“Take Steps In Their Shoes” 2018

By | July 13, 2018

Hey, everyone! “Steps To End Domestic Violence” (our local Vermont non-profit supporting victims of domestic violence, as the name probably indicates) is holding its annual fundraising walk, “Take Steps In Their Shoes“, on October 6. I’m registered to participate and I’d greatly appreciate your sponsorship. All funds raised go toward the fight against domestic violence and in support of victims.

You can sponsor me here:


If your employer matches donations, that’s even better! Their tax ID is 03-0283657 if you need it for your matching.



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Attack of the Wild Turkeys

By | July 11, 2018

We get wild turkeys around our house in Vermont all the time. Sometimes we see whole mobs of ’em sprinting to and fro. But lately we’ve been seeing a few adults shepherding some chicks around. Very cute!

I can’t help thinking this video needs the Imperial March (the “Darth Vader Theme”) synched to it. (If I actually did that, Disney would file a copyright infringement complaint so fast my head would spin. So just imagine it as you watch.)

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Ruined Songs

By | July 7, 2018

Ever had a favorite song get ruined by its getting played at a really inappropriate/bad/awkward time and ever afterwards, finding yourself thinking of said tragedy whenever you hear the song? Like, oh, having your favorite Muddy Waters song playing at the exact moment a huge tree branch falls on your garage and wrecks it … and every time thereafter you hear Muddy Waters you flinch, expecting a tree to come through the roof?

I used to be a big Creedence Clearwater Revival fan. Not that I ever went to any of their concerts — they broke up when I was what, five? But I enjoyed their music.

Then came the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech. I’m an alumnus of Virginia Tech. I’m also a native of Blacksburg. I was a thousand miles away when it all went down, but I couldn’t help being … rather upset each time I saw a news anchor reporting from the campus and sharing each new detail about the shootings and the deaths.

Don’t see the connection with CCR?

Well, Fox led off the 2008 Orange Bowl (pitting Virginia Tech against Kansas) pregame show with “Who’ll Stop The Rain”. As an announcer spoke of the incredible tragedy and the Tech community’s attempts to overcome the grief and shock and loss, John Fogerty’s voice was right there wailing “I went down Virginia, seekin’ shelter from the storm” / “Crowd had rushed together, tryin’ to keep warm”.

Never been able to listen to that song since.

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Nostra maxima culpa

By | July 5, 2018
We want to apologize to our fellow Vermont residents for the extremely hot and sunny weather we’ve been experiencing this past few weeks. 
Um, see … we had solar panels put on the roof in mid-June. And, er, apparently the folks at SunCommon (our solar installer) took us seriously when I said “now, make sure we get lots of sunny weather this summer!”
We’ve been merrily cranking out the megawatts over the last three weeks, and even though we’ve run our electric heat pumps (rented from Green Mountain Power) to cool the house much more than we normally would’ve, we’ve still been returning more power to the grid than we’ve actually used:
For what it’s worth, going solar was almost disturbingly painless. SunCommon partnered with our utility, Green Mountain Power, and with the Vermont State Employees Credit Union and all we had to do was sign a couple of forms and get out of their way. VSECU’s green energy loan program made it possible to pay less per month for the solar array and system than we’re currently paying in power bills, and at the end of the loan period, we’ll own the array. Green Mountain Power hooked our array right up to the grid; they’re happy to have additional generating resources coming online and will give us net metering credits for excess power produced, which we can then cash in at night and in the winter. We’re on the waitlist for a couple of Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries; they’ll be installed sometime this year so power from our array can be stored and used locally and as a failover when there is an actual outage in our area.
My only regret is that my father didn’t live to see it. He was always super-interested in solar and even installed a solar hot water array (producing hot water for baths and showers, not electricity) on the roof of our house in Virginia when I was in high school. It didn’t work all that well, if you ask me, but it was the 1980s. Technology has come a long way since then.
I can’t guarantee that everyone across the USA will have the same fantastic results and ease of installation we’ve had; Vermont does have a pretty good green energy apparatus in place and not every state does. But that said, if you do live in Vermont or the Hudson Valley of New York and are interested in talking to SunCommon, you can use our link at https://my.suncommon.com/u/furrs to start the ball rolling. If you use our referral, SunCommon gives us both $100.
Oh, and about the weather: it turns out that really hot weather isn’t actually where you’re going to get max production from your solar panels. Sunny is good, obviously, but the panels produce better when it’s cooler. It’s just a matter of conductivity. Obviously, winter days in Vermont bring obstacles other than cold, namely, snow on panels and shorter days. But that’s why we have 36 panels, to overproduce in the summer so we build up enough net metering credits to get us through the winter.
Ain’t science grand?
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By | June 21, 2018

Today is the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.

My mother died on the day of the summer solstice, a month and a half after her 75th birthday. I wouldn’t remember the date so well if it weren’t for those memory joggers.

Her death did not come as a shock. She’d had a stroke the previous October (that was the shock), and had been in various levels of inpatient care ever since. From ICU to transitional care to rehab facility, with a few trips to the emergency room and back to the ICU when she had severe infections. During that time, she was definitely aware of things, and could speak words clearly, but couldn’t really converse with us. She never became herself again.

Any readers who are Jewish will know that I’m using the term “Yahrzeit” incorrectly. The only thing I knew about Yahrzeit before today, was that Jews have an observance on the first anniversary of a loved one’s death. I read up on it (at this link), and learned that it is normally calculated as the anniversary of the Hebrew date, not the Gregorian date. But that’s not important to me right now.

What does matter to me about Yahrzeit is, I like the idea. I like the idea of observing the anniversary of my mother’s death, because, well, there’s a lot of adjustment to be made when someone dies, and it takes at least a year for it to sink in.

I miss talking to my mom. I missed her during the eight months she was in the hospital, but it wasn’t permanent yet. We had hope that she might get better. After she died, I had to adjust to the fact that I would never talk to her again. I don’t have any regrets about things I said or didn’t say; I think Mom and I had pretty well settled our issues a while ago. I’m glad of that, and I’m glad that I called often and kept talking to her.

Rest in peace, Mom. I love you.

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Bearly There

By | June 19, 2018

I finally set up the game camera Carole bought me last September. We put it out back near the back porch, at a spot where we occasionally toss out food scraps, bread that’s gone stale, stuff we’ve stared at in the refrigerator off and on for days and finally given up on, and so forth. I’ve always assumed that skunks and raccoons and so forth were responsible for the food disappearing overnight, but it appears I may have been thinking too small.

So, one day we tossed out some old meatloaf. That same evening:

We knew we had the odd bear around; we’ve seen bear tracks after snow, and one time a bear ambled through our back yard in the middle of the afternoon. On that occasion, I went pelting outside, smartphone in hand, to try to take photos, but the poor bear just turned and ran into the woods.

We’re not stupid enough to put food or birdseed or anything like that out when bears are waking from hibernation. Early June is probably safe. In any event, Mr Bear didn’t make any trouble for us. He was so stealthy and quiet, it was like he was bearly there at all.

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Orchestrating Change Phase 3 Post Production | Indiegogo

By | May 31, 2018

The Indiegogo fundraising campaign to raise the necessary money to complete post-production on the “Orchestrating Change” documentary is about 58% of the way to its goal.

Please help with a donation and help make this documentary on the legendary Me2/Orchestra a reality.

Me2/Orchestra includes many musicians with mental illnesses and yet creates incredible music. The orchestra hopes to destigmatize mental illness through its performances and its message of unjudging acceptance.


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Rampaging Packs of Wiener Dogs

By | May 31, 2018

Does anyone besides me remember the old Alpo commercials starring Lorne Greene? Greene tended to say things like “Beef: a dog’s natural food.”

Every time I saw one of those commercials, I couldn’t help visualizing a rampaging pack of Dachshunds trying to bring down a bored, cud-chewing longhorn steer and… failing utterly.

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