Friday, August 24, 2007

Vacation at Ocean City, Maryland


My family and I are off to Ocean City, Maryland for a week of sun and fun. We have been going down to O.C. MD for several years now and we love it. If you haven’t ever been there, I highly suggest taking a trip down to check it out.

The island and the surrounding communities offer so much to do that you could never fit it all into just one week of vacation (believe me… my family and I have tried). But you definitely would have fun trying.

Here is a list of some of my favorite things to do while at Ocean City, MD:


  • Enjoying some fun in the sun on the beautiful beaches.


  • Hitting the spectacular boardwalk to enjoy the amusements, games and awesome food.


  • Doing some salt water fishing and crabbing.


  • Playing golf on one of the wide variety of challenging courses available to play.

  • My two favorite courses are: The Links at Lighthouse Sound and Rum Pointe Seaside Golf Links.

  • Exploring Assateague Island (just outside of Ocean City, Maryland), where you can enjoy hiking nature trails, crabbing and clamming on the bay, camping on the beach, hunting for sea shells, or just watching the wild ponies and other wildlife that roam free on the island.


  • Have fun and make memories that will last a lifetime.


  • As you can see, Ocean City, Maryland has a lot to offer. For a more detailed list of things to do at O.C. MD click here.

If you have ever been to Ocean City, Maryland, let me know what you thought about it by leaving me a comment.

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME PSU FOOTBALL?

As many of you already know, I am a huge Penn State Nittany Lions football fan. And as fate would have it, the 2007 seasons is upon us, with the Lions opening their season at home against Florida International on 9/1/07. Click here for the Nittany Lion’s complete 2007 schedule.

This season features some incredible match ups with highly ranked Big Ten divisional opponents (Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State) and of course the big game against Notre Dame. It should be another exciting season ahead. GO STATE!

In order to get even more pumped up for the start of the 2007 season, check out the Prelude video attached below:

Monday, August 13, 2007

Generation X Office Lingo

This is an "oldie but goodie" that I thought I'd bring back. Enjoy!

Blamestorming - sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed and who was responsible.

Body Nazis - hard-core exercises and weight-lifting fanatics who look down on anyone who doesn't work out obsessively.

Chainsaw Consultant - an outside expert brought in to reduce the employee headcount, leaving the top brass with clean hands.

Cube Farm - an office filled with cubicles.

Ego Surfing - scanning the Net, databases, print media, and so on, looking for references to one's own name.

Elvis Year - the peak year of somethings popularity.

404 - someone who is clueless (from the World Wide Web error message "404 Not Found," meaning the requested document couldn't be located).

Idea Hamsters - people who always seem to have their idea
generators running.

Mouse Potato - the on-line generation's answer to the couch potato.

Ohnosecond - that minuscule fraction of time in which you realize you've just made a big mistake.

Prairie Dogging - something loud happens in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.

SITCOM - stands for Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage.

Stress Puppy - a person who thrives on being stressed-out and whiny.

Tourists - those who take training classes just to take a vacation from their jobs.

Uninstalled - euphemism for being fired.

Xerox Subsidy - euphemism for swiping free photocopies from the workplace.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The State of US Infrastructure


The horrific bridge collapse that occurred in Minnesota this week is one of those unexplainable events that will change so many lives forever. My hopes and prayers go out to everyone affected by this accident, especially the friends and family of those killed. Words cannot describe the pain being felt today - Pain that will take a very long time to fade away.

The important question now being asked across America is “Are our nation’s bridges safe?” And the answer to that question is unsettling and down right scary. According to the most recent Infrastructure Report Card issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), our nation’s public infrastructure is in a crisis situation. For example, as of 2003, 27.1% of our nation’s bridges (160,570 in total) were classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete (ASCE, 2005).

A structurally deficient bridge is defined as a bridge that is closed or restricted to light vehicles because of its deteriorated structural components. While not necessarily unsafe, these bridges must have limits for both speed and weight (ASCE, 2005). A functionally obsolete bridge is defined as a bridge that has older design features and, while it is not unsafe for all vehicles, it cannot safely accommodate current traffic volumes, and vehicle sizes and weights (ASCE, 2005).

Bridges in our country are critical elements of our highway transportation system. Everyday, our nation’s vehicles cross bridges close to 4 billion times (Purdy, 2005). But it is now unfortunately clear that the infrastructure of our country is deteriorating – and at an alarming rate.

Up until the bridge collapse in Minnesota, most Americans were unaware of the extent of the problem. Even worse, it is currently impossible to get information about the structural rating of a specific bridge. In Pennsylvania, The Beaver County Times & Allegheny Times newspaper formally requested specific rankings of structurally deficient bridges on the area under the State’s Right to Know Law. However, this request was formally denied by the PA State Department of Transportation (PennDOT), saying the information requested was not a public record as defined by law.

I find it extremely unsettling that our government knows this information and yet still refuses to make it public. How many of the victims from Thursday’s horrific accident in Minnesota would have chosen a different route across the mighty Mississippi River had they know the 35W bridge was deemed structurally deficient? I find it almost criminal to not disclose this information.

Clearly, the way our government is running our great country (literally into the ground) needs to change. Increased funding is now an absolute necessity to improve our nation’s infrastructure. However, these improvements will not be cheap. According to the National Bridge Investment Analysis System (NBIAS), an investment of $54.7 billion will be needed to improve just the bridge deficiencies based on the year 2000 data. The annual cost to eliminate deficiencies is estimated to be $9.4 billion per year over the next 20 years. And this amount would only address current bridge deficiencies.

Now is the time for our country to band together and demand that our government stop wasting tax payer money on pork barrel items (like the bridge to know where in Alaska) and start truly focusing on our nation’s critical problems. American’s should not be subject to fear and anxiety when they have to cross a bridge in their own country. But unfortunately, the tragic events of August 2, 2007 have changed that state of mind forever. The time is now to make things right, so future generations of hard working Americans will not have to experience the paid of another infrastructure tragedy that could have been avoided.

Sources:

The ASCE Infrastructure Report Card 2005. http://www.asce.org/reportcard/2005.

Purdy, Diane, 2005. The Pennsylvania Local Roads Program: Condition of Bridges. Technical Information Sheet #119. University Park, PA.

Is Gen X Losing The American Dream?

The stock market continues to reach new highs almost daily. Unemployment rates are at or near their historic lows. The global economy continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down. Times are good right? Well maybe not.

For many in Generation X and now Generation Y (the Millennial Generation), this is a time of insecurity and anxiousness. Yes, economically speaking, times are good. But the economic boom has not benefited everyone in our country equally.

Generation X and Y are coming of age and growing up in a unique and unenviable position in America today:


  • Wages and wage growth have stagnated. According to many studies, wages aren’t even keeping up with inflation, let alone the skyrocketing costs of real estate, energy, child-care and healthcare. According to some experts, Generation X is now almost guaranteed to become the first generation in the history of our great country to be less well off than our parents.


  • Job security no longer exists. It used to be that you would graduate from college, go to work for a company for 30+ years and then retire with a defined pension and a gold watch. But those days are gone. Security no longer exists in the fast-paced global economy of today. The new economy requires constantly reinventing yourself and the never ending race for new opportunities. Not that having to constantly reinvent your self is a bad thing. I tend to like the idea of learning and doing something new. But the risks associated with this type of economy significantly outweigh the awards. We are being told to embrace the entrepreneurial risks of the new economy, but we do not experience the rewards usually associated with such risks. Unless you consider a 2%-4% annual pay raise a good risk/reward benefit.


  • We are burdened with staggering levels of personal debt. We are the first generation to start our “adult” lives with significant amounts of personal debt. According to Tamara Draut in her book “Strapped: Why America’s 20-and-30-somethings can’t get ahead,” college students today are graduating on average with close to $20,000 in student loan debt for a bachelors degree, $45,000 for a graduate degree, and $100,000 or more for a professional degree. In addition to student loan debt, the typical young American has an average credit card balance outstanding of $2,000-$3,000. Servicing such a large debt load, given the stagnant wage growth has become a nightmare.



Even with the deck stacked against us, we continue to work hard every day to achieve the American dream. Although the media has labeled us as “slackers” and “entitled,” we continue to shoot for the ever elusive American dream. It is a struggle to have to fight and claw your way to stay on track, especially when most of us are living paycheck to paycheck and are only one job loss or illness away from financial disaster. But that is the hand that we were dealt. So play the hand the best way you know how. You might surprise yourself and go “all-in” and end up a winner.