Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Some of us were spared by Sandy

I'd say we've gone through a couple of interesting days.  Hurricane Sandy paid the Eastern U.S. a visit and left behind a huge path of destruction.  I feel badly for the people, especially in New Jersey and New York, whose lives have changed.

Maine missed the brunt of Sandy but many trees were knocked down.  A few of them smashed into homes and other buildings.  Power was lost in about fifty thousand places and power company officials estimate it could be Friday before all the power is fully restored.

The Gator Homestead was among the lucky places that did get some high winds and heavy rain, but real damage avoided us.  I lost a couple limbs and had to drag them to a pile to be chipped later with my tractor, but that was extremely minor compared to other places.

We're told by the weather folk that showers could still come ashore Wednesday and perhaps Thursday, but for us life seems to have returned to normal.  The good people south of us can't say that as it could be weeks or longer before normalcy gets to New York and New Jersey and the rest of the Eastern Seaboard.

Of all the comments I heard from the folks interviewed on TV news programs who live in the disaster area, I never heard once, "Oh, woe is me!  Why hasn't the federal government come in to take care of us?"  We did hear that in the aftermath of another hurricane a few years ago.

Now the election is just a few days away.  I have been thinking about it for the last few days and will have my final election comments over the weekend.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sandy Updated Tuesday

Watching the TV this morning, we saw the devastating destruction along the Eastern Seabord from the storm.  Costs for repair will be in the billions.  Many communities and neighborhoods throughout the region are without power this morning and if you haven't seen the areas, especially in New York City and New Jersey, you should spend some time on the news channels.

The Gator Homestead was a lot luckier than many people.  We never lost our power, our basement is completely dry (It isn't always after such massive storms), and the only damage we've seen so far is from one front lawn tree that lost a couple of branches.  There's nothing here for me to photograph that would be unusual.  Perhaps that in itself is the picture.

My Fearless Friend, who lives in another community, said he did lose power last night and by early today it hadn't returned; but he has a generator that has provided him with necessary electricity.

One of our retired friends who lives in Florida but comes to Maine for the summer left over the weekend for his home.  He emailed me saying he had expected to see lots of hints of Sandy along the way but saw none and had clear driving all the way to Florida's West Coast.  One sight, he said, was impressive.  Along one of the Interstates travelling north was a convoy of at least 50 utility trucks with their light flashing heading into the Northeast to help with the restoration of power.

So, so far our little place has been lucky and we've even seen peeks of sun this morning.  We are still getting a few gusts, however.  Now, we continue with the original "Sandy" post . . .

Among the many things I'm not is being a meteorologist.  I can, however, listen to those who are and be reasonably certain that we're in for at least a couple of anxious days.  A Gal Named Sandy will be influencing our weather and the things we do beginning Monday.

Sandy was a hurricane that promised all last week to be a real major storm for the Eastern United States.  We won't really know until late Tuesday or Wednesday just how "major" it truly turns out to be.  What we do know is that our section of the world probably will miss the real brunt of the storm.  Southern Maine will, though, get some pretty hefty winds with gusts into the 50s or 60s, perhaps even a 70, MPH guests.  The winds are expected to begin creeping in late Sunday and intensifying all day Monday and peak while we sleep Monday night.

"While we sleep."  Sure.  Knowing the people and pup in this house, there'll probably not be much sleeping.  I know I don't do too well when I can hear heavy winds howling outside.  Our Golden will sense our anxiety and so she'll also be roaming around the house all night, probably with the plan of protecting us.

The rains are also expected to be rather heavy at times beginning late Monday and continuing into Tuesday morning.  At least one local TV forecaster is saying by late Tuesday afternoon, we could be outside assessing what we hope will be the non-damage.

It looks like much of the northern Eastern Seaboard from Boston down through Delaware and a long way inland is going to get the direct hit and have most of the wind, rain and damage from the storm.

There have been seven hurricanes strike Maine in my lifetime, some a little more devastating than others.  The first was only known as The Hurricane of '38 in 1938 (Yes, I was around then, but just a toddler).  Carol visited us at the end of August in 1954 followed just a couple weeks later by Edna.  I left to live in Florida shortly after those but returned to Maine for good just before Donna hit in 1960.  1985 brought us Gloria and Bob rambled through in 1991.

It was during Bob when I had my most interesting hurricane experience.  I was photographing the scene around Wells for a Portland TV station.  I stood at the water's edge to get a shot of a reporter and town official looking over the incoming storm and did not see a shoulder high wave racing toward me.  The other two people shouted but I didn't hear them and was almost swept away with a very expensive TV news camera.  Fortunately, I was able to hold the camera well above my head while I got soaked by the ocean wave.  To say it was a cold, wet ride back to the TV station in Portland might be an understatement.

Now we're carefully watching the weather to see what Sandy will bring us.  I hope you'll stay safe and damage free. 

By the way, did I mention my wife's name is . . . ?  No, I'd better not go there; she might not like being compared with a hurricane.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ready for winter's fireplace; political ads; storm coming?

First of all, The Gator Congregation has voted.  We went to Town Hall Thursday and correctly cast our votes for the upcoming Nov. 6th winners.  I certainly don't want to influence you; so if you would like to know for whom we voted, you can read the list of winner on Nov. 7th.

If you have read this blog over the last several years, you know how I voted on the five referendum questions.  All five had the "No" hole filled in.  Those votes won't necessarily be revealed on Nov. 7th which is why I told you.  I can think of only one bonding question in the last many voting sessions that has been defeated.  Voters simply don't understand that bonds are loans that have to be repaid with interest thus adding to the taxes and debt.

I'd like to give some praise to the three ladies working in the voting room at Scarborough Town Hall when we were there.  They were simply super nice, which is, I think, a requirement for anyone working in Town Hall.  I've never run into anyone there in any department that wasn't helpful and nice.  (I'll exclude management types and councilors here as I haven't done business with them.)

There is one exception to the nice ladies, however.  The one who took our completed ballots refused to hit the button on her computer that would stop all political advertising and robocalls to my home.  She just smiled at my request.  I was joking about her being an exception.  She was as nice as all the rest in Town Hall.

I awoke Thursday with a huge amount of self-pity.  I hurt.  We received a cord of fireplace wood Wednesday and spent a few hours stacking it.  When I saw that fully loaded truck coming down the driveway, I thought, "Holy smoke!  That's a lot of wood!"  The wood guy reminded me that I had bought only 1/2 cords the last two times.  We almost ran out last winter so I went for the full cord this time.

Now for folk that haven't crossed the three-quarter century mark and without a whole heap of physical problems, especially spinal stenosis, a single cord isn't such a challenge.  Of course both my wife and daughter helped, but the lifting, twisting, piling, etc. I did resulted in a very sore back. 

Now, though, the wood has been neatly stacked out of the weather and is ready to save us some money on the oil bill this winter.  There's some of it right over there on the left.

Of course the Golden did her part in helping us.  She picked up little twigs and piled them neatly out back in "her place."

That built in the chair heating pad sure did feel good Thursday morning.

Speaking of political ads, I found it amusing when Angus King had one of a close-up of him saying directly to us that he did not leave a deficit when he left office.  The very next item on the TV station was a Republican ad using a graphic of the Portland Press Herald proclaiming he did leave a deficit and former Governor Baldacci speaking critically of the budget hole left him when he replaced King in the governor's office.

I also find another King ad to be amusing.  It asks who we would rather have as our Senator:  Charlie Summers who he says has been bought by out of state interests to do their bidding or himself but sort of forgets to mention his trips to Washington and New York seeking money.  I wonder if his talking about being bought is from his own experience.

I'm fascinated by the Democrats' consistent pulling out the old "Beware of what the Republicans will do to you" agenda.  For example, do they really think that I, who is a senior, believes that anything that Charlie Summers, just one of 100 Senators if elected, can do that would be worse than the 720 billion dollar cut in Medicare that Pres. Obama has included in his Obamacare?

Another ad that raises questions is the Mike Michaud one that tries to convince us that Kevin Raye will only look to fill his own wallet if elected by pointing out a kitchen Raye allegedly had made in the state Senate office area.  News media fact checking shows the kitchen shown in the ad is totally bogus and that a coffee area, which did cost a few thousand dollars to renovate, is used by all Senators.  I heard that even Michaud has said the picture used was from a photo gallery.

Has Michaud ever explained his taxpayer funded lease of a car, reportedly the most expensive lease of any Congress Critter?  By the way, both the Bangor Daily News and the Lewiston Sun-Journal have endorsed Kevin Raye to represent Maine's Second Congressional District in the House of Representatives.

One ad for President is very poorly edited, I think.  It looks like that Obama ad against Romney, the one featuring the CBS 60 Minutes guy is very obviously edited attempting to get Romney to provide an answer to a question that had been asked earlier.  Maybe the white space was intended to show it was edited.

Campaign ads are interesting.  As are the non-ads.  Why haven't the Democrats helped Cynthia Dill in her campaign for the Senate?  It almost looks like the Democrats have thrown one of their own to the wolves to support someone else.  But then, King has been a Democrat for a very long time, even though he "left" the party to run as an Independent to avoid a primary several years ago.

We're being warned of a rather large storm that might hit us next week.  Or just graze us.  Or, perhaps even miss us.  In any event we should be taking precautions as Hurricane Sandy is, at least, approaching the New England area, possibly a direct hit on Maine.  We will get some nasty weather one way or another and preparation is paramount.

Meanwhile, have a great weekend.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gators, Sox, Pats, Politics

Fall is slowly slipping away even though winter is still a couple months away.  Most of the trees in my yard have dropped their leaves, although one or two are holding on a little longer.  The sun shining through this one just outside our front door this Sunday morning gave us a memory of the beauty of this season.
Even our Golden Retriever Mariah enjoys taking advantage of this weather.
I'm thankful this week is bringing some rather nice weather to Southern Maine.  My winter supply of fireplace wood is scheduled for delivery.  At my age and mobility it's going to take some of the week to get the cord stacked out of the weather so it'll keep dry.  We've been buying our wood from Atlantic Firewood in Cumberland, ME, for the last few years and it has been excellent wood.  We expect no less this year and that will help keep our heating costs down.  But it sure does create a lot of work for this lazy old man. 
The sporting world has caught my attention this week.  First, of course, is the Gator Football Team.  Florida was one of the dominant teams in the early to mid 2000s.  That's the first time I've written that number and it looks weird to me.  Doesn't seem like the '90s, or '60s.  Yet '00s' looks awkward.  Hmmm.  I wonder what the correct way is. But I think you get the picture and I digress.
The last couple or three seasons have been rather "iffy" in the success column for the Gators.  They've gone through a couple of coaches, including Urban Meyer who brought the University to a couple of national championships before he seemed to lose his confidence under the guise of sickness.  Now we have Will Muschamp whose first season last year was less than spectacular.
One year later, the Florida Gators are back in the thick of things, undefeated after eight weeks, one of which was a bye week.  They're near the top of the major ratings, #3 in the AP and USAToday polls and #2 in the prelim of the BCS standings (#1 in the BCS computer ratings), and have returned, at least for now, to their dominance.  CBS, incidentally, in their promo for the coming weekend game against Georgia, said the Gators were #2.  If Florida wins that game, they'll be the SEC Eastern Division winner.  Once again, it's fun for us Gators to watch a game on the TV.
That brings us to the Red Sox with a new manager.  It was announced over the weekend that former Sox pitching coach John Farrell will be the manager for the next three years.  He'll replace Bobby Valentine after just one year of his two year contract.  Farrell was the Sox's choice last year but Farrell was manager of the Toronto Blue Jays and unavailable.  He was this year, too, but the Jays traded Farrell for utility infielder Mike Aviles.
We're really excited and happy about this hire.  After all, Farrell led the Jays to a better record than the Sox had last year and just beat Boston out of the distinction of being the cellar dweller.  In fact, Farrell led the Jays to two losing seasons in his two years in Toronto.  But he knows the Sox and understands the mystique that is Boston and he knows how to lose, so we're told he's a good hire.  We'll see.
Naturally, we have to mention the Patriots.  It appears as if the Pats took a page out of the Red Sox plan book, but they forgot to read the page first.  I think the one they ended up with was the one that said, "To successfully blow a season, do this: . . ."  Either that or the Patriots simply forgot that a football game consists of four quarters and not three.  Seems to me that after blowing the last quarter in their last several losses, someone would consider spending some time practicing to play that fourth quarter.  At least New England got this game into OT and won it with a field goal.
 Finally, since we're just now a couple weeks away from the election, here's a note about the election.  Does anyone find as sort of hypocritical Angus King's latest political ad that berates the use of  "out of state" money to "buy" this election by Republicans?  It seems to me, and I haven't done any fact checking on this, he is spending much more money than the Republicans and most of that is from "out of state."  There's even some rumor that the Americans Elect PAC, which is urging his support, is financed by several New York millionaires/billionaires and that King himself is responsible for the PAC.  If that turns out to be true, then it's illegal, according to election laws.
So the question is, if so-called out of state money is buying Republican candidate Charlie Summers, hasn't so-called Independent candidate King already been bought?  It would appear to me that King may be accurate in that money from away is truly trying to buy the Maine Senate seat so those investors can control even more of America.  Only it's not the Republican candidate that was for sale.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Inspiration didn't come

I'm sitting here trying to get an inspiration for this weekend.  Nothing's coming.

Most of the stuff I frequently think about is all in the past right now.  Three of the four debates are in the book with just one more scheduled for Monday night.  I couldn't fairly discuss either the two presidential debates or the veep one.  I only watched a few minutes of them.  I find the kind of demonstrations that are called debates today to be rather non-informative. 

The little I've seen so far only solidified my findings.  Yes, an argument could be made that the perhaps ten minutes I watched the first one, the fifteen or twenty minutes I watched the veep one, or the twenty or twenty-five minutes I watched the last one is not sufficient to make an honest judgment; but then at my age and predetermined feelings of the debaters, watching the whole waste probably wouldn't have changed anything.

None of that which I watched in the three so far would come even remotely close to what debates were when I was a tad younger.  Moderators moderated; debaters gave their statements, then listened to the counter arguments; and sometimes even had another round of civil rebuttal.    We were able to listen to rational sides and, coupled with our own backgrounds, either find an argument to support our feelings or be persuaded the opposition was correct.

This year, within moments of the first question the debates fell way back to the days of early debates in America.  About all that was missing was the "back to back we faced each other" and the guns.

The three moderators so far this year lost control of the respective debates almost immediately after they introduced the participants.  At least during the part of the veep candidate debate Congressman Ryan showed some sign of control and decor.  Of course the constant snickering, laughing, and body language of his opponent made that difficult.  Those distractions were all permitted by the moderator and the media helped emphasize the utter rudeness by the candidate.

A college professor which I admired very much once explained that people in serious discussion often resort to that activity to hide their inability to offer real ideas or arguments to support their beliefs, often simply because they don't have any.  The Vice President proved the wisdom of my old professor.

I almost wanted to watch the whole last debate only to see if the President would ever answer a question.  To me avoiding an answer only demonstrates the the person doesn't have one.

One last chance to see a full debate happens Monday.  Will I give up Monday Night Football to watch it?  Probably not.  Except I might watch the beginning long enough to see if, finally, a moderator moderates.

Another item from the recent past I might have commented on:  The Earthquake.  My house shook as it had never shaken before.  Until I saw it on the TV, I didn't know what happened.  My wife and I made all the rounds of the house to see if anything had exploded.  We then thought it might have been a plane crash.  Our daughter called to make sure we were all right and that's when she told us it was on TV and we learned it had been an earthquake.

I had never been in an earthquake before.  Well, not quite true.  I was around when the one in 1940 hit, but I was just a trifle young and honestly neither remember it nor remember ever hearing my family discussing it.  My wife reminded me there had been one in the late 1950s and the TV later told us it was 1957.  I never experienced that one which I can say with certainty as I was living in Florida in 1957.

And finally, the other "big" story of the week:  I was not on "The List."  I won't be on the next release, either.  The only TV news truck I'll ever see outside my house is the Publishers' Clearing House one delivering my million dollars.  Perhaps I'll increase the chance of that by sending in my whatever one sends in if I ever get another one.

I hope you have a super weekend.  I'll try to spend some time getting an inspiration for next week.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Yellow Dots

My wife and I both have a car.  Mine is very old, hers was new a year ago.  We added something to them over the weekend.  We have a yellow dot on our cars' back windows.

The Cumberland County Yellow Dot Program is designed to give first responders a quick, easy heads up in case the vehicle sporting a yellow dot is in an emergency situation.  The dot tells first responders that a yellow folder is in the car's glove compartment and that folder contains important health information.

That information could very well save a life, especially if the driver is unconscious or confused.  The emergency personnel immediately have access to vital information such as heart trouble, diabetes, or any other health condition that could hinder immediate first aid.  In my situation, for example, paramedics would know I have an implanted defibrillator.

The pamphlet in the yellow folder contains a picture of the participant and emergency contact information including names, addresses, and phone numbers.  There's a section for medications being taken, allergies, a long checklist of medical conditions including spaces for conditions not listed.  There are spaces for the names of your physicians and contact information as well as your hospital preference.

You're not restricted to just one information sheet, except a photo the owner of the information must be on the sheet.  In our case we have the identification for both of us in both of our cars so we're giving first responders all the quick information we can if an emergency occurs. 

The Yellow Dot Program started last Saturday and several places were established in the County to provide the opportunity of join it. I did it at the Scarborough Police Station and the volunteers there made the process so easy and simple.  They were a joy.  It is my understanding, though, that an appointment is necessary henceforth to become a participant.

Due to a generous donation by the Town of Gorham and several business sponsors such as Wal-mart and Moody's Collision Centers, participation in the program is free.  Among other business contributors are ODAT Machine, Inc., In-Home Senior Services, Home Instead Senior Care, Gorham Westbrook Triad, Best Buy, Gorham Health Council, Full Court Press, and Rowe Ford Sales.

I highly recommend everyone's participation.  Just having that up-to-date information readily available for a first responder could save your life.  WCSH TV 6 had a story on the program during its weekend newscasts.

While we were there, we learned of another program that helps people at home.  We picked up a similar health information sheet provided by the Scarborough Public Safety Department.  Its eye-catching color will give those emergency responders the same information if you're at home when a situation arises.

It's my understanding that hope exists for the Yellow Dot Program to spread throughout the state.

This Scarborough program along with the Cumberland County Yellow Dot Program can give you peace of mind that mistakes can possibly be avoided in an emergency.


Friday, October 12, 2012


Creating advertisements for political offices must be difficult.  The creators also seem to have a complete freedom to say whatever they want, true, exaggerated, or just plain false.  Another bad part of the campaign advertising is not knowing who is responsible for them.  These are the ones created by PACs, or political action committees. 

The best I can figure is the purpose of a PAC isn't to give great support to a particular candidate but rather to rip apart someone they don't want as much as possible.  PACs, however, do not necessarily stop negative advertising, but most of the candidates' ads at least give some hints on how they stand on various issues.  All of the ads bought by candidates include the disclaimer "I'm [candidate] and I approve this message." 

Those ads by the PACs must identify the PAC but it seems to me that disclosure at the end is said so darn fast, and sometimes soft, that it's hard to know who the sponsor really is.  But even when you can identify the PAC, "The [PAC] is responsible for the content for this message and is not endorsed by any candidate," you still really don't know is footing the bill.

Just who is the National Republican Congressional Committee or the National Democrat Congressional Committee?  I may not have those two names absolutely correct but they're close.  On the surface, it seems obvious; but I'm not sure it is.  Also, we don't really know who is providing the funding for these organizations.  That should be public information, but you might learn that finding out may be a rather difficult task.

Now there's another one that has entered the Maine fray, Americans Elect.  It doesn't seem to be an attack dog but rather one to pay for supporting ads for one Independent candidate in Maine.  The Maine Republican Party has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against that PAC because, says the MRP, it may have been formed by the candidate or at least by some named members of his campaign.  If that turns out to be true, it might be a violation of the campaign rules.

Those two national party groups have an interesting road.  One group, the democratic one, is trying to make Charlie Summers, the Republican Senatorial candidate, out to be a real bad guy and will cause lots of nasty things if he's elected to the Senate next month.  Their problem is about all they've been able to do is pull out old anti-Republican messages, you know, like the elderly will die, the children will suffer, fire and police protection will become non-existent, things like that if not necessarily those.  They show a bunch of marching men and tell us that all Summers wants to do is fall into step with them.

On the other hand, the republican group can actually pull out the record of Angus King, a former Maine governor running as an Independent.  Events are showing us Mr. King doesn't enjoy having his past brought out.  After all, say the Republicans, his policies as governor are why we have high taxation and growing welfare and economic problems the state is facing today.

What I never see is a discussion of whether King is truly an Independent or truly a Democrat.  His actions would hint the answer.  A few of us still remember that when King first decided to run for Governor, he was a Democrat.  He unenrolled from that party to run as an Independent to avoid having to face a very popular Democrat in the primary that year.  If I remember correctly, that popular Democrat's name was Brennan. 

I can't say too much about the Democrat candidate for Senator, Cynthia Dill.  There isn't too much to say except her ideas are a very long way from mine.  The PACs seem to be letting her take care of herself.

The speed of the election seems to be increasing as the days grow shorter between now and November 6th.  And by then a goodly number of us will already have cast our ballots.


Monday, October 8, 2012


I'm not a mathematician so I sometimes run into things that I totally don't understand,  and a search for an explanation has eluded me.  I hate not understanding something.  That something this time is the jobs report released last Friday.  I have no idea just how the figures are determined.  We were told that the unemployment fell from 8.1% to 7.8% in September.

Let's see.  According to government figures, September saw a weekly average of about 375,000 new applications for unemployment benefits.  If that average is correct, doesn't it mean that about one and a half million people made their initial application and thus lost their jobs?  We were told 114,000 new jobs were created so the unemployment rate dropped. 

I did hear a couple of "expert" reporters from CNN and MSNBC explain that the figures had to be correct because two different agencies contributed to them.  They said the agencies surveyed a large number of employers to learn about the jobs creation and a large number of families about people heading off to work.  What I didn't hear was how many of those surveyed were actually included and I didn't hear how many employers were not surveyed. The number of families reporting that members had returned to work was simply laughable.

These confusions along with a prediction from Rush Limbaugh last spring that this confusion would come at this time simply have me stumped.  I'm not suggesting the latest figures aren't accurate; I'm only saying I wish I had listened a lot more carefully way back when my teachers were instilling math concepts in me.

While we're discussing "numbers," let's look at some dollar ones.  I think the dollar numbers have reached such a height that very few people really comprehend them.  How many of us can really say we understand trillions of dollars.  It's just a number, isn't it?  Once we were past "billions," trillions became even easier.  I'm not sure that "millions" is truly understood as the vast majority of us won't reach that number of income in our lifetimes. 

But millions has become rather common in our discussions of salary because of all the folk we follow daily in the sports world.  It seems that the common salary for most professional athletes now ranges in the millions. 

Trillions, however, may still be so far out of comprehension that few of us relate to just how much money we, as citizens of the United States, owe, mostly to China.  The number grows by the second more than most of us earn in a given period. Have no misconceptions; we owe all that money.  Most of us really have no clue exactly what it all means.

Our state is also in deep debt for  money we must repay.  How many of us go to the polls on election day and approve the issuance of bonds to pay for many projects, admittedly most of which are important.  But, nevertheless, the issuance of bonds becomes our debt.

Having listened over the years to people talking about bonding, I have concluded without any real evidence that many people believe that bonds are simply "free" money.  It isn't.  A bond is a loan of money.  Like any personal loans, that money with interest must be paid back.  It isn't unlike a home loan or a car loan.  We want something and don't have enough money to pay for it so we borrow that money from a lending institution.  We must pay the money back with interest.  That interest is how the lending institution makes its money.

Over the years, and I can only think of one, perhaps a couple, when the state of Maine asked us to approve borrowing via bonds for, perhaps, school construction, roads and bridges, a variety of other projects including the acquisition of private land.  Not that it hasn't happened before because it most likely has, but I can think of only once in the last several years that we voters turned down a bond.

State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin has posted a blog and sent an email to many folk explaining the bonds approved for the upcoming election.  He points out that the questions themselves lead to some of the confusion by taxpayers:  "Do you favor an $xxx million bond issue to provide funds for . . .?"  Do you notice the question never mentions borrowing money but only issuing bonds?  Unless one is thinking or paying attention, one might not think about paying the money back with interest.  And all that money to be paid back comes from us in the form of our paying taxes and interest.

The total we'll be asked to approve this year is 75 and three-quarter millions of dollars.  If we approve the questions, over the ten year loan period we'll have to pay all of it back plus another almost 20-million in interest.  We already owe more than $120 million to bond holders (lenders) and have another $41 million already approved but not yet borrowed on the books. 

Our state debt along with our national debt is just one of the reasons why our taxes are so high and destined to climb higher.  Yes, I know.  We won't pay back all that money in our time.  No.  We'll simply start our children and grandchildren in life with all that debt plus a lot more which will become their responsibility.

That, my friends, is why I never vote to approve any bonding.  Perhaps, though, I should reevaluate my thoughts.  After all, it's all just free money.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

A local injustice

A couple good events can be celebrated this Thursday morning.  The first debate is behind us and the Red Sox season has mercifully ended.

If you're looking in here for my reaction to the debate, you're out of luck.  My wife was called to work earlier than usual yesterday morning to put together her specialty at the place in which she works part time.  As a result we were up and about around 4 A.M.  As a result, I went to bed about nine last night and didn't watch the debate.  I haven't yet had time to absorb all the news coverage about it.  If I do, and I get moved, I'll edit this later on to possibly reflect some observation, but they won't be first hand, only as the news media wants me to be informed.

Updated Thursday PM:  The word from both democrat and republican pundits seems to indicate that Mitt Romney came out ahead after last night's debate.  End update.

Not since 1966 has the Red Sox had such a disastrous season.  In spite of the September collapse a year ago, the Sox opened this year with some new changes, both on and off the field.  Perhaps the biggest change was the hiring of Bobby Valentine as manager.  What we learned very early on was his basic philosophy:  My way or the highway.  We lost some really good players because they dared to get on Bobby V's list.  In fairness, some players were let go to other places that probably never should have been a Soxer in the first place.  Boston paid dearly for the management mistake.

Now the off-season has begun for the Red Sox so we'll be patient for a moment or two to see what happens, such as who they sign and who they unsign.

Updated Thursday PM:  That didn't take long.  The rumors proved to be correct as the Boston Red Sox fired manager Bobby Valentine today.  He will be paid next year's contracted $2.5 million.  It also appears that Dice-K is also gone.  End update. 

Another sports story caused me to do some thinking this week.  The State Champion Cheverus High School basketball team was stripped of their 2009-2011 season state title along with their Western Maine title because an ineligible player helped win them.  The school and its staff did nothing wrong.  In fact, they tried to play the game exactly according to the rules and self-reported the player to the Maine Principals' Association, the group that controls high school sports.

Like Cheverus, the MPA followed the rules and agreed with the suspension of the player which took place at the end of the semester just before the championship season began.  He had transferred to Cheverus from another country which had different sports seasons than those here.  As a result his eligibility ended.  Everything was handled correctly to here and the fairness of the sport in Maine was upheld.  We may or may not like the limited time Maine athletes are eligible for their sports, but all followed the rule and everyone understood it.

The parents of the young man, however, didn't agree with it and took the suspension to a local judge and was given a temporary restraining order forcing the team to return him to competition.  I'm sure the judge only wanted to look out for the fairness to the young man, but that decision has now proven to have made it unfair for a whole bunch of young people who may have had a better chance of winning the title themselves.

I'm not saying that Cheverus wouldn't have won the championships anyway.  The whole team was loaded with talent and the school has a history of winning that continues today.  That team was coached by one of, if not the, best Maine basketball coaches this state has ever had.  And the coach did report the possible problem.  Nevertheless, he was ordered by the judge to restore the boy to his pre-suspension activity.

However, that judge, as I said probably in good faith he was only being fair, has caused the team to vacate the championships.  It has caused team members of two other schools wondering, "What if ...?"  Many lives have been affected by that one "fairness" decision. 

As I said, there is nothing to show that the outcome of the season would have been different.  Considering just how good Cheverus was/is, probably nothing would have changed; but three teams, one negatively, have been cheated out of learning that the hard, honest play can lead to victory.

Like you, I know all the names of the involved in this story but I've chosen not to use them so that I don't treat them "unfairly."  I would also point out that many of the young men involved would disagree with my feelings here.  A complete story, including the names, appeared in the Wednesday Portland Press Herald.


Monday, October 1, 2012

It's Debate Week; Are you excited???

Happy October.  Did September slip away faster than usual?  I think it was only 30 days this year.  This first October week brings a real fascinating event...the first Presidential Debate of this election season.  That takes place Wednesday night at 9 o'clock on just about all the stations.

I haven't decided yet if I'm going to watch the beginning of it or not.  Since we get up around 4:30 in the mornings around here, I certainly won't see the whole thing.  I doubt, in spite of the hype we'll have to endure between now and then, there'll be much new revealed.  The interesting part might be how well the two candidates handle each other while on the same stage.

Both sides have already warned us not to expect too much.  The one who has the most to lose, I think, is Republican candidate Mitt Romney.  My mind, though, is already made up and I know for whom I'll be dropping my ballot into the box.  It'll be with some sadness, though.  I'm not yet convinced the Republican Party didn't fall flat on this one.

Meanwhile, here in Maine, Angus King has adopted an attitude he had promised he wouldn't adopt and that is the use of negative advertising.  He probably didn't have any choice, though, as advertising from a national political action committee has been hammering him.  For King, though, it is not the first time he broke a promise not to use negative advertising.  He has done it in past campaigns.

He still is leading in the polls, though.  I keep getting emails from the Republican Party and from the campaign of Charles Summers on how he is gaining momentum.  But unless you get emails from the Republicans, you probably don't know it.  With the newspaper owned by his good friend and the rest of the news media following the paper's lead, King is winning the publicity contest. 

King, Summers, and Democrat Cynthia Dill are vying for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Olympia Snowe,  I wonder if the Independents who also were trying to win the seat are still in the race.  If so, they need to get out there pretty soon.

I'm not sure anyone, except, perhaps, the Republican candidate Jon Courtney, is taking the First District U.S. House race too seriously.

One of the best races in Maine might be the Second District House race.  Kevin Raye (R) is challenging incumbant Mike Michaud (D).  I think Michaud only has one ad out there, and it concerns medical help for veterans, an excellent cause.  But what else has he done?  And that ad seemed remarkably similar to one he ran two years ago.

The election is still five weeks or so away but I'll be among those not voting in November.  My wife and I will take advantage of the early voting to cast our ballots.  I find it far easier to go to Town Hall and not the high school to vote, however I would be a firm supporter of canceling the early voting process.