Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Job recovery not occurring for Americans in prime working years

Some people asked me why I would accept working on a contract in a War Zone....The article below provides a good overview as professionals with my years of experience are not being employed at the same rate as before. Too many have been shut out in favor of less expensive workers with less experience.
Two key quotes sum it up - " real wages have been stagnant since 2008" and " The economy is just really messed up right now
This should make your choice in the upcoming election down to the simple question,
" Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?? "  If not, vote the bums out.  Especially the Village Idiot from Chicago in the White House.

Job recovery is scant for Americans in prime working years

By , WASHINGTON POST -Published: May 30

The proportion of Americans in their prime working years who have jobs is smaller than it has been at any time in the 23 years before the recession, according to federal statistics, reflecting the profound and lasting effects that the downturn has had on the nation’s economic prospects.

By this measure, the jobs situation has improved little in recent years. The percentage of workers between the ages of 25 and 54 who have jobs now stands at 75.7 percent, just a percentage point over what it was at the downturn’s worst, according to federal statistics.

Before the recession the proportion hovered at 80 percent.

While the unemployment rate may be the most closely watched gauge of the economy in the presidential campaign, this measure of prime-age workers captures more of the ongoing turbulence in the job market. It reflects “missing workers” who have stopped looking for work and aren’t included in the unemployment rate.

During their prime years, Americans are supposed to be building careers and wealth to prepare for their retirement. Instead, as the indicator reveals, huge numbers are on the sidelines.

“What it shows is that we are still near the bottom of a very big hole that opened in the recession,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.

The falloff has been sharpest for men, for whom the proportion had been on a slow decline before the recession. The percentage of prime-age men who are working is smaller now than it has been in any time before the recession, going all the way back to 1948, according to federal statistics. The proportion of prime-age women is at a low not seen since 1988.

The nation’s unemployment rate has shown signs of improvement, ticking down from 10 percent to 8.1 percent. But if it tallied people who have given up looking for jobs, it would certainly be higher.

The ratio of employment to population, which economists refer to as “epop,” “is a much better measure for what people are experiencing in the job market,” Shierholz said. “The unemployment rate is screwy right now because the labor market is so weak that people have stopped trying.”

For example, last month, the unemployment rate ticked down from 8.2 percent to 8.1 percent. Ordinarily, a drop in unemployment would be interpreted as a sign of improving economic health. But it dropped largely because so many people stopped looking for jobs.

Shierholz estimates that about 4 million workers have simply stopped looking, and so do not show up in the tally used for the unemployment rate.

As the presidential race heads into the summer, the health of the economy — and how voters view it — becomes critical, and for many people, the job market is their most significant contact with the economy.

According to the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, the issue of paramount interest to voters is the economy and jobs, with more than half describing it as the “single most important issue.”

By comparison, the next most important issue, health care, trailed far behind at 7 percent, and moral and family values followed at 5 percent.

The polls also show that, while the official statistics show improvement, voters offer gloomy economic diagnoses

About 83 percent of those in the poll, conducted in mid-May, rated the state of the economy as “poor” or “not so good,” a much higher portion of negative views than at any other time in the 10 years preceding the recession.

The job market “feels like a game of musical chairs — if you didn’t have a job when the market crashed, well, that chair is gone,” said Karen Akers, 50, of Vienna, who lost two jobs to budget cuts during the recession.

She just reentered the workforce in March, although at a lower salary in client relations at a sprinkler company.

“I don’t know that people trust any of these economic numbers these days, anyway, because they were all good before the crash,” she said. “Whatever economists are telling us, I don’t know that we can believe it any more than what we see in the job market — and what you find there is not good.”

Indeed, in interviews outside the unemployment office in Alexandria on Friday morning, people looking for work said that finding a job today, three years after the recession’s official end, seems just as hard as it did during the recession.

“In 2008, it was much easier — I got a job right away,” said 41-year-old Rob from Arlington, who last worked in sales for a defense contractor. Like other workers interviewed at the unemployment office, he declined to give his last name to protect his privacy.

“It’s definitely more negative, which really caught me off guard,” he said. “Employers have gotten used to doing pretty much what they want to do in this market.”

“I’m actually considering a position in retail,” said a 53-year-old Northern Virginia woman who had held a senior position in international sales and recently earned a master’s degree in management. She has been looking for a job for three years. “I can’t tell you how many women I know, one of whom was a bank vice president, who have already taken these kinds of jobs — they’re working at Joann’s Fabrics, Sur la Table and Crate & Barrel.”

The impact of these difficulties reaches far beyond those looking for work.

For those working, real wages have been stagnant since 2008, Shierholz said.

Moreover, the number of people quitting jobs — a figure that tends to rise when jobs seem plentiful and fall when they seem scarce — remains lower than it was at any time in the years leading up to the recession, according to government statistics.

Some of the workers have sensed a slight strengthening in their outlook, however: a few more calls, a few more openings, a few more interviews than they’d previously seen. Indeed, the “epop” figure for prime-age workers has risen since October.

Mark, 50, a heating and AC technician from Alexandria, was out of work in 2009 but found a job right away. He was laid off again about six months ago and, standing outside the Alexandria unemployment office, said it seems harder this time around.

“The economy is just really messed up right now,” he said

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Things that go Rat-a-Tat-Tat in the night

One of the oddities about an assignment like the one I am on is that you are assisting people who are in desperate need of our help.  While I know things back home are in tough straits with record numbers seeking government assistance, things in the local area where I am residing presently are much worse off.  The level of poverty in a war torn country like this is unimaginable for the average citizen of the United States. 
I have traveled around this side of the world and have seen how tough things are for the majority of those in impoverished countries.  That is why what we do here is important as the aim is to have them help themselves and not need the continued assistance of the United States.  The goal is to develop self sustaining programs and teach them the skills that develop agriculture, business and opportunities for a better life for the people. And most importantly, rid the place of the idiots who show up in pickup trucks with guns who terrorize the people.

Anyways, I digress.  Here, life moves at a slightly different pace than back home.  As it is an Islamic Republic, the sounds of the call to worship are a regular occurrence.  It is not the sound that gets your attention ( as I have been in enough Islamic countries that I have heard it before), it is the timing.  Like the call to worship that comes at 03:45 each morning.  Yes, 03:45 A.M.  Now I am an early morning type of person ( yes, I know that alone makes me strange) but at 03:45, even I am cutting the long logs.  I liked Robin Williams in " Good Morning Vietnam " who said, " You know what the " O " in 04:00 A.M. stands for ??  It stands for " Oh my God it is early !!"

So that is one of the rhythms of the place that you become used to and get accustomed to when you are here for a while.  Then there are the sounds that you don't hear all the time and get your attention immediately.....

Like the sound of a large caliber machine gun being unleashed in the middle of the night.....accompanied by the sounds of helicopters hovering in the distance.  Now, the first point to make is this was not outside our walls.  It was a few blocks down the street. The second point to make is that the "anger" of the deal was not being sent our way...That alone was a blessing as we do not ask for or require that kind of attention.

Many who have served in a war zone will understand what I describe as you are laying in bed, asleep and then the quiet of your room is cut with the unmistakable sounds of " Rat-a-Tat-Tat " and the larger, deeper sound of a large caliber machine gun " Buck-Buck-Bu-But" in response to the guy who fired the first salvo.  This goes on for about an hour and you find yourself trying to make sense of what you are hearing as you attempt to pull your sleep filled brain out of the ether.  I could tell after a while that the sounds were likely from a certain location up the street a few blocks that the security experts let us know about when we arrived.

The sounds of gunfire were followed up with the sounds of helicopters hovering and swooping around so there were " angels " overhead supervising the game, which gave me some comfort. It is always good to have them up there and when I was the guy shouldering the weapon back in the day, I always loved to see the men & ladies of our military in the helos overhead as they were there to make sure we were well protected.

The festivities died down and I was able to roll over and regain a modicum of sleep again...until by 03:45 buddy did his thing right on schedule.  By 05:00 I was up and starting my daily routine.  When I went out to head to our offices, life in the city had gone back to normal and there were the usual sounds of the citizens preparing for another day.  It is a war zone but life has to go on for those who try to bring their country forward from the grips of those who would terrorize the populace.

My day began and I went to the office, got my breakfast and started on the days work of my small part in assisting the people here who need work and an opportunity to become a better nation.

Worlds away and miles apart....Some still go to fight the Dragons

The holiday weekend is over and all will be back to the normal routine.  Kids grumpily head back to school, parents go back to the workplace or the daily routine of dealing with lack of work, child issues, paying the bills, housework, etc.

For me, that included getting off the bench ( unemployment ) and back to earning a paycheck.  The one hitch is that it again involves a extended trip to the dusty side of the world.  In this instance, it is a little different as I am working a non-DOD contract but working for another large government department in a program to hire local staff for a program providing jobs in their impoverished areas.

This presents certain challenges as we are not located in the large well guarded FOBs but in a smaller secure compound in a city.  There is security and the local army units protecting us and we are safe. Even being on a large FOB is not 100% safe so there is risk no matter where you are over here.  In life, there are no guarantees.  I see everyday where people are there one minute and by accident, incident or unseen circumstances, they lose their lives. It can be as simple as heading home from the store in your car or stepping off the curb at the wrong moment.

While many would feel that being here increases the likelihood of something dangerous occurring, I have made the decision to accept this work as it is important that I assist in the effort to provide others freedom, especially economic freedom.  Back home, many are still struggling to find stable work and I was one of those people.  Jobs at senior levels back home are not as plentiful and the employers are very particular about experience as they have their choice of candidates.  Too many good people are being passed over and that is not how good hiring practices should be done. Wages are lower and earning what you are worth is not easy.  The work here is meaningful and ensures I am paid a good wage for my efforts.

At the same time as I travel to the other side of the world, things back home continue at their normal pace.  The homefront goes on even while I am not there to participate in daily events.  I am blessed with a strong lady who shoulders the duty of keeping all at home normal while I have to be away.  It is a tough trade off for both as I miss out on being there, and she finds herself having to handle the watch on her own.  We both know it won't always be this way, and in the end, this work will supply the extra income that many others would envy.

At the same time, life goes on at a slower pace for the parents who gave us life and life's lessons.  My wife's Mom working to recover from her health issues (long term recovery) and my Dad who wound up in the hospital for some health issues that have become more serious.  He will recover and that recovery will be likely slower than hoped for but he is a strong man even at his age in the mid 80s.  Being unable to visit him at the hospital is another tough part of this gig.   I have to rely on the word I get over the Skype chat. 

I am miles away and world's apart from home, and not being able to be there for my family and my Dad is the toughest part of taking on this type of assignment.  If I didn't, there would be larger issues of an economic nature that would be as perilous to our safety as being over here.  Too many others have hit of tough times through no real fault of their own, and many have lost their homes and more.

Being here ensures the continued economic safety of my family but at a price.  That price is "time" and it is a steep price to pay.  I have made a Faustian bargain with the economic devil that pursues all these days.  Those I know at home are facing severe challenges of stagnant wages, fear of job loss and an unsure future.  I will gain the extra income I need to fix issues like an old house that needs some serious upgrading. In the end, the extra will not provide affluence but an ability to make repairs/improvements that have been long overdue.

Each of us finds ourselves challenged in life today and how we respond to those challenges is the real test of our metal.  A while ago, I posted a write up about " Some must go and fight the Dragons"....This time I am still fighting the Dragons but with a sword of economic sharpness for myself and those here who we will help. 

The fight is dangerous but so would not engaging in the fight. 

I recall the words of Isiah 6:8 - “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'”

We'll carry on the fight and seek God's graces as each of us travels along our life's dangerous and perilous path.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

MEMORIAL DAY - May we never forget those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom

A good article from the National Geographic about how Memorial Day has been changed by our society and how there is movement to change the date back to the original date of May 30th, regardless of where it falls on the calendar.

It is my hope that our citizens never forget how much others have sacrificed for our freedom.

The enclosed picture was one I took when I visited Arlington National Cemetery in 2010 for the funeral of a fallen US Marine.

Memorial Day: How It's Changed, Why Some Oppose 3-Day Weekend

Day of remembrance lost in swirl of summer kickoff?

Brian Handwerk
Published May 25, 2012

Every year Memorial Day brings people together in the United States to honor fallen service members on the last Monday in May.

Since its post-Civil War beginnings, the holiday has changed considerably and now may be best known as the start of summer vacation season—prompting some critics to call for moving the date away from a three-day weekend.

Unlike Veterans Day on November 11, which honors all who have served their country, Memorial Day is set aside for special remembrance of those who laid down their lives for U.S. national defense.

Despite the modern spirit of patriotic camaraderie, Memorial Day has its roots in one of the most divisive events in U.S. history: the Civil War.

Soon after the bloody conflict ceased, General John A. Logan—commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans—called for a holiday to be observed every year on May 30.

At the time, that holiday was known as Decoration Day, because Logan wanted to honor the fallen by "strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating, the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion."

But many Civil War memorial ceremonies actually predated Logan's first Decoration Day, which was held at Arlington National Cemetery in 1868. More than two dozen U.S. cities claim to have hosted the first Decoration Day or Memorial Day.

In 1966, the U.S. Congress and President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized Waterloo, New York, as the "birthplace" of Memorial Day, based on a May 5, 1866, service held to honor local veterans, which included citywide events and the closings of local businesses.
The first national Memorial Day holiday, designated by Congress, was held in 1971.

Memorial Day a "Sacrosanct" Observance

In the years just after the Civil War, Northern and Southern Memorial Day services didn't necessarily honor the same soldiers.

But since World War I, the holiday has gathered the nation together to honor all men and women who've lost their lives in conflict, from the American Revolution to the present day battles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over the decades the name of the holiday has shifted as well, with Memorial Day gradually becoming the common moniker.

Now in cemeteries across the United States veterans and citizens alike hold ceremonies, and the graves of the fallen are adorned with flowers and U.S. flags.

"We believe that Memorial Day is a sacrosanct national observance for the entire country," said John Raughter, communications director for the American Legion, a nonprofit organization of veterans helping veterans.

Smaller local observances, in which citizens honor veterans known to their communities, remain as links to the original spirit of Decoration Day, he said.

"Thankfully most communities in this country recognize this, and we are grateful that they have observances and ceremonies on the local level. Those are very important."
An End to Memorial Day Weekend?

Due to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968—which moved observances of several holidays to create long weekends—Memorial Day has for decades been held on the last Monday in May.

But some groups, including the American Legion, hope for a return to the original May 30 observance, to truly set the day apart.

"The majority of Americans view Memorial Day as a time for relaxation and leisure recreation rather than as a solemn occasion and a time to reflect and pay tribute to the American servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives in defense of our Nation," according to an American Legion resolution issued at the group's 2010 National Convention.

Instead of being part of a long weekend, the resolution asks that Congress "restore the official observance of Memorial Day to May 30 and that all American institutions toll their bells for one minute, beginning at 11:00, on that date in remembrance of those who died defending the Nation."

Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, a World War II veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, has several times introduced legislation favoring a shift of Memorial Day back to May 30.
(Related pictures: "World War II 'Time Capsule' Fighter Found in Sahara.")
And some communities still observe the original date with solemn parades and other services of remembrance.

Since 2000 people across the U.S. have also been asked to observe a national moment of remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time on the official national holiday. Flags are flown at half staff until noon, to signify a day of mourning.

"I think people are realizing again that Memorial Day is not about picnics, ball games, or going to the beach," the American Legion's Raughter said.

"There's nothing wrong with those things and enjoying the lifestyle that we have," he added. "But remember that the lifestyle that we have in America—the ability to enjoy a long weekend—was made possible by the nearly one million men and women who have died in service to this country since the American Revolution."

Perhaps the fact that so many of today's U.S. troops are in harm's way, serving in dangerous overseas deployments, has sparked a bit more solemnity, no matter which date is observed, Raughter suggested.

"We seem to remember when we see young men and women come back wounded, amputees, or hear of people we know who made the supreme sacrifice," he said.
"It's a shame that it sometimes takes a war to remind us of the heroes that we have, because even during peacetime, the vets are still with us, and they should be remembered at all times, not only when the guns are firing."

Friday, May 25, 2012

MEMORIAL DAY 2012 - It isn't about the BBQs and a trip to Cape Cod

It is one of the ways that things have changed over the last 30 years or so that has bothered me.  Memorial Day Weekend used to be a solemn occasion where all understood it was to honor those who were lost in battle defending our country.

Now, it gets treated as just another three day weekend that people take off to go to the Cape.  I am glad to see the sea of flags that has graced the Boston Common as this is what this weekend is all about.  More people need to take part in ceremonies that most towns hold this Monday as it is vital we pay homage to those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

About 200 volunteers planted 33,000 flags on the Boston Common today to represent Massachusetts soldiers killed since the Civil War.  We remember their sacrifice this weekend and always.

Families of soldiers lost in war plant flags on Boston Common and recall their bravery
By Brian R. Ballou, Globe Staff

Marine Private Daniel McGuire was born in Middleborough and grew up on the Cape. He played a little bit of lacrosse and loved theater. He was the oldest of four boys and was 19 when he was standing at his post in the middle of the night in Fallujah, Iraq. It was Aug. 14. 2008, a year and a day after he enlisted. His post was attacked, and he was fatally shot.

“The key is, for us as parents, I don’t need you to pay constant tribute to my son, I can do that, but just don’t forget him,’’ said Mark McGuire, who planted a US flag today for his son in a flowing display of 33,000 flags covering a grassy hill at the Boston Common near the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. About 200 volunteers on Wednesday planted the flags, one for each Massachusetts servicemember killed in action since the Civil War.

A final 159 flags were added today for the Massachusetts servicemembers killed since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

An hour-long event at the Common, the “Massachusetts Military Heroes” ceremony, was attended by a crowd of about 300 people, including Governor Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and about 20 families of servicemembers killed in action.

Family members read off the names of the 159 in a “roll call.”

McGuire, 49, of Mashpee, had a message for the crowds that are sure to head in his direction this Memorial Day Weekend.

“They just need a big banner on the bridge, saying, ‘It’s not about the barbecue.’ Swing by the national cemetery in Bourne. ... You don’t need to know anyone there. Just ride through.”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino sounded a similar theme
“There are people going down to the Cape or going to the mountains,’’ he said, standing at a lectern in front of the display of flags. “They forget, they forget the sacrifices made by so many men and women so we could have the freedom in America today.’’

Thomas Crohan, vice president of the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund, which organized the event, drew the crowd’s attention to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument that serves as a centerpiece to the sprawling Common.

“Its plaque reads in part, ‘To the men of Boston who died for their country on land and sea, the grateful city has built this monument that their example may speak to coming generations,” Crohan said. “We hope these flags speak to the current generation, as a solemn reminder of the enormous sacrifice made by the heroes we honor today.”

Brian R. Ballou can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @globeballou.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Life Advice to Tufts Grads from a US Navy SEAL

In transit and I found this on CNN...not sure how/why this got by their editors as CNN usually would not print something this positive from a member of the US military. I apologize for the formatting....Good stuff and well worth the read.....more as I reach my new duty station. Getting there is half the fun......right.

Navy SEAL's Wise Advice to Graduates
William Bennett - CNN

(CNN) -- Each spring, I monitor the list of commencement speakers at our nation's leading colleges and universities. Who is chosen, and who is not, tells us a lot about academia's perception of the most important voices in America.

Two of this year's most popular speakers were CNN's Fareed Zakaria, who spoke at both Harvard University and Duke University, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who spoke at both Tulane University and the University of Washington. Perhaps one of the most original choices, and the one who certainly stood out from the rest, was U.S. Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, who addressed the 2012 graduating class of Tufts University Sunday.

 It's not often that elite universities honor military service members with commencement addresses. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower once spoke to a graduating class at an Ivy League university and remarked, "Your business is to put me out of business." So I applaud Tufts University for inviting Greitens.

He is not a household name, but he should be. The 38-year-old Rhodes scholar and humanitarian worker turned U.S. Navy SEAL served multiple tours overseas fighting terrorist cells and received several military awards. Today, he is the CEO of the Mission Continues, a nonprofit foundation he created to help wounded and disabled veterans find ways to serve their communities at home.

To the graduates of Tufts, Greitens issued a unique challenge, one rarely heard at commencements today: to sacrifice, to serve one's country and to live magnanimously. He called students to think above and beyond their own dreams, their own desires, and to be strong. Aristotle called this megalopsychia, greatness of soul, and considered it one of the greatest moral virtues.

'What kind of service can I provide? What kind of positive difference can I make in the lives of others?' If you work every day to live an answer to that question, then you will be stronger," Greitens declared. After dodging bullets, withstanding IED explosions and going days without sleep, Greitens realized the strength he needed to excel as a SEAL was found outside his own physical abilities. In his weakest moments, Greitens was able to find his greatest strength in service.

"The more I thought about myself, the weaker I became. The more I recognized that I was serving a purpose larger than myself, the stronger I became," he told the students at Tufts. He served his country and defended the weak against the rapacity of the wicked.
Fifty years ago, Greitens' remarks would have been the norm. But through the years, the focus of education, particularly higher education, has shifted from selflessness to self-obsession. Many commencement speakers today tell students to "Dream big" and "Do what you love." It may be feel-good career advice, but it's incomplete life advice. Philosopher Martin Buber wrote, "All education 'worthy' of the name is education of character." Greitens gave the Tufts student an eloquent firsthand example.

Greitens said it this way: "The best definition I have ever heard of a vocation is that it's the place where your great joy meets the world's great need. ... We need all of you to find your vocation. To develop your joys, your passions, and to match them to the world's great needs."

Not all men are meant to be Navy SEALs, or even serve in the military, but all men can serve. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow recognized, "The life of man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams but in active charity and in willing service."

We ask our students, what do you want to do when you grow up? Instead, we should ask them, whom or Whom, and what ideals do you want to serve when you grow up? That is a worthy thing to consider at graduation. Good for Greitens; good for Tufts.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Middleboro Jones and the next great adventure

Belloq: " Doctor Jones however did you get yourself into such a nasty place ?"

Jones: " Why don't you come down here and find out..."

It seems that I have found my services requested for another adventure off to the distant parts of the globe. The economy is driving this more than a pursuit for the Ark of the Covenant or chasing nefarious villains. The economic forces have created a bit of a perfect storm where my skill set has more value over there than here at home.

This will limit the posting I can accomplish until I arrive and get situated later this week. Posting while in transit is possible but sometimes difficult. Like any adventure, there will be high points and low points...traveling to the "dusty" side of the globe is always an adventure...

Hope to have some good stuff to share and as always, try to provide a unique point-of-view while making sure things go as smoothly for me as they do for my buddy Indiana...

Brody: Marion's the least of your worries right now, believe me, Indy.

Indiana: What do you mean?

Brody: Well, I mean that for nearly three thousand years man has been searching for the lost ark. It's not something to be taken lightly. No one knows its secrets. It's like nothing you've ever gone after before.

Indiana: [laughing] Oh, Marcus. What are you trying to do, scare me? You sound like my mother. We've known each other for a long time. I don't believe in magic, a lot of superstitious hocus pocus. I'm going after a find of incredible historical significance, you're talking about the boogie man. Besides, you know what a cautious fellow I am.

Just the facts, Ma'am

A clear distinction is evident....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Heading to the Beach

Taking the opportunity to go for a Sunday Drive with the Dog down to Horseneck Beach in Westport, MA ( See enclosed picture ). One of the advantages to living near the ocean is getting to go down to the sea and enjoy the beauty you will find along the waterfront...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cross in Middleboro, MA since 1959 now offends an unnamed lawyer

There have been a number of issues from people who are       " offended " because of a cross being displayed in a public area. The protesters claim it offends them and that by allowing it, the country is sanctioning one faith over another.


This country is a predominantly Christian-Judeo nation. We were founded on the freedom of religion, not non-religion. I am sorry that as an atheist, sun worshiper or member of some other belief, you feel that you are " offended " by anything that doesn't please you personally. I have three words for you -

Get Over Yourself.

This is a prime example of a case of "Tyranny of the Minority" plain and simple. Kudos to the Middleboro Selectmen for having the common sense needed to respond positively to  crappola from someone who got all worked up about a cross that has stood by the side of the road since 1959 in Middleboro, MA.

My final words to the unnamed Boston lawyer who made a stink about the cross in Middleboro

- Get a life.

Cross erected in 1959 draws controversy
By JANE LOPES - Middleboro Gazette Editor

MIDDLEBORO — It's 12 feet high by 7 feet wide, but it's likely that few people who drive by pay much attention.

The brick cross was erected in 1959 by the Kiwanis Club on a small triangle of land where one takes a right turn to head toward Middleboro center near the Trucchi's shopping center. The triangle and the cross have benefited from the ministrations of club members and other local organizations over the years, but the cross — which exhorts passersby to "worship" any way they choose, according to current Kiwanis President Robert Kinney — is in a fairly bedraggled state. Recently, someone stole the "worship" message from one side, presumably to obtain the copper backing.

Meanwhile, a Boston attorney passing through town around Christmas time last year noticed the cross and protested to the state Department of Transportation on the grounds that the cross violates the "separation of church and state" guarantee in the Constitution. MassDOT investigated and determined that all but three feet of one arm of the cross sits on town land. The attorney who complained to the state has been in touch with Kiwanis officials, but has taken no legal action to date.

Mr. Kinney appeared before the selectmen Monday night looking for support, which he received, for a plan to beautify the traffic triangle and preserve the cross.

"It's sitting there and looking pretty bad," Mr. Kinney said of the cross, which is believed to be one of a kind in terms of its design and construction. "The triangle it's on is really shabby."

In recent years, Mr. Kinney said he has tried to spruce up the area by fertilizing the grass and with plantings. But the salt spread during the winter on the nearby state highway, Rte. 28, damages the vegetation.

Mr. Kinney said he has some ideas about long-term preservation of what is, in his view and that of others, an historic landmark. He said the state has an "adopt a visibility" program where it assists local groups and businesses to preserve such landmarks. The care and maintenance of the triangle and the cross could be an Eagle Scout project, he said, or a project for all the town's service clubs.

Chairman of Selectmen Al Rullo wondered whether it makes sense to invest a significant amount of time and money in the project given the potential legal issues.

"This is going to be some legal issue," he said. "It's like a tree hanging over a property line. If the state decides they can't have that on state property ... I assume it can't be moved."

Mr. Kinney said he believes that is unlikely. He said pending resolution of the legal issues, he would at least like to "put some plants around short term and see what happens."

Selectman Stephen Spataro made a motion for the selectmen to support whatever efforts the Kiwanis Club or other groups undertake, and to offer guidance from the town's DPW.

"That's a landmark, for sure," he said.

His colleagues voted in favor of the motion.


Even though it doesn't seem so when you are far away from home, the Earth is a very small place. The enclosed picture from a Russian Satelite brings that point home.   Something to think about when you are traveling.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

USAF Airman makes it home in time to see birth of his Son

This is from The Chive, a cool website that posts goofy pictures and also supports our military 100%. Here is the story and all you need to know.....awesome. Way to go Dad !!

This is my best friend, Adam. His child had been in an improper position for birth for weeks and the doctor told them that their child had less than a 5% chance of turning (breeching). Two weeks before her due date, Adam and Rebecca were informed that the baby had finally turned. To avoid further complications they had to induce labor. One problem, Adam was not scheduled to be home on leave for 2 more weeks. Unknown to Rebecca, Adam went to his superiors and asked for 24 hours. He got it. Adam made it home less than two hours before the birth of baby Owen.

Chive, I'd love it if you could share this moment with the Chivers. God Bless the USA and the men and women who fight for its freedom. Oh, and Chive On!

POTUS just doesn't get it.....IT'S THE ECONOMY STUPID !!

Which is why we are where we are....record numbers on food stamps, highest number of unemployed & under employed, record foreclosures, loss of faith in our government... 

" Are you better off than you were 4 years ago ?" - That is the correct question. For the majority of Americans, the answer is no. The President has focused on other issues and we are headed in the wrong direction. We need to make a " course correction" in November and place Obama in the "unemployed" category.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Devotion from our K-9 Pals

The enclosed pictures show just the tip of the iceberg in how strongly our K-9 pals are devoted to us.

You could fill the pages of the web with all the instances where our 4-legged friends risked their lives to save the life of their human companions, in war and at home.

Anyone who doesn't have a dog in their life and has never taken on the responsibility of being a dog's best friend has missed out on something special.

"The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's."

- Mark Twain, Letter to W D Howells, 4/2/1899

Mom's Day

It's Mother's Day and those of us who have lost our Moms are missing them more.  We wish our Moms were here so we could let them know how well things turned out and to see the Grankids as they become young adults. 

Mom is in Heaven and keeping tabs on us I am sure but it would be nice to have her here to enjoy the day.

Mom, we miss you and love you.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Tip O'Neill, former Speaker of the House stated, " All Politics is local ". I could not agree more.

VOTE ADAM BOND for the 12th Bristol District Massachusetts House in the September 6th Primary and the General Election on November 6th.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I want my flying car.....

Oh, scratch that....The Government would require GPS & a computer to track my every move while using it.  Guess I'll have to enjoy driving my 1963 Jeep instead....

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Long May She Wave - Flags from the USS CONSTITUTION are auctioned in Philadelphia

Rare 28-star United States ensign from the USS Constitution, Texas flag, circa 1846, comprised of wool bunting, with 28 appliqued cotton stars. It brought $134,500. It was fitting that America's oldest auction house, founded in 1805, sold historic naval colors from America's oldest war ship, the USS Constitution

Rare and Early American Naval Flags Achieve Auction Records At Freeman’s -
May 8th, 2012

Philadelphia, Penn. - Freeman's marathon day of auctions on April 30 — American furniture, silver, folk and decorative arts followed by the Historic USS Constitution Colors from the collection of H. Richard Dietrich Jr — was a resounding success, realizing a combined total of $2.5 million. Provenance, uniqueness and overall high-quality generated excitement and interest from new and veteran collectors as well as institutions at home and abroad. The 11 flags and cannonball from the USS Constitution realized $784,500, were 100 percent sold and established 12 auction records.

Freeman's chairman, Samuel M. "Beau" Freeman II commenting on the sale, "In my 50 years here at Freeman's, this is one of the — if not the — most historic sale Freeman's has ever hosted. We are proud that the American public recognized the historic significance of these flags from 'Old Ironsides' and stepped forward to protect our nation's treasures into the future."

Highlights of the collection traveled to invitation-only events in Annapolis and Newport earlier in April. They came home to Freeman's for the public exhibition which opened with a champagne reception attended by the Dietrich family. After a week-long exhibition, the auction started at 6 pm to a full room of seated and phone bidders.

The auction kicked off with the English red ensign, which achieved $43,750, and the rare imperial Brazilian ensign that fetched $50,000. The French Republic commissioning pennant that later achieved $18,750 was eclipsed by lot No. 4, the 3-pound projectile "cannonball" removed from 'Old Ironsides' hull, which rocketed passed its estimate of $300/500 to its final price of $22,500.

"Interesting to know that an English cannonball does better than a French flag," said auctioneer and vice chairman Alasdair Nichol light-heartedly from the rostrum. An equally competitive situation arose for a US Commodore's broad pennant estimated at $4/6,000 that sailed up to its final price of $32,500.

H. Richard Dietrich, III, said, "We were pleased with the auction. It was a very special collection of naval flags. It has been an honor as a family to have had these flags over so many years, and we are excited that they have found new stewards to enjoy and care for them. Working with Freeman's throughout this whole effort has been a pleasure. Freeman's did a great job showcasing the inspiring story of the flags, their hard work was evident at every stage."

Tying for top lot status was a rare and early US Commodore's broad pennant from the USS Constitution , the oldest known representation of a US Commodore's "broad pennant," in use from 1837 to 1845 and inscribed on the hoist "Constitution Bradd pendend." This broad pennant dates from the period when the Constitution served as the flagship of both the Mediterranean Squadron (1837–1838) and the Pacific Squadron (1839–1842) under Commodores Jesse Duncan Elliot and Daniel Turner.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

CLUELESS NY TIMES STAFF might have to take pension downgrade...The horror.

Take a listen to the bucketheads at the NY TIMES whine about the possibility that they might have to take a reduction in pension benefits. The horror !!

Here's a bite of reality for you Mr. Media-Elite. Welcome to the new economy that the Democrats & dear leader Mr. Obama have given us...Share YOUR wealth Mr. Newspaper Elite !!. Here is what the rest of us have known for the past three years as we watched the DEMS spend us $5 TRILLION dollars further into debt.

Granted, the other side is not much better but they haven't figured out how to wreck things like Pelosi, Reed and Obama did in three years. These ingrates will get their pensions, just not a life-time of their full salary. That is reserved only for Municipal workers, State & Federal employees. The rest of us will have to get by on working in normal retirement age, add in what little social security is left and anything else we can do.

To work for a major newspaper and to act this clueless/entitled/elite is the sign of how badly the media does it's job. If they couldn't figure this crap out until now, how much other shite they write about is wrong also ?

Russel Mead lays it out in true Schadefreude...enjoy.

To quote John McClean from DIE HARD, " WELCOME TO THE PARTY PAL..."

At The NYT: Clueless Blue Deer Meets Onrushing Truck
Russell Mead - PJ Media

Schadenfreude alert: readers, and especially those who don’t much like the New York Times, should make sure they are not eating soup or holding hot liquids before viewing the video below. Uncontrollable gales of laughter stemming from excessive levels of schadenfreude may cause spilling and staining.

New York Times staffers, like suffering proles all over the world, belong to a labor union, and over the years the union has negotiated a very comfy defined benefit retirement plan. The staffers love the plan.

But economic reality is intruding. Times management, perhaps reading the coverage in its own pages about the companies and cities going bankrupt due to unsustainable union-bargained pension systems, wants to make a change. It wants to offer a defined contribution plan, instead. Workers and the company pay into a 401(k) plan, workers invest it, and when they retire, that is the amount they have towards their income.

It’s an entitled blue deer, meet onrushing truck kind of moment. The Guild is talking about a strike, and an array of Times staffers, including some famous bylines that are well known in news circles, worry aloud that the new plan could make them eat cat food and sleep in boxes on the street in old age. (Or late middle age, anyway; not one staffer talks about working past 65.)

Nobody in the video talks about the changes in the news business that threatens to drive the Times into a deep dive. Nobody talks about the prospect of future significant staff cuts if costs can’t be contained. None of them discuss the incongruity between their own naive sense of entitlement and what is going on in the cities, companies and countries they cover.

They just want the money.

Some writers allude to the prospect of leaving the paper if the pension change goes through, but a quick check of the newspaper business suggests they don’t have all that many options. Certainly with the exception of a handful of superstars the New York Times would have less trouble replacing its current staff than the current staff would have in replacing their jobs. And if those new jobs are in journalism, good luck finding a company with a generous defined benefit pension plan.

I sympathize with the Times staff about living in tougher economic conditions, but that is what people are adjusting to all over the world; I’m not sure what gives them an exemption. Newspaper reporters of all people should have seen this coming long ago, and have made savings and retirement plans on the assumption that their defined benefit plan would be going the way of the passenger pigeon and sooner rather than later.

If anything, their feelings of regret and chagrin should be tinged with at least a soup├žon of relief. In the end, a defined benefit plan is only as solid as the company behind it, and given the turmoil on today’s media landscape it’s not at all clear where the Times will be or how it will be restructuring its debt 20 years from now. The good thing about a defined contribution plan is that you don’t lose the money if your ex-employer goes broke.

For readers, this is a fascinating and revealing glimpse inside the Times bubble. I am not sure which is more disconcerting; the deeply embedded sense of blue entitlement so palpably on display or the poor political judgement that led the union brass to think that releasing this video to the public would be good PR. Either way it serves as a powerful illustration of just how fundamentally out of touch many of the people working at America’s most famous newspaper have become.

I like and admire many of the people who write for the Times. Some of them I have known for years and, happily, the judgment and sensibility behind this video doesn’t characterize everyone who works there. But I suspect that most viewers around the world are going to find this video funny and revealing rather than heartfelt and convincing.

Man's Best Friends - Our K-9 companions helped shape our civilzation

Scientist have given further evidence for what many of us already knew.  Our K-9 pals are a force in our lives and part of the reason why we have been able to evolve into the world's masters.  Dogs learned from us and we benefited from their partnership.

The findings of their study show what many of us who have a dog in our lives already knew.  Dogs watch us and learn from our emotions, actions and how we communicate with them.  Facial signals being the most important to them and also an intense desire to please us.  Dogs live for our praise and having a dog in your life has proven to be beneficial for health and safety.  There are many dogs that need a good home and if you are able to do so, look to adopt one from a shelter.

I have been overseas and have seen how much dogs help our troops and those in harm's way.  There can be no amount of praise that rewards these K-9 warriors for how much they do for our troops. 

In all ways, dogs are our best friends and I am glad to have them along on life's journey.

Doggy Daydreams: Brain Scans Reveal Fido's Thoughts

Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor

Date: 07 May 2012

Fido's expressive face, including those longing puppy-dog eyes, may lead owners to wonder what exactly is going on in that doggy's head. Scientists decided to find out, using brain scans to explore the minds of our canine friends.

The researchers, who detailed their findings May 2 in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, were interested in understanding the human-dog relationship from the four-legged perspective.

"When we saw those first [brain] images, it was unlike anything else," said lead researcher Gregory Berns in a video interview posted online. "Nobody, as far as I know, had ever captured images of a dog's brain that wasn't sedated. This was [a] fully awake, unrestrained dog, here we have a picture for the first time ever of her brain," added Berns, who is director of the Emory University Center for Neuropolicy.

Sit … stay … still

Berns realized dogs could be trained to sit still in a brain-scanning machine after hearing that a U.S. Navy dog had been a member of the SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden. "I realized that if dogs can be trained to jump out of helicopters and airplanes, we could certainly train them to go into an fMRI to see what they're thinking," Berns said.

So he and his colleagues trained two dogs to walk into and stay completely still inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner that looks like a tube: Callie, a 2-year-old feist, or southern squirrel-hunting dog; and McKenzie, a 3-year-old border collie.

In the experiment, the dogs were trained to respond to hand signals, with the left hand pointing down signaling the dog would receive a hot-dog treat and the other gesture (both hands pointing toward each other horizontally) meaning "no treat." When the dogs saw the treat signal, the caudate region of the brain showed activity, a region associated with rewards in humans. That same area didn't rev up when dogs saw the no-treat signal. [Video of dog experiment]

"These results indicate that dogs pay very close attention to human signals," Berns said. "And these signals may have a direct line to the dog’s reward system."

Mirror into human mind

The researchers think the findings open the door for further studies of canine cognition that could answer questions about humans' deep connection with dogs, including how dogs represent human facial expressions in their minds and how they process human language.

With such an evolutionary history between man and man's best friend, the studies, the researchers point out, "may provide a unique mirror into the human mind," they write.

"The dog's brain represents something special about how humans and animals came together. It’s possible that dogs have even affected human evolution," Berns said.

In fact, research published in the August 2010 issue of the journal Current Anthropology suggests our love of these furry four-legged creatures may have deep roots in human evolution, even shaping how our ancestors developed language and other tools of civilization.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Lesson from retired General Stanley McChrystal on Design, Teamwork and Leadership

I came across an issue of  Fast Company Magazine back when I was traveling for business and was intrigued with some of the best business writing I had ever seen.  These guys were writing on aspects of business that Forbes and others missed.  They changed the game of what business analysis/writing was and it made things better.

The enclosed video is from their website and features retired General Stanley McChrystal who led the Joint Special Operations Command.  He laid the groundwork for all the tactics we use in Iraq/Afghanistan and was instrumental in the War on Terror.  He got sacked because of the Rolling Stone article that gave a rather unflattering view of POTUS and how McChrystal felt about the administration.

The enclosed is a great mini-leadership lesson.  I would follow General McChrystal into battle as he is the real deal.  Obama is not and the difference in who is a real leader and who is not is plain to see for anyone.  Guys like McChrystal earned everything he has because he worked hard and sacrificed.  That is why his leadership lessons are the best you can get.  The Vactioner-In-Chief, not at all.  Take a listen, it is well worth your time.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

If the Feds stopped " cooking the books", the real unemployment rate would be 10.9%

This should come as no surprise to anyone....They are cooking the books to try to make things " look" better for OHB electioneering.....what a scam.

Lies, damned lies and government liars.

Lies, Damned Lies and Government Jobs Data
By Elizabeth MacDonald

Emac's Bottom Line - Published May 02, 2012 - FOXBusiness

There is lots of talk about the "fiscal cliff" the U.S. faces at year end, as stimulus and tax cuts go away.

So the last thing the government needs now is market distrust in its job numbers. But, as analysts dig into the government job numbers, questions are increasingly being raised about the reliability of the data, from questionable revisions in the weekly jobless numbers to the odd changes in unemployment rates.

For 59 out of the last 60 weeks, the weekly jobless numbers have been revised, after the fact, always in the same direction: higher. That's unheard of.

Those revisions higher make the present week’s unemployment number look better in comparison, more so since the markets often treat the prior week’s revision as an afterthought.

And there is statistical manipulation in the unemployment rate, too. The government’s reported unemployment number doesn’t include people who stopped looking for work, but who want jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the unemployment rate is dropping, and fell from 10% in October 2009 to 8.2% now. That’s got the White House and media pundits saying an economic recovery has taken place, and that the President’s stimulus bill, which cost more than $750 billion to date, has driven unemployment down towards 8% as promised.

However, the unemployment rate is the number of people out of work but who are actively looking. The government doesn’t count in that rate the now 6.3 million who have given up and stopped looking for work, but want jobs. That number has grown from 5.7 million in January 2009.

So, this "improvement" in the unemployment rate is artificial -- it was due to workers giving up and dropping out of the labor force.

The statistic to look at simply counts the people who are either working or not working. It sets aside the idiosyncratic manipulation whether they’re actively looking for work or not.

If the adult labor force participation rate stayed the same today as it was when the Great Recession ended in June 2009, at 67.5%, the unemployment rate would be 10.9%.

“Some 80% of the reduction” in the unemployment rate from 10% hit in October 2009 to today’s 8.2% “has been from adults quitting the labor force,” says economist Peter Morici.

Morici adds the unemployment rate “rises to 14.5% if you factor back in those who’ve stopped looking for work but would re-enter if there were jobs, as well as part-time workers who would prefer full-time positions.”

Yes, the number of people who have given up looking for work include retiring baby boomers. Still, there is no decent government data showing the number of actual, retiring baby boomers, only estimates. And there are no solid data showing the number of boomers retiring who still want to work.

Overall, government estimates show we have less people wanting to look for work as the population ages, and that’s bad for Social Security, which depends on workers funding it. The “labor force participation rate is declining as baby boomers retire, and what is striking is that decline even includes the number of students and immigrants looking for jobs,” says James Farrell, FOX News analyst.

So ask yourself this: As more people drop out looking for a job, is it right that the government counts it so the unemployment rate looks lower than it really is?

What’s important is the broader trend. Since President Obama took office, America has lost a net 740,000 jobs. But during the first 30 months of President Ronald Reagan’s economic recovery, which started in December 1982, total U.S. employment increased by 8.9 million jobs.

All of this was borne out in the disappointing April ADP employment report today on new private sector jobs, which arrives two days before the Dept. of Labor’s payrolls report for last month.

The ADP number came in showing 119,000 jobs were created in the private sector in April, while analysts had expected it would show that U.S. employers added 177,000 workers (still lower than the 209,000 increase recorded in March.)

It's important to note that the ADP jobs report has tracked the Labor Department’s numbers closely for the last 10 years, according to Charles Brady, senior editor at FOX Business.

“While there is often a wide variance between the two readings, the directional correlation is very strong -- they move in the same direction,” Brady says.

The engine of U.S. job growth, small businesses (those with 1-49 employees), reported a weak 58,000 jobs created, the third straight monthly decline and the lowest since August. Small businesses that produce goods lost jobs, too. Large businesses with more than 500 employees added just 4,000 jobs.

ADP says weather may have played a factor. Better hiring in the mild winter months could be leading to a “payback” in the spring, as businesses have already done the hiring they need for now. Still, all of this means it is unlikely there will be a decline in the unemployment rate Friday, unless the labor force shrinks again, which would not be good, either.

This Friday, forecasters expect the Labor Department to report the economy added 165,000 jobs in April -- better than the 120,000 in March, but still under the 212,000 rate for the first quarter, when the U.S. economy grew at just a 2.2% annualized rate.

The U.S. economy is creating jobs, but it is struggling, adding jobs at a rate of just 131,000 a month in 2011, which is not enough to reduce the unemployment rate.

Morici says the U.S. economy “must add 13 million jobs over the next three years -- 362,000 each month -- to bring unemployment down to 6%. GDP would have to increase at a 4% to 5% pace.”

So there you have it.

Since when does a nation’s labor force shrink during a recovery? It should not shrink, it should grow in a recovery. The labor force participation rate is at the rate it was in 1979 and 1982, even around the same rate it was back in 1969, while the worker population has grown dramatically since.

The rate now is 63.8%, trending at the 30-year low it just hit this past January, at 63.7%. Today there are 154.7 million people over age 16 who either have jobs or want jobs, but out of a much bigger total U.S. population of 16 or older, 242.6 million.

That’s around the same level in July 1982, when the labor force participation rate was 65.3%. There were 110.3 million people working or who wanted to work out of a smaller population of 172.2 million people aged 16 or older.

The labor force participation rate has stayed pretty much the same as it was in 1969, at 60.1%, and 63.8% in February 1979, when the total U.S. population of 16 or older was smaller. The same holds true for more than a decade ago, in April, 2000, when the employment-to-population ratio was 64.7%. That’s when the overall population was lower. at 282 million, versus the 310 million today