E-MAIL DISCREDITED, SNOPES.COM VALIDATED

You have to appreciate the irony when a bogus email contains the proof that it is a bogus email.  That is the case with an email I received recently that attempts to discredit Snopes.com.  With over 6 million visits per month, Snopes.com is a very popular site for checking out internet rumors and suspicious emails.

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MARTIN LUTHER KING

Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King Day in the United States. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born January 15, 1929. He was a Baptist minister and a prominent civil rights advocate. King was the youngest person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize when it awarded to him in 1964. He was assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.

One of his most famous speeches was delivered at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 1963. Often referred to as the “I have a dream” speech, it is one of the most significant and powerful speeches of the 20th century. A portion of the speech follows. Links to the full speech and an audio file are at the end of this post.

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HOW TO FIND THE BEST GAS PRICES

U.S. Gas Price Heat Map - January 18, 2010

Driving across the country, I have learned which states have better gas prices. If I am headed east on I-70 in eastern Missouri, I always buy gas before I cross the Mississippi River into Illinois where the prices are much higher. I don’t by gas again until I get to Indiana.

If I am in western Nebraska on I-76 and headed for Colorado, I try not to buy gas until I get across the Colorado state line. If I am in Pennsylvania on I-84 and headed for New York, I always fill up before crossing the New York state line.

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ON THE MOON: 40 YEARS AGO TODAY

Buzz Aldrin on the moon
NASA Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Walking on the Moon

Photo details: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM) “Eagle” during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA). Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the Lunar Module (LM) “Eagle” to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the Moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) “Columbia” in lunar orbit.

Sending astronauts to the moon seemed like an amazing thing in 1969. They landed 40 years ago today. Like millions of others, I was glued to the TV set.

When Sputnik was launched by the U.S.S.R. in 1957, it was a shock to the scientific community and to the U.S. psyche, and the “space race” was on. A few years later, newly elected U.S. President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of putting a man on the moon within the decade. On July 20, 1969, it happened. It was an amazing accomplishment, not without high risks, and the country was justly proud of NASA and the space program.

The NASA web site is commemorating the Apollo 11 trip to the moon. There are times that the site seems to be overloaded and/or overwhelmed with visitors today. You can view moonwalk video, listen to Apollo 11 onboard audio recordings, listen to real time mission audio that tracks everything as it happened 40 years ago, and a lot more.

Earthrise
Earthrise. The crew of Apollo 8 captured this view of Earth about five degrees above the lunar horizon on Dec. 22, 1968.

NOT YOUR TYPICAL COMBAT PHOTO

Soldiers from the U.S. Army First Battalion, 26th Infantry take defensive positions at firebase Restrepo after receiving fire from Taliban positions in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan’s Kunar Province on Monday May 11, 2009. Spc. Zachery Boyd of Fort Worth, TX, far left was wearing ‘I love NY’ boxer shorts after rushing from his sleeping quarters to join his fellow platoon members. From far right is Spc. Cecil Montgomery of Many, LA and Jordan Custer of Spokan, WA, center.  (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

From Yahoo News (link below):
“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday praised an Army soldier in eastern Afghanistan who drew media attention this month after rushing to defend his post from attack while wearing pink boxer shorts and flip-flops.

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THE BEST AND WORST DRIVERS BY STATE

If you have too many people in one state, when they get out on the city streets and highways, are they like too many mice in a cage?

I spend a lot of time driving across the country. Last summer, after a trip across part of the central and western U.S., I was tempted to write an article about my observations.

I had concluded quite some time ago that Michigan drivers were worse than the drivers in Colorado, Nebraska, and Iowa. A few years ago I came to the conclusion that Ohio drivers are even worse than Michigan drivers. Maybe that’s because I made several trips to Columbus Ohio over a period of 6 months and on every trip I saw at least one accident on the city streets where a car was on its side or on it’s roof.  You have to work hard to get cars on their sides or upside down when driving on streets where the speed limit is 35 or even 25.

My trip last summer reinforced my conclusions.

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“I DREAMED A DREAM” AND “A LITTLE FALL OF RAIN”

Les Miserables is one of my favorite musicals with beautiful music, impressive staging and a moving story line adapted from the novel by Victor Hugo. If the previous post whetted your curiosity, you can listen to the whole arrangement of “I Dreamed a Dream” in this video.

“Fantine” sings of dreams gone by. Abandoned by the man she once loved, the father of her daughter Cosette, she is unemployed and destitute and trying to provide for her daughter. Read more about her character in this Wikipedia article.

And as long as I’m at it, here’s “A Little Fall of Rain” which Eponine, mortally wounded at the barricade, sings with Marius as she dies in his arms.

READ YOUR CHILDREN’S TEXT MESSAGES

A news report tonight talked about parents who use software to read all the text messages that their children send and receive with their mobile phones. The children in the news report are aware that their parents monitor their messages.

Why do parents do this? Lots of reasons. One is the incentive it gives children to be more careful about what they send by text message.

The software parents are using is from SMobile Systems.

THE CHIPOTLE NUTRITION CALCULATOR

chipotle_1.jpg

Yes, I do like the burritos at Chipotle. But how many calories are there in my favorite burrito? I did a quick Google search and found the Chipotle Nutrition Calculator at ChipotleFan.com. Just put check marks in the boxes and watch the Nutrition Facts section add up the calories, fat grams, sodium, and other nutritional information.

I started with my favorite barbacoa burrito in a bol (the bowl itself adds no calories unless, for some odd reason, you like to eat the plastic bowl). With rice, black beans, and green salsa, my burrito has 435 calories, 11 grams of fat and 1140 mg of sodium (see above). Not too bad.

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HOW HAPPY IS YOUR STATE?

How happy are the people in your state and how does it compare to other states?

Utah, Hawaii, Wyoming, Colorado, and Minnesota are happiest states. Except for the state of Nevada, all of the states in the Rocky Mountain west are in the top 20 or top 40% of the happiest states (see the map at the end of this post).

West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas are the unhappiest states.

Based on extensive polling, Gallup ranked states and congressional districts by a number of categories which range from how happy people are about their life and their work, to their physical and mental health. These were combined to create a “Well-Being Index”.

The top 20 states with their well-being index and their rank out of 50

According to the Gallup-Healthways web site: “The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index™ has been developed to provide the official measure for health and well-being. It’s the voice of Americans and the most ambitious effort ever undertaken to measure what people believe constitutes a good life.”

“Over the next 25 years, the Well-Being Index will collect and measure the daily pulse of the nation’s well-being and provide best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. By helping Americans understand how work impacts life and health and conversely how life affects work and health, we can work together to improve well-being for a better way of life.”

I have lived in two of the 20 happiest states (Colorado and Nebraska) and four out of the 10 unhappiest states (Missouri, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Ohio). I wonder what that means?!

The bottom 10 states, ranked from 41 to 50

Seeing these lists reminded me of a life expectancy study. The 7 counties in the United States with the highest life expectancy are all in Colorado. Over half of the 25 counties with the highest life expectancy are in the west. If you are curious, of the 25 counties in the United States with the lowest life expectancy, 5 are in Mississippi, 2 are in West Virginia, and 2 are in Arkansas.

What is it about the west that makes people happier and live longer? Maybe John Soule and Horace Greeley are right: “Go west young man”.

All 50 states from the top 20% to the bottom 20%

You can create a report for all 50 states by going here and using the “Quick Report Builder”.

More information is at the Gallup-Healthways web site.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN 200 YEARS AFTER HIS BIRTH

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government : of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

– The Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863

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