Water and Sewer Upgrades – For Who???

Once again, another increase!

There seems to be some question as to whether or not the recently approved NPU upgrade to water and sewer in Norwich, Connecticut is designed to benefit the citizens who live in Norwich or those in Baltic and Sprague. I understand [from what I read this morning] that we can expect a 4% water rate increase in 2020 that is only supposed to last two years (yeah right).

When I tell people who live elsewhere what we spend now in Norwich, CT for water and sewer, they can hardly believe it!

I wonder if they bet on the wrong horse at the Kentucky Derby? I wonder if we have been betting on some wrong horses, as well?

The Norwich Bulletin

Last winter I chose to take the Norwich Bulletin up on their offer for a low cost year of unlimited digital access and a regular delivery of the Sunday paper. My wife loves the Sunday paper and especially enjoys clipping coupons and planning our weekly grocery shopping based on who has what and for how much. The value was very good at $20 for a year of Sunday papers and 24/7 access to the e paper. Or so I thought.

I had previously subscribed to the paper with daily delivery, but finally canceled when I often would not get the paper as agreed to. I would get a story about late trucks or an empty promise that someone would bring me a paper (which has never once come to fruition). Such problems have started happening again. There has been more than one occasion in recent times where the front porch held no Sunday paper for us and all a phone call did was waste my time with more stories of late trucks and promises for a delivery that never [not once] happened. For the record, we did find a note in the last paper we received that offered no apology, but did provide the carrier’s name and address so we could send him tips directly and bypass the Hartford Courant — which is now supposedly in charge of delivery services and will keep some or all of his gratuity.

I don’t understand how newspapers — which are at best struggling to be relevant in the information age we live in, can afford to lose customers over poor service? I know that when our subscription ends, I will not be renewing it. I can’t rely on it being delivered. Even at the full price, I would be getting it — if I could count on it. In fact, if these issues had not been so numerous over the past few years, I would still get it delivered 7 days a week. It is a shame such a basic service can’t be fulfilled as advertised. At least that is my personal history with it.

Credit where it’s due…

I must admit that I’ve been impressed with the direction that the Norwich Bulletin has been taking lately and particularly with Ray Hackett, their political editor/blogger. In fact, I went so far as to dash off a poorly-typed email to thank him for his effort and congratulate him on his recent recognition from Gatehouse Media. I’m impressed enough to have recently picked up a subscription to the paper.

One of the things I am most impressed with the Bulletin for is their desire to include candidates not only from the two major parties but also from the lesser-known “third parties” such as the libertarians and the Green Party. Being libertarian in many of my viewpoints, I am most interested in hearing what Paul Passarelli, the libertarian senate candidate, has to say on the issues facing our state and nation.

It should be noted IN A BIG WAY that Linda McMahon’s campaign has failed to respond to requests to have her pay a visit to the Bulletin’s editorial board for a frank discussion on the issues.  I guess that Ray is right (and he’s not alone on this) that she avoids venues that are not able to be ‘scripted.’

AGAIN With The Bulletin ;-(

ImageI just canceled a subscription to the Bulletin newspaper (local to the Norwich, CT area I live in) and wish to spell out the reasons: lack of service, lack of service and lack of service.  In just over a month, there have been two mornings that I had to call and inquire as to why there was no e-edition available for that day.  Moreover, I sent two unanswered e-mails to their I.T. guy to inquire about when they would fix a problem with the two editions (northeast and southeast) they offer that were incorrectly named.  I had downloaded a few editions of what I thought were for the southeast (covering the area I live in) only to discover that the articles I wanted to keep were not there, because the southeast edition was actually the northeast edition and vice-versa.

While being ignored is usually annoying in and of itself, what bugged me more was the fact that he never acknowledged my e-mail.  I didn’t expect much — a simple “thanks for notifying me, “I’ll look into it” [or something similar] would have sufficed.  Maybe they should stick to publishing one edition and try to get that right?

Then I got a call from somebody wanting to know why I had not renewed my subscription (she was calling about an old subscription I had canceled over a year ago at my former address that included a print edition that they could only seem to deliver to me about 3/5 of the time.  I think it was landing in the street and getting picked up, since I found it there more than once.  I guess throwing it on my door step was asking too much).

Then, recently, a new log-in screen appears that rejects my user name and password and tells me that I must sign up and pay lots of $ to access their web site and read their electronic edition.  I don’t think so. I was prepaid for the year and not about to shell out considerably more than I already have for the type of paper the Bulletin is.  Closing the log-in screen denies access to the e-edition and drops you back to their regular Web site.

I finally got a response from their I.T. guy when I e-mailed him about yet another issue and copied the editor and other staff in on the e-mail.  This time, the issue was the new log-in screen for the e-edition, which [at that time] I could just close and proceed to the e-edition, anyway, when it rejected my user name and password — only to discover some pages of that day’s edition and not the whole thing.  This went on for more than one day, let me throw in.  When he got back to me, he explained that the pages I saw when selecting the southeast edition were those that were different from the northeast and that  I would find the rest of it under the northeast edition.  What nonsense.  One thing after another.

All that being said, I called and canceled my subscription and my money is supposed to be refunded.  If you are considering an electronic newspaper subscription and live in the southeastern Connecticut area, I strongly suggest you go with the Day.  I have subscribed to that longer than the Bulletin and have had no problem getting the e-edition on my Kindle and full access to their Web site.  I also seem to find more content  than the Bulletin in their paper — at least it seems that way to me.  they definitely seem to cover the Norwich area fairly well.  What I don’t catch from them in terms of local news I seem to find on the local patch Web sites.  Maybe someday there will be a norwich.patch.com — that would be nice.  Maybe someday, Gatehouse will iron out their problems and service issues — that would be nice, too.

Update

No particular reason for this post, other than to offer a quick update on what has been going on with us in our life and in our new home in glorious Greeneville (Norwich).

We are still continuing the “settling in” process, but the place is looking better and better.  With the help of a friend who is a talented carpenter, we have been able to get several things done (doors replaced/installed, termite damage repaired, siding fixed, etc).  We bought one of those “Amish heaters” in the hopes of reducing our electric bill (the whole house is electric) from Ocean State Job Lot.  The price was about $100 less than competitors.  If its claims are even partially true, it will pay for itself in no time.

With the onset of fall and approach of the holiday season, work on the house is concluded until the spring — barring any sort of unexpected issue.  Sure, there’s projects we’d like to do, but money being what it is, they can wait a while.  We have learned in our time on the planet to keep some resources in reserve for those rainy days that sometimes pop up.

Speaking of issues, Comcast cable has been an ongoing issue -with numerous visits to the house from techs and countless phone calls to people on the other end of the phone who might fare better in a different line of work.  For whatever reason, the signal drops at night, and if the modem is connected to a splitter and sharing the line with the TV in the same room, it goes offline and will only be brought back by removing the splitter or sometimes just waiting until the following day when it may return on its own.  Of course, by the time the cable tech shows up the next day or days later, its daytime and the signal is usually fine.  It’s frustrating, but I put up with it -only because it is still better to deal with that than it is to deal with AT&T and their DSL.  I may get DSL as a backup connection or be forced to switch to it if the situation gets any worse.  Sadly, choices are limited and I would probably get much better service if there were some competition here like there is in Groton and elsewhere.

Anyway, that’s about it.  I’ve been doing a little more posting over at my Tumblr blog (greeneville.tumblr.com) — but it’s more photos/videos and less writing.

Preparing For Irene

It’s Saturday morning and I sit here in front of my computer, sipping coffee and thinking about the day ahead.  The Web sites I frequent are buzzing about Irene, of course – some more than others.  Soon I will leave for Mystic to help prepare our servers for the storm by moving critical systems to a safer location than they currently reside in.  I fear that Mystic is in a much more vulnerable situation than our home in Norwich is.  Hopefully, the museum will be spared much of the carnage that is all too often the result of a hurricane.  To the younger crowd that is often excited about the prospect of a hurricane and looking forward to witnessing one, all I can say is that you will probably feel differently when it’s over – assuming you come through it alright.  If nothing else, let’s see how we deal with the lack of power that usually ensues – something many of us take for granted and have become so dependent on in our modern lives.  I have been through more than one and have never particularly enjoyed any of them.

I have been through hurricanes before, with Gloria being the worst (I lived and worked in Mystic at the time).  Of course, this one will not compare to Gloria, as it has already lost some strength well before its arrival – but nonetheless, it will be bad enough.  The initial rhetoric being tossed about placed Irene between the hurricane of 1938 and Gloria in severity, with some forecasters chanting things like “for most of you in New England, this will be worst storm in your lifetime” and similar talk.  Great for audience retention I suppose, but a bit over the top for my tastes.  In fact, I find some of it offensive and insulting to people’s intelligence.  Many would argue that they cannot underscore the severity of a hurricane – and I get that.  But I hold suspect many of their true motives.

I hate to sound so cynical -but for some, news is money.  Bad news is more money.  I acknowledge that most reporters are likely to be people of integrity -whose sole desire and intention is to inform the uniformed public.  But I also believe there is an element, not so honorable, that likes to cash in on the attention that things like Irene can provide.

The storm is bad, for sure.  Anybody would be a fool not to seek safe haven and take every precaution they can to stay out of harm’s way, stock up on food, water, batteries and what-not.  But after that, as is often the case with things in life, we have just to wait it out and feel the powerlessness we all have over Mother Nature that is all too often forgotten in this dazzling age of technology.

That being said, I shall go about my business today as usual -with some small twists necessary by the pending advent of Irene.  These are the times I am glad I have a Higher Power I can turn to that helps alleviate my fears (if I let Him) and also a time to acknowledge the gratitude I have for living in New England, which is often spared much of the catastrophic weather-related events of the present age.

Best of luck to everybody as we wait out this storm.

OK – here comes some encouraging words from the Bible:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. Psalm 46:1-3,7

To Buy or Not to Buy?

Tomorrow is the home inspection we have arranged for 134 Prospect.  The appraisal came through fine and the house seems suited for the type of financing we are doing, but a second appraisal for FHA is necessary because of the short length of time the sellers have owned it.  We are not liable for that appraisal fee – the seller is.  However, they do not wish to pay for it until after we have the inspection and find there are no major issues with the house.  So there is the potential for us to lose around $1400.00 if something is found that is major and they won’t fix.  While that is certainly better than buying a nightmare, I won’t be too thrilled with losing all that money – for sure.  Our well-considered guess is that it is fine (and I would suspect anything really bad would have been noticed during the appraisal – since it is an FHA thing).

If any more issues turn up with it, we are prepared to walk away from it.  There has been more than one little annoyance with the entire affair.  I guess that is to be expected when dealing with bureaucracy — especially when a large purchase is involved.  I have stuck through this drawn out process because we both like the house a lot and it works for our needs.  However, the neighborhood isn’t the best and the house is hardly a phenomenal deal, making it worth putting up with constant nonsense — especially with the number of properties out there worth considering.  I don’t see the prices going up any time soon, either.  In fact, yesterday I heard a recently released report that indicated a 3.8% decline in pre-existing home sales.  Bad for the market form a seller’s perspective, but certainly to our advantage at this moment in time.

All that being said, we are very pleased with our agent, who has worked very hard for us and demonstrated that she has our best interests in mind.  While we have had some misgivings  here and there about this particular house deal, I have been pleased with our decision to retain her as our agent and help us through this process.

So far, things are looking good with this transaction and I must remember that I am a chronic worrier.

A Whole Other World

Sometimes I forget that the world I live in today is not the same one that I lived in my whole life -and is also one that many people do not live in. Having grown up primarily in good ol’ Mystic, I was not subject to the amount and type of crime I see and hear about living in Norwich.  I guess, to some degree, it’s been a bit of a culture shock.  Not to say that Norwich is necessarily a bad town or city, I rather think it is sadly typical of a great many towns and cities -not just in Connecticut, but the U.S. in general.  In fact, given a choice between Norwich and a city like New London, I’ll take Norwich any day.

So why all this discussion on crime and Norwich?

The house we have made an offer on is in one of the areas of Norwich that is, for lack of better terms, not the most desirable.  There are worse spots to be sure, but there are certainly better ones.  We like the property well enough to overlook that fact (with the hope that things will continue to improve) if we get it at the right price.  The first thing we will have to do is get an alarm system (ADT or similar) installed for peace of mind.  Saturday we went to the carnival down on the city pier.  Shortly after talking to a policeman on duty there about which neighborhoods had more crime in Norwich than others, as we were walking back to the car, we spotted a kid climbing in a smashed SUV window to grab a GPS.  We confronted him and he fled on a bicycle.  Karen’s daughter Morgan and I rode around town in a police cruiser trying to spot him for the police, since we were witnesses, to no avail.  Right in broad daylight in a very busy and visible area is where the kid was doing his dirty work.  Some might say that “takes guts”  (or fill in the blank), but I say it’s stupid and has the signs of a desperate act of somebody feeding an addiction.

Prior to this, during my conversation with the policeman at the carnival, he mentioned that the area we are planning to buy in has several halfway houses.  He said that these houses were filled with addicts and alcoholics and indicated that they tended to relapse a lot and commit crimes, not knowing if I was aware of that.  Not breaking my own anonymity as a recovering person with years in a fellowship, I listened as he talked about the dangers of living near such people.  Once upon a time, I was such a person.  Although I may not have smashed car windows to grab something of value, I am sure I would not have hesitated to make off with things if I thought the opportunity was right.  Surely, smashing car windows in busy areas full of witnesses would not have been beyond the realm of possibility down the road, had not God’s grace intervened -which allowed me to get clean.

That type of life has long since been left behind and often forgotten.  But it is there in many forms in the present day, reminding me to remain vigilant and be of service to others.  That “other world” is alive and well and waiting for me to take up residence once again, should I ever forget “from whence I came.”