Our local newspaper in Stonington is the Island Ad-Vantages, covering all of Deer Isle and Little Deer Idle. It is printed once a week and provides all the news you need to know — and some conversation fodder, besides.
We all try to follow national and international news — to the extent our blood pressure can stand it, at least — but the news we really care about is local. Up here, that means reporting on tourism, the lobster and fishing business, development activities, and coming events. I want to know whether the local businesses and restaurants did a good trade and will be here next summer, and I’m glad to read that they did. I’m happy to learn that a food truck stationed in Deer Isle will be back, but that local labor shortage is a concern. Hey, if you are looking for a job, come to Stonington next spring! Every business is looking for help.
What’s playing at the Opera House over the next few days? Are there any good yard sales this weekend? And the local police blotter and short reports on local closed court cases are always a fruitful source of discussion topics. The latest edition of IA-V reports, for example, that one man from the area was fined $150 for “molesting silver herring gear.” What do you suppose he was doing?
A really good local newspaper, like Island Ad-Vantages, tells you a lot about your community.
Our anonymous Third Street Bridge sign artist has struck again. When I walked by yesterday morning, I saw that the latest hand-lettered sign channels an inner Stuart Smalley, the fictional character played by Al Franken on Saturday Night Live years ago. You may recall that the mild-mannered, sweater-wearing Stuart gave a Daily Affirmation with a positive message that always concluded: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”
I’d say that “You are worthy” falls squarely into the Stuart Smalley mindset. (Those of us who don’t share Stuart Smalley’s hopeful and constructive world view might ask, in response, “Worthy of what?” But never mind that.)
It’s nice to know that some unknown person cares enough about the well-being of their fellow Columbusites to create inspirational messages to help us feel good about ourselves and spur us forward on our days. I’m looking forward to the next sign that helps to put a spring in my step on the way to work.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an early riser. When I was a kid, I was the first member of the family who was up in the morning. In college, I was never able to sleep in like my friends could. And once I started working, I established the “early to bed, early to rise” regimen that would have made Poor Richard proud.
But here’s the thing: as time passed, I found myself waking up, and going to bed, earlier and earlier. When it got to the point this summer where I was opening my eyes at 4:30 a.m., with no hope of going back to sleep, I knew I needed to do something. Those hours might be ideal for a farmer, but they seemed a bit out of whack for me.
So lately I’ve been trying to change from an early bird to more of a night owl. It isn’t easy. Working to modify ingrained daily habits that have prevailed for decades is a challenge. The effort for now focuses on the back end of the day, where I’ve been striving to stay up later than usual. This means no night-time reading, which will always cause me to doze off, and trying to find some really riveting TV shows — like Peaky Blinders, which Kish and I have just started watching. Through concentrated effort, I’ve actually been up past 10 p.m. every day this week. This may not seem like anything to those people who regularly catch the late show on TV, but it’s a significant step for me.
And this morning, I slept in until 5:30. 5:30! I feel like a slugabed, but progress is being made.
Kish received Orange Man as a gift from her long-time pal the Beagle Lover. Orange Man is a plump figure about the size of a large Idaho potato made of light, durable, ever-squishable foam. With his fierce expression, open mouth, orange skin, and shock of carefully coiffed blond hair, Orange Man is a pretty unflattering caricature of the current occupant of the Oval Office.
The Beagle Lover explained that Orange Man is intended to be a kind of stress-relief device. If you’re upset with the day’s news or an ill-advised tweet, you can squeeze, punch, or hurl Orange Man to work out the anger and frustration without causing any real damage, and Orange Man will always be ready for more. In that sense, Orange Man is designed to be a kind of “rage room” in miniature.
During my lifetime we’ve had some pretty unpopular Presidents, among certain segments of the population at least, but I don’t remember the creation and sale of mocking Nixon figures or Carter figures that were made to be thrown around. President Trump has to win the prize for generating the most tangible ways of expressing opposition — from bumper stickers to internet memes to figures like Orange Man. In fact, I wonder: how much of the current strength of the economy is attributable to the production of Orange Man and other anti-Trump items?
Just last year, it bore the straightforward but dismissively insulting name “Dump Road.” But the same impulses that caused someone to come up with “pre-owned vehicles” rather than “used cars” and to rebrand the Patagonian Toothfish into Chilean Sea Bass were brought to bear, and “Dump Road” became the considerably more upscale and environmentally friendly “Transfer Station Road.” There’s still a town dump on the road, of course, but that’s beside the point. Dump Road deserved a better name.
What Deer Isle road is next up for a new moniker? Weedfield Road, perhaps? Let’s see . . . how about Wilderness Trace? Or maybe Natural Lane?
In the new product development department, the other day I ran across a news story on the “wearable chair.” It’s a contraption of bands and extendable aluminum legs; you strap it to your keister and it allows you to sit wherever and whenever you want to do so.
It’s an ungainly looking device, to be sure, and it gives the people sitting on it a distinctly bionic, quasi-insectoid appearance. It seems like a pretty clumsy thing to wear around, and if you’re in a crowd it looks like it would take up space that might not be appreciated by the other people on, say, the subway train. Presumably there are rigorous weight limits for the wearable chair, too. It’s supposed to help with your posture, though — which doesn’t surprise me, because the photos of the product make it look like you need to sit in a particular, erect way or weight distribution issues would otherwise cause you to go tumbling to the ground. No slouching when you are strapped into the wearable chair!
I guess we’ll find out whether there’s a market for the wearable chair. It seems hard to believe that there are enough people who become so fatigued at the spur of the moment that they can’t find a chair or bench — or even spot on the grass — where they can sit, and would rather extend limbs from an exoskeleton on their butt and draw curious attention to themselves. Maybe modern people have become so lazy and in need of instant comfort that the wearable chair will be a big success. In a world struggling with obesity, however, it seems like we’d all be better off if people had to actually stand while waiting for a bus or train rather than plopping down wherever they wanted.
How long do you suppose it will be before somebody decides to combine a wearable chair with a standing desk?
I thought it was a sign of the apocalypse when McDonald’s started serving breakfast sandwiches between two griddle cakes several years ago — but in our modern culture, the envelope is always being pushed farther and farther.
KFC has explained that it is conducting the test to determine whether customers are craving chicken and donuts on a national scale. I don’t think any kind of test of that sort truly is needed. When you combine the statistics on the growing American obesity epidemic (no pun intended) with the known fact that most people are powerless to resist donuts that are made available to them, it seems very likely that the KFC chicken-and-donut sandwich will be a smashing, calorie- and carbohydrate-laden success. Fortunately, I’m not going to be going near Pittsburgh or Virginia in the near future, so I won’t be tempted to give the sandwiches a try.
If the sandwiches are adopted on a national scale — and I have no doubt they will be — KFC or a competitor will have to figure out a way to push the culinary/calorie/carb envelope still farther. I’m guessing we’ll see bacon, cheese, and honey drizzle added to the combination next.