Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My very own anonymous letter to Governor LePage...

Dear Governor LePage,

First of all, I want you to notice that I addressed you with respect.  Do I feel as though you deserve my respect?  No, not at all, but you are the governor, so I will give you the respect a person in your position deserves.  You are a mere 90 days into your four year term, and you have gone out of your way to continuously disrespect the great people of this state.  Furthermore, I didn't vote for you.  In fact, if you ran 10 more times I wouldn't vote for you.  If you ran against a turd, I would vote for the turd.  All that being said, I will address you with respect.

I'm writing to you today to point out a few things.  I know that you are aware that you were elected with only 39% of the vote.  You don't need me to remind you of that.  I'm pretty sure you have heard everyone on television mention that at this point.  I mean, that is why you are doing some of what you are doing, isn't it?  To hear your name on tv.  What else would explain you picking some of these stupid fights?  Was it really necessary for you to remove a mural in the Department of Labor?  Absolutely not.  This was paid for by a federal grant, and depicted some pioneers in the history of Maine's LABOR movement.  Seems to be pretty fitting to me for it to be located at the Department of Labor.  If this mural was hung at the, say, "Department of Big Business and Corporate Interests, Including But Not Limited To Union Busting", then I would completely agree with you.  But, last I checked, this wasn't the case.  No matter how you try to justify this move, and no matter how much extra you are paying Dan Demeritt and Adrienne Bennett to agree with you, this is a giant slap in the face to many working people in Maine.  It's a slap in the face to those that worked so hard to ensure that generations after them would have safe working conditions, 40 hour work weeks and adequate breaks over the course of the work day.  You should try to work with both sides to make history in a positive way, not erase history in a negative way.

Next, I'd like to ask you to be honest with yourself, as well as the great people of the State of Maine.  We all realize that difficult decisions need to be made, and that you are not going to please everyone along the way, it's simply not possible.  However, one thing you could try is to, at the very least, pretend to understand where the other side of the equation is coming from.  Some tough cuts need to be made to the budget.  Some important programs may need to be cut, or at least scaled back.  However, mocking people isn't called for.  I know some people (cough, 39%) feel that having a "real person", someone that "tells it like it is", is just what this state needs, but a vast majority of us view things differently.  We expect more from our elected officials, especially when they are representing our great state, not only to the rest of the country, but to the world.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of The Daily Show, but I never want to see Maine mocked by Jon Stewart, that means we made headlines for all the wrong reasons.  I, and many others just like me, would love it if you stopped telling people to "kiss you butt" or to "go to hell".  We also find it rude that you would say,  "I'd laugh at them, the idiots. That's what I would do. Come on! Get over yourselves!", in response to someone suggesting they form a human chain in order to block the removal of the mural at the Labor office. I might agree with you that the suggestion was silly, but I'm not sure that, as governor, this should be your response of choice.  A governor should be a beacon of professionalism, especially when the livelihoods and futures of your constituents are at risk.

In closing, I realize that you enjoy hearing your name on television and reading your name in the headlines, otherwise you wouldn't be doing all of this.  I know you say that you don't read the papers, but let's be honest, you not only read them, you love any attention you are getting.  I know that you didn't get enough attention as a kid out on the mean streets of Lewiston, so you are attempting to make up for it later in life.  I get it, I really do.  However, my future, my child's future are in your hands right now, and you are fucking that up.  Pandering to your base at a time like this is absolutely uncalled for.  We have thousands and thousands of highly creative and smart people in this state that are struggling to survive because of high expenses and poor transportion opportunities.  This has nothing to do with unions.  This has nothing to do with whoopie pies or blueberry pies.  This has nothing to do with estate taxes.  This has nothing to do with murals at the Department of Labor.  This has to do with poor road conditions, lack of high speed rail, high energy costs and sky rocketing insurance rates.  These should be your focus in Augusta.  Fixing these problems will help open doors for the creative people to expand and hire.  Giving small business owners, who are the backbone of Maine, the ability to do what they do best will benefit every one of us. 

I live in Maine because I love it here.  It is a beautiful state, one that offers four great seasons and a wonderful array of enjoyable activities.  I have started a family here, and want nothing more than to start my own business here and see it grow and bring other people both joy as well as incomes.  I'm hopeful that you will take the right steps to keep this state great, but I have to be honest, I'm quickly losing hope.  It's not too late though, you can make things right, not just for me and my family, but for everyone in this great state.  Remember, there are 1.3 million people in this state, not just the 216,761 that voted for you. 

Kindest regards (but not really),

I'm Just Saying...   

Monday, March 28, 2011

Best Beer Bar in the world?!

According to Beer Advocate, a beer related publication that I consider to be top notch, Ebeneezer's Pub in Lovell, Maine is considered the absolute best beer bar in the world.  Not just in Maine, New England or even the United States, they say it's the best in the world.  Well, shit, we had to go check it out.  My buddy Eric decided that was where he wanted to go to for his birthday, so it was decided, we would check out this world renowned locale.  Saturday was the big day, and despite being on a pretty strict diet, we decided to break it for a chance to check out greatness.  The following is the story of our adventure to Lovell, and I do mean adventure.

We met up with the Flynn's in Windham, where we planned on caravaning up to Lovell, which is about 40 minutes out of Windham, just a short distance from Fryeburg.  Off we went, with thoughts of tasty beer and some fatty foods dancing in our heads (it had been a long week of fruits and veggies!).  We followed the Flynns, who had accidentally put in the wrong address, so we were sent a little of track in Bridgton.  No worries, we were able to figure out the error of our ways and got ourselves turned around before too long.  However, the road we took may have been the most dangerous road in the history of earth.  I'm pretty sure my knuckles are still bright white from gripping the steering wheel as hard as humanly possible, and our tires swore at me for a solid two hours when we got home.  There were curves in the road that were more than ninety degrees, and I'm not kidding.  That would normally be fine, but they sneak up you and the turns are completely covered in sand.  There was a brief moment where I thought the pucker brush was about to be our best friends, or our permanent resting place.  Once far enough away from the twisting and turning, we hit the road that led us into the big town of Lovell.  I think I have been on logging roads in the middle of the North Maine Woods that were smoother.  Picture yourself driving down a road that was haphazardly paved.  A little pavement here, some rocks there, a three foot wide washout over there, and another random strip of pavement.  There was absolutely no way to avoid the never ending trail of potholes. 

Once we found the hidden gem, we were extremely happy!  We survived the drive!  The pub is located on Kezar Falls Golf Course, hidden down a side street in the country.  From the outside, it was pretty unassuming, but had a cool screened in seating area when you enter the main entrance.  You enter to a small area, with maybe 6 tables, overlooking the golf course.  Behind a half way there is the bar, with 35 Belgian beers on tap, ranging from Allagash White, a local favorite, to a wide variety of hard to find beers from Europe.  The menu was almost identical to that of The Lion's Pride, its sister restaurant in Brunswick (and #4 on the list of best beer bars in the world).  The walls were adorned with lots of beeraphenalia from all over the world.  Even with all of this, something was missing to me.  It felt to much like a club house at a golf course.  It had that sort of feel to it.  Menu was good, both for beer and food, but I couldn't shake that feeling.  It reminded me too much of the place I frequented in high school and college for grilled cheese and Alexander Keith's Red Ale after a round of 18 with the buddies.  It was all I could think about. 

We had a good lunch and a couple of good, strong beers and made our way over the border to North Conway, New Hampshire for a little shopping with the kiddo.  Was it a good experience, sure, we had fun.  Was it worth the insane drive, maybe.  Is it the best beer bar in the world, I don't think so.  I'm not even sure it is the best beer bar in Maine.  I'd put The Lion's Pride, Novare Res and even the Great Lost Bear well ahead of it.  To me, it goes beyond the beer and food, and the feel of the place just didn't match what I imagine being the best of anything.  It was absolutely worth checking out, but in my opinion, if you want the same food and a better selection of beer, go to The Lion's Pride in Brunswick.  I'm just saying...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I signed up again, and this time, I have to do it...

Oh, Beach to Beacon, you have become my nemesis.  Last year, despite what some people think, I hurt myself playing softball about two months before the race and was unable to compete in it.  This year, the smack talk from the ladies has already started, and my best pal Eric is running, so I plan on not only running, but doing well.  I've also found out that a certain Junior is running the race, which REALLY makes me want to do well now.  In other words, I have no excuses.  Right?

Well, I have not started training yet.  In fact, I spent the better part of the winter eating my way to coach potato status.  So, as last weekend came and went, the better half and I decided it was time to cut the shit, and the lbs, and start down the road of, dare I say it, good health.  We have put ourselves on a strict diet of nothing but fruits, vegetables and high protein lean meats.  Our idea is to lose some weight first, then start running and adding more proteins and carbs then, but in complete moderation.  So far, I've actually seen the scale seem a little stressed out when I step on her in the morning.  In turn, she has been nicer to me.  It's amazing what happens when we eat better!

Now, for those of you that now me, I'm not a big fruit and veggie person.  My idea of a light, healthy snack is chocolate covered bacon.  Now, before you say anything, I would only have one piece, and the chocolate would have to be dark, obviously.  See, it's not so bad.  Except, I hear that it actually is bad.  This new diet has me feeling really good so far, and we are only 3 days in.  Do I spend half of the day convincing myself to eat that orange sitting on my desk, I sure do.  Does it taste good when I actually eat it?  You bet!  For me, it is completely mind over matter.  I'm a major sweet tooth person.  This will be tough, especially knowing we have a half dozen boxes of brand new Girl Scout cookies in the cupboard, but I'm fully on board with this new plan.  I'm quickly learning that as I get older, my metabolism is slowing down, and that doesn't bode well for my continued plan of seeing my toes. 

Now, as a quick warning to everyone out there, if you find me with a short fuse, I can explain.  I'm probably hungry.  If this happens, just throw an apple or a handful of strawberries in my mouth and tell me to shut up.  If that doesn't work, remind me that my old way of doing things causes a major case of Dicky-Do!  I'm just saying...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I have a great idea, let's start another war!

Ok, first of all, I think that is a terrible idea.  It's not a bad idea, it is just horrible.  I mean, we are simply not the world's police.  It's not our job to determine how the rest of the world should act.  Do I agree with how lunatic Gadhafi is treating his people?  Absolutely not.  Do I think the answer is to start dropping missiles on Libya, sure don't.  We are bleeding (no pun intended) money in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, and I would love to see that end too.  Spending money on wars that we have no business getting in the middle of is a fruitless endeavor, in my opinion.  Look around you, we have enough problems here, be it financially or otherwise.  Let's take care of our own first.  I know, what a novel idea!

In local news, Maine is now officially "Open For Business", as the lovely sign was put up, right under the current "Welcome To Maine: The Way Life Should Be" sign.  I'm excited, now everything is open 24 hours a day!  Oh, what's that, that isn't what it means?!  Damnit.  Yes, now I remember, it was Governor LePage's way of saying that Maine was a more business friendly state.  And to prove it, the Tea Party, who funded the new sign, purchased it from a company in Texas.  Great way to start supporting Maine business!

In 2008, a mural depicting the history of labor in Maine was erected at the Department of Labor headquarters in Augusta.  It measures about 36 feet long, and honors those that fought for workers rights in the state of Maine.  In addition, there are several names of rooms in the Labor building that are named after pioneers in labor, including Cesar Chavez.  Well, Governor LePage has demanded that the mural come down, because it is not in keeping with the department's pro-business goals and some business owners complained.  Hogwash!  It's another attempt by Lepage and his gang to slap unions and many of the hard working Mainers in the face.  The mural is paid for.  It is honoring the Maine labor movement, at the Department of Labor.  It's not anti business, and even if it was, it's not in the lobby of the Department of Business, so the reasoning is crap.  How much will it cost to remove and who is paying for it?  I think wanting the mural removed is a distraction from focusing on improving the Maine economy and wanting it removed will now consume resources that could be better spent working on positive solutions rather than on distractions such as this.

While I'm on my rant about the many things that are being done that don't actually promote business in Maine, Governor LePage will be starring in his own reality tv show on Time Warner Cable, called "Inside the Blaine House".  While this sounds completely riveting to me, I don't think it's his way of being open and transparent.  Something tells me it will be his chance to grandstand and have preplanned questions asked of him by people he knows and trusts.  Sounds more and more like this guy likes hearing his own voice, and now seeing his own face on tv can be added to that list.

Please, please, please, can we stop with the ridiculous bills and plans, and actually do things to help Mainer's out?!  I'm not asking for much here.  I would just like to see us all have a chance to work and improve our lives, you know, the whole "American Dream" thing everyone talks about.  Intentionally pissing the other side of the political aisle off isn't getting us anywhere.  Teachers aren't the problem.  Murals aren't the problem.  Let's get our collective shit together and move this great state forward, or we are all going down together.  I'm just saying...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hey Alice, this is one of those days I was always talking about...

Ever have "one of those days"?  You know, a day where staying in bed should have been your only option.  Well, today is the second such day for me.  I knew better, and still got up and came to work.  Awesome!  If all goes well, my ass will be tucked in nice and early this evening, and my daughter will by reading me a bedtime story instead of the other way around.  Anyways, have any of you heard about this...

Remember how the government reformed how the banks operated in an effort to protect us more?  They were supposed to do away with overdraft charges and things of that nature.  Well, the rat bastards in the banking industry have found new ways to make up for those charges, and it is hitting harder than before.  Before, in a typical month, we might incur one or two overdraft charges over the course of a month (I'm talking about at the office, over 40 or so bank accounts, with money constantly coming in and out), for a total of about $70 a month.  Now, those crooks are hitting us for everything under the sun.  You did a deposit with one of our tellers, we are going to charge you $2.00 per deposit.  Oh, you did an ATM deposit, we are going to charge you $1.75 for that.  What's that, you did a night drop deposit.  Well that's going to cost you $1.25.  They are now taking money out of your account when you put money into your account?!  How is that even legal?  I'm not complaining about the elimination of overdraft fees, that was one of the most backwards approaches ever.  Charging a person $35 for not having the money in their account isn't going to solve anything, they don't have the money!  How about just not letting it go through.  But now, what they are doing now is highway robbery.  We are paying in excess of $1000 a month in "analysis fees".  I guess you have to pay those big salaries and bonuses somehow, right?

The Maine Legislature is tossing around the idea of getting rid of bottle deposits in Maine.  You know, getting rid of a program that encourages us to all recycle our empty bottles and cans.  A program that keeps bottles and cans from completely littering the sides of the road, and employees about 1200 people at nearly 800 redemption centers around the state.  Another great move in the continuing effort to get more Mainers working, right?  No, not at all.  Not even close.  In fact, this doesn't really make any sense to me. 

Speaking of things that don't make sense, the state legislature is working on a bill that would loosen the seat belt law.  The proposal would alter the law so that you would not get pulled over for simply not wearing a seat belt, you would have to get pulled over for something else first.  What happened to click it or ticket?  Why not encourage everyone to be safer by threatening a $50 fine for not wearing a seat belt?  I know, I know, government intrusion is a terrible thing.  Big brother doesn't need to be all up in my business.  I've heard that way more than I ever thought possible.  However, I counter that with, when it is for the greater good, like protecting our citizens, why is it such a bad idea? 

Oh, and about the citizens of Maine, turns out they are really not being put first, ahead of politics.  Governor LePage has stated that "If that budget is altered it is not my budget, it is the Legislature's budget. If they alter the pension, if they alter the tax breaks, if they alter the welfare reforms, those are the show stoppers."  Quick note to Governor LePage, this isn't your budget, it is the State of Maine's budget.  You were elected by 38% of the state, but you are ultimately responsible for the well being of 100% of us.  If we are going to share in the sacrifice, then let's all share in the sacrifice, not just the poor and middle class.  I'm hopeful that house Republicans will stand up against Governor LePage, alongside Democrats and do what is right for the people of Maine, not corporations and out of state interests.

I'm going to play "Regulate" on iTunes on repeat, in honor of the late Nate Dogg, and slug through the rest of the day.  He changed the music world for me.  Regulate is still one of my top three favorite songs of all time.  Rest in peace Nate Dogg.  I'm just saying...

Friday, March 11, 2011

I need to ketchup! Sorry, I must be hungry, I mean catch up!

It's been a while since I last checked in, and a crap load of newsworthy things have happened.  I won't get into all the gossipy bullshit, though there is plenty of it.  No, I'm talking about the big stuff.  The meat and potatoes of the news world.  Here is my take on a few of the things going on in the world today...

The earthquake in Japan.  Wow.  One of the largest quakes in recorded history.  At the moment they are saying over 300 are dead and as many as 500 are missing.  Not only was the earthquake devastating, the ensuing tsunami that brought waves up to 23 feet high has been absolutely destroying many parts of Japan.  We have even felt the effects as far away as the entire West Coast of the United States.  I am praying for all of the people that are affected by this awful tragedy.

Governor Walker of Wisconsin passes a bill that strips public workers of nearly all collective bargaining rights.  In a move he has been dying to make, Walker has taken away the voice of many state workers, including teachers and public safety workers.  This was all done under the guise of balancing the budget, but let's be honest about something.  Union busting has nothing to do with balancing the budget.  If this was a financial issue, a dire move to help save the Wisconsin economy, he wouldn't have given tax breaks to large corporations at the same time, which he did.  This move, and we will see it happen across the country by other Republican governors, is a political move.  See, by busting up unions, Republicans are making an attempt to get rid of a group that typically backs Democrats, both with money and with votes.  This has nothing to do with balancing the budget.  It's another shot at the middle class, and is an attempt to take a shot at Democratic supporters.  Things are just getting started in Wisconsin, and the rest of the country will follow suit, just wait and see.

Charlie Sheen is crazy.  Not exactly a shocking development.  The level of crazy he has reached, however, is a little shocking.  He went from a bit odd straight to off his damn rocker crazy.  I'm sure high amounts of coke will do that to a person.  Fortunately, he has provided us all with tons of entertainment, and at the end of the day, he is WINNING!

During his campaign, Paul LePage, Governor of Maine, promised to run the "most open and transparent" administration in the history of Maine.  Well, turns out, that was just a line to help people rally behind him.  Governor LePage plans to form more advisory groups that will be exempt from Maine's freedom of information law, in addition to the business council he created by executive order last week.  That doesn't seem very open and transparent to me.  If we are talking about an Executive Session, that is different, but that is usually to talk about personnel issues, not statewide issues.  If people are meeting, and discussing information that can form and mold legislation, the citizens of Maine should have every right to either watch the meetings or read the transcripts.  Otherwise, I fear we are going down the path of back door deals and cronyism.  I don't care what past Governor's have done, or what Federal politicians are doing.  Governor LePage promised to be open and transparent, I want him to stick to his word.  If we are less than 3 months into his term, and he is already going against his word, we are in worse trouble than I thought.

Just a couple of things going on in the news today that I had some commentary on.  Much more to follow in the coming days.  Stay tuned as I give you my thoughts on the unfolding Lindsey Lohan scandal, Christina Aguilera's arrest for public intoxication, Newt Gingrich's past indiscretions and more WINNING from Charlie Sheen!  I'm just saying...