January 15th, 2010


This Day in History, 1919: Great Boston Molasses Flood

Today is the 91st anniversary of:


"Shortly after noon on January 15, 1919, a fifty-foot-tall steel tank filled with 2.3 million gallons of molasses collapsed on Boston’s waterfront, disgorging its contents in a fifteen-foot-high wave of molasses that traveled at thirty-five miles per hour. When the tide receded, a section of the city’s North End had been transformed into a war zone. The Great Boston Molasses Flood claimed the lives of twenty-one people and scores of animals, injured more than a hundred, and caused widespread destruction."

The above is quoted from author Stephen Puleo, who has published a wonderful book about the flood called "Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919." It tells the story of what happened and also places the event in historical context. For more information on the book, you can visit his website at http://www.stephenpuleo.com.

Busy Weekend in Boston

There's certainly a lot going on in the Boston area this weekend. As I noted before, Nomi and I would have gone to Arisia this weekend had it not been for the logistics of dealing with the new little ones. We're slightly wistful about missing the convention, but in all honesty, we wouldn't have it any other way.

One thing I wish I could get to this weekend, though, is the ALA Midwinter conference. I attended ALA Midwinter the last time it was in Boston in my role as a Trustee of the Public Library of Brookline. ALA draws a lot of publishers giving away books and selling many more at discounted prices, plus the chance to meet various authors. Again, it's something I would love to attend, but I'm not about to leave Nomi home alone to take care of the kids all day. And, anyway, last time ALA was at the Hynes, which is easier for me to get to. This time around it's at the BCEC, a little harder.

A third thing going on in the area this weekend is the Mystery Hunt. This isn't something I've ever participated in before, nor do I plan to in the future, so I don't mind missing it. However, I do have friends active in Mystery Hunt whom it would be nice to see, and given how busy they all are, it's unlikely I'll have a chance to see any of them.

Say la vee.

A reminder to all: Nomi and I will be celebrating her birthday at our place on Saturday night, if you want to stop by and say hello. And we will be around (but at home) the rest of the weekend if you're so inclined; just get in touch in advance.

An Odd Dream

I don't usually post about the dreams I have, although I do recall doing so once or twice before. But last night I had one that was so odd and oddly vivid, so I thought I'd share the details.

In my dream, I was one of a handful of people invited to a special concert. Apparently, Barack Obama's mother had just died (yes, I know IRL she's already gone), and in order to get through his grief Obama needed to perform Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody to an audience of people he could trust. So in my dream, I got to watch Obama and a back-up band perform the whole song, with Obama on lead vocals.

No, I have no idea what it means.

An Odd Juxtaposition

I subscribe to breaking news updates from a local television station on my iPhone, and on Tuesday afternoon I received two updates within the space of a few hours that made me wonder exactly what defines a breaking news item. Which of these is important enough to warrant sending a message out to subscribers?

The first breaking news update was that Conan O'Brien was refusing to do The Tonight Show at 12:05 following Jay Leno.

The second breaking news update was that a 7.3 magnitude earthquake had hit Haiti.

The second one kind of puts the first one in perspective, doesn't it?

To Conan's credit, even in his own public letter bemoaning the unfairness of his situation, he acknowledges how lucky he really is to be in his position. As many of my friends might say, Conan is dealing with a first-world problem, and nothing made that clearer than the sudden third-world problem the citizens of Haiti found themselves facing.

I help organize a weekly political discussion lunch at work on Wednesdays, and people who gathered were interested in discussion both Leno/Conan and Haiti. There was some feeling that the Leno/Conan story was much more trivial, and a few people seemed almost embarrassed that they wanted to discuss it.

And yet...

The world doesn't stop for disasters, either private ones or public ones. When my father died, I kept thinking that the world had stopped, and why didn't everyone else see that? When 9/11 happened, the world seemed to stop, but in truth, other aspects of life moved forward (such as the postal increase that was announced on that day). And sometimes the scope of a tragedy is so huge that we need the release of trivial matters to help us to cope.

Anyway, that's a thought for the day.

Politicians Should Be Judicious With the Robocalls

We've been getting a lot of robocalls at home for the US Senate race. Although I'm registered as a Democrat, Nomi is registered as independent (in Massachusetts the official designation is Unenrolled, since we have an Independent Party), and consequently we get a lot of calls from Republican candidates as well as Democrats.

It's pretty much a given that I'll be voting for Martha Coakley, although I like much of what Joe Kennedy, the Libertarian candidate, has to say. Kennedy hasn't been robocalling, probably because he doesn't have the money, and I honestly can't remember the last robocall we got from Coakley.

But Scott Brown has been calling quite a bit, and my wife has finally had enough of the robocalls from Scott Brown.

Memo to all politicians: some of your constituents have six-month twin daughters at home that need their naps.