A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Siam Smiles - Lots of Good Choices

Siam Smiles on Route 34 South in Aberdeen has a dinner menu with over 65 authentic Thai dishes, appetizers, soups, and salads to choose from. Not to mention the nearly two dozen lunch selections.

Lest you find yourself in foreign territory when gazing upon their menu for the first time, here is a brief guide to the basic categories, as well as a sampling of individual items and prices. I've included the numbering you'll find in the dinner portion of their menu.

Appetizers (1 - 9)

Try one of their interesting appetizers, which run from $5.50 - $7.50. They include:
  • Mee Grob consists of shrimp, raisins, and scallion with tamarind sauce and crispy rice noodles topped with shredded omelette.
  • Satay is grilled marinated chicken or beef on a skewer that is served with peanut sauce and cucumber salad.
  • Vegetable Spring Roll, Shrimp and Scallop Dumpling, and Shrimp Roll are served with peach, soy vinagrette, and a special house green sauce, respectively.
Soup and Salad (10 - 18)

They serve a wide variety of soups and salads that run between $5.50 and $7.50.
  • Their soups include a choice of chicken or shrimp hot and sour soup with mushrooms, bell pepper, scallion, cilantro, lemongrass, and galanga. Glass Noodle Soup comes with ground pork, Asian vegetables, tofu, mushrooms, scallion and cilantro in clear broth.
  • Their salads include one with roasted duck tossed with shallot, carrots, green apples, pineapple, scallion, cashew nuts and Thai dressing. Their House Salad contains cucumbers, tomato, onions, carrot, tofu, and potato chips over lettuce with a peanut sauce dressing.
Main courses (19 - 66)

They have 7 recommended dishes (34 - 40). I recently enjoyed their Pad Panang Moo Tod, which consists of sauteed crispy fried pork with string beans, carrots, and lime leaves in their house special chili sauce for $12.50.

They serve five popular Thai curry dishes (29 - 33). You can pick from red, green, yellow, massaman, and panang curry with chicken, beef or pork at $11.50, or with shrimp or squid at a few dollars more.

They have a section labeled simply entrees (19 - 28) that, like the curry dishes above, have different prices based on the choice of meat. Prices range from $10.50 to $14.50. Pad Num Mun Hoy, for example, comes with your choice of meat sauteed with mushrooms and asparagus in an oyster sauce over white jasmine rice.

They have noodle or rice dishes (57 - 65) that are reasonably priced at between $8.50 and $9.50. My wife recently enjoyed Siam Noodle, which consists of sauteed thin rice noodles with chicken and shrimp, egg, onions, bell pepper, scallion, bean sprouts, and curry powder for $9.50.

Their shrimp, scallop, fish, and duck dishes (41- 56) are exotic but premium priced. Enjoy them on a special occasion if your budget is tight. Here are only a few of the many choices:
  • Pla Prew Wan is fish with tomato, cucumber, pineapple, onions, and scallion in sweet and sour sauce for $18.50.
  • Double Delight is sauteed shrimp and scallops with onions, bell pepper in Thai basil and chili for $17.00.
  • Scallop Curry is pan fried scallops topped with bamboo shoots, eggplant, bell pepper, basil in green curry paste and coconut milk for $17.00.
  • Ped Khing is duck served with ginger, celery, onions, scallion, mushrooms, and bell pepper for $18.50.
A vegetarian dish (66) includes vegetables with tofu with your choice of red or green curry; Thai basil and chili; garlic and black pepper sauce; or oyster sauce.

Siam Smiles is at 1016 Route 34 South. They are open Tuesday thru Thursday and Sunday til 9 pm and Friday and Saturday til 10 pm. They are open weekdays at 11:30 am and 3 pm on weekends. They are closed on Mondays.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Matawan Aberdeen Public Library - February 2010

The Matawan Aberdeen Public Library's weekly afternoon film series continues with Inglourious Basterds (1 Feb), Public Enemies (8 Feb), My Sister's Keeper (14 Feb), (500) Days of Summer (22 Feb), and Angels & Demons (28 Feb). Check times and set reminders at EventKeeper.

There will be Music for Black History Month on Wed 10 Feb at 7 pm. The event will feature the Al Wright Unit, with vocals by Ruth Wright, Greg Murphy on keyboard, and Al Wright on drums. The Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation describes them as having [h]armonious rhythms of jazz, be-bop, avant-guarde, blues, swing and progressive. One of the finest jazz bands anywhere, the Al Wright Unit truly lives up to its name. The group has performed in clubs, concert halls, and stadiums in London, Paris, Rome and Mexico City. They have also played at the Newport Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, and other clubs throughout the US. Red Bank.com also mentioned their performance last summer at the Dublin House. Register for this event and and set a reminder at EventKeeper. (Rutgers University is hosting a number of Black History Month events this month. Check their Media Relations site for more info.)

Celebrate the Chinese New Year at the library on Sat 20 Feb at 2 pm. Students from the Monmouth Chinese School will bring in the Year of the Tiger (4708) with an afternoon of dance and Chinese yo-yo performances. Register for this event and and set a reminder at EventKeeper. (NJPAC will be hosting two performances of the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company on 13-14 Feb, as well as a lion mask making event for parents and children in a registration-required event before the performance on 13 Feb.)

Check for other fun things to do at the library in February at EventKeeper. And be sure to set yourself a reminder and register for events that require it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Makes Me Wonder








Aberdeen's Middletown Origins

Aberdeen, like Matawan, Keyport, Union Beach, Keansburg, Highlands, Atlantic Highlands, and most other current municipalities in northern Monmouth County, was originally a part of Middletown Township. In the early 19th century, Middletown reached from the Middlesex County border on the west (present day Old Bridge; then it was South Amboy) to the Atlantic Ocean on the east, with Shrewsbury Township forming the southern border.

Above is the pertinent detail from an historic New Jersey state map available at Rutgers University's Mapmaker website, while below are several related entries from the Gazetteer of the State of New Jersey, by Thomas F. Gordon. Both items were originally published in 1834. The Gazetteer, reprinted in 1973, is available at the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library at NJ 974.903 Go. It is also available in a scanned version (with some OCR errors) at Internet Archive.

Middletown t-ship, Monmouth co., bounded N. by Raritan bay and Sandy Hook, E. by the Atlantic ocean, S. by Shrewsbury t-ship, and W. by South Amboy t-ship, Middlesex co. Centrally distant N.E. from Freehold 10 miles; greatest length E. and W. 16, breadth N. and S. 10 miles; area, 50, 000 acres; surface, on the east and centre, hilly, elsewhere, level; soil, loam, sand, and clay, not naturally of the first quality, but highly improved, in places, by the use of marl, which has become common. Sandy Hook bay runs south into the t-ship from the Raritan, and is bounded on the S. W. by the promontory of the highlands of Nevisink, and on the E. by the sand beach, forming Sandy Hook, running 6 miles north from Shrewsbury Inlet; upon the north point of which stands Sandy Hook Light-house. The t-ship is drained on the S. E., S. and S. W. by Swimming and Nevisink rivers; on the N. W. by Middletown creek ; N. by Waycake, and N. E. by Watson's and Shoal Harbour creeks. Middletown, Middletown Point, Baptisttown, or Holmdel and Mount Pleasant are villages, the two first post-towns, of the t-ship. Population in 1830, 5128. In 1832 the t-ship contained about 1000 taxables, 277 householders, whose ratables did not exceed $30; 169 single men, 27 stores, 5 saw mills, 13 run of stones for grinding grain, 1 fulling mill, 36 tan vats, 11 distilleries, 956 horses and mules, and 2286 neat cattle, above 3 years of age; and paid state and county taxes, $2620 20. Good lands will bring in this t-ship an average price of $60 the acre.

In 1682 Middletown contained about 100 families; several thousand acres had been collected for the town, and many thousand for out-plantations. John Browne, Richard Hartshorne, and Nicholas Davis, had well improved settlements here; and a court of sessions was holden twice or thrice a year, for Middletown, Piscataway and their jurisdictions.

Middletown, post-town of Middletown t-ship, Monmouth co., 13 miles N. E. from Freehold, 56 from Trenton, and 221 from W. C, situate in a rolling and fertile country, based on marl; contains an Episcopal, a Dutch Reformed, and a Baptist church, 2 stores, 2 taverns, and from 20 to 25 dwellings, among which, there are several very neat and commodious.

Middletown Point, port of delivery of Perth Amboy district, and post-town of Middletown t-ship, Monmouth co., upon Middletown creek, about 3 miles from the Raritan bay, 11 miles N. of Freehold, 47 N. E. from Trenton, and 213 from W. C; lies on a bank elevated about 50 feet above the stream, fronting a marsh on the opposite side; contains a Presbyterian church, from 75 to 100 dwellings, many of which are very good buildings, 8 or 10 stores, 4 taverns, and a grist mill. This is the market of an extensive country, and large quantities of pork, rye, corn, cord wood, and garden truck, are thence sent to New York. The soil immediately around the town is sandy. There is a bank here, incorporated in 1830, with a capital of $50,000, of which $10,000 only were paid in, in 1833.

Monday, January 25, 2010

News Updates as of 25 January 2010

  • Locals Maria Moya and Vincent Schifini competed for Kean University in pole vault at the Orange and Maroon Classic at Susquehanna University on 23 January 2010, the Cougars' first track and field match since early December 2009, according to Kean's athletic website.
  • Matawan Huskies (14-0, 6-0) clinched the Class A Central championship title in wrestling with their win over St John Vianney on 23 January 2010, according to APP.
  • Jets and Vikings lost this evening, putting them out of the running for the Super Bowl in Miami. Favre is pretty beat up. Instead, it will be the Colts vs Saints. (I've never forgiven the Colts for leaving Baltimore, so I guess I'm rooting for the Saints. They sure know how to pull a ball loose.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Testing Makes Race to the Top Unpalatable; Forced Scramble for Funds Makes It Undignified

Here are some more comments I found on Race to the Top, a White House funding offer that has some difficult strings attached. I wrote an article on this issue on Friday and thought further research was in order.

Ken Mondschein captures the essence of the problem with Race to the Top in his opinion piece in today's Faster Times.
  • Relatively speaking, there isn't much money in this program to be divided up across so many states, but what money is available will be pitifully scrambled for by districts in dire need of cash. "The method of deciding who gets the scant money—a total of $4 billion for the entire country, which is two-thirds of Chicago’s annual school budget, about a fifth of New York City’s, and about an eleventh of the federal Department of Education’s—is pure laissez-faire: The districts compete for the cash by sending in proposals saying just how they’ll get with the program. This is the same financial strategy that made cultural highlights such as “Bumfights” possible: The desperate promising anything for crusts of bread."
  • Education is becoming a cold-hearted business. "In a nation where profit is the highest good, education has become run like a business. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it—and so the intangibles of education have been reduced to what can be tested. If a child’s ability to read can’t be measured, then they might as well be illiterate—never mind what they’re reading, or if it expands their mind or helps them to see their world in a new way. Accordingly, teachers are forced to “teach to the test,” making kids into bubble-filling machines rather than thinkers."
  • Comparison of scores between poor urban and rich suburban school districts is based on ridiculous logic. Both teachers and students can expect to lose. "Failing districts can lose funding, making a hard job even more impossible; they may be required to spend more money that they don’t have on remedial programs; and schools can even be taken over and teachers can even be fired. Nothing in the bill, however, compels parents to put down the Doritos and make sure their kid does their math homework."
  •  Testing is harmful to students at the top and bottom of the educational spectrum. "Those who don’t test well are sacrificed for the good of the rest by being stuck in special-education classes, while bright students, rather than being challenged, are taught to pass the same mediocre test as everyone else."
  •  Testing is harmful to teachers, too. "[Teachers] are expected to pull up test scores without looking why they’re so low, such as teenage pregnancy, a lack of childcare, and parents who don’t give a damn about their children’s education. This gives not just an incentive for teachers to rig the test, but basically mandates that they cheat so that they can keep their jobs."
  • In the end, we all lose. "[B]oth liberal and conservative administrators have put their faith in ... outcome-based results, standardized tests, increasing Federal control, and the loss of autonomy for teachers."
The National Academies of Science say it is too early to be using student test scores to evaluate teachers' performance.

National Journal hosted a discussion about Race to the Top. Here are some of the discussion points I found interesting.

     Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association, says, "[T]he proposal to link student achievement data to teacher and principal evaluation misses the mark. A "Race to the Top" can quickly turn into a "Race to Judgment." I’ve explained to Secretary Duncan that educators have been burned by NCLB – where the results of one high-stakes test were used in a punitive manner. We’re concerned about the effectiveness and reliability of requiring states to link data on student achievement to individual teachers for the purpose of teacher and principal evaluation."

     Monty Neill, Deputy Director of Fair Test, says, "Is it fair to children to further narrow their education and encourage even more teaching to predominantly multiple-choice tests, as is now happening under "No Child Left Behind"? No – but that will be the primary consequence if federal "Race to the Top" guidelines link test scores to teacher and principal evaluations and create a new cycle of standardized tests. The guidelines say that tests should be a "significant factor" in teacher evaluations. "Significant" is not defined, but it is safe to assume it means weighty enough to affect educator behaviors, and hence intensify teaching to the test."

     Steve Peha, of Teaching that Makes Sense, says, "When I look at the Race to the Top from a Washington D.C. perspective, it looks bright and shiny and new – just what we need to kick recalcitrant states into high gear on ed reform. But when I look at it from a classroom or single school perspective, I ask, 'How’s all this new stuff gonna get done?'

     Take, for example, the criteria from the Great Teachers and Leaders section:
  1. PROVIDING ALTERNATIVE PATHWAYS FOR ASPIRING TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS. A fine idea in theory but it hasn’t worked out so well in practice. I can see some pretty poor programs being funded here.
  2. DIFFERENTIATING TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL EFFECTIVENESS BASED ON PERFORMANCE. This’ll take some union battling to be sure. And that takes time. How’s a state gonna work this out in time to meet grant application deadlines?
  3. ENSURING EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF EFFECTIVE TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS. This one requires that #2 get done first, then comes the hard part: involuntary transfers of effective teachers and principals to ineffective schools. That’s not exactly the reward most effective educators are looking for. And then there’s the problem of sending less effective educators involuntarily to more effective schools. I don’t think that’s gonna go over very well either.
  4. REPORTING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL PREPARATION PROGRAMS. This sounds smart. But the devil is in the details. How are we going to rate these programs in a way that would be useful to both the programs and their participants?
  5. PROVIDING EFFECTIVE SUPPORT TO TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS. This would be wonderful. But does anyone realize how much support 'effective' support is? Forget about the money. Most states don’t have the manpower to provide support that is truly effective.
      The more I study the Race to the Top, and really read the fine print, I’m starting to realize how ambitious it is. Ambition is good. But too much ambition causes people to do strange things – like take money for programs they’re not sure can actually be implemented."

The Daily Record in central Ohio shows that small districts are moving ahead with their Race to the Top submissions despite their teachers unions' unease with mandated testing, while larger districts see the writing on the wall and are not applying for the funds at all.

Those on the Matawan Aberdeen school board should realize that accepting this funding scheme will require expenditure of a significant portion of the "found money" on administration of the new tests, tests that will cause more wasted hours in test prep and more hours away from curriculum. We'll have no say in the tests the Feds want given. The tests are set to be ones given in Georgia. If we're not already giving those tests, once again we'll be measuring apples and oranges and wasting our time and money.

Honestly, forcing this scheme down teachers' throats for such little real gain is probably one of the least Machiavellian moves MARSD could make.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The ABCs of ABC Licensing

I got to wondering about liquor licenses today and a friend pointed me in the direction of Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Their website has a vast array of guides and forms for every conceivable situation. Want to have a wine festival? Or maybe just a wine seminar? They have application forms for these occasions. Want to make your own beer or wine? Forms for each. What if you're a liquor distributor and you want to let your customers taste the goods? Permit. And there's a separate application if you are an out-of-state supplier who wants to allow tastings. And if you sell liquor and want to store your records off premises, there's a form to fill out. Yikes!

I gravitated to the ABC Municipal Handbook. It has more than a few interesting items in it.  For example, did you realize ...
  • The upcoming census will play an important role in how many licenses can be issued? There is a cap on the number of licenses that can be issued to sell or distribute alcohol in a particular municipality. The town cannot issue a new retail consumption license until the total number of licenses is fewer than 1 for every 3,000 in population according to the previous census. Once the municipality can issue an additional license, it can call for bids or use a "traditional non-bidding method."
  • If you can get 15% of people who voted in the last election to sign a petition, you can arrange for a referendum to make Aberdeen a dry town? And if it passes, the town has to stay dry for at least five years.
  • If you arrange to sell your bar, you have to arrange separately to transfer the liquor license? But if the deal to sell the bar doesn't go through for some reason and you already transferred the license, you have to arrange separately to get the license back. There are fees for all of these transfers, of course. The municipality gets $200 every time you breathe, seems to me.
  • There's a special license for theaters and concert halls with capacities of 1,000 or more patrons. They can sell liquor during a performance and up to two hours before and after. Such a license doesn't count against your municipality's cap by population. The cap also doesn't apply to licenses held by hotels and motels with 100 or more guest sleeping rooms, nor must they count non-profit clubs that have been around at least three years and have 60 or more members. So the PNC Arts Center, Holiday Inn, and the VFW can have liquor licenses irrespective of census figures.
Maybe all this nonsense is why some restaurants go BYOB? Of course, BYOB has a lengthy entry in the handbook as well. Violate its rules and a restaurant owner is subject to disorderly conduct charges. You can be BYOB, but you can't advertise the fact. You can provide glasses, ice, etc, and uncork bottles, but you can't charge for these services. People can drink in your establishment but not during times when places with a valid license are restricted from selling liquor by local ordinance. And you can't make an arrangement with a distributor to deliver beer and wine to your BYOB restaurant as some sort of courtesy to your patrons.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cliffwood PTO Is More Than A Fundraising Auxiliary

I hear that the Cliffwood PTO is well ensconced at the Cliffwood Elementary School. The parents work as one with the teachers and administrators for the sake of the students. They are involved at the school in many ways, including fundraising. I'd hesitate to refer to them as a group dedicated to fundraising. I hope that is an outsider's misperception. The rockclimbing wall has been well received, but not because it is a $7,500 gift. It's well received because it demonstrates that the PTO is listening and collaborating. In this case, they worked hard to meet an expressed need. Way to go, PTO!

Brian Wecker Update

I received the following email today from Rob Esposito at Absolute Fitness NJ on the recent bone marrow donor drive at Maloney's Pub:

Thank You...

On behalf of the Absolute Fitness NJ and Brian Wecker, I would like to say thanks for coming out to support such a good cause.  Also wanted to update you that just after we held the drive they found a donor for Brian and he has had his transplant.  The outlook is very positive so keep him in your prayers. 

Be Well,
Rob Esposito

Absolute Fitness NJ
123 Main Street
Matawan, NJ  07747
Follow Us On

We Should Reject Federal School Funding with Onerous Strings Attached

The Independent provides multiple viewpoints on the controversial Race to the Top initiative. See what the President of the NJEA, our school superintendent, and a school board member each have to say about this federal initiative. This article is a welcome change from what I commented about last week.

I personally think the federal government is dangling large sums of money before cash-strapped states in an attempt to coerce broader compliance with federal policies of student testing. Unfortunately, no matter what the original intent, these tests have become an inaccurate measure of teacher performance within schools and a poor barometer of relative capability among schools. Testing distracts teachers and students from their curriculum, requiring X percentage of your child's school week to be spent on test prep. Tests are often modified year to year, so changes in test scores become meaningless because they measure different things.

When one compares test scores between schools, this mistakenly assumes that schools have matching student bodies when in fact some schools take in a higher percentage of special students but get no break on the testing averages that result.  This is similar to hospital ratings, where a fine cardiac care unit will drag down the hospital's heart operation survival rate because their highly qualified surgeons are getting more of the area's high-risk patients.

More testing is not in the best interest of our students. I hope the teachers union doesn't have to stand alone for our children's education simply because the White House is offering our state lots of money with strings attached.

Road Near MAMS to be Resurfaced in 2011

Aberdeen Township has announced that the State of New Jersey will be funding 77% ($218,000) of the cost of resurfacing Locust and Grove Streets, which together join Matawan Avenue to Cliffwood Avenue behind the Matawan Aberdeen Middle School in Cliffwood. The work will begin in the summer of 2011 and take up to two months to complete.

View Larger Map

MAMS Winter Concert - SRO

My wife and I attended the Winter Concert at the Matawan Aberdeen Middle School (MAMS) last night. Good job by one and all. Congratulations to the students, instructors, and administrators.

The auditorium met its capacity of 500, then additional parents and staff watched the performance from the doorways. Some folks simply sat along the windows outside the auditorium and listened. Students sat on the floor along the base of the stage. My wife found one of the last seats and I stood in a doorway and peered around the corner over a number of heads. I think this qualifies for SRO status - Standing Room Only. The school board should take note of how popular our instrumental music program is and treat it favorably at budget time.

Contributions were collected at the door for Haiti relief and have not yet been totaled. Donations will be sent to Doctors Without Borders. If for some reason you were unable to donate last night, you could try contacting Mr Wells at the school today to see if you might be able to add your donation to the school's gift, or you could simply contribute online using a credit or debit card.

NJ Supreme Court Upholds Judge's Sentence in Manslaughter Conviction

In a recent judgment, the NJ Supreme Court told the appellate courts in a 4-3 decision to stop second guessing the sentences meted out by lower court judges when they clearly fall within established guidelines. The case used for this purpose involved Cory Bieniek, a young local man who went on a drunken joyride through local streets of Old Bridge with two of his friends over the Christmas/New Year's holidays in December 2006, achieving speeds at times in excess of 100 MPH. The driver, whose alcohol level was .17, drank nearly half a case of beer and a vodka shot, and smoked marijuana, before striking and killing a young woman who happened to be pulling her car out of the family driveway. The impact, which pushed her vehicle 235 feet, sounded to family members like a terrorist explosion.

Facing a certain 40 years in prison if his case went to trial, the man accepted a generous plea arrangement that required him to serve a minimum of 15 years without parole, with a potential total for 18 years incarceration. The defense appealed what it called a harsh sentencing, asking for leniency due to his upbringing and inherited alcoholism, but the majority opinion of the Supreme Court said that the transcript of the case clearly showed that the judge had taken everything into consideration when forming the sentence and the appellate court decision was reversed.

See NJ.com, MyCentralJersey.com, and The Daily Record for reporting on the Supreme Court decision. See NJ.com for reporting on the original case and The Suburban for reporting on the grieving father's call for society to keep their friends and family from driving drunk.

The papers constantly refer to the driver as having been a resident of Cliffwood Beach, only one stating that he lived on the Aberdeen side of Whale Creek. My research suggests that he lived off Route 18 in Old Bridge. Can someone clarify in which township he lived?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

News Updates as of 21 January 2010

  • Someone on eBay is selling an old post card with a photograph of the inside of Matty's General Store on South Concourse in Cliffwood Beach. Currently the Krauser's store, Matty's was operated by Homer Matteson from 1925 to 1947. Many long time residents will remember the Burlew's store that occupied the spot for many years after Matty's sold the place. See my earlier posting on MAPL Resources on Cliffwood Beach for further information.
  • Donna Joy Alexander, of Cliffwood Beach, will represent Seton Hall University at conference championships after her recent performance for the SHU Pirates in the triple jump at the Penn State Northeast Challenge in College Park, Pennsylvania, according to the school's athletic website.
  • Holocene LLC, a renewable energy development firm, is establishing a presence in the greater New York City, Philadelphia, and Lehigh Valley metropolitan areas by opening a new northeast regional office with locations in Manhattan and Matawan, according to dBusinessNews.
  • A recent article in the Journal of Coastal Research dealing with beach morphology in Kenya cites a 1994 report on beach fill around the Cliffwood Beach seawall.
  • Another subscription-only article mentions Jared Allison and Rutgers University. 'Perception Change for Jersey Shore Athlete," by Brian Doan, says, in part:  "Matawan High athlete Jared Allison is hearing much more from Rutgers recently, and his appreciation and interest in the school changed after ..."
  • The new New Jersey Lieutenant Governor's brother-in-law lives in Matawan, according to The Courier-Post Online.
  • Caring With Karaoke, supporting the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, will be held at the Cue & Brew Billiards and Sports Bar in Matawan on 10 February at 7 pm, according to the News Transcript. The event will be hosted by the Young Professionals Group of the Greater Monmouth Chamber of Commerce.
  • The First Presbyterian Church of Matawan is assembling Gift of the Heart baby and hygiene kits to be shipped to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, according to the Brick Township Bulletin.
  • Matawan Huskies are close to capturing their first division championship title in wrestling. Check out this Asbury Park Press article for details.

International Medical Corps Seeks Donations for Haiti Relief Effort

Those looking for a way to make a donation to help the relief efforts in Haiti can check CNN's Impact Your World page, or CBS News' Haiti Quake: How to Help, where you will find a list of links to bona fide charities.

The International Medical Corps, which appears on both of the above lists, appealed to me directly to post information on how to donate $10 to them using your cellular phone. You simply text the word HAITI to telephone number 85944. You can also donate online using your credit card.

Read more about the history of this special organization and check out their slide show on their Haiti relief effort so far.

Here's a copy of their direct appeal:

Dear Pat

International Medical Corps is a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization, founded by volunteer doctors and nurses and dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through relief and development programs. Our emergency response team is in Haiti responding in force and I would like to ask for your help to get the word out to the readers of Aberdeen NJ Life. There are still thousands of patients seeking treatment of which approximately 80% are in need of surgery and are running out of time - especially with the tremendous aftershocks still devastating this country. The team is treating crush injuries, trauma, substantial wound care, shock and other critical cases with the few available supplies - And they're in it for the long haul.  I would love your help spreading the word by blogging or tweeting about IMC's rescue efforts. We've put up a blogger friendly widget here on our site:


With the widget it's really easy to let your readers know that donating $10 to help the people of Haiti is as simple as sending a text message of the word "haiti" to 85944. If you have any questions just let me know and I will do my best to help you out. If you are able to post the widget or tweet, I would appreciate it if you could send me the link.

Thanks so much,


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Delayed Hearing for NJ Judge Part of Usual Political Drama in DC

Over six months ago, President Barack Obama nominated US District Court Judge Joseph A Greenaway of New Jersey to the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, which has covered federal appeals since 1891 for the states of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania from its courtroom in Philadelphia. While watching C-SPAN2 today, I heard Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee, complain from the Senate floor that Greenaway and over a hundred others are experiencing unprecedented delays in having their nomination hearings scheduled, even though the roster of candidates contains no controversial figures. The ranking Republican member of the Judiciary Committee also rose to speak, mentioning a Republican favorite -- Beverly Martin -- who was nominated in the same press release with Judge Greenaway and is also being delayed. I'd call it business as usual, but business would suggest that they are getting something accomplished in Washington, and that would be incorrect.

A White House press release provides this biographical sketch of our favorite son seeking the Senate's nod:

Judge Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr., 51, has served as a U.S. District Court Judge in New Jersey for more than 12 years. Prior to being confirmed to the federal bench, he was an in-house general attorney at Johnson & Johnson for six years. Before that, Judge Greenaway served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Newark. As a federal prosecutor, Judge Greenaway spent four years in the Criminal Division and served for one year as Chief of the Narcotics Division.

After graduating from law school, Judge Greenaway spent a year working in private practice before clerking for Judge Vincent Broderick, a U.S. District Judge in the Southern District of New York. He then returned to private practice for two years as a litigation associate.

Judge Greenaway has received numerous awards recognizing his judicial excellence, including the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Award of Excellence, the Columbia College John Jay Award, and the Columbia University Medal of Excellence, among others.

Judge Greenaway is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School. At Harvard, he was the recipient of the Earl Warren Legal Scholarship and served as a member of the Harvard Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review.

Judge Greenaway was born in London and moved to New York, growing up in Harlem and the Northeast Bronx. He is married to Veronica Blake-Greenaway and has a son, Joseph, and a daughter, Samantha.

Monday, January 18, 2010

News Updates as of 18 January 2010

  • More Monmouth Musings says Vincent Solomeno of Hazlet is seeking the Democratic Party's nod to run this November for a seat as a Monmouth County Chosen Freeholder.
  • The Courier Post Online's Fish Head mentions a Matawan angler who caught some serious flounder and ling aboard the Jamaica II. (Mid-Atlantic Game & Fish says our local ling are actually red hake.)
  • Rutgers University's Scarlet Report mentions one of our Matawan Huskies star players is being courted for the Rutgers football team, according to a recent Google Alert. The visible blurb (without paying $50 for a Scarlet Report subscription) says "Cornerback Jared Allison of Matawan Regional said he was told one of the Rutgers assistant coaches would be by his school next week, and an offer could be ..."
  • George F Thomsen, of Cliffwood Beach (Old Bridge), passed away on Friday at 74 years of age. He served 50 years on his local fire department and was an Air Force veteran of the Korean War. You can pay your respects at Day Funeral Home in Keyport on Monday evening. See the APP obituary for further details.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Update on Area Restaurants as of mid-January 2010

The Asahi Japanese steak house looks like it is finally ready to open, filling the void left by the closing of Macaroni Grill on Route 35 in Holmdel. The lettering of their sign was lit red tonight. It looks like they've acquired a website (www.asahiholmdel.com) but it hasn't been activated yet.

The Zebu Forno is closed in Holmdel, irrespective of what they may say on their website. Someone told me a while back that the shopping center forced them to stop selling pizza, because it competed with the Italian restaurant in the corner. Maybe they just couldn't make a go of it without selling pizza?? Hoboken 411 indicates that the Hoboken branch of Zebu abandoned its franchise and became a Brooklyn Bread store recently. Freehold was still operational as of last month, as Santa visited in December and there was a New Year's Eve celebration, according to Twitter. And I don't see anything on Red Bank Green suggesting Zebu in their town has closed. What's going on with the Zebu franchise? Does anyone know what business will take their place in Holmdel?

The Subway restaurant near the CVS at Morristown Road and Cliffwood Avenue is still closed. The Subway in the Dunkin Donuts shopping center on Route 35 N next to Friendly's in Hazlet is also gone. Where is the nearest Quiznos or Subway now?

The Lovely Bones

I saw The Lovely Bones this evening at Hazlet Multiplex. I enjoyed the movie for what it emphasized about life and death. In retrospect, I'd have to say that the trailer led me to believe I was going to see another film entirely. My expectations for another plot to develop, a more supernatural storyline, left me having to adjust my thinking throughout the film. The visualizations of a midway point between heaven and Earth were most remarkable.

My HDTV Odyssey Continues

I mentioned over a week ago in a blog article here that I was endeavoring to get my new HD television and Tivo operating. They are still not married up in harmonious bliss. I've had half a dozen visits from Cablevision technicians and the service is still not working properly.

I can tell from the conversations I've overheard between the technicians and the main office that their readings in the home office say my system is working fine, while the technicians are getting different readings in my house and seeing clear evidence of a problem. 

The problem since the beginning has been a little black box that Cablevision installs to regulate premium channels. This Cisco tuning adapter (pictured above, sitting atop a Tivo device) doesn't communicate properly with the cable card they installed in my Tivo device, and the two in concert keep disallowing certain HD channels like HBO from appearing on my screen. They also interfere with my other channels from time to time, like some sort of gremlin terrorists. Sometimes I get BIG LETTERED NOTICES across my screen that say I should contact my cable company about a cable card issue, then the show freezes or the screen turns gray. If you leave it long enough, it will recycle through the steps. Other times the screen is simply gray, or, better yet, the remote skips over the "offending" channels. I keep reminding myself that it isn't my tv's fault -- and that keeps me from throwing things at it.

I sense that the Cablevision folks are getting frustrated at how long this is taking to fix. I was tossed into the category of special cases today. The lady promptly started asking about the Tivo device, like it was the one misbehaving here. That little song and dance is going nowhere with me.

So, my march into technological nirvana has instead been utterly nervewracking. This isn't the way it is supposed to go, is it? I had hoped that by waiting a couple of years, most of the kinks of being on the cutting edge of HD technology would have been cleared up. I had expected to walk into the future with a smile on my face and an HD remote in my hand. Alas, it hasn't come to pass yet. They're planning to try again on Monday.

Aberdeen Township eBulletins and Code Red Notification System

Be sure to sign up for eBulletins from Aberdeen Township. They will send you emails notifying you of updates to the Township's website, including the posting of their latest Council agendas, meeting minutes, upcoming community events, press releases, etc. It's a great way to keep up with what's going on in town, as well as the first step towards getting involved in your community. All residents should take advantage of this service.

You'll also want to register for Code Red, an emergency notification system that allows the Township to reach out to residents en masse in case of natural disaster or other contingencies. Click the icon on the left to sign up.

Friday, January 15, 2010

H1N1 Vaccine in Monmouth County, Two Saturdays in January

The Monmouth County Health Department will hold general H1N1 vaccine clinics from 4 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 12, 19 and 26 at the Health Department’s main office at 3435 Highway 9 North. Residents who reside in towns that are members of the county Health Department may make a clinic appointment by calling 732-431-7456.

The Monmouth County Health Department also will be conducting several school-based clinics in the next few weeks. Residents who reside in towns that are members of the county Health Department may attend these clinics, too. Clinics open to the public are:

01/16/10     10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
                   Millstone Primary School, 18 Schoolhouse Road, Millstone

01/30/2010  9 a.m. to 11 a.m. (Howell students only)     11 a.m. to 3 p.m.    (students and public)
                    Howell Memorial Middle School, 485 Adelphia Road, Freehold

The vaccine at all of these clincs will be available at no charge in both the injectable and flu mist forms. Thimerisol-free vaccine will be available as well.

Individuals living in towns covered by the county’s Health Department are eligible to participate in these clinics. Member towns are: Aberdeen, Allentown, Asbury Park, Atlantic Highlands, Avon, Belmar, Bradley Beach, Englishtown, Farmingdale, Hazlet, Howell, Lake Como, Manasquan, Marlboro, Matawan, Millstone, Neptune Township, Neptune City, Oceanport, Ocean Grove, Roosevelt and Union Beach.

Clinic participants will be screened by a registered nurse regarding risk factors and educated about the vaccine. A parent or guardian must sign a vaccine consent form for children under 18 years of age. Additionally, children less than 10 years of age will require two doses of the vaccine, which should be given approximately one month apart.

The county Health Department encourages all residents to get an H1N1 vaccine. If your town does not participate in the county Health Department, contact your local health department or town hall for information about H1N1 clinics available to residents of your community.

Earthquake In Haiti - What Can You Do To Help?

Check out the local Red Cross disaster team's website for a long list of things you can do in response to the earthquake in Haiti. While volunteers don't typically go overseas to such events, you should consider joining the Jersey Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross so you can get trained to help in future US disasters. When there is a house fire in Monmouth or Ocean County and a family is on the street, the Red Cross DAT Team is there to get them a safe place to stay and something to eat. In the case of the humanitarian relief effort in Haiti, the volunteer effort in our area tends to focus on helping families with relatives and friends in Haiti, mostly in Asbury Park and Neptune, get information on their loved ones.

The First Presbyterian Church's blog site has been producing a number of articles on Haiti.

The White House website is also a great place to get information. Here is a video clip of President Obama in yesterday's news conference on the US response to the earthquake.  

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Letter from Councilman Greg Cannon

I am pleased to share the following email I received yesterday afternoon from one of our new Aberdeen Township Councilmen. He invites us all to be in touch as he serves the community.

Dear Pat,

As you know, I officially took the oath of office and began my term as a member of the Aberdeen Township Council on January 1, 2010. I now find myself in the honored position of serving the residents of Aberdeen and helping shape the future of our community. During my campaign last year, I visited every neighborhood in Aberdeen and promised to enhance the openness, efficiency and responsiveness of our local government if I was elected. Now, as a Councilman, the first step in achieving these goals is to make myself both available and accessible to my fellow residents. In that vein, I am aware of your blog, Aberdeen NJ Life, which appears to be read by a significant number of Aberdeen residents. Accordingly, I write to provide you with my contact information and request that you post this e-mail to your blog, so that your readers may be provided with the ability to contact me directly. My e-mail address is Gregory.Cannon@AberdeenNJ.org and my phone number is (732) 696-2623.

Thank you in advance and I am honored to be your elected representative.


Greg Cannon
Councilman, Aberdeen Township

What Are They Serving Up Down the Rabbit Hole?

Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.  (Thomas Carlyle)

Over this first year of my blog's existence, I've come to realize that local pols can often spin to the media whatever stories they find politically useful. The local press -- namely the writers at The Independent and The Asbury Park Press -- are often like servers in an Army mess, standing by Cook's steaming vat of nondescript food, large spoons at the ready, ever prepared to dish out to their readers whatever Cook has produced for the day. I'm sorry. That's a company newsletter, not a newspaper, friends.

I bring this up because I failed to point out in my previous update that the APP Race to the Top article clearly cites Cook -- I mean Mr O'Malley -- speaking on behalf of both the school board and the teachers union. Does anyone else besides me feel that it isn't his role to present the teachers' position? To be sure, maybe the paper ran with information he provided for background as a courtesy and he's just as surprised as I am that he is cited this way by APP?

The "glass half full" argument would be that the local media is only seeking to present alternate perspectives.  But isn't it a no-brainer that journalists shouldn't cite one public official on both sides of any story?  (Don' t make me dig out that graphic I handmade a few weeks ago of the Slippery Slope.)

Our local school students may somehow get to the top despite all the bickering and scheming, but the race to good journalism long ago headed down the rabbit hole around here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

News Updates as of 12 January 2010

  • The South Amboy train station has had a major renovation. If it's been a while since you've been by, you'll be amazed at the wonderful new station and well appointed parking lot. The Suburban recently featured a story on this $46 million project. NJ Transit also issued a press release.
  • The Matawan Student Enrichment Program (MSEP) will be offering new computer and art classes for youngsters on Saturdays, according to The Independent. The Spring 2010 session begins 6 February. The deadline for registration is 27 January.
  • We visited Maloney's Pub this weekend to sign up for the DKMS Americas bone marrow registry on behalf of Brian Wecker, Jr. I was glad to see the place was full, partly because of the registration drive, but also because of the Jets wild card playoff game. Brian's father lives and works in Old Bridge. Wednesdays are karaoke night at Maloney's, in case you're feeling full of song. (Maloney's website is no longer active for some reason, so I've removed it from the listings on the right. Someone kindly let me know if and when Maloney's restores its website and I'll put it back.)
  • We can all sigh a sigh of relief that Ed Burlew isn't a Cliffwood Beach resident. He's been thoroughly tested and found to be from Keyport. Oddly, Bolte had his her (oops!) mother file a formal complaint back in July that Burlew actually lives in his late mother's house and not in Keyport. Burlew has sworn that he lives in Keyport and the county is satisfied. Oh, but wait! Christian Bolte has launched a last minute petition drive to have the authorities determine for a third time where Burlew really lives.  Somehow 1 Corinthians:13 comes to mind.
  • Check out APP's Signups and Tryouts page for sports team registration opportunities. Amazing that it's so cold and blustery outside yet we are already facing deadlines for spring sports signups.
  • The Matawan Aberdeen School Board and the district's teachers are starting to draw lines in the sand as tensions mount between them. Race to the Top is an ironic name for a program that the district and its teachers cannot agree upon. I predict a strike if relations don't improve.

Monday, January 11, 2010

News Updates as of 11 January 2010

  • Arcadian Chorale is seeking an accompanist for an immediate opening, per Chorale Net. See the Chorale's calendar for a schedule of upcoming events.
  • Fresh Air Fund still has some openings for its March 2010 NYC Half-Marathon. My contact from FAF wrote on 7 January, "I have updated information on the NYC Half Marathon.  The NYC lottery closed last night and winners were announced today.  The FAF team still has spots available and think interested runners will start researching teams to join if they didn't win a coveted lottery spot."
  • Rayriepl has posted some interesting photos of the Raritan Bay's frozen coastline at Cliffwood Beach, as well as icy shots of Whale Creek on his Flickr site.
  • Local ecobusiness B Green Innovations has absorbed its parent company, iVoice Technology, and established a new market trading symbol, (OTCBB:BGNN), according to Fox Business.
  • Matawan woman, 51, may be charged with filing a false police report after claiming last July that she was raped in the Point Pleasant jail while being held on disorderly conduct, according to APP.
  • Atlanticville is running an article on the origins of many Monmouth County town names that contains this bit of local history. Check out the whole article for interesting details about other area towns.
Matawan and Aberdeen were part of Middletown. Matawan means where two rivers come together in Lenape. Its Native American name was “Mechananienk.” The Dutch settlers and Indian tribe name on a 1656 map was “Matovancons.”
The English granted land to Jonathan Holmes in 1677. In 1684 Gen. Thomas Rudyard purchased land in the Cliffwood and Cliffwood Beach area. It became Warne’s Neck after the 1686 land grant to Stephen Warne.
Many streets and places are named after Philip Morin Freneau, the Poet of the Revolutionary War. He was classmates with President James Madison at Princeton University.
Rose Street and Rose Hill Cemetery were named after Joseph Rose in the Cliffwood section.
The Burrowes Mansion was built by John Bowne in 1723, who sold it to the merchant John Burrowes. Burrowes’ partners were the Imlays and the Hartshornes. Other land was owned by the Conovers, Terhunes, Longstreets, Stillwells and Herberts. Large-tract landowners were the Van Pelts, Van Brackles, John Bowne and John Reid.
In 1895 Matawan separated from Matawan Township.
Aberdeen Township broke away from Matawan Township in 1977. A section of Aberdeen is named after Freneau.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A New Triumvirate of Trimming and Tending

Matawan, Aberdeen, and Keyport are reportedly forming a committee to coordinate municipal services like grass cutting, landscaping, and snow removal, according to APP. Hopefully that will save some budget dollars and so encourage our local leaders to find yet more ways to consolidate services as time goes along. If you'll remember, an effort at the state level last year to force the consolidation of boroughs with the doughnut townships surrounding them received a rather cool reception and was expected to be pigeonholed by the incoming governor.

Frankly, I am happy to see any movement at all and offer kudos to the incoming administrations if what I read is true. Of course I don't expect the pols will ever consolidate municipalities to such an extent that fewer Council seats become available. Let's not get carried away.

Hole in the Wall

Dan's Garage of Obscure 60's Gems recently included a blurb and a photo of a 45 rpm record by Matawan's Hole in the Wall, a group he says originated as Jay Walker & The Pedestrians. Ken Cama, the bass guitarist in The Cameos, used to play for Hole in the Wall and Jay Walker & the Pedestrians. Susan Hamburger's Cheryl Dilcher blog memorializes her thoughts about Dilcher, a singer-songwriter-musician, but she also mentions the band and its producer, Johnny Dee. Soul Garage has a collection of songs you can listen to online or even download. The set includes Hole in the Wall's Bring It on Home to Me, produced on Epic Records. (The song starts about 20-25% of the way through the audio recording, if you are looking for it. The songs are in the order they appear in Soul Garage's description.)

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Bumpy Journey Into High Definition

We got a new HD TV for Christmas! I'm so happy. Well, I was happy until I realized that I had to replace my new Tivo dual tuner with a $500 HD-friendly Tivo device to handle the signal. And now that pricy new Tivo HDXL has an issue. I'm curious if anyone else has had this experience as well. When I pause a show, click the Tivo button, then return to Live TV, I hear a rapid machine gun rat-a-tat-a-tat sound from the tv speakers until I hit Play on the Tivo remote. Tivo technical support told me they'd never seen/heard this problem before and suggested I exchange it. After all, this little glitch might only be the beginning of woes. So I gave up all of the channel set up and wireless networking and Season Passing I'd done for the past two days and returned the box to Best Buy. After it is all said and done, though, the new one does the very same thing. So, is this a glitch in the programming of all these devices and there will be a general recall? Or am I just unlucky in my choice of boxes off the shelf? Maybe my two Tivos were made by Oscar the Grouch's angry uncle? I'm ever so confident that Cablevision and Tivo will take care of my issue, no matter how long it takes. After all, this has been the only drawback (so far) to my move into high definition television. I'm excited to be joining my neighbors who have those bigscreen tv glows radiating through their living room curtains in the evening.

Let me talk a bit about my Cablevision experience. I have to say that Cablevision's customer support and installers have been polite and efficient and I've only had to wait a day or two for appointments.  We'll be having our third visit from a technician, though, so it might be turning into too much of a good thing. The second visit was the installers fault -- he didn't give us a tuner adapter that Tivo required as part of the set up, so he had to come back. Now he has to come back to validate that tuner adapter because we got a new Tivo. I'm sure he'll be as excited to return as I will be to see him again.

Cablevision's phone system took me on a merry chase the other day, putting me into an insidious loop of entering my phone number and choosing whether or not to listen once again to the HGTV/Food Network explanation, only to be asked again to enter my phone number.

I'm not quite sure why the Cablevision phone system can recognize my phone number and still not know that I have an account with them. In another city, Time Warner recognized its callers and directed them accordingly.

It would be helpful if the phone system offered the address and phone of our nearby Optimum store. We needed the address for our GPS to locate the store, so we had to go home and use our PC because 411 Information had no record of the address of the store and Cablevision's phone system provides no choice to get the store's address.

The current battle between Cablevision and HGTV/Food Network is wearing on my nerves. I can't decide whom I hate more when I hear their partisan public notices. They remind me of last fall's electioneering. I hope they don't expect to visit or kiss my baby. I guess I'll support Cablevision in this struggle for now, as they say they want to keep my rates from going up. (It's never phased them in the past, so I'm not sure that is a campaign promise or just an outright lie.) They are claiming that a $20 million bounce in the annual contract for these two networks is in the offing.

Hopefully we'll be speeding down the HD highway by Sunday afternoon.