No other options

  Bill had been driving all over the Adirondacks since early Friday morning.  I was in my car heading north to meet him.  I’d get occasional calls from him about the wintry conditions and iced-over lakes that he found.  Ice-out was late this year, so our original plan to canoe into the St. Regis Wilderness Area for a few days was scrapped.  Bill kept driving south and lower in elevation until he found open water.  We finally decided to fish Rock Pond, which is in the Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness Area.  Bill had been wanting to fish the pond for years, and he was sure that we had a chance to get some big brook trout.  We met around 11:00am and headed to the boat launch for Putnam Pond.  From there, we’d paddle about two miles to the canoe carry trail on the opposite end of the lake, and hike about[read more]

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Finding a niche for a small state

With its small size, lack of natural resources, and proximity to 2 large cities, Connecticut has a lot of disadvantages in today’s modern economy.  Businesses in today’s world that aren’t involved in extractive industries or don’t need to be near a port or other stationary feature can place themselves anywhere they want.  With a technology based business, there is less of a need to be anywhere specific.  With modern technology, businesses and their employees can be connected from anywhere, so it’s easy to pick a new home for your company based on cheaper taxes, lower wages, or whatever else a company is looking for.   This makes it hard for small, highly populated states like Connecticut to keep businesses in the state without offering tax cuts.  These tax cuts may work to preserve jobs, but the state doesn’t generate any revenue from the business.  That puts more tax pressure on[read more]

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$100 Blog Post

Things to think about when writing…

– Adapted from “Handbook of Technical Writing” (Alred, Brusaw, Oliu, 2012). Here’s a very abbreviated guide I made based on a similar guide in the above-mentioned book.  I summarized some stuff and added some of my own information to it, too.  I tried to condense the information into a brief guide—hopefully you can use it to make your writing as effective as possible. Preparation: Establish your purpose– What do you want your readers to know or do after they read your document?  Be specific, what exactly do you want to tell them? (for example, why you have this policy in place).  What exactly do you want them to do? (fill out a form, sign up for a class, etc.). Identify your audience (readers)- Who are your readers?  How do they feel about your topic? Bored, excited, interested, apprehensive?  What level of expertise in the subject do they have? Consider the[read more]

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Cost of bad hiring

What is the cost of a bad hiring decision?

Courtesy of http://greenjobinterview.com/2014/01/10-important-statistics-on-bad-hiring-decisions/ The average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30% of the individual’s first-year potential earnings. (From the US Department of Labor and Statistics) Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh once estimated that his own bad hires have cost the company over $100 million. 66% of employers said they experienced negative effects of bad hires in 2012. Of these employers, 37% said the bad hire negatively affected employee morale. (A study from the National Business Research Institute) 43% of respondents from the National Business Research Institute study said that “the need to fill the positions quickly” was the main reason that bad hires are made. It costs $7,000 to replace a salaried employee, $10,000 to replace a mid-level employee, and $40,000 to replace a senior executive. (-HR.com) As much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. (Harvard Business Review) 36% of 1,400 executives surveyed[read more]

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economy, minimum wage

Does increasing the minimum wage work in the long term?

I was thinking about a minimum wage increase and how it affects the economy long term.  I was wondering if the result would be similar to what happened to the U.S. housing market in the mid 2000’s. In that case, mortgage issuers were qualifying almost everyone for home loans, and it increased demand for entry level housing.  This had a negative effect on middle class wage earners and others who were looking for houses on the lower end of the price range, as there were many more buyers than there were a few years earlier.   So, if the government eventually raises minimum wage (probably not in the next few years), will this have an inadvertent negative effect on middle class wage earners?   I was thinking that, since purchasing power of lower income workers is increased, an increase in demand for certain goods would follow.  Those lower income earners[read more]

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Useful things I’ve learned working on vehicles

[I am not responsible for any injuries resulting from following any of these steps or ideas].  I will keep adding to this list as I think of things, so come back soon!   It’s easier than ever to get the right tool for the job.  You can order them off the internet, or head over to your local Harbor Freight and get a lot of specialty tools that you couldn’t get your hands on 10 or 15 years ago.  It’s worth it to invest in the right tool if you need it.   A welder is a great thing to have—you can make tools, make brackets and parts, fix rust holes, and fix exhausts.  A couple of repairs or fabricated tools will pay for an inexpensive 110-volt welder.  This summer, I used my welder to make a slide hammer that I used to change some axle bearings.  Later, I used[read more]

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backpacking, hiking, camping, first trip

5 tips for a successful first backpacking trip

You finished reading “A Walk in the Woods,” and you’ve decided to see if backpacking is for you. Follow these 5 guidelines to ensure that your first trip is a success: 1. Pick the right hike: Many people think of multi-day hiking and immediately picture some backpacker slogging up a mountain on the Appalachian Trail. However, do yourself a favor and stay in the lowlands for your first trip. There are many nice hikes along rivers or out to remote ponds that don’t require much climbing- so getting used to having all your stuff strapped to your back won’t be so bad. The weather is usually friendlier at lower elevations, too- and- if you do hike to that remote pond, you can pack a fishing rod to give yourself something to do before you hike back home. 2. Pick a good weather day: If you’re just starting out, chances are[read more]

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national park, shorebirds, conservation, plovers

Taking the people out of the National Park

Too often, environmental policy makers and park managers consider the natural environment without including humans as part of that environment. They seem to assume that a high level of human use always has a negative effect and that, to successfully manage a sensitive area, people have to be excluded from that area. By restricting human activities to protect species and areas of interest, regulators can lose the most important aspect of conservation–the empathy of the population. For example, consider Cape Cod National Seashore, a place that I visit at least twice a year. There is a program to protect shorebird nesting sites during certain times of the year. Certain areas of the dunes have been closed to protect nests from people and dogs; which is good. However, I have noticed a slow expansion of the project over the years, culminating last year when the beach I was walking on was[read more]

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flood, flood insurance, climate change, policy

Under the Flood…Can we save the flood insurance program?

The hurricane season of 2017 has reminded us again about the flaws in our federal flood insurance program. What was a law that was originally written to discourage development in flood prone areas has instead encouraged development in these areas by protecting property owners’ otherwise risky investments. A simple well-meaning policy decision has impacted thousands of lives and caused billions of dollars in damage in places like Houston, where floodplains and other low lying areas that should never have been developed now have thousands of homes and businesses on them. It’s time to modernize this program. We know the flood insurance program operates on a deficit, we know it’ll never be a profitable or beneficial system, and to continue it in its current form is a waste of taxpayer money. It is a program that encourages people to build and live in unnecessarily risky areas. The post-storm destruction causes environmental[read more]

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Getting the most out of interviewing candidates

It’s a waste of everyone’s time to bring someone in to an interview without a little preparation and research on the interviewer’s side. Hiring a new employee is an important decision, bringing in the wrong person can sink a small business or destroy a team’s morale. Therefore, an interview should be planned and prepared for to maximize the time involved –to get to know the candidate as much as possible. So, why “wing it” and ask the same questions to every candidate? Every candidate is unique, and deserves to be treated as such. Often, the pressure is on the candidate when preparing for the interview. They’re supposed to know all about the company and the job’s requirements. Also, they have to give detailed, thought provoking answers after being told to “tell me your biggest achievement” or “tell me a little about yourself.” As the one conducting the interview, put yourself[read more]

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Content Marketing

An Intro to Content Marketing

The old sales tactics aren’t quite as effective as they used to be. Your customers have access to much more information than they used to, and they can comparison shop and buy from online outlets all over the globe. They can read reviews from customers like them, and they no longer have to rely only on the seller for product information. The last thing a customer wants or needs is an old-fashioned salesman pushing products on them. That’s why building trust, educating customers, and keeping people connected to your business with online content is so important. What is content marketing anyway? According to the Content Marketing Institute, it’s “A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.” Content marketing is a strategy carefully developed to grow and sustain your business and its customer base. What are the[read more]

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$100 Blog Post

What really makes a good school “good”?

It seems a little weird that schools within the same state are labeled “good” or “bad” when the standards for qualified teachers are the same throughout the state. It’s not like the “bad” schools are full of incompetent, poorly educated teachers—often, these schools get the teachers fresh out of college who are taught all the latest methods, and I would think that most new teachers are eager to make a difference. Could one of the biggest factors in whether or not a school is “good” have nothing to do with the school itself? Maybe it’s who goes to the school—the students and their families. Most people want their kid to attend a good school. A lot of parents are willing to pay a premium for this. People who care about education tend to be well-educated themselves, or grew up with parents who cared about education. This education leads to a[read more]

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Are fisheries management programs too passive?

After I graduated college, I spent 3 years bouncing around as a fisheries research assistant with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  Of 18 total months of seasonal work, I can remember 3 days where we did work related to improving an area’s ecology.  Two of those days were spent sampling fish populations after habitat restoration work was completed.  One was spent helping a volunteer group remove invasive plants from a pond and river system.   That means that the other approximately 17 months and 28 days were spent either monitoring a fish population, stocking fish or talking to people about stocking fish, analyzing data collected when monitoring fish populations, or fixing equipment used to monitor fish populations.  Oh, and sometimes we monitored water quality, or repaired equipment used to monitor water quality.   This type of management regime relies on collecting population data using the same methods every[read more]

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commuting

Why is There an Average Increase in Commute Times?

“The Census’s 2015 American Community Survey data, released last fall, show that the average American commute crept up to 26.4 minutes in 2015, or about 24 seconds longer than the previous year. Multiply it all out — 24 seconds per commute, twice a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year — and in 2015 the typical American could expect to spend about three hours and twenty minutes longer getting to and from work than in 2014. The Census data show the longest commutes are also the fastest growing. The total 16-and-over workforce — from which these numbers are derived — grew by roughly 1.7 percent from 2014 to 2015 (148.3 million workers). But the number of workers with 45-minute commutes grew even faster (3.5 percent). The number with hourlong commutes grew even faster than that (5.1 percent). And workers with extreme commutes — 90 minutes or more — grew by the fastest[read more]

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Changing the way employers search for candidates

Is it time for employers to revamp the way they find candidates? America’s job market is structured so there are many more applicants per job listing. This is because jobs are advertised on multiple massive job networks like monster, linkedin, and indeed that deliver the postings to an unlimited number of people daily. A recent google search for “job search sites” yielded 547,000 results. The current system encourages quantity over quality- applicants can send out as many applications as they have time for, thus adding to the heap of resumes that employers and recruiters have to sort through. How, as an employer, do you trim that pile down to a reasonable number? Spend “six seconds” reviewing each resume. Sure, once we do that, we’ll bring them in for a 12 second interview. I know, you can use a computer program that scans resumes to find key words, targeting the resumes[read more]

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Is Oyster Aquaculture Preventing Wild Oysters From Returning?

I’ve been interested in shellfish aquaculture for years, and lately the industry has grown exponentially in both size and popularity. Most people tout all the benefits that the farms provide. Shellfish get all their food by filtering it out of the water, so you can grow shellfish without having to feed them anything. As filter feeders, they also clean the water while growing. This is very different from finfish aquaculture, which introduces excess food and fish waste into the environment. A shellfish farm seems like a totally positive thing; it provides food while also removing nutrients from the water. This nutrient removal is especially important in places like Long Island Sound, which borders my home state of Connecticut. Long Island Sound is New England’s drainage basin, collecting all the excess nutrients and concentrating them in the western part of the Sound. The nutrients cause algae blooms, and when the algae[read more]

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How Online Retail is Fighting Big-Box Sprawl

It appears that the biggest weapon in the fight against urban sprawl and homogenization of retail in America might be online shopping. The huge selection that you could find at a place like Wal-Mart isn’t much of a novelty anymore. The appeal of having that much stuff to choose from just isn’t there now, thanks to retailers like Amazon.com. There, you have a huge selection available to shop at your convenience, and a lot of the merchandise can be shipped to you in two days. Anything else that you may need quicker is usually available at those pharmacy-convenience stores, dollar stores, or other smaller retail stores. In 2015, Amazon.com passed Wal-Mart as the biggest retailer in America. Wal-Mart had the largest advantage of the big-box chains with their immense network of warehouses and an efficient supply chain that allowed them to price things lower than most stores. They’ve now lost[read more]

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Time Wasters

“I took a new job—it pays less but I can work as much overtime as I want to make up the difference.” “I paid a little more for the car than I was comfortable with but I can make it up by working Saturdays.” I know there are times when overtime is necessary. Maybe there are problems at work and you’re behind. Or, maybe you’re short-staffed at work because someone quit or they’re out on vacation. Sometimes, things happen at home and you need to pay some extra bills. What I find disturbing is seeing people choosing careers and lifestyles that force or depend on long hours at work when they have alternatives that offer more free time. I know, everyone has their reasons—I just don’t understand most of them. Those two quotes up there—I’ve heard variants of them a lot lately. I don’t understand why you would choose to[read more]

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A friendlier way to protect the environment…

I sat on the beach one early summer day and watched a young Environmental Protection employee scolding passersby for walking too close to the roped off bird nesting area. I noticed their dismissive “she’s just a crazy treehugger” look and started thinking about some of the environmental advocates I’ve known and their typical approach to issues and conservation. For the record, I studied environmental policy in college, did fisheries research for three years and volunteer on my town’s wetlands commission. I am an advocate of effective environmental policy even though I have a few reservations about how it’s done. I feel like some environmental advocates are disconnected from average citizens. They focus on wildlife only and leave people out of the equation, like we aren’t part of nature and should step aside to let the earth finish what it was doing without our interference. People are as much a part[read more]

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Rebuilding Hartford on a Budget

I feel like most plans to revitalize our state capital involve lots of demolition and rebuilding. Sure, some crumbling city infrastructure has to go, but there is plenty of vacant space around the city. Why can’t a revitalization plan include some frugality instead of just big budgets and big dreams? Walking around downtown, I look into empty office after office and see “For Rent” or “available” signs. Some see that as a problem– I feel like it could be a big opportunity for our state. I recently read an article from the Hartford Courant about the availability of small office spaces in the city. So, Hartford has plenty of vacant, low rent (compared to nearby Boston and New York) buildings near a nice if somewhat empty downtown area. People need a little encouragement to move in so here’s my unsolicited ideas—feel free to argue against it at any time. I’m[read more]

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