Frosty cold -- 11/03/10

"Frosty cold" -- that's what the television weather guy on channel 10 said to describe the weather this morning.

I've had frost on my windshield at least once or twice but the temperature around here had not yet hit the actual freezing point until this morning when we dipped to 32° (or zero for those of you with a metric thermometer). Temperatures at an hour or so before sunrise were around the freezing point all along the coast (although out on Block Island, surrounded by water, they had a low of 37°F). Many inland towns were in the twenties.

My parsley looked a bit limp this morning but perked up once the sun came out. That's my one remaining crop (although I bet I can find two or three small green tomatoes if I look carefully -- they'll ripen up in a few days of sitting in the kitchen, just as the ones I picked on Sunday are doing).

The voting is over and Rhode Island has voted to keep its full name.

The official name of the state -- actually, dating back more than a century before the unpleasantness with King George -- in fact, actually since 1644 -- the name of first the colony and then the state has been
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The Rhode Island part came from the settlements in the area that is now the City of Newport and the Providence Plantations part was the area (now forming the City of Providence) where Roger Williams had established his settlement promoting religious freedom. There was a question on the ballot this time asking if the name should be changed to just Rhode Island. The idea was that, although the word plantation merely meant a settlement, a couple of centuries later it became associated with large cotton and tobacco farms in the south that used slave labor, therefore having that hateful word on the official state seal was a source of great pain and anguish and there could be no possibility of healing these open wounds unless this vile word could be banished and the state given a more politically correct name.

This proposal was overwhelmingly defeated; it never came near any possibility of carrying any town or city in the state.

This election followed the strange ways of Rhode Island politics. Here in this most Democrat controlled state in the Union (where more than 85 percent of the state legislators are Democrats, where in many districts the Republicans can't even find anyone willing to run under their banner) Frank Caprio, the official Democrat candidate for Governor, the man who won his party's primary, finished in third place, far behind the Republican candidate, and the next Governor of Rhode Island will be former Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee, a former liberal Republican running as an independent candidate with no party (who not only voted against most of President Bush's policies, but also made a big deal out of announcing he didn't vote for him for President either). President Obama, grateful for Linc Chafee's support in 2008, declined to endorse the candidacy of Chafee's Democrat opponent, which is why Caprio said in a radio interview that Obama could take his endorsement and "shove it." (I'm not sure just how widely news of our raucous political battles managed to travel.)

Alas, Bob Healey, the Cool Moose Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor again failed to win (although he came much closer this time). His platform consisted of the idea that the position should be eliminated because it served absolutely no purpose and he promised to save taxpayers a million dollars a year by refusing to accept the salary for the position and by refusing to hire any staff. The Republican candidate for the office withdrew from the race and urged her supporters to vote for Bob Healey. (Which then led the woman who had lost to her in the primary to sue, demanding that she be given the Republican line on the ballot, but the court didn't agree.)

And also alas, the candidate I mentioned back in September that I was supporting in the race for State Senate from our district also failed to win, although it was a very close race and the most competition the incumbent had had in years. In this race it was the incumbent Democrat against an independent candidate. (No Republican candidate.) He had built up an amazingly enthusiastic and well-organized campaign group and I really thought he had a chance to pull it off. The final figures were 5914 to 5588. There are too many people in Rhode Island who just automatically vote for any Democrat -- and I use the word "automatically" deliberately because Rhode Island is one of the few states that still has a "master lever" on the ballot: you can check a box at the top of the ballot to cast your vote for a single political party for every office. All of the leading state politicians agree that the law should be changed but somehow (gee, funny thing about that) they never seem to get around to actually changing it.

Poor Tiger's limping is getting worse. In the past, a visit to the vet and a shot would help him quickly and his limping would be greatly reduced. This most recent visit does not seem to have helped him much. In fact, over the past week or two his arthritis seems to be worse and he is spending much of his time curled up in his computer box on those nice soft packing foam pads.

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