Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Once-young journalist traveled to Africa to cover humanitarian mission

[There are few opportunities for young newspaper journalists to work abroad, especially in this economy. Newspapers simply do not have the wherewithal to pay a journalist and provide them with all that is necessary to live and work in a foreign country. Wire services usually gather news from foreign lands. I was working for The Reporter, the newspaper in Vacaville, Calif., in the summer of 1994 when I received one of those rare – albeit very brief – opportunities. Vacaville is not far from Travis Air Force Base and the Air Force – especially prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – allowed journalists to travel with crews on humanitarian missions, training flights, and other exercises. It was a way for the Air Force to connect via journalists with local residents, many of whom were retired servicemen and women or family members of active and reserve servicemen and women. Reporter photographer Joel Rosenbaum and I traveled that summer with Air Force reserves crews transporting water purification equipment to help combat cholera and famine among the refugees spilling into Zaire because of ethnic cleansing in nearby Rwanda. Here are two stories and a column I wrote about that experience. The stories originally were published in The Reporter with photographs by Joel, but here I have included my own photos taken during our very brief stay in Goma. Also, the editor’s note at the top of the first story indicates that there would be more stories the following weekend. That did not happen, because of interrupted travel plans. Joel and I ended up in Europe for a few days longer than we expected with nothing about which to write or shoot photos. The next story was not published until the following week. The first story, by the way, was transcribed over phone lines from the airport in Mombasa, Kenya, to Stacy Wells, then a staff writer at The Reporter. Today, I could have transmitted the story in an instant via the Internet. – Keith Michaud]


Residents of makeshift villages gather around a U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy transport in Goma, Zaire, during the summer of 1994 to unload water purification equipment. Photo by Keith Michaud


Resisdents of nearby makeshift villages gather to watch water purification equipment unloaded from a U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy transport bringing water purification equipment to refugee camps near Goma, Zaire. Photo by Keith Michaud


July 28, 1994

Clashing with cholera

Travis delivery helps refugees in Zaire

(Reporter staff writer Keith Michaud and photographer Joel Rosenbaum accompanied Travis (Air Force Base) crews on their mission of mercy to Africa. Look for more of their reports this weekend in The Reporter. – Editor)


By Keith Michaud

Staff Writer

A C-5A Galaxy transport plane from Travis Air Force base delivered much-needed water purification equipment to Zaire on Tuesday, helping Rwandan refugees battle a deadly outbreak of cholera.

By Wednesday, the equipment was working and delivering purified lake water to thousands of refugees in camps near the border town of Goma.

The relief effort, however, was hampered by a lack of trucks to deliver water. United Nations officials were able to round up only two leaking, half-busted tanker trucks.

U.N. organizers, overwhelmed by the crisis, said they were searching for tanker trucks in Zaire and shipping in about 10 tankers from Uganda and Croatia, but were able to rent only a few from gasoline shipping companies Wednesday.

The Travis transport, manned by reserves from the 349the Airlift Mobility Wing, traveled for nearly 24 hours with at least three mid-air refuelings to deliver the water purification equipment and the seven-man crew from Portable Water Supply Systems. The Redwood City company set up an above-ground water system to pump 100,200 gallons of lake water every minute to eight water purifiers.

Company owner Frank Blackburn said he and his crew will use two miles of hose to bring water from Lake Kibu, near Goma. Water there has been fouled by dead bodies and human excrement, worsening the cholera epidemic.

Blackburn, a former San Francisco Fire Department assistant chief with 34 years experience in firefighting and disaster planning, said his company helped provide water during the Loma Prieta earthquake and the Oakland Hills firestorm.

“This one is different because there’s a lot of people dying over here,” he said, aboard the C-5A.

Blackburn’s son, Matthew, is with the crew.

“For him, it’s a workshop,” Blackburn said of his son, a University of California, Davis, student studying international relations.

Hundreds of refugees, French airmen, and U.N. representatives greeted the transport when it landed at the now-busy airport in Goma. Children scattered from the runway as the huge jet touched down.

Not far away from where the plane was unloaded were two bodies and piles of rocks some said where graves. A member of the U.S. military assessment team said bodies also were outside the airport entrance, mostly because the airport is between the contaminated lake and a refugee camp.

“Every day, a thousand more dead,” said French Air Force Capt. Jacques Albert Roussel. “It is terrible. In front of the (airport) there are dead.”

Roussel and other French airmen have been in Zaire for a month. Roussel said the relief effort was a good thing.

“It’s difficult, but a beautiful mission because we do it for them,” said Roussel, pointing to the hundreds of refugees gathering to see the transport.

As the crew finished unloading equipment, a funeral procession moved from nearby huts, along the edge of the runway, behind palm trees. Children begged for money, business cards, to have their photograph taken, or anything American.

U.S. Army Maj. Guy Shields, part of the military assessment team at Goma, said the purification equipment delivered Tuesday is much needed. “Those are going to make a big dent.”

Shields said the local government and humanitarian groups were cooperating with the advance assessment team. He said one of the early problems was getting aircraft unloaded at the airport; at first planes were unloaded by hand.

“The biggest thing here was to ease up on the congestion at the air field,” said Shields. “And the next thing was to bring in water.”

U.S. Air Force Capt. David Burgess was helping deliver Red Cross supplies to Nairobi, Kenya, when he asked if someone was needed to assess the airport in Goma. That was seven days ago.

After unloading the C-5A with a forklift, Burgess estimated he had unloaded 300 tons during the previous 30 hours from all sorts of aircraft arriving from different countries.

A tired Burgess said, “I’ve seen the refugee camps. I’ve seen the mass graves. I’ve seen funeral processions like the one we just saw. We need more help here.

“The bodies stacked like cord wood. … It really gets to you.”


Two children ham it up for journalists from the United States. Journalists were told that the rock mounds on which the children were playing and in the background were burial mounds. Photo by Keith Michaud


A funeral procession moves near where a C-5 Galaxy transport is being unloaded of water purification equipment at the airstip in Goma, Zaire, during the summer of 1994. Photo by Keith Michaud


August 2, 1994

Grim images of refugees haunt helpers

(Today’s edition of The Reporter features the efforts of staff writer Keith Michaud and photographer Joel Rosenbaum. The pair accompanied Travis (Air Force Base) crews on a mission of mercy as they delivered water purification equipment to a Rwandan refugee camp in Goma, Zaire. – Editor)

By Keith Michaud

Staff Writer

The images of Goma, Zaire, go beyond frightening. The go beyond haunting.

On a hill overlooking the airstrip, two small bodies lay side-by-side, their faces and most of their thin bodies covered with a cloth.

A small child – perhaps 5 years old – sat on one of the nearby rock piles in a makeshift graveyard with graves of all sizes, from adult to small child.

As the first of the U.S. Air Force transports finished unloading water purification equipment a week ago for thousands of Rwandans dying from cholera and other diseases, a funeral procession came from behind a dirt berm nearly concealing shanty huts.

The procession, complete with 100 or more singing mourners, made its way around one end of the runway where the C-5A Galaxy jet from Travis Air Base in Fairfield was being unloaded. It then moved into a grove of nearby palm trees.

Despite the muggy haze, Mount Kilimanjaro could be seen from miles away, a backdrop to the airport, the camps and the horror.

Relief workers said bodies of more dead were along the road just outside the airport gate, the same road used by refugees to travel from the camps to Lake Kivu, which is contaminated by dead bodies and human waste.

These, by far, are not the worst scenes from the tragedy that has come from a Rwandan civil war that has already killed hundreds of thousands and left tens of thousands dying in refugee camps.

But each image of death, each image of suffering, each image of the atrocities in Rwanda and surrounding countries adds to a pile of horrific woes stacked far higher than stones piled on top of the graves.

Air Force Capt. David Burgess arrived in Goma, Zaire, five days before the Travis jet.

Flying humanitarian aid to Nairobi, Kenya, Burgess volunteered to fly to the tiny airstrip to assess the airport for the expected flights bring aid to the ravaged countries.

I’ve seen the refugee camps. I’ve seen the mass graves. I’ve seen funeral processions like the one we just saw. We need more help here,” said Burgess, weary from nearly single-handedly unloading transport aircraft early last week with a lone forklift.

Other transports, he said, were unloaded by hand.

“The bodies stacked like cordwood. … It really gets to you,” he added.

Hundreds of refugees gathered around the Travis jet, making it difficult for Burgess to unload. The onlookers, mostly small boys and men, crowded in on the jet, its Air Force reserve crew and media representatives accompanying the humanitarian mission.

The men, speaking broken English and passable French, asked for help, any help. The mostly begged for money.

The children also begged for money, but some were happy just to have their photograph taken. Some children wearing little more than rags walked arm-in-arm, apparently with no surviving adults to supervise them.

It is estimated that some 2 million Rwandans left their homes and their crops to flee to Zaire, and hundreds of thousands of others fled to Tanzania, Burundi and Uganda.

By the end of the week, many refugees began returning to their homes despite the continued threat of violence there. Relief workers were trying to set up food stations along the road back to Rwanda to encourage refugees to return home and away from the deadly camps.

The suffering prompted a U.S.-led rescue effort on a massive scale. The U.S. military called upon reserves – its “weekend warriors” – for a peaceful mission.

The C-5A Galaxy carrying water purification equipment from a Redwood City company, Portable Water Supply System, was flown nearly 24 hours straight from Travis Air Force Base to the airport in Goma, Zaire. The flight, because of its length, required twice the normal crew from the 349th Air Mobility Wing and three mid-air refuelings.

Now flights are taking off from military bases in Europe on their way to Africa.

One of the pilots, Lt. Col. John Jackson of Benicia, has been in the reserves at Travis the past 15 years, with 10 years active duty before that. Jackson has flown scores of humanitarian and emergency missions, but delivering the water purification equipment had a special meaning.

“You couldn’t get much more humanitarian than that,” said Jackson. “We want to help provide a safe water supply.”

Portable Water Supply System was up and running within 24 hours, helping provide hundreds of thousands of gallons of drinking water. With more equipment expected, the water was but a fraction of what was needed and relief workers were unable to get much of the water to the refugees because of leaky tankers.

“It’s much more satisfying to do these types of missions,” said Jackson, who is a Hawaiian Airlines pilot away from the reserves. “It’s nicer to try to save somebody than it is to go to war with somebody.”

Jackson’s co-pilot, 1st Lt. Greg Chrisman of Burlingame said, “From a personal level, it’s pretty easy to read a newspaper or watch TV and see what’s happening. … I don’t even think we can imagine the severity of the situation.

“When they called and said they needed people, that was part of my commitment (to the Reserves). I wanted to go,” said Chrisman, who flies for Southwest Airlines.

Jackson and Chrisman over the years have flown missions to Desert Storm and Somalia, and have helped relief efforts after hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Tech. Sgt. Alice Munoz, of Vacaville, has more than 14 years in active and reserve duty. A correctional officer at California State Prison, Solano in Vacaville, Munoz is a flight engineer.

Except for the flight surgeon, she was the only woman on the reserve crew flying the equipment to Goma.

“I’m very patriotic,” said Munoz, “so whatever the Air Force has for me, I’m willing to help out.

I treat all missions the same way because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Munoz was not the only crew member from Vacaville. Lt. Col. Phillip P. Blackburn, Mast Sgt. Wendell K. Asato, and Staff Sgt. Roderick J. Rodda, all of Vacaville, were also on the crew, with Staff Sgt. Robert T. Selmer of Fairfield.

The crew members mentioned that their employers willingly allowed them to take off time for the mission, mostly because of the images shown over the past weeks.

“I think they were more excited about it than I was,” Munoz said of her supervisors at the prison. “I think they know what’s going on over (in Rwanda and Zaire).”


[The following is a column I was allowed to write at The Reporter after I returned. I believe it was published on or about the same time as the story immediately above, but I cannot find the date on the clipping I have of the column. This column was written prior to being given a regular weekly column at The Reporter. – KM]


Children from nearby makeshift villages play on and near burial mounds as a C-5 Galaxy transport is unloaded of water purification equipment at the airstrip in Goma, Zaire, during the summer of 1994. Photo by Keith Michaud


Unshakeable images

By Keith Michaud
Staff Writer
It’s hard to shake the things you see in Goma, Zaire.

A week back from the trip with an Air Force Reserve flight to a tiny airstrip to deliver water purification equipment, I still don’t sleep as well, eat as well or think as well as I did before visiting that place.

Maybe it’s jet lag. Maybe it’s the malaria pills I must take for another couple of weeks. Maybe it’s just what I saw there.

Even though it was just an African airport and not the disease plagued refugee camps, it changed my perspective on the world and what’s important.

We Americans are quick – too quick – to complain about the very little of things. We complain if we don’t have clean underwear. We complain if a flight home is not on time. We complain about being a couple bucks sort.

What do Rwandan refugees have to complain about?

They have life and death. Lately, they’ve had mostly death.

When all the bodies are totaled, there could be 750,000 to 1 million dead between the civil war in Rwanda and the disease in refugee camps in neighboring countries. Many of those camps are around Goma.

There’s a surreal quality to the Goma airstrip. As the C-5A Galaxy from Travis Air Force Base came in low for the landing, young children scurried out of the jet’s path, many knocked over by the wash. It’s a little game they play in Goma.

A fence of rolled barbed wire goes around a least part of the airfield. But there are large holes in the fence and it’s fairly easy for refugees camped not far away to make it to the end of the runway to see the big jet as it is being unloaded.

Americans complain about being overweight and being unable to stick to diets. There were no overweight people at the Goma airstrip. There were a few bloated stomachs, though.

The airstrip there is in a bit of a basin with patches of green and lush hills nearby. Mount Kilimanjaro from miles away peers down through the thick, hazy African sky.

Just beyond the rolled barbed wire were two thin bodies, barely covered with a cloth. Refugees from nearby shanty camps walked by with bundles heaped high on their heads; most barely looked at the bodies. To them, the bodies were just two more of so many.

And just beyond were more signs of death in Goma: stones piled up for graves of all sizes. Children play among the piled stones.

As the crew finished unloading the huge jet, a funeral procession went by. More death.

It’s not difficult to imagine the bodies. U.S. and French military officers talked about the road just outside the airport. Men hardened by training, expectations and experience, they still become choked up when they talked about bodies stacked like cordwood.

But among the images of death, there are still those glimmers of hope. The water purification equipment was up and running within 24 hours. It was enough to give only a small portion of the refugees clean water, but it was a start.


Two children walk down the runway at the airport in Goma, Zaire, during the summer of 1994. Photo by Keith Michaud


And children still play in Africa. They still walk arm-in-arm. They still mug it up for a camera. Children die in the refugee camps, but children are children and they play until they are too ill to play.

It’s not the Africa I saw as a kid in Tarzan movies. It’s an Africa that likely will continue tearing itself apart with tribal wars – wars that will continue to leave hundreds of thousands of people vulnerable.

News stories compared the death and living conditions to hell and the first days of the Apocalypse. That seems close to the truth.

The author was a staff writer for The Reporter when this column was published.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Maine stuff in my California apartment No. 6

Here's more Maine stuff in my California apartment -- a Fryeburg Academy sweatshirt. It was a gift from my nephew Max and niece Sophie.

Today’s photo is of a Fryeburg Academy sweatshirt I received as a present from my nephew Max and niece Sophie. The long-term plan is for Max and Sophie to attend Fryeburg Academy, a private preparatory school located in Fryeburg, Maine, the White Mountains. I say “long-term” since they are not quite old enough yet to attend.
Fryeburg has a long and rich history. John Hancock – yeah, a signer of the Declaration of Independence – signed the charter in 1792 and Daniel Webster was a headmaster of the school.

Here’s Fryeburg Academy’s mission from from the school’s website:

“Fryeburg Academy is an independent secondary school that serves a widely diverse population of local day students and boarding students from across the nation and around the world. The Academy believes that a strong school community provides the best conditions for learning and growth. Therefore, we strive to create a supportive school environment that promotes respect, tolerance, and cooperation, and prepares students for responsible citizenship. Within this context, the Academy’s challenging and comprehensive academic program, enriched by a varied co-curriculum, provides the knowledge and skills necessary for success in higher education and the workplace.”

And here’s a link for the school’s history.

This is an occasional multipart series of photos of things related to Maine that can be found in Keith Michaud’s California apartment. All photos in this series are shot by and are the property of Keith Michaud.

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Eight months behind on rent, Diva’s in Bangor faces eviction | Bangor Daily News

Eight months behind on rent, Diva’s in Bangor faces eviction - Bangor Daily News

Why Is Maine’s moose lottery and hunt disappearing? | DownEast.com

Why Is Maine’s moose lottery and hunt disappearing? | DownEast.com

Maine ranks 29th in national obesity study | Bangor Daily News

Maine ranks 29th in national obesity study - Bangor Daily News

Maine heating oil prices hold steady | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine heating oil prices hold steady The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Mainers full of gusto for wind power, survey finds | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Mainers full of gusto for wind power, survey finds The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine pair to unveil 'rocket car' on Letterman | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine pair to unveil 'rocket car' on Letterman The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Monday, June 28, 2010

Whoopie pies becoming a West Coast sensation | SFGate.com

The whoopie pie has made it to the West Coast! But Mainers had it first!

Whoopie pies becoming a West Coast sensation | SFGate.com

Before Dr. McDreamy, there was a Brat Packer

The most popular actor to come from Maine in some time is Patrick Dempsey, who plays Dr. Derek Shepherd, aka Dr. McDreamy, on “Grey’s Anatomy.” He was born in Lewiston and grew up in Bucksfield, according to Wikipedia and The Internet Movie Database.

Anyway, a while before Dempsey became Dr. McDreamy, there was another actor from Maine people were talking about. He is the subject of the DownEast.com trivia question for today. I knew the answer, by the way.

What Brat Pack actor was born in Portland and starred in “The Breakfast Club?”

Answer

Judd Nelson

Maine DEP sending 2 skimmers, crew to Gulf | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine DEP sending 2 skimmers, crew to Gulf The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Solloway: Field of dreams – circa 1860s

Old-time baseball players relive
game the way it was played in
pastoral America of 150 years ago

FREEPORT - The field was freshly mowed but no one had collected the clumps of grass clippings. Mosquitoes swarmed as Mark Rohman paced off the diamond to help set the bases. Ballists loosened their arms while rooters spread blankets or placed chairs for good sight lines.
Troubadors strolled and youngsters darted. Vendors prepared to sell beer, kettle corn, ice cream and hot dogs. Umpire Jeff Peart, so dignified in a black frock coat, dazzling white shirt and gray, bushy beard, called the two teams together Sunday.

It was time to play old-time baseball, to relive the America of 150 years ago. The men who are the Essex Base Ball Club of Danvers, Mass., took the field, 100 yards or so from the simple white house on Pettengill Farm.

The players of the Dirigo Vintage Base Ball Club of Augusta -- or ballists, as they were called in the 1860s -- hefted long, narrow bats and waited their turn to strike. "I love baseball and I love history," said Rohman, a Civil War re-enactor. He organized the Dirigo side five years ago after researching everything from the rules of the period, the uniforms and the terminology.

Click on the link for the rest of this story by Steve Solloway in the Portland Press Herald.

Finding truck moves slaying probe forward | Bangor Daily News

Finding truck moves slaying probe forward - Bangor Daily News

Friday, June 25, 2010

Coffeehouse observation No. 159

A slight bit of weirdness in the coffeehouse the past two days. Yesterday, on my semi-regular fitness walk, I tripped slightly on a cracked sidewalk and a fellow walking out of the park shared a laugh about it and said something such as “Well, I’m not the only one who is not perfect.”

He then proceeded to tell me – for at least five minutes – about the recent surge in crime in the neighborhood surrounding American Legion Park in central Stockton, Calif.

I had never seen the guy before, but I saw him again later at the coffeehouse, which is a pretty healthy walk from American Legion Park.

And then today I went to the bank to deposit a check and spotted a guy in line. I envied him for the nice green tropical shirt he was wearing.

Later in the morning he happened to come into espresso for a beverage.

Just weird that sort of thing happened two days running. I wonder who I might see for the first – and second – time tomorrow.

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 158

Three different people in the span of an hour have brought their dogs into the coffeehouse, including a Chihuahua with the heart of a Rottweiler. I love dogs, yes, I do. But not with my coffee.

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

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Stumped by a DownEast.com trivia question – again

OK, so I was stumped by today’s DownEast.com trivia question.
And I’m a tiny bit embarrassed by that since I grew up in the Maine North Woods and I should have known better. Here it is:

What's a Bangor Tiger?

Answer

It's a traditional name for a skillful competitor in the sport of log-rolling (birling). The name was given to Penobscot river-drivers in the nineteenth century.
I’ll remember it now, you can be sure of that.

Nurse’s aide sees no heroics in her actions | Bangor Daily News

Nurse’s aide sees no heroics in her actions - Bangor Daily News

Now on iTunes: Acadia National Park | Bangor Daily News

Now on iTunes: Acadia National Park - Bangor Daily News

State police seek help with triple homicide | Bangor Daily News


This is similar to the pickup Maine State Police are searching for in connection with a triple homicide in southern Aroostook County.

AMITY, Maine — Tips from the public could greatly assist investigators in solving a triple homicide at a trailer on U.S. Route 1 in which two men and a 10-year-old boy were stabbed to death, Maine State Police said Friday.

After a late-morning meeting among detectives at the Houlton barracks, state police Lt. Gary Wright said public involvement could be “huge” in helping authorities solve the crimes.

Evidence Response Team investigators continued on Friday to pore over the trailer where the bodies of Amity residents Jeffrey Ryan, 55, his son Jesse Ryan, 10, and Jason Dehahn, 30, were found at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. The homicides most likely occurred in the early morning hours Wednesday, state police said.

The evidence response team at the scene on Friday appeared to collect several pieces of evidence from the driver’s side floor of a tan car Ryan owned that was parked outside of his trailer.

Police have received more than two dozen telephone calls reporting sightings of a blue-and-silver 1989 Ford F-150 pickup truck with license plate 4155RY missing from the home, but none that have led to the pickup, Wright said.

The truck has white-colored wheels in the front and silver in the back, and has orange running lights on top of the cab just above the windshield.

State police have posted a photo of a similar truck on the state of Maine and state police websites. Anyone who has seen the truck should call the Houlton barracks at 532-5400 or 911 on a cell phone.

Click on the link for the rest of the story by Jen Lynds and Nick Sambides Jr. of the Bangor Daily News.

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Central Maine Power customers to pay more | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Central Maine Power customers to pay more The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine police search for clues in triple slaying | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine police search for clues in triple slaying The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

A place where peace is possible | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

A place where peace is possible The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Click on the link below for the slideshow:

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid81512752001?bctid=102731507001

Here's another story on the camp opening:

Seeds of Peace camp opens | Lewiston Sun Journal

Feds earmark $20M for deepwater wind power research | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Feds earmark $20M for deepwater wind power research The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Moose takes a dip at York beach | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Moose takes a dip at York beach The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Maine stuff in my California apartment No. 5


Two Maine magnets on my California frig.

This is an occasional multipart series of photos of things related to Maine that can be found in my California apartment. Today’s photo is of two refrigerator magnets. (Hey, they can’t all be grand.)

The one on the left is a miniature potato bag. (Fear not, no potatoes were harmed in the making of this blog.)

Potato farming is big in Maine. It was even bigger when I was a kid, I believe. I’m pretty sure farmers have moved to other crops such as sugar beats and soybeans over the years. My Mom sent me the potato bag magnet years and years ago in a Christmas or birthday package.

The other magnet is of Nubble Light in York, Maine. I know I didn’t visit Nubble Light or purchase the magnet and have no idea how I came to have the magnet. I have had it for years; it used to hang from a metal light shade above my desk when I worked at The Reporter in Vacaville, Calif. Not sure why I keep it around; it has no sentimental value, except perhaps because it is something from Maine. Well, something made in China from Maine.

This is an occasional multipart series of photos of things related to Maine that can be found in Keith Michaud’s California apartment. Keith Michaud shot today’s photos.

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Floridians protest 'Mouse moochers' from Maine | Bangor Daily News

Floridians protest 'Mouse moochers' from Maine - Bangor Daily News

Calif. pot clinic eyes Brewer | Bangor Daily News

Calif. pot clinic eyes Brewer - Bangor Daily News

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Well, guys, look who's on Page 1 | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Well, guys, look who's on Page 1 The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Coffeehouse observation No. 157

“Burn, burn, burn, that ring of fire, that ring of fire. …” The baristas at empresso are playing a little Johnny Cash for background music. Cool.

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

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Happy Father's Day

I'm hanging out with Dad at the beach. It has to be 1963 or '64.

For some reason, this is the only photo of my father I have stored no my computer and I'm away from my scanner just now so I cannot post another. This is a photo of my Dad and me on a beach somewhere. It has to be about 1963 ro 1964 because, well, the little guy he's hold is me and I'll be turning 48 on Monday.


Dad died about 18 years ago, if my cyphering is correct, but I still think of him often.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Shallow Labor Pool | Bangor Daily News

Shallow Labor Pool - Bangor Daily News

Maine's bears are thriving, study shows | Bangor Daily News

Maine's bears are thriving, study shows - Bangor Daily News

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State budget year to end with $50 million surplus | Bangor Daily News

State budget year to end with $50 million surplus - Bangor Daily News

Contest winner gives away his Father's Day prize | Bangor Daily News

Contest winner gives away his Father's Day prize - Bangor Daily News

Being a father, a ‘hero’ | Bangor Daily News

Being a father, a ‘hero’ - Bangor Daily News

Baldacci promotes parks for Father's Day | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Baldacci promotes parks for Father's Day The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Giving China a taste of Maine | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Giving China a taste of Maine The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Trader Joe's moves a step closer | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Trader Joe's moves a step closer The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Nemitz: Maine cook serves with pride in Afghan hills | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Nemitz: Maine cook serves with pride in Afghan hills The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Coffeehouse observation No. 156

You gotta love it when the barista starts your drink even before you’ve made it across the parking lot and into the coffeehouse. Thank you Exotic Java!

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Remembering just how very important fishing is to me and ME: Part 2

This nostalgic image on an L.L. Bean note card illustrates the way fishing can influence a family culture and legacy. If not, it certainly provides for a lifetime of memories.

It takes very little effort to recollect the thrill of catching a rainbow trout or call to mind the aroma of the day’s catch being pan fried over a crackling campfire. Those childhood memories are as much a part of me as is my DNA.

There is much I recall about fishing in my youth. The excitement of catching the first fish of an outing. The delight of catching the largest fish of the day. The satisfaction of catching the biggest stringer or filling the largest creel. The sting of failing to catch anything accept a hook on a sunken stump. The smell of bog and Woodsmen bug repellant. The feel of bait in my fingers. The buzz of mosquitoes and black flies in my ears.

These are among the things I recall most.

The memory of my first fishing experience as a child is lost to me now, however. I suppose I must have started fishing more than 40 years ago and I’m sure my father or other male relative mustered up the patience to take me to Portage Lake or a nearby stream to drown my first worm. And I do not recall catching my first fish, although I’m sure someone must have helped me reel in the catch.

I remember as a child using an old casting reel and rod my father had once used. The brand name is lost with time, but I seem to recall that the rod itself was burgundy in color and the reel likely was aluminum.

I don’t think I ever caught a fish with that rod. I was a little impatient to be drowning worms without instant gratification, so I often turned my attention to skipping stones or wading in the frigid water or running in the nearby forest.

I recall rushing through chores so that I could run to a spot under the crab apple tree that grew just beyond our yard. There I would use my father’s old folding Army shovel in search of worms, the bait of choice when I was a child. Actually, there was little “choice” in it as worms were the only bait we used.

After rushing through chores and to dig worms, I might jump on my bicycle and ride down the hill to the lake in a too-often fruitless attempt to catch something.

Later, fishing became an activity that helped mark various periods in my life – fishing in the streams, rivers, lakes and ponds of Maine, surf fishing in North Carolina, going after trout throughout Northern California and in the Sierra Nevada, and fishing for salmon from the deck of a sailboat while using my own unique method.

And, after all that, this is something I simply know about fishing – people who fish are better for it. Fishing can mend fences and build bridges. Fishing can create and strengthen personal relationships. Fishing can add to family culture and legacy. Fishing can teach an appreciation for nature and patience and tenacity and hope. Fishing is so much more than a sport and so much more than a way to provide food.

Camping and fishing for a lifetime

A few years ago L.L. Bean, the outdoors outfitter based in Freeport, Maine, produced a set of note cards and on the cover of each was a nostalgic image highlighting outdoor activity. I have gone through the box of note cards except for one and it shows a father carrying two fishing rods, a stringer of fish, and an exhausted child. Mother, hands on hips, seems a tad upset that Dad has kept Junior out too long fishing.

It is an image of a simpler time. The memories of the fishing experience will far outlast the momentary wrath of a concerned mother. And father and son will experience far more fishing experience over the course of their lives.

I remember as a fairly young guy – perhaps about the age of the youngster on the L.L. Bean note card – piling into the family car with my parents and kid sister to go to “the big city” of Presque Isle. We went to a Zayre’s department store – or it could have been a Kmart by then, I’m not entirely sure – to buy a green canvas tent, a Coleman’s white gas stove, and other camping and fishing gear.

I’m pretty sure we went off the very next day to accompany family friends, the Cormiers, into the North Woods of Maine, a vast patch of lush greenery. Some of what makes up the North Woods very probably has never been seen by man.

It was the first camping trip for my sister and me and we were tingling with excitement for the adventure.

Our father loaded the gear into the car – I think my folks had a very red two-door Chevrolet Chevelle at that time – and followed the Cormier’s light blue Chevrolet Bel Air station wagon loaded with Leo and Bea Cormier and at least most of their pack of children. I don’t recall this for sure, but the car probably towed or carried Leo’s small fishing boat filled with gear.

We followed them down the south end of Portage Lake and turned off the pavement to a dirt road and passed a pulp mill just outside of town before reaching a gate. I’m pretty certain Seven Islands Land Company in Bangor owned or managed the land so it operated the gates where for a few bucks you could purchase a permit for entry into the privately owned timber region.

But it wasn’t a particularly secure gate – no barbed wire, electrification, or gun towers here. As I recall, after a certain hour, the gate was thrown open with the idea that whoever went through at night when the gate was left open would stop off on the return trip to settle up for the cost of the permit. And, as I recall, the seasonal job of manning the gates usually went to a local resident who typically knew just about everyone in town.

It was as much a public relations job as it was a job of collecting money for the permits, which probably never cover the cost of the gatekeepers’ salaries and maintenance costs.

While this photo was taken in the winter, it does illustrate just how high logging trucks in Maine's North Woods are piled.


This photo of a logging siding shows the scale of the dirt roads used in Maine's North Woods. This photo and the one immediately above were taken by Diana Michaud.


Beyond the gate the dirt roads were not bad, considering. The land company and the various timber ventures worked to keep the roads good enough to keep a steady flow of trucks loaded high with pine, spruce and fir logs moving out of the deep woods and to pulp and timber mills. Today, that activity has slowed to a trickle.

When we weren’t driving by landings that stretched beyond the next bend in the road and piled two stories high or higher with freshly cut logs, we were driving through incredibly thick forests.

And eastern forest isn’t what people in the West might think of when their mind turns to forestland. Redwood, Douglas fir and other western trees seem to grow broader and taller, but the forests are usually less densely packed. In the North Woods, pine, spruce and fire grow very nearly in a thicket. A person could walk just a few yards into the forest and then not see the road or opening he or she had just left. Truly thick.

Why go into the woods when you lived on a lake?

Some might ask, “Why leave one lake – Portage Lake – to go fishing at another body of water?” A couple of things come into play here. First, while so-called “staycations” have been pretty popular in recent years – you can get a lot of things done, including racking up rest – it really wasn’t a vacation back then unless you went somewhere. And camping was an affordable option for families.

Second, Portage Lake is a shallow lake and a lake whose shores for years hosted various mills. Waste from those mills and the vacation and resort cabins later built there went into the lake. The water was not particularly hospitable to trout and other species native to Maine.

For that and other reasons, Portage Lake was more of a starting-off point for hunting and fishing lodges deeper in the North Woods. Jimmy Stewart and Jack Dempsey, among others, have flown into Portage Lake via seaplane on their way to finer fishing.

However, my mother recently told me that there have been some efforts to restore trout and salmon to the lake and the Fish River system. I find that encouraging.

Where was I? Oh, camping and fishing …

Usually on these camping trips we would stop at a picnic area at a bridge over the Fish River just upstream from the Fish River Falls. There was a small pond upstream from the bridge and a trail that went downstream along the river to the falls and slightly beyond. I remember running down that trail to get to just below the falls. If I recall correctly, the falls weren’t very tall. More of a whitewater rapid, really. I’m guessing an experienced rafter or kayaker might have made it down the falls quite easily and been disappointed with the lack of challenge.

After a quick stop for lunch or to fish briefly in the river or in the pond, we’d drive on until we rounded a bend and down a slight incline until the thick forest opened up to a camping ground across the dirt road from Perch Pond. We kids usually got out of most of the drudgery of setting up the camp and were allowed to run off, either into the forested hill or with assorted fishing gear to the stream-fed pond. Once there we would – while trying not to hook onto the friend standing near us – cast into the water in an attempt to catch trout. If we were lucky, we’d catch a handful of the tasty fish for dinner or the next day’s breakfast.

After fishing, we children might hike around to the downstream end of the pond to look at the beaver works. If the older Cormier children were around, they might take us by boat to the dam. Beavers over the years had constructed quite a dam and it was always interesting to see what new addition had been raised and whether we might be able to catch a glimpse of the buck-toothed contractors.

To this day I can picture that pond and the surrounding area, the way a stream bisected the campground and how the outlet of that stream was the location from where we usually cast from shore to fish. I recall an old log or two where I was shown for the first time how to clean a fish after catching it. I remember the black, boggy mud near the water’s edge. I remember the steep trail behind the campground. I’m not sure if that campground is still there; I hope it is so other youngsters can learn to fish and be outdoors.

‘Secret’ fishing holes are the best

I’m not sure how we stumbled onto one fishing hole not too far from the campground. I think Leo Cormier must have known about it. We would drive a short distance from the camp, get out of the vehicle, and hike down through the woods to a slow-moving and meandering stream with large pools where brook trout collected. The water was so very clear you could easily see to the stony bottom and the fish floating in the lazy current.

We would cast into the water and if we were lucky we would fill our fishing creels in an hour with very tasty fish.

Of course, part of the problem with fishing that hole – besides battling the brush just to get there and battling the blackflies and mosquitoes just to keep your own blood – was that brook trout can be on the smallish side. We probably threw back more than we kept.

I’m not sure if that fishing hole was a complete secret, but I would like to think that very few people knew about it then or know about it now.

Floating down the Allagash

We had camped along the Allagash Wilderness Waterway several times over the years, usually with relatives. My mother grew up in St. Francis, Maine, just down the road from the town of Allagash near where the Allagash River pours into the St. John River, which downstream becomes the northern border between Maine and Canada. Much of my mother’s side of the family continues to live in the greater Fort Kent-St. Francis-Allagash metropolitan region. (By “metropolitan region” what I really mean is a collection of small cities and towns that are home to some of the very best people on Earth.)

The Allagash Wilderness Water is a wonderful north-flowing waterway and well worth protecting.

Somewhere along the line, my parents decided it was time for a canoeing trip down the Allagash Wilderness Waterway before too many people from away learned of the pristine swath of thick forest and flowing river.

We went along with several family friends – the Cormiers, the Collins, and Chet Carlson.

My parents had purchased a canoe sometime before from a Quebec canoe builder and we rented an aluminum canoe to carry our family, fishing and camping gear, and provisions. It was quite an adventure. Sure, we saw other canoers and campers along the way, but it was quite out-of-the way. My hometown of Portage, Lake, with a population of about 450 seemed a crowed place compared to floating down the Allagash River.

I recall every so often we would pull in our paddles and simply float along, casting a line for trout.


Here Scott Collins (right) and I are fishing near the Long Lake Dam along the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.


Here we are again, but I think something mus be wrong if I'm standing in the frigid water. I must have snagged my line.

One evening a few of us piled into a canoe and we poled it out to the center of the river to fish. I remember catching a pretty nice-sized trout, but I lost it when I tried to clean off some dirt. It floated out of my hand and downstream. A fish that got away.

We didn’t have much time for fishing for the remainder of the trip. A Maine game warden tracked us down to inform us that one of my father’s relatives had died. The rest of the trip was about paddling to Allagash.

We did stop for a bit at the Allagash Falls. Like the Fish River Falls, the Allagash Falls are rather gradual and canoeists, kayakers, and rafters can shoot the rapids. We portaged the gear and all but a canoe or two around the falls. A couple of us tried to shoot the falls, but we swamped the canoe. It was rather frigid, but fun adventure.

New gear for Knights Landing

I didn’t fish very much once I become involved in high school sports. There just wasn’t the time.

And things were pretty hectic in college, so I didn’t fishing then either.

In time, I ended up working for The Daily Democrat in Woodland, Calif., and there became friends with Rick Roach. Rick’s family owns a farm in Arkansas and he very much enjoyed the outdoor life. Still does.

The Daily Democrat was an afternoon newspaper which meant we got to work early to get the newspaper out by noon and we left the office by 3 or 4 p.m. After a while I ended up investing in fishing gear, because sometimes after work we would load up Rick’s vehicle and drive past the Yolo County farms and asparagus fields to Knights Landing, stopping along the way for assorted bait and fried snacks. Yes, the bait and snacks often were purchased at the store from the same clerk that handled both the bait and the snacks.

We would then drive to a nearby canal and cast a line into the water. I seem to recall we were fishing for salmon, but I could be wrong. After all, I have been before. We would sit in lawn chairs – if we remembered to bring them or on the bank if we didn’t – drink cheap beer and smoke even cheaper cigars as we fished the afternoon into the evening, sometimes until after dark. If we stayed long enough and it became chilly, we would build a driftwood fire, light another cigar and open another beer.

We were fishing near Knight’s Landing on April 4, 1991, when news broke about the hostage-taking at Good Guys in Sacramento. We stuck around for a little while longer, but left a bit earlier than normal for us. Rick’s news bone was itching and he ended up joining the press corps there to shoot photos we printed in The Daily Democrat.

Lake Berryessa, Twin Lakes and Cliff Polland

Later, Rick and his wife, Michele, moved to Vacaville to work at The Reporter, he as the photo editor and she as the top sales representative for the newspaper. From the time we all lived in Woodland, we took annual trips to the Sierra Nevada to camp at Annette’s Mono Village outside of Bridgeport. Annette’s Mono Village is a ’50s-style camping resort, complete will log cabin restaurant. There are modern amenities, however, including an onsite store, bait shop, motel-style rooms, lodges, hookups for RV campers, restrooms, coin-operated showers, and laundry facilities. The resort is nestled in the Sawtooth Mountain range, which rims Yosemite National Park.

Annette’s Mono Village also is on the second of two lakes that make up Twin Lakes. If memory serves me correction – and memory isn’t always a good servant – Annette’s Mono Village has its own stocking ponds and the state also stocks the lake with various types of trout. Back in the day, Rick would sometimes rent a boat at the bait shop and we would go out to test our luck. Sometimes it was good; sometimes it was not so good.

A few years later Rick talked Michele into letting him purchase a fishing boat. It wasn’t large, by any means, but it was more than serviceable for Twin Lakes and at Lake Berryessa, not far from Vacaville.

Every so often during the summer Rick would give me a call – a time or two waking me up from a sound sleep after an evening spent at a local tavern – and say: “Mornin’, Sunshine! Let’s go fishin’! Let’s go slay some fish!”

Typically, I would mumble incoherently, tell him I needed to take a shower, but that I would be at his place in a half hour, which usually was more like 45 minutes. He would have the boat hitched to the back of his pickup, the boat loaded with fishing gear, fried snacks, and a freshly stocked cooler of beer. I would load my gear and we would be off, often stopping for gas before heading north on Interstate 505 and through Winters and onto Lake Berryessa.

There were times we would stopped in Winters to pickup Cliff Polland, a long-time Reporter employee, one of Rick’s photographers, and a friend. Cliff loved fishing and the outdoors. There were fishing rods and camping equipment in very nearly every corner of his Winters home. And watercolors on the walls of fish he had painted.

Cliff Polland with a nice catch at Twin Lakes outside of Bridgeport, Calif. Photo is by Rick Roach.


Rick and I were the ones who found Cliff one day after he succumbed to illness. He is missed to this day as a friend, co-worker and colleague, and fishing buddy.

Typically, we would troll for trout up and down the lower part of Lake Berryessa, drinking beer and smoking cigars, imploring the fish to find our hooks. Some days the fish would be teaming in the holding tank. Other days we returned to order pizza. Either way it was always a pretty good time – a bad day fishing is better than a good day working.

Jack Daniels and stripers

Rick and I went striper bass fishing in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta one weekend and brought along a third party – Mr. Jack Daniels.

I’m not saying it was a mistake, mind you. We fished and caught some fish. And we drank some beer. And whiskey.

After sunset we made it back to Rick and Michele’s home for dinner and my girlfriend at the time said to us, as we stood swaying like tall trees and a gale wind, “Y’all are snockered! What did you have to drink.”

“Us? We’re not drunk,” says Rick.

“It snell outta da bloat,” says I, referring to the bottle that we didn’t have on the boat and didn’t drink (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more). Yeah, “snell outta da bloat.”

We kept to beer on subsequent fishing trips.


‘That’s on my instructional video’

There is something to be said about fishing out The Gate for salmon.

A former colleague and her husband, Teri and Dick Gilmore, are cool people who happen to own a sailboat that for a time they moored in Emeryville, Calif.

And from time to time they invited friends onto their sailboat to motor out the San Francisco Bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Potato Patch, and into the Pacific Ocean to bob around fishing for salmon and other fish.

Given the motion of the ocean, as it were, medicine was taken to combat nausea, which can cause drowsiness. Once we were fishing, the water lapping onto the hull, some of us – OK, me – usually became a little drowsy. So, there were times I would lay back for a nape with my head against the mast and the fishing pole locked in my arms.

On one fishing trip, I was on my back with my head against the mast, nodding off a bit – nodding of quite a bit, actually – when the rod was very nearly jerked out of my arms.

“Um, um, fish on!” I managed to mumble.

Somehow I was able to hold onto my rod, gather my legs under me, and begin reeling in a nicely sized salmon. I was able to pull it up to the surface and someone on the boat dipped a net into the water to get under the fish.

“Get the fish in the basket,” Teri said. She wasn’t quite up with the terminology for fishing equipment known by most as a fish net.

The fish eventually made it into “the basket” and onto the sailboat.


Here Cliff Polland and I are hamming it up some years ago after returning from a victorious trip fishing from Teri and Dick Gilmore's sailboat. I'm not sure if it was on this trip that I perfected the napping approach to fishing or if I did that on another trip. The photo was taken by Rick Roach.

Rick had brought along a large dowel to rap the fish on the head to reduce suffering. He missed the first couple of times and then made contact, shattering the dowel. (I later bought a Louisville Slugger T-ball bat and with model paint inserted the word “fish” between the “Louisville” and “Slugger” and we carried that bat on Rick’s boat for years.)

I caught a second salmon using “my method” – nodding off, head against the mast, rod in my arms – and we began joking that I could put together an instructional video to teach it to other fishermen.

Things I’ve missed

I missed out on ocean fishing with Rick and Cliff – I never seemed to have the money – although the three of us did book fishing packages not too long before Cliff died. We had visited an outdoorsmen show in Sacramento and the packages were nicely priced.

We never got to use them. I don’t think Rick or I really wanted to go after Cliff died, although I seem to recall that the fishing guide kindly extended the period in which we could go fishing after learning of Cliff’s death.

And I missed out on an earlier fishing trip to Alaska. Rick and Cliff had a great time and brought back great fish and even more wonderful stories. I regret that now more than ever.

No river runs through it, unfortunately

I haven’t been fishing in years and I sometimes wonder why something that has a deep, long-lasting influence on me is not part of my life today. I wish I was more like the main character in “A River Runs Through It,” someone who continues to fish throughout his entire life.

I miss fishing. I still have most of the fishing equipment I thought it necessary to buy after Rick bought his boat. What I do not have here in Stockton, Calif., is probably still in a storage shed at Rick and Michele’s Vacaville home.

Stockton is an inland port and some might think it would be a prime place to fish, especially since big-time bass fishing tournaments are carried out here now.

But not so much. The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is like far too many places in this world now, polluted with the things people throw in the water or into the gutter, which eventually make it into the Delta. And now a lot of what can be caught here is contaminated with one mineral or another.

Even so, it might be time to drown a worm or two before too long.

Revolutionary women and a 16-mile trek through the woods

DownEast.com’s trivia question for today proves Maine women are pretty tough.
Who was Hannah Weston?

Answer

Hannah Weston was a Revolutionary War heroine who carried ammunition sixteen miles through the woods to Machias to aid patriots who had captured the British ship Margaretta.
I cannot imagine carrying ammunition 16 yards let alone 16 miles through the woods, especially to Machias where the terrain is uneven and certainly brushy and swampy since is located on Maine’s rugged coastline.

The Daughters of the American Revolution chapter in Machias is named for Hannah Weston, who was 17 or so when she and another woman lugged powder to Machias, according to a recent Bangor Daily News story.

By the way, the battle to capture the HMS Margaretta is called by some the “Lexington of the Seas” because of its role in the American Revolutionary War. It was the first naval battle.

Here are links to Wikipedia pages on Machias, which has a line about Hannah, and the Battle of Machias.

Oh, and for full disclosure, I played soccer on the Ashland Community High School varsity team and occasionally we played Machias in early rounds of the state tournament. But I won’t hold that against the people of Machias or Hannah Weston.

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UM workers uncover woman’s missing ring | Bangor Daily News

UM workers uncover woman’s missing ring - Bangor Daily News

Acadia park visitation up in '09 | Bangor Daily News

Acadia park visitation up in '09 - Bangor Daily News

L'Ecole Francaise du Maine | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

L'Ecole Francaise du Maine The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram



Mainers in thick of vital task: removing oil | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Mainers in thick of vital task: removing oil The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Outlaws member scheduled for hearing Monday | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Outlaws member scheduled for hearing Monday The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Moose hunters hit jackpot | Bangor Daily News

[Just learned that my Mom was one of the winners! She's been trying for a permit for 10-12 years. I'm very happy for her and may just have to make a trip home for a meal that includes much moose. -- KM]

Moose hunters hit jackpot - Bangor Daily News

Thursday, June 17, 2010

State to award 3,140 moose hunting permits today | Bangor Daily News

[I posted a link earlier to a Portland Press Herald story on the moose permit drawing, but the Bangor Daily News did a much better job and has quite a bit more information that the Press Herald. Here's a link to the BDN version. -- KM]

State to award 3,140 moose hunting permits today - Bangor Daily News

Lobster industry sees potential in Chinese trade mission | Bangor Daily News

Lobster industry sees potential in Chinese trade mission - Bangor Daily News

Moose hunters hope to win lottery at L.L. Bean | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Moose hunters hope to win lottery at L.L. Bean The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Police hunt for missing Maine mother | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

This is a Scarborough Police Department flier on the missing woman.

Police hunt for missing Maine mother The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine may limit use of BPA | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine may limit use of BPA The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

4 Maine firms receive nearly $1.1 million for tech ideas | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

4 firms receive nearly $1.1 million for tech ideas The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Portland's proposed pot dispensary moratorium meets opposition | Maine Public Broadcasting Network

Portland's proposed pot dispensary moratorium meets opposition | Maine Public Broadcasting Network

PND - News - Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett Ask Nation's Super-Rich to Give Half Their Wealth to Charity

[I wonder what kind of world we'd have if this actually happened. -- KM]

PND - News - Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett Ask Nation's Super-Rich to Give Half Their Wealth to Charity

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Maine stuff in my California apartment No. 4

Some blueberry stuff in my California apartment -- Guzman’s Gourmet Blueberry Salsa, Captain Mowatt’s Blue Flame, and The New England Cupboard Blueberry Pancake Mix.

This is an occasional multipart series of photos of things related to Maine that can be found in my California apartment. Today’s photo is of some blueberry stuff in my California apartment -- Guzman’s Gourmet Blueberry Salsa, Captain Mowatt’s Blue Flame, and The New England Cupboard Blueberry Pancake Mix. The items came to me in a Christmas package from my family in Maine. Christmas packages always contain Maine foods.

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Remembering just how very important fishing is to me and ME: Part 1

News stories and blogs on Maine’s major media websites not long ago reminded me just how every important fish and fishing are to me and Maine.

I’m not talking about commercial fishing. Commercial fishing in Maine is huge. In Maine, fishing is a way of life and enormous to the economy of the entire state. Fish is king in Maine.

What I’m talking about instead is the kind of fishing I learned as a kid – sports fishing and fishing for sustenance on inland waterways. The fishing I learned was a rite of passage and an outdoors activity to feed the body and soul.

And the mosquitoes and black flies, but that’s a different blog entry.

Stories on the websites of the Bangor Daily News, Portland Press Herald and Down East magazine were big in reminding me about the importance of fishing to socialization, culture, and heritage in Maine.

By rough estimates, I started fishing 40 years ago. And while I haven’t had the opportunity to wet a line in recent years, it remains central to the person I was, the person I am, and, I suspect, the person I will become.

No, this is not a story to match “A River Runs Through It,” the novel and subsequent movie that told of lives and deaths and the lessons learned by fishing a river.

Frighteningly, invasive species are crowding native species from Maine’s streams, ponds, and lakes.

The story of inland fishing is a bit murky. There is some hope and more than a bit of concern.

A Portland Press Herald story told of an effort to restore an ancient fish, the Arctic char, in Big Reed Pond. It is “ancient” because biologists believe the fish has been here since the last ice age. That’s not just your my-bones-hurt-and-feel-ancient sort of ancient. That is seriously ancient.

The problem for the orange-colored char started when a well-meaning sports fisherman introduced rainbow smelt in the water as way to provide more food for the char. But that backfired when the smelt ate small char and the char’s food.

But a state wildlife biologists, a private fishery, local lodge owners, and grants from Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund are slowly making the future brighter for the Arctic char.

George Smith’s DownEast.com blog some time ago focused on fishing. One titled “The battle between natives and those ‘from away’” especially caught my attention, of course, for its use of “from away.” After all, this blog is titled “Letters From Away.”

But I became far more interested in what he had to write about native fish and those that have been illegally or inadvertently introduced into Maine waters than I was with his use of the Mainer phrase for anything not of or from Maine.

Wildlife officials from Maine to California and many other areas in between are facing similar problems – non-native fish and other aquatic life being introduced into waterways and those species forcing out native fish and other aquatic life. Some are introduced by accident when carried on a boat or other gear that was not properly washed down or intentionally introduced by so-called sportsmen believing it would be good to have, say, bass or walleye in a trout habitat. I even found a story about a koi being pulled from a Maine pond. Koi?!

Either way, native species should be given a chance to survive and thrive in their natural habitat.

Here’s something from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website on invasive species:

Invasive species are organisms that are introduced into a non-native ecosystem and which cause, or are likely to cause, harm to the economy, environment or human health. It is important to note that when we talk about a species being invasive, we are talking about environmental boundaries, not political ones. In addition to the many invasive species from outside the U.S., there are many species from within the U.S. that are invasive in other parts of the country.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the only agency of the U.S. Government whose primary responsibility is the conservation of the nation’s fish, wildlife, and plants. Because of our responsibilities, the Service is very concerned about the impacts that invasive species are having across the Nation. Invasive plants and animals have many impacts on fish and wildlife resources. Invasive species degrade, change or displace native habitats and compete with our native wildlife and are thus harmful to our fish, wildlife and plant resources.
The website also provides FAQs, resources, laws, and other information.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife also has quite a bit of information. Follow this link and click on “Illegal Fish Stocking” for specific information. There is also information about invasive aquatic plants.


Here are links to some of those stories and blog entries.

The battle between natives and those ‘from away’ | DownEast.com

Sound science produces good Maine fisheries | DownEast.com

Restoration raises hope for future of native fish | Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram

Salmon return in record numbers: Experts ‘cautiously optimistic’ about high figures | Bangor Daily News

Invasive species threatening Maine waters: DIF&W says illegally introduced fish could disrupt ecosystems, local fisheries | Bangor Daily News

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Power-line plan upsets residents | The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME

Power-line plan upsets residents The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME

USM to host international conference on tech learning | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

USM to host international conference on tech learning The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

For more information, including how to register, call 207-780-5055 or visit usm.maine.edu/pdc/diverse/presentations.html.

ATF raid leads to shootout, Maine biker's death | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

ATF raid leads to shootout, Maine biker's death The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Mainers go to Gulf with helpful tools, run into obstacles | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Mainers go to Gulf with helpful tools, run into obstacles The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine student volunteers to be honored at Fenway | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine student volunteers to be honored at Fenway The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Coffeehouse observation No. 155

A youth in the coffeehouse earlier today dressed in a fine suit, shirt, tie, and polished shoes. Handsome kid who seemed to be very respectful of the adult he was with and willing to engage in conversation with the man I suspect was some sort of mentor. We need more kids willing to wear suits and more mentors willing to take them to the coffeehouse for hot chocolate.

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

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Keep Recovery Going | Bangor Daily News

Keep Recovery Going - Bangor Daily News

Utility chairman confirms $1.4 billion upgrade for Maine grid - Bangor Daily News

Utility chairman confirms $1.4 billion upgrade for Maine grid - Bangor Daily News

Maine heroes honored at police awards ceremony | Bangor Daily News

Maine heroes honored at police awards ceremony - Bangor Daily News

Big name concerts coming to Bangor waterfront | Bangor Daily News

Big name concerts coming to Bangor waterfront - Bangor Daily News

Mainers work to build local alliances in Afghanistan | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Mainers work to build local alliances in Afghanistan The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Deadly OOB raid stemmed from biker gang rivalry | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Deadly OOB raid stemmed from biker gang rivalry The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Monday, June 14, 2010

International jumping contest draws canines, owners to Rockland | Bangor Daily News

International jumping contest draws canines, owners to Rockland - Bangor Daily News

For more information on Seacoast Dock Dogs, visit http://www.seacoastdockdogs.com./ To help with next year’s event, contact Heidi Vanorse at Loyal Biscuit at 594-5269.

Maine officials warn of court worker scam | Bangor Daily News

Officials warn of court worker scam - Bangor Daily News

Type O negative blood donors sought to replenish supply | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Type O negative blood donors sought to replenish supply The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Portland may ban pot shops for six months | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Portland may ban pot shops for six months The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Biddeford firm's device shows promise in NASA test | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Biddeford firm's device shows promise in NASA test The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Efficiency Maine offering $1,000 incentive | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Efficiency Maine offering $1,000 incentive The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tilting at windmills

Wind farm near Mars Hill, Maine. Photo by Kelly McInnis.

Past readers know that I very much like the use of alternative energy – solar, wind, wave.

Wind energy – from both onshore and offshore wind farms – has received a big push in Maine the past couple of years. There is plenty of wind to go around in Maine, especially along the coast, and harnessing that wind will greatly ease this nation’s addiction to foreign petroleum.

But some communities in Maine are concerned with issues associated with wind farms, namely the noise the huge turbines cause. And I’m sure more than a few Mainers are upset with the interruption in viewscape.

Here in California, wind farms have become part of the landscape mostly because of the clean energy they provide.

It is my hope that power companies and government officials will find a way to mitigate the problems so that wind farms can provide clean, sustainable energy for a very long time to come.

Here are a couple of photos Kelly McInnis shot last week at the wind farm near Mars Hill, Maine. They are published here with her permission.

Wind farm near Mars Hill, Maine. Photo by Kelly McInnis.

Applicant seeks half of medical pot dispensaries | The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME

Applicant seeks half of medical pot dispensaries The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME

Mainers head south to Gulf as oil continues to flow | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Mainers head south to Gulf as oil continues to flow The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

When Mainers just say no | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

When Mainers just say no The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Friday, June 11, 2010

Land deal catches some by surprise | The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME

Land deal catches some by surprise The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME

Carthage wind farm proposal stirs debate | Lewiston Sun Journal

Carthage wind farm proposal stirs debate | Lewiston Sun Journal

Let’s have a little Revolutionary War trivia, shall we

Everyone knows that there are many old things in New England. So, it should not come as a surprise that the first American warship to fly the “stars and stripes” comes from New England, specifically Kittery, Maine.

Today’s DownEast.com trivia question has a certain I-have-not-yet-begun-to-fight feel to it.

What was the first warship to fly the stars and stripes?

Answer:

The Ranger was launched at Kittery under the command of Captain John Paul Jones on May 10, 1777.