Saturday, August 30, 2008

Labor Day Weekend, the End of a Too Short Season

A wonderful Holiday Weekend is upon us. The celebration of Labor Day has many different fingers, but it is almost always a good time. Included among various paths are the end of traditional summer, back to school for the kiddoes, cookouts and family get-togethers, and every two years, including this one, the beginning of the political season. The weather is expected to cooperate this year, too. After some possible shower activity in some areas Saturday, Sunday and Monday look to be nice and sunny.

I like to avoid commenting on politics as much as possible during weekend posts, but Friday’s events will cause me to mention national scene. This is, after all, a weekend like no other before. We have a black presidential nominee and a woman vice presidential choice. I’ll save that for the end, though.

This weekend is the traditional end of the summer season. Actual summer will continue for another three weeks, but this ends that which Memorial Day began in May. Many folk who own lake camps will be generally buttoning them up for the winter. They may get a couple more visits, but “the season” will be over. Quiet peace will once again return to Maine’s lakes.

Some schools have already opened for the year and the rest will be welcoming students during the coming week. I saw a television news program a few days ago that showed cars driving at normal speeds through school zones. There was a policeman there directing traffic, but many of the motorists were oblivious to the walking students. I mention this only to remind you that schools are either open or opening and the streets around them will be teeming with students. School zones do have considerably reduced speed limits, especially when children are present. I hope you have adjusted your driving to accommodate students going to and coming from school.

Amusement places like Old Orchard Beach and other fun time places will shut down after this weekend. Many, and including OOB, will open weekends for some activity. Speaking of Old Orchard Beach Gator Wife and I took our annual trip there a few days ago to walk around to see the sights, enjoy some French fries, incredibly expensive onion rings, and a slice of pizza. We came home with a totally negative opinion this year. The fries and the pizza were reheated and the nine rings simply weren’t worth the price.

But the biggest disappointment was what we felt was an eyesore in the middle of town. A huge, monstrosity of a building completely overshadows the place. I’m sure the town officials, the building owners and the year round residents love having it there and consider it beautiful for the taxes it generates. But these two visitors found it overwhelming and ugly. The locals would probably tell us that if we don’t like it, don’t come. That’s a simple idea to consider next year.

Like many families, Gator Daughter will visit us this weekend and we’ll be enjoying our cookout feast. I’m not sure if that will be Sunday or Monday but Gator Wife is scheduled to work at her part time job on Mondays. If she indeed does put in a full day, we’ll have our cookout Sunday. GD will also be here Saturday so she and GW can have some fun playing in the gardens. I completed my weekly mowing Thursday, but I may put the bagger attachment on the mower and do a quick vacuuming of what is becoming a lot of hay.

Finally, Monday is Labor Day. I remember when the political parties used this day to gather the faithful to various parks for a big hamburger, etc., feast and make the political speeches that they hope will propel them to town governments or the state legislature. The candidates for national office usually stopped in, too, to make pleas for a case for their elections. I think, though, that’s a tradition that’s long passed, but, nevertheless, the campaign season will begin.

Now it’s that time for my brief political statement. Sen. John McCain announced Friday that he has asked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate in the November elections. McCain is the presumptive Republican nominee for President in November. I know very little about Gov. Palin and will have to do some research before I can comment fairly. Her speech accepting the offer, though, was mighty powerful after it got going. I am happy McCain did not appoint another Senator to be his running mate. It is just possible that the appointment of Gov. Palin will bring to him a huge number of women’s votes and it will make the next couple of months interesting. I can’t help but wonder what Sen. Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton are thinking this weekend.

What an historical weekend it is. The first black man to be nominated for President and a woman to be chosen the Vice President. (Gov. Palin is the first woman to be nominated for Veep in the GOP, but Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman in either party to get that call.) They are on opposite tickets, but we’ve never seen this before. I’m proud to be an American.

I hope you are, also, and I hope this Historic Labor Day Weekend is good to you and your family. Monday is a holiday so we’ll visit with you again on Tuesday.


Friday, August 29, 2008

A sad political fact

I remember when Friday was one of the best days of the week. It ended my main job work week. Just about everyone I knew at work looked forward to Fridays. It signaled that two days of relaxation were almost upon us. Now that wasn’t true for everyone, like me for example. Fridays signaled the end of one job’s work week but the beginning of a work weekend at a second job. I’m not complaining, mind you, that’s just many of us older folk did to provide for our families. We did not depend on the state, and thus you, to just give us things.

I mention this because of a news story I heard on the radio this morning. As the new school year in Portland opens next week, the report said than 33-hundred of the 72-hundred Portland students are eligible for free breakfast. That’s outrageous! Not the free breakfast program but rather it is the fact that nearly a half of all Portland children live in families that meet state welfare assistance guidelines for the program.

How sad that our state government has created a society in this state that is so dependent on welfare to make ends meet. Jobs are leaving Maine at a tremendous pace. Just this week, for example, we learned of several hundred jobs being eliminated in at least two and possibly three paper mills. Drive around the area and see all the empty store fronts. Because we live here many of our citizens believe this is the way it is country wide. After all, they’ve been told the poor economy is the result of President Bush’s programs and has nothing to do with our state.

Of course we no longer have a news media here that tells us about the growth in other areas of the country or about the growth in consumer confidence elsewhere and the growth of the national economy. Our news media simply parrots the press releases from our state government telling us not to worry; it will take care of us. Meanwhile the people of Maine trying to maintain good employment and provide for their families see taxes and fees rising so they have to contribute more to folks not earning and take it away from their own families.

We have a chance in just a few weeks to start making changes. Will we? It appears Mainers like their taxation.

I’d like to be able to comment on last night’s conclusion to the Democrat convention and the acceptance of Barack Obama and Joe Biden as the party’s nominees for the country’s top offices. I can’t comment, though. No surprise here: I didn’t watch. But it’s fun to ask my Democrat friends just what Obama has ever accomplished? Just how he will make change? Just what he will do for America? I’m not interested in the rhetoric because both parties promise us the world. I’d just like to know real accomplishments that can demonstrate he can lead.

Meanwhile, before this day is over, we’ll learn who Republican John McCain has chosen to be his running mate in November. That announcement is expected about noon. Then it’ll be off to the Republican Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul. That convention begins Monday and continues through the acceptance speech Thursday. I’ll probably see about as much of that convention on television as I did the Democrat one. Edited to add: It's now later and we have learned that John McCain has chosen Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska to be his running mate. I'll discuss this more next week.

We have a long weekend coming up. It’s the “last hurrah” for many Mainers as Labor Day comes on a real Monday this year. Camps will be closed, families will gather for cookouts, and most amusement areas will close down, except for a few more weekends. Even though it has been in full swing for more than a year, it is the traditional beginning of the election season. At least it’s the beginning of the campaigns for local and state politicians.

Listen to those candidates carefully and ask them the key questions that affect your taxes, way of life, and Maine’s future. Getting yourself educated is the only way to make informed decisions when you enter the booth in November.

I’ll be back tomorrow, but if I miss you, I hope you have a super Labor Day Weekend.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Just a little Thursday life

This continuing great weather really does the old soul some good. I guess there’s going to be a little glitch in the next couple of days, but not everyone will see it and the closer to the coast you live the better the chance of missing it.

Gator Wife is home today. I’m not sure just what she has planned for us as I just got home from my successful Senior Fitness routine at the physical therapy center. I’m not sure, however, that the designed workout is continuing to improve my back. As I discovered yesterday leaving the restaurant after our retirement group lunch, my ability to walk distances seems to be decreasing. My Fearless Friend noticed it, too, and pointed out to me this morning he was very close by as I headed for my car. I thought he just wanted to show off his new iPhone toy. FF is a good guy, but I’ll never tell him that.

Perhaps I’ll schedule a session with the spine therapist to see how I can adjust my fitness schedule. The therapy place I use has one of the best spine guys in the area, which is how I got hooked up with the outfit. The people there have been great, but it might be now I need some more direction.

Now I’m home for the day. GW did learn some good things this week. This recent spell of great weather along with some irrigation at night has revived at least some of our vegetable gardens. She’s now has so many tomatoes with many more ripening daily that she’s giving them away. Gator daughter takes them to her work place and puts them on the “help yourself” table there. The green beans which she was getting ready to pull last week are once again presenting us with bountiful amounts. In fact I believe they’re on our menu for tonight. Cucumbers, which a week ago could be hidden by a little finger, are huge.

I could go on but I think you get the idea. The harvest we have always begun in late July/early August is now coming in. It is a total surprise as is the great flavors that have come with them. In just about a week and a half what had been a total disaster has now become a great success. Amazing how nature plays its little games.

Did you see in news that the LPGA is going to require players in its tournaments to speak English? The group welcomes players from other countries but believes it’s important they respond to reporters and interviewers on the TV to be speaking English. They are going to give foreign players periodic tests to be sure they are complying. The group is giving the foreign players two years to learn enough of the language to communicate.

It would be great if this is the beginning. All organizations should make the same requirement. This should be the beginning of a movement to make English the prime language in our country. Of course it might be nice if they require Americans to also be able to speak English. I know there’ll be those who will say if we make this requirement other countries will do the same in their lands. No opposition from me on that one. Besides, I wonder even today how many non-Pick-a-Language speaking Americans can go to a foreign country and demand a free interpreter. I wonder how many governmental papers are provided both in the native language and English. Just some thought food.

The Democrats finalized the nomination of Barack Obama as their candidate for the President of the United States last night. Now, perhaps, we’ll find out just exactly what he has accomplished to make him the great leader we’re told he is. Anyone remember George McGovern?

Next week the Republicans take their turn. It’ll be another week of the hype, meaningless promises, and feel good stuff for the party faithful. In the end, John McCain will be running against Obama for President. I’ll probably watch as much of that convention as I did the Democrat one. And you know where my political persuasion is.

GW and Gator Golden are outside doing whatever they do out there. I know she’s planning to get some beans for tonight’s meal, and they’ll be excellent. I love fresh vegetables.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday: A good day for lunch and some random thoughts

Our great weather spell is forecast to continue at least until Saturday. This kind of weather, beautiful sunshine, pleasant temperatures, and especially low humidity, is just what Maine is all about. Those folks who chose this final week of summer for their vacation really picked a great one.

Oh, yes. I fully realize that summer doesn’t officially end for another three weeks or so, but in Maine the summer season has traditionally run between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Labor Day is next Monday so this week through the long weekend, which will include Monday, marks The End. Well, maybe not. Maine is highly known and regarded for its Fall Foliage season which effectively has extended the fun time of summer another six weeks or so. But the traditional summer places will begin shutting down Monday with many moving to a weekend schedule only for another few weeks.

Today is a great day. It’s the last Wednesday of the month and so my retirement group will be meeting for lunch today at the Mall. I mention every four weeks or so we are all retired from the same work place and use this day as a way to socialize a little, get caught up on the latest news, mostly talk sports, and enjoy a meal together. It’s a lively, happy, fun time.

The Democrat convention continues in Denver. The nomination of Barack Obama as the party’s Presidential candidate will take place and Hillary Clinton has officially told her delegates to support Obama so the Party will appear united leaving Denver in another day or so. Reading and watching news out of Denver might give some hints that unity isn’t happening. There are still many Democrats who wonder if Obama can truly lead America. After all, a quick look at his resume shows he doesn’t have much experience at leadership.

One thing about the Convention, though, it is highlighting the news, as it should. As a result the Maine Democrat leadership doesn’t appear to be raising too much havoc with our state and that leaves some of us with little to discuss.

I saw a neat little newly paved, possibly newly created walkway yesterday. I have no idea where it goes or what its purpose is. There were no obvious signs explaining it. It runs right next to I-295 in South Portland across from Pape Chevrolet, or more accurately across the street from the I-295 off ramp next to the dealership. The path appears to have been created during the construction of the new on-ramp.

The path winds up a little hill then disappears as it apparently heads south parallel to the Interstate and the river there. It’s in a very busy traffic area and there are no apparent parking places anywhere nearby. Gator Wife and I opined it was probably part of a walking route through the area where people might get to see the natural habitats along the river, but I’ll have to do some more research before I know for sure. In any event, that little path did cause some interesting discussion between GW and me. Because of its location, there’s a good chance we’ll never get to walk it to find out.

One thing we both agreed upon: if we had little kids, the high volume of traffic within a couple feet of the path would prevent us from ever using it if it is a nature trail.

Another little peeve we had recently was visiting the dealership where she bought her car across from the Maine Mall. The dealership no longer sells Subaru’s. We did find the new Subaru dealership on Broadway in So. Portland, which is why we were driving by that little path. But we would have thought that the old one would have at the very least sent a note to its former customers of the change. We had been there just a few weeks ago and it wasn’t mentioned then, either. That’s a crummy way to do business and even though that dealership across from the Mall still sells popular foreign cars, I doubt it will ever see our presence again.

Such negative thoughts to end this day’s visit. I’m looking forward now to heading over to a lunch time with some very nice folks and former associates of mine at work. It’s one of the better elements of a retirement schedule.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A lousy way to begin a day!

Edited so the opening few paragraphs of today’s post will make sense. 10:10 AM and apparently the cable has been repaired. Below is today’s post written earlier this morning reflecting some Time Warmer Cable problems in our area. All is now fixed, but I’m staying with my original writings because I’m lazy.

We can only call this day’s beginning “A Bumma.” I went to my regular Senior Fitness session today and must say the lack of humidity along with the nice temperatures and sunshine does wonders for an old body. This was one of the better sessions I’ve had in recent weeks. So why, you ask, is the day’s beginning not a good one? I got home to find that somewhere between my house and the transmission place is a cable problem. I have no TV, no telephone, no Road Runner. And all that makes this day’s beginning, “A Bumma.”

That also explains why this posting is much later than usual. Most days I’ve posted by eight o’clock except Tuesdays and Thursdays it’s between nine and ten because I’m away for the fitness class. The one this all affects the most is my Fearless Friend. He’ll be checking to be sure I’ve posted, not so much to see what I’m saying for the day, but rather it’ll indicate all’s O.K. Sometime later this morning he’ll send an e-mail which won’t get a response. He’ll be wondering. I probably wouldn’t try the phone until this evening or even tomorrow, but that won’t work either. So FF will have some wondering to do.

My wife’s car needs registering next month but the prices are going up September first. You know, part of that no new taxes from the last Legislature. Technically it’s not a new one, but it is an increase, and a major increase at that. The state has graciously said it’ll allow September registrants to do it early and save the increase, so we’ll be heading for Town Hall this morning and get that task completed.

It’s probably not there now and I’m sorry I didn’t see it before I posted yesterday, but state senator Ethan Strimling made the most ridiculous statement in a commentary in yesterday’s Portland Press Herald I think I’ve heard for a while. He said that critics were wrong now that the tax foundation has changed the way it calculates the tax burden in Maine. As a result of that change, Maine dropped from first to 15th in the nation in tax burden. The critics say nothing has changed.

Not true, says Strimling. Because of the change we didn’t spend as much in taxes as we were told. And furthermore, says he, we been spending less each year for the past four years. Why do I say that’s a ridiculous statement? Because, Mr. Strimling, in spite of your proclamations, I still spent 14% or more of my income on taxes last year. I do not have extra money because you say I’ve spent less. Now if you’ll arrange for the State to return 4% of the money I’ve spent in taxes over the last five years, I’ll change my mind. But as long as I’m still sending the state and local community the same dollar amount of my income, I’m spending as much as I was before the tax foundation conveniently changed its methodology.

I fully realize and point out that the methodology of the tax foundation and my calculations have no relationship. I only figure my burden by the amount of income and the amount of taxes I have to pay state and local authorities. Nothing else makes sense to me. The other stuff in that methodology is only a smokescreen to hide the actual facts: we have an intolerable tax burden in the state of Maine.

I find it sad that a state senator and one who has aspirations for higher office believes that garbage. All that reasoning has done is convince me even more that I’m paying too darn much money for too many darn services I do not want and cannot use.

Since I have no idea when, or if, this will get posted, I guess I’ll cut it short this morning and hope your day isn’t a “bumma,” too.


Monday, August 25, 2008

The Conventions Begin

Monday is upon us once again. The day had a cloudy/foggy start and the forecast calls for some shower activity before the day is done. Looking at the weather radar early this morning hinted that we in Southern Maine just might miss most of it. One real thing I’m seeing, though, there’s some sunshine right now over here on the South Side of Route 1. But I’m not a weatherman so we’ll just have to wait and see what comes.

It was a great weekend. Gator Daughter was here both days through the lunch hour and helped her mother with some outside activities. Her dog and Gator Golden had a great time together. Watching ours last night was almost funny. She had romped and chased so much that by suppertime she was hardly able to keep her eyes open.

Gator wife has headed off to work and will be at her part time place until early afternoon. That leaves me with some household chores to accomplish this morning. It’s not a “requirement;” but since she’s willing to help us out, I can do a little part.

The Olympics are over. The U.S. won the most medals although the most Gold went to China. NBC, which aired the Olympics on a whole host of channels this time around, says this year’s Olympic Games were the most watched program in television history, highlighted by Michael Phelps’ record breaking eight gold in swimming.

Speaking of TV, this is the week we’ll have our share of coverage of the Democrat National Convention which begins today in Denver. Since you know my political leanings you already know I won’t be watching too much of it. In fact I probably won’t see any of it. It is a “done deal” as they say. Barack Obama has the commitment of enough delegates to get the nomination to run for President.

There will be some moments of “fun,” I guess, when the nominations are made. Word has it that Sen. Hillary Clinton will have her name put into nomination so that her followers can have a reason to celebrate before voting for Obama. Both Senator and former President Bill Clinton will be speaking at the convention. That could provide some interesting moments. I’ve read but haven’t seen anything official that Maine’s Democrat senator hopeful Tom Allen will also make an on-stage appearance.

Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects will be how Obama continues to call for “change” in November after selecting a 36-year Democrat senator as his running mate. Delaware’s Joe Biden has been among the Senate leaders for most of that time. He’s somewhat controversial and doesn’t always have the support of members of his own party. He should fit in well with Obama, the most liberal senator, though, as Biden himself is among those liberals. But it would appear that Obama may be abandoning his “change” battle cry.

We say all this knowing full well that the Republican convention is next week. It will be a replay of the Democrat convention. We don’t know yet who presumptive nominee Sen. John McClain will pick as his running mate. I hope it’s not another senator. We already are faced with a President who will come from a governing body that has the lowest voter approval in history. And now another member of that group will be on the ticket.

I would agree with Obama that we need change. We aren’t likely to get it by electing one of two members of the Congress which has done virtually nothing for two years. I hope all this isn’t foreboding four more years of doing nothing positive to improve the energy situation, the health care cost, illegal immigration problem, the economy, and all the other elements of American life.

I wish I could have a higher expectation for the outcome of the November elections.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Westbrook Babe Ruth team should hold heads high!

We like weekends. We especially like nice, sunny, pleasant ones. And this one appears to meet all the criteria. There is a possibility of some fog greeting us Sunday morning and some thunder shower activity Sunday night, but generally we’ll have a great weekend.

Daughter Gator and her dog will be spending a goodly portion with us. The main activity will be to do some power washing. The back deck and the back of the house to which it’s attached desperately need a bath. Other than that, I think it’s primarily a weekend to work at not gaining any weight. Their company, though, is a most welcome time.

The Westbrook 13-15 Babe Ruth tournament team didn’t quite achieve its goal Friday night as they ran into a powerful team from Torrance, CA, in the championship game. But the Westbrook boys have nothing to be ashamed of. They were the champions of Maine and the Champions of New England. They went to the World Series with high hopes and came back after losing three games in the pool play to get to the championship game. I believe I read that Westbrook was the first team ever to come from three losses in the pool rounds to gain that championship final. Everyone in Maine and New England should be proud of the Boys from Westbrook and the boys themselves should be proud that they represented their city extremely well.

Speaking of youth sports, the Little League World Series also concludes this weekend. Neither Maine nor New England has a representative in the final games in Williamsport, PA. The American and International championship games are scheduled for Saturday afternoon and those winners meet Sunday for the World Championship.

Also in sports this weekend, the Olympic Games will have closing ceremony Sunday. I guess it’s been a couple of exciting weeks although I haven’t watched too much of it. To say I haven’t turned it on at all would not be accurate, but I’d bet without actually calculating the minutes that Wife Gator and I haven’t seen more than an hour or 90 minutes at the most. And that includes the times the TV remained on while we were doing things elsewhere in the house.

WG and I are not cell phone users. We both have one but we only have them for emergencies. No kidding, we haven’t used more than 12 minutes in any one month since we got them right after my Triple A and heart attack seven years ago. We got them in case I was away from the house and needed emergency medical help. I do not have a camera phone and really want one for two reasons.

I occasionally watch Judge Judy or People’s Court on TV. Whenever anyone brings a case to them involving an accident or injury, the judges like pictures. I think it was Judge Judy who suggested that with today’s phones, which she said almost everyone in the world now has, there’s no excuse for not having a picture. So I’d like a camera phone so that if I’m in an accident or something, I can get a photo record of it. Maybe, just maybe, I can make it to one of those judge shows on TV.

The other reason is for this venture. I think it would be great to be able to dot these posts occasionally with a picture. Yes, I have in the past, but only when I’ve been home and take a picture of something directly related to my home. I’d like an opportunity when I unexpectedly come across something. Sure, I could take my cheap camera around with me, but I don’t remember it now; and I don’t want to have to think of two things. Besides, by phone is always in my car.

I mention the camera phone because I’ve been looking into getting one for a little over a week. I’ve stopped because the companies want me to increase my plan minutes which I don’t need to do. Shucks, I haven’t use a total of 700 minutes since I first got a cell phone. My Fearless Friend was here Friday and he came up with a great suggestion: get a pre-paid plan. He pointed out even with two of them I’d save a bundle of money over the course of a year. Now that’s an idea worth looking into.

This is a weekend and I trust you’ve noticed I’ve avoided commenting on my political opinions or government opinions. With Obama picking Joe Biden as a running mate, that avoidance was tough. I hope you’ll forgive me for this one little political reference and have yourself a remarkably great weekend. This season is winding down. See you Monday!


Friday, August 22, 2008

Westbrook boys bring glory, again, to hometown

That sun out there this morning sure is nice. Looks like we’re in for a nice weekend ahead with a chance of a slight glitch Sunday. I’m happy Wife Gator and I won’t have to do the lawn as it got its haircut yesterday.

Tonight at 7:30 our time the Westbrook Babe Ruth League all-stars will be playing for Babe Ruth World Series Championship. No matter how tonight’s game turns out, and we have no reason to think it’ll be anything but the title, those boys from Westbrook have really put their town on the map. It wasn’t too long ago many of these same kids were earning the hearts of just about everyone at the Little League World Series.

They said they went to the LLWS with the goal of having a good time, doing the best they could, and represent their city well. Having fun was the watchword for the team, and have fun they did. This time around, though, they said the adventure was all business. Having fun was part of it, but they had tasted what it was like to play in a real championship and their goal was to be in the Babe Ruth championship game.

The kids did have some losses in the World Series, three to be exact, along the way, but they have reached their first goal and tonight they will play the final game that ends with the Babe Ruth Championship. Of course the ultimate goal is to win that game. Westbrook will be facing a tough challenge as their opponent, Torrance, CA, has gone through the tourney with just one loss. That won’t scare Westbrook. The team they beat last night, Eau Claire, WS, had been undefeated in the tourney, including a win over Westbrook in the first game.

The Babe Ruth League Championship doesn’t grab the attention that the Little League World Series gets. There’s no national television for the BR kids. I wish there were as I’d be among those watching. But here in Southern Maine, we all should be cheering on the great effort of the 13-15 year-old boys from Westbrook as they play for their league’s championship tonight.

The teams for the championship rounds of the Little League World Series, which does get national TV coverage, have been set. Tomorrow the Southwest Champs will face the West Champs for the American championship and Japan will face Mexico for the International championship. Those winners play for the LLWS title Sunday afternoon.

Let’s turn for a moment to the national political scene. Barack Obama has found an issue to hang his hat on. John McCain didn’t know right off the top of his head how many homes he owns. Obama’s camp has even released an advertisement asking how McCain can earn the White House when he has no connection to home owners. McCain fired back wondering if Obama really wants to get into a debate over home ownership. He mentioned the home Obama contributed to buying worth more than a million dollars. He had help from a questionable friend, convicted felon Tony Rezko, in making that purchase.

I would agree that McCain probably should have know how many houses his family held, but I’d rather know how Obama is planning to make all those changes he’s promising. How will he change the economy? The energy situation? America’s relationship in foreign policy? Housing? And all the rest? Wouldn’t they be better topics for a presumptive Presidential candidate?

A weekend is now just a day away. One of the highlights of the weekend is the 43rd annual WCSH-TV Sidewalk Art Festival in Downtown Portland. Tomorrow will be a nice weather day. Those 43 years ago, two WCSH employees, Art Director Art Hahn and weatherman and Promotions Director Lou Colby, did an extensive research on a good summer day for the art festival. They concluded that the 4th Saturday in August had the least inclement weather in the history of weather statistics than any other day. They chose that day for their first festival. And, indeed, throughout the years, the weather has disrupted the festival only two or three times.

I hope the walking trip through downtown Portland (I think the business community now prefers it to be called “Intown” Portland.) is on your list of things to do Saturday.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Can new vacuum suck up change?

Can we handle this weather? Wow! And the forecast calls for a little shower activity late Sunday, but generally speaking the days between now and mid next week should be rather nice. I especially like the cool nights we’ve had the last couple of days. They sure do add to the sleeping ability.

I’ll be patiently waiting this morning for the sun to get my long grass dried. Probably by late morning I’ll be outside riding around the yard on my mower. After the long spell between late June and early August when mowing even once a week was almost a challenge, my lawn has joined me in loving this weather we’re having now. I almost easily could mow twice a week, or at least twice every ten days or so. It was a week ago today that I last mowed and by Tuesday it “almost” needed it again as the grass was up just a bit. This morning it looks like a field out there.

We have a new vacuum cleaner. We ran into a little snag with the one we bought a week and a half ago. Apparently someone had taken a floor model and packaged it in the wrong box. We had bought a new Dyson that was configured to handle pet hair. But it turned out we didn’t get that one but rather a less expensive one. The one we wanted finally arrived yesterday.

We tried it out last night and put it through a test, first vacuuming a rug with our old machine and then doing the same area with the new one. I think the old machine was simply moving dirt around because the new one very quickly filled up with Gator Dog’s hair and other normal “rug stuff.” Neither of us could believe the difference.

This morning Wife Gator is challenging the other rugs in the house to keep their dirt against this new powerhouse. They’re losing the challenge. She just did a runner that goes beside her bed and brought the dirt canister out for me to see. It was full. The old machine barely showed anything after we did that same rug in the past. She’s not doing the test this morning, just trying to find some clean rugs.

That Dyson, especially the model that is designed to pick up animal hair, is an expensive machine, but after only a very short time and use we’re already thinking it was worth every penny. WG suggested that if we vacuum just a little more often for a few days, we should have the rugs mighty clean.

Change. Democrat presumptive Presidential nominee Barack Obama says we need change in America. Before the general elections two years ago, the Democrats were saying that change was needed then, too. And the voters gave them that change and elected them to be the majority party in both the House and Senate.

I received one of those e-mail messages that get passed around the other day. I’m sure you probably got it too, but it does raise some interesting questions. Naturally, these letters rarely come with a source to cite for the statistics, but they are interesting to read. Keep in mind the laws and money issues are in the hands of Congress. The Democrats love to bash President Bush so they can attempt to avoid taking any credit for today.

That e-mail pointed out some fascinating facts, but again the source cannot be verified. For example, do you remember how much you were paying for gasoline two years ago before the Democrats took control of Congress? How much are you paying today? I passed a gas station this morning advertising $3.66/gal. Not too long ago, the price was well over $4.15. Two years ago, gas was under $2.20/gal.

Do you remember what your home was worth just two years ago? What’s it worth today? There has been a 10% increase in unemployment in since we got our last “change” two years ago. And the Dow Jones has plummeted in the same time period. Two years ago we were travelling all over America and worldwide. Many people today are foregoing travel to save money for the winter heating bills.

But let’s bash President Bush and the Republicans. The Democrats have been telling us for almost eight years, probably a lot longer than that, how evil and crooked the leaders were. There’s a saying about repeating a story long enough and often enough people begin to believe it. The Democrats did just that and got the change they said we needed.

We’ll offer some thoughts on this and related topics as we move toward that eventful November election. In the meantime, next week’s Democrat convention has the earmarks of being a fun time. The Clintons have a movie to show Tuesday, Hillary will give a major address Wednesday, and Bill will control the talk Thursday. I wonder where Obama fits in. Oh, and Hillary’s name will be placed in nomination. Now that could be interesting.

I shudder thinking about what’s in store for us with the next “change.” Maybe my new vacuum cleaner can suck that up, too.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sleeping and the old mind

Now that was a night for sleeping! The cool breezes began to blow out the remnants of humidity and the temperatures were turning cooler when bedtime had arrived. And all that fresh, cool air made the bedroom perfect for getting a good night’s sleep. It did, however, have one downer: I slept. Many times at night I toss and turn a little with my swirling mind trying to do little things like reliving events of the day or planning what will come the next.

Like writing this. I slept last night so I didn’t get a lot of time to think about today’s topic. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. That sleep was wonderful. So let’s see what happens here this morning.

The Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, is now out of the pool round. The sixteen teams are down to eight, four each from the American series and the World group. The semi-finals are today and tomorrow with the divisional championship games Saturday followed by the Little League World Championship day Sunday. Friday is a day off for the kids, officially a weather make-up day.

A funny thing happened at the LL game last night. Maryland tied Louisiana for a pool berth in the semis. The Mid Atlantic team beat the Southwest champs and both ended up 2-1 in the pool. But because of the tie breaker, and I’m not sure how it works as it’s based on defense, not offense, Maryland had to score 12 runs to win the spot. They had scored six by the 5th inning of the six inning game. LL has a 10 run rule…leading by 10 after 4, game over.

Coach called the players around him and said they wanted to score only three runs in that inning because if they got to 10, the game would be over and they couldn’t get to 12. He said they’d work on the other three in the 6th.

“Ahhh, Coach,” interrupted a young player, “if we don’t score all 12 won’t the game be over after the top of the sixth anyway because we’ll be ahead and won’t get to play our half of the inning?”

“Oh, great point,” exclaimed the coach. “Let’s get out there and score those runs.” They didn’t, but they did win the game.

The Democrat National Convention gets underway next week. It is expected that Sen. Barack Obama will be nominated as that party’s Presidential candidate. There’ll be lots of pomp during the convention and party leaders will be trying to rally their troops to elect a lot of Democrats in November. There’ll be lots of speeches which will give lots of promises that will never be fulfilled. I’d say there’s at least a good chance I won’t be watching it.

Then comes the Republican National Convention. The only changes I’d made from the above paragraph would be to substitute Sen. John McCain for Obama and Republican for Democrat throughout. The rest of it is pretty accurate from my way of thinking.

In less than two weeks, what I consider to be the real beginning of the campaigns for November elections arrives. I still date Labor Day as that beginning, even though the campaigns for national offices have been going on for a couple of years. It is on Labor Day when local candidates will begin to come to the forefront, even though we have seen some lawn signs out already. Remember when the day was for workers to gather for celebration? Politicians used that opportunity to begin making their pitches.

One of my big questions is: Will Tom Allen and the other Democrats finally realize that Pres. Bush isn’t running for anything? I guess it’s nice to have a lame duck President to bash since they apparently have no real plans or ideas of their own to solve the perceived problems of the United States. Another question I have, and unfortunately I believe I know the answer, is will Mainers realize just how bad the current administration has made the state’s economy and costs of living and make changes?

I’ve been watching the morning news this morning and another question just popped into my head. Will the national news media be able to survive after the elections when it just might have to find something else to report?

See? Sleep is a wondrous thing and does an old body a great service. But it also deprives the old mind of serious thinking time.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


We have some passing clouds this morning and there’s a threat of the possibility of a few showers, but once this little nuisance passes by we’re told we’re in for a super week of great weather. I sure hope so.

Wife Gator and Dog are now outside doing some work on the gardens. Weeding and the like were ignored during the constant threat of and actual rain we’ve been having this month. I think WG wants to get caught up. Dog, of course, must be wherever WG is.

I know advertisers spend millions of dollars to get their messages out. There are a lot of employees of media organizations to depend on that revenue for a living. To be honest, advertising has affected some of the things I’ve bought over the years. I couldn’t tell you how many times WG and I have thought of buying something, seen or heard an ad, and had our minds made up. There have been times when advertising has influenced us to buy something we didn’t even know we needed, too.

There comes a time, however, when an advertisement is repeated so often and for so long that it totally loses its effectiveness with me. This, of course, is in the TV advertising. I can simply and easily turn the page in print media or just shut out an ad on the radio. I could shut out the ads on TV as well, except it’s much more difficult as with today’s big and wide screens the ad is just blaring at you.

There’s a certain law firm that I would never call. I wouldn’t care how bad my meso-whatever is or if I were on my death bed. I’m so sick of that ad on TV I change stations every time I see it. Once changed, I rarely go back. If I ever needed a law firm for any purpose, that law firm would be the last I’d call. I hate that ad!

I’d bet that advertising agencies can cite figures one right after another about the effectiveness of the saturation ads. Saturation ads have no effect on me except to cause me to stay away from the company or service being advertised. Chances of my going back to school at my age are less than slim, but I wouldn’t even consider one local area school. Every time it advertises, I silently wish Jack Dimbulb would trip.

How much advertising money does that work/card/vote group have urging me to call and ask one of our politicians why he opposes secret union ballots? The ads were sort of fun the first 50 times they were shown. But now they’re really wearing thin. I won’t be calling the candidate, but I won’t be voting for him, either. I have yet to hear about anything he’s done for Maine.

I heard on the news this morning that the Portland City Council has authorized a contract with a company to redevelop that city’s major pier. I’m not a Portland taxpayer; but if I were, there are a couple of questions I’d be asking. Like, why doesn’t the project begin construction before 2011 and why a major component, a mega pier, was eliminated. I’d also ask why a multi-million dollar project to construct housing, businesses, etc., around the pier will be rent free for 20 years? If funding is a reason, then I’d ask why the other company bidding on the project didn’t get it since it already had funding?

And in Scarborough the sham of a new city center sponsored by a race track is underway. Under the guise of creating “millions and millions” of dollars in tax revenue, possibly enough to pay the entire school budget, for the town, the race track wants to establish slot machine and possibly other forms of gambling to go along with its already establish horse racing. All the promises it is making are simply attempting to hide the real reason behind the effort. Casinos, or more properly called racinos, have been voted down twice by Scarborough voters.

WG just came in. One of those threats of a shower has come to pass.


Monday, August 18, 2008

A Human Marvel!

What a glorious weekend we just had! There was a little glitch in that beauty Saturday evening, but for the most part the sun shined and the temperatures were rather pleasant. That glitch Saturday evening was a rather robust thunderstorm which rolled through here with lots of noise and its fair share of rain. The rest of the weekend daytime was filled with sunshine and we haven’t had that kind of a weekend for quite some time.

It would appear that we might get some rain tonight into early tomorrow morning, but for the most part this week has all the makings of being a really nice one. Those lucky people who chose this week for their vacations have chosen what appears to be a good one. Like Maine weather throughout the summer, though, there is a little potential problem at the other end of the week. It seems there’s this little storm named Fay heading for the U.S. and, although we probably won’t get the brunt of it, we could get some rough weather over next weekend.

I broke my own personal rule a little this weekend and did watch some of the Olympic coverage replays. The swimming whetted my interested as it did for many worldwide. As I’d bet everyone on this earth knows by now, Michael Phelps set a new, and under current rules, unbeatable record of 8 gold medals. He had a little help from his friends and a lot of help from his teammates on three relay events. When his team won the final event, a medley (one swimmer each doing the back, breast, butterfly, free strokes) relay, the first words I saw out of Phelps’ mouth were at his teammates, “Thank you!”

Phelps also now holds more Olympic medals through several appearances than any other Olympian in any sport.

Virtually every record holder in any sport will tell you that records are made to give those that follow an incentive to do the best possible. They are made to be broken. I’m proud that my son was a record holder in his sport. Many years after he set them, I had to write one weekend that his last one was then broken. He wrote back that’s what it was for and he was pleased that someone else had set the bar. That someone else, incidentally, was a young swimmer by the name of Ian Crocker. There’s more to that story, but that’s for another time.

For you who may not have picked it up, the reason Phelps’ eight gold medal records can’t be broken, only tied if someone does it again down the road, is because swimmers can only compete in five individual and three relay events in the Olympics. That would have to be changed for anyone to break Phelps’ record.

Another part of his record that won’t be overshadowed was his demeanor throughout the entire week. He was a class act, never assuming he’d accomplish the goal he had set and knowing it would only be done by hard work both by himself and his teammates. The reason he was the darling of the world was because he was Michael Phelps and not an arrogant superman.

Just a little in Phelps’ shadow was another American swimmer. Dara Torres is a 41-year-old marvel. She had qualified for the Olympics in the freestyle. Dara lost a Gold medal by just one-hundredth of a second, the smallest margin possible. But, also competing in two relay races, she ended up with three Silvers and that brought her overall total to a dozen. Her trip to the Olympics also had grabbed the hearts of people everywhere. Not all 41-year-olds who just had a baby two years ago can swim at that level with the youngsters.

Wife Gator and I also watched some fencing. After the gold had been claimed, we looked at each other and mutually wondered what that was all about? What just happened?

WG enjoyed a little bit of the equestrian events and I watched a few minutes of basketball; but when the final sporting event was seen, I had watched a lot more Little League Baseball World Series action from Williamsport, PA.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

The weekend is upon us!

At last it looks like we’ll have a pretty nice weekend. There are some potential showers and thunder showers possible in some areas Saturday, but the weather forecast generally looks like the day will be nice. And then Sunday looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day. This is a weekend that will allow some much needed outside chores for people who do outside chores to be accomplished. I’d be surprised if beach areas aren’t pretty crowded, too.

We are expecting Daughter Gator and her pup to be visiting both days. On Saturday she’s coming for lunch. Her request: Homemade Italian sandwiches, one of my culinary specialties. Sunday will be a grilling day. Steaks, possibly a salad, some French fries and maybe some of my world famous onion rings.

I don’t have to mow this weekend as that task was completed for this cycle Thursday. But I will be outside for a couple of chores. DG will help me pressure wash the tractor and the walk behind mower. The tractor wheels need a special cleaning. The grass was so high Thursday that during my pre-mow cleanup I missed a couple of souvenirs Dog had left behind. My wheels found them.

My other outdoor project has been to secure a couple wires that lead from my weather station transmitter to the rain gauge and the anemometer. The rain gauge is mounted on the railing on my deck and I began the secure project during the week. Almost to the end I ran out of wiring staples. A trip to a couple of hardware stores indicated that my style was so outdated that staples were no longer available. As happens quite often when I have a problem, my Fearless Friend came to the rescue.

He brought his wiring stapler over Friday and we completed securing the wire. He was kind enough to leave the device with me so I’d have it if we needed to secure the wind wire. That is the project DG will help me with Saturday and those two remote devices will be secure. I’ve been just a little surprised they had been able to withstand the wind and other weather for over a year and a half. However, we recently moved the anemometer to the peak of the roof and since then I believe it has been more accurate. But because of its new location, the wires needed securing.

A family day is about all that’s on the agenda for Sunday. I’m sure DG and WG will look over their vegetable gardens. The weather has done a lot of damage to them, although to our surprise the tomatoes have come back very well. The tomato plants are now turning out a lot more than we’ll be able to effectively use. In fact, DG has already taken some to the “help yourself” table where she works.

We got one, count ‘em, one summer squash. There were four or five little cucumbers and the first picking of beans resulted in a bountiful supply. We did have two meals of beet greens and Swiss chard. But most of both gardens succumbed to the weather. However, along with the revival of the tomatoes, the second planting of beans is blossoming and some tiny beans are beginning to show. We have hope for some more of those, also.

Those of you who follow this little attempt at ranting, raving, and just stuff know I love youth sports. The Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, began Friday, although it did have some weather problems. I think it’s six games on the television (ESPN and ABC) Saturday and five on Sunday. I probably won’t make all of all the games, but I’ll see my share. New England (Connecticut All-Stars) lost their first game.

And speaking of Sports, Portland’s Ian Crocker was fourth in his signature swimming event Friday night as Michael Phelps won the 100-meter butterfly. FF and I had been discussing Crocker’s chances when he was here Friday. We had agreed that after seeing how out of shape he appeared to be following his semi-final race that Crocker would be a fourth, possibly a fifth, place finisher. We’re happy for Phelps, who now has more Olympic medals than any previous American Olympian, but a little sad for the local boy.

No political stuff this weekend. Weekends are for family enjoyment and family get-togethers. Especially in the summer time. And the sun shining outside my window right now hints this is going to be a good one. I hope you enjoy yours, and we’ll be back on Monday.


Friday, August 15, 2008

One solution to energy problem

Yesterday, I wrote about what I called voodoo economics and admitted freely that I’m not an economist and can only discuss what common sense is to me. There’s another topic that my expertise in is also limited to what makes sense to me. I suspect that there are many of us who are not “experts” on most topics but are pretty well versed on how those topics affect us.

Today, I have another. Energy. Specifically gasoline and heating oil. At least some 50 years ago I did have a college course in economics. It didn’t help me much, but I could say I formed my opinion of something. If I ever had a course in energy, I’d have to say it didn’t make a very lasting impression on me. So today I embark on, what else? What I consider some energy common sense.

People want to blame President Bush and his “oil company friends” for the extremely high cost of energy in the United States. What is rarely pointed out is that before the Democrats took control of Congress in Washington, the price for gas and oil was half of what it is today. In just two years of their “leadership” look what has happened to those prices. Look what has happened to the price of virtually everything else as a result of those rising prices.

A few weeks ago, President Bush halted the presidential ban on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Now that didn’t trigger immediate work. Congress has its own ban and the Congressional Democrat leadership says it will not be lifted.

But now the prices for gas and oil are declining. And all we’ve seen is the relaxing of one ban, but that, apparently, since there’s no other evidence of anything, has been the catalyst for the producing countries to drop their prices. After all, an independent United States could cost them billions of dollars. I believe becoming independent of the foreign oil is a great thing. The environmentalists and the Democrats believe…well, I’m not sure what they believe. I suppose they’d tell you they’re protecting the planet. From what? Imminent destruction? Or is their way of being sure Americans do not have any control over their own destiny?

One argument I hear is that drilling our oil is just a short term solution. We need, I’m told, to develop an energy plan for the future. Golly, I can’t argue with that. We certainly do. That plan represents a long term goal. Some interesting cars drove through our area a few days ago. They were powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. Once that is perfected, and that was projected to be several years down the road, think of all the inventions and retrofitting that will be needed to make that fuel cell a viable use.

That takes many years. In fact, just about all, if not all, ways for us to develop a new energy process will require an equal amount of time for the same reason. Creating new sources of energy isn’t as simple as snapping fingers. There much research, development of both the source and the “things,” whatever they may be, to be able to use that new source.

I probably could prattle on, but you get my idea.

Believe it or not, the best energy plan the government could create and the one that would bring results the fastest, the most efficient, and the most cost effective, would be a plan that would take government completely out of the picture. Stop creating the restrictions that don’t encourage development. Eliminate the restrictions already on the books. Let the business world compete --- wow! “Compete.” What a word! --- to develop those resources that would bring about energy independence.

My God! All those profits. The rich would just get richer. Yes, that’s probably true. But it was all those profits and the rich getting richer that have developed us as a powerful, great nation where virtually anyone who wants to work, can. Who wants to get ahead, can. Who wants to be a success, can.

What has government contributed? Simple answer: A society that has become extremely dependent on the handout, the doing nothing for everything, the lack of ambition, and the falling behind other industrial countries in the world. We are developing a government that has to provide everything for everyone. These governments have been created many, many times in the past. We don’t teach real history anymore so I can’t suggest you just look at it and see where we are headed.

One place we’re heading is into a weekend. One of my major weekend chores was completed yesterday. I mowed my lawn. I still have just a wee bit of ambition.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

VooDoo Economics

I can’t believe just how good a full day of low humidity, pleasant temperatures, and a little breeze can make one feel. That’s the way it was yesterday. I think I had more ambition yesterday than I’ve had on just about every other day for the last month or more.

When I posted yesterday, I indicated I had a couple of errands to complete. I did my errands, but I wouldn’t say they were very successful. I wanted to see about changing my cell phones as I’ve passed the two year mark on my “new every two” plan. Actually, I passed it about three years ago but found out I could still swap the phones. After checking at the phone store and then coming home and going one line for more checking, the process became rather complicated. I still have my old phone.

I needed to make a hardware purchase. It was nothing serious, just a box of wiring staples to affix a wire to my deck. I couldn’t find the ones that fit my ancient staple gun. That project is now on hold, but, as happens quite frequently, my Fearless Friends is coming to the rescue. He’ll be in the neighborhood tomorrow and will bring his device for me to use. I could have bought a new gun that takes modern staples, but I only need to drive about 4. I had completed most of the project before I used my last staple over the weekend.

The best part of it all was neither setback set me back. Because of the great weather, I remained more or less upbeat. I am an old curmudgeon so “upbeat” has many differing definitions.

As you know, I read a mainly political forum daily. One of the discussions on that site is about the change in the calculations of our tax burden in this state. It was also a topic of discussion this morning on a morning radio/TV talk show.

I haven’t studied economics except for one class my freshman year in college, and that was more than a couple of years ago. So I don’t pretend to understand all the ins and outs of economic calculations. What I do know is what I mentioned several days ago. Before the Tax Foundation changed the way it calculated tax standings, Maine ranked #1 or #2 with about 14% of our income going to state and local taxes.

Just out of curiosity I calculated my tax to income percentage and came out with about 14%. And I only used for taxes those taxes and fees that came to mind. I probably left out a whole lot of others, especially fees. I consider any payment to the government that goes into the general fund for general use is a tax and calling it a fee is only an attempt to fool the public. One example of a fee/tax is the fee you pay to register your car.

That 14% was right in line with what the Tax Foundation said we were paying. Then it changed the way it did its calculation and dropped us all the way down to around 10%. It took out, among other things, property taxes people in other states who own property in Maine and live here part time from the state’s burden.

Now bear in mind, I don’t understand this economics business, only what is common sense to me. Common sense tells me that if what I pay to the state is part of the state’s overall income, if that income is lowered by an accounting trick, and my taxes aren’t lowered, then I’m actually paying a higher percentage, not a lower one. In any case my simple, logical reasoning shows my real burden has remained at 14%.

I think until I do some more studying on this situation, I can only consider the whole thing as voodoo economics.

And now, a question: Who is Bob Barr?


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Not a lot of excitement today!

It’s a Wednesday. Now that should tell you something. In case you missed it, I’m searching for a topic for today. I’m nowhere near one. I’ve mentioned the weather so much that it has become too much lately. You know most of how I feel about various political topics. You know I’m not happy with the Democrat controlled State Legislature or Democrat controlled do-nothing Congress. I hope you realize I’m not particularly happy with our President, either.

Wife Gator has gone to her three-day-a-week part time job so Dog and I are, as usual on Wednesdays, left alone to fend for ourselves. Dog has already taken up her perch on the breezeway where she can watch the world pass by. And since we have only one neighbor we can see and our house is quite a distance from the street and any passing cars, it’s a mighty small world for Dog to monitor.

Dog has three major sources of excitement. First there’s the occasional squirrel. As soon as she spots one, she’ll come racing to the front door to be let out. All the “visitors” in our yard know exactly the boundary the dog has because of the Invisible fence. When Dog is in, the other animals, including a homeless cat which generally stays a long way outside the zone, will pass the yard easily. But as soon as Dog gets outside, there’s a mad dash for the Fence line and then they just sit on the other side and dare Dog to try to get them.

Dog always lets us know when a people visitor comes into our yard or our neighbor’s yard. She races around barking her warnings. But then when people get out of their vehicles, she runs to them with a huge smile on her face. A dog’s smile very closely resembles a vicious snarl. Once most people recognize her as a Golden Retriever, they ease back and just laugh. Goldens are known for their friendliness and many of them do smile. So Dog races up to visitors and pees her welcome. She’s particularly fond of my Fearless Friend’s shoes.

I do have a couple of errands to do if the mood strikes. I have a couple of wires from components of my weather station that have been blowing in the breeze for a while. When the roofer was here a few weeks back, he was kind enough to move my wind thingy from the back deck to the roof, where it belongs. It works beautifully up there, but now I have to secure the wire that connects it to the transmitter. That’s not a hard task, but I have to make a trip to the hardware place to get a couple of sticky anchors to put on the siding to hold that wire.

The rain gauge remains on a rail on the deck. I began to secure its wire along the rail with wire staples, but ran out so a box of them is also on the shopping list. As I said, no big deal for either part of that project except I’ve got to get the ambition to make the trip.

My six year old cell phone is just a little bit behind the technological times. About all it does is allow me to talk. I rarely use it and got a cell phone back when I had my heart “event.” Have you ever noticed that the medical profession and people who’ve had a heart attack refer to it as an “event” as if that makes it O.K.? I guess it sounds more politically correct. I got the cell phone so I could have instant communication if another emergency came along while away from home.

I’m amazed at how much I’ve used it since I got it and how important it is to my life. I think I’ve averaged about a minute and a half a month. The exception to that was when Wife Gator and I have taken our national trips. We could use the phone to keep in touch with our daughter without extra charges. I do not need a plan with rollover minutes.

My old phone predates camera phones and I think I want one. I’m not sure what I’d do with it, but I’m eligible for a free phone upgrade so I’ve been doing some research into a camera phone. I’ve picked three or four from a list on the provider’s internet site but want to see them in person before I narrow it down to one. So, if I end up doing the hardware errand today, I’ll stop by the phone store and look them over. If indeed the free upgrade is free, I may end up with a new camera phone.

See? I wasn’t lying in the beginning. This is just one of those days. And I hope yours is a great one.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Now this is a crummy day!

This day didn’t start out very nicely. It was pouring rain when we got up this morning and the weather radar was ominous as to what we would get. By 6:30, we were already recording a half inch of rain in our yard. But I wasn’t daunted. I should have been. I headed out at my normal time to Senior Fitness.

I got soaked! I can get to my car directly from my house without having to venture into the weather. But that’s not the case in South Portland where my group meets. I had to get from the car to the building and I’ll bet you can’t guess who left his umbrella home. I thought it was in the car. I should have checked but instead I got wet heading into the building.

Doing the things I have to do there wasn’t pleasant. I could have skipped the session today, as some of us did, but I have this dumb philosophy that after that first “skip,” finding excuses not to go get easier and easier. Don’t get me wrong. I do stay home in the winter time when there’s snow or ice on the ground and walking is dangerous. If I fall, something will break. That’s not just an excuse I’ve made up; it’s a simple fact of my life due to certain diseases I have. It’s not the driving that bothers me in the winter but rather it’s walking. So I didn’t miss my session today.

But then I had to get back to the car.

A shower and a soft towel and I’m now dry once again. But I’d guess it’s safe to say there’ll be no outdoor work for today. The morning weather guy said the rains will stop and we could get a little sun which will just heat up the air and stir up some more possible thunder showers. This isn’t looking like a good day.

Wife Gator is home today but she has about as much ambition as her chair. I get the impression from watching her and talking with her there isn’t going to be much activity taking place around here today. I can’t blame her. She does hold a part time job so today she’s taking it easy. She doesn’t do that very often so I’m on her side today.

Turning briefly to the news of the day: The Bangor Daily News is reporting this morning that Gov. Baldacci wants to propose a decrease in the income tax rates in the next legislative session. The details of the proposal are not ready as the Governor says there are lots of elements that have to be discussed. Among them is the next budget which isn’t yet ready. He needs to know how any budget cuts will affect the state’s income needs.

I see one thing as being pretty sure: whatever changes the state makes in the income tax rates will simply translate into raises in other taxes or tax rates. Getting less money and making real meaningful cuts in the state’s budget, especially needed changes in the Department of Health and Human Services, probably will not happen.

I remember just a few weeks ago when the state was faced with a revenue shortfall. It didn’t make any meaningful budget cuts. It promised no new taxes. Then major tax increases took place (A people’s veto will go to the voters in November about one of them.) and fees increased dramatically. And no matter what you want to call it, a fee imposed by the government for its general fund is in reality a tax. Just next month fees for registering a car, using a vanity plate, and getting a title for a car will go up more than 40%. That’s just one example of “no tax increase” by the state government.

But I guess it’s a good thing if the rates for income taxes change and we are able to keep more money for our own spending. At least we can make decisions on which items we will choose to send our money to the state.

And now we just crossed an inch of rain in this storm and this day isn’t yet over. The rain continues to fall and the weather radar indicates the end is still several hours off. So I guess it’s a good day just to try to stay dry. I hope you succeed.

It's now shortly after noon and I thought I might update this a bit and tell you the sun is now least for a while.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Our lower? tax burden!

I’m not sure it was true everywhere in Maine, but we here on the South Side of Route 1 had a mostly sunny weekend. It rained not at all either day at my home, but the overnight fog Saturday night into Sunday left my yard rather wet. I was fortunate that I got the mowing accomplished Saturday afternoon. Our daughter was here for most of Sunday and she was able, finally, to fulfill a Father’s Day present: she washed and waxed my car. Then she went on to do her mother’s and her cars.

We watched some black clouds pass overhead a couple of times and we all felt rain was imminent; but just as fast as they came, the clouds dissipated and we remained in sunshine. I was awakened overnight by some very distant thunder. I saw on the television that some shower activity did pass through parts of Southern Maine, but not at my house. I guess we might get some rain before this day is over.

People connected with Maine government were giddy over the weekend as last Friday the Tax Foundation announced that a new way to calculate the tax burden and the new system dropped Maine from first or second in the country to 15th. This, of course, will give our Democrat legislators a good reason now to raise taxes.

Because I wanted to share in the windfall, I did some rough calculations on my own tax burden. Last Thursday, my ratio of taxes to my retirement income was about 14.2 percent for state and local taxes. Surprisingly to me, that was just about where the Tax Foundation had put it. So yesterday, since the group had changed its methodology and lowered our burden, I recalculated. Guess what? My tax burden was now just about 14.2 percent.

I feel so much better with the new calculations. Of course the Tax Foundation’s credibility has fallen just a bit in my estimation. I’ll bet that has them chewing the Pepcid.

Oh! Yes! I should also point out that our tax burden is about to rise just a little. Beginning Sept. 1 the cost of your license plates will go up 40% to $35. If you happen to be one of the 100-thousand Mainers with a vanity plate, you’ll pay an additional 67% or $25. That’s an additional $10 for each. If you buy a car, title fees will also increase by $10. The state says the increase is needed to pay for road and bridge repair. Haven’t we passed bonds a couple of times in the last two years for those repairs? Where’s that money?

Our thoughtful state is allowing anyone who needs to renew in September tp do so in August this year to avoid the increase this year.

I wouldn’t want to drive a car with all the safety equipment that NASCAR cars have, but they sure are impressive in a crash. In yesterday’s road course crash involving several cars with just a few laps remaining, one of the cars was unbelievably punished. It was hit several times, spun violently, and bounced off the wall a couple of times. There wasn’t much left of it when it was over. Actually several cars were heavily damaged in the crash. But in spite of all that carnage, no one was seriously hurt. Several were taken to a care center but then treated and released. I’d hate to think what my body would look like if my old Toyota had gone through all that at race car speeds. I’m impressed with those race car designs.

And a final note for this Monday: The Red Sox are in desperate need for some pitching.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

A memory stirred, and for the last time.

My goodness. As I sit in my den this Saturday morning, the sun is shining. It’s been a long time since we’ve had good sunshine. I understand from the Weather Channel, since we have no local morning news, that there is another storm heading our way, though, for later. As it stands right now, though, it’s beautiful outside and Sunday should be really good day, too. In any event, another weekend is underway.

I did watch several minutes off and on of the Olympics Opening Friday night. It was intermittent, however, as I mainly watched a Little League Regional Championship game from Florida. More on that in a moment. During inning breaks, I switched over to the Olympics because even as much as I dislike watching most of the games, the Opening Ceremonies are usually quite spectacular. Since the ones in Beijing were actually held hours before the telecast, there had been many reports that they lived up to expectations.

So I watched at Little League inning breaks. I must admit that the effects displayed were just as spectacular as the early reports had indicated. The colors and lighting of the costumes were like none I recall ever seeing before. The ball of the World with the people going around was beautiful. And the performers dancing in the air was mind boggling. The Opening Ceremonies lived up to all expectations. But I still preferred the kids playing baseball.

The Little League game was a great memory maker for me. I umpired my first baseball game in the park in which last night’s Southeast Regional Championship was held. That ballpark is diagonally by one block across from my parent’s former home in Gulfport. It hasn’t changed much since I was there. It wasn’t until the mid 1960s, long after I had moved back to Maine from Florida, that it became the home of the SE Regionals and has continued that role every year since. But last night was its last. The regional games will be moved to another venue next season.

Umpiring came naturally, I guess. My father had been an umpire for more years than I could remember back then. I used to go to his games just to watch. I never played baseball, but the role of the umpire was indelibly ingrained in me. When he retired in Maine and moved to Gulfport, which for you non-Florida geographically knowledgeable folk, is just outside the south end of St. Petersburg, he volunteered to umpire at the park which we could see from our front window.

I was with him at the park one night when the other umpire was unable to work. My dad had a brief discussion with the LL officials there and a new umpire was born. It was a good but short-lived time. My education and social life sort of got in the way. After all, I was still in my late teens. I did return to umpiring in Maine, and again, it was as a volunteer in Little League. Eventually I moved on to working other games.

I’ve watched the Southeast Regional LL championships for the past few years on ESPN, not out of a loyalty for the kids in the region but because the park stirred up memories of my time in Florida. When I heard the announcer say last night that it would be the last time the regional championships would be held in Gulfport, I must admit I was just a wee bit saddened as another part of my life was ending. That won’t change my love for Little League and youth sports, though. I’ll be following this road to Williamsport and the Little League World Series forever. And for that, we thank NESN, ESPN, and ABC.

I hope those of you who enjoy the Olympics have a great time watching. And for football and Red Sox fans, you too enjoy your games this weekend. Me? I’ll be watching Little League. See you Monday.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Just a gentle Friday

Ho-Hum! That’s all the weather is worth! On the other hand, a tidy little thunder shower just rolled through the area.

I mentioned yesterday that Wife Gator and I were going shopping for a new vacuum cleaner. I had said I would like the new machine to be in the fifty dollar range but I thought she had something else in mind. I lost. We did find a new machine and it did cost just a bit more than $50.

The Olympics begin today. Big Yawn for me. I do like sports, but I dislike immensely the television coverage of the Olympics. I have nothing to back my feelings, but it seems to me that for every minute of competition the television broadcasts 30 minutes of drivel. If Ian Crocker should be swimming during our time, I might watch him. But if the swimming is when I’m sleeping, I’ll glance at the results in the morning. Then there’s no need to watch.

That’s another major complaint I have about the games. Because they’re in the other side of the world this year, most of the competition will be held while I’m sleeping. I’ll know the results of anything I even remotely care about shortly after I arise, so I won’t then go back and watch an event I already know the results.

The possible exception might be watching Crocker swim. When I was in cardio rehab a few years back, the director of the facility was Crocker’s mother. She may still be the director, I don’t know, but that brought the young man a little closer to personal. I never did meet him, though. There are, of course, some other Mainers competing in China and I might watch them, too; but I think it’s safe to say that the huge majority of the games won’t reach my TV.

Last night was a rough one. WG went to bed early so I was faced with a major decision. Watch Little League Baseball, the Patriots pre-season football game, or a different pre-season game. Youth sports are my favorite. I like the innocence of the young people showing off their best. Football is my second favorite, especially college football, but the NFL is right up there. I think my favorite sport of all, however, is baseball. Except baseball is 100% better when one is actually at the game than it is on TV. You miss at least half the game on TV because you can’t see all the little things going on at every position.

Last night I watched the New England semi-final as New Hampshire advanced to the regional game Saturday against Connecticut. Earlier, Connecticut had ripped Vermont. Then I watched a little of the Patriots’ game. ‘Nuff said about that game. It was back to Little League at 9 when I saw a little of the Texas/Louisiana regional championship. In Little League, the regional champions all head for Williamsport, PA, for the Little League World Series.

And while we’re at it, we should give great credit to the Westbrook Babe Ruth team heading for Arkansas for the Babe Ruth World Championships. Most of these Westbrook kids just a couple or three years ago were playing in Williamsport for the LL title. They did an excellent job there so we’re wishing them even better results in Arkansas.

And finally today, the non-profit Tax Foundation has changed its methodology of determining the tax burden on residents of the states. Until the change, it said Maine was ranked as the second highest. With the new way of doing it, Maine is now down around 15th. Apparently nothing has changed except the way the group does its calculations. I wonder just how accurate they can be under any circumstances now since they apparently can simply make a few changes and arrive at new figures. I wish I could do that with my budget. I just might be very rich.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Slot machines proposed for Scarborough

My body is beginning to rebel. I’m home now from my morning Senior Fitness routine at physical therapy center in South Portland. I’m satisfied with the workout but all this crummy weather we’ve been having is really affecting my body.

Speaking of the weather, well, let’s not. It’s not worth a comment.

The Town of Scarborough officials will be publicly examining a new proposal for slot machines in the town. The town’s voters have rejected slots at Scarborough Downs twice in spite of a state law that allows them at harness racing tracks. Now Scarborough Downs, along with the developer of Cabela’s outdoor store, is back with a new twist. They want to turn Scarborough Downs into a rather large retail center and create a town center. Of course, slot machines are an integral part of the proposal.

A story in this morning’s Portland Press Herald and on the newspaper’s website says the proposal would build a new road between Payne Road and U.S. Route 1. It would be called “Main Street.” It would include shops near the already under construction Cabela’s shopping area nearby. The plan hints that land would be donated to the town for a community center or a new public safety building.

The closest area that could be called a Town Center now would be the Oak Hill section near the intersection of U.S. Route 1 and Route 114 (Gorham Road). Both the Town Hall and public safety building are located there along with the high school, a middle school, and an elementary school. It’s the home of the Town Library, several eating places, and some shopping centers. The town’s new public park is also located there.

But Scarborough Downs wants slot machines and they will be making a public pitch along with the technical one to Town officials over the next few months. There is a rather large group of Scarborough citizens, including former Town Council members, who will be opposing the development. I’d think it could be a messy campaign. Personally, I hope the opponents win again. I have visited one or two casinos but I’m not a gambler. When Wife Gator and I took one of our trips around the country, we did visit a couple casinos but the only gambling we did was with one roll of quarters. When it was gone, the gambling ended.

Another topic, this one concerning student drinking and the roles of coaches in Portland, is on the lips of many people. Apparently following the high school state championship baseball game last June, some students and coaches attended a party during which alcohol was available. As a result, three assistant coaches have been fired. Disciplinary action for the students either has not yet been revealed or has not yet been taken.

I wasn’t there and have no knowledge except that which I read about the incident, but if it is all true the coaches should have been fired. I can’t imagine high school personnel allowing drinking by the school’s students at a victory party. The person who supplied the alcohol should be punished as well and in Maine, that could be a prison term or fine. If it turns out to be one of those assistant coaches, then it should be both.

Normally I’d say that we should wait until all the facts are known before we condemn anyone. After all, I do believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty. When I read of public condemnations such as this, or worse, I always ask how I’d feel if it were a member of my family. I’d want the best lawyer he could afford to be defending him and I’d not let people around me condemn the individual until a conviction were made.

But in this case, the students who were at the party, as the young impetuous ones are wont to do, published photos of the party on the Internet in popular teen social sites. Teens, you see, rarely think of future consequences when they make decisions. As a result of complaints from parents and other teens authorities say their investigation has or has seen photos that clearly show the three assistant coaches were at the party. And for that they are paying a huge penalty.

WG has decided it’s time to give up the vacuum cleaner ghost. Our 15-year-old machine is on its last legs. It’s been on those legs for several years. Most of the time it just waves at dirt as it passes it by when we’re cleaning. A couple of months ago we took it to a vac repair place. The technicians there did get it working somewhat again, but WG says it has got to go. So today we’re going to visit some places and see if we can find a replacement. I think a $50 machine might do it. Somehow I’m under the impression she’s thinking in grander terms.

More rain is on the way so I hope you’ll stay dry. Hmmm. Staying dry. I wonder if she’d like to go shopping alone. Probably not.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Drilling for Oil

It begins right here ** ** and ends right there. That’s all I’m going to say about today’s weather.

Wife Gator and I had a pleasant day yesterday. We did some shopping and got stocked up a little on some items that the news says are about to rise in prices. Certain paper products were high on the list. We went out to a fast food place for lunch. That usually crowded place was rather lacking in business at noon yesterday. WG tried a clam cake and instantly said she found out why very few (three cars) were there. The clam cake was missing one ingredient. Other similar places we passed on a ride through Scarborough’s Pine Point area were very busy for a Tuesday.

The Republican House of Representatives members in Washington are continuing their protests over the lack of an up or down vote on offshore oil drilling. The House had adjourned Friday morning without taking any vote on drilling. (One unofficial report said it was the vote of a Maine Representative that broke a tie on the adjournment question. Both Maine Democrat Representatives voted to adjourn. Republican Senator Susan Collins, who is seeking re-election in November, had voted against a Senate adjournment, but the Senate adjourned when the House did.)

The episode is turning into an embarrassment for several Democrats nationally who are seeking re-election. Polls have indicated the huge majority of Americans want Congress to act to begin breaking away from foreign dependence on oil. Publicly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who rules the House Democrats with an iron fist, says she not only won’t allow a vote but will introduce an amendment to the budget bill that would extend the current ban another year beyond its scheduled expiration in September.

Privately, according to a report I read on the Drudge Report, she’s telling Democrats up for re-election they may support and even vote for drilling if the no drilling stand is putting their re-election in jeopardy. There is one thing I do admire about the Democrats. They have a loyal solidarity that the Republicans can’t even approach. When the Democrat leadership speaks, the rank and file follows their orders without question. But I digress.

The Democrats do have one point. Many permits for drilling have been issued to oil companies that have not been used. The lawmakers say these should be used first. But oil companies indicate that the cost of exploration in many of those places and the amount of available oil makes them unprofitable. There have been oil fields discovered, all in off-limit places that could support American needs for years, especially long enough for other energy development.

It is true that if drilling began today, it would be several years before the results would show up at American pumps. But as President Bush demonstrated a couple of weeks ago, just the threat of drilling would bring down the price of heating oil and gasoline. When he announced his moratorium on drilling was lifted, gasoline prices were over $4.10 a gallon and even a lot higher in some places. I found prices yesterday at $3.80 a gallon, a 30 cent drop just since the President’s announcement. Looking at prices on the Internet showed some even below $3.70 in other parts of the state.

In June oil companies were charging more than $4.60 a gallon for heating oil. That, too, has dropped. I saw a sign on the back of one truck from a company that deals in cash only below $4.00.

Congressman Allen wants to put more money into the LIHEAP (low income assistance program) fund to help low income Mainers. That’s very nice but that fund is costing all other Mainers more to so they can subsidize the fund. Who is going to help them with the oil bills along with food, taxes, etc.? Certainly not the Maine state government or Congress. Drilling our own oil is just one step in getting energy prices, thus prices for many other goods and services, back closer to a point that people can afford them.

As a side note, I add the country must also get away from the very expensive, cost ineffective ethanol gas program. We should once again get farmers to grow food for human consumption and not fuel for gas consumption. That program is one of the reasons why food prices are rapidly climbing to a point where only staples will be bought.

Gas and oil are only a part of the energy problem. I’ll probably mention others down the line.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More budget woes?

Today we should be getting a weather break. The TV weather guy says we could escape without any showers. I’m not sure just how we’ll react to that. We almost made it yesterday in our part of Maine. We did have sun for much of the day, but I went out once to get a haircut and ran into an 11-drop shower on the way home. Wife Gator also had a few drops when she came from her part time job yesterday afternoon. But some parts of Maine weren’t quite so lucky as showers rotated through much of the state just about all day.

Probably because this morning is pretty nice, my session at Senior Fitness went very well today. The moisture is still in that darned hip, though, and the four exercises I do for it urged me to quit them. Perhaps a weight increase contributed to that, too. I fought through that urge. The ball was a little easier today as I continued to follow the routine the intern showed me last week. That ball is still the hardest thing I do, though. What I did today that was different was keep from bouncing a lot longer. That gave me an extra minute trying to balance on the thing.

I apparently hadn’t done quite enough research yesterday morning into a continuation of the Republican protest over no action on an energy policy. You may recall they stayed in the House for several hours after the Democrats recessed for an August vacation. Then I didn’t hear or read anything over the weekend. But mid morning yesterday, I found a news article that said the protest was continuing in Washington. Republicans had sent out messages asking anyone who could to return to Washington and anyone who couldn’t to get the message out to their constituents.

Since it’s relatively early as I pen this, I’m not sure what’s going on down there today. What I do know is that the Democrat Speaker of the House is dismissing the protest as meaningless. She continues to blame a failed energy policy by President Bush for the energy crisis. Of course her not willing to even try to do anything about it has nothing to do with the situation. She and Apparent Dem. Presidential candidate Obama want the country to use the strategic reserved oil. That would be a smart move. In case of an emergency, such as threats from other nations, this country would have nothing on which to fall back. I think the reserves are in storage for just such a contingency.

Last spring I spent quite a lot of space mentioning what was then a huge revenue shortfall to pay for the last state budget. At the last minute the Legislature made some adjustments and increased some taxes and fees and proclaimed the budget balanced. Then, after we read that the state had ordered the withholding of payment for many state services until this fiscal year, the state then proclaimed a budget surplus. Of course the state’s debt to the medical professions, the retirement system, and others was not addressed, so the state had a surplus. The governor looked good and the news media ignored the obvious.

So with no way to pay for it, the debt was transferred to the current biennium budget with no plans to pay for it. Last week the state itself announced that another revenue shortfall was coming. The breakdown in the economy, the slowdown of sales, the high cost of energy which is causing most people to adjust their spending, growing unemployment, shucks, I could go on and on, are all indicating that the new shortfall will approach four hundred million dollars. At least one Legislator says it could be double that.

The new Legislature which doesn’t even convene until next January will be faced with a huge decision. What, if anything, to cut from the budget or what, if any, taxes will have to be raised or created will take up a lot of time. Again we’ll be asked what we would cut. Again I’ll say we didn’t create the mess, the Democrats in Augusta did.

I’ve been getting mail recently from my representatives in Augusta and they all proclaim what a great job they’ve done while there. They’ll continue to spin the truth as they travel through the district seeking support for the November elections. Have a series of questions ready for them and don’t let them spin. Just a few suggestions: What is your position on the Dirigo Health plan which only supports about 12-thousand people? How can we get Maine’s second highest health care cost more in line with the rest of the nation? Warning on this one: You’ll be told Dirigo is savings tons of money and that we have affordable health care. Truth is our insurance laws are what’s causing us to pay more for insurance than just about every other state.

Another question: Why do we pay welfare benefits beyond the five year federal limit which just about every other state uses as a guideline? There are many, many more and most of them will take a little personal research to get the truths. But after you talk with your representative, then make a decision on how you’ll vote. Don’t support them just because they’re a neighbor and a “good person.” Are you better off because of their legislative decisions?

I might have a rave or a rant or two more as November approaches.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Weather, football, LL, do-nothing rant!

I think one could best describe the weekend that just passed as “Somewhat wild and wooly.” I wish I could say my little spot on the planet was like I’ve said many times this summer, but I can’t. We had some of the worst weather we’ve seen here all summer long. By the time I went to bed last night my rain gauge had recorded nearly two and three-quarters inches of rain this weekend. And this darned weather isn’t over yet. I guess tomorrow is going to be relatively O.K., but then the unsettled stuff remains right through next weekend. At least that’s what the weather folk are saying right now. The weather radar, though, seems to indicate we in southern Maine are relatively clear today, at least for the next several hours.

I hadn’t kept up with the NFL practice sessions, perhaps because the Brett Favre controversy in Green Bay has dominated the football news. I was totally caught off guard last night to find a pre-season Sunday Night Football game on Ch. 6. It was the annual Hall of Fame game from Canton, Ohio. I should have known about it. I’ll blame my missing it on age. I think I’m old enough now for that to work. I didn’t watch the whole game as I never do watch whole night games in any sport. The exception to that might be if the Gators are in a national championship game. But I did enjoy that part of the game I saw. Washington, incidentally, beat the Manning-less Indianapolis.

And one of my favorite sports series is underway. The New England States and Mid-Atlantic States Round Robin Little League championships, already in progress, will be televised on NESN beginning Wednesday at 11 AM. These televised prelims are part of the road to the Little League World Championships later this month. I haven’t checked yet, but I think ESPN carries the games once they get into regional championship rounds. I’ll be watching as many as I can. The newest Red Sox player, Jason Bay, incidentally, played in the Little League World championship series when he was 11 years old.

The Congressional Republicans held their moment of glory last Friday afternoon when many House Republicans remained in the chamber after the Democrats recessed for the month by just one vote. They had not made any headway into developing an energy policy for the U.S. designed to help us break away from foreign dominance. The protesters were generally ignored by the news media, both Friday and through the weekend.

But what have they done since that Friday protest? I haven’t seen any indication they did anything except beat their chests a little Friday and then went home. Have they attempted to energize the Republican base? Have they been on television this weekend protesting the lack of action by the Democrats? Whatever they did was something I must have missed. It turned out to be an opening designed for looks only. It appears the short-lived protest ended almost faster than it began.

Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she would block any and all attempts to allow oil drilling. What about that September expiration date of the congressional ban on drilling? Pelosi says an extension to the ban will be included in the upcoming federal spending/budget bill.

So once again the Democrats are demonstrating they really don’t care about this energy crisis which is causing extreme hardships in just about every nook of the American economy. There are times when I think Americans like the punishment. After all, they will return this do-nothing Congress to power in November.

Of course our Republican Senate candidate, Susan Collins, is working hard for our benefit. She joined two Democrats to sponsor a ban on lighters that look like toys. That, of course, is far more important than working to solve the energy crisis.