From the category archives:

odds and ends

How Much Would You Pay To Bring Down A School?

by golbguru on November 7, 2007

Too much homework and all? No problem! Just call a demolition squad:


Feed readers click here for the video.

Stole the video from NKu @ 1001.0010, who is a long time reader of this blog.


Blog Action Day: State Of The Nation

by golbguru on October 15, 2007

Here are a few things to laugh and cry about on the occasion of Blog Action Day. I just went a little off-track to save you from the monotony of reading some serious stuff on this matter on about 15,000 other blogs.

According to unreliable sources, George W. Bush has also taken notice of this event and has prepared the following special address for Americans who still pretend to be unaware about the issue:


Feed readers click here to watch the video


Now, let’s take a quick look at some numbers:

Oil Consumption

oil consumption - top 5 countries

[bbl/day = barrels per day; source: Nationmaster ]


CO2 Emissions

CO2 emissions

[thousand metric tonnes of carbon dioxide; same source as above]


Take a moment to absorb that information and try relating it to your daily habits. Then, if some inner voice encourages you to play your part in helping the environment, here are a few things you can try.

For people who didn’t like the video above, here is an excellent overview of the concept of global warming in simple words.


Top Posts From The Month Of September

by golbguru on October 12, 2007

I have been posting a bit slow over the past two weeks while I continue sulking over some recent unpleasant events. I do have a lot to write, but I am afraid it will sound a bit too negative for my own taste - and that’s not going to be of much help to anyone. So, I will probably be light on posting till my mood lightens up a bit. A few more days… perhaps. Feeling the positive vibes already. ;)

Meanwhile, you can go ahead and entertain yourself with some popular posts from the past month.


When The US Postal Service Says “We Care”, They Mean “Oops, We Messed Up”

by golbguru on September 12, 2007

After waiting patiently for about 3 weeks for a particular piece of international mail, I was finally rewarded with this:

mail damaged by USPS

Yeah, that is one end of the original envelope (or whatever remains of it) that was mailed by the sender. It almost looks like a dog ate it or something.

Among the contents of the mail, only some written material survived - a couple of priceless (sentimental, but not valuable in the monetary sense) enclosures in the package were missing. :(

This damaged envelope was packed in a neat USPS envelope (you can see it in below the damaged envelope in the image above) - probably as a remedial measure, after whatever they did with it.

Guess what’s written in bold letters behind the USPS envelope:

WE CARE - not only after your mail is damaged!

So, it’s an apology - and I appreciate that (I also appreciate the fact that they repacked it instead of burying it away and pretending that it never existed). But, I just found the loud “WE CARE” a bit amusing - it doesn’t really go well with how *carefully* the mail was handled in the first place. It’s almost ironic for that phrase to be going on top of an apology for mishandling.

OK, so this stuff probably happens rarely. But if that was the case, you wouldn’t expect a ready-to-use printed apology envelope, would you? :) I guess those envelopes must have been printed by the thousands - and probably are used by the thousands (?)

Here is another specimen (a package containing a Vanguard prospectus sent by Sharebuilder) that arrived on the same day - it looked like that at all the corners:

Another damaged envelope

That one almost required the “WE CARE” band aid treatment.

At times like these, I am glad most of my sensitive stuff gets communicated electronically.


Top Posts From The Month Of August

by golbguru on September 5, 2007

Here are 10 popular posts that led to a lot of interesting discussions last month.


Mystery Money Image And Some Quick Facts About The US Cent

by golbguru on August 12, 2007

I was just having some fun at work creating images of a penny to demonstrate a certain technology to some new students. Here is an example image:

once cent image

Can you guess how this image was created? Hint - think out of the box; except for the size, it has not been edited in any way.

Interestingly, not many of the students knew how the penny looks up-close. They have probably *seen* it for years, but never *observed* it closely. Some of them knew what “E Pluribus Unum” means, but none of them knew what “FG” stands for. :)

The letters “FG” are not clearly visible in the above image, but you can check this detailed photograph of the penny for that.

For those who are not aware about the significance of those letters - they are the initials of the designer Frank Gasparro.

By the way, the other side (Lincoln side) of the penny was designed by Victor Brenner. But, check out this detailed photograph of the Lincoln side of the penny - here only the letter “D” appears below the year, instead of the initials. Now, what is that for? Well, that’s a mint mark of the US Mint at Denver, Colorado.

So, the other side doesn’t have Victor Brenner’s initials? If you ask that question, then you haven’t yet *observed* the Lincoln side of the coin closely enough. :)


How Mad Can Jim Cramer Get?

by golbguru on August 7, 2007

For those who missed the action, here is a piece of it.
He is either faking it (not uncommon on American television) or he is pretty near to having a heart attack.


We should probably put Jim Cramer, Bill Poole, and Ben Bernanke on The Jerry Springer Show someday.


Bought Steering Wheel Lock - Crap Or Not?

by golbguru on August 4, 2007

Technically, a title like this belongs to Cap @ Stop Buying Crap. However, I am going to borrow it for the time being to address the issue of “The Club” - a steering wheel locking device.

I had been toying with the idea of reinforcing (I say “reinforcing” because the car already has an engine immobilizer) our car’s security. After briefly analyzing a few products, I finally decided to get the relatively inexpensive steering wheel lock ($40). A variation of this steering lock (and it’s placement on the steering wheel) is shown in the image below.

steering wheel lock

The device boasts of “solid steel hooks for greater security”, but according to me the biggest weakness is the lock-and-key system - irrespective of how “solid” the steel body is. And, any security system is always broken at it’s weakest link.

Anyways, I intend to use the lock as a “deterrent”, more than as a solid device to prevent theft. Given two cars, one with the lock and other without it, a *casual* thief will always go for the one without the lock (or that’s what I think). Plus, the damn thing is highly visual. Perhaps, intimidating enough for wannabe car thieves who are not yet all that sophisticated.

Just bought some crap .. or not?

For $40, it’s cheap crap anyways. :)


Cut Credit Cards In Style - Make Toy Boomerangs Out Of Them

by golbguru on July 24, 2007

Dave Ramsey is going to be happy with me for writing this post.

Normally, I don’t subscribe to Ramsey’s psychology and I don’t recommend cutting up credit cards (at least not valid, unexpired ones that can still be used). But, I was just re-reading one of my long-time favorite books “Physics for Entertainment” and suddenly thought of using credit cards for one of the *entertaining* experiments suggested in the book [credit card plastic is rigid and virtually indestructible and hence a good candidate].

Before I proceed, let me make a few comments about the book - I am not sure how many of you have even heard about it. The book, first published in mid-90s, comes in a two part series, and was originally written in Russian by Yakov Perelman. Both parts of the book are extremely rare to find in the present times. The only place that still has it (that too only Part 2) is - with a price tag of $130. Interestingly, about 15 years ago, my dad bought the book (both parts included - *used* condition) for some measure of currency that is equivalent to about 25 cents (US $) in today’s world.

Anyways, back to the credit card boomerang thing.

First, it will be helpful if you read up this information on boomerang basics. After you read that, it will be obvious that we are looking to create some L-shaped flying objects from the credit cards. Technically, we are tying to make a “returning boomerang”.

This is easier when explained with images, so here are before-and-after images of boomerangs made out of a Sears Gold Mastercard (that card was still valid when I cut it up - didn’t have any expired credit cards):

credit card boomerangs

To avoid being unfair to credit cards, I also cut up a check card (no more ATM fees :) ):

two boomerangs from a check card

Now, to fly those boomerangs, follow these instructions:

how to fly a boomerang

It takes a bit of a practice before you will get it right (here, some people may realize that they can’t even flick properly). Also, you could try testing boomerangs of various shapes - try twisting them a little bit (helps for a longer flight), try rounding off the corners, etc. - additional incentives to cut up more cards. ;)

A good L-shaped credit card boomerang should fly up to 10~15 feet and will *almost* come back to you.

Additional tips:

  • It’s OK to have two arms of unequal lengths - in fact, that way it might work even better.
  • They are fun to play with, but be careful - a good boomerang will come back to you and you don’t want it to get in your eyes. Credit card plastic is very hard (that’s why it works well in the first place), and it can really hurt if it gets in your eyes (or someone else’s eyes). So watch you kids if they are cutting up your credit cards for fun.
  • In addition to teaching your kids how to cut credit cards, you can also try explaining some science to them. That will make your card cutting activity a bit productive.

So go ahead… check out if Mastercard flies better than Visa, or Amex. :)


The Complete Package

by golbguru on June 24, 2007

This advertisement appeared in my college newspaper a few days ago:

complete package advertisement

Now, what more would you want in that package. ;)

Couldn’t resist sharing the chuckle.

Btw, the habit of glancing over the classifieds pages dates back to my motorcycle buying days.

Feel free to share any funny financial classifieds you may have seen… or perhaps imagined. :)