Have a Maddie Paddy Day

Happy St Paddy’s Day from Maddie

Most of you know that I don’t normally post on Fridays. Today is different. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to cue up a few shots of Miss Maddie and one of her favorite toys.

She wasn’t cooperating, so some of the shots are blurry. The captions tell the story. If you want to know, click on any photo for a slide show.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Posted in Family, Pets | Tagged , , , , , | 60 Comments

Thursday Doors – At the Reservoir

Building at MDC Reservoir #1

About a year ago, I shared doors from the Saville Dam at the Barkhamsted Reservoir. That reservoir was built to help augment the water supply for the city of Hartford, Connecticut and as it grew and began its expansion into the suburbs. In 1929, the State Legislature created the Metropolitan District Commission, which operates the Saville Dam and several other dam/reservoir projects around the region.

The Metropolitan District – a public non-profit municipal corporation was created by the General Assembly in 1929 to provide quality potable water and sewer systems for people and businesses in the Hartford area.”

Water is a precious commodity and controversy surrounds many of the water-supply dams and reservoir projects. However you may view these projects and their impact on the region, the MDC seems to be doing a good job. They have the important task of providing safe drinking water, processing waste-water and sewage. They do that job well, and they provide recreational access to many of the wooded areas around the reservoirs and watersheds. In fact, most of the articles I found about the reservoir system in West Hartford, refer to the hiking and recreation opportunities.

I’m not sure when the West Hartford Reservoir was first established. The MDC took over control of the complex in 1929 when it was formed. It appears the reservoir is less of a water storage reservoir than an immediate feed to a water purification plant. According to the MDC website:

The 1960s began with the expansion of the West Hartford water purification facility and the fluoridation of the MDC’s water supply – a program that dramatically improved public health by reducing cavities in the Hartford area.”

OK, let’s add “fluoridation” to the list of controversial projects.

The following is the only tidbit of historical information I was able to find, and I wasn’t able to verify it.

“…Opened in 1867 to supply Hartford and West Hartford with pure water, this reservoir is the oldest component of the present regional water system.”

As you may remember, Faith and I hiked around the reservoirs a few weeks ago. The 3.2-mile (8.4 km) hike was extended, a couple of times by Faith, with: “I like to go this way…” At the end, we had walked over 5 miles, but it was fun.

Prior to our hike, I had taken photos of an odd building alongside Reservoir Number One. Everybody who has been near the reservoir knows about this building, as evidenced by the quick: “oh, yeah yeah, I know that building…” you get when you describe it. But, no one seems to know what its purpose is/was. I can tell you, from peeking in the windows, its being used to store boxes of paper records, today.

Those two “photo ops” yielded a few interesting doors, so I thought I’d share them with you today.

Why?

Because it’s Thursday, silly.

Municipal governments all over the world recognize the Internet phenomenon that is Thursday Doors. Brought to us each week by our fearless leader Norm Frampton, up where the water is still in solid form, a.k.a. Canada, Thursday Doors is an easy way for us to share photos and stories about beautiful, and not so beautiful doors. If you want to submit a door (no charge, no judgment), simply follow the watershed and pipelines to the Norm’s pump house. When you get there, check out his doors and then look for the blue frog. The frog will be at the bottom, because, potable water, no frogs allowed. Anyway, click on that little tadpole and visit a vast array of doors.

Thank you for visiting No Facilities. I have been busy with work and travel lately, but I always try to visit as many doors posts as I can, in what remains of my week. The gallery is large today, because of the two set of photos. Click any photo to begin a slide show.

Posted in Connecticut, History, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , | 69 Comments

Modern Lies

One Liner WednesdayI have written about salespeople lying to me, too many times to link to. Still, it’s not only continuing, it’s getting worse. I expect lies about products and features: “This copier will meet all your copying and scanning needs forever.” “This is the lowest price you’ll ever see on this product.” “This car has the highest resale value in its class.”

The copier doesn’t perform. The price drops by 15% next week and the car is in a class by itself in so very many ways.

What I don’t expect, and what I have been experiencing more and more often, lately, are blatant lies about alleged recent events that involve me. Personal stuff, that I can verify. It’s like these people are counting on the fact that I have a pi**-poor memory or that I’m going to confuse them with someone else. These contacts come in email and over the phone. Actual human beings call me and say things like: “It was nice meeting you at…” or “Hi Dan, we spoke earlier this month and you asked about…”

The increase in the number of these events had me thinking of a clever comeback. That’s when I remembered the place where I’ve learned all I really need to know…Star Trek

A Lie Is A Very Poor Way To Say Hello.”
— Edith Keeler

That’s from: “The City On The Edge Of Forever,” Stardate Unknown, from Star Trek, the original series.

Captain James T. Kirk is trying to explain why he broke into the basement of the mission house the Edith Keeler (played by Joan Collins) is in charge of.

The gallery has a few photos from one of the best episodes of that series. Yes, this post is an official review, so my interpretation of those pesky copyright laws tells me that I can use them. Spoiler alert, if you never saw this episode, Kirk falls in love, Spock performs heroic acts of science, somebody dies and the universe is saved from destruction. Before we get to the gallery, let me share something from the lying sales cycle that at least provides entertainment value.

Our voice mail system uses Microsoft Speech-to-Text technology to provide me with “readable” emails of the voice mail I’ve received. Unfortunately, some of the salespeople don’t command a strong grip on the English language and carry a heavy accent from the land of their birth. No offense intended, but I love messages like this:

Yeah, I want me some IP Socket love.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fantastic weekly series, One-Liner Wednesday. Please visit Linda’s page. Check out her post and the other entries.

Live long and prosper!

Posted in One Line Wed, Star Trek | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 60 Comments

Darkness is a State of Mind

Sunrise over the river

I’ve written in the past about the degree to which I dislike Daylight Saving Time. I think it’s a dumb idea. It doesn’t surprise me that politicians keep it alive, because retail and recreation industries of all sorts like it. It also comes as no surprise that those same politicians are quite capable of ignoring the facts that their biannual-messing-with-time serves no tangible economic purpose. The fact that, some studies show, switching may actually cause us to use more energy doesn’t matter to politicians the way facts in general don’t matter to politicians.

Will you give me money?

Yes, I will.”

I like your facts.”

People who like DST usually point to longer days. Later sunsets and the ample afternoon and evening hours they will have to enjoy the world around them. To them I say: “I’m happy for you.”

Unfortunately, I am a morning person, and that’s the reason I despise the arrival DST even more than the concept itself. DST arrives earlier now than it did when I was a younger morning person. These days, it arrives just as I am beginning to make my morning commute as the sun is rising. Today, that commute returns to darkness.

It’s no secret that I like to stop at Great River Park on my way to work. I’ve written about how there’s something about a river, and I still feel that way. I often carve a few minutes out of my morning commute to sit or walk along the shore of the Connecticut River, and those few minutes affect my mood. They make me happy. They don’t make it any easier to go to work, which is why my next stop is Dunkin Donuts, but they help carry me through the day.

I find that the beneficial effect of those few minutes by the river is amplified when it’s light out. Oh sure, I feel really good when I snag a photo of the city lights reflecting in the dark water, but it’s not the same. That’s a feeling of accomplishment. Standing by the river when the sun is rising is a feeling of awe and wonder. It’s a feeling that says everything is alright in what I know is a tragically imperfect world. It’s a spiritual feeling that only sunshine can provide.

If I’m lucky, I see some wildlife. Perhaps a few ducks on the water. Once or twice a year, a Blue Heron searching the shore for breakfast. A squirrel or six rummaging through the trash bins, or just some birds overhead. My commute was about to intersect their morning routine. A routine that they will keep on schedule, but I will miss. They aren’t concerned with time, or time zones and they certainly aren’t going to get up earlier or later because some politicians say so.

Today’s gallery contains scenes from the weeks before DST. Scenes I won’t see again for a few more weeks. Scenes I will miss.

Posted in Connecticut, Opinion, Rant | Tagged , , , , , , | 77 Comments

Breaking the Rules of Good Blogging?

For the love of beer

The perfect place and beverage to share some casual conversation.

If we were having a beer, you would be trying to talk me into paying, again.

“I think you should pay for our drinks today.”

“Of course you do, you’re cheap.”

“No, it’s not that, I have some advice for you. Some things that will make your blog better.”

“Really? Since when did you become an expert?”

“I haven’t, but I read someone else’s that listed some rules for successful blogs, and I think you’re breaking them.”

“Dan? Breaking the rules? That doesn’t sound like him. He’s pretty dependable. For instance, I’m guessing he’s going to have a Yuengling, now that we have it in bottles.”

“Oooh, that sounds good, Cheryl.”

“I’ll even pour it in a frosted glass.”

“You’re sweet.”

“What about you? You’re not so predictable.”

“Oh, I think he’s having wine today, Cheryl. We haven’t decided who’s paying yet, so I don’t think he’s going for Bourbon.”

“Wrong, my young friend. I will have a glass of Woodford Reserve, on the rocks.”

“I’m surprised, you usually only have that when I’m buying. Which, I’m not.”

“You haven’t heard my advice yet.”

“I don’t think I’m interested.”

“We’ll see. Let’s start with the basics, do you self-host your blog?”

“Do you even know what that means?”

“No, but apparently, you should self-host. I checked. Several people say so.”

“I don’t self-host, it’s a pain. Also, a lot of the self-hosted blogs I follow, are slow to load. The speed depends on the hosting company.”

“So, why don’t you spend some money and hook up with a fast provider?”

“You have to manage plug-ins, upgrades, security…it’s too much bother for not much benefit. What else you got?”

“Well, I hesitate to bring up the next one.”

“Why?”

“I know you’re breaking it, but I’m not sure I want you to stop. They say you should post every day.”

“Not gonna happen.”

“Phew. I mean why not?”

“Because if he spends too much time tending to that blog, he won’t have time to come here. Here’s your beer, and here’s that Bourbon.”

“Cheryl’s right. I don’t have time to post every day. Besides, I’ve mentioned this before, neither my editor nor my readers want me to post every day.”

“I understand. But, this next one seems important, and it also seems like you ignore it.”

“Oh my, it’s a wonder I have any followers at all. What now?”

“Several places say you should establish a niche, and then cater to your audience. You don’t do that.”

“You’re right, I don’t. Unless you consider ‘random’ a niche.”

“Random can’t be a niche.”

Today’s Specials

“Hang on. Cheryl, what are the specials today?”

“Calamari & Baby Shrimp, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Pesto Chicken Pasta and Black Bean soup.”

“See, random.”

“Look, suppose someone stumbles onto your blog on a day when you’ve managed to write something funny. They decide to come back, and you’re preaching about women’s rights or something. How are they going to feel?”

“I like to think that, if I tell a good story, they’ll stick with me.”

“You don’t want to focus on one thing and grow that?”

“No. Been there. Done that.”

“When?”

“I had two technical blogs before starting No Facilities. Writing about the same thing gets old.”

“Um, you know what else gets old?”

“Uh oh, Cheryl, have we been neglecting you?”

“You’ve been neglecting your drinks, and the menu. Lately, you guys sit and yack like you’re in the park watching the birds.”

“I think we’re ready for another round.”

“There are several other rules, if you’re interested.”

“I know, and I’m not. I’m not going to force keywords into my posts. I’m not going to start a newsletter. I’m not going to add pop-ups and auto-play videos that are selling insurance. I’ll take my chances with (hopefully) interesting stories.”

“So, does that mean you aren’t paying today?”

“Not only that, I’m going to order some wings.”

Now, about those birds in the park…

Posted in Blogging, If having a beer, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , | 108 Comments

Thursday Doors – Windsor Locks Train Station

I think there’s a door back there

That’s the fourth and most obvious attempt at a title. I tried “potential doors” and I tried “zombie doors” and I gave serious thought to “the phoenix of doors” except, we actually have a building in Hartford that is The Phoenix Building, so…

The problem with these doors is that they aren’t there. They are either covered with plywood or they have been replaced by plywood. On the other hand, the building is being restored. Don’t ask me who’s paying for the restoration, how long it will continue or what we’re going to do with the building after it’s restored, but it’s being restored and that’s a good thing. Actually, when you consider the following excerpt from the National Registry of Historic Places Nomination form in 1975. I think you might agree, it’s an amazing thing:

The Windsor Locks Redevelopment Agency recently voted to acquire the station with tentative plans for its demolition.”

At that time, the building was mostly closed to the public and it’s official status was described as:

The building is used by the railroad’s signal department; they have a workshop in one small corner of the structure. The platform is used by passengers awaiting trains. Restoration has been limited to some repainting being done by the railroad.”

The “railroad” would have been the Penn Central, one of the last grand railroads in this country to go out of business and force Congress to create AMTRAK. AMTRAK already existed in the early 70s, but it didn’t yet own any railroad right of ways or rolling stock. Some of the remaining railroads, the Penn Central included, were convinced that AMTRAK would fail. By 1976, Congress stepped in more forcefully, creating Conrail, a consolidated railroad mainly for freight, and transferred rights of way, rolling stock and stations along the Northeast Corridor to AMTRAK.

In retrospect, the addition of this station into the Historic Registry probably saved it from destruction. AMTRAK became the owner of the building, but eventually abandoned it as a train station and moved that function to a concrete siding about two miles south of this building.

The station continued to deteriorate until 2004. AMTRAK and the Connecticut Department of Transportation had decided to double-down on the concrete siding by connecting it with a pedestrian bridge to an Interstate Highway Park-and-Ride lot nearly across the street from the “station” location. Those plans never came to fruition, but they remained the plan.

An arson attempt in 2000 almost destroyed the station. That may have been the impetus for the formation of a preservation association whose goal was to purchase and repurpose the station.

Fundraising, planning, infighting and some further-damage-prevention repairs ensued. The group negotiated, unsuccessfully, to move the station stop back to the historic station. AMTRAK and the CT DoT wanted no part of that plan and the Preservation Association disbanded.

Once it starts, everybody wants some of the credit.

In 2011, the Town of Windsor Locks began negotiating directly with AMTRAK and the State of CT. Plans were being made to begin a light-rail service between Springfield, MA and New Haven, CT. Where AMTRAK currently runs 6-8 trains a day, CT Light Rail will operate 16-18 trains a day, beginning in 2018. AMTRAK sold the station to the town, and while the light rail will begin service at the existing concrete siding, service will eventually move to a new concrete siding just north of the old station. That station is being restored.

Today, this is an unfinished story, a building under renovation and plywood covered doors. Hopefully, in the not-to-distant future, there will be functioning doors leading into a beautifully restored station. I’ll keep you informed.

This post is part of Norm Frampton’s fun series called Thursday Doors. Each week, door lovers from around the world bring forth a collection of doors to share with each other and admire. If you want to join us, take your train to Norm’s place, admire his doors and look for the conductor masquerading as a blue frog. Click him and enter a terminal full of doors. Beneath the main gallery are some photos from the National Registry of Historic Places Nomination form.

Posted in Connecticut, History, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , | 60 Comments

Better than the 2nd Window

One Liner WednesdayThis post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun weekly series: One-Liner Wednesday. I don’t usually do well with the one-line thing, and this week is no exception, but I think I have a pretty good, albeit two-part excuse.

First, the comment I wanted to share wasn’t a “one-liner” in that is isn’t something you can say to someone else, or that you might expect to hear in normal conversation. Still, as I think back over the variety of things that were said to me last week, by people in the outside world, this question stands out as the one that made me feel the best.

Second, the comment begs a (rhetorical) question that I inadvertently answered. That’s OK, I’ve established the fact that I often answer rhetorical questions, in the same way that I offer solutions for problems my wife wishes I would just acknowledge as existing.

I stopped at Maddie’s (the restaurant, not my dog’s place) on the way to work last week to get something to go for lunch. I took the menu and started looking at sandwiches.

“Can I help you?”

“I’m going to get a sandwich to go, for later. I just have to decide what I want.”

“OK. In addition to those, we have Chicken Salad today.”

“Mmmm, that sounds good.”

“Maddie makes the best chicken salad. All fresh ingredients and she cooks the chicken right here.”

“Let’s go with that.”

After a few minutes, the waitress brought me the to-go container with my sandwich, some pickles and some chips. Then she added:

“We serve that with a cup of soup here. Do you want an instant soup to go?”

The way she asked made it clear that she really wanted me to enjoy lunch. No one else that I would deal with that day, until I got home, seemed to care if my day was good, bad or otherwise. I realized just how little effort it takes to make someone feel good.

I thought about using that as my one-liner, and I thought I would pose the question that I raised a long time ago when I first wrote about Maddie’s, i.e. why do I ever stop at a fast-food place.

Yesterday, I was going to stop at Maddie’s for breakfast, but they were crowded to the point of having no parking places. I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for coffee and McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin. When I spoke to the place-your-order-here-spot on the menu board, the conversation, if you can call it that was short and not sweet at all:

I’d like an Egg McMuffin.”

“$3.49. Pay and pick-up at the second window.”

It’s just not the same.

Posted in Customer Service, One Line Wed | Tagged , , , , | 66 Comments