Friday, April 30, 2010

The month draws to an end.

When this day ends, April will end.  It's going out in grand style as we're expecting a very fine day.

The beginning of May will also be good as temperatures are climbing once again.

Nothing has inspired me to spend much time here today so I thought I would end the month with another look at Gator Golden.  Her "Mommy," Gator Wife, has walked the long driveway to the mail box.  GG would love to go with her, but she will not cross the invisible fence, not even if we replace the fence collar with a regular one and a leash. So she sits patiently and waits.

Once she gets to the fence line, she puts on the brakes and absolutely will not cross that line unless we literally drag her.  We won't do that.  So when GW heads for the mail box, GG sits right at the line.  The Invisible Fence line is just about six inches in front of her.


The birds, and we have many of them, know GG's limit, too.  It's fun sometimes watching out the window as a bird challenges the pup by flying about two feet off the ground from the line here all the way to the other side of the property.  GG, of course, takes off after the bird but always slams on the brakes when she reaches the other line. 

The bird usually stops in a tree until GG gets there and sits, watching.  Then off they go, dog chasing bird in the other direction.  I'm not aware that GG has ever caught a bird.

Have a great weekend.

GiM

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just another day

April is close to being over and perhaps yesterday's very minor shower event in my area will bring the blooming flowers.  Truth is, there are already many flowers blooming, including some little yellow ones on my lawn.  They've been there for a couple weeks, but now that we've put down some control, perhaps we'll have them completely under control in a few more days.

There is one oddity left for April, though.  On Friday, we'll be riding around our lawn with the mower in full power for the fourth time this month.  I can't remember ever mowing four times in April before.

The weather is about all I have left in my mind for this Thursday, and after being fooled by the weather people yesterday, I'm not even going to attempt to figure out what we'll have today.

I'm thinking it's about time I got some new pictures of Gator Golden.  Perhaps she'll cooperate a little with me while Gator Wife is out working in her gardens today.

That Last-Wednesday-of-the-Month lunch a bunch of us retirees have was down one as one of our members is doing his duty in the jury room someplace.  We did welcome my Fearless Friend back into the fold as he returned from his winter in Florida a few weeks ago.  I always look forward to that lunch and the fun conversation we have.

GiM

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A lousy (weather) day!

Update:  By noon we were still waiting for that rain.  The sun is out and blue skies are abundant  I like this kind of rain. 

Rain.  Or at least showers.  I suppose it could be worse.  I could live in the northern half of Maine where snow is the order of the day, at least close to the New Hampshire and Canadian borders.  Hard to imagine as April comes to an  end that snow is in the Maine weather forecast.  It isn't the norm, you understand, but it has happened before. 

I can remember a May when it snowed.  I had just bought my first two-wheeler.  Actually we bought two, one for Gator Wife and a slightly bigger one for me.  That was in a May.  The next day, we got snow.  My bike remained parked while I 'itched' to get it on the road.

But that was in another life a long, long time ago.

Today won't be a total washout, though.  It is the last Wednesday of the month, the day a group of us retirees, all from the same work place, meet for our monthly last-Wednesday-of-the-month lunch.  As it is every month, I expect a good time along with good conversation.  This little session is one the rain can't dampen.

Since I started this, it has turned light outside and I can see we aren't getting anything right now.  In fact there are even dry spots on my driveway.  The weather radar on the TV this morning, around six AM, also indicates that the biggest part of the storm is well to the east and north of us here on the Gator Spread.  I guess we'll just have to see what happens as the day moves along.

Meanwhile,  stay dry.

GiM

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Planning a trip is at least half the fun.

I had a really fun day yesterday doing some research on a trip Gator Wife and I might take in the fall.  As a result I didn't pay any attention to what I could write here today. 

It seems like a long time ago now that I first mentioned Branson, Missouri, in a post here.  It was about a telemarketer call I received offering me one of those "deals you can't refuse."  I refused it.  I remember the call because after I said, "No," the caller said he could sell me the same vacation package for a couple hundred dollars less.

When I told him that I could never buy from him now because I'd always wonder just much better a deal I could have gotten if I simply held out longer.  No matter what he offered, I'd always wonder just how good it was.  "Huh?" was his response and he added, "I never thought of that."

A couple of days later I got a comment from, I think it was the chairman of the Branson Chamber of Commerce, an official in Branson who urged me to not to dismiss all the fun that the place offers.  At the time I did a very quick research and responded to the official that, indeed, it looked like a fun place and that I might consider it down the road.

Well, we're "down the road."  I'm not sure just what brought it up, except GW and I were talking about a more elaborate vacation than the one we've secured for June.  Branson came up.  Then, as coincidence would have it, I was racing around my Senior Fitness center gym on a stationary bike last week when I mentioned to my fellow senior on the bike beside me that I was thinking of going to Branson.

"Oh," said he.  "My wife and I were there a couple years ago and I'd go back in a hearbeat.  My only complaint was that we were there for only three days and needed a whole lot more time to do just some of the things we wanted to do."  He highly recommended Branson as a vacation place.

Now that got my vacation juices flowing and I did a little more checking into the Music City called Branson and after sharing what I learned with GW, we've decided to make the trip.

Half or more of a vacation is the planning and that's how I spent just about all day yesterday, and I've only begun.  The number of incredibly great sounding shows there, and they range all the way from country music to Chinese Dancers, to Irish Dancers to Broadway hits, to comedy, oh, shucks, I could write about the possibilities for another many paragraphs, almost boggles the mind.  Suffice it, I guess, just to say, "If you can imagine wanting it for entertainment, it's in Branson."

We've got a few shows picked out, probably too many for the four days we'll be spending there, but as our daughter said over the weekend, "If it turns out just half as good as you think it will, you'll have a lot more to look forward to in another year."

We've still got a ways to go to figure out final event wants and a place to stay while there, but that'll just give me some more fun planning fun. 

I wonder if I should try to find the name of that official who wrote and send him a note telling him we listened, and now we're acting.  He's a good representative of his city.

Meanwhile yesterday morning, I received an e-mail from my Fearless Friend.  He was disappointed I hadn't mentioned Gator Golden's return home Sunday from her weekend "sleepover" with her sister, GD's Golden.  This is what I told him:  There really wasn't anything to mention except when it was time for GD to go home, GG hid behind GW so she could stay here.

So, because I spent the day in total fun yesterday, I didn't come up with anything about which to write today.  I'll try to do better.

GiM

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Political Visit

The primary elections are now just few weeks away and the various candidates or their representatives are out visiting homes trying to convince voters who is just the right person to grow Maine's economy and bring jobs to the state.

For only the third time in the sixteen years we've lived here on the Gator Homestead, a candidate has visited us.  Well, in this case it was a volunteer representative; but at least we got a visit.  The volunteer was for Gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Poliquin.  I mentioned a week ago that Poliquin was on my short list of Republican choices so I was glad to see his campaign out and about.

However, since it was only a volunteer to visited here, Poliquin only jumped a half point in my calculations.  A visit  by the man himself probably would have raised him a full point and into a tie for the number one spot.  I wonder if I'll get visits this year from the other three on my short list. 

The best visits come from the candidates themselves so I can hear how they respond to my concerns and see their eyes and hear their voices while they respond.  The young volunteer who visited over the weekend was polite and enthusiastic, but his eyes and voice didn't reflect what Poliquin's would have.

The first two visits were from the same person, a Democrat running for, and eventually elected as, state senator.  I actually voted for him the first time because he took the time to visit.  But he's a Democrat so I guess he had already learned the art of lying convincingly.  He lied to me in his responses to my concerns and when he got to Augusta voted absolutely opposite of what he told me.  He didn't get my vote the second time nor will he this coming November.  I think this time he will actually have a viable opponent.

I'm looking forward with the hope of meeting the candidates this time around.  I have personal mobility issues so chasing them around to hear them is not an option.  I also urge everyone to try to meet with the candidates for both parties and ask your own questions.  Carefully listen to and watch the responses and make up your mind.  Pay a lot of attention to the candidates in this upcoming primary.  It just may be the most important one we've had in years.

GiM

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lonely Weekend

Gator Golden is at a "Doggy Sleep Over" this weekend.  The weather lived up to the forecast Friday and the Gator homestead remained dry.  As a result we were able to put down the first step of the Scott four step lawn care plan.

Gator Daughter came over to share supper with us and then she took GG home with her to spend Friday night and Saturday into Sunday as her Golden's 'house guest.'  Thankfully, the two dogs, who were sisters at birth and probably have absolutely no clue of their connection now, get along fabulously.

I'm not sure this Saturday morning if we're going to pick up GG Sunday or if GD will be bringing her to our place to get a free meal.  I'm sure either way she's going to have a story to tell us.

Meanwhile, it's a little lonely in our home.  One never realizes just how much companionship a loving pet can bring to a family.  I must admit I miss having her bring me a toy for us to play with and her sitting there smiling at me to get my attention for some project she has in mind.  There even have been some occasions when I understood what she wanted.

She is Gator Wife's dog and those two communicate with ease.

That leaves us with a free weekend.  And what is our major accomplishment...waiting patiently for a smiling Golden Retriever to be welcomed home.

GiM

Friday, April 23, 2010

The NFL Draft

This Friday I think I'll delve into an area where I don't belong:  Sports.

Don't get me wrong, I love watching various sports events on TV and especially on the few occasions I now get to see one at the venue.  I especially love youth and amateur sports because, for the most part, participants in those games are usually playing out of a love of sport and not for the millions of dollars the professionals earn.

Last night I watched much of what simply has to be one of the most boring sports events of the year, the NFL draft.  I think it was the first time I've ever spent any time watching it, and it will most likely be the last.  I must admit that it was the suspense over where, if, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow would be selected.  After all, for us Gator fans, Tebow was probably the best quarterback and all around player in Gator history.  Some have even called him one of the best in all college football history.

No one was surprised that a different quarterback, Sam Bradford of Oklahoma, was the number pick of the draft.  Of course we Gators would be quick to point out that Bradford was running that team in his Heisman Trophy season of 2008 when Tebow led the Gators over the Sooners to win the National Championship.  And we're quick to point out that Tebow was also a Heisman winner and led the Gators to two championships.

After Bradford were two other top quarterbacks also predicted for early calls.  The pundits had said that Tebow will never be a good NFL quarterback and the other two would probably go early.  Both, Colt McCoy of Texas and Jimmy Clauson of Notre Dame, are still waiting today hoping to be picked at least in the second round.

Tebow is headed for Denver where he will be the third signal caller behind Kyle Orton  and Brady Quinn.  I think I may have secretly been hoping Tebow would end up as a Patriot, but the Pats let three opportunities to select him pass.  In that I was mildly disappointed.

Two other Gators were also taken in the first round.  Cornerback Joe Haden is headed for Cleveland and Center Maurkice Pouncey will become a Steeler.

Meanwhile, Sam Bradford may be in for the toughest time.  First round number one pick quarterbacks don't have a great history in the NFL.

Finally this Friday, the Red Sox.  The Red Sox.  What can I say?  Not much, I guess.  The current version of the Sox probably don't bring out the great fear in other teams this year that previous versions have done.  Both offense and defense have been less that spotty.  I think the American League teams this year are looking forward to a restful game when they're playing Boston.  Let's hope there's a turn around soon.

GiM

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Three in April

I got a little chuckle last evening when Ch. 6 meteorologist Joe Cupo talked briefly about lawn mowing.  He rhetorically asked if anyone could remember ever mowing a lawn in April.  He then said this is the one to do it and with possible showers today, this weekend might be the time for that mowing.

Why did I chuckle?  I mowed my lawn for the third...that's 3rd...time yesterday.  The truth be known, I didn't actually do the first one.  My neighbor Ed has one of those Walker commercial mowers, you know, the kind that literally turn in its own space.  He has an attachment for it that thatches lawns while he mows.  He took care of my lawn for me the first week in April.

Last week I took charge and gave my Big Green and Yellow Machine it's first lawn workout for the season.  As we all learned very early in life, once the mowing starts, the grass seems to grow much faster; and so it did here.  So the J-D toured the yard again yesterday.  And that made it three mows for the month of April.

Actually it probably could have waited another few days but we want to get the spring fertilizer down.  That chore had been planned for last weekend but was rained out, and this first one wants a dry grass and wants to be done before the fourth mowing. 

Gator Daughter is coming over tomorrow night to enjoy her evening meal with us.  We'll get the fertilizer spread throughout and she'll take Gator Golden home until Sunday.  The bag says the fertilizer is pet safe, but we just feel a little more comfortable if we keep GG off it for 24 hours or so.

So, Joe, yep!  Mowing in April is not somehing new, but I really don't remember doing it three times before.

GiM

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Feeling Good About Me

Any of you who have followed me over the last couple of years know I have multiple health issues.  In the past I've written about each of many trips to doctors, all consuming a half year of medical visits since my health issues began back in February of 2000. 

Until now, all these appointments, tests, prods, zaps have begun each year in September and continued into March or April, usually spaced two or three weeks apart.

That'll all change this year as yesterday I had the concluding checkup for this cycle.  And now, because of all my visits since last September, I'm free and clear until next year.  The ordeal won't start over until January, 2011, because my doctors have done a great job.

I have a terrific team of physicians, including my primary care guy, a neurosurgeon, and a cardiologist.  Each of these have associate members who also have been involved.  The cardiologist needed to see me every six months and it was he who suggested I have an ICD (Implanted Cardioverter Device).  If you were reading this spot in 2008, you may remember I began that venture with the doc saying to me, "We need to start a conversation."  Those are words patients don't like to hear.

The implant was done in January 2009, just eight years after my near fatal heart attack.  The device works and has helped to improve my heart's pump function.  Following my six-month visit in March this year, the doc announced what I consider to be super news:  he wouldn't need to see me again until next January.

Yesterday I had my check up with my neurologist.  He is watching with care aneurysms in my abdomen.  I first met him back in 2001 when all this began with what is called a Triple-A, Abdominal Arterial Aneurysm.  Mine had burst and the resulting loss of blood led to that heart attack.  The doc saved my life.  I still have aneurysms in my body and have a CT Scan every year to follow their development, or lack of development.

This year's scan was last week and yesterday I got the good news that all continues to be OK and there's no change in those little devils that continue to reside in me.  I don't have to see this doc again until next April.

And so all those tests, prods, zaps, pictures, etc., are done until 2011.  This will be the longest stretch without some sort of medical stuff I've gone through in this century.

And that's good, especially for a guy who has reached his mid 70s through all this.

Thanks for bearing with me today and allowing me to get this story out of my head.  I'm feeling pretty good today.

GiM

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Impact of Tax Reform Income Tax Deductions

Last week I posted comments on the upcoming People's Veto of a so-called tax reform package passed by the Democrats (and one Republican) during the last legislative session.  I gave my interpretation of how taxes will actually increase for most people in spite of the Democrats' claim the reform is "revenue neutral" and because of the change in the income tax structure, they say most will pay fewer taxes.

(Since the purpose of taxation is to get revenue, why is it necessary to "reform" a structure and keep it revenue neutral?  Of course.  There is no need.  What we do need is a reform that will lower taxes for everyone.)

If you want to review what I said, you can find it here.

As most of you know, the forum As Maine Goes is one place I like to read and much of that post came from it.  Rep. Jon McKane had posted a list of new taxes if the repeal fails.

Monday, Rep. McKane was back quoting an accountant who gives a rather interesting explanation of the tax credits the Dems included when they eliminated all deductions.  It is a very confusing scenario but one you should read because all those credits stop very early as income increases.

Because it's proprietory information, I'm not going to copy it here, but I do invite you view the explanation on the AMG forum.  Go to this place and scroll down to the second J. McKane's post (#72) on the page.

Revenue neutral?  Sure!  Vote YES on question one on the June 8th ballot.

GiM

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gubernatorial Primary

It's still a month and a half away, but I was thinking about the upcoming state primary elections this past weekend.  Both parties have candidates vying for the gubernatorial nomination for the parties, but I'm a registered Republican so that's the one I'm trying to sort out right now.

Current Gov. John Baldacci has reached his term limit so there will be a new governor.

It seems to me that no matter which Democrat wins that party's nomination, if that person is elected we'll just be continuing the fall into the abyss of a rotten economy we've been experiencing for the past 40 years or so.  It'll be just more of the same but with a different name in the Blaine House.  And the name will be all that's different.

There are seven candidates running for the Republican nomination and one of them is also just more of the same.  A quick check of the state ballot web site shows only five. 

I like what two or three of the candidates have been saying in both their advertisements, although I must admit I haven't seen ads from two or three, and in radio and TV interviews. 

But news out of Waterville this past week may have turned my tide to Paul LePage.  He not only says much of what I want to hear about issues, but he also walks the talk as Mayor of Waterville, a Republican who has apparently maintained a workable fiscal policy in spite of being a mayor in a Democrat stronghold.  The news concerned his stand on the city budget and he says he'll veto it if it contains tax increases.  It's not the right economy, he says, to be taking more money from the residents.

Three others keep rolling around in my head.  Alphabetically they are Steve Abbott, Bill Beardsley, and Bruce Poliquin.  I like what I hear them say, but "saying" is easy and too many times we've liked what candidates have said only to watch them literally change their stripes as elected officials. 

My final decision is still in the future and I'll probably vascillate among the four many times between now and the first of June.  (For family reasons I'll have to vote early.)  If, however, the election were today, I know where my mark would be.

I'll keep you posted on my changes.

GiM

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blah Weekend!

This isn't one of the nicest weekends we've had this spring.  In fact, it's very close to being about the worst.  It's cold, wet, and some places have even seen some snow.

I suspect most of our kids are looking upon this weekend as a terrible start to school vacation week.  Possibly teachers, too.

All the plans the Gator Clan had for the weekend have gone by the wayside.  Gator Wife and Gator Daughter had thought about beginning their outside spring work.  We were also going to drop the first feeding of our annual fertilizer and GD was planning to take Gator Golden home for a 24 hour period so GG wouldn't get sick.

It's hard to believe, after the great month of March that we're now getting early spring weather.  In any case, our weekend is all messed up. 

Sorry to sound so negative, but I got spoiled during late winter and the first couple weeks of spring.  I liked that weather much better.

Enjoy your weekend.

GiM

Friday, April 16, 2010

If Veto Fails, New Sales Tax Items

You’re going to hear/read a lot about one issue facing voters in June. It is the Democrat so-called tax reform package. The plan does reduce the income taxes for those in the top brackets a little, but it also raises the tax for those in the lower tax brackets. That top bracket will be lowered from 8.5% to 6.5% while all taxpayers below 6.5% will be raised to it. Also, all deductions are eliminated and tax will be based on full income, not the income minus property tax, health care, etc.

That looks to me like a tax increase for many people, except based on income tax payers will be allowed some tax credits. Those credits stop, however, at higher income levels. In other words, the higher the income the lower the credits.

To pay for all this, the Democrats added sales tax to many items which cuts any relief from the income tax even further and even could cause many, if not most, tax payers pay more to the state.

On one of the forums I read regularly, As Maine Goes , State Rep. Jon McKane posted the following list of new items subject to the sales tax which he got from the Maine Merchants Association.

“The following is a list of items to be taxed if the people's veto fails in June. Please forward to anyone who owns, manages, works for, subcontracts or hires any of these businesses.

1. Auto repair labor
2. Candy tax up 70%
3. Dry cleaning
4. Meal tax increased to 8.5%
5. Lodging Tax increased to 8.5%
6. Wash, Dry, Fold laundry
7. Car Washing
8. Car Vacuuming
9. Liquor sold at restaurants / bars increased to 8.5%
10. Car Rentals up 25%
11. Telecommunications, 5% tax on service
12. Limousine services
13. $1 pp for taxi or limo to/from airports
14. Jewelry repair
15. Camera repair
16. Gun repair
17. Musical instruments repair
18. Electronic equipment repair
19. Lawn and garden equipment repair
20. Computer hardware repair
21. Office equipment repair
22. Tailoring
23. Shoe repair
24. Furniture repair
25. Movie tickets
26. Theater tickets
27. Tickets to lectures
28. Concert tickets
29. Festival tickets
30. Amusement park tickets
31. Water park tickets
32. Tickets to fairgrounds (except Ag fairs)
33. Tickets to race tracks
34. Tickets to carnivals
35. Circus Tickets
36. Sports Tickets (except school sports)
37. Museum Tickets (except non-profit operations)
38. Planetarium tickets
39. Animal park tickets
40. Petting zoo tickets
41. Aquarium tickets
42. Tickets to historical sites
43. Tickets to convention centers
44. Miniature golf
45. Billiard parlors
46. Go-cart courses
47. Paintball
48. Golf driving range
49. Tickets to auto shows
50. Tickets to boat shows
51. Tickets to camping shows
52. Tickets to home shows
53. Tickets to flower / garden shows
54. Tickets to animal shows
55. Tickets to antique shows
56. Whitewater rafting (unless on federally navigable waters)
57. Wagon rides
58. Sightseeing bus tours
59. Aircraft sightseeing
60. Helicopter rides
61. Hot air balloon rides
62. Sightseeing boat tours
63. Sightseeing railroad tours
64. Trolley tours
65. Hired bands for events
66. Hired DJ’s for events
67. Comedians
68. Hired clowns for kids parties
69. Jugglers
70. Ventriloquists
71. Bar cover charges (if band is playing)
72. Diaper services
73. Embroidery and monogramming
74. Pressure cleaning and washing services
75. Pet exercising
76. Pet sitting
77. Pet training
78. Pet grooming
79. Pet boarding
80. Picture framing
81. House cleaning
82. Furniture cleaning
83. Rug cleaning
84. Interior decoration
85. Meal preparation
86. Butchering
87. Art restoration
88. Rental of storage units
89. Moving
90. Vehicle towing
91. Boat mooring
92. Service provided by Maine Guides
93. Use of photos (leased)
94. Leasing of office equipment (copier, postage machine, etc)
95. Service contracts
96. Adult entertainment (aka exotic dancers)
97. Home staging for real estate
98. Motor repair on a boat (if not attached to boat)
99. Expanded list of “soft drinks”
100. Courier Services
101. Daily rentals of tuxedos, gowns, ski equip, etc
102. Rental of safe deposit boxes"

(Here is his post on the forum which says the same thing.)
 
The Old Gator urges a YES vote in June to repeal the Democrats’ shift and shaft tax reform scheme.
 
GiM

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Day

Thursday, April 15th. By midnight most of will have placed our federal and state income tax forms into the mail. Some will only file for an extension which will give them another six months to get the work done as long as they include what they expect to have to pay, if anything.

Of course many who are expecting refunds probably filed several weeks ago and are already enjoying their refunds. I won’t go into why expecting an annual refund isn’t a good idea here, except to say that if you planned for a refund when you completed your automatic withholding tax, you have been letting the government use your money without any benefit to you. That money isn’t earning for you.

I find myself in a position of having to pay both federal and state income taxes this year in site of having sent in quarterly payments all year. I miscalculated. So I’m among those waiting until now to get my forms into the mail system. They’re gone now, along with my first quarterly for 2010 which is also due April 15th.

A weekly blog I read each Wednesday has a super essay on the income tax this week. It speaks quite nicely to just how unfair the income tax really is. You think we’re all contributing our fair share equally? Read Tom McLaughlin's take on it and if you haven’t really given it a lot of thought, it’ll open your eyes.

GiM

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Road Construction

The summer driving season is here even though summer is still more than a couple months away. Tuesday Gator Wife and I were riding in several places in Portland, Scarborough, Biddeford and places in between. We came across several roads with the flaggers controlling traffic. You know the ones. They stand in one place all day long with a pair of signs on a pole: Slow, Stop.

Sometimes by sight, sometimes by car count I suspect, and sometimes via two-way radio communications with another flagger on the other end of the construction, the flaggers turn their little signs to either direct the traffic onward or stop it.

This is a great service to the motorist, and most of the time drivers are warned well in advance that such a construction situation is just ahead. Some of these people do an outstanding job of minimizing as much as possible the delays the work is causing and they seem to be fair in how they let cars/trucks through.

Tuesday, though, we came upon a couple of signs that got us to thinking. They were electronic ones that warned us we were approaching a construction zone and be prepared to slow down or stop. Then the electronic message blinked to a new frame: "To avoid delays, seek an alternate route."

What a ridiculous direction! In one place, we were in an area totally unfamiliar to us. We had absolutely no idea where there were any "alternate routes" we could seek. We literally had no choice but to continue on to the flagger and patiently wait for our turn to pass the construction.

GW and I have driven throughout this country and have run into road construction more often than I can remember to count. I understand the need for road construction and the need to keep traffic away as much as possible. Most places, including here in Maine, when we're asked to use an alternate route, detour signs direct us to turn, give us directions along the way, and those detours get us back to our original route. It adds a few miles and a little time, but for many of us just keeping the car moving forward is better than just sitting, waiting.

Another place where we found one of those "seek alternative route" signs was in Portland. This one was just plain foolish. First, the length of the construction at that point was a block or less. From the time we first saw the "seek" sign until a block later when we saw the "end construction" sign, there were no side streets or any way to do any seeking except, if we could, turn around and go back to look.

We live in Maine which has a short road construction season, so we have no choice but to live with the delays. But it seems to me it would lengthen some fuses if we were given alternate routes rather than simply admonished to find one in an totally unfamiliar area. And contractors should be sure that flaggers are properly trained to alternate direction of flow in a fair, equal manner.

GiM

Monday, April 12, 2010

Some Monday Thoughts

On this Monday, I decided to get a couple items off my chest. But first, my Fearless Friend and Mrs. FF arrived back in Maine after spending the last three months or so in Florida. They own a home down there and it is very near to the Major League Baseball training grounds. Both like baseball so take in several spring training games. Spring training ended so they came home.

Welcome home to Maine, my good friends.

Now, here are my random thoughts from the weekend:

>>>We’re now less than two months away from the June primaries. One of the issues facing me is the selection of which Republican we want to face the eventual Democrat nominee in November in the race for governor. John Baldacci is term-limited out so no matter who wins, we will have a new governor. My interest right now lies in the Republican side of the ticket.

There are seven contenders and some of them seem to be pretty close in ideology. As of this day I’m still in the undecided column, although I have eliminated at least three of the contenders from getting my vote. I may have eliminated another one yesterday as the candidate being interviewed by Pat Callahan on WCSH impressed me not at all.

I do have a tentative preference order of the remaining three, but I still need to do a lot of reading and listening before I narrow them down. I do think my preference will be a candidate who has not been widely involved in state political actions as those who have seemed to be too stuck in many of the problems that face us.

>>>Before this day is over, we should know the fate of the Democrat sponsored bond package being proposed for Maine. The package, which includes buying railroad lines in Northern Maine, and other transportation plans, has passed the House of Representatives but stalled out last week in the State Senate.

I believe it should have been killed outright. Wasn’t it just a year ago the Democrats promised that if Republicans would go along with last year’s bonding package, which included a portion being decided in June this year, no new one would be put forth? They put forth two new ones this year, but consolidated them into one. In my world, a deal is a deal; and if my memory is correct, one group demonstrated once again it lies and cannot be trusted. But then I’m in my mid-70s so my memory could be faulty.

I can’t understand why the State should buy railroad lines whose owners are going to abandon because they are not profitable. If this bond passes, we will be stuck with maintaining those lines for generations to come.

>>>Republicans who successfully created a People’s Veto campaign to put a Democrat shift and shaft tax “reform” package before voters seem to have lost their voices as we approach that vote. The so-called reform package lowered the top income tax rate to 6.5% but raised all lower brackets up to that percentage. It also took away all deductions, like property taxes and the myriad of other breaks, and replaced deductions with an income-dependent sliding scale of credits.

Many people believe they’ll pay less income tax, and some will. But to replace the money the Democrats included a whole long list of new items subject to the sales tax. Just wait until you see how much more in sales tax you’ll be spending. Any income tax savings will quickly be wiped out.

The proponents of the new tax have begun their campaign and are urging us to vote against what they are calling a tax increase if the repeal passes. I agree with them and also urge voters to vote against a tax increase and vote “Yes” on question one…repeal the shift and shaft plan.

>>>We have a new health reform law. And we’re learning on a daily basis about the provisions of that law and how it will affect us. How do you like the new “Hope and Change?”

>>>And finally, I saw a disturbing commercial on TV last night. It was a commercial showing a young person tied between two bungy cords. A tractor pulled her about as far as the cords would stretch and she was released from the machine. She then bounced back and forth just feet above the ground as the announcer sold his product. This was a very scary commercial and I can see young people "trying this at home" with disastrous results.

GiM

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My friends will be welcomed home

We're taking a brief break from the postings of late to wish my Fearless Friend and Mrs. FF a safe trip home.  They spend about three months in Florida every winter, and time that stay with spring major league baseball training.  Both enjoy baseball and attend several spring games of the Houston Astros, which trains very near to FF's Florida home.

From about sun-up this morning and for the next several days, they'll be on the road heading for their home here in Maine.  They will enjoy a brief stay at FF's sister's home in Virginia on their way home.

I just wanted to take a brief moment today to wish them a happy and pleasant trip up the East Coast and hope that they meet no nasty events along the way.

They have two very adult kids (you know our kids remain our kids even when they reach their forties) waiting to greet them.

Fearless Friend and Mrs. FF will be made to feel most welcome home.

GiM

Sunday, April 4, 2010

GG and The Ball

Gator Golden had a fun spring afternoon.
video

GiM

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April off to a good start

The President has come and gone.  I didn't see him as I said I wouldn't.  But a lot of folks did and from what I saw on the news, both the supporters and protestors outside the Expo during his visit did themselves proud.  They were there, but civility reigned; and that's a good thing.

Thursday was just one of those wonderful Maine weather days.  Our temperatures only got into the mid sixties, but there was very little, if any, wind and it was a jacketless day.  What a most welcome change it was following three days of miserable heavy rain and wind.

The weather is forecast to continue into Sunday and even the first half of next week will have above average temperatures even though they'll be a little cooler than Thursday's.

Plans are not finalized yet, but there's a good chance the Gator Clan will spend much of this weekend in the outdoors working on those things that bring beauty to our little corner of the universe.  And do I smell a cookout?

There is a good thing this coming week.  My Fearless Friend and his wife will pack up their van and head home after spending three months in Florida.  They'll be welcome home.  I think there have been times when, relatively speaking, we've had nicer weather than they've had down there.

GiM

A President Visits

The President of the United States will be in Portland this afternoon.  He will discuss his health care bill at the Portland Expo building.  I will not be there.

I honor the office of the President and if I were just a tad younger or if my kids were still tots, I probably would at least be somewhere along the route.  After all, whether we agree with this President's philosophies or not, he is still our President. 

I haven't seen in person many Presidents; and those I have seen have mostly been Democrat ones.  I have interview one Republican as he was running for the office.  Richard Nixon was in Florida once and I had the privilege of interviewing him, but he hadn't yet been elected. 

I was in the press section and broadcast a visit by LBJ many years ago and I have spent time on Congress Street as Presidents passed.  It did not matter if those I saw were D's or R's.  They were at their time the President of the United States.

And I was proud to have witnessed our local history taking place.  Mobility issues prevent me from seeing our current one as he visits our city.  But that changes nothing; the President of the United States is visiting Portland, Maine, today.

GiM