Saturday, September 22, 2018

Welcome Autumn

Welcome autumn...and a whole new round of yard chores. After a long and very hot summer the weather has finally moderated to the point where yard work is possible. 

Mowing continues, pruning will begin soon and I still have a ton of wood to cut up from the May storm.  The snow blower goes in Oct. 15 to be serviced with the promise of getting it back soon thereafter.  Not that I'm expecting plowable snow by then but who knows?

Acorns have already begun to fill up the driveway from the many oak trees over and around it.  And then who can forget leaves.  Not the pretty colors we all look forward to but after that when the leaves dry up, fall from the trees and cover everything. 

I'm not as fussy about the leaves as I used to be.  I hire someone to get rid of them in the spring but I do have to blow them out of the gutter as well as keep them off the driveway. 

Well, that's the drill.  Beautiful colors, mild days, cool nights making fall a very nice season.  Then, after that, well, you know. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Betsy vs Hope

Do you know Hope Brown?  How about Betsy Devos?  One is a public high school teacher from Kentucky.  The other-Ms Devos-is the secretary of education.

Hope Brown appears on the front of TIME magazine this week.  Under her picture it says "I have a master's degree, 16 years of experience, work two extra jobs and donate blood plasma to pay my bills."  Betsy Devos is a billionaire who has barely two years on the job.

And here we have a very clear picture of the state of culture in the United States today.  It is obvious what the Trump administration's priorities are.  Unfortunately many fine professional educators and their students are suffering for his arrogance and ignorance.

Let's change things in November.

Friday, September 14, 2018

A Word About Hurricane Florence & Individual Responsibility


Hurricane's are dangerous.  The wind of course is damaging but most of the damage and danger is from massive amounts of water.  So when the governors of coastal states warn residents to leave, why don't they?  There's always a certain percentage (up to 25%) who elect to stay. 

What's wrong with that?  Well, first they put themselves at great risk.  But in addition to that they put the first responders who are expected to rescue their sorry butts at risk as well. 

If I were the governor I'd tell those people if they elect to ignore advice and stay, fine.  But don't expect anyone to risk their necks helping them when it hits. They're on their own.

It's time we made irresponsible people step up and be accountable.  We do that raising children, right?  (Well, most people do anyway). 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Off to Florida

It's off to our condo in Naples, FL tomorrow.  One hurricane just past over the area and headed out to the gulf while others are looming in the Atlantic.  They could interfere with our return next week. 

This has been a difficult summer.  Hot, humid and stormy.  I haven't been able to get much accomplished outside.  I will have numerous chores awaiting me when it cools off: finishing cleaning up the mess from May's storm, tons of wood to split, routine pruning, back porch repair work, etc.  On and on the list goes. 

Soon the chimney will be cleaned and I still have a little work to do on the snow blower before declaring that ready for what lies ahead.  Speaking of which.  There are two almanacs out there: Old Farmer's Almanac and Farmer's Almanac.  The first calls for a relatively mild, dry winter while the second predicts the complete opposite-very cold and snowy.  Guess one I'll be rooting for!

Next up: a report on how work turned out in our condo.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Reflections on NOT going back to school

   Our grand kids are back to school.  9th, 7th, 5th & 4th grades.  They're growing so fast. It's unbelievable.  What's equally unbelievable is that this is the 14th year I am NOT returning to school in whatever capacity I may be serving-either classroom teacher, lead teacher or math/science specialist.

So,  you may logically ask what exactly have I accomplished in 14 years?   Hmmmm...I wish I could just list tick off one item after another of all the great things I've been doing but, well, I just can't.  It seems to have changed from one year to the next.  For example when I first retired I was on jury duty and actually got on a case, then there was my first born grand daughter who I watched a couple of days a week, then we were undergoing an addition on the house that took some time.  Then after that I started subbing back at school and volunteering.  Interspersed in all of this were more grand children, volunteering in assisted living facilities & the schools, yard projects and on and on it goes with each year changing slightly.

Now here I am 14 years down the road, the kids are all older and in school and need less of my time. But I still volunteer, we still live on a big piece of property, I golf with friends, and I just seem to find ways to fill up the days. 

Now my wife is nearing retirement and she's facing the same challenges.  What to do?  It's hard going from working full time to not.  I was lucky.  Things just seemed to come along naturally and I'd go with it.  My wife will have more difficulty.  Sure, she has interests but there's still a lot of time to fill.  But she'll figure it out.  Things will come along, routines will be established and the next thing you know we'll wonder how she had time to work!  That's always what happens.

Here's some free advice: don't wait until your last day of work to think about this.  Start a few months in advance.  Have a plan-maybe a loose one-but a plan nevertheless.  That should help.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Good Bye, John McCain

 Senator John McCain (R, AZ) lost his battle with cancer over this past weekend.

I agreed with very little of John McCain’s politics but I had great respect for the man’s patriotism and heroism.  I also admired his willingness to reach across the aisle for the good of the country.  If he thought something was right, he supported it regardless of party politics. He was a great American


McCain stands in stark contrast to the slug currently occupying the White House who is as we all know a coward and a traitor. I hope the nation is taking notice.  But of course his base being the ignorant fools that they are will pass it off as nothing more than Trump being Trump. Sad days. 

We need to reject "Make America Hate Again" and take our country back!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Apple Corporation

So I'm half listening to the morning news while checking emails and Facebook and I hear that Apple Corporation now enjoys the highest valuation of any corporation in the world-over a trillion dollars.

I think I know at least one reason why.  I just upgraded my 10-yr-old iPad mini to a new one.  The new one has the latest iOS and 64 bit architecture.  I was no longer able to get new apps or use many features on the old one because it was so dated.  Anyway, usually setting up new gadgets can sometimes be a pain.  You have to enter passwords, pair it to your WiFi network, download apps from cloud, etc.

Not so the new iPad.  All I had to do was hold my iPhone 7 next to it and PRESTO everything was moved over.  No muss, no fuss.  Nice.  Easy and user friendly.  That's always been Apple's approach to technology.  Very smart. I feel almost as smart as my grand children.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Odds & Ends & Bits & Pieces

Here's another edition of random thoughts and observations.
1. There's been a huge outbreak of drug overdoses in New Haven lately. Within a week or so there were over 100 overdoses of a drug that was a mix of marijuana and something else (I forgot what it was). Together they're called K2.  Wasn't it nice when K2 was just the second highest mountain in the world?

2. What don't people get about the danger of leaving children and animals locked in parked cars during the summer?  There isn't a day that goes by when you don't hear about a tragedy or near tragedy because someone left a child or animal in a car.  And their excuse is always, "Gosh, I just went in the store for a minute!"

3.  Summer time brings lots of fun things to do.  It also brings tragedies such as pool drownings.  The other day yet another 2-year-old was found floating on the bottom of  a backyard pool.  People need to realize that kids need constant supervision.  It doesn't take long for a little one to squirt out and get him/herself into trouble.  I even saw a video recently of a toddler managing to crawl into an above ground pool even with the ladder up supposedly making it safe.  Watch your kids.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

If you're a member of a political party, VOTE

Today is primary day. If you're a republican or democrat you can vote in the appropriate primary.  If you're a republican, don't bother. If you're a democrat, vote for Ned Lamont for governor.  Ganim ran a dirty campaign and is a crook anyway.  Go for Lamont.

As for the 5th congressional district, it doesn't much matter.  Hayes and Glassman are very close on the issues so pick one so long as they're elected in November. That part is very important.  The republicans have got to go. They are systematically destroying the country for ordinary people like you and me.  Beginning with the head coward (Donny boy) and on down to the
Cowardly Ryan they have made it clear we don't matter.  Get them out of there.

Next blog-no politics.  Promise.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Your chance to be heard

If you are a registered democrat or republican, you have an opportunity to weigh in on who you think the candidate should be for upcoming elections.  There are a couple of choices for the 5th congressional district being vacated by Rep. Esty and several choices for governor. 

If you're an independent, unfortunately you won't be able to vote in any of the primaries.

So republicans or democrats, get out there. Be heard.  And no matter who you are, when November rolls around, VOTE!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Beware the promises

Tis the season.  Campaign season, that is, for upcoming midterm elections including the governor of CT.  From now until election day in November we're going to be bombarded with TV ads and robocalls extolling the virtues of a given candidate while they reveal the mortal sins of their opponents.  And of course along with that come the promises. 

This year there are two democrats vying for the governorship and a whole host of republicans.  The republicans smell blood because outgoing democrat Malloy is one of the most unpopular governors in recent memory so they're expecting a voter backlash.

One of the many promises coming from the republican side is to phase out the state income tax.  That will certainly have broad appeal.  After all, who likes paying taxes?  But I hope voters think it through carefully.  The income tax represents a significant source of revenue.  If that's eventually eliminated, obviously services will also be eliminated.  I hope someone asks the candidates who they plan to hurt when they do this because someone is definitely going to be hurt.  In fact one particular candidate has already put a bull's eye on state employee unions so we know where he's coming from but what about the others?  Police services? Highway maintenance? Teachers' pension/health fund (we've already taken several hits here)? The poor?  Education assistance to towns? All of the above? 

Find out before you jump on the no income tax band wagon.  You might be one of the victims.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Welcome August

Welcome to the dog days of August.  To learn more about the month of August, click here georgeswebpage.com/almanac

Monday, July 30, 2018

Amendment to last post

The link I provided for my Hawaii slide show may not work for those using an iPad.  If you are trying to access the slide show with an iPad or an iPhone use this link georgeswebpage.com/hawaiiipad

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Pictures of Hawaii & San Francisco

I prepared a 30 picture slide show of our recent trip.  Click below to see it. Wait for it to load and then press the play button.  We took literally hundreds and hundreds of pictures but that would be too many to post on my website so these are a representative sampling.

georgeswebpage.com/hawaii

Monday, July 23, 2018

More observations about Hawaii

There are a couple of other things about Hawaii that have recently come to mind.  They have nothing to do with the beautiful flora and geography of the state. Rather they have to do with the states attitude toward energy conservation, recycling and its general approach to the environment.

Consider:
1. Solar panels in abundance.  Both residential and commercial buildings are covered with them.
2. No plastic containers.  In fact when you go into a store you are not given a bag.  You have to bring your own reusable container for your purchases.
3. Luggage is screened at airports separately from TSA screening the purpose of which is to make sure no harmful plants or foods are brought in or taken out.
4. They are very fussy about leaving wildlife undisturbed both on land and in the sea. For example it's illegal to touch any of the many large turtles that will be within reach when you snorkel.
5. You may not remove chunks of lava however small from the beach.  Look at it but leave it alone.
6. Littering fines are very high.  Well into the hundreds of dollars.
7. Admiring the flora is of course fine.  Picking wild flowers is not.  Leave them be.

On an unrelated note-even though you often see signs saying Private Beach, they are in fact all public.  The signs are put there by locals who don't want tourists tramping all over.  Also, there are cautionary signs posted at all overlooks and beaches.  None of the beaches has lifeguards. So you're on your own.  As far as the overlooks go, proceed with caution.  Use common sense. Get too close and you're in trouble. 

There are probably a few I have missed but as you can see Hawaii is determined to protect itself from the damage that some tourists can cause and from themselves.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Back to the world

We're back and here's what the past 16 days  looked like:
July 2-Pick up and drop off at hotel at JFK. One night.
July 3-6:30 A.M. flight to San Francisco.  One night.
July 4-Flight from San Francisco to Maui.
July 9-Flight to Kauai. Late arrival. Two days there.
July 12-Back to Maui
July 15-Back to San Francisco. Two days there.
July 17- Return to JFK and home. 
July 18-Arrive home 3 A.M. after weather related 3 hr delay.

It was an amazing trip.  Hawaii was a geographic marvel.  It had everything.  Snorkeling, swimming, hiking, mountains, waterfalls, lava flows, etc.  We even went on a helicopter ride in Kauai.

San Francisco was also an interesting place.  Fisherman's wharf, Muir Woods and a ferry boat ride across the bay with a close pass to Alcatraz.  One downside to SF was the high number of homeless people. 

So now back to the world-mowing, yard clean up from the microburst a month ago, and deck painting.  Always something. 

Next trip: a short one to some friends in PA in late August and another short one to our condo in FL in early September.

I'll be posting a slide show of numerous pictures of our trip on my website.  I'll tell you when it's ready.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Welcome July and other odds and ends....

Welcome July-the start of those summer "dog days".  Do you know how "dog days of summer" originated? Here's a hint. It has nothing to do with dogs roaming around panting.

To learn more about the month of July, click here georgeswebpage.com/almanac

Next: a few odds and ends
I'll be taking a break from the political scene for a while both here and on Facebook (I'm sure you're thinking, "Good, it's about time")  It's too depressing to dwell on so best to simply ignore it and hope for the best. Grumbling and griping aren't helping.

On that note I am reading a book now called "The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen".  Hendrik Groen is an 83 year old inhabitant of a nursing home in the Netherlands.  He set out to keep a daily journal of various thoughts and events.  It's a great book and being only 8 years away from his age and I can fully relate to much of what it says.  Pick up a copy and read it. 

I've been busy getting the yard in shape because I won't be getting back to it for the next couple of weeks. Nor will I be posting here until the middle or so of July.  We're going on a trip with my daughter's family so I'll be busy doing other things.  When we do get back, however, I'll have tons of great pictures to show you which you'll be able to get on my web site (see above-just remove the 'almanac' suffix).

That's it for now.  Don't forget to check out the July almanac page.




Friday, June 22, 2018

In the mean time.....

The news for the past few weeks has been preoccupied with the issues of separation of children from parents and North Korea.  But in the mean time something else of significance should have our attention. That is the recent rulings by the Supreme Court.

The most recent for example gave states power to charge sales tax on internet purchases whether or not those purchases were filled in the state of the buyer.

This is important because it continues a pattern established by this very conservative court.  The power of the individual shrinks more and more with every decision.  Corporate and government entities on the other hand have growing power.

I am not a constitutional scholar but I have read in numerous places that the founding fathers meant for individual rights to supersede corporate and government rights.  What's happening now  is a very unfortunate turn.  We need very badly to put in place a president and congress who will return the court to a position intended by the founders. 

Keep this in mind on election day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Reflections of Father's Day-2 days late

  Lots of things shape the way people turn out.  Their parents, socio/economic status, extended family, friends, health, etc.  As a father and grand parent I am part of that process.  Sunday I looked around at a Father's Day family gathering and realized how lucky I was to be able to say I had at least some influence on how great a bunch of people were around me. 

I put this situation in the context of what's happening in Texas with refugee families entering the country, watching children be removed from their families and I realize the extent of Trump's crimes against humanity.  Will those children ever recover?  Maybe, if the policy is reversed quickly enough. Otherwise, who knows?

What have we become?  At lease the situation is drawing the attention it deserves but there doesn't seem to be any move to correct it.  In fact Trump and his trolls simply double down. 

Impeach now. It's the only solution.

Friday, June 15, 2018

We've reached a new new low

I thought Donald Trump hit bottom at Charlottesville, VA where he legitimized Nazis, the KKK and white supremacy.  I was wrong.  His endorsement of the separation of children from their parents at detention centers in Brownsville Texas sets a new standard for evil.

How is it the press is not screaming headlines every day at this disgusting situation?  Is it possible people accept it?  Have we become that bad?

I don't care that the parents of these children entered the country illegally.  If that's the case, send them ALL back across the border. But to separate families is profoundly unacceptable. 

Wake up, America.  Trump simply has to go.  Period.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Discrimination at the checkout

I do most of the grocery shopping for my wife and me.  I've noticed something interesting.  When there's a lady-especially a pretty one-checking out,  male baggers are falling all over themselves to bag for her.  The minute she's gone and it's my turn, they disappear leaving me to bag my own stuff. 

Coincidence?  I think not.  I demand action. Stay tuned to learn the outcome of my campaign to stop discriminating against old men!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to our daughter Becky Stockwell Sullivan-June 5, 1975. How the years fly by.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. It is the day that we set aside a few precious  minutes of our busy lives to  acknowledge the sacrifice made by those who served our country.  It is not , as is often the case, to be confused with Veterans Day which was established to honor all those who have served whether during war time or peace time.

Memorial Day also marks the unofficial beginning of the summer season.  Most people spend more time celebrating that than they do thinking about the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Let's make an exception today.  Take a couple of minutes to quietly thank  those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so we could enjoy the freedoms we do.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

THE STORM and a welcome surprise

On Tuesday afternoon, May 15th, the state of Connecticut was visited by 4 tornadoes and a macroburst (similar to a tornado in that the winds are extremely powerful but not the typical funnel cloud.  More like a flatout blast of air.)

The storms did horrendous damage leaving practically everyone without power for an extended period.  Even now there are several households out. 

We were extremely lucky.  Although we received extensive tree damage, our house was spared.  In addition we have a generator so we were able to preserve food, make hot water and enjoy one TV with attached DVD player.  Very unlike many people who had none of those things.

One other very pleasant aspect of this whole mess was the courtesy I observed by dozens of drivers who no longer had the guidance of traffic lights.  People stopped and allowed others to go anyway.  Sure there were a few idiots who had to block intersections or hog a gas pump but generally people really stepped up and showed consideration.

In this day of such acrimony and hostility and downright meanness coming from certain high quarters, it is very nice to see ordinary citizens acting decently toward one another.

Cause for optimism!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Morning News

The morning news these days is always quite a treat-well, actually, it's not a treat at all. It's more like torture.

For example this morning it began with violence in the Middle East over Trump's bonehead decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem.  Then it progressed to some equally bonehead remarks he made about one thing or another.

Next it moved on to the Royal Wedding and the circus unfolding around that.  We were with some people the other night and the lady commented that she was hosting a wedding party at her house on the big day.  She invited us to go.  Because of the time difference it's going to be some ungodly hour.  We politely declined.  The fact is I have zero interest in it.  I'm amazed at the number of people who are fascinated by it all but then again people never let me down.  After all, look who we have as president!

I've gotten to the point where I watch about 10 minutes of the Today show to get the headlines and then switch to a cable channel and watch Matlock or Columbo reruns.  Both are far more entertaining than the real world.




Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Return to the days of isolationism

Donald Trump just took one more step toward his attempt to return to the days when the U.S. embraced isolationism.  His withdrawal from the nuclear disarmament deal with Iran makes us pretty much alone in the world. 

Iran will now continue to negotiate with all other countries but we're out. 

Trump has shown us time and again that he is by far one of the most dangerous, unstable politicians in the world.  The U.S. is a laughing stock.  No one on earth  has an ounce of respect for us.

Things must change.  November midterms, maybe?  One can hope!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Home again

We returned from Naples, FL on Tuesday.  Now for the big yard clean up but at least I'm not plowing snow!

I must be getting older because I'm getting more and more impatient when traveling-especially air travel.  I realize that flying to Florida from CT is certainly faster than spending 4 frustrating days driving there and back but it's far from pleasant.  In fact there's no such thing as 'painless' traveling.  Traveling ranges from moderately annoying to pure torture.

It begins with getting to the airport through morning traffic.  It continues with delays as we experienced down and back.  Even boarding and disembarking is annoying.  For example the next time you fly take note of the number of people who require wheel chairs to board.  On our flight back there were 14 people who along with family members got to board first because they were wheel chair bound.  Then when you land take note of how many are still sitting to be helped off.  On our flight there were two. It must have been a miracle flight.  Suddenly they're cured. 

Once you're off the plane you now have to make your way to either baggage claim or a car rental place and then from there on to your destination.

A royal pain. 

This summer we're going to Hawaii with my daughter's family.  There will be several flights involved but of course the time we spend in Hawaii will make it worthwhile.

Yes, I'm getting old.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Civil War

I was recently reminded of the fact that many wars that are important to our country started in April.  The two most notable of those is the American Revolution and the Civil War.

While working out at the club while here in Florida I noted that Netflix is offering the original Ken Burns Civil War series so I decided to watch it again.

This particular historical program is in my view a work of genius.  There is of course no video.  Everything is done with pictures and speaking parts by noted historians and writers.  In fact it is narrated by famous historian David McCullough.   Burns did an unbelievable job capturing the enormity of the event in a moving and informative way. 

It seemed fitting to me to watch this now because our nation is at a crossroads in my view.  Seldom have we lived in such divisive times.  The reason is of course because of Donald Trump.  Since announcing his intention to run for president he has preached nonstop hatred, bigotry, racism, exclusion, intolerance and violence.  He's doing exactly what he meant to do, i.e. make America hate again!

Everyone should watch Burns's program on the Civil War. We need a nonviolent rebellion.  That takes place in the voting booth.  Will people get the message?  We'll see in November.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

End of heating season update

OK. So we're not in FL yet.

Update:  In my constant effort to reduce our dependence on expensive home heating oil, I burned approximately 4 cords of wood this past heating season.  We now have 4.6 cords under cover with another 2 cords or so to be split and added to the stack for seasoning.

When everything is split and under cover I estimate I'll have at least 2 more years.  I'll be adding more to the mix by the time I'm done with spring clean up so maybe I'll even be pushing 3 yrs.

By then I'll be 78.  I don't know how many more years of this I'm going to be able to handle so we'll have to see.

In terms of oil use I've been burning wood since we moved to this house in 1986 at which time there were 6 of us here.  My mother, my aunt, Pete, Becky, Sandi and me.  Even burning wood I used over 800 gallons of oil for a 2400 sq. ft space.  I suspect hot water was a big part of that as it is now.

Over the years people have left the house and we've improved insulation and made hot water production more efficient.  There have been only two of us for the past almost 20 yrs.  Oil use is now less than 300 gallons.  The prices have fluctuated wildly  from over $3 per gallon to my last fill up which was $2.40 a gallon.  That represents quite a savings over a 30 year period.  Especially considering there were very few times when I had to buy wood and when I did buy it, it was unsplit, unseasoned and in bulk so it was relatively cheap.

Here's how it looks today.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Spring At Last!?

I think spring is finally here. The temperature today is 60 and the coming week looks very nice. We'll be in Florida but look forward to returning to even warmer temps.

As usual, spring brings with it not only flowers blooming but a mess in our yard.  On top of that I have a huge pile of wood to split from efforts over the past few weeks. 

Speaking of wood, last heating season we used almost 4 cords of wood.  We have 4.6 cords on hand and another at least 2 more to be split. The rest will go to my daughter's.  That would be another 2 cords.  So if next winter is normal, I'll  end up having about 2 yrs worth.

On another note, my granddaughter has been sending me lots of bird pictures.  I have taken many also.  I post most of them on my web site and Brooke's web page.  Be sure to check it out.

georgeswebpage.com When you get to the photo gallery page you'll see mine.  To see Brooke's click on the link to her web page.  There are some great shots.

Next blog will be from FL.