Life In Heck

Is social & political commentary from a moderate's POV. I try to find humor in a situation whenever possible.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I'm in a No Fly Zone

I love to travel.  However, for the first time in my life I am so glad that I have no plans to go anywhere, any time soon.  Why, you ask… the in-flight “terror.”  Ever since the British Airways 10 flight explosion plan was foiled Security inanities, inconvenience, hyper-suspicion, fighter jet escort, emergency landing & detentions have become the norm.  It’s now a wonder if your flight gets off the ground, reasonably on time & makes it all the way to the destination of choice.  

Let’s forget a minute about some of the incidents of the last 2 weeks, inclusive of the toy transmitter that shut down a terminal for 4 hours & the claustrophobic woman that peed in the aisle on the plane bringing fighter jet escorts, & look at the 6 incidents of Friday morn alone.  

  • On a Continental flight from Argentina that landed in Houston, a bomb sniffing dog discovered dynamite residue on a student’s checked luggage.  (The student’s explanation, which is being investigated, was that he was a mine worker who frequently handled explosives on the job.)  The Customs area was shut down & the plane that did go on to Connecticut was kept from the terminal as a precaution.

  • A utility knife was found on a vacant passenger seat of a U.S. Airways flight traveling from Philadelphia to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.  When the plane arrived at Bradley, state troopers boarded the aircraft, seized the knife as evidence and interviewed passengers.  No arrests were made.

  • A U.S. Airways jet was diverted to Oklahoma City after a federal air marshal reportedly subdued a passenger who was involved in an incident with a flight attendant, officials said.  The nature of the problem between the passenger and the flight attendant.  (Maybe he complained that there was NO FOOD on the flight.)

  • An American Airlines flight from England to Chicago was forced to land in Bangor, Maine, for security reasons.  "The TSA learned of a reported threat to the aircraft while it was en route," TSA spokeswoman Andrea McCauley said. She declined to give further details.

  • A Continental Airlines Flight for Bakersfield, Texas, was diverted to El Paso after the crew discovered a missing panel in the lavatory, said Amy von Walter, a Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman.  Passengers were screened and interviewed upon landing in El Paso.

  • An Aer Lingus flight from New York to Dublin was evacuated Friday morning during a scheduled stopover in western Ireland following a bomb threat that turned out to be unfounded, officials said.

To say that passengers on-board these flights & in the terminals at the respective airports were inconvenienced is understatement. To say that the while in flight the passengers must have been “on edge” is also understatement.

Since passengers now spend an excruciating 90 minutes or more in Security lines, with another random check to make certain that nothing liquid or gel-like has been purchased in the terminal post-Security screening, how do knives, missing bathroom panels, residue on luggage, etc. get missed?  The answer should be obvious; too much time is being wasted by TSA workers on minutia like mascara & tubes of lip gloss.  And since everyone gets screened equally, the time a screener has to look at you & your carry on luggage amounts to seconds.  (Have you ever seen the image on a security scanner?  It looks like an X-ray in black & white.  We have cell phones that can play movies, but a security screener is still looking at inferior imaging that could prevent disaster.)  

I am not suggesting that Security Check-In become even more challenging & laborious.  I state that we must get over being Politically Correct & begin PROFILING.  Yes, I said it.  Once again when we look at the names of 23 suspects in England that were arrested in the thwarted bomb plot, there is not a Smith, Jones, O’Reilly or Johnson among them.  They were all men & women under the age of 40 of Middle Eastern descent.  (Also note there were no 80 year old grandmothers in wheelchairs either.)  Behavioral experts must watch Security lines & extract anyone that acts suspicious or inappropriate. Those persons can then be taken into a private area where a deep search can be conducted. Flight manifests must be studied well in advance to match names against existing terrorist lists, as well as to study any peculiar travel history.

Currently passengers are putting up with the inconveniences.  But with almost all the airlines in bankruptcy protection, something has to be done to improve & expedite service at the airport.  Passengers, particularly the industry’s bread & butter – the business traveler – will lose patience & find alternate means of transportation.  This will particularly impact the short haul flight.  (If you calculate that I can drive from Los Angeles to San Fran in 4 ½ hours, why would I pay in pain to spend the same amount of time at the airport?)  

Airport & Flight safety is of paramount importance.  More security must be applied to cargo & mail that is shipped on the same plane that you & I board.  Restrictions to baggage areas must become stricter (particularly now that we can’t carry on many of our valuables & can’t lock our luggage either).  And like it or not, greater scrutiny must be given to those from terror sponsored countries.  Yes, profiling is an ugly word when it refers to black man in a predominately white neighborhood.  But profiling is prudent when it comes to passenger safety.



************************************************************************
Are you a Woman that’s been afraid to drive alone, late at night or in unknown terrain?  Well that’s been remedied by the "Buddy on Demand." At the flick of a switch, the lone femme driver will be joined by a blow-up male passenger that inflates instantly beside her. This innovation was designed by a Women's car insurance company Sheila’s' Wheels. For auto insurance quotes from innovative companies like Sheila’s Wheels, in all 50 states comparison shop conveniently with CarInsurance.com  You can not only purchase online but contact their professional call center for assistance.

I’ve written about Simmons Jannace & Stagg before.  Here is another case on which the law firm has done excellent work.  With the 5th anniversary of September 11th upon us, it is timely to look at a case concerning a 9/11 widow.  As you should know, the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund was created for those who lost loved ones in the attack. The Fund is a no-fault system designed to maximize compensation to the families of victims. Contingency fees by attorneys representing families of the lost were considered unethical. Simmons, Jannace & Stagg was asked by a widow to represent her in connection with a lawsuit filed in federal court by the attorney who represented her before the Victims Compensation Fund. The attorney sought $2,000,000 as a contingency fee. He filed suit in federal court seeking a declaratory judgment entitling him to his fee. It’s always interesting when lawyers sue lawyers.  The proceedings can get complicated for the laymen. Simmons, Jannace & Stagg moved to dismiss the federal action, arguing that the Victims Compensation Fund did not provide federal jurisdiction for an action by an attorney seeking to protect his fee. Simmons, Jannace & Stagg also argued that there was no reported case that upheld jurisdiction under the Fund where the issue concerned a private dispute between an attorney and his former client concerning the amount of a legal fee. Additionally they argued that the federal court should abstain because the state Surrogate’s Court had already begun an inquiry into the size of the attorney’s fee. To make a long story short, Simmons, Jannace & Stagg’s argument set legal precedence & they successfully litigated the case.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Who Won?

Iranian President Ahmadinejad declares that Hezbollah has "hoisted the banner of victory over Israel.”  In Syria, President Bashar Assad almost simultaneously releases a similar statement, “Washington's plans for the Middle East were turned into an illusion by Hezbollah's resistance to the Israeli military.”  Hezbollah leader, Nasrallah defiantly proclaims, “A strategic, historic victory against Israel.”

Conversely Israeli Prime Minister Olmert told Parliament that the offensive “has changed the strategic balance in the region, ending the "state within a state" run by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.”  In President Bush’s news briefing regarding the ceasefire, he sided with Israel as  victor.  “Hezbollah started the crisis, and Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis. And the reason why is, is that first, there is a new -- there's going to be a new power in the south of Lebanon, and that's going to be a Lebanese force with a robust international force to help them seize control of the country, that part of the country.”

Those outside the Arab world want to agree with an Israeli victory.  If you look at sheer numbers in regard to devastation & mortality Hezbollah definitely would be the loser.  However, Israel’s stated directive was to wipe out Hezbollah.  Clearly this was NOT accomplished. As Shep Smith, Fox news anchor on the ground in Beirut pointed out to a surprised Sean Hannity (8/15/06) that, “They (Hezbollah) are very much in control of Beirut.  They are the humanitarian effort.  They are the peace keeping force.  To the north of Beirut & to the south of Beirut the Hezbollah flag is flying.  This extends even to the remote mountain regions.  The people who run the (Lebanese) government are deferring to them.”  

I truly don’t think anyone won this conflict.  Nasrallah’s justification for the original offensive was to bargain for the release of numerous Hezbollah political prisoners held in Israel.  Thus far he has not succeeded in securing their release.  Since many of these prisoners are nefarious, it is unlikely that any but the lowest level operatives would be released. With the sporadic bomb still being lobbed at the Israeli soldiers on the border, it is unlikely that a lasting peace have been attained.

Additionally the utter decimation of many towns & villages & with Hezbollah performing the bulk of the humanitarian & building efforts, their influence will spread.  When you are hungry, thirsty & have no home, one tends to appreciate & side with those who provide aid & comfort (even though the devastation was provoked by the “comforters”).  As of this writing the 2 kidnapped Israeli soldiers are still being held captive.  Hence, after over a month of bloodshed & destruction on both sides of the border, no group is better off or has attained their goals.

In the eyes of the Western World Hezbollah has proven themselves to be tireless, well-trained fighters.  Their utter hatred & contempt for Israel & the Western world is on the radar. (Al Qaeda had stolen their press.)   In the eyes of the Arab World Hezbollah has reasserted itself as beloved brothers & golden warriors of Allah.  Lebanese citizens have been painted as victims, while Israelis have been drawn as the aggressors & deserving of whatever suffering received.   These perceptions are all terribly skewed.  NO SIDE WON. It was a stalemate.  This terrible game continues to play out.  The leaders & instigators bear little of the burden of suffering.  It is the innocents that always receive the consequences of their leaders’ actions.  

***************************************************************************************
In spite of the new airline carry-on restrictions, do you need a vacation?  Want to go to Paradise & maintain that feeling of private luxury?  Then renting a Hawaii Condo  is right for you.  Gebhart Properties (www.gebhartproperties.com) has launched a new website that features premiere Hawaii resort and ocean front vacation homes for rent on both the Big Island and Maui. Stay at a hotel & you’ll listen to other guests on the way to the ice machine or the elevators.  Stay in a private residence & you will enjoy such luxurious and convenient features like spacious living areas, private wading pools, ocean views from your private lanais & custom furnishings.  Just a few of the offerings on the site include: Hale Nani Loa Maka, our Kolea Villa, is a 3BR/3BA penthouse located at the Waikoloa Beach Resort. It sleeps 6 and offers 2,576 square feet of living space. You’ll enjoy outstanding views of Anaeho'omalu Bay and Kileaua. Hale Ke Kai is Gebhart’s luxe BR/4BA two-level private home in Kailua-Kona.  It comfortably sleeps up to 8 people with dual master suites. In Old Lahaina, book a stay at their incredible 2BR/2BA corner-unit condo located on the third floor of the Mahana at Kaanapali Resort in Maui. This resort, the only property in Kaanapali that runs parallel to the ocean, is located a mere thirty feet back from the beach! To learn more about their incomparable property offers, browse their website’s Hawaii residential real estate at http://www.gebhartproperties.com/Resort/Hawaii.html or call 1-800-545-5151 to book your stay.

In the travel vein… are you planning a trip to La Jolla, California?  If you are, the La Jolla restaurant to be is Trattoria Acqua. Trattoria Acqua offers what few other restaurants in San Diego (or anywhere outside of Italy) can: fresh seafood from the Mediterranean Sea on your plate within 24 hours of being caught.  Located a hill overlooking the La Jolla Cove and Pacific Ocean, the view is as enticing as the food. And the food is magnificent. This eatery is one of few La Jolla seafood restaurants that have won a copious amount of awards over the past seven years! I have dined there & it was the best meal I’ve had this side of Italy.  Visit their vibrant website www.trattoriaacqua.com & you’ll want to book a reservation right then & there; particularly after you read the menu!  With specialty dishes like Muscoli Gratinati: baked New Zealand green lip mussels with bread crumbs, ground almonds, garlic and fresh herbs & Tiramisu & a fine wine cellar you will have a dining experience to remember, long after the trip.


There is an interesting plastic surgery website, Mybodypart.com that offers something that I’ve seen no other site offer.  In addition to the usual before & after photo, surgical definitions, risks, recovery information, this site offers virtual plastic surgery makeover software that can be downloaded for free. The software comes in a sleek graphical user interface and lets users edit their pictures and lets them see for themselves what particular look and style best suit them.  The site also offers free consultation and guaranteed financing help those who badly need cosmetic surgery but cannot afford to pay the cost in full.  So if you are considering Breast Lift Surgery, body contouring, or facial cosmetic surgery, please click through & peruse.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Critiquing the Coverage: Lieberman & Gibson

I have been MIA, out of commission to due to what is called “tennis elbow” (another type of repetitive motion injury). I don’t play tennis; I’m just on the computer all the time. (I’d be thinner & more toned if I played tennis.) Anyway, I’ve been watching the events played out in the world in silence (well, other than the inner dialogue or when I scream at the TV). When I step back, as I have been forced to, I am just appalled at what passes for news & then how the story is beaten into the ground. Two cases in point: the Connecticut primary & the Mel Gibson arrest rant.

As we know, Joe Lieberman did lose the Connecticut Democratic primary. (& he has since filed to run as an independent.) However, this loss was projected DAYS BEFORE ANYONE EVEN WENT TO THE VOTING BOOTH. Doesn’t this beg the question that had the media not been like a rabid dog with this story perhaps the outcome may have been different? By replaying the State of the Union kiss between Lieberman & Bush ad infinitum, any & all Bush hater’s passion was ignited against Joe. I think Joe Lieberman is a decent man, a moderate Democrat of the ilk of a JFK. But that’s not currently what “sells” in the Democratic Party. I just can’t help but think that the Media tolled Joe’s death knell.

As far as Mel Gibson goes… he disgraced himself, no doubt. He embarrassed his family. His lack of self control & then arrogant behavior at the time of his arrest is without excuse. (His “I own Malibu” rant & calling a female officer, “Sugar Tits” are as equally offensive as the Jewish comments.) However, the week of intense media scrutiny afterwards was a travesty. Get over it world, he’s only an actor. An overpaid, full-of-himself actor, that was incredibly drunk at the time. Alcohol makes you stupid! Anyone who’s ever been drunk can tell you a stupid, humiliating story. (Did things you never would have done, said things you regretted afterwards, fell down & went boom….) It’s just that when you’re famous, it’s like that stupidity becomes gospel.

Since when has alcohol become akin to truth serum?! Yes, I’ve told secrets when I was drunk because I let down my guard. But I’ve also told big, fat, exaggerations & outright lies as well. We all have told someone what we thought they wanted to hear when drinking, particularly in a bar. And many times loaded people say things they don’t mean… harsh, unkind things, because there are nasty drunks. (As opposed to the loopy, “I love you, man” kind of drunk.) & apparently Mel Gibson becomes a nasty, ornery drunk.

Although Mel apologized 2x & begged for the Jewish Community to help him with his recovery, he still had to be publicly flogged 24/7. The analysis by the pundits from every angle & facet was like dissecting proposals to end world poverty. All this solemnity was played against the backdrop of the same six silly images of a drunken Mel, shot by cell phones. Why is the world not as outraged by the rants of Ahmadinejad& Nasrallah?


*************************************************************************************
The chicest street in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive is no longer just high class shopping & trendy bistros. Rodeo Drive is now home to RODEO DRIVE PLASTIC SURGERY, across the street from Chanel & Hugo Boss. To match the prestigious location, Dr. Lloyd Krieger, M.D., has assembled a team of physicians and allied health care professionals trained at the best medical schools in the country. Says Krieger, “We not only use the most advanced surgical techniques, but we also have the most sophisticated equipment.” Dr. Krieger adds, “Because this exclusive street represents the highest standards in taste and service. Rodeo Drive Plastic Surgery brings these same standards to your plastic surgery care.” The luxury of Rodeo Drive can be also be found inside the clinic, from the beautifully crafted leather patient exam chairs and incredibly comfortable operating tables. Each suite is a different soft shade of sherbet, such as lime, banana and peach, with overhead lighting details to match. There are even Andy Warhols in the lobby waiting area. So if you are considering cosmetic surgery, why not click here to find out more about Rodeo’s Drive’s Los Angeles plastic surgeon.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Am I really talking about the Weather?!

I am just so crazy from the heat that I can’t even seem to focus long enough to write a column of great intelligence. (Forgive me, but I got to pay the bills!)  In Los Angeles where typically we only experience a few hot days scattered over the summer months, we’ve endured 3 weeks of triple digits.  Our nights that are typically delightfully breezy & cool, have only seen reductions to the mid-80s.  I have become woosified from my days of New York summers & the unbearable humidity.  (What a minute it’s been humid here too… maybe Al Gore is right!) Those New York summers I used to wander the festival of the streets to the wee hours of the morning & go home to sleep in the bathtub.  

Last night the meteorologists were reporting that this might be the worst summer for the planet in 50 years. England, where they won’t even drink iced tea or a cold beer, has been experiencing high 90s.  

But when I think about complaining some more (& we’re not quite into August yet), I remember our fighting men & women in the heat of Afghanistan & Iraq.  The weather there is typically around 120.  Then add the dust storms to that temperature.  Plus they get to carry heavy weapons, wear door stomping boots in addition to their body armor.  Unbearable!  Therefore when you think that you have something to complain about while you sit around in your underwear, PRAY FOR THE TROOPS!  & may this global heat wave break!
************************************************************************************
My sponsor, Primestyle.com offers an extraordinary array of diamond jewelry inclusive of diamond rings.  Since diamonds are there business; they offer the legend of the HOPE DIAMOND.  (I have seen the stone & it is perfection in quality, its large size, and its rare blue color. The Hope diamond is truly unique.) It is said that a curse befell the diamond when it was stolen by a man named Tavernier from a statue of the Hindu goddess Sita, in India.  This curse foretold bad luck and death not only for the owner of the diamond but for all who touched it. For Tavernier’s transgression, according to the legend, he was torn apart by wild dogs on a trip to Russia (after he had sold the diamond). This was the first horrible death attributed to the curse. The French blue, as it was then known passed through a succession of owners, including Louis XV & Marie Antoinette.  After their deaths, it mysteriously moved around from a Spanish Queen to a Dutch Diamond Cutter.  The next known rightful owner, who gave it the name that it now goes by, was Harry Hope. The Hope moved on. An Eastern European prince gave it to an actress of the Folies Bergere and later shot her. A Greek owner and his family plunged to their death over a precipice in an automobile accident. The Turkish sultan Abdul-Hamid II had owned the gem only a few months when an army revolt toppled him from his throne in 1909. Evelyn Walsh McLean, a wealthy and eccentric American social figure, bought the Hope diamond in 1911. Her son was killed in an automobile accident, her husband died in a mental hospital, and her daughter died in 1946 of an overdose of sleeping pills. After Mrs. McLean’s death in 1947, New York jeweler Harry Winston purchased her jewels, including the Hope. He gave the gem to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in 1958, no doubt with a certain sense of relief.Although you won't find the Hope Diamond at Primestyle.com you will find the finest selection of Quality Diamonds & Jewelry at Low Prices. Located in the world famous diamond district of Manhattan, Primestyle.com ensures that you will NEVER PAY RETAIL PRICES AGAIN...PERIOD!


While property prices may have cooled around the country, realty in Orlando is continues to be HOT.  Orlando is NOT just Theme parks, but a thriving community that sports a rich history & diversity.  In Orlando offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle of downtown with a mixture of historic homes and luxury condominiums with great views of the city. (Vintage homes may be found in the historic neighborhoods of Thorton Park, Lake Eola Heights, Lake Lawsona, Lake Cherokee, and Lake Copeland.) It is home to a diversity of restaurants, retailers and bars within walking distance. Beautiful Lake Eola, sponsors festivals, outdoor concerts& gondola rides. The sports complex, theater, and opera are all centrally located.  Also Orlando is the gateway to the rest of the state.  In a short drive you can be in the rolling hills of horse country or the natural beauty of the Everglades. Until I learned about Windermere Real Estate   I didn’t know that there were agencies that only represented the BUYER, NEVER THE SELLER. This gives you a full time Buyer Agent that understands contracts, house values, options, negotiations & 1031's. By using creative thinking, Windermere Real Estate will do their absolute best to negotiate the most favorable terms.


Epocrates has made the exciting announcement that clinicians and support staff can now access an online version of its free and trusted mobile drug and formulary guide, used by more than 500,000 healthcare professionals. Epocrates Online provides clinicians with access to critical information about more than 3,300 drugs, like Zithromax.  Also information may be found in the guide like dosing, pricing, potential drug interactions and Medicare Part D formulary coverage.  This may be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection. Doctors, Clinicians, Pharmacists & other professionals rave about the service since all the necessary, relevant information may be ACCESSED AT ONE SOURCE. This enables clinicians to focus on their patients rather than having to reference multiple websites or search through medical texts for information. What is even more astounding, is that the data base now includes formulary information for more than 130 health plans and hundreds of Medicare Part D formularies. Healthcare professionals can quickly and easily obtain formulary status, drug coverage and alternative and generic drug options for their patients’ health plans with Epocrates Online.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Israel / Hezbollah: only the beginning


Al-Qaeda’s #2 man Ayman al-Zawahiri declared in an 8 minute video:  "The war with Israel does not depend on cease-fires. ... It is a jihad (holy war) for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq. We will attack everywhere."
Iranian leader Ahmadinejad said Thursday:  “Israel should know that they cannot end the business that they have begun. The occupying regime of Palestine has actually pushed the button of its own destruction by launching a new round of invasion and barbaric onslaught on Lebanon.”
And just 2 days after Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah vowed his guerrillas would fire rockets beyond Haifa, with the launch of a new rocket the Khaibar-1, this has been accomplished.
In an impassioned speech, shortly after the Israeli security cabinet decided not to significantly expand the country's Lebanon offensive, .Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz vowed that Hezbollah will "not return to what it was" and that "anyone who attacks Israel awaits the same fate."
This is just a small sampling of recent quotes.  Any day of the week you can locate negative, death to Israel, wipe them off the map speeches among the Middle Eastern leaders. While I pity the Lebonese citizens that are caught in the crossfire, Israel must prove that it can & will defend itself against any & all aggression.  
This current conflict has been miscalculated by both combatants.  Nasrallah has publicly admitted that he never expected the intensity of Israel’s response to the soldiers’ kidnapping.   He only planned to use the hostages to secure the release of Hezbollah prisoners. Similarly, Israeli soldiers have been consistently surprised by the intensity of the engagement with the Hezbollah fighters.  In spite of numerous air strikes, Hezbollah still manages to lob hundreds of missiles daily into Israel.
It is time for MODERATE (IF they really exist) Islamic nations to get involved & help broker a peace. It is time for Muslim leaders all over the world to speak out against this aggression.  It is not enough that Rice, Bush & Blair negotiate.  (But it is time to take Kofi Annan out of the equation, He is a useless wimp!) Europe, the appeasement brokers, must discover their gonads & talk tough.  With the rise of radical Muslims in both Spain & France, (the protests in France yesterday should be a clear warning to Chirac) the conflagration will spread.  Like the Nazis that rolled throughout Russia & Europe in the 1930s & 40s, it will become increasingly difficult to stop the terrorism reign.
************************************************************************
As anyone who operates an internet business knows, it’s all about SEARCH POSITIONING that drives traffic to one’s site or someone else’s.  That’s why Google’s new, experimental search engine (http://labs.google.com/accessible) could be good news for the blogger & smaller businesses.  Accessible Web Search uses Google’s standard PageRank and goes an additional step by evaluating the usability of each Web page it displays.   How can the small business man & the blogger take advantage of this new software to maximize traffic?  It’s all about being well coded & making use of a search engine marketing firm whose only business is to help you take advantage of internet developments & trends.  If you Google the term “online marketing” Google’s #1 result is usweb.com.  The reason is simple; the USWeb site was created in Web Standards, and in compliance with Web Accessibility guidelines. As an industry leader with a proven track record in search engine optimization, USWeb will naturally optimize your Website to ensure that your Website achieves and maintains high rankings for your keywords and in the Internet's leading search engines and directories (Google, Inktomi, Yahoo, AOL, MSN, etc.).  Doesn’t it make sense to work with the company that ranks #1?

PowerOpt.com has an under-utilized way to make dividend like income through. options trading.  Purchasing shares of high dividend paying companies is a great way to increase profits. Are you holding stocks that never seem to pay a dividend? Without selling, you can squeeze dividend-like income from your non-dividend paying stocks. Most stocks offer publicly traded options. You make these transactions with your broker, similar to buying and selling stocks. A CALL OPTION gives another investor the right to buy shares from you at a price you set anytime before a certain date. You collect a premium by selling the call and you get the premium, in cash, on the day you sell the option. Just like a dividend. COVERED CALLS is another strategy. This means the strike (expiration) price of the option is at or above the current stock price. If you set the strike price so high the stock doesn't reach that price, you keep your stock. Widely held, heavily-traded stocks like Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOG), and Ebay (EBAY) are perfect for this strategy. Be aware that Option Premiums fluctuate. However, you can sell options each month, up to 12 times a year, after they expire. It's not unusual to see return rates of 12% over sixty days, which works out to an astounding 72% annual return just on stocks you already have. Ready to investigate further? PowerOptions.com offers educational materials and premium toll-free customer support. PowerOptions.com provides the essential data you need to invest with stock options. Their patented SmartSearchXL® technology enables you to Find, Compare, Analyze, and Make Money on Stock Option Trading.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Middle East: Total Disgust

Like the wild fires in SoCal, the Middle East is a conflagration!  Israeli tanks roll into Lebanon.  A tentative cease fire along the Gaza Strip is brokered by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, although 2 guerrilla groups (Al Aqsa Brigades & Islamic Jihad) said no agreement had been reached.     And the instant that the vehicle ban in Baghdad is lifted, seven Shiites died in a drive-by shooting near Baghdad International Airport.  Additionally two large explosions struck eastern Baghdad. One killed a U.S. soldier near the Rasheed military camp while the other targeted an Iraqi police patrol but killed a civilian.  Two rockets exploded later Saturday in the heavily guarded Green Zone.  However, there was no report of casualties.  In Afghanistan NATO forces report killing 19 Taliban fighters.
The White House & all that pray for peace had hoped that the seating of the new National Government on May 20th, by the Iraqi people, for the Iraqi people, would’ve quelled some of the violence.  However, since Prime Minister al-Maliki took office the fighting between the Shia & the Sunni have intensified, particularly in & around Baghdad.  (al-Maliki is scheded to visit the White House this week.)
Also Saturday, a government committee, (with a big impressive name) the Supreme National Committee for Reconciliation and National Dialogue formed to reconcile Iraq's sectarian and political groups held its first meeting.  While opening a dialogue between the various Iraqi sects is an excellent thing, it became apparent immediately after the meeting the wide gap between the Sunnis & the Shiites.  A large disparity exists over amnesty for insurgents, as evidenced by the statements made by each party leader.  
Prime Minister al-Maliki, a Shiite, told reporters that despite his proposal for amnesty for some insurgents, "all those whose hands were tainted with blood should be brought to justice."  
In direct apposition, the Sunni speaker of parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, said "if we punish a person who killed an American soldier, who is an occupier, we should punish the American soldiers who killed an Iraqi who fought against occupation."
The disparities remind me of the squabbling of Dems & Repubs.  In a democratic society, disagreements, arguments & compromise are all part of the package.  However, while the mudslinging & rhetoric is harsh at times in the U.S., the political factions are NOT slaughtering each other.  

As I have said all along, the only thing that will broker a peace in the Iraq is if the country sees themselves as ONE PEOPLE, ONE GOVERNMENT as was the Election Slogan.  However, this goes against thousands of years of history & religious culture.  It is becoming painfully evident that this will take YEARS to solve.

I am so disgusted with the entire Middle East at this moment that I don’t care if they all bomb each other into extinction.  Since biblical times they have fought each other.  They have a taste for blood in the name of religion.  Nothing has changed.  With the exception of lending diplomatic assistance, leave them to their own devices.

Oh yeah, we can’t do that because of the oil!  It’s a vicious cycle.  
*******************************************************************
It’s wedding season & also the time when summer romances bloom.  Hence my sponsors, TheKnot.com wants to give you some tips about your wedding budget. Regardless of whether you are planning an intimate affair or a lavish soiree, you need a budget. First, Who's Paying for what? It used to be that the bride’s family picked up the tab, but now and more groom's families participate. Ask the families to commit to a specific dollar amount. Then decide how much you two can contribute between now and the wedding. How Much Do You Actually Need? When it comes to financing a wedding, you should figure out how much you need to spend to get what you want. Set your expectations accordingly. Knot Note: The average cost for a 150-person wedding is about $25,000 (higher in urban areas). * Here is a basic breakdown of what you can expect to pay: Reception: 48%-50% Ceremony: 2%-3% Attire: 8%-10% Flowers: 8%-10% Entertainment/Music: 8%-10% Photography/Videography: 10%-12% Other expenses are: Stationery: 2%-3% Wedding Rings: 2%-3% Parking/Transportation: 2%-3% Gifts: 2%-3% (Included in this figure are your Personalized Wedding Favors  -- everyone expects to go home with those)  Miscellaneous: 8% * To avoid stress, allot about 5% of your budget for a "just-in-case" fund.


I’ve spoken about this law firm previously in conjunction with the Paralympic swimmer, Nancy Burpee, case.  While that fell under their specialty of labor & employment; Simmons Jannace & Stagg  also specializes in Commercial Litigation, Banking Law, Municipal Law & General Liability Defense.  90% of their practice is spent in litigation.  
In the event you don’t know the Burpee story, Simmons Jannace & Stagg represented Ms. Burpee, on a pro bono basis in her arbitration against a technical ruling that prevented her from competing on the U.S. Olympic team. At the Paralympic trials, Ms. Burpee was disqualified by an Australian referee on a procedural technicality. She wanted that ruling overturned. In addition, Ms. Burpee requested that the firm commence an action against the United States Olympic Committee requiring the committee to name her to the Olympic Team. The firm commenced arbitration under the United States Olympic Committee Rules and live testimony was taken from swim referees in Canada and Australia. Simmons, Jannace & Stagg argued that the Australian referee showed bias against Ms. Burpee by making various comments indicating that the Australian referee did not want Ms. Burpee competing against an Australian paralympic swimmer. Simmons, Jannace & Stagg also demonstrated that the United States Paralympic swim trials were not held in accordance with the paralympic rules.   Although Simmons, Jannace & Stagg fought valiantly on her behalf, an independent arbitrator ruled against Ms. Burpee and declined to force the United States Olympic Committee to name her to the Paralympic Team. .


Here’s something exciting & new in the world of auto insurance: NORWICH Union has launched Short Term Car Insurance! You pay & pay for insurance on our vehicles, BUT if someone else drives our car, we’re not covered. If you go away on a road trip in your car & someone else shares the driving, you’re not covered. Well NORWICH UNION now insures those conditions up to 28 days. While this is only in the U.K., it is hoped that U.S. Insurance firms will soon follow suit. (Here’s something we should lobby for!) Until that time, to get convenient, comparative quotes for all 50 states follow this link to cheap car insurance through CarInsurance.com

Monday, July 17, 2006

Straight Talk: Israel vs Hezbollah

It’s the stuff of great revenge movies.  In a pre-dawn raid, an armed band of villains sneak across the border, kill 8 soldiers & kidnap 2 young soldiers from their post.  The group then holds them hostage, making ransom demands. While governments do their thing, an elite team of soldiers must go behind enemy lines & rescue the men.  Or we could take this revenge scenario in a different direction.  One of those soldiers is your son.  Armed to the teeth you cross enemy lines & become a killing machine until you set the soldiers free.  

We’ll buy this justification in the movies, but in real life, a country demanding its soldiers back is somehow too militant or out of line.  The calls for Israel’s restraint in the conflict have come from the Pope to Putin.  It’s easy for nations & critics to sit in the relative comfort of European borders or the U.S.A. & demand restraint.  But imagine if you’re Texas & Oklahoma was lobbing warheads onto your plains.  Or if you’re France & Italy is tossing missiles over the Mediterranean.  This is exactly the geographical position that the small nation of Israel is in.  They are surrounded by countries that deny their existence with wacko leaders that speechify the need to wipe them off the face of the globe.  

I looked up the word Hezbollah on line & found out that the Lebanese movement is separate & distinct from the Turkish & Kurdish movements by the same name.  Hezbollah means “Party of God” & they are Shiites. (Officially it is a political party, not a terrorist organization, although the General Secretary of the party, Sheikh Sa'id Hassan Nasrallah sounds more & more like bin Laden.)   The Lebanese people seem to tolerate the militant, terrorist faction of Hezbollah for the social good that the party provides in the form of free medical care, scholarships, clean water to neighborhoods that the public works doesn’t reach, farm assistance, etc.  

Could Israel have started a diplomatic mission with Hezbollah & opened a dialogue about their initiated acts of war, instead of the use of force?  Let’s just take a look at the public speeches of the two party leaders today to answer that question.

Israel’s Prime Minister Olmert:  "Israel would not be a hostage to terrorists." Their fight was one "for the right to live a normal life.  "When missiles are launched at our residents and our towns, our answer will be war waged at full strength, with all determination, courage and sacrifice."
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah:  Hezbollah’s terrorists were "in their full strength and power" and that their "missile stockpiles are still full." "When the Zionists behave like there are no rules and no red lines and no limits to the confrontation, it is our right to behave in the same way," Nasrallah said.  (He’s forgotten a big detail that HIS PEOPLE STARTED IT!)  Nasrallah tried to rally the Arab world around Hezbollah, saying the battle was an opportunity to deal a "historic defeat" to Israel.
One country wants to live in peace & declares the right to secure its borders & its people.  The other group (& remember the government of Lebanon is NOT behind this action) is the aggressor & joins those nations (Iran, Syria, Palestine, etc) that believe you have no right to be.  

As I see it:   Firstly the timing of this is all so significant with the G8 conference in St. Petersburg.  Their agenda of discussing trade, problems with North Korea, etc has been side-tracked by this conflict.  

Israel has the right to defend itself, but I do believe that some diplomatic efforts must begin.  It is doing no civilian any good to have this war become a “pissing match” between 2 leaders who each demand that the other “go first.”

Lebanon’s leader, Fuad Siniora, must do more than make impassioned, despairing speeches.  It is not enough to decry the violence & ask the world body for help. Lebanon itself must root out the terrorists by killing or arresting them. I know that this would probably cause a civil uprising, but a nation needs to handle its own problems.  If this were a faction of the Democrats (or Republicans, whatever your pleasure) lobbing missiles into Canada, Bush would not be on TV asking England to put down the uprising.

Lastly, let the G8 body send in multinational troops &/or U.N. Peacekeepers into the area to help restore order.  Despite the fact that Israel is among our strongest allies in the Middle East, this can not be seen as an American effort or defense.  There can be no less than a unified international statement of support against the Hezbollah uprising.  If Russia, France or China seem wishy-washy in any way in their stands it leaves the door open for other terrorist factions to play to this weakness & mount their own aggressions.  This terrorism MUST BE unilaterally slapped down & dealt with decisively!

************************************************************************
& now my own commercial…. If you enjoy “Life In Heck” please tell a friend.  I need hits!  Bookmark my page.  E-mail my columns to editors.   I know that my sensibilities are not necessarily heard on the national front.

Please, peruse the wares of my affiliates… Click & Buy… the merchandise is all top notch.  Buy my e-book.  Every bit helps the cause.  Thanks for reading!  

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

296 billion dollar deficit is a cause to rejoice?

Pres. Bush proudly informed the world yesterday that our Federal deficit was ONLY 296 billion dollars.  This figure was 127 billion dollars less than the projected February estimate.
I started to think about that figure in comparison to my humble finances.  If I’m so much as a few dollars short in my checking account, my bank either bounces the item or charges me a large overdraft fee to pay it.  Except for the very rich & famous & the Government, individuals must be fiscally responsible or the consequences are swift.  But the Feds can just keep minting money & hope that tax revenues will eventually catch up.
Here are some of my humble thoughts.  Who can we stop giving aid to in this world?  We’re not appreciated anywhere, any way.  Let’s keep the money here instead of being the great international philanthropists.  Let’s leave that to Warren Buffet, Bill Gates & the sheiks who poo on gold toilets.
Let’s cut the pork in government.  Stop the Senators whose sole missions are to bring revenue for stupid projects back to their districts.  (A bridge to nowhere in Alaska & a rain forest in Missouri immediately leap to mind.)
This will probably make me very unpopular, but I think that the Space Program should be a project for private enterprise.  Let Branson & his ilk work to bring space travel to fruition.  Private enterprise, concerned about the bottom line would be more fiscally responsible with their investments.
I have been following the 3 space walks of the current Discovery Astronauts.  I do find the photos from space thrilling.  (Heck, I’d like to even go!) But here we are 40 years into the space program & it still takes us 6 ½ hours outside a space station to repair 12 pieces of shuttle material with putty.  (The Starship Enterprise would’ve been blown to oblivion by the Klingons if Scotty had taken that long to repair something.)
Each shuttle launch costs in the neighborhood of 380 million dollars.  Think of the repairs that could be made to America’s infrastructure, the health care that could be provided & other research that could be funded with that kind of economics.   The annual estimated budget for space development & launches grows.  This year it is in the neighborhood of 50 billion dollars.   What do we get in return for this?  How does this exploration benefit us or our children?  Sure it looks all wonderful & patriotic, our technological achievements swells us with national pride.  But is it the right thing for us to be funding when so much need exists in America?
************************************************************************
And now a word from my sponsor… Orlando, with over 43.3 million visitors a year, makes it the number one tourist destination in the world! And this number is quantifying yearly.  This makes for great employment opportunities in the tourist, service & hospitality industries. Therefore, Florida is no longer just for the retired.  The Central Florida area - all 7 counties - offers a wide range of life styles for all ages. This includes real estate in upscale gated neighborhoods; golf course communities; charming, old-fashioned towns, rural communities and areas with excellent schools.  In Orlando itself, there is the urban lifestyle of downtown with a mixture of historic homes and luxury condominiums with great views of the city. (Vintage homes may be found in the historic neighborhoods of Thorton Park, Lake Eola Heights, Lake Lawsona, Lake Cherokee, and Lake Copeland.) Orlando is far more than its 7 theme parks.  It is home to a diversity of restaurants, retailers and bars within walking distance. Beautiful Lake Eola, sponsors festivals, outdoor concerts& gondola rides. The sports complex, theater, and opera are all centrally located.   Due to Orlando’s central location & beautiful year-round weather, you can also easily access all the leisure activities that Florida offers.  A 45 minute drive takes you into the beautiful rolling hills of the horse country.  Or you can travel south to the Everglades for an unforgettable airboat ride into a natural kingdom. There is also fabulous architecture &   world-class shopping   Consider Orlando for a fabulous vacation, second home or primary residence.  Orlando Vacation Home is your portal to all of the above.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Love Stinks

People fall in & out of love everyday.  The excitement & ecstasy of love is often followed by the cold, cruel pain of dissolution.  But few take the break up as hard as Dr. Nicholas Bartha who allegedly destroyed his Upper Eastside of Manhattan’s townhouse by tampering & modifying the basement gas line.  This alteration caused an explosion of such magnitude that fireballs were shot high into the sky and left the upscale block covered in bricks, broken glass and splintered wood. Authorities said at least 15 people were injured, including five civilians and 10 firefighters.  Thankfully most of these injuries were minor.

Bartha, an emergency medicine specialist was the only resident of the building present at the time of the incident. The doctor was rescued after yelling up to rescuers while buried in the wreckage, fire officials said. It is theorized that he ignited the building to avoid selling in for his divorce settlement.  Now no one gets it & who will pay the lawsuits & legal fees?

It’s a safe bet that Dr. Bartha’s intention was to die with his beloved building since moments before the blast he sent a rambling e-mail to his wife & cc’d  FOX News, Sen. Arlen Spector & several others.  (It’s anyone’s guess why Sen. Spector since he represents PA.)  The man should’ve had a blog to blow off his steam, it would’ve been healthier.  The rambling e-mail not only denigrates his wife, but offers a family history & opines on the ACLU & the honesty of the NY court system, the need for political connections to succeed in NYC, the respiratory dangers of coal burning pizza ovens, his annoyance that a school was converted into Revlon offices, the Supreme Court’s ruling on eminent domain (well here I agree with his conclusions), his dislike of George Soros, Ted Kennedy, Jane Fonda & Hilary Clinton & concludes with an admonition to Cindy Sheehan that she is desecrating the memory of her son.  (He roundly endorses Pres. Bush but I don’t think the White House will be playing this up.)  

There are so many ironies here it’s astounding.  A man that practiced emergency medicine & promised to do no harm sent 15 people to the hospital.  He decried injustice for all those who are not well connected in the legal system & yet his actions will now fill attorney’s coffers while sending cases into that very system. His love for his ex-wife, now turned to pure hate, causes disgrace to his grown daughters – the family he professes to love -- who will now be tainted by the whispers & stares of society.  He complained about NY City air pollution yet didn’t consider the impact of the explosion on the ecosystem.

How do you get so damaged that love turns to such selfish destruction?  The sadness & obsession of his heart opened his mind to every evil work.


************************************************************************
If you’re jumping back into the dating pool & your hair line needs a freshening check out New Jersey Hair Restoration  Dr. Pistone (www.drpistone.com) guarantees to give back his patient’s natural hair and natural hairline through his simple, safe, and affordable hair transplant method.   Dr. Pistone is so confident the transplanted hair will grow – that if there are any follicular units not growing as expected, he’ll redo them at no additional cost. We’ve also seen hair transplants that look like a seeded lawn.  This is NOT Dr. Pistone’s style.  He prides himself on a natural look is because the patient’s own hairs regrow along his or her own hairlines. Since he uses the latest technology, his methods afford his patients with a shorter recovery time.

About the surgeon: Dr. Pistone, not affiliated with a hair clinic or a franchise. All surgeries are performed by him & him alone. Choose Dr. Pistone and you get a doctor whose name and reputation is synonymous with experience, skill, artistry and ethics. Dr. Pistone is one of the few surgeons in the world armed with double board-certification in both Surgical Hair Restoration and Dermatology. The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons for professional and ethical excellence recognizes Dr. Pistone as one among 40 elite hair surgeons worldwide.


New Jersey is also home to the Glasgold Group Plastic Surgery (www.glasgoldgroup.com).   New Jersey plastic surgery  is a site which aims to give relevant information about cosmetic surgery in New Jersey & want to enhance their physical appearance. Glasgold Group offers numerous surgical services including rhinoplasty, revision and ethnic rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty, facial liposuction, facelifts, breast augmentation and a full complement of laser techniques.  Glasgold Group makes it a point to employ professional standards & expertise with modern methods and instruments in order to produce the best possible outcome and ensure customer satisfaction. The photo galleries available in Glasgold Group speak for their expertise. If you are considering surgery there is a wealth of knowledge available to you at the click of your mouse. Questions or arrangements for consultation may also be done through email at info@glasgoldgroup.com or by calling 732-846-6540.


With all the summer events; weddings, barbeques, holiday barbeques, perhaps you need some folding chairs.  They are practical & easy to store.  
Joseph David founded Best Furniture Online after years of experience in the Commercial and Institutional Furniture industry. His company’s goal is to create the best online purchase experience. BFO’s goal is to provide the most competitive pricing and outstanding, courteous customer service. Best Furniture Online was founded with goal of creating the best online experience. My years of experience in the Commercial and Institutional Furniture industry, have made me recognize the challenges in purchasing online. It is our goal to provide the most competitive pricing and outstanding customer service. At BFO we recognize that our business is our customers. Therefore you will get honest advice and prompt courteous service.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Madmen: Osama & Il

Last Saturday Osama bin Laden released his fifth statement this year and his second in a 2 day period.  In this 19 minute audio tape, bin Laden urged militants in Iraq to continue their fight.  "Stay steadfast and don't leave Baghdad, otherwise all the capitals in the region will fall to the crusaders."  While bin Laden claimed that al-Qaeda had nothing to do with the sectarian strife in Iraq, he did endorse al-Zarqawi’s successor, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer.   He also addressed Islamics in Somalia to "You have no other means for salvation unless you commit to Islam, put your hands in the hands of the Islamic Courts to build an Islamic state in Somalia."

Obviously if the big gun is coming out to encourage his “brothers,” with 2 messages in such rapid succession, Osama sees his terror network in jeopardy.  Since al-Zarqawi’s death, many insurgents have been caught or killed & weapons caches have been seized.  Also Somalians live cruel, hard lives.  To encourage them to mindlessly put their hopes into Islamic courts sets up another Taliban-like nation.  

Kim Jong Il, the lunatic leader of North Korea, unsuccessfully launched 7 missiles this past week.  I am particularly pleased that his long range missile, Taepodong-2, said to be capable of reaching Hawaii, fell apart & plunged into the sea.  The appropriately named Il, in the face of U.N. sanctions & aid which has already been cut off from South Korea & China, remains defiant that he will continue to test his nuclear capabilities.  Today, he made noises that he might be interested in attending a 6 nation talk (the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the United States) floated by China.  However, Il has made demands that he will not participate if sanctions are proposed.  

Il, the man known for such bizarre behavior as kidnapping, tying up actors & forcing them to watch movies with him in his palace, (Like a typical dictator he lives in luxury while his people starve & die by the thousands) wants to be perceived as a PLAYER on the world’s stage.  That’s what this is all about.  Yes, he has a large army, but his technology to carry forth his threats are lacking. I’m NOT among the doomsayers that see this man as a big threat.  I believe he is more deadly to his own people than he is to the world at large.   I see this threat more as a regional than international.  I think the U.S. would be better to snub him, like you would ignore a child with a temper tantrum.  I think that this needs to be handled by those within the region, South Korea, Japan & China.  


***********************************************************************
DotFlowers.com wants you to know about summer’s best blooms for weddings & other occasions.  By clicking on send flowers you can obtain such colorful, hearty, inexpensive beauties like lilies, orchids, daisies, and dahlias.   The white varieties are perfect for weddings, while each of these also range from orange to dark magenta.   Dahlias, which are among my faves, are also available in a variety of rich colors and easiest to get in the summer and early fall.  They feature full-bodied blooms laden with petals.  DotFlowers.com makes their shopping experience on line EASY & they deliver across the country. DotFlowers.com also offers their arrangements and gift baskets at the best possible prices. All this served up with excellent customer service.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The End of Life: Cautionary Tales

Today’s column is rather personal but it is a cautionary tale to all of us with ANY kinds of assets or who have aging parents / relatives.

My Auntie C, while still physically on the planet, has mentally & responsibly “checked out.”  Her deterioration over the past 5 years initially was gradual.  And while I trumpeted the need for financial arrangements to be made, power of attorney be transferred & other care petitioned for, NO ONE LISTENED.  Everyone, perhaps fearing their own mortality & decline, turned a blind eye.  When it became apparent this year that her lucidity was waning ever increasingly & she required more assistance, still heels were dragged.  Why?  Because my family did want to tread on her liberty, even though that liberty was detrimental to her health.  No one wanted to assert control until it became so evident that, while her body was still functioning, her brain was like that of a child’s.  

My brother stepped into the fray but by then he was swimming against the rapids of the system that is designed to only aid people who have the financial stability to pay for long term care or who are transferred through the Medi-Cal / Medicare system.  In short, if you have dough, you can get all the diagnoses you need to move your loved one into a good facility for their care.  You do the legal work & then you pay.  If you don’t have that kind of money, you’re bucking a system that is filled with Government red tape, legalese etc.  

Had my Aunt not fallen (& we’re not quite sure if that’s how she wound up on the floor of her apartment) & been taken by ambulance to the hospital, she still would be living alone until my brother could’ve gotten all the paperwork done to institutionalize her.  But once she was hospitalized, the extent of her dementia evident, (along with dehydration & anemia in spite of the fact that she was visited daily by family with food) she was moved into a facility within 3 days!

The cautionary tales are thus.  It is imperative to see an ailing loved one as they are, not as they were.   Auntie C was once a strong, independent, determined, funny, feisty woman.  What manifested at first as paranoia & other wacky tales should have signaled her immediate family to begin taking steps to protect her.  (To think of how long she drove with diminished capacity only proves the presence of angels.)  

Communicate with loved ones about your / their wishes & put it in writing, regardless of how old you are.  (The case of Terry Schiavo should be a lesson to all.)

My Aunt scrimped, saved & denied herself many pleasures in order to pass on a small legacy to her nieces & nephews.  However, now that money will all go to her care before government money kicks in.   Surely if she could have seen into the future, not only would she have enjoyed life a bit more, but she probably would have planned her estate.  Another key here is to enjoy life today!

There is an extraordinary ignorance about estate planning except among the wealthy.  However, everyone leaves something behind that needs to be handled, no matter how small the estate.  Death is a topic everyone loathes to discuss in spite of its inevitability (unless the Lord returns).  However, even with a will, the decedent’s executor is left with a great deal of government / court paperwork.   All of this could be avoided if an individual would set up a LIVING TRUST.  In all but a handful of states living trusts are lawful.  Living Trusts avoid probate.  Almost anything can be placed in a living trust: savings accounts, property, stocks & bonds, realty, life insurance, etc.  YOU DO NOT LOSE CONTROL of the trust while alive.  It is still your money!  And, as with the case of my Aunt, even if you are institutionalized, the Trust can still function & make distribution as needed.  

Even if a Living trust is not right for your assets, there are other types that may be set up.  You may designate a bank account for a grandchild, by simply making the account Your Name, in trust for Their Name.  It’s still your money to use as needed.  However, it can’t be touched by the long arm of Medicare / Medical should you need long term care, since it belongs to your designee.

I urge you to GOOGLE Living Trust in your state & @ least learn about it.  Take the time to investigate Trusts & make the necessary adjustments to your finances.  Also please update your will every few years. You’ll save a lot of needless wear & tear on your family (they’ll have enough to deal with in grieving your loss) & your wishes truly will be carried out.

As always, please peruse or buy the wares of my sponsors & affiliates.   It helps keep “Life In Heck!” alive.  Also please visit my kid’s book site, http://www.holeinmyhat.com & buy the book, if you have a kid, know a kid or are a kid.  $5.99 is a small price to pay for hours of enjoyment.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Saddam as Funny Man

In case you missed the latest news on Saddam, I just have to comment since the HUMOR therein will do us all good.  

The World’s Shortest Hunger Strike:  As you may know last week, another of Saddam’s defense attorneys was gunned down.   Out of protest (lack of security for his advisors) & in mourning, Saddam announced to the world a hunger strike. Saddam declined his lunch.  But when dinner arrived, he ate!  Perhaps for a dictator, missing a meal should be considered abnegation.

Saddam as Peacemaker:  Saddam’s lead attorney, Khalil al-Dulaimi, told AP last week that Saddam Hussein believes the United States will have to seek his help to quell the bloody insurgency in Iraq.  "He's their last resort. They're going to knock at his door eventually.  He is the only person who can stop the resistance against the U.S. troops."  (Bear in mind that al-Dulaimi also believes that Saddam is still the lawful President & is innocent.)  

While one trial is coming to a close with final defense arguments slated to begin July 10th & another scheduled to begin in August, Saddam believes that he can bargain his way out of trials that threaten him with the death penalty.  (Read with tongue firmly planted in cheek.) The compassion shown in this next quote almost brings tears to my eyes. Al-Dulaimi reports that Saddam is willing to aid the U.S. “for the sake of saving both peoples - the Iraqis and Americans."  He went on to talk about the powerlessness of the new government & added, “The Americans will certainly come to me, to Saddam Hussein's legitimate leadership and to the Iraqi Baath Party, to rescue them from their huge quandary."

Of course, while the thought of a deal is only being floated, Saddam wouldn’t perform this elder statesmen role out of love for his country.  He would make the outcome of this trial the bargaining chip.  The lawyer actually stated this bargain “would not necessarily involve his being reinstated as president of Iraq.”   (“Would not necessarily?!” This kind of balls helped make Saddam the ruler he was.)  

Saddam & his attorneys know that he will be sentenced to death.  You’d think that Saddam would face death like a man.  But coward that he is (& remember he was hiding in a hole when found) he fights to retain life on earth even if it means permanent incarceration.  His ego is still so INFLATED he craves anything that will make him a player again.  Listen to this spin.  "The death penalty is political blackmail to pressure President Saddam to help the American forces out of their predicament in Iraq and to rescue it from the mess it created there."  

Alright, we have made blunders in the war, primarily in underestimation of the enemy.  However, we did not create the mess.  The inception of the mess must rest on Saddam, his sons & his party who brutalized his people for decades.  As a Sunni, he repressed the Shia & the Kurds & now the backlash is the heart of the insurrection.  (Even from his cell Saddam continues to denigrate both sects.)

Further, Saddam has offered his services regarding IRAN.  Through his attorney, he pointed out during Saddam's 1980-88 war with Iran - a conflict in which the United States and others backed Iraq - he served as a counterbalance to Iranian power.
"Iran is the enemy of Arabs, Islam and the United States, and the only person who can stand in the face of Iran is Saddam Hussein,"

Now isn’t that the case of one evil, mad dictator calling the other one more dangerous!?

************************************************************************
Please take a moment to read about this offer.  It helps keep “Life In Heck” alive.

There was a time when gas was only 25-cents a gallon.  (This was long before the internet & awhile before I was a force to be reckoned with.)  Imagine getting four gallons of gas for a buck! Then our dollar was backed by REAL money, real silver. Today, that same amount of silver still buys four gallons of gas! That just shows that real money like gold and silver holds its value and it is the paper currency that is now worth a lot less. Actually, what we call inflation is that paper money is worth less and less and so it takes more and more of it to buy the same goods and services one needs.  Investment experts have long-recommend portfolio diversification and that 10% to 20% (and sometimes more) of an investor's assets be devoted to tangible assets such as gold, silver and platinum bullion and bullion coins. (Tangible goods as opposed to stocks, money markets & other funds that fluctuate according to world events.)  In light of instability in the Middle East there are sound reasons to consider investing in precious metals now. Buying american silver eagle coins with an established, (since 1967) experienced company like Monex has resources to serve most any precious metals investor's needs.  As one of the country's oldest, largest and most experienced firms specializing in precious metals for the individual investor, our clients have numbered well over one hundred thousand investors with billions of dollars of gold, silver, platinum and palladium bullion and bullion coins in transactions. You can begin there estimable service by clicking on the link & allowing Monex to should you how to meet your investment objectives.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Miami 7

They call themselves the Seas of David.  Stanley Grant Phanor (AKA Brother Sunni), Lyglenson Lemorin, (Brother Levi-El) Patrick Abraham (Brother Pat), Naudimar Herrera (Brother Naudy), Burson Augustin (Brother B), Rotschild Augustine, (Brother Rot & may his name be prophetic as in rot in jail) & the alleged ringleader Narseal Batiste (Prince Manna) were arraigned in Miami on Friday on 4 counts of terrorist activities, including conspiracy. (& there are 26 instances of this activity, inclusive of fund raising, recruitment to wage jihad, reconnaissance video & photos of the Miami FBI building & the National Guard building, etc.)

5 of these men were American citizens & 2 were Haitians.  These guys, from the reports I’ve heard & in reading the actual indictment, were like the Stooges of terrorism.  (I apologize for any disparagement of Moe, Larry & Curley.) Batiste’s plans were to blow up several FBI offices & the Sears Tower.  However, when the raid was conducted, NO WEAPONS OR EXPLOSIVES were found.    While Batiste & the others pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, there is no evidence to indicate that there was any affiliation.   Had these 7 succeeded in exploding something, al-Qaeda would’ve embraced them as brothers. However, as indiscreet & reckless as Batiste was, it is doubtful that they were any more than their own little band of toy soldiers.

Batiste, over a period of months, blabbed his needs & his plans to an FBI informant, posing as a al-Qaeda representative.  (You’d think there’d be a secret handshake or some well coded sentences to identify each other.) Upon their first meet in December 2005, Batiste requested boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios & vehicles in order to wage jihad.  In his second meeting a few days later, he swore that his plans would outshine 9/11 by blowing up the Sears Tower.  “Loose lips sink ships,” the WWII catch phrase, is as true today as it was 60 years ago.  Batiste proceeded over the next several months to divulge any & all information, plans, photos & videotapes to the informant.  

From what we know of al-Qaeda’s methods, they operate in secrecy & stealth with great strategy.  These guys were outside training in the eyes of the neighborhood & their leader was a blabbermouth.  As FBI Deputy Director John Pistole stated. "This group was more aspirational than operational."  

However, even though Batiste & company were incompetent they were still disgruntled, deluded & hateful.  Statements such as his intent “to kill all the devils we can,” is very disturbing. And disturbed people can often find like souls to follow them.  Further, maladjusted people commit crimes of great magnitude all the time.   So while the comics will mine this situation for jokes over the next few days, the situation really isn’t funny.  It’s tragic that America’s own can become so disenfranchised as to believe that Allah wants them to rise up against their nation & its people.  (How much blame can we lay at the feet of the Media that, night after night, promulgates that America deserved 9/11, deserves to be killed throughout the Islamic world?)  

Thank you, Miami – Dade FBI, for thwarting The Seas of David “cell.”   May all of law enforcements efforts be successful in routing out the enemy.  Additionally, Citizens, be aware in your neighborhoods.  The success of the enemy’s methods is the secrecy of their moves.  Watch, listen & take responsibility for homeland security & REPORT SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR.  

************************************************************************
In spite of the recent Florida scare; Orlando Luxury Real Estate is still a wise investment!  Orlando is NOT just Theme parks, but a thriving community that sports a rich history of cattle raising, rustling, gun fights & gambling. The wild “south” was changed when the railroad extended into Orlando.  It then became the hub of the Citrus Industry.  In Orlando today, there is the urban lifestyle of downtown with a mixture of historic homes and luxury condominiums with great views of the city. (Vintage homes may be found in the historic neighborhoods of Thorton Park, Lake Eola Heights, Lake Lawsona, Lake Cherokee, and Lake Copeland.) It is home to a diversity of restaurants, retailers and bars within walking distance. Beautiful Lake Eola, sponsors festivals, outdoor concerts& gondola rides. The sports complex, theater, and opera are all centrally located.  

Until I learned about, Buyers Broker of Florida, I didn’t know that there were agencies that only represented the BUYER, NEVER THE SELLER. This gives you a full time Buyer Agent that understands contracts, house values, options, negotiations & 1031's. By using creative thinking, Buyers Broker of Florida will do their absolute best to negotiate the most favorable terms.

Although June is almost history, did you know that it was National Rose month?!  (See: http://blog.flowershop.com/2006/06/15/june-is-national-rose-month)  I love roses, planting them, receiving them, smelling them in other people’s gardens.  I can never get enough!  Roses have deep emotional connectivity in addition to their beauty.    Red roses mean love. Yellow roses symbolize friendship.  Presenting a red and white rose together it symbolizes unity.  A pink and white rose together means “I love you and always will.” The knowledgeable, talented florists at flower shop know these definitions & do NOT make this stuff up. The “language of flowers” really took off during Victorian times. In fact, dictionaries were published to allow people to “read the bouquet” they had just received.   So send someone you love & admire a message!

Millions of people suffer from thinning hair & hair loss.  Most spend their lives embarrassed by it or covering it up in.  (Often in unattractive ways that just scream, I’m self-consciously bald…. Think “rugs,” comb-overs, wispy pony tails & Donald Trump.)     Along with Dr. Jeffrey Epstein , the resident surgeon at The Foundation for Hair Restoration gladly presents www.foundhair.com, a website that aims to provide comprehensive information about hair restoration.  Dr. Epstein is a specialist in the technique of follicular unit grafting, He has the distinction of being one of less than 30 surgeons worldwide to be accepted into the International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons. He is also armed with an invaluable aesthetic background, being a facial plastic surgeon himself. A prolific surgeon, Dr. Epstein himself does all of the more than 500 hair transplant procedures at the Foundation for Hair Restoration yearly.  Through foundhair.com, the prospective patient can learn the difference between hair restoration techniques such as follicular unit grafting or FUG, and follicular unit extraction, or FUE. To give patients an idea of what it would be like to undergo hair restoration surgery, this website also provides a wide range of testimonials from both men and women who let Dr. Epstein work his magic on them.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Some Logic on the WMD Discovery

So we found some WMDs in Iraq.   I’ve long thought that the sand held secrets.  & now the media & the pundits are spinning this dizzily.  The conservatives like Sean Hannity are salivating justification & the John Kerrys are writing it off as insignificant.  I don’t agree with either position.  (But it does beg the question of how effective these U.N. weapons inspectors really were.  But don’t get me started on the U.N.)

Until I started to read the wire reports I thought that these 500 chemical weapons was 1 cache unearthed this week.   The reality is that this is an aggregate TOTAL of weapons discovered since 1993.  The reason for the announcements this week is due a declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, or NGIC, a Defense Department intelligence unit.   This report was completed in April.  

While those who oppose the war, write off this revelation as insignificant… the stuff was old, pre the first Gulf War, & not the quantity or justification that led us into our current Iraqi occupation.  The reality is that the weapons existed & have now been removed.  

Why should we care about old weapons?   Even as chemical weaponry degrades over time, it can cause environmental hazards & according to the NGIC report, “remain potentially lethal.”  The other obvious concern should be, in a country rife with imported & home grown terrorists wouldn’t a black market sale of the chemical weaponry be feasible, regardless of the materials’ age & stability?  We’re talking about people who blow themselves up with home made bombs that contain nails & other sharp implements so that the carnage is devastating beyond the explosive itself.  We’re talking about animals that torture & behead people with dull knives on camera.  They’ll use anything, even old chemical weapons, to inflict suffering in the name of Allah.  

An unnamed Senior Defense Department official told FOX news, "It turned out the whole country was an ammo dump. On more than one occasion, a conventional weapons site has been uncovered and chemical weapons have been discovered mixed within them.”

Don’t be fooled by the pundits & politicians who downgrade this announcement (& remember it didn’t come from the White House, although the Administration would have known about this for a couple of months).  To find & destroy any & all munitions, regardless of their age, is a good thing.  & I am certain that there are more to be found.  


**********************************************************************
In light of my most recent announcement regarding the availability of my e-book, “Hole In My Hat,” I realize that I need a marketing genius.  It’s very hard for creative types or for business owners to switch hats from creator to business genius.   That’s why we should all call in the professionals.   Ed Shull is one such “animal.” He serves as the Chief Executive Office of USWeb. He is a veteran of the Internet marketing industry with over 8 years of experience. (This is the new frontier of many of our endeavors, which for most is just trial & error.)  Ed Shull is a recognized leader in the online marketing space and has been featured in several periodicals, including Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times. Mr. Shull is a Certified Oracle Consultant and is a frequent speaker at industry trade events such as Ad-Tech. "I am very lucky to do what I love. Internet marketing is in my opinion, the most exciting industry in business and there is nothing I'd rather do for a living. Mr. Shull's past experience spans the spectrum of Fortune 500 companies (like Morgan Stanley) to the small start ups like BBQ.Com.  Harness the power of the internet marketing by contacting Ed & his team at US WEB for your affordable solutions.

In a totally different vein, SUMMER IS HERE & time for more outdoor activities like paint balling!  Before we discuss cheap paintball gear, here are a few facts I bet you didn’t know.  Paintball guns were originally used by the forestry and farming industries to mark trees and cattle. These early paintball guns were similar to many paintball pistols of today – they were powered by CO2 cartridges and had poor range and mediocre accuracy. The tree-marking paintball guns had to be modified in order to reduce their velocity to prevent injury to humans. The first paintball gun manufactured specifically for the sport of paintball was the Splatmaster, which was patented in 1985. Generally, the evolution of paintball gun technology is focused on achieving greater speed, accuracy, and air efficiency. Paintball guns have also gotten lighter and smaller over the years. This is likely due to the changing nature of the game as people are beginning to play more tournament-style paintball.  Zephyrpaintball.com was founded in 2004 with the idea of bringing low prices, customer service and fast shipping to the paintball world. Zephyr Paintball has Paintball Guns from all the top manufacturers. Zephyrpaintball.com will match competitors’ prices on all in stock Paintball guns.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

ONE WRITER'S TALE - Hits, Misses & Marketing

My earliest childhood recollections are that of WRITING.  I wrote episodes for my favorite TV series.  I wrote mysteries (in which I seemed very preoccupied with everyone’s style sense & what, where & how they dined).  I created plays & mounted the productions with the neighborhood kids… torturing every parent, relative & friend to sit through them.  (Attributed to a lot of exposure to “Little Rascals” & “I Love Lucy” re-runs.)  

When I came to Los Angeles, I discovered that all my education & experience in Commercials & Cable in New York meant nothing.  I was yet another young hopeful with dreams of making it big in TV &/or Film.  While working hard in the production end of the industry; (MacGyver, Star Trek the Next Gen, Top Gun, Bev Hills Cop II  & Night Court & the  projects that were shot & no one remembers) when I wasn’t working or sleeping I wrote.  (& believe me, it is only youth that allowed this, considering I typically worked 70 – 100 hr weeks.)  I wrote spec scripts for series, feature films, original series concepts, sat in writer rooms & pitched out ideas with the paid staff to get a foot in the door.

I came very close to getting a piece of the pie.  I could smell it in the oven.  The setting was on the table.  I had a beverage in my hand, watching the dining room.  But at the last minute “there was a fire in the kitchen.”

Some Near Misses

When it first became fashionable to save money by sending TV series to Canada for production, I was to staff write on a sci-fi series for Paramount syndication, which ran for 3 years.  At the last minute, with bags packed & ready to go to the airport, the work visa didn’t come through & instead worked in the post-production end of it on the Hollywood lot for a lot less glory & gold.

After my Paramount years (about 4 – give or take a few months), I went to Columbia TV.  While toiling on a short-lived series, I had 2 romantic comedies “The First Year” (about the calamities in the first year of a marriage) & “The Arrangement” (2 over-worked professionals couple for convenience & then fall in love) optioned by the Feature division.  I was paid a percentage against a sale for an option.  But the studio was absorbed by Warner Bros.  Once again the work returned to my filing cabinet.

“The Arrangement” again came very close to being bought by an actress with a movie of the week deal.   As I was about to walk out my door to meet the actress on her lunch break, get her rewrite notes & ostensibly a check, I received a call from her Development person who’d championed the project.  He’d had a tiff with her & was calling her horrible things. (Rule of thum: if you are talking trash about your boss, you’ve got a foot out the door.) Told me my script was too good for her.  I knew not only the lunch, but that the deal was dead.  When the new D girl came in, she had no interest in developing the previous regime’s projects. (The old saying is, “a new broom sweeps clean.”)

Within that same month, I lost a bid for a project that a friend & I had championed for over a year. “Bungee Women” was a pilot presentation (presentation because you shoot a promo piece rather than 22 min episode) for a syndicated series, which featured two NYers who could travel like pros, on the cheap & be funny while doing it.  We’d taken the show to NATPE (pronounced nat pee -- an unfortunate acronym for what is the world series of syndicated TV sales).   We had heard the words, “You’re on the Air!”  We had dreams of eventually being Oprah.  Our manager was in negotiations that would have made us all very well traveled, well known & rich.  We went into negotiations on a Wednesday…. arguing only over fine points (We’d had an agreement in principle).  The Executive Producer, at Rysher Entertainment, failed to sufficiently “kiss the ring” of the powers that be & was fired hours shy of us signing the contract. (The new broom principle again applied.)

My next close call with greatness came when I worked with All American TV (who’d made untolled millions with “Baywatch”) who’d bought the Goodson-Todman Game Show library & rights to re-imagine their game shows.  I worked on several shows, most notably “Match Game” & “Password.”  An Executive at Tribune Entertainment (who was unhappy with all the pilots they bankrolled for AATV) was enamored with me.  (For once it was truly about my talent, he was gay.)   He sought to find a show for me.  As we were meeting, searching & negotiating a development deal, the Exec went to Vermont for a late summer wedding.  He returned with Lyme’s disease & was on disability for almost a year.  He definitely got the worst end of the stick but my deal died the death.  

There were another couple of screenplays that almost got somewhere… “Blue Moon” & “We Only Kill Each Other” but those tales are for another day. (Maybe as e-books.)

Besides writing columns, the need to create stories still drives me.  When my nephews were young, I often wrote them stories where they were the protagonists in some grand adventure.  Since we lived at opposite ends of the U.S. it was a way to be a part of their lives.  It is from one of these stories, written for my nephew Matt, that “Hole In My Hat” evolved.  I’ve not only written it as a book, but an expanded version has been written in screenplay form.  (Are you listening, Pixar?)  Getting this book published & in young readers’ hands (although many adults have told me they’ve laughed & enjoyed the story as well) has been a passion.  However, at this stage of my life I am tired of being dependent on someone else’s acceptance, approval or agenda to make my dreams come true.  It’s up to me to get my work out there via direct marketing to the reader!  Therefore, I am excited to offer you the fantasy adventure, “Hole In My Hat.”  

Finish reading this column, (& peruse some of my affiliates’ wares while you’re at it…I’m always pitching) then click through to HOLE IN MY HAT.COM.  Read about the book.  Read a chapter.  You can even see me in a cowboy hat.  So even though I currently can’t offer you a gorgeously illustrated hard copy (One look at the cover should tell you what Doug Sirois can do) download the e-book.  Some of you must have a kid, know a kid, are a kid who’d enjoy reading the journey of Matt in Aquataine (& $6 is the price of a double Starbucks & it’ll last longer).  If you don’t know a child, please tell someone who does.    The adventure begins……..