Thoughts On A Sunday

We had two wonderfully warm days towards the end of the week. A lot of the snow surrounding The Manse is now greatly diminished, with the slope directly in front almost completely bare. Saturday's somewhat cooler temps slowed the continuing melt, but didn't stop it.

If it keeps up like this it's quite possible all the snow covering the open areas of our property will be gone by April.


BeezleBub and I made some progress on his Jeep, getting it running again. It still needs some TLC in the form of a new distributor cap, rotor, plug wires, and a new circuit to the electric choke on the carburetor, something we'll be taking care of over the period of the next week.


This weekend was the annual New Hampshire Maple Syrup Open House, where sugar houses all across the state welcomed visitors to see (and in some cases take part in) the process by which sap from sugar maples is boiled down to make maple syrup. (What? You thought maple syrup comes from the local supermarket? Get real.)

The WP Father-In-Law sugars every year, making enough to supply the whole family until the following year.


One slightly unpleasant surprise this morning: Internet and phone service was out here at The Manse. After searching for a copy of our cable bill to get the customer service phone number (for some reason, my lovely wife really doesn't like keeping phone books around), I pulled out my cell phone and contacted the cable company. They informed me service in my neighborhood had been out since 5AM and that their tech was working on the problem.

After the call, I looked again at the cable bill and saw the total we've been paying for Internet and digital phone service. I did not like what I saw. (Deb is the business manager/finance director here at The Manse, so this is the first time I've seen the cable bill in a couple of years.)

This has prompted me to consider some options, including doing away with the landline altogether and using just our cell phones (not an option with which I am comfortable), or using Verizon's Home Connect, which converts our landline over to a wireless connection, but uses our existing telephones. It's cost is minimal compared to our digital phone service and allows us to keep our existing phone number.


I think I'm going to keep a copy of this handy just to save time. It would certainly reduce the time wasted on faux discussions to a minimum and allow me to focus on actual discussions where one or both of the parties learn something new.


The more I watch the President's actions (or lack of them) in regards to Libya, Japan, and a host of other national and international issues, I've come to realize that Hillary Clinton is more presidential than Obama. As Glenn Reynolds wrote more than once, “Hillary Clinton – the best wartime president in history.”

Her frustration with the President is starting to show, though they are subtle for the time being. I have a prediction I'm going to throw out there, one I hope those of you out there will remember:

Hillary Clinton will resign her position as Secretary of State before the end of the year and run against Obama for president...and beat him.

You heard it here first.

But Professor Jacobson has a different take, that being she'll be the fall guy if things in Libya go badly.

Not that it will hurt her chances if she decides to run against The One.


Ron Enderland reminisces about Expo 67 in Montreal, all triggered by a visit to Epcot in Orlando.


Adding yet another voice to the discussion about government mandated energy efficiencies for household appliances comes this comment from the original WSJ opinion piece.

The life expectancy of newer washers (made in the last 15 years or less) are 1/2 - 1/3 what the older models were. How environmentally friendly is it to be producing machines that have that short of a life span? Our family cannot afford to be buying "energy efficient" machines every 8-10 years. Please do think. I'm neither an economist nor do I keep close tabs on earth-friendliness, but even I can figure out that the resources used in making these machines at 2-3 times the demand there used to be MIGHT be costing us more than the bits of energy saved in their use. Not to mention the cost in landfill space.

Indeed. Though I think the part about “the last 15 years” is going back too far. I'd say more like the past 8 to 10 years. An 8-10 year lifespan may be overly generous as well, particularly if you are dealing with a family of four and the amount of laundry they generate every week.


Tom Bowler has an interesting idea for a flat income tax, what he calls the 20-20 plan.

I propose a 20-20 tax plan -- 20% with a $20,000 exemption. The first $20,000 of taxable income would be exempted, with taxable income being total income minus any actual expenses incurred earning it. A 20% tax rate would apply to the what's left. So, taxable income of $20,000 or under would result in $0 income tax due. A taxable income of $25,000 would result in a net of $5,000 subject to the 20% rate and $1,000 due in income taxes, which equates to an actual tax burden of 4.00% of total taxable income.


I used 20% and $20,000 because 20-20 is kind of a catchy name, but the numbers don't matter so much as the concept. We could cure a lot of ills with a simplified and sensible tax code.

A sensible tax code? Sign me up!


With the warmer temperatures we've been seeing, our consumption of firewood has dropped considerably. We have a wood box next to the Official Weekend Pundit Woodstove that holds enough fire wood to heat The Manse for one day during most winter days. Now that same amount heats for a little over two days. Other than a few more up-an-down temperature days over the next few weeks, I expect the need to keep the fires going will drop off quite a bit over that time, meaning we'll only need to run the wood stove from mid-evening and over night.

That suits me just fine.

As Deb also reminded me, in another month and a half we'll be able to put up the Official Weekend Pundit Clothesline and start using it to dry our laundry.

That also suits me just fine.


Along with the warmer weather comes a change in BeezleBub's work routine.

Over the winter he spent most of his time at the farm splitting, stacking, or delivering firewood. This weekend that all changed, with him working in one of the greenhouses filling pots with soil, getting them ready for tomatoes and other vegetables. Unless there's a special need, he's done with fire wood until late next fall. It will all be farming from now till then.


Apparently Rand Paul and I aren't the only ones that wish to be able to keep buying incandescent light bulbs. Jacob Sullum is of the same mind, not wanting to be forced to buy more costly, less reliable CFLs that, quite frankly, don't do all that good a job.

It isn't that we don't use them here at The Manse. We do. But we only have them in lights we use all the time. They don't work very well outside, particularly in the dead of winter, and they don't last long in applications where they're constantly being turned on and off. Then there's the mercury to deal with when disposing of them, or worse, breaking them.

I'd be happy to use LED bulbs, but they cost too much and we still don't have enough of a track record to see how long they'll last. I also have my suspicions that they won't be as hardy as incandescent bulbs in regards to voltage surges and spikes coming down the power lines. (Semiconductors, which is what LEDs are, are notoriously fussy when it comes to things like that.)


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where open water can no be seen here and there, lone bob-houses are left on the lake, and where we have snow forecast for Monday.