Another Chapter of Swim, Bike, Run

This is post-triathlon Monday for the Baumers of Old Orchard Beach (our temporary residence for at least one more day). I’m waking up pretty sore, especially in my quads and calves. Mrs. B is still asleep. I’m not going to wake her because she’s earned the right to sleep-in today.

My wife Mary—the reason that I do these crazy, swim, bike, run successions—shaved 22 minutes off her previous Olympic-length triathlon results, back in 2012, the last time she competed in that particular length race. Last year she tackled the half and the year before that, we were Team Baumer, completing that year’s Rev3 as a family unit of me, Mary, and Mark. I was also weeks from a collapsed lung.

Miss Mary was up to the Challenge (Maine).

Miss Mary was up to the Challenge (Maine).

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Life’s Lesson Plan

This has been an interesting week. No two days were the same. Come to think of it, the routine and boredom that were part and parcel of the days occupying a seat in a cubicle farm are long gone. I also don’t miss working for people I couldn’t stand.

That’s not to say that life always comes up roses in the free agent economy. August began with a great deal of optimism and the herald that things were trending in the right direction. Then, a major car repair on Tuesday chewed up a week’s worth of income and I was reminded once again that life (at least the life of a freelancer) is always going to present a bumpy ride now and then.

This is what I tweeted on Tuesday.

A successful #freelancer becomes comfortable with ambiguity, is able to juggle/prioritize, remaining the same during feast/famine.

I felt like I captured 2015 from my perspective in less than 140 characters. Twitter-rific! Continue reading

Exit Summer

Summer is fading. In some ways, it seems as though summer, at least the ones I remember as a kid—never arrived. You know the ones—full of friends, adventures—seemingly endless in duration.

I can always tell when summer begins getting antsy, commencing packing up the cottage,readying to return to wherever she goes until the following year in late May and early June. That’s when she’ll return for a few short visits, tidying up the seasonal digs, before arriving in glory in July. Then, if lucky, summer has a solid 6-8 week run, offering endless options and bliss.

With the release of another Farmers’ Almanac, local news directors all trotted out stock images and file video reminding us of last year’s snowy winter. If local TV news is anything, it is predictable. That was the big story for Monday. Continue reading

Anchors Away

Americans as a group don’t really know their history or their heritage. Ask them who one of the Founding Fathers were and they might tell you, Mark Zuckerberg. He may as well be because Facebook now serves as the nation’s media channel.

Nowhere is our American lack of awareness about who we are more obvious than when we start talking about the Constitution. I doubt few would know more than one or two of the constitutional amendments, and what they relate to. Most would probably get the First Amendment—freedom of speech. Maybe the Second, and guns—actually, it’s “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms…”

Get beyond the second one and it’s the Wild, Wild West, however.

Take the 14th Amendment. That’s the one that addresses many aspects of citizenship and the rights of citizens. Section 1 of the amendment reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the state wherein they reside.” Continue reading

Late Summer Baseball

If you are still following Boston’s baseball team, the Red Sox, you are well aware that the odds of a post season this year are slim to none. In a town that’s grown entitled to having their professional sports teams play meaningful games late into their respective seasons, losing becomes a hard pill to swallow. Nowhere is this more prevalent than with the members of Red Sox Nation.

Winning a World Series in 2004, again in 2007, and then the improbable championship run in 2013 has only heightened expectations among its fan base. However, when you look at the reality of baseball played in places like Cleveland, Arlington, and San Diego, the carping about Ben Cherington and Red Sox ownership on sports talk radio ought to cease. It won’t, but winning championships nearly every season isn’t the norm—except perhaps if you are a follower of one particular franchise whose players are adorned in black pin stripes—a club with 40 World Series appearances. Dare I utter “the New York Yankees” in these parts? Continue reading

Seniors and Technology

Google (and the U.S. Census) tells us that Maine is the oldest state in the nation. Our demographics aren’t working in our favor. Our senior population continues growing, unabated. So, what to do about it? Short of having more babies, there’s not much we can do.

Being part of a planning grant addressing seniors remaining in their homes in rural Maine, and now, employed visiting seniors a few times each week, I’ve continued to stay interested in the issue.

Of course, like just about every other problem or issue that’s raised in America, can you guess what the solution being proposed is for our aging population? Technology, of course. Because we know that technology solves every problem and makes our lives better and more enriching. {sarcasm}

Seniors prefer less technology, thank you!

Seniors prefer less technology, thank you!

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A Barrel of Monkeys

The political world is framed by surveys and polling data. You’ll hear that Candidate X is up in the polls by X percent. Or Candidate Y’s lead is “within the margin of error.” These are terms that anyone following political news, even in the most superficial manner, is familiar with.  Sometimes I think quantification is the American religion.

After last Thursday’s Fox News/Facebook debate, the one where Megan Kelly ended up “stealing the show,” and upstaging The Donald, a survey came out that made me sit up and take notice. Not because of the data, no, but given the source.

Don't end up in her cross hairs.

Don’t end up in her cross hairs.

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Too Much Talk

So last night we had our first presidential debate of the 2016 campaign. This one featured only 10 of the large Republican field of contenders, or pseudo-contenders. Maybe the biggest accomplishment of Fox News (the debate’s host) was winnowing the Republican field of 64 (actually, there are only 17 “serious” candidates at this point) down to a workable number—even that is debatable.

No doubt I could spend Friday’s blog post space devoted to politics. But really folks, isn’t an August debate a full 15 months out from that fateful day in November when we choose someone else to lead us, a little premature? I know the driveby media at the NY Times and Washington Post have done a great job whipping up enthusiasm for the horserace, yet again. But like they always do, it’s more about the race, or a sentence taken out of context, than the actual issues facing ordinary Americans. And with politicians, you always have to take what they say with a grain of salt. Continue reading

Making Maine Self-Sufficient

I have been advocating for local economic development for as long as I’ve been blogging, dating back more than a decade. If Maine has any hope of creating resilience that might weather potentially stormy economic seas, it’s going to come via locals and local hubs of economic activity.

One of the state’s best sources of resilience is our local food economy. I’m not talking “foodie” ventures here, although I’m not opposed to high-end and trendy restaurants doing well, especially if they source from local farmers. But local food doesn’t have to be a high-end and pricey option for the elites, either.

"Growing Your Own Food is Like Printing Your Own Money."

“Growing Your Own Food is Like Printing Your Own Money.”

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