Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quicken quickercism

  I'm going to the Post Office today; I'm going to return Quicken 2014 Starter Edition for a full refund.  I bought this program Saturday and after shoveling yesterday installed it on my computer.
I purchased this program because we will get a new computer and Microsoft Money will not transfer from Windows 7 to Windows 8 or 8.1.  I have used the computer for everyday finances for a number of years, it's easy, I like it.  I bank online, the banks sends almost all of my payments for me, and I simply move the information from one "file" to another.
  Quicken does none of that, I couldn't manually enter information, only what it receives from the bank is recorded.  It is simply not what I want.
  As a work-around I have built several spreadsheets in Excel that do the work MS Money did (with a little more effort, until I can link cells from one sheet to another).  I guess I'll have to do my own "homework".
  Intuit who makes and markets Quicken is a first class company; when I started using the computer to do income taxes a long, long time ago (1991) I used Parsons Technology Turbo Tax which in time became Intuit Turbo Tax, it's installed on this computer as I write.  I think a different, more expensive version of Quicken would do what I want, but it would come with a large amount and variety of things I neither want or need.  I'm going to the Post Office today.

Monday, December 30, 2013


Robbins's Cinquefoil
Photo: USFWS
  Forty years ago President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act.  Since that time many species that were in danger of never being seen again have recovered.  Those include "little known" plants like the photo above, a flower that grows in the White Mountains of New Hampshire to those as well known at the Bald Eagle.
  It would be a different country without the mighty Gray Whale, or the Peregrine Falcon, or the flowers on a New Hampshire mountain.  These are among many that have recovered, for other there is still a distance to travel before the Canada Lynx is back
Brown Pelican
Photo: USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Service based ecomony, good or bad?

Image by www.economicmodeling.com

  A service based economy places more importance on service industries than manufacturing in  advanced economies.  Service industries are health, human services, information technology, retail, financial services and education.[i]

  Someone I heard describing the transition for workers said "it's like someone trained in flooring sales trying to sell airplane parts".  Selling airplane parts requires a knowledge of airplanes and aircraft parts, much different than the knowledge required to sell flooring.

  So, how do we get to the next level.  Well, the Trade Agreement that start with NAFTA, and went on to encompass most of the world left the United States without much of its manufacturing base, and the jobs that went with that base.  We are left with trying to train those people to work in services, I guess that's where human services and education comes in.

  My question is this, what happens when they're trained, oh well the younger people need training too, but of course the birthrate is down.  Some states, like Maine, have lost population, and are "graying states" where the older people outnumber the young ones.  I guess that's where health services comes in.  But what happens when we die.

  Do you see where I'm going?  Of course I'm guessing because I was trained in aircraft parts and so was Wilbur.

[i] Wikipedia

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Looking down the line, ice covered wires and trees
Photo: Garor Degre Bangor Daily News
  Please click to enlarge any of the photos. 
There are still people without power this morning, in at least three counties.  Daughter Hollie was displaced for a couple of days as parts of Brewer lost power.
  The other damage is to the trees, ice is heavy and branches break off, or sometimes the tree will split in two.  People who rely on their trees for a living are worried now that the ice has remained for a week.
  Yesterday the sun came out and some of the line locally had the ice drop off even though it was only 14 degrees, more sun today might help.  A new storm is being predicted for Sunday and Monday during which more snow would only add weight to already stressed trees and power lines.
  We should all be thankful for the crews from power companies and tree companies for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Brunswick/Nova Scotia have come to assist.
From the hilltop.  Small trees weighted down, they will freeze to the surface
and stay bent for life, or they break.
Photo: Linda Coan O'Kresik Bangor Daily News
Trees in danger of breaking
Photo: Linda Coan O'Kresik Bangor Daily News

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Stamp act

Forever Stamps
Photo: USPS
  Next month the price of the "Forever" stamps will increase to forty-nine cents each.  This price will only be for two years and then the price will revert to forth-six cents.  Any takers?
  The reason postage prices increase and people are laid off and post offices have closed is the 5.7 Billion dollar payment each year for health care benefits for "future retirees", the Postal Service has defaulted the last two years.  The Postal Service is the ONLY Federal Agency that is required to make such a payment.  The Postal Service pissed off some people in Congress and this is the result.  Okay, that's speculation.
  When I was born, in 1940, a letter cost three cents to mail.  When I joined the Navy, in 1958, the cost was the same. So in seventeen years there was no price increase.  Of course UPS was in someones imagination and packages were either sent at the post office or Railway Express.  Now the Postal Service only gets a fraction of the package business and our economy is "service based" so the price of a stamp is gone up and up.
  I'll have to tackle the "service based economy" in a Rant, RIP stuff made in the USA.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Etching, shipping and the post-holiday ice

Etching the hood of a Honda
Photo: Shawn Lisjack
  Shawn Lisjack has a small Dremel rotary tool, and he's a bit of an artist.  HE applied a special paint to his Honda sedan and the rest is history.
  Read about it:

  I have been reading and seeing news about UPS and FEDEX not getting packages to consumers in time for Christmas.  All of this time I have been wondering about one other thing.  Did the people waiting for these items order them in time?  Or, did they wait until the last possible minute and hope for the best?  Maybe it was easier to complain about a transportation company than admit you waiting too long to order something.  Just maybe, at least that's my take.

  Here's a nice parody of Walking in a winter wonderland.  It's called Walking around in women's underwear. Listen:  

  And here's what it looked like here in Levant, Maine yesterday, it still looks the same today!
Photo: Linda Grant

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas list

Flying Santa loads up in 1940
Photo: Dolly Snow Bicknell via Bangor Daily News
  In the 1940's the Flying Santa would load up his airplane and deliver gifts to United States Coast Guard families who manned the lighthouses that dotted the New England Coast.  A new book has been written.  Read about it here:
Christmas kitty

Flying Santa at Boston Light 1947
Photo: Dolly Snow Bicknell via Bangor Daily News

Please be sure to visit www.greatergood.com and deliver your own Christmas giving, all of that for free.  Don't let the opportunity pass you by.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ice, winter and the first Republican Vice President

Hannibal Hamlin get plowed out and a new scarf - click
Photo: Alex Barber Bangor Daily News
  Hannibal Hamlin was the 15th Vice President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln's first VP.  He served in the US House, US Senate and as Governor of Maine.  This statue is located along the Kenduskeag Stream park in Bangor, Maine.  He is shown getting a little help from the Bangor Public Works Department.
West Market Square during a snow storm earlier this month - click
Photo: Chris Olmstead Photography
  West Market Square is at the beginning of Main Street, and is the northern terminus of US Route 202, the southern terminus is Dover Delaware.  It is located in the center of downtown Bangor.
Santa in Russia
Photo: Ilya Naymushin Reuters
  Santa on a sail board used to be a common sight in Bangor until last year.  The man was getting too old and had suffered an injury so this year he was in a boat instead.
The geezer, hisself deices the car
Photo: Linda Grant
A seasonal song:
Alan Jackson sings "I only want you for Christmas"  enjoy.

Monday, December 23, 2013


Antonov An-124 Cargo plane in Wichita Dec 20 2013
Photo: Wichita Eagle www.kansas.com
  This very plane landed in Wichita last week, loaded and left for Russia with 18 Cessna Skyhawk airplanes inside it's cargo bay.  That's big!
Cessna Skyhawk
Photo: Wikipedia
The Skyhawk aircraft were in crates, and I'm sure the wings and wing struts were in separate containers (a guess) 18 of these is a lot.  That's big.
Skyhawk specifications
Source: Wikipedia
Seasonal Photo:
Tasha is ready for Christmas, a former neighbor
Tasha now lives in Maryland.
Photo: Jan Faust

And  a song:
"White Christmas" by George Strait

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I'm surprised

Snip from weather.com
I'm surprised, I fully expected to wake up in the dark.  There is still freezing rain, the temp is 23 degrees.  The tree trimmers must have done their job well this past summer and fall, they did trim a lot in this area.
We had some ice overnight last night but I was able to scrape it and the roads were passable, today not so much.  I think I will be staying home today, no coffee (well, I have some here - in the thermos).
Because I'm surprised I don't really have a topic, guess I could rant about Congress but you've heard all of that before.  I could write about the Celtics win, but they didn't, almost doesn't count.  I could promise the Patriots will win, but they're iffy too.
Let's just wait and see how tomorrow morning is.
Seasonal Photo:
Casco Bay Ferries vessel Acocisco in the Parade of Light
Photo: Gordon Ghibroski at Portland Press Herald

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A smelly subject

An American Greetings Card

A fart can be QUIET,
A fart can be LOUD,
Some leave a powerful
A fart can be SHORT,
A fart can be LONG,
Some farts have been known,
To sound just like a SONG.
A fart can create
A fart can be harmless,
A fart might not SMELL,
While others are VILE,
A fart may pass QUICKLY
Or linger AWHILE....
A fart can occur
In a number of places,
And leave everyone
From wide open prairie,
To small elevator,
A fart will find all of us

But not all farts are BAD,
This is simply not true,

I received this card from my friend Jeff, well....it was different.
Seasonal Photo:
Fireworks from the tug McAllister in Portland, Maine Harbor
Parade of Lights
Photo: Gordon Ghibrowski Portland Press Herald

And a song:
Bob Wills "Christmas on the Range"

Friday, December 20, 2013

It was a long morning

  The "little" trip to Probate Court turned out to be not so little.  We arrived early and sat in the hallway until the Court opened their door.  The session began at 9AM on time, the judge heard one case, they had an attorney.  At the close of that case the judge said he needed to meet with the Board of Overseers and would be back in half an hour or twenty minutes.  The judge returned in one hour, it was now 10:30!  The wooden benches were hard.
  He heard another case, they had an attorney.  He heard two more cases of people without lawyers, and finally it was our turn - we were the last one.  It ended at 11:30AM.  Two and a half hours on a wooden bench is a bit too much.

A song for you:
This is Mary's boy child by Boney M, it's a bit long but very enjoyable.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bunches, er, er, ahh, meh!

Snowed in?
  Well, the U S Senate passed the budget bill and it has been sent to the Presidents desk, I'm guessing he will sign it.
  We are going to the Probate Court this morning to delete/add Guardians for Hollie, delete mom and add mom and dad - yeah, that's the way it's done; it's called fees.
  We will allegedly have some sun today and a temperature in the 20's, now that would be a nice birthday present for me.
  The Congress of the U S is blocking more court/judge appointments - they're going for a record.  I sometimes wish that Congress would find another way to annoy whoever is President.  This stuff has been going on for at least 20 years, it does get old.  Don't vote for an incumbent - even if one is running for a different office (case in point: we have a U S Rep running for governor of Maine) no incumbent will get my vote.
Seasonal photo:
After the recent snow
Photo: Gregory Rec staff Portland Press Herald
 Seasonal music:

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.  The original from Spike Jones, yes! Spike Jones.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's done! Almost.......

From: www.oms.nysed.gov
  The Senate will vote today, and is expected to narrowly pass, the budget that would fund the U S Government for the next couple of years.
  Not everyone is happy with this budget as it is written, and we are told it's too late to make any changes, it's either pass or fail.  Failure to pass would, or course, shut down the whole mess we call the government AGAIN!
  The biggest objection, this time, is that military retirees in the future, 01-01-14 and beyond, would have and COLA reduced by one percent, if they were under the age of 62 when they retire (that's almost 100% of retirees).  When they reach the age of 62 the full COLA would be reinstated in a sort of piece meal manner.  A fine salute to the people who protect us, sometimes with their life.

Seasonal photo:
Santa is removing Congress from his list
Photo: Getty Images via ABCNews
And a song:

This is "I can't have a Merry Christmas, Mary without you" by Jerry Lee Lewis.  Jerry Lee is one of my all time favorite musicians, but his holiday music was ah, meh.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What if they made a movie?

View from the "lamp room" of Moose Peak Light
Photo: Erica Fae
  Erica Fae, a New York City resident, has proposed making a movie in Jonesport, Maine and the nearby lighthouse of Mistake Island, Moose Peak Light.
  Ms. Fae is experienced in film, acting, and production and wants to portray historical women in the film.  The first Federal jobs, other than clerical work, open to women was for Lighthouse Keepers, and two very well know women worked in Maine.
  The owner of the light, a Connecticut businessman has given permission for use of the lighthouse, which he bought a auction several years ago.
  We will follow this story to wherever it leads.
Moose Peak Light on Mistake Island, Maine
Photo: Erica Fae
Seasonal stuff:
First music by Willie Nelson, "Pretty Paper"

And the photo:
Santa came to town Union Square, San Francisco
Photo: Michael Short, The Chronicle

Monday, December 16, 2013

Technical stuff you should see, really!

Wildcat. A 16mph robot
Photo: Boston Dynamics
  Google, Inc. has acquired Boston Dynamics, a company who has as it's major customer the Department of Defense.  Boston Dynamics (now, Google) makes some very interesting things, not the least of which are the Wildcat and the Big Dog, both four legged robots build to carry things.
Read about the transaction (it's short) here: http://venturebeat.com/2013/12/14/google-expands-its-robot-army-with-acquisition-of-bigdog-maker-boston-dynamics/
You can also access a video of Wildcat.
Click here:

to see Big Dog in action, both short videos are worth the watch.

Now, a musical treat, the song "Santa Baby" by Kellie Pickler, the song has been done many times
the original was Eartha Kitt.
The seasonal Photo:
He's knows if you're naughty, because he's naughty too. :)
Photo: E. Munoz Reuters

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's snowing and old and new

  First, back to yesterday's entry.  I should have added that my Mother-in-law, Yvonne, her sister, Olive and her uncle Jim all worked at the Eastland Hotel.  The two ladies worked in housekeeping and laundry and uncle Jim, a WW2 vet with both legs amputated due to an accident on a Submarine operated the elevators.  His injuries never slowed him down, he dug his own cellar under one house on his knees using a shovel and a wheelbarrow!

Art in the snow - please click to enlarge it's big
Photo: Simon Beck
  The artist, Simon Beck, works in the French Alps as an Orienteer.  He took a break one day in the fresh snow and decided to make a "star".  Using his compass he laid out the five points, then he put on snowshoes; and the rest is history.  He has done many designs over the past couple of years, each time it snows.  The works are viewed from a ski lift on Aigulle Rouge a mountain in Savoie, France.
Go here:
http://www.weather.com/travel/incredible-snow-art-created-foot-photos-20131212   to view more of his work, they're worth the "trip".
Seasonal photo:
People get ready for Christmas in Sidney Australia
Photo: Lisa Maree Williams, Getty Images
A bonus below:

Music by Boney M "I'll be home for Christmas"

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Eastland Hotel is reborn

The Eastland Hotel, Portland Maine - click
Photo: Portland Monthly
  For many years, I think, the Eastland was the most prominent building in Portland.  Located on High Street near Congress Street (the main street).  It had over 100 rooms and most of the time it was the best place to stay in the city.  Over the years it did run down some, rents became less expensive and tenants become more long term.  Mostly that was caused by new motels/hotels being built and the expense of keeping constant upgrades.
  In the past few day the old lady has a new name The Portland Westin, and a very expensive make over.  So the "east went west" as the saying is.
  When I first came back to Maine in 1978, I met a man who knew my father, Maurice Lord a retired Army man, who according to him, was the man who did my enlistment physical at Fort Williams when I joined the Navy.  We went to the Top of the East and had some drinks - probably too many.
A couple of years later when I was living on the street I used the restroom off the lobby to try to shave every couple of days.
The Top of the East overlooking Portland Harbor all new again - click to enlarge
Photo: Robert Witkowski Portland Press Herald
Seasonal Photo:
McArdle's Garden Center Greenwich, Connecticut - early 1950's - click
Photo: www.kansas.com

Friday, December 13, 2013

An act of love

Claire Koch
Clipped from video by Lisa Koch
  All of you may have seen the video, or glanced at it.  Anyway here it is again.  The video shows a childs love of her parents.  Born to a deaf couple Claire, a Kindergarten pupil, learned enough sign language to sign "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" during the singing for parents at the school.
Her mother attended and made a video of the presentation, she had no idea the little girl had learned to sign.  What a wonderful gift for her Mom.
  Here is a link to the video:

Seasonal Photo:
Santa-con attendees on Wharf Street - click to enlarge
Photo: Staff Portland Press Herald

Thursday, December 12, 2013

At last?

Horsehead Rock - click to enlarge
See notes after post for more information
Photo: Aislinn Sarnacki Bangor Daily News
  At last?  Maybe!  It seems that some members of Congress have made a decision to cooperate, that's amazing.  What's even more amazing is that those members, of both houses, have crafted a budget that will last longer than 90 days.  Wow, imagine that; people who are willing to do the job that we elected them to do.  I'm almost in awe!
  Now comes the nay sayers.  You know the ones, those who are guided by special interest groups, who don't listen to the people, they only listen to money.  We can't just go off willy nilly and pass some stupid budget they say.  And they want us to believe that would be un-American.  Silly them!
  I congratulate those who took the "risk" to do the will of the people.

Now, about Horsehead Rock, it is one of many natural features in the Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area in north central Maine.  These huge stone features are left by the glaciers that receded about ten thousand years ago.  The particular stone appears to have been broken off a larger stone and upended by the glacier.  The whole area is littered with these very large stone features.

Seasonal photo:
Carolers in Bath, Maine
Photo: John Ewing Portland Press Herald

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

When they passed out brains........

Location of Canon City, Colorado - click to enlarge
Image: Google Maps
  In Canon City, Colorado (indicated on the map by "A"), Hunter Yelton, a six year old first grade student was suspended from school.  He was suspended on a charge of sexual harassment.  What caused this commotion?  He kissed another first grader, a girl, on the hand!  Will he be classified as a sex offender for life? Probably not.  Will this incident scar him for life? Yes.
  Where is the common sense?  Why is it that a little boy can't smooch a little girls hand?  She did not object - they like each other.
  Meanwhile in Pennsylvania a ten year old boy has been suspended for "pretending to shoot an imaginary bow and arrow". PRETENDING!
  Where is the common sense?

  I can't make this stuff up!

Seasonal Photo:
Mr. and Mrs. Santa arrive by Lobster Boat in Kennebunk, Maine - click to enlarge
Photo: Derek Davis, Portland Press Herald

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Afghan War. Is it over?

  Longer than the U S Civil War and World War Two combined, and throw in the Aroostook War and those did not last as long as the Afghanistan War.  Talks have been on-going with the United States and Afghanistan to provide "trainers" for the Afghan Army for another ten years.
  Afghanistan does not want the American troops, has not wanted the American troops but still we persist.  Osama Bin Laden is dead and he was the "reason" the United States went to Afghanistan in the first place.  Or so we have been told.
  Last night (December 9, 2013) the Congress of the United States got off its' collective ass and passed the Defense Authorization Bill, funding the Department of Defense for 2014.  Congress has yet to pass a budget for the "rest of us".  We have been duly warned by the late President and Five Star General Eisenhower that we need to be watchful of the Military Industrial Complex.  We have not yet learned this lesson.
  End the good war now.

Seasonal photo:

Mittens knitted by Anna Furrow for local children.
Photo: Abigale Curtis Bangor Daily News

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, USN

Commodore Hopper in 1984
Photo: U. S. Navy via www.wikipedia.org
  Grace Hopper served in the U S Navy from 1943 until 1996, with two brief (less than a year) breaks.  She was born in 1906 (today, her birthday, she would have been 107), educated at Vassar in Mathematics and Physics, she worked in the labs at Harvard University.
  She joined the WAVES of the U S Naval Reserve in 1943 with an exemption for her weight, she weighed 15 pounds less than the 120 pound minimum, she served in the Bureau of Ships, where the Navy Computer Labs were in infancy.
  She wrote the first computer language that was close to English and is know today as COBOL.  She is the person who coined the term "debugging" after she removed a moth from a computer to solve a problem.
  She is one of the very few women with a Navy ship named for them, the USS Hopper DDG-70 was commissioned in 1996 and is know as "Amazing Grace"!
  If you look at the website Google you will find an animation of Admiral Hopper, one of my personal heroes, at work.

Seasonal photo:
Ryan McDermott at Gooches Beach, Kennebunk, Maine last week
Photo: Portland Press Herald

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Win or lose, it's the money stupid

  During the playoff and bowl season for college football money flies around like a flock of crows (more correctly called a murder of crows).  Big schools like Florida State, Washington, Ohio State those with a storied history in football may receive from the NCAA upwards of 15 million dollars.
  Maine won the Championship of the Colonial Conference during the regular season, but still there is or was a playoff - to participate in a bowl game.  Maine lost. Twice.  New Hampshire beat Maine yesterday and will continue on towards a bowl game.
  Maine being the champion hosted the game.  The NCAA chipped in how much?  Oh, no! Maine had to PAY the NCAA for the privilege to the tune of $30,000.00! 
  You get the picture "small schools pay" "big schools collect"  There is something wrong with this picture.  It's especially wrong because the NCAA is all about FAIRNESS.  Oh well, who really gives a rats ass?

Seasonal photo:
Parks workers trim the "Candelabra Tree" in Deering Oaks Park, Portland, Maine" - click to enlarge
Photo: Portland Press Herald