Friday, December 9, 2016

Tips from Shelton Police

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Shelton Police arrested a Waterbury women fro steeling packages from the front steps of condos in the city. This is a year round problem that gets much wise around Christmas time.

Here are some tips for the Shelton PD:

Police asked residents that if they are having packages delivered they should: 
  • Request delivery to the store itself and pick up the item there.
  • Have the package delivered to their work address or to the courier’s pickup station rather than their home.
  • Schedule delivery for a day that they know they will be home or a relative or friend will be home.
  • Require a signature upon receipt for deliveries.

Movie Review—Arrival

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by Peter J. O’Connell                                                                                              

Arrival. Released: Nov. 2016. Runtime: 116 mins. MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language.

The arrival of craft from outer space and the debate among earthlings as to whether to attack the aliens or seek to befriend them is one of the basic plot situations of science fiction. Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve, focuses on what determines that choice: accurate communication. Appropriately, the film’s protagonist is a noted professor of linguistics, Louise Banks (Amy Adams).

We encounter Louise at the beginning of the film interacting with her daughter, Hannah, in scenes that show the girl from young childhood to young adulthood, when she dies of a rare, incurable disease. We then go to news of the arrival of extraterrestrial vessels at various points around the globe.

The spacecraft hover slightly above the ground and look somewhat like huge upended eggs. One of the craft has come to Montana, and the government has ordered it surrounded by troops commanded by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker). Louise and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, are called upon to make contact with the visitors from beyond.

The movie weaves a fascinating spell in the scenes that follow. Louise and Ian make repeated entries into the bleak interior of the foreboding pod and attempt to communicate with . . . Abbott and Costello. No, not the spirits of the comedic pair; “Abbott and Costello” are the names that Louise and Ian give to the two beings from beyond with whom they begin to have interaction.

The beings are seven-limbed and resemble a combination of octopi, whales, elephants and spiders. Viewing them is somewhat like experiencing the surrealism of a dream. Abbott and Costello are highly imaginative creations by Villeneuve and his crew and so is the “look” of the film.

That look, sustained throughout, is not a beautiful one in the conventional sense. Villeneuve says that he wanted it to feel like “This was happening on a bad Tuesday morning, like when you were a kid on the school bus on a rainy day and you would dream while looking out the window at the clouds.” The beauty of the production’s gray, grungy look lies in the fact that it is the perfect correlative of the earthlings’ struggle to understand the unique and uncertain situation with which they find themselves confronted.

Gradually, Louise comes to realize that the aliens use a written language of complicated circular symbols, somewhat reminiscent of Rorschach images. She and Ian begin to learn the symbols that correspond to a basic vocabulary. While they are learning, however, fear is spreading around the globe, and there is rioting in various countries. When a key phrase from the aliens is interpreted by Louise in one way and in other countries in a quite different way, the possibility of violent action against the aliens looms. And the colleagues of Louise and Ian are not immune to the fear and trend toward violence, which could result in apocalypse.

 At this point, astonishing developments take place. Audience members must decide for themselves whether these developments constitute profound revelations about time, space, communication and relationships or whether they are magical/mystical/mathematical mumbo jumbo.

What few can dispute, however, is the power of Amy Adams’ subdued but deeply moving performance. Without any flashy moments, this superb actress tells the tale of the aliens’ arrival—and of Louise’s life—through nuanced facial expressions and body language. This star surely shines in this science-fiction story.

“Footnote” to the film: Arrival is based on the novella The Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bamboozled: A new (and heck, smart) weapon against gift card fraud

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A quick pit-stop in CVS yielded the unexpected.
On the public address system came a warning.
"The IRS and other government agencies will never require you to use a specific payment method for your bills, such as prepaid debit cards, iTunes cards or other gift cards," it said. "If anyone calls you and demands that you buy gift cards to pay a bill, hang up and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at"
A fraud warning? In a store? In a store where people can buy gift cards -- gift cards that are often used for scams?
It was like Christmas came early for Bamboozled.  
We reached out to CVS to say, "Hey, this is awesome!" and to ask for additional information.


I love attending the theater, but with hearing loss it can be challenging. The dialogue moves quickly, performers sometimes speak in heavy accents and the phrasing of the songs can make it hard to understand what the actors are saying. What a dream it would be if the performances were captioned.
Well, it turns out some of them are.
Last week, I attended my first open-captioned performance on Broadway. It was wonderful. The musical, “Tuck Everlasting,” is set in a magical woodland outside a provincial town. It deals with life and death, and asks the question, “Would you want to live forever?” The dialogue is fun, the sets beautiful, and the 11-year old star is a dynamo. The captions were a huge help. I even saw my husband (no hearing loss) glancing over a few times to pick up a line of dialogue or two that he missed.
The captions were sponsored by the Theater Development Fund (TDF), a nonprofit organization based in New York City that’s been working since 1968 to open up theater and dance to more diverse audiences in New York and other cities. TDF sponsors open-captioned performances on Broadway, like the one I attended, and also audio-described performances for the blind, sign language–interpreted shows, and autism-friendly performances. The organization offers tickets through its website for members who demonstrate eligibility. You can join for free here.  Click here to continue reading.

Wow a Christmas Tree for $1,000

Yuletide capitalism is running rampant this year — with the cost of a Christmas tree topping $1,000 in one Manhattan neighborhood.
Longtime Greenwich Village tree seller Heather Neville said Sunday that her tallest — and priciest — offering will command an astonishing $77 per foot from any buyer who can’t haul it home.
“This 13-foot tree — a beautiful fir — is $750, and with delivery, installation with a stand and tip would be $1,000,” said Neville, who bills herself as the NYC Tree Lady.
Neville, 40, broke down the add-ons as $200 for the stand, $25 for delivery and setup and $20 each to the three or four men needed for the job.
She also justified the sky-high price tag — which could pay for 600-plus meals for the homeless at the Bowery Mission — by pointing to the exotic nature of the white fir on display at Seventh Avenue and 11th Street.
“They are not a traditional Christmas tree, so they are harder to get,” she said. “Not many farmers grow them. To find a good one is difficult.” Click here to continue reading.

Connecticut State Police warn of highway rest stop area scams

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MIDDLETOWN >> Connecticut State Police are warning travelers about a scam taking place at service areas along the state’s highways.
Police say they have received several reports of strangers approaching travelers at rest areas and asking for money, claiming they left their wallets at home and need cash for gas.
The scam has been reported at rest stops along Interstates 95 and 84 and the Wilbur Cross/Merritt Parkway.
Police are telling people to simply ignore the requests, and if they feel threatened by someone asking for money, to call 911.
Troopers say people are particularly vulnerable to these kinds of scams during the holiday season, because of the many legitimate charities collecting money, gift cards, toys, and food for those in need.

Blame wages and turtle doves: '12 Days' now costs $34,363

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — The slow recovery of the U.S. economy is continuing to keep the cost of Christmas — or at least the gifts listed in "The Twelve Days of Christmas" — from spiraling out of control.
The price of two turtle doves jumped from $290 to $375 this year, but nine of the other 12 gifts listed in the carol stayed the same price or became cheaper, including a partridge in a pear tree, according to the 33rd annual PNC Wealth Management Christmas Price Index released Thursday.
As a result, the overall cost of the gifts listed in the song increased 0.7 percent to $34,363, up $233 from last year's total of $34,131.
PNC Financial Services Group releases the price index each year as a whimsical way of tracking inflation.
Besides the turtle doves, only the cost of 11 pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming — both up 2.8 percent — increased.
Thomas Melcher, chief Investment officers for PNC Asset Management Group, said the increasing wages of drummers and pipers could signal a march toward higher wages for a broader range of workers in 2017. He said he wouldn't be surprised to see increases coming for the eight maids-a-milking, nine ladies dancing and 10 lords-a-leaping.
"There are some underlying inflationary pressures that seem to be building," Melcher said.
The price of five gold rings, as tracked by PNC, hasn't gone up in three years, even though the price of gold as a commodity has.
"At a certain point, the end product should begin to reflect the price appreciation of the commodity," Melcher said.
PNC calculates the prices from sources including retailers, bird hatcheries and two Philadelphia dance groups, the Pennsylvania Ballet and Philadanco. Click here to continue reading.