Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursdays Thinkers

I've been busy with projects for a few days and unable to find the time to post regularly. Please accept my apology. Even though I have been busy, I've still had time to think and I've done a lot of that. While thinking may be difficult for most of you, I thought it would be fun to post some questions for you.

Give these some thought and post your answers to any or all of them.

1. Is there anything you care about enough to give your life for it?

2. If you could enter a racehorse in the Kentucky Derby, what would you name your horse?

3. Using only one word, describe yourself as a child.

4. What is the most humiliating moment you have had involving a member of the opposite sex?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Life Objectives

"Our ultimate life objective should be to create as much as our talent and ability and desire will permit. To settle for doing less than we could do is to fail in this worthiest of undertakings." - Jim Rohn

Saturday, August 25, 2007

August's Outdoor Barbeques

We are nearing the end of August and children are preparing to go back to school, the temperatures will be dropping soon (we hope), and vacation time is coming to an end. But there is still a lot of time left for outdoor barbecuing.

I've been known to step out on the back deck in a freezing snowstorm to light up the grill and barbecue dinner so there's really never a time that you can't enjoy the wonderful flavor of a meal cooked on the grill. Here's some tips before you get started:

1. Scrub the grill (or rebuild it, if you have to).
2. Scour the ice chest.
3. Provide comfortable seating:
Re-strap patio chairs with vinyl webbing
Pressure-wash plastic outdoor furnishings
Fix wobbly benches
4. Provide shade or improve the shade you've got:
Buy a sun umbrella
Clean the vinyl sun umbrella that you already own with an automotive convertible vinyl-top cleaner
Repair the crank mechanism
5. Keep the bugs at bay:
Buy bug spray repellent and repellent wipes
Buy food tents to keep the bugs off the food
6. Keep the garden hose and a spray nozzle handy for anything from hand washing to plate rinsing.
7. Hit the deck: Remove and replace loose planks or rusty, protruding fasteners.

Also see: 180+ recipes for the grill from MSN

What are YOUR favorite grill recipes? Share them in the comments!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday's Fantastic Finds

It's time for another issue of Fridays Finds. The one day each week when I share with you some of the many unique places I find on the web. The sites listed could vary in content from funny to educational, or bizzare to just plain enjoyable. Some might be commercial sites selling unusual items and others might be freely sharing whatever they have.If I have the time I will include a description with the link to give you an idea of what to expect. In most cases you should be able to figure out what to expect by the name of the site although some may surprise you. So, fasten your seatbelts, keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times but please have fun!
10. Watch your car in a crash test (choose your model)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

House Fire

A close neighbor had their home burn down on early Tuesday morning. They were in bed around 1:00 a.m. when they smelt smoke and realized the house had caught fire. They managed to get themselves and their pets out but the home was a total loss.

Three volunteer fire fighting units responded to the fire which incidentally belonged to the Deputy Fire Chief of our little towns volunteer fire department. Which only shows that tradegy can strike anyone at anytime.

Our hearts go out to this young couple. We have them in our prayers. Although their lives were spared they loss everything. All their photos, heirlooms, keepsakes and belonging were lost. Luckily they have insurance and their home can be rebuilt or replaced. But the personal effects that are lost cannot.

Please take the time to do an assessment of your home. Are you prepared for a tradegy like this? Here's a few tips to prevent fires in your home and keep your family safe.

Make a fire escape plan for your family. Find two exits out of every room. Pick a meeting place outside. Practice makes perfect – hold a family fire drill at least twice each year.

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Put them inside or near every bedroom. Test them monthly to make sure they work. Put in new batteries once a year.

Know how to put out a small pan fire by sliding a lid over the flames.

Teach every family member to “Stop, Drop and Roll” if clothes catch fire.

Consider having a home fire sprinkler system installed in your new home, or when you remodel.

Learn how and when to use a fire extinguisher.
If you have a fire in your home, once you get out, stay out.
Do not go back inside for any reason.

Some good Links:

Home Safety Council Resource Center,

Home Safety

Home Electrical Safety Tips

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A good way to skip work

Wednesday is known as hump day because it's the middle of the week and we're over the hump. So in honor of this special day I present a unique way to skip out of work early. Enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Jim Cramer doesn't beat the market

Breaking News!!!
Cramer's picks haven't beaten the market!

An article in the August 20 edition of Barron's and sent out through reuters on Sunday reported that Jim Cramer's stock picks from his nightly CNBC show "Mad Money" have not beaten the stock market in over two years. Read the Barron's artice here

It didn't come as a surprize because I've felt for some time that his picks just aren't very well researched. I'm only a novice in the stock market but I've out-done his picks since my first few weeks of following the market. (I started in April of this year) Of course, Jim doesn't have the use of the Mentor Center like I do.

Unlike Cramers methods of using emotion to choose stocks, the Mentor Center gathers information from all of the 12000+ stocks on the market and breaks it down for me. It then rates and scores each company so that I can choose from the best. I just spend about an hour a week taking a deeper look at the top 40 to 80 stocks to determine the ones with the best "buy" or "sell" signals. My list is usual broken down to about 8 or 10 stocks that I watch during the week.

I use the website to practice making my trades. They provide FREE practice portfolios filled with $100,000 of virtual cash that I can invest in the real stock market without any risk. This is helping me build up my confidence and abilities to pick good stocks before I start putting my own money into the market. BigSmarty also has tournaments and games to play which makes it extremely interesting and fun. I invite you to join me there (it's free). Drop me an email to let me know your user ID in the tournaments.. we can go head to head sometime.

I'm not the best one there.. in fact, last week I finished in the next-to-last place after investing in a mortgage company which lost about 60% overnight. But it was fun and it wasn't my own money, so what the heck!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Sabbath

"The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. Abstinence from work and recreation is important, but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges aout doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it." - Spencer W. Kimball

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Slow Down

One of the problems with our world today is our need for speed. Rush, rush, rush is the order of the day. Maybe the solution to a lot of our problems is to slow down. Afterall, life isn't worth living if you can't occassionally stop and smell the roses. If you're so busy trying to provide that you don't have the time to enjoy, then you're not really living up to your potential.

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing slowly. Here's some ideas to help you slow down and enjoy life:

1. Put your feet up and stare out of the window. Warning: don’t try this while driving.
2. Spend some quality time in the bathtub.
3. Write down these words and place them where you can see them, “Multitasking is a Moral Weakness.”
4. Try to do only one thing at a time.
5. Do not be pushed into answering a question right away. Take your time.
6. Try the “One Minute Slow Exercise.” Whats that? It's when you slow down for just one minute. If you are walking, slow down the pace. If you are driving, ease up on the pedal. Slow down your rate of speech. Did you notice anything different?
7. Yawn often. Medical studies have shown that yawning may be good for you.
8. Take a nap and spend at least an hour extra in bed. You deserve it.

Just slow down.. you move too fast,

Friday, August 17, 2007

Fridays Fabulous Finds

It's time for another issue of Fridays Finds. The one day each week when I share with you some of the many unique places I find on the web. The sites listed could vary in content from funny to educational, or bizzare to just plain enjoyable. Some might be commercial sites selling unusual items and others might be freely sharing whatever they have.If I have the time I will include a description with the link to give you an idea of what to expect. In most cases you should be able to figure out what to expect by the name of the site although some may surprise you. So, fasten your seatbelts, keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times but please have fun!
1. Here's a great HTML tester:
3. Tired of people stealing your online photos? Here's how to do a No Right Click:
5. Have you tried flashface?:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I just don't understand Christians

If you read yesterdays entry you know that I am leaning decidedly towards susporting Mitt Romney as a Presidential candidate. I find him to be the candidate with the strongest virtues that I believe in.

What I don't understand is why his religion comes into play. I may just be a poor country boy in Texas but it just don't seem like people are judging him correctly. The Boston Globe reports that an Iowa Christian group circulated flyers at Saturday's straw poll urging people not to vote for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon. "We strongly believe that Jesus Christ, if he were alive in the flesh in this time and voted, would NEVER vote for Mitt Romney under any circumstances," the flyer says. "Mitt Romney represents Mormonism which is counterfeit Christianity, a cult."

Well I looked into it.. and I learned that in a little over a decade, the Mormon Church has shipped more than 27,000 tons of clothing, 16,000 tons of food, and 3,000 tons of medical and educational supplies and equipment to relieve the suffering of millions of people in 146 countries throughout the world.

On July 11th of this year a chartered cargo plane left Salt Lake City, laden with humanitarian supplies for war-stricken Kosovo. The supplies arrived in Macedonia on July 11 and were loaded onto trucks to complete delivery to thousands affected by the war, including massive numbers of refugees returning to demolished or heavily damaged homes. The nearly 90,000 pounds of humanitarian relief cargo included 25,000 hygiene kits with nearly 29,000 bars of soap and 25,000 tubes of toothpaste.

Another 50,000 hygiene kits are being assembled by Mormon Church groups in England and Germany, and in Seattle, Dallas and Atlanta. Also in the shipment will be kits that include blankets, diapers and other essential items for the care of new-born babies. In addition, 8,000 food boxes are being prepared in San Diego, Mesa and Denver, and at three locations in Utah.

Earlier shipments of food, clothing and other supplies were sent by the Church to the war's refugees and other victims. Some shipments have gone by air, others by sea.

In addition, the Church is purchasing 25 tractors to be used by returning Kosovar refugees for farming and cleanup work.

These supplies and equipment are but a small portion of LDS humanitarian service provided without regard to race, religion or culture to destitute and needy people worldwide.

This doesn't sound like the work of a cult to me. But then, then way some preachers lie about other religions doesn't sound like the work of a true Christian either. I am beginning to think that I would rather have a Mormon in the White House than a self-proclaimed Christian that doesn't recognize the good that other people do.

Read the full articles here and then let me know what you think:

Boston Globe Article

Humanitarian Service of the Mormon Church

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Romney takes stage in Grand Prairie, Texas

At Freedom Concert, he praises troops, says U.S. will win war on terror

The more I hear about Mitt Romney, the more I like him. Of all the presidential candidates for 2008, he appears to be the only one with the class and dignity to win back the respect of the world. Say what you will about him but he is as honest and dependable as any politician out there.

Here's a report out of Dallas, Texas:

By GROMER JEFFERS JR. / The Dallas Morning News
12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 15, 2007

GRAND PRAIRIE – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told about 6,000 people gathered for a country music show that the country would win the ongoing fight against terrorism.

"There's a huge sacrifice being made by families and men women of this country around the world, and it's worth it because there's evil in this world," Mr. Romney said to a crowd gathered at Nokia Theatre for an event called Freedom Concert. "There are jihadists and there are fundamentalists who want to bring down moderate Islamic states and they want to bring us down as well, and they are not going to do it."

Mr. Romney is fresh off a victory in the Iowa straw poll and considered a front-runner in the Republican race for president.

But his campaign has work to do to win over Texans, many of whom are suspicious about the credentials of any candidate from Massachusetts – even Republicans.

Before introducing Mr. Romney, Fox News commentator Sean Hannity said it was hard to believe an elected Republican led a state represented by longtime Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Even so, Mr. Romney was greeted with applause, and his brief remarks centered on the contributions of the military troops and their families.

"There's war being waged by the terrorists," he said. "We're going to wage a war on them, and we're going to win."

The concert, sponsored by Mr. Hannity and WBAP radio, also featured retired Lt. Col. Oliver North and former House Speaker Newt Gringrich. It is one of several shows throughout the country designed to raise money for scholarships for the children of soldiers killed or permanently wounded in the line of duty.

Mr. Gingrich called for a three-day special session of Congress to react to the recent execution-style slayings of three students in Newark, N.J.

A new law is needed, he said, that allows local law officials to hold suspects charged in felonies until it can be determined if they are U.S citizens. Two of the suspects in Newark were illegal immigrants with long criminal records, he said.

"When young college students get massacred on American streets, we should act now," he said.

Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, welcomed concertgoers. Mr. Perry compared the current military struggle to the standoff at the Alamo and said those fighting in the military and their families understand that "Freedom is not free."

"There are some things that are worth putting your life on the line for, and freedom in America is that today," Mr. Perry said as the crowd screamed and cheered. "There ain't no place like Texas, and there ain't nobody like the United States military."

Then, at Mr. Perry's urging, the crowd, decked out in red, white and blue, began chanting "USA, USA, USA."

Ms. Hutchison had similar praise for the military and their families.

"Let me tell you a few things about our state," Ms. Hutchison said. "Number One, we love our military. We love our country."

The concert featured performances by Montgomery Gentry, Lee Greenwood and Collin Raye.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Product Sourcing for eBay Sellers

If it's Tuesday, it must be time for another episode of eBay Tips & Tricks.

Let's talk about the biggest problem most eBay sellers have.. Sourcing. Without a doubt the biggest hurdle most sellers face is where to find a consistent supply of merchandise to sell. First off, don't fall into using a commercial drop ship company. These companies buy hundreds of items and warehouse them for you. When you sell an item they ship it for you. It sounds great, in theory, but in reality their costs are usually too high and with lots of sellers trying to sell the same things the competition is too tight to make a profit.
The most successful sellers find their products in a number of ways. Let's review some here.

1. Garage Sales and yard sales have limited coverage areas and you can find good used items at great prices if you take the time to visit them on a regular basis. Remember, fancier neighborhoods have better items than poor or middle class neighborhoods. Early birds DO get the worm and the first people at a good yard sale will walk away with the best items. Estate sales have better items than garage or yard sales and usually feature things that have been collected over a number of years. Garage sale ads that say "moving to a smaller house mean these people are doing more than just cleaning out the junk.

2. Going out of business sales can be a real bonanza. Some companies will advertise "going out of business" only to take the best merchandise and reopen with a different name or in a different location. Be sure the business is REALLY closing. If they are really going out of business, don't be afraid to make an offer on a quantity of items. They may surprise you and accept your offer.

3. Auction houses are another place to find unusual items and pick up great bargains. Many companies will liquidate their excess inventory through an auction house and you can gain the advantage of buying new items at greatly reduced prices.

4. Thrift shops, including Goodwill, Salvation Army and a variety of Resale shops are another place to find good items to sell on eBay. Many people don't want to bother with a yard sale and prefer to donate their goods to a charity thrift shop. Check them out frequently as they move through their best inventory quickly.

5. Discount stores and factory outlets. While consulting with sellers for eBay, I had a client who spent a large portion of every day waiting for a local factory store to find the best items. Whenever they brought out a new rack of clothing she would buy the best items, take them to her van and return to the store to wait for the next rack. While she shopped, her husband was home taking photos and listing the items on eBay. They had more than $25,000 in sales every month!

6. Look into sources close to your home for buying unclaimed freight, returns, seasonal overstocks, liquidations, etc. You might find a new source that brings your eBay business to the next level.

7. Last but not least.. there are just to many sources to mention, contact traditional product manufacturers and distributors and inquire about setting up a wholesale account. Buying products at a true wholesale price and selling it at a discount from retail can still generate a great profit. If you don't have overhead and employee salaries to pay you can give a discount of 15 to 20% off retail and still realize a 10-20% profit! Some manufacturers and distributors will also drop ship for you and you won't even have to carry the cost of inventory! It's a great way to do business!

8. Okay, one more. Become an eBay Trading Assistant and sell things for other people. They provide the merchandise and you do the selling. The return is a nice percentage of the sales price ending up in your pocket.

Good luck and happy eBaying!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Last Nights Meteor Shower

Last night my wife and I stayed up late to experience the Perseids Meteor Shower. We had read in a local paper that Sunday night would be the best night to view the annual show that always lights up the sky in mid August.

We put some blankets in the bed of the pickup and added our pillows then drove the truck out into one of the pastures where we would have an unobscured view of the heavens.

It was past midnight and the air was cool and calm. We remarked on how pleasant it was and we held hands as we laid in the back of the pickup watching for our first "shooting star" of the evening. It didn't take long. A beautiful star with a streaming tail flaired up directly over our heads and shot across the sky.

We didn't stay out much more than about 45 minutes. We were tired and Monday morning was fast approaching. But during our short stay, we witnessed a beautiful display of the Universes magic and appeal. Check your local news or the internet to find the best times to catch this show in your area. It's well worth the time invested.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

"Failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night. - Zig Ziglar

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Loose Ends - Some Days I Just Feel So Old

Now that we have the humor out of the way for today. Here's a great article that I reccommend for your reading: What matters about Romney's Religion.
Visit this site for more information about the Mormons basic beliefs.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Fridays Fabulous Finds

It's time for another issue of Fridays Finds. The one day each week when I share with you some of the many unique places I find on the web. The sites listed could vary in content from funny to educational, or bizzare to just plain enjoyable. Some might be commercial sites selling unusual items and others might be freely sharing whatever they have.
If I have the time I will include a description with the link to give you an idea of what to expect. In most cases you should be able to figure out what to expect by the name of the site although some may surprise you. So, fasten your seatbelts, keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times but please have fun!

1. Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

2. Palindrome Connection


4. Create your own kaleidoscope:

5. Who is Your Celebrity Love Match? I've got no problem with mine!

More Fun Quizzes at

Thursday, August 9, 2007


A friend brought a couple horses over to our place to help eat down our overgrown pastures. One of his horses was a brooding mare with a young colt. I enjoyed watching as our dog, Sushi, got to know the new addition. Sushi is normally a little shy around the other horses around here but she has never experienced being around a new colt.

Their process of getting to know each other wasn't a whole lot different than that of their two legged masters. Here's a few photos of their budding friendship and a few pointers on making friends. Maybe there someone in your class, office, or neighborhood that you'd like as a friend. Afterall, todays a good day to start that friendship!

1. The quickest way to make a friend is to smile. When you smile, people think you are friendly and easy to talk to. Just remember that people would rather talk to your smiling face or your usual face than an angry or scared looking face.

2. Start a conversation. One easy way to start a conversation with someone is to say something nice about them. For example, you could comment on what a great answer they had to a teacher's question, how good their yard looks, how much you like their car, etc...Think about how great you feel when someone says something nice to you. Doesn't it make you want to keep talking to that person?

3. Ask your new friends questions about themselves. Who's their favorite singer, where do they live, who's their teacher, what do they do after school are all good questions to start a conversation. It's not really nosey to ask questions about people. It's the only way to get to know what they're like. AND, it's the only way they'll know that you are interested in them.

4. Make sure you have something to add to the conversation too. When someone asks you a question, do have an answer for them. Nobody knows you better than you!

5. Shy people often have some trouble with complements. When someone says something nice, us shy folk will often freeze in our tracks and say nothing. This leaves the other person wondering if they said something wrong. The best and easiest reply to a complement is a simple "Thank You".

6. Be a friend. People who show an interest in other People and who are kind and friendly make good friends. Remember, everyone wants to be around people who like to do similar things and people who are nice to them.


We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everyhwere."
---Tim McGraw

"Never forget the days I spent with you. Continue to be my friend, as you will always find me yours."
---Ludwig Van Beethoven

"I believe that friends are quiet angels who sit on our shoulders and lift our wings when we forget how to fly."

"Trouble is a sieve through which we sift our acquaintances. Those too big to pass through are our friends."
---Arlene Francis

"The best part of life is when your family becomes your friends, and your friends become your family."
---Danica Whitfield

"Go through your phone book, call people and ask them to drive you to the airport. The ones who will drive you are your true friends. The rest aren't bad people; they're just acquaintances."
---Jay Leno

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Strange But True - Pencil in brain for 55 years

Normally on Wednesday, I run a Comical-Caption feature. But decided to change it up today with this story that came through the news. I am just always amazed with this type of story. Enjoy it and if you really want a Comical-Caption, just visit my other blog: Comical-Captions.

Pencil in brain for 55 years
By Kristen Allen
Associated Press

BERLIN — A woman who had a pencil lodged in her head for 55 years after a childhood accident has finally had most of it removed, which should end her chronic headaches and nosebleeds, her doctor said Tuesday.Associated PressMargaret Wegner fell when she was 4 years old, and the 3.15-inch pencil she was carrying went into her brain. New technology allowed it to finally be removed.

Margaret Wegner was 4 when she fell while carrying the 3.15-inch pencil, which went through her cheek and into her brain.

"It bored right through the skin and disappeared into my head," Wegner, now 59, told Germany's best-selling newspaper, Bild. "It hurt like crazy."

At the time, the technology did not exist to safely remove the pencil, so Wegner had to live with it — and the ensuing chronic headaches and nosebleeds— for the next 5 1/2 decades.

But on Friday, Dr. Hans Behrbohm, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Berlin's Park-Klinik Weissensee, was able to identify the exact location of the pencil so that he could determine the risks of removing it, and then took most of it out.

The operation was difficult because of the way the pencil had shifted as Wegner grew, Behrbohm told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

"This was something unique because the trauma was so old," said Behrbohm, who has also done brain surgery to remove bullets from shooting victims and glass from people involved in car accidents.

Although a piece of pencil about four-fifths of an inch long could not be removed, Behrbohm said it does not pose a danger.

And now Wegner, the wife of German boxing coach Ulli Wegner, will no longer have the headaches and nosebleeds, and her sense of smell should return soon, Behrbohm said.

"She shouldn't suffer any longer," he said.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Managing Your Inventory

When you sell a physical products of any kind, inventory control becomes the life-blood of your business and one of your biggest costs. eBay has helped many people with no business experiece create a viable business. One of their biggest problems is they just don't understand that inventory sitting on a shelf is costing them money every day.

There are two costs associated with inventory. The first one is your product cost and the second one is your opportunity cost. Product cost is simply what you invested in the merchandise including the cost to ship it to you. Opportunity cost is the money you are not making while your cash is tied up in that inventory. If you bought 200 items for $6.00 each that you hoped to sell for $12 each, your product cost is $1200 and your opportunity cost is $1200 (the money you will make if they sell at $12. Obviously you only incur the opportunity cost if the items don't sell. Once an item sells the opportunity cost on that item goes to zero and basically becomes gross profit.

There are two basic rules to follow if you want to maximize the return on your inventory purchases:

Turn your inventory over as often and as fast as possible (within reason). Let's use our $6.00 item as an example. If you price them to sell at $12 and you sell 10 widgets a week, at the end of 6 weeks you will have sold 60 widgets and made $6.00 on each one for a total of $360. Now let's say you find that by pricing the item lower --at $10 each your sales increase and you sell 20 widgets a week. You are making $2.00 less on each widget, but at the end of the same 6 week period you will have sold widgets for a total gross profit of $480.

Obviously if you reduced the price further you might be able to sell even more, but at some point you will not be making a profit. So the trick is to find that sweet spot where you maximize your return.

If you buy a product that won't sell, keep reducing the price until it will --even if you are losing money on it. What you are trying to do here is get rid of non-performing inventory. When you have inventory that doesn't sell you are tying up cash that could be spent on product that will sell. Remember your opportunity cost. When you are not making money you are actually losing money.

I know it can be painful to cut the price on an item to your cost or even below, but it really is a good business decision to do so. And remember, you also learned something valuable that will help you make money in the future.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Wall Street awaits rate decision from Federal Reserve this week

From The Associated Press
By Madlen Read

NEW YORK — With two weeks of volatility behind it, Wall Street faces the prospect of more turbulence — unless the Federal Reserve comes to the rescue.
Waxing and waning worries about a shrinking availability of credit have sent stocks gyrating, with the Dow Jones industrials swinging by triple digits four straight days last week. On Friday, the Dow plunged more than 280 points after Bear Stearns Cos.' chief financial officer described the current turmoil in the credit market as being the worst he'd seen in 22 years; on other days, news of mortgage lenders' problems or disappointing housing data provided the impetus to sell.The Fed's Open Market Committee's regularly scheduled August meeting on Tuesday might be key in whether the markets can settle down or not. The Fed is widely expected to keep the benchmark rate steady at 5.25 percent, as it has done since last summer, so the focus will as usual be on its economic policy statement.
For months, Fed policy makers have stated they expect the economy to recover, and that curbing costs is their primary concern in light of uncomfortably high inflation. Given the past two weeks on Wall Street, investors are likely to be more interested in whether the central bank addresses credit conditions, and, if it does, what it has to say.
Still, if the Fed gives any hint that it might consider raising rates — an action that would make mortgage and corporate credit more expensive and harder to obtain — the market can expect to see more of the kind of selling that has chopped more than 800 points from the Dow since it closed above 14,000 for the first time on July 19.
That drop, which comes to nearly 6 percent, puts the Dow more than halfway toward the technical threshold of a correction, which is 10 percent. Some analysts argued the stock market was way too high and therefore due for a shaking-out. But the turmoil the market has seen the past few weeks is more than portfolio housecleaning — some investors aren't sure stocks are the place to be if there's less easy money around to fund the buyouts and companies' stock buybacks that had powered the market's rally during the first half of this year.
But even if the market gets a lift from the Fed, there's a good chance it will be short-lived — in its current state of mind, Wall Street is shrugging off good news and choosing to sell off on every mention of words like "credit," "subprime," "mortgage" and "default." Even in calmer times, the market has been able to hold on to soothing remarks from the Fed for only a short period of time — believing, perhaps, that the central bankers are as fickle as Wall Street itself.
Last week, despite Friday's huge loss, the Dow fell just 0.63 percent, while the Standard & Poor's 500 fell 1.77 percent and the Nasdaq composite index lost 1.99 percent.
A few economic reports there is little economic data that will help soothe the market this week. On Tuesday, in addition to the Fed statement, Wall Street will watch for the Labor Department's preliminary reading on second-quarter productivity and labor costs, and the Fed's report on June consumer credit.
Productivity is expected to have increased 2.2 percent from the preceding quarter, and costs are expected to have risen 1.9 percent. Consumer credit is expected to have gained $6.7 billion, compared to May's $12.9 billion jump.
On Thursday, the Commerce Department releases data on June wholesale trade, and on Friday it reports on July import prices.Economists predict that wholesale inventories rose 0.5 percent in June, the same as in May, and that import prices rose 0.7 percent last month, a smaller increase than in June.
Earnings season winds down the bulk of second-quarter earnings have come in, but this week brings results from some key technology companies.On Tuesday, Cisco Systems Inc. is expected to report a profit of 35 cents a share for its fourth quarter. The computer-networking company closed at $29.46, at the top of its 52-week range of $17.10 to $30.39.
Sprint Nextel Corp. on Wednesday is expected to report earnings of 22 cents per share. The wireless provider closed at $19.77, at the midpoint of its 52-week range of $15.92 and $23.42.
Vonage Holdings Corp. releases quarterly results Thursday, when it is expected to report a loss of 34 cents a share for the second quarter. The Internet phone carrier's shares closed at $2.04 on Friday, at the low end of its 52-week range of $1.83 and $9.07.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Inspirational Thinking

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. -Proverbs 31:30

Photo by Patrick Cox

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Veggie Art

Maybe it really is okay to let your children play with their food. They might grow up to be a serious vegetable artist and create memorable masterpieces like these:

Friday, August 3, 2007

Fridays Fabulous Finds

It's time for another issue of Fridays Finds. The one day each week when I share with you some of the many unique places I find on the web. The sites listed could vary in content from funny to educational, or bizzare to just plain enjoyable. Some might be commercial sites selling unusual items and others might be freely sharing whatever they have.
If I have the time I will include a description with the link to give you an idea of what to expect. In most cases you should be able to figure out what to expect by the name of the site although some may surprise you. So, fasten your seatbelts, keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times but please have fun!

1. Games:

2. What american accent do you have?

3. Bubble Wrap (The name speaks for itself)

4. The coolest clock ever:

If you know of a unique site that you would like me to include in an uncoming issue of Friday's Fabulous Finds just shoot me off an email with the name and links.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Personal Journeys

We live in an age when knowledge is right at our fingertips. The Nature and Weather Channels are only a click away from the trash that clogs our entertainment industry. Books are plentiful. Libraries can be found in close proximity to any community in America.

I have grown to love reading the quotes, sayings, and advice given by sage men and women over the years. When we are faced with a complex personal decision or need motivation and encouragement we have the words and wisdom of incredible people near at hand.

The other day I received an email from Denis Waitley filled with powerful advice about "opportunity". Let me share it with you:

Every Decision We Make has an "Opportunity Cost"
by Denis Waitley

Every decision forfeits all other opportunities we had before we made it. We can't be two places at the same time. In their excellent management book, Tradeoffs, Drs. Greiff and Munter discuss the difficult options that face us in all areas of our lives. One case in point illustrates a common opportunity cost. It's a true anecdote they call, "Bicycle vs. Mother":
"John is a precocious eight-year-old boy. Both his parents work. His mother is a management consultant and travels frequently. After being away for several days, she arrived home late one night and hugged her son.
He said, 'Mom, I missed you. Why were you away so long?'
She smiled and replied, 'One of the reasons I was away was to make enough money to buy you the bicycle you wanted.'
Young John looked at her reflectively and stated, 'Mom, I really did want the bicycle. But mothers are more important than bicycles. So please stay home more.'"
Even though we all are aware of the tradeoffs of "quality time vs. quantity time" in our relationships, we are not used to thinking specifically about how our decisions cost us other opportunities. Without this understanding, our decisions will often be unfocused and unrelated to helping us achieve our most important goals.

Baseball's greatest hitter grew up near my neighborhood in San Diego. When Ted Williams slugged for the Boston Red Sox, my father and I kept a record of his daily batting average. And when I played Little League ball, my dad told me not to worry about striking out. In Williams's finest year, dad reminded me, the champion failed at the plate about 60 percent of the time.

Football's greatest quarterbacks complete only six out of ten passes. The best basketball players make only half their shots. Even with satellite mapping and expert geologists, leading oil companies make strikes in only one out of ten wells. Actors and actresses auditioning for roles are turned down twenty-nine in thirty times. And stock market winners make money on only two out of five of their investments.

Since failure is a given in life, success takes more than leadership beliefs and solid behavioral patterns. It also takes an appropriate response to the inevitable, including an effective combination of risk-taking and perseverance. I meet many individuals who are seeking security at all costs, and avoiding risk whenever and wherever possible. Knowing that certain changes would make success much more likely for them, they nevertheless take the path of least resistance: no change. For the temporary, often illusory comfort of staying as they are, they pay the terrible price of a life not truly lived.

Parable of the Cautious Man

There was a very cautious man,
who never laughed or cried.
He never risked, he never lost,
he never won nor tried.
And when he one day passed away,
his insurance was denied,
For since he never really lived,
they claimed he never died.

In other words, missed opportunities are the curse of potential. Just after the Great Depression, Americans, perhaps understandably at the time, took many steps intended to minimize risk. The government guaranteed much of our savings. Citizens bought billions of dollars worth of insurance. We sought lifetime employment and our unions fought for guaranteed annual cost-of-living increases to protect us from inflation. This security-blanket mentality has continued in recent decades as executives awarded themselves giant golden parachutes in case a merger or takeover took their plum jobs.

These measures had many benefits, but the drawbacks have also been heavy, even if less obvious. In our eagerness to avoid risk, we forgot its positive aspects. Many of us continue to overlook the fact that progress comes only when chances are taken. And the security we sought and continue to seek often produces boredom, mediocrity, apathy and reduced opportunity.
We still hear much about security, especially from federal and state politicians. But total security is a myth except, perhaps, for those six feet underground in the cemetery. We may indeed ask our government for guaranteed benefits. But we must be aware that when a structure starts with a floor, walls and ceilings will follow. And herein lies a paradoxical proverb:

You must risk in order to gain security, but you must never seek security.

When security becomes a major goal in life – when fulfillment and joy are reduced to merely holding on, sustaining the status quo – the risk remains heavy. It is then a risk of losing the prospects of real advancement, of not being able to ride the wave of change today and tomorrow. Had the founders of Yahoo, and America Online been concerned with immediate profits and return on investment, we would not be enjoying those Internet services today, each of which has a greater market capitalization than IBM or General Motors.
Seek to be more aware of the "opportunity cost" and risk a little more this week!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Comical Captions

I love Wednesdays. They move us towards the downslope of the week. The weekend looms closer and of course wednesdays are Comical Caption days on the blog. It's a time for some nonsensical comedy. If you haven't tried it before, give it a try today. Submit your caption ideas for the photo at the left. Then come back later to read the captions that others have written