Tag Archives: University of Southern Maine

University of the Pacific: A college with an East Coast feel, but California weather

I was hired a year and a half ago as the media relations coordinator at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, with campuses in Sacramento and San Francisco. It was founded in 1851 and is the oldest chartered university in California. Read more about University of the Pacific at www.pacific.edu.

The university is known for – among other things – the beautiful campus in Stockton, where it moved in 1924. Lots of brick buildings that give it a definite East Coast/Ivy League look and feel. It also reminds me of the Gorham campus of University of Southern Maine where I attended college before moving to California. Take a look at Pacific’s campus:

A popular photo spot is on the east side of campus near Pacific Avneue. That’s Smith Gate – I believe it is named so because mountain man Jedediah Smith once camped along the Calaveras River that flows through campus – in the foreground, Faye Spanos Concert Hall (left), and Robert E. Burns Tower. The visitor center is located on the first floor of Burns Tower.

A popular photo spot is on the east side of campus near Pacific Avneue. That’s Smith Gate – I believe it is named so because mountain man Jedediah Smith once camped along the Calaveras River that flows through campus – in the foreground, Faye Spanos Concert Hall (left), and Robert E. Burns Tower. The visitor center is located on the first floor of Burns Tower.

Faye Spanos Concert Hall is the home of Pacific’s Conservatory of Music, the oldest conservatory in the Western United States. Conservatory students perform concerts for the community in Fay Spanos Concert Hall.

Faye Spanos Concert Hall is the home of Pacific’s Conservatory of Music, the oldest conservatory in the Western United States. Conservatory students perform concerts for the community in Fay Spanos Concert Hall.

Robert E. Burns Tower is a landmark for the campus and surrounding community.

Robert E. Burns Tower is a landmark for the campus and surrounding community.

Robert E. Burns Tower seen from Knoles Lawn.

Robert E. Burns Tower seen from Knoles Lawn.

Morris Chapel is the site of many weddings, memorial services, holiday concerts and other events.

Morris Chapel is the site of many weddings, memorial services, holiday concerts and other events.

Morris Chapel is the site of many weddings, memorial services, holiday concerts and other events.

Morris Chapel is adorned with lovely stained-glass windows.

Knoles Hall was one of the first buildings on campus when the university was moved to Stockton in 1924. it was featured recently – for the second time in recent years – on the cover of a Pottery Barn catalog.

Knoles Hall was one of the first buildings on campus when the university was moved to Stockton in 1924. it was featured recently – for the second time in recent years – on the cover of a Pottery Barn catalog.

Weber Hall is home of the award winning Eberhardt School of Business.

Weber Hall is home of the award winning Eberhardt School of Business.

These columns, found between Knoles Hall (background) and the University Library, were salvaged when a library in Stockton was being torn down. This is another popular photo spot or simply to sit and relax.

These columns, found between Knoles Hall (background) and the University Library, were salvaged when a library in Stockton was being torn down. This is another popular photo spot or simply to sit and relax.

Not all the buildings on campus are old. The DeRosa University Center, home to dining facilities, gathering places, conference center and the bookstore, is one of several LEED-certified buildings on campus.

Not all the buildings on campus are old. The DeRosa University Center, home to dining facilities, gathering places, conference center and the bookstore, is one of several LEED-certified buildings on campus.

The Alex and Jeri Vereschagin Alumni House is another.

The Alex and Jeri Vereschagin Alumni House is another.

And the John T. Chambers Technology Center is certified LEED Gold.

And the John T. Chambers Technology Center is certified LEED Gold.

Not far from the DeRosa University Center is a small redwood grove that includes art and picnic tables. It’s a perfect place for a quiet lunch or time for reflection.

Not far from the DeRosa University Center is a small redwood grove that includes art and picnic tables. It’s a perfect place for a quiet lunch or time for reflection.

The trees along this walkway on the south part of campus turn bright orange later in the fall. It is a nice reminder of New England.

The trees along this walkway on the south part of campus turn bright orange later in the fall. It is a nice reminder of New England.

There are several rose gardens on campus. They add color and fragrance to the campus beauty.
There are several rose gardens on campus. They add color and fragrance to the campus beauty.

About University of the Pacific

Established in 1851 as the first chartered university in California, University of the Pacific prepares students for professional and personal success through rigorous academics, small classes, and a supportive and engaging culture. Widely recognized as one of the most beautiful private university campuses in the West, the Stockton campus offers more than 80 undergraduate majors in arts and sciences, music, business, education, engineering and computer science, and pharmacy and health sciences. The university’s distinctive Northern California footprint also includes the acclaimed Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco and the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. For more information, visit www.pacific.edu.

Other links:

Pacific Mission and History:

http://www.pacific.edu/About-Pacific/History-and-Mission.html

Pacific has been the backdrop for several Hollywood films:

http://www.pacific.edu/About-Pacific/History-and-Mission/Hollywood-at-Pacific.html

Pacific’s alumni of distinction include many respected business owners, scholars, athletes, writers, artists … and an astronaut:

http://www.pacific.edu/About-Pacific/Success-Stories/Alumni-of-Distinction.html

Here are some of Pacific’s success stories:

http://www.pacific.edu/About-Pacific/Success-Stories.html

Follow us on Twitter @UOPacific or like us on Facebook.

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Writing in a circle, from surprise start to ironic finish

For as long as I can remember, I knew that I would be a writer. I just did not think early on that I would ever make a living at it. I thought it was something that I would do on the side, for myself and no one else.

And, now after 22 years as a professional writer and editor, I may never write and edit for a living ever again simply because of the economic atmosphere in which we live.

Such are the circles of life, I suppose.

As a youngster, I wrote stories in a form that most resembles storyboards, sort of a cartoon or graphic representation of a tale. Storyboards are used to outline television commercials, TV shows, movies or other video presentations. My fictional stories – which included plots and characters plucked from the latest adventure television programming – were for fun and to pass away the time during long, cold winters in the North Words of Maine or long, rainy days during summer vacation.

Later on, my high school English teacher, Janice Webster, occasionally encouraged me to write beyond the journal entries she assigned. But a high school boy more interested in sports and girls was embarrassed by the recognition and I mentally shoved aside the idea of writing beyond regular English assignments. Continuing a private journal was one thing, but being a professional writer on any level was out of the question.

Besides, there were far more practical pursuits on which to concentrate – studying for a profession or vocation – but writing was not one of them.

But college professors at the University of Southern Maine where I attended from 1980 to 1983 also were encouraging in critiquing my written work for courses in various areas of study, including English. It was comforting, but it still was not enough to spur me to write more than what my college courses required or what I cared to jot down in my personal journal.

I still have some of those early journals and marvel at how utterly terrible some of my writing was then. There are times I have considered finding an open spot and torching a pile of those journals so that they do not fall in the hands of even mildly intelligent people who will recognize the writing for what it is – dung.

Going west

While I loved the University of Southern Maine and Southern Maine in general, I felt a bit adrift there after three academic years. I was not sure what I wanted to be when I grew up, let alone what I wanted to study to get there.

So, almost reluctantly, I took the advice of several fellow USM students just returning from the National Student Exchange program. The program allowed students to attend courses for either a semester or complete academic year at other universities throughout the country, and then return to the home university. I picked California State University at Chico in Northern California.

Chico is north of Sacramento, but still well within the state’s prime agricultural area. Besides agriculture, the economy was centered on the university, a nearby community college, a major regional medical center, retail outlets, and, because Chico is the county seat for Butte County, social services.

Modern-day Chico was founded by Capt. John Bidwell, who in 1841 travelled to the West and for a time worked for John Sutter. After the discovery of gold, Bidwell tried a hand at gold prospecting. He eventually bought and sold a couple of land grants, eventually buying the Rancho Chico, the basis for modern-day Chico. He became one of the state’s largest landowners and wielded his political influence running for several offices, including for president of the United States.

Bidwell’s mansion is a state historic park on the edge of the campus. He also gave the city land for what was then – and very probably now, as well – the third largest municipal park in the country. Bidwell Park is a lush sanctuary that starts near downtown Chico and meanders along either side of the Big Chico Creek into the lava-formed foothills. Bidwell Park has a couple of swimming holes, bike and running paths, horse trails, ball fields, a fairy tale-themed children’s playground, nude beaches, hiking trails and more. The city’s municipal golf course is in Upper Bidwell Park.

I have not been to Chico in years and that is a shame since it is a fantastic place.

I originally planned to attend Chico State for a semester and then return to USM to finish out my college career. But, as such stories go, I fell in love with a woman. The problem was, of course, she was not interested in me. So, I arranged to stay for the entire academic year, I suppose in the hope of winning her heart.

I did not win her heart, but Chico won mine. I fell in love with the university, the city, and the outdoor activities in and around Chico. So, I settled in and became a wildland firefighter for the summer following my first academic year at Chico State. I was a wildland firefighter for two more summers while attending Chico State, rising from firefighter/sawyer/swamper to squad leader to crew leader my third year.

I very nearly made firefighting my career and still occasionally feel regret that I did not give the idea more thought. By now I would have nearly 30 years in the fire service and would be planning my retirement, whether as a transition into another career or as a transition onto a tropical beach. That – and the fact that I did not really pick a major until they forced me to – might indicate how conflicted I was in trying to pick a career.

Picking a path

Yes, they forced me into picking a major. They forced me because I could not seem to do the deed.

My academic adviser John Sutthoff, a professor in the school of communications, finally put down his foot and insisted that I pick a major. He asked what I enjoyed doing. I thought about and said I enjoyed writing, because I did enjoy writing in my personal journal and enjoyed the positive feedback from professors when it came to writing for my coursework.

He said that the school had public relations and journalism majors and both required much writing. Not wanting to be a public relations practitioner, I said I would try journalism.

I was not sure even then that I would end up being a professional writer.

With several of the basic news writing and editing courses down, I ended up on the staff of The Orion, the campus newspaper. There was only a part-time staff writer position available, but I was able to get full credit because I also became an assistant to the production manager. That meant that I was able to learn a bit about being a reporter and a bit about physically putting together the newspaper, which was much different than it is done today.

Then, the story was reported, written, edited and outputted on a strip of photographic paper. That paper as developed, trimmed to the width of a newspaper column, waxed and then put onto a blue-line grid sheet matching the newspaper page. Headline, cutlines, photos and ads were done separately, waxed and then attached to the grid sheet in the appropriate places. A photo of the page was then taken by a large camera, the negative transferred to a metal plate that was processed and then placed onto the drums of the printing press. Pressmen, who to this day keep secret the exact manner for placing plates on the press and for weaving the web – the rolled paper magically threaded through the press that will become the newspaper – then run a section of the paper. That was taken by conveyor belt to the circulation department where the various sections were combined – either by hand or by machine – to form the complete newspaper.

Now, software allows for stories, complete with headlines, subheds, cutlines, photos and ads, to be placed on an electronic page and output to plating as a single page before converted into a plate, saving much time and effort on the editorial side of the production.

First big story

Even as a part-time staff writer, I ended up with some exciting stories. I was interviewing the campus police chief one day about crime stats or something as banal, when a campus police sergeant came in to update him on an upcoming operation. The chief introduced me and the sergeant asked if I was coming along.

I was stunned, really, because they had been talking in police-speak and I was not clear on what they were talking about. The chief told me a bit about what was going on and said it would be OK if I wanted to come along with a photographer.

As it turned out, there was a ring of Chico State and Butte Community College students who were going onto the Chico State campus and elsewhere to steal coins from vending machines. They also were stealing other property, as it turned out, including stereo equipment and bicycles. (Chico is a big bike town, especially for college students. There used to be an annual road trip to Davis, another bike-friendly college town, to, um, borrow bicycles from University of California, Davis, students. Davis students would return the favor, of course.)

One of the members of the ring, Chico State football player Steven Crittenden, was nabbed doing something else and he pretty much gave up his crew. Officers went to the apartment of the gang and found a pile of coins, bicycles, stereos and other stolen property.

That was my first big story. Front-page of The Orion with photos. It was fun, especially since I believe we beat the local newspaper, The Chico Enterprise-Record. I sort of caught the bug then.

[But the story goes on a bit. Crittenden, the guy who tipped off police about the vending machine thefts, later was arrested in a rape. And then charged, tried and found guilty in the January 1987 double torture homicides of a prominent Chico physician and his wife, Joseph and Katherine Chiapella, in their Chico home. Crittenden’s trial was moved to Placer County, where he was convicted and sentenced to death. He remains on California’s death row. Here’s a link to a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals response to a filing for an appeal in the case with a description of the homicides. WARNING: The descriptions and other factual information are fairly graphic.]

I was the editor of The Orion the next two semesters. I wrote columns and editorials, mostly, and made sure we had enough stories to fill the pages. It was an eventful two semesters, but I think I would have been better served if I had been a writer for a full semester instead of being the editor. Some of the other writers from that time went onto great things, from working in journalism to writing and producing television dramas.

The Real World

After graduation, I hung around Chico for about a month before getting a job as the editor of The Mendocino Beacon. That began my professional career as a writer and editor.

From Mendocino, I went on to be a staff writer at The Ukiah Daily Journal, The Woodland Daily Democrat, and The Reporter in Vacaville. I stayed more than 13 years in Vacaville, moving up to copy editor, assistant news editor in charge of special sections, columnist, and opinion page editor. In a desire to make more money, I moved onto The Record in Stockton to take a job as an assistant city editor.

I stayed with that a couple of years until a newsroom reorganization resulted in me being reassigned to being a staff writer on the newspaper’s website. I was disappointed. There was no other way to look at the reassignment except as a demotion, a demotion not because of my work, but because of someone else’s inability to lead.

However, the year or so I spent working on the website was very beneficial. My main duty was to update content on the newspaper’s website, send out news alerts to mobile subscribers, and write breaking news. It gave me many new skills and helped me refresh old skills.

It was going well – or so I thought – until I was laid off March 5, 2009.

As past readers will know, I have been looking for work ever since. I have been looking for employment in conventional newsroom settings and online news services, and writing and editing opportunities for the federal government, nonprofits, and green industries. So far, a couple of interviews, but no offers.

I know I will find a job – eventually. I just wish it would happen already, especially since I’m quickly running out of unemployment insurance benefits. For that reason, I may have to take any job, whether it is in writing and editing or not.

And that is why I feel that I may not write as a professional ever again. It just may not be in the cards for me.

Epilogue

Irony is wonderful, isn’t it? I wrote this mostly string-of-consciousness blog entry after starting to re-read Rene J. “Jack” Cappon’s 1991 version of “The Associated Press Guide to News Writing,” a manual on how to best write clear, concise news stories. The irony is, of course, that I wrote an entry that is more than 2,000 words; there is nothing clear or concise about that.

USM team holds DNA clues to spill’s impact on whales | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

USM team holds DNA clues to spill’s impact on whales | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Author, humanitarian to speak at USM | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Author, humanitarian to speak at USM | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Lady Gaga to speak, but not perform, at Portland rally | Bangor Daily News

Lady Gaga to speak, but not perform, at Portland rally | Bangor Daily News.

Portland joins list of top college cities | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Portland joins list of top college cities | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

THE TOP 20

Top 20 best small cities for college students to live:

1. Boulder, Colo.

2. Ann Arbor, Mich.

3. Bridgeport, Conn.

4. Trenton-Ewing, N.J.

5. Gainesville, Fla.

6. Madison, Wis.

7. Durham, N.C.

8. Santa Cruz, Calif.

9. Honolulu, Hawaii

10. Fort Collins, Colo.

11. Santa Barbara, Calif.

12. New Haven, Conn.

13. Lincoln, Neb.

14. Albany, N.Y.

15. San Luis Obispo, Calif.

16. Naples, Fla.

17. Manchester, N.H.

18. Oxnard, Calif.

19. Santa Rosa, Calif.

20. PORTLAND, MAINE

Northeast officials discuss energy future, economy | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Northeast officials discuss energy future, economy | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Lab goes to sea: USM science team sails south to study oil spill’s effects on whales | Portland Press Herald

PORTLAND, Maine — A University of Southern Maine professor and  a crew of students are embarking on an expedition to learn how the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is affecting the health of whales.

The research vessel, Odyssey,  a 93-foot, two-masted sailboat packed with laboratory equipment, is now berthed at DiMillo’s Marina. The vessel is scheduled to depart Portland next Friday.

John Wise, a professor of toxicology and molecular epidemiology at the University of Southern Maine, is the lead scientist. At least 10 USM students will be on board for some portion of the three-month expedition.

The vessel is carrying Wise’s cellular molecular laboratory – the only laboratory of its kind at sea, according to Iain Kerr, chief executive officer of Ocean Alliance, the Massachusetts nonprofit that owns the $1.5 million ketch.

Wise and the crew will be hunting for cell samples of sperm, humpback and Bryde’s whales. Wise will study DNA extracted from the cells to examine the effects of pollution.

He will use his lab to grow additional cells, which in effect become a permanent living sample for further study.

The creation of new cell lines from wild marine animals is difficult if not impossible to do because the cells degrade within hours, Wise said. That’s why it’s important to have a floating laboratory.

Click on the link for the rest of this story by Tom Bell in the Portland Press Herald.

Moose on loose looks to stay that way | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Moose on loose looks to stay that way | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Maine Turnpike will be busy this weekend | Bangor Daily News

Maine Turnpike will be busy this weekend – Bangor Daily News.

Maine jobs news good, but still leaves cause for concern | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Our View: Job news good, but still leaves cause for concern | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Casco Bay’s forgotten forts | Down East

[I attended the University of Southern Maine in the early 1980s and had the opportunity to take a ferry out to one of the 365 or so islands in Casco Bay. But I didn’t realize the significant military history associated with some of those islands. I enjoyed this story about some of the military forts that were built on those islands to ward off threat. — KM]

Karen Lannon and her brother Hal Cushing have perhaps the most unusual piece of waterfront property in Greater Portland: a twenty-four-acre island complete with an artillery-ready, three-bastion granite fort. The two-story fort is fully equipped with walls, parapets, parade ground, and cavernous munitions bunkers and is suitable for repulsing any hostile parties who might wish to attack the Old Port with nineteenth-century naval assets. All Lannon and Cushing would need to hold back the steamers of the old Spanish Navy is a shipment of ten- and fifteen-inch Rodman guns, sixty trained artillerymen, and a large supply of ammunition.

Fortunately, Casco Bay isn’t under any immediate threat, so the siblings concentrate on the more mundane responsibilities of fort ownership. They mow acres and acres of lawns — every few days in springtime, the grass grows so quickly — and keep the walkways and outbuildings maintained for the tour parties they bring over from the city four times a week in season. Over near the old Immigration and Quarantine station there are lobster bakes to stage and weddings to cater, but at least they don’t have to clean up oil spills anymore. After their mother, the late Hilda Cushing Dudley, purchased the fort in 1954 to save it from being torn down, the family would regularly have to clean up their beach whenever oil spilled from tankers at the South Portland terminals. (“When we get a spill we get down on our hands and knees and clean it up,” she told a reporter in 1977. “People aren’t going to come out here if there’s oil all over the beach.”)

Asked what the hardest thing about fort ownership is nowadays, Hal doesn’t have to think. “Paying the taxes,” he says emphatically, referring to the $35,000 annual bill from Portland, of which House Island and Fort Scammell are a part. “We don’t have any services, but we’re charged by the square foot so we’re in the top ten tax residents in the city.”

But previous custodians of Fort Scammell and the network of other fortifications protecting Maine’s largest port had even worse things than taxes to contend with. They were slaughtered in Indian attacks in the seventeenth century, bombarded by British cannons in the eighteenth, suffered for lack of supplies, heat, and entertainment in the nineteenth, and shot at by suspected spies in the early twentieth. On the eve of World War II, thousands of soldiers and sailors manned anti-aircraft guns, heavy artillery, watch towers, and the controls for remotely-detonated mines, alert for a Nazi surprise attack that fortunately never came.

Click on the link for the rest of this story by Colin Woodard in Down East magazine.

Maine job rate increase lauded | Bangor Daily News

Maine job rate increase lauded – Bangor Daily News.

Keith’s rides Part 3: Getting stuck in the Duster while getting a box of sand

[This is the third of several blog entries on the cars and other vehicles I have driven. It may or may not be of interest. Enjoy. Or not. It’s your choice. – KM]

I went off to the University of Southern Maine in fall 1980 to begin college and spent the first two years there pretty much dependant on friends with wheels and the university’s bus service between the Gorham campus and the one in Portland.

It was an OK situation, I suppose, since I had plenty of friends willing to give me a ride and the bus stopped near the Maine Mall in South Portland where I had a part-time job at Olympic Sporting Goods selling athletic footwear and other assorted athletic gear.

But my sister was to attend USM, too, and my parents felt it was time for a more dependable vehicle to carry the two of us back and forth between Gorham and Aroostook County, typically a six-hour drive with a meal stop midway in Bangor.

If I didn’t make it clear enough, let me do so now: The Bug, in its physical condition, wasn’t particularly safe for the roads, especially wet and winter Maine roads.

My parents got rid of the Bug and purchased a used Dodge Duster. It was plain and brown, brown and plain. And plain. And brown. But it worked fine enough for a while.

I don’t even remember how or when we got rid of that car. It may have happened after I went to California via the National Student Exchange where I attended California State University, Chico. If I couldn’t walk, I usually was able to wrangle a ride from one of my floor-mates and later house-mates, much as I had done the first two years at USM.

I suppose the only road-trip story I have about the Duster involves getting stuck at a beach in the middle of winter.

You see, I was an activity assistant at Robie-Andrews Hall, one of the residential halls on the University of Southern Maine campus in Gorham. (USM also had a campus in Portland, Maine, and I believe it now also has a campus or satellite campus in Lewiston, Maine.) The winters in Maine can be demoralizing – long, dark and cold. So I suggested we have a beach party.

An assistant decorated some butcher paper with a beach scene, but I wanted to add to the scene. I jumped in the Duster and drove to a beach about 30 or 45 minutes away. I pulled into the parking lot. Cold, cold wind was cutting through my coat and snow blowing about, stinging any exposed skin.

I took a shovel and a box, trudged to the beach, dug up some of the beach sand, trudged back to the parking lot, and threw the shovel and box of beach sand in the trunk. I climbed into the Duster, started it up and nearly immediately found that the car was stuck in the blowing snow. Ugh!

Fortunately, a town snowplow drove by before too long and the driver offered to use the snowplow to pull out the car. I’m sure the driver, a Mainer through and through, had plenty to say to his buddies back at the plow barn about the college kid he helped out of a snowbank.

I got the sand back to Robie-Andrews and put it on the floor under the beach scene and changed into a tropical shirt for the party.

Here’s a tip: Never schedule a wintertime beach party on St. Patrick’s Day. College students tend to follow the green beer before they follow the box of beach sand.

 Rides of My Life … so far

Part 1: Jeep Commando

Part 2: VW Bug

Part 3: Dodge Duster

Part 4: Chevrolet Caprice Classic

Part 5: Nissan pickup

Part 6: Suzuki Sidekick

Part 7: Isuzu Rodeo

Part 8: Honda CRV

King Middle principal wins top Maine award | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

King Middle principal wins top Maine award | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Hannibal Hamlin in Paris … South Paris, that is

I went to the University of Southern Maine with a guy named Dean Lachance. That has nothing to do with the DownEast.com trivia question today, except that he came from South Paris. Or, at least he came from one of the towns with Paris in the name.

Either way, it did not help me in answering the trivia question. Here it is:

Who is South Paris famous for?

Answer:

The western Maine town was the birthplace and early residence of the Honorable Hannibal Hamlin, governor of Maine, United States senator, and vice president under Abraham Lincoln.

Code lays out ethics for Maine’s lawmakers | Portland Press Herald

Code lays out ethics for state’s lawmakers | Portland Press Herald.

47 things to know about me

A friend and former co-worker, Charlie, has a blog she calls domestic rockstar – she’s a mommy, wife, talented graphic artist, and the lead singer for the Las Vegas band bipolar – and she recently wrote “30 things I want to do the year I turn 30.”

I’m well past 30 – 17 years past 30, to be exact – but I thought I could do something similar.

But different.

Here are 47 things you may or may not know about me. If you have any questions or problems, bring them up with Charlie.

I …

1. Am an editor, writer, journalist, columnist and blogger. (Growing up I thought I would write someday, but I never thought I would be paid for doing it. I was paid for 22 years to write and edit.)

2. Am not sure that I will be paid ever again to write and edit.

3. Am guessing anyone who reads this list will skip down to No. 47 to see if I made it that far. (I know I would.)

4. Am more intelligent than some people seem to believe. (At least, I think I am.)

5. Really wish I had a dog. (Apartments are not the place for medium-sized, floppy-eared dogs.)

6. Am balding. (No plugs or rugs for me.)

7. Have hazel eyes. (They become more greenish when I wear green clothing. I’m wearing a green shirt as I write this.)

8. Believe that I often appear more confused than I am actually. (I furrow my brow when I concentrate and people often wrongly take that for confusion.)

9. Want to write a book someday. (The only thing holding me back is that I haven’t a clue what I’d write about.)

10. Am having a difficult time not writing this list in the third person as he would on his Facebook wall.

11. Intentionally used “he” and “his” in the previous line.

12. Am right handed, but most of my girlfriends have been left handed.

13. Throw out far too much food because I unintentionally let it expire/spoil.

14. Have a scar on my chin that I received as a toddler. (My father and I were passengers in a car that hit head-on with a car driven by my mother. We were not wearing seatbelts and my chin hit the ashtray. No stitches. Oh, and it was an accident.)

15. Have a scar on my knee I received one winter while in a footrace with a childhood friend. (I tripped and fell on an icy parking lot and my knee hit one of the pebbles that had been strewn on the ice so vehicles could get traction. No stitches.)

16. Wanted to be a forest ranger, cowboy, superhero or truck driver when I was a kid. Later, I wanted to be a Maine State Trooper. (I am not 100 percent convinced that I know even now what I want to be when I grow up.)

17. Worked as a chamber maid for a summer. I swear, that was the job title – chamber maid. (It was a summer job at the University of Southern Maine, which hosted summer conferences. A hugely fun handful of “chamber maids” learned hospital corners that summer and occasionally were tipped with leftover booze.)

18. Worked as a wildland firefighter while attending college. (I had to do something to counterbalance the whole chamber maid thing. It was a great experience and I very nearly changed career destination because of it.)

19. Have had a mustache since I was 17. (That makes my mustache 30 years old … the same age as Charlie.)

20. Haven’t done nearly as much as I wanted to do.

21. Envy free spirits and “just jump” people.

22. Needed the break from working, but now I am really hungry to get back to work.

23. Like old Western movies. And scifi. And cop shows.

24. Call my mother very nearly every week, even if there isn’t anything new to say.

25. Have never been to a strip club or a Hooters’. (I had dinner one evening with a group of friends and the three women at the table had been to a strip club, but the two men there – including me – had not. Ironic, I think.)

26. Have never ridden in a limousine. (And I’d be OK if I never did.)

27. Have been to Mexico, Africa, Germany, France, Haiti and Canada, but each of the trips were far too brief and most have been for work.

28. Have flown on a B24 and a C5, beside the assorted commercial aircraft of various sizes. (I was on a B24 covering World War II-era aircraft and on the C5 to get to Africa, Germany and Haiti.)

29. Have trouble acclimating to altitude. (I have a difficult time breathing at altitudes over 5,000 feet. There goes my dream of climbing Everest.)

30. Like beer. (I can’t believe I got to No. 30 before I mentioned this. By the way, the green shirt I am wearing is from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.)

31. Would wear jeans and a T-shirt over slacks with shirt and tie anytime. (But I really, really like the way I look in a suit and I cut a dashing figure of a man in a tux, if I do say so.)

32. Have big feet. (I am most comfortable in shoes that are 12 ½, but shoe manufacturers rarely include half sizes after 11 ½ so I often have to settle for size 13.)

33. Have been a Boston Red Sox fan since Carl Yastrzemski roamed below the Green Monster and was a New England Patriots fan since Steve Grogan, Russ Francis and Sam “Bam” Cunningham played in Foxboro. (So don’t ever think me a fair-weather fan!)

34. Finds it fitting that the previous line is the same number that Larry Bird wore playing for the Boston Celtics. (By the way, I was a fan of the Celtics when John J. Havlicek and Bill Russell played on the parquet floor, but sort of bailed on them for about a decade. But I’m back!)

35. Seem to recall that I earned 16 varsity letters in high school – four for soccer, four for baseball, two for basketball and six for concert band. (Several of us came up from middle school to supplement the high school concert band and I’m pretty sure music director Larry Hall rewarded us with varsity letters. If I am wrong about the number, is that something that will turn into a scandal that will keep me out of the White House?)

36. Also earned solid grades in high school and was a member of the National Honor Society. (Solid grades, but I had terrible study habits.)

37. Have worn glasses since about the second grade. (I wore contact lenses for a while. It was during a period when the FDA allowed 7-day contact lenses. It’s a big, big mistake to keep any foreign object on your eye for that long.)

38. Once lost a spelling competition in first- or second-grade because I could not recall that the word “happy” has two Ps. (Don’t judge. I was in first- or second-grade, for crying out loud. And, trust me, the class bully hassled me for a while about that. Oh, and spell check hasn’t made me much better of a speller.)

39. Don’t like cats or rats. (I’m allergic to one and am just plain creeped out by the other.)

40. Miss going hiking, camping and fishing.

41. Haven’t been to a movie in a theater in years. (I haven’t been in a relationship for a while and going to a movie by myself is not nearly as fun as it was when I was younger. And money has been pretty tight lately.)

42. Enjoy a good foreign film from time to time.

43. Joined Facebook and started a blog so I won’t go absolutely nuts while looking for a job. (The ironic thing is, both Facebook and the blog have kept me pretty sane and satisfied in what is a troublesome, worrisome time of unemployment for me. Both help fill the void left from the social contact I normally would have with co-workers.)

44. Wish I was taller. (6 feet tall, that’s all I ask.)

45. Wish I was in much, much better shape.

46. Occasionally sneak a peek at so-called reality TV. (But don’t tell my friends. And don’t tell my family. And don’t tell my enemies. And don’t tell the IRS or Homeland Security.)

47. Can’t believe I actually was able to come up with 47 things about myself. (At least one of you peeked down to the bottom of this list to see if I could come up with 47 items to write about myself, didn’t you?)

47.5. Am 47 ½, really, so I thought I’d add one more entry. (I’m pretty conscientious and I didn’t want to short-change anyone. After all, you paid good hard-earned money for this list. … Didn’t you?!)

Bonus: Can’t rap. Well, at least, not well.

There! That’s everything that you ever wanted – or didn’t want – to know about me. Have a lovely day!

Time of essence for Maine wilderness EMTs

I spotted a blog entry on DownEast’s website and thought it interesting. It is about rural emergency medical care and the need for certain adjustments to be made so a patient gets essential medical care in time.

It reminded me that for most of my childhood the closest thing to a doctor we had was a physician’s assistant in the next town, Ashland, some 11 miles away. I believe that is where the closest ambulance was located, too.

A doctor? A hospital? We had to go more than 30 miles past Ashland to the big city, Presque Isle.

In the city where I live now there are several hospitals and countless medical offices. You can hardly go a few city blocks without passing a medical office of some kind. The nearest ambulance may be just around the corner. Really. Just around the corner.

I do not recall ever seeing an ambulance in the town where I grew up. That does not mean there were not medical emergencies when I was a child; I just do not recall seeing an ambulance. Patients suffering from medical emergencies either waited for an ambulance to come from another community or family, friends and neighbors packed off the wound and loaded the patient into a pickup to drive them to the nearest medical care.

And I may not have heard an ambulance siren outside of Presque Isle or nearby Caribou until I went to the University of Southern Maine. Seriously.

The gist I get from the blog is that rural medical care now is far superior to what it was back then, that the men, women, training, equipment and support are all far, far better.

Even so, my city neighbors might not understand the difference between rural emergency health care and what they have come to expect from emergency medical pesonnel. The blog entry is especially interesting because it was written by a wilderness EMT on a Maine island with fewer than 100 residents. For her and other emergency medical responders in similar situations, it is not about how many blocks away the nearest ambulance or hospital might be. It is about weather – clear or gale – and tide – high or low – and about time of day – daylight so an air ambulance pilot can see to fly or night when the challenges of nighttime flying can be deadly. Waiting too long sometimes means a patient is bounced around a bit in a lobster boat chugging to mainland. It is about reminding a patient – forcefully, if necessary – that while they may feel fine now, it is essential to go before the sun goes down, to go while the tide is up, to go before the storm has taken hold and closed down chances of making the mainland for emergency hospital care that they need.

I am sure there are places in this country that are even more remote and provide emergency medical responders even greater challenges. All we can do is give them the training, equipment and support needed to do their jobs. And to remember as a patient to get into the ambulance … or lobster boat … when the EMT says to.

Rocker performing with Portland Symphony

Peter Wolf, former frontman for the J. Geils Band, is performing with the Portland Symphony Orchestra tomorrow afternoon on the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus. Judd Nelson, a Portland native, was supposed to be there, but had to cancel due to an injury.

The rocker, a Bostonian, apparently loves Portland:

“I love Maine, and I love Portland particularly,” Wolf told a Portland Press Herald reporter. “Great bookstores … great bars. The heart is a lonely hunter, so I thought I would venture up and give it a try. So you can tell people that I am rolling into town, double-parked in the highway of love, and rolling in and out of your different barrooms, of which Portland has some very good ones. I’m looking forward to trying some of your city’s fine home-brewed beer and some of their good wine.”

The story also has an “If You Go” box with information on time, location and ticket prices.

It might be a fun cultural event for those of you living in Southern Maine. I would consider going if I was back there; as I recall, the Portland Symphony is really pretty good. But as we know, I am writing Letters From Away.

Disclaimer: I remember the band, but for the life of me I cannot think of single song they did.