Who should be mad about Obamacare? Liberals

“The only difference between Senator Clinton’s health care plan and mine is that she thinks the problem for people without health care is that nobody has mandated — forced — them to get health care. That’s not what I’m seeing around Nevada. What I see are people who would love to have health care. They desperately want it. But the problem is they can’t afford it.” - Barack Obama New York Times, November 16, 2007

While President Obama attempts to save face among the American populous amid the problems with the roll out of Affordable Care Act's online exchange program, the left itself should be the one calling for changes in the reform. The root problem is this: forcing people to buy something is not going to lower the price of that something.

If people had the money to buy health insurance, they would have it. The problem with the mandate is that it sets up insurance companies to charge what they want up to the mandate rate. Yes, people should buy health insurance before they buy iphones and fancy cars (borrowed this from the right-wing anti-food stamp argument) but forcing people to pay to a floor price which maybe be thousands of dollars (including deductibles) for a policy isn't helping them out.

Recently the left has fought back with two weak arguments. First, insurance companies are dumping their really poor coverage plans forcing people to buy better plans with higher deductibles. Some of these stories are certainly fraudulent (how to spot fake obamacare stories), but not all are. Here's the insurance company math. "We are insurance companies, it's for-profit industry, so the only reason for our existence is to make a profit" (this is a pretty underlying problem with ACA depending on health insurance companies in general). "We can make more money if everyone is forced to buy a more expensive profit than the difference of those who will not use our products and pay the fine". Also, if people want lousy insurance, that's still being more responsible than nothing. Yes, insurance companies are at fault here, but there's no law stopping them. Junk insurance is a junk product for them too. Secondly there is this Lawrence O'Donnell "Dirty Little Secret" campaign going around now which basically says that "you can break the Obamacare fine law because it can't be enforced". Telling people to break the law because there's little way to enforce it (unless you have a refund coming in your income tax, then it's coming out of that) does not equate to "there's really no mandate". People would still have to put their taxes in jeopardy for future returns. Eventually the government will get their money (and in my opinion the money from collecting on the mandate from the uninsured isn't really a large stream of government income anyway).

I'm not the lone voice here among liberals who are upset. Take a look at this article from the Atlantic: How Obama Broke His Promise on Individual Mandates . It is a timeline on how Obama went from being anti-mandate during his debates with Edwards, then Clinton, then as president supported them. And the tide in the house democrats may also be shifting. 

While I hear right-wing media comparing Obamacare to "the problems in Canada" (that's a wonderfully biased and generally untrue statement in itself), it's a false comparison; in Canada your tax (penalty?) gets you something - healthcare. I don't agree with the right-wing argument against bigger government, in this case, or people being forced to pay - I do disagree with people being forced to pay for nothing. Our general health in America and access to healthcare for everyone is not as good as Canada. It's closer to Mexico. Healthcare is an issue. When the same medications and procedures cost pennies on the dollar in Europe or Canada compared to here, while there citizens have cheaper, more efficient, and in some cases universal healthcare (something Obamacare does not claim, despite what you hear from the right and the left wishes they heard) - there's a problem with our system. (Great video here by Vlogbrothers which explains this and neither supports nor attacks the Affordable Healthcare Act).

Here's how to fix this system: Make it more "socialist" and closer to "universal". Make the mandate actually buy something. Having the mandate on the individual without the employer provisions of Obamacare results in a regressive tax scheme on the poor who are already unfortunately enough to struggle with healthcare costs. There is a lot of good in Obama's healthcare reform: higher burden of cost on the national government than state governments, the extended benefits for people up to the age of 26, the reform on pre-existing conditions. (Fox News Op-Ed piece here). But if you pay the mandate, you should get the guarantee or a product that, without deductible, is the same price as the mandate - this is why a single-payer is necessary. If the government contracted insurance companies for single-payer policies state-by-state, we'd have this - and better price negotiation, cheaper services. Despite what you read some places, medicare service prices are always cheaper than private health insurance. Why? Negotiated prices. Also, fewer uninsured people. Obama also originally supported this but after the town-hall strategy backfired, it was gone with the yelling about things like "death panels" (private insurance companies don't have them already, do they? Wait, yes they do). When the dust settled, those who hate-at-all-cost had what they wanted, a pretty-weak healthcare reform which made Obama look bad with their base. Rather than take part in the reform, they were content to hide their heads in the sand on the fact that reform is necessary. It continued. Romney's "We'll keep the best of Obamacare" and "We'll completely repeal" campaign of confusions didn't help his cause, nor any stated healthcare improvements in his platform. Liberals should be mad at that. But they should also be upset that the president ran on no mandate and now we have it. He ran on single-payer, we don't have it. The insurance companies won and got something-for-nothing.


You can't un-see history.

By the seventh inning of the 2013 World Series sixth game, there was no doubt who would win. The Red Sox had a six-run lead which seemed more against a Cardinal team that hadn't scored half a dozen runs combined in the last three games combined. The Cardinals' players knew it too; as their manager fruitlessly switched pitchers in key situations (as if the game was closer) the outfielders huddled together, unmotivated, and discussed "whatever" as if it meant nothing for them to be part of the first Red Sox home-title clincher since 1918.

Sitting twenty feet behind Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and John Jay in the outfield bleachers was me. Lifelong New Englander. Lifelong Yankee fan. While the others in attendance around me were sweating out the final two innings of a foregone conclusion, superstitiously not moving their hats or allowing others to borrow a pencil, there was no doubt in my mind what would occur on the field. The lifeless Cardinals weren't coming back against this team on their home field. History was outs away.

It occurred to me. I had no idea how to feel. I love baseball. I love New England. I love Boston. But I also love the Yankees and hate the Red Sox. Hate is a strong word. It's not like it used to be. When i was a kid the Yankees were awful, the Red Sox were contenders and I took crap from all the Red Sox fans in middle school and high school joking about Andy Hawkins no-hitter loss or Tommy John's three-error play or Kevin Maas's horrific career arc. I watched every Yankee game. I couldn't sleep if the Yanks were swept in Boston or the Sox made the playoffs and the Yanks didn't. The the tables flipped and the Yanks were the champions when I was in college and after that. Other than the blip in 2004, the Sox were good but the Yankees were just a  little better. I loved it. Now I work in baseball. I work with the Sox. They are one of my favorite organizations to work with. I loathe the new Yankee Stadium and much prefer to go to Fenway. The stadium is filled with non-symetrical nooks but new technologies. Great loyal fan base. Absolutely amazing place to see a game. But I'm still a fan of the team in the Bronx. Through my job I can get tickets to things like a deciding game of the World Series. It would be too hard to pass up.

So as the Cardinals were being put away in the game and it was obvious the outcome, I had no idea what to feel. Boston had been through so much with the marathon bombing (I was sitting right by the Boston Strong sign) and if anything the resilience of the city (and the country) was on display in the aftermath of the bombing and carried over by the play of the Red Sox. And they were the best team. But at the same rate, I knew what I was watching would have killed me a decade ago. Watching those ratty hair, unkempt beards prance all over the field laughing in the face of the rest of baseball. It was awkward.

I know so many Sox fans. I watch Red Sox games when they are on. I probably know the team better than half their fans (not the ones who dropped a grand or more to see the final game the day before Halloween though... those were true fans). Much of my family is Boston fans (for all sports). I thought of them. A couple of them (friends, not family) were in the stands that day. The rest were all watching.

My grandfather, who passed away a month before, was a life-long Sox fan. To put it into prospective on the "history" I was about to see, in his entire 91-year life, the Red Sox never clinched the World Series on their home field. I had planned to see a Sox fan right after his death but my wife was ill and I had to miss the game, so Game 6 of the series was my first chance to go since then. I met up with my friend after taking care of some "business" at the start of the game (I do work in baseball, there are always reminders) and one of the first things he said when I saw him at the seats was "I bet your grandfather would have loved this".  I'd brought a picture of my grandpa that I'd hoped to post on the foul pole or another sign before the game. I ended up placing it on the top of the centerfield wall to take a pre-game picture.

The stadium crew put up a banner for the National Anthem that draped along the wall where I was sitting and when they pulled it up for the game, the photo was gone. I had copies of it and I'd pretty much expected it would be gone somewhere in the stadium. I considered it only a symbolic gesture and didn't think about it again until the end of the game.

In the ninth inning, the Red Sox brought in Koji Uehera, their all-but-perfect closer (minus one game vs. the Rays) since the all-star break. Each out that occurred was a whimper. It was just a matter of time. Matt Carpenter, the league leader in hits who'd looked fairly impotent and lost in the series, was the final batter. While fans next to me were white-knuckled, I knew this was it. Koji's splitter dashing down and away finished him off and the celebration began.

I didn't know how to react. As a baseball fan, this was an amazing moment to see the last pitch of the season, of the year. The last pitch until opening day, delivered in one of the great ballparks of America. As a New Englander, I imagined the reaction in the Dunkin' Donuts and hangouts of these great six states. After an even-more-beautiful-than-usual-autumn, I'd see the hooded sweatshirts and baseball caps with the "B" for Boston Red Sox all over with smiling Sox nation members. This loyal, amazing fan base and consistent as the seasons are around here, getting something virtually none of them had gotten before - a title - and on their home field.

But also, as a Yankee fan, there was only so much I could take. The part of me that loves the pinstripes wondered if I could forget about this. If I could "un-see" the Red Sox and their fans celebrating on their own field. For my favorites like Derek Jeter (who has won so many titles) or Don Mattingly (who won none), I thought of them watching this, Jeter probably laughing it off and focusing on rehabbing his legs and Mattingly strongly desiring to be on a field like that, celebrating a win. I got the chance to meet Mattingly and when i brought up his home run vs. Alan Benes against the Mariners in his only playoff series as a player, a smile immediately sprung on his face. I thought of Aaron Boone and how loud the old Yankee Stadium, the real Yankee Stadium, must have been that day. But that was another day. This was the Red Sox day. A day like none of them had experienced. The way fans faces light up in the Bronx when Whitey Ford or Yogi Berra are brought out on Old Timer's Day, so will be Ortiz and Pedroia and Lester.

I loved Jonny Gomes speech on the scoreboard... then I bolted. I didn't need to see John Henry and David Ortiz hoist the trophy. That wasn't for me. That was for the fans. Then I noticed something unexpected. As I walked out, I looked down on the field and saw (what I think) was the photo. When they'd pulled the banner down, the photo had fallen on the field, near where the door was for the ambulance, in an area hidden enough that grounds crew members may not have picked it up. My grandfather's photo had probably spent the game on the field, or at least part of it. I thought of how many conversations we'd had about baseball my whole life, the times he took me to the old batting cages in Old Lyme at Cherrystones or the great stories he'd told me about playing. Even the last time I saw him he was excited to hear about my trip to see the Nationals play. He would have loved this. And I thought how many of my fellow New Englanders thought of their older relatives who saw or weren't alive to see the 2004 title after all those dry years. The 2013 season was for them just like 2004. It was for the relatives. It was for the life-long fans. It was for the marathon victims and survivors. It was for Boston, strong.

It took me nearly an hour and a half to get from the exit of the stadium to the T stop. It was crowded with fans who'd emptied out of the clubs on Lansdowne Streeet, many dressed in halloween costume. Many young, happy fans. It was for them too. My fellow New Englanders.

I still don't know how to feel, but I'm glad I can't un-see that history I witnessed the day before Halloween at Fenway, 2013.


Obama, our non-socialist, non-Muslim, average president.

Quick, name a president who's mother wasn't a white Christian. You can't. There hasn't been one. In fact, there's never been a president who wasn't a Christian. There's one who has been accused of such nonsense as being a "secret muslim". I think you know who I am talking about. Number 44, the skinny fellow who is a great orator and, frankly, a pretty average president.

Unfortunately, our country is all about extremes. Extremists are the ones with the loudest political opinions. No one cares about you unless you are the "most" or "worst" (amazingly life isn't that black and white). Extremists also like to manipulate facts to "somewhat truthiness"rather than actual facts, case in point the fact that President Obama instituted and supported the bank bail out - a check of the date this occurred makes this at least partially impossible (Bush was still in the Oval Office) - yet many (far too many) Americans have bought the line that this bailout was Obama's plan because they've been told it enough that it's become fact. A lot of these are the same Americans who were against that bailout and the auto-bailout where taxpayer money was used and spent here but didn't make a peep as we funded wars against random middle eastern nations. So many myths I've seen out there (more soldiers died with Obama in office than Bush, Obama hired more government workers than Bush (hello, Homeland Security), Obama called himself God in a speech (or, just maybe, he read a psalm...) are just complete false propaganda. But the left, too, is guilty. Their problem is they try to portray Obama as some sort of liberal hero, despite the fact the wars in the Middle East continue, the economy is still a trickle-down economy (during his presidency the rich get richer and the poor don't). And don't get me started on the falsities of the anti-Obamacare folks, or the real problems of Obamacare, or my biggest fault with Obama (which others, if viewing rationally, would view a strength.

So what kind of president is Barack Obama? How does he rate?

  • He inherited a mess. He inherited a government that people didn't trust for the past 10 years (wait, Bush was there only 8 years, right?) While Bush certainly deserves his share of the blame, lets not forget "There are weapons of mass destruction" wasn't the only lie the American people were told. And as foolish as the Clinton Impeachment hearings were, they hurt our government. Clinton lied (no one died, I know) but it started a chain of events that lead to the mess we are in today (just as much the fault of congress too). But enough on Clinton, let's get to Bush. Bush was a wreck. The best thing Bush did in his presidency was transition power to Obama (it really was a great transition and he does deserve credit) but the wars, the increased spending and debt (yeah, that happened then too, but it wasn't being spent here in America), ridiculous tax code during war (Obama hasn't undone this though), no standardized test child left behind. Coupled with mumbles and stumbles, mission accomplished, complete control of the government yet not working with the democrats on anything, the fact he probably didn't deserve to be the nominee in the first place nor did he actually win the popular vote (there's some fishiness in Florida in there too). What can you say? At least he didn't shoot anyone in the face, he just allowed a face shooter's former company to profit from a war with no-bid contracts at the expense of things like body armor for army reservists. And somehow he gets a pass on 9/11, despite the fact he was about 9 months into his presidency. There's been bad presidents (James Buchanan makes Bush look like a hero) but in modern times, there's not been a disaster like this guy. And democrats were mad. There were fighting words (a lot of stuff like "sheeple" and "kool aid" and "divisive" has been recycled the right to describe Obama, even though it doesn't really fit).
  • So he inherited this? What did he do differently? Not that much. Same budget (stimulus may or may not have helped, no one can prove it hurt - at least prove it well). Same taxes (but now corporation are people). Lesser wars, but still wars. The promise of reigning in Wall Street sort of faded. Government not that transparent, still spying on people . You see, these would be great talking points for the right - the problem is a lot of his policy is just republican play book material. So for them to criticize him for it is difficult (at least with people who think somewhat logically). However, the reality is, since congress switch back to the GOP, discretionary spending is down, the government is actually smaller and the stockmarket is not in the tank anymore. So some of us are better off, some of us the same, some of us aren't getting raises.
  • I've spoke too much in other forums on Obamacare. I'll be brief. I feel reform is better than the status quo but without a single payer, it's going to be painful for awhile. In fact, it brings up a point. Regardless of the talking points, Obama has been willing to work with republicans and republicans didn't want single payer. Despite full control, it was stripped out. This is good (that he could negotiate) but bad (because he basically negotiated with loonies driving around from town to town for these townhall meetings talking about death panels and other nonsense). I think eventually this will be fixed - if insurance companies can't provide the coverage at the right price for those being forced to buy, the government will get involved. Probably not while Obama is in office. But once the government starts negotiating prices, you'll see a change in the way healthcare is run and it will be more efficient.
  • Remember Obama's tour of the Middle East (the right-wing dubbed "apology tour")? Notice how much things have changed in those countries? In a lot of ways, Obama's foreign policy has been successful (now if he could just get the troops home). America's view by the world changed for the better just by Bush leaving, but since then we've seen global changes and frankly, more civil war, less external war.

    So what did Obama accomplish? I personally like this link http://whattheheckhasobamadonesofar.com/ but I'll also add he has brought some respect back to our country internationally, he has turned our attention inward, rather than outward and imperialistic. When we were attacked by terrorists under his presidency at the Boston Marathon, justice was quick, terrorists were caught. But when the shooting in Newtown occurred, Obama caved to the NRA's propaganda (Reagan didn't... take that "liberals") just like he caved on single payer.. or did he compromise.

    History is probably going to view Obama as a pretty average president, part of a string of presidents from Reagan who let the stockmarket and trickle down economics control our economy, a president who presided over a lot of debt, added to it (no more than others except Clinton) and didn't do much to stop it. He'll be viewed as a pioneer because of his race and his passion and his outstanding speaking. His foreign policy will be viewed as strong (because not much happened - and if he can withdraw troops, he'll be viewed even more favorably). Like Bill Clinton, he'll probably resurface and contribute tremendously to the democrats for years to come. He's helped gays. He started healthcare reform. He had to battle with a republican party that was lead by an anti-government group (just a juxtaposition in that summation!) He won't be Buchanan or other bad presidents (re: Bush, yes he will be viewed as a bad president) nor will he be viewed as Clinton or Reagan, Kennedy or FDR. He'll just be viewed as one of the presidents of the early 21st century.Sorry if you were expecting something more. 


Remembering George King

Last month my grandfather George King passed away at 91 years old. After a stroke and a series of "mini-strokes" he died in his sleep on Tuesday morning. He'd hoped to make it out of the rehabilitation center but had only made it home for a few visits, having gone home for the afternoon the previous Sunday.

I was asked to speak about him at the memorial service and this is what I had to say:

On behalf of George's grandchildren Jessica, Jeff, Emily, Jen, Meredith, Jon, Ryan, Sam and Jake, I'd like to thank you for coming today. I think all of us grandchildren have our own memories of George, whether it was a hike in the backyard or a talk at a family function. Even though he was quiet, he always looked back at us as if he was taking everything in and would recall it all later on in the day. He said few words but made them count.

For me, grandpa always wanted to talk about baseball. The last time I saw him one of the first things he asked me was how I thought the Red Sox were doing this year. He said none of the people at the facility liked baseball and he needed someone to talk about it. As a little kid, he'd ask me if I was a Yankee fan "still"… I think he gave up that question when I was a teenager… but he still knew I appreciated the game. He'd talk about players, current and past, and what he thought of them. You had a prod him a bit to talk about his athletic career. Every now and then, something would turn up at the house as a reminder… the press-clipping from his All-American football recognition… his minor league baseball statistics… hitting .250 as a pitcher… or a box score of a high-school no-hitter. If you kept him talking, he'd give you a better story, like the time Red Ruffing was talking to him as a coach and told him to take every advantage that he could, how Ruffing had thrown the second game of a doubleheader from about 5 feet in front of the mound and never been caught. It took me 30 years to get that story out of him and he told me with a wry smile as he said it. He also shared insightful stories about his time in Brazil during WWII and about our family history as I started to research genealogy. 

I'm sure all of us grandchildren have stories like this, from a quiet man they'd known their whole life but who was always there, although they probably don't all have to do with baseball. For us grandchildren, George has been there our whole lives, as long as we can remember. When I came to the house as we planned the memorial services, I walked into the living room and I was the only one there and Doris, my grandmother, asked me to take a seat. I saw grandpa's recliner empty and it set in that he was gone. I can't think of a time in my life that there wasn't a recliner in that same spot in the living room where grandpa would be sitting when I came in. One of his nephews told me that George was a "king among men" and to me, that made that seat was his thrown. Sometimes grandma had to tell him to get up to greet us; grandpa liked his time to himself, but he would always greet us pleasantly when we saw him.

I can imagine our next family function when we all sit at the table and the chair at the head of the table is empty and how we'll all think of those conversations we had with grandpa. We will always miss him and love him.


My thoughts on the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case.

I'll keep it brief. There's been so much going on that's gone unmentioned (anyone notice Bradley Manning?) because of this trial.

First: I don't agree with what happened but the jury made the right decision according to the law. The district attorney blew it big time not going after Zimmerman for manslaughter or disobeying the police's stand-down order. The problem going forward is the law; and don't think it's just an issue of race - in the dark and the rain that could have been a white teenager too - although I certainly think Trayvon's race played a role in Zimmerman's decisions that night.

Second: Here's what I don't get. I've seen all the maps, where Zimmerman's SUV was, the tapes of Martin buying some candy at 7/11. I've seen where Zimmerman's house was on the map. Martin's house was closer to where he was shot than Zimmerman lived. So, if Zimmerman's life was in danger (self-defense), why was he following someone. If you were in the jungle and a lion was there that could hurt you, wouldn't you call a ranger and go in the other direction. So, up until the point where there was conflict, Zimmerman was the pursuant (or aggressor, so to say), thus not in anyway defending himself. However, Martin was being followed - and I've never seen any credible reason to think that Martin was going anywhere but his house.

Third: Basically none of the witnesses saw anything clearly. Read the transcripts. There's people saying Zimmerman was on top, there's one saying Martin was on top and absolutely no one knows what was said that started the escalation (let me guess, it started because some guy was following him in a truck on the road where he was living?) This is why the jury had to find him innocent, but also why you have to wonder if Zimmerman was actually in any danger at all (he was in his own perceived danger; he lives a life of fear, he's called the cops how many times in the past?). Was it Martin whimpering on the tape or Zimmerman?

Fourth: I have to rely on what this looks like - both of the people involved had some "fear" of what was going to happen. Why is this guy following me? What is this person doing here? One of them died, so I think that's the one with the more valid fear. Had Zimmerman "stood down", Martin is alive today and if, indeed he broke a law (I don't know what law he would have broken) he'd have been tried. Had Zimmerman not followed Martin, Martin would have lived. (Wow, the prosecution blew this case). Also, if you are going to play cop in your community, maybe you should have some sort of training where you don't get yourself beaten by a much smaller 17-year old, ok? (if that is what happened - because - don't expect to ever know anymore than you do now - you never will - and none of us know for certain except the two people involved and neither of them are going to talk). Here's what it looks like to me in quick summation: Zimmerman saw someone, followed him, an altercation occurred and Zimmerman shot Martin. Zimmerman's following instigated the conflict. Zimmerman's best "self defense" would have been for him to call the police and drive right to the station (that was an option).

Fifth: Racism does exist in this country and this is, indeed, an example. If you don't believe race played some role in this murder, you need to wonder - would Zimmerman have followed anyone else? Would Zimmerman confronted then gotten into an altercation with anyone? If I could list all the examples I've seen of racism in my life, well, I don't have time to write them all - it's more "in the hundreds" than the dozens. Being on the blond side of the spectrum, there's stuff I probably miss. Ask someone who is not white if racism exists, listen to their answer. I'm going to make the assumption here that Zimmerman isn't following me around if I walked into the housing complex. And we've all seen the link online of the black woman who got 20 years for firing her gun into the air and was sentenced the same month as Zimmerman's trial ended.

Here's my conclusion - the laws have to change. If Trayvon Martin tried to break into Zimmerman's house, that would be one thing, but it's not what happened. Martin was pursued by Zimmerman, maybe instigated a fight with him, and then was shot. I've heard Obama say "that could have been me as a kid", I've heard black parents say "that could be my kid" walking at night and being followed then shot - and it's true and that's very unfortunate - but even more dangerous is the fact that really, the "victim" (i.e. the one who actually was killed) could have been anyone. I believe Martin's race made Zimmerman more likely to pursue him, but if Zimmerman was really that intent on being "the law" he could have followed a white kid too. And some day, that will probably happen in a "stand your ground" state, where some white teenager gets killed the same way.


Rooms in houses where I lived

One of my son's classmate's parents told me she'd be spending the first couple of weeks after school ended moving out of her house, in with her in-laws for a couple weeks, then into a new house she and her husband had bought. Made me think of how much I despise moving but also how many different places I've lived. Since high school it's roughly a dozen, not counting changing dorms in college, sometimes mid-semester.

Every place I've lived has had things I'll remember about them - sometimes it's a moment that takes place in the house (the living room of my house senior year in high school, for example, my high school graduation party being there and also coming home from college for one night to watch Game 6 of the 1997 World Series with my mother in that room). But also, it's physical things about a room. These are the memories I have of some places where I lived.

The first time I saw my father's new house in Shelton the day we watched Christian Laettner make a last-second jumper against UConn in the East Regional final. Before that he lived in a contemporary house closer to my mother, in Guilford which had a loft with a strange attic crawlspace and an equally odd crawlspace in the basement. My brother and I found an old radio (had to be from the 1930s) that we never got to work. I think my brother still has that radio. I lived in the basement in Shelton which was finished at some point while I was in high school, then new walls added, doors... it has always been changing. My father put the house on the market a couple years ago but took it off a few months later.

I'm not old enough to remember my parents living in rentals in Old Lyme and Clinton, but my mom's first house in Madison was where many of my first childhood memories originated. We didn't get out much - my mother's car couldn't drive more than 20 miles before it broke down and aside two family trips with my dad, we never went farther than Old Lyme, East Haven or Middletown. The house had an "utility room" which was right behind the living room. Half the room was taken up by the water heater. It was an odd design because the room was too small for any purpose. Couldn't even throw a sleeping bag in there. We kept our pets, guinea pigs, rabbits and hamsters in that room.

While I was in college, my mother moved from her second house in Madison (where I think I spent the best part of my childhood, the teen years) to Old Saybrook. Before my mother moved in there, my girlfriend (future wife) snuck down and watched UConn basketball games there on a small color TV we took out of my dorm room. We also had a Super Bowl party there before the house was lived in.

After college, I was the hermit. Lived in two different parts of Milford, both right by the water. Lived in a creeky wood-floored house in Cromwell which may have been an orphanage where my wife's relatives once lived, then to Old Wethersfield to a house that had the nicest three-season perennial garden I've ever seen and some very interesting finds in the attic.

Last month my father took down the pool at the house in Shelton. He's looking to sell the house and move down south next year and retire. It occurred to me; that house is the one I've called home for the longest (albeit for just a few short periods). I stayed there during summers in college, between apartments after college and during the freak October snow storm that left my house without power in 2011. We've heard that he'd move before and seen plenty of remodeling. It looks like it's for real this time. Most of the neighbors I knew in that area have moved away. The interior of the house has had new appliances many times, new flooring and even new walls in the basement, but it's still familiar... where the spot in the upstairs hallway that makes the loudest sound when stepped on in the night (when everyone is sleeping), the door that doesn't shut all the way to my sister's bedroom (unless lifted when the door knob is turned). Although my two sisters, my brother and I never actually lived together in the house at the same time, we're still family and this was still part of our childhood (and young adulthood).

I'm sure in time I'll look at the numerous photos I have of that house, from the inside, and reminisce the same way I do about other places I've lived. When I stop to think about the layout of the rooms or textures of the floor, I'll start to think about the things going on in life at that time. When I was in Shelton, it wasn't always for the best reasons. It was always a landing pad or an in-between place, but it was always there - even the last time I stayed there with my wife and kids during the snowstorm outage. It will be strange when it fades into memories captured in photos just like the other places I've lived.