Monday, November 26, 2012

Still Here

Last week was busy!  We headed up to the Cape for Thanksgiving.  My mom was also turning 80 over the weekend.  There was lots of family time.  Lots of eating.  Not as much drinking as I thought there might be.  Not enough football really - that's because being up in Mass, I couldn't watch the UCONN game on TV and because I wouldn't call that event on the evening of Thanksgiving between the Jets and Pats a football game.  It was more of a farce.  I'm not a fan of either team so I didn't much care who lost.  But really Jets - really?  Yes, J-E-T-S now stands for Just End The Season to many Jets fans.  I can see why.  Anyway, a good time was had by all.  We even got our uncle to make us crepes for breakfast one morning.  To Die For!  That's showing my French Canadian roots a little.  Took the Acela back home from Boston yesterday, A had to work Saturday, so he went home early.  I really do enjoy train rides.  Tonight, I may take a moment or two and see if I can create our Christmas card - must get it done before snapfish cuts me off!  And it looks like we'll be hosting Christmas at some level.  I will invite my family - but some invitation - "please come for Christmas, but you won't be able to stay here overnight".  The in-laws are headed to Florida the day after Christmas, so we are inviting them to stay overnight rather than heading back 2 1/2 hours away from Florida.  And since our attic room has been taken over by a lot of storage, I'm not sure I can have it guest-ready by Christmas.  Mainly because I'm not sure where we could put everything that we have stored up there!

So - I'm rambling.  Bye.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Some Friday Photos

It snowed Wednesday, so for your viewing pleasure, some first snowfall pictures.  Starring in the photos, none other than the Boom Doggie.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Happiness is....

.....four more years!  I was not an Obama fan right from the start back before the 2008 elections.  In the NY primary, I voted for Clinton.  I felt she had more experience and therefore was the better candidate.  When it turned out to be Obama v McCain, I was unsure where to go.  Voting for a Republican would be hard for me, but McCain was the kind of Republican I could get behind.  I was still concerned about Obama's lack of experience.  Then McCain chose Palin as his running mate.  Game over.  Easy decision.  This time around, it was an easy decision from the start.  While I think President Obama has been only slightly better than average - I would say C+ to B- as a President, I think Romney would have been far worse.  His plans - when he would talk about them - were reminiscent of the days of supply side (aka trickle down) economics.  Those policies failed.  It just doesn't work.  I don't think the next four years are going to be easy.  We need to find a way for Congress to bridge their differences.  We need less concern about individual districts and states and interests and more concern about what policies help the country most overall.  I don't know how Obama supporters would have reacted to a loss, but I'm saddened by some of the ignorant comments I see from Romney supporters.  One such comment was "you should have to pay taxes to vote."  Okay - so college students shouldn't get to vote?  Stay at home moms or dads don't get to vote?  How about people who retired on a disability pension that is tax exempt - they don't get to vote anymore?  The comment was reactionary - thinking that all our problems are a result of those on welfare.  Yes, our welfare system needs further reform.  Yes, people take advantage of the system.  But does our welfare system need more reform than the tax system that allows very wealthy people to pay a lesser percentage of their income in taxes than the middle class, because their wealth allows them to take advantage of tax exemptions or tax provisions?  No.  Both need revision.   Our problems are not solely the result of one system or another.  They are the result of multiple systems and the refusal of our representatives in Washington (both houses here) to give up any of their programs or accept modifications to them.  There has to be give and take from all parties and, as I see it, there is mostly an attitude of "I'll take and you give"  and that just doesn't work.

Monday, November 05, 2012

In the aftermath of Sandy

Saturday morning, A & I went to the Rockaways, to help out at the home of one of A's fellow R-1 firefighters.  A had been down there on Thursday with a couple of other guys to bring S the basics - gas for a generator, propane stove, propane heater, milk and other non-perishables.  On Friday, 7 guys from R-1 showed up to demo his basement - take out all the damaged items, strip the wallboard and start the cleanup.  When we got there Saturday morning, there was a pile 5 or 6 ft high in the street.  As we came through Queens, we could see the flood line by looking at where the garbage was still stuck in the trees and fences.  You could see the storefronts with the moisture on the inside from having been flooded.  Going further, through an area called Broad Channel, there was car after car sitting on the median of a four lane road.  They had been towed there as part of the cleanup.  Again, you could see the moisture on the inside.  There was a boat, blocking one lane, thrown there by Sandy.  We get to S's neighborhood and their is sand everywhere, in the streets, the yards, everywhere.  Sandy left it there.  And now there was trash, as people carted what had once been furniture, insulation, family mementos, appliances, walls, floors - pieces of their lives - out into the street.  NYC Sanitation trucks were evident.   The gas company was there as well.  No real signs of FEMA or the Red Cross though - disappointing.  We helped S bleach his walls. to try to prevent mold from growing  We carted some more stuff out to the street.  A few more R-1 guys came to work on his furnace, with plans to hook him up to get hot water.  S was in good spirits.  He was most sad at the loss of his books.  His girlfriend gave me some of his Christmas decorations, asked could I take them home and try to clean them.  They meant more to him than the TV that was lost.  I wished that I could do more.  I walked down to the beach with his girlfriend.  I saw where the boardwalk used to be.  In one area, it looked like Sandy had just picked up the boardwalk whole and dumped it a few feet away.  The destruction was just incredible.  I don't think it overwhelmed me until we went to leave.  We went out a different way.  This time, we went by where the water was still in the street, some from the storm, some from being pumped out of basements.  We saw a store where people were standing outside eating.  From their behavior, I think it may have been their first hot meal in days.  We saw a burned out row of stores and apartments.  We saw home after home with their belongings, now trash, piled out front.  A commented that I was very quiet.  I told him that I was still taking it all in.  This damage that I saw,  I think is not the worst damage from Sandy. 
Sandy's aftermath also showed the good.  I've said in here at times how the FDNY is a family.  And it has never been so evident as in the aftermath of this storm.  The guys in R-1 are rallying around S, getting him what he needs to continue.  This is happening throughout the city - firefighters helping brother firefighters.  And not just their brothers from the FDNY, but their brothers' neighbors.  The gas we have supplied to S, he shares with his neighbors.  I have heard that the DC FD and the Boston FD band members are coming to help out.  One of the guys in R-1 offered some construction equipment to help S out, he didn't need it, but the message went back saying that they could use it in Breezy Point. 
Power is coming back on in more and more places.  Downed trees are cut up and hauled off.  Roads are opening, schools are opening.  People are going back to work.  In the aftermath of Sandy, there is despair, but there is also love and family and friendship.