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Columns

  • Entrepreneurs build creativity during Startup Weekends

    Steven Eiserling is an idea machine. Ever since he was a teenager, Eiserling has turned ideas into businesses — even during his 20-year career in information technology. Now the Chicago transplant studies business information systems at New Mexico State University and participates in entrepreneurial events. In Las Cruces’ Startup Weekend Oct. 24-26, he and his team pitched an application to link nonprofit organizations to volunteers through an online portal.
    At last year’s Startup Weekend, Eiserling led a Las Cruces team that proposed a real-time parking app to help motorists find vacant spots in large commercial lots, and that team formed a company — ParaPhin — that’s developing the project.
    Eiserling’s team didn’t win this year’s event prizes, including legal and business development services, but working with young innovators made the whole exercise worthwhile, he said. Even teams that don’t secure financing or other prizes at the marathon weekend events benefit from the experience by working with potential collaborators, mentors and investors to create a business that can bring commercially viable products or services to market on a tight deadline.

  • Seven ways to cut your holiday expenses

    When it comes to holiday spending, waiting in store lines all night and jostling for discounts will mean very little if you don’t have a budget that shapes your finances year-round. With the average United States household spending $600-$700 in 2014 for the holidays, putting that money together shouldn’t be a game of chance. Here are some tips to get it right:
    • Before you make a list, plan. How’s your debt? Do you have an emergency fund or any savings put aside? Start the holiday season by getting a handle on what you owe and what you’re spending day-to-day. Then plan a holiday budget (practicalmoneyskills.com/YourHolidayBudget) as early as possible that allows you to spend wisely.
    • See what spending is really necessary. It’s tough to cut young kids off a gift list, so turn to the adults. If your finances are limited, it’s worth asking adult friends and family members if they’d consider a gift swap or forego gifts altogether. They might actually think it’s a good idea.

  • Maestas: State needs robust job creation fund

    The best thing we can do for small businesses, said Steve Maestas, is to increase their revenue.
    The best way to do that is to attract big businesses – the businesses that bring new dollars into the state’s economy, making products that are sold everywhere and generating revenue from outside the state. Speaking recently to a group of small business owners, he said big businesses generate the jobs and pay the employees who support the local service economy.
    So — here comes the punch line — New Mexico needs a taxpayer-funded job creation fund with $50 million of taxpayer dollars. We already have such a fund under a law called the Local Economic Development Act, but the law needs some amendment. And with only $15 million authorized so far, the fund doesn’t have enough money to be competitive against the incentives offered by other states.
    Maestas is a co-founder and partner of Maestas and Ward commercial real estate company and Deputy Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He’s on a mission to reverse New Mexico’s dismal economic outlook, and the job creation fund is his cause.

  • Something's happening out in the country

    Television cop shows have a mantra that there is no such thing as a coincidence. In the journalist-analyst cosmos, sometimes things happen at the same time. These things, being quite different, have to be a coincidence (or are they?). But the timing creates curiosity about underlying commonalities.
    Events reported Oct. 24 and 25 suggest hunting for insights or patterns or defining opportunity might be useful. The people creating these events may see and be acting upon opportunities missed by the powers that be, buried as they are in government dependence wailing.
    All these events happened in rural New Mexico except the first, which was the detail added Oct. 24 by the Department of Workforce Solutions to the federal jobs report released a week earlier. The salient detail is that the seven counties comprising the four metro areas (Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Farmington) lost 2,700 jobs between them.
    Maybe something is happening out in the country.
    Robert Goddard started testing rockets around Roswell in the 1930s. Flight-related testing and practice continue at the Roswell International Air Center where B-52s wander by for touch-and-go drills.

  • Some families have politics in gene pool

    Political dynasties are a hot topic lately because of potential runs by a Bush or a Clinton. We have our share in New Mexico.
    In this election cycle, we heard most often about the King family, but other candidates (at this writing we don’t know who prevailed) grew up with politics in their Cheerios.
    Take the two men competing for state land officer.
    Incumbent Ray Powell Jr.’s father, a mechanical engineer, came to New Mexico in 1943 to work on the Manhattan Project and helped found Sandia National Laboratories. He retired in 1985, ran for governor and lost to Garrey Carruthers.
    In 1963, when all state employees were political appointees, Gov. Jack Campbell assigned Powell to develop and implement a state personnel system, which he did, with integrity and fairness. In 1988, Powell became state chairman of a Democratic Party fractured along geographical and ideological fault lines, which spawned coalition control of the Legislature. Under Powell’s leadership, Democrats won majorities, and the coalitions ended.
    When he died in 2010 at 90, columnist Jay Miller wrote, “New Mexico has lost one of its greatest public servants.”
    Powell’s opponent, Republican Aubrey L. Dunn, another junior, is the son of a legislative powerhouse.

  • Pet Talk: Dogs can get diabetes

    Canine diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a common disease in dogs and is the result of inadequate insulin production.
    “Canine diabetes is usually caused by an immune mediated attack on the pancreas, which is likely related to genetic predispositions,” said Dr. Audrey Cook, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “It may also be secondary to chronic pancreatitis, or may occur in intact females following their heat cycle.”
    Some predisposed breeds include the cairn terrier, the dachshund, and miniature poodles. Although these breeds have a higher incidence than others, all dogs have a chance of becoming affected.
    Diabetes mellitus is known to cause excessive thirst and urination due to the high concentrations of glucose in the bloodstream. “Hunger is also a common symptom in the early stages of diabetes, followed by rapid weight loss,” said Dr. Cook. “Vision loss is sometimes reported.”
    Glucose appears in the urine, and can predispose the patient to urinary tract infections. Untreated, other signs such as vomiting, dehydration and lethargy are expected.

  • Calculators: the first sign of alien invasion

    Quick, what’s 44 percent of 25? Most adults know how to do this, but would have trouble doing it in their head.
    But ask them to find 25 percent of 44.
    That’s a horse of a different math!
    Virtually every adult knows that 25 percent is 1/4 and so 25 percent of 44 is 11. Percentage is simply a multiplicative factor, meaning you divide by 100. So 44 percent of 25 is the same thing as 25 percent of 44, right?
    Ask the same question to a student in middle school, or high school, or even college. It’s a good bet that they won’t know the answer and the only way they can solve it is to pull out a calculator and start punching numbers.
    And if you did try explaining that they could simply take 25 percent of 44, it’s likely that they would push those buttons to figure that one out, too.
    Our children are carrying these portable black holes that are literally sucking intelligence out of their skulls.
    I’m beginning to think that it’s a conspiracy, a plot to dumb down our entire world! Those electronic know-it-alls are slowly turning our nation’s youth into know-it-nothings. Instead of developing sharp minds, kids are honing their dull fingertips.

  • Early childhood home visiting programs have lots of value

    “Home visiting” is a program strategy designed to promote child wellbeing through the delivery of a variety of informational, educational, developmental and support services to families. It would be a shame for good practice to become jeopardized by misinformation distributed as part of political campaign. It seems that some clarification is needed.
    New Mexico has several models of home visiting programs serving communities throughout the state including First Born, Parents as Teachers, Nurse Family Partnership and Early Head Start, to name a few.
    It is a misconception that these are radical, government-monitored programs. Home visiting in New Mexico is funded by several sources including private philanthropy as well as government through the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department. Programs are run by teams of trained healthcare workers and parent educators who are caring, culturally sensitive and supportive of children and families’ individual needs.

  • Uncle Sam only one seizing public lands

    In a recent New York Times editorial, New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich asserted that supporters of a transfer of some federal lands to the states are engaged in a “land grab.”
    He’s not just wrong he’s inverting the truth completely. It is actually the federal government that has “grabbed” New Mexicans’ lands. In the past two years, Heinrich endorsed the federal government’s placing of more than 783,000 acres of New Mexico land, much of it private or “multiple-use” in two highly restrictive “monument” designation (the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountain monuments).
    Ironically, while any effort to return some federal lands to New Mexico control would require the support and buy-in of large numbers of state and local officials, these two wilderness areas were declared by the Obama Administration without so much as a single vote in Congress.
    It is no surprise that Heinrich would support such a real land-grab as he is known for reflexively supporting the radical environmental lobbying groups in Washington. He has a 93 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters and boasted a 100 percent score in 2013.

  • Workforce Solutions is an oxymoron

    I voted early this year. On the afternoon of Oct. 21 as matter of fact, exactly two weeks to the day before the Nov. 4 general election.
    Actually, early voting has become something of a tradition around my house.
    After months of following the campaigns, watching seemingly endless hours of offensive, negative political TV ads and pondering the choices that will confront me when I enter my polling place, it just feels good to cast my ballot and be done with it.
    I have sometimes wondered if I’m not subconsciously operating on the assumption that if I vote early they’ll shut up out there, stop insulting my intelligence with all those bogus charges and phony claims, which no one, save the most intoxicated partisan, believes in the first place.
    The subconscious is quite often delusional, on the other hand.
    This year my decision to early-vote and get it over with was stimulated by a “news” release that burped up in my email from an agency of state government, known as the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.