The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 18, 2010


Display your dump sticker!
by Jay Luby

Carlisle residents have a number of reasons to feel good about our Transfer
Station. It is well organized and staffed by helpful employees. Residents can take
pride in our community’s effort to classify, separate and recycle a large number of
our goods. Also, the Transfer Station, still often affectionately referred to as “The
Dump,” serves as a convenient location to exchange any number of things at the
Swap Shed.
From a social standpoint, the Transfer Station serves as one of our community’s
key meeting points that sports organizations and groups such as the Boy and Girl
Scouts utilize to raise funds. In addition, political candidates know it’s probably the
best place in town to obtain necessary signatures and conduct their campaigns.
However, there is one shortfall at the Transfer Station that we as residents
could rectify. By being more diligent about displaying our dump stickers, we could
help overcome the perception that some people abuse the system by using the
services without paying for a dump sticker.
It was heartening recently to see Jimmy Woods and Chris Sireen of the
Department of Public Works (DPW) checking for dump sticker compliance. Under
Gary Davis’ effective leadership, the DPW is responsible for overseeing Transfer
Station activities and monitoring compliance. Transfer Station stickers are sold at
the police station, though, because it is always open and conveniently located.
Further, the DPW and Carlisle Police coordinate efforts when the DPW seeks
additional enforcement assistance. In rare instances, tickets have been issued in
response to violations.
With dump stickers only costing $25 for the fi rst household vehicle (and $10
for a second one), it is clear that sticker revenue does not come close to covering
the annual budget ($252K for 2010) for the Transfer Station. Rather, sticker
revenues cover the annual collection and disposal cost of household hazardous
waste. However, it seems that whenever the topic of higher sticker fees has been
considered, residents have shown a strong preference for paying for most of the
Transfer Station costs via their taxes and not by way of higher usage fees.
While there are undoubtedly a few who take advantage of the system, it
appears that user compliance in obtaining these annual stickers is extremely high.
For starters, there are more dump stickers issued than there are households in
Carlisle. In 2009, for example, with more than 1,800 households in town, there
were about 2,200 stickers sold. While that statistic is somewhat skewed because
some households purchase more than one sticker, it is clear that the vast majority
of households are in compliance. Also, in response to one of the most common
complaints registered by residents, the DPW confi rmed that a resident of Carlisle
is eligible to obtain a dump sticker for an out-of-state car or truck.
When Transfer Station employees conduct sticker checks, they report that,
typically, only a handful of cars or trucks are not in compliance. However, as Gary
Davis notes, that doesn’t mean that stickers are always visible. Instead, many people
keep their stickers tucked away in their glove compartments or somewhere other
than on the front bumper, where they’re supposed to be.
Given that virtually all of us have paid for our dump stickers, let’s do the Transfer
Station staff and our fellow residents a favor by also displaying them properly. Δ

The technological tightrope




by Priscilla Stevens

The New York Times has been spotlighting the benefi cial and ominous effects of
technology on our brains with an account of a dot com programmer who has trouble
focusing on anything but his “devices,” a “when-do-we-let-our-children-have-cellphones”
article and a special section last week called “Personal Tech.” Behavioral
scientists and research institutions are weighing in. How do we stay upright on the
technological tightrope?
Adding to our worries about our children’s use of cell phones (up 30% since 2004,
according to the Pew Research Center) and other apparati, is a general apprehension
about the potential effects of personal technological devices on the human brain at
any stage. This month in a long-term planning focus group at Gleason Library, some
participants protested the potential purchase of new e-book devices. Their concern
was not about dollars and cents; it was about the possible effect that these technologies
have on our brains.
The June 6 New York Times (“Hooked on Computers and Paying a Mental Price”)
stated that psychologists who study the effects of multitasking with a variety of devices
say that even though some 3% of users can succeed at multitasking, most people
become distracted, lose their ability to focus and contemplate, and can even jeopardize
their relationships with family, friends and business associates. Some psychologists,
the article said, warn that today’s technology is “rewiring” our brains to do what they
are “not necessarily evolved to do.”
I walk the techno-tightrope with everyone else, but I am also old enough to
remember some techno-history. I recall, for example, the frustration of having to wait
for my grandmother to get off our one phone so I could call my friends. She maintained
a social network with that device that would rival that of any of today’s young texters.
I remember discussions about regulating the use of the television and the concern of
behavioral scientists that it might destroy family communication forever. I recollect
staying up until 2 a.m. to preview an early computer game for my small children’s use,
and becoming utterly mesmerized by “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”
Ironically, that Times “Personal Tech” section included among today’s devices a cell
phone that boasts an “old Bell-style handset” that attaches to its audio port. What
goes around comes around. And how.

In the 1955 play about the Scopes “monkey” trial, Inherit the Wind, defense
lawyer Henry Drummond speaks these wonderful lines: “Gentlemen, progress has
never been a bargain. You’ve got to pay for it. Sometimes I think there’s a man behind
a counter who says, ‘All right, you can have a telephone; but you’ll have to give up
privacy, the charm of distance . . . Mister, you may conquer the air; but the birds will
lose their wonder, and the clouds will smell of gasoline!’”
Technology has terrifi ed people with speed and with a pragmatic concept called
“progress” since the Sumerians fi rst kept written records of their trade. Since it forces
us to learn new mechanics and adjust the order of our lives, progress has always been
daunting. Each new device and application carries with it the dangers of addiction
and safety breaches, but also unlimited opportunities for communication, commerce
and organization. The price is not just in dollars and cents, but in learning the trick of
walking today’s technological tightrope: composure, conscious control and balance,
just as it has always been. Δ



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