Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Healing Goes On

Last week was a busy week for me between doctor's appointments, visits to nursing homes and on three days I was involved in activities at my grandsons' school-Sandy Hook Elementary.

We are  about six weeks from the three year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook.  They have been a very difficult three years for many people who were at the school at that time.  Several of the faculty have requested and received transfers to other schools.  Some people have left the district to teach at schools in other towns.  But as I was making my way to my grandson's second grade class, I encountered the kindergartners walking through the school in costume.  All the other classes were sitting in the halls watching them, laughing and having a good time. 

There's no question that the climate of the school has changed dramatically. Most everyone has successfully moved on and returned to as close to normal as one could reasonably expect.  It was good to see.

Next year will present a new set of challenges with the opening of the new Sandy Hook School on its original site.  The good news however is the children will be excited about it and with the possible exception of some of the fourth graders, they will not make any connections to what happened.  It will just be an exciting new school for them.  There will no doubt be a few more staffers who will request transfers (thus far the district policy is to allow all such requests).  I know of at least two people who will be retiring.  For the rest-life goes on. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Back to school....

 Back to school-
Today:  Pumpkin experiments with my grandson's first grade class.
Later Today:  Helped my 6th grade grand daughter with algebra problem (that's right-algebra in 6th grade).
Tomorrow: Take pictures in my older grandson's second grade class of an activity they're doing.

Coming up: states of matter with second graders (older grand son's class); Veterans's Day with grand daughter Courtney's 4th grade class. 

I'm not sure what else is coming up but it's all good stuff.  I get to be back in a classroom with my grand children and when I get home I can put it all out of my mind. 

What's better than that, right?

Monday, October 26, 2015

No way to start a day....

I usually begin every morning by watching the Today show for the morning news while I'm checking my emails and Facebook.  The only reason I watch Today is because it's on NBC and it's the local NBC30 station that I prefer to the others.  Increasingly, however, I am finding the Today show begins with something about Donald Trump.  This morning they announced plans to devote most of the program to a town hall meeting with him.  That was it! I've had enough. I am sick of the media giving this guy a free ride-especially it seems NBC.  I guess they can't find anything more newsworthy.  I switched to CBS this morning. I only watch these shows for about 15 or 20 minutes-long enough to and get the weather and see if anything interesting happened overnight.  From there I'll switch to something I've DVRd like 'How It's Made' or 'Modern Marvels' on the Science channel.  Sometimes I'll watch the history channel as long as it's not 'Swamp People' or some other stupid reality based show. And that's my rant for the day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The World of (some) New Cars

Sandi just leased a 2015 Acura TLX.  Acuras are made by Honda.  They're billed as Honda's luxury division and they're roughly equivalent to Toyota's Lexus or Nissan's Infinity although not as expensive.

This is the most amazing car I've ever driven.  I'm sure there are plenty of people who think it's nothing special but its many features are new to me.

The car has a powerful V6 engine and an 8 speed automatic transmission that you can barely feel shift.  It's also all wheel drive which for us is a must with our driveway and this climate.

These things are just the tip of the iceberg.  The car also has a navigation system which is by now old hat but I like the fact that you can program it for a location by voice.  In fact everything is voice activated.

Here are some other features:
Heated seats.
Collision avoidance system (blind spot warning and lane; lane change warning; following too closely warning).
Windshield wipers that  automatically adjusts their speed to amount of rain.
Engine shut off when the vehicle is stopped for more than a few seconds.  When you take your foot off the brake or move the steering wheel it starts up.
Two screens-one for navigation and the other a touch screen for climate control and audio settings.
There is no gear shift lever.  It's push button.  When you stop and open the door it automatically goes into park.  When you stop and push the on/off button the car goes into park and the engine shuts off.
There's a backup camera which is quite common on most vehicles now.
Keyless entry with two settings. Everything automatically adjusts to the driver 1 or driver 2 fob. 

 There's more but we're still learning how to use them so I'll update this later.

All in all a very nice vehicle. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Autumn in Newtown, CT.

I recently posted a slide show album of pictures of local fall colors.  It's on the photo gallery page of my web site.  Check it out.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy Happy Happy

Oct. 4-Happy birthday to my wife Sandi.
Oct. 11-Happy 8th birthday to our grandson Cole.
Oct. 12-Happy Columbus Day to one and all.

To see pictures of Sandi & Cole's birthdays (and more) click here:

To learn some interesting trivia about Columbus, read on:

Columbus landed in America, October 12, 1492.

·  Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 and he died in 1506 (aged 54).
·  Columbus was a skilled sailor and navigator.
·  He was certain that the Earth was round. Although this was the view of most scholars and navigators at the time, it was not what most of the people alive in Tudor times believed. Many in the 15th century still thought that the Earth was flat and that it was possible to sail off the edge of the world.
·  Columbus wanted to find an easy way to reach the East Indies (South-east Asia). He decided that the best route would be to travel west from Europe, around the globe. Other navigators had also thought about this option, but they didn’t try it because they thought the distance would be too great.
·  Christopher Columbus struggled to get financial support for his planned westerly voyage. He approached the King of Portugal, John II, in 1485, asking for three ships. He was turned down. Columbus then tried to get funding from Genoa and Venice. They also turned him down. Henry VII, King of England also wasn’t interested in putting money into the voyage. Christopher Columbus finally got the money and ships he needed from Queen Isabella of Spain. This was in 1492

  • On 3rd August 1492, Christopher Columbus and his crew set sail from Palos de la Frontera in Spain in three ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Nina. They stopped at the Canary Islands to restock their provisions before setting sail again on 6th September.
  • Land was spotted on 12th October. Columbus named the island, which is located in the Bahamas, San Salvador. Columbus went on to explore the northerly coast of Cuba, Hispaniola and the Samana Peninsula.
  • Although Christopher wasn’t the first European to visit the Americas – we now know that the norseman Leif Ericson made a voyage in the 11th century – he was responsible for bringing about lasting links between Europe and the Americas.
  • Columbus never believed that he had discovered a ‘new’ continent. He thought that he’d established a new route to the East Indies. For this reason, he called all of the native inhabitants of the island he visited indios, the Spanish for Indians.
  • Christopher Columbus finally returned to Spain in March 1493. He was welcomed as a hero and given the titles of Admiral of the Ocean Sea and Viceroy of the Indies.
  • Columbus made three more voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. He explored the islands of the Lesser Antilles and gave them European names (for example, Antigua and St Kitts).
  • He also visited Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Jamaica, Honduras, Nicagragua and Costa Rica.
  • Christopher Columbus set up colonies during his voyage, leaving groups of men to form settlements. The largest of these was the one he founded on the island of Hispaniola. Columbus was a poor ruler who often was very harsh and brutal when governing.
The Santa Maria wrecked on Columbus’ historic voyage.
On Christmas Eve of 1492, a cabin boy ran Columbus’s flagship into a coral reef on the northern coast of Hispaniola, near present-day Cap Haitien, Haiti. Its crew spent a very un-merry Christmas salvaging the Santa Maria’s cargo. Columbus returned to Spain aboard the Nina, but he had to leave nearly 40 crewmembers behind to start the first European settlement in the Americas—La Navidad. When Columbus returned to the settlement in the fall of 1493, none of the crew were found alive.

  • He initiated the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Columbus' son became the first African slave trader in 1505, according to founder and CEO of the Imagine Institute Eric Kasum.
  • Columbus believed he could conquer all of the natives and on his second journey he brought back cannons and attack dogs. One of his men, Bartolome De Las Casas, said he witnessed beheadings, dismemberments and rapes of natives by Columbus' men. De Las Casas stopped working for Columbus and became a priest after witnessing the monstrosities.
  • The explorer and his men disrupted the entire economy of three continents. Post-Columbian diseases killed more than three million people within the 50-year span after his arrival in the New World. It is also said Columbus brought syphilis from the New World back to the Old World.
  • Columbus never believed he found the New World, he thought it was a new passage to India. He also died thinking he found Asia — a place he had never been.
  • Half of his voyages ended in disaster: one of his ships sank, another ship rotted away and at one point his group spent a year lost in Jamaica.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

One down. Many to go

Mark this day-October 8, 2015.  One very big autumn chore is now complete.  For the past two months I've been cutting, splitting, stacking, cutting, splitting, stacking, cutting, splitting....well, you get the idea.  Five cords of fire wood.  Three of them bought cheap-cut but not split or seasoned.  Two of them gathered from various sources myself.  This is wood for the season after the upcoming one.  I already have 3 cords ready for this year.  And with any luck at all I could squeeze another year out of it which would bring me to 2018 when I reach my 75th birthday.

Coincidental with today's milestone I got the second and last oil delivery for 2015.  I will have used a total of 366 gallons which is 100 gallons less than the year before in spite of record cold temps.  So how do I account for the savings?  Simple-a new Vermont Castings wood burning stove.  Between the large drop in fuel prices and the new stove I've pretty much paid for all the wood I bought and a good chunk of the stove. Pretty neat, huh?

Now it's on to other fall chores: pruning, a few house repairs, leaves, final mowing.  It never ends but I'm not complaining because I have a house and yard to do it in and I have the energy (usually) to do it.

Bye for now.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Umpqua Community College, Oregon...Ten more...

Umpqua Community College,  Oregon.  Ten dead, 20 wounded. 

Politicians need to stop saying "our thoughts and prayers are with you" and do something.

What should they do you ask?  For starters pass Federal laws that call for background check, require a waiting period, ban off the shelf sails at gun shows and stiffen the penalties for selling firearms illegally.  Will that put a complete stop to these kinds of things?  No but it might stop a lot of them and that's a start.

Once that's done, we can take it from there.  No one wants to repeal the Second Amendment. No one wants to deprive sane people from enjoying sport shooting, hunting or protecting their lives or property. The goal is to take steps toward keeping firearms out of the hands of lunatics. It's that simple.