Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm gonna vote, are you?

Next Tuesday is the day we vote in Maine on a handful of questions. I have taken the time to read through everything and have formed my own opinions on everything. I will provide you with the questions and would be curious to hear your thoughts, if you are willing to share. Here we go...

Question 1: People's Veto

An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom
"Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?"

If you have read previous blogs you know where I stand on this question. Despite what my banner ads reflect, I think this is a no brainer. I'm not really even sure why this is up for debate. Two consenting adults should have the right to get married, regardless of race, religion, bank account size or sexual preference. This isn't special rights we are talking about, it is equal rights. I'm voting No on 1.

Question 2: Citizen Initiative

An Act to Decrease the Automobile Excise Tax and Promote Energy
“Do you want to cut the rate of the municipal excise tax by an average of 55% on motor vehicles less than six years old and exempt hybrid and other alternative-energy and highly fuel-efficient motor vehicles from sales tax and three years of excise tax?”

I am all for hybrid vehicles. In fact, we are researching them now with the idea being that we plan on buying one here in the not too distant future. That being said, I think that the money collected from municipal excise tax is too important to the individual towns, and will only see us paying more in property taxes. Also, it is a bit of a slap in the face to those who can't afford a new car. Somebody that can afford to buy a new car won't pay excise tax, but someone who can't afford that new car has to pay excise tax? How does that make sense?

Question 3: Citizen Initiative

An Act to Repeal the School District Consolidation Laws
“Do you want to repeal the 2007 law on school district consolidation and restore the laws previously in effect?”

I feel as though consolidating schools, especially those in very rural areas offers students more opportunities by pooling the funds from two schools into one. It would cut administrative costs state-wide, meaning more money for classroom instruction, which is the best thing for our kids, in my opinion.

Question 4: Citizen Initiative

An Act to Provide Tax Relief
“Do you want to change the existing formulas that limit state and local government spending and require voter approval by referendum for spending over those limits and for increases in state taxes?”

This bill imposes expenditure limitations on state and local government and requires voter approval of certain state tax increases. Maine voter's rejected TABOR back in 2006, and that was during good economic times. With the economy just now peaking it's head out of the crapper, and many local towns struggling to balance their books, I don't think TABOR makes any sense at all. In Colorado, TABOR lead to slower job growth, delayed economic recovery during periods of recession and cost citizens more money. Colorado lawmakers and voters have since suspended the law for five years in order to restore funding for schools and other basic public services. Does that sound like a good idea for Maine? I didn't think so either.

Question 5: Citizen Initiative

An Act to Establish the Maine Medical Marijuana Act
“Do you want to change the medical marijuana laws to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to create a regulated system of distribution?”

This one is tricky. It has been determined that medicinal marijuana serves a good purpose for those that need it. I think it makes sense to provide those that are in need with a valid and proven method of treatment. I also feel that regulating a system of distribution would not only support this treatment, but would bring in revenue to the state. California is considering legalizing marijuana, and have estimated that the tax benefits are somewhere in the ballpark of $1.5 billion per year! Now, we would be talking much smaller numbers in Maine, but wouldn't that help gap some budget shortfalls right there?

Question 6: Bond Issue

“Do you favor a $71,250,000 bond issue for improvements to highways and bridges, airports, public transit facilities, ferry and port facilities, including port and harbor structures, as well as funds for the LifeFlight Foundation that will make the State eligible for over $148,000,000 in federal and other matching funds?”

Now, spending money right now makes little sense, as Maine is heading further into the red, but hear me out. Spending money on much needed improvements to the states infrastructure is not only good for each and every one of us that commutes every day, visits family in Aroostook County, heads over to the Fryeburg Fair, or vacations in Bar Harbor, but it will help provide much needed work for many people across the state. Heck, failure to keep pace with our infrastructure needs will threaten our state’s economy, both now and in the future.

As you can see, there are a lot of important question on the ballot, and a lot of important things to consider come next Tuesday. I urge you all to go out and vote, regardless of what side you find yourself on. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to decide what happens, and you throw away your opinion if you don't vote. Be heard, I know I will be. I'm just saying...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Application Intervention

I'm constantly trying to think of the next best idea for a business. We all want to work for ourselves, right? I mean, I love my job, but the idea of setting my own hours and doing something I'm truly passionate about is a hard concept for me to let go of. When I was a kid I wanted to start a landscaping company, which is sort of ironic now, considering I actually paid someone to mow my lawn once this summer! In the years since then I have had many more ideas, but none of which I have dared pull the trigger on. Starting your own business can be a big risk. All that being said, I have figured out what my million dollar idea is going to be!

I'm going to start a television show called Application Intervention. Think about it, between the iPhone and Facebook, there are literally thousands of applications, many of which are highly addictive. Do you find yourself staying up all night feeding your fish on Happy Aquarium? Do you dream about energy packs from the game Mobsters? Do you hang out with friends discussing which animals got away from you on Farm Town? Do you spend every spare minute launching sheep or pigs? Ignoring your family at dinner time so you can try to beat your score on BeJewelled? Don't worry, you are not alone. Millions of people every day find themselves addicted to useless Facebook and iPhone applications. Heck, I too was once overly obsessed with a handful of them all at the same time. What did I do to get my life back you ask? I had an application intervention.

On Application Intervention, we will discuss your latest obsession, and have guest hosts like Dr. Phil and Samuel L. Jackson do their part to help rid you of your addictions. Have you tried shock therapy? Hypnosis? Do you find yourself sitting at work or school thinking about what you might be missing on your favorite game? If this sounds like you, you are the perfect candidate to either appear on the show or at the very least call in for some much needed help.

I'm pretty sure this is going to be huge! I'm accepting donations to help get this show up and running. Feel free to send cash, money orders, or personal checks (made payable to Mark Stevens). I hope to work out a deal with one of the major networks in the next couple of months. I can't make this happen without you guys though. I know you have your addictions. You may keep it a secret from your friends, but Facebook tells us what you are up to, we know. Don't be afraid to call me, I will help you, I promise. I'm just saying...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Be honest, you fell for it, didn't you?

Yesterday afternoon found us all captivated by the balloon boy story. For those of you that didn't hear about this, good for you, but I will fill you in. This family of whack jobs in Colorado, who had previously appeared on the ABC show "Wife Swap", created this balloon thing that they were planning to use to track storms and perform experiments with. At some point yesterday afternoon it was said that the families 6 year old son had climbed into a compartment in the balloon and it then became untethered, taking off, setting off a search that included military helicopters and a plan to either lower a person to the craft or place weights on the balloon to bring it down. Officials rerouted planes around the balloon's flight path and briefly shut down Denver International Airport. When the balloon finally came back to earth it had traveled about 50 miles over the course of 2 hours. The "scary" part of the story is that when the balloon landed, the little boy was nowhere to be found. Speculation that he fell at some point along the journey started to creep in. It turns out that the little boy was hiding in the attic of the garage, too scared to come down because he thought he got yelled at.

Now, I thought this story was straight from the National Enquirer, one page after the story of George Bush shaking hands with an alien. I didn't believe a word of it, sounded too far fetched to be real. Well, turns out I was right. Now, the big question is, was this a publicity stunt or a giant misunderstanding? The 6 year old claims "You had said that we did this for a show." On the other hand, the father says accusations that the ordeal was a publicity stunt are "extremely pathetic." I think this wreaks of somebody trying to get some attention. Think about it, if they are able to utilize their balloon thingy to get some valuable storm tracking info, they are going to sell the shit out of this balloon. They stand to potentially gain financially from this. Plus, it's not like they are camera shy, with the kids featured in a rap music video on YouTube and the whole family appearing on the ABC show "Wife Swap." If you ask me this is absolutely a publicity stunt. I think the family should be charged with the cost of the search and rescue effort, and if I were a resident of Colorado, or had a flight in or out of Denver International Airport yesterday, I would be PISSED at these knuckleheads, I'm just saying...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I got drunk, the Red Sox lost and my dog died, and no, this is not the chorus of a country song...

Our weekend started off with us driving thru the rain and darkness up to Bar Harbor for the annual Oktoberfest in Southwest Harbor. We got there around 9:30 and set up our tent in the rain, which is always fun. We got everything situated and ran into some people we had previously met at Oktoberfest a couple of years ago. Turns out they brought three kegs of homebrew with them, and what do you know, we finished them all off that night with them! At around 1 AM they kicked us out so they could rest up for the beer fest the next afternoon, and we all dropped like flies. The next morning consisted of a nice big breakfast, some games and 80's tunes around the campsite and some pregaming. Beer fest was a blast, and we ran into a handful of people we have met at various points, so it was also a good chance to catch up a little. Many sample sized beers were consumed and a great time was had by all, as was evident by Nichole being found sound asleep in the drivers seat of the car by 7 PM. This worked out well though, since we had packed up the tent and gear in preparation of our early morning departure for Boston.

Nichole woke up at 4 AM complaining of bed soars, which I'm sure was just pains from sleeping in the car. We brushed teeth and headed out of town, stopping in Portland for a quick breakfast and another nap before finishing our trip to Boston for the Red Sox playoff game. Once in Boston, we took up residence in the right field standing room area and enjoyed watching the Sox getting out to an early lead, before everything came crashing down around them in the 8th and 9th innings. Fenway Park went from rocking to silent in a matter of seconds, and everyone went home disappointed. We met up with a couple of friends after the game for a snack and some beers and got an extremely scary phone call.

At around 5 PM on Sunday, our dog Yawkey, who was staying with my parents, got himself all choked up, literally. As he usually does, he was destroying a rubber bone my parents had gotten for him. He was tearing it apart and swallowing a piece of it here and there. One of the pieces ended up lodged in his throat and blocked his airways. My father noticed him sort of limply fall to his side and panic set it. His eyes rolled back in his head and he officially stopped breathing. My father pried his mouth open and my mother started jamming her hand down his throat to try to remove the blockage. After a couple of attempts my mother called me in pure terror asking what to do. While on the phone I gave her the contact info for our emergency vet and suddenly Yawkey started breathing again! He was shaking really bad and completely disoriented, but started coming back to normal. He spent anywhere from 3 to 6 minutes without breathing. Within 20 minutes of this whole ordeal he was moving around and his tongue was hanging as it usually does. He seemed to be back to normal. What a scare this was! By the time we got to my parents house yesterday afternoon he was awfully excited to see us!

So, as you can see, it was a pretty eventful weekend. I'm disappointed beyond words that the Red Sox lost on Sunday, as we had tickets to a potential game last night, as well as tickets for a potential game 5 of the ALCS. I'm feeling alright about everything though, as we got ourselves much more sleep than I had anticipated and it feels good to have gotten home early than expected. The next couple of weekends shall be low key, spent close to home with Kerrigan and Yawkey, and I couldn't be happier, I'm just saying...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Flabby arms? Loose skin? Have I got a product for you!

Obviously, there have been some pretty incredible inventions over the years, from the wheel to the iPod, and everything in between. However, when speaking of amazing inventions, this one is far and away at the top of the heap! Many women find themselves with less time to get to the gym regularly, and they need a quick and easy way to tone their arms. Well, the product you need is here...

Wow, is this for real? I mean, I have seen a lot of funny ads before, but this is one of the most amazing commercials I have ever seen! I mean, did nobody notice the dirty connotation this product has connected to it? It instantly reminds me of the scene from Old School when Frank "The Tank" Ricard goes home to find his wife in the middle of a dirty class taught by Andy Dick.

Anyways, for those of you who are looking to tone your arms, check out their website. Order now, while supplies last, I'm just saying...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tiger town lost a great friend 10 years ago today

So much has changed in the last 10 years. I mean, think about it. Many of us have graduated high school and/or college, gotten married, gotten divorced, had children, started careers, fought in wars, run for office and even been on game shows. While so much has changed for all of us, one thing has remained the same, we never stop thinking about this day, 10 years ago, when our great friend Nate Burns passed away.

Now, it's easy, especially coming from a small town like Fort Fairfield, to call someone a friend, even if you didn't know them that well. Nate was different. He truly was friends with everyone. I was fortunate enough to have played sports with Nate. We ran track together, competing in most of the same events, as well as being half of the 4x100 meter relay team. We also played basketball and shared a love for our favorite team, the Boston Celtics. He and I would talk forever about the Celtics and what we thought they needed to do to get themselves better each year. We were pretty sure we could coach them back to a championship.

Nate's last day is something I will never forget, and I remember it often. It was a Tuesday and I was working at Hillside IGA bagging groceries when I heard what had happened. I called around to a few people to try to verify that the news was true, hoping that the rumors were wrong. When I confirmed it, I convinced my boss to let me out early and I raced home to meet up with some friends to reflect on what just happened. We were going to UMPI at the time, and it rocked the small campus there as well. I even had one professor who lived in Fort Fairfield that excused my buddy Matt and I from class in order to grieve and attend any services. I remember having lunch with Nate a week before at the campus center and we had arranged a big flag football game that upcoming weekend. I remember being confused, upset and in a state of shock over everything. I still find myself tearing up randomly when I hear an Ozzy song or see an old school Celtics video.

Nate was a great friend and a great young man. He won't just be remembered on October 5th, he is remembered each and everyday for all the joy he brought to his friends and family over the years. I think of you often Nate, and miss you everyday. Go Celtics! I'm just saying...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Back to the future, nah, more like ahead to the past...

There is nothing better than the 1980's. Big hair. Cheesey music. Beverly Hills Cop. Garbage Pail Kids. I mean, seriously, find me something better and I will probably just say "PASHAW". I'm completely obsessed with everything 80's right now, but more specifically the music. I've built up a good collection of tunes, somewhere around 200 different songs spanning the decade of decadence. I've read tons of "top" lists from all sorts of people, and it's interesting to get peoples takes on what was good and what was bad back then. I find it especially entertaining when people talk about how "poorly written" a song was, or "how especially cheesey" it is. Hi, that pretty much sums up music from the 1980's. Wasn't that kind of the point. Anyways, reading all these sites made me want to put my own list together, with a quick reason for why I selected these songs. My top 10 song list of the 80's look something like this...

10. Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give You Up

Now, I know what you are thinking, but hear me out. Just try playing this song without grinning. It's so bad you can't help but like it. Plus, this mashup is one of the most amazing things ever!

9. Skid Row - I Remember You

Ah yes, Skid Row. Power Ballads at their best. I love singing this, as loud as I can too.

8. David Lee Roth - Just Like Paradise

I was never huge on Van Halen, not that I didn't like them, I just didn't get way into them like some of my friends did. I did, though, enjoy some David Lee Roth. This was far and away one of my favorite songs.

7. Wang Chung - Everybody Have Fun Tonight

This song brings me back to my late grandmother's house, hanging out in my Uncle Joby's room, dancing around to this song. I vividly remember thinking this song was the coolest, back when I was my daughter's age.

6. Huey Lewis & The News - Hip to be Square

This bar band turned mainstream was a surprising favorite of mine. Not until I started putting my new playlist together did I realize how many Huey Lewis songs I liked. This just happened to be my favorite, by a smidge.

5. INXS - Devil Inside

Long before JD Fortune came around I was really into the old school INXS. They had a handful of really good tunes, but this one sticks out to me.

4. Living Colour - Cult of Personality

These guys rocked. I was obsessed with this song for a number of years, and still crank it every time I hear it.

3. Guns-n-Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine

Every list has to have at least one song by these guys. They were light years ahead of their time, and if not for Axl Rose being a complete whack job, would have ruled the charts for a much longer time. Name me a bad GNR song (pre Chinese Democracy, of course)... Can't do it, they ruled!

2. Michael Jackson - Billie Jean

Speaking of having multiple songs by at artist on every list. The King of Pop was in a category all by himself. Take away all the controversy and whackiness, and MJ was the most influential artist of the 80's. He put out hit after hit and will forever be the King of Pop.

1. Journey - Don't Stop Believin'

Not only the greatest song of the 1980's, it's the best song ever! Come on, play it and don't get excited, I dare ya. You cannot do it. You know the words, and you always crank it when it comes on. Best song ever, hands down.

Now, I had a handful of songs that were close, and could jump onto this list from time to time, depending on how I'm feeling. These 5 are right there too...

Survivor - Eye of the Tiger
Madonna - Open Your Heart
George Michael - Faith
Bon Jovi - Bad Medicine
Poison - Nuthin' But a Good Time

I want to hear your favorite songs of the 1980's. There are so many great (well, bad, let's be honest) songs I didn't mention. What does your list look like? Also, feel free to agree or disagree with my list. I'm just saying...