Ellen Moyer Ph.D. — environmental engineer and expert on sustainability — will speak at the Wellesley Free Library on March 18, 2018. Dr. Moyer is promoting her most recent book, Our Earth, Our Species, Our Selves: How to Thrive While Creating a Sustainable World.
Wellesley 6th grader Andrew Courey has a slew of interests, including basketball, soccer and lacrosse. But he’s also fascinated by technology and money, and over the year-end holiday break he devoted almost 6 hours a day to finishing his first book, a primer on the cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin.
“Early Bird Gets the Bitcoin”, now available on Amazon as a Kindle book and paperback, describes itself as the ultimate guide to everything about this highly advanced digital currency.
As Courey says — and I’ll vouch for him here — there’s a need for good basic explainers on Bitcoin and the underlying digital ledger dubbed Blockchain. As a longtime tech industry reporter and editor, I can recall a few years back having a tough time getting a handle on Bitcoin and Blockchain, and finding solid resources few and far between.
Courey realized he was pretty good at explaining these concepts as he did so with his dad, Jeff, whenever they would be driving around — something that comes with the territory when you play travel basketball as Andrew does.
“When I was trying to learn about Bitcoin, there simply was no easy-to-understand information on Bitcoin,” the Wellesley Middle School student says.
So upon reading “The Everything Store” about Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (hey, what 11-year-old isn’t reading that book?), Courey got introduced to self-publishing and realized it might be possible for him to pen a book about Bitcoin. His idea was to write not just for kids his age, but also “for people like my parents and grandparents who knew nothing about Bitcoin until they read the book.”
Courey, who started the research on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at the end of last summer, acknowledges that this subject is complicated. “I hope the book can help people understand the basics pretty quickly because cryptocurrencies will be part of our future,” he says.
Courey learned about Bitcoin initially via a YouTube video, then plowed through many more videos and articles to master the topic. Courey hopes his 57-page book will help people grasp the concepts in a more efficient way than he did.
Sports and video games tend to dominate conversations among his friends, but Courey says Bitcoin has started to seep in.
“Now that the book has come out on Amazon, I talk about it with people a lot more and they are asking questions,” says Courey, whose own reading list has included bios of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk in addition to the Bezos one.
One thing Courey isn’t suggesting to his pals is investing their life savings in Bitcoin.
“I have bought $40 in Bitcoin and not any more for a simple reason,” he says. “I used to earn money ($5-$10) to invest in stocks each day, so I learned about stability. I chose not to buy much Bitcoin, because I thought it was too risky of an investment. Right now I only invest in companies like Amazon or Google.”
But one of the great things about Bitcoin, Courey adds, is that “if you have a computer, you can use Bitcoin, regardless of whether you are rich or poor or somewhere in the middle.”
Is there any chance someone will buy Courey’s book using Bitcoin?
“If there were a way to buy books with Bitcoin, I think it would be awesome,” he says. “Unfortunately, Amazon does not accept Bitcoin as payment. But I thought of a way to counter that problem. First, someone would pay for my book with Bitcoin, second it would be automatically sold for money, then I would get my cut of that money, and Amazon would get their cut of the price. Problem solved!”
If all that’s too complicated, you can just buy the book the usual way on Amazon. Courey’s mom, Alicia Talanian, says they’re also working on getting the publication into Wellesley Toy Shop, so you’ll be able to purchase it the old-fashioned way, too, with plain old money.
P.S.: Not surprisingly, this story has started to go viral since we broke it. CNBC and the UK’s Independent have covered it, and more is surely to come.
Wellesley’s de Peyster family has already won this season’s contest for best holiday gift: Actor Tom Hanks sent them a vintage typewriter.
To be more precise, an Olympia Red De Luxe model signed by the actor himself.
Nick de Peyster wrote to Hanks four months ago after he, wife Julia and their kids went to see the quirky documentary, California Typewriter, that Hanks produced and appears in.
The film is an ode to an old-fashioned machine that some of this town’s most prominent bloggers have used.
And as the documentary details, typewriters are still in use these days by the likes of those such as singer John Mayer and author/historian David McCullough (whose son has been known to teach Wellesley High kids a thing or two about writing and life).
The film inspired Nick to write to Hanks, pledging that if he got a vintage typewriter of his own that the de Peysters would send someone a typewritten note daily and would pay the gift forward by getting another family a typewriter.
“The kids are over the moon” about the typewriter, writes Julia. Which makes me wonder what de Peyster might have received if he wrote to Hanks after the movie Apollo 13 came out.
An ulterior motive for Nick and Julia to acquire a typewriter is that they’ve been imploring their kids to stay in touch with the adults they meet, rather than relying on Dad and Mom to keep up such connections. The typewriter will provide the younger de Peysters with one more tool for connecting, says Julia, who posted photos of the typewriter and related items on her Facebook page.
The de Peysters have set up “a typewriter shrine” to remind them to send their letters. Among the displays are a framed Hanx-o-gram and a signed letter from Hanks that lists Eleven Reasons to Use a Typewriter, including that they are chick magnets and will bother others at coffee shops.
While the family will find it hard to top the typewriter as a gift this season, Julia and Nick have at least complemented it. They picked up the new Tom Hanks short story collection, Uncommon Type, for each other for Christmas.
P.S. We knew this story would go viral as soon as we broke it, and indeed it has spread across the mainstream media. We appreciate NECN for crediting us as the original source on this piece out of the gate, and am grateful to CNN, Cox Media and the Boston Globe for citing us as well.
Wellesley High School students in recent years who have built up knowledge in computer science have been extraordinarily generous in sharing their expertise. Some have educated tech to senior citizens, while others have taught middle and high schoolers coding with an end goal of supplying underserved communities with computer equipment.
Now members of Wellesley High’s new ChicasCode club (formerly CSBXI) are readying courses in computer programming for local elementary and middle school students that will help raise funds to develop curriculum and teach computer science to girls in Mexico.
Wellesley High’s Jacob Nangle reached out to us to help spread the word about the non-profit ChicasCode organization, which Abel Sanchez further explains in the video below.
The Wellesley Municipal Light Plant (MLP) recently asked residents to respond to an online survey in order to gather input to help them determine the most appropriate street lighting solutions for the town. Last year the MLP submitted an application for a grant to complete a light emitting diode (LED) retrofit of 3,100 streetlights. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) responded to the grant application by giving preliminarily approval. Final approval to move forward with the project was then granted by the DOER on April 3, 2017.
Donald Newell, Assistant Director of Engineering and Line Operations at the MLP and Raina McManus, a board member of the Wellesley Natural Resources Commission (NRC) recently took time to answer some questions about the online survey and how the street lighting project is moving forward.
The Swellesley Report: How many people responded to the lighting survey?
Don Newell: 457 individuals participated in the survey, with 357 completing the full survey and assessing all lighting options.
The Swellesley Report: According to the survey results, what were residents’ overall impression of Wellesley’s current streetlights? (The streetlights on Croton Street and Pine Street were retrofitted to allow residents to evaluate three alternative approaches. Each streetlight was marked with different colored bands on the poles. Survey respondents were asked to take the time to visit both Croton Street and Pine Street in the evening and provide their feedback.)
Donald Newell: Perceptions of the current streetlights were “about right/acceptable” at 51%; too dim at 39%; and too bright at 10%…The lights on Croton Street were preferred over both the lights on Pine Street and the existing lights. The lights on Pine Street were reported to be too bright with too much glare, while those on Croton were reported to be more desirable.
Raina McManus: On Croton and Pine, most people felt the lights on Pine were way too light. They liked the color temperature on Croton.
The Swellesley Report: One of the survey questions read, “There are some advantages to changing the light fixtures. Please indicate which of these three potential benefits is most important 1) Financial Savings to the Town; 2) Improving Driver and Pedestrian Safety/Visibility; 3) Achieving Environmental Benefits/Carbon Reduction.”
How did survey takers respond?
Donald Newell: Two thirds of residents ranked “Improving Driver and Pedestrian Safety/Visibility” as the most important benefit of changing the lights, with the remaining third fairly evenly split between “Achieving Environmental Benefits/Carbon Reduction” and “Financial Savings to the Town”.
The Swellesley Report: What lighting decisions were made as a result of the survey?
Donald Newell: The WMLP Staff used the feedback provided by survey respondents to inform decisions about the type and color of LED lights that would best meet the community needs.
Raina McManus: The MLP Board decided to go with lower Kelvins in the neighborhood, which was very encouraging. The higher the Kelvin, the more blue in the light, which makes the light much brighter. The brighter the light, the more disruptive to wildlife and human bodies. As a result of the survey, the MLP Board has decided to go with 2,700 Kelvins in the neighborhoods and 3,000 on the main roads. Wellesley will be the first town in Massachusetts to use 2,700 Kelvin in a residential setting. Other towns are at 5,000 or 4,000.
Let there be light (but not too much of it)
The Swellesley Report: Which lights, exactly, will be replaced?
Donald Newell: All “cobra head” style roadway fixtures are eligible for replacement as a part of this project. Decorative post-top fixtures are not eligible.
Raina McManus: Any lantern-type light will remain the same. The lantern-type lights were already fitted with LEDs a few years ago, and they are very bright.
The Swellesley Report: What about lights in environmentally sensitive areas (Boulder Brook, the Town Forest, and along Brookside Rd.)
Donald Newell: A final decision has yet to be made on lighting in environmentally sensitive areas.
Raina McManus: The NRC is very concerned about the effect of light pollution on trees…we asked if the MLP would hold back around the conservation land. We are hoping to identify an appropriate fixture for those environmentally sensitive areas such as around Boulder Brook, the Town Forest, and along Brookside Rd.
How much does it cost to get LED lit?
The Swellesley Report: How much money was the grant for?
Donald Newell: The DOER grant will reimburse the MLP for up to $281,000 based on 50% of the cost of fixtures and photo-eyes as well as some administrative costs.
The Swellesley Report: Will the Town have to kick in any money?
Donald Newell: The Town of Wellesley will provide $105,000 toward the project, and the MLP will provide the remaining balance.
This won’t hurt a bit
The Swellesley Report: Can you give a general summary of the work to be done and the timeline?
Donald Newell: MLP Line-crews will begin removing existing light fixtures and installing LED fixtures in mid-December. Crews will replace approximately six-hundred fixtures per month. Progress will be tracked and updates made available on the Town of Wellesley website.
The Swellesley Report: Will traffic be impacted in any way?
Donald Newell: Bucket trucks will be used to replace each light so while there will be some impact we expect it to be minimal, and we will utilize police detail officers on roadways where necessary.
The Swellesley Report: I have heard the following: “The LED retrofit will save taxpayers $125,000 annually and eliminate 930,000 kilowatt‐hours of electricity. The electricity reduction is the equivalent of taking 134 passenger vehicles off the roadway each year.”
The Swellesley Report: What is the source of this information?
Donald Newell: MLP staff calculations based on all 3,111 eligible fixtures being replaced.
The Swellesley Report: Is there a State-imposed deadline when Wellesley must install the 3,000 new lights and finish all work related to this grant? If so, when is that deadline? Will Wellesley be able to meet it?
Donald Newell: One requirement of the DOER Grant is that all fixtures must be installed by June 30, 2018. The WMLP is committed to meeting that deadline.
Updates on the project will be available on the WMLP pages of wellesleyma.gov website. You can also contact the MLP at 781‐235‐7600 to speak with Assistant Director, Don Newell or Line Supervisor, Kevin Bracken.