Tuesday, December 30, 2008

UFOs over New Boston, NH

9:30 PM EST - December 29th

I get a phone call from my sister who claims she has seen a UFO in the skies over New Boston, NH.
What she had actually witnessed is a fireball that exploded in mid flight. I am SO JEALOUS!!!

If anyone else was fortunate to see this, please send in a report to Dec 29th New England Fireball Sightings.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Return our New Ipswich sign!



I have no sympathy for vandalism. I've had my share of smashed mailboxes and smashed windshields. My friend had screens torn by paintballs. Who thinks this is fun?

Now our "welcome" sign is missing. I wonder if it is gracing a wall in someone's rec room or will show up on Craigslist.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Election Day

Hopefully everyone got out to vote today. We in NH are a battleground state so hopefully we can get some comments from our relatives in other battleground states, Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio. Over in Springfield:


Monday, November 3, 2008

Bellying Up To The Bar on Taxes

John Poltrack has included links to the tax calculators for the various campaigns race to the bottom to buy our votes. I saw a similar thing in a TV ad which showed how much more money you’d save voting for Obama than McCain.

My first problem with this whole strategy is that it is a cynical appeal to the most self-serving, narrow minded part of us. Without a doubt, I want to keep more of my money rather than send it to the government. On the other hand, I understand that my fortune is linked to the fortunes of everyone else…more so now than ever before. Having the government allow me to keep an extra $10 a week doesn’t really help me a lot when I don’t have a job. For me, the bottom line isn’t the dollar amount but the policy behind it.

The second, and possibly bigger problem, is that this is a promise that will never materialize. Mr. Obama's calculator says he's going to save me $1000. The truth is Obama is not going to cut my taxes one cent. In fact, I know he’s going to raise my taxes…a lot. 

I am so certain my taxes will go up I’ll make an offer to anyone who disagrees and is ready to belly up to the bar. Using my 2008 tax return as a baseline, I’ll promise to donate any amount my tax bill goes down in 2009 to the charity of your choice. In return, you’ll promise to donate the amount my tax bill goes up to my charity Grameen Bank. By taking me up on this challenge you’ll both earn my respect as someone who stands with the courage of their convictions and you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ll be donating to a worthy cause.

The ground rules:

  1. You commit to this on or before the results of the election are known
  2. Obama is elected President
  3. To make the comparison fair, the basis will be for the amount of taxable income I earned in 2008 (i.e. we’ll only compare the direct cost of tax policies, not the side-effect of the ruination of my business income). I don’t itemize my deductions, so there are really no other variables.
  4. Your chosen charity must be recognized by the IRS as a qualified organization.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Veterans for Obama

I was proud to stand with veterans in Peterborough tonight, awaiting a town hall meeting with John McCain.
Unfortunately the McCain campaign is assumed to be the most "veteran friendly" but nothing can be further from the truth. The misguided war in Iraq is the most egregious example. A war which was supported by McCain and opposed by Obama. As we have learned over time the 9-11 attacks had nothing to do with Iraq and that war seemed to have something to do with George Bush proving something to his father or some other psycho-drama. But I digress, standing and chatting with other veterans I was struck with how they were only there to demonstrate that it is possible to be patriotic without yelling and spouting meaningless chants about "Support our troops" without backing them up with actions. The Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America report card gave Barack Obama an "B" and John McCain a "D" for their congressional support of veteran issues. This war has brought such misery to so many people and the men I was with understood that cost.

As we stood in quiet testimony, an Uncle Sam on stilts wandered by who expoused some nonsense on genetic defects of Barack Obama. It was quite amazing to witness and shows the level of animonity that has occurred in this campaign. Uncle Sam of all people!

It would have been impossible to attend the meeting because the crowd was preselected, but I did watch it at home. I was happy to see that McCain in New Hampshire had returned to a level of civility not seen in the recent "events". I got the feeling we were seeing Gollum showing his Hobbit nature after breaking away from the Rovian spell that he has been afflicted by.

As I have posted in earlier blogs, I liked the McCain of 2000 before he was savaged by the very folks he hired for this outing. He showed some class tonight, but Obama is the better choice.

Let's get together

Is this any way to elect a President? The candidates must be exhausted, I know that I am....

John McCain is stopping in Peterborough, NH today. I went to see him on his last visit (he appears in the running slideshow on the right side of this blog). I'll probably swing by and see what's happening.

But I'm fatigued with all this, neither candidate is going to do half of what they claim and we'll be living in that reality. So I'm moving on and changing the subject to something we can all agree on .... MUSIC!

I've been intrigued with an organization called "Playing for Change" which is NOT connected with the Obama or any other campaign!

Here is a YouTube excerpt:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Obama Tax Plan vs McCain Tax Plan (and a comment about H1-B)

Surprise surprise.... we haven't be getting the full tax story. In the interest of fairness I'm including a link to a comparison of the 2 plans. This won't affect my vote, but the Obama has the higher tax plan and the dread "redistribution of wealth".

I have an issue about both candidates support of the H1-B visa program which has been a threat for my employment for quite a while. Both candidates support this program which addresses the "problem" of not having enough skilled American workers. It allows employers to hire "foreign" workers to fill this supposed lack of skilled workers. These workers come at a great cost savings for companies and correspond with layoffs. It won't change regardless of who is elected, but I needed to vent a bit and show that I'm not completely in the tank for Obama

Here is the Tax Plans Link:

Wall Street Journal Comparison of Tax Plans of McCain & Obama

I'm gonna be RICH!


I have been approached with a certain business opportunity which will have a profound effect on my tax bracket. I have been in contact with Mrs. Ford about my tax obligations and quite frankly I'm wondering if I should now be supporting a McCain-Palin ticket.

I'd like to share the details of my new situation:


From Barrister.Mrs.Jenny Ford.

B .F Addo, Solicitors & Associates.
169.BD.F.H Biogny
Accra Ghana West Africa,

Good Day,

I am Barrister.Mrs.Jenny Ford,a solicitor in law.I am contacting you because you have the same surname of my late client a national of your country, who used to work with SHELL,an Oil Servicing Company here in ACCRA GHANA. Herein after shall be referred to as my client. On the 18th of December 2003, my client, his wife and their only daughter traveled to his wife country IRAN on holiday and unfortunately, they were involved in an Earthquake which occurred in Bam on the 26th of December 2003 in IRAN which claim about 25 thousand lives in the Earthquake .

Since the earthquake I have made several enquirers to locate any of my clients extended relatives, this has proved unsuccessful.I am contacting you based on the fact that my client deposited one trunk BOX as a family treasure with a security company here in ACCRA GHANA, valued at US$9.2 million of which he handed over the CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT with me as his lawyer.And i also ask him then why he choose to deposit the fund/BOX in a security company rather than bank,

He told me that it was due to political instability in GHANA and that he was assured by the Manager of the security company that he can claim his BOX from any of their Branch Offices in EUROPE and ASHIA countries For the fact that I have been unsuccesfull in locating the relatives since the earthquake occurred, I hereby seek your consent to present you as the relative or the business partner to my late client, All i want from you is maximum co-operation to enable us make the claim of these Box to our benefit.

I have all the necessary information that will guide you to the successful claim of these BOX and legal POWER OF ATTORNEY that will make you the beneficiary of the BOX will be prepared by me as his attorney. I guarantee that this will be executed under legitimate arrangement that will protect you and I to this effect.at the conclusion of this business you will be given 35% of the total amount,60% will for be for me,while 5% will be for any expenses both parties might have incurred during the process,

Please do send the following information of yours so that we can kick up this mutual business transaction

1.Full Name
2.Phone/Fax Number
3.Address.
4.Nationality.
5.Occupation.
6.Date of Birth.

Your immediate reply will be highly appreciated.

Awaiting to hear from you

Barr.Mrs.Jenny Ford. (Esq)


Friday, October 31, 2008

What to be afraid of this Halloween!

Some would point to either candidate as being frightening and scary. I think the chance of a tainted election is much more distressing. I do have trust in the choice of the entire electorate and if that is in question, it really is a horror show.

Thankfully in New Hampshire we use optical scanners which in my opinion are reliable and trustworthy.

Gael provided a link about computer voting problems, which I would testify as a computer guy are inherently fraught with problems.

The link is "Can you Count on Voting Machines"

I support using open source software if the decision is made to use computer touch screen voting and I have added a blog entry here. Even my Conservative co-author supports this strategy.

Enjoy your Halloween candy, watch some scary political ads and vote on tuesday

Tax Policy of the Candidates

Since many of the comments have been directed at the idea of re-distribution of wealth via the tax policy of Obama. I have provided links to the various websites of the candidates on the right side of this blog.

The question of socialism should probably include the staggering $700 billion bail out and the additional $140 billion added by Congress for all kinds of fun projects. Whew.... that's a lot of debt to eat....

I'll remove the calculator links after the election. After that it'll be too late

Happy Halloween! Is Obama a Socialist?

I'm trying to figure whether Obama is Hitler or Stalin. Maybe he is "Mabus" the 3rd Anti-Christ? Stalin was a socialist, Hitler had the National Socialist Party... it gets so confusing.



Or perhaps he is terrorist, an Arab/Muslim (not that there is anything wrong with that), the "Manchurian Candidate", "The-One", a "Celebrity" or ...



Maybe the best candidate for President!



I admit I may be wrong, but I'm willing to take a chance, roll the dice, ignore Nostradamus and Steve Schmidt and his team.



I admit I need some enlightenment so I'm trying to get a handle on the charges against this man. I'm trying to understand the "socialist" label. I'm providing a link to his tax plan from his web site. In full disclosure, I'll admit that his plan will benefit me financially.



Link: Obama's Tax Plan



Pehaps the readers of the blog will explain how a progressive tax policy is socialism. I'm sure I'll get some spirited responses. We can tackle the"Mabus" issue in another posting.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Boo! Just in time for Halloween

I have been sent another email with a scary slideshow about what will happen under an Obama presidency (establishment of a Socialist State).
This was followed by an email from with a link to a "news" organization that alleged that Saddam Hussein help buy Obama's home.

What utter garbage. These are truly desparate times and I guess some people need to blame "that one"

Rather than clogging the email stream by replying, I thought I would provide a link to at least one of the sites. In the interest of balance I tried to find a bit about the group that produced the presentation. I discovered that they have a whole selection of scary movies and articles about Islamic terrorist and Mexicans. I'm suspicious of any presentation that I can't fact check but realized that it is almost Halloween, so as a public service I'm offering a link to some truly scary stuff.

Is it accurate? NO! Is it scary, with scary music? YES!

You have been warned!!!

Link: USA WakeUp Movies

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vote for Competence, Vote for Obama

Forget the issues, the TV spots, the pundits. Who has run the more competent campaign? Who has played to the lowest common denominator? As I wrote previously I liked the McCain of 2000. Where did he go anyway? I suspect that he may have become a victim of body snatching pods (imagine Rove and the spirit of Lee Atwater). This election counts, please vote. And now for some propaganda:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Plan a Victory Garden for 2009

I'm a great believer in the phrase "Think Globally, Act Locally". We are facing all types of challenges as a nation.   I've been growing a garden for 0ver 35 years, mostly as a means of getting fresh vegetables and learning about plants.

Many of my friends and family grow a garden. In World War II these were called "Victory Gardens" and the impetus came from no less than the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who established a garden at the white house. In 1943 Americans planted over 20 million Victory Gardens and the harvest accounted ofr nearly a third of the vergetables consumed in that year.

I dedicated a bit of the front lawn to tomatoes these last 2 years and realized after a disappointing crop that I need to initiate some crop rotation. I will be ADDING more garden space and REMOVING more useless lawn.

I was heartened to read a great open letter by Michael Pollard describing what the next president can and should do to remake the way we grow and eat our food. The link is "Farmer in Chief".

Michael Pollan was interviewed on "Fresh Air" and I listened to the podcast. It may be heard a this link "Food As A National Security Issue"

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm Joe the Plumber

On a recent morning walk, my friend John Poltrack suggested that maybe I would have been a better icon to represent the proverbial small business man than the now world famous Joe the Plumber. John the Software Engineer owns his own business, employs people, and pays a good chunk of his business income in taxes. I think I pay too much in taxes, but of course everybody thinks that. I made the mistake one time of sitting down and calculating how much of Big Time Software’s income actually goes out in taxes of way form or another and the answer is a very discouraging 50%. That qualifies as too much in my opinion…and I still consider myself a patriot despite what Joe Biden might think. My business makes more money than Senator Obama seems to think I deserve to keep, so I can look forward to being in his crosshairs to pay even more should he be elected President.

I certainly don’t want to attract the scrutiny of the crack investigative media teams that have unearthed every skeleton in poor Joe’s closet, and I think this probably came as a surprise to Joe as well. It's somewhat unsettling to see this poor bastard's life laid bare before us.

We now all know Joe isn’t really a plumber because he doesn’t have a license. I’d be OK there since software engineers don’t need a license. Good thing since if our plumbing worked as well as most computer software we’d all be hip deep in poop.

We also all know Joe owes the government some money for back taxes. This is news? This guy was thrust into the spotlight because he complained he had to pay too much in taxes. In the interests of full disclosure let me just say here and now that in 2002 Big Time Software was audited by the IRS. I had two IRS employees in my office working full-time for two days pouring over my books. In the end they pointed out some mistakes I made in my accounting (actually it was QuickBooks that led me astray…please refer to the previous paragraph). I got a pretty extensive accounting lesson out of the deal, and owed $102 in additional taxes. This seemed like a real bargain to me, but also not a real efficient use of IRS manpower.

Of course, it goes on and on. We now all know about the details of Joe’s divorce, his personal finances, and his voting record. We know all this because Joe asked a pointed question of a political candidate that the candidate didn’t really want asked. Who among us would invite or survive this type of scrutiny in our personal lives?

The truth is most of us are Joe the Plumber. In fact, just about everybody I know is Joe the Plumber. We’re doing our best to make a living for our families, keep a roof over your head (maybe even heat it), try saving something to send our kids to college, possibly even socking away a little nest egg to be able to retire someday, and even begrudgingly paying our taxes. The truth is I expect very little from our government, but most of all I expect it to get the heck out my way. 

Spartacus is this great old movie starring Kirk Douglas about a slave who leads a revolt against the Roman Empire. You’ve probably seen it. At the end of the movie, the Romans capture the rebel slave army and demand the prisoners to identify the leader Spartacus. One by one, the captured soldiers step up and declare “I’m Spartacus!”. It’s a very moving moment. I think it would be great if the next time any of us met a political candidate, we began the conversation by introducing ourselves as Joe the Plumber. After all, Joe’s story is our story at some level. I’m proud to be Joe the Plumber.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vote for Competence this time around

After 8 years of stellar incompetence, isn't it time for a change? I was very pleased to see that Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president. His words are quite moving as he describes his reasoning for this decision. Hopefully this will have some sway with retired military, older voters and other folks that may actually believe "hate radio" and robo-calls. As I described in earlier posts, I liked the McCain 2000 brand when he was running against "W". It is truly sad that he has adopted their tactics and message. Here is a link to the endorsement video:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Financial Planning

Editorial on Federal Bailout Bill

I contacted Rep. Lew Evangelidis to ask permission to publish his editorial. I agree with his sentiments:

Subject: Editorial on Federal Bailout Bill

Dear Citizen,

Like so many of you, I am very frustrated and upset with the current affairs with our Federal Government and the $700M  bailout bill.  I have always felt as though special interest money has led to a disservice of the American People.  I think this a critical time in American History when people are upset and paying attention. I have submitted the attached editorial to many papers across Massachusetts.  If you agree with my sentiments I would ask you to forward it to your e-mail list so we can continue the dialogue of how to make our Government more representative of the people. As always, I hope that you are enjoying the beautiful fall weather here in New England.

Sincerely,

Lew Evangelidis 

Date: October 8, 2008

 Where is our Abraham Lincoln when we really need one?

The culpability of Wall Street in our current fiscal meltdown has been clear.  What needs to be equally clarified is the culpability of our elected officials in Washington D.C.  The American people must hold both political parties accountable for passing legislation and allowing deregulation of the banking and investment industries. These actions are at the root of our current crisis. 

 This was a bi-partisan betrayal of the American people for which we are now being asked to pay the bill; to the tune of $700 billion.  What must come out of this crisis is getting the special interest money out of our politician’s p ockets once and for all. 

I offer a brief history on how we got here. Following the Great Depression of 1933 the Glass-Steagall Actwas passed which set a clear boundary line between commercial banks and investment companies.  This separation protected our deposits in banks, forcing banks to choose between being a simple bank or an investment firm. Beginning in the 1960’s banks started lobbying Congress to allow them to enter the bond markets, leading to a lobbyist subculture around Glass-Steagall. Some lobbyists were overheard bragging about how the bill put their kids through college.  Over the past twenty years our Federal Government has dismantled these protections, which directly led to our current condition.  Both parties participated in these repeals and both have been compensated greatly for their cooperation by the banking and investment industries.  The most min imal research shows how thoroughly our politicians have “for sale” signs displayed on their office doors. The number one contributors to the last Republican Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, were those in the securities and investments industries.  The current Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, these same interests are number two on her contribution list, only behind lawyers.  These lobbyists, PAC’s, Corporations and special interests are deeply embedded in both of our political parties. Corporate interests almost single handily pay for each parties national conventions and nearly every candidates war chest up for re-election.  It is hard to imagine how any of these interests help the American people get a better Government.

 Congress passed several bills during the 80’s and 90’s culminating in the 1999 Financial Modernization Act which was the ultimate repeal of the separation of banks and business firms.  In the 1997-98 election cycle prior to the passage of this bill, the finance, insurance, and real estate industries ( referred to as the FIRE sector) spent over $200 million on lobbying and made more than $150 million in political donations. This is a repeat of The Savings & Loan scandal which cost the taxpayers over $200 Billion just 17 years ago.

 Incredibly, the very same lobbyists that helped to create our fiasco have now descended like vultures onto Capital Hill to get their piece of this $700 billion pork loaded bailout. This is playing out like a Shakespearian Comedy, a very unfunny one at that. Unless we, the American people, wake up it will soon be back to business as usual on Capital Hill. 

We the people have a chance.  Our forefathers set up our Constitution where the people have the final say.  I propose the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  This Amendment would ban all lobbyists, PAC’s, Special Interests, unions and corporations from contributing to any candidate seeking public office in this country.  How do we as American’s benefit from allowing these interests to have such influence to dictate our laws? These last few weeks have clearly demonstrated the heavy costs to the American People of the status-quo. A Constitutional Amendment is certainly a dramatic step for our country, but also our greatest hope to restore a Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. 

I represent the First Worcester District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and I can be reached at Rep.LewisEvangelidis@hou.state.ma.us

 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Vets give McCain a "D"

I made the assumption that because of John McCain's extraordinary POW experience that he had nailed (and deserved) the Veteran and National defense vote. I guess I was wrong. Apparently he missed a crucial vote on the new GI bill, stopping a second rate GI bill, and enhanced Veteran's benefits. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave him a "D" for this record.

Obama did much better with an "B" and Kucinich garnered an "A". I really like Kucinich and I feel it was unfortunate that he was ridiculed during the primary season. It was a strange experience, but I was listening to John McCain in Peterborough and missed seeing Dennis who was signing books in a nearby bookstore. I regret that lapse.

I feel this is relevant information, because Cindy McCain is now making allegations that Obama does not "Support the troops" because he voted against a funding bill that did not have a "time line". Cindy seems to have a lapse of memory because her husband voted against a similar funding bill that DID have a time line.

Some background on this radical group:

Who is the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America?

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is the nation's first and largest group dedicated to the Troops and Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the civilian supporters of those Troops and Veterans. IAVA is an independent organization and is not affiliated with any groups other than our sister (c)4, IAVA Action Fund.

 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

As if being asthmatic isn't hard enough already....

My cousin SarahD a petition request to the family. To me it seems like a case of a lack of flexibility in matters that have a direct effect on human health and safety. The issue at hand is the banning of Metered-Dose Inhalers (MDIs) that contain ozone depleting propellants.

More infomation may be found at this FDA link: http://www.fda.gov/cder/mdi/

Here is the text of Sarah's message:

"Now the gov't and drug co's have added another layer of fun to it!! Katie and I both have asthma, and barb mentioned that Jim P does too. I'm interested to find out anyone else's experience with this. Let me preface by saying that I love the environment and do not want there to be a whole in the ozone layer. HOWEVER, i am very bothered by this....
Ok, so up until recently albuterol inhalers have been made with CFC as the propellant that pushes the medicine out and into your lungs when you push down on the canister (makes the "puff" if you will). The CFC kind of inhalers have been discontinued as of 12/31/08 (because as we know, CFC's are bad for the ozone), and have been replaced with inhalers that deliver hte same medicine with HFA as the propellant. I found this out at the pharmacy the other day and was NOT happy. I have used the same type of inhaler all my life and it is waht allows me to have a quality of life equal to someone who doesn't have asthma. It allows to me be as athletic as i am - which is a big thing for me. I'm afraid this switch will impact that.
These are the main problems i have with the switch:
1) NO MORE GENERICS - CFC inhalers have been around long enough for drug co's patents to expire, allowing generics to be on the market. HFA inhalers are new and have new patents so there won't be generics on the market anytime soon. In my case, I'll go from paying $15 per inhaler (roughly per month) to $30 or more. This is mostly an annoyance for me, but what about inner cities where asthma in children is so concentrated and families can barely afford the generic! :(
2) EFFECTIVENESS - I tried the HFA inhaler the other day before runnign and had to stop mid-run to use it again because my chest was feeling tight. I had to slow my pace way down for several minutes as i waited for the medicine to do it's job. With the old inhaler i used it before running and could run for a long time without any discomfort. This is really frustrating and disheartening to me because I'm training for a marathon...I better save the remainder of my last old inhaler for race day!
3) THIS:
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/health/hfa_inhalers.html
I'm not sure if this will have any impact - I mean, if CFC's are banned, they're banned. But it's at least worth a shot. Please sign the petition below if you see fit.
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/saveCFCinhalers/
Thanks! Sarah "

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Voting machine software should be open-source

Computer scientist Ka-Ping Yee makes a compelling case for using open-source software for computer voting machines. He created the prototype voting machine software he calls Pvote. The idea is that if software can be seen by everyone, flaws and security holes can be brought to light.

Watch the short video on the Science Friday website http://www.sciencefriday.com/videos/watch/10157

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bring back the McCain of 2000

Today I managed to receive not one but two blatantly racist emails about Obama. I find this repulsive. I won't honor these with a link or reference. Granted they did not come directly from his campaign but the recent "rallies" with his pit bull VP choice aren't helping. When you see people in the crowd shouting "terrorist" and "Kill him" you just have to say, where is the McCain of 2000? Where are you John?

Let's see Barack HUSSEIN Obama hangs out with a terrorist when he was 8. Omigod can we trust him?
What absolute crap. Where is John circa 2000?

Of course this has to be the strategy of a person who needs to change the subject as the economy implodes. The republicans love to channel Ronald Reagan who felt that "government was the problem". Just let everything work itself out. What a great idea. Deregulation.. that's the ticket.

I get a real kick about the complaints about the "Tax and Spend" liberals. Ahem, the money the 840 billion dollars is gonna come from somewhere, so the promises about "tax cuts" seems silly.

In 90 minutes, I'll be watching the debate. I'll confess that my mind is already made up. I just hope that the participants in the town meeting will have the good sense to ask some real question.

As a footnote, I ask that you check out the "Fact Check" links on the right side of this blog entry.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bill Moyers interview with Andrew J. Bacevich

As Congress labors over the $700 billion "package" which we are being asked to pay for, I cannot help but wonder how did we get here and where are we going.

I would strongly recommend a viewing of this episode of Bill Moyers Journal with Andrew J. Bacevich author of "The Limits of Power: The End to American Exceptionalism"

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/09262008/watch.html

Saturday, September 27, 2008

For Jon Stewart Fans

In case you missed this, I got a kick out of the 2003 - 2008 side by side

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gaden Jangtse Monks at the Mariposa Museum



The Mariposa Museum is located at 26 Main Street in Peterborough NH (603-924-4555). It has a simple mission:

When children are raised with respect and curiosity towards
other cultures, the world will know more peace and less war.
On Sept 5 -10th 2008, the Gaden Jangtse Monks came and created a beautiful sand mandala. On the 10th they disassembled the creation, indicative of the impermanence of things, even things of great beauty. The mandala was created for the compassionate Buddha which they explained that all mankind can relate to. It was truly a special event.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Let's tell the truth about Social Security

My peaceful Sunday morning was turned upside-down when I read an infuriating article in our local newspaper by the so called "Reader Advocate". Here's a link to the original:

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080727/UNKNOWN/657066284

Fixing Social Security is something I have been advocating long before it became a common topic of conversation since I had become involved with the work of the Concord Coalition. The article prompted me to produce the following rebuttal which I sent to the paper this morning:

To the Editors:

There is much to object to in Gary Vincent’s Sunday column (“Deciding what is news more art than science”, Nashua Telegraph, 7/27/2008). To enumerate them all would probably take more words than the original column and exceed the reasonable length of a letter, so I’ll focus on the most infuriating of them.

In his column, Mr. Vincent offers some analysis of John McCain’s proposals to fix the funding of Social Security over the long term. First he asserts that “claims that current workers ‘won’t receive benefits’ and that the system will ‘go bankrupt’ are false, or at least a gross overstatement”. He backs this up by offering us a time line of fiscal events derived from the Social Security Trustee’s report. From this timeline a reasonable person would conclude that the system is fully funded thru 2041 and fixable with some “tweaks” for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, Mr. Vincent leaves out some important facts which would easily persuade us that the real situation is very different.

The most import date in Mr. Vincent’s time line is 2017, at which point the government’s cost of Social Security benefits paid exceeds the amount of Social Security tax revenues collected. So far and until 2017, the amount of taxes collected has exceeded the cost of benefits paid, often by substantial amounts. As of 2007, the assets of the Social Security Trust Fund which represents the total excess taxes collected since 1937 plus interest exceeds two trillion dollars. By drawing on these assets and future interest Mr. Vincent claims Social Security can continue to pay planned benefits to 2041.


The important fact left unstated is that these assets are not like the money you and I may have stashed away in a savings account for a rainy day. This money was spent as soon as it was collected on all the other various things the government sees fit to spend money on. What’s left is two trillion dollars in IOUs that the government has written to itself, and in 2017 payback time arrives. How does the government pay itself back? By taking money from its general revenues, which is (in no small part) the money you and I pay in federal income taxes. So in 2017, not only will the federal government have to make good on its Social Security debt obligations, it will also have to do without the excess Social Security funds it’s been using to balance the rest of its spending budget…a double whammy. As the baby boomers continue to reach retirement in larger and larger numbers the cost of benefits grow exponentially. At the same time, the ratio of workers paying taxes to retirees collecting benefits flips driving the shortfall between taxes collected and benefits paid ever higher. Once these facts are brought to light, the problem of funding Social Security into the coming decades should be clear to even the casual observer.


So why would such an obviously crucial fact that might well lead us to an opposite conclusion be missing from the analysis? Mr. Vincent is obviously an educated and intelligent individual. Frankly, I find it inexplicable. The only reasonable conclusion I can come to is that Mr. Vincent is less interested in reporting the facts than in promoting a particular political agenda which inconveniently runs contrary to the fiscal reality. So in an opinion piece which is ostensibly on the subject of the quality of news, Mr. Vincent chooses to promote half-truths which lead us to the wrong conclusions about the fiscal health of important federal social programs. On its face, this seems to raise the irony of Mr. Vincent’s title of “Reader Advocate” to Orwellian proportions.

This raises some serious questions in my mind. Where does one go to complain about the obvious political favoritism in the opinions of the “Reader Advocate” whose job it is to impartially consider complaints about the editorial policy of the newspaper? By choosing to publish such blatantly partisan political advocacy under the guise of news, don’t he and the editors compromise the position of “Reader Advocate” as impartial arbiter? How can we trust his judgment when considering charges of biased reporting by the newspaper? I have to say for this reader, the content of this article demonstrates a serious lack of judgment on the part of all the parties involved.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Can anyone take this guy seriously?

Exercising my 2nd Amendment Rights

Early this morning an intruder came onto our property with clear malicious intent. Angelika woke me from my sleep to alert me to the fact that he was here to rob us of the things are had worked hard and sweated over to earn. I immediately unlocked the gun cabinet and selected a highly accurate rifle which I keep at the ready for just such an emergency. Within seconds the trespasser was sent to his reward with a single shot. We left the body displayed in the yard for a time as a warning to others. Later he was unceremoniously buried in a shallow grave behind the Christmas trees in our field. In my estimation this was a fitting end to such a despicable character.

For weeks, Angelika has been complaining that something had been eating the green leafy stuff in our garden that was just approaching the optimal time for picking. Heads of lettuce and cabbage that had been carefully tended were disappearing before our eyes. Finally during her early morning workout, Angelika spotted the villain thru the window…a good sized and obviously well fed woodchuck.

My first attempt at ridding the world of this vermin failed when it was alerted to my presence as I took the screen off the window to take my shot. However, he was brazen enough to return the next morning and that turned out to be a fatal mistake.

For now, our garden is probably safe for another season. Unfortunately, we must be ever vigilant for the enemy is amongst us and will stop at nothing to obtain its ill gotten gain.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Just for fun

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Vista, some good some bad

I like the look of Vista on my new computer but there are a few stupid "features" that have been implemented.

  1. What is with the defrag tool? In 2000 and XP you could analyze a disk before committing to running a lengthy defragmentation. In Vista they want you to schedule a defragmentation even if you don't need to. How silly.
  2. Bring back the 2000, XP backup that lets you CHOOSE what to backup. In Vista you can backup "images" and "music" and you will get every icon and sound on the stinking computer. I wish there was a way to actually see what is in the archive. I just backed up my entire music library by doing a simple copy, it was much faster and I know what is there.
  3. When I delete a large archive or directory, it takes a long time to analyze it to determine that it is too large for the recycle bin. Just give me a popup stating "Are you sure"... so much easier on us.

These are just the complaints. The good is that I can run a Raid 0 disk arrangement and it sees all of my 4 gig of memory.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

New Ipswich, NH Request: Please pick up your trash!

I can't make sense of this. Damsite 35 has a small parking area and a nice path to a beautiful shaded area with access to a fishing area. Why would someone who enjoys the natural environment be willing to dump their trash in the parking area

 

Web_Damsite35_Trash-2

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Please support the fight against stroke

My daughter Emily is going to participate in the Falmouth Road Race this August. Here are the details:

I’m training to run the 2008 Falmouth Race to benefit Tedy's Team! Your donations mean so much to me!

Through Tedy's Team, I have a coach, a team, training schedules, and special clinics – and I’m raising thousands of dollars for stroke research and education programs. That’s important, because someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and someone dies of one every 3.1 minutes. And 29 percent of people who have strokes are under age 65.

I’m asking for your support through your good thoughts and a generous contribution to the American Stroke Association. I am especially proud to run on behalf of many who’ve had a stroke and desperately need our help. You can run with me in spirit.

P.S. Your tax-deductible contribution, sent as soon as possible, is greatly appreciated! Every dollar makes a difference toward stroke research and education. If your company has a matching gift program, please send me the matching gift form along with your check – and potentially double your donation!

Follow This Link to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support ASA - NEA - Boston,MA

Link to my Page

Internet Radio - "Old Time Jam"

I like bluegrass music but gravitate to the older more traditional forms. I guess I feel the same way about country and rock music. Of course this music is impossible to find on any radio station. Once again I'm saying "Thank God for the Internet!"

I'm a member of bluegrasscountry.org and recently discovered a GREAT show for lovers of what is sometimes called "Old Timey" music

http://bluegrasscountry.org/programs/old-time-jam/

Here is a description:

 

Old Time Jam

Mon. 6 p.m. ET, Thurs. 6 a.m. ET

Banjo player and old time enthusiast Hubie King highlights the genre that preceded bluegrass; old time. But this isn’t just a historical show! Hubie will feature field recordings of old time jams and the oxymoronic new old time musicians.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

An Unhappy 5th Anniversary

"In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country," President George W. Bush told the crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln May 1, 2003.

Right, what a disaster. I hope that history will make the final judgement on this guy.

I have nothing to say or add except profound sorrow at the misery that his incompetence (and his staff) to the families of the 4000+ American dead, the wounded and the Iraqi people that may have been better off with the "Butcher of Bagdad".

McCain has made somewhat of break with him, but still talks of "victory" without defining what that means. (PTA meetings? acceptable death by suicide bombings?)

Guess I'm a little down about the whole fiasco, it doesn't help to see the Bush guy joking through his final months and cutting up the crowd at the Correspondent Dinner. Maybe he should crack a few jokes for the families of the dead... they could use a little "cheering up". He was a cheerleader in his Yale days.. ironic isn't it?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Better than a lawn

I wish I had kept better records. Over the years I would order fall bulbs from FEDCO and get a nice flower display in the Spring. Some of these have died out over the years but one variety has actually spread outside it's planting bed. I suspect it may be a Scillia Siberica (Alba). It does have a wild hyacinth appearance. After experiencing the winter that wouldn't leave,  these flowers were a most welcome sight.

Picture 1 (original plants)

ScilliaSibericaAlba-4

Picture 2 (The "volunteers" spreading into the lawn)

ScilliaSibericaAlba-3

Picture 3 (Detail of this delightful flower)

ScilliaSibericaAlba-1

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Why am I fixing the attic stairs?

I thought of a song by Lou and Peter Berryman yesterday. I finally tackled my broken attic stairs chore which I have been avoiding for weeks. I chose Saturday because the weather prediction was for heavy rains. Once this task was underway with the help of my friend and I found myself in the attic, the sun broke through the clouds, the temperature soared and spring made it's appearance. In the confines of the attic I could hear the birds singing, flowers blooming and somewhere a bluegrass band playing along a bay. Here is segment of the lyrics.

"...Holes in the ozone the size of Brazil
Barges of trash in the chewable breeze
Pools of industrial wasteland paté
Sulfur dioxide dissolving the trees
Pretty soon it will all end with a boom
Why am I painting the living room?
I have the whole day off
Cause it's a Saturday
There is a bluegrass band
Somewhere along the bay
Look at the lilacs bloom
Why am I painting the living room?..."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Solution for veracity gap? another lie

"A lot of the way this whole campaign has been covered has amused me," he said. "But there was a lot of fulminating because Hillary, one time late at night when she was exhausted, misstated and immediately apologized for it, what happened to her in Bosnia in 1995. Did y'all see all that. Oh, they blew it up. Let me just tell you. The president of Bosnia and Gen. Wesley Clark -- who was there making peace where we'd lost three peacekeepers who had to ride on a dangerous mountain road because it was too dangerous to go the regular, safe way -- both defended her because they pointed out that when her plane landed in Bosnia, she had to go up to the bulletproof part of the plane, in the front. Everybody else had to put their flack jackets underneath the seat in case they got shot at. And everywhere they went they were covered by Apache helicopters. So they just abbreviated the arrival ceremony. Now I say that because, what really has mattered is that even then she was interested in our troops. And I think she was the first first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt to go into a combat zone. And you woulda thought, you know, that she'd robbed a bank the way they carried on about this. And some of them when they're 60 they'll forget something when they're tired at 11:00 at night, too."

--Bill Clinton, Boonville Indiana (April 10,2008)

What is wrong with this couple? Are they unaware that they are under constant scrutiny by the press? Don't they realize that these comments are recorded for rebroadcast (and justified ridicule)?

I can only surmise that Bill does not want his wife to be president. He seems to be sabotaging her campaign, perhaps he is trying to  boost her image as a victim.

And...

  • Hillary gave her "SniperGate" speech in the morning.
  • Pat Nixon visited Vietnam in 1969.
  • I'm 61 and I've never had a false memory of being shot at even at 11:00 pm.

If it's 3 am and the phone rings, I don't want a confused president.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

John Adams, Dick Cheney and the war

I have been watching the HBO series about John Adams based upon the book by David McCullough. I wonder what he would have to say about our present "leaders"

"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain." -- John Adams

"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war." -- John Adams

In the alternative universe that I share with two-thirds of Americans I had my sensibilities assailed by the VEEP's comments in an interview with Martha Raddatz on ABC. I am not including the video clip which captures Cheney's "concern" about our opinion because it has a negative affect on my health. The complete transcript of the interview may be found on http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/03/20080319-5.html. This is just the segment that makes us crazy.

Q Two-thirds of Americans say it was not worth fighting.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: They ought to go spend time, like you and I have, Martha. You know what's been happening in Iraq. You've been there as much as anybody. There has, in fact, been fundamental change and transformation, and improvement for the better. I think even you would admit that.

Q Let me go back to the Americans. Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting, and they're looking at the value gain versus the cost in American lives, certainly, and Iraqi lives.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: So?

Q So -- you don't care what the American people think?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. Think about what would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had paid attention to polls, if they had had polls during the Civil War. He never would have succeeded if he hadn't had a clear objective, a vision for where he wanted to go, and he was willing to withstand the slings and arrows of the political wars in order to get there. And this President has been very courageous, very consistent, very determined to continue down the course we were on and to achieve our objective. And that's victory in Iraq, that's the establishment of a democracy where there's never been a democracy, it's the establishment of a regime that respects the rights and liberties of their people, as an ally for the United States in the war against terror, and as a positive force for change in the Middle East. That's a huge accomplishment.

GW Bush as a Lincoln? Interesting idea

Cheney spent Wednesday, the 5th anniversary of the war, not mourning the dead, but fishing off the Sultan of Oman's royal yacht. So?

How is the war going?

In death and suffering:

Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

In dollars and lost resources for our citizens

Cost of the Iraq War

 

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I would remember if someone shot at me..

 

I did find myself in a war zone in the Viet Nam war. Collected combat pay and got to mail stuff for free. Thankfully I was stationed on the Carrier USS Bon Homme Richard and the Vietnamese didn't seem inclined to bomb us.

So imagine my surprise when Hillary told her harrowing story of dodging sniper fire. I thought about this a bit. Wouldn't this be imprinted on your memory? Having people shooting at you?

"There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result."
Winston Churchill

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama's speech - "A More Perfect Union"

 

The pundits and talk show hosts will show segments of this speech and pontificate upon what it means. I think it is worth watching the entire speech without having it interpreted for us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Buster Fails to be transgendered

Buster

We are responsible pet owners. We neuter all the cats that we share our lives with.  Buster is a gentle loving cat. He was very playful with his male cat buddy Twinkie (our original cat) and gets along with the older male cat Pickles. However Twinkie got ill and passed on. We tried to introduce another male cat "Sam" but that was disastrous.  Buster was very aggressive to the poor guy. Finally poor Sam went outside one evening and never returned. He may have been a victim of a Fisher Cat attack.

When my daughter moved into an apartment that didn't allow pets we ended up with a neutered female cat "Paris". She is a feisty little thing and Buster hates her. He's attacked her and has picked up the very disgusting habit of spraying around the house. Besides convincing us that we will never own another male cat, I tried a few remedies. After chasing him around with a spray bottle (taste of his own medicine) I decided that negative responses is going to work with this cat. I purchased an aerosol pheromone spray that is supposed to calm cats. It is called "Feliway" and as the disclaimer in the literature mentions that it may not work on all cats. It is supposed to mimic the "calming" pheromones that a cat releases when it rubs against objects instead of the territorial spraying "MY SPACE" pheromones.  Buster scoffed at this product.

Finally we settled on a vet visit with female hormones for good old Buster. He was okay for a day or two, obviously in a state of sex confusion. I actually had a pang of guilt... but he's back to his nasty spraying attitude. He is so gently with human (especially me) but can't deal with this particular female cat. We have given it over a year to work to no avail.

I've decided to teach her some defensive moves with a bit of sparring and although she can draw human blood (mine), I can see that this is going to be a long process.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The War Continues... pay attention!

Bob Schieffer (Face The Nation) commented this morning how the war in Iraq has slipped from the public consciousness. Of course this can never be true for the families affected by the separation, injuries and deaths of our servicemen.

 

I was reminded of this fact from a former shipmate who sent this email early this morning:

Just a quick note to let  y'all know what is going on in my life right now.
I am in Mena Arkansas to attend my uncles funeral. He was my Fathers youngest brother.
Wednesday morning I received word that my older brother Pat was killed,died, in Iraq.
Won't know anything about how or what happened till he gets back to Dover AFB on Tuesday.
He's the same brother that was a "River Rat" when I was cruising on the Oriskany.
It always bothered him greatly that he was IN Country and I was mostly on Yankee station
or Dixie station. He was drawing one set of hazardous duty pay, while I was getting 2 sets for flying.
I told him it was for all the mean things, and trouble he would get me to do.
I will miss them both.

See y'all (the ones that are going) in April,

MRM

Most of us will never get that call, but we should realize how many have. I'm so sorry for my friend and his family. I just want this damn war to end

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tai-Chi at Work

One of the benefits of working with computer engineers is meeting a number of interesting individuals from various cultures. When I worked on Spitbrook Road in Nashua, NH for Digital, twice a week we would start our day with a Tai-Chi long form in the parking lot. Tai-Chi is relaxing and strenuous at the same time, it is wonderful. It was great practicing outside as long as the weather cooperated. Later I ended up back in Massachusetts and discovered another lunchtime group that would practice in a conference room. That group was led by Taichun Pan, a software engineer. I knew he was a good teacher but didn't realize what a good musician he is. It was just a matter of time till he appeared on a YouTube courtesy of a local Boston show "Asian Focus".

 

I was sent these links from a co-worker who is also a musician and practitioner of martial arts (with swords no less). On Spitbrook Road we did a brief stint with swords and I got to meet security one morning (Note: The swords are useless as weapons). Enjoy the videos

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Temporal Displacement and Vivid Dreaming

One of the joys of being an elder is the opportunity to try new medications. I managed for decades to avoid any prescriptions but finally my borderline hypertension needed some tweaking. After reading about what high blood pressure can do and seeing stroke effects in my own family, I was only too willing to join the rest of my pill popping generation. Thankfully I only need low dosages of Enalapril and Hydrochlorothiazide. Enalapril was developed by clever folks who found a way to utilize Brazilian viper toxin secrets.... that impressed me greatly.

Of course all medication has side effects and as an aficionado of Google I had a great time reading about all the possible side effects of these drugs. Buried deep in the list is something called "vivid dreaming". I missed this on the first pass, instead developing a psychosomatic "dry cough" which was totally self induced (and quickly dissipated). However my dreaming has taken on a more realistic presence. I'm begging to feel like Billy Pilgrim who became "Unstuck in Time" in Kurt Vonnegut's novel "Slaughterhouse Five". It's a weird sensation when dreams seem to blend into reality. Since dream time flow differs from waking time, there is a slight time shift. It seems to be a harmless phenomenom because I attempt to live a uneventful stress free life and have uneventful stress free dreams. Or pehaps I may be experiencing a placebo effect. I cannot imagine how either of these drugs can have psychotropic qualities. I like to know how things work.

In a recent episode of ABC's LOST, our hero Desmond has a few problems with temporal displacement. He had it really bad, and that's the kind of thing that happens to folks on that island. The show did capture the feeling of jumping into different times and it does give a sense of what vivid dreaming feels like, being here and there at the same "time".

Why this posting? It's one in a series of "musings" but perhaps a helpful reader can give me some insight about the biological mechanism. In the meantime I'm hoping to graduate to "Lucid Dreaming"... that would be even cooler!

Pleasant dreams

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Get rid of your junk...make some $$$


Having a yard sale is quaint, but if are a packrat like me, you need the help of the internet to move your stuff.


After years of moving around books in the attic, I discovered that I could list them on Amazon for free. Unfortunately you will see that the novels and bestsellers you purchased for real money will be offered for 99 cents.
I don't understand how this is profitable to the seller. Amazon lists the book with your description and your condition rating and adds a postage rate. When the sale is complete the buyer rates the transaction and the seller gets the money and postage minus Amazon's take. It's quite easy and I had one great sale of a $50 book on image processing that ended up going to an image processing business. Everybody won in that transaction.

If you have some big (unable to mail) stuff like a used car, old roof racks that only fit cars or vans with rain gutters, hiking boots that don't fit, the ubiquitous exercise bike that you are using as a coat rack then I would suggest Craigslist. Once again the posting is free but you need to arrange for the transaction. This is more prone to scams and weird emails so you need to be a little more careful. However I was able to sell a used car, those uncomfortable boots,
the roof racks and a mosquito magnet device that was completely ignored by New Hampshire mosquitoes. In full disclosure, I explained this to the couple that bought it but they were willing to give it a try (but I sold it for cheap!). Selling on Craigslist is a bit like having a yard sale. You let the folks know via email where you live so you need to be careful before releasing any information. I got one questionable email from Florida about someone who was going to send an agent because they had been waiting all their life to purchase a run down car. Usually people in the salt-belt of New England want to buy "Southern Cars". I could imagine getting a "bank" check made out for too much and being asked to "refund" the difference or some other creative scam. I ignored this one.

We had a couch that ended up in the landfill (which cost me $25). I tried everything to unload this. First I listed it on Craiglist, then I offered it for FREE on Freecycle. There were many interested buyers but the problem always came back to transportation. Freecycle is a great resource for getting rid of items that are still usable but really not saleable. I had a pile of classical music vinyl records that I "rescued" at the dump. I intended to digitize them. Digitizing vinyl in real time was never going to happen. A nice couple arrived and took them away. They used to have a radio show. I kept music out of the landfill. This is very fulfilling.

Finally for valuable stuff (like my pile of film cameras) there is the grandaddy of selling sites eBay. I was able to sell one of the cameras for more than I expected. Ebay offers extensive help on the selling process and I was happy with my experience. They take their cut but the site is probably the most well known (and visited) of the one's I have listed.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Watch out for falling Hydrazine

The US Navy launched a MODIFIED missle from the USS Lake Erie to destroy a defective spy satellite that was going to fall from orbit on March 6th 2008.

The rationale for this action was presumably to protect the public from any danger (a large tank of toxic Hydrazine). I'm glad to see that our defense department is protecting us but I have been "musing" over this story. The missle used was modified to reach the higher altitude of the satellite. Although we did tell the Chinese about the test, I think this is a not-so-subtle way to demonstrate to the world that we can knock out satellites if we want to. We squawked a bit when the Chinese shot down one of their satellites so I guess we had to prove we still have the "right stuff". I'm guessing our GPS satellites are being targeted.

I'm glad we have the same (or a superior) level of technology as our potential adversaries, but I really do not want to see an arms race for the "High Frontier".
We haven't even cleaned up the mess of our nuclear arms race yet, with "loose nukes" and missing plutonium . Hopefully we'll use our cleverness to tackle some of the other challenges that mankind faces.

Sigh, When will we ever learn?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Leave me alone! Enough already...

In the 5th episode of Seinfeld in the 9th season, Kramer tries to stop the flow of junk mail. He is especially incensed at all the "Pottery Barn" catalogs. Eventually he goes too far and ends up being threatened by Wilfred Brimley playing the Postmaster General.

I'm amazed at the number of catalogs, credit card offers and yes"Pottery Barn" catalogs and their ilk that we receive weekly. We neither read or order from these, we simply cart them off to the dump for recycling. Presumably they are shredded, processed and reprinted with more exciting "offers".

This useless paper cycle cannot be good for the environment. I cannot imagine how much fuel is consumed delivering this stuff and carting it away for reprocessing. I read that the average family gets approximately 41 pounds a year.

I'm taking some concrete measures to stop this nonsense. Our local paper had a number of web sites devoted to ways to opt out and get off the grid. One surprise was that I had to enter a credit card for the Direct mailing association.

web site: http://www.dmachoice.org/

They gave this as an explanation:

"There is no charge to register for the Mail Preference Service online. Consumers will be asked for a credit card number only to validate their identity and mailing address when registering. The credit card number will be used to authenticate and validate the consumer's identity through a no-charge transaction. As with many credit card verification programs, consumers may see an authorization pending for 3-7 days, and no charge will be issued to the monthly bill."

This seemed a little fishy to me, but I decided to take a chance. The benefit of no more "Antique Restoration" catalogs is just too tempting. I'll monitor this carefully and report back on this posting.

Another free site is http://www.catalogchoice.org/

This site has a search field that allows you to search for catalogs by name. I found Pottery barn in a matter of seconds, Kramer would have been ecstatic.

Finally there is the issue of the unsolicited credit card offers and those "courtesy" checks made out for substantial amounts, guaranteeing years of debt.

The web site is http://www.optoutprescreen.com/
It's free to opt out for 5 years, a charge if you opt out forever ... why would you?

If you need to be part of a movement against junk mail and want to save the planet you can join this organization for dues of $41 for 5 years.

The website is http://www.41pounds.org/

Good luck.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Are you driving in stealth mode? Please don't!

Finally a break in the winter cycle of ice and snow then snow and ice and cold.

The temperature broke 50 degrees here in New Hampshire with a light drizzle. The combination of warm humid air and a snow cover has produced pockets of dense fog.

I was out on a rare shopping excursion and was amazed at the number of cars and trucks that are driving around without turning their headlights on. They are absolutely invisible. A number of these vehicles are "fog colored".. muted grays and white. Many states have a "wipers on, headlights on" law. New Hampshire with it's motto of "Live Free or Die" does not have this law. I love this state but sometimes the motto seems to be "Live Free AND Die". Isn't it common sense to make your vehicle as visible as possible to prevent other's from running into you?

I am going to label this post as "Common Sense" because part of my role as an elder is to dispense wisdom. "Common Sense" is a misnomer, it is actually accumulated wisdom gained by a multitude of spectactular mishaps.

In the meantime, please turn on your lights when it's foggy or you need to use the wipers. Remember to turn them off when you leave the vehicle if your car is so badly designed that it doesn't have an alarm (idea: engineering design flaws are a good subject for a posting).

I want to keep you around, I can use the readership for this drivel.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Valentine's Greeting from Nature



Tabblo: Happy Valentine's Day

I believe that this is an epiphyllum. I don't know because this plant has no history. A friend was closing a greenhouse and realizing that I have an affinity for plants, she offered the ones that had been left for on their own for some time. I was happy to take the older desert cactus which were in wonderful shape but I noticed several sunburnt and neglected "orchid cactus". I believe these are plants native to central america and although they are cactus, they do not thrive under full sunshine and little water. They are large ungainly plants and although I really don't have the room I didn't want to see them discarded. I put them in our cold and uninviting basement under fluorescent lights and much to my surprise I was greeted with a flower display in time for Valentine's day. ... See my Tabblo>


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Think it's easy being me? read on!


I attended a nice party of a former co-worker last saturday. The party was located about an hour and half from home. I brought along my reading glasses in case in needed to read anything. I always bring along to be prepared. It was a wise decision because the hostess had hired a piano player and we had a sing along. All the time I made a conscious effort to NOT put the glasses down on a table or counter with the full realization that I would leave without them (are glasses plural or singular?). Early this morning back at home I have no idea where they are. An isolated incident? NOPE!

I 'm always losing track of car keys, my wallet and all the accouterments of modern life. I follow routines, try to put items in the same place so I can find them. It is hopeless. I have bought so many tape measures because I can't find the 3 I already own. I only can find phillips head screwdrives when I have a slotted screw and vice-versa. I think I'm a bit mad.

Thankfully my sister had spent her life diagnosing me. At first she realized that I had Attention Deficit Disorder because she was reading a book about it. She leant me the book but I had a lot of other distractions and never got around to reading it. After that she did some more research and realized that I suffered from Asperger's Syndrome. I have to agree with this diagnosis because it helps me bond with her son (my nephew). I'm looking forward to reading the book she has on this, if I can concentrate long enough. What does this have to do with the missing glasses? Nothing of course.

It's not easy being me, but it is especially tough on my wife and friends. I have to admire their great patience and tolerance. When I misplace the glasses, keys and tape measures I roam around the house and rant endlessly about my fate. Thankfully my wife implores Saint Francis and he usually comes through in his role as patron saint of missing objects. I also tend to draw these patient folks into my decision making process, this is a role that understandably they would like to avoid.... but that is a subject for another posting

Friday, February 8, 2008

Is John McCain a "true" conservative?


Is John McCain a conservative? I think he is and in a good way. I should know, I'm a bleeding heart liberal who is a tree hugger who thinks government can help people. With all the noise from the "pundits" on the TV political shows the term "conservative" has been bandied about by everyone including McCain himself. I felt the definition of a conservative as one who espouses personal responsibility and government policies that promote moral behavior seemed to fit my own idea of what their philosophy encompasses. There is also a strong feeling that government should stay out of the way. All the Republican candidates talked so much about Reagan that I expected him to be channeled right into the debates. Funny they didn't mention the "compassionate conservative" George W Bush. I wonder why?
I would define Conservatism as "maintaining the current order." I don't draw a distinction between this political definition and my tree hugging sensibilities especially when it comes to the environment. McCain has broken with his party over some important issues such as drilling in the Artic, bet that annoyed Cheney and Bush, the oilmen. He is also been very vocal on global warming. A maverick in the best sense.
During the New Hampshire primary season I remember watching Mitt Romney flail around about the torture debate and waterboarding. He was completely unable to comprehend that simulated drowning might constitute torture. He was going to ask the "experts" whoever they may be (Marquis de Sade?). McCain to my great delight is very articulate on this matter after enduring torture for 5 years. This is not a popular position to take for the republicans.
So who is criticizing McCain? Who are these stalwarts of Conservativism? Rush Limbaugh (recovering Drug Addict), Ann Coulter (always fashionable in a black cocktail dresses), Tom Delay (my all time favorite smiling mug shot photo), and "family values" experts like James Dobson. Also a collection of radio and TV personalities who see "Nuking" Iraq as a thoughtful foreign policy.
I'd vote for the guy but the 100 years in Iraq and total victory (whatever that means) does not sit well with me. Obama is my candidate and hopefully the democratic machine will realize that he is the only candidate that can win against a man like McCain. I have reasons for supporting Obama, but I'll save that for another posting.

How did the Polar Bear end up in Tunisia?


I've been "musing" about this for some time. I'm upset that we are only going to get 8 episodes of "Lost" this season due to the writer's strike. Anyone who is addicted to this series as our family is knows that it filled with unanswered questions. In the second episode of the fourth season, a skeleton of a polar bear is discovered in the Tunisian desert. Okay, this is fairly common for this show. A collar is discovered nearby with a symbol of one of the Dharma Initiative Stations. I thought it was a palm tree, my daughter thought it was "The Flame Station". Thankfully we have the internet with it's myriad of resources (people with lots of time on their hands). I found this nice write up on Wikipedia. It doesn't explain much but we still have 5 episodes to go... sigh


Station ?: The Hydra
The Hydra is a zoological research station located on another island which is about twice the size of Alcatraz Island, two miles off the island the survivors are on.
It has a section above ground on the coast and another section underwater. The Hydra facility has cages outside the station in the jungle. An underwater complex was once used as an aquarium, which housed sharks and dolphins. This underwater complex may be linked with the shark with the Dharma logo on its rear fin seen in the season 2 episode, Adrift. There is also a quarry somewhere on the Hydra island where Kate and Sawyer were forced to work. It is later revealed that they were helping to construct a runway, although this is presumably Juliet just joking with Sawyer, as she remarks later it was for the aliens to land.
The polar bears which the survivors encounter could possibly have been caged in the Hydra as Tom had said to Sawyer that the bears were able to solve the feeding mechanism of the cage with ease. Charlie had stated that the polar bears were the Einsteins of the bear community.
In the second episode of the fourth season, a leather collar bearing the Dharma Hydra symbol is found near a polar bear skeleton in the Tunisian desert.