Tag

money

“Henrico, Virginia” Mailing Address Coming Soon

By business, news, opinion

If your mailing address is Richmond, Virginia, but you live most anywhere in Henrico County, your address will soon change to Henrico, Virginia. Why? Henrico County loses millions of dollars every year to the City of Richmond. Big corporate chains that are based outside of the area think that because the mailing address is Richmond, the taxes should be paid there. This adds up quickly. Well that’s interesting enough alone. But it gets better.

Henrico County sent out a mail survey asking residents if they wanted to change the name to Henrico or leave it Richmond. They also did a TV ad campaign. Fair enough. What I don’t get is that Richmond did an ad, too! Richmond Mayor Doug Wilder (leave it to him) decided it would be a competition and fought to keep the undeserved money in the city! Then again this is Doug Wilder we are talking about here. Should we be surprised in the least? He needs to go.

What If Gas Cost $10 A Gallon?

By environmental issues, news

As bad as gas prices are now, they could be far worse. In fact, they already are in other countries. This article explores how things would change if gas cost $10 a gallon. There would be no more pizza or newspaper delivery, plastic water bottles or other daily things we take for granted. FedEx, UPS, and taxis would be a luxury for the rich. But, after a short recession and period of adaptation to fuel costs, this article suggests we just might be better off because of the push that would ensue for alternative fuel, telecommuting, home rooftop gardens, etc. Check out the “what if” article by clicking here.

Ridiculous Ford F650 Parked Outside My House

By environmental issues, opinion, rants, sarcasm

I had just gotten out of the shower this morning when I heard what sounded like either a train or cruise ship horn go off in my cul-de-sac. I looked out my window and saw this monstrosity of a truck.

Upon closer examination, I found out it’s a Ford F650, and whoever drives it has a whole lot more money than sense, that’s all I’ve got to say. It pulled up to my neighbors’ house and they got in for a ride and went around the neighborhood. Then it disappeared again for a while, probably because it was time for another $400 tank of gas after going around the block once. The price of diesel is scary.

Who would want one of these? It’s just over the top. They’re made for hauling. Hummers are bad enough on gas, but whoever bought this thing oughtta be embarrassed. What a waste. Here’s a picture of it I snapped this morning:

VCU Police Are Seriously A Joke

By Uncategorized

VCU Police made complete fools out of themselves tonight with me, Allie, and Katelin. We were walking back to our cars in a VCU lot when all of a sudden three VCU cops on bikes roll up to my car and surround me. It was two men and one woman. They violated several of my rights and made complete idiots out of themselves. It was seriously like something off of Reno 911! (The woman cop almost kind of looked like the one from the show) It would almost be funny how ridiculous they were if it didn’t insult me so much the way they treated us. Here’s how the conversation went down:

POLICEMAN 1: “How are you this evening, sir? How much you had to drink tonight?”

ME: “Uh, nothing at all?”

POLICEMAN 1: “Why don’t you go ahead and step out of the car, sir. You were walking a little funny back there.” (I was walking a little funny? I was walking the way I always walk, and if you really want to investigate a real problem, go across the street to the hundreds of people at the Hyperlink waiting to get in the door and check them out because it definitely smelled like pot and everyone was running around and making a racket)

POLICEWOMAN: “There’s three of them, let me take one.”

POLICEMAN 2: “Shut up, I can handle this.” (I’m seriously not making this stuff up)

POLICEWOMAN: “Somebody’s been drinking, this place reeks of alcohol.”

ME: “Um, no, I haven’t had anything at all…”

POLICEWOMAN: “Yeah? What’s that under your seat?” (She points to an empty soft drink can wedged under my front seat, I pull it out, and she actually has the nerve to question it further)

ME: “I just need to clean out my car, I left that in there…”

POLICEWOMAN: “What did you have in that can and why is it empty?”

ME: “Root beer? It’s a soft drink can…” (She looks at it all suspiciously)

POLICEMAN 1: “Okay I’m gonna check your eyes out here real quick.” (He pulls out a pen and tells me to follow it with my eyes without moving my head) “What do you wear contacts for?” (You’ve got to be kidding me; what a stupid question… what do you think contacts are for?)

ME: “Farsightedness?” (I look at him in with that “Did you really just ask me that question, you idiot?” look)

POLICEMAN 2: “So do you have astigmatism or something?” (Oh come on)

ME: “Yes?”

POLICEMAN 1: “So has your passenger been drinking tonight?”

ME: “No, not at all.” (I later found out that while all of this was going on the policewoman was on the other side of the car questioning Allie and accusing us of hiding beer in a CVS bag in my back seat that had nothing in it but toothpaste and shampoo that I bought before we went down there)

POLICEMAN 1: “Okay, you’re good to go.”

Finally, we were free to go. I feel that several of our rights were violated in this situation:

1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe you can legally search someone’s vehicle without a warrant to find things that are not in plain view.

2. What was their probable cause? The fact that I was, in one of the cop’s opinions, “walking a little funny?” I was walking completely normal.

I’d also really like to know what in the world he was doing asking me why I wore contacts and was offended that he asked “how much” I had been drinking when the correct thing to ask would have been “have you had anything to drink tonight.” I do realize that they see a lot go on down there and have to be weary, but they completely jumped to conclusions and were accusatory to the point of being very unprofessional. They were poorly coordinated, argued amongst one another, and seemed to be on major power trips. They also completely fabricated several things, the biggest being that my car “reeked of alcohol.” There wasn’t, nor had there ever been, alcohol in my car, so I was completely bewildered, offended, and angry that they would make up such a blatant lie.

I was offended at how the situation was handled and feel that VCU Police are not doing a satisfactory job at all. I can’t speak for all VCU officers, but the unprofessional and unskilled behavior of this group leads me so far as to say that their salaries (that group specifically) are a waste of Virginia taxpayers’ money.

I feel this is something that needs to be shared, so pass it along.

The 2008 Deep Run Marathon Dance Raises $105,931.81 For Local Organizations!

By Uncategorized

I still can’t believe just how much money was raised at this year’s Deep Run Marathon Dance. $105,931.81! I headed up the Film Crew this year and had so much fun filming throughout the duration of the 27 hour dance. I’ll talk more about how that went in a moment. But I made an opening video to get everyone pumped, including a pep talk from the movie Miracle, that was shown before the dance started, then had a closing video at the end that included interviews with leaders from all ten of the benefiting organizations, video footage from the dance, and a dramatic grand total at the end.

I was kind of on the edge of my seat at the closing ceremony because it had taken me eight hours to compile and edit the closing video and I didn’t even have time to render a DVD. So I basically just played an AVI that I exported to my computer and held my breath hoping my Mac wouldn’t freeze while playing it. It was a huge 2.5 GB file, so I had plenty reason to worry. Fortunately it didn’t freeze and I think it turned out pretty good. I had been up for just about 40 hours straight by the time I finished it, so I also wondered if I had made any big editing mistakes based on the fact that I was so mentally tired I didn’t know what I was doing. No one had even seen the video but me until I presented it to hundreds and hundreds of people at the closing ceremony. But there again, it turned out pretty good I think. Both videos will be posted later today and will be accessible here, on my YouTube page, and Facebook.

I was on the fence about whether to do this on an annual basis, but after doing this for my second year in a row and seeing the energy, enthusiasm, and huge benefit of this dance, there’s no question that I’ll do this again every year. It was so liberating to be able to head up my own video project and manage five other people who filmed the dance this year. I usually work under other people and have less creative control. It was great for once to be able to have the final say in what was produced and call all the shots, with no one to tell me otherwise. Because of that, I was a lot less frustrated and more motivated to produce a great end result. It was an amazing feeling (and that’s not a knock on anyone I normally work with, because they do great work; it was just a big thing for me personally). It was also cool to be recognized for once and I was honored to be so warmly received at the end.

Some have said that I should focus even more time on other video production efforts instead of doing this, but I would argue that it’s something that I’m really proud to be a part of and have so much fun doing it because of the role I’m given to creatively produce something really exciting and unique. Plus the end result is amazing. An event that raises almost $106,000 for charity is something really spectacular to be a part of. I may even consider taking on other projects and helping out other charitable causes around the area at their respective events because I found working with the Deep Run Marathon Dance to be very impacting and rewarding. It was just incredible.

New Do For The Moo: Milk Carton Makeover

By Uncategorized

Richmond’s Costco stores are the test market for a new generation of milk jugs that could soon replace all that are on the market now and will save the industry ten cents per carton because they’re stackable. I just found this interesting when I looked in the refrigerator and saw the new, oddly-shaped gallon jug. I’ve got to say though, I really like them. Here’s a Richmond Times Dispatch article about the new jugs:

The iconic 1-gallon milk jug is getting a makeover. The streamlined plastic bottles showed up this month at Costco stores in the Richmond area, and they’re causing customers to do a double take in the dairy aisle. At home, people are having to relearn a skill they took for granted — how to pour milk without sloshing or dribbling.

The redesigned jugs are flat on top and have a wide cap at one corner. They pour more like a pitcher than a traditional gallon jug. Because they can be stacked, they save money — about 10 cents a gallon. Early reviews are mixed, which is what Costco experienced in other areas as customers got used to the new bottle. “I like the milk fine,” said A.T. Grady as he picked up one of the new containers at the Costco off Hull Street Road in Chesterfield County, “but I don’t like the jug it’s in. It’s harder to pour out. It’ll drip back down the jug if you’re not careful.”

His wife, Helen, was more willing to give it a chance. “It’s time for a change,” she said. “These milk jugs have been around since the ’60s. I wonder how long it’ll be before they get to the supermarket?” Mary Dennis was glad to hear about the lower cost. “It’s something to get used to,” she said. “If it saves a dime, I’m all for saving.”

Costco has been phasing in the new design since an Ohio dairy presented the idea in 2004, said Sandra Custer, corporate foods buyer at the national Costco office near Seattle. “We saw merit in it. We’ve been slowly rolling it out around the country ever since.” Traditional milk jugs must be loaded onto a metal rolling rack called a bossie cart for shipping. One bossie cart can hold 80 gallon jugs.

The new stackable design can be shipped on a pallet that holds 224 milk bottles. “That’s almost three times as much in a similar display space,” Custer said. “Those bossie carts are often stolen for scrap metal. . . . They have to be hauled back to the dairy. They rust in a cold, wet environment. Now it’s only a one-way haul.” The savings get passed along. In East Coast markets where the new jug has been introduced, customers may have “a little bit of comment at the beginning,” said Jim Stafford, vice president of merchandising for the Northeast market. However, milk sales have remained steady. Designers have been making modifications to the jug based on customer feedback, Stafford said. “We will do another cap at some point in the future. That’s probably a few months out.” From Custer’s viewpoint, there’s something good to be said about the reaction. “It’s certainly got people talking about milk.”

Finally, OBX To Get A Mid-Currituck Bridge!

By Uncategorized

Finally, after years and years of talk and no real solid plans, it looks as if the Outer Banks is finally going to get the long-debated Mid-Currituck Bridge! If you’ve ever been to the Outer Banks during the peak Summer season, you’ve no doubt been stuck in endless traffic coming over the Wright Memorial Bridge into Kitty Hawk. There has been much debate about whether to construct a second bridge farther north, or simply widen Route 12 (NC-12 is the road that stretches from north of Corolla southward to Cape Hatteras and is known as the Beach Road where it parallels Highway 158 in the more commercial stretch of the Outer Banks).

Those in support of the bridge opposed the only alternative, which would have been to widen NC-12 from two to four lanes from Kitty Hawk to Corolla, in turn destroying the character of the northern Outer Banks, especially in quaint villages such as Duck.

The Outer Banks is pretty much my second home. I go there all the time with family and friends. For the most part, I stay in either Corolla or Duck (or somewhere in between), both of which are a good 45 minutes north of the Wright Memorial Bridge, and that’s without traffic backups. The Mid-Currituck Bridge would not only alleviate congestion, but also shave a lot of time off travel for people like myself that stay on that stretch of beach. Think about it. If you’re driving from Richmond, you come in south down Highway 158 on the mainland, then go across the Wright Memorial Bridge, and drive north again, and by the time you reach your beach house you’re 7 miles from where you were two hours ago.

The new bridge has been approved (funding has been approved since 1989 but nothing has been done to start construction!) and construction will start in early 2009, opening tentatively in 2013! You’ll be able to fly on across the Currituck Sound once you reach Coinjock on the mainland and be right at the TimBuck II Shopping Complex near Corolla in 5 minutes! That knocks off nearly two hours from the 4 hour trip from Short Pump to Corolla! That’s pretty exciting, and makes it a lot more affordable to go down there gas-wise. There supposedly will be an $8 toll during the peak Summer season, but that’s far less than the money it would cost for gas to drive for two more hours, plus time is money. It’s estimated the project will cost between $340 and $745 million dollars. There are six current alignment proposals, which can be seen in the map graphic.

More Information:

Project Website

Project Map (PDF)

“Build The Bridge” Non-Profit Group Website

Mad Money – Review

By Uncategorized

WARNING: Spoiler Review! If you haven’t seen this movie and plan on it, you’ve been warned.

It was another one of those movie-going weekends. I went to see Mad Money. Now I was a little skeptical this would be anything good. No offense to Diane Keaton, but judging from the last few movies I’ve seen that she’s been in, I thought it was going to be another crazy, hormonal, midlife crisis-themed movie that had a “feel-good” ending. Although, I will say that I would have gone to see this movie solely because Katie Holmes is in it. But the bottom line is this movie was not my first pick, but Tori wanted to see it and I went along with it.

Diane Keaton stars as a woman in her fifties who just found out her husband lost his job and can’t seem to find a new one. The couple is ultimately has $286,000 in debt from unpaid bills that are piling up. They both conclude that they have to do something about it and Keaton gets a job working as a janitor at the Federal Reserve Bank. She then proceeds to get two people she meets there (played by Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes) to help her pull off a scheme to steal millions of dollars that are to be destroyed, and are hence untraceable. They switch out the locks on the cases that transport the warn out money to the shredders and proceed to dump money into the trash where no one can see. Since Keaton is a janitor, she takes the trash (and money) out with her. They even recruit one of the security guards to help them extend and deepen their plot.

It’s not until their spending goes out of control that the Feds start to notice. They are all eventually arrested and detained, except for Keaton, who is still on the run. She consults with a friend who happens to be a lawyer and he shows that the authorities have no proof the group ever stole the money from the facility. They end up with no jail time whatsoever, under the condition that they give all the money to the IRS. They give a lot of it back, but Keaton proceeds to show the other two that she still has a huge stockpile of cash in her basement, hidden in trash bags.

Keaton gives a superb performance in this film, and a refreshing one for her, at that. Katie Holmes is bubbly and somewhat offbeat in the movie, but in a humorous way. She offsets the usual seriousness of the other two nicely. Queen Latifah also is a great supporting actress who works well with the other two.

After seeing Untraceable the night before this movie, I was, believe it or not, inclined to see similarities in the two films. They both involve schemes that are very believable and their plots could be pulled off with lots of work by criminal masterminds.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, whose facility was somewhat fictitiously featured in this film, has a page concerning the differences in the movie and its actual day-to-day operation. They claim such a scheme could never be pulled off, but I’m not so sure. I think everything has a loophole or two, no matter how much security is put in place, if criminals are willing to put the time and effort into it.

Click here to see the page the Feds put up about the film.

Overall Rating:

Microsoft’s Next Step Toward World Domination: Purchasing Yahoo!

By Uncategorized

I really hate Microsoft, for so many reasons. This just deepens my loathing of the mega software giant. They’re apparently taking a big leap towards taking over the world and killing us all, this time by snatching up Yahoo for a cool $44.6 billion dollars. I don’t even really use Yahoo besides their Flickr service, and consider them way behind in terms of technology and services compared to Google, whose many services and cool technologies I fully implement and support. This deal seems rather hostile and will position Microsoft as an even bigger, more monopolistic company. I still don’t think Yahoo will ever really be able to compete with Google on a level playing field. They are so ingrained into people’s minds as THE premiere search provider that there’s just no way to knock them off their high horse. I’ll be very interested to see where this whole thing goes.

Microsoft Corp. went public Friday with an offer to buy Yahoo Inc. for $44.6 billion, a move designed to create a more credible competitor to industry leader Google Inc. and deepen Microsoft’s position in the market for online business software.

The unsolicited approach, outlined by Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer in a letter sent Thursday night to Yahoo’s board and published Friday, is aimed at pressing Yahoo to agree to a combination it rejected a year ago. Yahoo acknowledged the proposal and said it would be evaluated “carefully and promptly.”

The offer, for $31 a share in cash and stock, represents a 62% premium to Yahoo’s closing price Thursday. It comes offer comes as Yahoo continues to struggle against Google in the race for online-advertising revenue and Internet- search market share despite efforts to upgrade its systems. Yahoo’s shares have lost about 40% of their value over the past three months.

“While a commercial partnership may have made sense at one time, Microsoft believes that the only alternative now is the combination of Microsoft and Yahoo! that we are proposing,” Ballmer said in the letter to Yahoo’s board.

Yahoo shares jumped 55% to $29.72 in premarket trading. Microsoft fell 4.7% to $31.08 premarket. Google, down about 6% premarket after issuing weaker than expected fourth-quarter results late Thursday, and saw its stock slip further after the announcement and was recently down nearly 7%. The announcement pushed U.S. stock index futures higher.

A deal would bring together two pioneers in their respective industries that stagnated as new competitors did a better job of adapting to changing technology and the habits of users. It’s unclear how the combination of those cultures would work. Microsoft is widely viewed as a lumbering technology giant struggling to become more nimble, while Yahoo is trying to recapture the spark of its more free-wheeling days as an Internet startup.

Yahoo, however, would add a commanding presence in Internet content and users to Microsoft’s deep pockets and near monopoly over the desktop software that enables most routine computer use.

“In our view there is a compelling case that says yes, although the risks of a culture mismatch and potential employee attrition would have to be managed carefully,” Goldman Sachs analyst Sarah Friar said in a note. Goldman Sach has an investment banking relationship with Microsoft. It wasn’t immediately known whether Goldman is advising on the Yahoo offer.

Microsoft said Yahoo holders would be able to trade each of their shares for $ 31 in cash or 0.9509 of a Microsoft share, pro-rated so that no more than half of the overall purchase price is paid in cash. The deal values Yahoo at 65 times earnings. Currently, it trades at 40 times earnings, according to FactSet Research. Yahoo shares haven’t traded at $31 since November.

The companies held talks about partnering or merging in late 2006 and early 2007. Those talks included the potential of a merger proposal, but Yahoo told Microsoft in February it wasn’t interest in being acquired.

He noted Yahoo’s decision at the time was based on the “potential upside” of its own plans and a “significant organizational alignment,” led by the long- awaited overhaul to its search-advertising system dubbed Project Panama.

“A year has gone by, and the competitive situation has not improved,” Ballmer wrote.

Microsoft noted the market for online advertising is “increasingly dominated by one player. Together, Microsoft and Yahoo can offer competitive choice while better fulfilling the needs of customers and partners.”

Microsoft and Yahoo each have struggled to get bigger in Internet searches and search advertising despite heavy investment. Google was by far the most-used U.S. search engine in December, with a 58.4% market share, compared with 22.9% for No. 2 Yahoo and 9.8% for No. 3 Microsoft, according to data from ComScore Inc. (SCOR).

“The fact is that in this particular industry, scale matters,” Kevin Johnson, Microsoft’s president of platforms and services, said in an interview.

The company added the deal would also result in “combined engineering talent to accelerate innovation,” a hint that Microsoft can’t alone take on Google with its current staff. Microsoft said it would offer “significant retention packages” to employees, executives and engineers across Yahoo.

Microsoft expects at least $1 billion in annual cost savings and revenue enhancements from a deal, which it says could close in the second half of the year.

Takeover speculation fired back up after Yahoo late Tuesday posted a drop in fourth-quarter net income and issued a 2008 outlook that fell short of analysts’ expectations. Goldman Sachs analyst John Marshall, in a report published Friday, said the chances of a Microsoft bid for Yahoo had risen and recommended buying options on Yahoo. He cited the growing importance of the online services business to Microsoft. The software giant also cited that business, which involves licensing companies to use constantly updated software applications accessed via the Internet.

Speculation about a Yahoo buyout has swirled since last year, when Microsoft’s interest in such a deal was reported. Buying Yahoo would theoretically place Microsoft as significant competitor in the Internet search market, where it has so far lagged behind both Yahoo and Google. Microsoft, which has thriving software businesses that could fund a much deeper foray into Internet markets, hadn’t actively dispelled rumors it was considering an acquisition of Yahoo.

Microsoft said it will host a conference call to discuss the proposal at 8:30 a.m. EST. The company is to present a strategic update for analysts Monday in New York.