Editor’s Letter

     Dear Folks,

     The snow has started falling and I am happy to announce that the Birkenstocks have been put away for the season. Happy holidays! As I have gotten older, my appreciation for the holiday season has shifted. For the last four years, the holiday season meant a break between semesters. Now as I enjoy my last holiday break from college, I am grateful for the time with family and friends. 

     Regardless of your traditions, I hope you all have a safe and happy break. I look forward to writing to you all again next semester.

Abi Davis, editor.

     Until next semester,

     Abi 

Dangers of Winter

     The winter season is very beautiful. But the dangers that come with it are very real. People die every winter from car accidents due to black ice and hypothermia, among other reasons. Nadezhda and Pavel Ivanik remember their first Maine winter after immigrating from Kazakhstan. They learned that American winters are different from Kazakhstan winters.

Photo from the Maine ice storm.

     In January 1999, there was a slight snowfall that turned into freezing rain during the night. By morning, the entire town of Portland was covered in solid ice. Nadezhda and her husband had recently immigrated to America in the summer of ‘98 and were adjusting to life in Maine. They did not have a car because Pavel did not have a license. So they had to walk 30 minutes to their job. “I had to be at work by 7:20 a.m. So my husband and I were always up by 6 a.m. because of the walk. I did not even look out the window. So when I went outside, I saw large icicles and how everything was covered. At first I was stunned by the beauty. But when I started walking, the awe turned into fear.” The streets had been covered in black ice.

    Nadezhda was five months pregnant at the time and she was concerned she would fall and hurt the baby. Her husband had to hold her the entire journey to work. “I was basically gliding. I was not taking my feet off the ground. My husband was pulling me.” Pavel said that they were too poor to afford new shoes, including boots. So he was wearing sneakers. “Thankfully my shoes had a good grip, so I was not sliding as much. To be honest, I did not have as much fear as my wife did.” Pavel felt steady and secure in his shoes. “We were young at the time. If I fell, I would not get as hurt as I would now, at my age. I felt most concerned for my wife.” 

High School Basketball Official Shortages a Real Problem

There are many reasons, but the biggest of which

nobody wants to talk about…

     In Aroostook County, high school basketball is a rich tradition. With the exception of last year’s COVID season, people pack our tiny gyms to support the student athletes’ passion for the game. The one primary element that allows the games to go on are the unsung “third team” that everyone loves to hate: the referees. They are the law, the over-bearing authority, but their job is to remain invisible. One major problem facing the future of high school basketball here in the county is the shortage of officials. 

     Julie Goupille began officiating in 1997. When she began, there were 75 active officials on Aroostook County’s Board 150. Now there are 28. “One reason I think is it is a time commitment. People have to give up their evenings. And there is a lot of travel involved,” Goupille said. “When I first started, you never worked multiple games in a day. But because of dwindling numbers, it will happen every weekend this season.” This further explains the challenges that assignors run into.

Julie Goupille at a 2019 Class D Girls Regional Final. (Photo By Tim Goupille).

     Like anything else, there isn’t just one reason. But there is one that just about every official can attest to. “In my opinion, the primary reason is the abuse that officials take,” Goupille said. Everyone is guilty about complaining about calls or blaming the refs for why their team has a lost a game. After all, they are the easy targets. You don’t have to take any responsibility when laying the blame at the door of the officials. If your team lost by one point, it wasn’t the five layups they missed or the 10 free throws that didn’t fall. It was the player-control call with five seconds left in the fourth quarter. “You are fair game when you’re out on the floor,” Goupille said.

     Young Board 150 official Will Bridges started officiating just one year removed from high school. “I wanted to stay in the world of sports when I was going into college and also stay with basketball throughout my life,” Bridges said. But he really started because of the need for people willing to step up. “I knew Maine, but specifically Aroostook County, needed officials to help with games around the county.” With just two years of experience, Will has put up with more than his fair share of grief when out on the floor. “I have received more abuse than what I thought I was going to get when I first started. I received it from mostly coaches and fans.” 

Just Your Cup of Tea

Do you have any tea drinkers in your life this holiday season? If you do, this DIY gift is just for you. Tea Trees, also called Christmas Tea Trees, are topiary pieces with arrangements of tea bags in place of tree limbs.

Step 4, Voila!

What You’ll Need:

  • Styrofoam cones (6-inch cones work best, but any size will do)
  • Your choice of individually wrapped tea bags (Remember: the bigger the cone, the more tea bags you’ll need to cover it!)
  • Hot glue gun, with glue sticks
  • Small, round cylinder boxes to use as the “stump”– you can also use a toilet paper roll for this part too, but be sure to use thicker cardboard to create a base to glue to the bottom of it.
  • Wooden stars or other tree top trinkets for embellishment
  • Rocks or rice to put in the “stump” to weigh down the tree

Step-By-Step:

    1. Glue the tea bags, starting at the base of the cone. Place a very fine line of hot glue along the upper edge on the backside of a tea bag. Attach to the cone, holding the tea bag in place until the glue sets.

      The layering in Step 2 should look something like this.
    2. Placing the next tea bag, slightly overlap it over the one that was just glued, covering the Styrofoam cone underneath. How much you overlap will depend on the size of the tree. The goal is to just cover the Styrofoam, so it does not show through. Finish the entire base section before moving up the tree. Repeat the gluing process until you reach the top.

Lights Up on The Armory’s Stage After a Year Online

     Early July, the lights turned on in a small black-box theater in Manhattan. The Armory finally returned to the stage after a year of virtual comedy performances. The audience was small, all masked, but excited. As the COVID-19 vaccines roll out and become more accessible, small venues such as this are returning to in-person shows. Returning is strange, but the performers are happy to be back.

     Melissa Canon Parker is a longtime member of The Armory who has performed on their improv comedy house teams and other resident shows. These include the fan favorite Shot4Shot, a drinking game set to a real movie that comedians–regardless of age, gender, race or size–act out. She felt awkward and uncomfortable returning to the stage, but said, “I’m not even sure where I’m going. But man oh man, is it so much fun!”

Melissa Caron Parker (far right) and teammates returned to The Armory stage, July 6, 2021. (Photo: The Armory Comedy)

     Performing improv on Zoom wasn’t easy, even for expert artists. Technical difficulties happen, sometimes making things awkward or slow. Everything has its perks, though. “There was definitely a learning curve in patience, taking turns to speak, challenges in the reliability of internet speed or technological capabilities for teammates. As a full-time mom, it was instantly easier for me to participate and attend shows,” Parker said.

     Some took every chance to perform online and others worked behind the scenes. Armory member Michelle Drozdick returned to her passion for writing. “The circumstances of the past year allowed me to write much more than I ever have before. I have a few screenplays and pilots now, along with short stories and poetry that have actually been published in small outlets that I’m really proud of.”

Do You Need Something to Do Over Break?

     All right students! Who’s ready for winter break? Who doesn’t want to be cozying up to the fire and singing Christmas songs? Well, during your time away from UMPI, there are a lot of sports movies that are must see and in this story the author will break down some movies that are on his list for the break.

At the top of that list is “Moneyball.” Moneyball came out in 2011. It stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the Oakland Athletics general manager, and Jonah Hill as his co-star. This movie is about Billy Beane and his ability to put together a competitive team: a team that competes for the playoffs with a bunch of essentially nobodies. This movie focuses on the Oakland A’s 2001 season where they won 20 games in a row. If you have an interest in working in a sports office with a team one day, this movie does a great job of taking you inside the office. It really shows you the business side of things rather than the playing side, which we know all about as sports fans.

The next movie on the list is “Field of Dreams.” This movie stars Kevin Costner and it came out in 1989.  He lives in a place with a corn field. He keeps hearing a voice in his head tell him if he builds it, they will come. The voice is referring to his making a baseball field in his corn field. He ended up building the field and Kevin had some pretty historic visitors!

Next on the list is the “Blind Side.” This movie stars Quinton Aaron. His co-star is Sandra Bullock. Quinton Aaron plays the part of Michael Oher, who lives with a single mom in a bad neighborhood. One day his future adoptive mother, Sandra Bullock, drives by Michael coming home from a basketball game. She saw him walking and gave him a ride home, which was a bad place. She ended up adopting him. Michael wanted to protect his family and he did that through football. Then he went to Ole Miss for college and ended up getting drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.

All in all, there are a ton more movies that the author has left out that are worth watching. Just look up the top 50 sports movies of all time and some links should pop up with some killer films on it.

Boho Garland Inspo

The 1960s brought forward a plethora of neat concepts: color television, 9-1-1 services and even Sharpie markers. In addition to these life-changing inventions are the conventional yet free concepts of Bohemian culture. The word “Bohemian” derives from a region in the Czech Republic named “Bohemia.” The French dubbed the nomadic Gypsies and Romany people “Bohemians.”

Notice the example bead pattern and how the beads sizes compare throughout the pattern.
Here is the end of the example strand– you can see the line is threaded through twice and tied in a knot.

Today, boho aesthetic is inspired by creativity and tradition. The core of boho aesthetic is that it is true to who you are and relaxed. What better way to show your personal style than to make a boho inspired Christmas garland? This style is all the rage right now, as most big-name stores are selling similar garlands for upwards to $15 for a 6-foot strand of beaded garland. At that rate, a person will need at least two. But for a fraction of that price, this kit will make you something better.

What you need:

What to do:

  1. Start by picking a pattern for your beads. Example pattern: 60 (6mm and 8mm), 12mm, 16mm, 12 mm.
  2. For your first bead, consider using a slightly bigger bead. For this first bead, thread the bead and string it to the end of the crystal wire making sure to leave 2.5-3 in. of wire.
  3. Take the extra wire and thread it back through the hole of the bead.
  4. Secure the wire with a knot.
  5. String your bead pattern, making sure to keep pushing the beads to the end of the wire strand.
  6. When you get to the end of the strand, repeat steps 2-4.
  7. Take a minute to admire your work!
  8. Hang on wall, staircase banister or Christmas tree.

To Buy or Not to Buy

     It is no secret that the housing market has seen a boom the last two years. Lori Miles, a secondary hedge trading associate at Bangor Savings Bank, has seen a large increase in business. “Last year was a record setting year. We were very busy.” Housing prices in Maine have steadily increased through 2021. It has left many wondering if now is a good time to buy.      

     According to the Maine Real Estate Information Systems (MREIS), the median sale price for a home is up 14.2 percent from 2020. The primary factors for this increase in price are low inventory and high demand. New listings for the state are down 25.7 percent. With not many options, buyers are willing to spend more to purchase a home now. The median amount of time a listing is on the market is a mere 12 days.

     This year has also seen an influx of out-of-state buyers keeping housing prices high. Many have abandoned the city to find refuge somewhere rural due to Maine’s quiet nature and low crime rates, combined with COVID fears. Real estate agent for Next Home Experience, Jacob Kipping, said that his clients from Florida to Colorado have been, “Running away to Maine looking for peace and quiet.” Now that people have more options to work from home, it gives them the chance to move where they want. 

     Low inventory for homes will likely continue as winter approaches. People tend to hold off listing their houses in the colder months. While it is a great time to sell, lack of options and high housing costs have kept people from putting their homes on the market. Even if sellers get more than their asking price, they may end up spending more to purchase another home. Housing prices may go down slightly, but probably not significantly.

Raising an Emotionally Sane Child in a World Full of Pain

     “I got spanked my whole life and turned out fine.” How many times have you heard (or maybe said) that? It seems like an easy solution–children misbehave, good parents smack their bottoms, they stop. They learn they shouldn’t do that. Simple, right? 

     Not exactly. It seems more and more parents are refusing to correct their children, and that can be hard to watch. But are they wrong? Why does seeing a child cry or scream upset people so much?

Little girl holding little heart in her hands offering,sharing it with her friend.

     “People whose parents used to hit them can feel distressed in that situation. It is hard for them to see a child throwing a tantrum,” child psychologist Anneliese Wildermann said. “They feel a strong impulse to yell or hit the child. They don’t understand that’s a normal part of a child’s development and find it unbearable to see someone cry or scream. If the parent doesn’t punish the child in public, they can feel resentful,” she said. Unfortunately, this kind of reaction is a typical sign of trauma. “They need to convince themselves that the treatment they received as children was good for them. Otherwise, that would mean their parents hurt them for nothing,” Wildermann said.

     While plenty of people say they “turned out fine,” many struggle with issues such as depression, sleep disorders and alcohol or drug abuse. It is not uncommon for childhood trauma to also cause trust issues, panic attacks, social anxiety or other underlying conditions.

     Of course, parents from older generations had less access to quality information. Most didn’t know the first thing about psychology or child development. Studies in the area were not as accessible as today, but there are adults who will still choose to close their eyes to the evidence around them. They feel safer repeating the mistakes of past generations.

     Just like hitting a computer won’t get it to work faster, it is important to understand how a child works. As it turns out, many of the “bad” behaviors of a child are a positive sign. They show that their brain is developing properly. 

     “When children are 2 or 3 years old, they may start defying their parents and refusing to do simple things. This happens because they realize that they are individuals that can make choices,” pediatrician Thelma de Oliveira said. “A well-informed parent can encourage the child to make small choices throughout the day.  Insisting on showing the kid who is boss will only damage the child’s self-esteem and their bond with that parent,” Oliveira said.

Record Year for Diversity in Emmy Nominees

     This year’s Emmy Award nominations are the most diverse ever. Half of the lead drama actor nominees are people of color. And 44 percent of all acting nominees are non-white. 

     The first transgender woman, M.J. Rodriguez, was nominated for lead actress.  If she wins, she would be the first transgender person to ever win an Emmy. This was unheard of even three years ago. A transgender woman leading a mostly transgender cast on an Emmy nominated TV show, “Pose,” was equally unheard of.

The Emmy Statue.

     Of her nomination, Rodriguez said, “I do believe this is a pivotal moment. There’s never been a trans woman who has been nominated as a leading outstanding actress and I feel like that pushes the needle forward so much for the door to be knocked down for so many people.”

     LaTasha Bishop couldn’t agree more. She’s also a transgender woman. She never thought we’d be at this point. For her, it’s more than just representation. “It’s about being humanized. It’s survival. The world doesn’t fully accept trans women. Especially black trans women. But it’s definitely getting better. This show has opened some eyes.”

     So, the television landscape is changing. More women and people of color than ever are leading TV shows. This means that more diverse actors are being hired. Nielsen’s report “Being Seen on Screen: Diverse Representation and Inclusion on TV,” tracks this data. And according to them, diversity on screen has increased every year.

     What this also means is that more people get to see themselves represented on TV. That fully  matters to Marla Abbas. She’s a client services representative. She and her daughter Bailey love to watch awards shows. “I love that she gets to see more possibilities of what she can be. I didn’t see that growing up. I don’t remember many black people winning TV awards when I was young.”