Friday, October 28, 2011

A very short, disappointing Autumn

Here it is not quite November yet and they're talking about snow--as much as 8"-starting tomorrow.

I just finished blowing a significant accumulation of leaves out of the driveway since a snow blower's biggest enemy is a mix of heavy, wet snow and leaves.

Generally, it's been a disappointing autumn here in Newtown, CT. Many leaves fell from the trees before they turned and the colors on those that stayed were not as vivid as usual.

Oak and beech leaves are the last to turn and fall. Right now they're pretty much at their height and look nice enough but not like past years.

The maple and birch trees have been bare for a long time now.

I think the problem is a combination of the hurricane and other heavy rain storms that hit our region in rapid succession.

So here it is, winter bearing down on us. At least the snow blower is serviced and running and I have an ample supply of wood with more waiting to be picked up but the usual fall cleanup will have to wait until spring. What a mess it's going to be!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Coldest morning of the season

This morning the temperature in Newtown, CT was 35 degrees at 6:30 A.M.--the coldest morning of Autumn so far.

There are frost warnings for later in the week.

Thus far it has been a disappointing season.

Fall colors were not up to their usual standards. Many leaves have already fallen leaving all the maples and birches bare.

The Farmer's Almanac is calling for winter with below average temperature and precipitation. I hope they're wrong!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Another one of life's little annoyances

First, let me state unequivocally that I am very grateful for my good fortune. I am blessed beyond any expectations.

Yet...I like many of you are constantly encountering little annoyances here and there that tend to put a cloud over what would otherwise be a fine day.

Take this morning for example. Yesterday, first thing in the morning I called my doctor's office to make an appointment and arrange for blood work.

The secretary said she'd fax the blood work prescription to the lab so that when I showed up there it would be ready.

Past experience made me emphasize that I'd be going first thing in the morning (today) and please, please don't forget. Oh, no, Mr. Stockwell. As soon as I hang up I'll tend to it!

You guessed it! I get there this morning and surprise, surprise, no scrip from the doctor's office.

I left a short, terse message on their answering machine leaving no doubt that I was quite annoyed.

I'm not going to be able to get there now until Tuesday. I hope it gets there by then!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back to being a student

I recall during my teaching days that I used to emphasize over and over again that my students could expect to be and should be life-long learners.

No one knows everything and in a changing world there's always something to be learned.

I don't just pay lip-service to that advice. I follow it myself.

Last night was the first class of an Adult Ed course I started on photography--a skill I hope to develop (excuse the pun).

I'm not only interested in photography. I also know I could be doing it better. I have an iPhoto library of about 2400 pictures and at least half of them could be much better shots.

The camera I have can be used in either auto mode where I do nothing or manual mode where I configure all of the settings as I see fit.

As I learned last night, my camera isn't a particularly good one--but it's good enough--for now.

This is about my 6th Adult Ed class. I've taken other classes on landscape architecture, Adobe PhotoShop and web design skills.

I've also taught Adult Ed--or as it's now fittingly called "Continuing Education".

It's a great, no pressure, inexpensive way to learn new things.

I've posted many pictures I've taken on my web site ( There will be more. Check them out.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Three years and counting.

This being the third anniversary of my kidney surgery, the CT Scan and blood work results are in and all is well.

No more CT scans or contrast dye. For the next two years it will be a renal ultrasound and a simple chest XRay.

When I've reached 5 years out, I'll be officially released.

I'm one of the lucky ones (so far).

Monday, October 10, 2011

More lunacy from the right

The Rev. Robert Jeffress, a Baptist minister from Dallas, has started a firestorm on the right. His claim that Mitt Romney is not a Christian due to his Mormon faith is of course absurd.

Here's yet another example of far right, lunatic fringe thinking that we run into over and over again in politics.

Perry was of course right to quickly distance himself from the remark, but... It's that 'but' that's going to be his downfall. Moderate republicans don't like the 'fringe' any more than the rest of us.

These people are the most dangerous force in this country today. They will use every opportunity to jam their religion down our throats and think nothing of labeling those who resist as evil sinners.

The media needs to stop giving them a voice. Ignore them. They won't go away but at least they won't be bothering us any more.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rest In Peace, Steve Jobs

As I sit here listening to the Today Show, I'm typing this piece on an iMac. Not far away is my laptop, a MacBook Pro. Behind me is an iPod and an iPad. Somewhere else in the house is another iPod and my wife has yet a third one in her office.

And I don't regard ourselves as the kinds of people who have to have every new gadget that comes around the corner.

Such was the legacy of the single most influential and innovative man in the world of consumer technology.

Thanks, Steve. You've left very big shoes indeed to fill at Apple Corp.--a company by the way that was very nearly extinct less than 20 years ago and is now the most valuable company on earth.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Games Boys Play

My two grandsons Cole and Nicholas are brothers. Cole is going to be 4 in a few days and he's the one with the binoculars. Nicholas is 2 1/2 so they're pretty close in age.

Yet, they're about as different as you can get. While they both like to play with cars and trucks, Cole loves tools and gadgets and Nicholas loves sports.

When we go out to play, Cole heads for the shed where he puts on my leaf blower ear protectors and his plastic chain saw. Nicholas heads for some kind of, baseball, basketball.

Eventually they both end up on the swings or in the sand box but their differing interests are very obvious.

There is no reasonable explanation for this except that they were simply born that way.

So the question of the role of nature vs nurture continues.