• Category Archives A F.O.O.L. In New Hampshire
  • Off Year Elections

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    It’s Almost Election Day!!
    What did you say?
    Election Day?
    No Way!
    But it’s true.
    This is what is called an “off year” election. I believe they call it that because, unlike other years, everything about it is a little “off”. It’s not quite normal. At least what we have come to consider normal as far as elections go.
    Unless you live in certain areas, you won’t even realize it is almost Election Day. There won’t be the daily delivery of oversized political mailers that tell you how bad the other candidates are.
    You won’t be bothered by smiley, enthusiastic (and soon to be disappointed), young campaign workers who will come to your door and try to persuade you to vote for their candidate.
    You won’t have your favorite commercials about your favorite pharmaceutical be displaced by one ad after another for someone or the other who is running for something.
    It will almost seem normal, like nothing is happening. As if there is nothing to worry about.
    But don’t be fooled.
    There just still might be an election going on in your town or city that you don’t even know about.
    It might for your local school board, or for your city council or even a ballot question about something or other that one day suddenly has an effect in your town and you say: “Hey, when in the heck did this happen?” or “How in the heck did he become a city councilor? No one asked me” only to be embarrassed to find out that there was an election and you didn’t know anything about it. Continue reading  Post ID 3052


  • Life Goes On

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    Some columns are difficult to write.
    Two weeks ago, my wife, Kim, and I took a trip to the neighborhood I grew up in on Long Island, New York.
    It wasn’t a trip we had planned, but we were expecting to take it soon all the same.
    You see, my mom passed away after being ill for awhile. Though no one in our family had lived in that town for many years, including mom, it was her wish to have her funeral there.
    No matter how well mentally prepared you think you are for the imminent death of a loved one, when the time arrives, you realize you aren’t prepared at all.
    People ask “How old was your mom?” When I say she was ninety-three there are the “Well, she lived a good life” responses. And she did live a great life. Still, she was an important constant and stable influence through my own sixty-one years of life.
    It is very sad, no matter what age.

    My mom, Gloria Smith, in the 1960s.

    Of course, traveling back to Long Island after living here in Central New Hampshire for the last thirty-two years was as expected. There was traffic everywhere. There was even a traffic jam at the cemetery.
    Before the day of the funeral I got the chance to take Kim around to show her some of the places that were part of my stories about my childhood. We even took a drive to see the house where I grew up; the place where my mom always was waiting with a smile when I came home from grammar school, which was only a few blocks away.
    The Catholic Church we attended as a family was right next to the school. It was where my mom wanted her service. I hadn’t been up its many stone steps and into its grand hall since my Dad had passed away in 1981.
    The service was beautiful and my niece gave a wonderful eulogy that, in just a few minutes, summed up perfectly the essence of who my mom was: a caring and unselfish person whose greatest happiness was her own family.
    All of us, my three brothers, two sisters and myself, had said our goodbyes to mom just the week before as she lay breathing her last breaths in a nursing home. Now here we were, all gathered together, just a few days later, to say one more goodbye. All of her kids in one place, twice in one week. She would have loved that.
    The trip to the cemetery, nine or so cars, blinkers flashing, following behind the hearse which was wending its way along the never-ending curves of the Southern State Parkway, had its New York moments. A couple of impatient drivers trying to wend their way through our memorial procession that wasn’t moving quite fast enough to their liking. Some humans will just never understand certain things.
    The cemetery was not only massive with thousands of gravesites, but was also very busy as there were numerous other burials that morning. As I mentioned before, we were stuck there in a traffic jam. Still, there was no honking of horns or rude gestures. We were all together in the same mindset of what is truly important at times like these.
    My mom was to be buried with my dad and as we drove to the familiar spot at the cemetery that I hadn’t been to in years, the sunshine we were enjoying began to be overtaken by ominous looking clouds. There was still time for the final prayers and goodbyes before the imminent rain moved in.
    Still, we sat in our cars and waited. We had no choice.
    Nothing could be done until the crew of union cemetery workers arrived and moved the casket from the hearse to the gravesite. Even with more than enough able bodies in our group to do the deed, we could do nothing but sit and wait until the crew arrived about fifteen minutes later to do their one minute of work.
    By now cold rain was falling at a good clip and my anger was rising at the situation.
    But my anger quickly gave way to sadness again as we gathered around mom’s casket for final prayers. I couldn’t feel the cold rain as much as I felt the warm tears against my face.
    As everyone began the procession from the cemetery, I waited behind for a few extra seconds. Watching the rain falling on mom’s casket, hoping she was okay. Hoping she wasn’t feeling alone. But I knew better. She wasn’t really in that box, she was already with other loved ones who had passed. I know she was welcomed with open arms.
    None of us will ever know what the minutes of our final send-off will bring; what the weather will be like. Who will be around to say goodbye. We have no control over that. But we can control the way we live, the way we act, the happiness we can bring to others while we are here. The memories we leave for the living who must carry on regardless. Those things are what really count when all is said and done.
    Well done, Mom!
    Back here in New Hampshire, things are just a little different now for me. If you know me, you might not notice it. A memory will bring a sudden tear or a smile.
    Life goes on.


  • You Might Not Like This

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    It seems like everybody is angry about something nowadays.
    Either a few people are on television yelling back and forth about something or other or there are crowds of folks marching down avenues and boulevards holding signs protesting this or that.
    Even on the Internet, on so-called “social” media sites like Facebook and Twitter, no one is being very social. Some people are risking carpal tunnel syndrome just to belabor a point of view about something they aren’t pleased about to a bunch of other potential carpal tunnel victims who will never agree with them no matter how clever they think they are.
    Many of us have been there, myself included.
    People arguing with each other about something or other or this and that has been going on since the beginning of time. It’s just that nowadays, I feel, we quickly jump into the argument because it is so much easier.
    I’m sure the cavemen thought carefully about their response to a disagreement. After all, sketching your reply on cave walls with dull instruments took time. A response was a thoughtful process.
    Back in the days before the telegraph, it took days and weeks for responses to an argument to travel back and forth between two parties. You wanted to deeply reflect on your reply before you put pen to paper.
    Today, no one thinks for more than a few seconds before responding to someone with a point of view different than theirs. You can get into dozens of arguments before breakfast.
    All of this has forced, in my opinion, a lot of knee jerk reactions to things that quickly escalate as tens of thousands of people can join in the argument in a matter of minutes. Many of these arguments are not long-lived as today’s short attention spans have people forgetting what they were mad about in the morning since it has already been replaced by a new outrage by lunchtime.
    Yes, some outrages last a little longer, depending on how much news coverage they generate. The more coverage, the more people who become outraged.
    There is never a lack of things to protest. If you wait long enough, one will appeal to you.
    It seems that more people are spending their time and energy following the crowd in the latest protests than following their own passion; the thing they were born to do. Individualism seems to be fading and that’s sad.
    The latest trend in outrage has to do with holidays. The “cause of the moment” has some wanting to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People Day.
    It has already happened in some places.
    It seems some folks don’t like some things that Columbus did. He has become offensive to the protestors who have themselves lived perfect, unsullied lives.
    It’s not the first, nor will it be the last, hypocritical stone that will be cast in this mad, mad world of political correctness.
    As one thing must lead to another, soon people will be taking to the streets in order to protest to eliminate other holidays or to add new ones.
    Maybe the next stop will be banning Thanksgiving. After all, the pilgrims must have done some things that weren’t so nice. It’s time to shut that one down as well. Labor Day? Isn’t that offensive to some who might be out of work at the moment? We must end it.
    I am only one man (sometimes two after a couple of beers, but that’s another story) and I can only do so much. I can’t stop all the protests. Still, I would like to offer this compromise to at least try to put the brakes on what this holiday nonsense might soon turn out to become.
    I propose a holiday that isn’t designated for anything in particular so people can choose to celebrate an occasion or honor a person of their choosing.
    We should make it fall on a Wednesday so people can’t use it simply as an excuse for a long weekend.
    You can celebrate whatever you want: a famous person, fresh fruit, Star Wars, bologna and peppermint sandwiches, toenail fungus – it’s wide open and totally up to you and no one can stop you from your particular celebration.
    The only restriction is that you have to do it on your own property. You can’t take it to the streets and you can’t complain about what someone else might use the day to designate.
    So, you might ask, what would I use this day to celebrate? I haven’t figured it out yet, but I know one thing for sure. No one will be invited.
    People have a tendency to ruin everything.


  • Looking Forward

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    I am looking forward to the next campaign season despite it all.
    It used to be, in years past, I was the only one running for governor from the Flatlander Party. It wasn’t a difficult choice, being there were only a handful of us back in those early days. (Actually, it came down to a coin toss and I lost.)
    As the years went by, it was just assumed that I would be the perennial candidate since I already had some experience in campaigning. I was becoming quick on my feet answering questions by giving answers that meant nothing at all, an important part in being a politician.
    Ironically, my campaigns for governor only helped to increase the membership in the Party as more and more Flatlanders, once afraid to declare themselves as such, became emboldened and jumped on the wagon.
    Lets’ face it, when I moved to New Hampshire from New York in 1985, relations between Flatlanders and natives were pretty bad.
    Who doesn’t remember the famous “Dump Day Massacre” of 1972 when a group of natives attacked some well-intentioned Flatlanders who were trying to throw stuff away at the dump instead of bringing junk home. Traffic was backed up for miles and the police were called in when the Flatlanders were chased into the road by the natives who had picked up any rusty old piece of metal they could find, of which there were many.
    When I announced the formation of The Flatlander Party as well as my intention to run for governor, I knew there would be backlash. Though we Flatlanders were tolerated here in the Granite State, we weren’t truly accepted. As long as we stayed in the background everything would be alright.
    There were protesters at that first news conference when I made my announcement. It was a small group of natives there to loudly protest. Of course, the New Hampshire media portrayed them as speaking for every native, but I knew better.
    That first election was dismal as far as votes for me, but I knew it would be tough. Still, the Flatlander Party had made its mark and was here to stay. Continue reading  Post ID 3052


  • Spreading The Joy

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    I had never dreamed, twelve years ago when I started it, that it would grow to be such a powerful organization.
    My intention was purely based on how we could get this idea started in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, but today it has grown across the country.
    I couldn’t be prouder.
    Of course I am talking about TAIALBBHTWICF Fund.
    For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym (I imagine there might be one or two) it stands for “The Air Is A Little Bit Better Here Than Where I Come From”. The origin of which was my goodwill intentions in helping upper-middle class and wealthy families, who were shut out in finding a luxurious lakefront home to spend a couple of weeks in the summer. Most had tried to make reservations too late and found that there was little recourse than to either spend their time here in an (ugh) condo apartment on the water or, worse, never leave home at all.
    I had started it after reading the horror stories about some of those families. One story was about the degradation of having to share a beach with strangers, lacking the social skills in mingling with other families who made less than $75,000 a year. Feeling uncomfortable and never quite being able to fit in.
    One story which really touched my heart was of one family in a town in Massachussetts, who stayed at home while their affluent neighbors all enjoyed August vacations in private homes either here on Lake Winnipesaukee, on the shores on Nantucket, or even tropical locales out of country. This family had tried too late to find their own place and were shut out. It was the humiliation they faced during their day to day after. Maybe it was the forced smiling faces at the Country Club from those who they thought were their friends, but were now talking about them behind their backs.
    Not many of us can ever relate to the suffering that these people go through. We go about our day to day, working nine to five, barely making enough to cover the mortgage. We never even stop to think about the struggles of those whose lives have forced upon them the necessity to have to have only the best, and most private, in accommodations when they travel. They have no other choice; it is a life that so many of us can never understand.
    TAIALBBHTWICF Fund has been very successful in helping these folks escape from the places they live and to spend a week or more in an exquisite mansion on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. Close to my heart, as an ex-New Yorker, I love to see the small smiles when a family from the North Shore of Long Island are freed from being trapped in the summer stench of saltwater and are provided with luxurious accommodations in an exquisite lakefront mansion on Lake Winnipesaukee to finally have some fresh, lake air.
    The feeling I get when I come to greet them upon their arrival when their private jet touches down at Laconia Airport, fills my heart with joy. Even though I know I need to stand back at least fifty yards as they deplane, I am pretty sure they see me wave.
    TAIALBBHTWICF Fund has been so successful that its mission has spread across the country and I couldn’t be prouder.
    From the shores of our magnificent lakes here in New Hampshire, the idea has spread and now the program is finding first class homes on bodies of water and along the shores of our magnificent oceans all around the country for those who simply forgot to make their reservations on time.
    As TAIALBBHTWICF Fund grows, we will be looking at ways to make these families vacations even more memorable.
    Making sure they have the best table at a local, upper scale restaurant without them having to go through the agony of making the reservation. We are even in discussion with the local attractions of each resort area, in providing special times for our TAIALBBHTWICF Fund recipients to use their facilities without having to deal with the overwhelming burden of waiting in line or, god forbid, mingling with others that they’d rather not.
    As the program grows and we are reaching out our well manicured, helping hands across the country to help those in need, we are envisioning taking TAIALBBHTWICF Fund globally and bringing busy and forgetful people to wonderful vacation homes around the world that might have otherwise eluded them.
    I couldn’t be prouder.
    Join me as “Real Stories North Of Concord” hosts their second StorySlam at Pitman’s Freight Room in Laconia on Thursday, August 24th. Up to twelve storytellers will be picked to tell their 6-minute story based on the theme “Brush With Fame.” The slam starts at 7:30 and admission is $20 with all net proceeds going to benefit Camp Resilience.


  • Breaking The Curse?

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    I was recently asked if I thought “The Curse Of The Flatlander” would ever be broken.
    I had to stop in my tracks. It had been a longtime since I had been reminded of it. I had even written about it to some degree on these pages many years ago.
    Since then, it has been kept quiet; not many of us like to be reminded of it. With the Chicago Cubs breaking the 108 year “Curse of the Goat” last year, it seems like it is the only “curse” still lingering in the minds of some here in New Hampshire.
    Flatlanders especially.
    If you don’t know the story of the curse, it goes like this.
    Back in the 1930s it is believed that the first “Flatlander” from the urban New York City area moved to New Hampshire. (Some dispute this claim, but I have yet to see hard evidence.)
    The legend goes that many thought he wouldn’t have what it takes to survive in the Granite State. Sure, in the summers – a time when so many like him came to visit – things were easy. It was the winter and the off season where he would be tested to limit.
    Despite all the odds, and the lack of sympathy from natives who were anxious to see him fail, he stood his ground. He adapted nicely and actually flourished; he was no average Flatlander.
    His abilities in chopping wood, shoveling (yes shoveling) his roof and showing great courage and proficiency in accomplishing many other winter feats far outshone his neighbors. In fact, his expertise with a shovel, both on the ground and upon his roof, after a vicious snowstorm, earned him the nickname “The Grande Espatula” which was Spanish for “The Grand Shoveler”. (Many question this fact as no one can figure out who the heck in Central New Hampshire in the 1930s would ever come up with such a name.)
    It was apparent to natives and Flatlanders alike that this one individual was blazing the trail for others to come after him. He was setting a standard for all to follow. Respect would be immediate.
    Of course, this was not to be.
    The local factory where the Flatlander worked during the week was remortgaged by the owner who needed cash to finance a summer stock production so as to give his wife a chance at becoming a great actress and eventually find her way to Broadway.
    The show was a bomb, as was his wife. The show closed abruptly, the mortgage got behind and the factory eventually closed.
    Finding it hard to find other opportunities for work, the Flatlander took a new job in Maine where he moved, along with his exceptional skills.
    The legend goes that no Flatlander since that time who has moved to New Hampshire has been able to flourish in quite the same way.
    At the same time, it is no secret, that Flatlanders moving to Maine have been much more proficient and continue to succeed by leaps and bounds.
    Is this all just coincidence, or is it really a curse?
    Many scoff at the very idea, dismissing the ineptness of Flatlanders like myself as a curse. Some point to rare examples of some who have actually succeeded. But have they ever reached that pinnacle that legend describes?
    Believers in the curse, like the gentleman who reminded me of this the other day, feel that no matter how well they perform in their new homeland, they will never be able to reach the top of the ladder and be accepted as a true New Hampshireite until the curse is lifted.
    Now that the Cubs have removed themselves from their curse, many feel it is our turn. That this coming winter one Flatlander will rise above the rest and flourish beyond all expectations and finally succeed where so many before him (or her) has failed before.
    Will this be the year? Will one of us shine and put to rest the scorn and futility? To shut down the noise? Will one of us finally some up to par with those Flatlanders from Maine?
    I know one thing for sure.
    It’s not going to be me.
    ********

    Join Brendan as “Real Stories North Of Concord” hosts its second StorySlam at Pitman’s Freight Room in Laconia on Thursday, August 24th. Up to twelve storytellers will be picked to tell their 6-minute story based on the theme “Brush With Fame.” The slam starts at 7:30 and admission is $20 with all net proceeds going to benefit Camp Resilience.


  • My Plans For The Fourth

    A Fool In NH Column Heading

    Time to get out my walking shoes.
    I realize that it would make sense to wait until Independence Day next year, but desperate times take desperate measures.
    As you may or may not know, I am facing a serious challenge next year in my run to be the Flatlander Party’s gubernatorial nominee (which, as I often have to explain to folks, means I am running for governor, not guber).
    I don’t usually have any competition for the nomination, but this year I may find myself in the fight of my life for the job. The party hasn’t done well in elections over the years, so the grumbling inside is that there needs to be a change. Seeing that I’m the only one from the party that has run for office over the years then, of course, all the blame falls in my lap.
    A lot of people forget that it was me that started the Flatlander Party, right here on these pages years ago. It’s been me that has suffered the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and took the losses in elections humbly.
    I knew it would take years until we would be properly recognized and I was the one who took on that struggle, knowing that someday we would finally be a force to reckoned with.
    Now, just as we are finally breaking through (I did get seventy-five votes this last election) others want to step from behind the embarrassment curtain they have been hiding behind all these years and now step out into the glory.
    Like the story of the Little Red Hen I read in grammar school, I did all the work while others claimed to have too many other things to do in order help. Now, as our star begins to rise, others want to just step in and eat the bread.
    Still, this is politics and I should have seen it coming. I shouldn’t have expected anything less.
    So, I have some work to do and I need to do it early.
    The Flatlander Party doesn’t have the numbers of the other two major parties, but we do have enough to make a difference. The problem in getting their attention for the primary vote is that they are spread far and wide across the state.
    So, I am kicking it into gear early to get their attention.
    What better way than to march in some Fourth of July parades in some of the cities and towns in New Hampshire.
    I realize I will only make a few of the parades considering travel and timing, but I have hired a few surrogates to march in some others holding signs with my name on it.
    Of course, this all works on the element of surprise and not only will it put me in front of some members of the Flatlander Party early, but it may also get me some much needed, free media coverage.
    No one attending Fourth of July parades this year will be expecting it. On off election years, parade goers line the streets waiting to see the local high school bands march and play, some brave veterans walk by, maybe local police and firefighters, some folks from local organizations that do good around town and even guys in funny hats driving little cars. No one will be expecting a smiley politician to show up.
    Advantage me.
    I’m sure some will be shocked as they see me walk by, waving as if I care. Some will react with boos I’m sure. Maybe a few polite ones wiell give me a smattering of applause.
    One things is for sure though, I will stick out like the sorest of thumbs and I will be noticed. Even my surrogates will make some waves. The media will love it, especially the boos, I’m sure to get free air time out of it.
    Of course, I haven’t been invited, but I’ll make sure to pull off my best Rosie Ruiz and slip into the parades as they turn a corner, my campaign sign ticked neatly into the elastic waist band of my shorts (which come in very handy for more than just an ever-expanding waistline).
    So, if you see me marching in your Fourth Of July Parade, remember I have no choice. A desperate man has to do what a desperate man must do.
    I know you’ll understand.

    ********

    I hope you will join me on July 13th at Pitman’s Freight Room in Laconia for a StorySlam to benefit the NH Humane Society. If you have a story to tell based on the theme “It Seemed Like A Good Idea” please come and put your name in the hat (of course, you’ll need a ticket. After all this is a fundraiser.) For more information see the ad on page 44. Visit “Real Stories North Of Concord” on Facebook or email to realstoriesnoc@gmail.

     

     


  • My Least Favorite Week

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    I know I shouldn’t say it, but I dread this week.
    I realize that this week will always arrive; not much I can do about it. I also realize that it is my own fault, my lack of preparation that makes it harder than it has to be.
    Yes, it is the second week in June here in the Lakes Region and that means only one thing: it’s time to put the air conditioners in the windows again.
    This yearly struggle is nothing I ever look forward to. I put it in the back of my head until the inevitable moment comes when I turn on the TV and hear the frightening news: “It’s going to be a beautiful weekend with temperatures in the 80s and possibly hitting the 90s.”
    I sit and stare at the TV. I’m not surprised, just unnerved a bit. It seems that only last week it was in the 50s and summer heat would never arrive. After all, it is a short season. Maybe, I thought, I’ll get lucky this year and we will have a cold, rainy summer.
    But, like my hopes for a New York Jets Super Bowl victory, it only takes a few weeks into the real season to realize that those hopes will once again be dashed.
    In fairness to me, I did do a bit of preparation ahead of time. I went to a local hardware store and bought some insulation as well as the tiny screws to hold the air conditioners in place that I can never find the day of the actual installation.


    Still, the thought that I would never have to use them crossed my mind. That would have been fine; there is always next year.
    Of course, that wasn’t to be and the bad news from the weatherman with the overbearing smile confirmed to me it was time.
    The windows in our house are wooden and a bit old. They have a series of ancient screens and storm windows on runners that one can spend hours trying to get to open and close correctly. That one being me. Continue reading  Post ID 3052


  • Getting Together

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    I was recently made aware that the 49th year reunion of my grammar school class will be happening next year.
    Yes, grammar school.
    I never even realized there were such things as grammar school reunions.
    I do believe that this might be a new cultural phenomenon brought on by the advent of social media sites such as Facebook.
    There are about twenty-five of us, out of what I would estimate at about a hundred and fifty in the class, who have been found out by the organizer of this event and then innocently invited to be a part of this Facebook group dedicated to our class.


    I went to a Catholic School on Long Island, New York called St. Thomas The Apostle. I attended from kindergarten through eighth grade, so I spent a fair portion of the early formative years of my life with these people. One of the women in the group was actually the first girl I slow danced with at an eighth-grade soiree (of course, as was required by the nuns, keeping room between us for the Holy Spirit).
    These were serious days in a young kid’s life. These were the days years before hair would start to sprout on my face and decades before it appeared in my ears and nose. So much of what happens in these years is imbedded in my psyche.
    As is with Facebook, now that some of these old classmates have joined the group, it gives us license to go spying on each other’s profiles. Though we are living in different parts of the country now and pursuing different directions in life, as I gaze through the profiles there is still one constant that runs through all of them – We are all getting old(er).
    Some of my old classmates have been posting some posed class photos from those days gone by that they have managed to hold onto all of these years. Someone even had a copy of our yearbook, a typewritten and photocopied first and only edition with no photos. I was reminded by one who had held on to this relic that I was voted Most Generous. Not really in the higher echelon of Best Looking or Best Athlete, but at least in the minor leagues of acclamations.
    I had forgotten about that. It made me feel good. A slight sense of immortality. And an award that can stand the test of time.
    Being a Catholic School, we are all decked out in what was our usual attire through those eight years. The boys with their woven, monogrammed ties and white dress shirts and the girls with their plaid monogrammed jumpers with white short-sleeved shirts. Continue reading  Post ID 3052


  • Sudden Summer Syndrome

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    As Memorial Day and the official kick-off to the summer season are upon us here in Central New Hampshire, I am confronted with phone calls from former members of F.A.T.S.O. to help them to deal with the upcoming stresses of the season.
    As you probably know if you read the papers – well, this one anyway – F.A.T.S.O. is a support group I started with my friend Vinnie years ago to help new transplants deal with the stresses of adjusting to their first winters here. It stands for Flatlanders Adjusting to Solitary Oblivion.
    There have been dozens of graduates of the group who have successfully adjusted and now find winter no more than a few months (and in some cases, like this past winter half a year) of a mild inconvenience.
    Still, winter is only one of four seasons here. The other three being Autumn, Motorcycle Week and Summer. (There is a bill in Concord right now to designate Road Work as an additional season. We’ll see how that plays out.)
    Some former F.A.T.S.O. members who have only been a year or two separated for the groups’ umbilical cord, are finding that they are now nicely adjusted to winter, but at the same time are having trouble doing the same with the summer months. Continue reading  Post ID 3052


  • New Scratch

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    It’s usually around this time of year that I volunteer my time to help educate the youth of our great state.
    Of course, I don’t have a teaching degree so there is nothing I can do in the classroom on a regular basis, but I can help to fund education by coming up with some new ideas for lottery tickets.
    You have most likely heard that the money from the sale of lottery tickets goes towards education. This is a good thing.
    An unintended benefit of lottery tickets is that it also helps keep the convenience store industry afloat as well as keeping the coin department of the U.S. mint in operation. There has been talk of eliminating coins altogether to save money, but when an uproar over what will people use to scratch off their lottery tickets reached Congress, funding for coin production was actualy increased. (Little known fact I got from a guy named Zach on the Internet.)
    Still, there has been controversy over the years.
    For instance, we all know someone who chose not to play responsibly as required by state law and they ended up with either hours of community service or jail time.
    Of course, there have been the protests by environmental groups concerned about the toxic effects of the silver dust scratched off lottery tickets. They claim that science is settled. I’m not convinced though. (I’m sure I’ll get some hate mail about that.)
    Probably the biggest public relations nightmare for the lottery commission was the great scratch ticket riot of 2014.
    It was a summer Saturday afternoon at a popular supermarket near the shores of a famous New Hampshire lake. There were many tourists as well as locals who were stocking up on supplies for the weekend. As is the case on these hectic weekends, many tried to gather 14 items or less to be able to get through the express line faster. Of course, there were a few with well more than 14 items and their part in this is under reported. Continue reading  Post ID 3052


  • The Battle Ahead

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    It was certainly an uncomfortable afternoon as the existing members of the Flatlander Party got together last Saturday for our yearly Spring Fling brunch.
    Our party’s recent trouncing in the past election for governor has not sat well with many of the longtime party members and folks are antsy for a change.
    The elephant in the room, besides the photos of actual elephants brought back by on member on her recent safari to Africa, was my perennial (and some would say ad naseum) candidacy.
    The Spring Fling brunch is not designed to discuss who the next candidate might be. It is supposed to be a time of fellowship and camaraderie. There are usually a few new possible members there and as we try to grow the party so we realize that talking about our constant failure year after year after year might have the opposite effect.
    Still, there were many whispers among longtime members, gathered in their small cliques, thinking about the future and what changes would be needed to increase our influence in politics in general.
    As in any election, economics was going to play a big part. The funds of the party were small, but investment in the last election was significant and there was still quite a bit of inventory on hand to be considered.
    The party had invested a large sum on having my photograph printed on thousands of oversized cardboard mailers to send out to possible voters across the state. The only problem was that, once the oversized cardboard mailers were paid for, there was no money left in the budget for postage. With this huge inventory lying around, it is going to make it harder to pick a different candidate for the next election.
    There are also lawn signs that were picked up and cleaned off after the dust of the election settled. They are ready to be used again.
    Going into the brunch, I was well aware of what the temperature in the room would be. Add to that the heat from the many Sternos keeping the buffet food lukewarm in the Grange Hall where the event was held and it was rather sticky (as were the scalloped potatoes). Continue reading  Post ID 3052


  • Getting Used To It

    A Fool In NH Column Heading

    Some things just take getting used to.
    Have you gotten one of those new debit or credit cards with a chip in it?
    Supposedly, these are designed to help keep us safer from those evil doers who want to steal our information and go on spending sprees using our cards.
    It seems that this country has been behind the times with these things and we are finally catching up.
    Just in time for the evil doers to have finally figured out how to overcome this nuisance to their livelihood.
    Still, when I first got my new chip card I was pretty excited. After all this was New Hampshire in the middle of the winter and something like this got my blood boiling a bit. I hadn’t been this excited since I purchased my new ergonomically designed snow shovel a few winters ago.
    Of course, like most new things we crave as humans to make us happy, the novelty soon wore off by the second snowstorm. The next winter it was time for a snowblower. Next year, who knows; maybe a new house in Florida.
    I had heard about these chip cards and I was excited to see how they would work.
    My first stop was a local department store to purchase some cat food.


    This in itself was a winter diversion I had planned for a while, so I figured I would kill two birds with one stone, a feat I could never accomplish in reality seeing I never had a good pitching arm. (Even if I did, I could never do it.) But, I digress.
    Our cat, Dagny, needed to add a little wet food to her diet so I needed to find which type she would prefer. It would be a process of elimination by purchasing many different types and bringing them home and then, one by one, letting her taste each flavor until she found one to her liking, if at all.
    Unfortunately, we did not have a dog to make quick work of whichever food was not lucky enough to be chosen, so there would be a good deal of waste involved if Dagny couldn’t decided on her preferred flavor right off the bat.
    I must admit I was surprised to see the selection of cat food available. A few dozen flavors. I might have to make several trips until the magic recipe was discovered. Continue reading  Post ID 3052


  • Real Stories

    A Fool In NH Column HeadingI never knew how much I enjoyed telling stories out loud until a few years after my first column was published here in the Weirs Times.
    All of those early columns were stories that had to do with my adjustments to life here in Central New Hampshire after having moved here from Long Island, New York in 1985.
    There was always an underlying theme to these tales of adjustment. It was the fact that a handy person I am not. What were experiences of frustration for me, years later turned into amusing tales.
    Of course, there was sometimes some slight embellishment to make the stories a bit more entertaining, but often there was no embellishment at all; I took some of my more embarrassing moments, moments that I’m sure others would be afraid to admit, and turned them into stories for others to (hopefully) enjoy and maybe have a good laugh at my expense.
    I never regretted for a moment using my own shortcomings to give others a good chuckle. In all honesty, it has been cathartic for me. Now when faced with a task I’d rather not attempt, I do anyway since, succeed or fail, it always makes for a great story.
    A few years after the first stories of my misadventures in raking the roof in winter, buying firewood for the first time and spending a morning at the dump appeared, I was asked by a local group to come and tell my stories in person. This was about seventeen years ago now.
    That first presentation wasn’t very good (a story in itself), Still, I was intrigued enough to want to do it again. It has been said that next to dying, public speaking is the second biggest fear for most people. For me it is having to fix a leaky faucet. I admit I was a bit nervous that first time speaking in front of a crowd, but as the years went by and I was invited by more groups and organizations in telling my tales, I became more comfortable with it and looked forward to the next presentation.
    It encouraged me to publish a couple of books with some of these stories as well and people actually bought them.
    Imagine that! Continue reading  Post ID 3052


  • A New Friend

    A Fool In NH Column Heading

    You never know what the day will bring.
    A corny enough saying, but so very true.
    Working at the Weirs Times presents me with great opportunities. One, of course, is having the freedom to express myself on this page each week. I can pretty much go wherever I want.
    Another part of my job is to get out on the road on occasion and find people, places and things in New Hampshire that would make for a good feature story.
    I have taken a ride on the Gundalow Piscataqua along the river of the same name, I have experienced a zipline adventure in the White Mountains, had a complete spa day and even spent an afternoon with the infamous Wolfman at Clerk’s Trading Post in Lincoln, to name a very few.
    Even the stories which would seem rather mundane on the surface proved to be much more interesting than you might imagine once I met the people behind them. Along the way I have also gathered knowledge that I never expected.
    Last week, working on the paper you are holding in your hand today, my lone assignment for the week was to drive a couple of miles from the office and take a picture of Bill Carter for the front page.
    The story had already been written years ago by Lorrie Baird and we thought Bill’s story should be repeated. His adventures and sacrifice in World War II are the kind of stories that need to be retold so that new generations can fully understand the sacrifice these young people in the 1949s made to save the world. Continue reading  Post ID 3052