Entries Tagged as 'Life'

Why We Shouldn’t Have to Pay for Someone Else’s Beach House

Beach House
Image by kcolwell via Flickr

So apparently insurance providers have been bailing on North Carolina because insuring coastal homes gets expensive and so businesses and homes participate in a state plan called the Beach Plan. Apparently though, if the plan’s money runs out then insurance companies are forced to pay a percentage of the losses due to how much business they do in the state. Which in turn raises your insurance premiums regardless of if you have a beach house or not.

And guess what? We didn’t even know about this insanely stupid plan. The fact that it even was created sounded like it was by those with actual beach homes rather than the living with the rest of the state inland. In any case, this was only brought to our attention because our homeowner’s insurer basically sent us a polite letter to support HB-1305, and to go look at Fix the Beach Plan.

What’s scary is the fact that while there is a push to get the fixes on this Beach Plan, there are insurers that are leaving this state regardless of the outcome. In fact, when I asked my trusty pal from the News & Record about it, he sent me to an article he wrote earlier on the very subject. And there it was, where a couple of insurers had already pulled out of the running.

There has been a lot of back and forth about who’s paying for whom as far as Beach Plan insured versus private insurers. But from my perspective, I don’t think we should be paying any more if we live in the middle of the state if the coast does get hit by a natural disaster. Amusingly many people claim that those inland are buying into the insurance rhetoric and such. But here’s some food for thought. If insurance companies were apparently taking a share of the pie when there wasn’t any disasters, then why would some of them back out completely and not do business in the state at all? Wouldn’t that mean that they wouldn’t get a cut then?

Of course, in the end, it really comes down to the fact that I don’t want to be paying for someone else’s beach house. Ever.

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North Carolina Still Working On Unconstitutional Digital Tax

associates-logo-small._V265885005_ North Carolina is still pushing that digital tax.

But fortunately, there is another win for Amazon, and another state that doesn’t have legislators that have never fought for small businesses or know how Internet businesses work. Apparently the governor of the State of Hawaii has vetoed HB 1405 and the time has passed for the overturning to occur. So Amazon is re-inviting those affiliates back from that state.

Will North Carolina also break free from those luddites that know no bounds to how much they hurt small business? Perhaps. My guess is that we’re actually not reaching through the thick skulls of the state legislation but I could be entirely wrong. So far, I must say that as an independent voter and business owner, I haven’t been impressed with either the state legislation or our governor in several decisions that are NOT in the best interest in the constituents. Perhaps they will surprise me yet and overturn this one. Call me crazy but I actually like to pay income taxes if they didn’t take a portion of the income from my business.

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Chasing Vertical Markets

vertical_markets Interestingly enough, I keep reading about biotechnology in the Business Journal and I’m failing to understand it. It seems that with every popular business trend, the business community in the Triad seems to follow and jive with it without actually wondering about the problems that occur currently and the time for a new industry to take hold.

Everyone understands that money is the number one factor in any sort of industry. To gain traction, you must invest major funds to get anywhere. But if someone else invests more than you, then they probably have an advantage. This is the same with biotechnology. In competing with national business centers with major urban populations, it’s difficult to understand how we’ll ever be on the forefront of biotech. Let me put it this way. Even smaller towns in South Carolina have biotech industrial parks. Don’t ask me why, since I don’t know what the deal is with that one.

Instead, there are plenty of industries leaving the Triad. I got word from a friend recently that in about six months, there will be a headquarter change for a company that has been in the Triad for a long time. No one knows how many jobs are effected, but I can tell you that it’s not going to be pretty when the news comes out. What’s interesting is that there are actual technology (database, programming, etc.) jobs on the line here and I have yet to see any sort of replacement area for these individuals. What next? Where are the technology jobs?

As people are displaced towards larger business centers and our community leadership is blinded by the fact that there are jobs on the line where there are skilled and educated needed, I cannot help but wonder why there hasn’t been any money thrown at technology businesses. When push comes to shove, everyone struggles in a market where you fight to be number one in an industry. But just as a business must segment their target market, a community needs to segment what they target in industry to help revitalize the job arena.

Thus, I propose vertical markets. Why not pick several niche areas and formulate vertical markets within these niche areas? There might be a horizontal market such as biotechnology, but what about being the best at grid software for biotech firms? Or the manufacturing of artificial skin? Perhaps we could even be a leader in small business applications such as online accounting? Either way, I find that the entire push for industry seems rather lost in the noise and we haven’t yet found our pulse to keep the business community going.

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Why Job Postings Are Not Accurate Looks At Job Market

Monster.com visits the Craigslist office
Image by unfurl via Flickr

Several of my good friends were hit by the latest downturn in global economics and they’ve had asked me to look into a couple job searches for them. Fortunately, in the Bay area, it’s a bit easier to find opportunity and they have all been employed again.

But I did notice one very crazy fact that needs to be addressed. If you make any judgements on the job market based on job placement sites such as CareerBuilder or Monster, the amount of actual positions are actually inflated. Didn’t know that? Here’s a way to tell. If you’ll notice that in every single city, or whatever zip code you put in, there are usually several jobs that seem very similar. In fact, the chances are that they are the same position. Job placement companies often take an actual job opening and create their own position in that market in hopes to getting people to sign up for it. Then they go to the company and ask for a referral fee, or sometimes broker the deal so for example, if the original hourly wage was thirty dollars, then the employee would get seventeen and the rest would be the placement agency’s fee.

What really stinks about this tactic is that you really could be wasting your precious time in finding a position since you have to filter through positions that you might have already applied for directly. My suggestion? Find out where the position is and apply direct to the corporation. You’ll get the most bang for buck, and unless the placement agencies have a track record with that corporation, it’s unlikely you’ll have something great out of it.

In any case? Good luck with your search.

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Dear Winston Salem Drivers Downtown…

Pedestrian crossing sign on Queens Boulevard i...
Image via Wikipedia

I’m not sure where you people learn to drive, but sometimes I hope that your license gets revoked before you hurt someone.

When the light is green, you have to YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS.

When it is red you have to YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS.

Even when it is yellow, you still have to YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS.

This rule doesn’t change if you’re turning right either and am in a hurry. Pedestrians have right-of-way at a cross walk. All the time. Don’t believe me?

NCDOT rules state:

In North Carolina pedestrians have the right of way at all intersections and driveways but must yield to motorists when crossing at any place other than a marked crosswalk.

Go figure. A human body can’t take on half ton of fiberglass? How did anyone ever figure that out. So, quit driving like absolute frackin’ idiots because even as an accident, if someone gets hurt or killed, your life as you know it will either end up in a very big legal proceeding or worse, prison. And who would want that?

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Winston-Salem’s Wrong Assumptions About Their New Stadium

New Ballpark #12
Image by Mr. Jincks via Flickr

Interestingly enough, I have recently just became a resident of Winston-Salem. And for the last however many years I’ve been here, I’ve been a resident of Greensboro. Well, it seems that to justify the new baseball stadium for the Winston-Salem Dash, they’ve used the Grasshopper Stadium as an anchor point even though there are some significant flaws in the argument.

Here are my thoughts on it based off of some of the things that were said on The Business Report off WFDD:

  • Grasshopper Stadium has done well for Greensboro. I agree here, but you have to also realize that UNC-Greensboro, Greensboro College, A&T and I might be missing some others, all converge on downtown Greensboro. The fact is that you have several major schools with students looking for things to do, and within walking distance. I will go as far as to say that some of the students at these respective schools only go to the games on Thirsty Thursdays because of… well, you don’t need me to explain it but it’s not because of baseball.

    I’ll also go as far as to say that the look-and-feel of the two downtowns are extremely different. Greensboro has Center City Park, which is another privately owned venture and other sorts of things that have the entertainment seekers running around at night. I’ve never gotten the same feel for Winston-Salem’s downtown which is very much more business oriented and has that sort of look and feel. Greensboro has always felt like an infant San Francisco, while Winston-Salem was an infant Chicago. Two very distinct paths which cannot be thrown into the same basket because the population size is somewhat similar.

  • The money is similar for the same seating. Yet, a big difference is how it’s funded. Grasshopper Stadium was all private money. About fifteen million was from the Bryan Foundation and the rest was raised through private means. Winston-Salem’s funding is between the tax payers and Billy Prim’s financing. When you have skin in the game, it makes it a different scenario.
  • Greensboro backed the stadium. Somehow, I’d like to say that if Greensboro’s taxes were up for grabs for Grasshopper Stadium, we would have a different story here. Everyone is always happy to partake in the festivities that someone else’s coin pays for. But when your coin is paying for someone else’s fun? It’s not always a loving situation. Greensboro’s City Council knew that and stepped away from it right at the beginning. I’m not at liberty to speak of the actions by Winston-Salem’s Council since I don’t know the local politics here. Needless to say? Obviously there are a lot of grumblings.

I will say that a huge mistake by a lot of people is not only looking at the situation, but comparing stadiums of larger sizes to this one. With a AAA team, Grasshopper Stadium is actually the closest comparison in cost, physical location and size. But the one big part that’s missing are the points above. It’s like trying to compare people from LA to NYC. Two distinctly different cities, with different cultures, and trying to figure out why the Dodgers don’t play like the Yankees. Something is just a little bit off there.

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Anti-NC Affiliate Tax Gaining Support #ncaffiliatetax

Internet marketers everywhere are rallying behind the flag of social media. Just take a look at #ncaffiliatetax and see for yourself. I personally have written to Pricey Harrison (Guilford-D) about this and how it hurts small businesses and how it can not only put people’s jobs at risk but also put more strain on the state since if these jobs fail, there would be likelihood of more unemployment that the state would have to take into account.

Actions speak louder than words, and those that are pushing this through tell me that they don’t understand the Internet at all as a business source and how affiliate marketing and internet retail work. With this move by Amazon of notification of their NC affiliates, entire businesses will fail if NCGA pushes forward with this move. And here you thought that they were looking out for the citizens’ best interest…

Search for the rallies online. There are plenty to choose from. Write and call your representatives and tell them that your business is in eminent danger due to these bills. Either way? We have to protect our livelihoods and get those that we have elected into office to hear our cries for help.

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NCGA Unconstitutionally Taxing Scheme Will Hurt Small Businesses

The North Carolina Legislative Building in Ral...
Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know what the North Carolina Legislation is doing, but I can tell you that they’ll be hurting small businesses.

Crazy? Not at all. In fact, this morning I had to re-read my email twice and make sure that the email didn’t come from some hoax source trying to just get to respond with my email so they could sell me Cialis or Viagra or something.

This morning, I received an email from Amazon that said:

We regret to inform you that the North Carolina state legislature (the General Assembly) appears ready to enact an unconstitutional tax collection scheme that would leave Amazon.com little choice but to end its relationships with North Carolina-based Associates.

Hmm. They’re trying to collect taxes from Internet companies… again?!? Come on. It wasn’t but yesterday, I watched how Hong Kong’s civil servants take a voluntarily pay cut to help ease economics and taxes for this year. Yet, here we are in North Carolina, where we’re looking to throw up more laws on things such as taxes on cigarettes, driving mileage, even a text messaging ban while driving to try to make the economics jive. Meanwhile? We are not even enforcing the laws we do have in place such as the tint laws, covers on license plates, and all sorts of other things that could be bringing in revenue for the state.

This isn’t just Amazon mind you. Amazon is only the beginning of the companies that will refuse to do business in this state. There have been others and unfortunately the people that need it the most, the small businesses, are the ones that suffer from this move. Contact your media and state legislation right away. And if your business has anything to do with the Internet, we cannot let things such as this go through.

In the words of Gandalf the Grey, “You Shall Not Pass!”

UPDATE (10:18AM): News & Record’s Mark Binker covers some more details.

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Be Wary in Job Searches

Maximizing Your Job Search Workshop
Image by danieljohnsonjr via Flickr

If you’re one of the many that are searching for positions on the Internet and probably sending your resume along on those job sites, be wary. One of the latest scams that has been broadcast in the past six months through security firms has been an increase in identity theft through job postings.

Think about it. You’re desperate to become employed again, you hand over your social security number, name, address, and all sorts of other identification materials to a “potential” employer just to realize that they don’t exist. My suggestion? Do your homework.

While you might not stop every sort of theft, providing due diligence will greatly decrease the risk of being taken for a ride. See if that person actually represents the company that they claim they are. Are they overseas and using a local number to contact you? Do they represent a placement agency? Perhaps you’ve never even heard of this business that they claim is several miles from your house and it’s not in the phone book. There are always signs to these sorts of scams.

If you don’t, you take a great risk. If you do, you minimize that risk. And best of luck on your search.

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Restaurant Review: Oriental Cafe

orientalcafe I have to admit that I have yet to try all of the food yet. Only been there twice, and both times I insisted on Japanese since that’s what I usually crave since it’s a bit more difficult to get good Japanese food in the South unless you’re a big fan of hibachi. But I have to admit, I found a new favorite place for my tummy.

And what the tummy wants, the tummy gets. To a degree. In any case, the decor on the inside was fabulous, and well done. Something that you’d never would have known from the outside decor due to the fact that it’s in a strip mall. From a cuisine perspective, you’re probably looking at a decent valued meal unless you go ballistic and order several of the ten dollar rolls. They serve Thai, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine and all of the waitresses are extremely friendly. I actually had a chance to meet the owner at one of my NAAAP meetings and found that we actually knew a mutual friend. In either case, the food was great, the value is good, and you really can’t get anything better than this around the Winston-Salem area. At least not to my knowledge.

There are definitely other reviews out there so don’t take my word for it. But I can tell you that both my wife and I have found a new restaurant that we adore. Oh, and one other thing since the Triad restaurants always have incredible crazy wait times during the Friday and Saturday dinner crowds. You don’t have to wait here. It’s one of those diamonds in the rough that people haven’t discovered yet. Nestled in the shadow of the Hanes Mall across from Allegacy credit union, this place is definitely an asian foodie’s choice.