Stopping for School Buses

This means stop.

This means stop.

Let’s begin this week’s Friday blogging exercise with a little traffic safety review for you drivers. According to Maine Revised Statutes for Motor Vehicles, under Title 29-A,  §2308: Overtaking and passing school buses, it reads as follows:

  1. Stopping. The operator of a vehicle on a way, in a parking area or on school property, on meeting or overtaking a school bus from either direction when the bus has stopped with its red lights flashing to receive or discharge passengers, shall stop the vehicle before reaching the school bus. The operator may not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or until signaled by the school bus operator to proceed.
  1. Penalty. A violation of this section is a Class E crime which, notwithstanding Title 17-A, section 1301, is punishable by a $250 minimum fine for the first offense and a mandatory 30-day suspension of a driver’s license for a 2nd offense occurring within 3 years of the first offense.

 Most of you are probably wondering, “why is Jim turning the JBE into a blog on traffic safety and rules of the road?” What? Did you not see the WMTW-8 report by Katie Thompson, on idiot drivers passing stopped school buses in Cumberland? I guess those high-end, tony suburbs aren’t attracting civic-minded types any longer. No, just rich schmucks with “get the hell out of my way” attitudes that are always riding up on my ass when I’m simply driving the speed limit on rural backroads like Route 9, coming back from points south and headed back to the compound in Durham. Continue reading

Richness follows Loss

I know that not everyone who reads the blog is a writer, or aspires toward the writing life. However, over the past few weeks, a window of reflection has opened, looking backwards. What I’ve been able to see with uncommon clarity, has been much of the past decade or more for me. Writing has been at the center of this period of time, what I characterize as my personal period of reinvention.

Life dictates that we move on from grief and loss. Outside of the death of immediate family members—and even then, superficiality predominates how others respond, with platitudes, or worse—clearly demonstrating some sort of structural disconnect and a deep-rooted denial related to death and dying in our culture. “Get over it and move on” is what we’re expected to do.

Over the weekend, I went through some of Bryant’s books. A demonstration of grace from his son, when he offered me the opportunity to go through his father’s collection of books, at the funeral service. He followed up with an email and we spoke by phone during the week. I planned to meet him on Saturday at his father’s apartment in Augusta.

Bryant had taught at Colby-Sawyer, with Wes McNair. There were several of McNair’s books sitting on his bookshelves. Most of them ended up in the two overstocked boxes I lugged out of the apartment and put in my trunk. Continue reading

Acting Human

Humans require interaction. Some have posited that our need to connect is as necessary as food and water. It’s how we’re wired. Isn’t it odd how so much of our socialization now occurs in the digital realm, rather than face-to-face?

Technology always gets offered up as a worthy surrogate. Facebook has become the default portal where all of our so-called humanness gets played out—touch, taste, success, beliefs, even end-of-life drama. This has become our new “normal.”

Maybe social media and our lack of time spent in the presence of other humans signifies some higher order evolution. I’m guessing that it doesn’t, since studies indicate there are more lonely Americans than ever before.

Staring at a screen isn't human interaction.

Staring at a screen isn’t human interaction.

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Paying My Respects

In 2013, a friend passed away before he and I were able to schedule one final visit. He was a man I had come to consider a mentor, as well as a friend.

He had given advanced warning that his time was winding down—he’d been diagnosed with cancer—and had urged me not to “wait too long.” Foolishly, I treated him like another appointment on my calendar and when I found out he had died and I’d even missed the celebration of his life, I felt like a total heel.

The post I wrote honoring him back in April, 2013, touched on some of these things, but really didn’t do his life and influence justice. Rarely is it possible to perfectly capture one’s life in a blog narrative. So why do it?

Writers write, and often, we process through our craft. Continue reading

Hold the Bacon

Bacon is popular. How popular you ask? Well, Americans eat nearly 18 pounds of it, yearly. Our English brethren, the Brits, consume an equal amount each year. Supposedly, bacon is addictive because it contains six types of umami, which produces an addictive neurochemical response.

Don’t tell that to President Obama. He’s made a point of denying bacon to all prisoners locked up in federal prison facilities. Does our brilliant president not realize that he’s going to cause a whole lot of jonesing in federal jails?

Actually, the feds have removed bacon, along with pork chops and ham, along with all other pig products from menus at 122 federal prisons. That means the nation’s 206,000 federal inmates won’t be tasting savory bacon until they’re back on the streets. Continue reading

Hold Onto Your Cars

Lies and propaganda are unleashed on a regular basis. Sometimes, it seems nearly impossible to know what to believe anymore. One whopper being touted by someone (environmentalists?) is that Millennials don’t drive cars.

There have been a number of articles that indicate that Generation Y are not embracing automobiles like previous demographic groups, especially the Baby Boomers, who cut their teeth riding around in the backseat of gas guzzling behemoths built in Detroit. Some of this may just be wishful thinking. Progressives are notorious for this. That and demanding one thing for you, and another for them. But that’s another blog post for another day.

Since August, I’ve been writing articles on cars for a trade magazine group out of Dallas, Texas. It started with a book review, and moved on from there. I enjoy the work, and as a result, I’m paying closer attention to what’s going on in the automotive world. Continue reading

Face Time is Happy Time

Not sure when it happened, but we’ve all been sold a bill of goods. The people in charge (aka, TPTB) know that united we stand, and divided, we fall. Well, maybe not divided so much, as simply no longer personally connected. Social media doesn’t count. Want to know why?

First, let me state that there is this idea moving towards meme status that the hivemind has accepted that says that “Facebook is great for connecting.” Here’s my thoughts on that—“poppycock!” And I’ve actually got some research to back me up. And what is that research, pray tell?

Well, studies have been done with subjects, aged 50 and up. Apparently, face-to-face interaction (as opposed to Facebooking) is more apt to ward off depression. Very interesting, indeed.

Face-to-face trumps Facebook.

Face-to-face trumps Facebook.

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On the Base

The closure of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS) was a long, drawn-out affair.  Like most impending events that you eventually find out were inevitable, this was another one that elicited hand-wringing, predictions of doom and gloom—not to mention—certain economic devastation. Brunswick was likely to dry up and blow away without Uncle Sam and the Pentagon sending shekels, keeping it afloat—at least that’s the version the media sold us.

The perspective is always different through the lens of hindsight. Looking back also provides perspective on how news stories get spun. I find it especially enlightening when political icons are judged by history. George Mitchell, everyone’s favorite Maine Democrat (if you’re a Maine Democrat) had this to say back in 1993, when he was Senate Majority Leader, in a news brief I located from the Boston Globe. [via ProQuest]

Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell said yesterday that he is optimistic Maine’s Navy bases will be spared when the Defense Department’s list of recommended bases for closure s released. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery and the Brunswick Naval Air Station could potentially be on the list Secretary of Defense Les Aspin will present to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission. [The Boston Globe, March 6, 1993]

BNAS was on the list, and it wasn’t spared. So much for the wisdom of ole’ George, Mr. Maine Democrat.  Actually, there’s more political wrangling to this story, as Mitchell ended up leaving the Senate and as a result, Maine lost some clout in Washington. That might actually have had more to do with the closure than Mitchell being a lousy prognosticator.

When BNAS closed in 2011, it affected 2,687 active duty personnel and 583 full-time civilian personnel. That was a significant loss of jobs along with the economic ripple effect that accompanied the closure.

Fast forward four years and the former Naval Air Station is in the process of redevelopment under the care of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA). Since redevelopment began, there are more than 70 businesses occupying the former base, and according to various news sources, more than 700 new jobs have been created.

Being that the JBE wants to be your go-to source for local news, at least local in terms of drawing a 30-mile ring around the JBE compound, I was able to dig a bit deeper for my readers. According the MRRA’s very own Redevelopment News newsletter that number is actually 730 jobs—which they cite as being “60 percent more than projected four years into this project. The newsletter goes on to report that they “expect to have more than 800 employees here in high-paying, quality positions by the end of the year.”

Plenty of space for development, at Brunswick Landing.

Plenty of space for development, at Brunswick Landing.

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Finding Balance

Do you remember walking the balance beam in elementary school? While the beam was only inches off the ground, it was daunting for some, more than others. The students who were able to walk the length of the beam were able to focus on the task at hand and concentrate.

Could genetics be in play, here? It’s possible.

A person’s balance is enhanced by three things: the part of the inner ear called the vestibular system; sensory nerves in your muscles, tendons, and joints; and your eyesight. People with better balance are likely able to coordinate these three things. Balance is likely a combination of genetics and also training.

I’ve never been very good on a skateboard. I also wear glasses, so it’s possible my balancing abilities are negatively impacted by my eyesight.

I was never very good on a skateboard.

I was never very good on a skateboard.

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