Posted on January 11, 2015Those of you who know me best are aware of my affinity for hats. Through the years, I’ve always been told how good I look in them . . . fedoras, newsboys, deerslayers, baseball/golf caps, fezzes, berets, even yarmulkes. Perhaps it’s the shape of my head, or a matter of peoples’ preference that I cover up as much as possible. It doesn’t matter; my love affair with hats has shaped my fashion sense, and much more. As a professional educator and researcher, I’ve never been satisfied wearing one hat. Now, with full-time retirement from beloved Plymouth State approaching, my approach is one characterized more by anticipation than trepidation. On December 31st of this year, I’ll remove the academic hat for the last time. However, my head won’t be bare for long. I’ve lined up a number of others to wear and, G_d willing, those should keep my head occupied for decades. I’m very proud of my newest hat. I recently met with Andrea Greve, the owner and editor of El Coqui of Rincón, a bilingual community magazine published in the town of Rincón, Puerto Rico. El Coqui of Rincón is a magazine about and for the residents of Rincón and the area’s diverse visitor population. Andrea is a delightful young woman, not much older than my university students in New Hampshire. What I like best about people like Andrea is her willingness to take chances. Magazine ownership/editorship is a tough business, yet here she is pouring her energy and resources into the process.
Posted on January 2, 2015I begin the first of a baker’s dozen Puerto Rico-based posts. I call these Puerto Rico Blog II. Many of you will, no doubt, refer to them otherwise.
Posted on December 11, 2014Hello all. Owing to responsibilities related to teaching, research, and moving to our Rincon-area abode, this blog will be experiencing a brief hiatus. I will resume posting from Puerto Rico during the first week in January. In the meantime, here’s wishing
Posted on November 29, 2014Like many families, we look forward to our annual Thanksgiving celebration. Much has changed since I first joined in my wife’s family celebration. In those days, we were among the youngest in the room. Nearly all of my attention was directed toward my fiancé (that hasn’t changed, even after more than forty years of marriage). Back then, there was an older generation consisting of my mother, Marla’s parents, and array of aunts and uncles. Next, there were others from our generation–people who shared our excitement and anxiety at facing a nation that had been turned upside down by the events of the sixties. Two things were a constant back then: the food (which was amazing) and the obvious expression of love and laughter in the room.
Posted on November 20, 2014This past Friday, I had one of the highlights of my years as a writer. Thirty-six hours prior, the terrific publisher, George Geers, approved my seventh book–“Whacked”–for publication this coming spring. That alone would have kept me warm through the cold spell that has hit New Hampshire. However, this proved to be chapter one. I arrived at Concord’s beautiful book store, Gibson’s, for a presentation and book signing. Immediately, good things began to happen. First, a number of old friends dropped by to support me. They were followed by an audience of strangers, mystery fans who wanted to learn more about this gently aging tale spinner from Plymouth. Speaking to an audience of attentive people is like a dream for a writer, and this group was absolutely superb. They listened, asked intelligent/challenging questions, and were in no rush to leave. Their actions would have been sufficient to make this a memorable evening. But, then, those strangers (and some friends) in attendance began to approach me with books to sign. Anyone who does this to a writer deserves a reward: perhaps a ticket to heaven, a ride in a space shuttle, a get-out-of-jail-free card. Nothing would be too good for those patrons of the arts. A number of those in attendance have known me for 20, 30, or more years. Their past support and friendship have never been subject to sunset laws. For those people to leave their houses on a miserable night was extra special. I’ve been fortunate to experience a number of wonderful times as a writer, but this one takes the proverbial cake. To each of you who supports my work, I am forever grateful. Hopefully, the best is still to come. Leave a Comment
Posted on November 12, 2014Several months ago, I promised to tell you an interesting story about my next book, tentatively titled, “An Eye for an Eye.” The story about this book has two interesting segments, the first of which dates back more than half a century.
Posted on November 7, 2014It’s no secret that I didn’t enjoy the outcome of the elections a few nights ago. However, one thing that did impress me was the success of a few polling companies at predicting the results. Ignoring Rasmussen and New England College, whose efforts are terribly slanted politically, some pollsters shone brightly. Andy Smith, who (in this longtime researcher’s opinion) was less than impressive two years ago, absolutely nailed it on November 4th. Unless you have ever tarried in the field of survey work and polling, you have no idea how difficult this job is. There are so many things that can go wrong when you’re attempting to compile a statistically significant representation of what a population (voters, travelers, etc.) is thinking. First, one needs to determine what the very definition of that population is. Next, one needs to identify a representative, valid sample to survey. This isn’t easily accomplished. Do it improperly and you’re stuck with a biased, worthless sample. One of my favorites is the survey company that stops people in the parking lot of a supermarket, then announces that shopping is a favorite activity of people in the region (duh!). The third element of the survey process is the most difficult: getting people to actually complete the survey. More than two decades ago, we used to expect a 90 percent participation rate when conducting an intercept survey (“excuse me sir, will you please answer a few questions about blah blah?”). Telephone surveys were regarded as a less expensive approach, but one that yielded a response rate in the 75 percent range. Mail surveys could expect 40-50 percent participation, depending upon how many letters were sent. Looking at the response rates today is enough to send a researcher straight to the Pepto Bismol, as the figures are closer to 10, 3, and 1 (optimistically). Worse still–suppose you actually get the responses–can the polling/survey team actually believe that they are representative of the population being studied? Often the answer to that question is ‘not so much’. This forces some research teams to throw caution–and reputation–to the wind. For others, the solution lies in Panels. Panels are carefully selected groups of people who are paid to respond to a contracted number of surveys during the year. Quality research houses, such as Ohio’s TNS, carefully vett their panelists, and scour their responses for inconsistencies. So, with all of this in mind, the fact that some pollsters were able to call the results of the election within a few percentage points is most impressive indeed. I may not have liked this recent message, but I do respect some of the messengers. Leave a Comment