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Brooklyn Secrets, a Brooklyn mystery

I enjoyed the first two of the Erica Donato Mysteries by Triss Stein. I think of it as the Brooklyn mystery series. When I saw on NetGalley that a third in this series was available for review, I immediately put in my request. Fortunately, the request was approved quickly. So thank you to Netgalley and Poisoned Pen Press.

For those not familiar with the series, Erica is a Brooklyn girl. She was widowed young with a child to raise, went back to school, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in urban history. She lives a rather hectic life balancing the demands of graduate school and single motherhood. This is further complicated by her involvement in a mystery from time to time. Continue reading


The combination of the Paris terrorist murders and the Syrian refugee crisis has opened up a strange rift in the United States. Or maybe it is the unUnited States. The Federal government as represented by President Obama had pledged to help settle Syrian refugees in the United States. At last count at least 31 states represented by mostly Republican governors have said thy would not allow these refugees.

Some governors have said their states would accept the refugees. Governor Jack Markel of Delaware states his reasons well and should, but won’t, embarrass those refusing to allow the Syrian refugees and their supporters.

Those who say “Not In My State” to the refugees could be called NIMS-nuts.

Comments are great

I’ve been writing this blog for several years. Sometimes I talk about genealogy (especially my family), sometimes a book review, sometimes just a general comment on current events or whatever is on my mind that day. I like it when people coment. They can agree with me or disagree. all comments are welcome.

Comments are great. A chance to reconsider an opinion. Or at least appreciate the other side of the argument more.

But it is the genealogy post comments I wish to specifically mention today. Usually there is no response. Sometimes it is just something interesting that is related. But the ones that a really exciting is when someone tells me they might be related.

Last week I got one of these. It was related to a short Mckenzie post from over a year ago. The commenter thought she might be related and pointed out something on a record I had but which I had never noticed. Certainly a reasonable case that we are related but nothing definite.

We are emailing back and forth tying to fill out each other’s family tree and find that record which will make this tentative relationship more certain.

Ted Cruz economy

I was listening to the Republican debate on Fox Business last night. It seemed all the candidates were claiming their tax plan would work economic miracles.

When Ted Cruz was asked about the deficits that would result from his plan, he assured us that some spending cuts would be involved but sure enough his tax plan is projected to run a multi-trillion dollar deficits over the decade but once you factor in the projected resulting economic growth, those deficits just disappear as the economy takes off. He didn’t go into any great detail as to what he would cut (other than abolishing 5 agencies of which he could name 4).

He told us the details were on his website- tedcruz.org. I was curious about the Ted Cruz economy so I looked but couldn’t find the details promised. There were opportunities to donate, sign up, volunteer, and buy Ted Cruz items but I didn’t want to do any of those things. I just wanted some information and some was there. You just had to look around awhile to find it. And then it did not have the details on cuts I was looking for.

I finally found some detail on his tax plan at https://www.tedcruz.org/tax_plan_summary/

It starts with a imagined growth scenario. It doesn’t really seem at that great but it is definitely very exact and very unclear. This is the Ted Cruz economy.


“Imagine 4.9 million new jobs. Instead of Obama’s income stagnation, imagine average wages rising 12.2 percent over the next decade. Capital investment rising 43.9 percent. And every income-level seeing double-digit increases in after-tax income. Imagine exports and manufacturing jobs booming. Our trade deficit falling as the tax bias against American made goods is eliminated. Imagine a 10 percent income tax, with every American filling out his or her taxes on a postcard or iPhone app. And abolishing the IRS as we know it.” – Ted Cruz

4.9 million jobs. He doesn’t give a time frame but the next sentence is about wage increases over 10 years so maybe that is what he means. 4.9 million jobs over 10 years in terrible. 4.9 million in his first term is terrible. On the other hand, a sustained 4.9 million jobs per year is much better than recent history. In the past 2 years we have added a bit over 4.9 million jobs.

My figures are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (September 2013 to August 2015). I picked those dates as the September and October figures for this year are subject to revision. But for this year alone including those provisional numbers, we have added over 3.5 million jobs in 10 months.

Then we have wages rising 12.2 percent in a decade. That seems not all that great, the increase is a bit over 1% per year. Hardly anything to get excited about.

Then more about the booming economy and simple taxes. Does this comparatively small increase in jobs and minuscule increase in wages should booming to you ? Is this the Ted Cruz economy ?

Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal

Thanks to Netgalley I was able to start an advanced reading copy (ARC) of “Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal” by Joseph Alexiou before the book was in the stores. Unfortunately I am not a particularly fast reader and so the review is just coming out now, almost a month after the publication date. I grew up in the New York City (NYC) area and enjoy reading about New York City and surrounding areas. I’m also a history fan so this book seemed right up my alley.

I’ve read several books on the history of NYC and Brooklyn is usually mentioned but not in any great detail. This differs from others I have read in that the focus was on Brooklyn. The focus is the canal but there is much about Brooklyn in general but more on the area known as South Brooklyn. Continue reading

Presidential questions

Who shall be our next President? Plenty of candidates, plenty of choices, plenty of questions, and some answers buried in lots of talk. Who do you think is the best choice? Will he or she make it. About a year from now, someone will be elected as the next President. Who do you think it should be?

You have opinions about the issues. The candidates have opinions or at least have expressed opinions (which may or may not be the same thing). How do your opinions line up with what the candidates say. What they say is not always the same as what they will do. Sometimes you worry a candidate will not deliver on what is said; other times you worry that they may actually do what they say. Continue reading

Reasonable compromise on budget deal

I’ve been writing lately about an unjust increase in Medicare Part B premiums for a subset of those over 65.

I was glad to see that this was addressed in the 2 year budget deal recently worked out by Congress and the administration.

This is not what I considered the ideal solution but it is a reasonable compromise. Continue reading

Cooperation in Congress

Cooperation in Congress, I hope. Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was recently elected the Speaker of the House. I hope this brings in a new era of cooperation between the 2 parties and among various groups in the House of Representatives. And perhaps when the Senate sees it, they will be inspired to do likewise.

This is a hope. I am not placing any bets on it.

I hope for cooperation because among the things Rep. Ryan had to say on assuming office was this: Continue reading

Ruth Allingham Greer (about 1835-1887)

Genealogy facts seems to come in unexpected bunches. For years you try to break a brick wall in your research and suddenly the wall breaks and a flood of new information comes your way.

One brick wall involved Ruth Allingham Greer, my great great grandmother. The first record we have is her marriage to Matthew Greer in 1854 in Glencar, Co Leitrim, Ireland.

From that marriage record, we thought she was probably born around 1835, give or take a few years. We also found records of several births to this couple in Sligo. Continue reading

Medicare Premium Fairness Act of 2015

I have been writing here about the unfairness of the Medicare part B premium increase for 2016.

H.R. 3696: Medicare Premium Fairness Act of 2015 has been introduced in the House but is still in committee as of today and S. 2148: Protecting Medicare Beneficiaries Act of 2015 has been introduced in the Senate but is still in committee as of today. Continue reading

Social Security plans

What to do about Social Security? Many of us depend on it. I suppose I should write about it as I call this blog “RetiredGuy”. What are some Social Security plans?

A recent article Retirees’ Futures Hinge on Candidates’ Plans for Social Security discusses the Social Security plans of various presidential candidates of both parties.

Interesting reading especially if you are now retired or think you might be retired some day and depend on Social Security.

Clinton emails

Anyone who has been near a TV or radio or read a newspaper or magazine lately has probably heard quite a bit about Hillary Clinton’s email problems due to a decision to use a personal email server rather than the official one. The Clinton emails controversy prompted the best line of the Democratic debate when Bernie Sanders said:

“The American people are tired of hearing about your damn emails”

But the fact is that the FBI is investigating the Clinton email situation to see if national security was endangered and criminal charges should result. Continue reading

Medicare premiums spike for some

I have written twice about this unfair increase in Medicare premiums for some of us (Fix unfair Medicare increase and Medicare heartburn- the uneven increase).

Now AARP has written about this too. Some Medicare Premiums Could Spike explains this in much more detail than I did and also brings up a point that I never considered.

But here is how it starts: Continue reading

Fix unfair medicare increase

I wrote about the unfair medicare increase toward the end of last month. I didn’t think much would come of it.

But 2 bills to correct this injustice have been introduced in Congress. These bills would keep Part B premiums at their current rate for all Medicare beneficiaries in 2016.

Of course congress is kind of busy these days with the debt ceiling rapidly approaching and the need to fund the government for the year that began 10 days ago. But that is just because they chose not to do these things in a timely manner. But they don’t seem to be in too much of a rush to act on either.

So maybe they will find the time to fix this unfair medicare mess.