Saturday, 15 February 2020

Politics as sport or hobby.

My next door neighbour has the above bumper sticker on her car. My first reaction was "Oh no, how can intelligent people be so stupid?'    She is a retired Medical Doctor.

But it is not a matter of stupidity.   It's all about "politics as sports".

Liberals support CNN, and think that Fox News is Fake (Faux) News.

Conservatives support Fox News, and maintain that CNN is "Very Fake".

That's all well and good if we reduce our civic commitments to a sort of gladiatorial contest.

Reduced to a binary "good v evil" matrix has a feel-good factor for conservatives and liberals alike.  

We post our memes and statements, but forget an essential question: "How does what I say contribute to a richer and deeper citizen-ship?"

With that in mind I beg you to listen to today's edition of the radio programme "The Hidden Brain".

Here is the teaser from National Public Radio:

I beg you so to do.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Three years ago today

I said good bye to my beautiful Penne

At the home of my friends Ron and Char

And then I cried for three whole days.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Suicide and Quadruple Murder: And I officiated at Justine and Luke's wedding.

In March 2019 I was visiting friends in San Antonio, TX when I received a disturbing e-mail from one of my dearest friends, the Revd. Gwen Sears.

It was about a tragic fire in Sheffield MA, and the deaths of Luke and Justine Karpinski and their three children.

Luke spent some of his formative years in Dalton, MA, and attended the parish where I was the Rector, in Pittsfield MA.

He and Justine met at Waconah Regional High School in Dalton, MA, where they were High School sweethearts.

When he was aged about seventeen Luke was visited with a nasty illness called leukemia.  He undertook miserable (but ultimately life saving) treatments at a Boston Hospital.

I traveled from Pittsfield to Boston a couple of times to visit him in the Hospital.  Justine was always at his side - two lovely teenagers in love!

A few years later (maybe 2001) Justine and Luke called to ask if I would officiate at their wedding.    That I gladly did at the Jiminy Peak resort in Hancock, MA.

Then, last year (2019) when I was in Texas, I got the news of the tragic deaths of Luke, Justine, their three children, and their two dogs,  in a fire at their home in Sheffield, MA.

Of course I called Luke's Mom and Dad;  and Luke's dear grandmother "Tommie" (Margaret) Coles.

So much sadness, for so many people.

Ten months later the Berkshire County, MA. District Attorney issued her report.. It, as reported in the Berkshire, MA daily newspaper on Feb 12th , (the Berkshire Eagle),  makes for sad reading. (see below)  

It includes speculative reports about Luke's alleged behaviours,  which could have been omitted.

Today  (Feb 13th 2020)  I had  long, very sad, fruitful and tearful conversation with Luke's parents Paul and Sharon.

For what it is worth,  here is the Berkshire Eagle's story.

Chain of events clearer in 5 deaths
Y HEATHER B ELLOW The Berkshire Eagle
SHEFFIELD — When Luke Karpinski arrived at Undermou nt a i n Elementary School on March 12 to pick up his children, he told the school they needed to leave early because of a dentist appointment. Instead, Karpinski took the three children home and, at some point, killed them, and when their mother arrived home from work he attacked her with a knife and killed her, too. The next morning, he torched the home and took his life. The chain of events that led up to the killings was disclosed publicly for the first time in a voluminous set of reports released Tuesday by the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office.
It suggests that Karpinski’s actions were premeditated, and that his marriage might have been suffering because of a sex addiction, as well as his wife’s mistrust and worry. Karpinski’s history of infidelity, and his wife’s attempts to control his electronics, are possible motives in the killings, according to information gathered by investigators.
Documents from state police detectives also reveal that, based on preliminary toxicology reports, Karpinski, 41, had opiates in his system and possibly other pill fragments in his stomach.
The reports come almost one year after firefighters responding to an early morning blaze March 13 stumbled across the bodies of Karpinski, his wife, Justine Wilbur, 41, and their three children, twins Alex and Zoe, both 7, and Marek, 3.
Soon afterward, District Attorney Andrea Harrington said the slayings appeared to be a murder-suicide, and late last month that was confirmed by the family’s death certificates.
Luke Karpinski

Wilbur’s throat was deeply slit. Karpinski died in the fire and was the only member of the family to have soot in his lungs, the new documents reveal, indicating that he was the only one still alive during the blaze.
But, the children’s cause of death was ruled as “violence of an unknown etiology,” according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The new documents indicate that the fire had made it difficult to determine how the children were killed.
The autopsy found that the twins were wearing the same clothing as they were when Karpinski picked them up from school March 12, as captured by surveillance.
Surveillance at Wilbur’s law firm in Albany, N.Y., showed her wearing the same outfit March 12 in which she was found dead.
But, it has been the lack of clues so far as to Karpinski’s motives that have shaken the community, particularly since local friends and neighbors had said the couple, who both worked in the patent industry, did not show signs of trouble.
But, in a statement to police, a friend of Wilbur’s while the couple lived in Lowell said that Wilbur had told her that Karpinski had been with multiple women, possibly prostitutes, and was addicted to sex and internet pornography. This resulted in Wilbur insisting on “parental controls” for all her husband’s electronics, including the television, and that his affairs were the likely reason the couple moved away.
The couple — both were Dalton natives and high school sweethearts — moved away to pursue their careers and eventually came back to the Berkshires, building the house on Home Road in 2017.
In a Tuesday statement, Harrington issued her condolences to family and friends and said state police, led by the Berkshire Detective Unit, had investigated “above and beyond.”
“I asked the Massachusetts State Police to conduct a thorough investigation in this matter because the victims cannot speak for themselves and I felt that a full accounting of what occurred was in the interests of justice.”
Justine Wilbur
Alex Karpinski
Marek Karpinski
Zoe Karpinski

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

I Have A Handyman Par Excellence

It was Melba H-K who put me on to him.  He has fixed and improved stuff in my home for more than eight years, at reasonable prices, and with great skill.

You probably know that he has been replacing and improving the lighting in my otherwise gloomy kitchen.  He'll finish on Feb 13th. It already looks good.

As he worked  today he saw that the light in the extractor fan over my oven was not working.

I knew this.  There was a time when I could jiggle the switch to make the light work.  That time ended about a year ago.

My handyman had a replacement switch in his treasure stove. He didn't need to seek my permission to install the new switch, so he did so, much to my happiness.

So now I can use the range-top in good light.

All things bright and beautiful - an improved  hood light.

My kitchen is small.  In the ideal world it would be totally  re-modeled. That would be a frivolous expense at my age.

So I will gladly settle for minor but essential improvements,  at the hands of my good handy man.

His business card describes him as a "Master Tinkerer".

That's just the kind of guy I need!

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Kitchen-less for a couple of days.

I am, not before time, having the lighting in my kitchen replaced, and greatly improved. 

It's been so poor that I couldn't see the end of my nose.

Therefore my kitchen has been out of use all day.  

I had a hearty breakfast, skipped lunch, and invited myself to dinner with my friends Donna and Jack Chrisman, and their daughter Ashley Lloyd.

It was a very fine dinner prepared by Ashley: a salad with baby spinach and heirloom tomatoes, and some wonderful pork loin with pasta and delicious sauce.

Shall I say d e l i c i o u s,   better than anything I could/would cook.

The kitchen work is three quarters done and will be finished by Wednesday evening.

This is good -  I have worked in an ill-lighted kitchen for many years - all too long.

This is bad -  I'll have to find new excuses to savour and enjoy Ashley's cooking!

"It all makes work for the working man to do". 
(Michael Flanders and Donald Swann)

P.S.  Did I tell you that dessert was home-made Baklava, purchased at the Sarasota/Manatee GLENDI festival  at St. Barbara's Greek Orthodox Church?

Monday, 10 February 2020

This guy takes great photo's ( and he is my brother David) )

1.  There is a southern English prejudice against northern England.   We (including I,  who was born and raised in south west England) all too easily fall into the trap of seeing the north as a post industrial waste land.  "It ain't necessarily so!"

2.  My good brother Dave Povey has a keen eye (and a fine  camera)  for a good photo'. His pics were taken at Pennington Flash Country Park, Lancashire, U.K., which is near to the post industrial borough of Wigan, Lancs.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Sarasota FL, 9th Feb 2020: The Great and the Ghastly

N.B.  All of the photo's in this entry are from stock, i.e. not taken by me.


My good friend Ashley and I decided to go out for breakfast this  morning. We looked for a place which would be  much, much better than the national chains; and better than a local greasy spoon.  

We chose well and ate at "The Rosemary" on Orange Ave., a block north of Fruitville Rd.

The food was superb and the service was first class Our server attended to our needs without wanting to be our best friend!  She was great.

Ashley had the
 ST. GEORGE OMELETTE Mushrooms, Sautéed Onions, Diced Tomatoes & Brie Cheese. Served with Choice of Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Patty’s Cheese Grits or Fresh Fruit.

I opted for
BERMUDA FISH CAKE BENEDICT  Fresh White Fish, Poached Egg, Key Lime Hollandaise & Diced Tomato. Served with Choice of Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Patty’s Cheese Grits or Fresh Fruit. (Eggs benny served on a fish cake not on an English Muffin)

Breakfast this morning was a rare and delicious treat for both of us.


Later in the day as I drove away from my local Publix Supermarket I noticed a thin and gaunt man who was (even though I could not hear him) clearly berating a woman who was loading her car with groceries. The man wandered off into his own darkness.

I stopped, and called out to the woman " was that man insulting you?".  "Yes", she said.  I countered with "I am very sorry that it happened".  

She, light skinned, and wearing "western dress", with a hijab responded "we are Muslims and we are used to this.  We just keep quiet and do not respond."

I again said " I am very sorry that this happened to you."

What a ghastly, irrational, and inconsistent thing to happen.  Here in Sarasota we ooh and aah at the quaint "folkloric" dress worn by our winter female Amish guests, with their long dresses, unusual head wear, or head scarves.

But a woman wearing a Hijab

 is cursed out, insulted, and orally or physically abused.

I raise a question and I think that I know the answer.

Is this in anyway connected to the daily, (nay hourly) string of angry, mean, insulting and racist tweets which are spewed by our Chief Executive?  He who lives in  his own dangerous darkness.