"God Bless the Dream, the Dreamer and the Result." 

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mr. T to Unemployed: 'Man Up!'

Feeling the recession depression? Not sure how you’re going to make ends meet? Mr T has some advice for you: “Man up,” the Mirror reports. The professional tough guy, who said he was in London to show Brits how to be a man, added, “If you get knocked down, setbacks in life, like applying for a job if they don't hire you, keep trying, keep getting up, keep doing it.”

Mr T, the 56-year-old star of the 80s television series The A-Team, said he wanted to show British men—especially those who play "wimpy soccer"—that they should not be "crying like a baby."

Recession Drives Workers to Trucking

Hard times have reversed the trucking industry's trouble finding recruits, the Wall Street Journal reports. Applications have surged as workers who once shunned the industry's demanding conditions can no longer afford to be choosy. At the same time the number of trucks on the road has dropped. Firms that once engaged in cut-throat competition to lure drivers now have a backlog of applications. "I've never seen it like this in 24 years," said one company owner.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Online Gambling Revenue Showing a Uprising Increase During Bad Economic Times

With the worldwide recession happening, you would think that no city or business on earth is immune from its effects on us all.

Big Companies like AIG, popular restaurants, and even the Gambling entertainment hotspots like Atlantic City, Las Vegas and even Monaco have felt the sting of this massive economic downtown. No matter where your business is, you are struggling to make ends meet unless you have an online casino business. When online gambling first came about in the late 1990s it exploded on the scene with revenue charts in which the arrows were almost vertical.

Everybody was either gambling or opening up an online gambling site themselves. When the recession started to hit ,many people in the online gambling industry were fearful that it would hit online casinos hard because of the fact that gambling isn't essential to living like food or homes were, but the projections coming in for 2008 has started to show a different story. What it has shown is that online gambling i is much more resilient then people previously thought it was.

A new study of online gambling revenue and expansion proves this to be true. This Study, which was done by well known gambling adviser Marco Felice Baranzelli shows that while land based gambling operations are forecasting an expansion rate of 2.2% yearly from 2007 to 2012, online casinos are showing an expansion rate of over 10% with online poker leading the way as it is showing a 16% year over year expansion rate followed by the online casino industry showing a 15% year over year increase while sports betting is lagging behind with a modest but still strong 11% increase.

So as you can see, while the whole world is being hit by this financial downturn, online gambling has shown its resiliency. All of this points to the fact that we should start seriously thinking about making online gambling legal in the United States in a way that the government can oversee and tax the revenues of online gaming establishments and the profits that players make, and use that money in a constructive way to help pay for the bailout that President Obama is proposing.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Long Work Hours Weaken Mental Skills

Working long hours may weaken mental skills, the BBC reports. Researchers administered a series of reasoning and memory tests to 2,214 British civil servants and found that those working more than 55 hours a week did significantly worse than those who worked around 40. The effect was cumulative, meaning the more hours over 55 employees worked, the worse their scores.

The researchers note that workers with long schedules reported sleeping less, drinking more alcohol and had symptoms of depression more often—all of which can adversely affect mental functioning. The effects of long working hours must be investigated further, one researcher said: “It is particularly important to examine whether the effects are long-lasting and whether long working hours predict more serious conditions such as dementia.”

How to Avoid Spending All Your Money at the Casino

Casinos are a great place to go to enjoy the games and food and even spend the night in their suites or rooms. Many people make the casino the center point of their vacation and spend much of their time doing casino-related activities. Fortunately, many people who decide to take a casino vacation are disciplined and determine ahead of time how much money they plan to spend gambling and stick to that plan.

However, some people cannot resist the temptation to continue playing a game when it seems like they're just shy of winning and while there are organizations who can help you if you have an addiction to gambling, people who are at the tables or slots continuing to bet aren't thinking about getting in touch with those organizations right then. The only thought that crosses their mind is about winning and winning big.

There are many different games you can play at the casino but the one thing that all games have in common is that they require you to spend money. The sights and sounds that are in casinos are designed to make you want to spend your money in the hopes that you will hit the jackpot.

It is important to bear in mind that the intention of the casino is not to send you home as a millionaire but to encourage you to spend money there. If you have trouble with controlling how much you spend, you want to be sure to take a limited amount of money with you when you go to the casino.

Some other ways that you can avoid leaving the casino broke may not seem like much but can make a big difference when it comes to your money. Make sure you leave your credit cards at home and bring only one credit card on your trip. If possible, bring a credit card with a low limit so that even if you cannot resist the temptation to use it, you can only charge up to the limit of the card.

Another way to avoid leaving the casino broke is to cash out your winnings while you are still ahead. This means, when you've won a few hands and are either going to break even or can leave the casino with even just a few dollars more than you arrived with, you should cash out your earnings and either take them to the safe in your room or consider depositing them to your bank account through the ATM.

A third way to avoid leaving the casino broke is to go a short time before the casino closes. Even casinos that are open most of the time have to close for cleaning and other maintenance requirements. Going to the casino just a short while before such closings ensure that you will only be there a short time, thus reducing the possibility of leaving broke.

If none of these ideas works for you and you are spending more than you can afford to lose, such as money set aside for bills, you should seek professional help.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Paging Dr. Nurse: New Degree Sparks Turf War

A doctoral degree for nurses has sparked a backlash from physicians, who say referring to nurses by the title "doctor" could be confusing to patients, NPR reports. “I can just imagine a patient walking into my exam room and saying, ‘Now, Dr. Smith, are you a doctor doctor, or are you a doctor nurse?'” says one physician. But some nurses say they deserve the title after completing the 6-year program.

“I practice at an advanced level, and I have earned the right to be called doctor,” said one. The disagreement over the title is more rooted in “ego” than concern for confused patients, says a dean at one of the more than 200 schools that offer a doctorate in nursing. “With all these new people—physician assistants, nurse practitioners—coming into the field, maybe our training won't lead to a secure position in the future,” notes a medical student.

Seniors Scrambling for Work

The recession is hitting elderly workers much harder than in the past, thanks to an increase in the number of older workers—especially those over 75—and a severe shortage of jobs, the Wall Street Journal reports. In past recessions, these workers just retired; now, they're scrambling to find a way to pay their medical bills and mortgages. "Who is going to hire an 81-year-old man?" asked one unemployed bartender.

The unemployment rate for workers 65 and older stands at 5.7%, below the national average but much higher than the 1981 recession's rate of 4.3%. There is a lone federal program designed to help, but it promises only 20 hours of work a week at minimum wage and is funded to address just 1% of eligible workers.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

6 Books Top Odd Title List

Every year since 1978, Britain's Bookseller magazine has awarded the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, the Telegraph reports. The mag's six-title shortlist just came out:

Baboon Metaphysics
Curbside Consultation of the Colon
The Large Sieve and its Applications
Strip and Knit with Style
Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring
The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais
Unfortunately, Monumental Beginnings: Archaeology of the N4 Sligo Inner Relief Road and Sketches of Hull Authors, published before 2008, just missed the cut-off date.

Cash-Poor? Hit the Blood Bank—and Get Career Advice

Blood and inner organs are hot sellers these days as donors line up to pocket quick cash in a plunging economy, ABC News reports. Seeing an increase in traffic, blood banks are campaigning to boost it higher, even offering resumé and job interview advice to donors. “It was definitely like: Give blood, get your resumé critiqued,” one California donor said. “Yeah, I can make that drive. That works for me.”

Hair and sperm donations are also rising, as are ovary donations, which can pay more than $10,000. "When the economy or unemployment rate starts slipping, we start receiving way more calls," a Chicago fertility clinic president said. "The calls and Internet inquiries right now are astronomical." But highly specific criteria for donors forces the clinic to turn away 98% of callers.

Prepaid Cell Phones Are New Frugal Chic

More customers are turning to Tony Soprano-style, pay-as-you-go cell phones, and not just to avoid wiretaps. As the recession forces consumers to cut costs, all-inclusive prepaid plans are the new frugal option, reports the New York Times. "In today’s economy, it’s not cool to pay $120 a month for a phone. It’s a waste of money," said one purchaser.

Contracts typically run in two varieties: pay-as-you-go phone cards and prepaid, flat-rate contracts. While cell phone carriers tend to prefer long-term contracts, they are increasingly turning to prepaid phones as a growth area in the saturated wireless market. Even without discounts on the actual phones, the savings are considerable. "Every dollar I save goes toward something else," said one user, who estimated he saves $40 a month.

Website Lets You Into Harvard—Free

No notes, no homework, and you can wear your PJs the entire time you "sit in" on Harvard classes—online. Academic Earth's online classes are "unexpectedly irresistible," Farhad Manjoo writes for Slate. "It's like Hulu, but for nerds." The company's collection of videotaped lectures from schools like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford is a "geeky procrastinator's dream." Participants can search classes by subject and even get access to course handouts and transcripts.

The video quality is generally good, but sometimes it's hard to hear student questions, Manjoo writes. Another downside: There are tons of science and economic courses, but not a lot of humanities offerings. "Academic Earth is more of a pastime than a replacement for college," he writes, but you can't beat listening to "the world's experts talking about stuff they're passionate about."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rare act of sportsmanship

Johntel Franklin scored 10 points in the game following the loss of his mother.

A high school team purposely misses free throws as a show of support for an opposing player.

» Full Story on highschool.rivals.com

Did Google Ocean Find Atlantis?

A mysterious grid of lines spotted by a British aeronautical engineer using Google Ocean may be the fabled lost city of Atlantis, experts tell the Telegraph. The rectangular region—roughly the size of Wales—is located near the Canary Islands in a region believed to be a likely spot for Atlantis, which was described by Plato as a land of untold wealth and beauty.

"The site is one of the most prominent places for the proposed location of Atlantis," said an Atlantis researcher. "It definitely deserves a closer look." The Telegraph's tabloid rival the Daily Mail, however, said the lines were nothing more than strips of sea floor that have been mapped by oceanographers.

At London Restaurant, You Set the Price

A London restaurant is letting customers pay what they think their meal was worth, and diners are packing the place, the Times of London reports. In the face of tough times, Little Bay owner Peter Ilic decided to run an experiment, writes Vincent Graff: “Will British reserve, and the fear that we will shame ourselves by paying too little and appearing parsimonious, outweigh self-interest?”

“People are paying a little less than the regular prices at the moment,” says Ilic, noting visits from students. “But it's early days. They can only come once and pay a little—next time, they may be ashamed.” On average, he gets about $22 per person, he says, compared to $26-$29 before the experiment. But he’s seen customers pay as little as a few cents (for tap water) and as much as $50 per person, about two-and-a-half times what their two courses were worth.

Sister Souljah with her new FaithWalk Clothing Tee

She told my mother Renae, "Raise Strength in your sons, no more raising victims."

Sister Souljah's New Book

“Midnight, A Gangster Love Story,” is the title of Sister Souljah’s new novel. It is a PREQUEL to “The Coldest Winter Ever.” It is a teenaged love story, and a close up on Midnight, the mysterious and strong character from “ The Coldest Winter Ever.” It is a powerful tale of a foreigner arriving in Brooklyn at a young age and fighting, thinking, working, his way to new riches and new love.

Today, Souljah is a 21st Century multidimensional woman. From 1995-2007 she was the Executive Director of Daddy's House Social Programs, the charitable wing of Bad Boy Entertainment. She is the author of 3 national best sellers, The Coldest Winter Ever (Fiction), No Disrespect (Non-Fiction), and Midnight, A Gangster Love Story (Fiction).In 2008 within one week of the release of Midnight, A Gangster Love Story, Sister Souljah became a New York Times Best Seller entering the charts at #7

User-Generated College Review Site Gets It Right

A new online college guide “built for the age of YouTube and Facebook” employs user-generated content to give applicants a student's-eye-view of hundreds of schools, and Walter S. Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal likes what he sees. Unigo.com is free and ad-supported; professional editors help present reviews, videos, and photos largely submitted by students.

The coverage is a bit uneven—reviews of tiny Vassar far outnumber those for the enormous University of Kansas—and many schools are not yet included. But the site, which posts both positive and negative reviews, has “struck a good balance between the immediacy and candor of student submissions, and the professionalism needed to weed out wildly biased or inaccurate claims.”

Dentists Feel No Pain in Recession

Clenched jaws abound during this recession, and a combination of stress-related damage and layoff victims rushing to be treated before they lose their insurance is helping keep dentistry afloat as the economy dives. Dentist's offices last year reported the highest profit margins of any industry, including top moneymakers like accounting and legal services, Time reports.

Uninsured patients who put off routine maintenance usually give dentists more revenue eventually. "It's human nature to say, 'If it doesn't hurt, I don't have a problem.' Then all of a sudden you need a root canal," says a New York dentist. For many insured patients, the clock is ticking. Says the dentist: "People know that if they're going to lose their job, they damn well better use their dental insurance."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Autoworkers, Bankers Have a Lot in Common

They may not seem all that similar, but Detroit’s autoworkers and Wall Street’s bankers have the same story, writes Steven Pearlstein in the Washington Post. From the 1950s up until, say, yesterday, "autoworkers were the aristocrats of the blue-collar world, (and) Wall Street traders and investment bankers were the aristocrats of the white-collar world." Each earned pay well above everyone else at their education level, and came to view that as a right.

To maintain that high pay, Detroit peddled inferior cars, while Wall Street took advantage of its customers, and eventually, both brought themselves to the point of total collapse. “What did in Citigroup was the same thing that did in General Motors—an arrogant and insular business culture that failed to put the customer first, failed to rein in employee pay, an failed to make the difficult decisions.”

NYC Wants to Turn Laid-Off Bankers Into Entrepreneurs

With the Wall Street mess taking a heavy toll on New York City's economy, Mayor Bloomberg is launching a program to retrain laid-off investment bankers and make the city a mecca for entrepreneurs and foreign financial firms. The city plans to spend $45 million in federal and city money to seed new businesses—ideally created by those very same laid-off bankers and traders—and provide office space for them, the New York Times reports.

Bloomberg said the city isn't waiting until the financial sector rebounds to act. “When it does, cities around the world will compete to capture the jobs it brings,” he said. “In New York City, we’re not waiting for that day to come. Instead, we are taking aggressive steps to put the city in the best position to capture growth, and we’re doing it by promoting one thing more than any other: innovation.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Clean Up Your Credit - Three Easy Things You Can Do Now

It's important to clean up your credit before you try to make large purchases. You need to have a good credit score if you want to get the best rates on home loans, car loans, and credit cards. If you've let your credit score slide, now is the time to clean up your credit.

You may be feeling overwhelmed by the thought of trying to improve your credit score. This is normal. Most people think that it has to be some long drawn-out process. But this doesn't have to be the case.
There are three simple things that you can do today to clean up your credit:

1.Order your credit score. This is a must. You need to know what you are working with if you want to improve it. A lot of people have a fear of their credit score. Particularly if it's "bad". So they ignore it and hope that it will get better on its own. This is a big mistake. You need to find out what's on your score and what specifically is causing it to be low. If you don't know this information, you won't be able to fix it.

2.Fix any mistakes. Yes, mistakes do happen. And mistakes on your credit report are very costly. Once you've ordered your report, check it over to see if you can find any mistakes. If you do, it's important that you call the company to resolve the issue. Often, by simply removing these mistakes, you can drastically improve your credit score.

3.Pay your bills on time. Your credit report shows people how often you pay bills on time and how often you are late or delinquent. Late payments show that you are a risky borrower. However, if they can see that you always pay bills on time, you become less of a risk. If you don't already pay bills on time, it's time to get started.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What Your Office Appearance Says About You

It’s no secret that a clean and tidy office carries a certain level or sophistication and professionalism along with it. People who are well organized have a much better chance of climbing the corporate ladder. By keeping your workspace clean, you give the impression that you are efficient and detail oriented, two characteristics all employers look for in a worker. But did you know that having a not so tidy office space can sometimes have a negative effect on your career?

The state of your office or workspace can speak volumes about you as a worker. Having a cluttered work area tells your employer that you are disorganized, lazy, and worst of all apathetic about your job performance. Keep your desk neat and orderly to help give the appearance of organization and a streamlined work style. This will not only help your reputation, but having a clean work area will also help cut down on stress which is usually brought on from being disorganized.

Aside from a messy desk, there are several other small idiosyncrasies that can have a devastating effect on how people view you in the work place. The way you sit for instance, says a lot about you as a worker. Slouching in your office chair gives the appearance that you are bored or not engaged in you work. Not only that, but it’s also really bad for your back. The more comfortable you are, the more productive you will be. Sit up straight to help save your back and your office reputation.

Whether your office employs an inclusive office setting or hosts individual offices, it is important that you keep the area clean. If you work in an inclusive office where everyone shares the workspace, do your part to keep the area sanitary and inform your co-workers to do the same. A few messy members of a group can drag the whole team down. Even if you keep your own desk clean, it is important that everyone in your group performs well. As the old saying goes, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”.

If you have your own office, then you only have yourself to work about. Keep your office clean to help make you appear more professional. Your employer will expect you to keep your corner of the office clean, so that you can be always running at maximum capacity. They don’t want to envision you frantically looking for reports through a sea of unfiled paperwork and refuse. You want a streamlined work space to help maintain a positive appearance in the workplace.

Even if you’re not the most productive worker in the office, once you clean up your area, you’ll begin to notice that you are getting more work done on a daily basis. Having everything in its proper place makes your day to day office work that much easier. If you’re productive and efficient, then it will only be a matter of time before you’re given that big promotion you’ve been waiting for.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Women's Workforce Equality Comes at a Price

At long last, women hold more than 49% of American jobs in this country, and 50% is in reach. But hold the confetti, writes Ellen Goodman of the Boston Globe. It's happening "because men are losing their jobs even faster than women." Last year, men took home eight of every 10 pink slips, jacking their unemployment rate to 7.6%, compared to 6.2% for women.

"This dubious equality is in large part an ongoing tale of two economies,” Goodman observes: Women make the recession-resistant healthcare and education sectors run—at 78 cents on the dollar compared to men, who dominate in construction and manufacturing. Research shows the female halves of two-earner couples still do much of the housework. Now, Goodman writes, "marriages are also facing an infrastructure change."

Guess Who's Taking On the Apple Store?

Microsoft has hired a former Wal-Mart exec to help the company open a chain of retail stores—a new strategy in its battle with Apple. The move is the latest sign of upheaval at Redmond, reports the Financial Times, and represents a change in approach. "To open their own stores is a big about-face," said one analyst, who thought Microsoft would "definitely incur some ill will" from retailers that stock its products.

Microsoft said the new stores would showcase Windows 7, the new operating system that will succeed the widely reviled Vista, as well as mobile software and the Xbox 360 gaming console. But there's no guarantee the stores would help revitalize Microsoft's unfashionable image. "They may end up being more like Sony stores," said an industry watcher, "which promote the products but sell very little." No word yet on when or where they will open.

'Obama Effect' Gives Black Models a Boost

The figurative—and sometimes real—"Whites Only" signs in the fashion world are starting to come down in the wake of Barack Obama's election win, male models tell the New York Times. Fashion shows in the US and Europe are starting to more closely resemble the real world's diversity, the models say, and scouts are beginning to pay a lot more attention to African-Americans.

"It’s totally about Obama,” said an African-American model from Dallas, who remembers his agent telling him "If Obama does become president, there’s going to be a lot more work for you guys." In New York, where the fashion industry employs an estimated 175,000 people, many hope the new trend will see a surge in homegrown talent on the catwalks.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

'Gorgeous' Vaio P Frustrates

Sony’s new netbook, the Vaio P, is about the size of "one of those plastic folders waiters use to bring you the check at a restaurant," but the pricey gadget is "very slow and has poor battery life," writes Wall Street Journal tech maven Walter Mossberg. It draws envious glances from passers-by, but they're no compensation for its tortoise-slow processor, dreadful battery life, and memory-hogging Vista Home Premium OS.

The Vaio P is sleek and has a great keyboard and a clear, albeit small, screen. The two gigs of memory are adequate, and the built-in 3G modem and Wi-Fi help Sony make the case that it's a competitor not just for laptops but for smartphones as well. "Unfortunately, once you actually start using it, that promise is dashed by its awful performance," Mossberg writes.

Starbucks Will Sell Instant Coffee

Baristas may turn up their noses, but Starbucks is going to start selling instant coffee, reports Advertising Age. Starbucks Via will be available in some cafes next month. The move comes on the heels of value meals and store closings by Starbucks as it adapts to tough times. Via will sell for $2.95 for 3 packets—customers will stir it in themselves, and the company's marketing push will insist it tastes as good as the brewed stuff.

"This product has enormous value," said Starbucks exec Howard Schultz, who has long been a backer of the concept. Instant coffee is a huge seller overseas, notes the Wall Street Journal, and Starbucks can no longer afford to ignore the market. In the UK, the instant version accounts for 81% of coffee sales

Scientists Decode Neanderthal Genome

Scientists using ancient fossils have pieced together a rough draft of Neanderthals' genetic code, the Times of London reports. The development could eventually shed light on how they thought, spoke, and functioned, and why they disappeared. Because Neanderthals are humans' closest relatives, scientists may be able to get a better sense of just what enabled homo sapiens to dominate the world. No family reunions, though: There's nowhere near enough DNA to consider cloning.

“Studying the Neanderthals and studying the Neanderthal genome will tell us what makes modern humans really human, why we are alone, why we have these amazing capabilities,” said a co-leader of the project.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Crisis Paradox: How to Spend When You Need to Save

While leaders encourage Americans to stimulate the economy by spending, those who have lost jobs or investments are a lot more inclined to hoard their remaining assets. But there's a way to avoid this "paradox of thrift," in which the frugal behavior that's best for an individual ends up hurting the economy at large. In the New York Times, David Leonhardt explains:

To serve both ends, the best course of action is the type of spending that ensures long-term savings, like insulating your home against heat loss. Joining Costco can pay off within a few months, and inflating your tires and changing your car's fuel filter could boost your gas mileage. But saving can help a different sector of the economy, Leonhardt writes—"when banks need capital as much as retailers or restaurants need business, people can save without guilt."

Recession Adds Drama to Paying for Lunch

Power lunches once ended with diners diving for the bill, corporate cards held high. These days, the checks tend to sit there uncomfortably, everyone hoping the other guy will pay, writes Laura Holson in the New York Times. The recession has turned picking the tab into a virtual earnings report. “People are really afraid to spend money,” said one literary agent. “Anything that smacks of too much fun or self-indulgence is frowned upon.”

The lunches themselves are going lower rent, too. The aforementioned agent, accustomed to dining at prestigious restaurants, was recently invited to lunch at McDonald's. In other cases, the power cup of coffee has become a low-cost alternative to the power lunch. “I feel lucky,” said one marketing consultant. “I can afford to take people to lunch, and that makes me lucky.”

New Robotic Arm Takes Cues From Brain

Artificial limbs have come a long way from the wooden legs and plastic arms of old: Today's prosthetics take messages directly from the brain. Their performance far exceeds that of the previous generation of devices, which required concentrated effort to make ungainly motions. "You think, and then your muscles move," a woman who has one of the newer artificial arms tells the New York Times.

The new arms are complicated and expensive, and implementation requires preserving nerves from the amputated limb. Those nerves are then attached to chest muscles, where tiny electrodes watch for the body's natural nerve signals and radio them to the arm. With the new technology, amputees can manipulate small objects like balls and shoelaces without having to concentrate more than any other person.

Smith Is Hollywood's Moneymaking MVP

The Oscars indicate who Hollywood thinks deserves a statue, but if you want to know what insiders really think about stars, start talking money. Forbes did just that, asking industry vets to rank talent based on their ability to make a project pop, from early hype to DVD sales. Here are the top 5.

Will Smith: His perfect 10 rating comes from a demonstrated ability to draw crowds. His films have made more than $5.2 billion worldwide, and seven of his flicks opened consecutively at No. 1 in the 2000s.
In a four-way tie for second, all with a ranking of 9.89:

Johnny Depp: The "indie actor as box office star" owes his spot to the savvy decision to play Jack Sparrow in the Pirates movies, without sacrificing his underground cred.
Leonardo DiCaprio: He's not as busy as the others, but the Titanic star can boost a movie on his name alone.
Brad Pitt: Relative flops like Troy and Babel reaped great rewards overseas. And then there's that Oscar nod.
Angelina Jolie: The top-ranked woman on the list can crank out popcorn flicks like Wanted and Oscar-nominated performances like her star turn in Changeling. And who doesn't know her name?

Koala Rescued After Aussie Wildfire

When firefighter David Tree noticed the koala, it was moving gingerly over the blackened landscape, its scorched paws clearly causing pain. "I could see she had sore feet and was in trouble, so I pulled over the fire truck," Tree told the Herald Sun. “It was amazing,” said the firefighter. “He turned around, sat on his bum and sort of looked at me like, 'Put me out of my misery.'" Tree got a bottle of water, and as he tipped it to the koala's lips, the koala “just took it naturally…almost like a baby.”

“I love nature,” Tree said. “I’ve handled koalas before. They’re not the friendliest things, but I wanted to help him.” The koala, whom Tree nicknamed “Sam,” is doing fine, wildlife officials say, though it turns out he’s really a she. Countless animals were killed in the deadly wildfires, which hit farming and forest regions to the north and east of Melbourne.

Don't Expect Diamonds on V-Day

This may not be the year you get that Tiffany necklace: Americans plan to cut back on lavish displays of love this Valentine's Day, MSBNC reports. One survey predicts that holiday spending will drop 15%, from, says another survey, about $123 to $103 per person. The plunge comes after nearly a decade of growth.

To save cash, some will forgo pricey meals or split dessert; others will opt for cards instead of flowers—or send roses on Feb. 12 at a lower price. Said one former Romeo: “We’re able to make it day-to-day, but it’s not like it used to be. Valentine’s Day is a joke because it’s a luxury.”

When These Companies Recover, We Recover

The companies best-positioned to weather the recession are market-share leaders or those that sell everyday necessities, writes Douglas A. McIntyre in Newsweek. But the economic bellwethers that will herald the recovery are more likely No. 2 or No. 3 in their industries, like Target, whose quarterly numbers should indicate when consumers are ready to buy retail again. A few more to watch:

Starbucks: When the bastion of middle-income beverage shows improvement, modest discretionary spending is rebounding.
Staples: An improvement in sales at this office supply chain means small businesses—the most difficult to gauge—are gearing up.
CBS: When marketers ratchet up ad dollar spending, it indicates corporations see better days ahead.
E*Trade: A rising asset-per-customer number means individual investors are ready to wade back into stocks, a good sign for everyone.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Kindle 2 Is a Whole New Book

The Kindle 2 e-reader unveiled by Amazon today is great if you love computers, Tom Leonard writes in the Telegraph. "Wafer-thin," it's more "fragile bird" than book and boasts a tiny keyboard perfect for the i-Pod/Blackberry crowd. But the clear, no-glare screen and grayscale display are easy on the eyes. “For those who won't miss the feel, the weight and—of course—the smell of a book,” Leonard writes, “Kindle may do the trick.”

John Timmer is pleased despite some reservations, he writes on Ars Technica. He complained about the first Kindle’s display, saying E-Ink technology wasn't up to snuff—but the hardware company came through, making Kindle 2 "a far better device as a result." The sequel is faster, more responsive, and thinner. The keyboard left Timmer “completely lost,” but makes him “anxious to see what's in store for Kindle 3.”

'Crazy Green Idea' Video Wins Students $25K

Two California film students won $25,000 for a YouTube video challenging the tech community to develop a rechargeable device far more eco-friendly than standard batteries, BusinessGreen reports. The clip was one of 133 entries in a contest to create a challenge to be met for a future environmental prize. The clip calls for a gadget that could power an electric vehicle for 100 miles.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

9-Year-Old Writes Popular iPhone App

A 9-year-old Singapore boy has created a drawing application for the iPhone that is popular around the world, the Electric New Paper reports. Lim Ding Wen reworked one of his existing 20 programs for the touchscreen gadget. “I wrote the program for my younger sisters, who like to draw,” he said of the app, downloaded more than 4,000 times. “But I am happy that people like it.”

Lim was taught to program by his father, who works in technology and has a similar app competing on iTunes. “Every evening, we check the statistics e-mailed to us to see who has more downloads,” Dad said. The younger Lim said he completed the project in “a few days” and has started to write a sci-fi game, tentatively titled Invader Wars.

US Woman First to Swim Atlantic

A 56-year-old American became the first woman to swim across the Atlantic, completing a 24-day journey from Africa's Cape Verde Islands to Trinidad, reports the BBC. Jennifer Figge of Colorado swam up to eight hours at a stretch, protected by a cage to fend off sharks. She swam approximately 2100 miles, though the exact distance has yet to be measured. Figge plans to continue on to the British Virgin Islands, which was her first goal until she was blown off course.

A support boat ran alongside her, with staffers throwing energy drinks to the swimmer. In choppy waters, divers handed them to her directly. She burned 8000 calories each day, and started the mornings with pasta breakfasts. Figge, who first dreamed of swimming the ocean when she was a little girl, saw turtles, dolphins and whales—but no sharks. "I was never scared," she said.

10 Best Cities for Small Business

Despite tough economic times, an analysis of the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas offers hope for those looking to launch a small business. Portfolio and BizJournals list the cities that are most conducive:

Raleigh, NC: The only market to rank among the top 10 in many key categories: growth, population, employment—and almost 30,000 small businesses for a million residents.
Charlotte, NC: A key banking hub, the city has some big problems, but its small business sector appears “remarkably resilient."
Seattle: A strong concentration of small businesses is “a nice cushion against tough times.”
Austin: Texas has taken less of a beating during this recession. Witness Austin’s creation of 10,000 jobs last year.
Boise, Idaho: Despite being the second-smallest market in the top 10, “Boise boasts the nation’s best growth rate for small businesses,” 4½ times faster than the national average.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

You have to Believe

By Sarina Cliff

People who take faith walks wear a variety of shoes. Some walk in sneakers, some combat boots, sandals or cleats; while some others walk in stilettos, steel toed shoes or cowboy boots. Recently I had an opportunity to interview a woman who walks her faith in cowboy boots. Who is that woman? Her name is Ms. Deana McGuffin of McGuffin Custom Boots located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here is Deana’s story.

SC: What led you to become a boot maker?
DM: A combination of things: I was 30 years old, on the brink of a divorce and didn’t like my job. I was encouraged by my former sister-in-law to learn the art of boot making from my father, who was an amazing craftsman. A man who was able to translate creativity into whatever he was doing. My father was hesitant to teach me because he didn’t think I was serious nor did he think I had the upper body strength to do it. It took a year for him to agree to teach me. It was also a way to get me to return home and to stop nagging him about it. He eventually took me under his wing and taught me everything I needed to know about boot making. I have been hooked ever since.

SC: What is the most unusual request you have had in creating a boot?
DM: My most unusual request came from a guy in Canada who was a magician. He had an interesting idea for boots, but some how we could never connect on the concept.The strangest boots I have ever made were for me. I have a pair of boots with inlaid skeletons on the front and back. The figures are representational of the skeleton art work celebrating Dios de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. Dios de los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico on the 1st of November. It is a celebration of the lives of loved ones who have died. I've always loved the whimsy of the skeleton art. I thought it would be fun to make a pair of boots in that style.

SC: Have you received any other unusual requests?
DM: No, none at this time. It gets a little boring sometimes because most people just want a plain but well made pair of boots. It is refreshing to work on projects with people who have different tastes and want an active part in designing their boots.

SC: What do you like most about the boot making process?
DM: I enjoy doing fancy top work. I get bored with bottoms. I also enjoy teaching boot making. When I get burned out and bored, the excitement of my students reinvigorates me. They encourage my creativity. Another thing that excites me is making boots for my grandkids. I don’t make a lot of children’s boots because they cost as much as an adult’s pair and they grow out of them so quickly. I do really enjoy making boots for my grandkids.

SC: What has been your challenge?
DM: My main challenge has been the business end of owning a business. I am not good at marketing or managing my website. I am an artist and like many artists find the business stuff boring and hard to deal with. Artists often need help in this area. My other challenge has been being a woman in a male dominated industry. When I started making boots in the early 80s, there was one other woman making an entire boot. There have been many women top stitchers all through the years, but none that I know of that made the whole boot. There are still probably fewer than 15 women boot makers in the U.S.

SC: FaithWalk is dedicated to folks who take the road less travelled. What can you say to these people? Or what wisdom from your life can you offer to other travelers?
DM: There is this quote that I remember by Joseph Campbell that says, “Follow Your Bliss.” I think it is important for us not to give up on what we want to do in this life. Sometimes society has a tendency to influence us and to make us think that more money is what is important. Yes money helps. Still I am able to live a life style that is more conducive to me. I have not had to hold down lots of 8-5 jobs. I cannot say it has always been easy. Sometimes money needs come down to the wire. Still I have always had what I needed though it has not always been what I wanted. You've got to have faith – you've got to believe in the universe or whatever God you believe in and know you will be supported. All of us have people in our lives and families who have skills but have not put them to use because of fears. Living your bliss is not easy, but don’t let others tell you – you can’t make a living at what you enjoy. It all boils down to how badly you want to do what you enjoy. Each and every one of us has an artistic ability, a creative side - a gift. It is vital that we stay in touch with our gift. Look around you to see the many people who work a 9-5 to make a living but they hate what they do. I feel sad for those people who don’t love or even like what they do. It just drains the life out of them. I say - follow your bliss - what have you got to lose.

Deana McGuffin is living her bliss in Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you would like to learn more about Deana or to have a custom pair of boots made, go to her website mcguffinboots

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Men's Spring Fashion Looks on Bright Side

Men better get used to wearing pink, or at least orange, as menswear designers are hoping that a splash of color will get reluctant shoppers to open their wallets. Retailers are pushing bold shades for the spring season, the Wall Street Journal reports, and even labels that have emphasized traditional, muted tones are jumping on the bandwagon. "It's one of the key trends for us," said one fashion director.

While some worry that turquoise and coral aren't in keeping with the country's somber mood, retailers are hoping that the fresh look will jolt men into playing along. They're "out of options to try to get the customer to shop, so they have to be bold," says a retail specialist. Not everyone's sold. "I don't think in bad times men are going to buy the most outrageous, colorful items," noted another one fashion expert.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Silicon Valley Spawns High-Tech University

The future’s so bright, we’re going to need special training to get ready. That’s the point of Singularity University, a Silicon Valley institution founded by trio of forward thinkers, reports CNET. It won’t be a regular university; instead, Singularity—staffed by Nobel winners and other luminaries—will offer 10-week, 10-day, and 3-day programs on subjects like artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.

“I have no doubt that society gets ever more complex, and the consequences of ever-growing technology become ever more difficult to anticipate and respond to,” says one teacher. With prestigious faculty and a prime NASA lab location, Singularity doesn’t come cheap. Expecting grad students and executives, the program has set 10-week tuition at $25,000, though scholarships will be available.

Docs Remove Donor Kidney Through Vagina

Doctors in Maryland removed a kidney from a donor through the vagina in what they believe to be the first operation of its kind, the Baltimore Examiner reports. The procedure reduced the 48-year-old donor’s pain and recovery time compared with more traditional methods. “We are all about trying to reduce the disincentives to donation,” said one of the Johns Hopkins University doctors.

Surgeons made a small incision in the back of the donor’s vagina, then slid an inflatable bag inside to hold the cut open as they pulled out the kidney. The procedure has been used to take out problematic kidneys before, but not donor kidneys, which need to be intact. A typical operation would require a 5- to 6-inch abdominal cut. About 100,000 people are awaiting kidney transplants; doctors hope the new procedure will ease the donation process.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Meet the Men Who Make Oscars

Come Feb. 22, Hollywood will be fêting the stars who take home the Oscars—but there’s little chance any of the acceptance speeches will thank the guys who made the statues. From Martin Vega, who melts pewter alloy for the hardware, to Eladio Gonzalez, who gives Oscar his signature shine, the AP lifts the curtain on the Chicago factory behind the icon.

After melting down bars of high-grade pewter, Vega pours the 780-degree liquid into a steel mold, then dips the 8½-pound man several more times into various metals, including gold. Like beef, Oscar is cured for days to avoid any air holes. After Gonzales gives him a bath and a blow dry, Oscar is ready for his close-up. Says one sales manager of the statue, “not bad for an 81-year-old man.”

Wall Street's Hottest Jobs? Lehman Bros

Wall Street's hottest jobs in 2009 are coming from its biggest disaster of 2008—Lehman Brothers, the Wall Street Journal reports. Lehman still has billions of dollars in assets and contracts to untangle and restructure, and Wall Street's legions of laid-off execs are keen to get a piece of the action. Even reviled ex-CEO Dick Fuld is quietly toiling in the ashes of his empire.

"We're getting swamped with résumés," Lehman's new chief exec tells the Wall Street Journal. "It's just a tough tough, tough time, and there are a lot of good people out there looking for work." Dismembering and disposing of Lehman's carcass is expected to take at least 2 years—an enviably secure job in today's Wall Street, and financial pros say dealing with bankruptcies will be a much-needed skill in the years ahead.

Hudson Scores With Super Bowl Comeback

Jennifer Hudson returned to the spotlight yesterday for the first time since her family tragedy, giving an emotional performance of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl, AP reports. When she asked the producer how she did, “I told her ‘Touchdown!’” he said. “She’s in such a great place, with such great spirits and time can heal her wounds.” She will perform again at the Grammy Awards Sunday.