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Sacking Demoulas

July 17, 2014

My first job was at the Shop’n’Save (Hannaford) in Seabrook.  It was a great job.  They has really smart managers who took great pride in product and presentation.  I was part of their transient work force.  We cam in for a few summers then went to college and got real jobs.

My second job was at Demoulas (Market Basket) in Seabrook.  Demoulas was not as polished as Shop’n’Save.  The store manager looked like he probably got his start sacking groceries.  If he did, good for him.  Rumor had it that he made $100,000 a year in salary plus as much in bonus running Demoulas’ flagship store.  Demoulas was a meritocracy.  If you sacked well, you got a shot at stocking.  If you stocked well, you got a shot at night crew.  The work force wasn’t transient.  Kids who were not going to college got an opportunity to be ‘full timers’ and a lot of those kids got a chance to be managers as Demoulas expanded throughout New Hampshire.  I love to run into a kid I sacked groceries with who is running his own store.

I run into those kids a lot because, as an adult, I have come to appreciate Market Basket for it’s value propositions — first rate product, great service, and terrific prices.

The Demoulas family has been a mess since I was a teenager.  Now the feud has resulted in the ousting of Artie as CEO.  This action has upset employees and customers of the grocer.  Employees have threatened an action if Artie is not restored as CEO.  The pretend CEOs have promised to replace employees who support Artie.  If they do that, a lot of other grocers will get better.  The board of directors (who owe their livelihood to Artie Demoulas) will meet Monday to discuss this matter.  I plan to call their switchboard tomorrow and let the operator know that I will not set foot in a Demoulas/Market Basket until Artie is reinstated.  If you would like to express an opinion on this, here is the number…

1 (978) 851-8000

The switchboard is open at 7:00am Monday-Friday.  Just politely inform the operator that you support the guy who has filled your shopping cart without emptying your wallet and will not patronize the company unless Artie is reinstated.

In this age of combative management-employee relations, it is rare that a corporation enjoys commercial success while satisfying its customers and sustaining its employees.  Artie Demoulas has done that.  Demoulas, Inc. will not.  Tell the ‘suits’ in the family, you support the grocer in the family.

Will Obama Save America?

July 15, 2014

If his presidency has this impact on 10% of the people who voted for him, Obama will honestly be able to claim to have made America a better place…

 

Broadcast Television

June 12, 2014

I had to take down the url and change the password because someone was recording shows.  Without controlling access to the device, the FCC might construe this as a public showing.  If you would like to borrow my antenna, send an email to me with full name.  If I can confirm that you are local, I will send you the url and password so that you have exclusive use until someone else requests access.

In May of 2010, I replaced Comcast with an antenna, Netflix, and Fairpoint high speed internet.  At that time, my my Comcast bill was $170 per month.  I pay $45 for Fairpoint and $8 for Netflix.  Over the course of four years, we have saved $5,616.  Comcast has probably raised rates in the last four years, so my savings has probably been greater.

My reason for changing was complicated.  After we lost power in 2008, I purchased a generator.  Initially I put an antenna in the attic so we could be entertained and informed during any future outage.  During the 2010 outage, we watched broadcast television for a week.  There were a lot of channels and quality was very good.  About this time, Comcast began their transition to digital cable.  We had one TV on a DVR and others simply plugged into the cable.  During the transition, Comcast moved many HD channels to frequencies that required a box.  When my antenna delivered more HD channels than box-less Comcast, I pulled the plug.

Since then, I have added DVRs and streamers.  At this point, we enjoy a better entertainment experience than we did when we had Comcast.  In Danville, you can expect to bring in 36 stations with a stationary antenna.  With a rotor, you can add another dozen stations by pointing to Portland or Londonderry (WBIN).

If you would like to sample our local broadcast offerings, feel free to ‘borrow’ my antenna.  Send me an email: DanvilleDelivery@gmail.com.  Include your address.

FYI, https://us.simple.tv is a web interface to a DVR sitting in my basement.  Click on a show in the Home screen to watch it live.  Click on a show in the Guide screen to schedule a recording.  Watch the recordings in the My Shows screen.  We can also access the DVR using a Roku streamer or an android device, so I was able to watch the Red Sox from an airport in Detroit and catch the news from the side of my pool.  All of the channels except WENH (PBS 11) and WMUR (ABC 9) are received on a stationary 91XG uhf antenna.  WENH and WMUR are captured with a Y5-7-10 vhf antenna.

 

Fairpoint Knows Your Password!

June 3, 2014

I called Fairpoint this morning because I could not access my email.  I was surprised when the tech support guy asked for my password.  I was more surprised when, after I declined to provide the password, he was able to ‘look it up’ in his records.  This is a really poor indication of how Fairpoint safeguards our personal information.  Fairpoint customers should…

  • make sure they do not share a password between their Fairpoint account and any other account
  • not use their Fairpoint email to transact any private or financial buiness
  • not store any financial data on their Fairpoint account — including accounts for epay transactions

June 6, 1944

May 29, 2014

June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end on June 6, the Allies gained a foot- hold in Normandy. The D-Day cost was high -more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded — but more than 100,000 Soldiers began the march across Europe to defeat Hitler.

 

Metzler Announces Class Time Audits

May 18, 2014

from http://timberlaneandsandown.wordpress.com/

[A]t the May 8th meeting Dr. Metzler announced a full audit of the amount of time teachers and students are actually spending in class and he has vowed a crackdown on classroom absences by students for competing activities.  Dr. Metzler says that he will be curtailing these competing activities during the instructional day and moving more of them after school.  This is long overdue and could go a long way to helping academic achievement.

At my first meeting with Dr. Metzler, I challenged him to ensure that our children, his students, were in the classroom 180 full days each year with their assigned instructor learning the subject of the class.  Apparently, this is now on his radar.  Apparently, Dr. Metzler finally sees that there could be a link between teaching the right things well 180 days each year and performance.  While I applaud this, I am concerned that he is focused on a small piece of this problem.  Pulling kids from classes for ‘other activities’ is disruptive, but in Timberlane’s ocean of disruption, this is only a small ripple.

You have to start with the instructors.  A school board member once confided in me that Timberlane teachers average 12 absences for illness each year.  When there are only 180 days, 12 days represent 7% of the academic calendar.  Teachers are routinely removed from the classroom for parent meetings and professional development.

Then there is the Timberlane Vacation Club which pulls students and teachers from the classroom to vacation in Orlando, New York, DC, Montreal, and Europe.  When the school board sanctions one of these vacations the vacationing students miss all of their classes while other students miss any classes taught by the vacationing teachers.  During the last Disney vacation, kids and teachers missed two days of school or a little more than 1% of the academic calendar.

The 2013-14 calendar includes four planned early release days — more than 2% of the academic calendar.  Of course, there were also unplanned early release days and late starts for weather and two Blizzard Bag Days.  In February, students had a winter break, preceded by a teacher development early release day, a weather related early release day, and a Bag Day.  One one of the bag days, one teacher let the kids complete their assignment in the preceding class sacrificing another day of teaching.  Just last week, classes were truncated to celebrate being awarded the New Hampshire Excellence in Education Award.  That’s right, Timberlane celebrated Academic Excellence by cutting class.  (This award is not a measure of student performance.)

The last time I studied this problem, I found that my Timberlane student was only in the classroom with all of his assigned instructors for an unabridged lesson for only 155 days — about 86% of the academic calendar.  Anecdotally, the problem is worse today.  My freshman was in a science class in which no student would have been allowed to pass if he or she had missed as many days as the instructor.  The problem may be much worse since absenteeism data is unavailable for reasons of privacy and TRSD does not track the days a teacher is in the classroom.

For me, the metric of this problem is straightforward: for each class, have the instructor submit a teaching plan with a measure of how much time was spent on the plan and how much of the class the instructor was in the room.  When we learn how few days our kids are in the classroom working with their assigned instructor on the assigned subject matter, no one will be surprised at the poor performance of the school district.

Dr. Metzler, please publish a report showing how many days this year my TRSD student was in the classroom with his assigned instructor learning the assigned subject.  As soon as you start measuring this, things will improve.

The Case for Keurig

May 6, 2014

I tend to think of myself as a frugal person.  It’s not that I am not willing to spend money as much as it is that I demand value worthy of the funds surrendered.

Last week, I purchased a Keurig single serve coffee maker.  It wasn’t really an impulse buy, I had been considering a single serve brewer, was familiar with the various models, and had done the math on the per cup costs.  I had even sampled a number of K-cups to ensure I would not be disappointed with the quality of the product.

How expensive is single serve coffee?  Let’s do the math…

The Keurig OfficePRO Single-Cup Commercial Coffee Brewer was $92.99 at Staples – 25% for one time office supplies coupon ($69.74) – 25% rewards ($52.31) – $10 in ShopDiscover discounts ($42.31) – $25 Staples gift card or $17.31.  $17 won’t buy you a decent drip coffee maker never mind a commercial single serve brewer.  Initial investment is a good value.

I use Dunkin Donuts coffee in my drip coffee maker.  We routinely get 12 oz bags for $5.99.  A 12 oz bag makes 40 6 oz cups of coffee.  The Keurig K-cup makes a 10 oz cup of coffee.  40×6/10=24 k-kups for $5.99 or $0.25/K-cup.

To date, my best price for K-cups is 7×24 packs for $51.73 – $15 coupon ($36.73) – $5 shopdiscover discount – $1.83 Staples rewards or $29.90 ($0.18/cup).  Looking at prices at Kohls, Staples, Best Buy, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I calculate $0.42 per K-cup as a reasonable, repeatable price.

42/25= 1.68, so a K-cup costs about 70% more than a drip cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee.  Since I tend to have three cups of coffee per day, you could say that I’m paying $0.51 per day for this extravagance or $186.15 per year.

So, what value do I get for $186.15 per year?  For starters, I am not pouring ‘old’ coffee down the drain (or my throat).  I also have the luxury of brewing one cup of coffee after dinner.  Most importantly, I am sampling all sorts of amazing beverages.  This is surprisingly satisfying to me.  The 48 oz water reservoir is available for hot water as well.  I’m pretty happy with the value I get out of the single serve experience.  It’s less expensive to own and use than I expected.  I love the variety of beverages.  What I value most, though, is having a cup of coffee when I want it.

For this frugal person, the Keurig single server coffee maker is a good value.  I am sampling a lot of cups.  Here are the ones I recommend…

  • Caribou Coffee Caribou Blend
  • Celestial Seasonings Southern Sweet Perfect Iced Tea (just like at a restaurant in the South)
  • Coffee People Original Donut Shop Coffee
  • Donut House Chocolate Glazed Donut (great iced coffee)
  • Emeril’s Big Easy Bold Blend (set to 10 oz.)
  • Starbucks House Blend Coffee (good black)
  • Tully’s Italian Roast Coffee

Best deal on K-cups…

  • Staples has 24 packs of K-cups for as little as $9.99 ($0.42/cup) which can be discounted by recurring 20% off coffee ($0.34), 25% back in rewards ($0.32), 25% off office supplies ($0.32), $25 off $75 ($0.29).  You can also use Discover Cash Back gift cards ($20 for a $25 gift card) to reduce that cost by 20% and get 5% in Shop Discover Cash Back plus 5% in Staples rewards.
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