Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Female sports are on the rise, not being killed...

There's a brouhaha on the Internet this week about girls' sports, primarily basketball.  Apparently it all started when a Boston sportswriter tweeted that the current University of Connecticut women's basketball team started its run for the national championship this year.  The U-Conn ladies have won all their games so far by double digits and that sportswriter said they were killing women's basketball.  It was boring, he said, and this fourth straight run for a fourth straight championship was shutting down any interest that may have existed.

He's wrong.

It's true that other sports, and that includes the men's equivalent, draw more TV viewers that women's sports.  That might be true and I neither have nor am going to research it, but if it's true, an awful lot of people are missing some extremely exciting play.

I'll concede that U-Conn is now dominating the basketball scene, but it hasn't always done that.  I still remember the SEC days of Pat Summit who had her teams equally as dominating in their times.  I think the school was Tennessee. 

I also don't recall those UCLA teams of times past getting the same kind of criticism as U-Conn is getting now.  One team has dominated just about every sport at one time or another.  Even on the professional level, we can think of the Yankees or Canadians or . . . you name it.

The U-Conn coach, Geno Auriemma, simply outcoaches and draws the best players right now.  There are some super female athletes in other programs, too.  If you think not, take the time next Sunday to watch some of the NCAA women's final four.  I watched the games this weekend and Monday and saw some terrific basketball, better, I thought, than many of the men's games.

Perhaps Auriemma had it right when he compared the dominance of his women to Tiger Woods' dominance when he could play golf.  No one said Tiger was killing golf, Auriemma said.

But this attempt to undermine the women is sort of typical of what's happening in sports today with the young learners.  Instead of pointing to the stars of today and teaching how hard they work to get to the top and win, today's young people are taught that just to participate deserves a medal or ribbon or trophy or something.  Some youth sports have even abandoned score keeping.

There are no winners today, therefore incentives to succeed are being destroyed.  It'll be interesting to see how this generation works when it becomes the business and government leaders.  I'll probably never know.  But I do know I love watching the talent out there on the courts and in the playing fields today.  Gee...I just thought of another growing "dynasty."  The Florida Gator Gals are working for their third straight national softball championship.  It won't be long before they're being torn down for killing their sport, too.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Happy (for us) week

The piece on which I was working wasn't working for me, so I abandoned it. 

Now I'm working, sort of, occasionally at least, on a new one.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Quiet Time for G-i-M

I'm going through what best may be called a "Quiet Time."  My personal life has consumed me and I've not thought about other things lately. 

What "personal" stuff, you probably didn't ask.  Well, it was completely successful.  Less than six weeks after the surgery, she's wandering around the house and venturing to stores, etc., without using a walker or cane.  Her doc says she's doing remarkably well and has given her permission to return to her part time job next Monday.  She got her schedule today.  It's a good thing, I think.  She's bored to tears just sitting around home.

I said a final goodbye to my Maine Health Visiting Nurses care team this week.  They took my electronic TeleHealth away with them.  That I'll miss.  Was it a good thing?  You bet.  In the time since last October I've used it, it has kept me totally aware of my vital signs, but to me, most importantly, my weight.  I'm happy that I weigh less today that I have weighed since I was a teenager, and that was way back in the 1950s.

The Home Health care folk were just super.  One could not ask for a better group of people to work toward my improving health.  Unfortunately my Medicare option expired.

Next up on my medical front is an overnight sleep apnea test at the end of this month.  That sounds like a fun night.  Not!

And finally, in the "Who cares?" department...My son is coming for a visit from his home in Oregon in a couple of weeks.  We're looking forward to that as it's been several years since we've seen him.

We'll find something we find interesting soon.  Be back then.


Monday, March 7, 2016

I'm surprised at the turnout for the caucuses

Maine's Caucus Weekend is over with no huge, but one small surprise.  That was the win by Ted Cruz over Donald Trump Saturday in the Republican statewide caucuses.  The Democrats held their meetings Sunday and Bernie Sanders made a strong case for his repetitive claim that if he can get the voters out, he will win.  Almost 50-thousand turned out and Sanders gave Hillary something to think about...he won handily.

The pundits are proclaiming great gains for the parties, but I'm not sure I could agree them.  After all, fewer than 20,000 people voted in the Republican caucuses but more than 46 thousand cast a ballot in the Democrat one.  I'm not too clear on censuses, but I have a strong feeling there are a lot more registered Mainers than 70-thousand.  I'm one of the "more than."

I think Republican Phil Harriman, analyzing with John Richardson for the Democrats on the WCSH6 Political Brew segment on the Sunday morning news gave an excellent reason why Trump lost Maine.  Harriman pointed out that Trump's speech when he visited Portland last Thursday was all about Trump.  I (this), I (than), "...me," etc., and on and on.  There was precious little, if anything, about what he might do for Maine if elected and, perhaps even less, on what he might do for "Us."  That type of speech turns Mainers off and I think it may have shown than Saturday.

That's not to take anything away from Ted Cruz.  Maine is much more conservative than one might think and Cruz is trying to place himself as the new leader of the Conservatives.  He seems to be making grounds.

So far, however, I for one have not yet made a final choice.  In fact, I think I'm silently hoping someone else will jump into the race.  I'm not a Democrat, so this will be no surprise:  There's no way in living heaven that I'd vote for Hillary.

About the only sure things, I think, might be the need for Marco Rubio and John Kasich to drop out of the race.  They sure are spending a bunch of money trying to convince themselves they still have a chance.

Speaking of Kasich, I got an email from his campaign today asking for a donation.  I get six to ten letters each day concerning the election, both from state and national campaigns.  They all start out with "Dear Tracey."  I have absolutely zero clue as to who this "Tracey" person is, but whoever sold or gave away my email address sure has a lousy mail merging program.  Even I could send out a mass mailing email with that "Tracey" substituted by the receiver's real first name.  Meanwhile, I think starting today, I'll look at the sender or the sender's candidate or cause in that message and cross the name or cause off my list of any consideration at all.  I do wonder who this "Tracey" is, though.

I'm not sure if I simply feel sorry for Bernie Sanders or secretly hope he can convince the Democrats that the Maine outcome does prove that he can win and do the near-impossible task of beating Hillary to the Democratic nomination.  If I had to vote "D" I almost could color in the Sanders circle.

There are still several caucuses or primaries to go before it's final, but it appears the only real race is between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.  Once again, I hope I'm wrong.

There may be one good outcome from my perspective of the huge turnout for the caucuses this past weekend.  A Democrat leader, State Senator Justin Alfond of Portland, is introducing a bill to change our system from the caucus to the primary one where voters can simply go to the polls and vote.  I've said before I prefer the primary type.  I can guarantee I probably wouldn't have stood in that line outside Deering High School for four or more hours, Dem or Rep.  And wasn't there a similar long line Saturday upstate during the Rep caucus there?  If the method doesn't change, at least I'd hope the parties would provide more polling places.

We join the Americans in both political parties in mourning the passing of First Lady Nancy Reagan over the weekend.  She was 94 but the driving force behind one of the United States' premier Presidents.  Truly, there hasn't been a better or more respected First Lady either before or since Mrs. Reagan was officially the First Lady, who continues to be called "The First Lady."  Mrs. Reagan, may you rest in peace.


Friday, March 4, 2016

Caucuses: It's Maine's Super Weekend

Edited to add a corrective paragraph. . .

I guess one might call this "Super Weekend" in Maine, and possibly a couple other states as well.  The political parties will be holding their caucuses here.  The Republicans will meet in various spots around the state Saturday while the Democrats will be meeting Sunday.

Now that I have paid a little attention to this way of doing political business, I don't like it.  The polling system where people simply cast a ballot is my preference, but the politicos seem to like caucuses better.  Perhaps it's because they have more control over the results when they can intimidate people, usually a relatively small turnout, into making choices they want.

Intimidation can come from many forms, but one of the more subtle forms is simply asking people of like mind to form a group.  Someone at the caucus wanting to support, say, his next door neighbor might see many people grouping for someone else while he alone is standing in support of that neighbor.  A person of integrity probably would stand alone anyway, but more likely would seek out someone else.

Edited to add:  I'm not sure how the Sunday Democrat caucuses will work, but because several cities and owns will meet in 22 locations around the state, paper ballots will be cast to select the Republican to be supported at the state and national party conventions later this year.  By using paper ballots it will be easier to name the delegates from each community.  I'm happy the paper ballot will be used, but I still cannot attend this year.  Now back to the original thoughts . . .

It's much more pleasant to cast a ballot type vote and probably the results would be a lot more accurate of the people's choices or feelings.

Caucuses do have one small advantage.  Because of the number of people in one place, candidates tend to make more visits so more people get to see and hear them live and in person.  Even national candidates occasionally bless our state as shown Wednesday through Friday by the appearances of Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz.  I didn't go to see any of them, but we saw the people in the thousands on the TV news shows.

I don't know how much influence they had on the outcomes of the weekend selection of delegates to the national political party conventions later this year; but a lot of Mainers saw live some persons they may not have otherwise ever seen.

Unfortunately, and I'm probably in the wee minority on this point, we no longer have our own city caucuses.  The Scarborough Republican Caucus, for example, will be held in conjunction with the town/city parties in Westbrook with that city and several other towns.  Nothing against Westbrook, it's just I would have preferred to have ours held right here in our town. 

This year it's a hollow desire, though.  Because of various circumstances, health being the major one, I wouldn't be attending anyway.  But, if you are wondering, yes, I have attended caucuses in the past, but never a combined one.

All our caucuses accomplish is the selection of local delegates to the State conventions which are the ultimate source for selection of delegates to attend the national affairs.  It is there where the ultimate nominees for the Presidency are reduced to just two...one for each party.

It looks like, as many have guessed for a very long time, Hillary Clinton will be the selection of the Democrats.  Donald Trump leads the Republicans right now, but there's about to be a vicious battle to get him out of the race.

No matter who in either party ends up with the nomination this summer, I'm not sure I could consider this year as one of the best ever, either in the quality of the candidates, the methods they reached the goal, or the standards they are carrying for the future of our country.

But that's another story.

Meanwhile, it's caucus weekend, and I hope all of you make good decisions.  The future of America depends on it.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Scamming Season

This seems to be the Scam Season around here.  We've been warned many times about various scams, most notably lately the one where the caller claims to be from the IRS and tells the called person that unless an amount owed to the IRS immediately, a marshal will be sent to make an arrest.  Naturally, there's a way to meet a deadline.  Pay with a loaded debit card.

We've been told literally hundreds of times that the no government agency makes calls demanding money or other information.  If you get such a call, just hang up.  Don't get cute and engage the caller in conversation...you can bet the caller is "cuter" than you.  Just hang up.

My wife is among those who have received the call.  Sandra just hung up.

That scam is just one of many making the rounds.  The elderly apparently are the principal target of the scammers.  We weren't brought up in a scamming age and were taught to be polite on the phone and not hanging up on people.  It's a hard good trait to break.  I have broken it and I hope other folk in our age group (closer to 80 than 75) will also break it.

I got another phone call today that I'd bet is very high among the scammers.  When I answered the phone, the voice said, "You or someone at this phone number called to inquire about getting a back brace and left a message to return the call."  No one in this household ever made such a call.  I must admit I was tempted to engage the caller to explain just that, but didn't.  Don't let yourself get wrapped up in such a call.

We have a rule in hour house:  Don't do any telephone business we did not originate.  It seems to work for us.  Someone once told me I was missing out on a lot of good deals with that rule.  I responded that I've more likely saved a lot more money.

If I had accepted all those cruise trips I've hung up on, I might be the most traveled old guy around.

And then there's Bridget.  She used to be Rachel.  I think Bridget has a secret crush on me.  She calls sometimes three or four times a day.  I do feel sorry, though, for one resident right here in Scarborough.  Bridget has confiscated her phone number trying to fool me into thinking it's a neighbor calling, but I don't know the person and when I see that number, after the first time I answered it and was told it was Bridget, I now know instantly I don't need to pay more for my credit card.

Remember, you don't have to be polite to scammers, just hang up.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Maine Conservative organization says school funding being held hostage

The Maine Wire, a project of The Maine Heritage Policy Center, sent out a commentary this Wednesday morning via e-mail that discusses what it calls a hostage situation in the Maine Legislature.  It concerns school funding in return for conformity of Maine's taxes with the federal tax structure.  The commentary, written by State Representative Larry Lockman represents Maine House District 137, which includes parts of Hancock, Washington, and Penobscot counties. He may be contacted at Lawrence.Lockman@legislature.maine.gov, claims the Maine Democrats want to put 22 million dollars in the fund that gets distributed to help local school costs.

That commentary begins, "If there were ever any doubt that Democrats in the Maine House of Representatives are willing to kill tax conformity if they don’t get their way on raiding $22 million from the state treasury for another round of school subsidies, we now have a smoking gun that should remove any lingering doubts. A recent email exchange exposes the Democrats’ strategy of holding tax conformity hostage to the spending spree. And it appears they’re prepared to shoot the hostage if legislators refuse to pay the ransom demanded."

You can read the whole commentary in The Maine Wire.  You also can start getting your copies of The Maine Wire simply be signing up using your email address and the link at the top of the linked page.  Remember, though, this is a conservative organization.