Sunday, July 30, 2006

A PRAYER..... I am not a religious person in the ...


I am not a religious person in the traditional sense. I do not believe there is an omnipotent and omminicent entity watching over this or any other planet. I believe that the only forces that can govern our collective survival is our ability to reason and a self-imposed "humanitarian moral order." Without these efforts we will not survive.

If I WERE religious man this the one prayer I would offer:

"Dear GOD, please provide more common sense and humanity to the human race. End the constant selfishness offered in your name. Make a new visitation and UPDATE your mission statement. Tell us WHY we are here. And if there is a "damnation clause" in our "so-called contract" please make sure that everyone who kills another human being in your name receive instant and full punishment." (work in progress)

Sadly the history of mankind has been a struggle of one group of believers to impose their WILL on others and enriched with hatred and revenge of others not possessing the ONE TRUE RELIGION. I don't see see this ever ending.


Monday, July 17, 2006


A recent article revealed that "Students with computers can wager 24/7 from their dorm rooms on unregulated, offshore Internet poker sites. And they do. Nearly 600,000 youths under age 22 gamble online every week, and online wagering among college students has increased fivefold since 2002, according to a study last year by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Not surprisingly, more young people are suffering social ills such as compulsive gambling, overspending and social isolation as they start playing video games for real money."

Parents need to pay particular attention to the actions of their children - especially with this recent addiction.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I have been working on "rehabbing" my home so I have not found much time to work on my "life lessons." But today as I went to the local Home Depot checkout with a number of purchases the cashier told the purchase was "$278". I did a quick mental check of the monitor purchase list and it did not come close to that amount. I asked the clerk to check the items out again as I did not agree with the total. A second checkout resulted in "$172."

I mention this incident because it is very important to be financially "observant" whenever you make a purchase.


Saturday, July 08, 2006


A neighbor asked me why her lawnmower had such a hard time starting. I looked at the mower and noted she had a large gas container she used for the fuel. When I asked her how OLD was the gas she replied it was from last year.

Gasoline is made for "seasonal" use - it has a slightly different composition for each season. In addition, gas left to set out will "separate" by the seasons. In your "gas device" this separate often deposits sediments in the carburator making it nearly impossible to start unless you clean the carburator.

There is a simple method that prevents this from happening. Purchase a bottle of "STA-BILE" or some similar fuel stabilitzer. Use as directed. Odds are you will have minimal starting problems.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Being retired I have taken more time to constantly "insulate" our home and practice "energy conservation." Each small effort produces a saving over the long haul. My only regret is not doing this when I was younger.

Today's conversation effort was to insulate the hot water heater.

"Insulate Your Water Heater Tank for Energy Savings
Unless your water heater's storage tank already has a high R-value of insulation (at least R-24), adding insulation to it can reduce standby heat losses by 25%–45%. This will save you around 4%–9% in water heating costs.

If you don't know your water heater tank's R-value, touch it. A tank that's warm to the touch needs additional insulation.

Insulating your storage water heater tank is fairly simple and inexpensive, and it will pay for itself in about a year. You can find pre-cut jackets or blankets available from around $17–$20 (Lowes $16.85). Choose one with an insulating value of at least R-8. Some utilities sell them at low prices, offer rebates, and even install them at a low or no cost.

Insulating an Electric Water Heater Tank
You can probably install an insulating pre-cut jacket or blanket on your electric water heater tank yourself. Read and follow the directions carefully. Leave the thermostat access panel(s) uncovered. Don't set the thermostat above 130ºF on electric water heater with an insulating jacket or blanket—the wiring may overheat.

You also might consider placing a piece of rigid insulation—a bottom board— under the tank of your electric water heater. This will help prevent heat loss into the floor, saving another 4%–9% of water heating energy. It's best done when installing a new water heater.

Insulating a Gas Water Heater Tank
The installation of insulating blankets or jackets on gas and oil-fired water heater tanks is more difficult than those for electric water heater tanks. It's best to have a qualified plumbing and heating contractor add the insulation. If you want to install it yourself, read and follow the directions very carefully. Keep the jacket or blanket away from the drain at the bottom and the flue at the top. Make sure the airflow to the burner isn't obstructed. Leave the thermostat uncovered, and don't insulate the top of a gas water heater tank—the insulation is combustible and can interfere with the draft diverter."


Sunday, July 02, 2006


"In 1900, the average life expectancy was 50 and the major causes of death were infant mortality, malnutrition, infection and trauma, he said. By 2000, life expectancy had climbed to near 80 and causes of death shifted to chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer."

This FACT of life is often over-looked in individual retirement plans. The fact of life is - your retirement income will probably not keep pace with the cost of living. You can live "too long" and not have adequate resources to pay for unexpected chronic health conditions.

Plan carefully for the future....


Monday, June 26, 2006


You need to ask yourself whether your job will be affected in the future by the "China" economic revolution. In the new
Chinese economy workers make about .35 cents an hour and no benefits. What are you making? Always keep an eye over your shoulder and constantly update your skill sets.


Friday, June 23, 2006

How the Monthly Mentality Messes Up Your Wealth
by Laura Rowley

I recently read an article by Laura Rowley on “How the Month Mentality Messes Up Your Wealth” and came to reflect on some distant family members who “fit the bill.” I strongly recommend you read the summary below and make any necessary corrections in your lifestyle so your “future retirement” willl work.

In summary:

“There are increasingly more people who look at only the “monthly payment” and not the total cost of ownership. “

“From housing to autos to material goods, Americans are bombarded with the notion that if you can afford the monthly payment, you can afford the thing you're buying. What's never discussed is the princely opportunity cost of living on borrowed money -- and how devastating the monthly mentality can be to long-term wealth.”

“The philosophy is obvious in the home market as more buyers stretch to get their piece of the American dream. According to a recent Harvard study, in just two years, interest-only loans went from a relatively obscure product to an estimated 20 percent of the dollar value of all loans and 37 percent of adjustable-rate loans originated last year. Option ARMs, in which the borrowers can pay even less than the monthly interest due on the loan and roll the balance forward, accounted for nearly 10 percent of last year's loan originations.”

Mortgage lenders are now offering new-fangled option ARMs to defer the pain for borrowers whacked by paying principal for the first time in a rising interest-rate environment,. IndyMac Bancorp., for instance, offers an extended fixed-rate period before interest charges reset, and the ability to defer repayment of principal for a longer period of time. IndyMac's head of mortgage products says it's the bank's fastest-growing new product. “

"Manageable" Debt Levels?

The Federal Reserve's Flow of Funds report, as homeowners sucked out more equity out of their properties amid rising real estate values. Overall, household debt rose at an annual rate of 11.6 percent, up 0.5 percent from the previous quarter.

Mortgage delinquencies declined slightly in the first quarter, as the strong economy and job growth offset rising interest rates and higher energy prices. Some 4.41 percent of residential mortgages were delinquent, down 0.29 percent from the previous quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. About 1 percent of mortgages are in foreclosure, virtually flat from the previous quarter.

“Maybe I'm a little behind the times, but I have a different definition of "managing your personal finances well". It would include things like paying off your mortgage early -- vs. avoiding delinquency and foreclosure. It would include saving for larger purchases in advance and paying cash -- vs. buying items with "manageable" credit-card debt.
The Fed reported that consumer credit soared $10.6 billion in April, to a record $2.170 trillion -- more than three times Wall Street estimates. Credit grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.9 percent -- the fastest pace in a year. (The data exclude home mortgages and other real estate-secured loans.)

Upside-Down Borrowers

The monthly mentality is also evident in the auto market. Some 29 percent of U.S. vehicle buyers were "upside-down" in their loans in May -- meaning they owe more than the trade-in value of their cars. That's the second-highest level in four years, according to Jesse Toprak, executive director of industry analysis for The average amount of negative equity was $3,789.

The reason? Borrowers who otherwise can't afford the cars they want are opting for mega-term loans: In January, 2002, the average loan term was 57.3 months. Now it's 63.6 months. Toprak says 72 months is becoming the norm.

"Unfortunately, we still often see people going to the dealer and saying, 'I want to pay $400 a month,' despite the fact that it's a really bad way to buy a car," Toprak explains. "Extended terms become the only way to get the car they want. They don't see the consequences two years down the road."

Toprak says he's seen a new trend in leasing among upside-down borrowers because it allows them to finance up to 115% of the vehicle's sticker price, whereas a traditional purchase only provides 100% financing. Thus, borrowers can trade in their vehicle and add their negative equity to the lease. It results in higher monthly payments, but at the end of the lease the negative equity is gone. Of course, they don't own anything at the end of the lease, either.

Coming Home to Roost

The monthly mentality certainly opens the door to a more comfortable monthly life. But I suspect that deep down, it inspires a level of discomfort about what may happen if the monthly nut can't be paid.

And here's where the monthly mentality finally comes home to roost: When you can't work anymore. A new study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that 43 percent of working-age households are at risk of not having enough to maintain their standard of living in retirement. Pensions are disappearing, people are living longer, and savings rates are weak. In 2004, the typical household head approaching retirement had only $60,000 in 401(k) and IRA accounts, which translates into less than $400 per month in retirement, the study noted.

The good news: This situation can be turned around if people work until age 67, rather than retiring at 65 or earlier, and if they save more -- putting aside even 3 percent of income can make a difference over time. But making that happen isn't going to be easy in a culture that glorifies the monthly mentality.”

Thank you Laura for this important life-style reminder.....

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Life's Potholes....

Periodically life reminds you of the frality of life with "potholes" in your life journey. There is seldom a warning of the "event(s)" nor ever the "understanding" you expect from others.

That being said, life goes on....and what you have learned from the last "pothole" should benefit you at the next pothole but only if your astute, calm, and perceptive.


Sunday, June 18, 2006



I have always considered that President George Bush one of the most selfish Presidents in our country's history. The following article from the AARP merely illustrates one such trait.

Let 'em Eat…a Balanced Budget

Surplus food for low-income older Americans is on the federal budget chopping block.
By Susan Q. Stranahan
June 2006

When her food stamps run out each month, Rita Mash of Nelsonville, Ohio, turns to a box of surplus food delivered under a federal program. With the canned vegetables and fruit, cheese, cereal, peanut butter and evaporated milk, she feeds her husband and four grandchildren. "This way, we are able to have groceries for the last week of the month," Mash says. "This program is vital to us."

Yet President Bush's budget proposals for fiscal 2007 would eliminate the program (the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, or CSFP, started in 1968), which serves 420,000 low-income older Americans in 32 states and the District of Columbia. Total projected savings: $107 million—out of a $2.8 trillion budget.

"It's unconscionable," says Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks. Her group and other charities deliver 12,000 food boxes a month and have a waiting list of thousands.

"If we can't sustain these seniors in independent living, they're going to move into nursing homes and increase the costs to government," Hamler-Fugitt says. "Do we want to give them CSFP food boxes valued at about $150 a year or spend $50,000 a year to put them in a nursing home?"

The Bush administration says it wants to eliminate the food distribution program, which also helps low-income women and young children, because its effectiveness has not been demonstrated and because it overlaps with the food stamp and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) programs. Instead, more of the older recipients will be encouraged to apply for food stamps if they don't already receive them.

The administration's claim that food stamps will replace the surplus food is "a poor excuse" for eliminating the program, says Richard Noriega of the South Texas Food Bank, which has about 5,000 people enrolled in CSFP.

Noriega estimates the retail value of the monthly food deliveries at $55 a box. The monthly food stamp benefit for an older individual is less than $20, often as little as $10, and the program has more restrictive eligibility requirements. In addition, Noriega says, the recipients "then have to pay someone $10 for gas to get them to the grocery store to buy the food."
The consternation is shared by Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. "It really does come under the category, in the most extreme way, of balancing the budget on the backs of those who are most needy," Kohl said earlier this year after Bush's plan became public.

Will Congress go along with Bush's proposal? Not likely. In early budget deliberations, the House Appropriations Committee voted to increase funding for CSFP to $118 million.


Saturday, June 17, 2006



Everyone who remembers his own educational experience remember teachers, not methods and instructional techniques.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"Theory of Learning Immunization"


I used to have a supervisor who constantly fought with his superiors to spend more on staff training and LESS on hardware. Unfortunately, his supervisors could not grasp the importance of this concept.

His supervisors believed in the "Theory of Learning Immunization" - that is, if you provide a "training" session (shot) that should provide a long-term solution to the probelm.

As any classroom teacher can tell you (from experience) training and learning is a long drawn out process - it is not immunization.

All "training" requires a well thought out plan with frequent "retraining" on a regular basis.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Is certainly one on the most important choices you will make in your life. The selection of a mate not only is a great "emotional" decision but an economic one as well.

A relative is in midst of making elaborate wedding plans and unfortunately has decided to place themselves into future bankrupcy by "borrowing" for this event.

It is always interesting that people who have very little will "over-compensate" in their "public-display" with expensive events, cars, etc. attempting to win "public-recognition."

Live within your income, be consistent, - and start early!


Thursday, June 01, 2006


I have always marveled at how people can ignore the "small stuff" in life. It is the accumulation of many "small things" which become the "big things" that overwhelm people.

I do "sweat" the "small stuff" everyday of my life and make no amends for it - neither should you.


for years I kept a favorite IT cartoon on my wall. It showed two IT managers in conversation at a party. The one IT manager said to the other "You know you really have to have a backup." In back of him were TWO WIVES, TWO DOGS, TWO CHILDREN, TWO CATS.....

I mention this because even after retirement (from IT) I periodically have people call me seeking advice about their problems. And while I always direct them to their HELP DESK I always smile because in most cases PREVENTION on their parts would have saved them their immediate grief.

Yesterday a friend called and told me that all her e-mail had disappeared. While I told her it COULD be reconstructed (via her Help Desk) SHE needed to be more proactive in the future. I steered her to established an email account at Yahoo or Google to forward "copies" of all her correspondence/files. No matter what IT people tell you "stuff happens" and it will always be at a time you need it to happen.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I recently decided to paint (stain) my back fence. I made the usual trip to Lowes/Home Depot to shop for stains. In both cases you cannot purchase anything less than a gallon by selecting a "color" from a color chart. After I purchased a "gallon" for $27.00 I decided I didn't like the way in went on - but you can't return it.

On an impulse I stopped by a small local paint store which I had always avoided because I thought the prices were too high. I asked the owner if there were any smaller amount I could purchase for a test. The owner told me he could be glad to get me a sample (in fact offered me two small half-pints.)

Lesson learned: Sometimes "more is less." Weight ALL your options carefully before you make a decision.


Monday, May 29, 2006


There is a mind set among many people that "bad things happen" to other people - but not to them. Three interesting statistics:

One in three people do not wear their seatbelts.

One in three POLICE OFFICERS do not wear their bullet proof vest.

About one-third of teenagers use no protection for sex at all.

and the list goes on.....

Lesson learned: Not to be part of the one-third of the population that ignores safety and health considerations.


Saturday, May 27, 2006


"For all our conceits about being the center of the universe, we live in a routine planet of a humdrum star stuck away in an obscure corner ... on an unexceptional galaxy which is one of about 100 billion galaxies. That is the fundamental fact of the universe we inhabit, and it is very good for us to understand that." - Carl Sagan


I visited a Civil War show recently. A number of participants had "artifacts" for sale. When I went to a table one man had a group of Indian artifacts (arrowheads, spear points, and hatchets.) As I starred at the objects contemplating perhaps a purchase the vendor turned to me and said "Now those are REAL artifacts."

I was slightly taken back by the comment - wondering WHO would have the time to make these from a contemporary stone. But evidently there is a "niche" market for counterfeiting in just about every area of collectible. The vendor explained that just about every Indian artifact worth money was being turned out by third world laborers.

As I continued through the show there was also a display of "confederate" artillery fuses that were also "counterfeit."

Another vendor was giving a lesson on how to spot "repro" Confederate flags.

The point is: Never spend your resources on items you don't have absolute faith in the knowledge and integrity of the seller.


Friday, May 26, 2006


This is an interesting financial blog that I would strongly recommend for anyone trying to gain a hold on their own finances.


I am reading the autobiogaphy of Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor.) One of the chapters dwelt on the childhood "lessons he learned from his "father" and family members. The thought of this has prompted me to reflect on what I have learned...

This list will be on-going and subject to revisions:

- Whatever your occupation always have an eye on the future - be prepared for any changes in technology that may affect your livelihood. Diverse skills offer you a better chance of survival.

(When my father took me to college he also began my "education" as a "meat cutter." The occupation had nothing to do with my professional education but it did prove to be an immense financial security blanket for the next 20 years of my life. It likewise taught me many valuable cooking and grocery shopping skills and most important of all - how to deal with people.)

- As a new "meat-cutter" he reminded me that because I was "new" and had less than perfect meat-cutting skills I had to have an "edge." That edge was to convince my employeers that I was always working hard and had their interests at heart. For example, whenever I worked at the meat counter I would always have a clean rag and would wipe down the counters, cases, scales, etc. whenever there was "spare" time. I never forgot that advice.....

- Be friendly and courteous to everyone (no matter what their title and authority). "What goes up can also go down."



Wednesday, May 24, 2006


We are in the midst of making a major conversion of our existing will to a TRUST. (Don't worry my children you will still get your inheritance - and even more because of the TRUST.)

A Trust costs more than a Will ($1500-10,000 depending on your financial complexity) but offers a major advantage of keeping your assets out of PROBATE COURT and prescribed state mandated fee schedules far more than a trust fee. There are some companies which offer "trust forms" for do-it-your-selfers but do you really want to speculate your finances to a $29.95 CD and out-of-state lawyer?

The State of Missouri (where we reside) has changed Trust laws this past year and as a result virtually every existing family trust needs to be reexamined.

Everyone needs to examine their PLANS for the "Rites of Passage." Everyone is going to die - it is just a matter of when.

Even if a Trust is NOT in your plan you do need a WILL or else the courts will decide for you!


Tuesday, May 23, 2006


In the entire 6 years of the Second World War we exploded about 2 Mega tons of TNT. Today we have over 10,000 Mega tons of TNT held in nuclear weapons threatening our "cosmic" end.

At this moment there are about 15-20 wars going on. Will one of these events precipitate our demise?


Sunday, May 21, 2006

$52 PER GALLON....

We went to the show today. Because the have a "membership" card we received a free soda. The "free soda" represented about a pint (volume without ice?). The cost of the soda if you paid for it was $3.25 - this translates into $52 a gallon.

And to think people complain about $2.75 gas......

And to think that a 16 oz beer at the new Busch Stadium costs 7.75 or $62 a gallon....sigh


If you have EVER experienced Poison Ivy, Oak, etc. you know the extreme discomfort once you have been exposed. In fact, a really bad exposure can last 6-10 weeks depending on age and all with anguish.

Even if you KNOW that you touched the plant just washing your hands will NOT remove the irritants because it actually BONDS with the skin.

Once the skin erruption occurs your only options are:
live with it (and constantly itching)
go to your Dr. for a series of shots


A small $40 tube of ZANFEL (an over the counter purchase). By simply "scrubbing" your infected area with a very small amount of this applicant it actually removes the CAUSE of your discomfort. If your skin is extremely errupted you may have to repeat the process. Even so, you will feel actual relief within a half hour. Within 24 hours most of the erruption will be gone!

OK, this is a low level "Life Lesson" but if your ever infected you will thank yourself for reading this advice. My Doctor did not even know of this ointment. And yes it is worth the $40.


Saturday, May 20, 2006


I have mentioned this before but this newspaper article is a sober reminder.....

And while CATS can be less enpensive a BIG DOG is the price of a new car.

"An average owner with a healthy, medium-to-large dog should expect to pay $25,000 in food, vaccinations and pet-related expenses over the lifetime of the animal, says Jim Wilson, a Pennsylvania vet and lawyer who crunched data from several animal-care associations to determine the true cost of pet ownership.

The number jumps to $35,000 if the dog develops diabetes or another chronic problem."


As in every marriage there are some tasks that one spouse will take ownership over another. The other day my wife was taking the cat to the "Vet" for an annual checkup. Just as an afterthought I asked her to check IF the Vet offered any senior discounts.

When my wife came home she said YES we were eligible for a 10% discount. In fact, we were eligible for the past 4 years. Given the fact that our vet bill runs a couple of hundred+ every year this was not a casual savings (or lack of).

Discounts also existed for "handicapped" or disabled individuals as well.

LESSON LEARNED: Both spouses need to constantly talk about such discount possibilities. Ask for a discount regardless of age. A friend of mind some years ago asked a desk clerk at a motel if they had any discounts. The clerk listed the standard AAA, AARP, etc discounts but my friend replied he did not have any of those BUT he was "left-handed." The clerk laughted so hard he gave him a discount.


Friday, May 19, 2006

LIFE RULES.... a work in progress

These rules are subject to future updates and revisions....

0 "Spend less than you earn." This should be a lifetime pursuit.

Try to save 10% of your net income.
Be sure to have an ACTIVE savings plan.

1 "The first rule of financial success is to protect what you have."

This RULE should carry over into your everyday actions for the rest of your life. ..... map of child molesters for your neighborhood. This is very disturbing.
Life Insurance is a necessary investment.
Always make sure your house is fully insured

2 "The second rule of success is to make a realistic financial plan and keep it."

Plan for future expensives: (examples)
Roof lasts about 15-20 years
Furance lasts 15-20 years
Carpeting lasts 15-25 years
A car lasts 5-10 years
Concrete driveway about 20+ years
Avoid Impulse purchases

3 "The third rule is to Avoid Greed." There is no free lunch ANYWHERE!

4 "The power of compounded interest is the eight wonder of the world - USE IT!"

5 "Stuff happens! Always have 3 months earnings in liquidity."

Be prepared to survive a natural disaster for 3 days without the assistance of others. (Remember New Orleans)

6 "Preparing for retirement should be a lifelong plan subject to frequent review."

7 "The most important financial decisions in your life are: a house, cars, and children - choose wisely."

Expensive purchases require detailed and planned investigation prior to purchase.
Shop carefully - shop again, ask others - THEN make your purchase(s).
"All large purchases will cost more than what you plan."
Each child in your family will cost a minimum of $180,000 in today's money
A CAR is NOT an investment. Choose a used car to save money.
Always inspect your home once a month for ISSUES (water damage, insects, etc.)
Protect your (home) investment with all necessary repairs and insurance.
And no matter what the price ALWAYS ask for their best price before making a decision.

8 "No family financial plan will work unless all the family members will acknowledge and support it."

Review your finances on a monthly basis and communicate this with your significant others.

9 "Avoid credit card purchases except for necessities (gas, etc.)" Paying cash is a good habit.

10 "Avoid impulse purchases."

Jewelry is NOT an investment
Don't keep up with the "Jones" - it could bankrupt you!

11 "Practice economy as an art form in your daily life."

Always use coupons, discounts, sales for important purchases
Enjoy the benefit of available FREE public activities (libraries, free concerts, museums)
Avoid eating out to save money
Garage Sales can save you serious money
Avoid purchasing extended warrenties on most purchases.

12 "Keep all your purchase receipts in a box (for warrenties, taxes, etc.)"

13 "ORGANIZE your possessions so that you can FIND and CONTROL what you own."

14 "Invest in yourself. Investing in your education or professional skill sets will pay off."


Thursday, May 18, 2006


I bought a new "used" car the other day. As you can read in other entries (below) I do not believe that a new car is a realistic purchase since you normally loose 30% of your purchase in the first year. Still, every purchase requires your attention to the details if you plan to obtain your best purchase.

I spent considerable time on-line researching the type of car, manufacturer, quality assessment (Consumer Reports), and local dealers before making the actual purchase. Without going into long details I found the vehicle for the "price" I thought I wanted to pay at a local dealership and made a "down payment".

When I went home I decided to double-check if the vehicle was priced any differently on the dealers website. I found the vehicle was LISTED at a price only a few hundred dollars more than what I had negotiated. So I picked up the phone, called my sales person and negotiated another $500 discount over the phone. Following a "talk" with the manager they agreed to the additional discount.

The $500 does not mean alot to me - what is important is the self-reminder that "attention to detail" makes a difference in everything you do.

And YES the final purchase was a bargain according to the auto guide.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


As my insurance agent recently reminded me - "This is the 8th wonder of the world." Personally, I think it should be in the top three.


Sunday, May 14, 2006


Many people make judgements and decisions without taking in the benefit of advice. The more you reject "listening" to other peoples life experiences the less they are willing to share it with you.

The advice may not always be accurate - but it is a "starting point" in your assessment of a situation.


Saturday, May 13, 2006


No, it only reveal it.



Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Don't waste your time. It is more important to spend your time on finding solutions or accepting your problems/issues than ever experiencing "self-pity."

I was watching this evening the Discovery Health Channel show called "Rebuilt: The Human Body". People with the loss of body parts go on with their lives uses prosthetic devices. One young man called "Roy Perkins" was born without feet or lower arms and yet he didn't think he was "handicapped." What was amazing was that he could even swim several miles in the open ocean.

Keep "Roy" in mind the next time you feel that life is not fair.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006


students are learning manners from us whether we are "teaching" them or not. As Robert Fulghum (All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten) said:

"Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you."

(That quote is equally true for most adults as well. Actions take precedence over words.)


Sunday, April 30, 2006


I always annoy my wife when we go shopping by purchasing large numbers of sale items we use on a regular basis. For example, we both eat cereal for breakfast (5 days a week.) Today I purchased 12 boxes of the 1.99 (sale price) which normally sells for $3.69 (or more). This translates into a $20.40 savings - (not including the sales tax on the purchase.) This translates into a savings of 54%. What investment can you possibily make that would yeild a similar savings?

This habit translates for other types of purchases as well. What is important is that you must USE what you purchase and have enough liquidity that you can afford to make the investment.


Friday, April 28, 2006


you can remember that the national debt was a smaller number than the 100+ billion stars in our Milky Way. But don't worry - President Bush and the Congress are heading us towards national bankruptcy.

(Note: just for personal reference - "one billion" measured in seconds is slightly over 32 years on a calendar.)


Monday, April 24, 2006


and even if it did I doubt if most people would read it.

I was reflecting the other day on a female acquaintance who told me that MEN never understood her. I thought how much easier it would be for her date if he had an OWNERS MANUAL preceded the dating experiences. Perhaps something like a CONSUMERS REPORT critique should be part of the dating community.

If your not smiling - I am ....


The garbage disposal quit working the other day. I checked the electrical panel and wiring and discovered the device was receiving electricity. I cleaned the "sink switch" to make sure it was not clogged - it wasn't. My conclusion was that the "switch" was broken and needed replacement.

I was going to go "on-line" to check the DIY (do-it-yourself) sites for suggestions but instead happened to converse with an electrical contractor and asked if he had any suggestions. He causually remarked "Did you press the RESET button on the bottom of the unit?" SIGH, I had forgetten the button because in the 10 years that I had the unit I had NEVER pressed the button.

Pushing the button worked.... remembering there was a button....that was another lesson.


Sunday, April 23, 2006


Following my retirement last year I have increasingly been spending more time "organizing" THINGS not only in my life but also in those people in my immediate circle (family & friends). What I have discovered is not only does it make "things" work better but also makes life less expensive. I have discovered that I have NUMEROUS duplicate tools (to which I have added more purchases in the past because I simply could not find them when I needed them.) The organizing list goes on in countless other categories as well (applicances, kitchen utilities, etc.) I stress this point because while INITIALLY organizing your life takes some time - PRESERVING that organization is a relatively painless process.


Friday, April 21, 2006


You can find all kinds of discount coupons on-line to local establishments. Here is a good link if you live in St. Louis:

AND if your into less expensive gas prices:



Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.

~Booker T. Washington


Tuesday, April 18, 2006


An interesting snippet from Kiplingers Money Magazine.....

Buying by the numbers
Lenders look at three things when you apply for a mortgage: credit score, debt-to-income ratio and down payment. "If you've got two of the three elements working for you, you're in good shape to buy," says Jim McMillan, a senior loan officer with JP Mortgage/JPMorgan Chase.

All lenders are credit-score-driven these days. FICO scores, the most commonly used, range from 300 to 850, but the number to shoot for is about 750, says McMillan. The higher your score, the more flexible lenders will be. But even with a score of 700, he says, you'll still be considered an A borrower and qualify for the best rates.

Another big consideration is your debt-to-income ratio. Traditionally, lenders have followed the 28/36 rule: No more than 28% of your monthly gross income should be dedicated to your mortgage payment, property taxes and insurance, with total debt equaling no more than 36% of your gross income. But if you have no other debt, you can dedicate 36% of your income to home payments. With an FHA-backed loan, you may be permitted to apply as much as 41% of your income to total debt.

Coming up with the down payment is a struggle for many buyers, but it can make a big difference, especially if you don't have stellar credit. The more money you put down, the less risk the lender takes on. A 20% down payment is the threshold at which you're exempt from private mortgage insurance, which can add a few hundred non-tax-deductible dollars to your monthly payment.


Saturday, April 15, 2006


Once a year you can obtain a FREE credit report from each of the three major Credit Review Agencies. It is strongly recommended that you do this. The following article is from "" and represents excellent advice. (Note: while there is a request for your SSN# it is on a Secure site.)

How to get your report"
The reports will not automatically be sent out. Consumers must request their reports in one of these three ways:

Go to, which is the only authorized source for consumers to access their annual credit report online for free.

Call toll free 877-322-8228.

Complete the form on the back of the "Annual Credit Report Request" brochure, available from the FTC, and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

You'll be able to order all three credit reports at one time, or you may order at different times throughout the year. It's your choice. Be sure to order from the centralized agency. If you go directly to the credit reporting agencies, you will be charged a fee unless you fit another criteria for a free report. And beware of ordering your free credit reports from fraudulent, deceptive and misspelled domains that will charge for the very same service you can get free.

The new ruling doesn't replace the other ways to receive a free credit report. You're still entitled to a free credit report if: you've been denied a loan, insurance policy or job based on your credit report; you're applying for unemployment or receive public assistance; or you currently reside in a state that already offers one or more annual free credit reports.

A credit report contains a consumer's history of loan payments, including those for mortgages, credit cards and auto loans. It is used by lenders to judge whether to grant additional credit to consumers, and at what rate. It is not the same as a credit score, which takes the information contained in a credit report and distills it into a three-number score. Credit scores are not included in the credit report, and must be purchased from the credit bureaus.


Friday, April 14, 2006


This should probably be a song title. I have been disposing of "leftovers" and "cast-away" items from the family basement on recently. And what prompted this entry is the unbelieveable number of people who will respond to your OFFER without reading and observing the directions.

I recently asked for anyone interested to MY OFFER to 1) What they would do with it 2) When they could pick it up 3) Give me their name and phone number so I could TALK with them. Out of a dozen responses only TWO people supplied the information requested.

I have come to believe that following directions should either be taught in school OR more people should enroll in bomb demolition school.


Thursday, April 06, 2006


I was sitting at the Doctors office this morning and I happened to chance upon a “medical infomercial” about a new type of "professional support" called a “Life Counselor.”

A “life counselor” is evidently a person who helps a person focus on the future and not the past (role of a psychologist). My gut impression is that anyone willing to pay $300+ a month to have a professional “friend” to assist a person focus on their “life mission” probably needs more professional services (Perhaps a good bartender like “Moe” on the Simpsons.)

Perhaps this is a “career” opportunity for someone having a store front called “Rent a Friend”. And just think there are no qualifications (like for a teacher, CPA, or policeman.) Life goes on....with or without you!


Tuesday, April 04, 2006


What is your word worth? To the people you work with? To your friends? To your family?


Monday, April 03, 2006

SUCCESS....(According to the Book of Jobs (Steve that is)

And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don't get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We're always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it's only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.

-- Steve Jobs to Business Week, Oct. 12, 2004


Saturday, April 01, 2006



Making your feelings known to others (in a calm and clear manner)

Gathering all the necessary information to discuss the situation

Formulating a written plan with ALL the people who part of the solution

(That wasn't so hard was it?)


Friday, March 31, 2006


According to a November Washington Post poll (whose results were published in February), 94 percent of Americans said they are "above average" in honesty, 89 percent "above average" in common sense, 86 percent "above average" in intelligence, and 79 percent "above average" in looks. [Washington Post-AP, 2-5-06] [Washington Post, 2-8-06]


Wednesday, March 29, 2006


If you have ever listened to Jeff Foxworthy (comedian) you leave with the impression that here is a "Good o'le Boy" from the South who made good. The irony is that He was a member of the class of 1979 at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, but left his mainframe maintenance job at IBM (where his father also worked) after five years to become a full-time comedian.

Just think there are alot of career paths available for mainframers..... lol

Climate Change: Instant Expert

"Climate change is with us. A decade ago, it was conjecture. Now the future is unfolding before our eyes. Canada's Inuit see it in disappearing Arctic ice and permafrost. The shantytown dwellers of Latin America and Southern Asia see it in lethal storms and floods. Europeans see it in disappearing glaciers, forest fires and fatal heat waves.

Scientists see it in tree rings, ancient coral and bubbles trapped in ice cores. These reveal that the world has not been as warm as it is now for a millennium or more. The three warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998; 19 of the warmest 20 since 1980. And Earth has probably never warmed as fast as in the past 30 years - a period when natural influences on global temperatures, such as solar cycles and volcanoes should have cooled us down. Studies of the thermal inertia of the oceans suggest that there is more warming in the pipeline.

Climatologists reporting for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say we are seeing global warming caused by human activities and there are growing fears of feedbacks that will accelerate this warming."

Read the entire article - this will affect the quality of all our lives...


Since 1965 each package of cigarettes has had a warning that "smoking causes" some health risks: lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, complicate pregnancy, premature birth rates. Cigarettes contains carbon monoxide and 4000+ toxins including nicotine. Once you become a habitual smoker, your mind and body develop a physical dependence for nicotine. When ingested the person feels calm because of an elevation in endorphin. The high prevails until it wears off and requires another "reload."

About 47 million adults in the US smoke cigarettes regardless of the dangers on the pack. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death.

9 Deadly Facts
1. Tobacco companies make a narcotic, which kills 1,200 Americans every day. *

2. 4.9 million people die each year from tobacco products. *

3. In 1990, a tobacco company put together a plan to stop coroners from listing tobacco as a cause of death on death certificates. *

4. About 1 out of every 5 deaths in the US can be attributed to tobacco products. *

5. In 2001, tobacco companies spent about $11 billion marketing their products. That's about $1.5 billion more than the year before. *

6.Unlike food and drug companies, tobacco companies are not required to include a list of ingredients on their packaging. *

7.Secondhand cigarette smoke kills about 53,000 Americans each year. *

8.Tobacco kills more Americans than AIDS, drugs, homicides, fires, and auto accidents combined. *

9.Cigarettes will eventually kill half of the people who use if used for many decades. *

* gathers the nine deadly facts


Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Art Buchwald is in a hospice waiting to die (following kidney failure and a refusal to go on dialysis. He said that a number of people asked him "where are you going when you die?" He said the better question is "What are we doing here in the first place."

In either case.... there are no clear answers (to please everybody.) Interesting to note that a search of the internet shows less than 50,000 references as a religious query.


Saturday, March 25, 2006


This topic could probably be a Blog by itself. However I just read a blog entry and thought the ideas were so good that I would post some of the good advice here.

Why kids should get allowances, 'cards'

"• Fewer than 60% of children ages 6 to 17 get any allowance.

• The range for 6- to 11-year-olds is $5 to $9 a week. For 12- to 17-year-olds, the average is $10 to $19 a week.

At our house, each child age 6 to 12 gets a weekly allowance in dollars equal to his or her age. Everyone has to save and bank at least 25%.

When each turns a teen, rules change. Our Alexis, almost 15, has a monthly allowance that includes the money her mom and I used to spend on clothes and other necessities for her. Now she does that buying.

Her teenage banking includes a "debit card," to make purchases without carrying much cash. Debit cards teach owners to spend only money they have. Credit cards encourage them to spend money they don't have. Huge difference.

Allowances for kids aren't just about money to spend. They should teach money management, one of the biggest problems for most grown-ups.

That's why it's more important for teenagers to be able to balance their bank account than it is for them to get straight A's in algebra or geometry."


Friday, March 24, 2006


"Microsoft isn't evil, they just make really crappy operating systems."

- Linus Torvalds (world genius of programmers - created Linux computer operating system in 1991 at the age of 21)


PS - Six versions of Vista announced:

"Microsoft is planning six versions of the next incarnation of its Windows operating system. Three versions of the software, called Vista, will be for home users, two will be for businesses and one will be for emerging markets.

Vista, which was known as Longhorn during its long development, is a major re-working of Windows that makes changes, among other things, to the way the operating system looks and how it handles networking and sound.

Microsoft said the six versions were designed to match the demands different users have for its software. No details have been given about the pricing of the separate versions. When Vista eventually hits the market it will be the longest gap between releases of Windows systems." (6 years and 5-6 billion dollars later.)

Anyone who thinks Vista is going to work perfectly out of the box has evidently never lived through an OS update.

"There's a significant school of thought that... Windows' success happened because of Solitaire" - Wendy M. Grossman


Thursday, March 23, 2006


Charles Plumb

Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane as destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”

“How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb.

“ I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat, a bib in the back, and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said Good morning, how are you?’ or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.”

Plumb thought of the man hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute?” Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory-he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called
on all these supports before reaching safety.

Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason.

As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachute.
(from Prisoner of war stories website)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


An artist was commissioned by a prominent banker to paint his portait. After two months of work the artist invited the banker to review his "master piece". The banker asked the artist the price and he replied $5,000. The banker looked at the painting again and replied "That looks nothing like me - I'm not paying it!"

The artist said "I am really sorry to hear that - I thought it was a faithful interpretation. But since you don't feel it looks like you - you owe me nothing."

A month later the banker heard from a friend that he saw his painting in an art gallery. The banker went to the gallery and saw his painting on the wall and beneath it was a sign - "Thief" - $10,000. The banker was enraged and approached the artist saying "How could you post my painting with such a label. I'm going to sue you!" The artist responded - "You told me that the picture looked nothing like you - I merely gave it the name of a person who resembled that portrait."

The banked took out his checkbook and paid the $10,000.

Lesson Learned: Even when you are treated with injustice justice is best served cold and with patience.


Know thy enemies but know thy self first. - Lao Tzu


The only way to overcome an opponent's idea is to convert them to a (better?) idea.


Monday, March 20, 2006


"There are two things that make a man stupid - sex and money. But money does not enter the blood stream." - Dr. Stone


There is always RISK in everything we do. I watched a TV poker game the other day where the two players faced off on the final card. The first player had a 99% chance of winning. But when the card was turned over he lost.

LESSON LEARNED: As long as there is a CHANCE the game is never over.

PS - Remember Ron Wayne? He is the long-forgotten third founder of Apple. According to Woz, Ron was worried about owing money for computer parts which they were using to assemble the Apple Is which were basically pre-assembled motherboards. He had some “gold hidden in his mattress” that he was worried about. Sadly, he sold out his 10% share of Apple for a pittance ($800). [Note: 10% of Apple is now worth around $5.6 billion.]


Many years ago a collector friend of mind was at a show and commented to me how much he wanted a particular item. I asked him WHY he didn't buy it. He replied he did not have the amount of money it way worth. Some time later the man came by my table carrying the item. I asked him how much the item was and he replied $1200 (what it was worth). I commented that it was really nice. He asked if I wanted to buy it. I told him that while I would love to have it I only had $700. To my surprise he laid the item on my table and said "Fine, I will take it."

Lesson Learned: If you don't ask - you don't get. Politeness does pay. And opportunity sometimes only knocks ONCE.


Thursday, February 16, 2006


bearing gifts. Perhaps this ancient quote should be revised to state "Beware of PEOPLE offering gifts so they can hold it over your head."

I have seen a large number of people in my life who had to suffer mental outrages because they unwisely took a gift from a fiend/relative who felt it gave them some form of moral superiority over that persons life. Be sure that the "GIFT" is a "GIFT" with no strings attached. Judge the gift from prior experiences and if in DOUBT - DON'T.

However, if it is given from the heart gladly accept it.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Many years ago I can remember my father waiting for his Aunt and Uncle to visit God and leave them their money. My father made casual visits once in a while checking on their health but nothing more.

One day he received a call his uncle died and several months laters the aunt followed. At the reading of the will my father walked out of the room shocked. In stead of the hundreds of thousands he expected he received $500 - with the bulk of the estate divided up among two distant relatives and a handyman who worked around their house.

LESSON LEARNED: If you expect NOTHING you will never be disappointed. My father carried the event around with him for years. He could not get over how "ungrateful" his only relatives treated him. Yet, he was responsible for his own situation. He could have done more and expected less.

What I learned was NOT TO DEPEND on anyone to leave a dime. And While father did leave me his estate I NEVER depended on it in my own financial planning. In the last year of his life his medical bills came to hundreds of thousands of dollars and would have taken everything had not his union health insurance and Medicare picked up the cost. There are no guarantees for tomorrow.

If you should inherit money think LONG and HARD before you spend a dime of it. Many people will decend on your home and urge you to share it with them. But once it is gone you won't see these people anymore.


Yesterday I had to go to a PAIN MANAGEMENT CENTER to deal with a severe neck pain as the result of a neck operation about a year ago. I had already seen my surgeon, taken a CAT scan, X-Ray, and physical therapy prior to this step.

As I talked with the Pain Management Doctor he explained the procedure as inserting cortosone through a 6" syringe into my neck veterbrae while he was viewed through an x-ray monitor.

My first question was - HOW SUCCESSFUL was this procedure? This was like the Poker player trying to determine the ODDS on his bet. He paused and said about 70% of his patients felt it was a definite help in abaiting pain.

My second question was - HOW MANY OF THESE PROCEDURES DOES HE PERFORM? This was trying to determine my comfort level in allowing someone to insert a 6" syringe into my neck. He again paused and said only about 100+ per month.

I still don't know if I should have been better PREPARED with other questions but I allowed him to give me the shot. The entire procedure only took 10 minutes at best.

LESSON LEARNED: I am not sure I feel that much better but the next option is surgery - so I think I will have to go back for shots 2 and 3 over the next couple of weeks. You never really appreciate your HEALTH until something goes wrong. Spend everyday with gusto and good spirits while you can :)


Tuesday, February 14, 2006


You should learn from past mistakes to PLAN for a better future.

(But few people do.)


Monday, February 13, 2006


Bush proves each day what crusading attorney Clarence Darrow meant in the 1920s when he said, "When I was a boy, I was told that anybody could become president. I'm beginning to believe it."


Nothing. It was your choice to HAVE THEM. If they are periodically good to you gleem the moment - otherwise live your life as best you can.

Most parents will watch over their children for the rest of their lives - whether they want it or not. My own father would always tell me to water the Xmas tree (at the age of 90) even after we would tell him each year that it was PLASTIC.

Your children are your legacy - make the most of it.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006


"A Fool and his money are soon parted."


Monday, February 06, 2006


What is the old saying? "No good deed goes unpunished."

Time will tell won't it?


Sunday, February 05, 2006


Just because someone underestimates you does not mean you have to do the same for them.


Friday, February 03, 2006


Today I went to renew a CD with a long established financial institution (having done business with them for over 25 years). This institution would always MATCH any money market rate of a local competitive bank.

I always do my HOMEWORK before investing any monies. I found in the paper a favorable renewal rate at another bank for .47% more than what they advertised. When I told the person on the phone this rate they said they could only give me .15% of that rate. I listened and asked for a SECOND OPINION and following a brief pause in the phone they said that was the best they could do. I said thank you and said I would have to weigh my options.

(Note: a .25 difference in a $25000 CD is $62.50 per year or $312.50 for five years)

I next called back again and got a different teller and went through the entire procedure again. This time I was told the same information BUT if I could wait until 11:00 a.m. the Branch Manager would be in and HE had the authority to override those rates. I said thank you and now I am waiting for a decision.

LESSON LEARNED: Whether or not I obtain the better rate is irrelevant. The fact is that there are many different DOORS into any organization. IF you have enough persistence, connections, and good manners you can greatly enhance your success rate.

It is always better to start at a lower rung in the ladder when seeking changes. You have the possibility of SUCCESS at any one of these levels. If you proceed to the top and fail - you have no recourse.

footnote: Bank just called and will pay the highest rate. An astute teller and manager retained a valued customer - I wish that could be said of all organizations.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


The Bush administration said Thursday (2/2/06) it will ask Congress for $120 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and $18 billion more this year for hurricane relief. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that $320 billion has been spent on Iraq and Afghanistan since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, including $50 billion that Congress sent Bush in December.
Administration officials said the new figures were estimates.

Take the number of people living in IRAQ: 26,074,906
Add the number of people living in AFGANISTAN: 29,928,987
Add the numbers together: 56 M
or $6153.84 per person

I suggest we only bomb with $100 bills until everyone turns into a Republican Capitalist. (Note: the yearly income for a family in Afghanistan is almost $1500.) While there are no accurate figures for Iraq let's just assume the same of $1500.

The average family size has declined to about 5 persons in 2005.

Footnote: Sorry, I left out the new $120 Billion in the calculation. Like the current administration I can't seem to ADD either.

The proposed total is:
$7857.14 per person multiplied by 5 = $29285 per family or if divided by the typical $1500 yearly family income = 19.5 years income for every family in Iraq and Afganistan.

On the other hand every individual in the US (all 295,734,134) paid $1420.19 for this fiasco!


Wednesday, February 01, 2006


This is the first Law of Evolution (those species that adapt - SURVIVE). This is true both both for your personal hardware (body) and software (mind & soul).


Do not ever do business with this company! They cannot be trusted. Always get your BIDS and BILLING of services in WRITING.

THE INTERNET: Growing Important...

In 1993 I can remember our school system being first connected to the Internet. It was a "milestone" but few teachers or technology IT people could fathom the importance of this technology to future education. Now, 13 years later the Internet has been accessed by 3/4's of the people in the U.S. and according to Pew Internet and American Life Project foundation roughly 45% of the population use it for decision making in their everyday lives.

21 million Americans use it to get additional career training
Helps 17 million when dealing with major illness
17 million use it for choosing a school for a child
16 million use it to buy a car
16 million use it for a major financial decision
10 million use it for finding new place to live
8 million use it when changing job
7 million use it to cope with family illness
Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project

The internet is coming the "cornucopia" of knowledge in our society (and perhaps the world as well.) Yet there are some serious questions which needs to be recognized by its users.

For starters:

How VALID is the information being "supplied"? (Wikipedia?)
How do you recognize "fake" websites intended for deceit? (phishing sites, fake credit card sites, fake products, fake philantrophy, fake securities, etc.)
Who monitors the information? (no one!)
Who supplies the information and why? (Hate groups, etc.)
How can you value information that is "always on the move"? (Now you see it - now you don't)
Should we be "paranoid" about the fact that our search questions and what web sites we observed can be "recorded" and "tabulated" by others? (companies, law firms, individuals, US Government)?
How gullible are users?
Doing "business" over the internet can result in serious financial consequences (especially with credit cards).

I suggest that schools supply these "skills" and "questions" to all of our students on a yearly basis.



A friend told me the other day that "chance" was not a consideration in the formation of our life forms. He argued that "no where" else in our universe could life exist.

A quick review of an on-line science encyclopedia shows there are over 100 billion galexies in our known universe (and our Milky Way Galexy is but one.) And in the Milky way we have over 400 billion stars (each with their own revolving cestrial bodies. +- 50% margin of error.) The Milky Way is so large that it takes a single beam of light over 100,000 years to even cross it.

These are just the bodies we can "measure" in some crude fashion. Other "universes" are also possibilities in the space-time continuum.

(Note: just for personal reference - "one billion" measured in seconds is slightly over 32 years of life.)

Placing it all in prospective it seems to me that the "chance" of other life forms existing is very realistic. In fact, if other life forms did not exist it would be very UNREALISTIC.

It makes our presence on this earth seem like a grain of sand in the sea. And if you think that is large:


Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Sometime ago we received a Gift card for Blockbuster. Like many people we were pleased to get it but stuck in a packet of coupons. When we finally went to redeem the card we were "penalized" for not using it promptly.

This penalty is NOT unique it seems. Many companies, including Kmart, Macy's, Red Lobster, etc. have similar FINE PRINT on the back of the card. And while the terms and penalties vary the end result is the same - you can't redeem it for what the card sold for. Even some of the VISA Gift cards same similar conditions.

I strongly suggest you find another method to reward others.


Monday, January 30, 2006


or amusement ?

I am not picking on Christianity - every religion has similar critics. Still, it is amazing the diversity of beliefs and critics in our religious experiences. And according to the site's author "We're here for people who prefer disorganized religion to the organized kind," says editor Simon Jenkins. "From a position of commitment, we try to look objectively at religious trends in an accessible rather than cynical way. We commend as well as debunk. But we are not a campaign, we're a conversation."


Saturday, January 28, 2006

TAX TIP: (US) Feb. 1, 2006 dateline

IF you have any need of obtaining a "PRIVATE LETTER RULING" you had better run to your tax advisor and get your petition before Feb. 1, 2006. The IRS will raise the rates from the current $95 fee "TO MORE REALISTICALLY REFLECT THE COST OF SUCH TRANSACTIONS" - That translates into a MINIMUM of $3,000 plus the costs of attorneys and tax advisors. If you have never heard of a private-letter ruling before, make sure you won't need one in the future. If you are moving retirement monies around, or taking distributions, make sure you know the rules. If you don't know them enough to feel comfortable, bring in a financial or tax adviser who can make sure you steer clear of trouble; paying their fees will be cheaper than trying to fix things later.

This is just one more reason it is important to have a professional TAX ADVISOR.


Guidelines suggest you save enough for retirement, including Social Security and a pension, to replace 60% to 80% of your income. (Based on my personal experiences - this seems realistic.) Whether or not existing income from COLAs, dividends, and CD rates keep up with inflation still remains a long term guess. Personal health, health insurance and spouse life expectancy are also future variables. And for whatever it is worth - health care prems have outpaced the inflation rate by 200-300% in the past 3 years. Only time will tell......

THINK before you EMAIL.... (and especially from work)

Got a little time on your hands than take a look at:

This company has developed a powerful software engine which allows “companies” (or governments) to search through your e-mail. The FREE on-line example is for YOU to search through the hundreds of thousands of email between 176 Enron Executive and employees in 2000-2002.

If you ever needed a reason not to send personal e-mails from work this is it.

While the content of these messages are not new. The FEG Commission released the to the public in 2003. But InBoxer Inc. new EnronEmail provides the tools to flag any email better than a keyword search.

While most companies do allow their employees the privilege of personal e-mail at work a full 26% of firms have fired employeeds for e-mail abuse.

Some other considerations to keep in mind:

It is NOT unlikely that someone in your firm scans e-mails or will be given directives to do so by "higher ups."

Your messages could later be called into public records if a lawsuit related to you is ever leveled. And if you think it can’t happen to you - one in five U.S. firms said courts or regulators had subpoenaed their e-mail records, and another 13% went to court to battle lawsuits triggered by employee e-mails, according to a 2004 survey by the ePolicy Institute and the American Management Association. (

The fact is once your e-mail is SENT you have no control over where it will end up. What gets place on a server is often "archived" or backed up in a number of locations.

The federal government has defended the right of the employeer to monitor all e-mail transmissions and ALL INTERNET ACTIVITY.

Think TWICE...Think ENRON


Friday, January 27, 2006


As I prepared to make an on-line purchase I noted there was a field for a DISCOUNT CODE. I immediately did a search at Google for the company name and "discount code" - which returned codes for 5-10%. I entered the 10% code and it worked, saving me about $9 for a 10 minute search.


Thursday, January 26, 2006


As much as people state that they have all the facts when making crucial decisions I would venture this is not the case in the majority of cases.

Today Oprah denounced James Frey for the factual holes in his memoir, "A Million Little Pieces."

Without recounting the entire incident lets just say that Frey’s book was an elaborate embellishment of partial truths with the self assessed stamp of a sincere biography. And while Oprah declared in Frey’s presence that she felt “duped” by promoting the book I find it difficult to believe that from his publisher to Oprah staff there was not more “due diligence” in researching the TRUTH.

As one commentator remarked on the show - ‘A thirty thousand dollar researcher could have dug deeper into the book and would have prevented this misrepresentation.’ But no one did.

Gathering the FACTS is a time-consuming and necessary step toward any project. Ignoring this fact only invites disaster.


According to Money Magazine:

Airline Tickets: WEDNESDAY. “That's when airlines release their available seats for the upcoming weekend and the weekend after. Likewise it's still best to book a domestic flight at least two weeks in advance, and even further ahead for international travel. But if the two-week window isn't an option for you, she advised delaying the purchase even more, to a few days before you fly, as fares from 14 to 7 days ahead of departure tend to be the most expensive.”

Televisions: While the blowout sales on electronics tend to cluster around the holidays, even cheaper deals on TVs can be found in the spring beginning in April.
That's because for most Japanese companies the fiscal year ends in March.

Houses: Reduced demand and lackluster appearance can lead to a better deal in winter.Most homes go on the market in the spring, with sales closing in the summer.
The average home price during these months is higher as well.

Cars: It's still true that good deals can be found in late summer/early fall, when carmakers release new models and dealers want to get rid of last year's leftovers.
But a good price may also be wrangled at the end of every month. That's because dealers are under pressure to book sales. If they exceed monthly sales targets set by the manufacturer, they are rewarded by getting more of the hotter, better selling vehicles the next month. "There's a benefit to [dealers] making their quotas.”

“It is also recommended shopping when the dealerships aren't crowded, like early mornings, midweek or the winter, to avoid "getting short shrifted" from the sales staff.


This is the common phrase used in the business community to describe the importance of establishing your business location for optimum returns. Perhaps that was true 20 years ago but now having a high-speed DSL line and web site is more important.

Location also takes on another consideration when you choose your house. The more time you are on the "road" is less time from the quality of your life AND the greater mileage expenses. A recent study by the University of Wisconsin discovered that workers in that state spend over 386 hours a year just traveling to work and home (that amounts about 10 weeks a year in wasted time.)

If the current US mileage rate of .48 cents a mile is realistic (cost of auto, insurance, tires, maintenance, gas, oil, etc.) than a 40 mile trip to and from work is $19.20. If you lived 5 miles from work (10 miles) than the cost is only $4.80. Repeat this travel over 20+ years (without inflation) and you are talking about some serious money - 325 day per year X $19 = $6175 per year X 20 years = $123,500 vs 325 days per year x $4.80 = $1560 x 20 years = $31,200 or a difference of $92,300. Granted, inflation is not included in this casual calculation but it does show the importance of selecting a home near your place of employment. IF you had two people working in the family the numbers become even more significant. The interest on a home is deductable but travel costs are not.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006


"Focus on the everyday problems that nag at everyday people. There are more than enough to go around without imagining new ones." Blake Ross - co-author of FireFox

Lesson: This applies to every business and social groups.


I was reflecting the other day on childhood memories and Mom's Banana Cake came to mind. My mother always made this cake for me (every birthday) until I left home. Mom died after college and I never had another cake.

While rooting through some old cookbooks the other day I found her hand written recipes. So for anyone else who have childhood memories let me leave you mine :)

Big Banana Cake
Cream the following ingredients together:
2 & 1/4 cups of sugar
1 & 1/2 cups of butter (don’t melt)
3 eggs
6 tablespoons of sour milk
1 & 1/2 teaspoons soda
1 & 1/2 teaspoon vanalla
1 & 1/2 cups bananas
mix together and add
1 & 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 & 1/2 cups of flour
Finally fold in:
1 & 1/2 cups of nuts

Regular Banana Cake
Cream the following ingredients together:
1 & 1/2 cups of sugar
3/2 cups of butter (don’t melt)
2 eggs
4 tablespoons of sour milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanalla
1 cup bananas
mix together and add
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 cups of flour
Finally fold in:
1 cup of nuts


The Rule of 72. To compute how long it takes to double your money divide the interest rate into 72. The result is the number of years to double. (For example, 3% into 72 yields 24 years; 6% yields 12 years; 9% yields 8 years.

An important financial rule to remember


Steven Jobs owns 50.4% of Pixar Corp. which sold yesterday for 7.4 BILLION dollars. Not bad for a days work and a man coming from a troubled home.

Recently Jobs was the Principal speaker at the 2005 Stanford graduation. He said that early experience helped focus his priorities.

"Sometimes, life hits you in the head with a brick," he told Stanford University graduates last June in a widely circulated commencement speech. "I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love."

Lesson Learned: Doing what you love has its rewards..... (For Steve there are billions...:)


My nephew was allowed to quit school three years ago because "He was smarter than the teachers" and was going to school after all only for a "piece of paper." His quitting school reminded me of an event that occurred during my student teaching days (some 40 years ago.)

One of the students in my first class was suffering from a broken home and no income. He told me that he had to quit school and get a job. I told him that it was really important to stay in school for the "long haul" but he said he could not wait any longer.

I talked with school counselor and asked if he could help get the young man a job. The counselor went out of his way to find and arrange an interview with a CONTRACTOR who needed a "NONSKILLED" employee.

When the student went to the Contractors site he looked over the young man and said "I need to give you a test." He walked him over to a pile of dirt and a shovel and said "Dig me 5 holes 12" deep and 12" across." After which he walked back to his office.

The student worked at the task and upon completion reported to the Contractor. The Contractor walked over to the site and carefully measured each hole.

The student asked him "WHY?" he performed this task. The Contractor told him: "From my experience I have found that people who don't complete hard tasks (high school) don't generally care out the hard tasks I give them as well." "I gave you the test to give you the benefit of the doubt."

While my student passed the test he decided to go back to school and work for his "piece of paper."

I don't know if that was a LIFE LESSON for him - but it certainly was for me. And when he told me the story I cried.....


An acquaintance of ours died the other day. She was only 60 years old and had retired 5 years ago because of a combination of obesity and self-inflicted health related issues. Sadly it was these same issues that accelerated her early death.

She sat at home and never went out except in rare circumstances. She hastened her own end simply because of a poor self image and an unwillingness to do anything.

There was no one at side when she died. Her sister came from out of town and was forced to have her home condemned because of the mountain of trash.

Lesson Learned: You can wear out or rust out - I prefer the wear out. How about you?


Tuesday, January 24, 2006


"Car costs

Just before each tax year begins, the IRS determines how much drivers can write off for their various road trips in the coming 12 months. Unexpectedly high gasoline prices in 2005 prompted the agency to adjust those figures upward for the last four months of the year.

This was a welcome recalculation, but it also means you'll probably have to figure your mileage deductions twice.

If you used your car for business between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31 last year, you can write it off at the rate of 40.5 cents per mile on your 2005 return. Travel for medical purposes during that time frame is deductible at 15 cents per mile, as is move-related mileage.

On Sept. 1, the IRS increased the rates to 48.5 cents per mile for business travel and 22 cents per mile for medical and moving miles.

The mileage deduction for travel related to charitable services is not adjusted for inflation. It is set by law at 14 cents a mile. However, Congress decided to modify that figure for driving done in connection with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. This deductible rate is 29 cents a mile for travel between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, and 34 cents for qualified trips taken between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31.
Remember: This increased charitable mileage rate is only for Katrina-specific volunteer services. Travel for all other charities at any time last year is worth only the standard 14 cents a mile on your return."


I am always amazed that some people (those who need to itemize) will do their own taxes. Clearly there are SPECIALISTS in life that can save your financial resources and this is one of them.

One year, when in my 20's, I did my own taxes and was not pleased with the results. I decided on a SECOND OPINION with a certified tax consultant and was able to save enough money to pay the consultant for the next 12 years. Since that time I consider this an absolute necessity.

What is important is to keep ALL your financial records and planning calendars. Good record keeping is also a necessity.


Sunday, January 22, 2006


My neighbor commented that "SOMEDAY" they needed to deal with their driveway problem. "Someday is not a day in the week." (C.SHEETS) -


Advice (given) and (taken) is a particularly peculiar human variable.

Today I went swimming at the local high school pool. I watched two girls from the swim team in practice doing lap races. The younger of the two consistently lost the races for multiple reasons but one reason really stood out - she raised her hand out of the water much higher (and longer) than her opponent.

I watched and asked myself if I should offer some advice. I knew from my years of youthful experience on a swim team (45 years ago) that trying to find that "edge" was difficult and elusive. So I asked if she "MINDED" if I shared some advice.

I don't know if she was just being polite to al OLD MAN or whether my observations really mattered but she was smiled and took it all in and said "thank you."

You can always throw advice away but you cannot always get it. Your attitude and reception to ANY advice will determine whether you receive it again from that person. Once "burned" you probably will get nothing in the future.


Peace and harmony restored - to mutual benefit. (See Prior post.)


Saturday, January 21, 2006


Today I was angry with someone. I was more disappointed in how I dealt with the issue than the person who raised it. Tomorrow I am going to ask an apology from this person - not because I feel I was intellectually wrong but because I did nothing to make the person respect me or my position. Hopefully if this person accepts my apology they will have greater consideration for my actions in the future - if not - I will have no chance to change their future actions.


Friday, January 20, 2006


An interesting commentary on NBC the other night made the astute comment that a "successful lifetime marriage" resulted in 2 to 4 times greater accumulation of wealth than single or divorced people. While I don't think this is "rocket science" it does point out how important it is to for people to make the effort to preserve a "marriage in trouble" or else face the financial consequences. And for people who are planning on living the "single lifestyle" there is a GREATER NEED to make responsible financial planning throughout their lives.

NOTE: And while nearly 50% of all US marriages end in result you can bring the ODDS DOWN SUBSTANCIALLY according to

Percent Decrease in Risk of Divorce

Annual income over $50,000 (vs. under $25,000) -30%
Having a baby seven months or more after marriage (vs. before marriage) -24%
Marrying over 25 years of age (vs. under 18) -24%
Own family of origin intact (vs. divorced parents) -14%
Religious affiliation (vs. none) -14%
Some college (vs. high-school dropout) -13%


I seldom buy, nor would recommend, the purchase of extended product warrenties. Most people who even buy them seldom even remember they have them, can't find the necessary documentation, or discarded the product as obsolescent. Probably 90%+ of the warrenties included with newly purchased items are never used (a guess).

Every product does require some investigation on your part. Some exceptions that might warrent consideration but they need to be weighted by the issues of RISK VS REWARD. For example paying $20 to extend a warrenty on a $200 DVD player from one year to three or four is probably a waste of your resources.

If your GOOD at saving money and keeping it FLUID you do not normally need an extended warrenty. Repairs are just part of your household budget.


The average homeowner should budget 1% to 3% of the home's value for annual maintenance, depending on the age and size of the home and area climate. Some years it might cost more, other years less. Nevertheless, what is really important is to make a periodic walk through and around your property looking for issues to be resolved. Once identified - deal with them. Sometimes just catching a minor leak can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs. (For example, my mother-in-law saw water on the basement floor but did nothing about it until it backed up in the upstairs bathroom.) This applies to CONDO owners in particular since they receive periodic assessments (often unannounced.)

I would strongly recommend keeping a separate money market account just for REPAIRS and AUTO REPLACEMENT (both of which are in my yearly budget.) Currently I am earning 3.5% interest on my money market account which is the same rate as the inflation rate.


Thursday, January 19, 2006


MANY years ago Ernie Kovacs had a comedy routine in which an insurance agent calls on a home owner and asks how he would like to buy an insurance policy from being attacked by a Gorilla during a snow storm. The man breaks out in laughter while the insurance man tells his henchman "Bring in the gorilla and start the snow storm.What prompted this memory was a comment by an acquaintence they were thinking about purchasing cancer insurance.

I asked my friend if he had a history of cancer in his family and he replied NO - he was just thinking of being prudent.

All too often people fail to deal with the REAL ODDS before they make good judgements. There is a whole theory of decision making called "Bayseian" logic premised on making judgement based on mathematical odds.

An interesting site based on INJURY ODDS is:

Do your research carefully.


What are your odds of winning?

Keno ODDS - 29.5 to 1 (the worst of all possible gambling odds)
Slots ODDS - 2%-35%
Routlete ODDS - 5.26%
Blackjack ODDS - 10%-20% (according to the skill of the player)
Craps ODDS - 1.4%-16.7%
Poker ODDS - (varies by player skills) and probability of the deal (you have a 10 time greater chance of getting a Royal Flush (649,459) than winning a state lottery of over 7,000,000.)

Gambling houses don't care who wins because they scalp their percentage (vigorish) off every player (winner) or (looser).


Wednesday, January 18, 2006


The old quotation "If your not part of the solution you are part of the problem" still holds true today.

Years ago an impasse with the support role of a Systems Analyst came to a head and required the intervention of our supervisor.

As the two of us sat in the supervisor's office I asked the Technician as to WHY he would not answer the technical questions that I asked of him. He looked at our supervisor and said "IF I tell you the answers you will tell others (implying I would take the credit) and they won't need me."

Agasp I told him that hopefully he was acquiring new knowledge every day and that I would always need to reply on his accumulated skill sets.

Sadly, he did not see it that way. Our supervisor told him that either he needed to make a change in his belief or to move on. He moved on - to everyone's satisfaction.

No one is indespensible. Your value increases geometrically in any organization (work, home, school, etc.) as others preceive your contributions to the whole.


Many years ago a fellow colleague was attempting to make copies of an operating system. He had spent approximately an hour without success while the support technician walked by a dozen times. When I came into the room I asked him "what was the problem" and listening to the explaination told him "WHY" his copy method didn't work and what he needed to do.

What seemed amazing to me was that the TECHNICIAN was working not ten feet away. When I asked the TECHNICIAN as to WHY he did not help him he replied "He didn't ask!"

Communicating problems and asking for help is not a fault - it is a skill which many people need to acknowledge and use in their daily lives.(And yes, it was the same Technician above.)


Monday, January 16, 2006


What IF you awoke this morning to hear that the Pope, dalal Lama, Pat Roberts, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim, and a half-dozen other religious leaders all had the same epiphany - "That God told them to tell their followers to share their wealth with the world's poor and to spend the rest of their lives in prayer awaiting the end of the world."

What would you do? What do you think the majority of people would do? (So do I)


Sunday, January 15, 2006


I have always been a firm believer in the Madeline Hunter Theory of Instruction. Even though instructional methods are often fluid in the educational arena I believe these tenets are useful where ever training takes place (school, work, or home.)

* Prepare with objectives and standards
* Tell your students what you plan on teaching
* Teach it by relating it to what your students already know (a hook)
* Have your students state (or demonstrate) what they have learned (guided practice)
* Finally you summarize what they should have learned (closure)
* Independent practice

(This is my simple summary of this instructional method.)


Friday, January 13, 2006


Work out your own salvation.  Do not depend on others.  ~Buddha


Promise only what you can deliver. Then deliver more than you promise. ~Author Unknown


Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. ~Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, c.1420


Wednesday, January 11, 2006


"Net worth is total assets minus total liabilities."

All too often people think that living in a big house, driving an expensive car, sending your children (or self) to an expensive vaction or school constitutes weath. This is often the farthest thing from the truth.

Putting down on paper your assets and liablilities will give you a "heads up" to your financial situation. Reviewing those figures AT LEAST twice a year is necessary if a person intends to retire with adequate resources. This is also essential to any estate planning.