Jan. 25, 2022

History of the Snow Plow

As we near the anniversary of the infamous Blizzard of '78, and face impending snow this weekend, here's an interesting article from AAR Magazine.

How did people traverse the snow before plows? What happened when early snowplows weren’t enough? What does the subway have to do with any of this?

Early Snowstorms

Recorded history of blizzards in the Northeast begins with the Great Snow of 1717, which sounds like something pulled from the pages of the Old Testament. Snow fell for weeks, according to the New England Historical Society, up to 25 feet high in some places. Locals burned furniture when they ran out of wood and coal. Animal populations were nearly wiped out. Transportation was nearly impossible, with post boys forced to abandon their horses and deliver mail on snowshoes.  Future storms wreaked similar havoc on society. By the 1800s, commerce was booming and companies relied on frequent deliveries. Without any public snow removal practices in place, however, residents and merchants were responsible for clearing their own streets. This slowed transportation down to a crawl and forced most wintertime travel to be done on foot.

The Snowplow Arrives

The first snowplow patents were issued in the 1840s, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center. Yet it would take nearly two decades for the invention to be put into practice. The first known use of a snowplow was in Milwaukee in 1862. Early iterations of the new technology involved a plow being attached to a horse-pulled cart. By this time, carts and wagons were often equipped with ski-like runners for easier traveling over the snow. Front-end plows also helped trains clear snow during their routes.

Horse-drawn snowplows became more and more popular over the years, but were far from a perfect solution. Snowplows were able to clear main streets but in doing so created large heaps of snow that blocked smaller side roads as well as sidewalks. In some instances, stores became completely barricaded with snow. Even travelers that could get by complained the plows created dangerous, uneven surfaces.

In response, cities hired horse-drawn carts and shovelers to work in tandem. Instead of piling up the snow, they dumped it into rivers. In the 1880s, New York City constructed elevated railways, providing citizens with a new form of winter transportation that wouldn’t be affected by snow accumulation.

Subways and the Blizzard of 1888

Snow removal history took a big step forward after the Blizzard of 1888 paralyzed much of the Northeast. Up to 4 feet of snow fell, with citizens abandoning their vehicles in the street and elevated trains coming to a halt. In the storm’s aftermath, cities were forced to devise more effective snow removal strategies. They realized taking action before and during a storm was a more efficient method than plowing after all the snow had fallen.

The 1888 blizzard also made the idea of underground railroads, which had been considered by some Northeastern cities, more attractive. Boston opened the first subway system in America before the close of the century. New York City was close behind, debuting its underground trains in 1904.

Snowplows in the 20th Century

As we entered the 1900s, snowplows were still mostly operated by horse-pulled carts, but with automobiles entering the scene, that wouldn’t stay the case for long. The first snowplow built specifically for a motorized vehicle was manufactured by Pennsylvania’s Good Roads, Inc., in 1913. It was used by New York City’s Street Cleaning Bureau.

To remove the snow from the street, cities added steam shovels, cranes and railway flatcars to their fleets. Another major milestone occurred in 1920, when the city of Chicago unveiled a snow loader, which utilized a conveyor belt to lift snow up off the street and into a dump truck stationed below. Many cities purchased snow loaders soon after.

The increase in vehicle ownership only ramped up the demand for snow-free roads. Governments were forced to mobilize their snowplow fleets in as little as 4 inches of snow, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center. As time went on, locations like parks, shopping centers and industrial centers became ubiquitous. These required property owners to invest in private snow removal equipment. In turn, a market for smaller, customizable snowplows was born, one that has only grown today.

 

Posted in General Info
Jan. 5, 2022

Staying Warm During a Power Outage

Here are some tips you can take to stay warm without putting yourself at risk, courtesy of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

·        Close off unused rooms to consolidate and retain heat

·        Wear layered clothing and use blankets or sleeping bags to stay warm

·        Never use generators or outdoor heating or cooking equipment, like a grill or propane heater, indoors. In addition to presenting a fire risk, it could expose you and your family to dangerous carbon monoxide

·        Never heat your home using the stove or oven, either. If you use a generator, keep it outside in a well-ventilated area at least 20 feet away from any door, window or vent

·        Limit your time outdoors. If you must venture outside, dress in layers and cover up any exposed skin to protect against frostbite. If your clothes get wet, replace them with dry ones

·        Know how to recognize hypothermia. Warning signs in adults include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, slurred speech, memory loss and fumbling hands. In infants, signs include bright red and cold skin and low energy

·        If you’re losing heat and don’t think you can make it until the power returns, head to a relief shelter if you can make it safely. You can locate the nearest shelter by downloading the FEMA mobile app or texting “SHELTER” and your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA). For Spanish, text REFUGIO and your zip code. (Standard text message rates apply.)

Posted in General Info
Nov. 10, 2021

Prep Your Home for Winter

1. Check your home’s insulation.  Just as you check the windows and doors for air leaks, it’s important to keep an eye on your home’s insulation to ensure heat isn’t escaping.  If your attic or crawl space isn’t properly insulated, your heating system has to work harder during the fall and winter months to keep your home at a consistently comfortable temperature.  The more the system works, the more it costs you. This is especially true if your home’s insulation is from the 1970s or earlier.

2. Trim the trees.  Lawn maintenance isn’t fun for everyone, but trimming trees of dead branches can help prevent damage from heavy winds or snowfall this winter. You can cut back bushes and lower tree branches on your own using a simple pruning but for heavy tree limbs or those that are high up, it’s safer to bring in a professional.

3. Clear brush and leaves to keep pests out.  Keeping your lawn cleared of leaves and debris doesn’t just make it look better, it also helps prevent pests from moving in the winter.  Insects migrate to areas that they can easily hibernate in, so keeping your lawn cleared will also help keep your home pest free.  While you’re clearing debris, check for water leaks, as pests are always looking for food and water, so don’t be the one to provide it to them!

4. Test your home’s indoor air quality.  If your allergies flare up in the fall due to mold, pollen, and dander, there are some easy ways to reduce those triggers from entering your home.  Start with small fixes like changing your furnace filter or adjusting the humidity, or decide if it’s worth investing in a whole-home air cleaner.

5. Prep for power outages.  With rain, snow and ice storms on the horizon, now is a good time to have a generator installed.  There are various types and sizes of generators.  Some will power an entire house, or you can choose one that will keep a few of the more important things functioning.  And of course, be prepared with flashlights, batteries, and power packs for your cell phone.

 

Posted in General Info
Nov. 4, 2021

The History of Emojis

How did we survive when we didn't have emojis to fall back on to express our emotions?

🤔

Can you believe the idea of emojis came about back in the late 1800s?  Before emojis, there were emoticons, or facial expressions made with punctuation marks.  The first emoticons appeared in an issue of Puck magazine in 1881. The magazine published four “faces”—conveying joy, melancholy, indifference, and astonishment—and called them “typographical art.”  In online times they were first used as a way of communicating emotions in 1982.  How? Well, when it became difficult for people to tell the difference between jokes and serious posts on a Carnegie Mellon University digital message board, a faculty member named Scott Fahlman came up with a solution: add the symbol :) to denote humorous posts, and add the symbol :( to denote serious ones.  In his announcement about this proposal, he even specified that readers should “read it sideways.” 

🙄

Since that time, there has been an explosion in online emoticons, making texting (and responding on social media) faster, more fun and more able to convey the emotions and feelings of the texter.  This super fast growth was spurred on by Shigetaka Kurita, an engineer at the Japanese phone company NTT Docomo, in 1998. He was working on a way for customers to communicate through icons, resulting in a set of 176 icons he called emoji. The name combines two Japanese words: “e” (picture) and “moji” (character). Kurita says that he drew inspiration for his emojis from Chinese characters and international signs for bathrooms. 

😯

Today, more than 1,800 emojis exist.  Luckily we no longer have to turn our heads sideways or remember which keyboard strokes to use to create a 😊☹or

 

Posted in General Info
Oct. 13, 2021

Energy Awareness Month

How much do you know about renewable and sustainable energy?  Here's a brief look at some of the top options.

Solar: Whether rooftop panels are placed on your home or business or installed at a community site or solar farm, solar power is one of the most used, most cost-efficient sources of green, renewable power. When the sun shines down from above, solar cells contained within panels capture and transform rays of sunlight into clean electricity that is sentout to the power grid.

Wind: Like the name suggests, wind energy comes from using just that: the wind. As the sun heats up the Earth, hot air rises while cool air fills the space. This movement of air creates wind that, with the help of wind turbines, is captured and becomes a no-carbon-emission energy source.

Biopower: Biopower uses direct combustion to turn organic waste material from wood, crops, manure and some garbage into clean energy. While making a resource out of waste, biopower can also positively impact the environment and agricultural economies.

Hydroelectric: Water contained in lakes held by a dam has incredible potential for creating clean energy. As water spins turbines, the turbines rotate a generator that produces electricity. Even better, hydroelectric energy doesn’t consume any water, which actively supports water’s constantly regenerating natural cycle. Plus, no greenhouse gases are produced.

Landfill Gas: As garbage and waste decompose in a landfill, gas is released. Much of this gas contains methane and carbon dioxide – both potent greenhouse gases. Instead of allowing the gas to escape into the air, the gas emissions are collected, treated and converted into electricity for customers. Used as renewable energy, landfill gas can minimize waste and help reduce emissions that contribute to climate change.

Batteries: Batteries can store electricity generated from solar panels or wind turbines. They also strengthen the power grid by providing backup power for remote areas and controlling the flow of electricity in power lines.  Batteries react almost instantly to changes in sun and wind production, and smooth the swings to stabilize the flow of electricity.

 

Posted in General Info
Sept. 10, 2021

Enjoy the Weekend!

Check out some or all of these weekend events!

 The 32nd Annual Hampton Beach Seafood Festival takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Enjoy seafood from over 80 of the seacoast’s favorite restaurants, along with sidewalk sales, local crafts, live music, culinary demonstrations and more.  https://www.seafoodfestivalnh.com/

Newburyport Maritime Days happen this weekend with an array of fun events, including screenings of “Ferris Bueller” and “Cars” at the Plum Island Drive-In, a downtown treasure hunt, a Pirate Party and more. https://bit.ly/3BZRuaz

Newburyport Field of Honor, a poignant display of 500 United States Flags honor veterans, first responders and other heroes in our lives.

Art Walk Haverhill showcases Opera and Puerto Rican art this week. The event takes place throughout downtown Haverhill on Saturday. 

River Bards kicks off its Fall Poetry Series with Newburyport's Priscilla Turner Spada on Friday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  Enjoy live at HC Media at 2 Merrimack Street or via Zoom, followed by open mic time. www.creativehaverhill.org/programs

Fairy House Walk this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Veasey Park in Groveland (Rain or Shine).  Walk the fairy trail, then stay for more fun, including rock painting, clay workshop, food and raffles. https://www.veaseypark.org/

40th Annual Banjo & Fiddle Contest .   Do you play the fiddle or banjo? Like fiddle and banjo music? Then don’t miss this!  The contest takes place this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Boarding House Park in Lowell. Admission is free!  https://bit.ly/3nikPcl

Greek Food Festival at Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Andover.  Fill up on deliciousness such as gyros, souvlaki, chicken and pork dinners and baklava.  Saturday and Sunday.  https://bit.ly/3hmmOIF

5th Annual New Hampshire Beer & Bacon Festival in Merrimack, NH.  Yes, beer and bacon!  Yum.  Benefits the High Hopes Foundation, which provides life-enhancing experiences for chronically ill NH children.   In addition to food from a dozen restaurants, there will be sauces and foods for sale, live music and more! https://www.nhbaconbeer.com/

Ice Cream, we all scream for ice cream!  Or maybe bark for ice cream! Head to Cherry Hill Creamery in Danvers for its Cones, Cups and Pups event on Sunday from 11 – 1.  There will be raffles, merchandise for sale, pups for adoption, and of course ice cream for you and your furbabies! https://cherryfarmcreamery.com/

Fall Festival Weekend at Smolak Farms, North Andover, recently named as having the best cider donuts in the state!  This weekend’s theme is Super Heroes.  There will be live entertainment and activities for all ages, including hay rides, stories, crafts, apple picking and even a wine and beer bar for those 21+.  https://www.smolakfarms.com/

Open Houses. Looking for your dream home? Check out some of our open houses or contact us for a private showing of any property currently on the market!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Weekend Fun
Sept. 10, 2021

Local 9/11 Remembrance Ceremonies

9/11 20th Anniversary Memorial Ceremonies

 

Andover              8:30 am at 36 Bartlett Street

 

 Haverhill            9:30 am at the Haverhill Firefighters Museum

 

 Methuen            11:00-1:00 at the Central Fire Station for a Remembrance Ceremony

                           7:30 pm at Memorial Music Hall for a Remembrance Concert

                           to be streamed live on YouTube

 North Andover    9:00 am at Patriots Memorial Park

 

Posted in General Info
Aug. 17, 2021

What Is A Bridge Loan?

 

A bridge loan, also known as a transition loan, offers you the opportunity to present an offer to purchase that is not contingent upon selling your current home.  It is a great option if you can afford a new home but don’t have enough cash on hand to complete the sale, or don’t want to take money from your 401k and face paying the money back with interest.  A bridge loan is especially helpful in today’s seller’s market, where competition is fierce, and sellers are looking for the best overall offer.  If you can remove the home-sale contingency, often viewed as the hardest hurdle to selling a home, it gives a huge boost to an offer.  Such an offer assures the seller that you can purchase the house without having to sell your current home.  It also protects you – should your home not sell by the closing date in your offer, without a bridge loan in place you could very well forfeit your escrow money.

 

In order to get a bridge loan, you will need to put up collateral.  Usually the equity in your current home can be used as the asset, or collateral.  Lenders usually require at least 20% equity in the current property to approve a bridge loan.

 

As with any loan, there are associated risks.  Bridge loans have higher interest rates and fees than conventional mortgages.  Since they are short term loans, the lender will charge a premium rate in order to make up for at least some of the money that would otherwise be made on a longer-term loan.  And with the shorter repayment term, there’s always the risk that your home won’t sell before you need to pay the loan back.  Of course, working with The Carroll Group means your current home will sell, quickly and for top dollar!

 

Be sure to meet with multiple lenders to find the bridge loan agreement that works best for your situation, and keep in mind that not all lenders offer bridge loans.  We are happy to share contact information for lenders with whom we have worked who offer bridge loans.

 

Posted in General Info
Aug. 5, 2021

Weekend Events August 6-8

Check out our top pick fun events for this weekend!

Yankee Homecoming – Newburyport.  The annual fun continues through the weekend, with downtown entertainment, shopping at the homecoming marketplace and sidewalk sales, cornhole tournament, family scavenger hunt and more!  https://yankeehomecoming.com/events/

Old Home Days – Merrimac.  While you’re in the Newburyport area, check out neighboring Merrimac’s Old Home Days on Saturday and Sunday, with its pancake breakfast, chicken BBQ dinner, bakeoff, pie toss (there seems to be a food theme here!), bonfire, crafts and more!  https://merrimacohd.com/eventsschedule/

Sand Sculpting Festival – Revere Beach.  You won’t want to miss one of the biggest and best sand sculpting events in New England!  Check it out on Friday, Saturday or Sunday and enjoy not only some amazing sand art but also entertainment, a LOT of food, fireworks, a scavenger hunt and of course, the beach!  https://www.internationalsandsculptingfestival.com/

Summer Picnic Concert – North Andover.  Bring your blanket or lawn chairs, bring your own food or enjoy food and brewery vendors (no outside alcohol, please) while you enjoy the music of Matt Heaton & The Outside Toys, playing rockabilly, surf and American roots music while taking in the fragrant beauty of The Stevens-Coolidge Estate.  Friday at 5 pm.  https://thetrustees.org/event/63718/

Tuscan Village – Salem, NH.  Have you checked out the new Tuscan Village?  Come see what everyone’s talking about!  There’s live music every Friday, Saturday from 6-9 pm and Sunday from Noon-3 pm.  There is a variety of shops open plus several dining options and the Smutty Nose Beer Garden.   Relax and enjoy the music and fresh air at the firepits, casual seating in Adirondack chairs, work off some energy playing volleyball or stroll along Lake Park.  https://www.tuscanvillagesalem.com/play

You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown & Spamalot – Prescott Park, Portsmouth, NH.  Who doesn’t love Charlie Brown and Monty Python!  Especially when presented live at Prescott Park, overlooking the water.  Bring your cooler or enjoy food available on site.  Shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  https://www.prescottpark.org/events/category/theater

Walking Tour – The Portsmouth Path of President Washington.  Want to soak up some history while soaking up the salt air and scenery in Portsmouth?  Join a 90-minute walking tour and follow the route of the President down Congress Street to the site of the former British State House in Market Square where he addressed the citizens of Portsmouth.  https://bit.ly/3AdnKGh

Auto Racing – Epping, NH.  Get your adrenaline going Saturday afternoon at Star Speedway, where you can watch practice laps, races with 10 to 55 laps featuring trucks, street stocks and enduro races!  Get ready to “start your engines!”. https://www.starspeedwaynh.com/2021-schedule.html

Educational Boat Tour – Methuen.  Take a tour and learn more about the Merrimack River while listening to live music from Brian Walker AND supporting the Clean River Project.  Food and drink are welcome on board and the tour lasts about 1 hour and 45 minutes.  The tour leaves Saturday at 6 pm.  https://cleanriverproject.org/events/

Barking for Brews – Londonderry, NH.  Bring your pup and enjoy some brews at Pipe Dream Brewing while raising money to help reunite people with their lost dogs.  Sunday from 1-5 pm.  www.pipedreambrewingnh.com

Open Houses.  Check out the latest properties on the market at our Sunday Open Houses.  For a list of open properties or to schedule private showings, just let us know!

Posted in Weekend Fun
July 29, 2021

Weekend Events July 30-August 1

 

 All That’s 90’s Music and Dance Party at The Breakaway, 2212 Newbury Street (Rte. 1 North) Danvers, starts at 9 pm Friday  https://bit.ly/2TEGij9 

Let’s Go Out: Lowell Restaurant Week.  Friday and Saturday!  Participating restaurants include Cobblestones, Fuse, Gallery Z and Tasty Dumpling.  https://bit.ly/3BSY9UY

Friday Night Fires at Willow Springs Vineyard, 840 W. Lowell Ave, Haverhill.  Cozy up to the giant hearth with some Willow Springs wine from 6-9 pm.  Bring your own snacks or purchase there.  Children and dogs are welcome!

Yankee Homecoming in Newburyport kicks off on Friday!  From Art on the Bartlet Mall, Brewfest Fundraiser, Cornhole tournament, Olde Fashioned Sunday, drive-in movies and more!  Something for everyone at this annual 10 day long eventhttps://yankeehomecoming.com/

Yoga Under the Elm at The Stevens Coolidge Place, Saturday from 9:30-10:30 am  https://thetrustees.org/event/61076/

 Create your own Monet’s Garden Floral Centerpiece at The Stevens Coolidge Place, on Saturday from 2-4 pm https://thetrustees.org/event/66120/

Lowell Craft & Vendor Fair, Shedd Park (453 Rogers Street), Lowell on Saturday from 10-3:30.  Over 40 crafters and vendors, raffles, food, free admission

Sunflower Festival at Coppal House Farm, 118 North River Road (Rte. 155), Lee, NH from 10-6 daily through August 9th   https://bit.ly/3la8Ooa

Comedy Tour at the Millyard Brewery, 25E Otterson St, Nashua on Saturday.  This weekend’s headliner is Josh Accardo.  This hilarious comic has featured at top clubs in New York City and performed with Joe Rogan, Nick DiPaolo, Artie Lange, Jim Gaffigan, and Craig Robinson.  https://bit.ly/3laoKXw

4EverFab, presented by Georgetown Concert Series, bringing the music of The Beatles to the stage at American Legion Park on Pentucket Ave from 5-7 on Sunday.  Free event and there will also be food, a “mystery” brewery and games for the kids

The BackTrack Band plays a free concert on the Old Center Common in North Andover on Sunday at 6 pm .  The band is a harmony-rich six-piece band featuring three lead female vocalists. Step back in time and enjoy the songs of the 60's and beyond. Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy!

 Kids Painting on the Green at 3rd Ave Burlington at 10 am on Sunday – paint a koi fish at this live paint class.  Bring a blanket, spread out on the green and join in on the fun.  All materials are included.  Spots are limited and all participants must register and purchase tickets in advance.   https://bit.ly/3rDBabA

The Somerville Flea, from 10am to 4 pm on Sunday.  Vintage and Artisan Market in bustling Davis Square just steps from the Davis Square T stop. Explore Davis Square and hip Somerville, have brunch and swing through the flea market to find that perfect item you didn't know you couldn't live without and give it a new story.

Walk or Run at Suffolk Downs!  Did you ever wonder what it was like to actually be on the track at Suffolk Downs?  Here’s your chance to check it out and get some exercise at the same time.  The former 1 mile long horse racing track is open from dawn to dusk daily.  Free parking is available at 525 McClellan Highway in East Boston.  And after your time at the track, take a drive over to Revere Beach, the oldest public beach in the US and grab a roast beef at Kelly’s or a slice of pizza at Bianchi’s Pizza!

 Open Houses! Check out this weekend’s open houses.  Contact any of The Carroll Group team members for more information or to schedule a private showing of any property currently on the market.

Posted in Weekend Fun