Monday, January 30, 2012

January is ending.

When Tuesday ends, so will January.  The best thing I can say about this month on a personal basis is it was slow.  Glancing over my calendar shows I had many days that had nothing planned.  Of course I always had Tuesdays and Thursdays filled in with my senior fitness session, but that is only a hour each day and very early in the morning.  I did get new glasses this month and I did attend my monthly lunch session with a group of fellow retirees.  But that's it.

The rest of the time was contemplating the state of the state and the state of the country.  It was very depressing.  Republicans in Maine have forgotten why they were elected, or perhaps they simply don't have that intestinal fortitude to make tough choices.  Republicans nationally have spent their time eating their own and telling us why none of the candidates for president should be elected.  As a result of that, they probably will get their wish and President Obama will continue making great speeches.

Maine Republican caucuses will begin Saturday in Scarborough and other places.  I'll probably be attending the Scarborough one.  I hope you other Republicans will check out the date, time and place of your caucus and attend.  If we do get involved, perhaps, just perhaps, the local efforts will be able to overcome the damage being done on the national scene.


Friday, January 27, 2012

It's cleanup time again!

We've arrived at the weekend, so let's have a little lousy weather.  Isn't that the way it's been working?  We woke this Friday morning to some snow which had already turned to rain in our area.  Gator Wife left for work just a little earlier in case the roads were bad.  She has called and said she ran into no problems, except there was some slush.  But not too far inland could get rather messy.  It may also see some rain, but there's a good chance of icy conditions developing.  Up toward the mountains, it'll be mostly snow.

Once it all clears out, we'll be left with Saturday and Sunday to do some cleaning up.  Wonderful!  I might be in a little trouble cleaning our yard, although the rain has already washed away most of the snowfall.  There is black showing.  Unfortunately for me, it's very wet and my tractor/snow blower absolutely doesn't like wet snow or slush and my neighbor with his plow is away for the day.

Wow!  I sure did like Rick Santorum at Thursday night's Republican debate in Florida.  At least I liked one of his answers that echoed my pleas.  Santorum called on the candidates to focus, focus on the issues.  He said we all can acknowledge that Newt Gingrich as a former member of Congress can use his background and abilities to influence current members and that Mitt Romney is extremely rich and has worked and is working very hard to be a success in life.  But, Santorum said, we are searching for a nominee for President and asked why these debates can't focus on the issues.  Moderator Wolf Blitzer didn't want that though, and led the debators right back into personalities.

Apparently issues weren't part of CNN's agenda.

In fairness, though, the candidates did spend more time on issues after Santorum's minor rant.  I didn't watch the entire debate, but after the plea I think for the first time Romney came out the winner of that debate.

By the way, I like ESPN3.  I was able to watch the debate on TV and the Gators' basketball game on the computer. 

We didn't have the pleasure of having Gator Daughter and her dog over last weekend.  My wife and I look forward to their coming weekends because we enjoy her company.  The dog is also important because it gives our Gator Golden some socializing play.  She seems to look forward to the visits as you can bet starting about 11 AM Saturday and Sunday morning GG will be at the window looking for her sister to be heading up the driveway.

She's visibly disappointed when her sister can't come.  I have no clue how the dog knows it's a weekend, but she surely knows the days she has the best chance of a playmate.

If the weather turns colder and the yard turns to ice, we won't be getting any visitors.  That's a mutual decision to protect both animals but primarily GG.  You may remember she slid on some ice last winter and had to have reconstructive surgery on her knee.  We'll do all we can to protect her from a repeat.

Have you been using the new word in English?  I haven't, but I hear it quite frequently on local radio and television programs.  I'm not sure exactly what it means, but in context I think it used to be a prefix generally meaning "not."  It seems to have divorced itself from words to take on a life of its very own, however.  "Un" is the word.  You know, like un   believable.   Or un   important.  Although I've seen "til" many times, I've yet to hear un    til.  I guess in the scheme of things that's really not too big a deal, is it?

Here's another one.  If you've visited here more than once or twice, you know I'm partial towards the news department offerings of WCSH.  It's a loyalty thing.  I worked there for a number of years and left when I retired from all my jobs.  But I still watch the newscasts on that station even though I don't often agree with their politics.  I do think that lately they've tried to become more balanced.  My first boss there required that equal time to both sides of an issue always be included in a story.  That was in a day when we were taught balanced reporting in journalism school like the one I attended at UF.

Recently the departments seems to try to show us how modern it is.  It uses Skype.  Every time a story through Skype comes on, I want to change channels, but don't because I know it won't last long.  Thursday was a good example.  A reporter in Augusta was trying to deliver a story using Skype.  Thankfully, the anchor told us what the story was about because my ears found the story conditions so bad that I could not understand what was being said at all.  The reporter was one of the station's best and most balanced so I know he had both sides of the story.  I wish I could have heard it.  I haven't seen one story using Skype that was of even fair quality.  I probably haven't seen them all, but that's one technology I'd like them to lose.

I hope you don't have to work too hard to get your yard cleaned up this weekend and can have a really nice one.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Politics and Football

I don't have much to offer this morning so I'll visit a couple of outdated items.

First, I watched part of the Republican debate from Tampa Monday night.  I kept talking to the TV, which doesn't seem to listen to me, trying to tell Brian Williams, the moderator, that there were four guys on the stage, not two.  I didn't put a stop watch on it, but it seemed that Williams paid a lot more attention to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich than he did Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.  He did give them a token appearance every several minutes or so.

What I don't understand is all the attention to the tax returns of Gingrich and Romney.  Who really cares?  I think this non-issue is simply a news media attempt to turn the upcoming election into a class war as that is what the President seems to want.  We already know that Romney and Gingrich are rich.  Very rich.  But they aren't the only rich people to ever run for office.  Was being a member of the fifth wealthiest family in America ever examined when John F. Kennedy was elected?  I don't remember so.  But that's just one example.  And has anyone demanded the tax returns of Santorum and Paul?  I think the President has released his, but, again I ask, who cares?

For goodness sake, what politician down there in Washington isn't rich?  There are a few who may not have reached the million dollar mark just yet, but there are many others who have become millionaires.  As I see it, a major problem with gaining that wealth is the individuals' growth of the need for greed and the putting aside the good of America to gain it.

The politicians' protection of their money becomes the reason for being elected, not protecting the richness of America.

I've now watched parts of two debates and have learned extremely little about THE ISSUES.  There is a distinct possibility I'll be participating in the worst election as far as choices go in my lifetime.  I've heard people say in the past that they're voting for the "lesser of two evils."  I'm beginning to think the November choices may have sunk even lower, if that's possible.

Gingrich and Romney are playing right into the hands of the backers of the President.

The sports world is ending the National Football League season in an almost similar situation.  "My team" will win the Super Bowl; that's a guarantee.  I've been a fan of the NFC's New York Giants about as long as I can remember football.  When I was growing up, the Giants was the only team anywhere close to Maine and almost all the news coverage then concerned the Giants.  Because when the television began covering pro football, coverage was regional so again, all I really had was the Giants. 

Then as I returned to live in Maine in 1960 after a stint in Florida, an upstart football league, the American Football League, began its inroads into our lives.  I can't say the Boston Patriots, at least back then, took over the football spot in my heart, but at least we had a New England team for which to cheer. In 1970 the AFL merged with the NFL and two conferences, one consisting of most of the old NFL teams and the other mostly the AFL teams with a few, three I think, switches.  The National and American Conferances were born and the Boston Patriots became the New England Patriots.

I had dual favorites, although it would still be a while before the Pats rose to consistant prominence.

Therefore, on Feb. 5th I'll enjoy this year's Super Bowl as both "my teams" will be in it.  I can't lose.

Where, then, does the similarity arise?  Well, this could be the first Super Bowl played by losers.  I watched both conference championship games last Sunday.  Yup!  The Pats scored three more points than the Ravens and the Giants followed suit against the 49ers.  However, did the Pats and Giants really win these games?  Or did Baltimore and San Francisco lose them.  I think there is a difference.  So, I say again, this could be the first Super Bowl played by losers.

(In case you're wondering why no mention of Pres. Obama's speech or Gov. LePage's speech, I have no comment.  Most of these types of speeches are rhetoric and sound nice, but it's the doing that counts.  And I haven't had a chance to digest either as I didn't watch them.)


Monday, January 23, 2012

No rant today!

I'd bet you probably are expecting a rant about Newt Gingrich winning in South Carolina.  Well, Surprise!  You won't, at least from me.  It's not that I particularly don't give a sweet pea about Gingrich, it's simply because I've become discouraged about any candidate of either party.  Oh, I'll vote in November; I know not for whom yet, but it will be the nominee with the "R" after his name.

We are rapidly falling into an abyss of the worst Presidential election in my lifetime.  As I follow the campaigns of the candidates for that "R" nomination, I'm not seeing anyone that gives me what I was promised three years ago:  Hope for the future.

These early stages of the race for the nomination have seen the spending of millions of dollars finding the faults of the candidates and it seems like precious little spending on what they could do for America if elected.  And the President can just sit back a wait until he sees who is opponent will be before he even starts, although many might say he already has. 

I simply dislike negative campaigns.  We always end up with the people less likely to perform for the good of the people  and not for their own good.  Seems to me we have a perfect example of that right here in Maine.  And I'm not suggesting it's our governor.  Of course, not everyone shares what I want for America and that's not necessarily bad.  The truth is always somewhere in the middle but we need elected officials that can reach that point through working from each side towards it, not from starting there and then moving to one side or the other.

We still have a very long way to go before both the nominations and elections occur and it's shaping up to be a rather bumpy ride.  Possibly the only winner will be President Carter who simply must be smiling widely as he digs his peanuts.  His position in the order of Great Presidents is in serious jeapardy of changing.

Now, as a side note:  I listened to Gingrich as well as N.J. Gov. Christie for Romney on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday.  Gov. Christie did little or nothing to advance Romney while Gingrich seemed to be offering ideas more closely in line with my thinking.  Hmmmmm.  Perhaps.

And finally, I liked a comment I heard somewhere over the weekend by someone I honestly don't remember because the comment didn't sink in until I was no longer thinking about it.  One of the "experts" said that Gingrich won in South Carolina because the people there were typical of people throughout the nation who are simply tired of being manipulated by the news media.  They don't like being told to vote for one candidate over another because their unofficial and manipulative polls say only one can win so we should vote for him.

And now it's on to Florida.  Floridians are in for a very nasty time.

How's that for a non-rant?


Friday, January 20, 2012

It's kind of pretty outside this Friday morning.  The snow that fell overnight wasn't unexpected and it seems to have turned out just about the way it was forecast.  Most of us didn't see the storm as it raced through our Southern Maine area overnight.  Because Gator Wife works Friday mornings, we were up sometime between 4:30 and 5 and the snow had already stopped.  At least here the snow is that light, fluffy stuff that's really easy to clean up, especially if one gets to it before the sun begins the melt.  The weather forecasters tell us we will get some nice sunshine beginning this morning.

By 5:30 this morning, our neighbor had already plowed the driveway and our porches and steps were swept off so we're basically all set.  All we have left is a little brushing in front of the garage doors and the deck. And it's not even six o'clock, yet.

Here's an oddity for you.  As of this hour at least, Portland Public Schools in our area is the only system that has closed for the storm.  We do have some one or two hour delays in a few other systems around here.  The oddity is Portland Schools are rarely the only ones closed for storms and more often than not, among the last to throw in the towel.

The less than good news for the weekend, though, is that another storm is heading our way and could possibly (depending on that track) give southern sections of Maine some more snow Saturday.  The we could be in a storm track with more storms about every other day into next week.

Today's storm will quickly leave the who state later this morning, but the scenery is rather pretty this morning.

Traveling s a wee bit slow; but like most of the time, if drivers simply add a few minutes to the commute, they should be O.K.  Both Gator Wife and our daughter had to go to work this morning; but being a thoughtful person, GW has checked in with the Old Man to let him know she arrived at her job in fine fashion.  I expect to hear from our daughter soon.

The ground will be pretty for a while this weekend and we have little else planned except to enjoy it.  I doubt Gator Daughter and her pup will be visiting, though, as we sort of discourage our dog from romping too hard in this weather to protect that leg she injured last winter.

I hope you have just a super weekend.  I think the earlier you can get your yard cleaned will make the task easiest for you.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Certain fireworks are now legal in Maine.  The Legislature passed a law last year to allow the sale of fireworks in the state.  It did include in the law an option for communities to opt out and continue their ban on the sale and use.  That law went into effect New Year's Day.

At the time I thought to myself, "It's about time," remembering my very young youth when we could set off some low level firecrackers and other types of celebratory devices.  I remember when we switched to allowing only those most dangerous Sparklers.  I thought at the time and continued to think through the years they were more dangerous than the Chinese firecrackers.  After all, the sparklers did burn at an outrageous temperature and could do some serious damage to little fingers and faces that touched the burning end.

I even cheated one time as we were returning from a vacation in Florida.  My wife and I had our two pre-teen children with us.  I really don't remember in which state we stopped after being enticed by those signs offering to sell fireworks to us.  We bought some and brought them home.  We weren't injured during our celebration.

So when Maine once again decided to allow their sale and use, I thought how foolish many communities were that outlawed them.  Many, perhaps most, of those cities and towns are neighbors of Scarborough.  Our town government did not ban them.  Of course no one in Maine sells them yet, but now that they're legal, they're easily available in nearby New Hampshire and the Maine police won't be stationed outside their stores to radio license plates to cohorts at the border.

Now I'm not so sure I wouldn't urge the Town Fathers to rethink their decision.  We were "entertained" the other night.  Shortly after suppertime, we were sitting quietly in front of our TV when three loud pops followed by two more rattled through the neighborhood.  They sounded like pistol shots.  Gator Golden, who had never heard them before, became very nervous, and that just might be an understatement.

Gator Wife and I discussed calling the police to report the gunshots but we really didn't know from where they came.  Then a crescendo of various pitches swept over us.  Fireworks.  We chuckled a little, and then, at our tender ages in the 70s, began to get slightly irritated at the continuing pop, pop, pop.  Some were obviously much bigger than others and we found them to be disrupting our peace.

We never did learn exactly from where the popping came, only a direction.  To the best of our knowledge no damage resulted and I didn't hear any calls for the medics on our police monitor.  I'm only guessing here, but it was probably just some young folk down the road a piece being young folk.  It did bring back the fun we had so many, many years before.

About 15 or 20 minutes after it began, it ended just as all good fireworks displays end, with someone lighting a whole block of firecrackers just as I did way back in the 1940s.  But those several minutes gave me a new insight into how the "old people" must have felt then when they had to listen to our fun.

Don't get me wrong here.  The people who had their private fireworks show the other night certainly didn't seem to be trying to cause a disturbance.  Considering the lack of police activity, it's pretty clear they were just a bunch of folks out for some good, clean fun.  Depending on the cost and how much fun they had, I'd be surprised if we didn't get another burst of fun.  Possibly several.  I might even wish I knew where the party was and try to join it.  Naw.  I'd feel just a wee bit out of place.

But I don't like having the pup scared.  She's eight years old and has lived a sheltered life.  Things like those fireworks are distressful to her.  Probably, if I were honest with myself, my age doesn't react too well, either.

I'm may be thinking now that perhaps my town should have joined the others around here and banned the fireworks.  They are fun, noisy fun, for the people using them and when they are not out for destruction or harrassment like the nearby group was not, then they can provide enjoyment for the users.  But now I realize that what I thought was or would be fun in my youth and early adulthood just might not have been as enjoyable to the neighbors not connected to the display.  I guess it's safe to say our perspectives change with the years.

Would that put me now in favor of banning fireworks once again?  I'll have to wait until this summer to see what happens when people spend more evening hours outside.  Until then, the pup and I will just have to learn to adjust.


Monday, January 16, 2012

The Mania!

I haven't been able to get the Tebow Mania thing out of my mind.  I'm hoping that thinking about it here might rid me of those thoughts so here goes.

I'm a legitimate Gator having spent most of my education years at the University of  Florida and earning a degree there.  I'm also a legitimate New Englander having been born in Maine and having spent most of my life here.

I have followed Florida football ever since the 50s when I entered UF.  It wasn't exciting in most of those years.  I remember vividly, however, some of the good times.  For example I recall telling a popular Portland TV sports director, now deceased, that he should be watching a guy named Steve Spurrier.  He was going to win the Heisman Trophy.  I took a ribbing over that one for a while, then the look on his face following the announcement was priceless.  He didn't have to say anything, and he didn't.

A few years later, Spurrier, now the head coach at South Carolina, returned to Gatorland to take over the team as its coach.  He brought the Gators into real national attention and consistently at or near the top of college football.  He left for a coaching positions in the pros and Florida had a few lean years. 

Then came Tim Tebow and a new coach.  With Tebow came another Heisman winner, a couple national championships and the Tebow Era and Mania were born.  But many forget those teams also had a supporting cast of superior players, many of whom are in the NFL today, and some are stars in their own right. 

Tebow was eventually drafted by Denver, but the professional mania was only tickled last year.  "Those in the know" said that Tebow, in spite of his Florida credentials, didn't have what it takes to be successful in pro ball, at least as a quarterback.  He played a few minutes in various games last year and seemed to prove "those in the know" correct.  Denver kept him but it was unclear what his role would be this past season.

Until Game Five.  With the Broncos already burying themselves in the cellar, Tebow was given a chance to show what he could do.  What he did best was on several occasions rally the Broncos in the last quarter, yanking them from the jaws of defeat.  When the season ended, what no one, except the ardent Tebow fans, thought could happen happened.  Denver went from the cellar to winning its AFC division. 

There was a major bump along the way:  they played the New England Patriots in a season game.  Well, at least they were on the field with the Pats.  Denver struggled after that until the first playoff game against Pittsburgh.

Under normal circumstances, the Steelers probably would have made a short stay in the post season for Denver.  But the circumstances for Pittsburgh were not normal.  My late grandmother used to tell me that how one's feet feel gives an indication of the whole body.  Ben Roethlisberger had a sore ankle.  Not exactly the foot, but close enough.  I cannot help but admire Roethlisberger for doing what real leaders do:  he played uncomplainingly hurt.  And it showed.  When time expired in that game, all the Steelers could show was a tie score.  Tebow performed one of his miracles.

Tebow and the Broncos had to play the Patriots.  Tebow Mania was in full force and his name was on the lips of even non football fans.  But New England had a true champion and Tom Brady didn't have a sore foot.  I agree with one of the commentators during half time of the game when he said that all the Tebow talk was a huge mistake.  I wish I could remember the announcer's name so I could give him credit.  He pointed out that Tebow was really a rookie with no real NFL past beyond this season.  He was up against one of the best, if not the best, quarterbacks currently playing football.

Brady has Super Bowl championships, MVPs, All-Star games, records, and experience going for him.  That announcer pointed out that all the talk of Tebow and virtually none of the much better quarterback didn't go unnoticed by Brady.  There could have been no better motivational hype than being ignored.

On the field Saturday night, the game was over in the first two minutes.  For the rest of the game, the young man from Denver was taken to school.  Will Tim Tebow ever become an NFL super star?  I don't know; only a few more years can give us that answer.  But for today, hindsight is much easier to handle.

By the way, Tebow wasn't the only Gator on the field.  In fact one of Tebow's UF classmates has shined this season at least as well if not better.  I think if I could pick anyone for my team today, I'd select Aaron Hernandez over Tim Tebow.

I wonder if the Ravens will be hyping Joe Flacco!

There, now I can give my thought process just a little rest.  Thanks.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow came! That's enough!

O.K.  I've been lightly suggesting for the past few weeks that I'd like some snow.  All I wanted was a little to turn the ground white and give us a winter look for a little while.  Well, the ground is white.  I don't think the forecasters I watch quite got this one right.  Inland a way, where it should be, was to get perhaps eight, perhaps more inches of snow.  We along the coast were supposed to get an inch or so and then have the storm turn to rain.

The storm gods forgot to watch my weather forecasters.  They turned the amounts around...much at the coast, less inland.

One of them said in a Thursday morning broadcast that a front fooled them.  It got right off the coast an inch or two and then stopped.  It was strong enough to hold the cold on the land side and keep out the warmer weather on the ocean side.  So we got all snow.  I think some coastal areas Downeast did see a changeover to rain, but my little chunk of the world was all snow, about a half a foot or more of it.  The weather of TV said Friday morning, my area got 10 inches.  Yes, while I was out snow blowing, I did feel about four minutes of sleet.

My super neighbor Ed has a snow plow and he took care of the bulk of the driveway for us; but Gator Wife and I did the rest with a shovel and the snow blower.  The "rest," of course, are the walkways, porches, steps and a deck and area directly in front of the garage.. 

Friday could give us a few more flurries or snow showers or even rain, but bitter cold weather will also be ushered in possibly ending our winter of warmth.  Did you see Sunday's project high?  Ten degrees.  Now that's cold.  I know Gator Daughter won't bring her dog here for a Sunday romp this weekend. 

There is one thing I have learned during this spell so far:  I had forgotten just how much my aging body hates the cold.  I've been taking, at my doctor's orders, a blood thinner for several years, too, and that doesn't help.  When we finished our cleaning task Thursday, I was so cold I wasn't sure even the fireplace would get me some warmth again.  It did.

Now we have a weekend for all the rest of the cleanup.  Other than that, we, at least, have no plans.  I will, however, begin my thoughts that no more snow is needed for this year.  I'll bet those snow gods don't hear those thoughts, either.  Thursday taught me a lesson about wishing for snow.

I hope you get your place cleaned and then have a wonderful weekend.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Snow coming??? Well, Maybe!

I've written a lot of words over the last few weeks about our lack of winter here in Southern Maine along the coastal section.  Sure, we have had a few flakes here and there so we do still know what it looks like.  But I've been following the fun folks on coastal Alaska have been having.  I can't even imagine what more than 18 feet -- yea, you read that right, 18 feet -- of snow would be like.  That's what the good people of Cordova, Alaska, are seeing outside their homes, several of which have collapsed under the weight.

That's not the deepest.  Nearby Cordova is Valdez, you know of the oil spill fame.  They're passing the 21 foot mark.  And that's not even the normal.  Almost, though.  The average annual snow in the area reaches about 27 feet.  I'd sure like to see an inch or two of snow here this season, but I certainly wouldn't want us to get 320 inches.

Oh, by the way, that Alaskan coastal area is again in a snow storm.  Another foot or two was expected in this one.

Back here in Maine, our fortunes could be in for  change, though.  Certainly not as drastic as the Alaska situation, but the forecasts here say we could be getting some real snow Thursday.  A goodly portion of our area, especially just a few miles away from the coast, could get up to six fee...whoops, I got carried away writing about Alaska... six inches of snow, the first real storm in January.  Here along the coast, though, it'll depend on that old standby, The Track.  The Wednesday morning forecast said we might get a couple of wet inches before it turns over to rain.  Again, it's that track.  We'll know Thursday morning.

Another one is down.  The second test for Republican presidential candidates took place Tuesday and surprise! Romney won.  He lived up to the polling exectations and beat runner-up Ron Paul.  Jon Huntsman, who spent all his time only in New Hampshire, was third making these three the targets heading south.  Rick Santorum, who spent nothing in New Hampshire, was unable to follow-up on his close second showing in Iowa, and Newt Gingrich virtually tied for fourth place.  And Rick Perry, who had stayed in South Carolina during the New Hampshire quest, finished in last place.

Now it's South Carolina's turn to get all the robocalls, blanket ad campaigns, and news totally dominated by the chase.  Perhaps there'll be one or two fewer still in the hunt (even perhaps by mid-morning today), but that's not certain just yet.  It is possible, probable, that if not before certainly after S.C. the cast of six could be reduced.  I do believe I'm glad I'm not in South Carolina so don't have to go through all of it again.  We'll still get our share, though.

And speaking of robocalls, did you see the people complaining in New Hampshire about the number of those automated calls they got.  I liked the comment of one voter exiting the polling place.  Asked when he made up his mind, he responded, "About 30 calls ago."

Here's an  interesting tidbit in the news.  The good people of Madison, Wis., are resting a little easier.  Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop, a 30-year-old man, was arrested in a tennis court.  He was charged with excessive drinking and using drugs.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Another Monday

I guess one might call the weekend that just left us a rather dull one.  Well, not really.  It was nice weather for local people who don't like shoveling.  But for outdoor lovers it might have been another in a long string of disappointments.  Imagine, temperatures in the 40s in the first full weekend of January.  I understand that if skiers wanted to travel just a wee bit, some of the mountain slopes were open for skiing.  Many, probably most, entrepreneurs who rely on winter weather continue to struggle, though.

This week has started off right about in the same conditions.  There is a chance, we're told, of a storm later in the week, possibly Thursday, but you know the old familiar phrase:  It depends on the track.  We could get some precipitation, most likely rain in our part of Maine, or that storm could miss us altogether.  We'll see.

We weren't disappointed in the blanket coverage of the New Hampshire Primary election which will be held Tuesday.  The Republicans were involved in two debates within just a few hours of each other over the weekend.  Believe it or not, I watched one of them. 

That one was the agenda-driven NBC David Gregory Meet The Press/Mitt Romney show.  I suspect you've seen here a few times in the past what my opinion is of David Gregory as a moderator.  He lived up to my expectation Sunday morning.  It might be interesting to see how much time was given to Mitt Romney, the front-runner, compared to the other candidates.  Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich also had a pretty good share of the 90 minutes.  The others were given a chance to express themselves occasionally.

Romney was a target for the others throughout the debate but on several occasions he did hold his own.  Unfortunately, I never heard just how each of them would work to bring together the huge split in government in Washington or just what their plans were to fix our economy, get businesses to create more jobs, to fix the housing crisis, to meet the challenges in foreign countries. 

I would like to see the six candidates debate the issues and show me how they differ in leading the United States.  The name calling and bringing up, for the umpteenth time, long gone issues does nothing to grow the Republican Party and give us a reason to make a much needed change in Washington.

I'll probably end up following the advice of my Fearless Friend:  in November, go the voting booth, hold my nose very tightly, and make my mark for whoever is the Republican candidate.  I had said a while back that I might just not vote, but that would be a mistake.  I always remember a saying on a sign at the Portland Boys' Club (long before it was the Boys' and Girls' Club): A winner never quits and a quitter never wins. 

New Hampshire will be over Tuesday.  Then we'll have to go through it all again in another couple of weeks.  Perhaps by then there'll be a dropout or two from the six remaining candidates.

Monday night also brings the last college football game of the season. LSU and Alabama duke it out for the National Championship. Or do they? The AP news service doesn't participate in the Bowl Series championship selection. Even though the AP usually selects the same team as the winner of the National Championship game, it isn't a given. I've read of some unrest among the AP voters that Oklahoma State should have played LSU in this game. After all, they say, the Tigers have already beaten UA once this season. If Alabama wins, the AP could vote for Oklahoma State giving us dual national champs. I doubt it'll happen, though.  (If you're reading this Tuesday, you probably already know.)

I remember, and I bet most of you do also, when we only had a handful of bowl games, all of which ended the season on New Year's Day when all but one or two of them were played. Attendance was down this year for the bowl games which could be the result of the economy but more likely it was the number of games. We had 35, yes, 35 college football bowl games this season. Too darn many teams created many really lousy pair ups and many scores showed that. Perhaps that's a reason why attendance was down this year.

I should acknowledge the college season isn't fully over. There remain a couple of senior showcase games to give N-F-L hopefuls a last chance to show off their skills before draft day. I rarely watch these kind of games in any sport.


Friday, January 6, 2012

We're greeted with a light snow this (Friday) morning

Although I think I explain in my profile that the thoughts that I express here are totally mine and unsubstantiated, I try to base my thoughts on what I actually know.  You've read here many times that I couldn't be definitive because I simply wasn't involved in whatever it was about which I was commenting.  Usually it involved a guilt or innocence of someone.

Sometimes I may screw up.  That was the case on my earlier post this morning (Friday).  I commented on an issue on which I hadn't checked both sides.  I've learned a lesson.  You can see that earlier post if you wish as it is still available on this blog.  Nevertheless, I'm unhappy with myself that I jumped off the diving board without checking for water below.

So this post contains much of what I had earlier said but without a reference that now appears to be totally untrue.

Speaking of change, isn't it pretty outside.  A light snow has been falling for a couple of hours and there is a coating that has turned the ground area a nice, clean white.  It's not going to amount to much, but it sure is pretty.

Now here's much of my original weekend post:

After a rather cold-for-this-time-of-year couple of days it would appear that the weekend will once again return to above normal temperatures. Still no snow in the forecast, except there's always the chance of a flurry or two. Knock on the top of my head, I still haven't gotten any flu symptons yet this season, but this is the kind of weather pattern that just invites illness.

I see in the news I may have been right. A couple of Republicans have come out and flatly said they would oppose at least part of Gov. LePage's plan to fix the shortfall in the DHHS budget. As usual with folk critical of things, they didn't offer a solution to the lack of 122 million bucks. I guess their own electable future is the main concern. I wonder what they'll do when the state simply runs out of money, perhaps as early as this year.

Wow! Have you seen the price of gas lately? Last Tuesday when I went to my senior fitness session, the gas on Western Avenue in South Portland was $3.229. Two days later on Thursday, it was $3.369 per gallon. In two days! I've read that it's going up another 30 to 60 cents in the next couple of weeks. Why? I can think of a couple of reasons. Iran is making threats about closing the Straits of Hormuz to cut off an oil supply route. The U.S. does not rely on oil through those straits. The U.S. hasn't permitted a pipeline to be built from Canada which would give us cheaper oil. And Congress has allowed a subsidy for its required ethanol in gasoline to expire. Did you read that the United States' #1 export is gas? Perhaps we should keep more of it here.

It would be far better if Congress would simply eliminate the ethanol requirement and that just might lead to a lowering of food prices along with lower gas prices. And my lawn mower might run better, too, along with a return to the former gas mileage in my car.

Did I also hear on the radio that gas prices could reach $4.50 by this summer?  I haven't been out this morning, but I'd be surprised if they're not already rising above Thursday's price.

In the TV advertising department: The entire ad industry must be salivating over the new Jenny Craig commercial. You know, the one that has the big scantily dressed girl gyrating and making a funny noise. The ad agencies would have to go a long way to create a worse commercial.

I could stand to lose a few pounds, but the latest Jenny spot sure turns me off. There's nothing about it that would want me to buy the comany's diet food. Maybe it's just the "before" ad and they're planning a "30 pound loss" one later. "But, Gator, if it doesn't affect you, why say anything here?" Simple. When it comes on, and it appears to be in a 'flood the market' cycle, both Gator Wife and I cringe and say almost simultaneously that it is by far the worst commercial we've seen in many years. Jenny, it's time to bring back Valerie.

The Gator family here will have another easy weekend. Seems strange in January to have such fine weather and we've got nothing planned. At least I'm not concerned with lawn mowing every week.

I hope your weekend is just a super one.


The weather makes it difficult to think of January

After a rather cold-for-this-time-of-year couple of days it would appear that the weekend will once again return to above normal temperatures.  Still no snow in the forecast, except there's always the chance of a flurry or two.  Knock on the top of my head, I still haven't gotten any flu symptons yet this season, but this is the kind of weather pattern that just invites illness.

I see in the news I may have been right.  A couple of Republicans have come out and flatly said they would oppose at least part of Gov. LePage's plan to fix the shortfall in the DHHS budget.  As usual with folk critical of things, they didn't offer a solution to the lack of 122 million bucks.  I guess their own electable future is the main concern.  I wonder what they'll do when the state simply runs out of money, perhaps as early as this year.

Did you read about the legislators of both parties who have taken advantage of a well written loophole in state law that allows them to get millions of dollars in state money without having to declare a conflict of interest?  If you haven't, it makes for interesting reading but I'm not sure if any of the sites I've read still have the story.  You may have to Google it to find something current.

Edited at 7:25 AM:  I'm retracting the above paragraph (not just eliminating it because that would be unfair editing).  I just heard Joe Bruno, one of those charged with unfairly taking state money give a full explanation.  He never did take the money except a couple organizations he is involved with, including a pharmacy he owns, were mentioned in the story.  Speaking on the Ray Richardson Show on WLOB radio, Bruno explained that the money his pharmacy received was all payments for prescriptions authorized through the MaineCare program of the DHHS.  He gave a thorough explanation of the whole accusation and proved just how the original news media stories were simply fabrications of the truth.  I hadn't mentioned Mr. Bruno in my original paragraph, but his name was prominent if you found the stories.  I'm sorry I brought this forth here.

Hmmm.  I wonder if there's any connection between those last two items.  Hmmmm.  Naw!!!!  Just Replublicans who are clueless why the majority of voters in this state returned them to leadership roles.  Obviously the first sentence here also becomes a hoax.

Wow!  Have you seen the price of gas lately?  Last Tuesday when I went to my senior fitness session, the gas on Western Avenue in South Portland was $3.229.  Two days later on Thursday, it was $3.369 per gallon.  In two days!  I've read that it's going up another 30 to 60 cents in the next couple of weeks.  Why?  I can think of a couple of reasons.  Iran is making threats about closing the Straits of Hormuz to cut off an oil supply route.  The U.S. does not rely on oil through those straits.  The U.S. hasn't permitted a pipeline to be built from Canada which would give us cheaper oil.  And Congress has allowed a subsidy for its required ethanol in gasoline to expire.  Did you read that the United States' #1 export is gas?  Perhaps we should keep more of it here.

It would be far better if Congress would simply eliminate the ethanol requirement and that just might lead to a lowering of food prices along with lower gas prices.  And my lawn mower might run better, too, along with a return to the former gas mileage in my car.

Did I also hear on the radio that gas prices could reach $4.50 by this summer?

In the TV advertising department:  The entire ad industry must be salivating over the new Jenny Craig commercial.  You know, the one that has the big scantily dressed girl gyrating and making a funny noise.  The ad agencies would have to go a long way to create a worse commercial. 

I could stand to lose a few pounds, but the latest Jenny spot sure turns me off.  There's nothing about it that would want me to buy the comany's diet food.  Maybe it's just the "before" ad and they're planning a "30 pound loss" one later.  "But, Gator, if it doesn't affect you, why say anything here?"  Simple.  When it comes on, and it appears to be in a 'flood the market' cycle, both Gator Wife and I cringe and say almost simultaneously that it is by far the worst commercial we've seen in many years.  Jenny, it's time to bring back Valerie.

The Gator family here will have another easy weekend.  Seems strange in January to have such fine weather and we've got nothing planned.  At least I'm not concerned with lawn mowing every week.

I hope your weekend is just a super one.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The end begins, but it's still a long road

This is a good day.  We'll finally get Iowa out of the top of the news.  Finally!  Of course New Hampshie will still be right up there and, because of our proximity to New Hampshire, the onslaught of the primary there will make Iowa's efforts look rather dismal.  Then we'll be on to even more of these state promotions.

I heard one pundit, sorry-don't remember which one, say that it might be possible the Republican nominee will be known by the end of February.  That's probably too much to hope for.

I'm selfish.  I'm beginning to think of only how all this stuff will affect me.  Truth is, it won't.  I can't vote in Iowa.  I wouldn't anyway as one has to pay to vote in the caucus.  The results tonight could affect the ultimate choice of a nominee.  Did I read somewhere, though, that the Iowa caucus isn't consistent in choosing an eventual winner?  I believe New Hampshire has a better record.  But I can't vote there, either.  Nor can I vote in any of the other primary or caucus states except Maine and this state's turn doesn't come around until well into the process.  By then, we'll already have a strong hint of whom the national convention will choose this summer.  Maine, incidentally, will hold its caucuses in mid to late February, but the state conventions to select people for the national one won't be until much later.

I will vote for the Republican nominee next November; except there's one candidate I could never give the "X" to.  If that person gets the nomination, I'll probably just stay home as I couldn't vote for the other team's nominee, either.  That other team has already chosen current President Barrack Obama to try for a second term.

We had hoped for great things last year when voters gave Republican majorities to both legislative houses in Maine and the House of Representatives in Washington.  There were also enough Republicans elected to the U.S. Senate to affect change.  Maine also made it a trifecta with a Republican governor so they had total control in Maine.

I'd give Maine Gov. Paul LePage high marks for his efforts.  We haven't had nearly the improvement that many of the wing of the party I mostly support wanted.  But that's not because Gov. LePage hasn't tried.  He's worked tirelessly to get our economy and jobs market under control along with changes in our tax structure and medical care.  Currently he's working extremely hard at getting the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) under control.

The problem is in the Maine Legislature.  Most politicians in both Maine and the for Federal offices work only for one goal:  get re-elected.  To Hell with the state and nation.  They can't bring themselves to recognize the trouble both this state and country are in.  If they do have a glimpse of it, they don't have the will to do anything about it.  After all, they need to be re-elected in November.  Furthermore, many members of Congress and the State Legislature were members when all the spending and growth of government began.  It's very difficult for people to admit they were wrong and make corrections.

Gov. LePage knows the problem and is trying at least to get the spending and debt under control.  President Obama has no clue and is only working to make it worse.  I will give the President a compliment, though.  He sure can speak a good game and get many people fooled.

I guess I'm spending a lot of words to say simply that considering the cast of characters the Republicans are considering and the Democrats choice of President Obama, when it's all over next November, nothing will change in either the state or the nation.

I'm sad at the direction we're taking.

But, at least the first obstacle will be completed later today.


Monday, January 2, 2012

I've only one seen Bowl Game live, and it was a Gator Bowl

Gator Bowl:  Florida 24, Ohio State 17
It was back in January of 1960.  I was in my senior year at the University of Florida and the Gators were heading to a nearby bowl, the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.  I had never been to a Bowl game so right after it was announced the Gators would be in the Gator Bowl, a very close friend at the time and I decided to make the trip.

Directly across the street from my dormitory was Florida Field, then the home field of the Gators in games only, and where the home/away ticket office was located.  So on the morning tickets were dispensed, I was in line very early.  I wasn’t alone; I think at least half the student body was there.  We were ending Final Exam Week so many had already left for home.

I was lucky.  My tickets were for great seats about on the 45-yard line about half way up the side.  After I completed my one remaining final exam, in the same building, incidentally, as the ticket office, I headed for home just outside St. Petersburg.  My friend, who was a student at Florida State University in Tallahassee, had already gone to her parents’ home on the other side of St. Pete.

We had a good time planning our trip.  My Mom and Dad helped me out considerably.  On Christmas Day I had dozens of presents under the tree; all of them were carefully wrapped variously sized and shaped containers containing a five dollar bill.  I shall never forget that Christmas Day.

Back in the pre-Interstate Highway days, the trip to Jax from St. Pete was a rather long ride, but it was a fun one.  We attended some Gator events before the game and then she pretended interest while I yelled and cheered as the Gators beat Baylor.  The fun, the excitement, the atmosphere of a college Bowl Game, even if at the time it was only rated fifth behind the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, is an experience one never forgets.

Those same five Bowls are still in existence although in this day and age of corporate naming their names aren’t quite the same.  And now under the new Football Championship Series they don’t even have the same importance.  Well, the four others still claim the top teams and the national championship game is played in one of them on a rotating basis, but with the plethora of new Bowls and the number of teams playing for their own bragging rights, those old New Year’s Day Bowl Games, which are no longer even played on New Year's Day, have lost a little of their luster.

My friend and I parted ways about half way through that final semester and have had no contact since.  But that won’t change my venture into memory lane as I turn on the Gator Bowl this Jan. 2nd.

I hope your New Year Celebration was a nice, safe, and sane one and that this New Year will bring you prosperity and happiness.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

Happy New Year,


May 2012

Bring you Great Personal Peace,

Wonderful Happiness,

and Prosperity.