Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year 2015

The HNJJ crew's traditional New Year's song, New World Coming by Mama Cass Elliot...

This year we are including a picture of our usual New Year's celebration...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Merry Christmas From the ACLU Redux

Every year about his time many supposedly Christian Americans break their own Ninth Commandment by claiming that the ACLU is anti-Christmas. So the annual rerun from HNJJ 2011:

Christmas, the time of the year when anonymous forum posters around the United States mistakenly rant about the American Civil Liberties Union being anti-Christmas. These posters apparently pass around anti-ACLU emails filled with deliberately erroneous information and, without checking the facts, cut-and-paste them all over the Internet.

This year the HNJJ is going to be proactive, presenting only a handful of the many past ACLU cases that have supported the celebration of Christmas:

In 2003, the ACLU successfully defended the right of the members of a Massachusetts’ high school student Christian Bible Club to hand out candy canes with religious messages attached.

Five days before Christmas, 2006, Maui County, Hawaii, put up a Christmas tree after receiving a letter from the ACLU advising them they should get one.

The Rhode Island ACLU “…successfully interceded on behalf of an interdenominational group of carolers who were told they could not sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve to inmates at the women’s prison in Cranston.”

While preempting the annual anti-ACLU Christmas posts, its also time to address the annual years-old “send a Christmas card to the ACLU” message which has been debunked by many fact checkers including Snopes and Urban Legend.

As Hillsborough is located in Central Jersey, we couldn’t sign off without mentioning 2005's Turton, et al. v. Frenchtown Elementary School, et al. In this case, a second-grader was denied permission to perform the hymn Awesome God at an after-school talent show due to the religious content of the song. The ACLU participated amicus curiae, defending the child’s right to sing her chosen song.

As a brief update, here are links to the ACLU article Celebrating Chistmas in America and further information on ACLU Defending Christmas.

For those Christians who don't want to admit that they don't know what the ninth commandment is, it's the one about bearing false witness.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

HNJJ CHEF: Pumpkin Cake Roll

While the HNJJ Chef has claimed in the past to focus on Cheaper Healthier Easier Food,  this is one of those recipes that just has to be done for the holidays.  In the past many pumpkin cake rolls have been rather blah, but finding a recipe sponsored by a spice company suggested that it might be more flavorful...and it was...
They even put some pumpkin pie spice in the cream cheese filling.

There are a lot of dishes to wash, but putting it together wasn't as daunting as expected and it came out looking as good as the photographs in the fancy magazines.


Monday, November 3, 2014

The Not-Everyone's-Mayor FB Page

Every year since our Township Committee has gone all Republican, the committee members chose one of their own to anoint as mayor for the following year.  They choose a member who will be up for election for the Township Committee in the following year.

Why do they do this?  Well, there are several reasons.

Their election advertising for the next year will read "Vote For Mayor Smith" and there are many politically-na├»ve residents who think that they are actually chosing their mayor.  This also allows next year's candidate to get a lot of Mayoral photo-ops and other free advertising without running afoul of the NJ Election Law - so far.

And now with the advent of social media like Facebook, the "Mayor" can open a Facebook page, use his honorific title, and claim that it is a personal page even though he self-identifies as a politician.  He loads up this "mayors" page with vote-for-me advertising, only lets his worshippers (otherwise known as fans) and sycophants post on there, and blocks and deletes the comments of residents who don't agree with him.

Of course, this is the same mayor who works as a lobbyist and sent out a disgraceful negative political mailer last week.
Karma: action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation
Oldie of the day...


In the book Glued to the Tube by Cheryl Pawlowski (p. 144)was this comment about compromise:

"Effective social systems depend heavily on compromise.  It is impossible to gather a large number of people without some disagreements, so dissension must often be subverted for the common good.  Without a willingness by the majority to compromise, the social structure of the group quickly erodes."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Negative Politics Goes Local

Dirty politics is often considered something that only happens in Washington, not in the more genteel local races where voters believe that the worst that can happen is some arguing involving creative math about local tax claims.  Well, that belief has been definitively flushed in Hillsborough.
Township Committee Republican candidates Tomson and McCauley should be embarrassed by the disgraceful negative political mailer that went out this past week with their names on it.  Showcasing the worst of dirty politics, it used cut-and-paste "quotes",  innuendo and serious personal false allegations to attack their opponents Ms. Le and Mr. Beggiato.   
Tomson and McCauley should personally and publically apologize to Ms. Le and particularly Mr.. Beggiato and their families.  Next they should apologize to any of their supporters who have the grace to be ashamed to be associated with this garbage.  They should have the courage to stand up to the members of their Republican election committee who did this and tell them that this is not right.

 Hillsborough’s voters can hope that Mr. Tomson and Ms. McCauley understand that this was wrong. If they consider this moral and right, if they consider this politics as usual, if they don’t do whatever they can to correct it, then we are all in trouble.

One can hope that this mailer backfires.  That the residents of Hillsborough prove they possess a higher moral character and more intelligence than Tomson and McCauley think they do.  That voters realize that this was character assassination that has gone beyond the pale. 

It has occurred to the HNJJ crew that members of Hillsborough’s Republican Organization may be afraid to stand up for what they know to be wrong .  Maybe they fear that they will be the next target.  Maybe this has to do with monetary support or hoped-for political appointments.  Maybe there is an old-fashioned shunning that takes place.  All of the members of the HNJJ crew are so glad they are unaffiliated. - SG 


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vacant and Abandoned Houses

With the recent Passage of Ordinance 2014-11, Hillsborough is finally trying to control the abandoned houses that don't just look bad, but contribute to lower property values and attract unwanted visitors - both human and not.

The ordinance addresses "Vacant and Abandoned Residential Properties", establishing minimum standards for the maintenance, appearance, and condition of these houses.

The exterior should not be in disrepair, have out-of-service pools, have dead/rotting/diseased trees or loose or overhanging tree limbs, accumulated junk, litter or debris, accumulated hazardous, noxious, or unhealthy substances or materials, and not have landscaping in major disrepair.

There is a list of 15 conditions used to ascertain that a property falls under this ordinance.  These include overgrowth, accumulated papers/circulars/flyers, disconnected utilities, junk/litter/trash, absence of window treatments, broken windows, deterioration of the property, and boarded up entries. Three of them existing on an individual property may fulfill the ordinance's definition of an abandoned and vacant property.   

The ordinance also list maintenance standards for vacant and abandoned properties including uncut grass, exterior repair, loose parts that may fall, water entering the building, and broken gutters.

For more complete information, the entire ordinance may be read at the Township website under Introduced Ordinances 2014-11

If it appears that an empty house exists in Hillsborough that may meet these criteria, they may be reported to Health Officer Dr. Glen Belnay at the Hillsborough Municipal Building.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Prospective Jury Duty

This week one of the HNJJ crew had jury duty.  That is not to say that they served on a jury or even saw the inside of a courtroom, but following the receipt of a Jury Summons in the mail and several emails over two weeks-or-so they actually drove into the county seat at 8:30 a.m. one morning to report for jury duty. 

This person forgot what commuting at the same time as people who work "normal" hours is like.  It is not good. Try not to let it effect your mood if you get on a jury.

After finding the parking garage, walking over to the Jury Assembly Room via the courthouse metal detector, and checking in, the waiting began.  The jury assembly room is in a beautiful historic church that even contains four Tiffany stained glass windows.
The waiting room has a small library, some games, tables, coffee and tea, and a microwave.

Finally, the nice jury duty lady gave the welcoming informational speech and the potential jurors screened the NJ Judiciary Juror Orientation Video Part 1: You the Juror.  This is an interesting movie that everyone should watch, even if they haven't been summonsed for jury duty.  But, the HNJJ crew member - being a type A person - had already watched the movie at home.

 By late morning the peanut-butter-and jelly sandwich brought for lunch was beckoning. But just then, the nice jury duty lady made an announcement that we were free to go as our potential case had settled.

The remainder of the week consisted of several more emails advising that the jurors did not have to report and finally thanking the jurors for their service.

Interesting, but kind-of a disappointment and makes for a rather boring HNJJ post which won't have to be repeated for three years.

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Brother's Adventure circa 1944

This letter was found in the family papers of one of the HNJJ crew.  Lyn is the crew member's older brother.  It was brought to mind after reading Barry Carter's article this morning in The Star-Ledger about the restoration of Newark's Military Park. 

                                                                                96 Grand Avenue
                                                                                   Newark, 6, New Jersey
Dear Mother, Dad & Janice;

Here is a little note you can put in your scrap book and thank your lucky stars you weren't here.

Lyn and the little boy (3 1/2 yrs.) next door were lost from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. yesterday. 

The radio police from Newark, East Orange and Orange were out looking for them

All the boys over 12 who had bicycles for a couple blocks around were out looking, too.

The neighbors in the whole block were out. they were just grand.  The men who were working nights got up from bed and took their cars and scouted around the streets.

They were found in the Public Service terminal downtown.

They were trying to buy a horse.  They had been around some of the stores.  They had been down by the Passaic river  and seen the boats. (That's past Penn Station)  They had tried to get on a bus but the buses wouldn't stop.  They had been down the subway at Public Service to try and get on a trolley.  They had been in military park and watched the pidgeons.  A soldier had bought them a coca-cola each.  When they took them to the police station they had a better time yet the police gave them sandwiches and tea and took them to see the horses.

They had walked all the way.  They looked too tired to move when they were brought home.  It certainly was an adventure for them.  They had a grand time.

Every time I think of all the busy streets they crossed my hair stands on end.  I was quite sick yesterday and the people next door were terrible.  I called Midge up to let him know and they sent him home.  the man next door came home too.

When the police brought them home the neighbors were outside our house to welcome them.

Some catholic children had gone over to the church to light candles for their safe return.

I was afraid some one had picked them up or that they had gone up the mountain where I took the children for a picnic.  If they wandered up there they would never be found.

When they found them Lyn said he wasn't lost.  He knew the way home.

They had made an announcement over the local station down here and were just going to send out a general alarm to a couple states in case someone had picked them up.  They had come here for their pictures. (I mean the police by they)  I was going to call you if they had sent out a general alarm because it would have been in the paper up there.

                  Love from us all
                  Alice, Bill & children

The cop said don't whip them they are such cute wellbehaved little boys.  I don't think so now!!!!!

I don't know if you can understand this jumble of words, but this is how my mind is working today. (You can tell Bill's mother I don't feel up to writing two letters right now.  I'm still upset.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Earth's Fragile Ecology

Parade Magazine recently had an article about American Astronaut Sally Ride (1951-2012) that included a quote that got the attention of the HNJJ crew,
"I saw the blackness of space, and then the bright blue Earth. And then it looked as if someone had taken a royal blue crayon and traced along Earth’s horizon. And then I realized that that blue line, that -really thin royal blue line, was Earth’s atmosphere, and that was all there was of it. And it’s so clear from that perspective how fragile our existence is."
While researching that quote we found a similar thought attributed to German Astronaut Ulf Merbold,
"For the first time in my life I saw the horizon as a curved line. It was accentuated by a thin seam of dark blue light - our atmosphere. Obviously this was not the ocean of air I had been told it was so many times in my life. I was terrified by its fragile appearance."

How much have humans taken this fragility to heart since these 1980's observations?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Rutgers Environmental Stewards Class of 2014

Hillsborough residents are lucky that the Central Jersey classes are held right here at Duke Farms. From the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program:

Want a New Year’s Resolution You’re Sure to Stick With?
Sign up for Rutgers Environmental Steward training

Are you looking for a New Year’s resolution that you’re likely to stick with, once you embark on the journey? How about a way to give something back to your community in a way that’s meaningful and guaranteed to get you out and about?

Consider joining the 2014 class of the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program, which helps non-scientists to become citizen-scientists. Classes begin the first week in January in Atlantic, Warren, and Somerset counties, and typically run through May.

 An innovative partnership between Rutgers Cooperative Extension and the Duke Farms Foundation, the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program teaches participants about land and water stewardship, best management practices, environmental public advocacy, and leadership.

 The curriculum is designed to introduce non-scientists to the science underlying key environmental issues in the New Jersey. Academics are joined by colleagues from government and the non-profit sector to share understanding and insights with the students.

 “Students don’t only receive facts, but also are introduced to a network of expert individuals and organizations who can be of service to them in the future as they wrestle with solving local environmental problems,” said Bruce Barbour, agricultural and resource management agent with Rutgers Cooperative Extension, the program’s originator.

 “This can be among the most meaningful six months in your life,” adds Barbour, who has led the program for years and well worth the $250 fee.

In order to serve the entire state, training is offered in regional locations and recruitment has begun in earnest for the Class of 2014. Questions about registration or schedules should be directed to the coordinator of the region in which you expect to attend classes.
Central/Duke Farms

Training Location: Duke Farms, Hillsborough, NJ
Normal Class Time: Thursdays, January to May, 2014; 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Cost: $250
Contact: Deb Thomas, , Duke Farms Foundation, 80 Route 206, Hillsborough, New Jersey 08844 908-722-3700 x 4

Duke application form


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cold Weather

It was 7 degrees at 7 a.m. - a perfect day for a fire in the fireplace.

This may be the first time that it has been possible to sit quietly, meditate on Christmases past, and enjoy the Christmas decorations which stay up until at least Twelfth Night. Twelfth Night is tomorrow, the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Friday, January 3, 2014


"...No, I have no idea why they call it a birdbath."

Thursday, January 2, 2014

More Sourland Preservation!

Press release courtesy of the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders:
A Dec. 19 closing was held on 295 acres of land being deeded to the Somerset County Open Space program by real estate investor Bryce Thompson. The acquisition was completed through a partnership with New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Hillsborough Township, with additional grant funding provided from Conservation Resources Inc. and the State Green Acres Program.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation secured an option agreement to purchase 350 acres from Mr. Thompson that was transferred to the county. The county closed on the additional 55 acres in August 2013.

The property will remain largely in its natural state. Somerset County and New Jersey Conservation Foundation will work together to develop a management plan that will outline planning and management activities most appropriate for the health and public enjoyment of the land.

The 350 acres, which are made up of several tracts in Hillsborough Township near the intersection of Wertsville and Montgomery roads, are contiguous to other open-space lands acquired by Somerset County in recent years and will encourage the expansion of the Sourland Mountain Preserve to the Hunterdon County border, where many local, county and nonprofit preservation initiatives are currently underway.

“We are pleased to have worked with New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Hillsborough Township toward the common goal of preserving this property,” said Freeholder Director Peter S. Palmer. “The acquisition adds significant acreage to the county’s growing Sourland Mountain Preserve, providing opportunities for connections with preserved lands in Hunterdon County. The ongoing partnership with New Jersey Conservation Foundation to maintain the property will ensure that this significant environmental resource is protected for future generations.”

“Land preservation remains a top priority in Hillsborough Township,” said Deputy Mayor Doug Tomson, liaison to the township’s Open Space Advisory Committee. “The acquisition of this tract of land is a fine example of how the joint forces of Somerset County, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and municipalities, specifically Hillsborough, can continue to realize that initiative.”

“The New Jersey Conservation Foundation would like to extend its thanks to Bryce Thompson for preserving this critical property, which will serve as a cornerstone of the Sourlands Mountain Preserve,” said Greg Romano, assistant director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

"On behalf of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, we are delighted to provide grant funds for the preservation of this key tract, which was identified as a priority in the recent Raritan Piedmont Wildlife Habitat Partnership comprehensive conservation plan," said Michael Catania, president of Conservation Resources Inc.

The Sourland Mountain region is an expansive green swath of intact forest and farmland spanning parts of three largely developed central New Jersey counties. It extends from the central part of Hillsborough Township southwest to the Delaware River in West Amwell, Hunterdon County, and Hopewell Township, Mercer County.

The Sourlands contain over 20,000 contiguous forested acres that protect the water supply to the headwaters of several significant streams flowing to the D&R Canal, Millstone, Raritan and Delaware rivers. The Sourlands support many rare plant and animal species and provide nesting and migratory stopover habitat for over 100 species of migratory birds.

Somerset County began the preservation of the Sourland Mountain in Hillsborough and Montgomery townships in the early 1970s. With the addition of the Thompson property, the preserve will exceed 5,900 acres, making it the largest park in Somerset County’s 14,000-acre park system.

Hillsborough Township has been very active with preservation efforts in the Sourlands. The township and the county have worked together on several open-space acquisitions in the Sourland region, creating linkages between county and local preserved lands.

The Far Hills-based New Jersey Conservation Foundation, which preserves open space and farmland throughout the state, is working to protect additional acreage in the Sourland Mountains.