The Wind Howled and the Power Stopped

The Great Ice Storm of ’98 is something that’s nice to have in your back pocket, in a “I was without power for 08 days and learned to shit in the woods like a bear” sort of way. It’s nostalgic, something you can dust off and regale hipsters who maybe just moved to Maine, or just bought a house in the country after living on the West End for five years. However, I’m not really keen about re-living it, at least not this year.

I got about three hours sleep Sunday night. I was sure a tree was going to snap off and come through the roof of our bedroom. We live about 100 feet from a cove and the winds were gusting well above 60 miles per hour about 2:00 a.m.

Our gray Chartreaux, Lucy, was troubled all night. She came up to snuggle with us prior to the winds making a sound like a freight train outside our deck door. But, like me, she knew this wasn’t a normal night for sleep. Mary seemed to be okay, as she’s a much sounder sleeper than I am.

I heard a crash around 4:45. This was after I’d gotten up, watched some bad TV, charged my phone and crawled back under the covers at 4:30, just as the power flickered twice and went off. At this point, I wasn’t getting back up.

Dozing off fitfully until the first flickers of daylight shown into the room, I looked out and could see the carnage. Trees had snapped off and fortunately due to the wind driving from the south and southeast, pushed them away from the house. The crash was one of the panes shattering in our double-paned window that looks out from our kitchen nook onto Woodward Cove. At least pane #2 remained intact. Continue reading

A Machine Called Love

My body is a machine/
Built to force so much compassion and love and kindness into the world/that human life has no choice but to thrive and flourish.
[Poem by Mark Baumer-Day 28/Second Crossing of America]

Mark wrote this and recited it on his video from Day 28, the day following the Trump victory. He was in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania. On both sides of the road were farms and fields where peas had been harvested earlier in the fall. Mark is shrouded in his green rain poncho, as the day was rainy and probably cold.

On a rainy day in November, 63 days before he was to be killed, Mark speaks about human-induced climate change, how it’s causing typhoons and droughts. He indicts the American way of life, talks about ways that we can mitigate our personal contribution to global warming and climate change. He mentions that “one of the easiest things you can do to help the environment is stop eating animal products…you can do that today…you could have a huge impact if you just stopped eating meat.” Continue reading

People and Corporations

We hear a lot of lip service paid to cracking back on corporations. People generally seem to dislike corporations—except when they’re supplying a paycheck, or often, cheap, substandard products manufactured offshore, by exploited workers.

Corporations have more rights now than ever before. In fact, the Supreme Court has broadened the concept of “corporate personhood” considerably over the past decade.

Candidates for president say the darndest things.

Candidates for president say the darndest things.

Mitt Romney, when running for president in 2012, actually came out and said explicitly, “corporations are people.” Justice John Paul Stevens would disagree, as he did in his dissent in the Citizens United case:

[C]orporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations . . . and their “personhood” often serve as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established. Continue reading

Travel on Foot

In 2010, Mark Baumer crossed America on foot in 81 days. While my research isn’t extensive (or exhaustive), I’m not sure anyone’s completed a coast-to-coast journey across the U.S. sans gasoline any faster than he did six years ago.

Mark is a writer and poet. He chronicled that first trek in a new book that has a very limited print run. The book, I am a Road, will be available to purchase for another week in print form, so don’t miss out.

Two weeks ago, Mary and I learned that our only son was being beckoned by the road once again. This time, his latest cross-country trip will be done for something larger than what motivated Mark during his first walk. Oh, and he’ll be doing this without shoes, too.

Since Mark’s taken the time to articulate and frame it in narrative form (much better than I can), I’ll send you directly to him, so he can explain the “why” of his latest journey.

Mark Baumer will cross America on foot, once again.

Mark Baumer will cross America on foot, once again.

Skating Away

On Saturday morning, the thermometer near our mudroom entrance read minus 20. That’s cold! On Monday afternoon that same thermometer was reading 50 degrees, a remarkable shift of 70 degrees in two and a half days.

We are experiencing greater extremes and fluctuations in our weather. Both sides on the issue of climate change attempt to use this to score points in their favor. If inclined to trust in science, the data indicates that something’s up with our weather. 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

Cleaner Air

Can we cut harmful CO2 emissions?

Can we cut harmful CO2 emissions?

No One likes breathing in noxious fumes and air tainted with pollutants. In places like Maine, clean air and pure water are both essential elements of the state’s brand, and well worth holding onto.

Air pollution still poses a health risk for many Americans. Diseases like asthma, COPD, even heart attacks can be exacerbated by exposure to the various elements and particulates that cause air pollution. Continue reading

When the oil runs out

James Howard Kunstler's latest book.

James Howard Kunstler’s latest book.

Americans are ignorant about energy policy. Oh, they can tell you who the panelists are on The Voice, or recite a litany of pop culture references and answers to sports trivia questions, but knowing about peak oil, and even the seriousness of climate change seems lost on a nation that’s grown up with cheap, abundant petroleum.

When I was born, gas was 30 cents a gallon. Cars were big and bulky. No one thought twice about jumping in the car for a trip the IGA for a gallon of milk or a loaf of Wonder Bread. Gasoline was abundant and Happy Motoring was an American birthright. Continue reading

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Hovering slightly below 0 (Fahrenheit)

Hovering slightly below 0 (Fahrenheit)

We are in the midst of a good old-fashioned cold snap, common to those of us native to northern regions. January has always been the coldest month.

Oddly, the cold is now big news, at least if you watch local affiliate news. It’s part of my morning 5 AM routine that I can’t seem to shake. WMTW-8 sticks their second-string weatherizer out in some live location where this pale and shivering meteorologist tells us that “it’s cold outside.” Yes it is. Continue reading