Monday, February 24, 2014

Don't believe all the research

A first glance at the weather map and the local forecasts would indicate we in Southern Maine, specifically the Greater Portland area, are in for a cool but rather dry week.  The only glitch right now seems to be Wednesday when we could get just a little dusting of snow.  The temperatures are a lot colder than those of last week, but certainly more tolerable than the ones of a couple weeks ago.

I'm starting here with the weather because I may have found a new "favorite" local weather presenter.  As you know I normally watch the news on Channel Six, partly because I worked part time at that station for 30 years.  The Thompson family and the management at the station always treated me very well.  I had retired before the station was sold.  There's nothing negative about that statement as I honestly don't know how the management treats its employees today, except one major hint would be that many of the people with whom I worked are still there some 19 years after I left.

But Sunday the Ch. 6 Morning Report was shortened to 30 minutes so the station could carry the Olympic hockey gold medal game, which, incidentally, Canada won.  I didn't watch and had explained why I don't watch much Olympic coverage over the weekend.  So, for the first time in many months, possibly years, I switched to the Channel Eight Morning Report.  The news/sports parts of the newscast didn't draw me into a need to try them again; but their weather forecaster went through several weather portions, perhaps all of them since none caused me to say, "Oh, no difference here," without my hated trite phrases.

Several posts ago, I ranted about weather folk using the very worn out trite phrases "out there" and "all is said and done."  The Channel 6 meteorologists, except veterans Joe Cupo and Kevin Mannix, both of whom were there when I was, use the phrases very infrequently.  The new ones average those phrases four to eight times in their short segments.  I counted 11 one time.  I do not know where "there" is.  These phrases are in the extremely trite, meaningless category that includes "You know" and "I mean."  Again, because of Olympic coverage, I watched Ch. 13 weather people recently and son of a gun, there was that triteness in its full glory.

My Fearless Friend who's living near Orlando, Florida, right now, sent me a message that the weather people down there must have gone to the same "out there" meteorologist school as the new forecasters on Ch. 6 and 13.

But I digress.  Sunday morning on the Ch. 8 news, Mallory Brooke did not use the trite phrases at all.  If one was slipped in, I certainly missed it.  How refreshing it was to hear a weather person with an AMS (American Meteorological Society) after her name have such good control of our language that she didn't have to resort to meaningless, boring phrases.  I salute Mallory Brooke for presenting the weather by someone who convinces me she actually knows her subject.

Unfortunately, the rest of the news presentation didn't scream, "Come here, come here for the news."

On another topic, my perusal of the world/national news through Google News found another story of  particular interest to me.  The New Britain Herald had a story that said Canadian researchers have concluded that regular mammograms are not necessary and that their research shows that mammograms really have little impact on saving lives, especially in young people.

Please, don't read that story and believe it.  The story also says their research is based on a 20-year-old study using outdated equipment.  However, the personal experience of my wife, and thousands or more of other women, have clearly demonstrated the worth of mammograms.  We're convinced that one saved my wife's life.

Five years ago a little question mark appeared on her mammogram which immediately caused her personal physician to involve a cancer specialist.  That was in October of 2009.  Early in December she underwent breast surgery and had that blip removed.  It was cancer.  She continues to have regular tests and checkups, but now, heading for her five years later, she remains cancer free, a true survivor.  She probably wouldn't like me to mention she's now in her 70s, so I won't.

She had done the regular self-testing procedure for years and had never found a lump or anything else.  It was that very alert mammogram technologist who spotted a suspicious spot and began my wife on her road to recovery.  We thank our God that we hadn't read about that Canadian research so it couldn't affect our decision.  As a result she lives.  She probably thinks she's being punished for something, though, as she also has to continue to put up with me.

And finally, a question I have about all the money the Republicans and Democrats both in Augusta and Washington D.C. want to spend on "training."  We're being told daily that the answer to our economic woes is more training so more people can get jobs.

What I fail to hear is training for what jobs?  This country has allowed just about all of our industries to leave for off shore or other continent countries where there's cheaper labor and material.  Have you bought anything major, like appliances, electronics, cars (don't be fooled by this one), that were made in the U.S.A. recently?  Where are all these jobs going to be created to prepare people for what? 

Most of the good companies in "the good old days" used to train their hires for specific jobs themselves.  People who wanted to move up the ladder were trained to do so.  Colleges and universities used to prepare people for many professional or management type jobs, but from all I read most now have studies in dead end or non-existent jobs.

So I simply ask, "What is this unspecified 'training' that we need to spend so much money for?"  I think we need a lot more answers before we simply pour money into . . . what????


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Olympics: A non-fan's view

I've mentioned on several occasions in the past that I don't watch much Olympics.  I love sports and watch my fair share of games on television.  You've read about my watching Little League games, my love for college football and basketball, softball, the Red Sox and Patriots and other NFL teams and many other events including auto rading.  In my younger days I preferred to watch games in person.

There are certain parts of TV coverage I simply do not watch.  I don't like pre- and post-game shows.  I watch halftime shows of football games so I can get caught up on other games taking place at the same time.  Although hockey in person is great,  I can't watch it on TV as I simply can't keep up with the puck.  I love basketball; I totally dislike the NBA.

I've never played on an organized team, but I have been a baseball umpire and a swimming official.

That's a background to get me back to the Olympics.  Since I do love watching good sports, I was wondering why I've turned against watching the Olympics.  So these past few days I've tuned in to see what turned me away.  It didn't take long.  It's the coverage of the games and the NBC announcing staff.   I also don't like sports in which winners are chosen by judges.  The news out of Sochi Friday morning made it even clearer.

I'll start there.  Controversy about the judges in ice skating once again reared its ugly head.  The reports say that some of the judges were changed at the last minute and at least two of the judges who influenced the outcome of the Salt Lake City skating events in 2002 and, to a lesser degree, in Canada in the last games.  According to the reports, deals were made that would lead to the outcome.  From the news reports this morning, apparently similar deals were once again reached to be sure a Russian received the Gold Medal.

I did not watch the women's finals Thursday, but I have read several reports about the judging and the outcome.  As one of the skaters said, "It's hard to understand how  skater who falls can get a higher score than skaters who skated cleanly."

The IOC (International Olympic Committee which oversees the games) said there isn't any controversy and that the judging was fair.  The Committee's assertion has been backed by several skaters, including some American skaters.  My suspicious nature, however, knows the skaters are also protecting their futures.

As I said, I didn't see the competition so I can't offer my opinion of what happened.  History, however, makes the whole scene suspicious.  We'll probably never know the truth. 

Now the NBC coverage.  I'm not sure that the announcers know the Olympics are about the athletes competing and not about themselves.  My stopwatch's battery had died so I couldn't do any timing.  However, in the little while I did watch, I'll bet it was a rather low ratio of events compared to stories and commercials. 

I must admit my home health nurse visited me this morning.  I affectionately call her my teenage nurse but she just chuckles and says she's much older than she looks.  Of course, since she's a registered nurse, and an excellent people person, I know she isn't a teenager.  We were talking about the TV coverage of the Olympics and she said she especially enjoyed some of the little stories that were told about the competitors.

Personally, I much prefer the events.  Heavens, Nancy Kerrigan was a skater 20 years ago, and a marginally good one even then.  But we heard all about her episode of being slugged again.  She wasn't even a competitor in these Olympics. 

I won't spend any time on the subject, but Bob Costas has for years added very little to sports coverage.  Nothing changed in the last two weeks, except we did learn the network would survive without him..

Of course the morning Today Show is a valuable part of the network coverage.  The crew does a pretty credible job chatting with...I hesitate to say, "Interviewing"...the competitors in the morning.  I have yet to figure out what Savannah Guthrie's role is except her normal non-Olympic one of giggling.  If that crew were just one half as good as they think they are, they'd be great.  But the inside jokes simply leave me cold.

The Olympic coverage ends this weekend.  I'm probably the only sports fan in America that won't miss it.  I certainly won't be looking forward to the next games in two years.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Red Skies in the morning . . .(Updated...Again)

Edited Wednesday morning to add a quick note at the bottom . . .

Tuesday.  This day dawned with a beautiful sky:
Although by the time I saw it, it was already fading away as red skies in the morning always do.  It was cold with temperatures in the single numbers.  Unfortunately for us, the weather forecaster said this day will not end as nicely.  I'd say the forecast called for the sailors to take warning as, the weather guy said, we will get from 4 to 8 inches of new snow beginning this afternoon.  By late afternoon today, I'll show you how the day ends.
And now the day is ending.  I did take a picture, but it doesn't show the snowflakes.  It is snowing quite hard and the driving is very treacherous.  What this picture may show, if you glance at the one above again, is the snow now obliterates the black driveways.  Four to eight inches are still forecast for tonight, but the storm will be gone probably by 9 or 10 o'clock tonight.
It's now early Wednesday morning and yesterday's storm is long gone.  Actually, as we had been told, it was over between 10 and 10:30 last night in our area.  This morning we were told by the weather people that Portland received 8 inches of new snow as it snowed heavily in what was a true Quick Hitter.  We were able to get most of it out of the way before we went to bed last night.
So, that's it for this winter, right?  Wrong!  Although today began very nicely with clear skies, before this day is over, another storm will race through the area.  However, because of the rising temperatures, we'll have some rain/sleet mix with the snow before it gets out of here late tonight or very early tomorrow morning.
That, say the weather folk, will leave us with a rather nice day Thursday and the beginning of Friday.  Then guess what?  I'll let you work on that one for a while, but don't work too hard at it.
Have a great day.
Edited to add Photo Wed PM
I guess the weather folk knew that of which they spoke.  Sure 'nuff!  Almost right on schedule, the snows came again this afternoon.  We're told this one won't amount to much and, at least here on the coastal plain it could turn to rain later this evening.  Nice day tomorrow then Friday comes.  The accompanying storm then might be all heavy rain, so says the weather folk.
Thursday AM:  Just as the weather people told us, it's a beautiful day this Thursday morning.  The sun is golden in a near clear sky.  As I jot this down, the temperature is 39 degrees and will, in all probability, get into at least the mid-40s before mid afternoon when clouds once again will roll in bringing an all-day rain tomorrow.
And this concludes this week's stormy updates.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The storm that didn't quite make it! At least in our area.

Big surprise here in Greater Portland this Sunday morning, we got very little snow in that massive storm that rolled past us but dropped more than a foot in other parts of our state.

There's probably less than two inches on our porch, probably closer to a strong inch.  And that seems to be the story in most of our part of Maine.  Downeast, though, like Ellsworth, got more than 16 inches of snow while Deer Isle got close to two feet.  In fact, that area close to the Canadian border felt the brunt of this storm.

My plow guy had us all cleared out before dawn this morning and the sun is now shining very brightly over the area.  I haven't gone outside yet, but there really aren't and beautiful snow scenes around my house, just snow like the pictures you've seen here many times.  Although it doesn't show any particular beauty, it does give a demonstration of how my plow guy is running out of space to pile the snow which continues to get higher and higher.
Well, I'm a little surprised.  I've been having "huge" problems with Blogger lately and they grew this morning.  This completely froze up while I was composing it.  I sent another message to Google about the problem and then shut IE/BlogSpot down and reopened them.  Much to my surprise, this posting had been automatically saved and allowed me to continue.  I'd sure like BlogSpot/Google fix the problem.
There probably won't be any updates to this storm here, though.  But don't go too far away...we have another snow storm forecast for Tuesday.

Friday, February 14, 2014

This stormy winter continues

First and most important, Happy Valentines Day to my wife Sandra.  This is our 55th, including 52+ years of marriage, together.  I pray we have many, many more.

Yesterday's snow ended early last evening and changed over to sleet then rain throughout the night.  Our plow guy cleaned the yard about 7:30 last night and it remained clear this morning, but a little icy.  He did come back during the night to clean up somewhat.

We ended up with about 8 inches in the Greater Portland area, depending on whether it was measured inland or at the coast.  Totals away from Portland are still growing as the storm continues elsewhere in the state.

The winter weather stuff isn't over, yet, though.  More snow is forecast for Saturday into Sunday and then even still more for mid next week.

It's too dark outside to get any pictures if I get the "guts" to attempt to go out later.  If so, I'll post one here but you've seen snow in my yard for several years.

Sandra works part time Fridays and headed out for work about 5:30 this morning.  She called ten minutes later and said the street on which we live was miserable, but it connects to U.S. Route 1 and she said that roadway was O.K.  She arrived at work safely.

Because of the weather, I doubt our daughter and her puppy will be here so her dog and ours can romp in our large this weekend.  I do look forward to her visits.

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

The storm, it is a-comin'!

Yesterday's comments did get posted and this morning, I'm still getting an error message from Blogger that there is a problem.  It flashes on then off so fast I cannot get a grasp of what the error is.  But I'll continue chancing that this still works.

Thursday morning has dawned (a couple hours ago), but the snow is still way to our south.  The forecast for this day continues to be far less than great with 8 inches or less of new snow, sometimes mixed with sleet or rain or a combination of both, beginning later this morning.  Right now, 7:45ish AM, it is very cloudy in our area.  The forecast says the snow will be heavy at times before ending tomorrow morning.  Parts of Maine could get more than a foot, according to the forecasts; but here along the coast the sleet and rain, especially the rain, will keep the totals down.  Depending on who's saying it, our storm could begin sometime between 10 and noon.

We'll keep your posted.

Edited:  The snow began at about 9:30 AM.

Edit #2 (about 12:39 PM):  Still snowing lightly.  My black driveway has turned white, but there's probably less than an eighth inch of snow on the ground.  Heavy snow is creeping into the area and should be arriving within the hour.  Total potential amounts were upgraded on the noon news.  My area could get up to 10 inches (it won't!) but way up north near the Caribou area, there could be up to 22 inches.  That's a lot of snow!

Edit #3 (about 3:30 PM):  The snow is now coming down rather hard.  And wind is causing it to blow around some.  I haven't stuck my little toe onto the front porch yet to see just how much, but it is piling up.  My guess we've reached the depth that the home plow guys are salivating over.  The radar looks like it'll be snowing for a while, too.  This has the makings of a good ole fashioned Nor-Easter.
Perhaps those "model readers" have gotten this forecast pretty close to being right.

Edit #4 (about 7:30 PM and the day's final update):  The weather radar says we're still getting some snow here in the Greater Portland area, but it's snowing so softly right now that in the dark, I can't see it falling as I look out the window.  The radar also indicates that some areas will experience the end within a few hours as a dry patch is now crossing into Maine from New Hampshire.  My wife Sandra just pushed some snow off the front porch in case we need to evacuate and said there was about  6 inches there.  My plow guy has yet to make his appearance, but he will be here before this night is over.  We'll have a little reprieve Saturday, but guess what's in the forecast for Sunday PM into Monday.  And plow guy is now in the driveway.

And that concludes our updates on this storm for this Thursday.

In another interesting news story this morning, it looks like Time Warner Cable, which supplies cable TV services to our area along with a lot of the country, is being sold to Comcast.  It'll be interesting to see what happens to TWC's already outrageous fees.

Have a good day and stay in and warm.  If you have elderly relatives or neighbors, please check in on them occasionally during this storm to be sure they're O.K.  And to my friends in Florida, enjoy your sunshine so I can be very jealous.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Storm Thursday? Who really knows?

I have no idea what's going on with Blogger, but something is.  When I signed in to send this new blog, I got what appeared to be a serious error message, but it flashed on then off so fast, I couldn't get to read it.  It started of something like:  "I'm sorry, but . .  . " and then it flashed off.  So, this may be a new post or it may not be.  In either case, it's not an important one.

I just wanted to take the week old snow storm post off as it'll be totally outdated by this time tomorrow (Thursday).  Like last week, we have one of those "depends on the track" winter storms heading toward Maine.  I've seen tree different tracks on the local TV station so the only thing we here cab do is wait for Thursday to come and see what happens. 

One track has our area in Southern Maine getting whomped with 8 to 12 inches of snow.  Another has us getting a little less snow but rain/sleet included; and yet another says some snow with mostly rain and sleet.  All three say that what snow we may get will be wet and heavy.

I got the impression from the noon weather person today that the forecasters may be backing off somewhat from tomorrow's projected storm.

So we'll just wait and see what, if anything, comes.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Snow and maybe more snow

Maine, along with most of the East Coast and Northeast, had a rather significant snow storm Wednesday.  The Greater Portland area received between 7 and 9 inches of new snow, depending on just where one lives.

Thursday dawned beautifully and gave us a chance to do some cleaning.  There'll be more as we just love a black driveway.  Some of it is now black, as is our front walkway, but it still is rather cold outside so times out are limited.  There is, however, no wind which makes the cold tolerable.  My wife Sandra has done much of the cleaning and our plow guy Ed took care of the bulk of the stuff.

 This is a look at the area down that driveway.  All the black was cleared by Sandra with more to come after she warms up a bit.

Both pictures were snapped from the front porch  The bottom one shows a very tall pile of snow resulting from Plow Guy Ed's work.  She wasn't out there at the time I snapped this, but our Golden Retriever Mariah absolutely loves these tall plow drifts.  She'll sit up there for long periods of time simply because it gives her a good view of her world.
No new snow now in the forecast until one of those "iffy" storms could arrive Sunday afternoon into Monday.  That storm is dependent on the ultimate track which one day looks like we'll get clobbered and the next interpretation of the date hints at it going well out to sea south of us.  The weather folk tells us to just wait and see what happens. 
Whatever it is, this is a winter we'll remember.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Feb 5 -- A new storm

This picture is on the dark side, but Southern Maine is having another winter storm, as is much of the northern and eastern United States.  There isn't much on the ground now (9:30 AM), but we're told to expect up to 14 inches before nightfall.  Edited: Early Evening.  Seems to me there was a poet once who wrote something about the best laid plans.  I never did get outside to gather more pictures today so none to add here tonight.  By noon those 14 inches in the forecast had been reduced to 12 and now, with the storm rapidly ending and heading out to sea, I think we have less than seven inches of new snow.  I'll try to remember to take a stroll outside tomorrow, but don't wait with heavy breath to see any more pictures.  I'm beginning to know me, you understand.


Monday, February 3, 2014

A "super" bowl it wasn't!

A Gator made watching that game last night worth it!

Yea, I watched the Super Bowl.  Although there was nothing "super" about it.  It's hard to believe we went through two weeks of hype for what was a less than a regular season game.  The exception, of course, was Gator Percy Harvin running the second half kick-off for a touchdown.  Seattle crushed Denver 43 to 8 to win the 2014 Super Bowl.

I rarely watch halftime shows.  Last night's "Pepsi Half Time Show" gave me no reason to try one again.  I was encouraged for a few moments when the drummer (Bruno Mars?  Fantastic) began his sort of solo and then more of the band visibly joined in for another few moments of music.  I hate to admit I liked that part of the show.  But then someone who some people, I gather, think is good, began to try to make some music.  I couldn't call it singing.  It also killed my interest in the halftime show.

Then came Harvin's run!

At least one of the teams did show up for the game.  I think the league may have picked the year's MVP just a wee bit too soon.  He certainly lost any hope for a much heralded potential best quarterback ever.  For me, however, a Bronco's highlight was provided by Wes Welker who showed the Patriot's why they made a mistake during the off-season with a two-point conversion.

It will be interesting to see how many of those much hyped Super Bowl commercials you'll remember next week (even today).  I can't remember any of them this morning; well, maybe one as I'm a sucker for puppies and dogs.  I would bet the Channel Six morning team is still going ga-ga over them, although one member is not there this morning.

Last night's game brought back a memory of a championship game of many, many years ago.  I do remember Chicago won and I'm working on who the loser was.  The game was Super Bowl XX in 1986.  The worst Super Bowl defeat goes to Super Bowl XXIV when the San Francisco 49ers whipped, well, the Denver Broncos in the Superdome in New Orleans.  (The current head of the Broncos was then the team's quarterback, a guy named Ellway.)

That brings about the end of a long football season and now we have to look forward to the college season in a few months.  It won't be as exciting for me, though, unless the Gators have a new head coach in place. 

We do have a college basketball season heading to the championship season and, of course, locally the high school tourneys begin in the next couple of weeks.  Speaking of college basketball, did you by chance catch the Syracuse-Duke game last Saturday?  If you didn't, you missed one heckuva sporting event this weekend.