Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stevia is sweet and good.

Over Christmas, my mom asked me if I wanted sweetener for my tea. I'm spoiled now, because I love the way stevia tastes, so I asked if she had any. She goes, "What's stevia?" Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni is an herb that's sweet like sugar, but it has no calories.

Imagine a sweetener that's actually good for you. I've been sweetening my coffee and tea with stevia for about six months. I bought some at a hippie grocery store, and I like it better than Splenda, Sweet & Low, or processed sugar. It is has no carbs, no calories, and no glycemic index, but it tastes naturally sweet.

Splenda is chlorinated sugar. Your body won't absorb it (much). Saccharine (Sweet & Low) and Aspartame (Equal) are not good for you, either. If you are diabetic, dieting, or just health conscious, you should try stevia, just to see if you like it better. I'm a fan.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Creativity and Thrift.

In my college years I had a girlfriend tell me, "You're not creative enough to be thrifty." We would get into arguments about whether it was better to make a thing, or just go buy it pre-made. She used stuff she had and made what she needed. She had a tremendous knack for it. If you have the skills, homemade cookies are much better than the ones in the plastic boxes in the bakery section. With enough negative thinking, you can convince yourself that you either don't have enough time or enough cooking skills to make better cookies than the bakery, and plunk down a few bucks for a few cookies. The reality is that you can acquire the time and skills. Cookie ingredients are cheap. Plus, you can make cookies over and over. Doing the cooking yourself is one way, and making money to just buy cookies is another means to the same end.

Now that we've proved that I'm hungry, here's a non-food example, if we were talking about decorating a room, she would head for the art supply store and spend what few dollars she had on paint and canvas. She'd buy an old picture frame at a garage sale. She would take an old crate out of the garbage, wrap it in cloth, take some tall dried grasses she picked from the roadside and arrange it in the top, and it looked amazing. I would get a part time job and go to Pottery Barn and get something cool with the money I made. She ended up with a conversation piece in her apartment while I had to remember to take the price tag off of my art, find time to hang or display whatever it was before I had to run back to work. The fact is, I didn't have the creative vision to stop by the road and pick tall grasses that might look decorative when dried.

Maybe it's still true that I'm not creative enough to be thrifty. I had never linked these two talents or virtues before she pointed it out. When money is tight, my creative side comes out. Necessity is the mother of invention? I think you just have to want something enough in this world of abundance to create it for yourself. I think that belief stems from the time I was chastised for not thinking creatively enough to not "waste money". Well, that's why she was an art major, and I got my degree in computer science.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fair Tax effort lives on.

I work for an outsourcing firm. One of the Big Three is a client here. I get to see first hand the calculations which are done to allocate employee resources when a company outsources jobs. The income tax in the United States is THE main reason jobs are leaving, and one of the main reasons our car makers cannot compete on the global stage. The cost of the income tax plus a high labor rate negotiated by the union is built into the price of the product. So, it's cheaper to make stuff elsewhere.

I got this friendly email from Earl Long, the local Fair Tax activist/organizer/cheerleader/geezer/fellow, and it expressed my feelings so well I thought I'd just post the whole thing.


Good morning FairTaxers!

For the American taxpayer, the ol’ “baby-seal-treatment” (bludgeoning unmercifully by our government) just keeps coming. We are rapidly approaching 100 years of living under the tyranny of our current income tax system and the devastating effects it produces on our economy and everyday life.

Does anyone hold out the slightest particle of hope that the fine gentlemen wielding the clubs are going to voluntarily relent and improve our circumstances? I certainly don’t.

Please remember that our constitution requires that we the people assume the responsibility of being the boss! Washington won’t listen unless we speak. And it must be forcefully. Whispering sweetly in their ears won’t get it done! Our kids are counting on us.

Please sign on today at www.fairtaxkc.org by a triple 20 FairTaxer. We can and must remove the bludgeoning tools from Washington’s heedless hands.

The Geezer

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I wonder. . .

How do the Toyota workers in Alabama feel about contributing their tax dollars to Detroit auto workers who make more money than they do?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

OU is doing well.

I've been to a few December games at Arrowhead Stadium. I know how cold it can get. I'm happy to be enjoying the Big 12 Championship game from home. At least it's not windy out there.

OU is doing so well, it's not even entertaining.

Consequently, I'm still reading get-rich-working-from-home ad pages. I have hit this one a couple of times, so apparently it's popular.

The audio narration is from the perspective of a wage slave who meets up with an ultra rich young guy who made his money with automated Internet marketing sites. It's so feeble it's kinda funny, but it really illustrates the divide between the creative class and the working class.

If your job involves a repetitive task that can be automated and you are not trying to automate it, you're working and not creating. The current trend seems to be outsourcing the running of the automated tools, so that it's completely on auto-pilot. If you can convince an army of underpaid people to implement your automated formula and get a cut of the action, that's great leverage. That's a recurring theme I'm encountering.

The marketing world is in flux. There's a movement from traditional advertising to targeted internet sites which are search engine optimized to receive traffic based on the keywords people enter into search engines and forward that traffic to the seller of a related product who pays the most commission. Marketing is in the hands of the masses now.

If you can get good at building good web sites to warm buyers up and send them on to an affiliate site to make their purchase, you really can make a lot of money. Finding the right niche, testing the market, then appealing to that niche in that manner IS the new marketing. Web hype. Now that people can DVR their shows and skip the commercials, it's the emerging way products are hyped and sold.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fast Money! and Vacation Photos on Steroids

In my spare time, which is rare, I'm still looking for flashy get rich quick web sites. To find the schemes with the lowest barrier of entry, I end up going through the gyrations of registering for free newsletters and watching demo videos. This one takes the cake!

On another topic, I found a utility that will take pictures that you've taken in a particular place, and stitch them together into a 3D model called a Photo Synth.

I took some Colorado vacation pictures that I took at some places last summer, and some of them merged into a synth views, and some were just not synthy at all, so they didn't merge into a 3D view.

Here's Summit Lake:

And Roxborough State Park:

And some spot along Highway 103 in Colorado:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Operation Giftervention.

I'm letting everyone off the hook.

Dear ________________,

I know how tough it is to find the perfect Christmas gift for me. And while I appreciate all the effort you put in, the truth is I really don’t need another present this year. But American troops stationed overseas who won’t make it home for a while—well, they do need a gift. So I’m asking that instead of spending money buying me a present, you send some Trail’s End popcorn to a soldier. It’s easy (the website takes care of all the shipping) and, best of all, 70% of the proceeds benefit the Boy Scouts of America.

To get started, just go to www.orderpopcorn.com and click on “Operation Giftervention” in the bottom-right corner of the page.

If popcorn isn't your style, here is a list of requests from folks deployed overseas and where/how to send the items.

Thanks and Merry Christmas,