Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The View From Kestrel

IMG00070-crop A few weeks ago I met a colleague of mine for lunch (weiners, fries, and coffee milk at Rod’s in Warren, RI).  While we do talk shop, our conversations often turn to John’s love of sailing.  Adventures on Narragansett Bay, anchoring in Newport for the Folk or Jazz Festivals, night sailing, slipping through “the gut”.  His stories are always fascinating.  As a Navy man I always take an interest in sea stories.

As we left Rod’s that day John asked if I’d like to sail one evening after work.  “Sure.  Love to”.  We settled on a date and that date came yesterday. 

Fall has started to settle here in New England.  There is a little nip in the air.  We’ve been fortunate to have a couple of glorious days lately, and luckily for me, yesterday was one of them. 

I slipped out of work, fought the downtown Providence traffic, and made my way to East Providence.  Kestrel is moored in Bullock’s Cove in Narragansett Bay.  As I arrived John was rowing the dingy back to Kestrel to retrieve his cell phone in case I was calling.  Seeing me he turned around and headed to shore.  Safely on the dingy we made our way to Kestrel. 

I don’t know too much about sailboats, but I do know that Kestrel is 34 feet in length, has a nice wide beam (plenty of room to walk along side the cabin, has a full cabin (head, dining table, cooktop, room for my 6’5” frame to stand upright and not hit my head, and sleeps six).  It even has a hot and cold outdoor shower.  Really a  nice boat.

After securing my valuables in the “dry bag” John readied her for sail.  We motored out (Kestrel has a nice diesel engine) to the center of the channel so we could hoist the sails.  John gave me instructions and the helm.  I held her pointed into the wind and John unfurled the sails.  With sails hoisted we turned about and headed down Narragansett Bay. 

I remained at the helm with John instructing me as to how to hold the tack.  Satisfied we were safely in the channel and having a nice breeze across our port stern, John cut the engines. 

And then there was -- Absolute silence. 

John uttered, “I just love it when I cut the engines.  It’s so peaceful.”  And, it was.  Not an hour after I left the hectic pace of work and the traffic congestion of the city, here I was sailing, with the only sound being that of the wind passing over the sails. 

IMG00068 00000

John broke out the cold beers and we continued down the Bay.  He shared stories of past adventures on the bay (including a rescue he and his son assisted with in the dark of night) and he educated me on the art of sailing.  It was fascinating.  “Ready about”  “Hard alee”.  Another successful tack.  A few more tacks and we were passing Conimicut Light

John has a tradition that as they pass Conimicut Light that they call to shore on the radio (and now with cell).  I’m happy to say I was aboard Kestrel when John made the first International Call from Kestrel as we passed Conimicut Light. 

Further down the Bay we sailed.  Patience, then Prudence Islands to our starboard.  Waving to fishermen and other sailors.  Watching the regatta as they rounded the mark.  The sun set and dusk was upon us.  One last tack and we came about.  Time to head home.  Darkness surrounded us by now, but the skyline of Providence was just one of many beacons.  We made our way north, Colt State Park in the distance now to our starboard.  Up past Rumstick Point, Rhode Island Country Club, Nayett Point.  Another pass by Conimicut Light.  Gaspee Pt to our port.  Bullock Point to our starboard. 

Just past our return past Conimicut Light we lost the wind.  We motored the rest of the way back.  No worries.  The awesome sights of the city, the shoreline, boats drawing us into their searchlights, drowned out any rumble from the diesel.  

After a safe, and somewhat easy approach to the mooring we secured Kestrel to her mooring.  We secured her and sat down to enjoy a snack and a last beer.  Although we were only 100 yards or less from the shore there was dead silence.  With the wind dying down, the Bay was also silent and still.  John told me that when he and his wife often return from an evening sail they secure to the mooring and then have the discussion, “stay aboard for the night?”  I can see how tempting that must be. 


After the short row back to shore it was back to the real world.  I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure.  Thanks John.  The view from Kestrel is like no other.  I am so grateful to have experienced it, and so jealous, as well. 

Monday, August 17, 2009

Boater’s Beach – Time with Good Friends

Sally and I were fortunate to be invited to a party at “Boater’s Beach” in Westport, MA. Our hosts, Tanya and Bruce, really know how to throw a good beach party. CIMG1194

We started at a small dock in Westport where Tanya and Bruce awaited. Their Boston Whaler loaded and waiting. After meeting Al and Kelly, and their daughter Ava, we were off to the beach. Our chauffeur navigated the harbor and after a short ride delivered us to our destination. The beach was full of boats and beachgoers, but none could match the setup our hosts had prepared for us. Well stocked coolers, table, blankets, grill, and food.

We had a terrific afternoon and evening drinking (responsibly, of course), eating, frolicking in the water of the Westport River. But as sundown approached it was time to pack up (gotta cool the grill, however (see Bruce’s method below) and head home. CIMG1198Of course, our hosts had other ideas and convinced all concerned to join them at their wonderful home for some post beach libations and food.

We loaded up the boat, ladies in the bow, mCIMG1209en to the stern, and I snapped this wonderful shot.

(I’m sure some are wondering where’s Una? She decided an afternoon with Nana and Gramps sounded more interesting. I’m certain it had nothing to do with the “brownies bribe” Nana offered.)

The evening turned to night, and our hosts just kept on delivering. A little wine, some espresso martini’s, and yummy dinner. The midnight hour struck and the finishing touches were put on a simply wonderful day. Tanya and Bruce, you guys rock. Kelly and Al it was such a pleasure to meet you (and Ava, too). We look forward to getting together again soon.

Thanks again…John and Sally

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Announcing The Pawtucket Wiki

As I’ve mentioned previously here on this blog I’ve tried to become more involved in my community.  One thing the City of Pawtucket lacks is a user-friendly website for residents and visitors to find pertinent information.  With this in mind I have assisted a fellow Pawtucket blogger (The Bucket Blog) in the creation of Pawtucket NOW.  It was designed to be a site where the actual community that is Pawtucket would contribute to.  While a handful of “bucketeers” joined us, it never really took off.   The concept was based on the wikispot for Davis, CA.  Unfortunately, the MediaWiki format of the current Pawtucket NOW did not seem to work for such a collaborative effort.

logo I have therefore created a new Pawtucket Wiki using the simpler wikispot software.  Pawtucket Wiki is “A community edited website”.  It’s not mine.  I don’t maintain it.  I merely planted the seed.  It’s up to the Pawtucket community to grow it.  There will be an event calendar of anything happening in and around Pawtucket.  Pages on local establishments, including restaurants.  City history, geography, demographics, political arena, etc.  Anything and everything that pertains to Pawtucket. 

Lots of pages are blank at this point, but the structure to get this started is there.  If you’re reading this blog and are a fellow “bucketeer” please stop by at the new Pawtucket Wiki.  Even if you don’t live in Pawtucket, but have something to contribute (restaurant review, perhaps?) stop on by and take a look…and, don’t forget to contribute something. 

The link for the wiki is:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Just for the halibut...

I first made this recipe for our housewarming party back in 2003. It was a huge hit then, but I hadn't thought of doing it again until I saw some halibut on sale last week and decided to give it another go. This is an absolutely fabulous summer recipe, quick to prepare, healthy and really, really good!

The marinade is based on a Cooking Light recipe from years back, tweaked just a bit.

Grilled Jalapeno-Lime Halibut (serves 3-4)

2 fresh halibut steaks, 1 to 1.5 inches thick (approx. 1.5 lbs), cut into 1" chunks (I leave the skin on)
For marinade:
1/2 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate (frozen OJ will also work)
1 tsp grated lime rind
1/4-1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

Red or green bell peppers, sliced into 1" chunks (optional)

Stir all marinade ingredients together in large non-reactive bowl until well mixed. Add fish, stirring to coat well. marinate 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Thread onto skewers (through the skin to help hold the pieces together, alternating with peppers if desired), and cook on well-oiled grill until fish flakes easily.

I served this with spanish rice, spiked with chopped tomatoes and a bit of lime juice... wonderful!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Swinging and Sliding

As you can see from Una's excited little face, she enjoys swinging.  This is actually the first time she's swung on a "big girl" swing.  

Sally and I went to Home Depot on Saturday to get some materials for creating a raised bed in our backyard.  While looking around, assessing how much it would cost, Sally wandered over to the do-it-yourself swing set area.  After a bit of review she said, "I'd really rather spend the money on something Una would enjoy."  


Load up the kit, add a slide, and off to get the required 4x4s.  Load up the car, and...well, we have a new project.  

There was no time to start it on Saturday as we were off to Nana  and Gramps for a little grilling, but when we got home on Sunday it was time to get to work.  The "one hour" project turned into about four, when I finally gave up the ghost.  We finished up the set after work on Monday and Una officially broke in both the slide and the swings.  

Here are a couple of more pics. I'll add some video soon.
[Edit:  Click on the pics to really see how happy she is (and beautiful, too.)]

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Here Comes Summer

We recently had a wonderful taste of summer.  It was fun to throw on the summer clothes and hang out in Westport.  Here's a little slideshow of some of our favorite pictures from the few nice days we had.  Can't wait for the real summer to get here.

Enjoy...John, Sally and Una

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pawtucket River (I-95) Bridge -- My Six Seconds of Fame

I attended the presentation last evening of the unveiling of the to-be-built Pawtucket River Bridge (Bridge 550).  More on that in a bit.  I  was interviewed by Channel 12 as I exited.  My two minutes of interview was culled down to about six seconds.  Here's the piece as it was reported.

I personally like the bridge design, but was somewhat baffled that it was presented without the current Division St. Bridge overlaid onto the slides. Aesthetically, it looked great in the presentation, but I think it will look completely different when viewed from the South with the Division St. Bridge blocking all the design that was showed off.  

The design presented last evening highlighted the bridge itself (that, of course, should be the focus), but also the Pleasant and Taft Sts. side and resultant changes.  Nothing was shown about the School St. side other than there would be some public access which hopefully will allow for a walkway from Main St. to the State Landing.  

It was pointed out that the design is not yet completed so I'm sure at some future point we'll see more of how the access at George St. and School St. will appear.

I'm glad I went.  A thumbs up from me so far.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

22nd Annual Sheepshearing Festival

Una and I had the good fortune of visiting the 22nd Annual Sheepshearing Festival at Gore Place in Waltham, MA.

Sally was busy with a baby shower and a DAR luncheon.

When Una and I arrived we immediately noticed the tents and period attired women and men.  She was interested, recognizing the yarn similar to what I used.  We sat and talk with the women and they were gracious enough to let Una help in the balling of the skein of yarn.  The picture above is Una holding the skein for the woman on the left to ball.

The festival was packed since it was our first really nice day (80+).  We watched hand shearing of Merino sheep, as well as electric clipper shearing.  Una got to pet an Angora rabbit, as well as a cute brown Alpaca.

Here's a picture of Una peeking in on a couple of young sheep.  There is a lamb in the pen just out of the picture.  The mother was a new one.
All in all we had a great day.  We were sorry Sally couldn't join us, but we'll all hit the RI Third Annual Fiber Festival at Coggeshall Farm in Bristol on May 16.  Should be fun.
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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fools – A Little Early

Over at a blog I follow called One More Thing, Kate is doing something called “the madhouse”.  Basically, a set of topics is laid out for other bloggers to post about.   Anyone can follow along and see what other’s think when presented with a specific topic.  “the madhouse” happens every Wednesday.  This week’s topic is Fools.

What’s more “Fool”ish than an Internet Worm set to go off on, of course, April Fool’s Day.  Yep, today is April 1st (well, it’s really  March 31st, but I wanted to give you a bit of fair warning to perhaps protect yourself) and in the tech world all hell is suppose to break loose due to the Conflicter Worm.  No one is certain exactly what the worm that is set to go off on April Fool’s Day will do.  It could simply pop up and say, “FOOL”.  Or, it could wipe your hard drive.  Or, perhaps steal your online banking password.  Whatever, it’s worth it to ensure you’re protected.  I’ve listed some defenses at the end of this blog entry.

When I saw this week’s topic I immediately tried to recall my best April Fool’s memory.  Unfortunately, I really don’t have any fantastic prank that I pulled on someone or someone pulled on me.  All I could recall was some radio DJs losing their jobs over some stupid prank they pulled. 

Next thing that entered my mind was who do I know that’s a fool?  No one popped to mind that I would openly embarrass here on this blog.  (Although I will say that recent discussions about straight men knitting made me pause.)

So, that left me to the “fools” who create computer viruses designed to show off their computer skills.  It’s much like a graffiti “artist” defiling other’s property to show off their artistic skills.  It’s not every year that the tech world has to be worried about this kind of “fool”, but it’s become rather common.  So, my life today is all about ensuring the computers at my employer’s place of business are protected.  It really is a waste of time for me and my staff.  It really is quite “foolish” that I , or anyone for that matter, have to go through this.

Now, if you’re unsure of your own computer’s vulnerability, the best place I can find is  Run the Protection Scan.  Also, if you haven’t already, run an update on your AntiVirus program.  Having the latest virus definitions really can’t hurt.

Oh, and if you happen to know the person who started this “foolish” worm, drop Microsoft a line.  They are offering $250,000 for assistance with an arrest and conviction.  Click here for more info. 

Friday, March 27, 2009

Summer (Carnival Wednesday)

Over at a blog I follow called One More Thing, Kate is doing something called Carnival.  Basically, a set of topics is laid out for other bloggers to post about.   Anyone can follow along and see what other’s think when presented with a specific topic.  They call it Carnival Wednesday.  This week’s topic is Summer.

Here’s my shot.  It’s short, late, and somewhat thrown together so not very thought out.   (if you’re interested in other’s follow the link to Kate’s blog as she’s got a link to the others there.)

Personally, I like all the seasons.  I don’t think I really have a favorite.  Fall I enjoy the change of colors (being raised in the San Francisco Bay Area I never witnessed a true sense of seasons and Fall was just Indian Summer).  Winter I enjoy the cold and the snow (again I didn’t enjoy much of that growing up).  Spring lets’ me enjoy the new growth although I find myself getting impatient with Spring (buds just pop too slowly). 

Summer, in a nutshell, to me is vacation.  

I have fond recollections of Summer as a youth.  I always anxiously awaited that wonderful day in June – the last day of school.  The last day of school was often followed by a trip to the barber for a Summer crewcut.  I don’t think it was my idea, but my parents might disagree. 

Summer also meant my family’s annual trip to Los Angeles.  We’d either travel by car on US 101 or CA 1 (stopping to visit the Missions) or by train.  We’d visit Disneyland, Hollywood, and Olvera Street.  (I think I still have my velvet Peanuts painting that I spent my hard earned allowance on on Olvera Street.)  Every year was a great memory. 

During my youth I also fondly recall my Summer visit to my relatives in Santa Clara whom I would spend a couple of weeks.  My cousin Ginny and I were the same age and we’d do everything together.  Wander through the local orchards, climb the apricot and walnut trees.  Build treehouses.  Those were later followed with my joining them on their vacations (they were campers, my family was not.)  We’d sometimes camp and my folks would meet up with us, but they’d stay in the lodge.  The closest we came to camping as a family was Camp Mather near Yosemite.  Ah, Camp Mather, now there’s some fond Summer memories.  Camp Mather was really a bunch of cabins and a dining hall with cool outdoorsy stuff.  Swimming in the pond, catching tadpoles, pulling bark off the Ponderosa Pines in neat puzzle shapes, walks at night in pitch black trying to follow a double yellow line you could not see, up to the store which had a real working soda fountain.  Oh, and there were girls there, too.  I guess you could say Summer was crushes.

As I started my own family, Summer recollections move to what my girls were interested in.  Jenn loved Girl Scout Camp (Ashley did it a couple of times, but never really took to it.)  Ashley had cheerleader daily starting August 1st.  A trip across country as we moved from DC to the Philippines was another highlight.  Arizona is HOT in the Summer.  Memories of Summer life in the Philippines reminds me of monsoon and Leta making the girls Summer clothes.  Walking or golfing in the rain in shorts and flip flops.  The only drawback to the Summer monsoon season was being hot and wet and then entering an A/C building. 

Today Summers make me thing of the beach in Westport with Una watching crabs, running from the waves, and of course, sand in her food.  Una and Sally both love the beach.  I do, too.  I look forward to this year as Una is obviously a lot more mobile.  Should be fun watching Sally and Nana chase after her.  :-)  The other Summer highlight is “Paradise Found”, our vacationing at the “T'” house in Westport.  We had a terrific time last year and are booked again for this year.   We’re anxiously awaiting the end of June. 

Summer really is a wonderful season.  Each season has its pluses, but to me, Summer has vacation memories.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Scarf for Sally

DSC_6458 Having been inspired to knit by some friends wonderfully knitted clothes, I took the knitting kit I had purchased for Sally about three years ago and taught myself some basics (thanks to online videos from Knitting Help.)  This picture to the left is my second effort.  The first was a small scarf knitted for Una.  

Here’s a pic of that:


I’ve found a nice group of friends who knit and I look forward to taking on more difficult projects.  Perhaps I’ll get good enough to make some handmade Christmas gifts.  We’ll see. 

I’ve joined the Slater’s Mill Community Knit & Crochet Guild to meet some fellow knitters, and also support the Mill’s textile roots.  It seems like a perfect fit.  For the knitters out there who follow this blog, I’m on Ravelry as RIlurky.  Drop me a line there or follow along on my latest project. 

I'm enjoying this new hobby.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Taking Chance

Sally and I watched a movie last weekend and I’ve been meaning to blog about it ever since.  It’s HBO’s Taking Chance.

What a terrific movie.  The storyline focuses on the long trip home for a Lance Cpl killed in action in Iraq.  Kevin Bacon plays a Lt. Col. who volunteers to act as escort.  It’s wonderfully acted, but what I enjoyed the most, was the respect shown for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.  At every step of the journey home respect is shown, both by those in uniform and those not. 

Even if you don’t watch a lot of movies, this is one to see.  You’ll be proud of your fellow Americans.  I know I was.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Community Involvement -- A First Step

Being inspired by this post on The Bucket Blog, I attended my first Pawtucket City Council meeting last evening.  It’s my 2nd attempt at getting involved with my local community (the first was our family joining the Slater Mill.)

I never was much into civics during my school days so I didn’t really know what to expect.  I’ve seen town meetings on local access television (but not Pawtucket’s), but really had no clue as to the process.  I sat through the entire meeting, sometimes confused, almost wanting to raise my hand for a clarification.  When the Council President note a motion and a second, and then says “discussion"?”  Is he talking about Council discussion or discussion form citizens?  No one else in the audience said a single word, so I just sat and took my notes.  I will be more prepared next time.

Speaking of prepared, I attempted to get a listing of what was to be discussed at the council meeting.  I went to the City of Pawtucket website thinking I’d find information there.  Being in the technology field I think I can safely say that the City of Pawtucket website is not the most user friendly.   Decent homepage, but so many links take you to a page with a ton of white space.  There’s a nice link on the left to the City Council page.  “Ah, that’s where I’ll find what I need”, I thought.  Clicking to that page merely gives me the names, addresses, phones, and email (except Councilman Barry’s).  Along the right column are links to various PDFs for upcoming meetings.  There also is a spot entitle Related Links (more on that later).  Since I was interested in an Upcoming Meeting I found the March 11th City Council link and magically I had  the agenda.  The only problem was, the agenda was greek to me.  The agenda starts with “Previous Minutes 02/25/09” and then proceeds to 1.  Consent Agenda, 2. Correspondence (A-N), 3. Petition, blah, blah, blah, etc.  Now is that the agenda for the 3/11/09 meeting or the review of the minutes from 02/25/09?  (I learned it’s the former, btw.  The phrase “Previous Minutes 02/25/09” simply means the Council will acknowledge and accept the previous meeting minutes.) 

I’ve recapped the meeting below for those interested.  After the meeting adjourned I approached the City Clerk to ask where one finds the various resolutions discussed, the correspondence, etc.  He directed me to the website and said it was all linked there and that if I had a problem I could call the City Clerk’s office.  When I got home I decided to look further on the website as I didn’t find anything other than the agenda when I had looked previously.  Knowing there should be more on the website I looked a bit closer and found a “related link” on the City Council page entitled “Search City Council Docket, Minutes, Resolutions & Ordinances (Includes Ordinances not yet codified)”   That link brought me to very nice site called ClerkBase.  The City must contract this service out (it appears to be a RI company -- bravo).  Using ClerkBase I was able to find the docket for the meeting with links to the communications, resolutions, etc.  They were all in tiff format and the ClerkBase homepage had a download for a free tiff viewer if needed.  The ClerkBase has tons of info, including minutes, ordinances, and resolutions dating back to the 1980s.  Very nice.  I just wish I had discovered it before attending the meeting.  With this knowledge in hand, I’ll be much better prepared for the next meeting.

A couple of other general notes before I dive into the meeting recap.  The Council Chamber was very nice (although I struggled to find it.  Thankfully the lobby does have a directory and I could figure out that Room 300-something would be on the third floor.  A sign below the front and center “Welcome” signage from Mayor Doyle saying something like, “Council Chambers – 3rd Floor” would be nice.)  BTW: It’s easy to see why our City Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Council members were all very professional.  I was surprised to see the television camera as I’d never found the Council Meeting on local access TV (although I must admit I’ve not really looked).  I was disappointed by the number of everyday city residents like myself in attendance.  There were at most 20 and many of them were there only to hear their license renewal request be addressed.  There were probably five firefighters in attendance, but they left after their issues were taken up.  I’d say there were probably five people in attendance who like myself, were just interested in what was going on in our local government. 

In all I consider the evening a good experience.  I still have questions, but I’m sure I’ll get them addressed.  I know I will participate again in future City Council meetings. 

Recap of the meeting for those interested:

The Council deviated a bit from the outlined agenda to take up the appointment of a young man to the Juvenile Hearing Board.  His family was in the audience and the Council President wanted to confirm his appointment first.  Philips J. Shea, III, who had been nominated for a position on the board by Mayor Doyle was briefly interviewed and approved for the board position.  Mr. Shea is a 22 year old man who had a very nice resume working with Pawtucket youth.  I applaud his volunteerism.

After the previous minutes were approved the Council moved on to the Consent Agenda.  My notes show only, “Where is Agenda?”  It was that confusing to me having only previously seen the agenda outline. 

Next in my notes was a proposal by Councilman Vitali for an Ad Hoc Committee For Economic Development.  It seems the previous evening there had been a meeting at the Comfort Inn (possibly convened by Mayor Doyle) with local business people.  Council President Kinch reminded everyone that there already was such a committee setup nearly four years ago, which technically had never been disbanded.  After much discussion it was decided to try and resurrect the committee, ask the old committee members if they’d still like to serve, and potentially solicit new volunteers.  It was almost the most interesting discussion I witnessed.  (I say almost because the discussion later about tax anticipation notes was tops for the night.)  It was the only “new” item I witnessed all evening.  I came away thinking so much must go on outside of the general Council meeting.  The “work” must get done in committees.  (To be fair there were committee meetings before the general meeting which I could not attend.  I assume they, too, are open to the public.  Next time I’ll try and attend those as well.)

Next was Correspondence.  It must have been accepted/approved en mass as I have nothing in my notes, yet there are 14 correspondence items listed in the agenda.  Where are all these correspondence items?  Nothing was read that I recall.  So, for a layman in the audience, it was just bewildering. [Note:  I found those correspondence items on ClerkBase when I got home.]

The next item on the agenda was just bizarre to me.  It was a petition by the Pawtucket Red Sox Baseball Club, Inc (such an official sounding name).  Anyway, old blue laws must still exist as the petition was for the playing of baseball at McCoy on Sundays.  I found this odd in this politically correct 21st century.

After a few councilmember appointments to various committees were taken up, the most interesting discussion of the evening took place.  It was about a request for a $3 million “tax anticipation note”.  It seems Pawtucket is pretty much broke.  They have a $5 million bond due April 30th.  I’m not clear what this bond was for, but I believe it has to do with school financing.  They also have payroll to meet.  With income tax collection being delinquent the city may not be able to make it’s bond payment (not a good thing – the term “junk bond status” was tossed out.)  So, a lively discussion was had between council members and I believe the City Finance Manager.  The council members knew they had no choice but to approve the measure, but they wanted their reservations on the record (at least that’s what I took from the discussion).  So, the City of Pawtucket is basically going to issue a short-term bond in the amount of $3 million.  It will become due on June 30th and cost the City approximately $150,000.00 in interest for the use of the $3 million for three months.  It’s expected that the City can pay off the bond when due on June 30th with the next tax collection cycle revenue.  I’ve heard of tax anticipation bonds in the past, and I imagine it’s somewhat common for states or municipalities to use this bridge.  From what I gathered, what is concerning is that Pawtucket set in place a method that the city would not be impacted by the quarterly payment of taxes.  This should not have happened.  More disturbing is that the city has depleted the reserves (our savings account).  What will happen next time the bond comes due.  I have in my notes that the bond payment started at $2.8 million and is now at $5.1 million.  It was my understanding that this was for schools and perhaps is tied to increases in those budgets.  I did pickup on a bit of disdain from some council members for the School Committee.  When you start referring to “those people on Main St”, things can’t be good.  [Note: it took me awhile to get the reference to “Main St”.  I’m not sure everyone would.]

The Council when they approved the tax anticipation bill made note that the money was to be spent in this order:  Bond payment, municipal payroll, and lastly school payroll.  In particular, Councilman Moran was deeply disturbed that the teacher’s union would not negotiate to help the city in these tough fiscal times.  It seems they have a 3.5% raise approved and they do not want to come back to the table and risk that. 

Various resolutions, licenses, and claims were taken up next.  Again, without the benefit of having seen the resolutions it was somewhat hard to follow along.  An interesting point came up about the claims, however.  It seems that there have been a sudden influx of claims caused by the fire department.  While the claims committee often sees claims for damages caused by fire department vehicles, they usually are mixed in with pothole damages, etc.  It was requested that the Fire Chief be asked to attend the next claims committee meeting to discuss ways to curtail these claims resulting from fire department personnel.  The concern and request were done with a very professional tone.

The meeting adjourned in the memory of Eleanor Coughlin.  A long time resident (I think she was 92) of Pawtucket who passed away recently. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Baby Powder and Ocean State Job Lot

What in the world does Ocean State Job Lot have to do with Baby Powder you ask?

First off, thanks for asking.  The story goes like this:  

Put Miss Una down at her usual time of about 8pm.  Simple enough.  Change her diaper, cave on the request for "powder", and then place the "powder" on her changing table.  Read to her, sing to her, turn on the lullaby CD, and remind her to stay in her bed (she recently graduated to a "big girl" bed).  Head downstairs for some mindless TV (oh and the sound of the lullabies through the monitor).  20 minutes later and the monitor is quiet as the CD has ended.  Not a peep.  She's asleep.  

Not so fast.  

10pm rolls around and Sally heads upstairs while I do my usual of turning lights off,  set the coffee maker up, etc.  I usually hear Sally checking on Una, but things are different tonight.  Suddenly, Sally calls out, "Daddy, can you come up here?"  I would normally be concerned, but  the use of "Daddy" instead of John makes me think things are not too urgent.  I nevertheless quickly head upstairs.  Sally stops me outside of Una's room and says, "Smell anything?"  [sniff sniff]  Ah...The sweet fragrant smell guess powder.  

There in the middle of her room in the center of her carpet is a 1 foot in diameter pile of baby powder with the bottle laying along side the circle.  My first thought was she broke the top and it all spilled out.  NOPE.  She shook the entire contents out.  (Note:  Baby powder being shaken form its bottle does not make any noise!!!)

Sally and I controlled our desire to bust out laughing and proceeded to tell Una that what she did was very naughty.   She looked at us in amazement.  Sally retrieved the vacuum cleaner to clean things up and while she did I talked with Miss Una.  "Why did you do that?" "I know" (Una has a tendency to drop the "don't" when stalling).  "Well, now we don't have any for your bum.  What are we going to do?" I lost it when the response was:

"We can get some more from Job Lot"

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pawtucket St. Patrick's Day Parade

There is nothing better than a nice springlike day and a parade. Here are a few pics.  

Enjoy...John and Sally

Friday, March 6, 2009

The power of the Search Engine

I have been lax in updating and checking this blog lately.  Things have been busy and life has just gotten in the way. 

I checked on things last night and I discovered a comment to my blog about Playing With the Enemy by Gary Ward.  The comment was actually from Gary Ward himself and left two weeks ago (thank you, btw, for the comment).  I point this out mostly as an example as to the power of the internet search engine.  I imagine Gary found my blog through a Google Alert or something of the sort.  It’s a great way to stay on top of things that interest you. 

If you haven’t already subscribed to an Alert I encourage you to try it.  Sally and I have a Google Alert about anything Pawtucket.  It’s helped us keep in touch with all things Pawtucket.  A couple of other examples would be an alert to your alma mater to see what's going on at the old school, or an alert for your business (or employer) to see what people are saying about your business.

The search engines are powerful,  and the alerts are a way to leverage them.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Missing the Reunion :-(

My grammar school class is holding a reunion this weekend.  40 years.  Wow!!!  I’m bummed I couldn’t attend, but the timing just did not work out for me.

Wayne has promised to blog starting tonight.  I look forward to his notes.  I hope there are lots of pics.

Have fun Class of ‘69.  You’re missed and being thought of.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Annual Trip to Maine

We've recently returned from our annual Winter vacation to the Prospect Harbor Point Light.  We're lucky in that as a military retiree I qualify to stay at the lighthouse.  It is a wonderful treat for us.  This is our fourth consecutive Winter vacationing here.  It's Una's third, unless you make it four as she was conceived there.  

We spent a relaxing, as relaxing as possible with a two year old, five days at the lighthouse.  We had quite a variety of weather.  We arrived to frigid temps, temps rose to the 40s, then back to single digits the morning we left.  The weather gave me an opportunity to try out many different photo settings for various shots.  I've taken a couple of photography classes and am trying a few things out.  The slide show includes some of my favorites.  

We cooked (well, mostly Sally cooked, but I did make a good pancake breakfast one morning), we read, we hit The Big Chicken Barn (used books and antiques) where Sally found a wonderful commemorative plate of the Prospect Harbor Light, and I even managed to knit Una a scarf.  Yep, I've been trying to get Sally to knit for a few years and she's never found the time, so...I decided what the heck.  It was fun and I plan to do more.

Prospect Harbor is a quaint little Maine fishing village located on the Schoodic Peninsula.  If you ever get a chance to travel Downeast Maine, take US 1.  It's a wonderful and beautiful drive.  When we return we always take this route.  It's slower, but much more enjoyable.  Plus, it gives us the added benefit of hitting Freeport and L.L. Beans.

It was a great trip and we are already looking forward to next year.  Who knows, maybe we'll even try it in the Summer.

Playing with the Enemy by Gary Ward

My sister gave me this book for my birthday last July.  She thought I would enjoy it as it had a baseball theme, and was about a son and his father.  How right she was.  I finally found the time to read it.  What a joy it was.  What a thoughtful gift from my sister. 

Reading the opening chapter while on the plane from Denver, on more than one occasion I had to stop to dab the tears from my eyes.  The thoughts that passed through my mind were overwhelming.  I immediately wanted to write the author to thank him for inspiring me.  As I finished the book this evening, once again I was dabbing at the tears.  The author’s Afterword made me realize the thoughts I had at the beginning of the book were often felt by his readers. 

The story is told by a son about a portion his father’s life.  A portion he knew little about.  The son always wondered about this hidden portion of his father's life.  His father's brush with death forced him to address his questions he'd kept bottled up for so long.  As my own father just recently turned 81, I find myself with my own set of questions.  I have this sudden burning desire to visit my Dad and sit down to dinner to learn all I can.  Or perhaps vacation with him; see the Indy 500 he’s always wanted to see.  Watch another ballgame, something we always enjoyed doing together. 

It’s tough living 3000 miles away from people you love.  

Note:  I drafted this a few weeks ago, got busy and never finished it.  I'm hitting Publish today as it's a great book.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Meteorological Math: 3 + 4 = 12

Thanks once again for our fine local meteorological experts for their spot on snow forecast guestimate.  Yesterday was quite an interesting winter “event” as someone on Channel 10 put it.  I guess it couldn’t be a winter “storm” since there were at least two breaks in the storm and something about two different low pressure systems, but to me it was a winter storm.

I went to sleep Saturday evening being told “a dusting” by 6am, with 1-3 inches after that, to be done around 10ish.   Woke up Sunday morning to 4+ inches.  Cleared the sidewalk and the driveway around noon before Sally’s folks arrived for Sunday dinner.  I did not clear the front steps knowing there was no mail delivery on Sunday or today (MLK Holiday).  (Our mailman will NOT deliver mail if there is snow on the steps.)  After Sally and I pulled the ornaments, lights, and garland from the Christmas tree…now quit looking so shocked.  We were out of town for a week.  Besides, my rule has always been it has to come down before MLK day.  Mission accomplished.  Anyway, we dragged the tree down the front steps compressing the 6 inches or so of snow. 

Shortly after our dinner guests left Sally looked out the window and what’s going on?  It’s snowing again.  The local Pinpoint Doppler Viper or whatever this week’s latest meteorological Ouija board technology is, says another 2-4 inches to be done by the morning commute (7am in their words).  Well, they got the done by 7am part right.  The 2-4 turned into another 6 at least.  My front steps with the 6 inches compacted to about 4, had 12 inches on them this morning.  Thus 3 + 4 = 12  (If you need an explanation, that would be dusting = zero, 1-3 Sunday morning, and 2-4 Sunday evening.  Taking the higher guestimate from each I get the 3 + 4.  The 12 is from the measurement on the front steps.   Yes, I could add the 2 inches compacted, but I’ll give that as a handicap for working in small market Providence. 

Spot on I’d say???

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Home Brew Date Night

We had a very nice evening Saturday night with our friends Tom and Michele.  It was good to see them both as we missed Michele at Big Chill IV.  After brewing we had a nice dinner (casual) which is just what we like.  Una was her usual cute self.  I think Michele will forever be known to us as "the black girl" as when she left the room Una muttered, "where's the black girl?"  Tom and I were puzzled, but Michele knew exactly what she was referring to as she looked at her black sweater.  :-)   It was a fun evening and we look forward to doing it again soon.

Update:  The Saturday mentioned above was actually Jan 3rd.  I was delinquent in finishing this post.

The brew was a California "Steam" beer.  Much like Anchor Steam, I'm hoping.  

The brew is now ready for racking to the secondary carboy which I hope to accomplish this weekend.  Bottling should take place next week.  
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