Monday, November 29, 2010

Black Friday/Education/Hannaford's/Smokers/Korea/Steve Spataro

I did what most do not do and purchased several “special door busters“ online before the rush. Even got free shipping. Also it is not the busiest shopping day of the year as that honor goes to the Saturday before Christmas. One site actually tracks selected promotion items and shows that last year an astounding 80% were on sale for less than the “special price“ within two weeks. .

I was on a recent run with a certain Pulitzer possibility columnist who also happens to have the 2,987th best blog in Middleboro and we discussed education. I got into my usual pontification of the value of vocational education which I consider an absolute gem in the fast deteriorating educational structure. I have one son who went to BP and loved it. The program opened a gateway for him to get into electrical work and that provided him with an employment opportunity until he completed fight training. At one time many, many years ago I ran for the Middleboro position on the BP School Committee and in a field of five managed to finish second. However I did beat out blanks.

I use to spend some time at BP with my son taking his courses and operating a ferry service for him for jobs and after school athletics. Very impressed by the various programs in structure, professionalism of staff, curriculum and expectations. There is usually a waiting list to get in so discipline is not an issue. Screw up you are gone. Where I use to teach - Attleboro - the Vocational School is part of the high school and I believe only one other community has that set up. Unfortunately many of the students I had could not attend Vo-Tech classes due to significant behavioral issues. Those that did managed to get a nice start in life with some decent training and good paying jobs.

There was and continues to be an impression by some that Vo-Tech is a place for academic under achievers and some of the early MCAS results may have supported that hypothesize. But those scores have improved considerably and many of the Vo-Tech students attend college rather than go into the work force. A significant number in Attleboro attended the usual mix of schools for more advanced technical schools to highly advanced schools like Wentworth and the engineering and architectural schools at Northeastern and Boston University along with community colleges. In my opinion much of that educational stigma is just not valid.

Another option in the Vo-Tech spectrum is the Bristol County Agricultural High School in Dartmouth. Bristol Aggie as it is called offers Vo-Tech training in the area that its name references. I know Middleboro has some students that attend and I know through my past experiences in 4H that the school is exceptional Programs offered are in a variety of areas from large animal science to natural resource management.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise to us that we are providing progressively less support for our students.” That was a quote from School Committee member Paul Hilton in an article in The Gazette regarding floundering MCAS scores and continuing budget short falls anticipated with further cuts in state aid. Naturally all those problems will be rectified by tossing a boat load of money into the school system. The article seemed to be the first shot in another attempt at a prop 2 and ½ override and follows of the heals of a snippy and disgruntled letter a few weeks ago by another SC member.

Hannaford’s had an interesting advertisement in The Brockton Enterprise showing their prices were lower than those of S & S and Shaw’s. No big surprise to those of us who are regular shoppers but what they didn’t mention was the dirty little secret of supermarket chains - zone pricing. Price in one market in the chain may not be the same in another market in the chain. Different zones have different fliers. I first noticed this many years ago when I would shop at stores in Quincy and the same specials and prices were different than those in our area. This was pre internet days so I simply had a talk with a manager who explained the various factors that form the basis for zone pricing of which the most important is competition. I was also told that certain areas that are less than economic powerhouses will generally have higher prices mostly as a result of pilferage - employee and customers and lack of foot traffic (customers). This is one of the primary reasons why major stores just don’t wish to locate in poor neighborhoods. Racism is usually tossed when pressure is exerted to have a store locate or to stay and the counter argument will be we are not in business to lose money.

The AP has a story on 11/22 explaining why the stock markets went down over 1%. The reason was mounting debt issues in Europe and especially Ireland coupled with tension in Korea. On Wednesday the markets go up again over one percent and the AP story has Europe debt crisis and tensions in Korea ease and world markets go up. On Friday the markets go down almost a percent and the story headlines are world markets flounder on European debt issues and tensions in Korea. No comment necessary.

Anna Jacques (rhymes with flakes) Hospital in Newburyport now does not hire smokers. First shunted to the loading docks in sub freezing weather and now stamped do not hire. As one of the first members of GASP (Group Against Smoking Pollution) I often wondered if our initial foot in the door legislation would eventually have unforeseen consequences. GASP first signification project was to ban smoking in supermarkets. Seemed reasonable enough. This was accomplished by making the smoking issue one of public health and not - unlike with AIDS - a political issue. Today smokers are ostracized to the fringes where they can enjoy their detrimental habit as they please but banning employment and requiring urine tests to insure they are not lighting up on the sly?

Most smokers that I know respect the air space of the non smokers and most smokers have attempted to quit numerous times. Almost like losing weight and gaining it back on and losing it again. A real merry-go-round. The health consequences of smoking are well documented so this is not an issue of conflicting data. No global warming debate with this puppy. But sooner or later extremist take over and you see this now as a classic example with Anna Jacques Hospital.

President WOW (Walk On Water) managed to get an elbow in the chops and that required twelve stitches. This is the end result of a pick up basketball game and he managed to get the errant elbow. As a former gym rat who use to play some heavy duty B-Ball up to my mid 50s I can fully understand. Seen that many, many times. In all my years I never managed to get one stitch from basketball - of course I had a fracture cheek bone thanks to an errant elbow for a teammate and have also managed to break every finger several times - but no stitches! I’m sure WOW - a true gym rat - has many similar scars.

I may be a New York Football Giants (via New Jersey) fan but I hate the Jets infinitely more than I dislike the local team whose name escapes me. I also dislike Dallas and the Colts infinitely more than the local team so I wish them well in what amounts to a show down on Monday Night Football.

I watched some college football this week and noticed a significant number of coaches had state troopers escorting them. My first response is a simple why and the second is it a paid detail?

Now North and South Korea are in a rocket launching spat. The ultimate punk is Kim Jong II who stands to inherit daddy’s little armed to the teeth nation. Kim Jong appears to be attempting to show pops and the generals he has a pair by whacking an island of about 1,500 innocent bystanders with his latest weaponry. You have one side with a hot economy and another side with plenty of military toys and little to eat - unless you are the twin porkers named Jong. I just love the way these various characters dress up in their military uniforms with all those phony medals. As far as I can determine there is absolutely nothing in this little foray that is in the “What’s in it for us?” category. We still - along with the U.N. - are suppose to have some type of commitment to help defend the South which is why we have a presence. I have seen some video’s of the North and their allegiance to their Fuehrer and it goes beyond bizarre.

My wife - The Lovely Cynthia - and I will be heading to Puerto Rico for a few days. This has become an annual event and I have finally convinced her to go somewhere on the island besides San Juan. As a member of the famed “Cheap Bastards Club” I prefer PR over other islands in the area just based on cost. Really a bargain - even the airfare. The car rentals are exceptionally cheap thanks to few fees and taxes. My $92 rental for five days ends up having only $13 in taxes and fees. In many cities it is close to 50%.

A special thank you for BOS member Steve Spataro for helping distribute candy for the Middleborough Historical Association at the annual Christmas Parade. Steve also had to put up with my usual banter.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A TSA Thanksgiving

Egyptian Air Flight 990. Investigators claim pilot did a suicide crash. 217 dead.

SilkAir Flight 185. Possible suicide pilot. 104 dead.

Private pilot crashes his small aircraft into IRS building.

Massachusetts - Snow Airport having an illegal training other Illegals on small palne operation.

This is just how freaking stupid this whole TSA joke is. What does it take to load up a Cessna 150 and fly at a few hundred feet right into Fortress Logan and take out a fully loaded heavy right on the tarmac? Or just flying the damn thing into that gas tank in Dorchester? I’m sure the geniuses that run our security are aware of this or maybe not? I’ll probably get a knock on my door and a pat down. Just look above at that issue at Snow. This was a fairly harmless situation since they were Brazilians attempting to get a pilots license that is gold back home. But what if they were not? Have they got cells planning crap like that? Does it take much for a terrorist network to spend the time and effort to get someone trained low end?

Israel has long had the tightest airport and airline security in the world and they manage it without strip downs, pat downs and nuking the passengers. Amazing! Lot of personal interviews with some profiling and common sense.

I can’t imagine why the TSA mall cops will not use some common sense. They are suppose to do their own version of profiling but some of those chosen for intensive personal attention just make one wonder.

Will perv’s now focus on getting employment at the TSA? Some airports have actually decided to use private companies and do not use the TSA. Seventeen at last count.

Do we give up our rights when we buy an airline ticket? Where is the line drawn? IMHO virtually every pat-down would constitute sexual assault in the real world. Yeah….I am really ticked off by the whole mess and especially being laughed at by terrorists.

The Ware Report found rampant corruption on Beacon Hill. Now that was a real shocker! I never suspected. Wonder why the report was released AFTER the election. Anyways, the Governor is in avoidance mode and the report simply shows what most of are already aware of….it’s not what you know but who you know and contributed to that gets you on the fast track for a job in the Probation Department.

Of significant mention in the Ware Report was our Senator Marc Pacheco (D-Payoff). Turns out he allegedly was involved in this mess by requesting one of “his guys” get a plum probation job which - a true miracle - happened. Then “His guy” is requested by the Senator to seek contributions to the Pacheco slush fund. Pacheco has denied all. Marc…do you know Chuck Turner? The report questioned the credibility of the Senator.

Steve Grossman won an election and is already hiring a defeated Democrat for his office staff. The payroll patronage is on to build up that old monthly kiss (pension).

Governor “Almost One And Out” Patrick is still on the kick for tuition breaks for illegal immigrants. Amazing.

Middlesex County Sheriff James DiPaola won his election and was on tap to collect a salary of 123K in addition to a newly minted pension of $98,500. Why? A state law exists that allows one to collect a pension if they are elected to a paying office. DiPaola had a “good conscious” moment and resigned.

Another investigation of insider trading on Wall Street. Certainly hope Martha Stewart isn’t involved.

How can someone write a story in the Peirce Trust that questions the methods of selecting beneficiaries by just a cursory review of Town Reports? You have the trustees available so interview them to get an idea of how the fund is managed, invested and what criteria they use to select where the money goes. Shoddy research is an understatement.

The stock market took some hits in the last week or so thanks to ongoing debt issues in Ireland. But when you look at Ireland it ranks 57th in world GDP - just behind Finland and ahead of Morocco. And this causes billions in losses? The logic is it is symptomatic to possible failures in other countries. Now Ireland has been handed a 100B bailout. This was the hot economy just a few years ago and now it is another European Economic Union welfare handout. How quick it can fall apart for a business or country.

I love the upsale I and others get at “Quick Lube” type places. I was getting my usual simple oil change when customer after customer was called into the shop to be given varying degrees of bad news regarding their vehicle. Then came my turn. I was showed the transmission leak I had that was barely noticeable so I said “That looks serious! I’d suggest you get it done right now since I don’t want any further issues” I got the no problem and the $200 estimate for a flush, seal and filter change so I came up with my own retort: “Oh…a charge? I had that done by you folks two weeks ago and less than a thousand miles ago. I requested it. Filter, seal and fluid change. Looks like you’ll have to see what you screwed up.” About 15 minutes goes by and out comes the service manager again: “I checked your records and you are correct. This is nothing more than residual leakage.” Sure. Told them I’ll watch it for the next 12,000 miles just in case.

Last year my daughter had here car fail inspection at a dealership in Raynham. Why? The seat belt in the real was frayed. I looked at it and she had to have what was frayed pointed out to me. This seemed like total BS since they wanted $300 to replace it. I took it to a station here in Middleboro that we generally do business with and they laughed at it. Total BS. Just an attempt by a dealership that is suppose to have a great reputation just trying to make a sale.

Patriots caught a break with Peyton Manning making an over throw on a pass.

Red Sox have been discussing the possibly of getting Adrian Gonzales from the Padres. Gonzales will be a free agent after 2011 so if a trade is made I would hope they would have a contract in place but the deal makes little sense to me. For the money Gonzales would require the Sox could resign both Beltre and Victor Martinez and not part with the players necessary to trade to get Gonzales.

A by law will now have to be written regarding the CPA and this will be interesting to see who ends up getting the power to select committee members.

An article appeared over the weekend that questioned giving more money to teachers with advanced degrees. Research claims that the increased education is not reflected in increase performance. No surprise to me. I’ve seen folks without a degree in 4H and scouts run classes that were great. The article pointed out the state of Washington where the added expenses total about 300M a year. This does not even address the added pension costs since pension is based on income and education increases income.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sensible Alternative To BB Post

Now that the election is over a few trial balloons have surfaced in Massachusetts about addressing the revenue issue. Revenue issue is a kind way of saying raising taxes and is like calling a used car a pre-owned car. The possibility of tinkering with the income tax and increasing the gasoline tax are starting to read their collectively ugly heads. When you vote to maintain a sales tax “For the children” the interpretation is simply and that is that the folks will quite naturally be accommodating to other tax increases or fee increases. According to the Taxpayer Foundation Massachusetts has the largest per capita debt of any state with fellow traveler California close behind. Two states that go lock step with the demands of public service unions.

I really enjoyed George Bush (R- Hanging Chad) attempt to rewrite history on an interview regarding his failed presidency. Dubya certainly matched the inane attempts of Jimmy Carter and his revisionist rant of a few months ago. I’m sure both probably consider Warren G. Harding as a personal favorite. I can’t wait down the road for Obama attempting to make sense out of the train wreck he helped create.

The CPA is now in the books as far as Middleboro is concerned and I hope the local Historical Association will be able to grab some of the funding. The conditions of the buildings had reached a point where a decision was going to have to be made on not restoration and repair but which one to save while leaving the remains for the wood pile. Fortunately the Association came into a generous gift which has allowed renovations to take place that will at least preserve the site. Now CPA funds may allow the Association to address other critical issues on the property.

Republic of South Korea had full page spreads in newspapers across the United States on 11/11 thanking the United States and those of the United Nations that helped secure their freedom.

Governor “Almost One and Out” Patrick pledged a billion bucks to Bio and pharma to create jobs and last week two bio firms announced layoffs. Another stimulus type bill that results in a taxpayer bill.

A nasty report surfaced from the government that outlines drastic steps that must be taken to address the debt issue. Naturally the mention of increase in taxes and reduction in benefits was front and center. Good luck with that.

One of the key components in the above was structural changes to that great Ponzi scheme known as Social Security. Reduction in benefits, increase in retirement age and further cuts to Medicare were prominently mention. Why is it that those who actually contribute must take the brunt of government failures? Seems like the last group to have anything slashed is the entitlement crowd especially illegals.

The government with their enforcement arm - the IRS - has also proposed an elimination in the home mortgage deduction. This is not new as the tax code has had countless little items dropped over the years and the cumulative impact has been to have more revenue enhancement.

The increase in retirement age and pension reductions has hit Europe hard as one nation after another has to deal with rising costs and lack of funds. The solution advocated is an increase in the retirement age and that has been met with riots that have shut down some countries particularly France. Imagine what the war torn streets of Paris would be like if they proposed an increase from age 60 to 70 for retirement rather than 62.

Mayor Mumbles in Boston is taking on the unions. Amazing! In Massachusetts it is especially evident the power the police, fire and teachers unions wield and how a very, very large portion of our legislature seems to pay heed to them more than the average Joe and Jane. Mumbles is attempting to get some relief on health care which costs Boston 300M a year. The city currently pays 82% and there are options such as the state run program that could provide cost relief. Mumbles is actually attempting a home rule petition to circumvent the unions. Good luck, Mumbles.

The clear consistency in the government budget is excessive pension and health benefits that certainly put to shame most in the dreaded private sector. The matching contribution in the dreaded private sector is about as rare as a cognizant column from BB and most employees have to make do with what they can cobble together with a retirement plan of their own. In my own days in the DPS the health care bill was usually a contributory 50/50 split and in virtually all areas of the public sector it is in the 80/20 range or higher with the taxpayer footing the greater portion of the bill. Middleboro is no exception.

The Cabot Club has folded. This is a 100+ years old civic organization that had made significant contributions to the quality of life in Middleboro and the dwindling membership finally forced the situation and they are in the process of dissolving. I do see a lack of involvement in certain organizations I was active in such as scouts and 4H.

Nice letter by Wally in The Gazette.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Assorted Blather

On November 4th my portfolio finally exceeded the levels it was at prior to the Ironic that it happened when the Republicans had a political blowout at the expense of the Democrats.

I started to watch more TV news prior to the election and for post election summaries. I found Fox to be - by far - the most balanced and informative. I also watched Beck expecting the reincarnate of Satan but found him more like Joe Pyne. Theatrical and entertaining.

Electronic media outlets have now dropped any pretense of impartiality.

What I found interesting is how much the Republicans gained in state legislatures and governorships across the country. I saw one of those wonderful maps and the country is about 90% red.

Amazing how the state auditor race turned out. A candidate that even the Globe endorsed and virtually all newspapers across the state endorsed. Connaughton’s credentials far exceeded that of Bump and just showed the power of that just vote D in state elections. Bump replaces a career hack in DeNucci (D - Punch Drunk).

For some reason the Red Sox exercised their option on the contract of David Ortiz and based on DH market value vastly over paid.

It’s OK to “March around downtown” with pictures of Obama morphed into Hitler thanks to that pesky little thing called The First Amendment, Bumpkin. Same thing that allowed you to make statements about them in the first place.

The guess the “Cap & Trade” is now officially dead?

I’d love to see Mitch Daniels give it a go for President in 2012. I’d also like to see the Democrats run Jim Webb over the failed Chicago hack. Maybe a ticket with both of them? Nice third party to separate us from the House Of Medici (Dem & Repub) that control the process.

John Kerry (D-Minnow) has reportedly still not paid his tax on his yacht. Maybe we should take a collection? Buy more ketchup?

Looking at the new “Mistah Speakah” I know what happened to all those old bottles of “Man Tan.” We go from a pumped up Botox queen to someone who spends a good portion of his life in a tanning booth. Thankfully I am naturally beautiful and don’t need any artificial enhancements.

Jan Brewer (R- Jingoist) won her return to the governor’s seat in Arizona. Her hard line immigration stance actually was successful.

I wonder how much money will be siphoned off of CPA to “protect” buildings that need a wrecking ball and not refurbishment? About half of downtown Middleboro could use some serious bulldozer work. At least that new theater shows some architectural class. Nice start.

Sooner or later a Randy Moss will meltdown. He did it in college, on his first trip to Minnesota, with the Raiders, the Patriots and not on his second visit to Minnesota. Has a pattern been established? Now this immensely talented and occasionally disinterested and lazy performer has surfaced in Titan land. This is the team whose owner - Bud Adams - gave the “double bird” to Buffalo fans and he is actually the class of the organization.

The “Failed Sports Reporter” - Keith Olbermann got suspended from the dismal performing MSNBC over corporate ethics violation of giving donations to political campaigns. The way he gets destroyed in the ratings by Fox it will be no great loss. Typical moonbat hypocrite.

Suo had an interesting post on the lack or demise of heavy manufacturing in this country. I still see some of the shells of former operations even on the South Shore. is a site that dedicates itself to American made products.

The abysmal “Leader of The Free World” has decided to skip town in wake or is that before the wake that happened on Tuesday. These trips are planned well ahead and I figure his pollsters gave him the numbers and WOW figured it would be a good time to vacate the USA.

The Herald is ripping into Blarney Frank - again - this time on his connection to a hedge fund. Any financial institution that got any support from the government will have that connection linked to Blarney by The Herald no matter how tenuous the connection.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Winners (W) and Losers (L).

The Tea Party (W) - The attempts by the loony left to demonize this group only reinforced they must be on to something. Voter anger? Well….they managed to take full advantage of it.

The left (L) - they actually thought 2008 was a mandate! It was all about Bush and now it is all about Obama.

Media (L) - No more campaign dollars for endless ads. Here comes the pink slips.

George Bush (W)- Tossed out along with his party just two years ago. What an embarrassment! Now? Democrats and Obama screwed up even more.

The Economy (W)- Banks and businesses have a few trillion in cash lying around waiting for some good news. That happened on Tuesday.

Racial politics (W)- A Black guy can screw up as well as a White guy. Racial parity has reached the Presidency. Now get Hillary in there.

Hope & Change (L) - Little hope and no change.

Obamacare (L) - No matter how good something may be when the government tells you by shoving it down your throat you see the reaction. Americans are an obstinate bunch.

Excessive Regulation (L) - The campaign theme of over regulation was ingrained in the Republican babble. It is true and it worked.

PAC Money (W) - Doesn’t make any difference if it is from the left or right there is a bundle of it. Then comes the Lobbyist.

Massachusetts Republican Party (W) - Finally actually challenged in some races. Get some experience and some names on the ballot. Maybe that one party state tag may disappear?

Massachusetts Democratic Party (L) - Business as usual may be out the door.

Massachusetts Congressional Delegation (L) - We’ll go from ten to nine in a few years. Wonder why state loses out?

Obama (L) - This lightweight has made Jimmy Carter look like a combination Washington, Lincoln and FDR. Remember when he was called a liar in Congress? How very, very accurate.

Rhode Island (W) - Goodbye to Patches Kennedy can only be a plus.

Bush Tax Cuts (W) - This will stay with us.

Nancy Pelosi (L) - This one makes some of the whack jobs the Republicans ran actually seem like statesmen. She’ll be back - Botox and all.

Republican Party (W-L) - Now that you are the dog that chased the car and caught it - what do you do?

Democratic Party (L-W) - You get hammered and still have a lost soul in the White House but at least you have someone to blame - the Republicans! What goes around comes around.

Gridlock (W) - It will only get worse but is that a bad thing? The less they accomplish the better off we are.

Bogofree (W) - A whole new round of trashing to begin in January. Just change the names in those old posts.

New Hampshire (W) - More business for those of us willing to travel. If I’m going north I “stock up” on the return trip.

CPA (W-L) - How do I weasel out of paying? Now that battle starts among those wishing to divvy up the funds.

Pollsters (W) - Very, very accurate.

Sales Tax (W) - 3% to 5% to 6.25% - do you notice a trend? Yep….complain about the state government and vote them back in with money to screw around with. This is a mandate for more taxes.