Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More Neighborhood Comparison

My first Halloween in my new neighborhood, just north of Hamilton Park, was a disappointment. The first trick-or-treater showed up at 6:45--just a boy and his dad, not even wearing real costumes, just wigs. A little after 7pm, a pack of twelve kids, plus parents, swooped up the street and made a good dent in my candy supply. I wish I had put out more in the bowl for them, because that was all I got for trick-or-treaters. Heck, there was only one other house on the street with any decorations up, and most of the houses were doing a good job of looking empty. There's no Halloween spirit here.

By contrast, my old neighborhood, near downtown, full of drug dealers and prostitutes, had tons of kids out trick-or-treating. They started at dusk, with the youngest kids out mostly between 5 and 7, followed by increasingly older kids. The younger kids always had on great costumes. It was a lot of fun. I miss my old neighborhood. It was noisy and had serious traffic problems, but people were a lot friendlier there. (Okay, some of them were a bit too friendly... my neighbor came home one day to find a crackhead sleeping on his couch...).

Monday, October 30, 2006

Palace Marquee

The new marquee for the Palace Theater in Waterbury is being installed today, replacing the flat metal sign that has been up since they reopened (although there was one day this summer when I saw the metal sign being reinstalled, which seemed odd). The new sign has an electronic display on the sides for promoting upcoming events.

Palace Theater's website: palacetheaterct.com

11/10/06 - Here's another photo from about a week later; banners have been bolted to the sides of the building, and pine trees have been placed out front... here comes Christmas!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Library books

I checked a book out of the Silas Bronson library at the start of the month. I need to read the book for my next book club meeting in November, but so far I haven't even started reading it yet. I started reading something else first (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay), and I want to finish reading that before starting Paris to the Moon. I started getting panicky about the library book--it's due back on November 1st--and I don't want to pay two weeks' worth of overdue fees just to get it read before my club meeting. Luckily for me, I had a vague memory about online library book renewals. I went to the library website, logged in using my card number, and I was able to renew my book in a few seconds. Yay! Modern technology is great!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Waterbury Brew Fest

The Brass City Brew Fest was held yesterday in Library Park. There were 180 different types of beer, both domestic (including Connecticut) and international (Polish, Lithuanian, Russian, Chinese, Austrian, Belgian, and so on). Also good music, courtesy of Carnegie Clapp, and good food from several Waterbury restaurants.

I'm still learning how to use the camera in my new cell phone, so unfortunately these aren't the best-quality images.

The beer was served under the tents. The crowd tended to gravitate towards the sun, where it was warmer.

This is always one of my favorite things: a van with a tap on the side.

A good beer from China.

Another good beer; this one seems to be named after my cat, only he's more evil than saintly.

More crowds of people having a good time.

Clapp & Friends playing great music for the beer drinkers. I think the seats and tables were empty because it was so extremely cold out and they were in the shade.

At one point I saw someone pour a beer they didn't like onto the ground. My first reaction was annoyance (litterbug!), but then I decided it was a nice libation for the people buried there (little known fact: the area immediately in front and behind the library was the first cemetery for Waterbury; when they built the library in the 1890s, most of the burials were left in place, either because the coffins were too deteriorated to move or because there were no family members left willing to spend the money to relocate the remains).

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Chris Murphy

At the moment, I don't know much about Chris Murphy. I usually wait until closer to the election to do my research about who I will vote for. What I do know about Chris Murphy is that somebody really hates him. He must be doing well in the polls, making his opponants nervous. Twice a day, I receive recorded phone calls telling my that Chris Murphy has dark secrets suggesting that he might be a corrupt politician so don't vote for him.

I'm really really tired of getting called twice a day to hear recorded messages. At this point, I'm planning on voting for Murphy, just to get back at the harrassing phone calls.

Unsolicited political messages should be included on the "do not call" lists that block phone solicitations.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Waterbury Tax Collector

I received a mysterious and threatening letter in the mail today from the Waterbury Tax Collector's Office. It was a DEMAND NOTICE stating that I owe $10.37 in taxes, plus 31¢ interest, and that I had ten days in which to pay this bill or else the city would seize my vehicle. They sent the letter to my old address, and the time lapse for forwarding my mail seems to be about a week. So that means I have three days to hand over $10.68 if I want to keep my car.

The mystery is that I paid my taxes this summer. So I called up the tax collector to find out why I still owed $10.37 in taxes. I had a very difficult time getting a clear answer from the woman who answered the phone. She sounded like she didn't really understand what was going on either.

The tax bill I paid stated that it needed to be paid by July 1 and that it would be delinquent after August 1. Well, for one reason or another (probably because I moved in June), I didn't remember to pay it until August 16. I paid using a credit card. The city did not process the payment until the middle of September (which screwed up my budget calculations).

At first the woman in the tax collector's office said that the $10.37 was the late fee for August and September. When I suggested that it didn't seem fair to charge me a late fee for September, given that my payment arrived in August, she said that $5.70 was the interest they charge for credit card payments. When I pointed out that the bill stated that credit card fees were automatically taken out of my credit card, she said that the $10.37 was the late fee for July and August. At that point I gave up and did not ask why I was charged a late fee for July when the bill said delinquency didn't start until August 1.

I'm putting a check for the full amount in the mail today; it should arrive in their office tomorrow. I can't wait to see what happens next. If it takes them until some time in November to process the check, will they try to seize my car? or will they just send me another bill, this time with late fees for October and November?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More Pearl Lake Road

Alderman Arthur Denze has agreed to represent the residents of Pearl Lake Road in their fight against City Hall. Finally! Somebody willing to represent the people!

Sheila O'Malley, the mayor's chief of staff, was quoted by the Rep-Am as saying "Alderman Denze is entitled to put forward any resolution he sees fit, but the mayor has to concern himself with the safety and well-being of citizens who travel Pearl Lake Road. We will go forward with it because it needs to be done." This raises some questions for me.

Shouldn't the mayor also concern himself with the safety and well-being of citizens who LIVE on Pearl Lake Road?

WHO are these faceless citizens travelling the road? Why does the mayor care more about them than the citizens who live on the road?

Has anyone ever complained about the road being too dangerous? Have there been a lot of accidents caused by the road conditions?

I have driven on Pearl Lake Road many times, and as long as you obey the speed limit, there is no danger to the driver.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Maybe someone should fix it...

The downtown power grid blew up again last night. Sheesh! This seems to be happening more and more frequently. And this time the explosion caused a car to go up in flames. According to Jarjura (in the Republican-American), CL&P recently claimed that "all the power grids are in good order." And yet, following the last blow up on August 30, CL&P blamed the problem on the age of the power grid (it's 40 years old) and said that it would cost "millions and millions" to replace. "Millions and millions." Sounds to me like it needs replacing and they just don't want to do it. What if this had happened during Mardi Gros, when the downtown is packed with hundreds of little kids? This time a car was destroyed. Next time someone could get killed.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I used to live in a Waterbury neighborhood that scares most people. It has a high rate of unemployment, and a lot of police activity, because there are quite a few drug dealers, gun runners and prostitution.

I now live in a neighborhood that is mostly working class, with no sign of drug dealers, prostitutes or guns.

I lived in the "scary" neighborhood for two and half years. I never once had any trouble with my mail being stolen. Packages were delivered when I wasn't home and were left on the front porch. Sometimes I didn't realize the package was there for days. As far as I could tell, nobody ever considered stealing my stuff.

Yesterday a package was delivered to me in my new, "crime-free" neighborhood. I wasn't expecting it until today, so I didn't look for it last night. And, guess what? it was stolen. My downstairs neighbors saw the package and considered bringing it in for me, but didn't. This morning it was gone. On the bright side, Amazon.com's telephone representative in India assured me that my ordered will be redelivered on Monday, presumably at no extra charge.

At the moment, I'm feeling very charitable towards the drug dealers and prostitutes. Upscale society hates and fears them, but at least they respect other people's property.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Farmington Canal Greenway

One of my favorite things about living in Waterbury is that it's only a short drive to a linear park/greenway that starts in Cheshire. The trail was built along what was, at one point, the Farmington Canal and, at another point, the New Haven/Northampton Railway. It currently extends to Hamden, making it roughly 12 or 13 miles in length. Most of it is pretty much level, although the further south you go, the more hills there are.

As you can tell from the photo I took with my very old cell phone, it's a really nice trail, great for bicycles, rollerblades, jogging and walking. On the weekends and evenings, it's packed with people. It is wide enough for three or four bicycles, and is divided into two lanes, sometimes with a dirt path along the side for joggers.

Click here to visit the website for the trail.

I really hope they someday extend the trail its full length, all the way to New Haven. It would be even more amazing if they could build it all the way to Northampton, MA.

Target Acquired

As I was driving by Target today, I noticed that the parking lot was packed full of cars. The banner on the side of the store still says "Opening October 8," but according to what I overheard while I was there, it opened yesterday.

It's a pretty good store, much posher than the WalMart and not just because everything is all shiny and new. The goods are of a higher quality (for example, pajamas that are 100% cotton, instead of polyester (although they have those too)). There's a better selection, more variety, and more to choose from. They have a really nice selection of curtains, including a brand that is supposed to block out 99% of incoming light while also insulating against the cold. The grocery section is larger than WalMart's, although still small, and they don't have any craft supplies like yarn. The Halloween decorations were pretty uninspired, mostly just electric jack-o-lanterns (afterwards, I went to the shabby old K-Mart and found a really great pirate skeleton in a hanging cage -- it will look great on my porch).

Inside the Target there is a Starbucks (what does that bring us up to, three Starbucks in Waterbury? as opposed to maybe twelve or fifteen Dunkin' Donuts...) and a Pizza Hut Express (which is the only Pizza Hut in Waterbury).