Saturday, December 24, 2011

Delmar Little League

I have placed the Delmar Little League website on my sidebar. Registration starts in January so you might want to check out their calendar.

The First Amendment Right, Church and State, and Comprehensive Plans

Picked Up from Lake Minnetonka Patch

The city of Wayzata has reached a settlement in a lawsuit with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka (UUCM), ending a four-year legal dispute. The settlement was reached during a court-ordered conference.

The UUCM, represented by attorneys from the Gray, Plant, Mooty Law Firm, filed suit in 2010, charging that Wayzata’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan is discriminatory and denies the church its First Amendment rights. The lawsuit followed a failed application by UUCM in 2008 to rezone land designated for single-family residency. The UUCM has been located on “Piety Hill” in Wayzata since 1965 but desired a new location and facility. The city's Comprehensive Plan has designated the land for residential use for over 42 years.

Under the terms of the settlement, the city, represented by attorneys through the League of Minnesota Cities, agreed to amend its comprehensive plan and rezone two plots of land in the Holdridge neighborhood to a Planned Unit Development (PUD), allowing the church to build its previously proposed plan at that location. The land is currently owned by Robert Dachelet, a member of the church.

In order to reach settlement, the city will also pay UUCM $500,000 in damages, including attorneys’ fees. Finally, the city agreed to assist UUCM in acquiring two other small parcels of land adjacent to the Dachelet property and currently owned by Minnesota's Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

In return, UUCM dismissed its claims and agreed to work through the city’s normal process to apply for and complete its building project. The UUCM must build and occupy a new church on the property within six years, or the land will revert to its previous zoning.

Following the settlement conference, Wayzata Mayor Ken Willcox released this statement:

“This was a difficult situation for us," Mayor Willcox wrote. "We believe the law supports our position and the city has right to control the planning and zoning within its borders through its long-established Comprehensive Planning process. However, it became clear that ending this expensive and detrimental proceeding was in the overall best interest of the citizens of Wayzata."

Mayor Willcox went on to say the city council's first priority was to "uphold the residential nature of our neighborhoods, a characteristic that has defined the city of Wayzata for decades and one which the majority of our residents wish to continue."

"Because this is such an important aspect of our community, we were willing to commit significant resources in its defense," Willcox said. “However, there is a time when the impending financial burden of continuing that fight forces us, as responsible stewards of the city, to shift our priorities from upholding that community value in order to act in the best interest of taxpayers."

As for costs to the city, Mayor Willcox said today's settlement announcement would end years of continuied expenses.

“Clearly, this settlement comes with great cost, not only financially but also to the comprehensive plan for our city," he said. "It is an expense that was undertaken only after much consideration. It became clear that UUCM and its attorneys were prepared to argue this matter to the fullest extent possible, a scenario resulting in potentially years of litigation and significant financial consequences for the City in legal fees alone. For that reason, we have agreed to settle the matter under these terms."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

3 days left

Luffman's Facebook Page

I see Tom "Bunky" Luffman is using his Facebook Page to update the residents of Delmar on his work as a Delmar Maryland Commissioner.

Winter Solstice - 2011

The calender’s “official” first day of Winter, also known as the Winter Solstice
(from the Latin sol, or "sun," and stice, or "come to a stop")

Because of the 23.5 degree tilt of the earth, during the Winter, the northern hemisphere receives less direct daylight than the southern hemisphere and the Solstice marks the SHORTEST day of daylight. This year, this occurs for the Northern Hemisphere at 11:30 pm Wednesday.

It also starts the final countdown as the Mayan calendar finishes one of its great cycles on December 12, 2012, which has fueled countless theories about the end of the world on December 21, 2012 at 11:11(UTC).

Winter - 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ruth Fallis Back In The News

If I had to chose beween my two favorite Delaware criminals it would be hard to decide if it would be Bill Hitch or Ruth Fallis. Both worked as accountants and were in a position of trust. They cast shame on a profession that already has done enough to be ashamed of, working in the pay of banks and Stock brokerage firms and almost causing the financial system to collapse. I picked this up from the News Journal today

WILMINGTON -- Federal prosecutors will be allowed to sell more than 100 pieces of jewelry belonging to a Hockessin woman who was convicted of embezzling from her employer and was ordered to repay more than $1 million.

According to court papers, Ruth C. Fallis -- who now goes by Ruth McCutchan -- distributed dozens of items of jewelry to family and friends after her 2007 conviction on fraud charges in what appeared to be an attempt to hide them from prosecutors.

Chief District Judge Gregory M. Sleet told the parties Tuesday he will issue an order authorizing the sale of the seized items after prosecutors provide him with an order to sign.

In 2006, prosecutors charged McCutchan stole more than $1 million from the Perry Anthony Salon & Spa during the more than 10 years she worked as a bookkeeper at the business, taking cash receipts for herself and writing checks from salon accounts to pay for lavish family trips and renovations at her home.

After pleading guilty to bank fraud and wire fraud -- two of the 52 criminal counts against her -- McCutchan indicated in 2007 on a court financial statement she had only one item of jewelry, a diamond engagement ring worth an estimated $28,000.
Prosecutors, however, found that McCutchan had distributed more than 100 items of jewelry to family and friends following her conviction, including gold necklaces, pearl necklaces, Cartier and Rolex watches, a platinum diamond necklace, gold rings and bracelets and a pin with the words "Celebrate the gift of Jesus."

At a November hearing, according to a transcript, McCutchan denied she was trying to hide anything or deceive anyone and claimed she essentially forgot about the items because she was "a mess" due to the charges and the failure of her marriage. She said she also thought the jewelry "wouldn't even make a dent in what I owe [former employer] Perry [Scarfo]."

McCutchan claimed the only reason prosecutors knew about the jewelry was because her ex-husband -- former state labor secretary Matthew Fallis -- was angry with her and told prosecutors about the items, something prosecutors denied. McCutchan, without an attorney, contested the sale of the items, claiming some had sentimental value to her and she hoped the sale of some real estate she owned in North Carolina would instead fully compensate the Internal Revenue Service and her former employer, Scarfo.

According to prosecutors, McCutchan covered up her thefts from Scarfo by not making the salon's quarterly tax payments.

When Judge Sleet looked at the list of jewelry items that McCutchan wanted to keep ownership of in November, he said it did not appear any would be exempt from the plea agreement she signed with the government in which she promised to turn over her assets.

"I guess I was just hoping, your honor," McCutchan responded.
Federal prosecutors estimated that several of the items will likely have a value of more than $1,000 but prosecutors did not have an estimate for the total worth of all the items that McCutchan stashed with family and friends.

Sleet initially delayed making a ruling in the case in November, hoping both sides could reach an agreement. However, no agreement was reached, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon Hanson, leading to Tuesday's ruling.

In November, prosecutors said McCutchan had repaid only about $4,000 of the more than $1 million she owes the Internal Revenue Service and Scarfo.
Hanson said Tuesday that McCutchan has completed the three-year prison sentence that was imposed in 2007.

China Needs You

Snap out of it - The Final Countdown is on - Get out there and buy.

DNREC Press Release - Delmar's wastewater treatment facility

Delmar’s new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility unveiled
Plant provides significant clean water benefits, protecting public health and the Chesapeake Bay

DELMAR, Del./Md. (Dec. 20, 2011) – Delmar’s new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility was unveiled today at a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included dignitaries from Delaware, Maryland, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They were joined by representatives from local construction and engineering companies who worked for more than a year to transform the outdated facility to an innovative, effective wastewater treatment plant that protects the health and safety of families and provides significant clean water benefits for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Delmar Mayor Michael Houlihan (Delaware) was joined by Governor Jack Markell, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del), Senator Chris Coons (D-Del), EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin, Maryland Department of the Environment Deputy Secretary for Planning and Policy David A. Costello, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara and other officials to announce the expansion and upgrades at the facility.

“Here in Delmar, we celebrate efforts by two towns in two states to make clean water a top priority,” said Governor Markell. “Investments made here at the Delmar wastewater treatment facility pay tremendous dividends. They are supporting local jobs and businesses while providing clean water that protects the health of families and helps ensure the water quality of our precious rivers and streams and Chesapeake Bay Watershed.”

Investments at the plant were made possible by EPA funding, the states of Delaware and Maryland, and the town of Delmar. Funding totaling approximately $7.4 million was secured from a $2 million EPA grant to Maryland under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a Maryland Department of the Environment grant of more than $3.3 million, a Delaware Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan of about $1.3 million, a $480,000 grant from the EPA, and local funds from the Town of Delmar of about $320,000. Delaware’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund investments are supported by EPA capitalization grants and State of Delaware matching funds.

“Supporting infrastructure projects like this one is one way to help protect and preserve our precious natural resources for years to come and is just the kind of project I had in mind when I supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act several years ago,” said Senator Tom Carper. “This is a great example of what partnerships between federal, state and local governments can do to keep our environment clean, our communities healthy, and grow our economy.”

“I am proud to work in the U.S. Senate to build communities and create jobs. This federal investment to improve Delmar’s sewage treatment system will do just that,” Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski said. “Maryland cities and towns need to upgrade their water and sewer infrastructure but they can't do it on their own, and rate payers shouldn't have to bear the full burden. This grant is a double value for the taxpayer dollar, creating jobs while improving health and safety and helping this community grow.”

“Improving water quality, protecting public health and creating jobs are just a few of the many benefits of Delmar’s new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility,” said Senator Chris Coons. “This project demonstrates the importance of infrastructure improvements and how two states and various levels of government came together for the common good. The upgrades at the facility translate into a brighter future for those served by the plant and for our treasured Chesapeake Bay.”

“We in Maryland know the value of clean water, from our local streams to the Chesapeake Bay. But our nation’s water infrastructure is reaching a tipping point and the increasing dysfunction of our systems pose risks to human health and safety and environmental quality,” Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, said. “Especially in today’s economy, the projected economic benefits of water infrastructure investment and the job opportunities associated with repairing and upgrading our water infrastructure are substantial. Regional projects like the Delmar Wastewater Treatment Facility make a positive difference in the daily functioning of so many families and local businesses.”

“The new wastewater facility unveiled today is the type of investment we need to create jobs and strengthen the economy while also protecting the environment,” said Congressman John Carney (D-Del). “The partnership that helped create this facility resulted in jobs for Delaware workers, cleaner water for the entire community, and improvements to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed that will help preserve it for generations to come.”

Located in Maryland, Delmar’s wastewater treatment facility serves 2,900 residents who live in Maryland and the almost 1,500 residents who live on the Delaware side of town. Originally built in the mid-1980s, the plant was expanded to treat 30 percent more wastewater than the old treatment facility – a total of 850,000 gallons of wastewater per day – meeting the capacity needs of Delmar now and into the future.

The facility employs cutting-edge clean water technologies that meet stringent pollution control limits set by the State of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay ‘pollution diet’ or TMDL. Last year, EPA and the seven jurisdictions in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed put in place the TMDL. The TMDL, or Total Maximum Daily Load, is the maximum amount of a pollutant that a body of water can receive and still meet water quality standards that protect humans and aquatic life. The watershed’s TMDL will substantially reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution entering our streams and rivers flowing to the Bay, improving the health of the Chesapeake, our nation’s largest estuary and one of strongest contributors to the region’s economy.

“I’m proud of this regional collaboration and EPA’s role in providing more than $3.4 million that was successfully leveraged for these long-needed upgrades to Delmar’s wastewater treatment plant,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “This water infrastructure project is helping improve the health of local waterways and ultimately will benefit the Chesapeake Bay by substantially reducing this plant’s loadings of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution by as much as 85 percent.”

Last week, Maryland, Delaware and the other Bay jurisdictions submitted draft localized plans to implement the Bay TMDL. For the first time in the history of regional and federal cooperation to restore the Chesapeake Bay, local governments have the opportunity to ensure that restoration efforts meet local constituent needs. The reductions in pollution from Delmar’s wastewater treatment plant will help Maryland meet its state-wide nutrient pollution limits.

"Maryland is working with our local municipalities and counties on the most detailed plan yet to improve the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Upgrading our largest wastewater treatment plants is a critical part of that effort," Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers said. "Improved and restored waterways directly and positively impact our drinking water, are vital to public health and our quality of life, and these efforts create and support jobs."

“Across Delaware strategic investments in clean water infrastructure are creating construction jobs, improving water quality, and building stronger and healthier communities,” said Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O'Mara. "By ensuring that our local rivers and streams are drinkable, fishable, and swimmable, we will improve our state's economic and environmental health today and leave a legacy of environmental stewardship for the betterment of future generations.”

“This upgrade project was very significant to Towns of Delmar as it will have a major impact on our contribution to protecting the watershed. We are grateful for the collaborative efforts of federal, state (MD/DE) and local funds that made this major upgrade to the Wastewater Plant possible,” said Delmar, Del. Mayor Michael Houlihan.

The facility was upgraded to include the addition of biological and enhanced nutrient removal systems that effectively reduce pollutants – nitrogen and phosphorus loadings from entering the waterways that drain into the Chesapeake Bay. An outdated chlorine disinfection system was replaced with a new ultra violet (UV) disinfection system, reducing the hazards of chlorine to the public, the operators and the environment. Other upgrades include a state-of-the-art screen and grit removal system, new influent and effluent pumps that increase the reliability of plant operations, new waste activated return and sludge pumps, and a power backup generation system.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Delmar’s Wastewater Treatment Facility Ribbon Cutting.

I went to the Ribbon Cutting for Delmar's wastewater treatment facility this afternoon. Big turnout of politicians and State officials. Notably missing were Maryland Officials everyone from Delmar Mayor Anderton, Commissions Gibb, Commissioner Ring, Vice Mayor Wells but Commissioner Tom Luffman was there. No Maryland Governor nor any underlings, except David Costello who is a nice guy. Delmar Delaware Vice Mayor Mary Lee Pase, Councilmen Gregory Smith, and Robert Thompson were there. Generally it was a big photo op.

Delaware Senator Coon, Delaware Gov Markell, Maryland State Delegate Mike McDermott, Delmar Delaware Mayor Mike Houlihan

Delaware NREC Secretary Collin P. O’Mara, Maryland Dept. of the Environment Deputy Secretary for Planning and Policy David A. Costello, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator (Region 3) Shawn M. Garvin, and Delaware Senator Chris Coon

The Governor, senators and the above people have mastered the art of having a permanent smile on their face.

Mayor Houlihan gave the opening remarks and introduced a ton of people. I thought he did well.

Gov Markell gave his create jobs thru infrastructure speech

Senator Carper gave his speech

Senator Coon gave an uplifting talk. It was the first time I heard him talk and he he is good.

Finally after all the talk a ribbon cutting took place.

Mayor Houlihan telling the world (or at least WBOC) about the Sewage Treatment plant.

Investments at the facility were made possible by a collaborative effort among the states of Delaware and Maryland, the EPA, and the Town of Delmar. The improvements have long-lasting benefits – protecting the health and safety of families, ensuring cleaner, healthier water quality for our waterways, while creating and supporting jobs.

"Local" construction and engineering companies have worked for more than a year to transform the outdated facility.

If you believe the politicians the renovation transformed an outdated plant to an innovative, effective wastewater treatment plant that will now protect the health and safety of the local community. No doubt the way the Federal Government and States work we will be renovating it once again next year. lets face it with the number of government employees we have, they have to justify their jobs someway.

It was a toss up as to rather U.S. EPA Regional Administrator (Region 3) Shawn M. Garvin or Gov. Markell had the best shined shoes.

Bring One for the Chipper

Christmas tree recycling – a Delaware post-holiday tradition – carries on statewide

Take your tree to a drop-off site or yard waste recycling facility

DOVER (Dec. 2, 2011) – Delawareans are encouraged by DNREC to add the spirit of recycling to their holiday season this year by delivering their Christmas trees to one of many yard waste recycling facilities located throughout the state. Please note that Christmas trees are no longer accepted for recycling at any Delaware State Park locations.

Christmas trees will be accepted from families only for recycling at yard waste drop-off sites from December 27 through January 27, 2012. Trees will not be accepted from commercial haulers or tree vendors without prior approval. Artificial decorations, including hooks, wire, tinsel and ornaments, as well as wood and metal tree stands, must be removed from all trees before they are dropped off for recycling.

“Many Delawareans have been recycling their Christmas trees every year and we encourage everyone to continue this eco-friendly tradition or establish it for the future,” said Bill Miller, program manager in DNREC’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Section. “These trees are a product of nature and recycling them is a wonderful way to give back to the environment.”

Christmas tree recycling also is another way of complying with the state’s ban on disposal of yard waste. At least 17 percent of residential waste is composed of grass, leaves, brush, trees and other lawn maintenance and landscaped materials. Prior to Delaware’s yard waste ban, these materials – considered a resource for composting and reuse rather than waste – were deposited into landfills, taking up valuable space and limiting local markets for mulch and compost products. In 2010, over 110,000 tons of yard waste was diverted from our landfills and beneficially recycled.

There are many entities that collect Christmas trees, including various waste haulers and landscapers. Your regular trash hauler may offer a one-time collection for Christmas trees in January, and Kent County will collect Christmas trees from January 9 -20 (on your regular trash day) for people in a trash district that has yard waste collection service. For a partial listing of entities that collect Christmas Trees and other yard waste, go to: and click “Yard waste collection options.”

Meanwhile, please note that Christmas trees, stripped of all decorations and detached from tree stands, can be dropped off by Delaware residents for free at any of the following locations:

New Castle County

Polly Drummond Hill Community Yard Waste Demonstration Site
Located in the Pike Creek area on Polly Drummond Hill Road, about 1/2 mile north of Kirkwood Highway.
Hours: Daily 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. unless otherwise posted.

DART Mid-County Community Yard Waste Demonstration Site
Located on the southwest corner of the intersection of U.S. Route 13 and Route 72 near Bear. (Turn into the DART facility at 1423 S. Dupont Highway, Bear.)
Hours: Daily 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. unless otherwise posted

Copeland’s Mulch Depot (free if the tree was purchased at Copeland’s; otherwise $2)
2 Honeysuckle Drive, Stanton, DE 19804; (phone 302-633-9536)
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.*
Closed the last week in December

Holland Mulch
135 Hay Road, Edge Moor, DE 19809 (phone 302-765-3100)
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 a.m. - noon*

Wilmington Organic Recycling Center
612 Christiana Avenue, Wilmington, DE 19801 (phone 302-266-7678)
Hours: Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Saturday, 6 a.m. - noon*

Sussex County

Blue Hen Organics
33529 Fox Run Road, Frankford, DE 19945 (phone 302-732-3211)
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.*

Grizzly’s Landscape Supply Service
18412 The Narrow Road, Lewes, DE 19958 (phone 302-644-0654)
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.*

Kaye Construction
22288 Coverdale Road, Seaford, DE 19973 (phone 302-629-7483)
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.*

Selbyville Pet and Garden Center (free for active customers within the last 6 months)
38205 DuPont Boulevard, Selbyville, DE 19975 (phone 302-436-8286)
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.*

Stockley Materials
25136 DuPont Boulevard, Georgetown, DE 19947 (phone 302-856-7601)
Hours: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.*

Sussex Tree Inc. Garden Center
20144 John J. Williams Highway, Lewes, DE 19958 (phone 302-645-6262)
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.*

*Please note that private businesses accepting trees may alter their hours of operation during the holidays.

Facilities that charge a fee for dropping off other yard waste will continue to charge regular rates for recycling other yard waste during this time – only Christmas trees will be recycled for free.

Other locations throughout the state also accept Christmas trees for recycling for a fee. For information on all yard waste drop-off sites in Delaware, go to: and click “Yard waste drop-off options.”

There are many entities that collect Christmas trees including various waste haulers and landscapers. For a partial listing of businesses that collect Christmas Trees and other yard waste, go to: and click “Yard waste collection options.” You may find other options in your local phone book or classified ads.

For more information about yard waste, visit DNREC’s website, or call 302-739-9403.

Monday, December 19, 2011

How to Deal with Difficult People During Holidays

No No not dealing with me, you know I am a joy to be around at Christmas Time or anytime, this is about those other difficult people. I picked this up from FindLaw and thought it may be of interest and help. After all not all families and friends get-to-gathers are like those rosy Norman Rockwell pictures and sappy Hollywood movies.

In a greeting-card-perfect-world, the holidays would come and go each year soaked in the golden glow of pumpkin pie, eggnog, warm fellowship, and good cheer. In reality, however, the season is far from being a Norman Rockwell painting. It usually heralds the (often stressful) onslaught of obligatory family dinners, office parties, and reunions with old acquaintances. As a result, we often find ourselves forced to socialize with people we'd rather avoid altogether. Ever notice that there's at least one person in every social network who is an absolute displeasure to be around? Christina Eckert calls them "Wackos"--and she says they're as common this time of year as turkeys, tinsel, and Santa hats.

"'Tis the season to beware of the potential threat that lurks by every punch bowl or in every fireside wing chair," says Eckert, author of the new book Winning Against the Wackos in Your Life: How to spot them and stop them in their tracks ((c) 2007, Larstan Publishing, ISBN-10: 0-97768958-1, ISBN-13: 978-0-97768958-3, $14.95). "The Wackos you manage to avoid the rest of the year seem to be out in full force during the holidays."

Eckert says a Wacko is a wolf in sheep's clothing who shows up in your life and in one way or another makes you miserable. We all know at least one Wacko! He or she may be a nosy coworker, a bullying family member, or a competitive, jealous sorority sister from college. Regardless of how this person first crossed your path, she is here to stay and has a bone to pick with you no matter how pleasant you may be to her.

"Wackos are mentally unstable and will feed off of your vulnerability and passivity if you let them," asserts Eckert. "They often victimize and take advantage of friendly, polite, or timid people because they know that their behavior will be tolerated ... at least for a while."

Eckert is all too familiar with the Wacko agenda. Indeed, her book is packed with personal stories about the unstable individuals she has encountered on her own path. Sprinkled with humor and dry wit, it is a breath of fresh air for anyone seeking refuge from a world of Wackos. And anyone who has suffered the wrath of a Wacko certainly knows the cathartic effect of a good belly-laugh.

Because of the festivities of the season that lasts from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, Eckert says that Wackos practically come out of the woodwork this time of year. The good news, however, is that you are not obliged to stand helplessly in a corner as your crazy coworker, rude relative, or long-lost "friend" barrages you with his problems for hours on end. Eckert says that there are several smart ways to thwart a Wacko's attempts to undermine, manipulate, or victimize you. Read on to learn how you can take a stand and enjoy the holidays this year free from uninvited Wacko-wrath.

Trust your instincts with new acquaintances.

If a person you do not know approaches you at the office Christmas party, listen to your inner voice. It will help you determine whether this is a person you want to talk to. All too often your polite, "Hi, how are you tonight?" can lead to a one-sided chatter marathon from which you can't escape. Friendly and unassuming party-goers become accidental Wacko-hosts, because Wackos thrive from their energy and leave them helpless to get away. If you size up people you don't know before you are approached, you will already have an informed idea of where they fall on the Wacko-meter. Pay attention to people's body language, the decibel at which they speak in the group, and even how they are dressed. (Wackos love to be the center of attention.) You'll be glad you did when you see the same person rambling on to another too-polite-to-fight-it person for the rest of the evening.

Keep your personal life private.

It is okay to have a friendship with a Wacko as long as you maintain boundaries. When you run into your catty sorority sister at your alumni holiday mixer, beware of how much information you divulge. If you look closely, you may see that she is already flexing her claws and waiting to pounce on a disclosure that could become the grapevine's juiciest gossip. Wackos thrive on knowing and spreading dirt, so unless you don't mind one airing your dirty laundry, just keep it to yourself.

Prepare a get-away plan (perhaps up a chimney?).

Whether you have known your Wacko for years or just met him in line to meet Santa, you can get away more easily if you have a previously planned excuse. This provides an escape route should a new acquaintance or a crabby relative start to make you feel uncomfortable. Should this happen, a simple, "Gosh, it's 7:30 already? I'm sorry, but we have to be somewhere at 8:00. Nice to see you. Goodnight!" will get you off the hook and out the door. In fact, if you're attending the event with a spouse, date, or friend, you might want to let him or her in on the "commitment" so no clueless stammering or blank stares will give away your game as you're deploying the plan.

Diffuse ugly scenes with few words.

Unfortunately, the kind of encounters that lead to ugly scenes all too often involve Wackos who are also family members. The holidays breed such encounters simply because we feel obligated to socialize with relatives--sometimes even parents or siblings--we minimize contact with the rest of the year. If you know that Thanksgiving dinner will force you to converse with your hateful mother-in-law, then plan on using as few words as possible if she unleashes a tirade aimed at you. If she says, "Sarah, your ahem ... taste in ... fashion certainly hasn't changed in the ten years you've been married to my son," all you need to say is, "No, it hasn't. Excuse me." Eckert insists that five words or so is all anyone needs to diffuse an attack from a Wacko. Anything more and the Wacko feels like you are trying to justify yourself, which means that he or she has gotten under your skin. Don't give anyone the satisfaction of ruining your holiday. Other great replies to an unexpected attack are, "Too bad you feel that way," "Oh, really? Interesting," and "I need to be going."

Be choosy with your party priorities.

With all the stress and obligation surrounding them, it is difficult to remember that the holidays are about celebration, joy, and relaxation. Nothing can ruin your good time like too many forced social situations where you must interact with all of the crazies in your life. Remember this: You have the right to say NO to some of the invitations you receive during the holidays. For every three invites you receive, beg off at least one of them. You don't have to be at the mercy of those you would rather avoid. If it is too much to be around someone who really gets under your skin, then say, "Thank you very much, but we already have plans." You get to make the decisions about your life. Don't apologize or feel guilty!

If you're worrying that all this Wacko talk seems downright uncharitable during the holiday season, put your mind at ease. Eckert says that most Wackos are mentally unstable and need professional help. You can't save them by being a human punching bag. In fact, by providing an outlet for their bad behavior, you may actually be enabling and perpetuating it.

"If the idea of facing the Wackos in your life this holiday season is overwhelming, it may be time to kindly but firmly cut them out of your life," says Eckert. "The world is full of wonderful people you can share your friendship with. You don't need to associate with toxic friends and family who only make you miserable. True, the holiday season is a time for peace and joy, but you must realize that you deserve to enjoy these gifts as well. It may be very difficult, but de-Wacko-fying your life may be the best present you could give yourself."

The Christmas cartoon

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christine Rousselle and her welfare articles

The News Journal had an Associated Press article on Christine Rousselle who wrote a few articles for the College conservative. Rosselle worked at a Walmart in Maine as a teenager and wrote about her experiences with Welfare and Food Stamps being used in the store. One example is here. It is interesting altho I do not totally agree with her experience. I do know there seems to be "professional" welfare recipients who know how the system works and makes the maximum use of it, however there are many and I do mean many who uses food stamps due to the economy and I do not believe they abuse the system.

Random Thoughts on Shopping at Christmas Time

Have you looked at the faces of the people in the checkout lines? They are not smiling and happy; if anything they just seem disgusted.

Speaking of stores and shopping, the current female dress of tights and striped socks and other apparel reminds me of the fashion the women that would stand outside the People Drugs Store in Washington DC in the 1970’s. By dress you could tell they were hookers so why do today’s women want to dress like them?

I tend to frequent Thrift Stores and Flea markets due to my limited income and they may be the last places you can find American Made Goods (second hand). A number of these stores have outreach programs that provide assistance to people in need. To be at one of these stores on the day the charity is given out tears at your heart as there are so many of them. The number keeps growing regardless what our government says about unemployment. These are the people that our politicians have screwed over in their giving away of America, and still we return them to office so they can enjoy their perks, inflated pensions and police security to prevent them from being killed by the public.

We had a few gifts cards and rebate gift cards that we tried to use this Christmas. What a rip off. We found there were a number of service charges put on them – reducing the amount available to spend, some stores could not get them to work in their Point Of sale machine, other were expired, they are crap. We also have given them in the past but in the future we will give cash. The value of cash may decrease each year with the ineffective actions of our congress and President but at least I have never had it refused.

There are at least three things I see less and less of each year at Christmas time. One is Tinsel, that great clogger of vacuum cleaners. When people had a “real” tree they simply threw the tinsel away with the tree. Now since the majority of people have a “tree in a box” the tinsel has become too much of a problem to pick off when the tree is defrocked and stored, so there is less demand of tinsel.

Another item you don’t hear much of is “The Christmas Bonus”. Growing up in a time when there were many small stores and businesses the owners almost always gave a Christmas bonus. Now with "Big Box" stores and just general crappiness of companies they all plea hard times and give their employees nothing or maybe a cheap ass frozen turkey or a $20 gift card. They then turn around and award their executives with multimillion dollars bonus.

A third thing is liquor. In the 1950’s and up thru the 1970’s I remember businesses gave liquor at Christmas by the case load. I remember working for a small construction company in the 1970’s and the company gave bottles and cases of liquor away to everyone from the local police department, to customers, to town and state officials and to employees. You can view it as bad or good but it certainly kept the Lower Shore Counties’ liquor dispensaries in full time business at Christmas.

I average about three to four cartloads of items a week this time of year that I simply leave standing in the floor of the store and I leave because the checkout line is so long and screwed up (probably people trying to get their gift card to work). Maybe it is a Man thing or maybe because I am retired I know I am not limited in shopping time - only money. Michaels is one of the worst, with Kohl's a close second. I will say I was in Kohl's on Friday and apparently the upper management was down inspecting so everyone was helpful for a change and the checkout lines were working at an acceptable pace. I have been in Kohl's and stood in line while the cashiers talked to one another while a line of four or five people stood there waiting. I was not one of those people of course because I had tossed my Chinese made crap on the floor and left.

Christmas shopping was easier when I was single - just race into a drugstore on Christmas Eve and say "Give me 12 of those Chia Pets and gift wrap them" Now days you can't find a drug store that gift wraps, but chia pets are still around.

Too Far

You know my outlook on recycling - only recycle if there is money in it for you - not the state. I was reading this on Borderstan blog

From Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and tell her your news on Twitter @MichLancaster or email her at

Homemade Cat Litter Earns a Fine
A Dupont Circle woman has been fined a total of $2,000 for throwing away her homemade (shredded paper) cat litter in her trash can, reports DC’s Fox 5. A Department of Public Works (DPW) inspector has dug through her trash — part of the job — and found the paper along with “other paper items” that should be recycled. And the Director of DPW has stood behind the inspector’s actions and fines, despite protests from DC Councilmember Jack Evans. Evans argues DPW has gone too far in rifling through trash of apartment and condominium owners, and as much as I love the earth… I have to say I agree with him.

The Vienna Luminaria Display - 2011

My daughter and I drove over to see the Luminaria display in Vienna last night. Amazing, really amazing to see that many lumanarias. I read there were 1,500 of them. They were spaced out, with military precision, every fifteen feet or so. They were made up of the usual paper bag, with a lit candle stuck in a 2X4 in the bottom of the bag. Altho it was not overly breezy last night many bags were on fire.

Open House Tours were part of the evening also.

The effort it must take to put on something like this is just beyond me. Vienna must have some real town spirit to take on something like this.