FOR YOUR HEALTH: Why It’s Wise To Hire Veterans With Disabilities

(NAPSI) — “Today, nearly 4 million Americans have a service-connected disability. At a time when many employers are struggling to fill positions, hiring veterans with disabilities can boost diversity and inclusion efforts,” explained Jeff Hall, national employment director for DAV (Disabled American Veterans).

For example, Dave Ellis found it difficult to get a job after receiving an honorable discharge from the Army. “I had a severe back injury, but I also carried mental scars from active duty,” he said. After six months of searching, he was able to find a supportive company that understands and values the traits that come from military training, including job-ready skills, tested leadership abilities and a mission-focused work ethic.

For others, however, it can be a struggle. In fact, a survey in The Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation found that 57 percent of veterans with disabilities transitioning to the civilian workforce feared hiring discrimination due to their disability.

“The reality is that many of America’s businesses, big and small alike, recognize the importance of hiring veterans with disabilities, but often don’t know where to begin,” added Hall.

To address this need, DAV has published “The Veteran Advantage: DAV Guide to Hiring and Retaining Veterans with Disabilities.” This free, comprehensive guide is the result of more than four years of study about what the veteran community contributes to the workforce and how hiring veterans, especially disabled ones, can improve a company’s bottom line.

The 36-page publication, which can be downloaded at, offers best practices and helpful tools for employers. But it goes further, helping to correct misperceptions and inspire more organizations to hire from this talent pool. Content includes statistics about veterans with disabilities, in-depth on-boarding and retention strategies, a practical checklist for employers, and explanations of financial incentives, tax credits and other support.

The Guide also highlights powerful testimonials of veterans thriving in successful careers, and case studies from employers who benefit from having disabled veterans in their workplace. Nationally respected companies such as First Data and USAA apply the findings within their own internal human resources departments and hiring teams.

There are also free and helpful resources that veterans themselves can take advantage of to help with the transition into a civilian career. For example, DAV holds free career fairs throughout the country for veterans and their spouses. Details are available at

“While our nation’s veterans, particularly those who have been injured in service, are faced with unique challenges, they also offer the skill sets, loyalty and dedication needed to help successfully power America’s economy,” said Hall.

SCORES & OUTDOORS: What does my weather prognosticating groundhog have to say this year?

Woodrow Charles

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

I woke up one morning last week in a sweat. I just realized it was the time of year when I go out to Center Vassalboro to visit my weather-prognosticating friend, Woodrow Charles, the woodchuck.

Legend has it that if he sees his shadow we are in for six more weeks of hard winter. If he doesn’t see it, we can prepare for an early spring – which, honestly, hasn’t happened very often.

The winter has been mild with not very much snow, but that storm last weekend will make the trucking out to his lair more of a chore than it would have been a week ago.

So, I bundle up with a warm jacket, scarf, gloves, and high boots, ready to brave the weather.

Memories rush through my mind as I begin my journey. I really never know what to expect when I head out there. Some years he is receptive and cordial, but there are others where he is ornery, sarcastic and down right rude. I guess it depends on the type of winter we have had. I can’t imagine living in a tree stump during the cold months of winter.

OK, his den is now in sight. Oh oh! No smoke from the chimney and no lights on inside. I hope he is all right. Unless, of course, he headed south like he did one year to become a groundhog cam at the Daytona 500.

I approach gingerly, looking around. No tracks in the snow. I knock. Pause.

I knock again.

“OK, keep your shirt on,” came a response from inside.

“He’s home,” I think.

The door opens. It’s dark inside and I see only a pair of eyes staring at me.

“Oh, it’s you,” says Woody. “Come on in.”

I look around. Nothing much has changed from last year, except the wood burning stove is missing, no light fixtures anywhere, and just a lonely, dingy appearance to the place.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

“Oh, you haven’t been around. I’ve gone off the grid. Simplified my life.”

“Why would you do that,” I asked. “You used to be so comfortable, and where’s your 60-inch TV?”

“It was getting expensive. Haven’t had an increase in my Social Security in a while,” was his response. “I’m relying more on my natural instincts to staying warm.”

“What about the upcoming Super Bowl,” I inquired. “You always have the boys over.”

“Oh, you remember the boys, Frank, Butch and Slim. Well, I gave my TV to Slim, and I’ll be going over there this year. It’s actually warmer there, for a change.”

“It’s going to be an exciting one. The Patriots are in it again, and the Rams will be looking for some redemption for their loss to the Pats in 2002,” I preached.

“Naw, never happen. Pats by 10,” was his prediction.

“Speaking of predictions,” I segued, “Anything about the rest of the winter?”

“To be honest with you,” Woody said apologetically, “I don’t have electricity anymore to run my equipment. I’ll have to go with the old-fashioned method. Step outside to find out whether I see my shadow or not. I’ll be right back, stay here!” he ordered.

I watched him go out the door. A couple of minutes passed. Tick tock, tick tock.

Finally, he re-entered his den.

“All I can tell you is that the coldest period will take place from early February to mid-February,” Woody stated. “The snowiest period will be mid-March and early April. April and May will be rainier than normal with below normal temperatures.”

“So, what are you trying to tell me,” I asked. “You could tell that from simply stepping outside? What’s your prediction?”

“Well, my boy, get ready for six more weeks of winter. I can’t let you off that easy. It’s been pretty easy so far. I can’t let you go through an easy winter, you’ll get soft.”

“How long are you planning to keep playing this charade?” I inquired.

“I’m not pretending, I am a bonafide weather-prognosticator. Not like that impostor in Pennsylvania,” he shot back.

“No, not the weather. I mean pretending to want to be off the grid. It’s just not you.”

“Come back next year, and you’ll see, I’m in it for the long haul,” he retorted.

I put my coat and hat back on, headed toward the door, looked back, and simply shook my head. Not another word.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

The New England Patriots and the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams will meet for the second time in the Super Bowl. Rematches in the NFL Super Bowl have happened six times. Have two teams ever faced each other three times in the Super Bowl era?

Answer can be found here.

Roland’s Trivia Question for Thursday, January 31, 2019

The New England Patriots and the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams will meet for the second time in the Super Bowl. Rematches in the NFL Super Bowl have happened six times. Have two teams ever faced each other three times in the Super Bowl era?


Pittsburgh and Dallas have faced each other three times, 1976, 1979, 1996.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Crazy February holidays

Shared by Debbie Walker

Of course I know you have all been waiting to see what this month will bring you for new holidays. There are more holidays than just Valentines, at least one or more for every day. I will include every one I have space for. I am sure you will find at least one or two to your liking.

Feb. 1 – Bubble Gum Day – Originated with schools, however libraries, clubs and businesses have adopted it. It’s a great fund raiser for kids at school without them having to sell something. The school charges the kids 50 cents to be able to chew gum at school for the day and that money is donated to a charity. Neat idea!

Feb. 2 – International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day – Actually first Saturday in February. Kids and grandkids, young and old, will love you for being so cool!

Feb. 3 – Super Bowl Sunday – I believe the only ones who don’t know this probably are not a fan!

Feb 6. – National Chopsticks Day – Put away forks and spoons and use chopsticks.

Feb. 7 – Wave All Your Fingers at Your Neighbor Day – To show your respect and appreciation on this very important day. Use all your fingers and smile.

Feb. 9 – Toothache Day – My only question is “WHY?” would we want to celebrate such a thing.

Feb. 11 – Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day – To help you recognize ‘stuff happens’ and don’t worry or fret or… cry over it. Get over it and look at things positively. Feb. Feb 12 – National Lost Penny Day – Go on a hunt for lost pennies today and pile up some good fortune.

Feb. 13 – Get a Different Name Day – This is for those who are not happy with their name.

Feb. 15 – National Gumdrop Day – We now have Gummies that have become the # 1 jelly type candies. However the day is to celebrate our friends, gumdrops.

Feb. 16 – Do a Grouch a Favor Day – Do it and make the world a better place. Don’t forget your smile!

Feb. 20 – Hoodie-Hoo Day – On this holiday people go out at noon, wave their hands over their heads and chant “Hoodie-Hoo.”

Feb. ‘last Saturday of the month’ – Open That Bottle Night – It’s intended to encourage reconnecting over a bottle of wine.

Feb. 26 – Tell a Fairy Tale Day – Cozy up with the kids and read them a fairy tale that you wrote or a printed one. It’s a true fairy story as long as it has a happy ending.

Feb. 27 – No brainer Day – This is the day for you to do all those easy no brain jobs and activities. If a project requires thinking, study or analysis of any kind, this would not be the day for it!

Feb. 28 – National Tooth Fairy Day – the tooth fairy magically arrives after a child’s tooth falls out. Place it under the pillow and the tooth fairy may leave the child a gift or possibly money.

I’m just curious which of these holidays you will add to your calendar. Let me know, I am interested. Contact me at Thanks for reading and don’t forget we also have a website! Eric is making it look great!

REVIEW POTPOURRI: A collection of great classical recordings

Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade

William Stenberg conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; Capitol P 8305, LP, recorded 1955.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

William Steinberg had a style of conducting in which the most often recorded works (and I still persist in my fascination with duplicates of favorite pieces of music) sounded freshly minted; his LP of Scheher­azade kept me listening from beginning to end and is available on Internet sites.

Other classical recordings recently heard and worthy of attention:

Pietro Mascagni

Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana – Domenico Savino conducting the Rome Symphony Orchestra, Kapp LP, KCL-9003, recorded between late 1950s to early ’60s. Kapp released mostly popular artists such as pianist Roger Williams, arranger/conductor Marty Gold and singer Jack Jones but it did have a few classical titles including the series, Opera Without Words, featuring Domenico Savino and his Rome instrumentalists. Along with Puccini’s Turandot, Verdi’s La Forza del Destino and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, Savino did an orchestral synthesis of the ever-inspired Cavalleria Rusticana of Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945). The singing is missed but the orchestral passages still shine; I played the record twice within a week recently.

Antonio Vivaldi

Vivaldi: Four Seasons – Iona Brown as soloist and conducting the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Philips 9500717 LP, 1979. The late Iona Brown (1941-2004) delivered a more understated performance of Vivaldi’s Seasons than is usually the case but her own vibrant musicianship enlivened this recording, one holding its own among many good renditions.

Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings; Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik; Sir Georg Solti conducting the Israel Philharmonic, London CS 6066, LP, recorded 1963. Sir Georg Solti (1912-1997) delivered a surging, intense performance of Tchai­kov­sky’s Serenade, one that stands with the Eugene Ormandy Philadelphia Orchestra Sony CD as exceptional; the Mozart is good but not as distinguished as those of other conductors. But Solti’s legacy of recordings is a great one. I recommend watching a 60 minute YouTube video of him rehearsing the Vienna Philharmonic playing Wagner’s Tannhauser Overture, from 1966. It is fascinating in how he goes over details of the score and relates to the orchestra.

Quote from the late humorist James Thurber (1894-1961) – “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”

Selectmen choose to ditch single-sort recycling; instead, put all in trash compactor

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen spent much of their Jan. 24 meeting talking about trash disposal, making decisions that will impact residents and local trash haulers.

They began the evening with plans to sign a single-sort recycling contract and put out a request for bids for hauling recyclables and mixed waste, separately. By the end of the discussion they agreed to abandon single-sort recycling and put everything into the trash compacter; and Town Manager Mary Sabins needed to amend the bid request.

Residents and trash haulers who have been separating recyclables do not need to continue.

The main reason for the change: board member John Melrose argued that when the new Coastal Resources (formerly Fiberight) plant in Hampden opens, its fancy machinery will recycle more items more efficiently than the town can.

Specifically, he said, paper and cardboard will be pulled out of the waste stream and pulped; organic materials will go into an anaerobic digester; and plastics will be sold or turned into fuel.

A 1995 amendment to Vassalboro’s Solid Waste Ordinance requires recycling cardboard and yard wastes, Sabins said. Selectmen debated, without deciding, whether recycling at Coastal Resources was adequate or whether they should ask voters to repeal the amendment.

Sabins’ draft request for transportation bids asked for three-year contracts to haul solid waste and recyclables to the Norridgewock landfill until the Hampden facility opens, and then to Hampden.

By the end of the discussion, selectmen directed Sabins not to contract for recyclables and to remove the recyclables section from the bid requests.

They also decided to ask for a one-year contract because of another change they are considering: transporting waste in open-top tractor-trailers instead of the large metal boxes now used. They plan to seek more information on the possibility.

Melrose also has a proposal to redesign the transfer station to simplify the traffic pattern and to deal with the aged compactor and backhoe that are mainstays of solid waste disposal. The board postponed action on his suggestion that they hire a traffic engineer to review the current situation.

Melrose described his goals as to “use the existing site, minimize expense and make it better but not perfect.”

In other business, board Chairman Lauchlin Titus reported he had inspected some of Vassalboro’s streetlight locations and has asked Vassalboro Community School Principal Megan Allen to ask bus drivers if they think there are places where a new light would increase safety.

Titus recommends multiple new lights, mostly at intersections. He is, however, aware that neighbors might not be pleased, especially if lights shine into bedroom windows.

The survey is a preliminary step toward converting streetlights to LED (light-emitting diodes), a move selectmen expect would reduce electricity costs significantly. Titus and Melrose voted to renew the liquor license for Natanis Golf Course, with fellow board member and course owner Robert Browne abstaining.

Action was postponed on bids for a new town office photocopier while Sabins gets more information; on beginning the process of renewing the town’s cable TV franchise agreement, for the same reason (Sabins still awaits an answer to questions she emailed in November 2018); and on consideration of a proposed town Food Sovereignty Ordinance to be presented at the June town meeting, because the proponent could not attend the selectmen’s meeting.

The next Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening, Feb. 7, followed by a preliminary workshop on the 2019-2020 budget scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: This is one guy who’s tired of telephone scams

image: AARP

by Roland D. Hallee, managing editor, The Town Line newspaper

This is an important message. Do not turn the page.

Does that sound familiar? I receive something like that every day, over the phone. It’s a robo call, and it sounds like this: “This is an important message. Don’t hang up.” At which point, I instantly hang up.

Times have become perilous.

Recently, I entered my seventh decade on this planet. I grew up in the 1950s, when times were simpler. During the post World War II and Korean War era, you didn’t lock your doors, a gentlemen’s agreement was settled with a handshake, and when someone gave their word, it meant something.

The dawn of the electronic age ushered in a new era of deceit and deception. A more complex world, wary of all phone calls, emails, etc., and a genuine distrust of other people.

Last week, on the front page of The Town Line, we ran an article about an ongoing scam involving Social Security benefits. That was to alert our readers of the scam. This article is to provide more proof to our readers that these scams do exist in our area in large scale, and everyone needs to be alert.

Rewind back to last summer, when my wife checked our answering machine one afternoon when she returned home from work. There, in broken English, was a warning that the IRS investigation task force had noticed four major and serious violations on our tax returns, and we had to notify them within 24 hours to rectify the matter. They wanted us to make the payment for back taxes. If we didn’t comply, the local “cops” would be coming to arrest us.

Nice try!

I knew it was a scam because I have used the same tax preparer for over 30 years, never had a problem. And besides, we file short form, standard deduction, and could not possibly have “major” violations. If there would have been any federal violations, we would have been visited by U.S. marshals, and not the local “cops.”

A call to the local police department led to a referral to the state’s attorney general’s office, in which case I was informed that it was, indeed, a scam. A very profitable one for the scammers, according to the AG’s office.

Now, we fast forward to last Saturday.

I received a phone call, on my cell phone, from a restricted number. Now, I don’t usually answer those calls, but I was expecting a call from a state agency on another matter, one that usually comes in restricted. I answered.

It was a male voice, with a slight speech impediment, informing me that I was the chosen recipient of a Publishers’ Clearinghouse $4.5 million prize. The voice, which had an unconvincing tone of jubilance for me, asked several questions. Like what time I would be home to receive my windfall prize; what I would do with the money; how I felt about winning so much money, etc.

My responses were mostly one word.

My wife and I are known to binge watch the three NCIS series, Monk, Bones, Columbo and Matlock. I consider myself an amateur sleuth, trying to figure out the conclusion of the episode before it gets there. I needed to follow this trail as far as it would take me, without compromising my financial assets. Then, pass my experience on to others, as to what I had learned, and warn them of impending fraud calls.

The first thing that tipped me off was the fact that he said I was selected because I had returned the form they had sent by mail. Something I never did. All of those mailings went straight into the paper shredder.

He then proceeded to give me a “code” number, and that I needed three forms of identification: my driver’s license, another one that I don’t quite remember, and that I had to produce the “invitational receipt.” When I informed the caller that I did not have that, he replied by saying, “Don’t worry, we can remedy that. Go to the nearest Wal-Mart, proceed to the customer service counter, and they would have the receipt there for me.”

Up came red flag No. 2. A lot of unlawful activities occur in Wal-Mart parking lots. And with the sophisticated electronic equipment of today, they probably could have retrieved all my personal information off my driver’s license while it was still in my pocket. I was not about to risk that, even if it is not possible.

He then informed me he would be calling back in 30 minutes. Now, when the call first came in, I suspected scam, and told the caller that I was driving and unable to take down notes. He asked if I could pull over and take down the information. I wasn’t really driving, but sitting in a rocking chair at a friend’s home where my wife and I had gone for Saturday morning coffee.

I concurred, pretended to pull over by the side of the road, and took down the information.

Thirty minutes later, the person called again. This time he asked if I was at Wal-Mart yet. I told him that I was still about 45 minutes away. I was on the road, and was headed home. He then instructed me to proceed to the Wal-Mart parking lot, and sit and wait in the car until he called again, in 45 minutes, with additional instructions before I entered Wal-Mart. Another red flag!

Within that 45 minutes, I called the local police department and informed them of the scam that was developing. They instructed me to not answer the phone when it rang.

Exactly 45 minutes to the second, my phone rang again. I did not answer. The phone rang a second time. Again, I did not answer. The caller tried four more times to contact me, within a span of five minutes. Every time, the caller ID indicated it was from an unavailable number. The calls then stopped.

I figured we were done.

At ten minutes before 2 p.m., the time they were supposed to deliver my “certified bank check, for $4.5 million,” my phone rang again. This time from a local number that looked familiar. I answered. It was that male voice again, asking what had happened and whether I was at Wal-Mart.

At that point, I informed him that I was through with him, that I had called the police, and that this was a scam.

I hadn’t even finished uttering the word “police” when the line went dead.

That was the end of that. But, my reason for relaying this story is that if you are in your senior years, and you receive calls like this, hang up immediately, do not engage in conversation with these people. They can make things look mighty attractive, and plant that doubt in your mind of, “what if this is legitimate?” But, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, they will ask for money somewhere along the way.

Remember the tried and true saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

My solution to all of this? As of this writing, Sunday afternoon, I am a little disappointed that I  have not heard back from the police seeking more details about the scam. The scam caller gave me his phone number to call if I had questions. The police had told me that this was the first time they had heard about his scam. So, maybe, this is something new and that word has to be relayed to folks to be on the lookout for this particular scam.

Instead of diverting $5.7 billion to build a wall on our southern border, why not appropriate funds to establish an agency, a la FBI, that investigates these scams, and tracks down these predators of the elderly for prosecution? This is going on all over America, and many unsuspecting and vulnerable senior citizens are being bilked of their hard-earned, well-deserved, and under-compensated livelyhood following a lifetime of work.

Dear fellow senior citizens, please be vigilant, and as attractive as an offer sounds, don’t fall for it.

SOLON & BEYOND: Week of January 31, 2019

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

Good morning dear friends, don’t worry, be happy!

The Solon Pine Tree 4-H Club had a meeting on January 12 with Cooper Dellarma presiding. At that meeting there were two leaders and 10 members present.

Three members have been invited to demonstrate and talk about 4-H. This will be done in the spring.

At the last meeting Hailey Dellarma did a presentation, followed by Debra Kanter doing a officer training, then she handed out pins and a folder with officer information on information on it.

On February 2, Sherri and Molly Thornton will be doing a work shop on winter care of animals from 10 to 11:30 a.m., at the Somerset County Extension office.

In February the Solon Pine Tree 4-H Club will be doing the food trays for the elderly.

Also at the February 4-H meeting, Laci Dickey and Cooper Dellarma will be doing their demonstrations instead of the leaders. This is something new that is being tried this year. All of the other members should be thinking of something they can do at the March meeting.

The next meeting will be on Saturday, February 17, at the Solon Fire Station at 9:30 a.m.

On Saturday, February 2, the Solon Congregational Church will be having a baked bean and casserole supper from 5 – 6 p.m., at the Solon Masonic Hall.

I recently received another e-mail from the New Hope Church, in Solon, and it starts, Dear Friends of the Shelter, “This one thing we know, “God is good all the time….And all the time He is GOOD!” While we often look at events in our lives as something that is such a surprise to us, we can rest assured that absolutely nothing surprises God and also we can know with certainty that He will make something good out of every situation if we are surrendered to His will! It is through this lens we can know that, in His sovereignty, God has a plan for our future here at New Hope Shelter after the loss of our church pastor and board president, Tim Hunt. God’s people have sustained all of us through their prayers and support. Pat and her family are doing well and are thankful as well for your prayers. The church now has two two interim pastors who will bring the messages for us over the next few months as we prayerfully seek the Lord’s direction for the right man who is being prepared by God to come and shepherd us here at New Hope Church. Pastor Tim taught a weekly Bible study and loved spending time to get to know the women and children of the shelter. He will be missed but we rejoice with him that he is now with his Lord and those who have gone on before. We know that when he entered the gates of heaven that he heard Jesus say, ‘Well done good and faithful servant !’ Thank you, Pastor Tim for all you did here at New Hope Church and the New Hope Shelter.”

The shelter, operating under the umbrella of the church, has a board of directors who help with policy decisions, procedures and rules, financial direction, and other general guidance. While the loss of our church pastor and board president is strongly felt, we know because of our years of working on developing a firm structure that the shelter will continue to move forward successfully while still under the oversight of our board of directors.

The above letter was signed, Blessings to you all in the New Year, by Rebecca Philpot.

Last week, I wrote that I would try and find out more about our up coming town meeting, but I didn’t put in Article 2: To elect all municipal officials and school committee members as are required to be elected. Nominated candidates: Selectman, three-year term; Elaine Aloes; Road Commissioner: Gary Bishop; Town Clerk/Tax Collector, one-year term: Christine Jablon and MSAD # 74 School Board Director, three-year term: Deron Whittemore.

Percy’s very much looked forward to memoir will be a short one, because I’m almost out of space: entitled; Winter’s White Gown; Snowflakes are falling Winter’s white gown, Gentley in motion They cover the ground. Beauty awaiting Softly in sound, Crystallized snowflakes Have touched Winter’s gown. Thank You, dear Master, For all that I see, And the snowflakes of splendor Adorning the trees. And the beauty of Winter Seems silent in sound, Season’s own loveliness Dressed up in white gown. (words by Katherine Smith Matheney.)

ERIC’S TECH TALK: Where are all the aliens?

by Eric W. Austin

(The views of the author in the following column are not necessarily those of The Town Line newspaper, or its staff and board of directors.)

Where is everybody? That’s the question posed by Italian physicist and Nobel Prize winner Enrico Fermi in 1950 over a casual lunch with his fellow physicists at the famous Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico.

To understand Fermi’s question and why he’s asking it, we must first review a bit of background on Earth’s own rocky road to life.

The earth formed, scientists tell us, about 4.5 billion years ago, 9 billion years after the Big Bang. From a cosmological standpoint, the earth is a bit of a late-bloomer.

After forming, Earth was a hot ball of glowing, molten rock – much too hot for life – for nearly half a billion years, but eventually the surface cooled enough for the first oceans to form. Now the stage was set for life, but once conditions were favorable, how long did it take for life to develop on the new planet?

The answer, surprisingly, is not very long. According to some estimates, it may have been as few as a hundred million years after the earth cooled. That is, from the perspective of the Universe, hardly any time at all, just a geological blink of the cosmic eye.

Assuming this is true of life across the universe and not simply a cosmic fluke when it comes to Earth, we would expect star systems which formed much earlier than our own to have developed life billions of years before ours did.

Add to this the understanding that it has taken our species less than half a million years to go from tree-dwelling primates to radio-broadcasting prima donnas and it suggests that any civilization with as little as a million-year head start on us would have spread across half the galaxy before we had even crawled out of the trees.

So, where are all the aliens?

This question has perplexed scientists for more than half a century and is known as the Fermi Paradox.

“Fermi realized that any civilization with a modest amount of rocket technology and an immodest amount of imperial incentive could rapidly colonize the entire Galaxy,” says Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the Institute for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). “Within ten million years, every star system could be brought under the wing of empire.”

He continues, “Ten million years may sound long, but in fact it’s quite short compared with the age of the Galaxy, which is roughly ten thousand million years. Colonization of the Milky Way should be a quick exercise.”

This creates a bit of a quandary for those seeking for intelligent life out beyond our solar system. On one hand, life appeared on Earth very early in its history – almost immediately, once conditions were right – so we would expect life to have appeared elsewhere in the universe as expeditiously as it did here on Earth. Since there are many stars much older than our sun, it only makes sense that life would pop up in many parts of the universe long before it did here on Earth.

On the other hand, it’s hard to get past the fact that we haven’t yet found any signs of life – not a smidge, smudge or random radio signal beamed out from Alpha Centauri. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

There must be something wrong with this picture.

Maybe, goes the thinking of some scientists, our assumption that life appeared very quickly here on Earth is wrong simply because the underlying assumption that life originated on Earth is wrong.

In other words, maybe life didn’t originate on Earth at all. Maybe it came from somewhere else. This idea is called the Panspermia Theory for the origin of life. The theory posits that life originated elsewhere in the universe and traveled here early in Earth’s history by way of an interstellar asteroid or meteor. Some scientists have even speculated that the impact resulting in the formation of our moon also brought with it the first microbes, seeding Earth with the life that would eventually evolve into you and me.

Where, though, did it come from? With a hundred billion stars in the observable universe, there’s a lot of places to choose from, but there is one very real possibility closer to home.

I’m speaking of Mars, the fourth planet from the sun, named for the Roman god of war. Mars is a little older than the earth at about 4.6 billion years, and although both planets began as fiery balls of molten rock, because Mars is located further from the sun and is only half the size of the earth, it cooled much faster. Scientists believe the now-dead planet was once covered with water and had a very temperate climate sometime in the distant past. The famous “canals” of Mars were not made by little green men, but carved by liquid water flowing across its surface.

When the fires of Mars’ molten core began to die, more than 4 billion years ago, the planet lost its atmosphere and was eventually freeze-dried by the relentless solar winds. At that point, any life it had either died or retreated far beneath the planet’s surface.

What this all means is that conditions were right for life on Mars hundreds of millions of years before conditions were right for it here on Earth.

If we are willing to accept that life sprung up on Earth in a very short time (geologically-speaking), then couldn’t the same also be true of Mars? If that is correct, then life could have appeared on Mars while Earth was still a smoldering hellscape. And if we grant these two suppositions, it is a small leap to think that the life we see on Earth actually originated first on Mars and traveled here early in our history.

Are we all originally Martians? It’s an intriguing possibility, and it’s a question to which we may soon have an answer. NASA’s InSight lander touched down on Mars just last month. They recently released the first recordings of a Martian wind rippling across the dusty planet, and the space agency currently has plans for a manned mission to Mars sometime in the 2030s. Once soil samples are brought back for analysis, we may finally be able to determine whether our conjecture of past life on Mars is true. It might also tell us whether that past life bears any resemblance to the life we find on Earth.

So, the next time you’re looking up at the night sky, admiring the cosmic majesty allowed by Maine’s clear view of the stars, give a little wave. Someone, somewhere may be looking back at you and giving a little wave of their own. They might even be your distant relative.

Eric W. Austin writes about technology and community issues. He can be reached by email at

Nine area students on University of New Hampshire’s dean’s list

The following students have been named to the dean’s list at the University of New Hampshire, in Durham, New Hampshire, for the fall 2018 semester.

Matthew Murray, of Augusta, with highest honors; Nicholas Carey, of Waterville, with high honors; Cody Short, of Fairfield, with high honors; Bradford Wilbur, of Fairfield, with honors; Carly LaRochelle, of Fairfield, with honors; Elijah Caret, of Oakland, with highest honors; Jessica Hosea, of Oakland, with highest honors; Hannah Duperry, of Oakland, with highest honors; and Adam Bovie, of Vassalboro, with highest honors.