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June 2009

Bye Bye, Mounted Police

When we marveled at the beautiful horses that carried the Boston Mounted Police at the Bunker Hill Day Parade on Sunday, we didn't realize it would be for the last time.

Police

Back in March, Police Commissioner Edward Davis announced budget cuts which included disbanding the Mounted Police Unit, which is the oldest in the country and provides daily community policing, crowd control and other services to the citizens of Boston.

There is a petition site with 2508 signatures, Facebook group with 3045 members, and patrons who have pledged over $200,000 in private funds to keep them from being disbanded and put up for adoption - none of it enough to secure the $600,000 needed to maintain them.

NPR ran a story this morning about a job fair for city workers that confirmed the unit will, indeed, be disbanded and their civilian caretakers (but not any of the police) will be laid off with them.

I feel terrible for the 550 humans that will lose their jobs this month, as well as the equine workers who have been so visible in the city for all the years I've lived here.



Bunker Hill Day Parade

Just came in from watching the Bunker Hill Day parade. For the uninitiated, Bunker Hill Day remembers the famous Battle of Bunker Hill, which was actually won by the British but is considered by many to be the point of no return for the Colonists in their fight for independence.

We stayed outside long enough for Lulu to get her much-desired photo with Mayor Menino, and then headed in to watch the rest of it from the warmth of our living room (where we got a lot of attention from some of the parade walkers, like my new friend, The Clown).
Menino Clown

The entire set:

Edward Abbey

My friend Dan posted a great quote on his blog recently, which I'd like to share. It's attributed to author and environmentalist Edward Abbey, and it goes like this:

Franconia One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.

As we head into the weekend, get outside and enjoy!

[Source: excerpted from a speech to environmentalists in Missoula, Montana in 1978 and in Colorado, which was published in High Country News in the 1970s or early 1980s under the title "Joy, Shipmates, Joy."]


Travelers

We found ourselves in the Minneapolis Airport last week, where I spotted this fantastic digital board from Travelers Insurance.

Travelers2

It's a series of tiny red umbrellas that can be mixed up via the touch screen, and then resolve to the larger, red umbrella logo. Play the video to see what I mean.

Very eye-catching. And for some reason it reminds me of that old school toy with the metal shavings, Fuzzy Face.

Not positive, but think it may be from these guys.


Spreading Ashes

"We didn't bury my brother - we cremated him."

That's the chilling, opening line of a great book I read last weekend, Spreading Ashes.

Spreading ashes Authored by my former Bowdoin classmate, Shaun Cooney, it tells the story of a 32-year-old-man who reluctantly backpacks across Europe to fulfill his older brother's dying wish. And, as he spreads his sibling's ashes along the way, he learns it is never too late to participate in life.

The story is so captivating and beautifully written, I could barely put it down. I did, in fact, finish it in a weekend. Despite opening with a death - which typically represents an ending -  it is the beginning of a journey that every armchair traveler can enjoy, with vivid descriptions of the people and places throughout France, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland, Scotland, Ireland and England. If you've ever traveled through Europe, it will bring back warm memories; if you haven't, you'll want to pack a bag tomorrow.

Beyond the travel experiences, you share the angst, worries, joys, and dreams of this man mourning his brother's absence...all conveyed in the most lyrical prose, like "the wind urged the the leaves to gossip" and "the racing cinema of a train window."

He describes the hustle & bustle of Florence this way: "It was the noise: the offensive whine of the streets that hit us like a blast of heat from an open oven. People chattered and yelled, horns wailed and yapped, trucks grunted and choked, and scooters buzzed and buzzed obnoxiously like runaway chainsaws."

And the cycles of the sun as a metaphor for life: "I contemplated the arc of the sun - a day. A lifetime. Awakening with the scarlet cheeks of a newborn, lightening to the rose-pink complexion of youth, paling beneath the heft of adulthood, chafing to redness along the descent to old age and death."

It's a heartwarming story, beautifully told. If nothing else, it'll leave you with a sense of wanderlust, a desire to experience "the most munificent and open-minded people on earth ... fellow travelers and compatriots abroad."