I met Tom – Dr. Eastler, when I was a new student in the first day of Environmental Geoscience class at the University of Maine at Farmington. I had recently completed 20 years of service to my nation and it’s Navy, generally knocking around the globe visiting with folks while intermittently pretending I was ready and willing to shoot at and/or be shot at by some of those same folks. Continue reading A rifle, a leather belt, and a pen
Mrs. Knox, my high school English teacher, must be tossing and turning in her grave. Have you ever really listened to some of the phrases used in public speaking? There were only a few things she was really adamant about. A student could get an F on a paper, for instance, for using the phrase “a lot of” instead of something more specific, like “many” or “4,278,522.”
Continue reading Phrases worth forgetting
The evening news reports Republicans in the state Assembly want Gov. Wolf to sign a bill into law that allows school districts to decide how many people, if any, to allow in the stands to watch football games. On screen, a legislator declares the individual schools “are in the best position to know” what is best for the players and the fans.
Continue reading Memories of ball games past
As I was reading some stuff about water one morning this week, I was reminded of the water source of my youth – a twenty-foot deep hand-dug well. It sometimes is difficult to believe that we in 2020 are not far separated, measured sometimes by the calendar and sometimes by miles, from having no imagining of conveniences such as computers or water that simply appears at the turn of a knob.
Continue reading Water, water everywhere
Readers of a certain age – which is to say, aging baby boomers – likely will remember a song by Anne Murray in which she pleaded to wake up one morning with “A Little Good News” in the headline news.
“Nobody fired a shot in anger, nobody had to die in vain.”
Continue reading A little good news
We have a dogwood tree in the corner garden, and one of its branches finally grew to within Gray Squirrel jumping range of the roof. That was fine for a fairly long time – until one particularly ambitious fellow decided to launch himself at the bird feeder suction cupped to my studio window.
Continue reading Squirrels ain’t stoopid
“I get lost in the country,” she said.
We hadn’t chatted in years, since I left the town where she still lives, and our conversation the other afternoon had swerved into the country-vs-city path down memory lane.
Continue reading City mouse, country mouse
A group of us old guys meets each Tuesday at nearly noon to drink coffee and tell each other stories, some of which are true. All of which actually happened.
Continue reading TRDB & BSRJ
The Edmonton Eskimos is no more. It was a Canadian football team, until it announced last week it would drop the name it has used since 1949, responding to years of complaints from at least some people that the name was offensive to Inuits, who many of us erroneously refer to under the blanket name Eskimos.
Continue reading 2 names and a logo
School districts often gather into purchasing consortia to obtain materials for their respective districts at lower cost than purchasing individually. Within our county, townships and boroughs have formed a Council of Governments to work together in pursuit of legislative goals. In smaller groups, the townships work together to share equipment and sometimes people power so that each municipality need not incur the expense of, say, a road grader.
Continue reading Lesson from a racetrack
My camera and I had an interesting experience together this week. We tried to get a decent picture of the comet NeoWISE. Three nights, three efforts, and I finally got one shot I’d not feel badly about showing people.
Continue reading People (and comets) and street lights don’t mix
All my writing life, I have been hammered with rules such as “the subject and the predicate must match.” So imagine my confusion when Granddaughter commenced telling a story one night this week in which she reported, “Sally said they did not feel safe.”
Continue reading Evolution as it is spoke
My mother’s dad smoked at least two packs of Tarreyton cigarettes a day. Raised three kids and retired after spending much of his life as an electrician for the Massachusetts Transit Authority, helping keep the trolley cars running. He was 80-something when he left us.
Continue reading Rituals
About 1973, we were heavy into a fossil fuel shortage. Gas lines were nationwide. In some places, the day you could buy gasoline was decided by your license plate – odd numbers on odd days, etc.
Some people said we were on the verge of running out of oil to make gasoline. Continue reading We cannot afford it
Our president has said he ordered a slow-down on testing for Covid-19 so we would not notice the number of cases afflicting the various states. When it was suggested he might have been kidding, he assured us he was not.
Continue reading Opportunity avoided
I have a favorite spot by a stream, where catbirds flit through the leaves with a call like a kitten mewling up a tree.
The thing about patience is if one sits long enough waiting for the critters to accept ones presence, relaxing is the inevitable result. The critters, not always me.
Continue reading In this together
At the site of a battle that began the end of a war to decide whether any men should be allowed to own other men, we still concentrate on the battle rather than its meaning. The people over whom all that blood and treasure was shed remain largely ignored.
Continue reading The cost and the promise
Events of the past few months have been weighing heavily on many of us, I fear. The pandemic some of us knew was coming has kept us cooped up in our homes, if for no other reason than most places we would like to go – places we would meet for breakfast, parks where we would jog and picnic, or cubicles where we would work – have been closed.
Continue reading Stuff happens
I’m lucky. Or old. Or both. I don’t need a haircut.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked how things were going at my house, what with the stay-at-home lockdown we had been enduring. At the time, we had not been in it very long and, as regular readers will recall, I was, and am, a believer in the mental medication of getting outdoors to commune with nature.
So I told him after nearly 50 years as a journalist, I was used to working alone. I love wandering along or in a forest or a stream and making friends with the critters who live there. It makes one feel pretty special when those critters start to trust you. Continue reading It’s not the haircut
A friend recently related a conversation in which he mentioned to someone that a certain insecticide has been declared dangerous to humans when used as directed. Roundup has been in the news the past several months, the subject of some court cases involving the cancer- and sometimes death-causing nature of the compound. Continue reading Life on the third rock