Left In Lowell

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March 11, 2014

Learn to Code for Websites!

by at 10:26 am.

The 3-session class I teach at LTC, Intensive Web Design, is starting this Thursday, March 13, with sessions on subsequent Thursdays on the 20th and 27th. The class goes from 6:30-9:30 PM (the website says 6-9 but we always do 6:30 til 9:30 when LTC closes). We could use some more students for this session! Learn web coding from scratch, no previous web experience needed! Must have basic Mac skills.

We run through a lot of material - a class of this intensity would take up most of a semester at a university or community college. We can get through material faster because the class size is small. Fee for LTC members is $50 with $25 book fee, or $75 with $25 book fee for nonmembers. It is WELL worth the cost!

Here’s the class description:


This 3-session class is an intense, comprehensive HTML/CSS class for those who are really serious about web design. It is taught using DreamWeaver, but you will be able to create your website in other programs. (4 student minimum)

Date & Time: Thursday, March 13, 20, 27 - 6:00-9:00 PM [note - I typically start at 6:30 and end at 9:30pm]
Fee: $50 (non-member $75) plus $25 materials fee for textbook.
To sign up using PayPal, please visit http://ltc.org/content/current-class-schedule and pay the “Intermediate/Advanced workshop fee”
If you’d prefer to pay by cash or check, please email gpolites@ltc.org to reserve a spot.

November 24, 2013

Our Best to Councilor Leahy

by at 9:13 am.

Councilor Leahy apparently is recovering from a mild heart attack.

Our best to the Councilor in his recovery.

November 1, 2013

Vote the Pollard!

by at 10:27 am.

Let it not be said that the local blogosphere didn’t do do its part to help the Pollard Memorial Library win in a contest for an energy-efficient lighting makeover from National Grid (valued around $15,000)!

So, go like this page (the Like button is on the top right) and then you’ll see the libraries show up. Select the Pollard. Then BE SURE TO SCROLL DOWN because there’s a form to fill out as well! I bet most people miss this, I did the first time. The form asks your email, address, etc but it’s not like National Grid doesn’t have that already. The contest voters have to be National Grid customers so this is probably for verification.

Then you’ll get a pop-up asking for an app named Poll to get permission (if you have never used Poll before). Normally I am really really loathe to use apps on Facebook, but this is about Lowell pride, and winning money for the Pollard, so even I said “OK.”

After you vote, the page will reload and you’ll be able to see where the contest stands. So far the Pollard is ahead, but I suspect very few people have voted, since this is a new contest and it goes all month. So go to it, Lowell! And spread the word.

May 7, 2013

We Could Use a Zookeeper These Days

by at 8:57 pm.

The jokes write themselves. Did you know the city once had a zoo at Fort Hill? You can read about it on Jen Myer’s blog.

It’s filled with tidbits like this:

Two weeks later another 5-year-old Buck was rescued from the Western Canal by 17-year-old Raymond Donovan of Middlesex Street, treated by Dr. Harold N. Eames for “frozen ears,” treated to “a few shots of good whiskey” and taken to the zoo.

December 18, 2012

Rest in Peace Tom

by at 6:55 pm.

While watching today’s City Council meeting, I just learned that Tom Byrne passed away.

Most people in LiL nation do not know him but in some ways he was a lot like us, he loved Lowell politics. He belonged to a certain “clan” and did not travel in my circles both socially and certainly ideologically. However, we agreed that civic participation is key to a healthy and prosperous community.

I got to know him when on occasion I was invited on the Saturday morning WCAP talk show. He always treated me with respect, on and off the air.

November 23, 2012

h/t to Lynne and Jack

by at 7:34 pm.

Now that some of the dust has settled, I wanted to express my views on the events that occurred this past week. I am referring to GLTHS Mary Jo Santoro filing a police complaint on my LiL colleague Lynne. This is not how I wanted or expected to spend my Thanksgiving week but if you enter the public arena, you should be ready for unexpected and unpleasant events.

First and foremost, I want to share publicly what I said to both Lynne and Jack. In my opinion, Santoro’s actions were not aimed at Lynne but they were aimed at LiL in general and Jack in particular. It is Jack’s investigating writing under the banner of “Mary Jo Must Go” that has the Superintendent, her supporters, her benefactors, her sycophants, her entourage and most importantly the hanger-ons that live off the job clearinghouse, self-defined political power base on the Merrimack.

Yes, Santoro would not mind if Lynne was wounded but I believe that particular action was orchestrated by one of Santoro’s staunchest supporters for his own twisted motives. Jack’s post were the ultimate target. The decision to go after Lynne was an attempt by Santoro and her companions to intimidate LiL into silence. I do not think this threat has worked. Lynne and Jack are stubborn and committed. When your principles are based on ideas and not on getting a job in the public sector for yourself or a family member, it is pretty easy to continue to fight.

I have no idea where Santoro’s complaint will land in the legal arena. We will wait and see but at this rate, pretty soon she is going to run out of people to accuse of harassment. That tactic has short shelf life.

What bothered me the most in the past few days was the pleasure some bloggers took in the possibility that another blog will be shut off. I can understand the Lowell Sun jumping on that bandwagon, there is no love lost between us and them. But for bloggers to find pleasure in the possibility that free speech will be curtailed is truly disturbing.

The internet and all of its wonderful democratic components should be applauded by all self-described bloggers. We should celebrate the ability to exchange idea no matter how appalling we find the words and their delivery. The freedom to share views, debate, argue and perhaps form a consensus should be embraced. You should fight words with words, not with the threat of police action.

There are so many avenues that are available to express one’s views in Lowell, LiL is not the only game in town. There are many blogs (I do miss the Mill City boys) and most of those blogs do not share our views. Some even like to position themselves as the anti-LiL. We have a local radio station that welcomes callers; we have a local television show that provides a wide spectrum of views. And of course we have our newspaper. There are plenty of outlets for everyone to present their views. Why try to harm LiL?

And as far as Mr. Mike Hayden is concerned, I would like to offer a suggestion. Instead of being fascinated by Jack and Lynne, try to serve as a mentor to younger Lowellians who want to get involved in public service or civic activity. If you are so confident in your views, you should be able to quickly form a cadre of up and coming leaders who can challenge the current sentiments expressed by the majority of Lowell voters that have clearly stated “we want people like Fred Bahou and Erik Gitschier” to serve on the GLTHS Committee.” By the way, Mr. Hayden I really do not care what you may say about me so if you want to go on Gerry’s blog and call me vile names as you do Jack and Lynne, it will be a total waste of your time as well as the readers. I do not need nor seek your approval on any level.

I would like to thank Mary Jo. On behalf of three Lowell homeowners, taxpayers who like this City and want it to prosper on all levels, thanks for giving us a kick in the rear end and waking me up from my slumber.

November 22, 2012

Happy TDay!

by at 7:55 am.

I just wanted to jump for a moment off the crazy train and express my gratitude for the fact that we live in this country, where we have free speech, where we have elected representative government, and how great it is to spend the day with a bounty of food, family, and lots and lots of fabulous wine from our locally owned markets.

I hope that even the people who hate my guts have a wonderful day with them and theirs, and they realize just how lucky we are in this city, this state, and this country. And that we remember those here in the US, and worldwide, who do not share in the bounty with us. May we be ever more compassionate in our thoughts and in our policies.

With that, let turkey-day commence! Have a great one!

July 11, 2012

Boycott Belfast and the UK; Lowell Take Heed

by at 1:06 pm.

A two year battle to keep an innocent family member from being executed ended earlier today, when Lennox, a dog seized in 2010 from a family in Belfast, Northern Ireland, despite having zero aggression problems, and being the therapy dog for a disabled 7-year-old, was put to death. Belfast ignored worldwide outrage, and even offers from celebrities to rehome the dog outside of the UK, where the so-called “Dangerous Dog Act” enabled this disgusting event. Lennox was not even a pitbull, but a Bulldog/Labrador mix - NOT on the dangerous dogs list in the first place. But “authorities, armed with a dressmakers tape measure, had determined that he fit the measurements of a pit bull-type dog.”

As you all know by now I am a passionate dog owner of two adorable little rescues. And I am also vehemently against the stupid muzzle law that our own city put on pitbulls. It is absolutely ridiculous to react in a kneejerk fashion to anecdotal feelings that a particular breed is dangerous. There is no evidence pitbulls are any more dangerous than any other large dog.

The AVMA document concludes:

Given that pit bull-type dogs are not implicated in controlled studies, and the potential role of prevalence and management factors, it is difficult to support the targeting of this breed as a basis for dog bite prevention…

“If breeds are to be targeted a cluster of large breeds would be implicated including the German shepherd and shepherd crosses and other breeds that vary by location.”

We were interested in possibly a trip to the UK (Scotland) and Northern Ireland sometime in the future. But forget that. Not if dogs can be ripped away from families for having the unfortunate measurements of a banned dog, and not until they lift the ban itself.

Don’t you understand? It’s NOT the breed. It’s the owner. A bad owner could own a POODLE and they’d turn aggressive. A bad owner could own a golden retriever and turn that family-friendly dog into a nightmare. Get the owners. STOP blaming the breed. An ordinance to strengthen the ability for the city to cite bad owners for: not keeping their dog confined or on a leash (a real pet peeve of mine), for not licensing them, and for other violations would do a lot more for safety than muzzling (or seizing and destroying) one breed which currently has a bad rep because of today’s ownership trend. Pitties are all over the place, proportionately, so yeah, they seem more prevalent in attacks. They are also a “status” breed for the sort of owner who WANTS to train aggression in their dogs, or neglects them and doesn’t do proper socialization. That doesn’t mean they are any more dangerous than any other breed badly brought up.

And it doesn’t mean that it’s a great idea to punish the vast majority of good owners who have great, socialized and trained, properly confined, sweet adorable pitties.

In previous decades, other breeds have been blamed for dangerousness, like rottweilers, doberman pinschers, German Shepherd, and others. When will learn that it’s not about the breed? How many aggressive chihuahuas are there out there, simply, again, because of they are a popular breed and some owners do not bring them up right? But you see, a badly socialized or spoiled aggressive chihuahua hardly seems dangerous. Just pitties. Or rotties. Or shepherds. Or dobermans.

Instead of letting their gut lead the Council, maybe they ought to try actually researching the facts. Unless we want to be like the heartless UK and start seizing family pets, which seems to be the direction we’re heading to, sometimes. Politics should be able rising above primal sentiment to operate on the behalf of the public’s actual best interest. In the case of the breed-specific bans and seizure and muzzle laws, however, we’ve seen a total failure.

May 10, 2012

Help Find Missing Cat

by at 11:16 am.

Margaret at Jackie’s blog posted about her missing cat on May 3rd. I didn’t see the post until today. If it’s been found, Margaret, please let me know! Otherwise, please keep an eye out for it in the Highlands area, his name is Milo, he’s a black and white cat, very friendly.

Margaret if you have a picture please let me know so I can post it. Having just gone through a missing pet episode, I know how you feel far too well. I’ll help any way I can.

April 25, 2012

Community Abounding

by at 10:47 am.

My Memere and Pepere

Hallo folks, sorry I’ve been absentia lately. It’s been a chaotic month or more, with the loss of my beloved Memere (aged 93), immediately followed by a very rough eight days where the new doggie we adopted ran away on her first day with us (wiggled right out of her harness, I will never forget the sight). We got her back a little over a week ago, thank goodness. For those on Facebook who followed the story, thank you all so much for your support and spreading the word - every little thing really helped. I almost posted the info on the blog…I went back and forth about whether to or not…but all ended very well.

Here’s a picture from the night we got her back, with her new big brother, our other dog Hector. Pauke (pronounced pow-ka with a German accent, it means “tympani,” singular) is a little 2-year-old, 10-lb (well, not any more, but we’ll get her back up to weight soon) miniature pinscher rescue from this hoarding situation out of Springfield. She is a sweet little girl, a bit shy and timid, but since her adventure on the streets of south Lowell, she has really bonded to us and I doubt very much we’ll have to worry about her running away ever again. I think she figured out that a roof over her head, adorable warm little clothes (she gets cold easily), two square meals a day and lots of scritches are better than scrounging food and water and shelter off the streets!

(PS if you think our little Pauke is adorable, there is another little min pin looking for a home via the same rescue group, All Dogs Rescue, called Lemon, she’s 5 lbs and very sweet, too.)

All right, off the subject of personal stuff, and on to the reason for this post…there are a couple of really cool things I saw that are happening in Lowell, community-wise, that I thought I would share.

First, there’s this really neat “Mill City Skill Share” event happening on Sunday, May 6th. I may not be able to participate this time around, but I’m hoping to see this take off and become a regular thing (so YOU should go participate!). The premise is so simple I’m not sure how it hasn’t already happened before! People with skills, from knitting, to making sushi (YUM!), to American Sign Language, to documentary film making are signed up to volunteer to teach members of the community. Members of the community sign up to learn! It’s that easy!

It’s happening all around downtown Lowell, at the Mogan Cultural Center as well as Lucy Larcom Park, St. Anne’s, and other locations.

I haven’t had the chance to meet the person/persons behind it but all I can say is, wicked good job and thanks for bringing it to Lowell!

The second thing I just sighted (Facebook is great for this stuff) is Saturday, May 12th -Lowell Give Back Day. Another great community idea. You can help with park and street cleanup, city gardening, cleaning canals, get your bike tuned up and go to the Community Gardens Greenhouse Plant Sale. I am hoping I can make it to one or more of the events listed here, so you might see me around!

Take the time to engage in your community, share a skill, participate in activities, or help clean up a park! Getting connected to your community has never been so easy. Just show up, bring a pair of gardening gloves, and pitch in! It’s very rewarding, especially when you look back at the area you just cleaned and think how much better it looks now that you’ve been there.

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