Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Today, I'm a bit of a rambling man...

I've been out of this blogging game for a while now.  Life is busy, and writing took a backseat.  I'm back, bitches!  Well, at least for today.  See, it's that time of year that I get really annoyed, and I can't help but say something.  I'd go to Twitter, but 140 characters just won't suffice.  I might need 160 characters for this post.  Here we go...

Ferguson Unrest.  Rioting is stupid.  I think it is dumb when fans of sports teams do it.  I think it is dumb when political protesters do it.  I think it is dumb when white people do it, and I think it is dumb when black people do it.  If you don't like an outcome, don't ruin your own damn neighborhood or town.  Don't use your disagreement as an excuse to cause some trouble.  Use that anger in a positive manner.  Start a charity.  Set up a benefit.  Create a video or write a blog.  Channel that energy in a positive direction, because you will get way more bang for your buck.  Burning businesses and looting is just a chickenshit response, and you not only lose the respect of the community at large, you don't truly honor the memory of Michael Brown.  
All of that being said, racism DOES exist.  Whether or not race played a part in the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager by a white Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, we will never really know.  But, what all of this has shown me is that racism is still alive.  Look at any comment section on any story about this death.  It will sicken you.  I want to live in a world where we don't see color.  I want to live in a world where we are all treated equal.  Unfortunately, race is here, and it is a constant.  To quote Jon Stewart, "You're tired of hearing about it? Imagine how f--ing exhausting it is living it."

"War on Christmas".  I call it a Christmas tree.  I don't care what you call it.  If you want to call it a holiday tree, please do.  If you prefer to say Happy Holidays, I'm fine with that, too!  There is NO WAR ON CHRISTMAS!  There are radio stations that play Christmas music 24/7 starting in November.  Department stores inundate us with Christmas commercials and merchandise starting pretty much right after Halloween.  Television channels are showing Elf, Christmas Vacation and The Santa Clause on repeat already.  Can we please stop this nonsensical claim that there is a war on Christmas?  YOU celebrate whatever you want.  I'll celebrate what I want.  If you have enough time on your hands to get upset over how I extend pleasantries this time of year, I have a ton of data entry I need done, and a laundry list of projects around my house.  I will gladly help you put that time to a much better use. 

Just a few ramblings from my mind today.  Perhaps you'll see more of me in the future.  Perhaps you don't want to.  Perhaps I don't care.  I'm kidding, of course I care.  I'm just saying...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dining al fresco, it's not always what you hope for...

This past Saturday was absolutely gorgeous.  In fact, it may have been a bit too humid.  Nichole and I had a bus full of patrons for the Saturday installment of the Maine Beer Tours brewery crawl, and we finished up around 4:00 in the afternoon.  As we normally do, we had some errands to run, and decided we wanted a quick bite to eat somewhere in town.  Sitting outdoors was a must, and we decided to give West End Deli a try.  Good sandwiches, quaint neighborhood, and outdoor seating made it an easy decision.  We found a parking spot right across the street, ordered up our sandwiches and claimed one of the two outdoor tables as our own.  While we really enjoy living in our small town of New Gloucester, you just don't have this sort of setting there.  Things are looking good so far!

Remember how in the last sentence I said things were looking good so far?  Yeah, that changed, and pretty quickly!  I'm about three bites into my sandwich, and I see what appears to be a rather intoxicated lad stumbling down the sidewalk toward us.  He is all over the sidewalk, carrying on a pretty intense conversation with himself, and clearly not a fan of buttons, as his less than slender belly is desperately trying to escape from behind his shirt.  I quickly suggest to Nichole to keep her head down and continue eating, hopefully he will just pass on by.  While that thought sounded so good in my head, it was not even a remote possibility in reality.  As the gentleman gets close to our table, you can't help but see his toothless grin just light up the sidewalk.  We are screwed, aren't we?

The next 40 minutes are filled with our three toothed friend Roy happily repeating himself over and over again, rambling on about how he has made bad decisions, and how much he really likes us.  A sample sentence would sound something like this: "So I say to myself, self, I'm crazier than hell."  I was offered a sip of vodka from his backpack a solid half dozen times, and was even offered some meth.  While both offers were extremely enticing, all I really wanted was my sandwich, which was getting cold, and not nearly as appetizing at this point.  Next thing we know, Roy is reaching into his pocket and pulling out cash.  He wants to buy our dinner.  The very same dinner we had already paid for, and just really wanted to eat, without Repeat Roy standing over us.  We tell him not to worry about it, it's all set.  Not wanting to listen, which I think is mostly in part to being so drunk his ears stopped working, he insists on paying the tip.  He tosses $4.00 down onto the table.  We beg for him to take his money back, he refuses to listen (I'm serious, drunk ears, it's a real thing).

At this point, it is clear that Nichole and I are just too nice to ask him to leave, and the conversation continues.  For some strange reason, we tell him that Nichole is pregnant (if you didn't know, and just found out from reading this, yeah, we're having a baby!).  Ol' Roy lights up with excitement.  You would think he is a long lost uncle or something, he's just so happy for us.  He reaches back into his pocket and pulls out a $20.00, and tosses it onto our table.  "Open a bank account for that little one.  I made some bad choices, but I want you to open a bank account for him or her, do the right thing".  We beg him to take back his money, but he will not listen.  Six or eight times he tells us to open a bank account.  I see him look at Nichole's belly, and he reaches back into his pocket.  We are sassing him at this point, please stop!  He pulls out $10.00 more dollars, and throws it on the table.  For those keeping score, that's $34.00 on the table.  Sorry, I spoke too soon.  He looks back at the belly and reaches in for more cash.  Please, don't give us more cash!  Boom, $10.00 more on the table.  $44.00 in total.  From a drunk.  What the heck do we do?!

We feel dirty, we feel bad, we are confused.  What the heck just happened?!  We beg for him to take his money back, and he just won't hear it.  He insists that we open a bank account for the baby, and "do the right thing".  Realizing that the only way to end this craziness is to leave, we collect our half eaten sandwiches and get up and walk toward the car.  Several more attempts to give back the money are unsuccessful.  Ol' Roy even tries to get Nichole to add some of his vodka to her ice tea.  We watch him stumble away, scratching our heads.  What just happened?  We climb into the car and drive off laughing.  That sort of thing seems to find us, no matter where we are.  Moral of the story?  If a drunk offers you $44.00 to open a bank account for your baby, honor his wishes.  He may have lived a life of bad decisions, and this could be the karma he needs to make his life feel complete.  We are going to the bank this afternoon to honor his wish.  Oh, and maybe dining al fresco in the West End, on a late Saturday afternoon wasn't the best idea after all.  I'm just saying...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post election thoughts, as I struggle to stay awake...

What a crazy past couple of months this has been.  Nichole announced her intention to run for the Maine House of Representatives back in the spring, we launched Maine Beer Tours back in late summer, and we are already very busy people.  It's been a whirlwind year.  Now that the election is behind us, I may have a moment or two to reflect and plan a path ahead for 2013.  Until then, I just want to spend a couple of minutes climbing up on a soap box, so, yeah, enjoy.

First of all, Nichole's election didn't go as we had hoped.  Let's be honest, Democrats don't often win in our district.  It's also very difficult to beat an incumbent.  The odds were definitely stacked against her, but that didn't stop her, not even for a second.  That amazing wife of mine worked her tail off, knocked on doors, attended events, and shook more hands than I could possibly count.  Her body would ache, her sleep schedule was thrown way out of whack, and every spare minute she had was filled.  Despite the many reasons to get discouraged or distracted, she never lost her smile, her determination, or her drive.  Words don't even begin to describe how proud I am of her.  She would have been an amazing representative for the people of New Gloucester, Durham and Lisbon, but now was not her time.  Have no fear, we'll keep all of those signs in a safe place, we haven't heard the last of her just yet.

As for the presidential race, American decided that 4 more years of President Obama sounded better than even a day from Mitt Romney.  Now, it's very clear that we are a divided nation.  With a very close to 50/50 split, President Obama squeaked out a victory.  I've already seen a number of people going on and on about how America will now implode, or that the administration is coming to your house to take everything you have, or that every small business will now close.  Guys, come on.  I know that people like attention, or like to be dramatic, but slow down a second.  For all of you out there that are calling the president a Marxist or Socialist, or whatever other ridiculous name you have for him, can I point out that many Democrats think he has been too moderate.  I get that many of you don't agree with his policies.  I didn't agree with many of Bush's policies, I understand.  That said, wishing for failure from this president, or refusing to work with him, or doing everything in your power to make him look bad does nothing to further us as a country.  If he fails, we fail.  If he succeeds, we succeed.  We need to put our nonsensical bullshit aside and work together. 

It's insulting to me to read so many posts about all of the "idiot Americans" who only vote for Obama because they want "free cell phones" and other handouts.  The majority of my friends happen to be Democrats, and each and every one of them work their ass off for what they have.  I, personally, run a small business, work full time, have a growing list of clients I work with on the side, volunteer my time to various organizations and serve on the Board of Selectmen in New Gloucester.  I work myself to the bone every single day to put food on the table, and to teach my daughter how important hard work is.  Our new business, Maine Beer Tours, was started during President Obama's first term, and will not only continue through his second term, but it will grow and flourish.  I was always taught that hard work and determination pays off, and it is true.  I don't worry about which political party is in charge at the state or federal level, that has no bearing on my decision making process.  If my business ideas are good, they will succeed.  If they are not well thought out, they will be doomed.  That is on me, not somebody else.

To wrap this up with a pretty bow on it, let us all do the right thing and work together.  I don't care if you are a Republican or a Democrat.  I don't care if you are male or female, young or old.  We need to put our petty differences aside, cut the bullshit, and work together.  We do it every day at work, at school, or on the field.  We don't win without teamwork, and that holds true in all walks of life.  Let's focus on what is good, and make a plan to move the country, and our state, in that direction.  If we want to teach the next generation what it takes to be great, let's act like adults, and do what is right, not what is politically beneficial to our party or our brand.  I'm just saying...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I'm taking a pulse, assuming there even is one...

I fancy myself a bit of a political junkie, but I've been pretty quiet over the past couple of months.  There is so much happening on a daily basis to talk about, but sometimes it is better to sit back and take it all in then to jump into the fray.  Well, fray, here I come.  Based on posts from friends on Facebook, I'd have to say I have many more Democrat friends than Republicans, but there is definitely a good amount coming from both sides on a regular basis.  I haven't said too much on either side of the aisle, despite the many thoughts that come to mind as I read it all.  That said, I have noticed a general theme, and it has lead me to an observation.

One thing that I have noticed is that Obama supporters are just that, Obama supporters.  They will point out disagreements they have with Romney or the Republican platform, but it almost always includes reasoning as to why they support Obama.  In reverse, Romney supporters aren't really Romney supporters, they are Obama haters.  I see continuous posts about how great Reagan was, or anti-Obama posts all the time, but very little in the way of anything supportive of Romney.  I'm not convinced any Republican is actually excited about Mitt Romney.  It seems to me like it is another year of Republicans holding their collective noses and voting for the R because they hate the other side.  What I would love to hear is a Romney supporter actually give me reasons why they are voting for him, and they can't involve Obama bashing.  I'm not sure any can do it.

I hear all the time about how awful Obama has been for this country.  I keep hearing about how bad his foreign policy is and how much he loves big government.  I want to hear how Mitt Romney will be better, and it cannot involve the lie about how Obama runs all over the world apologizing for us.  I want to hear what good Romney will bring, period.  I understand that President Obama hasn't delivered on everything he promised 4 years ago, I can admit that.  While he hasn't brought the two sides together as well as I had hoped, let's be honest, it's not possible as things currently stand.  There is nothing he could say or do that would please Boehner, McConnell or Cantor.  There is nothing the president could change that would provide Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity with a positive segment about the him.  No matter what President Obama says or does, he will have Republicans like Rep. Allen West, former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum and Rep. Steve King standing there arguing against him.  I'm not convinced anyone could truly bring both sides together. 

So please, if there are any self proclaimed Romney supporters out there, please feel free to respond.  I'm curious what your thoughts are on Mitt.  I completely respect differing opinions, and welcome them with open arms.  For whatever it is worth, I will completely respect you for standing up for your pro Romney reasons, even though I won't necessarily agree with you.  However, if you come at me with anti-Obama rhetoric, I don't want to hear it.  Many of you wouldn't vote for a Democrat if it was your significant other on the ballot, and I know that.  However, you should remember that an R or a D in front of someones name doesn't paint the entire picture.  There should be more to your decision to vote for someone than just a label.  Oh, and I AM better off now than I was four years ago.  I'm just saying...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'm no Casey Kasem, but here are my top 10 favorite songs

I constantly find myself trying to determine what my favorite songs are, and to be honest, the list changes depending on my mood and what is going on in my life.  That said, there are a few songs that I always go to, always turn up when they come on, or just genuinely love.  This list is sort of all over the place, but I think that summarizes my musical interests fairly well.  In no particular order, they are...

10. Possum Kingdom - The Toadies  -  I just love this song.  Always have, always will.

9. Regulate - Warren G feat Nate Dogg  -  Try not to sing along to this song, seriously. 

8. Elderly Woman Behind A Counter In A Small Town - Pearl Jam  -  Great song by an incredible band.

7. Bubble Toes - Jack Johnson  -  The first song Kerrigan could sing along with.  It was priceless, and I always smile just thinking about it.

6. Two Step - Dave Matthews Band  -  My original favorite song from DMB, only got better after seeing it live on several occasions.

5. In Bloom - Nirvana  -  I can't have a list without Nirvana on it, they changed my musical world when they hit the scene, and this was always my favorite of theirs.

4. Shakedown Street - Grateful Dead  -  I will never forget hearing this for the first time.  I was at an all night disco tent at Lemonwheel (Phish festival in Limestone, ME) when it came on.  You should have seen me dancing!

3. Waste - Phish  -  One of my favorite bands of all time, and I just love this song. 

2. Love Of A Lifetime - Firehouse  -  A cheesy song from the 80's, which is enough to make me love it, but it is also the first song Nichole and I danced to at our wedding.  Enough said.

1. Thriller - Michael Jackson  -  No explanation necessary!

There are so many other songs that are close, but these are my absolute go to songs.  Some day I'll do a top 50, which will cover songs by Bob Dylan, Soul Coughing, Matt Costa, Beastie Boys and many more.  Until then, tell me some of yours, I'd love to find out if others have similar interests.  I'm just saying...

Monday, May 7, 2012

In a surprising move, Governor LePage says something insensitive...

Another day, another Governor LePage comment that draws the ire of many.  While speaking at the Maine Republic Convention over the weekend, he said, and I quote, "To all you able-bodied people out there, get off the couch and get yourself a job," prompting a standing ovation. 

At the very core of what he said, he's right.  If you are able to work, you should be out working, or looking for work.  However, I have a few issues with what he said.  As he so often does, he is painting with a very broad brush.  To suggest that anyone who is able-bodied and not working is just collecting a "free lunch" is beyond laughable.  I've been unemployed before, I have friends who have been unemployed before.  Getting a new job isn't as easy as people think.  Add to that difficulty the fact that it is a process, something that can takes weeks, if not months from submitting a resume to actually being offered a job.  To suggest that people aren't actually out searching for work, making contacts, using connections, really just doing whatever they can is not only inaccurate, it's offensive. 

Let's look at things from this angle, supply and demand.  According to the state's website, unemployemt was at 7.2% at the end of March, which works out to about 51,300 people out of work.  According to, which is an Internet job board that pulls from all over, there are 9,403 jobs in Maine as of right now.  To suggest that people need to get back to work is only valid when there are jobs for those people.  So, let's assume that all 9,403 jobs are filled up today by unemployed Mainers, there are still 41,897 people that can't get a job because there isn't one out there. 

Another factor that is continuing to work against unemployed people, not just in Maine, but accross the country, is that employers are giving preference to those that are already employed.  Someone who is currently employed has continuous work history, where someone who has been unemployed for, say, 6 months has some gaps.  Employers prefer seeing no gaps in your work history, so that alone makes it more difficult for the unemployed. 

Again, I agree that if you are able to work, you should.  That said, being able-bodied doesn't guarantee you a job.  I know that Governor LePage likes to get a good laugh, and fire a crowd up, but I'd much rather see him put his list of one-liners and insults away and work on improving the economy, improving consumer confidence and creating more jobs.  I mean, that seems like a pretty basic concept to me.  The constant belittling of people that receive state aid is the true definition of class warfare.  I'm just saying...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

5 things I learned on vacation...

I just got back from a 10 day vacation, where we spent time on nearly the entire Eastern Seaboard, spending the bulk of the time down on the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  What a blast!  Sun, sand, wild horses, the Big Apple, Dogfish Head Brewery, mini golf and lots of driving.  Despite it being a trip for fun, I actually learned quite a bit.  The following are 5 things I learned on vacation that I wanted to share with all of you.  Here goes...

1.  New York City cops are kind of like Honey Badger, they don't give a shit!  We got ourselves into a EZPass only lane as we rolled into the city, and before we realized it, we couldn't get out of it.  No big deal I thought, we can just give them the toll amount and they will raise the arm for us.  HA!  Nope, big tough police man rails on me for a few minutes and then tells me to go ahead and pull off to the side, he'd be right up to ticket me.  Ticket me?!  I paid the toll, what the heck?!  Yeah, turns out it's a $130 fine for using the wrong lane at a toll booth in NYC!  Note to self, NYC and Maine are kind of different.

2.  Joe Bornstein isn't actually the guy in the ads.  Yeah, I know, I was shocked!  We saw a sign in either Virginia or North Carolina advertising a law firm down there, and much to my confusion, it was the same dude in the photo!  The following is an actual conversation I had with an Operator on their website...

System: You have entered the conversation. Waiting on operator...
System: Operator has entered the conversation.
Sylvia: Hi, I am Sylvia. How may I assist you?
Visitor: Hello Sylvia, completely random question for you today. The guy in the ads, what is his name? I saw him on a sign for a law firm in Virginia or North Carolina, was shocked to find out it wasn't Joe Bornstein. I died a little inside, truth be told.
Sylvia: We may be able to help you. Do you mind explaining the situation?
Visitor: I just did, any thoughts?
Sylvia: I understand.
Visitor: You are automated, aren't you? You really can't help me. Bummer.
Sylvia: I am a real person.
Sylvia: I am part of the live chat support team for the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein firm, and my job is to connect people with the most appropriate attorney for their situation.
Sylvia: If you don't mind leaving your contact details, I will forward it right away and request that you are contacted as soon as possible with the exact details.
Visitor: Right, but can you help me with who the guy in the ads are? That is all I really want to know.
Sylvia: May I ask your contact number and email address?
Visitor: Nevermind, I'll use Suri on my iPhone, she is more helpful.
Sylvia: Are you sure you would not like to leave an email just for future reference?
Visitor: I have no need for your services, other than trying to find out who the guy in the ads are. Seriously, finding out that he wasn't actually Joe Bornstein made me tear up a little, true story.
Sylvia: You can try contacting the office directly at 1-800-225-5563.
Sylvia: The receptionist should be able to assist you.
Visitor: I'll try that, or Suri, she does whatever I ask, and I mean whatever. Do you know what I mean?
Sylvia: I understand.
Visitor: Hey, thanks anyway, Sylvia. You have yourself a fine afternoon, and I'll continue my quest to find out who the mysterious man is. Peace out!
Sylvia: You are welcome.

Despite Sylvia being a real person, she wasn't very helpful, and I had to do my own research.  Turns out his name is Robert Vaughn and he does this very same ad for a variety of personal injury lawyers.  You learn something new every day!

3.  Radio stations that play top 40 music only play 5 or 6 of the most popular songs no matter where you are, not just here in Maine.  All this time I've given my daughter a hard time because 97.9 only plays a half dozen songs repeatedly.  However, all of the comparable stations we found from NY to NC did the same thing.  In fact, I now know every word to the new singles by Katy Perry, Nikki Minaj, Flo Rida, Fun, One Direction and Kelly Clarkson.  Yeah, I know they are popular, but come on, a little variety is a good thing for a radio station, right?

4.  Wild horses are beautiful and majestic.  We did a tour of the Carolina beaches in a couple of Jeeps looking for wild horses, and we saw probably 20 of the estimated 140 that are in that area.  We learned all about the history of how they got here (came over from Spain back in the mid 1500's), and how they tend to travel in packs consisting of usually one stallion and a varying numbers of mares.  We also learned that when a stallion feels threatened or wants to let you know he is in charge, he gets, shall I say, aroused.  You want to talk about awkward!  How do you explain to five kids ranging in age from 5 to 9 why some of the horses appear to have five legs?!  Holy crap! 

5.  Despite having an absolute blast with family and friends (both old and new), and everything else that comes along with a wonderful vacation, there really is not place like home.  Getting away reminds me of how much I really do love living right here in Maine.  There are so many great places in this country to visit, but there is no place I would rather be than here in the Pine Tree State.  Sure, I would love less snow and more sun.  I mean, seriously, we have it all right here.  From my house I can drive less than an hour and get to a beach, a mall, a remote campground, or a mountain for skiing.  Where else is that possible?  Sure, I think of living elsewhere from time to time, but I'm pretty happy right here.

In case I hadn't mentioned this already, I had a wonderful vacation.  It was the first real vacation I have taken since I think I was in high school, and to be able to take it with Nichole and Kerrigan, I couldn't have asked for anything more than that.  I have an amazing little family, and I look forward to many more vacations, and many more stories in the future.  I'm just saying...