Pi Day

(√-1) (2^3) ∑ (3.14)

Happy Pi Day!

More on pi: here

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WWJH: Who Would Jesus Hate?

I have to take a moment away from my typical posts and really shed some light on a horrible issue. The gay rights movement has been gaining momentum over the past few decades, and has been met with a deadly amount of retaliation. Now, American “Christians” are taking on a new frontier in the fight against equality: Africa.

Take a moment and watch this video recently posted by ABC News: [Click here]

"The gay movement is an evil institution. That's goal is to defeat the marriage-based society"

I find myself asking, “who would Jesus hate?“.

All this hatred, and all this violence unto our fellow human beings, “and yet God has not said a word!” It makes me wonder…

Toss Out Traditionalism: Roth me hard!

2010 has leveled the playing field for Roth IRAs; the federal government has eliminated the income limit for converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. This will benefit millions of Americans making $100,000 or more whom were previously unable to take advantage of a Roth IRA or convert their traditional IRAs into a Roth. The new law repeals previous income limits for conversions; however, income limits still apply to Roth IRA contributions.

We must always think of Uncle Sam since he, too, benefits from the taxes that will be collected on capital gains that were accrued pre-conversion.

What’s the difference?

Those whom are younger than 50 years of age can contribute up to $5,000 annually to an IRA. NB: If an individual is older than 50 years of age, they can contribute and additional $1,000 in retirement catch up, totaling $6,000 annually.

There is no mandatory age at which someone must stop contributing to a Roth, compared to 70 ½ with a traditional IRA. If an 80-year-old grandmother wants to open a Roth IRA, she can do so.

Any income earned on a Roth IRA is tax-free when a consumer withdraws after age 59 ½ as long as it has been five years since the Roth’s inception; however, all withdrawals from a traditional IRA are taxable as ordinary income.

Tax you very much!

The rules for IRA conversion taxation have changed slightly for 2010: and 2010 only! This year, anyone who converts a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA will have the option to spread out his or her tax bill, 50/50, over the 2010 and 2011 tax year. But, be aware that taxes will be on the rise next year because of the sunset provision in the tax act of 2001 – however, this may be overturned with new legislation as this year progresses. Be cognizant of your tax burden and decide accordingly.

Keep in mind; after a certain income level, the IRS prohibits traditional IRA contribution tax deductions.

A Tip:

For those of you that are making more than $120,000 (ineligible to contribute to a Roth IRA), open a traditional IRA and max out your annual contributions, then convert to a Roth immediately. This way, you can take advantage of tax-free growth even if you are ineligible to contribute to a Roth IRA.

Froth Your Roth:

Do not just put your money into a Roth and leave it to rot, take full advantage of the fact you have the ability to grow your money TAX FREE. Trade stocks/options within the account and grow it to the hilt! Many people, well, those of whom actually save, just put their money in these accounts and expect them to grow magically. Not going to happen… be smart.

Fidelity has a great calculator to see if converting is in your best interest: Here

As always, speak with your accountant before making any final decisions.

A Pressing Issue: Coffee

So many Americans drink it, but so few make it properly. There is a Mr. Coffee in just about every home and it makes me shake to the bone.  Where there is evidence of a Mr. Coffee, awful coffee is sure to follow. There are four sins with this brewing technique:

  1. The beans
  2. The water
  3. The grind
  4. The filters

The Beans:

The first sin against coffee starts in the store. Many people buy Folgers and Maxwell House both of which are rancid to the last drop. Both of these ubiquitous brands use the cheapest beans possible and are ground god only knows how long ago. Grinding coffee in a factory sets the sails for Stale Town long before you get the coffee home.

Additionally, people do not treat their beans with respect. They like to be cool, in the dark and away from moisture! The Mr. Coffees of the world think nothing of leaving a bag of coffee exposed to the elements in their pantry. Nasty.

The Water:

The second sin comes with the water. Many people get their water from wells, and wells by nature have many impurities and minerals that can alter the taste of your coffee. It’s like drinking pennies.

Rule of thumb: if you do not want a mineral, taste, or odor in your water: you do not want it in your coffee. Use filtered water! You can use a carbon filter, or buy bottled, it doesn’t matter just STOP USING TAP WATER.

The Grind:

Every brewing technique has a different grind coarseness. Espresso has a very fine grind, and a coffee press (cafetière) has a very coarse grind. Pre-ground coffee falls in the mid-grind range, which allows for faster extraction. This is all fine and dandy, but there isn’t enough time for the coffee to properly steep.  Again, nasty.

This can make the coffee bitter and flavorless. You wouldn’t pour water through a teabag, would you?

The Filter:

Sin four: Paper filters will be the death of a good cup of coffee, even if you followed the aforementioned steps. A paper filter pulls all the oils out of the coffee, and it adds a chemical residue and ‘papery’ taste to it. Those oils are what brings a spark to your cup; they have a rich and nutty flavor, making your cup more dynamic.

If you insist on using a Mr. Coffee, switch to a “gold cone” or another mesh filter.

Now that you know your sins: atone!

Throw out that machine and buy a coffee press. They are cheap, cleaner, and make a great cup of coffee! Next, buy a burr grinder and a scale.  Do not buy a blade grinder! They create an inconsistent grind, which is bad news for good coffee. Lastly, never forget the four sins against coffee and you will be well on your way to a great cup!

Now, I can tell you all the “proper” measurements, but in reality, you need to find what works for your taste.

What they say: 250 ML of water to 8 grams of coffee.

What I do:

270 ML of water to 25 grams of coffee ground at a fairly coarse grind. I keep it on the finer side because I want it stronger and I like the ‘mud’ at the bottom of my cup.

  1. Boil your water
  2. Pour the water over the grinds
  3. Put the top on the cafetière
  4. Let the coffee steep for 3-5 minutes.

Next, aerate with a wooden spoon (not metal), or carefully swirl the cafetière. Then, press!

Lastly, pour and enjoy!

Note the difference: the coffee is more complex, bolder, and has a helluva lot more flavor.

Facebook: A place for revenue

Facebook board member, Marc Andreessen projected that Facebook would top $500 million in revenue for 2009; also, eluding that it could very well become a billion-dollar company within the year.

Namely, the reason for this sudden jump in revenue is because of Facebook’s transition into Social Ads over banner ads. These new ads target users with keywords in their status messages, profiles, etc, and gives the users the ability to “like” or “dislike” an ad; ergo, creating more precisely targeted ads to Facebook patrons.

A secondary source of income came from their “engagement ads,” which are ads with which users can interact, comment or send as a “gift” to their friends. Different companies sponsor these “gifts”, or users can pay for other more generic “gifts” – creating a virtual world of chatkas and sentimental gifts.

Facebook has really become the thought leader and innovator of advertising through social media, and they are one of the first social media networks to really figure out how to turn a [dot]com into a profitable and self-sustaining machine.

Because of this, and many other solid and profitable tools that Facebook has developed they “are definitely in no rush” for an IPO. “If you don’t need that capital, then all the pressures are different, and the motivations (to go public) are not there in the same way,” said the 25-year-old CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

And Zuckerberg is certainly under no pressure to raise outside capital, since they just turned $1 billion in revenue, last year; up $500 million from Andreessen’s estimates.

Facebook certainly has a solid chance of turning into the next Google-esque cash cow. Time to start buying up some private shares!!

Social News: Chile’s Earthquake Shakes Up Social Media

On February 27, 2010, just outside of Chile’s second-largest city, Concepción, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake devastated the area. It wasn’t long thereafter, that social media was feeling the aftershocks.

First, it was Twitter: Because of twitter’s accessibility via text message, many locals were updating their twitter pages in an effort to tell others that they were okay and safe. Other users were using it to get in contact with locals to try and find loved ones. Twitter instantly became a back and forth of information about those affected.

Hashtags such as, “#terremotochile,” “#Chile,” “#ChileEarthquake” were being used to centralize tweets about the quake. Many users were retweeting missing persons tweets, in an effort to reach more people in the Concepción area.

@SherylBreuker, in particular, tweeted “Any info on Maria Alicia Moya, please update http://tinyurl.com/yfjtzed or contact @kencamp or @sherylbreuker ASAP #chile #quake.” It wasn’t long after, that Maria was found and @sherylbreuker tweeted “we just got word that Mariali is safe and ok thanks to an amazing new friend and the power of Twitter! OMG! Awesome!!!!” This is just one instance of how social media helped connect people.

Another is Google’s Person Finder app, which was used in Haiti in January after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated Port-Au-Prince, was relaunched for the relief effort in Chile. The app gives up-to-the-minute information about nearly 63,400 records to those providing (or seeking) information about those affected by the earthquake. Although the information is not verified, it still provides a resource for families and friends to find missing loved ones faster than an agency could.

It works simply by providing the user with two buttons, “I’m looking for someone” and “I have information about someone.” The user selects which one and enters the information accordingly. It also provides a map pinpointing aftershocks.

(Credit: Google)

To some, social media is a stupid time-suck, but in times of crisis, it saves lives, helps connect loved ones and keeps people better informed at a faster rate than mainstream media outlets.

Text your support:

1. Text the word “CHILE” to 25383 to donate $10 on behalf of the Habitat for Humanity

2. Text the word “CHILE” to 20222 to donate $10 on behalf of World Vision

3. Text the word “CHILE” to 52000 to donate $10 on behalf of the Salvation Army

4. Text the word “CHILE” to 85944 to donate $10 on behalf of International Medical Corp.

How I Became A Farmer

I never thought it would happen to me. I never wanted it to either. But, one morning out of the blue, I put on my overalls, boots, and Carhartts and took to the fields.

I started small; after all, I was new to this whole thing. First I started planting the basics: wheat, soybeans and corn. As I remembered from my history classes, Native Americans would bury fish with the seeds of the corn. As the fish decomposed, it would act as a fertilizer for the newly germinating seeds. I wished to try this for myself, but I didn’t see it as an available option.

After spending what seemed like hours plowing and planting, my farm was ready to go! Three days later, I had crops! I was amazed. I knew I could do it. I knew I could be a great farmer: and, indeed, I was!

I harvest my crops and took them to market and sold them. I felt like I was in Union Square on a summer Saturday, it was fabulous!

After returning from the market, I went right back to work! Only this time, I had a little extra cash, so I plowed an extra row and planted more crops. This was so exciting, I really felt like I was making a difference.

While I waited for my crops to grow, I took a gander at my neighbors. You know, sizing up my competition. As a gesture of civility, I decided to rake their fallen leaves. I thought it was nice, and so started a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” relationship with my neighboring farms.

Then, disaster struck! No, not a drought – worse! The Internet froze! Facebook crashed, and all was lost! My farm was gone. My newly found career and passion: destroyed!

I thought, “how could this happen to me?” I have been helping people; I successfully planted and harvested several bushels of crops and now look… my life as a farmer has ended. I was devastated.

It was days before FarmVille was up and running again. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt lost, alone and without a purpose. This was simply unacceptable. So, I took to the forum and filed an official complaint!

It wasn’t long after becoming a farmer that I too started to moonlight as a vampire. At first, I thought it was going to conflict with my busy farming schedule, but it all worked out well.

All is well on the farm, that has since been converted to a vineyard and we hope to double our profit by the end of the month!

Thank you FarmVille for changing my life.