I needed to go to Cambridge recently, Somerville to be precise. The occasion was to be interviewed about the Max Fleischer animation studio for a documentary and the director and producer had chosen the historic Somerville Theater as the location.

Yes, I was very honored and humble for this opportunity.

Originally, I might have had to go to New York City. Easy, I thought. I take Amtrak from Springfield and then take a cab to my destination. A pastrami sandwich and a relaxing train ride was in my future.
That was not the case, though, and as soon as I was told Cambridge, I started to panic a bit.

I hate driving in Boston. Hate it, hate it, hate it. The uptight Protestants who founded the town didn’t have the same common sense as the Dutch and their descendants who created Manhattan, who liked the idea of a grid. Boston is a collection of cattle and sheep trails in comparison.

I gritted my teeth though and went a way I thought would make sense: the ’Pike to Worcester to I-495 to Route 2.

That was not smart.

Coming home I took Route 2 to I-95 to the ’Pike. Sweet mother of pearl! It was a parking lot rolling at 10 miles an hour.

The interview opportunity was well worth the agony of driving, but it underscored several thoughts I have.

We have too many people on the road and our highways, especially in highly developed metropolitan communities, are grossly inadequate.

Mass transit opportunities exist for some trips, such as going to New York, but they are not an offer in many situations.

The timing of the interview would have made using a bus difficult. This is not a criticism of buses, which I have taken in the past. And I was leery to take the MBTA from Worcester to get eventually to Somerville.
We need commuter rail to the western part of the state. Yes, I know there are doubters and critics and I know a huge investment is needed, but we need to re-think in this era of climate change how to structure transportation differently.

High speed rail is good enough for Europe. China has the largest network of high-speed rail in the world. Other nations have made it a priority for years.

Is the fossil fuel lobby and the automotive lobby in this country so strong that we can’t see how high-speed rail has been beneficial to millions of other people around the globe? Are people who call themselves fiscal conservatives so blind they cannot see this is an investment for our future?

High speed rail is like the electrification projects of the 1930s, when government made the decision to bring electricity to areas that didn’t have it. It was a way to level the playing field for many Americans for both their homes and their businesses.

I know there are current efforts to bring broadband to areas that do not have access to it, for the same exact reason.

People knew electricity would bring cultural and business shifts, just as the internet has done. Generally, I believe these changes have been for the good, and I hope you would agree.

High-speed rail would also level a playing field in many parts of the country. In this state, people could live in Western Massachusetts and work in Boston. Perhaps the population centers would shift a bit, providing more political equity.

Changing the transportation dynamics is something that would be generational. Some people oppose the ideas of high-speed rail because they can’t see using it. High-speed rail is an investment for your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


I generally only use the self-checkout lane in a store if I only have a few items. I still enjoy the notion of keeping people employed.

I just read though about an alarming trend: self-checkout registers asking customers who has bagged their own groceries, for example, to add a tip as much as 20%.

Apparently, the tips are then divided between the employees on that shift.

I’m happy to tip for good service. I worked as bartender and my wife was a waitress. I am not going to give a business more money for a service they used to perform.

How about this: if you use a self-check-out, you should get 10% off your purchase as a tip to yourself for using that service?

+ posts