Saturday, May 31, 2008

An End; A Beginning!

Today is the 31st day of May. It sure seems like the month has just flown by. It was a busy month, especially for my wife and daughter. They spent a goodly portion of it preparing and planting the flower and vegetable gardens around the house. It was also a month that seemed to free the soul from winter's confinement, even though April wasn't too bad, either.

But now June comes. Even though Maine's official summer began a week ago, the real thing will arrive in just a few weeks. For our family, there's a little sadness this season as the high price of gasoline will keep us rather close to home. Our annual vacation trip has been cancelled as we must begin saving for what could be a devastating winter oil price.

Yesterday I wrote about a problem I’m having installing Mozilla's FireFox web browser on my Vista run laptop computer. The problem is once I begin the install process, FireFox needs to access its home site to complete the process. A little research on the web site of my Internet Security program revealed some fascinating information. I think. As I read the answer to my inquiry, it appeared that the security program that came installed on my computer does not support Vista. Bummer!

There is always the possibility I read the information incorrectly. After all, it was a long day and this old mind was beginning to get weary. It’s also possible I got duped by Dell. I’ve looked at three different sites now, including the internet suite’s site, the FireFox site, and Dell. They all give me the same basic information: the version of Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Suite that came bundled with my Dell is not Vista compatible. It seems inconceivable to me that a company like Dell would bundle a non-Vista compatible software program on its Vista computers. I’ve sent a request for an explanation to Dell which could be interesting. Meanwhile, anyone who buys a Vista run computer from Dell had better do a better job at asking questions than I did.

Here’s an update on some information I should have mentioned earlier this week. Two weeks ago I mentioned that my daughter was using her spare time studying for a certification test that she’s spent more than two years preparing for. She had passed all the intermittent tests along the way and this one would end her quest. I’m proud to say she is now one of the most certified employee benefits people in Maine.

We did have some light showers overnight and the forecast for today is light rain and showers, possible a clap of thunder or two. In fact, a fairly strong thunder storm just rolled through my area. I guess my desire for rain yesterday came true and I won’t be out mowing my lawn today. My machine does extremely poorly bagging even damp grass so mowing wet stuff is an absolute no-no. We need this rain, however. Even though we’ve run our irrigation system a couple of times recently, both my lawn and my wife’s flower and vegetable gardens are powder dry. Even though it’s a weekend, we really need a couple of days of a light, steady, soaking rain.

The wetness outside means my wife will be working inside. That means I’ll be working inside. She’s been doing spring cleaning and today it’s the kitchen’s turn. She’s a little behind most people in the spring cleaning department but that’s because she has spent a lot of her time outdoors preparing and planting her gardens. A redecorating of a room/porch has also consumed a lot of her time. So today, possibly tomorrow, too, she’ll be going through the kitchen cupboards, straightening them out, and after my cake adventure with an old box of mix finding and tossing outdated stuff.

My guess is she won’t decide until Sunday what we’ll do then. We’ll have to wait until then to see what the weather brings. Bad weather will keep us inside; good weather will put us outside with her in her gardens and me riding around on my lawnmower.

The weekend has arrived. I hope you have a great one and won’t let the weather get you down. We’ll be back again Monday.


Friday, May 30, 2008

We try to solve problems on Fridays.

Fridays are good days in Maine’s Gator Country. It’s not because the end of the week is near simply because the retired folk type activities are really seven days long. If we have something to do, we do it when the mood fits. No, I like Fridays because that’s a day when my good friend, the Fearless One, drops by. He lives a quite a distance from me, but his office before he retired is virtually across the street on which I live. He has a standing Friday “Chowdah” session with at least one buddy and sometimes more who still work there. So, he comes to visit me for a couple of hours before he heads out for lunch.

Good deal for me, too. It is on these days that more often than not my fearless friend (FF) helps me solve computer problems. I mentioned before, as you may recall, that he will simply charge right into about any computer problem whether he knows anything about it or not. I had a couple minor ones that he volunteered to help with this morning. And, to my surprise, he was not 100% successful. This was a most unusual experience.

It wasn’t a big deal that he couldn’t find an answer. The problem should have been simple. I’m trying to figure out how to install Mozilla’s FireFox web browser on my Vista based laptop. FireFox installed easily on my XP machines, actually in less than 30 seconds. But I’ll be darned, and today FF will also be darned, if we can get it to run on the Vista one. The installation gets to within sight of the end, at about the 15 or 20 second mark, and then it just plain stops.

Both FF and I think the solution will be so simple when we find it that we’ll wonder how we could have missed it. We have visited the Mozilla web site but didn’t find the solution. It’ll be there somewhere so I’ll head back in a day or two and take a lot of time to search. Meanwhile, I have FireFox working on two computers and the ever popular IE on the other. Naturally, the other is the one I use most nowadays.

I’d bet a button on FF’s getting the problem solved if I don’t find the solution in the future. I think he simply ran out of time today as he heard those sea creatures calling him to his “chowdah.” I should point he quickly and easily solved my other problem.

A few days ago I mentioned a commercial that had caught my attention. It’s the one where the zombies (boy, I’ll bet Sheepish Annie would like that commercial as she’s heavily into zombies) stare off into space stereotyping the blank folk who cannot go the bathroom without a cell phone planted in their ear as a balloon or bubble of some sort drifts by. It’s one of the few commercials that I notice when they’re on. Not because they’re good commercials but because of the models in them. Someday I may even remember the name of the sponsor.

There are two commercials that I honestly do like. I think the discount surplus store Marden’s, which has several locations around Maine, has absolutely the best spokesperson on television. The “Marden Lady,” who I think is a local actress from the Scarborough area, has captured the image Marden apparently wants to convey in those commercials. She’s so good, you see, that I do remember the name of the company in those ads.

And the other is a public service announcement. I don’t know if it’s locally produced or not, but it is promoting a Stop Smoking campaign by Maine’s health department. I don’t smoke so the campaign itself doesn’t affect me at all. But this particular spot highlights several little kids who “smoke” because their parents smoke around them. The kids are cute, adorable, and just wonderful little actors and actresses. The one I really like best, though, is the last one in the ad. He thought he had quit once, then a close-up as he says he’s got to try again.

I do have one criticism of the ad, though. I have a hearing deficiency and do wear hearing aids. I’ve been listening to these stop smoking ads for quite a while. They tell me to call somewhere and I can get help. I don’t need it as I don’t smoke and perhaps that’s why, after I think a couple of years, I still have no hint whom I’m supposed to call. To my deficient ear, it sounds like “hepple,” but from the rest of the ad that makes no sense.

The weekend will be here in just a little while, and the forecast says we might get some very much needed rain. My lawn needs it. My wife’s gardens need it. And I need it so I’ll have an excuse not to mow tomorrow.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Come on, Republicans! Start talking issues.

I continue to be disturbed by the tone of the Republican congressional primary coming up in less than two weeks. Two candidates, Charles Summers and Dean Scontras, are seeking the nomination to run for Maine’s First Congressional District seat. The incumbent, Thomas Allen (D) is giving up the seat to run against Republican incumbent Senator Susan Collins.

I have been hoping that what started out last week as contentious sniping would evolve into more issued oriented campaigning this week. The sniping by the candidates and their supporters continues. Some of the sniping may have some merit. Scontras says that Charlie Summers voted in 1991 while he was a member of the State Senate to raise taxes. Factually, he did. But Summers says his vote was the result of a compromise with Democrats. Summers, who is from Illinois, says Scontras only registered to vote two years ago after have left the state many years ago. Factually, that’s true. But Scontras was born in Maine and educated here before he left to earn his “fortune.”

An awful lot of water has passed under the bridge in the last 15 to 20 years. Both men have grown and have accomplished much success. Summers has worked for Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, served in the Legislature, led the Small Business Administration in Maine. That makes him a veteran in politics. Scontras is making his first foray into the world of politics which makes him a newcomer.

Summers has been labeled a moderate. Scontras calls himself a conservative. As just one example, on abortion, Summers is pro-choice; Scontras, pro-life. Their stands on several issues are reflected in the same manner, but they are too numerous for me to comment here. But I’ve heard of their stands primarily through the writings and opinions of their respective supporters. I’d like to hear directly from them. Their sniping tells me nothing about either, except, perhaps, Democrat Adam Cote might be the best choice of all running.

The Democrats, at least so far, haven’t lowered themselves to the sniping level. They are issuing ads that tell me what they would like to accomplish. They are using real issues to promote their personal, very expensive to the taxpayer goals. At least through their own comments I can reflect of my perception of the truth. Shellie Pingree, for example, touts her work in lowering medical costs and wants to do the same for the nation. Her efforts have been among those that have put Maine among the highest health cost states in the nation. Ethan Strimling is proud he supported an increase in the minimum wage which will raise the cost of goods for every Mainer. And then there’s that Lawrence guy whose only goal, it seems, is to impeach a President who won’t be in office before the charges can be filed.

But at least the Democrats are talking issues and letting me decide which are fanciful and which might be realistic. Of course I don’t have a voice in that primary; but if Cote wins the nod, I’ll have more heavy thinking to do.

I’m patiently waiting, Summers and Scontras, for you guys to start talking issues. I did attend what was billed as a debate recently, but the more I think of it, it was a terrible affair. The candidates tried to spin answers to some poorly designed questions to suit their purposes for the night. At the time, I thought I learned something. In retrospect and further thought I learned precious little.

Petition topic: Today various health care organizations are asking Mainers not to sign a petition to put a repeal of a massive 70-million dollar tax increase passed in the last moments of the last Legislature to fund Dirigo on the November ballot. These health organizations are buying into the lie the Democrats put forth that the world will end as we know it without these taxes. This increase was designed solely to fund the failed insurance program the state promotes. The program will not be ended and health care to individuals will not end if the tax is repealed. Only the way the program is funded will revert to its present structure. And only a minute percentage of the state’s neediest, as the health people will claim will be affected, are covered by DirigoChoice anyway. I will continue to seek out a petition to sign and I hope you will, too.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The month's last Wednesday and a Petition Call

I like the last Wednesday of the month. I get a chance to go out to lunch with a bunch of great people with whom I worked for a goodly amount of years. We meet this day at an inexpensive eating place, talk about the month’s activities, the state of the land, the latest in sports, actually just about anything and everything that comes to mind.

We all are retired from the same work place so that also becomes a great sourced of discussion. The folks that will be meeting today are all what I guess one might call the old guard. We generally began these meetings some 14 years ago. We’ve had some others from time to time who joined us for brief spells, and at least one that drops by periodically now. But most of us have been together monthly for nearly the full time.

Short vacations, illnesses, and other obligations have kept each of us away for a session or two during these years, but the majority is there each month. One of the original groups is now a full time resident of another state and we rarely see him, but when he visits Maine, he includes a session or two. Two others are “snow birds” who head for Florida for a few months in the winter, so they miss those days. But generally, it’s a good and lively group of old retired men and the one remaining woman that gets together on these last Wednesdays of the month.

On another topic, I received a phone call yesterday. I think many of you may have received the same or similar call. My daughter had one left on her answering machine one day last week. It was a recorded message from a woman who did identify herself by name and said she was a registered nurse from Belgrade. The topic of the call was the petition drive now in full swing to get a huge tax increase law passed by the last legislature in the waning moments of its session. The law was designed to fund the state’s failed insurance plan called Dirigo.

This Belgrade RN was urging call recipients not to sign the petition. She said the repeal of the law would end health care for a goodly number of Maine’s most needy citizens. That isn’t a blatant lie as there are about 14-thousand Mainers on the DirigoChoice state insurance plan. But, if Dirigo did end, and the petition drive isn’t to end the insurance plan but only the huge tax increase designed to fund it, it might start competition to bring down health costs for all Mainers. All a repeal of the law would do is return funding to its present way, charging companies for what the state says are savings due to Dirigo.

When the legislature fostered this failed plan on us five years ago, it promised that it would be self-sustaining and that more than 130-thousand previously uninsured would be on the plan. Five years later, the legislature continues to pass taxes to force every single person in the state to pay for Dirigo and the 14-thousand people the state says is on the plan cannot even come close to self funding.

That 14-thousand number is also sort of specious. The state tosses around different numbers from having more than 25-thousand people on the plan at some time, many of whom left, to less than the popular 14-thousand now depending on who’s speaking and for what purpose. To the best of my knowledge, the truth has never been revealed, possibly because the state simply can’t justify the numbers and cost.

We also read, but it’s rarely reported in the state’s news media, that of those 14-thousand, more than half aren’t on the DirigoChoice plan itself but rather part of MaineCare, the state’s version of Medicare. And mostly funded by Medicare. And of that 14-thousand, about five thousand already were paying for their own private insurance but switched, apparently to let you and me pay for a goodly portion of it for them.

Using the same scare tactics that have been employed by the Democrats in each of the last election years to scare people into falsely believing the sky will fall, that RN from Belgrade says the neediest will lose their health care if the tax is repealed. After all, she suggests, what’s a few extra pennies on the drinks you buy to insure those needy.

One of the main problems with the argument is we will be paying for that health care anyway through our outrageously expensive state welfare system. And that tax affects every single man, woman and child in Maine that drinks just about anything except milk. It is about as universal a tax as can be imagined.

The caller also hides behind a recording. She does not enter into a dialogue, probably simply because she knows she couldn’t win the debate.

I continue to urge signing one of the Tax Repeal petitions when you see one.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The two week campaign season begins

I remember how much I used to like this day. Well, for the earlier times, it was June 1st that I liked. Then the government in its collective wisdom changed Memorial Day from May 31st to the fourth Monday in May. This day is the beginning of the final push to the end of the school year when we could look forward to almost three months of vacation.

Of course, I’m not in school any longer, and just about every day is a day of vacation so this day no longer means as much to me as it once did. The summer season has begun, though, even for us retired folks. Officially, the season doesn’t change for another three weeks or more, but Memorial Day begins the real summer in Maine.

We had a sort of working weekend at our house. On Saturday we mowed our lawn, but it was still a little damp. I bag my clippings as I go, but the bagging attachment on my rider just plain doesn’t like dampness. With just a little moisture the tube that connects the mower deck to the bags clogs up. That’s what happened to me Saturday, so I took the attachment off and mowed without it. Naturally I left a big mess of clippings behind and had to return to the lawn Sunday with the bagger back on to vacuum the leftovers.

Mowing normally takes me anywhere from two to two and a half hours. That includes the emptying of the bags in my compost spot. We have created a rather nice area where the clippings have turned to dirt and that area probably will become another vegetable garden in a few years. Because I didn’t bag as I went along, the actual mowing time was reduced to about an hour and a half and the next day’s bagging was accomplished in twenty minutes or so. It turned out to be a considerable time saver, one which I might employ in future mowing.

Sunday with the help of my daughter we began laying a new rug in a porch room which has served as an office. It’s not a wall-to-wall carpet in the sense of such a rug, but it wall to wall. It turned out to be a lot more work than we had anticipated. In fact all the furniture and accessories we normally have in that room are now crowded in the dining room. It’s Tuesday, and we still are not done putting down the carpet. Carefully cutting out the places for the heating pipes and things is time consuming. We hope to be finished before the week is over.

There is a part of this Tuesday that I will grow to dislike immensely in the next two weeks. I expect the radio and TV to become saturated with political advertisements for the numerous Democrats and Republicans vying for the House of Representatives primaries coming two weeks from today. The Republican ads began last week, and they were not pleasant. They did nothing to promote the ad’s sponsor but were rather an attempt to get me not to vote for an opponent. The Democrats, on the other hand, were mostly just trying to convince me the sponsor was best suited for the job.

I’ve said in the past I want to learn why I should support a candidate. I dislike immensely being told how bad an opponent is. These ads turn me away from the sponsor, but I’m a Republican and both candidates are doing the advertising I don’t like. Two weeks from casting my vote and I still don’t know for whom to select I am getting closer, though, and not from the ads but rather from what I’m reading about the candidates’ positions on the issues. When I can find them.

This day, the day following Memorial Day, used to be one of my favorite days for what it signaled to me when it was important to me. Today, however, is far from a favorite as it is signaling the beginning of a campaign season that in just two short weeks will make us all very weary.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Weekend!

Happy Memorial Day! This is the unofficial beginning of summer, at least the summer vacation season. It is a time for all of us to pay our respects to the valiant men and women who have made sacrifices to keep this nation free. It is a time for families to get together for family celebrations.

A lot of things happen this weekend. First and foremost we say thank you to the members of our Armed Forces and great respect to those members who have passed protecting this great nation for the last 232 years. I’m a “tweener,” one too young for one conflict and too old for another. I’ve never served in the military. But my gratitude and respect for the men and women who have made it possible for me to enjoy America is no less. I sincerely thank you for your service to the United States of America. We cannot exist without you.

Summer doesn’t officially begin for another several weeks, but Maine’s summer tourist season begins this weekend. Maine is a year round tourist destination, but it is the time between this weekend and the Labor Day weekend on which many tourist industry members depend for the bulk of their income. Some would argue that the season has been extended through the leaf color changes. All the reports of the filled up campsites indicate that at least the campers will be here in droves.

There was a time when many folk looked forward to this weekend as it is also the time when all the fun stuff at Old Orchard Beach opens full time for the summer. I think many of the fun places along Route One in Saco also begin in earnest. But in my humble opinion, OOB has declined considerably over the last few years. The cost of the activities and the diminished attraction because of construction makes many people, especially Southern Mainers, think twice about heading there.

For many people this weekend is the traditional opening of the summer camps. This long weekend gives many Mainers and many “from away” the chance to clean the winter out from their lakeside cottages, put boats into the water, and generally have a family good time preparing for the summer ahead.

Families that stay near home also take the opportunity this weekend for family gatherings and cookouts. The smell of grilling things will permeate the air throughout the region. Not only do families have the chance to enjoy one another’s company but it’s an opportunity to get caught up on all the family excitement, and a little time for some sadness, too.

It is a time to visit family plots in cemeteries, too. Many of us take this opportunity to do some beautifying around those places which serve as a link between our past and our future. Unfortunately for many of us, it’s one of the too few times we visit our deceased loved ones. And for many of us simply too far away from our deceased, it’s a time of reflection and memory.

Memorial Day. It is a great time to get together, to enjoy good times with family and friends, and to prepare for the fun season ahead. I hope you are having a good one and, since this is a long holiday weekend, we’ll be back again tomorrow.


Friday, May 23, 2008

A Republican bad turn!

I’m a little sad this morning. It’s not a personal sadness. Nothing has happened in my family to cause grief. But in just a couple of short days my hopes for the Republican Party to field a fine candidate to run for the First Congressional District House seat have been shattered.

It began on a small note Monday, but I thought it was just a glitch and would soon disappear; it hasn’t and the chances it will are diminishing rapidly. Newcomer Dean Scontras and political veteran Charles Summers are vying for the nomination. Scontras hasn’t been in politics before, but he claims to be of the Ronald Reagan mold as a Conservative. Summers has just returned from a tour of duty as a Naval Reserve Officer in Iraq. Summers, a moderate, is also a veteran Maine politician having served in the Maine Legislature and having worked for Senator Olympia Snowe.

All early indications were that we had two fine men with opposing philosophies running for the Congressional seat. Maine could have been proud if either of them ultimately were elected. All the time Summers was in Iraq, his wife Ruth held the fort. She travelled throughout the First District extolling the virtues of her husband. Military rules prohibited Summers himself to do any campaigning or commenting. She maintained that high road and has been highly praised for the way she ran the campaign.

Scontras too maintained the high road. He too travelled all over the First District explaining that if elected he would serve in the Reagan tradition. His popularity grew and the number of people, including many business and political leaders, who jumped onto his bandwagon grew right along with that popularity.

Last week Summers arrived home with his tour of duty behind him. He could now campaign and comment on the issues facing us. Many of us very outsiders looked forward to a spirited good debate between the two men. We would be able to hear to good gentlemen explain to us why we should vote for one of them.

Just what caused the downturn of events is unclear to me this morning. It depends on who is telling the story. The first inkling I had of trouble on the Republican front was the report of an advertisement sponsored by Scontras highly criticizing Summers’ vote in 1991 when Maine had a huge tax increase. I have not heard that ad to this day.

Last Tuesday I attended a session sponsored by the Cumberland County Republican Committee held in Scarborough. I call it a session rather than a debate because some wimpy questions were put forth and the candidates loosely responded to them but mostly took advantage to give their views. Only toward the end did that ad get mentioned. Summers said it didn’t tell the truth because it didn’t tell the whole story. Scontras said it was truthful because Summers had voted for the largest tax increase in Maine history.

I had attended that session because I didn’t know for whom I’d vote in three weeks when the primary is held. I was not awed by either candidate except I did leave believing the Republicans would have a good candidate no matter which won. I still didn’t know for whom I’d vote.

Now Summers had come out with his own ad highly criticizing Scontras for not being in Maine for the last several years. It is true, but he was born in Maine and graduated from the University of Maine before he left to earn his fortune. He has now chosen his native state as his home. Summers was born in Illinois. I’m not sure it’s ever been explained why he came to Maine to live, except he says it was a simple choice.

The nastiness is escalating. Yesterday Summers sent an e-mail to Republicans again criticizing Scontras’ ad and added that he, Summers, was leading in the polls. This was the first I’d heard of a poll in this race, if there was a poll. I received a postal mail yesterday from Scontras again criticizing Summers tax increase votes.

I honestly don’t like the direction of these campaigns. I had believed either would be a good representative. Now I’m beginning to have my doubts. I still have a couple of weeks to straighten all this out in my mind, but negative campaigning won’t endear either to me.

A few days ago I criticized sniping and negative campaigning. I’ll say it again: Don’t tell me why the other guy is bad; tell me why you are good. I’m afraid this won’t be my last word.

By the way, there’s an interesting article in this morning’s Portland Press Herald and on its Internet site,, about the change in this race.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Donuts and late night work

We crossed the hump and Thursday has arrived. This will be a light day for us so my wife can get some rest. I began with my regular trip to South Portland to visit the physical therapy place. I went through my routines along with others going through theirs. It was a very lively group this morning as the joking and kidding was just flying around the room. All in good, clean fun, of course.

On the way home I got a huge call from a donut shop as I passed by. For more than a year I’ve resisted stopping but this morning the yell was too loud. I took a couple donuts home for my wife and me to enjoy. As I was picking out the ones I wanted, all I could think about was the ridiculousness of working hard in an exercise program and the stopping by a donut store.

My wife seemed a little pleased I brought home donuts. We hadn’t had any breakfast this morning before I headed out and those little cakes would taste rather good. They did, but I warned her that this was not going to become a habit. She agreed it shouldn’t. But this one time indulgence was very good. Already, though, I thinking I should head back to the exercise place.

Part of my wife’s part time job is making food platters on special order. She’s very good at it. Her store got a call this week from its local corporate headquarters to order a huge amount of platters for tomorrow. The store takes great pride in the freshness and made to order quality of the platters. There have been many days when my wife has gone to work at five in the morning just to make platters for that day.

The size of this order, though, makes starting at 5 AM and finishing in time an impossibility. So my wife agreed to “pull an all-nighter” and take the daytime tomorrow off. She and her department manager will begin at ten tonight and work all night to have the platters completed in time. To add to the complication is a desire by the company that these platters be packaged differently. She won’t be home until after six tomorrow morning.

WG (wife gator) has decided, correctly I think, to take it easy today. I suspect she’ll get in several deep naps especially beginning this afternoon so she’ll be able to work that all-nighter. I probably won’t see much of her tomorrow, either.

Nevertheless, she seems to really like doing this work and she especially likes using the money for our vacations. A couple of years ago, for example, she took us for a month long trip. We took a train to Seattle and another one to Vancouver where we boarded a cruise ship to begin a 15-day journey through Alaska. Another cruise ship got us back to Vancouver, a bus ride to Seattle and Amtrak back home. And most of all of that cost came from her part time job.

I should mow our lawn today, but it’ll probably wait until Saturday. With the cost of gas as it is, I’m afraid the lawn will get just a little longer between cuttings. Up until this year we had mowed twice a week at least through most of the summer. This season that mowing will probably be reduced to one a week or sometimes even longer.

The price of that gas will also probably keep us closer to home this summer. We have always liked to take vacation trip to near Lancaster, PA, where there are three theaters we like to visit. There also is a model railroad museum there which I like to visit. But, I’m afraid that trip won’t be taken this year, and perhaps not again for a long time.

So that’s the way it is in our little spot of Maine this Thursday.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Debate

Mainers are faced with some decisions on choices in three weeks. Both the Republicans and the Democrats will be heading to the polls to choose candidates for the November elections. Both parties have spirited primaries for candidates to vie for Congressional seats. In some areas, there are also people vying for State legislative seats as well.

We Republicans have to decide who will represent us in the elections for the First Congressional District. Political newcomer Dean Scontras and political veteran Charles Summers are seeking the nomination for the seat being vacated by Representative Thomas Allen. Allen is among Democrats hoping to oust Republican Susan Collins from her seat.

Scontras and Summers held what was billed as a debate in Scarborough last night. I was there. I had decided to attend the event, sponsored by the Cumberland County Republican Committee and moderated by WGME newsman Greg Lagerquist, in an attempt to learn more about the two men. Until last night I had no idea who I would support in the primary in three weeks. I still don’t.

Both candidates handled the wimpy questions rather well. The format was a little strange. In its collective wisdom the CCRC decided to write all the questions itself and phrase them as they believe the Democrats will phrase the issues between the primary and the election. I guess they tried to think like Democrats as they wrote the questions. In my opinion, they failed. They did touch upon, however, many of the issues facing Mainers.

I thought that both candidates handled the questions equally well. However, both candidates also failed to respond completely to some questions and formed their answers loosely around the questions but generally made three minute political speeches on topics they wished. That was O.K. with me as I think the candidates were able to give me more direction on how they will handle various issues if elected. I would think, though, that those people there who were already committed to one candidate or the other might think their candidate was on the money while the other didn’t answer or avoided the questions.

I think there was one element of the debate that bothered me a little. In the first half hour of the session, Scontras tended to drift across the stage to stand directly in front of Summers while he delivered his responses. That blocked many in the audience from weighing Summers’ reaction to what Scontras was saying. In the second half hour Summers apparently figured it out and he drifted across the stage to block out Scontras. Since neither really showed a lot of reaction, it was a somewhat wasted effort.

I’m not going to evaluate the issues as espoused by the men last night. I didn’t attend the session to be a reporter. I think it’s sufficient to say that both were generally consistent in their responses: The conservative Scontras gave conservative responses; the more moderate Summers gave more moderate responses. That's just what one should expect from these two men.

There was only one real contentious few minutes and they were toward the end of the evening. Summers defended his actions in a Scontras ad that said Summers says he cut taxes while in the Legislature but in reality voted to support the highest tax increase up until then in 1991. Scontras fired back that the facts of the ad were correct.

As I said earlier, I went there last night for my own education. About all I came away with was the feeling that both men would be excellent Representatives for Maine in Congress. I had the impression that both men are honest and sincere in their attempts to serve Mainers in the national picture. I think that disappointed me. Only because I didn’t learn what I wanted, though, a clear choice for me.

The final comparison for me is a little unfair, though. I’m generally but not always a conservative so I’d have to say that I may have been leaning a little toward Scontras. But in person last night, Summers showed a more powerful presence. These items, however, should not be the basis for choice. I need to hear more from them on issues and how they would represent Maine in Congress.

My personal work will have to continue, but right now I believe either one will be excellent and I will at least be able to give my full support to whoever wins in three weeks.

On a side note: I think the poor choice of venue may have been a factor in a lower than expected turnout. I suspect many people couldn’t find the Scarborough Middle School. It took me several wrong turns and a need to stop someone to help me with directions before I found it. I almost came home before ever getting there because it was getting frustrating. The sponsoring committee should have included directions to the school which certainly isn’t on the beaten path. I heard more than one person there express these same thoughts.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A sad day: Good stuff now gone!

There comes a time when one simply has to clean out and throw things away. I’m one of those people who always try to find a place to store something “because I may need it sometime” rather than ridding my space of not only old but now unusable stuff. Especially computer stuff. Yesterday and this morning, I bit that proverbial bullet and began eliminating stuff.

I probably should have counted all the computer programs that I tossed, but I didn’t. However, I had my original Windows 3.x disks. They were all on those little floppy disks that didn’t flop. They dated back to when? The late eighties? Somehow I get the impression that if I tried to put that old system on my present computers, they’d just become bewildered and ask me, “Just what do you think I’m going to do with this old stuff? I can’t run slow enough!” They’re gone.

A few of the very old programs designed to run on Windows 3.x were also still hanging around. No longer. My original Windows 95 software was in the CD rack. As well as Windows 98, 2000, ME, and XP. I kept the XP disks. My friend who thinks W-2000 was the best ever and is still running on some of his equipment probably would have liked to have that one. Sorry, Fearless One, it’s gone. I must also say the original 25 or so Windows gui 3.5” disks were tossed long ago.

I replaced the very best word processor I ever used, Ami Pro, with Word and Office many years ago. It was a very reluctant change, but the owners of Ami Pro, Lotus I think, stopped developing it as it didn’t believe it could compete with Microsoft. It was about the same fate that claimed Word Perfect, too, but that one fought back and is still somewhat successful. I still had all my Office original and upgrade CDs from through the years. Like the Windows floppies, my Office floppies ones went out a few years ago. Now so have all but the latest version of Office I have.

I’d hate to try to mention all the old programs that I had kept. They wouldn’t even run on today’s operating systems. As I said before, I kept them simply because I just might want them someday. Many of them were programs I didn’t even use when I got them. They looked awful good in the store or in magazine advertisements; but when I tried them, they did not measure up to something I could use.

I also had several bookshelves loaded with computer books. I had books that dated back to the mid 1990s that taught me who to write web pages, how to write HTML and JavaScripts. How to program in Visual Basic, how to get the most out of Office and how to best utilize Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. There were books for just about all my software. I still write web pages using NetObjects Fusion. I kept those books.

I had a couple of boxes of computer parts. Whenever I upgraded my computers, such necessary items as 20 MB hard drives along with a few bigger ones, modems which tore along at 14.4 (or was it 12 point something?) speeds, and just about anything else that could be taken off a system for future use. It’s a future that now will never come.

I’ve just touched the surface of my elimination activity yesterday and this morning. There has been one real good thing come from the project: I now have room to store my new old stuff.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Planting Veggies and Primary elections near

Another weekend is behind us and a new week is underway. Most of the weekend was certainly nice with the sun coming out after a cloudy Saturday beginning and then disappearing after a mostly sunny Sunday.

My wife and daughter liked the weekend. On Saturday they got our two vegetable gardens planted, some seeds, some plants. The veggie selection has grown this year with some we haven’t planted for years. They also got a few flowering plants into the ground. My daughter had given her mother a bunch of them for Mother’s Day. The flowers, some annuals, some perennials, found their homes Sunday.

When we were first married back in the early 1960s, my wife’s parents had a huge garden in a yard behind their home in Portland. They grew enough vegetables of all kinds to feed them through the year. Of course canning or freezing was part of the routine. It was my first adventure into the world of really fresh vegetables. It didn’t take long to learn that veggies pulled at three and eaten at six were among the very best one could have.

Corn became one of my favorites. Wow! There is nothing like the flavor of corn picked less than a half hour before a meal, dropped into the pot or put directly on the grill. Eating super fresh corn has stayed with us all through the years. And even today we buy all our cob corn in the summer at farmer’s markets. My friends say that modern procedures make even frozen corn delicious. I don’t know. We want to eat it the same day it’s picked. I don’t remember eating corn between seasons since those early days.

When we were married, my wife’s dad gave us several long rows so we could grow our own. The only condition was that we had to tend to it. For the next several years, many spring and summer afternoons were spent in the sun, but when we ate the results all through the winter, the work was worth it. Can you imagine someone who professes to “not do outdoors” spending time in the sun in a garden? I did, but that was in another place in another time under much different conditions.

My wife has always in the past waited until Memorial Day or later, depending on that last frost of the season which comes with the last full moon of May, or something like that, to do her planting. This year she’s a week early so I’m hoping she hasn’t miscalculated. I mentioned it her and she said that she thought it would be O.K. considering where we live. We’ll see.

So, with the weekend behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to the June primaries, among other things, coming in the next few weeks. This year we have some very spirited primaries facing us in both parties. There are contended primaries on the Democrat side for both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. On the Republican side, there is a choice for the House of Representatives. I hate to admit ignorance on this one, but if the Senate seat is being contested on the Republican side, I’ve missed it.

Of course there are many Maine legislative seats up for grabs, too. For Mainers this is a good chance to begin turning our state around.

I read a forum daily about Maine politics and other stuff. As Maine Goes is mostly Republican, but you can get some “both sides” education on all sorts of things there. One poster yesterday asked what I consider to be a great question as the debates over candidates move toward the Primary climax. Ray Richardson, a local radio/TV (WLOB/Fox23) talk show host, asked, and this is loosely paraphrased, why can’t we show our support by being “For” a candidate and not just be “Against” another.

If people extolled the reasons to vote for someone rather than just negatives against another, we all could learn more about who would better represent us. I for one would like to see campaigns become positive and not negative. Negative remarks tell me nothing. Attacks advance nothing. Yet, I could better make up my mind on whom to support if I could learn the positive things a candidate would do for us, for Maine, for our nation.

It won’t happen. As the Primary gets closer, and now it’s only three weeks from tomorrow, we can only expect the attacks and negativisms from the various candidates’ supporters to increase. That’s too bad. We could make such better choices with the positives.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Shadow over Triple Crown

Saturday once again has arrived. The last day of this week started out with some showers in the area, including my little spot. That’ll make for a very damp lawn and my mower doesn’t like damp lawns. The bagging attachment clogs. I’m rather happy this morning that I decided Thursday to bite the cool bullet and take that ride.

Our morning weather lady said there will be the potential for showers into the morning hours before some clearing comes this afternoon. It looks like Sunday will be the better weekend day. At least that’s how it looks at this early Saturday morning hour.

Because of a late scheduled meeting Thursday, my daughter was unable to come over to help plant some stuff she bought her mother for Mother’s Day. That activity was postponed until today. I’m not sure if they will be able to work outside this afternoon or if the garden areas will be too wet. I do not that at least part of the activity was to till the veggie areas. If they can’t get to it today, there’ll be tomorrow.

That’ll be the last chance for a while, though. My daughter will be spending next weekend in the books. She’s scheduled to take a test the day after Memorial Day that will make her one of the most certified specialists in her field in Maine. She’s been working on this five part testing procedure for two or three years. And this test is part five. Coupled with her accounting degree, she’s becoming a very valuable employee.

She’s been studying for this final test for a month or more and has passed all the practice tests. However, she’s not the type to take anything for granted and will spend that last weekend going over all the material carefully in preparation for the Tuesday session. So this will probably be the last chance her mom will get for a couple of weeks to help in the garden. Now it’s up the weather gods.

My “maybe” came to fruition yesterday. I disappointed the dog, put on my “going somewhere” clothes and headed to the barber shop for a haircut. It’s been a time coming and my head feels much more comfortable without those couple of strands of hair.

Speaking of the dog, it’ll be a little while before she starts looking out the window for her sister to come play with her. I told you somehow she knows what time it is and that it’s play day. I’ll never know how, but sometime around ten o’clock she’ll start looking out the window for a familiar car to be heading down the driveway. I hope the neighborhood showers don’t ruin her day.

The second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, the Preakness, will be run tonight. And recent revelations about the condition of horses have put a shadow over the event. There was a story on yesterday about the inbreeding and bloodlines of race horses. Seems a goodly portion of the horses today, including the entire field of the Kentucky Derby, can be traced back to Native Dancer, a great of the past.

But, according to the article, Native Dancer was put to stud after his front ankles became too sore for him to race. Eight Belles, the filly euthanized after the Derby with broken front ankles, had those bloodlines. The article traces what has happened to many of the horses from Native Dancer and even to his stud. Apparently they all have carried the gene that causes those weak ankles.

It was a sad but, if true, an enlightening story about the condition of today’s thoroughbred horses. Many of them may be facing the same fate as Eight Belles. And among those descendents is the favorite in today’s race, the Derby winner Big Brown. It puts a whole new scope on today’s race.

I don’t know how much longer it will be available, but it could be read this morning here.

I hope you have a good Saturday and a better weather Sunday. I’ll be back Monday.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Petitions and a haircut, perhaps

This Friday dawned beautifully, but cool. We have crossed into the sixties in my little spot in Maine, but the light breeze says it’s still cool. This week certainly passed just as quickly as the previous one, but I’ll refrain from my usual Friday comment about the zooming weeks.

I’m glad, even though the day is sunny, that I got my mowing done yesterday. Along with all the other activity we had yesterday, I was a tired pup when I went to bed last night. Today for me can be almost a day of rest, except for some usual Friday chores I perform for my wife. It isn’t a day of rest for her as she has gone to her part time job this morning.

The petition drive to have the possible repeal of the last legislature’s last minute, late night massive tax increase is a step closer today. I understand the Maine Taxpayers’ United, one of the groups that have committed to circulate the petitions, has received the first step in the process and may have the actual petitions in hand before the day is out.

That group is holding a meeting in Westbrook tomorrow, and soon in many other Maine communities, to teach petition people the correct way to gather the signatures. I guess there is an exact protocol to follow to be sure one bad signature on a petition doesn’t get all the signatures on that petition thrown out. Apparently that happened in attempts to gather signatures on previous petitions for various causes.

I’m not sure when the drive will begin in earnest, but I’d guess if not this weekend then Monday. This particular group is looking for folk to have the petitions available primarily in town dumps/recycle centers/transfer stations. They also hope to set up in food stores and the like and to have tables at polling places during the June primaries.

I’m thinking of going to the barber shop I visit about once a month. I’ve been thinking of it each day all week. All that prevents me from going is that I have two types of clothing…my ‘stay at home’ clothes and my ‘going somewhere’ clothes. Right now I’m in my ‘stay at home’ ones. They include pants I wouldn’t be seen outside the corners of my home in. Why do I wear them? It’s simple. They’re comfortable.

My dog instantly knows my plans when I dress each morning. She comes to me and sniffs the pants. With one set, she races to find her soft toy and then parades back and forth in front of me expressing her approval. Touching her during this mood puts her in an even happier mood. When she detects the other type, she just droops her head and very slowly slinks out to the breezeway and lies down in total disappointment.

I’d have to change my clothes to go to the barber shop. I’d hate to disappoint my dog. That seems like as good of an excuse as any to put it off until next week. It’s not like my hair is down to my collar or anything like that. It’s just been a month since the last cut. When I retired, I had decided that my days of the “comb over” to hide my balding head were over. Comb overs don’t work anyway. They just put folks like me into a state of delusion. Mine ended a dozen years ago when I told my barber to just get as much off as could be taken off.

I’ve kept it that way ever since and I like it. I may be the only one who likes it, but I’m not delusional about my hair anymore. And so now it needs some attention. Maybe today, maybe next week. Maybe …


Thursday, May 15, 2008

A simple but busy day

Another Thursday started out the way just about all Thursdays start out: A trip to the physical therapy center for my morning workout with fellow seniors in the Senior Fitness Program. I do get a good workout on various machines and free weights, but I’m not too sure about that “fitness” part. I’m a very long way from being fit.

Nevertheless, I work as hard as I can during these sessions and I enjoy the activity as well as the friendly conversations with my fellow participants. The session technically begins at 8, but there’s a super physical trainer who thinks we’re pretty neat folk and usually arrives shortly after 7:30. Once there’s an authority figure on hand, we’re allowed to begin our workouts. We all have different tasks designed by the physical therapists and trainer to work on our various ailments.

All my activity, for example, is designed to strengthen my spinal cord which has several fused disks. Another set I do is trying to strengthen my right hip which is good only for activity that lasts 10 minutes or less before it forces me into a rest. And there’s that wonderful ball I stand on trying to improve my balance. Others are working on shoulder, or knee/ankle, or other places. We are just a few feet apart, though, and that makes for some fun times.

That was only the beginning. When I got home, my wife and I had to pack the back of her small SUV with brush and then take it to the recycle center. We ended up with two full loads and two trips, and my daughter will join her this weekend, weather permitting, to cut some more.

Once we delivered the brush, another morning of shopping faced us. We didn’t get, at least not yet, a stimulus check. I’m not sure we will. But we are doing our part for the economy. WG (Wife Gator) and I did some shopping last Thursday for such things as new curtains. I must say now that they’re up in their proper places, they look great. I probably shouldn’t have told her that, though, as today we were trying to find other changes for the house, like rugs.

We have five oblong braided rugs in our bedroom and dining room. They were beautiful when we bought them many years ago, but now they have run their courses. After watching her thought process while looking around this morning, I think she wants regular carpets in the three rooms. I don’t think she wants wall-to-wall carpeting, though, as we have some pretty nice looking hardwood floors. We haven’t made up our minds (I like to think I’m included) yet.

The final task this morning was getting the lawn mowed. It takes a couple of hours for that task. We had planned to wait until this afternoon, but the clouds and cool weather along with a forecast for the chance of showers sent us outside to complete the job. We could have waited until Saturday, but the forecast keeps changing and sometimes it includes showers Saturday and sometimes it doesn’t. Same for Sunday. Now it can do whatever it wants. The lawn is finished, probably until next Tuesday or Thursday.

I understand WG also has a full afternoon planned for us. Little things like the floors. She also wants to do some general cleaning. I think I might take a nap.

We haven’t heard yet, but our daughter is checking her work schedule today and if she can get off a little early, she’ll come over and help her mother plant some flowers and other plants they bought last night as DG’s Mother’s Day gift. I suspect she’ll bring her dog along to play with ours and then stay for supper.

My political comment for the day: The latest Gallup Poll, released yesterday, put Congress’ approval rating at 18%, tying for the all-time low. It is 11 points lower than the record low of 29% ‘enjoyed’ by President Bush.

So this Thursday doesn’t have anything too magnanimous in it. But it is another day in the life of the Gator in Maine.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Stormy Wednesday Out; Stormy Taxes In

Remember just a few short weeks ago when Wednesdays were signals for storms to roll through our area? I think it’s been several now that have been nice and sunny. Like today, at least so far. It is a little cool outside right now, but the TV weather guy said it would be a nice day before it was done, except, of course along the coast where afternoon sea breezes might keep it a little cooler.

As you know, I’m among the older folk in our state. One thing I wish could happen is that advertising agencies could return to the “good old days” when commercials on the TV were cute, interesting, enticing, and understandable. Many today go right over my head, and most that are supposed to be cute or funny leave me absolutely cold. I think it has been several years since an advertisement actually drew me into an establishment.

That said, there’s one that I really find fascinating. I don’t remember the name of the company, except it’s a cell phone service that really captures the stereotype cell phone user. You probably know the one I mean; it shows a series of folks with some sort of balloon passing by. Have you ever noticed how all the models used look like they’re in a vacant space? They are just staring off into nowhere demonstrating they have absolutely zero ambition. I guess it’s about the same as the occupants of three out of every five cars that pass me with a cell phone growing out their ears. They usually have no clue of the world around them.

I read a column on this morning in which two state legislators took issue with the criticism of the midnight and no public input passed tax increase bill. Sean Faircloth of the Bangor area and Phil Bartlett of Gorham, Scarborough and probably other local communities, both Democrats, say the criticism is wrong and that all the good of the tax increase haven’t been explained. They say it’s not true that the measure passed in a surprise late night meeting in the final moments of the last legislature.

Their argument says the tax was first discussed over two years ago and did have public input at that time. Seems to me if that is true, and I’m not suggesting it isn’t, it must be obvious that Mainers didn’t want it. If they had, it would have passed then. I hope they are not trying to deny this year’s passage was late at night with no public input or hearing.

I think their argument of the projected good by the plan which is designed to pay for the failed DirigoChoice health plan is also specious. They say that the plan is designed to slow down drinking of alcohol and soft drinks because they’re health hazards. Walking across a busy street is also a health hazard but I don’t see any taxes on it. The tax plan is simply a money grab for the state government.

It’s easy to show that Dirigo has failed. Not one of the goals that were established five years ago have come to fruition. Not even close. We were told, for example, that within three years of its implementation, more than 130-thousand uninsured Mainers would be on it. Today, depending on which Democrat is talking and the time of day and audience, somewhere between 12-thousand and 18-thousand have enrolled. And half or more of them already had insurance before they switched.

We were promised the program would be self-sustaining. The legislature has increased various taxes every year to fund the hundred million dollars spent on this program so far. This year, the tax on various types of drinks and on claims to other insurance companies will raise about 75-million dollars.

Sorry, Senators, you haven’t convinced me. I will sign the petition, if it ever comes out, to get repeal of the tax law onto the November ballot. And I’ll vote ‘yes’ then.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Always get that contract!

Ever get a feeling a company tried the old bait and switch routine on you? That’s the feeling I have today. Close to a month ago I called the company that services my central air conditioning unit. The unit needed an annual cleaning. The person who answered the phone gave me the price for call in requests. She explained what the company would do for that price.

Then she asked why I didn’t have one of their service contracts which would result in a much more thorough cleaning and take care of everything in the unit. Whereas the regular cleaning would be done primarily with brushes, a contract cleaning for just ten dollars more would include everything, including chemical cleaning.

I elected to pay the extra ten dollars and was told I would get a form in the mail to check off which plan I wanted, but she would have it all filled out for me as we discussed. All I had to do was initial the form and send it back with the payment. I would then receive a full contract to sign in the mail. That contract would include a complete description of what would be done. Once that was sent back, she’d schedule an appointment for the work.

All went well for the first part of the deal. I promptly got the paper to initial in the mail, initialed it, and sent it back with the payment. I waited. And waited. Two weeks went by and I had not heard from the company, a long time well respected one in the Greater Portland area, incidentally. No contract, no scheduled appointment.

I called again and the person said the appointment wasn’t scheduled yet because they hadn’t received the signed contract. Pretty hard to sign something I never received explained I. She said they knew what I wanted and had my money so she scheduled the appointment for today and said the contract would be sent right out.

I still haven’t seen the contract.

But the technician arrived right on time this morning. I got the first hint I had been snookered when he immediately started discussing an upgrade. That was before he even looked at the system to see how it was performing. I would have thought he at least would have put on a show of examining the units and then telling me I needed something else. Nope. Let’s talk about an upgrade first.

I think I may have politely said to just do what I was supposed to have done. After all, he was the technician, not the company salesperson. He told me the filter would be an extra $60. Whoa! I told him ‘everything’ was supposed to be included. He called his company and relayed what I had said, but they told him I was in error, that I was never told this session included everything. His boss had her notes right in front of her.

I didn’t get the filter. I also expressed my total unhappiness with the company. And even may have mentioned that a 15 year relationship may be coming to an end.

The technician went to work on the system and I have to admit it was a most thorough job. Excluding the filter, which he told me wasn’t in bad shape, everything was cleaned and tested and other replacement stuff was completed. He then checked the entire system and had it running. I was satisfied with the technician’s work.

But now I know why they never sent me that contract. And I watch People’s Court enough to know that one should always have a contract.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day and The Cake

Another Mother’s Day is behind us. My wife tells me it was a good day for her. Our daughter came over and spent part of the day here, but they didn’t do much work outside. As I mentioned over the weekend, my wife and I don’t give each other presents on our respective days, but our daughter did exactly what we thought she would.

She brought her mother a cake nice cake for a holiday celebration and she gave her a sort of promissory note to take her out midweek to a florist and let her mother pick out some flowers and other plants. Of course she also brought herself and her dog. Our son called his mother from the West Coast to wish her a happy day.

Many people like to go to restaurants to give Mom a day off from cooking. We stayed home and our daughter did the grilling. She is an excellent cook on the grill and actually does most of it for our family. Following that excellent meal, it was I who did the clean up chores. Momma Gator could enjoy her day without any chores.

Speaking of cake, I can tell a little story on me. We aren’t too much into desserts in our family and generally only have them on holidays or other special occasions. MG had mentioned a couple of times last week that she thought some dessert might taste good for a change. Even though I knew we probably would have some cake for Mother’s Day, I decided to give MG a treat.

While she was at her part time job Friday, I looked through our food closet and found a box of cake mix. I figured I could handle that and so the process began. I read the instructions very carefully on the box and followed them to the letter. A half hour later or so two beautiful round pans of slightly less than one inch thick cake came out of the oven. I must say they really looked good in spite of their thickness.

After the suggested cooling time, I turned the pans over and they just glided out. I put them on a wire rack for final cooling and then the thought slammed into my head. I have absolutely zero idea how to make an icing. I checked. There wasn’t a box of frosting mix in the food closet. Well, I made the cake; MG wouldn’t mind finishing it off. I hoped.

She got home shortly after two and immediately spotted the cake parts. I humbly mentioned the frosting bit and all she could ask was, “Where’d you get the mix? I didn’t think we had any in the house.” She looked at the box. I guess it had been hidden in that closet for a while. It had expired three years ago.

The cake went into the disposal. I tried, but we didn’t have any dessert Friday night. Maybe she just didn’t want to make the frosting.

This should be the week the People’s Veto of a massive tax increase the Legislature passed in the waning hours of the last legislative session gets underway. The final question and approved petitions are expected from the Secretary of State’s office. Organizers must collect about 60-thousand signatures in a month and a half to have the veto question on the November ballot.

There actually are three petitions being sought. One nullifies the tax increase designed to raise about 70 million dollars for the state’s failing health plan, DirigoChoice. Another seeks to nullify the insurance plan itself. And the third wants to nullify the Real I.D. law, also passed in the final moments of the session. A slight difference among the three, though, is that the tax on just about all beverages and insurance claims was passed without any public input of any kind. The insurance plan itself has been failing for three years. And the Real I.D. bill had full public and open legislative input.

Speaking of final session surprises, the Legislature also passed a bill authorizing the state to borrow 30-million dollars from the Federal Government to extend passenger rail service from Portland to Brunswick. I’m wondering if that bill doesn’t also force the State to give operating funding to the Downeaster Amtrak train. Officials of the Downeaster say they will be out of business if they don’t get the state funding and that would leave the Brunswick connection without Amtrak, too. Interesting events. And it happened in the final moments of the session.

So even with the Legislature now adjourned until next December with newly elected members, it has left behind a very expensive legacy for which Mainers will be paying for a long time to come. And it left behind good fodder for bloggers.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day and a Trip to the Dump

It would appear that the weather people earlier this week missed today’s weather forecast. It is a little chilly, just under 60 degrees at this ten o’clock hour, but the sun is shining through some partly cloudy skies. The rain storm the meteorologist types thought might hit us left the United States way south of Maine; and even though Massachusetts and points south got a lot of rain yesterday, we were spared.

We are told we could get a few light showers before the day is over, but the day families eagerly await should be nice and for the most part sunny. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I don’t know what awaits my wife tomorrow. Both our kids have long ago left the nest and one lives out on the West Coast. Our daughter will probably do something to make the day a nice one. Her Mother’s Day gifts are given all year long as she comes over and helps her mother in the gardens and more often than not, bring her plants to plant on this holiday.

My wife and I adopted an unusual agreement way back when we were first married more than 45 years ago. I don’t remember now how it came about, but for the first few years of our marriage, Mother’s and Father’s Days were simply not celebrated, except for things we did or sent (my parents lived in Florida) to our parents on their respective days. Neither of us has them still with us.

Once we had kids, we gave little token presents to set examples for our children so they would understand the day. But we tried to instill in them that what we do for our parents all year long is equally or more important. As you can determine from a couple paragraphs above, our daughter learned her lesson well.

I guess as far as the actual “Days” were concerned, we adopted the “She’s not my mother and I’m not her father” attitude. Cold, aren’t we?

Daughter Gator came over early this morning. Our town has cheap bulk item drop-off at the local recycle center. Momma Gator and I have spent much free time this week cleaning out some broken and unwanted items. We loaded them in the back of her mini-SUV and DG came over to help deliver them to the center. We weren’t alone. The line was very long and the wait was more than an hour, but some much needed cleanup had been accomplished.

While we were at the center, our dog and DG’s dog were left alone here for the first time. They have visited each other frequently and ours had been left at daughter’s house each year while we were off on vacation. But this time, DG’s dog had to watch as her mistress drove away down the driveway. She didn’t have a happy look. We didn’t know what the place would look like when we got home. Although both have the Invisible Fence collar, we left them in the house.

I’m happy to say that nothing bad or destructive happened. It almost looked like all they did was bark a couple of times trying to get us to stay, and then watched as the car disappeared down the long driveway. Since they were used to each other and like being together, I think they then may have simple curled up in their corners and took a nap.

Nothing was out of place and our living room furniture hadn’t been visited. The dogs are not allowed on the living room furniture. About the only evidence that they did anything was water drippings around the drinking trough. So this first time event turned out to be successful and it was a successful trip with a happy ending.

It would be nice if all of life could be this easy.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms. Enjoy the Sunday holiday and we’ll be back again Monday.


Friday, May 9, 2008

Zoom, zoom, zoom!

Not too long ago there was a commercial on radio and television that included the music, “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom.” It may still be on, but for me it has lost all its effectiveness after a blitz that I no longer hear it. Until today. When I awoke this morning and began thinking about today’s piece of writing, the only thing that was racing through my mind was, “Zoom, zoom, zoom.”

Why? It’s Friday and another week has “zoom, zoom, zoomed” past. I seem to mention every Friday just how fast these weeks ‘zoom’ by when one hits the senior years. Don’t get me wrong. I love being a senior. My problem isn’t boredom but, like most seniors, the problem is finding time to do all I want to do.

That’s the one aspect of the connection between that automobile commercial and the life of a senior. I don’t like the fact my life is zooming away.

Nevertheless, we have arrived at another Friday. The sun is shining brightly right now, but there are clouds looming just to the south. We might, and understand it is a “might,” get some showers this evening or overnight. The weather lady on Channel Six this morning put that “might” into the popular weather person’s “depending on the track of the storm.”

It won’t be as warm today as it was yesterday. I think officially Portland was in the very high 70s yesterday. Here, on the south side of Route One where I live outside Portland, my unofficial weather station crossed over the 80 mark for the first time this year. It was rather warm. My wife and I had gone out shopping and found conditions more like summertime than spring.

What a difference between yesterday’s upper 60s at this 8 A.M. hour and today’s mid 50s. I’m not sure we’ll be able to get out of the 60s today and our summer day will only be a memory. I hope yesterday wasn’t our only summer day for the year.

Fridays are my days to do some housework to help my wife. Actually, I do some every day so she’ll have something to clean up. She works part time, you know by now, and I must admit it is that little help she brings home weekly that allows us to do things we probably wouldn’t normally be able to do. Unfortunately for us, even that little help won’t give us our annual long vacation away from home. Gas and other expenses have just prohibited a vacation trip for this year.

She does use those extra funds for other good things, though. Yesterday we drove by a jewelry store which had a big ‘moving’ sale. The move is two doors from its present location. I’ve needed a new watch for a while as the crystal on my old one was broken. The crystal I’m talking about is that piece of glass over the face. We checked. It would have cost more to replace it than we had paid for the watch several years ago.

She bought me a new watch. It is a far superior one than that which I had. The date correctly changes all year long. My old watch thought every month was 31 days long, so five times a year I had to manually change the date. “Oh, wow!” you think. “Poor boy!” Well, on this watch, changing the date wasn’t as simple a task as pulling out the stem and turning it once or twice. It was major operation requiring time changes, then the date change, then another time change. Sounds easy, but this is one time my old feeble mind had difficulty.

And all that only after I needed to read the date, like to write a check, and discovered it wasn’t correct. I no longer will have that problem, except when I change the batteries. And, something I couldn’t do before, I can read the watch in the dark. The new one glows. That’s not a big deal, but when we’re on trips, I like to be able to tell time at night.

She also bought a new carpet for our back room yesterday. She has hated the one that’s there now since the very day we moved into this house some 15 or 16 years ago. At last, she’s getting a new one. We both made out on her contribution as a result of that little part time job.

So, we’ll zoom, zoom, zoom through this Friday and probably another week. There is a positive to it for a senior, though. I made it through another week.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Dog's Cookie Store

I’m glad my lawn got its first haircut a couple days ago. Tuesday, the day I had planned to mow, heavy early morning fog and the resulting wet grass put those plans in doubt. But the sun came out relatively early and the temperature at my house climbed into the very low 70s. By eleven o’clock, though, the grass was still wet and mowing that day was doubtful.

About one o’clock my wife went outside to put some stuff into the compost bin, felt the grass, and came in with the news she thought we could mow. Let me digress just a moment as I’ve mentioned my composting area of mowed grass, chipped sticks, and the like on one far corner of our yard. We also have three bins for garbage type waste. It was in a latter she put Tuesday’s waste.

So, out we went. She has a walk behind mower she uses to trim near the brook where I really don’t dare drive my tractor. Her contribution to the mowing is priceless and one that I appreciate probably a whole lot more than she believes.

I mowed this day in a way I rarely do, without the bagging attachment. My feeble reasoning determined that the lawn would like me to leave the clippings for added nourishment as the nights continue to be cool and we had just fed the lawn a week ago. It was a mistake. I think I need one of these bagless trips to demonstrate to me why I bag. After I finished, the lawn looked terrible with clippings, torn apart leftover leaves, and general crud strewn all over the place.

Never again until next time will I ride around the yard without the bagger on.

I mention all this simply because it might be a few days before I get a chance to mow again. I wouldn’t mow today, just two days later anyway, but the weatherman says we’re in for some unsettled weather for the next several days. It’s a good thing I was able to get the job done this time around a couple of days ago.

If you have a dog and take your dog to the “cookie store,” you know how much fun it is to pull into a bank drive-through window. Most banks, around here anyway, have mini Milkbone treats for good dogs sitting patiently in the back seat. The ones I go to always ask me first if it’s OK to give my dog one. I’m not sure I’d have the courage to say “No” and have to face the gentle pup’s wrath.

I suspect my dog is not unique. The moment we drive into the bank lot, she knows we’re at the cookie store. She bounced a little, then dutifully sat down on the back seat to try to be patient. We had gone to the bank during the noon hour today and between inside activity and lunch time for employees, the drive-through window was manned only be tellers who saw a car there.

We waited an unusually long time for this bank. My dog had been patient long enough so she let go with a very loud, “Woof.” One of the tellers turned, saw us there, and as soon as she finished up her current task came to the window. She was sort of laughing and wondered if the call was on a cue. I told her it wasn’t; the pup just wanted her treat. The teller immediately passed on through the opening and then took care of my deposit. When she returned, she gave the dog a second treat. I hope a precedent wasn’t set. My dog won’t forget.

I guess I’ll sit back now and listen to the grass grow. One task I’ll accomplish is to put my bagging attachment on the tractor. When this unsettled weather finally ends next week, I’ll be all ready to mow once again.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hump Day!

Wednesday. Hump day. I’m not sure what I’m humping anymore, now that I’m a retired gent. But it is Wednesday, the middle of the work week. When I worked for a living as many people continue to do, this day signaled that the week was heading back down toward the weekend. It would be then that most of us would energize for the next coming week.

Then there were some of us that really didn’t get that energizing chance. I worked two jobs, my full time weekday job and a part time weekend job. It was necessary to earn enough to keep my family together, yet it stole my time from my family. Both my wife and I did spend as much time as we could with our kids, but probably not enough.

They didn’t turn out too badly, though. Our daughter has a college degree in accounting and is a benefits specialist in a Maine organization. She’s also becoming super certified in benefits administration. She also spends most weekends taking care of her aging parents. Our son has a Masters degree in mathematics and is a certified teacher in a western state. He withdrew from his math PhD program when he said he no longer could take the politics involved.

On this hump day I find myself reflecting on some citizen initiatives being readied for circulation. A citizen’s initiative is also called a People’s Veto and seeks to change a law passed by the legislature. The two laws addressed in these initiatives were passed very late in the last session. One deals with the so-called Real I.D. that the federal government wants. The other ones, there are two of them, deal with a huge tax increase on Maine citizens passed in the wee hours of the last session.

I’ve decided I won’t support the first one. Although I frequently sign such petitions to they will at least appear on the ballot so all citizens can be heard even if I oppose them, I’ll pass on this one. I honestly see no threat to my freedom with the Real I.D. which is designed to give some conformity to identifying American citizens and legal immigrants who are here legitimately.

When my wife and I took one of our month long summer vacations a couple of years ago, we had to show identification that showed who we were both entering Canada and re-entering the United States. Passports served that purpose and there was no hassle on either side of the border. But a passport is a bulky document to have to carry all the time.

I haven’t checked this one out since we do have passports, but I understand there’s talk of a small card citizens can get, for a “slight” fee of course, that allows crossing to and from Canada. As I understand it, the Real I.D. sort of serves like a passport. It would be required to board commercial aircraft, ships, trains, and enter Federal facilities. The authority knowing who I am is for my benefit as well as theirs.

It sort of reminds me of a visit to a bank not too long ago. As I attempted to make a rather large withdrawal, the teller politely asked me for identification. I looked at her and simply smiled and said, “Thank you for protecting my money.” Her look was that of surprise as she told me most people begin shouting at the insult. That’s the way I look at Real I.D. It’s an attempt to protect me.

The other initiatives, though, are a different matter. Unlike the Read I.D. act, which had full legislative review and hearings before passage, the new tax law was passed late at night with no advanced warning, no public hearing, no full public legislative review. And it’s going to cost Mainer’s between 50 and 70 million dollars in beverage taxes and insurance claims.

I’ve discussed this numerous times in recent days so I won’t go into a full discussion here. My only concern is there are two separate drives for this People’s Veto. One headed by two people very closely associated with Maine government and the Democrat Party which is responsible for the new taxes, and the other by young college Republicans in Bangor.

I’ve read some speculation that the biggest drive, spearheaded by a coalition of many businesses and organizations, is more of a smoke screen and that the two leaders will reach a deal with the governor before it gets to a vote if the drive succeeds.

I will sign a petition when I see one. They should be available from the Secretary of State’s office within a few days. And if it does indeed get to the November elections, I will vote to repeal the new tax law. I only hope the speculation around one of the drives is only that, speculation.

So a lot to reflect as we pass the hump.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Time for some catching up!

This isn’t a bad day in Maine. The temperature in my little spot in the state is up to 65 at this mid-morning. But it is a cool 65. The sun is shining right now. My lawn is extremely wet with dew leftover from an overnight fog. When I drove to my exercise facility this morning, there were places where the visibility was only a few feet in front of the car. By the time I left an hour later, the sun was shining and the fog had dissipated.

But the lawn remains dew covered this morning. I’m hoping the sun will dry it out enough to be able to mow. It needs mowing. I mow with a lawn tractor and usually bag the cuttings. When the grass is wet, or even damp, the clippings tend clog up the chute and I have to stop every few feet to dump it out. The other choice I have is to mow without the bagger, but that usually leaves clumps of wet grass. So, I’ll just hope the sun has a successful morning drying the grass so that around noontime I can head out.

Yesterday I mentioned I was in a waiting mode, a condition I don’t take very well. If you read later, you already know that I was left in the lurch by the water district which had scheduled this date months ago to change my meter. The district even called last Friday to remind me they were coming yesterday. Yesterday morning it called again to tell me it had to reschedule in June.

Now the district wants to inconvenience me twice. Yesterday when they said they were coming and didn’t and now another day in June. Their scheduling really ruins a whole day even though they give a four hour window to do the job. It’s difficult to make plans or go anywhere. I would imagine that many non-retired people have to go to great trouble to schedule their day for this visit. At least my being retired only made yesterday a frustrating one for me.

They’ve scheduled me for the early hours next month so perhaps the whole day won’t be ruined. I know I’m not the only affected by yesterday’s action. My neighbors have their meter at the end of the long driveway as I do. The district had said it would change both of our meters at the same visit. So my neighbor was also inconvenienced. Probably many others were, too.

I also mentioned yesterday that I had my by-monthly blood draw to test how Coumadin was controlling my blood. I had had a setback a few weeks ago when I had a great garden salad. The greens things in such salads contain vitamin K which causes a war with the blood thinner. What had been blood visits every four weeks were down to two while my blood was being brought back under control. Yesterday’s visit, however, showed progress. My next draw is now scheduled for three weeks.

The lead physical therapist where I do my exercising and one of my fellow attendees had a fascinating discussion this morning. Both are ardent hockey fans with the Philadelphia born PT cheering for the Flyers and the Canadian born senior citizen cheering for the Habs. The talked about various elements in last Saturday’s final series game where the Flyers ousted Montreal from the playoffs. No excuses, no chest thumping, just good conversation about many of what apparently were good plays in the game.

Finally, over the weekend I mentioned that a group had submitted a plan to the Maine Secretary of State’s office to initiate a People’s Veto of a huge tax increase enacted late at night by the Democrats and two Republicans with no public input or even knowledge the action was being taken. That new tax has infuriated a large number, perhaps the majority, of Mainers. If the group can collect 60-thousand or so valid signatures by mid July, the taxes will be put on hold until the citizens decide in November at the ballot box.

I will at least sign the petition when it becomes available. I’m even trying to think of a way I might help. My limited mobility and standing ability is a handicap in the kind of action they need, though. Nevertheless, there probability will be some way I can contribute.


Monday, May 5, 2008

My "love" for waiting hasn't changed.

It seems to me it was just a few days ago when I wrote how much I hate to wait. Well, here I am in another waiting game. This time I’m waiting for the water district to come to replace my water meter. The district has changed to a different kind of meter, one that allows meter reader to either just drive by and collect the reading automatically or perhaps slow down to a crawl and aim his little device at the meter.

The district tells us it’ll save them money and be an improvement in service. Isn’t that what all businesses say when the make changes? Of course to save me this money, the price of water had to go up. And, as I said one day last week, I have this little feeling in my gut that this new meter will increase my usage, too. I don’t know why, it’s just that gut feeling.

The district called and said it didn’t want to inconvenience me with this changeover so they gave me a time frame in which they would arrive. It was a four hour time frame in the afternoon. I thought that was very nice of them so that I could plan my day around their visit.

At least this morning I was able to go to the blood place for my bi-monthly draw to check something called INR. It determines if clots I have are in danger of breaking away and heading to a place that could cause very unnice results. I had those clots for 8 years now and no one wants to do much about them. Except have my arm poked every two weeks.

I had that poking down to monthly for a while, but then several weeks ago I succumbed to the desire to have a garden salad. Garden salads, as you know, contain green things. Green things contain vitamin K which cancels the effect of the Coumadin I take to control that INR stuff. I honestly thought that having one garden salad a week before my draw wouldn’t affect the test results. I was wrong. After a couple of years of having the blood under control, the draw after the salad went whacky.

My doctor has been fiddling with the medication doses to try to get the blood back to my normal and is almost there. I’ll sure be glad to get back first to three week then monthly draws again. But as I tell people who ask about my condition, I point out the only thing that counts is waking up in the morning. So far, I’ve been doing that with some regularity.

My water meter is very far away from my house. The district put it there so it wouldn’t be responsible for the water line from the street to the house. Since the meter is way down at the end of the driveway, I asked why I had to be home when it was changed. I was told they have to shut the water off in the house, swap out the meter, then turn the water back on and test it to be sure it’s working OK. So, for four hours today, I could go nowhere, just wait, patiently.

Mid-afternoon update: My wait is over. For today. The water district postponed today's appointment until June. A day wasted. If I'm not patient today, think just how I'll be next month. Oh, the next sentence says, "I'm not angry..." I don't think "happy" would be a good substitute.

I’m not patient. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not angry, either; and I probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere anyway. It’s just the idea I can’t. And that doesn’t create a happy feeling. Most people can busy themselves with productive things when they’re waiting. Not me. I can’t concentrate on reading. I can’t put together a puzzle. I can’t do crosswords. I just watch for whatever it is I’m waiting for.

But when replacing the meter is all done, I’m assured I’ll be part of a much more efficient system that will save the district money, thus save me money. Sure!


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dogs, Computers, and Taxes

It’s a Saturday. My dog knows it’s a Saturday. I have no clue how she knows it, but she does. This is the day she goes through her ritual of looking out the window just about every three minutes beginning shortly after nine. I don’t know how she knows it’s shortly after nine, either, but that begins the time frame during which she can expect a visit from her sister, our daughter’s dog.

There is no doubt in her mind that she’ll have a playmate before the morning is over. It won’t be long before the phone rings and we learn that our daughter and her dog have left their home heading here. That will be a signal to ours and she won’t leave the window after that until she sees the car coming up the driveway.

The dog will know instinctively that the call is from Daughter Gator. At other times during the week the dog just looks at the phone when it rings. If it should be from the daughter, I guess it’s our facial expression or perhaps tone of voice that signals her, but she doesn’t assume she’s going to have a visitor. But Saturdays, and sometimes Sundays, simply don’t get by her. She knows from the time she awakes that this is the day for a visit.

Just being in a position to watch all this excitement and anticipation is just one of the reasons that having a good pet can be so entertaining and heartwarming. And the fun doesn’t end when her visitors arrive. Now that we have decent weather for outdoor activity, the two dogs will be leading their respective humans outside. They play better and longer when the human gals are outside, too.

Now the big girls don’t have to be paying any attention at all to the little ones. All they have to do is be outside with them and they’re content. It’s a good day for the dogs, and a happy one. They can bring so much pleasure to a family as can just about any loving pet. Our Goldens will sleep tonight.

Oh-oh. As I write this, some very light showers have moved into the neighborhood. I’m not sure how they will affect the day. I guess we’ll just be patient and see.

On another subject, I had a frustrating experience with a computer yesterday. My main computer, a Dell XPS system, refused to boot. I had an error message that said a certain file was missing. So I called Dell XPS support and immediately connected with a technician who apparently was in another country at a call center. He sure did seem to be competent, though, and we easily communicated as he talked me through some correction procedures. Unfortunately, they didn’t work.

So he had me perform an hour or longer disk repair facility and call support back for further instructions. I ran the facility, but it didn’t make any difference so I called Dell XPS again. This time I got a technician who spoke with a slight southwestern drawl. Thanks to a service number he had the work with the other technician before him, but said he wanted to try something different. He said he’s run into my problem before and always could be fixed his way. Fifteen minutes later, my computer was running smoothly. I got lucky to reach someone who had faced the situation before.

And a final bit for this weekend. I heard on the radio that there will be a petition drive to get a People’s Veto of a late night legislative tax increase on the November ballot. I’m not sure if a formal notice for the effort has yet been filed with the Secretary of State’s office, but Monday is the deadline to file such a notice if there is to be one. One group has already filed, but I understand the one discussed on the radio today is by a large statewide coalition of interested parties.

The new taxes, if not challenged successfully, were passed by the Democrats in the state Legislature late at night in the final days of the last session. They will cost Maine taxpayers more than 50 million dollars a year to fund a state sponsored insurance program that covers 13-14 thousand people. The insurance regulations that have passed legislative action over the last several years have driven most insurance companies out of the state and have made Maine among the highest priced insurance states. Most Mainers can no longer afford their health insurance.

If what I heard is true, then I will sign the petition to give all Mainers a chance to vote on this huge tax increase in November. This huge tax, incidentally, is after the governor and many in the legislature said there would be no new taxes, fees, surcharges. That was in the heat of a budget crunch. Once that crunch was resolved, what appears to have been a well thought out plan for tax increase came to fruition.

Some food for thought over this weekend. Enjoy your Sunday and I’ll be back Monday.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Irrigation, High Def, Just Friday

It seems like it was just yesterday when I wrote that another Friday was upon us. I then discussed how fast these weeks seem to be flying by. Here it is again. Another Friday. I’m not sure I like the speed at which my time on this Earth is passing by. Don’t get this wrong; I’m not ready to say “Goodbye,” and I’m not unhappy with my life. It’s just that these darn Fridays are coming too often and too fast.

Today is the day the water guy is scheduled to come by to turn on my irrigation system. That is a task I could easily do myself, but the water guy goes around and checks all those little gadgets that pop up out of the ground when the water comes on. If they need replacement or adjusting, he takes care of it right then. I probably could do those tasks myself, too; but getting down on the ground and then getting up again, especially that getting up part, can be an adventure for me.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times my wife has several gardens around our property, including a couple devoted to fresh vegetables. I think I’m going to ask the water guy today if a couple of my zones can be reconfigured so that they will only do the veggie gardens when the rest of the yard might not need the water as much.

Speaking of water, next week Portland Water District is coming by to change my water meter from its present “stop and read” device to one where all the meter reader has to do is literally just drive by. I’m a skeptic. I suspect I’ll see a change in my water usage as a result and thus higher bills. That’s another reason I’d like to isolate the veggie gardens to conserve some water.

The more I watch my new HDTV the more I like it. After getting it properly programmed yesterday by the nice guy at Time Warner, the picture is clearer and all the cute little parts of the toy, the remote control and cable box, are working. I’m absolutely amazed at the clearer picture on our local channels on the HD channels than on the old analog channels. Now I’ll be even happier when the locals broadcast using their own HD cameras so that the full screen can be utilized.

Just goes to show, doesn’t it, how the more we have the more we want. I had no real desire to have this HD stuff, well, maybe a small desire, until my old analog TV began its final journey last week. Now that I have High Definition channels, I want even more, and I want my local stations to get their own High Def cameras.

This is an easy day for me. In fact all these fast arriving Fridays are easy days. My wife works her part time job on Fridays so I get a day of rest. I do some of the light housekeeping stuff for her, like the laundry, so that she can have weekends for her favorite activity: working outdoors. Vacations and some transfers have made the department in the food market in which she works a little short handed. She’s been asked if she could possibly work a few extra hours next week to help fill in voids. She will because she’s she, but we all know what “a few extra hours” means to a corporate giant.

I’m not sure what happened to the nice, warm weather we had a while back, but today continues to be rather cool. Actually, I find it rather cold. The weather woman on the TV this morning said an afternoon sea breeze will keep it cool along the coast. I’m doing what I can to make it easy for Momma Gator to go outside tomorrow to work, but it may be too cool. Certainly can’t plant right now. Maybe she’ll help me clean up the dog leavings (she is her dog) so I can mow.

Now I think I’ll try to find a way to slow down the arrival of next week’s Friday.