Nordic Tracks: Make Nordic new year resolutions

It's time to make your New Year resolutions — 2016 is here! Rather than making negative "I shall not" resolutions, I now adopt the "I will try to" style of resolutions. Over the years, I've found more success establishing new good habits rather than expunging old bad habits.
I'm working on my new positive resolutions. Some have to do with personal goals of organizing and down-sizing. Others have to do with learning new skills, staying active, socializing more and increasing my enjoyment of life and people. Many of these I can accomplish through cross-country skiing.


My 2016 Nordic New Year's Resolutions:
Exercise more frequently: In winter, if there's snow, that means more cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Being outside in the woods, enjoying nature and getting a vigorous, low-impact workout is not only good for me, it's fun!

Improve balance, strength, and coordination: Cross-country skiing is a great way to work on all of these. Balance is the first thing I have to get right. Strength comes into play, as my muscles hold that balance and propel me forward. Precise timing and coordination of these movements makes the skis fly. No matter how long you've been skiing, you can always improve your technique.

Spend time with friends: Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing are even more fun when you share them with friends and others. Plan your own outing or join a group tour like Jackson's Friday Gliders and Sliders, Bretton Wood's Thursday WRENegades group, or Great Glen Trails' Sunday Ski with Naturalist. For snowshoeing, take a friend on guided nature tours at Jackson, Great Glen Trails, Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring, Bretton Woods, and King Pine. Enjoy the trails together this new year.

Have more adventures: This year I want to try trails unknown. I can ski the National Forest ski trails like Beaver Brook, Hayes Copp, Pinkham Notch, and Zealand. Milan Hill State Park, north of Berlin, has groomed ski and snowshoe trails. At Franconia, Crawford, Effingham's Pine River, and Tamworth's Hemenway State Forests, there are ungroomed ski and snowshoe trails. Try something new and enjoy the adventure.

Share the love of Nordic skiing with others: Whether I'm teaching skiing, writing this column, or taking my two year old grandson skiing, my goal is for everyone to have fun cross-country skiing. I hope they'll discover that cross-country skiing is a great way to enjoy winter while exercising.
Make this year better than the last. Go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing with friends and family. Improve your technique and become a Nordic adventurer. Embrace winter as you glide along through the woods and fields, making your new year Nordic tracks.

Sally McMurdo is an avid cross-country skier who explores the winter woods of New England on skis and snowshoes. She is currently a cross-country ski instructor at Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in Jackson, New Hampshire.

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E. Scott Cracraft - Revisiting the Birmingham jail

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday approaches, this writer decided to again re-read Dr. King's "Letter from the Birmingham Jail." Dr. King was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama and spent time in that city's jail. There, he wrote his famous letter.
In that letter, Dr. King did not address unrepentant racists and segregationists. He was not writing to the Alabama Ku Klux Klan or even the White Citizens' Councils (these were the "nice" Southerners — the "button down Klan" — who would have never personally burned a cross or lynched anyone but who fought integration with "economic" weapons). Nor did he address other civil rights activists to his right and left.
Instead, he addressed fellow clergymen, the "nice" white folks, who, while perhaps sympathetic to the cause, cautioned King and others to "go slow." It is probably prudent to go slow in many situations but, do the privileged have a right to tell the oppressed how to best deal with their oppression? Throughout his career, Dr. King was constantly challenging "nice," sympathetic white clergymen to preach racial and social justice from their own pulpits.
This writer likes to think of himself as one of the "nice white folks." But, as a white, male, middle class person, he enjoys a lot of privileges. But, being nice is relative. How many times has he dismissed a racial or sexist joke as "harmless." How many times has he refused to stand up when he saw something unfair? No one is totally innocent except the victims. Hannah Arehnt and other scholars of the Jewish Holocaust write about the role of innocent bystanders and even members of the oppressed group.
Dr. King was not a saint or a god. He was a human being. Yes, he probably had extramarital affairs (tapes of which F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover played for Mrs. King). Nor was he naïve. He was non-violent but he was not passive. He demanded justice; he did not "request" it. He was willing to use all non-violent means to obtain that justice. He planned his tactics carefully and made use of all non-violent tactics including nationwide publicity.
Unfortunately, the history of Dr. King has been greatly revised for public consumption. He was not a "take it" sort of guy and his outspokenness became serious threat to the ingrained "establishment." When he was only talking about integrating buses, he was probably not a threat to the overall American establishment. But, later in his career, he started talking about class distinctions as well as the gap between rich and poor. That has often been risky to do in America.
He also started criticizing the War in Vietnam which did not earn him points with what President Eisenhower publically called "the military-industrial complex." Others did not like his support of organized labor. It was, after all, during his support of a garbage workers' strike in Memphis that he was shot.
He knew he was a target and was putting himself at great risk. But, he was willing to take that risk. He talked about his vulnerability in his "Mountain Top" speech shortly before he was murdered.
Also, with the anniversary of his birth approaching, this writer also re-read (and re-watched) Dr. Kings "I Have a Dream" speech. It is not certain that his dream has been fully realized. Sure, we have civil rights legislation and case law that may have improved some things but do we not have a long way to go? We still judge people not by the content of their character but rather by the color of their skin (as well as their religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, etc).
Racism and other social injustices are still alive and well in America. Will we be "nice" or will we do the right thing?

(Scott Cracraft is a citizen, a taxpayer, a veteran, and a resident of Gilford.)

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Michael Barone - Alarming drop in world trade

Battening down the hatches. That's what America and much of the rest of the world seem to be doing today, in an eerie re-enactment, though to much less of a degree, of what America and the world did in the 1930s. The result then wasn't very pretty. The result now is unknown.

One way the hatches are being battened down is that the volume of world trade has been declining, and not just temporarily, in response to the financial crisis of fall 2008.

Consider something that most people don't think much about: international trade. Listening to the political dialogue this year, one might suppose that increased trade only drains jobs from advanced countries like the United States. But in a broader perspective, greater trade produces greater productivity and growth. "International shipments broaden the pool of customers for a given product," writes The Wall Street Journal's William Mauldin, "and enhance competition and specialization, cutting prices for consumers."

Go to your local Wal-Mart or one of its competitors and you will see the effect. Prices for clothing and food have tended to decline over the last 40 years, something American consumers may take for granted, but which they may come to miss if trade flows stagnate.

And that may be happening. International trade dropped sharply after the financial crisis in 2008, rebounded in 2010, but has grown only about 3 percent a year since, compared to a 6 percent annual rate from 1983 to 2008. In that period world trade grew faster than the world economy as a whole. Now it is growing slower.

That's reminiscent of something far more drastic that happened in the early 1930s. As the famous spiral graph of economic historian Charles Kindleberger shows, world trade volumes declined by 67 percent between January 1929 and March 1933. That was almost double the 38 percent decline in world production.

This decline was exacerbated by trade restrictions, starting with the United States' Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which inspired higher tariffs and trade barriers in Europe and elsewhere. Nations trying to protect themselves from harm hurt the world as a whole — and themselves.

So it's a little chilling to see that the poll leaders for both parties' presidential nominations — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — are opposing the Trans-Pacific trade agreement negotiated by the Obama administration.

And that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has withdrawn it for the next year from consideration in the Senate, the house of Congress usually more amenable to free trade. Meanwhile, negotiations for a trans-Atlantic trade agreement have not reached fruition.
Another factor is at work: a sharp slowdown in China's growth rates, to what level, no one is sure. From 1982 to 2008 China's double-digit annual growth rate helped power world economic growth, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty there and providing increasingly inexpensive consumer goods and high-tech products in advanced countries.

For the Chinese, that growth rate restores China to its natural position as a great economic power, after an unpleasant 140-year interval of rebellion, revolution, civil war and Communist oppression. For the world, it has been a boost to growth whose magnitude is unlikely ever to be replicated.

The prospect of stagnant world trade and growing trade barriers may be cheered by those who think that will bring back the auto assembly plants of the 1960s. But battening down the hatches tends to make the air inside stale and to hinder the ship from moving forward.

A similar phenomenon may be happening: tightening of the borders. Some of this is necessary and beneficial. There is no reason to tolerate mass low-skill illegal immigration (which in fact has vastly diminished, down toward zero in the case of Mexico, since 2007).

And there are good reasons to be especially watchful about Muslims seeking visas or green cards, given the significant amount (though low percentage) of terrorists who are likely to be in their numbers. This is not nativism or bigotry but common sense.

But tightening the borders has already reduced the flow of visiting students and tourists — not a good thing. Neither is our politicians' inability to encourage more high-skill immigration.

These developments, again, are not nearly as dire as the situation in the 1930s, when immigration was close to zero and we blocked the entry of most Jewish and political refugees from Nazi-threatened Europe. That decade was brought to a close by world war. Let's hope that battening down the hatches today doesn't come to a similar end.

(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

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Lakes Region Profiles – The heroes of the Lakes Region

By MARY O'NEIL

Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group

 

To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, ask not what the Lakes Region can do for you, ask what you can do for the Lakes Region. This area provides amazing water access, boating on numerous pristine lakes, hiking and views from breathtaking trails and mountains, four-season recreation, communities with unsurpassed amenities, towns with all the charm as those in books...the list goes on and on. For this reason, the principle behind Kennedy's words is met with substantial measures by residents and visitors alike. There is a palpable feeling of gratitude among the people who live and visit the Lakes Region. This feeling has translated into action. Here in the Lakes Region, we have conservation trusts, associations, committees, groups and individuals who contribute to preserving our abundant resources.

The Lakes Region Conservation Trust has been working to protect the area since 1979. It has conserved more than 23,000 acres in 133 properties. Miles of shoreline on Winnipesaukee, Squam, Newfound, and other waterbodies have benefitted from the trust's efforts. The LRCT has conserved 20 summits and more than 85 miles of hiking trails around the region. Some of the properties that are protected include the popular hikes up Red Hill in Moultonborough and Mount Percival and Morgan in the Holderness area. The LRCT's most extensive stewardship encompasses the buildings and more than 5,000 acres of Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area in the Ossipee Mountains. This unique property provides historical interest and hiking opportunities in spectacular surroundings. The LRCT has guides and maps available, including Winnipesaukee paddle maps, hiking maps for Castle in the Clouds, and Homestead Forest Trail maps. The Trust's successes would not have been possible without the support of members and volunteers. For more information on the LRCT, visit www.lrct.org.

The Lake Winnipesaukee Association devotes its time to protecting the Big Lake's water quality and resources. In 2015 alone, they collected more than 200 water samples to monitor the health of the lake; continued to work closely with the NHDES, NH LAKES, and seven groups from around Winnipesaukee to combat milfoil and other invasive species; co-sponsored educational presentations on management practices and other topics relative to conservation; conducted shorefront site evaluations to provide storm-water improvement recommendations for homeowners; and engaged more than 100 children and adults in their "Floating Classroom," where they measured water quality and temperature, collected phytoplankton, and learned about the lake. The LWA says, "Volunteers are lake heroes." To learn more about the LWA, go to www.winnipesaukee.org.

The Squam Lakes Conservation Society's goal is to safeguard the Squam Lake region as "a unique region of islands, shorefront, back lands and mountains, wherein a harmony between the natural environment and mankind is preserved forever." Currently, the society owns or holds easements to over 120 properties. This comprises 7,500 acres and 19 miles of shorefront. Every year it stewards additional properties. In October of 2015 with help from over 130 donors and community support, the Society and its conservation partners purchased Whitten Woods, in Ashland, from Bill and Nancy Dailey. The New England Forestry Foundation will manage the timber resources on the property, SLCS will have a conservation easement to protect the land, and Squam Lakes Association will have an easement for a public trail system. Those interested in participating as volunteers can choose the type of property they would like to monitor. A team of 3 or 4 will meet at the property with equipment for marking and measuring, and walk the parcel to see if it is in compliance with the terms of the deed. Learn more at www.squamlakes.com.

Since 1992, the New Hampshire Lakes Association has been "dedicated to protecting New Hampshire's lakes and  watersheds." Its stewardship includes close cooperation with local lake, pond, and watershed associations and individuals who are concerned with guarding our precious and valuable environment. The association utilizes a number of educational and proactive programs to preserve our land and waters. Through its Lake Host Program, NH LAKES has conducted more than 665,000 courtesy boat inspections and made over 1,400 "saves" by removing invasive plant or animal specimens that would have otherwise entered the lakes. The goal of its Lake Conservation Corps is to implement lake-friendly landscaping techniques that reduce the amount of runoff polluting the lakes. The Lake Explorer Quest Program awards families and individuals who explore three waterbodies by canoe, kayak, or paddleboard with an official Lake Explorer Quest patch. The Watershed Warrior program is a fun way for kids and families to learn how to take action to keep the lakes and watersheds healthy. NH LAKES is spearheaded by president Tom O'Brien, who brings more than 20 years of watershed and park management service experience to the cause.

The mission of Windy Waters Conservancy is to secure the future of the waters, boreal and wetland habitats of the Lake Waukewan area. Its efforts extent to Lake Winona, Bear Pond, Hawkins Pond, Otter Pond and others. Recently, the conservancy put 192 acres within the Waukewan watershed into conservation with the help of the LRCT. This parcel is part of Center Harbor's largest undeveloped forest and contains the area's only level peat bog. For information, contact Chuck Braxton, president of the conservancy and a real estate agent at Roche Realty Group in Meredith, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Other groups involved in protecting our resources include the Town of Gilford Conservation Commission, Moultonborough Conservation Commission and Milfoil Committee, New Hampshire Audubon Society, Lake Waukewan Watershed Protective Association, Appalachian Mountain Club and Society for the Protection of NH Forests.

In short, the conservation efforts in the Lakes Region are a force to be reckoned with. Members and volunteers give back to the area in abundance because they recognize our survival as a community depends on the preservation of our resources. Keep up the good work.

Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, and can be reached at 366-6306. rocherealty.com

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Sanborn — A dream home for the new year?

The new year rolled in and a couple of hundred residential listings in the communities covered in this report rolled out. Expired, that is. We dropped from 948 listings as of December 1, 2105 down to 731 listings overnight. The median price point now stands at $255,000. You can expect to see many of these expired listings work their way back onto the market over the next few months with some of the waterfront properties likely waiting it out until spring. So, if you are thinking of selling your home, now really is a great time to list because of the fact that there are fewer listings, which means less competition. Buyers will also be watching for that special new home to hit the market after the holidays. It could be yours!

Well, it's officially 2016. You are all bright eyed, bushy tailed, upbeat, and planning to make changes in your life. Right after you get used to writing 2016 instead of 2015 on your checks. Maybe finding a new home is on top of the list of changes you'd like to make. But not just any home. You want to find your dream home. But just what is a dream home? It certainly must be something that you don't have now or you wouldn't be looking for it. But, dream homes are different for every person as we all have different tastes and ideas. However, just about every person would take any dream home if it was given to them or perhaps even if they could buy it at exactly the right price.

As a real estate agent, I see a lot of dream homes with my clients. Invariably, it seems that after looking at a number of homes, the one that the buyers would really like to buy is over their budget. Is the affordability factor, or more accurately, the inability to afford a particular home what makes that property a dream home? Not necessarily, but it is certainly part of it. That's what dreams are made of.

Most everyone, and certainly those house-oholics that watch HGTV, are familiar with their annual dream home give-away. You know, HGTV builds a fabulous dream home somewhere in a fantastic location, does a TV special on it, and then gives it away to some lucky person who has likely filled out some 400 entry forms. This year they rehabbed a wonderful waterfront home on Merritt Island, Florida. If you haven't seen the HGTV special, just Google "Dream Home" and the details will come up. HGTV has helped define what a dream home is... to some people. Check it out and you might as well enter the contest even if you don't like it or want to live in Florida. As I said, everyone has different tastes, but you'd take it if it were free.

If you need help determining what your dream home really is, Google "What is a Dream Home" and you'll find a couple of quizzes you can take to help. Surprisingly, I found that both the quizzes I took came up with the same home style despite asking completely different questions. I thought I was in trouble on the Better Homes and Gardens quiz when the question "If you were a Miss America contestant, what would your talent be?" came up, but I weathered through it OK.

While everyone likes to dream big, win the lottery, and have the big house on the water, your dream home in reality might be that home with the big back yard. It might be that home with the extra bedroom, with a three car garage, a fantastic master suite with a huge walk-in closet, a gourmet kitchen, or a man cave of epic proportions! It doesn't matter what price range you are looking in, there is likely a home out there that fulfills your current needs and desires. You just have to find it and that's what real estate agents do, help you find your Dream Home. We are here to help, so contact your agent and you'll be on your way.

P​ease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 1/1/16. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012

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