Everything Blog

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Top Ten Mistakes in a Zombie Film

If you're going to survive a zombie outbreak, there are some things you will need to keep in mind not to do:

  1. If you live anywhere near an industry that produces toxic waste of an unknown type, don't just sit around, move to a different town! This toxic waste will eventually somehow contaminate the area and turn everyone but you into cannibal zombies.
  2. Do not read from any books written in blood and bound in human skin, or listen to any tapes made thereof. This has a tendency to cause zombies to appear.
  3. If you pick a place to hide out, make sure that there are no dead people already inside, since they will eventually become zombies and attack you.
  4. Don't try and reason with any zombies, just run. They may appear to be paying attention to you, but that is because they are actually trying to gauge the quickest way through your skull.
  5. Don't use a blunt instrument if you have to fight zombies. This will only break a bone or two and make them mad. Projectile weapons are the most effective (but only if you can consistently hit the brain). Otherwise, chainsaws and lawnmowers have been known to work in a pinch.
  6. If any of your friends die, don't just let them lie there (assuming that there's anything left). Make sure and shoot them in the head. Otherwise, they will rise again and somehow find you later when you least expect it, and you'll have to shoot them in the head then anyway.
  7. If you are trapped by zombies with someone that you don't get along with, keep a close eye on that person. Experience has shown that conflict within a group of defenders can provoke irrational actions, leading to the demise of one or more of the group.
  8. While trapped inside a building by zombies, don't go near the windows, even boarded up ones. The zombies will stand outside moaning quietly to themselves until you are right by the window, and then they will suddenly punch through it and grab you. The other zombies will try and distract you by pounding on the doors and walls, and saying "Braaaaaains".
  9. If you have to run through a crowd of zombies, don't get too confident just because they have limited brain power and move slowly. Zombies have a death grip (no pun intended), and if you get too close to one, you'll regret it.
  10. If you're trapped in a farmhouse by a zombie horde, don't just sit there waiting for rescuers. Use your spare time to make a big sign that says "DON'T SHOOT ME, I'M HUMAN!" so that said rescuers don't make a mistake when they see you.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Top Ten Vampire Myths

Most vampire myths come to us from the Dark Ages, when science was in its infancy and people looked to religion or superstition to explain the world around them. While many vampire myths have their basis in Christian orthodoxy, others represent imaginative interpretations of actual vampire behavior.

Vampires sleep in coffins
Source: this myth probably arose from gravediggers and others who observed vampires emerging from coffins and crypts.
Truth: if a vampire did spend the night in a coffin, it probably had nothing to do with sleeping preference. In the old days, many victims of vampire bites were interred while still in a vampiric coma. The truth is, vampires will sleep wherever they feel safe.

Garlic repels vampires
Source: most likely based on observation.
Fact: vampires have sensitive noses and can momentarily be driven off by pungent odors. However, this method of deterrence is unreliable and certainly won't work on an experienced vampire.

Crosses repel vampires
Source: Christian religion.
Fact: crosses have no effect on vampires.

Vampires are killed by driving a stake through their heart
Source: Christian religion.
Fact: because their blood is circulated by skeletal muscles, vampires can easily survive injuries to the heart.

Vampires burst into flames upon exposure to sunlight
Source: most likely based on observations of a vampire's extreme reaction to sunlight
Fact: sunlight renders vampires, with their hyperdilated irises, blind. It also causes neural pathways to fire randomly in the vampire brain, creating an extreme epileptic reaction. As dramatic as this reaction may appear, it will not be enough to start a fire.

Holy water burns the skin and flesh of vampires
Source: Christian religion.
Fact: holy water, or any water for that matter, has little effect on vampires (although vampires can be drowned).

Vampires prey on virginal women
Source: a reflection of Victorian-era fears over the sexual awakening of young women.
Fact: while vampires have a stated preference for the taste of young blood, they are not particular as to which gender provides it.

Vampires can fly
Source: observation of leaping vampires; association of vampires with bats.
Fact: while they do possess extraordinary leaping ability (vampires have been observed leaping over fences 20 feet high), vampires cannot fly.

Vampires turn into bats
Source: association of vampires with bats.
Fact: no, vampires cannot turn into bats.

Vampires are not visible in mirrors
Source: Christian religion. It was thought that a vampire, or any creature lacking a soul, would not produce a reflection in a mirror.
Fact: vampires are visible in mirrors, although interestingly enough, they are often quite discomfited by their own reflections.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Top 10 Haunting Halloween Cocktails

From Colleen Graham

A lot of what makes Halloween what it is is the creation of a spooky atmosphere and anything and everything involved in a party can be converted from mundane to eerie very easily. Cocktails are no different. These haunting drinks are great ghastly additions to the Halloween theme: some are black as night while others have mysterious creatures hiding in the depths, all are a lot of fun.

1) Black Martini
Black is the signature color for All Hallows Eve so why not make your Martini match the occasion? If black raspberry or blackberry flavors are not your thing, try a regular Vodka Martini made with Blavod (a black vodka).

2) Dracula's Kiss
Here's a highball straight from Dracula's lips to yours. The red and black layers recreate the frightening atmosphere of a castle deep in Transylvania. At the door of this fortress smooth flavors of black cherry cola greet you and are accented with sweet grenadine that surges from the depths of the concoction.

3) Devil's Punch
Devilishly delectable, Devil's Punch is an indulgence one can't afford to miss. You can easily convert this recipe into a serving size for your whole party by keeping the ratios and serving it in a punch bowl.

4) Black Cat
Notoriously if a Black Cat crosses your path you had best be prepared for some bad things to come your way. Not so here. This hauntingly pleasing cocktail will have you looking around every corner in pursuit of the Black Cat and its cranberry-cherry cola flavors.

5) Ghostbuster
Boo! There's a ghost in your drink! Sure to be the hit of the party, this cocktail has a white ghost (Irish cream) floating inside an ectoplasmic mix of peach and melon liqueurs. It's fun and tasty, what more could one ask for?

6) Corpse Reviver
This cocktail is sure to wake the dead. The stunning combination of apple brandy and regular brandy with a hint of sweet vermouth make an excellent compliment to any spooky scene.

7) Vampire
Typically vampires are not to be messed with but in this instance you will be lured into submission. The blend of black raspberry and cranberry flavors are just as captivating as Dracula himself.

8) Zombie
You will be a Zombie if you have had one too many of these cocktails. The potent potable in question is a high-powered mix of three rums, the killer being a shot of high-proof rum. Masking all this intensity are some sweet flavors that can deceive you into drinking more than you should. Proceed with caution!

9) Swamp Water Surprise
Mysteries are hidden in the murky depths of this spooky cocktail. While it may not be the prettiest looking drink at the party it will turn some heads, just hope it's not Exorcist style.

10) Frog in a Blender
If you want a drink with unknown objects floating in it, here it is. Blending the ingredients for only a few seconds creates the look of a horrifying witch's brew complete with pieces and parts of green swamp creatures.

Friday, October 27, 2006

One Hundred Rules for NASA Project Managers

By Altis

The Project Manager

Rule #1: A project manager should visit everyone who is building anything for his project at least once, should know all the managers on his project (both government and contractor), and know the integration team members. People like to know that the project manager is interested in their work and the best proof is for the manager to visit them and see first hand what they are doing.

Rule #2: A project manager must know what motivates the project contractors (i.e., their award system, their fiscal system, their policies, and their company culture).

Rule #3: Management principles still are the same. It is just that the tools have changed. You still find the right people to do the work and get out of the way so they can do it.

Rule #4: Whoever you deal with, deal fairly. Space is not a big playing field. You may be surprised how often you have to work with the same people. Better they respect you than carry a grudge.

Rule #5: Vicious, despicable, or thoroughly disliked persons, gentlemen, and ladies can be project managers. Lost souls, procrastinators, and wishy-washies cannot.

Rule #6: A comfortable project manager is one waiting for his next assignment or one on the verge of failure. Security is not normal to project management.

Rule #7: One problem new managers face is that everyone wants to solve their problems. Old managers were told by senior management—"solve your own darn problems, that is what we hired you to do."

Rule #8: Running fast does not take the place of thinking for yourself. You must take time to smell the roses. For your work, you must take time to understand the consequences of your actions.

Rule #9: The boss may not know how to do the work but he has to know what he wants. The boss had better find out what he expects and wants if he doesn't know. A blind leader tends to go in circles.

Rule #10: Not all successful managers are competent and not all failed managers are incompetent. Luck still plays a part in success or failure but luck favors the competent hard working manager.

Rule #11: Never try to get even for some slight by anyone on the project. It is not good form and it puts you on the same level as the other person and, besides, probably ends up hurting the project getting done.

Rule #12: Don't get too egotistical so that you can't change your position, especially if your personnel tell you that you are wrong. You should cultivate an attitude on the project where your personnel know they can tell you of wrong decisions.

Rule #13: A manager who is his own systems engineer or financial manager is one who will probably try to do open heart surgery on himself.

Rule #14: Most managers succeed on the strength and skill of their staff.

Initial Work

Rule #15: The seeds of problems are laid down early. Initial planning is the most vital part of a project. The review of most failed projects or project problems indicate the disasters were well planned to happen from the start.


Rule #16: Cooperative efforts require good communications and early warning systems. A project manager should try to keep his partners aware of what is going on and should be the one who tells them first of any rumor or actual changes in plan. The partners should be consulted before things are put in final form, even if they only have a small piece of the action. A project manager who blindsides his partners will be treated in kind and will be considered a person of no integrity.

Rule #17: Talk is not cheap; but the best way to understand a personnel or technical problem is to talk to the right people. Lack of talk at the right levels is deadly.

Rule #18: Most international meetings are held in English. This is a foreign language to most participants such as Americans, Germans, Italians, etc. It is important to have adequate discussions so that there are no misinterpretations of what is said.

Rule #19: You cannot be ignorant of the language of the area you manage or with that of areas with which you interface. Education is a must for the modern manager. There are simple courses available to learn computerese, communicationese and all the rest of the modern "ese's" of the world. You can't manage if you don't understand what is being said or written.


Rule #20: You cannot watch everything. What you can watch is the people. They have to know you will not accept a poor job.

Rule #21: We have developed a set of people whose self interest is more paramount than the work or at least it appears so to older managers. It appears to the older managers that the newer ones are more interested in form than in substance. The question is are old managers right or just old? Consider both viewpoints.

Rule #22: A good technician, quality inspector, and straw boss are more important in obtaining a good product than all the paper and reviews.

Rule #23: The source of most problems is people, but darned if they will admit it. Know the people working on your project to know what the real weak spots are.

Rule #24: One must pay close attention to workaholics—if they get going in the wrong direction, they can do a lot of damage in a short time. It is possible to overload them and cause premature burnout but hard to determine if the load is too much, since much of it is self generated. It is important to make sure such people take enough time off and that the workload does not exceed 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 times what is normal.

Rule #25: Always try to negotiate your internal support at the lowest level. What you want is the support of the person doing the work, and the closer you can get to him in negotiations the better.

Rule #26: If you have someone who doesn't look, ask, and analyze; ask them to transfer.

Rule #27: Personal time is very important. You must be careful as a manager that you realize the value of other people's time (i.e., the work you hand out and meetings should be necessary). You must, where possible, shield your staff from unnecessary work (i.e., some requests should be ignored or a refusal sent to the requestor).

Rule #28: People who monitor work and don't help get it done never seem to know exactly what is going on (being involved is the key to excellence).

Rule #29: There is no greater motivation than giving a good person his piece of the puzzle to control, but a pat on the back or an award helps.

Rule #30: It is mainly the incompetent that don't like to show off their work.

Rule #31: There are rare times when only one man can do the job. These are in technical areas that are more art and skill than normal. Cherish these people, but get their work done as soon as possible. Getting the work done by someone else takes two or three times longer and the product is normally below standard.

Rule #32: People have reasons for doing things the way they do them. Most people want to do a good job and, if they don't, the problem is they probably don't know how or exactly what is expected.

Rule #33: If you have a problem that requires additional people to solve, you should approach putting people on like a cook who has under-salted the food.

Reviews and Reports

Rule #34: NASA has established a set of reviewers and a set of reviews. Once firmly established, the system will fight to stay alive, so make the most of it. Try to find a way for the reviews to work for you.

Rule #35: The number of reviews is increasing but the knowledge transfer remains the same; therefore, all your charts and presentation material should be constructed with this fact in mind. This means you should be able to construct a set of slides that only needs to be shuffled from presentation to presentation.

Rule #36: Hide nothing from the reviewers. Their reputation and yours is on the line. Expose all the warts and pimples. Don't offer excuses—just state facts.

Rule #37: External reviews are scheduled at the worst possible time, therefore, keep an up-to-date set of business and technical data so that you can rapidly respond. Not having up-to-date data should be cause for dismissal.

Rule #38: Never undercut your staff in public (i.e., In public meetings, don't reverse decisions on work that you have given them to do). Even if you direct a change, never take the responsibility for implementing away from your staff.

Rule #39: Reviews are for the reviewed an not the reviewer. The review is a failure if the reviewed learn nothing from it.

Rule #40: A working meeting has about six people attending. Meetings larger than this are for information transfer (management science has shown that, in a group greater than twelve, some are wasting their time).

Rule #41: The amount of reviews and reports are proportional to management's understanding (i.e., the less management knows or understands the activities, the more they require reviews and reports). It is necessary in this type of environment to make sure that data is presented so that the average person, slightly familiar with activities, can understand it. Keeping the data simple and clear never insults anyone's intelligence.

Rule #42: Managers who rely only on the paperwork to do the reporting of activities are known failures.

Rule #43: Documentation does not take the place of knowledge. There is a great difference in what is supposed to be, what is thought to have happened, and reality. Documents are normally a static picture in time that get outdated rapidly.

Rule #44: Just because you give monthly reports, don't think that you can abbreviate anything in a yearly report. If management understood the monthlies, they wouldn't need a yearly.

Rule #45: Abbreviations are getting to be a pain. Each project now has a few thousand. This calls on senior management to know hundreds. Use them sparingly in presentations unless your objective is to confuse.

Rule #46: Remember, it is often easier to do foolish paperwork that to fight the need for it. Fight only if it is a global issue which will save much future work.

Contractors and Contracting

Rule #47: A project manager is not the monitor of the contractor's work but is to be the driver. In award fee situations, the government personnel should be making every effort possible to make sure the contractor gets a high score (i.e., be on schedule and produce good work). Contractors don't fail, NASA does and that is why one must be proactive in support. This is also why a low score damages the government project manager as much as the contractor's manager because it means that he is not getting the job done.

Rule #48: Award fee is a good tool that puts discipline both on the contractor and the government. The score given represents the status of the project as well as the management skills of both parties. The project management measurement system (PMS) should be used to verify the scores. Consistent poor scores require senior management intervention to determine the reason. Consistent good scores which are consistent with PMS reflect a well-run project, but if these scores are not consistent with the PMS, senior management must take action to find out why.

Rule #49: Morale of the contractor's personnel is important to a government manager. Just as you don't want to buy a car built by disgruntled employees, you don't want to buy flight hardware developed by under- motivated people. You should take an active role in motivating all personnel on the project.

Rule #50: Being friendly with a contractor is fine—being a friend of a contractor is dangerous to your objectivity.

Rule #51: Remember, your contractor has a tendency to have a one-on-one interface with your staff. Every member of your staff costs you at least one person on the contract per year.

Rule #52: Contractors tend to size up the government counterparts and staff their part of the project accordingly. If they think yours are clunkers, they will take their poorer people to put on your project.

Rule #53: Contractors respond well to the customer that pays attention to what they are doing but not too well to the customer that continually second-guesses their activity. The basic rule is a customer is always right but the cost will escalate if a customer always has things done his way instead of how the contractor planned on doing it. The ground rule is: never change a contractor's plans unless they are flawed or too costly (i.e., the old saying that better is the enemy of good).

Rule #54: There is only one solution to a weak project manager in industry—get rid of him fast. The main job of a project manager in industry is to keep the customer happy. Make sure the one working with you knows that it is not flattery but on-schedule, on-cost, and a good product that makes you happy.

Engineers and Scientists

Rule #55: Over-engineering is common. Engineers like puzzles and mazes. Try to make them keep their designs simple.

Rule #56: The first sign of trouble comes from the schedule or the cost curve. Engineers are the last to know they are in trouble. Engineers are born optimists.

Rule #57: The project has many resources within itself. There probably are five or ten system engineers considering all the contractors and instrument developers. This is a powerful resource that can be used to attack problems.

Rule #58: Many managers, just because they have the scientists under contract on their project, forget that the scientists are their customers and many times have easier access to top management than the managers do.

Rule #59: Most scientists are rational unless you endanger their chance to do their experiment. They will work with you if they believe you are telling them the truth. This includes reducing their own plans.


Rule #60: In the space business, there is no such thing as previously flown hardware. The people who build the next unit probably never saw the previous unit. There are probably minor changes (perhaps even major changes); the operational environment has probably changed; the people who check the unit out in most cases will not understand the unit or the test equipment.

Rule #61: Most equipment works as built, not as the designer planned. This is due to layout of the design, poor understanding on the designer's part, or poor understanding of component specifications.

Computers and Software

Rule #62: Not using modern techniques, like computer systems, is a great mistake, but forgetting that the computer simulates thinking is a still greater mistake.

Rule #63: Software has now taken on all the parameters of hardware (i.e., requirement creep, high percentage of flight mission cost, need for quality control, need for validation procedures, etc.). It has the added feature that it is hard as blazes to determine it is not flawed. Get the basic system working first and then add the bells and whistles. Never throw away a version that works even if you have all the confidence in the world that the newer version works. It is necessary to have contingency plans for software.

Rule #64: Knowledge is often revised by simulations or testing, but computer models have hidden flaws not the least of which is poor input data.

Rule #65: In olden times, engineers had hands-on experience, technicians understood how the electronics worked and what it was supposed to do, and layout technicians knew too—but today only the computer knows for sure and it's not talking.

Senior Management, Program Offices, and Above

Rule #66: Don't assume you know why senior management has done something. If you feel you need to know, ask. You get some amazing answers that will astonish you.

Rule #67: Know your management—some like a good joke, others only like a joke if they tell it.

Rule #68: Remember the boss has the right to make decisions. Even if you think they are wrong, tell the boss what you think but if he still wants it done his way; do it his way and do your best to make sure the outcome is successful.

Rule #69: Never ask management to make a decision that you can make. Assume you have the authority to make decisions unless you know there is a document that states unequivocally that you can't.

Rule #70: You and the Program Manager should work as a team. The Program Manager is your advocate at NASA HQ and must be tied into the decision makers and should aid your efforts to be tied in also.

Rule #71: Know who the decision makers on the program are. It may be someone outside who has the ear of Congress or the Administrator, or the Associate Administrator, or one of the scientists—someone in the chain of command—whoever they are. Try to get a line of communication to them on a formal or informal basis.

Program Planning, Budgeting, and Estimating

Rule #72: Today one must push the state of the art, be within budget, take risks, not fail, and be on time. Strangely, all these are consistent as long as the ground rules such as funding profile and schedule are established up front and maintained.

Rule #73: Most of yesteryear's projects overran because of poor estimates and not because of mistakes. Getting better estimates will not lower costs but will improve NASA's business reputation. Actually, there is a high probability that getting better estimates will increase costs and assure a higher profit to industry unless the fee is reduced to reflect lower risk on the part of industry. A better reputation is necessary in the present environment.

Rule #74: All problems are solvable in time, so make sure you have enough schedule contingency—if you don't, the next project manager that takes your place will.

Rule #75: The old NASA pushed the limits of technology and science; therefore, it did not worry about requirements creep or overruns. The new NASA has to work as if all projects are fixed price; therefore, requirement creep has become a deadly sin.

Rule #76: Know the resources of your center and, if possible, other centers. Other centers, if they have the resources , are normally happy to help. It is always surprising how much good help one can get by just asking.

Rule #77: Other than budget information prior to the President's submittal to Congress, there is probably no secret information on a project—so don't treat anything like it is secret. Everyone does better if they can see the whole picture so don't hide any of it from anyone.

Rule #78: NASA programs compete for budget funds—they do not compete with each other (i.e., you never attack any other program or NASA work with the idea that you should get their funding). Sell what you have on its own merit.

Rule #79: Next year is always the year with adequate funding and schedule. Next year arrives on the 50th year of your career.

The Customer

Rule #80: Remember who the customer is and what his objectives are (i.e., check with him when you go to change anything of significance).

NASA Management Instructions

Rule #81: NASA Management Instructions were written by another NASA employee like you; therefore, challenge them if they don't make sense. It is possible another NASA employee will rewrite them or waive them for you.

Decision Making

Rule #82: Wrong decisions made early can be recovered from. Right decisions made late cannot correct them.

Rule #83: Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. It is also occasionally the best help you can give. Just listening is all that is needed on many occasions. You may be the boss, but if you constantly have to solve someone's problems, you are working for him.

Rule #84: Never make a decision from a cartoon. Look at the actual hardware or what real information is available such as layouts. Too much time is wasted by people trying to cure a cartoon whose function is to explain the principle.

Professional Ethics and Integrity

Rule #85: Integrity means your subordinates trust you.

Rule #86: In the rush to get things done, it's always important to remember who you work for. Blindsiding the boss will not be to your benefit in the long run.

Project Management and Teamwork

Rule #87: Projects require teamwork to succeed. Remember, most teams have a coach and not a boss, but the coach still has to call some of the plays.

Rule #88: Never assume someone knows something or has done something unless you have asked them; even the obvious is overlooked or ignored on occasion, especially in a high stress activity.

Rule #89: Whoever said beggars can't be choosers doesn't understand project management, although many times it is better to trust to luck than to get poor support.

Rule #90: A puzzle is hard to discern from just one piece; so don't be surprised if team members deprived of information reach the wrong conclusion.

Rule #91: Remember, the President, Congress, OMB, NASA HQ, senior center management, and your customers all have jobs to do. All you have to do is keep them all happy.

Treating and Avoiding Failures

Rule #92: In case of a failure:
a) Make a timeline of events and include everything that is known.
b) Put down known facts. Check every theory against them.
c) Don't beat the data until it confesses (i.e., know when to stop trying to force-fit a scenario).
d) Do not arrive at a conclusion too fast. Make sure any deviation from normal is explained. Remember the wrong conclusion is prologue to the next failure.
e) Know when to stop.

Rule #93: Things that fail are lessons learned for the future. Occasionally things go right: these are also lessons learned. Try to duplicate that which works.

Rule #94: Mistakes are all right but failure is not. Failure is just a mistake you can't recover from; therefore, try to create contingency plans and alternate approaches for the items or plans that have high risk.

Rule #95: History is prologue. There has not been a project yet that has not had a parts problem despite all the qualification and testing done on parts. Time and being prepared to react are the only safeguards.

Rule #96: Experience may be fine but testing is better. Knowing something will work never takes the place of proving that it will.

Rule #97: Don't be afraid to fail or you will not succeed, but always work at your skill to recover. Part of that skill is knowing who can help.

Rule #98: One of the advantages of NASA in the early days was the fact that everyone knew that the facts we were absolutely sure of could be wrong.

Rule #99: Redundancy in hardware can be a fiction. We are adept at building things to be identical so that if one fails, the other will also fail. Make sure all hardware is treated in a build as if it were one of a kind and needed for mission success.

Rule #100: Never make excuses; instead, present plans of actions to be taken.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Top Ten Security Tips For Halloween

By: Lonny

With autumn comes a time to relax and start enjoying quality family time. Halloween is one of those special occasions where parents and children can share unique and magical moments.

People are getting more concerned with potential threat and want to assure the maximal security for their loved ones.

Allow me to review with you the top ten recommendations to insure that you and your family spend a happy and safe Halloween. You can make a game or reviewing these recommendations with your children. Let\'s say they get one point for every recommendation they can guess or they can draw the recommendation they liked the most and you can post it on your refrigerator.

By observing these simple recommendations, you will be able to enjoy a fun and safe Halloween. Remember it is allowed for parents to disguise themselves as they are passing Halloween with their children. Although your children will pretend to be embarrassed about the fact that you are wearing a costume, they will secretly think you are the coolest parent. Just don\'t expect them to say it out loud to you!

Here are the top ten tips for a safe and fun Halloween, in random order:

1) It is better to wear make-up than wearing a mask, the visibility can be greatly reduced when wearing a mask, especially if the mask is not a perfect fit for the child.

2) It is always better to pass Halloween with an adult. This parent can stay in the street and will be very helpful to carry the extra bags. Seriously, in case of emergencies, an adult carrying a cellular phone can be of great help.

3) Wearing a bright costume is highly recommended. Although a black, dark costume can have its effect it can easily be missed out by passing cars. A costume in which it is easy to walk is also highly recommended. Smaller children tend to get tired fast at Halloween and can tumble and fall if their costume is too long.

4) Carrying a flashlight or a fluorescent necklace can be very handy and will make children more visible upon walking the streets in Halloween.

5) A child should never pass Halloween alone. Furthermore, even though most people are trustworthy, children should be informed to never go into any house upon Halloween night.

6) Upon passing Halloween, street signalization should still be respected. It is highly recommended to only cross streets at intersections and waiting for cars to go by. After all, although your children are wearing Superman and Spiderman costumes, this does not make then invincible against a car hit.

7) Reinforce to your children that they should never get into a vehicle unless it is yours.

8) When your children arrive from their Halloween treasure hunt, check their candies with them making certain that none contain suspicious matters. Most children will naturally limit themselves to a certain amount of candies. It is somewhat recommended to supervise their ingestion of candies so they don\'t get carried away and end-up regretting it.

9) It is recommended, upon passing Halloween in one street, to do one side and then the other. This way, the children only get to cross the street once, thus limiting the dangers.

10) If your children are older and want to pass Halloween in group and have forbidden you to tag along (it can happen), make sure you know their route and what time they plan on returning. In our modern days too, it is very easy to trust your children with a cell phone and keep contact this way. You do have to remind them to turn it on before leaving…

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Top Ten Dumbest Secret Identities

Article by Michael McDaniel

One thing that always gets to people who haven’t read comics before is the superhero genre’s use of the secret identity. They are used to secret identities for spies, a profession that specifically requires the need to be in the shadows and out of the limelight, but for superheroes, who constantly find themselves the center of the public’s attention, the idea of a secret identity defies their expectations. This is especially true of those heroes who wear little to no mask.

Yet the secret identity is a staple, and one that was created to help suspend disbelief for another staple, vigilantism. The secret identity has been under attack for a while now from within the comic world. Heroes are revealing themselves to the world (and we will no longer accept the extreme, note absurd, lengths writers will go to reverse the outing), but there are a few superheroes who have only hurt the cause of the secret identity over the years. These few, that have done so much to push away those unimaginative masses unable to suspend their disbelief any farther, are now named here in the Top Ten Dumbest Secret Identities.

10. Edward E. Nigma (Riddler) –

No one said that villains can’t be on this list, and there are certainly several on here, but the Riddler is acting as a representative of all those secret identities that are just too witty for their own good. The man’s name is ‘Enigma’ and is such a horrible pun that even as an eleven year old kid I hated it. A lot of the character’s problem’s now stem from his constantly shifting portrayal within the different Batman books. One book he’s a reformed P.I., the next he’s the ultra-campy Riddler of Frank Gorshin fame, and then he’s the creepy, insane Riddler of comic yore. This is within the same three month span too, pick a personality already!

9. Bruce Banner (Hulk) –

I struggled with the idea of putting him on here, but I couldn’t resist. I hate on Hulk/Banner a lot, but it is criticism born of my love for the character. The idea that Bruce Banner wouldn’t be a readily recognizable persona in the Marvel Universe is beyond inane, yet he isn't. The Hulk has been ‘rampaging’ across the globe for a long time for people to not know who Bruce Banner is. Oh, most people certainly know who his name but wouldn’t they have his face posted EVERYWHERE: “If you see this man then back up slowly without any sudden movements or irritable noises.”

8. Tony Stark (Iron Man) –

This is really one of the oddest stories in the history of secret identities. Iron Man has revealed his secret identity so many times over the years that any emotional or dramatic impact it might have had is now lost. Time and again Tony has had to have either a remote controlled Iron Man suit or his friend Rhodes act as Iron Man so that he can ‘re-prove’ his secret identity. It got old before it was even used.

The idea that he would pose as his own bodyguard is just silly. If it is illegal to do what he does then why is it suddenly more acceptable if the person doing it is a bodyguard? “No it’s ok officer, I’m a bodyguard. I watched an important training video at bodyguard school, just stand back.” What a pompous ass.

7. Sunspot from the future (Reignfire) –

Oy, this one is a bit more personal, I’ll admit that, but the horrible way it was handled had me pretty vexed. I hate being vexed. The story goes that Sunspot, real name Roberto, had developed an evil persona, or some such nonsense, that caused him to become the evil Reignfire. Cable went into his brain and shut the bad part down. End of story, and while it wasn’t that great it at least got the job done without too much confusion. This was Fabian Nicieza’s story and it was to be ended there.

Then John Francis Moore came in and mucked it all up. Reignfire was ‘discovered’ (retconed) to be a cellular construct that just happened to pattern itself after Supspot. To explain the already established ‘evil persona’ story, Moore created a mental link between the two. What a mess. Fortunately for all involved, Reignfire soon died off as most fans had had enough of that kind of goofy bullsh!t.

6. Prince Adam (He-man) –

In the beginning, there was He-Man, a master of the universe, and all was well. Then some twit thought it a good idea to give He-Man a secret identity, as if one was needed! What the hell did He-Man need to keep secret? He lived in a giant freaking castle and rode around on a green tiger! He was a master of the universe and didn’t need to hide from anyone.

Prince Adam was to become the secret identity of He-Man, and he would hold up his sword to become He-Man, later copied by Thundercats. This is an obvious case of someone burdening a perfectly fine character with attributes it doesn’t need. A secret identity for a roaming barbarian badass in the world of He-Man just doesn’t make sense. Like a Rolls Royce dealership in Lubbock, TX.

5. Logan/James (Wolverine) –

I’m so sick of all the continuity wrangling, flashback craze, and memory implant stupidity. Wolverine’s origin story was decent. Then we get a muddled and overly complex addition from
Daniel Way
, all for a book called Wolverine: Origins yet isn’t really about his origins so much as just his past.

Wolverine was a samurai, a black ops agent, an abused experiment, an X-Men, a lumberjack, and has had more wives than most Saudi princes, not to mention two kids. So much of the past has been retconed as fake that I’ve long ago lost track of what was real or not. I honestly stopped caring too. I don’t care about his past. I don’t care if he has one or not.

4. Magneto/Xorn Fiasco –

This is a similar story to the Sunspot one. Xorn was created by Grant Morrison and was always intended to be a cover for Magneto to infiltrate the X-Men for nefarious purposes. While I personally didn’t like this idea, it did make a modicum of sense and was at least plain to see that it had been the plan from the start.

Then an odd series of things happened as various writers were allowed to come in and make some random sh!t up. For one, Chuck Austen (I think) created a brother for Xorn because he liked the character that much. Well, if Xorn was really just a cover for Magneto then why the hell would he have a brother? And does anyone really want a weak copycat character? No.

Then it gets even worse. Brian Bendis recently has shown that Xorn was, in fact, really Xorn and not Magneto. He just used the persona of Magneto in hopes of uniting the mutant population. Xorn is now a bodiless spirit that is the collected consciousness controlling the leftover energies from the de-powered mutants. Got it? Yeah me neither and that’s why it’s a fiasco. The Morrison tale couldn’t be read any other way than with Xorn as a cover for Magneto. It was a good character but bringing him back in such trite fashion does no one any good.

3. Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) –

This secret identity has only recently become a problem. Green Arrow is DC’s Robin Hood persona who’s always had a leftists/anti-authority spin, fine so far. Then Oliver Queen ran for and won the position of Mayor for Star City. As the picture shows, Oliver Queen is the only man in the entire world who has a beard like that. He’s been protecting the streets of Star City as the Green Arrow for a longtime now, doesn’t anyone see the resemblance! How does he get away with it! I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

2. Billy Batson (Captain Marvel) –

Billy Batson has grown up to become 14 or so, but he was originally a little kid. I’m talking six or seven here who had been transformed by the wizard Shazam into Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel is a Superman-esque hero and really doesn’t have much going for him beyond his little transformation trick from small kid into large, hulking man and back again. I’m sure it’s a great party trick, oh, the kid is SEVEN and he won’t be going to any parties. When he’s Captain Marvel he tends to act like an innocent adult, hmm, sounds a lot like Superman?

Maybe it was a decent idea in the 30’s when kids were stupid and played stickball in the streets, but nowadays kids need a little more. And no adult is going to identify with a seven year old. A realistic use of his powers would be for Billy to sneak into titty bars or rated R movies, not fight crime.

1. Clark Kent (Superman) –

Like so many of the number ones on my list, they are pretty obvious. Any comic fan not living in a fanboy echo chamber will have at least one friend who’ll complain about the ridiculous secret identity between Clark Kent and Superman. While Frank Quitely may do a decent job of covering it up in All-Star Superman, the fact remains that it is an anachronistic concept. People would notice the similarities and catch on.

As one of the most well known superheroes ever, it is a more a phenomenon that so many people have gotten over the absurdity of his identity than it is a wonder that Superman hasn’t shunted his Kent persona. By this point, it has become tradition for tradition’s sake and DC is more afraid of pissing off the die-hards who spend hundreds a year on Superman crap than actually take the risk of changing the character for the better.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ten things you shouldn't buy new

Why waste money on shiny packaging and a fancy store when you can find it online and 'pre-owned' for a fraction of the cost? Here are your best buys.

By Liz Pulliam Weston

Few people really enjoy wasting their hard-earned money, but many of us do it every day by buying new. We could do our pocketbooks, and the environment, a big favor by opting to be the second owner of some of the stuff we buy.

Obviously, some things are best purchased new; lingerie pops to mind (see my companion piece, "10 things you should never buy used" for more). But lots of other stuff depreciates quickly while still having plenty of useable life left. Here are 10 items where the cost vs. use equation strongly tilts toward buying used.

Books, books, books. Now this is awkward, because I wrote a book. (Warning! Shameless plug ahead!) It's called, "Your Credit Score: How to Fix, Improve and Protect the 3-Digit Number that Shapes Your Financial Future," and of course, I'd love for you to go out and purchase a new copy. (End of shameless plug.)

But the reality is that most books don't get read more than once, if that, and they're astonishingly easy to find used at steep discounts -- if not absolutely free.

Your local library, for example, may allow you to reserve titles online and then deliver them to your nearest branch for pick-up. Used book stores abound, both in your town and online. If you're looking for a potboiler to get you through your next cross-country flight, just stop by almost any yard sale and pick up four for $1.

Exception: Reference books you'll use again and again. For example, I bought a deeply-discounted copy of Cheryl Mendelson's excellent "Home Comforts." That was after checking the book out at the library and running up a small fortune in fines because I couldn't bear to part with it.

DVDs and CDs. Some online retailers, like MSN Shopping and Amazon.com, now surface used versions of many of the DVD movies they sell new. You can find similar deals for online CDs (yes, Virginia, some of us dinosaurs still buy CDs). Other good hunting grounds for purchase of used items: movie rental chains like Blockbuster; used record stores; yard sales.

Exception: When you simply must have the latest release by your favorite singer/director/actor, right now. It can take a few days or weeks for the used versions to show up, and perhaps a few months for the price to get discounted enough to compensate for the greater hassle you might face trying to return a defective or unsatisfactory purchase.

Little kids' toys. Parents know: it's all but impossible to predict which toy will be a hit and which will lie forlorn at the bottom of the toy box. So rather than gamble at full price, cruise consignment shops and yard sales for bargains. My husband's latest score: a plastic Push, Pedal 'N Ride Trike (retails for $28, he paid $10) that looks like new after a brief scrub.

Better than cheap, though, is free. Some parents set up regular toy-swapping meets, or you might be lucky enough to score hand-me-downs from friends and relatives.

Exception: Some parents get away with giving used toys for birthdays and holidays, but most of us (and our kids) have been fairly well brainwashed into believing that gifts should be purchased new. Try to opt, though, for classics, like sturdy wooden toys.

Jewelry. Fat markups on most gems (100% or more is fairly common) means that you'd be lucky to get one-third of what you paid at a retail store, should you ever need to sell.

So let somebody else get socked with that depreciation. Find a pawn shop that's been in business for awhile, get to know the owner and ask him or her for recommendations. Some readers have had good results buying via newspaper ads, but I'd want to take the piece to a jeweler for an appraisal first.

Exception: You want something custom-made. Even then, consider buying used stones and getting them reset.

Sports equipment. We may buy everything from badminton rackets to weight sets fully intending to wear them out, but too often they wind up collecting dust. Buy someone else's good intention and you'll save some bucks.

Happy hunting grounds: yard sales, newspaper and online ads, resale stores like Play It Again Sports.

Exception: Shoes, baseball mitts and anything else that will mold to the wearer's body. In addition, some people shun buying anything used if it has a motor, like a treadmill. They worry they won't get enough use out of the piece before it dies. Given how little use most such devices get before they're sold, though, you might want to take the chance.

Timeshares. You could call these a notoriously lousy investment if you could call them an investment at all, but you can't -- because what real investment is guaranteed to lose 30% to 70% right off the bat?

That is, unless you buy used. There's a huge number of folks who caved in to three hours of hard sell and are now desperate to dump their shares.

Exception: Some of the higher-end properties in exclusive resorts don't lose much value, and may offer benefits like frequent-flyer miles that could be worth the extra money if you buy from the developer. Before you buy, though, check resale values online; don't take an agent's word for how much depreciation to expect. Also, a relatively new type of expensive time share, called a fractional interest, may actually gain in value over time.

Cars. The average new car loses 12.2% of its value in the first year, according to Edmunds.com; on a $20,000 car, that's $2,440, or more than $200 a month. Some cars depreciate even faster, depending on demand, incentives offered and other factors.

Why not let someone else take that hit? Not only will you be able to save money (or buy more car), but you'll pay less for insurance. Cars are better-built and last longer than ever before, which means you're less likely to get a lemon. Companies like CarFax allow you to trace a car's history. Many late-model used cars are still under warranty, and a trusted mechanic can give your potential purchase the once-over to spot any problems. Take a look at the Used Car Research section of MSN Autos for a lot of great information.

Exception: You can pay cash and you really, really want that new-car smell.

Software and console games. Buy used, and you'll pay half or less what the software cost new. Console games like those for the Xbox and Sony PS2 that list for $50 new, for instance, can often be purchased used for $20 or less a year after release.

But it's more than just a matter of economy. Letting someone else be the early adopter also allows you to benefit from their experience. You'll find more reviews and information on software that's been out a year or more (and you won't be that far behind the leading edge). The bugs will have been identified along with any workarounds, although you may have to live with some problems that are fixed in later versions.

Exception: If you do a lot of work with graphics, multimedia or image editing and you have a newer, more powerful computer, you'll probably want the state-of-the-art version. Finally, some software restricts the number of computers on which it can be installed, which can make it difficult (but not impossible) to transfer the product license to a new owner.

Office furniture. Built to take a beating and last a lifetime, good-quality office desks, filing cabinets and credenzas are relatively easy to find even when a recession isn't cratering the local economy.

Exception: Some people balk at buying used chairs for the same reason they won't buy a used catcher's mitt -- it's had too many hours to mold to someone else's body.

Hand tools. Well-made tools with few or no moving parts -- like hammers, wrenches, shovels, hoes, etc. -- can last decades with proper maintenance and are relatively easy to find at yard sales. If you're not going to use a tool frequently, you may be able to rent it or borrow from a friend or neighbor rather than buying something else to clutter up your garage. (Some neighborhoods even run tool-sharing cooperatives.)

Exception: You're a hard-core do-it-yourselfer and you need power tools, especially cordless versions. These have a relatively limited life span and you may not know how much time they've got left. If the tool is cheap enough, of course, that may not matter, but most often you'll want to buy new if the power tool will get substantial use.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Top 13 Worlds Largest Diamonds

  1. KOH-I-NOOR ("Mountain of Light") is one of the worlds largest diamonds, it weighed in at 186 carats when it was first discovered *in 1304*. This oval shaped cut stone is believed to have been set in the famous peacock throne of Shah Jehan. Recut during the reign of Queen Victoria it now weighs 108 carats and forms part of the British Crown Jewels.
  2. Cullinan I - also known as The Star of Africa was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, owner of the mining company, and currently claims the title of largest cut diamond in the world. Of all the worlds largest diamonds Cullinan I is the largest. It was cut by Asscher in Amsterdam, weighs 530.20 carats, and has 74 facets. The Cullinan now resides in the Tower of London and is set in the sceptre of King Edward VII.
  3. The Excelsior *which means higher* is not only one of the worlds largest diamonds it is the second largest diamond ever found. It originally weighed 995.2 carats. The diamond was cut into ten pieces, the three largest weighing 158, 147 and 130 carats. These pieces were then cut into 21 gems ranging from 70 carats to less than 1 carat. An African mine worker found the diamond as he was loading his truck, he kept the find secret until he could safely turn it over to the mine manager who rewarded him with some money, a horse and a saddle.
  4. Orloff - the worlds third largest cut diamond weighs 194 carats. It was once one of the eyes of the idol Sheringham, in the temple of Brahma, later it was acquired by the Shah Nadir who desired to own one of the worlds largest diamonds. In 1775 it was given to Catherine II. of Russia by Grigori Orloff, one of her ex-lovers, and has been called the Orloff since then.
  5. The Great Mogul is one of the worlds largest diamonds. The rough diamond was discovered in the 17th century, weighed 793 carats and was named after Shah Jehan... builder of the Taj Mahal.
  6. The Idols Eye is a famous pear shaped diamond, its polished size weighing in at 70.20 carats makes it one of the worlds largest diamonds. The name of the stone comes from the legend claiming that the Sheik of Kahmir stole it from an idols eye to pay the Sultan of Turkey a ransom for Princess Rasheetah.
  7. Sefadu was found in Sierra Leonne in 1970 and is owned by American diamond company Lazare Kaplan. The uncut stone weighs 620 carats which easily makes it one of the worlds largest diamonds.
  8. The Centenary, was discovered at the Premier Mine of South Africa on the 17th of July 1986 and joined the ranks of the worlds largest diamonds, it weighed in at 599.10 carats in rough form. Master-cutter Gabi Tolkowsky took almost three years to complete its transformation into the world's largest, modern-cut flawless diamond. The Centenary has 75 facets on top, 89 on the bottom and 83 on the girdle, for a total of 247 facets. It weighs 273.85 carats and now forms part of the British Crown Jewels.
  9. The Premier Rose became one of the worlds largest diamonds when it was discovered in 1978. The diamond weighed 353.9 carats and was cut into three diamonds known as the Premier Rose family. All of them qualify to be one of the worlds largest diamonds. The largest of the three kept the name Premier Rose and now weighs 137.02 carats, is cut with 189 facets, and is the second largest pear shaped diamond in the world. It was sold in 1979 for $10,000,000.00.
  10. The Regent another of the worlds largest diamonds was discovered in 1701 by an Indian slave near Golconda, it weighed 410 carats in the rough. Once owned by William Pitt, the English Prime Minister, it was cut into a cushion shaped brilliant of 140.50 carats and, until it was sold to the Duke of Orleans, Regent of France when Louis XV was a boy in 1717, was called The Pitt. It was then renamed The Regent and set in the crown Louis XV wore at his coronation. After the French revolution, it was owned by Napoleon Bonaparte who set it in the hilt of his sword. It is now on display in the Louvre as one of the worlds largest diamonds.
  11. The Blue Hope another of the worlds largest diamonds was once owned by Louis XIV and officially designated the *blue diamond of the crown*. It was stolen during the French Revolution but showed up again in 1830 and was bought by Henry Philip Hope of London, the diamond was named after the new owner. The Blue Hope Diamond is believed to carry a curse, two of the owners had their entire family die just one year apart. It now resides in the Smithsonian in Washington where it is recognized as one of the worlds largest diamonds.
  12. The Sancy is named after one of its owners Seigneur de Sancy, a French Ambassador to Turkey in the late 16th century. It was first owned by Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who lost it in battle in 1477. He loaned it to the French king, Henry III, who wore it in the cap with which he concealed his baldness. Henry IV of France also borrowed the stone from Sancy, but it was sold in 1664 to James I of England. In 1688, James II, King of England, fled with it to Paris and it has never been found since. The Sancy weighed 55 carats making it one of the smallest of the worlds largest diamonds.
  13. The Taylor-Burton diamond was found in the Premier mine in 1966, the rough stone weighed 240.80 carats. The famous diamond was purchased by Harry Winston who commissioned the stone cleaved into two pieces, the larger piece weighed 162 carats and was eventually cut into a pear shaped 69.42 carat diamond. It was later auctioned for $1,050,000 and named the "Cartier". The diamond was then purchased by Richard Burton and given to Elizabeth Taylor and renamed the Taylor-Burton. In 1978, following her divorce from Richard Burton, Elizabeth put one of the worlds largest diamonds up for sale to raise funds for a hospital in Botswana. The current owner is Robert Mouawad, President of the Mouawad Group.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Biggest diamond out of this world

By Stephen Cauchi

Confirming what the Beatles always knew, astronomers have actually found a diamond in the sky - directly above Australia. It is the biggest known diamond in the universe, in fact.

According to American astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, a white dwarf star in the constellation of Centaurus, next to the Southern Cross, has been found to have a 3000-kilometre-wide core of crystallised carbon, or diamond.

It weighs 2.27 thousand trillion trillion tonnes - that's 10 billion trillion trillion carats, or a 1 followed by 34 zeroes. The biggest earthly jewel is one of the British crown jewels, the 530-carat Star of Africa.

However, this cosmic jewel is hidden beneath a layer of hydrogen and helium gases, with the diamond core making up between 50 and 90 per cent of its mass. "It's the mother of all diamonds," said astronomer Travis Metcalfe, who led the team of researchers that studied the star.

"Some people refer to it as Lucy, in a tribute to the Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."

Known officially as BPM 37093, the star confirms a theory, first raised in the early 1960s, that cool white dwarfs should have a diamond core.

A white dwarf is what small stars, those up to about the size of the sun, turn into when they run out of nuclear fuel and die.

The intense pressures at the heart of such dead stars compress the carbon into diamond.

But confirming this theory has only been possible recently.

Lucy "pulsates", which means its light fluctuates at regular intervals. "By measuring these pulsations, we were able to study the hidden interior of the white dwarf, just like seismograph measurements of earthquakes allow geologists to study the interior of the Earth," Dr Metcalfe said.

"We figured that the carbon interior of this white dwarf has solidified to form the galaxy's largest diamond."

This means that other white dwarfs must also have diamond cores. Our own sun will become a white dwarf when it dies in 5 billion years. Two billion years after that, its ember core will crystallise as well, leaving a giant diamond in the centre of our solar system.

Vince Ford, a research officer at Mount Stromlo Observatory near Canberra, said astronomers, including Australians, had observed the star for more than eight years.

The star is about 50 light years away (500 trillion kilometres) - a fair distance as far as stars go. This means it is about 400 times too faint to see with the naked eye.

This story was found here:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

How to become rich and wealthy


Money! Money is always a problem. We have bills, college, cars, food, houses, and more that we have to pay for. Just when one bill is paid, another comes floating in. It can be nerve wracking, especially when a family or individual is tight on money.

So how does one become rich when money is tight?


Time, patience, and sacrifice.

Oh, what, you wanted some secret formula to becoming a millionaire. Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but unless you become a celebrity, inherit your family’s fortune, or win the lottery, becoming a millionaire is going to take a little work.


Time plays a huge factor. How old are you? If you are 24, then your chances of becoming rich by the time your 40 or 50 is much higher then if you are now 40. There are so many opportunities when you are young to invest, save, and manage then when you are 40 or 50.

The type of job you have also plays a role. If you are only pulling in $18,000 a year, then your chances of becoming rich will be much harder then someone pulling in $50,000 a year.

The idea behind this article doesn’t have to do with the type of job you have, it has to do with what you can do with your current situation to start allowing you to accumulate some wealth.


A million bucks won’t fall in your lap tommorow. You have to set things in motion and let time pass to see the results.

There is a great article on discussing how to save money by bringing your lunch to work versus eating out everyday.

If you are like me, you eat out 3 times a week, sometimes more. Well, at $7 per lunch, thats $21 spent very quickly.

Hello, Dollar! wrote a great article entitled Brown-Bag It to Half a Million

Here is an excerpt:

Brown-Bag It to Half a Million

“One of the ways I save money is by bringing my lunch to work four days a week. I’ll treat myself to lunch out one day each week, for variety and to hang out with my co-workers. It’s amazing how much this helps me save, and all of it goes straight into our savings account (a.k.a. our future).

But it can’t really be that much, can it? After all, take-out lunches are pretty cheap. Well, that’s true, they are, but let’s just do the math for fun.

I work in downtown San Francisco. On average, when I buy lunch, I spend $7. This includes an occasional sit-down lunch, but usually I get something to go and bring it back to the office.

When I bring lunch from home, it costs an average of $2 for a sandwich (my favorite is peanut butter and jelly), yogurt, and fruit (hey, this lunch-bringing has the side benefit of also being healthy!). Drinks are provided by my employer, so I don’t need to worry about that.

So let’s see, four days bringing lunch at $2 plus one day out at $7 equals $15 per week. Eating out every day would cost $35 per week, so I save $20. $20 a week! That’s over $80 a month — that covers my utility bills right there. Who couldn’t use that?”

I recommend reading the full article.

Thinking about this from a monthly basis, $20 doesn’t seem like a whole lot. However, if you save $20 per week for 50 weeks, you are looking at $1000.

Taking the cheap route for food is just one of the many ways one can save money. Another food/money combo is when you go to shop.


In order to become rich, sacrifice is often one of the many methods to do it.

Let’s use the food/money combo again.

I would recommend going to Sam’s Club (for bulk purchases) or Walmart and buying non-name brand items. We are a very brand loyal and brand conscious society. However, by going with the store brand or some lesser known brand, you can often trim $0.50 to sometimes even $1 off individual items. Combine that with coupons when you can, and you can save quite a bit when grocery shopping. Again, short term, this doesn’t seem like alot of savings, but to become rich, you HAVE to think long term.

What about Smoking

You wanna save quite a bit of money per week, give those cigarettes a boot. There is absolutely no positive benefit that comes from a cigarette, whether its health or finances. Both drain you (physically, emotionally, and financially). You know that! Don’t play dumb.

The following example can be applied to ANYTHING you do in your life which is considered a waste of money, but I will use cigarettes as an example.

Your song walks up to you and asks you for a new bike. You reply with, “I’m sorry son, but we just don’t have the money right now”.

So the son is sad and walks away understanding that the family doesn’t have alot of money. Alot of families are in this position. However, how many families who are in low income brackets are smokers and drinkers? Specifically smoking. How many packs of cigarettes do you think the average parents go through in a week. Lets say the mother and father both smoke 1 pack a day. So 2 packs total per day.

According to Google Answers, the avg price per pack of cigarettes across all 50 states is $3.81

Ok, time for some math

$3.81 (price of a pack of cigarettes) X 2 (packs per day) = $7.62

That is PER DAY!

Ok, so we are talking about persistent smokers here. So lets do weekly, and it has to be 7 days a week because smokers don’t take days off.

$7.62 x 7 (days) = $53.34 / week

Time for the monthly expense

$53.34 x 4 (weeks) = $213.36

So, you are spending, per month, $213.36 give or take.

Now, lets try how much you spend in 1 year

$53.34 x 52 (weeks in a year) = $2773.68

So, if you are a consistent smoker and you or your family goes through only 2 packs per day, you are spending $2773.68 per year just on cigarettes which are going to kill you anyways.

So, when you look down at your son who wants a bike, something that will keep him active, healthy, and give him fun, and you say you don’t have the money, you really need to reassess you finances.

What about bills?

What type of things do you and the family spend money on? How many credit cards do you have?

My wife and I pay $65 give or take on our phone and DSL. The DSL is only $24.99, so we are forking out an additional $40 give or take just on our phone, which we rarely use. Granted, we have DSL, so we NEED a phone line, but there is no reason we should pay extra for things like Call Waiting, Caller ID, Long Distance because we typically spend our time on our Cell Phones. We could probably drop that bill to roughly $25-30 by stripping the extra’s out. That is an additional $120 per year.

What about credit cards?

Only spend the money that you actually HAVE. If you buy things on credit, your eventually going to get run over my the credit truck. College students are the most naive bunch of people on the planet and the easiest target when it comes to credit card companies. They offer you plenty of benefits for buying the credit cards, but they don’t teach you how to properly use them. So many students walk out of college $20,000 in debt.

The best advice is to get the extra cards you have paid off, and stick with only having 1 card for the whole family. Then, when you HAVE to use a credit card, only use it in emergencies. Get a Debit / Check card, that way, anything you pay for is based on money YOU ACTUALLY HAVE in your account.

My wife and I consistently get our credit card balances in the mail and they are $0, because we only use them in situations where our debit card will not cover the charge.

It IS good for your credit to have 1 credit card. Then, once a month, make a small purchase ($25-$50) and pay it off when the bill comes. This will show the credit card companies that you are paying off your card and your credit score will slowly increase.

Do you go out to movies often?

If your state is like ours, to attend an after 5pm movie, for two people, the cost is roughly $19. Throw in a couple drinks, some candy, and a popcorn, and you are looking at $35 give or take just for night at the movies.

Do this 3 times a month, and you are looking at $105 per month. The is just for 2 people. Include a family, and the price skyrockets.

Designate, 1 time a month, a movie night where the family goes to a movie. If you go to a movie BEFORE 5pm, you typically can save about $3 per ticket.

If you can get away with it, stop by a local convienence store prior to the movie and grab a few drinks and candy, then hide them while entering the theatre. This will save you roughly $15 just in food. Note: The above advice might be against theatre rules, so use at your own discretion. I take no responsibility if you get in trouble


If possible, turn off lights when they are not needed. In fact, try to use the natural daylight for your light source until you must turn on lights. Electricity often is a troubling bill for any household, you might as well try and cut it down when possible.

This goes for running water as well. Try to run water ONLY when necessary. When you water your lawn, water it around 5 or 6pm when the sun is going down. If you water it during the middle of the day, the water will most likely evaporate before it can have any positive effect on your grass.


Just shedding bills, turning off lights, cutting down credit cards, and going to the movies once a month won’t necessarily get you “in the money”.

You have to invest your money. Alot of the money you SAVE doing the above examples should then be invested into either a savings account, mutual fund, or stocks and bonds. Let that money you have saved by cutting down on expenses be given an avenue to grow. Savings accounts typically have a low rate of growth, but they do give you more when its all said and done then what you put in. Stocks and bonds are always good for investments, but you must make sure you know what you are investing in. Never hop into a stock that is mentioned by a friend. Research yourself. Make sure you understand the company and what their future looks like. If you go for a mutual fund, make sure you find a trustworthy and reliable company to go through. With many mutual funds, you are telling someone what kind of value you want out of it, and then its THEIR job to buy and sell small bits of stock here and there to make your mutual fund grow. Several times a month, analyze your mutual fund and watch its growth and potential. If you don’t feel comfortable with the direction its taking, then speak with your broker to re-assess your current standings.

A good $20,000 investment into a mutual fund could possible have rewards of $500,000 in 20-30 years.

The key to investments, though, is to put your money in them and then walk away for a long period of time. The idea is to not invest and then pull the money out in 2 years.

Remember, saving money takes time, patience, and sacrifice to see the ultimate rewards.

I heard a story one time of a waitress who became a millionaire simply because she was so strict on how she spent money and what she invested in. If a waitress can accomplish that status, pretty much ANYONE can.

In Conclusion

To become rich, you have to take the time to understand what your financial status is, where you can save, where you can sacrifice, and then you have to be patient and wait. Waiting takes years, not months nor minutes.

Following the above is not a step by step process on how to become rich. It merely acts as advice or methods that can aid one looking to increase their ultimate net worth.

In summary:

  • Bring your lunch 4 times a week, and then eat out 1 time a week

  • Buy groceries in bulk and buy off-brand named items

  • Quit Smoking! Plain and simple.

  • Strip out bills you don’t need. Stop paying extra for things you barely use or do.

  • Go out to the movies 1 time a month. Take food and drinks from home or a convenience store if possible (note: use precaution, as I take no responsibility if you get in trouble)

  • Pay off your credit card bills and then leave yourself only 1 card. Use Debit/Check cards when possible.

  • Turn off lights when possible. Use water only when needed.

  • Invest extra money you have. Whether its savings, mutual funds, or stocks and bonds. Invest it!

I cannot stress enough the issue of investing your money. I am 24, and our parents when they were in their 20’s didn’t have all the investment opportunities we have today. If you are in your 20’s right now, you have a chance to make an incredibly bright future and retirement if you invest properly NOW!

Again, the above is not a road map to success. The items above are merely recommendations and advice that I have learned or gathered over the years or from reading helpful resources online. If you save money now, if you cut your bills now, you open yourself up to a great opportunity of becoming rich down the road.

As long as you have time, patience, and you are willing to sacrifice things, you can achive it.

from here

Monday, October 16, 2006

Tips for Avoiding Internet Scams, from the Internet Fraud Watch

by fraud.org

Know who you’re dealing with. If the seller or charity is unfamiliar, check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau. Some Web sites have feedback forums, which can provide useful information about other people’s experiences with particular sellers. Get the physical address and phone number in case there is a problem later.

Look for information about how complaints are handled. It can be difficult to resolve complaints, especially if the seller or charity is located in another country. Look on the Web site for information about programs the company or organization participates in that require it to meet standards for reliability and help to handle disputes.

Be aware that no complaints is no guarantee. Fraudulent operators open and close quickly, so the fact that no one has made a complaint yet doesn’t meant that the seller or charity is legitimate. You still need to look for other danger signs of fraud.

Don’t believe promises of easy money. If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam.

Understand the offer. A legitimate seller will give you all the details about the products or services, the total price, the delivery time, the refund and cancellation policies, and the terms of any warranty.

Resist pressure. Legitimate companies and charities will be happy to give you time to make a decision. It’s probably a scam if they demand that you act immediately or won’t take “No” for an answer.

Think twice before entering contests operated by unfamiliar companies. Fraudulent marketers sometimes use contest entry forms to identify potential victims.

Be cautious about unsolicited emails. They are often fraudulent. If you are familiar with the company or charity that sent you the email and you don’t want to receive further messages, send a reply asking to be removed from the email list. However, responding to unknown senders may simply verify that yours is a working email address and result in even more unwanted messages from strangers. The best approach may simply be to delete the email.

Beware of imposters. Someone might send you an email pretending to be connected with a business or charity, or create a Web site that looks just like that of a well-known company or charitable organization. If you’re not sure that you’re dealing with the real thing, find another way to contact the legitimate business or charity and ask.

Guard your personal information. Don’t provide your credit card or bank account number unless you are actually paying for something. Your social security number should not be necessary unless you are applying for credit. Be especially suspicious if someone claiming to be from a company with whom you have an account asks for information that the business already has.

Beware of “dangerous downloads.” In downloading programs to see pictures, hear music, play games, etc., you could download a virus that wipes out your computer files or connects your modem to a foreign telephone number, resulting in expensive phone charges. Only download programs from Web sites you know and trust. Read all user agreements carefully.

Pay the safest way. Credit cards are the safest way to pay for online purchases because you can dispute the charges if you never get the goods or services or the offer was misrepresented. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account, and most credit card issuers will remove them completely if you report the problem promptly. There are new technologies, such as “substitute” credit card numbers and password programs, that can offer extra measures of protection from someone else using your credit card.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Ten Greatest Robberies of all time

Central Bank of Iraq (2003): Saddam took US$1 billion a day before the war
In March 2003, on several occasions beginning on March 18, the day before the United States began bombing Baghdad, nearly US$1 billion was stolen from the Central Bank of Iraq. This is considered the largest bank heist in history.

Approximately $650 million was later found hidden in walls in Saddam Hussein's palace by US troops. It is believed that this was the bulk of the stolen money. The remaining money is currently unaccounted for. Diyaa Habib al-Khayoun, general manager of the state-owned al-Rafidain Bank, claims that $250 million and 18 billion now worthless Iraqi dinars were also stolen, but by professional robbers unconnected to Saddam.

In March 2003, a hand-written note surfaced, signed by Saddam, ordering $920 million to be withdrawn and given to his son Qusay. Bank officials state that Qusay and another unidentified man oversaw the cash, boxes of $100 bills, being loaded into trucks during a five hour operation. Qusay was later killed by US troops in a firefight.

Boston Museum (1990): dressed as police officers, stole US$300 million worth in paintings
Hours after St. Patrick's Day festivities wrapped up in Boston on March 18, 1990, two men dressed as police officers knocked on the security entrance side door of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum at 1:24 a.m. "The policy has always been that you don't open that door in the middle of the night for God. Why on this one night they opened the door no one can explain," Lyle Grindle, the museum's current head of security, told Access Control & Security Systems, a security industry trade publication. Grindle was not in charge of security at the time of the 1990 heist. Just minutes after letting them in, the guards quickly learned that the late night visitors weren't real cops. Though they apparently did not brandish any weapons, the intruders managed to overpower the two guards. They handcuffed the guards, bound them with duct tape and left them in the basement.

In the fewer than 90 minutes that followed, the bandits went through the museum's Dutch Room on the second floor and stole three Rembrandts, including the Dutch artist's only seascape, "Storm on the Sea of Galilee." It was one of several works the thieves savagely cut to release it from its frame, leaving ragged edges of the canvas behind in otherwise empty frames, which continue to hang in the museum to this day. Also taken from that room was "The Concert" by Vermeer, as well as a Chinese bronze beaker located near the Rembrandt. The thieves also apparently tried to steal a fourth Rembrandt but were unsuccessful. Nearby, they also made off with "Landscape with an Obelisk," an oil painting by Govaert Flinck that was until recently attributed to Rembrandt, Flinck's mentor. On the other side of the floor, the thieves went into the Short Gallery and ripped five Degas sketches from the wall. Feet away a bronze eagle that adorned the top of a Napoleonic flag was also pillaged. A Manet portrait, located in the museum's Blue Room on the first floor, capped off the list of works the thieves stole.

It is not known in what order the rooms were ransacked, since the thieves ripped out the surveillance tape before fleeing the museum with it. To this day, the small museum isn't able to collect insurance, since it carried no insurance policy at the time of the heist.

Knightsbridge Security Deposit (1987): requested to rent a safe deposit box, then subdued the manager and stole US$111 million
The Knightsbridge Security Deposit robbery took place on 12 July 1987 in Knightsbridge, England, part of the City of Westminster in London. Two men entered the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Centre and requested to rent a Safe deposit box. After being shown into the vault, they produced hand guns and subdued the manager and security guards.

The thieves then hung a sign on the street level door explaining that the Safe Deposit Centre was temporarily closed, whilst letting in further accomplices. They broke open many of the safe deposit boxes and left with a hoard estimated to be worth £40 million (equivalent to roughly US$66 million at the 1987 exchange rate; the inflation-adjusted value would be £63.6 million --$111 million-- as of 2005).

One hour after the robbers departed, one of the guards managed to escape his handcuffs to raise the alarm. Police forensic investigators at the crime scene recovered a fingerprint that was traced to the Italian Valerio Viccei. After a period of surveillance, Viccei and several of his accomplices were arrested during a series of coordinated raids on 12 August 1987 and later convicted of the crime. Viccei would later published a book on the robbery.

Kent Securitas Depot (2006): abducted the manager, then stole USD$92.5 million
The Securitas depot robbery was a robbery which took place in the early hours of 22 February 2006, between 01:00 and 02:15 UTC in England, an operation that succeeded in stealing the largest cash amount in British crime history. At least six men abducted and threatened the family of the manager, tied up fourteen staff members and stole £53,116,760 (about US$92.5 million or €78 million) in bank notes from a Securitas Cash Management Ltd depot in Vale Road, Tonbridge, Kent.

The manager of the depot, Colin Dixon, was abducted at about 18:30 on 21 February, apparently while driving his Nissan Almera to his home in Herne Bay. He was pulled over on the A249 just outside Stockbury, a village North East of Maidstone, by what he thought was an unmarked police vehicle due to the blue lights behind the front grill. A man approached him in high-visibility clothing and a police-style hat. The manager proceeded to get into the police imposter's car, thinking that he was a police officer, where he was then handcuffed by others in the vehicle. He was then driven west on the M20 motorway to the West Malling bypass where he was bound further, transferred into a white van and transported to a farm in an unknown location in west Kent.

As this was taking place, the manager's wife and eight-year-old son were being held hostage at their home in Herne Bay, after they answered the door to men dressed in police uniforms, who falsely informed them that the manager had been involved in a road traffic accident. They were then driven to the farm at which the manager was being held, where he was told at gunpoint that failure to cooperate could put him and his family in danger.

The depot manager, his wife and son were taken to the Securitas depot in Tonbridge at around 01:00, travelling in a plain white van, being held at gunpoint. At the depot, 14 members of staff were bound by robbers, armed with handguns and wearing balaclavas.

The heist came to an end at approximately 02:15, although it was still another hour before staff members, who had been tied up, managed to raise the alarm. Police officers arriving on the scene discovered staff, the manager and his family, bound but physically unharmed.

Great Train Robbery (1963): stole US$74 million without guns
The Great Train Robbery was the name given to a £2.3 million train robbery committed on 8 August 1963 at Bridego Railway Bridge, Ledburn near Mentmore in Buckinghamshire, England.

The Royal Mail's Glasgow to London travelling post office (TPO) train was stopped by tampered signals. A 15-member gang, led by Bruce Reynolds and including Ronnie Biggs, Charlie Wilson, Jimmy Hussey, John Wheater, Brian Field, Jimmy White, Tommy Wisbey, Gordon Goody and Buster Edwards, stole £2.3 million in used £1, £5 and £10 notes — the equivalent of £40 million (US $74 million) in 2006.

Although no guns were used in the robbery, the train driver, Jack Mills, was hit on the head with an iron bar, causing a black eye and facial bruising. The assailant was one of three members of the gang never to be arrested or identified. Frank Williams (at the time a Detective Inspector) claims to have traced the man, but he could not be charged because of lack of evidence. Mills recovered fully from the attack and died in 1970 from leukemia.

Thirteen of the gang members were caught after police discovered their fingerprints at their hideout at Leatherslade Farm, near Oakley, Buckinghamshire. The robbers were tried, sentenced and imprisoned. Ronnie Biggs escaped from prison 15 months into his sentence, settling in Melbourne Australia, and later moving to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when police found out his Melbourne address. Charlie Wilson escaped and was living outside Montreal, Canada on Rigaud Mountain. In the upper-middle-class neighbourhood where the large, secluded properties are surrounded by trees, Wilson was just another resident who enjoyed his privacy. Only when his wife made the mistake of telephoning his parents in England was Scotland Yard able to track him down.

Banco Central in Brazil (2005): tunneled 255 feet up to the bank, then stole US$69.8 million
On the weekend of August 6 and August 7, 2005 a gang of burglars, suspected to be either the Gang of the Tattooed or Primeiro Comando da Capital, tunneled into the Banco Central in Fortaleza. They removed five containers of 50-real notes, with an estimated value of 164,755,150 reais (US$69.8 million, £38.6 million, €56 million). The money was uninsured; a bank spokeswoman stated that the risks were too small to justify the insurance premiums. The burglars managed to evade or disable the bank's internal alarms and sensors; the burglary remained undiscovered until the bank opened for business on the morning of Monday, August 8.

The Banco Central is a national banking institution charged with control of the money supply. The money in the vault was being examined to see if it should be recirculated or destroyed. The bills were not numbered sequentially, making them almost impossible to trace.

Three months earlier, the gang of burglars had rented an empty property in the centre of the city and then tunneled 78 meters (255 ft) beneath two city blocks to a position beneath the bank. The gang had renovated a house and put up a sign indicating it was a landscaping company selling both natural and artificial grass as well as plants. Neighbours, who estimated that the gang consisted of between six and ten men, described how they had seen van-loads of soil being removed daily, but understood this to be a normal activity of the business. The tunnel, being roughly 70 cm (2.3 ft) square and running 4 meters (13 ft) beneath the surface, was well-constructed: it was lined with wood and plastic and had its own lighting and air conditioning systems.

On the final weekend, the gang broke through 1.1 meters (3.6 ft) of steel-reinforced concrete to enter the bank vault. The bank notes weighed approximately 3,500 kg (approx. 7,700 lbs) and would have required a considerable amount of time and effort to remove.

On October 22 the body of the suspected mastermind, Luis Fernando Ribeiro, 26, was found 9 October on an isolated road near Camanducaia, 200 miles (320 km) west of Rio de Janeiro. He had been shot seven times and had marks on his wrists as if he had been handcuffed. Five men were arrested September 28 with about $5.4 million of the money and told the police they had helped dig the tunnel. So far, authorities have recovered more than $7 million but $63 million remains unaccounted for.

Northern Bank (2004): bank officials threatened to help steal US$50 million
The Northern Bank robbery was a large robbery of cash from the headquarters of the Northern Bank in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Carried out by a large, proficient group on 20 December 2004, the gang seized £26.5 million in pounds sterling, making it one of the biggest bank robberies in British history. The police and the British and Irish governments claimed the Provisional IRA was responsible (or had permitted others to undertake the raid), a claim vehemently denied by the Provisional IRA itself and the Sinn Féin political party. The robbery, and the allegations and counter-allegations surrounding it, threw the Northern Ireland peace process into crisis.

On the night of Sunday December 19, 2004 groups of armed men called at the homes of two officials of the Northern Bank, one in Downpatrick in County Down, the other in Poleglass, near Belfast. Masquerading as police officers, they entered the homes and held the officials and their families at gunpoint. Bank official Chris Ward was taken from Poleglass to Downpatrick, the home of his supervisor Kevin McMullan, while gunmen remained at his home with his family. Subsequently Mr McMullan's wife was taken from their home and held, also at gunpoint, at an unknown location. The following day both officials were instructed to report for work at the bank's headquarters at Belfast's Donegall Square West as normal. They did so, and remained at work after the close of business, and later in the evening they gave admittance to other members of the gang.

The robbers entered the bank's cash handling and storage facility. This held an unusually large amount of cash, in preparation for distribution to ATMs for the busy Christmas shopping season. Cash was transferred to one or several vehicles (possibly including a white "Luton" van) at the premises' Wellington Street entrance, and the gang fled. Shortly before midnight the gang holding the Ward family left, and those holding Mrs McMullan released her in a forest near Ballynahinch.

The haul included £10m of uncirculated Northern Bank sterling banknotes, £5.5m of used Northern Bank sterling notes, £4.5m of circulated sterling notes issued by other banks, and small amounts of other currencies, largely Euros and U.S. Dollars.

Brinks Mat warehouse (1983): broke into warehouse to find ten tonnes of gold bullion worth US$45 million
The Brinks Mat Robbery occurred on 26 November 1983 when six robbers broke into the Brinks Mat warehouse at Heathrow Airport, England. The robbers thought they were going to steal £3 million in cash; however when they arrived they found ten tonnes of gold bullion (worth £26 million). The gang got into the warehouse thanks to security guard Anthony Black, who was the brother-in-law of the raid's architect Brian Robinson. Scotland Yard quickly discovered the family connection and Black confessed to aiding and abetting the raiders, providing them with a key to the main door and giving them details of security measures. Tried at the Old Bailey, Robinson and gang leader Michael McAvoy were each sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for armed robbery. Black got six years, and served three.

Prior to his conviction McAvoy had entrusted part of his share to an associate John Perry. Perry recruited Kenneth Noye (who had links with a legitimate gold dealer in Bristol) to dispose of the gold. Noye melted down the bullion and recast it for sale. However the sudden movements of large amounts of money through a Bristol bank came to the notice of the Treasury who informed the police. Noye was placed under police surveillance and in January 1985 killed an officer he discovered in his garden. At the resulting trial the jury found him not guilty on the grounds of self-defence. In 1986 Noye was found guilty of conspiracy to handle the Brinks Mat gold, fined £700,000 and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Three tonnes of stolen gold has never been recovered. It is claimed that anyone wearing gold jewellery bought in the UK after 1983, is probably wearing Brinks Mat.

Dunbar Armored (1997): inside man steals US$18.9 million
The Dunbar Armored robbery is the largest cash robbery to have occurred in the United States. It occurred in 1997 at the Dunbar Armored facility in Los Angeles, California. The thieves made off with some 18.9 million U.S. Dollars.

The robbery was masterminded by Allen Pace, who worked for Dunbar as a regional safety inspector. While on the job, Pace had time to photograph and examine the company's Los Angeles armored car depot. He recruited five of his childhood friends, and on the night of Friday, September 13, 1997, Pace used his keys to gain admittance to the facility. Pace had timed the security cameras and determined how they could be avoided. Once inside, they waited within the staff cafeteria, ambushing the guards one by one. Pace knew that on Friday nights the vault was open due to the large quantities of money being moved. Rushing the vault guards, the robbers managed to subdue them before they could signal any alarms. In half an hour, the robbers had loaded millions of dollars into a waiting U-Haul. Pace knew exactly which bags contained the highest denomination and non-sequential bills. He also knew where the recording devices for the security cameras were located and took these.

The police immediately realized it was an inside job and closely examined Pace, but could find nothing. The gang worked hard to conceal their new wealth, laundering it through property deals and phony businesses. Eventually, one of the gang members, Eugene Lamar Hill, erred when he gave an unknowing associate a stack of bills still wrapped with the original cash straps. The associate went to the police and Hill was arrested. Hill soon confessed and named his associates. Allen Pace was arrested and sentenced to twenty-four years in jail. Only a fraction of the money was ever recovered. Some $10 million is still unaccounted for.

Lufthansa (1978): US$5.8 million at Kennedy Airport
The 1978 Lufthansa Heist was planned by Jimmy Burke (immortalized in Martin Scorcese's Goodfellas), an associate of the Lucchese crime family, and carried out by several of his associates. It all began when bookmaker, Martin Krugman, told Henry Hill (an associate of Jimmy Burke's) about millions of dollars in untraceable money. The money was flown in once a month and was the money exchanged by servicemen and tourists in West Germany and that it was stored in a cardboard vault at Kennedy Airport. The information had come from Louis Werner, who owed Krugman $20,000 in gambling debts and worked at the airport.

On December 11th, at 3.12 a.m. a guard, named Kelly Whalen, patrolling the cargo terminal, spotted a black Ford Econoline van pulling into a bay near a loading platform, for vaults. Whalen walked toward the loading bay, to investigate this peculiar appartion and was struck over the head with a .45 pistol. A wiry man in a black ski mask pulled his mask over his face as the blood began to pour from Whalen's wound. Another man grabbed Whalen's gun and thus disarmed him. Whalen was ordered, by the two men, to disarm the silent alarm, after he did this he was handcuffed behind his back. He saw a series of other men, all carrying rifles or pistols, running into the cargo terminal and then another man took his wallet and said that they knew where his family were and that they had men ready to visit them. Whalen nodded to indicate that he would co-operate with the thieves.

Another guard, Rolf Rebmann, heard a noise by the loading ramp and when he went to investigate, 6 armed, masked men forced their way in and handcuffed him. They then used a one of a kind key from Werner and walked through a maze of corridors to where the two other employees would be. Once these two had been rounded up two gunmen ventured downstairs to look for unexpected visitors and then the other men marched the employees to a lunch room, where the other employees were on a 3 a.m. break. The gunmen burst into the lunch room and brandishing their firearms they showed a bloodied Whalen as an indication of their intentions if anyone got out of line. They knew each employee by name and forced them onto the ground. They made John Murray, the terminal's senior cargo agent, call Rudi Eirich on the intercom. The robbers knew that Eirich was the only guard that night who knew the right combinations to open the double door vault. Murray was made to pretend, to Eirich, that there was a problem with a load from Frankfurt and told Eirich to meet him in the cafeteria. As Eirich approached the cafe he was met by two shotguns and he saw the other employees, bound and gagged on the cafeteria floor. One gunman kept watch over the 10 employees and the other 3 took Eirich, at gun point, down two flights of stairs to the double door vault. He later reported that the men were informed and knew all about the safety systems in the vault and they knew about the double door system, whereby one door must be shut or the other one can't be opened or the alarm will be activated. The men ordered Eirich to open up the first door, to a 10-by-20 foot room. They knew that if he opened up the second door he would activate an alarm to the Port Authority. Once inside they ordered Eirich to lie on the ground and they then began sifting through invoices and freight manifests to determine which parcels they wanted of the many similarly wrapped ones. Finally they began hurling parcels through, one nearly hit Eirich's head, he saw it kicked open and said that inside was stacks and stacks of cash. Around 40 parcels were removed and Eirich was made to lock the inner door before unlocking the outer door because this would trigger an alarm to the Port Authority office. Two of the gunmen were assigned to load the parcels into the vans while the others tied up Eirich. A man, without a ski mask on, burst into the cafeteria and was euphoric, he said to the other gunmen that they had the money in the vans. He was quickly told to put on his ski mask by the other thieves, however some of the employees caught a glimpse of his face. They were told not to call the Port Authority until 4:30 a.m., when the men left it was 4:16 a.m. according to the cafeteria clock and no calls were made until 4:30, when a report of $5 million in cash and $875,000 in jewels being stolen was made. The employees complied because they knew if the police caught the men they or their families would be harmed or even killed. The robbery took only 64 minutes and was the largest cash robbery ever committed on American soil at the time.

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