Sunday, November 23, 2008


Prior to the 19th Century (and even during that century), everything that went long distances went mostly by ship. Supplies for trade, for war, and passengers were all carried across the seas in ships. And that meant that there was another occupation that relied on ships: piracy. Pirates came in two primary categories. The first were "legal" pirate that had letters of marque from nations that authorized them to attack enemy ships and keep the spoil. The second were of the variety that answered only to ship's captain.

In the hey-day of pirates, ships had to be fast yet with a shallow draft. They needed to be able to hid in coves and go into reefs to get away from pursuers. Yet they also needed to be able to hold fighting men and loot. Some of the more popular types of ship were made to do just these things. Here are the five main types of ship favored by pirates.

Schooners. Beautiful and elegant, these were among the fastest ships. Clippers, which came later, were modified schooners. Schooners had such a shallow draft that they could out run their targets and the effectively hide almost anywhere. Schooners were especially used in the Atlantic and the Caribbean after the Americas were colonized. They did come with a drawback: with such a shallow draft, the hold could not hold as much booty.

Sloops. During the late 1600s, these ships were extremely popular. They had shallow draft (but not so shallow as a schooner) and was very fast. It was also extremely maneuverable. It was easy for a sloop to get away from a warship because it was fast, light, and could make sudden moves.

Galleys. The Barbary corsairs favored galleys as their pirate ships. This ship was long and slender. It was fast and could hold a fair amount of spoil. The famous Captain Kidd had a galley called the Adventure built for him in 1695.

Brigantines. These ships are larger than sloops or schooners. They were ideal for holding more guns and fighters, making them more suitable for sea battles than many other types of pirate ship. These ships were popular in the Mediterranean, where trade had flourished for thousands of years, the loot was grand, and usually better protected.
Junks. In the Far East, these were popular pirate vessels. Junks have rudders with adjustable heights, which add to their maneuverability. A wide, flat-bottom design made junks perfect for moving with speed, and for fast movement in different directions, while full of treasure.

Time and Savings

For all of you that didn't already know. It's time to fall back. Yes that’s right, you get an extra hour of sleep this weekend on Sunday November 2nd. So don't forget to set your clocks back before you go to bed Saturday evening so you can take advantage of an extra hour, and speaking of savings.
Make your Holiday Lights both Festive and Frugal
To avoid a "Bah humbug!" attitude come January, take an energy efficient look at the bulbs you're stringing on your trees and on the eaves of your home.
Did you know that those large, traditional colored bulbs you unpack year after year could be costing you a bundle? While most C7 or C9 lights use 5 to 7 watts per bulb, some of the older strings use up to 10 watts per bulb!
Consider buying new miniature lights, which use about 70 percent less energy and last much longer than the larger bulbs. If you prefer the brilliance of the larger lights, switch to 5-watt bulbs, which use about 30 percent less energy than 7 to 10-watt bulbs. Although the new bulbs will cost money initially, you will see energy savings immediately.
To avoid accidentally leaving your lights on and running up your electric bill unnecessarily, use an automatic timer, both indoors and out. You'll remove the burden of turning the lights on and off and avoid leaving them on all night or during the daylight hours. Just make sure that the timer you use is rated to handle the total wattage of your lights.
Would you like to be the first in your neighborhood to try something new and different? Ask your lighting supplier for LED holiday bulbs, or look for them on the Internet. Now available in green, orange, gold, red, white and blue. They're shatterproof, shock resistant, safe to touch, and won't burn your children's hands! They also present no fire hazard, save up to 80-90 percent of your energy costs, and are long lasting.
Don't forget that safety should play an important role in your holiday decorating. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Make sure all lights you purchase contain the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label, which means they meet UL safety requirements.
  • While you're reading labels, be sure you're buying the right set for indoor use, outdoor use, or both.
  • Before decorating, check all light sets for frayed wires, damaged sockets, or cracked insulation. If you find any defects, replace the entire set.
  • All outdoor cords, plugs and sockets must be weatherproof. Keep electrical connections off the ground, and make sure wiring is kept clear of drainpipes and railings to prevent any risk of shock. It's also a good idea to use a ground fault circuit interrupter on each circuit. If current leaks through frayed or damaged wires, the interrupter will shut off the lights.
  • Don't overload your electrical circuits. Circuits in older homes carry a maximum of 1800 watts each. Most new homes can handle 2400 watts each.
To determine how many watts you're using, multiply the number of holiday bulbs by the number of watts per bulb. (If you're not sure of the wattage, use 10 watts per bulb just to be safe!) When you're calculating the total, don't forget to include appliances, normal lighting, and other electrical equipment already running on the same circuit. You can click here to read about many other energy savings ideas for the holidays.
Buying A New Car
A new car is second only to a home as the most expensive purchase many consumers make. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average price of a new car sold in the United States is $28,400. That’s why it’s important to know how to make a smart deal.
Buying Your New Car
Think about what car model and options you want and how much you’re willing to spend. Do some research. You’ll be less likely to feel pressured into making a hasty or expensive decision at the showroom and more likely to get a better deal.
Consider these suggestions:
Check publications at a library or bookstore, or on the Internet, that discuss new car features and prices. These may provide information on the dealer’s costs for specific models and options.
Shop around to get the best possible price by comparing models and prices in ads and at dealer showrooms. You also may want to contact car-buying services and broker-buying services to make comparisons.
Plan to negotiate on price. Dealers may be willing to bargain on their profit margin, often between 10 and 20 percent. Usually, this is the difference between the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and the invoice price.
Because the price is a factor in the dealer’s calculations regardless of whether you pay cash or finance your car — and also affects your monthly payments — negotiating the price can save you money.

Consider ordering your new car if you don’t see what you want on the dealer’s lot. This may involve a delay, but cars on the lot may have options you don’t want — and that can raise the price. However, dealers often want to sell their current inventory quickly, so you may be able to negotiate a good deal if an in-stock car meets your needs.

Learning the Terms

Negotiations often have a vocabulary of their own. Here are some terms you may hear when you’re talking price. Invoice Price is the manufacturer’s initial charge to the dealer. This usually is higher than the dealer’s final cost because dealers receive rebates, allowances, discounts, and incentive awards. Generally, the invoice price should include freight (also known as destination and delivery). If you’re buying a car based on the invoice price (for example, “at invoice,” “$100 below invoice,” “two percent above invoice”) and if freight is already included, make sure freight isn’t added again to the sales contract.
Base Price is the cost of the car without options, but includes standard equipment and factory warranty. This price is printed on the Monroney sticker.

Monroney Sticker Price (MSRP) shows the base price, the manufacturers installed options with the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, the manufacturer’s transportation charge, and the fuel economy (mileage). Affixed to the car window, this label is required by federal law, and may be removed only by the purchaser.

Dealer Sticker Price, usually on a supplemental sticker, is the Monroney sticker price plus the suggested retail price of dealer-installed options, such as additional dealer markup (ADM) or additional dealer profit (ADP), dealer preparation, and undercoating.

Financing Your New Car

If you decide to finance your car, be aware that the financing obtained by the dealer, even if the dealer contacts lenders on your behalf, may not be the best deal you can get. Contact lenders directly. Compare the financing they offer you with the financing the dealer offers you. Because offers vary, shop around for the best deal, comparing the annual percentage rate (APR) and the length of the loan. When negotiating to finance a car, be wary of focusing only on the monthly payment. The total amount you will pay depends on the price of the car you negotiate, the APR, and the length of the loan.
Sometimes, dealer’s offer very low financing rates for specific cars or models, but may not be willing to negotiate on the price of these cars. To qualify for the special rates, you may be required to make a large down payment. With these conditions, you may find that it’s sometimes more affordable to pay higher financing charges on a car that is lower in price or to buy a car that requires a smaller down payment.
Before you sign a contract to purchase or finance the car, consider the terms of the financing and evaluate whether it is affordable. Before you drive off the lot, be sure to have a copy of the contract that both you and the dealer have signed and be sure that all blanks are filled in.
Some dealers and lenders may ask you to buy credit insurance to pay off your loan if you should die or become disabled. Before you buy credit insurance, consider the cost, and whether it’s worthwhile. Check your existing policies to avoid duplicating benefits. Credit insurance is not required by federal law. If your dealer requires you to buy credit insurance for car financing, it must be included in the cost of credit. That is, it must be reflected in the APR. Your state Attorney General also may have requirements about credit insurance. Check with your state Insurance Commissioner or state consumer protection agency.
Trading in Your Old Car

Discuss the possibility of a trade-in only after you’ve negotiated the best possible price for your new car and after you’ve researched the value of your old car. Check the library for reference books or magazines that can tell you how much it is worth. This information may help you get a better price from the dealer. Though it may take longer to sell your car yourself, you generally will get more money than if you trade it in.
Considering a Service Contract

Service contracts that you may buy with a new car provide for the repair of certain parts or problems. These contracts are offered by manufacturers, dealers, or independent companies and may or may not provide coverage beyond the manufacturer’s warranty. Remember that a warranty is included in the price of the car while a service contract costs extra.
Before deciding to purchase a service contract, read it carefully and consider these questions:
What’s the difference between the coverage under the warranty and the coverage under the service contract?
What repairs are covered?
Is routine maintenance covered?
Who pays for the labor? The parts?
Who performs the repairs? Can repairs be made elsewhere?
How long does the service contract last?
What are the cancellation and refund policies?

Holiday Safety Tips
The holidays are an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday season, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Please feel free to excerpt these tips or use them in their entirety for any print or broadcast story, with acknowledgement of the source.
When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant."

When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles. When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways. Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard. Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted. Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them. Check all tree lights-even if you've just purchased them-before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks. Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down. In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them. Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays. Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if near flame.
Computer Help, Where and How to Get It

Well there's no denying it - No matter how new or how well maintained our computers are, we all encounter computer problems sooner or later. The good news is that we don't have to face them alone. There are a ton of resources available to walk us through computer issues but it may take a little knowledge in knowing how to access them. This article will show you how.
1. Remember help files. It's funny, but people seem to forget that every computer and every program installed on a computer comes with its own help file. Even the operating system of a computer has a help file and it really should be the first place to look for answers. Help files are designed not only to guide the user of a computer, they are also designed to solve problems. Inside a help file, look for a section called, "Troubleshooting" (or something similar) when you need to resolve an issue. This section is reserved for solving problems specific to the software or hardware that you're using.
2. Product websites. If you're having a problem with a piece of software or with a hardware part, try the website of that software's or hardware's manufacturer. Most (if not all) manufacturer's reserve a portion of cyberspace and dedicate it to support the products that they build. Microsoft's help desk is good example.
3. Fan sites. Fan sites probably aren’t a good name for this resource, but you can find websites that are dedicated toward supporting the users of a particular software program or piece of hardware. We've called them "fan sites" because the maintainers of these sites have no affiliation with the manufacturers that they support! Call them what you will, but their free help is immeasurable and without it, we wouldn't have some of the wonderful workarounds and unique problem solving techniques that we have today.
4. Usenet newsgroups. Another underused resource on the Internet, Usenet newsgroups have hundreds of discussion groups dedicated to some of the most popular computer systems, operating systems, hardware manufacturers, and individual software programs. Sometimes, the representatives of these companies participate, but most of the time, the support in this group is user to user, which is just as valid because you are working with a team of experienced people.
5. Support Lines. Another source for help that we shouldn't forget is the support systems of various manufacturers. You can reach these systems by calling the phone number associated with the product that you're having trouble with. Calls may be free (1-800 or 1-877 number), or they may cost a small fee (1-900).
6. PC support groups or user groups are another option for help. These are groups that meet in libraries, computer stores, or other local areas and they discuss all sorts of issues related with a particular product. Even if you aren't experiencing a computer or software problem, user groups are fun to participate in and they can help you network into other interests such as job or teaching opportunities.
7. Surprisingly, you may even get a helping hand from the salespersons at your local computer store. We don't recommend that you make this your first pit stop when you experience a problem, but we don't recommend that you rule this option out altogether either. Computer salespersons are hired for a reason - and that's their knowledge. Often, these kind folks can help you resolve an issue over the phone and prevent you from having to buy a costly solution.
As you can see, help is easy to find - You've just have to know where to look for it. Most of the contacts within these resources are extremely friendly and willing to take the time to walk you through a problem at little to no cost. From online discussion groups to the files on your own computer, help is often just a click away.