Showing posts from 2011

Early white stuff leads to lengthy blackout

All of our "modern conveniences" (heat, light, water, and other luxuries) have been restored, but we had a difficult time last week. A freak snowstorm dumped about 14 inches of snow here in New Milford, CT, and was similarly brutal across much of southern New England and portions of New York. Coming, as it did, on October 29, the falling wet snow encountered many trees full of brightly colored leaves. The added weight to tree limbs caused all sorts of destruction - toppled trees, broken branches, snapped powerlines, blocked roadways. And about 102 hours of cold, quiet, darkness at the Hunt home. We used melted snow to flush the toilets, candles and flashlights to see at night, and the propane grill to cook. We huddled in the basement for warmth at night - nighttime temperatures outside were well below freezing, inside reached into the forties. Though somewhat creepy, the basement was nice and warm. Our power company, CL&P, has a great deal to answer for. Still reeling fro

P.O. closings may be right move

I read the linked article ( ) with interest. It is about the proposed closure of a few thousand of the United States Postal Service's offices around the country and ALL the many reasons for keeping the doors open despite the USPS's dismal financial outlook. Having a personal affinity for outdated concepts (as I realize I will eventually become one, if I have not already), I do hate the idea of local post offices closing. But... just a few observations: There are about 32,000 post offices in the U.S. right now. But there are an estimated 20,000 municipalities - all sizes - in the country. Isn't that overkill? I'm sure some municipalities require more than one post office simply to deal with volume, but what about the Alaskan coastal tribal village of Wales, population 162? It has two post offices for those 162 people. Surely, even if every single man, woman and child in the community went to just on

Survived Irene

We're fine. Irene dumped a lot of water across Connecticut and caused power outages throughout much of the state, but she didn't effect our household much. We lost cable TV briefly a couple of times. And there was a power flicker or two. Getting in and out of town became difficult due to the flooding, road washouts and downed trees, and at one point New Milford was effectively an island. But many other communities were hurt much worse.

Here she comes

Hurricane Irene is slowly closing in on North Carolina. She is still a few hundred miles out, but the Carolina coast is already feeling her waves and winds. Things are going to get much, much worse out there over the next day or so. Immediately after that, things are going to much, much worse around here in the greater New York area. New York City has been right in the middle of the hurricane's "cone of unpredictability" since early on. Current projections call for the hurricane to pass right over New York and into western Connecticut. At this point, we expect significant flooding throughout the region. On approach, Irene's winds will likely force a great deal of extra seawater into the funnel of Long Island Sound. That plus a foot of rain could be bad news for coastal areas. Many are also likely to lose electricity as a result of the storm. CNN anticipates that as many as a half million will be without power for up to a week. It could possibly be worse than that. Al

Brackman still impresses

Just acquired a copy of The Other Nuremberg by Arnold C. Brackman. I don't know why it took me so long to get the book, which was released back in the mid-1980s. I suppose I was a little spooked by the fact that the manuscript was completed during the time I was Arnold Brackman's journalism student at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. He died just after finishing it. Mr. Brackman was a dynamic and passionate teacher. He was physically small but had a presence that commanded attention and respect. I recall his gray, carelessly combed hair, his bright blue eyes, and his crooked fingers, flattened at the ends, likely from years of "hammering" news stories out of manual typewriters. I recall his preference for Foster's lager (I scrupulously avoid the beverage, waiting for an appropriate moment) and for watching baseball but nothing else on television. And I remember a scarf-like thing, with small pockets in the ends, that he wore on cold winter days. Mr

Irene's coming for a visit

Looks like Hurricane Irene will be Tropical Storm Irene when she collides with Connecticut sometime on Sunday. (Perhaps the kids will have a "tropical storm day" instead of their first day of school on Monday.) The storm is currently sweeping up from the Bahamas. The "cone of uncertainty" - the collection of possible paths the storm will take - sweeps up the east coast of the United States. At this moment, Connecticut sits right in the center of the cone, meaning we're likely to experience heavy rains and strong winds no matter what course Irene finally decides. This image from NOAA is a look at how winds are expected to pick up over the next few days. It calls for tropical storm-level winds here in Connecticut.

What quake?

We had an earthquake, and I missed it. Near as I can figure it, the three kids and I were sitting in our car in the New Milford Stop & Shop parking lot (finishing our late McD's lunch before shopping), when the earthquake hit. I first heard about it when we entered the store. People were huddled here and there, commenting about how strong the vibrations were. I did not join in the conversations because I felt nothing. The kids felt nothing. Could be that my three teens were bouncing the car around so much while they shook in time with the music of their private iPods that it was impossible to note the earth's rumbling crust. I've embedded a neat little widget that tells the reported intensity of the earthquake at any given ZIP code. Despite the fact that I reported feeling nothing at all, the widget says New Milford experienced something on the order of a 2.9 quake.

What I thought I heard from GOP debate

I wasn't taking notes, so I may be just a bit off on some of my quotes. But this is what I believe I heard at the last debate of GOP Presidential hopefuls. Bachmann: I'm more conservative than you are. Pawlenty: Nuh uh. Bachmann: Uh huh. Pawlenty: No way. Bachmann: Yes way. Pawlenty: I'm so conservative that I don't care if poor people have health care. Romney: Well, I've never cared about the disadvantaged either. Pawlenty: Oh yeah? Romney-care, Romney-care. Romney: Real mature! Cain, Pawlenty, Bachmann, Huntsman, Gingrich and most of audience: Romneycare, Romneycare. Romney: [sniffle] Questioner: Mr. Gingrich, how come your campaign sucks so bad? Gingrich: No fair asking "Gotcha" questions! Santorum: I'm so conservative that, when I'm president, I will see to it that we return to colonial status in the British Empire. Huntsman: I'm so conservative that I believe taking money away from pub

Occupational hazard

You probably couldn't tell just by looking at me [roll eyes], but I have put on a few pounds since writing has become my occupation. This appears to be a natural development - an occupational hazard. I've noticed that the act of writing has peculiar effects on the human body. It makes one hungry without burning a great many calories and makes one tired without the benefit of exercise. This wasn't always the case. I recall that the use of manual typewriters years ago was superb aerobic exercise (particularly for the left arm that was forever slapping the carriage return lever). And, if you ever had to move your writing device, it could qualify as weight-training as well. Pushing the buttons on feather-light keyboards just doesn't have the same effect. I've heard of one "green" option that might help writers keep slim. It involves hooking an electrical generator up to a treadmill or stationary bike and then plugging a notebook PC into the generator.

It's safe; just ask the kid with the cast

Had a conversation with my kids about the safety of trampolines. One of them referred to a friend who had a trampoline and insisted that they were safe. "Which friend is that?" I asked. "You know, the one with the big cast on his arm," was the answer. It was a humorous moment. But to parents the situation is far from funny. According to a CBS News story this year, in 2009 there were 98,000 trampoline injuries so severe that they required Emergency Room treatment. Eighty-two percent of those injuries were to children under the age of 15. Manufacturers have made some efforts to keep children from falling off the devices and from coming in violent contact with the hard metal frames. We've all seen the padding and the nets that have been added to trampolines. Strangely, manufacturers often sell the things without these safety features. Even when trampolines are equipped with these safety measures, the pads and nets can easily be removed. It is also importa

USPS racket

I'm starting to think we need to bring a class action suit against the USPS for its blatant refusal to acknowledge the existence of low-cost Parcel Post and Media Mail shipping methods. If you doubt the need for this action, check on the problem yourself: Bring a package to your local post office and ask to ship it the cheapest way possible. You will be given a number of choices, none of which are as cheap as Parcel Post or Media Mail. Even if you know about these methods of mailing AND specifically request them, postal clerks will do their best to talk you out of them. Here is a recent conversation I had with a postal clerk: "I'd like to send this package by Media Mail." "What's in it?" "It's a book, and I'd like to send it Media Mail." "If there's anything other than a book inside..." "There's isn't. It's just a book. You can feel the book through the package, see?" "Because we hav

Taxing churches

As we're tightening our government-budget belts, it might be a good time to consider the money that would flow into municipal, state and federal coffers by removing the various tax exemptions from churches and similar organizations. These businesses pay no taxes on income or property, providing they do not engage themselves in political activity. Obviously, many DO engage in political activity. One church's whole reason for being seems to be to protest against the national agenda by picketing the funerals of fallen American service men and women. Another large church has for many years opposed political candidates based upon their views on the legality of abortion. That same venerable institution recently took a stand against the New York State Legislature's approval of same-sex marriage. So, the idea that churches have only other-worldly concerns is entirely a myth. On this grounds alone, the tax exemptions should be canceled, but no one in the government appears to be tak

Captain America

I hear that a movie about Captain America is due to open soon. I have to admit that I have always considered Captain America a bit of a national embarrassment. The guy's only weapon is a shield, and he doesn't even seem to know what it's for. Other superheroes have all sorts of nifty weapons and powers. Even Captain Canada occasionally wields a broken beer bottle - Molson, I believe. And I hear Captain Antarctica has a mobile penguin launcher that does all sorts of damage. Captain America doesn't even have a utility belt. How can you expect to be a superhero with just a shield and no utility belt? I've always felt that Thor was pretty lame as a superhero. But at least he's equipped with a hammer. When he's not clubbing criminals with it, he can use it on odd jobs around the house and can also make some pretty big holes in stuff. (The whole flying gimmick, in which he supposedly throws the hammer and then quickly grabs the handle to be carried along with

Ticked off at Amazon

In order to avoid paying sales taxes under Connecticut's new law, Amazon has severed its business relationships with all CT-based web associates. That means Amazon will no longer pay us the small referral fees we used to receive when our websites drove customers to the bookseller. For me, referral fees never amounted to a huge amount of money. (Though Amazon made tens of thousands of dollars from my web visitors each year.) But they did help make my various websites viable. I will likely be joining Barnes and Noble as an associate in the near future in an effort to make up the lost revenue. Very discouraging.

Re-reading Hawking

Had a few minutes of spare time recently and used them to go back over some of Stephen Hawking's works. I was re-reading the very basic descriptions of the relativity principles. While a lot of the subject is still challenging, I feel like I am least able to identify some of my own mental block. The notion of Time as variable just doesn't fit with human experience. I mean, it may make sense in the mathematical equations, but it is as unimaginable for me as additional dimensions of space. I suppose it could be easier to accept Time as a variable and Velocity (of light) as a constant if velocity was not always expressed in terms based upon time units. Maybe we should refer to all velocities in relation to the light speed constant and leave off the "per hour" part of the description.

Mafia forum sets new record

The American Mafia discussion group I moderate hit a new record for message posts last month. During the month of May, 347 new posts appeared on the group. The previous record was 237 posts, set back in April 2009. The group now has more than 100 members. Recent discussion topics have included Joseph Bonanno's kidnapping, the 1928 murder of boss of bosses Salvatore D'Aquila, the Castellammarese War, and Allessandro Vollero's warning to Joe Valachi. The discussion group is hosted by Yahoo! and can be accessed at this web address:

New mob history website

I've been spending some time lately designing a website to supplement the book Mike Tona and I are completing. The site and the book ( DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime ) will contain information on the Mafia in western New York. Some of the site skeleton is in place and can be viewed at these web addresses: , . Initially, the most eye-catching aspect of the site probably will be the horizontal "crawler" of mugshots across the top of the main entrance page. The crawler, based on a design by John Davenport Scheuer, will allow visitors to link to biographies of mob figures by clicking on mugshots. If anyone decides to take a look at the fledgling website and would like to provide feedback, comments can be added to this post or emailed to

Twain and Christian Science

Some recent Facebook posts prompted me to read through Mark Twain's assessment of Christian Science. Twain was at his sarcastic best in the opening of the book. He relates a tale, in which he was horribly hurt during a fall from a mountain ledge and required medical care for broken bones. Unfortunately, the only healthcare workers in the area were a horse-doctor and a Christian Science healer. He opts for the latter and begins receiving treatment for his fractures remotely. When the healer visits her patient the next day, the two enter into a wonderful conversation about reality and illusion. You can download the book to your Amazon Kindle for free.

First post

While I publish other blogs relating to specific projects, it seems a good idea to have a more general online site that deals with all that work and with other projects that may be of some interest. At this point, I honestly have no idea how busy the "generic" Tom Hunt blog will be. We'll see.