Happy July 4th!

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And The Heart That Fed

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Fourteen Lines

ozymandias The Relic of Ramses II that inspired Ozymandias

Ozymandias

by Horace Smith

IN Egypt’s sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desart knows:—
“I am great OZYMANDIAS,” saith the stone,
“The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
“The wonders of my hand.”— The City’s gone,—
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder,—and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro’ the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.


Ozymandias

by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822)

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage…

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Gehrig & The Babe

Last year was my first ever time at the new Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, I never made it to the old one. To get there, we took the train and had to walk by where the old stadium was across the street. The area has now been turned into a public park and there were plenty of people out and about as the crowds gathered for the daytime game we attended. How much history we were walking by. From our seats, we could see the memorials and the retired numbers. Reading Tony Castro’s Gehrig & The Babe has helped some of those numbers mean a lot more now.

Mr. Castro goes through the backgrounds and history of the two of the men, who for many people, are baseball, while at the same time analyzing their relationships both with each other, their teams, their families, and the world at large.

Are there any earth shaking surprises? No. Yet for someone like myself who glazes over at the statistics and likes watching the game for the game, this book is a huge help in gaining the background needed to understand why baseball is The Sport for a lot of people.

Come and Get Your Wall

Ms. French,
I am writing in regards to the Resilient Bridgeport’s proposed version of what appears to be a wall in Bridgeport.  I have had a few people reach out to me to ask me questions about this as I am involved with the local environmental community in the Greater Bridgeport area.
My first question, and no disrespect to yourself, but what does the CT Department of Housing have to do with this and why is this going to Hartford if this involves Bridgeport?  Also, why is a group from Delaware involved?  Who wrote the website?  The language runs in circles and in some cases is clearly misleading.  The opening line I read was, “today, water ponds in low-lying areas”.  It’s a scientific fact from the beginning of human observation that water always follows the path of least resistance.  Water has always “ponded” in low-lying areas and will always “pond” in low-lying areas whether one lives in Connecticut or anywhere else in the world.
Another question, who is funding all of this, the meetings, paying University of Bridgeport for the space, the website, the materials to promote this?  Why does Bridgeport get to be the test case when I’ve had my share of driving through flooded streets in New Haven, Norwalk, Stratford, and even Fairfield?
I have spent and spend a lot of time walking Seaside and the surrounding area as it has a gorgeous vista and I enjoy the water and scenery.  I don’t understand the rationale behind a “barrier”/ “flood control”/ “wall” that only goes through certain parts of the City and skirts the major plants that spend millions of dollars, or maybe billions, of dollars trying to maintain their infrastructure and also skirts the area of Captain’s Cove, also highly prone to flooding. 
Also, why on earth is one end of Seaside Park going to be completely blocked off?  Isn’t the purpose of the Park to improve the quality of life, as you so highly talk about on the website?  Won’t this stop people from walking and exercising in the Park, or is this the subliminal intent? What about all of the people who live near the entrance?  Won’t they be blocked in?  Won’t this increase crime?  Traffic congestion?  How are emergency vehicles supposed to respond?  How are the huge fire trucks supposed to turn around with a wall?  Fire hydrants?  What happens to those?  What if an ambulance can’t get through to someone having a heart attack in the Park because of that wall?  What then?  One life for the sake of what?  
What happens if the wall doesn’t work and it still floods?  What are people supposed to do?  What’s going to happen to their houses?  The Eliza Freeman Houses?  History is just going to be swept away, or people just just don’t care about history anymore?
What is this wall going to be made out of?  Water is the strongest element on Earth due to it’s chemical composition and my experience with contractors is they like the use the cheapest materials available.  Right now everyone in Connecticut is paying $12 on home insurance because pyrrhite was used to build houses in the greater Hartford area and the foundations are crumbling.  The homeowners have no help and little recompense.  Are you going to personally guarantee something like this is not going to happen?
I spent many years building with Habitat for Humanity in the 1990s when the City of Bridgeport put up concrete barriers thinking they were going to solve all of the crime problems.  They were a nightmare and did nothing.  I remember driving around trying to find locations and running into those barriers and having to circumnavigate them to get to where I was going.  I wonder how many people died waiting for help because those barriers were there.
Then there is the drainage/ catch basin idea.  Nature has already created everything we need for natural drainage control.  Unfortunately, we don’t listen and don’t research.  There is a grass called spartina, there is the fragmites that are native to Connecticut and that maintain a species biodiversity of 24 species, there are ribbed mussels, oysters, there are trees, there are native grasses that can be planted.  
I don’t know who put all of the rocks at Seaside Park that edge the water now.  However, all of the natural plants have been stripped away.  If the initiative was taken to put in grasses that aren’t European grasses, grow ribbed mussels and oyster beds, spartina, and other native species, I guarantee you within 5 years you will have a greatly improved environmental impact and a greatly improved flooding situation.  You can grow them in and outside of the park.
As for the streets, the City of Bridgeport gave United Illuminating carte blanche to cut down trees.  Now the impact is being felt.  There are plenty of tree species that are fully adapatable to urban environments.  If you want a list, I am happy to provide one or you can contact the National Arbor Day Foundation and they will gladly assist you.  Additionally, downtown New Haven surrounding Yale University, has storm water run-off drains that are pleasingly aesthetic to the area and do not interfere with pedestrian or vehicle traffic.  Have you researched these?  Perhaps the University of Bridgeport would prefer these over pipes and walls?  They have shrubbery and grating.  Before you begin more piping and more basins, look around and see what other areas have done.  Give property owners plants that they can plant in their yards or on the medians or their curbs that will sop up the water before they hit the streets.  Butterfly bushes are most excellent for this.  Wouldn’t twenty thousand of these be cheaper and much prettier and improve the quality of life over pipes?  You plant them and they are very low maintenance and meanwhile they prevent flooding, even for houses as they suck in water before it can go into basements.  Their roots are shallow, they don’t crack foundations, and they are beautiful to look at and provide support for many species of animals.  I have three planted in my own yard for this very reason and I am always looking for more.  I have no problems with floods or pooling water.
The website speaks of safety.  It’s been proven in study after study that the more trees and wildlife you have that it improves everything from mental health to property values.  I don’t understand how “retrofitting” sewer pipes does this.  Stratford has spent millions on this exact same thing and the same areas still flood.  Even in Petra, Jordan, the ancient Romans created a magnificent sewer system and the area still floods when hit with winter rains because the system can’t catch everything. 
The website also talks about “green” areas with the water being channeled into them.  I’m confused.  I thought you wanted all of the water to go out? All I can think of is bugs and more bugs.  Don’t you want to attract birds to eat the bugs?  Maybe a wildlife sanctuary? Maybe a skate park, a possible “recreational area”, since the one was taken down in Seaside.  Maybe a combination of the two?
This plan has a lot of vague language and unanswered questions and smells of corruption.  This can be much better thought out and better solutions can be found.
Thank you for your time.  Have an awesome day.

SB 874

Dear Honorable Members of the Connecticut Education Committee,
I am writing to you with regards to the proposed language addition to Section 17 and Section 18 of SB 874.
I am respectfully requesting that this proposed language addition not be added.
I know you are going to hear many voices today for and against this.  As someone who works in both the education and medical fields, I am strongly against this very Orwellian language and doublespeak and very outright discriminatory practice.
This language requesting that homeschoolers, and only homeschoolers, are mandated to go and “register” with their local school board smacks of economic and social strata discrimination.  Why only homeschoolers?  What happened to those who attend private school and boarding schools within the State of Connecticut?  If parents and guardians of one group are forced to go and “register”, then all parents and guardians, no matter where their child or children attend school, should register.  What about the children who attend religious based schools or private academies outside of their municipality of residence?  Shouldn’t they be registered with their own municipality, or maybe both, so both municipalities can receive money from the State for this child or children who, even though a resident, does not attend the local public school district so the local district or districts can benefit off of the child or children that do not attend their schools?
I can tell you from personal experience on many fronts that parents who send their children to private schools and who homeschool still pay the same taxes and still share the same responsibilities of parenting and providing for the well-being of their children as any family in the public school system.  Yet, they share and shoulder and addition burden of providing services on their own, yes, on their own, of finding sports leagues and non-public school provided activities because they are discriminated against because their children do not attend the public schools.  I have only heard of one district in the entire state of Connecticut that allows private school students and homeschoolers to participate in public school activities.  This is clear, outright, discrimination.  If we all pay taxes and a parent can provide verification that they reside full-time in a municipality, all children under the age of 18 should be allowed to participate in public school provided services and activities.  
In summation, please do not pull an Orwell on one group of people.  If one group must register, then all children should be registered and then the local school district can receive funding for all children, whether or not they attend the local schools.  Isn’t this fair to everyone?  Isn’t this what Connecticut education law talks about, a fair and accessible education?   That way, the school district is still getting money for all the children in private schools and who homeschool and it doesn’t matter who is doing what?  Also then, the districts can allow the parents who don’t send their children to the schools to have a say about school policies as well, correct?  Additionally, the school district can also have a much larger database of people’s personal information to sell and hire more levels of bureaucracy. Is this the intent?  Or is the intent to do what is “best” for the child or children based on the words, assumptions, misguided beliefs, and mistakes of a handful of bureaucrats and not the people who are out there everyday in the trenches trying to help, teach, and educate people?
I spend my days trying to help people who need help and want to succeed, who want a better life for themselves and their family.  I have worked with students in public, private, and homeschools.  It doesn’t matter where a child gets an education from, it depends on the people taking care of that child.  Think about Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass. I mention them here for a reason. There are good and bad seeds in all walks of life, you hearing and reading this know that from life learning and experience.  You also know being part of one group does not automatically make you a good or bad person.  This discriminatory language is saying all homeschoolers are bad and therefore must be controlled where any quick scan of the headlines will tell you about the abusers who walk the hallways of your local private school or public school district.  No background check system is going to catch everyone and there are also those who know the right person or simply slip through or haven’t been caught yet.  Please keep this in mind.
Again, I am respectfully requesting Sections 17 and 18 not be added to SB 874.
Thank you for taking your time to read this.
Angela CapineraStratford, CT

Where Shall We Meet

Fourteen Lines

paul-laurence-dunbar Paul Lawrence Dunbar

On An Old Book With Uncut Leaves

by Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872 – 1906)

Emblem of blasted hope and lost desire,
No finger ever traced thy yellow page
Save Time’s. Thou hast not wrought to noble rage
The hearts thou wouldst have stirred. Not any fire
Save sad flames set to light a funeral pyre
Dost thou suggest. Nay,–impotent in age,
Unsought, thou holdst a corner of the stage
And ceasest even dumbly to aspire.

How different was the thought of him that writ.
What promised he to love of ease and wealth,
When men should read and kindle at his wit.
But here decay eats up the book by stealth,
While it, like some old maiden, solemnly,
Hugs its incongruous virginity


I wonder if you have to be a writer to understand the sadness of this poem?  Only writers think about such things as whether the…

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