Archive for the ‘Boston’ Category

Olympics in Boston: Just Say No

Monday, July 7th, 2014

no_boston_olympics(I’ve just sent this letter, or a slightly tweaked version of it, to Mayor Walsh; Councilors Ciommo, Wu, Pressley, Flaherty, and Murphy; Senator Brownsberger; Representative Honan; Governor Patrick; Senators Warren and Markey; and Representative Capuano.)

Dear [title] [name],

I have lived in Boston since 1989. I have been a homeowner here, in Brighton, since 1997. My wife and I have five children, all of whom were born in Boston, and two of whom are in Boston Public Schools. We are Bostonians. And we absolutely, positively, do not want Boston to host the Olympics in 2024.

We do not have enough space. We do not have enough roadway capacity. We do not have enough public transportation capacity. We do not have enough housing capacity. We do not need to spend, literally, billions of dollars constructing facilities which will end up abandoned and unused after the party is over. We do not need years of construction disruption that will make the Big Dig look like a toddler digging in a sandbox.

Boston has nothing to prove; we are already a world-class city. Hosting the Olympics will in the end make us less so rather than more.

One cannot ignore the fact that the International Olympic Committee and Boston do have one thing in common: corrupt governance. It is impossible to ignore the fact that the head of the Boston Olympics exploratory committee, John Fish, is the CEO of a construction company that would earn billions in revenue were the Olympics to be hosted here. It is impossible to ignore the fact that our mayor is beholden to  the unions, whose members would also benefit financially from a Boston Olympics.

The problems I, and many others, foresee are hardly unique to Boston. In their current form, the Olympics don’t benefit ANY city, state, or country in which they are hosted. They have become bloated and corrupt, and this sickness will only begin to heal when the IOC can no longer find any city willing to host the Olympics in their current form.

For the good of Boston and the good of the Olympics, I implore you to oppose the effort to bring them to Boston in 2024.


Jonathan Kamens

“Beantown AutoMobile Detailing” vandalizes my car, refuses to clean it up

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

On Wednesday night, April 16, 2014, after our minivan sat idle for two days while we celebrated the beginning of the holiday of Passover, I went out to run an errand and found a sodden, disintegrating advertisement from “Beantown AutoMobile [sic] Detailing” stuck between the driver’s side window and its lower rubber gasket. When I removed the ad, it unfortunately left a good chunk of itself behind, steadfastly stuck to the window:


It had rained during the holiday, and the rain dissolved the ad, and then the rain dried, and what you see above was the result.


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…)