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Archive for December, 2008

I recently stumbled upon a list of necessities when making a winter survival kit.  This one included a flashlight, a first aid kit, a shovel, a knife, and waterproof matches.  Everything on this list is bang on except for one thing….the matches.  Who in their right mind would take waterproof matches over a Bic lighter?  A Bic lighter is good for over 3,000 lights.   Besides…the ‘waterproof’ part of the match does not mean that they can be lit while they are wet.  It means that they will light after becoming wet but not before being thoroughly dried.  A regular match is ruined once it has become damp and will never light again.  A Bic works forever.

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My iPod does not work in weather of -2 degrees Celsius or colder.  I Googled the reason for this and have come to discover that iPods just don’t work in the cold.  There are some explanations out there that sensitive electronic equipment must be kept warm in order to work.  This seems fishy because my watch works in the cold, my car works in the cold and even my cell phone works in the cold (similar battery and display). In fact, I can’t think of anything else in the world of electronics that does not work in the cold.  As much as I love my iPod I can’t help but believe that some improvements must be made to help those of us who live in colder climates.

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What economic crisis?

How can it be in such times of frugality that pro athletes are still being paid millions of dollars to ‘play’ a sport?  Last week the New York Yankees signed CC Sabathia to a seven-year, $161 million deal, the largest and richest contract ever given to a pitcher.  Is this a flipping joke?

How can this be justified?  I get the whole ‘economics and revenue sharing’ component of pro sports contracts…but this is an insult.  It is insulting to those of us who actually work for a living.  It is even more insulting to those who wish to work for a living but who are unemployed.  There is nothing you can say to make me believe that a baseball player is worth that kind of money.  If your argument is that he brings in 200 million dollars to the profit pie than I’ll say that the pie needs to shrink.  Be it ticket prices and licensing fees or television revenue and advertising rates.  The whole thing stinks and needs to be amended.

Our descendants are going to look back at us and have a real chuckle…the same way we laugh at cavemen.

I love this guy.

I love this guy.

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Obviously it is impossible to say what the top 10 funniest movies of all time are because it is subjective.  But in case you are wondering what the 10 funniest movies actually are here is the list:

10.  Animal House – “Greg, honey, is it supposed to be this soft?”

9.  Old School – “I’m so cold…I think I see Blue! He looks glorious.”

8.  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – “The place is like a museum. It’s very beautiful and very cold, and you’re not allowed to touch anything”

7.  Naked Gun – “The truth hurts doesn’t it, Hapsburg. Oh sure, maybe not as much as jumping on a bicycle with the seat missing, but it hurts.”

6.  The Big Lebowski – “We believe in nothing.”

5.  Super Troopers – “These boys get that syrup in ’em, they get all antsy in their pantsy.”

4.  Next Friday – “Can’t even count to ten and you win the lottery, aint that a bitch”

3.  South Park – Bigger, Longer, Uncut – “And my little boy Eric, had my picture on his shelf. And now when he sees me he tells me to go fuck myself!”

2.  Zoolander – “You think that you’re too cool for school, but I have a newsflash for you Walter Cronkite… you aren’t.”

1.  Napoleon Dynamite – “You know, there’s like a boat-load of gangs at this school. This one gang kept wanting me to join because I’m pretty good with a bow staff.”

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unicefAs a Canadian with a baby I am very concerned to learn that Canada has failed 9 out of 10 of Unicef’s benchmarks for child care.

The full list of the 10 UNICEF benchmarks:

  • Parental leave of one year at 50 per cent of salary FAILED
  • A national plan with priority for the disadvantaged FAILED
  • Subsidized and regulated child care services for 25 per cent of children under 3 FAILED
  • Subsidized and accredited early education services for 80 per cent of 4-year-olds FAILED
  • 80 per cent of all child care staff trained FAILED
  • 50 per cent of staff in accredited early education services tertiary educated with relevant qualification PASSED
  • Minimum staff-to-children ratio of 1:15 in pre-school education FAILED
  • 1 per cent of GDP spent on early childhood services FAILED
  • Child poverty rate less than 10 per cent FAILED
  • Near-universal outreach of essential child health services  FAILED

FYI…Sweden managed to meet all 10 standards; Iceland met nine; Denmark, Finland, France met eight and the US and Switzerland tied with three.

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Sawdust and glue.

I read many different blogs on personal finance throughout the run of a week and many of them focus on where to invest money to get the greatest return.  As this economic collapse continues to unfold there is only one sure fire way to see your money grow; and that is by investing in a saving account.  There are still a few high interest savings accounts out there that provide a return of 3-4%.  In Canada your savings are insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation up to a maximum of $100,000.

I read an interesting article explaining why so many people now find themselves on the brink of bankruptcy.  For the purpose of this discussion let’s use the example of a big screen TV at a cost of $2,000.  In the eighties people would actually see this TV and begin accumulating savings in hopes of one day being able to purchase this item.  Once their savings got to $2,000 they would enter the store and pay for the TV in cash.  In the nineties people were getting less cautious with their money and would enter this same store and purchase this TV on the credit card knowing that they would be able to pay off their card at the end of the month when they got paid.  Then in 2000 it seems that people got credit crazy and bought consumer goods at a reckless pace with no regard for how they would eventually pay for this same TV, a buy now pay later approach.  With this we saw an explosion in the ‘no payments for 24 months’ type of deal.  This took it to an even higher level.  Not only can you have this TV today but you do not even need to put it on a credit card today.  Obviously this type of promotion appeals most to those who cannot afford the TV in the first place, the poor and uneducated.

As a result of these trends many of the large furniture and appliance chains ended up becoming credit unions first and retail outlets second.  The quality of the furniture diminished to a point where sawdust and glue became the norm.  This didn’t matter to most people because they were not using their own money to purchase this junk and therefore didn’t hold it to the same standards that they would have if they were feeling immediate pain or had saved up for the purchase in advance.  In reality they were using their own money and much more of it than if they had saved in advance and paid in cash.  Instead many people ended up paying a huge premium for crap, quality continued to diminish and people got poorer and poorer.

hold-the-payments

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3788bwc

The combustion engine may not be dead yet.

Hydrogen fuel can be implemented as a renewable energy medium with immense potential. When utilized properly, it has the potential to entirely replace fossil fuels altogether. Transforming our largely oil based economy, to a new hydrogen based economy, which will provide sustainability throughout the 21st century, and beyond, for as long as the sun continues to shine.

Is it possible for hydrogen to compete with oil in a global market? Absolutely!

For known energy sources hydrogen has the highest energy to weight ratio.  In fact, NASA has used it as a fuel source since the 1940’s.  NASA also uses hydrogen for its primary fuel while in space and for making drinking water. FYI..one pound of hydrogen when combined with oxygen will make upwards of nine pounds of pure distilled drinking water.

When most people think of alternative renewable energy they think of the electric car. You charge it for three hours and only get a 150 mile range. Although rapidly being developed (maybe very rapidly with the recent bailout) they remain slow, small, and pricey. With a hydrogen powered vehicle you don’t have to give up any of your luxury. In fact, hydrogen is more powerful than gasoline. Liquid Hydrogen has a BTU rating of 60,000 per pound where as gasoline has a BTU of only 18,000 per pound. This means that hydrogen lighter and more powerful than gasoline and diesel.

Hydrogen also has many practical uses. Hydrogen can be used as a cooking fuel, to heat your home and mow your lawn. Hydrogen can run your generator and produce the electricity for your home. With the addition of a fuel cell, hydrogen can be converted back to electricity to power your computer and your lights. It can be used in create electricity and replace gasoline, propane and even natural gas.  Probably the most important effect it will have is that it can be used to purify drinking water in devolving countries.  Think of the impact that will have on the reduction of global suffering.

We most not be naive to think that extracting hydrogen is easy.  Although advances are being made everyday we still need more efficient ways to get hydrogen.  At one time it actually took more energy to produce hydrogen from H2O than the energy that the extracted hydrogen would produce.  This is no longer the case but there is still much room for improvement.

The fact remains that using hydrogen for energy is imperative.

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