It was a dark and stormy night…

Hurricane Sandy on a weather map

Nothing creates fear and even hysteria like weather-related news of impending disaster.  If there’s an approaching hurricane, especially with predictions of high winds and water aimed at the Northeastern population corridor, then you can be sure that the media will be in operation for days in advance, squeezing every opportunity to maximize viewership pre, during, and post weather event. Fear is an attractive tool to use. Sometimes fear is even used as an element of control. Continue reading

The streak continues: Boston Book Fest 2012

The BBF 2012 info station.

Living in Maine, even near one of the great “small” cities in the United States, Portland, makes a trip to Boston special. I say special because for me, cities have always signified wonder. I marvel at the activity—the hustle and the bustle—not to mention the energy, sights, sounds, and the smells that are remarkably different than rural places.

Attending the Boston Book Festival (BBF) has become a tradition for me. There is a protocol that’s developed. I’ll detail some of it below. BBF has become something that my son and I take in together. We have done so since the inaugural event in 2009. Continue reading

Make your milk MOO

Poster for “Betting the Farm” at Fort Andross

Dairy farming has deep roots in Maine. A few years ago, prior to landing on Moxie as my subject, I contemplated a book about the demise of farming in Maine. That book never got off the ground, but I was struck by some of the numbers and how farming has fallen out of favor in most parts of the state, as well as the rest of country.

Producing milk is one of the leading agricultural activities in the United States. Like other forms of agriculture, science has increased productivity and yields. The number of cows milked, as well as the number of actual farms has been steadily declining since 1970. Former pasture land has been turned into house lots. Continue reading

Disability Mentoring Day 2012

Denise Smith delivers “Social Media & Your Job Search” at DMD 2012.

Readers following my blogging for the past few years know that I’m a passionate advocate for workforce development. That passion was kindled back in August, 2006. That’s when I accepted a position with the Central/Western Maine Workforce Investment Board.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. At the end of June, I was laid off. I wasn’t sure where I’d end up and whether I’d be able to continue in the realm of workforce development or in some other capacity where I could leverage what I’d learned over the past six years. Continue reading

Getting our stack on










My grandfather never went to the gym in his life. When he’d see some high school age runner passing his house, training for their upcoming sport season, or maybe just out for a fitness run, he’d say, “they don’t have enough work to do.” For my grandfather, work never had an off-season.

Despite Opa’s views on work and sports, my uncles all played sports and several of them, including my Uncle Bob, were quite gifted. My Uncle Rhinie played for the vaunted semi-pro Worumbo Indians and in the Army, he was talented enough to play at a level where he caught Rex Barney and was a teammate of former National League batting champ, Harry Walker during WWII.

Wood and the cutting, splitting, and burning of it has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I spent time in the woods working alongside my Opa, my father, and my uncle, beginning at a very young age. Continue reading

Snapshot of a journey








Personal growth requires frequent self-assessment. You need to know where you are, and maybe more important, where you’ve come from, if you harbor hope of arriving at the next point on the horizon.

This week 10 years ago would have knocked me for a loop. High-stress, coupled with multiple, complex priorities—made more difficult from lack of sleep, as well as a huge change in my normal daily routines, would have triggered all manner of negative behaviors. Continue reading

Zumba on parade

Too bad Americans are so easily diverted. Right now, it’s “silly season,” the period every four years when people take leave of their senses over a couple of issues and reveal their utter lack of understanding about the state of America, let alone their ignorance about our political system and how there’s so little difference between either candidate. Note the “breadth” of the topics touched on tonight.

Actually, most Americans don’t care at all about what happens in Washington. Politics has been handed over to the wealthiest, who decry current tax rates that are the lowest they’ve been in 70 years. In the land of the free, money talks and when you have money like the Koch Brothers, you can drive almost any debate. If you have been paying attention to the tea leaves, you know the train’s left the station, at least for this four-year cycle. Continue reading

Mowing, thinking, tweeting, blogging

The Toro 22″ Recycler–a lawn-mowing machine.

Mowing my lawn allows me two hours of uninterrupted thinking time. Often, I’ve developed and framed ideas that eventually became blog posts, like this one.

Yesterday afternoon, with the late afternoon fall shadows casting and covering most of my two-acre lawn, I was contemplating Twitter (of all things) while pushing and cajoling my Toro 22” Recycler around my grassy knoll. I was also hoping that this would be one of the last times I have to do this ‘til the spring, especially anticipating the forecasted, first hard frost that evening. Mainly, I was pondering why Twitter still seems so unfathomable for people that consider themselves social media savvy, mainly because they maintain a Facebook page. Continue reading

The aging workforce and disability

My background in workforce development makes me take the larger or holistic (a term I like to use) view about our workforce. Last week’s USBLN conference in Orlando was informative and I came away with a better understanding of the specifics of employment and other initiatives for people with disabilities. However, it was still important for me to come away with some “big picture” takeaways from the conference.

The issue of an aging workforce in America is a significant one. Interestingly, this doesn’t get talked about by the two candidates for president. Workforce issues have been airbrushed from the national debate, like many other important topics. Continue reading

Conferences come to an end

It’s hard to believe four days have gone by so fast. USBLN 2012 is now officially in the books.

As a BLN rookie, I didn’t know what to expect. My first thought when I found out shortly after being hired in August that I was going to a national conference was, “why Orlando?” I should have known not to be overly critical before arriving. Continue reading