May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.   My heart goes out to the families of soldiers that have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 50's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye's Heights (the Luminaria Program). And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.

History

May 29, 2010

CA Dreaming 1 - Lunch With Andy

A week ago, I took a quick trip to Southern California to visit with friends and family.  After spending a quiet day on Thursday with my Aunt and Cousins, on Friday I headed to Brea to Taps Fish House and Brewery. 

The purpose of the day was to reconnect with a great friend in Andy.  Andy, if you see this on FaceBook, I Love You Buddy :o)

The restaurant was awesome, the name says it all.  We had some oysters, salmon, and since we were having so much fun, split a dessert - Bananas Foster, a first for me.

It was a great time and we look forward to seeing him again next year.  We are so pleased that he invited us to his Phd graduation ceremony, and it just happens to coincide with our Route 66 travel plans.

May 28, 2010

Science Scene - Jurassic Park Looms?

Scientists in Australia, Canada and Denmark have resurrected woolly mammoth blood, determining that the huge beasts' circulatory systems acted as a sort of antifreeze. The process uses DNA extracted from 43,000-year-old mammoth bones and then duplicated inside E. coli bacteria cells. It could easily be adapted to other extinct species, the researchers say, suggesting future medical labs full of dinosaur blood (if not full-fledged dinos).


For now, the team plans to study Australian marsupials like the extinct thylacine, a small tiger, and endangered Tasmanian Devil.

The team's method for re-creating the blood was a breakthrough in itself. Researchers used DNA that had been extracted from Siberian mammoth specimens, between 25,000 and 43,000 years old. (Mammoth DNA has already been sequenced.)

They converted the blood DNA sequences into RNA, and inserted them into E. coli bacteria. The bacteria acted as RNA factories, manufacturing authentic mammoth protein.

The resulting hemoglobin molecules are no different than taking a blood sample from a real woolly mammoth, Cooper said.

The concept could conceivably be used for any extinct species, as long as scientists have DNA samples.

"(This) opens the way to being able to study all sorts of proteins from the past, and to study many physiological characteristics," Cooper said. "It's really paleobiology; you're studying how extinct species function, and how they adapted to climate change and other past environmental conditions that we can't get at in the fossil record."

Source: http://www.popsi.com/

May 27, 2010

Philosophical Phun - Forgiveness :o)

Generally regarded as a positive response to human wrongdoing, forgiveness is a conceptually, psychologically, and morally complex phenomenon. There is disagreement over the meaning of forgiveness, its relation to apparent cognates, the psychological, behavioral, and normative dimensions of forgiveness, and when and under what conditions forgiveness is morally permissible, required, or wrong.


The term ‘forgive’ derives from ‘give’ or to ‘grant’, as in ‘to give up,’ or ‘cease to harbor (resentment, wrath).’ More specifically, ‘forgive’ refers to the act of giving up a feeling, such as resentment, or a claim to requital or compensation. And the term ‘forgiveness’ is defined as the action of forgiving, pardoning of a fault, remission of a debt, and similar responses to injury, wrongdoing, or obligation.

In granting forgiveness, a victim of wrong re-orients a relationship that has been disrupted or compromised by wrongdoing. This theme is an integral part of forgiveness common both to western philosophical and theological traditions, and is often envisioned as part of a more elaborate interaction in which people seek to atone for wrongs and secure forgiveness in the name of interpersonal reconciliation or in the pursuit of the ultimate human benefit, divine salvation.

Maintaining or perpetuating personal relationships is one of the clearest and most important ends of forgiveness, though not the only important one. Forgiving those who wrong us often helps us move beyond strong negative emotions which, if allowed to fester, could harm us psychologically and physically. Forgiveness benefits wrongdoers, as well, by releasing them from the blame and hard feelings often directed toward them by those they wrong, or helping them transcend the guilt or remorse they suffer from having done wrong, thereby allowing them to move forward in their lives.

For me, forgiveness means acknowledging yet moving past a transgression. This is not done lightly, and usually involves a lot of contemplation. The closer and more important the person is to us, the more contemplation that must occur. The saying fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on you, comes to mind. There have definitely been times that I have truly forgiven. Of course, on the flip side, I can think of people that are not deserving of forgiveness, and those folks get very special contemplation.

May 26, 2010

Bucko's Bucks - Coins

Some U.S. coins cost more to make than they are actually worth. The prices of coin metals, which fell to five-year lows at the beginning of 2009, have risen back to 2007 levels, driving the production price of some coins up above their face value. According to the United States Mint's 2009 Annual Report, pennies currently cost 1.6 cents apiece to produce and nickels cost 6 cents apiece; more recent estimates claim that the cost of manufacturing a nickel is closer to 9 cents.

In 2009, the U.S. Mint issued 3.2 billion pennies, worth $32.2 million. With manufacturing costs pegged at 1.6 cents apiece, the Federal government lost $19.8 million on the deal. In the same year, it also shipped 207 million nickels, at a loss of $2.2 million. By comparison, the Mint made $15 million off its sales of dimes, $132 million off its sales of quarters and a whopping $318.7 million off its sales of dollar coins.

The government makes money on every dime, quarter and dollar that is taken out of circulation. Quarters, for example, cost approximately 12 cents apiece to make, which means that the government pulls in about 13 cents every time one goes into a coin collection. The state quarters program, which wrapped up in 2008, inspired an estimated 147 million people to hoard quarters. The U.S. Mint issued 34.3 billion quarters in the program, yielding a profit of $6.3 billion.  

Although the proposals to solve the cost problem range from plastic currency to industrial porcelain coins to (gasp!) dropping the penny, the most likely result of all this will be that the government will add a base metal -- probably aluminum -- to its pennies and nickels.
In the meantime, there's a quick solution to the Mint's problems: A commemorative dime series honoring either Franklin Delano Roosevelt or World War II would increase demand for -- and thus production of -- dimes.

Source

May 25, 2010

Science Scene - Waterbox

Plants lose heat to the air at night, and the cool surface of the leaves sucked water droplets from the warm, humid air. Nature’s watering system.  I wish there were more people looking for ways to move forward such as this man has.  Love the name as well.

Today, one third of the world’s population lives where water is scarce or of poor quality, a number that’s expected to jump to two thirds by 2025. Making matters worse, in some areas deforestation and overfarming have led to eroded soil that can no longer support many crops. Hoff designed his Groasis Waterboxx with this in mind—it’s a plant incubator that’s made from plastic or a biodegradable material and designed to cool faster than the night air, like his lilies. The box is coolest at its top, the part that has the most contact with the open air. Water condenses on the cover and flows down into a small holding tank, where it’s trapped, along with any rainwater. The collected water and the box itself keep the plant and its roots hydrated and protected.

How the Groasis Waterboxx Works: Water condenses on the box's cool top, collects in a tank, and drips into the soil to hydrate the plant. Paul Wootton

At the same time, a candle-like wick on the bottom of the box slowly drips small doses of the water into the soil and root system underneath, providing enough for the plant’s first year of life but still leaving the roots thirsty enough to grow strong and deep. The box can easily be lifted up off the ground, over the top of the plant, and reused.

In 2006 Hoff took 25 Waterboxxes to Morocco’s Sahara desert, and after a year, 88 percent of the trees he treated had green leaves, while 90 percent of those watered weekly (the traditional local method) died under the scorching sun. He is conducting more experiments with 20,000 Waterboxxes in difficult terrains in places like Pakistan and Ecuador this year.

Hoff is hoping to recruit people to buy a few Waterboxxes from his Web site (groasis.com) to see how the invention works in other regions he hasn’t reached. “Everywhere you look, there’s space to plant,” he says. “But I can’t do this alone.”

Source

May 19, 2010

Short Trip to Sunny CA

Taking a quick trip to Southern CA to visit with family. 

Back around Christmas time, I called out to talk with family in the Los Angeles area, and my Aunt did not really know who I was.  Beth and I talked and we agreed that a quick trip for me to go out and visit was warranted, we did not want to wait until we are out there next year.

So on this trip, I will be visiting with my Aunt, several cousins, my brother, my nephew, some favorite nieces, and my friend Andy.

I decided to not have any pre-planned posts, but I will try post some pictures and such.  For those of you following on CrackBook, I will have my CrackBerry, so expect more activity than usual there :o)Commenting will be sparce at best.  See you when I return next week.

Taking Inventory


Following information was found at The Happiness Project.

 
What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

 
Happiness takes effort. Amidst our busy lives that could easily become crammed with concerns and obligations, you must make an effort to carve out occasions - and conditions - for happiness to transpire. At 18, I thought that happiness was completely organic. Now I recognize that intention plays a great role in happiness.

Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?

 
Rushing. I've had a problem lately with wanting to rush through process. I see a point in the future that I want to race to and I stop appreciating the present. I get all worked up and then I stop and realize, "what the heck am I doing racing through part of my life?" The processes we endure are, in fact, life. Rushing life makes no sense.

 
Do you work on being happier? If so, how?

 
Yes. I try to take inventory every now and then - especially when I feel encumbered by the unknowns. There are certain things in my life that bring me to a happy state. Family is one of them. Certain projects and memories also remind me how lucky I am. When I feel anxious I try to take the broader perspective and reconnect with the "constants" in my life that are, in essence, the roots of my happiness.

Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you’ve found very helpful?
 
There are a few mantras that I have said to myself over the years.
  • People who change the world are people who master what they love.
  • Don't be ambitious to be successful, be ambitious to be happy.
  • The point of life is to have fun and deserve it.
As you can see, I'm always trying to reconcile responsibility with joy. I enjoy doing so.

  
I say take time each and every day to find or do something that makes you happy. It really is not as hard as it seems, but it does take effort :o)

May 18, 2010

Science Scene - Orion

On May 6, 2010, NASA test-fired its $220 million Orion crew capsule, which it is currently re-purposing into an escape vehicle, per President Obama's new vision for NASA. Conducted at the Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the launch came off without a hitch, launching Orion more than a mile skyward before deploying parachutes and drifting back to the desert floor a mile from the launch site.

Dubbed Pad Abort-1, the mission performed a series of tasks during the short flight, including mid-air reorientation and firing of all of its three solid propellant rocket motors. The primary motor hurls the crew quickly away from the pad, an attitude control motor keeps it on the proper orientation, and a jettison motor divorces the crew module from the rest of the abort system so the parachutes can deploy. All systems, at least at first look, appear to be go.
The system is designed to initiate crew abort in a split second should the crew be in danger on the launch pad or during early stages of ascent. But NASA also thinks the data gathered from the Orion tests will inform the design of future manned spacecraft.

Source

May 15, 2010

Critical Thinking - Choice

"You want to prepare your child to think as he gets older. You want him to be critical in his judgments. Teaching a child, by your example, that there's never any room for negotiating or making choices in life may suggest that you expect blind obedience-but it won't help him in the long run to be discriminating in choices and thinking."


- Lawrence Balter, Psychologist
Dr. Balter's Child Sense, 1985



It seems to me that some parts of our society are moving into the realm of blind obedience.  It is easier to believe what you hear then to lend a critical ear, contemplate the pros and cons, do some research, and reach your own conclusion.  Such lack of questioning of authority and attitude leads to cult like followings. 

My desire is that we go back to a society that has civil discourse, debate based on facts, and considering the interest and needs of others.  Enough of the WIIFM mentality.

May 14, 2010

To Meet or Not To Meet?

The following clip represents how I feel about a lot of the meetings I have to attend:




During our day-to-day jobs, it is easy to get lost in spreadsheets, software programs, charts in trying to keep a project on track. Although reports, tracking systems and memos can supply needed updates, face-to-face meetings – and the open communications they encourage – can be the most important aspect in the project life.

Here are some examples of meetings that should take place over the course of the project:

Key Turnover Meetings: Their purpose is to pass project information from departments currently involved with the project to departments coming on board. For example, engineering to fabrication or engineering to field installation.

Weekly Project Team Meetings: These meetings allow team members to interact, evaluate schedules, and address problems or issues. This gives the project manager/leader an opportunity to assess the project status and adjust manpower to ensure the team will meet milestone objectives.

Customer Meetings: These meetings allow the customer and project manager/leader to communicate design information. It is imperative to keep the customer involved to ensure there are no discrepancies between what the customer wants and what is delivered.

Notwithstanding schedule conflicts, business travel, and e-mails that provide a ready excuse for the non-personal exchange of information, face-to-face meetings should occur whenever possible as the project moves from stage to stage. When the last milestone is reached, the project manager/leader conducts a “post-project meeting” with the team. Team members provide candid input about “what went well” and “what went badly” and offer suggestions on how to improve future projects.

This has been proven to me many times over the years, looking another person in the eye and getting there commitment is so much more powerful than a telephone call or e-mail exchange. It becomes personal.



May 13, 2010

Reverse Vending

With the goal of boosting the nation's beverage-container recycling rate by nearly 50 percent in the coming years, PepsiCo and Waste Management have launched a multi-year partnership to bring reverse vending machines to the masses.

The Dream Machines program will bring as many as 3,000 recycling machines to high-traffic areas, where individuals can recycle their cans and bottles and earn reward points or donate cash to charities.

The machine itself is like a vending machine in reverse. A video screen plays advertising and informational videos, which are updated wirelessly and tailored to each site. A consumer first touches the screen and follows instructions, either to swipe a key fob to track rewards points or to defer registration for later, if at all.

Next the user scans the product barcode, and places the plastic or aluminum bottle (no glass yet) in the proper chute. The machine then spits out a receipt with reward points good for travel or movie tickets, or other benefits, such as coupons for Pepsi products.

The bin does not crush containers, as the sponsors' research says consumers don't like the noise. Each kiosk can hold about 300 bottles or cans. [...] The person responsible for emptying the machine gets an alert via email when the machine is nearly full. The recyclables are picked up by Waste Management.

I think the concept is good, I used to use a machine like this when I lived in South East Michigan, but the 300 bottle/can capacity can be problematic.

Source

May 12, 2010

Bucko's Bucks - SmartyPig

SmartyPig will be moving to a new variable interest rate effective May 19, 2010. The interest rate and annual percentage yield (APY) for your account depends upon the applicable rate tier. Effective as of May 19, 2010:

Interest rate earned on balances* $1 - $50,000 will earn 2.133% (2.15% APY)

Interest rate earned on balances* above $50,000 will earn 0.499% (0.50% APY)

Pretty impressive savings rates for the current environment, and you can set up separate savings goals.

May 11, 2010

Trust...

Rather than defining trust, think about it.

 
Do the following, pausing a few seconds between each:
  1. Make a list of the people you trust and think about why.
  2. Make a second list of the people you distrust and why.
  3. Write down what it will take someone on the second list to regain your trust.

 The last question is rhetorical, "Nothing, they never regain complete trust."

 
So, whose trust list are you on?

 

May 10, 2010

Science Scene - Better Than Pissing In The Wind

If you've got an electronic device, you need power either in the form of a cable or a battery. If you've got a battery, you still need a means of charging it. South Korean battery makers have created the MetalCell, a magnesium battery based on 2,000-year-old technology that can be charged with saltwater or, barring that, urine.

MetalCell was designed with militaries in mind; on the modern battlefield, soldiers rely on a growing array of electronics to execute their missions, but when operating in remote areas or cut off from support, those devices can run out of juice at inopportune moments. But MetalCell can sit in the back of a Humvee, in a remote bunker, or in a locker at a forward operating base for years, waiting to power up electrical devices in a pinch.

Fitted with magnesium plates inside, the MetalCell can be charged up with nothing more than the addition of saltwater. The sodium in the salt reacts with the magnesium to create a dose of low-voltage power that can power up laptop, a flashlight, night vision specs, etc. when no other source is available. The output can keep a laptop humming for more than four hours and can be recharged with fresh saltwater until the magnesium begins to deteriorate.

Soldiers can pool salt from their Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs) to create the proper sodium solution, but failing that, soldiers could also charge up the MetalCell with their urine (and given the blandness of MREs, they might opt to).

Source

May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

This is a day where we stop to take the time to recognize and honor our mothers, who nurture and protect us, who give of themselves and then some, who love us no matter what we have or have not done. The best image in my mind is the one at the left. My philosophy has always been that this is part of every day, but one day is better than none at all.


So here is hoping that if you are a mother, that you have a glorious day. If you are a son or daughter, I hope you had the chance to tell your Mom how much she means to you, and most importantly, that you love her.

Happy Mother's Day!

May 8, 2010

Coyote Beautiful :o)

He is in a zone as he slowly motors down the path through the marsh, green bursting forth, the path soft from recent rain fall.  There is a flash of fur, and suddenly before him, no more than 40 feet away, is a majestic animal.  He depresses the clutch, and as the mower gently rumbles, they stare at each other for 30 seconds.  The man makes a waving motion and says "go on", but gets no reaction.  He slowly releases the clutch, and in a flash of fur the beautiful creature moves into the brush.  As the man trundles by, he glances to his left and there he sees the redish brown coyote standing and sniffing the air, wondering what creature he has just encountered.  As I moved off into the yard, I smile and think to myself, this is why I take the extra time to cut the path through the back of our property.  It is a memory I will cherish for a long time.

Going Green - Cape Fear

Yesterday, I posted about a Danish company that is going green.  Today, the post is about a recent similar project that made it past its first herdle here in the US.  Hope it makes it to fruition.

America may have taken her first steps in what is sure to be a long, incremental, and sometimes painful shift toward a large-scale clean energy future. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar finally approved the Cape Wind project on April 28th, allowing for the construction of 130 turbines at Horseshoe Shoal south of Cape Cod.

The project will be the first major offshore wind project backed by the federal government, and if successful it might not be the last. Salazar said today that Cape Wind is only the first of many wind projects that will dot the Atlantic coast, piping carbon-free electricity back to shore for use in public power grids.

Cape Wind has been mired in red tape for nine years, mostly facing opposition from local Native American tribes, environmental groups, and property owners along the sound fearful that the turbines would mar their (quite expensive) oceanside views. But geographic factors -- water depth, natural shelter from the open sea, and distance from dry land -- make it an ideal spot to flip wind into electricity.

Cape Wind's turbines should churn out power equivalent to a medium-sized coal plant. That's enough to power three-quarters of the homes and businesses on the cape and nearby islands. Salazar said the environmental impact would be that of pulling 175,000 cars off the road.

But the greater impact is yet to be seen. If Cape Wind can manage to dodge the lawsuits that are surely coming, demonstrate a reasonable level of courtesy toward native ecosystems, and start producing renewable energy in the next few years, America will have her first proving ground for large-scale offshore wind energy. A success at Cape Wind could lead to a smattering of offshore wind projects all along the East Coast by decade's end.

If opponents don't tie the project up too badly with litigation, construction on Cape Wind could begin within the year.

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-04/us-approves-first-offshore-wind-farm-cape-cod

May 7, 2010

Going Green - Wind Energy

The wind farm was constructed and is owned by DONG Energy, and its 91 wind turbines in total will generate green power corresponding to the annual power consumption of 200,000 households. Horns Rev. 2 is located approximately 30 km off the west coast of Jutland in the Danish part of the North Sea. By 2020, DONG Energy aims to triple its production capacity of renewable energy. In the coming months, the company will open five new wind farms and has a number of other projects in its pipeline as well.


Some are fix'in to get ready, and some are doing. I think we have some things we can learn from the Danish.

May 6, 2010

Bucko's Bucks - When To Shop?

When is the best time to buy...?


Small appliances/electronics - April (discounts on older model after news ones come out)

Computer - August (back to school sales)

Television - January (post-holiday discounts and new models unveiled at CES)

Portable Music Players - September (discounts on older model in ancitipation of new models)

Camera - February (discounts on older models in ancitipation of new models)

Lawnmower/BBQ/Snowblower - End of season (prevent storing bulky items)

House - January (weather keeps traffic down)

Clothing - Six weeks after first comes out (then the markdowns start)

Automobile - October to December (discounts on older models, bigger discounts in Dec but smaller selection)

Farmer's Market - end of day (do not want to pack up remaining items)

Outside Flea Market - last weekend of season (seller wants to avoid storage)

May 5, 2010

Science Scene - SeaOrbiter

Out of this world: This is what the SeaOrbiter will look like - its inventor wants it to be a space station of the sea, but this huge vertical vessel could be the future of ocean exploration.

Called the SeaOrbiter, the huge 51m (167ft) structure is set to be the world's first vertical ship allowing man a revolutionary view of life below the surface. Although currently only a prototype its inventor Jacques Rougerie thinks his international oceanographic station will soon be setting sail (construction is expected to start in September with launch in 2012).

The architect, whose home and office are houseboats, wants to launch half a dozen of the vessels. At the moment he says he has half the €35million (£32million) that it will cost to build the first one, and is confident of finding the rest.

When it does first set sail, there will be six crew members, six scientists and six more people on board - these may be astronauts training in extreme conditions or doctors studying submarine human behaviour.

The SeaOrbiter will drift silently across the ocean - navigation tools, communications equipment and a lookout deck will rise above the surface of the sea.

Under the water level, there will be a pressurised deck for divers to undertake daily missions over a period of months.

The ship's anti-collision system is based on the one used by the international space station.

Mr Rougerie is confident that the ship will be built. 'A year ago, it was 50-50,' he said. 'Now I would say it’s 90 per cent certain.'

May 4, 2010

Philisophical Phun - Pure Experience

Nishida KitarĂ´ was the most significant and influential Japanese philosopher of the twentieth-century. His work is pathbreaking in several respects: it established in Japan the creative discipline of philosophy as practiced in Europe and the Americas; it enriched that discipline by infusing Anglo-European philosophy with Asian sources of thought; it provided a new basis for philosophical treatments of East Asian Buddhist thought; and it produced novel theories of self and world with rich implications for contemporary philosophizing. Nishida's work is also frustrating for its repetitive and often obscure style, exceedingly abstract formulations, and detailed but frequently dead-end investigations.Nishida once said of his work, “I have always been a miner of ore; I have never managed to refine it” [I really like this statement, I resemble this remark :o)]


For an interesting summary of Buddhism, go over to Shock and Awe.

“Pure experience” names not only the basic form of every sensuous and every intellectual experience but also the fundamental form of reality, indeed the “one and only reality” from which all differentiated phenomena are to be understood. Cognitive activities such as thinking or judging, willing, and intellectual intuition are all derivative forms of pure experience but identical to it insofar as they are in act—when thinking, willing, etc. are going on.
Nishida would deny that his position is a kind of idealism, either subjective or transcendental, because no subjective mind, human or divine, is the origin of what is taken as reality, and no personified or ego-aware spirit is its beginning or end. His notion of pure experience clearly shows the influence of William James, Ernst Mach, and others, but it differs from their notions as well as from twentieth-century expositions of pre-reflective experience by its emphasis on the non-individuated character and the seamless development of such experience.
To me, seeing the blue of Crater Lake, or the frolic of a foal, the first sound of the hummingbird's wings, at that moment of first observation, and the sense of beauty and joy, are in line with this pure experience. Later, we may contemplate why they have that reaction for us, but the first moment of pure experience is priceless.

Source

May 3, 2010

Anger Clouds Financial Judgement

Polls suggest that there are many Americans who are so blinded by rage that they are missing the opportunity to invest in what is beginning to look like an economic recovery. Unfortunately, those Americans won't be able to pay for their retirements out of that rage.


The S&P 500 has risen 42.5% since Obama took office, propelled upward in part by a $787 billion stimulus program and a bailout of Wall Street, and stock prices remain attractive relative to earnings growth forecasts. But a March 2010 Bloomberg national poll found that Americans believe the economy has gotten worse, by "an almost 2-to-1 margin" since March 2009. Yet facts are stubborn things and all that anger may be keeping politically disgruntled investors out of stocks at a time when rejoining the market could help them replenish retirement funds decimated by the S&P 500's 40% fall between its October 2007 peak and January 2009.

There may be many reasons for the mismatch between the public mood and the state of the economy and the markets. One might be that a group of politicians is hoping to channel the public's rage over the financial crisis against the administration that appears to be cleaning it up. In so doing, they may be hoping to regain the political power they lost after pushing the policies that caused that financial crisis. Another reason could be more benign: Employment takes a long time to pick up after a recession ends, and until the job market comes back strong, the public stays in a bad mood.

See full article from DailyFinance: http://srph.it/cUA997

May 1, 2010

Can You Do Magic?

Are you sick and tired of pressing those tiny buttons on your TV remote? Then you may be interested in this. This nicely crafted "magical item" can control up to 13 different infrared codes (a.k.a. "change channel," "on/off," "volume," etc.) from your existing remotes. These functions are then activated when you fling and swish the wand around. As it is completely button-free, there's no other way to do it. Each function is assigned a different move of the wand. For example "spins" control volume, while "big swishes" mute the volume entirely.


Source