The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 11, 2002



When the sun came out on a world covered with a fresh light fluffy snow last Tuesday morning, it was winter as it should be: white, cold, still, magical. A sign that the world is still on its proper axis.

In this issue we review the events of 2001. For the most part, life in Carlisle in 2001 appeared to proceed with a degree of normalcy, although we know that the events of September 11 overshadowed everything. We were brutalized not only by a vicious attack but by the disturbing fact that we did not recognize an enemy with global reach and did not comprehend his mission or motives or methods, which were incredibly simple and visible. How can we now feel confident in our security and our ability to understand our world and its dangers?

But confident or not, time has moved on, the seasons have turned, and a new year has arrived. Though nothing has changed except one arbitrary digit in the date, it feels like a fresh start. The true reason for optimism is that we are alive. Like an overnight snowfall that suddenly makes the world look new, life is a cycle of physical and spiritual renewal.

Happy New Year!

A taxing diet

By now, most Americans have broken at least two of the three most common New Year's resolutions: lose a couple pounds, lose a couple dozen pounds, lose enough to buy clothes not labeled "Sumo." Unfortunately, most folks' inability to stick to a regimen of dieting and exercise usually leads to increased anxiety, which generally causes ­ you guessed it ­ more eating.

Why making and keeping resolutions is so difficult for so many is a mystery to me. I've always found the new year to be the perfect time to consider ways to improve myself and provide the impetus to tackle numerous projects. Of course, I'm still within hailing distance of my college weight (although much of it has relocated lower on my torso) so losing weight is not usually on my resolution radar screen.

The trick to making successful resolutions is being realistic; that is, finding things you not only would like to do, but might do even without making a resolution. For instance, this year I made three easily achievable resolutions that I'd likely do anyhow: stretch for five minutes each morning, repair the broken door on the hutch, and figure out a way to lower Carlisle's property taxes. Ha ha! Just kidding about the stretching. Too much like exercise ­ another common resolution that's never kept.

So, that leaves the hutch and taxes. I think that I can handle the former alone, but I'll need some help with the latter. Which is where you come in. (And you thought you were going to get away with just reading this commentary.) Barely a week into the new year, I've already come up with five sure-fire strategies for lowering our taxes. But I'm not sure which would be best received by the community, so I need your help. Here are my ideas.

· Sell Gleason Library to Barnes & Noble. Not only will we gain much-needed tax revenues while eliminating the cost of the library's upkeep, but we'll also be able to sip a double mocha, Brazilian blend, decaf latte while reading the latest from Oprah's book list. Not being able to actually take books home to read would be a minor sacrifice in the name of fiscal sanity.

· Turn the Town Forest into a theme park for inner-city children. We'll call it "Nimby Adventure" and charge them $5 each to take educational tours that explain exactly why Carlisle's pine trees and vernal pools are more critical to a productive society than low-cost housing.

· Privatize the police department, replacing the current force with displaced Massport security guards. At $5.65 an hour, they're very affordable just as long as we don't expect them to actually solve crimes or even leave the police station (although I suspect they'll frequently be spotted patrolling the coffee bar at our new Barnes & Noble).

· Convince Billerica to annex all of Carlisle. Sure, property values would drop through the floor along with real estate taxes, but Billerica's zoning laws would enable us to build four homes on each two-acre lot, a more than adequate recompense for a less prestigious address.

· Purchase the Congregational Church for school expansion and give them the Wang-Coombs land on which to build a replacement. They'll get a new building with beautiful vistas of the Cranberry Bog, and the town can economically meet the educational needs of our growing population.

So there you have it. Five plans that will take more than a few pounds off our tax burden. Which do you think will work? Put down that donut and let me know.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito