Friday, July 28, 2006

Wonder Bread Thrift Shop

Wonder Bread Thrift Shop, Waterbury
The Wonder Bread Thrift Shop on Meriden Road closed a couple of years ago. Today they started tearing it down. I don't know who "they" is. It was kind of a nice building. A little art deco in design.

Meanwhile, the gas station next to the thrift shop building closed a few weeks ago. I think it was a small-scale family business. I don't know why they closed. Maybe because there are larger gas stations on either end of the street.

I wonder if there's any connection to the Academy of Driving moving to Watertown. The driving school used to keep its fleet of cars just up the street and used this little gas station to fuel all its cars. That had to be a pretty significant portion of the gas station's revenue. The driving school moved the fleet to Watertown, because the owner didn't want to keep paying Waterbury's high property taxes on its cars.

Country Club Neighborhood Association

The Country Club Neighborhood Association should be ashamed of themselves. They're still bitching and moaning because four retarded people are going to move into their neighborhood. Come on! If they made this kind of fuss about blacks or an ethnic group, they'd be sued.

They seem to think that one house with four retarded people will destroy property values in their neighborhood. Please! That's the most absurd thing I've ever heard. In fact, it's the sort of thing racist white people used to say when blacks moved into their neighborhood.

One woman complained that they don't know the names of the people moving into the house, so they can't check to see if they're on the sex offenders register. WHAT??? Since when does being retarded mean that you're a sex offender? (This raises another issue for me--being able to check a sex offenders registry gives people a false sense of security; John Regan was sexually assaulting women in his nice neighborhood for twenty years without being on the register.)

The Country Club Neighborhood Association is the most prejudiced group in Waterbury right now. Unfortunately, they've figured out that you can't make the sort of accusations that they made back in June, so they've changed their focus. Now the "only reason" they're upset is that they think the purchase of the house was done improperly, as an inside deal. They've got the state attorney looking into the case. This disgusts me even more than I already was. Where's the investigation into the Neighborhood Association's amoral prejudice? Why are they able to get away with being self-righteous bigots?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Lieberman & Lamont

I haven't decided who I would vote for, since I haven't read up on the candidates yet (and I'm not registered as a Democrat; I think I'm unaffiliated, so I can't vote anyway). Lieberman and Lamont both have campaign blogs, and Lamont has a campaign profile on myspace (there's a Lieberman profile too, but it's not "real").
Here are the links:

Not for walking

It seems like most of Waterbury is designed for cars, not pedestrians. Or, perhaps more accurately, the people in charge of the design and layout of city streets and sidewalks travel by car only. Every so often, I get it into my head that I want to ride my bicycle in town. I know I'm supposed to ride in the street in the same direction as traffic, but I don't trust drivers, especially since most of them tend to go 40+ in 25 mph zones. At one point I thought it would be safest to ride on the sidewalk, but that proved impossible. In the downtown area, the sidewalks are spacious and well-maintained, but everywhere else they're a nightmare. The potholes in the sidewalks are worse than the ones in the streets; weeds, trees and shrubs are overgrown and blocking maybe 10% of all the sidewalks; and then there are the telephone poles planted smack in the middle of the sidewalk. This is why you sometimes see people in wheelchairs and motorized chairs riding down the street--the sidewalks are unusable.

If you do find a street where there's a well-maintained, usable sidewalk, you still have the problem of walking alongside a road where traffic is racing by at top speeds. And there's no shade. For some reason, our city planners seem to hate shade trees. On the rare occasions when they do plant trees (like the ones on West Main Street near the 7-11, or the new ones on Grand Street), they're tiny little things that never grow taller than seven feet and have leaves that are so small it seems like they don't cast any shadow at all. If I could choose one thing to change about Waterbury, I would probably have shade trees lining every street. It would make the city so much more pleasant and would change its image in a positive way.

Here are some excerpts about old-time Waterbury from the National Magazine published in 1857:
"...its beautiful Centre square and its quiet shaded streets lined with handsome residences, presents an appearance quite unique for a manufacturing town."

"Do not look at the sidewalks; they will not bear inspection."

Even 150 years ago, the sidewalks in Waterbury weren't any good. I think there was a time period, between then and now, when they were well-maintained and designed for pedestrians, but now that "everyone" drives to wherever they're going, they've been neglected. Those of us who either want to or have to walk are out of luck. Bicycling works so long as you don't mind getting yelled at by passing drivers who think you shouldn't be in the road, and so long as you don't mind that there's no where to lock your bike if you go into a store.

Friday, July 21, 2006

New Addition

Calder, Giant Critter, 1976
Alexander Calder, Giant Critter, 1976

Here's the new Calder statue in the courtyard at the Mattatuck Museum. I LOVE this statue! It exudes joy and happiness. Everyone in Waterbury should go see it. (Go now!)

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I really loved this house on the corner of Johnson and Chestnut Streets. The fire was earlier this week (fire photo swiped from a friend's livejournal), and was probably caused by faulty wiring. All the residents were safely evacuated, and the owner has insurance, so I guess the main loss is architectural. I wish I had a better photo of it before the fire (pre-fire photo swiped from assessor's website), but the house still had its original wood decorative siding. Now it's going to end up covered in vinyl siding, like the light gray house next to it (which is its twin).

I really really hate vinyl siding (and aluminum, etc.) on old houses. The original wood siding on Victorian houses is usually very decorative and beautiful, while the modern siding is hopelessly generic, mimicking clapboard siding more typical of an entirely different style of architecture. There are some great WWI-era houses over near Washington Park that originally had stucco siding, but are now sheathed in vinyl and don't look anywhere near as cute as they did with the stucco. I know I'm a hopeless architecture geek, but when houses have their original siding (maintained), they look so much better than they do with modern siding added.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Too Hot!

At least it's not to humid as well. But it's still pushing 100, and probably more if you're baking in direct sun. This is the time of year when my favorite invention is the air conditioner.

Earlier this year, when it was cold and dark out, I posted photos of Waterbury in the summertime. Now that it's insanely hot out, here are some photos of when it was cold and snowy!

Thanksgiving Day, 2005 - dark, cold, snowy!

Old factory buildings on North Elm Street, December 4, 2005

Snowstorm on February 12, 2006. The long-haired cat stayed out in the snow longer than the others. The fur on the bottoms of his feet finally proved useful.

The Feb. 12 snowstorm dumped three feet on my driveway. By the time it finished coming down, I couldn't see my car.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

That was weird...

A huge thunderstorm just rolled by, making an incredible amount of noise. At one point the thunder was so loud I wondered if the building was going to get hit by lightning. But when I looked out the window, it was still sort of sunny, and there was no sign of rain.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Wifi Hotspots Redux

The Republican-American ran an article today about coffee shops with wifi access for customers. The article's writer, Tracy O'Shaughnessy, focused mainly on a place in Cheshire and a discussion of telecommuting in general. Tracy noted that Starbucks makes you pay for wifi, whereas the local coffee shops usually give you free access. She also listed a "sampling" of area wifi hotspots. The only one she listed in all of Waterbury was Brass City Buzz. She also listed one in Watertown, one in Southbury, one in Woodbury and one in North Haven. North Haven? I'm not even sure I know where that is. Somewhere north of New Haven, I suspect. She really should have listed more. John Bale on Grand Street in Waterbury. I've heard that the new (and very delicious) Pizza Cafe on West Main Street in Waterbury has public wifi. The Bronson library has wifi, but I don't know if they let the public use it. Most McDonald's have wifi, but like Starbucks, they make you pay to use it.

I'm not really sure what the purpose of the article was. Maybe it was just to let people who don't use wifi know that there are people who do. For people who want to know where they can go to get free wifi access, it was close to useless. A better article would have been one that has a comprehensive list of wifi hotspots, indicating which are free for customers, and reviewing the different coffee shops. That would have been a great article--or at least one I'd like to read!