Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A political thought or two

I'm a little bit late getting started this Wednesday morning.  No excuses.  Perhaps I could use my difficulty in coming up with a topic as an excuse.  Or perhaps it's because I was up a little later than usual last night.  And it was an unhappy outcome; the Florida Gators lost the College World Series baseball championship to defending champion South Carolina.  At least an SEC team won.  So, I'm just a little bit late getting started.

I mentioned last week I'd give my opinion on the current Maine Legislature.  That'll wait a little longer as the session is continuing.  It should end either today or Thursday.  Right now I'm thinking it was only a so-so legislative session.  I do think it proved something I said early on.  Republicans have no clue on how to run a state and, if they do have ideas, have no intestinal fortitude to fight for what's right.

Maine voters, at least according to my interpretation which is far from authoritative, made a drastic change last November in both houses of the legislature and in the governor's office and put Republicans in control after about 40 years of Democratic domination, domination I think has led this state to near collapse.  But those Republicans kept members of the "Old Republican Guard" as leaders who had been a part of the Democratic resolve of years past. 

In spite of some accomplishments, that "change" I think the voters had demanded has not happened.

Perhaps I'll get into my interpretation of the truths at a later time.  I do recognize there are more than one version of "the truth."  Even members of the same parties see those truths differently, but my version says the Legislature was so-so at best.

The Legislature yesterday did have a couple accomplishments with which I agree.  Traditionally, although certainly not 100% of the time, when the people present a petition to get something done, the Legislature has sent the proposal out to the voters for approval.  Citizens petitioned for new gaming facilities in Lewiston and Biddeford.

There had been some speculation that since voters had approved gambling in recent years, the Legislature might just give its approval this time around.  A facility in Washington County, which voters had rejected earlier, tried to join Lewiston and Biddeford for Legislative approval.  Biddeford was seeking approval on the basis of a favorable "Racino" statewide vote a few years back as Scarborough Downs, which was rejected in its town proposed to move to Biddeford.  Lewiston and Washington County thought the statewide approval of the Oxford County casino would give them a leg up.

The Legislature, however, maintained the tradition of sending citizen initiative requests out to the voters again.  That vote will take place in November.  The Washington County proposal, not a citizen initiative this time around, was simply rejected.

Possibly the governor's threat of a veto if those initiatives were not sent to the voters played an important and powerful part in the Legislature's decision.  The downside, I guess, is now we're going to bombarded...again...with those gambling campaigns.  I will remain consistant in my vote.

Another measure approved yesterday is one I think I agree was a good decision.  Up to ten Charter Schools will be allowed in Maine giving families choices of where their children will attend school.  As I understand the new law, funds for education will follow the child rather than just go to the community in which the child lives.  Therefore, local public schools face the possibility of losing some funding.  I guess I'll have to wait until we start seeing results and improved education before I can make a definitive decision.

Finally, there is a "People's Veto" attempt underway.  The Legislature and the Governor have approved a measure to end voter registration on election day.  The veto supporters say this will disenfranchise some people.  I totally disagree as there are many ways to register to vote without waiting until election day.  I think the proposal will just eliminate the temptations of what one Democrat leader said, "There's always a potential for political mischief." 

Another item that could have helped eliminate that political mischief was eliminated from the bill.  That provision would have required identification to vote.  Again, opponents cited "undo hardships" as a reason against the provision.  Considering all the times I have to identify myself before doing something such as cashing a check, getting a new license, buying a beer at the Sea Dogs games, and on and on, makes that "hardship" argument rather specious.  The only "hardship" I can think of is that provision would have prevented some of that "political mischief."  Perhaps there's a certain element of our society that believes it can't win elections without it.


Monday, June 27, 2011

"I'm in Michigan!"

I had a great, new experience over the weekend.  Earlier this month Gator Wife and I purchased a new stove for our home.  It's a pretty fancy one and much more versatile that the 16-year-old one it replaced.

Replacing a stove, however, isn't necessarily a great experience.

The package that came with the new stove contained an offer from the manufacturer for some neat things that enhance the device.  A couple of those things caught our attention and we thought we'd like to have them.  An on-line order site was provided so I pulled it up on my computer.  The things were there, but I'd defy anyone to figure out how to order.  I did select one of the items and clicked "Add to cart."  Nothing happened.  I tried again, this time double-clicking.  Nothing.  I wasn't going to get this neat stuff on line.

In that infamous "fine print" was a disclaimer that said the offer could be withdrawn at any time and without notice.  I accepted that as telling me the reason I couldn't order on line was simply because the offer was no longer valid.  So, I decided to see if the item we wanted was available locally. 

I no longer prowl stores because walking is a problem, but I did check local outlets on their web sites.  My want could be fulfilled for just $34.95 as opposed to the $9.95 in the offer that came with the stove.  That wasn't acceptable.

There was a telephone number included, so, "What they Hey!" I decided to call the number.  Then the really neat experience.  The person on the other end answered with, "Good morning, you've reached the xyz corporation and my name is Beverly.  I'm located in Michigan.  How may I help you?"

It was that "I'm located in Michigan" that really caught my attention.  All of a sudden, this was going to be a great call no matter how it turned out.  She was pleasant, sounded like she knew her job, and I couldn't hear the notebook pages turning in the background.  When I explained my dilemma, she was a good company person and apologized for the web site, and then said there should be a promotion code on the offer form.  I gave it to her and within a couple seconds, she said it was still good.

I placed my order, got the order number, etc., and thanked her for being in the United States.  She chuckled and said most callers seem to like that.  And I didn't have to say, "I'm sorry, I didn't quite understand that." once.  Even the "on hold" music was superior.

I put that company's order phone number in my phone list and when I need more items for my kitchen appliances, that'll be the first one I'll call. 

It was just a good experience.

And another good experience.  You may remember after Labor Day I mentioned that Gator Daughter had found a new bakery and bought me one of my favorite treats for our Dad's Day meal.  It was a raspberry cream from Piscopo's Bakery now located in the Highland Avenue Greenhouse and Farm Market in Scarborough.  Guess what's in this morning's Portland Press Herald and on the Portland Press Herald web site.  Yes.  A story about Piscopo's Bakery.  You can read it here and it includes a picture of that raspberry cream.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Inspired by another blogger

The beautiful arrival of summer a few days ago has quickly dropped back into the stuff we seem to have experienced for the most of the spring season that just ended.  Some rain, some drizzle, some scattered showers, and some thunderstorms/showers have once again taken over our area.

And I'm selfish, my body doesn't like any of it.  At least we have some hope for improvement beginning Sunday into next week.  But it seems like weather forecasts change with each rendition.

I've been retired for 15 years and no longer have to attend mandatory meetings that totally wasted my time.  But I do remember those painful sessions which most attendees honestly believe are solely for the purpose of giving boss types and management types an excuse to exist.  I was told once that one of the purposes of the meetings was to give us peons a feeling of belonging, a feeling that we were contributing to the decision making process.

I can't say nothing had ever come from these meetings, but I'd be very hard pressed to remember any changes or improvements as a result of them.  Not one of us required to attend one particular session will ever forget it, and I must say right up front, it wasn't necesssarily typical.

At least a hundred of us assembled to hear one of those high priced consultants give us an inspirational talk about something, and I honestly don't remember what it was.  In fact, at the end of the seemingly three-day speech, only two or three people could remember its topic.  In the first five minutes, I started chuckling under my breath while watching the attendees' heads in that "I'm fighting sleep" nod.  After another five minutes, very few were even trying to hide their dozing.  Even people sitting in the front row were long gone into dreamland.  I don't remember much further than that.

During the next hour when consciousness almost returned, we were able to notice that the speaker was just droning on and on, apparently oblivious to the reaction of all those people facing him.

I could tell you many stories about these sessions, but one thing we didn't have to endure was what apparently is the modern meeting.  Apparently management puts meeting material on computers via something called Google Docs or the like.  I've never experienced them so can't comment on those, but a fellow blogger has posted a good report of one such meeting she had to attend, and it seems to support my memory of meetings.

Sheepish Annie is a teacher in Southern Maine and you can read her account here.

Not all meetings are bad, however.  Occasionally some are held to teach participants a new skill or technology.  Most of those meetings, at least the ones I attended, were voluntary with a specific purpose.  It was through some of those meetings that I learned about computers way back in the early 80s.  I eventually became a computer network administrator.

I hope you have a super weekend.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's Summertime!

Summer has arrived.  It rode in yesterday shortly after one PM and what a glorious beginning it was.  The sun was bright, the temperatures were in the 80s, at least here on the swamp, and there was little or no humidity.  It was, as they say, a picture perfect day.

Wednesday will also be a nice day, but the temperatures probably won't make it to the grandeur of Tuesday.  And then, we told by people who make a living prognosticating the weather, the weather will be going downhill for a few days.  I can't complain too much about rain.  Our vegetables love it.  Most things that grow in the ground seem to be able to differentiate between natural and chemically-treated water.

I haven't been able to take pictures of Gator Golden recently because, as I've explained, that crummy view screen doesn't like sun.  Well Tuesday, while Gator Wife was outside tending to her gardens, GG found a nice shady spot under an old elm tree and simply took advantage of the great weather, the outdoors, and the shade to make sure GW did her work just right.
She still doesn't understand her leg is continuing to heal and she can't run like she used to, so when GW is outside working, she continues to tether the dog to keep her from chasing a squirrel, or a brown truck in the neighboring driveway, or a chipmunk.  GG doesn't seem to mind.  At least she's able to keep her 'mommy' in sight, and that's all that's really important.

As you can see, too, because of her lack of running thus exercising, she's beginning to show her age, too.

I told you about all the Rachel calls the other day.  Well, we got another anonymous call on the Caller I.D. Monday night.  "It's just Rachel," I announced to GW.  Surprise, surprise!  It wasn't Rachel.  I can't tell you who it was because I didn't listen long enough to find out.  It was from Washington, D.C. so I'm assuming it was some sort of political solicitation.  The 2012 elections are still a year and a half away and already we're getting those annoying telephone calls.

Telling politicians, or their surrogates, not to call is a waste of time as they exempted themselves from the "do not call" list.  I think I might adopt a different tact.  If the call is a robocall, I'll just hang up; but if a real person is on the other end, I'll find out the person or organization being represented and thank the caller for giving me an excuse not  to vote or support the candidate or organization.

Shucks.  Be the time November, 2012 rolls around, I might not have to even go to the polls.  There won't be anyone left for whom to vote.    Hmmmm.  I'll have to give this idea some thought.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Aaah! The much traveled Rachel!

I heard from someone who's becoming quite familiar to me over the weekend. Rachel called. I'd be just a little surprised if you didn't know who Rachel is. She is the well-traveled representative from a company called something like "Credit Card Services." She's the one who starts off by telling me there's no problem with my credit card, but she would like to give me a lower interest rate.

Rachel has called me from all parts of the United States and even Canada. The most recent calls from Rachel were this weekend, one day from Florida and the next just a day later from Texas. Before that, she was in Colorado. There have been several others, also, including New Brunswick. Once she was in California. The message never changes, but I'm surprised that her voice changes as she travels from place to place. And boy, she surely does get around. Rachel, incidentally, is a recording and a little different playback system at various locations most likely accounts for the voice change. She uses a cell phone to make the calls.

I sort of feel sorry for Rachel as she has never gotten through to me with a complete call. Somehow, my finger slips to the "End" button before poor Rachel has completed her spiel. She did give me the option once of pressing, I think it was either "9" or "0" to learn more. I also tried to explain to her once that since I never pay interest charges, I really don't care what the rate is. But, alas! I guess recordings have a hard time hearing. When I see a suspected number on the caller ID, I probably should just ignore it, but it's more fun to look, tell Gator Wife, "It's Rachel!" and then answer to confirm my guess.

Sticker shock of sorts. I bought my heating oil for next year. The only good thing I can say about it is at least I won't have to worry about being warm next winter. If you haven't received your letter or made your pre-buy yet, be prepared for shock. If this continues, I don't know how I'll manage the following winter.

I watched Meet the Press on NBC Sunday. The program has been on, I think, since time began. I do know it has been around for as long as I've been interested in so-called news programs. There have been many super moderators. Well, perhaps not quite so "many" as it is one place where good news people tend to stay for a long time. I have found myself watching it less and less over the last year or so. It is almost painful watching the current moderator not listening to responses yet trying to form questions to stick with his agenda, along with his own comments, for the guests. He certainly isn't in that "super" category and makes it really easy to skip the show.

Father's Day came and went. It was a good one here on the swamp. Gator Daughter fixed one of her great outdoor cooked meals, but the highlight was a treat she brought with her. It has been an awful long time since I had a good raspberry cream turnover, one of my favorite treats. Most of the good bakeries around here have gone out of business; and although the few remaining still sold the treat, the quality wasn't near (and the price far exceeded) what the old time bakeries use to offer.

GD discovered that Highland Avenue Nursery (about a block or two from Pleasant Hill Road on Highland Avenue here in Scarborough) has joined with one of those old time bakery owners, a baker named Piscopo and I'm sorry I remember not his first name, to offer some of his famous offerings. She found those raspberry cream turnovers I loved so much. They were very large, very full, very flaky, and made this year's celebration a Special Father's Day.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Weekend

We dads get to be honored, somewhat, this weekend. Apparently I haven't been quite as observant about the wonderful things we can do or get being fathers as other holidays seem to bring to others. I haven't seen much advertising about all the super specials offered to the offspring to honor their dads. I'm not going to go so far as say there has been none, because I'm sure they've been there. I just haven't seen them.

Now that's no big deal. Dads come to learn they're not the most important element of family life. Moms still continue that role, as they should. Nevertheless, my day won't be a total loss. Gator Daughter, I suspect, will give me her time and will undoubtedly prepare a delicious mid day lunch for all of us to enjoy. I'd be surprised if, weather permitting, that lunch doesn't involve something from the grill. She fixes delicious stuff on the grill.

It's been 35 years since I've had a Dad to honor. Unfortunately for me, he wanted to remain in his adopted home Florida when he passed, so I don't get to visit his resting place very often. But the lessons he taught me in my formulative years and even continuing into my forties continue to guide me today. Those lessons are among the reasons Gator Wife and I will be celebrating 50 years together later this year.

Perhaps the biggest lesson was the one concerning personal decisions. He taught me, as I'm sure many dads tried to teach, to ask a simple question as I was deciding to do something. "How would I feel if Mom or Dad walked in right now?" If the answer were, "Probably embarrassed," then it would something that needed more thought. Mom and Dad wouldn't walk in on me any longer, but I do know they are watching carefully and thus still guiding me from wherever they are getting their final rest.

On another topic, GW and I were listening to the police monitor Thursday. A call went out for units to repond to a moose on the loose in the Cabela's parking lot in Scarborough. The irony of ironies: This is the weekend that the store is holding a moose hunt permit auction. Friday morning, the TV news had pictures of the moose roaming through the parking lot. One might conclude that the moose was holding a protest march against the auction permit this weekend.

I hope all of you dads will have a super weekend and that your families present you with all you deserve for being a dad.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A little sports talk (B's are Stanley Cup Champs)

As Wednesday arrived, the Red Sox are still the best in all of the American League and still on top in the AL East, but the lead has shrunk just a bit, by one game.  (Edited Wed night:  Boston held on to its position as AL best with a 3-0 win over Tampa Bay Wed. night.)   Philadelphia (Edited Wed afternoon:  The Phillies won again today, beating Florida 8-1.) now has the best record in both leagues.

When this day is over, a new Stanley Cup Champion will have been named in NHL hockey.  (Edited Thurs. AM:  And that Champion is the Boston Bruins.  They beat the Vancouver Canucks 4 to 0 in Vancouver last night.)  It's the final game of the year and it's between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks being played in Vancouver.  It would be great if the Bruins win, but I must admit I won't see any of the game.  In fact, I don't normally watch two of New England favorite sports, the Bruins being one and the Celtics being the other.

My problem with hockey is the speed of the puck on the ice.  I also don't like what I think are cheap hits that go unpunished and with those that do get mild punishment.  Hockey on ice officials simply can't see enough to make good calls.  Too many times they catch something out of the corner of their eye and turn to look in time to see the retaliation. 

Reads like I'm knocking the refs, doesn't it?  That's not my intention.  I have been a sports official (baseball and swimming) in my other life and understand the difficulty of officiating.  It's a whole lot easier to make a call from a distance sometimes than when one is just a couple feet away from the official.  It always amazes me just how more often an umpire is correct than wrong in a close call.  And most of the time when the replay shows a bad call, that call was really rather obvious from afar.

I really like it when officiating crews get together, mostly in the youth and college sports, to discuss a call to do their best to be sure the call was correct.  National Football League officials do that frequently, also.  Speaking of the NFL, when both a college game and an NFL football game are on at the same time, the college game (especially if it's the Gators) wins out.

Usually it is the officiating that causes me to turn away from NBA games.  I absolutely do not understand the pro basketball rules.  Obvious charges, pushes, shoves, interferences, hits, etc., are left alone while a slight touch of a hand check gets a foul.  And where else can a player required to dribble a ball to move start at the half court line, pick up the ball, run to the basket, and get away with it?  Or take four or five little steps (without the pivot foot being planted) while under a basket.  I rarely watch pro basketball.

Now that doesn't mean I don't like basketball.  You've read here for a long time how much I look forward to the great high school tournaments we see on the tube each February.  I continue to watch nearly all the games in youth league (Little League, for example), high school, and colleges that get broadcast.  I don't watch soccer and a couple other sports, either, but not because they're dull; I simply haven't studied them enough to really know what's going on.

I didn't watch the Bruins last night, but I am happy  they came home from Vancouver with the Cup.  Congratulations to the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Some more This and That!

As we begin this third week in June, can you believe just which Major League Baseball team has the best record in the entire American League? Who'd a thunk that after that unbelievably bad beginning last April the Boston Red Sox would have worked themselves to the top of the American League East and have fewer losses than any other American League team. In fact, only one National League team, the Philadelphia Phillies, has a slightly better won/loss average than the Sox, but both teams have the same number of losses.

The Sox now seem to be in that groove most baseball watchers thought they'd in when the season began.

The Gators are heading for the College Baseball World Series in Omaha. Guess where my sports station will be tuned beginning Saturday.

Although there was perhaps too long a period of it, the weekend rain was just what was needed to put some natural moisture into lawns and gardens. It was kind to me Saturday morning and stayed away just long enough to get my yard mowed. Just as my tractor was rounding the corner heading for the garage, the first drops began to fall.

Combined with the previous week's sunshine, the rain did spring my vegetables into life. We have several planted around the swamp, all were planted just two weeks ago. All of them are now showing much more promise than we saw all last season. Methinks in another few weeks, if the night stalkers keep away from them, we'll be eating more fresh vegetables than we had all last year.

I saw a commercial for an item that looked really useful over the weekend. The item was being offered for $19.95 plus shipping and handling. In the fine print it was explained that S&H would be $15.95. So now that $20 item was up was up to $35. Then, I could get a second one with my favorite come-on, "free." All I would have to do would be to pay the S&H. That's $16 for a "free" $20 useful gadget. Or, more accurately put, about $50. I'll bet thousands of the items will be sold. Except one won't be coming here.

Speaking of commercials, I'm finding myself further and further out of sync with today's culture. I saw at least three of them yesterday when I looked to Gator Wife and asked, "What in the name of Heaven was that about?" She had no clue, either. I guess I'm among the people that today's ad writers care little or nothing about. An ad I can't understand, or one that is just plain unimaginative for that matter, is just a total waste of the comany's money.

By the way, you businesses, there are many of us who still don't do Twitter or Facebook.

Since I'm apparently on a negative kick, I have to wonder if television news programs honestly think that cutesy gimmicks really fool the viewers. All those spinning graphics do, you know, the ones that give us pertinent information like "In Augusta," is stall for time. They really don't hide the fact the stations have no news to report. Feature after feature, but news? Precious little. And most of what little they do have has been handed to them in a press release of some sort.

And I just hate those dumb white lines that go in circles on weather maps. Even Channel Six has been using them lately. I see absolutely zero difference between their use and non use, except, of course, they distract the viewer.  Nothing changes on the map.

Fool 'em. That's what we'll do. The stupid viewers will think we're really good.

I'd rather see some real reporting.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

These weekends seem to be coming quicker and quicker

One element of getting into one's mid-70s seems to be just how much faster the time passes than it passed when one was much younger. Now we still have the same number of hours/minutes in the day and the number of days in a week hasn't changed, but it sure does seem like the last nice weekend ended only yesterday; yet here another is.

After Thursday's heat and humidity, this cooler and less humid period will be welcome. From all I've heard, it should be a rather nice period of time even with those periodic possible scattered showers and thundershowers. (Edited Saturday morning...the morning's weather report has changed from yesterday. Southern Maine, including our area, appears to be in for some shower, possibly some rain, activity today and tomorrow.)

Newt Gingrich's presidential bid took a massive hit Thursday when all his campaign leaders/advisors, quit. I suspect there was a much deeper split than reported, but the simple reason was a disagreement in his recent policy statements and his recent decision to take a cruise vacation off Greece rather than go to New Hampshire or Iowa. Gingrich says he's going to continue his bid. We'll see, but I had decided long ago I wouldn't vote for him. I suspect his advisors also saw a growing list of people like me.

O.K., GiM, if not Gingrich then who? The elections are still a long way off...almost a year and a half. I still feel the way I have for the last many years, these darn campaigns begin way too early and I don't get excited at all about them this far in advance. Shucks, even the primaries are a year away. I haven't even come close to choosing my favorite. There are some I could easily lean toward if I were a "one issue" voter. I say "some" because various ones have said they were in favor of one of my issues. I'll wait for two things before I decide. The first wait will be for a lot of time to pass, possibly until next summer, so see just who is running; and the second wait will be to see which amasses the most "one issues" I want to see.

Speaking of election issues for that far away 2012 November, there's one that must be decided rather soon. A three judge Federal panel has said Maine must redistrict its congressional districts soon. One group had petitioned the courts to get that redistricting done now because the most recent census figures has changed the state's population areas. The other group, mainly democrats, wants to wait until after the 2012 elections. The court panel ruled Thursday that the change should take place now and put the process on a fast track to find an equitable way to accomplish it. I think I read that it must be completed by Jan. 1st to give potential candidates time to make decisions and get the election process underway.

This is only speculation on my part and I have no basis for fact, but it appears the democrats want to wait to protect their golden girl, First District Congress Representative Chellie Pingree. Her home town is one of the places that could be moved to the Second District. If that happens, she'd be out of a job unless she ran against another democrat favorite Mike Michaud, currently the Second Congressional District representative.

IF, and that's purposely a big "if," that redistricting takes place, then it could open up whole new possibilities for the First District. It remains an "if" because the democrats are arguing in court that the current districts are constitutionally acceptable.

And finally this weekend, the state could end up in the next couple of days with a new two-year budget. The Legislature's Appropriations Committee has unanimously passed one and the full legislature could be voting early in the week as the session is constitutionally scheduled to end June 15th.

I've already spoken on my feelings toward the Republican actions in this Legislature, as if anyone really cares how I feel. I might have further comment after adjournment.

Meanwhile, I hope you have another super weekend and all your activities are successful.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

At least it may only last today!

The temperature right now isn't bad; in fact it's in the mid 70s on the Gator Deck.  But move.  Just slowly walk from one place to another and see what happens to your clothing.  Here, the moisture just rolls down the back.  Even though the temperature will continue to rise for a while, probably into the 80s in our area, maybe even a low 90, it's that darn humidity that stifles all ambition.

And it has stifled mine.  Gator Wife doesn't go to her parttime job on Thursdays so both of us have decided that this is a day to just get caught up on a little rest, some reading (she does books but I mostly read news), and just concentrate on being comfortable.  Of course we do have that central air to help us out.

So that's the way it'll be on the swamp this Thursday.

This is also one of the days I seriously hope WCSH weatherman Kevin Mannix doesn't know what he's talking about.  He also says there are chances of strong thunderstorms, hail, wind, this afternoon.  The worst thing I saw on his little chart was a 96 temperature reading.  I think if that happens it will be well away from the coast.

His good news was that once this day is over, the humidity and heat will leave us for a while and tomorrow through the weekend should be rather nice.

I should change one observation I made earlier this week.  I had said that the Democrats rally around their own; and when one has an indiscretion like Congressman Weiner has admitted to, nothing really happens "as long as it doesn't affect his congressional duties."  I don't remember ever reading about Democrats throwing one of their own under the bus like they're now doing to Weiner.  I'm sure he's not the first, but I can name many who have received no punishment.

Even Maine's own Congressman Michaud has called for Weiner to resign.  Our other representative, however, has said Weiner's actions didn't affect his duties.

I think I don't understand the thinking of the Maine Legislature that killed a bill requiring people to use their gender specific rest rooms and not necessarily the one they "identify" with.  I think it might be cruel to make a teenage girl, for example, walk into a ladie's room to face a teenage guy in there.  It's a human rights issue, said the supporters of killing the bill.  Did anyone consider the human rights of that girl? 

We have a Republican majority House, and Republican majority Senate, and a Republican governor.  I wish someone would explain why the Democrats are in control.



I wasn't sure what today would bring or just what I might have to say, so I just posted this little piece of nothing to hold me over until I return from my senior exercise session.  I put these words down last night.  I'll probably update this with a new post sometime this morning.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We may be in for some oppressive weather

Methinks the weather just could be occupying the minds of most Mainers for the next couple of days.  We're told the heat and humidity could be moving in beginning today.  Coastal areas could be in the 80s today and then into the lower 90s for Thursday and Friday.  Inland area could reach the 90s all three days and the mid to upper 90s toward the end of the week.  Even worse, the humidity is expected to roll in beginning today and get very uncomfortable around here.

The weather people offer the usual plea:  Be sure to drink a lot of non-alcoholic beverages, preferable water, and take frequent breaks.  Check in occasionally on your elderly neighbors to be sure they're O.K. 

I can say without hesitation that this old body abhors all that humidity.  My little finger is already pointing south.

Thanks to a call I made yesterday and to the company that takes care of my full house air conditioning system, Gator Wife and I will be able to keep relatively comfortable.  I can say nothing but great things about Avery Family Fuels in Westbrook.  That firm installed my system many, many years ago and keep it up and running. 

Yesterday I called them to remind them my system hadn't received its spring service yet.  By early afternoon, the Avery truck was driving down my driveway and an hour later, all was working beautifully.  That company takes care of its old folk customers.  Probably its younger ones, too.

This day is not going to be a pleasant one.  I've got a couple teeth that want to go to tooth heaven and my upper denture is in need of a little growth.  I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy this experience.  At least it's not taking place in the arriving oppressive heat and humidity.

About all I can say about the Women's College World Softball Championships is the Gator Women gave it a heckuva shot.  They lost three games in the championship series, all to Arizona State.  The #1 Devils, as expected, won the CWSC.  Florida had to come out of the losers' bracket after their first lost to ASU, and very few teams, if any, have come from an early loss to win the world series.  Their first loss was last Friday and they had to win two games Saturday and another two games Sunday to get into the Championship series.  Because ASU was unbeaten, they only played three games over the four day series championships.  But the exhausted Gators just couldn't compete against a well-rested ASU Monday and Tuesday.  Congratulations to the Sun Devils for winning and "Good job!" to the 4th ranked Gators.

The Gator men continue their quest for for the College Men's Baseball World Serices Championships in the Super Regionals Friday morning.

And finally, in politics, my displeasure with the Maine Legislature simply continues.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Some rambling stuff

There's something about services that are interesting.  Sometimes they're great, sometimes not so efficient.

Take this morning, for example.  I've experienced both ends of that spectrum this morning.  On my way home from my normal Tuesday exercise routine at my senior fitness place, I had to stop at the local blood taking facility for a routine test.  Inefficiency prevailed there.  I took my number at 7:55 and was third in line.  Not bad.  I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  At 8:35 I was called in for the draw.  The person performing the task was excellent.  I felt nothing and it took longer for her to put the information on the vial than the time it took for the actual draw.  I was home at 8:45. 

I have no idea what took so long.  I was third when I arrived and when I left there were 11 now waiting.  I've never had to wait even half that long at the facility before. 

On the other end, with temperatures in the 90s forecast for later this week and my central air unit not yet serviced for turning on, I called the company and reminded them I had a contract but had not yet  been scheduled.  The scheduler was apologetic and asked if she could call me back.  She's going to try to get me worked in either today or tomorrow.  I can't ask for anything more.

Another topic.  I think that among the shallowest words one can hear on the telehone are, "Please hold.  Your call is important to us."  I've heard those words three or four times recently.  There are many other ways to put someone on 'hold.'  Sometimes you hear, "Please hold.  Our representatives are busy and one will get to you shortly."  I especially like the ones that tell me where I stand in the queue and about how long the wait would be.  And then there are those that give me the option of leaving my number and a representative will get back to me.  But that call is important to us.  If it were that important, the company would have enough people on hand to answer the phone.

How about that Weiner guy?  The congressman at first denied having phone sex, then said his account had been hacked, then it was a joke.  Yesterday he admitted it was all true and he had had several such calls.  But, he's a Democrat and those folk rally around their guys.  He says he won't resign over this scandal.  Yet when a Republican, and they're not perfect people either, gets involved in such scandals, that individual is out within a week.  There are, of course, a few exceptions, but those exceptions appear to be more one sided than two.

There just has to be a better way to resolve a divorce problem than murder-suicide.  Kids were left without parents as a husband shot his wife and then himself after he was involved in high speed police chase.  Very sad.

The Republicans in the Maine Legislature continue to baffle the people who elected them.  Sometimes their actions make me wonder if we really did elect Republicans to improve Maine or if a bunch of Democrats simply saw the handwriting on the wall in the last election and simply ran with an "R" after their names.


Monday, June 6, 2011

That was some ride Paul Revere made!

Now that was close to what a weekend should be in Maine.  Along the coast here, it was just a tiny bit cool as the sea breezes kept the air moving, but a wonderful weekend nevertheless.

I got a kick out of some headlines this morning.  Over the weekend presidential non?-possible?-candidate Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and former vice presidential candidate, responded to a question by a reporter than Paul Revere had warned the British as well as the Patriots of the impending fight. 

Well, those reporters apparently didn't know their history and probably basing their reaction on that Longfellow poem The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, poked all sorts of  bashing at Ms. Palin.  She, they said among other things, didn't even know American history.

Some news organizations decided to give it a check; and, lo! and behold! that dumb Palin was correct and all those reporters covering America got it wrong.  Revere apparently did warn the British after he was captured at the end of his ride.  One member of the main stream media, The Los Angeles Times, published its research results this morning.

We've known for a long time the political reporters covering America can't be trusted to either do the research needed to print the truth or even be honest in fairness, and now we've seen real proof.  Congratulations to the LA Times for breaking that mold.  (In fairness, I must point out I'm a retired member of the news media.)

The current session of the Maine Legislature is quickly drawing to a close.  It does have some work to complete this week and early next week, but this Republican remains rather disappointed with many of the results.  The Republican dominated Maine government had promised great things.  But then so did President Obama when he was just a candidate.  That never happened, either.  I think my preliminary grading of the Maine effort would be a reluctant yet kind "C."


Friday, June 3, 2011

An expensive lesson

I like weekends.  Gator Wife and I get to spend at least part of it with our daughter who  visits us and helps us take care of many things we're finding more difficult as age and health have begun to slow us down.  GD will be little surprised as her mother bought several more plants and things during the week.

This weekend won't be quite the same, however, as all but one of those purchases have been planted.  The one remaining is a rose bush, possibly the only bush I can identify by name, and the younger Gator will dig the hole for it.  Other than that, it'll be just a nice, cool, pleasant weekend.

I had a lesson on Thursday:  not watching out what's going on around you can be very expensive.  As those of you who read this with any regularity at all probably know, my lawn tractor, which serves as both a lawn mower in the spring to fall seasons and as a snow blower in the winter, has a bagging attachment.

The machine also has a safety device that shuts down the mower deck when the machine is put into reverse.  It is very easy to bypass that device, which I did Thursday as what I needed to do was vacuum up some of nature's debris from the driveway.  Unfortunately, the design of the tractor has the exhaust pipe in the front so the move through that type of debris going forward simply blows it around.  It does a great job of vacuuming in reverse.

A bag fell off the bagger.  I didn't realize it.

You'd be amazed what the blades of a mower deck can do to a grass bagger in just one or two seconds or less.  It sure wasn't going to collect any more grass.  Or anything else, for that matter.  There's a small chance I might have muttered a few very carefully chosen words under my breath.

The grass had no sympathy, however, and mowing had to be done.  So off to the dealer to buy a replacement bag.  I suspected it wasn't the kind of item they'd have in stock and I'd have to order one, but I was wrong.  "Sure," said the very helpful clerk after I explained my need.  And off he went for a new one.  "Happens a lot more often than you'd think," he explained, "but not usually while the machine is in reverse."

I won't shock you with the price, but it must be nice to be the manufacturer of bags that were designed only for one bagging device.

Nevertheless, the new bag is in place and the machine is ready for its weekend trip around the yard, but you can believe I'll be watching those bags a whole lot more carefully.

The weather reports sort of indicate this weekend will be mostly a nice one.  The report does indicate that we who live along the Maine coast (I'm just a few miles of it)  will be slightly cooler in the 60s than the warmth, in the 70s, you who live a little further inland will enjoy.

Have a great June weekend.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer is closing in

I'm not sure if I was punished or rewarded by the rain gods yesterday.  I've been saying recently that April and May were miserable months because of all the precipitation we received.  Yesterday I complained that June seemed to be starting out the same way.

So those rain gods either punished me for all the miserable weather talk or rewarded me for being such a great guy.  I'd probably be hard put to find anyone to agree with that last assertion.  Nevertheless, the storms which ravaged a pretty goodly portion of our state yesterday passed my little chunk of land on either side and left it dry.

It was strange looking at the radar and watching the storms dance by with one line just a few miles north of Greater Portland and a second one just a few miles south.  Our seasonal vegetable gardens were planted over the last weekend and we had been counting on the forecasted storms to provide them with some nourishment.  Now today we have to go out and find a way to provide that water ourselves.

That way won't be hard to find.  We do have a sprinkler system in place.

I have this "thing" about when to change clothes styles for various times of the year.  You know, like when I switch from winter jacket to a spring one and then to no jacket at all for the summer.  Once a switch is made, the change remains in effect until the next event happens.  You'd be amazed at how many times I've gone out in the 60 degree spring weather with a winter coat on.  I'm convinced that my consistency in these changes is a good part of why I rarely get colds or the flu.  And when I do get the sniffles, they don't last very long.  It's been a very long time since such weather events have put me down.

I'm just a little late this year, but yesterday I switched for the first time to my short sleeve shirts.  I think it was a mistake.  We didn't get rain, the morning was very cool here and my blood thinning medication caused me to be rather cool.  By mid day, however, the muggies had arrived and I quickly got very warm.  So maybe it wasn't a mistake.  In any case I won't be returning to long sleeves until next fall.

Now I'll bet that's information you've just been "dying" to read.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June arrives. Hmmmm. Same arrival as April and May.

We are still hoping June will be a much nicer month than April and May were.  They began with the threat of storms and that threat seemed to remain every day.  In fact, both were above average months in rainfall.  But we've been looking at that wonderful forecast for the first several days of June and got our hopes up. 

We awoke this morning with the possibility of showers or thundershowers, some extreme, rolling through this afternoon and evening.  So June threatens to start off like the last couple of months.   The potential good news is that we do have nice weather forecast, with, of course, those chances of occasional showers, at least through next weekend.

In the news this morning, the Lewiston based Lewiston Maineiacs, a member of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is no more.  Huge debts, according to the news reports, caused the team to be sold and then dissolved.  I guess I'm at least partially responsible for the team's demise.  I've never once attended one of their games.  It might appear, though, that I have lots of company in that responsibility.  To give the city credit, though, Lewiston did all it could for the team; unfortunately, it might appear that folk elsewhere, like me, didn't.

While we're on the topic of hockey, it also looks like the Portland Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen is leaving.  That's a good thing, not that he's leaving but rather that he's getting a new job he deserves as a head coach in the NHL.  The Pirates themselves are also looking for a new NHL team for an affiliation.  It looks like their current parent club, Buffalo, is getting a team closer to their home.  Probably just a coincidence but the rumors have the Pirates joining the Florida Panthers, the same team taking Dineen away from Portland.

One thing about retirement is the time to think about toys.  There are a couple I think I'd like to have.  The Smart Phone which I mentioned yesterday isn't one of them.  But I have been doing a lot of reading about the Apple IPad recently.  It just looks like it would be a fun tablet to have.  There are some new tablets scheduled to come out this year so I'll be patient to compare them.  The other item is a reading device.  The Amazon Kindle looks like a super one and I think it's possibly the most popular.  Its drawback is it's black and white.  The Barnes and Noble Nook is a colorized competitor.

However, I'm not like that car dealer owner whose wife apparently needs his approval to buy some shoes.  Shucks, no, it's more of a reversal here.  I'm not 100% sure I need Gator Wife's permission to make a purchase, but I'd sure discuss it with her first.  There is a small difference in these items.  GW wouldn't even discuss a "need" like shoes; she'd simply go get them.  On the other hand, those things growing in my wish list are simply "wants."  Two different categories.

Writing about that car dealer, though, has brought to mind it just might be typical.  Over the years GW and I have bought cars, we've noticed a distinct difference in the treatment of me by the various dealers and how she is treated.  She's a woman and not considered good enough to talk cars.  It especially came to light when she bought her last car several years ago.  I was with her and the salesman spent 85% if the time talking to me almost leaving her out of the discussion.  And if you're wondering, I pointed out to him several times she was buying the car, not me.

She used to take her car to the dealer for service.  She hated facing the service writer at the place she bought the car as she was made to feel like she was "just a woman."  That place is no longer in business so she went to the company that bought it out.  Twice.  She left that place both times feeling like she had been "taken for a ride" big time.  She has a different term for it.  I'm not a mechanic nor was I there so I don't really know if she was treated fairly or not, but she doesn't feel like she was.  And she'll tell anyone who asks why she says she will never again cross the threshold of that new dealership.

She now uses a Sullivan shop for her car needs and always leaves that place like she was treated very fairly and with respect a customer should get, male or female.

Our daughter has also stopped using the dealership where she bought her last car.  She says she feels the same way her mother feels about going to a dealership.  I explained to her she should have asked the owner for permission to buy some new shoes.