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Archive for December, 2008

I can’t believe 2008 is already over! It was another crazy, but great, year. Work has been as busy as ever for us. Family and friends were getting married left and right and having babies. Our apartment almost burnt to the ground (well, sort of). I got ambushed and made over on a moving train (still waiting for it to air on TLC!). Then, of course, there were all the extracurricular activities (a trip to Texas, 2 seasons of kickball, etc.).

All of this and so much more sometimes made it difficult to find time to blog, but I’m so glad we did and, to wrap up 2008, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite posts from the year. It was quite difficult to narrow a list down, but here it is:

Again, hard to pick out just a few, but it is New Year’s Eve and, honestly, I’m eager to get off this damn computer, so think it is best to wrap it up for the night 🙂 We’ll have to wait to see what is in store for us in 2009 – and I’m looking forward to blogging about it.

New Year's Eve Ball, 1978, New York Times

New Year's Eve Ball, 1978, New York Times

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The Year in Markets

Economies and markets around the world really sucked this year, and a lot of hard-working people got screwed in the process. There was no place to run, no place to hide…and now – maybe, hopefully – no where to go except up (click the thumbnail to enlarge).

 I don’t like dwelling on the negative, and there’s little use in it anyway. President Truman said, “an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.” The same way a forest fire gives way to and fertilizes new growth, this year’s swath of economic destruction will fertilize new opportunities, and in some cases, for entirely new groups of people. Case in point, right now mortgage rates are at all-time lows. First-time buyers…all aboard! Happy New Year, everyone, and here’s to a healthy and happy 2009!

30-Year Benchmark Mortgage Rate

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A silver lining on the otherwise gloomy economic cloud – As of December 22, gas prices in Massachusetts (adjusted for inflation) are at their lowest level since April 2002.

ma-gas-prices

Source: Energy Information Administration, weekly retail gasoline prices. Inflation adjustment based on Northeast regional Consumer Price Index time series from BLS.

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In my hunt for Christmas gifts, I came across a number of really out of the ordinary and generally useless products that I think would make horrible gifts. I can’t speak for the rest of the world (some people may actually like this stuff, so no offense to any of these companies), but let it be known…Elicia Buzz asks that for the sake of your loved ones’ overall happiness this Christmas, please refrain from giving any of the following items as gifts:

For a mere $99.95, you can swat away germs to your heart’s content. I wonder if, to save time, you could use this to bathe yourself in the morning instead of a shower? No, actually, I don’t wonder that.
Germ Eliminating Wand

The Hog Wild Self Stirring Mug

This one is a bit cheaper at only $14.95, but why not just grab a spoon? Unless you are buying this for an 8-year old who drinks a lot of chocolate milk…bad gift.

Cow Mug

Location Earth Dog Tags

For $12.99 you can buy your special someone a dog tag etched with the “crucial data an alien will need to get you back to Earth” should you be abducted by aliens.

Alien Dog Tags

The Complete Swiss Army Knife 

Looking for a gift for the multi-tasker in your life? Well, this may be a great idea at first, but with a price of $1,400, you might want to think of something else. 87 precision-engineered tools spanning 112 functions will overwhelm even the most talented handyman.

 Complete Swiss Army Knife

Jerome Russell Spray On Hair Thickener

Do I even need to say anything here? You might as well buy spray paint or tell the recipient to shave their head.

Hair Thickener

Kleen Stride Personal Debris Removal

Unlike the Spray On Hair Thickener, this gift is actually a joke (found it on the Onion’s website). I’m sure there are a handful of folks out there that have thought to themselves “Damn! I totally should have applied for a patent. That was my idea!”

Debris Removal 

Pop Up Hot Dog Grill

For $49.95 your loved one can celebrate the holidays with the best home cooking they could ever ask for.

Hot Dog Grill

Honorable Mention:

Bacon Wallet

Pretty much anything having to do with bacon is awesome. I love bacon as much, if not probably more, than the average person, but a bacon wallet? Bad gift. Apparently this is pretty popular – the website that sells it says it is out of stock.

Bacon Wallet

Good luck with last minute shopping and merry Christmas!

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Critter

critter-evidence

‘Twas three days before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…except for a crafty mouse.

Our premises have been breached by a stealthy intruder. The casualties thus far include some peanut M&Ms and a brand-new bag of delicious Cape Cod potato chips (sea salt and cracked pepper). No one has yet been witness to its crimes, but the suspect is thought to resemble a dirty cotton ball with a tenacious appetite for the sweet and salty.

I don’t know how this little bastard is getting into the cupboard but, much like my bat-wrangling father before me, I’m prepared to sit in the dark all night long armed with a broom, hockey mask, and brown paper bag – ready to pounce at a moments notice. Yes indeed, I may hurt myself and break several dishes in what will surely be a futile attempt to catch Fivel’s evil twin, but dammit, I’m a man. And as any good man would, I fully intend to take this way too far. You’ve been warned, critter. You’re next bite of candy-coated chocolate just might be your last!

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civics-quiz1

Test your American civics knowledge. The test contains 33 questions about America’s founding principles, political history, international relations, and market economy – the basics about the systems all Americans participate in every day.

For the last three years, the ISI (Intercollegiate Studies Institute) has conducted their American Civic Literacy Program study to see whether people have a grasp of basic knowledge required to be an informed citizen (the 2008 study is finished, you can take the quiz for fun by clicking the link above).

For three straight years the results have shown that Americans are alarmingly uninformed about our Constitution, the basic functions of our government, the key texts of our national history, and economic principles. Seventy-one percent of Americans fail this test (score 59% or less), which is really, really sad. Fewer than half of all Americans can name all three branches of government. The study has also consistently shown that college educated participants and elected officials fail the majority of the time.

Most Americans would probably agree that it’s pretty damn important for high schools and colleges to be teaching our future leaders about America’s history, key documents and institutions, but evidently this isn’t happening in an effective way. This is a sad commentary on our education system, including colleges and universities.

The findings and survey methods are described on the website.

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I am particularly fond of the Italian duo that millions call Mario and Luigi. They were never the greatest plumbers, but right along with them, I’ve jumped down my fair share of green pipes and on top of mushrooms. I’ve also slung my fair share of bananas out onto the open road.

If the world of Mario and Luigi were to come to life, I would be ecstatic. Wait…it has. Well, at least, the world of Mario Kart has.

Apparently some French guy put together this live action video based on the popular N64, DS, and Wii game, Mario Kart. Check it out:

Thanks Meat Bun for posting the video!

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