Blog Chowder Archives
December 2012

Waste water

Learn about Whales & Seabirds on Jan. 5, 2013

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Humpback Whales & Marine Birds
Presentation by Peter Trull, Naturalist, Science Teacher (Lighthouse Charter School)

Whales & Seabirds Talk on Jan. 5th (photo by Peter Trull)

Saturday, January 5th, 2:00 pm
Hosted by Harwich Conservation Trust
at the Harwich Community Center (#100 Oak Street)

Learn about the behaviors and adaptations of birds, most notably the gulls, shearwaters and petrels, found in our coastal waters as they coexist with humpback whales. A diversity of marine birds and marine mammal species will be shown and described in close-up images.   See HCT's website, www.HarwichConservationTrust.org, for more winter talks.

Suggested donation: $2. 

Hmmmm

Well, after all the hype, talk about a group of "Drama Queens".

Washington delays doing what it should do, and then invents a "fiscal cliff". They scare the American people into buying into the fiction.

This is followed by cliff hanger after cliff hanger, making people wonder if they can pull the country away from the brink in time.

Congress solves the non-existent problem, anticipating the gratitude of the people they just "saved".

They arrive at the point they were  months ago, so nothing has changed, and they are ready to do it all again in two months.

The American people are supposed to be fooled into believing Congress actually did their job.

Now we just have to see what the next things is that they procrastinate on so they can almost solve a self invented problem at the midnight hour that satisfies no one, but makes it look like Congress has done its job.

Poor John Boehner, thinking he was playing his part well, played the tough guy, grimmacing when it was called for; smiling and looking cooperative when it was necessary to project that image; and then appearing angry when that tactic was supposed to put the president in a bad light while making his own party look like the reasonable ones. But all this to no avail as the same branch of his party that believed that the image of America that they had invented was actually the real one, and were shocked by the November 6 election results, convinced themselves they spoke for all Americans when in reality they were speaking only for themselves, and turned their backs on him.

Meanwhile, waiting in the wings for the wind to change, and playing best friend and supporter of Boehner, only to double cross him when the times were right and the situation beneficial, was Eric Cantor.

Oh, but wait.

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson had pledged millions of dollars to a group linked with Cantor.  Adelson had also pumped tens of millions of dollars into the presidential election, a bad investment crying for repayment.

Cantor also bet against the United States in order to increase the return on his investments. With one of the firms in his portfolio, if the U.S Treasury Bonds did poorly, he would benefit. This while he was Majority Leader in the House, and voted against those bills that would have helped with the US debt, profiting from that.

Basically, if the debt ceiling is not raised and the U.S. defaults on its debts, and Cantor opposes raising it, one of his investments, ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury ETF, stands to gain. This is not something new as the Wall Street Journal wrote about it back in 2010. And Cantor's opposition to raising the Debt Ceiling has been consistent since then. 

That's why it was important for him to oppose Poor John's Plan B.

His wife, meanwhile, is on the Boards of such financial firms as Goldman-Sachs of bailout fame, and on the Board of Dominos Pizza which is suing the Obama administration over the contraceptive provision in the Affordable Care Act, and stands to gain from that.

At best his opposition to raising the Debt Ceiling, and his opposition to "Obama Care" would appear to be major conflicts of interest.

But he is seen as a virtuous man by those who live in an invented reality.

In two months the debt ceiling discussions will begin again. John Boehner will be pushed and pulled by the Tea Party crowd. He will play and talk tough, putting on a great charade.

Eric Cantor, meanwhile, will appear virtuous and speaking loudly "for" the American people, while playing the debt ceiling debates to his financial benefit.

In the meantime, the Tea Party is still bent on having things as they want them, and may very well oppose Mr Boehner any way they can if he does not do what they want.

The GOP is divided, and some seem to ignore that little is accomplished when one side is fighting amongst itself.

Watch your back, Mr. Speaker.

National election in review

 

Happy New Year!

CapeCodToday.Com Sponsor:

Catching Giant Bluefin on a Budget

There was a slight chop developing on the ocean’s surface as I eased the Miss Loretta into a slow drift on Stellwagen Bank’s legendary southwest corner. A cool easterly wind made it difficult to distinguish tuna splashes or whale breaches from white caps, and it was difficult to gauge how much life, if any at all, was in the area.

But the crew was ready to fish despite the gray conditions and lack of visible activity. The previous day we had caught eight juvenile bluefish while fishing in Buzzards Bay, and we were eager to send one of the hapless critters flying under the kite. I could not help but feel bad for the little blues, who 12 hours ago were top predators, feeding on silversides in 70 degree bath water. Now, 40 miles removed from his warm and safe abode, we set our first bluefish under the kite off the port side.

The breath of easterly wind was becoming more of a consistent breeze, so I decided to get my mind off the deteriorating conditions by setting another bluefish off the starboard side of the boat. I wondered how much of a weather window we would have before the breeze would send us home.

15 minutes later something strange happened. A gaping hole opened underneath the kite bait and the small bluefish disappeared.

“What just happened!” yelled Todd, our newest crew member.

After a moment the bluefish popped back to the surface and began frantically swimming in circles. His little tail beat the water into a froth just yards off the side of the boat. We all watched and hoped that whatever had initially hit that little bluefish would return to finish the deal. None of us had ever seen a giant bluefin tuna smack a bait before, so we didn’t know what to expect. Our adrenaline was pumping and we were ready for our first tango with a giant.

A second later the ocean erupted in a white water explosion and the unfortunate bluefish was sucked into the gullet of a large bluefin. I looked to the sky and watched the 220 pound mono top shot release from the kite clip. The line fell in the breeze until it gently touched the ocean’s surface. A second later the line came tight and shot off to the west. The drag on the Penn 80 was screaming!

We scrambled around the boat, clearing lines and kicking over buckets, until we finally were able to secure the rod in the port side swivel rod holder. It was pure pandemonium on deck. After years of hoping, we finally had hooked a giant and it was difficult to remain calm. Todd accidentally snapped off the kite and we watched as it flew off in the breeze towards the Plymouth coast. Mazzola, my long time fishing buddy was concerned that the initial drag blistering run would spool us, so I started the engine. I laughed a bit observing the scene, turned the bow to the west, and began following the fish.

With only 100 yards of Dacron remaining on the spool the line went slack. The big bluefin had turned and was swimming directly back towards the boat.

“Crank, crank, crank!” I yelled to Mazzola. He hustled to regain the slackened line and was soon tight again with the fish.

The tuna was digging west as the crew and I settled in for the long haul. With it being our first chance at a true giant we were more focused on just getting the fish in and less concerned with the amount of time it would require. We were fired up, and hoped to send 700 pounds of Cape Cod sushi overseas.

Two and one half hours later we had the behemoth just yards beneath the boat’s hull. It was now or never as sea conditions were steadily deteriorating. The tuna swam in a powerful death circle, which made gaining each foot of line agonizingly difficult.

Finally she surfaced 15 feet off the port side.

“Throw the poon!” we yelled to Todd. Rearing back he launched a Hail Mary shot at the fish and missed by about five feet. Strike one!

“Stick him!” we yelled. On his second swing Todd sank the dart just behind the tuna’s massive head. He eased the fish in towards the port side while Mazzola manned the rod and I readied the gaff and rope. My hands were shaking as I sunk the gaff into the fish and secured the tail rope.

“We got him!” I said turning to the crew. “And guess what? The hook just popped out!”

Wow were we lucky, and boy did we make some big mistakes. But we had our first Cape Cod giant bluefin tuna and we were all thrilled. For the moment our 20 foot Hydra Sport was a tuna boat. The most exciting part was we had made it happen utilizing a lot of free advice, free research, and relatively inexpensive gear. The best part was that the trip had cost us $100-split three ways!

Bluefin Fishing without Going Bankrupt

It is possible to fish for bluefin tuna without breaking the bank. For the guys that I fish with, cutting costs without sacrificing safety is the only option. If we want to fish regularly, then we have to come up with creative ideas for saving money.

But like most things in life, bluefin fishing carries its own set of unavoidable fixed costs-no matter how innovative you may be. If you plan on fishing and selling giant tuna, then you will need to have a general category permit, survival suits, a life raft, and an EPIRB to meet Coast Guard requirements. I do not think it would be wise to be skimpy on these items. The good news is that one or two successful catches can take care of the initial safety investment.

Of course you will also need a seaworthy boat to fish from. The great news on this front is that you do not need a grandiose sport fishermen or rugged down-easter to have a legitimate chance at a tuna because some of the best Cape Cod fishing spots are relatively close to shore. Fortunately Stellwagen Bank is only 19 miles from Plymouth and just 8 miles from Provincetown. On many days the run can be made safely in the sized boat typically used for striped bass fishing. “Pick your days” is the name of the game when tuna fishing from a small boat. Keeping an eye on the weather is vitally important.

Cutting Rod and Reel Costs

With the safety requirements and boat taken care of we can now start discussing how to save money!

One of the most financially intimidating barriers for the aspiring tuna fishermen is the cost of rods and reels. A new Penn 130 international reel will set a fisherman back about $1,200. A new bent butt big game rod can be about the same price as the new reel, potentially putting a $2,000 dent in the wallet for just one setup.

One of the benefits of the recession is the large amount of rods and reels that are available for sale online. When the crew and I first began looking around for rod and reel combos, we concentrated our efforts on Ebay and Craigslist postings. We were amazed by the amount of good deals that we found. However we chose to be patient and continued searching for the best deal.

It took a few weeks but we eventually found a gentleman from Rhode Island who was looking to sell two 80 class bent butt rods and two Penn 80 International reels. We met him in New Bedford and after a little negotiating, agreed on a price of $800 for the two setups- $3,200 less than buying them new. We Googled how to clean the reels and they now perform extremely well.

Cutting Bait Costs

Acquiring high quality bait can be one of the most frustrating tasks for a tuna fishermen-especially for the new tuna fisherman who does not have a reliable network of bait contacts. If you do not have the time to catch your own bait, then it is definitely worth befriending your local pogie fisherman. In a good menhaden year, these guys can provide you with a tank full of livies for a fair price. Our local live pogie suppliers are awesome guys and are also some of the best tuna fishermen in the area.

However we prefer to save a few bucks and have a little fun fishing for our own bait. In our neck of the woods there are a few ways to catch your own live bait. Each method requires practice, research, and some spare fishing time.

Atlantic mackerel invade Massachusetts Bay during the spring and fall and are an easy target for live bait fishermen. For spring and fall Cape Cod tuna fishing trips we utilize homemade sabiki rods (discussed later in the article) to jig up macks before departing to our tuna fishing destination. We usually concentrate our efforts in 50-70 feet of water, and keep a keen eye on the sonar until we locate an area holding a large concentration of the colorful speedsters. If all goes well, we will spend an hour jigging up a couple dozen mackerel before heading to the tuna grounds.

Once summer rolls around most of the mackerel depart for cooler waters to the north. It is around this time we put the sabiki rigs away and concentrate our bait catching efforts on bluefish. Bluefish have long been regarded as “tuna candy” and are definitely worth the time and effort required to catch them. On the day of your tuna trip Lady Luck may smile upon you, and provide you with a bluefish blitz on your way to the tuna grounds. However this is unlikely and we prefer to catch our bluefish in the days leading up to the trip.

Catching bluefish and keeping them alive is no small task, but it can be done. It can pay to have friends who enjoy fishing, and who also have small skiffs that are ideal for chasing blues in skinny water. We will spend the evening prior to the tuna trip fishing the coves and creeks of Buzzards Bay in Todd’s small skiff. We will fish until we have enough eight to 20 inch bluefish to fill the laundry basket that we drag from the side of the skiff. We then transfer the blues to a homemade live-well on the bed of a pickup truck and make the 30-60 minute drive to the marina, where we transfer the bluefish to a laundry basket hidden amongst the marina rocks and pilings. We return 12 hours later, transfer the blues from the laundry basket to the boat’s live well, and we’re off to the tuna grounds.

Sounds ridiculous but it works!

 Cutting Equipment Costs

I would not recommend cutting corners on terminal tackle. Top of the line hooks, fluorocarbon leaders, and high quality main line should not be sacrificed for the sake of saving a few bucks. It is smart, in my opinion, to rig your setups with the best terminal tackle available. One poorly made $2.00 swivel can be the determining factor between landing and losing a big fish. I like purchasing terminal tackle from local bait shops. Shopping at the local tackle shop is a great way to extend my fishing network-plus I’ll often receive recent fishing reports.

My crew and I do cut costs by getting creative with sabiki rods, kite rods, live-wells, and harpoons. Over the last couple of years we have been able to build or buy much of our equipment. By putting in some extra time and effort, we have been able to save hundreds of dollars.

Sabiki Rods

Homemade sabiki rods prevent sabiki rigs from getting tangled and allow sabiki rigs to be used multiple times. To build your own sabiki rod you need electrical tape, a five foot piece of one inch PVC, a drill, and a “retired” fishing reel. In less than hour you can build your very own homemade sabiki rod.

1.) First use the electrical tape to secure the reel to a comfortable spot on the PVC.

2.) Next, drill a hole wide enough for mono to slide through in the PVC about six inches above the reel.

3.) Run the main line from the reel through the hole, and out the end of the PVC.

4.) Tie on a sabiki rig, affix a weight to the end of the sabiki, and reel the rig into the PVC piping.

Homemade sabiki rods allow an angler to quickly take advantage of any bait catching opportunity. If a school of mackerel appear on the sonar, it’s possible to have the sabiki rig in the water within a matter of seconds. Using an old reel and a section of PVC to catch bait will take a burden off your more expensive equipment.

Kite Rods

Fishing for tuna with a kite is exciting and productive. It's like casting topwaters for bass multiplied by 100.  To learn more about kite fishing check out Kite Fishing Cape Cod for Giant Tuna.

We are not aviation experts, so instead of trying to build our own kite we decided it would be best to cough up $50 for a Boston Big Game kite. So far it has been a great purchase. The kite flies well even in a light breeze.

We did decide to build our own kite rod instead of spending $200 for a new setup. During our 2009 season Mazzola snapped a six foot spinning rod while fighting a small bluefin. He figured that the lower four feet of the rod would be well suited for kite fishing. He melted a rubber covering over the snapped end of the rod, and attached an old Penn reel we had previously used for striped bass trolling. We loaded the reel with some fresh Dacron and had a homemade kite rod for about $5.

Live-wells

The only problem with our 20 foot Hydra Sport is that it came equipped with a rather small rectangular built in live-well. We needed a larger live-well that could support a tank full of lively mackerel, bluefish and pogies. The problem was that a live-well large enough to hold these big baits could end up costing us more than $300.

Our problem was solved when a 55 gallon plastic drum washed up on Sagamore Beach during a 2010 Nor’easter. To create a live-well from the drum we followed these steps:

1) Lay the drum horizontally and saw a two foot by one foot section out of the side of the drum. Screw two three inch rubber tubing sections into the drum, allowing half of each tube to dangle over the cut out section of the drum, with one tube at each end of the opening.

2) Screw the remaining half of the rubber sections into the top of the sawed off section of the drum. This will serve as the bait door for the live-well.

3) Next drill a one inch drainage hole into the bottom of the drum. Insert a piece of hosing and seal any leaks with marine caulking. Attach a shut-off valve to the end of the hose. Make sure the hose is long enough to dangle off the stern of the boat for drainage purposes.

4) Construct a base out of two by fours that the drum can sit evenly on. This will help prevent the drum from rolling around in rough seas.

In order to keep baitfish alive in the drum it is crucial to maintain a steady flow of water. We position our homemade bait tank at the stern of our boat, in close proximity to our saltwater wash down hose. With the drainage valve closed we simply insert the wash down hose through the makeshift bait door, flip on the wash down and wait for the drum to fill with fresh seawater. We will then shut off the wash down and add our baits to the homemade live-well. It is important to drain and replenish a quarter of the water in the tank every twenty minutes to keep the baits alive and kicking.

We dedicated about four hours of our time and $15 of our money to construct our not-so-gorgeous but effective orange live-well. We have been able to keep two dozen adult pogies alive and happy for over 12 hours using the setup. Bluefish and mackerel have also faired very well.

Harpoons

Harpoons are an absolute necessity for serious bluefin fishermen. New harpoons can cost more than $250. Used harpoons are relatively easy to come by and are much less expensive than buying new.

Back in 2008 I found a used harpoon advertised on Craigslist for $100. I traveled 10 minutes to the town of Sandwich where I was shocked to find not just a harpoon, but 100’ of harpoon rope, two darts, a buoy, two Penn Senators, a Penn Jigmaster, and three wire line trolling rods. The gentleman who owned the equipment could no longer fish and was looking to make space in his garage. He sold it all to me for $200!

Later that same year we used that harpoon to stick a 170 pound tuna that we could not coax into gaffing range. In the ensuing pandemonium I dropped the 10 foot harpoon overboard and watched it plummet to the depths of the Southwest Corner.

Frustrated, we started looking online again, thinking that we would never find another 10 foot harpoon for short money. To my surprise a retired tuna fisherman was selling a 10 foot harpoon, two spare darts, a bouy, and harpoon rope for $100. We traveled to Methuen after work, made the purchase, and headed out fishing the very next weekend.

Developing a Cost Effective Game Plan

A well thought out game plan will also help to keep tuna fishing expenses under control. The weather and fishing destination can have a dramatic impact on a crew’s bottom line.

Being smart about the weather is critical when tuna fishing from a small boat. The 15-20 knot breeze that cools beach bums can result in dangerous offshore conditions for small boats. Siding with caution is of utmost importance. Catching one of these impressive fish from a small boat is a gift and not worth risking the safety of the crew.

The goal of our tuna trips is to have fun and return to the dock in one piece. We will not make the 19 mile run to Stellwagen unless the forecast calls for 5-10 knot winds. Banging through choppy seas can put a beating on the crew, the boat, and the gear and will also burn extra gallons of fuel. If you want to stay safe and conserve fuel then it is imperative to keep a close eye on the weather.

However, less than ideal weather should not ruin a tuna fishing trip for the small boat angler. There are many Cape Cod Bay fishing areas surprisingly close to shore can still produce big tuna. Just because it is too breezy to head to the Bank with the larger boats, does not mean that you have no chance at hooking up closer to shore. The truth is you may experience spectacular fishing in areas where no one even knew fish were congregating-which is pretty cool.

The past few seasons have blessed us with a few memorable experiences where we were fortunate enough to encounter tuna within just a few miles, and sometimes yards of the shoreline. One afternoon this past fall we hooked up and lost a giant tuna just a few miles outside the east entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. In 2009 we encountered blitzing bluefin three miles outside Plymouth Harbor. During October of 2009 I stood on Sagamore Beach and watched in disbelief as dozens of 150-200 pound tuna shot clear out of the water chasing tinker mackerel only a couple hundred yards from shore. Our region is certainly unique in that it offers small boat anglers a real opportunity to hook bluefin close to shore-which can translate into big fuel savings.

Tying it all Together

Our region hosts some impressive captains who possess an uncanny ability to consistently bring bluefin back to the docks. For the rest of us, bagging a big bluefin can often be a frustrating and even overwhelming task.

However the plethoras of big tunas that have invaded Massachusetts Bay over the past few years have made it possible for small boat anglers to get in on the action. It is very feasible to tackle big tuna using a boat and budget more suitable for striped bass fishing. A bit of creativity and a strong desire to put a big tuna in the boat are the most important ingredients for catching bluefin on a budget.

For additional Cape Cod tuna fishing information, head on over to My Fishing Cape Cod.

Tight lines, take care and Happy 2013!

Ryan

A-Wassailing

What a glorious time, these days and nights of celebration
which form the blessed Twelve Days of Christmas.

For me, it is a time of restful reflection, a time of flipping through the pages of the past year, of recounting the good moments and the not-so-good moments and putting them all into some form of meaningful perspective.

It is a time of counting one’s fortunes and misfortunes. Over the course of a year there are bound to be at least a few of each – the debits and credits which add up to one voyage around the sun.

In a man’s life, he sees the world in terms of generations – his generation, and the generations before and after him. Family history unfurls with names upon a pedigree tree, each person neatly packaged within the bounds of a birth date and a death date. One day the man awakens to the realization that the sleet of winter falls against stone, hard and cold and unmoving “in the bleak midwinter.”

Yet, he also awakens to the promise of the younger generation, who with education and nurturing is now ready to play a positive role in this spiraling world of ours. Their youthfulness and optimism make the middle age man feel younger and more optimistic, and inspire him with a renewed commitment to contribute in a more meaning way.

But most of all these Twelve Days are a time to eat figs and nuts, a time to fill the bowl with tobacco and the cup with wassail, and to sit back and enjoy the simple winter pleasures of warmth and comfort while all outdoors is cold and snowy.  With the conclusion of the Twelfth Night we can take on the challenges of the new year ahead. But for now, I am content to relax, nibble, puff, and sip, and rejoice in the merriment.

The Twelve Days are a wonderful time to listen to traditional Christmas carols, and to glean the meaning within. In days of yore, Christmastide was a period of merriment, of revelry, of wassailing, and that is the theme for which I search as I place long playing records upon the turntable and warm to the crackling with attuned ears. Snifter raised, I search for the true spirit of Yuletide – wassail.

In olden days, carolers would stroll from house to house, singing to their occupants, and in turn, would be invited inside for food and drink, wassail being the traditional beverage – a mulled cider with a spirituous kick, strong enough to shake the chill from the revelers and fill them with an inner warmth. In fact, mention of strong drink can be found in a number of Yuletide carols, including the following…

From Good King Wenceslas*:

Bring me flesh, and bring me wine,

Bring me pine logs hither,

Thou and I shall see him dine,

When we bear them thither.

(Good King Wenceslas of Bohemia was killed in 935 A.D. by his own brother – Boleslaus the Cruel. I suppose if your moniker is “The Cruel” you have little choice in the matter.)

From We Wish You a Merry Christmas:

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding,

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding,

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer.

(The revelers of this particular carol are quite demanding, saying “We won’t go until we get some!” Nothing worse than company who overstay their welcome.)

The Wassail Song is perhaps the traditional carol which best provides the spirit of wassailing:

Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green,

Here we come a-wandering so fair to be seen,

Love and joy come to you, and to you your wassail, too,

And God bless you, and send you a Happy New Year,

And God send you a Happy New Year.

And if all this reveling, and merrymaking, and wassailing from house to house has made you a little bit tipsy, perhaps you should, as they sing in the song Sleigh Ride*, stroll on over to “the home of Farmer Gray…when they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie.” I’ll take my coffee black, with an extra spoonful of whipped cream on the pie.

Or better yet, avoid the bubbly altogether, for as it says in the Gospel of St. Luke: “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit … which we all know is non-alcoholic.” (Luke 1:15)

On behalf of Good King Wenceslas, Boleslaus the Cruel, Farmer Gray, St. Luke, and all the revelers, I wish my devoted readers (all three of you) a happy and healthy New Year!

Jack Sheedy

Co-author of Cape Odd and Cape Cod Harvest – at a library near you.

*Good King Wenceslas lyrics by John Mason Neale. Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson & Mitchell Parish. All others are traditional.

Chickadee poses in the snow

Bird frolics in the first snow.

Photos by Jonathan Mayo

 My initial intention for this morning's walk               

was to track the coyotes that live  deep in nearby woods, getting a sense for their density and territorial boundaries.   Fresh snow affords a rare opportunity to track wildlife.

     But my attentions were diverted by this playful  chickadee, who was glad to pose for a few photos.

    The season's first real snow was a welcome sight for kids, just enough to sled on, and not so bad for adults, with little need to shovel.

  Hopefully many of our winter storms offer such simplicity.

   This little chickadee enjoys it, too!

 

 

 

As for coyotes it was apparent that pups and adults were frolicking in the woods at the height of the snow, as their pawprints were now frozen into the paths.

The area where the coyotes live is dense, perfect for these resourseful creatures.

Take some time to walk  in the woods today. Many sights await you.

Carpe Diem!

It is a myth

The biggest thing that is going to happen after January First is January Second

Anyone who has gone beyond the hype known as the "Fiscal Cliff" will have noticed by now that those things that are supposed to be connected uniquely to the cliff, are actually those things that the GOP has been demanding since the 2010 midterm elections.

Things like playing around with medicare and medicaid, attempting to mess up Social Security that is NOT connected to the federal budget, Playing with unemployment, extending the Bush Tax cuts, and preventing the top 2% from paying their fair share of the taxes by pretending they are the job creators without holding them to actually creating jobs and not posting record profits are somehow suddenly connected to the threat of the fiscal cliff.

We have faced y2k, rapture, and the Mayan Apocalypse which all turned out to just be someone's scare tactic to bring the majority to their side of an issue. They did not happen.

Now we can add the "fiscal cliff" to the list.

The biggest thing that is going to happen after January First is January Second.

Final Week Of NFL Regular Season

       It's All Downhill From Here

We here at the Sports Desk hope you made it through the snowstorm OK.

We highly recommend that you get the kids- or yourself- and get out there sledding. You'll notice that the Pats don't play until 4:20 or so, giving you plenty of time to gear up and Head For The Hills.

The picture above is from Sagamore, behind Canalside Apartments. That's Logan, enjoying his first run down a hill on one of his Christmas presents.

Enough innocence... on to the Sports Betting.

 12/30 4:25 ET At New England -10 Miami 46.5

It must be awesome to leave Florida and play a 3 hour outdoor game in these weather conditions.

NE, 34-21 

 12/30 1:00 ET At Buffalo -3.5 NY Jets 39

Mark Sanchez gets another crack at the starting job.

Buffy, 20-17

12/30 1:00 ET At Cincinnati -2.5 Baltimore 41

We  get the Bengals on Wild Card Weekend if the season ended before today. We need Baltimore to rough them up.

Balktimore, 20-14

 12/30 1:00 ET At Pittsburgh -10.5 Cleveland 34.5

It's Wait Til Next Year time in Pennsylvania. If Dracula had an American home, I like to think that it would be in Pennsylvania.

Pitt, 20-10

 12/30 1:00 ET Houston -7 At Indianapolis 47

 Considering the mountain that Indy will have to climb in Wild Card Weekend, they just may rest everyone today and look ahead to Baltimore or New England.

 Houston, 20-14

 12/30 1:00 ET At Tennessee -4 Jacksonville 42

Unlike Jacksonville,Tennessee's great-back-on-a-bad-team isn't injured, and that makes all the difference.

Tennessee, 21-14

 12/30 1:00 ET At NY Giants -7 Philadelphia 46

If the NFL players had a better union, everyone on Philly could call in sick foir this game and take an extended and relaxing Christmas holiday.

NYG, 31-14

 12/30 8:30 ET At Washington -3 Dallas 49.5

It should be awesome watching Dallas get eliminated on national TV. Too bad the game isn't in Texas.

Washington, 21-6

 12/30 1:00 ET Chicago -3 At Detroit 45

It must suck to be a Lions fan. You do 40 years of mediocrity, have one moderately good year, and then start to suck again. At least they have the NFL's meanest man. We were watching the Thanksgiving game, talking about Ndamukong Suh, and my high school niece says, "Which one is Suh? I want to see the sadist."

Detroit, 17-13

 12/30 4:25 ET Green Bay -3.5 At Minnesota 46

Adrian Peterson needs to go over 200 yards to top the all-tiime single season rushing record. Unfortunately, his team needs to win, they'll most likely be losing early and large, and Minnesota should be throwing most of the game.

Green Bay, 30-21

 12/30 1:00 ET At Atlanta -3.5 Tampa Bay 45.5

For no good reason at all,  I smell an upset home rout. Maybe Atlanta sits anyone of value.

Tampa, 24-7

12/30 1:00 ET At New Orleans -5 Carolina 54

Carolina still needs a few more pieces, and this is the last chance for New Orleans to spank someone.

NO, 31-24

 12/30 4:25 ET At Denver -16 Kansas City 42

Peyton Manning skates into the playoffs against a lightweight KC gaggle. KC should be broken up entirely, other than like 5 or 6 players. For instance, if the MC Mallett experiment fails, Matt Cassell should be available to back up Tom Brady soon.

Denver, 28-0

12/30 4:25 ET At San Diego -9.5 Oakland 39.5

The story with this game isn't the game, it is whether or not fantasy owners should play just-back-from-the-IR Darren McFadden. I keep going back and forth between him and Michael Crabtree. It goes like this: McFadden, Crabtree, McFadden, Crabtree, McFadden, Crabtree... I have to hit 1500 words to get paid, sorry.

Oakland, 17-14

12/30 4:25 ET At San Francisco -16.5 Arizona 39

Arizona's pregame motivational speech may very well be along the lines of, "We're not really that good, so the season is lost. We're eliminated from the playoffs. We won't even win this game. But let's beat that point spread!!"

San Francisco, 30-14

12/30 4:25 ET At Seattle -11 St. Louis 42.5

Seattle mauled previously dominant San Francisco, and look to end the regular season on a high note. Russel Wilson is one of those heart attack QBs, so I'll bet on this being a close game.

Seattle, 21-20

Looking Towards Possibility

It's the New Year and time for fresh starts.

The morning after our celebration for this new start may leave us a little groggy and tired, but its nothing that a quick dip in the ocean wouldn't cure. An awakening of sorts with wind chills and goose bumps, making us more aware that a new day has stated and life goes on.

I always like to join that brave heart group of people who make their way to the ocean .

Event Description

Polar Bear Plunge Fundraiser on New Year's Day To Benefit Hope Dementia & Alzheimer's Services

Noon at Bank Street Beach in Harwich Port

If you want to stay warm inside, then mediate on changes to come this year.

I found this video on You Tube from a local artist. Enjoy it as I have and may the New Year bring you all that you need.

Happy New Year !!!

 

 

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Remembering a Warmer Time

 

As I look out my window at beautiful crisp snow clinging to the trees and bushes, I sit here reminiscing of a warmer time when the leaves were slowly blowing about making way for the new growth about to happen in spring in the distance future. No matter how we try to hold back changes they inevitably come our way and sooner or later I will be silently cursing as I shovel and clean a safe path through the now wet and heavy snow.

It just makes me think about the New Year before us and whether or not I will brave the cold to welcome in the New Year in Chatham. I know that Chatham really knows how to celebrate the events of life and I enjoyed their Octoberfast with the Pumpkin People in the Park as I do every year. I hope you enjoy my video of the Pumpkin People and consider making it to First Night in Chatham.

 

Heavy Rain To Turn To Snow At Some Point Or Another

As Usual, Cape Cod Is Hard To Call

Massachusetts is getting a fierce snowstorm tonight, but will the goodness make it down to Cape Cod?

Interior portions of Massachusetts will get anywhere from 3-10 inches, with isolated areas (think of a line from northern Rhode Island to Bridgewater) perhaps topping a foot.

The storm is passing a few hundred miles south of Nantucket, and is still kicking enough warm ocean air at Cape Cod to keep it All Rain here so far. Ocean temperatures are about 47 degrees or so, while land temperatures are 30 or so... which is why We get rain while They get snow.

The snow line is at about Bristol County presently (6:45 PM). That should change overnight, but When? Cape Cod is often the rain/snow line, and that may be the case for most of the night... at least most of the night when the Good People are up.

When the rain changes over to snow, the precipitation should be heavy enough that snow will fall at a rate of an inch an hour. Most of Cape Cod should change to snow at some point, with the Outer Cape standing the best chance of not gettin' some.

Look for Plymouth County's coastline to perhaps Sandwich to get 3 inches overnight. East or South of that to Dennis-Yarmouth, say 2 inches. Anything past that will get an inch or less.

Here's the current radar... that shot above is about 5:45 PM or so, my computer crashed and I had to re-write. It won't update itself.

Here are the various Warnings from the National Weather Service that pertain to our area during the storm. No joke... we have, ahem... a Winter Storm Warning, a Gale Warning, a Winter Weather Advisory, not one but two Wind Advisories, a Special Weather Statement and something called a Hurricane Force Wind Warning for Georges Bank. Consider yourself Warned, Advised, and Statemented.

Winds could gust past 65 knots tonight and tomorrow, especially offshore a bit. As you know, a knot (pronounced not) is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile (1.852 km) per hour, approximately 1.151 mph.

No coastal flood advisories yet, but we'll update you if we hear differently. Coastal areas took a beating this week, and I think the moon is still full or near-full.

The entertainment should be over by 7 AM or so, although we could get flurries for a while after. We will also have fierce and cold winds tomorrow (notice the Wind Advisory running until 8 PM). The Patriots game will be cold and windy, but the snow will be done by then. Dress really friggin' warm if you go.

Remember that, even if we get skunked on snow, the possibility of a freeze is very high overnight and tomorrow morning. The roads will be very wet, and it gets cold overnight. Be very careful if you have to drive anywhere.

We'll be back with an update in the morning at some point. Good luck!

Conversion is an act of opening our hearts up to let God enter

Conversion Testimony Of Famous Spanish Author Maria Vallejo Nagera at Medjugorje

 
Maria Vallego Nagera

(Alberta Sequeira) It seems to me that "Faith" is a very touchy subject to a lot of people in our world. Since it's the Christmas season, I want to keep Jesus in our hearts.  Here is a site on youtube for you to listen to with the conversion of this author who also had lost her meaning of believing and keeping God in her heart.

 

Video
.
Excerpt of Maria's witness given in Medjugorje at the 2009 youth festival.
I have to admit that at that time, even having been considered a Catholic all my life, my faith was tepid. I was a “Sunday Catholic”, always bored at the celebration of the Mass, not really understanding most of its parts, and always trying to make excuses to avoid going to the church. My parents have raised me Catholic, the schools I attended were Catholic, but no real feeling of God lived in our family or in our hearts. I like to describe my family as “social Catholics”: we attended Mass every Sunday, yes, but with no real feelings, only going through the motions, flowing with the Spanish catholic crowd. If all of our friends and family members were churchgoers in Madrid, we were going to do the same no matter what. I remember trying fiercely to convince my two friends during that trendy lunch that they were going to explore a senseless, ridiculous way to approach God. We were rich, we were young, we were happy healthy mothers of beautiful children, we had attractive husbands that adored us. In other words, we had the world in our hands.

Insecurity.

This is Scott Brown's Facebook post from 12/27/12:

“I left this morning encouraged by an email from Leader McConnell in which he conveyed to our membership that the President had reached out to him last night saying that he would finally be proposing a plan to Senate GOP.”

Problem was there had been no reaching out, and there was no offered plan.

There was also his tweet around noon time:

Getting on place [sic] to DC to review plan from Pres. We will see. Better late than never.”

Now this is a man in the thick of things, someone obviously dedicated to getting things done, no matter how fictitious. This is a man so important, that he attends meetings with kings and queens. This is a man who needs to feel important.

There was a quick up tick at the stock market that immediately sagged when it was learned that there was nothing behind the Facebook post or the urgent tweet.

It is actions like this and claims that he had seen pictures of Osama Bin Laden's body that paint a poor picture of someone who is needy. His reputation at the State House was that he was a back seater with very little influence, or interest for that matter in being involved. He fell into the senate position because Martha Coakley assumed the seat was hers without having to work for it.

Vote in our Poll: If the US Senate election were held today, I would vote for.In Washington he stayed close to the party line only occasionally going against the party with cosmetic votes for or against things of little importance, or whose outcome was clearly predictable. When the party needed all its minions in a row, he was there.

He played on this as proof of being his own man, an independent, but many, enough, saw through this to not want to send him back to the senate.

He was a jock in his youth, and jocks get prestige and respect merely for just being a jock on a team. They don't need much else beyond the sports arena to earn adulation, and they come to expect it. It is as much a part of their life as is oxygen. However, they lose it after graduation, and they long for what they have lost. Many jocks get used to that attention, and miss it when it goes away. Some get over it, while others, like Al Bundy from “Married With Children”, look for any excuse to relive those heady days, or another way to get the automatic prestige.

With Senator Kerry ready to vacate his senate seat, and with the opportunity to regain the position of Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown needs to come across as a vital player. What better way to do that than to appear to be rushing off eagerly to be at the center of activity where he is most needed.

He even threw in the “Better late than never” tag line onto his tweet to show how frustrated he was at the lack of activity in Washington from the administration. It helps the image he needs to project if he is to get the feeling his jock-self misses and the loyalty of those whose votes he needs.

This is his new barn jacket.

Top 10 Reasons Why Romney Ran For President

Top 10 Reasons Why Romney Ran For President

“He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life."
 - Tagg Romney to Michael Kranish, Boston Globe, 12/22/12

Willard Mitt Romney's eldest son Tagg recently divulged to the Globe's Michael Kranish that Romney really didn't want to be President of the United States. 

No, there were other really, really good reasons why Romney ran as the Republican standard bearer against President Barak Obama this past year, far more important reasons than being President.

            My esteemed colleague and collaborator, Professor Gordon Ourside of the East Arkansas College of Biblical Knowledge, has used his extensive political contacts and his estimable research skills to document what those important reasons were. 

Here, then, are the top ten reasons, having nothing to do with any desire to be President, that drove Willard Romney to spend $45 million of his own money on his failed 2012 presidential campaign  

 10.       He wanted everyone to know that he is so rich he can just spend $45 million of his own money for something he really doesn't want or need.                  .

  9.        He wanted everyone in America to hear him sing "America The Beautiful" a capella, off  key and without a trace of feeling.

  8.        He wanted to share with us the truly inspiring story, as an example for struggling young   couples all over America, how he and his wife Ann got themselves through their college     years by selling some family stock.

  7.         He wanted a chance to set the record straight on his being a job creator by telling the     Federal Elections Commission last July, on pain of perjury, that he severed all ties with his wholly owned Bain Capital in 1999, to  dispel any belief in his sworn 2002 testimony   to the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission that he had returned to Boston all through  2000 and 2001, to manage the business and attend board meetings.

  6.         He wanted to share with all of us those precious family photos of his dog Seamus riding on the roof of his car.

  5.         He was hoping that someone from his boyhood days would tell everyone about all the fun he used to have with his chums ganging up on a gay classmate to cut off the boy's bleached blond hair with a pair of shears.  Just a harmless prank, don't you know,  because high school kids back then  didn't even know what homosexuality was.

  4.         He needed to vindicate his father George, a principled conservative who ran for President and  failed, by becoming an unprincipled reactionary who would do and say anything to get elected.

  3.         It was imperative that  he insult that 47 percent of Americans, the elderly, the disabled,  the Bush recession unemployed, the housing bubble homeless and victims of natural disasters who are  dependent on big government support.  Hey, somebody had to do it.

  2.         He wanted to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt just how virulently inane and venal the Tea Party wing of today's Republican Party truly is by sharing center stage  with running mate Paul Ryan.

 1.         He desperately wanted to make damned sure everyone, everywhere knew just how out of touch he was with the hardscrabble reality of today's middle class and working class Americans, because his elite corporatist class really couldn't care less..

So the fact that Willard lost the election by almost five million popular votes, and about 23 percent of the Electoral College, doesn't really make him a failure. That's because he never actually wanted to be President anyway.  So there!

           Romney  really succeeded big time, though, with those ten other good reasons he had for running that Professor Ourside has listed here.  No Oval Office for Willard, plus a solid blow to the GOP's right wing agenda, was $45 million dollars well spent for sure.

The Case for Catsup ... and maybe a QR Code or two

MAYBE IT WAS A MAGIC CATSUP BOTTLE? Or maybe I just had time to kill at Eastham's Fairway Restaurant before that tasty order of potato pancakes and scrambled eggs arrived. Either way, the black and white pattern on the back of the bottle drew me in.

As frequent readers know, I do enjoy a good technology. However, some of them have rolled by and for one reason or another I’ve never sampled their digits. The black and white squares? Nope. Never really bothered with them.

But the catsup bottle beckoned. Heinz would give $1 to the nonprofit veterans service group Wounded Warrior (http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org) for every “Thank You Veteran” card it received. All I needed to do was scan that black and white code and it would lead me to the process.

I spun the plastic bottle around and read its back label three or four times, eyeballing the QR Code with some skepticism. Before I realized it, I’d picked up my iPhone -- well of course I had it with me, wouldn’t you! -- and headed to the apps store to download a free QR Reader.

The black and white squares which seem to appear on every-other magazine ad, on posters in stores, and on physical objects (like catsup bottles!) come to you from the world of automobile manufacturing. In 1994 Toyota’s Denso Wave subsidiary created a two-dimensional scanable code designed for the rugged, data-dense, and high speed needs of Toyota’s production system.

Instead of enforcing its patent rights, Toyota and Denso Wave opened the code up to the world and today the Quick Response Code, or QR Code for short, has become a published ISO standard, ISO 18004, used in Asia, Europe, and increasingly, North America.

Unlike bar codes, which store information across one axis, the QR Code packs data into two dimensions. Even more importantly, it incorporates error correction data which creates a super rugged little data package.

Translation: you can wrap these puppies around a curve, push them through a reader upside down or at an angle, or mangle or chew off up to a third of them ... and the information they carry soldiers on.

Print publishers jumped on QR Codes years ago and started encouraging advertisers to plop them into ads and embed them into print. It was supposed to be a way print could compete with emerging digital formats, by delivering a printed hyperlink-plus.

Marketing types got all excited about the possibilities of feeding point of sale information about their products as consumers considered the purchase right there in the store.

Problem was, not many normal people, outside of manufacturing, advertising, and marketing, knew what to make of the codes. Not many people had a device that could read them conveniently at hand. And even if they did, the codes typically led to some less than compelling content that didn’t add value anyway.

However, somewhere during the past year smart mobile devices reached near-ubiquity. The apps store model makes it quick and easy for anyone to download a free code reader. Reading a code involves little more than launching the app and pointing the phone’s camera at the printed code – in the middle of a store, in the middle or a restaurant, or while curled up with a magazine on the sofa.

But that’s just part of the story. The ability to create your own codes – from services like QRStuff, GoQR or other industrial-level providers – has begun to open up creative uses for the codes. And of course the more they get used ... the more they get used.

http://www.qrstuff.com

http://goqr.me/

One of my favorites uses appears in a QRStuff blog – combine QR technology with everyone’s favorite retro-craft Shrinky-Dinks (http://www.shrinkydinks.com) to make your dog or cat a data tag:

http://www.qrstuff.com/blog/2012/01/18/a-shrinky-dinks-qr-code-dog-tag

With the rise in mobile devices in the classroom, teachers have been playing around with QR codes as ways to link to information and support learning. A few fun examples:

Trade publication THE Journal shares ways a science class did a scavenger hunt with QR codes: http://thejournal.com/articles/2011/08/31/qr-codes-in-the-classroom.aspx

The Periodic Table of QR Elements created QR codes linked to videos about every chemical element: http://www.flickr.com/photos/periodicvideos/5912075438/sizes/o/in/photostream/

Edutech guru Kathy Schrock (who represents, Cape readers, another example of our region’s resident talent) has a whole section devoted to the topic: http://www.schrockguide.net/qr-codes-in-the-classroom.html

With my newly-instead QR Reader in hand, suddenly I’m seeing QR codes all around ... and scanning them.

A chocolate ad had one cozied up to a mouthwatering photo of a chocolate bar.

A magazine ad for Bermuda featured a code with a different visual twist: printed in hot pink and fit into the shape of a pair of shorts instead of a square.

And at a recent dinner at one of the Bertucci’s outlets, the check came with a QR code printed on the bottom.

Sadly, not all uses prove equally, well, useful. The chocolate ad took me to a website of the same ad, created for computer screen viewing ... and with type so teeny it became virtually unseeable on a mobile device. The Bermuda ad asked to use location data from my mobile device ... then returned me deals for people travelling from Toronto to Bermuda -- as I sat in a city several hundreds of miles away from Toronto.

Some come closer to the mark. At Bertucci’s, as we waited for our payment to be processed, we used our phone to scan the code on the bill and -- motivated by both curiosity and a possible $100 gift certificate – answered the short survey on our phone before the waitress had even returned.

Others let everyone win. As improbable as it seemed while staring at that catsup bottle at Fairway, catsup and Wounded Warrior both benefited from a QR Code. Yesterday I got an email from Heinz reporting that, thanks to many people like me, it had given $250,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project.

---

In just a few short minutes I created a QR code to the archives of CapeEyes columns. Does it show up on your screen? Does it work?

QR Code generator

It should bring up the columns in a form that is nicely readable on a mobile device. Pretty cool, eh?

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national election review

 PTDC0629-1

 

the Warren/Brown Campaign in review

Massachusetts got a lot, I mean a lot, of national coverage during our Senate Race. It was considered one of the most important in the country.

It was so good, we just have to have another one real soon.

Year in Review

2012 is over, but the world isn't. poorly played, Mayans. So I thought I would go through my blogs and pick some of the pictures to sum up the year.

Cape Cod Snow Storm Update

We'll give you a nice forecast range of nothing-to-6 inches...

You know that last winter was mild when the Weather folks at Cape Cod Today (me) get all worked up over 2-4" of snow in the forecast. However, it IS news, and it WILL matter to our readers, so here we go with another update.

Today will be mighty chilly. My door was frozen shut this morning, for instance. We'll get upper 30s today, then 20s tonight. Saturday starts cloudy, and then things get interesting.

A storm will form down South, and then head up towards us on Saturday. Whether it hits us directly or goes offshore (and how far offshore it goes) makes all the difference in the world in our forecast. If it goes offshore, we may not even get sprinkles, frozen or not. If it gets close, SE Massachusetts will get some shovel-worthy snow while everyone else gets Missed. If it doesn't veer at all, 6 inches of snow (or even a soaking, all-rain event as the storm draws in warm air) would be a conservative precipitation estimate.

I'm not sure if there will be any coastal flooding, but we'll know more as we solidify the track of the storm

Most everyone feels it will veer away to some extent. WHDH is giving Cape Cod 1-2" in a rain/snow mix, with the South Coast getting a more robust 4-6". WBZ is giving interior SE Massachusetts 1-3" with the Cape getting less as the storm pulls in milder air. WCVB had an awesome hour-by-hour snowfall forecast that may work on your computer better than it does on my Atari-era laptop. I did see us getting a dusting of snow while west of 495 had a 7.7" prediction. Mark Rosenthal on WXTK has a chance of morning snow and afternoon rain..

As for me... I love snow, have late Saturday and early Sunday off, and I would really love and would professionally benefit from a snowstorm. Therefore, we'll just get a dusting surrounded by heavy rain. My forecast is the same for the coastal South Shore. If I'm wrong, we'll be looking at snow starting around 10 AM, continuing all day, mixing with rain now and then, and only the Cold Miser knows how much snow we'll get. I kinda hope he drops heavy, personally.

Snow or rain... the Patriots game should be in the 20s for kickoff Sunday. We should also have some brutally cold winds. Miami will be hating it. The snow should be done by then, so don't bet on a Snow Bowl.

Regardless of what happens, we'll be back tomorrow with all the latest information that YOU need to know. We're good like that.

Imitation

We generally learn the most from those we most admire, or at least from those we feel akin to.

Religiously, there is a lot of similarity between conservative politicians and the Taliban. Just look at the attitudes expressed toward the need for women to be submissive, the attempt to have our civil laws based on one particular religious set of beliefs, and, most recently, the decision by a conservative court that a woman can be fired if her boss finds her too attracitve with himself unable to control his lusty thoughts.

Its burka time for the ladies.

And then there is the love of the hostage situation.We have seen a lot of those.

And now here it is in American politics.

The American people re-elected President Obama, and the Republicans don't like that. So, in order to get what they want, they are going to keep Americans hostage until they get their way.

Senator Mitch McConnell is threatening to kill unemployment insurance for 2 million Americans unless he gets spending cuts.

As the AP reported, “For the Senate to act would require a commitment from McConnell not to demand a 60-vote margin to consider the legislation on the Senate floor. McConnell’s office says it’s too early to make such an assessment because Obama’s plan is unclear on whether extended benefits for the unemployed would be paid for with cuts in other programs or on how it would deal with an expiring estate tax, among other issues.”

Republicans are now revealing that their concern over the fiscal cliff is fake since every year since the 2010 midterm elections, congressional Republicans have demanded spending cuts in exchange for any unemployment benefits extension. Obviously instead of this demand being unique to the fiscal cliff, it is a repeated tactic.

Boehner seems to have really blown it with his Plan B debacle, so now Mitch McConnell has taken the leading role.

His going once again to the “let's threaten the unemployed” well shows this has little, if anything, to really do with the deficit, but more to do with McConnell's belief that unemployment insurance takes away the incentive to work by making the unemployed lazy and dependent on government. And we all know this to be true since the wealth amassed on unemployment is phenominal.

And, people like Mitch like to pretend that all it would take is for the unemployed to just go out and look for work, ignoring that study after study shows that instead of creating jobs, the suppose job creators have kept the money they are making as pure profit.

If the threat is so easily applied to so many situations, how specific is it to the fiscal cliff? And, if it is the biggest threat related to it, how real is the fiscal cliff?

The answer clearly is that the fiscal clff is a myth and a ploy.

The American people are being held hostage to the bogey man of the Republicans' invention in order for them to get what they want. It is the threat of the monster in the closet that helps the babysitter keep the unthinking and gullible kid in the bed and from getting up.

The Republicans won't accept that they lost, and will do anything to get what they want, even if it means making things up.

They should be working for the American people, but, instead, are just trying to get their political way.

Grow up guys!

Targeting 40 pound-plus striped bass at the Cape Cod Canal

I’d be lying if I told you that catching a 40 plus pound striper from the Cape Cod Canal happens regularly. For me at least, any bass over 40 pounds is something special. Each season we usually get a handful of 40 pounders on live eels and the tube and worm while fishing from the boat. However catching a 40 pound bass on a plug or jig casting from shore is no doubt much more difficult.

And yes I am still waiting on that coveted 50 pounder! Maybe 2013 will be the year it happens for me, we’ll see.

Catching a 40 pound bass from the Canal is very challenging. Hooking a 40 pounder in the first place is pretty rare. Being able to land a 40 pounder at the Canal (a place with jagged rocks, snags and a powerful current) is even rarer.

Yet there are few ways to improve your odds of catching “The Big One” at the Big Ditch.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of this post, I think it is important to first take a look at the type of fishing gear you plan on bringing down to the Canal. Using the right reel, rod and line is critical to hooking and landing a truly big bass from the Canal.

If you need a little help figuring out the best kind of tackle for the job, be sure to check out this post.

Time of Year

I’m a big believer that you could end up catching the fish of your dreams on any given day or night. My friend’s father proved this to be true when he caught a 60 pounder from the Canal on Halloween night 14 years ago.

He actually watched as the behemoth of a bass swam in just a couple feet of water, directly in front of him. He placed the chunk of menhaden in front of the fish and the rest is history. He put many years of time in and it finally paid off for him that one Halloween night.

However I have always caught my biggest bass during the first couple weeks of July. Since I was a kid I have for some reason landed more 30 and 40 pounders from the Canal from July 1 – July 14, than during any other 2 week stretch of the season.

I still think that overall the fishing in the Canal is a bit better during late May and early June, but for some reason there seems to be a good push of big fish throughout early July. Maybe these are migratory fish that lag a little behind the rest of the pack.

I also think that part of the reason why this time of the year produces well for me is because I have generally fished a lot during those two weeks, due to time off from work, summer vacation etc.

Time of the Day

During the spring and fall it is not unusual to catch big fish while the sun is up. Plenty of enormous bass are caught each year on top water plugs in broad daylight. I can recall one late morning a few years back when a Canal regular landed a 55 pounder fishing a Gibbs polaris at around 9am. Can you imagine watching a 55 pounder crush a top water plug? Especially at the leisurely time of 9am?

Again if you put your time in there is a good chance that it will eventually happen for you.

Yet most hardcore striper anglers agree that your best chance at a big fish will come once the sun goes down. If you are serious about bagging a 40 pounder then consider becoming nocturnal.

Fishing at night is especially important when fishing the Canal during early July. The hot spring time top water action has usually died down a bit by July, making night fishing the best choice.

The ideal scenario for me in the past has been a hot and humid, dead calm early July night.

One of my best nights ever at the Canal happened on July 4th when I was 19. Instead of partying with everyone else I opted to jig the East End. The bugs were so bad that I left to buy bug spray and decided to make a move to the West. The bugs ended up being a blessing in disguise as my new spot quickly produced 6 bass all over the 30 pound mark with one over 40.
At the time I couldn’t believe it! As a 19 year old, passing on beers on the beach for perfect tides on a perfect July night was a tough decision. Come to think of it, that was probably the toughest decision I made that entire summer- ah to be a teenager again!

Technique

Many big fish are taken on plugs, live eels and chunks of bait. However aside from plugging, fishing with live and chunk bait at the Canal has never really been my thing. When targeting real big fish I tend to stick to working the bottom with jigs and large soft plastics.

To keep things as simple as possible, I almost always go with a 9 inch black slug-go super glued to a 4 ounce jig head. I have a ton of confidence in this lure and just can’t seem to get away from it.

The technique is to locate a prime  Cape Cod Canal fishing spot, cast up current and slowly bounce the slug-go right along or just above the Canal’s bottom. Having the right gear is absolutely essential if you want to fish this way without constantly getting hung up.

4 ounces is my all around weight for jigging when the tide is running. However it is a good idea to match your chosen weight with the strength of the current. In other words if the tide is slacking off it’s a smart move to switch down to a 2 or 3 ounce lead head. If the wind and tide is cranking I’ll sometimes beef it up to 5 ounces.

In Conclusion

The #1 factor to catching a really big striped bass from the Canal is the amount of time you are able to put in. If you fish the Canal regularly at the right times, with the right gear and at the right spots then it is only a matter of time until you lock into the big one.

There’s a ton of different ways to catch a big fish from the Ditch. However if you incorporate a few of the above tips into your Cape Cod Canal fishing game plan you will certainly increase the likelihood of catching a 40 plus pounder sooner than later.

Take care and go get ‘em,

Ryan

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Coastal Flooding In Duxbury, South Shore

Still An Hour Until High Tide

We'll update you on conditions here as long as the electricity doesn't go off.

If we're getting it this bad, you can bet that Scituate and Manomet are also taking Marley-sized hits. The wind should shift to the west this afternoon, and that will chill the surf out some for the PM high tide.

Big ups to Debbie for the shot of Ocean Road North in Duxbury, above...

.... and to Libby, for this one of Hummock Lane (named for Rouse's Hummock, the original name of the neighborhood), also on Duxbury Beach... a few rows of houses back, now that I think of it.

We'll be back with any necessary updates.

Resolutions for Another Trip Around the Sun

2012 was a trip around the sun chock-full of interesting and eventful occurrences here in Bartholomew Gosnold’s favorite seaside hamlet.  From talk of trash and transfer stations, to citizens banding together to break bread and grow closer as a community, to a show of civic pride with the largest collective pledge of allegiance ever seen in town,  the past year was one of making memories and moving forward – well, sort of.

As the new trip around the sun awaits, many of us make general (and sometimes unrealistic) promises to ourselves and others, affectionately called resolutions, with them vowing to do things better and improve in the new year.   In keeping with that long-standing tradition, here are some suggestions for some notable Falmouthites for resolutions they might offer – to themselves and to their community.

For the Father and Son team of Brent and Andrew Putnam – A suggestion for a resolution to make a clear and unequivocal statement to a now skeptical public that no influence was used, and no promises made, to secure young Andrew’s appointment to the Cape Cod Commission.  The very foundation of our government is trust in those chosen to lead.  When that trust is compromised, so too is that foundation.  The recent tempest that continues to swirl regarding this appointment can be quelled with such a statement.

For DPW Director Ray Jack – A plea for a public resolution to choose a Deputy Director who values and appreciates public information and respects the intelligence of citizens enough to readily share that precious commodity with the public.  Ray gets an additional suggestion to offer a New Year’s promise to embrace the notion that public servants are held to higher standard of comportment.

For newly minted Finance Director Jennifer Petit – A suggestion for a resolve to make it her paramount 2013 priority to work closely with the Finance Committee and to be open, forthcoming, and eager to engage with these most important volunteers.

For Sherriff Jim Cummings – A suggestion for a resolution to pledge another year of steady administration and seamless and sturdy leadership.  Our County House of Correction largely stays out of the news because of Sheriff Cummings’ able management.  This segment of our government was a bright spot in 2013.

For new Water Superintendent MaryBeth Wiser, a firm resolution to treat information like the water she’s in charge of - as the cherished resource it is – and a tandem resolution to return calls from reporters.  Like her boss, MaryBeth is under intense scrutiny as the calendar changes.  Here’s hoping that her commitment to communication is equaled only by her obligation to clean water.

For Cape Wind honcho Jim Gordon – a resolution to keep a steady course and to continue to work – despite the naysayers – to bring clean, renewable jobs to Falmouth and its environs.

For tireless and community committed people-lover Paul Rifkin - a resolution to continue, along with his cheerful cohorts, the new “Falmouth Eats Together” event.  Paul continues to show us that no matter what obstacles meet us individually or as a community, there is nothing more powerful than the connection between members of a community – and the bond of identity that ties them together.

For FHS Athletic Director Kathleen Burke – A resolution to work tirelessly and openly to make the dream and concept of a new athletic complex at Falmouth High School a reality.  This project has all the makings of a game-changing project that will change the quality of the venue for our student athletes for the next generation.

For Congressman Bill Keating – A resolution for another year of tireless representation of Falmouth and Cape Cod, and a commitment to continue to draw from the fountain of youth that provides his limitless energy.

And finally, for Beach Superintendent Don Hoffer – A resolution to continue to fight for fair funding for maintenance and repairs to our beaches, the lynchpin of our local economy. Don has been a steadfast and stalwart supporter of improvements and adequate financing for our crown jewels.  His fight must continue as improvements to the Ellen Mitchell bath house, Menauhant Beach and others move up in the funding queue. 

And so another year begins with great hopes and expectations for these and other civic and community leaders to strive to make improvements to our locale.  Time is of the essence, of course.  As noted American minister and novelist Charles M. Sheldon said, “Good resolutions are like babies crying in church. They should be carried out immediately.” 

Another great moment from the NRA

Power Outages, Wind Damage, Snow Possible Saturday

New England Caught In Stormy Weather Pattern

Old picture of Cedarville, but very accurate for today....

A massive blizzard that is hammering just about everyone else in America is visiting us as a powerful Nor'easter today, and we'll be soaked, wind-blown and flooded.

The National Weather Service currently have a series of Advisories, Watches and Warnings for us. We have a Storm Warning, a High Wind Watch (editor's note: it's a Warning now), and a Coastal Flood Advisory.

Rain should slow gradually today as a front moves away from us. Heavy winds will turn chilly as they switch from NE to NW. Those winds will gust near 60 mph at times, and they'll down some power lines.

Did someone say "power lines?" Here are the 8 AM NSTAR power outage numbers, by town:

Barnstable- 26

Chatham- 112

Duxbury 126

Falmouth- 95

Eastham- 7

Hyannis- 6

Marshfield- 357

Orleans- 44

Several towns have less than 20 or so, but they probably can't read this anyhow.

Yesterday and today's entertainment is simply part of a shifting pattern that will send storms at us now and this weekend. This weekend's storm could go out to sea and miss us, but- if it doesn't- we're looking at 2-4" of snow in Buzzards Bay... maybe a bit less as it goes east of the Buzz. It's due to start Saturday afternoon and finish up Sunday morning.

The forecast is subject to alteration (they were saying 1-3" yesterday), so check back often.

Ferry service is compromised today, read more here.

Here's the current radar.

We'll be back with any necessary updates.

Remember Dune Boarding & Bourbon Balls

 Watching the weather and all the snow in the mid-west, watching it work it's way across the northeast but never getting to the Cape. It's only the end of December but I think I'm ready for those warm summer sunny months to return. I want to be able to walk on the beach in shorts and short sleeves and flip flops. I am ready to see the sun out for more than 12 hours in the day. I want to be able to run down and jump into the water and feel the cool refreshment, not an iceberg hitting me in the face. Summer, Cape Cod, warm beaches, do I need to go on. 

      Does anyone remember back in the 70s being able to sled, or board down the dunes in Truro and Provincetown? They talk about snow boarding like it was is something new that just has been discovered in the last 10 years. And to think we were doing it in the summer when it was warm and not ending up with snow down our boots freezing our toesies off. Just a few sand burns on our arms and knees. You can do that any more due to the conservation issues and the possibilities of deconstructing the dunes. Oh well, so much for the good old days. I have see however over the last couple of years wayward pictures of kids getting out ye old sleds and actually going down a dune or two on actual snow. I'm still trying to figure out what year that was from since last year the Cape did not see much snow at all. 
      Anyway, if you love the snow, here is too you, I hope that we can some here on the Cape to please your desires, but for the rest of us who are already wanting the warmer weather, here is more to you that the winter stays mild with lesser running time for your heaters and lower energy bills. May every child who wishes to have a toboggan ride get one this year, only on land that is appropriate and conducive to sledding and may all the land lubbers not get their shorts in a knots worrying that there is any damage going on. Ok I'm just trying to have some fun here.
      So really how many of you can remember sledding or boarding on the dunes? Wow, warm weather, cold weather? Some may even remember both. Me only the warm weather but oh what I would not give right now to see the weather report showing 72 degrees, sunny and a healthy dose of daylight. Well I can dream can't I? Ok so sledding is reserved for that January snow and my warm weather boarding to that done behind a boat in maybe 6 months or so. And until then, stay warm and happy memories and dreams.
      Well while you out there are dreaming of which kind of sledding and boarding you have done or wish to be doing, I will be filling the oil well, trimming the wick and cleaning the lighthouse lens so that the beacon can shine out brightly, leading anyone who needs some help finding their way home to the Cape. I am so grateful to those that kept it going for me, may I keep it up for the next to find their way home as well. Have a great and wonderful and especially if you can do it while on the Cape. Have a safe and happy New Year.      
      What would a year of cookie balls be without Bourbon Balls. That would almost be anti baker busting and down right cookie ball disgraceful, or at the lest grinch like. Ok so much for the holiday ho, ho, ho's and that some of us could have used these fun little balls of spirited delight a few days ago while visiting the in-laws, or were they the out-laws. An extra shot of bourbon in grandma's recipe could have done the trick to hold out through cousin Louie's reciting of the night before Christmas that ended up we three extra versus that were never in the original script. But then again cousin Louie really meant well, and now is the time to make new years resolutions, while enjoying another round of bourbon balls. Hum, could be an interesting beginning to the new year, if you get my drift. Well enough of the nog for another year, I hope you have enjoyed this round of desserts. Have a wonderful end of the year and a grand start to the new. Please remember to partake of the spirits in moderation and responsibly. So now on with the show, by the way these are not for your children: 
 
      This week's recipe: Bourbon Balls
 
  •       12      cups      vanilla wafters crushed
  •      3/4      cup        dark corn syrup
  •        6      Tbsp       unsweetened coca powder
  •   4 1/4      cups       powdered sugar, divided
  •   4 3/4      cups       chopped nuts, divided (original calls for pecans)
  •        3      cups       bourbon, use what you enjoy drinking.
 
      Mix vanilla wafers, corn syrup, cocoa powder, 4 cups powdered sugar, 4 cups of chopped nuts and bourbon. Refrigerate at least 12 hours. 
      Shape into balls, grind rest of nuts to as fine as possible and sift in 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. Mix together and roll bourbon balls in mixture.  

Rail Trail-Last Ride?

Winter looms, time for one last ride.

by Jonathan Mayo

 For those of us who enjoy the Cape Cod Rail Trail, there is that bittersweet time of year that we endeavour to make that one last ride, or so we think. Wednesday  I saw the opportunity to  ride the beloved trail in the calm before the rain and snow, now bearing down upon the Eastern US.

   I knew I needed to atone for Christmas's culinary sins, and LSAT study had me tied to a timer all morning, so with a backpack, two cameras and that good old Protestant work ethic I prodded forth.  The first mile was met with cold fingers, but I knew warmth would come with exertion.   Gravity challenges one with age, an adage for both the strains of the inclines and the need to keep toned in the doldrums of winter.  

The trail was  very quiet, quite a contrast to the summer bustle along the popular thoroughfare.

At Harwich's West Reservoir. looking toward;s Bell's Neck at mile 1.5,  winter seems close.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

It's interesting to note seasonal changes along the trail. At the tunnel in Brewster, mile 9.3, we see the starkness of December. 

 The same spot in May.

There was nary a soul at Nickerson State Park's lower lot.

I am always willing to ride 10 miles out for this-the beauty and quiet of the Brewster woods.

Yesterday's ride commenced at 1:30 in the afternoon, and I knew that a 22 mle ride was a bit ridiculous given the challenge of daylight.  No worries, though. I felt priveleged to enjoy perhaps my last ride of the season.

       This was the scene at the Harwich rotary, with night settling in as I returned home.

 "Though I slouch towards there through brambles, subsequent glory rewards resilience."

Carpe Diem!

 

 

CapeCodToday.Com Sponsor:

Medjugorje Christmas Message: Jesus speaks and Our Lady Remains Silent

                     

Our Lady’s Message to the visionaries in Medjugorje

December 25, 2012

“Our Lady came with little Jesus in her arms and she did not give a message, but little Jesus began to speak and said: "I am your peace, live my commandments." With a sign of the cross, Our Lady and little Jesus blessed us together.”

 By Alberta Sequeira

Christmas is a time of excitement with each person waiting for that special gift; Kindles, cameras, videos games, engagement rings, a trip, clothes, suitcases, jewelry, cars and our list can go on forever.

I wonder how many wake up and just say, “Happy Birthday, Jesus?”  Do we thank Him for all he has given us throughout the year? Al and I lost our daughter, Lori, but I know God has blessed us with our family members. My father always told me, “Alberta, family is the most important thing in life. I guess we learn that after we lose a loved one, especially when the world watched the tragedy of innocent lives taken at the Sandy Hook Elementary School or a sick individual who killed two fire fighters who had responded to a call in Webster, New York. Our world is full of mentally disturbed people who go unnoticed or their family isn’t aware how they can cause harm to others.

There are thousands of families who have serious problems with their young sons or daughters. I read the message from Jesus on Christmas day to the visionaries, “I am your peace, live my commandments.”

Peace will come to families once we all open our eyes to what is missing in our children lives and our own; prayer and God! Individuals may have accomplished taking the word God out of documents, religious writings on school walls  , sayings prayers in schools, but He and His name won’t be erased from this world.  Why? Because it’s His World, not ours!

It doesn’t matter what our religion is but we have allowed our children to rule us. They give us excuses like, “I’m too tired from celebrating with friends to get up early to attend Mass, it’s boring, or I just don’ want to go,” and parents allow it. Heaven forbid we should make them do something they don’t want to do!  

I can’t count how many times, especially in the winter, when my parents made my brothers and sister and I go to church. I dreaded getting out of that warm bed. My parents are both gone but when I look back, I think of how special they made Sundays. Returning home from Mass, our house was full of the wonderful aroma of our mother’s Sunday dinners that she had cooking in the stove, while Dad turned on the lively Polka music (Mom was Polish) on the stereo. He would read his Sunday newspaper and we talked for hours over dinner when it was served. It was a must for all family members to be seated at the table. It was there that we leaned who did what all week and bonded as a family. Sundays always started with bringing Jesus into our hearts and many unseen graces after receiving Communion. It were those graces that helped us during the rest of the week to turn to God when we needed His guidance.     

We are cheating our children of one of the greatest gifts on Earth; faith. I’m not talking about just the Catholic belief. Your sons and daughters are missing the important closeness to God in their lives; a practicing faith to know He is always there for them when tragedy arrives or to know God is there when we need strength to make decisions from right and wrong. Without realizing it, you could be giving your children the blessing of knowing that they are never alone with a God they can turn to when they feel alone.

Without my parent's teaching of a loving and merciful God, I don’t think I would have made it through the loss of our daughter, Lori Cahill, in 2006 at thirty-nine years old from her addiction to alcohol abuse. My trust in God helps me remember that He has a reason for everything in our lives. We just don’t understand it while we are here on Earth.  

The last remark Jesus stated was, “Live my commandments.”  Do our kids even know what commandments God gave us? My belief is that so many of them and their actions with alcohol and drug abuse, violent crimes including murders, rapes, stealing, break-ins and more, could highly be related to no guilt or consequences from doing wrong. They have no one to account to for their wrong doings. They fear no one in authority anymore.

I use to wonder reading the bible why it continuously said, “Fear the Lord!”  I’d got so confused and thought Why would you fear a God Who is supposed to be all loving and merciful? It took years for me to understand that remark. Out of the blue, it hit me. If we all feared the Lord, we would think twice before harming others or doing criminal acts because we would have the knowledge that at the end of our lives, we would face God with the commandments we didn't keep. Children would realize that there is going to be punishment. Not having God in their hearts, or sadly the training or education on Him even existing, they don’t fear Him or know they are sinning.

There are other monthly messages from Our Lady to six visionaries in Medjugorje, which is a tiny, remote village in Bosnia. Since 1981, from the young ages of ten to sixteen, they have all been given daily messages from the Blessed Mother and they are still seeing Her. She is giving each of them ten secrets that will be revealed to the world by a priest who they have already chosen to deliver them when each receives all ten. There are two visionaries left to get one more secret. To keep up with this information on this world event that will open up to the world, go to http://ingodscompany2.blogspot.com. This is a wonderful Catholic site for anyone from any faith to learn why millions are flocking to Medjugorje; a village that I was blessed to have been called to in 1998.  A village I call “A Sample of Heaven.”

View Alberta Sequeira's websites at www.albertasequeira.com or www.albertasequeira.wordpress.com or email her at memoirs@albertasequeira.com

 

 

 

Tree pose at Fort Hill

Fort Hill in Eastham, MA is a beautiful area - its winter,  and trees have shed their leaves. You can see past the bay into the ocean, to forever. Here's Tracy finding her favorite tree to practice tree pose with.  That's "Namaste" she's hollering at the end - I honor the light in you.

http://youtu.be/miS2hXfoBns

Green New Year's Resolutions

Go beyond the typical resolutions and add some “green” ones

The New Year is a time for starting fresh and making resolutions, some of which we keep and most of which we don’t.  This year go beyond the “lose weight, exercise more” typical resolutions and add some “green” ones.  Think back over the year to your newly acquired green habits and add to them.   For example, add one new item to your recycling that you have previously not recycled, like printer cartridges. (Staples recycles old printer cartridges and you can download mailing labels from HP to send back used ones.)  Recycle plastic bags at Whole Foods.  I keep a bag handy to store plastic bags and take them to Whole foods whenever I shop there.  Simple!  If you are not already bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, then start doing so.  If you are, add reusable produce bags, or bring reusable shopping bags on other errands as well.

Lower your carbon footprint one day a week by walking, biking or taking public transportation instead of driving.  Replace your light bulbs with energy-efficient CFL or LED lights.  One day a week eat vegetarian, a completely local dinner or even a raw meal. Try cutting out processed foods from your diet.  One day a week cut down on your appliance and technology usage or better yet, don’t use them at all.

Replace one of your conventional cleaning products with a non-toxic one.  Check out greenwithbetsy.com for simple recipes to make at home.  They work just as well and you will feel good knowing you are not breathing in toxins!

It only takes three weeks to make or break a habit, so start  your green resolutions now and they will soon become part of your daily routine. You may find you lose that weight and are exercising more simply by being more green!

Happy 2013!!!

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Wet Wednesday, Snowy Saturday

1-3" Of Snow Possible Saturday

As you can see in the story below, Cape Cod should escape any snowfall in today's meteorological entertainment. Although the snow line could move East and we'd get something on the lawn, bet on any snow we get overnight into Thursday to vanish as it hits the ground. We should be all rain by 4 AM or so, and the rain should be heavy at times.

We have a Storm Warning and a High Wind Watch today trough tomorrow afternoon, as winds of 15-20 MPH from the NE could jump up to 20-30 mph, with the stray gust over 60 mph now and then.

There is a mild chance of some coastal flooding today and tomorrow at high tide, as the winds should be high and the storm should be fairly close to us. We have no warnings for that yet, but they could be forthcoming.

We'll get an inch of rain out of this storm (depending on wherever the snow line sets up, you might be looking at a foot-plus of snow from this system. The last of the rain should fall Thursday night. Friday will by dry, but still very windy.

However, Saturday could give us our first REAL snow of the year on Cape Cod, or at least the Upper Cape. You can see for yourself here. It'll start Saturday night and snow into Sunday morning. Forecasts  If this continues to be the case, we'll get a Winter Weather Advisory issued Saturday for this storm.

This won't be a blockbuster, bread/milk storm by any means, but we have had it easy the past few years. We're not Southerners yet, but there will be some of us who are slow to shift back into snowy dealings. Be careful, which includes being prepared to encounter people who aren't being careful.

Cape Cod hasn't had serious snow on her since early last winter, so this should rule. I got the kid a sled for Christmas, so at least I'll rule.

We'll be back with an update as the conditions become more clarified.

Weaned On A Pistol

                                                                      Wayne LaPierre, Weaned On A Pistol

                                               "If it's crazy to put more guns in schools, then call me crazy."

                                                                         - Wayne LaPierre, Dec. 23, 2012

As Alice Roosevelt Longworth famously said about Calvin Coolidge, he looked like he was weaned on a pickle.  But Coolidge, old "Silent Cal," at least kept his inane conservative commentary to a terse minimum.

          Today, however, and even further to the right than Coolidge, we get to enjoy the mad ravings  of National Rifle Association V.P. Wayne LaPierre ad nauseam.  LaPierre sounds like he was weaned on a pistol.  To right-wing crazies like him, all goodness and mercy, all milk of human kindness can only come from the barrel of a gun.  In his one inch wide  rifle-scope weltanschauung, "(t)he only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

          That quote was the sum and substance of LaPierre's rationale for the official N.R.A. statement he delivered on December 21, 2012, responding on behalf of the American gun manufacturers to the obscene massacre of first and second graders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Middletown, Connecticut.  His specific prescription for preventing such further gun crazed carnage is:

(W)e need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work — and by that I mean armed security".  

Here, he envisions a nation-wide cadre of retired police officers, military personnel, security guards, etc. being recruited at minimum wage to stand guard in every public school all across the United States. 

            The N.R.A. being a far right political lobbying machine, the program LaPierre envisions as a Second Amendment preventative for grade school massacres would, presumably, be organized under the laws of each individual state to conform with the Tenth Amendment.  To the rank and file in today's right wing GOP and the NRA, after all, the Constitution of the United States has only two provisions that apply to them, the Second and Tenth Amendments. 

          In any event, the operation of public schools is in fact one of those governmental powers that, absent any unconstitutional discrimination like racial segregation, is clearly reserved to the states.  Therefore, to implement such a plan to put guns in schools would inevitably result in a haphazard pastiche of programs, with different hiring standards and different operational protocols from state to state, if not from town to town.  Crazy, indeed.

           Never mind the fact that retired policemen, servicemen and security guards are not per se immune from the sort of demons that drove young Adam Lanza to murder twenty tiny schoolchildren with legally purchased high capacity firearms.  The logically insane conclusion to LaPierre's prescription for more guns in schools has already emerged in Harrold, Texas.  David Thweatt, Superintendant of the Harrold  Independent School District, has the teachers packing guns because they don't have the money to pay for armed guards.

          Responding to criticism of the N.R.A.'s absolutism on behalf of the American Arms industry, LaPierre blames everyone and everything else other than guns for Sandy Hook and the recent spate of other mass killings. Meanwhile he completely ignores the fact that on any given day,  more gun related killings occur one-by-one, at an average of twenty-seven per day, all across America.

          Mental health is one of LaPierre's specific scapegoats, where the right-wing, "freedom loving" solution is to lock up all the crazy people.  Just reopen the insane asylums and put them away for good, so LaPierre and his real American, gun loving patriots can enjoy all the wondrous joys of owning and shooting high-capacity assault rifles with armor piercing bullets, as well as bazookas, rocket launchers, machine guns, etc., free from all those oppressive, "big government"  regulations.

         Don't even mention expanding the social safety net by increasing outpatient mental health services paid for with taxes that might take a few dollars away from the billions spent annually in the name of "national defense" to support the arms industry.  Heaven forbid!  And never, ever, mention mental health screening as an essential component for acquiring a mandatory gun permit for the purchase of firearms.  Why that would be downright un-American!  Just ask Mr. LaPierre, and he'll surely dream up some more inane Second Amendment drivel to explain why.

            LaPierre is actually correct, however,  in raising the issue of mental health.  But, as clearly appears from the Sandy Hook incident, it's not simply about isolated disturbed individuals like Adam Lanza getting guns.  The real mental health problem driving this issue is the paranoid survivalist mentality that compelled Nancy Lanza to purchase the guns her son used to kill both her and twenty-two other people.

          Those guns were purchased legally, sure, but the impetus for Nancy Lanza was a crazy survivalist mindset that is essentially the same as LaPierre's solution of putting armed guards in every school, "good" guns against "bad guns," and the same as Superintendant Thweatt's idiotic solution of arming school teachers.

          Survivalists like Nancy Lanza, people who feel driven to purchase high capacity weapons for self defense against unspecified enemies or threats, clearly suffer from paranoid personality disorder.  As defined in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic & Statistical Manual, Paranoid Personality Disorder is characterized by an individual's belief that others intend to exploit, injure or deceive him even where there is no evidence to support such belief.  DSM-IV-TR, 301.0.

          That irrational, paranoid survivalist mentality, meanwhile, is driven and accommodated by the N.R.A. on behalf of its client base in the American arms industry.  The more crazy people out there in organized groups like the Connecticut Survivalist Alliance being pandered to by the N.R.A., and the  more and more assault rifles and armor piercing bullets s0ld to them, the greater the profits for Bushmaster, Remington, Smith & Wesson, Browning, Henry Repeating Arms, Thomson Center Arms, Marlin and Winchester, to name just a few of the 114 or so gun manufacturer's in our "peace-loving" United States.  Meanwhile, the CSA's motto is admittedly paranoid: "Hated by many, loved by few."

           Wayne LaPierre says that if putting guns in school is crazy, then we should call him crazy, but as crazy as his words are, the reality is that he is quite sane and cynically calculating as a spokesman for the American arms industry.  The idea of putting guns in schools is indeed crazy, just like all the other paranoid, survivalist notions the N.R.A. panders to in order to help Bushmaster and other companies sell guns.  But the word for those corporate persons, and their N.R.A. lobbyists like LaPierre is not "crazy."  They are corrupt, if not technically criminal.

           The issue is not defined by the N.R.A.'s simplistic "guns don't kill people" slogan. People with guns kill people, and they kill far more people than anyone could dream of with karate chops, knives or any other method that requires in-close contact.  By enabling murders to kill more people more easily from a safe distance away, guns indeed kill many more victims than any number of people could do by their own hands alone. 

           The gun is thus an accessory to murder, in every sense of the word.  Meanwhile, the gun manufacturers and their N.R.A. spokesmen like LaPierre, are de facto accessories before the fact to the gun crimes that are committed every day of the year all across America, not just the isolated massacres that occur far too regularly as in Sandy Hook Elementary School earlier this month.

           Wayne LaPierre was weaned on a pistol, for sure.  But what America desperately needs is to be weaned off  the insane Second Amendment gun-rights mentality that his N.R.A. and the arms manufacturers are so diligently pushing in the name of "freedom" for corporate profits.  

           Not everyone who purchases a high capacity automatic weapon is a crazy, disturbed person like Adam Lanza we are told.  They say that lots and lots of folks like to take their high capacity automatic rifles out to the local shooting range for target practice, rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat! They say this with a perfectly straight face, as if that sort of mindless "fun" could somehow rise to the level of  an individual Constitutional right sufficient to stand against the clear and compelling state interest to ban all such weapons as a matter of public safety under the principle of substantive due process. 

           After all, if we can outlaw shooting heroin as recreation we can surely outlaw shooting large-capacity automatic weapons with armor piercing bullets just for fun and recreation.    Drug abusers are another LaPierre scapegoat by the way, but no strung out drug addict with a hypodermic needle in his arm has ever gone into an elementary school and murdered twenty children and two teachers. Only a crazy, paranoid gun addict would do something like that.  

A Few Fun Christmas Facts

Annoy Your Family And Friends!!

Merry Christmas to all of you from all of us here at Cape Cod Today! Get yourself the cool side of Yuletide! Open those presents, sing those carols, dash through that snow (just some car window snow in Buzzards Bay), regift that fruitcake, spin that Dreidel... you know, do what you do.

Our gift to you will be this article, where we share Christmas facts and myths with you. We don't need a gift from you, because you just reading this column is the best gift we (Stacey, Jesse, Abdullah, Ellen and I) could ever ask for. If you didn't read this, we'd just be howling into the Abyss... not a pleasant thought to have on Christmas morning.

I'd like to sit back and craft the next great Christmas story. I think there is room in the market for many more, especially with Christmas owning the media from about October through the post-Christmas sales. I want to do this for reasons both sentimental and financial.

If I could even fake playing an instrument well, I'd crank out as many Christmas songs as I could. If one catches the eye of the public... Buzzamo!  Abdullah knows the guy who wrote the song, "Christmas Wrapping," I think from New York or somewhere. Every January of every year including this next one, that guy gets a nice royalty check for work he did back in 1980 or so. Christmas, everlasting and eternal.

Unfortunately, the guy who wrote Christmas Wrapping (I know a girl sang it, but a guy wrote it) has talent, and I'm a hack sportswriter. It's not meant for me to spin a timeless yarn. However, I can entertain you this morning. I'm not that intelligent, but I do know my limitations.

We do a lot of research to build this column, and we do it well. We peruse Wikipedia so that you don't have to. We'll do so with a nose for the odd. You all know that Jesus was born in a manger to a Virgin mother and so forth... but maybe you don't know that Rudolph's father was Donner, or that the first images of Santa in the US looked a lot like that Bluto guy who Popeye used to fight. We do know, which is why we write and you read.

We might make some things up now and then- for instance, we have no proof that Jesus was born with a beard- but we do so with the intent of entertaining you. It is our gift trou you, even if it pisses you off.

So, without any further ado, let's get to the facts:

- Was Jesus white? Was he the brother man or the Other man?

Nothing in the Bible says, "Jesus was 6'2", 225, six pack abs, hair like a guitarist, Big-Papi skin tone" and so forth. Nothing at all is tied to Jesus, other than that he was Jewish.... which means he can look like anyone from Jackie Mason to Hall of Famer Rod Carew (he converted). Even that is not being general enough.

We tend to think of Jesus as he was portrayed by painters from the Renaissance... white, long-haired, tall, thin, and so forth.  If I say "Jesus" and you don't immediately envision a painting, you probably see someone who resembles Johnny "looks like Jesus, throws like Mary" Damon or that dude from The Spin Doctors.

Yet Genesis speaks of the Messiah having hair like wool, and feet like brass burned in a furnace. You can trace a line from Abraham to Issac to Jacob to Moses that ends with Moses being able to pass himself off as the pharoah's grandson. I learned that from Boogie Down Productions, but most of the pertinent stuff turned out to be true when I went and Googled it.

It gets tiring very quickly when you research this, so I thought of an Out. I took a deep breath, lit a bong, and thought, "How would Jesus answer this question?" The answer that came to me was, "Should it matter what color I was?"

Works for me.

Yes, Rudolph's father was Donner.

Donner wasn't proud of it, as red noses are considered to be a birth defect in the North Pole. It makes sense Darwinistically. It's very tough to hide from the Abominable Snowman in a landscape of white when you have an emergency beacon for a nose, and that (fleeing from Bumbles) takes up 364.5 days of the year in the North Pole. Flying a sled takes a half day, tops... and, to be honest, you only really need Rudolph on stormy Christmas nights. Although it can lead to great glory, having a red nose is a pain in the ass to an extent of 364.5:1 on non leap-years.

Still, Donner (his paternity of Rudolph was clearly revealed in the opening part of the animated Rudolph special, not by Maury Povich with some ghetto reindeer girl going "You ain't sh*t, motherfu**er" at him) tried to hide Rudolph's nose, like when Chuck Lorre hides his name.

While it isn't discussed on any specials or anything, the question of why Donner sired a child with such a genetic defect has been discussed in some of the lower parts of the Internet. Donner may have been involved in some sort of MK-ULTRA government program, or maybe even dosed with LSD against his will.

We'll never know, unless I get motivated and write a Christmas special that ABC airs which features reindeer being fed LSD and put through MK-ULTRA training. We'd have some Beastiality mid-show, and then progress to birth defects and social isolation. I know I'll have trouble selling this to ABC because, every time I start writing about Rudolph with that psychological base, Rudolph ends up being involved in a school shooting.

- Saint Nicholas is from Turkey

He was actually a Greek in a region Greek in heritage, but he is from what is now Turkey. His reputation for gift-giving led to his association with Santa. Nicholas favored poor children, and one of his better-known moves was a gift of dowries to three poor girls so that they would not have to become prostitutes.

This is why the girl who sings Santa Baby always gets coal... but, to be honest, some girls like getting coal, kids. It doesn't make sense now, but it does once you've lived hard for a few years. You meet a lot of interesting people, and learn very valuable life lessons.

But I digress...

- Why isn't there football today?

The NFL regular season wraps up next Sunday. Then, the playoffs begin.

Concurrently, the NFL usually plays games on Sunday. They do Monday Night and Thursday Night and even Saturday Night now and then, but Sunday is an effective base.

College bowl season is upon us, and the right college game can turn off 40 million TVs from the NFL network if, say, Florida plays Texas.

Finally, Christmas doesn't fall on any particular day of the week. It's December 25th, whatever day of the particular year December 25th is. I mean "whatever day..." as in "Tuesday" or something... I understand that December 25th falls on December 25th, uinless it doesn't for some reason.

If the NFL commits itself to Christmas games, it means that a team could be playing on Wednesday one week and then getting 10 days off, while some other team that plays the following Sunday might just get 7 days off the week before a playoff game. The NFL likes things to be fair, you see.

Anyhow, enjoy those NBA games. The Celtics tip off at noon.

- Coca-Cola didn't invent Santa, nor did they invent his Look.

Santa was appearing in red fur-fringed velvet on soda ads for White Rock Ginger Ale before Coca-Cola began to feature him as a pitchman.

Santa adopted his red look primarily because of A Visit From Saint Nicholas, which you may know as The Night Before Christmas. Thomas Nast's drawings also were very influential. This poem is also where Santa got the flying reindeer, landed on the roof, entered houses through chimneys, had a bag full of toys, was an elf, ascended back up the chimney, etc...

AVFSN didn't invent all of those things, but it collected them in a form that became popular. Things sort of handled themselves after that.

Prior to AVFSN, Santa was dressed in green, in brown, in robes like a Bishop, and many other forms.

- Back-up Reindeer

The reindeer, like Santa himself, appear to be immortal.

The original 8 (Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, and various spellings of Donner and Blitzen) were introduced to the public in AVFSN. Rudolph came around in 1939, and he was indeed invented as a pitchman for the Montgomery Ward department store.

However, canon does introduce several vital reindeer who live in the North Pole (a Nast creation, I believe... a lot of the world feels that Santa lives in northern Finland). They appear to serve no other purpose than breeding and Steak Night For Elves.... cattle wouldn't survive at that longitude, and elves gotta eat, the same as anyone else.

I suppose that the non-flying reindeer could be used to haul Santa's toy-building supplies, and not used to feed the Elves. I don't want to end this on a bad note or anything.

Other reindeer include Fireball, who is Rudolph's friend until Rudolph's birth defect is revealed, and Scratcher, who is Rudolph's foil in that special where he teams up with Frosty.

South Park's Christmas special introduced reindeer named Steven, Patches, and Montel.

I'm not sure that the other reindeer are immortal, or if they can fly. There is a lot of shadowy talk in the reindeer world about performance-enhancing drugs, blood-doping, bio-engineering, and so forth. I should add that each famous reindeer may just breed 11 months a year, and several dozen offspring may compete to become the next Blitzen when the current Blitzen either gets old or dies. We may be on Dasher 198.0 for all I know... which isn't that much, to be brutally honest.

- Jesus was born with a beard

When you're divine, you don't have to brag. But Jesus is in that rare group of men's men (Chuck Norris, ZZ Top, Brett Keisel, General Longstreet etc...) who were born with beards.

Santa is also in this group, but it was Jesus who made it cool. Even agnostics agree with me on this.

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A Holiday Wish

I would like to wish all CCToday readers a wonderful, healthy holiday and New Year. 

As we continue to struggle with the horrific event in Newtown, and wait to see if our President and Congress can exercise an iota of responsible leadership, we here on the Cape are fortunate for so many reasons. 

I thank all those individuals that I have had the opportunity to work with in various non profits in health care, the arts, community and human services. The dedication I see every day from truly selfless people is heartwarming.

Be well and Best Regards, Bruce.

Cape Cod To Get Snow For Christmas?

White Christmas More Likely On Upper Cape...

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and children of all ages.... the chances of some snow for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are very good for us, at least on the upper and mid-Cape.

The possibility of 1-2" of snow is strong enough that the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the SE Massachusetts coastal plain.

Things could be slippery tomorrow, so drive all careful and stuff. That advisory includes a warning about possible Icing. The snow will be a bit heavier (2-"4") as you head inland, so plan accordingly before you go over the river and through the woods.

We'll be back either tonight or tomorrow with an update and, if you've been Nice and not Naughty, a radar shot.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!!!

Gun Fun

NFL Betting Lines And Selections

We Like New England In A Rout...

12/23 1:00 ET New England -14.5 At Jacksonville 49

 Jacksonville is pretty much the armpit of the NFL, and you have my permission to pounce on that point spread. A week off a humbling loss, New England should be out for blood.

Jackie's best player (Maurice Jones-Drew) has already quit on the team, and will probably be somewhere else next year. As for the team, I'm amazed that they aren't in LA right now.

I'd bet New England with money in both hands, although Jacksonville's rotten QB (Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne, depending on the week) may pile up some stats on us. Arizona and Seattle didn't look that good before they played us, either.... and look how that ended up.

For that reason, I'd avoid the over/under and just bet the Pats being more than 2 TDs better than a desolate Jacksonville team.

New England, 37-13

 

  12/23 1:00 ET At Green Bay -12.5 Tennessee 46

 Here's another Sunday rout, featuring a burgeoning Packers team against the team that was lucky to get by the Sanchez Jets. Green Bay may meet the over/under on their own.

Green Bay, 41-7

 

12/23 1:00 ET At Carolina -8 Oakland 46

 At some point, Cam Newton is going to do a running Superman dive over the offensive and defensive lines to score a touchdown, and every Raiders fan is going to be like, "Didn't we draft that guy? Oh wait, our #1 overall QB pick got hooked on sizz-urp and is now out of the NFL." That over/under seems high to this scribe, who admittedly has  been outside in the cold all day.

Carolina, 21-14

 

12/23 1:00 ET At Miami -4.5 Buffalo 41.5

 Another year, another rotten Buffalo team. At least Miami wins now and then. Buffalo needs to lose the coach and maybe lose the GM. Even chock full of drugs, I could guide a team into the playoffs once every 20 years or so just by blind luck. I think Buffalo last contended in the early 90s or so. I do like them here, however.

Buffy, 17-15

 

12/23 1:00 ET At Pittsburgh -3.5 Cincinnati 43

 Cin City has been hot lately, but the Steel has traditionally been the kick in the pants to the stiffy that is the Bengals.

Pittsburgh, 20-17

 

12/23 1:00 ET Indianapolis -7 At Kansas City 41.5

 "Indianapolis" sounds like something you get a shot to rid yourself of, and Kansas City isn't actually in Kansas. What's not to like?

Indy, 17-9

 

12/23 1:00 ET At NY Jets -2.5 San Diego 40.5

 The Jets are winding up a lost season, just benched the QB they mortgaged the fr(S)anchise for, skipped right past the backup QB they traded a good draft pick for, and are starting the 3rd string guy.... and the Chargers are favored to lose to them.

San Diego, 9-6

 

12/23 1:00 ET At Dallas -3 New Orleans 51.5

 I haven't bet on Dallas since they got whallopped (?) on Thanksgiving, and I don't plan to start here.

Saints, 27-10

 

12/23 1:00 ET Washington -6.5 At Philadelphia 44.5

 Just the other day and just like the guy on ESPN, I was questioning RGIII's blackness. Having a nickname with Roman numerals in it still outweighs being engaged to a white girl, however. I'm just a white kid from Duxbury, but I vote that he retains his ghetto pass until he refers to his black peers as "those people."

Washington, 27-7

 

12/23 1:00 ET At Tampa Bay -3 St. Louis 43.5

 I've been betting St. Louis for no good reason a lot lately, and the trend continues this week.

St. Looey, 14-13

 

12/23 1:00 ET At Houston -7.5 Minnesota 44

 The two best RBs in the league (Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster) square off, with AP needing about 300 yards over two games to break the single season rushing record... about 11 months after he tore up a knee. It's a shame that his QB blows like the mighty North wind.

Houston, 28-14

 

12/23 4:05 ET At Denver -13 Cleveland 44.5

 I'd take Denver by more than double that spread.

Denver, 34-7


12/23 4:25 ET Chicago -5.5 At Arizona 36.5

 Rather than play their 3 awful QBs, Arizona should just push out the pass-throwing machine that they use in practice and have that play QB. Larry Fitzgerald could set it to throw whatever pass he wanted it to throw, it couldn't be injured, would ask for no salary, and would actually solve a lot of problems until Arizona can draft someone good to man the position.

Chicago, 14-0

 

12/23 4:25 ET NY Giants -2.5 At Baltimore 47

 If dude hit that field goal on us in the playoffs last year, this would have been the last Super Bowl. 'Giants would have won that one, too... by this score.

NYG, 20-17


12/23 8:30 ET San Francisco -1 At Seattle 39

 If you went to bed before the Niners gave up 4 consecutive clutch time touchdowns to almost lose a game they were routing their opponent in for 35 minutes, you'd have seen them curb-stomping the best team in the AFC. Although the Sports Desk still favors the Giants in the NFC, the Giants are slumping while SF is dominant.

San Francisco, 30-21

 

The Wizards of odd.

I am old, but not so old that I forget big events. I remember on November 6 there was an election where the majority of voters, much to the surprise of a very sure Republican Party, re-elected President Obama. They may not have supported everything he did (I know I didn't), but they did think that his solutions to problems were the better choice, and if given more support and less obstruction from the Republicans, his plans might just work. 

The Republicans might have retained the majority in the House, but a number of extreme conservatives were replaced by those who were seen, or were hoped to be, a little less rigid and a little more reasonable.

Polls showed that the majority of Americans, somewhere in the over 60% grouping, thought that the top 2% of the population needed to pay taxes at the same rate as the regular guy.

The Republican led House was considered the worst ever, with an historically low approval rating.

The president's approval rating, in the meantime, was showing an increase.

So ignoring these realities, the Republicans have decided that they will do what they want, the way they want, and to hell with the people and the election results. They thumb their noses at the American people, and I could be wrong, but I don't think the majority of the American public like that.

We voted. The republicans need to accept that, not ignore it.

 

Open Your Cape Verde Christmas Present Early!

Exclusive Online Showing of Hit and Run History's adventure to Cape Verde this week only

Cape Cod's intrepid Gumshoe Historians have a present for you and they want you to open it right now.

Dreary December Cape Cod weather go you down? Take a break from hectic holiday madness and ride shotgun to history in this adventure to the desert archipelago off the West Coast of the Sahara.

Hit and Run History is on the trail of the Columbia Expedition -- the first American voyage 'round the world. In their previous season, they followed the genesis of this global trading scheme from its genesis in the parlors of post-Revolutionary War Boston down to the shores of Pleasant Bay, and the boyhood home of John Kendrick, who would command the Expedition.

Having shoved off from the wharf, the crew of Columbia makes their way across the Atlantic for the first stop on their three-year voyage: the islands of Cape Verde. Forging swords, climbing volcanos and dodging dengue-ridden mosquitos -- there's plenty of adventure packed into this FREE one-hour viewing.

Available now through Christmas, "this is our way of giving back to our fans," says HRH creator and host Andrew Buckley. "We have so much more to show this coming year, from the Falklands to Cape Horn and Chile. But before we got to that, we knew had to get out two previous episodes."

Re-edited into a five-part online series, the pilot for Hit and Run History: The Columbia Expedition premiered on local television and across the web. "When I realized my mother had bought a smart TV and could watch us on our channels on Vimeo, YouTube or Blip, it was obvious where we needed to be," says Buckley. "Everywhere. First our pilot and now, for a limited time around Christmas, our Cape Verde adventure."

Featuring music by Boston's Shea Rose as well as Sidewalk Driver and young Cape Verdean guitar phenom Noah Andrade, this second chapter hits Boston, Cape Cod, New York and the islands of Maio, Fogo and Santiago.

Once the run online concludes for that episode, HRH plans to release selected shorts online. But they will save the whole episode for release in full HD for sale in the first half of 2013. Then HRH will continue with release of their Falklands and Cape Horn series. Buckley is likes the timing coinciding with the most auspicious part of Columbia's journey.

"Just in time for the 225th anniversary of the arrival of the first American ships on the West Coast," observes Buckley.

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Donate To The Salvation Army

"Bells Will Be Ringing...."

The Salvation Army was formed in 1865's London to deal with the huge poverty issues there. They got the "Army" part because they soon had enough volunteers that they could form an Army out of them. "I'm not volunteer, I'm a regular," said one Army founder, and- with the organization built along a military model- they soon became known as The Salvation Army.

They have officers and soldiers, in a sense. I'm just a soldier, myself... Abdullah and Stacey, too. I've been with them for a few years, I'm probably a Corporal by now, maybe even a Sergeant because I'm big and enjoy shouting at people. I want to be something that outranks Colonel, so I can boss Stacey's husband The Colonel around, but that probably isn't going to happen.

Either way, the Army does a lot of good in the world. Locally (Cape Cod is represented by the Hyannis Corps), they feed poor, help the homeless and needy, get clothes and toys for kids, and all sorts of nice-people stuff. The Salvation Army is also a church (seperated from the Methodists), and they offer church services to those who wish to attend.

The Army gained a great part of their American goodwill via their relief efforts during the Gavleston Hurricane and the San Francisco Earthquake at the turn of the previous century. They've been at it ever since, with their recent efforts following Hurricane Sandy garnering them more honor.

They are America's 4th most popular charity, and trail only the Mayo Foundation and the YMCA in the Largest Charity By Revenue List. The sound of ringing bells or even the Salvation Army Band is considered to be as iconic to Christmas time as just about anything non-Jesus or non-Santa. The bell ringers probably outranks Egg Nog (who really drinks that stuff?), Mistletoe (much like Halloween, Misteltoe will probably fall prey to Political Correctness in our lifetimes), and even the black-nosed reindeer (s?).

Come to think of it, the bell-ringers are probably Vice President of Christmas Audio, trailing only Carols/Christmas music as the leading sound of the holidays.

 You most likely know them through their bell-ringing kettle campaign. They have over 25,000 volunteers (the Army also has 16000 officers and 1.2 million soldiers... a larger field army than Iraq opposed the UN coalition with in Gulf War I) working American kettles. They had expenditures of $2.6 billion, and helped over 32 million Americans. My numbers are 2004, but it's a good barometer.

They're outside of every big store. You know the routine... you drop some Moolah in the kettle, you get a "Merry Christmas" in return, and some old person gets Meals On Wheels or something of that nature.

Today and Monday are the last days you can donate to the Kettle Campaign. They don't kettle (v.) this Sunday or on Christmas.. they are a church, after all.

"OMG, it's the food troll...
you have to give this guy a dollar if you want to get into the Stop & Shop."
I'll be working a kettle at the Sagamore Christmas Tree Shop today and Monday. Come on by and say hello, maybe hook a brother up with some Kettle Love. If I ever wrote something here that upset you, come on down and punch me in the face... just donate first, or I'll hit back.

Stacey and Abdullah help me out now and then. Stacey is bubbly, and usually hands out treats. Abdullah is a terribly intimidating man, and he usually can get money from people  just by staring at them as they approach the store's foyer. Stacey's babysitter, upon encountering Abdullah, remarked "OMG, it's the food troll... you have to give this guy a dollar if you want to get into the Stop & Shop."

You gotta come stronger than that, Mitt.... if I have a struggling Mom dragging 4 kids along who can hit the kettle off with a $20 bill (I get that more than you think I would, usually with a comment along the lines of, "I was younger, I was in a terrible jam, and the Army was the only group who helped me"), the wife of a guy who is so wealthy that he felt his chances to be President would be hurt by it if he were upfront about it should be jamming hundreds into that kettle (or perhaps even writing a check).

Yes, English teachers, I realize how awful that last sentence was.

But at least the Romneys are helping out, so much love to the GOP nominee and Mrs. Romney for their efforts. I mean that, even if I was having a bit of fun with him a paragraph or two above. Sagamore residents should know that the shaggy-bearded homeless guy who hangs around the bridge area actually has made about 10 nickel/dime donations since I got out there this season, starting around Thanksgiving.

Even if you're walking by a kettle and you have 3 cents in your wallet, that small amount would really help. The next time you go to the Wal-Mart and hear a bell ringing, watch the kettle and count both seconds and people. See how many people pass the kettle in, say, one minute of peak shopping time. Multip,y that minute by 60, and multiply that by the average 7-10 hour shift that a bellringer performs... and then imagine all of those people dropping a quarter, a pile o' pennies, etc... you'd feed a lot of poor, especially if a high roller like Mitt comes along now and then and drops a hundred dollar bill into the kettle.

and so we wait

After claiming he was demanding compromise, and threatening the president in the process (not the best approach to win somone over), it turns out that John Boehner has experienced the same Republican brick wall that the president has been dealing with.

Even as progress was being made in the exchanges between the president and John Boehner, Boehner suddenly came up with a Plan B which moved the taxable limit from what the president had wanted up to $1 million. It is not good form to suddenly introduce an alternative if you are really negotiating in good faith. Rather, it implies you have no intention of meeting an agreement based on the existing discussions.

But after going in front of the press with a Chesire Cat smile as if he had done something particularly clever, poor John offered his plan, but had to accept his party's turning it down.

The assumption might be that this rejection was based on its not being all that good for the American people, but along with Plan B already including provisions that will cut taxes for some of the wealthiest Americans while raising them for low- and middle-income families, it did not void the military and domestic spending cuts set to take place in 2013.

Instead they wanted these replaced with cuts to:

food stamps for millions of low-income citizens;

Meals on Wheels which for seniors or other individuals unable to prepare their own food;

funding to health exchanges that will be created under Obamacare

funding for Medicaid included in the same law

Dodd-Frank financial reform law that will have no cost savings, but will make bailouts for banks easier;

Child Tax Credit to the parents of American children, if the parests are undocumented immigrants which punishs the kids.

Eight months ago in May the White House threatened these very cuts calling them “a particular burden on the middle class and the most vulnerable among us”, and yet, days before the “fiscal cliff” they get resurrected.

And this when the majority of Americans think the rich should pay a fair share of taxes, Congress is at an historically low approval rating, and the president's approval rating is rising.

Waiting for the Good Guys: Newtown Haunts Us!

Why?

By Greg O’Brien

 Providence Journal  

Newtown, Ct.—That frightful question "why" has reared its horrific head again.

 Just days before Christmas, 20 little angels at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., were waiting for Santa, then Satan arrived.

 Why?

 The answer perhaps lies far below the classrooms and closets where Sandy Hook students and their courageous teachers huddled in terror, trying to shield themselves, 26 of them in vain, from a semi-automatic, rapid-fire Bushmaster .223 assault rifle and two other handguns, some used at close range inflicting multiple wounds.

 Imagine the horror in these young, innocent hearts, as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, a remote, troubled and mentally ill individual, reloaded his weapons of mass destruction, part of the cache his mother, Nancy, a survivalist, had hoarded for a perceived economic collapse. She reportedly was part of the "Prepper" movement (www.prepper.org), disciples for stashing guns and supplies in anticipation of collective social chaos.

 With networks across the country and branches in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, the Prepper movement seeks to provide "links and information to anyone who wants to prepare for and survive the hard times we are facing." 



 While Nancy Lanza may have prepped for an envisioned economic sundown, she miscalculated the Angel of Darkness. Sure you can call the Newtown tragedy a consequence of deeply seeded mental illness, an abject failure of gun control, the pathetic overreaction of a mother who died at the hands of what she had hoped would protect her, and you would be right on all counts. But that's just touching the surface.

 Look below it.

 I was in Newtown and surrounding areas the night before the shooting. It was a stunning silent night, a holy night--thousands of glimmering Christmas lights, scores of crèches, and a covering of innocence in this most New England of towns where a childhood friend of mine and his family lives. Everything that night was perfect, just perfect, and yet something was wrong, terribly wrong beneath this pastoral veneer -- "an unconscionable evil," as President Obama would later describe in an emotional address at Newtown High School.

 We've seen such unconscionable evil in recent years: on 9/11; at Virginia Tech where 32 senselessly were shot dead; in Aurora, Colo., where 12 were massacred in a movie theater; at Columbine and beyond. Since 1995, there have been 70 incidences of mass student shootings. 

"We can't tolerate this anymore," said Obama. "No single law...can eliminate evil from the world...but that can't be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this."

 To that extent, the president has announced a gun-violence task force and has vowed to send to Congress broad proposals in January for tightening gun control laws and curbing violence. It's an affirmative step, but one first needs to grasp the malevolent nature of this war against evil, whether in school shootings, terrorist bombings, a limited nuclear device, or at the hands of chemical or biological warfare. Wholly unhelpful was National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre prescribed fix. “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he states, proposing an armed guard in every school to curb student shootings, as if schools were akin to airline cockpits.

 Clearly, we're not getting it. As Albert Einstein once observed, "Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God."

 The finest mental-health programs in the nation, the locking up all guns in America, if you put everyone on double doses of Prozac, it would not defeat evil. There has been evil in this world since Cain killed Abel, and there will be evil in the world until Armageddon. If good people can be filled with goodness, and bad individuals with wickedness, can't those who are malleable in their own weaknesses--whether it be fanaticism, addictions or mental illness--be filled in the void with evil.


 Think about it.

 Evil is not confronted with legislation, as helpful as it can be at times; it is confronted in the heart. The seasons of Christmas and Hannukah provide motivation to search the heart. Courageous teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School did so in reassuring their students to "wait for the good guys, they're coming; show me your smile."

 Many fear we are powerless against evil, that there is nothing we can do. Yes, we can, and that's a statement to which moderates, Republicans and Democrats can all say amen! Collectively and individually, we can stand against evil -- Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and others of faith, straight and gay, black and white, Asian and Hispanic, men and women. We can stand firm against those who purvey terrorism, murder, gangs, hate, abuse, violence, discrimination, the entertainment media that makes billions off movies and video games that blur for profit the thinning lines.

 It's a start. We can reach to the heavens, however you want to define the Almighty. A single candle can curse the darkness.

 We can push back, all of us, then wait for the good guys.

 Show me your smile.

Connecticut Slaughter and Religious Decline

Adam Lanza, 20, got out of bed on December 14 and shot his mother dead.  He then took her guns drove to the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  He blasted open the locked doors of the school, entered the classrooms and killed 20 children and six adults.  Then he killed himself.  Early reports describe Lanza as an anti-social young man who was very smart. 

 After the event the usual horde of investigators appeared at the scene: Newsmen, seeking  facts; comforters, helping traumatized children and parents, psychiatrists, who will be probed for their views on the mental health of the shooter, and anti-gun lobbyists who, as usual, will use this tragedy as a reason to castrate the second amendment right of citizens to own guns (Connecticut has a tough gun control system.) 

 These old eyes, made somewhat wiser by the passing years, cynically watch these folks  go about their business.  Newsmen will beat the story to death; surviving children and grieving parents will have a hard time accepting the new reality, some for months and some forever; others will fight it off and struggle on.  Psychiatrists will render opinions that will range all over the place.

Maybe a law or two will pass that will allow politicians to look good and may calm some  citizens.  But, generally speaking, nothing will fundamentally change, and some sicko – at this precise  moment – is planning a caper of his own that will take the lives of at least the same number of innocents.

 Our leaders will examine, probe, legislate and speak about the secondary causes of such violence, but they will ignore the fundamental corrosion in U.S. society that regularly appears, sometimes violently so in places like Newtown, Connecticut.  They will do this because a probe of “social issues” is hot stuff in political-land – stuff that can cost votes that keep political careers alive.

 “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” so said John Adams over 200 years ago.”  Most Americans used to believe him; others never did.  And the “others” are growing in number.

In 1962 (Engels v. Vitale), the Supreme Court ruled that any kind of prayer in public schools is unconstitutional.  One could say that this was the formal beginning of the government’s war against religion.  Knowledge of God and belief in the importance of God’s moral message has declined ever since.  Examples: Almost 40 percent of all children are born out of wedlock in the U.S. – the figure is 70 percent for black kids and 53 percent for Hispanics; church attendance in most traditional religions is way down.    

     

I have a story tell.  Several years ago I taught a dozen 12-year olds in Catholic doctrine.  During the first class, I asked how many had gone to church the previous Sunday.  One boy held up his hand.  I then asked how many wanted to go to church.  Except for one boy, all hands went up.  So what’s wrong? I asked.  The most common answer was: I couldn’t get a ride.”  Obviously, their parents are not churchgoers (Yet, curiously they sent their kids to religious training).

 

The kids from those homes get almost no religious training; they can’t mention God in school; too many have only civil law, the fear of punishment and their own imagination to guide them in making moral decisions.  Mothers, once alert supervisors of youngsters’ behavior, now work at CVS or the local bank, or some more prestigious job, too busy to attend the needs of their children as their potential time-bombers flounder through life, perhaps with the expert direction of a public school teacher who otherwise might teach students how to use contraceptives.   

 No responsible oversight of aberrant behavior; no God in school; no God at home; government at war with religion (and kids see it).  Violence and sex glamorized in the press. 

 Where did Adam Lanza come from?  He came from what is becoming the typical Godless and valueless American home.  And that’s where the next one will come from too.  We hatch them, daily.  They sit alone, brooding in their rooms, waiting for a rage to consume them that will drive them to satanic acts that will make their name infamous for an hour, a day or a month.

END

Bringing Lance's Opus Back Home

The metaphor of light as a thing full of goodness and comfort

I’ve often pondered, well, attempted to ponder really, the sheer scale and magnitude of the speed of light.  Just think about it.  I’ve been sternly interrupted more than once on a drive home from work for exceeding the speed of traffic, besting the suggested fifty-five miles per hour by a few ticks on the speedometer, so I’m no stranger to speed.  But the leap from a relative snail’s pace of eighty (or so) miles per hour to 186,000 miles per second is nearly incomprehensible.  Perhaps that’s why light is used so often as a metaphor for something so powerful and noble.  After all, something that can travel to the West Coast and back 31 times each second is worthy of awe.

That concept, that metaphor of light as a thing full of goodness and comfort has been used in a wide variety of artistic efforts for centuries.  Cathedrals built in Europe hundreds of years ago used light through stained glass to depict some of history’s great moments. Plato’s great work “The Cave” alludes to the very existence of light as central to the development of knowledge. 

Lance Shinkle's "Provincetown side street".
In 1990 he created a Cape Copd comic book.

Falmouth artist Lance Shinkle knows all about that concept.  My first introduction to Lance was back in 1982, as I sat in wonder under starlight and a spotlight and watched this gifted artist etch a beautiful beach scene on a large stone.  The scene included the depiction of a man walking between a couple of jetties along a beautiful shoreline with a glowing sun as the backdrop, lighting the way for the man.  The man depicted by Lance was my Father.  The stone Lance so expertly and meticulously etched was his gravestone on Gifford Street.  More than thirty years later, Lance’s artwork stands as a beacon of the light shone by a short but meaningful life.

Many years after that emotional introduction to Lance’s passionate genius  in the mid-90’s, Lance, light, and I had another encounter, this time accompanied by several additional Falmouthites.  Lance’s opus, his shining masterpiece, is a hand-crafted and meticulously painted carousel, each piece lovingly carved from a block of wood and transformed by a man’s vision, passion and gift into elaborately decorated horses and other elaborate and colorful segments of this beautiful orchestra of amusement.  Working with Lance and what was and is aptly and appropriately called the “Carousel of Light,” a group of Falmouthites, including visionaries and volunteers extraordinaire Rich Sherman,  Grace Bardelis, Art Calfee and Jim Bowen worked to make a permanent home for the Carousel in Falmouth.  We identified a spot of land  behind the Weeks Block near the Chamber of Commerce (and the stinky pumping station) and enlisted the support of the then civic-minded and charitable owner, Betsey Millard, and crafted a plan to have the carousel operating as a Main Street attraction, with all of the proceeds going to cancer research.

When the seeds of good ideas are planted, some grow swiftly into beautiful blossoms, and others take some time to germinate.  Alas, the notion of the Carousel of Light in Falmouth has the potential to indeed be blooming brightly, but its time to blossom was not to be back then.  

That blossom is once again beginning to grow.  A newly revived effort to bring Lance’s opus to Falmouth is gaining momentum.  Rich, Jim and I are reunited in our sense of community and purpose, and are now joined by a multitude of light-loving Falmouthites, including Selectman Pat Flynn, Falmouth Chamber VP Mike Kasparian, public relations exec Elizabeth Sherman (yes, the undying torch of commitment to community has been passed to a new generation), Nick Kleimola of TD Bank, caring volunteers Denise and Don Terry, old friend and local insurance mainstay Don McCarthy, Suzy Bergman from the Falmouth Arts Center, and, of course, Lance. 

The goal is to have the Carousel spinning somewhere in Falmouth by the summer.  Several locations are under consideration, and donations are being gladly accepted to assist with shipping the carousel from its current location in storage in California. The carousel's dormant non-profit, 501(c)(3) status is being reactivated as I write this column.  Donations from supportive Falmouthites can be sent to: Carousel of Light, 894 Main Street, Falmouth, MA  02540. 

The committee is hard at work to have the light shining brightly in our community.  Shakespeare himself said it best:  “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”  Yes, indeed.  Regardless of whether this seed indeed grows into a blossom as I hope it will, the good deeds of dedicated locals working to fulfill the dream and vision of a remarkable craftsman is shining the light of community spirit on us all. 

Barnstable Today: Friday, December 21, 2012

We take a look at Thursday's Town Council meeting - on this episode of Barnstable Today.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at "Barnstable Today"

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All The Way Home I'll Be Wet

Pre-Christmas Soaking On The Way; White Christmas Possible?

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you got all of your important shopping done, because today is going to be a doozy.

The storm that is killing people in the midwest has a really big tail, and that tail is whipping rain and wind at us today. I know that real weather forecasters don't say things like, "really big tail," but I do the best that I can for you people.

Today, as you may know, is the first day of winter. This storm will be all rain, however. There is some talk of Christmas snow, but let's table that until we get through today's blow... "blow" = "wind/rainstorm," not "cocaine." This report would be a lot more needlessly frantic if I were doing cocaine and writing at 6 in the morning.

Expect lots of rain from mid-morning until mid-afternoon, with some showers sticking around even after that. Saturday looks to be cloudy and murky. I don't want to get you all Cialisized or anything, but there is talk in the long range forecast for some snow on Christmas Day. They're saying 1-3", but that could work out as rain for us coastal people. It could be a pain to fly in it, check back with us (or someone else, we're not greedy) for further information if you plan to be travlling.

The National Weather Service has issued several advisories for the region, including a Storm Warning and a High Wind Advisory. Winds should be steady in the 20s today, and could gust past 60 mph today.

Be sure to donate to the Salvation Army today, as those poor SOBs will be standing out in the cold rain with very wind-vulnerable signs and kettles. Hook a brother up, Playboy.

Other than that.... hunker down, and Merry Christmas!

Plans for the weekend?



Depending on your age, you have survived Y2K when there was supposed to have been a total collapse of our computer dependent world and the need to survive the lack of food and the roaming bands of armed hoodlums looking to survive, and prepared to live under Road Warrior conditions.

A number of years later, as people gave away all their worldly possessions and prepared for it, you survived the Rapture that never happened. I was hoping to end up with a Mercedes and a nice house near the beach, but it didn't happen.  There was no Rapture, and I did not get all kinds of stuff I couldn't afford, and could have only owned if it had happened.

And now, here we were again all atwitter because a long dead civilization, which was unable to see the Spanish coming, had somehow predicted the end of the world.

People travelled to France and Russia to be near mountains that were somehow going to be able to protect them from the end. Not sure how advantageous it would be for these people to be floating around on two relatively small mountains where the whole earth had been, but they were willing to spend the money for that chance.

I am sure somewhere down th line there will be another doomsday prediction. The "fiscal cliff" comes to mind. And I am sure there will be those who, not learning from the previous three mispredictions, will go through all those steps they feel will preserve them from the apocalypse.

Rather than get all vklempt about it and worry myself to death, I think I will just continue living and whatever happens happens.

I actually made plans for the weekend.

Not So Fast, Dr. Murgatroyd!

In today’s most disquieting statistic, The Atlantic reports that Johns Hopkins researchers estimate that “every week, 39 foreign objects are left behind in a patient's body, 20 procedures are performed on the wrong body site, and another 20 are the wrong procedure to begin with. And 12.4 percent of surgeons were repeat offenders.”

Note to the surgery bound: keep an eye peeled for that 12.4%.

Act Like Parents

“My kids know about it, but they seem to be OK.”

Overheard at the ice rink in Orleans. Outside the sparsest of snowflakes were changing into a light drizzle, turning what had been a somewhat mild December Sunday into fullbore clammy. Inside the rink at least it was dry. Drier. The snack bar is the only refuge for parents and kids seeking to warm up.

Amidst the French fries and the hot cocoa, talk of the school killings in Newtown drifted through the air. Their kids had returned home from school on Friday before the news hit, and now parents would be sending their kids back tomorrow with this unavoidable topic facing them at the school door.

While there have been several more – what else can we call them – massacres like this over the past decade, the one that really stands out as a turning point is Columbine. That was high school. Although unforgivable, the idea of twisted revenge for bullying is not too difficult to understand.

But what happened at Sandy Hook is of a different order because it was an elementary school. There is no way we can wrap our heads around this enough to give any sort of rational answer to the question: Why?

The debates encountered in the national media and amongst ourselves in social media seem to be quickly falling into two camps. It is about guns. It is about mental health care.

To the latter I will attach the argument that it is about God, or absence thereof from schools, or lack of morality in today’s society or too many single mothers raising loner sons.

My first thought was that we have made a mistake in relocating our police station in Chatham from what was a mere feet from our elementary school to a couple miles away. We can be relieved that the fire and rescue personnel are still adjacent, but their mission is different.

If there is any validity to the argument that if only someone at the school had a gun, the gunman wouldn’t have gotten as far as he did, then what about a whole building of cops right next door? If there is any validity in the idea of deterrence, that people who rampage wantonly tend to target those least likely to defend themselves, then we ought to be siting our schools next to our police stations. For some reason, it once seemed like the right idea.

As for God not being there because he wasn’t allowed due to laws against school prayer, I must answer that with all due respect, when innocent children are dying, the God you worship follows the laws of men? To quote The Hulk in the movie “The Avengers”: “Puny God.”

If that’s your religion, I definitely don’t want my child learning it. Perhaps you have them mixed up. Sounds more like the cruelty of the other guy.

But that doesn’t get to the reason. We seem to want an answer. Is it guns? Is it lack of mental health? As if it couldn’t be both.

As if when a person gets into a car accident, it has to be that they had one drink. Not that their tires were bald, or they were speeding, or they were talking on the phone, or they were over 80, or the meeting ran late and was dark, or a deer ran out of the woods, or the roads were icy and the roads hadn’t been sanded, or… Can you see that scenario? Can you see yourself in it? Then please answer the question: Why did you hit that tree? What one reason caused it?

I do not believe that easy access to guns alone caused this. Guns are on the streets of all our major cities, where there are plenty of defenseless people. Yet we do not have mass shootings every day.

I do not believe mental health counseling alone would have helped prevent this tragedy. Psychiatrists and psychologists and social workers, even the most expert, are not clairvoyant. They are not human seismographs.

What I believe is that this tragedy, and perhaps many of those in the recent past, could have been prevented had these seriously mentally ill people received the kind of health care they needed and not had easy access to weapons that take little physical effort or thinking to inflict mortal harm so quickly.

I hold with the view that the entirety of the Second Amendment is valid. Meaning, that the right to bear arms by the public is only in relation to “a well-regulated militia.” At the moment, the sale of arms across this country ranges from highly regulated private ownership to easy purchase at gun shows with a right to carry it concealed. But nowhere do I see it attached to a duty to the common defense.

With no explicit obligation to that responsibility so clearly and simply stated in the Constitution, it is no wonder the Supreme Court majority of strict constructionists is so hostile to gun control.

If the ownership of a gun meant you were now part of a local government organization with a chain of command and fixed schedules for drills, many rugged individualists would pass. If it meant you could not get a gun or ammunition without being a member, it would cut down on the number of guns. If it meant you only got as many guns as your unit said you needed – not unlike the uniformed services – that would cut down on the number ofguns. If it meant regular physical and psychological screenings, we could keep the guns away from the cowardly and deranged. We might actually find people in need of help.

It would also mean that every single person who owned a gun would have to keep it as safe as any soldier, marine, sailor, airman or Coast Guardsmen who is issued a weapon – locked up and away from anyone who might pose a threat. A toddler. A distraught spouse. A burglar. An unstable family member. If you do not keep it safe, you get court martialed.

One thing to keep in mind, though: It is an amendment, not a commandment. It can be changed if it becomes too impractical.

But a strict observation of the Second Amendment would not be enough. Many of us have read one mother’s plea for help, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” In this blog posting, one mother details the struggles she faces with a mentally ill teen whom she sees as the next possible perpetrator. Our system is not equipped to handle them until they break the law, until it is too late.

But punishment after the crime is not the answer. It cannot be left as our only option. It certainly is not available to the families of the victims of Sandy Hook.

If it means easier institutionalization, then we need to do that better than the nightmares reinforced by “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The residential settings for halfway homes that were supposed to materialize in the ’70s and ’80s never worked out. People just didn’t want the recently released living next to them based on founded or unfounded fears. We need to relieve families of the mentally ill of the burden of care, which clearly can be too much to handle – for the good of us all.

These are but two possible means to address the problem. We want answers, but we also want solutions. Pragmatism is the answer. Let’s try some new things. This is how parents behave.


Read this and Andy's other columns online at The Cape Cod Chronicle

 

Appreciating Cape Cod Daylight & Devilish Broiled Lobster Tails

      Well it's that time of year, yup when sunrises and sunsets seem to come way past when I get up in the morning and and goes down way before I go to bed. Somehow something here just does not seem right. I heard my radio DJ announcer talking about this earlier this afternoon and it got me thinking. All these years vacationing here has always been in late July and the month of August when the sun is up nice and early and stays that way till well into the evening when I want to be out having fun. And especially now that I am working being able to get out of my house and still see daylight, as I go down along the shore and take a walk down by the water's edge. But December are you kidding me. I'm lucky I can find my way around the house not to mention if I wonder out of my house after work. I have a good feeling how a sight impaired person must feel, as I stumble around the yard tripping over stumps that I did not know where there. With the sun comes the warming temperatures and not so frigged winds that seem to want to howl around the corners of my humble abode. With the sun come, ok let's face it, no heater running, I don't have to use the lights until at least 9 pm and if I want to go out someplace I don't need to bundle up like my grandfather use to after he moved back north after living in Florida for 7 years. Summer, I want Summer Sun, Summer warmth and Summer Sunrises and Sunsets. 

      As a child sometimes, no most of the time we take for granted these little things, getting up with nothing more to do than go out and play in the sand box called Cape Cod and just have that warm beaming down on us. Even as adults I think we forget sometimes how really blessed we are in the warmer months and what we have to enjoy. And not until these cold, dark, damp, raw, windy December nights do we remember. You might think it was just the DJ that brought this to my mind tonight, but actually I have thinking about it for several weeks. And I finally decided to check the Sunrise/Sunset calendar for good old South Dennis. To my surprise from December 4th through December 13th is the bottom of the barrel for early sunsets. It finally bottomed out or should I say topped out at 4:10 pm. Ya 4:10, that is just after lunch time for some. I haven't even had time to shut the computer off and get my walking shoes on I can't see where I'm going. But even though winter solstice isn't till this Friday, December 21st, I can see by the calendar that the times have already started to lengthen in the afternoon. In the last 6 days it has already increased by 3 minutes in the evening. And although we continue to loose it in the morning, but the looks of things from between December 31st and January 8th will be our bottoming out for sunrise and than it starts to go back up. Compare this to August 1 when sunrise is at  5:35 am and sunset is at  7:59 pm. Do you see why I and a whole bunch of others are going through sunlight withdraw. I know that other areas of the country all have this same thing. However I don't think it is quiet as drastic as ours, especially in the mornings. Remember we on the Cape stick way out in the ocean about as far east as the stars go. Ok so there are a few folks in Maine that get it even worse than us, but even the rest of the east coast stays lighter in the evening longer making the day seem like it's longer. 
      Ok, I'm not complaining complaining,, I'm just making an observation between what Summer time fun brings to the Cape and the start reality of winter change is here. Do I wish I was somewhere else? No on your life, what I have been able to experience has been fun, outstanding and I wouldn't change ner' a thing, Ok so I wouldn't mind giving up the nice little bill from National Grid Gas, weee, and to think we haven't even had it bad yet. Oh well, put another log on the fire, pull on another sweater and through another blanket on the bed. And hope that you have a good snuggle partner. Do we take these little things for granted 9 months out of the year? Unfortunately we do, but I don't think that will be for me this coming year, especially when I can get out there during low time in the day light and do some clamming. Or just be able to go out for walks after the computer gets shut off and not feeling like you have to be a walking reflector dummy if you want to go out. Sunrises, Sunsets, oh how we take for granted what the changes bring, right here on Cape Cod.
      Tomorrow when I see the first rays of sunlight coming through and up and over the wooded area to the left of the house I will remember to give thanks for it's warming raise and the joy it brings, and as it crosses past the front of the house and finally starts to settle to the right out my bedroom windows to bid it farewell and a quick return. The older I get the more I realize just how much we take for granted the good things that have been bestowed and blessed on us. Right here and now I could get really philosophical and theological, but I'm not, this is just a pondering moment, here on the Cape, right where I am at. Now get out and take advantage of the dark and go see all the beautiful lights that folks have up. If they are going to support NStar like that the least we can do is go oogle over the work they have put into their Christmas and Holiday displays. We could do that if the Sun was setting much later now could we. See I already found something to be grateful for in the sun setting earlier. Go down to the beach, and look up and count the stars, Ok so you have to put on an extra pair of pants and an extra jacket to stay warm but when was the last time you did that. The sky is different this time of year than in the summer, go check it out. And on the weekends, take the time to go visit a local merchant that took the chance to stay open year round. They need the encouragement, oh ya and if you can afford to, buy something, every little sale helps. And when the sun passes the 6 pm sunset time on March 10 when daylight saving time begins, through a party sunset will be 6:41 pm. 
      Well until then if nothing else have a very Veggie Christmas, ( if you have to ask, google it, Veggie Tales ). I'll double check the oil in the light house lamp well and be sure it is filled, I'll clean the lens so the beacon is at it's brightest, we would want Santa to have any problems. And have a grand and wonderful, especially if you can do it on Cape Cod, even in spite of the wicked sunrise and sunset times.    
      Well for the last main course of year one has to come up with something big and special and I think I have come up with it. This recipe comes from one of those paper recipe card from a grocery store and is between 15 and 20 years old. Amazing how I missed this one, than again it might have been have been stuck in my step mother's collection. For those of you who have a love of Lobster this recipe will be one that will stay close at hand and used more than just once a year. It is easy and minimum ingredients which is always a plus for a Cape Cottage Kitchen. I hope this year has been a good one and that you have found a few main dishes to add to your collections. I am already looking forward to next years offering and some new thing and new directions that we have not gone before. Now on with the show for this week. Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy Holiday season, whatever Holiday you choice to celebrate and please do it with some fantastic down home cooking. 
      This week's recipe Devilish Broiled Lobster Tails
 
  •       4      each      Lobster Tails, if you use frozen thaw before using
  •    1/4      cup        butter, melted
  •       1      tsp         Worcestershire Sauce
  •       1      Tbsp       snipped chives
  •       1      tsp          Old Bay Seasoning 
  •               dash       hot pepper sauce (I prefer Tabasco for this)
  •                             Cracked Pepper to taste
 
      Rinse and clean lobster tails and pat dry. Cut tails lengthwise in half through the shell and meat so you have 2 halves. Place each half on a broiler pan meat side up. Combine melted butter, Worcestershire, tabasco and Old Bay and brush onto lobster meat. Lightly sprinkle cracked pepper over tails and place under broiler about 4 to 6 inches from the heat. Broil for 4 to 6 minutes than brush again with the butter mixture and finish broiling for another 4 to 6 minutes or until opaque. Sprinkle with chives and serve.  

Really, guns can kill on their own?

   Nice to see the knee-jerk “We need more gun laws” gang has been re-energized.  Yeah, let’s reinstate the “Federal Assault Weapons Ban” seeing how it worked so well in Columbine. How many laws did Adam Lanza break and the school of thought from these idealistic morons is one more law would have stopped him?

    I’m fairly confident that planting explosives in the Bath Consolidated School and then killing 45, 38 of which were children and injuring 58 was illegal at the time, (deadliest mass murder in a school in United States history). Would another law have made a difference?

    Is it illegal to slit someone’s throat with a box cutter, commandeer a jet and fly it into a building? Certainly at least one or two statutes were broken.

   Ammonia nitrate, fertilizer and a Ryder rental truck took down the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Kinda’ figured there would have been a law against this type of thing.

    Josh Brent, arrested for drunk driving-charged with manslaughter…..Jerry Brown Jr is dead. Were there not enough laws on the books to stop this?

    In Maryland alone there were 205 heroin-related overdose deaths in the first seven months of 2012. I’m pretty sure the possession and use of heroin is illegal, perhaps if we pass another law things will get better.

 

   So who is the killer? The fertilizer, the  guns, the heroin, the explosives, the box cutter, the jet-planes, the alcohol, the automobile or the person who activated these inanimate objects and created the harm they did?

 

   Everyone is familiar with the names Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, how many people can name any of the victims?

Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols are/were household names, can you recall the name of one of the 168 killed in Oklahoma City?

   When you hear the name Jarrod Loehner, can you think of anyone besides Gabby Giffords?

   Now you know the names Adam and  Nancy Lanza and perhaps a few of the victims names but how long will that last?

 

  When I heard the initial report Friday I turned off the news  for the weekend so the talking heads could get this sudden windfall during a slow news cycle out of their system. Can’t let a good crisis go to waste you know. I strongly believe this little POS  would have offed himself quietly in the garage or cellar had he not seen past mass murderers hyped-up in the media. Nothing to lose, better to be a has-been then a never-was. Sadly one has to wonder.....what's next?

This is not a gun law issue, it is a mental health/culture of violence issue.

 

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Attention needs to be given

When I first moved to Cape Cod I got involved in local politics, as I did in every other place I have lived, because you learn a lot about the place where you live, and get to meet a lot of different people in your new community.

Barnstable County has the oldest per capita population in the state of Massachusetts, and Dennis had the oldest population within Barnstable County. I attended a political meeting in December 2011 and expected to meet people of all ages. When I got there, I figured the older people had arrived early, and the younger ones would arrive later. When the second arrival did not happen I asked the person next to me if the young people on the Cape, especially in Dennis, were not interested in politics.

The response I got was that Barnstable County has the oldest per capita population in the state of Massachusetts, and Dennis had the oldest population within Barnstable County. She asked my age, and when I told her she smiled and said,

“You are the young people”.

As funny as this was, I just thought she was joking until I got a retail job at a local big box store, and rarely had a young customer.

The Cape and Islands have the oldest workforce in the stateA study by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and the Federal Reserve Bank has recently come out dealing with the aging of the Cape and Islands. According to it, Cape Cod has the oldest workforce in the state, many of whom are ready to retire from full time work, and may not find as many part time openings in gift shops that they may fantasize about.

With the baby boomers about to open up employment opportunites, the problem is that training and education are just not there.

More than half of the present work force on Cape Cod is over 45 with less than ¼ of the population being between 16 and 34, the age span when people enter the work force.

Because there is little higher education opportunity on the Cape, the youth go off Cape for their education and see no reason to return to a place that has either seasonal work, or full time work for minimum wage. Add to this that since old, quaint Cape Cod has become so attractive, and unfortunately very built up, affordable housing has been reduced almost to non-existence, and it is unrealistic for someone to be able to move here at the beginning of their employment.

I don't pretend to have the answers, but it is something the various elected official, state, county, and town need to work on.

Bethlehem, Dec. 25

Bethlehem, Dec. 25

By D. A. Mittell

When we first came into the office it looked like a dreary Christmas afternoon. To us there is something mournful in the sight of a scantily staffed city room. Just two men were at work typing away at stories of small moment. The telegraph instruments appeared to be meditating. One continued to chatter along, but there was nobody to set down what it said.

Its shrill, staccato insistence seemed momentous. But telegraph instruments are always like that. Their tone is just as excited whether the message tells of mighty tremors in the earth or baby parades at Asbury Park. Probably a job in a newspaper office is rather unhealthy for a telegraph instrument. The contrivance is too emotional and excitable to live calmly under the strain. Even an old instrument seldom learns enough about news values to pick and choose suitable moments in which to grow panicky. As soon as a story begins to move along a wire the little key screams and dances. It is devoid of reticence. Every distant whisper which comes to it must be rattled out at top voice and at once. Words are its very blood stream and for all the telegraph instrument knows one word is just as good and just as important as another.

And so the one restless key in the telegraph room shrieked, and whined, and implored listeners. We tried to help by coming close and paying strict attention, but we could not get even the gist of the message. It seemed to us as if the key were trying to say, with clicking tumult, that some great one, a King perhaps, was dead or dying. Or, maybe, it was a war and each dash and dot stood for some contending soldier moving forward under heavy fire. And again, it might be that a volcano had stirred and spit. Or great waves had swept a coast. And we thought of sinking steamers and trains upended.

Certainly it was an affair of great moment. Even though we discounted the passion and vehemence of the machine there was something almost awe inspiring in its sincerity and insistence. After a time it seemed to us as if this was in fact no long running narrative, but one announcement repeated over and over again. And suddenly we wondered why we had assumed from the beginning that only catastrophes were important and epoch making. By now we realized that though the tongue was alien we did recognize the color of its clamor. These dots and dashes were seeking to convey something of triumph. That was not to be doubted.

And in a flash we knew what the machine said. It was nothing more than, "A child is born." And of course nobody paid any attention to that. It is an old story.

Barnstable Today: Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We preview Thursday's Town Council meeting...on this episode of Barnstable Today.

Bang! You're Dead!

                                                                           Bang!  You're Dead!                                                          

                                                                 "Guns don't kill people.  People do".

                                                                               - N.R.A. Slogan

The next time some right-wing gun nut tells you that guns don't kill people, but people do, just point your finger at him and say: "Bang! You're dead!"  Then tell him you tried your best, but it just doesn't work without a gun.  Keep trying, pointing your finger right between his eyes, and it still won't work.  You  better make sure he isn't packing, though, or he might try to return fire for real.

           The fact is, without a gun, you cannot kill another person from any safe distance away. With a gun, however, you can blast away, killing many, many people both as intended and indiscriminately, with little fear of anyone either fighting back or escaping to safety. 

            The gun nut will tell you that you can kill people from a safe distance with other weapons, which is true, but so what?  A spear or a bow and arrow can kill remotely, but not more than one at a time. It's not even close to the kind of carnage that can be inflicted by an assault rifle or pistol with a large capacity clip.

           The mindless Second Amendment nitwit will then say that gun control laws will not prevent murder because murderers will find some other way to kill.  That is a sad reality, but it is beside the point in light of this most recent mass killing in Middleton, Connecticut.  Gun control laws will not deter someone who is hell bent on committing murder, but they will make it far more difficult to perpetrate a massacre.

            The public and our elected leaders are just beginning to realize that there is an ongoing epidemic of mass killings, with the Sandy Hook massacre of innocent little children being just the latest one and, hopefully, the last straw.  We need effective gun control and we need it now.

            There is no need to ban all guns, and that would clearly violate the Second Amendment as held in the Heller and McDonald cases, which first ruled that gun ownership is a Constitutional right under the Second Amendment and then applied it to the states.  In the McDonald case, though, Justice Samuel Alito's majority opinion held that the Second Amendment right to bear arms was no different from any other right specified in the Bill of Rights, as it is not absolute.

            Like free speech under the First Amendment, the right to bear arms is subject to reasonable regulation by the federal government and/or the states.  The standard for such regulation is called substantive due process, where the individual's right can be restricted to the extent the state has a compelling public interest that outweighs the unfettered exercise of the individual's right.

            Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously summed it up by saying the First Amendment does not give you the right to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater when there is no fire.  That exercise of free speech clearly creates a threat to public safety, where the state's interest in protecting public safety clearly outweighs the individual's right to free speech.  The same principle applies to gun control under the Second Amendment.

          I am a sportsman, a fly fisherman, and I am a strong supporter of hunters' rights.  Hunting is an atavistic sport, sure, but benignly so if it is properly regulated.  A well regulated hunt serves both  the individual's interest in providing wild game for his table, as well as the enjoyment of the hunt itself,  and the state's important interest in wildlife management.  As a fly-tier, I benefit too, from the ready availability of  deer hair, grouse and duck feathers, etc. that is a by-product of well-regulated hunting.  No competent hunter, however, needs an assault rifle with a twenty-round clip to take down even a deer or a moose, never mind a quail or pheasant.

        What is needed today is a rational approach that fairly splits the difference between the individual's right to bear arms, including both hunters and those who can demonstrate a need for armed self defense,  and the state's overriding interest in public safety.  Here are a few de minimis requirements to achieve such a rational balance.

         First, before anyone can purchase a firearm, he must have a federal firearms permit with photo ID.  In order to get such a permit, the individual must attend and pass a firearms safety course, including a marksmanship test.  We don't want to be licensing any more Dick Cheney's to shoot guns, after all.  It must be a federal permit to ensure uniformity throughout the United States for effective law enforcement.

          Second, all guns must be registered, either with a federal agency or with a state or local agency, indicating the purchaser, the date of purchase and the serial number.  All sellers must make a record with such information and send it to the appropriate agency within a reasonable time after the sale, and the individual must also register within a reasonable time.

          Third, all guns must be locked up when not in use, available only to the registered owner or other users identified on the registration permit.  Trigger locks must be used on all guns to prevent accidental discharge.

           Lest anyone claim these are unreasonable restrictions on their right to bear arms, just refer them to the requirements for driving and owning an automobile in every state which are equally if not more restrictive.  Everyone must have a license to drive, issued upon passing a driving test after taking a course.  Every car must be registered, as to year, make, model and license number.  All cars have an ignition key, and most of us lock our cars when not in use.  Many of us also lock our cars away in a garage when not in use.  

             Many, many more people drive and own cars than shoot and own guns, while there is vastly greater social and economic utility in driving a car than possessing or shooting a gun for any purpose other than law enforcement.  So why should it be easier for an unlicensed shooter to possess an undocumented and unsecured gun than it is for an unlicensed driver to operate an undocumented car? 

            Fourth, there must be federal regulations as to who can possess assault weapons.  The media keep referring to the "high powered" rifle used at Sandy Hook, but that's not really the problem. The real issue is high-capacity clips for automatic weapons that allow many rounds to be fired off without stopping to reload.  A high powered rifle, with a three round clip, can be a useful tool for hunting, for taking down large game cleanly and safely.  That would be  a challenge for even an experienced sharpshooter using only a single shot .22 rifle, but anyone who would need a twenty-round clip to do it shouldn't even be allowed to possess a gun.

          Assault weapons should be tightly restricted to the military and the police, period.  There is no "well regulated militia" anymore, in the sense contemplated by the Second Amendment.  We have instead the well regulated National Guard to serve the intended purpose of protecting the security of a free state.  Meanwhile, neither the Sons of Liberty, the White Knights of the KKK nor any other private,  self-described  "militia" is either well regulated within the meaning of the Second Amendment or capable of protecting the security of the American people.  To the contrary, such virulent, right-wing hate groups pose a clear and present danger to our safety and security.

             Fifth, there is absolutely no need for any private individual to possess armor piercing bullets, or any other military style weaponry such as tanks, bazookas, hand grenades, bayonets, land mines, bombs, missiles, et cetera.  As with assault weapons, there is no valid sporting purpose to possessing or using such military weapons or ammunition, and no valid self-defense justification for them either. 

            The only purpose of assault rifles, high  capacity pistols and other military style weapons is to kill people.   In the case of armor piercing bullets, it poses a clear danger to our National Guardsmen and local police who wear body armor that is not justified by any private individual's right to bear arms or any important social need.

            These restriction must not be limited to future purchases only.  There are far too many such weapons out there in America today as it is.  The private possession of all such weapons must be banned, with strict and severe penalties imposed, including substantial jail time. 

            Upon passing such a law, there should be a one-year grace period, a reasonable time for everyone who presently possesses such weapons to turn them in to the proper authorities under a sensible buy-back program, with amnesty and no questions asked  for anyone who has not properly acquired such materiel under existing laws.  The object here is to get such dangerous weapons out of private hands, not to punish anyone for past misdeeds.

          Again, guns indeed do kill people.  Trayvon Martin would be alive today if George Zimmerman had stalked him armed only with his cell phone.  Of course, a coward like Zimmerman would never have dared to stalk him if he wasn't packing that pistol -the pistol that in fact killed Trayvon Martin.  

CNN Hero comes to Duxbury

Who Was To Know?

by David A. Mittell, Jr.

Razia Jan returned to Duxbury last Thursday to talk to students and parents at the Duxbury Student Union about the Zabuli Education Center, her school for girls in Afghanistan. Since founding the school in 2008 Razia has led hundreds of these meetings. She is articulate, patient and gracious before audiences of all ages. On this occasion she answered questions for nearly an hour. She never seems to tire, though she must.
     This year, Razia was named one of Cable News Network's "Heroes," which came with a $50,000 contribution to the school. Earlier this month she went to Hollywood where she was one of ten finalists to be CNN's Hero of the Year. She wasn't selected, but by many accounts was the star of the show.
     I've had the privilege of hearing Razia several times. On Thursday her tone seemed subtly different. She spoke of adding rooms where students can stay over, acquiring a van to safely transport girls to and from school, and starting a kindergarten for boys. She is not going "co-ed." But after four years the Zabuli Education Center is producing girls who are better-educated than their brothers, and Razia is concerned lest the discrepancy be resented. "I want to make no enemies for those girls!" she says.
     Razia seems to understand that the school's higher profile carries risks. She speaks explicitly of a "crazy person" getting into the school and "shooting everyone." This happens in today's Afghanistan, particularly to those who defy the subordination of girls and women that is traditional to much of the society. Razia expresses no fear for herself, only for her charges. This fear seems to have risen.
     At the Student Union Thursday evening everyone seemed safe. The concern was about danger to students a very long way away. But fourteen hours later a crazy person entered an American school and started shooting everyone. Who was to know?
      At about the same moment fourteen hours later I happened to turn on a television to catch the overnight news. The TV news crews were all in Hanover, where a worker had fallen 24 feet inside the shaft of a wind tower. A camera panned to a man who looked a lot like Kevin Nord, Duxbury's fire chief. As he was being interviewed a caption appeared on the screen. It was Chief Nord, who was in charge of the rescue.
     Since his days has a captain Chief Nord has also been chief liaison to the Plymouth Country Technical Rescue Team, which is a consortium of fire-service volunteers from 27 communities that is on-call 24 hours a day. Within moments of the call from Hanover nearly 50 members of the team were on their way to the scene.
     The members each have special skills, use special equipment and like to think of themselves as special people. Their specialized training includes six distinct disciplines: high-angle rope rescue; rescue in confined spaces; in collapsed trenches; in collapsed structures; under water; and the rescue of large animals such as cows and horses.
     The equipment for these rescues is kept in Bridgewater, Duxbury, Hanson and Onset. The Technical Rescue Team thus provides services to 27 communities that they could not afford individually. It serves as an effective compromise between local control and the controversial concept of regionalization.
     I dread it whenever I see TV satellite trucks, which do not come looking for good news. They arrive when a fugitive is at large in Duxbury, a church has burnt to the ground in Jamaica Plain or a police officer has been shot in Providence. But the potential fatality in Hanover is on its way to a happy ending. The victim was brought out and is recovering from a broken leg.
     "Chief Nord is going lead the evening news," I thought as I shut off the TV. But he would not. A crazy person had entered an American school and started shooting. Who was to know?
     David A. Mittell, Jr. is editor of The Dubury Clipper.

Oh. I am supposed to read the whole thing?

For those who grasp at the Second Amendment to justify owning  assault weapons and arms that can shoot off a hundred rounds in a  matter of seconds, here is the actual wording.

 

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

 

Note that the words “well Regulated Militia” are there. The amendment states a clearly specific reason for gun ownership. It specifies why people can have guns, and hunting and collecting are not mentioned. There is no equivocation.

You have to accept the whole thing, or you cannot accept any of it.

Militias are supposed to hold musters and practice military exercises. The members have to learn to march and follow the orders of their officers whether appointed or elected, and these militias must have discipline and form.

And they have to be prepared to go to war and defend their country when war happens, not just wear lapel pins, hang numerous flags on their houses and cars, and declare their support of the troops while they do not enter the fight.

All these guys Who declare their right to bear arms should be running to the middle east to do their part, not just shooting deer.

Ted Nugent is one of those people who constantly pontificates about the right to own guns, but when he faced the draft he did not wash for the two weeks before his induction and pooped his pants to add to his unacceptable condition. Or he simply chooses to ignore the complete amendment while leaning on the importance of the Constitution to maintain his "right". Like many others he may speak loudly, but he does not read the whole Amendment. The NRA pushes the second part of the amendment , but is very careful to avoid the first. They are like those people who pick and choose only those Bible verses that support what they want to believe, while conveniently omitting the ones that do not support them.

 “The right of the people to keep and bears arms, shall not be infringed"  is only part of the Amendment.

If they are going to quote it, these people like Mr. Nugent and the NRA need to start at the capital A and go all the way to the period.

They need to pay attention to the whole amendment, and accept all of it.

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Barnstable Today: Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On this episode of Barnstable Today: Barnstable Chief of Police Paul MacDonald comments on school safety, in light of the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown CT.

The logic of some

Financial Russian Roulette: Lethal Fantasy Investing

Derivative markets are a great arena of financial masturbation relying on algorithms and sociopathic greed to have created upwards of $1.2 Quadrillion Derivatives to bet on.

Synthetic portfolios of unmitigated and deregulated risk allow mathematicians to contrive a virtual world of vectors to play with.  Players stand on the sidelines throwing real money into a black hole to bet on the success or failure of Swaps going in one direction or another; or going in opposite directions from each other, either simultaneously or not. 

Market makers have created Financial Russian Roulette Tables they call markets; while regulators stand silently by watching their friends and formers colleagues make mega millions from trading fantasy investments that are too complex to explain.  It is difficult to explain something that is not real, like a Zombie or like a god.

And this entire game is based on faith, faith in what PT Barnum observed so many years ago – “a sucker is born every minute.”

PT Barnum - There is no proof that Phineas Taylor Barnum ever said, "there's a sucker born every minute." He did, however, say that "every crowd has a silver lining," and ...

And there is no proof that Derivative Swaps have a shard of real existence except in the minds of the mathematicians that created them, and in the faith of the players.  There is no proof that Zombies or god exist either, yet that doesn’t stop movie makers or religion makers or hoards of fearful participants. 

Some of the great religion makers at least were trying to control man’s baser instincts by attempting to introduce a way to value individual life at a time when people were commanded to go to war at the burp of a king, and build pyramids or wall off a continent-sized country.

Religion is based on faith, and so are derivative markets - just a different kind.  Derivative markets are based on the faith (or is it the assumption) that players will come to bet based on the hope (or it is assumption) that betting on derivatives will be profitable if they are better than a majority of the other players.  Just like your odds are better if the people you play poker with are not as good as you are.  However, there is one distinction – the market makers are the house, like a casino is the house if you choose to play poker in the controlled environment of a casino.

Unlike a casino with recognized odds and regulated by gaming commissions - market control is a charade. Because market makers and sophisticated investor-gamblers assume risk can be mathematically measured and mitigated by hedging with swaps - which only creates more risk. Market makers only sincere concern is to maintain the velocity of the trades and the unfettered ability to keep the markets (the tables) open at all times. Being open offers the brilliantly “sophisticated” investor–gamblers a comfort level derived from the illusion-promise of being able to sell at any time.  Being able to sell or get out is called liquidity and is misperceived as control by investors because investors can decide to exit.  Liquidity is a back door to saving your ass.  But liquidity depends entirely on buyers to want to buy the hot potatoes at a time when too many want to get out.  (Refer to Lehman Brothers for a spectacular example of what can happen in a much smaller market than $1.2 Quadrillion of derivative/swap risk.)

The people behind the great arena of financial masturbation are god like, and above the law just like mafia godfathers; and like the kings of yore have amassed personal riches beyond the dreams of ordinary kings.  But they are similar in the sense they do this at great risk to their kingdom; which today means – the economy of the country they live in as well as the entire globe.

Derivatives are the most sophisticated game, so have attracted a following of brilliant mathematicians and finance majors only concerned for good paying jobs.  And our colleges and universities have obliged this human need to find a good job by providing courses on Derivatives motivated by matriculation fees.  But have finance professors and their employers considered that Derivatives, under the surface of all things real, are nothing but a ticking financial H-Bomb sized black hole of risk?

The Monte Carlo Method for Pricing Financial Derivatives (downloadable PPT)
Applying the Monte Carlo method to financial derivatives, continued ... Most Monte Carlo Methods are implemented via a computer program rather than solved ...

Doctorate Degree Programs - Complete List - Global Derivatives
Doctorate Degree Programs With a Focus on Quantitative Finance / Derivatives. Profiles: The profiles are all of our own work and are compiled with information ...

Curriculum - UCLA Anderson School of Management
Degrees › Master of Financial Engineering
Limited to Master of Financial Engineering Program students. ... paradigms used in derivatives finance including an introduction to stochastic processes, ...

Capital Markets, Derivatives and Treasury Training - Dcgtraining.com
Derivatives trader, Global bank ... of tailored training services to the banking, financial ... Financial Core Competency and Specialist Skills Programme ...

Robert McDonald - Faculty - Kellogg School of Management
He has taught courses in derivatives, corporate finance, and taxation. Professor McDonald's research interests include corporate finance, taxation, derivatives, ...

Has anyone focused on the Fed Bank Holding Company regulation that makes investments which cannot be explained well enough to be understood unlawful?  

IM-2210-1. Communications with the Public About Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (CMOs) – (a) General Considerations,... (3) Safety Claims - A communication should not overstate the relative safety ... (5) Simplicity Claims - CMOs are complex securities and require full, fair and clear disclosure in order to be understood by the investor. (refer to Chapter 8 in: How We Got Swindled by Wall Street Godfathers, Greed & Financial Darwinism ~ The 30-Year War Against the American Dream.

It is self-evident that Market makers are concerned with fees no matter what the consequences; as it apparent that matriculation fees are also more important than consequences.

So what do we do?

Sociopathic greed is a chronic condition/disease found among some members of the human race.  It has been possible to eradicate some terrible diseases through scientific discoveries leading to totally efficacious vaccines, like Polio and Small Pox.   Public health has also contributed to a healthier society by eliminating open sewers; and the great invention by Uranus Crapper made the toilet more accessible to those who could only afford to rent a toilet for a moment of need.

In the aftermath of the Great Depression, brought about by unfettered, rapacious sociopathic greed,  it was discovered in 1933 that the best way to control the chronic disease of sociopathic greed was to quarantine it -  just like tuberculosis was confined to sanatoriums in 1933 (maybe that’s what should be done with Santorum).   So Congress in a quarantine spirit, and gasping for daylight with millions in bread lines, passed Glass-Steagall in recognition of the fact of the lethal impact of unrepentant narcissistic, even self destructive, greed.  The sociopath’s appetite for green may be akin to horses eating themselves to death by gorging on too much green.  But by 1956 it was recognized there was more to be done so the quarantine was improved with the advent of the 1956 Bank Holding Company Act.

Quarantining unbridled greed worked for decades until the sociopaths got their way and got Congress to deregulate greed and remove their quarantine.  Deregulation of Wall Street Banks released the ravages of their ugly disease once again.  So now we have a plethora of gamblers playing Financial Russian Roulette - and so far this has not been properly recognized or addressed – even in the aftermath of the 2nd worst economy since 1776.

Barnstable Today: Monday, December 17, 2012

On this episode of Barnstable Today:

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Czajkowski comments on the Newtown, CT tragedy and talks about safety measures in place in Barnstable schools.

Take the CapeCodToday.com poll: Should the U.S. add gun control laws & ban assault weapons?

The secret funding

Fiscal responsibilty, the judicious spending of federal funds, strict stewardship of the public's money, no more wasteful spending. These are the things that the Republican party claims it stands for, and the reasons John Boehner claims he objects to President Obama's plans and budgets.

Playing fast and loose with these is also why, as we head toward the so called “fiscal cliff “,  we don't see much, if any real suggestions of compromise coming from the GOP side of the aisle.

But here is a little secret many people are in the dark about, and calls into question the Republican commitment to fiscal responsibilty, the judicious spending of federal funds, strict stewardship of the public's money, and no more wasteful spending

Times are changing, as is the public's understanding  that all citizens have equal rights, and no citizens should be denied their rights because the majority, or the most vocal, do not like them.

The Obama Administration has decided not to spend federal money defending the Defense of Marriage Act, a bill that was ironically proposed and supported by quite a few legislators who over the years have been found to have been involved in extra-marital affairs before, during, and after they proposed and supported this bill.

It is also a bill that has a great amount of church support, again a situation dripping with irony as churches pay no taxes while attempting to determine which taxpayers get all their rights and which don't, and trying real hard to deny a class of our citizenry the civil benefits of a civil marriage wihtout forcing any church to bless that union.

The U.S. Department of Justice stopped defending DOMA in February 2011 after determining the law was in conflict with the U.S. Constitution. So why would the Department of Justice spend money defending an unnecessary and discriminatory law that denies citizens equal protection under the law?

So no federal funds are to be wasted on defending DOMA.

BUT:

It came out LAST WEEK, three months after it happened, that the House Administration Committee Chairman, Republican Dan Lungren of California, secretly approved a $500,000 increase to a contract with a private law firm to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court. Although this increase was approved in September neither the Domocrat House minority or the public was informed of this expenditure, and, remember this was while there was a presidential election along with some congressional and senatorial elections going on, and could have influenced some of those elections.

The contract authorizes Bancroft PLLC and former Solicitor General Paul Clement, a Republican, to spend up to $2 million to defend DOMA. This is the second increase to what was originally a $1 million cap. Don't the Republicans claim the federal government should have caps and debt ceilings?

Nancy Pelosi reacted: “It’s bad enough that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans are wasting taxpayer dollars to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act – and losing in every case. Now, they have reached a new low – signing a secret contract to spend more public money on their legal boondoggle without informing Democrats. Their actions are simply unconscionable; their decisions are utterly irresponsible.

Hiding this contract from voters in the midst of an election season was a cynical move at best, and a betrayal of the public trust at worst. With Americans focused on the creation of jobs and the growth of our economy, Republicans should not be spending $2 million to defend discrimination in our country.”

Lungren lost re-election in November, but the Republicans maintained control of the House, and control of its operating budget.

Last Thursday at a press conference dealing with John Boehner's lament that Washington has a spending problem, when asked about this secret expenditure, he angrily responded that if the Department of Justice won’t defend the law of the land, Congress will.

Secret super-PAC donations, secret fund raising events, and now just secretly taking taxpayer money. Ah, the party of the high road.

And while railing against run away spending, they are willing to secretly spend the public's money on their own aganda.

A beloved Christmas story

Ah, The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, the penultimate story of the Christian values that should accompany the season and warm the hearts of all people.

It is the story of the job creator, Mr. Scrooge, without whom Bob Cratchet would have no employment while his wages are insuffcient and reluctantly given, and he is required to work long and pitiful hours for a mere pittance.

Through the visitations of the Christmas Spirits, Past, Present, and Future, this job creator learns the true meaning of Christmas, and not only opens his heart to be more generous to his employee, but he goes further to give medical care to his employee's child so he can have a better future. And he asks nothing in return for this while he raises Bob's wages to allow for a better life and piece of the pie.

 “God bless us, everyone.”

 It is also the story of a greedy man who is extremely selfish only to later give in to the socialistic concept of sharing the wealth accrued by the hard work of his employee, and paying into the health care of that employee's family.

 Ah, the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The socialist's story of Christmas.

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Crane Balancing pose at Fort Hill, eastham

Tracy climbs to the highest point at Fort Hill in Eastham - and e-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y she demos balancing crane pose  - don't try this on a jagged rock, but probably safe at home! develops your balance and strengthens legs and core. Both sides

http://youtu.be/e6s1wDUhQU0

December 31 is coming fast

ENOUGH!!!

 

Stop it!

You people who cannot wait to politicize God after any tragedy need to just stop it.

Mike Huckabee was on Fox News claiming this event was made possible by the removal of God from schools.Within hours of the horrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, Mike Huckabee was on Fox News claiming this event was made possible by the removal of God from schools, and Brian Fischer a talk radio host on American Family Radio wasn't that far behind blaming the shooting on lack of prayer in schools. Brace yourselves over the next few days as the troops in the fictional War on Christmas take a breather to invent the No-God-In-Schools falsehood.

News flash, God is omnipresent so He is still there. If He isn't, then he cannot be God. From what I remember of my seminary days, denying God's divinity is heresy.

In reality what has been removed from schools is forcing one interpretation of God on all students and favoring one religion or denomination over all others.

In many places where I have taught, East Coast, West Coast, and the area in between, the forced Lord's Prayer was replaced by a moment of silence during which students could pray, or just day dream. If they chose to pray, they could do it in accordance with their religious beliefs and practices, addressing the concept of God that their religion held. Even Christians should remember that Jesus advised not to pray in public but in private.

Or do these religio-political people have a way to ignore that while saying they follow Christ?

Students can pray at any time provided it does not interfere with what is going on in class, or is forced on other students. Bibles can be read during silent reading provided reading the Bible does not prevent the student from reading the curriculum based reading assignment. Students can meet at any time to pray as a group, again, provided it does not interfere with classes and the educational activities.

The majority of people pushing the no-god deception do not work in schools, but have an agenda where this is an important tactic, and they know the majority of people who will believe them without question do not work in schools either.

What has been removed is forcing one particular religious belief on all students even those whose religious belief may be somewhat insulted by the one that is forced on them by a public entity.

My mother once told me that due to a fire at Brookline High School in the 1930's when she was a student, the local Jewish temple offered its large community center for classes until the high school could be repaired. It already bothered her a little that as a Catholic she had to say the “protestant” Lord's Prayer every morning in the stricter pre-Vatican II, pre-ecumenical days when Catholics couldn't even enter a protestant church without fear of hell, but it really came home to her when she realized they were in a Jewish community center and everyone, including the Jewish kids, had to recite that prayer on Jewish turf. She thought then that a moment of silence would have been more respectful.

These school tragedies have nothing to do with whether God is allowed there or not. Explain the Mall shooting in Oregon according to that belief, or the 1927 bombing of the school in Bath, Michigan when prayer was routine.There have been shootings in churches during services and at an Amish school. Certainly God and prayer were present in these situations.

What many school shootings have in common is that the shooter is not from the school. So what does God being in that school or not have to do with the shooters?

Doing their foolish rationalizing ignores there are signs and issues that need to be given attention.

And we need people to get out of the grandstands and off their soap boxes and realize they are actually the ones who are turning people away from God if this is how their deity deals with things when he is supposed to be all powerful and omnipresent, but one religion does not get preference.

The end result of each shooting investigation shows that the shooter had been experiencing mental health issues. These aren't as volatile as the religion angle, and don't get the sheep all fired up, so they are ignored. Funds are cut for making mental health resources available, and no one objects.

And if the we-want-prayer-in-school crowd has to allow for various forms of prayer, as unlike church students have to attend school by law and should all be respected, how will they handle a form of prayer they do not like?

Jumping immediately to a God angle automatically removes the responsibility of man, and in so doing exhonerates man from searching his collective soul to see what choices were made, what signs ignored, and what man must do to help prevent such actions in the future.

And those like Huckabee and Fischer should be condemned for trivializing such a tragic event as that in Connecticut to try to make political points.

NFL Betting Lines And Predictions For This Week

We Like The Pats Over The 49ers, But Not By Much

12/16 1:00 ET Green Bay -3 At Chicago 43

 Chicago started off well, but the wheels started coming off recently. Green Bay looks like they could win the Super Bowl right now. Chicago is hosting as the Home Dog, but a 3 point spread and a 43 point over/under might be too conservative.

Green Bay, 28-14


12/16 1:00 ET At Atlanta -1.5 NY Giants 51

 Little has changed since the playoffs last year.

NYG, 22-3


12/16 1:00 ET At New Orleans -3.5 Tampa Bay 54

 I never feel badly  betting the Saints in a blowout... as long as the other team gets to score 21 or so as well.

Green Bay, 36-24


12/16 1:00 ET At St. Louis -3 Minnesota 38.5

 Adrian Peterson needs to do 160 rushing yards a game to break the Erik (I think ED ends his first name with a "k," but I might be incorrect) Dickerson record, and he should be good for 180 or so against the Rams.

Minnesota, 21-20


12/16 1:00 ET Washington -1.5 At Cleveland 37

 Washington has some mojo, and it may beat on for a week even if their rookie superstar b is hurt... especially against Cleveland.

Washington, 17-14


12/16 1:00 ET At Miami -7 Jacksonville 37.5

 The Jags used to have a nice defense, and All-World RB, and no QB. They then went through several QBs, the running back got battered, and the defense aged. Now, they have no D, no QB, and an injured, huge-dollar RB. What's not to like?

Miami, 20-10


12/16 1:00 ET Denver -2.5 At Baltimore 48

 Baltimore is at the point where they'll either pull together and score a big win... or they'll get routed and the season is essentially over. It'd make me happier if we get the Former.

Denver, 31-20


12/16 1:00 ET At Houston -9 Indianapolis 48

 How that team we saw give up and get blown out becomes a 9 point favorite is beyond me. I'm also always spooked as a writer when I start a sentence with "How" and fail to end it in a question mark, but you and your bookie don't need to worry about that.

Indy, 21-20


12/16 4:05 ET At San Diego -3 Carolina 45

 I look forward to seeing San Diego with a new GM drafting and a new coach directing the new players. As for now, I predict a whipping for the hosts.

Carolina, 24-13


12/16 4:05 ET Seattle -5.5 At Buffalo 43

 Speaking of lost seasons, it must be fun to live in Buffalo with that football team, the hockey lockout, no NBA team, no major college games and not even the hope of baseball in the spring. They do have CJ Spiller, but they don't give him the ball for some reason.

Seattle, 20-10  


12/16 4:05 ET Detroit -6.5 At Arizona 44

 Arizona has lost every game and scored no points (OK, I'm making that up) since they beat the tar out of us.

Detroit, 30-7


12/16 4:25 ET Pittsburgh -1.5 At Dallas 44

This would make a good 1978 Super Bowl, but whoever loses this one should probably shut it down and wait for next year.

Dallas, 17-14


12/16 4:25 ET At Oakland -3 Kansas City 44

KC continues to draw inspiration from their late wife-killing linebacker. The coach and GM are also figuratively dead, but they won't fall over and go to Unemployment Heaven until after Week 17.

KC, 7-6


12/16 8:30 ET At New England -5 San Francisco 46.5

I see that scrambling QB having more than enough time to let someone get deep downfield on Kyle Arrington 4 times. I won't bet against the Pats winning, but not by >5.

New England, 31-28

 

12/17 8:40 ET

 At Tennessee -2 NY Jets 41.5

Maybe they'll give Tebow a start. Him having one good game might be enough for NY to start him next year and screw up a division rival more.

NYJ, 10-9

 

School Shooting Thoughts

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

I was teaching high school History when that Columbine scene went down. As you might imagine, no other topic would be discussed in class afterwards.

It was a more rational discussion than you'd imagine, aside from the typical teen goofing. Students and teachers- and, to a certain extent, cops- are the ones who, when school shootings are discussed, are speaking of a direct threat to themselves. Therefore, the discussion is more strategic than when housewives or Senators kick the topic about. For instance, the matter of Gun Control never came up when we chatted in class.

Nor was there any What's Wrong With This Country talk. Kids don't remember the 1950s bliss because they weren't alive then. They've grown up in a world where terrorists topple skyscrapers, so they take certain evil things for granted. They viewed the situation as something that could happen, and the discussion was more What If? than WTF?

I did manage to get them thinking with this monologue, which I had thought out in advance somewhat. This is sort of a paraphrasing, from memory... and if you think I got this speech off without interruption, you've never seen a high school.

"I'd like to think that, if someone started shooting in this school, I'd stand and defend you. It's what is expected of me, and it's what I expect of myself. I do love each and every one of you, in a teacher-student way. As I look around the room, I can't bear the thought of any harm coming to each and every one of you.

However....

It is your life that is on the line when the shooting starts, and you are ultimately responsible for that life. No one will miss your lost life more than you. People will tell you what you should do, but, in the end, it is you who have to decide what to do.

In this life-on-line scenario, it pays to think worst-case scenario. If you expect the worst, anything less than the worst is now an unexpected asset, a gift from Heaven that just may save your life.

Take our poll: Should the U.S. add gun control laws & ban assault weapons?None of us knows what we will do if someone started letting off shots in this school. The guy who says, 'I'd hide behind the door and jump the shooter as he entered the room' may actually wet his pants and cry like a wussy if someone even lit a firecracker in here. The quiet kid who cowers during Dodge Ball may, in a crisis, make some command decision that saves us all. The geek who is still doing Boy Scouts may be the only one who knows how to set (or spell) a tourniquet, thus saving a Homecoming queen or the varsity quarterback.. The teacher you've always admired may abandon you. You never know...

The school expects me to keep you all in this room, lock the doors, and wait for the cavalry. The community expects me to defend you against whoever comes through that door. Maybe I will... it is what I expect of myself, to be honest.

We'd actually have a good chance with that strategy... those walls are cinderblock, we could barricade the door fairly well with the desks and filing cabinets in the room, we could hide in the furthest corner, we have phones with which we could call for help, and, if it came down to it, the gunner couldn't shoot all 20 of us before we got to him.

Keep that in mind, because I may not be here to implement that strategy. There is a good chance that I'll be out that window and running for my life, perhaps even trampling you in the process. Be prepared for that. You can never say what will happen in a crisis, and that includes me heading for the hills.

See that red Jeep out in the parking lot? If I flee, and if you can be in it before I get it into gear, I'll drive you to safety at a great rate of speed. I'll be taking the 5 or 10 fastest of you, i.e. those of you who can get into the Jeep before I flee. Also, there is no shame in hanging off that spare tire they have on the rear door or laying flat on the hood as I speed off, although you may be safer with the gunman at that point.

It'd be the end of my teaching career. No one wants a teacher who abandons the kids. I'd be a pariah. The expression 'I could live with that' never emphasizes the word 'live' enough. Even if it meant a jail term... I'd rather be tried by twelve than carried by six.

We'd be rolling the dice by fleeing. No one would know where we were. Your parents would be told 'We can not account for your child's whereabouts.' We could run right into the shooter as we climbed out the window. The school grounds could be booby-trapped. We could even be shot by the police, who would view people fleeing a shooting as suspect. Exiting the school didn't do this guy very much good. We'd be forfeiting the cinderblock fortress, the desk/cabinet barricade, the responding police officers, the ambulances, the safety of numbers... for a bit of distance.

That distance is key, however. We should all be able to bail out a first floor window in a minute or so if we hear gunfire. Even the fattest of us should be able to run 100 yards in 20 seconds or so, and those woods across the street offer some fine shelter from gunfire. If you get a few hundred yards away from the school, your chances of survival increase greatly... unless, of course, if our school is attacked by The Guy Who Was Angry At The School AND The Particular Side Street That You Happened To Flee Down.

You can call Mom once you're safe. I have a feeling that even the parents of the children who weren't harmed will have an agonizing wait before they know their kids are OK. There is a chance that you can make it to a public place and use a phone to call Mom before the authorities will notify other parents.

There are a lot of variables in this flee-or-take cover decision, some that could break for you, some that could break against you, and some that don't really matter. To an extent, it's not for me to say what you do if that situation should develop. I don't even know what I'd do in that situation, and the teacher who says that they know what they'd do in a crisis is lying to you.

Before you even decide to decide to think about what you'd do in a school shooting, ponder a few numbers. There are 24000 or so public high schools in America, and maybe 10000 private ones. There are 13 million kids in public high schools, a bit less than half of that in private high schools. There are also middle schools and elementary schools to factor in, probably quadrupling those numbers.

Balance against that a school shooting or two a year, with a dozen or two dead. You have a bit less than a one in a million chance of being in a school with a shooting rampage, and 'one in a million' is actually a conservative estimate of your chances of being killed in a rampage.

They award 52 Powerball lottery payouts a year, so- balanced against Columbine's 13 dead- you have a greater chance of being handed enough money to conquer Mali than you do of being murdered in a school shooting rampage... about 4:1, actually. If I got 4:1 on the last Super Bowl, I wouldn't be in this classroom today, I can tell you little f***ers that much.

You can very easily watch the news, feel some great pity for the victims and their families, express regret that such a thing could happen... and then just never think about it again, and it would never make a difference in your life unless you end up on Final Jeopardy or something. Statistically speaking, you are very, very safe here.

Any-who... those are the facts as best as I can state them. I don't know if I'd abandon you or not. I'm not sure if I'd advise you to flee if I stay to defend and barricade the classroom. I have no idea how to disarm a gunman, and neither do any of you. I'm very much not sure if the official policy is the proper course of action.

I suppose that, if I didn't hear the shooting and instead heard an announcement of a gunman on the premises, I'd go with the barricade. Like I said, we'd stand a fair chance of getting the doors blocked and holding the gunner off. If the gun shots were just outside the classroon door, I'd be out the window with the quickness, and I don't think I'd try to stop any of you who tried to flee out of a window. I wouldn't risk the hallway for all the riches of the Far East, but that window would be mightttttttttttyyyyyy tempting.

Run towards the sirens, and don't mouth off to the cops when you get there. They may knock you down and search you, so don't take it personally. Shucks, thank them when they're done, because their presence pretty much ensures your safety at that point.

The final decision is yours. It's a horrible thing to have to think about, the stakes are enormous, and your best defense is to cower in the balance that exists between the sheer mass of schools in America vs. the few maniacs who go into them and start shooting.

Anyhow, start thinking. Welcome to the real world, kids... I'm sorry that we handed it to you like this."

Take our poll.

Should the U.S. add gun control laws & ban assault weapons?

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Boss Kevin Murphy & Boss Tweed

News From Falmouth's Tammany Hall

 "I don't care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating"

                                                                   -  William M. "Boss" Tweed

And here I always thought the Falmouth Selectmen met at Town Hall.  Silly me. Now that the present Republican majority has taken over, Murphy, Braga and Putnam, it's starting to look like the old Tammany Hall Democratic machine in New York.  The recent appointment of the very wet-behind-the-ears Andrew Putnam to the Cape Cod Commission is a clear example.

That one would even make Boss Tweed blush, and it betrays the same kind of arrogance that characterized Tweed's "leadership" of the Tammany Hall machine.              Young Andrew, age 22, is a nice, pleasant young man whose only apparent qualification for the appointment is that he happens to be the son of Brent Putnam, Vice Chairman of the Falmouth Board of Selectmen.  Andrew was one of only two candidates for the position, the other being 70 year old Dr. Edward Gross, a long time Falmouth resident with ten years involvement in town affairs, having served as Chairman of the Bikeways Committee and as a Falmouth representative on the county-wide Joint Transportation Committee.

             Young Andrew's dear old Dad, Brent Putnam, of course went through the obligatory dumb show of recusing himself from both the interview process and the voting, to give the proceedings a veneer of impartiality.  That, however, doesn't even begin to cover the stench of politically driven patronage that emanates from young Mr. Putnam's appointment to be Falmouth's representative on the Cape Cod Commission. 

             In explaining his preference for young Mr. Putnam over Dr. Gross, Chairman Kevin E. Murphy said, with a perfectly straight face, that Dr. Gross has no business experience. Wow!  That one would even make Boss Tweed blush, and it betrays the same kind of arrogance that characterized Tweed's "leadership" of the Tammany Hall machine.

                                                            

                                                                            Boss  Kevin Murphy

                                                         

                                                                              Boss Tweed

             Tweed had no compunction about demeaning the intelligence of his constituents, once telling the editors of Harper's Weekly that he didn't care what they wrote about him because his constituents didn't read, but he complained about Thomas Nast's cartoons as "them damned pictures."  So it is with Chairman Murphy's explanation about Dr. Gross' supposed lack of business experience as a reason to appoint Andrew Putnam instead.  Boss Murphy apparently doesn't believe the Falmouth voters are intelligent enough to see through his explanation of the little dog-and-pony show he, Putnam and Braga put on  with this appointment.

            In the first place, Dr. Gross is not simply a physician. He has in fact run a major hospital corporation, which is high level business experience.  In the second place, the Cape Cod Commission is not a businessmen's club.  It's not the Chamber of Commerce.  It is a regulatory agency that oversees many aspects of county-wide planning, where commerce is only one area of concern, on equal footing with transportation and recreational access, two areas in which Dr. Gross has highly relevant experience.

             But the third point about Chairman Murphy's dismissive comment on Dr.Gross' relative qualifications is the real kicker.  Even if Dr. Gross did not have any business experience, and even if that were somehow critical to being appointed the Commission, young Andrew Putnam, at age 22, has never even had a real job, never mind experience running a business.  Just how stupid does Murphy think the voters of Falmouth are? 

             Meanwhile, the third member of the GOP troika on Falmouth's Board of Selectmen, David Braga, insists there was "no back room deal" on the appointment.  He says he "spoke with no-one" about it, and that's surely true only because he didn't have to.  The ward heelers in the old Tammany machine never had to speak with Boss Tweed to know how to vote either.  Duh!  

 That clearly betrays an utter contempt for both the voters' intelligence and the importance of the Commission.           The fact that young Mr. Putnam recently came in last in the election for the Cape Cod Assembly of Delegates was also brought up as a real good reason to appoint him to the Commission, despite his utter lack of qualifications.  He lost that race because he lacked the necessary experience, so this appointment will give him some good experience for future political campaigns.  Did I mention arrogance here ? 

           The voters rejected Andrew Putnam for an important County wide seat because he lacked experience, so the Republican Selectmen  appoint a relative cipher, over an eminently qualified candidate, to be a delegate to the equally important Cape Cod Commission just so he can put it on his resume' for future political campaigns.  That clearly betrays an utter contempt for both the voters' intelligence and the importance of the Commission itself.  The Commission is a county-wide planning agency, created to coordinate regulation of development in the several Cape Cod Towns.  It's not a patronage pool for political wannabes or ideological sycophants as Boss Murphy apparently believes.

           The obvious fact is that young Andrew Putnam's only qualification for the appointment, and the only one that mattered to Murphy and Braga, is ideological.  It is the pro-business, anti-regulatory ideology he shares with his father Brent Putnam.  And if anyone thinks young Andrew will be anything close to an independent voice on the Commission, without simply parroting the "free market" nonsense he has so diligently absorbed at his father's knee, well,  I've got a bridge in Sagamore I can sell you for only a hundred bucks.

          The parallel with Tammany Hall is also crystal clear from the way this appointment was made.  Normally, at the insistence of none other than Brent Putnam by the way, interviews for appointments are made on one evening and the vote is taken on another evening a week later.  But this time?  No-o-o-o! It had to be done all on one night, slam, bam, thank you ma'am, for the obvious reason that Selectwoman Pat Flynn was absent that night.

The parallel with Tammany Hall is also crystal clear from the way this appointment was made.           Had Pat Flynn been present for the vote, both she and Selectman Doug Jones would have voted for  Dr. Gross who was by far the  most  qualified cadidate for the position.  So Chairman Murphy  just pushed the vote on the one evening where Andrew Putnam's appointment could be assured.  This was a classic Boss Tweed power play.  As Tweed once remarked, "the way to have power is to take it," and that's just what Boss Murphy did to get Andrew Putnam appointed, changing the procedural protocols to take advantage of Pat Flynn's temporary absence.

           Let me make one thing very clear.  I am not suggesting that Murphy, Braga or Putnam did anything to violate the criminal laws or the ethics laws, not in the least.  Everything they did was out in the open, arrogantly so, and it was "all perfectly legal."  That, however, is one of the sleasiest expressions in the English Language, always used to justify dishonest, unfair or  morally corrupt actions for the simple reason they do not violate any law -as if that is all we  have a right to expect from our elected leaders.  

          It's not just the absurdity of the appointment itself, however, nor the inanity of the reasons to justify it given by Murphy and Braga.  It is the "perfectly legal" chicanery they used, in a blatant effort to evade an honest and fair process for making  the appointment, that reeks so highly of Tammany Hall.  It is the fact that this appointment, rife with implicit nepotism in addition to cynical political hackery, can only serve to deter good, solidly qualified candidates like Dr. Gross from seeking appointments as Town delegates in the future.  Oh, did I mention the arrogance?

         Boss  Tweed was known for getting himself and his associates offices, one after the other, by taking them with or without right, until he held the power of the state.  When challenged, he would simply say "what are you going to do about it."   Well, in this case, the voters of Falmouth will be able to do something about it the next time the equally arrogant Murphy, Braga and Putnam come up for re-election. 

         Not even a recount will help Boss Murphy next time, like two years ago when he edged Paul Brodeur by only four votes, because I know there are many more Falmouth voters who can read than Tweed had in 19th Century New York.  I intend to make sure this story of Falmouth's own 21st Century Tammany Hall gets told in print again, and again, reminding the voters of just how much contempt our three Republican Selectmen have for our intelligence as well as the public interest.

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Okay, so which is it?

A lot of people who are true Cape Codders are familiar with the destruction that can be caused by natural disasters. One good hurricane can destroy quite a few homes and leave people homeless and devastated. It goes beyond mere inconvenience.

When I was a kid my father took the family on a drive to see the hurricane damage to those houses close to the beach, and I am sure it took a lot more than a few neighbors gathering around a house, grabbing it by the bottom, and with a good “heave ho” returning it to its foundation as electrical and plumbing connections were somehow miraculously re-attached. And I am sure a lot of people did not just move back into their homes after merely brushing themselves off, and mopping up the water on the floor.

We have all seen the pictures of what happened on New Jersey shore and parts of New York when hurricane Sandy hit, and most of us know that to recover from that mess it will take a lot more than a lawn rake and a little red wagon to remove the rubble in order to find a miraculously rebuilt house where the old, ruined one was. Lives have been severely affected by this, and for much longer than just s few days.

When it comes to tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes, anyone who has been there is grateful that the federal government steps in to help with recovery when homes, businesses, and dreams are destroyed. Its almost taken for granted that FEMA and other recovery programs will step in and help us out.

Oh, but wait. There is that “fiscal cliff”, and so far it appears that reasonable people are beginning to see that some of the president's ideas may be the good ones and the Republicans have had to back off from the petulant approach to things and may have to really compromise.

But, of course, they do need to save face.

Last week the White House asked for $60 billion to help rebuild all that damage, and more, that we have seen in the post Sandy pictures and news reports, but some Republicans are threatening to hold up the relief for weeks or months unless it is offset by budget cuts, specifically Representatives Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Steve King of Iowa, Raul Labrador of Idaho, and Jeff Landry of Louisianna, a state that got quite a bit of aid after Katrina with no such reluctance.

Representative Scott Garrett of New Jersey called disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy “wasteful spending”. Now that must make Sandy victims in his home state glad he speaks for them.

There seems to be a theme here though. While the conservative wing of the Republican party cut the budget for security of foreign embassies only to complain that there was inadequate security in Benghazi, Rep Issa being a fine example of this, House Republicans cut disaster relief in the budget in a 2011 spending measure and, again, cut it this year to preserve military spending. The GOP also went back on a deal it struck with Democrats to make emergency disaster relief funding easier in the future. Now they want to hold up disater relief because it is not in the budget.

They prevented what they now demand, and are holding Sandy's victims hostage in their bid to win something in the “fiscal cliff” debates.

They need to be slapped and sent to their rooms.

Barnstable Senior Center offers Handmade Holiday Craft Items Saturday until 3pm

The wonderful Crafters are having a Holiday Craft Fair today at the Barnstable Senior Center located on 825 Falmouth Road (Rte. 28) in Hyannis. It's a fantastic opportunity to find some beautiful and affordable handmade gifts for friends and family. There are mittens, scarves and afghans galore, as well as some really cool gift baskets and ornaments. Please stop by if you can - all proceeds benefit the Barnstable Senior Center Sunshine Fund which helps seniors in need in our community. Help them reach their fundraising goal. Last year they raised over $7,000! The Craft Fair will run until 3pm.

# # #

Falmouth's Team - And Its Rightful Place in Our Hearts

Falmouth Commodores has seen a fair amount of internal tumult

Entrepreneur, thinker, and great American business icon Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” As simple as it sounds, that concept of progress and continued improvement is a wonderful theoretical notion, but can be difficult when played out with real life as its backdrop. In any organization, truly working together takes patience, effort, mutual respect, and a common goal. Sometimes, that working together is among the members of an entire community.

The best and the worst that Falmouth has to offer.Mike White knows all about that. As a long-time member of the Falmouth Fire and Rescue Department, Mike has seen the best – and unfortunately the worst – that Falmouth has to offer. He’s a very positive guy by nature, though, and when he’s not wearing the white of a Captain, spends much of his time volunteering his efforts to make Falmouth a better community. He helped create and cultivated a girls’ ice hockey program that thrives today. He also serves as the new Vice President of what he calls “Falmouth’s Team,” our local Cape Cod Baseball League franchise, the Falmouth Commodores.

Recently, “Falmouth’s Team” has seen a fair amount of internal tumult that has been widely publicized, distracting the team and its fans from its baseball mission. According to the Commodores though, that’s yesterday’s news. Along with new team President Steve Kostas, new General Manager Eric Zmuda, and a couple of new Board members (including this scribe), the entire organization has renewed its focus and desire to be a positive asset to the community. I attended my first board meeting last month, and left brimming with confidence and optimism that one of the finest sports organizations around is back on track and headed back to its rightful place as one of Falmouth’s true gems.

That gem will be shining brightly as the Commodores welcome new Boston Red Sox Manager John Farrell to a “Hot Stove” event next month, where two of my favorite things – talking and baseball – take center stage for a night to remember. The event is scheduled for Thursday, January 10th at 6PM at the New Seabury Country Club. Newly appointed field boss of the Sox Farrell will join Commodores Skipper Jeff Trundy for some good, old fashioned baseball talk, which will include questions from the audience. Barring a second Falmouth visit from Santa himself, this evening of making memories should be the highlight of the winter. All proceeds from this event will benefit the Commodores. Additional information is available on the team’s Facebook page, or the team website at www.falmouthcommodores.com . I’ll be there, and am eager to here what’s in store for the Sox, as a lifelong fan and someone who slept on the sidewalk for two nights in 1986 to get World Series tickets. Yup. I’m a fan.

As excited as I am though, to learn about the Sox’ rebuilding efforts, I’m more excited about the efforts of Falmouth’s team to do some rebuilding – some community rebuilding – of its own. The hot stove event is just a piece of a wider effort to re-engage with the Commodores’ home base and host community. The team has recently redoubled its efforts to participate in the fabric of this great town. Board members have made a commitment to be a presence at community events, including the Chamber of Commerce, and you can expect to see Homer, the team mascot and official spreader of good will, around town.

The Commodores want to celebrate Falmouth, and for Falmouth to celebrate its team right back. President Steve Kostas, GM Eric Zmuda, and other prominent Falmouthites like Dr. Don O’Malley and Gary Rabesa, who have given of themselves and their time as volunteer directors for Falmouth’s team, agree. So do I. So come along, Falmouth, and join in welcoming back Falmouth’s team to its rightful place in our hearts.

Yoga with your dog

Yoga with weights - you can use anything around the house, no need for special equipment - if you have a willing dog, they just may enjoy doing Doga with you.


(Tara pictured above is our rescue dog from Lucky Lab- the best little easy going personality you have ever met! a note - if you are thinking of getting a new pet dog for the holidays: 8 million dogs get put in kill shelters per year, 4 million of them get killed - that is one dog euthanized every 6 seconds.  25 % of them are purebreds - many people treat their dogs and other pets as if they are disposable - great for under the Christamas tree and then the novelty wears off - when the novelty wears off,  appreciating the loyalty and unconditional  love is the next step - not a kill shelter.)
http://youtu.be/9MvDsk1MdZs

On your death bed

Okay, so you work your whole adult life paying into Social Security each paycheck.

The plan is that at some point you will retire and perhaps spend a few years at the end of your life relaxing; doing some things that you enjoy, but didn't have time for because you were working; or, perhaps, enjoying what time you can with your family.

It might not be a whole lot of years with a whole lot of money, but it is the quality, not the quantity.

Now, so that the financial advantages that some people have had and the financial mistakes others have made can be paid back, even though Social Security is self sustaining and does not take any federal funds ( although there have been occasions when the federal government has "borrowed" a little here and there to cover its expenses, and if it paid back didn't include the interest the money would have accrued if left untouched), they have come up with a plan.

Raise the age that working people can start getting back on their working days' investment, so they will be older before they can get any.

The average number of people who will die before they will get any money increases, and there is less money touched. Yeah, they might be able to leave it to a spouse, but the spouse is older too and also closer to death.

So basically the plan is to have more people die before they can touch the money.

Those who push this plan are banking on you dying. Your death is an integral part of the plan.

They, however, have greater and more substantial retirement plans that kick in in far less time than your Social Security will, so they won't need to worry. They will get their money much sooner than you will get yours, if you live long enough.

How unfairly morbid is that?

 

Barnstable Today: Thursday, December 13, 2012

The train is coming to Cape Cod - weekend service from Boston will begin Memorial Day weekend. Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority Administrator Tom Cahir tells us all about it..on this episode of Barnstable Today.

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Daja Vu Cape Vaca & Arabic Buttered Rice

      This week has been an interesting week as I have had to take vacation time or loose it. So I have done the touristy thing all week. I have gone to Chatham and walked to streets and gone into anything that was open. I went to the Lighthouse as I have many times before, only this time I did not have to fight for a spot to park. I air was cool and the wind was blowing so it was a little nippy, but I went down to the beach and walked the tide line looking for shells and anything interesting that might have washed up with the seaweed. But just had a nice time walking out in the salt air, with not much of a care. Was a good reminder of years gone by few moments, when my folks used to let me run on the beach by myself and not have to worry about a thing. Where have those days gone. Then took a trip up the back roads around North Chatham admiring all the views off the coast between beautiful homes with wreaths hung out for the season. Finally I meandered my way on up 28 along Pleasant Bay to Orleans. I discovered a whole town that somehow I have missed in the past. And Snow's,, way not good for my wallet, this place is way cool. I will definitely be going back when I have a few extra dollars to spend, unless a rich unknown uncle dies and leaves me a ton of money I didn't know about then I will be back sooner, ok see you later folks.

      Then I took a trip back to Hyannis and talked up and down the streets. Yes stores are open and there are things to see and places to go. No not everything, but for all the years I had not been in the Kandy Korner. I know some of you are rolling over right now asking where have I been. But really there are some places I just have passed over for one reason or another. Went back to Red Fish Blue Fish, and Mrs Mitchell's, and many others. I went over the Christmas Tree Shop and than drove back down 28 to Bass Outlet and ended up at the 99 for a mid afternoon appetizer treat and a Cape Cod Red. Oh and I threw in Cuffy's along the way. This feels like a vacation from years gone past. The only difference is less money now and just not as many store to spend what I don't have. 
      Today my journey took me to up to Route 6A and than west, out of Barnstable to the Christmas Shop, that little elf cottage of a place that is nothing but Christmas all day every day, I love that place, they always have so many different ornaments and advent calenders. Than moving on towards Sandwich I stopped at Mrs Mugs and the little shop across the street. Darn wish I could remember the name really fun place and a lot of neat things. Finally to Sandwich and walked up and down the streets from the brown Jug to A Room for all Seasons and down the street. Drove past the Grist Mill and the Sandwich Glass Museum. I choose to pass that up this time as dollars were thin today. This finished up my morning and decided since I was out this far to take the trip down the canal to Falmouth and Woods Hole as I wanted a picture of Nobska with the wreath. Such a beautiful afternoon and sitting out across from the lighthouse looking out into the bay watching the ferries and fishing boats going in and out of the Harbor to and from Martha's Vineyard. Finally I took the longer way along the coast just enjoying the shoreline back up to 28 than finally making my way back to Mashpee Commons. I spent the rest of the what was left of the afternoon wondering in and out of the shops just looking and enjoying the Christmas season all about. So that basically finish another day.
      Tomorrow maybe back to do the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory and than west on 6A. Who knows were I might end up, maybe even my local transfer station just to wish them a Merry Christmas. And to think somewhere between the next couple of days I want to get another batch of cookies made to share with my neighbors. 
      Well this really is a living memory lane of things of the past being done today. Sometimes we get so busy with work and living in an area like the Cape that we forget to take a trip or two every once in a while and remind ourselves why we moved here or why we so enjoy living here. Time was needed whether or not I thought I needed to take some time off and just get out of the house. So when was the last time you got out of the house, or when was the last time you took a weekend to the Cape in the last Fall/early Winter. Maybe it's time there is much to do and even more to see. 
      Well I'll check the oil levels in the lighthouse lamp and will be sure the lens is clean so the beacon is shinning bright. Have a great and wonderful and even double that if you can do it while on old Cape Cod.
      One might think what am I doing offering Arabic Rice at this time of year. Well if you think about it, it really does fit. If you talk about the Wise men that traveled out of Babylon and followed the star to the east where the new born child lay, well, pretty much that were of Arabic background. So what better way to breach the ethnic part of Christmas and offer something directly out of the Middle East. Did I really think this one through when choosing the recipe for this week, nope but it happened to fall this way, some things you just can't plan this well. Anyway I said I wanted to introduce us to new and different dishes. Well this is one of those that that fits that bill, and it is easy and does not take much to do. So give this one a simmer and hope you find a new rice dish friend. Have a great and happy around the kitchen this Holiday, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year season. 
 
      Now this week's recipe: Arabic Buttered Rice
 
  •       1      stick      Butter
  •    1/4      cup        Orzo Noodles
  •       3      cups      Uncle Ben's Long Grain Rice
  •       3      cubes    Chicken Bouillon 
  •       1      Tbsp      Salt
  •       4      cup        Boiling Water
      
      Melt butter in saucepan. Brown Orzo in butter. Ad rice and bouillon cubes. Stir. Add four cups boiling water cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Turn off heat but leave pan on burner for an additional 5 minutes. Serve.

Attention Bargain Shoppers...

I made the mistake earlier this week to venture into Hyannis[1], and, as has been the tradition, was told[2] by my daughter to go to the carousel in the mall.  This is what I dislike so much about this time of year.  It was a rainy Monday afternoon, so trying to find a parking space was more difficult than recounting Dennis Miller’s career after Monday Night Football.

I started to think about all of the “bargain stores” that have become so popular today, like Target[3], Wal-Mart, and K-mart. Finally, I recalled the one place that is the epitome of bargain shopping in New England.  A place where testosterone is turned into scented candles.  None other than: 

Christmas Tree Shops.

You name it, you can buy it here.  Picture frames? Yup.  Snow blower? Sure thing.  Winter gloves?  You betcha, of course they only have three fingers.

Christmas Tree Shops distorts what normal consumers view shopping as.  No one goes to Christmas Tree Shop with a list.  They go in for one item, and then get sucked into the vortex of cheaply-made, off-brand merchandise[4].  You were told that this would be a good place to get inexpensive garlic powder[5], or a jumbo bag of Goldfish crackers[6].  Next thing you know, you are convincing yourself that you do need a special snow-shovel drying rack[7].

         If only the funny line from "Rain Man" was about Christmas Tree Shops.             

 

It’s hilarious to watch people in the store.  As I said before no one has a list, or has any organization to their attack of the store.  They wander the aisles aimlessly, like a dog on mushrooms.

They do sell furniture and home décor items there.  You only make that mistake once[8].  Their furniture is a lot like the stuff at Ikea.  Only instead of wood or particle board, they build it with wet cardboard.  Economists are puzzled how prices can be so low here.  The first five items you see, you are shocked at the value. 

Picture frames for $1.99?!

Car Batteries for $2.49?!!?!

Then you spot something for $7.99 and you are disgusted at the “markup.”     

Why did they name the stores “Christmas Tree” Shops? You know what you do with a Christmas Tree?  After one month you have to take it to the dump, burn it in your yard, or leave it on the side of the highway.  Thus explains all of the Christmas Tree Shop dining room chairs with three legs on the median of Rte 495.

When family visits, we oblige and accompany them to “that marvelous place.”  Then, somehow three items for $1.99 each turned into $50.  Joke is on us though, because they keep building new locations[9].  So let us spread the word that these stores must cease to exist!  It is not a “good buy” if it breaks before you make it to the checkout line.  

Therefore, I exclaim today that I will never again enter one of these horrid stores!

Oh, wait...

 

Nevermind.  I just found a 20% off coupon.  I’ll just run in for a couple things.

 

-Grumpy Boy out.

 

 



[1] Aka “Brockton by the sea.”

[2] She tells me what to do.  It’s not, “Daddy, can we…” but rather “Daddy, now we will…”  Just another woman in my life telling me what to do.

[3] The Cape definitely needs one of these.

[4] Look kids! It's Jora, the Eastern-European Explorer!!

[5] Made from no garlic whatsoever.

[6] Due to Trademark issues, they re-branded the crackers as “Silverfish.”  Bad move.

[7] Only $4.99.

[8] Or in my case, five times.

[9] We must stop this hideous creature from respawning!

Scalia kills the Bill of Rights.

Originally the concern surrounding Justice Scalia's speech at Princeton University this past Monday was his apparent equating being Gay with being a murderer or a person into bestiality, and why he feels laws banning all three are equal.

In defense of this idea he stated, " If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?"

How impartial and unbiased can he be if he starts with the premise that Gay people are intrinsically  immoral?I am a little concerned that there are those who may have a moral objection to a number of things like women voting or certain religious groups, or pehaps even a moral objection to the abolition of slavery.

The concern with this is that he will be hearing two cases coming before the Supreme Court in the next few months dealing with same-sex marriage. One concerns the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and the other California's Proposition 8 that has been found unconstitutional by a circuit court whose decision has been appealed by those who promoted the proposition.

How impartial and unbiased can he be if he starts with the premise that Gay people are intrinsically  immoral?

But there is another concern that people need to pay attention to as well.

Justice Scalia has taken aim at those who view the Constitution as a "living document" that grows with the times.

"It isn't a living document," Scalia said. "It's dead, dead, dead, dead."

Scalia said that interpreting laws requires adherence to the words used and to their meanings at the time they were written. This would seem to ignore that there are things and conditions today that did not exist in the 18th Century.

Justice Scalia has gone further by claiming that the Bill Of Rights is nothing more than an afterthought that is really not part of our Constitution. Free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of Religion, freedom of the press, the right to petition the government for redress of wrongs are all, according to Scalia, the same things that banana republics have.

“Every tinhorn dictator of the world has a bill of rights,” Scalia said.

The Bill of Rights is dead. Won't the various religions like that.

And when asked what justice he thought was the best, poor Scott Brown said it was Scalia.

I do not think there are too many American Citizens today who would think the Bill of Rights is irrelevant.

Yoga down dog pose with a holiday prop

Here we demonstrate a yoga pose which is the opposite of sitting in a cart - so much better for your core and legs and arm strength. Downward facing dog usually has all four paws on the ground - but our dogpose got up in the cart this afternoon.

http://youtu.be/HTVPsB4jDUs

In the fires of life, We Ask the Question: Why?

By Greg O'Brien

Codfish Press

One of the smallest, most powerful words in the dictionary is "why".

A fire allegedly caused by an arsonist raced through Brewster's Cape Cod Bible Alliance Church early on Nov. 30 with the intensity of the furnaces of Nebuchadnezzar, consuming all but some supporting walls and a large wooden cross a couple of days before the start of Advent.

The question "why,'' and all the confronting doubts along with it, swept up otherwise peaceful Route 6A with the force of a holy inquest. The supporting walls and cross were bulldozed at first light into a seething pile; firefighters kept the cross standing for as long as possible. The scene was captured in Boston and Providence television reports and in newspapers across America.
 
No one had an answer. Not Pastor Myron Heckman, not his faithful congregation, not Brewster Police Chief Dick Koch or Town Administrator Charlie Sumner, not other pastors, monsignors or rabbis, not the stunned, caring parents of 29-year-old Adam Finnegan, accused of setting the fire, and probably not the young man himself as he wrestles demons within and a long history of mental illness.Why? One might as well ponder how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. We don't know the answer. We're not God, just vessels of the Almighty when the spirit moves.
 
At this time of Christmas, Hanukkah and some other religious observances, collectively we are far more attuned to an all-loving superior being. My place here is not to define that Divine Being but to point to a collective, persevering will when darkness casts its longest shadow. Faith, as the Old Testament and New Testament proclaim, is believing in what one cannot see. Is that folly or is that wisdom?
 
Why?
Just look to the 350-member congregation of Cape Cod Bible Alliance Church and all those of unshaken faith who support the church. "I really have to practice what I preach now," Pastor Heckman told the media candidly. Indeed he does, along with his congregation, which has reached out in unconditional mercy despite the loss of their sanctuary, a lifetime of memories, and a connection of spirit that we all so fundamentally seek in our lives.
 
At the makeshift service Dec. 2 at the Stony Brook Elementary School cafeteria--sans stained- glass windows, wooden pews and carpets -- the Cape Cod Bible Alliance Church rose from the ashes in a word picture that would have made Michelangelo proud.
 
In his sermon, "Beauty For Ashes," Pastor Heckman preached on Isaiah 61:3, a passage with faith relevance in times of desperate need: "To all who mourn... the Lord will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair."
Counseled Heckman, "The Lord builds out of a test of fire." That includes forgiveness. The Cape Cod Bible Alliance Church has forgiven the man charged with horrifying arson, and has reached out to his parents in love. The Greeks call it Agape.
 
Pastor Heckman concluded his Sunday sermon with a reference to the Book of Daniel, a passage about Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylon, around 600 B.C., who ordered three godly men, Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, into a "fiery furnace,'' stoked seven times, for failing to worship the king's idol. As the passage recounts, four men walked freely and unharmed inside the furnace as Nebuchadnezzar watched in astonishment. The fourth man, the Old Testament tells us, was the Son of God.
 
"The Lord is in the smoldering ruins of our lives," comforted Heckman.
Several hours earlier, after standing by helplessly as flames consumed his church, Pastor Heckman had called the Brewster Fire Station to provide names and phone numbers of the church leadership for follow-up outreach.
 
"You the pastor?" asked a firefighter who answered the phone.
 
"Yes," Heckman responded. "It's a total, devastating loss."
 
The firefighter paused, then offered in reassuring faith, "God is good!"
 
Amen. No matter what your personal values, beliefs or eschatology, in this season of reflection, there is light on a hill off Route 6A in Brewster. Let it shine.
Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah!
 

Barnstable Today: Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On this episode of Barnstable Today: Chief of Police Paul MacDonald and Director of Regulatory Services Tom Geiler chime in on the town's proposed problem property ordinances - plus an update from Growth Management and details on how you can vote online to help Barnstable United Elementary build a new outdoor space.

CapeCodToday.Com Sponsor:

Colateral "fiscal cliff" damage.

Studies, and experience, have shown that teachers spend quite a bit of out-of-pocket money to make sure their students have the necessary school supplies for the school year. Sadly, and too often, school districts count on this as they slash budgets, and move money out of the classroom and into administrative salaries and new positions created by their assumed need to get out of district help in improving student learning while ignoring teachers already in the classroom with methods that could accomplish this even more effectively than companies and consultants who will claim to be able to do the same thing for a high price.

The $2,000 lost by teachers in order to keep the top 2% from having their taxes raised will be removed from the equation.

Heavy Traffic On Sagamore Bridge Today

Left Lane Closed Going Each Way

Traffic was snarled this morning as some work began on the Sagamore Bridge. They have a lane closed in each direction. At her worst, the traffic going off Cape at about 10 AM was backed up for 4 miles, all the way to Rte. 130.

Expect more of the same tonight as people start returning home from work. I'm not sure what time the workers knock off for the day (I'm guessing 5 PM), but things could get sketchy before then.

Either way... plan, like, accordingly and stuff. We'll be back with an update if need be.

Patriots Smash On Texans

New England 42, Houston 14
We were up 21-0 before Houston knew what hit them

People all around New England are reporting to work very late today, and with skull-breaking hangovers. Why? Because the New England Patriots played on Monday Night Football, and we beat the Houston Texans down like Rhianna.

The final score was 42-14, but it really wasn't that close. We were up 21-0 before Houston knew what hit them. We gave it to them Old Country Way, and we made them humble.

It wasn't supposed to be this easy. Houston had the best record in the NFL at 11-1. They have the guy everyone chooses first in fantasy football drafts, RB Arian "Race" Foster. They have a guy widely viewed as the 2nd best WR in football, Andre Johnson. They have JJ "Say" Watt, who, if he had a better night rushing the QB, would be seriously chasing the NFL all-time sack record as the season closed.

It didn't matter. They got whaled upon like the Pequod.

Tom Brady threw for almost 300 yards, and he had 4 touchdowns. Aaron Hernandez (above) caught two of them. Brandon Lloyd also banked a couple of scores, including his recovery of a fumble that rolled into the opponent's end zone. Donte Stallworth returned to the team and caught a 63 yard bomb for yet another touchdown. Stevan Ridley saved my fantasy team with a late, pointless score that I cheered wildly for.

Houston still leads the AFC, and would host the playoff games right up until the Super Bowl. The Patriots are one up on Baltimore for the #2 seeding after the Ravens got swatted by Washington. We may play Houston again, and it may be in Texas next time. The last time we got Houston in the playoffs, we suffered through what my father forever referred to as "the Earl Campbell game."

Like we said... Houston is still the top team in both the AFC and (I think) the whole NFL. However, after last night, there is no question who the best team in the AFC is. New England is 10-3, and they have games remaining against Miami and Jacksonville. Their next game is Sunday night, against San Francisco.

"Houston is a cruel, crazy town on a filthy river in East Texas with no zoning laws and a culture of sex, money and violence. It's a shabby, sprawling metropolis ruled by brazen women, crooked cops and super-rich pansexual cowboys who live by the code of the West - which can mean just about anything you need it to mean, in a pinch."

Fast and Good Breakfast

In this day and age when fast food is just a nuke away and seconds in our hands, you have to wonder if you could have just grabbed something from home and for less money. I always enjoy a quick breakfast sandwich when I am on the go and one grows  tired of the fast food dance. It's always good the first time you have it but after repeated  visits it gets old or loses the quality that we should get. But after all it is fast food and we can't expect too much from it; or should we ?

Along my breakfast journey, I have found a local business who serves up smiles, small talk and tasty food. Bagels and Beyond serve up truly delicious fresh bagels made that morning.  Now why have a nuked sandwhich when you can have a freshly grilled sandwich made just the way you like and believe me it's always as good as the first time. The prices are reasonable with a basic egg and cheese on a bagel for 1.99. 

 BAGEL SANDWICHES

Start your day with a delicious Egg sandwich on a freshly baked bagel of your choice!1.69 

Egg and cheese.............................1.99 

Egg cheese and ham, bacon, sausage or limguica..2.99 

CROISSANT SANDWICHES
Enjoy a breakfast sandwich on a butter croissant are baked right there! Egg...................................2.39
Egg and cheese..
.......................2.69
Egg, cheese and bacon, ham, sausage or linguica...3.69

Check out their menu and support a local business with good food.

 Read the menu here.

Karma?

Elizabeth Warren served as a civilian on Congress' TARP oversight panel. She created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but the friends of Wall Street in Washington refused to appoint her as its head. Obviously she would have gone after Wall Street, and this was a huge inconvenience. It would have resulted in revising Wall Street regulations, and those who benefited from an unfettered Wall Street would lose what they had been gaining even as it was hurting the avereage American.

One of her main complaints during her Senate campaign was that those who had done the damage to America, resulting in the financial mess we have been dealing with, not only never faced any punishment, but have been allowed to give each other multi-million dollar bonuses while the average American suffers.

Now, as Senator Warren she will finally have the chance to deal with the country's top bankers face-to-face. She is getting a seat on the Senate Banking Committee. Now she'll be the one blocking appointments and questioning witnesses once the new Congressional term begins in January.

She will not have strong, unlimited powers in this as she is the junior member of the banking committee, and she won't have final say on the committee's agenda, but she can influence its thinking.

So Wall Street may be losing its comfort zone.

Making Jam the Old Fashioned Way

Last weekend my friend and I spent a lovely morning at a jam making class at the Green Briar Nature Center in Sandwich.  This post isn’t exactly a green tip, but rather a description of class that is a true throwback to an era when life was slower and simpler, a time when you only used ingredients you or your neighbors grew, a time when people took the time to talk to one another without smart phones, without Facebook, without Twitter.

The Green Briar Nature Center is located in a charming old house near a pond and adjacent to the famous Briar Patch of the Thornton Burgess’s children’s stories.  There are nature trails, a spectacular wildflower garden and a natural history library.  The center also offers year round weekly jam making classes in an old-fashioned, turn-of-the-century (and I mean the 20th century!) kitchen.   The recipes are the originals from the early 1900’s.  We made cranberry hot pepper jam.   The cranberries were local and came from the farm next to ours in East Sandwich.  The ingredients and jam making utensils were laid out nicely for each participant.  My friend is an expert jam maker, but even for a novice like me it was easy.  Friendly volunteers guided us through each step, making sure when the jam was ready to be jarred, we did it correctly.   Lined up one right after the other, we chopped and stirred, talked and learned about each other’s lives, and asked questions of the more experienced jam makers.  It reminded me of the old quilting bees when woman would gather and sew and chat.  In the jam making class, men participate too. 

What a pleasant respite from the hustle, bustle of the holiday season and a special way to spend time with a friend.  What a lovely gift homemade jelly makes!  The center also has a gift shop with more homemade jams and jellies as well as other handcrafted items.    I can’t think of a greener holiday gift than a morning at an authentic jam making class!  Visit www.thorntonburgess.org for more information.

 

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

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Barnstable Today: Monday, December 10, 2012

Fee hearings and school schedule changes: details on this episode of Barnstable Today.

Doctors are Human

Doctors and their mistakes

When the medical team makes a serious mistake that can actually kill us

Today, I’m touching on the topic with doctors and their mistakes. Why? Because a week ago, it hit home! Isn’t it true? Anything that affects us personally makes us sit up and take notice when the medical team makes a serious mistake that can actually kill us.

Something as simple as detecting a gallbladder attack has to be a normal routine exam for doctors. Only my husband’s wasn’t discovered for over a year, if not longer. He had been constantly told by three doctors that his discomfort in his stomach and vomiting numerous times was from his hiatal hernia that had pushed half his stomach into his chest. Maalox and a special diet were to be followed. These special instructions never stopped his symptoms: throwing up, chills for over an hour followed by sweats, leaving his pajamas and bed sheets drenched. No fever seemed to show up. He had multiple hospital stays from aspiration pneumonia from so much vomiting.

Late the next afternoon, he suddenly got nauseated, vomited four times and had severe stomach pain. From his having had a heart attack two years ago, I rushed him to the Emergency Room. November 27th, my husband was to start a series of three tests to have the surgery to bring his stomach down to where it belonged. After an endoscopy and colonoscopy, he came home feeling good with no bad symptoms.

Late the next afternoon, he suddenly got nauseated, vomited four times and had severe stomach pain. From his having had a heart attack two years ago, I rushed him to the Emergency Room.

If it wasn’t for the doctor on call, we might have been at square one sending him home with the same results for over a year; acid reflex. My husband’s blood pressure was 253/115 and my fears rose when morphine didn’t touch his pain for over five hours and three pills of nitroglycerin under his tongue didn’t drop his blood pressure. 

The doctor ordered the same regular past tests he’s had over and over again: EKG’s, blood test, chest x-rays, etc.  With no results, she went one step further and ordered him to take a drink for a cats-scan. The results: a serious inflamed and infected gallbladder that had been over-looked for a year.

Someone might say to us, “Well, at least they found the problem.” But it goes deeper than that. Five days in the hospital with antibiotics in an IV and a day set for surgery. What a relief!  The infected organ would finally be out of his body never to cause him to suffer with this undetected illness.

Only it wasn’t that simple. I arrived at the hospital hoping to see a smile on my husband’s face after surgery showing he was ready to get on with life from a bad nightmare. 

Instead, I met the surgeon and found out that his gallbladder was so infected, swollen and inflamed they had to close him up with two drains. Eight weeks is the plan with these two drains before surgery can be attempted again. The surgeon also informed me that my husband had a mild second heart attack from the infection.

We are the only ones responsible for our bodies and healthcare. I understand doctors are human, but how long does one continue down the same path believing a patient has a certain problem, even if their treatment isn’t making them better? Why does one doctor believe the other after a year of no relief? Shouldn’t the first reaction be to get deeper test to find why this patient has been so sick?

I truly believe, if the ER doctor wasn’t determined to get an answer why my husband was so sick, he might have died from a heart attack or from the infection that had trav