Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Blog 2008

As I get older, I am terrified at how quickly time seems to pass. I now measure weeks like minutes and gasp at how the last 10 years have shot past like a lightning bolt. It seems like yesterday that we were all worried about Y2K (remember that?) and I simply cannot believe that I have been living in the same place for the last 13 years.

This time of the year is always a reflective time for me. The Christmas cards and blog make the process more formalized, but I think reflection is a psychological process that takes on greater importance the older one gets.

So as I reflect upon 2008 there is the good and the not so good, the happy and the sad, the scary and the comforting, the troubled and the hopeful. I suspect that many of you are nodding in agreement.

The New Year began with the “cold from hell” that seemed to make the extra long winter of 07-08 all the longer. This necessitated several trips to the clinic, meds, more docs, more meds, and a new appreciation for people who experience chronic diseases. It didn’t help that I was running a fever during Super Bowl Sunday and also working at a conference in Rockport. For those who are New England Patriots fans, we want to forget that day. For those who are New York Giants fans, we want to never forget. And, for those like me who are both well, let’s just say I was too sick to care.

We got some sad news in late February that Uncle Bob Brandt had passed away. Uncle Bobby - as I prefer - was my father’s youngest brother and one of the happiest people I’ve ever known. The sadness of his passing was elevated by the opportunity for just about all of the Brandt cousins to get together with Aunt May to celebrate Bobby’s life at a wonderful memorial service that was held in Bristol, Connecticut. Though none of the “Bristol Brandts” live in Connecticut anymore, it was a central location and close to where Uncle Bobby’s many friends were.

You may recall that Sister Mary celebrated her 50th birthday in 2006 and we were not able to pull together the family reunion she had requested until this summer. With the aid of Cousin Ralph and his wife Schley, we were able to secure a beautiful cottage at Point O’Woods in South Lyme, CT. As kids, this is the place where we spent two weeks each summer and so two weeks in August 2008 – 40 years later - seemed like the right thing to do. The Brooklyn Brandts, aided by some of the Wethersfield Brandts, Bristol Brandts, the Ivoryton Astles and the Merry McShanes (aka the Merry Macs from Ossining) helped to make the time special and enhanced the celebration of both Sigrid’s and Mary’s birthdays.

The not so pleasant experiences of the year included one of my two jobs evaporating, astronomically high energy prices and the general queasiness of the economy. All of these came about in the last quarter of the year and has made for some interesting conversation. And that’s all I’ll be saying about that!

I will spare you any political commentary other than to remind you that it was an election year (in case you forgot) and with that there appears to be – at least for now – a sense of hope and renewal. I am not ready to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel, but I am having a good feeling about things to come and I hope that this feeling is contagious.

So here’s to wishing you and yours the Merriest of Christmases and the Hope and Happiness of the New Year. As I extend my best wishes to you and yours, may you all be safe and warm; and may God Bless You.


PS: The image on the Christmas card this year is from some old 8mm home movies that Sister Sigrid converted into DVDs for Christmas last year.

First Snow

I just recorded the first snow of the season in Augusta, Maine. The forecast is that it will be warming during the night and turning to rain. So since it will likely (hopefully) be gone by morning, I took these at 9:00 pm - November 30, 2008.



Thursday, November 27, 2008


I read this in the local paper the other day though the story is several weeks old. But it "bares" repeating:

The owners of the company that makes the Whizzinator, a prosthetic penis used to mask illegal drug use, were charged yesterday in federal court with conspiracy to defraud the government and are expected to plead guilty.

Gerald Wills, the president of Puck Technology, based in Signal Hill, Calif., and Robert D. Catalano, the vice president, are charged in a 19-page criminal information of conspiracy for selling two different products that mask illegal substances in a user's urine.

The products, the Whizzinator and Number 1, are sold through the company's Web sites.

What the Puck??? Ya can't make this stuff up...Here is the complete story from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions

Speaking of A-holes...
I know this is in poor taste (and I am not referring to the photo on this page - talk about A-holes!), but I had to share this story from The Onion with everyone:

26-Year-Old To See Every Asshole He Ever Went To High School With On Night Before Thanksgiving

While not as vicious as these experiences, I too did partake in this annual rite of passage for a number of years following high school. My conditions were enhanced with an annual basketball game at the HS played with a team made up of current faculty and some alums vs. the Varsity. Always an ugly scene.

This was followed by free beer in the cafeteria. At the last one I attended - some time in the early 1970s - I recall watching a group of my "A-hole friends" build a pyramid made out of Schaffer beer cans and then knock them down. It was hilarious at the time. A-holeism was rampant in those days - as now; I suffer from it too.

In later years, this activity was replaced by an annual trip to the Little Neck Inn on Northern Blvd. They served up a free turkey dinner all night on the Wednesday before T-Day. Always nice to prime the pump with plenty of tryptophan .

Gobble gobble.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out Kid...

Jean Shepherd age 17
Ah, it's getting to that time of the year. I saw my first Christmas lights a few weeks ago and it won't be long before we are sitting around the old TV and watching The Christmas Story marathon on TBS.

As a way of getting you all into the nostalgic mood, and to prep you for the 25th Anniversary of said movie, I am linking to a story in today's paper about the real Jean Shepherd and his real house in northwest Indiana. It seems the real Shepherd, just like his cinematic character, did things all kids did; he wrote his name up in the attic of the family homestead located in the Hessville section of Hammond, Indiana.

It's a great little story about the family that lives there now and the history of the house and the Shepherd family.

Enjoy and Flick Lives!


Saturday, November 08, 2008

More West Wing

Josh Lyman

Continuing in the "life mimics art"category, I read in this article about "Rahmbo" Rahm Emanuel stating, "The congressman (Emanuel) himself has been cited as an inspiration for presidential aide Josh Lyman on 'The West Wing.'"

You may recall that the character, played by actor Bradley Whitford, serves as an Deputy Chief of Staff to President Jed Bartlet only to step down (in the last two seasons of the show) to become the campaign manager for Rep. Matt Santos who runs for president. I had forgotten this part... (from Wikipedia)

After Matt Santos is elected President of the United States in a narrow victory over Republican Senator Arnold Vinick, Josh becomes the White House Chief of Staff of the incoming Santos Administration.

Since the TV show The West Wing was full of drama and scary things (assassination attempts, kidnapping of the President's daughter, etc.) I hope that the similarities with the show end here.

Stay tuned.