31 January 2009

Skate!

Thanks to all the friends and supporters of Autism Speaks and Hillsborough's Hope who braved the wind, the cold, and the world's largest traffic jam to come out to the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton today for the Disney On Ice Disneyland Adventure show.



Because of your tremendous support we were able to raise several hundred dollars for autism research.





And the show was pretty good too!



30 January 2009

Comeback Kid?

Congratulations to Hillsborough Township Social Services Director Tamas "Tom" Ormosi on his reelection to the South Bound Brook Boro Council.

Tom was the odd man out in the November election's three-way-tie, finishing several votes back in fourth place. But after a recount and a special election on January 28 he has been returned by the voters for another term.

Good luck Tom!

29 January 2009

Just We Two

I just realized that there are only two "resident" blogs left on the MyCentralJersey.com blog page - Bergeron on Bridgewater and Gillette on Hillsborough. Yes, there are lots of blogs there, but they are all written by paid employees of the Courier News and Home New Tribune.

It wasn't so long ago that Flemington, Somerville, Plainfield, and even North Plainfield, were also represented.

I guess now it's just a battle between Dick Bergeron and me. Who will be the last dummy left to do this for free?

28 January 2009

Tracks Are Clear, Destination is Fuzzy

The Federal Transit Administration has released their "record of decision" on the proposed New Jersey-Manhattan rail tunnel project. This will allow the project to receive matching funds from the federal government.

Why do we care about this in Hillsborough? A second rail tunnel into Manhattan is a prerequisite for potential re-activation of passenger train service on the West Trenton Line - from Trenton, through Hopewell, Montgomery, and Hillsborough. The thought has been that before train service and ridership on NJ Transit could be expanded, there will need to be a route for all of those trains to get into Manhattan. A second rail tunnel will conceivably double train service into the city.

While I agree that a second rail tunnel is needed, and has been for a long time, I am confused about the notion that ALL of New Jersey needs desperately to get to Manhattan. Why is that?

Governor Corzine, in his State of the State address earlier this month, was quite vocal in his support of the project - a project where half of the $10 billion price will be paid for by our state.

I don't think that it has to be a given that so much of our workforce has to travel to Manhattan, that so much of our commerce has to take place in Manhattan.

Imagine if $5 billion were to be spent to once again make Newark a place where people would want to work and conduct business. That's the kind of thing that our governor should be championing - instead of pushing for the conduit that ensures Manhattan's continued dominance.

27 January 2009

One Week

In the 1920 silent film classic "One Week", Buster Keaton gets married, battles his rival, and builds his surreal dreamhouse - all in seven days.



That's a lot to accomplish in a week - especially if you've already been outwitted by those who wish to see you fail.

President Obama's honeymoon isn't going nearly as poorly as Buster's. Let's hope it has a happier ending - with no surprises!

26 January 2009

Never Too Soon to Tell the Truth

Is it too soon to evaluate the presidency of George W. Bush? Not for me.

No doubt there will be countless books written about these past eight years. Historians, experts, insiders, outsiders - all will have their say. I can sum it up for you in one four-letter-word - Iraq.

The Iraq war will be forever linked with President Bush. And because of the war, his presidency was a failure. How could a war, perpetrated from two disgusting lies - that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was behind the 9-11 attacks and that Iraq was building and storing "weapons of mass destruction" - be anything but a total disaster?

Without the lies, the war becomes a war of vengeance - a war to finish the job started in 1991. America is not a vengeful country, Americans are not vengeful people. Americans don't seek revenge, we seek justice. There is no justice in the statement "the world is safer now". That is the statement of a revenge seeking vigilante, not an American seeking justice.

I did not vote for Barack Obama, but if he tells the truth, I will give him a chance.

24 January 2009

Picture This

Would you pay $18,000 for a picture of yourself? Not a painting - a photograph. Yes, it will be big. Maybe six feet across and four feet high.

Interested? The place to find out more is at Hillsborough's own Kramer Portraits, located at Mountainview Plaza on Route 206. They specialize in "Renaissance Portraits" - essentially formal portrait photographs taken in a specially lighted studio with a dramatic painted background.

We had ours done today. The session lasts about thirty minutes - which is just about right for a six-year-old and a nine-year-old, and a forty-four-year-old! Photographer Peter Gelabert took several photos of each of the seven or eight different set-ups.

We will get our first look at how they turned out in a couple of weeks when we return to the studio to choose which pose we want printed, applied to a canvas backing, touched up with pencils, dyes and oils, and framed. And most importantly we need to choose which size will look just right in our home.

P.S. We're not getting the $18,000 one!

23 January 2009

It Ain't Over Til...

There will be a special election on Wednesday, January 28, to determine the final 2009 South Bound Brook council seat. The voting in November ended in a three-way tie - and in a subsequent recount Dennis Quinlan picked up two votes and was declared a winner for one of the two contested seats. Read about it here.

Because the special election can only have one Republican and one Democratic candidate, incumbent Republican Tamas "Tom" Ormosi, who actually finished fourth(!) by several votes the first time around will be on the ballot opposing one of the Democratic challengers.

Tom is Hillsborough Township's Director of Social Services, and also volunteers his time to the Hillsborough-Millstone Municipal Alliance.

Go, Tom, Go!

22 January 2009

Sleepwalker, Sleeptalker, Sleepdriver, Sleep....

When I posted yesterday about the man who died shortly after a sleepwalking escapade in the snow at the Duke estate in 1907, I was unaware of the recent story of the Hayward, Wisconsin man who froze to death after sleepwalking in sub-zero temperatures on January 13. This newest tragedy may have been helped along by Ambien, a drug that the sleepwalker took to help him, well, sleep. Hey, it works!

Apparently there are better, and worse, things to do while sleeping - walking is only the beginning. Take a look here.

21 January 2009

The Somnambulist

[Edited on 7 December 2016 to add images and change the format]

In the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, February 27, 1907, as night watchman Frederick Connors completed his rounds at the snow-covered Duke's Park - the sprawling Hillsborough Township estate of tobacco tycoon James B. Duke - something didn't seem right. 


Statuary in Duke's Park. Postcard circa 1915.
There should have been four marble statues surrounding the central figure of The Three Graces, but Connors counted five. Under the light of the nearly full moon, he approached and counted again. It was then that he made an astonishing discovery.

Looking back towards the Nevius Street Bridge
 from the Raritan Gate Entrance at Duke's Park Postcard circa 1906.

The fifth figure was his Raritan neighbor, the mason William Harding, nearly naked, frozen in the snow with arms outstretched. The newspapers reported Harding to be 65 years old, but he was actually closer to 75. He was awake, and gave a shriek when Connors took hold of him, but was unable to speak. It was then that Connors realized the seriousness of the situation. Harding's arms were frozen stiff, and his feet were frozen to the ground.


The fountain outside the Raritan Gate at Duke's Park,
where the road bends northward towards the Nevius Street Bridge. 

Connors called for assistance, and with some difficulty they were able to carry Harding back over the Nevius Street Bridge to the boiler room of the power house, where Harding was able to thaw out and tell them what happened. 


1 March 1907, New Brunswick Daily Times

Since the death of his wife just three months previous, Harding had not been sleeping well, and in fact had begun sleepwalking. Late on the night of February 26th, he walked out of his home on Doughty Street wearing just his drawers - no shoes or socks - crossed the bridge, down the long avenue to the Duke's Park Raritan Gate, past the elaborate fountain with the bronze statues, and into the park - a distance of about one mile. By the time he woke up, he was frozen to the spot where he stood.

The New Brunswick Daily Times reported that Harding's feet and arms were so badly frostbitten that they would probably have to be amputated. In any event, Harding never really recovered from his nighttime visit to the park, and passed away at his home in Raritan on March 21, 1907.






20 January 2009

Now Comes the Hard Part

Thomas Edison, never so crass as to declare himself a genius, stated at a press conference in 1929, "None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes. What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration."

We've heard a lot about inspiration this past year. We've been told by the media, repeatedly, that President Obama has "inspired" people. I just can't figure out exactly what he has inspired people to do. In fact, I don't think many of those that have been inspired by the Obama campaign and election have figured out what they are supposed to do.

That's not to say that I am not in favor of inspiration, or haven't been inspired myself. The first time I went to a baseball game I wanted to be Tom Seaver - the first time I saw A Hard Day's Night I wanted to be Paul McCartney - the first time I read The Pit and the Pendulum I wanted to be Edgar Allan Poe - and so on. And I surely made attempts to be like all of my early idols.

But when Americans are asked how Barack Obama has inspired them, the answer tends to be not about action, but about feelings. He makes people feel optimistic. He makes people feel hopeful. He makes people feel better about themselves and the world.

Freshman congressman Leonard Lance was even quoted in the newspaper as saying, "That an African-American can run successfully for president . . . is a demonstration of our continuing hope in America."

Mr. Lance is right on - but hope alone isn't going to get the job done. Hope is the one percent in Edison's equation.

Now comes the hard part.

19 January 2009

Red Wagon Gourmet

I was saddened to read about the temporary closure of Red Wagon Gourmet due to water damage from a faulty sprinkler system just before Christmas. I certainly hope co-owners Shannon Garrity and Nadine Murtha will be able to re-open soon.

Red Wagon Gourmet has been an asset to Hillsborough since it opened in March of last year. Ms. Garrity and Ms. Murtha have donated enthusiaistically to numerous Hillsborough area fundraising events over the last nine months - and are now asking the community for assistance on getting back on their feet.

I suspect the best assistance we can give is to give them our business when they do re-open.

I can't wait!

18 January 2009

Where the Sidewalk Ends

"You can't get there from here." This exasperating phrase supposedly originated in Maine, but could also apply to a lot of New Jersey towns - even Hillsborough!

What started me thinking about this old saying was not the recently begun 6-month bridge replacement project on Amwell Road, the numerous designated bike lanes that don't connect with each other, nor even the snarl of traffic most days on Route 206. It started with a walk - and a deadly sin.

Yes, I'll admit it, I have been tempted over the last week or so by the promise of free coffee at WaWa. You have to buy one of those breakfast sandwiches - but that's o.k., I like those too. Yet, I really don't need to eat like that every day. What to do?

My solution was to walk. I could walk the entire length of Triangle Road from Beekman Lane to the Triangle Center, and it wouldn't even be a 5 mile round trip! I can do that!

The problem is the sidewalk on the north side of Triangle Road ends at Farm Road. Now, I know that doesn't stop a lot of residents - I see many walking on the lawns in that area. But I feel safer walking on the sidewalk - it's where drivers expect pedestrians to be.


View Larger Map

Over the years, Hillsborough has been very proactive in building sidewalks and requiring sidewalks in new commercial and residential development. That's why I am asking the powers that be, for the sake of my health, please build the missing piece of sidewalk between Farm Road and the Triangle Center!

Either that, or ban free coffee!

17 January 2009

Call to Action

At the Hillsborough Township reorganization meeting on January 6, newly appointed mayor Frank DelCore spoke about the current economic conditions, and proposed an "economic action plan" to help area businesses survive and thrive during this downturn. But before there can be any "action", there has to be a "plan"!

Already three key elements of the plan have been implemented. The Grants and Shared Services Committee has been re-established with key department heads in place of resident volunteers. This is a superb idea, as department heads look for ways to trim their budgets.

The township committee also announced the creation of a Regulatory Oversight Working Group, chaired by Building Department Director Ron Skobo. The State of New Jersey is well known for its onerous regulations and red tape - corporations and businesses large and small are fleeing the state, heading to Pennsylvania and other points west and south. It's important for Hillsborough to see what we can do on the local level to keep business here.

And, finally, Business Advocate Gene Strupinsky, aka the hardest working man in Hillsborough, has now been authorized to work a full-time schedule. Having this type of full-time position will put us on a par with our larger neighbors, and will give the business community greater access to the Business Advocate's office.

All in all, this is a good start for the 2009 township committee. Now that the plan is in place, it's time to see some action!

16 January 2009

Disney On Ice - Disnelyand Adventure

There's still plenty of time to get your tickets to this fun show, and help support a great cause. Click on the flier below for details.


15 January 2009

John Wilkes Booth Green

On December 17, 1872, deep in the heart of Texas, a baby boy was born to Gustavus and Millicent Green. Gus had served in the Civil War, fighting for his native Texas in the Confederate 21st regiment Texas Cavalry. Millicent's roots were in South Carolina. And their baby's name - John Wilkes Booth Green.

Would you name your child after this man?

Coincidence? Not likely. Nineteenth century United States Census reports show none of the other Green children listed with even ONE middle name, let alone two.

After the news last week of Shop Rite refusing to write the name "Adolf Hitler" on the birthday cake of a Holland Township couple's three-year-old son, I wondered when this phenomenon began. Is this a product of today's world?

I am certainly not equating the worldwide abomination that was Hitler with the assassination of one American President at the close of the Civil War - except that in both 1872 and 2005 each set of parents has taken the naming of their child after a notorious figure to be some sort of statement.

Adolf Hitler Campbell may be unique, but that was not the case for John Wilkes Booth Green. In the years following Lincoln's assassination, parents all over the south bestowed the ignominious appellation on their boys.

John Wilkes Booth O'Brien of North Carolina, born 1870; John Wilkes Booth Sharp of Georgia, born 1871; John Wilkes Booth Wagoner of West Virginia, born 1873; and John Wilkes Booth Shipley of Arkansas, born 1874, to name a few.

What happened to J.W.B. Green? He served as an army sergeant in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, then returned to Marble Falls, Texas where he worked as a clerk for the Hundley-Marrs Company - whatever that was.

No word on what name he used on his birthday cake.

14 January 2009

Don't Mess with the Meal Ticket

The Courier News switched to a proprietary blog format for their web site in the spring of last year. Since that time, I have continued to post to this blog, and have selected about half of these posts to copy to the new MyCentralJersey.com blog.

This has worked out well, as I have generally chosen the most Hillsborough-centric entries for the new site. Likewise, the Courier News editors have excerpted nearly all of those for inclusion on the editorial page of the print newspaper.

Until I complained about Kohl's in the blog titled Economic Slowdown. I waited and waited for it to show up in the paper. Pretty naive!

For the record - I love Kohl's! I love that it is three miles from my front door. I love that you don't have to go to the mall. I love that there is always parking. I love the prices and selection. I just think the clerks AND customers are too slow at the checkout, the discounts take too long to explain, and the returns take too long to process.

I guess you can bash the post office, the governor, even fellow residents - just don't mess with the meal ticket!

13 January 2009

You've Got a Lot of Spirit, Right?!?!?

Like a scene straight out of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Governor Jon Corzine delivered his lame pep rally - also known as the State of the State Address - Tuesday afternoon in Trenton. "You know, it takes alot of courage to get up here and do something that you know people will make fun of."

Hey Jon, you're no Spirit Bunny.

Talk your sad talk all you want. Eventually you have to DO something. Don't remind me of all the wonderful things you've done over the last year. If they had made any difference at all we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now.

All of the manufacturing is gone, the pharmaceutical jobs are moving out, even telecommunications are on the brink. But you just keep doling out that "extraordinary aid" to the big cities.

Is that the plan? Anything to keep the voters voting and the sad machine turning. You know, that really bugs the crap out of me.

12 January 2009

Occupied or Preoccupied?

Regular readers of this blog may recall that my mother was injured in a very serious auto accident on August 31. While her condition has improved somewhat over these last 4 and a half months - and does not appear to be life-threatening - she is still working to recuperate, progress has been slow, and she remains hospitalized.

I have been so preoccupied with the details of my mother's rehabilitation, especially this past week, that the "blog machine" has become nearly immobilized. I just can't sit down and write anything without my mind wandering away.

I have been thinking of some topics, but most of them seem trivial: Shop Rite's free antibiotics, the Hillsborough Township reorganization, the big barn at 206 and Raider Boulevard, sidewalks, Red Wagon Gourmet, a century of privacy - and lots of other things. I can't seem to get started.

05 January 2009

Quit Coffee?

Quit coffee? Sure, I gave it a thought again this year, as I have almost every year since I began to noticeably increase my consumption about five years ago. But New Year's came and went, and here I am, not so resolute.

This year central New Jersey's very own Law Coffee will celebrate it's 100th birthday. The first batch was brewed by Walter Law in his barn in Dunellen in 1909, and sold door to door by horse-drawn wagon. The company soon expanded into the wholesale business, supplying markets, restaurants, and other food service businesses.

In Hillsborough, the place to get a fresh brewed cup of Law Coffee is at the Plaza Deli in Mountain View Plaza on Route 206. Stop by and get a cup to go - you'll be supporting TWO area businesses. I may even drink more coffee this year than I did last year.

Anything for the local economy!