Monthly Archives: March 2010

Ravens offseason moves look good to me

I wasn’t sure it would be possible to be more excited about an upcoming Ravens’ season than I was last year, but I am.

The addition of Dante Stallworth for a bargain price is a great risk/reward.  If he can stay healthy he will make a difference on the field, and his off the field issue shouldn’t be an issue any longer.  He took responsibility for the DWI and served his time and suspension without complaint.   Signing Anquan Boldin was a huge upgrade.  It’s trite, but he does play like a Raven.  And, they resigned Derrick Mason, giving them 2 solid tough guys.  I expect they’ll keep Mark Clayton, and will pick up a guy or two who can play special teams and catch the football.  I’d like to see them find a way to keep Kelley Washington as he’s a fun player; I don’t know that there’s room.

Losing Bannan and Edwards stinks, but they both got contracts that were more than their value to the team.  Good for them, and I hope they both have success.  Picking up Cory Redding is probably a net negative at DT, but he’s got promise.  Again, I think there might be another move to grab a D Lineman soon; and with Suggs in town for workouts and trying to come into camp in better shape than last year (without any contract BS) should give them a solid outside pass rush.  Redding has the ability to bring some flexibility as an inside or outside pass rusher.

The two areas of concern right now are tight end and corner.  Todd Heap isn’t the player he was, I’d like to see a young TE get groomed to replace him in a few years.  I think the corners will be solid, but I’m not sure Webb will be ready to go at the start of the season.

As in the past, though, the roster looks solid enough that they can go get the best player available in the draft, which is the strategy I prefer.

I still think we might see a deal that moves Troy Smith or (more likely) Willis McGahee.  Smith has said he wants to go elsewhere for a shot to start.  I don’t see any opportunity for him and would like him to stay a Raven, but certainly think they will let him go if someone matches his tender.  McGahee has more gas in the tank to be a starter; again I like the role he plays here, but he’s an expensive second back.

All in all, they are going to be a better team next year.  That’s exciting.

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Top Posts Since the Move

A year ago today, I moved my blog from blogspot (here’s a link to the old blog) and started using WordPress.  I’m happier with the way WordPress works, the only drawback is the inability to easily customize a template, but that doesn’t bother me.  The rest of the platform is much better, in my opinion.

Since the inception of paulstagg.com, here are the top 5 posts by page views.

No direct wine shipments in Maryland

My training template (that I’ve yet to really use)

An ‘are you serious’ moment; turns out the NYT needs to get better at reporting.

Photos of the Blizzard(s) of 2010

Baltimore City officials misleading the public.

I’ve been blogging now for over 5 years, since December of 2004.  I do it mostly just for me, although in the last six months it seems more people are reading.  Which is cool.

As I continue the blog, I’ll hopefully continue to provide not only insight into my own opinion and philosophy, but some education and entertainment as well.


Light posting this week

I’m commuting back and forth to Philly for the rest of the week, need to be there from 7:30 – 5 every day, so up at 4, out of the house by 5:30, home around 7.

So not much time for blogging or twittering.

I’ve scheduled posts for the next couple of days; I’ll try to get the Friday Financial post up, but I ran out of time today to do it.


They PUT the loopholes there!

The headline reads:

Insurance Companies Find Loopholes in New Health Bill

No.  The insurance companies were in on writing the bill.

The White House and lawmakers are bracing themselves for what is sure to be an onslaught of problems and ambiguities in the aftermath of the health care bill being signed into law.

Which sums up nicely why so many were against it, and why so many people in Congress will be looking for new jobs in the fall.

I talked about the baby with a preexisting condition here.


Scrubbing your online life

CNN, on what must be a slow news day, posts an article about young job seekers hiding their Facebook pages.

Even so, the Michigan State University junior recently changed his Facebook display name to “Dustin Jawel” to keep his personal life from potential employers while applying for summer internships.

Although Gawel ditched his rhyming alias after two weeks when he realized Facebook users also can be searched by e-mail address, school and network, he is not alone in his efforts to scrub his online résumé. Many students and recent graduates say they are changing their names on Facebook or tightening privacy settings to hide photos and wall posts from potential employers.

And with good reason.

A recent survey commissioned by Microsoft found that 70 percent of recruiters and hiring managers in the United States have rejected an applicant based on information they found online.

What kind of information? “Inappropriate” comments by the candidate; “unsuitable” photos and videos; criticisms of previous employers, co-workers, or clients; and even inappropriate comments by friends and relatives, according to the survey report, titled “Online Reputation in a Connected World.”

Such prying into his online life makes Gawel uncomfortable.

“I understand that when [employers look] at someone’s Facebook page, they’re just trying to paint a bigger picture of the people they’re hiring — so they’re not just a name on a résumé,” he said. “But that doesn’t demonstrate whether they can do the job. It shouldn’t matter what someone does when they’re not in the office.”

Gawel said he’s not sure that employers would object to the information on his Facebook page. For him, it’s more about personal privacy.

First, I’m surprised when I hear people don’t know how to keep their Facebook profile private.   Second, what you do outside the office can matter, and if it might and you’re worried about it, change your behavior, or don’t publish it.

I’m pretty sure a picture of you in college with a beer bong isn’t going to disqualify you, but anything indicating you are not honest on your resume, or anything in your character that would reflect poorly on your employer might.

So just be smart about what you put online.


The unintended consequenses already started

And Waxman is going to get to the bottom of it.

Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, has summoned some of the nation’s top executives to Capitol Hill to defend their assessment that the new national health care reform law will cost their companies hundreds of millions of dollars in health insurance expenses.  Waxman is also demanding that the executives give lawmakers internal company documents related to health care finances — a move one committee Republicans describes as “an attempt to intimidate and silence opponents of the Democrats’ flawed health care reform legislation.”

On Thursday and Friday, the companies — so far, they include AT&T, Verizon, Caterpillar, Deere, Valero Energy, AK Steel and 3M — said a tax provision in the new health care law will make it far more expensive to provide prescription drug coverage to their retired employees.  Now, both retirees and current employees of those companies are wondering whether the new law could mean reduced or canceled benefits for them in the future.

The health care reform bill increases costs to companies, and those that are publicly traded are required by law to immediately make adjustments for new laws.  So a bunch of them are.  That’s apparently not what the Democrats wanted, so we’ll have hearings.   Go figure.

Any predictions on what they do when health insurance premiums skyrocket?


Where were these stories before the bill passed?

ABC news points out that sick kids without insurance still get care and can still get insurance.

Jarvis said Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas would automatically cover newborns of parents who already had a policy with them for 31 days. After that time parents could opt to include their baby on their plan whether or not the child had health issues.

“For children whose parents are not BCBSTX members, who want child-only coverage, we offer individual policies, beginning at the age of 60 days,” wrote Jarvis. “BCBSTX has spoken with the father of this child, and we are exploring all available alternative coverage options.”

Doug Tracy said his family has found an alternative route to get his child coverage through the Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool, and the policy will only cost $277 a month — $10 more than the premium on the policy he tried to take out for his son. However, he said he’s confused since he will still have to apply through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas if he goes through the Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool.

So, mom and dad chose not to have insurance.  They applied to get insurance on their baby after the baby was born with a heart defect, and that insurance application was declined because it was after learning of the defect.  Yet they can still get insurance, and the child still got care.

So how would legislation make this better, other than by forcing other people to pay the medical bills?


Varied tunes

I’m working on J’s Calendar of Events for next month (she’s been really busy, so I’m pitching in.)  So I’m at her desk working away enjoying the Sonos.

So far, the playlist has been:

Fu Manchu King of the Road

Queens of the Stone Age Era Vulgaris

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Raising Sand

I will not be pigeonholed.


A Lesson, Revisited

In April of last year, I posted about the University of Maryland showing a porn movie, and the lesson we should learn from the Legislature’s reaction.

Personally, I really don’t care what the kids watch.  It’s insignificant.  But the Senate’s actions did have a benefit.. they demonstrated that if you want the state to use force to take money from other people and give it to you, well, you better do what the state says.

Think about that, and the implications to bailouts.  You really want the government to tell you what you can and can’t do when they are paying for your health care?

Really?

Unfortunately, few will get the lesson, and we’ll go on fighting about free speech and the evils of porn, missing the larger point that Andy Harris so thoughtfully (and unintentionally) made.

Well, it’s happening again.  This time, it’s the UM School of Law suing a small chicken farm over environmental concerns. Continue reading


Debt Repayment Strategy

This is part of a weekly series on personal finance and wealth building.  If you care to read them all, please click on the ‘Building Wealth’ category on the right.

If you’ve followed along for the last several weeks, you’ve gotten to the point that you are ready to develop and implement a debt repayment strategy.  You’ve seen the five basic steps to maximizing wealth, you’ve built your balance sheet, income statement, and your budget.  Now it’s time to get you out of debt.

How you got into this mess is largely irrelevant.  I’m not judging, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up.  I know I made a lot of poor choices when I was younger when it came to money, and I paid for it.  The good news for you is that, like with almost anything, if you put your mind to it, stick to a plan, and work hard, you can get out of overwhelming debt faster than you think.  Continue reading


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