Category: The Other World

What’s Up With America’s Wild Horses?

By Kate Bennett

Here in New England, many people hardly think about the wild horses and burros in the United States. Many horses and burros still run free in many of the western states, but there have been many different claims about how long this can continue. Some organizations claim that the wild horses are overpopulating and taking away resources from other animals. Some other organizations say that there are larger numbers of cattle on the ranges than horses and burros, and that the number of cattle needs to be lowered in order for all of the animals to have enough resources.

I interviewed Mary Koncel at the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), who explained that there are currently many misconceptions about the state of the wild horses. One myth being spread about the wild horses is that they are starving. Mary Koncel explained that this is a myth, because of the numbers of livestock competing with wild horses and burros, and that that is disproportionate. The federal government is charging money for private ranchers to graze on public land. In 2017, the grazing fee for 1 AUM (Animal Unit Monthly — each cow and calf take one AUM a month to be supported, so yearly 12 AUM) is $1.87 on private land, and ranges from $15 to $20 a month on public land. Many ranchers are corporate ranchers. Taxpayers are getting the bill for this subsidize ranging.

The issue of wild horses starving and not having enough access to water has been promoted successfully. Despite the fact that there are far more livestock than wild horses and burros living in the same areas, the wild horses and burros are being blamed for the lack of resources and losing their water supply. But in actuality, as explained by the American Wild Horse Campaign, the burros have been digging and creating their own water sources and then leaving them for other animals to use. These animals are actually adapting to the changes in their surroundings.

Reports gathered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) bust the myth that wild horses and burros are starving because they scale the horses’ conditions on a body scale. All of the horses came in between 3 and 5 on the scale, which means they have good body conditions, especially for wild horses. If they had been starving, their scores would have been lower. An environmental impact statement generated by the BLM stated that all of the wild horses are in good condition.

One of the biggest issues right now, according to Ms. Koncel, is the competition between the wild horses and burros, livestock, and extractive industries (mining, gold mines, oil). Mining groups are opposed to having wild horses and burros on the land even though the land is designated for these animals.

Mary Koncel explained that the AWHC understands that the wild horses and burros need to be managed in a way that is humane and cost-effective to taxpayers. Currently, the BLM is rounding up mustangs and putting them in holding pens where they are crammed among other horses and left to sit until someone comes along to adopt them. In 2013, the National Academy of Science generated a report that stated that the rounding up of wild horses is a failed practice, and that the BLM is actually facilitating a higher birth rate, which contributes to the issue of overpopulation. The report also explained that there is no science behind the BLM’s appropriate management levels, and that they are currently being questioned.

The National Academy of Science is now recommending managing horses on the range using the organic contraceptive porcine zona pellucida (PZP), and to reduce livestock grazing instead of wild horses. This method of birth control works for one year on the mare (female horse), and after about three years it can make the mare unable to reproduce for life. PZP is administered to these horses by shooting it at them from a distance and injecting them with it. In 2016, the BLM used birth control on 460 mares.
Mary Koncel explained to me that the AWHC likes to base their positions off data and science. The AWHC explains that there is enough land to manage these horses, but the government and involved organizations need to start looking at all aspects of the issues on the land, not just the wild horses. The livestock industry on those lands needs to be reassessed and other means of management need to be explored. Currently there are off-range pastures where the BLM pays people to provide pasture for groups of horses. The BLM spends money on that while putting less than 1 percent of its budget on PZP fertility control, even though the National Academy of Science has highly recommended it. The money being spent to take care of these horses is so high because the number of horses being adopted is not keeping up with the number being rounded up, so the BLM has to pay to take care of these horses.

Recently, the United States Senate was faced with a “spending bill that would allow for the killing or sale for slaughter of healthy wild horses and burros.” On Nov. 20, 2017, the AWHC learned that after months of campaigning against this, the Senate decided to maintain protections for wild horses and burros in the Interior and Environment appropriations bill for the 2018 fiscal year. The Senate even “directed the BLM to come up with ‘humane and politically viable’ solutions to wild horse management,” according to the AWHC. The Senate now has to negotiate with the House in a conference about the future of the wild horses and burros. The AWHC is working to find out the details about this conference. They explain that “if protections are removed and slaughter or ‘euthanizing’ begin, tens of thousands of wild horses will die. It would be an unprecedented mass slaughter. It would be tragic and defy the recommendations of scientists.”

If you are interested in getting involved with or learning more about this situation with the wild horses and burros, I suggest exploring the AWHC website, https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/, and signing up for their email updates. You can also reach out to them with any questions you may have about their campaign and the wild-horse issue. You can also check out the BLM’s wild-horse and burro website at https://edit.blm.gov/programs/wild-horse-and-burro. In Biddeford, Maine, there is a mustang rescue organization, Ever After Mustang Rescue. You can get involved and volunteer there, participate in their educational programs, visit and tour the facility, donate, and more. Find out more about this rescue at, http://www.mustangrescue.org/events.html. Finally, here is the link to the National Academy of Science’s report about the wild horses and burros: https://www.nap.edu/resource/13511/wild-horses-report-brief-final.pdf.

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Moxie, a 5-year-old mustang mare who has been out of the wild for about one and a half years. Photos by Kate Bennett

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Losing My Hero on 9/11

By Alivia Hallett

On September 11th, 2001, my world shifted upside down. The words “agony” or “pain” do not even come close to what I felt on that day. It was the day I lost my hero: my dad. That day is commonly known as the “9/11 terror attacks,” because there were four coordinated terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda, a terrorist group, targeting the United States. Two planes were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists and crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Within an hour and 42 minutes, both 110-story towers collapsed to the ground. The attacks caused at least $10 billion in property damage, injured over 6,000 others, and killed 2,996 people. Out of 2,996 people, only one name stands out to me, Lieutenant Jim Hallett, my father.

My dad was a firefighter for about six years; he loved his job with all of his heart. He would always love to come home and cuddle right next to me in my little princess bed and tell me what he did that day. Today, I still remember his stories, smile, laugh and the cologne he used to wear. His smile would make someone else smile, like it was contagious, and his laugh was always so loud and obnoxious that everyone else would laugh at him. My dad is my hero. I remember when I was little and I was stuck in my room crying because I couldn’t get the door handle to open, my dad used all the tools he had and his own body weight to break the door to free me. As soon as he opened the door with his weight, I could see instantly that a massive weight lifted off his shoulders while he hugged me so tightly. My dad dedicated his life to helping people, so that is what I want to become today. I want to be a nurse to help people and make a difference, just like my dad did.

I can still remember the day perfectly. I woke up that morning and thought that my life was perfect and how happy I was. I was happy about how the sun was so bright it lit up the whole kitchen, how my mom was finally washing my Princess Belle dress, and how my dad was making my favorite breakfast. He made golden-brown buttery toast, crispy hash browns and fresh-squeezed orange juice. My dad would be sitting at the table drinking his coffee and reading the newspaper while I would eat my breakfast across the table. Before even getting into the comic section of the paper, my dad got a call. He was told by the fire chief to come to the fire station immediately. My dad immediately got everything he needed, and as he was about to walk out the door, I asked him if he was coming back to play princesses and cowboys with me. He just looked back, kneeled on the floor and said that he would be back soon. He kissed my mother’s and my forehead before he walked out the door.

Only 20 minutes had passed when my mom called me to watch the TV. I remember hearing my mom yelling at me from downstairs with such distress that I knew it was serious. She was kneeling in front of the TV, and when I came over she held me tightly. I asked what the matter was, and she said something bad happened and everything was going to be okay. Literally seconds after my mom was telling me everything was okay, I saw pain and destruction; I was devastated. A couple of minutes passed by, and my mom received a call from my dad to grab me and to come to the fire station because it was in lockdown. When the fire station goes into lockdown the fire chief liked to have the families of all the firemen in one area. My mom without hesitation grabbed everything and loaded us in the car.

I was so confused because of what was going on that I couldn’t piece together in my mind on what I was thinking. My dad would always tell me that if we were in lockdown and had to go to the station, I should follow every rule and be a big girl. I was scared; I just wanted to see my dad in that moment, and I also knew my mom wanted to see him too. We got to the fire station and we immediately ran inside. I remember walking in and smelling this horrible body-odor smell, like someone just bathed in sewage or something foul. There were approximately 20 families standing together, watching a giant projection screen of what was going on. At the time I was two, and I didn’t really have the best understanding of what was going on. I remember my mom squeezing me and hugging me like it was going to be the last time she would see me.

A few seconds later the fire chief came over and informed the families that everyone’s loved ones were at the scene dealing with the disaster and he was going to join them. I looked around the room and saw everyone’s heart drop when they found out their loved ones were there. All we could do was watch the screen or pray. This is the sad thing about a lockdown: There was nothing we could do to help.

Hours had passed, and still no sign of our loved ones walking back into the fire station . Then we saw a light. The light was so bright it got everyone’s attention, and it lit up the entire room in seconds. Everyone was looking at the door and hoping their husband, father or loved one came back. Almost everyone made it back. My mom was standing in total shock and distress that my dad hadn’t walked in. The fire chief came up to my mom and handed her my dad’s fire helmet. He then informed her that he hadn’t made it back. My mom knew instantly what happened: that my dad had passed away. While holding the helmet in her hand, my mom dropped to the floor screaming, crying, saying, “Why? Why did he go?” My mom was a total wreck in that moment. It only took me a few seconds to realize that my dad had passed away.

At first, I was in denial about the whole thing, but finally I knew from my mom’s tears that it was true, that my hero was gone forever. I cried that whole night, which felt like eternity. The fire chief told my mom that my dad ran into the building to help rescue people, and when the chief told them to come back down, my dad decided not to. My dad heard a woman crying and was going to save her. Before he could get to her, the whole building collapsed on him. The only thing they could find of my dad was his helmet and pieces of him scattered all over.

When I think about heroes, I don’t think of Superman or Spider-Man. I think about my dad. My dad, the real superhero, who dedicated his life to help and save people. In my father’s final minutes on this earth, he decided to not follow orders from his captain and decided to go and save a woman. To this day, my family still mourns the loss of my father’s life, and he will never be forgotten. I will always be grateful for what firefighters do for us every day and cherish the memories I have with my father. Every day I wonder if he is watching over me and watching me make my own decisions. Just like my dad used to say to me, “You’re a light, so shine bright, my darling.”

I will love you forever, Dad.

Temple Grandin and Deep Pressure Stimulation

By Ryan Marshall

Temple Grandin has long been recognized as one of the most outstanding advocates for further studies into the true nature of the autism spectrum — and how could she not be? The Boston native, having just reached her 70th year this past August, was diagnosed with autism when she was well into her 40s and has since been consistently active in trying to provide better representation for those on the spectrum.

Among her many modest achievements in the field is the device known as the “Hug Box” (or “Hug Machine,” if you will), the practical application of which is to soothe hypersensitive individuals when overstimulation threatens to take hold.

Before delving into the often formless depths of human psychology, Grandin had accumulated a fair amount of experience working with livestock, and it was here that the first seeds were planted; it’s been said that a device which squeezes cattle in order to calm them after branding was the primary inspiration for Grandin’s own invention.

The Hug Box has long been a staple of contemporary occupational therapy as we know it, and further research has indicated that usage should by no means be limited to its initial demographic.

Deep-touch pressure is the sensation which the mechanism seeks to complement, and is distinguishable from “light” pressure in the sense that the latter has the capacity to upset a hypersensitive individual rather than calm them; understanding this very concept can benefit a child’s early physical and mental development whether they suffer from high anxiet y, hyperactivity, or are on the aforementioned spectrum.

An alternative for those who have limited space in their homes is the weighted blanket, a sleep aid which provides many of the same comforts as Grandin’s notably larger mechanism. The heaviness of the blanket is the key to its success when stimulating various deep pressure points; it allows for total relaxation, which is often required for those who experience overstimulation.

The blankets are said to release serotonin and decrease heart rate as well as blood pressure, and much like the Hug Box, are equally as useful to those who simply experience sleep deprivation on a regular basis. In this sense they are perhaps even more widely utilized in contemporary living than the machine, but as game-changing innovations, they are equally as valuable.

Grandin has proven to be an inspiring individual and, since her success in the field, has encouraged those like herself to follow their obsessions wherever they may lead them, as this gave way to many unique opportunities in her personal experience. The application of tools such as her Hug Box in the lives of youth on the spectrum is perhaps one of the first steps to establishing healthy coping mechanisms which can be carried into adulthood; in this sense, the mechanism is truly invaluable.

Fryeburg Fair

By Destinee Linscott

A family tradition going back generations in families throughout Maine, the Fryeburg Fair is the largest fair in Maine. There’s a little something for everyone. Boasting agricultural barns and exhibits on everything from old tools to homemade honeycomb.

Let’s not forget a child’s favorite part: the rides. There’s those for the daredevil, the Graviton, and those for people with a calmer stomach, like the Ferris wheel. Plus, you can’t beat fair staples like fried dough and candy apples (both of which I had).

The Fryeburg Fair is an ever changing, old time favorite. Yes, it’s the same basic fair every year, but there’s always new stalls that show up one after another.

Photos courtesy of Destinee Linscott
Left: (from right to left) The author, author’s nephew Eliijah and cousin Terri riding the Ferris wheel.
Top right: Display of antique wagons.
Bottom right: A sow and her piglets in one of the livestock barns.

 

Backpacking South Asia: Annapurna Base Camp

By Jennifer Jang

I had no plan in the least, and no questions in mind when I first embarked on this journey.

Thus, I was also in for a surprise when I found myself in the Himalayas days later, trekking. Once persuaded by the stories from travelers I met at the hostel, I had stormed into the tourist information center, requested the best beginner solo trek and paid for the hiking permits. Roberto gave me his map and translated to me parts of his Italian Lonely Planet guidebook; Sara lent me her boots and hiking gear; Neil offered me the rest of his peanut butter. I carefully rationed my money and calories for each day, purchased water-purification pills and altitude pills, and then I was off, determined to show that “I could,” despite my age, gender and lack of guide and porter. On the first day of the trek, I met Lu, a Korean who shared my determination.

“No, Man,” he told his guide, Man. “I will carry my own backpack.”

“Really?” his guide grinned. “I can carry it for you, no problem.”

“No, no, no,” Lu hiccuped out. “ I have to carry it myself.”

Unfortunately the trek translated to stairs, sweat and jelly legs. But there was always something out of this world waiting for me to catch up to — a crisp green valley, an archaic stone hut, a herd of goats that chewed on foliage. At the end of the first day, as I conquered the last flight of murderous stairs, a group of first-graders ran down in the opposite direction, the stairs merely daily routine. “Namaste!” I smiled, and they greeted me back with shy “Namastes.” I took a selfie of us, and their shy grins rejuvenated me.

Some four days later, I was only a few stops away from the base camp. The last few days I had been staying at the same place as the other trekkers, so I recognized Raj, who was meditating at a giant rock. I passed him, but he caught up to me when I stopped to stare at the skyscraper-tall waterfall that had just came into full view. The water was translucent and broke into a shower halfway.

“That is very beautiful,” I said, and he agreed. He also stopped to admire the view. I remembered the debate we all had the day before, on whether to stop at MBC, and mentioned my decision.

“So I’m thinking of going on to ABC,” I started.

Macchapucchre base camp was the stop before Annapurna base camp, and some would be staying there. However, I didn’t want to stop there. I wanted to reach the top in the shortest amount of time.

“No, no, you should stop at MBC.”

“Yeah,” I said. “But I’m thinking of it as a kind of challenge.”

“It’s not a challenge,” he said. “Some say it is more beautiful at MBC. Unless you are in a rush of course, then, you may try to go to ABC.”

It is not a challenge? I love challenge. Without it, I find only boredom. However, this journey started as an escape: I needed to escape the suffocating environment I felt in Taiwan. Up till that brief conversation, I hadn’t slowed down to consider what the journey meant to me personally. And I don’t have the answer for that yet.

I still went on to ABC; they all did too. There we had a big hearty party, playing card games such as “bullshit” and laughing over our ridiculous orders of food. We spent the night, woke for the sunrise, then took out our emotionless passport photos and used honey to paste them up on a beam in the dining hall, where they will oversee future guests. They will stay there for quite a while, in a row, among so many others. We said our goodbyes, goodbyes to the hours of camaraderie we shared.

Then we descended back to the unknown.

Fighting Hunger in Maine

By Kate Bennett

Did you know that Maine has been taking steps to end hunger? It has. According to Preble Street, a Portland-based nonprofit that provides food and housing services, “1 in 6 or 215,000 Mainers experience food insecurity every year,” and “1 in 4 children live in food insecure homes.” Feeding America, a national nonprofit, reports that Maine’s food-insecurity rate of 14.8 percent is higher than the national average food-insecurity rate of 13.4 percent. According to Preble Street, “Maine ranks 3rd in the nation, and 1st in New England, for very low food security.” But some solutions to the hunger issue are being implemented in Maine.

SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and is often called food stamps. SNAP is also known as the Food Supplement Program in Maine, and it is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, making it a federal nutrition program. SNAP creates a way for people with limited income and resources to get food. SNAP allows people to purchase food from grocery stores, which takes people one step closer to financial independence and cuts back the number of people relying on food pantries. Moving people from relying on food pantries to SNAP makes more food available in the food pantries for other people.

However, SNAP is currently facing budget cuts. Earlier this month, a budget resolution passed the House that over $150 billion will be taken away from the $4.1-trillion budget for multiple poverty programs, including SNAP. This means that smaller amounts of supplemental money (money used on groceries) are going to be issued to people and families in need of food.

The Preble Street Maine Hunger Initiative, or MHI, explains that they have been working to train and place SNAP Outreach volunteers in food pantries throughout the state. They also explain that they have been working to educate those participating in SNAP and those interested about any changes that may occur to the program and how to get involved.

The amount of food being given to food pantries had been decreasing, while the rate of hunger has grown. This has resulted in food pantries not having enough food to give to people, and some even having to turn people away. In 2008, Preble Street reacted to this by forming the Maine Hunger Initiative. The three main goals of the Maine Hunger Initiative are to “1) meet immediate food needs, 2) offset food supply shortages, and 3) develop long-term solutions to hunger.” They have been helping and encouraging more food pantries to open in Maine. Preble Street reports that in 1997, only 3 food pantries were open in Southern Maine, but today there are 80 food pantries in the region.

Preble Street’s mission statement is, “to provide accessible barrier-free services to empower people experiencing problems with homelessness, housing, hunger, and poverty, and to advocate for solutions to these problems.” Their food programs include a food pantry and soup kitchen that provide food to meet the basic needs of people who are struggling to get food. Both food programs are located in Portland. More information can be found on their website at http://www.preblestreet.org or by calling 207-775-0026.

The SMCC South Portland Campus has its own food pantry for students, the Captain’s Cupboard. If you are a SMCC student in need of food, this is an easy place to look. The Captain’s Cupboard is located in the Captain’s House. It is open Monday 2-6 p.m., Tuesday 12:30-6 p.m., Wednesday 9-11 a.m., Thursday 12:30-6 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

If you are interested in volunteering to help end hunger in Maine, you can look into volunteering at the Captain’s Cupboard, Preble Street, or at a local food pantry or other organization.

Markiplier’s Tour

By Taylor Freeman

If you are asking “what the heck is a markiplier,” let me give you a brief history lesson before getting to his tour.

Markiplier, as he is known on YouTube and social media, or Mark Fischbach, started his YouTube career in the year 2012 recording a horror game Amnesia. I won’t go into detail about the game since it’s not important for this article, but it’s pretty good and I would definitely recommend it. Back to Mark.

I personally found Mark’s channel in early 2013 through one of his recurring animators. Since then I’ve been following his growth and journey through youtube, watching him expand from horror games to other genres of games, to challenges, to charity livestreams. I’d like to note that this man and his community have raised over $1,000,000 total to various hospitals and alliances. He’s donated to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance multiple times, The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and multiple research institutes for Alzheimer’s and cancer research. And with every stream, every video, he has one-upped it each time with staying connected with his followers or subscribers.

In the past few years, while uploading and recording for his gamer interests, he’s also been creating his own shorts more frequently, shooting them with friends, and creating content that can be appreciated by more than just gamers. He has been more involved with doing improv shows with his friends Ethan (CrankGameplays), Tyler (Apocalypto_12), Bob (muyskerm) and Wade (LordMinion777).

Apparently YouTube wasn’t enough to quench the thirst to create. His first ever tour, “You’re Welcome,” was full of improv games, sketches and a mix of choices made by the audience to allow us, the viewers in real time, to decide what they should do on stage. One of their stops on the tour, for us northeastern folks, was at the Wang Theater in Boston, right off of Chinatown. The theater was absolutely stunning. There were chandeliers everywhere, marble pillars, and every inch of the ceiling was decoratively painted.

We were given paddles, one side red and the other green, with mark’s signature M and a mustache on either side. This was how the audience chose what the actors where going to do, who won the dance off or which act the audience enjoyed better. Each show is unique because of these paddles. At the beginning of the show, the crew brings out three suitcases, and the audience votes on which suitcase they should open. Each of the suitcases held a theme for the show, and we just happened to pick the horror theme for Halloween. They invited members of the audience to join them on stage to play games and participate in the show.

Watching this man grow from just some guy in his house playing horror games to an idol to people around the world, changing lives with the money he raises and the stories he tells — it’s inspiring, to say the least. He is the little guy. He is the kind of man that reaches out to the people who idolize him. He makes bets and goals with them, to be connected to the community he has created. I don’t know what he has in store after this tour, but the only way he can really go is up. If you haven’t seen any of his work, whether it’d be his “Let’s Plays” or his skits, I suggest checking him out; give it a shot. You might just find something you didn’t know you were looking for.