Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

10 memorable political moments in NJ

Long time Jersey political blogger Jay Lassiter put this together. Take ten minutes to review the Top 10 for Our Fair State for 2008. Enjoy.

Green eyed lady, lovely lady

Gypsy, in her younger days.

Our oldest cat, Gypsy, left us rather suddenly in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve.

If she loved you, she loved you completely. If she didn't, you thought she was pure evil. Which is the way she wanted it to be. Proud and beautiful was our Gypsy.

She loved us, and we loved her. We will miss you, Green Eyed Lady Lovely Lady.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Me, Here, Now

Rob tagged me for this particular meme. I read his post while at work, but could not take the pic until I got home; so as soon as I got home, I dropped my coat and found the camera.

This is me, here, "now" (actually about 40 minutes ago- I had to read to Oldest before bedtime, so the post is delayed.)

Now for the rules:
1) Take a picture of yourself right NOW!
2) DON'T change your clothes, DON'T fix your hair... Just take a picture.
3) Post that picture with NO editing.
4) Post these instruction with your picture.
5)Tag 10 people to do this..

I don't think I can come up with ten who would both read this and bother to do it. But just in case, here we go: Andrew, VeeganMD, Tami (who has more important things on her mind just now but may find this later), jayananda, SciFi Pie, Greg (Oh!! Wait- Greg already did it. Never mind.) Janet, and the next four people who show up here via Google- please leave me comments so I know you were here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Some good news

But we can't get complacent.

Donations and emergency aid keeps food banks operating

A heartwarming collection of simple acts of charity coupled with a $45,000 infusion of emergency state funds are making the holiday season more nourishing for residents caught in the unrelenting economic spiral.
And it could not have come at a better time.
The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen reports an 8 percent increase in food demands, but a devastating 60 percent drop in contributions of children's toys, warm coats, gloves and hats for the wintry season.

So, in other words, we're stepping up- but we have to keep going.

Monday, December 15, 2008

We Can't Let This Bank Fail

The Community Food Bank of New Jersey needs our help this holiday season. Everyone's help.

Some facts about the Community Food Bank of NJ: It annually assists charities serving approximately 500,000 people in need in 18 of Our Fair State's 21 counties. CFBNJ has distributed more than 300 million pounds of food and groceries valued at more than half-a-billion dollars. Today, the FoodBank distributes over 21 million pounds of food and groceries a year, ultimately serving nearly 1,700 non-profits including 436 programs served by its Partner Distribution Organizations (PDOs). If you don't know where the food pantries are in your part of the state, the Statewide Emergency Food and Anti-Hunger Network has helpfully provided a list by county.

At the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ), requests for food have gone up 30 percent, but donations are down by 25 percent. Warehouse shelves that are typically stocked with food are bare and supplies have gotten so low that, for the first time in its 25 year history, the food bank is developing a rationing mechanism.

Did you get that? They have to ration out food. That's how low the stocks are. That's a horrible situation.

Check with your local food pantry as to their needs. Also, I bet your library/workplace/school/house of worship/fire department/municipality/scout troop/etc. is having a food drive right now- give generously. I will, too.

I've said it before- Our Fair State is a collection of the wealthiest, best educated people ever assembled in the history of the planet. In this great place, in this level of prosperity, no kid should ever have to go to bed hungry.

We can help. We must help. This bank simply can't fail.

The 100 participating blogs in Our Fair State:
Jersey Girl Cooks
Simply Sable
John and Lisa are eating in South Jersey
Padma's Kitchen
Life Lightly Salted
My Italian Grandmother
Cook Appeal
Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars
Mommy Vents
This Full House
Paper Bridges
Motherhood Avenue
The Kamienski Chronicles
Down the Shore with Jen
Fits and Giggles
House Hubbies Home Cooking
Nourish Ourselves
Off the broiler
Mrs. Mo’s New Jersey Baby
Savy Source Newark
Momlogic New Jersey
Best of Roxy
Jersey Beat
Pop Vulture Phil
Mike Halfacres Blog
Family, Friends and Food
New Jersey Real Estate Report
More Monmouth Musings
Man of Infirmity
Another Delco Guy in South Jersey
Average Noone
Cleary’s Notebook
Welcome to my Planet
The Center of New Jersey Life
Sharon’s Food Blog
Morristown, Chatham, Summit, and Madison NJ Real Estate
Midtown Direct Real Estate News
New Jersey Real Estate
The Ridgewood Blog
Book a Week with Jen
Matawan Advocate
Take Back the Kitchen
The Joy of Toast
Route 55
Joe the Blogger
Environmental Republican
Stacey Snacks
Subversive Garden
New Jersey Pathfinder
Cooking With Friends Blog
Triple Venti
Read All About It
Rich Lee on Media
Likelihood of Success
Cape Cuisine
The Business At Hand
Caviar and Codfish
A Day in the Life
Mack’s Journey Through Life
Alice’s Restaurant
Tiger Hawk
Politics Patrol, The Bob Ingle Blog
The Food Chain
Henson’s Hell
Cranbury Conservative
New Jersey: Politics Unusual
Jersey Shore Blog

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Blogging Out Hunger

Tomorrow is the big start date for the Blogging Out Hunger campaign!

More important than reading about it, however, is doing something about it. Get some food ready for donation, and get some time set aside to help out.

People need help this winter. Right now.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Prop 8: The Musical

Marc Shaiman's all-star musical tribute to hate rearing its ugly head in California.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Sunday, November 30, 2008

After Thanksgiving, it's time for some tough love

Joel Stein has some news for Americans: We're disgusting pigs.

Sure, there probably was some giving of thanks, but that's not what anyone remembers. What we remember is the ugly, vicious, annual Thanksgiving eating contests between me and my cousins. The kind that taught me, and perhaps now the scientific community, that if you consume enough calories, you will actually black out just like you're drunk. Drunk on pie.

We are a nation with a massive pie hangover, waking up after three decades of overconsumption. The great problems facing us -- the economy and obesity -- have the same cause: lack of self-control. We're eating more calories than we burn and spending more money than we earn. Only instead of doing it to impress our cousins, we're doing it in the hopes of getting a reality show on Bravo.

Our Long National Pie Hangover

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Foo Fighters are going to be on Top Chef!

The Foo Fighters are going to be on Top Chef! The Foo Fighters are going to be on Top Chef! The Foo Fighters are going to be on Top Chef!

Celebrating Thanksgiving, no less!

It's the convergence of my entertainment universe!

The Foo Fighters are going to be on Top Chef! The Foo Fighters are going to be on Top Chef! The Foo Fighters are going to be on Top Chef!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Need Season- 2008

(This is an update of a post I did a few years ago. It seems appropriate to re-run it now. -Sharon GR)

I ran into a neighbor in the grocery recently. She asked, "Thanksgiving shopping?" and commented about how it was better to get this all out of the way now because the stores are packed close to the holiday. I agreed; yes, I was shopping for Thanksgiving, but not for me. I met her in the canned veggies isle. I was stocking up for donations.

Now, we all know times are tough. Gas and oil prices shot way up, the economy tanked and jobs were lost left and right. But somehow, my "tough times" rarely include making a decision of whether to feed my kids or pay the heat bill, which means it ain't so tough for me after all. If I can afford high-speed internet to sit here and talk to you nice people, I can certainly afford to buy extra cans of food for the local food bank. There are kids whose parents do have to make that decision, and they need a bit of help. More this year than ever, even.

It's also good for my kids to help us do this. I ask them to carry the bags in, put cans in the donation boxes, and stock the shelves at the food pantry. I want them to grow up knowing that helping others is a regular part of life. So, the food banks get cans of soup and beans, and I get a nice little parenting moment out of it. We're both winners there.

New Jersey is the best state in the Union. By far. We are one of the richest, most educated groups of people ever assembled. We should also be one of the most generous.

So, I've got a few cans and jars of food in the car to take to the library's food drive. I'm realizing that I need to buy a couple more. Or, more accurately, that someone else needs me to.

"It's the difference between thinking of oneself as an accumulator of objects and material wealth, and imagining oneself as part of the fabric of problems and solutions." - Tata from Poor Impulse Control.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Don't believe everything you read

Sarah Palin not knowing Africa is a continent? No one knows who from the McCain campaign leaked this anecdote, but we do know it's not Martin Eisenstadt.

Because he doesn't exist.

It's remarkably easy to fall for false authority. Even the news "professionals" do it sometimes, let alone regular people looking for info.

In a class I'm taking, we recently had to analyze and discuss two elaborate web sites: the Dihidrogen Monoxide Research Division, and RYT Hospital Dwayne Medical Center. Follow the links- they're both pretty cool. Each brings up an about important point about information literacy: one pitches absolutely true information with a wicked slant, and one is a slick, elaborate hoax/digital art project that may take even trained observers a few minutes to catch on to.

In the class we discussed several different methods for evaluating web page information, but it all boils down to two things: WHO is telling you this, and WHY.

Because you really shouldn't believe everything you read. As the police captain said to Nick Nolte in 48 Hours, "Just 'cause you say it with authority doesn't mean sh!t to me!"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Local Libraries spared the ax

The Trenton library board has agreed to stagger hours and keep all its branches open. Jamesburg residents recently voted in support of keeping their small library, by a ratio of nearly 2 to 1.

Good news, that. In these economic times, people need their local libraries- for books, yes, but also for computer access, resume help, job searching help, computer classes, homework help, no-cost children's programs, free (or cheap) DVD borrowing... the list goes on and on. When economic times are tough, folks rely on their libraries even more than in good times.

Not everyone is so lucky. In Philadelphia, for example, Mayor Nutter has proposed cutting 11 branches of the Free Public Library- and people are protesting.

Now is when we need our public libraries the most. As Philadelphia resident A.J. Thomson noted, "In our community this is the only way to get computer use. We should never close a place where kids choose to go."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day

Happy Homecoming for Marine Reservists

A Day to Honor Local Veterans

Never let us forget that the only reason we are the land of the free is that we are the home of the brave.

Thank you.

Here's wishing everyone comes home safe, sound, and soon.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

New Jersey 2008 Local Election Results

Our Fair State's election results, by county:

Cape May

NOT EVERY ONE WILL UPDATE TONIGHT. Some are links to newspaper sites where county election results aren't posted. The polls closed at 8 PM, so some counties may start updating soon.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Every one counts

I voted. #202 at my polling place, before 10AM today.

Did you vote?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's snowing

I mean, really snowing. It's starting to accumulate a little on raised tables and decks. Ugly, big fat wet flakes of snow.

Anyone dreaming of a white Halloween?

Monday, October 27, 2008

This year's ballot questions

Someone asked me the other day if there were any ballot questions this year. There are two, but they've gotten rather little publicity. Here's the info from the League of Women Voters.

Also, the Times of Trenton today had an editorial titled Yes and yes. Looking over their reasons for their endorsement, I agree- yes and yes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Today is the LAST DAY to register to vote in Our Fair State in order to be eligible to vote in the presidential election.

Not sure how? Check here for How to register to vote in NJ.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Need a flu shot?

The National Lung Association has a Flu Clinic Locator. Just type in your zip code and find out where there are flu shot clinics in your area! How cool!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

Debate night in New Jersey

Lautenberg and Zimmer have agreed to debate once, in front of the cameras.

Nov. 1st, 8PM, NJN.

It's late for voters to make up their minds; only a couple of days before the election. There may be other debates. We wait and see.

It's not cute.

It's not folksy. It doesn't appeal to middle America. It doesn't make Joe Six-Pack and his wife Hockey Mom like you more.

It makes you look uneducated. Dare I say, a little dumb. Willfully ignorant.

The word is not "nuculur", it's nuclear. If you can't pronounce it, you have no business being anywhere near the launch codes.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"If that doesn't scare the hell out of you, it should."

"There's no excuse for that. She's supposed to know a little bit of this."

hat tip Rob S.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. This year, 2008, marks BBW's 27th anniversary (September 27 through October 4).
BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

How to celebrate Banned Books Week? Suggestions from the American Library Association include:

  • Stay Informed
  • Organize a Banned Books Read-Out! at your library
  • Exercise your rights- checkout and read a banned book
  • Encourage your book club to read a favorite banned book

(My added suggestion is: Don't accept Sarah Palin trying to ban books.)

We only have true freedom of speech and freedom of the press when everyone has access. In the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, characterizing Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Can't even hear her talk

McCain camp tries to to keep reporters out of Palin meetings

For Sarah's very first meeting with a foreign leader, the press was allowed to take pictures, but not listen. CNN refused to air pictures if they couldn't be in the room, so they were let in for a few seconds. Palin and Hamid Karzai talked about kids, which is the only thing they could possibly have in common.

After 29 seconds observing the meeting, CNN and other photographers covering the meeting were escorted out of the room.
Later, McCain-Palin press representatives chalked up the restrictions to a “mix-up, a miscommunication among staff.” The full pool — a print and wires reporter, along with a television producer — was then allowed in to observe Palin’s meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe for 15-20 seconds.

29 seconds and then 20 more- almost a full minute, and she didn't (audibly) screw up once!


My Guinea pigs' favorite food is dandelion greens. On nice days like this when we are home, we put them outside in a little pen so they can eat all the grass and greens they want. (I don't spray chemicals on my lawn, so it's safe to put them out there.) We go out and move the pen every so often so they get a nice fresh supply of weeds and grass to forage. Yup, they just love their dandelions.

Why, yes, I do have a paper I'm supposed to be writing. How could you tell?

Break's over

Maureen O'Dowd envisions the meeting between Senator Obama and President Bartlett.

BARTLET: GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

Hat tip Jayananda

Monday, September 15, 2008

Am I registered to vote in nj?

You can find out if you're registered by contacting the Commissioner of Registration for your county. The state has helpfully listed them all here.

"Am I registered to vote in nj" is one of the biggest Google search terms that leads people to The Center of NJ Life. I hope this information helps.

Register to vote NOW

Oct. 14 is the last day to register to vote in Our Fair State for this year's election. The Division of Elections has a lovely new website with links to each county's clerk and forms to get you started.

You can apply for an absentee ballot in writing until seven days before the election (and in person until 3 P.M. the day before!) You can get an absentee ballot here.

New Jersey's FAQ for elections is here. If you need info about the election, try NJ Voter Info.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Toll increases on the Turnpike- better than a doughnut

AP writer Angela Delli Santi has a Q&A with Kris Kolluri, our Transportation Commissioner, about the proposed turnpike toll increases.

Q: You have been using a doughnut analogy to put the proposed increases in perspective?
A: At Dunkin' Donuts, one strawberry doughnut costs $1.06. We're saying if people are willing to pay $1.06 for one doughnut, they should also be willing to pay 50 cents more over 15 years to make sure roads and bridges are safe.

I don't need another doughnut. Neither do you. I do need transportation upgrades like bridge repairs, and we all need the THE tunnel.

Yes, I drive the turnpike- I'd rather go without the doughtnut and drive on safer roads.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Why is this not on the front page?

Why is it instead on page B2 of my Times of Trenton? And why can't we call it "lying", when that's what it is?

McCain's Claims Skirt Facts - AP, By Charles Babbington

Republican presidential nominee John McCain, a self-proclaimed tell-it-like-it-is maverick, keeps saying his running mate, Sarah Palin, killed the federally funded Bridge to Nowhere when, in fact, she pulled her support only after the project became a political embarrassment. He said Friday that Palin never asked for money for lawmakers' pet projects as Alaska governor, even though she has sought nearly $200 million in earmarks this year. He says Obama would raise nearly everyone's taxes, when independent groups say 80 percent of families would get tax cuts instead.
Even in a political culture accustomed to truth-stretching, McCain's skirting of facts has stood out this week. It has infuriated and flustered Obama's campaign, and campaign pros are watching to see how much voters disregard news reports noting factual holes in the claims.

Well, at least he was against dishonesty before he was for it:

McCain's persistence in pushing dubious claims is all the more notable because many political insiders consider him one of the greatest living victims of underhanded campaigning. Locked in a tight race with George W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, McCain was rocked in South Carolina by a whisper campaign claiming he had fathered an illegitimate black child and was mentally unstable.
Shaken by the experience, McCain denounced less-than-truthful campaigning. Vowing to live up to his "straight talk" motto, he apologized for his reluctance to criticize the flying of the Confederate flag at South Carolina's state Capitol in a bid forvotes. When the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacked the military record of Democrat and fellow Navy officer John Kerry in 2004, McCain called the ads "dishonest and dishonorable."
Now, top aides to McCain include Steve Schmidt, who has close ties to Karl Rove, Bush's premier political adviser in 2000.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I guess? How sad. How far the mighty have fallen.

Stop stealing the signs

Open letter to to the Mercer County Sheriff's Election sign thief/thieves:

Everyone has the right of free speech, even if they disagree with you. Stop it. It's petty and pathetic to steal campaign signs.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A new low for the McCain campaign

Rob S. has a good analysis of the latest low in the McCain campaign: an attack ad against Obama.

It's a shameful ad. It's pathetic. It's desperate. It's horrifying to me that people may believe it. But, as the Republicans have shown so many times, if you repeat something enough times everyone begins to believe it, regardless of how stupid it may be.

Even worse: with two months to go, this will not be the lowest they will sink this campaign season. Of that I'm sure.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

World without end?

I have a friend who is convinced that the world is ending. Not in some religious cataclysm, but in a black hole to be created on the France-Switzerland border in a couple of days. Normally, I ignore the doomday predictions of most people; however, the last time this same guy had a paranoid episode that something terrible was going to happen was on Sept. 10, 2001. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here- this grants a little more attention than the usual.

If you need to relieve some anxiety about it all, check out The end of the world is nigh.. or is it nay?

In two days, we'll know if he was right to be paranoid. I expect, he's overreacting.

I hope so, at least.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Did they vet her at all?

A lot of folks have questions not just about how thoroughly the McCain campaign researched their VP choice, but if they even bothered to at all.

By Richard Mauer, Lisa Demer and Sean Cockerham for the Anchorage Daily News:

Questions surround Palin's background check

McCain's presidential campaign spent the day trying to assure fellow Republicans and the nation that Palin's background was thoroughly vetted. The pregnancy of Bristol Palin, 17, came as no surprise to them, they said.
But in Alaska, it was hard to find anyone who had been contacted by McCain's campaign.
Thomas Van Flein, the Anchorage lawyer representing Palin and her office in the legislature's investigation into the firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, said he spoke to several representatives from McCain before Palin's selection was announced Friday.
But Van Flein appears to be in a small minority in the vetting of Palin.
The former U.S. attorney for Alaska, Wev Shea, who enthusiastically recommended Palin back in March, said he was never contacted with any follow-up questions.
Republican Gail Phillips, a former speaker of the Alaska House, said Friday that she was shocked by McCain's selection of Palin and told her husband, Walt, "This can't be happening because his advance team didn't come to Alaska to check her out." She said she would've heard had someone been poking around.
"We're not a very big state," Phillips said. "People I talk to would've heard
Monegan, fired by Palin in July, said that no one from the McCain campaign contacted him, either. His firing is now the subject of a special legislative investigation into whether Palin or members of her administration improperly interfered with the running of his department by pushing for dismissal of a state trooper involved in a divorce and custody battle with Palin's sister.
Alaska Senate President Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, told The New York Times, "They didn't speak to anyone in the Legislature, they didn't speak to anyone in the business community."

Better still, the campaign is acting like they did do a thorough vetting job and not telling the truth about it:

On Sunday, The Washington Post quoted McCain campaign manager Rick Davis as saying the FBI conducted a background check of Palin.
But Monday, the FBI told the Atlantic Monthly no such check took place.
"In general, we do not do vetting for political campaigns except as it might regard investigations needed for security clearances," the magazine's Web site quoted John Miller, the chief FBI spokesman. If the agency had conducted a security check of Palin, it wouldn't have shared it with the campaign, the magazine said.

Do we really want a president who barely met or even researched the person whom he wants to be his replacement, if needed? Someone who then tries to backtrack to pretend that he did check her out?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Why Palin bothers me so much

I don't mind about any (possible, hopefully NOT) vice president having an pregnant teen daughter. These things happen, even to politicians. I wish only good things for Bristol and the baby. They have tough times ahead but will be fine with guidance and love.

I also don't care if the president gets a blow job, or the first lady killed someone in a car accident, or the vice president has a gay daughter. Your personal life is your own business, as far as I'm concerned. I vote based not on family or personal proclivities, but on ability to do the job how I hope it will be done.

What concerns me here is how obviously little the McCain campaign bothered to vet this unquailified pretty face before tapping her. This choice was intended to:
1. Rally the conservatives with an NRA anti-women's-rights beauty queen, and
2. Garner support from former Hillary swing-vote supporters, who obviously vote based on the vagina content of their candidates.
Her ability to do the job doesn't appear to be part of the question; she has close to none. The mayor of East Windsor, NJ, has more executive experience than this pin-up.


This country does not need another Republican sell-out who panders to voters and rushes headlong into stupid, uninformed choices because his handlers told him it would be a good idea.

Obama says the exact right thing, once again

From MSNBC: Children are off limits

"I've heard some of the news. I've said before I think families are off limits, children limits. It has no relevance," Obama said. "I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. My mom had me when she was 18. And how families deal with issues of children shouldn't be part of our politics. "
Regarding to the accusation from the McCain camp that rumors of Bristol Palin were being spread by liberal bloggers, some with connections to the Obama campaign, the Illinois senator replied: "I am offended by that statement. There is no evidence at all that any of this involved us. I hope I'm as clear as we can be. We don't go after people's families. Our people were not involved in any way. And if I thought anyone in my campaign they'd be fired."

Wonder what the conservative base thinks of this one

Teen daughter of GOP VP pick is pregnant

The McCain campaign says they knew this before they picked Palin. (And if anyone, anywhere, seriously, can believe that, there's a bridge in Brooklyn on sale that the CoNJL would like to show you.)

Such a well-vetted, carefully thought-out choice, this unknown and unqualified yet female Governor Palin!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Better than I could've said it: Pandering to Hillary Supporters Edition

Steve Benen, Washington Monthly:

It's more than surprising; it's the strangest running-mate decision since Dan Quayle. Sarah Palin spent a year working as a commissioner for the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and has been governor for a year and a half. Now, she'll be the Republicans' vice presidential candidate, and if things go well for McCain, one heartbeat from the presidency. When it comes to being untested and unknown, Palin is in a league of her own.

Just yesterday, advisers to the McCain campaign conceded to the New York Times that McCain "thinks highly" of Palin, but "her less than two years in office would undercut one of the McCain campaign's central criticisms of Senator Barack Obama -- that he is too inexperienced to be commander-in-chief." So much for the McCain campaign's message.

Stepping back, we have the man who would be the oldest president in American history, who happens to have a record of health problems, picking a virtual unknown who's been a governor for less than two years. Amazing.

McCain communications chief Jill Hazelbaker told CBS News this morning that McCain is going to "make the choice from his heart." That seems even more bizarre - McCain barely knows Palin, hasn't worked with her in any capacity, and hadn't even asked her to serve as a campaign surrogate at any point in the process. For all the talk about McCain valuing personal relationships above all else, McCain has practically picked a stranger, to himself and the rest of the nation.

(Hat tip to Channel Surfing)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Better than I could've said it: letters edition

Haven't had the time to put together a coherent blog post in a while, so here are three letters published in the print media which said whatever I would have said, but said it better:

From Time Magazine:

The campaign outlined in "A Whole New McCain" is an insult to the intelligence of the American voter [Aug. 18]. When our military personnel are dying in foreign wars, McCain dares to raise Paris Hilton and Britney Spears to the level of a national political debate. With the U.S. facing an energy emergency, McCain jokes about tire inflation. When your 85-year-old mother loses her General Motors health benefits because GM can't sell cars, you want health-care solutions, not McCain's juvenile critique of Obama's European trip. Voters must demand solutions from those running for office--not fifth-grade political campaigns with playground sound bites. As a retired U.S. Air Force veteran, I find it disturbing that McCain has lost touch with reality.
Major Robert Tormey (ret.) escondido, CALIF.

I don't give a damn about any slight, perceived or otherwise, of Senator Hillary Clinton or her backers by Obama or his staff [Aug. 18]. America needs a Democrat in the White House. We need Obama's intelligence, his willingness to seek diplomatic solutions and his patience. Soothe your own bruised egos. Relax the clenched jaws. Pay your own bills. Above all other matters, work hard to get Obama elected in November.

From The Times of Trenton:

The letter "Hightstown a haven for illegal aliens" (Aug. 19) is a poor assessment of the immigrant experience and is based on myths. Its writ er's arguments play on the politics of fear with words like "dishonest," "de ception" and "illegal criminal invasion," which distastefully demonize immigrants in an effort to support a recall election for Hightstown Mayor Bob Patten -- and that has nothing to do with immigrants. It seems to me to be a smoke screen over the real issue. The letter is an example of the type of rhetoric that impedes genuine discourse to solve a disagreement.
For starters, Mayor Patten supports the constitutional rights of all people. He has not established a "sanctuary" city, but rather has fos tered a culture of tolerance and opportunity for all Hightstonians.
Second, it is important to understand that no one supports illegal immigration, not even illegal immi grants. If the letter writer "encourages" legal immigration but does not support illegal immigration, then why not advocate to increase ave nues for legal immigration? I suspect that what bothers people is not the illegality, but the immigrant -- period.
The perpetrators are not the immigrants, but rather the outdated, broken, irresponsible and economically insensible immigration laws. If anyone is to be held accountable for the illegal immigration problem, it is our lawmakers who have consistently failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would address the writer's concerns -- and mine.
Finally, elected officials represent all those who live within their district. Just because people do not vote does not mean they don't have a voice. If that were the case, then large segments of our population (i.e. kids, legal residents, people on probation) would be unrepresented.
If we are genuinely interested in solving problems, let's talk without demonizing each other.
-- J. CARLOS AVILA, Trenton

Thanks, folks, for putting that into words. Well.

Friday, August 22, 2008

And so it ends

Not ready for the end of summer.

This fall brings big changes around our household in the Center of NJ. I'm going back to school. I've taken classes before, changed jobs before, and generally shook things up around here, but I still think nothing will prepare me for grad school and all I'm facing.

Overwhelmed, that's how I'd put it. Or, at least daunted.

So, we're taking it easy these last few weeks of summer. We did some outings with just me & the children, with Andrew's workfolks, and with mine. Finally had those friends over for dinner that we said for years we'd get together with but never got around to it before. Camped out in the backyard. Walked the dogs every night.

Tryin' to get in as much summer as possible, before it ends.

Friday, August 08, 2008

New, unnecessary addiction

It's raining on vacation today. Am now on Facebook. Am now addicted to Scramble. If you're not my Facebook friend yet, let me know and I'll add you so I can challenge you to a Scramble game.

I can only see the world in 4x4 grids of letters anymore.

Post more later, must play more Scramble now.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

An FYI from the Mercer County Clerk

Register to vote and get your absentee ballots early for the Presidential election! (Especially if you're a college student in Our Fair State.)

The election is predicted to create a record surge in absentee ballot applications at the clerk's office this fall, (County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello) said.
"Do not wait until October to get your absentee ballot application processed if you are going away to college," said Sollami Covello, who expects her office will process over 12,000 applications. "Do it now before you leave for college and avoid unnecessary delays.
"In addition, if you have not done so already, do not wait until it is too late to register to vote. Both can be easily taken care of before you leave for college," she said.
The last day to register to vote in time for the presidential election is Oct. 14, and the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot by mail is Oct. 28.

Check with your county clerk's web site to find out your specific phone number or address to get your absentee ballot or register to vote. You can find it here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Lake Livin' in the Summertime, part 2

Lost spectacularly at poker- big and early. Played a lot of Werewolf. There are rumors of role-playing games in my future. I'm sure there are more games of all sorts coming.

Saw a great boulder field. Swam in a mountain lake. Took several steep walks. Had a lobster salad croissant that was out of this world. Drank much espresso and much homebrew, not at the same time. Let the kids play so much they're exhausted.

Drinkin' homemade limoncello. Listenin' to the blues. Enjoyin' the company.

I love me some Lake Livin'.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

And I thought my cats were lazy

Meet Princess Chunky.

44 lb. Princess Chunky was found last Saturday in Voorhees. Her owner lost her home and set her adrift, but she must've not waddled far before she was found. The owner also claimes that Princess is a boy, but his/her weight is so high that that cannot be determined- a vet will have to figure it out.

Wow. I have three cats that could fit into that one.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Fleecing of Hamilton and NJ: And the headline read...

Hamilton Stuck With Land

Does this surprise anyone? Anyone??

The state Supreme Court has decided it will not weigh in on Hamilton's agreement to buy Klockner Woods.
The court's action ends the appeal process by the township and a legal battle over one of the most politically contentious issues to grip the township in recent memory.
The high court's denial of a township petition on Friday effectively enforces a lower court decision ordering Hamilton to pony up the roughly $4.5 million it owes a developer for 51 wooded acres off Klockner Avenue.

The total comes to nearly $5 mil, when all is said and done. $4.1 purchase, nearly $800,000 in interest and another $30,000 in legal fees. Now, Hamilton has to face the music and come up with the money:

Mayor John Bencivengo did not rule out any scenario yesterday, including
selling the 51 wooded acres off Klockner Avenue or renewing applications for
grants or loans contingent on the land's preservation.
But regardless of what route Hamilton takes, it appears that property
owners in the township will be footing at least part of the bill.

The rest of it, non-Hamiltonians, may be paid by low-interest state loans and a grant from Mercer county- hence, why we were ALL fleeced on this ludicrous land deal.

However, the Hamilton taxpayers will be feeling it the most, and for a long time. For the sake of their wallets, I'm sorry this fight had to end like it did. For the sake of sanity, I bet everyone's damn glad it is finally ended.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

One week only! Joss Whedon et al. has done it again.

Disappears at midnight Sunday, 7/20/08. Read the master plan when you're done.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It'll be longer than just a moment of silence

Blanton's and Ashton's has hung it up.

Moving forward

Y'know that feeling when you have too much to do? So much that you can't even get started?

I got started today. At least it's something.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Big Read- UPDATED!

From ktbuffy via jayananda:

The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, *or not, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed. (SEE UPDATE BELOW)

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Asterisk (*) the books you LOVE.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
*4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
*5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
! 6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman $#%&!@
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
! 19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
*25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
*37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
! 43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
! 57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
*58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
*60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
! 66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
*68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
*78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
! 82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
! 88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince- Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
*94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I added another category - an ! in front of books that I started and either hated or they didn't hold my interest, so I didn't finish them. (In the case of #66 and #43, I got at least 3/4 of the way through and just dropped them.) I've been told to give #82 a second chance, and maybe I will. I think I was too young to appreciate #57 when I tried to read it- maybe it deserves a second chance, maybe on audio.

I also added a string of symbols after #9, which I did finish, and was so disappointed in that I was angry at the author and the time I wasted. Those symbols don't mean anything; I'm cursing Phillip Pullman out.

So, I've read 28 of them. Not bad, I guess, for a future librarian. How'd you do?

*- after Bob pointed out that I didn't post #44 and #51, I did some research to find them and cannot discover who made this list. It seems to be based on the list of the BBC's The Big Read, not the National Endowment for the Art's Big Read, which is an entirely different project. I did, however, find some posts with a complete list so I added those books back. So, it's not really based on an NEA project, but it's certainly someone's idea of fun. Still cool, huh?

If anyone finds proof that it's an NEA project, let me know and I'll correct again.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I know what I'm gonna do next weekend!

Belmar- Revelers in this Jersey shore party town can now legally drink from unregistered beer kegs and give people the finger.

Woo-hoo! Time to get liquored up and be rude!

"I'm not sure anyone even knew that making obscene gestures was illegal," Mayor Ken Pringle said. "Right after we send out our tax bills, I tend to see a few."

Same as every other Central Jersey town, I see.

Here's the real story:
One rule that's no longer on the books related to raising one's middle finger, or the many variants thereof. However objectionable it might be to some people, such a gesture is Constitutionally protected free speech, said Pringle, who is an attorney.
He said the borough was contacted by civil libertarians who questioned the legality of several municipal ordinances.
The ban on "obscene gestures," which never spelled out exactly what was and was not covered, was overly subjective, Pringle agreed. No one can recall anyone being prosecuted for violating it. Another law prohibiting people from loitering in alleyways also was axed.
And a beer keg tagging law, which Belmar enacted last year with great fanfare, withered and died after the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control said a handful of similar local laws enacted around the state requiring beer kegs to have the name, address and phone number of the person renting them was unconstitutional.

Let's just hope the bennies keep some modicum of self-restraint...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Freedom ain't free

Never let us forget that we are the land of the free only because we are the home of the brave.

Spc. Michael Edward Curtin, 23, Howell
Staff Sgt. Terry W. Hemingway, 39, Willingboro
Spc. Gil Mercado, 25, Paterson
Spc. Narson B. Sullivan, 21, North Brunswick
Spc. Kyle A. Griffin, 20, Emerson
Sgt. 1st Class Gladimir Philippe, 37, Roselle
Spc. Simeon Hunte, 23, Orange
Spc. Marlon P. Jackson, 25, Jersey City
Spc. Ryan Travis Baker, 24, Browns Mills
Spc. Marc S. Seiden, 26, Brigantine
2nd Lt. Seth J. Dvorin, 24, East Brunswick
Pfc. Bruce Miller Jr., 23, Orange
Spc. Adam Froehlich, 21, Pine Hill
2nd Lt. John T. Wroblewski, 25, Oak Ridge
Spc. Philip I. Spakosky, 25, Browns Mills
Spc. Christopher M. Duffy, 26, Brick
Sgt. Frank T. Carvill, 51, Carlstadt
Spc. Ryan E. Doltz, 26, Mine Hill
Sgt. Humberto F. Timoteo, 25, Newark
Sgt. Alan D. Sherman, 36, Wanamassa
Lance Cpl. Vincent M. Sullivan, 23, Chatham
Spc. Anthony J. Dixon, 20, Lindenwold
Capt. Michael Yury Tarlavsky, 30, Passaic
Spc. Yoe M. Aneiros, 20, Newark
Spc. Bryan L. Freeman, 31, Lumberton
Cpl. Marc T. Ryan, 25, Gloucester City
Pfc. Stephen C. Benish, 20, Clark
Spc. David P. Mahlenbrock, 20, Maple Shade
Lance Cpl. Brian P. Parrello, 19, West Milford
Spc. Alain L. Kamolvathin, 21, Blairstown
Cpl. Sean P. Kelly, 23, Pitman
Lance Cpl. Harry R. Swain IV, 21, Millville
Sgt. Stephen R. Sherman, 27, Neptune
Pfc. Min S. Choi, 21, River Vale
Maj. Steven W. Thornton, 46, with a Fort Monmouth-based unit
Maj. John C. Spahr, 42, Cherry Hill
Staff Sgt. Anthony L. Goodwin, 33, Mount Holly
Lt. Col. Terrence K. Crowe, 44, with a Lodi-based Army Reserve unit
Capt. James M. Gurbisz, 25, Eatontown
Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Sutherland, 33, West Deptford
Staff Sgt. Edward Karolasz, 25, Kearny
1st Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, 23, Freehold
Pfc. Ryan D. Christensen, 22, Spring Lake Heights
Sgt. Clarence L. Floyd Jr., 28, Newark
Sgt. Matthew J. Fenton, 24, Little Ferry
Pfc. Vincent M. Frassetto, 21, Toms River
1st Lt. Ashley L. (Henderson) Huff, 23, Belle Mead
Lance Cpl. Christopher B. Cosgrove III, 23, Cedar Knolls
Pfc. Donald S. Brown, 19, Succasunna
Spc. Eric G. Palacios Rivera, 21, Atlantic City
Lance Cpl. Michael A. Schwarz, 20, Carlstadt
Pfc. Joe L. Baines, 19, Newark
Pfc. Eric R. Wilkus, 20, Hamilton
Cpl. Thomas E. Saba, 30, Toms River
Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin L. Sebban, 29, of South Amboy
Pfc. Miguel A. Marcial III, 19, Secaucus
Sgt. Michael R. Hullender, 29, Little Falls
Staff Sgt. Vincenzo Romeo, 23, Lodi
Sgt. Sameer A. M. Rateb, 22, Absecon
Staff Sgt. Joseph M. Weiglein, 31, Audubon
Spc. Farid Elazzouzi, 26, Paterson
Sgt. Eric L. Snell, 35, Trenton
Pfc. David J. Bentz III, 20, Newfield
Sgt. Trista L. Moretti, 27, South Plainfield
Spc. Kareem R. Khan, 20, Manahawkin
Staff Sgt. Jason M. Butkus, 34, West Milford
Lance Cpl. Jon T. Hicks, 20, Atco
Cpl. Terrence P. Allen, 21, Pennsauken
Pfc. Luigi R. Marciante Jr., 25, Elizabeth
Sgt. Eric J. Hernandez, 26, Waldwick
Lance Cpl. Curtis A. Christensen Jr., 29, Collingswood
Maj. Dwayane Kelley, 48, South Orange
Capt. Gregory T. Dalessio, 30, Cherry Hill
Spc. Ronald R. Harrison, 25, Mt. Olive
Staff Sgt. William R. Neil, 38, Holmdel
Cpl. Steven R. Koch, 23, East Brunswick

Happy Independence Day.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lake Livin' in the Summertime, part 1

Relaxing on the shores of Lake Winnipesauke in New Hampshire this week with the spousal family.

Today, we're relaxing indoors while it rains. Yesterday, we were hiding out in the basement until the tornado warning passed. Then we played D&D until we were forced to stop to eat dinner, then again until we were forced to let the young people go to sleep.

The older two cousins played with Andrew and me. The younger two cousins really wanted to help, so they got to roll my dice for me. I kept trying to get them to go away to do somethng else while I was reading the flavor text; I wasn't sure how my sister-in-law would appreciate her younger kid hearing me explain how the players entered the sweltering hall full of blistered, diseased corpses and zombies. "Now that Uncle Andrew touched the dead body, he needs to roll a saving throw!" Luckily, no nightmares ensued.

Never a dull moment!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Art All Night in Trenton

Tomorrow at 3 PM through Sunday at 3PM, there will be Art all Night in Trenton! It's an indoor-outdoor show, in a former factory building and Millyard Park in the Chambersburg section of Trenton.

I'll be out of town, unfortunately, or I'd love to visit. I heard from a volunteer at last year's event that it's a great time as well as a great show. There's Art! and Music! and Food! and it's All Night! What's not to love?

Go. Have fun. Enjoy art in the 'burg all night.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Stupidest quote of the week

In Our Fair State, stupid quotes are pretty much the norm. However, it's already Wednesday, and I haven't seen anything to compare with the sheer silliness of this one from Sunday's Times of Trenton:
"Reducing the zones would have our children pass through a (phalanx) of drug dealers every day," said (Trenton) school board Vice President Alexander Brown. "This would bring drug trafficking 800 feet closer to our schools. Some legislators believe the zones have placed a hardship on drug dealers. To me, I say 'tough.'"

Yep! That's it! Legislators want drug dealers to have an easier time. That's the reason they want to reduce the size of the drug-free school zones and increase the penalties! Because our legislators just love the drug dealers!!

Or, it could be that the law targets minorities in our cities (where nearly every street is in a zone), unfairly chokes our prisons with non-violent offenders who could go to rehab, and hits offenders with two punishments for the same crime. Truly, if you think the penalty zone has restricted the amount of drug dealing in our cities, you had better check your facts.

At least some more logical minds had a few reasonable things to say:
"The Legislature is trying to address discriminatory practices," said Trenton board member T. Missy Balmir, referring to the study. "I think we need to be careful before we take a stand on this issue. I would like more information on how our city is truly affected by drug-free zones."
According to the commission, 96 percent of people jailed for dealing drugs within the zones are black or Hispanic. The commission argued two years ago that drug- free zones do not hinder drug sales near schools.
"If 96 percent of the people incarcerated under the drug-free zone law are black or Hispanic -- groups that only make up 20 percent of our state's population -- it's not a fair system," said Roseanne Scotti, director of the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey.
"Plus, there is no evidence that drug-free zones hinder drug sales," Scotti said. "Basically, this law amounts to two different penalties being given for the same exact crime -- the only differences between the two penalties are geography and race."
"I think that's an economic drain for the state of New Jersey, among issues of fairness," said Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson- Coleman, D-Ewing, who has introduced a bill to keep the drug-free zones at 1,000 feet while giving judges more discretion in sentencing.
"Was the person dealing drugs to students? Was school even in session when they were arrested?" Watson-Coleman said. "The judge should be able to determine the impact on society, the appropriate remedy, and then sentence accordingly."

Imagine that- a judge being able to determine impact and a remedy. Um, dare I say?- to judge. Then maybe clearer-thinking heads will prevail.

No one is saying drug dealing is a good thing. What is being said is that it's time to revisit a failed drug policy- one of many in our country. Kudos to the legislators and school board members who took the time to find out the facts about the effectiveness of these policies. Hopefully they can come up with a more effective and maybe more logical plan of attack on those who would prey on our children.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Locally Grown 2008

Many of the farmer's markets in Central NJ are open or are opening soon! Susan Sprague Yeske gave us a rundown in a recent Trenton Times of many local markets. Here are the highlights, with some extra:

West Windsor Community Farmers Market -- Saturdays through October, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Vaughn Drive lot of Princeton Junction Train Station (southbound). (609) 577-5113
Lawrenceville Farmers Market -- Sundays June 8 through Oct. 28, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot of Lawrenceville Fuel, 16 Gordon Ave., Lawrenceville. (609) 206-0344
Hopewell Community Market -- Wednesdays through October, 2 to 7 p.m. near the train station, at Railroad Place off Greenwood Avenue in Hopewell Borough. (609) 466-8330.
Trenton Farmers Market -- Open year round; for the harvest season through October, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Located at 960 Spruce St., Lawrence. (609) 695-2998,
Sergeantsville Farmers Market -- Saturdays through September from 8:30 a.m. to noon on the township green on Route 604 Rosemont-Ringoes Road in Delaware Township. (609) 397-8768.
Liberty Village Premium Outlets Farmers Market -- Sundays through Nov. 30, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Liberty Village Shopping Center, off Route 12, Flemington. (908) 782-8550.
Hunterdon Land Trust Farmers Market -- 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays at Dvoor Farm on the Route 12 circle in Flemington through October.
Burlington County Farmers Market -- 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at the former Winner Farm at Hartford and Centerton roads, Moorestown. (609) 265-5020. June 14 through October.
Columbus Farmers Market -- Daily, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Route 206, one mile south of Columbus.
(609) 267-0400.
Montgomery Friends Farmers Market -- 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays from June 21 through Oct. 25 at the Village Shopper on Route 206, just north of Route 518.
Rutgers Gardens Farmers Markets -- Fridays 2 to 6 p.m. through Oct. 31 on the Rutgers Garden grounds on Ryders Lane in New Brunswick.
Franklin Township Farmer's Market -- Through Nov. 29, Sat. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at John's Plaza 720 Hamilton St. (Across from New Millenium Bank; Franklin Twp., Somerset County)
Bound Brook Farmers Market -- Sat. 9a.m.-2p.m. through October. At the NJ Transit Parking Lot on Main Street in Bound Brook.
West End Farmer's Market -- Every Thursday 12-6 p.m. June 5-December 4, Parking lot behind Jesse's Cafe & Catering at 139 Brighton Avenue in the West End Section of Long Branch
Freehold Farmers Market -- Tuesdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The American Hotel, 18 E. Main St., Freehold. (732) 946-9639. July to October.

Some of these, such as the Trenton Farmer's Market, have rules about only selling what you grow- but there's no guarantee for the rest. There are lots of "farmer's markets" and roadside stands where, if you look carefully, you can see the folks unloading fruit and veggies out of the same boxes they get at Shop-Rite! Be careful. Don't be afraid to ask where the produce is grown. If you want Jersey Fresh, speak up!

Buy local!

(crossposted from sfoodblog)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What we think, and what we say

(Yay! Yay! I need this time so bad! I have a million things I need to do! I hate doing this anyway! The kids get so muddy! Yay! Yay! Yay!)

"Gee, honey, I'm sorry soccer practice was canceled. The fields are pretty wet. Maybe you can do something fun at home instead?"


Songwriters singin'

Last weekend, intrepid spouse and I dropped the kids at a relative's house and went with some friends (who did the same with their offspring) to see singer/songwriters David Wilcox and Justin Roth perform in Westfield, as part of the Coffee with Conscience series.

This was the first I'd heard of the series, and that's a shame. Both John Flynn and Susan Werner were there this year and we would have loved to see them. Better late than never, I guess; we had a great time at this show.

I'd also never heard of Justin Roth. His instrumental pieces were probably his best songs but his lyrics were great too. A standout was "Dead Horse Trampoline." (Yes, it is what you think it is. You can find the lyrics on his site but I suggest you go listen to him play it instead.) He also told a great story about dueling GPS devices on the drive to Jersey

David Wilcox was his usual impressive self. If you've never heard any of his music, you've missed much. East Asheville Hardware is a collection of live music to give you an idea what he's all about, and Airstream is his newest. The first album of his I had was How Did You Find Me Here, which my friend Papagoose introduced me to in college. (In some type of strange poetic justice, I lent my copy to the brother of a friend, who never gave it back. That same friend married Papagoose and they were the couple with whom we went to the show. Go figure.)

Singer/songwriter shows can be a lot of fun, especially if they include good coffee like this one did. We very much enjoyed the intimate nature of the location as well as the good seats that only a small space can provide. Papagoose identified the several types of fans who are always in attendance at these shows:
  • The Personal Friend: waves his hand and tries to get the artist's attention. "David? David!"
  • The Song Shouter: calls out the name of his favorite song before each and every song, hoping the artist will play it. "Rusty Old American Dream!" ("Free Bird!")
  • The First Clapper: claps after the first chord of every song, to make sure EVERYONE knows that HE identified the song FIRST.
  • The Sing-Alongs: that's pretty self-explanatory. We all fall into this category sometimes.

After the great show, we hit J.J. Bittings, but the kitchen was closing and it was way loud after our folksy evening. So we decided to toilet paper our good friends' house instead.

Luckily for them, they were home so we couldn't go TPing. We invaded their home and stayed until 3AM eating junk food we picked up at the gas station. Hell, we had babysitters. We were staying out as late as we could possibly muster.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Next Book to Read

Jeri Smith-Ready's next book, Wicked Game, comes out on Friday the 13th. She's posted an excerpt from the first chapter, in case you can't wait for your copy to be delivered.

This is cool: since it's about a radio station*, Jeri has put together a soundtrack for the book:

I got those albums I was waiting for from Amazon yesterday. Now, I have to wait almost two weeks for them to send my copy of Wicked Game. Guess I gotta get busy reading all that other stuff I borrowed from the library...

*a radio station populated with vampires. How cool is that?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My media-verse for spring

I haven't done one of these in a few months, so I thought it might be fun. Here goes!


The kids have discovered that there are other Foo Fighters albums besides Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace, so we've been hearing The Color and the Shape quite a bit. (Since I love both albums, I'm not inclined to stop them from playing them, over and over and over and over...) We're waiting for our new Gnarls Barkley album to come from Amazon, so we've been playing St. Elsewhere in anticipation. (If you haven't seen their videos yet, head over to the web site now and play them. Now. I'll wait, it's ok. ... Welcome back! Wasn't that cool?) I recently took a break from audiobooks to listen to something completely different: Yo Yo Ma's Inspired by Bach. A recent post of Brenda Tremblay's reminded me that I hadn't heard that in a while.


30 Rock is still the funniest thing on television, however I've found myself making time on Friday nights to watch The Soup with Joel McHale. (Booya!) Top Chef is keeping itself interesting this year, even with a good batch of chefs and no real bad guy. We powered through season 2 of Weeds on DVD; Season 3 is being released soon! We're still catching up on our Venture Brothers as well.


We haven't set foot in a movie theater in a long time, so it's all DVD and tape for us. We recently watched all 3 original Star Wars movies with the kids, and I must say, they aren't holding up to time the way most classics do. By the end of Jedi, I had the idea for a new drinking game: every time someone called someone else an "old buddy," or every time the Emperor reminded Luke that his friends (said with demonic derision) were going to die, you had to drink. You'd be so drunk you'd never even wonder how the Ewoks put up such a well-organized and well-equiped attack in the ten minutes they had to plan.

The kids are now asking to watch the three newer movies. It's not very responsible of me to play a drinking game with the kids in the room, so I'll just have to sit through them sober. I don't know how I'll manage. (Maybe episode three will save me; I heard it was better than the other two, but episode two sucked so bad I never went to see it.)

We have two grown-up movies to watch in the next week; Jamie Fox's The Kingdom, and No Country for Old Men. It will be a week of intense movie drama, to say the least.


I've been ripping through books lately and I wonder if I can remember all I've read. Born Standing Up was interesting and well-written. My Horizontal Life: a Collection of One-Night Stands was popcorn and fun. I tore through Power Down, the most recent graphic novel in the Ex Machina series. The Red Tent was a fantastically well-told story from a new point of view. In Defense of Food was common sense codified, and The Year of Eating Dangerously was cute, self-deprecating food and travel writing.

I listened to His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass, the Amber Spyglass and The Subtle Knife) The production was fantastic, but "disappointed" doesn't even begin to describe how I felt when I was done listening to them. "Annoyed" is close. As a family, we listened to Inkheart and are deep in Inkspell; different readers change the feeling of the characters, but the books are really good. I'm listening to Neil Gaiman's short story collection Fragile Things, which has some high points, some low points, and is beginning to run together too much. I would have rather read them one at a time in their original collections, I think.

I have several books on tap to read now: The Brief Wondrous Live of Oscar Wao is top of that list, but I'm afraid to start it. See, when the list at the library for it was so long, I picked up Junot Diaz's book of short stories Drown, and I couldn't finish it. It was brutal, both in its level of violence and its tone. I also have Predictably Irrational and The Geography of Bliss to start- I may not finish it all before it has to go back to the library.

So, that's the last couple of months of media around here. What's in your Media-verse now?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Fleecing of Hamilton and NJ- Quit while you're behind edition

Court upholds land deal
Hamilton stuck with Klockner Woods

HAMILTON -- A state court has again refused to void the township's agreement to purchase the 51-acre tract known as Klockner Woods, keeping taxpayers on the hook for the roughly $4.5 million land deal while township officials contemplate taking the case to the state Supreme Court.
A decision handed down yesterday from the appellate division of the state Superior Court ruled that the township must uphold its 2005 agreement to purchase the land, despite arguments that the township council never approved an appropriation to buy the property.

The township council says they never approved the funds for the purchase, so it isn't legal. Unfortuantely, the courts don't see it that way; they (repeatedly) state that the purchase was legal.

George Dougherty, the attorney representing Hamilton, said he would be recommending the township pursue the matter with the state's highest court.
"I think they absolutely missed the law," Dougherty said. "You can't make a solid commitment unless you have money set aside to do it. You simply don't spend money that you don't have."

Unfortunately, George, spending money we don't have is the American Way. See, right now you're spending Hamilton taxpayers' money to fight a fight you can't win.

But if the Supreme Court decides not to hear the case, or if it upholds the decision of the lower courts, there would certainly be implications for Hamilton's finances, according to interim township business administrator William Guhl.
Besides legal costs, which have climbed to about $30,000, the township will be on the hook for long-term debt payments on the $4.1 million price, plus interest, including a down payment of roughly $200,000, Guhl said.
The township has already paid Fieldstone about $380,000 in interest as part of the agreement, and further interest payments have raised the township's current obligation to about $4.5 million, according to John Buonocore, the attorney representing Fieldstone.
When asked his opinion on the decision, Guhl backed Dougherty's view.
"If you want to buy something, and it's a capital item and you want to" using a bond ordinance, Guhl said, a municipality must "specifically identify in the ordinance what it is you want to buy."
The courts, however, have ruled otherwise. The appellate court affirmed Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg's opinion that a bond ordinance specifically appropriating money for the land purchase was not required in order for the purchase agreement to be binding.
In her decision, issued early last year, Feinberg pointed to other actions the township took that could have funded the purchase, including $5 million appropriated for open space and multiple public attempts by the township to secure outside funding for the purchase.
Feinberg also argued that the cost to taxpayers would be higher if she overturned the settlement to purchase the land, pointing to the cost of the litigation that could ensue.

Just when you thought this whole mess couldn't get worse...

"This has always been about Hamilton politics and it was never about the value of the land," Buonocore (of Feildstone) said.
(former Mayor Glenn) Gilmore backed that claim yesterday.
"The Republican council knew that they were simply wasting valuable taxpayer dollars in lawyer fees and interest cost with this appeal, but they wanted to keep the issue alive for the last election at taxpayer expense," he wrote in response to an e-mail asking for comment.

Add that comment to the (very short) list of things that Glen Gilmore got right.

A friend and Hamilton resident put it very succintly to me once: "Gilmore screwed us." Especially on this issue, you bet. But it's time for the new administration and town council to stop trying to fight old battles and move on to fixing the problems they were elected to fix. Meanwhile, legal fees and interest payments keep piling up, and guess who has to pay for those?

Yes, the land should be preserved. Yes, when the purchase agreement was made SOMEONE should have been looking out for the taxpayers' interest. We all agree to that.

Now is not the time for those arguements- that time was back in 2004 and 2005. Now is the time now for the council to stop shoveling more of the taxpayers' good money after bad and move on.