Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bruce's January 2008 Newsletter

Here's my set of collected gems I discovered or wrote about over the last month, December 2007.

Happy New Year to Everyone...



Computer

Some Keyboard Shortcuts for December
Keeping Your ID Safe on the Web
Quick Review - IE7
Controlling Your ScrollBars
Harmful Monitor Cleaners
Digital Image Software - ACDSee
The fun with Google
Firefox Extensions - Security, Usefulness, Functio...
You and Your Virus Application - A Readers Questio...
Flickr Photo Sharing - an Opinion by Bruce
Beware the Free Game Offers and Other Crap in your...



CONSUMER

Gift Cards and The Consumer
2 Recalls of Note - Bicycle Helmets and Lawn Mower...
Credit Card Safety Star Act
Find the DMV in Your State
Chase Online Hurdles
Something About Your Automotive Fuel
A Collection of Clever Advertising Pics
New Fuel Economy Standards Coming at Us
Household Product Recall List up to Dec 1 07



REAL ESTATE

Getting Cash Back at Closing
Southern California Home Prices Still Sliding
Delinquency Rates
For Sale By Owner - Being Stupid or Smart
The San Francisco Real Estate Market
Are you Running Out of Space
Year End Tax Moves
Some Places Still have Rising Prices




LIVING GREEN
New Energy Bill, New Lights but Interesting Side A...
Fade to Black on Incandescents
Turning Right is not Just being Lazy
More LED's in Our Life
Al Gore Accepted His Peace Prize
A Green Idea with your Coffee Trips
Steps to Help Keep Our Planet Green (Grocery Bags)...
The Next Time You Are Too Busy to Recycle a Soda C...
Going Paperless - One Way to Help
World Resource Use Statistics Page
Future Hopes for Wave Energy




My Photography (Images)
Tis the Season
Tis But a Lowely Creature of God
Mothers Care
A Picture in the Image
River's Witness
Moonrise over Barn, Idaho
California Sunshine - NOT
Oreo Cows - They Do Exist!
Ansel Adams Made Photography the Art it Is Today




NASCAR
Jimmie Johnson Donates to Wildfire Victims
Daytona 500 Speed Channel Coverage
Ryan Newman Foundation Raises big BUCKS
NASCAR - Take Note at how to Treat Violations
NASCAR Contest for Daytona
Separate Points System for Chase Contenders - NO
Coca-Cola Re-Ups It's Contract
The Changes We've Seen in NASCAR in 2007
Indy 500 Champs in the Field!



Hollywood News
Ty Pennington and Extreme Home Improvement
A Sad Anniversary - Chris Farley
Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough
NBC's Journeyman - is it really going away?
Michael Vick Sentenced
Jennifer Love Hewitt - Standing up and being Proud...
Iron Man Movie Wallpapers

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Cool Adjustable Mini Tri-Pod

How synced can a couple be?

A few months back I saw somewhere an advertisement for what is called a Gorillapod.

I never said a word to my wife, but thought to myself that this would be a very cool toy to have since I take a ton of photos and we drive and hike a lot.

Talk about one minded. My wife bought me a Gorillapod for the holidays. Good thing I fought my usual impulse and by myself something for Christmas... well, I did get a battery for my cell phone..... OK, there was a new phone attached to it, but that's another post.

This thing is pretty cool. It's got flexible legs that can be set up on uneven ground or they can be wrapped around posts and poles (I tested it) also. Their rubber based leg joints help this thing stay put... just don't too greedy in the size of the post you tackle, and use a safety line of some sort to anchor the camera in case the pod lets loose.

You can check out the pod at joby
or if you're interested in looking into buying one, you can check it out at Amazon:

Wanna Be a Ghost Hunter?

Ever wanted to be a Ghost Hunter, but wasn't sure where to start?

Well, I supposed you could watch Sci-Fi Channels Ghosthunters and see what stuff and gadgets they tend to use.. or, you can go over the required or suggested list of equipment over at dvice.

Personally, steely nerves and a good dog are your basic tools as far as I'm concerned. My grandparents lived in this very old house that had a history to it.. like what old house doesn't, right?

I'd visit every summer and on one or two of those visits, the dog had some interesting issues with a particular corner of the living room.. basically, he's stop cold in his tracks and Kimo would bark and snarl at the corner. Lore has it if you look over and between a dog's ears, you can see the ghost they are barking at.

Did I? Hell no! I did not want to see anything. As it was, I "took the dog for walk" at 9pm, in the middle of Maine.. no lights but starlight. I'll take my chances with the grizzlies we had for neighbors but no ghosts, no way, uh uh.

So you can either check out the link, or watch a DVD episode of Ghosthunters

Thursday, December 27, 2007

You, Driving and The Road

I was driving home from my holiday get together with family and friends and on my long drive home, it was fascinating to see and encounter the different "styles" of swerving, distracted driving one can encounter.

This doesn't include pedestrians, weather and the extra challenge of night driving.

There's the parent yelling at the kids driver, who turns over their shoulder to yell at their kids, all the while pulling on the steering wheel causing the vehicle to slowly encroach on your own lane and possible force you to speed up or slow down to avoid the new paint scheme on the side of your car.

There's the nut who has to be there before everyone else on the road. I've even witnessed one fellow split lanes with his car yesterday, forcing on vehicle into the emergency lane.

I like the folks who swerve out to the left to make a right turn, hence taking up almost 2 lanes of traffic for a simple maneuver.

There's the sleepy solo driver who appears to be using the lane lines as car center guides.... it doesn't matter which line, it all can end up the same way if none of us are careful.

There's also the driver who slams on the brakes for any occurrence in the lane next to him, if the road curves, or going over a hill. I understand their concerns, but they make more concerns with their over cautious approaches.

I can never decide whether I want to get in front of, or behind folks like these. If I'm in front of them, they may, I should really keep the pedal down to put distance between me and them, but then, they may also be one of those drivers who rate of speed varies 5 to 10 mph so you never know what you're going to get.

If I back off and lag behind, I may get to see an eyeful if they do have a mishap, and then I get caught up in it too... oh the travesty and decisions one must make these days!

Yet underneath all of my worries, our car safety devices lay in wait, as I hope I never need them.



Of all the safety features introduced since 1960, one of them - safety belts - accounts for more than half of all the lives saved," says Dr. Jeffrey Runge, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The other features include child safety seats, energy-absorbing steering columns, improved roofs, and shatter-resistant windshields.

Here's an article on these features and how they've helped save lives over the years over in the Detroit Press

Through out all of this, don't forget our pets.. who can become the hapless victims of any accident since there are few safety features designed with them in mind!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bubble Gum in Hair -

A Wives Tale Proven True! Getting Bubble Gum out of Hair.

Tonight my niece got gum in her hair. Her mom just wanted to cut the affected hair off and she didn't want her hair to get shorter.

My wife suggested something she's heard about and thought she'd try it!

USING PEANUT BUTTER TO REMOVE GUM FROM HAIR.

She took a 1/2 a tablespoon of peanut butter (Jiff, not that I'm pushing the brand, it's just what was there) and ran the peanut butter through the affected area and the hair that was stuck came easily loose from the gum!

Has anyone else proven other wives tales true? I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Curious Tidbit on Koi

A Curious Tidbit by Bruce Simmons

Did you know that Koi  (Those GIANT gold fish that come from Japan and reside in various public ponds and pools) have a typical lifespan of 35 to 60 years?  The oldest koi died in 1977 after living a reputed lifespan of 226 years!  Wow.

The Koi industry is a $3 billion a year industry and it's been known for collectors to pay up to 20 grand for one of these fish.

Koi have personalities just like big puppies, where they get all excited when "mom or dad" get home..  and exhibit other unique, non-fish attributes and koi owners can be superstitious where they don't eve name their fish in fears of cursing the little orange pond torpedoes! 

The article I came across touches on one man's passion for his koi and some of his endeavors that include a 13,000 gallon tank, three outdoor pools, a stream, waterfall and a holding tank inside a greenhouse for wintering over his 50 koi.  Sheesh, I thought my diecast hobby was bad!

If curious, see the whole article titled
Ode to koi: Enthusiasts cherish colors, serenity of Japanese fish
over at The Detroit Free Press.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shawshank Redemption - The Real Thing!

Many folk get inspired by what they see on tv and prison inmates are no exception.

Two inmates in a Union County, NJ jail used posters to cover their work and used a thick metal wire to scrape at mortar, and a 10-pound steel water shut-off wheel to crush the removed bricks.  All the while, covering up their developing work with bikini girl posters!!

They then hoped out onto a roof, scaled the barbed wire fence, and bolted in two different directions.  Wow, talk about life imitating art!
And by the way, they're still out there!

Check out all the details over at NEWS.AOL.

Sniffle Busting Personality

People with generally positive outlooks show greater resistance to developing colds than do individuals who rarely revel in upbeat feelings, a new investigation finds.  (Great, I'm doomed!)

In a study published in 2003, a test group of 334 healthy adults showed that those who displayed generally positive outlooks, including feelings of liveliness, cheerfulness, and being at ease, were least likely to develop cold symptoms unlike their negative counterparts.

The "happy" people reported fewer cold symptoms than were detected in medical exams.

A current study offers "an interesting twist" on the relationship between feelings and health as other research indicates that negative emotions influence immune function and illness development more powerfully than positive emotions do.

Excerpts from Science News Magazine,Week of Dec. 16, 2006; Vol. 170, No. 25 , p. 387

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Identity Theft and You

There's a website that acts as a one-stop national resource to learn about the crime of identity theft.

It provides detailed information to help you deter, detect, and defend against identity theft.

On the site you can learn how to avoid identity theft and what to do if you become a victom of identity theft. This site also helps businesses learn how to help their customers deal with identity theft, as well as how to prevent problems in the first place.

Check it out at the FTC site.

Vegetarian Recipe Websites

My wife is vegetarian. I've started looking up different sites to get recipe ideas to put together so WE can enjoy the healthy life! I did a google search and these are the top rated search results that came up.

Over 9000 vegan / vegetarian recipes, restaurant guide, coupons, product reviews and more.vegweb.com/
~~~

More than 3580 trusted vegetarian recipes complete with ratings, reviews and cooking tips.
allrecipes.com
~~~

Vegetarian and vegan recipes, cooking and nutrition tips, by cookbook author Nava Atlas.
vegkitchen.com
~~~

Large collection of reader-submitted vegan recipes from many countries.
www.ivu.org/recipes/
~~~

Small collection of tried and tested recipes at Toptaste.com
~~~

The Vegetarian Resource Group
Recipes, nutrition information, articles and books. The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) is a non-profit organization.

Friday, December 14, 2007

FOOD Warnings for Your Dog

The other day I mentioned to my Vet Tech that my dog loves grapes.  You should try that statement sometime at the front desk of your vet's office.  Watch everyone freeze up on you, or pick out the new people, because the seasoned staff are used to arcanely stupid statements.

My vet tech calmly said not to feed my dog grapes because on occasion, they can be hazardous to the dog, such as chocolate can be.  Apparently she's had the occasion to watch a dog die from eating grapes, so I thought, whoa!!  Not good.  My dog also likes green beans like they're the last food on earth...  that one I don't get.  She's a freak.

Anyhow's. check out this site I came across about bad food for dogs.  It included grapes, so it passed my impromptu, albeit limited quality check:  HUMAN FOODS THAT POISON DOGS.

Aye Matey, Raise the Sails!!

It seems that the very famous sunken ship of Captain Kidd has been located in shallow waters off the Dominican Republic.

It is remarkable that the wreck has remained undiscovered all these years given its location, just 70 feet off the coast of Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic in less than 10 feet of seawater.  Talk about hiding in plain site!

Check out the details over at AOL NEWS.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Calling God as a Witness, Hello, God?

I could not resist re-posting this:  Court summons for Hindu gods

Two popular Hindu gods have been summoned to a court in India as witnesses in a property dispute as a judge in the eastern state of Jharkhand issued notices to the revered Ram and to the monkey god Hanuman.

Court officers went to the temple at the heart of the dispute to deliver the summons but no one was willing to accept the orders on behalf of the gods, the report said.

Though the temple was initially given to the family of Manmohan Pathak in the 1920's, a local worshiper successfully petitioned for the temple to be declared public property in 1987.

A spate of appeals followed, with Halder adding the gods' names to his petition.

What's next, God on Jury duty??

SOURCE

Celebrity Puppy Mills in Bel Air

The Humane Society of the United States has just finished a three month investigation of a top Los Angeles pet store that caters to celebrities like Paris Hilton.

The Pets of Bel Air pet store in California boasts a high profile clientele but the pets in the store, like a lot of other commercial pet ventures, are stocked with pets that were warehoused and raised in horrid conditions.

The Humane Society of the United States undercover investigation found Pets of Bel Air obtains their animals from 28 puppy mills throughout the Midwest.

Puppy mills are big business: two to four million puppies from 10,000 puppy mills are sold annually, which adds up to a heartbreaking bottom line for any animal lover.

My blood boils and yet, what can one do, but at least make sure people know.

There are many more details over at CBS Showbuzz

Restrictive Use for Foothills Park in Palo Alto, CA

Palo Alto's Foothills Park will remain exclusively for city residents after the council voted down a proposal this week to open its gates to local business owners.  Wow, a park owned by a city who won't share it.

My first impression about Foothills Park:  How presumptuous of them to restrict a chunk of nature that everyone has a right to.not just special folks because of their income status.

Yet I don't disagree with the attitude in reference to no one helping them pay for it some years back, but still, it sets a poor example to folk about the premise of sharing. Yo - let it go.

If they run this park off taxes from Palo Alto commerce, then anyone who owns or does business in Palo Alto, but doesn't live there are the owners of the park then.

I find myself in Palo Alto often, yet the money I spend there is funneled into programs designed to keep me out?  I can always spend my money at home or other places if that's the case.

As Harry S. Truman put it:  It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit. Apparently Palo Alto council members care about the credit.

Palo Alto Daily News

Monday, December 10, 2007

Gerald Ford - A Quote for 121007

Always demanding the best of oneself, living with honor, devoting
one's talents and gifts to the benefits of others - these are the measures
of success that endure when material things have passed away.

Gerald R. Ford

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Best Meteor Shower of the Year Coming UP

What could be the best meteor display of the year will reach its peak on the night of Dec.13-14 from the annual Geminid Meteor Shower:

The "Gems" have a reputation for being rich both in slow, bright, graceful meteors and fireballs as well as faint meteors, with relatively fewer objects of medium brightness.

This year, the moon will be at new phase on Dec. 9 making for a near moonless night for the show.

Generally speaking, depending on your location, Gemini begins to come up above the east-northeast horizon right around the time evening twilight is coming to an end. So you might catch sight of a few early Geminids as soon as the sky gets dark.

For the details, check out News.Yahoo for all the details.

Women Drivers are Safer Drivers?

A new study indicates that women drivers are safer than men.  (Great, I'll never hear the end of it now.)

Studies shattered the stereotypes about traffic gender terrors.  Road fatality statistics were compiled into a database, then analyzed to derive a risk analysis broken down by age, gender, type of vehicle, time of day and geographic region.

The study showed that:

*  Male drivers have a 77% higher risk of dying in an accident than women, based on miles driven. (We drive faster)
* The highway death rate is higher for cautious 82-year-old women than for risk-taking 16-year-old boys. (Quicker reaction time..  oh, just have a reaction!)
* New England is the safest region for drivers — despite all those stories about crazy Boston drivers. ( Can't go fast in the snow and ice!)
* The safest passenger is a youngster strapped in a car seat and being driven during morning rush hour. (Strapped into a safety cocoon, going 10 mph.. go figure!!)

The study noted that about one death occurs for every 100 million passenger miles traveled. (But with over 200 million drivers, that's a lot!!)

The 82-year-old women BEING more likely to die on the road than a 16-year-old boy is because they are not so resilient to physical trauma. 

But yet, young male drivers, ages 16-23, have fatality rates four times higher than average.

Drivers aged 40 and 50 tied for the lowest risk of dying in an accident.  (Yea, we've gotten out of our system and still have reactions! )

The safest scenario the study suggested was a 4-year-old girl in a van or school bus, stuck in a Wednesday morning rush hour in New England in February. (Some people have all the luck)

Of all the ages to be in a car, 4-year-olds have the lowest death risks — probably because they are in child car seats and their parents drive more carefully, Fischbeck said.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16698153/

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Quote for a Thursday - 120607

Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.
    Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

A Comment on Teen Birth Rate Increases

In an article on CNN, it's noted that the teen birth rates are up 3%, but they aren't making any forgone conclusions as this might be a statistical blip in the scheme of things.

This little snippet has revived arguments against 'abstinence-only sex education' as the report, released Wednesday, quickly took on political implications as opponents of abstinence-based programs seized on the data as evidence of wrong-headed government policy.

"Congress needs to stop knee-jerk approving abstinence-only funding when it's clear it's not working," said U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, who is pushing for more comprehensive sex education.

My comment is this:  This raises a question about pawning off responsibilities in the home.  Doesn't decision making and other factors start at home with the parents?  I agree that sex education needs to be available and needs to cover more topics in addition to abstinence.  The average age of initial 'encounters' ranges from 14 to 17, depending on who or what you read.  It's going to happen some day, no matter what the age and our youth should be made aware of as many options as possible, but to depend on external sources to teach our children, just confuses me.

Sites like http://www.teensource.org/  and  http://www.sexetc.org/  can be good resources when a responsible youth is looking for answers but doesn't want to embarrass themselves publicly but I think it all starts with how we communicate.

If you want to read the whole article, check out the cnn link at the start of my post.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Here we go with the How Fast Is Santa Thing

First off, Santa is magical, or an alien teleporting being or something like that..  simple as that.  With that being said:

In a nutshell, Santa's route will include 2.5 billion homes, where he spends 34 microseconds at each home.
He must then travel at 3,604 miles (5,800 kilometers) per second to get to each household, which on average, is only 66 feet apart.
BUT, since he's traveling so fast with such a bulky load that the air resistance would cause the entire contraption to burst into flames and be vaporised within 4.26 thousandths of a second into his trip.

Hence, it's all on the parents now, but then, we knew that.  Right?  In the meantime, Santa regenerates until next year when he will vaporize again... so basically, all the elves work goes up in smoke?  Wow, that's frustrating!


Source for my inspiration:  News.Yahoo

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Interesting Link to Ponder

http://www.roadsideamerica.com

It points out interesting places in and around the United States.

One that got me going was the gravity vortexes!!
http://www.roadsideamerica.com/set/SCIspots.html

Too fun!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Technorati Website

In creating a blog, one must look to different ways to get exposure to their blogs to generate traffic so people can see the stuff that's important to them, and generate interest.

Places like http://technorati.com/ is one of those link reference sites.

I've created an account, and part of the process (At least one of them) is to claim a blog to add to your profile.

I have to add a link to my profile, so here it is: http://technorati.com/people/technorati/brusimm

It seems pretty self explanatory and interesting.. I'll fill you in on more as I go.

Technorati Profile