2013 Booklist

Another year, another 32 books.

Another year, another 32 books.

There was a public service campaign using the acronym, RIF; Reading Is Fundamental. The purpose of that effort was to promote reading, especially among poor children. I remember seeing their public service announcements on television, most likely during the 1970s.

Reading was a central components of my own reinvention. It was reading, and books like Gregg LeVoy’s, Po Bronson’s, and Scott Peck’s that got me up and out of my corporate prison at Moscow Mutual. If I wasn’t a reader, I’d still be stuck, probably not there, but someplace just like it, if not worse. Continue reading

Push-button People

We all want life to be easy. After nearly 70 years of unbridled progress and the concept of convenience being considered an American birthright, it’s hard for anyone to adjust to events that vary from the perfect script.

How does a culture step back from snack foods packaged in single-serving containers, microwave ovens, and phone apps that do everything except shield us from natural disasters? No one wants to voluntarily go back to a time when life was hard and involved effort to survive. But does our learned helplessness bode well for the future? Continue reading

Winter Is

Winter, or winter solstice, arrived Saturday, at local noon. Winter means different things to different people, depending on their latitudinal positioning.

My own experience with winter has been molded and shaped by half a century of living in a northern climate, especially growing up prior to our current weather state of flux. Because of this, II tend to view winter through a prism of cold, snow, and ice. Continue reading

Getting Hacked at Christmas

Another retailer, another security breach. This one involving 40 million shoppers at Target stores in the U.S. For many, the stress of holiday shopping is now through the roof.

While many are choosing to direct their anger and frustration at Target, they shouldn’t; the 2nd largest retail discount chain is doing everything it can after the fact to address concerns from customers.

Getting targeted by hackers, at Target

Getting targeted by hackers, at Target

The Minneapolis company, which has 1,797 stores in the U.S. and 124 in Canada, said it immediately told authorities and financial institutions once it became aware of the breach on Dec. 15. The company is teaming with a third-party forensics firm to investigate and prevent future breaches.

Target advised customers on Thursday to check their statements carefully. Anyone noting a suspicious charges on a credit/debit card is told to report it to their credit card company and then to call Target at 866-852-8680. Cases of identity theft can also be reported to law enforcement or the Federal Trade Commission. Of course, this is after the fact.

What I found most interesting about this case is how often this actually happens and what appears to be the response in the retail world among so-called experts. Continue reading

The Great Maine Winter of 2013-14

Winter in the Northeast used to be a period of cold and snow that lasted from late November through most of March. Some of the snowiest winters were recorded during my youth, including the winter of 1971-72 (I turned 10 in January that year), the one that brought us 141.4 inches!

Chairs in the snow-winterIt’s nostalgic to talk about “the winters we used to have.” Using Portland as the baseline, the city on Casco Bay averages 71 inches of snow each year. There were several winters during my pre-teenage years when the average was well above that amount. Continue reading

Getting Closer

I admire people who complete projects. Completion is much harder than it appears from the outside. This is coming from someone who had to learn how to finish, one tentative step at a time. Later, I learned how to combine these steps and began hitting some major deadlines. Reaching and crossing the finish line, while never easy, is now something that happens regularly for me.

Books are tools that I think more people should commit to writing. If you are someone who is a thought leader, or who has some ideas that others have demonstrated an interest in, then you are a prime candidate for authoring a book. I’ve indicated that books are much better than business cards—everyone has a business card—not many people have a book. Commit to getting yourself into the latter category.  It’s empowering for one thing. It’s also another way to differentiate what you do from everyone else doing similar things. Continue reading

Dirty Little Secret

For as long as Miss Mary and I have been married (32 years this summer!!), we’ve had a television-based guilty pleasure. Actually, we didn’t have a Tee Vee for our first four years of marriage.

Once we got one, we usually found a television drama that captured our attention once a week, often for several seasons. A few of the past ones were St. Elsewhere, Thirty Something, Homicide: Life on the Street, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and The Wire. Continue reading

Tackling Plumbing


There are two things I dread as a homeowner; electrical and plumbing issues. I don’t like the thought of “zapping” myself; the mere thought of water cascading across the floor, or spouting from busted pipes makes my stomach churn.

A week before Thanksgiving, our toilets began “gurgling.” Without being too graphic, there’s nothing worse than toilets not flushing efficiently and as they were designed to. With visitors anticipated, I needed a plumber, pronto.  Of course, the week before a holiday is never a good time to find someone with plumbing skills; in fact, there’s never a good time to find a plumber  (or an electrician) to address a quasi-emergency. Continue reading