It’s time for Puerto Rico to become the 51st of the United States of America. It’s time to put this particular remnant of American colonialism to rest and give the millions of citizens of Puerto Rico a full voice, the full benefit, and the full responsibility of statehood. Of course, this begs the question of what to do with other territories, like Guam and the US Virgin Islands, to name only a couple, but their populations are vastly smaller than Puerto Rico’s. In fact, if Puerto Rico were a state, it would rank between Connecticut and Oklahoma by population. I can’t imagine Nutmeggers or Okies being willing to settle for second-class citizenship; why should Puerto Ricans? And in the wake of the most recent election, though we have many other issues – like the fiscal cliff – to deal with, now seems to be a as good a time as any to have a broader discussion about what citizenship really means, not just for the residents of Puerto Rico, but for all of us.
For those of us in the United States (including those citizens who are overseas serving in the military or for other reasons) today is Election Day. No news there.That the campaign, not just for president, but for just about everything else, has gone on far too long, been far too expensive, and far, FAR too divisive? Well, no news there, either. Goodness knows there’s plenty to be dissatisfied with, and cynical about, and much about the system needs fixing. But today, as I have nearly every Election Day since I turned eighteen, I went to the polls, stood in line, gave my name, filled out my ballots and put them in the ballot box. It’s a ritual, one I feel should not be passed up by using absentee ballots (unless really necessary), standing shoulder to shoulder with people with whom you may agree or may not and being part of the process.
For all of you who have voted, and for all who will work long hours today making sure we could, thanks! And for those of you who have not yet voted, please make the effort.
Compared to other parts of the Northeast, especially New York and New Jersey, we got through “Superstorm” Sandy with relatively little problem. At the height of the storm and its immediate aftermath about half the town was without power and a number of roads were closed due to downed trees and wires. Two days later and there are no outages reported in our community. I really have to credit Central Maine Power and emergency crews for responding as quickly and effectively as they have.
As part of our local emergency management team I also have to give CMP kudos for their new outage mapping tool. This made keeping track of the effects of the storm, at least with respect to power outages, and making other decisions like opening shelters, incredibly easy. And with the state emergency management WebEOC we had the best and most up-to-date information we have ever had in a widespread emergency. Used to be we had to rope one of the line crew supervisors into coming to our morning status meetings, offering them promises of food and hot coffee and/or relying on third hand, often inaccurate, and always old, information. Those line crew supervisors are still welcome to the food and hot coffee, but we’re okay with them staying focused on getting the lights back on instead of sitting in our meetings, too.
So all up and down the East Coast people are preparing for or, by now, feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy. By the time the storm reaches northern New England it will be a tropical (or post-tropical) depression, but I expect it to cause plenty of headaches anyway. In our area we are expecting rainfall of 2-3 inches with locally higher amounts and winds of 40 mph with gusts to 60. Local weather forecasters have said we may see gusts as high as 70 mph, not hurricane force, but strong enough to cause trees to lose limbs or fall altogether.
Even though it’s late October in southern Maine, a lot of trees still have their leaves, which may result in more downed trees and limbs and more power outages. Power outages, along with some localized flooding, are our primary concern. We’ve already gotten our local emergency response team up and going, and tomorrow morning we’ll assess conditions and decide whether to activate our local emergency shelter.
It’s tempting to pooh-pooh a lot of the hype. Goodness knows there’s plenty of it, but there’s no sense in ignoring the weather forecasts and taking sensible precautions. So part of our day has been taking things down outside, putting porch furniture away, and finally putting the storm windows down (oh, the joys of an old house). Oil lamps are full, we have water and non-perishables should we need them, and are otherwise just expecting a couple of really wet and windy days.
I’m a good cook, and I don’t care who knows it. Problem is, I’m not a good eater. Oh, it isn’t that I don’t eat what I cook (never trust a skinny chef, they say), and I certainly know how to eat. That’s the problem. If you read my posts tagged with “food” or “health” or “wellness” you’ll see how much of a struggle it is. You’ll also see how little real discipline and effort I’ve put into it. I mean, let’s be honest. Keeping a food journal seems to work for a while, but only for a while.
So it was months ago that I ran across a story in the New York Times (sorry if you’ve used up your free articles for the month… try next month) about mindful eating, not so much about dieting as about being more aware of what we eat and why, about putting food in proper perspective. Then, about a month ago I came across another story about binge eating among men and the “Fat Dad” NY Times blog bosts. My situation isn’t as dire, but there’s no denying that those extra pounds contribute to a range of undesirable outcomes, and I am about as far from being a mindful eater as you might care to imagine. And then I suppose there’s something to be said for the first step in any recovery program, recognizing that you have a problem.
Tomorrow morning: Coordinate roadside cleanup
108 hours from now: Drive to Baltimore
7 days from now: Drive home
9 weeks 2 days from now: 24th wedding anniversary
11 weeks from now: Tour Maine and New Brunswick by motorcycle
12 weeks from now: Turn 49 years old
4 months 1 week from now: Go to my second ever Rush concert
7 months 8 days from now: World ends, at least according to the Mayans.
Oh, right, there’s a presidential election in there somewhere. So much for ending on a high note.
The city of Biddeford, Maine has been trying to get rid of the Maine Energy Recovery Corporation (MERC) waste-to-energy plant and out of its in-town location for years (or, for those of you from away, that’s pronounced “yee-ahs”), practically since it opened. Most recently the city came up with a way to purchase and close the darned thing and get rid of the garbage smell, which is only a problem if you happen to be downwind, once and for all.
Apparently this won’t happen right away, however, because the Legislature killed a bill that was needed to allow the deal to go forward. Maybe they can find a Pink Floyd tribute band to do a benefit concert of “Animals” to help raise the several million it will cost. There is a little resemblance to the Battersea Power Station, don’t you think? Just a little?