New England blog postings

New England Postings

Earliest: March 14, 2003Latest: July 1, 2017Total: 55

July 1, 2017

Fred the Computer

Fred the Computer was a BBS computer that was setup by the Middlesex News. It was a way for people to read some of the newspaper articles before it went to print.

I found this introduction transcript on my computer. Might be useful for someone doing research on the old ?Fred the Computer? at Middlesex News.

This output was from March 19, 1993 (24 years, 3 months, 12 days ago):

Enter your FULL Name: Terry Barron 
Calling from (city, state)? Fitchburg, Ma.

Fred welcomes TERRY BARRON
Calling from FITCHBURG, MA.
Is this correct? Y

<A>IBM/ANSI     <B>IBM/generic  <C>Mac/Zterm    <D>Mac/RedRydr  <E>Mac/generic
<F>Tandy compat <G>Tandy CoCo   <H>Tandy TRS-80 <I>Atari/genric <J>VT-100/102
<K>NAPLPS

Enter letter of your terminal, or hit enter if not listed: C

Terminal profile set to:
ANSI codes allowed
IBM Graphics Allowed

Upper/Lower Case
Line Feeds Needed
0 Nulls after each <CR>
Do you wish to modify this? N
Do you wish to have a pause after each screen (normally Y)? Y
How many lines per screen (10-80, normally 24 or 25)? 25

Please Enter a 1-8 character Password to be used for future logons.   This
password may have any printable characters you wish.  Lower case is considered
different from upper case and embedded blanks are legal.  REMEMBER THIS
PASSWORD.  You will need it to log on again.

Your password? titanlike
Re-enter new password to verify: titanlike
You have read through message 0
Current last message is 7436
You are authorized 30 mins this call


Welcome! I'm Fred the Computer and I'm your computer connection to the
Middlesex News, MetroWest's hometown newspaper.

You can voice your opinions on virtually anything, read unusual and breaking
news stories and communicate with the Middlesex News (you can upload letters to
the editor and oped pieces, as well as subscribe to the paper).  In the
International Desk/Fidonet area, you can communicate with people across the
country and around the world on a wide variety of topics and in several
different languages.

I've tried to make myself as user-friendly as possible (Hi there!). Virtually
all commands are done with a single key-stroke, and most services on this
system come with some sort of explanation.

If you are new to tele-communicating, I, like most other computer bulletin
boards, or BBSs, use a specific way to show you commands: by putting them
inside brackets. For example, <2> means hit the "2" key on your keyboard. The
one exception is <CR>. That means "hit your carriage return key,'' rather than
type the letters C and R.

For a more detailed run-down of the various areas and commands, hit <H> at the
main menu or in the Op-Ed section. These will give you information on how to
write and leave messages, etc. If your computer supports ANSI codes, you can
get color menus by going into the Utility area (<U> off the main menu). Hit
<F> for formatting the way Fred looks and then hit A to toggle ANSI on. There
are also built-in help systems in the message and file-download areas.

If you want to talk to a human being about me (only good things, I hope!), you
can leave a message for Adam Gaffin, who keeps my screen clean, (and thinks
he's the system operator) when you log off, or you can call him during
business hours at 508-626-3968 (or toll-free at 1-800-982-4730, ext. 3968 --
but only from 508 and 617 area codes).

You can log off the system at any time by hitting <G>.

Also:

Please be aware that ALL messages, including private ones, can be read by  the
system operator, and that any messages that involve illegal activity will  be
deleted.

All stories from Associated Press and the Scripps-Howard News Service on this
system are copyrighted by the respective wire services and may not be
reproduced or re-distributed without their permission.

Calls are limited to 30 minutes; but you can call up to three times a day and
spend a total of one hour on the system. For information on upgrading the
amount of time you can spend on the system by subscribing to Fred, please hit
S at the main menu.

I hope you enjoy and use me often. If you have any comments or suggestions,
please do not hesitate to let me know. Have fun!

-- Fred the Computer
                           MIDDLESEX NEWS MAIN LOBBY


<1> NEWSROOM: Tomorrow's headlines, Weirdnet, weather, calendar and more

<2> OPED: Your opinion

<3> LIBRARY: Documents, BBS/Online library lists, recipes and more

<4> MAILROOM: Subscribe to the News, upload letters, press releases, etc.

<5> INTERNATIONAL DESK: Fidonet conferences

<S>ubscribe to Fred!


  <H>elp; <U>tilities; <Y>ell for sysop; <Q>WK packets; <E>-mail; <G>oodbye

April 1, 2017

Acton's Discovery Museum

Tuck into a quiet neighborhood in Acton, Massachusetts is the Children's Discovery Museum. This very popular place is where kids can play. learn, and explore about various things.

Acton Discovery Museums

Changes are Coming

The original Children's Discovery Museum started from a 3-story Victorian house, built in 1880, that has 3,500 square feet of floor space in ten rooms. It opened in 1982.

In 1988, a new building was constructed in the backyard. The building, Science Discovery Museum, targets older kids where they could learn about science.

This winter the Victorian house part of the museum will be torn down. The Discovery Museum building will be expanded so that all museum exhibits will be under one roof.

Good Summer to visit!

If your kids had visited the Children's Discovery Museum in the past, this will be the last time they will get to go to the original museum. It's a good time to visit some of the favorite exhibits:

  • Play in the train room - How much is that trip to Boston?
  • Climb the wall and discover which ball track is faster. - Don't forgot to reset the dominos over the fireplace.
  • Try to make a life size bubble in the Water room
  • Swim up the stairs
  • Try to catch the foam falling out of the ceiling
  • Read a story by the pretend fire in the Backyard at Night room
  • Play in the Adventure Fort
  • Head up to the Attic and the Ship Room

Discovery Grid

Good News

According to the website, all the popular exhibits in the original museum will be in the new one:

Every experience in the current Children's Discovery Museum balls and ramps, water, air, Bessie's Diner, the Ship Room, trains, light & color, Backyard at Night will exist in the new building. Along with what will become new favorites!

While it's nice that they are keeping the exhibits, it won't be the same as it was in the old building. I would recommend at least stopping by and checking it out for the last time.

Bessie's the big, green dinosaur birthday is at the end of June. They might be having a celebration around June 24-25. It's a fun time to go since they have an Outdoor Dinosaur Dig, Dinosaur Egg hung, Face Painting and you can give Bessie a bath.

Good Bye House2

August 13, 2016

Bastians

Bastians

On Lower County Road in Dennisport is Bastians, a great place to get all your beach needs. You can find all sorts of floats, beach toys, and Cape Cod souvenirs. You can't miss the store, it's on the corner of Shad Hole Road and Lower County Road, just look for all the floatation devices in front of the store.

The store is open every day from Memorial Day weekend, until Labor Day. In September, the store is open on the weekends until it closes down on Columbus Day.

Hey I Worked There!

If you stopped in the store during the summer of 1988 or 1989, you probably would have seen me working the register or inflating customer beach flotation devices.

I worked with Mr. Bastian on stocking the shelves and helping customers find things in the store.

I never really thought of it as a job as it was just a fun place to work and meet interesting people.

Some memories that come into mind from working there:

Cell phones weren't around in the late 1980's and people would stop by to use the row of payphone booths on the other side of the parking lot. (The booths are no longer there.)
The store was once broken into by someone unlocking one of the front sliding doors during business hours. The thieves came back at night to steal some things. Thankfully the cash wasn't kept in the store at night. The store lost some merchandise but nothing serious. I thought it was pretty gutsy that they would break in via the front.
There was a time were a customer stole one of the flotation rafts that was in front of the store. Mr. Bastian asked me who sold the raft since it was pretty ugly. I told him that it wasn't me as I was working the air pump machine. The girl behind the register said she didn't either. I saw the car with the raft pull out the parking lot, and told Mr. Bastian, "There it is!" I then took chase of the car. When I got caught up to the car, I told the passenger that they didn't buy the float, she said they did. I didn't get them to stop, but I looked at their license plate number and remembered it. I got back in the store to write it down. Meanwhile, Mr. Bastian took chase in his car, caught up with them down the street. He told us later that the people pull over, there was a lot of yelling, and he got $20.

Unique things about Bastians

Walking through the store, you see that it is a very typical old fashion Cape Cod souvenir store. They have a lot of strange and unique souvenirs. I am pretty sure that there is plenty of merchandise in the store today from when I worked there.

Some merchandise you'll encounter at Bastians:

  • Cape Cod souvenir wooden boxes
  • Penny Candy (near the register)
  • Used Paperback Books
  • Bamboo Beach Mats (these were very popular!)
  • Cheap kites
  • Puzzles
  • Modeling kits
  • Stationary

Did you know: You can bring your own flotation devices to Bastians to be inflated. Bastians would inflate anything that you purchase in the store and anything that you bring into the store for free!

Bastians Store is For Sale

Sadly, Mr. Bastian died in 2007. Every Summer since his family has been running the store. They have since decided that it was time to sell the business. If nobody buys the business in the next couple of week, this could very well be the final days of Bastians.

A note on Facebook:

A rare Opportunity to own your own Business!
After 50+ Bastians 5 & 10 of Dennisport (BUSINESS ONLY) is being sold. A message from the owner: "After having the pleasure of serving the public for the past 50+ years, Bastians in Dennisport will be closing. We were fortunate to meet many wonderful people over these years who became loyal customers. We have enjoyed watching generations of children grow up and bring their grandchildren and their children. Seeing your familiar faces every year has given us much satisfaction and we appreciate your kind words and sharing of memories. Should anyone wish to explore continuing the "Bastian's Tradition", Please contact Crystal @ Joly McAbee & Weinert for details Gerry Bastian

CustomerMessage.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

If you have the opportunity to continue the tradition, I would suggest looking into the opportunity!

November 23, 2015

Natick Mall Santa

If you plan on heading to the Natick Mall during the next few weeks to take pictures with Santa Claus. You should visit the Natick Mall website and reserve your spot and to pre-pay for your photo package to save $5.

Natick mall

Ya, $5 isn?t much savings but at least it?s something. Besides doing this all online will save you a lot of time at the Mall. You won?t have to worry about filling out any forms and enjoy the whole moment, which could be worth way more than the $5 savings.

Santa will be at the Mall from now until Christmas Eve! Expect longer waiting times on the weekend.

September 10, 2015

Food Tour of Waterbury Vermont

In the Fall of 2014, we took a ride up to Stowe, Vermont from Massachusetts. In that trip, we accidentally ran into 3 Vermont food establishments and created a mini food tour. I thought I would share it in case other people wanted to have a bit of fun on the way to Stowe and see some of Waterbury VT.

Ben and Jerry

This is the place that people go to see how their favorite ice cream is made. You can get a tour of the factory and get a sample of the flavor of the day - not really free since you do have to pay $6 for the tour. It's a fun tour where you learn a lot about the history and culture of Ben and Jerry.

Key tip: When you first arrive at the factory, get your tour tickets first. They do book out pretty quickly! In fact if you arrive later in the day all the remaining tours may have already been sold out. Still worth a stop for the gift shop and ice cream selection.

The souvenir store is great, they have all the usual collectables; Pens, T-shirts, toys and so much more. It's a great place to stock up. Yet, It's a bit smaller than I would have thought it to be.

Be sure to visit the ice cream graveyard and try to remember when you had all the different flavors that Ben & Jerry's don't make any more. There is a small playground for kids to work off their energy from eating ice cream.

If your a chocolate ice cream fan, here's something fun to try - When you place your ice cream order at the ice cream stand, let them know that you really enjoy Chocolate ice cream. Then ask for the most  chocolaty Ben & Jerry's ice cream. See which one of Ben and Jerry's has the most chocolate taste.

Cabot Cheese

After stopping for ice cream get back in the car and head up a bit on route 100 and visit the World of Cabot.

You'll find a Cabot Cheese store next to a wine shop. This isn't a factory tour type of place, it's basically Cabot retail establishment. However, there's plenty of free cheese samples and lots of different crackers to try. It's worth the stop for all the cheese samples.

This is a good place to find a lot of other Vermont favorites here too such as Maple Syrup, thick slice bacon and extra cheese popcorn. They do have some Cabot souvenirs to add to your food tour.

It's a good place to broaden your horizons on different cheeses. Don't eat too much as there's still one more food stop before arriving in Stowe.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill

Have you ever been to the Vermont building at Big E in East Springfield, Mass? Did you try the Apple Crisp? You'll be happy to know the last stop on this food tour is Cold Hollow Cider Mill. This is the company behind those awesome Apple Crisp desert treats.

Once you walk in, you'll smell someone cooking up a fresh batch of Apple Cinnamon donuts. Look around, because there is great amount of food and gifts to pick up here. In fact, you can by a kit to make their Apple Crisp at home.

This is a really good place to buy premium maple syrup in all sorts of sizes. (Really some one needs a gallon size?)  You can buy a personal size bottle which kids will like.

In the back of the store is where you can watch them make the world best Apple cider. You can even try a free sample.

There is an active bees hive in the middle of the store. Kids will like watching the busy bees in action. No chance of getting a bee sting, everything is behind a glass.

Fun Day!

Those are the three fun places that we discovered on our Waterbury VT food trip to Stowe, Vermont. It's was a long trip and stopping at those places helped break up the trip. It also made it a fun journey to go back sometime soon. Next time we'll not eat as much before the tour.

September 2, 2015

Katsiroubas Bros. Truck

If your driving around the Boston area, you may see a green Katsiroubas Bros. Truck. They are delivering some fresh produce to some of the finer restaurants in New England. On the truck you may see a little note by the driver's side door, "In Loving Memory of NPK." This is in reference to Nicholas P Katsiroubas the CEO of Katsiroubas Bros who died on May 21, 2013.

Nicholas was a graduate of Babson College. He was CEO of Katsiroubas Bros and his dedication grew the business into one of the leading produce and specialty suppliers in the North East. You can read more about his Bio on the Katsiroubas website.

Oddly enough that "NPK" actually has a different meaning among gardeners. NPK refers to the Nitrigen, Phosphorus and Potassium amount that is used in fertilizer.

July 29, 2015

Gluten-free Expo

Last Weekend we attend the Gluten-free Expo was at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.  We wanted to attend the show so that my daughter could to try different foods.

When we checked in at the registration desk we were given three large re-usable shopping bags. Within an hour, we managed to fill the bags with lots of samples and coupons.

There were a lot of exhibitors at the show giving away free taste samples. It was a good way to break out of the normal routine and try different pizzas and snacks. Some of the vendors were selling products, while others were handing out take-home size samples. There were a couple of Gluten-free bakery vendors selling cup cakes and flourless chocolate cakes that were very good.

I felt some of the pizza could have been cooked more for a more crispy taste, but I get it that the benders were try to get samples out as quickly as possible.

The exhibit floor was packed and moving between vendors was difficult at times. It was great to see a large turn out, however the hosting company should have space the booths out more.

One of the good things about going to a food expo is trying food that you normally wouldn't try. We stopped by the Schar booth to try their bread, thinking that no one could possibly beat the taste of Canyon House bread. We were wrong, as Schar tasted really good and has the texture of real bread. They even gave us a loaf of bread to take home. I think Canyon Bakery has a real challenge on its hand.

Part of the excitement of the Expo was the ability to attend some classes on Gluten-free cooking, but the announcement of the classes on the exhibit hall PA system was barely audible. There was so much noise that you couldn't hear any announcements. If you go, set up a reminder on your phone of the class that you want to attend.

Parking at the DCU center was a bit challenging, as it wasn't very clear on where to exit the garage to walk to the DCU center. We weren't the only ones with problems as several people were walking all over the garage, first to find the show and then later to find their car. Good Luck if you have a stroller and looking for an elevator in the garage.

Overall the experience was worth it and I would certainly recommend going to meet the vendors and to taste some good food. If your eating Gluten Free because of Celiac disease, you should attend the show. Before sampling some of the food, let the vendor know that you have Celiac disease, as one of the beer vendors told me that one of their beers did have some Gluten in it.

To help my daughter feel better about going the expo, I changed the wording of the theme song to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse...

Its the Gluten free Expo...
..come inside its yummy inside
It's the Gluten free Expo

You can watch a clip of the Worcester Gluten-free Expo as part of the YouTube Weekly feature:

July 28, 2015

Mendon Twin Drive

Recently we saw a couple of movies at the Mendon Twin Drive in Mendon, Massachusetts. The theater is located just outside of downtown Mendon. We went on a very busy night where both theaters were sold out.

It cost $25 a car to see a  double feature movie, this is much cheaper than the three if us going to a regular movie theater. If there's more than six people in the car, it's an extra $5 a person.

Since the theater is own by the Andelman brothers, who put on the Phantom Gourmet, I was really looking forward to trying the snack bar and my favorite movie snack - popcorn. The snack bar was loaded with lots of great choices, such as hot dogs and chicken fingers and most of it was made to order. As a result, the line was a little long for the snack bar, but it seem to move fairly quickly.

I was a little disappointed with the taste of the popcorn. I was thinking that it was going to be awesome, that I picked up two bags ($6 a bag). The popcorn was was anything but great. It had a strange burn taste and nothing at all what I expected. The popcorn machine was cranking out popcorn, so it was fresh - perhaps maybe the machine needed cleaning? I don't know just wasn't what I was expected.

I watched the movie sitting on the ground near the back of the car. We had the car radio on, but I could hear the sound coming from other people radios. It was pretty cool surround sound effect.

We left near the end of the second movie because it was midnight and my daughter was sleeping. We also decided to leave because it was going to take a long time to leave once the movie got over. 

We had a great first time visit and certainly will be back again to enjoy another movie. This was my first drive-in experience since the Capital Theaters Drive-in in San Jose, California - some ten years ago.

You should certainly go and enjoy the Drive-in experience, here's some practical tips:

  • Arrive early, especially on a Saturday night in the summer. Pack some sandwiches and have a picnic dinner at the theater. 
  • Park any place you want, we ended up parking up front and felt we had great view of the screen.
  • The bathrooms are very small and the lines are long. Plan your bathroom breaks carefully ( Avoid going just before the movie or immediately afterwards)
  • Use the express lane at the snack bar, you can save a lot of time.
  • Yes, you should visit the snack bar it's part of the drive in fun.
  • The only Gluten-free options at the snack bar that I saw were the Popcorn, ice cream (with sprinkles) and some of the candy.
What to bring

  • Whiffle Bat and Ball - Keeps everyone entertained before the show
  • Radio - I saw some boom boxes, but Walkman might be good.
  • Blankets to keep warm
  • Bug spray
  • Extra drinks and snacks.
  • Chairs - lots of people were setting up beach chairs to watch the show.
  • USB Charger - The cell phone signal is weak and will drain the cell phone battery.
  • Flashlight - In case you need to walk to the snack bar when it's dark.

July 9, 2015

Acton Fireworks

This past weekend we saw the July 4th fireworks in Acton, Massachusetts. They shoot them off at NARA Park around 9:30pm.

We parked the car at an off-site parking lot at Nagog Woods. There were plenty of parking when we arrived at 7pm. It was a quick walk to the first pickup spot. We weren't that familiar with the area and thought that the bus was the best way to NARA Park. In the future, we would research if walking would be a better option.

NARA Park

This was a very nice family friendly park. There is a nice fresh water beach where you can go swimming. There is an enclosed playground with all sorts of slides and climbing equipment where kids can play. This is great to keep kids busy while waiting for the fireworks to go off.

I didn't know anything about the park. NARA Park, the Nathaniel Allen Recreation Area, is located at 25 Ledge Rock Way in Acton and operated by the Town of Acton Recreation Department. The park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset and staffed seasonally from Memorial Day weekend through late August.

Picking the Perfect Spot

When we arrived, it wasn't clear where the fireworks were going to be launched from, as some people thought it would be over the pond. The fireworks are actually fired near the baseball field on the opposite side of where you enter NARA Park.

To get an awesome view of the show, you are better off walking the distance towards the hill. However keep in mind the further you walk away from the entrance only means that you'll have to walk all that way back after the show with a large crowd.

We watched the fireworks near the playground and beach area. However, it appeared that the best spot to watch the fireworks was up on the hill just beyond the pond. There were some low level fireworks that would have been better to see up on the hill or on the other side of the hill.

Show Time

The fireworks show was great, it started around 9:30 and finished just before 10. People were marking their spots around 7pm. Just about everyone was sitting down during the whole thing.

The show lasted about 25 minutes and featured all sorts of different types fireworks. You could hear the usual "Ooohs" and "Ahhhs" and the occasional cheering for people's favorite firework.

It Would Have Been Better if...

The only complaint that I have about the show was how hard it was to get back to the official off-site parking lot. The organizers had only seven buses running. As a result, it took several bus trips before everyone could clear out. People were pushing and shoving just to get a spot on the bus. So much for the family friendly aspect.

Things didn't get any better once you arrive at the parking area, it was a traffic mess of everyone trying to get out at the same time. Police were doing their best to keep the traffic moving, but it didn't seem to make much difference.

Had we known about the walking we might have walked

One solution to this would be to have additional buses plus two areas for off-site parking. This would help break up the rush at the end of the show, and keep the crowds moving within the park and on the various main streets around Acton.

It's a fun show and I would recommend going. It certainly would be interesting to see what changes the town does in 2016. We didn't do the all day activity but it looks like that's a way to have a great fireworks day.

May 30, 2012

Wrentham Village Premium Outlets

Some little little factiod on the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets that I found out this weekend:

  • The Wrentham Village Premium Outlets is located 45 minutes from the Bourne Bridge.
  • The exit to get to Wrentham Village Premium Outlets off of 495, is very easy to remember! It's exit 15, the nickel and dime exit. So the next time your traveling down or up 495 and wonder what exit the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets is, think about 'it's the Nickel and Dime exit!'
  • When leaving the outlets to get back onto 495, at the lights by South St, near the Cracker Barrel Restaurant, stay in the left lane if you plan on going South on 495. Say in the center lane if you are going North on 495.
  • Visit the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store for some unique snacks for the road trip home.