Archive | February 2013

Digging Into What Is Happening To Alton, NH Tax Base. Gone Down $180 Million Since 2008.

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by
Anura Guruge


Related posts:
[do a SEARCH (>>>>) on ‘Tax’ for others’]
1. Alton, NH Property Tax ‘Impact’ Has Gone Up 4% Since Last Year
>>Nov. 28, 2012.

2. Alton Tax Base Went Down for 3 reasons — Dec. 18, 2012.



I had looked at this once before in mid-December 2012 using data I got online from the State.

This week I went and got some data from the Town. Thanks, folks. That was excellent.

This is what they gave me.

Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.



I can’t look at numbers unless I throw them into a spreadsheet and do a bit of crunching.

I did that.

This is what I got.

Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.



I have been paying property taxes in NH for 27 years — sometimes in multiple towns. I know how it works quite well.

In 1987 I nearly got lynched in the town I was then living in. They had got a brand new, computer system to do their taxes — their first foray into computers. They had a glitch in it which precluded them from sending out the tax bills. The bills were 3 weeks late. I happened to go to the Town Hall to register a car (or something) and was told about the problem in passing. I fixed it in about 10 minutes. The bills went out the next day! The word got out that that ‘brown guy’ who had mysteriously appeared in town (and who worked for some computer company in MA) had fixed the system. But, the Town Hall, especially the Tax Collector, and all who got paid from the town (like the police), loved me ever since.

In NH, the tax rate and the tax base are connected not just at the hip, but from top to bottom.

Lets say that by some miracle a Town managed to operate on a flat budget over a number of years. If, however, despite the flat budget the tax base went down — the tax rate has to go up to make up for it. If the tax base goes up, the tax rate goes down — provided the budget doesn’t change.

It is a titer-totter.

In NH, a Town’s tax rate by itself tells you diddly! It has to be coupled with the tax base — and the formula used to assess property in the town

Take Concord. They have a higher tax rate. I think $24 per thousand. That doesn’t however mean that they pay 1.75 times more in property taxes than Alton. Why? Their assessed value on homes is less. You now have to factor that in. If you take a house assessed at $200,000 in Concord and put it on my lot in Alton (in place of this house), it won’t be assessed at $200,000 in Alton! That is the titer-totter. The snakes-and-ladders as we properly call it back home (and we invented the game).

To me this is but intellectual curiosity. No axe to grind. I have learned over the years not to get excited about changes in a Town assessed base or tax rate. If one goes down the other will go up. C’est la vie.

Dish Network Now Delivers NH (Manchester) WMUR (Ch. 9) & Boston PBS WGBH (Ch. 2) in HD.

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..by Anura Guruge


I don’t really watch any of the local broadcast channels — occasionally suffering WMUR (Channel 9) for weather during the winter. I rely on CNN, MSNBC and CNBC for most of my news and then watch Discover, TLC, Science, Animal, BBC America, History, cricket (x3) etc. and the movie channels for entertainment (invariably all pre-recorded to avoid commercials). So, I don’t notice many changes in the local channels.

HD did not use to be available for NH’s WMUR and Boston’s (very good) PBS station WGBH (Channel 2).

I happened to be looking at the online TV schedule when I happened to notice that ALL of the local station on Dish, for NH, Channels 2, 4, 5, 7 & 9 (and possibly even 11) are now all in HD!

I was delighted.

WMUR comes in vividly, in full HD screen size. It was a joy to watch. Ditto Channel 2. Just wanted to make sure that you knew about this.

Dish is funny like that. It really does enhance it service, without much fuss, about once a year.

That we lose service when we have snow storms is frustrating — especially since I nearly drowned in snow on Monday trying to clear off the snow on our two (2) dishes. Yes, we need two dishes because of the ‘International’ cricket channels I get.

I Have A Pope Interview Published In Slovenia.

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..by Anura Guruge


sloveniaint

This was a neat interview. The interviewer spoke perfect English (much better that I do). He also asked some of the most incisive questions, about the papal transition, that I have been asked in the last 3 weeks. He was good. I was impressed. So, impressed that I invited him over – since he had never been to the U.S. and as do so many, wants, desperately, to visit.



My full-set of Pope books as of February 25, 2013.

My full-set of Pope books as of February 25, 2013.


Can A 6-Year Old Really Determine Their Gender, Prior To Hormones Kicking In? I Have My Doubts.

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by
Anura Guruge


Click to read 'CNN' coverage. Google for others ...

Click to read ‘CNN’ coverage. Google for others …


I write this as a father of 4 kids: 3 girls and 1 boy, one of the girls a 6-year old, first grader just like this ‘transgender’ child.

I heard this on CNN first thing this morning, but I had to deal with my papal obligations before I got a chance to revisit it.

I have one and only one question. Can a 6-year old (and the parents claim that he/she was doing ‘it’ at 18-months), pre-hormones and pre-ANYTHING (really) make a determination as to gender?

Even the Catholic Church says the ‘age of reason’ is 7.

I have no axe to grind about this particular case.

I just find it strange that such a young child is allowed to select gender.

Other than the basic, fundamental human rights of all children, i.e., safety, comfort, care, protection etc. etc., what other rights do a 6 year old have?

They can’t drive a car, they can’t vote, they certainly can’t consume alcohol legally, they can’t (and shouldn’t) partake in anything that even resembles ‘sex’, they can’t even buy a gun (I think, but I could be wrong on the guns) — BUT they can determine gender.

This is taking things a bit too far.

What roles have the parents played in this? Did they encourage he/she? My mother would have given her right-arm to have a girl rather than me — and I sure don’t blame her. Anything would have been better than me. She dressed me as a girl and curled my hair. Yes, there are pictures of me dressed as a girl (which, obviously explains, why even now, 59 years later I come across so effeminate, as you must have noticed). Despite my mother’s best efforts I never thought I was a girl even before the hormones kicked in around 12. In my case the hormones really did a job. I have stretch marks on my shoulders to prove it. I grew by 4″ in a year, everywhere. Even my eyes grew! That is what shot my eyesight. So, at least give this poor kid another 6 years, yes 100% of their current life, to experience the joys of hormones.

That is all I have to say. I feel better now.

Oh, I would be very upset if Teischan had to use a bathroom with a girl who had a wiener, however little. But, I am old fashioned.

U.S. Cellular 4G LTE Data: Contrary To Map No Service At Our House. Am I Livid?

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by
Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> TDS Outage In Alton, NH: February 26, 2013 — Feb. 26, 2013.
>> TDS Internet (Broadband Fiber) Outage In Alton, NH
>> (Or At Least At Our House) Last ‘Night’/This Morning — Jan. 17, 2013.
>> TDS Broadband (Fiber): Long Outage Last Night … — Oct. 17, 2012.


No4GE

So this is the map.

To be fair the U.S. Cellular sale rep. did stress that we were on the edge.

Well, the map is WRONG.

Definitely no 4G at this house.

This is a tall house, all 4 stories and my ‘office’ is in the finished attic.

To start with I couldn’t even get 3G! I had to put it up on a bookshelf, 5′ off the floor. Then I got 3G.

Speed test shows 0.2 Mbps download and 0.1 Mbps. So that is 200 Kbps! Dial-up speeds from the 1990s.

Yes, it load Web pages. But, we can’t survive with that.

Did the same speedtest with out TDS fiber. 15 Mbps. 75x times faster.

I called U.S. Cellular and had also e-mailed the sales rep. last night. Telling me I have 15 days to return — no questions asked. Going to do that.

U.S. Cellular, of late (last 2 years), treats me with kid gloves.

I have been with them for over 14 years. Close to 15. I am not on contract. So, I can switch my cell phones whenever I want.

So they try and be nice to me — though, in general, U.S. Cellular is nice, helpful and good.

Google Nexus 7 Pad: USB Charging & Battery Life Issues. 6 Months Old. Support?

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by
Anura Guruge


Related post:
>> 2 (Or More) Android Devices On The SAME Google Play Account
>> (Same e-Mail) — Oct. 12, 2012.


I got a Google (Asus) Nexus 7 for Teischan last July; I had pre-ordered it and got it delivered the day it was set to be available in the U.S. It worked fine. The price was right. Three months later I got another for Devanee — for her birthday. They both work fine and get a lot of usage from the kids. The pads are too small for me, but they have come in handy when we travel. They both have multiple GPS APPS and we use them when we travel, though Devanee has still to master using ‘map mode’ in GPS. The other night we were in Hanover, NH, for a HOP Concert, and I needed to make a quick change to a Blog entry. Did you know that Hanover, thanks to Dartmouth, has free public Wi-Fi? They do. I managed to make the edit using the pad. I was impressed and happy.

For the last week Teischan has been complaining that her Nexus won’t charge properly. I was skeptical. But, I tried charging it myself a couple of times. Sure seemed temperamental. It would say it was charging, but would never go beyond 11%.

We changed sockets and did the usual, USB charger not charging rituals.

But, it charges fine if we plug it into Devanee’s charger. But. battery draining faster than I expected. I saww it drop from 100% to 97%, in front of my eyes, and I wasn’t doing anything!

So, I thought I could get another Nexus USB charger from Google — and I was even willing to pay. [Yes, we have about 6 other USB chargers, but none of them seem to be able to charge it either].

I found the number, 855-836-3987 (and yes ‘855’ is a new ‘800’), and called this afternoon. Got somebody who spoke English worse than I! But, he said that Google policy was to exchange the whole pad and that he would get a specialist to send me a ‘Return Authorization’, by e-mail, within 15 minutes.

No e-mail.

5 hours later I called again. Got another barely coherent person. They had no record of my 1st call! I was put on hold 3 times. Eventually he said he was transferring me to a ‘supervisor’ or ‘specialist’. This new person, ‘Chris’, was great. Actually spoke English, which was nice. Yes, the whole unit has to be exchanged. He sent me the e-mail with the links and 2 PDFs. He stayed on the phone. When you click on the link it takes you to an ORDER page at the Google Play store. You order a brand new unit. They charge $199 to your credit card — but supposedly put it on ‘hold’ for 21 days. When the new unit comes I have to send the old one back. That is the theory.

So, lets summarize.

We have one of the first batch Nexus 7s. Six months in, charging and battery issues. Google swaps out the whole unit. Support is iffy. So …

Of course I will keep you posted.

TDS Internet (Broadband Fiber) Outage In Alton, NH: Tuesday, February 26, 2013.

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by
Anura Guruge


Related post:
>> TDS Internet (Broadband Fiber) Outage In Alton, NH
>> (Or At Least At Our House) Last ‘Night’/This Morning — Jan. 17, 2013.
>> TDS Broadband (Fiber): Long Outage Last Night … — Oct. 17, 2012.


The wife and kids woke me up this morning, at 8 am, with the news: ‘we have no Internet‘!

That to me is always a painful punch in the stomach.

Ruins my day. But, I tried to stay as unagitated as possible. It has been 3 bad days in a row for me — and I am crazy busy with all that is going on at the Vatican. On Sunday night I published my 3rd Kindle eBook related to Pope Benedict XVI’s (#266) resignation and the upcoming sede vacante and conclave. My two pope blogs have had over 150,000 hits in the last two weeks. One of them, Papam, to do with pope elections, has had 3,000 more hits so far in 2013 than it did in all of 2011 — and this is a fairly well visited blog. On Sunday, I lost my 25″ main monitor. On Monday, yesterday, I lost power. Today, I lost Internet. I appear to be fated.

Luckily we were going to Laconia for a 10 am appointment. So, I wasn’t going to use my computer.

This was the first TDS outage, as far as I know, since January 17, 2013. So, that was 40 days ago. Not great, but not too bad either.

But, I couldn’t take it anymore. Today was the last straw. We need Internet access. That is why I have two separate Fiber lines coming into the house and pay TDS big bucks for the privilege.

So, after the appointment we drove to U.S. Cellular in Tilton. Yes, we drove past the U.S. Cellular ‘outlet’ at the Belmont Mall. They are a ‘franchise’ (or similar) — while the Tilton ‘office’ is U.S. Cellular owned. I have been going to them for years — after they moved out of the little, but great, ‘kiosk’ they used to have at the Gilford Walmart. ‘My man’, Jason, is no longer there. He was GREAT. He is now the Tech. Lead for them in Concord. But, we got to see one of his friends, ‘Deb’. She is good too. Very understanding and caring. [U.S. Cellular is owned by TDS!]

What we needed was a mobile hotspot — and that is what we got. Got the cheapest plan. This is purely for backup. We are supposed to have 30 Mbps capacity coming into the house — and I check, with speedtest.net, on a regular basis, that at least my dedicated line gibes me at least 14.5 Mbps.

Haven’t used it yet. The capacity drop 100 fold when roaming. But, we don’t roam that often. I will let you know. Because we are on a hill we are supposed to get 4G. It is on their map. Our house is right on the edge of this small 4G cloud centered around Prospect Mountain.

USChotspot

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