Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I guess we're taking another break.

If you have visited here in recent days, you know that the month of July has been particularly lacking in any thought provoking or entertaining material.  Perhaps the weather has caused the doldrums, but whatever caused the lack of thought has caused the Old Gator Dude to take a short vacation. 

Gator Wife and I have no particular vacation plans;  in fact, she'll be continuing her part time job.  It probably would have been nice if we had 20-20 foresight and had set this time for our planned trip to Branson, MO.  Alas, we don't have that foresight so that trip will be later this year.

No specific return date has been set, only when the old gray matter begins working again will we return.


Monday, July 19, 2010

A President Visited

The weekend wasn't much better than all last week.  The temperatures were right up there, but we didn't have the humidity.  When I heard WCSH meteorologist Kelley LeBrecque say that humidity would return Monday, I wanted to throw Gator Golden's squeaky toy at the TV.

Perhaps one good thing was the forecast of possible showers which could, in my humble wishing, wash the humidity away.  She did hint that perhaps mid week would be nicer.

At least after two weeks Gator Wife and I found a couple of hours of pleasant sea breeze so our lawn finally got mowed.  The sad part of it was, 90 percent of the yard didn't need to be mowed.  But we did it all to keep it even.  I guess even things that grow don't like the heat any more than I.

We have been enjoying freshly picked string beans and more will be on our plates tonight.

Those of you who like to see pictures of GG on here perhaps are wondering where they've gone.  GG is a long-haired Golden Retriever and she doesn't like the weather we've been having any more than the Old Gator Dude.  We'll get back to pictures when she starts moving again.

Maine had a prominent visitor this past weekend.  The President of the United States and his family spent the weekend in Bar Harbor.  I didn't drive there in hopes of seeing him.  I also suspect anyone who reads this space knows exactly my opinions of his leadership.  Nevertheless, Barack Obama is the President of the United States and I'm happy for those who did get to see him.  I honor the Office and if he were to visit the Greater Portland area, I'm sure I'd try to get a glimpse.

How'm I doing on not bringing up politics this summer?  I hope you don't consider the above a political comment.  If I were, I might ask a question:  How many initiatives have been passed in Washington that were "not perfect but a start for later improvement" and actually been improved?  Hmmmm?  I think I just made up that opening contraction.

I think I feel a little sorry for that organization that accepts clothing and other things for resale to get money to help people in need.  It seems like it has been forever trying to sell that "little black dress" it thinks everyone wants.  Apparently not.


Friday, July 16, 2010

A sort of productive funk

Wow!  You talk about a funk rut.  Boy, am I in one.  All I've been able to mention recently is the weather and how it has sapped all my writing ambition.  I'd bet anyone reading this messages has gotten that picture, too.

And, sadly, the weather forecast Thursday night didn't offer much hope for any real change until perhaps the upcoming mid-week.  In case you haven't figured it out, I hate this heat and humidity business.

One really good thing happened.  We have a new bow window.  My old window was leaking like that proverbial sieve so Gator Wife and I decided the time had come to replace it.  We knew we had made the correct decision when the window folk took the old window out of its place.  Water poured from it.  Had we not made the decision now, we could have been in for some huge problems not too far down the road.

GW and I also have finalized our planned vacation to Branson, MO.  A year or two ago I had received a phone solicitation offering me a low priced vacation there.  I think I may have said a few not so nice words because I do not do any business I do not originate.  As a result of that post, I received an e-mail from a Branson official who simply suggested it really is a great place and I should think about visiting some time.

We did a lot of research and discovered that Branson is a fantastic place.  A fellow senior fitness gent said he and his wife had been there and would absolutely love to visit again.  He described it as a Las Vegas without the gambling. 

GW dug out her penny jar once again and by this summer had put enough in it to make the trip.  We found a site on line that explained the more than a hundred shows available and we got the number down to what we had for a budget and have made reservations.  We are looking forward to that upcoming trip later this year.

I guess we can say that in spite of my funk the last several days we have had some good and productive moments.  In reality, as my Fearless Friend would say, "Life is good."

And now another weekend is upon us.  Perhaps we can break out of the rut.  In any case, I sure do wish you a happy, fun-filled July weekend.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not much has changed as the humidity continues.

Not much has changed in the Old Gator Place.  We awoke Wednesday to more of that humidity that has plagued us for too many days.  One small difference, some heavy rain passed through the area.  We needed the rain, but it didn't wash out the humidity.

We almost had a new bow window installed Tuesday.  I say "almost" because it wasn't a one day project.  We had one that leaked rather badly at times so it will be nice not having to wipe water away during each rain storm.  We needed the replacement.  A replacement window by a differenent company a fews years ago had water pouring out of the "sealed" unit as the crew removed it Tuesday.

The new one also looks just super compared to what we had.  The crew had to return to complete some finish trim.

Tuesday also was Gator Wife's birthday.  She now is over 21.  Of course she's been over 21 for more than 21 years.  We have a tradition in our family that the birthday person gets to choose a restaurant for a celebration meal.  I think we all have settled in on a local (national chain) steak house.  Because of the construction, she rescheduled her meal to Wednesday.

That's about it for this period of time.  I would love to see this horrible warmth and humidity find another place to torture.


Monday, July 12, 2010

The only highlight: Fresh, really fresh vegetables

The weekend weather did have cooler temperatures.  The humidity didn't get the message.  And the hot, humid weather continues.

There's only one positive thing I can say:  Monday's evening meal will include the first picking of really fresh, delicious string beans from our own garden.  Picked in the afternoon and eaten in the evening.  What could be fresher!

And, my goodness!  Were they ever good!!!!!

But, the hot, humid weather is continuing, says the weather people of Channel Six.  And there's nothing else to say.


Friday, July 9, 2010

The weekend will bring the weather break we need.

This past week has been just about one of the laziest weeks I've had in a very long time.  Except for trips Tuesday and Thursday to my senior fitness session, I haven't been away from the house.  I blame the blasted heat and humidity we've had and justify my lack of activity to those warnings we older folk get not to overdo.

Except for the humidity, Thursday didn't turn out too badly.  We did have a nice breeze through most of the day and those temperatures for the first time on the Gator Land didn't hit the 90 mark.  But the humidity continued.

According to the TV weather people Thursday night, all that humidity should find its way out of here as a cold front passes through Sunday.  Saturday will probably be a wet day.

I read about the Emmy nominations for TV excellence the other day.  I almost laughed out loud.  I haven't watched any of the programs or knew about any of the actors and actresses that received nominations, except one.  I am a fan of the Law and Order series on NBC and 14 or 15 of the other cable channels.  Mariska Hargitay was nominated as an outstanding leading actress in a drama series.

It's sort of sad that I live in such a sheltered world and am so set in my ways that I am completely unfamiliar with all of the other nominations.

I am looking forward to one of the new shows arriving this fall.  Remember Hawaii Five-O?  It was a fun cop show from at least 40 years ago.  I think it actually began airing on CBS in 1968.  It was a fun show and incredibly predictable.  CBS is bringing it back to life in the fall.  Of course there's a new cast but the characters remain the same.  McGarrett, Danny Williams, and the others will be ressurected.

I suspect it won't be the same, though, for those of us who followed the series through the '70s.  I might have thought the show could have been brought back with different names for the characters.  Nevertheless, it'll be fun to hear "Book 'em, Dano" once again.

Gator Wife gave me some good news the other day.  It looks like we'll have our first picking of fresh yellow and green beans during the coming week.  Perhaps as early as Monday.  I love fresh veggies and she now has me yearning for the fresh feasting to begin.

Finally this weekend, unbelievable news hypes about stories I could care less about will end.  The LaBron James choice of Miami ended that "Who really cares?" mess as we'll probably see him a huge loser next year.  And Sunday the other "Who really cares?" one, the World Cup of Football (international soccer) will end.  I haven't watched second one of that series, yet; and there's a 100% chance I won't Sunday, either.

We're finishing up a slow week.  I hope the coming one will bring us some activity.  I hope you enjoy your weekend and stay dry.  And cool.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I don't like heat!

We've been through a rather uncomfortable weather period here on Gator Land.  In fact, much of this part of Maine has had the same experience.  Heat and Humidity.

I'm not personally constructed to handle that combination and have found the past few days to be just awful.  Technically, I guess, officially we have not had a heat wave.  According to Kevin Mannix on WCSH6 TV, we must go through three successive days of 90 degrees or higher temperatures.  Our region, according to the "official" temperature site, hasn't.  I don't know just where that official site is, but I suspect it's the Jetport.

However, UNofficially, the Gator Place has been in a big heat wave.  We hit 90, actually the mid 90s, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.  Perhaps the weather people would say we don't qualify, but my mind and readings sure do contradict "official."

Even worse, the humidity has made life extremely uncomfortable, especially if one needs to go outside.  Fortunately for the Gators, Dude and Wife, we had central air conditioning installed back in the mid 1990s.  So our little place has been air conditioned.  That doesn't help, though, when we have to go outside for necessary tasks.

Tuesday did its part for an official heat wave.  Portland had a record 95 degrees which broke the old record by four degrees.

Joe Cupo, the chief meteorologist at WCSH6 said Tuesday evening that we are in for more oppressive temperatures right into the weekend.  He was forecasting 80s and low 90s continuing, so perhaps we'll get that heat wave after all, although not everyone will hit the 90s.  I think I might be among those who hope my area is among those "not everyone" places.  And it could be; the lower temperatures were for areas along the coast.

But, the humidity will continue through the period, so the Gators probably won't be doing much.

I did have one accomplishment Tuesday, however.  In spite of the weather I went to my senior fitness session and completed some workout situations.  I did cut some of the activity back as my age dictated that I not overdo in the heat.

It'll be personally interesting to see what Thursday's session will bring.
What does that leave the old Gator to do this week?  Simple.  Be lazy.  And I'm succeeding.  Therefore, I don't have anything to offer you today to stimulate your thoughts.  Stay cool.  This weather is supposed to break over the weekend.


Monday, July 5, 2010

For many, more holliday weekend

The Holiday Weekend continued Monday for many people.  For state workers and other government workers, it was  regular day away from the job completing a four day weekend.  Most of those state employees, however, probably didn't enjoy the first day as it was a forced, unpaid day off to help pay for the state's huge budget deficit.

Some companies and small businesses also remained closed Monday, but not the supermarket for which Gator Wife works.  She was at her part time job preparing sandwiches and salads so others could have good meals, many of them picnics or days at the beach.

Tuesday, the normal week begins once again and now we all look forward to the next holiday weekend which doesn't come until September.

There was one terrible report in the news over the weekend as a breakdown of the new taxes and tax increases we'll be facing next January was made public.  All these tax increases are from the federal government and include increases in income tax levies with higher rates and fewer deductions as well as new taxes to pay for the new federal health care plan.

I read about them on the Drudge Report and we are certainly in for some change.  I'm not sure we're going to like those changes.  I don't know if it's still there or not, but a Google search probably could get you links to the increases.  They are going to be eye-catching and shocking.

We also learned over the weekend that our state government is faced with another budget crisis.  Because certain bills have not been passed in Congress, at least yet, Maine's hoped for increases in Medicaid payments will not happen.  Unless Congress changes its collective mind, that will mean another huge cut in the state budget for this fiscal year which has already begun.  Early reports indicated education will take the biggest hit.

Those local education budgets are already what school officials call "bare bones."  According to several administrators quoted over the weekend in various sources, if those cuts do materialize, it could mean the cutting of programs and personnel.

Speaking of cutting personnel, how about that specious employment report released over the weekend.  Government officals were praising their own actions as the jobless rate dropped from 9.7% to 9.5%.  Looks good on paper, but one had to read lower in articles to see that in reality, a lot more people lost their jobs than were hired in the period.  The drop resulted not from greater employment but rather from workers dropping out of the job market.

Much of those dropouts were the result of Congress not extending workers' compensation benefits and many laid off workers were no longer eligible to receive aid.  Many of them simply have given up.  If not working to find a job, one is not counted in the unemployment rate, thus last month's cut.

And so it goes.  One can only wonder when, if, it all will finally get turned around.  I certainly don't believe raising taxes will be an answer.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, America!

Today we celebrate our nation’s birthday so I resurrected today’s tribute from our July 4th post in 2008 and made some slight modifications.  (You can see that original post here.)

Many folk use this day not only to honor America but also to celebrate with family and friends together. The Gator clan will be having its cookout this evening. Celebrations will be held about anytime from noon on and many folks will head out for some spectacular fireworks demonstrations. I understand the fireworks display in Portland will be held as scheduled, weather permitting, thanks to the generous donations of area business folk. Unfortunately, the economy has stopped or slowed down celebrations in many communities around the nation.
On this day, we celebrate the 234th year of the Declaration of Our Independence from England. We thank and honor all those who have come before us and those during our time that have made sacrifices to make sure our Freedoms long endure. So on this day, let’s all join in and sing Irving Berlin’s immortal “God Bless America”:

God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains To the prairies,
To the ocean white with foam
God bless America,
My home sweet home.

Happy Birthday, America!


Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Holiday Weekend

We begin another weekend, the first one in July.  This weekend is just a little different than most, however, as we celebrate a holiday.  We salute all the wonderful young men and women who are spending this holiday doing their best to be sure we can have more.  Sunday we celebrate the birth of our nation.

Along with the normal holiday fare, we are going to see some heat.  The weather forecast is calling for temperatures to reach into the upper 80s, possibly even into the 90s in some areas, Sunday and probably into the 90s in most areas Monday.  Wow!

The Gator Clan will probably perform a few weekend-type duties, like Gator Wife and Gator Daughter checking on the crops while The Old Gator Dude keeps an eye on the two Golden Retrievers that are part of our combined family.

Seaking of the Goldens, in the last post I had a picture of Gator Golden paying strict attention to a nearby chipmunk which was just outside GG's Invisible Fence.  That was the best picture in the series I was able to capture, but here is another:
She's hoping beyond hope the chipmunk will make a mistake.  Of course, it didn't.

This weekend will be an especially happy time for one member of our family.  Our niece, the daughter of GW's brother, and a Scarborough police officer will become a married couple Saturday.  That wedding, of course, is high on our weekend agenda.  We sincerely wish the greatest and longest happiness of the young couple as they enter this new phase of their lives.

GW and I like ice cream.  I'd bet most people do.  We've been seeing an advertisement of the TV lately for a new cone from one of the larger ice cream and other dairy product companies.  The picture of the treat on the television shows a nice waffle cone with a huge amount of ice cream showing above the cone and some chocolate peanut butter cups on top.  It is dripping with chocolate and caramel sauce.

It looked delicious so GW brought a box home for us to try.  Except that all that ice cream above the cone apparently didn't quite make the cones we bought, the ice cream was typical of that company:  Pretty good.  The caramel swirl ice cream inside the cone was nice and those little cups with a small amount of chocolate sauce on the top were just about as we expected:  good.

Basically, the ice cream sundae part of the cone was very good.  But that waffle cone, now that's another story.  It may have been the singularly worst waffle cone I've ever had.  GW said about the same thing for hers.  It had the consistency of wet cardboard.  Too bad.  We decided that box of those cones will be the last this house will ever see.  The box, incidentally, held five cones.

Finally, another gripe.  Google hosts this blog and makes the space available to bloggers free.  I'm happy with that but now must take a chance of getting the company angry with me.  Although I do have my own web domain, in fact I own four of them, I use the Google News page as my home page.  I've spent quite a while customizing it to present to me the news I want.  Google, you see, spans the world looking for key words in news articles and making those articles available.

Thursday my home page looked totally different.  Google, in its collective wisdom, decided that it knew more of what I want than I do.  Although the custom series I want can still be generally accessed, my home page is no longer laid out "my way."  And that new page is loaded with 80% of news I have zero interest in.  The layout has also changed from neat sections to a crowded page.

I hate it!

I can't really complain because the price is right, but I sure do wish Google would give me the option to return to a functional page I can use rather than the dysfunctional one it thinks I need.  I found a short section on the Google site of comments on the change.  At the time I read them, not one person had a good word to say about it.

Perhaps I'll have to return to one of my own home pages once again.

By the way, I mentioned my feelings to my Fearless Friend.  He also uses the Google News page.  He wasn't as unhappy with the change as I said I was, so I'd have to admit the negative feelings of that change are probably not universal.

Enjoy your holiday weekend.