Help Katrina refugees this Sunday

This Sunday, September 18, Otto's Angels will collect items to be sent directly to refugee families in Louisiana.

The collection will take place from 9am to 3pm at Marty's Furniture, 99 Washington Street in Melrose (1/2 mile from the Oak Grove T station). They need donations of common household goods (toiletries, newly purchased underwear, bed linens, baby items -- see below for a full list). They also need volunteers that day to help collect and sort the donations.

For more information, read the message below from Stephanie Wilson, who directs Otto's Angels.

From: [email protected]
Subject: Katrina Update #3
Date: September 15, 2005 8:41:16 AM EDT

Hey all

I wanted to send an update about the donation drive that was held on Saturday (9/10) and Sunday (9/11) in the parking lot of Kiss108. I cannot even describe the overwhelming response we received. The donations came by the car load until the end. It was just amazing!! We want to say thank you to those who donated, KISS108 and the Citizen Action Team for helping to make this a success!

We filled an 18-wheeler Saturday, which left for Louisiana that night. It got to LA on Tuesday and was greeted by many families and shelter representatives who are not being helped by major organizations such as Red Cross & Salvation Army. Sunday we filled two 17’ Ryder trucks, one 14’ U Haul truck, and one and a half 24' Roadway trucks.

How to HELP:
1. We are so excited with the response that we have decided to hold another drive this Sunday (9/18/05) from 9am - 3pm. Due to the prediction of rain, we are moving the drop-off site to Marty's Furniture - 99 Washington St, Melrose, MA 02176

2. We are in need of VOLUNTEERS for this weekend's drive to help sort donations. If you are interested in volunteering or if you know anyone that is interested, please send an email to Claire D’Anna at [email protected] with the day and time you are available. We are asking that you make a commitment of at least two hours. If you can’t commit to two hours then any time donated would be greatly appreciated.

3. We are also looking for someone to donate an 18 WHEELER or PLANE and a driver/pilot who will be willing to donate their time to pick up the donations we currently have in storage and drive them to Lafayette, Lousiana. We also need a smaller truck (thinking 14' box truck) to pick items up at a few different sites that are gathering items. We also need supplies for packing - Packaging tape & BOXES!

4. Donate money to help us pay for the gas to get the trucks down to La. Any 'excess' money will be used to purchase more items of need directly in Louisiana/Mississippi. (checks payable to Ottos Angels - drop in office mail or mail to my home - 64 Bayswater St #2 Boston, MA 02128)

5. Drop-sites -
a. Stephanie Wilson's home - 64 Bayswater St #2, Boston MA 02128, let me know when you would need to deliver ([email protected]) through Saturday, September 17th.
b. Mari Quirk's home - 141 West 2nd Street South Boston MA 02127, call Mari's cell to arrange a drop-off 617.680.4607
c. Sunday, September 18th from 9am - 3pm @ Marty's Furniture - 99 Washington St, Melrose, MA 02176 (see below for directions)

If possible please sort, box, & label all donations. This will help the volunteers save time sorting and boxing all the bags that come in.
See below at the end of the email from Beverly Wilson, there is a list of the items that are in more need...summary is to focus on household items and not on clothes.

Thank you to all who have donated!!!!!
Stephanie Wilson
Otto's Angels
[email protected]

A note from my mom, Beverly, who is running the Otto's Angels operations in Lafayette, LA:

Hi All - An exciting Otto's Angels Update -

EVERYONE - congratulations for all the donations of goods, time, and resources!!! The HUGE, full truck arrived at the warehouse 5:15ish on Tuesday and was unloaded in three hours. Boston did exceptionally wonderful things for the victims of Katrina.

We called representatives of eight families to the warehouse to select and leave with the things they selected to meet their needs. They were like children in a candy store. It was heart-warming to see these young men (late twenties and early thirties and their elderly mother and uncle) thinking
beyond themselves and picking up baby and young children's things first.

The truck y'all sent took up about 1/10th of the warehouse - 7/10ths was already taken up by four other groups with whom we will be participating. All of these groups have the same interest of reaching people who are not yet receiving help from the big organizations such as Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Goodwill. Those big organizations are for-the-most-part busy servicing those people who have made it to the shelters they are overseeing.

We are, however, hearing different stories about what is happening at the large shelters in Baton Rouge and how those refugees are being cared for..I'm so proud to be from Lafayette, with such caring people. We're checking into the Baton Rouge situation and will help there if we have and can provide the resources that are needed and can improve the situation. If it is people, we are limited in that respect because of what we face here.

We want to get the items in the warehouse out as quickly as possible because we have four more trucks already scheduled to come. Three are Wal Mart trucks bringing new clothes:) HOORAY for Wal Mart.

We have new issues now facing us in LA:
1.First is the large number of volunteers we need to spend time in the warehouse organizing the massive amount of clothing into sizes so we can find the sizes people need. It is our finding that no one wants more than they can or will use, so they only want the sizes they wear. They, at present, have no or very little space to store personal items because they are in a shelter, a friend's or family member's home, motel, or church space.

We really do NOT want any more clothes unless they are NEW so they can easily be sorted by size and gender.

Directors of Otto's Angels are meeting to address several areas the problem this many unsorted pieces of clothing bring up.

2.Second to address is getting the thousands of items and clothes out to the people in need quickly. Spread the word that our warehouse is there and that we are wanting to help those in need!

3.Security directives for our volunteers in whatever capacity they are serving.

packaging tape & dispensers
water for volunteers

Clothes racks and hangers

Bed linens
Luggage which can help keep things organized
calling cards
Sturdy garbage bags
Can openers
**Food - Canned goods, nonperishable items
Special needs food for Diabetics
*** REMEMBER - people are starting from scratch in relation to setting up a house - they need the basics!!!!

Toiletries which are used up quickly such as deodorant, etc.
Black hair products
New underwear - both sexes, all sizes-children and adults(bigger sizes)
Feminine products

Diapers, new born to toddlers
Pull-ups too
Baby blankets, new pacifiers, baby wipes, baby powder & lotions
Strollers, car seats,

Keep up the great work you are doing whether it be with us or whoever! Let me know if you want to be taken off this email. :)

More later,
And Otto's Angels
Want to help? See

Sunday's Drop-site Directions:
The locale for this Sunday is Marty's Furniture in Melrose at 99 Washington Street. For volunteers taking the T, take the orange line to Oak Grove. When you come up the escalator, turn right and take the stairs down to Washington Street. Turn right on Washington Street and go about 500 yards. The furniture store is in an old mill- giant brick building. Website for more info is

Here are driving directions copied from their website:
From Boston & Points South:
Take Route 93 North to Exit # 34 (Stoneham-Melrose Exit). Take a right at the lights. Go past the Stone Zoo on the right-hand side. Take the first left after the Stone Zoo (at Melrose Sign). Go straight for approximately (1) mile past J.J. Grimsby's restaurant. At the one mile mark turn right onto Pleasant Street before the railroad tracks. Go for approximately (1/2) mile and Marty's Furniture Building is the big brick industrial building on your left.

From Points West of Boston:
(From Burlington Mall) Take Route 128 North. Take Exit 37A (Route 93 South). Approximately 1 1/2 on Route 93 South. Take Exit 35 (Winchester Highlands-Melrose Exit). Take left off Exit then take first right. Continue down road, go straight through set of lights past Friendly's Ice Cream. Then you will pass the Stone Zoo. Take the first left after the Stone Zoo (at Melrose Sign). Go straight for approximately (1) mile past J.J. Grimsby's restaurant. At the one mile mark turn right onto Pleasant Street before the railroad tracks. Go for approximately (1/2) mile and Marty's Furniture Building is the big brick industrial building on your left.

From Points North of Boston:
Take Route 1 South to the Lynn Fells Parkway (Exit after the Prince Pizza Leaning Tower Restaurant). Continue down Lynn Fells Parkway straight into Melrose. Continue straight past (6) sets of lights, (8 including the (2) blinking yellow lights at the High School on the right, which you will pass). At the 5th set you will see J.J. Grimsby's Restaurant on the left. Turn left at the set of lights. Go down the street for approximately (1) mile. Turn right at Pleasant Street (before the train tracks). Proceed down Pleasant street for about (1/2) mile and Marty's Furniture is the big brick industrial building on your left.

Take Route 1 South. Right on Essex Street. Left on Main Street. Right on W. Wyoming Avenue. Right on Pleasant Street (1/2) mile and we are on the right.

From Malden Square:
Take Main Street towards Melrose. After Kappy's Liquors first set of lights take left onto Winter Street. Then take right at set of lights at Oak Grove MBTA Station. Continue down Washington Street for (1/2) mile and we are on the right.

Stephanie Wilson | | *: [email protected] | PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP | Systems and Process Assurance
125 High Street | Boston, MA 02110 |(phone) 617.530.5297 | (fax) 813.207.1092 | (cell) 203.482.4399

Design and Fenway Park

Jason, normally a New York blogger, is in town for a design meeting. He attended a session at Fenway park on how Fenway has evolved over time. Interesting info worth a look (who knew the right field wall was once 500 feet from home plate?), although he takes at face value a claim by a Sox official that

they're trying to maintain a variety of ticket prices to keep the diversity level high ...

Boston's worst land deals

At-large city-council candidate Kevin McCrea posts a list of the 27 worst land deals arranged or allowed by the city, from luxury hotels in the Back Bay getting tax breaks to:

Joseph LaRosa
The neighborhoods of Hyde Park, Roslindale, Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, South Boston and West Roxbury have all been affected by Mr.La Rosa's substandard housing construction. Constituent home-owners will attend this hearing to give testimony on the damage they have incurred. City building agencies are also implicated because of their lack of response to complaints and negligence in upholding the State Building Code. ...

Advice to newcomers

Eileen reposts a list of things Boston newcomers need to know, including phrases guaranteed to get you punched in the face in a bar:

"26 World Championships"

"Dude, I don't care if you are from Southie, what are you gonna do- fraction me to death?"

"Charlestown- isn't that where all the Yuppies live?"

"Peyton Manning is a better quarterback than Tom Brady."

"Fidelity Investments is loaded with douchebags."

"Hey, say park my car in Harvard Yard."

Marriage records

This is my first visit to a blog. So very interesting. I am trying to find out if a long lost friend of mine from Boston is married. I went to the Registry website but there was no information on marriages in Boston online. Are there any other websites out there about Boston marriage records?

The Garden as our Superdome?

WBUR had an interesting interview this morning with Carlo Boccia, Boston's homeland-security director (the interview requires RealPlayer).

Boccia says the city's current plan for a Katrina-like diaster is called "Exodus," and basically involves trying to move everybody out of the city. The exodus would be speeded up by making major thoroughfares one way out of town, jiggering traffic-light cycles (I admit it: I snorted at that) and by working with the MBTA to get as many people out as fast as possible. But he added Katrina made city officials realize they also had to prepare to take care of large numbers of people who, for whatever reasons, did not leave in time.

The city already has "a network of hotels and residences" (darn, Oakes did not ask him where) ready for this, but he's looking at a system in which equipment and supplies would be ready to house in-city evacuees for long periods of time - from stocking up on food to having spare dialysis machines in place: basically, turning them into "embellished bomb shelters of the '50s."

Wrong, wrong wrong, says David Stephenson, our very own private-sector homeland-security consultant:

Boston or other cities might be able to do this better (but I think that's extremely unlikely: there are simply too many imponderables, such as damage to the structure itself, inability of trucks to get through to refuel the emergency generators, etc., etc. -- if any one element fails, the whole thing unravels). However, it's the fundamental idea of congregating large numbers of people in a confined area that won't work. Concentrate that many people who are already stressed out in a given area, especially a group with a disproportionate percentage of psychological issues to start with and I'll guarantee there will be serious problems. ...

We don't need large-scale evacuations to a single behemoth facility, but decentralized ones. There's no easy way out of this situation. ...

Note: As mentioned above, I'm curious which hotels and residences would become home to possibly thousands of Bostonians in a diaster. Alas, access to the city's homeland-security Metro Boston Regional Plan is password protected. I've written to the person listed on the page for access - or the reason it's not considered a public document.

What if it happened here?

The dangers of automation

That was some storm that just passed through here. And through it all, we could hear the "tik tik tik" of our neighbor's new automatic sprinkler, going full blast as the rain poured down.

Shanna reports on the storm from East Cambridge:

... My workspace faces away from our windows, so I could enjoy the sound of the rain without being distracted by the view outside. Here and there a flash of lightning reflected off of the unused glass (interior) door in front of me, but overall the storm seemed relatively quiet.

Until, of course, I nearly fell out of my seat in response to a roar of thunder roughly equivalent in volume to a 747 engine lodged into one's skull. ...

Be: We so needed a good, soaking storm like this.