Saturday, December 26, 2009

Easy Christmas Presents

Madalyn wears her pearls.
Norwich, Conn.
December 25, 2009

Best wishes to all for a safe and happy holiday season.

Each year since my niece and goddaughter, Madalyn, was one, I have purchased her an inch of pearls for an add-a-pearl necklace. Since she's now 8, the necklace is starting to have substance.

The add-a-pearl necklace was the brainchild of my friend Kim, who came to my rescue when my brother asked me to be Madalyn's godfather. The idea receives nothing but praise. Each year when I add the pearls, patrons who witness my request at the Shreve Crump & Low jeweler in Boston's Back Bay tell me how great an uncle I am.

The truth is, the add-a-pearl necklace concept is idiot proof. Even for me. I show up at the jeweler with the pearls each December, shortly after Thanksgiving, and ask them to add an inch. They re-confirm the size of the pearls, string them, an adjust the size of the chain so it will fit around Madalyn's neck. All I do is hand over my credit card.

I am told pearls are timeless, so Madalyn will find life-long use from the necklace, which will be full length when she's a freshman in college.

Death Sucks

Charles Levanto

Charles Levanto October 2, 1950 - December 20, 2009 Lisbon - Charles F. Levanto, 59, husband of Regina (Dzialo) Levanto of John St., Lisbon died Sunday evening at Backus Hospital. Born in Norwich on October 2, 1950 he is the son of Rita (Shalkowski) Levanto of Norwich and the late John Levanto, and was a graduate of the Norwich Free Academy class of 1968. On March 22, 1975 in St. Mary Church in Greenville he was united in marriage to Regina (Dzialo) Levanto. Prior to his retirement he was employed as a rigger at Electric Boat. Mr. Levanto was an active sportsman in several local leagues. Surviving is his wife, mother, a brother David Levanto and his wife Bonnie of Mystic, and four nephews Mark Levanto, Scott Levanto, Ross Levanto, and Brett Levanto. A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday at 9 a.m. at St. Mary Church, Central Ave., Norwich with burial to follow in St. Joseph Cemetery. In lieu of flowers memorial donation may be made to St. Vincent de Paul Place, 10 Railroad Place, Norwich, CT 06360. Arrangements by the Labenski Funeral Home.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Photo of the Year

A toast with mom & dad.
South Lyme, Conn.
July 18, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why Coakley Won

Congratulations to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who won Tuesday's Democratic primary and is now the party's nominee to succeed the late Senator Ted Kennedy. While I voted for Congressman Capuano, the Attorney General and the Congressman share the same stances on all the issues I care about. I will vote for Martha Coakley on January 19, and I am proud to support her and help her win the election.

I also must congratulate the Coakley campaign. I did think she would win Tuesday, but I had no idea she would win by as much as she did. The victory demonstrates to me the power of a state-wide organization and a shortened campaign. Given this was a special election, it just was too much of an obstacle for Congressman Capuano to put together the field organization necessary to challenge a state-wide office holder.

At the same time, Martha Coakley is an impressive candidate. She was criticized during the campaign for being too cool, but the reality is her record does speak for itself. She has built a career representing the interests of the Commonwealth, and she is a fellow Boston University grad.

Thanks to Congressman Capuano, Alan Khazei and Steve Pagliuca for a fine special primary season. Martha Coakley will make for a great Senator, and for that reason, the process worked.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Beacon Hill Receives Its Holiday Feel

Charles Street
Beacon Hill, Boston
December 5, 2009

The sprinkle of rain did not deter the nearly 100 volunteers who decorated my neighborhood yesterday. Above, long-time decorating weekend volunteer Rick Villars works with new Beacon Hill residents Lili Furst (with Santa hat) and Christine Roberts (on ladder). The more than 1100 lamp posts on the Hill will be wrapped with garlands and fitted with bows this weekend.

Yesterday saw dozens of volunteers from Suffolk University as well as new and "seasoned" decorating weekend faces. The event is organized by the Beacon Hill Civic Association and is funded entirely by donations.

The decorating wraps up today, with activity on streets throughout the neighborhood. If you want to help out, come to the parking lot next Savenors on Charles Street any time after noon. There's a special party for volunteers at 5 p.m. tonight at 74 Joy Street.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Endorsement: Congressman Mike Capuano

Making a pick in a Democratic primary is hard. All of the candidates, in general, share my opinions on almost all of the key issues. Take Cape Wind. While I loved the late Senator Kennedy dearly, he and I disagreed on Cape Wind. I love the project, think it's a model of what we should support moving forward, and think construction on the offshore wind farm should begin right away. Senator Kennedy disagreed with me.

But that's not an issue in the upcoming primary, which will pick the Democrat vying for Senator Kennedy' s seat. All of the candidates support Cape Wind.

When candidates agree on the issues, the race is about personalities, and one's pick is, by definition, personal. Political journalist R.D. Sahl summarized this race quite appropriately earlier this week. Mike Capuano, he said, is too hot; Martha Coakley, too cold; Alan Khezei, too wonky; and Steve Pagliuca, too rich.

It would appear, in my case, that I like it hot. I am voting for Congressman Mike Capuano this coming Tuesday, December 8, in the Massachusetts special Democratic primary for the United States Senate.

Congressman Capuano has reached out to me the most in this race. I received two phone calls at home inviting me to live town hall conference calls with him. In one case I got to ask him a question. I was invited to a special conference call for Boston bloggers, and I ended up writing about my conversation.

But that attention is not the reason he's got my vote. I like a lot of what the Congressman has said:

-- He's levelheaded about Afghanistan and Pakistan. Congressman Capuano disagrees with the President's decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan, as do all the candidates. But the Congressman has actually been to the region. He speaks with an authority on the topic that his opponents cannot match. He also has a sophisticated understanding of the reality inside Pakistan. As a Senator, he will be looked to for leadership on the issue.

-- He doesn't apologize for his principles. Calling him hot might be a bit of hyperbole, but the point is clear. Congressman Capuano stands for what he believes in. He's passionate. He's not afraid to break a sweat or have a hair out of place in pursuit of his goals. I like it when my politicians look like they are working hard. Capuano is working the hardest in this race, in my opinion.

-- He understands how Capitol Hill works. Legislation is a process. Congress moves slowly. While my U.S. Senator should hold steadfast to their core beliefs, Senator Kennedy's biggest achievements came from compromise. And compromise requires an understanding of the ins and outs of Washington. Congressman Capuano has been there and will be able to make an impact from day one. Some of the statements made by his opponents lead me to believe they don't understand the process as well as they should.

I can't believe Tuesday is the primary. The predicted low turnout brings into the question the concept of these special elections. Think about it-- a very small group of voters who bother to go to the polls on Tuesday will be picking the potential next United States Senator, and that Senator will likely hold the seat for a very long time. After careful consideration, Congressman Capuano is my pick. Regardless of who you choose, get out and vote!