Thursday, January 30, 2014

A success, I think

Well, my surgical procedure is over and the doctor says it was a success.  I used to have a stent across my abdomen, but it broke free from its artery source.  The doc had carefully examined it via several methods and determined it was no longer in use.  In fact, the surgery showed, the blood vessel it had replaced had begun working again.  So the stent which discontinued itself was removed.

From what the doc said, it was not a common occurrence.

I'm happy to say my stay at Maine Medical Center was a good experience.  Every person I met or took advantage of was just plain super nice.  My roommate was also a great guy and we seemed to get along very well.

I haven't mentioned the food to my Fearless Friend.  He had been in the hospital for a procedure a while back and said the food was less than what he was used to at home.  Actually, I think he used a couple adjectives I shouldn't repeat here.  So, since I didn't want him to feel bad, I haven't told him the food I had was just super.  I was somewhat surprised that my breakfast French toast was real, just made French toast, not frozen or anything, and cooked just before it got served.  Excellent.  The night after the surgery I had something they called soup.  The flavor was very good.  In fact the whole thing was good if you don't mind your soup vegetable cut in 3 inch pieces.

A nurse/physical therapist came to my home today for a safety check and to be sure the dressing was changed correctly and to see if I needed regular visits from a visiting nurse.  We decided it wasn't a necessary thing and I passed all the safety checks quite well.

So now I'm on my way to get up and at 'em again.  It is a real good thing to have any necessary surgery behind you and no longer facing you.

Enjoy your weekend.  Probably see you again Monday.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Time out!

I'm afraid a little personal situation has taken my mind almost totally away from this blog.  I'll be undergoing a little surgery Monday and for some reason I can't keep focused here.  As a result, I'll be gone . . . again . . . for another week or so.  Be back soon.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Time out!

I'm afraid a little personal situation has taken my mind almost totally away from this blog.  I'll be undergoing a little surgery Monday and for some reason I can't keep focused here.  As a result, I'll be gone . . . again . . . for another week or so.  Be back soon.


Monday, January 13, 2014

The continuing "This and That" non-important stuff

No surprises over the weekend.  The two best teams in the AFL conference of the NFL have moved into the conference championship game next weekend.  Both the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos quite easily whipped their semi-final opponents.  The only problem now is the records of each.  Except for an unexpected loss in Miami, the Pats would have home advantage next weekend.  Instead, Denver has it.  Unfortunately and creating a massive challenge for NE, Denver has had terrible luck in Foxboro while NE's record in Denver is also woefully pathetic, especially in tourney games.  We'll continue though:  Go Pats!

Did you watch the Golden Globe Awards show in TV Sunday night?  I didn't.  As a result, I can't comment on the choices.  Why didn't I watch?  I simply could care less.  To be fair, though, I rarely (one should never say "Never" because that comes back to haunt) watch awards' shows, whether it be sports or non-sports.
I've mentioned my feelings of TV hype in the past.  I realize that big shows are a basis of great revenue for the networks, but more often than not, the hype turns me off.  We've been hearing both on the network and local station that the Sochi Olympics begin in February.  I think the only thing all those promotional messages and so-called news stories accomplish is filling time for organizations no longer capable of real reporting.
Sure, if my choice of watching TV is one or two Olympic events or the NBA, I'd choose the Olympics, but I'll bet those games will have limited exposure on my TV.  Those events with winners chosen electronically (timing) or scoring goals, etc., have an infinitely better chance of being seen by me than those events chosen by human judges.  And, yes, included in that latter are events chosen by score when human judges have assigned the points.
I don't think too many readers look at that little box over on the right that says, "Other places I like to visit."  If you are one, however, you may have noticed a very slight change.  The place AMG, As Maine Goes, is gone.  The forum has been silenced and is, therefore, no longer available.  It was, as I understand it, a voluntary decision to shut it down by the owner and editor, Scott Fish, primarily because it had become too time consuming and expensive to maintain.  I'll miss AMG.
A new forum is available for those of us who are conservative and like to share our viewpoints.  Many of the posters from AMG have migrated to The Maine Citizen (, but it is not a fully conservative site.  Anyone can join and discuss any issue or any topic whether it be conservative, libertarian, constitutionalist, liberal.  I haven't seen anything confrontational there as posters seem to be accepting the site's owner's, Bob...sorry I don't know his last name) request to keep the posting civil.  Ideas, points and counterpoints, are the rule of the day.
The Maine Citizen is a new, clean site and relatively easy to navigate.  However, because it is new, it is constantly undergoing changes.  They're all for the better, though, and it gets easier to use every day.  I know you'd be welcome if you'd like to visit it as I do daily.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Some weather; A little politics

We're having a veritable heat wave outside this weekend as, at last, that cold, very cold snowy, icy weather has parted ways.  At least for now.  Today (Saturday), though, isn't the nicest day of the winter.  We awoke this Saturday morning to icy rain and slick roadways and parking/walking lots.  The rain is expected to continue all day and into the night.  We seem to be in an early January thaw which will last at least into mid week.

My wife Sandra had to go to work early this morning because of a special platter order she had to fill.  She is a "platter lady" on days she works at her part time job in a local supermarket.  She left home rather early today, 4:30 AM, to allow for the expected icy driving conditions.  We have a police monitor and earlier this morning, a message that Route 22 was a sheet of ice was heard.

She called when she arrived and said the travelling wasn't as bad as expected ". . . if you didn't mind the car's rear end arriving first."  She also said it took her almost as long to walk across the parking lot where she works as it took to drive there.

Her experience this Saturday morning leaves me to caution you to use extreme care if you have to go out.  The morning news confirmed her observation as we were told numerous accidents have been reported this morning.

At least the weather folk tell us we could be looking at sunshine Sunday.  Speaking of weather folk, are there any more trite speaking people on TV than weather reporters?  "Out there" is one of their favorite phrases.  That is repeated so many times during a weather show that I've begun to shout back, "Where, pray tell, is 'There'?"  Where else do we get weather?  It's been quite a while since I've had rain or snow or ice in my living room.  And now a new one they've adopted.  "When all is said and done."  One of the most ridiculous interpretation of that would be that IF "all is said" and "all is done,"  there's nothing left and we're done.

I know that's picky and rather dumb, but I'm just so darn sick of the trite repetitious phrases weather folk use.

If anyone could find humor in all the snow and ice the country has seen over the last couple of weeks, a reporter on NBC News did.  The story concerned a town in Michigan, Hell, Michigan, to be exact.  The report said the entire town was iced over.  The reporter's concluding remark:  "I guess there will be a lot of stuff done this weekend."

In the news this weekend, we've learned after less than a week that nothing has changed in Augusta.  The Democrats and Republicans are serious squabbling over four major topics:  the budget shortfall, Medicaid expansion, welfare, and EBT cards.  Actually all four are spending problems within the Department of Human Services.

There's a huge shortfall in the budget and the Democrats want the Governor to explain why and to offer a budget to fix it.  Seems to me he did that last year when he presented a balanced budget that was over ridden by the Legislature and more benefits were added to the DHHS budget.  Now, of course, legislative denial is placing the blame on the governor.

Medicare expansion, according to one report, would add millions of dollars to the state's budget over the next few years.  Reports from other states say that expansion as part of Obamacare in those states have done exactly that there.  The President says the Federal Government will cover most of the cost, at least for the first three years, but that hasn't proven to be the case elsewhere.  Maine simply cannot afford to provide free or low cost health insurance to young men and women fully capable of holding jobs and buying their own.

This last week we learned of serious abuse of the EBT cards which are uncontrolled debit cards issued temporarily (remind you of the guy with the bridge for sale?) to buy necessities for needy families (TANF).  The report not only claimed the abuse of spending on non-needy items, like vacations, in bars, gambling casinos, and strip clubs, but provided the data to back up the claim.  Part of the money added to those cards each month comes from Maine taxpayers.

Maine is well known throughout the land as a haven for welfare benefits for non-residents and that's another area the Legislature is attempting, at least one side of the Legislature, to bring under control.

The Republicans want reform on these things; the Democrats want expansion.  And the battle is less than a week old.  The answers, of course, are somewhere between the extremes of the two sides.  I wonder whatever happened to discussion to resolve differences.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Baseball got it "right"

Hard to be thinking about baseball with the temperatures below freezing, and occasionally below zero,  and snow/ice on the ground.  But then Spring Training is only about 38 days away.  Baseball is on my mind today simply because, this year least, the baseball writers association got the Hall of Fame selection right.  On Wednesday, it was announced that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were the players elected this year to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  This was the first year of eligibility for all three.
One other player, Craig Biggio, missed the selection by a mere .2 percent of the vote.

Managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa were voted in last month.  The actual induction into the Hall will be in July for all six new inductees.

One of the interesting facts is that both Maddux and Glavine played for Cox during their careers.

A reason I'm happy with the selections is that they represent to "good" in baseball.  They were the type of role models that dads' pointed out to their sons.  None of the famous, or is it infamous, steroid era players, notably Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, three of those eligible, even came close.  In fact, the percentage of votes for each actually was lower than last year.  Manny Ramirez will be eligible next year and it'll be interesting to see if he makes it.
Just 38 days from Thursday, we'll be watching the current crop of players to see who will grow into that HofF status down the road.
I have a TV Question not related to baseball.  Did the producers of CBS's NCIS swap Ziva (Cote DePablo) for new writers?  I am rapidly losing interest in what was one of my favorite network shows.  The loss of Ziva is dramatic and the new story lines are terrible.  That's one fan's humble opinion.
The Maine Legislature is back in session.  It's going to be an interesting session as the war between the Democrats and Republicans with Gov. LePage is already on a short stick.  Welfare reform, which this state very badly needs, and adding people to the Medicaid rolls, which states that have already done the expanding have discovered is extremely costly.  I'm still afraid we're all going to find this "affordable health care" enacted by Congress is going to be very far from affordable for many of us.  I think we'll begin to see the costs when paychecks begin to arrive this week.
That cold weather is beginning to call it quits.  Our temperatures should be reaching into the 40s here in the Greater Portland area of Maine by this weekend.  And the January thaw could continue into next week.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Is expensive education better?

For the first time in quite a while I'll not be able to show any pictures of our annual Christmas Village; it is gone.  Our living room is back to normal and everything is packed away until Nov. 11th.

While we were packing the stuff, I glanced out our living room window and this is what I saw:
That's our 10-year-old Golden Retriever, Mariah.  She loves being on top of the huge pile of snow left behind after our plow guy cleared our yard.

Naturally, seeing her out there called us outside for a couple more pictures which included both Mariah and our daughter's 7-month-old Golden puppy, Brandy.  Here's Brandy on that same snow bank:
Except she's a little smaller because of her age than Mariah, they almost look like they came from the same momma.  They didn't.
Meanwhile, Mariah has spotted an arch enemy, a neighborhood cat, and heads off to greet it.
Finally today, here are the two dogs together, still on that snowbank.
The news on the TV last night had a featured story on the new South Portland High School expansion.  It has all the modern technical amenities that one can possibly want.  I'm glad I don't live in South Portland and paying for that place in my tax bill.
I'm probably just jealous, but I can't help but remembering the old Leland School and Longfellow School in Deering Center.  Those two buildings are where I began my educational life.  The two schools were torn down and replaced by today's Longfellow School long after I had moved on. 
The junior high (no "middle" schools back then) and then high school were cold places compared with today's modern schools.  But we were educated.  We learned spiffy things that are either not taught at all or just passed by in today's schools.
We learned our "times" tables and how to solve arithmetic and more advanced problems.  I know they teach math today, but take away the electronic help, like calculators, and today's students sometimes are in deep trouble.  Simple tasks like making change are almost impossible by both youngster and young adults today.
I'll never forget the time a few years ago when I was in one checkout aisle at a large store when the cashier in the next lane had scanned the goods and told the customer how much was owed.  I don't remember the real amount, but it was something like $15.27.  The customer gave the clerk $16 and the amount was entered into the cash register.  All the clerk had to do was read that the change was 73 cents.  But the customer stopped her and said, "Oh, wait," said the customer.  "Here's a quarter and two pennies."  The poor kid stared at the change and tears came into her eyes.  She had no idea how to handle the situation and called for a supervisor.
Way back in the 1940s, I actually had a full year's course on spelling and handwriting.  Yes, using those cursive letters.  Today, schools that haven't already done so, are dropping handwriting as even a portion of a class.  I often wonder how today's youngsters will be able to sign check or contracts.
In high school I actually studied Latin for two years.  I've never spoken Latin, but even today there are few new-to-me words that I can't figure out the meaning.
We've been reading and hearing in the news lately that students in the United States are falling way behind students in other countries.  I can't help but wonder if all these modern technologies we in the classroom are really helping the kids.  It seems like the more money we pour into education the further down the knowledge base falls.
I guess I shouldn't be too critical of today's education.  I don't know how to send text messages or tweet.  I do have a Facebook page I think I used once a couple years ago.
I've read we shouldn't be too lulled into believing our cold streak Is over.  We do have simple rain today, but the cold will probably return in a couple of days.  Stay dry today.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The snow hasn't stopped our projects . . . yet!

In the cold and snow Thursday, the tree removal crew returned and completed the task they started New Year's Day; they finished taking down two big oak trees that used to be in our front yard.  They also cleaned up all the debris. 
The guy way up there in that bucket did an impressive job, impressive to folk like me who could never have done it, in cutting off the branches and larger limbs.  Probably doesn't sound too impressive and just a routine job, but, although you can't see them, just to the left of the tree is a utility pole which feeds the electricity, telephone, cable, and Internet cables to the house.  One wrong cut and my home would have gone dark in a great big hurry.
But this guy knew what he was doing and none of those branches even touched a wire coming down.  The crew, the others are on the ground moving the cut pieces to a chipper, had begun the process Wednesday but darkness forced them to quit for the day.  They said they'd be back Thursday morning even in the snowstorm, and they were. 
It sure does look strange out there.
While the guys were outside, my wife Sandra and I were dismantling our annual Christmas Village we use as our Christmas celebration decoration.
Because we have a "collectible" display, to maintain its integrity each piece must be re-boxed just like the way it came.  It is a time consuming job.  Sandra took the pieces off the display while I put them into their boxes.  (These pictures are from Tuesday's beginning of the dismantling.)
Without the accessories, trees, and things, the display really looks like an abandoned town.  The trees and accessories you may see here are actually part of the structures.  They will be boxed with their structure.  We plan to box most of the structures when Sandra gets home from her part time job Friday and by mid-Saturday afternoon, our daughter will have helped us take down the tables and light cables.  All will have been packed away for another year and our living room will be back to normal.
I hope you're keeping warm and safe during our first of the year storm.  This long stretch of really cold weather and the snow makes one question the concept of "global warming," doesn't it?

Trees, both from our Village and real ones in front yard, are coming down!

Happy New Year one last time as 2014 is now well underway.  Let's all hope it will be a good year.

I don't have much to offer this Thursday morning as wife Sandra is home today and she's already busy at the Village.  It will be down by weekend's end.  However, with her now working, and it's only shortly after 8 AM, the signal is strong for me to get into the living room to join her.  All the trees are already packed away.

Just a couple quickie observations.  First, in the sports world, it seems like the National sports orgs are running into some difficulty lately, and much of it is because of the instant replay and officials' calls challenges.  I've lost count of the number of NFL games that the powers have declared had end of game calls that were contrary to the rules or what actually happened.  Well, it's too darn bad that games had to end that way, but telling us the officials screwed up with no ability to make any changes doesn't seem to accomplish too much.

There have been problems in the NBA as well.

In my other life a long, long time ago I was a sports official in two different sports, baseball and swimming.  Did I ever make a mistake in my calls in either sport?  Of course not!  As my dad, one of the better known umpires way back in the 40s, used to say, "I always call 'em as I see 'em so they are simply the correct calls."  I do remember a ball crossing second base in Falmouth once that I called "Foul Ball."  I'll never forget it.  I was very happy that it didn't affect the outcome of the game.

Getting back to today, the instant replays and official challenges have dramatically change the all sports, though.  Do they improve the game?  Well, they do take the human element out of games, at least the officiating part.  Games are played by humans and officiated by humans; and humans are simply humans subject to trying the best they can. 

It is snowing outside right now.  we are expecting a return today of a tree removal crew to finish taking down a couple trees in our front yard.  They began the project yesterday, yes, New Year's Day, and my front area is filled with snorkel trucks, chippers, tractors, etc.  Even with the snow, I expect they will be here so they don't have to leave their equipment behind.  I'd guess they only have a couple hours left in the project.

I'm getting the "evil eye" from the other room so I'd better be a good boy and head in their to help with the dismantling of the village.  I'll be back this weekend, possibly with some new storm pictures.

Hey!  Look what's just now coming up the long driveway.  I knew that crew would be here today!!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year,

May 2014

Bring you Great Personal Peace,

Wonderful Happiness,

and Prosperity.