Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sanjaya's Popularity Explained

There have been many theories advanced to explain Sanjaya's inexplicable success on American Idol.
A conspiracy to ruin the show? Nope
A cartel of teen-aged girls madly in love? Close but not it.

It's voters from the State of Florida, who have mistaken Sanjaya and his less than talented head of hair for another no talent head of hair--Joakim Noah.....watching Joakim shoot free throws is very similar to watching Sanjaya sing, don't you think?
Go Bucks!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Awww. Redux

Remember the red panda from a couple of days ago? Here he is with his brother. I think I want one.

The Way Life Should Be

Maine Couple To Celebrate their 80th Anniversary

Kathleen Tarbell "fell head over my stomach" for her husband Waldo when they met at a dance. They married in 1927, during Calvin Coolidge's presidency. This weekend, they'll celebrate their 80th anniversary.

Waldo is 101 and Kathleen will turn 100 in June. The anniversary party will be Saturday afternoon at Oceanview Nursing Home, where the couple shares a large room.

Kathleen, a native of Pembroke, moved to Waldo's hometown of Meddybemps after they married. Two years later, they moved to Pembroke, where their two children, Helen Brown and Elliot Tarbell, were born.

Waldo and Kathleen lived in their home in Pembroke until a few weeks ago.

"I had to go to the hospital to have some X-rays taken. My back was killing me," Kathleen told the Bangor Daily News. After she was hospitalized, Waldo was moved to the nursing home and she later joined him.

For 37 years, Waldo worked for Maine Central Railroad, at a starting wage of 37 cents an hour. After their children were raised, Kathleen worked for 32 years as a "herring choker and wrapper" at sardine factories.

"Sometimes it'd be 10 o'clock at night before we'd get done. We'd go into work at eight in the morning. By the time we got home and got turned over in bed it was time to get up again," she recalled.

Kathleen has been a Democrat her entire adult life. Waldo, originally a Republican, turned Democrat. "She converted me," he said.

They remain up to speed on current events. Kathleen reads the newspaper every day, and she thinks the war in Iraq is "scandalous."

"Somebody ought to take Bush and wring his neck, and I might be the one to do it," she said with a sparkle in her eye.

Aye-uh. The way life should be. Delightfully feisty folks livin' a plain long time in places like Meddybemps.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Maine's Working Waterfront

The coast of Maine is only 293 miles from Kittery (the southern most point) to Eastport (the far eastern point), but the shore is so jagged and contains so many cutbacks and inlets and such that when all that is considered there are more than 4,500 miles of shoreline in Maine. Add in the island shoreline and it's more than 7,000 miles of coast.

Of that, according to CEI, only 25 total miles are still designated as working waterfront, and that number continues to decrease.

Earlier this week, the New York Times had a story on a non-profit group in Harpswell that raised $1.5 million to buy a dock and businesses at Holbrook's Wharf to protect their working waterfront. They failed to mention that the Harpswell solution bears some resemblance to what happened in York a few years ago--villagers banding together to preserve and protect a way of life and an important part of the state's history:

In 2003, the Village of York engineered a breakthrough solution to protect the docks near Sewall's Bridge on the York River., which included the local land trust. Land trusts have generally not been involved in waterfront issues, tending to stick with large undeveloped rural landscapes.

In this case The York River Land Trust became involved in the project because it felt that the dock was part of the historic and scenic beauty of the York River, and as part of the viewshed, it fell within the land trust's mission to attempt to protect the piece of land from unwanted development. It bought the development rights to the property, working with a coalition comprised of the York Land Trust, CEI, two lobstermen, and members of the Old York Homestead Association to ensure the community concerns were heard and addressed.

The village then defined the "working water front uses" with the future in mind. The fishery is not specified. The uses include the floats, docks, vessels, and other equipment and support resources required for harvesting aquatic (marine and freshwater) organisms. Support offices for related businesses are included. Retail shops, offices and open air snack bars are allowed provided that they relate directly the to the harvest of aquatic organisms. Marinas, restaurants, and fuel pumps are not included.

Scarlet and Gray Cake

Those of you from the south might call this a Red Velvet Cake, but in honor of the Buckeye's Final Four appearance in Atlanta this weekend, I'm going to add a dash more red food coloring to the cake batter and then I'll see if I can mix up a nice gray color for the icing (we'll then pray that it doesn't look like a dead armadillo) and I'm gonna call it a Scarlet and Gray Cake.

Regardless of the coloring, as a kid, this was always my requested birthday cake and it remains one of my favorite cakes to make and eat. I haven't had one/made one since moving to Maine, so this is a lovely excuse to bake.

There are many red velvet cake recipes to be found; some recommend crushed pecans as a garnish and some (the heresy) advise the use of a store-bought devil's food cake mix and canned frosting, which absolutely does not do. Others substitute white frosting for the cream cheese. Not bad, but not great. This is my favorite recipe, from my good friend Joy's momma, Rosie, who hails from Russel Springs, KY.


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)--I'm going to bump this up to three
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vegetable oil for the pans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.

Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.

Divide the cake batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely before frosting the cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using a mixer, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, and beat until fluffy. Refrigerate until the frosting stiffens before frosting the cake.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


It's real. Have you ever seen anything cuter?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Spring Update

It's 55 degrees.
Of course, if I look to the right of the deck, we have this:

If I look to the left of the deck, it's still like this.

But no matter.

We have flowers in March.

Maine's Oldest Home Sold To Someone From Away

And (gasp) he might well be a Yankees fan!
The 345-year old Bray House in Kittery was sold at auction to an unidentified buyer from New York City. The house sold for $1.9 million, including auction commission.

Which is why someone from away bought it. Very few Mainers are so impractical as to pay that much for a house, especially a really old house.

More on the Bray House (via Working Waterfront):

Bray House, Pepperell Road, Kittery (1662): A two-story home built by Jonathan Bray, a shipwright, it is often said to be the oldest house in Maine — which it might well be, given the uncertainty of the exact date of the Maxwell Garrison’s construction. It’s older than New Hampshire’s oldest house, which is across the river in Portsmouth, and said to be the birthplace of Sir William Pepperell.

Basketball Trivia

We're just killin' time until Saturday.

For my dear friends in the ACC, Big East and SEC, here's a bit of men's basketball trivia for you:

The Big Ten has accumulated the most Final Four appearances with 39 (ACC - 38) and boasts the second-most national titles (10) in college basketball history. The only other conference to reach double-figures in national championships is the Pac-10 with 15 titles.

Since the inception of the NCAA Tournament in 1939, the Big Ten has recorded the most appearances of any conference in the Big Dance with 180 (ACC, 167) and has the second-most NCAA Tournament victories with 289 (ACC, 323).

The Big Ten is the only conference since 2000 to advance five different programs to the Final Four. The ACC and Big 12 have each had four different schools reach the national semifinals over that time span, followed by the Big East (3), SEC (2) and Pac-10 (2). Michigan State leads the Big Ten with three appearances (2000, 2001 and 2005) while Illinois (2005), Indiana (2002), Ohio State (2007) and Wisconsin (2000) have each earned a Final Four spot since 2000.

Monday, March 26, 2007

84 Charing Cross Road

I've a new favorite movie, 84 Charing Cross Road, starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft. The surprise payoff is that Judi Dench plays the small role of Anthony's wife, but that's just one of the many reasons to love this movie. It's charming and lovely and smart.

Anyway, I'm guessing that the book, 84 Charing Cross Road, might be the first "book about books". For 20 years, Helene Hanff, a feisty New York writer, corresponded with a small antiquarian bookstore in London, primarily with one man, called Frank Doel. She originally answered an ad in the book review, hoping to find inexpensive, rare books. Over the years, they became friends, bonding over their love of books, but sharing news of family and baseball and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Sadly, they never met and Helene never visited Marks & Co before it closed. But she did write a wonderful book that was made into a wonderful movie. Hats off to the screenwriters.

Salsa Recipes

....are posted over at Mainely Cooking.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Frozen Four, Baby!

Heh. They's more to sports than just March Madness and Spring Training. There's also the Famous Frozen Four of college hockey (hockey is THE sport in Maine, with a quick interruption for the Sox).

Congratulations to the Maine Black Bears, who defeated the UMass Minutemen and are headed to the Frozen Four, where they'll meet Sparty. Never underestimate Michigan State. They're a scrappy lot (caused by not being the University of Michigan) and like to give people some trouble. Just look at that guy. Would you mess with him?

And kudos to Boston College, who whomped up on the Miami Red Hawks (my little bro's alma mater) to advance to the Frozen Four as well. BC lost to Wisconsin in last year's final and they're ready for a National Championship.

Good luck to the Eagles and the Black Bears. (Revealing who I'm pulling for is unwise for a variety of reasons, but suffice it to say I've abandoned my midwest roots).

Winter's Tale

Even though the crocus are getting ready to bloom, this photo gallery from the Portland Press Herald is so stunning, I had to share. Makes me almost sad that winter is leaving us. Almost.
I can't link to it directly, but if you click this link and then the Winter Through the Lens on the left side of the page, you'll get the slide show. Beautiful picture making in a beautiful state.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Music to Cook By

We created a playlist to entertain ourselves while chopping and tasting. We had to be able to dance to it, sing with it, have heard it on FNX between the years of 1989-1994 or connect it to Boston.

The Cinco de Mayo Cooking With Fire List

I'm Shipping Off to Boston--The Dropkick Murphys

Jane--Jefferson Starship

Rocky Mountain Way--Joe Walsh

Come to My Window--Melissa

Nature Boy-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Good Vibrations--The Beach Boys

Good Vibration--Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch

Helmethead--Great Big Sea

Who Do You Love-George Thorogood

Now That We Found Love--Heavy D

Shambala--Three Dog Night

Love Bites--Def Leppard


Toss the Feathers--The Corrs

La Bamba--Richie Valens

Tonight She Comes--The Cars

A Million Miles Away--The Plimsouls

Zydeco Tous Pa Tous--Zydeco Buckwheat

Pour Some Sugar On Me--Def Leppard

Every Rose Has Its Thorn--Poison

Crazy On You--Heart

Summer Sunshine--The Corrs

Buck's Step-up--Buckwheat Zydeco

Do Ya--ELO

Armegeddon It--Def Leppard

Unskinny Bop-Poison

Slide--GooGoo Dolls

Like The Way I Do--Melissa

When I Come Around--Green Day

Cuts You Up--Peter Murphy

The One Thing--INXS


Things Can Only Get Better--Howard Jones

Dirty Water--The Standells

You Spin Me 'Round--Dead or Alive

3 AM Eternal--The KLF

Ride My SeeSaw--The Moody Blues

O-H(Pause for effect) I-O

I wanna go back to Ohio State

To old Columbus town

To the stadium to hear the band

By far the finest in the land
I wanna go back to Ohio State

To old Columbus town

I wanna go back, I gotta go back

To Ohio

Ohio, Ohio

The hills send back the cry...O-H

Were here to do or die...I-O

Ohio, Ohio

We'll win the game or know the reason why

And when we win the game, we'll buy a keg of booze

And we'll drink to old Ohio till we wobble in our shoes

Ohio, Ohio, we'll win the game or know the reason why


First in to the FINAL FOUR, BABY. Oden-rated? Nah. Just good!
We're in pleeeeeze, pleeeze, pleeeze. Do not make us play Florida.

Strange Maine

...with apologies to the blog of the same name, but this is either a huge case of shack wackiness or a very strange story:

In Waterville, ME man and mouse are locked in a battle of the wills and right now, the mouse appears to have the upper hand (and the lower dentures).

Bill Exner has managed to catch this particular mouse three times and three times, it escaped. Then it stole his dentures. His future son-in-law came to rescue the dentures with a crow bar and saw and they were retrieved from the mouse's hidey hole.

Since then, the mouse has taken to staring down Bill Exner, and even Bill's wife is convinced that the mouse is taunting poor Bill.

Hola Amigos!

It's going to be an unusual sunny spring Saturday here in the Pine Tree State. The Hubby is away (golfing) so I'm going to use the day (or the portion of it before the 4:40 Ohio State-Memphis tip off) to try some recipes for the Annual Cinco de Mayo party.

An old and dear friend from Boston is coming up for the day. She loves to cook and has promised that if I make her a Bloody Mary, she'll help dice, mince and taste. I'm guessing she'll settle for a White Trash Margarita......hopefully, she'll also not mind watching a bunch of guys in scarlet and gray run around on a hard wood floor bouncing a ball for a while either.

So, the Cinco de Mayo planning.
Last year's menu was extremely time intensive and once the party got started it ended up being a little more high maintenance than I'd planned (of course the party was way bigger than I'd planned, which might account for that). We had (with editorial comments):

Pear and Mint Salsa--excellent, I think it stays
Five Alarm Salsa--I loved it, but it's not going to make the cut as the five alarm almost hospitalized a couple of the guests.
Fresh Tomato Salsa--not exciting, but because of that it's a keeper
Mucho chips--

Chicken Enchiladas--on the fence
Beef Fajitas-going. Too high maintenance and difficult to eat
Spanish Rice--on the fence
Black Bean Salad--keeper, I think
Homemade Queso--hmmmm, I didn't love this recipe. I'll look for a new one, I think

White Trash Margaritas-keeper
Grand Gold Margaritas--on the fence. I'd like to add an exotic fruity margarita this year
Mexican Beer--but of course . All beer stays
Soft Drinks
Iced Tea

Provided that I don't chop off a finger, the recipes will be posted over at Cooking Mainely.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Thanks for Dropping By

If you're looking (and about 700 of you are) for Gisele and the masai (Red AmEx Ad) you won't find it here. It's here. There's also a really nice article about the masai man in the ad here.

If you're looking (which many of you seem to be doing today) for Script O'Shit, here ya go:
Come again soon!

What A Difference A Few Days Can Make

Alternate Title "Hope Does Spring Eternal"
Second Alternate Title "We Love Mud Season"

On Wednesday, we awoke to temps in the single digits and way, way too much snow for this late in March.

Yesterday, even the wind was warm. Overnight last night, temps remained above freezing, and the snow pile at the end of the drive has melted from over my head (5' 1--and three quarters of an inch) to about waste high. Patches of grass are showing the yard and two woodpeckers are making a big racket in the woods somewhere. It smells like spring--good damp earth warmed by the sun.

It's all good. Dice-K appears to be the real $100 million dollar man. Papelbon is named the Sox closer and seems happy about it. Even a Sox fan has hope on a day like this.

OH. What A Night

Ohio State 85. Tennessee 84.
Ohio State rallied from a 20 point first half deficit. It was a nail biter, but these Buckeye refuse to lose. They remind me of another team.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Oh. My. Goodness. (Go Bucks!)

One of my little Michigan friends sent me the above picture with a question:
If Ohio State loses do you think Samson will shave his pretty locks in mourning?
Answer: I'm guessing not, as a high quality mullet such as this has obviously taken many years to cultivate and separation from lovely mullet could not be easy.

Why oh why do they always have to be OSU fans? Why can't we find a Michigan fan lacking in good taste and common sense?
I can only hope that this was taken years ago when mullets were in style.

My little Michigan friend was kind enough to offer best wishes for tonight's game and to let me know she's pullin' for the Bucks. That's so sweet, isn't it?

Sweet 16

We're gearing up for the big game tonight--the 32-3 Ohio State University Buckeyes vs. the Tennessee Volunteers (24-10).

The Bucks and the Vols have already played this year, with the Buckeyes eeking out a 68-66 win at home. That win was the first of 19 in a row for Ohio State, who ended the season with a Big 10 Championship (both regular season and tournament crowns) and ranked #1 in the country.

These teams have changed since that meeting in Columbus--both have gained maturity (including Greg Oden, the oldest looking 18-year old on the planet) and big game experience, so this should be a great game. We take nothing about the Big Dance for granted and know that any team can win on any given day. To help the Buckeyes pull out a win, I'll be wearing the same outfit that I donned for every Ohio State regular season football game (oh that I'd worn it on January 8th....). It works. I know this because the football team never lost while I was wearing it.

I'm not the only superstitious basketball fan out there. ESPN reports on Ohio State coach Thad Matta's little quirks:

Thad Matta takes a 32-win Ohio State team into San Antonio this week. His Buckeyes are deep, athletic, offensively explosive, defensively resolute, physically mature and mentally tough.

In other words, there are a lot of very good reasons why the Buckeyes have won 19 straight to get to this point.

But judging from Matta's behavior, it could all go to hell in a heartbeat without a stick of chewing gum.

Before every game, he has to have a piece of Juicy Fruit or Orbit -- "I don't know which one he chews currently," associate head coach John Groce said -- presented to him by a team manager. Matta has to unwrap it himself, then wad up the wrapper, then shoot it into the trash can behind the bench.

Every game. Without fail. Lest the Earth split open and swallow him on the spot.

Or maybe it's the tie choice that has kept the Buckeyes rolling. Before each game, Matta's daughters, 8-year-old Ali and 6-year-old Emily, have to pick out dad's neckwear.

"Sometimes it might not match," Groce said. "But if it doesn't, that's OK."

At this point, Matta would wear a maize-and-blue tie if his daughters selected it. There is no going against the established ritual.

Just Another Wannabe

He's just like, um, peeved that he's like, so not blonde....

Blond, blue-eyed Westerners probably can't be as successful at Middle East diplomacy as Japanese with their "yellow faces," Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso was quoted by media as saying on Wednesday.

"Japan is doing what Americans can't do," the Nikkei business daily quoted the gaffe-prone Aso as saying in a speech.

"Japanese are trusted. If (you have) blue eyes and blond hair, it's probably no good," he said.

"Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces."

Random Old Photos

Amish School Coat Room, 2001
I'm trying to organize my photos. They are currently scattered (and I mean scattered) across two computers and one external hard drive. The organization of my photo files is beginning to resemble the organization in my closet. "Dee-sas-ter' is the best descriptor that I can come up with for both.

Lately, I find myself looking for a photo that I just know that I have, but I can't find it.
Of course, I find it three weeks later while looking for another photo that I just know that I have..... Better to take control of the situation now, before it's totally out of hand.

These two, I'd forgotten about entirely.
Prepare yourself for many mindless postings of photos having nothing to do with Maine. Don't worry, it won't last too long.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The First Day of Spring

The View from My Window, York, ME March 21, 2007

I vowed that I'd never complain about the winters in Maine. After all, we moved here voluntarily. This winter has tried that vow almost to the breaking point. The first day of spring was spent huddled near the fireplace, looking at the snow out the window, wondering how the daffodils are managing.

War Zone Diary

Tonight, I'll stay up past my bedtime to watch The War Zone Diary on MSNBC.
Richard Engel graduated from Stanford and knowing he wanted to be an international news journalist, moved to Cairo, Egypt with $2,000 in his pocket and a plan to learn Arabic. He figured he'd somehow find a job. In 2003, he became NBC's bureau chief and lead reporter in Iraq, just after we started shocking and awing.

Judging by the trailers and teasers, The War Zone Diary is graphic, personal and raw. It doesn't look to be "fun" viewing. It includes the suffering of our troops and the Iraqi people.

We're a nation at war. We're in a war that's lasted longer than the Korean conflict and both of the previous two World Wars. An hour of "not fun" viewing to better understand this situation is just the first step in what I should do.

2007 Moose Lottery

The Maine Moose Lottery Is June 14 at Phippsburg Elementary School

The annual lottery attracts hundreds of hopeful hunters, anxious to see if they will be one of 2,880 selected from a pool of over 65,000 people who will get the chance at the hunt of a lifetime.

Don't laugh. Ya know you're from Maine if "50% of the contents of your freezah is moose meat".

World Water Day

World Water Day 2007 is tomorrow. World Water Day, observed on March 22, is an international day of observance and action to draw attention to the plight of the more than one billion people in the world without access to safe drinking water.

Get involved: Select an Event

You can help. Join WaterPartners International, the United Nations, Ethos Water, and many other organizations and individuals as we take action to address this critical global problem.

Walk For Water: Join a Walk For Water in one of 15 cities on March 24. The Walk For Water is inspired by the example of women in water-stressed countries who often walk 6 miles each day just to get water for their families. To join a Walk, select a city from the “Events” menu.

You'll find more information here.

Summah People

That picture of Al Gore, above the fold of today's print edition of the New York Times?
Taken by a summah resident of our fair village. Should you walk the dog on the beach in the mornings, you'll meet him, and should you take your camera on those walks, you might be lucky enough to have him to give you some pointers on your work.....

(oh, and that guy in the picture with Al? Also a summah resident of our little village. But don't tell anyone, OK?)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring Dun Sprung

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that. It looks like this. Really. It does. But it will melt. Someday. I hope.

Al Gore Will be So Pleased....

...but the Maine logging industry might not agree with him:

When Scholastic announced that it would be printing 12 million copies of the final Harry Potter book, the number inspired more awe than practical concerns. Chiefly, where is all that paper going to come from?The answer came today: Sixty-five percent of the 16,700 tons needed for the launch will be manufactured from forests approved by the Forest Stewardship Council, a group that sets global standards for sustainable forest-keeping, according to their site.

All the books will contain contain “a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer waste fiber,'’ or paper that has been collected for recycling.

From the NYTimes.

Paul Bunyan?

Found on a road outside of town, in a field by the side of the road. We have no idea who or what the significance is.
Could it be the rival team's mascot head?
Is it a memorial to Paul Bunyan?
Is it an advertisement for a local business?
Is it a practical joke?

(HT to Starfish)

Monday, March 19, 2007


A friend emailed to ask if we had a lot of snow......
You could say we do, I guess.

Tennis Gallery

Roger Federer, taken from the cheap seats with my Coolpix s4.
More tennis photos over at Flickr. Still getting used to eastern time and snow. Might have more to say later today. Might not.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

We Picked Up A Lot of Good Tennis Tips....

Back from 101 degree temps, no internet and email access (what did we ever do before these things? Oh yes. We read wonderful books and we talked), and many great tennis matches and good dinners.
We need to adjust to 14 inches of snow and 25 degrees, so for now we'll leave you with the above image of the 2007 Pacific Life Champion. Rafael Nadal. (He does this before every point, in case you're wondering.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

It Seems Winter Has Affected Us All

The entire state of Maine seems just bit off-kilter and wacky lately, so we're getting out of here to vacation for a bit. Posts will be random, or maybe non-existent. In the meantime, here are some general items of interest from the state of Maine:

For some odd, inexplicable reason, the State of Maine wants to stop clergy from signing marriage licenses. For a common sense kind of state, this one is rather mind boggling.

A 91-year old Maine man has challenged Jack LaLanne to a boxing match. We're glad he did, as we didn't realize that Jack was still alive.

The state has its own presidential candidate this year. Gus Jaccaci has announced he'll seek office, and he's running as Thomas Jefferson.

Ta Ta

Hopefully when we return, the grass will be green, the days longer and the winteritis will have given way to better thoughts. Don't forget to change your clocks.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Daylight Savings Time

April 9, 2006 5:02 am

I'm not a huge fan of this revision to the weekend that we change over to DST. I like the last week of March here in Maine, when the sun comes up at about 5 am. It makes for early days and lots accomplished before lunch. With the early daylight savings change, we won't see a sunrise that early this year--6:04 am is the earliest we'll see the sun and come Sunday, it's going to rise at 7:02. Sigh. It's rather like living in Ohio, what with the lazy sunrise and the party hardy late sunsets.

Lubec, Me (way downeast) doesn't at all agree with me on this. Their earliest sunrise is in mid-June at 4:41 am, and in the winter, the sun sets before 4 pm. They do have more than 15 hours of sunlight during the summer, and they're the first folks in the US to see the sunrise--that seems a nice trade off for the short winter days, doesn't it?

Much of Maine 'suffers' from the early days and short evenings--enough to have the state legislature consider moving to Atlantic time (one hour earlier than EST) every once in a while. I think the measure is currently tabled again and that makes our Boston commuting neighbors quite happy.

See how DST affects dairy cows and traffic fatalities (video link in the middle of the article)/

Worst Weather in the World

....ok I exaggerate, but Maine was given the title of worst weather in the US this morning by MSNBC. This is a title usually held by Mt. Washington, to our west.... but I guess our -5 degree wake up and the wind (which has finally died down) gave us the edge.
When it's this cold for this long, the beach starts to look like a lunar landscape.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Unbox At Amazon Goes Live

....and it works. Even me, a decidedly non-techie, made it work in about five minutes with a couple of mouse clicks.

First of all, I should point out that this won't be a service we make use of frequently. It's a little limiting and with NetFlix and a DVR, there's not a huge benefit to Unbox. You can download to your PC (no Mac OS supported) or to your TiVo box, provided your TiVo box is associated with a home network (which ours already is for reasons that I can't quite remember). But as BoingBoing points out, signing up for the service and downloading to your PC provides Amazon with a lot of control over your PC and provides you with very little recourse or consumer rights. I'm not downloading to my PC because I'm a Mac user, and the TiVo option is far less restrictive.

So, I tried it because Amazon is giving a $15.00 gift certificate for anyone who signs up between now and April 30. That's one free movie from a place that already gets most of my paycheck (I buy a lot of stuff at Amazon) and that I trust, so why not?

I also tried it because a) I'm geeky enough to be intrigued by an on-line store that can download a movie to my TiVo box immediately and b) there's not a lot of other stuff to do in Maine on a Wednesday night before American Idol starts, so why not play with the new technology? I also wanted to see if I could make it all work. It seems so fantastic, so Star Trek, so Star Wars.....

Unbox options include movies like Marie Antoinette, An Inconvenient Truth, Babel and Stranger than Fiction and TV shows like 24 , Prison Break and Bones. We chose Borat. (You're not surprised, are you?)

The purchase went like this: Amazon says it's a simple one-time registration. As with most other customer service interactions at Amazon, they're right. Easy Peasy as my niece would say. Amazon used my email address and password from TiVo to find my TiVo box serial number and set up the pipeline to drop the movie into my TiVo box. I purchased Borat (after thoughtful browsing and consideration--not so much), and it appeared on my media bookshelf at Amazon in the download queue.

I went off to the YHI and met the ladies for dinner and when I got home, bam--Borat is now playing on TiVo list. I have no idea what happens when the Tivo hard drive blows up or we decide to move to a HiDef box, but seeing as we didn't pay for it, c'est la vie, I guess. It's so cool.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A Little Sunshine

In these days of gloom and doom, global warming (no link necessary), and sudden unexpected loss, I look to the little things to make me smile a bit.
Today was the trifecta of joy:

  • First, a dear friend left a birthday present in the mailbox. It's the book Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Relin. It's the story of a man who, after an unsuccessful attempt to summit K2, has devoted his life to building schools in the Hindu Kush. It's an adventure tale, but it's also an inspiring story of how one person with a vision and a will can change the world....really.
  • Then, I just found out that EA is releasing Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 for the Wii. Wee. One more reason to never leave the house.
  • Right after that I get an email from our help desk. Not only can they replace my skitchy, on again off again Blackberry before I leave town on Saturday, but they've gotten a sleek and stylish Pearl to replace my manly, clunky Blackberry. It will look fab with my storm chasers and BMW Coat.
Finally, my wonderful brother gifted me the new Arcade Fire album Neon Bible thru iTunes. It's terrific-- very different than their first album Funeral. Neon Bible is more angry, full of energy and maybe even a little paranoid. Just my kind of music.

Pretty shallow? Most days, I try not to be, but when my hopes of building merged outcome Heifer/Habitat communities throughout Kenya were dashed when we didn't win Mega Millions, I needed a little pick me up.

Quote of the Day

Email from NASA Astronaut Shipman to Bill Oefelein:

"Because you know how these things go," Shipman told detectives. "Isaid, `Is there gonna be some crazy lady showing up at my door, tryingto kill me?' He said, `No ... she's not like that. She's fine with it. She's happy for me.'"
Don't you find it bizarre that Shipman would worry about another girlfriend--a NASA astronaut, at that-- trying to kill her? Even in complicated situations would that thought ever cross your mind? Probably not unless you'd done something really slimy, right? Something that caused you to feel really guilty? Something that if the positions were reversed might cause you to act out in a crime of passion?

How about that it appears Oefelein is really understating his relationship to Nowak and Shipman knew that he and Nowak were far more involved than he first ever let on? Also included in the documents that the prosecutors have released:

.....undated letter to Oefelein's mother in which Nowak wrote that she was taking steps to divorce her husband so she could be with Oefelein.

"Bill is absolutely the best person I've ever known and I love him more than I knew possible," Nowak wrote. Nowak thanked Oefelein's mother for supporting her relationship with Oefelein, "especially since my parents are not as supportive right now."

So, if Bill Oefelein's mother knows about their relationship and is "supporting" Lisa Nowak's relationship with her son, and if this is really all true then methinks Bill Oefelein is a slimeball womanizer who needs to resign from the space program immediately. As an anonymous commenter said yesterday,

I don't get why working professionals don't get it. Not just in America, but across the world. Mixing work and pleasure is like mixing government and religion. It all sounds good until someone gets hurt. Anyone with a remotely adequate range of emotions knows this. I am going to post here with sincere and educated belief that Oefelein is also at serious fault and at least partially culpable for Nowak's actions. I have not read ANYTHING about this attempted kidnapping that points this out. Oefelein's decision to bring romance into the workplace was selfish and purposeful. An ex-marine knows how to control their heart with their mind, and therefor I have no doubt of the intentionality of Oefelein 's actions.

ayeuh. We completely agree, Anon.

Sea Smoke in Maine

A little sea smoke on this frigid March morning.

3-7-07 -7 Degrees

Seven Degrees below zero on March 7. We did not win Mega Millions.
All the pipes in the upstairs bathroom are frozen, not just the toilet that freezes up all the time.

Coffee is brewing and a mug full of hot water is warming, waiting for the coffee. Straight out of the cupboard, the mug's so cold, it makes the coffee tepid. So I warm them before filling them.

None of this is interesting, excepting that it's a normal winter's morning for us here in Maine, but it's the first like it we've had all winter, here in our cute but not well-insulated home.

In a few minutes, I'm going to pull on my BMW Coat* (and maybe my storm trackers) and head off to tennis. Starfish, fellow tennis lady and reader of this blog, doesn't believe that I really bought a BMW Coat but then again, she might not believe that if I had my choice, we'd move farther into Maine, like maybe here or here. I'd even consider living here or here.

As wild as this can seem on a morning like this morning, we really live in a suburb of Boston, and it's a suburb with more and more people moving in.

The first year we lived in this house in Maine, we had wild turkeys crossing through the yard. We heard coyotes most winter nights. Many nights, we heard an owl calling from the neighbor's tree, and I saw a Black Bear amble across Mountain Road on an autumn afternoon. We had a Fisher Cat terrorizing neighborhood cats (he got two) and a snapping turtle in the herb garden, terrorizing me. Now we just have deer eating the garden and that can happen most anywhere. We've not seen or heard an owl for two years and I don't think the Stage Neck has had a moose visit for a couple of years. We love our house and we love our town, but I really love my BMW coat and can live anywhere that it's in style. Which appears to not be here.

*Big Maine Woman

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Update on the Grrr Day

It's a sunny 7 degrees at 3:15 pm. The wind, which was to die down this afternoon is still howling.
The upstairs toilet is frozen and we've had to put a space heater in the garage to keep the downstairs bathroom pipes from freezing. Overnight, our windchills are to be -20 to -30 degrees.
It's March. Someone tell the weather gods, as they appear to be confused about this.

Retired Guy is braving the elements to drive to Massachusetts to buy a Mega Millions ticket. We only play the lottery when the jackpot is over $100 million and we never buy more than $5.00 worth of quick pick tickets. Why he'd decide to drive two states away to do this is beyond me, but I'm guessing it's because a man can only watch so much ESPN and so many Lifetime Movies.

I'm much less frazzled and frayed. A few hours of Roxy Music, a gallon of hot coffee and a nice slice of leftover Red Velvet Cake will take the edge off anyone, won't it?

Winter's A Trial for Maine's Nudists

This headline from the Boston Globe wins the "No Sh*t? I'd Never Have Guessed That" Award for this week. I'm typing this post in a turtleneck, wool sweater, Smart Wool socks and my heavy jeans (not fat jeans, heavy, as in thick denim for warmth), and cannot imagine shedding my clothes for any reason, let alone just to eat a potluck supper in the buff or to bowl in nothin' but the shoes.
According to the article:

Despite its winters, New England is considered an important region by the American Association for Nude Recreation.

"Our members tend to be college-educated and politically moderate, with incomes above $50,000, like a lot of people in parts of New England, and that makes it very fertile ground," said Erich Schuttauf , executive director of the Florida-based group.

The Maine club has about 60 households listed as members last month. Members include a lobsterman, an artist, a truck driver, a lawyer, and a heating and air conditioning repairman.

Do you suppose the lobsterman hauls traps in the nude? Why do college-educated people want to be bare, I wonder?

I was very disappointed to learn that the Maine group has changed its name from the Bare Nekkid Mainers to the Dirigo Naturist Association. It just doesn't have the same ring.

You might remember the group from this post--be careful when you click the link. There's a picture and everything (not of everything. His everything is blocked out).


I've woken up frazzled and frayed, made so by a relentless wind. A wind that kept us awake most of the night. It started late in the evening and hasn't let up, not even at the dawn.
The gusts beat at the windows and they make the wind chime clang relentlessly. I now hate the sound of the Pemaquid Buoy.

It sounds like a locomotive as it roars through the trees and the pines near the driveway sway and bend viciously with each gust. Pine needles and small branches litter the driveway and yard, making the snow look dirty and tired and old. When they hit the windows, they remind me of zombie fingers, tapping to be let in. Every so often a particularly viscious gust slaps the side of the house like a wave crashing over a breakwater. It is relentless.

Our thermometer reads -3. The wind chill is -23. It is March 6. There is no precipitation with this system, just sun and blue sky and a cold, cold wind. It's been a long winter.

A cup of coffee might de-fray and unfrazzle me, but I rather doubt that. It might be a day for pulling covers back over the head, with earbuds in and volume turned to high.
Grrr. Did I already say that?

Monday, March 5, 2007

Today In History

On March 5th 1673, Virginia enacted the first temperance law.
On March 5th 1770, five men were shot to death in Boston town by British soldiers. Precipitating the event known as the Boston Massacre was a mob of men and boys taunting a sentry standing guard at the city's customs house. When other British soldiers came to the sentry's support, a free-for-all ensued and shots were fired into the crowd.

On March 5th, 1963 Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas and Hankshaw Hawkins were killed in a plane crash at Camden, TN, near Nashville. The famous country music stars were returning from a benefit performance. Cline, the ‘Queen of Country Music’ was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973. Jessica Lange played Patsy in the 1985 biographical film, Sweet Dreams, named after one of Cline’s hugely popular songs. Willie Nelson wrote her biggest hit, Crazy, which become a number one country hit and a top 10 pop song in November, 1961.

Also on March 5th 1963, the hoola hoop was patented and the Reverend Dr. and his wife gave birth to their first child, a girl weighing 4 lbs 14 oz.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Warm Winters And Sugaring Don't Mix

We need look no further for proof of global warming. If a skeptical Yankee can be convinced, it must be true:

“You might be tempted to say, well that’s a bunch of baloney — global warming,” said Mr. Morse, drilling his first tap holes this season in mid-February, as snow hugged the maples and Vermont braced for a record snowfall. “But the way I feel, we get too much warm. How many winters are we going to go with Decembers turning into short-sleeve weather, before the maple trees say, ‘I don’t like it here any more?’

Seriously, the quote is taken from a New York Times article on how changing seasonal conditions are affecting the sugaring industry, and it doesn't look good:
“It appears to be a rather dire situation for the maple industry in the Northeast if conditions continue to go toward the predictions that have been made for global warming,” said Tim Perkins, director of the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont.
“In the ’50s and ’60s, 80 percent of world’s maple syrup came from the U.S., and 20 percent came from Canada,” said Barrett N. Rock, a professor of natural resources at the University of New Hampshire. “Today it’s exactly the opposite. The climate that we used to have here in New England has moved north to the point where it’s now in Quebec.”

And, it's those sugar maples that produce the fall foliage, so global warming could wipe out two of Vermont and Maine's biggest money makers.

Ut Oh.

It seems that the State of Maine has really ticked off one guy in the State of CT, and he'd like you to join him in a boycott of the state.
(Clearly he doesn't know that many of the folks here would be fine with that.)

Maine lawmakers were the first to pass an objection to the real ID program and more than 10 states have followed Maine's lead. The concern with real ID is that it's an invasion of privacy for law-abinding folks:

Maine lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a resolution objecting to the Real ID Act on Jan. 26. Since then, more than a dozen states have passed similar resolutions.

Homeland Security backed off the plan Thursday, giving states an additional 18 months to comply, extending the deadline to December 2009.

Gadiel said he's only focusing on Maine, however.

"You have to pick one state, and none have been as radical as Maine has," he said.

Three of the Sept. 11 hijackers made their connection through the Portland International Jetport, he said.

"You people in Maine ought to be ashamed of yourselves," Gadiel said. "Look at your representatives in Congress - Tom Allen is pretty much a captive of the open borders lobby anyway. That's why he's supported bills to repeal it."

Gadiel's son was killed in the 9/11 attacks and since then has become a homeland security activist.

I'm on Gadiel's side on this one, as I'm all for any measure that will make another terrorist attack more difficult and I'm also for any measure that will keep those dreaded baby blue CT license plates out of Maine.

Friday, March 2, 2007


Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire community of Bluffton and the Bluffton University family.
Bluffton University is a small Mennonite college in northwestern Ohio and a number of my friends graduated from there, including two close friends who played baseball for the school. The news this morning was unspeakable and horrible.

It's Snowing York. It is not snowing in San Diego.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Quick Reactions and A Fast Throttle

Did you know that snowmobiles float? Well, they do when they travel over open water at 80 mph.
The practice is called skimming and it's illegal in Maine, excepting when it's your only choice:

Huntley said he was traveling about 40 mph when he spotted open water ahead. He figured he was already on thin ice and would sink if he stopped. So he gunned the throttle, hitting the water at 80 mph.
(HT to Emma for the story).

The Church and State Question

I've moved this back to the top of the blog, due to its importance, and added some links. No matter your faith or in this case your right to be an atheist if you so choose, you've got a stake in this ruling.

You know those guys that Newsweek called the King Makers? (that would be Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson)? All three are dominionists, meaning they believe the United States is destined to be a Christian nation, a theocracy if you will, and anyone who does not fall into their narrow view of what a Christian is will be destined to a more subordinate role in society (kind of the same role they put women into in their churches and families).
this ruling brings them one step closer to that theocracy. And all three are lobbying their constituency especially hard to have this ruling over-turned. The fact that these three are for it, should make any rational person strongly against it.

From today's New York Times Editorial

The Supreme Court hears arguments today in a case that could have a broad impact on whether the courthouse door remains open to ordinary Americans who believe that the government is undermining the separation of church and state.

The question before the court is whether a group seeking to preserve the separation of church and state can mount a First Amendment challenge to the Bush administration’s “faith based” initiatives. The arguments turn on a technical question of whether taxpayers have standing, or the right to initiate this kind of suit, but the real-world implications are serious. If the court rules that the group does not have standing, it will be much harder to stop government from giving unconstitutional aid to religion.

Under the Bush administration, federal grants to religious organizations have increased 38% and faith-based intitiatives are providing everything from sex education (generally abstinence based) to food for the poor.

As the child of a preacher man, I believe that church groups can do many things better than federal programs can, but I object strongly to federal dollars being used to fund programs that can discriminate based upon religious preference. And faith-based groups are discriminating based upon religion.

This means that if you're not an Evangelical Christian, your own tax money actually funds a program where you can be denied employment for which you are qualified. These groups can't discriminate based upon color, but they can and do discriminate based on religion. Which is fine-- as long as they aren't taking Federal money.

The Bush Administration has done serious damage to the wall that separates church and state. Hopefully, this ruling will provide a way for Americans to challenge this slide toward a theocracy.

3/1 UPDATE: Americans United, an organization headed by the Rev. Barry Lynn, reports on the hearing yesterday.
Slate's take on yesterday's hearing. Most chilling quote from this wry essay?
"When most of the justices are treating the key precedent as a punch line, it's a good clue they are preparing to pull the plug."
Findlaw has the legalese take on this.
Crosswalk reports that "humanists and atheists" gathered.......
Jay Sekulow, regarded by many as the Christian Right's finest legal mind weighs in.

Red Cross Needs Your Help

In the past 14 days, there have been 12 fires in York and Cumberland Counties that the Red Cross have responded to. They have helped 23 people in that time. Now, they need help.
Winters are always busy times for the disaster relief teams of the Red Cross, but Director Shawna Chigro-Rogers says this winter has been exceptionaly busy.

Since the beginning of the year, the American Red Cross of Southern Maine has gone to 23 fires and helped 211 people. That has cost the agency $11,500.

"We really need financial support for the expenses that have been put into servicing our clients in those areas," said Chigro-Rogers.

Donations can be made to:
American Red Cross of Southern Maine
2401 Congress St.
Portland, ME 04102


After 12 hours of travel, I'm now less than two miles from these cool cats. But I haven't left the continental United States.

While making a connection, we were delayed for two hours in a raging snow storm. According to my body clock, it was 2 am and the blowing snow juxtaposed with the clam diggers, flip flops and deep tans most passengers were wearing made me pinch myself once or twice. I fell into bed at the hotel at just about the time I should be getting up.

At home, just as we're spotting robins listening for earthworms (on that small patch of grass not still covered by snow) and chipmunks foraging in the woodpile, Retired Guy is preparing for a snowstorm of 6-8 inches. By the time I return home on Sunday morning, temperatures will be in the 40's.

Oh, I'm here. Connection was here.
My internet connection is being provided from here. Now that's completely surreal.