Snowpocalypse 2012

I took this behind the Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church in Danvers less than an hour ago. Send in the sled dogs!

Brown Christmas

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Bradley Palmer State Park, Christmas Day, 2011.

Winter storage

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Sailboats on the Beverly side of the Salem-Beverly Bridge, December 18, about 10 p.m.

Danvers remembers 9/11

If you’re on the North Shore this weekend, I hope you’ll consider attending a program at the Peabody Institute Library in Danvers called “9/11 Ten Years Later: A Decade of Change for American Culture.”

The program, to be held Sunday at 2 p.m., will be moderated by Town Manager Wayne Marquis and will feature Danvers Police Chief Neil Oullette and Endicott College professors Amy Damico and Sara Quay, the editors of “September 11 in Popular Culture: A Guide.” I’ll be talking about how the media have changed over the past decade, for better and for worse.

You can find out more information about the event here. And here is an essay I wrote for the Boston Phoenix’s issue of Sept. 13, 2001. I haven’t re-read it yet, so I have no idea how well it’s held up.

A North Shore view of Irene

Fallen branch by the side of Route 127 in Beverly. Click on image for more photos.

Even though we weren’t hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene on the North Shore, I thought it would be fun to drive around and take some pictures this afternoon. Nothing too dramatic. I started in Danvers and made my way to Beverly, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Magnolia before heading home.

The ocean off the coast in Manchester and Magnolia was by far the most visually interesting. Just slightly inland there was little wind. But by the shore it was still strong, as seagulls literally flew in place against the air currents.

I shot some video, too, but since it wasn’t as good as this, I decided not to post it.

Election Night in Danvers

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Right after supper, Mrs. Media Nation, Media Nation Jr. and I headed over to the Holten Richmond Middle School in Danvers to cast our ballots in the 2010 election. It was a proud moment — this was our son’s first time voting, so we are now officially a three-voter household. Next time there should be four of us.

There are eight precincts in Danvers, and Precints 1 and 2 vote at the Holten Richmond. I was the 1,233rd person in Precinct 1 today. Given that the polls would close in a little more than an hour, that didn’t strike me as particularly high. Nor was there any line when we came in.

After voting, I took a couple of photos of the stalwart volunteers who had set up on the edge of Plains Park so they could wave to passing motorists. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. And, pretty soon, we should have some results.

A key legislative race between two good candidates

Ted Speliotis

If there’s a bellwether district in the Massachusetts House this fall, it may be the one in which Media Nation is located. We have a hot race here that is something of a throwback. That is, it pits two good, experienced candidates against each other. Each is genuinely more interested in serving the people of his district than in making any sort of stark ideological appeal.

The district, which comprises Danvers, Topsfield and part of Peabody, is currently represented by Ted Speliotis, a Democrat. His Republican challenger is Dan Bennett, a Danvers selectman. I know Speliotis better than Bennett, though I have met Bennett as well. Speliotis’ liberal views better reflect my own, yet I like Bennett’s emphasis on reforming the culture of patronage and cronyism on Beacon Hill. I’m perfectly comfortable with either man representing me in the Legislature.

Salem News reporter Ethan Forman recently wrote excellent profiles of both Speliotis and Bennett. Forman points out an inconsistency in Bennett’s positions: Bennett opposes new taxes, yet voted for local-option taxes on meals and hotel rooms when given the opportunity. (Forman also wrote a follow-up on where they stand on a variety of issues.)

Dan Bennett

I’m going to give Bennett a pass. Why? On his website, Bennett discusses some real savings the state could see by consolidating state agencies, reforming health insurance for municipal employees and opening up public-construction projects to competition (he doesn’t use the term “non-union,” but that’s what he means). No doubt Bennett believes higher local taxes would be unnecessary if the state got its own spending under control, and he may be right.

I can’t find a website for Speliotis other than his official state profile. But I know he has cast courageous votes in our rather conservative district in favor of same-sex marriage and against the death penalty. He has worked tirelessly to help folks affected by the 2006 explosion in Danversport. And he’s everywhere — he always comes to our Boy Scout troop’s courts of honor to present Statehouse proclamations to our new Eagles. If you think that’s no big deal, you’re wrong.

If the war of the lawn signs is any indication, I think Bennett might pull this out. The signs are fairly mixed in Danvers, where both candidates live, but almost unanimous for Bennett in affluent Topsfield. Peabody, where Speliotis grew up, will likely prove the key.

I’ve suggested to a couple of my friends in the political press that this race would be worth a story. It’s well below radar, especially given exciting gubernatorial and congressional races. Come Election Day, though, it may prove to be just as significant.

Tierney troubles may give jolt to Hudak

Incredible political news from the North Shore tonight. Patrice Tierney, the wife of U.S. Rep. John Tierney, D-Salem, will plead guilty to federal tax charges in U.S. District Court tomorrow. According to the Boston Globe, the charges involve her management of $7 million in illicit gambling profits earned by her brother, Robert Eremian.

Could this give a life to the longshot campaign of extremist Republican candidate William Hudak, a Boxford lawyer who has flirted with the birther movement?

Via Garrett Quinn.

Chapel* at Gordon-Conwell

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I just got back from a 20-mile bike ride in the humid North Shore air. My route took me past Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Wenham, which I had never seen, even though I’ve driven by it many times. So I explored the grounds and got this shot with my BlackBerry of the chapel (which is at the summit of a rather brutal hill). It would have made for a better picture if the cars weren’t there.

*Correction: A friend who attended Gordon-Conwell tells me that the chapel is actually behind this building.