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Friday, March 31, 2006

roto-tilling the odds & ends

We’ve had two unused vehicles parked in our driveway for longer than I care to admit. One is a Nova from 1996 1986 that still runs (needs new brakes) and would, once in a while, just not start. I got it for nothing from my brother-in-law, who got it from his father, and it got me to Branford three times a week for a couple of years. By the time the odometer quit, it had more than 120,000 miles on it.

And Stanley has a van that he ran into the ground. It finally got more expensive to fix it (in terms of both time and money) than to get another decent used van. He doesn’t need anything fancy because he uses the van for work only.

We tried to donate these cars to the Kidney Foundation, but they were rejected as being too old and we were told it would cost us $35 per to “give” them to the charity. Nuts to that, Stanley said—we’ll just junk them at the junkyard. They’ll haul them away.

Only, in order for them to do that, ya hafta set it up. Time passed, we were busy, and before we knew it trees were sprouting through the rust spots. But this week, I’d finally had it with them and asked Stanley to get rid of them. Which he started to do—he used the van as a repository for the stuff that needs to go to the dump, and this week he emptied and made a couple of dump runs. We were getting so close to getting rid of them!

Today, it was so weird, but these people stopped by to ask if we were interested in selling the van and the Nova. The guy is a mechanic, and the woman has an equally old Nova hatchback, and they were interested in at least getting the vehicles for the parts. Selling them? Hah! Stanley told them, “If you haul them away, they are yours.” So, tomorrow, finally, oh please oh please, they’ll be gone. We even found the titles without much trouble. That’s a big one I can cross off my (or rather Stanley’s) to-do list.

Our lawn reclamation project from last year was a failure. We did get some more grass in the bare areas, but it look more like failed hair plugs than anything remotely resembling a lush lawn. Or even a non-lush lawn. Just a tuft here and there. We had to accept the fact that it is going to take some serious work to turn back into lawn. The ground resembles hardpan more than anything.

So Stanley asked me if I wanted a roto-tiller. Yes! So he ordered a Troy-Bilt for me. Via Amazon. And if finally shipped yesterday, though according to Fedex tracking it took a day to get from Northern Kentucky to Northern Kentucky. He says they’re walking it, which is why the estimated deliver time is between April 18 and May 4.

More "roto-tilling the odds & ends"

posted by lee on 03/31/06 at 08:39 PM

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

molly ivins says it better than i can

I read Molly Ivins’ column in The Progressive today: Enough of the D.C. Dems, where she expresses her utter disgust for the current crop of Democrats vying for the 08 run for the prez, including Hillary Clinton. She articulates what I’ve been thinking. There’s nobody, and I mean nobody, in DC that I would even consider supporting for president (Ivins says Feingold is ok, but I don’t know enough about him to know if I agree). I, too, am so sick of the gutless wonders and the bullshit artists and I keep waiting for one of these natterers to take a Democrat stand and stick to it.

Ivins wrote:

As usual, the Democrats have forty good issues on their side and want to run on thirty-nine of them. Here are three they should stick to:

1) Iraq is making terrorism worse; it’s a breeding ground. We need to extricate ourselves as soon as possible. We are not helping the Iraqis by staying.

2) Full public financing of campaigns so as to drive the moneylenders from the halls of Washington.

3) Single-payer health insurance.

Every Democrat I talk to is appalled at the sheer gutlessness and spinelessness of the Democratic performance. The party is still cringing at the thought of being called, ooh-ooh, “unpatriotic” by a bunch of rightwingers.

Take “unpatriotic” and shove it. How dare they do this to our country? “Unpatriotic”? These people have ruined the American military! Not to mention the economy, the middle class, and our reputation in the world. Everything they touch turns to dirt, including Medicare prescription drugs and hurricane relief.

This is not a time for a candidate who will offend no one; it is time for a candidate who takes clear stands and kicks ass.

Yeah. Because I would like to vote FOR someone for prez, like I am for the US Senator from CT (Ned Lamont), rather than against the greater of two assholes, like the last election. And while I will continue contributing to individual candidates I support, I will never pay a dime to the Democratic National Committee or the CT Dems as long as the current bunch of so-called powerbrokers (more like powerlosers) are calling the shots. I think it’s time to seriously consider pushing for term limits for the US Congress. Twelve years is long enough for the Senate, and 10 years is probably too long for a Representative, but hey, gotta give them some incentive to do right ...

posted by lee on 03/11/06 at 08:59 PM

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

lamont will formally throw his hat in the ring

On Monday, March 13, Ned Lamont is going to announce his candidacy for the US Senate. He will do so at 4:00 p.m. in the Court Room of the Old State House at 800 Main Street in Hartford. Good.

I’ve already written about meeting Lamont, and why I can and do support him (I volunteered to work on his campaign and I made a campaign contribution). You can read it here. I’m excited that he’s running because, for a change, I want to vote FOR a candidate rather than against one.

It’s hard for me to articulate all of the reasons I cannot and will not support Joe Lieberman. But I read some posted today on My Left Nutmeg, which was a repost that, I guess, has been floating around the CT blogs, that really sums up a lot of the reasons why Liebermouth has gotta go:

Maybe you realized Senator Joe Lieberman had to go when he voted for George Bush’s war in Iraq. Or maybe it was for the poor job he did vetting Bush’s FEMA appointee Mike Brown when he chaired FEMA’s oversight committee. Or maybe it was his vote for cloture on a bankruptcy bill that will impoverish families unlucky enough to lose a job, or lose a wage-earner to illness or death, while enriching credit card companies. Or maybe it was his flirtations with privatization of Social Security and with joining the Bush administration. Or maybe it was his opposition to universal health care in 1994. Or maybe his flip flops on school vouchers. Or maybe his support of ruinous free trade agreements in Central America. Or maybe it was his countless appearances on Fox News, undercutting opposition to the Bush regime. Or maybe it was his op-ed piece in the Wall St. Journal with wild claims of success in Iraq. Or maybe it was his vote for the Defense of Marriage Act and his unenthusiastic support for civil unions for gays and lesbians. Or maybe his reluctance to condemn George Bush for misleading us into war, even though he loudly condemned Bill Clinton about misleading us about an extramarital affair. Or maybe it was his vote on giving huge tax cuts to oil companies in last year’s energy bill. Or maybe it was kissing the President after his State of the Union speech last year.

Or maybe it was his vote yesterday to clear the path for Judge Samuel Alito to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. Twenty five Democrats sought to have an extensive debate on the merits of a judge who would roll back Roe protection, a judge who is a proponent of giving limitless power to President Bush. Predictably, Joe Lieberman wasn’t one of them ... (read the rest here.)

Earlier today, I got a message from Aldon Hynes pointing me to Six Questions for Senator Joe Lieberman on Connecticut Local Politics blog. What I read was him citing a bunch of hot-button issues that he says have to be dealt with, but no positions on those issues, plus his continued support for the atrocity of the Iraq War, but his complete misreading of what it will take to get Dems back into the fold—which he says is assuring us that the Dems have national security covered. Hmm. Somehow I don’t think this is the answer—I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe, just maybe, Dems want the Democratic Party to field (and here’s a concept) Democrats and not a bunch of career politicians busy fleeing to the right of center lest they lose their jobs. What I did really like in Six Questions ... was a comment by posted by TrueBlueCT, listing the real questions that Liebermouth needs to answer:

Is Sean Hannity really a “wonderful American”, and how do you reconcile your friendship with Sean and the hate-filled bile he spews? Do you regret your comments in support of the Terri Schiavo intervention by Congressional Republicans? Will you die a Democrat, or is there a chance you might quit the Party? (you hinted that you would be on the November ballot, one way or the other.) Your house in New Haven is for sale. Where do you intend to live during your next term? Are we in another Vietnam? What if Iraq isn’t winnable? (the Humpty-Dumpty principle.) At what point do we admit a mistake? Hamas just won the Palestinian elections. Do you think our occupation of Iraq played a part in the extremists’ rise to power? What do you think of Saudi Arabia, and their repressive regime? Should we be pressuring them towards Democracy? Torture! Is it an American value? If not, how do you square your vote in favor of Alberto Gonzales confirmation? Are all the Gitmo detainees guilty? Shouldn’t there be some system of due process? The Bankruptcy Bill. You voted for it before you voted against it. Why didn’t you join the filibuster attempt when so many Democrats were strongly against it?
Yep, Liebermouth has gotta go. And we have a real Democrat running against him. DIANE FARRELL Diane said she supports Lieberman. Why she did this, or felt she needed to come out in support of ANYBODY at this point, has me baffled. The main plank in her platform for her run against Shays is the war. So how can she support a flaming hawk? I planned on volunteering to do campaign work at her headquarters and I planned on sending a contribution. But I’m rethinking this—especially since I have yet to receive a response from her aboout why she did this. It served no purpose: why announce in support of anyone so early in the game? Did the party big shots (you know, those geniuses who managed to lose the last two presidential elections) threaten her with a funding drought? What did she have to gain from this? I am so disappointed. If someone, preferably Diane herself, could explain why she did this, I would appreciate it. And explain how it isn’t shooting herself in the foot, and how she’s going to regain some credibility. Her campaign always bothered me because of the exceedingly expensive fundraisers (way out of my league—I can’t afford a grand to hear what Madeline Albright has to say), but now there’s this Keystone Kops element: support the hawk, then challenge your opponent to a debate on the war. Sounds like great advice—for losing.
posted by lee on 03/09/06 at 08:59 PM

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

more traffic nonsense

As I’ve bitched here, ad infinitum it seems sometimes, traffic on our street, Strawberry Hill Avenue, defies belief. A 25mph street, with three schools, where even the cops and buses routinely go 40mph. A two-lane street for most of it’s length, where assholes routinely pass on the right. A death corner where Strawberry Hill and Tierney Street meet. Where I’ve never seen anyone getting a traffic citation—not even the asswipe that slammed into me as I was turning into my driveway (he couldn’t stop in time, so tried to pass me on the right. Then claimed I was turning left.)

So when we got a flyer from the Eastern Norwalk Neighborhood Association (which I didn’t know existed) announcing a public forum on Strawberry Hill Avenue Safety at City Hall, we decided to attend. Apparently, Mayor Moccia decided to resurrect “Slow Down Days,” where residents are encouraged to create and display their own signs concerning traffic safety during the week of March 20. In conjunction with this, um, event, the forum was held to address SHA traffic issues. So we attended.

First we heard a blah-blah by the chief of police, Harry Rilling, who told us enforcement begins with us, that a combination of enforcement, education, and engineering are what keeps traffic rational. Or something like that. Said the police are in charge of enforcement and education. And turned the meeting over to Al or Hal somebody—we’re not sure who he is. Who told us his department, whichever one it is, got some more money to hire a traffic analyst and how poor the department is and how the traffic lights all operate off of DOS software so they have to scrounge around for computer castoffs to replace the sad old DOS PCs (we have about ten he can have ... ) And they waited months and months to hire a traffic analyst, and introduced us to Fred, the traffic analyst.

Fred proceeded to wave around a map and tell us about school zones, how they’re going to be extended 700 feet along all approaches and the speed limit will be 20mph in these school zones. Someone in the audience, our neighbor from a couple of doors down, pointed out that we don’t particularly need any help with speed during school hours—when kids are going to or getting out of school, the street is pretty much in gridlock. Those rolling perambulators aka SUVs take over the street as mommies make sure their kiddies don’t have to walk more than 50 feet to get home. And there are crossing guards a terrorist would be scared to mess with. Nope, we need help with the traffic mainly in the mornings and evenings during rush hour, as she and the rest of the audience pointed out. Another neighbor asked about the mess at the high school, and another about why the traffic light at Norden Place flashes more than operates (if they really cost $200,000 as claimed by the DPW guy, why would you not use it all the time?) Even if they turn on the light all the time, the DPW guy said, people would just run the light. A lot of really assinine comments tonight by our so-called leaders.

The police chief and the mayor each gave their version of “Oh, even if we did this or that, people would still do this or that.” I guess that’s their justification for not even trying. I asked about enforcement, about why cop cars and buses speed on SHA, and enforcement again, pointing out that I have never seen anyone getting a ticket. Chief Rilling claims there’s a lot of enforcement going on, that the cops write about 3,000 tickets a year (which is less than ten a day—pretty shabby for a town of more than 80,000). He invited me to make an appointment with him to go over enforcement on Strawberry Hill, so I will. I also asked about why the traffic light that was approved for SHA & Tierney in 1998 was never installed. The DPW guy said because they never got the money for it. (Note to self: give Fred Bondi a call—one of our two councilpeople, neither of whom showed up tonight.) I also asked what the police deptartment planned to do during Slow Down Days—if there was going to be an attempt at enforcement along with our homemade signs. He danced around and said there would be enforcement, but they aren’t going to announce where. Now isn’t that a load of bullshit?

Mayor Moccia also said we should be bugging our legislators to get them to give the towns at least some of the traffic fine money—right now, any traffic fines collected goes straight to the State. He’s got a point—it is outrageous that cities have to pay for enforcement but not collect on it. I don’t really care if cities get the money and use it as a revenue generator—at least our traffic laws would finally have some teeth. Maybe the lack of enforcement is the plan, a way to get citizens so riled up about it we get our reps to amend the law. I mean, really, ten traffic tickets a day is pretty insulting. It seems to me as if the cops and the mayor view traffic crime as not crimes. And I am really tired of the mayor and the police chief telling us that the fault lies within ourselves and our neighbors. And that the reason buses seem like they’re speeding is because they’re so big and noisy ... Stanley pointed out that SHA speeders are mostly Westporters on their way to or from I-95.

There’s more: a development is in the works (at Norden) that would add more than 300 housing units in one area with only one way out: to Strawberry Hill Avenue. It was supposed to have two ways out, but the developers just promised Westport that residents in this area would not have access to its streets. Since that development would be the absolutely wrong thing for the quality of life (such as it is) in this neighborhood, Stanley and I are confident that it will surely be built. And there still won’t be a traffic light at Tierney Street.

Am I cynical? You bet. I’ll do what I can—even make a slow down sign and hang it in the hedge. And I’ll start calling Rilling’s office when I see speeding cops and buses and once again we’ll offer to let cops park in our driveway (which Stanley has done before, but was never taken up on it). Moccia, Rilling, and the others are all counting on the fact that people are busy and don’t necessarily have the time to follow up, I think. There, they met with us, listened, said nothing, left—we should be appeased. Why am I not?

posted by lee on 03/08/06 at 08:59 PM

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

smallest photo

Gorgeous site, interesting photos, worth the time: Smallest Photos

Would swipe a photo to show, but it’s such a nice design you should just go see it all in context. Lots of interesting info and links about toy cameras.

posted by lee on 03/01/06 at 09:56 AM

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