The Undead Ending

(We’re practicing taking the SSAT as a family, and this is the story I wrote. Wow, 25 minutes feels like an eternity when you’re starting and is no-where near long enough at the 5-minute warning…)

The Undead Ending (a short story)

The silence was overwhelming. I tried not to add any noise to it and kept my steps slow and light so as not to attract them.

This was my third round going out from my shelter. I knew before the day was over I’d need more supplies; even hiding and moving slowly when you’re scared out of your wits takes a lot of energy. Plus the bandage on my wrist was a standing reminder of my injury this morning where I fell due to a bad roll.

Slowly walking up the side of what I almost thought of as ‘my’ street, I paused to listen and look. Suddenly the blocky storefronts and straight city blocks reminded me of Minecraft, and I let out a short burst of laughter at the comparison to my situation.

Oh, crap. What was that?

I’d learned early on that they were attracted to sounds of almost all kinds. That laugh was probably loud enough to attract someone – or should I say something, since while they may still look like my gaming friends, they’re not.

The Zombie Flu came on suddenly and swiftly, and it was… well, none of that matters now that I hear some shuffling from the storefront on my left – and now I can see one down the street behind me! Where to go?

Augh! There’s a handy fire escape across the street, but I can’t climb – the bandage on my wrist reminds me of that.

Walking fast down the street, I’m hoping to get past their slow walk before their inevitable moaning attracts more.

Ah-ha, an alley just ahead, and I’m far enough ahead of the shambling to make it around the corner without much chance of being spotted. Now I just need to find the crate that’s always in this kind of alley to hide out in until they shuffle by and forget me.

Here it is – open it up quietly, quietly! Glance behind me at the alley entrance, good, they haven’t seen me. Reach inside the crate for the convenient hiding blanket I know is in there, and… hear the moan just as the zombie lying under the blanket bites into my uninjured wrist.


Well, round three was fun as a human character. Now I get to play as a zombie with my friends for round four and listen for sounds in the silence!

I’m graduating from POLICE ACADEMY!

Well, to be precise, the Arlington Citizen’s Police Academy… it’s not learning to be a police officer, it’s for town residents to learn about our local police and their procedures. Our town’s police are serious about community policing and have restarted this great 8-week class recently after a hiatus due to renovation in the community safety center.

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FOUND: 2011 BMW E90 in Vermillion Red! Whee!

With many thanks to the long-suffering patience of my wife, and especially the able assistance of BHD in evaluating and negotiating, I’m happy to report a very successful new car search!

My beautiful new BMW

I opted to skip the xenons and instead pay a small premium to get low low miles (under 12K) from BMW of Newport. Apparently it was previously owned by some company (it was a commercial title) that didn’t drive at all. It’s a 2011 328i sedan with xDrive, so it will be nice in the winter with the little bit of extra traction (to say nothing of BMW’s none-too-shabby traction control and the like!)

In any case, cars have come a long way in the past 18 years! Wow. While I will long miss the crisp and uber-responsive handling of my beloved 1995 E36 – unmatched in just about any other sedan made – there is a lot to enjoy in my new-to-me ride now. Bluetooth integration, heated seats and steering wheel, and tire pressure sensors (with run-flats) are just a few of the things that are pretty gee-whiz to someone used to driving a 1995 base model car.

Similarly, while I have mixed feelings overall about the engine and transmission (I caved and got automatic), overall the experience is definitely better. While it will take me a while to get used to the shifting quirks and occasional slow upshift in some situations with the default mode, overall there’s a lot more power in even the default mode, and the sport shift mode is almost as responsive as a manual.

The most important features to me, however, are twofold, and probably a bit surprising to most.

  • Power lumbar support. Sad to say, I’m at the point in life where this is a requirement in a daily driver. Nice and adjustable, I can really adjust the seat to push my back just right.
  • Folding mirrors. Not just mirrors that fold, mind you: pushing the tiny little button on the driver’s side actually folds both mirrors inwards AUTOMATICALLY! Amazing!

OK, yes, I admit, power folding mirrors are a pretty minor mechanical thing to have. What amazes me (and this shows the 18 years that passed since my last car was new) is that they come on what BMW essentially considers an entry level car! I mean, sure, I’d expect power folding mirrors on a 7 series, or Mercedes or Cadillacs, but on a 3-series? That’s just crazy! It’s like getting a working Gameboy system with your Happy Meal at a burger joint! Luxury is now available for everyone! OK, well, everyone who can afford a BMW, which I admit is not necessarily that large a percentage of the population these days.

In any case, I love it, and am glad that I won’t need to buy another new car for… well, maybe a decade, this time, instead of 15 years. And hopefully next time, it will be just because I feel the need, and not due to… an emergency or mid-life crisis occurring.

Next quest: figuring out which dealer to use for the covered/warranty service for the next couple of years. No-one seems to like Herb Chamber’s service dept., so do I drive to Gallery in Norwood, schlep all the way to Wagner in Shrewsbury (the only place I’ve actually heard good things about service), or take up BMW of Newport on their offer to dropoff a loaner and drive my car down for any scheduled service. While the convenience of having a loaner dropped off is great, I’m not sure I need the extra 200+ miles on my car when it needs the covered oil change done.

How do them Yankees get around?

A colleague (a Southerner) was kind enough to pen a little ditty for us Yankees to help us through the storm. I offer a paltry reply from a brain too tired from watching the beautiful snowflakes back:

Our southern colleagues, they did ponder:
How do them Yankees get around up yonder?

I can tell you’ll want to know,
It all depends on the depth of the snow.

(First, below an inch – that’s a cinch:
it’s too small an amount
to bother about; that doesn’t even count.)
Three to four,
now that is more
noticeable outside the door.

Five or six inches seen when on the roam –
that’s when people start getting back to their homes.

Six to twelve is fine for today –
working at home with our kids in the way.
But tomorrow our backs will swell
after shoveling it all up the hill.

Into the feet is where *this* storm’s headed,
and that’s where the less intrepid start to dread it.
At this level there are neighborly teenagers galore,
Who for a fee, will shovel up to your door!
This weekend’s to win some sledding prizes
Until next week, as it melts when the temperature rises.

But the most important moral of my story:
In our winter, snow tires are mandatory.

Steven Nichols Curcuru: television pioneer; technology columnist; Resident Wizard [UPDATE 1]

Steven Nichols Curcuru, television pioneer, technology columnist, and Resident Wizard, age 68, passed away peacefully at a friend’s home in Groton, MA on January 6th, 2013, as a result of pancreatic cancer.

Born in October 1944 at the West Point Military Hospital while his father was serving in the European Theater in WW2, Steven grew up with his parents Edmond and Patricia and two younger brothers. Although the family moved frequently during Steven’s childhood, they regularly spent summers in Southhold, NY where he raced his Lightning sailboat and worked as a lifeguard at Founders Landing Beach. After graduating early from Phillips Academy, he attended the College of William & Mary where he worked at the school’s radio station WCWM and as a folk music producer, and graduated in 1967.

Steven then moved to Concord, MA, and worked at WNAC-TV Channel 7 in Boston. In his long tenure at Channel 7, he brought many innovations to the television newsroom in the 1970s and 1980s, including designing and installing the first-ever computer network story editing systems, computer-controlled studio cameras, and computer animated weather graphics. Steven produced a number of major news events at Channel 7, including Emmy award-winning coverage from onboard the USCGC Eagle of the American Bicentennial OpSail ’76, as well as winning other Emmy awards and a New York Film Festival award. He was also a part-time journalism professor at Boston University, where he particularly enjoyed mentoring newcomers to television news production and helped to launch a number of careers in broadcast journalism. In 1993, Steven moved on to become the Resident Wizard at Mugar Enterprises, advising the company on technology investments and working to produce and expand Boston’s Fourth of July events. He wrote a regular column for PC Week, and served as a judge at Comdex computer conferences.

Steven is survived by his mother Patricia N Curcuru, his brothers Kevin H. Curcuru and Kim M. Curcuru, his son Shane Curcuru, granddaughter Roxanne Curcuru, significant other Linda Miller-Foster, and best friend Karen Coe.

A memorial gathering is planned at the end of January in Sudbury, MA for local friends and family. A private family memorial will be held at Southhold, NY in the summer. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memoriam of Steven N. Curcuru to the Northeast Animal Shelter, to the MSPCA-Angell shelter, or to Coast Guard Mutual Assistance.

Comments or questions about arrangements posted here will be passed on to the family.

Do you know Steven Curcuru?

If so, he (or I, his son) would love to hear from you – preferably via email!

That is, Steven Curcuru, sometimes called Steve and styled as the Ol Wizard, educated at Phillips Academy, William & Mary and WCWM radio, Boston University, WHDH-TV, and Mugar Enterprises, and past writer for PC Week, and Massachusetts resident.

His old contact info should still be valid, or you can reach me at me@ this domain name and I can pass along a message.

Please note that this call is not for fans of the west-coast based graphic illustrator also named Steve Curcuru, nor is this for the local Gloucester politician and business owner Steven Curcuru, or any other Steve(n) Curcurus I may have missed. Although I’m sure we’re all related somehow!

Thank you, US Taxpayers!

Thank you all for the sacrifice and work put into the Recovery Act. I’m very thankful for the millions of dollars that taxpayers across the USA are (or will be) paying to help improve the infrastructure, and especially the roads, here in eastern Massachusetts. Our commonwealth government is putting the money to work right now resurfacing plenty of roadways and repairing some of our elderly bridges – and they even have a nifty map showing you where your money is going.

I now can thank you every day, since there are some key stretches of Rt. 2 and a handful of roads in Belmont that had been pretty bad, which are now beautifully smooth and bump-free thanks to these extra-special Recovery projects. Although, I’m not sure if I should thank you, the taxpayers, or if I should really be thanking your children for their future contributions. I’d better thank some other of our descendants now too, I suppose, just to be sure it’s covered – thanks!

A big shout out to the town of Belmont, which just this week took the Recovery money to heart. I’ve been enjoying the super-smooth new curve of Blanchad Road, even with it’s new traffic calming devices. (Make that Blanchard – but one of the construction signs used to say “BLANCHAD RD UNDER CONSTRUCTION” for so long I kind of got used to it.) And parts of Park Ave and a few stretches near down town are much much better than they’ve been for years.

No, what I really have to hand it to Belmont is for going all out – right down to the dirt. Yes, about half of my drive through Belmont on the way home tonight was on dirt roads. All the way dirt – nice and dusty, with plenty of leftover gravel to jump up at the windshield, and big ruts to make for an interesting ride. I’ll be sure to remember to avoid driving in Belmont for the next week or so until they can bring some major routes back up to paved status. 8-(

Who remembers Caldor Middlesex Mall?

Or, as a friend and I call it, “The Caldor Mall”. This is an old joke, since there have been at least three other stores in that spot since then, and more years than I care to count.

Seriously – anyone else have fond memories of shopping at Caldor in the Middlesex Mall, or other local Caldors? It’s not as big a local name as Lechmere’s, perhaps, but the colorful logo was still a big sign in the region back when.

I’ve seen the variety of and similar mall memories web boards talking vaugely about it, but very little actual data so far in Google. Seriously: there isn’t a picture anywhere on the web of that particular Caldor? Someone’s gotta have scanned in some old newspaper article about it or something! I’m surprised that some geek has actually setup a cheap mirror of the old website(which I don’t remember), before it went under about a decade ago. The Wayback Machine also has some archived web pages, showing the domain going from the real thing, through a couple of domain squatters, and then to nothing in recent years.

I was thinking of this as I’m making plans to have dinner with friends at one of the newest big retailers nearby, H Mart. You see, the only way I could explain how to get to H Mart was to say it was behind the Caldor Mall. Luckily, the person I was emailing that too actually understood me.

Ah, H Mart, I’m already excited to see your oodles of Korean and Asian groceries and food court – as evidenced by both local media coverage, and my friend @BigHeadDennis (Famed for assisting with an ocean rescue with his cell phone) who I think has mentioned at least three trips there already. Yum.

So – anyone have pictures of the Caldor at Middlesex Mall?