Showing posts from December, 2013

What does Auld Lang Syne mean?

You know that song you hear every New Year's Eve? The one about not forgetting old acquaintances. Did you ever wonder what that phrase is in the chorus? Is it: For old ang zine Far hold ang zyne For old aunt Gzyne Farheld ang zyne Farheld ang sign For old ang sign For old angsign Foothold and sign For all the aunts of mine Actually, it's not any of these. On New Year's Eve, the most common song for most English-speaking people to sing is "Auld Lang Syne." Isn't it funny how it's possible to sing and hear a song so many times and have no idea what it means? And wouldn't it be funny if it meant "Big Pink Elephants"? A good sub-question is, what language is it? It turns out that "Auld Lang Syne" is an extremely old Scottish song that was first written down in the 1700s. Robert Burns is the person whose transcription got the most attention, so the song is associated with him. According to this page , a good translatio

Lawmakers Cite Progress on Budget Near Deadline

By CARL HULSE Published: December 26, 2013    WASHINGTON — With the next budget deadline just weeks away, top lawmakers said this week that they had made significant progress negotiating a huge government-wide spending bill that gives the once mighty congressional Appropriations Committees an opportunity to reassert control over the flow of federal dollars.        “We have a chance to prove to the rest of the Congress that we can produce bills,” Representative Harold Rogers, the Kentucky Republican who is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in an interview.        The past few years have proved frustrating for members of the spending panels. With House Republicans unable to come to terms with Senate Democrats on a budget, the government has mainly functioned under a series of continuing resolutions that have taken the Appropriations Committees out of the game.        “It has been a real struggle and tough at times,” Mr. Rogers said.        Whi

Construction Faces a Fight for Fiscal Year 2014 Dollars

Now that Congress has approved a budget bill that includes a sizable spending hike for the rest of fiscal year 2014, construction industry officials will gear up to battle with advocates for a wide range of other interests for a share of those dollars.   The budget bill—the result of a deal between House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.)—won final congressional approval on Dec. 18, when the Senate passed it on a 64-36 vote. The House cleared the measure six days earlier by a wide margin.   The immediate next focus is the measure's $44.5-billion hike in overall 2014 discretionary spending. The bill split that sum between the broad defense and nondefense sectors, but provided no line-item details. It will be up to the appropriations committees to allocate those funds among the many federal construction and nonconstruction programs. The appropriations panels' chairpersons, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)

Reid: Boehner will cave in on immigration

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) predicted Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will negotiate on comprehensive immigration reform next year, despite Boehner's declarations to the contrary. The Democratic leader argued that Boehner has a new willingness to confront Tea Party groups and this, in turn, gives Reid confidence he will not have to break up the Senate immigration bill to negotiate a series of piecemeal reforms with the House. “I think that John Boehner will conference with the Senate. Why wouldn’t he? He’ll have a lot of pressure from his members now that the election is getting closer,” Reid said in an interview with The Hill. “Some of his members are in very marginal districts, where they need to do something on immigration,” he added. Boehner has vowed he would not let the Senate bill, which spans more than 1,200 pages, reach the negotiating table. The most controversial element of the package is a provision granting a pathway to citizenship for millions o

November Construction Starts Turn in a Solid Performance

12/17/2013 by Bernard M. Markstein        Reed Construction Data announced today that the value of November construction starts, excluding residential contracts, rose a solid 12.5% to $25.0 billion after increasing 5.0% in October. Since the starts data are not seasonally adjusted (NSA), caution should be used in analyzing monthly movements. Year-over-year comparisons are often used, as they remove much of the seasonal effects. Starts were up a less spectacular 2.0% compared to November 2012. The year-to-date starts data, which totaled $250.5 billion, were up a decent, if not overwhelming, 4.3% from the same period in 2012. The value of construction starts 1 each month is summarized from the Reed database of all active construction projects in the U.S., excluding residential construction. Missing project values are estimated with RSMeans building cost models. Monthly commercial starts have experienced some ups and downs over the course of this year, but have generally trende

Senate passes bipartisan budget agreement

By Lori Montgomery , Published: December 18 E-mail the writer J. Scott Applewhite/AP - Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) discusses the compromise spending plan during a television news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, 12/18/13 Congress declared a holiday truce in the budget wars Wednesday, sending President Obama a blueprint for funding the government through 2015. But the next skirmish was already on the horizon: an election-year fight over the national debt. The budget deal that passed the Senate on Wednesday amounts to a handshake agreement to avoid a government shutdown when a temporary funding measure expires Jan. 15. However, the accord does not address the need once again to raise the debt limit, setting up a potentially complicated confrontation in late February or early March.   That fight would come just months before midterm congressional elections, and the GOP is deeply divided over tactics to de

What were your biggest risks this year?

1. Cyber Risk 2013 was a "cyber tipping-point," causing businesses and governments to take a deeper look at the threats posed by new technology. Read the third annual " Information Security & Cyber Liability Risk Management " survey, published by Advisen and sponsored by Zurich, to learn more. 2. Trade Credit and Political Risk Trade Credit insurance can help many companies navigate foreign risks, as they look for opportunities around the globe during this period of economic uncertainty. Read our white paper, " Companies turning to Trade Credit Insurance in an unpredictable and debt-laden world ," to find out more about this option. 3. Global D&O U.S. multinationals' foreign directors and officers face a rockier liability, legal and regulatory environment than in the previous decade, raising questions about how well some organizations are protecting their overseas executives. Zurich's white paper, " Global developments affect

Developing Relationships With Surety Bond Producers

There’s a common thread among surety agents and producers when it comes to their contractor customers that does not involve automation. It is the personal relationships they have developed over time. Each surety producer may have a different style of developing those relationships, but make no mistake, the role of the agent is to educate, guide, counsel, challenge, scold, and praise contractor and subcontractor clients and occasionally push back when they can’t defend their position. It is the surety producer’s job to make sure the contractors’ surety programs are placed in the right market, so they have strong relationships already established when it is time for them to stretch or when times are tough. When it comes to working with their customers, producers do the following: Read more:

There's A Boatload Of Big Economic Events This Week — Here's Your Complete Preview

The surprisingly strong November jobs report , the surprisingly strong November retail sales report , and the earlier-than-expected U.S. budget deal are just a few of the things that have people feeling pretty good America's economic prospects. The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will surely be talking about it when they meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the path of monetary policy. Read more:

2013: The Year in Robots

</body> A robot that detects cracks in tunnels now joins the many other robots being used by governments today. Under development now for the European Union’s ROBINSPECT program, the semi-autonomous tunnel-inspecting robot consists of a small unmanned vehicle connected to a crane and robotic arm with various sensors. A working prototype is expected to be finished sometime next year. The robot can reportedly work at a rate of three feet per second, scanning tunnel walls and generating rough two-dimensional images. From those images, the robot searches for cracks meeting certain criteria and when it finds them, generates more detailed three-dimensional images using ultrasound and laser technology. The robot requires a human operator, who can issue commands like “stop” or “advance,” but the robot’s work is largely autonomous, stopping only to notify the operator of cracks. Researchers predict such a robot could save government money by reducing the number of crew me

Author of Timer™DIET Sherri Sue Fisher (CFMA member aka Sherri S. Parkin, CPA)

So I have decided to tap into my creative side and publish my first book, Timer ™ DIET , which focuses on weight-loss and most importantly—maintenance. Business women will obtain a lot of useful information on how to lose or maintain weight, while being a working professional. See CEO Blog Nation featuring TimerDiet! “Tips for Busy Business Executives and Entrepreneurs to Stay Healthy” Link: “A relatively sensible—if not entirely original—diet book…Fisher provides a solid foundation for the mental part of losing weight using a system of journaling, timed snacks, makeovers—of the wardrobe, kitchen and pantry—and strategies to help work through stress, discouragement, jealousy, insecurities (from partners or friends, too), and even occasions such as parties and holidays that may arise on the journey. Her emphases on ease and satisfaction are key; Fisher knows that few are likely to

Viral Video Puts Spotlight on Need for Female Engineers

A video aimed at inspiring girls to use their imaginations to build (rather than pretend to be princesses) has garnered more than eight million views and drawn attention to the under-representation of women in the engineering field. The two-minute-long video, produced by toy maker GoldieBlox , features three little charmers bored with flouncing girls wearing tiaras and pink dresses on TV, so they don safety glasses, hardhats and tool belts and set off an inventive house-and-yard-wide adventure using toys and common household items. The original video featured repurposed lyrics to the Beastie Boy’s song “Girls,” but has since been changed because GoldieBlox never received rights to the music. Amidst publicity resulting from media coverage of the legal dispute with the Beastie Boys, GoldieBlox Founder Debra Sterling stated in a letter: “Over the past week, parents have sent us pictures and videos of their kids singing with pride, building their own Rube Goldberg machines in their li

Capitol Leaders Agree to a Deal on the Budget

WASHINGTON — House and Senate budget negotiators reached agreement Tuesday on a budget deal that would raise military and domestic spending over the next two years, shifting the pain of across-the-board cuts to other programs over the coming decade and raising fees on airline tickets to pay for airport security.        The deal, while modest in scope, amounts to a cease-fire in the budget wars that have debilitated Washington since 2011 and gives lawmakers breathing room to try to address the real drivers of federal spending — health care and entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security — and to reshape the tax code.          For a Capitol used to paralyzing partisan gridlock, the accord between Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Senator Patty Murray of Washington, chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, was a reminder that even fierce political combatants can find common ground. Mr. Ryan praised the deal in t


Did you ever wonder why there are no dead penguins on the ice in Antarctica. Where do they go?  Wonder no more ! ! ! It is a known fact that the penguin is a very ritualistic bird which lives an extremely ordered and complex life. The penguin is very committed to its family and will mate for life, as well as maintain a form of compassionate contact with its offspring throughout its life. If a penguin is found dead on the ice surface, other members of the family and social circle have been known to dig holes in the ice, using their vestigial wings and beaks, until the hole is deep enough for the dead bird to be rolled into, and buried. The male penguins then gather in a circle around the fresh grave and sing: "Freeze a jolly good fellow." "Freeze a jolly good fellow." "Freeze a jolly good fellow." “Who could never ever fly!!”

2 million passwords stolen in massive hack

Security researchers have stumbled upon a huge file of stolen user names and passwords. By Julie Bort, Business Insider A computer security researcher has stumbled upon another huge file of stolen user names and passwords that was posted on the Internet for other hackers to enjoy. Daniel Chechik and his fellow researchers at Trustwave SpiderLabs found a cache of user names and passwords for 2 million accounts that gives hackers access to accounts on popular websites like Facebook ( FB -0.58% ), Google ( GOOG -0.08% ), Yahoo ( YHOO +1.94% ), Twitter ( TWTR +4.42% ), LinkedIn ( LNKD +3.39% ) and others. This stash of 2 million passwords follows a massive hack on Adobe Systems ( ADBE -1.80% ) revealed in October in which a jaw-dropping 38 million user accounts and passwords were nabbed and posted online. That attack was so big that other website vendors were affected because many people use the same user name and password for all of their websites. Website vendors like

House bill seeks to increase gas tax by 15 cents per gallon

By Ashley Halsey III , Published: December 4 E-mail the writer With Congress facing a major shortfall in transportation funding next year, a House bill introduced Wednesday would raise the federal gasoline tax by 15 cents per gallon to close the gap. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) announced the proposal at a news conference, flanked by an array of labor, construction and business leaders. It would raise the federal tax on gas to 33.4 cents per gallon and on diesel to 42.8 cents.   “Every credible independent report indicates that we are not meeting the demands of our stressed and decaying infrastructure system — roads, bridges and transit,” Blumenauer said.   The tax has not been increased since 1993, and the Highway Trust Fund, into which the revenue flows, has suffered because the tax has not kept pace with inflation. Plus, improvements in vehicle fuel economy have reduced consumption. “Congress hasn’t dealt seriously with the funding issue for 20 years,” B

Court Blocks Labor Board on Lawsuits

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: December 3, 2013    WASHINGTON — Employers can require their workers to sign arbitration agreements waiving all rights to class-action lawsuits over workplace grievances, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday. The ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturns a National Labor Relations Board decision last year that found such agreements conflicted with federal law giving workers the right to pursue collective action to complain about workplace conditions.        The court’s ruling is a win for businesses that want to limit legal exposure from the rising cost of class-action lawsuits over unpaid overtime and other wage violations. But it is a blow to workers who find it easier to band together when challenging the policies at a large company.        The case considered a policy in which D.R. Horton , a Fort Worth-based homebuilder, required all its employees to sign agreements to resolve any w

U.S. construction spending hits 4-1/2 year-high

(Reuters) - U.S. construction spending rose to its highest level in nearly 4-1/2 years in October as a rebound in public construction projects offset in drop in private outlays. Construction spending increased 0.8 percent to an annual rate of $908.4 billion, the highest level since May 2009, the Commerce Department said on Monday. Economists polled by Reuters had expected an increase of 0.4 percent. Construction spending fell 0.3 percent in September. The release of the September report was delayed by a 16-day partial shutdown of the government in October. Construction spending in August was revised to show a 0.1 percent rise instead of the previously reported 0.6 percent increase. Construction spending in October was buoyed by a 3.9 percent jump in public construction projects, the largest increase since March 2004, after a 1.9 percent fall in September. Public construction spending was boosted by a 3.2 percent increase in state and local government outlays, t

Gary L. Williams Obituary

Williams, Gary L. 73, Born in Alhambra CA and longtime resident of Mesa Arizona passed away on November 1, 2013. He entered into the arms of our loving Lord after enduring more than 2 years of suffering from a massive stroke. Preceding him in death were his parents when he was a young boy. He is survived by his loving wife of 49 years, Helen; their son Greg (Patrice); daughter Lori (Scott); Five granddaughters, Nicole (Jonathan), Sarah, Amanda, Amber, Madeline, and his great grandson Dillon; mother Joan; brother Bill (Angie); two sisters Celene and Jenene (Ron). Gary will be remembered as a loving family man, a pilot, a creative builder, and one who lived and loved life to the fullest. He founded Irontree Construction Inc. and leaves a continuing legacy of 35 years to the plumbing industry. A celebration of Gary's life will be held on Tuesday, December 3rd at 2 pm at Central Christian Church of Mesa: 933 No. Lindsay Rd. Mesa, AZ 85213. If a donation is desired, Gary's heart

ROC Rules: Proposed Changes Affect Contractors

Licensed contractors should be aware of three areas of change underway at the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC): complaint processing , solar contractor licensing and general rule changes. Complaints Over the next few months, the ROC will be changing how it processes and resolves complaints against contractors, according to a September 5 announcement from ROC director Bill Mundell. The announcement states, in part, that "the ROC will focus its regulatory efforts on ‘problem contractors.’" Here are some of the changes to expect: "Citations will not be issued solely at the request of the person filing the complaint. The ROC will decide whether the evidence provided by the complainant and gathered by the ROC investigator support the issuance of a citation." Mundell predicts that this change will result in fewer citations. "The ROC will implement an arbitration process. The arbitration process will typically be used for small-doll