Cheap Meat

True believers are a dangerous lot. Not dangerous in the sense that they’ll physically hurt, or inflict something worse on you—dangerous in that they think they are the only ones with a direct line to the source of truth.

Their unwavering belief in their cause—whatever that cause might be–renders them incapable of considering alternative viewpoints, or being able to empathize with how others frame the same issue with equal fervor.  While belief of this type is often directed towards deities and religious systems, more and more this same kind of rote call and response is found in most of the debates about issues from gay rights to gun control. Ultimately, people just end up talking past one another. Continue reading

Time for Food

Real food takes time. Time to grow it. Time for the harvesting, or the fattening of livestock for those who don’t have an opposition to locally-grown meat.

Since convenience foods have come to predominate the American diet, the home cooked meal has become an endangered species. Families no longer commune around food, instead, everyone fends for themselves. If you have older children, think about the last time you had a family meal that wasn’t a special occasion, but just a normal weeknight. Continue reading

Limiting the Conversation

Life in the 21st century is complicated. Everything seems to be moving at a faster and faster rate. We are bombarded with information, people are working longer and longer hours, and essential systems seem to be crumbling simultaneously, or if they aren’t crumbling, they’re being patched together with the equivalent of bailing wire and bubble gum. Continue reading

Stop Giving it Away

What do various professionals make per hour? Would you expect your lawyer or doctor to offer their skills for free, or next to nothing? Of course not. Yet many clients think writers should give their work away.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for lawyers in 2012 was $62.93. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned $26.11 per hour. At the 75th percentile level, the hourly rate was $80.77. The top-paid 10 percent earned at least $90 per hour. The BLS noted that self-employed lawyers typically earned less than law firm partners. Continue reading

Looking Homeward

"Can't we all just get along?"

“Can’t we all just get along?”

I’ve been married to the same woman for 31 going on 32 years. Long-term relationships don’t just happen—they require constant vigilance.

For the past six months, I’ve detected relationship drift. A set of patterns were developing and I realized it was time for some honest talk. An article about marriage caught my eye. I wanted to discuss it with the one who has been my best friend for the past three decades. Continue reading

Losing Scott Miller

I’m sure much of my prattling on about music and my own music listening history seems irrelevant to most of those that stumble across the JBE. I really don’t know why that is.

At Lisbon High School, my friends and I all had tastes that ran counter to the Molly Hatchett, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eddie Money, and Meatloaf that most of our classmates were listening to. At the time, this difference and separation was a badge of superiority that we wore prominently. Now, I realize that musical tastes, much like food, are subjective. Continue reading

Birds and the Natural World

A few weeks ago, in this bleak winter of 2013-2014, the birds returned. I was out gathering some wood to keep my wood stove fed and the temperature in the house tolerable, when I heard them chirping, or better, making the “dee, dee, dee” verbalization characteristic of chickadees. I’m not a birder by nature, but this was a welcome sound.

A chickadee perched on my DIY feeder.

A chickadee perched on my DIY feeder.

Deciding that my newly-arrived guests might be hungry due to the tough winter, I made a note to pick up bird seed on a trip through Lewiston later in the day. Remembering a prior attempt with birds and feeders 20 years ago–the squirrels made short work of them, chewing through almost anything made of plastic–I decided on DIY feeders, reconstituted from used Poland Spring Water jugs. Continue reading

Selling Cookies

Being able to sell is important.

Being able to sell is important.

It’s been a while since I posted on an “off” day (an “off” day, in case you haven’t noticed is any day that’s not labeled Tuesday or Friday).

I just got to Seth Godin’s Wednesday blog post on Girl Scout cookies. I wanted to weigh-in because what he wrote was that important and resonated with me.

The lesson of his blog post was universal (don’t ask “no” questions, especially in sales), but he picked something that most everyone was familiar with—selling Girl Scout cookies. Good God! Who doesn’t like Girl Scout cookies? Continue reading

Going West

I’ll be headed west again today, driving into Maine’s western mountains. It’s a beautiful drive, and the snow-capped mountains of the region always seem to be beckoning me toward them.

The drive, usually up Route 4, is a long one and I like to stop off in Farmington because that’s about half way for me. Farmington is the big town in Franklin County and as such, has the most of almost everything related to commerce. Continue reading