Archive - Aug 2010

August 31st


Today, I sat down to write a blog post about running IPv6 on my Nokia N900. As I worked on it, I ran into a problem with my phone and I am now getting "No connection available". I spent a bit of time trying to fix this, but have had no luck yet. I have managed to find a way to reconnect to my WiFi but not search for new connection or make a cellular connection.

This has sucked up a bunch of my time, so I haven't visited as many blogs or read as many emails as I would like. I also don't have a good blog post ready at this point. The heat, back over 90 has also sapped my energy. Other projects that I hoped to get started today have remained in the waiting stage.

So, it will be a terse blog post today and a little longer until I get around to replying to some of the emails that have piled up. Sorry. More later.

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August 30th

Music Monday - The Codgers

When I initially set up the Orient Lodge Music Review to accept Sonicbids submissions, I had no idea how many people would submit their music for review, or for that matter, how many I would manage to get a chance to adequately review. For the first three month period, I agreed to review at least five performers. The three month period is over, and I've received 71 submissions for review. As a general rule, I've reviewed one a week. Some weeks, I've skipped because of writing about other music. Other weeks, I've reviewed more than one performer at a time. Today, I am reviewing an eclectic mix of four different musicians, bringing my total to thirteen. I'll try to schedule a few more for review over the next few weeks, and then probably start another cycle again soon.

As I listened to several of the submissions a logical, at least to me, grouping of musicians occurred and I thought I would highlight a few of these musicians together. No, The Codgers isn't a new folk group. Instead, it is what I'm calling the four musicians that I am reviewing this week. Each musician is, generally speaking, and older man singing songs about their lives and the regions of the country they love.

At the top of the list is Doug Spears. Doug is from Florida. Doug wrote,

It seems to me that Florida gets overlooked as a source of Americana / Folk / Roots music and artists. Overshadowed by the neon of Disney and Margaritaville, Florida's position in the southern music tradition gets largely ignored.

Doug writes about moonshine, hurricanes and houses that have been in the family for generations. His music reflects the complexities of a simple life and is well worth listening to.

While Doug writes about the way things used to be in Florida, Chris Morrisette is perhaps best know for his Ballad of Greg Oden, a song about a basketball player in Portland Oregon. He writes of the stuff of daily life, including concern about becoming "Someone's Creepy Ex-Boyfriend". Now, he drives a school bus which inspires his writing of kids songs.

Our next stop on the list of musical codgers is Lloyd Mac Hardy. Lloyd is from Nova Scotia. He doesn't have a website that I can find, however, you can find him on YouTube. He writes songs about union dues, bureaucrats, and psychiatrists and seems to follow nicely the works of Doug and Chris.

Rounding out the list is John Tango Iversen. He describes himself as "the only Northamerican singing tango in Buenos Aires". He has a new CD, "El Norte Americano que Canta Tango" coming out on September 5th, which he hopes to have on hand for the Oakland Pride Celebration. He is also in the process of making it available online. The few songs that I listened to from the upcoming album are a truly enjoyable addition to my normal diet of more folky singer/songwriters. Johnny Tango joins a long list of musicians singing the classic, "Blue Moon" and adds several other tunes that I don't know.

Doug, Chris, Lloyd and John provide a wonderful exploration of music from several different settings and when mixed together make a great virtual music journey.

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What is Your Legislative Agenda?

When my wife ran for state representative, people told us that 85% of voters do not know who their state legislators are. I never found research to back up this claim but based on the discussions we had during the campaign, it sounds about right. People would ask if we would need to move to Washington if Kim were elected. Our state legislature meets at the state capital in Hartford, so that would not be necessary.

A recent poll by Pulse Opinion Research found that 65% of people surveyed in Connecticut support initiative and referendum, and I wondered how many of them know who their state legislators are, have contacted their state legislators, or have ideas for initiatives or legislation that they would like to see.

In two months, voters will go to the polls in Connecticut. They will have an opportunity to vote for state legislators as well as a new Governor and Lt. Governor. Some people have important concerns they would like to see the legislator address. Have they spoken with the candidates about their concerns? Will they vote based on what the candidates say about these concerns?

Many advocacy organizations have their legislative agendas thought out for the coming year. Some state legislative candidates may have thought out the key points for their legislative agendas. Some of these may be fairly specific, others may be very broad. How many voters have their legislative agendas thought out for the coming year?

It is with this in mind, that I am asking you, what is your legislative agenda? Do you work for an advocacy organization and can speak about your organization's agenda? Are you running for office and can you speak about specific legislation you would like to see considered? Are you a voter with specific issues you would like to see addressed? How detailed can you get about a legislative fix?

Let me start off with a couple examples. Next year we will begin redistricting based on the results of the census. Political districts have often been drawn to support incumbents and powerful communities. What can be done to make sure that political boundaries are drawn more fairly? One idea is to end prison based gerrymandering. An objection to just about every form of legislation is that it will cost too much. How much does it cost to determine where prisoners are from? Should we have this data for other purposes as well? I believe this is a key issue that Common Cause, where my wife works, will be addressing.

Then, there are the issues that are of most interest to my daughter. She is interested in animal welfare and I have spent a lot of time speaking with rescuers about what could be done legislatively for dogs in need. Currently, animal control officers are generally part of the police department in their municipalities. They focus on public safety and not on animal welfare. There are lots of different changes that could be done to improve animal welfare. Some of the simplest would be requiring a basic level of training for animal control officers. Rescuers often feel that many animal control officers do not have enough knowledge of animal issues such as testing for diseases or judging how aggressive or trainable an animal is. Yet, like with the issue of prison based gerrymandering, there remains concern about the costs. What would it cost for municipalities to make sure that their animal control officers are properly trained? What are the related costs, such as liability of having an animal control officer without sufficient training, or the loss of public goodwill?

Related to this is the issue of when animals picked up by animal control officers should be tested for communicable diseases. Should all animals picked up be given basic tests? Do animal control officers have enough training to make a judgment call on when a test should given? Should all animals that are being adopted be tested before adoption? Again, the cost benefits calculation looms large.

These are but a few examples of legislation that the General Assembly might want to consider in their coming session. They are fairly specific. The pros and cons need to be considered. The fiscal impact, especially during these difficult financial times need to be considered.

So, what is your legislative agenda? Are the advocacy organizations you are part of and the candidates you are considering voting for supporting your legislative agenda?

(Cross posted at DeliberateCT. Please add your comments there.)

August 29th

An Open Letter Concerning the Operations of the Country Club of Woodbridge

With a week left before proposals are due to the town of Woodbridge, CT concerning the purchase or long term operations of the Country Club of Woodbridge, I have been asked to provide my thoughts about how the club has been run over the past two years.

For those not acquainted with the recent history of the club, in 2009, The Woodbridge Country Club experienced financial difficulties. Instead of the land being sold to a developer, the town stepped in and purchased the property. For the past two years, the club, renamed the Country Club of Woodbridge has been run for the town by a management country. Now, the Town of Woodbridge is seeking either a long term manager or a buyer.

I live approximately three quarters of a mile from the club. I have walked to the club to sled on its hills in the winter, just as my wife did when she was younger and would walk with her parents and grandparents to go sledding at the club.

Much of the focus of the current management has been on the golf operations and although I worked as a caddie about forty years ago, I am in no position to comment on that aspect of the operations. I also have eaten at the club restaurant from time to time. I was disappointed that the chef who had been at the club in 2009 did not return in 2010. I believe he provided real value to the club. I am glad that the town's Request for Proposals has asked all bidders to address issues of retaining current staff.

The aspect of the club that I have used most has been the pool. We were one of the first families to sign up for pool and tennis membership in both 2009 and 2010. I have used the pool extensively. In 2009, the pool didn't open until late in the season, and not many people joined. It often felt as if I had a great private pool to use in 2009. 2010 has been a different year. There have been days during 2010 which saw more people use the pool that used it in all of 2009.

As with any operation, there are minor things I would like to see done differently, yet all in all, through the difficulties of these first two years, the pool operations have been excellent. It is my hope that whomever buys or enters into a long term agreement to manage the club continues to run the pool the way it has been over the past two years.

The Town of Woodbridge has made a wise decision in purchasing the club and handling its operations as it has for these first two years. Hopefully, the decisions made by the town concerning the future operations will be as wise as these initial decisions and the people of Woodbridge will have this wonderful facility remain available, boosting the value of all the properties in town.

(Cross posted at the Woodbridge Citizen.)

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August 28th

Turtle Attack on Cape Cod

Toda is our final day on Cape Cod for this trip. We are drinking our coffee, thinking about packing and getting a quick swim in before the drive home.

Yesterday Fiona and I walked to the beach with the family of one of Fiona's camping friends. Along the way we ate some of the remaining huckleberries and the first ripe beach plums we could find.

We ended up a Coast Guard beach, but Kim had driven to Head of Meadow beach, so we walked a ways up the beach to meet her. I talked with Fiona's friend's parents about beachcombing, dune shacks and an artist we saw nestled in the dunes painting a seascape.

Later we headed down to one of the kettle ponds. There is a friendly snapping turtle that comes around looking for visitors to feed it. One woman warned that it is still a wild animal and feeding it or getting too close is not a good idea. We approached the turtle but kept a respectable distance.

The turtle moved over towards other folks who were less circumspect. A young boy offered the turtle part of his saandwich. When the turtle paid no attention, the boy reached into the water and moved the piece of sandwich towards the turtle. This caught the turtles attention and he snapped at the food, getting the little boy's finger.

There was much commotion and the little boy was taken away by his parents. Afterwards, the remaining swimmers kept a much more respectable distance.

This, along with many other experiences has provided me with considerable material to write about during the coming days.

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