Thursday, June 18, 2009

smoozing with Bernie and other Vermont weirdness

My wife and I had to leave Vermont. I trash talked the place on a regular basis. If we hadn't left we would probably be deported from there. The authorities would have escorted us to the border and said, "Don't come back!"
We would not have looked back.
But now I am. What went wrong?.....Nothing!!!!???
Things change. Vermont changed. I changed.
There are some nifty things in Vermont. Our real estate agent name was Von Trapp.
Is that cool or what? Yes, He is part of "The Von Trapps". Great guy. Good agent. Singing skills? I don't know.
Green Mountain coffee roasters? Great coffee. Cabot Cheese? The Best. Ben and Jerry's? Yum, Yum.
You don't need to be in Vermont to get all these good things. Let' move to warmth.
I used to enjoy snow. I am not 10 years old any more. I do not enjoy driving in it. I do not enjoy walking in it. I do not enjoy shoveling it. It gets heavy.
I never enjoyed cold. The only thing you could do was brag about who had the coldest temperature. " It was 137 below zero at my house last night." It was so cold last night penguins were trying to break into my house." My house the temperature was absolute zero. molecules stopped moving for 12 minutes."
Vermont was taking the fun out of our life. The people were the biggest problem.
The problem started in 1957. IBM decided to build a facility in Essex Junction which is a suburb of the small city of Burlington. They hired 400 people. They were mostly liberal democrat engineers. At the time Vermont was a very conservative state. A Democrat could not get elected dog catcher or anything else. This changed with IBM. In the next 50 years the work force climbed to 10,000 workers at IBM.
The northern half of Vermont became very liberal. The Southern half, not so much.
Before IBM showed up Vermont main industry was Agriculture.
The farmers did not trust the newcomers from the big cities. The newcomers thought the farmers were a bunch of old cow herders who didn't know diddly squat or squiddly doo about anything. They didn't trust each other and still don't. The closer you get to Burlington the more you can feel it. It is difficult to make real friends in this area.
The people seem to be very guarded. It is like: "what do you want? Why are you talking to me?" It is difficult to have more than a superficial friendship. It changed the culture and politics of Vermont.

The politicians of Vermont are a pretty cool group. You can smooze with these guys.

Sen. Patrick Leahy is one of the old war horses of Congress. He is a powerful senator.
He is into the National and International scene. Yet, He will be seen all over the place in Vermont. You go to a parade, he's there. You go to work, He's there. (He has been to my worksite at least a half dozen times in the eleven years I worked there.) I have seen him at numerous events. I asked him one time if he was looking for a job at my work place. He said," No, I am saving your job." He showed up at work to announce a multimillion dollar defense contract that we had won. I liked that.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (pic above) is the recipient of the IBM effect on the Vermont culture. He is the only Socialist in the US congress. He was the Socialist Mayor of Burlington before going national. This guy you can spot a mile away. You can also hear him a mile away.
He has a head of unruly white hair. Even when the wind is not blowing it is all over the place. He has a voice that booms. He does not really need a microphone.
Bernie is a grass roots type of guy. He is always fighting for the little guy. He is very unpretentious. He is very well informed. He is a conservative's nightmare. I have been a registered republican all my life, but if I had an issue with the government, he is the guy I would want working for me. He is a very interesting guy. If you are ever in the senate gallery and want to find Bernie look to the left. further...further....further. Look for the unruly white hair over against the left wall. Yes, He is a socialist. He is passionate about it. He is not a nut case. If you want nut case politics, move south.

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