Monday, August 19, 2019

The Personal Autobahn Effect

When traffic is not crawling at a snail's pace, it's generally racing along like a NASCAR speedway. Unfortunately, there is no slow lane, and the occasional slow driver is impeding the rest of us Mario Andretti's on the road. Autobahn is the German word for a major high-speed road restricted to motor vehicles capable of driving at least 60 km/h (37 mph) and having full control of access, similar to a motorway or freeway in English-speaking countries.

In most countries, it usually refers to the German autobahn specifically. The advisory speed limit of the German autobahn is 130 km/h (80 mph), but there is no general speed limit.

In my last article, I talked about one of the contributing factors for the traffic in Washington, DC - Closing the Gap. Let's talk about another phenomenon known to exist around the beltway and I-95 – the Personal Autobahn Effect.

While it is common courtesy (and the law in some states) to yield to overtaking traffic, some aggressive drivers abuse this and treat the roads as their own personal autobahn.

When traffic is not crawling at a snail's pace, it's generally racing along like a NASCAR speedway. Unfortunately, there is no slow lane, and the occasional slow driver is impeding the rest of us Mario Andretti's on the road. Read more…In this area, it is not uncommon to drive faster than the posted speed limit around the beltway and on I-95. And if you're on the left-most lane, you routinely see speeds exceeding the legal limit by 20-30 mph.

Each individual driver must decide what they are comfortable with, but some aggressive drivers take it further by insisting all drivers get out of their way to allow them to speed. Even if you're doing 70 mph in the left lane and have visible traffic in front of you, these drivers will flash their lights, honk their horns, and give other visible signs to insist that you get out of their way.

What makes them so special? If I'm doing 70 mph, keeping up with traffic, and dealing with the regular assortment of road hazards, what's makes the guy behind me believe it's his privilege – no, his right – to run up on my tail and try to intimidate me?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

5 Simple Rules

A 92-year old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who was fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably combed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready. As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, he was provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window. "I love it," he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

"Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait."

"That doesn't have anything to do with it," he replied. "Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged — it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away. Just for this time in my life. Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories!"

"Thank you for your part in filling my Memory Bank. I am still depositing."

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

  • Free your heart from hatred
  • Free your mind from worries
  • Live simply
  • Give more
  • Expect less

~author unknown

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Cost of a Child

The government recently calculated the cost of raising child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock. That doesn't even touch college tuition. For those with kids, that figure leads to wild fantasies about all the things we could have bought, all the places we could have traveled, all the money we could have banked if not for (insert child's name here). For others, that number might confirm the decision to remain childless.

But $160,140 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into $8,896.66 a year, $741.38 a month, or $171.08 a week. That's a mere $24.44 a day. Just over a dollar an hour. Still you might think the best financial advice says don't have children if you want to be rich. It's just the opposite.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Weird Words of Wall Street

What do dead cats, gunslingers and zombies have to do with investing? In the often cockeyed parlance of Wall Street, each has a very specific meaning. Here are a few examples of Wall Street's more colorful terms:
Air Pocket Stock
A stock whose price plunges like a 747 hitting an air pocket - usually caused by shareholders rushing to sell on unexpected bad news.
Chastity Bonds
A bond that may be redeemed at par value after a takeover.
Dead Cat Bounce
When stock prices rebound right after a precipitous market decline. Even a dead cat will bounce if it falls far enough, right?
Pools of income-oriented, mortgage-backed securities - issued with maturity of 15 years by the Federal National Mortgage Association (better known as Fannie Mae).
Large institutions like mutual funds, pensions, banks and insurance companies whose voluminous trades can dramatically impact stock or bond prices.
The 10 technical analysts who forecast stock price movements on PBS's "Wall Street Week" television program.
Fall Out of Bed
When a stock's price drops on negative news about the company.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

On Science and Spirit

A thermodynamics professor had written a take home exam for his graduate students. It had one question: "Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)? Support your answer with a proof."
Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:
First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So, we need to know the rate that souls are moving into Hell and the rate they are leaving.
I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.
As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and all souls go to Hell.
With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.
Now, we can look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand as souls are added. This gives two possibilities:
#1 If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
#2 Of course, if Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls entering Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.
So, which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Ms. Therese Banyan during my Freshman year, "It will be a cold night in Hell before I sleep with you", and we take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then #2 cannot be true, and so Hell is exothermic.
The student got the only "A" in the class.

Monday, March 13, 2017

21 Simple Tips

ONE Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

TWO Marry somebody you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

THREE Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

FOUR When you say, "I love you," mean it.

FIVE When you say, "I'm sorry," look the person in the eye.

SIX Be engaged at least six months before you get married.

SEVEN Believe in love at first sight.

EIGHT Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.

NINE Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.

TEN In disagreements, fight fairly. Please No name calling.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Summer Thrill

Old Florence Library

Most people look forward to this time of year. For some, it means new jobs, having to move, or that dreaded family vacation. For the majority of people, it is a time to relax, a time fotr recreation, time at the pool – for some, even a time for chaos. As a child, mine were a mixture of these – a mixture of a free-for-all attitude with the sense to accomplish something, nothing, and usually leading to do something crazy. Thrills were a necessity to keep my young life exciting. But one particular thrill, during one of my childhood summers, almost changed my life for good.

This summer started out like any other summer. School had let out and everybody was off to explore everything new and old, hoping for something new to do. However, after a few weeks, we were wishing school would start back up – we were bored. So like every other day, my friends and I set off for adventure. As we stopped by to pick up each of my friends, their mother would follow him to the door, telling him to be careful and stay out of trouble. It looked like we were marching off to war somewhere; and we were, our own little adventure. Several hours later, we had played long enough and decided to get something cold to drink. On the way to the store, we passed the town library and noticed that the older kids had left their normal hangout. It was then; we decided to try their fun, their thrill – riding the ropes.