Monthly Archives: March 2011

Coffeehouse observation No. 294 – Recycling made sexy

On the way to the coffeehouse I noticed a woman collecting cans and bottles from a trashcan and she was putting them into a Victoria’s Secret bag she was carrying. I suppose that makes recycling sexy.

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‘Heartbroken’ Maine artist responds to mural controversy| Bangor Daily News

‘Heartbroken’ Maine artist responds to mural controversy| Bangor Daily News

Maine warden pilot remembered at funeral | Bangor Daily News

Maine warden pilot remembered at funeral | Bangor Daily News

Holyoke: Pilot’s death illuminates harsh reality of warden work | Bangor Daily News

Governor orders flags flown at half-staff to honor warden pilot who died in plane crash | Bangor Daily News

‘Without him, a lot of lives would not have been saved’ | Bangor Daily News

Missing mural, empty wall: Art depicting Maine’s labor history stashed at secret location

Missing mural, empty wall: Art depicting Maine’s labor history stashed at secret location

LePage’s sudden removal of mural spurs outrage | Lewiston Sun Journal

He dreamed he saw Kim Jong-il | The New York Times

College president rebukes LePage over mural | Portland Press Herald

College president rebukes LePage over mural | Portland Press Herald

Coffeehouse observation No. 292 — Regretting going without coffee today

I skipped coffee this morning and now I’m regretting it. … Quite bit.

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Thank-you note to my scouting niece

The Girl Scout Cookies are freed from their bondage.

The Girl Scout Cookies are freed from their bondage.

[I received a fun package yesterday from my scouting niece Sophie. Actually, she is my only niece, but she is in a scouting organization, so she’s also my “scouting niece.” Regular readers may recall that I have lamented in the past that the packages my family sends me from time are full of sugary treats. At my age, who needs the extra pounds. Oy! So, I made my family promise to not send me any more sugary treats. But then the Girl Scouts – well, mostly their mothers – started hitting me up to help fill their cookie quotas. So, I had to send my sister a note to clarify that in no way was my earlier dictate to reflect the Girl Scout Cookie Season. That, I made it clear to her, was not the case. Girl Scout Cookies were OK for my diet. … I have a feeling I will be gaining a few pounds in the next few days. – KM]

Dear Sophie:

I received a package yesterday that you and Mommy sent to me. Inside were very yummy Girl Scout Cookies. I wanted to thank you very, very much. I am sure I will enjoy them. Thank you.

Now, I just have to decide which cookies to start with.

Love,

Uncle Keith

P.S. Please say “Hi” to your brother Max. I miss you both very much.

A package is opened.

A package is opened.

A cookie is liberated.

A cookie is liberated.

The first bite …

The first bite …

And another ...

And another ...

Just one more bite left …

Just one more bite left …

And now my had is free to grasp another cookie.

And now my hand is free to grasp another cookie.

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Burt’s Bees founder wants to donate national park | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Burt’s Bees founder wants to donate national park | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Sugarhouses open for Maine Maple Sunday, producers predict a banner year | Bangor Daily News

Sugarhouses open for Maine Maple Sunday, producers predict a banner year | Bangor Daily News

 

Mount Katahdin in the sky

Mount Katahdin can be seen in the distance. The photo was taken from Maine Route 163 near Haystack Mountain on the road between Ashland and Presque Isle, Maine. (According to Google Maps, the road is also known as the Presque Isle Road, Haystack Road, Main Street as it goes though Mapleton, Maine, and then the Mapleton Road as it nears Presque Isle.) Kelly McInnis, a classmate of mine from Ashland Community High School Class of (mumble, mumble), took the photo. It must have been an incredibly beautiful day when this photo was taken since Mount Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine and the official end of the Appalachian Trail, is more than 100 miles away as the crow flies. Photo by Kelly McInnis

Mount Katahdin can be seen in the distance. The photo was taken from Maine Route 163 near Haystack Mountain on the road between Ashland and Presque Isle, Maine. (According to Google Maps, the road is also known as the Presque Isle Road, Haystack Road, Main Street as it goes though Mapleton, Maine, and then the Mapleton Road as it nears Presque Isle.) Kelly McInnis, a classmate of mine from Ashland Community High School Class of (mumble, mumble), took the photo. It must have been an incredibly beautiful day when this photo was taken since Mount Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine and the official end of the Appalachian Trail, is more than 100 miles away as the crow flies. Photo by Kelly McInnis

[I found this story after I originally posted the photo.Frankly, I think these guys were nuts for going up Katahdin in those conditions. Crazy! There is video with the story, but the way. — KM]

Taking on Mount Katahdin in the winter | Bangor Daily News

WHOOPIE WATCH: Maine outdoes Pennsylvania with 1,000-pound whoopie pie | Bangor Daily News

WHOOPIE WATCH: Maine outdoes Pennsylvania with 1,000-pound whoopie pie | Bangor Daily News

Maine outdoes Pennsylvania with massive whoopie pie | Portland Press Herald

Maine governor is looking more boorish all the time

Maine Gov. Paul LePage during another of his finest hours.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage during another of his finest hours.

I had planned to reserve judgment on Maine Gov. Paul LePage until he had been in office for a while longer. After all, the man just took office a mere few months ago.

But frankly – and with no offense intended to my Maine family and friends who may have voted for him – LePage is looking more boorish and less like a statesman all the time.

It is one thing to stand up and be strong, but it is completely another to bumble your way through things causing chaos and destruction, and then boldly justify your awkward ways. He is more a bull in a china shop than he is a sage owl masterfully handling the duties and responsibilities of his new job. His coarse ways may have served him well in business – I cannot see how – but it does not serve the state well for him to continue his bad-mannered, loutish ways.

From all accounts – at least, accounts that do not come from the governor’s office or are not manipulated by the governor’s puppet masters – LePage is a boob.

He has offended almost anyone with any sensibility, from the growing African-American community in Maine to women to environmentalists to workers and unions to the working poor to art lovers to, well, anybody.

I once wrote in a column describing how clumsy the mayor of Vacaville, Calif., handled a situation. An entire neighborhood in Vacaville was flooded – at the time it seemed that city maintenance practices might have played a part in the severity of the flooding – and the mayor acted callously toward some very concerned neighbors. I wrote that the mayor came across as gangly as a moose on a frozen lake.

I was wrong. That mayor was as graceful as an eagle soaring in the sky.

LePage is the gangly moose on a frozen ice.

Here are a few links to stories about LePage’s mucked-up walk through Maine politics.

Hundreds protest mural removal; artwork could land in Portland | Bangor Daily News

A picture of labor unrest: Demonstrators at rallies take issue with Gov. LePage’s order to remove mural from a state agency’s headquarters | Portland Press Herald

Governor’s decision attracts attention, repels tourist | Portland Press Herald

Mural protesters say they’ll fight governor’s removal order | Lewiston Sun Journal

Panel backs state ban on products with BPA: LePage administration now says it won’t fight ban, even though the governor still opposes it | Portland Press Herald

LePage retorts to heckler: ‘I would love to tax the rich if we had any in Maine’ | Bangor Daily News

LePage again in national spotlight over mural order; Stewart, Maddow mock move | Bangor Daily News

Of course, some Mainers – especially those who voted for LePage and those who continue to support his bumbling ways – will decry my characterization of the man who was elected by them to lead the state. True, it seems as if I am an outsider – someone “from away” – and I should not have the right to criticize the work that has been done.

Well, I will criticize it for several reasons:

My sister and her family live in Maine. It is important to her, her husband, my mother and me that my nephew Max and niece Sophie live in a state where they can continue to thrive.

My mother lives in Maine. I will never get her to move away to a warm climate in the winter. She rarely stays with my sister in southern Maine longer than a week, let alone for a long, cold Maine winter. It is where she was born and it is where she wants to be. She should be allowed to enjoy here life there.

I am a Maine native and I fully intend to return to Maine, although LePage’s antics have made me think twice about it. Maine is where I want to be; my economic circumstances keep me from it, but I will there eventually, LePage or not.

Mainers deserve better than what LePage has done so far.

I have a vested interest in the success of Maine and it does not seem as if LePage can lead a row of ducklings let alone a state.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 290 – Hot coffee, cool jazz combat the cold

Happiness – at least today – is hot coffee and cool jazz on a cold, blustery day.

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What a long, strange road back to working … some of it in 5-minute bits

Today I had the very shortest job interview I have had in the past two years while on this quest to rejoin the ranks of the employed – five minutes.

Crazy! Five minutes? Why bother?

Last week I applied for an editor’s job with a weekly newspaper in the Napa Valley region of Northern California. It is the region that is famed for its wine and food industry, as it should.

But because of the high cost of land for growing wine grapes and other agriculture, land and property are at a premium. That, in turn, drives up the cost of everything, but especially housing.

According to a cost-of-living calculator on the Sperling’s BestPlaces website, the community in which the weekly newspaper was located is about 50 percent more expensive than Stockton, where I live now. Housing alone in the Napa Valley community was 191 percent higher.

Figuring I might be able to commute, I ran a few more numbers for several nearby communities. The closest city physically was also the most expensive of the five cities for which I tallied the cost of living compared to Stockton. It was 134 percent more expensive that Stockton, with housing being 515 percent – 515 percent – higher than in Stockton.

Using my most recent salary, the calculator computed that I would need to make $83,826 just to live in the community where the paper was located and maintain my Stockton lifestyle, which by no means is lavish. It’s Stockton, after all, the same Stockton that Forbes named “the most miserable city in the nation” for the second time in the past three years.

The human resources representative conducted the telephone interview called right on time today, we exchanged pleasantries and she outlined the initial questions. It was only then that she noticed that my salary requirements – the salary I had made in Stockton without adjustment it for the Napa Valley cost of living – was $10,000 to $15,000 higher than the salary they were offering for the position.

To be clear, they were offering $30,000 to $35,000, which would be plenty to live on in many regions of the country. But not for Napa Valley.

The company that owns the weekly newspaper owns newspapers throughout the country. I know people working at newspapers owned by the company and I have applied for jobs at the company. I won’t use their name or the name of the newspaper, because I may end up applying again for a job with the same company.

But I wonder now if they use a one-salary-fits-all-regions formula, which just does not work. A person doing the similar work, say, in the Southeast does not need as much money to work, live and play as does someone living in the outrageously expensive Napa Valley. If the company is using a one-salary-fits-all-regions formula for setting salaries, they really ought to change that.

The human resources representative apologized for not noticing the gap between what they were offering and my salary requirements, and said she would call me back should the situation change, which she added was unlikely given what the person leaving the job had been making.

A 5-minute job interview. What a crazy, winding road it has been. Crazy.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 289 – Mighty mite snuff out smoker

A guy – he looks pretty down on his luck and smells as if it has been quite a while since his most recent shower – is sitting near the windows of the coffeehouse. A little while ago he lit a cigarette and I exchanged glances of disbelief with the guy sitting at the table next to me. Smokers in California haven’t been allowed to light up inside businesses for years. A mite of a woman here checking her email – because she wasn’t keeping her tiny boys in check – spoke up and told him to go outside to smoke. He didn’t and she went for a barista. Baristas are the law in the coffeehouse, as you probably know. The fellow sitting by the window put it out by the time the barista arrived. Good for the tiny woman for speaking up, although it would be nice if she directed a bit of that toward wrangling in her boys.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 288 — Coffeehouse like ‘Cheers’

Coffee on a rainy morning in a coffeehouse where they know your name. … It’s almost like “Cheers,” but with caffeine.

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Former Aroostook County resident returns to perform hit play inspired by life in northern Maine | Bangor Daily News

Former Aroostook County resident returns to perform hit play inspired by life in northern Maine | Bangor Daily News

News nonprofits seeking donors take lessons from NPR’s fundraising misfortunes | Poynter.

News nonprofits seeking donors take lessons from NPR’s fundraising misfortunes | Poynter..

Coffeehouse observation No. 287 – For a coffee experience that is out of this world

Follow this link to a coffee experience that is out of this world. No, seriously.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 286 – Erin go bragh!

While my middle and last names are of French origin, my first name is Gaelic meaning “woodland,” “forest” and “from the battlefield.” I’ve also heard that it means “winding road in the woods.” Anyway, for that reason today I claim to be one-third Irish. Erin go bragh and hand me an Irish coffee.

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