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Steve Taylor: Not That It Really Matters, But ...

  • Executive Councilor Ray Burton, left under sign and  New Hampshire Highway Safety Coordinator Peter Thomson pose underneath a new sign as Greg Placey throws the switch Monday, Sept. 19, 2005, in Franconia, N.H. A recent study showed a high moose population on a five mile strip of road just north of Franconia Notch and are trying to warn drivers as the rutting seaason begins. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    Executive Councilor Ray Burton, left under sign and New Hampshire Highway Safety Coordinator Peter Thomson pose underneath a new sign as Greg Placey throws the switch Monday, Sept. 19, 2005, in Franconia, N.H. A recent study showed a high moose population on a five mile strip of road just north of Franconia Notch and are trying to warn drivers as the rutting seaason begins. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • Gov. Maggie Hassan speaks to a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Lebanon, N.H., on Nov. 19, 2013. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    Gov. Maggie Hassan speaks to a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Lebanon, N.H., on Nov. 19, 2013. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

  • Executive Councilor Ray Burton, left under sign and  New Hampshire Highway Safety Coordinator Peter Thomson pose underneath a new sign as Greg Placey throws the switch Monday, Sept. 19, 2005, in Franconia, N.H. A recent study showed a high moose population on a five mile strip of road just north of Franconia Notch and are trying to warn drivers as the rutting seaason begins. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
  • Gov. Maggie Hassan speaks to a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Lebanon, N.H., on Nov. 19, 2013. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

Meriden

I was just thinking, not that it really matters .

There are a lot of speed zones on New Hampshire state highways that make no sense at all. Makes you wonder if some are designed just to keep the speeding fine money rolling into Concord. One of the worst is on Route 25 in West Rumney, where nearly two miles of modern, wide road are marked 40 miles per hour, and there aren’t more than a half dozen houses on the whole stretch. And, no , the cops haven’t bagged me there — yet.

These “early release days” at Upper Valley schools have gotten out of hand. Seems like there’s one every two or three weeks, making life all the harder for working parents.

I’m still hoping to see an Amtrak train doing 75 miles an hour through Balloch’s Crossing on Route 12A in Cornish or, better yet, over the High Bridge in West Claremont. Upgraded track has speeded things up, but it’s still a long time getting to New York by rail.

Maggie Hassan now is a way better speaker as governor than when she was an obscure former state senator campaigning two years ago. The difference is actually night and day.

How many variations on the girl’s name Alicia can possibly be dreamed up? Must be a dozen out there.

The march of Walmarts across the New Hampshire and Vermont landscape has been extensively chronicled, but I rarely see much about the far-more-numerous dollar stores that have been springing up lately. Some take up vacant spaces in downtowns, but most seem to go up in a matter of days on vacant land at the edge of town.

Anyone who can watch seven hours of NFL Redzone on Sunday afternoon without suffering disorientation and blurred vision has to be tough.

Whatever became of John McLaughry and his Ethan Allen Institute? I used to enjoy his acerbic takedowns of Vermont sacred cows on the Valley News op-ed pages or in VPR essay segments.

This Claremont kid named Kaleb Tarczewski is worth keeping an eye on. He stands 7 feet tall and he plays for Arizona in the big, big, big-time world of NCAA major college basketball. Hope he sticks it out and gets a degree rather than entering the NBA’s early draft.

How I struggled back in the day in Gladys Churchill’s French class at Hanover High, but I still try to eavesdrop on the Quebec truckers chatting in the next booth at the P&H Truck Stop in Wells River. Oh well, at least I can understand the bilingual menus.

Few sights in the Upper Valley are more thrilling to see than the bald eagle pairs residing here and there along the Connecticut River stem, especially the ones that have a nest in a tall pine that hangs out over the water between Plainfield and North Hartland.

Imus in the Morning on Q-106 isn’t what it used to be without the fresh-daily dead-on parody sketches, but his interviews with newspeople and authors are still worth listening to.

Got to hand it to Mike Slive, commissioner of the Southeast Conference, leading league of the college football superpowers. Not too many years ago he was practicing gritty grassroots law right here in the Upper Valley, litigating car crash and soured bank-loan cases. Now he’s arguably the second most powerful figure in U.S. football, after the NFL’s Roger Goodell.

There are elementary school children who, when they’re not sleeping or in school, are getting hauled to rinks all over New England at ungodly hours for hockey matches or practices. Got to wonder about parents willing to make that sort of commitment.

The Car Talk guys on the public radio stations are still kind of funny, even though all those reruns where they talk about problems with cars from the early 1980s are getting lame. But VPR’s Eye on the Sky continues to be my favorite broadcast feature — literate, accurate and devoid of the storm frenzies that afflict our region’s television stations.

Ray Burton was a one-of-a-kind rural New Hampshire product and whoever takes his place is always going to be measured against what Ray would have done. With all those Chamber of Commerce breakfasts, ribbon cuttings, junior high school graduations, hokey parades, milking contests and fishing derbies that he attended, he certainly showed the validity of the old dictum that 80 percent of success in life lies in just showing up. But there was more to the guy than what all the tributes to him have put forth, and that is that he had heart, a quality sorely missing in most politicians today.

One of the most unusual and interesting community projects going on in the Upper Valley is Dr. Chad Finer’s effort to take a photograph of every resident of Norwich. Cornish, Plainfield and some other towns did 250th anniversary group photos that included perhaps a quarter or a third of the townspeople, so if he comes anywhere close to his 100 percent goal it will be a most remarkable achievement.

The best chocolate chip cookie is one where there’s barely enough dough to hold the chocolate morsels together.

Surprising to read that the Selective Service still has draft boards in place, even though they don’t have anything to do these days. Made me think back to that day I got my 1-A draft card from good old Local Board No. 10 in Newport — sent me straight over to Windsor to join up with Capt. Lowry, First Sgt. Monette and the Vermont Army National Guard.

Think of all those adolescent brains that got fried over the holidays playing Grand Theft Auto on the flatscreen.

Always believed Vermont’s complete electoral shift from rigid red to deep blue was a consequence of the flow of hippies, hand-spinning trustafarians and New York money into the state, but UVM’s contrarian political scientist Frank Bryan has disabused me of that notion. Heard him give a convincing talk in Norwich last month in which he argued that the rise of the Green Mountain Democrats was a homegrown phenomenon with roots tracing back to the 1950s that would have happened no matter what.

It ain’t a real winter until the roadside snowbanks are at least 4 feet high.

Steve Taylor lives and farms in Meriden. He contributes occasionally to the Valley News.