Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Governor Peter Shumlin's Private Airline.

So in the 12 years that Jim Douglas was Governor of Vermont, not once did he utilize the official Vermont owned airplane (a Cessna 172). In the 2 years that Peter Shumlin has been governor he’s used it 5 times, including once for a personal campaign appearance.  The Governor, now that he’s been “made aware” he used it for personal business, has assured us he will pay the $65 cost of the flight

Much to the surprise of many Vermonters that didn’t know we even owned an airplane,  and questioned why in state where you can drive from any point to any point in around 2 ½ hours would the Governor need to be flying there? Many were even more surprised, some might even say outraged, by this little following tidbit of information.

Apparently Tom Cruise, er, I mean Peter Shumlin likes flying around the state SO much that he slipped in a $1.5 MILLION Dollar request in the upcoming budget for a spiffy new twin engine, six seat, style of aircraft. Something like a Beechcraft Baron G58. A plane with a top speed of 200 knots and a range of 1700 Miles.
You can imagine in a State where our legislature is proposing a tax on heating fuels, and is looking for how we’re going to pay for $1.2 Billion dollars to cover Peter’s idea of universal healthcare, that to find the Governor somehow feels justified in requesting a few million so he can fly around in style as being perhaps a bit out-of-touch.

One even might question if the type of aircraft being requested has perhaps ulterior motives? Where a Cessna is very good airplane to survey say flood damage from the air, something you could see a Governor doing. A Baron G58’s stall speed is nearly 100 mph (a Cessna’s is 47) kind of tough to really get a sense of damage when blow over it at triple digit speeds. A Cessna’s wings are above the fuselage giving nice unobstructed views of the ground; where as a Baron G58’s wings are below the fuselage, making ground observation very difficult. Just those two points alone eliminates the Baron from being anything much other than a flying point-to-point limo.

Ah yes a nice flying limo, that can not only take you from Montpelier to say Newport, but could also take you from Montpelier to say Washington, DC, or New York City, or even the island of Dominica, if one wanted. All paid for on the Vermont taxpayers dime. Unless of course you get questioned about it and then some of those trips might get paid for out-of-pocket, right Governor?

One of the first things that Peter Shumlin did when he became Governor 2 years ago, was by executive decree, kill a much needed road project here in the state. Incredibly perplexing as to why he would do such a thing, now I understand. When you don’t really drive on Vermont roads, and instead fly over them, the impact of having a lack of said roads doesn’t really bother you does it.

Ultimately the request for the airplane has since been “nixed” according to Transportation Secretary Brian Searles. Nixed of course after being discovered and questioned by the Vermont taxpayer, which seems to be a trend with this administration, back peddling after questioning.

Our Governor really likes the concept of transfer of wealth. While some of that transfer is of the “Robin Hood” mentality of, “taking from the rich to give to the poor”, the vast majority of Peter’s wealth grabbing is for the State government. Vermont is the 3rd highest taxed state in the union and the demands for more tax money just keep on coming. Then again when a “Socialism is for the people, not the Socialist” display of personal conveniences, such as a Beechcraft Baron G58 is brought to light, it’s not hard to understand why.  

Oh and the last piece of this flight saga, was that Brian felt the need to mention in addition to nixing the new plane, the old plane the Cessna is “not safe to fly and will not be used by any state officials.”; Which can be looked as a mea culpa from Peter, or simply setting the stage for another attempt to slip in a few million bucks for a new air-limo.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

2013 Might It Be Time To Blog Again?

2013 Might It Be Time To Blog Again?

With the advent of Facebook and the accumulation of "friends" that equal a built in captive audience to read your pithy opinions on everything from food to politics it's tough not to run there with every little thing you want to say.

What I found though is that the downfall of Facebook is that such opinions and indeed occasional literary brilliance is at best fleeting. A post goes up, and unless it goes viral with tons of shares it evaporates in the tsunami of post that follow it, and no one later gets to ruminate on your attempt to educate or entertain them unless they happen to be specifically cruising your Facebook account.

It just might be time to start blogging again. At worst you can link any "deep thought" responses to others inane ramblings back to the blog and drive traffic here.

Hmmm we'll see!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Traveling Tip For Lost Baggage

Having experienced the HELL of being on a business trip for Star Trek new Voyages and having the airline lose my baggage and my prescription meds for THREE DAYS, I wish I had known this at the time.

I'm reposting this on my blog so that I have unfettered access to it, should someday I (or anyone) has the same problem:

A directive from the U.S. D.O.T. to all airlines. This notice, issued last October, informs airlines that they cannot place arbitrary limits on compensation, not only when bags are lost, but even if they are merely "delayed." Read the directive in full.

As a result, airlines have been fined and some have changed the language on their websites dealing with delayed bags. For example, I found this on

"Delta requires that receipts be presented for all reasonable expense reimbursements incurred due to the delay of a passenger's bag. Reasonable expenses generally are $50 for the first 24hrs and $25 per day for the next 4 days the bag is delayed. The guidelines for reasonable expenses are NOT daily limits or a cap and additional expenses may be incurred and should be handled on an individual basis up to the limit of liability [emphasis added, which, by the way, Delta doesn't specify--more on that below]. Any disbursements will be deducted from the final settlement if the bag is not located."

Clearly, $25 or $50 per day is not enough to salvage a wedding, a ski trip, or an important business presentation. And the D.O.T. has made it clear that there are circumstances where passengers are entitled to dress appropriately at their destination, and replace needed sports and equipment and supplies.

The U.S. D.O.T. directive refers to the maximum $3,300 in liability that airlines face for wholly domestic U.S. trips. A lower level of compensation applies to international trips, usually governed by the Montreal Convention, which is currently 1,131 "Special Drawing Rights." (The value of an SDR is calculated daily, but as of this writing one SDR is equivalent to $1.55). But the D.O.T. is going after foreign airlines as well.

In January, for example, the D.O.T. fined Alitalia $80,000 for "violations...of Article 19 of the Montreal Convention and the statutory prohibition against unfair and deceptive trade practices, 49 U.S.C. § 41712, in connection with monetary claims resulting from delay [emphasis added by me] of checked baggage on Alitalia flights to or from the United States. It directs Alitalia to cease and desist from future similar violations of Article 19 and section 41712. The consent decree continues, "Article 22 of the Convention currently sets the liability limit for damages associated with lost, damaged, or delayed baggage at 1,131 Special Drawing Rights for each passenger.1 Article 19 provides that a carrier is liable for damage caused by delay in the carriage of baggage, except to the extent that the carrier proves that it took all reasonable measures to prevent the damage or that it was impossible to take such measures. Further, Article 26 states that any contractual provision tending to relieve a carrier of liability or to fix a lower limit than that which is laid down in the Convention is null and void."

So bookmark (and tweet and share) this page. And the next time your checked bag is delayed, don't settle for showing up at the wedding in your gym clothes.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hollywood and Hidden Creativity

Update 10/11/11: In a timely piece of related information. Disney get's sued for patent infringement in regards to a way to create animation.

This is an article I wrote detailing the lack of Intellectual Property creativity in the film industry.

Discovering Intellectual Property Behind the Camera

The film industry is a business sector that is well acquainted with protection of intellectual property (IP). Unfortunately, that protection has historically focused on digital media rights, trademarks, and copyright and has overlooked the numerous other aspects of IP that offer potentially lucrative outcomes.

Having worked on several movies and seen firsthand the inventive and creative processes of not only the actors, but the crew on the set, I can say with some authority that there are inventions, trade secrets, and processes that are passing in and out of the soundstage door on every movie being made.

Even months before the first frames of “film” are shot (very few studios actually use real film these days; most film digitally), as well as throughout shooting, dozens of people are working in the background setting up the soundstage or location shots. In addition, there are people creating storyboards, costumes, and music. All of these skilled craftspeople, regardless of their title (be it Camera Operator, Construction Coordinator, Gaffer, or Costume Designer) are presented with unique challenges to meet the needs of the movie and the director’s vision of the script.

As the old adage goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” And given some of the challenges presented by creating an entertaining film, there is a great deal of need for invention in this process. While there are tried and true methods of filmcraft, as any industry, the unique challenges presented by making the words on a page come to life are unlike those of any other job. Let’s pretend for a moment you are given this piece of script:

1 Exterior Overhead Shot – Old Western City

A non-descript city circa 1845. We can see activity in the streets. Horses and people move about. The sunlight is not like anything on Earth.

Suddenly an explosion destroys one of the buildings; a chunk of iron flies towards the camera.

The task before you is daunting: Do you shoot this as a full city-sized mock-up, as a miniature model, or perhaps all as computer graphics? How do you get the metal to fly at the camera? How do you protect the camera? What sort of chemical mixture will you use for the explosion? What kind of lens filter should be used to create the sunlight?

Through that process of identifying and executing your task, comes invention. Perhaps you shoot the scene in miniature and insert the horses and people using computer graphics - all standard movie-making stuff. But perhaps you take a different approach to create the filter for the sunlight. Perhaps you go into your kitchen, grab some plastic wrap, color it with your kids’ finger paint, smear some oil on it, hang it from a bent coat hanger, and make sure the distance is exactly 4.5 inches from the camera lens. You very well may have just created a new type of lens filter and a new process for using such a filter; something you could recreate, sell, or license, and if the movie performed poorly at the box office, perhaps actually make more money from this lens filter invention than from the movie itself.

Sadly, such inventions are created all the time on movie sets, but given the massive time constraints on a film set and the crew’s lack of understanding of the invention process, such inventions are usually discarded after one use, or kept solely by the creator and never brought to market.

Movie studios, and even more specifically executive producers, need to be aware of the income potential from inventions being created by the crew on their film shoots. Creating a patent portfolio of techniques, structures, compositions, and devices could create a completely new stream of income to the studio through sale and/or licensing of IP.

There needs to be a way to capture on-set innovations created on the fly and bring them to the attention of someone specifically tasked with gathering and protecting these unique ideas. Even a basic one-paragraph description of the invention accompanied by some photographs (there should be plenty of cameras around…) should be sufficient for said person to bring to the studio in order to expand on the inventions and have proper invention disclosures created, or have any new trade secrets documented.

An Intellectual Property consulting company such as ipCapital Group ( , based in Williston Vermont, can be an exceptional asset to this process, whether through on-set participation as the point person for IP “harvesting,” or by helping to sort through the copious amounts of data being generated. ipCG has done this in other “IP-na├»ve” industries and can help anyone through the process.

I imagine once this neglected revenue stream is focused upon by one studio, then, just like other forms of IP already used in the industry (e.g. copyrights), all the studios will aggressively put in place processes for harvesting IP. The first studio to embrace the new culture of “IP on set, all the time” will be in a much stronger position within the entertainment industry than its competitors.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thorium Nuclear Reactors

I had a nice lunch time discussion today regarding some of the needs for the State of Vermont. One item that came up was the need for reliable cheap power and that it was agreed that Thorium nuclear power plants (as I mentioned in my Shadow State of the Union speech) are a spot on solution for the state of Vermont.

One of these plants could be built in Newport and one of them could be be built where the existing Vermont Yankee plant is.

Below is a link to a great graphic detailing why these nuclear plants can be the future of America's energy needs.


Also here is a nice story from The Telegraph talking about Thorium Nuclear Power:

Thorium by the Telegraph

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Budget Compromise...A Total Crock of &$#@!

It's been a long time since I've blogged to you all, but something is happening that you really need to be aware of, and that's the continued hoodwinking over the Federal budget. You see our "leaders" clapping themselves on the back for cutting $38 Billion off the budget with the latest extension. This is NOTHING on a $4 trillion dollar budget.

Philip Greenspun a political blogger explains it oh so eloquently below.

News accounts on the latest federal budget deal gave the numbers in a vacuum, e.g., “The deal cuts $38 billion from last year’s budget. It’s being called the largest domestic spending cut in U.S. history” (source). How can an individual voter make sense of quantities that are ordinarily written in scientific notation? I think the easiest way is to divide everything by 100,000,000 (10^8).

Let’s start with federal spending. The FY 2011 federal budget is approximately $3.82 trillion (3.82×10^12). Of that, approximately $2.17 trillion will be paid for by taxes collected and the remaining $1.65 trillion will be borrowed from our grandchildren. If we divide everything by 100 million, the numbers begin to make more sense.

We have a family that is spending $38,200 per year. The family’s income is $21,700 per year. The family adds $16,500 in credit card debt every year in order to pay its bills. After a long and difficult debate among family members, keeping in mind that it was not going to be possible to borrow $16,500 every year forever, the parents and children agreed that a $380/year premium cable subscription could be terminated. So now the family will have to borrow only $16,120 per year.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MY State of the Union Speech

Charles Root State of the Union Address

So Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address was an hour of my life I can’t get back. So filled with lies it was, peppered with flip flop statements, stunning ignorance, and patriotism he obviously doesn’t believe in. In response I feel compelled to write my own address and tell you how, if we are to get this country back on track to prosperity and individual freedom, what needs to be done.


Ladies and Gentlemen of the Congress, Our Military Leaders, Mr. Vice President, Distinguished guest, the state of our union is, precarious.

We as a nation are facing a mounting fiscal debt that is non repayable! We have created an entire class of people with an entitlement mentality. We have stretch our military forces to the breaking point, and we have lost our ability to create consumables domestically.

In order to repair our country I am going to take the following immediate actions, and direct congress to facilitate the changes where their authority is required.

First I am eliminating several government agencies that have no constitutional right to exist and handle matters that should be decided by the states or are better handled by private industry. The EPA, The Department of Energy, The Department of Education, and NASA are but a few, the list will be scores long and fully disclosed tomorrow.

Second, we can no longer act as the policemen of the world. Effective immediately I will be recalling all soldiers, sailors and marines to American soil, and will begin the shutdown of all American military bases on foreign soil worldwide, this is to be completed within the next 180 days, with sale or return of foreign lands to their respective countries.

Third, Illegal immigration is a threat to our sovereignty. I will be mobilizing national guard forces to militarize the border between the United States and Mexico immediately. If need be after review we will also militarize the US – Canadian border. If you want to come to this country you will do so legally through a legal entry point. As for immigrants currently here illegally, we will be stepping up immigration enforcement, if you are here illegally and caught, you will be deported, including dependent children regardless of citizenship.

Forth, there will be a completely overhaul of the tax system. We will be going to a flat tax for all peoples and corporations. The first $45000 you make is yours to keep tax free. For every dollar afterward it will be taxed at 12%. There will be no deductions. In addition there will be a 1% sales tax initiated nationwide. Currently the US has the highest corporate tax in the world, this will make the US the 8th lowest. This will allow for substantial business growth, and job creation.

Fifth, we will be imposing tariffs on all imported goods, that are made in countries that do not allow their currency to fluctuate with the market, or do not have a minimum wage equal to that of the lowest state mandated wage. Currently Kansas at $7.25 an hour.

Sixth, If you receive government assistance but are able to work you will be given a list of available jobs nationwide. It will be your responsibility to acquire one of those jobs. If you need to move to another state, then you will need to do so. You will receive your salary plus government assistance equal to $45,000, but you will work a minimum of 30 hours a week.

Seventh, We are going remove the authority of the Central Bank and Reserve from setting any monetary policy, and over the next 12 months recouple our currency to physical metals.

Eighth, I will be making a list of items that are not in the preview of the Federal Government, and are entirely the responsibility of the states, for example universal healthcare, gun control, and abortion. Federal laws pertaining to these subjects will be put before congress for immediate repeal.

Ninth, We can no longer be dependent on foreign oil for our energy. We will undertake a substantial infrastructure creation of Thorium nuclear power plants and interior oil drilling.

Tenth, I will be directing the Interior Department to begin the sale of unused government lands to private citizens starting immediately.

I understand that these measures will be difficult. I understand that many government workers will be losing their jobs, but the number of jobs gained by these measures in the private sector will offset these loses. I know families may be ripped apart, but if you are a criminal you need to make things right. I know that other countries that have lived off our largess for decades will now need to fend for themselves. This is not our concern, but we are your friends and will be happy to advise you over these difficult transitions.

These ten points are only the beginning, in six months I will give another State of the Union speech outlining more measures, more government reduction, more repeal of federal laws.

We must never again allow our federal government to grow so large. To quote Ronald Reagan, government is not the solution to the problem, it is the problem. If we don't turn our backs on omnipotent government we risk returning to the same servitude that our forefathers fought to free us from 235 years ago.

My fellow Americans good night and God Bless.