color-coded recycling bins—of which there were at least three. Which bin to use for which items, plastic, paper, other waste. Emphasizing that, as you know, Japanese are a very organized, tidy, and especially clean culture, and as they have an ancient and intimate relationship with the ocean, recycling was “very important to Japanese People”. I could relate to this passion for sustainability, and was a bit disappointed, (but not surprised) by the patronizing amusement expressed in winks and smiles by several of my American colleagues.

It had been a very long flight. Over the arctic ice cap, frozen Russia, and raging seas. My first ever of what would become a number of flights of that distance and duration. I was tired, my eyes scratchy from being open for too long. I located a small, empty conference room, and slumped into a chair under the glaring white fluorescents to drink the coffee. The first wave of jet lag nausea clobbered me unexpectedly, as I sipped. Maybe something was wrong with the paper cup or the creamer. It was that first taste, and politeness aside, the coffee was not so good. It had the stale, manufactured flavor of “instant” coffee, this time worsened by anticipation, by the expectation that there was something special about its production and brewing.

These days, now, many years later, people are familiar with these coffee cartridges, whether known by the name “Keurig” or “Nespresso” or some other marketing moniker. Are they better now? I don’t recall the name of the Japanese innovation at the time, but it was some very similar predecessor to today’s version that, like so many things in the twenty-first century, prioritized convenience over quality.

Not long after that first sample, I made my way to the Men’s Room, pretty typical of any corporate high rise restroom, anywhere—until I opened a stall door. I took a quick look, and figuring that I had stumbled into a “special needs” stall, opened an adjacent unlocked door…same thing: The toilet was clearly retrofitted with additional plumbing and equipment tucked beneath the tank and bowl. Next to the seat, a little “control panel” was attached with buttons marked with icons of lower body parts and water spraying, air blowing, and heat…emanating.

This was one of those novel advanced Japanese toilet seats, nearly unheard of in the USA, except maybe in a James Fallows NPR commentary. But I’d never seen, much less experienced one. So, of course, when the need arose, I sampled the luxury features, though in a public rest room this is a bit, embarrassing, due to the noise of electric pumps and splashing water. One button initiates the bidet (water rinsing) feature, and another an air dryer with several heat settings, and the seat itself was internally heated. This toilet technology was at least as impressive as the coffee maker, and in my opinion executed with a more satisfactory result. Though I was to later find that enhanced toilets were all the rage in Asia, I didn’t see them, not in my room at the Hilton, and not anywhere else in Japan—not that I was looking for them. In other visits to the office Men’s Room, I observed the frequent and long-lasting full occupancy of the stalls, which our matter-of-fact colleagues accepted as a scatological workplace “perk.”

I drank the coffee, I used the toilet, and I installed the new email system.

We completed our mission a few days later, having performed our impressive Corporate IT Magic in Japan, and flew to Taiwan for the next performance—a similar upgrade and installation in Taipei for the slightly less impressionable Taiwanese colleagues. And, welcomed upon arriving at their office, we, as newcomers, were presented with two important bits of information. Which I will review in the next installment…

…to be continued!!

—Christo

😷 Do Home Covid Tests Expire? — Yes, and…

🦠 Info and updates for friends and Loved Ones. It’s April 2022. In “Covid Time” that would be: Omicron Variant something-or-other and 2nd Boosters approved. Hospitalizations and deaths falling, infections rising, and most public places and many people giving up on masking and every other safety precaution. I’m watching Shanghai, where the Chinese have tested the entire population, locked down the city, and are about to re-test. What is going on over there??

Speaking of tests, I’ll keep this one very short—

STOP!! Before you throw out that expired Covid test and add one more piece of un-recycled garbage to the overflowing landfill. Take a moment to recall how far we’ve come in the last 2+ years, when we were all washing our hands like crazy, debating the efficacy of masks, and there were no tests, much less vaccines. Read this New York Times article (link below). Because…the expiration date on the test is an estimate. If it is close to the expiration, the test is probably fine. Sometimes it will be fine months after the expiration.

A quirk in the regulatory process for home tests can mean the real expiration date doesn’t always match what’s on the box.
— Read on www.nytimes.com/2022/04/05/well/live/covid-test-expiration-date.html

I know we’ve gotten numb to these numbers, in the USA we have 981,112 Dead. Two years ago that was unthinkable, now we hardly notice. Stay healthy, stay safe, be compassionate.

— Christo

😷 Where Companies Stand on Vaccine Requirements and Return to Office – The New York Times

“The Delta variant has upended office return plans. Here’s when large companies expect to have employees back at their desks.”
— Read on www.nytimes.com/article/company-vaccine-rto-covid.html

😷 Back to Covid… Surprising at this point with the Delta Variant surge that so many companies are still timid about “mandates” to vaccinate. Microsoft does, most of the other big tech companies only encourage vaccination or require vaccination for people to return to the office. This seems to assume that people want to return to the office, which I think is wrong.

Covid is now a disease of the unvaccinated. 639,000 dead at this writing. Fox Media morons are advocating violent overthrow of the government because of masks and vaccines and “the other side” can’t take a stronger stance on enforcing vaccinations and mask mandates? Turn off your TV, get off Facebook, and wake up!! Public Health is not the same as fascism. People are so deluded about what freedom and responsibility and government truly are. There is no “alternate truth”. Freedom is about responsibility and consequences.

Just get vaccinated. If you are in a position to require people to get vaccinated, then do. If you choose not to, that is your choice, and you must deal with the consequences of that choice—your “freedom” may mean losing a job, illness, isolation, and death. It’s not about endangering those around you, and leaving them to pay for your bad decisions.

— Christo

P.S. Wear a mask. They save lives. Fact. Period.

🦊 The Long Twisted $7 Million History of Mayor D and Ely Field

Why would anyone want to be mayor? Well, for one, although it’s practically a volunteer job, it’s a job that’s swimming in money. Is that a “conflict of interest” if your business is construction? It’s a great way to make and use connections, and to direct business to those friends and connections. Even if everything is on “the up and up”, just imagine all the free meals and other “amenities”!!

Our former Mayor D 🦊 claims one of his accomplishments is that he “restored Ely Field”.

Seven million dollars is a conservative estimate for “restoration of Ely Field”, based on the numbers of outlays listed in the source articles (below). Where did that money come from?

The Mayor and council relied greatly on the Lambertville “Open Space” tax, approved at first only for acquiring the Buchanan property. But over and over they went “back to the well”; they revised Open Space to cover other purchases. There were referenda, and strangely the magic words “Ely Field” could insure approval of yet another extension to Open Space, the tax that in the Mayor’s own words, “…was supposed to end when the Buchanan property was paid for”. The gift that keeps on giving! The mayor who claims “we kept taxes down” is responsible for the largest ongoing tax increase in Lambertville History. $300,000 a year, by his own estimate in 2008. And with yearly increases in home assessments, the number keeps going up, and at this writing, in 2021 residents are still paying.

And yes, it wasn’t always the city taxpayers who footed the bill. The Mayor knew how to work the system. Sometimes “the State” stepped in with grants and inexpensive loans and/or forgiveness. But where do state funds come from? The money was spent. It doesn’t grow on trees. Not even on ancient, beautiful old trees. Millions of dollars. If you ever wonder why New Jersey taxes are the highest in the country, look at Ely Field. Because for the amount of money that has been poured into it, it should be made of gold.

(Some might claim offset from rateables or other sources of income for the City in this process, to which I say you could just as easily discover hidden and related costs, overruns, delays, and so on to add to my total.)



He sure didn’t do it alone—and what does “restoration” mean in this case? What’s the whole truth?
It’s a long and complicated story, one that’s difficult to piece together as a whole. Not unlike a popular movie from the 1970’s, and unfortunately ending like a children’s book. I’ve provided an overview with a timeline and sources.

“Ely Field”— Located on Lambertville’s Main Street, donated to the city by the Closson family, is thought by most to be part of the adjacent Lambertville Public School. It is in fact a separate park, once mostly an open field with volleyball/tennis/basketball courts, in recent decades it has become primarily the realm of Little League Baseball and Pop Warner-type football, which together require fences, dugout, goal posts and other constructions which circumscribe portions of the field.

It’s “preservation” or “restoration”—whatever this is—seems to have a lot more to do with the streets and land surrounding the field, than changes to the field itself. This is a tale of streets torn up, streams redirected into pipes, hillsides condemned, 129 homes built, millions and millions of dollars spent, the City burdened with debt, and one beautiful ancient tree destroyed. In the end, Ely Field was “restored”. Whatever that means. In the process Lambertville Got Way Bigger— “Better” is debatable—and we’re still paying for it.

After three years out of office, waging a guerrilla campaign against his successor in the guise of a largely anonymous “whistle blower” group, Mayor D now wants “another chance”. Really? To do what? Repair the parking lot at Ely Field?

Twenty-seven years of this is enough. No more.

Ely Field Restoration, how did it happen? Taking his cues from the movie “Chinatown” and the true story of Mulholland and the development of Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, former Mayor Delvecchio worked for twenty years to develop—which, by his actions, appears to be a synonym with “acquire”—the hillside above Lambertville and to cultivate “Ely Field” below it as his legacy. This, as in the movie, was all accomplished at the expense of others—especially local and state taxpayers.

Drainage – A big chunk of the expense of Ely’s restoration was in fact a long, large, and expensive drainage project. It required the upending of Main Street, the disruptive chopping of trees, modification to sidewalks and widening of Delaware Avenue, all to redirect water via new pipes from the hills above Lambertville and the lowlands behind Ely field and the Lambertville Elementary School, beneath Delaware Avenue, and from there, into the Delaware River.

The project began with some concerns about mismanagement. After a false start with one construction company in 1998, work was halted. The project gained steam with a different company in 2001.

Development – With drainage issues resolved, development became viable, enabling construction of 129 Townhomes on “Lambert’s Hill”. At one point the Mayor expected the high-end homes to contribute 25% to the City’s real estate tax revenue! But gambling relies on chance, and unfortunately, the home developer went bankrupt. The City was saddled with repairs to unfinished roads and sidewalks and legal efforts to recover expenses.

Condemnation – The drainage and Ely Field improvements consisted of many projects over roughly twenty years. In the end, the land above Ely Field was acquired through a “redevelopment” project and condemnation by the City which paid a controversial amount for the properties. The dollar figures accumulated over that time are staggering, roughly $7 Million*.

Almost as staggering, the number of times “improvements to parking at Ely Field” are listed as part of the projects, (long time residents will know that Ely Field parking issues are still a problem.)

“Fiinal” improvements to Ely Field, spearheaded by The Friends of Ely Park, are not listed here, as these occurred into 2019, after Del Vecchio had left office, but details of “the expensive fence” (as some call it), snack shack, improved bathrooms and artwork are available online . Was the skateboard ramp promised at one City meeting ever built? I don’t see that mentioned anywhere.

The Giving Tree – Sadly, I mark the end of the project with the destruction of one of the oldest and largest trees in Lambertville, the two-hundred plus year old London Planetree, which had the misfortune of being located at the Center Field used by the high priority Little League, and was chopped down with neither warning nor ceremony in 2014. Friends of Ely Park created a project to memorialize the tree in woodworking art, calling it “The Giviing Tree”. Ironically the name derives from the title of Shel Silverstein’s book about a boy who continuously, persistently, and selfishly over many years takes everything from the tree, until all that’s left is a stump.

The Truth is Out There

— Christo

The timeline below is an outline of the events, and may include other activities and projects from the same period. The information is all taken from public sources, which are linked, and may reflect inaccuracies on the part of those sources.


TIMELINE & SOURCES

1992Mayor Del Vecchio begins his first term as Mayor of Lambertville. (After living in town for 2 years.)

1997 Jan. David Delvecchio joins Joseph Jingoli & Son
In “Business Development” at Joseph Jingoli & Son, Inc. “JINGOLI is a nationally ranked contractor / construction manager with 95 years of experience servicing power, industrial, healthcare, gaming and educational clientele.”

https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-delvecchio-64aa9517b/
https://www.linkedin.com/company/joseph-jingoli-&-son-inc./

1998 – Ely Field/Delaware Avenue Drainage Project (pt. 1) – First Contractor starts and fails in beginning of drainage project, cannot complete a tunnel under Main Street. Work halted.

2001 – Ely Field Improvements, phase 1 to cost approx. $175,000, requires drainage, includes parking improvements.

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2001/04/18/rec-group-unveils-plans-for-ely-field/

2001 – 2002 – Ely Field/Delaware Avenue Drainage Project (pt. 2) “Contractor Carbo (sic) https://carbroconstructors.com/leadership/ awarded $4.7 MILLION to complete:

  • Delaware Ave. drainage from Ely Field to Delaware river.
  • Connaught Hill through the Delaware drain – State funds additional $300,000 to fund drainage.
  • Alexander Ave. runoff—Left to be completed: from Phillips Barber tie-in to Delaware Ave. drain.

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2002/04/17/delaware-avenue-drainage-project-nears-completion/

2004 – Referendum passes for “Open Space” tax, 2 cents for every $100 of assessed value”, for the sole purpose of preserving (acquiring) the Buchanan property behind Ely Field.

2005
February – City begins planning of Redevelopment of Connaught Hill (includes Buchanan properties).

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2005/02/23/tenants-vacant-lot-owners-concerned-about-condemnation/

June$400,000 DEP Grant goes toward $1.4 Million purchase of Buchanan property.

“The city also might be able to reduce the total to be raised by another $250,000. That’s the amount of a loan Green Acres made to the city, originally intended for improvements to Ely Field. The city now has asked permission to shift the money to the open space purchase, Mayor Del Vecchio said.”

In the meantime, Ely Field will not be left bereft of improvements. The city has received a $50,000 Livable Communities Grant from the DEP for the field’s improvements.

The funds could go toward “improved bathrooms, getting more playground equipment, a whole bunch of things,” Mayor Del Vecchio said.”

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2005/06/29/city-to-use-grant-for-land-buy/

2007 – July – 16.5 Acre Buchanan property purchased for $1.4 Million, (ONLY $575,000 from local taxpayers using “Open Space tax” after 3 “Green Acres” grants—paid for by state taxpayers et al.)

2008 – City tries to buy 1 lot of 1.082 acres at Jean Street at Music Mountain, referred to as “the McCann property”. (To be payed for by modifying the purpose of the “Open Space tax” in referendum).

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2008/03/26/city-wants-to-acquire-jean-tract/

“The point is, the last referendum was so specific it pertained only to the Buchanan property,” Mayor Del Vecchio said. “It was supposed to end when the Buchanan property was paid for.” – In other words, the Mayor changed a short-term “Open Space tax” in to a PERMANENT “Open Space Tax”, which residents continue to pay in 2021.

“The city collects about $300,000 a year from a 2-cent open space tax voters approved in 2004 for the purchase of the Buchanan property at $1.4 million.”

Lambertville voters agreed in 2008 to expand the purpose of the tax. The tax remains at 2 cents per $100 of assessed property value, but the voters approved the city’s use of the tax for maintenance of parks and open space as well as the purchase of the 1.082 acres of undeveloped land that is referred to as the McCann property.

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2009/11/11/lambertville-officials-seek-state-money-for-mccann-land-buy/

2010City plans, purchases North Union half acre lot from Allied Village Square for $200,000 using funds from City’s Open Space tax. (The tax at this time is halved to 1 cent per $100 of assessed property value, at the discretion of Council.) In a survey, residents suggest it be used as a dog park or an open space farm market, the Mayor states his preference of a public Bocci Ball Court. The unfinished site comes to be known as “Cherry Street Park”, used as a pay parking lot by the American Legion(?) during the annual Shad Festival.

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2010/08/26/question-should-city-buy-plot-2/

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2013/07/25/lambertville-north-union-project-open-space-buy-ready-to-go/

2012 – South Franklin Street Drainage Project
Lambertville city council unanimously approved borrowing $795,000 for the South Franklin Street drainage project and for improvements at Ely Field.

“The New Jersey Department of Transportation and the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission are giving the city $170,000 and $248,365 respectively for the projects on a reimbursement basis, according to Mayor David DelVecchio.”

“The bond ordinance council approved Monday will pay for construction and materials for drainage improvements to South Franklin Street, which DelVecchio said would help drainage problems on Main Street. The city will also repair the parking lot at Ely Field and install new light poles and fixtures for the field.”

https://www.lehighvalleylive.com/hunterdon-county/express-times/2012/07/post_18.html

2004 – 2012 Lambert’s HillConveniently for someone… this hill, formerly owned by the Closson family, could be DEVELOPED because drainage issues which would have made it impossible, have been (or will be) resolved and paid for by state and local taxpayers. Considered a jackpot by Del Vecchio, because the 129 homes “provide the city with 25 percent of its real estate tax revenue”. But then the developer went bankrupt, leaving unfinished roads and sidewalks, and the City had to help BAIL them out. At what cost? Unclear.

https://www.nj.com/mercer/2011/08/residents_of_lamberts_hill_dev.html

In 2012, Del Vecchio reluctantly turned over a “performance bond” check for $147,000 to the Lambert’s Hill homeowner’s association after the development was approved by the city Planning Board. (The photo is worth seeing.)

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2012/07/26/lambertville-lamberts-hill-can-finish-needed-projects/

2013 – City Condemns, pays $750,000 for “McCann tract” , agrees to pay $750,000 for land appraised at $410,000. The “McCann property” now consists of 2 lots for a total of 6.7 acres. Controversy over condemnation, appraisal, agreed price.

https://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/2013/04/discussion_of_condemnation_for.html

City passes ordinance to pay for McCann property. “The ordinance covers $750,000 for the appraised value of the property, plus $15,000 for fees incurred for getting the ordinance ready for the council.”

https://archive.centraljersey.com/2013/06/27/lambertville-mccann-property-to-be-kept-as-open-space/

2014 – Huge London Planetree Felled, over 200 years old, cut down to clear Center Field for Little League Baseball at Ely. To be commemorated as lumber for artists.

https://friendsofelypark.org/wp-content/uploads/The-Giving-Tree-Project.pdf

🦊 Mayor D Endorsed by Booker?!

Reactions- Wha? Why? Who cares?

Mayor D’s web site announces that Mayor D is endorsed by popular NJ Senator Cory Booker. The endorsement reads like it was written by D or one of his minions. There’s even a picture with the Senator’s arm around D’s back! (Not a great idea, given D’s health issues.)

The D Campaign must believe that Mayor D’s political allies, back-room deals, and connections to big money and big businesses and the “Democratic Machine” after 27 Years as a PROFESSIONAL POLITICIAN is something that the average Lambertville resident would like to see obfuscating the transparency of local government once again. How well does Booker know D? Well, you could ask…

How enthusiastic is the endorsement? You might want to read it from a Cory Booker source, just to be sure. If you Google “Cory Booker” and “endorses”, you’ll see lots of endorsements, but nothing about Mayor D. So let’s go direct to Senator Booker’s web site and search for Mayor D there.

Here’s what you get:


But there is a photo, right?

That’s right. There’s a photo of Mayor D with Sen. Booker from the Senator’s Twitter feed from August of 2016. (That would be, almost five years ago.) And let’s remember, that was back before D, as he claims, “became a better person” in ways, as yet, not revealed to the public. Does Cory know “the old D” or “the new D”? Or does he know the difference?

How well does Senator Booker really know Mayor D?

Does he know that Mayor D was a big proponent of using “inmate labor” to haul trash, to keep down costs of the City’s overworked, underfunded and mis-managed Public Works Department? -It’s not that CONVICT LABOR is a BAD THING, well maybe it is… Or that it’s a RACIST THING, well maybe it is… But it sure helped to keep our City Public Works expenses down!! And that’s a GOOD THING. Right?

The next time you see Mayor D, or Senator Booker, ask him what his feelings are about convict labor and the 13th Amendment, and if he supports it.


Meanwhile, you might consider how the strangest, ugliest, and most untruthful bits of information conveniently come out at the very end of a political campaign, when there is only a week or two left before the election to prove or disprove the controversy, lie, or accusation. (Residents know, there is no viable Republican candidate for Lambertville Mayor. The election is determined by the Primary.) I’m actually talking here about Mayor D’s latest (of way too many) campaign flyers, and what he suggests, implies, or states about his opponent, and about the current mayor. And this is how D runs. And how he helps his minions run. And how he ran the City. Usually some truth, but rarely the whole truth.

Like stating his total support for a marijuana dispensary—allegedly because the City voted overwhelmingly for legalization of marijuana. Did the residents vote overwhelmingly to have a large, traffic-producing, odorous complex on the canal path? No. A supposedly huge jackpot of tax money to bail out Mayor D’s previous gambles and legacy of debt? No. I don’t think they were voting for an Alcohol Distributor, already wealthy enough to silo the prime River Horse property for TEN YEARS, to cash in on our little town with the help of Mayor D. Was that what the referendum was for??

Just sayin’.

He is the 🦊 fox and your City is the henhouse. Do you really want him back??

— Christo

🦊 Mayor D and The City’s Unmanaged Green Can Program

Another of Mayor D’s so-called “accomplishments” – The Green Can Compost program, GREAT IDEA, which potentially brought income into the City, but instead cost the taxpayers. Once nominally in place, the program was essentially abandoned, running on auto-pilot with existing participants.

What was ignored, unmanaged, undone??

  • Promotion of and communication about the program (What was it? Half the city had no idea!!)
  • Additional applicants-The web page said people could participate, but no, you couldn’t.
  • Contamination issues – Plastic dog poop bags, cans, and bottles do not go into compost, and pedestrians kept dropping these and other items into the green cans sitting at the curb awaiting pickup.
  • Pickup schedules and non-pickup by Public Works – Was your restaurant pickup 3 days a week? 2 days? What if the truck never comes?
  • …and of course there were issues with the maintenance of the vehicle(s) used for pick-up.

—these issues were all un-budgeted and left to simmer and be solved “down the road” by the next administration. From the New Hope Gazette:

In addition to the parking concerns, there was alarming news about the city’s curbside compost program. The city lost its contract with the current compost collection company. Business administrator Alex Torpey secured a short term deal with Waste Management, so the collection on Mondays will remain uninterrupted.

Fahl asked Torpey to detail why the contract was terminated and Torpey said, “In our compost stream, there was a lot of material that can’t be in the compost, some actually that can’t be in the regular trash which included things like bleach containers, broken glass, a coffee pot, metal forks, a bag of ice melt … which ended up seeping into the entire load and contaminating everything.” The city has since posted photos to their Facebook page.

Torpey mentioned this, along with the market for regular recycling, as a “wake up call,” and indicated the city is in conversation with other municipalities and farms and hoped that a permanent solution could be “really local,” mentioning that Princeton borough’s composting initiative had trucks hauling compost all the way to Delaware.

— Read on www.newhopefreepress.com/2019/06/21/parking-concerns-dominate-lambertville-june-governing-body-meeting/

Think long and hard before you put another fox back into the henhouse. A mayor of 27 years doesn’t need another chance to show us what he can do. We have some notion of what he can do. If you don’t, read about it. The truth is out there.

—Christo

😷 Covid-19 Info & Resources Update May 1, 2021 Saturday (USA)

keep-calm-wash-your-hands_8.5x11

🦠Info and updates for friends and Loved Ones. It’s May!—April was all about vaccines: J&J single jab on hold, now restored. People neglecting to get their second jab, others still resisting getting their first. Hotspot Michigan wants more vaccine! India overwhelmed and desperate for vaccine and supplies. The GOOD NEWS, with so many vaccinated, most of the USA appears to be waking from the nightmare. States are opening up and the CDC guidelines allow for FVPs to go maskless together, or if outdoors. If you are vaxed, know the rules! (See “Masks” below— When in doubt, wear a mask…you know the drill!)

It’s not over. 695 died today in the USA from Covid.

575,637 USA dead at this writing.


Vaccines:

Can Vaccinated People Spread the Virus? – The New York Times Researchers pushed back after the C.D.C. director asserted that vaccinated people “do not carry the virus.”
— Read on www.nytimes.com/2021/04/01/health/coronavirus-vaccine-walensky.html

Can You Have Alcohol After the Covid Vaccine? – The New York Times Moderate drinking is unlikely to impair the immune response to the Covid vaccine, but heavy drinking might.
— Read on www.nytimes.com/2021/04/27/well/eat/alcohol-covid-vaccine.html

Women report more side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine than men. Health experts explain why. – USA Today
— Read on https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2021/04/10/covid-vaccine-women-report-more-side-effects-than-men-heres-why/7139366002/

What You Need to Know About Your Covid-19 Vaccine Card – The New York Times For now, the best way to show that you’ve been inoculated against the coronavirus is a simple white card. Here, your key questions answered.
— Read on www.nytimes.com/article/covid-vaccine-card.html

Covid wards in Michigan are filled with younger patients. A fire at a Baghdad hospital treating Covid patients kills dozens. The U.S. is under pressure to allow exports of vaccine components that India needs.
— Read on https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/04/25/world/covid-vaccine-coronavirus-cases/michigans-covid-wards-are-filling-up-with-younger-patients

Oregon restores restrictions amid Covid surge boosted by vaccine hesitancy The Guardian ‘As your governor, I chose to save lives,’ says Democrat Brown as worst per capita spread is found in rural Republican county
— Read on www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/01/oregon-restores-restrictions-covid-surge-vaccine-hesitancy


Masks:

C.D.C. Eases Mask Advice for Vaccinated People – The New York Times Because the risk of infection is much lower outdoors, U.S. health officials also relaxed advice for those who haven’t gotten their shots. In Brazil, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine isn’t recommended.
— Read on www.nytimes.com/live/2021/04/27/world/covid-vaccine-coronavirus-cases

Do We Still Need to Keep Wearing Masks Outdoors? – The New York Times Science shows that the risk of viral transmission outside is very low. The “two-out-of-three rule” can help you decide whether to mask up. — Read on www.nytimes.com/2021/04/22/well/live/covid-masks-outdoors.html


Variants:

Extra testing to start in east London after overseas Covid variants detected The Guardian Officials say cases of South African and Brazilian variants picked up in Tower Hamlets
— Read on www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/01/extra-testing-to-start-in-east-london-after-overseas-covid-variants-detected


Long Covid:

Long Covid Patients Face Lingering, Worrisome Risks, Study Finds – The New York Times Patients who were not sick enough to be hospitalized still had a significantly greater risk of dying within six months than people who were not infected.
— Read on www.nytimes.com/2021/04/22/health/covid-patients-health-risks-long-term.html


Just sayin’, my second Moderna jab was uneventful. And as many people have expressed, I felt RELIEF. Try not to judge those who have NOT been vaccinated, due to their own fear, caution, ignorance, or misinformation. They are your brothers and sisters, your children, your parents. Maybe you are one of them? Consider getting the Vaccine. Be patient and keep yourself safe and healthy.

Find peace. Seek stillness. Practice your T’ai Chi.

Hang in there!! Stay Healthy #GetVaccinated, and #WearAMask

Custom Masks from my photos!

— Christo

😷 Covid-19 Info & Resources Update April 1, 2021 Thursday (USA)

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Info and updates for friends and Loved Ones— It’s no joke, things are getting better! The older folks socially distanced, jibber-jabbering across two tables at the café this morning: A doctor, a fund manager, a former teacher, all retired, all extroverts. They have lots to say. Loudly. Covid and vaccines. They’ve all had at least one shot, most are fully vaccinated. Now they’re comparing notes about their children and grandchildren. Who got which vaccine? J&J? Pfizer? Moderna? “The stuff’s all the same,” says one fellow. “We’re hoping to get back to Europe in the Spring,” says another. “Not looking good for that,” says the female former pharma exec. They briefly debate why New Jersey’s infection rate is so high, why “certain people” won’t or can’t get vaccinated. Is there a genetic susceptability to Covid? “They’re gonna make you laminate your vaccine card, and then when you get the booster, you’ll get an official ‘passport’.” And so on. The tone is cautiously optimistic. Everyone agrees they will still wear masks, especially in public places, and with the important stuff covered… they move on to discussing Major League Baseball and the unusual architecture of Fenway Park.

551,638 (USA) dead at this writing.

Everything Has Changed, Sort of—At last! I’ve received an “invitation to schedule” my vaccine from every site where I was able to get on a list. Remarkably, even the pathetic, trundling, NJ State Program offered to schedule me. Some sites are even smart enough to make it easy to cancel, to free up the slot for someone else. There’s enough vaccine. Everyone I know who wanted the vaccine has received the first shot, or is about to. Next week the state makes even more groups eligible including Age 55+.

Communication has improved dramatically—We now have Newsletters, web site, blogs, Twitter feeds, and vastly improved tracking on pages of most major media. I won’t even list them here. (If you need help, see my previous posts.)

Which means, I can step back, I think, and stop trying to curate everything! Is it possible to get back to one page posts? I hope so!—Christo


Interim public health recommendations describing the type of activities people who are fully vaccinated can do once fully vaccinated.
03/08/2021—Read on www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html

Covid vaccine side-effects: what to know and why you shouldn’t worry – Side-effects have been reported for all three vaccines approved for emergency use in the US but most are mild and short-lived
03/18/2021—Read on www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/18/covid-vaccine-side-effects-pfizer-moderna-johnson-is-it-safe

What Can You Do Once You’re Vaccinated? – You have to do your own risk assessment. Here’s how.
03/30/2021
—Read on www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/03/30/opinion/coronavirus-vaccine-risks.html


Masks:

An Updated Guide to Face Masks Learn more about five types of masks — which ones offer the best protection, and how to avoid counterfeits.
02/19/2021—Read on www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/02/19/well/n95-kn94-medical-masks.html

How to Defog Glasses When Wearing a Mask – The New York Times Lens fog plagues glasses-wearers these days. Here are some things that can help.
03/11/2021— Read on www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/03/11/smarter-living/wirecutter/antifog-for-glasses.html

‘Masking works’: Austin fights back as Texas loosens Covid-19 restrictions Local jurisdictions have decided to keep their coronavirus safety protocols, drawing ire from state politicians.
03/14/2021—Read on www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/14/austin-fights-texas-loosens-covid-19-restrictions-masks

Here’s an Easy Way to Do Double Masking Right – Two masks can increase your protection against the coronavirus. Just make sure you know the dos and don’ts.
03/28/2021—Read on www.nytimes.com/article/double-masking-tips-coronavirus.html


Long Covid:

Many ‘Long Covid’ Patients Had No Symptoms From Their Initial Infection – An analysis of electronic medical records in California found that 32 percent started with asymptomatic infections but reported troubling aftereffects weeks and months later.
03/08/2021— Read on www.nytimes.com/2021/03/08/health/long-covid-asymptomatic.html

Will vaccines protect us from ‘long-haul Covid’? We need answers – A recent study found that 30% of Covid patients surveyed still had persistent symptoms nine months later
03/12/2021—Read on www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/12/vaccines-long-covid-health-answers


Find peace. Seek stillness. Practice your T’ai Chi. All you need to know is in my previous Covid updates: wash hands, (properly) wear a (multi-layer, well-sealed) mask, social distance, isolate, and quarantine if you’re sick or exposed to someone who is, and test – but don’t rely on tests because you can be sick and contagious for 3-5 days before you test positive.

Hang in there!! Stay Healthy and continue to #WearAMask!!

— Christo

Lambertville City Meeting to Vote on Closson Preservation Project?

🌎 The CITY is supposed to vote on Thursday March 25th at a 6pm meeting, on whether to buy the Closson Property or let it to be DEVELOPED. Council Persons Stegman and Benedetta are rumored to be voting AGAINST buying the property, in spite of huge community support for the purchase revealed in a survey from the Community Advisory Team <https://www.lambertvillenj.org/cat >. (Why are they against it, if true? Is it just to undercut Mayor Fahl? They campaigned to “stop over development”—on that issue a timely Closson purchase is a no-brainer!)

The increasingly mis-named “Lambertville United” “watchdog and First Amendment group”—which during the last City Council election functioned as a mouthpiece for Stegman and the previous regime—has posted an opposing opinion in an unsigned letter from a “concerned citizen”. <https://lambertvilleunited.org/ >

LU posts lots of “information” from behind a curtain of anonymity, no names attached, so you can’t challenge assumptions, statements, innuendo, or blatant lies, or engage in conversation with a real person, or ascertain if the “author” has any qualifications at all. Anonymity has been their modus operandi from the very beginning, but now they claim it is to protect their members from threats and harassment 😐, and “property damage”. <https://lambertvilleunited.org/resident-comments >

Small town drama is so entertaining!

Please try to attend the Zoom meeting (see below). If only to see who votes for what! If you want to make comments at the meeting, you will be expected to provide your name to the public. Duh.

Peace Out

— Christo

Description

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Mar 25, 2021 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: 03-25-2021 Special Session

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86263773745
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +19292056099,,86263773745# or +13017158592,,86263773745#
Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 929 205 6099 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799
Webinar ID: 862 6377 3745
International numbers available: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kToY5f7wF

See related post— https://christoplummer.com/2020/11/23/🙄-making-lambertville-better-stopping-over-development-are-only-acceptable-if-achieved-by-lu-former-incoming-councilman-stegman/

I Remember Sandy (Installment #2)

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I didn’t say when I’d get to this unpublished continuation from Super Storm Sandy in 2012. So here it is. It is 2021 right? 😷

Monday – That first day
I kept wondering when the worst would hit. There had to be more, right? Where was the so-called “Super Storm”? Were we just in the eye? But there was no more wind, no more downpours; it never got worse, just overcast, with occasional drizzle. Okay. I thought I would be fine for a couple of days without electricity, even without heat. And I knew for me the hardest thing would be to go without sleep.

I had a dull, deep, throbbing headache at the base of my skull and down into my shoulders. This is the sleep apnea headache that comes from lack of oxygen and lack of real rest. If you know about Apnea at all, you probably associate it with snoring. It amazes me now that I managed with it, undiagnosed, for years, and that anyone would try the CPAP solution and choose not to use it. It makes you look like Darth Vader in bed, but who cares? The CPAP mask, pumping filtered air into your face, stops the apnea and the headache. And thanks to Sandy, I wouldn’t be able to use my CPAP again until I had electricity. I was anxious about the lack of sleep and the potential for an incapacitating, whopper headache, so I located my migraine prescriptions, found the one with codeine, spilled one into my hand House-like, and swallowed.

The apartment was still warm, and luckily, I had city water. But I was isolated. No Internet. I didn’t have a radio. One of those funny little hand crank radios in the LL Bean catalog suddenly seemed like a great idea. I went outside.

The town was quiet; in fact, except for a couple of shell-shocked dog walkers, the streets were empty. I sat in my car, engine running, and charged my phone and iPad. I tested the CPAP. (It worked.) I listened to the reports. Apparently with no damage to the building, no giant tree limbs covering my car, and for now the Delaware river not flooding, for a change, I was in better shape than many. Sandy had slammed into the Jersey shore and ricocheted up the coast to cause major damage in New York and Long Island. The disaster at the Jersey Shore was yet to be fully ascertained or appreciated, but it was clear that my little town had done “well”.

Lambertville suffered downed trees, but it seemed the city had been largely spared. Throughout the damaged areas, time and again, evidence remained of a lucky event – a huge wreck of a tree, lying by the side of a house safely between walls and car, slumbering horizontally, in the driveway, house and auto, untouched. Among the downed lines and smashed and exploded transformers there were many of these near misses. All the stores and shops were closed, of course, but I didn’t see any broken windows. In the street lay the roadkill of two dented “Dish” satellite antennas, the likely source of night-time screeching, as metal was bent, bolts pried from brick and concrete by the wind, until they fell like crashing, grey, sea birds, to be gashed deeply by the concrete and asphalt that broke their dives.

I tried my iPad, but of course there was no WiFi. My iPhone on the other hand, had a good signal – 4 bars of LTE. Who would have known? Later in the week I learned that around a 3rd of the cell towers in NJ had been knocked out, one way or another, but at my location, 4 bars. Then and there I decided it was worth investing in a one month data account on the iPad. I signed up for it, and was off and running, with full access to my email, magazines, newspapers, and other junk on a device with a ten hour battery – if I could get a full charge.

On the radio, in the papers, on Twitter, everybody said, “Don’t go out. Stay home. The roads are a mess, there are wires down.” I had nowhere to go, the office was closed, our network was inaccessible, and that’s what I did. I cleaned, I gathered and arranged candles, I thought about how to eat my food before it all spoiled. Pendar was at his brother’s house up in the hills. My kids were in the South. I checked on them via Text. They were fine. I had a late breakfast.

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With one burner, and one frying pan, I cooked a small omelette with some sliced turkey, a little Irish cheddar, a veggie sausage, and an English muffin. I was glad that I had assembled my butane camp stove the night before. I had good coffee, and creamer – which I regard as a necessity for my coffee. It was a hearty breakfast. Much better than the bagel and cream cheese from the local deli that I’d been eating every day for the last week or two. I had nearly a dozen eggs to get through, one was broken, and I used two in my omelette. If I kept at it, I could get through them in a day or two. I had some smoked salmon and lots of crackers. At this point the goal was to use up all the food, so as not to waste it. It began to dawn on my just how much food I kept in my small, and largely empty, pantry. I figured I had plenty to last a few days, and if it got bad, there was always pasta, canned tuna, and oatmeal.

Tuesday I enjoyed another morning omelette and coffee. I started to get antsy, but decided to stick around town anyway. Two nights so far with no CPAP meant that I had to get up and move around and take drugs before I could do much else. I was still optimistic that I would have electicity soon. There were plenty of emails from my work colleagues around the world. They obviously had little or no concept of the magnitude of the crisis. “Hope you are well.” Well wishes along with requests for work that needed to be done. I spent a lot of time answering emails.

I set up a little cellphone workstation in an effort to save electricity, as well as to use my work phone for my work email. I paired my Mac bluetooth keyboard (because my iMac was useless without electricity of course) with my iPhone, and set the iPhone on a little Kensington iPad stand. Voila! A very serviceable workstation. Now I could type, leave the screen in landscape mode, work quickly through email as I located news about the state. New York City apparently was clobbered. Knocked out. The pictures were stunning, especially of the Brooklyn power station explosion and subsequent fire.

By the afternoon, it was clear that I had no heat, and the house was getting cold as the sun lurked behind the autumn clouds and the temperature dropped.

I had offers. Several friends from work had offered their homes. Marc had no electricity, but he did have a generator and a fireplace. I could plug in my CPAP. Robert had lost six big trees, but none had hit his house or car. He had electricity AND he pointed out, FIOS. That was tempting, but he lived pretty far down river. I opted for a third night at home, while the house was still not too cold. As I explained, this could go on for a long time. I would hold out as long as possible.

Wednesday was my day to break free and look around. My third day after a night without CPAP was okay. I wore the mask all night, and maybe, even without the airpump, I breathed differently – that is, in some healthy way. The tube to the mask was dripping with moisture from my breath. My back was getting tight from skull to hips, but there wasn’t much pain on Wednesday. Are you getting the CPAP issue here? For me, everything was pretty much okay, but my big anxiety was about the medical condition. I don’t normally think of myself as a person with a disability, but besides the headaches, apnea can kill you. Usually with heart failure or a stroke. I was just worried about the headache turning into a full-blown migraine. I’d been managing my migraines for almost a year, and the idea of rolling around in agony on the floor in the freezing cold didn’t appeal to me.

I drove North to Flemington. Rt. 202, normally a highway with fairly light traffic, now a disaster because of the huge numbers of cars lined up at the few gas stations that were open. Ten, twenty, thirty, or more cars. I learned quickly to stay in the left lane to avoid tail-ending someone. With almost a full tank, I wasn’t going to worry about gas. Presumably the stations were mobbed by all the people with generators. Lots of people with big red gas cans. Flemington appeared to have power. Chilis, Fridays, Applebees, all the “ees” were open. I drove to the County Library, for the WiFi. A lot of other people already had this idea. The folks at the library had set up a conference room full of tables and extension cords, and these were all occupied. I found a single power outlet and a chair upstairs in Fiction. I worked for hours, until my butt hurt, and I had to move. A young woman claimed my seat before I had packed my backpack. Something was going on in the parking lot as I started to pull out – lots of cops and flashing lights and a big truck. I ignored the hubbub until I saw the woman standing at the exit holding a big sign, “ICE AND WATER”. “For me?” I asked. “Sure,” she said, “If you need it.”

My frig had been off for 3 days. I still had food, and was anticipating dumping a lot of it in another day or two. I made a loop around the lot and the cops threw a sleeve of ice in my trunk. I waved off the bottled water. Just when I thought I was going to lose the rest of my food, I had a chance to get by for another day or two!!

Dropped off the ice, rearranged my food, and headed to Doylestown to find out if gasoline was truly hard to get, and to go to Starbucks and free WiFi. Despite horror stories I’d heard from neighbors and on the radio about standing in line for 4 hours to get gas, there were virtually no lines once you got to the Pennsylvania side of the river. I passed a short line in New Hope, and with nothing unusual in Doylestown, I filled my tank. I headed to Starbucks, and hunkered down with a sandwich and iced coffee and spent the rest of the afternoon there.

When I got back, my apartment was dark. I had hoped there would be a light in the window, but NO. No electricity for me. About that time, Marc texted me that he had electricity at his house in Solebury. Man. Why couldn’t I have electicity? He offered a room and a bed. I told him I would be there around 9. I got my stuff together, grabbed a bottle of wine, and headed over. Sure enough, all the lights were on in his neighborhood…why couldn’t all the lights be on in my neighborhood?? I thanked him for his kindness, he told me I didn’t have to bring the wine, I insisted, and I begged off on his offer for dinner, coffee, and anything else. I just wanted a shower and to go to bed, and I did. It is great to have people who are generous enough to share their homes in a crisis, but I hate to impose, and I didn’t want to interfere with his family life or routine. I slept well, with the CPAP on, and sneaked out the door before 8 AM the next morning.

Now, let me say, all the while that I was just making meals, and staying warm, and keeping my devices charged, it was clear that much of New Jersey and most of Manhattan had suffered tremendous damage and was still dealing with phenomenal hardship. I didn’t have much to complain about, just a great deal of inconvenience. I kept that in perspective, but I was cranky. It wears you down. It makes it hard to focus.

To be continued…

Written on my iPad.

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