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Free Bird My Ass

In a city where far too many residents find themselves dependent upon the ironically-named “Independence” card an $85 bird is not an option.

Hey, guys, I love myself some superior-quality foodstuffs now and then, as my continued presence at and visits to brewpubs, farmers’ markets, cheese shops, and Whole Foods might imply.

But in a city where far too many residents find themselves dependent upon the supremely-ironically-named “Independence” food-stamp cards and their benefits, suggesting that we substitute what in my case was an $8.50 turkey for an equivalent-sized $85 bird from Springfield Farm, well, that ranges somewhere between absurdity and supreme idiocy (“Free Bird,” Feature, Nov. 21). Especially when brining my $8.50 turkey turned it into near-orgasmic culinary delight, and the gravy made from the frozen gravy packet stuffed into the bird and its later pan drippings created perhaps the best gravy I’ve ever had anywhere.

And as much as I want to support the organic, principled-eating, sustainable, non-factory-process, humane, etc. manners of eating, the entire movement will simply never be taken seriously by the folks who perhaps are in the greatest need of its benefits, as long as there’s this fundamental disconnect between making food good and making it affordable.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV


Smart Meter Fires To The Rescue?

Smart meters rose up to quietly avenge the critical story on “fire hazard” reported on Sept. 4th (“Smart Meter Fires: Yeah, They Happen,” The News Hole, Sept. 4) by proving their worth otherwise during Sandy crisis.

Approximately 200,000 people were left without power in the wake of hurricane Sandy on Oct. 30 2012, three days later only 700 houses were still left without power. Jeannette M. Mills at Baltimore Gas and Electricity observed that the quick restoration was partially made possible by Smart meters and smart grid, made of two-way communications systems, smart meters and sensors, similar to shift from analog to digital system in cable services. Smart meters pin-point precise locations of meters to electricity service sources through digital communication, thus saving time, dollars and wasteful service rounds to locations where power has been already restored. The question is why in this technologically advanced age does a sizeable amount of the population has to stay without power during a crisis such as Sandy? Is there no vision on contingency power supply grid at city level or neighborhood level? Obama administration’s case for conversion to smart grid was facilitate integration of more renewable generation into the grid. Where is this renewable energy? Why are we not considering the Solar roadways project conceived by Scott and Julie Brusaw and advocated by U.S. Senator from Indiana Mike Crapo, to harvest solar energy to feed into the smart grid? These discussions need to occur more rampantly at city and entrepreneurial level.

Given the fear of failure, unfavorable public reaction and high upfront cost, the concept could be applied at a smaller scale such as a street sidewalk or a bike path and then increasing incrementally, to include network of streets in neighborhood, parking lots and even green-ways, trails and networks, at city scale. Vacant to Values plan advocated by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake could also be a starting point for this experiment. High costs and unproven track record may scare the potential investors away but this is a country of innovative entrepreneurs and billionaires that takes risks to build something new and even new way of creating capital. This is a time, now, to take more risks and build more solar roadways and greenways to harvest energy to feed the smart grids that light up our days when overcast with storms.

Archana Sharma,


Editor’s Note: Due to changes in our publishing schedule, the winners of City Paper’s 14th annual Short Fiction Contest and 13th annual Poetry Contest will be announced and published in Issue 50, which comes out Dec. 19.

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