Tag Archives: Granite State Ambassador

The Unique All Black Old Railway Semaphore Signals in Alton Bay, NH. What A Sight.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
Δ The Old Railway Semaphore Signals in Alton Bay, NH — In Desperate Need Of Attention — Aug. 9, 2012.
Δ Lakes Region (NH) Economy Booming Per Local Builders — Oct. 18, 2012.
Δ Alton, NH Property Tax Rate: Highest It Has Been In Last 5 Years — Nov. 19, 2012.

The now painted all black railway semaphore signals above the 'Old Railway Station' in Alton, NH by Anura Guruge

The now painted all black railway semaphore signals above the ‘Old Railway Station’ in Alton, NH. It is possible that they got it 50% right, which is not too bad, considering. Click to ENLARGE.

A bit of background: The desperately sorry state of these semaphore signals were brought to my attention in early August of this year. I contacted the lady who runs Alton Parks and Recreation, this building being a part of their domain. I kind of knew her given that our kids went to the same school. She indicated that they hoped to get to it ‘this fall‘. Given that I don’t like to ask people to do things without offering to help, I did offer to do any research required to determine the correct colors and marking (this not being too much of a chore given that I do love all things trains).

Come October I found out that the chief maintenance person at ‘Parks & Recs.’ had taken a 3 week vacation. I was getting concerned. From the little I know, it gets difficult to paint outside when the temperature is below 40°F, and I had heard that NH had had its first frost. In mid-October I happened to meet the ‘lady in charge’ at a school function. A major impediment according to her was that the maintenance folks wanted a ‘Cherry Picker’ [i.e., hydraulic bucket lift] to do the painting! The irony that the builders that build that station or much of the railways in the NE did not have ‘Cherry Pickers’ escaped her. Those semaphores, which actually have a ladder attached to them (as can be clearly seen in the picture) probably have never had any work done to them via a ‘Cherry Picker’. Since she was reluctant to ask the Alton Fire Dept. for help, she said that she would consider hiring an outside contractor. I contacted, unsuccessfully, three local builders to get a quote.

A few days later I called the Alton Town Administrator, E. Russell Bailey, and left him a voice mail. He never called me back. A couple of weeks later, actually on Election Day, November 6, the local newspaper reporter stopped by after the polls closed for some pizza. I started telling him about the poor semaphores since he is local and grew up in Alton. He stopped me mid-sentence and said it had been brought up at the last Selectman’s Meeting and permission had been given to use a town ‘Cherry Picker’ (which I assume was from the fire department). I even read about it, albeit just one sentence, in the paper the following week.

Then towards the end of last week, I think it might have been Thursday, I got an e-mail from ‘Parks and Recs’ asking whether I had seen the freshly painted signals. I had not. The next day I went looking armed with my ‘point-and-click’ camera. I was mortified. Both arms were black. It was like an omen. ‘Black‘ is so symbolic. As it happens, Alton which I think prides itself of preserving some historic railway artifacts actually has another semaphore signal — basically at the back of the Town Hall. We drove around to have a look at that. That is not in great shape either, but you could clearly see the Red Arm. So that is where we are. They never asked me to research the colors and obviously they couldn’t be bothered to do it themselves. Now it is possible that this could be color blindness problem. But, I think I finally found a plausible explanation. Please refer to the last picture.

So today, after Thanksgiving and doing a post on a cardinal that turned 80, I did some quick research on the Web.

Quickly found this picture of the Alton Bay Station taken on 14 October 2008. You can clearly see that one arm is red.

Extracted from a picture on ‘flickr’ by a ‘kla4067’, Ron Reiring. Click image to access his original. My thanks to him. This was a great help.

Then I also found this, though this is NOT of the Alton semaphore, though you can immediately see that it is a similar set of signals.

Extracted from another ‘flickr’ image, this one from t55z T (again with thanks). Click image to access his original. This time you can’t mistake the red arm and you can clearly see that the hardware is more or less identical to what we have in Alton.

Then I found this. Bingo. A ‘Boston and Maine‘. Looks very similar to the application in Alton. I think it is what might be characterized as a ‘yard signal‘. The red arm acts as a stop signal for the main line. The other arm has to do with local operations. I really haven’t researched it. I am more familiar with the British style, two quadrant, signals which act in tandem like a two digit binary number giving you 4 possible modes of operation.

This looks like a great example of how these ‘yard signals’ were used by ‘Boston & Maine’

More contemporary. The Downeaster in Durmham, NH

In a museum.

If Alton did do any research this was probably the picture they used. Enough said.

Keene Pumpkin Festival, Keene, NH — Was A Blast, Though The Record Was Missed By 1,500 Pumpkins.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
1/ Pictures From Keene Pumpkin Festival — Oct. 21, 2012.
2/ Pumpkin Festival In Keene, NH, Saturday, October 20, 2012 From Noon Till 8:30 PM
Oct. 16, 2012.
3/ Keene (NH): Pumpkin Festival Saturday, October 20, 2012 From Noon —
PARKING, $15/car — Oct. 19, 2012.
5/ Keene Pumpkin Festival: HGTV ‘Pumpkin Wars’ & Another World Record Attempt
—– Oct. 19, 2012.

Click on ANY image to ENLARGE it to FULL SIZE.


It was a BLAST. I had a great time. I got to do my Granite State Ambassador (GSA) ‘meet-and-greet’ stuff and that is always fun. This time around, in the evening, I got to hand out lighters and candles to folks so that they could participate in the lightning. Being handed a lighter just lit up the faces of so many.

The food prices were exceptional — in that they were CHEAP. Cheeseburgers and burgers were $3. Hot dogs were $2. Water or soda was $1! French fries was $3. Three shrimps on a stick was $3. Compared to the exploitation at this years Highland Games in Loon, this was a pleasant respite. Well done the food vendors. They were, obviously, working on the ‘cheap gas’ model — make up for the difference in price through volume. Seemed to work. I spent $30 on food, whereas I, on principle, refused to spend a cent on food at Loon (instead eating the food we had taken with us).

Huge crowds. I don’t know the numbers but definitely more than there was at this year’s Highland Games or Sandwich Fair. Much, much, much more than came to Laconia’s Multicultural Day in September.

I am so proud of Keene. I am in awe of Keene. I have known Keene for 25 years. Keene always seemed ebullient. Yesterday, it outdid itself. Yes, having a ‘youthful’ university, Keene State, in town helps, but it was more than that. Laconia, Gilford and Wolfeboro look and feel like ghost towns compared to Keene! What gives. I am formulating a theory that the towns on the western side of our State (Hanover another example) do better because of the influence from Vt. I wish Laconia, Gilford or Wolfeboro had the gumption to do something world class like this pumpkin festival. Alton has no chance. We can’t even get our semaphore painted!

We were at the festival from 11:20 am till 7:20 pm, bar 1 hour when we went to pay a surprise visit to our favorite dog breeder, Golden Retrievers, of course, in Surry, NH. Though ‘Deb’ didn’t know we were coming she graciously invited us to come and play with her latest batch; 3 weeks old and related to our 11 year old Ulysses.

3 week old puppies at ‘Red Fox Farm’ in Surry who are related to our 11 year old Golden, Ulysses.

All the above said, yesterday’s organization was not optimal. To be fair all the necessary logistics were not in place till around 2:30 pm, though the Festival officially opened at noon. At 2pm the main merchandizing tent still was unable to SELL their T-shirts, though they had been on display for an hour, for reasons that were never apparent. Yes, I had folks coming to me and complaining. The tickets for the Ferris Wheel etc. nor the necessary signs went up, much before 2pm. It was a small Ferris wheel. Line was huge. I heard that the wait times were over an hour. Yes, I heard folks bitching. The carving station wasn’t open on time. More folks moaned. So, it wasn’t perfect. It was actually a bit of a mess, BUT people still had a good time.

I never did see the $15 parking. We parked for free twice. Yes, you can park on the streets and walk. When we got back from Surry, at 5:30, we managed to park within 1/2 mile of the Festival WITHOUT any trouble. We walked. Took about 15 minutes.

Though the collection of donations was haphazard, somebody made a LOT of money yesterday. Yes, I can see that there are some expenses. The stands for the pumpkins, publicity, entertainment, the TOWER etc. etc. Hhhmmm.

But, definitely that we enjoyed, though Deanna was beyond mad about having to walk to-and-fro waiting for the carving station to finally open.

The weather. It was TOO HOT! Wow. Folks in shorts.

Lots of amazing costumes.

It was a GREAT DAY for Keene, NH
— with or without a world record.

Keene still WON, big.

Keene Pumpkin Festival: HGTV ‘Pumpkin Wars’ & Another World Record Attempt

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
1/ Pumpkin Festival In Keene, NH, Saturday, October 20, 2012 From Noon Till 8:30 PM
Oct. 16, 2012.
2/ Keene (NH): Pumpkin Festival Saturday, October 20, 2012 From Noon —
PARKING, $15/car — Oct. 19, 2012.
3/ Back Volunteering As A Granite State Ambassador (GSA)
July 14, 2012.

4/ New Hampshire Stories: Laconia Rotary Club
—-and the ‘University of Whales’ — Oct. 9, 2012.

Click to watch video on Yahoo (from NH Channel 9, WMUR).

Click image to read more about HGTV program. My kids plan to be on it!

Not much more I can add that is not already in the above ‘clips’. On HGTV ‘Pumpkin Wars’ and an attempt at the Guinness Book World Record.
See you there. Cheers.

Keene (NH): Pumpkin Festival Saturday, October 20, 2012 From Noon — PARKING, $15/car

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
1/ Pumpkin Festival In Keene, NH, Saturday, October 20, 2012 From Noon Till 8:30 PM
Oct. 16, 2012.
2/ Back Volunteering As A Granite State Ambassador (GSA)
July 14, 2012.

3/ New Hampshire Stories: Laconia Rotary Club
—-and the ‘University of Whales’ — Oct. 9, 2012.

Click to access the ‘Parking’ page at the official Website.

Just a heads up, because it caught me by surprise when I saw it late last night. $15 per car for parking.

Admission is free, BUT I now find out (because I will be one of them collecting it), that all will be asked for a $5 donation per adult! So, again, a heads up. It is, however, definitely, categorically, voluntary, no obligation and they will not make you wear a ‘yellow start’ to denote you didn’t make a donation.

The two main attractions are the 40′ Ferris Wheel and a Haunted Alley. Yes, you have to pay for those too. So come prepared, especially if you have kids.

This is my 1st time so I have no data or parameters to work with or off. Just in terms of initial reaction the $15 for parking and $5/adult voluntary DONATION seems a tad high! That can add up to a LOT of loot. Who gets that money? I am sure it is registered as a non-profit … but that doesn’t say anything out outlandish ‘expenses’ (and I will leave it at that).

I will, as is my wont, try and find out.

I have been told, but won’t know if it is true till I get there, that we (i.e., those of us volunteering at this event) have special parking. Maybe it just means we will be asked to pay $25/car.

Stay tuned.


Pumpkin Festival In Keene, NH, Saturday, October 20, 2012 From Noon Till 8:30 PM. We Plan To Attend.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
1/ Back Volunteering As A Granite State Ambassador (GSA)
July 14, 2012.

2/ New Hampshire Stories: Laconia Rotary Club
—-and the ‘University of Whales’ — Oct. 9, 2012.

Click image to access the official festival Website.

We have never been to the Keene Pumpkin Festival, though each time we have seen it on TV we have talked about making the trek.

Keene is about as far as you can get from here, while still staying within NH. That said, we do go to Keene given that our favorite dog breeder, Goldens, of course, is in Surry (just north of Keene). They introduced us to a decent Indian restaurant at the Keene airport.

This year, the New Hampshire Granite State Ambassadors (GSA) are helping out at the festival. Since I am very remiss in the hours I put in, I decided to volunteer here and basically smash two pumpkins with one stone. It looks like great fun and I will be putting in some much needed hours.

We are all going. Entrance is FREE.

Their Website is good, and already has a schedule, a map, parking, list of vendors etc. So go check it out. We have to be there by noon. I will be brown, as usual, and wearing a green GSA shirt. Come and say ‘hello‘. So, see you there. Cheers.

New Hampshire’s Famous ‘Live Free Or Die’ Motto Only Came To Be In 1945.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

I moved to New Hampshire in the Fall of 1986 BECAUSE of the motto!

I was living in Maryland (having come over from Britain in February 1985 (for what was my second stint in the U.S.)) and had been offered a job with Wang in Lowell. On one of the trips up to Lowell I saw a NH license plate and knew that I had no choice. I had to live in NH because that motto struck a chord. I was hooked. I could relate to it.

I still love it. I even adopted it to be mine: ‘Think Free Or Die‘, as you can see on my Web site.

I will, however, readily confess that despite my obvious fondness and affinity I had never bothered to check up on its origins or history. I am also sure that it wasn’t a topic covered in depth in my 2-day ‘Granite State Ambassador‘ (GSA) training class in 2001.

So, I was taken aback, when reading in my AARP Monthly Supplement for September (and getting even more convinced that I am ready to shortly keel over) an article about the battle ground states for the November election I saw a claim that the ‘Live Free Or Die‘ had only come to be in 1945. Wow. I had assumed that it went back to the 1860s, post U.S. Civil War. Since I do not take everything I read as Gospel I Googled it. Wow. They were right.

1945 — during the midst of WW II. The State Emblem came to be at the same time. I learned a lot in a very short time.

It comes from the American Revolutionary War, as opposed to the Civil War. It was coined by General John Stark, supposedly NH’s most famous soldier in that war. He wrote it, in July 31, 1809, as a toast to be given at a Battle of Bennington anniversary reunion dinner that he could not attend due to poor health. His toast was: Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.

I kind of remember seeing that there had been protests against the motto — especially its appearance on ALL NH non-commercial license plates. I now found details. As you could guess there are those that find this battle cry too incendiary, especially the part about the dying. Per the U.S. Supreme Court, as of 1977, you can cover up part of the motto on license plates … possibly even the whole motto, though in 27-years of living in NH I don’t recall ever seeing a covered up motto.

Laconia Multicultural Day September 8, 2012: They Pulled It Off Again. Thank You. THE REPORT CARD.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
1/ Laconia Multicultural Day September 8, 2012: Finally Found The ProgramSept. 7, 2012.
2/ Updates: Laconia Multicultural Day September 8 & NH Highland Games …, 2012Sept. 5, 2012.

3/ Laconia Multicultural Day, NH, September 8, 2012August 18, 2012.

They never did put the program on their Web site.
That is a cardinal, inexcusable sin.

Click on ANY of the pictures to enlarge them. For those that don’t know … the building in the back is the historic Belknap Mill.

Check out the boy doing an Indian ‘Namaste’. That is priceless and epitomizes all that is GREAT about the Laconia Multicultural Day. Bravo.

This was around 12:30. It started off ‘light’ but the crowds grew as the afternoon progressed … but it was dead by 3:45 even though RasMoon & Monsoon were still playing their hearts out.

To watch kids mesmerized is what this day is all about. Yes, the one in yellow is ours. She thought it was great. This is the future. The kids loved it. Well done, Laconia.

Well done Laconia. Well done organizing committee — you pulled it off again. Thank YOU. Bravo. It is so good to have this in Laconia. It makes me so happy.

In 1999, I had, on business, to meet with a high-flying networking Sales Lady in Meredith, at the ‘Inn on the Bay’. She lived in Center Harbor. She worked for one of the top tier networking companies of the time, flying around the country from Manchester or Logan. She brought her two daughters, 6 & 4 (with a nanny). Afterwards she told me that I was the first non-white person her kids had ever seen! That was 1999.

People don’t believe me but I can go for a week in Alton without ever seeing a non-white person. So having this celebration of diversity once a year, in the very diverse Laconia, is indeed a treat, a treasure and joy. Thank you again, Laconia.

My REPORT CARD for 2012
(as somebody who has attended each and everyone of the Laconia Multicultural Days).

For just doing it: A+

Effort: A+

Overall Experience today: A

‘Energy’/Ambiance: A-

Organization: C, and that only because in my opinion publicity and the Web site let the side down badly (and I am not sure whether they even did any social media marketing).

Event Programming: B-. I understand that they have to cut their suit according to their cloth and that the budget has to be tight. Having the event fizzle out at 4pm (most having left earlier) is anticlimactic. In the early days we had an evening concert and they used to be a blast. I remember a Reggae group. We have their CD downstairs. We rocked into the night. A 4pm finish is way too early. Plus, this years selection of performers was OK but not great. I think we had at least a 50% repetition from the last few years; we having seen that same Indian Dance troupe and the Burundi Drummers before. [My initial claim that we might have seen these last year might be erroneous though the wife and the kids think that the Burundi Drummers were there last year. Might have been the year before. If I was wrong, I am sorry; old age.] While writing this I also realized that the customary martial arts segment was missing. Overall it felt a tad flaccid and tired. It sure wasn’t HopFest 2012 — BUT as I said with HopFest, that was Dartmouth and they rarely put a foot wrong.

Weather: B+. No rain! Blustery and more than one tent looked like it would blow away. But, the sun shone.

Crowds: C. Wasn’t bad, especially given the ‘iffy’ weather forecast. About the same as last year, though the bulk of the crowds were there between 2 and 3. Around noon it was still quiet. By 4 most of the audience was gone. Always amazes me as to who is not there! There is some palpable snobbishness, but that is OK. Also, understandably, more Democrat politicians running for office pressing the flesh, as opposed to their rivals from the other party who probably don’t feel that this is their demography. Got a chance to talk with Andrew Hosmer who is running for NH Senate. First time I have met him. Very nice guy. Nice family. I was impressed. I hope he wins. Though this was not a Granite State Ambassador (GSA) event, I went in uniform and even wore my badge. Two people who have known me for years exclaimed that they had not realized I was a GSA; this being the first time I had worn my insignia to the event.

Web site: F-. That it was last updated on July 29 is a crime. Get with it Laconia, this is 2012.

Sound: C, and for the first time in my experience sound quality was variable and in some instances, especially for poor ‘Cinder Conk’ downright poor. Yes, we had swirling, near gale force winds which didn’t help. I know the 2 guys who do the sound. Nicest people in the world. Yes, I went and spoke to them 3 times. I have always, prior to today, said that they do a better job than those at the Highland Games who always stumble about as if they have never done it before. A rare miss and I am sure we will be back to ‘A+’ next year.

Food Selection: A. I think there were even more vendors, and other than ‘China Bistro’ that had jacked up their prices, the other prices were compelling. Thank you.

Bible Tents: D. Way too many. Somebody told me that they shouldn’t be there. I don’t agree. It is multicultural and religion is a part of that though more diversity would have been more in tune. Maybe they should strive to get more eclectically in these ‘in your face‘ tents — though of course, we had a Jewish, Turkish and Nepali food tents.

Printed Program: C. Par for the course. Nothing special. When we got there at noon I couldn’t find anybody handing them out. I went looking for some and came back with a handful that I gave to people. Why couldn’t this be online as a PDF?

The Performances We Saw

Cinder Conk (Baltic Sea): B. They performed out of sequence at noon because the Burundi Drummers were having car trouble and were late. That was very good of them to step in. Bravo. Just three of them; could have been father and two daughters. Talented musicians and they played some Romani music to which I am very partial. They were, however, low key, low tempo, low energy. They did not have me or the crowd up and hopping. It was very pleasant, soothing chamber music; elevator music with lyrics. That they had the prime noon spot, by accident, did not help them. The sound system did them a grave injustice. I spoke to my two buddies in the sound tent. It all had to do with Cinder Conk being all acoustic. Cranking up the sound resulted in unacceptable feedback on the speakers. They tried. The performers complained — albeit not realizing that they were not being heard towards the back. I would love to have them play at a restaurant. They said they specialize in ‘life events’: weddings, christenings, birthdays etc. They will be excellent for that.

NH Burundi Drummers and Dancers: A-. They certainly energized and entertained the crowd. The kids were enthralled, especially since they had a few very cute, very young dancers. Their high tempo percussion forces you to tap your feet. They were, as ever, fun. I think they felt and looked distracted; car troubles trying to get to a gig can easily do that. I am glad they made it. I am glad we got to hear and see them.

Classical Indian Dance: A+. They have been doing this for a few years now and it gets better each year. Though not Indian, I was very proud and delighted to see the dancing. I have, having spent a lot of time in India, seen a lot of Indian dancing in India. This was good. The crowd appreciated it. A couple of men, thinking that I am Indian, complimented ME on the dancing. Bravo. It would be great if we could have some live Indian musicians to accompany these dancers next year.

RasMoon & Monsoon: B-. I love Reggae and so do the kids. They were good BUT they were no monsoon; more like a Spring shower. Yes, they had some on the floor dancing, but it lacked punch and a compelling beat. Yes, the sound system let them down too. As with all the performances, I walked right up to listen to them close and get some pictures. They sounded better at the back of the bandstand than at the front. That they failed to keep their audience till the end says its own story. A friend who was with us said that people left because it was too loud for them — and that made me feel guilty because I was urging the sound folks to crank it up. But, Reggae isn’t parlor music. It is supposed to be loud, boisterous and exuberant.

As far as we could tell, and we didn’t leave till about 4:20 (because I was chatting with ‘Dem Pols’), there was no Closing Ceremony though there was supposed to be one. That kind of summed up the day, but I am not complaining. It was a good day.

Captivating the next generation is what today was all about.

The Old Railway Semaphore Signals in Alton Bay, NH — In Desperate Need Of Attention

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

I was well aware of the old railway semaphores above the Old Railway Station (now the Community Center) in Alton Bay. I do glance up at them every once in awhile as we go by, but I had not looked at them closely until this Sunday.

One room of the Community Center is used by the Lakes Region Tourist folks as an Information Booth. This Sunday I did an afternoon shift at that booth in my capacity as a Granite State Ambassador. One of the tourist board employees drew my attention to the signals. He had been trying to get Alton Town to paint them. He had called one of the selectman (who happens to be my neighbor) a few months ago — but to no avail. I know the person who heads up Alton Parks and Recreation, so I promised to contact her. I did, as soon as I got home – via e-mail. I got an e-mail back. They are aware that the semaphore needs attention and are hoping to get to it this fall.

I am not sure why we have to wait until fall. The whole structure is crying out for some attention — at least a coat of paint. Look at the pictures above — that I took yesterday (when I went to pick up the kids from a day camp at the Community Center).

The British red and yellow signals that I grew up with.

Though I have been a life long train buff (with a badly neglected Z-gauge train set, bits and pieces of other train sets and a lot of books on trains) I have not paid any attention to the history of the railroad that served Alton — though I do also visit Railway Park. So I have no idea of the provenance of these semaphores. It is interesting that you do not see them in old photos of the building! Of course there has to be folks in Alton who know the whole history. I just wish they would rally around and get this restored. Also not sure that black is the right color for the semaphores — though I am the first to admit that my experience of semaphore signalling is 100% based on the British scheme, which is what I grew up with in Ceylon and Britain. Yes, I had little British yellow and red semaphore signals for my HO railway set in Ceylon.

I have offered to help restore these signals. Not that I have the time, but I feel that it is something I should do given that it is train related and in Alton. But, if you can help PLEASE contact Alton Parks and Rec.


Back Volunteering As A Granite State Ambassador (GSA)

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

I ‘passed’ my 2-day, SNHU run, GSA certification course, in Laconia, in the Spring of 2001. So, I have been a GSA since then. I was fairly active during the first 18 months, typically volunteering Thursday mornings at the Laconia Chamber of Commerce. It was the then director of that Chamber, the larger-than-life, Kinney O’Rouke, who got me involved with the GSA.

Kinney O’Rouke at our Gilford house in 2003.

It was the first warm day of Spring in 2001 and I was at the Laconia CVS in my daughters bright yellow 1995 Corvette (with its distinctive WOWNH plates), with the hood down. As I was about to pull out, this tall, ruddy figure, in a Hawaiian shirt walks up to my window, looks down at me, over his tinted glasses, and asks: ‘where are you from?’. In my case that questions has multiple answers. But, I could tell that Kinney was after ethnicity. He grilled me for a few minutes. He established that I was self-employed and worked my own hours (albeit quite a lot of them). Then he says, nary any compunction: ‘I have a 2 day class starting next week, in Gilford. I want you to attend. We need more people like YOU.’ That was the GSA certification class. It was a blast. As is invariably the case when I attend any kind of class (which thankfully is very rare since I turned 18) I was the ‘trouble maker’. They even made me switch seats the next day. But, I do remember winning a rather fancy moose cap from Molly Hodgson Smith, who had something to do with NH tourism at the time, for getting the answers right on some questions she posed. Over the next two years Kinney changed my life, most times without actually telling me beforehand. Shortly after the GSA course he had me inducted into Laconia Rotary. Kinney was the then President (and to be fair he was, in my case, just trying to fill his designated quota of new members). A few months later, in August, I was congratulated by another member for being elected the new ‘Sergeant-at-Arms‘. Another cute Kinney move. He needed a Sergeant-at-Arms and had me co-opted at a Board Meeting without even asking me beforehand if I would be interested. I was Sergeant-at-Arms for over 2 years, even after Kinney ceased to be the President.

Somewhere around 2003 I stopped the GSA volunteering. There was too much going on in my life. Time has always been a premium. I try to use every spare minute that I can salvage on writing and research. Between 2003 and 2011 I wrote 7 books – and managed to become an expert on papal history! So that is where much of the time went, though during that period I also ended up having two additional kids.

A couple of months ago, upon receiving a flyer, I agreed to volunteer at the upcoming HopFest on July 20, 2012. That got me thinking. I felt bad that I had not done any GSA work. So, I e-mailed them. They were, as ever, very nice. They didn’t chastise me for having gone missing for so long. Just wanted to know when I would start. Well, that was today. I did ‘3 hours’ at the Alton Bay information Center. It was fun. I like the interaction. I have a lot of fun. As has been noted, I am a ‘way off the scale‘ extrovert. Psychologist actually have a scientific definition for extroverts and introverts. Introverts are exhausted after public interactions; extrovert re-energized. Interacting with strangers has never made me tired.