Category Archives: Home

Teachers matter: How Mr. Miskell changed the world

On one afternoon almost 40 years ago, my ninth grade geometry teacher, Mr. Miskell, stood in front of a chalkboard, paused, and then proceeded to change the world – making it a better place for me, forever. This time of year, around Labor Day, with local schools gearing up for a new year, my thoughts always […]

Caring for an elderly parent: life’s grand irony

In the spring of 2013, I was wheeling my mother Catherine to a doctor’s appointment. As we entered the waiting room, a dutiful daughter around my age pushed her mother’s wheelchair out. The two silver setters glanced at each other knowingly, and Mom offered up the following assessment: “We used to push them around in their baby […]

150 years: How the Civil War enabled later global conflicts

What does one sloppy skirmish have to do with a global war eight decades later? More importantly, why should we care? Thanks to the heroic exploits of Gen. Joshua Chamberlain, and others, Maine enjoys one of the proudest traditions of the Civil War. Still, up here in New England – where revolutionary unrest and fervor […]

Personal blogging is not journalism

I really enjoy reading personal Web logs, or blogs as they are universally known, and I take in several on regular basis. They can be entertaining, informative, and educational. But rarely can they be called journalism. I’m not talking about blogs written by journalists at the behest of their news outlets, or those of subject matter experts or professional commentators […]

Four ways to oblivion

Even though my son Jason once turned getting his driver’s license into an odyssey, the one thing at which he excelled was knowledge of traffic rules. So I always smiled when we reached a four-way stop and he asked: “Dad, why do so many people go at the wrong time?” That was an astute observation for someone who […]

Where have you gone, Mayberry?

Sometimes, when you’re flicking channels, you just have to stop and watch for awhile. That’s what happened to me this week while surfing through news reports. From children at the border with Mexico, to corpses being dragged around Gaza, I saw the momentary black-and-white blur of Andy Griffith’s retro coif. It made me pause. So I sat […]

What E.E. Cummings teaches us about love and death

Earlier this summer, after riding my bike along the Greenbelt in South Portland, I pit stopped at Bug Light Park to take a break and watch the waves and kite flyers. There, at a nearby bench, a young man serenaded a beautiful redhead from an open book. The girl sat with one hand over her mouth, hiding a smile, […]

An immigration tale: Yiayia’s American dream

Last week, in my piece on soccer, I wrote about several immigrant boys playing a pick up game on Portland’s Western Prom. They probably came from the neighborhood surrounding nearby Howard C. Reiche Community School. Whenever walking my dogs that way, I wave and nod to families sitting out on their stoops in the cooler sunsets. They come from […]

How can Jurgen Klinsmann really improve the U.S. national men’s soccer team?

This week I was walking my dogs on the Western Prom in Portland and witnessed a rarity: a pickup soccer game. The 5 boys were in the 10-12 year range, and were playing a makeshift half-field contest, 2-on-2 with 1 goalie. As best I could tell, 3 boys were African and 2 Hispanic or Middle Eastern, […]

As the latest wars wind down, can we do better dealing with PTSD?

When I was a boy, there were times my father would break into a cold sweat for no apparent reason, and sit frozen in his recliner like death warmed over. Once, he flew into a rage over some minor infraction and started hitting my sister until my mother intervened. He retreated into his bedroom, sobbing like a baby […]