Legal Notices, Week of October 12, 2017

STATE OF MAINE
PROBATE COURT
COURT ST.,
SKOWHEGAN, ME
SOMERSET, ss
NOTICE TO CREDITORS
18-A MRSA sec. 3-801

The following Personal Representatives have been appointed in the estates noted. The first publication date of this notice is October 5, 2017.

If you are a creditor of an estate listed below, you must present your claim within four months of the first publication date of this Notice to Creditors by filing a written statement of your claim on a proper form with the Register of Probate of this Court or by delivering or mailing to the Personal Representative listed below at the address published by his name, a written statement of the claim indicating the basis therefore, the name and address of the claimant and the amount claimed or in such other manner as the law may provide.

See 18-A MRSA 3-804.

2017-257 – Estate of CHERYL A. LESSARD, late of Madison, Me deceased. Allen R. Lessard, PO Box 201, Madison, Me 04950 appointed Personal Representative.

2017-260 – Estate of PAUL E. TEKVERK, late of Cornville, Me deceased. Jean C. Tekverk, 1839 East Ridge Road, Cornville, Me 04976 appointed Personal Representative.

2017-261 – Estate of BEVERLY P. MERRY, late of Norridgewock, Me deceased. Joel A. Merry, 161 New Meadows Road, West Bath, Me 04530 appointed Personal Representative.

2017-266 – Estate of DONNA M. McGUIRE, late of Palmyra, Me deceased. Frederick L. McGuire, 69 Lang Hill Road, Palmyra, Me 04965 appointed Personal Representative.

2017-267 – Estate of VIRGINIA GALLANT, late of Skowhegan, Me deceased. Ronald Gallant, PO Box 388, Anson, Me 04911 appointed Personal Representative.

2017-270 – Estate of BERNARD H. LEONARD, late of Skowhegan, Me deceased. H. Diane Leonard, 7 Merrill Street, Skowhegan, Me 04976 appointed Personal Representative.

2017-226 – Estate of LEONA F. QUIMBY, late of Norridgewock, Me deceased. Susan Butterfield, PO Box 9, New Sharon, Me 04955 appointed Personal Representative.

2017-278 – Estate of IRENE T. POISSONNIER, late of Anson, Me deceased. Linda Poissonnier, 126 Preble Avenue, Anson, Me 04911 appointed Personal Representative.

2017-279 – Estate of JEFFREY L. MORIN, late of Embden, Me deceased. Heather Morin Taylor, P.O. Box 470, Anson, Maine 04911 AND Brittany Morin, 194 Pierce Hill Road, Moscow, Maine 04920 appointed Co-Personal Representatives.

2017-281 – Estate of BARBARA L. KITCHIN, late of Palmyra, Me deceased. Pamela V. Robbins, 86 Oxbow Road, Palmyra, Me 04965 and Stanley Kitchin, Sr., 17 Glen Eagle Court, Pittsfield, Me 04967 appointed Cop-Personal Representatives.

2017-283 – Estate of STEVEN A. DAVIS, late of Fairfield, Me deceased. Claire Klopp, 26 Charland Street, Winslow, Me 04901 appointed Personal Representative.

To be published on October 5 & October 12, 2017.
Dated: October 2, 2017
/s/ Victoria Hatch,
Register of Probate
(10/12)

STATE OF MAINE
PROBATE COURT
41 COURT ST.
SOMERSET, ss
SKOWHEGAN, ME
PROBATE NOTICES

TO ALL PERSONS INTERESTED IN ANY OF THE ESTATES LISTED BELOW

Notice is hereby given by the respective petitioners that they have filed petitions for appointment of personal representatives in the following estates. These matters will be heard at 10 a.m. or as soon thereafter as they may be, on October 18, 2017. The requested appointments may be made on or after the hearing date if no sufficient objection be heard. This notice complies with the requirements of 18-A MRSA §3-403 and Probate Rule 4.

2017-265 – of BRENDON JOSEPH WHITE, adult of Fairfield, Me. Petition for Change of Name (Adult) filed by Brendon Joseph White, 20 Western Avenue, Fairfield, Me 04937 requesting his name be changed to Brendon William Rogers-Zion for reasons set forth therein.

2017-268 – Estate of STEVEN D. PRESLEY, adult of Madison, Me. Petition for Change of Name (Adult) filed by Steven D. Presley, 183 Shusta Road, Madison, Me 04950 requesting his name be changed to Steve Douglas for reasons set forth therein.

2017-272 – Estate of TIA LYNN FILLMORE, minor of Skowhegan, Me. Petition for Change of Name (Minor) filed by tiffany and Vincent Cook, 234 Dudley Corner Road, Skowhegan, Me 04976 requesting minor’s name be changed to Tia Lynn Fillmore-Cook for reasons set forth therein.

2017-269 – Estate of ISABELLA GRACE CALDWELL, minor of Pittsfield, Me. Petition for Change of Name (Minor) filed by petitioners Monica and Matthew Caldwell, 429 Somerset Avenue, Pittsfield, Me 04967 requesting minor’s name be changed to Clara Fay-Grace Caldwell for reasons set forth therein.

2017-280 – Estate of SHAUN ALBERT LADD, adult of Pittsfield, Me. Petition for Change of Name (Adult) filed by petitioner Shaun Albert Ladd, 121 Canaan Rod, Pittsfield, Me 04967 requesting that his name be changed to Abigail Lynn Ladd for reasons set forth therein.

2017-282 – Estate of COLBY JOSIAH WEBBER, minor of Fairfield, Me. Petition for Change of Name (Minor) filed by Terry McKenzie-Webber, 6 Ten Lots Road, Fairfield, Me 04937 requesting minor’s name be changed to Josiah McKenzie Webber for reasons set forth therein.

Dated: October 2, 2017
/s/ Victoria M. Hatch
Register of Probate
(10/12)

STATE OF MAINE
PROBATE COURT
SOMERSET, SS
NOTICE TO HEIRS
Estate of DONNA M. McGUIRE
DOCKET NO. 2017-266

It appearing that the following heir of DONNA M. McGUIRE, as listed in an Application for Informal Appointment of Personal Representative is of unknown address as listed below:

Ruby D-K McGuire

THEREFORE, notice is hereby given as heir of the above named estate, pursuant to Maine Rules of Probate Procedure Rule 4(d) (1) (a), and Rule 4 (e) a.

This notice shall be published once a week for two successive weeks in The Town Line, with the first publication date to be October 5, 2017.

Names and address of Personal Representative: Frederick L. McGuire, 69 Lang Hill Road, Palmyra, Me 04965.

Dated: October 2, 2017
/s/ Victoria M.  Hatch
Register of Probate
(10/12)

I’m Just Curious: A collection of thoughts

by Debbie Walker

How about I start out with “You Are Not a Duck!” Bet you are wondering where I am going with that one! Well… Oil of Olay had a commercial once upon a time that used that quote. For some reason that one really caught my ear-sight, even though I’m not one for a ritual of skin care. The rest of the ad has a picture of a duck and a woman. The words for that part said, “To camouflage her body, the female mallard duck assumes a dull, colorless hue, ‘You are not a duck!'”

I am sure there are still some people who believe it is wrong for a woman to dress and “color” herself up. I am not one. Right now my hair is burgundy. The other day I had a laugh with a lady who looked at me and said “your hair matches your top!” She was right, it did! My hair has been a variety of “reds.” There was one time when it came out like a funny clown’s hot pink hair. That day I was going to my niece’s birthday party. I rang the doorbell and my little niece answered the door. She looked at me and finally said, “Auntie, did you do that on purpose?”

Fortunately, I have a wonderful friend, soul sister, etc., who can fix just about anything I can mess up with hair color! It’s a miracle that I still have hair after all the things I have done to it!! I am definitely not a duck!

People soon may be wondering if I am a zoo keeper when they see my pocketbooks. That sounds like a strange comment but I am running around now with a moose pocketbook. I love it. People smile, some laugh and some stop to talk. My pocketbook has antlers and his name is Humpfree. Ken, of course, just shakes his head slowly but Mom, well that is another subject. I believe Mom knows that I am going to be her “forever child.” To save my mom from embarrassment I believe she just reminds herself and tells other people that it’s okay, what I do, because I volunteer with first and second graders. And yes, the kids love Humpfree. (I have a unicorn, pony and fish coming soon!)

Speaking of the kids, I love being part of their reading and writing program. The teacher gave them an assignment the other day. They were going to be writing about a personal experience they had that day. They were going to have 10 minutes to do this. You just never know what a child is going to say, that was proven again that day. Some of the kids wrote about an outside run, and some of the little writers wrote about our now painted and decorated classroom bench. One of our little writers, when asked what he was writing about, he replied “about 5 minutes on the toilet.” Needless to say the teacher and I had to control our expressions! I keep learning over and over again; don’t ask a child (or grown man!) if you don’t want to know!

I am just curious about some of the daily personal subjects you would like to write about. As usual, please contact me at dwdaffy@yahoo.com with your questions and comments. And don’t forget to try out our web page. Thank you for reading.

Composer: Brahms; Composers: Mendelsohn & Beethoven; Guitarist: Big Bill Broonzy; Band leader: Glen Gray

Peter CatesREVIEW POTPOURRI

by Peter Cates

Brahms

Two Piano Concertos
Dimitris Sgouros, piano, with Emil Tabakov conducting the Sofia Philharmonic; 1 plus- 51 000; 2 CDs, recorded 1999.

Sgouros plays with commendable musical feeling the two very powerful Concertos, still among my top five in this genre. Tabakov and his players provide exciting support, making this a reasonably priced and desirable album for getting to know Brahms through some of his very best music.

Mendelssohn and Beethoven Violin Concertos

Joshua Bell, violinist, and Sir Roger Norrington conducting the Camerata Salzburg; Sony-SK 89505, CD, recorded 2002.

These two Concertos are basic also to a classical CD collection because of the sweet melodic appeal of both works. Bell and Norrington give a top notch collaboration.

P.S. Norrington blew opportunities for repeated engagements with the Cleveland Orchestra because he showed up for a rehearsal dressed in shorts, sandals and a T-shirt, thus repelling most of the much more modestly dressed players.

Big Bill Broonzy

Big Bill Broonzy

Bad Acting Woman; I’m Woke Up Now
Okeh, 6724, ten-inch 78, recorded early ‘40s.

Big Bill Broonzy (1893-1958) came out of a share croppin’ background and preaching to become one of the finest writers and performers of blues from the ‘20s through the ‘50s, living in Chicago for many of those years and recording pile discs for a sizable number of labels. The above two songs are typical of blues – the treacheries of love relationships, addictions, employment problems, etc. And there is always the lament of Woe Is Me !

Broonzy was a true artist – he knew timing, delivery, drama, and context. And the record is a treasure!

Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra

Bei Mir Bist Du Schon; Let’s Make It a Lifetime
Decca 1575, ten-inch 78, recorded December 1, 1937.

My three favorite big bands are those of Woody Herman, Harry James and Glen Gray – the last of whom made more sweet music than swing, unlike the other two. I own a number of his blue label Decca 78s (the ones that originally retailed for 35 cents a platter) and later LPs for Capitol, Hindsight, Harmony, etc.

This record contains a good rendition of the Andrews Sisters’ megahit, Bei Mir Bist du Schon and a very nice ballad that I was previously unfamiliar with, sung wonderfully by one of Gray’s lead singers at the time, Kenny Sargent. What gives this record and others of Gray is the classy intelligence and good taste in the arrangements. There are not the trite notes, the bombastic sounds and the simply bad material that so often bedevil certain other groups that will remain unnamed. I return to the Grays, the Hermans and the James’s for repeat hearings with pleasurable anticipation.

Sheepscot Pond will benefit from alewives

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY

by Frank Richards
President Webber Pond Assn.

I read, with interest, the Community Commentary column about LD 922 in last week’s issue of The Town Line (October 5). This is legislation to open the fish way on Sheepscot Lake and allow sea-run alewives to return.

That column makes a reference to Webber Pond . . . “but, overabundance of alewives (as has been experienced recently in Webber Pond) can degrade water quality and cause other complications.”

I am the president of the Webber Pond Association. That commentary goes way beyond both the discussion at our annual meeting this August and the article in The Town Line about that meeting by Roland Hallee, published in September.

There has never been a recorded case of overabundance in a spawning run causing problems. Alewives have overpopulated in the Great Lakes. However, that is comparable to living in the ocean, not a spawning run from the ocean to an inland lake.

Webber has had alewives since 1997. The run has slowly grown over an approximately 20-year period. In 2014 the run plateaued at 350,000 spawning adults and seems to have stabilized at that number, way more than we ever expected.

The Webber Pond Asso­cia­tion is trying to learn about an academic model, which estimates inputs of nutrients from spawning adults and outputs of nutrients from out migrating juveniles. Evidently, it may be possible to estimate an optimum sized run for Webber, where the most nutrients would be exported.

It’s fair to say that the Webber Pond Association has questions about the size of the run. At least one person has undocumented suspicions that it has become so big that it may be degrading water quality. However, rumors about overabundance of alewives actually causing problems on Webber Pond are erroneous.

It is important for people interested in LD 922 to understand that Webber’s experiences with alewives have been positive and alewives are popular among its residents. The lake has cleared substantially following their return.

When alewife restoration began in the mid-1990s, we too heard about the studies, mostly from the Midwest, which warned of negative effects. However, nearly 30 years later none of those problems ever materialized.

The good experiences on Webber have been replicated locally on Three Mile Pond and Togus Pond. Further north, Sebasticook Lake, Pushaw Lake, Chemo Pond, and Davis Pond have also had the same good experiences.

Last year, I was invited by a representative from the Natural Resources Council to testify in favor of LD 922 at the initial hearing. The committee seemed to already know about the positive effects of alewives on several inland lakes. As one might expect, it also seemed well aware of the economic development benefits of alewives to the lobster industry as bait and to the ocean fishery as forage.

The committee has probably been advised that the fish ladder passed alewives for many years without creating problems for the rearing station. They seemed openly skeptical about both lampreys and rearing station issues.

Several people with scientific credentials testified in favor of LD 922. No one with credentials testified in opposition. If it had been a fight, they would have stopped it.

A legislative committee will listen respectfully to any citizen. However, on something like this, at some point there needs to be confirmation by a scientist, before the committee will give those views much weight.

The Sheepscot Lake Association has been engaging in a political campaign to defeat LD 922. They are acting in good faith, out of concern for the lake’s welfare.

I wish they had reached out more to get a broad range of ideas and professional advice. I will assert that they have arrived on the wrong side of history and are actually opposing something that has worked well on other lakes and that credentialed scientists believe would benefit Sheepscot.

Alewives are the means by which nutrients are exchanged between the ocean and inland lakes. There is more involved than simple clearing of lakes, such as Webber, with phosphorus imbalances.

I predict that LD 922 will be reported out of committee as “Ought to Pass,” possibly by unanimous vote. I predict that a few years down the road, after gaining experience with alewives, Sheepscot’s residents will be as happy as the residents of any other lake that has them.

IF WALLS COULD TALK, Week of October 12, 2017

Katie Ouilette Wallsby Katie Ouilette

Yes, the very first thing WALLS want to say is a message of thanks to the faithful readers of this column! Yes, a huge thanks to all of you who call me Walls, or who ask about having so much to say about so much every week. Well, surely you recognize me from the picture that appears at the top of this column. Yes, folks, when I visited the eye-doctor, I said I had to have a wild glasses frame so that people would recognize me. In fact, while I was waiting for the lenses, I never got a ‘hi’ or a wave, but I do again now! So WALLS say ‘thanks’ again!

Frankly, I used to work for Dr. Poulin, the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, in Waterville. Yup, his office was over LaVerdiere’s Drug. Why am I telling you this faithful readers? Well, surely, you who have frequented Waterville of late know that the city that was a shopper’s delight has changed BIG. Yup, Waterville downtown is now Colby College’s annex. Lordy, Lordy, how Watervile’s downtown is changing and almost by the minute. Yes, faithful readers, if you are old enough, you remember when Colby College’s Campus was on Waterville’s College Avenue. As a matter of fact, Joe Denis lived on Abbott Street and his class of ’52 was the first to graduate from the new campus called Mayflower Hill. Now Colby is back, in part, on Waterville’s Main Street.

Well, WALLS, you saw the photo of my trying on my wedding gown with the help of an employee at Alvina & Delia’s Dress Shop, on Waterville’s Main Street and you know that Alvina & Delia’s no longer exists, just as Dr. Poulin’s Office above LaVerdiere’s Drug. Ah, how times change our yesterday’s memories. Remember Levine’s Clothing Store for men? Yes, it has gone, too, and will soon be a boutique hotel!

Yes, WALLS, you have concentrated on Waterville, but city and town has changed or is changing, as we so well remember. Just for kicks, you have been writing about Skowhegan’s Water Street and the town that used to be a tourist’s mecca has changed much since the youth of many. We’ve lost Woolworth’s, Grant’s, McClellan’s, The Bonnet Shop, Cora Cayouette’s and Laney’s Men’s Store plus Rexall Drug, Haines’ Drug and LaVerdiere’s Drug (yes, Skowhegan, too) and even the liquor store is now in a grocery store!

Yes, times do change and young people will soon be part of the Skowhegan downtown scene, when the Charter School moves to what used to be Holland’s Variery.

We are told that folks in Maine are old, but youth has taken control of Central Maine, for sure.

SOLON & BEYOND, Week of October 12, 2017

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
grams29@tds.net
Solon, Maine 04979

Good morning, dear friends. Don’t worry, be happy!

Legos Time will be Saturday, October 14, from 10 a.m.- noon, at Stewart Public Library, 37 Elm St., North Anson. Regular library hours will be 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. that same day.

The Embden Community Center will be serving chicken cordon bleu at there monthly public supper on Saturday, October 14, at 5 p.m.

On October 21, Steve & The Good Ole Boys band will be playing at the Embden Community Center from 7 – 11 p.m.

There were at least 125 motorcycle riders at the Solon Hotel on a perfect, beautiful fall day recently who were all going for a ride in this event. This is the 23rd year that it has taken place starting at the Solon Hotel. A spaghetti supper would be served to those who were hungry after their ride. Eleanor Maclean was making her famous recipe of spaghetti, which she has done for many years, and is now still doing it at 88!

Somerset Woods Trustees and Brian Alexander are still at it! Two more work days have been scheduled to complete Phase 1 of the new Coburn Woods Trails before their grand opening, scheduled for October 29. (Put that date on your calendar too!)

On the e-mail that I received it tells of two working days, Oct. 7 and Oct. 15. for those Eager for Exercise Before the Snow Falls? No tools are necessary as Brian has plenty but if you have a favorite trail cutting tool please do bring it. Starting time is 8:30 a.m., work until 1 p.m., or as long as you have to work.

We appreciate your help to build these trails! Once all phases are completed they will have around six miles of trails for all users, including mountain bikes.

I know how much many of you love Percy’s memoirs and before that, his wise words of wisdom! And so in memory of Percy who died two years ago, I am going to share especially those of you who are ‘Cat Lovers’ with some information on cats. Some of this information comes from a little three-inch square book that I bought at a yard sale, and in the introduction it states, “No wonder the ancient Egyptians worshipped cats as gods – is there an animal with more dignity, more aloof serenity, and innate grandeur? What other domestic creature behaves like an honored guest and is treated as an equal?”

Cats fix us with their gaze and put us in our place. They beguile us with their startling affection and charm us with the beauty of their fluid bodies. They amaze us with their composure and delight us with their agility.

Cats do as they please, and for that we admire – and even revere them. They treat us as companions, demanding and receiving our respect as their due. The fact that they choose to spend their lives with us is a gift we accept gratefully.

Now for a few of the quotes in this little delightful book in memory of Percy! “His friendship is not easily won but it is something worth having” – words by Michael Joseph, English publisher; and by Lilian Jackson Braun, American writer – “To understand a cat, you must realize that he has his own gifts, his own viewpoint, even his own morality.”

One by Mark Twain says, “One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.” And by Jim Dais, American cartoonist – “Way down deep we’re all motivated by the same urges. Cats have the courage to live by them.” I like this one from Abraham Lincoln – “No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.”

And so I will close with this one which was anonymous – “No self-respecting cat wants to be an artist’s model.” (I didn’t find that to be true, Percy let me paint him several times!)

Post-harvest tour at Thurston Park

Hikers on Bridge – Photo courtesy: Town of China

This post-harvest tour of Thurston Park in China is being held as a follow-up to a June pre-harvest tour on Sunday, October 15, from 9 a.m. – noon. It is co-sponsored by the Thurston Park Committee and the Two Rivers chapter of Maine Woodland Owners. The park is a 400-acre, town-owned forest with waterfalls, hiking trails and cultural and historical landmarks.

Directions: From Rte. 202 at the head of China Lake, turn onto Pleasant View Ridge Road. Travel 0.4 miles, veer right, then another 0.3 miles, and left on Dutton Road, which becomes Libby Hill Rd, one mile. Right onto York Town Rd., one mile to parking.

For more information, contact Jeanne at jeanne@mainewoodlandowners.org.

GARDEN WORKS: Stampede of fun – Stomping grape juice the old-fashioned way

Emily CatesGARDEN WORKS

by Emily Cates

My eyes dart back and forth between another tub of apples waiting to be made into sauce and a shimmering colander of freshly-picked grapes. “What shall I do?” I wonder as I try hard to figure out what to do with my precious few moments of spare time. As I picture in my mind the other day when my neighbors and I got together for a grape-stomping party and how much fun it was for the kids to stomp around on the grapes to make juice, the grapes won out and the rest of my day’s activities were set.

Making grape juice is refreshingly simple and an exciting departure from the occasional drudgery that can accompany preserving jar after jar of produce in the autumn-time kitchen. From there, the juice can be enjoyed right away, left a couple days to develop effervescence, or aged further into wine or vinegar. (I’ll leave it to you to determine how you wish to proceed.) For now, though, let’s look at the joyous occasion of extracting the juice the way it has been done for ages. From the vine to the press, we’ll see how to handle grapes in a way that will produce some of the yummiest juice in all the land.

The first thing we could do, if we’re up for it, is to invite friends for a stomping party. If pressed for time, we could have the grapes already harvested; if there is time, let’s invite friends to help us harvest and hand them an extra pair of pruners. It can be a lot of fun that way, especially for kids who can see where the scrumptious juice comes from and who have a part in its production. (Of course, juice-making can be a relaxing solo endeavor as well, though I really enjoy watching the expressions people make when they smoosh grapes between their toes!)

How the fruits are harvested makes a huge contribution to the quality of the juice. I personally use whatever variety is ripe, sometimes blending different varieties to taste. Since I never bother to spray my grapes with pesticides or anything, I occasionally do find “organic” things on them we would not want to eat.

Spiders, especially, seem to enjoy spinning webs on or near grapes. Yellow jackets and ants will clue me in on to deliciously ripe fruits by their presence. And where individual grapes grow touching each other, there is a greater chance of something taking up residence in this area. With all this in mind, while harvesting, before the clusters are placed into the basket, make sure to carefully inspect each individual grape and toss any that are substandard.

Unripe, overripe, diseased and insect-ridden fruits should be discarded – preferably into a container, and tossed away from the vines for the chickens or compost pile. If the grapes are thoroughly picked over and rinsed clean, they should be in beautiful shape when ready to press.

At pressing time, place cleaned grapes into a sturdy colander set into a stock pot or something similar that is not iron, aluminum, or Teflon-coated cookware – always keeping in mind this could make a mess! Whoever stomps on the grapes must have impeccably clean feet. (While we’re at it, let’s sing/dance/ make up songs about juice-pressing!) The juice is then strained through a sieve and poured into clean glass containers of choice. Make sure everyone has a taste! Ahhh….delectable! Now you have participated in an activity that has delighted mankind from the ages of long ago.

Going to the open field

Winslow Youth Football fifth-sixth grade team member Talon Loftus carries the ball downfield during a recent game.
Photo by Kevin Giguere, Central Maine Photography staff

TECH TALK: A.I. on the Road: Who’s Driving?

ERIC’S TECH TALK

by Eric Austin
Computer Technical Advisor

In an automobile accident – in the moments before your car impacts an obstacle, in the seconds before glass shatters and steel crumples — we usually don’t have time to think, and are often haunted by self-recriminations in the days and weeks afterward. Why didn’t I turn? Why didn’t I hit the brakes sooner? Why’d I bother even getting out of bed this morning?

Driverless cars aim to solve this problem by replacing the human brain with a silicon chip. Computers think faster than we do and they are never flustered — unless that spinning beach ball is a digital sign of embarrassment? — but the move to put control of an automobile in the hands of a computer brings with it a new set of moral dilemmas.

Unlike your personal computer, a driverless car is a thinking machine. It must be capable of making moment-to-moment decisions that could have real life-or-death consequences.

Consider a simple moral quandary. Here’s the setup: It’s summer and you are driving down Lakeview Drive, headed toward the south end of China Lake. You pass China Elementary School. School is out of session so you don’t slow down, but you’ve forgotten about the Friend’s Camp, just beyond the curve, where there are often groups of children crossing the road, on their way to the lake on the other side. You round the curve and there they are, a whole gang of them, dressed in swim suits and clutching beach towels. You hit the brakes and are shocked when they don’t respond. You now have seven-tenths of a second to decide: do you drive straight ahead and strike the crossing kids or avoid them and dump your car in the ditch?

Not a difficult decision, you might think. Most of us would prefer a filthy fender to a bloody bumper. But what if instead of a ditch, it was a tree, and the collision killed everyone in the car? Do you still swerve to avoid the kids in the crosswalk and embrace an evergreen instead? What if your own children were in the car with you? Would you make the same decision?

If this little thought exercise made you queasy, that’s okay. Imagine how the programmers building the artificial intelligence (A.I.) that dictates the behavior of driverless cars must feel.

There may be a million to one chance of this happening to you, but with 253 million cars on the road, it will happen to someone. And in the near future, that someone might be a driverless car. Will the car’s A.I. remember where kids often cross? How will it choose one life over another in a zero-sum game?

When we are thrust into these life-or-death situations, we often don’t have time to think and react mostly by instinct. A driverless car has no instinct, but can process millions of decisions a second. It faces the contradictory expectations of being both predictable and capable of reacting to the unexpected.

That is why driverless cars were not possible before recent advances in artificial intelligence and computing power. Rather than traditionally linear, conditional-programming techniques of the past (eg: If This Then That), driverless cars employ a new field of computer science called “machine learning,” which utilizes more human-like functions, such as pattern-recognition, and can update its own code based on past results in order to attain better accuracy in the future. Basically, the developers give the A.I. a series of tests, and based on its success or failure in those tests, the A.I. updates its algorithms to improve its success rate.

That is what is happening right now in San Francisco, Boston, and soon New York. Las Vegas is testing a driverless bus system. These are opportunities for the driverless A.I. to encounter real-life situations and learn from those encounters before the technology is rolled out to the average consumer.

The only way we learn is from our mistakes. That is true of driverless cars, too, and they have made a few. There have been hardware and software failures and unforeseen errors. In February 2016, a Google driverless car experienced its first crash, turning into the path of a passing bus. In June 2016, a man in a self-driving Tesla was killed when the car tried to drive at full speed under a white tractor trailer crossing in front of it. The white trailer against the smoky backdrop of a cloudy sky fooled the car. The occupant was watching Harry Potter on the car’s television screen and never saw it coming.

Mistakes are ubiquitous in our lives; “human error” has become cliché. But will we be as forgiving of such mistakes when they are made by a machine? Life is an endless series of unfortunate coincidences, and no one can perfectly predict every situation. But, lest I sound like Dustin Hoffman in the film Rain Man, quoting plane crash statistics, let me say I am certain studies will eventually show autonomous vehicles reduce overall accident rates.

Also to be considered are the legal aspects. If a driverless car strikes a pedestrian, who is responsible? The owner of the driverless car? The car manufacturer? The developer of the artificial intelligence governing the car’s behavior? The people responsible for testing it?

We are in the century of A.I., and its first big win will be the self-driving car. The coming decade will be an interesting one to watch.

Get ready to have a new relationship with your automobile.

Eric can be emailed at ericwaustin@gmail.com.