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Monday, November 01, 2010

Yesterday at the Culter rally in Auburn

It was a very good turnout at the rally, and the crowd and candidate were very enthusiastic and optimistic.  One of the key points to Eliot's speech in Auburn, aside from rallying the faithful, was to point out yet again that he promised to run a clean campaign with no negative or personal attack ads; and he's done that.  Good for you, Eliot, and good for us.
Folks, Eliot can win this thing and I feel he must win if this state is to have a chance of moving forward in a tangible way.
Ask yourselves why has every major newspaper in the state endorsed Eliot Cutler for Governor?  You can't say it's because they're partisan liberals or they would have endorsed the Democrat.  Say what you will about newspapers but I for one still believe journalists are driven by intellectual curiosity and truth.  Smart people write for newspapers.  Don't be afraid of smart people.  Listen to Eliot Cutler speak -- he's not only obviously very intelligent but he's very well informed.  He's done a great deal of research and work to determine what our problems are in this state and how they can be fixed.  He's sincere -- he's not telling us it'll be easy or that we're all going to find pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.  You can feel comfortable knowing that when he becomes Governor, he'll be working for us, not for anyone else.  So return the favor -- get yourself to the polls tomorrow and vote for Eliot Cutler.  Drag along a few friends too.
If you're still undecided and want to do some research of your own, then by all means but make sure you go to Cutler's website as part of your research.
On a personal note, I went over to Eliot after the rally and introduced myself.  Yours truly got a little ego boost when he knew who I was, based on one little blog post.  The man obviously is a good judge of character and has a mind like a steel trap -- firm handshake too, if you're inclined to judge by such things.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Gay people don't choose to be who they are any more than you do, any more than all the other types of people Christians choose to abhor.  Before you get yourself all bent out of shape, name me an atheist who's a homophobe.  Those who are taught not to judge are the most judgmental.  It has something to do with not wanting to believe God would create something you don't like, so you scramble to your Book to pick and choose your justifications to hate.
We need to stop the hate, stop the ignorance and stop the violence; and instead treat people like we want to be treated.  No one would choose a life of ridicule, pain, shame and perhaps worst of all, trying to be someone they're not -- no more than truly devote Christians would choose to be atheists in a world where they were the overwhelming minority.  Right?
So this is my first small attempt to get people to think a little more on this issue, while probably pissing off just as many but hopefully getting people to think about their choices.
So if I still have your attention and you haven't already seen it, I'd ask you to watch this short clip and then read a great blog post by someone who's lived in the closet because of us.
Thanks Mary and Heidi for introducing me to this video:

The blog post I mentioned is written by a friend of mine, someone who treats me with respect and doesn't care about my sexual, religious or any other orientation; and we're still friends because we haven't started treating each other differently since he decided to be himself.  This post, entitled Sunday Morning Hangover, is very well written and insightful, for those of you who care to think about things you don't understand.  After you've read it, ask yourself if you'd choose to be different in a world that truly hates different.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Karl Denninger, Tea Party Founder, Blasts Palin, Gingrich & 'Douchebag' Tea Party Groups

Because if you can get these angry masses to focus on the liberals, the media, the Hispanics and the gay, you can twist them right around backwards. The GOP is brilliant -- they got these people in no time flat to forget who it was that robbed them blind, started the bailouts, let the corporate execs into the watchdog beauracracy, created an economy full of entry level jobs; and thus welcomed these same thieves and liars to the top and in control of their movement.

Watch this great interview between Dylan Ratigan, Karl Denninger (one of the founders of the Tea Party movement) and Cenk Uygur. At the 7:15 mark listen to Cenk say much better than I just did how easily this was done.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Monday, October 18, 2010

My vote will be for Eliot Cutler

As will probably come as no surprise to those who know how fiercely independent I am, I have decided to vote for Eliot Cutler for Governor of Maine.  In a nutshell it comes down to voting for who I feel can do the best job for the people of Maine and doing the best job for the state takes many forms.  Not only do I feel he is best suited ideologically, has the best skill set and the best breadth of experience but in my opinion he is the only candidate who has any chance from a practical standpoint of affecting the necessary change.  Frankly, being the only moderate in the race, he's the candidate whose plans and ideology are in tune with the vast majority of Mainers.  And although it's a campaign slogan, "Independent, just like Maine" gives you a pretty good idea who he'll represent in the Blaine House.
With Libby Mitchell, while less destructive an option, we know we're going to get more of the same -- not fiscally conservative enough to make the necessary tough decisions and surrounded by a Legislature of like mind.  So I don't expect a sea change in direction.
Paul LePage?  The kindest thing I could say about a potential LePage administration is entrenched bickering with the Democratic majority in the Legislature.  Ideologically I disagree in practically every way with him and while I consider myself moderately conservative fiscally, I'm still a million miles away from him.  And before you assume I won't vote for him because he's a Republican, which I don't think he is anyway, I had pretty much decided I was going to vote for Peter Mills before the primaries.
So in my opinion Eliot Cutler is the only candidate with a legitimate opportunity to get his plans pushed through the legislature, plans that will actually make a difference. 
And I know you're going to say "But aren't you just throwing your vote away?"  "Isn't a vote for Cutler actually a vote for LePage?"  I'll take the last first.  There's much debate about who the undecided voters are and given Cutler's leaning toward being fiscally conservative, I wouldn't be so sure that he'd take more votes from Mitchell than LePage.  If you vote for the person you truly feel is the best qualified, how could that ever be throwing a vote away?  And let me ask you this to chew on:  If I'm right that neither Mitchell nor LePage are change agents for the better, then aren't you throwing your vote away supporting them?
I admit this post isn't big on details but to write a post like that would end up being unreadable.  If you know me, you know I do my due diligence and I don't take the process lightly.  My purpose is to make you curious at least as to why I support Eliot Cutler and then do your own research and make up your own mind.  If you're as intellectually curious as I am, I think you'll arrive at the same conclusion.
And as always, at least get out there and vote.  Don't let someone else make the decision for you.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cheers to the new bride and groom

As a father, it does your heart good to see your child so happy, even though you're scared half to death at the same time.   It's kind of bittersweet because it's like you're officially sending them off to the world.  I guess that's why the pastor asks "who's giving this woman away." 

My daughter got married yesterday and it was a lovely service.  During the father/daughter dance she told me her cheeks hurt.  No wonder, since she was beaming from ear to ear all evening.  What a lovely bride!
Everything went wonderfully, though there was a minor wedding dress malfunction; and I want to thank everyone who came and added to the special occasion.  Most importantly though, I want to thank those who put in many, many hours to make this happen:  Her mother, her stepmother, her stepfather, her sister, her Uncle Rick, her best friend's mother, the bridemaids and bridegrooms, as well as the Pastor and the parents of the groom.  Her dad helped some too.
Three daughters married and all grown to be wonderful women.  I couldn't be prouder, despite how bittersweet the process.
Congratulations, Emily and Peter.

PS  I will be posting an update, either here or on All Things Zebster, when more pics become available.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Sacking of Shirley Sherrod

I've wanted to write something about this incident but working 8 straight evenings since last Tuesday and my daughter's wedding coming tomorrow, I haven't had the time to research and write a decent piece.  Let me say I share the thoughts of my friend, DCHomer whose post I'm putting here.

DCHomer:  "These are NOT my words. They are the blog comments of my fraternity brother, Attorney Chuck Hobbs of Florida."

The Sacking of Shirley Sherrod---President Obama should Reinstate Her Immediately

Posted 7/21/2010 12:44 PM EDT on

Reject! Repudiate! Condemn!

In today's 24 hour political news cycle it seems as if not a day passes without some politician, lobbyist or talking head making a statement that so vexes his or her ideological opponents that summary calls for rejection, repudiation or condemnation soon hail forth.
The latest example is Shirley Sherrod, a heretofore relatively obscure black employee of the United States Department of Agriculture who in March addressed a NAACP gathering and discussed her own peregrination toward racial enlightenment. The blog Big Government recently decided to cut and post only
part of her statement where she describes, back in 1986, how she nearly used her authority at the USDA in a wrongful and racially tinged manner.
In her speech, Sherrod describes how she felt that a white farmer “came in acting superior to her” and that “she debated how much help to give him.”  Sherrod also stated that "I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland, and here I was faced with helping a white person save their land."
Standing alone, such comments certainly reveal racial bias by a government official charged to assist farmers regardless of color.
The problem, however, is that there was a second part of her statement that certain individuals, for reasons known only to themselves, conveniently chose to leave out.
Sherrod went on to state that the situation “opened (her) eyes…that whites were struggling just like blacks, and helping farmers wasn’t so much about race but about the poor versus those who have.”  Instead of Sherrod being hailed as a shining example of how one can overcome their own latent biases to treat people fairly, she was fired this week by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack who, like the NAACP, rushed to condemn the partial statement without having the gumption to ascertain whether there was more to the story---which clearly there was.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Zebster's Maine Baked Beans

Since I'm going to be making my beans for my daughter's wedding next weekend and we're calculating how much of each ingredient we need to make essentially 8 batches, I thought I'd share my recipe again.  This was posted on All Things Zebster in July of 2006.

This recipe is for traditional Maine or New England baked beans, none of that crap with the soggy little beans in a tomato or bbq sauce. You can use a crock pot, do it in the oven inside a bean pot; you can even dig a hole in the ground and cook it in there for several days (hardcore and best, but I'm too lazy and impatient). So I use a crock pot. You'll only need about a half hour or so of prep time but you'll need to cook them all day.
Ingredients: One pound Jacobs Cattle beans, onion, 1/2 pound salt pork, 1/2 cup of BROWN sugar, 2/3 cup molasses, 1/4 cup of real maple syrup (honey works good too), 3 teaspoons dry mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
I think using the right beans is one of the keys. I prefer Jacobs Cattle or Yellow Eye or the like. You can use pinto beans, I suppose, but see above and don't tell me if you saddens me deeply. Let me amend that. If you want real baked beans, then find the good dry beans I've mentioned. Don't cheat and use canned beans or whatever. If you want it to taste right, like it's supposed to, then you need to start with the right ingredients. There's no point in doing it, otherwise.
You should check the bag of beans because occasionally there's a pebble or a bad bean. Then put them in a large bowl of water and soak them overnight.
In the morning parboil the beans until you can blow the skin off one, about a half hour, which gives you time to get your ingredients together. You'll need some salt pork (no bacon...this isn't breakfast), which you'll need to cut through the rind side about a half inch in a waffle design so it'll fall apart nicely when everything's cooked. Quarter at least one onion and place it in the bottom of the pot. Then drain and add your parboiled beans. Place the salt pork on top. In one pint of boiling water add your molasses, syrup, dry mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. I like mine peppery. I've been known to use Montreal steak pepper. But at least 3 teaspoons of pepper. Pour this over the beans, adding more boiling water, if necessary, to cover the beans...usually an extra half pint to pint. Then cook on low in the crock pot or 300 degrees in the oven for at least 6 hours.
When at all possible serve with red casing hotdogs and brown bread, also often served in Maine with coleslaw. Since you're going to fart like crazy after eating them, plus the cabbage in the cole slaw, you might as well go all out and wash it down with a hearty ale. You won't have any trouble being left alone after that.
And by the way, if I find out that you put ketchup on my beans, I'll hunt you down and shoot you! Ketchup is for hamburgers, meatloaf and bad french fries.
UPDATE 7/25/10:  Made a large batch (8X above) for my daughter's wedding and have a couple of important notes.  As Shelly has said, it's my best batch yet and I attribute that to using Grandma's Molasses, which was used because it's gluten free.  It's stronger in my opinion and worth using.  But if you're making this recipe for the first time and using Grandma's, I'd use 1/2 cup of molasses and perhaps a little more water.  It's always to taste anyway.  For this batch we ended up using yellow eye and great northern beans, which are smaller but I felt they needed extra soaking and parboiling compared to the soldier beans.
UPDATE 3/8/11:  Made a batch at my mother's this past weekend, this time cooking them in a gas oven using a cast iron dutch oven...another significant improvement, which is hard to believe as good as they already were.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Your insatiable appetite for crap

Warning:  Old Zebster rant.
When I worked in sales for a cable company, several times a day I would hear complaints that "there's nothing on TV," while you glance at their television to see it's on a "reality" show or some junk like Entertainment Tonight and copies of the worst tabloid rags are lying around their home telling you who's sleeping with who or who's pregnant with an alien baby or who has a crack habit.
America, you can complain all you want about what's on television but it's a simple matter of profit.  Media companies only deliver what you and your neighbors watch and read.  Advertisers will only spend their bucks on media that's being viewed by large numbers.  The more sensational and scandalous, the more likely you are to want to know about it and then to know more about it.  Your crap habit is out of control and the media companies don't mind as long as it's profitable.
Why are our television shows, newspapers and magazines filled with salacious stories about celebrities?  Because for some reason that I'm unable to fathom, you want to know about that shit.  Just last night my local NBC affiliate showed a segment during the 6:00 news where they were trying to get a peek of Taylor Swift filming a music video in Kennebunkport, ala TMZ.  At least they led with the fatal shooting by police officers of a Marine veteran shooting a gun outside the VA Hospital in Togus, but then again that still fits the profile.  To you sheep it's less a news story and more a sensational story.
Here's something for you to chew on:  In the three years I was selling cable I was in thousands of homes.  If I was in a home that had scandal rags lying around and they also had a cable news channel turned on, every single time it was the same one.  I'll let you guess which one and you can decide for yourself what to make of that.
You claim to hate the paparazzi but they're the ones feeding your insatiable appetite for crap.  There's obviously money to be made stalking celebrities.
So don't complain to the networks or your cable salesman, complain to your neighbors and take a look in the mirror.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Open discussion -- PFC Manning

Imagine for just a minute that you're 22 year old PFC Bradley Manning, a patriotic soldier doing your job and minding your own business, when one day the worst possible moral and patriotic dilemma falls in your lap.  You're working as an intel analyst when you see part or all of what's become known as the Collateral Murder footage, where it certainly appears that an Apache helicopter is firing on unarmed people trying to keep from being shot at.   So for the sake of this discussion, let's assume it is what it appears to be.
If you're unfamiliar with this issue, here's some background from the PBS show Need To Know that includes a videotape of the incident.
Now I could care less about the website Wikileaks or its founder, Julian Assange.  My concern is that the issue easily gets sidetracked when you talk about Wikileaks because, the Collateral Murder tape aside, most of us would agree we don't agree with their methods and their choices.
But just from a purely patriotic and moral standpoint, how do you feel about the fact that Manning released a sensitive US military "document" that plainly puts the US in a bad light? 
Is it that simple...thou shalt never release anything, no matter the circumstances, at any time?   No.
Is it worse because he was an active duty soldier as opposed to a civilian?  I don't think so.  You don't have to obey an unlawful order, for example.  The issue is certainly complicated by the fact that this whistle blowing incident takes place during wartime, where doing the right thing can often also be doing the wrong thing.  Yes, both at the same time in my opinion.
This is where I fall on this if I were to put myself in his shoes.  I know if I go against my government and cause this material to become public, I'm going to go to jail for a long time and rightfully so.  No matter the cause, I'm breaking the wartime laws of my country that I've sworn to uphold.  But I'd do it anyway.  The releasing of that material is detrimental to our country but the incident in and of itself is detrimental to this country and the ramifications of not coming clean (YET AGAIN) in these kinds of incidents is much worse. 
I can envision instances where during wartime I could witness a murder and still know that the right thing is to keep it a secret.  This isn't one of those instances.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

First remember, then let's get to the grub

Happy Birthday, America. Go out and have some fun.  Please remember, our differences are our strength and what make this great country the envy of all others.  On this Independence Day, it wouldn't hurt to revisit the document that starts it all, so to speak.  So thanks to the Boston Globe, here's a link to the full text of the Declaration of Independence.

Now, how about a little discussion about your favorite 4th of July foods.  For me it has to be something off an outdoor grill and nothing says America more than a great burger.  Is there any better burger than one off your grill on this special holiday?  I think not.  For me it's grilled medium, with cheese, tomato, lettuce and dill pickle, mayo and mustard.  My favorite grill side dish is a simple potato salad.  For a beverage, I find nothing goes better with a grilled burger than a cold ale and my favorite is Shipyard Export from right here in Maine.

UPDATE:  While tinkering with the blog, I came upon this piece I wrote for Independence Day four years ago.  I'm quite proud of this one.  Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

But then again...

It could be a whole lot worse, like it was not long ago.
While I've been in a dissatisfied mood with President Obama of late, I recognize it has as much to do (leaving the Gulf spill aside for now) with not doing all that he said he would and a few things he's done that he said he wouldn't.  I should also be fair and step back a bit and look at the big picture.  The big picture is that an awful lot has been done legislatively and culturally.
Since I'm lazy but most importantly need to be spending my time looking for a job, I'm going to take advantage of those who get paid to point these things out to you.  First, I'd encourage you to read this excellent article by Peter Beinart that's currently at The Daily Beast.   I saw an interview with him a few weeks ago with Charlie Rose, and I couldn't help coming away from that with one overriding thought..."that is one incredibly smart guy right there."  You just know it when you see it and it is a very rare quality these days unfortunately.
And just because it's always fun to be enlightened by Jon Stewart, I'll share the clip below.  If you watched the show last night, you saw about an 8 or 9 minute interview with David Axelrod; but if you go to The Daily Show website, you'll see there's a much longer unedited version of the interview.  What's below is part 1 of 3, that totals about 20 minutes.  There doesn't appear to be one file containing all 3 parts; but if you start with the first, it'll jump to the next when it ends.
So again, I'm far from satisfied and am dissatisfied in many ways but it should be remembered what the other options could have been.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
David Axelrod Unedited Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Banging around YouTube (in a melancholy mood)

Triggered by a PBS link on my Facebook wall this morning about David Rawlings, I soon found myself revisiting one of my very favorite artists' music, that being the duo of Gillian Welch and the aforementioned Mr. Rawlings.  If you're unfamiliar, do yourself a favor and look them up.  You might be familiar with them from the movie "O Brother Where Art Though" but they've been around for a long time, and no one performs better live.  As I've gotten older, I rarely listen to anything that isn't stripped down, and that's all they do pretty much is do great voices in harmony and two guitars.
They do my favorite version of "Long Black Veil," originally recorded by Lefty Frizzell, and this little gem, which is perhaps my favorite of theirs.

I soon ended up listening to another favorite, the great and original Merle Haggard.  It's hard to find a song of his that I don't truly enjoy thoroughly but especially like "Tonight, The Bottle Let Me Down" and "Think I'll Just Sit Here And Drink."  Those songs always make me think of my father, who loved Merle and loved his drink even more, which is how he found his demise at the young age of 52 (story for another time maybe).  But I'm going to share a different Merle song with you, one that perhaps you haven't heard.  Again, it makes me think of my dad because it's a song asking for a moment of peace (that's what strikes me the most, though it's a song about death and salvation)...a song that has the rare ability to bring a tear every time you hear it with that taps-like trumpet at the end.

Another version of this song worth finding is by Keith Richards (yes, that Keith Richards)
Are we seeing a trend? Yes, I like the melancholy -- deep, dark, stripped down and unabashed, which is why I tend to gravitate to the singer/songwriter, people whose music comes from their hearts and souls.
(Sorry I'm not smart enough to make these videos fit correctly)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Four years ago

Watching some U.S. Open golf and World Cup soccer the last couple of days had a sense of deja vu to it; and that coupled with blogging on BoSox Tavern about these events, had me looking for old blogs on similar topics.  Well, if you read through these couple of blog posts from four years ago, you'll see there's even more than superficial similarities.  It's four years ago exactly...Father's Day weekend, a U.S. Open with Phil Mickelson in contention, the only other time Tiger Woods was going through troubles, and a World Cup with the U.S. team underachieving early in games and coming back to save themselves.
One difference is that Nascar is at Sonoma instead of Michigan, as it was four years ago.  Similarities are still there though -- Kasey Kahne won at Michigan four years ago and he finished 2nd last weekend at Michigan.  He's starting from the pole tomorrow at Sonoma where he won last year.
So take a walk down memory lane with this post from Saturday four years ago and this second one is the weekend wrap-up once the results were in.  Here's hoping that the similarities between Phil's first two rounds this year at Pebble Beach and four years ago at Winged Foot (you remember Winged Foot, don't you) end there.
Have a great Father's Day weekend.

(cross posted at BoSox Tavern)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Because that matters most of all, Mr. President

Mr. President, in case you didn't realize, there's a big difference between the loyalty of the left versus the loyalty of the right.  On the left, while we may be very patient and gracious with the benefit of the doubt, we will call you out when we disagree and the bar of expectation is higher.  One category where the bar is higher is regarding your word, especially your word that your administration would bring back things like truth, justice, honor and principle to the Presidency.
So here's how it works with us:  If you're upholding those standards that we most believe in and cherish, then we'll be patient when it might appear you've made a mistake in judgment or calculation because we believe your heart's in the right place and your decisions are based on the greater good.  We'll even cut you a huss or three if you were simply wrong, again provided that we believe that you see the world the way we do and your word is good and you're upholding the standards we believe in.
But when more than a few chips start to fall in the wrong direction, when we start to wonder just how good your word is, then we'll turn on you too.
We're not happy about how you and your administration have handled the mess in the Gulf.  All things considered, we'd just voice our displeasure but still be on your side because you did all the other things that you said you would do that were most important to us.  Well guess what, our patience is wearing thin.
Our friend, Jon Stewart, who's always funny and nearly always right, does a very good job of laying out why we're getting fed up in this hysterical piece from last night.  He lays it out much more succinctly and certainly is more entertaining doing it than I could ever be.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Respect My Authoritah
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Monday, June 14, 2010

It really is up to us, you know

A very poignant political cartoon hit my Facebook wall this morning from Politico.  Unfortunately, Politico doesn't have a share-to-Blogger option.  Since I'm not going to copyright infringe to put the cartoon on this blog, you'll have to go to their site to see it.  There is actually another one on the same page that makes the  point very well also.   On this page look for the one with the oiled pelican on the gas pump and the traffic jam one where the drivers are saying "Dang pigheaded oil companies."
The point of these cartoons is painfully clear:  Our insatiable thirst for oil and a refusal to be personally inconvenienced to any significant degree is a major contributing factor to the necessity for offshore drilling and, by fair extension, the disaster that's going on in the Gulf.
We as a country can be justifiably angry at BP, angry at Minerals Management, angry at the President; truly saddened and heartbroken about what's going on down there.  But until we care enough and are selfless enough to look at ourselves in the mirror and say "Okay, my self-centered perspective and total disregard for the potential ramifications of quenching my thirst contributed to this as well," nothing will change and this will likely happen again.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"It's all that and a bag of chips"

Preferably salt & vinegar chips.  My previous post about the Maine Italian sandwich resulted in a lot of comments about people's favorite versions and places to get it, which has sparked in yours truly the thought of discussing what might be the most traditional take-out Maine lunch.
Requirements:  A traditional Maine take-out lunch must include an entree, a side, a beverage and a little dessert; and all of the elements must be, if not uniquely Maine in origin, at least foods that have become iconic Maine delicacies.  So while lobster may not be exclusive to Maine, a Maine lobster roll most certainly is; ditto the hotdog.  A great hotdog can be found in every corner of this country but a red casing hotdog in a toasted traditional Maine hotdog roll is unique to The Pine Tree State. 
While I do love Italian sandwiches, by the third mention of Richie's Pizza, my memory was suddenly jogged regarding the sandwich that I most often ordered there, the hot ham, cheese & bacon.  Now, you might want to suggest that's just a hoagie by another name but I would counter and ask if you've ever had a sandwich outside of Maine that truly made you think it comparable to a ham, cheese & bacon, hot with mayo.  What makes it different?  I don't know exactly since the ingredients are as straightforward as the words ham, cheese and bacon.  I do know I've never had a sandwich anywhere else in the country on a foot-long hotdog roll.  There's my nominee for the entree.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ode to the Maine Italian Sandwich

Since it is universally accepted that the Maine Italian sandwich's origins are in Portland, ME and Giovanni Amato, I've included a link to Amato's website, which has a great picture of the sandwich (you can leave the olives off mine, thank you) on the front page and a link to the history of the sandwich. So I won't bother to repeat it here; but it's called an Italian more because it was invented by an Italian than what's in it, which wouldn't necessarily strike you as Italian food.
My purpose here though is to baptize the uninitiated and to swap stories with the choir about our favorite version of the Italian and where we fondly remember getting the "best one around." It is true that you'd be hard pressed to go anywhere in Maine and not be able to find a very good one on the menu of any "corner store," as we tend to refer to mom & pop and general stores here in Maine; but we all have our favorite place, usually one near where we grew up. It is one of those things when we're away from Maine that make us think fondly and eagerly about returning.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Maine Primary open forum

Being fiercely independent as I am, I don't get to vote for candidates in the primaries (and this won't be a pro open primary post...leave that for another day) and so I'm reliant on registered Republicans and Democrats to make smart choices.  Thankfully my home state of Maine is notoriously independent and moderate, which rarely results in far left or right field nominees.  This blog is an open forum to discuss your choice, if you made one, and a plea for continued moderation.
I know there's a lot of angry sentiment on both sides, which nationally is having the result of some extreme nominees, nominees who cannot and will not win, nor should they.  They don't represent anything close to a majority of voters' beliefs.  But what can happen when parties are polarized and extreme blocks of each party push through candidates based on anger and over-reaction instead of reason is that there is the possibility of an open election between two "worthless" choices.
So I ask my fellow Mainers to reflect on what kind of man or woman you want at the helm of state government.  New and fresh ideas are one thing but sacrificing sound judgment and a steady hand to get them is not the way to go.  As an independent, I'd like nothing more than having a difficult decision between two highly-qualified, sensible candidates come November, two candidates that reflect the State of Maine as a whole and who have that necessary commodity of being able to govern.
I encourage you to let us know who you voted for and why, and to also weigh in on the bond issues.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

First off, let me ask all who read this to join in the National Moment of Remembrance today at 3PM, to honor in particular those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect this country and our freedom. Go to to learn more.  Secondly, for those on Facebook, the White House has a great application where you can honor a random fallen soldier. I've been updating mine about every hour to honor another. Go to my profile to find the app.
You all know me to be not much of a "flag waver." I prefer to show my patriotism and respect in my own way, which tends to be with 100 percent sincerity and in my own words, as opposed to doing what others have made and decided is the right way to show patriotism. On this Memorial Day though please take some time to think about what sacrifices have been made, what it's meant to the families of those who made that sacrifice and what it's meant to our country. Also, try to take time to personally thank anyone you know who has served because without them as well this country would not be as free as it is and the ultimate sacrifice could have easily been theirs to bare.
Memorial Day is also a day to remember loved ones who are no longer with us. I tend to do this myself by remembering all the good times shared with them, what wonderful people they were and how much they meant to my life. I won't list all those I miss but will say a special remembrance to my daughter Jennifer Lee, who I never had the opportunity to get to know. Miss you, sweetheart. So while we remember and honor those who've served and those we've lost, let's cherish the time spent with them but also take advantage of the time we still have with those who are still with us. So how about just letting them know in some personal way that you're glad they're in your life.

(cross posted at All Things Zebster)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

DADT -- What difference does it make?

As is my tendency, I'm speaking as the devil's advocate.  What is the practical difference between Don't Ask Don't Tell and what things will be like in the military if and when it is repealed?
When I was in the Marine Corps, if DADT wasn't the law, it was certainly the practice.  We all served with people we suspected were gay; and speaking for myself only, it certainly didn't matter in a personal or professional relationship with those folks.  To be clear, I never spent any time in a war-time foxhole and so obviously wasn't in a position to evaluate my feelings sharing that situation with someone I knew or suspected was gay.  I can tell you with all certainty it would not have mattered to me.
But that's really not what I'm getting at.  How will things be any different in the military if gays won't have to conceal who they are?  Do you think all of a sudden there will be openly gay (insert whatever slang here you choose -- flaming, etc) people wearing a uniform?  Do you think suddenly people in uniform will be walking around limp wristed?  Seriously, just because the laws change doesn't mean day-to-day life will change.  There will still be those non-gay members who it doesn't matter to and will be your friend, and there will continue to be those who'll want to take you out back and beat the hell out of you. 
So with that backdrop, gay people know they'll still need to live their daily military lives the same way as before.  There will still be bigotry regarding promotions.  There will still be a military dress code and rules of comportment.
Understand this:  I believe every one should be treated equally and fairly, and I believe DADT should be repealed; but also that I served and realize that the military is a special universe, shall we say, with special requirements.  If I thought for one second that repealing DADT would negatively effect the daily morale of troops or create an environment that could be dangerous to those who are fighting our wars, I would sadly be against it.
What am I missing?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Progressive link day

Unfortunately the full-throated blog juices still aren't flowing on a regular basis, despite the fact that so much is going on and so much is pissing me off.  So while I'm tending to my wife who's home recovering from a couple of hernia repairs (and I had a wisdom tooth pulled on Thursday, which was no sweat at all), I'm reading some good articles and blogs and thought I'd share.
You'd think pulling a wisdom tooth would be more difficult than finding an honest, rational thought from the radical right that has hijacked the modern Republican Party.  Think again.  Am I the only progressive who was at least a wee bit optimistic that after 8 years of monumental fuck-ups that a decent percentage of conservatives would have been interested (just interested) in rethinking their intransigent beliefs?  If we harbored any of that optimism, it went out the window the day of or at least by the day after Obama's election when he was blamed for everything he was served.
I guess if all you care about is your side winning and never having to take responsibility for your support or lack of dispute, the only other option is to act like it never happened until the other team takes the field.  Cowards is the only word that comes to mind.
So with that in mind, let me encourage my progressive friends (ye of open-mindedness, a belief that the best is always ahead, and that smart and thoughtful is always better than closed-mindedness and hate) to hold true to what we know is right and just, and do and say whatever is necessary  to take this country and world in the right direction, as is so very well said in this article by Mike Lux at the Huffington Post, where you can always find something thought provoking.
From the "while I don't always agree with him but he doesn't mince his words" department, I bring you a great rant by Bill Maher, including this excerpt:
For example: to solve our debt crisis, a bunch of Republican senators suggested a bipartisan debt commission, which is the adult thing to do. But when Obama agreed to it, immediately seven of them said no -- now they're against it. Because Obama has cooties. Democrats have cooties, so you can't vote with them, or work with them, and compromise is treason.
Finally (for now anyway) I'd like to point you to a long-time blogging friend who reminds us, and warns us, how far some on the radical right will go in attempting to affect the change they want.  RIP Harvey Milk.

I'm likely to update this later with more links.  Feel free to suggest any in your comments or to me in a PM at Facebook.

UPDATE:  Here's a dichotomy link from The Boston Globe, showing what good journalism is and why we still and always will need newspapers, and to show how nepotism and cronyism still controls our politics and bureaucracy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thomas Brackett Reed

Another one from the category "See how little you know about your home state."
I'm watching Ken Burns' documentary "The Congress" yesterday when there's mention of Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed of Maine.  "Who?," says I.  Click "like" below if you're from Maine and you haven't heard of him either.  How many Speakers of the House are from Maine?  Two, I believe, Blaine being the other.  So you'd think that would be a common name to hear during our educations in Maine. 
Reed was an important enough figure to be mentioned in an hour and a half documentary on a subject as vast as the U.S. Congress, despite the fact that he was Speaker well over 100 years ago.
As I've done with other similar blogs, I won't write a biography as much as encourage you to learn more.
I will tease you with this and include the below link and excerpt.  His efforts to increase the powers of the Speaker were dramatic and lead to the tenure of one of the more powerful Speakers ever, Joseph Gurney Cannon of Illinois.
There's even a street named after him and a statue on the Western Promenade in Portland.
 From Wikipedia
During his time as Speaker, Reed assiduously and dramatically increased the power of the Speaker over the House; although the power of the Speaker had always waxed (most notably during Henry Clay's tenure) and waned, the position had previously commanded influence rather than outright power. Reed set out to put into practical effect his dictum that "The best system is to have one party govern and the other party watch"; this was accomplished by carefully studying the existing procedures of the U.S. House, most dating to the original designs written by Thomas Jefferson. What followed has popularly been called the "Battle of the Reed Rules".

UPDATE:  Author Evan Thomas was on "207" tonight talking about his new book about the Spanish American War, and Reed's name comes up as one of the few prominent politicians who were against the war. Portland, ME Newsweek's Evan Thomas

Thursday, May 13, 2010

That's mighty white of you, America

According to a recent WSJ/NBCNews poll, two-thirds of Americans are in favor of the new Arizona illegal immigration law, even though practically the same percentage feel it will lead to discrimination.
You know, it's always been an easy thing to say you're for an infringement on your rights for the better good when you know damn well you'll never have to worry about it.  No one, and I mean no one, whines louder than white Americans when their rights are perceived to be infringed upon.  We who were born in this country and fortunate to have the correct skin pigmentation take our rights for granted, which is why sadly too many of us who've never had to worry about it carelessly say it's okay for others.
What if the immigration issue in this country involved Canadians, who in most respects look and sound like white Americans?  Do you want to guess what the reaction would be by these same supporters of this law when they're asked to produce proof of citizenship?
What good would it do to have a law like this when nearly everyone looks the same?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Walking away when you're under water

So let me make sure I understand this.  It's morally okay for a home owner to "walk away" from a mortgage they can afford to pay simply because the home is now worth considerably less than its value at the time of purchase?  That's just a smart business decision and nothing more? 
Whatever happened to the concept of "a deal's a deal?"  You're saying your word and your commitment is only as good as the day-to-day economic viability of the deal?  So if you sell me your vintage '60's muscle car on time and six months later the bottom falls out of the vintage car market, making my purchase a bad investment, you have no problem with me just bringing it back to you and no longer making the payments?  Why, that's mighty nice of you.  In fact, if you don't mind, I'm going to drive it for a few months for free while you go through the legal process of repossession, since you're in such a charitable mood.
Let's take this a step or two further because I really want to understand what's motivating your thoughts.  If five years after your purchase the value of the home has doubled, are you going to insist that the bank redo the mortgage and you'll gladly pay it?  No?  But the bank should renegotiate the mortgage if the value drops?
So can I fairly assume that since practically every home in this country is worth less now than it was two years ago, you have no problem with all of us walking away leaving the bank high and dry?  One last consideration:  What are you going to tell your neighbors when your local credit union, the one holding your life's savings and theirs, goes under when we all renig on the mortages they hold?

Monday, May 10, 2010

What's it worth?

It's been a long time since we had a guest post on Inside Zebster.  Hopefully this nice piece by LadyA will be the first of more to come.   She points out in the piece below something that we don't as American  consumers want to think about...we just want it cheap.  How long has it been since the standard of living for the middle class and below in this country even came close to keeping pace with the cost of living?

Please welcome Lady A and leave any comments you'd like.

"For those currently engaged in debate over the “illegal alien” issue, I offer this:

You forget your history. The entire original infrastructure of this country was built on slave/cheap imported labor. From the plantations in the south to the rail lines in the west, land/company owners have never paid decent wages if they weren't required to. As long as American consumers want the lowest prices, regardless of the wages paid to the producers of said products; and American stock holders want the highest returns on their investments, regardless of the working conditions and benefits offered to the employees of said companies; American employers will have to look for sources for the lowest wages. When American consumers are finally willing to pay the>true< full price of the goods and services they consume, there will  no longer be a need for employers in this country to employ these illegals.

After I posted the above commentary on my Facebook the other day, I had a conversation with friends regarding compulsory education for our children between the ages of 8-16. I was again reminded that without laws to prevent it, our business owners will employ the most vulnerable members of the population without regard to ethical practices."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Candlepin Bowling and Bill Chinnock

I came across two things recently that made me remember fondly my youth and teenage years. The first was this feature on "207" about Bill Chinnock, and the second was this article on regarding candlepin bowling. I thought I'd share a personal story or anecdote about each and invite others to comment with their stories and or elaborate on mine.
Perhaps the best story, but the one I need help with the most, involves a certain Bill Chinnock concert at the Pittsfield Community Theater, probably sometime in 1979 (one of the very few ticket stubs I can't claim to still have). A handful of us decided that not only did we need to be at this concert but we needed to have flasks or pint bottles of alcohol as well, lest we got thirsty inside. Unlike the famous Dresden ice fishing legend (sorry Chink), getting the alcohol for the Chinnock concert did not involve someone's uncle delivering it to the MCI campus in a black pulp truck. I don't recall where we got it but there's little chance the story is as colorful.
What is most memorable about this concert, aside from getting to see our local music hero, was the fact that not all of us managed to get into the concert with our alcohol intact. Isn't that right, SF? Luckily for us, some of us did! Were we cool or what? If you were there that night, please chime in with any information you have to fill in the story, as my pitiful memory has left me nothing more than what's above.
Regarding candlepin bowling, I'll offer up a couple of quick things. Many of us were on youth bowling leagues or high school intramural leagues at the Pittsfield Bowling Center. Most of my fondest candlepin bowling memories are there, and I'm sure there are plenty of fond memories by others to share. One not so fondly remembered, or better stated as bittersweet, relates to the reward we received in roughly 1972 for winning the Eastern Maine tournament. For whatever reason, that year it was decided that giving jackets was better than trophies. So while my trophies from my glorious youth survived in my mother's attic for many years, that jacket was lost, nay stolen, in less than a year, some idiot 11 or 12 year old having left it on a bench at Manson Park.
Also, any of my MCI classmates who still have the 1980 edition of The Trumpet, go to pages 112 and 113, and in particular look at the names of the teams. Does that bring back some memories? Long live The Zebulons!
I would be very appreciative if you would leave any anecdotes that you'd like to share, elaborate on anything I have said but also if you would please pass this along to anyone who might appreciate it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Who I learned about yesterday

I guess I'm on a streak here lately of learning about influential people that I shamefully know very little about. A couple of days ago it was Rachel Carson, and yesterday it was Martin Luther. My task here again is not to tell you who these people are in any great detail but to encourage you to learn more about them.
When it comes to Martin Luther, is it fair to say that most of us are familiar with the name and that's about it? Perhaps we know he was a religious figure, perhaps that the Lutheran religion is named for him. But what else do you know? Did you know he told a Pope, Pope Leo X, and a King, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, that he wouldn't retract his writings; that he was right and they were wrong? That he basically told the Pope he was irrelevant; that he translated the Bible from Latin to a language of the common people, and thus the Protestant Reformation starts with Luther?
He was a devoutly religious man and I'm an atheist but I love rebels and free thinkers. Every freedom fighter from Thomas Jefferson to Martin Luther King were inspired by Martin Luther. It could be fairly said that we as Americans owe our democracy to Luther. So take five minutes or so to become better acquainted with one of the most influential people of all time.
Up next? Cleisthenes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rachel Carson

This won't be a biography at all; it's an attempt to get back in the habit of using this blog, forcing myself to write a little something here on a regular basis.
I find it astonishing that the name Rachel Carson is unfamiliar to most Americans, including yours truly. While I'd heard the name and knew she wrote "Silent Spring," I really had no idea who she was or the profound influence she had on the modern environmental movement and the creation of the EPA.
Even that aside, she was a trailblazer for women in education and the workplace. Look at where and when she went to college; likewise, her early professional career prior to becoming a fulltime writer. You'd think that anyone included in Time's 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century would at least have been heard of.
You all know how to use the Wiki, so look her up yourself, or go here and decide for yourself whether this is someone with whom we should all be familiar.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

No, you're no more American or patriotic than anyone else

Spend some time on websites like Facebook, for example, and you'll see people posting something along these lines: "There are too many people in this country who don't understand what it means to be American, who don't support the troops," etc, etc, and that essentially you don't have the guts or the patriotism to copy and paste that nonsense on your space.

You've seen those posts and you've heard that sentiment around your workplace or in editorials. Did it come as a surprise to you that there are those in this country who get it and that the rest of us don't? Who are these people who get it? Who are these people who don't? Is there a book or manual somewhere that describes what a patriot American does or looks like?

If this sentiment doesn't scare the living shit out of you, well, it should. It serves to divide us. It creates a mentality in people to be watching your neighbors or friends or family for suspicious activity or, even worse, a lack of certain "officially-approved" activity.

Haven't we been here before? Do I have to copy and paste your drivel to prove my patriotism? Do I have to look just like you and think just like you; otherwise, I don't get it, or worse?

I have a news flash for you narrow minded sheep: We all support the troops; we'd all die for our country, be it go to war or jump in front of the President to catch an assassin's bullet. I would've done it for a president who I couldn't have disagreed with more. Would you do it for the current president who was overwhelmingly elected by the people of this country? Or does your holier-than-thou, self-annointed sense of patriotism not cover that?

Get your blinders off, turn off that bullshit echo chamber you're tied into (you know, that one that loves to scare and divide) and get your head out of the ass of organizations that want you to believe there's this huge percentage of unpatriotic people in this country before one of you does something we'll all regret. It takes a lot more courage and patriotism to make up your own mind that it does to follow that little crowd of yours that always tells you what you want to hear.

We're all pulling the same rope and pulling it in the same direction; there's just disagreement about the best way to pull it sometimes. You should be a lot more concerned and afraid of people who want you to think a certain way because it serves their ambitions than to be concerned that your fellow Americans aren't really American enough by your standards.

The most patriotic and heroic people we know are those who do the little and large things proactively, very quietly, never asking for recognition or even support.

So before you run off at the mouth with your nonsense, serving only to help further divide us to be conquered by those who truly don't get it, ask yourself whether you truly know one single person who doesn't support the troops, who doesn't love their country, who wouldn't sacrifice all they have in half a heartbeat to protect, preserve and improve it.

So sadly we've come to the point where it takes guts to say and think we're all together than it does to point fingers at shadows. So let's see if you have the guts to post the link to this.

And don't read this like the ditto-head that you are -- "Wow, that is so true" -- and then put your head back up your ass again...truly think about it and act accordingly in your day-to-day life.

Me? Liberal, atheist, wrote "the blank check" for 8 years and every bit as American as you. I just choose not to use labels when determining whether someone's patriotic or not.