Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Denny Crane saves the day

Boy, did I have diarrhea of the keyboard yesterday (May 29, 2007). I guess when you haven't written for a week or so, there is so much inside that wants to come out.

Anyway, some of the blog got picked up by Max Hartshorne, a blogger who owns a travel cafe in South Deerfield, Mass., and a blog about parking at airports.
The direct line to my pickup is

Did you see "Boston Legal" last night. My man Denny Crane was the hero of the episode.

Crane, played by William Shatner, saved the day for two boys accused of killing their father. I won't ruin it for those who missed it and will see it in reruns, but Denny was the man.

One reason I liked the show so much was that it redeemed an older man who had been the butt of age jokes in this episode and other previous shows. The jokes were mostly about Denny's pants and his forgetting to put them on.

In this episode, he's shown as a man who not only pulled his own weight, but whose experience and clear thinking pulled his partner Alan Shore (played by James Spader) out of a difficult situation.

The New York Times, among others, has been featuring stories about the plight of older workers who want to return to work after retirement or those who want to work past usual retirement age.

It seems that although employers know that older workers bring a lifetime of experience, panic less in difficult situations, have faced nearly every situation that can occur on a job and tend to be more loyal, work harder and take less time for personal business, bosses still don't want to hire them.

The rap on older people is that they get sicker than younger folks, use up more medical resources and just don't fit in the fast-paced workplace. It's just not so, the Times article said

So, let's hoist one for Denny Crane, the man who comes through in the clutch, even if he forgets his pants from time to time.

You didn't think you were going to get through Len'sLens without a complaint about something, did you?

This one is simple. People, don't hang, place, stuff, attach or otherwise put sales fliers where they can be seen by passers-by.

I returned home today to see a bright orange piece of paper sticking out of the screen door. It was from a home improvement company, soliticing work repairing roofs, decks, siding, windows and a host of whatever can go wrong with the house.

Fine -- companies have to let you know about their services and I've hired people after receiving their fliers.

But folks, put the bloody thing in the door, the mail slot, the mailbox, IN SOMETHING.

What if I wasn't due to come home for a few days. It's late spring. People go away. I just got back from a week's trip. What if this bright orange piece of paper had been there telling all and sundry that I wasn't home.

What would happen? Maybe nothing. But even 25 years later, I still remember the feeling in my stomach and the look on my wife and kids' faces when we returned from a two-week vacation to a house that had been burgled. OK, it was decades ago, pre-alarm, but it still haunts when my wife talks about the keepsake given to her by some long-dead aunt that the thief took.

Thanks for taking the extra two seconds. I promise to at least read the flyer put into the mail slot. I also promise to discard the one stuck on the door, unread.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Lots to talk about

It's been quite a week in Lens land, and I'd like to share some of it with you.
First of all, the Red Sox are 13 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees after 50 games. That's more than a quarter of the season.
You may wish to re-examine Bring Me the Head of Joe Torre.
Although those who know more about baseball than I do still insist that Torre is safe at least until the end of the season, I don't know how long Boss George can keep his gorge down.
A couple of surprises in the past week: Alberto Gonzalez is still the attorney general and the Democrats completely surrendered on the Iraq pullout.
One wonders what it will take to get them to gird their loins and take on the president on this increasingly pathetic conflict.
But, since this is all about me, Len, (hey, Al Franken isn't around to do this joke any more, somebody has to steal it), let me tell you about this week.
If you don't think you are influenced by your surroundings, think again.
I was at a forum sponsored by Acord, an insurance technology and standards group headquartered in Pearl River, N.Y. But since Pearl River isn't a convention haven, Acord splits its annual forums between Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla. This year, it was at the Dolphin hotel at Walt Disney World -- the epitome of the Disney School of Architecture. Here is a 20-plus storey building with 50-foot-high vertical dolphins atop it, to differentiate it from the Swan across the courtyard, which has 50-foot high swans atop it.
So, there I was getting a Len's Lens posting ready when it hit me: I shouldn't file this telling people I'm in Orlando because someone might see it, know where I live and go rob my house. Silly, isn't it-- but when at an insurance convention, one gets that way.
Anyway, one of the reasons I accompanied my wife to this convention, besides getting story material for my freelance writing and editing business, was because William Shatner was the keynote speaker.
I love William Shatner and his ability to reinvent himself, something some of us have had to do in our lives, some more than others.
After his Canadian Shakespearean training and acting, he became James Tiberius Kirk of the starship Enterprise on Star Trek, then a cop named Hooker in T.J. Hooker. He is an author of science fiction novels.
He recently reinvented himself as lawyer Denny Crane for The Practice and its wonderful spinoff, Boston Legal.
His appearance at the convention was pure Denny Crane. Other speakers were overproduced, coming out to loud, driving music, appearing before the audience reading from TelePrompTers. Shatner, dressed in what looked like pajama bottoms and a T-shirt with a silk-type sports jacket., appeared clutching a sheaf of white pages from which he read.
But his talk was all about not taking orders, being willing to go your own way.
Stay tuned to this space for more about Shatner's talk.
But suffice it to say it was really nice being in the lap of luxury. One company, HP, invited my wife and me to be their guests (along with a couple of dozen other people) at a night at EPCOT.
The first stop was the Space ride. I love this thing, which is a simulated journey to Mars. You blast off from Earth, then journey to Mars. I'm not going to tell about the end of the journey -- don't want to ruin it for first-timers-- except to say it is really cool.
Now you may have read that this ride is nothing to fool around with. Believe it. It puts you through some serious changes -- high gravity and buffeting, as well as really cool effects. People have been injured and even died after taking this ride, so there are now two versions, one the original and another that has less G-forces but still is lots of fun.
Of course, I picked the original. Great time -- but only go once. Seriously, if you have heart problems, are claustrophobic at all or have back and neck problems, skip it. Don't even try the newer version.
The evening included a cocktail hour at the Space exhibit, a walk across EPCOT (for those who haven't figured it out, it's Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow) to a wonderful outdoor area for dinner and a first-class seat for the fireworks and Laser show. Thanks, HP. I hereby swear that no money changed hands or favors were promised for this plug.
The last plug will be for Air Tran Airways and the Westchester County Airport.
Again, this is voluntary -- I got no discounts, no promises, just want to tell you all about an alternative to the New York airports and even to Bradley International, although I love Bradley.
Air Tran runs nonstop between White Plains (yes, the airport is in Harrison and Rye but the airlines say White Plains) and Orlando. Not having to change planes is wonderful. It's pretty cheap, too, about $200 round trip flying on a Sunday and a Friday. White Plains is a tight, clean little airport. Unlike New Haven, the planes actually go somewhere besides Philadelphia and the Washington area.
The only problem is the parking. There is little of it and if you find a space, it's more than $21 a day, no matter how long you stay. No long-term discounts. Unlike Bradley and the New York airports, there are no off-site parking lots and no scheduled bus service goes there from Connecticut.
If the parking were better, the airport would really take off.
But that won't happen because the county doesn't want it to.
Westchester County Airport is run by Westchester County. So, it's a victim of the same type of politics that keeps Tweed-New Haven Airport from being all it can be.
People bought houses near the airport, probably for a lot less than homes farther from the airport and then discovered (G*A*S*P) that there are airplanes flying low in the area.
So, they set out to have that low flying, also known as taking off and landing, cut out as much as possible. And like New Haven, idiot politicians listen to this and curtail the airport's operations.
I remember couple of decades ago when I covered the New Haven airport commission, I spent a day with Bruce Lawson, the airport manager at the time.
He told me aircraft as large as the 757 could use Tweed if there were a few more inches depth of material on the runway. The 757 is a pretty big airplane, capable of transcontinental range.
So, like Westchester, the only thing holding Tweed from hosting flights to Florida, Chicago (there was one once) and hubs like Atlanta and St. Louis and even Dallas, was that the pols didn't want it.
You see, they see an airport as one way, people going out. People could also use Tweed as an airport to come into the region for tourism, to stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, see our shows and museums and use this as a base while traveling to places like the casinos and renting cars to travel to various spots in Connecticut because New Haven is central along the coasts.
But this isn't going to happen as long as our politicians don't see past the noise being made by East Shore residents and by the well-meaning but short-sighted folks who say we have better ways to spend our money than on the airport.
After all, you don't get national recognition by welcoming tourists.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Back on line again

You know, it's really tough being out of touch.

My internet service was down -- I think it's a bad router -- for a couple of days and it seemed like I was stuck on a desert island, without the margaritas.

I bought a MAC notebook (yea, I know - booo from all you PC folks out there) and I bought a router so I could join the Wi-Fi (as separate from the Wii) generation. Well, the best laid plans.

You wouldn't think a guy who was a newsman for more than 40 years would be naive - but I guess I am.
I wandered into the nearest Starbucks to use the WiFi that they are so proud of.

Silly me, I thought you went in, bought some coffee and started to work. Well, up comes this screen to tell me that all my connections -- both WiFi and Bluetooth (I got this really cool wireless mousie so I wouldn't have to deal with THE PAD.) So here I was, shocked, shocked I say (again "Casablanca") to read that you need a T-Mobile account that you could have for 30 or 40 bucks a month or 10 bucks a day. So much for free.

I guess I can't blame them -- after all the name is starBUCKS. I guessed that since they have always let people spend hours and hours reading The New York Times or Washington Post while nursing a small cup of coffee, especially when I wanted to sit down, they would let Web readers have equal access.

I guess they haven't yet figured out how to charge by the page.

Anyway, for all those in the tribe, Shabbat Shalom.

See ya next week.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bring Me The Head of Joe Torre redux

So, why hasn't anyone entered the Bring Me The Head of Joe Torre contest.
First of all, Yankee fans can't imagine the need. After all, Roger (the savior) Clemens will be ready to pitch by the end of the month and that's all that will be needed.
Red Sox fans don't want to give it the evil eye.
There was a guy named Bob Steele who had a radio show (started as a boxing blow-by-blow announcer) at the old WTIC in Hartford.
Every Friday, Steele would give his picks in the high school football contests the next day.
No team wanted Steele to pick it because he was a famous jinx.
This is sort of like that - Red Sox fans can't believe the way the team is going and don't want anything to jinx that.
So, I understand if nobody wants to enter.
But if the lead of Sox over the filthy swine (sorry, I mean Yankees) gets into double digits, maybe it's time to reconsider.
Yeah, I know it's early.
But for now, at least, it's gooooooooooood.
But just in case you want to sign up, you can leave an opinion post or e-mail. Prize is the same -- Len'sLens T-shirt if we ever decide to make any.
Good luck.

Bring Me the Head fallout

I received the following e-mail a couple of days ago.
Dear Len,
OK, so I think it is pretty clear that I win your contest to say when Alberto G. will resign. I choose May 23 and the closest other guess was April 23. I don't want a t-shirt, I want a blog post from you pointing out my superior understanding of GWB: no one has ever gone broke (mis)underestimating that man!
Yours, ESBE

Dear ESBE:
First of all, thank you for being one of the few, the brave, the contest entrants.

Second, thank you for not wanting a T-shirt. I'm a little short now and I can't bring myself to put ads on my blog. I guess I figure there is no such thing as a free lunch and if I submit to advertising, I also submit to advertisers and I want free reign to make as much of a fool of myself as I wish without any help from Corporate America.

I thought when I started the contest that it would end when Alberto steps down, either voluntarily or with help. The person who came closest to that date would win.

ESBE is indeed the winner if nobody else enters. That seems to be the case since nobody has entered a fresh date since the first posting:

Andrea left a comment on the reminder posting reiterating her first entry.

We'll give it another fortnight (that's two weeks) and if there are no subsequent entries, then ESBE will be declared the winner and will be contacted for the prize of choice:
A chance to rant and rave at will about Bush and how you understand this enigma within a good ol' boy -- as long as it's in good taste (this blog is rated PG) and not libelous (hard to libel the president).

So, ESBE, thanks for your interest and we leave it in the hands of the people. After all this is a democracy (it's not twice - this nation is a republic, but don't tell George the Second, and this blog is a literocracy)

Did I just make up a word?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Let's look at what we have

Hey there, cats and kittens, we're back after a slight break to help out with the grandkids in Gotham City.

A couple of thoughts intruded upon the pleasure of diaper-changing and hand-holding (not being sarcastic -- it is a pleasure).

The first thought has to do with the noise ordinance that's getting some teeth and some attention in the city. It's a good thing, if the law is really enforced. That means you, garbage collectors who make the devil's own noise, slamming Dumpsters against trucks at 5 in the morning or earlier. That also means that if Jeep is ridiculous enough to sell a car with a monster blaster attached to the tailgate, that doesn't give the idiot who bought it carte blanche to demonstrate his or her bad taste in music (sic) at 165 decibels.

By the way, Chrysler is being bought by a private group and one hopes that the buyers are smart enough to get rid of the fool to thought that one up.

I am young enough to still drive through town with the windows and sunroof open and the Beach Boys blasting on the car radio. But not at the point where people in the houses I pass have to close their windows to carry on a conversation.

Yeah, radio noise or even nightclub noise is not equal to murder and robbery in the police hierarchy of things to quash, but quality of life is important for downtown and the neighborhoods. But let's not be ludicrous enough to tell the New Haven Symphony they can't play the 1812 Overture complete with bells and cannons on the Green (I hope they do).

The second train of thought had to do with education, specifically how to pay for it.

The New York Times Connecticut section (which now actually has some Connecticut stuff in it, including New Haven's wonderful Mark Bittman doing restaurant reviews) has chosen to view with alarm the way the state funds its schools in an editorial that appeared in the May 13, 2007 Connecticut Section editorial page .

I agree that property taxes are too high and are not the fairest way to pay for education. I have a couple of quibbles with the editorial.

First, the editorial implies that each town in Connecticut has its own schools. Not true. There are 19 regional school districts, that take in schools in the smaller towns. One, for example, the unforgettable WoMoGo takes in three towns, Warren, Morris and Goshen.

What I'm afraid of is that the editorial writer may want to emulate New York, which is where this editorial was probably written or at least edited.

The New York educational system is so confusing that even those who live there and who care about such things are stumped. I know a bit about these things...I spent more than a decade editing newspaper copy about schools in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties.

In New York, with the exception of cities, school district borders and town and village borders are not the same, sometimes not even close. For example, the Lakeland and North Salem school districts cross not only town and village but county lines. (Counties--that's another New York thing that you should thank heaven you don't have to deal with.)

So, people who live in one village or hamlet within a school district may pay more or less in property taxes than people who live in another village or hamlet within the same district. The school taxes are also billed separately from the municipal property taxes, county property taxes and the like.

This is not a model we want to emulate. Yes, it's not fair the people in Greenwich should have more money for schools than people in Hartford or New Haven. But regionalism isn't the answer because it won't work. It's been tried. People in Connecticut won't go for it.

In Connecticut, home rule goes deep. It's not going to change. Sorry about that, but it's the way it is.

And not just in Connecticut. In Westchester, there was something called Westchester 2000. It was a group of thinkers that got together near the turn of the century and said that if some of the four dozen or so towns, villages and hamlets were consolidated, a lot of money could be saved by eliminating redundant services, like the Ossining village hall, which is down the street from the Ossining town hall.

A poll was taken. Westchester citizens said thanks but no thanks. We like things the way they are, even if it costs millions more each year.

And that's the way it is in Connecticut, too.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Good intentions breed a bad idea

I was going to rant and rave about our president, who embarrassed us yet again yesterday (7 days in May, 2007) at the White House welcoming ceremony for the second Queen Bess and the first Prince Phil.

This time, he said that the queen was around for the nation's anniversary in 1776 - er I mean 1976.

I wish we could put a seven-second delay on the guy and have someone push the red button when (not if) he says or does something dumb.

For example, yesterday as the queen stood regally to receive the ruffles, flourishes and gun salute, he looked as if he had to use the men's room really bad. He was jinking, his hand kept circling as it to say "hurry up already" and he walked as if he had eaten jumping beans for breakfast.

I was going to write about that until I read the piece in the New Haven Independent about the proposed new city identification card.

The impetus behind this is to find a way to get illegal immigrants a legal identification. That would allow them to open bank accounts and do some things that would make life a bit easier for them.

So far, no argument. They're here and they aren't going to go away. They got here the same way all our parents and grandparents did, albeit without the official permission most of our ancestors had. All our ancestors. American Indians (that's the correct title, the ones the Indians say they prefer, according to the Associated Press) also are immigrants --they came over probably 15,000 years ago from Asia.

But I have a problem with the card that has nothing to do with official redundancy or pretending the 11 million illegals can be picked up, trucked to the border and given the bum's rush.

It has to do with how you get money into the card. I haven't had a chance to use the parcxmart card, but I assume money is added on to the card by giving cash to a clerk or putting cash in a machine, much like the MetroCards in New York and Metro farecards in Washington. That works and is safe because it puts a barrier, a firewall between that and the rest of one's accounts.

Kika Matos, the city's social-services chief who wants to expand the ID into a debit card by combining it with the parcxmart card.

As the card gets more popular, people will want an automatic way of replenishing it, much like what goes on with E-ZPass. And there's the rub.

In the Independent story, Matos says illegals have told her they do not mind sharing personal information to get the card.

I do mind, and I'll tell you why.

This could end up being another avenue identity thieves will have to get their grubby little fingers around our accounts. If there is a window back into a bank's computers holding checking or savings account information, someone will find it. Major banks such as Citi or Chase or Bank of America or People's spend huge sums on keeping our accounts safe, and yet People's lost or misplaced a computer tape holding many people's information and the debit-card companies also have slip ups. People make mistakes.

I'm sorry...I'd like to make the lot of illegal immigrants a little easier, but not at the risk of the security for which I and my family have worked our whole lives.

If you want to do an ID card for libraries and parks and perhaps to get a preferred parking spot in the downtown we paid for (my pipe dream), fine. You want illegals to have a card to prove who they are so they can open checking accounts, also fine.

I share my information with enough entities, from the U.S. government to my insurance company to credit card companies and banks. We don't need another window into our lives. Let's not combine this ID with the parcxmart card and let's keep the replenishment of the card a cash transaction.

Saying "sorry" after some identity thief has skipped town with some one's life's savings just doesn't cut it.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Please don't forget about the cemeteries

Just a quick note, urging everyone not to forget about the cemetery issue.

We have found another few gravestones pushed over at our cemeteries in East Haven.

Some good people have reacted to the news about this vandalism and its cost both in sadness and in dollars and have pledged money, mostly anonymously. To all of them, thank you.

A hearty thank you to Congregation Bikur Cholim Sheveth Achim secretary Goldie Goldberg and Rabbi David Avigdor for speaking to the media on this, and to Francie Parness of the New Haven Jewish Foundation for her help. Also, thanks to the New Haven Register and the three major television stations for following up.

And to those who have given and who are going to give, thank you.

Sunday in New York celebrating Israel

It was beautiful out on Sunday (May 6, 2007) and even New York City looked clean and bright.

Fifth Avenue was ablaze in blue and white, with about 100,000 children and adults marching and close to 1 million people lining the avenue for 22 blocks south of 79th Street, cheering them on.

Dozens of bands, fife and drum corps, bands on floats and sound systems being pushed up the street on all kinds of carts, all provided music. It's hard to fathom that music can be too loud when played outdoors on a wide avenue in front of ranks of cheering people, but a few floats and sound systems managed it.

But hey, it was like being in Jerusalem in that everyone, or nearly everyone, was championing Israel and its right to exist. It's not that everyone on the street was Jewish. Like Israel, many of the people weren't Jewish, but they came out to support the one representative democracy in the Middle East.

The one real dower was a group of jackasses from Neturei Karta. This is the group that went to Iran for the Holocaust conference.

These mamzerim (people of questionable parentage) dress as ultra-Orthodox Jews and say the Torah forbids Jews to be in Israel until the coming of the Messiah.

OK, you can make a case for that -- not a good case but everyone is entitled to an opinion. But what gets me is that these cult members were standing behind a Palestinian flag. Why do that? What's that got to do with the absence of the Messiah? That's like wearing Ku Klux Klan sheets or waving a Nazi flag in front of Holocaust survivors.

For those who have never attended a major parade or demonstration in New York, one of the tools the New York City Police Department uses for crowd control is a series of meter-high portable fences. They look like long bicycle racks.

You walk along a sidewalk until you find yourself corralled. We ended up corralled next to these idiots. As you might imagine, there were words between the Palestinian-flag group and some Israel-backers, including a pair of Holocaust survivors and a few young guys with Israeli accents.

The police kept increasing the space between them and our group, so we had to shout louder. There were police lined in front of them, shooing marchers away who wanted to confront these dozen guys. All in all, the NYPD did an admirable job. The street cops were just following orders, trying to prevent trouble. And they did. I was just upset the wind was blowing away from them, so you couldn't spit in their faces.

I asked one of these idiots why he was standing with a Palestinian flag. He kept repeating the slogans written on the placards he and his fellow members were holding. There was a by a twenty-something guy with a slight Israeli accent. We agreed that it's fair game to criticize the Israeli government, but not its existence and not with this flag.

The only thing I can figure out is that the cultists' rebbe told them to do this and they did it. That's one problem I have with some of these ultra-Orthodox sects. Their rebbe or leader tells them to do a thing and they all, like cattle, do it. Look, if their rebbe tells them to pray a certain way, that's fine. But how to think and vote and to wave a Palestinian flag, that is or should be between a person and his or her conscience. But anyone who calls for the eradication of what they call their fellow Jews, which is the stated purpose of the Palestinian entity, doesn't have a conscience.

Another clown, not in ultra-Orthodox mufti, starting shouting about giving Israel to the Arabs. I asked about Gaza, the condition of that area now that the Israelis have pulled out. I asked him about the Arabs going into greenhouses that could have been used to grow food and stealing copper piping and smashing glass.

He called me a racist. That's what these one-trick ponies do when they run out of arguments. Then everybody but them is a something-ist. This guy should spend his time on the Internet, trying to buy a brain on eBay.

It wouldn't be Len's Lens unless I complained about something. It's an endearing thing about me.

I didn't like the fact that there was so much VIP stuff. Let me explain.

There was a reviewing stand that said VIPs only and I can understand the need for security when the mayor of New York and the mayor of Jerusalem, along with other notables such as Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., were around.

But at the concert in Central Park, most of the seats available were fenced off and marked VIPs only. There had to be hundreds of plastic folding chairs and many of them were empty while others in the crowd of 20,000 or so sat on the ground or on the two small portable grandstands. I don't know who you have to know or what you have to do to be a VIP, but in a concert like this, it should be open to one an all.

We left, not because we didn't have a seat, but because the entertainment was loud, not terribly good and not worth our time. I just hope it got better.

Even walking back the 30 or so blocks to Grand Central Terminal, there was wonder in the air. Even after the parade ended with a scores if not hundreds of motorcyclists roaring up Fifth Avenue, people acknowledged our Israeli flag and signs.

It was a great day. That's what I call a Sunday in New York.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Vandals make cemeteries sadder places

A cemetery is a sad place. People with hearts and souls don't have fun at a cemetery.

But people without souls, people who think it's fun to tip over gravestones and people who sneak into cemeteries to do their vandalism, make them even sadder for the rest of us.

And cowards who sneak under the cover of darkness to paint swastikas on Jewish cemeteries are unfeeling and stupid. Why stupid? Because they obviously have a mental problem, and the Nazis killed people with mental problems. So, in painting swastikas, they are glorifying a group that would have sent them to the gas chambers along with the millions of real people who were slaughtered.

Cemeteries in East Haven, Conn., belonging to two or more Orthodox synagogues in New Haven, have been vandalized, with discoveries made the last week of April, 2007.

I went to the cemeteries today (May 3, 2007) to see for myself. Goldie Goldberg the administrator of Bikur Cholim Sheveth Achim, one of the synagogues involved, and Rabbi David Avigdor, Bikur Cholim's spiritual leader, met with a reporter and videographer from WVIT, Channel 30, the NBC affiliate in Connecticut. I was there because I'm president of Bikur Cholim board of directors.

There were dozens of gravestones knocked over, some tipped off their bases, others pulled from their bases and somehow dragged so that the top, not the bottom, of the stone lay on the base. One that was white and thin like the stones seen in Revolutionary War-era cemeteries was broken in half.

Mark Zaretsky, a veteran reporter for the New Haven Register, had done a nice piece for the May 3 edition, pointing out that there is an economic price to be paid for the vandalism, along with the hurt to the soul.

Although he painted Bikur Cholim as more moribund than it is, he rightfully quoted the synagogue secretary as saying it will cost thousands of dollars to repair and reset the stones on their bases, money the synagogue cannot easily afford. The Westville Synagogue also suffered and Elliott Croll, Westville's cemetery chairman, was a speaker in the Register story.

Bikur Cholim has set aside money for cemetery maintenance and the Greater New Haven Jewish Foundation is coordinating cemetery maintenance for the dozens of cemeteries in the New Haven area. But now thousands of dollars set aside for cemetery maintenance and improvement must be spent to repair the damage.

Cemeteries don't have vandalism insurance and although homeowners insurance can cover these costs, most of the graves are so old it is nearly impossible to trace the relatives who might have this insurance.

I'm happy for the coverage by the local and statewide press. The Register, has done stories, as have all three major television news operations -- WTNH in New Haven, WFSB in Hartford, as well as WVIT -- on air or on their Web sites or both.

I commend all the news outlets for following this story so closely. It's not a sexy story, but it's one of those slice of life stories that journalism is really all about.

It puts the problem out there for caring people.

Speaking of caring people, we owe a big thank you to the East Haven police for responding to this and to the patrols that they make in the cemetery area.

Those who do care and want to help are encouraged to call 203-387-4699 and speak to Goldie Goldberg, e-mail me or leave a note at the end of this post. Thank you in advance.

I have confidence that people who care will help make these cemeteries a place of a little more comfort and a lot less sadness.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Bring me the head of Joe Torre

So here we are -- it's a whole month into the baseball season. It's May. New York Yankee principal owner and chief poobah George Steinbrenner has told one and all that he has faith in Manager Joe Torre and General Manager Brian Cashman.

So, of course, it's time to play Bring Me The Head of Joe Torre.

The contest works along the same lines as Bring Me The Head of Alberto Gonzalez. (In case Mike and the Mad Dog is your idea of hard news, Gonzalez is the Attorney General of the United States and is in trouble. President Bush has given Gonzalez his absolute backing, which, of course, means he's on the way out.)

So, the contest works this way. Pick a date for Torre to go and either put it as a comment on this blog post or send it as an e-mail to me. My e-mail address is somewhere on this blog.

The person who comes closest to the actual date that Torre gets his walking papers wins a Len's Lens T-shirt, if we ever print them.

Just as a clue, my son-in-law Mike, who differs from me in that he actually knows something about baseball, says he thinks it'll be around the All-Star break.

As a tie-breaker, also indicate if you think Torre or Gonzalez will be the first to go. If you get both, you get two T-shirts and if enough people enter the contest, it will be an impetus for us to actually get off our duffs and make up some T-shirts.

Oh, yes...if you are one of the few, the proud, those who have entered the Gonzalez contest the first time around, you can do it again here. We'll count your closest entry. Who knows, you may be one of the few and proud to wear your Len's Lens T-shirt.

You can wear it to Yankee Stadium to see if new manager Don Mattingly can do any better than Torre. Tickets are on you.

You can do your research at No kidding, Donnie Baseball has his own Web site, dedicated to (wait for it now) Don Mattingly. You can read interviews, buy signed stuff and everything.

Gee, Torre's Web site has only his foundation that promotes safety for children and freedom from abuse at home.

As a Red Sox fan, I'd much rather have the Yankees managed by a guy who wants to sell stuff with his name written on it than a guy who actually cares about kids and their safety.

Makes it easier to hate the team, you know.

So, c'mon George. Get out the hatchet.

By the way, I'm picking John Quincy Adams's and Yul Brynner's birthday for the day Joe gets it.

When's that? Look it up.

I can't do everything for you.