Picture of the Week: Cloud design

When I first moved to Florida I was so amazed by the sunny skies and the big fluffy clouds, that you see every day. They made me feel so happy I began taking pictures of some clouds. This one is the sun shining through a group of clouds. I loved how you could see dark cloud shadows and then parts of the clouds lit up as the sun rays shine through them. This cloud pic inspired me to make an icon for my website.

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I wish grown ups could remember being kids

I just looked down at my coffee mug from fourbucks and noticed it had writing on it. Stuff like “I wish this”, and I “wish that”. Blah blah blah… What caught my eye was the one that said “I wish grown ups could remember being kids.” That got me thinking, mainly because I am a grown up. First off: Holy cow! I am a grown up, and in my 5th decade! Wow. Anyway. I still feel like a kid; a couple aches and pains here and there, but still a child at heart.

What I find most profound is that I have a young child, and well, I found that I have been remembering more and more about my childhood as I watch my son explore and grow in the environment around me. You know, the same way as when you come into a house were someone is cooking lasagna and you smell the spices and cheese on the warm air currents coming from the kitchen, and you start thinking back how your grandmother made lasagna, and then your mind wanders off to little details about that particular day and that meal, years way back, at your grandparents house with the red and white plaid table cloth and sticky naugahyde table chairs. Of course, everyone has some little memory sparked by the smell of food and I think also by watching children play. Having a child of your own also helps you remember things too about your childhood. With the exception of that one really smelly diaper change, watching my son grow up has really been one of the most enjoyable and most memorable experiences in my life.

All grown ups remember when they were kids, we just don’t telegraph it to the world, because if we did people would think us to be crazy. So basically, your wish has come true, coffee cup printer person for fourbucks. If you don’t think so, well, maybe you should have worded your wish better. Maybe “I wish grown ups could remember being kids so when I draw cool patterns with a rock on the side of the new car, they would appreciate the value of my creativity and not ground me for life.” Something like that may do. Eh, wishes are the easy way out, just work hard at communicating with the adults in your life, finding their weaknesses through clever discourse and exploit them to sway judgments toward your desired goals. Alright, that will never happen, not against adults, they know everything. Stick to wishing, the odds are about the same for getting what you want as they are for trying to explain things to them. The coolest thing about a wish, is just saying “I wish” can be somewhat calming to the spirit if for no other reason than to take your mind away from the moment.

I wish I could stop writing about this. Done.

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Why Should the Government Bail Out Car Industry?

We were driving on a very long straight stretch of road, across the very flat land of Illinois, surrounded by lots of corn fields as far as the eye can see, in our family car (Honda Element) when the radio news mentioned the government may help out the ailing automobile industry. This started a conversation. We asked each other to name all the American car companies, and then list what cars they make. Now we are your average family making well below the $250K that the politicians were all talking about in the run up to the election this year. We make a slightly more than the average income for our town of $35K a year. Our car is 4 years old and finally paid off, and we have a second car that is eight years old and paid off as well. We think of ourselves as an average family, and fairly in tune with popular culture. So back to the question. What American car and American car makers exist? We made a rule that we had to answer the question in one mile driving at 70mph. We then asked the question again about foreign cars. The results are in the tables below. We checked the car prices when we got home on Edmunds.com.

American car makers we could remember, and the cars we thought they made:

1 Ford F150/Mustang $21K/$20K
2 Chrysler 300/Town&Country $25k/$25k
3 Chevy Camero –not in production until 2010 $22k
4 Dodge ? trucks ?
5 Hummer H2/H3 $62k/$33k
6 Jeep Wrangler $20k

Foreign cars we could remember:

1 Toyota Prius $22k
2 Honda Civic $15k
3 Saab 93 $30k
4 Volvo S40 $28k
5 Subaru Outback $22k
6 Landrover Range Rover $77k
7 Mercedes E Class $51k
8 Jaguar ? ?
9 Scion Xb $15k
10 VW New Beetle $17k

Cars we know we could never afford, but know the makers name anyway:

1 Lexus ? ?
2 Acura Integra ?not sold any more ?
3 Lamborghini ? Canon ball run ?
4 Ferrari ? Magnum PI ?
5 Porsche Boxster $45k
6 Bugatti ? ?

When we checked Edmunds.com later we found that we missed quite a few car makers. There are 48 makes being sold in the United States, 13 are US brands. We added the prices for the base car, if we knew its name. Sorry Dodge, we could not think of any vehicle made by you. The names of cars we wrote down were the first ones that came to our head, that is why Camaro beat out Corvette for Chevy. The makes in the tables are in the order that we remembered first, so Ford is still number one in our memory as a car company, Jeep is last. Sorry Buick, Cadilac, GMC, Lincon, Pontiac, and Saturn, we forgot you even existed, until we got home and looked you up on the Internet. Actually, not true about Cadilac, we remembered their cars can “turn you on”,  we don’t know which ones, but apparently that is what they do. As for foreign cars, we knew Jaguar made something, we just had no idea what kind anymore. While thinking about Jaguar, we remembered Dodge made the Neon, which I don’t think they sell any more, and then the Viper came to mind, which is insanely expensive; we still don’t know what Jaguar makes as of this writing. The last table is the exotic cars list, you know, the ones you dream of owning. We remembered Bugatti as one company, because of a U-tube video. We were pretty clueless about what the other companies produce these days except for the Porsche and it’s Boxster which beat out the 911, because one passed us on the highway while we were making our list.

Now for economics, if you own a house you should not have a payment on your house that is more than what one person in your family makes in a week. That is our philosophy and we stick to it. So if you don’t buy a car outright, then you should still have 10% down and the monthly payment should be one quarter of what you pay for your house. If you do it like that, and you make $50k a year, or about $800 a week, then a car payment should not be more than $200 a month. Based on the lists above, none of the new cars we listed are affordable to someone who makes 50K a year, since a $15K car cost $296 a month at 7.23% interest and 10% down for 60 months. Even with 20% down the car is too expensive. I think the car companies in America made the same mistake as the banks and pushed the limits too far above what people can really afford and relied on badly made car loans to help make a profit. If we are going to use tax payer money to bail out auto companies then, at least, bail out the ones that we can remember. Sorry Cadilac, you may turn us on, but then the endorphins kick in, and we forget who you are.

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We Don't Like Property Virgins on HG TV

There  is this show on HG TV called Property Virgins, and we hate it. How unrealistic can you get? How can a couple have money for a $600K home and be a virgin home owner? Sometimes HG TV just annoys us. We worked hard for 8 years to save up before we could afford 10% down on a $100k house. As property virgins, we would have fired the realtor on the HG TV show, like we fired 7 realtors before buying our first house. Our first home ended up being a for sale by owner house and we hired a real-estate attorney to help seal a deal, no realtors involved at all. It was actually more fun to buy the house in coordination with the owners of the property with no middle man to complicate things and create rifts and stress. When we worked with the realtors, and made offers on houses, the realtors would come back and say we were “low balling” the properties, and the offers were rejected. Well we watched those properties that we supposedly “low balled” and they all sold for lower than what we had offered for them, many, many, months later. That means many mortgage payments later for some poor seller who most likely was lead to believe their property was worth X-dollars by some cheese weasel realtor.

One of our realtors stopped showing us homes when we said we had no interest in joining his church. We wanted a house not a new religion is what we told him.

Our words of wisdom to property virgins… Don’t buy if the mortgage plus taxes is more than one weeks salary. So to own a $599K house, one person, or two people need to make at least $3k a week if you have 20% down (That is about $110K) and 6% interest loan. Ouch.

Our father in law told us that one week rule. Who would of thought an in-law would have decent words of wisdom. Grr HG TV grr…


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Ethics in Science

Here is a link to a great reference on ethical behavior in scientific research

Office of Research Integrity. They have a PDF which can be used to help teach research ethics with example questions for discussion, referenced resources for further reading and case studies placed throughout the PDF. Here is an example of one of the case studies emphasizing the grey areas of human research:

Case Study (rcrintro.pdf page 35)
Two weeks into the new semester, the professor in Mary’s course on family health gives the class a special assignment that was not on the course syllabus. Over the next week, everyone in the class is to talk with three classmates who are not in the course about the way their families deal with medical emergencies and chronic illness. Next week they should come to class prepared to report on their interviews. The Professor warns them, however, that in talking about their conversations they should not mention any names to protect the privacy of their classmates.

The assignment makes Mary uneasy. In her basic psychology course last semester she learned about some of the rules pertaining to the use of human subjects in research. However, when she raises her concerns with her professor, he assures her that her informal conversations with classmates are not research and therefore not subject to regulation. Moreover, since she will not be mentioning any names, there are no privacy issues to worry about.

  • Should Mary be content with these assurances and conduct the interviews?
  • If she still has concerns, where should she turn for advice?
  • Did the professor act properly in giving this assignment to the class?
  • This case study goes into the Nuremberg Code.

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    Tuesday Morning Mystery Shoes

    Walking down the stars in the parking garage near where I work this morning, I came upon a lonely pair of shoes on the stair landing between floors. Odd I thought. Could it be that someone walked half way up the stairs took off their shoes and traveled on? Or could something more insidious have happened, perhaps a ray gun evaporated him leaving nothing but his shoes as evidence of his existence. Maybe he was not gone at all, just invisible. It was cold this morning so possibly being naked and invisible he decided to risk being seen by putting on shoes so his feet would not get cold. I took the picture, but I did not wave my hand over the shoes, so he could have been there, standing still waiting for me to pass. Maybe someone scared him and he literally jumped out of his shoes. It could happen. I did look around, but saw no one hiding or running without proper foot gear. I once had a philosophy professor threaten to stop thinking about us, which would in turn, make us cease to exist, could these shoes belong to a student of a mad philosophy professor?

    Eh, they were just shoes.

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    9 Words Woman Use

    A relative sent me this via email: I don’t know the original author but hey… Since it seems to be yearly review time for this and that at work, I though it was time to pass out the yearly review of what 9 words women use for the guys at home.

    1. Fine: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.
    2. Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.
    3. Nothing: This is the calm before the storm.  This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.
    4. Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don’t Do It!
    5. Loud Sigh: This is actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing.   (Refer back to # 3 for the meaning of nothing.)
    6. That’s Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That’s okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.
    7. Thanks: A woman is thanking you, do not question, or Faint. Just say you’re welcome. (I want to add in a clause here – This is true, unless she says “Thanks a lot” – that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all.    DO NOT say “you’re welcome” … that will bring on a “whatever”).
    8. Whatever: Is a women’s way of saying F*CK YOU!
    9. Don’t worry about it, I got it: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking “What’s wrong?” For the woman’s response refer to # 3.

    * Send this to the men you know, to warn them about arguments they can avoid if they remember the terminology.* Send this to all the women you know to give them a good laugh, cause they know it’s true ………….

    I can not remember who sent this but I think it was my Aunt.

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