Sunday, September 28, 2008


After several weeks of not going, I walked down to the brook yesterday and was surprised to see a windfall.

Trees Down at the Brook

Lightning struck a different, equally sized white pine last summer and now this.

I'm trying to figure out how to harvest the windfall.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Continuing Direct Welfare

Perhaps I repeat, but I see a train wreck approaching. So I'll tell the tale again, winding through history and ending with presidential politics.

The first textile mills in the United States were in New Ipswich and downriver in Greenville.


In the late 1800s, Greenville boomed and had enough economic clout that a small portion of Mason was carved out and Greenville became its own town. Neighborhoods with urban density sprung up to house the mill workers.

The water power was perfect for the mills. Business and life was good.



The citizens decided that the railway should not pass through the town and was diverted to Fitchburg. Fitchburg boomed. Greenville declined.

Time marched onward. The dense population in Greenville found fewer jobs in the mills so the citizens traveled out of town for work. Less money flowed in Greenville.

The New Hampshire property tax system penalized Greenville because there simply was not enough land to tax. Tax rates increased.

Due to the urban population density, state and federal law dictated that Greenville provide city services such as sewage and water to all its residents. Costs soared. Taxes increased.

Time marched onwards and the mills went dormant so the economic basis withered away. A food processing mill started. Some other businesses appeared, but all the money was largely outside of the diminutive town borders.

Greenville joined Mason and New Ipswich to form a regional school system named Mascenic. Since property taxes fuel the state and local coffers, the tax rate in Greenville was higher than New Ipswich and Mason. There simply isn't enough land.

I own property in New Ipswich and the majority of my taxes pay for the Mascenic school system. My taxes subsidize Greenville since the town is a depressed town. What does this mean? Without the Greenville subsidy, my tax rate would be a few points, a few hundred dollars less annually.

I know the teachers, curriculum, administration, and the children at Mascenic. I interact with the parents of the elementary and middle-school aged children through the local soccer program. In 1989, I graduated as valedictorian from Mascenic.

The Greenville subsidy of a few hundred dollars each year only makes sense.

Annually, I inspect the Mascenic budget report so I know that my brother-in-law who teaches at Mascenic is accurate when he says, 'Mascenic may not offer a world class education, but everything is solid. And the community is surely getting a bargain.'

Mascenic routinely rates towards the bottom in New Hampshire in per student-capita spending.

My direct subsidy helps the community that I love. This is, in my opinion, the perfect welfare system.

This relates to my deep fear on a national level. I am deathly afraid that if McCain-Palin loses, the democratic regime will pervert this perfect system.

They will take more of my money in Federal taxes and attempt to subsidize communities in equal need throughout the country and world.

But the system is not perfect on a national bureaucratic scale, as it is on my local level. The possibility for corruption and waste is vast. Who has the energy and calling to inspect money flowing to far-away places?

The less money that I have, sent into a far away, un-inspectable destination, means the less property that I can own locally. And my local subsidy dries up.

The problem doesn't go away, but perhaps the citizens of Greenville will. Or if they stay, I and like-minded people will need to solve the subsidy problem despite the federal government.

I desperately hope that McCain-Palin wins the upcoming election.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

*giggle* Wave! *giggle*

The morning air is crisp now and I drive over one of a never ending string of hills on my way to work.

I grimace because over the hilltop, I see yellow.

It's a school bus and I'm first in line behind them.

The angle of the sun illuminates the parents and their small children who look both ways and the children furtively cross the street to the bus.

The older kids in the back of the bus are rowdy.

Soon I catch their attention and a pack of kids stare at me wide-eyed.

A girl kneels on the last seat and impulsively waves.

I grin and my fingers on the steering wheel fan into a wave.

Inside the bus, I see an eruption of waving as my movement breaks their boredom!

I smile at the enthusiastic kids waving and waving at me.

I open my fingers again to wave as I shift slowly through the gears as I travel at the pace of the bus.

I smile and they all smile back.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Time and Consumables

Briefly, I have to dump a recurring thought here.

I walk into the kitchenette, dispense a cup of water into a paper cup, drink, and toss the paper cup into the trash.

How very American!

However, oftentimes, I take a little mental time travel related to our consumable lifestyle.

Imagine for a moment, that the cup is made of paper, the paper was made of a tree, the tree was in a forest for decades before it was harvested.

So with a flick of the wrist, I fulfilled the purpose of all that time and energy. Water to lips. Drink. Discard. Move on.

Would we be better off if we ease ourselves away from such a consumable lifestyle?

I know that I should, but only intermittently do I carry a ceramic mug to drink water. And I should extend this to using a metal spoon that I wash after I eat oatmeal at work.

The silver lining to the upturn of fuel prices is that we all have to think more and more about this and not simply take a mental time travel from time to time as an intellectual exercise.

Imagine how much more efficient our world would be if we each make a small effort in this area.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Where did the water go, eh?

'So where do the drains on the pool deck go?' Tristan asks as we sit alongside the pool in a Days Inn in Sudbury, Canada.

'There's a surge tank below the deck with a pump in it. The water drains into the surge tank and the pump replenishes the water into the pool.'

Tristan nods.

'So if 30 fat guys jump into the pool, the water goes into the surge tank until they get out. This way the water level remains the same.'

Our conversation drifts off and four college-age couples giggle and mill around the changing rooms and sauna.

I turn to Tristan, 'You going to swim?'

'No, it's too cold.'

I suspect that he's concealing a smile.

'Cannonball.' I say smiling at him, looking from him to the water in the small kidney bean shaped pool.

He frowns his dissent.

A college-age girl peeks into the men's changing room to yell at a boy in the shower. She lets the door slam and heads to the sauna.

'Oh, c'mon. Cannonball!' I push Tristan harder. He's a big boy. A cannonball would be funny!

He frowns again.

The men's dressing door room opens and a shaggy, blond college age kid emerges and mills around the pool deck.

'C'mon. Cannonball. Or are you waiting for an audience?'


I smirk at him.

He jumps up and runs toward the pool, jumping, rotating, and plunging his large body into the water.


A column of water shoots up and sprays the ceiling. Waves roll over the pool edge onto the deck.

I start laughing and Tristan bobs up for air, laughing.

The shaggy, blond Canadian boy laughs too and ask simply, 'Where did the water go, eh?'

Tristan pulls himself out of the water onto the flooded deck, water swirling into the surge tank drains.

We're laughing.

The sauna door opens and a girl comes out to ask what happened. The shaggy blond boy talks quietly to her and I nudge Tristan.

'You got an audience, do it again!'

Four steps, he launches toward the pool, rotates perfectly again.


The water sprays the ceiling again in front of an even bigger audience.

Soon the entire sauna empties as Tristan emerges, dripping from the pool. A couple and their young son are trying to get into the pool house.

The girls interest peaks and they urge Tristan to do another cannonball. I up the ante and appeal to his sense of responsibility, 'Quick before you influence the kid trying to get in here. Someone hold the door!'

Laughing, giggling, Tristan once again darts towards the pool, jumps, and rotates perfectly.


Water again sprays the ceiling, waves churning violently in the pool, and I dart over to rescue his clothes on the increasingly wet pool deck.

I look at Tristan as he sits again. We're both laughing until we double over and tears well in our eyes.