Monthly Archives: December 2009

Global trivia for the last day of 2009

From the DownEast.com trivia collection: Where is the largest revolving globe in the world?

Answer:

The DeLorme Mapping Company headquarters in Yarmouth is home to Eartha, a forty-one-foot diameter globe is housed in a three-story glass atrium.

Eartha at DeLorme in Yarmouth, Maine.

Here’s a link to learn more about Eartha.

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I have an idea! Let’s drop a giant sardine on New Year’s Eve!

New York has a giant crystal ball and Maine has a giant sardine and a galvanized star. Frankly, I really like the sardine and the star better.

Here are a couple of links:

Presque Isle to raise star to mark new year

Eastport welcomes new year with sardine drop

Traveling? As snow looms, choose wisely

http://updates.pressherald.mainetoday.com/updates/traveling-as-snow-looms-choose-wisely

Building ships in Maine for war and more

Shipbuilding is very much a part of Maine history.

And Maine’s present and future.

Here’s a link to a nice Associated Press story about Bath Iron Works and a class of ship it has been building for the Navy the past two decades. It is quite incredible.

The story even quotes a welder who has worked on nearly nothing else since he started at BIW years ago, long enough to raise children and become a grandfather.

BIW is highly respected around the country and the world for what it does.

Resolving to avoid resolutions this year … or not

Those who know me know that I have a couple of flaws. Not many, mind you, but a few.

OK, so I’m flawed up and down and all around, but isn’t everyone.

So, like many of us, I’ll be making a few resolutions – vows to make positive changes in the coming year.

Of course, most of us do not have the will power to follow through with those pesky little promises such as to lose weight, cut down on drinking and other vises … whatever.

I suppose top of what could be consider a resolution is the vow to find employment in the first quarter of 2010. I was laid off in March and hate the thought to be out of work for a year. The thought of that is incredibly demoralizing.

But I have kept a relatively positive outlook to this point and I know things will get better. It was not my fault that I was laid off from the job I had at a newspaper, merely the effects of a shifting economy.

And I haven’t been alone. No one will know the exact numbers, of course, but the estimate is that there were 15 million to 16 million Americans out of work – 15 million to 16 million. That is a lot of people not working who wanted to be working.

So, I resolve to work … and no one will get in my way on that issue.

I also resolve to drink a bit less. I am in a profession that traditionally has been a drinking profession. Heck, not long before I got into it, there was an ashtray on every desk and a bottle of burbon in every drawer.

Eating more healthy foods is always a good thing. Since I was laid off, I sort of fell off the good-food wagon. I suppose I’ve jumped onto the comfort-food wagon, which is not as healthy as it might seem. So, eating healthy foods. That means fresh and organic.

Since being laid off it is clear that I do not know as much as I have made others believe I know. I need to expand my knowledge. That either means going back to school, taking advantage of online courses or taking advantage of my next employer’s tuition reimbursement benefit.

Exercising more is a must.

OK, I do not floss as often as I should. So, 2010 will be the Year of Floss.

Resolutions in review

1) Get working

2) Drink less

3) Eat healthy foods

4) Learn, learn, learn

5) Exercise

6) Floss

You know, if I can get any single resolution resolved, I’ll be good.

As the opinion page editor at The Reporter in Vacaville, Calif., I wrote a couple of columns about making resolutions. Hey, it was an easy topic. Below are two of those columns. Enjoy … or not.

Resolved to be resolved

Editor’s Note: The author was the opinion page editor of The Reporter in Vacaville, Calif., when this column was first published on Dec. 28, 2005.

By Keith Michaud

So, it’s like this – I did not exactly fulfill my New Year’s resolutions last year, the most grandiose of which was to live life with a little more gusto. Yep, that one just sort of slipped away from me in 2005, so it goes back onto the list for 2006.

To that I will add the routine, customary and otherwise previously unfulfilled resolutions from past years:

I resolve to drink less booze.

I resolve to drink more water.

I resolve to sip more green tea and less coffee. No, really. I mean it. I’m going to drink less coffee this year. Really.

I resolve to eat more leafy vegetables and fewer fried foods.

I resolve to exercise more.

I resolve to sleep more.

I resolve to relax more and stress less.

I resolve to visit one place that I have been meaning to visit since I moved to California more than 20 years ago – Yosemite National Park.

I resolve to reconnect with at least one friend, someone I let slip away many years ago. I resolve to make new friends.

I resolve to be better in my work and in my life.

I resolve to be a better son, better brother, better friend.

I resolve to obey traffic laws – most of the time.

I resolve to do something nice for myself.

I resolve to do something nice for someone else.

I resolve to hold my tongue if I cannot say something pleasant to or about someone.

I resolve to watch less TV, listen to more music and read more classics.

I resolve to see more movies.

I resolve to be kind to strays.

I resolve to continue to feed crumbs to the little birds that gather around my table while I am having coffee outside. Oops, while I am having my green tea.

I resolve to be more tolerant of others … even when they are wrong.

I resolve to be more humble … even when I am right. And I’m always right. (Well, maybe not always.)

I resolve to avoid reality TV at all cost.

I resolve to play better golf and more often.

I resolve not to throw my clubs when I do not play better golf.

I resolve to not be too hard on myself if – and when – I am unable to fulfill a few of these resolutions. Life is a process, after all.

I resolve to live my life more boldly, bravely and hopefully. Oh, and live life with more gusto.

It is a pretty long list. I do not expect that I will get through it all. But there is always next year.

So, goodbye and good riddance to 2005. The sooner we forget 2005 the better.

And hello 2006. I resolve to give it a better chance than 2005 gave us all.

Resolving now to add gusto

Editor’s Note: The author was the opinion page editor of The Reporter in Vacaville, Calif., when this column was first published on Dec. 29, 2004.

By Keith Michaud

Resolutions. Who really needs ’em, anyway? Does anyone actually hold to them throughout the year?

I doubt it, but we all need the annual rite in some form or other. Making resolutions, as we are apt to do this time of year, helps us settle – or simply forget – old debts. It cleans the slate and gives us a new view for the future, a basic outline of how we want to improve our lot and improve our living. It gives us a second chance – or third or fourth chance – to mend old habits and get a fresh start.

The practice must come from our nearly inextinguishable optimism. We hope because to stop would make us less human. Resolutions help us renew that hope at a time of year when things are gray and dreary. And because of that, I suppose, the making of resolutions is really part of our survival instinct.

Of course, among the basic healthwise and rational resolutions are: get in shape, eat less and more healthily, drink less booze, stop smoking, get to that closet and clean out those clothes that have gone unworn for forever, balance that checkbook. Live life with more gusto.

I suppose that has to be mine for the coming year – live life with more gusto.

Here are a couple of resolutions for us all:

As Vacans, we should resolve to do better for our neighbors in need. More of us can afford to contribute, not necessarily with money, but by volunteering for any one of the many worthy service agencies in Vacaville and Solano County.

We can also resolve to be vigilant and do what we can to make Vacaville and Solano County the best possible place it can be. To set reasonable growth and economic expectations and work to achieve them.

As Californians, we must resolve to keep a watchful eye down Interstate 80 to Sacramento. Those boys and girls under the dome need close watching. (Our lawmakers should resolve to do a far better job of conducting the public’s business.)

As Americans, we should resolve to be better to each other, in this country and aboard. We have fewer and fewer friends outside our borders. We should resolve to change that in the coming year. And the November elections left a rift in this nation that has not completely healed. We should resolve to change that, too.

We should resolve to support our troops, even when our government and military leaders seem insistent on showing their lack of support by bungling the so-called war on terror. Our servicemen and women deserve far, far better than they are getting or will get. We should resolve to do better by them and the sacrifices they make.

We should resolve to do our best. For hope’s sake.

I am not sure if resolutions make much difference except to acknowledge that none of us – not a single one of us – is perfect. None of us know everything there is to be known. None of us is wise enough to solve all the ills or ease all the woes of this world.

But the idea of making resolutions means we recognize that and that we strive to be better than we were. We know what’s wrong with us and we want to do what is humanly possible to make us better. Perhaps not perfect, but better.

That’s human and that’s OK.

Oh, oh, I know this!

My newspaper friends will be disappointed that I bothered using a slammer (aka exclamation point used in a headline), but I DID know the answer to today DownEast.com trivia question.

What is the largest county in Maine?

Answer

Aroostook, with 6,672 square miles, larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.

I also believe it may be the largest country east of the Mississippi River. Or the Rocky Mountains. I forget.

Wild West in the Deep Dark Woods of Maine

The story about the conflict between the Presque Isle city manager and the City Council there had to be a fun, but stressful story for Bangor Daily News staff writer Jen Lynds. (Here’s a link to the story: “Presque Isle tensions end tenure of manager: Friction with City Council spurs decision not to renew.”)

I mean, who doesn’t get a kick out of a about dysfunctional city government in which the City Council and a city official are at odds, especially to the point that one or more of them start wearing a gun to City Council meetings. (Yeah! A gun!)

I suppose it would have been an even better story if that armed city councilman had been the board’s chairman and had used the butt of the gun to call the meeting to order. Now that would have been something!

Tom Stevens, 54, had been the Presque Isle city manager for 17 years and now he is on his way out. (He’s got another government job lined up, so don’t feel too sorry for the guy.) City Council members claim they gave him a list of suggestions on how to bring innovation and jobs to the Aroostook County city. The City Council is ousting Stevens – they claim – because he ignored the mandate to bring in innovation and jobs.

He says he never got the list.

Here are the first two graphs from the story:

When a city councilor began wearing a gun to council meetings, City Manager Tom Stevens knew his problems were more complicated than ever.

Stevens, who is serving out the last weeks of a one-year renewal of what previously were multiyear contracts as city manager of Presque Isle, told the Bangor Daily News recently that his last years in his position were fraught with meetings of questionable legality among councilors, interference by councilors in the manager’s work, and contention about public safety at council meetings prompted by one councilor carrying a firearm.

Here’s a line deep in the story that I love. It’s sort of a “well, duh” moment:

Stevens said his relationship with the council grew worse around the time Councilor (Ron) McPherson began wearing a gun to meetings.

Apparently, Mr. McPherson has a carry permit and there is no law in Maine to prevent him from wearing a gun at meetings or in City Hall. But still …

The story tells of the turmoil over the past couple of years, but it is a bit of a “he said, they said” sort of tale and is missing the voice of someone from outside of government. It would have been a better story had it included some independent local observations and provided more historical perspective.

Frankly, it is small-town government at its dysfunctional best, but it is still very interesting.

I’ve read the story and I am not exactly who is in the right and who is simply crazy. Frankly, there may be too many, um, untruths on all sides for there to be a “right” side to this whole Wild West show in the Deep Dark Woods of Maine. It appears to be a truly dysfunctional situation and I hope that it works out for everyone.

(For my friends “from away,” Presque Isle – which I believe means “part island” or “almost island” – was the “big city” growing up. It is where we went for serious shopping, restaurants and medical care. It was about 45 to 60 minutes to drive there and where the nearest movie theater was located.)

Wildlife advocates blast coyote hunting tournament

I had heard that the coyote problem was bad in Northern Maine, but a “hunting tournament”?! Here is a link to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network story on the tournament sponsored — now get this — by a Chamber of Commerce.

There are ways to deal with the overpopulation, but this should not be it.

I know, I know, I know. The coyote population has been growing in recent decades and are partially to blame for the lower deer population. And deer hunting is very important on many levels — it draws in hunter-tourist dollars and deer killed by locals is used to feed families through the winter.

But this is not the way to do it.

The state must consider regulating a relocation program or a licensed kill program.

But not a “tournament.” That is a tiny bit too festive when a life — any life — is being taken.

Kennebunk’s New Year’s Day swim postponed

I scanned this headline and thought: “How are they gonna postpone New Year’s Day?” Then I scanned it again and it made much more sense.

Here’s a link to the story.

Volunteer opportunities maintaining Appalachian Trail in Maine

I spotted on GreenBiz.com a request for volunteers to work on the Appalachian Trail this summer and wanted to pass it along to my Maine friends and to those who might be looking for a volunteer vacation.

Everything I’ve read about the Appalachian Trail – and that hasn’t been nearly enough – indicated that the Appalachian Trail that runs through Maine some of the roughest of the rough hiking trail. The Appalachian Trail goes from Maine to Georgia.

If I was living nearby or had the opportunity to take a volunteer vacation, I certainly would consider it.

Here is the ad asking for volunteers.

Appalachian Trail volunteers  

Maine Appalachian Trail Club, Garland, ME (various trail locations)  

An Exceptional Volunteer Opportunity

Join the Maine Trail Crew and work on Maine’s Appalachian Trail. Help preserve this precious and wild resource for future generations of hikers. An Enthusiastic staff awaits your arrival and is looking forward to building trail with you.

Work, hike and live in some of the wildest places left in the Eastern U.S. Projects focus on rebuilding and restoring heavily impacted sections of the Appalachian Trail. Crews utilize Griphoist® rigging equipment, rock drills and hand tools to build stone steps, waterbars and retaining walls to repair the Appalachian Trail.

Persons of age 18 or older – of all backgrounds – are welcome. Enthusiasm, good health, energy and adaptability are vital. Willingness to follow instructions, comply with safety rules, and share camp chores is essential. Experience helps, but we teach trail skills here.

Benefits:

  • Transportation to and from Bangor International Airport
  • Tents and packs are provided if needed
  • All meals are provided, including off time between work sessions
  • Make new friends
  • Learn new trail skills
  • Lots of hiking on the AT
  • Build works in stone to last for the ages
  • Stay in mountain-side campsites
  • See Maine moose and hear the loons
  • Recreational trips to the mountains, ocean and lakes
  • Receive a Maine Trail Crew t-shirt
  • Feel great about what you have done for the AT.

Time Frame: One- to six-week sessions, June 26 to Aug. 18, 2010

You can apply for the opportunity by clicking on the link to the GreenBiz.com ad or going to the Maine Appalachian Trial Club website.

7,400 remain without power – Bangor Daily News

7,400 remain without power – Bangor Daily News.

Portland Jetport and lingering impacts of 9/11 attacks

Here’s a link to a Portland Press Herald story about how travellers made out upon returning from holiday travel amid stepped up security.

Jetport handles flood of calls, but no problems | Portland Press Herald.

One thing to remember in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, world is that a couple of the terrorists that day started out their day flying from the Portland International Jetport. Here is a link from a SFGate.com story on the pair.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/10/05/MN210411.DTL&type=printable

‘Tough times build character’

Here’s a link to a Q & A story with Gov. John Baldacci.

‘Tough times build character’.

Water, water everywhere … and even some to drink

I went back to the DownEast.com trivia question today and was interested in it because I grew up in a home on a hill overlooking Portage Lake, Maine.

My mother continues to live in a cottage in a cove of that lake and I have posted photos here of views from the deck of her home. It is a wonderful place, albeit incredibly cold in the winter.

The question today was: How much of Maine is covered by water?

Answer:

About 12.8 percent, or 4,523 square miles of the state’s total 35,385 square miles.

Frankly, I would have thought it would have been more. I grew up canoeing and sailing on that lake in the summer and snowmobiling across it in the winter. It seemed like whenever driving we were crossing a bridge over a river or driving near a lake or pond or other bit of water.

And if you take a look at a map showing water – rivers, streams, ponds and lakes – it would seem to be better than a mere 12.8 percent.

Well, there you have it.

Military life gives teen a new sense of direction

ROBBINSTON, Maine — Thousands of American soldiers and sailors headed home this past week to spend Christmas with their families.

Zane Clossey, 19, was just one.

Here’s a link to the rest of this Bangor Daily News story.

Another snowstorm for northern, central Maine

Here’s a link to a news brief about the coming storm:
http://updates.pressherald.mainetoday.com/updates/another-snowstorm-for-northern-central-maine

A tiny bit of wisdom imparted years ago

A childhood friend, Jeff Cyr, who I knew in Portage, Maine, and with whom I went to high school, imparted this bit of wisdom years ago:

“If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, every single day of the year would be Christmas.”

I am not sure if he came up with it all by himself, but I’m pretty certain Jeff would not mind if you spread that around.

It is not easy being a Patriots fan ‘from away’

Trust me on this one, it is not easy being a New England Patriots fan “from away,” especially in Raider Nation. No one in Raider Nation is ever going to give up the fight when it comes to the tuck rule from the January 2002 playoff game. And Stockton, Calif., is Raider Nation territory.

Of course, the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that year and two other Super Bowls in the past decade.

I cannot seem to find an electronic version of the column I wrote about that victory, but here is one from a couple years later when the team won again.

Sweet taste of victory

Editor’s Note: The author was the opinion page editor of The Reporter in Vacaville, Calif., when this column was first published on Feb. 4, 2004.

By Keith Michaud

So let’s talk sports. Specifically, let’s talk football. Let’s talk Super Bowl XXXVIII.

For a game that was supposed to be a boring, low-scoring matchup between two defensively-minded teams, wow! I mean, WOW!

I’ve been a New England Patriots fan since I was knee high to Pats owner Bob Kraft, who isn’t that tall. So when Adam Vinatieri kicked the winning field goal two years ago to cap off the Patriots’ first-ever Super Bowl win, I was ecstatic.

No one can imagine what it was like for me on Sunday when Vinatieri, after a season in which he struggled terribly, kicked another Super Bowl-winning field goal with just seconds on the game clock. I was flying so high that I had to file a flight plan. The FAA is thinking of issuing me a tail number if the Patriots return a championship game any time soon.

It was a glorious season for the Patriots, a team that won 15 games in a row, the 15th being on Sunday. Coached by men who rarely showed all their cards, this team was made up of castoffs from other teams and players thought too slow or lacking in necessary skills to play the game of professional football. Perish the thought.

I truly feel sorry for those poor souls who decided to skip the game based on the notion it was going to be a snorer or decided after watching the first quarter to catch a movie or dinner out. They missed a great game.

And forget all the hype. Forget the pregame that seemed to go on for 40 days and 40 nights. Forget the scoreless first 27 minutes of the game. Forget the glitz, the glamour, the streaker and, please, oh, please, forget Janet Jackson’s exposed breast.

And please forget talk – shhh – of a “dynasty.” We New England-born folks are more practical than that, more show-me than Missourians ever thought of being. If the Patriots return to the Super Bowl in the next year or two with the same core of no-name players and win a third title, then maybe – perhaps – on long, cold winter’s nights we New England-born fans of the Patriots will discuss the “D” word, but only in hushed tones. Only then, because you don’t want to mess with a good thing.

And while you are at it, forget about weapons of mass destruction. Forget about ricin. Forget about the Democratic candidates for the presidency. Forget the state budget. And forget anything to do with the Atkins Diet. Sunday’s was a great Super Bowl, whether you are a die-hard football fan or not, whether you were a fan of either team involved. For a few hours this American game allowed us all to forget many of the woes burdening us today. In doing that, it served its purpose.

The Patriots beat the Jacksonville Jaquars 35-7 today to clinch yet another playoff berth. Things are looking good moving into the playoffs, I think.

Rotary delivering Meals on Wheels for 31 years

Another link to a Portland Press Herald story, this one about the local Rotary Club being involved the Meals on Wheels program for the past 31 years.

I was a member of a Rotary Club for a very short, but enjoyable time.

Visiting L.L. Bean a Maine Christmas Day tradition

Here’s a link to a Portland Press Herald story about a tradition many Mainers have of going to L.L. Bean in Freeport, Maine, on Christmas Day.

I’ve been there a few times and love the place. It is especially great for anyone who enjoys the outdoors, whether it for hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, bird watching, whatever.

I was a recreation assistant to a pair of dorms at the residential campus of the University of Southern Maine and I organized a midnight run to L.L. Bean. Except for being pulled over for speeding, fun was had by all.

The main store – and I believe this is still the case – is open 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. If I recall correctly, L.L. Bean has closed twice in its history, including once to take in the residents of an apartment building that had burned.

Anyone visiting Maine should add L.L. Bean as a destination. Also, factory outlets and other shops have sprung up all around L.L. Bean.