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

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

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.

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.

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

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. 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.  

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Pet Peeve Number...(I lost count)

From time to time I post in this space a pet peeve, aka a frequent occurrence that annoys the hell out of me.

This one involves messaging-whether it be text messages, Facebook messages or comments and emails.  The problem is the number of misspelled words people let go through.  Sometimes I get messages from people that literally make no sense whatever.  It's bad enough I have to try to figure out Internet shorthand language, i.e. LOL, SYL, LMAO, IDK, etc. Now I have to proofread a person's misspelled message and try to figure out what they mean.  Actually I don't do that anymore.  I usually ignore it and wait for them to jostle me at which time I reply I didn't understand the first one.

Why is it so hard to proofread and then correct auto correct?  Well, it's not hard. It's just time consuming and people are in a hurry.

So there's my pet peeve for the day. I can assure you, there will be more-not that I'm becoming a cranky old man or anything.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Who wants to be a farmer?

 I recently saw  on Facebook where a person posted pictures of her two young children petting a calf on a local farm.  She labeled it "two future farmers."  In my humble opinion there are few more important callings.  In this area at least there are a few vegetable farms and even fewer dairy farms.  Agriculture has been pretty much taken over by large corporate farms making it nearly impossible for smaller, individually owned farms to thrive.  The reason is simple.  The meat and produce provided by larger operations is cheaper.

However, there are many people who would be willing to pay more for home grown, organic vegetables and dairy and beef products. Not really enough to earn one a good living but it is possible especially where a farm and it's buildings and land have been passed down from one generation to the next.

It's too bad.  But farming is a tough life.  I used to spend part of my summers on my uncle's dairy farm.  It was up early and then work all day.  I don't recall him or his family ever taking vacations.  Yet by the end of the day even though you're tried there's a good feeling that you did important work.

I hope the mild interest being shown in farming today continues and gains strength.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Happy April

Better late than never-Happy April. There's a lot of history in the month of April.  Wars started and ended during this month.  To learn more about April, click here

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Buying A New Car Has Become An Ordeal

Good bye, Acura TLX. You were in many respects a very fine car. You were fairly attractive and you had lots of bells and whistles. You were very peppy, handled well and had a very good ride for a small car. But there were issues also.  Leaving Sandi stranded a couple of times was not a good thing.  Also, we underestimated just how small you were.  Getting just two sets of golf clubs into the trunk was a challenge. So even though we still had 6 months left on the lease, we bid you farewell.

Now begins the ordeal.  Unless you have a pile of cash and a car you can easily trade in, you're going to be doing a lot of running around. 

First we had to determine the procedure for turning in a lease which actually turned out to be fairly easy.  It was the long drive to the dealer that was a pain.  Because this is tax season, Sandi was busy so I had to impose on my son to follow me to south Norwalk, wait around, then drive me home.  That pretty much killed the morning.  Then there was a problem transferring the plates.  The leasing dealer said we couldn't use them because they didn't belong to us.  The new car dealer said baloney. Of course we can use them.  We went with the second opinion and will now wait to see how the town screws up everything at tax time. 

Next is arranging the financing.  Again, thanks to Waterbury Teachers Federal Credit Union, that procedure was pretty easy too.  It just takes time.  Gathering information, making the trip to the closing, etc.  Then it was necessary to get a bank check for the amount we were putting down.  All easy tasks but time consuming.

Thanks to my son who is also our insurance agent, everything was handled well on that end. 

It's amazing how many documents you sign when you buy a car.  It's closing on a house-well, maybe not quite but close.

So anyway, we are now the proud owners of a new Jeep Grand Cherokee Ltd.  I still have my trusty pickup. 

By the way, Wetmore's Jeep and Dodge in New Milford was fantastic.  Good people, good service and great cars.  A win win win!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

You and Facebook

Have you ever heard of Cambridge Analytica?  Me neither until recently.  It's a company that uses all kinds of data to devise strategies to influence voters.  It has been in the news lately because apparently it used a significant amount of information taken from Facebook to help Trump win the election.   Since then people have been outraged at Facebook for allowing this to happen.

I'm of two minds about this issue. On one hand there's no question that Facebook has an obligation to protect our information.  No one should have access to anything about us without our full knowledge and permission.  But then there's the other side to the story.  Personal responsibility coupled with a healthy dose of common sense.

When you have a company like Cambridge invite you to take a personality test and tell you in the fine print that it may be made available to others, then all sorts of red flags should go up.  That's what happened.  Millions of people took the quiz and lo and behold the results were used to target certain voters.

The upshot of all of this is first, Facebook, get your act together. Be on the lookout for these kinds of things.  Second and more important, individuals need to exercise far more caution in what they're putting out there about themselves. 

I recently went to my profile to see what apps are following me on Facebook and I was amazed.  I had no idea I had participated in so many seemingly innocent things.  They ranged from a variety of quizzes, math puzzles, games, you name it.  Every single thing you do is noted by someone somewhere.  We were all hoping it was just our 'friends' but that's not so.  Use common sense.  Be careful what you do.

Facebook is not going away nor should it.  I for one enjoy it but you can be sure I'm going to exercise far more caution.

By the way-you can eliminate those apps that are following you.  There are instructions on the web on how to do it so do it.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

RIP Toys Are Us

Boo hoo. Poor Toys R Us.  According to them the internet is what's responsible for their demise.  I think I know at least one other reason: Most of the stuff they sell is over priced low quality poorly made crap!  Now that's a business model sure to succeed, isn't it?

It is my belief that most people will pay a little more for good quality products made by a customer service oriented company.

I can't begin to tell you how many things we bought from there for our grand children that were broken in a day or two.  Like so many others we finally did the logical thing-went somewhere else.

No great loss as far as I'm concerned. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stephen W. Hawking, January 8, 1942-March 14, 2018

Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. He has died at the age of 76.

Hawking is an extraordinary inspiration to all people.  He has shown us to the nth degree how to overcome disabilities.

He is noted for a huge contribution to theoretical physics but he also knew how to reach ordinary people like me.  His book A Brief History of Time is an example of this.  Here are a few other insights:

 Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.
The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.
I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.
We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.
My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.
Life would be tragic if it weren't funny.
I have no idea. People who boast about their IQ are losers.
People won't have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.
We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet,
Not only does God play dice, but... he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen.
The world will miss you, Stephen.