Archive for the ‘Boston’ Category

Why you still shouldn’t use Vanguard Realty

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

For many years, I’ve been working assiduously to rid my (postal) mailbox of junk mail. The ongoing damage to the environment caused by the many tons of junk mail sent every day to people who don’t even bother to look at it is offensive, and want nothing to do with it.

I wrote back in 2011 about Frank Shaw at Vanguard Realty, a local Realtor who simply refused, despite my repeated requests, to stop sending me junk mail.

Since then, I’ve made two additional requests to other employees of the office to stop sending me junk mail, but it has not helped — I’ve received at least eight more mailings from Vanguard Realty, the most recent one just yesterday. (That most recent mailing, incidentally, engaged in the time-honored junk-mailer tradition of using a completely blank envelope with no return address, a transparent attempt to trick the recipient into opening something that they would otherwise throw away unopened.)

These mailings aren’t just paper. Mr. Shaw insists on sending me refrigerator magnets once or twice a year with the Patriots or Red Sox season schedule on them. Those is even worse for the environment than paper junk mail, and anybody who knows me knows that I have absolutely no use for them.

I’ve received junk mail from numerous other real-estate agents over the years, and most of them have been both willing and able to stop sending it when asked. Vanguard Realty’s failure to do so is indicative of either incompetence or a marked lack of respect for the people from whose business they wish to profit. Therefore, if you’re looking for a real-estate agent, I reiterate the recommendation I posted in 2001 that you choose someone else.

An open letter to the owner of The Chubby Chickpea Food Truck

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Dear Avi,

“You know what the great thing is about owning your own business? You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”

That’s what you told me this morning when your food truck arrived 10 minutes past its scheduled opening time and still hadn’t opened 10 minutes after that. That’s what you told me after I waited for you in 10-degree weather for 20 minutes, until my gloved fingers had lost all feeling. That’s what you told me when I commented to you, “You know, when it’s this cold, you really have to be here on time.”


A journey of searching and renewal

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Today, I embarked upon a magical journey, a journey of discovery, a journey of oneness with the environment. In a word, a journey of recycling.

For several years, I’ve been accumulating junk of various sorts on a shelf under my workbench with the intention of eventually figuring out how to dispose of it in an environmentally sound way. Today, I decided to throw it all into boxes and try to get rid of it.


Globe Direct: Hey Boston, here’s 34 tons of trash per week on us!

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

What would you say if I told you that there’s a Boston business that adds more than 34 tons per week of trash to the City of Boston’s waste stream*, trash that the residents of Boston end up paying to dispose of to the tune of >$100,000 per year**? What would you say if I then told you that the business that does this has managed to figure out how to get other businesses to pay for it, ripping them off in the process?

Ladies and gentlemen of Boston, say hello to “Globe Direct in association with RedPlum”!


Boston Herald rude sales people won’t leave us alone

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
To: Boston Herald home delivery department
Subject: Rude sales call from Boston Herald

My wife and I (you can find us in your records under our home phone number [elided]) are no longer Boston Herald subscribers. We currently have no desire to resume our subscription. Since we canceled our subscription, your sales department has called us several times trying to get us to resume. This needs to stop. The most recent call, a few minutes ago, was incredibly rude.


A rotten start to my week, courtesy of, yet again, the Boston Public Schools

Monday, October 28th, 2013

To: Maria Vieira, Assignment Specialist, Boston Public Schools
To: Evelyn Adario, Assistant Director of Envrollment Planning and Support, Boston Public Schools
To: Denise Snyder, Senior Director of Welcome Services, Boston Public Schools
Cc: Boston City Councilor John R. Connolly
Cc: Boston City Councilor Mark Ciommo
Cc: John McDonough, Superintendent, Boston Public Schools
Cc: Boston School Committee

Last night, in preparation for visiting a BPS family resource center this morning to prove my daughter’s residency for the exam school entrance examination, I sat down at my computer to figure out which of the three centers would be the least time-consuming for me to visit.

I dutifully typed their addresses, from the ISEE letter I received late last week, into Google Maps and calculated public transportation routes and estimated travel times from my home to each FRC and from each FRC to work. All three are, of course, inconvenient to reach from Brighton, but the one in Dorchester seemed to be the least inconvenient, so that’s the one I planned to use.

This morning, I typed the address for the Dorchester FRC into my phone and set off on my way. However, when I arrived at the location identified by my phone from the address in the letter, there was no FRC to be seen.

In fact, the FRC was miles to the north of where I was standing, because the address in the letter was wrong:


The ZIP code of the Dorchester FRC is 02125, not 02124. (more…)

Why does dealing with the Boston Public Schools always have to be so unpleasant?

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

To: Acting BPS Superintendent John McDonough
Cc: Boston School Committee
Cc: City Councillor Mark Ciommo
Cc: City Councillor and mayoral candidate John Connolly
Cc: Mayoral candidate Charlotte Golar Richie
Cc: Mayoral candidate Bill Walczak

Dear Superintendent McDonough,

Why does it have to be consistently so painful  to deal with the BPS administration? Some of the many examples I’ve recently experienced…


Herb Chambers Honda of Boston tries to charge me $942 for an $118 repair

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

September 22, 2013

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Honda Automobile Customer Service
1919 Torrance Boulevard
Mail Stop: 500 – 2N – 7A
Torrance, CA 90501-2746

Attention: [name elided] at 800-999-1009 ext. [extension elided]

This is a followup to the attached letter which I sent you on August 2, 2013, about which we subsequently spoke by phone.

To summarize my previous letter, the back-lighting for the A/C controller for my 2007 Honda Odyssey (VIN [elided]) had not worked since the vehicle was new. I asked you to cover the cost of fixing the problem, even though my Odyssey is out of warranty, since the problem was present from when the vehicle was new.

On the phone, you told me to bring the Odyssey to a dealership and get an estimate, and then we could discuss further whether Honda might be able to cover part of the cost of the repair.

I had Herb Chambers Honda of Boston (1186 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02134) look at the problem while I was also dealing with a dead battery there. They gave me an estimate (see attached) of $942 plus tax to replace the entire A/C switch panel. This, frankly, is patently absurd, so I went home and did some more research on my own.

I was able to buy a quality, warrantied, used A/C controller on eBay for only $74.99. I was able to install the new controller myself in a half hour. Assuming a 100% markup on the cost of the replacement part and an hour of labor at $60 per hour, Herb Chambers should have been able to do the repair for $209.98, over $700 less than the estimate they tried to gouge me with.

But it’s even worse than that. (more…)

My current take on Boston’s mayoral candidates

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

I’ve spent some time taking a look at all of the declared candidates for Boston’s mayoral election. Here are my initial reactions, for those who might be curious.

People worth considering

All of these are people I’d be happy to see elected.

John Connolly

(Web site.) Current City Councillor. I very much liked what he said and did about the Boston Arts Academy / MSBA renovation fiasco (email me if you’re curious). His web site has by far the most detailed platform of any candidate, and I agree with pretty much everything he wants to do. His connections would make him a less adversarial mayor than the outsiders who are running, but they might also prompt him to ignore some of the “business as usual” which really needs to be cleaned up. Overall, after looking at all the candidates, Connolly is currently my first choice.

Bill Walczak

(Web site.) If you’re looking for an “outsider” who has the potential to shake things up and yet also has the strength of character and experience to avoid being eaten alive by the establishment, Bill’s your man. Definitely worth a serious look. Education and community health-care are his two big issues, and he has a huge amount of experience with both of them.

Charlotte Golar Richie

(Web site.) She seems highly qualified. She has been endorsed by EMILY’s List. She would be Boston’s first woman mayor. Unfortunately, her web site is entirely lacking any sort of substantial content about her vision, plan, or platform.

Robert Consalvo

(Web site.) City Councillor. Worth a look, but if you’re going to vote for a current City Councillor, I think Connolly is a better choice.


Fumes in MBTA buses: significant progress

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

I met several months ago with MBTA management to present my concerns about toxic fumes in certain MBTA buses. Thank you, again, to State Senator Will Brownsberger and his  Legislative Counsel and Policy Advisor, Michael Buckley, for making that meeting happen.

I am pleased to report that the MBTA took my concerns seriously, investigated them, and took corrective action which they hope will fix the problem.

I met today for a second time with Jeffrey Gonneville, the MBTA’s Chief Mechanical Officer, and Troy Ellerbee, Director of Bus Maintenance, and they filled me in on their progress. Read on for the details.