Explore! New Gloucester-Bonus Material

In May, I began contributing to the Sun-Journal’s Explore! feature in their Sunday b-Section. I pick a town and explore it with fresh eyes. Last month I visited Wilton, and for June, I was nosing around in New Gloucester.

I had a bit of bonus content last month about a giant and a naked man in the wilderness that I tied in to the print piece. This month, with Moxie deadlines looming, a new book just off to the printer, plus a few other irons in the fire, I wasn’t intending to post bonus material. However, since Pineland Farms is in New Gloucester, and is mentioned in today’s feature, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share just a bit about Pineland’s past, my own ties to it, and the unique destination it’s become. Plus, I’m a writer and a blogger, and I can’t help myself.

The entrance to Pineland off Route 231.

The entrance to Pineland off Route 231.

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When Weeks Become Months

Last fall I taught a class called Let’s Write That Book: 8 Weeks to Writing and Publishing Your First Book for Lewiston Adult Education. It was my favorite class of all of the ones I’ve taught in the four years I’ve been teaching writing to adult learners.

I didn’t really believe you could write a book in mere weeks, but I wanted a class that was different than the previous narrative nonfiction classes I’d taught—one with a provocative orientation. It obviously worked because we filled the class and ended up with a waiting list.

The class was beneficial for me, as it lit a fire under my own ass and got me motivated to get a fourth book rolling forward. It was also the best group of writers I’d gathered for any of my various classes. Continue reading

Some Fans Are Better Than Others

Umpiring is more demanding than most people realize. I’ve umpired before, the last time being 2002, yet I don’t remember having to run as much as I have when working the bases in a two-man system, which is what most amateur leagues employ (as well as lower-level pro leagues, too). The plate is an entirely different and demanding experience.

After working back-to-back doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday, I was back behind the plate last night. My lower back, calves, and hamstrings are tight this morning, and I’ll be out there again tonight, my seventh game in the last five days. Continue reading


Deadlines drag us from the idolatry of ideas, forcing us to produce, and then ship. It’s the best cure for paralysis emanating from over-analysis.

At the JBE, I’ve self-imposed deadlines in order to force the issue and keep fresh content coming. Not all the content is award-winning, or apparently, even enticing to people who’ve visited the site in the past. That’s ok—I’m going to keep on keeping on, robust blog stats or not.

As for deadlines, I’m now facing other types, the ones that come from making successful pitches to editors and having them tell me when they want my article, and how many words I get to tell my story. I especially like those kinds of deadlines because they also come with dollar signs attached. There wouldn’t be these new opportunities if not for my diligence in keeping my blogging storefront up-to-date and current. Continue reading

Perpetual War

I’m reading a biography of Howard Zinn. I picked it up at the Maine State Library, my bi-weekly way station where I gather books and do research for whatever article I’m writing, or thinking about writing.

Zinn, who left us with one of the best quotes about the inanity of the ideology that fuels America’s never-ending need for war and killing that I’ve ever run across, said that “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” Continue reading

Solutions Trump Systems

How do we get things done? If our vaunted systems are in various stages of failure and even collapse, then it’s time we found a new way or perhaps, considered some of the old ways that are tested and true, but somehow, we’ve forgotten them—mainly because they aren’t sexy and don’t require a Ph.D. to implement. Sometimes I call it looking “back to the future.”

If we’ve reached the outer limits of growth—and I believe that we have—then what is our way forward? Economic development and a growth at all costs mentality will only take you so far. Look around at the great unwinding of the past 40 years and know that we haven’t been able to grow our way out of our troubles. Continue reading

Slowing Down the Aging Process

Becoming a triathlete was a positive step for me. I was simply following my wife’s lead. Mary launched a brand new fitness/exercise chapter in her own life, five years ago, when a group of co-workers competed in the Pirate Tri that year at Point Sebago.

Two years ago, she began training with a group of women called sheJAMs. I can say that this has changed her life in a positive way.

Last year, because I decided to stop making excuses, I became a swimmer, long after old dogs learn new tricks. Swimming is something I have come to appreciate and even enjoy. It’s a fitness activity I should be able do for the rest of my life that’s also good for me.

My first Pirate Tri in 2013 was just about finishing. This year, I was hoping to improve on my time. Continue reading

Candy Man

In the realm of iconic American products, M&M’S is right there at the top, maybe next to Moxie (not!!). Seriously though, if you’ve ever been into candy, you’ve probably gone through an M&M’S phase. Is there anything better than a peanut M&M?

NPR, that bastion of journalistic integrity and investigative grit was digging deep this morning, when it provided an in-depth piece on why the bag of peanut butter M&M’S is lighter by a fraction than the bag of plain M&M’S. Inquiring minds were waiting for dirt on this one.

An iconic American candy product.

An iconic American candy product.

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Throw the Ball!

As we cross the seasons of life, we make observations on our journey. The longer we live, the more experience we bring to the table. Sometimes our observations become nostalgic longing for the “better days” of the past. Other times, our assessments indicate that a structural shift of some kind has taken place.

I get to watch a good deal of baseball these days. I am a baseball umpire, after all.

In this age where quantification is king, my qualitative assessments about baseball skill may not impress members of the scientific crowd—the research types. However, it has been clear to me during the 13 games that I’ve officiated, from middle school, up through junior varsity that today’s players don’t throw as well as similar age groups in the past. Continue reading