Liberal Land Lunacy!
(or how did a nice Republican like me end up in a place like this?)

Alas, my time in Colorado was awesome, employed by Sun Microsystems and having an office with the entire west wall windows and a sliding glass door that let out onto a balcony, all in the shadow of Pikes Peak! But even these good things must come to an end. Sun was my first real computer employer (no more being the highest educated drywaller in all of Colorado Springs) and even though reverse discrimination abounded they did hire me, so I became fiercly loyal to them. When they told us our site was being closed and we were asked to move to Massachusetts, I jumped. One of four people who did, the rest either quit Sun, or moved to CA, or hung on working from home (before such a thing was all that common) until the campus in Broomfield was built.

So here I am, living among liberals (so I thought!) It turns out that these small town folks are a lot Republican, most of the evil stupid democrats live in the cities like Boston. Unfortunately there are so many of them we get stuck with their stupid laws (and taxes!!! this is Taxachusettes after all) and stupid senators, the bozo's Kerry and Kennedy. Ah well, at least every so many years I get the EXTREME satisfaction of voting against them, which is something I only dreamed about doing back when I lived in the United States.

Massachusetts isn't part of the US. I don't exactly know what country it really is, but at least they do accept US currency (especially when you are paying those taxes and racheted up insurance fees.) Many folks are friendly but the true New Englanders are not, they snub you like you are some kind of foreign invader. The first day I went to work here and met the team, greeting them all with a How-ya doin!!! attitude, they looked like they were ready to shoot me. I am not the only one that notices this attitude, and they drive worse than anyone I have seen anywhere (and I've driven in San Antonio, Houston, Denver, Cleveland, Pittsburg, Philly, and NYC. MAYBE the DC area is worse, but it's hard to imagine.) While they do eat a lot of ice cream (redemption!) they resist things like progress or change. Everything is an antique, every town, building, etc. Even at my house I have a 200+ year old cart path that runs across my property. I had to put in extra gates in my fence in case some 200+ year old farmer came strolling along and wanted to walk the path. If it's on the ancient maps, it's gospel.

I moved here to the landscape of colonials and garrisons. Very few houses have porches, so being the good Ohioan I am I built one right across the entire front of my house. I could have afforded a house a couple hundred thousand dollars more expensive, but dad always said if you live well within your means you never have to worry about keeping up with the Jones - you ARE the Jones! so we bought cheap. Thus I could afford a porch, then a hot tub and gazeebo, a finished basement, finished attic, additional bay windows, a huge chain link fenced area, and oh yes a three car garage with a 24 by 40 room over it. This year I added a 13 by 24 sunporch on an elevated deck off the back of the house. That's the housing situation for us, a little slice of Ohio and Colorado here in liberal land. Costs me a lot more in taxes, of course, and imagine this - some folks living around me grumbled a bit about it looking out of place. Waaaaa for them. I noticed porches have sprung up all down my street, and a whole lot of additions have also appeared. Hmmmmmm......

The snow's a lot worse here, with winter seeming to last about 10 months of the year. Some years are worse, some are milder. It really isn't that bad - unlike Colorado, Mass gets all four seasons. Spring is over in about 2 weeks, but we do get one! The snow, when it comes, piles up and lays there all winter. One year our yard disappeared in November and re-appeared in May. Because of some fluke with our location, we'll have ice and snow on our yard when people a few miles away are already mowing grass. I guess that means I have less grass to mow, but that snow (and the abundance of dark, cold days) gets pretty tiring. Not like Colorado with its 320+ days of sunshine a year.

Ok, lest you think Mass is just plain awful, (and having to deal with uber-liberal senators, sky high insurance rates, and taxes and taxes and taxes) there is a lot of good to say about it. The church is better than awesome, the folks are great and opportunities abound. That fall foliage with the kaleidoscope of colors can't be beat, not anywhere that I know of. There are zillions of toads and frogs, if you like that kind of thing (and I do!) and you hear them peeping their hearts out all spring and summer. I am not a big fan of all the mosquitos, but they haven't been so bad as they were when we first moved here. The infamous black flies people complain so much about really only last a couple weeks. The trees are tall, the birds are plentiful, and we enjoy the raccoons, deer, foxes, crows, porcupines, and turkeys that criss-cross our yard now and then. While there are lots of snakes, supposedly none of the local ones are poisonous (unlike CO!) and tend to eat bugs which is fine by me.

And by the way - we do have a lot of salmanders. But NONE OF THEM have blue spots. If I ever saw one with blue spots, and I HAVE NOT, it would quickly be moved to the other side of town where there are known blue spotted colonys. Mass is one of those places where people have had to give up their homes because of the critters. We see the yellow spotted ones often, though, and they grow as long or longer than the distance between your thumb tip and pinky. They pretend to be slow and sluggish, but put one down and they can move very fast once they think you aren't looking. The handful of turtles we've caught also moved a lot faster than I expected.

Boring! Ok, some few random memories:

Dave the cub scout, and me going to camp with him each summer. Lately he's grown out of scouts but I've become the chaplain at a camp in mid-New Hampshire.

Dogs! We moved here with two, and buried one but replaced him with 3 more. Four dogs are a pack (and a pain!) but I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Summer interns at work. I've had over 30 of them now after all these years. I've never had a bad one, but some of them have been heads and shoulders better than the rest. UMass interns are the best! MIT interns are the WORST. What snooty jerks!

The Big E (New England Exposition), which is the state fair of the area. Not as big as the Ohio state fair, but a day trip of fun nevertheless. I'm sure glad my bud Gary at work suggested it to me.

Jessica Rabbit. Not the cartoon one, the real one. Now where's that time machine!

New Years Eve parties, in particular 2004? when we had all those candy bars, 138 different ones I think. Folk still look back on that with reverence!

Speaking of chocolate, the trips to the Cafe LeFleur with Kieran. All chocolate, all the time, for $25 a head. Yum!

Lowell Spinner games. They're not the Sky Sox so you can't really learn their names, but it's a live ballgame anyway and lots of fun. This year, their 10th anniversary, I got all the bobble heads (10 of them) they gave out and bought a charity uniform right off the relief pitcher's back. When I won, I was there with a couple of our close friend familys from church and I pointed out the pitcher on the mound was wearing my shirt! As we all looked at him, he took that moment to blow his nose on the sleeve and wipe his sweaty face on the other! I guess if he ever commits a crime I've got his DNA on file!

My peach tree that finally gave me some lush peaches, enough to almost break off the branches. But yum! Just wait for that black cherry tree to kick in.

Turning 40 and my so-called friends that were so happy to remind me all about it!

Dave working at the pizza joint and bringing me home extra pizza or crazy bread now and then.

Duck tours of Boston and dinners at Fire and Ice.

The trip to Bar Harbor (for those from these parts, Bah Hahbah) and the feeding of the insane seagulls. Dave (and Deniese!) really enjoyed this one.

OF COURSE the trip to Yellowstone in 2006, what I think was the nicest vacation in my life. It's worthy of its own write up, with all the wacky and fun things that went on. Safari Kathy, Moose Holly, Brave Matt, Lug Nut Robert, Camera Dave, Smokin' Deniese, Ice Cream Randy, and Signpost Jessica just to touch a few highlights. You all know who you are!

My cheap midlife crisis, where I bought a red convertible. Ok, it was a Geo Metro convertible and I got it for $400 on ebay. Robert and I put a new engine in by hand - no hoist. Come on, the motor only weighs about 85 pounds! I told you I was cheap! And to top it off, I went to the junkyard to buy some parts for it and came home with a white one for my wife.

The crazy roads. From Boston's common, you can SEE the Swiss Hotel but don't try to drive there. All the roads go the wrong way! And even out here in the country, you drive along and it's Townsend road then Pepperell road, then Lowell road. And you never turned!!! What is wrong with calling it just one name and leaving it at that? Even the interstate I-95 is also SR128 and something else or other.

Houses and barns connected in one big long house-barn thing. Very cool, so you can feed your horses without ever going outside, I guess. Makes for some looong (and maybe smelly?) houses.

People everywhere. I mean everywhere, there's simply nowhere you can go where there isn't someone there. The towns are crowded, the country is full of houses, etc. I'm suprised the animals can find anywhere to live.

The power going out. They don't bury the utility lines here, so every time a tree or branch falls on the lines we lose power. I don't recall the power going out in Colorado, ever, but then the utility lines are all buried there...

But I know why they aren't buried. Rocks grow in my yard! Every year I dig them up, about football sized, and every year more grow. No wonder there are so many rock walls here, all over the place!

Yet more cart peeling parties with the guys as we watched football on the big screen some sunday afternoons.

Millie and Neil living with us. It was nice having Deniese's sister living here, even though we didn't see much of her and Neil because they hid in their bedroom and hardly ever came out. I liked chatting with Neil, and wish he was still around once in a while.

Spike the african water frog eating junebug after junebug with her pac-man like mouth, and finding her in the dog's water bowl after yet another famous escape!