Banks, Shielded by Regulators, Senator Asks Why!

On Tuesday, fierce consumer advocate and needler of banks Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called out Wall Street regulators for their habit of giving tepid punishments to misbehaving banks, and asked the agencies to justify their policy of settling with the wrongdoers out of court.

Why are the punishments so light and no one is guilty? One Senator wants to know why. Looks like she is the only one. Click for The story, Mother Jones is the source.

The Catch to Using “Cloud” Services

This story from the Verge on the demise of Google Reader prompted this post.  Google has abandoned many of is services over the years as its business matures.

The Verge, Ellis Hamburger on March 19, 2013 01:30 pm wrote;

Google Reader is a lot more than an RSS client. It syncs news feeds between different apps, and makes sure you can always pick up right where you left off. It’s also simple and free, which means it drove most competitors out of the market long ago. Once Reader dies July 1st, we’ll be left with apps that don’t rely on its backend to sync your feeds — which isn’t very many apps. Various denizens of the internet and companies like Digg have volunteered to create new backends of their own, but for now, picking an RSS client you can trust means you’ll need one that doesn’t rely on Google Reader.

Why use the cloud to store your data? All the tech pundits are agog over cloud storage, getting your data on any device, stream your music, videos, etc., etc., etc.!

First catch; is the “cloud” available and ready for use with your connected device?  How many times have you heard that Google, Amazon and the other “cloud” services are down for some reason or another.

Second catch;  some businesses will only give customers the password to their free wi-fi.  Other businesses have free and open wi-fi with no restrictions. Free connections can be crowded, slow, unreliable and have security issues.  Doing business, use a VPN if you are going to sign into your corporate, banking or accounts that are not https enabled.

Third catch; choose your cloud company the same way you choose your bank.  Find a profitable, stable, trustworthy company that will be around for a long time.  There is no insurance when it comes to cloud storage and cloud based applications.  Many companies will abandon cloud services that are no longer profitable or no longer fit their business plan.

Fourth catch; If the service you use is free, it will eventually go away or become less functional to force free users to the paid version.  The companies providing the service have to make money to stay in business.

Choose wisely.  My personal preference is applications on my computing device with my files stored locally.  The backup is on the cloud.

NRA’s Daft Stand on Shootings

After the tragic school shooting in Connecticut, the NRA kept quiet for a few days. Then NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre asked the following questions in public.

“But what if the gunman, Adam Lanza, had been confronted by a trained security guard?
“Will you at least admit it’s possible that 26 innocent lives might have been spared?”
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,”

When this is taken to its logical conclusion, good guys with guns would have to be assigned to every place where there could be a mass shooting. How many armed good guys would be needed?

What fantasy world are they living in!

Stop Blaming George Bush –

Published September 6, 2012 in the Miami Herald

“Jeb Bush said President Obama needs to quit blaming his brother George W. Bush for his failed economic policies. But it was his brother who, in 2001, was handed a surplus and then took this country into two wars. And it was on his brother’s watch that the financial and housing crisis occurred

Do people really believe that a debt of this magnitude can be paid off in just a few years? For many years to come, future presidents will be right to blame Jeb Bush’s brother for our debt

Wilfredo Jimenez, Miami”

The letter is here, for as long as it lasts at this link: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/09/06/2988451/bush-brother-to-blame.html#storylink=cpy

The writer shows in very few words the effects of a politician’s selective amnesia and distortion of documented facts. The plain unvarnished truth is; George Bush and the Republican Party royally screwed the country for many years to come and Jeb Bush, George’s brother, wants us to forget it and stop blaming his brother. He cites Obama’s failed economic policies when the truth of the matter is, the failed policies were put in place by his brother and the Republican Party. They spent the surplus left by the Clinton Administration on frivolous policies, deregulated the financial sector to an extent where the house of cards constructed by the banks, mortgage companies and other financial institutions collapsed under the eight of the massive fraud that went on. The Obama administration has done damage control and is blocked from doing anything meaningful by the house.

A Method to Lose Weight, Avoid the Food Orgy of Extra Large Servings

This method worked for me. Thirty pounds and counting. Every person is unique, with their own goals and aspirations. The trick to this method is to record everything and make sure that the calories you consume are greater than the the calories used to live. It is a simple method based on mathematics and how the body uses food as energy.

We are surrounded with food, wine, deserts to-die-for and succulent snacks that smell and taste good. The portions are huge, we get our money’s worth. Food is cheap, abundant and available anywhere, at anytime, in any quantity. The television has lots of food advertisements, two channels dedicated to food and how to prepare it. Celebrity chefs everywhere telling us to eat and revel in the abundant food.

We are bombarded by advertisements for weight loss programs, books on how to lose weight and the latest fad diet with lots of mumbo jumbo about no carbs, drink grapefruit juice, eat our prepared meals (Jenny Craig is one of many), buy our specially formulated food, drink juices, cleanse, and the list goes on and on. What the purveyors of these products and services do not tell you is that the basic premise underlying all their programs is; reduce your calorie intake, expend more calories than you consume. What they are trying to do is the same thing you can do on your own without spending a small fortune on special foods, counseling and whatever else they offer in services.

Every diet and fad to loose weight goes back to; the calories eaten must be less than the calories used. That is all, nothing else. It is not hard to do and there is no diet, just informed choices.

This is the method I used. It works. Between January 23rd and May 12th I have lost 30 pounds. I went form 200 to 170. It works. The method is a food diary where you record everything you eat.

I found a site called Lose It. http://loseit.com/. It is a is a food diary. I use it to record everything I ate. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and all tastes. Why? Everything you put in your mouth has calories. Some items have so little they are listed with zero calories, but most have some calories. Would you believe that a quarter cup of chopped onions has 16 calories. Every calorie counts.

I recorded everything. I looked at food labels and made some buying decision based on the calorie information printed. An example, bacon, I stopped buying regular bacon, 80 calories for two slices. I started buying Canadian bacon, 3 slices, 60 calories. That is 20 calories not eaten. When buying bread I got whole wheat. Whole wheat is supposed to take longer to digest than white bread and should you feel full longer. Also, watch the calorie count per slice. Stay away from the 100 or more calorie per slice whole grain breads. The higher calorie count means the slices are bigger than normal. I also checked the sugar content of foods. The lower the better, no added sugar is best and definitely NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, corn sugar or artificial sweeteners. Who needs the extra chemicals. Refined flour and white sugar should be avoided if you can. (It is not really necessary.) These are easily digested, leaving you feeling hungry in a much short period of time compared to whole grains. I noticed this when I had cereal for breakfast, I was hungry and ready for a snack by 10:30 am. When had eggs, Canadian bacon and whole wheat toast, I did not feel hungry until about 12:30 pm. Just in time for lunch.

Drink water. Many people mistake thirst for hunger. Also do not snack when you are bored. Go do something, take a walk clean the house, just do something to take your mind off of snacking. Hunger gets worse, it does not go away. Cravings and the munchies fade away when you are active.

When you are limiting your calories, keep in mind the recommendations on nutrition. The web sites where you log your meals will provide the nutritional breakdown for everything you eat. If you have to create a custom food, make sure to record all the information and not just the calories. This will help when you have to analyze what you are eating when you hit a plateau and the weight loss stops.

You will hit the plateau, some sooner than others and some more than once. A plateau may be the result of your body thinking that it is starving or facing a food shortage. At this point it will hold on to every bit of fat until it is convinced otherwise. Increase your calorie intake for a few days. Go over the recommended daily calorie intake, then go back to it. The pounds should start to disappear.

Weight loss does not happen overnight. It takes time, usually months. Lean about a balanced diet that provided the nutrition your body needs. Cook, this way you know how many calories are in the meals you prepare instead of guessing what the restaurant does. When you eat out, look for places that publish the calories in their dishes, or look up the estimated calories on what you plan to order before you go to the restaurant. This takes a little planning but it can be done. Most restaurants pack extra unnecessary calories into their food. The dishes have too much oil, some have cheese, sauces thickened with flour, corn starch, cream, butter and who knows what other high calories additions.

Also, there will be days where you have no control over what you have available to eat and as a result you go over the recommended calories for the day. Treat it as a necessary over day and enjoy yourself. Live is just for living and not suffering just to loose weight. So the weight loss takes a little longer, so what, live, have fun.

Recommended nutrition parameters lifted from the Livestrong web site.

A healthy diet should get 45 to 65 percent of its calories from carbohydrates, and contain 21 to 38 grams of fiber.

For heart health, limit your intake of dietary cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams a day.

Your daily protein needs vary, depending on your gender, age, weight and activity level. In general, most healthy adults need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For example, an adult weighing 150 pounds needs about 55 grams of protein a day.

A high-sodium diet may increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. To reduce your risk, daily sodium intake should range from 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams a day.

My goal is to get my BMI down to between 18 and 20,which according to some, is the ideal for someone my height. I have read about another method of measuring recommended weight. It is a ratio; waist measurement should be less than 1/2 your height. It is not finalized and still under discussion according an article I read and can no longer find to reference.

This method has worked for me. I am no longer fat and all the indicators the doctors look at have returned to the extremely normal range. I feel great and the long term goal is, never return to an overweight state. A side effect of my weight loss is, many people in my office have noticed and some of them have started using a food diary. Many asked what was my diet and my answer; none, no diet, just eat less calories than you burn and you will loose weight. No conditions, exceptions, no mumbo jumbo or special conditions.

The end result for me. I have to go out and replace my wardrobe with clothes that fit. I just love shopping.

Quicken Essentials Review – Bad, Stay Away

This Christmas I stopped using Quicken Essentials and switched to iBank from IGG Software, Inc. Why did I switch? Quicken Essentials is a program that is lacking in features, has confusing registers and to make things worse, difficult and complicated way to reconcile your accounts.

If you use Quicken Essentials to download transactions and do not use it to enter transactions to track your spending, the registers do not become a complicated mess when you reconcile to your statements. To me this is not the preferred method of using a program like Quicken, iBank or any of the others.

Quicken Essentials’ difficulty starts when you use it to enter transactions to record your activity and then download transactions from your bank accounts and credit card accounts prior to doing a reconciliation. After the download, all hell breaks loose. You have no idea what was added or what was matched without inspecting each transaction with a blue dot. Also, if you do not know what the balance on the account was before the download, you have no idea if it changed, which is the only way to determine if new transactions were added. This is a major headache.

If you have more than one account or an account with many transactions, it turns the download and checking into a lot of unnecessary work. Eventually you will put off using Quicken Essentials or delay keeping your records up to date because of the difficulty to get things done quickly and efficiently. Why give yourself an unnecessary headache. Life already has too many of these without adding one that can be avoided.

If you are using Quicken 2007 and do not plan an changing your Mac or upgrading to Lion or later, leave well enough alone. If you are getting a new Mac with Lion or plan to upgrade, choose iBank. It does what quicken 2007 does and adds some additional functionality.

Stay away from Quicken Essentials unless you enjoy complexity. I am not even going into the missing features that were part of Quicken 2007 and dropped in Quicken Essentials, such as tracking your loans or brokerage accounts.

Intuit has really abandoned Mac users with this junk. It is so bad, they announced that they were updating Quicken 2007 to run on Lion. My question is, if Quicken Essentials is worth anything, why update such an aging program?