Tag Archives: blog

Window to the Woods with Rhon Bell: Fall hiking and wine tasting in coastal Camden | Maine Today

What do a quintessential Maine hike with near-peak-foliage views, a quiet yet bustling coastal town and an amazing wine-tasting experience all have in common? They are all a quick drive up Rt. 1 in Camden. This streets of this picturesque coastal town are simply a stone’s throw away from all that Maine has to offer, and today that’s an amazing hike. Today’s plan is a packed one. My advice: Get an early start on the day and try to hit everything.

Nice photos from Camden in this blog.

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Picture is worth a 1,000 words – or just under $200

I finally dove into digital photography.

Sort of.

I’ve been without a camera for a quite a while. Well, that’s not exactly true. I still have two 35-mm film cameras – a Canon single-lens reflex camera and a Pentax.

But who shots film anymore? Not many people.

And ever since I started the Letters From Away blog, I’ve wanted to include photos to illustrate some of the things I’ve written about.

I’ve been thinking about getting a camera for a while, but I’m still unemployed and funds being what they are, I have been putting it off.

Finally, I gave in and picked up a Canon PowerShot A1300 IS at Best Buy. I know, I know, it is a very basic camera. But it will do what I need it to do until I can get a job and can pad my bank accounts and buy a better camera.

The package I purchased for a bit under than $200 included the camera, wrist strap, battery, charger, cables to connect the camera to the computer and another to connect it to a TV, software, a 4G memory card, carrying bag, and Flexpod gripper tripod. I figured it was worth putting on a credit card in order to put more photos on Letters From Away.

So, expect more photos. Some will be good. Some will be, well, not so good.

Also, if any reader has a photo of Maine or Mainers or taken by Mainers and you’d like it to have a little play, please forward it to me and I’ll put it up on this blog. Don’t forget to give me your full name, your connection to Maine, and a bit of information so that I can write a cutline to go with it.

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Looking for the Next Island Teacher, Part Two

I posted part one of Eva Murray’s blog on becoming an island teacher. Here is link to the second part. The signoff note at the end read: “Eva Murray submitted this to Down East before her deadline, in case the power went out overnight. It did.”

Looking for the Next Island Teacher, Part Two

Looking for the Next Island Teacher, Part One

Sometimes you just have to whack it

This is not adult  entertainment, so get you heads out of the gutter. This isn’t about whacking that “it.”

Readers – from Maine to California and back again – know I’ve been out of work for the past year. So, cable and satellite TV both have been well out of reach financially.

And, frankly, the cost of both even before I was laid off on March 5, 2009, from a newspaper job after 22 years of experience in the industry kept me from paying for either just on principle alone. The cost was and is unreasonable.

So I went with a digital TV converter and rabbit ears antenna. Rabbit ears were good enough for generations of TV-watchers, it was good enough – sort of – for me. It was not nearly acceptable for someone who loves to watch sports, movies and the assorted nature programming, but I had to make due.

When “broadcast” TV went digital, I requested and received a government coupon and then purchased an APEX DT250A TV Converter.

As such electronics go, it was inexpensive and cheaply made. Cheaply. And when I use “cheaply,” I mean the box the size of a hardcover book was a truckload of yak dung.

It worked well enough – as long as the rabbit ears were just so – for a couple months.

But Thursday night the box failed right in the middle of the “NCIS” rerun I was watching. Know this: No one comes between me and “NCIS,” not even NCIS Special Agent Jethro Leroy Gibbs. OK, maybe Gibbs might do it, especially after one of his trademark slaps to the back of the cranium, but you get the point.

But on Thursday evening the TV screen went snowy. Not just a flurry, but a storm the likes of those that have hit the East Coast this winter.

I did not have a remote in my hand – no, really, I didn’t have a remote in my hands – so I figured I had not mistakenly hit a button that might have caused the snowstorm. I checked the cable connections, the antenna connection, the power source, and then rechecked them twice. I was resigned to give up for the evening – it was late enough that going to sleep was a better option than obsessing over it any longer.

The next morning I took off early enough that I did not watch TV. I was off to the Empresso coffeehouse on Pacific Avenue in Stockton to continue the job search and blogging efforts. I have two versions of “Letters From Away,” one on WordPress and one on Blogger, and another about what I see at various coffeehouses I patronize, especially Empresso and Exotic Java, that I named “Coffeehouse Observer.”

After going through job and news websites, blogging a bit, and getting a few other online tasks done, I returned to the apartment in the early evening. I was in the middle of some mundane tasks – as if watching TV isn’t mundane enough – when I remembered that I would not be able to unwind watching TV.

I also remembered that there was one thing that I had not done the previous evening – whack it.

I turned on the TV and the APEX box, picked up the box, and gave it a couple of good whacks.

It worked.

I am watching an episode of “Criminal Minds” on the ION network as I’m writing this blog.

There you have it. Sometimes it simply pays to whack it.

Coffeehouse observation No. 50

A lovely young woman in a green sweater and jeans was at the coffeehouse yesterday before I arrived and was still there when I left about six hours later. And she was reading … a book. Not an ebook, not a website, not a blog, not the back of a ceral box. A book. Granted, I believe it was a romance novel, but it was a book. A book! Go figure! She’s back today. And as she did yesterday, she shed her shoes and put her bare feet up on a vacant chair.

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

I’ve been a very, very bad blogger

It is clear to me that I have been a very, very bad blogger the past couple of weeks.

In many ways I have completely failed. But in a few others I think I have excelled.

Well, “excelled” may be a bit much, so let us agree that I have not done as well at some things as I have others. And I vow to strive to do better at the things I failed to do well, while continuing to do the things that I might have done better than, well, the things I did not do so well. Well …

What I have not done well lately is write fresh, new content for this blog about Maine and Mainers from a perspective of someone “from away.”  It has not been because of so-called writer’s block or want of trying. It simply has been a matter of time and not seeming to have any to write new content.

Frankly, I am still getting over the holiday haze, but now am looking forward to what great and special things will happen in 2010. Top among those things is finding employment. I am hungry to get back to work.

If you have read this blog before – I am a “blogger,” but what are people who read blogs? – you will know that I have been out of work since March 2009. I was laid off after 22 years working in the newspaper industry. And you would have to be from the dark side of the moon not to know that the newspaper industry has been hit very hard the past couple of years – continued high costs of paper and other materials, continued high profit margins for stockholders, lower revenue due to lower advertising sales due to the housing crisis and the auto industry crisis and the national economy crisis.

Leaders in the newspaper industry failed to heed the warnings that came to them a decade or two ago that a new age in information dissemination was coming – the Age of the Internet – and they made little effort to adjust. And what little effort they made came much too late for tens of thousands of very talented people in journalism and for many newspapers which have now long ago shut down their presses. I blame newspaper owners and publishers the most, although everyone in the industry has a share of the blame.

Because of all that I have been looking not only for a newspaper job, but for employment in the nonprofit or government sectors. There is a chance that what they used to say is still true, that writing skills are appreciated in very nearly any field. I am not 100 percent convince that is true given the traditionally low salaries in newspapers and other media, the decreasing salaries in newspapers, other media and for freelancers, and the low wages for “writers” in industries in which writers are not traditionally thought to work. And the disintegration of language because of what passes as “allowed” writing in emails, texting, blogs and other electronic media belittles and besmirches what professional writers do. That is the way of the universe.

And I also have given thought to returning to college to earn a master’s degree in another field, perhaps pubic administration. I believe I would go with an emphasis in nonprofit management over government agency management, because for some time I have wanted to do something for the greater good and working for a nonprofit has the feel of doing something more directly good for people.

What I think I have done fairly well for the past couple of months is to: 1) aggregate news about Maine from various sources, usually from Maine newspaper websites; and 2) post stories and other information about the plight of the people in Haiti following the earthquake last month.

Of the former, I usually have posted a headline of a story of interest and maybe some comment along with a link back to the newspaper’s website. I sometimes use the share feature on newspaper websites and sometimes the effort requires a little more work than that, but I always link back to the newspaper so the newspaper is getting the Web visit and the full credit. I gain nothing from the exercise other than keeping idle hands busy.

Of the latter, the effort to help spread information on what happened, what is happening, and what people can do to help Haitians seems a very tiny effort comparatively speaking. I wish I could do more. It is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and we have an obligation – not as Americans, not as members of one of the richest nations in the world, but as fellow human beings – to do what we can to help. Mainers have represented themselves well in the effort to help Haitians and it makes this Mainer “from away” proud to post those stories of Mainers’ efforts.

When I started this blog only a few short months ago, the intention was to write about and comment upon Maine and Mainers from the perspective of a person now “from away.” I had planned to comment each day.

Things have been hectic lately and sometimes it is a bit overwhelming to try to live up to my own intensions.

But I will strive to be more diligent about updating my blog.

Come back to Letters From Away every so often, won’t you.

As if one blog wasn’t enough …

OK, I’ve started another blog. The new one is just for fun. It’s about the stuff I see and hear at the various coffeehouses I visit. It’s called Coffeehouse Observer. I hope at least some of you find it fun.

If not, just have a cup of coffee and keep the @#%! criticism to yourself.

Here’s the “About” for Coffeehouse Observer.

Something quick about ‘Coffeehouse Observer’

This blog is just for fun, so don’t take it too seriously and neither will I.

I spend a lot of time at coffeehouses – a lot of time.

I was laid off from work back in March and have been looking for employment ever since. Coffeehouses – and public libraries – offer me the best options for WiFi, which I use as part of my (thus far unsuccessful) job hunt.

Patronizing coffeehouses have an advantage over libraries – nectar of the gods. Coffee is my favorite beverage – after wine and beer, of course – and I fuel up at various coffeehouses in Stockton, Calif., while searching for employment opportunities and keeping in touch with my Facebook friends.

This blog is about the strange and poignant things I see while at these various coffeehouses. Some make me smile, some make me laugh, some just plain make me shake my head.

Pour yourself a java, a cup of joe, whatever and enjoy!

Click this link to go to Coffeehouse Observer.