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Columns

  • Title insurance discounts expanded for homeowners who refinance

    The Superintendent of Insurance last week signed an order expanding enhanced title insurance discounts to every homeowner who refinances a mortgage in New Mexico. The discounts were advocated for by Think New Mexico, the independent statewide think tank that successfully championed a reform to the state’s title insurance laws in 2009. The enhanced discounts are scheduled to take effect on July 1.
    Title insurance, which is required by banks before they will approve or refinance a mortgage, is one of the largest elements of a homebuyer’s upfront closing costs.
    Before 2009, the prices homeowners paid for title insurance when they refinanced their mortgages were set by regulation by the Insurance Division. A policy purchased with a mortgage refinancing received a discount because the homeowner had already purchased a title insurance policy for the property when he or she originally bought it.

  • Dump government dependence nonsense, honor scientists, military

    When it comes to our public policy conversation, we have slurped our rhetorical Kool-Aid for a long, long time. We hustle the federal government for money while saying we should build the private sector while saying bad things about the government impact on the state.
    For example, a few days ago President Barack Obama designated about 500,000 acres near Las Cruces as a national monument, to applause from Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall. Much of the land, though I’m not sure how much, is already federal and therefore hardly unregulated. Heinrich and Udall, good statists that they are, wanted the even tighter restrictions that would come with creating a wilderness area.
    This is unequivocally good because, according to an economic impact study, “the national monument will generate $7.4 million in new economic activity annually and create 88 new jobs,” said the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce last year.
    No word on the ranchers who having been using the land.
    With the new monument, we see Heinrich and Udall nurturing the federal dollar. The anguish greeting the Senate retirements of Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman is recent on the scale of our relationship with federal money.

  • Green across the border

    The Greener Side is in a pre-fab metal building that looks something like a failed truckers’ pornstop, just off the interstate outside Pueblo, Colo. There’s no billboard and only the adjacent greenhouse, surrounded by a chain-link fence topped with strands of barbed wire, tips off the astute shopper that this is the first legal retailer of “recreational” marijuana north of Uruguay.
    Half the cars in the parking lot are from out of state, mostly from Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. A security guard swipes my New Mexico license through a card reader, confirming that I’m legally eligible to buy up to one-quarter ounce of marijuana for my personal use, and I join the line of customers inside.
    With its cheap paneling and hard plastic chairs, the tiny anteroom resembles a cut-rate dentist’s waiting room, but the atmosphere is much more cheerful. For about half the customers this is a first-time experience, and everybody is studying the menu on the wall and discussing the pros and cons of the various strains on offer.

  • Web presence begins with a strong marketing strategy

    Building a business website is much like any other construction project: The better the foundation, the better the results — and the savings in time and money.
    While laying the groundwork for an online debut, the business owner should consider how a website furthers the overall marketing strategy and how much of a website presence is needed to accomplish the company’s goals. A simple, highly navigable website with key information is essential when starting out. If the foundation is laid correctly, the website can expand as the company grows.
    Many businesses overextend themselves by trying to be full-service sites. Delivering multiple web-based services — a blog, a chat helpline or an online store — requires a substantial commitment of human and financial resources. If that commitment isn’t there, customers will know, and their frustration can create the perception — founded or not — that the business’ services are as unreliable as its website.
    That’s why it’s important to create a web strategy that flows from the business and marketing plans of the company. Potential clients don’t just visit a company’s website to get hours and offerings. They check to see if the business has its act together.

  • Treatments for bone cancer in dogs

    Osteosarcoma (OSA), the most common bone cancer, represents about 85 percent of bone tumors in dogs.
    These aggressive tumors spread rapidly and once diagnosed, should be taken very seriously.
    “OSA commonly affects the limbs of large or giant breed dogs, but can also occur in other parts of the skeleton, such as the skull, ribs, vertebrae and pelvis,” said Dr. Rita Ho, veterinary intern instructor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
    Animals with limb osteosarcoma typically show signs of swelling at the affected side and associated lameness, depending upon the animal’s unique condition and tumor location.
    The tumors typically form at or near growth plates, and occasionally, the animal will exhibit a growth on their body, or painful inflammation near the site of the tumor. If swelling does exist, it is likely due to extension of the tumor into the surrounding tissues.

  • How can we mandate mammaric modesty?

    The other day, I was sitting in the park and I saw the most disgusting thing. A woman was feeding her hungry baby.
    OK, I know how that sounds, but it was really horrible. There I was, enjoying a pleasant afternoon in the sun, and the next thing I know, this woman picks up her kid, pushes her blouse to the side, and shoves her baby’s face up against one of her breasts. He was lapping it up like a piglet. 
    Boy, if that doesn’t turn your stomach, I don’t know what will!  Sure, no one wants a baby to go hungry, but couldn’t she have the decency to find some deserted area of the park, or maybe go into a nearby building and do that in the bathroom?  If a woman can’t afford infant formula, she shouldn’t be out in public to begin with, right?
    Really, we need some laws to address stuff like this!
    Oh wait, we do have laws like that. Forty-eight states protect the rights of a nursing mother to breastfeed her child in public.
    West Virginia and Idaho haven’t yet seen fit to join the civilized crowd.
    The human race has been raising babies on mother’s milk since forever. But then in 1867, Justus von Liebig invented infant formula, and “decent society” quickly threw a modesty blanket over nursing mothers.

  • Furniture maker first New Mexico manufacturer to earn B company status

    At Dapwood Furniture, artisans craft tables and bed frames using wood grown and harvested from American forests that are certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council. An Albuquerque charity gets leftover wood to use in projects that benefit people in need, and some goes to people who rely on wood for winter heating.
    The company hopes to convert its smaller byproducts — sawdust and shavings — into useful products, such as biochar — a type of charcoal used to improve soil and plant health.
    Every aspect of the business, in fact, is seen through the prism of sustainability and social responsibility. The company that runs Dapwood’s website is powered by wind energy, and Dapwood owner Gregg Mich participates in his utility company’s sustainable energy program even as he studies the feasibility of converting the shop to solar power.
    The depth and authenticity of Mich’s commitment to environmentally sound business practices was recognized last fall when the nonprofit certification organization B Lab certified Dapwood Furniture a B corporation — the first manufacturing business in New Mexico to earn this rank.
    To B or not to B

  • Check out Medicare benefits early on

    Each day, approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 — and thereby become eligible for Medicare.
    But becoming eligible for and actually enrolling in Medicare are two very different things. In fact, if you miss the initial window to sign up for certain parts of Medicare and later decide to enroll, you could wind up paying significantly higher premiums for the rest of your life.
    If you’re approaching 65, get familiar with these Medicare basics now:
    Medicare provides benefits to people age 65 and older (and those under 65 with certain disabilities or end-stage renal disease). For most people, the initial enrollment period is the seven-month period that begins three months before the month they turn 65. If you miss that window, you may enroll between Jan. 1 and March 31 each year, although your coverage won’t begin until July 1.
    Medicare offers several plans and coverage options, including:

    Medicare Part A helps cover inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility and hospice services, as well as home health care. Most people pay no monthly premium for Part A, provided they or their spouse have paid FICA taxes for at least 40 calendar quarters.

  • Fire prevention a new chapter, even for Smokey Bear

    Ruidoso and Los Alamos have become the poster child for fire preparedness, although both communities probably aspire to other distinctions.
    And Albuquerque last year gained the corporate headquarters of an air tanker service, although it probably wasn’t chasing this kind of economic development.
    It tells us that wildfire is part of living here. Most of us accept that, and we’re getting better at trying to reduce the impact.
    The Greater Eastern Jemez Wildlife-Urban Interface Corridor was the first New Mexico member of Firewise Communities USA in 2002. Ruidoso was second in 2003. Other members are scattered around the state, from Reserve to Angel Fire.
    Our rising awareness is just in time for Smokey Bear’s 70th birthday on Aug. 9.
    Even the iconic New Mexico native has changed his message.
    It’s now, “Only you can prevent wildfires.” (For a public event, I once spent an afternoon in a furry suit as Smokey. All the children from Acoma and Laguna pueblos hugged Smokey. It was lovely.)
    Today, Smokey has 180,000 friends on Facebook and his own website.
    We’ve learned that the fires are bigger and burn hotter, and fire season is longer.

  • Road notes: Edsels, a German photographer, ‘Safety Corridors’

    The road lured us away the first part of May.
    My wife wanted to see the ocean. So we did the traditional California Highway 1 drive: Santa Barbara, Monterey, San Francisco. Seven hotels in 12 days. By the fifth hotel, I was getting room-number mental fatigue. 432? 234?
    The remarkable image prizewinner was the SUV carrying two Edsels on a trailer, one a sedan, the other a station wagon, probably a 1960 model. The only sensible reason for hauling the cars across eastern Arizona is restoration. They badly need the work.
    Edsels occupy a special small place in my history, dating to the long ago confluence of a late night, rain, a curb and an Edsel, which suffered a broken axle. (I wasn’t driving, and, no, we weren’t drinking.)
    One of those “safety corridors” straddles I-40 in the vicinity of Thoreau. Heading west, it didn’t register. Returning home, perhaps the baby Jaguar from California disappearing into the horizon sparked some questions, or possibly the bright yellow signs with corridor instructions.
    The state Department of Transportation has designated several routes as safety corridors because of high accident rates.