Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My "Woe is me" is misplaced

Tuesday has arrived. It’s the first day this week I have to take this weather-beaten body to the senior fitness class. It doesn’t officially begin until 8 o’clock, but this will be completed before I leave today so that Gator Wife and I get a couple errands completed when I get home. So, your guess that today’s exercise session was tough for a body in pain would probably be accurate. If it turns out any differently, I’ll edit this to provide some much better news.

If you think this weather has been rather lousy, your thinking would be correct. Although not a record, yet, the rainfall for this month is way above normal and the temperature average for the month is 18 degrees below normal, just two degrees above the average low.

I really don’t like all this rain we’re having. It certainly isn’t doing GW’s flowers any good. Most all of her tall plants are literally bent right over with the blooms, what’s left of them, just about touching the ground. The lower plants are also showing evidence of what I might best describe as drowning. The new month, which begins tomorrow, will have to take a very sharp turn for many of this year’s flowers to be saved.

Her vegetable gardens are also not getting enough warmth and sunshine. She did create rows that are raised above the ground level with the seeds and seedlings within those mounds so they’ve had just a wee bit of protection from the flowing rivulets of water, but they will have no chance at all for survival if the sun doesn’t come out soon.

And then there’s the lawn.

I realize that the problems we’re facing are not unique. Just about everyone who has flowers or vegetables is facing the same wetness and lack of sunshine and warmth. I saw a TV news program the other day that had a story about farmers. Standing water was present between and among the rows of crops.

On the WCSH news last night, I saw the story of terrible storm destruction in parts of Maine. Many roads and bridges have washed out. One picture showed a pickup truck that was just in the wrong spot at the wrong time. As it crossed a bridge, the bridge collapsed. The truck dropped nose first into the resulting culvert.

I guess I’m guilty. I’m lamenting about my own conditions and, if one really looks around, my conditions pale by what is happening elsewhere.

A couple of news items last night caught my attention. President Obama is on the CFL bandwagon and Sen. Olympia Snowe is on the health care bandwagon.

I’ve written at great length about the mercury in those CFL bulbs and what the major steps, sometimes even costly when a cleanup company must be called, must be taken to clean up a broken bulb. Also users will have to take those bulbs, again a health hazard, to a designated recycling place. I call it health hazard because if one breaks during transfer, the mercury could cause health issues.

Maine has banned thermostats that contain mercury, but for some unexplained reason, that mercury in those light bulbs isn’t as dangerous.

President Obama is now encouraging the usage of the CFL and other energy saving bulbs. According to the news last night, he has ordered all the light bulbs in the White House to be changed to energy efficient bulbs. I hope none of those CFL bulbs break in the living quarters.

The other story concerned a national health care initiative. Senator Snowe sounded like she supported some form of national health care, including having a standby government public plan. This country has already tripled its deficit since Jan. 20th and has spent more dollars than all other administrations since the nation’s beginning combined.

We simply cannot afford government health care. It is not, contrary to public opinion and belief, free. It will have to be paid for with your tax dollars. Our great grandkids are already in deep debt to the government. We don’t need to add more to that debt.

I’ll bet the Congress critters supporting this health care initiative won’t lead the way and give up their Cadillac health coverage, paid for, incidentally by us, to have their health controlled by bureaucrats.

Remember Bob Stanley? He was a great relief pitcher from Red Sox history. Up until last night, he had recorded more saves than any other Sox pitcher. Jonathan Papalbon tied his record last night, and with his next save, probably not today, he will become the all-time Sox leader.


Monday, June 29, 2009

The ordeal is over; the weather isn't

Let’s see. We had summer one day last week. Thursday, if my memory is close. Now we’re back into the June weather and the weather forecast says we have a chance of showers daily right through Saturday. Now, of course, not everyone will see them every day, but I’d bet I’m not the only one tired of this weather. Tomorrow, senior fitness day, will be rather unpleasant.

My weekend was straight from that place some people tell me I’m going when I enter eternity. I’m not suggesting Heaven.

You may recall that last week I took the bull by the horn and began a task that probably should have been done many weeks ago. I re-installed Windows XP Pro on my main computer. That project ended up requiring assistance from Dell Support. The problem was I couldn’t find my drivers and utility disk that came with the computer.

The first thing the technician wanted to do was upgrade my firmware so he took control of the computer, downloaded the file and began installing it. He had told me not to touch my keyboard or mouse until he cleared it. A funky question box appeared, “Do you want to let the technician restart your computer to complete the installation?” I clicked, “Yes.” I shouldn’t have done that.

To make a long story short, and I like long stories, my action totally messed up the operation. We called it quits around 1 AM Friday morning as I was just plain getting too tired. It was still day time over in India. I was going to get a call the next morning to continue.

While waiting I installed Windows again and completed all I could without those drivers. We had already downloaded and installed the network and video drivers by using my laptop and a thumb drive. So I had everything all ready to go when once again Dell Support and I began our task.

It really went sort of smoothly after that and I began loading other programs Friday afternoon. Microsoft Office was no problem. I used the OEM version that came with the computer when I bought it (and Office). I had already loaded my virus and internet security software. Saturday I continued with other stuff, including my home accounting software.

That one presented a small problem as I didn’t have a new passkey. I sent the company a message explaining my problem and the response was super. I not only was sent a new key, they also gave me access to a full product download. But it turned out to be a different version, the home and small business one. You can’t imagine how different the two are. I wanted my plain home edition. Everything on my computer is legal and registered but I decided to take a chance on my familiar accounting program and install it.

You know it would install, but accept a key? For something to do while it loaded, I read the agreement and couldn’t believe my eyes. It comes with a three computer license for use in a single home. I was golden and used the second license. It runs beautifully. I had save my bank account files on my external hard drive so getting them into the new program took a couple clicks.

The time had come for another simple procedure, install my printer. I have a wireless network printer. I started installing it late Saturday morning, and by Sunday noontime, I was ready to dump the printer and all my computers. I not only didn’t have a printer, my home network was gone, too. I could still use the Internet because my main computer is hard wired to the wireless router which is hard wired to the modem. But that’s all I had.

After a long break, possibly a little nap, I went back to the task. This time, refreshed, the pieces began falling into place and by mid afternoon, everything was back working. The network, all installed programs, the printer, and the Internet connection were all working as the fine print said they should be. And the Old Gator Dude was once again a happy camper.

Now today, I’ll spend some time installing some of the other programs I absolutely need but rarely use and my ordeal will end.

Now if I could only have the same success with stopping the rain . . .


Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Family Working Weekend

“Unsettled.” That’s the weather word this weekend. Saturday could see some of those boomers that hit other parts of the state give the Greater Portland Area a whack. Or not. Possibility of more on Sunday. Or not. In fact, the weather folk tell us those chances could continue right into at least the middle of the week and the Weather Channel says all through the week.

The Channel Six weather person says this morning it will be partly sunny with those precipitation chances along with thunder and lightning. A lot will have to change as the day progresses, though, as it’s not starting out here in Gatorland very nicely at all.

I know Gator Daughter and her Golden Retriever will be here on Saturday. She is going to help us do a massive cleaning in the cellar. If we don’t get it all picked over before we run out of ambition Saturday, the project will continue Sunday.

That will give her dog and Gator Golden an opportunity to do some heavy playing. When the weather is not making wet, they’ll be on the outside, and that means a lot of running and wrestling. My bet is that they’ll probably also spend some time down in the cellar “helping” us.

We had a project similar to this one two or three summers ago. GG went behind a petition and came out with a mouse, no longer a challenge to her, in her mouth. It really was rather funny watching the rest of us react. GG just walked calmly over to her ‘mommy’ and gentle placed a present down in front of her.

I suspect all of us are hoping a repeat gift performance will not be forthcoming this weekend.

Because of my computer project (see post right below this one) Friday, I never did get out for that second mowing to vacuum up the rows of grass from Thursday. By the time a tech person from Dell and I finished getting my kitchen computer running again, the clouds were taking over and it looked like some rain. So at Gator Wife’s suggestion, we postponed for at least another day the lawn chore.

There are times when a suggestion is favorable to me that I marvel at what wonderful ideas she has.

I’ll probably spend some time this weekend reinstalling some programs on the now rejuvenated computer. The two Raid hard drives have become two separate drives to facilitate my automatic backup program. One would never believe how much time making that change consumed.

As I said the other day, my problems began when the computer was regularly crashing. The Dell diagnosis was the situation was a computer software problem so we reformatted the hard drive and reinstalled Windows XP. The tech person hinted that if we had missed a “cancer” on the drive, this procedure would cure it.

Now I have to put my programs back. That’s an easy task, but if you’ve ever done it, you know it’s time consuming. My new backup program creates a bootable external hard drive, assuming one exists on the system, and copies everything, literally making a bootable mirrored image of the old drive. That eliminates all the work of putting individual programs and data files onto a new drive or a reformatted one.

There could be some sort of a cookout one of these two days, too.

That’s how the Gator Clan will be spending this weekend. Like I do every weekend, I’ll be making a loose list of ideas for the coming week. You might learn about one of them when we return Monday. Have a really super weekend.


Friday, June 26, 2009

And the computer remains crashed

Yesterday was one mighty fine day on the Gator landscape. Beautiful sunshine, warm temperatures, pleasant air all combined to make it the way summer should be. It did start off with some fog but by mid-morning the blue skies were up there and for the first time in what seems like many weeks, we had a great day.

How great was it? you ask. It was great enough for the old Gator to ride around his yard and getting the grass to a respectable height. Because it was so long and was still damp in a few places, I took the bagging attachment off and just cut the lawn. I knew when I did it I’d have to take another ride with the bagger on to vacuum up the rows of mowed grass.

Since I don’t have mulching blades and the bagging device requires me to blow the grass from the deck out the side, I end up with the rows. Normally, I’d just go over it once again and pick up the rows after I had reattached the bagger, but yesterday I also lifted the deck a little for a longer cut. That’s because the lawn was so deep it would have jammed the mower.

So, weather permitting today, I plan to put the deck down to its normal cut and go over the whole lawn once again. Gator Wife won’t be home until noon when she can help me with emptying the bags. There’ll be several trips to our grass compost area. The weather Gal said this morning we could get some showers, possibly even some downpours, in the Greater Portland area this afternoon. Some places will get it and others won’t; and then a couple hours later another one will come through and the towns will be reversed.

That’s why I say “weather permitting” because if it does shower and the grass does get wet, there’ll be no collection.

Yesterday I told you I was reinstalling Windows XP on my computer. I patiently waited all day for the call from the support person to come and it finally did about seven last night. Through all the configuration process (I wanted to kill the “raid” drive configuration) he actually controlled my computer and did all the work. Once that was done and it was time to reboot the computer to begin the install, the network connection was lost.

He had told me what to do during the software install and said he’d call me by phone about a half hour later. He called and took control of the computer again and then his client (that would be me) screwed the whole process up. While he was in control, I was not supposed to touch the keyboard or mouse. He was installing new bios when a question popped up asking if the technician could reboot the computer. I was not supposed to answer that question. I did.

My computer hasn’t worked since. We fiddled and faddled for a couple of hours and at one AM, I had to call it quits. We’re going to resume this morning. I’m not blaming the Dell technician; I’m the one who didn’t follow directions. And now, it’s called paying for “being too smart.” The really good part of all this is part of the promotional deal when I bought the computer several years ago was the inclusion of a long term parts and support contract. It’s still in effect. I’d hate to see a bill for all this.

Oh, I’ll mention it, but I’m sure you’ve already figured it out. I do have more than one computer and this is being created, as it is daily, on my laptop. It’s times like these that I’m happy I have more than one computer. I actually have three working ones; but that third one could vote it were a human.

So that’s the story from here on this Friday and I hope you are having a productive day. Another good thing, I guess, is that the weekend is almost upon us.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

A crashed computer

There is some hope we will see the sun before this day is over, perhaps even by the time some of you see this. That doesn’t mean we’ve finally gotten into dry weather. No, it just means that we could see some sunshine at times for the next few days. If we do, it could be interspersed with some showers, possibly thundershowers. However, the weather people say, “Not all cities and towns will see them every day.”

Unfortunately for me the day didn’t start out dry. It wasn’t raining, but we did have a little fog and it does the same thing to my body. Actually, it’s the low pressure system, not the rain, which causes the discomfort. And the latest low is pulling away. Unfortunately some sort of new systems are expected to swing through each of the next several days.

This morning’s system had moved far enough away for me to be able to function during my senior fitness session. I got my full 30 minutes in on the stationary bike and successfully completed the rest of my routine. That, at least, is a real positive start for this day.

After Gator Wife and I have a little breakfast, I have to do some searching. My main computer, a Dell desktop XPS multi-media computer, has been periodically doing funny things. Tuesday it crashed. I called Dell support and the technician talked me through getting it running again, but from my description, he believed I had some corrupted Windows.

One of the error messages I had received said I had a hard drive failure and when I tried to reboot, the message appeared on the screen that no boot drive could be found. That’s when I called for help. He had me do a few things and to my great surprise, the computer came back to life. The techie told me he didn’t think the problem was solved and suggested we reinstall Windows. Running some tests showed the problem was in the software as my hard drives passed their physical tests.

That meant reformatting the hard drive and losing everything that was on it. All my precious pictures and my document and other data files would be gone. I don’t do music. So the techie and I agreed that I should, as long as the computer would let me, spend some time making sure all those files were backed up. I do regularly scheduled backups so I probably had most of them on an external drive. Nevertheless, the techie suggested I make second copies by going through folders (Didn’t we use to call them directories?) one by one making sure I had the material saved on my external drive.

I did and now all those files are saved, probably twice. Then it hit me. I have to reinstall all my programs, too. I don’t believe I have a single illegal program on my computers. Finding my CD/DVDs, however, is becoming a huge chore. A few of the programs were downloads and I do have them on my backup drive.

The techie called me back last night and I told him I needed one more day; so he’s going to call again this afternoon and talk me through a couple of procedures I’ve never done before. One of them is converting the two internal hard drives from a raid configuration to distinct drives. Raid Zero isn’t mirrored drives. There’s another reason I want separate drives, but I won’t go into that here. The conversion is, I believe, just a software switch.

That’s my day. It’ll be busy and a little bit scary. My Fearless Friend does this stuff all the time and he says the only hard part of it is the time it will eventually all take to get what I need back onto the computer.

Great day yesterday. I left home in a driving rain storm but by the time I got to the restaurant for our retired group’s Last-Wednesday-of-the-Month lunch, the rain had all but stopped. I think all of us enjoyed the visit and, as I had hoped, our legislator member was there. That lunch is a mealtime worth looking forward to.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One side effect: Death!

Yesterday wasn’t quite as “yucky” as the previous few, but it certainly wasn’t nice. We got a little rain last night, and we should be getting off and on showers about all day today. Now, tomorrow. We are very hopeful for some change then. I hope that nice, warm weather begins early enough for my body to feel a lot more like exercising. Then, of course, weather guy Kevin has to add that there’s a chance of afternoon thundershowers right into Monday. At least realistic hope is there.

This is the last Wednesday of June. My goodness! Where did June go? Well, it still has some time left as it doesn’t end until next Tuesday. It’s just the way the days fall that makes today the last Wednesday of the month. (Yes, FF, you guessed it.)

The significance of this day is, of course, the lunch engagement that my little group of retired seniors has. We get together today to swap stories, discuss some local sports and the Red Sox, get the latest gossip on our former workplace, and things like that. I think our Legislator should be back from Augusta to join us once again. If he does, there’s a good chance we’ll have a full complement.

I know you’ve seen those health commercials on the television. But do you really listen to them? One that’s prominently being displayed currently is for a woman’s contraceptive. I won’t mention the name but if the pill were a human, it would have been playing left field for the Red Sox a few years back.

I haven’t really put any timer on the thing, but at least 85% percent of it gives an endless list of reasons why women shouldn’t take it. It ends with, “Ask your doctor about (it).” If I were a woman, I wouldn’t even put a package of the stuff in my hands to read about it. It must have passed the FDA inspection, though or it wouldn’t be on the market.

That’s just one of the commercials for health products that contains all those warning notices. Just as soon as I hear that one of the possible side effects is death, I shut the darn thing off in my ears. It seems like most of them have that one, too.

I don’t think I’ve ever asked my doctor about a specific medicine. Now that I think of it, that’s not totally true. My Fearless Friend has told me several times that he takes a specific over-the-counter medication to sooth his arthritis pain. Since my events back in 2001, I never take medication of any type, prescription or OTC, without the expressed approval of my physician.

So I asked my PCP about that OTC med FF uses. Absolutely not, he said. It would interact with one of my heart medicines. The only OTC pain relief he would approve was Tylenol. So my pain continues. Later I began having some sleep problems and once again FF had a suggested remedy which should fit right in with my doc’s list. Tylenol PM. I liked that as it had as its base the only pain reliever I was permitted to use.

I wouldn’t just take it, though. I put it on my “ask” list for my next doc visit. It didn’t make the cut. The Tylenol part was just fine, but that tiny bit of sleep help was a no-no. He did volunteer, though, that there was one generic sleeping aid I could try. I did and I slept. So on my next visit, I asked about a pain reliever. He knew of one of those, too, and gave me another prescription for a generic. It does help relieve pain.

I must tell you that I’m very cautious about using them. Most all of those first prescriptions remain on my pill shelf as I have this terrible fear of addiction. At least I always ask my doctor.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mercury good! Mercury bad! Which is it?

Is there anything other than “Yuk!” to describe this weather? Summer began Sunday morning, but it’s keeping it a deep secret for some reason. The weather folk tell us we’ll see some real summer in a couple more days with temperatures into the 80s. But then they add the possibility of showers and thundershowers, especially afternoons. Real summer weather, they say.

I certainly wouldn’t want to leave out my Tuesday senior fitness report. I went, and now I’m home again.

I have an upper partial plate I call teeth. One of those teeth split in half and broke off. I took it to the dentist to get it fixed and it was, but it was an all day event. There’s something very uncomfortable about not having one’s middle upper teeth.

Yesterday I commented on how much it cost NASCAR for those Air Force flyovers at their races. My Fearless Friend, who’s an avid NASCAR fan, said he had seen somewhere that they cost NASCAR nothing. Pilots have to have so many hours in training flights that some are simply scheduled for event timing and the publicity/advertising for the military is priceless. Makes sense to me. Thanks, FF.

Maine government has a new way to have you spend more of your money. A new law requires the manufacturers of those fluorescent light bulbs to provide and pay for recycling them. When they burn out, current law requires they properly be eliminated to prevent excess mercury from getting into the ecosystem. On the Maine.gov website there is, or was (I haven’t checked recently), a whole document on the procedures to following if one of those bulbs breaks.

There has been a voluntary recycling program in effect for several months where people with those bulbs return burned out ones to a store participating in the program. That store then takes care of making sure they get properly recycled. Now, when the new law takes effect, the recycling will be mandatory and financed by the bulb industry.

Businesses don’t normally work that way. Sure, they’ll provide the funds for the program and possibly even make special means to collect the recycled bulbs. Education, another requirement of the bill, will be provided to teach people about the program and the proper use and disposal of the bulbs. Legislators in Augusta will tout the success of the program.

The big question is, where will the money to do all that come from? The manufacturers aren’t going to take a loss so the logical answer is the money will come from us. There’ll be a subtle price increase which only Mainers will have to pay and it will be to satisfy the requirements of the new law.

Did I mention another provision of the law where the State will set the amount of mercury allowed in the bulbs? If that requirement ends up different than what is allowed in the rest of the nation, I’d bet manufacturers won’t create a special bulb just for Maine. It might lead to the end of fluorescent bulbs in this state.

It always amazes me how state government works. We must use these new fluorescent bulbs that contain mercury. Yet we can’t use a thermostat that uses mercury because it’s a danger to the environment. I wonder if Maine will ever get its act together.

Have you ever noticed how weather like we’ve been having can put a person into a foul mood?


Monday, June 22, 2009

Want a new fuel-efficient car?

My goodness we had some rain Friday into the weekend. My unofficial rain gauge registered 4.13 inches between Thursday night and Saturday morning. Since then it says we’ve gotten another .13 inches. That’s a whopping four and a quarter inches this weekend. It’s not very high on my “great weekend” list. And it’s just the beginning. We can expect some rain or showers or drizzle virtually daily, nights, too, right into next weekend.

All that weather makes for a very uncomfortable time for an Old Bull Gator with a chunk of steel in his hip and several fusing vertebrae. We’ll manage as always, but I honestly am not looking forward to my workout sessions Tuesday and Thursday.

Every time we get to see the opening ceremonies at NASCAR events, we get to see some pretty expensive and nifty United States aircraft fly over as the National Anthem is sung. I love the spectacle as we should be honoring our fighting men and women the world over. But I often wonder just how much it costs NASCAR for those flyovers.

That brings us to today’s topic, although it has absolutely nothing to do with NASCAR. It is the “Clunkers for Cash” program that is now awaiting President Obama’s signature. The program passed Congress as part of the war funding bill. Don’t ask. I have absolutely no idea what paying people to trade their cars has to do with wars. I do know it’s going to cost us a billion dollars we don’t have.

Simply speaking, the program is designed to get Americans with older, non-efficient automobiles, pickup trucks and bigger trucks off the roads and then get those Americans into more fuel efficient vehicles.

Consumers will get up to $4500 reduction in the price of a new car under certain conditions. Note that not everyone trying to trade a ‘clunker’ will get that much. There are conditions. Furthermore, if you accept the up to $4500 toward your new car, the dealer must dispose of your trade-in by junking it, shredding it, crushing it, etc. Therefore, you most likely will not get any additional trade-in allowance.

Only people with cars that are worth less than $4500 will make that trade. The car being traded must have been in the owner’s possession for at least a year, registered to go on the highway, and in use. You cannot find a good deal on a junked car one day and get your rebate the next.

Both Gator Wife and I drive older cars. Hers is a 2001 and mine, a 2000. We wouldn’t be able to take advantage of that new law for two reasons. First, hers already gets about 19 mpg around town, more on the highway, and mine gets in the low 20s, and I’ve gotten as much as 36 on the highway. The clunkers can get no more than 18 mpg combine city and highway.

Second, both our cars are “Blue Booked” at more than the $4500 for trade-in right now. We would be rather foolish to take that loss by participating in this program, even if we could.

Another qualification for the top dollar is the new car must average 22 mpg. But if the trade-in averages more less than the new one, then a buyer could qualify for a $3500 break. The new car must be worth no more than $45,000.

There are slightly different rules that cover SUVs, minivans, and light truck and your dealer can tell you if you qualify.

Once the billion dollars is gone, the program is gone. You, incidentally, will not see the money as it will be electronically transferred to the dealer.

The goal, of course, is to get more people into smaller, fuel efficient “green” cars. My guess is that it won’t run out of money. With the economy the way it is, people driving those old gas guzzlers may realize they simply might not be able to make payments on a new car or they probably would already have one.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's Day Weekend

The weather forecast gives us an off and on “iffy” forecast for this weekend. Like all weekends that weather will determine what the Gator Clan does this weekend. Rain and wet usually keep Gator Daughter and her dog home. That’ll be the case Saturday even though we probably won’t get much rain, mostly showers if anything. I suspect the grounds will be too wet for Gator Wife and GD to do much outside if she does come. Then a lot can change between early Saturday morning and ten when she would normally arrive here.

Sunday is Father’s Day. My day, along with it belonging to Dads everywhere. I’d be some surprised if Gator Daughter didn’t appear here sometime on Sunday, even if we do get rains. She has already given me my Father’s Day present, but part of her own tradition for her mom and dad is to bake a cake. She’ll probably be here for lunch and then ‘surprise’ me.

One never knows what our son is doing. He’s a dad himself so I suspect he’ll be having his busy day out on the West Coast where he lives.

Can a Father’s Day go by without today’s dads thinking of their own? I doubt it. My father has been gone for more than 30 years as has Gator Wife’s dad. But they are still forever with us.

Dads teach us lessons. I think one of the best ones he taught me was one probably many have taught their children. It’s a great lesson for both boys and girls. His simple statement was, “As you make decisions in your life, ask yourself one question: How would I feel if Mom or Dad walked in on me? Would I be happy or embarrassed?” I hope I’ve successfully passed that one along to my children.

Children. One is in her 40s and the other will be 40 next year. I guess offspring are always ‘children’ to their parents.

When I was just a small boy in 1945, I was at a baseball game being umpired by my dad. I don’t remember what time it was, but Dad went to his car for a quick sip of water between innings. Someone in the car beside him had his radio on. Dad listened for a moment or two, then went out to the pitcher’s mound and faced the spectators.

He threw his arms up into the air and announced, “Attention, everybody. This game is now over.” There was a slight pause as people looked at each other in complete wonder of what was going on. “And so is the war!” exclaimed Dad.

Pandemonium of happiness broke out and we drove into downtown Portland with, I think, every other living human in Southern Maine. We joined the cavalcade at the then Union Station (corner of Congress Street and St. John Street for you youngsters out there) and it took more than four hours to drive Congress Street to Monument Square.

It was in 1976 when our mom called us from Florida to tell us Dad was in his final moments. Both my brother and I had moved to Maine from Florida back in the ‘60s to form our own lives. We took the first available plane South and only prayed we’d get a chance to say “Good-bye” to our dad. Miraculously, he held on for several days. We both had families and jobs and Christmas to get home to and had to leave Florida.

We called when we got home. It was my brother’s birthday. An hour later, we got the call from Mom. She had told dad we were home and he said, “Thank God my boys made it home safely. Now I can leave in peace.” Mom said they were the last words he said.

Naturally, there are many more warm memories of Dad, too many to include here. We never forget our dads and my hope is that wherever mine is, I haven’t disappointed him in the way I’ve led my life. I am not embarrassed. Thank you, Dad.

I hope all you dads out there have great memories of yours and that you have just a great Father’s Day Sunday.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Another People's Veto attempt--A good Idea?

I don’t like rain. If we do end up with as much as the weather people say is possible, I suspect Gator Wife won’t like it, either. All this rain, especially in such a short time, could raise havoc with her vegetable gardens. Her flower beds might be in a little jeopardy, as well. It is still raining this morning. At 6:37, my gauge registered 1.67 inches, and we've still got a way to go. I don’t like rain.

A week has now passed, well at least most of a week, since cable guy was here. He told me last Monday that he thought a reception problem I’ve had for the last three months was a thing of the past. The company had found a weak node in the line, he said, and it was replaced Monday night, or Tuesday morning if you prefer.

Now, four days later and several HD programs later, the TV hasn’t broken up once. I hesitate to call it a done deal, but it does look good. So, unless something drastic happens down that road, this could be the last time you hear of my long saga with the cable company.

The last Legislature passed what it calls a tax reform bill. It is the sham of shams and every one of us will be paying a whole lot more in taxes as a result. Now, the Chairman of the Maine Republican Party, Charles Webster, says the party will be among a yet-to-be-formed group to begin a petition drive to have at least parts of that bill overturned via a people’s veto.

Webster doesn’t have a group yet, but he says he needs to get paperwork done in the Secretary of State’s office to get the petition drive underway. Since he is the party chairman, I’d guess one would have to conclude that the party will be among the sponsors, possibly among the leaders, of such a drive. He had better be successful or he could end doing more damage to the credibility of the Republican Party than good.

A “People’s Veto” drive did work last year in getting a tax bill passed in that Legislature repealed. But I’m afraid that most people will either not understand this is a new and different law or fail to see the relationship between the law and the taxes they’ll have to pay.

I would think gaining the required signatures on a petition will be a very formidable task, especially since they have less than two months to get a question on the November ballot. They do have about a month longer to meet the statutory 90 day after the legislature adjournment to get signatures to have the question possibly on next June’s ballot, but I think that, too, will be extremely formidable.

Don’t get me wrong here. You know if I see a petition, I’ll sign it. I think you probably know how I feel about the tax increase we face. Unfortunately, I don’t believe most Mainers have that same feeling. By the time they begin to feel the relationship between that new law and the higher prices businesses will have to charge to meet the bookkeeping requirements of the new law along with the higher prices the tax itself will bring about, it will be too late.

And if the Republicans fail in this attempt, it’ll be that much harder to elect them to try to get any changes in the next Legislature. This petition drive may not be a good idea. I’ll keep these thoughts so I can publicly eat them next September if I’m wrong.

The weekend is upon us. I hope you have a good one in spite of the rain and that you dads out there will enjoy your day. I’ll enjoy mine.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

High School Graduation, a problem!

Thursday is senior fitness day and I usually wait until I get home to write an opening for the post so I can describe how my session went. That’s not the case today as Wife Gator and I are heading out for breakfast as soon as I get home. So, since the weather is nice, at least this morning, I think we can assume that all went well. That’s why the time stamp on this one is before the senior session.

Yesterday was just a great day. We had beautiful sunshine the whole day, but a sea breeze came far enough inland to cool my place off a little in the afternoon. We’re told this day will deteriorate as it moves forward and some showers, perhaps even some rain, could arrive over night or early tomorrow. The weather guys just can’t seem to figure out what is going to happen this weekend, so we’ll just have to wait.

It won’t be long before you’ll be able to select your food in restaurants, at least the chain restaurants, by their calorie content. The governor has signed into law a provision to require the information to be posted on menus, menu boards, and the like in restaurants that have 20 or more outlets. Outlets in other states are included in the count. I believe the majority of people who care already know what they’re eating and the rest and those who don’t care will continue to buy what they want when they want it. But it will make the lawmakers feel good.

Two other bills were signed into law in an attempt to fight obesity in Maine. If I still had children in school, I think I’d be very upset at one of the laws that require heights and weights of school children recorded in the Maine Center for Disease Control files. Seems to me that might be an intrusion into the children’s and family’s privacy rights. I think I did hear the reporter on Ch. 6 last night say that parental approval is a requirement, however.

The third one is just another unfunded mandate from the state to local school districts. It encourages elementary schools to promote physical activity and physical education. Although I really believe that encouragement is a good idea and wish I had been more active physically when I was a kid, it could result in another cost for local districts in these hard financial times.

It’s now in the national news just about everywhere and Bonny Eagle High School is taking it on the chin for the actions of a few. I have not formed any opinion on the issue of at least one student being escorted from the graduation venue and at least one other being denied his diploma because I wasn’t there and really don’t know the facts of the situation. However, enough has been reported to look at the issue.

From what little I have read, there probably were mistakes both by students and administrators. First, if the students were informed well before the graduation ceremonies what the ground rules were and if the students signed a form agreeing to those terms, then they should have abided by them. Apparently a few decided the graduation was their day and they could do whatever they wished.

After all, if those students had attended some recent college graduation ceremonies, perhaps because an older sibling was receiving a degree, then they saw much of the activity they performed at their own graduation. If that were the situation . . . I want you to know I hate all these “ifs” which only serve to enforce the lack of honest facts . . . then they were doing only what they were shown was all right.

I wonder if bowing to pay homage to parents and blowing them a “thank you” kiss was included in the “don’t” list. For doing that one student didn’t get his diploma while on the stage, his 30 seconds of fame, if you will.

I’d like to say that not following what they apparently did sign and the results that followed should have been an exercise in learning that signed contracts are promises to perform. I hesitate, however, because recent activities in Washington seem to be saying that contracts are only worth the cost of paper.

The administration may also have a problem of its own. Did the superintendent over react in not allowing that graduate to get his diploma because he paid homage to his parents? I think so. I cannot help but wonder just how much input the students had in developing that contract they were to sign. I also wonder if the threat of not participating in the graduation exercises was used to coerce a signing. If, there it is again, that last statement is true, and I have no reason to believe it is or isn’t, perhaps the results could have been anticipated.

Just what is a high school graduation? Is it the last day of a lifetime of education being celebrated by students who have finally reached their goal of getting a diploma from high school? Is it a chance for parents, grandparents and other family members to celebrate the accomplishment of the young men and women? Is it a combination of both? One thing we know it isn’t; it isn’t designed for administrators to show their control. I guess I have to wonder if administrators have to have a contract signed if they have done their jobs leading up to it by teaching proper decorum in a formal affair.

I would certainly hope that before another graduation ceremony is planned that all parties to it, students, administrators, and perhaps parents, would get together to set the ground rules.

And I hope that arrangements have been made for the youngster denied his diploma for paying homage to his parents was able to pick it up later. Channel Six said this morning he has yet to receive it and that the family has sought the help of an attorney.

All this sort of puts a new meaning to looking forward to one's high school graduation, doesn't it?


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Could this be the end of the cable saga?

We’re told this morning that today is going to be one of those truly nice days, and, perhaps, the best day of the week. As I understand it, the weather folk seem to think that we’ll start going downhill again tomorrow afternoon. It will be a difficult for today to be much better than yesterday turned out to be once the sunny, blue skies took over by mid morning.

Wife Gator took the very long walk down the driveway yesterday to get the mail. When she got back, her comment was, “It’s very hot out there.” When I pointed out the temperature was only 78, she reminded my how raw it was yesterday. It was a wasted trip, however, for just three lousy pieces of pure junk mail.

This might be a good time to look somewhere else for entertainment today. What follows is what I would like to be the final chapter in my cable TV odyssey.

I had to spend some time yesterday morning after I got home from my senior fitness session watching some really terrible television. I’m probably one of the extremely few people who think ER is a dull show, and ER was on one of the HD stations I had to watch. I won’t get the title of one of the other ones correct but I think it was something like The Belle Air Prince. Watching these two shows reminded me why I never watched them when they were first run in prime time.

The third was a talking head talk show, something like Mike and Mike in the Morning.

They were on the three HD stations that the cable guy had determined were my worst enemy for the last three months. They were the ones that were breaking up the most and most often. He didn’t say I never had trouble anywhere else as he knew I had; but he was confident that if these three could be straightened out, then my troubles would be over.

I told you that last week this guy, who certainly sounded more like he knew what was happening than any of the others that have been here or talked to me on the phone did. He really ran a bunch of tests Friday that I hadn’t seen anyone do previously. He told me at the time it would take a little longer to get the problem straightened out, but he thought he know what the situation was. He had to escalate the situation to get the guys responsible for the line wires involved.

Over the weekend working in extremely early morning hours just after midnight, they ran their own tests and apparently found a nodal problem. Just after midnight Tuesday morning when the fewest customers would be disturbed, the node or whatever the thing is was apparently replaced. I had been asked to watch the channels yesterday morning to see if the operation was a success.

My TV has never worked so well. Not only those three channels but also all of my HD channels were crisper and clearer. The colors were…shucks, I should be writing in the present tense and say “are”…brilliant. There was absolutely no “pixelizing,” a term some of the cable guys called what was happening on my set.

The newest cable guy called me yesterday noontime to get a report. I told him all seemed OK, but the real test would be when the College World Series afternoon game was broadcast on ESPN2HD. I agreed to make the sacrifice to watch the game. Not one picture/sound problem occurred. Not one. The same was true on all the other HD stations I occasionally checked throughout the day.

This cable guy has done everything he said he would do and now he’s planning to call me at the end of the week for a final, we both hope, report. Meanwhile, he has given me his personal cell number for me to call if I do have any more problems between now and then.

I sure do hope this marks the end of a very long cable company ordeal. The company could use a whole lot more cable guys like Don. I should point out again, though, that the cable company has treated me nicely. This month, for example, I got a credit on my bill.

I don’t know what it will be, yet, but I guess I’ve got to find another running topic to fill my life.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Change can be difficult for Seniors (in age)

I don’t have a lot to say today. I suspect there may be just a few people who say I don’t have much to say any day. I think the weather has gotten to me once again and that has put me into a “funk” mood. Today is Tuesday so I did make my early trip to the physical therapy place where I have a senior fitness routine. The body should be returning to normal as this day progressives and a high pressure system takes over the area. Tomorrow…oh, boy, tomorrow…has the makings of being a mighty fine day.

I can’t say it all went well, that senior fitness session; I can’t say it all went poorly, either. It was just a completion of the routine. My Fearless Friend and I have had an exchange about exercising lately. Understand, he’s just a young fellow, at least a year younger, than I, so he’s if far better shape. He does exercising, too, but all at home.

One thing about crossing that 70 years mark is that various parts of the body do strange things. For an example, his thumb hurts when the weather gets bad and it’s my little finger that becomes bent all out of shape and hurts. There are other bones and joints my body that react very unpleasantly to the weather, as well.

I’m writing this early, long before I spend a lot of time with my HD cable channels. The cable guy that was here last Friday informed me yesterday that transmission wire technicians had found a defective node in the transmission line and were going to replace something during the very wee hours this morning. I sure do hope they succeed in finally getting my months long problem resolved.

There’s a sort of good news this morning. WCSH-TV, Ch. 6, reported last night that TD Banknorth has announced it will be hiring up to 500 people to staff a call center in Auburn. That’s good news as it could mean jobs for a lot of people in that area. Good news, however, is often accompanied by difficult news, although not in that news story. Note: I said “difficult” not “bad.”

I bank with TD Banknorth. When I visited their website yesterday, I was informed that a whole new way of doing on-line banking was about to take effect. I’m at an age when I really don’t like change, especially when it comes to things like on-line banking. I’ve gotten used to the bank’s present site and move around it with speed and ease. The new web site looks even easier.

It’s the Quicken part that will take a lot of work. I downloaded a very long PDF file from the bank that gives me instructions on how to convert my on-line banking and bill paying capabilities in Quicken from the current system to their new one. The only thought I had when I printed the thing out was, “This doesn’t look good. Anytime I have to get a 13 page instruction on how to convert a familiar system to a new one has just plain got to be a very bad omen indeed.”

The change won’t have to be completed for another few weeks; but I sure do hope this is one time I’m really making a giant hill out of an ant hill. Yea, I know that’s not the correct quote, but it says what I want to say. I sure do hope in several weeks I can tell you I had all that worry for nothing and that it was “a snap.”

And, also from WCSH-TV, finally, another bit of news, although not surprising and anticipated for months. The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, along with newspapers in Augusta and Waterville, the web presence often quoted here, MaineToday.com, and other holdings of the Seattle, WA, based Blethen Newspapers in Maine were officially and finally sold yesterday to a group of investors led by Maine native Richard L. Connor. He’s the CEO of the buyers’ group, MaineToday Media, Inc.

It will be interesting to see how, if, the newspaper changes. A more balanced reporting of the news and more reporting of local and Maine news could go a long way to getting readers back to the paper. Some honest investigating reporting could help, too. There’ll be a lot of us outsiders watching to see what happens before we return to the paper.


Monday, June 15, 2009

And a real B-B-Q is? Whatever you want it to be!

We had another nice one half and a rather less than nice second half of this weekend that just ended. Saturday was just one mighty gorgeous day that just begged us to be on the outside. Sunday, though, started out with rain and it continued just about all day, although mostly just as intermittent showers.

About the only outdoor work I do is lawn mowing in the grass growing season and snow blowing in the snow season. I think it might be fair to say I’m not an outdoorsy person. Now that’s not to say I never do anything outside, but Gator Wife might mention that it takes a very gentle “pretty please” for me to go out there for work.

Some people who don’t know me might say I must be a lazy son-of-a-gun; but those who know that I worked two jobs for all my adult life until I retired, and worked for various youth sports in various capacities but mostly as an official, might have a different picture.

That’s not what today is all about. Today is about a semi nice weekend. And that part occurred Saturday. Gator Daughter came over by mid morning. Naturally she brought her dog so that both hers and our Golden could have a great time outside. They did, running, tackling, wrestling and getting in the way of their humans. They were in that “seventh heaven” place. Gator Golden, and I suspect her sister, slept soundly all night.

Meanwhile, I took my tractor ride around the yard. The mid-morning part was a rather slow ride. The grass was still damp, downright wet in some places. That chute that usually clogs with even damp grass has a little gauge that will tell me when the air flow, thus the grass flow, is going through. I think that because that grass in the sunny area was relatively dry while it was shaded grass that was still damp, the dry grass won out. As long as I went slowly, the chute didn’t clog.

Meanwhile, the ladies had three cars lined up in the driveway and each got a thorough washing followed by a good waxing. That, too, was time consuming, but for a half a day at least they were shiny and clean. Daughter Gator’s car came out the best as it’s only a couple years old. GW’s and my car, nine and ten years old respectively, were a little more challenging.

I got into a fun exchange with my Fearless Friend over the definition of BBQ. The Gator trio had BBQ for lunch. I call anything we grill, especially if it is properly ‘doctored’ up, “Bar-B-Que.” I mentioned in the first message to FF that we had BBQ for lunch, then mentioned I heard on the television a week or two ago that BBQ was only when the food was cooked with wood and smoke. I think I included charcoal in that mix. Nevertheless, I said we had BBQ.

His response was a good one. One of those Bar-b-cue cookout contests we occasionally see on the Food Channel was held across the street from his Florida home this past season. He said he learned that a real BBQ was indeed made with wood and smoke, usually slowly. However, he learned from Emeril on TV that anything prepared for that special cooking on a grill was BBQ. It mattered not what “everyone” said. FF liked that, so he agreed with me: we had BBQ for lunch. There are times when FF is actually correct.

Did you notice I used three different ways to refer to that cooking in those last two paragraphs? I wonder which was correct.

Sunday started out very wet and we made the decision early not to do much. Even though the rain ended reasonably early, the ground remained wet and showers did pass through for a while. So GD and dog stayed home to do stuff around her house and GW and I stayed in. GW worked her puzzles; I did some crossword puzzle and watched sports on TV. Sunday could best be described as a lazy day.

That doesn’t take anything away from our having had a good, productive weekend, however.

I had said Friday I’d give a report on cable guy’s visit to fix my seemingly ever on-going problems getting some of my cable stations. He came, but this guy was the first to admit after all his testing that I had a problem. Not only could he see the breaking up of the sound and picture inside the house, he spent an hour and a half or so outside with equipment attached to the cable at the pole.

After watching and reading his devices, he came in and said, “There is a problem, but it’s not here.” He went on to explain that his testing showed the problem was between where the fiber wire used for wide area transmission splits into cable wire for neighborhood transmission. It could be a bad splice, a broken wire along the way, a bad node, or something like that. But it wasn’t in my home.

Unfortunately, he had to elevate the service call to the “wire guys” to come out and give the line a good going over. He suspects, but can’t say for sure, the problem might be at the splice where the wire heads to our home since no one else in the neighborhood is having the same problem. He asked for another few days to get the problem resolved before I considered alternatives.

That seemed fair and that’s where I am now, in those few days of patience. I do know nothing happened over the weekend. Watching the Red Sox and College World Series games showed the problem is still with me. So, as they say in the broadcast industry, stay tuned. I want to stay with cable, but the final decision is getting closer.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Another June Weekend; A Little Rant, Too

Another weekend is upon us. Gator Dude and Gator Wife like weekends primarily because it’s a time when our daughter spends a lot of time with us. Of course just how much depends a lot on the weather and it appears the weather will be play a role this weekend.

We had a whole bucket full of rain Friday, my rain gauge said our yard received 1.55 inches, so I’m hoping the end was early enough to couple with sunshine Saturday morning to dry my lawn enough for me to get the grass cut. As you’ve read here before, the bagging attachment on my tractor doesn’t like damp grass and fights back by clogging its chute.

Daughter Gator should be here for lunch and, depending on the dryness, what else she and GW do will be determined after lunch.

The Sunday weather forecast has changed somewhat. We had been told that more rain would come in Sunday afternoon, but later were told the day will be partly sunny. We’ll decide Sunday morning when we get the real forecast by looking out the window to decide on a course of action for the day. If the sun does win, GW and her dog will be here by late morning into mid afternoon.

Her dog and Gator Golden will have a blast as the ladies will most likely be outside most of the time and they love it best when their humans are out there.

Me? Well this is the first weekend of the College Baseball World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, and I love college games. The Gators didn’t make it as they were eliminated in the Super Regionals leading to Omaha, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be watching as many and as much of the games as I can.

For those of you interested, cable guy was here Friday afternoon to once again fix my cable reception on HD channels. It’s been the umpteenth attempt since March. I really won’t know until after the weekend, and especially after watching the sports on HD, how successful he was.

And while I’m off weekend gentle mode, I have a rant. Oh, it’s a mild one, but nevertheless a situation I don’t like developed Friday. We have been warned what seems like forever that the analog TV signals would be shut down Friday morning, and they were. We also have been warned that the radio broadcast of Channel 6 would end at the same time. But, as you probably know, warnings aren’t really noticed until the situation actually happens.

And it happened Friday night. As I do very frequently, I went into the kitchen to do some work and, as I’ve done for years, turned on the FM radio to pick up the news on WCSH-TV. All I got was someone speaking Spanish. I either said or thought an expletive and remembered that the signal on the FM radio ended at nine o’clock that morning.

Darn. I will really miss that broadcast. The government simply has screwed up again with that edict.

Gator Golden has her own way of waiting out the rain.
This was her system for Friday.

So that’s the Gator Clan weekend. I’ll let you know how it turned out when I return Monday.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Could be a "decision day" today; and What a Game!

We had some nice sunshine yesterday morning, but then the day deteriorated. As the day went so did my bones and joints. It wasn’t a nice day. I had thought I’d be able to mow my lawn yesterday afternoon to get it done before the rain. But when I went out to check, the lawn was damp and “iffy” for my bagging chutes. It was also very cold and windy and I could almost feel the dampness in the air. The lawn didn’t get mowed.

Now today the rain is here. I won’t go into the way my body is reacting. By now I suspect you already know. I’m hoping it will stop in our area early enough to begin the drying process so that if the expected sun tomorrow morning can complete the dry, I’ll be able to get that mowing done before that “chance of showers” arrives.

I came very close to doing the unthinkable last night. I almost went to bed before the Sox came from behind to beat the Yankees. Boston was sailing along with a one to nothing lead, thanks to a home run by David Ortiz and strong pitching by Brad Penny through six innings. Then the Red Sox bullpen took over in the seventh. That wasn’t a nice inning as New York scored three times to take a three to one lead.

The Sox didn’t do much in the bottom of the seventh and that’s when I almost conceded. I shut down my computer, began my usual routine of shutting off the light and then powering down the TV. I reached for the light and thought, “Shucks, what’s one more inning.” The top of the eighth was a good one for Boston and no more damage was done. The Yanks’ turn to come apart was in the bottom when Boston scored three runs of their own and took a four to three lead into the last chance for New York.

Boston’s closer, Jonathan Papelbon, is one of the best in the league and he didn’t let his team down as, for the eighth straight time this season, the Sox beat the Yankees and now have a two game lead in the AL East. Boston has swept all three series so far this year. And keeping the old Gator Dude up after ten o’clock is what a century’s old rivalry is all about.

Legislators planned to adjourn this session of the Maine Legislature today. I’m not sure they’ll succeed. They have been working to tweak and get passed several items that involve raising your taxes. No bill completed in short haste can be good for Maine. I’ve already given my feelings over most of the items, so I’m not going to add anything more today. Except we now know how good the governor’s word is. Perhaps we’ve known it all along.

My cable company is expected this afternoon to send their “last resort” guy to get my reception problems fixed. If you follow me just a little, you know that since March I’ve been going through all sorts of rotten situations concerning what some of the cable guys call pixelizing. The picture and the sound become totally useless on the high definition channels. All the channels I watch there can also be seen on the lower digital channels clearly, but I’ve come to love watching sports in hi-def. There is no comparison.

We’ve had so many phone calls to the service department I lost count. There have been technicians here at least five times with two of them on two occasions. Each does something and for a few hours the channels work. The last one even added an amplifier which he was absolutely certain would solve the problem.

I’ve been threatening to give up the cable for satellite service, but I really don’t want to switch. The reason for that is, perhaps, the silliest, dumbest reason anyone could have. We also have digital phone service through the cable company and the caller I.D. is the television set. When an incoming call arrives while we’re watching TV, the caller’s information is in a box on the screen. I don’t want to lose that. At least I know how childish that is.

And here’s something I’ll bet most people don’t know. I called the satellite company to find out about costs of their service. To get the same channels I now get, plus the rental of the reception box, plus the rental of boxes for other rooms, plus the fee for HD service, plus the fee for a DVR service, plus tax and other fees, the cost of that satellite even with low, introductory prices, is within a few dollars of the cost of my cable service. And, believe it or not, those few dollars are more than what I’m now paying.

So I’m really hoping this guy of “last resort” truly knows what he’s doing and can resolve my problem.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

These "late" nights have got to stop!

It would appear the weather gods have made a few changes around our little area. Yesterday morning, we were told today would have rain most of the day. By last night, all that had changed as the front that is guiding the low pressure systems has moved further south than expected yesterday morning. That could leave us virtually without any rain at all today and the lows that give my body fits may be just a little too far south to bother me.

That certainly was the case at my senior fitness session today. Although there was a little discomfort in the joints and back, I was able to work hard on my routine and, if exercise makeup is possible, I made up some of the loss from Tuesday.

Now we look forward to tomorrow. The report this morning was we will get some rain. I guess it would be best to wait to see what tonight says.

They did it again last night, those Boston Red Sox. And again they kept me up to watch this great rivalry between Red Sox and the Yankees. Tim Wakefield, who’s having a rather nice year this year, left the game with a 6 to 3 lead and that “best in the league” bullpen took over. It became just a little dicey as the first two batter facing, including former Soxer Johnny Damon, reliever Ramon Ramirez put the ball over the fence.

But then the relievers settled down and Jonathon Papelbon put the do it to it in the ninth. I guess I’ve got one more night of watching baseball ahead of me. As you know, I rarely stay up to watch games passed ten o’clock. I should point out that neither of these games kept me up much beyond that time.

It looks to me like the governor is not a keeper of his word. He had promised no new broad based taxes this year. The Legislature sent him a tax package that has so many new taxes that will affect everyone, thus broad based, that we all will see less money in our pockets. Yesterday the governor suggested some tweaks to the bill but it remains very broad based. Only a complete veto and a lot more work would provide the kind of tax reform we need. I guess we now know about how good the governor’s word is.

We also can now expect insurance rates to increase. The governor signed a bill to tax your medical bills. You won’t specifically see that tax as it’s designed to be paid by the insurance companies. Like all such fees and taxes, they get built into what you pay somehow. The money is supposed to fund the state’s Dirigo health plan. Why the government continues to spend millions and millions of dollars for fewer than 11-thousand people is beyond me. Republicans have introduced plans to make health care more affordable for everyone, but the Democrats simply want you to pay exorbitant costs.

Another health bill signed by the governor would, among other things, require doctors and hospitals to post on line or in their offices the prices charged for the various cares you get. More expenses for the doctors and hospitals that will get passed along to you. I’ll remember next time I have a life threatening heart attack to tell the paramedics to hold off until I do some comparison shopping on line.

I think I’ll be very glad when this legislature comes to a close in the extremely near future. I can’t afford any more of their foolishness.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The great rivalry and other things

I liked last week much better than this one. Actually, refined, that should be, “I liked last week’s weather much better that the weather we’re having this week.” It was generally clear, nice, dry, and warm just a week ago. Even though the Ch. 6 weather guy says our corner of the region will probably be rain free for the best part of today, it will be cloudy, drizzly at time, cold and damp.

The rain probably will return sometime tomorrow morning and continue into Friday. It’s generally not the rain, although the wet weather certainly adds to the problem, it’s those darn passing low pressure fronts that cause my discomfort. Yesterday wasn’t nice. Today will be uncomfortable, and tomorrow will back to that just plain discomfort range. Oh, well!

Speaking of the weather, actually this has nothing to do with the weather, but it got me back to the station I watch most…Ch. 6. I must say, though, that it’s getting more and more difficult as they no longer do the in depth challenging news stories about state and local doings. Most of the stories are just acceptance of whatever a newsmaker presents to them as fact.

It must be a great station for which to work, however. I have no idea just what their individual contracts say or what station policy is, but the perception is most of their on air personnel work two weeks and get at least a week off. The perception here is it’s one of the cushiest jobs in Maine.

I get my national and world news mostly from the internet. Watching the network stations is just too painful.

I stayed up a little later last night than normal. I think when I grew up way back in the 1940s and ‘50s there was no greater sports rivalry than the Red Sox/Yankees. Maybe the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry was right up there. Come to think of it, when they played basketball, the Celtics had some good ones, too. But baseball is #1 for me at every level. College football may be right up there, though.

The Sox/Yanks rivalry has succeeded, however, where extremely few if any other gone. It began way back in the beginning of baseball and a century later, continues. And so it did last night. That kept me up just past ten, about my limit these days, as the Sox pounded the Yankees. Teams don’t keep the Bombers off the scoreboard very often. And for the Sox to win the first six games against them in a season is a first, I think, in my lifetime.

Let’s get back to a little reality. The Maine Legislature continues to ignore my perception of the obvious. If it truly wants to get state finances under control, it will have to examine programs and draw a blue line through some of them. Spending must be cut or we’ll be right alongside California, a place from where many of our problems were copied, on the edge of bankruptcy with the sides wearing away quickly.

Once again our legislature passed a budget using gimmicks, shifts in spending to local communities, dependence of federal spending fund money and new fees and taxes to get us into a new biennium budget. As the budget papers are drying, it learns that on top of a huge April revenue shortfall, the May shortfall was another $21 million. As I understand it this morning, the state’s “rainy day” fund will be all but drained to meet that deficit.

We still haven’t seen June’s figures as this fiscal year draws to a close at the end of the month. Because we haven’t taken the real steps necessary to get the budget under control, the months from July through December could raise havoc with the next budget. There’s only way to get the spending under control and that is to stop spending money we don’t have. At some point, that mythical bull’s horns will have to be faced.

Raising taxes, incidentally, isn’t the answer. Higher taxes will have the reverse effect of revenue making matters even worse.

We mentioned earlier this week about a Republican who has declared for the governorship. Another Republican, Bruce Poliquin whom I’m also unfamiliar with, has registered to run. There’s a prominent Democrat now in the mix. As expected, Stephen Rowe took out papers yesterday that start him on the road to next June’s primary. Rowe is a former Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives and a former Attorney General. There are also four third-party candidates who have filed papers.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Random Tuesday Stuff

At least I had one week when my old, ravaged body let me make some real headway at my senior fitness session. Sometime late yesterday afternoon that body began telling me that a low front was approaching and we’d probably get some rain.

Instead of setting my sights a little higher this morning, I set them on getting through my normal routine. That was successful, sort of, but I didn’t go any further this day. Last Thursday, for example, I set the bike to a programmed exercise mode. Today I just completed a bicycle mode, which is much less strenuous. It’s not looking too good for Thursday, either, if one believes today’s forecast.

The governor took no action yesterday on the Democratic proposal to increases taxes. It is a terrible tax that will cost you a whole lot more money than the Democrats say will save you. The Governor has promised not to support increasing or introducing any new broad based taxes and needs to veto this bill. A poster on As Maine Goes political discussion forum, Mark Turek, has broken down what new taxes you’ll be paying if the governor does not veto the bill. You can read his list here (scroll down) and see what needs to be done to encourage the governor to veto the bill.

It is just a little early, like about a year, but the race to be the next Maine governor is already underway. It is way, way too early to make an endorsement of any kind, but I heard one announced candidate speak yesterday on a local morning talk show. What Republican Matt Jacobson had to say was very heartwarming as he says he wants to bring opportunity to Mainers. I can’t tell you all he said because I wasn’t taking any notes and I couldn’t find a way to link to a recording of the broadcast.

However, he is apparently still building a web site and you can check in there periodically to learn more about him. He’s the first I’ve heard running for the position and I honestly liked what he had to say yesterday. If you get a chance to hear him on the airwaves or in person, I hope you’ll at least give him a listen.

Now this isn’t an endorsement this early in the game, but it is the beginning now of learning about candidates to replace Governor John Baldacci whose term is limited out next year so he cannot run again this time around. When Jacobson announced a while back, I said here at the time that I’d never heard of him. Now I have and he made, at least for me, an excellent good first impression. We’ll see how it lasts and who else gets into the fray.

I took a quick peek at his website and, I’m sorry to say, didn’t find it very exciting or informative. I’m sure that’s just because it’s early and he’s just getting started, but I’ll check later and I urge you to do so, too. Matt Jacobson for Governor.

The Portland papers are undergoing a sale which could be finalized as early as next week. It’s a process that began many months ago and only culminated when unions representing workers at the paper agreed to revise their contracts. The Blethen family in Seattle had owned the paper for several years and has sold it to a group of many local investors.

The axe apparently fell in the last couple of days of many management people who are not unionized and news department heads. That will probably mean the newspaper will try to become more in tune with local news and the needs of its readers. It’s been a very long time since I’ve read a truly investigative hard news article on decisions being made by our politicians. If my observation is correct, perhaps we’ll start seeing the newspaper working harder to keep the pols on their toes.

There is one item in the news today that will cause me to do a little reading and research before I form an opinion. A local group is starting a petition drive today to get fluoride out of the Cumberland County drinking water. The group will have to gather just under nine thousand verifiable signatures to get the measure on an upcoming ballot.

Fluoride was voted in by the county’s voters in the late 1990s after four failed earlier attempts. I was on the losing side of that last vote because I didn’t believe the government should be dictating any type of medication for everyone to have to use. The argument then for the fluoride was it would build healthier bones and teeth for our children and seniors. I’ll need to see how successful that was before I decide this time. Speaking totally on a personal level, it did absolutely nothing for either my bones or my teeth. But then that’s a selfish point of view so I’ll be looking for statistics on the whole county.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Super Weekend just passed

What a nice weekend we just had! The weather cooperated nicely even though the clouds did roll in yesterday afternoon. My little unofficial temperature reader broke the 80 mark for a few minutes around midday yesterday. The afternoon sea breeze and those clouds didn’t let it stay there for long.

The morning was beautiful. Gator Daughter and her Golden arrived shortly after ten and she and Gator Wife spent the rest of the morning, right up until lunch time, putting some plants GD had bought for her mother Saturday into the ground. While they were busy at that chore, the Gator Dude rode the family tractor around the lawn and discovered it should have been mowed probably last Thursday. But it looks beautiful today.

All GW’s flower beds are protected from our dogs by an Invisible Fence so the two dogs spent most of their time just sitting outside the beds keeping a careful eye on their people. Writing this this morning makes me wish I had had the foresight to have my camera outside for a picture of those pretty little girls keeping a watchful eye on their “mommies.” What’s that old adage about hindsight vision? I was pretty busy riding around the lawn, anyway.

Speaking of the Invisible Fence, it does a perfect job in keeping both Golden Retrievers within the yard. They have full run everywhere in our yard except in the flower beds and the vegetable gardens. Unfortunately, the fence does nothing to keep other animals out of the gardens. GW checked her vegetables Saturday night and discovered we had two rows of carrots doing very nicely. When she checked again Sunday morning, we had one row.

Invisible Fence, incidentally, is the trademark name of company that sells and installs an underground electric wire along lines set by the property owner. The dogs wear a collar with a receiver that picks up an electric signal and beeps if the animal approaches the line. The dog has about three seconds to back away from the signal or it gets a low level zap. (Left: That's the device on her neck.)

There’s about a three week training period where the dog learns where the lines are using flags marking them. Then there’s a week of training with the line electrified. I don’t know what the normal is, but both our dogs only got zapped once, at least during the training and that was five years ago. I’d be surprised if she didn’t check for at least the beep a few times since then. The company, incidentally, leads the training sessions.

This is the day we may learn if Gov. Baldacci is a man of his word or not. He has said he would not support any broad base tax increase. The Legislature has passed and sent to him for his signature a tax package that can be called nothing but broad based. Sure, it lowers the state’s income tax rate for a few people, mostly those in the highest income brackets, but it increases the number of items to be included in the sales tax schedule. The Democrats call it revenue neutral, which is far from what will happen, but the governor just might use that phrase to weasel out of his word.

Actually, there are many tax increases facing Mainers, including a tax on medical bills (which was defeated in a people’s veto just last year) and a higher tax on food and lodging. Taxing food in restaurants certainly is broad based as just about every Mainer will be affected. As is the change in sales tax because we all have to pay that one, too.

We may learn before this day is over what the governor will do with tax measure. The value of his word could be on the line.

Oh, want to read a good analysis of the increase in taxes in Maine? There was a good one in yesterday’s Lewiston Sun Journal.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Nice June Weekend

The weekend has arrived and the weatherman says we’ll generally have nice weekend weather. Nice weather is always nice.

We won’t be changing any normal weekend routines on the Gator Homestead this weekend. The Saturday half will see Gator Daughter here for lunch. After lunch, Gator Wife and GD are heading out to flower stores to fulfill a promised Mother’s Day present. GD had told her mother she was giving her some new plants for that day’s honor, but wanted to wait until better weather. This weekend is that better weather.

Gator Golden did what she perceives as her main job: Awakening
us at the crack of first light. Then she settles in behind "Mom's"
chair and takes a nap until breakfast time.

I’m not sure if they’ll put the new stuff into the ground Saturday as I think the plan is to wait until Sunday when GD and her dog will be here again. I’ll probably wait until they get home to make the lawn mowing decision…Saturday or Sunday.

GD is leaving her pup home when she comes Saturday. I’d guess whether they pick the dog up on the way home will be determined by how long it takes to find the plants they want. Gator Golden may have to wait until Sunday this weekend for her playmate.

With breakfast out of the way, GG, who knows it's the weekend,
begins her vigil paitently awaiting the arrival of her playmate.

It’s not much for this weekend as it’s basically just more of the same stuff. So we’ll spend it working on material for Monday when GiM continues.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Nothing too positive here today.

I had the option yesterday of mowing my lawn or not. I chose the “not.” I’ll probably do it tomorrow. Or Sunday. Shucks, I could mow it this afternoon after Gator Wife gets home. She doesn’t like me riding around on my tractor when she’s not home. She wants to be here in case something happens and I need help. She also helps me empty the grass bags the three or more times I have to do that. So the lawn is in that “up in the air” category.

The Red Sox were on TV yesterday afternoon. I wanted to watch it in HD. After all, I just had a technician here to fix my service for the umpteenth time. I didn’t get to watch the game on an HD channel. There will be another call to the service department today. I’m also going to call the satellite company to get a few questions answered. Depending on those answers, today’s call to the cable company could be the last one.

The Maine Legislature could be making a decision today on a shift and shaft tax plan today. In return for lowering the state income tax rate from 8.5% to 6.5%, the plan calls for increasing the items subject to the sales tax. House Majority Leader John Piotti said on TV last night that the plan would put more than $50-million into the pockets of tax payers. What he sort of forgot to mention, I think, was how much the added items subject to sales tax would take back out.

The meals and lodging tax will also be significantly increased so that you’ll be paying even more when you eat out or get takeout food from establishments and when you decide to staycation in one of Maine lodging establishments. One of the arguments is that out-of-state vacationers will pay more of Maine’s taxes, thus saving money for Mainers.

They also never seem to mention that many more Mainers eat out and lodge in this state than do visitors.

It’s fascinating how those legislators can simply say they’ll save you money and really offer nothing more than speculative facts to back it up. I don’t offer any facts here, either, to back up my feelings. But then I only give my opinions which don’t have any effect on your life. When the Legislature is wrong, as it often is, we all pay. My opinions are based on history, though. When taxes are reduced, tax money grows because when people have more money, they spend more. When one rate is lowered and more things are added to another form, the citizen loses. I’ve said it before: It’s too bad we can’t learn from history.

It’s beginning to look like the Gator Dude and Wife won’t be taking any vacation away from home this year. Have you been watching the price of gasoline skyrocketing again? I saw one station yesterday where it was once again over $2.60/gallon and climbing.

There’s a little station near me that I pass daily. It’s disheartening to pass the place on the way to my senior fitness session with it reading $2.47 and return an hour later to see $2.55. The old Gatormobile won’t see its mileage climb much this year. And the state’s tourist tax will keep us mostly right at home.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thursdays keep me moving. (Tuesdays, too)

Thursday. Senior Fitness Day. As I’ve mentioned several times, I visit a physical therapy center twice a week to give my large, old, fleshy body a chance for some exercise. The body likes the kind of weather we’ve been having and cooperates fully. I have lots of conditions that severely limit what I can do and the good people at the PT place have designed a program for me that I can do.

Actually, when the weather cooperates, I can do it rather easily. I have limited walking ability so using the treadmill is basically out of the plan, but I do get my heart rate up a bit by riding a stationary bicycle for 25 or 30 minutes. I have some weight work to accomplish and a huge ball to stand on to improve my balance. We recently added a new part of the routine which I can best describe as sit downs/stand up.

Although all of the routines are designed to get me moving, I sometimes get the impression they are simply delaying the inevitable. But they are succeeding in doing that. Several years ago, my mobility was so bad due to arthritis, spinal stenosis, osteoporosis, a steel plate in my hip, little bubbles that like to burst in my arteries, and a whole bunch of artery bypasses called stents that my doctor told me I’d probably be in a wheelchair within a year. He even offered to start the paperwork for a chair at that time.

The last stent that was implanted had the potential of ending my walking forever. My surgeon at the time said there was a 50-50 chance I’d never walk again. And now I’m still walking, partially at least due to the work at the PT place. I don’t walk far, but I still don’t have a wheel chair or scooter.

So that’s why I’m so fond of mentioning my Tuesday and Thursday sessions each week. I do my level best not to miss a session and on those stormy days when we have lots of low pressure pressing down on my joints and body, I fight through. I think Wife Gator is just a little pleased with my efforts.

If you’ve been following the odyssey of my cable problems, you won’t learn a lot today. I will say that the cable guy showed up as expected, ran tests similar if not the same, as the previous technicians had run, and like the others determined there was a low signal problem.

This guy, however, was a little different than the others. He found what he called a problem. He installed an amplifier on the signal heading to my cable box. He seemed surprised that the others hadn’t done the same thing as my signal was being sent to four rooms in the house and each line off the splitter was doing its job: splitting the signal.

He said the amplifier would take care of it. All was working well when he left, but all had been working well when each of the previous cable guys left only for the problem to rear its ugly head once again within 48 hours. So today I’m in that 48 hour span and waiting to see if my HD picture will remain stable. So expect another comment on the issue possibly tomorrow or Monday.

If you were here yesterday, you also learned a technician from the company that services my air conditioning system was coming. It was a regularly scheduled routine call and as expected, we had no surprises.

If I were in a ranting mood today, I’d mention some good and bad out of Augusta. I’d actually praise Gov. Baldacci for vetoing a bill that would have lowered once again the requirements to get a driver’s license in Maine. Last year, we went from anyone just walking into a Motor Vehicles office and getting one to a law that required, among other things, proof of being in the U.S. legally and of being a Maine resident.

The Legislature wanted to repeal those proof requirements, but the governor didn’t go along. An excellent decision on his part.

And another good, the Maine House has defeated a bill that would have allowed a gambling casino in Oxford County. Actually, it only stopped it for this session and postponed further action until next year to give more time for debate.

Then the House defeated a law that would have repealed the Maine school consolidation law which most districts say is not doing what was promised by lowering school costs but rather is causing many districts to spend more. It did postpone a penalty clause implementation until next year. I think a citizen’s petition drive for repeal may be facing voters in November.

Finally, if I were ranting, I’d probably have some more choice words about a tax increase proposal working its way through the Legislature. Actually, there are two or three of them looking to take more of our money.

That’s my Thursday for this week.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why can't my cable TV be fixed?

Our fine weather continues. Perhaps no rain in sight. The Ch. 6 weather guy this morning said a storm might develop toward the weekend and he says his fair weather forecast is of low confidence at this time, but if a storm develops, it could and probably would stay well to the south of us.

Are you ready for Part III of my tale of woe with the cable TV company? I have been having off and on picture problems for many weeks. There have been technicians, contractors and company employees here, working on the problem. We thought last week that finally the problem was solved, but last Saturday the problem continued. Out of frustration and at the suggestion of the phone technician, I swapped out the cable box. Because I have HD service, I must have the box.

I had hoped it would be all fixed. That hope lasted until yesterday morning when the picture and sound again began to break up. The technician called it pixilization. They can call it anything they want but I call it an unwatchable, breaking up picture. The audio follows suit. I actually have another name for it, but I don’t tend to use that kind of language here.

Yesterday’s technician scheduled me for another home visit from a tech person for today. Will he leave with me being happy? I certainly will reserve that answer until Friday. One good thing the guy did for me today was arrange for my account to be credited with a month’s service to help ease my growing anger and pain. I did learn today that among the notes they recorded is the frustration level of the complainer. I guess I’ve hit close to the top.

As coincidence will have it, Monday’s mail contained what I previously would have called “junk mail” and would have tossed it. This time the notice from DirecTV, the satellite service, remains in my house. I think I’ll have it prominently on display near the TV set while the techie is here. He probably won’t care, but if he should by some chance mention it in his report, it might get some attention.

I might add, too, the cost of that DirecTV for a full year’s worth of intro pricing makes thinking honestly about making the switch worthwhile.

Speaking of techie types visiting today, the company that maintains my air conditioning system will be here today, too. That machine is looking for its annual cleaning before the hot weather arrives. We don’t use the thing often, but during those July/August nights when the humidity and temperature are right up there, that machine makes sleeping a very pleasant experience.

The A/C experience won’t be frustrating. I’m already gearing up for the cable guy.

A short rant today. I hope you’re saving up your pennies as the cost of living in Maine has a pretty good chance of going up in the near future. If the Maine Democrats in the Legislature have their way, and they control it, we’ll be spending more money on gas, health care, and a slew of new items charged sales tax. The House yesterday passed on party lines a proposal to tax your doctors’ bills almost five percent. They are also discussing adding a nickel to the gas tax and adding taxable items to the sales tax. For the few left still paying income tax, that rate could go down.

The State still hasn’t told us how much of the gas tax we presently pay, how much of the money received in the bond issues of recent years, and how much of the road fixing stimulus payment has been used for everything except fixing all those roads and bridges. How much has gone into paying the state’s out of control welfare system and Dirigo? And do we really believe if it passes, all the millions from the nickel increase in gas tax will go to roads and bridges?

End of short rant.

I have to end this day with some congratulations to the U. of Florida softball girls. They lost the national championship series last night to Washington, but it’s the first time a Gator girls team had reached that plateau. So it was a great season and they should hold your heads high and proud. I started watching the whole tournament during the regionals and at that time after seeing the Huskies, I thought, “Boy, I sure do hope Florida doesn’t have to meet them in the finals.” They did and proved what I had seen earlier: Washington was the best team in the tournament. Congratulations to them, too.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Auto landscape undergoes huge change

There’s a weather low just a few miles from here, and although this will be a pretty nice day, it says in fine print, this old body doesn’t like those low pressure systems to be so close. Nevertheless, it’s senior fitness day for me and I indeed spent my exercise time trying to be productive. And I was. In fact it was one of the better days of recent sessions. I did my whole routine with relative ease and if the weather holds, I’ll probably attempt to ramp it up a notch Thursday.

Yesterday was a little sad for many people. Although totally not unexpected after all the buildup of the last several weeks, GM bit that economic bullet and declared bankruptcy. The company and the government, which is funding the reorganization, are both optimistic it will return to its greatness.

Getting the people to gain faith in the new company just might be a difficult task. However, people with GM stocks are going to take a huge hit. I’m not happy, either, as I have some GM in my retirement folio. Considering its worth, “had” probably would have been a better choice of words. This won’t break me, but it will probably cause an adjustment.

Wife Gator and I were talking Sunday evening about how the faces of car dealerships in this area have changed over the years. So many of the family owned companies with which we were familiar in our growing up years in the 1940s and ‘50s are long gone. Two or three of them sort of remain, but the small family atmosphere has disappeared as they have undergone new ownerships and added more lines and outlets.

There was a very nice story in yesterday’s Portland newspaper about one small family owned dealership that had successfully survived but was notified by General Motors recently that it will become one of those losing their affiliation after so many great years. Under the same family ownership for decades, the current family members say Sebago Lake Garage will stay in business in some way. The article indicates they have built up a very good and loyal following over the years.

Back in the 1940s when I was a pre-old enough-to-have-a-car age, my buddies and I used to ride our bikes to the various local dealerships to see the new cars as they came out and to get fodder to continue our daily debate on which car was the best. Among us were great supporters of just about every make and, of course, the defenders of each generally were those whose families owned a particular car. My family had been Chevrolet owners for as long as I can remember.

As I’ve said in an earlier post here when it was first speculated that GM was heading for bankruptcy, I’m not sure my dad ever owned anything but a Chevy. My first memory of a family car was a pre-WW II Chevy and the last car my dad owned before he passed in 1976 was a Chevy.

After many years of the friendly arguments with friends that the “best car” was a Chevrolet, my first car was a 1941 Ford Coupe which I bought in the early 1950s when I turned 15, then old enough to drive. My next car was a used 1951 Oldsmobile I bought to get to back and forth from college. My senior year at Florida was the first time I owned a Chevy when I bought a 1955 Bel Air. And that, my friends, was perhaps one of the best cars I’ve ever owned.

And now all those old friendly young people discussions of which was the best car takes on a whole new meaning. Today’s cars aren’t those great old ones; and the new General Motors I’m afraid won’t bring them back.

The national debate on government run health care is now in full debate. If you read this place with any consistency, you already know how I feel about it. People have no concept of how much national health care will cost us in taxes and how bad our care will become because they simply don’t want to listen to people in other parts of the world. My Canadian friend can tell you horror tales of how sick and injured people in Canada are treated and how much they pay for taxes. And the scariest thought is having some government person, and not my doctor, deciding on my health treatment.

I may visit this again a few times over the next several weeks, but I heard on the news over the weekend one of the arguments for national health care that simply is a total, ridiculous falsehood. One of the proponents of the plan at a rally in Augusta said this country needs government run health care to get rid of the bureaucracy. I’m not sure just what pile of sand his head has been in, but absolutely nothing the government does is done without developing a huge bureaucracy that eats up more tax money than that which it purports to solve uses.

Doubt me? Check out the bureaucratic cost of Maine’s Dirigo. By the way, this guy was being quoted in a story on WCSH-TV over the weekend.