A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Samaha's - A Special Treat in Summer and Fall

Samaha's Country Farm Market is a Jersey Fresh produce stand located at 704 Lloyd Road, just south of Garden State Parkway Exit 117A in Aberdeen. They're open during the summer and fall, a great change of pace from the grocery store chains for fresh veggies and fruits.

They specialize in sweet corn, but also have wonderful fresh tomatoes, green beans, peaches, and egg plants, among other things. Soon it will be time for mums and pumpkins. They also sell an assortment of baked goods and condiments. Today I was particularly impressed with the bicolored eggplant cultivars Rosa Bianca and Prosperosa in stock.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blocked by Road-a-dendrons

Has the Wendy's restaurant off Route 35 in Cliffwood added some rhododendrons at their driveway on Amboy Avenue? I have nothing against the plants, except that I can't see traffic from either direction as I try to pull out of the parking lot. Nosing my car into traffic at that spot is really tricky, as vehicles come whipping around the corner from Route 35, are already moving at a significant clip from Keyport, and there are those trying to get into the mix from Shore Concourse across the way. Someone needs to think about moving those plants or getting some sharp pruning shears.

Familiarize Yourself with Philip Freneau's Poetry

Laurence B Holland discusses the poetry of Philip Freneau in a literary review found on pp 1-37 of The Literary Heritage of New Jersey, which is part of the New Jersey Historical Series published in the mid-1960s. For those interested in checking it out, the book can be found at the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library in the stacks under 974.9 H.

Freneau's important works include The Rising Glory of America (Holland discusses it on pp 10-11) and The American Village (Holland discusses the poem on pp 5-6, 11-16). If you want to read the actual poems, which I recommend, they can both be found in Poems of Freneau, edited with a critical introduction by Harry Hayden Clark. That book can also be found in the MAPL stacks, under 811 Fr. Rising Glory is found on pp 3-17 and Village on pp 213-225.

I won't attempt to review Freneau's works here. Both Holland and Clark can tell you a bit about the man and quite a bit about his writing. One thing I'll say is that Holland recommends reading Freneau's Village in comparison to Oliver Goldsmith's The Deserted Village. Goldsmith was lamenting the emptying of English villages as adventurers left the Old World for the New. Freneau's poem echoes Goldsmith's warning about the effects of commercial greed on the environment, the public welfare, and society at large. You can find Goldsmith's Village in Oliver Goldsmith: The Vicar of Wakefield and Other Writings, edited, with an introduction and notes, by Frederick W Hilles. Goldsmith's Village can be found on pp 477-489.

When I looked it up in the electronic card catalog, I found Hilles book designated as being in the "Classics section" at the MAPL. I didn't know where that was, so I asked at the desk. To find the book of Goldsmith poetry and other treasures, go upstairs, turn right and proceed past the CD collection all the way to the wall. Turn left but look at the books on your right as you go. Most will have very familiar titles. Note that the book is under G for Goldsmith, not H for the editor's name.

The classics, all with large, round red stickers on the edge, are books you read in school eons ago. Or ones that you always wanted to get around to reading but for some reason never did. Maybe a few of them were required reading but you took a less than academic short cut to complete an English class assignment? You might have even felt the urge to buy one of them off the classics display at Barnes & Noble. Resist the urge. Take one home for free from MAPL. If you can't muster the strength to read the whole thing, do like I do and cherry pick a section or two of a classic novel or one or two poems from a collection. Flip through the pages, look for the best parts, and leave the rest. Go ahead and sample some good writing. It just might grow on you. You can always return any classic you don't enjoy and get an entirely different one. No charge. Actually, you have to return it. . .

Anyway, back to Freneau. If you do nothing else, read the Indian tale buried in the middle of The American Village (pp 219-223 of Poems of Freneau). The story is so personal I can't believe that it doesn't reflect a personal loss in his life. Ah, but I've said too much already. Start three-quarters down the page, beginning with this introductory section:

But one sad story shall my Muse relate,
Full of paternal love, and full of fate;
Which when ev'n yet the northern shepherd hears,
It swells his breast, and bathes his face in tears,
Prompts the deep groan, and lifts the heaving sigh,
Or brings soft torrents from the female eye.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Open Congress and Permalinks

I received a reply to my suggestion about links at Open Congress. Apparently, if you have a free account at Open Congress, you can use a feature called Permalink to reference portions of a bill in a blog entry or email. I guess I'll have to get an account and try it out. The membership also allows you to leave comments on sections of the bill and give it the thumbs up or thumbs down.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Check Out Your Footing As Well As Your Shoes

NJ Transit has an interesting new poster in its train passenger safety series. "Don't Forget to Check Out Your Shoes" takes a classic approach, showing three women in skirts and high heels from some bygone era making the treacherous leap across the "gap" from train to platform. Nicely done.

I have to point out the strip of finished walnut or oak along the platform edge. That may be the most surreal part of the poster. I guess Public Relations couldn't be caught projecting to the public an image of what the real platforms look like? Let's just say there is no one out there to polish the trim. But it is fantasy art, so what the heck.

I slipped once while boarding an icy Amtrak train at Metropark. I didn't carelessly step into the gap. My rear leg went almost completely down the gap when my front foot slipped on an icy patch just inside the train car. I ended up with a nasty gash and significant bruising on my lower shin. The conductor was kind enough to bring me ice from the dining car to keep the bruising down. Just keep in mind that it isn't always stepping directly into the gap that is an issue. Be sure of your footing inside the train.

I enjoy the art and encourage NJ Transit to continue to promote safety consciousness.

A Katydid in the House

A katydid got into our house a few days ago and settled into our kitchen for a while. We had no idea what was making the noise, which sounded like someone clipping a fingernail about every ten or fifteen minutes inside the frame of our kitchen window. We jostled the curtains, checked the windows and floor, even took a peek into the potted plants. No luck.

He moved from the kitchen to the living room on Saturday and suddenly appeared while I was watching Monk and the UFO on Tivo last night. How appropriate is that? I put Monk on pause, got my camera and tried to get a decent photo of him. Again, no luck. Eventually I found a clear jar and a piece of thin card paper, captured him and took him outside. I set the jar out in the yard. Last I saw him, he was climbing around the rim of the jar.

My excitement for the evening.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Online Maps and GPS Devices Suffer from GIGO

Take a look at the map that shows where the Starbucks Corporation thinks its Matawan store is located. How does anyone find anything with the awful data in GPS systems these days? Check out one of my other blogs for articles in March 2009 and October 2008 on the subject. It seems that Mapquest finally corrected some of the bad map locations I mentioned back then, including the one for Sayrebrook Veterinary Hospital in Sayreville. It shouldn't take a year, though, so congratulations aren't necessarily in order. You'll note there is no way to get Starbucks to fix their map.

Health Care Reform Bill at Open Congress

Open Congress has the full text of America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (HR 3200) in case you want to actually read some or all of the House bill. People are leaving their comments on each section and subsection; you just click on Comments and you can read what people (and interest groups posing as users) are saying about what you are reading. The number of comments is indicated for each highlighted section.

For example, there are fifteen comments about Subtitle C Section 116 (a), which talks about keeping premiums low and preserving value for customers through the use of a medical loss ratio threshold that would compel insurers to provide rebates to customers if the ratios were exceeded. The comments were broadly negative, suggesting that the government ought not to discourage insurers from making a profit. There were several references to the government going socialist and/or being anti-business.

Keep in mind that lobbyists enter such online discussions to press their agendas. Not that all or even most of the comments fall into that category. But, then again, think about how many of you have posted comments to that site in the last week or so.

You can find out how to use the site here. They ask you to register if you want to leave comments. I wrote them with a suggestion that Open Congress provide links to portions of a bill, not just the main page of the bill. That would facilitate discussions in blogs. For example, I can direct you not only to Wikipedia's US Capitol article, but to its History section or its History subsection discussing the US Capitol during the War of 1812. At Open Congress, I don't seem to have that much flexibility. If I'm mistaken, let me know.

As for health care reform, I'm interested in getting non-emergency clients, usually the poor, out of emergency rooms. I'd like to be able to see a doctor when I've got a winter cold or flu instead of talking to his receptionist and getting an rx called into the pharmacy. I'd like my medical care tracked better by computer so I don't have to keep providing the same information over and over again when I seek medical care. And I'd like for everyone to be able to switch jobs and not worry about losing their health care.

I recognize that people are scared that the government is going to do something that will diminish their current level of care. Nothing has changed in the polls that show the population mistrustful of Congress, so why does President Obama leave Nancy Pelosi with so much discretion on major bills? I see her as Inside the Beltway business as usual. I voted for change, but not for that change to include passing the reins of power to an unpopular Congress.

Friday, August 21, 2009

An Extraordinary Lack of Independent Sources

I'm not particularly invested in this issue, but I need to point out that The Independent (ahem) helps the Borough Council to spin its version of the story regarding the upcoming property tax hike in Matawan when it fails to cover the story using a variety of sources and methods. It's such a modest tax increase that it might as well be a tax cut, the Independent seems to say. In fact, the Borough tells us most everything in the article.

According to the Borough, the Borough plans to use a recent state grant of $105k plus some undisclosed cost cutting and income generation ideas, to lower the budget shortfall that otherwise would have required a sharp hike in local property taxes. Somewhere in the middle of the article, the Borough deigns to admit there will be a modest tax hike, but by that time the Borough is done telling us what it wants us to know and readers are left with an inexplicably warm, fuzzy feeling about the upcoming tax hike.

The Independent then lets Mr. Garofalo wax eloquently about the concept of state aid distribution to communities with extraordinary circumstances. These places would otherwise have to invoke a sharp property tax hike, so it's only right that the state should send them aid. Isn't it? The paper also lets the Borough tell us it is content with the aid it managed to receive and happy there is such a program in the first place. They're on board with the State, even though Matawan received less than 1% of the proceeds of the aid.

Where are the independent sources to provide balance and perspective? What can we learn about why the aid was given out like it was? What can the Independent tell us about the largest aid recipients and what caused them to go begging for state aid in the first place? Those places seem pretty well off based on average income. Why is the state providing $1 million to Roseland? And $860k to Bound Brook? What caused them to get into such financial straits? Did they cut taxes recklessly and are now having to pay the piper? If Matawan's health plan caused problems for its budget, what broke the bank in these other jurisdictions to the tune of millions of dollars? Roseland is receiving ten times the Borough's aid amount.

Unless it wants to serve as a mouthpiece for its subjects, the Independent ought to look beyond Boro Hall for at least some of its answers in such an article. Likewise, the paper should provide a more balanced discussion of the Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District than this article, which consists of a series of quotes from the Superintendent of Schools and a school administrator, both paid by the district.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Keyport-Kid Photos at Flickr

Check out this slide show at Flickr. Keyport-Kid takes some really great portraits and seems to have a special connection with the Keyport Fire Department. Nice shots of Trinity Restaurant, Ye Cottage Inn, places around town of Keyport, Keyport harbor, and even out of town places like Camp Arrowhead. Some wonderful shots of musicians, lots of folks with tattoos, kids, classic vehicles of all sorts. Neat stuff. Thanks, Kid.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

News Updates as of 19 August 2009

  • According to the Restonian, Lou Ann Behan, an attorney in Reston, Virginia who is originally from Cliffwood Beach, has written a musical called "Over the Boardwalk" that premiered at the Belmar Summer Theatre last week. The story appears in APP, which also has six photos from the performance.
  • Allentown is annoyed that its extraordinary state aid is so utterly ordinary, according to Central Jersey.com. They applied for $150k and only got $30k, much lower than Matawan's paultry $105,000. For more on that, see my blog article from 9 August.
  • Matawan Regional High School graduate Erison Hurtault is running for Dominica in the 12th World Championships of Track and Field in Berlin, according to NewsTin, which links to an APP story. (APP had already archived this story, so I was unable to view it via Google, but I was able to see it via NewsTin for some reason.)
  • Inspired Installs of Matawan is looking for an experienced remodeling carpenter for work in Monmouth, Middlesex, and Union. See posting.
  • NJ Transit got me to work and home again on time today. And the air conditioning worked. Life is good.
  • Nasty thunderstorm here locally on Tuesday evening (last night). The national news mentioned trees down in Central Park in New York City, which is about 25 miles north of here. My yard had oak branches ripped from the trees and in piles. Some of the branches came complete with rather large acorns. Do the large acorns say something about the winter we can expect?

Sobriety Check Points Planned 21 August - 7 September

Aberdeen Township has a $6,000 state grant to conduct sobriety check points beginning this Friday and running through Labor Day weekend. Don't become a statistic this summer, whether that is getting a DWI charge against you or causing a serious accident while driving impaired. Be sure to have a plan: either pick a designated driver, take mass transit, hire a taxi, call a friend, or plan to stay overnight where you're drinking.

Do Teachers Need Education Degrees?

The editors of the New York Times have published an interesting piece that explores the issue of teacher promotions based on a teacher's achievements in higher education (master's degree in education) versus his/her achievements in the classroom (student performance on standardized tests). The article has a host of contributors offering their thoughts on the issue, which is linked to the Obama Administration's recent offer of $4 billion in federal aid to schools that agree to link teacher promotions to classroom performance.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Clarification on World War I Fallen from Matawan

According to the Matawan Journal of 6 December 1918, the Matawan Honor Roll listed 142 locals who served in the Armed Forces during World War I, including two who died for their country.

John Joseph Furey, of Oak Shades, was killed in action in France at the age of 23. (Source: The Matawan Journal and Matawan Advertiser, Index, Book V, 1909-1918, compiled by Joseph Douglas Alt, Dec 1996, p 29; 7 November 1918, p 3 col 3) John J Hourihan of Cliffwood died of pneuomia in France at the age of 25. (Source: The Matawan Journal and Matawan Advertiser, Index, Book V, 1909-1918, compiled by Joseph Douglas Alt, Dec 1996, p 39; 21 November 1918, p 1 col 3)

The Matawan Borough Council commissioned Councilman B E Eskesen to erect the original Matawan Honor Roll. W E Arrowhead allowed it to be placed on his vacant lot on Main Street next to Eigard's meat market. The monument was 20' long and 7' tall, with an additional 8' x 4' center section where it read Matawan Roll of Honor - 142. Old Glory flew from a staff in the center of the monument. According to the 6 December 1918 Matawan Journal, passersby in automobiles or wagons could read the large print from their vehicles as they went by.

See my previous blogs for the total list of the names appearing on the doughboy monument. I initially thought the list was a memorial to those who died, but research indicates that it instead honors those locals who served their country. Introduction, Column 1, Column 2, Column 3

Alt's Index to the Matawan Journal and Advertiser is available in the reference section of the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library in fourteen volumes: I (1869-1878), II (1879-1888), III (1889-1898), IV (1899-1908), V (1909-1918), VI (1919-1928), VII (1929-1938), VIII (1939-1946), IX (1947-1952), X (1953-1957), XI (1958-1961), XII (1962-1965), XIII (1966-1969), XIV (1970-1973)

The reference section also has a topical index to the Matawan Journal in twelve volumes.

Apartheid for Aliens

Check out A O Scott's review of District 9. It sounds like something beyond your usual alien flick. Here's a list of other reviews.

News Updates as of 16 August 2009

  • On 8 September 2009, local actress Kati Brower, founder of Local Commotion Walking Tours in 1993, will play a fictional character from the Plymouth Colony circa 1620, as part of the opening of this year's season of meetings of the Brick Township Historical Society. See the Brick Township Bulletin for details. Ms Brower has performed as a blues queen and in an undisclosed role at the dedication of the St James AME Zion Historical Cemetery in Matawan.
  • A Carteret pizzeria owes its start to a pizza shop in Matawan, according to MyCentralJersey.com. A good example of friends helping one another succeed in life.
  • K's Brain Freeze is a new ice cream parlor on Main Street in Matawan, per Tracy Gibson of Mostly Monmouth Real Estate. The business license was to be approved by Matawan Borough in June 2009, according to the Council agenda.
  • Bob Dylan dressed a bit too casual the other day and was grabbed up by the police in Long Branch, according to Sky.
  • Frank Pallone is hosting a town hall meeting on 25 August 2009 in the courtroom at Red Bank's borough hall, according to APP. Health care is to be the topic of the day. The APP article says seating for 100 will likely not nearly accommodate the expected crowds. Check out the article for details. You can also check the Congressman's web page for any additions or changes to available venues.
  • Support Monmouth Park's second annual fundraiser Nicholas Leather Heart2Heart Day at the Races on Sunday 16 August 2009. Proceeds support families with ill children. (see details in brochure below)

Monmouth County Fair 2009 - Entrance

Monmouth County Fair 2009 - Petting Zoo

Monmouth County Fair - Bunny House

Monmouth County Fair 2009 - Food and Rides

The fair had a great variety of food, drinks, amusements, and shows.

Monmouth County Fair 2009 - Antique Car Show

Monmouth County Fair 2009 - Pie Eating Contest

These are some shots of the pie eating contest. The winner is pictured in the last shot. I wonder if they gave him a pie to take home?