Non-fiction

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61 articles in category Non-fiction / Subscribe

I have lived and worked in Maine for about 35 years. Since I am now 66 years old and a native of Flushing, NY it is time to make a decision as to where my wife and I want to spend this newest chapters of our lives.

I’ve talked to many people and a good majority believes it’s time to find a new warmer home to live. Even though Maine has the second oldest population, Florida is the oldest; I wanted to investigate why older people seem to want to live in Maine.

Why Maine shouldn’t be a place to grow old is obvious. It’s cold. The average temperature in Maine is approximately 45.5F throughout the year with a summer average temperature of 79F and a winter average temperature of 12F.

This makes Maine the third coldest state in our nation behind Alaska and North Dakota. Most older people like warmer temperatures but are there other reasons why older people should not consider retirement in Maine? Continue Reading →

There are many laws of science that can’t be questions. One of the most important laws is The Law of the Conservation of Matter and Energy. It clearly states that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

Thinking back to my catechism days I clearly remember the nuns and brothers of my past drilling into all who had to be there that God has always been and always will be. In Genesis 1:3, God said: “Let there be light”; and there was light. God  saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
 
Over the centuries there has been an argument between religion and science. Webster defines religion as: “the service and worship of God or the supernatural”.  Science is defined as: “a branch of knowledge in which what is known is presented in an orderly way.”
An orderly representation of God can be in many forms like The Bible or The Quran. In order to attempt to understand the concepts of God, Science, and energy one has to have a concept of time.
 
Man, or a comparison to man about 203 million years ago, has inhabited the Earth. The Earth itself is said to be 4.5 billion years old. The concept of Christ is approximately 2016 years and Mohammed is said to have lived about 1446 years ago.

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There are many ways of evaluating what kind of a week you had. You could review your checkbook to see if you added or reduced your balance. You could weigh yourself to see if that extra glass of wine or can of beer actually increased the size of your waste or butt.
Or you could focus on your eyes in a mirror, to see if the bags under your eyes increased in bulk. Scientifically the best way of measuring the success of your week is by checking to see what’s inside your dishwasher. 
The next time you have to run your dishwasher, because nothing else can fit in it, observe what is in it. If the number of wine glasses or beer mugs overwhelms the number of dinner dishes, you probably had a very stressful week.
If you think back you probably had little energy to cook or even open a can. Pouring a glass of wine or opening a bottle of beer takes a lot less energy, plus it lessens the time to end up falling asleep in front of your TV.
If the number of coffee cups overwhelms the number of dinner dishes, you were definitely expecting a rough day. There are certain mornings when all it takes to get you going is a single cup of coffee.
There are also certain mornings when you realize the day ahead will be filled with many explanations as to why something wasn’t done, or why you did it.

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There I stood at the end of my driveway looking out into my front yard from my garage for the first time since late November. Obviously I’ve looked at my yard before but concentrating on its appearance was now important because I was pretty sure the last of the snow had fallen. This meant the snows of winter would no longer disguise the debris that found its way onto my property. Before walking on my lawn I tested the ground to make sure it was dry enough so my feet wouldn’t make indentations that would probably mean the death of my lawn mower.

The first thing I did was pick-up all the cigarette butts that ended up on the peripheral of where my property ends and the road begins. I could never figure out why people throw something out the windows of their cars they know will never disintegrate. Hell, I could never figure out why people throw any type of garbage out of their cars and into the road. I wonder if they think some magical force would make their garbage disappear?

This year I counted 86 cigarette butts thrown on my lawn. I looked up at my house and wondered where the sign was hidden that advertised how my property was one large ashtray. Or did my property have some sort of a magnetic attraction for the plastic in the filters of the butts, so all of the discarded butts in the western world ended up on my property. Continue Reading →

“Yes you can voice your opinion as long as it’s done in a civil manner.”
I have to admit I was in a bit of shock when I read this letter concerning an upcoming meeting, of an association which I was told my neighborhood was part of.  My original question concerned if I could voice my thoughts and opinions concerning the association. I didn’t know of anyone who thought I couldn’t do this in a “civil” manner. At least I thought I didn’t.
I asked my wife if anyone considered me uncivil. She told me that I sometimes used a tone in my conversations, or letters, that led people to believe that I was aggressive and sarcastic. How can ‘tone’ overwhelm what is being discussed? How can it even be projected into a written letter or e-mail?  To answer this I found my old dilapidated Webster’s Dictionary, to understand what ‘tone’ is supposed to be. Webster states that it is: “An individual way of speaking or writing.” If the concept of tone has to do with the individual, how can it be determined as being passive or aggressive?

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“I have no clue what I did with my glasses.”
That is what my friend, Hank, told me as he began his story. Hank and his family had just watched the Patriots lose their last game of the season. At first I didn’t see how a little absent mindedness could bother anyone. However, when I saw how upset and nervous he was, I had to listen to the rest of his tale.

“For the past decade or so I have always put my glasses on the end table, by my chair in the living room. It is a habit I have and I do it without thinking. Then, one morning I reached for my glasses and they weren’t there. I spent the entire day looking for them and wondering what could have happened to them.”

It was obvious he was not bothered by the loss of his glasses but was stressed by the fact that his glasses had seemingly disappeared. He told me he asked his wife, Stacey, if she could think of anywhere his glasses might be and she told him what he already knew. Wives are very good at stating the obvious!

As he told me his story I began to wonder where lost things go. I have also lost many items and have no idea where they went. I lost a pair of sunglasses last year. They disappeared out of the small drawer by the door that opened into our garage.

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Webster defines experience as being: “The actual living through an event or events, the skill or knowledge gained by actually doing a thing and something that one has actually done or lived through.’

The Portsmouth Herald published a column on February 3, 2016, entitled, “Portsmouth schools to incent teacher retirements. To quote the article: “ The City Council unanimously approved a proposal by the School Board to offer teachers a retirement incentive package this year.” The City Manager explains the purpose for the incentive is to achieve savings without compromising education.

Does he really believe this? Do people who are responsible for the education for the children of their community think experience has no value? City Manager Bohenko adds: “The savings would be achieved by replacing employees at the top of the pay scale with new employees who would be paid at a lower rate.”

I wonder if he understands that the purpose of a pay scale is to provide incentive for teachers to stay at the school. It is important to have teachers understand how to work with young men and women. The art of teaching can’t come from taking classes and earning high degrees in a graduate school setting.

The University of New Hampshire has an interesting concept. There is no undergraduate education degree program. Students earn a degree in a specific discipline during their under-graduate career. I agree with this concept. Then they take an advanced program at the university to earn their master’s degree in education.

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Not long ago everyone was excited about Disney’s new movie “Tomorrowland”. The movie concerned bright, optimistic teens bursting with scientific curiosity.

It also centered on other children jaded by disillusionment about what they thought the world should be. This basically defines what my classroom has been like for the past three decades. I am retiring this year with the knowledge I did the best I could do to astonish my students about the wonders of science. I tell them science is not magic but magic is definitely science.

For my entire career I’ve taught young adults. These were usually juniors or seniors getting ready for their futures. I sometimes wish I had my shot at younger students who were just discovering how much fun learning can and should be.

Working at a school that contains students from 6th grade to their senior year, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many classrooms demonstrating my passion for science and how they could easily enter into its world. I am especially proud of the times I invite 6th grade students into my chemistry class. I tell them that if they work hard they would one day join the ranks of these motivated and talented young men and women they are working with now. It is interesting that every one of them remember this time when they reach the age they can join my class. Continue Reading →

There is nothing like the early morning autumn fogs of Maine. One week it was a classic example of how these fogs change the way one feels about life. My day started like every other day of my life with getting up early in the morning before the sun dares to rear its crimson flaming head.

I literally rolled off my side of the bed hoping not to wake up my sleeping wife. I swear this is the best part of her night not having to put up with me turning from side to side while snoring something that sounded like the ‘1812 Overture’.

I then tip-toe over to our towel closet hoping I will pick out something that has nothing to do with flowers and pink things. This is always a shot in the dark because I grab them in the dark.
Once I grabbed what I thought was a wash cloth only to be shocked by the fact the cloth was soaked in something a man’s skin was never meant to experience.

Needless to say all of my male friends at school decided to stay away while my female friends continued to ask me how my new boy friends were. I won’t even talk about the rash. After my shower I once again tip-toed into my closet hoping to give my wife at least a couple more minutes of sleep.

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A few years ago my father, who has now passed, called me talking about a ring his found somewhere in Somersworth. At the time I was concentrating on a class of labs and I must admit I wasn’t paying much attention to the conversation.  He was concerned about how he could get the ring back to the rightful owner.

My first thought was why would anyone care? My father described the ring as being an old gold class ring dating back to 1934. He told me it was very small and thus had to be a woman’s ring. There was no stone in the middle like the rings of today. It was all gold. I don’t know what carat weight it was but there was no tarnish or wear to give a hint to its age.

This one was simply moulded to show off the name of the school, that was Somersworth High School and the date of graduation. My father went on to explain how the ring was in impeccable shape as though it was rarely worn or had been lost for a very long time. Within minutes both my interest and imagination started to spark.

The pile of laboratory reports I had in front of me became unimportant because any opportunity to massage my imagination had to be taken seriously. My father continued by stating the ring also had something else special about it. Inside the band were the initials “CB”. Because the ring was over 70 years old the concept of having the initials still appear on the inside of the band was quite remarkable. Continue Reading →