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Election Day is finally here! Let's get out there an seal the deal for Trump and the American people! And don't forget to support the CTGOP under-ticket!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Video of Loch Ness monster!

Believe it or not - after a long hiatus, the Loch Ness Monster affectionately known as "Nessie" is back in the news. 55-year old Gordon Holmes says he's got the proof!

Here is a link to the story and video.

Most folks have regarding the "monster" as urban legend, while others have believed that the creature still exists and lurks in the Loch. Scientists have spent thousands of hours and plenty of money chasing the allusive creature.

The video is interesting in that a 45 foot long - something is captured lurking across the Loch. For the longest time, most scientists have declared that the monster is probably overgrown sturgeon that enter through the inlets, and nothing more.

It's quite possible that a dinosaur variety (perhaps a Plesiosaurs as Nessie is often depicted) could have existed some time ago, but based on most input by scientists that the Loch would be incapable of supplying enough food and nutrients for a creature that size to live. Still, 4000 logged sightings claim that old Nessie makes occasional appearances, and not all of them were drunk on Scotch. Nessie feeds our imagination and hope of some that there is more to this Earth than what we see around us. Here is a good Nessie site to peruse if you have the time. and another that takes a skeptical look at the creature.

Also see CNN's page on this story with footage. Well, if its another hoax to drum up tourism, they've got the world's media outlets selling their story.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Trinity Episcopal Church, Bristol joins CANA: Robinson not invited to Lambeth

It's one of the missions of this blog to bring you key updates on the state of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut and abroad, and the latest news on the upcoming schism between the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. Here are a few points to pass on, one local, one national:

Here is a snippet from a Press Release on Trinity Church (sanctuary pictured right), Bristol, Connecticut, from the Mission of the Church of Nigeria:

Trinity Church in Bristol, Connecticut, A pre-Revolutionary War parish that was established in 1747, Trinity Church built its first church building on Federal Hill Green in then New Cambridge in 1754. Trinity Church is one of the “Connecticut Six”, a group of Anglican congregations within the state of Connecticut who have sought to maintain their historic connections with the wider Anglican Communion despite continuing legal challenges initiated by the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. Today, Trinity Church is an active worshipping community of approximately 130 under the leadership of the Rev’d Donald Helmandollar.

Here is a link to a story in the New Haven Register regarding Trinity's leaving the ECUSA. And another here from the Courant.

We at The King's View applaud the Bristol Church, Rev'd Helmandollar, and all its members for taking this positive and challenging step forward. Everyone realizes that it's been a tough road "going it alone" and taking on Bishop Dean Smith and his pack of lawyers and cronies. Smith's tough armed approach with the Connecticut Six will never be forgotten. We are just happy that the folks at Trinity, Bristol have found a home in the Anglican Communion where they can worship peacefully and in harmony with the Communion.

Rev'd Helmandollar's quote in the Courant article is worth repeating to underline the reason that that the ECUSA is falling apart and churches around the country are bolting the madness in the ECUSA:

"The defining issue for us is the absolute revisionist view of Scripture within the Episcopal Church, the idea that man wrote the Bible, so man can change it, " Helmandollar said. "You'll hear such things from the Episcopal Church. We firmly believe we do not have the authority to do that. We firmly believe it is the word of God and it's not to be changed."

Also noted this week... this comes at a time when the Anglican Church is preparing for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, where last week it was reported that gay activist and open homosexual alleged-Bishop Gene Robinson will not be invited to the Conference. The Conference could set the final stage for the removal of the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion due to the Episcopal Church's embarrassing incorporation of a new revisionist Christian doctrine.

It's clear that based on reports out of London that the Primates are becoming increasing frustrated with the Archbishop of Canterbury over his patience with the American Church (ECUSA) and for the fact that he will be taking a three month break from the activity. It's my own view that the Archbishop Williams is probably biding time and hoping that the ECUSA comes to its senses on all of this; but this isn't likely to happen given the leadership in the ECUSA which is hell-bent on moving further left in its interpretation of Scripture.

I, for one, would like to see Archbishop Williams take a tougher stand with the ECUSA, and perhaps that will come in time. At this point, I don't want to mistake any misinterpretation of inaction or "careful approach" by the Archbishop as a sign that he is siding with the ECUSA or not up for the task. I'm sure this is a tough matter for him and he thinks about the fact that his legacy could be that of the Archbishop who helped boot the ECUSA out of the Anglican Communion. From a human standpoint, I'm sure that's got to be gut-wrenching, and painful.

But the Archbishop should keep in mind that its the leadership of the ECUSA that brought this acid rain down upon all of us. And the Primates and other conservative (and moderate) voices have had enough with the ECUSA's polity. And if it helps, think about the way that Bishop Andrew Smith has ruthlessly treated the Connecticut Six - ripping the churches out from under the parishioners, and how Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori has basically threatened a ninety year old man with excommunication hearings and such, and the many other nasty methods and attacks she has employed on dozens of parishes across the United States. Just what is Christian about Jeffert Schori's strong-armed tactics?

Red Sox continue to dominate! But there is work to do!

Ok, so its only May (almost June), but the Boston Red Sox are on fire. It's hard to fathom this early out from September that the Sox are absolutely guaranteed to win the division. It's almost asking for trouble to make such claims - even with the New York Yankees dying on the vine and 14.5 games out. But its noteworthy, that his has to be one of the first times I can remember the Sox being this far ahead of the entire AL East pack.

It's the way the Sox have managed to win that surprises me most. Most Sox fans would agree that in the past several seasons its been about Manny and Papi and their heroic homeruns that have given the Sox their go-go juice. But that's not the case this year at all.

While both of those guys are contributing (and Manny batting around a mediocre .268), its been the bats of Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, and the rest of the cast and crew stringing together victories in almost a small ball fashion. It's bizarre to think that a team that has players (like Coco Crisp) who seems to try to bunt his way on base every time seems to keep rolling over the opposition. And Sox have done just that - most notably over the pitching staffs of Detroit, Anaheim, and Cleveland.

Sox pitching has been a surprise in both directions. Curt Schilling has fallen out of the "Ace" category by his inconsistent starts, yet "wacky" Julian Tavarez and Sox veteran Tim Wakefield have had better than expected outings. Dice-K (Daisuke Matsuzaka) and Josh Beckett (8-0) have been - as advertised: Lights out all season long.

And the biggest surprise, and the guy that's on track for my vote for MVP is Hideki Okajima. Wow, out of Heaven on a chariot comes Hideki. This guy is the real deal in the bullpen! Reliever or closer, it doesn't matter - he just shuts them down - 1-2-3!

But this wouldn't be a Red Sox column if I didn't whine and bith about something, so let me list my criticisms and concerns - in WEEI-fashion about the team here:

  • Manny Ramirez has to become more productive in the line up. It seems each year his "late start" gets later and later. I don't know if this is a product of age, or if they've just scouted Manny to death and the AL has his number. I have noticed that he gets the no swing, high and inside strike often. He only has eight homeruns so far, and for Manny - that's dismal.
  • Jonathan Papelbon seems to be struggling in his closer role, or at best has been inconsistent. Loading the bases on Monday is another example where he puts himself in a very tough spot by allowing baserunners in the 9th inning. Eventually (and it already has once) this will come back to bite him and the Sox will lose a few in the late hours.
  • Willy Mo Pena needs to step up. He was supposed to be the next big thing and he's a young gun shooting water pistols. He's batting a lackluster .237, and his fielding ability is poor. We can excuse a guys fielding ability (we tend to overlook David Ortiz on this point) when he's contributing to run totals. But Willy Mo is in trouble, and from what I've seen he'd be lucky to be able to throw out someone at home if he were standing on the mound. At minimum, he needs to get the lead out and pick up the ball and get the damn thing back in the infield more quickly. Perhaps its not enough playing time, but whatever it is, he needs to fix it.
  • J.D. Drew is another guy we expect more from, particulary when he was brought on to replace Sox-legend Trot Nixon at such a phenominal price. Drew is batting .232, and he's no Dwight Evans out there in right field. And it should be pointed out that he's battled back to .232 from the abyss. He seems like he's a solid player. Let's hope he picks it up or shouts of "Nancy Drew" will be echoing in Fenway.
  • Coco Crisp. Ok, his fielding has been heroic out there - particularly diving to catch fly balls and so forth - some catches were game savers (he'd better since he clearly doesn't have a strong arm out there as evidenced by the extra bases taken by the opposition when he retrieves the ball on one hop). But instead of swinging the bat, we find him bunting out to third. I'm not sure what that is all about but its not helping his .234 average. I'm still waiting for Coco to help me forget about why we didn't need Johnny Damon.
  • Dustin Pedroia is finding his groove. Three weeks ago, this entire column might have been about him and his inability to get on base. However, his defensive play is unbelievable. It will be interesting to watch his career though, can a guy who's 5'9", small, and lacks power make it in the big leagues? Time will tell.
  • Jason Varitek. Tek is one of my favorite players and his homer last night shows that despite his .270 average comes through when needed. And moreover, he's the strategist behind much of the success from the mound. Tek is the heart and sole of this team, but I hope and pray that he stays healthy, and doesn't break down or get an injury. If Tek goes down, I would expect to see some backpeddling by the Sox to a certain extent. Mirabellis is good, but he's another guy up there in age, and its asking a lot of him to catch Wakefield and everyone else day after day.

But notwithstanding all my criticisms, our team continues to put up numbers in the "W" column. The 2007 Red Sox play as a team, with a sprinkle of offense here and good pitching there. There are no heroes as in previous seasons - every win is a team win. And I think the best is yet to come.

And my only gripe with the Red Sox organization doesn't involve any of the players, coaches, or trainers. It's actually the only thing that I would change about the Sox organization if I had my way. Last year the Red Sox didn't renew the contract of long time Red Sox play by play radio announcer - Jerry Trupiano who has been a staple and fan favorite sitting beside "the voice of the Red Sox" Joe Castiglione for many years. I miss his homerun calls "Waaay Baaaack" - even those that were caught in deep right field.

The Sox decided to replace Trup with two other guys meant to split the duty with Castiglione - Dave O'Brien and Glenn Geffner. Of the two, I prefer to hear O'Brien. O'Brien is informative and his voice doesn't aggitate the listener in the way that Glenn Geffner's does. He seems to have good chemistry with Joe, and the two compliment each other well. Moreover, O'Brien comes across as having respect for Castiglione over the airwaves, seeking Joe's thoughts and supplementing his comments.

Listening to Glenn Geffner is like listening to a little league baseball game on your local cable access channel. Geffner is downright hideous in his play by play routine, giddy, and full of useless statistics that annoy the listeners. He often provides statistical detail that leaves Joe Castiglione quiet and fans yearning for Jerry Remy. It's really becoming an issue as fans have really voiced their negative views of Geffner's style and hope he isn't renewed next year. Some fear that he is a friend of Theo Epstein's and he's probably not going anywhere. (I recommend checking out for some great commentary on this top.)

Please Theo. Forget your ties to old friend Geffner. He's killing the games, and forcing Joe to carry him through 9 innings. Please, set things right and send him to the Sea Dogs. Or better yet, West Hartford Little League just might create an opening for him so he can shine at the level where his talent lies.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day Success in West Harford! Some thoughts on civilian losses in war, et al.

Hopefully, you attended the Memorial Day parade and ceremony on Monday. If you didn't, you missed something very special. The entire town - including all of the fabulous school bands, and groups marching down Farmington Avenue looked sharp and really made us all proud that we are residents of West Hartford. As I said in my previous post - Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, and a day to recognize the sacrifice that so many made in the name of freedom.

I recognize that many of the kids who marched, may not yet understand the nature of why we are celebrating and parading around town. But in time, they will grow up to comprehend it, and remember that they took part in honoring those who have gone before us and made the ultimate sacrifice. This is a good lesson that we teach our children; this is one holiday that should not be removed from the holiday schedule so that the school teacher's union members can get out a day earlier. (Pathetic idea to say the least). And no matter how hard they try, the schools just wouldn't do it justice - seeing, feeling, and listening to real veterans tell real stories is the real deal - let the kids walk amongst giants. Schools just wouldn't get it right.

My young daughter is only two years old, and she may not recollect all of the images she witnessed on Monday in her later years. But I did capture images of her at the parade on my modest Canon A520, and I will continue to bring her to Memorial Day parades and celebrations so that she may learn the value of what these men and women have done for us and for future generations.

The ceremony was also well conducted and solemn. I think it was very fitting to hear certain points regarding the sacrifice by civilians in war. One of the speakers made it a point to describe a tale of what the Atomic Bomb - launched by our Armed Forces on Hiroshima, Japan - did to the civilian population - relaying a story told by a visiting Japanese teacher regarding her family's escape from death and starvation by hiding under the bridge and consuming Saki to stay alive. Also, to be fair, the German War machine rained tens of thousands of bombs on London and her outlying areas - turning streets and homes to rubble, and killing thousands of innocent civilians. The same story can be told in many places, from Vietnam to Dresden, Germany.
Few escape the horrors of war when the battle rages on their homeland. During 9-11, I lost a fraternity brother who had one child who's wife was months away from giving birth to their second child. He was a civilian casualty of Bin Laden's mad dream. He had phoned his wife to tell her he was on his way down the stair to safety - but he never made it. The horror of it is surreal. While I wasn't close to him as both started families in different parts of the world, we still had our time together at UConn. And so the speech on Monday hit home and the point was poignant.

The purpose of the day is to get us to remember. So while the parade featured military veterans, bands, balloons, and old jalopies, it held special meaning for some of us who spent the rest of the day reflecting on what it all means, and how complicated war can be - including this one in Iraq - which everyone is sick to death of. But the balance between was is right and what is necessary is often blurred.
I have to say that the United States does engage in a lot of conflicts around the world - that much is true. But I also have to say that we do not start them, but often are called on to finish them. There is not easy answer to this, because if there were then it would be implemented and congress would be embroiled in arguments about health care and taxes and little else.
But the policies should not take away from the human element. No one signs up to die, and no one enlists to become a name on a grave marker. I think this is often lost in the discussion; and intentionally dismissed by those on the left, like Cindy Sheehan and Hillary Clinton, who invoke a soldier's misfortune for political gain. For that reason, I strongly dislike these people, and when I read stories like these, I'm angered by the self-centered mindset of some holier-than- thou people like Sheehan.

I need to end on a positive note with this posting. Monday was a fabulous day for West Hartford, and our veterans, parents, children and -- even our politicians managed to act respectful - for the most part and honored the crowd with thought-provoking commentary that didn't go over the top.
Thank you Veterans. And thank you families of veterans lost. Thank you for what you've endured, and for your sacrifice. And to the families of those civilians who were lost due to war - we mourn with you and share in your sorrow.
Most of us appreciate your loss, and we offer our respect and condolences on this Memorial Day in West Hartford.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Thoughts on Memorial Day in West Hartford & Parade Detail

West Hartford has consistently done an excellent job of celebrating Memorial Day over the years. And I'm sure that this year will be no exception.
Even the past years replays on our cable access channel (minus the speeches by Lil' Jonathan Harris) are worth viewing over and over again. One smiles at the children parading down Farmington Aveune carrying flags, feels respect for the older veterans decked out in WWII military uniforms as they ride in antique cars , and feels hearts sink as specific stories are retold at the podium behind West Hartford town hall of how men - we have known - have given their lives for this great country.

Memorial Day should be celebrated by all of us. From Bunker Hill to Iraq, Americans have given their lives in the cause of freedom - our freedom from tyranny and oppression, and madmen who would wish to see us and our western allies wiped off the face of the Earth.
Democracy has a price that is paid in blood and death, and will continue to be paid in blood and death as long as Democratic Republics exist and human beings never surrender the will to be free. Not everyone agrees or understands that war is a necessary evil. In fact there are those around us that simply cannot bridge the gap between war and freedom; many of these people are well meaning, but cannot grip the hard reality that violence and death are the necessary results of defending that freedom. Sadly, some will never get it. And those people are to be ignored.
Instead, we should focus on those men and woman who have gone before us. And celebrate their lives. And think on their ultimate sacrafice.
Men and woman who have given their lives for our country are our true heroes - not our sports team, hollywood idols, or politicians. They have given their lives - not so we can eat hotdogs and hamburgers once a year or attend a parade - but so we can live the way we do each and every day - 365 days a year. I've provided the parade information below. Please attend and pay homage to our true heroes, and remember.

West Hartford parade information from

The town's parade begins at 10 a.m. from the corner of Woodrow Street and Farmington Avenue. It will proceed east on Farmington Avenue, turn south on South Main Street and continue to town hall. State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is the honorary parade marshal. Leading the procession will be the grand marshal, 1st Lt. Jean-Paul Berard, US Army Reserves. He is a World War II veteran of the Pacific Theater and a retired West Hartford teacher.The Rev. Rick Hansen of the United Methodist Church will be parade chaplain, and Tim Hussey of the Conard High School band will be parade bugler. A service will be held at the Veterans' Memorial at Farmington Avenue and North Main Street.The Central Connecticut Region of the Antique Car Club of America have invited veterans and their spouses to ride the parade route in one of their antique cars. Veterans wishing to do so should be at the entrance to town hall at 9:15 a.m.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Courant Story: Home invasion on Exeter Ave, West Hartford

See this Hartford Courant story regarding a home invasion on Exeter Avenue in West Hartford.

Makes the case for the use of alarms and fire arms to protect oneself.

Four hispanics brandishing guns, met the owner by pointing a gun at her, threatened and the repeatedly ransacked the house. Talk about being violated.

Here are some crime statistics available on West Hartford, and more here; if you can provide more recent detail, please let me know.

Most Haunted Live coming to the United States on June 1st!

For those who don't know, I'm a big fan of the British- based show Most Haunted which is hosted by Yvette Fielding. Fielding is is usually flanked by spiritual medium, David Wells and a small band of regulars - team members who investigate paranormal activity, and crew operating cameras and sound equipment. There is great chemistry with the group as they look for spirits from the netherworld during their weekly taped broadcast. The show airs in Britain on LivingTV, and in the United States on The Travel Channel, Fridays at 10 p.m. (with a usual repeat airing on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. for those of us that need the sleep - check listings).

Well there is exciting news for Most Haunted enthusiasts! On June 1st - to sort of kick off the new season - the Most Haunted Live crew plan to visit the Eastern State Penitentiary located in Pennsylvania for an unprecedented seven hour live broadcast beginning at 8 p.m on the Travel Channel. ESP, as its fondly referred to was built around 1828, and is full of lore and reports of ghostly happenings. This is a perfect site for our gang of paranormal investigators to research and the fact that its States-side is even more exciting!

My thoughts on the show

While I won't get into the topic of whether or not I believe in ghosts in this article, I have to concede that there is good reason that Most Haunted has a huge world-wide fan base that is near to a cult proportion following amongst its viewers. The show is incredibly entertaining and is so well produced that you want to tune in each Friday to see what happens next.

The show has something for everyone since it contains elements of history, architecture, drama, storytelling, terror, humor, and some buffoonery - all components that make it all the worth while to tune in each week. It generally follows the same format in a very predictable fashion - which is obviously what works since the ratings are through the roof here and abroad. In fact, the UK is currently airing its ninth season on LivingTV (and we will be viewing the seveth series here in the United States via Travel Channel beginning on June 8th).

Each episode starts out with a brief two minute introduction by Yvette Fielding on where this weeks' location is and what kinds of creepy happenings have been seen or heard by visitors to the location. This sort of level sets the scare to raise your expectations and level of anxiety. This is then followed by about a 7 minute daylight tour of the location led by the show's guest medium, who is usually flanked and fed leading questions by Director Yvette Fielding who clearly is rooting for something to creep up and haunt the crew to haides. The medium almost always picks up on vibes or sees images in his minds eye showing events or people that have dwelled in the building, and are still in astral form on the premises, who are, we are told, watching the crew as they walk the location. And there is usually a promise that the location is quite active tonight, and they can expect "activity".

What is usually remarkable (or silly depending on your take) about this part of the show is that the viewers are always told that the medium is never provided any information about the location prior to his arrival. So then when the medium generally manages to "pick up on" or "communicate" with a person who is identified by name, and that name fits almost precisely with a previous owner or resident's name - and is confirmed by the team skeptic/historian (who accompanies the medium and Fielding), it lends to either solidify the "ohhhs and ahhhs" for those who believe that what they are seeing is real, or provides laughter for those who think the show is nothing more than a choreographed sketch. Either way, its extremely gripping.

After receiving a commitment of ghosts and ghouls watching (and sometimes warning), we switch to night vision camera mode. The rest of the show is filled with the team investigating the rooms (and sometimes grounds) either alone or in small groups, filming and recording sounds like moans, creeks, bangs and knocks that show a terrified crew screaming and jumping about asking "what was that"; occasionally light anomalies are captured on screen that show up as orbs and streaks of light - and generally appear at the time that the spirits are called upon to "let them know they are there." Most Haunted rewinds these particular sightings for us to see for ourselves in the case we missed it, or want to validate for ourselves.

The team tend to do much of the same each week and at times to give it flavor they practice "table tipping", to operating a make shift Ouija Boards where yes or no questions are often fed to the spirit to get provocative answers to stir the moment. Sometimes, and particularly when Derek Acorah was a member of the team (more on him later), the audience would have to endure a "possession" or two by a spirit over the medium. When they occur, they are by far the most hokiest part of the show that generally leaves viewers perplexed and agitated.

All in all, its an entertaining hour that speeds by. You get just enough of each segment to leave you wanting more, and there is generally enough 'evidence' to get you to partially believe that what you are seeing makes the case that ghosts do in fact haunt the location. I can recall early in the initial seasons that there were a few investigations that had gone bust. For some reason, this never happens now, although activity ranges from active to slightly active. The viewers are told that the MH crew has more ghostly experiences because the trust they have in each other after working together so long benefits their ability to make contact with those who have passed on. Simply put, it would be a very boring show if they just sat around in the dark with nothing happening.

Staging Elements and Derek Acorah; Most Haunted exposed

Most Haunted went through a rough period of accusations of staging. To some this is like what Pro Wrestling went through in the 1990s, when it was revealed that it was choreographed staging and entertainment than actual competitive battling. But like wresting, there are those who are going to believe its real no matter what evidence you provide. And today wrestling is as popular as ever and still taken as real by some viewers.

The problem with MH is that its base viewership probably wants to believe - because spiritualism is a very serious thing for some people - and MH provides a link to that whole world, so when stories or videos leak on the Internet exposing MH, there is an angry backlash amongst the viewership. A series of events exposing Derek Acorah happened during a few Most Haunted tapings which eventually ended up with either Derek's dismissal from the show or his leaving. We still don't have the straight story on this and perhaps never will. CiarĂ¡n O'Keeffe, paranormal investigator and MH skeptic called Derek out and accused him of being a fake after O'Keefe intentionally slipped a name to him through the MH crew which was nothing more than an anagram that read "Derek Faker" and another time they slipped one in that read "Derek Lies". There is a good article here from the UK's Daily Mirror expose on Most Haunted's most entertaining, and least trusted medium. And here is another article on the matter.

I have to admit that even my wife found Derek's antics over-acted, and his numerous possessions came across as very fake, violent, and down-right agitating. I think for most of us, who sort of sit on the fence on what we are seeing, felt as though we were be pushed over to the "this whole thing is total BS category" nearly every time Derek appeared. And the more he appeared, the worse his antics became. Ultimately, I believe Derek's leaving had much to do with saving Most Haunted's reputation with viewers. He became a liability they could no longer float. Reports are that the crew on the show wanted Derek gone much sooner but the producers had to weigh this against his popularity which helped with ratings. This site provides video that pretty much closes the book on Acorah - you can view for yourself and decide. I think to save both Derek's professional career and Most Haunted's credibility, the two simply agreed to part ways quietly. Thus Derek was gone after Series 6.

Life after Acorah

In contrast, David Wells, who now serves as Most Haunted's full time medium, is a mild, mannered, low-key, believable medium, who tends to approach his work cautiously and seriously. At times, he simply cannot reach the spirits, which I believe lends to his credibility, and adds to the show's overall credibility. Wells is a full time medium and UK astrologer who devotes time to other shows and specials on spiritualism, etc.
It's sort of remarkable that when Acorah and Wells were on the same show, the often didn't pick up on the same spirits. I would bet that from a professional standpoint, Wells and Acorah probably don't comment on each other's talents.
Nothwithstanding, the show continuous to flourish, and there appear to be plenty of sites for the Most Haunted crew to investigate world-wide. Fans are hoping that MH doesn't run its course and come to an end, but with 175 episodes already taped, there are always the reruns for those who want to watch.
As part of this blog, I think I will begin commenting on Most Haunted Live and Series 7 which will all begin on June 1st with the Eastern State Penitentiary show.
Happy viewing!
Other links:

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Soccer: Credit to AC Milan for winning the Champions League Trophy!

Well, congrats AC Milan. You are the Champions of Europe!

You managed to defeat Liverpool FC by a score of 2-1 yesterday in fancy style. Despite calls for your removal from the tournament due to your involvement in the match fixing scandal, you ignored the controversy and won the game on the pitch. And like it or not, the game is not won in committee meetings or courts, but on the pitch - and no one can take that away from you.

As for Liverpool FC, their play was inexcusable. Gerrard, Crouch (who was added too late in the game btw), and the gang lacked focus and looked like children ready for a nap. The fact is that Liverpool FC has looked pathetic for weeks now, including lackluster efforts during the final weeks of English Premier League play that made people question whether or not they were even engaged at all.

Maybe next year, Liverpool. But be prepared to finish what you start. This is yet another sad end to an otherwise promising season. This is another win for Serie A to rub in the face of the EPL.

Now that the soccer season is officially, over - and as losers often do - Liverpool FC will have the chance to think about what could have been, all summer long. And in when play resumes in the late summer/fall we will see if Liverpool FC has learned anything from all of this.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Shift Happens... even in West Hartford

An executive manager at my company distributed this nice little slide presentation entitled "shift happens" via email which links to a blog. This goes to show you the power of blogs and how quickly communication - thoughts and ideas that emphasize certain values and beliefs can be distributed across even entities like large, slow, lethargic corporate dinosaurs (like most companies in Hartford and elsewhere). It's certainly an indicator of the value of mass communication when businesses can pick up on new style communications that fit their bill and distribute them company-wide to make a point.

And to give proper credit, the slide presentation is the work of the folks at The presentation is certainly worth a look. It sums up the speed at which technology is progressing, populations are booming, and provides some interesting statistics about future probabilities of state.

But you have to wonder when does the rate at which technology improves far surpass human capacity to incorporate it (or even understand it) before the technology is outdated? And moreover, what complications will occur if folks like the Bin Laden crowd pick up on these new technologies and are able to implement them before government agencies are capable of defending against inroads that terrorist groups might make.

I don't fear technology but I do have concerns about how its used and by whom. And I certainly understand that you can't stand in front of the train tracks trying to slow progress. But I do get concerned that as human beings we tend to be "stuck in the muck" - fighting century old battles over religion, land, and domination over each other. Don't get me wrong - I'd certainly rather have Democratic Republics like ours which value civil rights, liberties and freedom doing the lording over - than the al Qaeda types - any day. It's pretty clear to anyone with a brain that those Islamic fundamentalists are lunatics that don't place any value on life.

I don't have a solution for any of this. But I'm in good company since neither does President Bush or the Democrats, or any of the bureaucrats at the UN or elsewhere. In fact many of the countries sitting around the UN Table are more concerned about figuring out how to get running water going in their cities, never mind fiber optic links to satellites.

So what's one to do? Tread lightly. And be somewhat thankful that the market place can only move so quickly.

And while federal and state government agencies try to catch up with the private sector (like that will ever happen), we can be delighted to know that our little village of West Hartford - from a technological standpoint - is far more advanced than most the the area towns in the region, but we should also be deeply dismayed to know that politically - our big government, high taxation, spendthrift practices are relics of repetitive and failed practices neither learned from or understood. And no technology can prevent us from our town council's failed, regressive economic schemes. No technology can prevent us from undoing ourselves.

Technology is neither going to save us or sink us. It's the fundamental understanding of economics and values that will ultimately win the day. But in West Hartford, we are certainly moving backwards on both fronts.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Evers on Joe Verrengia

Tom Evers has his latest article up at; another thoughtful commentary on Joe Verrengia : .

Tom Evers Technorati Profile

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Public Service Request....West Hartford needs you!

Let me take a few minutes out from my usual diatribe on this or that, I want to extend a challenge to the residents of West Hartford who are looking to get involved in the community in some way or another. There are a lot of great opportunities for residents to contribute to our first class community (other than politics - anyone can do that), and I'd like to ask that for those of you in good health who are active and sportsminded - that you please consider helping out as a coach, umpire, or referee in our West Harford recreational sports programs.

West Hartford can proudly boast that we are one of the most active sports communities in the entire State of Connecticut! But our young people need the support of the adults in the community to make their "field of dreams" come true.

Each year hundreds of kids participate in baseball, softball, and soccer (to name only a few), and there are just not enough officials and coaches to support the demand. And you don't have to be an expert in any sport, or have even played it to learn and become an official, or coach. We will train you! West Hartford is one of the few towns that will not only train you, but will also reimburse you for training (and for some sports even provide you a uniform) - as long as you keep your commitment to follow through with helping out in the sport that you take training in.

The work is very rewarding; you will know that you're doing something special to help the kids learn and grow . And remember, besides the positive general physical fitness aspects learned through playing sports, kids who grow up playing team sports learn the value of teamwork, confidence, competition, well being, and leadership - all skills that they will use for the remainder of their lives.

So what do you have to lose? Talk to the West Hartford Recreation Department (Leisure Services) about how you can help. You can make all the difference in the world to these young people! And keep in shape to boot!

Friday, May 18, 2007

West Hartford Needs a Super Stop & Shop (or Super Big Y)

If there's one thing that West Hartford lacks is a mega-sized grocery store that provides a consistent assortment of good quality products, and decent service at reasonable prices.

What West Hartford doesn't lack is quantity and variety of grocery stores: we have plenty of choices: Stop & Shop, Waldbaums, Shaw's, Wild Oats, Whole Foods, Crown Supermarket, and Hall's Supermarket. There are a few others in the nooks and crannies of West Hartford, but they tend to be mostly ethnic stores that carry specialty foods enjoyed by Russian, Slavic, and Middle Eastern members of the West Hartford Community.

I would trade the whole lot (except Whole Foods) for a one grand Super Stop & Shop, or Super Big Y like the one in neighboring Avon. Most of the grocery stores found in West Hartford are mini-versions of more successful, newer, mega-versions of each found in other communities.

If you're like I am, you quickly judge a grocery store by the first thing you see -- its produce. The second is the cleanliness of the store. And the third and forth are probably the prices and quality of meats. I have to admit that the best produce is generally found at Stop & Shop, and of all the stores that are general grocery stores in town; they tend to be the cleanest, but not by much. The meats are best of all of the general grocery stores except Hall's Market and Whole Foods - which I will get to at the end of this essay.

My big beef is that these miniature versions of grocery stores are often out of what you need, and sometimes you need to hit two of them during the week to complete your shopping. And since the stores are small, so are the sales. One week you might get a good price on chicken, but the rest of the products are no deal at all, if not overpriced. I think there is nothing more annoying to know that you can pull out the fliers on a Sunday morning and see that one store is offering good sales on some products and hosing the population on others. It's a damn conspiracy, I tell you! LOL.

The worst grocery store is in town is clearly Waldbaums. I was in on Friday, and its clear they are attempting to clean up their pathetic act by trying to restructure the store. But its long been recognized as a very dingy and dirty store - you can see the disgusting rust and wear on the floor if you go in during the restructure - its enough to make you walk out. Notwithstanding, the produce looks wilted, bruised, and overripe - like it just came out of a dirty warehouse, and the rest of the store is just plain dirty - everything from the shelves to the floors. I so much as told the manager that the store was a complete mess, one day just a few months ago. What could he say, he knew it was true. The only thing that keeps the place going is that it has a large Kosher selection and the Jewish population flocks there for that reason - I don't know how they feel about shopping in a dirty store, but that's their business, I suppose. I tend to go there when I need something quick. But I've left the store frustrated often by their lack of selection, and the ambivalent customer service you receive.

Shaw's isn't much better, and for some reason their prices just don't beat out the neighboring Hartford Super Stop & Shop. It doesn't make sense to shop at Shaw's if your one street away from the Hartford Stop & Shop where you can save about 20% on your shopping bill just for showing up. The only issue with the Hartford Stop & Shop is the uneasy feeling you get by seeing such a large police presence monitoring and watching everything. Grocery stores shouldn't need a police contingent, but that speaks to the problems they have and the nature of the immediate community. And please save sending me an email criticizing me about my view the cultural aspects of Hartford, the fact is - no grocery store in West Hartford has an arsenal of police like they require to protect grocery shoppers in Hartford.

I haven't said much about Hall's Market or Wild Oats and Whole Foods. Hall's is the small fry on the block but the meats are phenomenal - good grade and sell at very decent price. Sometimes I don't know how they can keep up with the demand. I go there when I want a really good steak for the grill. They have other sales too, but its a mom and pop shop that will require you to do the rest of your shopping elsewhere.
With the establishment of Whole Foods I've found that there isn't much reason to shop at Wild Oats any longer. Before Whole Foods came into being, we shopped frequently at Wild Oats, but generally for co-op style food (i.e. bulk cereals, ingredients, etc), and for health foods that couldn't be found at regular grocery stores. We also used to grab dinner there once a week. So why choose Whole Foods over Wild Oats? It basically comes to down the fact that Whole Foods offers better variety and outstanding options for take out style meals for a growing family on the move. I also like the good service that I receive at Whole Foods, the meal/meat counter people know me by name and are very friendly and helpful.

It's my understanding that Whole Foods has purchased Wild Oats. And for those who reside in that section of town, I'm sure there are some concerns about what will happen to the franchise and the building. Will it suffer the fate of Adams? A store we frequented often and was probably the best option in most categories until they closed their doors a few years ago.

This is particularly interesting side story since Wild Oats was once Cheese-N-Stuff which was located on Farmington Avenue. The pull out of Cheese-N-Stuff was a controversial story since it gave life to that area of Farmington Avenue and despite protests by neighborhood residents begging to have Cheese-N-Stuff stay - they opted to move to out to another location to expand their revenue stream. And now just a few years later, after losing the battle to Whole Foods, could see their doors close forever.

To some... the failure of Wild Oats is justice served. I really don't have any opinion on it one way or another. But I can say that clearly Whole Foods won me over by their quality and fabulous assortment. As for price, I'd say that Whole Foods and Wild Oats are comparable. Only a madman, rich man, or a health food nut would shop there for everything and skip out on the regular grocery stores all together. God Bless you if you do all of your shopping at "Whole Foods, Whole Paycheck" as its often fondly referred.

Crown Supermarket is small, and I've shopped there on a few occasions. It's really a place that targets the Jewish population, but you won't find any good reason to shop there unless you are keen to overpaying for your groceries.

Again, the underlying point here is that the small Stop & Shop, Shaw's, and Waldbaums really don't cut it for the demands of a large community like West Hartford. Busy West Hartfordites are looking for one place where you can get in and get out, get everything you need, and not feel like you've been ripped off at the register. West Hartford desperately needs a Super Stop & Shop or Super Big Y - perhaps that's something that the folks in the Elmwood section should push for to bring back some life to that area of town.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Baby Arrival Day story! Part 1: Getting to the Hospital

On Thursday I went off to a worksite just like it was any other day in the week. Knowing that we were passed the due date (Tuesday) meant that that the baby could come at any second... and I knew that because we had tempted fate (by cancelling the induction and deciding to go natural) that the baby would come at the most inopportune moment - like when I was on the treadmill at the gym sweating gumdrops, or something like that... something drama filled, of course.

10:30 a.m.: My wife calls me at work and says, I'm not feeling well. I'm going to go the doctor's office to get checked out. I asked, should I go with you or meet you there? She says, no, its probably just false labor and that they would probably just send her home.

So this is where my logical brain was right and my obeying the command to wait it out was wrong; logic and common sense got crossed up. I remembered from reading the pregnancy books that false labor was common. And so I bought into the whole false labor theory, and disregarded my better judgement which would have been to get moving toward West Hartford at about warp factor 5.

11:00 a.m.: I doddle in the office, checking email and reviewing audit documents for accuracy. Steady focus is lost on any task, as most seem irrelevant at this point (in my life), and my adrenaline level is beginning to rise.

11:15 a.m:. She calls again saying that she really is having contractions and that she thought that I should stay near the phone just in case. I really sensed that this could be it, so I decided that I would just get my stuff together and get ready to go.

I wandered into my bosses office and said, this could be it or false labor, but who knows, I'm going to start heading in that direction - and I may not be back. So I got into the car and began driving on Route 9 toward 84. The traffic was ridiculous and as it seemed - two dump trucks had decided to ride side by side in front of me on the highway at 40 mph. It was worse than annoying and slowed my pace considerably. And this was one of those times when you wanted people to just get the heck out of the way.

11:30 a.m.: The cell phone rings... Where are you? I'm about to go in and get checked. I respond - I'm on the highway behind two stupid dump trucks. On the way. Frustrational level rises because I cannot transport to her location like they do in Star Trek.

11:40 a.m.: Cell phone rings, and at this point I'm pissed and find a way to pass the two dump trucks serving as pace cars. I hate dump trucks! She yells, where the *BLEEP* are you? I need to get to the hospital now. I'm six and half centermeters dialated! I respond - at the New Britain exit, where are you... which doctor's office?

Ughh! I'm sure the question came across as probably one of the dumbest I've ever asked. But honestly, I had a brain freeze and simply couldn't remember which office she was at or where the hell it was. I just new it was in West Hartford, somewhere. She begins to tell me and clearly frustrated turned the phone over to the nurse, who started to give me directions. I somehow was confusing my daughter's pediatric care office with her OB office. Oh, God!

Finally, I must have frustrated both of them as I heard.... O.K., what exit are you at? I respond - near New Britain (and at this point I must have been driving 90 mph), to which I heard... O.K., we can't wait for you, she'll never make it on time. I'm driving her in to the hospital, just go to the hospital!

So, I switch gears thinking O.K. can I now get to the damn hospital or will I get lost on the way there too? But traffice was heavy from the I-84/Route 9 connector all the way to Hartford. But I used my NASCAR driving skills to navigate all of the lunatics on the road taking their time and deciding that they were the world's pace car. I really put my Subaru through hell, but it served me well. (Hey, don't most West Hartfordites drive Subi's anyway?).

I manage to get to the hospital and head for Hartford Hospital's valet parking. I wait, and wait, and wait. Finally, I hear this horn blaring over and over and I look out to see an SUV pull up in the emergency room area. It's my wife. Security gathers with a wheelchair and I run over and my wife yells for me to get my bags. I look over at the valet area, and my car is still running unattended. I get to the valet guy and say look take the keys, my wife is having a baby. He smiles and nods and I get my bags and bolt.

I haul back to my wife who is still yelling at me. Grab her bags and we are on the way up to the maternity floor. At that point, it was game on! The nurse brought us up to the admission area (I call it the paperwork area), but they said to her - oh, you're the lady that's six and half cm dialated right? Yes, we both responded. She said, we'll get to the paperwork later, come right in!

We were in!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Our new baby has arrived!

Our beautiful girl has arrived! And she's as perfect as a perfect baby could be. We are both feeling unbelievably blessed by such wonderful fortune - particularly that she's healthy. What more can one really hope for?

Well, it's been an exhausting few days, so I need to keep this short (and catch some winkeye). I've been traveling back and forth from home to hospital because our other daughter - the 22 month year who requires naps, meals and attention, and plenty of TLC.

There's plenty to detail about today's meeting between the sisters and I hope to relate more (when I can think straight).

For tonight, I can thank God for the miracle of our newborn baby. The blessings don't seem to stop - particularly when you tend to take them for granted.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

No baby, but the stars are aligned...

So as of this morning, we are about two days overdue as the "Baby Watch" continues...

As you know, I work with a significant number of Indian contractors, who are very interesting folks to work with (I probably should write a piece on that in itself - I will wait until after I attend the all day class my company has me scheduled for later this month at $500 a pop entitled "Working with India"), and several of them have recently had children over last year or so. Understanding the stress of the "waiting plight" for parents, one particular workmate sought to reassure me that everything is in good order and that the fact that the baby didn't come earlier than expected (or as thought) is actually a good thing. Apparently, I was told - last week was not a great week astrologically because "the stars were not bright enough", but this week and next week are great days. With days after this Sunday being the best.

I guess he and his friends had a situation last year, where they moved the induction dates for their babies arrival due to astrological warnings or star positions. I'm told this occurs frequently within the Indian culture. With all of this going on, it must create a logistical nightmare for hospitals in India on a regular basis. He did admit that the doctors do not think much of this practice, which I guess is a good thing since they deal with life and death where Ouija boards and crystal balls have no place - or at least better not if I ever end up over there laying on the operating table.

Well, I don't know much about astrology, and I have a hard time understanding what the scientific relevance of the brightness of stars, or their position in the sky relative to days of the year has to do with the birth of a child, but apparently in his world this has significant importance. Do children born on "bad days" have terrible lives? I guess so, he attributes birth defects to this happening. He tends to believe that Indians tend to look at this in retrospect - particularly when a child is born with a birth defect or breathing problem and astrological details suggest that a birth could have been postponed. Seems a bit like the reverse of Calvin's predestination. And sort of scary! Seems like adding guilt where none is required, and an excuse to ignore that its nothing more than statistical probability or perhaps even genetics.

Well, since in my case the stars are going to be shining brightly so I guess I'll just go with it. So we wait and wait, and can feel a sense of relief that last week was a crummy week to have a child and this week and next are just peachy.

Anything to keep the distractions from the anxiety of waiting! And no matter what we pray for a healthy baby no matter what the astrological consequences might be.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

My first time working the Center position....

They say a referee always remembers their first time in the Center referee position - and that's probably true! My first center role was this past Sunday when I reffed a U-12 girls recreation league game in West Hartford. To say that its an eye-opening experience on what refereeing is all about would be an understatement! But I have to say that it was a blast!

Rec leagues in most towns are meant to serve as a sort of "developmental league" for up and coming soccer players (and probably some parents send their kids there to blow off some excess energy.) But its also a good developmental league for new referees who are trying to get their feet wet (like moi), and can get a sense of what's its like to be in the center, make calls and run the game as an official.

Coming fresh off playing role as the assistant referee (AR) for an older kids travel game on Saturday (and my first observations of what a referee should do or ask at the pre-game) I probably confused some of the kids because I sort of went on what I had observed the day before from watching the Center ref go through the pre-game motions - probably reserved for higher level games. Remember, there is no "training" for this sort of thing - you just "do it".

During the pre-game activity - I learned that at this level there are no player cards to inspect, or roosters and numbers to compare and track for substitutions, and even the coach's weren't even sure of who the home team was. As with any soccer game I did my inspections for jewelry, and I had a fairly comical experience - a few of the girls were wearing metal jewelry that has to be removed based on general safety rules. One girl was wearing a large sharp metal hair clip with a fine point on it, when I told her that she had to remove it, she asked me why, and I replied, "oh that's metal, someone could get killed out there." The girls realized my exaggeration, started mimicking me and saying, "oh, killed, someone could get killed." I sort of laughed to myself realizing that these 12 year olds were having fun with me, and I probably smirked a bit as they taunted me using the word killed a dozen times. I had forgotten how sharp and creative twelve year olds can be. So I just stood there and took my medicine politely.

Another girl looked at me and asked me where she should put her necklace, and I quickly replied "give it to your coach for safe keeping." Oh course, her neckless probably wasn't much risk to anyone else, but the rules are the rules and she could have had it broken on the field through contact with another player or by falling - anyway.

To further illustrate the mindset of the kids and my initial lack of understanding of the league, when I went to do the coin toss, I asked the kids who was going to be the spokesman - this is usually a player appointed who communicates with the ref about aspects of the game like who will take a kick, or whether they want a wall pushed back or whatever. I instead received the question, "what's a spokesman?" I tried to explain it, but the players serving as captains, sort of tilted their heads in confusion (sort of like the RCA dog sitting over the phonograph) and I simply said, "never mind" and flipped the coin.

The rec league game really opened my eyes to a number of things that I need to do to sharpen my own ability on the field. First, let me say that all of my bragging about going to the gym at 5 am and exercising for 45 minutes at a clip, didn't do justice to the hard work required to keep up with the kids, running back and forth at full speed from goal to goal, zig-zagging to and fro to try and stay in the right position. On one hand I have to give myself credit for keeping up with the kids for two 30 minute periods, but on the other hand I realize that I have a long way to go fitness wise before I don't look like I'm dogging it out there.

And all in all, it seems that these soccer games are very well attended. There must have been about 50 people on the sidelines observing all of the action. It was very surprising, and perhaps a little intimidating - because after all - they all have eyes too!

On the more important front - the actually calling of the game, I found it more complicated than I ever expected. For one, observing the movement of the ball and players up close and letting your brain process what it thinks it saw when at the split second a ball goes out of bounds is somewhat challenging - was the ball deflected, and off of who? And its more complicated when almost every time, the kids look to you to tell them who's throw-in it is. I observed that in the older kids games, the kids tended to know who got the throw in, and I assume that comes with experience, sportsmanship, and just trying to get the game back underway. From my perspective, few calls go overturned in the older kids' games since the players tend to "get it right."

I also found that nearly every time even after a call was made, after the point when it was determined which team was awarded the throw-in or kick - the kids sought direction from their bench as to which player should take the throw in. There were some lags because of this and kids looked at me and I would have to tell them that someone should take the throw in so that we can get the game underway. A few times, I offered, "Why don't you throw it in number X". As it is only developmental in nature, I can see where the kids needed some direction, but I also think they should have some lattitude to play the game without direction for each and every throw in.

Also, I was somewhat handicapped by the fact that I had only one assistant referee, so I I had to haul my tail down to one quadrant because I didn't have an AR to watch out for offsides calls, and I had to be close enough to the action and lines in that quad in order to make out of bounds calls. This made my first center job doubly difficult because offsides can be a tough call from behind the players (which is why ARs (linesman) exist, and why in ref school ARs are told to stay glued to the second to last defender) because of the awkward angle in which the players can appear to the center ref.

So, as time goes on, I'll expect that I'll become much better at quickly confirming (in my mind) who the ball came off of. Another issue for my own development is to use the hand signals more regularly. I tended to confidently yell "orange penalty kick" or "grey throw-in" but didn't use the hand signals in conjunction with the calls to indicate direction as often I as I should have. This was partly because I don't think I had it fully locked in my mind as to which direction the grey team, for example, was attacking. So I knew who's ball it was, but simply didn't make the signal to indicate which direction that the return of play should go in. This is something I need to work on, as I later learned that the coach's were looking for more hand signals from me. I think I was more focused on making sure that my possession calls were accurate.

I'd also say, I could probably use more sporadic use of the whistle. In class, they told us not to use the whistle when it was obvious that the ball "went out of bounds". So I tended not to use the whistle as much as some other refs might. The constant blowing of the whistle tends to make players ear deaf to calls where the whistle needs to be heard. So I'm trying to give it the right balance.

I know I blew one call, and that was a throw in at the second minute of the game, where one of the girls might have come up a little with her foot during the throw in, but by the time I realized I hadn't blown the whistle, the game was 20 seconds underway past that point, so I let them continue. My AR noted the throw in was a bad one because he mentioned it to me at the half. I said, "yeah I know, I missed that one."

My sole AR was in his second game ever as a ref, so the two of us were newbies and in one respect that was tough because you never know what you are going to get from such a young kid, but on the other - at least he wasn't a veteran picking up on every mistake I could have been making out there. He did a good job, although at times he was waving his flag around - NASCAR style - probably out of boredom. But he's going to be good, he was focused and was having fun with it.

At about the 6 minute mark, a defensive player pushed down an attacking player in the penalty area. Since advantage changed to the girl who did the pushing, I immediately blew my whistle and awarded a penalty kick for the aggression. Now, should I have issued a yellow card? I still think about it, and perhaps I should have, but then again I didn't want to go crazy with issuing cards - and only six minutes into my first game! Instead I looked at the offending player and said out loud, "penalty kick, you cannot push someone down on the field." The kick was taken and no goal was recorded. But I think me making the call helped with the game because the aggressive pushing stopped after that point, and I think I awarded only a few additional direct kicks for minor fouls during the remainder of the game.

Enjoying all of this, my wife came by with my daughter and snapped several pictures of me (actually shown above) "in action". This is sort of funny because I was so concentrated on the game, that although they had been standing on the sidelines watching me for twenty minutes, I didn't see them until about 2 minutes to the half - and I only saw them by chance because I heard a little girl crying, and I looked outward during a stoppage of play to see them both standing there. My daughter wanted to apparently bring me a dandelion that she had picked on the grounds and was upset that she could come and bring it to me.

At the end of the game, I added two minutes of stoppage time for delays - and all in all, I looked forward to blowing the whistle three times to signal the end of the game (grey team had won 3-0 in what was a little bit of a lopsided game). There was a feeling of relief that my first game had come to a close, but also a small feeling of accomplishment that I had gone over the hump and had my completed my first experience without being chased off the field by coaches or parents. (And particularly parents - most certainly after what I reported in this blog about Saturday's game where a few people were a little more than rude throughout the game, openly criticizing and demeaning the center ref, and causing a ruckus). Thank God, I had avoided all of that!

Risking all, I asked for feedback from the coaches (I didn't tell either coach this was my first game) and the winning coach said I did a good job , he only disagreed with one throw-in call I made but other than that he was complimentary. The other coach was only critical of my lack of hand signals, which as mentioned I need to focus on a little more in my next game. I thanked him for his feedback and agreed with him. He seemed a little annoyed that his team had lost, but I think that's just "being a coach". Hey, I feel the same way about losing. I'm just glad that the game wasn't lost or won on any of my calls.
And lastly, boy that bengay sure comes in handy. Monday was one tough day as I recovered from two days of vigorous exercise on the field!
All in all, it was a great experience! And I look forward to many more games so I can work on my referring proficency and enjoy "the beautiful game" from the best view on the field.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Sunday morning rant: biding the time as we wait for number two to arrive, and my first Referee report!

This expects to be a big week, with "number two" expected to arrive this week. But thoughts are now that with the due date of Tuesday, May 8th just on the horizon, that it could certainly go beyond anything that we might have had planned. We expected to go in on Tuesday, and by the doctors' initial thoughts, we scheduled the 8th as our "go-date". But after a visit with the doc this past week, we are opting to go natural, and let our little one come when its ready. Planning is always easier with a second child, but we are opting skipping induction and going for the full drama.

So as I expect the call at the most inopportune moment, I'll keep the car gased, cell phone fully charged, and ringer on full blast!

Notwithstanding the wait for the imminent arrival of number two, and on the orders of the spousal-unit, I kept myself busy! My lawn received its first trimming and cut yesterday, and I'm feeling the pain involved in deep knee bends, weeding, digging and trimming everything to death. And I bought a new "power tool" yesterday - a hedgehog. It's true what they say about power tools and guys - power tools are awesome! And now I know how Edward Sissorhands felt. Man! (Speaking of which - see the new adaptation stage show about Edward Sissorhands here.)

Yesterday, I also ref'd a game for the U-14 girls. Boy, one thing is for sure - the parents can be relentless. And when you play the role of assistant referee (formally referred to as "linesman") you get to hear the commentary up close and personal. So yesterday, I had this parent sitting in a lawn chair my quadrant (I reffed as Assistant Referee 2 [AR2] - opposite side of the team benches (aka the "technical area"). You know the type - loud, large, opinionated, critical - and what was worse was that he was an annoying Yankee fan (could tell by his hat). All the characteristics of "trouble".

During the game, he became very critical of the center referee over a few calls that might have been otherwise deemed fouls had they not be ignored in lieu of "advantage" for the team that maintained possession and was quickly moving the ball up field. The parent continued to make critical remarks after two close plays, and finally the center referee warned him, and told him that if it continued, he would removed from the spectator area.

I also had to turn to the spectator twice, and asked him to refrain from criticism. And it wasn't just talking, it was meant to detract from the game, and get other spectators worked up. Some of the banter is just that... but it was rude of him to make fun of the Center Ref's age and make comments that were downright derogatory. I told him "please not criticize the refs", of course he was so smart - he replied "oh, I'm just talking to myself.".

But I guess this is what you can expect. Other than that, I had a good game. I made a few offsides calls, and one was ignored by the Center Ref, which prompted our friendly spectator to offer further criticism of the Center - which he did by calling someone on his cell phone to tell the story of what he'd seen, but all in all - it was a good game - well played, and with no cards issued.
I think this "reffing business" is certainly the kind of thing where you improve over time. There is so much to monitor during a soccer game simply because the action is in constant flow with 22 players all doing their own thing across an enormous playing area, and lots of rules to enforce about so many things. It was a good first experience which I came away fully satisfied with, and I look forward to more games.

Today I will be taking on the role of Center Referee. I can only help that my brain and eyes are working properly and that I make the right calls. God help the kids, and God help me!

And for those who were looking for a follow up comment on yesterday's EPL action: As I had hoped, West Ham defeated Bolton 3-1, and Wigan fell to Middlesborough 1-0. Karma is coming back to haunt Wigan for trying to push West Ham down to relegation through legal action instead of through hard work and winning games. Keep in up West Ham! Today you sit at Number 17. Next week, you need to keep the pressure on!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Pulling for West Ham! And EPL league analysis heading into this weekend's action!

As English Premier League play draws to a close, we have to pull for the West Ham United "Hammers" as they attempt to escape the relegation zone. As of this writing West Ham is hanging in at the number 18 spot with 35 points and only two games to go (Wigan also has 35 points but leads because of other stats that define rankings).

Why pull for West Ham? West Ham has been a forerunner for the EPL for years, and at the onset of this season, West Ham seemed like they would have a promising season; they handed Arsenal a loss that no one expected on Sunday, November 5th, but immediately after that point West Ham only managed to win one more game out of their next 20 games (defeating only Sheffield United on Saturday, November 25th). So with West Ham either losing or drawing week after week until they managed a win against Middlesborough on March 31st - it seemed that the team was simply bound for the relegation express.

West Ham improved in April winning three out of five games including consecutive victories over the past two weeks. But as the world wondered, would a last minute effort by last years' former FA Cup contenders be enough to pull them out of the basement? Would it be enough to save them from Coca-Cola land? That answer is still up in the air.

West Ham has also been in the news regarding irregularities involving the signing of Carlos Terez and certain clauses within a four year deal that allowed a third party Kia Joorabchian direct influence over West Ham. The FA ended up fining West Ham a record $5.5 million. Initially it was thought that the FA would have also deducted 10 points from West Ham which would have doomed them to relegation, considering their current ranking. Wigan and other relegation teams have threatened legal suits to attempt to get the 10 point subtraction imposed. This is yet another reason why we MUST ALL PULL for West Ham. How weak is it for a rival relegation bound team to threaten legal action instead of trying to beat out West Ham by winning their way to security? It's damn pathetic!

With Carlos Tevez now playing for West Ham, its possible that the Hammers have a fighting chance to beat relegation. But let's not kid ourselves, the road to beating relegation is paved in blood, sweat and war - with final two two games of the season scheduled against top EPL teams - Bolton and Manchester United. If West Ham beat these teams, then they deserve a place in the 2007-2008 Premiership.

The battle against the fifth place Bolton Wanderers tomorrow (Saturday 10 am EST) will be no walk. Bolton is hell bent on knocking off their rival, Arsenal, for a slot in Champions League play (CL spots are reserved for only the finishing top four teams), and at a minimum, hold onto their spot in European UEFA cup action (reserved for the top six finishing teams).

Naturally, finishes depend on how the other teams in and outside of relegation fair. The schedule breakdown and analysis is as follows:

20th place Watford is headed to relegation because they have 24 points and even two victories would not pull them free of relegation.

19th place Charlton Athletic has 33 points, but must play a red hot 9th place Tottenham Spurs this weekend and 3rd place Liverpool on May 13th.

17th place Wigan must play 14th place Middlesborough tomorrow, and 15th place Sheffield United next weekend. Wigan has the easiest road, but Middlesborough is no walk having recently held Manchester United to a draw in the FA Cup - and nearly pulling out an upset. Wigan has also lost its last two games, including their last game to rival West Ham by a lost of 3 - 0. If Wigan fails to win, they could give West Ham an even chance even if West Ham draws.

16th place Fulham has 36 points and have lost and draw in their past two games; the "Cottagers" must face a red hot 3rd place Liverpool team this weekend, and then must play 14th place Middlesborough.

15th place Sheffield United is in at 38 points, and must face 11th place Aston Villa, who have drawn and lost in their last two games. The Blades then go on to face 17th place Wigan next week.

14th place Middlesborough, already mentioned above stands with 40 points and plays Wigan this week and Fulham next week.

Manchester City (13th place) and Newcastle United (12th place) seem assured of safety, but will finish out in the bottom half of the league with little to be proud of except avoiding relegation and clinging to survivial. Hanging out near the bottom makes you a target the next time around and doesn't do much for club enthusiasm particularly when both teams sit with 42 points.

So I think we have it. Let's hope West Ham finds six points, and pray Wigan loses this weekend and next. Soccer schedules can be tricky things, the answer lies in not putting yourself in a position where you are counting your points, and others at the end of the season.

Go West Ham!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Episcopal Church: Is it becoming a safe haven for gay activists?

Unhappy with simply going away after shamefully embarrassing the State of New Jersey and his family back in 2004, it's been reported that former NJ Governor James E. McGreevey, the man who engaged in a same-sex affair while serving as NJ's governor, is seeking a possible new career-- in the Episcopal Church as a priest (or pastor). McGreevey, who is a member of St. Bartholomew’s (Episcopal) Church in Manhattan is actively involved in the Episcopal Church's discernment process, which is the step prior to entry into seminary.

The Episcopal Church continues to be a attraction for gay activists, particularly since the consecration in New Hampshire of open homosexual, Gene Robinson, to the leadership post of Bishop. McGreevey, a former Roman Catholic recently turned to the Episcopal Church, noting the ECUSA's open stance toward gays and revisionist doctrine which dismisses traditional Biblical teachings that homosexuality is a sin in defiance of God's word.

As I've stated in columns before, the trend of this sort of thing is yet another black eye on the Episcopal Church in the United States. What other denomination would put gay activism and liberalism ahead of traditional moral doctrine and Christ's teachings? Only the Episcopal Church, it seems, would consider a morally corrupt creep like McGreevey, who damaged his own family and resigned in disgrace as someone who is worth adding to their ranks.
Here is another good article on the matter at David Virtue online with some great quotes on the matter of why such characters are flocking to the Episcopal Church for safe haven.
It's becoming increasingly apparent that the Episcopal Church has decided to take a new direction, going beyond opening its doors to morally bankrupt homosexual activists to now -- promoting these characters as leaders of the church. It's beyond disgraceful, its sickening. And the Church's leaders don't seem to care that they are losing conservative or mainstream members in the midst of its morality crisis. It's more reason to hope that the Anglican schism come soon, and parishioners will have a choice between the immoral ECUSA and the Anglican Communion.
And as the crisis widens, it's hopeful that a new American Anglican Church, in full communion with Canterbury, will arise in America - leaving behind an eroding, defunct, now new age Episcopal Church and its left wing activists to ash heap in time. And one day all of this will be a time honored lesson that some things are sacred, and those who try to tamper with the Scripture and God's Church will fall in disgrace, and face eternal torment.

Ready to burst! Baby watch is on!

Yep, we are getting close. Closer than ever.

It's still hard to imagine that the target date is May 8th. I keep having reoccurring dreams that I have to rush her to the hospital, and of course - this means me rushing from work and traveling 20 miles to make this happen, and then trying to figure out where to bring my daughter.

To pass the time, last night we did some meal stockpiling by hitting Trader Joe's. If you haven't been to Trader Joe's - well I recommend taking a look at some of the prepared meals that they have, and their prices are pretty good on general items. It's one of those places that you probably wouldn't shop at every week, but once in a while its a welcome change of pace to regular grocery stores - particularly in West Hartford - where the grocery stores really are incredibly mediocre. We have a Waldbaums - which is a dirty pit, and a regular Stop & Shop that is too small to be useful to a large community. We used to have an Adams, which was pretty good, but that closed down a few years ago. And there is a Big Y, but its in a shaddy part of town. Plenty of choices, but the only thing that West Hartford is really missing is a Super Stop & Shop.

But back to the the baby watch...

For some reason, we've been avoiding all discussion of the baby's name. This is either because we are convinced that we have the name down, or my wife is going to "pearl harbor" me with a name when the young one arrives. I hope its the former and not the latter.

I'm sure whatever we pick will fit nicely, and years from now we won't be hated for picking a "weird" name. That much I'm certain of.

And most of the projects that need to be done to "get ready" are complete. Now we are just waiting for the little one to arrive! So the question is -- when?!

Also, a sad note - Manchester United lost yesterday to A.C. Milan. This is really unfortunate to see a mediocre team like Milan advance, and a spectacular team like United to loose out - and to lose by such a large margin. We now look forward to the Champions League final between Liverpool and Milan which will be play in a couple of weeks.

Liverpool is the odds on favorite to win, securing for them the title "Champions of Europe" once again. Go Liverpool!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Rosie booted!

A few weeks ago, this writer called for ABC's The View to boot Rosie O'Donnell.

Well, it looks as though "her largeness" is getting the boot. Apparently, her little rant at the Matrix awards last month embarrassed the Disney Company and was probably the straw that broke the camel's back. Rosie made off color remarks that didn't fit in at the Woman's Communication Conference.

The spin going around promulgated by Rosie and her lacky, Barbara Walters, is that they couldn't come to terms on Rosie's contract, but we all know that just smoke and mirrors so Rosie can save face publically. Expect the truth that ABC nor Disney didn't want Rosie around and they found a "nice way" to get her out.

The folks at the site with the petition to fire Rosie also deserve credit in this regard. Nice job guys (and gals)!

And Kudos to Donald Trump for his prediction that Rosie would be thown overboard by ABC and Disney, and for his standing up to her over the last six months.

Everyone should expect that Rosie's liberal friends and large network of socialist-minded thinkers will bail her out and find her a new spot somewhere - perhaps as rumors suggest - at CBS. She will probably increase the ratings of any failing show at the onset, but sponsors and networks will have to deal with the uproar and revenue loss due to Rosie's outrageous opinions - most notably, her calling President Bush a traitor, and conspiracy theories about 9/11 being orchestrated by the US Government, and her comments that the hostage situation in Iran last month was nothing more than a US-British instigation aimed at starting a war with Iran.

This kind of baloney is what will be the downfall of the next network that picks up left-wing activist Rosie.