Margaret Desjardins

Cambridge MA
I’ve worked at CBS News, Sports Illustrated, PBS, and HBO…slid into multimedia writing and producing entertainment theatrical shows, CD-ROMs, and web products. I’ve been published in the Christian Science Monitor, Reading Divas, and write bi-monthly for the Yale Alumni Magazine. I live in...
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Margaret Desjardins

Recently posted by Margaret Desjardins

May 4, 2010 - 3:45pm Wheels dominated on Ellery Street last Saturday as Swissnex's annual Kids on Wheels festivities and beautiful weather brought out hundreds of bikers young and old. Click the image to watch the video.... From a pedal-powered blender churning up fruit smoothies to biking challenges for kids to a chocolate fountain drizzling over fruit kebabs, the Swiss Consulate celebrated Cambridge Science Festival with a family fun tribute to clean transportation and yummy food. Later this month, Swissnex will sponsor bike dress up day so stay tuned! read more
April 28, 2010 - 6:47pm What do clean transportation,sustainable energy,and chocolate have in common? Switzerland! The Swiss Consulate here in Cambridge is hosting Kids on Wheels this Saturday as part of the Cambridge Science Festival. Join bikeophiles and chocophiles Saturday May 1 from 2:00-5:00 at the Swiss Consulate: 420 Broadway (corner of Ellery St) just kitty-cornered from the Cambridge Public Library for A bicycle rodeo for kids with challenges and games to test bike control, reflexes, balance, awareness, navigation, and other fun skill tests. An exhibition on sustainable transportation A free bike check by a professional bike mechanic A chocolate fountain with dipping fruit kebabs And other fun stuff! The event is FREE but bring your own helmet and your own bike. There will be other fun and different bikes to try out (including a "balance bike" which is how kids in Switzerland learn to ride a two-wheeler - no training wheels!) Switzerland is committed to clean sustainable transportation. Biking and bike education is part of the curriculum in Swiss school starting in 3rd grade. In 5th grade, kids take a test to get a bicycle license. Like the US Driver's test, there is both a written... read more
April 5, 2010 - 2:48pm Flat Roofs stress city sewage system during storms The recent record-breaking rains not only left in their wake a swath of flooded homes, mildewed and moldy basements, damaged foundations, eroded streets, but they put tremendous pressure on local sewers, some of which backed up. It’s bad enough to be flooded with rainwater, but sewage is a nightmare. Storm water and Sewer water Where the city has separated storm drains and sewer drains, the rain water runoff goes into the gutters and into the storm drains, remaining separate from the sewer drains so that in heavy rain the sewers don’t back up. The sewer drains are separated from the storm drains so they only collect water that comes out of buildings via the plumbing. This includes not only water from toilets, sinks, washing machines, and dishwashers, but also from rain from the roofs of flat roofed buildings. This is all water in the sewer portion of our water bill and is processed at the water treatment facility at Deer Island. Flat Roofs drain rain and snow to the Sewer, not to Storm Drains Flat roofs are slightly concave – just enough to funnel rain water and melting snow into a central drain that runs all the way down... read more
February 24, 2010 - 12:38pm It’s easy to miss the little sign outside the Charles Hotel parking garage, but it's worth noting the Charles Hotel Green Parking program. After I got over my immediate Cambridgey knee-jerk reaction “nobody should drive, we should all be on Public Trans or bikes” attitude, I climbed down off my high horse and admitted that some people do have to drive some of the time and that the Green Garage program includes some innovative ideas. Such as…Free Bike lending and parking The Charles Hotel has a free bike-lending program available to all hotel guests. The Men's and women's Electra Amsterdam Classic bicycles each come with a handlebar-mounted basket, a Giro helmet, a Kryptonite lock, and a local bike trail map. The garage also offers complimentary bike parking. Small rate for small cars Small cars get a discounted parking rate. The garage’s nanoMAX ™ small car detection system measures a vehicle upon entry and assigns a unique parking rate based upon the vehicle's actual size. Smaller, environmentally friendly vehicles are assessed a lower rate (from 5am to 5pm). And there is a free charging station for electric vehicles and hybrids. Small small Car Parking Perk The garage... read more
October 24, 2009 - 8:08am Flu Vaccines are popular this year. Cambridge flu clinics have been postponed due to national shipping delays of injectable seasonal flu vaccine. However FluMist, the nasal spray flu vaccine, is still available to children in Cambridge public and independent schools through the department’s school health program. The Cambridge Public Health Department has vaccinated about 2,500 people since October 8 at flu clinics around the city. When additional doses of injectable seasonal flu vaccine arrive in November, a revised flu clinic schedule will be posted. The target groups for the vaccine will be Cambridge seniors (age 65 or older), as well as Cambridge residents and workers with chronic health conditions that place them at risk for serious complications from the flu. Since our flu season usually runs from December through March, this will still protect you against the seasonal flu virus. “This is a situation in which demand has outstripped supply,” said Claude-Alix Jacob, the city’s Chief Public Health Officer and director of the Cambridge Public Health Department. “In the past 10 days, our department has given nearly the same number of flu vaccinations as we would in an... read more
October 16, 2009 - 12:44pm Take advantage of Cambridge Health Alliance's Free Flu Clinic especially for kids and families tomorrow morning, Saturday October 17th from 10AM-noon. The weather is going to be terrible anyway so grab the kids and stop in at the Tobin School (197 Vassal Lane) to get your flu shots and flu mist(for healthy children with no history of wheezing). Kids and families go to the Upper Level and adults without kids go express to the Lower Level. Remember, flu can KILL!The best ways to prevent the spread of flu are: Get a flu shot Wash your hands often Cover your mouth for coughs and sneezes Stay home if you are sick photo from commons.wikimedia.org read more
October 1, 2009 - 10:39am Quick Quick! Stop in tonight at the Cambridge Y at 820 Mass Ave from 6:00-7:30. A panel of experts will present an overview of evolving H1N1 (swine) flu situation, and answer questions. And you can get information about the citywide flu vaccination program. Panel members will include the department’s director of public health nursing, a Cambridge Health Alliance physician, and a representative from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. For more information about this free event, call 617-665-3800 or visit www.cambridgepublichealth.org. read more
October 1, 2009 - 10:27am The tax break for new vehicles (part of the Recovery Act) seems to be a well-kept secret! Did you know you can deduct state and local sales taxes up to $3093.75 when you buy a new Car Light truck Motor Home Motorcycle - defined as electric or gas powered motor vehicle with a seat or saddle and no more than three wheels (so even one of those cool colorful scooters would qualify) If you have a trade-in, you can deduct the sales tax on the difference, and you can also deduct the excise tax. This program applies to vehicles purchased between February 17, 2009 and December 31, 2009 so you still have three months to take advantage of this program. And there is no limit to the number of vehicles you may claim the deduction for. But… It has to be a NEW car The deduction per vehicle cannot exceed the amount the tax would be on a vehicle over $49,500 The deduction will be less if your adjusted gross income is in the $250-$260K range for those filing jointly, and in the $125-$135K range for others. Those with higher adjusted gross incomes don’t qualify for this deduction Need Help? You can estimate the deduction with the help of IRS Publication 919, "How Do I Adjust My Withholding?" (... read more
September 23, 2009 - 2:17pm It's that time again! This Friday, September 25 wear green, go green, be green...feel good about yourself- and get LOOT from participating sponsors (see below for a link to Cambridge sponsors)! The last Friday of every month find alternate transport other than your gas-powered fume-emitting car -- walk, bus, train, bike, or carpool. For more information on Walk / Ride Days and the Green Streets Organization, visit gogreenstreets.org. Please visit these Cambridge Walk/Ride Day Sponsors who are offering those who wear and go green on Walk/Ride days discounts, prizes, raffles, and more: http://traversy.typepad.com/my_weblog/cambridge-sponsors.html read more
September 23, 2009 - 12:40pm Due to a shipment delay of the seasonal flu vaccine, the annual City Hall flu clinic originally scheduled for October 14 will be held on November 18th from 9am till 1pm (still at City Hall. Annual on-site flu clinics for Cambridge fire, police, and school personnel (Thorndike Street)will also be rescheduled for November. Since flu season runs from December through March, getting your flu shot in November will still protect you against the seasonal flu. Free family friendly clinics for Cambridge residents age 3 or older will be held on October 17 at the Tobin School and November 7 at the King Open School. At these clinics, FluMist will be available to healthy children with no history of wheezing. For the Free Flu Clinic Schedule please see http://www.cambridgepublichealth.org/services/diseases-conditions/flu/ca... Remember the seasonal flu shot will not protect you against the H1N1 flu; the H1N1 vaccine is separate, and will be available to certain groups of people later this fall. For the latest information on the H1N1 vaccine, visit http://www.cambridgepublichealth.org/H1N1flu/ and those clinics will be added when the vaccine is available. read more
September 18, 2009 - 11:30am It’s fall again, and the big questions on everyone’s mind this year are -- whether Tom Brady’s knee will hold up and the H1N1 Virus. My Magic 8 Ball says “cannot predict now” on Tom Brady’s ACL but “decidedly so” on H1N1 vaccines. Decidedly, “swine flu”, as it has been called despite porcine protests, is here and we need to be vigilant. True, two flus There are actually two flus circulating this year: the “seasonal” flu (seasonal in its predictable annual recurrence, even though it’s a different flu strain each time) and the infamous H1N1 flu. Two flus, two flu shots The seasonal flu vaccine will not protect you from H1N1 flu. The H1N1 vaccine is separate, and will be available to certain groups of people later this fall. For the latest information on the H1N1 vaccine, visit http://www.cambridgepublichealth.org/H1N1flu/. Luckily for us, starting October 8, Cambridge is providing free flu shots for the seasonal flu again this year (and free “Flu Mist” again for needle-aversive kiddies) so there is no excuse for not getting vaccinated unless you have an allergy to eggs. For the Free Flu Clinic Schedule please see http://www.cambridgepublichealth.org/services/diseases-... read more
September 9, 2009 - 5:28pm You’re probably thinking more about raking leaves than taxes right now, but the first time homebuyer tax credit program expires December 1 so now’s actually a good time to think about real estate! Here’s the scoop: If you did not own a principal residence at any time during the past three years you can receive a tax credit of up to $8,000 on either an original or amended 2008 tax return, or a 2009 return. But the purchase must close before Dec. 1. How do you know if you qualify? So what’s a principal residence? A principal residence is a home you own and live in, so for example if you owned a home but rented it out for the last three years, you can still qualify for this program. If, however, you lived in your own home for any of the last three years, you cannot qualify. How do you know if the place you want to buy qualifies? You have to live primarily in the home you are buying; you can’t buy it to rent out and you can’t buy it for a vacation home. What income levels qualify for this program? This incentive phases out for higher income levels: the phaseout range for couples married filing jointly is $150-$170K modified adjusted gross income, and for others, the phaseout... read more
June 3, 2009 - 12:14pm Be a Locavore! (That's someone who eats locally grown fruits and vegetables.) Central Square Farmers'Market Bishop Allen by Norfolk StreetMondays 11:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. (June 1 - November 23) Note: In November, market closes at 5 p.m. Charles Square Farmers' Market Charles Hotel at Harvard SquareFridays 12 noon - 6 p.m. (June 5 - November 20)Sundays 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. (May 24 - November 22) Cambridgeport Farmers' Market Morse School parking lot - Magazine Street & Memorial DriveSaturdays 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. (June 13 - October 31) Harvard University Farmers' Market Near Sanders Theatre Corner of Oxford and Kirkland streetsTuesdays 12:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. (June 16 to October 27) Kendall Square Farmers' Market 500 Kendall Street, Kendall Square, CambridgeThursdays, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. (June 4 to September 10) For more information, visit the Federation of Mass Farmers' Markets website. All Cambridge farmers' markets accept WIC/senior coupons. read more
June 2, 2009 - 8:22pm STAYING INFORMED DURING A PANDEMIC: A COMMUNITY DISCUSSION Cambridge Public Health Department wants your opinion! Come participate in a focus group designed to help your local health officials keep you informed during a flu pandemic. You don't have to be a Cambridge resident to participate. And get paid $50! Tuesday, June 9 from 2:00 pm -6:00 pm OR Saturday, June 27 9:30 am to 1:30 pmRefreshments will be served. For more information call or e-mail Regan Checchio at 617-357-5772 x14 or checchio@reginavilla.com. (Let them know if you need an interpreter or other assistance.) These focus groups are co-sponsored by the Cambridge Public Health Department and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. read more
May 16, 2009 - 10:14am Probably not on the crosswalk! Crossing Concord Ave on wheels is sort of like falling off the edge of the earth. Here’s this nice path leading through the woods from Fresh Pond – and here’s this nice path coming in from Neville Manor, the assisted living facility -- so wheelchairs and bikes can coast smoothly out to Concord Ave… and then… KLUNK… I always think I’m going to lose my teeth when I come to the crosswalk. There’s a crosswalk… there’s even a sign for traffic to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk… but there is no Ramp to get across the crosswalk. So all those nice paths are sort of like bridges to nowhere since wheelchairs and bikes glide easily to the street, but they can’t cross it without a significant teeth-jarring jolt off a six inch curb. Coming the other way, they can cross the street, but get stuck in the crosswalk on the other side. This is not only inconvenient, but DANGEROUS as this means bikers and wheelchairs must linger on this busy street in the face of oncoming traffic . Bikers can get OFF and lift the bike onto or off the curb -- a nuisance, but do-able. But for wheelchairs, getting out of street traffic onto the curb can be impossible! Last fall... read more
May 11, 2009 - 9:45am Join the Cambridge Bicycle Committee for a leisurely tour through the streets of Cambridge past homes and sites associated with well-known authors, poets, publishers and printers. Start at the plaza between the High School and the Library for a 10 mile ride, with stops for short theme-related talks and sometimes a brief reading. The ride will end at Riverside Press Park on Memorial Drive for free refreshments. The ride will be escorted by the Cambridge Police Department's Bike Patrol. Please arrive at the start by 10:15am for a 10:30am departure. Rain date May 17, same time. Announcements regarding rain will be sent to the ride email list and posted at cambridgebikes.org. For more info see http://www.cambridgebikes.org/Spring2009/index.html. There is no registration or charge for the tour — just show up and have fun. Ride Reading ListRide FAQ read more
April 14, 2009 - 9:51pm Bilingual Beginnings at Pine Village Preschool, a Spanish Immersion program, will open a Porter Square location this fall. Interested families can learn more about this opportunity and about the advantages of bilingual education at Bilingual Beginnings’ Open House: When: Friday April 17th from 10-12. (More open houses over the summer TBA so stay tuned) Where: At the Jamaica Plain location 8 Revere Street in Jamaica Plain (St John’s Episcopal Church) (The Porter Square school will be in the Henderson Carriage Building at 2067 Mass Ave) Why: Worldwide, more people speak Spanish than English (CIA World Factbook, 2007) In the US, 12% of the population speaks Spanish (2005 Census Bureau Survey). For a peek (5 minute video) at the Spanish Immersion PreSchool in Jamaica Plain, play the video below . Contact: Brid Martin, Director of the Cambridge school (617) 562-0880 or pvpcambridge@yahoo.com. Porter Square will be Bilingual Beginnings’ fifth location; they are currently in Brighton, West Newton, Weston, and Jamaica Plain. They also plan to open a sixth preschool in Boston’s South End this fall. For more information see www.pinevillage.com. read more
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March 20, 2009 - 3:29pm When my hot water heater died three months ago I was about to bite the bullet and spend $1400 replacing it. But my neighbor, an enthusiastic MIT-educated licensed contractor with a passion for environmental solutions and a knack for taking things apart, had a greener (and cheaper) idea. Cheaper to Fix it than Replace It “I’ll take a look at it, offered” Nicolai Cauchy of HouseTechnic and general all-around problem solver. “If I can fix it, you’ll save some money, and it won’t end up in a landfill.” That sounded good to me. Ever since 1987 when a barge dragged 3,200 tons of garbage 6000 miles up and down the east coast and around the Gulf of Mexico and the Bahamas looking for a port that would take its cargo, I have always worried we would eventually run out of space to put our trash. Stop Filling up Landfills! “Did you know,” Nicolai asked as he opened the top of my water tank and pulled out the remains of a corroded 24 inch anode rod, “that between five and ten million hot water tanks go to landfills every year!? We really should try to fix things before we consign them to the trash!” Then he took off for Home Depot with a shopping list and a pencil sketch of a gizmo that... read more
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February 5, 2009 - 1:13pm The 2009 City Census Form created much controversy in our household -- specifically whether our two resident Gnomes were eligible to be counted. Greta and Vladimir, the aforementioned Gnomes, who have been billing themselves as "Gnomes of Cambridge" for several years, felt strongly they should be included. "Truly we resolute in recognition seeking," Greta said in a recent interview. "All residents, not regarding of citizenship and voter registration status, required to answer Census." "Yes, and if Googler google 'gnomes' and 'Cambridge' our blog first on hit list!" added Vladimir, referring to their blog. "So internet make proof we valid!" "We shovel sidewalk, we rake leaves, we guard house, we blog..." But some doubters have suggested that the Gnomes are not "real," which infuriates the two loyal icons. "Real!" They practically shriek, "we real! Look," they knock each others' hoods with their fists, "we here! We not pigments of imagination! We not invisible! How you like we say you not...real...?" When they get this distraught they lapse into Russian and I lose them. (Invisibility is another story.) So regardless of whether you have Gnomes at your house or not, please... read more
February 3, 2009 - 5:28pm Hundreds braved frigid temperatures last Friday morning to join Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons and other Walk-Ride Day fans for a free breakfast in Harvard Square. The Harvard Square Business Association cooked up a storm -- Green Eggs (in honor of GREEN STREETS, the organization behind Walk-Ride Days)and sausages, croissants, breads, coffee, tea, and hot cereal! Click to play short video! For more information go to www.gogreenstreets.org. read more

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