The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 13, 2001



Ready to disable the cable

Are you as fed up with our cable service as I am? Maybe you have your own horror stories, similar to those related in the letter to the editor below. For me, it was bad enough that we seemed to experience odd service outages only when there was a program scheduled that we particularly wanted to see. But when my cable bill arrived the other day, announcing a rate increase, just as I discovered that one of the few channels I enjoyed watching had been removed from my service, I had had enough. A call to the company, however, left me feeling helpless and, for some reason, reminded me just why I always hated the game of Monopoly. There's very little reason for AT&T to worry about customer service when they're the only game in town. When I heard that there was a possibility of AT&T Broadband becoming the object of a hostile takeover bid, I thought that sealed it who would care about the woes of little Carlisle when giant Comcast was threatening at the gate?

But I haven't lived in this town for so long without learning something from our "town bird," the pesky mosquito. They may be tiny, but just one whining in the dark of your bedroom late at night when you're trying to sleep is enough to bring a grown man to his knees. Perhaps those of us who are so dissatisfied with cable service can put this principle of annoyance to good use by becoming activists. First, go to Town Hall and look at the new proposal that AT&T Broadband has just submitted for the Town of Carlisle. Attend the public hearing on August 14. Voice your complaints every chance you get. If phone calls get you nowhere, send your complaints to Rob Travers, 4 Lyberty Way, Westford, MA, 01886. I plan to become an intimate pen pal of the fellow. I heard the other day that scientists now believe that it was the mosquito that felled Alexander the Great. Isn't that a heartening thought?


"Live With It"

Ever pluck a maggot from a meatloaf and have a surly waitress tell you to "live with it?" Then you know my reaction upon reading one fellow resident's remarks at Town Meeting.

"You move to Carlisle and you live with it," he was quoted as saying in opposition to membership in the Eastern Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project. "West Nile virus is part of living in Carlisle."

So, like it or not, we're all honorary members of the Order of the Dead Crow. The sign should read, ENTERING CARLISLE. COVER UP! Kimball's should serve West Nile Walnut.

"It's not the $12,000 (annual fee) I'm concerned with," he added. "We're not doing the right thing."

I concede that right and wrong are not easily sorted out here. This was doubtless a principled, environmentally sensitive objection to just one course of action. But shouldn't we be doing more to mitigate the mosquito-borne threat of West Nile virus (WNV)? We mortals were meant to get the upper hand over those swarms of vile little nurses probing and poking us with their filthy needles.

Do neighboring towns have mosquito control projects? Every last one of them. I fear we're becoming an island of buggy lunacy in a sea of common sense. True, there are ecological risks from even limited spraying and from alternatives such as the larvicide briquettes favored by Billerica. But are those risks insurmountable? The board of health is poised to attack adult mosquitoes if WNV spreads from birds to humans. Meanwhile, we slap, itch and hide from hungry critters and hope we don't get deathly sick.

Keep in mind that two years ago, WNV killed seven New Yorkers and made 62 others severely ill. "Of course we have it here," that same resident offered resignedly. "Why wouldn't we? We have more mosquitoes than anywhere else."

So we "live with it"­the high-pitched whine in our ears, the welts all over our kids after the picnic, the bloody smear where we smacked one too late, the fear of disease. And don't forget the name of the journal you're holding in one hand while you swat with the other. Mosquitoes, it seems, are our mascots. In the end, having slogged through the muddle of pest control methods and funding, our anti-pesticide neighbor announced, "I'm afraid the cure may be worse than the disease."

Tell that to the parents of Lisa Healy of Dover, Massachusetts, a victim of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). I read about her in the May issue of Yankee. She was 14 in 1982 when her flu symptoms turned to vomiting, seizures, coma and partial paralysis. Today, unable to feed herself, she requires 24-hour care. "There's no cure," her mother is quoted as saying. "Only prevention." The horrors of WNV and EEE still seem miles away. But let just one flying bloodsucker infect and sicken just one Carlislean and someone will be asking, who are the suckers now?

+YEAR+ The Carlisle Mosquito