Sunday, December 28, 2008

Parent/teacher/student conference

This sounds like a logical and good new idea updating the parent/teacher conference - include the student!

Seems like a no-brainer, hopefully the educational establishment won't drag its feet as it does so often on progressive ideas like this.

Making these less formal and more inclusive would have major benefits I think. The more help you get in addressing issues from several angles (including uncles, grandparents and others), while in a low stress environment, the better. It might help bridge the gaps in understanding that can develop.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lights are off and noone at home

So ... where is the voice of the town right now?

We have no internet presence. Where are decisions being made, communication being performed, meetings being held? I have the feeling there isn't. The police didn't know about school until it was on TV. Who has power, who doesn't? Whats the plan? Who's in charge? What's the 911 coverage? Are emergency paths clear for fire and police?


As I type this I am on the second day of (luckily) getting a generator going. I say lucky because there were a limited number at the Home Depot here in town, so we ended up getting one (after several hours in line) after hearing about some down near Jewett City CT. And today we got phone and internet. Just no power. Without the generator, I have no other means of heat. With it it's bearable so long as i don't run it all the time and burn it out .... I have the feeling a lot of other folks are in the same shape. Hopefully they can find a place or head to the high school.

This is emblematic of what we need to improve here - in a time of crisis, we need to show a united front, have regular meetings and get one story out to everyone. Other towns do it. And they post it on the web. It's important. It's basic. It's an essential part of modern infrastructure. We need to do it and emphasize using it more.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pensions strain budgets

Thanks to the market and such. I wonder if our town payments have to rise because of this, have to make a note to ask the accountant.

Monday, December 8, 2008

How to avoid a cold

Hands mostly.

Not sneezing, not airborne stuff.

Those alcohol wipes don't work btw.

As for those increasingly popular alcohol-based sanitizing gels, sorry, but they may not measure up to plain soap and water. "Rhinoviruses like alcohol. They think it's tasty," says Hendley. For whatever reason, adds Zachary of MGH, "cold viruses are not as susceptible to alcohol-based hand disinfectants as other viruses and bacteria."

And what of the common assumption that the same nasty cold virus can get passed back and forth endlessly within a couple or family? Not true. Most of the time, the next round of colds is because of a new virus.

But if you find that you are recovering from a cold, only to feel sick again, it does not necessarily mean a new virus is at work. "Some cold viruses can be biphasic," says Hirsch, which means that the sufferer can feel sick, then feel better, and then feel sick again - all with the same viral infection. In addition, other microbes, including bacteria, can cause secondary infections such as sinusitis and ear infections.

Friday, December 5, 2008

On the other hand ... who's getting laid off? Men, mostly

Men. >1M men layed off last year, and 12K more women have jobs.

Men are losing jobs at far greater rates than women as the industries they dominate, such as manufacturing, construction, and investment services, are hardest hit by the downturn. Some 1.1 million fewer men are working in the United States than there were a year ago, according to the Labor Department. By contrast, 12,000 more women are working.

This gender gap is the product of both the nature of the current recession and the long-term shift in the US economy from making goods, traditionally the province of men, to providing services, in which women play much larger roles, economists said. For example, men account for 70 percent of workers in manufacturing, which shed more than 500,000 jobs over the past year. Healthcare, in which nearly 80 percent of the workers are women, added more than 400,000 jobs.

"As the recession broadens, the gap between men and women is going to close somewhat," said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. "But right now, the sectors that are really getting pounded are intensely male."

Probably has something to do with the gender gap in pay - men make more so they are more of a target in cost cutting times ....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More encouragement - there are jobs out there!

I like this report - jobs are out there. Not that this is a problem here in town, where we have only around 4% unemployment. And not that there's anything new in there but some good old advice - focused training yields $2 more per hour for trainees. They quote this study in there. You need to focus your training to target local industries and employers. Here's the free download for those interested.

More fodder to fight doom and gloom on the part of our fearful leaders - it's what I do ;)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ma unemployment rate up slightly

We're still below the nation by a point though. Mass rate is 5.5%, national rate is 6.5%. Here's the latest release.

Tech jobs are up for the year actually in the state ... here's a link to the latest rate.

Auburn is 4.1% - pretty low, the area is below the state average at 5.3%.

You can slice and dice the info a lot of ways - including by geographical area and job category.