Save A Warrior: 75 Hours

The rising rate of veteran suicide is a topic that creates a lot of buzz in the news. The Office of Veterans Affairs (VA) has numerous programs to combat the issue. The problem is that its programs don’t work for many veterans. Save A Warrior (SAW), based out of Ohio, is dedicated to changing this narrative. The SAW program, founded in 2012, is at the front of the fight against suicide. To date, over 1400 men and women have gone through the program.

SAW provides a 75-hour program. From start to finish, it is designed to turn the perspective of trauma upside down. It is different. What does that mean? It means that for 75 continuous hours participants are immersed in the program. They give control of their lives to someone else. All applicants walk in voluntarily, looking for a new way to deal with their trauma (demons). If they stay, and if they allow themselves to begin to heal, they walk out with a chance.

Recently, SAW received a grant from Disabled American

Save A Warrior. (July 2021) [Picture of Cohort 0142 on Day Three, Completion photo, it shows the transformation 75 hours can make when dedicated men and women come together to make a difference in their lives.
Veterans (DAV). It is building a National Center of Excellence for PTS(d) in Ohio. The new facility is slated to open in 2022. It will be the site of all future cohorts in Ohio, as well as host meetings and classes for staff and board members.

Aroostook County’s Artisans

Maine is known for many things: sweet lobster, great fishing and hunting, beautiful landscapes, majestic moose and Stephen King. It’s no wonder that such a beautiful state draws a high number of craftspeople and artisans. It seems that Aroostook County has more talented artisans hiding away than anyone would expect. You can find them at local fairs and farmers’ markets, their goods finer than any found at the fancy stores in big cities. Most of them seem to have the same attitude: they don’t create to make a living. They create because they must. Having people love their work is just a bonus.

When you dig deeper into the roots of Maine history, you find a can-do attitude. It has a rich history of inhabitants who made their living by making the best out of any situation. Mainers have lived through incredibly tough times and just kept going. Their willpower is practically a trademark. And yet, the more you hear about them, the more there is to admire.

There are many residents in northern Maine who still live just like their grandparents, in dirt floor cabins without electricity. Of course, some have embraced modern technology, but not all. And in the midst of such seeming unwillingness to change, one wonders how art and beauty could be born. And yet…those who create always find a way. Things that are useful can be beautiful, too.

Sensei McGibbon

Often growing up, people are faced with challenges that are unbeatable, bullies who are unfightable or obstacles that are impassable. Failure is unavoidable and from an early age, children can feel a wave of their confidence slipping. “Somebody’s always told you growing up that you’re stupid, lazy, ugly, and if you hear it enough, you’ll start to believe that crap,” Rick McGibbon said. Rick is a man who has gained confidence through his time in the karate training halls, which are also known as dojos. He has trained as a teacher of martial arts, properly known as a sensei, for much of his life. It was through this training that Rick learned to instill confidence.

The name of the organization Rick continues to train at is Shotokan Karate International Federation (SKIF) of Maine. “When I first started training, it was Taekwondo, a type of Karate originating from Korea, and my main style, which is Shotokan,” Rick said. His stance changed in his seat, his shoulders held high.

Sensei Rick McGibbon wearing the Black Belt.

Shotokan is a Hard-Style, originating from Japan. “Hard-Style means movements, strikes, blocks, kicks. It’s pretty linear and straight rather than Kungfu, which is circular,” Rick said. “Our organization has dojos in 108 countries around the world, including one in Antarctica,” Rick said. “I would say there are roughly around a million and a half students as of today.” He has been at it for 41 years, training in these types of martial arts defense forms. He has gained much from it.

What Happens to the Food You Don’t Buy?

You know when you go to the store and notice that a fruit’s price has gone up? Maybe you think, “Well, I need this for a pie, so I’m buying it anyway.” Some other people might have to give up and buy something else–or go home empty-handed. Not being able to afford food is a sad reality for many people.

Now, imagine that you are doing your shopping at a big retailer in Australia. After you buy what you need, you go around the parking lot and find a big dumpster behind the store. You open it. You cannot believe your eyes.

It’s full to the brim with fresh veggies and fruit that are not even ripe yet. You walk a couple more yards and find another bin. It is locked, but you can open it just enough to see what’s inside: fancy cheese, bottles of wine, artisan bread, candy bars….

The security guard comes along and tells you to leave. They say you can’t have that food because “they don’t want you to get sick.” All that food, enough to feed at least five families for weeks, is waiting for collection. It will all rot in a landfill.

“Unfortunately, if you go back on the following week, you will realize that the dumpsters are full again. We like to think that supermarkets would only throw food away if it is contaminated, expired or bad. That is not what happens,” Alberto Peixoto, a member of the dumpster diving community, said. He checks the bins from his local grocery store every week and uses the food he finds to feed his family. He also shares the excess with friends.

Affordable DIY Solar Power

Solar power has become the wave of the future. Across the country, the energy-conscious are putting in solar panels and disconnecting from the power grid. The issue is that going green usually comes with a fairly hefty price tag. Now, there are a fair amount of federal rebates and tax refunds available to ease the hit. But for some who are a bit more tech savvy, there is another option. Do it yourself. With a little bit of time, a lot of research and some smart shopping, homeowners can put together a solar power kit to fit any of their power needs at a fraction of the cost.

Larry Turner, a lifetime Maine resident, has been living on solar power full time for the past five years. He put his kit together entirely by himself, out of pieced together parts bought mostly online and shipped in. Larry said, “I haven’t used my generator since I turned my solar panels on. Don’t need it anymore. I’ve got all the power I need and I never run out.”

Solar array in the sun. August 22, 2021.

You might be asking if it isn’t just easier to buy it already put together. It might be easier. But it definitely isn’t cheaper. And this is about inexpensive DIY solar. The internet has it all. There are articles, videos and websites for every level of DIY-er. For those who don’t care to use the internet, the local library is another great resource. Solar power is not a new resource. The technology has been around for quite some time. Books are available that detail, step by step, every single item necessary for a functional solar set-up. In addition, there are brick and mortar stores that sell everything from solar panels to wire.

How a Newspaper Nearly Brought Down the Roman Catholic Church

     “Spotlight” tells the true story of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigative reporting team members. The film focuses on their year-long investigation into the Roman Catholic Church. They uncovered a blockbuster story involving a decades-long cover-up of thousands of cases of child sex abuse at the hands of priests.

The Globe published a story alleging that a priest, John J. Geoghan, molested 80 children in six different parishes. An attorney for the victims alleged that Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, knew and did nothing about it. The Spotlight team members–Sacha Pfeiffer, Robby Robinson, Mike Rezendes and Matt Carroll–had published a few articles on the case over the years. But new Globe editor, Marty Baron, suggests there’s a bigger story and asks that they investigate further.

A scene from Spotlight.

As the team members begin to investigate, they realize that this is about more than one or two errant priests. There were dozens of abusive priests in Boston alone. Baron suggests that the focus should shift from an investigation of the priests to an investigation of the church itself. They should examine the church’s policies that allowed it to manipulate the system. The church shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish where they could continue abusing.

Some viewers may not have realized how widespread this issue was and how far the cover-up went until they saw the film. Yes, there had been many articles and news stories about the scandal. Yet, as a global issue, the scope of abuse was difficult to grasp.

The Sims 4 Brings the Joys of Summer Inside

Summer 2020 is one that most want to forget. People had to cancel vacations. They celebrated holidays and birthdays inside. But Corona gave fans of the Sims games more excuses to play their favorite game. This year, EA Games gave Simmers even more reasons to stay indoors with their Summer of Sims. With Summer of Sims, players gained three new packs full of additional content, along with three virtual events to attend from the safety and comfort of home.

Family gameplay comes to the forefront in The Sims 4’s newest expansion pack, Cottage Living. (Picture- EA Games)

Earlier in the summer, the Sims released the Courtyard Oasis Kit and the Dream Home Decorator game pack. Both packs had new features that cater to different players. After all, the best part of The Sims is the ability to play it in many different ways. For players who prefer to focus on building houses or community lots, the Courtyard Oasis Kit brings a taste of Moroccan inspired design. The Dream Home Decorator game pack adds a story mode to building and designing as players can put their Sims through the life of an interior decorator. The newest expansion pack, Cottage Living, adds more features. Set in the English countryside, players can finally live the cottagecore life through their Sims. Players have been waiting for the game to add farming since it came out in 2014.

“I love playing with families and generations. So to be able to have a homestead and have kids finally be able to do stuff with the adults and more family gameplay makes it so exciting,” Leanne Ni Mhaolain, an avid Sims fan, said. She has been playing since the first Sims game in 2000. “My favorite part is probably the community built up, the FaceBook group and stuff and the YouTubers who make content.”

The Power of Truth in Journalism

The film “All the President’s Men” tells the story of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. They uncovered a scandal that eventually brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon.

Bob Woodward covers the arraignment of five suspects who broke into Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex. Some of the five suspects had ties to the CIA, which led him to believe that there was a bigger story. The Post’s executive editor, Ben Bradlee, then assigned Carl Bernstein to team up with Woodward.

Pictured: Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman).

Woodward and Bernstein faced cover-ups, deception and lies at every turn. But their investigation began to pay off. In a time before cell phones and internet, they made calls and knocked on doors. They also used an anonymous source who became known as “Deep Throat.”

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.

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.”

Fall Eats: Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese

There is nothing more exciting than good soup and grilled cheese, except for maybe when it is homemade. This recipe is not only fast and easy, but also delicious and great for a cozy afternoon at home.

Finished look! What a tasty dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced or chopped
  • 2 (28 oz) cans San Marzano peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese, optional

Instructions:

Good soup!
  1. In a pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add onion and cook, stirring as needed, until translucent (about 8 minutes).
  2. Add San Marzano peeled tomatoes (juice and all), stock and sugar. Bring to a low simmer. Cook uncovered for 12 minutes or until it has thickened.
  3. Add in the heavy cream, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Using an immersion blender or regular blender equipped to handle soup, puree soup until there are no large chunks left.
  5. OPTIONAL: stir in parmesan cheese.