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.  

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 georgeswebpage.com/almanac

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.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Arm teachers?

Just when I thought the Trump administration had hit bottom with absurdly stupid decisions, they top themselves with another.  The latest? Responding to recent tragedies in schools, it has been proposed that teachers-or at least some teachers-be armed.  To add insult to injury the individual selected to spearhead this effort is none other than the totally clueless Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos-an individual who has barely set foot in a public school.  DeVos's agenda is not to identify the needs of public schools across the country.  In fact it's exactly the opposite.  She's looking to destroy them. 

But I digress.  Back to arming teachers.  How stupid is that?  Instead of finding ways to keep guns OUT of schools and OUT of the hands of lunatics, Trump, NRA, Republican congressman and all who support them seek to make guns even more abundant.  Hell, let's arm everyone, right?

And what about Trump's cavein to the NRA?  One minute he's talking about strengthening background checks and the next minute he does a complete 180. 

This whole thing is such a mess, it's unbelievable.  (Actually it's entirely believable given who we're talking about.)  More's the pity.  Let's hope there are massive changes when the midterm elections roll around.  That's the only way we're going to restore some sanity to government.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Some observations on powerlessness

Powerlessness-No, not the feeling that one gets when they feel they have no control.  I'm talking about the kind that comes through electric lines at almost the speed of light, aka electricity.

I haven't posted anything in a while because we had no electric service for the past several days.  It took me over a day to resolve a problem with our generator transfer box but once that was fixed, we had limited service for a few hours a day.  On top of that we have a wood burning stove and an ample supply of firewood so we kept warm.

But even with the generator and stove it was a pain in the rump.  Every morning I'd be up early, back the car out of the garage, move the generator into position a few feet from the garage door, start it, run down stairs where the transfer box is located, flip all the circuits from 'line' to 'generator', run back up stairs, make coffee, flush toilets, etc etc etc.  You get the idea.  All this before my first cup of coffee!

After that morning routine I filled the wood boxes and got on with whatever else needed to be done. I would let the generator run about 4 hours in order to keep food frozen.  Then every afternoon I'd run it some more for whatever else I needed.

Other inconveniences were things like sitting in candle-lit rooms at night, no TV or internet although my iPad does have cell service so I could use that.  Evening meals had to be either cooked on the wood stove or gas grill-or more often than not we ate out.  Our kitchen range is not connected to the generator.

We're back up and running now and if it happens again any time soon I'll have a more efficient routine in mind.

This was the first time we've used the generator.  We bought it 5 years ago but didn't need it until now. All that time there was a wiring problem I didn't know about until of course we went to use it.

But anyway, that's all resolved.

A friend of mine commented on how hard it must have been for pioneers but at that time there was no electrical service so a person's life was much different.  Things like hand pumps, outside bathroom facilities, cold rooms for food storage, etc.  No one knew enough to miss the convenience of electricity.

Anyway, on to the next challenge-another nor'easter coming this Tuesday. Yuk!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

National Geographic Magazine

I just finished reading the latest issue of National Geographic, a magazine I've been reading since I was 10 yrs old-that's 65 years.  It was one of the best issues in recent months.  The feature was bird migration habits and it included a map of bird migratory routes.  The secondary article was about unique properties of the earth as opposed to the other planets.  It outlined the 13 reasons why earth is uniquely suited to support life. 

I used to (and still do) look forward to the arrival of National Geographic and it was especially fun when there was a large fold up map included.  I still have many of them.  Sad to say readership of NG has fallen off sharply as is true of many magazines.  The internet is of course the culprit. 

I used to bring all of my old issues  of NG into my 4th and 5th grade classes.  Kids used to use the pictures to write reports and produce graphic organizers. Not so anymore.  Schools don't want them.  The town library doesn't want them either.  I did finally find a home for some of them at an assisted living facility I visit but many of them simply had to get tossed.  After all, 65 years worth of monthly magazines takes up a fair amount of space.

I think it's a shame to see this happen.  Fortunately there appears to be enough people like me who feel the same so that the magazine will keep going and the National Geographic Society can still fund important research projects.  But how long this will continue is anyone's guess.

The internet is a great thing.  I, myself, spend a fair amount of time on it.  But so are magazines like National Geographic-at least to me!

Friday, February 23, 2018

What I've Learned-Reflections on being 75.

Today's my birthday. I'm 75 years old.  As is my custom,  here are a few thoughts on what I've learned to be important in this short life.

Exactly 30 years ago I read an amazing book called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten written by Robert Fulghum.  I was 45 at the time  and thought to myself I couldn't possibly improve on what he had to say so I'm reproducing the main points here-the key to a happy life summed up perfectly:

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don't hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
6. Don't take things that aren't yours.
7. Say you're SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.”
Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten


Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Few Thoughts

There isn't much more to be said about the Florida high school shooting tragedy.  But a few thoughts do come to mind.

First, the response by the republicans in general and Trump in particular is worse than inadequate.  It's insulting and despicable.  The overwhelming majority of this country's voters  is disgusted with the situation  regarding guns.  I hope they're still just as disgusted when it comes time to vote.

Second, even if it could happen I do not advocate the repeal of the 2nd amendment and while better background checks is a start, it is  not nearly enough.  Guns must be kept out of the hands of lunatics and felons and people who commit domestic violence.  That means federal law must supersede state law. In addition gun shows must be subject to the same laws.  No more letting someone go to a gun show in Alabama, New Mexico, Montana or where ever and walk out with a gun.  This must stop.

Third and last:  Historians will agree that student unrest contributed significantly to bringing the war in Viet Nam to an end.  It looks like they're about to accomplish something similar where gun control is concerned.  Interesting.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

When will it end?

 Here we go again.  Getting old, isn't it?  Murder in the schools.  I'm so sick of this it's beyond words.  A friend of mine recently wrote her thoughts regarding this on Facebook.  I obtained permission from her to reproduce her post here.  One of her followers asked, "Where do we start?"  Many people expressed the same sentiment.  I'll tell you where.  In the voting booth, that's where.  The men and women, mostly republicans frankly, who are bought and paid for by the NRA have got to go.  Period.  Then and only then will we begin to see some progress.  In the mean time here's the post I referred to.  Feel free to comment if you have any thoughts of your own.  I will publish opposing arguments that are well-written and respectful (george.stockwell@gmail.com).

"Another mass shooting at an American school.
Another time for “thoughts and prayers.”
Another community impacted by trauma that will last their life-times, struggling to make sense of a senseless tragedy.
Another day of on-going news coverage of horror and interviews with the survivors and their families.
Another “day after” when the best of humanity is demonstrated after the worst of humanity is exposed.
Another troubled man armed with a legally purchased AR-15.
17 are dead.
14 are injured.
We will mourn. Broward County will come together and lean on each other through these next difficult days, weeks, months, and years. They will attend 17 funerals and support the 14 injured. They will hug each other and hold their children closer. They will rally around one another and will now identify time as “before” and “after”. Their community will be overcome by the nation’s love and prayers and generosity. Those of us who want to reach out to ease the pain of this forever-injured community will do anything. We will send cards and hang banners and light candles and hold vigils and send food and knit prayer shawls and send school supplies and offer comfort animals and send teddy bears and conduct meal trains and buy staff and First Responders lunches for months. We will do anything to provide a modicum of comfort to them as they navigate through their grief.
And we, the country, will rally behind Florida. Moments of silence will be offered at professional sporting events and concerts. Flags will fly at half-staff. The nation may declare a day of national mourning and the Pope may even publicly pray from the Vatican for the victims.
In the days and weeks that will follow yesterday’s massacre we will be a little kinder to each other. We will pay for a stranger’s coffee or meal. We will look each other in the eye more and smile. We will hold the door open for others and commit random acts of kindness. We will do what we need to do to help heal the bruise each of us now has on our hearts.
They, Broward County, will need to find a new school for the surviving students and teachers to attend for the rest of the year. And there will be a moving company that will pack their desks and their books and their technology and their files, and they will distribute them wherever their satellite school is set up. Staff and volunteers will help re-establish a “school” and will unpack their belongings in an effort to create some semblance of a new learning community. And the community will have to decide how to best “repair” Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Yesterday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted, “Today is that day that you pray never comes.”
President Donald Trump tweeted, “No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”
But these days continue to come Senator Rubio. There have been almost 300 school shootings since the tragedy that forever changed my school community, Newtown, in 2012.
And we teachers and our students haven’t felt safe President Trump. For years. Since Columbine in 1999. In fact, there have been 18 school shootings this year alone. And it is only the middle of February.
We have done everything we can to help prepare for and prevent these tragedies. Schools and districts have increased police presence, armed security guards, and security officers. ERT (emergency response teams) have been established.
When I first began teaching in 1994 we held fire drills and high-wind emergency drills in my elementary school. That was it. We still hold those drills, but now we also have drills to respond to threats within the community, outside the school, and inside the school. Children practice these regularly. We teach our students to huddle together and to be very quiet. And then we tell them that they will be safe. But time and time again breaking news sheds doubt on that promise. And this American teacher wonders how much longer we can keep up the ruse.
Schools have increased their focus on mental health. We have school counselors, school psychologists, mandated social-emotional curricula, kindness initiatives, safe-school climate committees and school climate surveys for children, parents, and teachers. We are doing as much as we can within our purview.
Yet this continues to happen.
The common denominator in these mass shootings: a deranged male and an assault rifle. It begs the question, “How can individuals with these anger issues be allowed to purchase these weapons?”
Yet, Senator Rubio voted NO to help the Senate defeat the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013. A law which would have required background checks for all firearm sales and expanded school safety grant programs. A bill more than the majority of Americans supported. So how can Mr. Rubio vote no to this legislation in one breath and in the next breath tweet that he prayed this day would never come?
President Trump’s administration overturned a rule put in place by President Obama’s administration that would have heightened the scrutiny of mentally impaired people who seek to purchase a firearm. Trump’s 2018 budget called for a 23% reduction in the mental health services block grant. How can he, our President, call for the safety of American schools one day, and yet continue to sabotage any small steps made to ensure that safety?
Our leaders need to stop talking out of both sides of their mouths.
Our schools should be places ONLY of learning, of community, of inspiration, and of implied well-being. But they can never wholly be until SOMETHING is done to STOP mass shootings in schools. I urge all Senate and House members and the President of these United States to do SOMETHING, other than think and other than pray, to STOP the violence. Support SOMETHING, rather than inaction. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
#enoughisenough #tomorrowsnews #prayforparkland"

Thursday, February 8, 2018

One More!

One more top level dirt bag from the Trump administration bites the dust.  When is the big guy going to fall?  It can't be too soon.  On the other hand then we'll be stuck with Pence-a religious nut-job who wants to jam his religion down your throat.  So he's got to go too.  Ah, but then we're stuck with Ryan-Trump's spineless lapdog.  It's all so absurd I'm going to see if there's a bear somewhere who has room for me in his cave!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Web page update

I've updated my web site.  There are some new pictures and information about February.  Check it out and feel free to make suggestions that will improve it.  See the 'contact me' link in the navigation bar.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The State of the Union

Can you imagine being forced to sit in front of your TV for an hour and listening to a pathological liar  brag about how wonderful he is?  Neither can I. That's why I didn't watch the SOTUA.

Besides I already know the state of the union. It's exactly what Donny boy set out to make it.  A nation divided.  He has done nothing but preach exclusion, intolerance, discord, racism, bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia and hatred.  Every time he opens his mouth or 'tweets' something, he adds a new layer of all of the above. 

But this should not be a surprise to anyone.  We all know what he is.  What's really amazing is that there are  people just like him who think he's wonderful.

That's the saddest thing about our state of the union!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Parenting/grand parenting Today

 Last week our two grandsons stayed with us.  They-and their dog, Boomer-arrived on a Sunday and returned home this past Sunday.  This week I've been getting our two grand daughters on the bus in the mornings and for two days stayed with one of them who is sick with the flu.  The kids range in age from 8 to 14.

It has been a busy week to say the least and in doing all these things I'm reminded of something I've written before in this space.  When you have a family where both parents work, they have signed up for a very busy time of it.  We have them for a relatively short period of time.  But for parents it's a 24/7/365 (except for trips) job. 

As in our case, when help is needed studies show more and more families turn to grand parents.  This is not a complaint.  Just an observation because we are more than happy to do it.  But it is tiring.  We're not kids any more.

All of this reminds me of many years ago when grand parents often lived with their children and extended family and took over many child care duties.  Then as time moved along families drifted apart-at least geographically if not emotionally-and that arrangement no longer applied.  Now we seem to have come full circle.  More and more child care duties are falling on grand parents-especially since it's often necessary for both parents to hold full time jobs. 

It's very difficult for parents who both work and not have the services of a grand parent available.  It's both costly and risky.  I wonder if there's a significant change in recent years in the number of  parents who choose to be a stay-at-home mom or dad.  We'll have to dig into that and see what the research says.

In the mean time my wife and I continue to be available where needed-more me than her because she's still working full time but that will soon change.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


Well, it has been two weeks since my last post-the longest stretch between posts.  The main reason for this is because we were in Florida from the 3rd and got home yesterday the 13th.  Herewith I offer these updates.

1. The weather takes center stage. In southwest FL it was  up and down.  When we first got there it was chilly for us and really cold for them.  For example there were many days when the lows were in the high 30s and the highs in the mid 50s.  Add to that a brisk breeze and wind chills made it feel like 40s.  We used the heat in our condo for the first time.  We've been owners for 7 years.

The weather up here of course is far worse. Bitter cold and windy.  This after a very brief warm up which featured rain thus washing away most of what the big storm dumped.  We missed that happy event by one day.

2. All of this talk about the weather has some people-especially certain political leaders-suggesting this is proof that global warming is a fraud.  To do this is of course stupid.  You have to look at the big picture.  Global warming is just that-global.  Plus, you need to look at climatic change over a long period of time-not a few months.  But there are a significant number of people who refuse to be educated.  That will probably never change.  More's the pity.

3. Moving on to another kind of climate-the political climate.  Taking center stage in this category is obviously Trump's racist remarks about Haiti and other third world countries.  Everyone knows Haiti is a very poor country.  That's not the point.  The point is he pretty much said, "you're all worthless and we don't want your 'kind' here."  Not counting his remarks after Charleston, this was probably the most blatantly racist remark he's made yet.  He's a disgusting human being.  He needs to be impeached.  But with the congress we have that's not likely. From Paul Ryan on down they're a bunch of spineless idiots.  Let's change that for the next major national elections.

I think that covers the major news for the time being.  I'm sure there will be more. So for now it's back to the routine.