A Day That Will Live in Infamy

My judgment has been a little off lately.

I know, I know, when you look at my crushes in city government, you might argue that my judgment was never on.  However…

I almost wrote a post praising Rose Tirella for putting a page’s worth of Wheels to Water information in the latest ICT.

I’m thisclose to letting Victor convince me that the new Doctor is not, in fact, the new Colin Baker, but is actually a skilled and nuanced actor.

And I’ve finally agreed with Sid McKeen.

It’s not that I read McKeen on a regular basis.  Once a month, which is enough time for me to forget why I don’t read him in the first place, I read a column or two, vow to never read him again, rinse and repeat.

This morning, the month-long respite had not expired, but my husband told me to read his column, “because you’ll actually agree with him.”

This was said in the same tone of voice he uses to instruct me to never insult Sid McKeen.  “I think I’ve got a copy of Wry and Ginger around somewhere,” he says.  “And, besides, he and I went to high school together.”

(My husband is one of those parents who watches Walking with Dinosaurs with the kids and says things like, “That T-Rex was around when I was in kindergarten.”  I would chalk it up to hallucinations or the habit adults have of teasing children with things they definitely know not to be true — cf. “got your nose” — except his Scottish side is Clan MacLeod.  So there’s a part of me that wonders whether his “mother” is really some girl he rescued during the Second World War.  Please, don’t cut his head off.)

I don’t own a cell phone.  These days, when you tell someone that, you get the same response that was once reserved for people who don’t subscribe to cable or who have a one-car household.  That is, “How do you live?

And, of course, the answer is, quite well.

There is, of course, the “but you need it in an emergency!” response.  And I wonder what people did…ten years ago, or fifteen years ago, or whenever cell phones weren’t as sparse and large as they were in the days of Miami Vice.

I’ve had a minor emergency while driving: my tire popped, and I had both my kids in the car.  I was able to get to a friend’s place of employment, where he confirmed that my spare sucked, but we were able to pump it enough to get me to my parents’ house.

It was not the end of the world.  It would not have been the end of the world if it happened on 290.  My children are not permanently traumatized.

Another situation: in Harvard Square, kids in tow, late to meet a friend.  Realized that the pay phone kiosks near every T exit do not, in fact, contain any pay phones.  But — here’s the deal that those of us without cell phones know — everyone else on the planet does have a cell phone, and they’re more than happy to use their minutes for anything.  So, I asked a passing hipster if he’d let me call my friend in exchange for five dollars.  (The offer of money is something I’ve done in the past, but no one ever takes it, and that was the same in this case.)  So, called my friend, met up with him, never needed to own a cell phone.

The funny thing is, of course, that people continually try to convert me to becoming a cell phone owner.

“Once you have kids,” they’d say, eyeing my eight-months-pregnant belly, “you’ll need one.”

Um, nope.

Now that I have a child entering school in the fall, I’m told that he’ll need a phone, or that he’ll at the very least need one by the time he’s 10, at which point his social calendar will be such that his father and I will never be able to keep up with where he is.

There is something very bizarre about a society that thinks it’s not safe for me to walk on the Common at eight or nine at night, but that it’s perfectly normal for parents to not know where their grammar-school-aged children are.

Or that routinely engaging in behavior that was done by the vast majority of the population a decade or two ago (that is, driving without a cell phone) is a dangerous proposition.

So, while I don’t agree with Sid McKeen that cell phones are “the most annoying” invention of our time (I nominate Zhu Zhu Pets), I agree with most of the points in his column.

And if that isn’t a cry for help, I don’t know what is.

Crompton Park Pool

(I think all future pool construction in the City of Worcester should come with one of those Percy’s guarantees: if we start digging a pool and there are no major biohazards found by May 15, the pool’s on us!)

I’d been planning on writing a gushy post about how good the Bennett Field Pool is looking, because I drive by it multiple times a day.  Even my elder son has noticed how great it’s looking, and he wanted to know what they’d been doing and why they’d been doing it.  So I described asbestos abatement (as I understand it, which is about as well as I understand, say, particle physics.  Or City Council Meetings.) and my son got really upset and said, “Well, they better not put any more asbestos in there, because then they’re going to have to dig it up, and it looks awesome right now and they should keep it like this forever.”

Out of the mouths of babes.

Now, in late April, we knew that Crompton Park was two weeks behind schedule, in part because of PCBs, and now we’ve found that the levels are so high that the opening of the pool will be delayed until Labor Day.

Now, a month and a half ago, I wrote:

After the Crompton Park and Greenwood are complete, DPW&P will provide a breakdown cost analysis of how much it cost to demolish/abate each, so that they can estimate how much it will cost to demolish/abate the other seven pool facilities and re-sod to put back into park use.  Clancy specifically wanted an estimate of the annual cost over a 20 year period, because it would be a capital expenditure.  (Just as a note, they are operating under the assumption that the other seven pools will need PCB and/or asbestos abatement.)

So — one of the questions that should be asked at Tuesday’s City Council meeting is whether this situation at Crompton Park foreshadows high PCB levels at the other pools.  If so — and, again, I would be skeptical if the answer is anything but “yes” — we need to wonder (and ask) if the installations of pools and spray parks at the other locations will take longer than expected, and whether they will cost more than originally anticipated.