Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Cain Affair

I’m not sure where I’m going with this as it is just a gut thing with absolutely zero honest research.  But I say my comments are my unsubstantiated thoughts, so here goes.

The nation’s press has once again set the course for discourse.  Apparently not satisfied with the lukewarm reception to the charges that Herman Cain may have sexually abused some subordinates at his work place, the media now has a wowzer on its hands.  It has uncovered a possible long term affair the candidate had recently.

Just like he did with the first accusations, Cain vehemently denies that last one, too.  After reading a news report on the background of his latest accuser, I must say I my thought was, “She sure sounds credible.  Not!”  Now I’m not saying her claim isn’t true; I’m only wondering where all this sex stuff has originated concerning Cain.

Guilty or not guilty means nothing to the news media.  Some people have come forward with claims and claims are good enough for the press.   You’ve read here several times of my belief that one is innocent until proven guilty.  That hasn’t changed with the accusations against Herman Cain. 

What I do know, though, is that his life and reputation have been damaged, probably irrevocably.   The news media has seen to that.  It would be interesting, if I felt moved enough and I don’t right now, to search on the accuracy rate of the claims that have been reported.  As a result of the current one, guilty or innocent, they are claims that Herman Cain will never see end.

As Cain was announcing yesterday that he is now taking his campaign through an assessment on the future viability of his chances to win the Republican presidential nomination, I was wondering just who could be behind all this activity.  It certainly is much more than coincidence these accusations have come out at this time.

I have to wonder just who, if anyone, could have begun this anti-Cain drive.  I ask myself just who might be the most challenged if he did win.  Only one name comes to mind.  Now we have to wonder who’s next?  I know where I’d put my money.

Disclaimer:  I’ve already said on at least one occasion in recent weeks that Herman Cain was not the candidate I would support in the primaries and caucuses.

O.K., Old Gator Dude.  How come you don’t feel the same about those child abuse accusations against the coaches?  I don’t know anything about them, either, except like Cain they’ll never live them down whether guilty or not.  They are not only about claims told to a news media but also have some legal background.  In one case, an arrest was the result of a Grand Jury inquisition.  In the other the Syracuse police have admitted they haven’t investigated reports from many years back.    Both of the coaches’ situations are in the legal system, but, like the Cain cases, all I know is what the news media wants me to know.

Speaking of political campaigns, I have also said here earlier that I wouldn’t support Ron Paul because of something I heard him say during the 2008 campaign.  As I said earlier, I cannot remember what it was but it was something that at the time made me decide I could never support him.

Yesterday I received a rather heavy mailing from his campaign that not only outlined his plan to revive America and the American economy but also included a copy of his complete plan.  I have not yet studied it, but I have glanced through it.  As a result I thought, “Hmmm.  I might have to change my mind about this guy.”  Now I’ll have to study the plan and research if his actions, both past and present, support what he is saying.  As it stands, however, the outline portion would give conservatives something to really give good thought to and provide substance for serious discussion.

It would be nice if the other candidates also sent copies of their plans for America.  Paul has his in writing and is publicly disseminating it.

Finally, a sports update.  Earlier this week I criticized Ndamukong Suh for his actions in pro football game last week I saw on television.  I said he should be severely punished.  The League has given him a two-game suspension, but, as he should have, he has appealed.  Although I think it should have been harsher, I support the League’s decision.  I also support Suh’s following the rules in appealing.


Monday, November 28, 2011

A Monday ramble

Sunday wasn't too bad.  At least in spite of the cloudiness, we didn't get any rain on our little piece of the world.  Three more days and we'll be out of November.  Those three days, however, could be interesting.  Temperatures today, for example, could reach into the 60s.  We appear to be on target to set an all-time record high average for a November.

It seems like this has been a rather quick month.  Perhaps the two major holidays has help speed it along.  The first part of the month Mrs. Gator and I were preparing for our milestone anniversary as the first fifty years of our marriage slipped into the past.  Then came Thanksgiving, a holiday for giving Thanks for all we are together and for bringing back family memories.

Next up, Christmas.

It wasn't too long ago that we would have put up our outside decorations this past weekend, the one following Thanksgiving.  We probably outdid outselves in our former home in Portland as it was ablaze with lights and other decorations.  Once we began there, just about everyone on our street began to put up grand lighting for the holidays. 

The first couple of years after we moved to our present location, we tried to get into the decorations mood for a couple or three years, but we were one of only two houses in our field.  Even the street was a dead end so extremely few passersby got to enjoy our efforts.  The area has since grown up around us and our street is no longer dead ended.  

We turned to the inside.  One day Gator Wife arrived home with a single Department 56 structure and placed it on the shelf in front of our bow window.  It was lost.  So we bought two or three more along with some accessories and our Village was born.  Growth of the Village has been our decoration project ever since.

There are lots of things in the news to mention.  Cities and towns around the country and here in Maine are finally beginning to do what they should have done on Day One and that is push back against the "Occupy ..." movements.  I never understood why the protesters were allowed to pitch tents and other structures and take over public spaces.  Peaceful assembly and speech freedom are Constitutionally allowed.  I've never read in the Constitution where setting up tents and other structures in public parks were permitted freedoms.

The continuing and growing shortfall of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services is going to be a costly fix.  Major reform is badly needed.

The term "vocational education" has taken on a very negative image and school districts have long changed any focus on it.  But now under Gov. Paul LePage Voc Ed is being primed for a comeback, only it will be under a different name.  The new name is "Career Education Training," or something close to that.  Education had abandoned a lot of Maine students and the state is now paying for it with unprepared workers.  The rebirth will be a major highway into our economic future.

These are just two or three of the many events around us that affect us.  They, along with many others, just might get a mention or two here with my thoughts and opinions that may or may not hold any water.

Turning to a couple of sports thoughts:  The NBA owners and players have reached a tentative agreement and the pro basketball season will get underway Christmas Day.  Ho-hum.  I absolutely could care less.  The NBA is just plain boring to me.  It can't hold a candle to good college basketball games.  I even prefer watching the high school games.  I've never understood the popularity of pro basketball.


Thanksgiving Day was hectic.  We had a lot of activity happening here, probably just like most of you had in your homes.  We are early eaters as far as holidays go.  So it was about one o'clock when we sat down to give our Thanks and enjoy the hard work of Gator Wife and Gator Daughter.  By mid-afternoon, the clean up had been completed and our projects done.  We wanted a nap.  GD and her dog headed to their home and GW and I curled up, sort of, in our chairs in the TV room. 

I turned on the TV.  The football game was just beginning the third quarter.  It wasn't long before I saw one of the dirtiest plays I've ever seen in pro football.  There have been many, but this was a pip.  After a hard play Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions was lying on top of a face down Green Bay Packer player repeatedly driving his face into the turf.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing and even said out loud that that guy should be tossed from the game.

He was finally dragged off the downed player but as he was being escorted away, Suh appeared to deliberately throw his leg out in a sideways kick to stomp the other player.  His legged pumped a couple or three times but I'm not sure if he actually spiked the Packer.  News reports later indicated he did not or only grazed him.  But the attempt was unmistakable.  Not only should Suh have been thrown out of the game, he was, but the League should be taking even stronger action.

News reports say the league will be meeting this week to review the play.  From what I saw, Suh's season, possibly career, should be over.  There is no place in sports, professional or not, for that kind of activity.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Village is Lit -- A Final Look

Thanksgiving is over.  Ever since I can remember, and that's a lot of years ago, my family celebrated its Christmas Season all the way from what we now call Black Friday through Christmas Day.  Gator Wife tells me her family also began shortly after Thanksgiving.  It is a tradition that she and I have carried on since we were married 50 years ago. 

When our kids were little, we would "park" them at Grandma's House early on the Friday after Thanksgiving and head out for our Christmas shopping.  I honestly don't recall it being called "Black Friday" way back then, but it still was one of the busiest shopping days of the year.  And like today there were bargains galore.  When we had done our job of helping Santa by getting all we could for the year, we headed home and wrapped and hid the presents.  Then, like our folks before us, we headed to Grandma's for supper and brought the kids home.

We haven't done the Black Friday thing for many years, but last year we did go out Monday to help Santa with our daughter's (she's now in her forties) list and was pleasantly surprised at how much money we saved on the technical items she needed.  We just may go out again this coming Monday.

But the real purpose of this post is to tell you that on schedule we completed and lit our Christmas Village on Thanksgiving Day.  It is a project we begin each year on Veterans' Day with the goal of lighting it on Thanksgiving.  It is a two week project.  Our Village is a combination of the Victorian and Dickens collections of Department 56. We've been giving you some progress reports throughout the construction phase.  Now here is a final look at our Christmas Celebration Village.

This is the first table one sees upon entering our living room from our dining area.  It is a table that runs behind our sofa.  As you can see, we have a skirt around the table, which, incidentally, we also constructed, which hides all the wiring and stuff under the actual display.

At the end of this section of the sectional sofa is Kensington Palace, the future home of Prince William and Princess Katherine of England.  It was also the home in which the future king grew up with his mother Princess Diana.  It is the center piece (or corner piece if you prefer) of this year's Village.
The sun was shining in the window and made taking a good picture difficult, but this is a sample of our Window section which is on the window base behind the second section of the sofa.  Every piece in this section depicts something from Charles Dickens' immortal story of Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim, A Christmas Carol.
We call this our Main Village and it has lots of scenes going in it.  In the rear corner is a mountain; a skating pond is in the middle; a farm dots the far center left, and a river connects this section to the window section running from a waterfall.
And this is our main section leading back to the window section.
One would have to see this village "in person" to really get the feel of its size and depth.  Nevertheless, we are very happy with our celebration of the Christmas Season.  The whole congregation of Gator in Maine offers you this early wish for a Very Merry Christmas.  By the way, if you click on any picture, you can see it enlarged, but, and this is important, it doesn't open in a new window, you'll have to use the back arrow or button to return to the blog. 

We'll return Monday with some regular GiM thoughts including one of the dirtiest plays I've ever seen in the NFL.

As always, we hope you have a super weekend.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Most

Happy Thanksgiving

To You and All

Your Family

From The

Gator in Maine Congregation!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday -- A stormy day before the holiday

Happy Wednesday! Well, at least try to make it one. The weather forecast doesn't forebode well for this day. We have some winter storm warnings in effect and a goodly portion of the state will see a rather large snow storm which began last night. Travel could be rather treacherous in spots, but along the immediate coast, snow should turn to rain early this morning, if it hasn't already where you are. This could be a trying day for a major travel holiday. Many folk take a vacation day today so they can get to Grandma's House in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with families.

At least one good thing about this storm: it should end late today and overnight giving morning time for cleanup and then some good family time. I'm not sure what will happen to tomorrow's football game between Portland and Deering high schools. It's scheduled for 10:30.

A major change for the day: many stores are beginning their annual "Black Friday" Christmas sales during the day Thursday. The opening time for the super sales has crept backwards for years and many stores had begun opening between midnight and six AM Friday morning. This year many of those same stores will be opening at different times during the day Thanksgiving.

This is just a personal thing but I would not do any store shopping tomorrow. It is a day when even those lower paid employees that could use the additional paycheck should be able to spend the time with family and friends. It is, after all, supposed to be a day of Thanks for our getting into this day each year. (I might, though, spend some time doing some 'looking' out there on the Internet from my computer at home. Yea, I know what that makes me.)

Last year, Gator Wife and I did take advantage of the "Black Friday" sales on the following Monday and we did save a whole lot of cash. Perhaps that'll be the order of the day this year, too.

The most important day, however, is today. If you do have to venture out, please be extra careful so that your family will be able to spend a good thankful time tomorrow.

Just a couple "quickie" items about the news of the day...Congress's super budget committee failed to reach any type of agreement and so all the time that bunch of twelve spent to resolve last spring's budget dispute went for naught. I guess it's safe to say it simply mirrored Congress for the past couple of years in doing nothing.

The "Blame everyone and everything but me" President and his congressional buddies have once again said it's all the fault of former President George Bush and his tax cuts. Poor Pres. Bush, three years later and he's still at fault for all the world's problems. Naturally, the trillions of dollars that have bloated the national debt and deficit since 2008 has had nothing to do with our poor economy.  I was impressed with Senator Kerry's line on the news.  He said (nearly a quote), "It's a shame that a small bunch of people can stop all progress in Congress."  He must have been referring to himself and his own party.

My goodness, we only have to look across the big pond to see what's happening in Europe to countries that have followed the same socialistic economy. But shucks! This is America. We set courses and not learn from the failures of others.

I was watching the news the other day and the scenes at Tehrir Square and that California college brought back the scenes from many other countries since last spring. That brings to mind the "Occupy" movement in America. Do you see any similarities? But here, especially in Portland, we're encouraging the protests. Perhaps I've mentioned it before, we don't want to learn from others as we're much better. "It can't happen in America!"

Here in Maine the Department of Health and Human Services budget crisis continues to grow. That department is now more than $120 million in the hole and growing. We simply can't continue to give away all our money and benefits and expect to survive. There must be cuts in the DHHS budget and programs need examination. A whole lot of accountability on welfare eligibility and spending must be developed. Perhaps, spending some money for a full outside audit, which doesn't happen now, would be money well spent and eventually save that department millions.

And finally, our Village: As I said earlier this week, the Village 2011, our celebration of the Christmas Season, will be completed tomorrow and "lit" tomorrow evening. I'll take some final pictures following those events tomorrow and post some samples Friday morning. Because I'll have to work on the picturs early Friday, the weekend post will be later in the day, but probably by noon.

I hope all of you have a truly "Happy Thanksgiving."


Monday, November 21, 2011

Snow, skirt all that's left forVillage 2011

The Gator Clan has had a busy weekend literally completing Village 2011, our annual decoration to celebrate the Christmas Season.  We are way ahead of schedule this year as we usually begin on Nov. 11th and hope to light it by Thanksgiving Day or the following weekend at the latest.

We could have finished it this year almost a week early but chose not to put the final touches on it until Thanksgiving Day.  Both my wife and I have a history from childhood of beginning the Christmas Season following the Thanksgiving feast, and so it has been since we've married as well.  When we started the Village several years ago, we chose the schedule so that our celebration could begin as we've always known it.

On the odd chance that someone is reading this for the first time, our Village consists of a combination of Department 56 collectible Victorian and Dickens villages.  Every piece we use except those we use to construct base tables and a snow base and a cemetary and a skating pond are from Department 56.

We create several sections in our living room and make a few changes to give slightly different looks each year and to utilize our entire collection.

We still  have to add "Fresh Fallen Snow" from Department 56 and a skirt to hide the underside of the tables and that will take place Thanksgiving Day while the turkey and stuff is cooking.

Gator Daughter climbed into a confined space to design this year's corner piece.  You've read in the papers recently that Kensington Palace has once again reached the news as it will become the new home of a royal couple, a home the Prince grew up in.  That is the Department 56 version of the Palace in the back.

Both on the picture above and each these four you can see why we always put a skirt around the display to make it more presentable.  On the left is the long section behind a sofa while on the right we see what we call our main village. It includes a mountain, a forest, and a skating pond, all designed by Gator Daughter.

On the left is our creation of the Charles Dickens immortal story of Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol. And finally I thought you might like to see what the underside (right) looked like and just why we need a skirt to hide it.  Probably a more creative person than I could make it presentable without the skirt.

We'll officially complete the construction phase Thanksgiving Day.  I won't guarantee a final look will be here over the weekend, but I'll give it a try.  If not, then it'll be here Monday.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Robocalls revisited; Village 2011 information

I recall waking Wednesday, Nov. 9th, with a happy thought...those extremely annoying robocalls touting various candidates or issues for the voting the day before would have ended.  Robocalls are the political ads that you get via your telephone and generated by a computer and calling lists.  Well, I was just plain wrong.  The calls are continuing.  Now, though, instead of for local people and issues, they're for national ones.

I guess I simply forgot that the various state primaries and caucuses (Is the plural of 'caucus' "caucii"?) are just around the corner.  I can't imagine what the folks in Iowa are going through as they are facing the nation's first caucus early in January.  But here our neighbor New Hampshire will have the first in the nation primary election.  These events will begin a series of them all across the nation for the following several months and lead to the probable Republican candidate for next November's presidential elections.  The Democrat candidate, President Obama, is already chosen unless something really dramatic happens between now and then.

Politicians, naturally, excluded themselves from being listed on "Do not call" lists when they passed a law allowing us to include ourselves on such lists.  So you can't stop those calls from coming by requesting inclusion on the list. 

The new round of robocalls is from Republican candidates for the Presidential nomination.  Like before, I've never heard one as the instant I determine the phone ring is signaling a robocall, I hang up.  I'm not sure why I'm getting these irritating calls.  Maine is way down the list of states in order of selecting its preferred candidate.  Way down.  I suspect New Hampshire wouldn't allow me to register and vote on the same day with no proof of residency or photo I.D. or background check or anything, so the calls are totally wasted on me.

I'm also irritated that the majority of these wastes of my time happen during the suppertime hour.  That makes it a double turn off for me.

I got one the other evening from one of the top tier candidates.  As always, I hung up just as soon as I heard the "I'm your idiot candidate" so have no clue what the message was.  A few moments later, I picked up the phone to make a call and, son-of-a-gun, he was still rambling.  Apparently the calling computers also have the ability to bypass hang-ups.  I don't know why as no one would be hearing the message.  I continued not to listen.

I find robocalls to be nothing but a total waste of time, money, and message.  At least in the Gator household, they create a whole lot more negative feelings on the candidate than any good will.  I'm keeping a list of calls and each candidate gets put to the bottom of my list of potential favorites.

We have nothing new in Village Construction to show you right now as we've taken a couple days off for some other things that needed doing.  The major section needs the input from Gator Daughter before we can finish it.  She annually creates a section of the Village that includes a forest scene complete with animals and a pond.  She'll be here Saturday to make that section come to life and then Gator Wife and I will complete that section.

GD is planning to return Sunday and they way we've been able to progress, there's a good chance the Village will be mostly completed.  That'll give GW and me a couple of days to complete putting in trees and "snowing" the Village.  Thursday morning, the two ladies of the clan will put the underside hiding skirt around the entire project while the Turkey is cooking, and we'll official light the Village for this season.
When it is "Lit," Village 2011 will look something like
this lit Village 2010, but there will be some
different pieces and even these will be in different places.

I'll have a picture or two of the progress either later this weekend or, more likely, Monday morning.  For anyone new to here, our Village is a combination of Department 56 Victorian and Dickens village collections which we erect each November as our Christmas Season celebration project.  The village comes down early in January. 

Meanwhile, as always, I hope you have just a super November weekend.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Village 2011 construction continues

Nothing challenging here today.  We're spending our time working on our Village for the upcoming Christmas Season.  We erect a combination Department 56 Victorian/Dickens village in our living room each year.  It has remained basically the same fror the last 4 years or so, but various pieces are changed.

The construction began Veteran's Day (also our wedding anniversary) and we aim at completion and lighting the village Thanksgiving Day.  We are on schedule, perhaps even a little ahead of it.  Monday we showed you the first weekend's progress and today we have some of the continuing work.  Please keep in mind, that none of the sections is completed and won't be until we add trees, lots and lots of trees, and snow to the layout and the final configuration is complete.  We also will be adding the skirt that hides the underneath sections as the final task on Thanksgiving.

We have basically arranged the structures for the section behind one portion of our sofa.  If you look closely enough, you can see some of the Department 56 accessories that go with these villages.  Missing, as I mentioned earlier, are trees and snow. 
At the far end of the couch section is a widened area to fill in space where the sofa curves around a corner.  This section is also the least completed of the section.  That tipping British flag is a give-a-way to the need for more work.  Also, the Palace has a fence and Honor Guard that need adding along with other accessories, trees, and snow.
The Dicken's Town Square is also nearing completion.  This scene, which one of the favorites, depicts the Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the immortal story of Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim.  The structures and accessories in this section can all be found in the story. 

 In the middle of the Town Square we have the author himself giving an oral reading of the story.  Those two buildings in the background are the Scrooge and Marley warehouse (center) and Fezziwig's company (left).  A working Town Clock is next to the Scrooge and Marley building.
The display base and styrofoam is at least positioned,  This is the final big section of the project,  A mountain is in the corner and Gator Daughter's forest and skating pond sections will be placed here this weekend when she visits.  But this does give a pretty good idea of how the Village is constructed.  We still have a Christmas Tree section to put up, but that's an easy one on top of an existing cabinet in the room.
All Village pieces, including both structures and accessories, depicted here are part of the Victorian Collection and the Dickens Collection and copyrighted or registered trademarks of Department 56, a division of Enesco, LLC.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Village 2011 Is Underway

Before I show you the beginnings of Village 2011, I have a question: Did Portland's experiment with the majority win rank voting system work? For the first time, and appropriately for the city's first mayor in some 80 odd years, all fifteen candidates on the ballot were ranked in the order of preference by voters. It was, we were told, an attempt to be sure the mayor would be elected by more than 50% of the voters.

It took 13 rounds of counting the rankings before Michael Brennan was named Mayor. Voters had numbered the candidates according to preference on one ballot last Tuesday. Then, the lowest vote getter in each round was eliminated until one candidate emerged with more than 50% of the votes.

Brennan was the leader after round one, but with far less than the magic 50% number. So counting continued into the next day. He finally won the day. BUT, did he? I believe I heard a news story on WCSH 6-TV News that after final inspection, some ballots were eliminated and Brennan's actual final total was less than 50%.

If my hearing was accurate, how did all the added expense to the voting system get justified when the leader after the normal count was declared the winner by less than the promised 50%? I'm not a Portland resident, but if this ranked voting becomes widespread, I could be later. Just wondering.

Now, the Village.  We erect a display of Department 56 collectible village pieces, combining structures and accessories from the company's Victorian Village and Dickens Village series.  Each year, we begin the construction process on Nov. 11th with the aim of lighting the village on Thanksgiving Day or, at the very least, the weekend following Thanksgiving Day.  The village represents our celebration of the Christmas Season.  We usually take it down and pack it away a couple of weeks after the New Year.

We began on schedule last Friday.  Here's are some samples of the construction program through last Sunday.

The first step is to put together our base tables.  This is one of three which we build for three of the several sections of the Village.  This piece will hold a section between our sofa and a wall.  The pieces on it are generally shops, but a house or two also probably will dot its landscape.  We also reassemble base tables for a section behind the sofa and the front window.  The third one is the largest section against a rail separator between the living room and the front door.

The above base was completed and placed in its spot behind the couch.  A little hard to see here, but at the far end the base widens to fill in the space between the front wall and the round sofa connector where its two sides meet.

A plywood tabletop is then placed on the base and it is covered with some hard Styrofoam.  You'll see some foam layers here which we use to create some depth to the display.  The those things that look like holes are holes.  We run the varous structure lights through them to the structures.  It is, of course, those structure lights which makes our presentation a lighted display, or as Department 56 calls it, a lit village.

Structures are added.  Here they're just randomly placed so we'll get an idea of relationships.  The next function is to place them where they'll work together to make a section of the Village.  I'll have them arranged Wednesday so you can see a more organized look.

If you saw our Village last year, you may remember there was a mountain in the corner of the room.  Because of the news stories lately, for this year at least, we eliminated the mountain and have inserted our Department 56 version of the famed Kensington Palace.  This is just the building itself.  Later we'll add its accompanying accessories, including the Royal Guard. This is on that widened section I mentioned earlier.

That's just a brief look at the construction progress.  We are, however, well on schedule to complete the Village on time Thanksgiving Day, and perhaps even next weekend.  I'll have more on the Village Wednesday


Friday, November 11, 2011


1.  Edited Sat. AM (See below)
We've finally reached another holiday weekend.  This one, however, is in the "very special" category.

First, Friday is Veteran's Day, the main reason for this weekend's celebrations.  It is a day we honor all the brave men and women who have kept the greatness in our country both today and since the country was founded.  We all should go out of our way the give a big "Thank you for your service" to any and all veterans we meet today.  If your city or town has a parade or other type of celebration to honor our heroes, then I'd hope you can get to see it or participate in it to show your support.

The Old Gator offers his big "Thank You" on this, your day of celebration.

Second, Nov. 11th is the day the Gator Clan begins its construction of our Christmas Village, our way of celebrating the upcoming season.  Our Village is a combination of collectible pieces from Department 56's Victorian and Dickens Collections.  It takes us about two weeks to get the Village ready to be lit and our target date this year is Thanksgiving Day, or at the latest the weekend following.

Friday will be spent putting our homemade tables together and putting them in their places in our living room.  We may even begin to place down the hard foam pieces which form the snow covered base for the settings. Saturday and Sunday will see the beginning of the placing of structures which make our Village.

It is a time consuming, slow process, but the Clan truly enjoys both the construction and the enjoyment the Village brings throughout our Christmas season.

I'll try to edit this weekend post to add some pictures of the construction progress.  Check back perhaps Sunday.

1.  The 50th Celebration is over.  Now we're back to the Village.  The base for one wall is complete, along with the preliminary placing of many pieces.  But here is a picture of one of this year's corner pieces:
Of course there's still a lot to be done, but we put it up to see how we'd like it.  Our first impression was that we really do.  This building has been in the news lately.

But the third and the most important event, the one which makes it "very special," this weekend happens Friday.  It was 50 years ago that this branch of the Gator Clan was started.

In 1960, a cousin with whom I had grown up scheduled her wedding.  I had left Maine five years earlier to join my parents in Florida.  My cousin asked if I could at least return long enough to be in the church on her wedding day.

I was preparing to graduate from U of F, but timing was right and I was able to make a weekend trip. It would be a short stay as I arrived late the night before the wedding and was leaving the day after.  I did not get to meet her wedding party members.

Sitting in the church as the bride and her attendants started down the aisle, I saw for the first time what to me was the most beautiful sight in the world.  It was Cousin's Maid of Honor.  I never saw another thing in that church.  I suspect she never knew I was there.

A couple of weeks later I was granted my degree and had interviewed for a job on a newspaper in a mid-Florida city.  (Orlando, FF, wasn't quite as big back then and the newspaper wasn't quite as important as it is today.)  I was also slated for a visit to a newspaper in Georgia.  But those newspapers would no longer be in my future.  My destiny was in Maine and I came home.

I casually asked Cousin who her M of H was.  She laughed, told me, and said she was not committed to anyone.  I could feel the anxiety building. I still can remember every minute of our first date and my earlier "first impression" only grew.  That was in the summer of 1960.  A little more than a year later, we began the oddysey that continues today.

That November day was like the beautiful weather we've had earlier this week.  It was the 11th, Veterans' Day 50 years ago.  And I can't think of a single moment, even during some tough times, when I was sorry we got married. 

SJJ, Thank you for still being with me as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary.  Thank you for being at my side when our personal economy was tough, and especially when my health took a rotten turn ten years ago.  And I'm glad I was here for you during your ordeal a couple years ago.  I think there's a name of something that has held us together.  For me, it's "love."  I love you.

As we celebrate our 50 years together, I can't help but wonder what happened to the pool money.  My Dad, yes MY dad, had started a money pool on just how long our marriage would last.  I never did know how much money was in that pool nor who was the keeper.  I do know that my dad has long since left us as has many of the other people, including my brother and that cousin, at the wedding.  Wherever it is, if it even still "is," there is no winner of that pool.  Our marriage continues.

What say you, Mrs. Gator?  Shall we try for another fifty?

(Added at 7:50 Fri AM:  GW said, "Absolutely!  Let's give it a try!")


Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Caught your attention, didn't I?  Well, surprise; this isn't really about sex.  More on that in a bit.

I can think of one very good thing this Wednesday morning.  We won't have to suffer through those absolutely awful ads and robocalls any longer.  At least for this go 'round.

I'm sort of surprised at the state wide results of voting Tuesday.  Question 1 to keep same day voter registration passed by an absolutely huge margin.  It did prove that big outside money (one man contributed over 285-thousand dollars to the campaign) can still buy elections in Maine.  That same person had contributed huge amounts in the districts' House of Representative race last year.  Mischief at the polls will continue.  Now I'll hope the results will lead to the requirement for voter I.D. at the polls.

Both gambling questions, #2 to allow racinos in Biddeford and Calais, and #3 to allow a full blown casino in Lewiston, were both defeated by rather surprisingly large margins.  One website for the "No on One" campaign also proved something in Maine:  Dirty politics are alive and well.  That said, I'm not unhappy over the gambling defeat, although I have been privately wavering on my feelings since I got an email from my Fearless Friend.  He pointed out that such projects should be allowed to rise and fall on their own business decision.  I'd add as long as public money wasn't involved.  I thought, though, the Yes on One folk had done a good job sticking to their jobs point and it would prevail.

The fourth question, the one changing the state redistricting date in the state's Constitution, passed easily.  That was a "no brainer."

The Cumberland County Civic Center was an ill-conceived project from day one.  To renovate it at tax payers' expense is still ill-conceived, but renovate it they will.  I've always believed that those who benefit from an establishment should pay for it.  Since I would still have to pay to attend events there, I'm paying double...through my taxes and my entrance fee.  We were told the Civic Center brings millions of dollars to downtown Portland.  If so, then downtown Portland businesses should be paying for it.

As I write this this morning, we're still awaiting the results and comments about Portland's new attempt at voting using a ranking procedure.

BUT...I also said I hoped at least half the state's registered voters would turn out.  That wish fell far short.  So, once again, I'm not satisfied we truly have full winners and losers.  Me?  I was three for four on the statewide questions.  As far as I'm concerned (except in Scarborough where more than 50% of registered voters cast votes) no one can claim mandates resulting from this election because of the less than 30% turnout.

Now, sex.  I think I'm a little saddened about what's happening to the Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.  I can't, right off the top of my head, remember a time when JoePa wasn't the PSU coach.  I probably should as it was in my adult lifetime, but he has been such an icon, such a role model, that he has been in Happy Valley for 46 years.  And now, apparently through no fault of his own, the end of his career might be at hand. 

Reports out of Pennsylvania say the support for Papa Joe Board is eroding.  The president of the university might also be heading for the guillotine.  And it's all because a former assistant coach has been accused of sexual improprieties with underage boys.  That assistant gave up his position in 1999 but has had access to PSU, including his own office, since. 

Why is Paterno now being targeted?  Perhaps is as simple as his becoming a scapegoat.  According to the reports, Paterno first learned of the impropriety in 2002 when a then  assistent reported a scene he viewed in a shower.  The now accused assistant was, according to the report, involved in improper activity with a young boy.

Paterno followed procedure, PA state law, and his good sense to report the incident to his superior.  He had simply done what he not only should have done but also what he was supposed to do.  If today's reports are accurate, his failure in the incident was not following through.  When he was called before a Grand Jury, he apparently answered all their questions to be best of his ability.

When the arrests began over the weekend, JoePa's efforts perhaps were simply not enough.

"Sources," according to the reports, say that Paterno's exodus from Penn State may be imminent, perhaps within a day or two or a week.  Perhaps even before you read these thoughts.

Do I know any of the facts surrounding all this?  Heck, no!  You've read here many times that all I know is what the news media wants me to know, and I've been around too many years, in fact involved in the news media for many of them, to accept all I read as fact.  So I'm not judging Joe Paterno here;  I'm just trying to express my sadness that a legendary career probably will come to an end over these events. 

He should have done more say some of his detractors.  From only what I've read, he followed the rules.  What else is there?

And Citizen Cain's accusers seem to continue to come out of the woodwork.  Like I've said, I only know what the news media wants me to know so I won't comment on those accusations.  From what we have seen, there seems to be a similarity among the accusers.  Their timing is rather interesting.  By the way, Cain is not at the top of my list of Republican preferred candidates.

I do have an inkling just how both JoePa and Herman Cain feel right now.  Someone very near and dear to me has been in a similar situation.  Fortunately for him, his accuser admitted to the police she was just trying to punish him for a perceived sleight.  His episode ended very quickly with no repercussions.  I'm afraid Mr. Paterno and Mr. Cain won't have the same outcome.

One final puzzle for this mid week:  What's with all the conference changes in college football?  I can appreciate that all the schools want to be where the big TV money is, like in the SEC, Big 10, PAC whatever it is now, etc.  But some of the real or probable changes simply don't make any sense.  Boise State in the Big East, for example.  Boise State will eat all and probably more of its share in travel alone.  I guess they are east of some place, like the Pacific Ocean.  First the changes in bowl and championship selections now a total screwing up of long established conferences.  And why is all this happening?  $$$$$$$$$!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Those referenda ad campaigns

The weather forecast is sort of giving us a hint that this will be a pretty good week, at least into Thursday and Friday.  Temperatures could touch 60 or at least into the upper 50s into Wednesday when they'll fall just a bit, but remain above the 52 degree average for this week.  Rain or showers  could be here Thursday and continue into Friday.
About an hour and a half after this picture was taken, the leaves had been vacuumed up.  About two hours after this pictures was taken, more leaves had fallen.

I'd be a little disappointed if it rained on Friday for that date a half century ago was just a delightful day.  I really remember it well.

I spent much of this past weekend thinking about what I'd write today and decided that I'd keep it simple, as usual, and leave Tuesday's election out of it.  After all, I said what I've wanted to say and I've already cast my ballot.  Unlike a recent gubernatorial candidate, I don't want to recall my ballot and get a second chance.  Win or lose, I'm comfortable with the way I've voted.

But the weekend sure did bombard us with advertisements on Questions 1, 2, and 3 on the state ballot and I changed my mind. There was a plentiful amount of money spent.  Possibly unfortunately for me, I think the huge amount of money, mostly out of state money and much of it from one person, spent to pass the repeal of the voter registration requirement and the huge amount of money spent on the two gambling questions urging passage were infinitely more effective than the money spent on the other side of those questions.

Perhaps the best campaign was waged by the "yes" on questions two and three groups.  The campaigns stayed on task and were calm and effective.  The "no" on question one group was very close to ineffectiveness.  Shucks, I don't even think that group had a clue what the question was.  They did make a change during the weekend, but it may have been too late.  I had a hard time understanding what the "ethics election" was all about.  The question was simple:  Do we want to allow election day voter registration or not.  I'm not sure just how one way or the other would be more ethical.

My stand on gambling has been solidly etched and I would have cast my vote as I did regardless of the advertising campaigns.  But the "no" people have repeatedly and consistently told us that we could lose 25 million dollars in education funding if the voters allow two new racinos and a casino, three new gambling establishments.  Huh?  They also tell us that there are no specific educational provisions if voters pass the new gambling places.  Well, gee!  If there's no provision for new gambling to provide money for K-12 education that we could lose, what is it in current law or practice that would be eliminated by the gambling passage?  I'm afraid that argument just makes no sense to me and leaves me cold.

I said in an earlier post that a basic message philosophy is sticking to message and saying it often enough begins to make people believe it, whether it is absolutely true or full of lies or not.  One side has advertised by that philosophy and the other has simply confused us.  None of the advertising campaigns, however, did or could have affected the way I voted.  My mind had been made up way back when the initiative campaigns began.

Enough of all that.  I truly do hope that if you haven't already done so, you will take a few minutes Tuesday to visit your polling place and cast your votes according to your own beliefs.  The more people who vote give more credibility to an outcome and it is our civic duty to vote.  Don't take the attitude that "My one vote won't count" or that "My spouses vote and mine will just cancel each other out" be your feeling.  Every single vote counts and is important.  Not only does your one vote count for winners and losers, the more of them cast gives credibility to the outcome.  After all, which is better, a person or cause winning by 51% or more of all registered voters, or by winning 51% of only 50 percent of those registered?  Vote on Tuesday!
Taking a picture with my camera in the sun is impossible as the viewing screen is totally washed out.  Twice Sunday I just pointed it generally in the direction of Gator Golden.  Usually when I try that, I get half a dog or nothing.


Friday, November 4, 2011


November's first weekend is forecast by weather folk as probably a pretty nice one, especially here in Southern Maine.  Sunday might be the better day.  Thursday wasn't too shabby itself.  Portland (and the unofficial weather device on my back deck) reached a high of 61 degrees.  That's pretty good for this time of year.  Watch out leaves; here we come.  Again.

I'm pleased I was able to vote my conscience at the voting booth Tuesday, a full week before I'd have to walk the gauntlet to the booths this coming election day.

Unfortunately, though, people manning those automatic calling machines don't know they're wasting their time calling my number.  I don't know if robocalls are the only kind being used this year to urge voters to support a particular person or cause.  But so far that's all I've gotten.

Robocalls, as you know, are all computer generated.  A candidate or spokesperson records a message and a computer just begins dialing in a targeted area.  Some of the calling programs are pretty sophistocated.  They detect by the voice of the person answering if that person is male or female and give an appropriate "hello."  Some can even connect the number to a family and, like a mail merge document, speak directly to the answerer.  "Good evening, Mr. Gator," or "Hello, Mrs. Gator."  I'd suspect that just how much the candidate or pact authorizing the call is willing to spend determines if it's a generic or personalized call.

Usually you can tell instantly you're getting a robocall.  If you have caller I.D., as most people have nowadays, the number can give it away.  If you have Time Warner's cable phone, the number appears right on the TV screen.  If you don't utilize caller I.D., then a small pause after you answer is the telling sign of a robocall. 

I don't like robocalls from either side of an issue simply because I can't be my usual polite self and have a nice conversation with the caller.  I like to tell them, "Thanks for the call, you blooming idiot.  Now I can eliminate your person (or issue side) from my selection." 

Or, like this year, I can always tell the caller I've already voted.  When they ask how I voted, I can tell them it's none of their business, or something like, "Gee.  Sorry.  Not for your person or cause."  All I've been able to do so far this season is hear it's a robocall and hung up on it.  What a waste of candidate's money!

I don't get people coming to our door.  Canvassers generally don't want to walk my long driveway.

I heard someone on the radio yesterday (Thursday) morning saying that folks visiting homes will be all over Portland this weekend.  That person pointed out that there are 15 candidates running for Mayor in the city and they'll be out in force in all neighborhoods to press the flesh.  I don't live in Portland so I won't get any of them.  Probably a good thing.  I'd be tempted to tell all but one that my candidate had already visited me.  I'd explain that person thought enough of my vote to get to my place early.  Of course, it really would have been moot; I'd have already voted.

Someone asked me the other day how I felt about the Herman Cain accusation.  I have no feelings about it right now.  I honestly don't know anything about it, only what the news media wants me to know.  And that's usually less than half the story.  So, until there's some substance to the accusation, I'll keep an open mind.  I should point out, however, that as of about a week ago, Cain wasn't my top choice on the Republican ticket to face President Obama.  Unless he becomes the eventual nominee, I probably won't ever have any "feelings" about this issue.

Lest we forget, the November elections are Tuesday.  It's your chance to vote for whomever you wish to make decisions affecting you in your city or town and county.  There are also several local referenda or bond questions to decide.  And there are four state questions concerning gambling, elections themselves, and redistricting to decide.  I feel I can complain when things seem to go wrong and make an issue of it simply because I have exercised my civic duty.  I hope you'll exercise yours.

By the way, if you live in Portland, Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nimitz has an interesting story in this morning's paper about the ranked voting system being used to elect a new mayor for the city.  You might be interested in reading it to see how previous users of the ranked system have succeeded.  Or not.  It's also here on line.

And now, as I do just about every Friday, I hope you have an absolutely super weekend.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November, one of my favorite months

We are in November.  This is an exciting month for the Gator Clan.  First, we made it and that's pretty significant.  There are a couple of good holidays in the month.  Next week we honor all the men and women who have served, and especially those who have died, in the armed services of our country.  The second is the the fourth Thursday, the 24th this year, when families get together for Thanksgiving.

It's the month we begin our annual Christmas Village, a collection of pieces representing England's Victorian Age and the Charles Dickens' era.  It takes us about two weeks to assemble the year's depiction.  The village construction will begin next week and we hope to light it on Thanksgiving Night, or at least by the weekend following.

This is the month that marks 50 wonderful years that Gator Wife and I have been married.

And now, at last, November is underway.

As I said we probably would in my last post, GW and I visited our Town Hall Tuesday and filled in the little bubbles that next Tuesday will be joined with other people's bubbling to determine how we will be governed for the next year.

The task here in Scarborough at least was very simple as there were only one contested full term and one contested complete-a-term Town Council seats.  Four people were running for three full terms on the Town Council.  I had carefully read about them earlier.  A weekly newspaper had asked each the same specific quesions and using their responses I eliminated one from my list.  Two folk were vying for the term to complete a fourth council seat.  Both sounded O.K. in their writeups and both were familiar names in town politics, so I just said, "That one!"

Only two candidates were running for the two school board seats.

My choice for County Commissioner would be obvious to anyone who reads these posts.  One of the candidates is an officer in the Town Committee that represents me.  Besides she and I agree on a bond question to fund a remodeled Cumberland County Civic Center.  (Yea, I know; it was deliberate.)

I suspect you already know how I voted on the four state questions from stuff I've written in the last few weeks.  If you have read my stuff from previous years, you probably already know how I voted on the bond questions, too.

I'll probably remind you to vote yourselves on my weekend and Monday posts.  I am very proud that I have voted in just about every election since I turned 21 back in the 1950s.  I'd like to say I've "never" missed one, but somehow that word "never" always comes back to haunt its sayer.  I honestly believe it is a prime duty of all citizens to exercise their right of selection in the voting booth.

Now if I lived in Portland, I might just be complaining.  The more I read and hear about that new candidate rating system they're using to select a new mayor, the more I think it's going to leave a bad taste in Portland residents' mouths.  I heard some residents in news stories last night saying they were going to simply "bullet" the ballot, i.e., vote for just the one they wanted, and others say they were only rating two to five candidates.  I would think that might leave the system really suspect in its final results.  We'll have a much clearer picture on its success or acceptance next week and I hope, for Portlanders' sake, I'm dead wrong.

I do appreciate the desire for the winning candidate to have at least 51% of the vote, but I think I'd prefer a runoff to get there rather than the rating system. 

GW and I had a needed to take a short trip on the Maine Turnpike Tuesday.  The construction work on it is brutal to traffic.  We were headed north bound past Exit 48.  The south bound lane was simply a parking lot.  Both lanes were backed up from just north of Exit 48 all the way past the Falmouth Exit to Route 100.  A stream of cars was approaching the backed up traffic so I don't know how far north it eventually went.  Motorists have been warned of construction delays, but I wouldn't have expected anything like I saw Tuesday. 

We completed our business in Lewiston and decided to take Route 100 back to Portland.  I'd warn anyone planning to head south, probably either direction at different times of the day, to heed those traffic delay warnings.  The Turnpike people aren't kidding.