Saturday, August 20, 2005

Photo of the Day

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail - Virginia's State butterfly. The Eastern Tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus, is a large (12 cm wingspan) Swallowtail Butterfly. It is found in the Eastern United States, as far north as southern Vermont, and as far West as extreme Eastern Colorado. It flies from spring through fall, and most of the year in the southern portions of its range, where it may produce 2 or 3 broods a year. Canon 20D, EF100mm F2.8 Macro USM ; 1/500th @ f4.5 iso 200 Click the photo to see full sized view.

The Turnaround

Did you catch CNN's TheTurnaround this morning? As I've mentioned before, if business appeals to you and in particular the thought of running your own business, you can't find a much better show for giving you lots of tips on how to make your business work. Today's show concentrated on helping a lady run a catering business out her house and to assist her in making her business profitable. Emma Tate had to be one of the nicest ladies you would ever meet , in fact she was so nice, she was practically giving her business away for free to charitable organizations. One of the biggest lessons she had to learn was the ability to say "NO". While it was hard for her to turn people away, she also learned that being profitable means you can create jobs for people, something she hadn't really thought about. (So for those who scorn business all the time for making profits, remember, that does create opportunities for jobs - it's only when the profits become excessive and end up in the fat cats' pockets, that trouble begins).

One of the other interesting bits of advise given to her by her mentor was to create an advisory board that would look at all aspects of her business, initially on a monthly basis and then quarterly. What a great idea! How many small business owners would think of creating an advisory board of people who could honestly evaluate the business and point out ways to improve? Think about how many small businesses fail today in the early years - far too many. Why? Because most try to go it alone and can't see the forest for the trees. Think if they could have the mentoring that is provided by this TV show - the success rate would definitely soar. It always comes back to education, doesn't it? And this is education done correctly - by applying principles to real situations, not idly theorizing in a classroom somewhere. These are the sorts of things that our teachers in our public schools could learn from.

If I were thinking of starting a new business, I'd tape every one of these shows and follow all of these tips. You're getting advice from people who are the very best in their industry - where can you get that for free?

P.S. Just learned that CNN is cancelling this show . Come on - how dumb can you be? And to top it off you dumped Dolan's Unscripted as well. You trashed it originally when you took it off daily programming and now you cancel it for good. How do you think the common man learns about wise investments and financial planning? And learning how to run a small business? Geez, CNN - don't you think America would like to be educated?

Financial Advice
When was the last time you checked out your credit report? Were you aware that you can now get them free? Yep, once every 12 months you can get your free report from Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Head for . Eastern states have to wait till September 1st before this becomes available but for all the rest of you, you should definitely take advantage of this.

Mortgage Rates - I checked out the recent national averages - 5.8% for a 30 year fixed , 5.4% for a 15 year fixed. If you borrowed a 100K to buy a house, you'd be looking at $586/month payments on the 30 year fixed and $811 on the 15 year fixed. If you could figure out a way to come up with that extra $225/month for the 15 year fixed , you'd save $65,108 on buying that house. Of course you could take the difference ($225) and invest it, but then you have to do better than 5.8% and you have to calculate in taxes on the interest you earn on your investments, so in the end you'd have to be disciplined to invest that difference each month and you'd probably be shooting for at least a 10% return on your investment - something that isn't very easy to do in today's stock market. If it was me, I'd be searching awful hard for a way to come up with those extra bucks.

Quote of the Day
Mitch Hedberg - In England, Smokey the Bear is not the forest fire prevention representative. They have Smackey the Frog. It's just like a bear, but it's a frog. I think it's a better system, I think we should adopt it. Because bears can be mean, but frogs are always cool. Never has there been a frog hopping toward me, and I thought 'man, I'd better play dead. Here comes that frog ...' You never say here comes that frog in a nervous manner. It's always optimistic. Hey here comes that frog, all right. Maybe he will settle near me so I can pet him, and stick him in a mayonnaise jar, with a stick and a leaf, to recreate what he's used to. And I'm pretty sure I'd have to punch some holes in the lid, because he's damn sure used to air. Then I can observe him, and he won't be doing much in his 16-ounce world.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Turn of Faith

An interesting article on what it was like to be a Jehovah's Witness. One valuable tip I gleaned from this article - It's strange when Jehovah's Witnesses come to my door now. I know discussion is futile; they have a carefully planned response for any objection. Finally, I say, ''I'm an apostate,'' and their eyes widen at the word: someone who has willfully rejected Jehovah, far worse than a worldly person, who is simply ignorant of the Truth. A threat to the faith of others, an apostate deserves to be shunned, as we were forced to shun our disfellowshipped father. The Witnesses back away from my door. Reckon I know what I'll say the next time they show up. :) (appearing naked at the doorway with a pitchfork also seems to work).

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Check your Bandwidth Speed

Want to make sure your speed is what it should be while surfing the Net? Here are a few services that will help you do that - run them all and you'll see they come up with pretty close results - it will show you if you're doing well on your dialup/broadband connection. I'm on dialup and seem to be pretty consistently between 37 and 40KBps (5K/sec transfer rate). However, if I go to my other line (I have 2 lines and 2 line phones), I get only half that speed, yet the phone company tries to blame it on my 2 line phones or my computer modem. Find that hard to fathom.

One thing I do find is that if I check it and the speeds seem to be falling off and I keep rechecking and continue to see slower speeds, a disconnect and reconnect often will bring it back up to the steady good speeds. I'm not sure why this is - perhaps some sort of resistance build up in the line or modem? I'm just guessing - will have to find a modem forum to get a better idea on that. If a techie is reading this, perhaps they might be able to offer an explanation.

P.S. The tests below are quick and easy. Click a button and that's about it. Make sure other things aren't downloading in the background or pages refreshing automatically or your results will confuse you.

What kind of speeds are you finding on your system? Comment below.

Quote of the Day
Mitch Hedberg - I hate turkeys. If you stand in the meat section at the grocery store long enough, you start to get pissed off at turkeys. There's turkey ham, turkey bologna, turkey pastrami. Someone needs to tell the turkey: man, just be yourself. I already like you, little brother. You do not need to emulate the other animals. I used to draw you. (Stares at hand.) Man, if you were missing a couple of fingers, you drew one fucked-up turkey. You'd be like, "That turkey's been in an accident."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Photo of the Day

I think this photo sums up this summer pretty well. Too damn hot! Willow is probably wondering why someone hasn't delivered her beach umbrella. Canon 20 D, 100mm EF f2.8 USM Macro lens, 1/640th @f4.5 ISO 200 Click the photo for full sized view

Monday, August 15, 2005

Speed and then some

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWatched the World Outdoor Track championships from Helsinki, Finland over the past week. Some amazing up and coming talent for the US team, especially in the sprint events. I've always liked track (ran it in H.S - the 440 and Mile Relay).

I think one of the great moments in H.S. track and field comes sitting in the stands of a Gary, Indiana Regional totally surrounded by black folks, who love their track and field, especially the sprints. Man, that place used to rock and roll when it came time for the 100 . You could hear a pin drop waiting for that starter and when some of these young dudes came blasting out of the blocks, the place would go up for grabs with lots of oohing and awing. Some of the nation's top sprinters came out of Gary - I can't recall his name, but I do remember a young freshman phenom who had come close to tieing the National H.S. record in the 100 - he was amazing. (Unfortunately, went to the State meet - tripped over his sweats getting out of them, pulled a hamstring and that was the end of that - by the next year, he was high on drugs and long gone from the track scene - a true waste of a great talent). I also remember going to the old stadium in Indianapolis for the State Meet to see the likes of Bernie Rivers ( 9.6 in the 100 in '62 - from East Chicago Washington), Leroy Spikener from Gary Froebel (1:54 in the 800 in '66-67 and 1:52.7 the next year ( he used to toss his hat aside which was a signal to the crowd that he was going to take charge of the race - I still remember the state meet where that almost backfired - he tossed it early - in the first turn and damn near got beat at the end) , Clyde Peach of Indianapolis Brebauf - 9.5 in the 100 in '65-'66 (how'd a white kid ever learn to run that fast ?), Larry Highbaugh 20.5 in the 200 in '66-67 when it was still being run on the straightaway (Indianapolis Washington), Don Vandrey 4:10.8 in the mile in '65-66 and 4:10.3 the next year to winn again - Valparaiso H.S.), Rudy Chapa (4:05.8 in the mile in '75-76 - Hammond H.S and 8:58.5 in the two mile a year earlier). and Jerry Saffell of Laporte H.S. in the 120 yd, High Hurdles - 14.4 in '61-'62 and 14.1 '62-63 - ah, brings back great memories. I'm sure if you are from Indiana and were a track fan in the mid 60's these names are all quite familiar.

There's just something about 1 on 1 racing that makes it so damn exciting - whether it is track and field, horse racing, biking, indy or nascar racing, but still track and field ranks #1 in this guy's book.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Radical Middle

Although I listen to what the radical right and radical left have to say, I must admit I tend to drift towards the center. I think both of those elements help bring issues into focus, but little gets done on anything unless you have people in the middle willing to hack out a compromise between these two polarizing elements. I stumbled upon a Radical Middle newsletter the other day which seems to make some sense and tries to steer away from the viewpoint many have of centrists - that they're "mushy, ad-hoc,technocratic -- in a word, unprincipled." His Twelve-Point Plan for caring & creative centrists presents some very interesting viewpoints. Take some time to browse the site - there are a ton of links there. The design of the site is pretty blah, but obviously the author was more interested in the information than a splashy design.

Quote of the Day
Mitch Hedberg - I think a rotisserie is like a really morbid ferris wheel for chickens. It's a strange piece of machinery... "We will take the chicken, kill it, impale it, and then rotate it. And I'll be damned if I'm not hungry! Because spinning chicken carcasses make my mouth water! I like dizzy chicken. With a side of potatoes of some sort.