Sunday, November 19, 2017

[Washington Post] 'We dare defend our rights': Alabama Republicans standing by Moore reflect state's tradition of defiance

The title of this piece says quite a bit to me.  It's what the Alabama republican party is saying about Roy Moore, their embattled candidate for a vacated senate seat.  They're contempt for Washington is greater than the fact that Roy Moore is a liar, bible-wielding hypocrite and a disgusting pig.  What's one to make of such a profound lack of logic?  Any answers to that question?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Happy Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day. It was once called Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I. The Armistice was signed at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.  At some point in the early 50s it was changed to Veteran's Day.

In talking to children about Veteran's Day I've found there to be two common misconceptions.  First, many children believe a veteran is someone who was killed in action.  That of course is incorrect.  It is any person who served in the armed forces including the coast guard.

Second, some children think veterans are people who served in a war.  That too is incorrect.  The fact is that the overwhelming majority of veterans did not serve in combat units in wars.  So any person who serves in any capacity no matter what they did is a veteran.

Take a moment to give quiet thanks to our veterans.  We enjoy the benefits of our country because of them.

Monday, November 6, 2017


Tomorrow is election day. Most of the elections are for local officials so many people tend to think them unimportant.  Don't be one of those people. Very often local politicians have more influence over your daily life than state or national politicians.  Many men and women served their country in order to preserve your right to vote so do it.

Now here are a few things you may or may not have known about elections in general.

About Election Day
  • Election Day was first designated as the Tuesday following the first Monday in November in 1845.
  • Four presidential candidates have won the popular vote but lost the election: Al Gore 2000, Grover Cleveland 1888, Samuel Tiden 1876 and Andrew Jackson 1824.
  • Two presidents won 49 out of 50 states: Ronald Regan 1984 and Richard Nixon 1972.
  • A record number of people watched the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump: 84 million.
  • Thirty-two states have voter ID laws.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2014, there are more than 219 million U.S. citizens who 18 years old or older. More than 142 million said they were registered to vote and more than 92 million said they voted in 2014. Around 35 million people did not respond to the bureau’s questions. In 2012, 61.8 percent of registered voters turned out to vote. In 2008 it was 63.6 percent.
  • Clinton used $1.3 million of her own money to finance her campaign and Trump used $56.1 million of his money.
  • In 2016, $1 billion was spent on digital ads, a 5,000 percent increase from 2008, and $4.4 billion was spent on TV ads, a 16 percent increase from 2012.
  • The first year a campaign ad ran on TV was 1952.
·       Voters in the U.S. may head to the polls on Tuesdays, but the rest of the world prefers to save its votes for Sunday. Interestingly, countries in which English is the primary language tend to be the exception to this rule; in Canada, citizens vote on Mondays, while Brits vote on Thursdays, and Australians and New Zealanders on Saturdays.
·       Every Australian over 18 is required by law to register to vote and to participate in federal elections. Anyone who doesn’t show up on Election Day is fined AU$20 (around $15). Failure to pay that fine results in even steeper penalties—up to AU$180—and can result in a criminal charge.
·       According to a 2016 report about voter turnout in developed countries, just 53.6 percent of Americans performed their civic duty during the 2012 election cycle, which places the U.S. 31st out of 35 OECD nations. By contrast, Belgium saw the highest percentage of eligible voters turn out for its 2014 election; approximately 87.2 percent of Belgian citizens cast their votes.
·       Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have had the ability to vote since 1997, when Texas lawmakers passed a measure that allowed secure ballots to be sent to space by Mission Control in Houston, Texas. Once astronauts make their selections, their ballots—PDFs of the paper ballots they’d receive in the mail—are beamed back down to Earth, where clerks open the encoded documents and submit a hard copy of the astronaut's ballot to be counted.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hello November

Happy November.  To learn more about the month of November click here

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

Happy  Halloween, one of a kid's favorite days.  When I think back to my days as a kid on Halloween I realize how different the times are.  Of course this is true of most things but even more so for Halloween.

Here's how a Halloween night shaped up for me.  Go to school as usual where the day proceeded normally.  Never a Halloween party.  Get home from school and hang out for a while until dinner.  After dinner I would get an old cork from our collection, blacken the end of it with a match and smear charcoal all over my face.  Then I would get my old hat, old clothes from somewhere and dress up as a hobo.  Finally I got a stick from the woods and tied a kerchief to the end of it which was filled with a bunch of rags.  Then off I'd go.  I walked to the dozen or so houses within walking distance, collected candy and came home.  Thus endth my Halloween for another year.

As a side note let me point out that the reason I blackened my face was to make it look dirty like I hadn't washed in a long time as you might expect from a hobo. I recently read some posts on Facebook suggestion that people who did that were racists.  How ridiculous!

Halloween today as you all know is very, very different.  First kids buy their costumes.  In fact it's a huge industry.  Then they get driven to a neighborhood where hundreds of other kids have a assembled and besiege the poor home owners after which they are driven home.

One thing though has not changed and never will. Kids still shout "TRICK OR TREAT"!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Yet another gripe

As you may or may not already know, I often use this space to post pet peeves or general gripes.  Not much good ever comes from it but for some reason it makes me feel a little better.  I imagine it's probably something like going to therapist.  It always helps to vent.

Anyway, the issue today is "Made in China".  Recently I started using a number of science kits that I had bought some time ago for my grand children.  I recently had occasion to open a couple of them to use with my grand son.  I  was very disappointed to find items assembled incorrectly or just plain missing.  The general quality of the kits was dreadful. 

As I often do in situations like this, I sent a message to the company who made the kits.  I was surprised to receive a reply from the individual whose name is on the kits.  She said she stands by the quality of them and that I may have received a refurbished kit.  They weren't. They were brand new. 

These particular science kits are just a few of the many items I've purchased over the years that have the Made in China label that come up short.  It reminds me of the days when Made in Japan had a similar reputation. 

So what can be done?  Not much, unfortunately. It's impossible to find items like this-especially toys-that aren't made in China.  All one can do is exercise due diligence.  Look at what you're buying and if it's junk, simply don't buy it.

I would gladly pay a little more for quality.  I have to believe there are many others who feel the same way.  One can only hope new sources pop up. We'll see.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


We just took a walk around the neighborhood.  It has been 6 weeks since Irma made her presence known and there is still a great deal to do.  There is extensive roof and soffit damage on many of the buildings including,  and unbeknownst to me,  ours.  Our unit in particular has escaped damage but other parts have not.  I'm going around to take pictures and document what's being done-or not. It's going to take a while to return to normal.

The situation in Florida

Well, here we are at our condo in FL.  Our primary purpose for being here at this less than ideal time is to arrange for a home watch person and to assess the extent of the damage from hurricane Irma.

We're still working on the home watch situation but the damage here is fortunately minimal.  A couple of window screens and our back lanai ceiling fan were destroyed but thankfully no water damage.

Others did not fair as well.  There are buildings around us that have extensive areas missing roof tiles.  Also our upstairs neighbors received a lot of water damage but it didn't affect us.

All in all we dodged a bullet. Until next time!

Monday, October 9, 2017

How many 'ologists' have you been to?

Everyone knows that as you get older there's a good chance you're going to become much more knowledgeable about the medical community.  For example besides my primary care doc, I have had for one reason or another been to a rather impressive list of 'ologists' and a few who aren't ologists.

I see two besides my primary care doc on a regular basis (besides my dentist and eye doctor): my nephrologist and urologist.

Here are some more I've seen for various reasons or concerns:
And an orthopedist

Most of these are routine like eye exams, colonoscopy, endoscopy, etc.  Some are more than routine to the extent they involved surgery. 

At any rate it's my hope I don't get to meet anymore.

Here's hoping your list isn't as long.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Some questions regarding the tragedy in Las Vegas:
1. How did he get his hands on an automatic weapon? Who sold it to him?
2. Who knew he had so many firearms in his house?
3. Why did he do it? Were there any signs of mental instability?
4. Are the "thoughts and prayers" from politicians enough or have they become a sick joke?
5. What is it going to take?

Now some statistics:
There are roughly 330 million people in the U.S.
There is estimated to be over 270 million firearms of one kind or another in circulation in the U.S.
It's estimated that 40% of the people in the U.S. own some kind of firearm.  It's probably a little higher.

The top three reasons stated for owning a firearm are as follows:
17%=shooting sports (target, trap, skeet, etc)
The other 3%? Collectors, just because they can and lunatics-not necessarily in that order and some people may cover all three categories.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Happy October

Happy October, one of the nicest months of the year. To read more about October, click here

Thursday, September 28, 2017

On Stacking Fire Wood

 I read an article the other day in the newly released 2018 Farmer's Almanac about building free-standing stone walls.  The guy listed a lot of dos and don'ts that would ensure they last a long time.  As anyone who has ever taken a stroll through the woods, stone walls can appear just about anywhere-mainly because believe it or not at one time there were much fewer wooded areas than there are today so farmers got stones out of there pastures or gardens by building walls.

I was reminded of this article while stacking recently split firewood.  It seemed to me that many of the rules applying to building a solid stone wall applied to stacking wood.

Here are a few observations:
1. Began your stack on level ground.  Nothing will bring a stack of firewood down faster than that last piece of wood tipping the balance in gravity's favor.
2.  Rather than have to find a way to support the end of the stack, build a system of crissed-cross logs to create a column.  Make sure it's composed of the right kind of logs, i.e. a good, even flat surface and no movement as you go up.
3. Like building a rock wall where there's a rock for every place in the wall, wood piles are the same. There's a piece of wood in the pile somewhere that will fit perfectly.
4. As you get higher, try to move the stack.  There should be a minimum of movement.
5. When you're finally up to 4 feet which is the optimum height and you're done, cover the top only of the stack-not the sides.  Contrary to popular belief, it's not the sun that seasons wood. It's air flow through the logs. 

Follow these rules and you won't find yourself going in the house, sitting down with a glass of water and hearing a series of thumps on the ground outside.  I know because it's happened to me and in fact everything I've listed was learned the hard way so don't feel bad if you don't succeed the first time.

In my view there are few things more satisfying than gazing upon a nicely constructed stack of fire wood waiting for the first nip of winter.

Good luck.

Monday, September 25, 2017

"The medium is the message"

The medium is the message is a phrase coined by a contemporary philosopher/professor in the 60s.  His name is Marshall McLuhan.  It is in my view one of the great truisms of our time. 

To illustrate what McLuhan meant by it,  let's look at the controversy now raging among pro athletes regarding Trump's recent remarks about kneeling during the national anthem (Isn't there always some sort of controversy? What will it be when this one dies down?).

To paraphrase Trump he said basically every team owner should fire every son of a bitch who does not stand for the national anthem.

I think most people would agree that it is a basic sign of respect for our country and the men and women who are now serving and for those who have in the past.  Who wouldn't agree with that? 
Well, apparently there are in fact some people who don't. What's more it's their right-a right confirmed by the supreme court and a right guaranteed by the Constitution. 

As usual, Trump's method of disagreeing with those people has become the message-not the issue itself. 

The same thing happened regarding the Charlottesville fiasco. The issue there was not really about statues. The issue was the presence of Nazi's, white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan.  In Trump's handling of this, he basically legitimized hate, bigotry, racism and violence.  The statue thing got totally lost in the shuffle.

In other words in both these examples, it was the medium that became the message, not the core issue.

We all know of course that Trump is too stupid to figure this out.  I'm sure he never heard of Marshall McLuhan much less understand his point.  But how about the rest of us.  Well, that's exactly why we see the push-back that we're seeing.  People are trying to get across to Trump that he needs to find better, more effective and respectful ways to make his point.  Think he will?  Me neither!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Happy Autumn

Here are 10 facts you may not have know about Autumn.
Fact #1:  Americans typically refer to this time of year as “fall,” while the British use the word “autumn.” Both terms date back to the 16th century but before that it was called “harvest.
Fact #2:  Fall was called “harvest” because of the “harvest moon” that occurs when the full moon is closest to the autumn equinox. Before man-made lighting, this moonlight was essential to a prosperous harvest.
Fact #3:  Weight gain around this time of year may not only be due to comforting fall foods like pumpkin pie and cider, researchers have found that lack of vitamin D reduces fat breakdown and triggers fat storage.
Fact #4:  According to The Weather Channel, pumpkins are the most craved food during the fall. Although, if you’ve left the house anytime recently, this may not come as a surprise to you.  
Fact #5:  The yellow and orange colors you see actually always exist in leaves but they are overpowered by the abundance of green from chlorophyll. The amount of chlorophyll starts to decrease as the sun weakens and the days grow shorter.
Fact #6:  Red and purple leaves are only that color because of the presence of sugars and sap that are trapped within the leaves. These sugars provide plants with the energy they need to survive.
Fact #7:  Many birds will prepare for their winter migration during the fall. The distance they can travel is impressive; the Arctic Tern travels 11,000 miles each way for it’s annual migration. That’s no small feat.
Fact #8:  Evergreen trees such as pines, cedars, and spruces stay green because their leaves (needles) are covered with thick wax and they contain materials that prevent freezing when it gets cold.
Fact #9:  Men and women experience high levels of testosterone during the fall. This makes sense because more babies are conceived during the fall and winter. The cause is unknown but it could be due to lack of sunlight or even go back to ancient mating rituals.
Fact #10:  We can’t forget Halloween! Halloween takes place in the fall and comes from ancient Celtic tradition. They believed that ghosts roamed on Halloween and people would wear disguises in order to hide from these spirits.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Random items

1.  Jose is proving to be much less troublesome here and in FL than Irma-fortunately.
The situation in FL is getting better.  Power had been restored for some time but waste water disposal is still a problem.  Hopefully, the situation will be much improved by the middle of October.

2. Hurricane Maria, Cat 5, is now in the process of destroying several Caribbean  islands.  With any luck at all it will do as projected-turn Northeast and go out to sea.

3.  Trump is in N.Y. speaking at the U.N.  God help us-and the rest of the world!

4. Sandi got me a new laptop for our 50th anniversary-a MacBook Pro.  Great machine but missing some of the features I use, i.e. USB ports and a DVD.  I borrowed a DVD and bought an adapter for to have USB.  Why does Apple do that?

5. My son-in-law and I recently cut and brought home about two cords of wood from a friend's house.  We've split about half of it.  Already in good shape for next couple of years.  Working on year three.  In spite of global warming we still have winters here in CT.

6. Fall sports have kicked in big time.  Boys=football.  Brooke=soccer. Courtney=cross country. 
We're going to be busy.

Bye for now.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Happy Birthday Courtney

Happy 11th birthday to grand child number 2, Courtney Elizabeth Sullivan.  Here's a picture of her at a recent middle school cross country meet.  To see more pictures of Courtney click here
Go to the photo gallery.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


It has been several days since I posted anything mainly because we've been anxiously following Hurricane Irma. 

As we know, Irma was a Cat 5 hurricane, pretty much the most powerful storm to hit Florida in a very long time.  The entire state was affected but particularly the west coast where our condo is located-  Naples to be exact.

Preliminary reports were that the area was a mess.  Later reports were toned down somewhat.  There were many trees down of course and there probably isn't a carport left standing but other than that there did not appear to be any significant flooding.  According to pictures sent to me, roof tiles were intact and power and water are back on.

All in all, cleanup crews and utility workers have done a fantastic job.

We're headed there Monday to check out our place and arrange for a home watch person.  So all in all it could have been much, much worse. The storm surge we kept hearing about never happened or,  at least if it did,  not nearly as bad as they kept predicting.

So it's on to the next one. Thank God Jose is going out to sea.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Two things

1. Hurricane Irma is posing a serious threat to the region of Florida where our condo is.  We were supposed to go there this week but wisely moved it down the road two weeks.  We don't have a new home watch person yet but we do have a neighbor who is going to move lanai furnishings inside before heading out.  Hoping they'll all be OK.

2. Be sure to check out my web site There is a new slide show link on the photo gallery page of the Corning Glass Museum.  Also, Brooke's page has been up dated.  Lots of new stuff to see.

That's it for now.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Happy September

It's September already. Three weeks until Autumn. To learn more about the month of September, click here

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


The arbor and garden fence are done. Now we can plant more in the spring without worrying about our 'deer' friends.

My website has been updated. Be sure to check it out.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Two Things (No politics. I promise)

1. More acorns than  usual? and earlier?  What does it mean?  I heard on some talk show recently that you're supposed to be able to predict the severity of the coming winter by how soon oaks drop their acorns and the quantity of them as well. Actually, that isn't true. It has more to do with what the weather was-not will be. 

Growth patterns and behaviors of all plant life is highly dependent on the preceding few months.  It has nothing to do with what's down the road.  In fact there's very little about nature that could be a predictor.  For example certain animal activity, the amount of black on woolly bear caterpillars or even the emergence of leaf colors are all due to other factors.  Plants and animals can't sense what kind of winter we're going to have.  Ocean temperatures and air current patterns are far more reliable.

So there you have it. (Still don't believe me,  do you?)

2. I just finished putting together a garden arbor for the flower garden we're currently redesigning.
It will be surrounded by deer fencing, stained 4X4 posts with cedar post caps and the arbor.  Should look pretty good.  When it's done, I'll post pics on my web site. 

In the meantime here are two pictures. One is my driveway with the acorns and the other is the arbor. 

Disclaimer: This is a political post. If you're sick of reading about the current mess we're in, move on. Otherwise, read on.

Donald Trump is a totally disgusting human being and by calling him 'human'  I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt.  Does that sound a bit harsh? Perhaps a little over the top? Well, I'm sorry. That's as gentle as I can be.

Consider: Prior to January 20, 2017 the United States had been led for 8 years by a man who, in spite of unbelievable resistance from his opponents, was a man of class, dignity and integrity.  Fast forward to this minute and what we have is a bully, bigot, racist, misogynist and xenophobe.

The United States used to be a country admired by the world. It was more than an economic power house. It was a sanctuary for the persecuted. A place for anyone who wanted to make of their lives what the chose. 

Today we are a laughing stock.  The world is as disgusted with our leader as most of us. All we can do is hope Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, and the rest of Congress grow a backbone and find cause for impeachment.  Of course then we're left with religious maniac Pence but it's still better.

OK, that's all for today.  No more politics for a while anyway.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Two observations. Same issue

Recent events in Charlottesville, VA have exposed the ugliest side of American culture. Hatred, racism and violence spilled over when a group of white supremacists blew into town to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.  As we all know by now one thing led to another with a 20-year-old boy from Ohio plowing into a crowd of people killing one.

Where you stand on Robert E. Lee's statue is totally irrelevant.  What is relevant is that a group of ignorant zealots chose that as an issue to further their cause of racism and hatred.

As this was happening the country was looking to its leaders for comfort and guidance. What they got from our glorious leader was a few platitudes and no condemnation whatever of the people who instigated this hate filled act.   But why am I not surprised?  Donald Trump didn't condemn the act because he's one of them. What did you expect when you voted for him? If you doubt this at all go back and listen to the remarks of one of the most well-known racists of modern times-David Duke.

And if you think all this started with Trump,  think again.  President Obama spent 8 long years at odds with a republican congress who vowed to thwart his every move.  Yet look what he accomplished in spite of it.  Economic times are better, aren't they?  Do you seriously think it's because of the current joke currently serving as president?

So here we are. Back to square one.  Right?

Well, I don't think so.  Here's why.  Yesterday my grandson played in a series of preseason football games against teams from Bridgeport, Norwalk and New Britain.  The teams they played against are heavily populated by players of color.  Their families were there as well cheering them on as were the families of the Newtown players.

The coaches reflected the makeup of the teams they coached. They played very tough football but the Newtown boys represented themselves very well and they learned a lot.  So did I.

I saw coaches who helped their counterparts on opposing teams. I saw coaches congratulate or assist injured players from other teams. I saw parents from both sides talking and laughing with each other just enjoying watching their children and grand children playing a sport.  I saw acts of kindness and consideration where ever I looked.  In other words I saw people being normal, good people.  I saw in all of those folks what we should have seen from those pigs in Charlottesville and what we should have heard from our president.

Nationally, it was a bad day for sure.  But locally I saw hope.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Web site update

Check out my web site for updated pictures of grand kids, grand dogs, and many nature and yard shots.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Contacting Customer Support

Have you ever tried contacting customer support for any number of things you do online?  Sometimes it's easy but other times it's very nearly impossible.

I've been a member of Amazon Prime for several months now.  It costs about $10 a month.   Amazon Prime members  get free two day shipping on most items and there's supposed to be free video streaming for most programs. This part of it has turned into a huge disappointment.  In fact it's a complete ripoff.  Every movie worth watching is an extra cost.  On top of that a TV series I used to get through Amazon is now only available through Acorn for another $4.95 a month.  Ridiculous.

So now the customer support part.  I've been trying to find a way to leave feedback similar to this post but they don't make it easy.  Of the hundreds of links on the website, there isn't one single way to leave general feedback.  Hmmm. I wonder if this is intentional.  Duh!

I'll keep trying and report back my findings. In the meantime if there's anyone out there who has the solution to this please message me. Thanks.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Happy birthday

Happy birthday to our son Peter Stockwell. Hope he has a great day.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Out goes the bad. In comes worse?

So Scaramucci is out and Ret. Marine Corps General Kelly is in.  And the parade and madness goes on. How long do you think it will be before Kelly gets fed up with his boss's lunacy and leaves? Let's have a pool. I'll give him about a month.

In the meantime the White House entrance has been remodeled. See below.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Happy August

  1. The birthstones for August are the peridot and the sardonyx.
  2. The zodiac signs for August are Leo (July 23 - August 22) and Virgo (August 23 - September 22)
  3. The birth flowers for August are the gladiolus and the poppy.
  4. On August 1, 1876, Colorado, also known as the Centennial State, became the 38th state of the United States.
  5. On August 2, 1909, the Lincoln penny was issued.
  6. On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail on his first voyage across the Atlantic.
  7. During the Civil War on August 5, 1864, the Battle of Mobile Bay was won by the Union forces.
  8. August 3, 1973,  Peter James Stockwell was born.
  9. On August 6, 1926, Gertrude Ederle successfully swam the English Channel.
  10. On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was used in warfare on Hiroshima, Japan.
  11. On August 7, 1942, the U.S. troops landed on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands during World War II.
  12. On August 9, 1974, Richard M. Nixon resigned from office, making him the first United States president to ever resign from office.
  13. On August 12, 1877, the phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison.
  14. On August 12, 1898, Hawaii was annexed by the United States.
  15. National Family Fun Month
  16. National Peach Month
  17. National Golf Month
  18. National Picnic Month
  19. Romance Awareness Month
  20. Friendship Day - first Sunday of August
  21. August 26 - Women's Equality Day
  22. Holidays Friendship Day Raksha Bandhan Women's Equality Day National Catfish Month Harvest Month National Water Quality Month Peach Month National Immunization Awareness Month Get Ready for Kindergarten Month

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Has your dog trained you?

We don't own a dog anymore but our children's families have dogs and we're often asked to dog sit.  I guess you could say they are our grand dogs so in that sense we kind of do have two dogs.  One is a boxer (Boomer) and the other a yellow lab (Daisy). 

Daisy is our guest this week while her family is on vacation. We tend to treat our grand dogs much like we do our grand children, i.e. we spoil them.

Daisy is one such example. She will probably get more treats this week than in the previous 20. In fact she has me so well trained that I never take her out with a few in my pocket.  They're a great way to keep her in our yard. 

I hope we don't send her home noticeably heavier.  We'll get in trouble!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Happy Moon Day

On this day 49 years ago history was made when the Eagle lunar module from Apollo 11 landed on the moon.  I remember exactly where I was that day. Do you? Do you think we should make more lunar landings?