Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Year from the Center of NJ

(This is a repeat of last year's post. I'm up to my eyeballs in busy and I don't have time to reword it- the sentiment is still the same. Happy to you and yours, -Sharon GR)

New Year's Eve is my holiday.

Let me explain.

For years, I was no fan of Christmas. I didn't have a Hallmark Holiday to look forward to; it was more of a tense thing we all did at a certain time of year. There are some traditions I would cling to fiercely, but at the same time it just felt like something we had to do. I kind of wished we could chuck the whole thing.

But, after tolerating family and obligations throughout Christmas, New Year's Eve was the reward. You get to have parties with friends- people you want to be with, not have to. That's the holiday I'd look forward to every year, the one I enjoyed. It was mine, not the obligation's.

My husband, on the other hand, did not follow my Scrooginess. He is a big kid at Christmas, still in love with the wonder and awe of the whole thing. After we became a family I stopped dreading it so much, and now with the children I enjoy the holiday as much as anyone. But there's still that part of my brain that has this attachment to New Year's Eve, and won't let it go.

Our New Year's celebration will be filled with a little bit of family but a lot of friends. These are the friends who are like family now; the ones we have chosen. This holiday has no hidden meaning, no religious significance, no national commemoration. It's about the friends, happy endings and new beginnings; what could be better than that?

Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope your endings are happy and your beginnings fresh and bright.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hamilton soldier lost in Iraq

Eric R. Wilkus, military police and Hamilton Twp. fire fighter, died on 12/25/06. He was 20 years old.

"But if you could really get to know Eric, you'd see that he was loud, boisterous and made his point clear," said Ryan Kingston, a friend and fellow firefighter. "He was dependable and so easy to get along with."
The memories, tinged by tears, flooded Wilkus' friends yesterday as they absorbed the news that his name was on the latest casualty lists from the war in Iraq. Wilkus, 20, died Christmas Day in Landstuhl, Germany, from a noncombat-related injury he sustained three days earlier in Baghdad.
Wilkus was a private first class with the Army's 57th Military Police Company, 8th Military Police Brigade, and had been stationed in Korea until he was deployed to Iraq in June.
Military officials yesterday would not release further information about the cause of Wilkus' death, saying the incident is being investigated. According to the Department of Defense, he is one of nearly 3,000 Americans who have died supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the 66th soldier with ties to New Jersey to lose his life in the conflict.

How much more of this must go on?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Solar program woes

Due to a substantial increase in the number of applicants, residents of Our Fair State now have to wait up to a year for approval for state rebates and installations of solar panels. There are also questions about the sustainability of the rebate program:

Once a fledgling, pie-in-the sky effort that helped fund only a half-dozen systems in its first year in business, New Jersey's Customer Onsight Renewable Energy (CORE) rebate program has become a national model of success, giving out more than $75 million to nearly 1,000 different projects in the first six months of 2006, and putting New Jersey second only to California in installed solar capacity.
It's also become a victim of its own success.
Today, there are now so many applicants the wait for approval is reaching one to two years, according to those in the solar energy industry. And that wait is scaring some people away.
“When you tell people the truth (about getting rebates), they feel like it may not ever happen,” says Patrick Sullivan, owner of Solar Power Concepts in Cape May County. “The phone calls coming into my company have been slow to none.”
On top of this, there is the looming question of whether or not the program will ever have the funding that is currently being promised.
While the Board of Public Utilities insists there will be money available to fund projects like Groff's, the Clean Energy Program states on its own Web site that the current rebate system simply isn't sustainable, given the mushrooming number of applicants.
To meet the state's clean energy goal of 20 percent by 2020, the Web site says, “this cost would be in the billions of dollars and would require an annual funding level of approximately $500,000,000,” raising electrical rates 5 to 7 percent. Several alternatives are being proposed, but none has yet to gain the upper hand.

It's a shame, but not too surprising. The amount of money we were given when we installed our panels was 70% of the total cost, and without that we coudn't have afforded it. Hopefully, a stable source of funding will be found, but I'm not holding my breath. Maybe we could ask Kuwait?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Hollidays

The Center of NJ Life wishes you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, Peaceful Kwanzaa, hope it was a Cool Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, and a good everything else.
Be Merry and Bright!

Friday, December 22, 2006

24-hour Christmas Show

Jon Solomon will do his annual Christmas Radio Show on WPRB 103.3FM starting 6PM on Dec 24th until 6PM Dec. 25th. No, that's not a typo- I really mean ith his 24-hour show.

This year will mark the 19th edition of the show, which is known regionally, nationally and internationally for its mix of rare, strange and confounding records that are directly or vaguely holiday-related. Mr. Solomon doesn't discriminate — well, not too much. Songs good, bad and bizarre make the playlist, as long as they're about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's or the winter months.

Have fun!

Way to go, Juan!

PoliticsNJ has named their 2006 Tops list and the Politician of the Year is...

Juan Melli of Blue Jersey!

Juan was modest and quick to say "...and no doubt, this is Blue Jersey's honor, not mine. The front-pagers all deserve credit for this, but beyond that, so does the entire community that contributes to the dialog here." Yeah, but without him there would be no Blue Jersey. It's a deserved honor.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lazy Linkin'- The Asylum Street Spankers

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Asylum Street Spankers. Not the least bit family friendly, not one tiny little bit. Without a doubt, worth your four minutes to watch.

Hat tip to The Opinion Mill. I followed the link there and have had the song stuck in my head ever since.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A quote that I can't forget now that I've heard it

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. "
-John Kenneth Galbraith

(Hat tip to someone who used this in a signature, I'm sorry I don't remember who.)

I see a pattern here

Our Fair State has joined a dozen others yesterday in suing the EPA to lower soot levels from smokestacks in order to improve our respiratory health and save lives.

The states argue that the Bush administration is ignoring science and its own experts in refusing to slightly reduce the allowed threshold for soot. The "fine particulate matter" in soot contributes to premature death, chronic respiratory disease and asthma attacks, said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The pollution also leads to more hospital admissions and other public health costs, he said.
"The overwhelming scientific consensus is that fine particles cause respiratory disease and premature death. I am hopeful that this lawsuit will succeed in compelling EPA to establish standards that will protect the public from the serious threat posed by particulate pollution," New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson said.

Yesterday, the Bush administration changed the rules on releasing detailed info on the toxic chemicals that companies emit into the air, water and on land.

The Bush administration yesterday exempted thousands of companies from providing detailed information about the toxic chemicals they release into the air and water and onto the land, easing the reporting requirements under the nation's premier environmental right-to-know law.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said the EPA's decision "puts the interests of corporate polluters ahead of the health and safety of the American people." Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.) called the change a "step backwards" because it "limits information that community residents can receive about chemicals near their homes."
The rule change was opposed by public health and environmental organizations and government agencies in 23 states. It had the backing of the chemical, electronics, petroleum and plastic industries as well as fabricated metal facilities, foam manufacturers, food processors and utilities.

Y'know, I spent yesterday home sick with asthmatic bronchitis, so as I sit here typing this I'm coughing. Coincidence?

(cross-posted at Blanton's and Ashton's)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Raging Rudolph

A holiday classic. Not for the family.

Does my nose amuse you? Is it funny, like a clown?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Duck and cover

At dinner the other night, when the kids were telling me about their day, they mentioned the "emergency" drill they had at school. Not a fire drill, mind you; but a lockdown drill. The kids had to huddle in corners of their classrooms so they couldn't be seen from the window next to the door to their rooms. The blinds have to remain open so instructions can be recieved from emergency personell outside if need be. In the younger kid's class, the teacher kept them quiet by reading a story; in the older's room, they were able to be silent by themselves. Their classrooms had both gotten a good review because they couldn't be seen from the hallway.

I sat there in horror as they matter-of-factly relayed this.

I guess the world we live in does bring about this sort of thing, but all I could think of was the sepia-toned reels of duck and cover drills from the 1950s. All these kids going through the motions, unaware that it wouldn't do a damn bit of good in the event of a nuclear attack. Parents and school officials probably felt that they had to do something to try to save themselves from an unpreventable and uncontrolable threat, so this is what kids did.

And this is what kids do now. They duck and cover, hide in a corner, until the nuclear war or the gun-totin' lunatic passes them by.

So much for that

Spent a fortune today on the annual cleaning of the carpets.

It took about ten hours for a cat to throw up on the newly clean floors.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Counsel equal

Ad # 4:

Tell it to her Tuesday- roadside edition

This was a thought-provoking one, so I thought I'd play along with Janet:

A few months ago, my boyfriend and I were on our way home from Philadelphia. On the way we spotted a man pulled over to the side of the road. Assumably his family was waiting in the car. He was flagging drivers down and my boyfriend pulled over. He told us that his car had broken down and that help was on the way, but that unfortunately he did not have all the money he needed to pay for the tow truck. So he was asking strangers, out of the kindness of their hearts, for anything up to fifteen dollars to contribute to the total cost. He also offered to pay us back if we were willing to give our address to him. My questions to you this week are this:

1. Would you have stopped in the first place? Why or why not?
No. Because I'm suspicious and cynical, and because there's a better-than-good chance I've got kids in the car. I would, however, note where I was, stop the car about a mile away, and call 911. Anybody who's got real car trouble will be helped by police. I don't believe the tow-truck story, either- last time I got a tow no one asked me for a dime until after I was safe.
Once upon a time, I was with friends who did stop to help someone like that. It was an older couple and we were a bunch of teenagers out at night, and the guys in the group changed a tire for the folks. I wouldn't have stopped if I'd been by myself; I've seen Silence of the Lambs.

2. Are there any factors that would contribute to your stopping or not stopping that would ultimately change your answer?
Nope. Even if I forgot my cell phone and I couldn't help, I'm confident that a bundle of other folks have theirs and would have called.

3. If you stopped, would you or would you not give him the money he asked for?
Hell no. No more than I buy that painting the guy needs to sell down the shore to get bus fare home, or any other random give-me-money scheme.

4. If you gave him the money, would you supply your address?
I haven't even given you good folks my last name- why would I give some stranger my address?

5. Does time of year or time of day effect your answer?
No. I guess the idea here is because it's cold maybe I'll react differently, but once again I'll call police and they will be out to check up, so I don't feel like I've abandoned anyone to the elements.

Bless him for he has sinned

He said what?

A pastor delivering the invocation at the opening of yesterday's Senate session included in his prayer a condemnation of gay marriage.
"We curse the spirit that would come to bring about same-sex marriage," the Rev. Vincent Fields, pastor of Greater Works Ministries in Absecon, prayed as lawmakers
istened, heads bowed. "We ask you to just look over this place today, cause them to be shaken in their very heart in uprightness, Lord, to do that is right before you."
Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), a co-sponsor of that bill, said it was "completely inappropriate" for Fields to include the issue in the invocation.
"I do not think a pastor should be using the microphone in the Senate for a prayer to open the session by lobbying for or against something," Weinberg said. "Usually, if you're going to lobby members you have to wear a lobbyist badge."

Well, you may try to curse the spirit that would come to make all people treated equally, but leave me out of it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A hole on our couch

When things are good, you get used to them.

Over there on the right, in the little "about me" bit, I list things that I feel identify me. I said "pet owner" because I have three cats and two greyhounds. The Me I am used to and good with has two greyhounds. Even though Toasty died earlier this year, I will often accidentially still refer to my older dog and my younger dog, because I was used to it and things were good that way.

I met a dog in the parking lot of the vet office today. He was 14 years old and had three legs, so I commented that my younger dog also has three legs.

However, my younger dog had just died, minutes earlier. She became sick over the weekend and went into renal failure quite suddenly, and when it became apparent that she couldn't recover, we had to put her down. It had nothing to do with the cancer that took her leg, which is what we had been expecting; the blood tests to tell us why haven't come in yet. I'd like to know, but knowing why won't make me used to it or make it good.

There's a hole on my couch, where Summer used to be.

I'm not used to it, and it's not good.

Summer in her yard, 11/2006

Keep Thinking Equal

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Think Equal

Think Equal.

When you follow that link, please, please note the contribution link on the bottom left. This ad should be on the air in Our Fair State.

Princeton HealthCare Hospital Move update

On Dec. 13 the state Health Planning board will host a public hearing on the decision to move Princeton Hospital to the FMC property on Rt. 1 in Plainsboro:

The hearing could be the only opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed hospital re location before the board meets Jan. 4, 2007, to offer its nonbinding recommendation for or against state authorization, known as a certificate of need, for the project.
It will be up to the commis sioner of the state Department of Health and Senior Services to decide on state approval for the hospital proposal, which also will re quire local approvals from Plainsboro to proceed.
Copies of Princeton HealthCare's certificate of need application are available for review at the Princeton Public Library, the New Jersey State Library in Trenton and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, also in Trenton.
The Dec. 13 hearing will be held in the auditorium of the John Witherspoon Middle School, 217 Walnut Lane, Princeton Township. It will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., with a three-minute time limit per speaker. Concise written comments may be submitted as well during the hearing.

Hopefully, the state will see the need to expand hosptal services in this section of Central New Jersey and let Princeton HealthCare move the hospital.

Moon Base!

NASA wants to build a moon base! Really! By 2024.

My kids have this horrifically dated book, which was their father's, called You Will Go To The Moon. I wonder how wrong it will be- and what will be right in it?

Friday, December 01, 2006


Great things are going on over at Blue Jersey. There's a lot of discussion of marriage equality and the Supreme court decision and deadline. The property tax committee proposals have been presented.

And with all this, I still can't get into politics right now.

It started about two weeks before the election. I'd love to blame the holidays, but I've barely done anything so far. I'm just burned out on it all.

Am I the only one?