Monthly Archives: October 2011

Credit unions and depositor-owned local community banks

Reading about this as we plan to move our money into a local credit union…

“Many banks and insurance companies in the U.S. are organized as “mutual companies.” A mutual company is one that is owned — and sometimes governed — by its members instead of being owned by public or private shareholders”

“After more than a century of quietly collecting deposits and making loans without the bother of shareholders clamoring for dividends and higher profits, the two savings institutions separately announced plans last month to convert from mutual, or depositor-owned, organizations to shareholder ownership.”

There are a few mutual savings banks in our area in Massachusetts… but as the quote above explains, it seems like the main problem with choosing this over a credit union is that it might go public sooner than later. EXAMPLES

See also:
Mutual savings bank – wikipedia
Credit unions in the United States – wikipedia

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Filed under banking, local

deep energy retrofit and solar work

A letter to the editor in the NYTimes recently correctly points out that this article is wrong when it states: “There is no contemporary version of the 1870s railroads, the 1920s auto industry or even the 1990s Internet sector. ” LINK

The energy efficiency of buildings and solar are in serious need of people to do serious amounts of work!

I wouldn’t mind some more high-speed rail lines or bike trails around here either! Though I know projects like these use more machines than people these days. That’s why the energy-efficiency work is interesting. It’s quite a bit of labor and it also requires some substantial thinking too. Deep energy retrofits and building science are young industries comparatively speaking.

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Filed under energy-efficiency, erik-green, occupy, thinking

Turn the channel to youtube…

All of the interesting stuff I’ve read about Occupy Boston/OWS has been NOT in the mainstream media (msm). I think this means that #OWS is difficult for MSM but also that blogging/etc is really coming into itself. We have a mac mini connected to living room TV with HDMI so we can do youtube via browser. I guess Apple TV has a youtube channel but I’m not sure it’s worth the extra $ for the simplicity since we already have the mac, and sometimes things I want to watch are on Vimeo, PBS, etc. which won’t work with the Apple TV.

Also, this is perhaps rather obvious but there are probably plenty of 30-somethings and 40-somethings who would love to camp out and join the protests but that’s hard when you really have to work to continue to “put food on your family” as I like to say.

See elsewhere:
Embracing the 1 percent
We are the 1 percent. We stand with the 99 percent.

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Filed under technology, thinking

“College Degree or Equivalent Work Experience”

I am not against college/university degrees per se. But as far as preparation for a career, I think it really just depends.

Wanna be a doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, nurse, mechanical engineer, NFL football player, etc, etc… well, you are of course going to need some undergraduate and usually some graduate school often leading up to a certification exam of some sort. And/or internships.

But what if you want to do something that doesn’t require a degree?

What do some enlightened/practical companies hiring software engineers write in their job descriptions?

  • Google: “Bachelor’s degree in computer science or other technical field. In lieu of degree, 4 years work and/or professional programming experience.”
  • Microsoft: NO MENTION of school whatsoever in their “Basic Qualifications” section for a senior software position.
  • Amazon: “Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or related field, or 4+ years relevant work experience”
  • Turbine: “College Degree or Equivalent Work Experience”

Get the picture? Now maybe I am cherry-picking a career and most other jobs are not so lax on the college requirement. I doubt it.

Now sure, within these companies there are certainly positions that they are looking for degrees for if you want to start right in at a senior level instead of working one’s way up. Google says for example in their “preferred qualifications” section for one more senior position: “Masters or Doctoral degree for senior positions” Microsoft likewise… “Computer Science degree, or Bachelor of Science in an engineering discipline.”

So check out those job offers and go figure out what “Experience building and operating online services and fault-tolerant distributed systems” means. And what “MCTS certification in SQL Server 2005/2008 Database Development” is. Confused? Take some free online courses from MIT or Stanford or somewhere.

You’ll have a job in no time.

(As long as you move to CA, WA, NY, or MA.)

Careers differ in:
– solo enterprise (vs group)
– must learn from an expert craftsman in person (vs “books”) — e.g. in person: therapist, doctor, ferrier, backcountry guide
– requires stamp of approval or certification (vs not) — (e.g. plumber: licence required. carpenter: no license)

Not that it is an either/or… Software lends itself well to allowing one to apprentice oneself initially on one’s own with resources available in books/videos/web/online courses/certification courses/etc and then very quickly jump into a entry-level job where one can learn from “the masters”. There’s not necessarily a huge advantage to a 4-year degree career-wise

Maybe people out there disagree. But that’s been my personal experience.

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Filed under contrarian, technology, thinking

Small houses for families or multiple families WITH KIDS

Get real people.

1. It’s a mess out there. I believe I read recently that there has been a substantial percentage increase in the number of families doubling up — Kids (and families) moving in with parents or grandparents. Duh!

2. All the small home books show houses typically designed for a couple. Or maybe one neatnik toddler. And that’s it? The (sole?) exception being Little House on a Small Planet, 2nd: Simple Homes, Cozy Retreats, and Energy Efficient Possibilities
I liked that book.

OK, so what makes a small house design workable when there are 8+ people (especially with kids) living under that one roof? This post will collect my ongoing thoughts on the topic.

Topics to be expanded upon someday, perhaps. Biased toward northern homes:
– design patterns. loops are important with kids. this is counter the idea of getting rid of wasted hallways spaces but I have thoughts on that. (Namely, do it anyway, a little)
– winter months are brutal indoor times
– huge mudrooms. kitchen and bathroom right off main entrance and key.
– laundry area with ample drying space. as in basement. (upstairs closets are no good unless you have giant bedroom spaces wasting away)
– more small rooms is better than 1 bigger room, I think
– noise between bedrooms. cellulose in the walls? separate bedrooms by bathroom?
– get real. There is probably a TV and laptops, game machines, tablets, etc. in your future. Where will it/they go? I am not personally a fan of having this stuff in bedrooms away from action. So where does the action go?
– basically the issue is balancing public and private space. And open space vs some small rooms.

Gotta run. Watch this space.

See also:
Here are endless articles on the “move in with parents” theme from recent months/years from the NYTimes

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Filed under contrarian, futuresafe, homesteading, simple, small houses, superinsulation, thinking, zero energy home

Who wrote “Here’s to the crazy ones…” ?

In case you see lots of “Here’s to the crazy ones” quotes today. That’s not Steve Jobs. That’s an Apple ad campaign. Come on people!

Overall story:

Who specifically wrote it? (Ken Segall, of TBWA/Chiat/Day)

His 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford

(Reminder to self: Time to buy a tablet. But probably not an iPad2.)

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Filed under android, apple, ipad, technology, thinking, xoom