Monday, October 31, 2011

Yup! For most it certainly was a storm!

I don't think our weekend storm did exactly what the forecasters thought it would, but certainly some places in our section of the state picked up a substantial amount for an October storm.  I haven't seen any official words yet, but I'd be very surprised if in many places a record wasn't set for October depth.

The little plot of Gator Land didn't get very much depth, but we did experience some limb problems.  My unofficial ruler said we got about 1 5/8 inches.  That was on the front steps.  It could have been a wee bit deeper in other spots around the yard.  But not too far from here, reports of 4 to 8 inches were common and just a wee bit further were reports in excess of 20 inches. 

The heaviness of the snow did the most damage though.  Thousands lost power at least temporarily during the storm.  We had between 30 and 40 limbs come down in our yard, but none threatened any wires.  Knock on that wood, we didn't lose power nor cable nor internet nor telephone.  We've got our limbs dragged to our long driveway and hope we can get our neighbor, who has a one-ton dump truck, can take them to the disposable place for us.

The sun came out around lunch time Sunday and by evening much of the slush and glop had begun its trip to the never-never land.

It was, no matter where you were in Maine, or anywhere in New England for that matter, an October storm to remember.  Let's hope it wasn't any kind of harbinger of November and December and beyond.

A friendly reminder here, especially if you don't have tots at home and have forgotten.  Monday is Halloween.  It gets dark very early these days and the costumed kids sometimes are hard to pick up by drivers.  As you drive tonight, pay special attention to the roaming trick or treaters.  I don't know if the tradition has continued or not, probably in today's ridiculous politically correct madness it hasn't, but back a few years at least, when my kids were still in school, many youngsters of all ages dressed up in costume to wear to school. 

You might want to be watchful at bus stops and walking routes to and from school, too.  Excited kids aren't concerned about you; you must be concerned about them.

I did learn a lesson Sunday.  I headed outside when the snow was still creating a rather beautiful scene in our yard.  The maple trees in our front yard and put their limbs, at least the ones that stayed on the trees, all the way to the ground, just like they were holding up the tree.  The camera's battery was deader than the proverbial doornail.  Well, not to worry, I had another one inside.  It was, however, equally as dead.  No pictures.

As I thought back, I don't remember putting a charge on them since before we went to Branson, MO, last October.  And I know better than thinking an unused battery holds its charge.  Unfortunately for me, by the time I got one of them charged, there was no more picture opportunity.  It's really too bad for me.  I'd like to have a penny for every time over the years. my wife and I have commented on the absolute beauty of nature in all its destructiveness.

At least the storm did one good thing; it gave me time to do some research on next week's ballot.  Nothing national facing us, but we do have some statewide referenda, some county and local questions, and some people to put into various offices needing consideration.  My mind is made up on everything on our ballot; but in fairness, it has probably been made up on the question topics for quite a while.

I hope you have made yourselves equally as informed in your area.  Voting is one of the most important duties we have.  We'll probably take the opportunity to visit our town office sometime this week and cast our ballot.  After all, like every single voting age person in Maine, we don't have to wait until election day to register and vote.  And that, of course, is true even for anyone who has yet to register.

I also think...big word there, think...I've narrowed my list of Republican presidential candidates I hope to support to one.  So far, that person is not at the top of the polls.  But I still have the perogative to change my mind as the discussions continue.


Friday, October 28, 2011

We've made it into another weekend

3.  Edited Sunday morning (final edit for this storm) to comment on the storm and to replace all previous updates and comments.

We've made it into another weekend and it's the last one we'll face in October.  We did awake to somewhat of a shocker this Friday morning.  The weather forecast has changed a wee bit since yesterday.  Yesterday, a potential weekend storm was probably heading out to sea.  Today it's possibly going to give us one mighty smacking.

NewsCenter6's Kevin Mannix did say the "models" could change again before Saturday night and push the storm coming up the coast out to sea, but right now, he says, it's looking like we'll get three to six inches of snow Saturday night into Sunday.  Now we'll have to do as I said last time, we'll have to just wait and see what happens.  I used to like Kevin!

3.  Final storm update:  Here on the Gator Place only an inch or two of snow fell, but parts of Southern Maine had a bunch.  As of 7 AM, Shapleigh had the jackpot with 17+ inches and other areas got a foot.  There were many places with less than six inches, including our little plot of the state.  By sunrise this morning, well, by the time the sun should have risen, the storm had all but passed us by leaving just a wet, messy slop.  Much of it is already melting away.  Trees with limbs resting on the ground during the night have already returned to near normal, except we do have some limbs permanently down.

We were among the lucky ones as we didn't lose our electricity, but several thousand in our county and severy thousand more elsewhere in the state weren't so fortunate.  We are expecting some sunshine to return to the area this afternoon and the remnants of this storm will all be melted away almost as quickly as it fell.

Well, you wonder, where's a picture?  You can chalk this one up to the Old Gator.  It's been several months since he checked the battery in his camera.  Big boo-boo.  When he headed outside to take a memory of the storm, his camera just sort of chuckled at him.  The battery is now on the charger but by the time it's ready, there'll be no good picture opportunity left.  Lesson learned by the Old Gator.

And that ends this final storm update.  Now, back to the regularly scheduled Gator in Maine.  Can you tell I used to be a broadcaster?

Monday is a holiday of sorts, but not one of those legal ones that extends the weekend.  Monday is Halloween.  WCSH-TV played a very cute "ghost" story this morning, one I suspect will be repeated during the weekend.  It was a very well done report on "ghosts" haunting the Channel 6 building, mainly in the archives room and throughout the building.  Reporter Jackie Ward's eyes were perfect.  The famed "Maine Ghost Hunters" investigated and we'll see their report next week.

Halloween is a great time for the very young and the very young at heart.  It's kind of too bad that it can't be held on a weekend night, perhaps the last Friday or Saturday in October rather than Oct. 31st.  That would take some pressure off school kids about getting homework done, rest, and dealing with potential upsets tummies and getting up the next morning for school.  But then the date does have its own meaning so I'll just put this thought into the clouds.

One of the tough things about this last weekend is the thought that we sometimes get snow, real plowable snow, in November.  I'm hesitant to change my tractor over from lawn mower to snow thrower this early for a couple of reasons.  The leaves are still dropping off the trees in my yard and I use the lawn mower as a leaf vacuum.  We do have a compost pile for the leaves as well as grass clippings so there's some reason for my collections.  Speaking of grass, vacuuming the leaves also gives the lawn a little trim to keep it even before snow flies in earnest.  We have completed the winter fertilizer drop, though.  (If Kevin was correct this morning, perhaps I should take that changeover more seriously; but if we do get snow, it won't last long.)

The problem with not making the changeover is sometimes I get caught and have to do the task in much colder weather with snow already flying.  I know you may be wondering why I simply don't go out and get some shovelling exercise.  Well, my driveway is about 350 feet long.  Using my age and physical condition, I'd wonder if I'd make it through a whole storm.  So, we will put off the changeover for at least another couple of weeks.

We are also approaching Village Construction Time.  If you've followed me for a year or more, you know that every year the Gator Clan designs a Department 56® combination Victorian and Dickens villages.  It's a huge undertaking that we traditionally begin on Nov. 11th and complete it and light it on Thanksgiving Day.  Of course Nov. 11th is not only Veterans' Day but also is a special day for Gator Wife and me.  It's extra special this year so we may start the village the weekend before or the one following the 11th this year to be able to celebrate.  Then, of course, there's always the possibility that since both events, the special one and the village beginning, are so important in our lives that we'll stay on schedule and begin construction on the 11th.

It occurred to me the other day that I've mentioned the upcoming elections (Nov. 8th) once or twice here but have only focused on the statewide ballot questions.  We are also facing many other items on the ballots in many cities and towns.  Councilors, selectmen, school board members, county officials, and many other people are also on various ballots throughout the state.  Not all, of course, are on all ballots, but many places are choosing more than just voter registration procedures and gambling.

This was brought home to me Thursday when I read an article on line in The Forecaster, a weekly regional newspaper.  The article dealt with the selection of town councilors in my town, Scarborough.  It suddenly dawned on me I haven't paid enough attention to our local politics, and that's not a good thing.  Fear not, I'm not going into any local politics here, but just wanted to note that many of us in the state are facing local elections and ballot questions.  Among them here, for example, is whether we'll allow a 35ish million dollar bond for a new school.

We still have a week to familiarize ourselves with the local ballots and I urge you to do as I'm planning to do, some homework.  These local elections are equally as important, perhaps even more so in some places, as those statewide questions.  There's still time to learn what's on your ballot and your decisions could affect your life and/or your pocketbook.

I'd also remind you that in spite of the lies you see on those Vote Yes ads, you can register during next week and vote at the same time.  Of course, most of you are already registered.

I hope your weekend is a great one.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A little hopscotching around

1. Edited Thursday AM

Probably by the time you read this, we'll kinow for sure; but I didn't particularly like the weather forecasts for the past few days; However, this morning it has all changed, once again..  This is only October and there's SNOW already in the forecast.  Sure, the ground, especially here along the coast, isn't cold enough to have any accumulation, but I don't even want to see snowflakes flying around right now.  As I mentioned, it now appears that storm will pass us by and we won't see that snow after all.  Nevertheless, it's still too darn early to be scaring us. 1.  This morning's weather seems to be a little contradictory to the forecast we were getting yesterday.  Even snow flurries have returned to the forecast.  It was simply 'yucky' outside this morning.

Shucks.  The weather forecasts are so disturbing that one of my last-Wednesday-of-the-month (that, incidentally, is today!) lunch buddies is leaving Friday for his winter home in Florida.  Actually, it's his legal home as he headed south when he retired to get away from Maine's income taxes.  He's found lots of things he had in Maine not to be in Florida.  Automobile excise tax, for example.  On the other hand, he says some things are more expensive down there.  But there's no state income tax.

I'm not a police officer, never have been one, and the chances of ever being one are nil at best.  But I get a kick out of watching the brave officers on TV cops shows when they enter a place, especially a dark place, seeking out a villain.  I don't know if real cops do it or not, but I watch in amazement how they hold a gun in one hand right in front of themselves and a light of some sort in the other hand right in front of their head.  Every time I get to thinking just how nice and thoughtful it is for these TV good guys to give that waiting villain a clear, well lit target.  It is fun watching them.  And I think the method is used in every cop show on TV.

Election day is now less than two weeks away.  The gambling interests have already geared up big time to get you to vote to approve more gambling facilities in Maine.  One of the fun parts of all the activity, though, is watching them feud among themselves on questions 2 and 3 on the ballot.  I say it's easy to solve that conflict:  vote "no" on both.  The promoters, though, have seized upon a good theme during these economic times.  They claim gambling will create thousands of jobs.  Personally, I think that's a very dubious claim, but I have no statistics to back up my feelings.  All I can say is I have travelled around the country and at least driven through communities that have gambling facilities.  They haven't looked too prosperous to me.  Has anyone looked into the economic impact in other places?  If they have, I've missed it.

All that out of state money is working hard to get you to vote to repeal the new law that limits voter registration to take place before election day.  The arguments for repeal are so specious that I'd bet many people are believing them.  The new law simply does not limit anyone's right to vote.  Even if registering on election day is the only recourse for new voters or people who have recently moved, registration and voting can still take place the same day in early registration.  What the new law does do is give local officials time to confirm residency, something that can't happen with election day registration.  I can't help but wonder just what mischief repealers are planning for election day.

Sure, massive voter fraud hasn't been proven in Maine; but in Maine once a ballot is cast, it can no longer  be challenged.  Sort of limits the ability to prove fraud, doesn't it?

By the way, I wonder just how many really do have to register the same day anyway.  After all, only if you're a new resident, a recently moved resident, or one just reaching voter age do you have to register anyway.  For everyone else, once registered, it's for life as long as you continue to vote.

I think the new law is a good beginning to restoring the credibility of the election process.  I still wish it would take the next step and require identification and residency proof to vote.  Forty-four other states do not follow the Maine model.  Now why could that be?

If I lived in Florida, I'd never want to serve on a jury again.  A Florida judge has released the names and addresses of all the jurors in the Anthony murder case.  She's the one, you may remember, who was found "not guilty" of murdering her infant child.  Many folk didn't agree with the jurors and now their homes are being "visited" by reporters and such.  Those jurors made their decision on the presentation of the facts and not just "feelings."  They do not deserve having their lives disruptively invaded by reporters.  I'd find some way, any way, to get out of serving on a jury if I thought my participation would result in that kind of inconsideration.

WCSH-TV has made some minor changes in the background of it's new HD news programming.  I still find that background to be very dark and ugly.  I don't know what it's supposed to be, but it appears to be attempting to make it look like we're looking out a window at a city scene.  But, who am I?  I'm only someone who's watched that station's news for as long as I can remember.  Their HD set needs work.  By the way, the "Updates" during the Today Show were much better.  Had some light.  May be a wee bit too busy, but much better than the full news reports.


Monday, October 24, 2011

A fireboat memory

It appears cooler weather with some dampness is moving into our region. The weekend wasn't as nice as were told it would be and did you see the temperatures forecast for later this week? In the 40s.

The TV station I watch the most for news...hard to break old habits...began broadcasting in HD over the weekend. I sure do hope someone at the station notices that the dark blue background is, in my humble opinion, extremely ugly. I have no clue what it's supposed to represent. The commentators this morning said they're working on getting everything switched over so that soon we won't be faced with the narrower field stories. It's great to see them now in HD, but I sure do hope they change that awful blue background.

President Obama announced that the agreement signed by President Bush to have all U.S. troops out of Iraq at the end of this year will be honored. He said American troops will be home by the holidays. At first I was a little upset he couldn't say the word "Christmas," but in more thought, there really are many different holidays at the end of the year. Will this bring a peace to Iraq? We've already seen the answer to that one. Nevertheless, I'm glad we'll stop losing American men and women in at least one part of the world.

The Portland Fire Boat is in the news. Published reports say it was on a what some call a family/friends cruise on Casco Bay the other night. Other reports say it was a training cruise. Whichever it was it hit something in the water and an estimated 38 thousand dollars in damage resulted. At least a couple suspensions have resulted which might hint that it wasn't a training cruise.

It's really unfair for me to make judgmental comments on the situation because I wasn't there. All I know is what I've read in the newspapers and from very informal sources on the Internet. So I won't. But you know me, I love to reflect on past experiences. Some say it's my age that leads me here as the older we get the more vivid past events seem to get.

I've had trips on a Portland fireboat.

They weren't on the current, modern one but rather on a rather old boat used in the 1970s and early 80s. They were cruises sanctioned by those years' City Council and administrative officials of both the city, like the City Manager and others, and fire department officials. I had been invited along for this annual City Council tour of the Portland owned islands each summer. I don't know if those trips are still taken or not, but at the time councilors took this trip as an opportunity to discuss island conditions with the residents.

I was a reporter for a local radio station at the time and City Hall was on my beat. The Portland newspapers' reporter and I were always invited to join them. The trip was both informative as the source for several stories and pleasurable. It was kind of nice riding on the boat enjoying a can of Coke with the city's leaders. That's when one gets to really know the people making the decisions that affected all Portlanders.

What's all this got to do with the present fireboat controversy? Nothing. But reading about last week's ride by the reported family and friends of the crew simply awakened some memories of my other life.

As a true Gator, I have to congratulate possibly one of the best Gator football players in recent history in his first start of the season in the NFL. Tim Tebow led a huge comeback in the final 2 3/4 minutes to guide the Denver Broncos to an 18-15 win over the Miami Dolphins. The Broncs trailed 0-15 when the comeback began and ended with an O/T field goal. Sure, the Dolphins haven't been too good this year, but neither has Denver. Congrats, Tim, even though it wasn't your greatest or prettiest game ever.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I don't have much to offer this weekend, so I'll just mention a few things I find interesting. 

First, the weather:  We heard on this Friday morning's weather forecast that this weekend will be mostly sunny but sort of blustery.  The temperatures will be in the sixties, according to the reports, in many areas, but this could be the beginning of the end for those sixties' readings.

Kevin Mannix, the morning weather guy for WCSH6-TV, told us that beginning next week, highs will be mostly in the fifties and some of the higher elevations, like in our mountains and northern Maine, might even see some snow flakes.  He also indicated that this trend wasn't unusual for this time of year, so it looks like we can start looking for some colder weather to begin.

I don't think his forecast means absolutely no more warm weather this season, however.  I can't help but think back to a November some 50 years ago.  Gator Wife and I got a message from Heaven that we were making a good choice of selecting each other.  The temperatures were well into the 60s and the sun was shining brightly as we joined each other for a lifetime.  And there have been other Novembers with great temperature readings, too.  Each one has brought our conversation to the memory of November, 1961.  Yes, we're still joined.

We're not alone, of course, to reach that milestone.  My Fearless Friend and his wife also hit the 50 mark this past summer, and several of our "End of the Month Lunch" retired group have also hit that milestone this year.  1961 was a good year for more than that warm, sunny November day for us.  There's a possibility I'll have more to say on this in November.

On the politcal scene, the first part of the breaking down of the Obama jobs bill has failed in the U.S. Senate.  Since the total stimulus plan failed a while back, the Democrats had pledged to break it into sections and get it passed piecemeal.  No surprise here, President Obama blamed the Republicans for the defeat Thursday.  They were unanimous against it.  The Democrats just can't to admit it's simply a bad bill.  Perhaps it's time for the two sides to get together for some honest discussion and compromise in finding help to solve the economy.  Key word there, "honest."  Naw!  That's not going to happen.  The blame game will continue.

Did you see the article in the Friday morning Portland Press Herald and on MaineToday.Com, the newspaper's web site, about a new device AAA is giving its car insurance buyers to monitor the driving habits of their children?  The device plugs into the family car and works like a GPS device to allow parents to track their car and its speed when the kids are driving it. 

I don't know if this is a good thing or not, but it is an interesting one.  I'd like to think that if I had teenage kids in their earliest driving years that I'd have enough trust and faith in them so the device wouldn't be needed.  I'd like to think that if I had done my job bringing them up, I wouldn't need this thing. 

But then again, I sort of remember my teenage years when I was first driving.  Back then we didn't have to go through all the steps today's teens must take.  All I had to do was go into the motor division office, prove I was 15 years old (yes, 15), take the "E" test and the color test, anwer a couple legal questions and prove I could read the words "pedestrian crossing" on a sign.  I walked out with my license.

I honestly believe my mom and dad did a great job raising me with all sorts of fabulous ideals and ethics.  I never wanted to displease them.  I've mentioned my dad's lesson about asking myself how I would like it if either of them walk in on me while doing anything.  If I wouldn't be embarrassed in my feelings, I probably had made a good decision.  However, I honestly don't recall asking myself that question when I was driving.

I don't want to give you the impression I was a bad driver.  No teenager would admit to that.  But, well, there just may have been a time or two when I forgot a speed limit or that drag racing was illegal, or clowning with friends in the car.  Maybe those things might have happened, but naturally I don't remember them.  I can say, though, without any reservation at all that I never drove after or while drinking.  I simply didn't drink alcohol until I was in college.

I would not have wanted to have one of those AAA (American Automobile Association) devices in my car.  The thought of my parents keeping track through that spying might have destroyed my hope my parents' had (possibly misplaced) trust in me. 

How would I feel today if I still had teenagers?  Hmmm.  I do know that every time one of them borrowed my car I wasn't calm until they got it back home.  I didn't worry as much about my daughter, but perhaps I'd want a device if my son were in the car.  Perhaps.  It would take a lot of thought.

You can read about the device in today's (Friday's) and in the morning Portland Press Herald.

That brings us to wishing you an absolutely super weekend.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I don't like debates

The weather folk tells us we're in for a couple days of rain, some rather heavy at times.  We're told it'll all begin this afternoon and end Thursday morning, depending on where you live, or afternoon.  The accompanying winds will join the rain in raising havoc with our fall foliage.

I watched a Republican debate for the first time Tuesday night.  At least I watched part of a debate.  I'm not sure I'll watch another one, or at least part of another one, until the number of wishful people in the running is cut down.  We in Maine won't have any say until late in the process, and even could be voting for just one or two when our caucus arrives.

I don't know if it were typical or not, but I am sure if it was typical, we're in for a long election period and one that I suspect that will have the Obama people licking their chops.

Please don't read this thinking I'm going to be a reporter and give you "just the facts, ma'am, just the facts."  I say that only because some of you who know me know my academic work at Florida was in journalism and I spent 30 years as a part time reporter for a great Maine news outlet.

Nope.  These are just my reactions to the Las Vegas debate last night on CNN. 

Seven of the eight remaining candidates for the Republican nomination were there.  The eighth, Jon Huntsman, did not debate but rather spent his time in New Hampshire.

Probably not much changed.  Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney went into the debate leading in the polls and I suspect they came out leading, too.  Personally, Perry showed me he's just a little weak.  I always feel that anyone who can't let an opponent finish a point is too scared the point is correct so has to constantly interrupt to keep the point from being made.  Perry's biggest attribute was his bickering.

Romney fired back well enough, but what did we learn new about Romney? 

Cain was also on the defensive over his 9-9-9 tax plan.  He should be.  The more I hear about it the more I dislike it and he did nothing last night to prove it would work.  Basically, he wants to eliminate the existing federal tax code and replace it with a 9% income tax with no deductions, 9% national sales tax on all goods and services, and a 9% business tax.  We'd all pay higher taxes under his plan.  I think it was Rick Santorum who tore it apart the most.

Ron Paul demonstrated why he won't get the nomination.  He had a very weak appearance in my observations.  He did say all foreign aid should be cut, including aid to Israel.  He softened his stance a bit later, however. 

Perhaps the biggest applause from the audience came from several saying they would oppose cutting the defense budget as America must remain strong. Paul said he was opposed to just a percentage cut of all the budget but there are many elements within the budget that could be cut without hurting the country's ability to defend itself. He asked why we kept troops in Korea, for example, and in several other post around the world. He was generally against all foreign aid.

Perry jumped in telling the audience we should immediately stop funding the United Nations, and I don't disagree with that, and Romney said we should stop most all humanitarium funding to foreign countries.  He asked why are we borrowing money from China to send to other countries.  China, he said, should be doing the funding itself. 

Michelle Bachman jumped in on Israel.  She said President Obama has created the biggest gap in relationships between the U.S. and Israel since it became a state.  She said it is that gap that is causing all the conflict in the Middle East today.

One especially contentious exchange took place when Perry accused Romney of hiring a company to mow his lawn that employed an illegal immigrant.  Perry did all he could to outshout Romney's defense saying that when he learned that, he dismissed the company.  But it was, perhaps, one of the most contentious times of the night.

Well, perhaps not "the" most.  Romney was also under attack for his statement he would eliminate the Obama health care plan, commonly called ObamaCare, but others pointed out it was Romney's RomneyCare when he was governor of Massachusetts that was the basis for ObamaCare.  Romney said the plan, which many analysts say is an expensive failure in Massachusetts, like Dirigo was in Maine, should not be for everyone but that the states should decide for themselves the best way to handle health care.

Romney's religion, Mormanism, also came under attack by a member of the audience, but most of the candidates, if not all, said that religion had no place in the selection of a President.  The consensus seemed to be that a person's values should be more important.

It was a very contentious debate as I suspect most all of them are.  It was Newt Gingrich who pointed out that the road to the White House is not through bickering.  I think I liked that line as much as anything said last night.

So, I have watched my first debate of the season so I guess I'm not "into it."  I think I learned nothing I didn't already know.  I did get some reactions to the evening.  Of the front runners, both Cain and Perry dropped in my estimation and Romney stayed about where was began the night.  I feel a little sorry for Bachman, Gingrich, Huntsman (who wasn't there) Paul and Santorum. 

I think I'm still hoping that someone will come out of the darkness that can lead America.  Each passing minutes puts that possibility even more improbable. 

As I said earlier, this was not intended to be an accurate report of the debate, only my observations according to my values.  I know Romney has more space here, a violation of my JM training, but he was the one under constant attack last night.  I'll probably vote for the R no matter which wins the ultimate nomination simply because we desperately need change in Washington.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Jobs and gambling

That didn't turn out to be a bad weekend at all, especially here in my little piece of the state.  The sun began early Saturday and stayed right through the daytime Sunday, although there were quite a few clouds.  The wind, however, really did a number on the leaves.  Our trees are just about bare.  Fortunately, the sun allowed us to vacuum up most of them Sunday, but the lawn was already getting full again within an hour.  Some wet greeted us early this morning, but the sun will take over for today and Tuesday.  A heavy soaking will begin late Wednesday into Thursday.

I've got a couple questions about the racino question on the November ballot.  Jobs creation has been emphasized in the ads, but some things don't seem to get answers.  I don't have them, either, but it might be interesting to have them explained.  For example, of all the jobs being touted for the Biddeford part of the question, just how many of the 500 (or 800 according to one ad) construction jobs are new jobs, that is, jobs created for people currently unemployed?  Or are these jobs for people currently employed but being moved to that project?  Are these new jobs permanent or just temporary?

Unless the construction jobs are for currently unemployed, the project really isn't creating jobs, is it?

And about the permanent jobs at the race track, doesn't Scarborough Downs already have people employed in the track positions?  When the track moves to Biddeford, are all the current employees going to be at the new track or are they going to be fired and currently unemployed people going to get the Biddeford jobs?  If the answer is the latter, then isn't the project simply exchanging one group of unemployed with another?  If the answer is the first choice, then where is the benefit of all those job creations?

The same question exists for all the peripheral jobs, such as farms, hay, trailors, etc.  Don't they already exist to service Scarborough Downs?

Of course the new track will have other entities such as the slot machines and it will take a few people to maintain them and service the patrons.  But really, just how many?  I haven't been to Scarborough Downs since the 1960s, but I think there is a restaurant there.  Wouldn't those employees be moved to Biddeford thus possibly only a few new hires?

As I listen to the ads touting all the job creations, I can't help but wonder what the truth really is.  I'll probably not know until the new facility is open for business.  Do I think Biddeford Downs will become a reality?  I've never voted "yes" on a gambling question, but there's something about repeating the same story often enough.  And this jobs creation one is certainly being repeated often.  Are we being snookered?  Again?

By the way, the same questions about the construction jobs would apply to both Lewiston's and Calais's proposals, but since both those facilities would be new, I'd have to admit that jobs would be created to man the casino in Lewiston and racino in Calais. 

I'll still be voting "no," however.  And I don't believe we need three gambling facilities in Southern Maine and two in Northern Maine.  If these do get approved, how many more will we be facing in the next couple of years?  Maine already has a facility running in Bangor and one under voter approved construction in Oxford.

Totally non-related, I think, but Biddeford is losing one building supplier.  Reports this morning say the Lowe's story has shuttered its doors permanently.  One report estimated a hundred jobs will be lost in December.

Over the weekend I suggested you join me in taking a good look at the 9-9-9 tax plan being espoused by Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain.  I suggested that it may not be quite as good as Cain tells us.  I hope you also did some research to either agree with me or refute my findings so far.

I'm still looking and found a link to a possible alternate reason why Cain should get the nod.  Reading through the forum As Maine Goes, I saw a link by a poster on one of the threads in the Public Square that sent me to a reason at least one person's perspective on why Cain should be elected.  According to the author in the link, he may be the only one who can beat President Obama because, says the author, the President can't use a race card against a fellow black.  As I said, the link was a few days ago and may no longer be available, but if you're interested, it was here on

I guess it's no secret I'm a Gator fan.  These are sad times for a great university's football team.  UF seems not to learn lessons I hope it teaches:  Learn from your experiences.  It tried two coaches ago to succeed with a coach that had not been a head coach before.  Ron Zook was a total disaster.  Then it tried to gain success with an experienced head coach.  Urban Meyer brought great fame, championships, and glory to the football program.  Now the school is trying again with a first time coach.  Shades of Zook...Will Muschamp has taken the Gators, a team with extremely good players, back into the shadows.  And his offensive coordinator, former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weiss, is having about the same success he had with the Irish.  It's a sad time for Gator Football fans.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Some thoughts for an October weekend

My old body is once again protesting the weather.  Yesterday's rain brought whatever rains bring to every joint in my body.  It is continuing today and possibly into early Saturday morning, at least in our part of Maine.  I liked last weekend's weather much more.

I don't know of anything special on tap for the Clan this weekend.  Sunday might see a trip around the yard on the lawn mowing tractor.  That will depend entirely on how wet or even damp the grass is.  The grass catcher part of my machine simply doesn't like wet grass.  It clogs just about every circle around the yard and has to be pretty much dismantled to get cleaned.  All the stops add at least a half hour to the already too long chore.  There won't be too many more mowings this year, though.

Our daughter probably will bring her Golden Retriever to romp and chase around the yard with our Golden.  The two dogs are sisters and continue to look forward to being with each other.  They've been best of friends for eight years. 

We are so happy to see Gator Golden romping and wrestling.  She had her hind knee surgically repaired last spring and, at doctor's orders, we had kept her quiet for several weeks, then only allowed her limited playing for several more.  About three weeks ago, she threw all caution to the wind and raced around the yard with her sister.  Other than really tiring herself out, she showed no negative effects from the playing.  It had been her idea to run and we've just enjoyed the return of our playful pup to what I guess one would call normalcy.

She always used to 'sneak' up onto our bed in the middle of the night and snuggle between us.  It was an allowed behavior.  But when she slipped on ice last February, she couldn't get up.  A trip we older men seem to have to take in the early morning hours ended with GG a little restless.  Shortly after I returned to bed, I heard her sort of sneaking around and then for the first time since the accident she jumped onto the bed.  It was almost funny watching her literally holding her breath and looking at each of us as if she was waiting for the 'axe' to fall.  Of course, it didn't and a big sigh sent her into snuggling.

If you think the Post Office is slow in delivering packages and mail, you've never had something shipped via FedEx Smartpost.  Once you do,  you'll think the USPS is the fastest package deliverer around.  I ordered something online last week from Wisconsin.  Using the FedEx tracking system, I started following the package.  In fewer than two days via regular FedEx it arrived in Northborough, MA.  It's due here on Oct. 18th.  It was a "free" shipped item so I shouldn't complain.  But I think next time I'll pay the few bucks to regular delivery.  That's only about three days from Wisconsin.

I've been reading some information on Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan.  He's right.  It sounds simple.  It would do away with some current tax code, like the income tax, but everyone, I mean everyone, will be paying a sales tax, 9%, on everything they buy in addition to 9% on income.  I'm still a little fuzzy on the third 9. 

On the first glance, it looks like everyone will be paying an effective 27% to the federal government in addition to Maine's sales and income taxes.  I emphasized the "everyone."  You see, there will be no low income exemptions so people who now pay no or very little income tax will be faced with an up to 27% tax right off the top.  My first looks indicate that the low income and middle class Americans will be slammed hard with the 9-9-9 plan and the wealthy in our country will get a huge break.

Let me emphasize once again that my early understanding may be somewhat flaky and I have a lot of work to do for a full understanding.  What I will do, however, is urge you to do some research of your own to form your own honest impression of the plan.  This is one time you shouldn't let your party's talking points do the swaying.  My first impression is Cain's 9-9-9 plan will do more harm than good, especially to the low income and middle income families.

I know some of you would tell me to provide links for information.  I won't because I don't want your impression to be skewed by places I look.  If you don't know how to search, one place to start might be Google.  Type 9-9-9 in the search box.

Meanwhile as we mentioned last time, the Senate stopped President Obama's job plan and is back at the drawing board look for a new tact.  Now the Republican's have formulated their own jobs bill which as is has about as much chance of passing as something I'd come up with.  Two provisions in their plan are doomed even before the ink dries.  They are the complete repeal of the ObamaCare and a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. 

Don't get me wrong.  I'd favor both, but realistically the Congress critters won't.  And I won't limit that to one party.

And I must mention the raking over the coals of the Boston Red Sox by the news media and bloggers all across the country.  There's been precious few positive articles about the Sox Management, especially over allowing Epstein and Francona to go away and the failure to take control of the clubhouse.  This could be an interesting winter.

I hope you have great weekend in spite of the weather.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Unsubstantiated random political thoughts

1.  Edited Wednesday evening (last paragraph)

We knew it had to end, and that ending began Tuesday.  Of course I'm referring to the weather.  That doesn't take a thing away from those absolutely beautiful days we had, though, over the weekend and Monday.  Now a cool Wednesday and then some rain moves in.  One report I read the other day said that the whole month of October will be warmer than usual.  We'll see.

The Republican debates continue as well as the candidates' rhetoric.  I'd like to hear them talk about what they will do if elected to fix this country.  Presidential hopeful Cain at least offers something called a 9-9-9 plan which deals with taxation.  He wants to lower income and business taxes to 9% and introduce a national consumption (sales) tax of 9%.  Seems to me an awful lot of other tax changes would have to take place before his plan could even begin to be effective.

Other than that, what other economic plan can you mention?  There are several candidates that I still have no idea where they stand and, since they'll probably be gone a lot sooner than later, I'm not interested in spending much time on them.

The news media continues to attempt to control the outcome.  It successfully has eliminated N.J. Gov. Christie and former Alaskan Gov. and Veep candidate Palin from the mix.  There really only seems to be three, Cain, Perry, Romney (alphabetically), left in the realistic mix, four if you count Huntsman.  There remains a good contingent of Paul supporters but my goodness he's as old or older than I am.  I wouldn't want me in the White House.

Unfortunately, Perry and Romney seem to be spending more time taking pot shots at each other, mainly on Perry's immigration stand (which probably takes me out of supporting him) and Romney's stand on his RomneyCare in Massachusetts, a Dirigo-like failure, than telling how they would help America recover from the economic crisis.  Wow!  If I were an English teacher grading that sentence, I might have a comment or two.

We had mentioned earlier this week that the latest Administration stimulus package, the so-called Jobs Bill, would be taken up by the Congress early in the week.  It was, Tuesday night.  The Democrat controlled Senate failed to advance the bill.  I point that out because I'll bet once again the failure will be placed at the Republicans' feet.  It would appear the plan will go back to the drawing boards.  I wonder when an honest negotiation between the two parties will take place to get something accomplished on the jobs and economics crisis.

Did you hear the Lewiston mayor, while supporting a new casino in his city, say that the crime rate does not increase with the presence of a casino?  Paraphrasing his words, he said that poverty causes crimes while a casino creates jobs thus ending poverty.  Interesting  logic.  But then, I think it's also possible that people gambling away what little money they have hoping for that "big payoff," which probably will never come, is one of the ways poverty exists, thus, using the mayor's words, causing crimes.  I don't have any statistics or research to back up my thoughts; they're just a result of thinking about the mayor's observations.

Finally, will we know the future of Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein before the week is over?  There's a good chance he'll head for the Chicago Cubs.  The handwriting was on the wall a few weeks ago and probably has been being written for several months.  Considering the leadership in Boston, I think we Red Sox fans just might be in for another very long dry spell.  1.  Edited to add later information:  Epstein signed a 5-year contract with the Chicao Cubs.  Reports say he'll be out of Boston by the end of the week.  Like the Red Sox with an 86 year curse, when he took over, it has been more than a hundred years since the Cubs have won a world championship.  The Cubs management hopes he can produce the same miracle for Chicago that he did for Boston.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Spectacular! Just spectacular!

1.  Edited mid Monday morning
2.  Edited Monday evening

Is there another way to describe that weekend we just had here in Southern Maine?  My goodness!  Here it is October; Mount Washington in New Hampshire has already seen snow this fall season, although not this past weekend.  Saturday officially tied the record (81 degrees) for the high temperature on an Oct. 8th. 

Sunday simply wasn't going to be outdone and even did better; Sunday evening's TV weather said we reached a high of 85 while crushing the old record for Oct. 8th of 79.  That was the temperature also on our home device.  but the TV said Monday morning the high was 81.  I'll go with my temperature.  (1. Added  Monday morning:  I just heard on a local radio station that indeed Portland did set that 85 degree record yesterday so I'll stick with my record crushing statement earlier.)

It was a weekend to be outside.  And the Gator Clan was.

This Monday isn't going to be too shabby, either, if the forecast for a high in the uper 70s holds.  This will end those super days, possibly for the season.  Tuesday and Wednesday will see the highs fall and we're told we could get a rainy Thursday.  2. Added Monday evening:  In fact, today was just as nice as the two weekend days.  We didn't set a new record but we did tie the old one at 81 degrees.)

Octobers are known for a spell like this one.  Over the years, and usually on the weekend that's near the Oct. 8th date, we have seen similar if not quite as super weather.  Gator Wife and I used to use this weekend for our annual leaf-peeping trip.  We've rarely been disappointed, but this weekend was devoted to outdoor stuff around the home so we didn't go.  Perhaps a short trip last Thursday into foliage country was so disappointing, it looked like it has passed peak, discouraged us this year in spite of the TV stations telling us the foliage was at or near peak and spectacular.

Nevertheless, that past weekend was spectacular, simply spectacular.

I think I don't understand just what the "occupies" around our country are for.  In fact, reading the news reports about them, I'm not even sure the occupiers know what they are for.  Of course when asked, many will say they're protesting "corporate greed."   I find that fascinating as included in all the pictures are cell phones, tablets, laptops, music devices, designer clothing and accessories, and dozens of other things, all resulting from the work of corporations. 

I can't help but wonder where these mostly young folk would be without their corporate gadgets.

I'm not a fan of Herman Cain, a republican presidential hopeful, but he may have hit it right on the head over the weekend when he opined that the Occupy XX movement just might be a well organized attempt to deflect the growing realization that the economy and lack of jobs is really because of the completely failed policies of the present President and his administration.

I say I'm not a Cain fan, but I'm not a fan of any of the hopefuls at this juncture.  There are some I have eliminated from my consideration and with the list now set and no one hiding in the wings, I've got to start paying better attention to see which one I could vote for.  The election process, at least the process leading up to an official nominee next summer, gets underway in just three short months, and perhaps ever quicker if Iowa pushes its sessions to Christmas time.

By the time you read this, the jobs bill fight in Washington could be over.  A vote on President Obama's plan to create mostly temporary jobs could be held as early as today.  I have wondered, though, why the President keeps blaming the Republicans in Congress for the lack of a vote.  It was Harry Reid, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, one man, who has done all the blocking of the vote.  The President's plan for a new stimulus package has now been rewritten by Reid and it is his change that faces Congress.  Yet it's the nasty Republicans who are holding things up, according to the President.

No matter whose bill it is, it is wrong for America.  Earlier stimulus packages haven't worked so one must wonder why people think this one will succeed.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Some serious stuff for weekend thoughts

My weekend posts are normally very light fare, usually about what the Clan will be doing...or not doing.  But a couple of events in the last couple of days has me thinking about some important items.  So I'm digressing just a little from normalcy.

However, I can't let this weekend go by without mentioning the possibility of some mighty fine weather.  We're told that we'll have sunny skies and really nice temperatures right into next week.  Sunday, in fact, could see that thermometer climb into the 80s, at least away from the coast.  Looks to me like it'll be a good day for another "last cookout of the season."

Along with many Republicans Thursday, I received an e-mail from the Maine party about funding for the upcoming People's Veto ballot question concerning a change in voter registration days.  Maine for many years has allowed people to register to vote even on election day.  The last legislature changed that requiring registrations at least two business days before elections to allow the checking of eligibility.

A so-called "grass roots" campaign gathered enough signatures to place a repeal of that new law on next month's ballot.  When the required 68-thousand or so signatures was gathered, a leader of that campaign said it was proof that Mainers supported the volunteer efforts ot repeal the law. 

Well, the Maine Republican Party pointed out Thursday after the filing a election financial records that that grass roots campaign wasn't nearly as grass roots as it claimed.  For example, the campaign paid nearly $100 thousand dollars to signature collectors.  And guess who that money came from.  By now you've read it came from Donald Sussman, the husband of Maine First District Representative Chellie Pingree.  Now that is some grass roots contribution, wouldn't you say?

Much of the rest of the nearly $200 thousand dollars collected was from several well-known organizations that support democrats.  Those organizations include American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, AARP of Washington, D.C., Maine People's Alliance, League of Women Voters of Maine, and Maine Conservation Voters Action Fund.  $20,000 was from the Maine Education Association.

This grass roots campaign paid the former director of the Maine Education Association more that 37 thousand dollars to direct the efforts for the three months.

The financial reporting documents show just how much that so-called "grass roots" campaign was really "grass roots."

I'm not saying here it's fact, but considering the Democrats have run this state for the past 40 years or so right up until last November since the same day voter registration was adopted, one can't help but wonder just how much mischief has taken place on election day.  It also begs the questions, just why are these contributors so bent on continuing that practice?  And why are they trying to convince Mainers the effort is by the people?

A report by another, but mainly Republican organization, said that in at least three of the last several election cycles, there were more registered voters in Maine than citizens over the age of 18.  If that is true, I wonder where those extra voters came from.  Could it have anything to do with same day voter registration?

I hope Mainers are not fooled by the rhetoric and will not allow this repeal effort to take place and will join me in voting "No" next month.

I've never owned an Apple computer, but in my job situation, I did use Apple computers beginning with the Apple 1 andremember those two floppy, really floppy, disk drives.  Seems to me the earliest ones used external drives.  My work place did graduate to Macintosh computers.  We also had the TRS-80s (Trash 80s) in the early '80s.  My first personal computer was run by the now defunct CP/M (Computer Program for Microcomputers) operating system.  But when I moved away from that, I preferred the DOS (Disc Operating System) over the Apple.

I really liked the Mac, but back then I found it easier to write my own programs on the DOS computer than the Apple.  So I stayed with DOS.  Of course today we're a lot more familiar with the Windows system which, ironically for me, attempted to emulate the Apple interface.

I have never owned an IAnything.  Nevertheless, I mourn the passing of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computer Company, and the mind behind all those fantastic innovations, inventions if you will, in the computer industry.  Anyone who loves computers as I do, even though we still use a different system, can only truly appreciate what Mr. Jobs has done for our lives.

May he rest in peace.

Now I hope you and your family enjoy another remarkable weekend.  The weather promises to do its part.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

911 dispatch centers revisited

At last it would seem nice weather has returned to Maine.  It will be a wee bit cool into Friday, but then the temperatures once again will rise to nice, fall-like levels.  And the sun we'll see this Wednesday will remain with us for the several days.  There could be a shower or two along the way, but the sun will dominate.

On the negative side, we're in for a couple cool nights.  In fact freeze or frost warnings have been posted for most all of the state except right along the coast, at least forWednesday night and Thursday night's temperatures could be even colder.

Back when the state proposed, ordered, a reduction in emergency call centers to handle 911 calls, I objected because in many areas those centers have put an added layer to the 911 emergency situation.  In some instances where communities have maintained their own dispatchers, the call centers transfer to the local for dispatching.  Where local dispatching has been eliminated, the centers dispatch emergency help.

We have read/heard in the news of numerous incorrect addresses having been dispatched emergency help while the need had to wait.  Consequences have not always been good.

But the consolidation was designed to save money.  Now we're told we need to consolidate again to just two statewide emergency centers.  It seems as a result of the last consolidation the state will need an additional six hundred thousand dollars, but consolidation would solve that problem.  The state's commissioner for such things says suggestions to make counties or cities the dispatch centers would be OK with him.  But isn't that where it was before the state took them over?

We're paying for these 911 centers with the more than $8 million a year we pay on our phone bills each month.  As I said when all this consolidation business began, I'd rather have my 911 calls answered locally where local dispatchers instantly dispatch the proper equipment to a proper address.  Thankfully, I live in a community that kept its local dispatchers.

I'm selfish in wanting the local people.  When I had a time sensitive burst aneurysm several years ago, going through layers probably would have added enough time for me not to be able to write this today.

Of course most if not all cell phone 911 calls are answered by a 911 call center, but you already know how much I use a cell phone.  Still, with today's technology, cell towers should be able to be programmed to direct a call to a local dispatch center.  Perhaps some of all the savings we were promised should go to development of such direction.

On the national political scene, the republican field for the presidential nomination next summer appears to now be set.  Once the caucuses and primaries begin next January . . . there's some talk of beginning them around Christmas time this year . . . the field will get narrowed down quickly.  One prominent governor took his name out of the race Tuesday as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he would not run.  I think on Sarah Palin still has yet to be heard, but I doubt she'll do anything but continue to tease her supporters.

Edited Wed. eve:  Sarah Palin announced today she will not be a candidate for the presidency this election cycle.

I'm still a very long way from deciding which candidate, if any, will get my support.  I'm not terribly impressed with any of them still running.


Monday, October 3, 2011

A dull weekend, a dull beginning to the week

The weather didn't play very nice with us this weekend.  Here in the southern, or is it soutwestern?, part of Maine, we had a lot of rain.  The Gator Clan didn't do a whole lot; even the Golden's sister didn't get to pay a visit. 

The first half of the week doesn't promise to be a whole lot better, except perhaps more showery than rainy.

In sports over the weekend, the Patriots won (as did the Giants, the team I grew up 'loving'), the Gators didn't win, and the Red Sox are on winter vacation sans Terry Francona.

On the political front, I still can't get enthusiastic about presidential race.  The U.S. Supreme Court opens its session Monday.  It has a whole bunch of stuff facing it, the outcomes of which will affect all of us dramatically.  This might be a Court worth watching.

And that's about all I have to say this Monday morning.  Perhaps an inspiration will come by Wednesday.