Category Archive 'Maine'
23 Dec 2017
The story that Guy Mellgren told about the curious silver coin began on the shores of Maine, where he met a stranger named Goddard. In the fall of 1956, Mellgren and Ed Runge, a pair of amateur archaeologists, had come in search of the most basic of coastal dig sitesâ€”a shell middenâ€”when they happened onto a more unusual discovery.
Goddard had invited them to explore his shoreline property, and there, on a natural terrace about eight feet above the high tide line, they found stone chips, knives, and fire pits, along with an abundance of other unexpected artifacts. Each summer for many years, Mellgren and Runge returned to excavate the â€œGoddard Site,â€ with little help from professional archaeologists. In the second summer, they produced the coin.
For two decades, based on an analysis by a friend in a numismatics club, Mellgren described it as a coin minted in 12th-century England, and no one questioned that identification. The discovery should have been noteworthyâ€”thereâ€™s no good explanation for how a medieval English coin could have crossed the Atlanticâ€”but Mellgren never sought wider attention for the find. It was a curiosity to show off to friends and his sonâ€™s classmates, until, in 1978, a scrappy regional bulletin published a picture of the coin and an article titled, â€œWere the English the First to Discover America?â€
That picture found its way to a well-known London dealer, who recognized at once that the coin could not have come from England. Two weeks after Mellgren died, the coinâ€™s reidentification swept into the news. It was a Norse penny, made between 1065 and 1093â€”evidence for Viking contact with North America centuries before Columbus.
All of sudden, experts from around the world began taking a careful look at the details of Mellgrenâ€™s story. Of many objects purported to prove a Viking presence in North America, only the artifacts painstakingly excavated at Lâ€™Anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland, have stood up to investigation. The restâ€”the Beardmore relics, the Vinland Map, the notorious Kensington Rune Stoneâ€”are all considered hoaxes.
Since 1978, no one has questioned that the Mellgren coin is an authentic Norse penny, made in medieval Scandinavia. But 60 years after Mellgrenâ€™s find, archaeologists and numismatic experts are still asking how in the world this small, worn coin got to Maine.
Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.
02 Sep 2016
National Geographic reports that the Westbrook, Maine snakeskin has been identified as coming from a Green Anaconda.
August 21st — Snakeskin story
Westbrook officials sent a sample of the snakeskin off to John Palcyk, a biologist at the University of Texas at Tyler, for genetic analysis. Placyk then sequenced the skinâ€™s mitochondrial genome and found that it belonged to an anacondaâ€”a shocking find that officials announced on August 30.
â€œIt was pretty unexpected, Iâ€™ll tell you that,â€ Palcyk said to Steve Annear of the Boston Globe. â€œThis was a 100 percent match to an anaconda.â€
To refine the ID, Placyk sent along his sequence to JesÃºs Rivas, an anaconda expert at New Mexico Highlands University, who compared it to a genetic database of anacondas from across South America.
In a phone call, Rivas says that the skin belongs to a female green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) thatâ€™s at least 10 to 12 years old, based on the skinâ€™s size. The snakeâ€™s genetic quirks also suggest that its ancestors were most likely from Peru or Bolivia, though the snake probably was bred in the United States. (Find out more about green anacondasâ€”the worldâ€™s largest snakes, pound for pound.)
So how did the snake end up in Maine?
First, itâ€™s still not clear whether the skinâ€™s placement was an elaborate hoax meant to stoke Wessie hype. But if Westbrook is legitimately home to a loose anaconda, Lally thinks that it was released into the wild by its owners, perhaps because they could no longer care for it.
â€œIt would have had to come from someone who either caught it or bought it somewhere, brought it here, and then decided to let it go, for some reason,â€ he says.
The green anaconda can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh a whopping 200 pounds. That’s a big body to feed. And the world’s largest rodent, the capybara, is the perfect entree.
This sort of reptile buyerâ€™s remorse is rare in Maine, says Lally, but it happens elsewhere in the United States. In Florida, the phenomenon has contributed to a boomingâ€”and ecologically disastrousâ€”population of Burmese pythons in the Everglades, an invasive group seeded mostly by the 1992 destruction of a reptile breeding facility by Hurricane Andrew. (Find out how pythons have wreaked havoc on Floridaâ€™s native wildlife.)
But given the snakeâ€™s size and age, Rivas suspects that its owners were dedicated, and he maintains instead that the anaconda got out of its enclosure. â€œPeople who have a snake of this size normally are responsible keepers, [and] itâ€™s very unlikely that they donâ€™t have the awareness that the snake wonâ€™t survive in the wild,â€ says Rivas. â€œI doubt that it was released; more likely, it escaped.â€
If Wessieâ€™s owners accidentally lost her, however, thereâ€™s a good reason why they arenâ€™t putting up â€œlost petâ€ signs: Itâ€™s illegal in Maine to own an anaconda.
Regardless, Maineâ€™s bitterly cold winter ensures that the snakeâ€™s escape will be brief, one way or another. In the wild, Rivas says that anacondas arenâ€™t found in areas with temperatures below 72Â°F. Temperatures below 50Â°F are considered fatal, and night temperatures in Maine are poised to cross that threshold.
â€œIf there is an anaconda, itâ€™ll be dead pretty soon,â€ says Lally.
Lally adds that the snake doesnâ€™t pose a major public safety threat, though he recommends that people not let their dogs and cats loose along the Presumpscot River. In the meantime, officials continue to look for the snakeâ€”and Rivas remains hopeful that they can catch it alive and unharmed.
â€œItâ€™s a curiosity, not a crisis,â€ says Rivas. â€œThe only one in danger here is the anaconda.â€
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
21 Aug 2016
Bangor Daily News:
Westbrook police are warning residents after a large snake skin was found near the Presumpscot River on Saturday.
Police said a resident reported finding a shed snake skin along the Presumpscot River around 3 p.m. near the carry-in boat launch in the area of Riverbank Park.
Westbrook police officers photographed, collected and tagged the skin, which will be examined in attempts to determine what type of snake it came from and what risks this type of snake poses to public safety. …
This comes after two Westbrook police officers spotted a 10-foot snake eating a large mammal along the riverbank in Riverbank Park in June.
Since June, the snake has developed a following. It’s been named “Wessie.” It has a Twitter page. And the local Mast Landing Brewery created a “Wessie” IPA in its honor. Wessie beer was so popular that Mast Landing had sold out of it as of August 4th.
04 May 2015
Sippi takes a walk and admires a neighbor.
On a street not far from here lives a man. I do not know him, but I have waved and said hello. He is salubrious in a way I admire. He has lived here forever and a day, I imagine, and watched his town disintegrate. He refuses to go along. His house is conspicuous. It is so yellow that Van Gogh would throw in the towel and go back to the store and start shopping for raw umber. He crawls up and down it, and all around it, and it is as neat as a pin. He does everything himself. He put up a big fence around his yard, an enormous undertaking, and never flagged until he was done. Every surface is clean and bright and in good repair, everywhere you can see. It is the only structure in this town I can describe in that way.
We stopped walking down his street a while back because his neighbors were disreputable. On one side was a house gone to seed for forty years or more. The denizens had approximately 150 snot-nosed urchins who played in the street, which I rather enjoyed seeing, but they kept two, hair-trigger pitbulls the size of donkeys, and you could never tell if they were tied up or not. These animals represented a desire to publicly contract ebola so you could get your own seat on the subway of life. Fine by me.
On the other side of the neat house was a two-family affair that looked in rather better shape, but that’s not to say good. There were no obvious structural issues visible to my eye at two hundred yards, which is more than I can say about my house. The house had been occupied by a series of Hatfields and McCoys, cars by the dozens, but somehow never with an even number of tires, abandoned toys everywhere, stray cats outside and stray people inside. I never saw an actual person who lived there outside, a mark of the breed. One minute the window curtain would be a confederate flag, then the rental merry-go-round would spin and a Sponge-Bob beach towel would take its place. The stray cats were the only constant.
The man in the perfect yellow house persevered. He painted his driveway and waxed his lawn and dusted his roof shingles. He polished his trees and chromed the inside of his mailbox. He was adamantine. He was, and is, a species of wonderful.
He must have gotten weary of the noise, and the trouble, and the endless low-rent hubbub. I testify to you, with God as my witness, that when the houses on both sides of him decided to spin the wheel of occupancy one more time, he bought them both, and he gave them the delenda est. Flattened them. There was a pile of lead-painted pickup sticks on one side, waiting for the next round of dumpsters, and the one on the other side was nothing but a patch of straw with the first hint of grass yet to poke through.
That man knows something. Something important. It’s not that he knows exactly what would show up in the two houses when the For Sale or For Rent signs came down. He’s not pretending to tell fortunes at the fair. What he knew, for a dead cert, was that there was no chance of any change bringing anything but: Worse.
I should get out more often.
Read the whole thing.
29 Mar 2015
The statue of Minerva had suffered a lot of weather damage, and required re-gilding last year.
Clara Mayerovich arrived in Boston in the Summer of 1905 to join her immigrant husband Samuel who was already resident in the United States, operating his own business as a metal fabricator and coach builder. Clara’s departure from Odessa was precipitated by the outbreak of Revolution and associated Jewish pogroms in that city.
Within four years, Sam Mayerovich was working with sculptor William Clark Noble on a 15′(4.572 m.) statue of the Goddess Minerva for the dome of the newly remodeled Maine State House. Clara was the model.
It’s difficult to contend that America does not have a tradition of offering unusual opportunities to immigrants.
My wife Karen was looking at the old newspaper articles the other day, and wrote up the whole story.
12 Jan 2014
Winter in Rumford, Maine brings out the best of Sippi‘s repartee.
Winter came like a postcard a long time ago. The snow drifted down in slow motion, the big, fat flakes parachuting in and accumulating gently on the frosted earth. There was a lot, all at once, and in the morning the birdhouse wore a pope’s hat, and the birdbath was a cheesecake. The sun shone and the trees wore their coat of flakes like ermine.
Then the rain came. It turned the pope’s hat to a drunkard’s fedora, and the cheesecake to a dog’s breakfast. It came down mechanically, at an angle that could be measured anywhere along its route, as methodical as a secret policeman; the icicles on the eaves turned from a little fringe to dragon’s teeth. The trees threw their coats on the ground with their shivering, and left craters like the moon in the slumping snow.
Then it did it all again. Snow fell on top of the icy film over the styrofoam snow, and brought Currier and Ives back to town. Then the ice came and put Currier and Ives in the stocks in the town square for the crime of being jolly out of turn, and pelted them with everything handy. The roads turned to suggestions. The pavement was just the bottom layer of an arctic lasagne of sand and ice and mud and snow and general corruption. My wife’s car and my truck told me to shove it more than once when I turned their keys.
Then the thermometer began a truth or dare phase. It had been ten degrees below normal for months, but now it wanted to impress people. Pinch the unwary. Show you who’s in charge around here. Twice it showed me twenty below and kept going, and days ticked off the calendar, one after another, without ever reaching the number one. The ladder to spring had been drawn up into the calendar’s treehouse. We’d have to set a spell and wait for it.
There is no heat but what we can make. I shoveled the logs into the stove like a man in the belly of some great, dripping, iron ship, while icebergs passed by the portholes in first class. Nothing you could do could touch twenty below. You could set your house itself on fire and not raise the temperature in the living room ninety degrees. What chance do you and your disassembled birches and beeches have? But one bails a leaky rowboat whether you have a bucket or a teaspoon.
03 Jan 2014
Sippi lives in Rumford, Maine, where they have serious winters and he’s not yearning for places without seasons where it never snows.
[C]old as a concept is not as bad as many make it. It is a fact, here. It will be below zero, day and night, for three days in a row. It will be ten, fifteen, maybe push twenty below zero at night. Winter is not fooling around anymore. So what.
Winter is a full time job in Maine, E. B. White said. But he lived Downeast, where it’s warm compared to here. But he understood. You have to look it straight in the face, and deal with it. You can’t go out in your socks and scrape the frost from your windshield with a credit card. I’ve made over 500 fires already, and I’ve only used one match, once, to do it. You have to prepare yourself for winter. It reminds you that you’re mortal, and that there are seasons, and those seasons have meaning. It shows you that your life will pass you by if you’re not careful. Winter is useful that way.
I see a great number of people talking about how they’re going to deal with a coming apocalypse. They’re going to hoard this and grow that. They’re going to be the Omega Man crossed with Johnny Appleseed. Forgive me, but life is plenty hard here, and I can’t help but notice you’re not moving in next door to me before the apocalypse. I doubt you will the day after. If winter is too much for you, I doubt you’re prepared for an army of zombie Robespierres or whatever it is you’re planning for.
I can’t say I like the winter. I’ve always been cold. Poor people are often cold, and I have been poor in my life. I’m not a fool and I don’t like misery. But I respect the winter here. It’s a worthy adversary, and so, goddamn it, am I. Bring it on.
05 Oct 2012
Detail of GOP attack mailer
The Politico reports that, in the State of Maine, one candidate’s World of Warcraft gaming hobby has become a campaign issue.
In an unusual press release issued Thursday, the Maine GOP attacked Lachowicz for a â€œbizarre double lifeâ€ in which sheâ€™s a devotee of the hugely popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft. In the game, sheâ€™s â€œSantiaga,â€ an “orc assassination rogue” with green skin, fangs, a Mohawk and pointy ears.
Lachowicz is a Democrat running against incumbent state Sen. Tom Martin in south-central Maine, a heavily Democratic district of about 80,000 people. Martin, elected in 2010, is the first Republican to hold the seat since the 1960s, and his seat is one Democrats are eager to flip back.
Lachowicz has blogged under her own name about her World of Warcraft achievements as well as left-wing politics in a dedicated section of the liberal DailyKos.Com. The Maine GOP excerpted several provocative lines form her posts including one on tax policy that concludes, â€œNow if youâ€™ll excuse me, I may have to go and hunt down Grover Norquist and drown him in my bathtub.â€
Other postings use curse words and make to the joy of â€œstab[bing] things,â€ joke about â€œbeing in a Socialist guildâ€ and admit to â€œseriously slacking off at work.â€
Actually, I think the Maine Republican Party has a point there.
I don’t personally see anything wrong with on-line fantasy gaming, but residents of that senatorial district ought to ask themselves: Do I want for my state senator the kind of person who chooses the identity of an Orc? Orcs are green-colored, unintelligent, primitives affiliated with the Horde, “a ravenous war machine fueled by demonic energy,” which is to say, the really, really bad guys.
Professionally, Ms. Lachowicz has chosen to have her avatar pursue the career of an assassination rogue.
WoW decribes the rogue class thusly:
For rogues, the only code is the contract, and their honor is purchased in gold. Free from the constraints of a conscience, these mercenaries rely on brutal and efficient tactics. Lethal assassins and masters of stealth, they will approach their marks from behind, piercing a vital organ and vanishing into the shadows before the victim hits the ground.
So, voters also need to ask themselves, is the kind of person who chooses for her avatar the conspicuously unethical class of rogue likely to be the kind of person we want making fiscal decisions for our state?
On the whole, I think one wants to be voting into public offices of trust and responsibility the kind of people who, when they play Warcraft, make their avatars humans, elves, or pandarens (Yoda types), and who adopt good guy professions like Paladin or Priest, or at least neutral professions like Hunter or Warlock.
Run around electing the kind of person whose avatar is a Level 68 Orc Assassination Rogue and you are going to be getting the likes of Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi.
06 Apr 2010
You know that Spring is really here when young activist women march topless in Portland, Maine to protest discriminatory laws about exposing the upper body in public.
Tactically, the use of the sight of nubile female breasts with the object of punishing the phallocratic enemy might seem a bit ill-conceived and fundamentally ineffective, but the more sophisticated of us realize that demonstrations always have multiple and diverse goals and that, particularly in the Spring, some young women just enjoy flaunting their assets.
Some people’s jaws hit the ground, plenty of men showed up with cameras, and others – including parents with their children – were just plain offended, as almost two dozen topless women marched in Maine’s largest city.
The women drew a crowd of over 500 onlookers when they shed their shirts and marched in downtown Portland on Saturday to promote what they call “equal-opportunity public toplessness.”
Organizer Ty MacDowell said the point of the march was that a topless woman out in public shouldn’t attract any more attention than a man who walks around without a shirt.
Good luck with that.
According to The Portland Press Herald, by the end of the march more than 500 people had amassed – a mix of marchers, young men snapping photos, oglers and people just out enjoying a warm sunny day.
“We should be able to walk down the street and not have this many men taking pictures of us,” a participant shouted.
07 Apr 2008
I was arguing last night with one of my snobbish Yale friends who, though conservative, has imbibed enough of the toxic perspective of the elect to view the Religious Right as a major problem.
I contended that coercion, these days, was typically coming from intolerant secularists determined to drive religious symbols out of public spaces, and eager to punish private individuals or groups (like the Boy Scouts) who differ with them on moral issues. My friend countered by alluding to a legislative proposal in some retarditaire fly-over state which would compel Reproductive Health clinics to notify parents before supplying birth control items to persons under 18.
My own view is that children are expensive and a lot of trouble. Their parents, not the state or Planned Parenthood, brought them into the world, fed them, housed them, clothed them, and sat up with them when they were sick. Parents have a right to bring their children up with their own values. And parents’ rights include, at least, the formal (even if only theoretical) right of deciding if Peggy Sue at age 17 can go on the pill. Practically, I expect lots of 17-year-old kids can, and do, go around their parents and make these kinds of decisions for themselves, but that’s their business. These are matters for individuals and families to decide, not for teachers or school administrators, and not for government or public interest groups.
The notion that “we know better, kids are going to have sex, and we’re going to give them the tools to have sex without consequences whether their parents like it or not” is arrogant, simplistic, and typical of the liberal elite which is universally ready, willing, and eager to intrude into everyone else’s private sphere in order to tell everyone just what’s best for him.
I’m not religious or particularly Puritanical, but even I find the story below, from Natural News (4/3/08), appalling.
A middle school in Portland, Maine is considering a proposal to provide birth control pills and patches to students as young as 11 years old. King Middle School launched a reproductive health program after five of the 135 students who visited the school’s health center in 2006 reported being sexually active. The program already provides condoms to students, but the new proposal would expand this to include prescriptions for birth control pills and patches (which would then have to be purchased at a pharmacy).
The contraceptives could be dispensed without the knowledge of parents, although written permission would be required for children to receive (unspecified) services from the health center.
The proposed program has attracted controversy, with some people accusing the schools of taking away parental power and encouraging children to have sex too early. But school officials dispute these claims.
“We do certainly sit down and speak with them about why [being sexually active] is not a good choice,” said Amanda Rowe, the school’s nurse coordinator. “But there are some who persist… and they need to be protected.”
Logan Levkoff, a sexologist and relationship expert, said that while the school may be stepping into a role that would better be filled by parents, many parents do not feel comfortable enough to do so. “Parents should be the sex educator for their children,” Levkoff said. “The problem is not every parent feels empowered [to do so].”
Parents interviewed by ABC News were split on their feelings about the proposal.
“I don’t think I would want my child in middle school to be getting birth control pills unless I had something to do with it,” one woman said.
But another woman, a mother, disagreed: “I think that education at that age is appropriate because our culture is saturated with messages about sex,” she said.
Natural News is running a story which really dates back to last Fall.
After an outbreak of pregnancies among middle school girls, education officials in this city have decided to allow a school health center to make birth control pills available to girls as young as 11.
Maine’s King Middle School is the first in the state to offer full range of contraceptives to 6th-8th graders.
King Middle School will become the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available, including birth control pills and patches. Condoms have been available at King’s health center since 2000.
Students need parental permission to access the school’s health center. But treatment is confidential under state law, which allows the students to decide whether to inform their parents about the services they receive.
There are no national figures on how many middle schools provide such services. Most middle schoolers range in age from 11 to 13.
“It’s very rare that middle schools do this,” said Divya Mohan, a spokeswoman for the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care.
Portland’s three middle schools reported 17 pregnancies during the last four years, not counting miscarriages or terminated pregnancies that weren’t reported to the school nurse.
The Portland School Committee approved the plan, offered by city health officials, on a 7-2 vote Wednesday night. Whether the prescriptions would be offered this school year or next wasn’t immediately clear.
King is the only one of the three schools with a health center, primarily because it has more students who get free or reduced-price lunch, said Lisa Belanger, who oversees Portland’s student health centers.
Five of the 134 students who visited King’s health center during the 2006-07 school year reported having sexual intercourse, said Amanda Rowe, lead nurse in Portland’s school health centers.
16 Jun 2007
Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram proudly prints the results of a bunch of 4th grade students dutifully regurgitating the misinformation and fantasies provided by some lamebrain elementary school teacher.
We want everyone to help curb Global warming. It truly means that the Earth is getting warmer. The ocean is warming at such an alarming rate that the continents are in danger.
Such a warming of the ocean is fuel for more severe hurricanes such as Katrina. Katrina was only a Category 1 storm when it crossed Florida. It became a monster storm by feeding off the extremely warm water in the Gulf of Mexico.
Not just the ocean temperature, but also the overall temperature on the planet is rising to dangerous levels.
The 10 “hottest” average years on record have occurred within the last 14 years. We continue to see record carbon dixoide (sic) levels in the atmosphere year after year. Just notice the strange weather around us this winter and spring and even summer-like days in March.
The United States is the leading contributor to the global- warming crisis, producing one-third of the total greenhouse gases in the world, more than South America, Africa, Asia and
Please think about what people are doing and what could happen if they do not stop.
4th graders are 9-11 years old. Who could be better qualified to judge just how unusual the weather was this year?
A sensible person living in Maine would be hoping and praying that Global Warming was taking place. With plenty of it and some luck, it might kill off those black flies.