Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2012 Election Guide

You've probably noticed that there's a Presidential election coming up this November. If you live in Waterbury, you've probably also noticed there's a 5th District election as well, fraught with overtones of scandal. You may even have some vague concept about an election involving Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon. What you may not know is that we will also be voting for State Senators and Representatives, and that there is a primary election on August 14. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you should vote in the primary as well as in the November election.


The full slate of candidates for Waterbury voters on November 6 is as follows:

Barack Obama/Joseph Biden - Democrat
Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan - Republican

(There are many more parties with candidates for President, from the Prohibition Party to the Objectivist Party. For links to those candidates, visit Politics1.com.)

U.S. Senate

Chris Murphy - Democrat
Linda McMahon - Republican
Paul Passarelli - Libertarian

U.S. Congress, 3rd District

Rosa DeLauro - Democrat - 3rd District Congresswoman since 1990
Wayne Winsley - Republican

U.S. Congress, 5th District

Elizabeth Esty - Democrat
Andrew Roraback - Republican
John Pistone - Independent

State Senate

15th District
Joan V. Hartley - Democrat - State Senator since 2000; 73rd District Representative for 16 years
Andy Larsen - Independent
Blair F. Bertaccini - Working Families

16th District
John "Corky" Mazurek - Democrat - 80th District Representative for 7 years
Joseph C. Markley - Republican - State Senator since 2010 and from 1984 to 1986

State Representatives

71st District
Ernest Brunelli - Democrat - Currently serves on the Waterbury Board of Aldermen
Anthony J. D'Amelio - Republican - 71st District Representative since 1996

72nd District
Larry B. Butler - Democrat - 72nd District Representative since 2007
Michael Stango - Republican
Richard J. Cam - Petitioning Candidate

73rd District
Jeffrey J. Berger - Democrat - 73rd District Representative since 2000
Dennis Odle - Republican - Served on Waterbury Board of Aldermen 

74th District
Selim Noujaim - Republican - 74th District Representative since 2002
Joseph P. Nolan - Independent

75th District
Victor Cuevas- Democrat
John Alseph - Republican

Registrar of Voters 
Patricia M. Mulhall - Democrat
Timothy T. DeCarlo - Republican
Bernard J. Bailey - Independent

CANDIDATES: if you have a website that I have not linked to, please let me know what it is!


Connecticut is divided into many districts. Most, but not all, of Waterbury is in the Fifth Congressional District.

Parts of the South End, Brooklyn, and Town Plot are in the Third Congressional District.

 Waterbury is divided into two districts for State Senate, 15 and 16.

District 15 is in green, 16 is in pink.
From the Connecticut State Library's Google map of state districts.

Waterbury is also divided into five districts for the State House of Representatives: 71, 72, 73, 74, and 75. Of these, four include only Waterbury, while one, the 71st District, also includes Middlebury. These districts are broken down even further to identify polling locations; for example, I live in 72-2, which votes at the WOW Community Learning Center.

From the Connecticut State Library's Google map of General Assembly House districts.

The place you go to vote is based on the home address you gave on your voter registration form. If you moved and did not update your registration, your voting location will be based on your old address. To figure out where you vote, visit the Connecticut Secretary of State website for Voter Registration Lookup.


On August 14, primary elections will be held to select the Republican and Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate and the Congressional 5th District in the main elections. Voters registered as Democrats in the 75th District (see below) will also choose their candidate for State Representative.

Voters will choose between the following candidates:

U.S. Senate

Susan Bysiewicz - Democrat - Formerly Connecticut's Secretary of State; State Representative for 6 years
Chris Murphy - Democrat - Congressman for the 5th District since 2006

Linda McMahon - Republican
Chris Shays - Republican - Congressman for the 4th District for 22 years; State Representative for 12 years

U.S. Congress, 5th District

Chris Donovan - Democrat - State Speaker of the House
Elizabeth Esty - Democrat - State Representative for 2 years 
Dan Roberti - Democrat

Justin Bernier - Republican
Mark Greenberg - Republican
Andrew Roraback - Republican - State Senator since 2001; State Representative for 5 years
Lisa Wilson-Foley - Republican

State Representative, 75th District

Victor Cuevas - Democrat - Candidate chosen by the Town Committee
David Aldarondo - Democrat - State Representative since 2004

The 75th District primary is a slightly unusual race. The incumbent is the challenger, having been ousted in a Town Committee primary in March. For more on that story, check out The Observer's article online.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Brass City Comic Convention 2012

Photos from this year's Brass City Comic Con at Naugatuck Valley Community College, organized by Legends of Superheros. Bigger than last year, lots of fun stuff going on in between hunting for good deals on favorite comic books. Proceeds are being donated to Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury.

First up: costumes!

Supergirl and Harley Quinn

Superman and Wolverine

Spiderman helping Iron Man fly

Best cardboard robot costume I've ever seen!

Some general shots of the show:

As always, one of the best parts of a convention is getting to meet the creators of comic books. A few of the artists in attendance:

David Meikis working on a sketch

Cesar Feliciano drawing a fan

Roy Blakely of My Fair Hunter next to the Rumbirds banner.

T.C. Ford working on a caricature

Dan Dos Santos speaking with fans

Henna art!

Vic Preato discussing his red-shirted Stormtrooper

Maybe the best part of the show were the sketch competitions. Each time, one pro artist went up against a fan, with five minutes to draw a given subject. Great fun to watch!

A fierce competition!

Dan Dos Santos' interpretation....

...and his competition's more opinionated version.

Prof. Foster with the happy young artist after the draw-off.

There were also educational forums. Roger Rautio gave a short presentation about his efforts to create a Comic Book Hall of Fame. He has sent proposals to five major cities, looking for their collaboration in giving the HoF a home. The cities in the running are Cleveland, Chicago, NYC, Phoenix, and San Jose. An audience member (not me) suggested he should choose Waterbury. Wouldn't that be cool!

Roger Rautio (in Superman shirt) and artist Sean Russell

Audience members admiring the Hall of Fame award and famous signatures

Last but not least, we were treated to martial arts demonstrations by the Bond School of Self-Defense.

A mother-daughter team took turns taking each other down; there were several demonstrations of small kids able to defend themselves against large adults

City Fest 2012

I strolled through Library Park on Saturday during the fifth annual City Fest. The place was packed with people. The majority of tents were Christian prayer tents. There were also tents with free clothing, free food, and a free bike raffle. Musicians and other entertainers performed on the Harrub pavilion.

The line of people for the free kid's bicycle raffle.

Free kid's bicycle raffle tent. Sad to think that so many kids don't have a bicycle and that so many families are dependent on a free give-away for a very basic and common childhood treasure.

The bicycles being raffled. Helmets were included.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Invasion Has Started in Prospect

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced today that the feared emerald ash borer (EAB) has been found in Prospect and might be at the Naugatuck State Forest.

You might be wondering what that means.

There are approximately 22 million ash trees in Connecticut. It is often used for firewood and for making baseball bats. The emerald ash borer kills ash trees rapidly.

The insect larvae tunnel through the trees, finally emerging from a D-shaped hole as fairly pretty green bugs.

Since being discovered in Michigan in 2002, the EAB has killed tens of millions of ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone. Connecticut is the 16th state to be invaded by this Asian insect.

Emerald Ash Borer in tunnel.
Photo by Eric R. Day, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Bugwood.com

At the moment, there's no way to stop the EAB. Scientists hope that its spread can be slowed down long enough for them to find a way to save the ash trees. If they can't, there will be no more ash trees.

For full information on the EAB,  especially for information on how to identify it, visit www.emeraldashborer.info.

There is also information on the Connecticut DEEP website.

If you see any signs of EAB, you should report it to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. You can email the state entomologist at CAES.StateEntomologist@ct.gov.


Today's announcement reminded me that we've lost two magnificent trees on the Waterbury Green. I think they are elm trees, but I'm not 100% certain.

When the trees started growing leaves this spring, I noticed the one to the right (in the photo below) wasn't growing any leaves. Oddly, the tree directly behind the horse fountain was growing leaves only on the half of the tree further away from the other one. Those leaves shriveled up and died.

Both trees still have a little life left near the ground, a few shoots of green leaves, but I'm sure they won't last long.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Brass City Comic Convention

Didn't have enough money for the San Diego Con? Try the Brass City Comic Convention, right here in Waterbury, the birthplace of the comic book!

The convention is hosted by Naugatuck Valley Community College, thanks to Professor William H. Foster III, who has done a lot of work researching and writing about how African Americans have been represented in comic books over the decades.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Zombies In My Backyard

WARNING: If you are squeamish about bugs, flies, fungus, or creepy crawly things, you might want to skip this post.

I spent a little time in my garden today and was surprised to find a large number of dead insects clinging to the undersides of leaves, on flowers, and even clustered on a metal wire I use to mark the edge of my vegetable garden. They are in the back yard and the side yard. I am a novice gardener, so I don't always know what is normal and what is unusual. I'm leaning toward this being unusual.

It took me a while to figure out what insect I was looking at. When I found a few that still had their wings barely attached, I realized they were all ordinary bottle flies.

How do bottle flies normally die? Wouldn't they be like houseflies, curling up in a corner?  These dead flies all have a tight grip on the leaves and wire. That can't be normal. It reminds me of the parasite that turns honeybees into zombies or, even more so, the fungus that does the same thing to ants.

Some of the flies appear to be slowly expanding, their exoskeleton cracking open. At least, I think that's what's happening. I'm not equipped or willing to start a dissection.

I tried doing a search for parasites that kill blowflies or bottle flies, and all I came up with was information about their larvae being parasites that harm birds. Then I remembered learning about a fungus turning ants into zombies, forcing them to climb upwards, then cling onto a leaf or branch with a death grip, allowing the fungus to grow inside the ant, then disperse its spores from the corpse.

As soon as I Googled for blowfly fungus, I found a photo from 2008 of a blowfly killed by fungus in Massachusetts. Mystery solved!

Further research suggests that the fungus is possibly Entomophthora muscae (or a related fungus).

For more on fungi turning flies into zombies, read

Donegal Wildlife blog (fungi in Ireland in 2008)

Fly-Killing Fungus photo (2006, no location)

New Zealand lab experiments to create zombie-making fungus in 2007 (okay, I'm sensationalizing a little; but it's so much like in the movies! Scientists develop fungus that kills flies--what happens next? Does the fungus start to turn humans into zombies? Stay tuned, and watch out for climbers!)

Biopesticide Evaluation, 2009

Dead blowfly in Louisiana, 2009