A brand new hairdo

Sunday morning, February 28th. The last day in the shortest month.

The Dorchester Youth Collaborative is an institution in the city. It’s a shame that they’re closing, another victim of the pandemic. They’ve saved many young lives over the years.

You wouldn’t think a story on cosmetology at a Boston high school would be very important in the grand scheme of things. Hairdressing classes? But it’s a way to engage students and put them on a carer track for something that has meaning for them. The problem, as Meg Irons points out, is that Madison Park High seems to only be going through the motions. Rhode Island has the right idea. Include business training, budgets and entrepreneurship in the cosmetology track. Give kids the tools they need to do well in the future, don’t just keep them placated for four years in the present.

Are vaccines safe and effective? That question was answered in Milton, MA, 200 years ago.

A new album by… Nancy Sinatra? It’s a retrospective and Christopher Muther is right, the songs are surprisingly good. Lots of them were written by Lee Hazelwood with backing by the Wrecking Crew. They certainly are of their time.

And a plastic surgeon, who was double-booked for a surgical procedure and an appearance on a video call for traffic court, decided to do both at the same time. Double face time.

Driven by necessity

Saturday. Somewhere in wintertime.

Billy Baker takes us surfing – in New England – in February.

The pandemic forced restaurants to change their service models to focus on online ordering and delivery. Now, many mom and pop operations seem to have well designed and regularly updated online menus, and the delivery sites work even better. That’s good news for the software developers that build these things and, ultimately, for customers.

I’m not great with faces and since everyone is wearing masks these days, it’s even harder to pick people you know out of the crowd at the grocery store. (But at least now I have an excuse for not recognizing someone.)

The Guardian has the story on that guy and his company buying up all the music, including Neil Young’s catalog.

And since the new Apple M1 Macs are super powerful and efficient, they should be great for mining crypto, right? Well actually…

Walk right in, sit right down

Well, it’s Friday. Today is the anniversary of the first World Trade Center bombing.

Who will be the new US Ambassador to Ireland? Some Boston names are in the mix.

Mark Sullivan covers the Senate hearing last week on the Russia-based Solar Winds hack. The bottom line: This was a new type of attack vector that we did not see coming. It was also a huge intelligence sharing and coordination failure.

If you’re a nervous flier booking a trip, you might, as this NYT article suggests, want to research what type of plane you’ll be flying on or even the model and manufacturer of the engines. Not me. In some cases ignorance is bliss. This is one of those cases.

John Adams and Alia Beard Rau explain how to build and sustain an audience for an online newspaper, in this case the Arizona Republic. First, you have to kill the zombies.

And it looks like an arms race is brewing. The new fully-automatic Hyper Mach-100 is a step up from the pump-action Hyper Siege-50, holding a hundred rounds of ammo with a super-fast reload capability. Not your father’s Nerf guns.

Sausage making in a windowless room

Good morning on this beautiful Thursday.

Annabel Battistella, otherwise known as Fanne Foxe, died this week at 84. Her 1974 performance at the Pilgrim Theater in the combat zone, with Wilbur Mills in attendance, rocked the national political scene.

What happens in committee stays in committee. Arguments about transparency on Beacon Hill are getting personal. On the matter of releasing public testimony transcripts, CommonWealth Magazine reports that one rep said that it would be an undue burden on staff and that they didn’t have the technical capacity to do it. Coming from a member of the body that passed legislation requiring all the other government agencies in the state to jump through those same hoops, that seems just a tiny bit hypocritical.

Reply All seems to be spiraling. It was a great podcast as a quirky upstart, then it got ambitious, taking on more complex, important stories, attracting larger and larger audiences and raising expectations beyond what they could deliver organically. An unfortunate, but familiar, story arc. And one that would have made for a great episode of the old Reply All.

Alexis Madrigal poses an interesting question: How will we know when the pandemic is over? It’s not too early to start thinking about this. Personally, I’m looking forward to going places and eating things.

And the MIT Technology Review points out 10 technology breakthroughs you might have missed. This really is a good time for science and technology, despite all the political noise.

Supporting the team

Wednesday. Sunny and spring like. Today’s word is fathom.

We may have botched the response to Covid-19, but the good news is that, at least in England, we seem to have eliminated the flu!

In-person sports could be coming back, according to a tease from the governor. Will it be Bruins… or Celtics? Or will we have to wait for a summer game at Fenway. Foxboro in the fall? I’d settle for getting back to normal even by then.

Attorney General Maura Healey is flexing. Matt Stout suggests it might have something to do with a potential gubernatorial shot in 2022.

A new restaurant, Noami, is slated to open in the Derby Street shops in Hingham by the summer. Marc Hurwitz reports that it will be operated by the same team that runs restaurants in Chinatown, Cambridge and at Logan Airport. Good restaurants moving out into the suburbs seems to be a trend. Spread the wealth, I say, especially on the south shore.

And a court has ruled against drummer Joey Kramer, who will not be playing with Aerosmith at the Grammys. It’s a sad story.

Teflon Charlie

Today is Tuesday. It’s International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day.

Cam Newton says he’s still in the game. We shall see.

Everyone, from legislators to columnists, is slamming Charlie Baker. But according to polls, among voters he’s still very popular, despite all the issues around vaccine distribution.

The upcoming MBTA service cuts, especially on the commuter rail, are being reworked to provide less trains during rush hour but more regularly scheduled runs throughout the day. It’s an interesting approach, but it’s still an open question whether it will save money while attracting new riders, as the T hopes.

In the smartphone sales race, Samsung always sold more phones while Apple made the most profit on the fewer iPhones it sold. Now, for the first time in a long time, Apple is selling more phones than Samsung – and still selling them at the same higher profit margin.

And the engineering effort required to land the Perseverance rover on Mars was simply amazing. Watching this video of it actually happening is no less amazing.

Turn-key hacking

Back in that Monday mood.

There may be new faces in Boston politics but it’s still the most interesting game in town. Meghan Irons brings us up to speed on the Mayoral race.

Hackers are demanding $20 million dollars from Kia after an attack left owners unable to remotely start their cars. That’s pretty bad but it could have been worse if it affected the car while it was moving. Remember those right to repair scare-tactic commercials from last year where they implied that the independent shops would leak critical data to hackers? Turns out that the weak point was the big dealers all along.

A twenty bedroom home in Maine for $5 million or a five bedroom on the Cape for $7 million? Thankfully, these are they kinds of choices I don’t have to worry about making.

People riding their bike over the frozen Charles River is a thing that happens this time of year. Adam Gaffin rounds up the latest episodes. Also on Reddit.

And there’s more chemistry in cooking scrambled eggs than I would have imagined. But according to this article you can skip all the technical details and just add butter and some starch. And a little tabasco. (That last one is from me.)

The sky is falling

Sunday, February 21st. David Foster Wallace would have been 59 today.

Red wine at room temperature? Not so fast.

The Boing 777 that lost an engine after takeoff yesterday, dropping debris near Denver, was an old airplane. One expert said something like this is extremely rare. But also yesterday, in the Netherlands, an even older 747 experienced the same problem, dropping part of its engine in Meerssen causing damage and some injuries on the ground. Expect a debate on the safety of older airplanes although most aviation experts believe that the quality of regular maintenance, not age, will determine how safe an aircraft is. Both of the aircraft landed safely yesterday. Old planes don’t get to be old planes if they’re not safe planes.

VHS tapes are still a thing. An expensive thing.

Researchers have found new, widely distributed malware on Macs. The code, called Silver Sparrow, has even been updated with a version for the new Apple silicon. What it’s for is a mystery, which is a mystery.

And this smart-watch didn’t measure your heart rate or encourage you to exercise but it was legendary – and way ahead of its time (see what I did there?).

Tentacles of doom

It’s Saturday in a winter wonderland. Happy birthday to Charles Barkley, Patty Hearst and J. Geils.

Kim Janey is off to a good start. Chris Osgood is a ‘get things done’ type of guy who is also easy to work with. And he knows his way around city government. Great choice for chief of staff.

First there was the fail whale. Now we have the much less alliterative “four-armed octopus of doom” to alert us to the broken Massachusetts vaccinate appointment website. The state technology team and software vendor PrepMod continue to trade blame. “It wasn’t our octopus,” a PrepMod spokesperson told the Globe.

Watching the birds waiting for their turn at the feeders this morning I wondered how they keep their feet warm. Apparently it’s all in the circulation.

Here’s something new to worry about. The earth’s magnetic field is due for a shift. Way overdue, actually. Previously scientists didn’t think a pole reversal would be a big deal but a new study is starting to raise alarms. Think Texas, but worldwide and indefinite.

And it’s been 45 years since Frampton Comes Alive! came out. It’s aged like Boone’s Farm.


Friday. Snow is faintly falling.

In an impressive piece of hard hitting journalism, Boston.com ferrets out the best places to cry in the Boston area. There’s even a map. They put a marker on the entire town of Hanover with no explanation. Weird. But then again, so is this entire premise.

There are more problems with the Massachusetts vaccine website. It crashed under load on the day vaccines were opened up to everyone over 65. The state used PrepMod software to set up the site. Hiawatha Bray reports that the company blamed the breakdown on “a sudden and unprecedented surge in traffic to the site.” Meanwhile, a woman who set up a similar website from her kitchen, for free, said her site didn’t crash because she designed it to work off an Internet cloud-based system that has ample capacity for traffic spikes. “Our site is doing just fine, which is great and to be expected, We had, like, thousands of requests per minute.”

Bad news: the Brotherhood of Thieves, on Nantucket, is closing. They lost their lease, so even if they do manage a comeback, it won’t be in the same location.

Perseverance rover made it to Mars. There were some tense moments. Then applause.

And Kalashnikov, maker of the of the AK-47, is releasing a new gun. It has wi-fi and bluetooth and can pair with your phone. Just what we needed.