Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hope and Emotion


I am hoping that some of my family will be able to make it down for our wedding. I communicated with my brother today, and although things are not really rosy in their part of the country, they may be able to come down. Hopefully, at least 5 of them (mother & husband, brother & wife, sister) will be able to car pool and split expenses and make the 12-14 hour trip.



I've been thinking about our stock market lately. We've had some wild swings in its prices for a while. The conclusion I've come to is that the market is run by emotion: fear that [something] will happen, fear that housing will do [whatever], fear that oil will do [whatever]. If fear consumes the investors, they will sell and prices will drop. The media will confirm this. Pay attention to market reports. Listen for words like "fear", "worry", etc. If hope or elation fills them, they will buy and prices go up. It seems that very little has to do with actual business conditions or a tangible belief that a company has a future by virtue of its product or service.

Ideally (IMO), investors should invest in (and support) businesses/corporations that they believe can be successful on the merits of the respective business. Must they engage in emotional buying and selling in a desperate attempt to make a lot of money? The stock market was never intended to be a short-term money-making endeavor. It was never intended as a vehicle for high-stress panic buying and selling. Its reason for being is to help a business grow by allowing investors to help supply capital towards that end. If our markets were to return to its roots and not run by an emotional crap-shoot, it would be in much better shape. But then, our government would have to get out of the way and not force businesses to make stupid decisions, and at the same time allow irresponsible ones to fail.


Emotion is the fuel for another of our country's engines: Politics and political elections. I don't recall any election (and I've seen quite a few) that wasn't run like the stock market - on emotion. Far too many people fail to vote with their brains. They vote with their hearts, according to what "feels good". Candidates always try to appeal to emotion, because that is what voters use most. Because it's driven on emotion just like the stock market, its results are just as shaky.

We need to start fueling our nation's engines with brain power, not emotion. It's very similar to drugs. People do drugs because they make them "feel good". They become trapped by them, enslaved by them - all for the desire to feel good. The same is true for the market and the government. Invest and vote with your emotions, and they will bite you.

As a nation, let's let our brains be the driving force, not our emotions.


Friday, November 14, 2008


One day last week, I took Shelley to a nice local restaurant. We got some really good service and the food was great - as it always is at this particular place. Had a great time.

This evening, I checked my bank account against my check register and found a discrepancy. The entry for our night out was $10 too high. Thirty five dollars was all of a sudden $45. I called the restaurant and talked to the manager, and he told me to come down to get it straightened out. He said if one of his people are stealing, he'd fire 'em. When I got there, he went into his office and made a print-out of the credit card transactions that day. The entry for our meal showed a $14 tip! I have never, ever left a tip that high. That was almost the price of one meal! As it turned out, a $4 tip somehow came across as much more - as if somebody "accidentally" put a "1" in front of the 4.

I told the manager that I would hate to see anybody get fired, and asked that if this employee has never been a problem before, to show some mercy - but at the same time, I understood that he had to do what's best for his company. I am convinced that he will check it out before taking action, as it could have been an honest error/type-o, or whatever.

The end result is that they take care of their customers. They made it right with me, at a generous rate of twice the error. I put up a little bit of argument, as it was not necessary to refund more than the erroneous amount. He insisted because of my inconvenience and having to make the trip, etc.

Always be sure to keep accurate records when using a credit/debit card for purchases. Up until now, I have shredded all my card receipts to prevent ID theft. Now I will keep them until I confirm the amount with my bank. Online banking is a blessing.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

President-Elect Obama

Election 2008 is over. Obama has won. Now all we can do is wait to see what he will do for (or to) America and its citizens.

Many say that this is a historic time - and it is in a sense. It is only historic in the sense that he is the first black President that we've ever had. That's where it stops. He is no god, nothing really remarkable. His qualifications and accomplishments are actually quite unremarkable - unless being a "community organizer" is all it takes to be the leader of the Free World. It sounds like an extremely lackluster qualification to me. Even one who incites a riot can be considered to be a "community organizer". The term has no meaning. Be that as it may, we now have a black president-elect - regardless of how or why he received so many votes. But should it be a historic moment?

If we were truly color-blind as Dr. Martin Luther King wished, and didn't judge people by the color of their skin, he would be "just" another president-elect. This should not be anything "historic" because he is just another man. His skin color should not enter into it. Why so much emphasis on it? It doesn't make sense.

This Republican does as Dr. King wished. I judge people by the content of their character, and not by the color of their skin. I have seen little in the content of Obama's character that gives me the warm fuzzies. I have trouble trusting him. However, we have no choice at this time but to give him a chance. Admit it or not, he will be the President of The United States of America. If this is your country, he will be your President - the leader of our Country.

I personally have little faith in his ability, but I am willing to give him a chance. As I said above, we have no choice at this time. If he fails us, we have telephones to contact Washington with. We have Email. We have Congressmen. We have mouths. We need to use them. We have the power. Washington gets their power from us, not the other way around. The only power they have, is what we allow them to have.


Sunday, November 09, 2008


The brightest crater on the moon is by far Tyco. Normally, it is the brightest spot on the full moon. It's so bright, it's hard to get any detail in it without significantly darkening the rest of it. This shot shows Tyco in all its glory and detail. It's the prominent crater at the lower left of the moon in this view, and appears to have spokes spanning across the moon's surface.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Moon Fix

I had to get my "moon fix" last night. Here's what I saw.

I love how crater shadows set it off.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Share The Wealth

Click on it for the full-size version.