Thursday, November 29, 2007


As the horrid details continue to come out in the stunning discovery of a huge cache of child pornography in the former home of the late Dr. George E. Reardon, the word that keeps coming to mind -- after all the revulsion and anger -- is "violated."

Obviously the victims were violated in a way that makes us all sick to our core, but I also find myself thinking about many of the people indirectly involved -- other patients of Dr. Reardon who have to be replaying their every encounter with him, other patients at the hospital where the activities were going on, nurses and support personnel who may have unwittingly been involved in aiding these crimes . . . .

Not only are these people feeling violated by Dr. Reardon, but they must also be feeling a bit violated by the hospital administrators, the local police department and the department of health, all of whom seemingly turned a blind eye to the extent of the activities they may have had a suspicion were going on, if from nothing else but the number of complaints lodged against Dr. Reardon. ("If there's smoke . . .")

I'm fortunate in that I've never had to endure first-hand anything this horrible in my life, but even so, I feel a bit violated -- the doctor-patient relationship is one of the most sacred there is, and it's something that after an event like this, if at your next visit to your physician you're not thinking about it up front, it's at least somewhere in the back of your mind. Troubling.

I also feel for the unfortunate homeowner who stumbled upon this nightmare -- he must feel violated by his own home, holding a dark and nasty secret in its walls. I mean, can you imagine stumbling upon that? "Oh, time to renovate this old basement. Guess I'll start with this wall over here . . . let's pry back this board and .. . what the heck? Slides, movies? What is this stuff?" [picks up one slide, holds it to the light] "Oh. my. god."

Talk about a sucker punch to the gut. I feel bad for him then trying to make that phone call to the police to explain how he found 50,000 slides of child pornography in his house while trying to maintain his dignity -- the poor guy did nothing wrong other than take a hammer to a basement wall, but you know he probably had to defend his innocence and integrity a bit when the first investigators showed up.

It's amazing how the vile actions of one man could violate the lives of so many.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Riding the Rails

One of the things we enjoy here at Connecticut Magazine is finding a variety of viewpoints and voices that help convey the "Connecticut experience," as it were.

To that effect, one of my favorite local blogs to visit is Derailed, which details the ongoing activities of Bob McDonough, "The Conductor to the Stars." A sharp-eyed conductor who rides the rails of MetroNorth, he shares many of his entertaining encounters, having met many celebrities during his daily travels, from Brett Somers to Dominick Dunne to Gwen Stefani. He also recounts many of his unique rail-riding experiences, such as returning to New York on Sept. 13, 2001, often alternating between amusing and thoughtful. Off the rails, he shares other personal anecdotes, like the story of discovering his father's "shocking" role in the famous "Milgram Experiment" at Yale.

Personally, I knew Bobby back when he was "The Paint Salesman to the Customers," when we both worked at Sears in Orange during the 1980s. I was "Stockboy to the Warehouse," or something like that -- and I'm pretty sure we both had more hair back then. I hadn't heard from him in years, and was very pleasantly surprised to cross paths with him again (so to speak). It's fun to re-connect with someone like this -- ah, the glory of the internet!

Anyway, next time you're on the train, say hi. Maybe you'll end up on the blog yourself.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Rell Calls for "Round-the-Clock Medical Care" for Ex-Governor Meskill

The governor's latest call to action followed her order on Monday to put up Jersey barriers along a stretch of I-95 in Groton four days after a horrendous accident occurred there. Earlier in the year, the governor used the occasion of the brutal home-invasion murders in Cheshire to order that--starting now--violent criminals not be released on parole; she also ordered more money for the inspection and repair of Connecticut bridges following the tragic collapse of a bridge in Minnesota. The governor also issued a call for enhanced laptop security among government agencies following the disappearance of one belonging to a state employee, and she strongly urged an investigation of DOT practices after negligence was discovered in construction jobs along I-84 in Waterbury.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Accidents Everywhere

I know it would greatly impinge upon our automobile-centric economy and probably our national psyche as well, but I think it's time that the driver's-license test (both written and in the car) in Connecticut and elsewhere be made much more difficult than it is right now. I'm serious about this. The growing wave of traffic accidents on I-95, I-91, I-84 etc. is proof that too many people don't know the rules, don't have common sense or a "head" for driving or just don't possess the skills to operate a car (or truck) at moderate-to-high speeds in increasingly heavy traffic or under adverse conditions. Our own observation tells us the same thing. People don't know how to merge or how to enter a highway from a standing stop in the breakdown lane. They don't know how to get out of the passing lane when they're not passing anyone. They're not paying attention. Sometimes they barely seem to be driving at all. Everyone knows the driver's-license testing is perfunctory at best, and that a license is laughably easy to obtain and hold onto. Imagine if the test were made difficult enough so that the bottom 20 percent of drivers did not qualify. How much better, and safer, would our roads be then? And imagine if more testing were required every 10 years before a license is renewed? It wouldn't eliminate all the problems, of course, but it would be a good start.

Clone Wars?

I saw that they're breaking ground on a new Lowe's in the Orange-Derby Plaza, and although I'm happy to see the space be used productively, I have to ask when is enough enough?

I mean, I don't begrudge the spirit of capitalism, and although I'm not a fan of chains in general -- especially restaurant chains -- I do shop at them, understand their role and the things people like about them: convenience, reliability and often cheaper prices (at the cost of local businesses and American industry, but that's a story for another day). My concern is that it seems that there are too many of the same ones popping up over and over again.

The aforementioned Lowe's in the Orange-Derby Plaza is going in about a mile away from a Home Depot (which I understand from a competition view point), but it'll also be less than five miles from another Lowe's (on the Post Road in Orange), which of course, is less than a mile away from another Home Depot. Does this really work? It must, or these multibillion dollar corporations wouldn't do it, right? Right? Bueller?

I went shopping one night last week in the new Target in Ansonia, which is only miles from the newish Targets in Milford, Orange and Trumbull (not counting the new one going into the Trumbull Mall), and I noticed that the place was nearly empty. Was it the night I was shopping, or have we begun to reach the saturation point? If one Target in Orange is good, then three more are better, right? On my last Sunday Drive, I passed what seemed to be about 60 Walgreens in a half-hour span -- I understand wanting to eliminate the competition, but it seems that some of these businesses are trying to drive themselves out of business.

Quick story: Back in the day, I used to work at a Flower Time garden center in Milford, part of a small chain which was eventually devoured by a bigger fish, Frank's Nursery and Crafts, a national chain. Manifest destiny then seemed to become the business plan as they opened more and more bigger stores, including another one on the Post Road in Milford, less than two miles from the first one. Was there such a need for so many giant floral, craft and garden centers, especially so close to each other?

I think if you drive by the now-empty store on the Post Road, you know the answer.