I've been living here in New Hampshire for over two months now, and have been here long enough to develop some opinions on the place. On the whole, it's significantly better than Groton - it took barely more than a week to figure that out. It doesn't quite measure up to Northport, but I'm not sure any other place would - and Portsmouth is not too far behind on quality. A bit of the good and the bad:
Good: tax-free shopping, and generally lower cost of living.
New Hampshire charges no sales tax, making it an attractive place to shop. The commissary and the Navy Exchange on the shipyard also offer this benefit, but when I'm released from work, my mind runs on a single track - getting off Seavey Island as quickly as possible. Reducing the costs of the necessities of everyday life is, of course, a great advantage, as it assists me in building the nest egg to cushion the transition out of the Seagoing Military Force, as well as to finance the Post-Navy Roadtrip (to be referred to henceforth in tfo as the PNR). This afternoon, I bought twelve bottles of cool, refreshing Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Let's compare prices on this item between here, Groton, and Long Island:
|Market Basket, Portsmouth, NH||Navy Exchange Package Store, Groton, CT||Stop and Shop, Northport, NY|
Yes, you're reading that correctly: the very same item costs nearly three-quarters again as much as it does here. One last point on this topic - this week, I've seen gasoline as low as $2.61 around here.
Good: higher quality of available leisure time diversions.
If you've been reading tfo, you know that the Submersible Death Trap doesn't permit us very much time away from its evil clutches. But when we are temporarily released from our indentured servitude, we aren't faced with a shortage of options. There are plenty of bars and restaurants in downtown Portsmouth, and I've enjoyed those that I've sampled, despite the fact they close at the ludicrous hour of one AM. Boston is an hour south, and Portland is an hour north; I haven't checked out that city yet, but may do so in the near future. And we're a scant fifteen miles from the University of New Hampshire. Though the Wildcat hockey team drove stakes through my heart in consecutive years (2002 and 2003), I might be willing to warm up to the school; any further interpretation of that statement is left to the reader.
Bad: these people can't drive to save their life.
Having visited Boston a couple of times this year, I can personally attest to the legendary aggressiveness and skill of that city's drivers. But those qualities have not diffused to the Seacoast. People drive slowly everywhere around here. They do it in the left lane, in the right lane, and sometimes straddling the two. I'm a fan of using the full available speed that a road allows me - and if that means I happen to be north of 60 mph in a zone posted for 35, then so be it. They're deficient on using their turn signals. They don't properly respond to yellow lights (that is to say, they're more apt to slow down at the sight of one then accelerate to go through). Thus far, I've been able to extend my citation-free streak, currently over five years in length; I don't see any reason why this shouldn't continue. And as for an accident, I'm an excellent driver on the open road; I've clearly inherited the Road Warrior gene from my mother. It's only in close-quarters driving (i. e. parking lots and such) that I have any sort of problem.
Bad: I'm further from home.
This isn't really a huge negative, though. It's been two months since I've been down to Long Island, but that's counterbalanced by the fact that I don't feel a primal urge to leave this area - an urge that reared itself quite often during my two-year stint in Connecticut.
I'm now going to shift gears and talk about books. I recently finished plodding through Starship Troopers, and though it took me a couple of weeks to read, it wasn't because it was boring; I simply chose to read only on duty days. The book was recommended to me by one of my co-workers (Miguel, the one who was with me on my birthday in Fort Lauderdale), on the basis that it was as much a political statement as a work of science fiction. In that regard, Heinlein certainly delivered. He makes a compelling argument for the restriction of voting rights to those who have served the government in some form, justifying it thusly: "we require each person who wishes to exert control over the state to wager his own life - and lose it, if need be - to save the life of the state." However, I don't completely agree. The system Heinlein advocates seems no better than the feudal societies of the Middle Ages. Whereas then, power was concentrated in those possessing either lineage or wealth, the structure of the Terran Federation similarly distinguishes between a privileged class (veteran "citizens") and a larger body with no control over the course of policy ("civilians"). I think the organization of our government - as originally outlined in our Constitution - is superior to the system depicted in Starship Troopers. It's been working for over two and a quarter centuries, and though it is flawed, it has worked better that anything else out there.
Having finished Starship Troopers, I shifted gears to something a bit more current - The Alphabet of Manliness, by Maddox. The majority of this work is simply absurd, but that's what gives it such a high humor value. I'm looking forward to finishing this up, for two reasons. First, I can give it to Ray, who has been clamoring for it, and two, so that I can simply move on to something else.
Speaking of Ray, a couple of weeks back, he turned me on to a hilarious viral video: Debate '08: Obama Girl vs. Giuliani Girl. But it wasn't until a few days ago that I discovered that the voice behind Obama Girl was a familiar one to me - Leah Kauffman, who also did the vocals for Bunny in My Box in a Box earlier this year. If you're one of the fourteen or so people who haven't yet been to Barely Political, consider yourself advised to go there.
And with that, I close; I have duty again tomorrow, courtesy of a swap with Evan to support his participation on the SDT's softball team. Enjoy your Sunday night, my peeps.