Friday, January 26, 2024

Insight: Don’t knock it until you try it

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Not long ago I watched footage of a Ring doorbell video which had captured a neighbor’s dog in Virginia ringing a resident’s doorbell at 4 a.m. It was hilarious to see the dog’s expression when he heard the chime and how it excited him at that hour of the night.

That got me to thinking about the reasons that people now ring my doorbell today compared to when I was growing up in the 1960s. Modern digital doorbells showcase many different ringtones, music, cameras, and chimes and are much more elaborate than the standard “Ding Dong” doorbell of years past.

I compiled a list of individuals who have rung my doorbell in the past five months and came up with an interesting list.

About 9 a.m. two Saturdays ago, a group of Boy Scouts were collecting glass for a bottle drive to fund a camping trip this coming summer. Then there were two college students wanting me to sign a petition having something to do with beach erosion.

Last fall, I had several representatives ring the bell wanting me to switch my internet provider to a cheaper alternative startup or upgrade my internet speed because of new fiber internet availability in my neighborhood.

At least four different political candidates stopped by to encourage me to vote for them. Another fellow wanted me to sign a petition to limit heating oil lobbies in Maine. Of course, those visits usually happened just as my wife and I were just sitting down to have dinner.

Our front doorbell rang 62 different times on Halloween night for trick-or-treaters. On a Saturday afternoon in November, a neighbor girl from our street pushed the doorbell wanting to see if we wanted to purchase her remaining 12 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

Back in early December when we both were suffering from bothersome colds, a contractor working on a home nearby stopped in to see if we needed a new water main installed while he was there and he was insistent that many water mains on our street needed immediate replacement.

Years ago, it was always a surprise when the doorbell rang, and we certainly had many different types of visitors back then.

I can recall my mother answering the doorbell in the 1960s and inviting the salesperson inside while she looked over their list of magazines available for subscription. There seemed to be a never-ending parade of salespeople offering vacuum cleaners, Fuller Brushes, Charles Chips, or diaper services.

And I remember my father once buying a set of encyclopedias from a young man who told us he was working his way through college. My father also ordered a box of neckties for work from a textile company representative going door to door. Fortunately, we never had bill collectors ring the doorbell, but I did know some friends who did.

My brother and I would spot teams of Jehovah’s Witnesses dressed in white shirts wearing ties and black pants who were out ringing doorbells in our neighborhood. Even though we were Catholic, my mother always found time to chat with them. She said that she enjoyed discussing matters of spirituality with them and she’d engage them or ask their opinion about articles she read in the Watchtower magazines they had left for her previously.

Growing up in the 1960s, we knew our neighbors very well and frequently my mother would send me next door to see if they would happen to have a cup of sugar or a cup of flour that she could borrow when she was baking a cake.

One of our neighbors also had her own business and would stop by and ring our doorbell to sell Avon beauty products to my mother. Because my mother didn’t drive, my father’s Christmas stocking almost always included a fancy bottle of aftershave from Avon that resembled an antique automobile or something similar.

My brother and I rang plenty of doorbells trick-or-treating ourselves every Halloween. As a teenager though, my brother once got in trouble for being part of a group that placed dog doo-doo in a brown paper bag on a neighbor’s doorstep, set it on fire, rang the doorbell, and ran away.

When I turned 12, I was old enough to start my own paper route and delivered the afternoon newspaper each day after school let out. Believe it or not, the worst part of that job was not delivering papers in the rain or snow but having to ring my subscribers’ doorbells to collect payment for the newspapers.

I would approach a subscriber’s home at 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday evening and could hear music playing inside or see lights on, yet for some reason, they wouldn’t answer the door. It got to the point that some subscribers would owe me more than $10 and at that point I asked my father for advice. He told me to change the time I was collecting to Saturday mornings. I found it was easier to collect from people standing in their driveway than ringing their doorbell later that evening.

Half a century later, it’s probably safe to say that doorbells continue to press my buttons.

Andy Young: Could I be the first?

By Andy Young

Through some recent exhaustive research, I learned it was either George Bernard Shaw or Oscar Wilde who first wrote or uttered, “Youth is wasted on the young,” or words to that effect.

Unfortunately, the specific information I had been seeking was the identity of the person who had first expressed, either verbally or in writing, that “Good health is wasted on the young.”

Well, whoever made that declaration should have specified that it is merely good physical health that’s being squandered on the still-developing. Decades of life experience have revealed (to me, anyway) there’s still plenty of good health left in those of us who aren’t as youthful as we used to be. In fact, when it comes to mental, emotional, and spiritual health, by and large we vintage baby boomers (or at least those of us who are still breathing) have it all over Gen X, Gen Z, millennials, and whatever other arbitrarily created demographic groups exist in public imagination these days.

I’ll admit to being a bit envious of people who can still run, walk, see, hear, and remember as easily as I once could. It used to bother me that I couldn’t instantly recall the first names of people I was certain I was familiar with. But that stopped concerning me when I realized it doesn’t faze me in the slightest when others can’t remember my first name.

The most inconvenient part of depreciating physical health involves vision. Once upon a time I had terrific eyesight; I was one of those people who could actually see the stitches on the baseball when someone threw it to me. These days, however, if I tried playing catch the only stitches involved would be the ones they’d have to sew in order to repair my lip, nose, or whatever body part(s) the ball collided with after I didn’t see it coming. In fact, I probably couldn’t tell if a white spheroid headed in my direction was a softball, an albino grapefruit, or an unripe peach until I actually felt the thud, splat, or fuzz. And never mind recognizing old friends from a distance; I’m lucky if I can determine someone’s gender before they’ve come within 10 feet of me.

At one point I was worried my worsening vision was making me a danger to society. That occurred after a white-knuckle drive home late one rainy night over some unfamiliar roads. It was only after relating the terrifying details to several friends (including a token millennial or two) that I realized everyone is a terrible driver after dark when it’s raining, and they don’t know the roads.

I’m actually better at identifying things at a distance than I am up close. Currently I cannot read anything printed in less than size 24 font without the aid of spectacles. I presently own at least twenty dollars’ worth of reading glasses. I keep one pair in my pocket, another at my desk at school, and have others stashed next to my bed, on the top of the breadbox in the kitchen, in the car’s glove compartment, and in the bathroom. I’m not sure where the other four pairs are right now, although between some couch cushions, at a friend’s house, or between some couch cushions at a friend’s house are all good guesses. I still haven’t ascertained who it was that first declared “Good health is wasted on the young.”

But wouldn’t it be something if nobody did?

Because if that’s truly the case, the first person to publicly, presciently and precisely declare that good health is wasted on the young would be me! <

Tim Nangle: Back to the State House, focused on community

By State Senator Tim Nangle

The Maine State Legislature reconvened for the Second Regular Session of the 131st Legislature on Jan. 3. Being back in the State House is a reminder of our collective responsibility and privilege to serve the people of our great state. The opening of the session — particularly solemn this year as we honored the victims of the Lewiston mass shootings — was a stark reminder of the weight of the decisions we make in Augusta.

State Sen. Tim Nangle
We are tackling a wide array of critical issues this year, from expanding affordable housing and childcare to strengthening support for our working families. We're also focused on implementing pragmatic safety measures to prevent future tragedies. Rest assured, I will keep you informed of our progress and how these initiatives will impact our communities.

As the Senate Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government, I am especially devoted to preserving the autonomy of our local governments and protecting the rich environmental resources of Maine.

In that spirit, I’ve sponsored a bill this session that will be critical to providing local towns the resources they need to fight against shoreland zoning violations. This bill was born out of the ongoing struggle the town of Raymond is facing, but the legislation would be a positive enforcement tool for every municipality in the state. LD 2101, "An Act to Strengthen Shoreland Zoning Enforcement," aims to address a critical gap in cities and towns’ ability to enforce shoreland zoning laws effectively and, ultimately, protect our natural resources.

The bill does two key things. First, it would allow for the restriction of permits to property owners who violate shoreland zoning ordinances. This measure is essential because, under current law, even with ongoing violations, municipalities are required to issue permits, limiting their ability to ensure compliance with state and locally established regulations.

Additionally, the bill permits the placement of a lien on properties to recover costs related to violations. This change is crucial in giving municipalities the financial support they need to enforce the laws that protect our shorelands.

Most shoreland zone violations are accidents, and towns work with the property owners to correct any mistakes. However, some of these incidents can lead to costly legal battles for towns, burdening local taxpayers and putting vital resources at risk. Maine's shorelands are not only aesthetically valuable but also vital to our ecosystem and community health. Your awareness and input are invaluable as this bill moves through the legislative process. I will be sure to update you once the public hearing for this bill is scheduled.

Staying actively involved in the legislative process is crucial. You can access comprehensive information about our schedules, public hearings, and ways to participate on the Legislature's website. For weekly updates on the Legislature's activities, including House and Senate sessions, committee briefings, public hearings, work sessions, and special events at the State House’s Hall of Flags, visit the Legislature’s calendar at

To delve deeper into a particular committee, navigate to Once there, select a committee from the drop-down menu to view its public hearings, work sessions, and weekly schedules. You can also subscribe to updates by clicking “Mailing List” on the top right of the committee page.

Your participation in public hearings is invaluable. If you're considering testifying on a bill, get in touch with me and I can help guide you through the process. Public input is essential in shaping legislation to accurately reflect the views and needs of our community. Remember, the State House, including the Senate Chamber, is open to all. For State House Tour reservations, please visit

For young individuals interested in experiencing the legislative process up close, the Maine Senate’s Honorary Page Program is a fantastic opportunity. Pages help distribute amendments and deliver messages between Senators in the Senate Chamber. To learn more or apply, reach out to the Senate Secretary’s Office or email With the start of the New Year, I am energized and ready to face the challenges ahead. I am here to listen, to serve, and to act on your behalf. Your input is invaluable. Reach out to me at or call 207-287-1515. For the latest updates, follow me on Facebook at, and sign up for my e-newsletter at <

Friday, January 19, 2024

Andy Young: Reaching for a favor

By Andy Young

Far be it from me to contradict Benjamin Franklin, the renowned scientist, inventor, publisher, and diplomat who served as America’s first postmaster general, but I can’t help thinking he was feeling a little cynical when he wrote that the only sure things in life were death and taxes. 

If I were asked to list life’s sure things, I’d add a third one, which is that several times a year, some random individual I’ve never laid eyes on before (and likely will never see again) will, intentionally or by accident, do something to make my day.

A recent example of this pleasant phenomenon occurred last weekend inside a Biddeford grocery store. A woman was headed down the “Baking Needs” aisle at the same time I was proceeding up it. Nothing was blocking our respective paths, we were headed in opposite directions, and each of us was courteously keeping our cart to the right, doing our part to avoid creating one of those dreaded Saturday-afternoon-grocery-store-aisle bottlenecks.

I might not recognize this Heaven-sent woman if I saw her again, and that’s a shame. But she wasn’t any more memorable physically than I am.

Like most of humanity, she wasn’t unusually short, tall, slender, or heavyset. She was wearing a white ski jacket, and while I don’t think she had glasses, I wouldn’t swear to it. She could have been a 30-year-old having a tough day or a well-kept 60-year-old.

I probably wouldn’t have noticed her had she not, as our carts got to within five feet of one another, flashed me a beatific smile. When I returned her cheerful expression, she stopped, then hesitantly asked, “Sir? Can you do me a favor?”

Even before she elaborated, I knew the exact favor she was going to request.

“Would you be able to reach that box for me?” she asked, pointing to a gluten-free cake mix located at the very back of the second shelf from the top. And as I always do in these situations, I eagerly and enthusiastically granted her request.

Full disclosure: my skill set is severely limited. Had this woman asked me to jump-start her car, change her tire, repair an electronic device, or perform any other task involving mechanics, carpentry, plumbing, electricity, or any other useful skill, I would have had to shame-facedly turn her down, because I possess no qualifications in any of those areas.

However, when it comes to fetching items located in high places, well, my unusually long arms are just what the doctor ordered. (I’m also pretty good at changing light bulbs located above the reach of most people, but really, how often does anyone get asked to do that in a grocery store?)

After I fetched the cake mix in the blue box (not the brown one) for her, she thanked me warmly and genuinely. However, before we each headed back to our respective reality, I had to tell her the whole truth, which was that it was she who was doing me the favor.

Nothing strokes a man’s ego (or at least this man’s ego) like being able to use his unique abilities to help others. I had entered that store feeling like a nobody but strode out of it imagining I was Clark Kent’s alter ego.

The impromptu interaction I shared with that lovely woman last weekend reminded me of how easy it is to make another person’s day. More people should aspire to brighten someone else’s existence when circumstances allow it.

Better yet, we should all be prepared to spring into action when an opportunity to create a spirit-lifting scenario presents itself. <

Jane Pringle: Reducing Barriers to Health Care for Mainers

By State Rep. Jane Pringle

The new year is a wonderful time to give thanks for the health and wellness of family and friends. All across the state we have many great medical providers striving to provide essential care for those who need it. 

State Rep. Jane Pringle
In a perfect world, receiving medical care would be as easy as going to the provider’s office, being assessed, being prescribed a course of care, and then receiving that treatment. Unfortunately, our health care system does not function that way. The current system requiring prior authorizations has created significant barriers for medical professionals striving to deliver effective patient care.

This session, I’ve introduced a bill that would improve the administrative process of prior authorization for medical professionals. Prior authorization is a system set up by insurance companies-public and private-to provide a health-plan cost control process. If a patient's treatment or test is deemed too costly, the insurance company will review whether it is medically necessary for the patient or if a less expensive test or treatment should be tried first. They will then decide whether to approve the course of treatment or reject it. Some of these systems are based on medical evidence and some of these systems are arbitrary and aimed at reducing expenditures, regardless of whether or not it will cause harm to the patient.

In recent years, prior authorization requests have increased. This has proven to be an obstacle to care and, I believe, is leading to the increased cost of healthcare. The lack of standardization of systems across many insurance companies creates a mountain of administrative work for the medical professionals trying to get their patients the care they need.

A case that demonstrates the system's pitfalls is that of a young mother who developed a pulmonary embolism (blood clot to the lungs) after giving birth. She required blood thinners for several months. Her family physician and her hematologist prescribed a well-known, cost-effective blood thinner that was deemed safe for her to use while nursing her newborn. This life-saving medication was essential in preventing the young mother from having another clot. Her prescribed course of care required 65 days of treatment, but her insurance company only authorized 15 days' worth of medicine. In reaction to the insurance company’s denial of care, the patient’s doctor’s office was forced to scramble and work tirelessly to appeal the decision.

With five days to spare, they were able to get the patient the amount of medicine she needed at an affordable price. Despite this resolution, the delay of prior authorization required a significant amount of time and resources from the staff. It was time that could have been better spent on patient care rather than dealing with the clerical obstacles presented by insurance companies.

With this patient example and so many others in mind, I look forward to continuing to work on my bill to improve the prior authorization process. Over the past several months, I have worked with many stakeholders – employers, insurers, hospitals, physicians, nurse practitioners, physical and occupational therapists, and healthcare advocacy organizations – to strengthen the rules and create a public “report card” about insurance carrier’s behavior. This report will reveal how many initial approvals, denials, and appeals insurance companies are issuing, and will illuminate whether they are delivering benefits to customers as promised. Holding these organizations accountable will ease the administrative burdens on healthcare providers and, ultimately, reduce the cost to patients.

I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues to get this legislation enacted into law. <

State Rep. Jane Pringle is serving her second non-consecutive term in the Maine House of Representatives, having previously served from 2012 to 2014. She is currently a member of the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee in the 131st Maine Legislature.

Insight: A dream still to be fulfilled

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

I’ve had the great fortune to cover many prominent newsmakers for articles but one person I sat down with more than 36 years ago took on added relevance earlier this week when I spotted a copy of my interview with her in a box of some of my newspaper clippings in the basement.

On Saturday Jan. 30, 1988, I was assigned by the daily newspaper I worked for to interview Yolanda King, the daughter of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., before her speaking appearance at the University of New Mexico. She was in Albuquerque to deliver the keynote address at the university’s launch of its annual Black History Month and graciously consented to speak with me for 15 minutes before her speech.

She told me her family was pleased that in 1986, the Federal government had made her father’s birthday a national holiday and pause to remember his work on behalf of equality for all Americans. At that time, many state legislatures had not agreed to observe the holiday and she said her family was optimistic that one day that would happen, which it did in 2000.

During the interview, Yolanda King praised efforts across America to celebrate diversity, especially Black History Month.

“Some may question why there is a Black History Month,” she said and added, “but I believe the study of our history should not be relegated to a once-a-year observance.”

She said that Americans need to study black history to continue growing as a unified people.

“Working together, we can all move forward toward a more positive future,” King said.

At the time, Yolanda King was 31. She was the oldest of four children in her family and told me she felt a close bond to her mother, Coretta Scott King, and her father.

Although she was nervous before her speech that day, she told me that the thing that gave her the most anxiety was when she would be watching television, and the program would be interrupted by a breaking news bulletin.

“Those always bring me right back to that night in April 1968 when my family was watching television and we saw the breaking news bulletin that my father had been shot by an assassin in Memphis, Tennessee,” she said. “It’s always hard for me to see those and I cringe each time they appear on the television screen.”

Yolanda King was born on Nov. 17, 1955, and was an infant at home in Montgomery, Alabama being cared for by her mother when white supremacists exploded a bomb in the back room of their house one afternoon in 1956. Neither she nor her mother were hurt in the blast, but she told me that as a young child she quickly learned how racism demeaned her human spirit.

“Once my class in elementary school was going to go to an amusement park, but I couldn’t go with them because I was black,” she said. “I talked to my mother about not being allowed to go with them and she told me that my father was working to change that. It was then I realized how important his work in civil rights was.”

She began to accompany her father at speeches he gave around the country at the age of 8, and through those experiences, Yolanda told me that she came to realize the depth of the burden, the stress, and the responsibility that her father and her entire family shouldered in leading the movement for equality in America.

“Just like me, he also was nervous before giving speeches to large audiences,” she said. “One thing I will always remember about him is that he always carried a handful of peppermints in his pocket and would put one in his mouth to calm himself and ease his nerves whenever he was speaking. It’s something I find myself doing too and when I do, it reminds me of him and what he stood for.”

Just 12 when she heard the news about her father’s death from a televised breaking news bulletin, it would eventually lead Yolanda to a lifetime of activism. Upon graduation from high school in Georgia, she enrolled at Smith College in Massachusetts and obtained a bachelor’s degree. She then earned a master’s degree in fine arts from New York University and pursued a career in acting, appearing in 10 different movies, including the film “Ghosts of Mississippi” about slain civil rights activist Medger Evers.

After her mother’s death in January 2006, Yolanda was devastated but continued to speak at public gatherings about the legacy of her father and her family’s struggle to overcome the stigma of racism for all Americans.

She died at the age of 51 on May 15, 2007 from a heart condition in Santa Monica, California but each year as we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I stop and reflect on meeting his daughter that day long ago and her last words to me during that interview for my newspaper article.

“So much is still needed to be done,” she said. “We as a people still have not reached the promised land and his dream is only still a dream.” <

Friday, January 12, 2024

The Rookie Mama – Holiday Epilogue: Coming in for the snowy landing

By Michelle Cote
The Rookie Mama

“Still, still, still
One can hear the falling snow
For all is hushed
The world is sleeping…”

Michelle Cote
This traditional Christmas hymn, as beautifully penned and as peaceful as it may be, is really more apropos for January, because during December young parents everywhere feel anything but hushed or still, still, still.

But, still…

We’ve made it to January, folks.

Here’s where things get back to crisp and even.

We’re coming in for the proverbial landing, as the holiday season wraps, and a new year begins.

Until recently, I dreaded the post-Christmas face-hurting tundra that blankets our region until mud season arrives in dirty, due time.

I wanted to teleport directly from holiday season’s end straight to driving with windows down and ‘90s hip-hop music loud on warm days.

But I’ve come to appreciate this stillness, this time of reflection.

Of course, my household is described by neither of those two things, but life’s now as peaceful as it will ever get in the calendar year; January and February are the touch of hibernation, moments to catch our collective breath.

Because like daylight saving clockwork, spring sports will sprout up and camping checklists shall ensue.

Spring will beget the mad dash of summer, a hot and humid sunscreen-slathered sprint of scheduled endeavors straight into fall sports and school days ­­– golden rule days – which winds us up for the calendar slam-bang finale, the mooooost wonderful time of the year.

There are seldom breaks or hushes or stillness of any kind between these bustling seasons until the new year comes again. I appreciate each season, but they’re an exercise in accelerated living.

And so, I’ve gradually come to find high praise for this juncture of low degrees – Talk about an epiphany.

For the two months known to send droves of Mainers to flee for warmer temps, there’s a pleasant lot to be said about this underrated time.

It’s time to put wonderland back in winter.

Consider these wintertime to-dos, many of which can be accompanied by hot cocoa and those candy canes your children amassed last month:

• Make paper snowflakes to adorn your newly de-decored home. Nothing beats the blues of packing away greens and reds like sparkling whites and, well, blues.

• Sled.

• Make a snowman.

• Play board games; teach yourselves new ones

• Cook or bake – Try recipes new for your crew. My oldest son tried his hand at homemade maple ice cream this week. What was truly savory was the gift of time to actually try such an experiment.

• Enroll your kiddos in swim lessons – Parents will appreciate the life skill; kiddos will love that taste of summer.

• Cover a table with paper, grab your paints and get your arts and crafts on.

• Bowl.

• Ice skate.

• Snowshoe.

• Build a snow fort.

• Build an indoor fort – No limits to the possibilities when combining kitchen chairs, blankets, and couch cushions.

• Take a hike – The forest is most magical in wintertime. What better season to identify animal footprints and gaze in wonder at crystalized nature frozen in time?

• Cross-country ski.

• Plan your garden – Daydreaming about spring is as cozy and hopeful as it is sustainable and practical – Gardening’s good for both your soul and your budget, whether you have space for multiple plots or a window-side pot.

• Watch winter sports ­– We love a hockey game.

• Fuel up on good reads from your local public library, and challenge yourself to discover their non-book offerings, too. There’s nothing quite like cozying up to good book during a winter storm!

• Camp out indoors – This is my family’s favorite, so I’ve saved it for last. Living room tenting is a temperature-controlled blast.

Our kiddos enjoy microwaving s’mores – fashioned with leftover chocolate Santas – and cuddling up in the tent to watch a movie classic. And that library I mentioned earlier? There’s a strong chance they offer free movies, too – Something to consider as you plan your evening lineup. There’s never been a better time to make good use of the sudden bonus square footage in your living room than after you’ve just removed a giant tree.

So embrace your inner child along with your actual children and create joy in a way that brings your family the heavenly peace.

Because this stillness of winter season will soon wrap up as a memory, tucked in far recesses of storage space along with your red and green totes from December, giving way to the next season before us.

So sled on, or stay in.

But don’t forget the hot cocoa or microwave Santa s’mores.

­­– Michelle Cote lives in southern Maine with her husband and four sons, and enjoys camping, distance running, biking, gardening, road trips to new regions, arts and crafts, soccer, and singing to musical showtunes – often several or more at the same time!

Insight: Seeing right through invisibility cloaks

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most technologically adept individual and sometimes struggle with online tasks that others seemed to have learned in kindergarten.

It took me a while to learn how to download apps to my iPhone and I still have difficulty converting a PDF to a Word document, but there is a skill I did pick up a few years ago that has come in handy and has saved me a few times from getting scammed by online thieves.

Lately it seems that there are more scammers working hoaxes and schemes than ever before and some of them look so real that I’ve been tempted to follow instructions, yet some hesitancy in me tells me to check it out before giving out my personal information.

Recently I received an email telling me that my Sirius XM satellite radio subscription had expired and to resubscribe, all I had to do was to enter my name, address and credit card information. The logo attached to the email was indeed that of Sirius XM radio, but at second glance, the email appeared fishy to me.

It did not say which car the subscription was for, as I have one in my vehicle and another in my wife’s car. Also, the last time I renewed my Sirius XM subscription, they called me and let me know the VIN number for the vehicle with the subscription expiring. Since my credit card had not expired and I had not changed the card number, I smelled a rat, and I was right.

Upon closer inspection of the email, I was able to uncover the true email of the sender by clicking on the sender line and it was not Sirius XM satellite radio. Instead, it was an email address from Romania and although the body of the email request looked genuine, it was a scam. My subscription in both vehicles runs through mid-year.

Two days after receiving the bogus Sirius XM subscription renewal, another email appeared in my inbox, informing me my Amazon Prime video membership had expired and until I paid my membership fee by clicking on a special link that was provided and giving my credit card information, all access to my Amazon Prime video membership was immediately curtailed.

It didn’t take very long to dispel that, seeing as I can view Amazon Prime video on my iPhone. I was also able to check my membership status on the same webpage and discovered that I had been automatically renewed for the next month just three days before I received this scam email. Like the Sirius XM scam email, this one had Amazon in the “From” line and Amazon logos throughout the body of the email. It looked real and I believe many people will click on it thinking it is genuine.

Once again, the telling factor was to hover over the sender and another email address was revealed, and this one apparently originated on the continent of Africa. I felt relieved to have avoided that internet scam but worry how many others fall for it.

A few years ago, my stepson was looking for an apartment and found a house for rent in his price range on Facebook and it was just two streets from where we live. He told me that he had texted the phone number listed for the rental house and received a quick reply. The person who replied said they were suddenly transferred to Michigan and needed to rent it out immediately. He sent my stepson an application to complete and send back to him, which he did.

Within an hour after sending in the application, the person renting the house texted my stepson back, saying he had checked his employment status and his references, and that they checked out satisfactorily. He texted that because several other people were interested in renting the house, he suggested my stepson send him a $1,000 deposit to hold it for him until the fellow could fly back and sign the lease paperwork with him.

My stepson asked me if I could help him send the deposit because he was unfamiliar with sending the money through Walmart as the person renting the house instructed. I agreed, but I thought it would be prudent to take a short drive to physically look at the house before sending him the deposit.

The exterior of the house looked the same as the Facebook photo. But in the middle of the front yard there was a “For Sale” sign, a car was in the driveway and lights were on inside. That made me wary, so I asked my stepson to ring the doorbell and see if someone was there. A woman answered the door and said she had lived there for 25 years and was downsizing and selling her house. She had no idea that some internet crook had taken her information and was advertising her house as part of a rental scam.

Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of MTV’s “Catfish the TV Show,” I don’t know, but contrary to the philosophy of Ronald Reagan, lately for me, it’s Verify, then Trust.

Andy Young: Becoming a 50-cent intellectual

By Andy Young

Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m the furthest thing from a shopaholic.

I’ve got all the furniture, kitchenware, and clothing I’ll ever need. When the time comes, downsizing is going to be a snap for me.

Except for one major Achilles heel. Leaving me alone in a used book store (as opposed to a used bookstore) is like an unsupervised child in a candy store. The only difference: the kid in the candy store has better impulse control.

It’s not just that I am incapable of walking past a place that sells old books. Once inside such an establishment, I cannot stop myself from purchasing something, or more often several somethings.

On a recent foray into a local used book emporium, I caught sight of a pristine copy of Roget’s Thesaurus of Words for Intellectuals. And just in case I didn’t know what a thesaurus’s purpose is, the cover was emblazoned with the words, “Synonyms, antonyms, and related terms that every smart person should know how to use.”

Since I’ve always wanted to be a smart person, or at least appear to be one, I grabbed that book, raced up to the cash register, and paid its marked price (50 cents!) before some other thrifty aspiring smartie beat me to it.

Curious to learn about what words and terms smart people use, I opened the book to a random page (40). I wasn’t impressed, since I already knew “aware” means to have knowledge of something through alert observation or interpretation of what one sees, hears, or feels. I was also aware (see what I did there?) of several allegedly highbrow synonyms, like astute (quick to learn or grasp; shrewd; sharp-witted), cognizant (aware of the realities of a situation; well-informed), and discerning (showing good insight, judgment, and understanding; discriminating). But my inner inferiority complex began rearing its ugly head when I didn’t recognize some of the words deep thinkers use to describe an astute, cognizant, and discerning individual, including pervious (open or accessible to reason, influence, or argument), sentient (having or capable of perception or feeling; conscious), and perspicacious (characterized by keen mental perception and understanding).

Flipping to page 87, I shrugged at the definition of consistent, an adjective meaning “holding to the same practice or principles; constant adherence; compatible.” Duh! Who doesn’t know that? But as for its synonyms, not only had I not known the meaning of “isochronous” (occurring consistently at regular intervals), it took me several tries to even pronounce it correctly (EYE-so-krone-us).

Frustrated, I flipped to the end of the book looking for synonyms for the word “young.” Given that it’s been our family’s last name for quite some time, I was confident that even the scholars who put together Roget’s Thesaurus of Words for Intellectuals wouldn’t be able to come up with a synonym I didn’t know. “C’mon, geniuses,” I thought, “bring it on.” I knew all about youthful, boyish, juvenile, immature, callow, developing, raw, little, and another dozen or so similar terms.

But to my horror, there weren’t any synonyms for “young.” The last three words deemed worthy of having their synonyms listed in the 442-page, alphabetically arranged tome were “work,” “worthless,” and “writing.” Apparently, the eggheads working for Roget don’t feel that “young” merits inclusion in their obviously nugatory (a synonym for worthless that I picked up on page 419) book.

Okay; so maybe I’m not a genuine intellectual. But I’m sentient enough to recognize a gimcrack (a showy object of little or no value) when I see one.

And besides, I’m still way more perspicacious than any kid in a candy store. <

Barbara Bagshaw: Unelected bureaucrats are restricting our freedoms

By State Rep. Barbara Bagshaw

It doesn’t take a return to lockdowns, business closures, mandated vaccinations, and firing of health care workers during COVID to see our steady march toward authoritarianism.

State Rep. Barbara Bagshaw
Unelected bureaucrats trying to take away your right to choose a political candidate and what kind of car we can drive.

Those are the most recent and blatant examples.

Little by little and in full public view, our rights and freedoms are being stripped away.

This past month unelected Board of Environmental Protection bureaucrats were on the verge of using copy-pasted “California Rules” mandating electric vehicles sales to achieve the goal of eliminating gas engines. Electric vehicles that, despite being available in Maine, have faced slow adoption due to limited range, high entry costs, upstream environmental costs, and the reality of living in a rural state like Maine.

Reality was unavoidable for the board last week when their vote was delayed by widespread power outages that prevented BEP members from driving to the meeting amidst a public emergency. It still appears that the radical idea, opposed by over eighty percent of the public, is on track to limit your options, in both the new and used car market in the future.

This past week Maine’s Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows, unilaterally decided to remove the leading candidate for president from the Maine ballot. She took this partisan action knowing fully that her decision is unconstitutional and will be struck down.

It doesn’t matter if you love or hate a candidate. If you’re a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, your right to choose should not be taken away by any one individual seeking national media attention.

Maine people have the right to have their elections overseen and administered impartially and fairly. The fact that Shenna Bellows was a Presidential Elector for Joe Biden in 2020 calls her ability to be impartial into question. Our election officials should be above reproach and avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

The underlying theme in Augusta is: Government knows what is best for you.

This frightening message is one that can be advanced due to a lack of due process and an overabundance of discretion and power afforded to unelected bureaucrats. These bureaucrats, emboldened by unsubstantiated claims their rules and actions are necessary to save lives, or the environment, or even Democracy itself, are increasingly attempting to quietly advance agendas not supported by Maine people.

Liberty is fundamentally about the freedom to make decisions. Restricting choices, from energy to political candidates, is not the answer. It flies in the face of our Declaration of Independence which states: “--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”

Our constitutional republic was set up to protect our rights not to dominate us. Increasingly, we no longer have a government that works for us. People must be able to decide for themselves who to vote for and what type of car we want to drive.

It is an honor to represent part of Windham in the Legislature. If there is any way that I can be of assistance, please contact me at My office phone number is 207-287-1440. You can find me on Facebook at To receive regular updates, sign up for my e-newsletter at <

Friday, January 5, 2024

Insight: Peering again into my crystal ball

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

As is our annual tradition here at The Windham Eagle newspaper, I humbly offer my insight into the year ahead and a look back at my predictions for the past year.

This started years ago when I never missed a New Year’s Eve episode of ABC’s Nightline television program because that always featured their annual predictions show. Nightline’s host, Ted Koppel, would return the same panel every year of prognosticators including Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and former presidential speechwriter William Safire; economist Arthur Laffer, who was the so-called “architect of the 1980s supply side economics” movement; and former Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford, the dean of American sports commentary.

For an hour on each New Year’s Eve, Koppel would steer the panel through a discussion of their ideas about the future and then each panelist would make three bold predictions for the new year after a short review of the accuracy of the panel’s previous year’s predictions. When Koppel retired from ABC in 2005, the annual New Year’s Eve prediction show ended. William Safire died of pancreatic cancer in 2009 and Frank Deford passed away at age 78 in 2017.

Two years ago, I started my New Year’s tradition by making a few annual predictions of my own.

Let’s review three of my predictions published in this column last year for 2023 and then I’ll offer five new ones for 2024:

** I predicted last year that the film “The Pale Blue Eye” starring Christian Bale would win the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2022. Cate Blanchett will win the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in “Tar” while Austin Butler will receive the Best Actor Award for his tour-de-force role in “Elvis.” The Best Director Oscar would be awarded to Sam Mendes for “Empire of Light” in an upset over Steven Spielberg for “The Fabelmans.” I was incorrect on each of these predictions. The Best Picture Award went to “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” Michelle Yeoh won best actress for that same film and Brendan Fraser won best actor for “The Whale,” while Daniel Kwan won best director for “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”

** I predicted last year that in women’s fashion, anything crocheted would be a hot commodity, including oversized tops and midi-length dresses. That was indeed the case, so put that one down in the win column for my crystal ball.

** I predicted last year that quarterback Tom Brady would be released following the end of the NFL playoffs by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and then signed again for one final season by the New England Patriots. Brady opted for retirement but did not resign with New England and has launched a broadcasting career. During a ceremony at halftime of the Patriots’ first game of the 2023 season in September, New England owner Robert Kraft said that because of Brady’s significant accomplishments with New England, he is waiving the traditional four-year required waiting period for the retired quarterback, and he will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2024 without being elected by balloting.

Here are my five new predictions for 2024 and when we revisit this end-of-year column in The Windham Eagle a year from now, let’s see how accurate my conjectures prove to be.

** Purdue will win the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament in April by defeating Houston in the championship game and the San Francisco 49ers will knock off the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl LVIII in February. The Philadelphia Phillies will win the 2024 World Series by defeating the Houston Astros. In college football, Oklahoma will return to gridiron prominence and win the national championship in an undefeated season that culminates with a decisive victory over Alabama in the NCAA title game.

** NASA will successfully launch Artemis II in November for a manned spaceflight around the moon and back as the U.S. takes its first steps to establish a scientific mission there.

** In fashion, beanie caps featuring wild designs, an array of colors and large corporate logos will be all the rage for men. As for women’s fashion, luxury jumpsuits with florals and bows will dominate the year. Ankle straps will continue to explode in popularity for women’s shoes.

** “Oppenheimer” will win the Best Picture Academy Award for 2023. “Barbie” director Greta Gerwin will take home the best director award. Paul Giamatti will win the best actor award for “The Holdovers” and Carey Mulligan will be honored as best actress for her role in “Maestro.”

** I foresee people across the world increasing their commitment to renewable energy and sustainable practices out of sheer economic necessity. As the cost of heating homes, electricity, water, and the aftermath of storms takes its toll on all of us, moving to less costly resources will drive the mindsets of millions and lead to research that yields clean, inexpensive alternatives.

Once again, I probably need to remind you that I’m certainly not in the league of Nostradamus or the distinguished celebrity Nightline panel, but as Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Wishing a Happy New Year in 2024 to one and all.

Andy Young: A stroll, a rose, and a brownie

By Andy Young

Stephen was six months younger than I was, but he was my first-ever “best friend.” Our moms were sisters, and our families lived less than two miles apart.

The two of us played for opposing Little League baseball squads. The closest my team ever got to winning a championship came the year we both turned 12. The good guys, the Hawks, entered the final inning of the final game trailing his team, the perennially powerful Bears, by two runs. A victory would have tied us for the first half title, but with the tying runs on base Steve, a skilled pitcher, got me to make the last out on a pop-up to the first baseman.

I never forgot that soul-crushing moment. He characteristically never mentioned it again.

Another of our childhood pastimes involved writing “Chance” cards for “On the Road,” a Monopoly-like board game one of us had invented. While my brother, most of my male cousins and I competed to see who could invent the most horrific consequences (typical example: “Get run over by steamroller; lose life”), Steve took a different, less gruesome tactic. His most memorably creative cards included, “Take a stroll around the grounds,” “Smell a sweet rose,” and “Have a brownie for dessert.”

Life changed radically for us during the middle of our 8th grade year. Uncle Eddie changed jobs, meaning Steve and his five siblings were relocated from our small Connecticut hometown to far-off Pennsylvania. It might as well have been to Mars, since none of us had ever been there before, either. Our families would visit every summer, but inevitably everyone grew up, even if some of us did so more slowly than others.

As an adult Steve stood out at nearly everything he did. A highly rated chess player, he won several local Scrabble tournaments, and was a wizard at Trivial Pursuit. His skills weren’t just cognitive, either; he also excelled at softball and table tennis. And for those who measure a person’s worth or intelligence by the number of college degrees they’ve collected, consider this: Steve’s formal education ended the day he graduated from high school.

This past Thanksgiving Steve, who rarely consulted doctors, quietly confided to me that he was having some health issues. Those concerns were justified; in early December he learned he was gravely ill. The doctors gave him four weeks.

Steve always hated using the phone, which was why I was thrilled when he called to chat for nearly half an hour the Sunday after he entered hospice care. He reflected gratefully and joyfully about the fun that we’d had as kids, adding that given the life he’d experienced, he had no reason to complain about his current situation.

That interaction convinced me and my two sons to take a Friday off from work and drive five hours south to see him one last time. When we arrived Steve’s body was weak, but his spirit was dynamic. We spent an hour reminiscing about our childhood adventures, and he kindly regaled my wide-eyed boys with several stories (some heavily embellished, others wholly fictitious) about what a great guy their dad was.

I messaged Steve when we got home that night, and the next morning he responded. “Wanted to have a brownie for breakfast,” texted the man with terminal cancer, “but I guess an apple is better for me.”

Twelve hours later he died.

I’ve got one important New Year’s resolution for 2024. Sometime this coming spring, after taking a stroll around the grounds, I’m going to find a sweet rose to smell while I enjoy having a brownie for dessert. <