Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Lazy, rainy end-of-summer days? Don't let it get you down. Celebrate Bushtemberfest! Via the award-winning Steven Hart at The Opinion Mill:

Bushtemberfest, or the Festival of Fatal Fuckups, will give GOP-weary Americans a chance to celebrate the non-accomplishments of George W. Bush, the first president to let one major American city be devastated by terrorists and allow another one to drown, all within the space of a few years. The observance will start with the anniversary of the flooding of New Orleans and climax with the anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center, during which time we will pray — loudly and publicly — that no other disasters befall us while we await the blessed day that King George and his menagerie of religious hucksters, corporate bandits and ideological grifters get their eviction notice.

How will you celebrate Bushtemberfest? Head on over to the Opinion Mill and let Steve know. Personally, I think that faithful observers of Bushtemberfest will celebrate by going on vacation to Texas and clear brush. Preferably, underfund your smoke detecters, then light candles in your kitchen before you leave home. Remember to tell everyone that no one could have predicted a house fire.

Better late than never

I'm about halfway through Crashing the Gate by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga. It's not a long book but I've had almost no free time lately (as you might have noticed by how little I've been blogging.) If you have a free day, you could easily finish it that quickly.

This book is simply a revelation. It should be the wake-up call the left needs to, well, wake up and stop snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. After I read a section, I spend the next twenty minutes explaining it to my husband (who hopefully will read it, but really, does he need to now?) and wondering aloud why the Dems are still doing what they're still doing, and why they don't get it.

I highly recommend it. And, now available in paperback!

Princeton Hospital

The University Medical Center at Princeton has proposed moving out of Princeton proper and to Plainsboro, to the FMC property on Rt. 1. The plan is to break ground in 2007.

I sure hope they do it.

Yesterday I got to spend some time at the hospital's ER (everyone's fine now, thanks.) Every process was painfully slow- more so than I've ever seen at other ERs. The building is old, outdated and unnecessarily complicated. The parking sucks, what there is of it. There's no room to make any improvements or expand, both of which are sorely needed.

The population of Central New Jersey is expanding rapidly and the hospital has not been able to keep up with it. It should be moved.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Central NJ gas price watch

$2.69, Riggins, Mercer St. Hightstown 10AM 8/29

Friday, August 25, 2006

Central NJ gas price watch

$2.75, Getty, Mercer St., Hightstown 5:35PM 8/25.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

...but they don't want them right now.

The housing market continues to slow down.

Prospective home buyers have turned cautious about making such a big-ticket purchase as mortgage rates have gone up and uncertainty has risen about whether the economy and job creation will keep slowing, analysts said.
Existing-home sales dropped 4.1 percent in July from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.33 million units, the National Association of Realtors reported. That was the lowest level since January 2004.
The latest snapshot of housing activity was weaker than analysts anticipated. Economists were forecasting the pace of sales to fall to 6.55 million.

This is an AP article and those figures are nationwide; existing-home sales fell even further, 5.4 percent, here in the Northeast.

Ya mean, families might want those houses?

Washington Twp. (Mercer County) was shocked to find that their school enrollment increased so much this year:
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP -- In light of an unanticipated boost in kindergarten enrollment, school officials are dipping deeper into the district's budget and leasing two modular trailers.
While preliminary projections last year indicated that 22 more kindergartners would attend Sharon School in 2006-07, recent figures suggest that number will triple, said Superintendent John Szabo.

Washington (also known as Robbinsville) was already well on the way to learning that unrestrained residential growth also means unrestrained spending on schools and infrastructure. This is just one more step on that learning curve.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Home grown tomatoes

I love home grown tomatoes. They are a treasure, and none are better than those we grow here in the Center of NJ.

That first tomato is such a thing of beauty. Now, late August, I can barely use up all that I get every day. By mid-September, Ill be leaving them to rot on the vine.

As always, I planted too many. At least I skipped growing zucchini this year.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sun Beer

Anderson Valley Brewing in Booneville, Ca, just announced they completed installing their Solar system. At 122kW, "the largest private photovoltaic solar installation north of the San Francisco Bay Area."

Woo-hoo! Sun beer. Gotta get me a Hop Ottin'.

(hat tip to Paul at the Crooked Beat. Visit the Crooked Beat Music & Beer Map!)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Central NJ gas price watch

$2.79, All three gas stations at the intersection of Rt. 1 and Rt. 571, Princeton NJ 8/20 9:30AM.

We're number one! Oh... wait...

New Jersey leads the nation in political double-dipping

In Our Fair State, it's tradition to hold several gvt. jobs. Look at Charlie Epps:

Double-dippers are unlikely to be able to give sufficient time and attention to one or both of their public jobs. Assemblyman Charles Epps Jr. (D-Hudson), spends at least two days of most weeks at the State House, which is time when he's not back home superintending Jersey City's troubled school district, for which he receives $210,520 a year. In 2003, Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer (R-Ocean) triple-dipped as a legislator, mayor and Ocean County employee.

How do these people sleep at night? Better still, why are we still electing them or letting them hold two jobs? Better still, anyone know where I can get a job that pays $210K a year and lets me show up only three days a week?

This kind of BS would put them in jail in Indiana.

Assemblyman Michael Panter has sponsored A524, which would prohibit legislators from holding another public office. He sponsored it in 2004 too, where it did exactly what it'll do this time- dead stall in the Assembly State Government Committee. I can only hope he'll propose it again and again until it gets passed.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

One Year Later

Katrina Home Bush Visited Still Stands Empty

There are a lot of "One Year After Katrina" articles out there right now, but this one really struck me yesterday when NPR ran it. It's an embarrasment, in the richest country in the world, that this is the way it's been.

I'm sorry, Ethel.

South Jersey Gas Price Watch

$2.81, Citgo, Rt. 70 across from the old racetrack property, Cherry Hill 6:03PM 8/17

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I get searches- you get answers

'S always fun to look at recent search terms that have led folks to this blog. Here are some of the more interesting:

"something really really fun to do in south jersey today"- Boy, I could write a book on that one. There are lots of choices, but it depends on your idea of fun. The entire shore, Wharton State forest, Atsion Lake, Atlantic City, Flying Fish brewery tours, among others- here's a whole list of family fun options, too.

""Afghan Kebab House #7" nj"= Rob mentioned this in a guest post over a year ago, and I still often get folks looking for it. The restaruant has no web site of its own, but I found a review site. I've yet to go there but it's clearly pretty popular.

"scams to play on people"- um, I'm not going to be much help on this one. Thanks for visiting!

"gas stations in central nj"- I guess all my Central NJ gas price watches have led folks here for that. I'll be wrapping that up at the end of summer. I also got an isolated search for "gas price watch NH" - I've only done one of those and it was a month and a half ago.

"how to write a letter to my congressman in new jersey"- ahhh, this is my favorite. Write to your Congressman! Start here, and follow the drop-down menu to NJ, and enter your zip code. It's easy! Your congresscritter should hear from you often.

Speaking of talking to your lawmakers, the Special Session on Property Tax reform is underway in Our Fair State, and they want to hear from you. Go and let the committees know what is important to you.

I haven't gotten any searches lately looking for Carol Gay. Carol is running in the 4th against Representative Chris Smith (who doesn't 'represent' me to speak of.) I talked to Carol for a Blue Jersey podcast and I was thoroughly impressed. Go Carol!

Tell it to her Tuesday

Janet at The Art of Getting By has a feature called "Tell it to me Tuesday" which is quite popular. This week's question- "What are some songs you can listen to over and over?"

I can get sick of anything if it gets overplayed enough. But, songs currently in heavy rotation on my iPod qualify, I guess, so here goes:
Feel Good Inc., Clint Eastwood, 19-2000- Gorillaz
Strange Ways- Moby (the one from the Bourne movies, only Moby song I own)
Santa Monica- Everclear
Dog Train- Blues Traveler
And, every time it comes on the radio, Shaft- Issac Hayes.

What are yours?

Fly away home

Trenton-Mercer airport announced last week more passenger service, now to Balt-Wash airport and Elmira-Corning airport on the carrier Boston-Maine. (Wow, that's a lot of hyphens, even for me.) Now, Delta's subsidiary Comair is proposing to add direct service to Atlanta and Logan in Boston. That would be absolutely great for area residents!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Central NJ gas price watch

$2.98, Rt. 35, Oakhurst, 8/13 5:30PM

Follow-up to the Beach Condos

I posted about Last Rides at Funtown Pier a couple weeks ago. Seems Seaside Park is considering turing a charming, classic NJ pier and boardwalk into a condo development.

Following up on that, this weekend, I visited Pier Village in Long Branch, a site where they tore out the somewhat dated, run-down and old real estate around the former pier area to make a new, really upscale boardwalk area loaded with condos.

My impression? Eh.

Long Branch did what it had to do, I understand that. The area was getting run down and since they are competing with all the other shore towns for your vacation and day-trip buck, they had to do something drastic to create attraction. It's clearly a winner, too; it was crazy crowded, even well into the evening on a Sunday.

I mean, it's nice- in a generic, plastic sort of chain-store way. Where there once was character, there now is style, and they're not the same thing.

Progress marches on, but I'll be a little sad for the passing of the old boardwalks. The ones made out of boards, not plastic.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Central NJ gas price watch

$2.89, Raceway, Rt. 33 Eastbound, Monroe Twp. 3:30 PM 8/9

Monday, August 07, 2006

On an anything but serious note...

What has my $2.00 and loves bad movies? This guy.

OK, he doesn't have my $2.00 yet. But I have faith that even without his robot pals, based on his track record, he'll earn my investment. (He used to mock guys like me in prison.)

Paying for the privilege

This school year, Washington Twp. becomes the first school district in Mercer County to charge a fee for participation in extracurricular activities and athletics:

After receiving less state aid than anticipated for this year's budget, the school district has become the only one in Mercer County to implement a fee for students who want to try out for athletic teams and extracurricular activities.
Though the decision has sparked complaints from parents, charging a $100 fee was the only way the district could avoid a drastic increase in property taxes, said Superintendent John Szabo.
"Unfortunately we were faced with a choice," Szabo said. "We're not getting the state funding we need, and we felt it would be better to charge the people most affected than raise taxes."

Very few other districts in Our Fair State have such a fee, and of those that do, Washington's is one of the highest. The fee will be waived if families cannot afford it.

An interesting point later in the article:

In Hopewell Valley, however, the school attempted a $50 athletic fee but stopped after two years because it became more trouble than it was worth, said Steve Timko, former athletic di rector.
"Having a fee was difficult be cause when every person was paying the same dollar amount, they looked for the same amount of playing time that went with it," Timko said.

How about the difference not just within an activity, but between activities? Football costs the school dramatically, but chess club barely registers on the cost scale. Parents will be less willing to participate in any fund-raises, because they've already ponied up a lot of bucks. Also, even with a waiver for lower-income families, I bet there will be kids who won't participate because of the fee, being too nervous to ask about it when there are financial troubles at home, or simply embarrassed that they need it waived.

Even with such concerns, apparently many other schools nationwide have activity fees. I hope other school districts in Central New Jersey don't jump on this bandwagon.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Interview with Carol Gay

The latest Blue Jersey podcast (and my very first one!) is an interview with Carol Gay, who is running to represent the 4th Congressional District.

Carol is an amazing woman with a long history of activism, leadership and support of human rights. She came into this race quite suddenly but has hit the ground running. She is very passionate about ending the war in Iraq:

"I was just talking to people at the Ocean County Fair, the Monmouth County Fair, the Burlington County Fair, and people inevitably said, "Yes, we need to bring our troops home. Bring them home now." And they want them brought home safely."

She is also dedicated to rescuing American workers from the failed policies of the Bush administration, which her opponent Chris Smith has been supporting.

"Medicare part D needs to be scrapped. Scrapped, start over! ... The Medicare part D is not working. It's a disaster. It is costing seniors far too much money."

Listen now by clicking here.- or, subscribe to the Blue Jersey podcast.

(Cross-posted at BlueJersey)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Real poetry

While I'm here mangling the poetry of others, Jersey Goddess Nordette Adams posted this gem.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Why I hate going to the grocery store when the bus from the retirement village is there

(with big apologies to Jenny Joseph)

Warning to Myself

When I am an old woman I shall remember
that if I am a grumpy old biddy, it's not everyone else's fault.
I shall not grump about every little thing in the store
because it was better fifty years ago.
I shall not take up two parking spaces
and give other drivers dirty looks if I stole one from them
and scream at my home health aide
and expect others to solve my mood problems.
I will remember that these younger people are adults too
and someday they will pick my nursing home
and be nice to them.

I can wear terrible clothes and grow very fat
and eat unhealthy foods that make me sicker
and refuse to exercise, and hasten my demise
but I shall not demand that medical science rescue me from myself if I do.

I will remember that the younger people in my life
have heard my stories a dozen times before
and I will stop if they look very bored or like they are faking interest.
If I recognize it, anyway.

Maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and remember to be nice.

And, when I am old,
I shall have my grandchildren re-read this to me
so I remember what I said.

Central NJ gas price watch

$2.93, Mobil, Southland Rd & Rt. 571, West Windsor.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Pay-as-you-drive car insurance?

The Times of Trenton has an article this morning about an idea to reduce our driving; paying for our insurance on a per-mile basis.

No, I didn't say lower our insurance costs. I said reduce our driving:

With pay-as-you-drive, insurance factors such as driving history, vehicle type and geographic location are incorporated into the per-mile price, which generally ranges between 2 cents and 10 cents. Mileage readings are captured through sensors in cars or authorized odometer readings.
Advocates say that if people could save money by reducing miles driven, instead of paying a lump-sum annual or semiannual premium, they would take fewer trips or be more likely to use other forms of transportation. Studies have estimated the concept could reduce overall driving by around 10 percent.
"It's almost a no-brainer when you look at reducing gasoline use and conserving oil," said Dean Baker, director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
Maryland state Sen. Lisa Gladden (D-Baltimore), who has sponsored pay-as-you-drive legislation, said she tried to show the appeal of the concept by bringing a pound of grapes to a legislative hearing.
"I said, 'If this pound costs a dollar, but I only eat half of them and you still charge me a dollar, is that fair?'" Gladden said. "That's the way we as consumers do business with auto insurance."

Well, it would be more fair, anyway. I used to work in insurance, back in the day before GoogleMaps and Mapquest made mileage determiniations easy, and folks would often insist that they drove 3 miles to work so they could get the lowest rating level- even if they lived in Burlington and worked in New Brunswick. The company I worked for didn't check, although some did. Also, I know when I wasn't working outside the home, we put almost as many miles on my car as my working husband's, because we drove my car on every vacation and every single weekend trip, plus around-town and school driving- but I was rated the lowest usage tier because I wasn't employed. A monitored per-mile driving would be more accurate.

It would also show people the more accurate costs of driving. We all know people who spend their weekends driving from store to store to get the "best price" on purchases. Well, if they take into account how much it costs in gas (and time!) to do that, plus the environmental impact of driving thirty miles to save a buck, they'd realize often it makes financial sense to stay put and pay a bit extra.

But it will take a very long time, if ever, before such a system is enacted. How many people do you know who refuse to get EZ Pass because they don't want Big Brother watching how fast they drive on the Turnpike? They'll never accept this. Could the information on how you drove be subpoenaed? Who has access to it? I can already hear the protests starting. Also, the insurance industry isn't known for their quickness in adopting new technologies or systems, so don't plan to hear it coming too soon.

If it was sold as something to reduce our insurance premiums substantially, it might have a shot here in Our Fair State; but I refer back to that EZ Pass analogy, which was originally supposed to make life easier and tolls cheaper- but now costs more for the convenience.

Oh well- another good idea that has little chance.

(On a side note, this was front-page on the Times this morning, even though it's not currently even proposed in Our Fair State. Must be a slow news day.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Last rides at Funtown Pier

Via Bob at the RixMix: Condos may replace rides at Funtown Pier

We were just at Funtown pier last week. We went with the friend family- the family you pick, not the ones you're born with- and had a blast. Got the armbands and rode all day for $15. I was too nauseus for the Tower of Fear but (because?) I rode the loop roller coaster twice, and we had to practically drag my youngest off the Family Coaster. The bumper cars were a hit with young and old. We grabbed giant slices of pizza twenty steps down the boardwalk and headed right back afterward. At no time did we feel we didn't get our money's worth.

Kim Pascarella, manager of the Seaside Heights portion of the pier:
"It doesn't surprise me, really. In my opinion, within 10 years there will not be any small businesses left on the barrier island. Businessmen are being taxed out of business. This just seems to be the way things are going."

It'll all come down to finances. Seaside park has seriously high property taxes, just like every other town in Our Fair State. Replacing the amusement pier with condos is just a tentative plan right now, and there isn't even an official proposal on the table; but if there's a true chance of a substantial financial incentive for the town, and the APP article sure makes it sound like there is, Funtown is history.

It's old, it's small, and it's part of the incredible charm of Seaside Park. I will be sorry to see it go.

Expect to see me there on its last day of operations. I'll be watching my youngest go 'round and 'round on the Family coaster.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Evil Hot

The mercury's hit 95 here in Central NJ, possibly to climb a little higher this afternoon. This is what is known as "Evil Hot." So, what did I do?

I raised the temp on my air conditioner 2 degrees; I turned off every light in my house; I shut all the shades on the south-facing side; and, as soon as I finish writing to you nice folks, I'll shut down this computer as quickly as possible.

In other words, I took up author Jeri Smith-Ready's challenge to lower electricity consumption. (Sorry, Jeri, I can't take the air set at 85- but every little bit helps.) What fun stuff are you doing in this heat?