Monday, March 29, 2010

The Land Giveth... and the Wind Industry 'Taketh' Away

While preparing to speak about industrial wind at an upcoming town meeting, I was going over some informational documents pertaining to this new phenomenon sweeping across our state. As I perused The US Dept. of the Interior’s ‘Guidelines for Building and Operating Wind Energy Facilities in Maine’, I became incensed.

The guidelines were designed for the Wind Industry. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, which is charged with ensuring the safety and viability of this country’s wild and aquatic creatures, goes to some length to inform the developers of wind turbine installations how to site their energy facilities for minimal impact on those species. I felt hope as I began to read. Perhaps there actually was a government agency stepping up to the plate and doing what was right… doing its job! But it didn’t take me long to realize that, once again, America was dropping the ball. It was obvious that one more government agency has been told that Industrial Wind is ‘environmentally friendly’, and therefore, they must allow its presence on the unspoiled mountaintops of Maine.

The report deals specifically with wildlife laws applying to wind power, including the Endangered Species Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty. Throughout the report wind industry developers are ‘encouraged’ to study in advance the potential adverse effects to native wildlife. They are ‘encouraged’ to develop site evaluations. They are ‘encouraged’ to incorporate measures to avoid and minimize risks. When it comes to tampering with wetlands, the Wildlife Service ‘strongly supports’ a sequential approach to ‘avoid, minimize, and mitigate wetland impacts’.

I couldn’t believe what I read. Not once did this report from the department which is charged with protecting our living, breathing natural resources say, ‘You WILL study the potential adverse impacts on our wildlife!’ or ‘You WILL incorporate measures to avoid risks!’ And even if they DID issue those directives, the developer still had all the power. For it is the developer who hires the consultants and scientists for these studies. These experts don’t work for the government, or for the wildlife. They work for the Wind Industry. That is a direct conflict of interest, no matter how you look at it

To do this right, the Service should stipulate what types of studies are done, and the duration and amount of detail required for each one. And while the developers absolutely should pay for the costs of the research required, that money should be put into an escrow account overseen by a third party with no bias. And it should be the Service which chooses the biologists and specialists, not the developer. That is only good common sense.

But the lack of firm direction and oversight was not what infuriated me the most. When discussing the wildlife and the potential to do it harm, these guidelines only pertain to certain species; eagles, Canada lynxes, migrating birds and bats, and the like. Our native creatures which are not ‘protected’ seem to be given no credence at all. What about the effects these industrial turbines will have on our moose population, which move to the high ground in the winter for the forage and protection and less-encumbering snow depths? Those sheltered areas will be cleared of many of the softwoods that they rely on. Our deer herds have suffered recently, too, from harsh winters and massive logging operations. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife admits they know very little about the effects that these industrial developments will have on the foraging and hunting abilities of our native creatures, or how they will effect their mating habits, reproduction capabilities and hibernation instincts. And yet, these other species don’t seem to be taken into account when ‘encouraging’ developers to ‘utilize’ the Service’s guidelines.

And then, there is the ‘take’. The US Department of the Interior defines it thusly: “‘Take’ means to pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb.’ And ‘disturb’ under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, means to agitate or bother “to a degree that causes, or is likely to cause…injury to an eagle, or a decrease in its productivity by substantially interfering with its normal breeding, feeding or sheltering behavior.”

Understand this: It is illegal to ‘take’ those animals on the aforementioned lists of endangered or protected species. You and I would be in big trouble if we molested, disturbed or shot at any of those animals. Big trouble! That’s as it should be. And yet–and I’m quoting from the guidelines again–‘If take of a listed species is anticipated, wind developers are encouraged to contact the Service to discuss obtaining an incidental take permit’. ‘A permit is necessary to avoid potential liability for take.’

Instead of advocating for a ‘no take’ policy, the department charged with safeguarding our endangered and protected species is looking out for the well-being of the wind industry! They are telling them in advance that if, in fact, the developers do foresee the ‘taking’ of these special animals, they should get a permit to do so, first. So that they won’t be held liable!

This is wrong. However one looks at these policies and the way they are written, they are simply wrong! Skewed. Biased towards one particular industry, and at the expense of our native wildlife.

There are so many reasons why these guidelines should be scrapped, and why a real set of uncompromising standards should be written–standards that the wind industry must adhere to, just like the average Mainer has to.

I could go on indefinitely. Instead, I will point out one more gem from this set of guidelines designed for the burgeoning Wind Industry. It relates to migratory bird and bat ‘mortality events’. The Service says that if more than twenty-five individual birds or bats are ‘taken’ in a twenty-four hour period, that ‘should’ be reported to the Service within twenty-four hours. Any less than twenty-five? Those bird and bat deaths can be summarized in annual reports provided to the Maine Field Office. I’ll bet the wind industry hopes only 8,759 birds and bats die at each industrial wind development every year. It would surely cut down on the amount of paperwork the developers ‘should’ provide to the Field Office.

It’s time to put a stop to this madness. We’re dallying where we’ve no right to be in the first place. Big Wind should not get special dispensation when it comes to the health and well-being of this land’s inhabitants, be they human or wild. Please get involved and make your voices heard.

The top picture came to me in an email from my friend Wally McKenney.
I think (if my memory isn't failing me) the second photo of the bald eagle was taken by my father, game warden (retired) Chuck Bessey.
The third photo of the soaring eagle was taken by me in September of 2009, in the skies over my home-- Lexington Township. Yeah... it could have been a great picture if I'd taken the time to read the instructions that came with my camera...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Calling All Non-Lewd, Non-Bawdy Friends!!!

I’ll be performing a little bit of stand-up comedy on April 10th at Carrabec High School in North Anson. A neighbor is battling cancer, and as often happens in Maine’s small rural communities, friends and family are gathering ‘round to offer emotional and financial support. When the folks organizing this benefit supper called and asked me if I would entertain the troops after the meal, I said ‘yes’. Of course I did.

I was calm, cool and collected. I had no worries. They were only asking for a half-hour’s worth of humor. No prob! Surely, that would be a piece of cake!

And then, it hit me. This was a community dinner. An event that families were coming out for. And families most often include… children.

Holy smokes. Children. Kids. Rug-rats, ankle-biters! Oh, no!!!

Please understand, it’s not that I don’t like kids: I do! I speak to tweens and teens in schools all the time, and I’ve raised three children of my own. Kids don’t intimidate me in the least, and I occasionally even enjoy their company. Really! Honest! I mean, I can, if I have to... But I am being asked to perform my particular brand of comedy at a benefit supper, and I’ve got to tell you… I am not ‘G’ rated!

This is a catastrophe in the making! You may just witness me self-destruct!

Oh, I have no doubt that children are sophisticated, nowadays, and probably anything I could say would be less offensive than what they hear on television or say themselves when amongst their peers. But the problem is, their parents will be in the audience, too! And I certainly do not want to get on the wrong side of some righteously indignant mothers and fathers!

So, I can’t relate the tale of the wet t-shirt contest gone dry. I can’t tell the story about the horny moose. Or the horny Corgi. Or the naked customer. I can’t relive the bonehead moment about my cleavage, or the one about my pantyhose and the errant bit of toilet tissue. Gone is the story about the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the tale of the x-rated tool belt. I must keep silent concerning the f-bomb and the accidental pot plant. No one will be regaled by the tale of my encounter with strippers, or of broken dungaree zippers.


Seriously... HELP!!!

I need some ideas, here! I need people with minds uncorrupted by the earthiness that seems to have invaded my own to give me some clean material. I know it exists. I mean, I couldn’t have always had a bawdy sense of humor, right? Clearly, there must have been a time when I told jokes that were as pure as the new fallen snow. Funny stories which were inoffensive and mild? Surely, I wasn’t always this…this…

Damn. I’ve got nothing.

Okay. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s time for another contest. Readers of Grumbles and Grins have never let me down, yet!

Calling all purveyors of jolly jokes, innocent idioms, witty witticisms and quirky quips! I’ll even entertain some amusing anecdotes! Some tall tales! Anything, as long as the telling of it will not get me run out of town on a rail by irate parents!

How about this idea? For every innocuous joke or inoffensive narrative I receive that I deem useable in my performance, I will donate $2.00 to the fund for the family we are benefitting. I have to put a cap on it of 25 jokes or $50.00, but I would dearly love to reach that goal!

What do you say, my friends? It’s for a good cause—none better—and you will be helping to spread laughter and hope. Just write your ditties in the ‘comments’ sections below, and I’ll see what I can do with them. Does that sound like a plan? Yeah?? All right!!

Now the questions is… do I have any friends who aren’t bawdy and lewd? Heh… Come on, folks. Dig deep!

And thanks, from the bottom of my heart.

Guidelines for Municipal Regulation of Wind Power

What follows is rather long, but it provides an excellent guide for municipalities who are facing potential wind turbine developments.

Municipal Regulation of Wind Power
(from Maine Townsman, March 2010)
by James N. Katsiaficas, Esq., Perkins Thompson

The combination of volatile oil prices and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is leading consumers, business and government to seek alternatives to fossil fuels to generate electricity. One resource Maine has as an alternative to fossil fuels to generate electricity is wind. The Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power issued a report in 2008 identifying the significant land and offshore wind resources in the state. This report notes that wind power will be an important contributor to the state’s energy mix, and establishes wind-energy generation goals of 2,000 megawatts of installed capacity by 2015 and 3,000 megawatts of installed capacity by 2020, with approximately 300 megawatts from offshore wind and coastal waters. (By comparison, an average nuclear power plant generates about 1,000 megawatts.)
While the greater use of wind power to generate electricity may seem a viable alternative to fossil fuel electrical generation in Maine, as with any use, commercial wind power energy presents issues for Maine municipalities to address. The term “commercial wind power project” as used in this article means what the Governor’s Task Force Report refers to as “grid-scale” wind power development -- development that is large enough to trigger review under Maine’s Site Location of Development Act (“Site Law”), because it is a development that occupies 20 or more acres or has disturbed area, including structures, of three acres or more. Another definition of “commercial wind power project” would be a project that generates 100 kilowatts or more of electricity for sale or use by another party.

Some issues, such as whether commercial wind power is a desirable use at all, whether it is a cost-effective alternative to oil and to other alternative energy sources (such as hydropower) and whether the location of wind power projects near scenic vistas in western and eastern Maine is consistent with the preservation of Maine’s natural environment and surroundings and with the branding of Maine’s “sense of place,” are more global policy issues that are better addressed at the state and federal government levels.

Other, more site-specific issues are appropriately addressed at the municipal level. Assuming that wind power is a lawful use that has its place among the various land uses that might occur in Maine communities, this article focuses upon the more site-specific issues that are within the scope of municipal land-use review. For example, the movement of the sun through rotating turbine blades as seen from a nearby dwelling or business can produce the effect of alternating sunlight and darkness -- the phenomenon called “shadow flicker” -- for a period of time each day. Rotating turbine blades and the turbines themselves generate noise, both audible and low frequency (which may be felt as vibration). Snow and ice can be thrown from rotating turbine blades. In the unlikely event that a tower would fall, the site would need to accommodate its length in order to avoid harm to adjoining users, structures and properties. Also, there are impacts on the environment, from the development of large land areas for commercial wind power systems and from the effects of turbine blades on birds and bats. In addition, there is the impact of commercial wind power development on adjoining scenic and recreational resources.

As with the potential adverse impacts of any use, these are not reasons to prohibit commercial wind power development entirely from a community, but instead are reasons to responsibly regulate this use to ensure that it is compatible with other land use activities and uses in the municipality. This article reviews current federal and state regulation of commercial wind power and, as to municipal regulation, outlines potential local concerns, municipal regulatory authority and the planning, zoning and land use tools that can be implemented by exercising that municipal regulatory authority.

Federal and state regulation

Before discussing the details of municipal regulation of commercial wind power, it may be helpful to review regulation at the federal and state level.

There are several ways in which a commercial wind power development might be subject to federal regulation. Wind power projects on federal lands (and perhaps offshore projects) may require U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Environmental Policy Act review, in the form of an environmental assessment or impact statement. Concerns about endangered species and migratory birds may require a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service review; this agency has issued interim guidelines to protect wildlife resources and to streamline permitting. The Federal Aviation Administration requires approval for structures greater than 200 feet in height above ground level in order to avoid or minimize obstruction to navigable air space; its regulations also require appropriate lighting. If fill or dredging is necessary as part of a project, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit may be required.

Please note that at present, nothing in federal law preempts or limits municipal regulation of wind power development. This is an important consideration. In many ways, the land use concerns regarding wind power are similar to those associated with cellular telephone towers but, while federal law bans municipal regulation of wireless facilities that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting wireless communications, there is no such federal prohibition or restriction on municipal regulation of wind power development.

On the state level, several statutes and regulations might come into play with regard to commercial wind power projects. The Site Law most likely would be triggered by such a project. This would require an applicant to comply with the Site Law and the corresponding Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rules, including Chapters 375(10) (“Control of Noise”), 375(14), (“No Unreasonable Impact on Scenic Character”) and 375(15) (“Protection of Wildlife and Fisheries”). The Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA) also can be triggered by development in fragile mountain areas, over or abutting stream crossings and abutting or near wetlands. In addition, if an area of an acre to more is disturbed by a project, a stormwater management permit may be necessary.

Also, Maine’s Legislature enacted a bill in 2008 implementing recommendations of the Governor’s Wind Power Task Force (P.L. 2007, c. 661) which streamlines review of wind power projects. In particular, it creates “expedited permit zones” which include virtually all of the organized areas of the State and that area of the unorganized and deorganized territories which LURC has zoned (approximately 1/4 to 1/3 of the townships in the unorganized and deorganized territories). Decisions by DEP and/or LURC generally are issued within 185 days of application (270 days if a public hearing is held). In these expedited permit zones, LURC and DEP review standards are amended, particularly with regard to protection of scenic resources and fitting harmoniously into the existing natural environment. This law explicitly provides that “This act is not intended to limit a municipality’s authority to regulate wind energy development.”

Municipal Regulation

What concerns does a commercial wind energy project raise that a municipality might want to regulate?

Many potential local concerns involve the location of commercial wind power projects. These include safety of uses and activities on the same and on adjacent property, fall-down zones, shadow flicker, wind access and conflicts between incompatible uses. Failure to appropriately site projects and to provide adequate setbacks from adjoining buildings and properties may result in adverse impacts on neighbors. Here are some of the local concerns that may arise:

Turbine blades can be up to 100 feet in length. Therefore, moving blades can throw ice great distances. Also, severe weather conditions may cause catastrophic turbine failure and in the event of turbine failure, blades may be thrown great distances. Therefore, turbines should be equipped with automatic and manual emergency shut-offs, grounded to avoid lightning damage. Turbines should have appropriate ground clearance and, because they may be attractive to would-be climbers, they should not be climbable. Turbine doors should be locked and fencing or other measures should be considered to limit access to the site. Certification of safety of structural, electrical and rotor components by a qualified engineer may be required before operations can commence.

A falling tower could cause damage to the same or adjoining property, thus requiring “fall down zones” equal to or greater than the combined length of tower and blades.

A municipality may require tower owners/operators to obtain and maintain general liability insurance.

Regulations may specify tower structure type, such as monopoles.

Shadow flicker can be disorienting to neighbors. DEP is working with a nationally recognized limit of no more 30 hours of shadow flicker per year (assuming the same period of sunlight and shadow flicker occurs each day). Shadow flicker also may be minimized by specifying minimum distances between turbines and dwellings.

Wind access is necessary to the proper operation of a wind tower and turbine, but may be impaired by buildings and structures constructed by adjacent landowners.

There also are concerns about the aesthetics of towers, turbines and blades. Turbines may impair scenic views if improperly located.

Regulations may require towers, turbines and turbine blades to be painted a non-obtrusive, non-reflective color such as white or gray to avoid or mitigate negative visual impacts.

Wind tower projects can generate noise as well as power. Some of this is audible noise, and some is low-frequency noise that is felt as vibrations. Many variables can affect noise impacts on nearby residents; impacts may affect areas for several thousand feet or even several miles.

Regulatory limits might address general audible noise as well as “low frequency” or “infrasound” noise and might set noise limits at the boundary of adjoining properties. Turbine noise may be minimized by specifying minimum distances between turbines and dwellings

Possible solutions include: noise modeling in advance and/or post-construction impact studies; establishing a noise complaint-resolution program; shutdown of turbines or restrictions on maximum turbine speeds during certain times; or, other mitigating measures, if post-construction noise studies show unreasonable adverse impacts.

Municipalities might seek to avoid unreasonable adverse impact on wildlife.

To minimize bird collisions, projects may be sited to avoid nesting, feeding and roosting areas and located away from migratory bat and bird habitat.

Applicants may agree to post-construction impact studies to monitor any negative impacts on wildlife and follow up actions, such as operational changes, to address these negative impacts.

Towers may be abandoned at some time in the future. Municipalities may wish to require turbine removal and site restoration upon facility abandonment, and may require a tower owner/operator to post a performance guaranty (bond, cash escrow or irrevocable letter of credit) to ensure funds for the same.

Local regulation could prohibit the location of signs and lights on towers (except as required by the FAA).

The cost of municipal project review of these projects may be substantial. Therefore, any municipal regulations should include appropriate application fees, as well as the standard engineering/consulting/legal peer review escrows to ensure sufficient funding for adequate expert review of applications.

Finally, a proposed commercial wind power project may raise the same land use issues and concerns as any other commercial or industrial land use, including: vehicular access; buildings and accessory structures; stormwater; solid waste; septic; and, general compliance with municipal zoning and shoreland zoning ordinances.

What regulatory authority does a city or town have to address these commercial wind power project concerns?

Three basic sources of municipal authority in Maine permit local regulation of commercial wind power development: zoning ordinance authority, police power authority and home rule ordinance authority. State law specifically authorizes a municipality to enact zoning ordinances, which allow it to divide the municipality into districts and to prescribe and apply different regulations in each district. Such ordinances must be consistent with the comprehensive plan. In addition, municipalities have the inherent police power authority to regulate activities to protect the public health, safety and welfare. Finally, Maine municipalities enjoy statutory home rule authority to enact ordinances to “exercise any power or function which the Legislature has power to confer upon it, which is not denied either expressly or by clear implication, and exercise any power or function granted to the municipality by the Constitution of Maine, general law, or charter.” The typical municipal “Site Plan Review” ordinance is an example of a common home rule land use ordinance.

How can municipalities address their concerns?

Comprehensive Plan Zoning/Planning Ordinance Enactment or Amendment. A municipality can take the proactive step of locating appropriate areas where commercial wind power projects fit in the community by amending the comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance and zoning map accordingly. It then can enact reasonable regulations in the zoning ordinance to allow commercial wind power project review, either by performance standards to be applied in site plan review or by a separate wind power section. This is a complete approach that would give the municipality the greatest latitude in regulating the location of and standards for such development.

As part of this complete approach, a municipality could amend its comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance to provide for the use as: (1) a permitted use within specific zoning districts; (2) a conditional use or special exception use within certain zoning district(s); or (3) within overlay district(s), which would allow the municipality to designate places in municipality where development of wind projects is deemed appropriate, regardless of existing zoning district boundaries. Because existing zoning ordinance height limits may prohibit all wind power turbines within the municipality; ordinance height restrictions may need to be amended for wind projects.

In addition to addressing the location of wind power projects, a municipality also could amend its zoning ordinance to include performance standards for commercial wind power uses and facilities in order to address specific land use concerns. The ordinance might require these performance standards to be addressed through site-plan review or special exception/conditional use review, or might include these standards as part of a commercial wind power review section.

Also, whether the commercial wind power use is a permitted use, a special exception or conditional use or one allowed only in overlay districts, a municipality can amend its zoning ordinance to require site plan review for wind energy development, to address general development concerns that might apply to any development. These general concerns may be vehicular access, stormwater management, solid waste disposal, septic systems and compliance with general zoning dimensional standards.

Stand-Alone Site Plan Ordinance. Alternatively, a municipality simply can enact a stand-alone site plan ordinance or commercial wind power ordinance to regulate such projects without having to enact a comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance and zoning map. The Maine State Planning Office has prepared a Model Wind Energy Facility Ordinance (available online at that may be enacted on its own or may be integrated into an existing zoning ordinance. However, enactment of a stand-alone wind power ordinance without also enacting a comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance and zoning map means that a commercial wind power project could be located anywhere within the municipality, so long as it meets the standards in the wind power ordinance. Thus, this form of regulation may not provide the desired level of local control over the location of a wind power project.

Moratorium. Finally, in the absence of any land use ordinances to regulate a commercial wind power project, a municipality can enact a temporary moratorium ordinance if it finds that the municipality’s current ordinances are inadequate to protect the public from serious public harm from such development. However, this is only a temporary remedy that allows the municipality time to develop and enact the necessary ordinances, and a moratorium ordinance should not be used to prohibit or indefinitely delay a proposed commercial wind power project.

(This article is based on a presentation made by the author at Androscoggin Valley Council of Government’s Planning Day, Nov. 5, 2009.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

NIMBY--and Damned Proud of It!

When I decided to enter the campaign to save Maine’s ancient and iconic mountains from development, I had a huge dread. That dread was the fear of being seen as a ‘Nimby’ (Not in my backyard). I didn’t want to be perceived as someone who was not interested in current events unless they directly affected me. I saw the acronym ‘Nimby’ as a form of slur… and no one likes to be insulted.

Several months have passed since I entered the fray. My education has been equivalent to the school of hard knocks. Trial by wind, per se. I knew nothing about how to mount a battle to change the policy of a government and administration which I strongly disagreed with. I had no idea how to work to defeat a proposal designed by a wealthy industry and supported by people in positions of power. In fact, I’m still learning. Every single day I make a mistake. Most often, I learn from it, thankfully. But occasionally, I repeat it.

Occasionally, I repeat it.

As I researched the phenomenon of mountaintop industrial wind, I discovered many surprising facts. I began this process with an instinctual aversion to the plan to develop our wild peaks. My instincts rarely lead me astray, if ever. But I was lacking a lot of the details about the plan to place wind turbines along more than 300 miles of pristine summits. All I knew was that it couldn’t be a good thing; that the proposal that was being thrust upon us–one we were not consulted about and about which we have no control–did not seem to be a reasonable one. There were too many obvious ‘down’ sides.

By now, I’ve established what many of those negative impacts will be. I’ve also come to the conclusion that a Nimby is exactly what I want to be.

We human beings have a lot on our plates. We have families to raise, jobs to go to, homes to build and buy and improve and maintain. We have to pay for those homes, and those kids, and for the vehicles to get us to those jobs which pay those bills. We have parents and siblings and other relatives who need us. We have friends to lend a helping hand to. We have schools to support and a civic duty to our town. Life is busy and–more often than not–life is a struggle.

We simply cannot devote ourselves to every battle that needs fighting. We do not have the capacity to throw ourselves into the mix every time a task needs doing or a wrong needs righting. What we do, most often, is depend on others with the same values and common sense to take up their swords and defend their own territories, their own homes, their own families and ways of life. That’s what ‘home rule’ is. That’s one of the most fundamental precepts–not only of America as a country, but more elementally, it’s instinctual in almost all living creatures. We defend our turf, or die trying.

Whether human or wild, the animal kingdom is made up of communities. The primary and most significant of these is the family; parents and children first, and then it extends outward to grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. Next in importance is our neighborhood and then the larger village which these neighborhoods combine to create; those people upon whom we depend, but to a lesser degree than we rely on our kin. When this country was founded, America’s strength rested in the small communities scattered across this vast and wild land. Men who provided for and took care of their families were called to action to defend from home the larger community; the rest of these colonies which would later become the United States of America. Our Minutemen and militias defended their home turf successfully and defeated a larger, more organized and better funded campaign.

I think that is the heart of the matter. Yes, I care about what happens across the country and around the world. But I simply cannot make every battle a cause that I must wholeheartedly throw myself into. None of us would survive if we took on every single struggle that we believed in. Yes, we try to do our part to help when issues of importance are made known to us. But we have to keep something in reserve. We have to save ourselves for the conflicts that affect us directly, because we know that our distant neighbors will only be able to aid us on the periphery, just as we do when they need our support.

So, no. I no longer have an aversion to the title ‘Nimby’. Nimby is synonymous with home rule and home defense, and that is something in which to take the utmost pride. I am a Nimby, and damned proud of it! And if my family and my friends and my neighbors are successful in protecting our home front, then we will set the standard for other Nimbys… our fellow Americans who are doing the same. We will be helping other Americans who have the courage to stand up and say ‘Not in my backyard!’

Top photo from Peaked Hill, Lexington Township, Maine, copyright by John and Joan Hassam
Bottom photo taken from Bigelow Mountain by Franklin Sargent, Highland Plantation, Maine

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not Your Average GAG Posting

On Saturday, April 10th, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. a group of friends is putting on a benefit spaghetti supper at Carrabec High School in North Anson. Vicki Anderson of New Portland has Stage Four lung cancer, and the costs of traveling for treatment are burdensome. Please help support our neighbor by coming out and joining us at the school.

At 6:30, following the meal, I will be performing a bit of 'stand-up' comedy to entertain the crowd. That's my intention, anyway, and I'll give it my very best. Life seems cruel at times, but laughter is the best of tonics.

Please join us for a delicious meal, a few giggles, and some other fund-raising opportunities. Your participation will be greatly appreciated.

More details will follow as we get closer to the date. Thank you.

I mean it. Thank you.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sex Ed 101

I don’t normally write about intimacy between a man and a woman. It is, after all, a very personal topic. However…

There are some things I simply can’t ignore. My friend Linda emailed me a page from an actual sex education textbook written for British girls back in the 1960’s. Remember, I was ALIVE in the 1960’s!!! It wasn’t that long ago! (Really, it wasn’t!)

Even so, I couldn’t believe what I read…

The chapter starts out innocuously enough.

When retiring to the bedroom, prepare yourself for bed as promptly as possible.

Okay. That’s not very offensive, right? I mean, it conveys a sense of urgency, but if we’re honest, we’ll all admit to being there a time or two. Oh, but just wait!

Whilst feminine hygiene is of utmost importance, your tired husband does not want to queue for the bathroom, as he would have to do for his train.

Heavens, no. When a man’s gotta go, a man’s gotta go! A wife mustn’t make the poor dear wait.

But remember to look your best when going to bed. Try to achieve a look that is welcoming without being obvious.

Huh? Does that mean we should look sexy, but we shouldn’t appear as if we want to have sex? I’m confused. Or mad. Not sure which, just yet.

If you need to apply face cream or hair rollers, try to wait until he is asleep as this can be shocking to a man last thing at night.

Oh, brother. I never realized how fragile our men were. That they could be shocked by something so ordinary as face cream and hair rollers…. WAIT! Face cream and hair rollers? Is it possible to sleep in face cream and hair rollers? You can’t sleep on your belly or your side, else you’ll rub the cream off onto your pillow. You can’t lie on your back because your head is covered in HAIR ROLLERS… Hmmm. Even though I really WAS alive during the 1960’s, I think the Bessey women neglected to participate in this particular trend.

But wait. Wait a minute. What’s this?

When it comes to the possibility (the possibility?) of intimate relations with your husband, it is important to remember your marriage vows, and in particular, your commitment to obey (obey?) him. If he feels the need to sleep immediately, then so be it. Do not pressure him in any way (not ever??? Really??) to stimulate interest.

Aw… you know what? I can’t do this story justice. I feel the makings of a good old-fashioned hissy fit coming on… but really, what good would it do me? Mr. Grumbles isn’t awake to take the brunt of it, and so… what’s the point? He is, after all, the proxy for his whole gender. There’s no satisfaction to be found by ranting at an empty, man-free room.

Since I can’t give my honest, heart-felt opinion on this instruction manual (for I’ve a strict policy against potty mouth, here…), I think I’ll let the article speak for itself. What follows is the remainder of the page.

Should your husband suggest congress (I’d stay away from those slippery buggers, whether he suggested them, or not!) then agree humbly, all the while being mindful that a man’s satisfaction is more important than a woman’s. (Gah! Strangling, here!) When he reaches his moment of fulfillment a small moan from yourself is encouraging to him (of course it is! Of COURSE! Like he NEEDS encouragement!) and quite sufficient to indicate any enjoyment that you may have had. (May have had? Holy Mother of Moaners, this just gets better and better!)

Should your husband suggest any of the more unusual practices (like BIG moans, or congress in curlers [I’d still stay away from those slippery buggers]) be obedient and uncomplaining but register any reluctance by remaining silent. (Okay. Let me get this straight. Small moans encourage him and indicate ‘any’ enjoyment. Silence registers a reluctance to be kinky. Uh huh… that’s my normal tack. That and a well-placed knee.)

It is likely that your husband will then fall promptly asleep (because it’s so SILENT in there, you see) so adjust your clothing (Good Lord! Fully dressed during ‘unusual practices’…I suppose it was a French maid’s uniform?) freshen up and apply your night-time face and hair care products (this had to have been written by L’Oreal, or Avon, or some company like that… get over the ‘product’ application, already!)

You may then set the alarm so that you can arise shortly before him in the morning (gotta use the bathroom first, after all. Remove all that face cream and those curlers so you aren’t shocking to him first thing in the morning. Plus, of course, you wouldn’t want him to have to queue like he does for a train!) This will enable you to have his morning cup of tea ready when he awakes. (Bull shit.)

Well, I almost made it all the way through without any potty mouth. Almost.