Archive | April 2013

Alton, NH: Board Of Health & Alton Central School (ACS) Board ‘Special’ Meeting On Monday, April 29, 2013.

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 ..by Anura Guruge


Related Posts:
>>
Alton School Board Committee Assignments
>>Apr. 28, 2013.

>> 
Alton Elected Town Officials: To Disclose Or Not To Disclose,
>> That IS THE Question? — Apr. 14, 2013.
++++ Check Category ‘Alton’ in sidebar dropdown for other posts >>>>


I wasn’t sure what to expect from this meeting, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the incisiveness, diligence, acumen and forthrightness of the Board of Health (a.k.a. ‘selectman’), in particular Loring Carr, David Hussey and Cydney Johnson. Having got used to the imperious manner in which some of the ACS Board members treat the tax paying plebs of Alton, it was amazing to hear Town officials that seem to actually care about what the citizens have said, are saying and have voted. This was a good meeting, though I am sure some on the School Board and in the ACS administration did not think so. Credibility was very much at stake. I urge people to watch the video recording. I did not see any newspaper reporters, though they might have come in disguise. I would love to see this very forum meet more often. Not sure how that can be made to happen. But, I have to say, today was good.

Alton Central School (ACS) District Appears To Be Cavalier, If Not Lax, When It Comes To Contracts Paid For With Taxpayer Funds.

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 ..by Anura Guruge


Related Posts:
>>
Alton School Board Committee Assignments — Apr. 28, 2013.
>> 
Alton Elected Town Officials: To Disclose Or Not To Disclose,
>> That IS THE Question? — Apr. 14, 2013.
++++Check Category ‘Alton’ in sidebar dropdown for other posts >>>>


I was given this letter this evening at the ‘special’ (Selectman)/Board of Health/ACS School Board meeting held at the Town Hall.


Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.


This is the second time I have heard that the SAU is having trouble providing a contract for what are financial transactions.

This to me, coming from the corporate world, seems strange. I guess compliance nor accountability is a big issue to an SAU. Hhhmmm.

A New Oxymoron: ‘George W. Bush Library’.

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by Anura Guruge


Simply stated an ‘oxymoron‘ is a combination of words that don’t really go together in one sentence. Some classic examples include: ‘army intelligence‘, ‘almost pregnant‘, ‘demilitarized zone‘ etc. You can find a fairly large list here.

Well, I think even his mother (whose picture (honest) has pride of place in our house (but maybe because whose sitting on her lap) would admit that a library is not something that you would normally associate with the ‘Shrub’ — though, of course, I know that his long suffering wife trained to be a librarian. Conan O’Brien, speaking at the ‘White House Correspondents’ Dinner‘ on Saturday night, had this to say: “the new facility has hundreds of documents from the Bush-era, and if you go you can be the first to read them“. Boom, boom. Letterman was more blunt: “The Bush Presidential Library is beautiful, and they have a huge section devoted to weapons of mass destruction, but nobody can find it”.



The sad thing is and I often cringe about this, is that I used to be a staunch supporter of him. I desperately wanted him to win in 2000 and sat in front of my TV, day in and day out, sacrificing my then very lucrative high-tech consulting practice, rooting for him to beat Gore — by any means, legal or otherwise.

I have to grant that he did wrought a miracle when it came to me. I used to be a rabid, ‘to-the-right-of-Margaret-Thatcher‘, ‘Reagan-worshipping‘, conservative. Bush turned me into the Obamaite democrat that I now am. Just for that I am grateful to the ‘shrub’.

It is interesting that the family also realized that it would be embarrassing to have a library associated with the man best described as ‘lacking any intellectual curiosity’. So, they actually do NOT call it a library. Notice, no mention of the word library or books! I rest my case.

More Recent, Non-U.S. April 2013 Google Doodles — Including A Pleasingly Artistic One For St. George’s Day & An Eye Catching One For South Africa.

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scratchdoodle
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by
Anura Guruge


Last ‘Recent Non-U.S. Doodles’ post:
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Recent, non-U.S. Google Doodles …  — Apr. 18, 2013.

≡ ≡ ≡ ≡ ≡ Check CATEGORY ‘Google Doodle’ for other posts
—>>> (side bar)


Not sure why St. George is portrayed with a noticeable grimace. Are they trying to take the mickey? St. George is normally shown calm and composed as he does battle. Click to access the Doodle in Google’s archive.


Click to access Doodle and Google’s explanation of it.


Click to access Google's Doodle archive.

Click to access Google’s Doodle archive.



Typical depiction of St. George, this one by the incomparable Italian Renaissance Master, Raphael, now at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


Alton Prospect Mountain School: School Board Committee Assignments Are Beyond Ironic Or Even Incongruous! Talk About Chutzpah.

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 ..by Anura Guruge


Related Post:
>> 
Alton Elected Town Officials: To Disclose Or Not To Disclose,
>> That IS THE Question? — Apr. 14, 2013.
++++Check Category ‘Alton’ in sidebar dropdown for other posts >>>>


On April 14, 2013, I flagged that some of the Alton School Board members may have some germane, financial matters related issues, already in the public domain, that they might want to disclose so that we are all on the same chapter so to speak.

Suffice to say that no such disclosures have been forthcoming.

Then, I saw the School Board committee assignments for Prospect Mountain High School (PMHS) in ‘The Baysider‘. That was beyond a joke.


Click to access the April 25, 2013 'The Baysider' with the relevant article as the front page cover story.

Click to access the April 25, 2013 ‘The Baysider’ with the relevant article as the front page cover story.


There are a number of words that come to my mind to describe some of these assignments. Shameless is high on the list.

Contrary to what some people think I have no real desire to muck rake or embarrass folks. That is why I urged that the relevant folks make their own disclosures — given that all the pertinent information is already in the public domain. So, I am not going to call out the specific, grossly inappropriate assignments. But lets just say that they had a committee for ‘nutrition and exercise for kids‘. Well it would be like assigning a school board member with a BMI of 35 to that committee. Enough said. At some point this stuff will have to come out. There might even be some legal requirements for disclosure. But, I will let others worry about that, for the time being.

President Obama Gives GoDaddy An Enormous (‘Free’) Plug On TV At The “White House Correspondents’ Association” Dinner Last Night.

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by Anura Guruge


++++ Do SEARCH on ‘Godaddy‘ or ‘Obama‘ for other posts —>>> (side bar)


Click to access video coverage from CNN.

Click to access video coverage from CNN.


That they picked Danica Patrick’s GoDaddy NASCAR car, with the GoDaddy logos clearly emblazoned, could not have been a coincidence. Great publicity for GoDaddy, and I am glad given how they helped me out during the papal transition.

Not sure how GoDaddy pulled off this coup. I don’t think (but I could be wrong) that my President would just succumb to the charms of a GoDaddy wet T-shirt girl. That would have, of course, worked with Clinton.

So I have to think that some real mulla, in the millions, was involved in this — either as campaign donations in the past or as a direct payment for this priceless ad.

That is what confuses me. I could be wrong. GoDaddy could be an Obama supporter, which would make me very happy.

GoDaddy, in the end, is Bob Parsons company; he being the founder and now the Executive Chairman.

I have never had the honor of directly interacting with Bob.

But, I have had exceptional service and support from his staff in his office. Which is more than I can say about TDS and its CEO’s staff.

When GoDaddy was pulling out all the stops to help me deal with the huge spike in hits I was getting on my pope blog, I was told that Bob had heard about my problem and was personally monitoring my blog to make sure that it was coping with the traffic demands. I was very grateful. I was going to write a thank you note but was told, explicitly, that it would not be necessary.

Bob Parson is a true maverick and I do admire his style and tastes (and what real, hot-blooded male wouldn’t). So, for all I know, he, like so many high-tech moguls, Hollywood megastars and Warren Buffet could be an Obama supporter. That would neat.

Either way, I loved seeing the GoDaddy plug.

I thoroughly enjoyed the President’s speech and that of Conan O’Brien. Very clever. Very funny. This repartee by Conan had me in stitches: “Speaker Boehner and President Obama are still struggling to get along. President Obama and John Boehner are kind of like a blind date between Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow. In theory, they understand each other’s positions, but deep down, you know nothing’s ever going to happen“. [In case you don’t get it, they are both gay.]

If you just want the quick highlights of the jokes, try this link.

The Grand Canyon Experience Keeps On Getting Better Over The Decades. Better Now Than It Was A Decade Ago.

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by
Anura Guruge


A few of you may have noticed that I had not done any posts for nearly 5 days — finally doing one late last night. That was because we were at the Grand Canyon, this having been vacation week in northern New Hampshire. It was the first trip to Arizona for Deanna and the two younger kids. I, on the other hand, have spent a lot of time in AZ starting in 1980 — doing a ton of work for ITT Courier (in Tempe) and POS equipment manufacturer Hyperterm. I can’t remember whether this was my eighth or ninth trip to the Canyon since I used to do daytrips from Tempe to the Canyon and back. I first visited in the Summer of 1980. My last trip prior to this was in February 2001, with the two older kids, when we took a helicopter from Las Vegas to Western part of the Canyon. My last time to the South Rim village was in 2000.

The Canyon, of course, despite the inevitable but not perceptible erosion, remains unparalleled and breathtaking. That is my metric. It took my breath away the first time I saw it, though I had steeled myself to be ‘cool’, and it has taken my breath away each time I have seen it since.

But, the whole Grand Canyon tourist experience has got much better over the years and I am so delighted by what I saw and experienced this last 4 days.


South Rim, from the Village, opposite Bright Angel Lodge, with the Lookout Studio (with the white roof) to the left. All pictures (or at least 99.5% of the 1,571 that were on the 3 digital cameras) by Deanna. All the pictures will ENLARGE if you click on them.


Teischan’s first view of the Canyon. She wasn’t sure how to frame and process what she was confronted with. She seems to be pointing at it. This is smack dab in the middle of the Village. Right opposite Bright Angel Lodge.


From my perspective here are the things that have changed for the better (and all involved, in particular the Park Service and Xanterra South Rim LLC (which runs all of the hospitality services including the lodges and eateries) deserve kudos.

1. Concerted emphasis on ecology, conservation and all things ‘green-related’: A lot of what they (in particular Xanterra) is pushing and enforcing at the South Rim should be the order of the day right across the world. They no longer sell bottled water at the South Rim and proactively discourage the use of plastic straws — with the servers at some of the restaurants wearing big ‘STRAW FREE’ pins. I have never understood people’s fascination with bottled water. Now at the South Rim they were enforcing what I have always believed in and advocated. Use reusable bottles and fill them up from a tap (and here I am talking as one who nearly died, when I was about 12, from drinking contaminated water from a rainwater barrel).  I had never really thought about the straws but that makes a lot of sense too. Altogether the unremitting messaging about conservation and saving the planet was positive and was never grating. This messaging should be universal and not just limited to the Canyon. I have never been prouder of the Park Service — and I have always had a soft spot for them.

2. Total eradication of noise pollution: Wow. The thing that I most savored was the deep, profound silence of the Canyon. You could hear the silence. The total absorbance of sound was magical — and it isn’t as if I am subject to much noise on my dirt road in rural, central NH. What they have done, as they had wanted to do for decades, was to ban sightseeing helicopters and planes from the 50 mile, main section of the Canyon. What a difference. In the past you could never get away from the constant and annoying buzz and drone. Now, just white noise level ‘nothing’, occasionally punctuated by the harsh call of black crows (which they call ravens out there). We saw helicopters, but they were being used to haul heavy material to Phantom Ranch at the bottom for the start of the season. But, they flew far out and were not around for long. In marked contrast, sunset in Sedona was like being at an airport.

3. Proliferation of wildlife: The first morning as we drove up to the Village we saw a herd of Elk grazing by the railway line and the mule corrals. I first thought that we had lucked out. Not so. Elk abound. We even saw an Elk grazing away on the lawn of the famous El Tovar Grand Hotel. It has become like Yosemite or Skyline Drive. Come dusk Elk everywhere. Talking to a Ranger I discovered that the deer and the Elk have actually become a problem. Devanee heard that they are planning to plant a different type of grass in the Village to curb the migration into the very midst of the main tourist area. We also got to see a condor.



4. Reasonably priced food: The food prices, in general, were not that different to what you would pay at McDonalds! That was a pleasant surprise and respite. Makes a total mockery of the prices charged by NH ski resorts like Gunstock and Loon. The Grand Canyon really is in the middle of nowhere. Hauling stuff to it is expensive. So they could justify expensive prices. That they don’t is great. It is a pity that our ski resorts (and the NH Highland Games) just want to exploit the punters.

5. Use of natural gas powered buses and encouraging people to use them.

To be fair there was just one thing that I was not impressed about and it is one of my perennial issues with contemporary life – lack of a dress code in fancy restaurants. We made a reservation and went to dinner at the El Tovar. Now the ‘El’ is billed as one of the Grand Hotels in the U.S. and the dining room is classed as ‘Grand’. Well, the dining room and the service was immaculate, BUT having hobos coming into dine in shorts and T-shirts just detracts from the experience. Yes, I complained verbally and in writing.

The other thing that I noticed and bemused me is the mobile device addiction. You are at the Grand and people have their noses stuck on a small screen. It is a pity — though watching people take pictures using a 10″ iPad was cool, given the large viewfinder so to speak.

Overall it was a great few days. Deanna is still going: ‘Wow, Wow, Wow …’. The kids were overwhelmed.





Animated Google Doodle On April 22, 2013 To Celebrate Earth Day.

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scratchdoodle
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by
Anura Guruge


Last Doodle post:
>>
Recent, non-U.S. Google Doodles …  — Apr. 18, 2013.

≡ ≡ ≡ ≡ ≡ Check CATEGORY ‘Google Doodle’ for other posts
—>>> (side bar)


Click to access animated Earth Day Google Doodle on April 22, 2013.

Click to access animated Earth Day Google Doodle on April 22, 2013.


Google appears to have added an explanation section in its Doodle archive for some of the more popular Doodles -- such as this one. Nice touch. Click to read full text.

Google appears to have added an explanation section in its Doodle archive for some of the more popular Doodles — such as this one. Nice touch. Click to read full text.


Sorry I couldn’t tell you about this earlier but we were out celebrating Earth Day 2013 in style. We went to the Grand Canyon. On the way, as is my wont, we stopped at Montezuma Castle National Monumentwhich is half and hour or so south of Flagstaff, straight off I-17. So we did two National ‘entities’ in the day. That both the Canyon (for the whole week) and the Castle (at least for the day) waived their entrance fees that day in honor of Earth Day was a bonus. More on the Canyon experience, which indeed was Grand, tomorrow. 



Montezuma Castle National Monument by Deanna. Click to ENLARGE.


One of Deanna’s first pictures of the Grand Canyon (from the 1,500 pictures she took). Click to ENLARGE. This is looking straight out from the heart of the Grand Canyon Village, standing opposite the historic Bright Angel Lodge/restaurant.


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