Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Worth A Thousand Words......

Received via e-mail.

Words fail me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Advice To Potential College Freshmen

By way of Facebook comes this advice for potential college freshman from Cal Techgirl.

Dear Prospective Freshmen, You are trying to get into a major 4-year university. You do yourself no favors by 1) acting like you're my friend (e.g. "Hey" is not an appropriate subject line for a 1st email) or 2) using text speak. We use grammar and spacing here in the big kids' sandbox.

A number of comments from some of her friends expanded a bit on this, most of with which I agreed. Names have been modified to protect the innocent from egregious retaliation.

BJW- Good luck with that one. Having taught a few high schoolers in the finer arts of English Literature, Grammar and Composition, I can tell you I fought the tough fight, but I fear I lost most days.

I once tried to convince my students to not use any "be" verbs in a particular assignment. They ignored me. I rewrote each of their papers, and I used 2 "be" verbs in two of them, and none in the others. They could not believe that I did it. One student claimed that I changed the meaning of what she had written. I sat down with her and went line by line. Then, she said, "but it doesn't sound like me." (Imagine the whine in her voice.) She did not amuse me. (I now teach only my children - homeschool. They don't like my "no be verbs" rules, either.)

Cal Techgirl- That's hard. But important for what we teach in terms of professional scientific writing. Most of them just don't get it.


I think the other problem is that these kids just don't read as much as we did. You learn language by seeing it and hearing it.

CS- We just hired a girl with a bachelor's degree. Every e-mail she writes starts with “Hey”, even to the Assistant Vice President of our department. ACK!

BJW- Our society has devolved to such a casual state! Can we blame Mark Zuckerberg?

I have seen this problem at work, where the writing skills of the engineers, technicians, and software coders leave much to be desired, particularly among the younger employees. It's one reason why I spend an inordinate amount of time rewriting procedures, design specifications, and product proposals. It's also the main reason I read anything BeezleBub writes for school as he has a tendency to use texting shorthand – mostly leaving out “unnecessary” words – which makes reading his writing assignments painful at times. At least he hasn't been using texting abbreviations...or at least not yet.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Making The Movies Jealous

This has to be the best marriage proposal, ever. It's also one of the cleverest I've seen.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Prom Night - Gilford 2011

I must admit to an oversight. I didn't post last night because I forgot. I had plenty to write about, but I was sidetracked by another event – BeezleBub's prom night.

Deb, the Mom-In-Law, her mother-in-law (BeezleBub's great-grandmother), and I went to the high school for the Grand March, where the couples attending the prom were presented to the public. After that they departed the school and arrived at Weirs Beach to board the M/S Mount Washington cruise ship, host to their prom.

Deb returned to work and the Mom-In-Law, her mother-in-law, and I went out to eat. After dinner we returned to The Manse and the next few hours were spent in conversation. I didn't realize how late it was until BeezleBub returned home (about a half hour before midnight). I have no idea where the time went. The chances of writing anything meaningful had disappeared, particularly since it was so late and bed beckoned.

I did manage to snag one quick picture of BeezleBub and his date, Hobbit. Ain't they cute?

Click on image to enlarge

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Economic News In Hew Hampshire - Not So Good

Two bits of news aren't helping the economic situation here in New Hampshire.

First, state revenues for the month of April were below projections by about $30 million. That's certainly not going to help with the budget deficit, making this fiscal year's shortfall about $47 million for this fiscal year. That's on top of the existing $800 million deficit from the previous fiscal year. Needless to say, state legislators aren't happy.

"The governor had an opportunity to use responsible and realistic revenue figures like the House budget used, but instead he chose to use numbers that were nearly $300 million higher to hide his greater spending," said Republican State Committee Chairman Jack Kimball.

Over the past four years the governor and the then Democrat majority legislature went on a spending spree, increasing state spending by over 30% over that time, using inflated revenue projections to justify the high spending levels. When revenues fell well below the overly optimistic projections, the governor and legislature failed to address the expenditure problems, instead focusing on trying to increase fees and taxes at a time when most businesses and individuals were struggling to make ends meet. Even with the increases, the state revenues failed to meet projections.

At least the budget for the next two fiscal years are likely to be in balance as the GOP in both the House and Senate cut the proposed 2-year budget by over $700 million, basing it on far more conservative (and realistic) revenue projections.

The second bit of bad news concerns hiring, with over half the businesses in the state planning not to hire any new employees either this year or next year. That doesn't sound like an economic recovery to me.

A number of factors are driving this trend. One New Hampshire businessman explained why he's holding off.

At a meeting attended by about two dozen businessmen and women at the 1st District Congressman’s Manchester District Office off Lowell Street, Gary Brown of Raymond-based www.WebPageDesignUSA.com and The Image Factory said he can’t afford to hire any more staff and is fighting to keep his current 12 employees working.

“I’m at tipping point, where if I hire any more folks, I will have to pay for national health care,” Brown said.

“How an I going to survive? I’m not going to hire,” he said.

This is yet another of the unintended consequences of ObamaCare affecting employment, not just here in New Hampshire, but across the nation.

Other businesses will make do with their present staffing levels, even if work does pick up, preferring to pay for overtime rather than benefits for new hires, or hiring temps on those occasions where they need the extra help.

Other factors influencing hiring include energy prices, something some businesses cannot easily pass on to their customers. So to keep their costs low they won't add staff, offsetting their higher energy costs.

Neither bodes well for the employment picture in New Hampshire. I have a feeling this is also true for many other states as well.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blame The 545

I've seen this on at least one other occasion, but it's still as powerful as when it was first published back in 1985, and again in both 1995 and 2008 (with some additions and changes).

“This” is an editorial written by Charley Reese and it rightly attributes all of this country's problems to the 545 people in Washington who are, at the heart of it, responsible for the ills we've suffered for decades (and particularly the past few years). Reese doesn't play the partisan card, blasting both Democrats and Republicans for the troubles they've caused.

The portion quoted below is from the 1995 version.

Politicians, as I have always said, are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Everything on the Republican contract ( Newt Gingrich's Contract With America – ed.) is a problem created by Congress.

Too much bureaucracy? Blame Congress. Too many rules? Blame Congress.

Out-of-control bureaucracy? Congress authorizes everything bureaucracies do. Americans dying in Third World ratholes on stupid UN missions? Congress allows it. The annual deficits? Congress votes for them. The $4 trillion debt (now $14 trillion -ed.)? Congress created it.

To put it into perspective just remember that 100 percent of the power of the federal government comes from the U.S Constitution. If it's not in the Constitution, it's not authorized.

Though a little dated, the points Reese brings up are just as valid today as they were 16 years ago.

As the saying goes, Read The Whole Thing.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Clock Winds Down

As the clock ticks onwards towards midnight, Congress is still stalemated, with the possibility of a partial government shutdown looming.

The GOP wants to extend the continuing resolution that has funded government operations for the past 6 months for another week, but only if they can squeeze in $60 billion in spending cuts, which is about 1.6% of the total budget and 3.75% of this fiscal year's deficit.

But the Democrats want none of it. They want everything to continue as is. In fact, they have already stated the won't support cuts of any kind. That pompous ass Harry Reid has labeled the cuts as 'draconian', as if that piddling amount of money would be stealing the food out of the mouths of children and dumping the sick out of the hospitals and into the middle of the street. Harry Reid and his cohorts have pissed away over $4 trillion the government doesn't have over the past four years and he's complaining about cutting back spending by less than 2 percent?

I don't know about you, but my family and I have had to cut our budget by over 15% over the past 2 years, and while it hasn't been fun, we're surviving quite nicely, thank you. Is Harry and the rest of the Democrats saying it isn't possible to trim less than 2% from such a bloated budget? If so, then perhaps they should be fired.

Is it because he and the rest of the spendthrift Congresscritters in both parties have been in Washington far too long and have lost touch with reality? It's appearing that may indeed be the case.

When your elected representatives stop representing you and start representing a tax and spend-spend-spend ideology, it's time for them to be replaced with people who still remember what it's like out here in the real world.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fleeing The Blue States...In Droves

With Detroit being such a deep blue economic and political basket case, is it any wonder black families are leaving it and a number of other cities in blue states in droves in search of work and a better life?

Not to me.

Just like their white brethren before them, they realize they have everything to lose and nothing to gain by remaining in cities and states that are hostile to business, either from liberal Democrat policies or job-killing union demands. They know they've been sold a bill of goods and want nothing more to do with the glad-handing politicians and those supporting them, so they're voting with their feet.

More power to them.

Let's hope they've learned the most important lesson from this debacle: Government (and the unions) aren't the answer. They're the problem.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yoga For Yankees

In case those of you out there think we Yankees aren't up to speed on all the new-fangled exercise fads, I'm here to tell you you're wrong. And to prove it, here's Fred Marple to give you a little preview of Yoga for Yankees.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Hampshire Legislature "Pulls A Wisconsin"

After passage of an amendment to a pending budget bill that strips public sector unions in New Hampshire of so-called “evergreen” rights, meaning state and local municipal workers would become employees-at-will should their labor contracts expire without renewal. This means they could be fired or have their pay or benefits reduced should their labor contracts expire before new contracts are ratified.

I first heard of this move when I received a phone call last night just past 7PM - a robo-call from the SEA (State Employees Association), the state worker's union. (My wife works for the state and is, therefore, a union member.)

If I recall the monologue correctly, the voice on the other end (I believe it was the union president) stated the legislature had “pulled a Wisconsin”, referring to Wisconsin's removal of collective bargaining rights for pensions and benefits from most of the state and local workers unions. The caller went on to exhort the SEA members to protest the move, something perfectly within their rights to do.

On the other hand, I have the right to not give them any more of my hard earned dollars than I absolutely have to, particularly if those dollars are funding both benefits and pension packages that are far above my own. I haven't received the kind of pay raises or increase in benefits the state workers have, nor do I expect to. I am and have been an employee-at-will for a long time and frankly I prefer it over the 20 soul-deadening years I spent in a union shop.

Welcome to the real world.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Anti-Nuclear Power Hysteria Cranks Start Up Again In US

It didn't take long for the anti-nuclear power hysteria to start up here in the US after the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility came to light.

It seems shortly after the first report of trouble, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) called for a moratorium on the permitting or building of any new nuclear plants in the US. Never mind that the nuclear plants in Japan are 40 years old. Never mind that they're of a Generation II design no one builds any more. Never mind that any new plants planned in the US are Generation III or IV plants, neither of which require the active cooling measures of Generation I or II plants. (The new reactors are convection cooled, meaning the heat of the reactors causes the cooling liquid to flow. No pumps are required.)

Other anti-nuclear organizations jumped on the bandwagon in an effort to stifle any further construction of nuclear plants. Many of these same groups also have a tendency to call for “green” power, but when such green alternative energy systems are proposed, they protest against them, too. And even if they are built, they'll then protest the power lines needed to carry that green power to the people who need it. It's a no-win situation with them.

They need to get a life.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Another Victim Of 'Verizonitis'?

First, FairPoint Communications bought out Verizon's wireline operations in northern New England (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont). Then FairPoint ended up filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a little over a year later when it started hemorrhaging customers as its costs and rates rose, customer service quality dropped, and its income dropped with it.

Next, Frontier Communications buys out Verizon's wireline operations in the rural areas of a number of states, despite warnings it was probably getting in over its head, just as happened with FairPoint.

Now Frontier is cutting services, this time in Oregon as it shuts down the FiOS TV franchises it bought from Verizon. Frontier has been losing money on the operation because the operating costs were higher than they were led to believe. (Big surprise there...NOT.) And for those services they still offer through FiOS (Internet and VoIP), Frontier will now charge a $500 installation fee on top of the 46% rate increase it just laid upon its customers in Oregon at the first of the year.

Gee, this all sounds familiar, doesn't it?

I wonder how long it will be before Frontier ends up filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, just as FairPoint did?

I'll go out on a limb and say it will be before this time next year.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Will New Hampshire Become A Constitutional Carry State?

My home state of New Hampshire has pretty liberal gun laws, where gun control is defined as hitting your target. Law abiding citizens can carry their sidearms openly without the need for a permit. To carry a concealed weapon requires a CCW permit. But that may change soon as two bills are making their way through the New Hampshire legislature that will remove the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. While both bills address concealed carry, only one stands a chance of making it through committee and out onto the House floor.

Republican leaders are urging House members to back House Bill 330. It would allow constitutional carry and extend gun-carrying rights to vehicles. But it specifically keeps guns out of courtrooms and courthouses.

Sunapee Police Chief David Cahill, president of the New Hampshire Police Chiefs Association, said his organization does not have a firm stand against constitutional carry. But he sees a benefit to concealed-weapons permits, and he has concerns about loaded weapons in vehicles.

Should HB330 become law, New Hampshire will become the fifth state that would allow what is called “constitutional carry”, meaning no CCW permit is required. The other four states allowing constitutional carry are Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Is it possible New Hampshire might get a twofer this year? Between the bill to remove the requirement for a CCW permit and another to make the state the only Right-To-Work state in the Northeast, the Granite State could be sitting pretty.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Listening to the local and national media, yet another “monster” snow storm is about to hammer the Northeast.

So what.

They're acting as if this has never happened before, as if it's something new no one here has ever experienced. (It might be if this were happening in July.) But we've had plenty of snowstorms equal to to or even greater than this one, and not all that long ago.

Perhaps we should clue the media in on this one: It's winter. It snows in winter. And up here in New England it snows a lot in the winter.

One thing I will admit is unusual for this coming storm – our operations manager decided our facility will be closed tomorrow (Wednesday) due to the heavy snowfall expected here. That's never happened before.

We've been closed because of the indirect effect of inclement weather (power was out due to a widespread ice storm that knocked out power to over 400,000 in New Hampshire alone) and because of a local power outage that we were told would last most of the day. But we've never been closed because of a snowstorm.

Not that being closed will absolve me of working. I still have a conference call and a web seminar tomorrow. At least I can do both in my pajamas!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Really Needed That Super Snowblower Today

It seems yesterday's post was timely as we experienced yet another snowfall last night. Not that we had all that much snow – about 3 inches – but the aftermath meant a lot of extra work the Official Weekend Pundit Snowblower couldn't handle.

After this morning's clean-up by the road crews in our town, the Department of Public Works must have decided it was time to push back the snow banks lining our roads. That in and of itself isn't a problem. But when they do that and it dumps 12 inches of mixed snow and ice along 30 feet of our driveway it becomes a problem. My problem.

When the plows inevitably pass by and leave a snow bank at the end of the driveway some people go ballistic. Not me. I always expect it. But when I got home from work late this afternoon and saw my driveway was absolutely impassable it pissed me off.

The Manse is located on a hillside, down hill from our road. Because of the steep slope of the hillside the driveway approaches the road from a shallow angle, meaning it almost parallels the road above it. When the plow crew pushed back the snowbank today it dumped all of the mixed snow and chunks of ice down the hill and filled our driveway. The snowbank they left at the end of our driveway was almost 3 feet high and the same mix of snow and large chunks of ice. There was no way the trusty F150 was going to be able to punch through it and make its way down the driveway and to the garage, four wheel drive or not.

The F150 got parked at the top of the driveway and I made it to down to the garage, got the snowblower and shovels out, and started cleaning up the mess. A little over three hours later and I was done. (It usually takes an hour to clear the driveway and the parking area around in front of and to one side of the garage.) Much of the snow and ice had to be broken up moved by shovel as the snowblower was incapable of chewing through the mix without breaking the sheer pins on the auger. (The auger still got pretty beat up, not that it was in all that great shape to begin with.)

In the six years we've resided at The Manse, this is the first time I've had to deal with this problem. I'm gonna make darned sure it's the last.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The 800-Pound Gorilla

I've listened to some of the talking heads over the past couple of days and more than a few have predicted a strong economic recovery during 2011. But there's still the 800-pound gorilla they're all ignoring: the housing market.

With a large shadow inventory waiting in the wings, housing prices aren't likely to be heading up any time soon. Banks are holding on to a huge inventory of foreclosed homes, hoping to dispose of them in a manner that will allow them to recoup some of their losses. But if they were to put all of them on the market over the next year the already fragile housing market would collapse and many people whose homes are still 'right-side up' would end up being upside down, meaning their homes would now be worth less than the unpaid principal of their mortgages. That in turn might encourage more homeowners with upside down mortgages walk away from them, leaving the banks or other mortgage holders in the lurch.

I've been checking the real estate listings here in central New Hampshire and one thing that stands out is the tumble in prices. (Both Deb and I like to look through the monthly/quarterly real estate slicks the various realty groups make available at the local supermarkets and banks.) Homes that had listed for $250K to $300K are now on the market for between $190K to $240K. Even some of the high-end homes on Lake Winnipesaukee listed in the millions have dropped the asking prices by up to 30%! (One property with which I am familiar was originally listed for $301,000 last year. It just recently sold for $69,000.)

The new lower prices can be seen as a long overdue correction. The housing bubble drove prices up at well above the rate of inflation for over 6 years. Maybe the most recent listings are showing a return to sanity and a more realistic value of the properties up for sale.

It is unfortunate for some of those selling their properties because unless they have owned them since before the bubble they are likely to lose money on the sale.

Unless the economic pundits take this 800-pound gorilla seriously, their predictions for the economic recovery this year can't be taken seriously either.