It’s an Unending Flow of Information

Every day, twice a day, more mail arrives on my desk in Boston. Once a day, at the Post Office in Westfield. Some of it good, some of it garbage.

But always something to learn from.

After the usual and expected things–drafts and letters and annual reports on things like the budget, the economy, elections, and state departments–and after the personal mail about layoffs and funding and complaints and problems–comes some interesting stuff. Set aside to read when there’s a free hour or two.

Back in 1961, when a relative of my husband went into a nursing home, the cost was $75 a month. Today, around $5,000 a month, depending on location. Last year, 24 Massachusetts nursing homes closed. Another 25 are projected to close this year. The reason? They don’t make enough money to cover expenses, let alone keep the doors open. This will affect about 55,000 employees, 50,000 patients and hundreds of thousands of family members.

Last year, the Western Massachusetts Food Bank provided food to 172,916 different people. That’s 21 percent of your neighbors. One in five children lives in a family that struggles to put bread on the table.

Twenty-two percent of the state’s budget is local aid, Chapters 70 and 90, schools and roads and bridges. Slightly less, 21 percent, goes to Medicaid. Health and human services get 19 percent, debt service is 6 percent, and higher ed and pensions each get 5 percent.

The FBI reports that one in four adult women will be sexually assaulted. And, one in twelve men. The numbers haven’t changed in the past decade.

Nurses in Massachusetts want the legislature to follow California’s lead and mandate minimum patient-to-nurse ratios. Hospital ratios vary from surgical units to trauma units. Massachusetts has the highest per capita population of nurses in the nation, but we’re facing a shortage because nurses are leaving the field, and the Mass Nurses Association tells me that’s because of staffing levels.

Some 15,490 people work in Westfield. Half of all traffic fatalities in Massachusetts are alcohol related. In Massachusetts, 10,200 people die each year from smoking. One in 17 students has had sexual intercourse before age 13. Substance abuse costs us $442 per person in the state.

When kids talk about trees or blunts or chronic, they’re talking about marijuana. Smack or dope is heroin. Blow, girl snow? Cocaine. And peace, purple haze or white blotter refer to LSD.

What do teachers like in a classroom? Well, carpeting is their favorite flooring. When it comes to design, they have concerns about, in order, safety, comfort, lighting, acoustics, and climate control.

Average annual cost of child care in Massachusetts (day care) is $10,985 for an infant and $9,820for a toddler.

Lobsters are capable of "reflex amputation." They can discard a limb to prevent more serious injury and then regenerate some body parts like claws, legs and antennae. Basically, they seem to be indifferent to pain compared to humans.

Red bellied cooters are an endangered species in Massachusetts. So, they’re getting a little help from their human friends. These cooters are Plymouth red bellied turtles, and the death rate of the eggs, delicacies for skunks and raccoons. So people take care of the hatchlings, giving them post-natal care for a year before setting them loose in the wild. The survival rate is much better.

We’re thinking about making the legal lengths of trailers longer and eliminating the width of awnings when looking at the 102 inch maximum width of on the road regulations.

Things I don’t plan to read include "Coal Ash: An Environmentally Compatible Byproduct of Electricity Generation/A Massachusetts Perspective." Maybe they’ll just send me a summary.

Quote of the week: "The Legislature should mandate and fund a longer school year (200 days) for students." Massachusetts Education Reform Review Commission.

All materials copyright 1997 - 2014