Prepared by Bassam Mechammil


March 2009


For comments; please email Mechammil@aol.com




Warning signs of when to stop driving:

Many people with dementia have trouble making decisions and reacting quickly, which can be dangerous on the road. Here are some signs its time to stop driving:

         Trouble remembering routes to familiar places like the grocery store

         Getting lost while driving in a familiar area

         Taking longer on familiar trips

         Drifting in and out of lanes

         Signs of damage to the car

         Stopping in the middle of the road or at green lights

         Inattention to speed

         Mistaking the gas pedal for the brake

         Frequent honking from other drivers

         Frequent confusion or anger while driving





Q- My car manual says I should put only PREMIUM GAS in my car. Do I really need to do that?


A-    Your cars engine is designed to run on premium if the manual tells you to use it. Premium gas is processed to burn more slowly in high compression engines, so it provides power without causing knocking or pinging. In an emergency, you can use regular fuel in an engine designed for premium, but your car will get significantly better mileage on premium gas. In fact, despite premiums higher cost, you will get more miles per dollar from premium gas. Frequent use of regular gas in a car designed for premium can lead to a buildup of carbon deposits and a permanent drop in power and gas mileage.



20 Big-Salary Jobs, No Degree Required

By Rachel Zupek, CareerBuilder.com writer

While the importance of earning a college degree to secure a good job has been engrained in our brains for as long we can remember, a four-year degree is not the only path to a successful career.

Though schooling is a great way to develop skills and will no doubt enhance your credibility, a college education is no longer a requirement to securing a well-paying salary. Despite the fact that college graduates earn an average of $1 million more than high school graduates during their careers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, it is possible to land a lucrative position otherwise.

Additionally, workers with a high school education or less have an abundance of positions open to them. In 2006, 66 million jobs -- about 44 percent of the total -- were available to workers with less than a high school education, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2016, there are expected to be 71 million jobs available to these workers.

Just because these jobs don't require a college degree, however, doesn't mean that they don't require hard work or extensive training. Here are 20 of the highest-paying jobs that don't require a degree, according to CBSalary.com.

1. Margin department supervisor
Salary: $83,579/year
Primary duties: Overseeing a company's credit department, which manages customer credit accounts and approves or denies credit to customers.

2. Air traffic controller
Salary: $74,922/year
Primary duties: Controlling air traffic around airports according to established procedures and policies to ensure flight safety.

3. Automobile service station manager
Salary: $72,246/year
Primary duties: Supervising gas stations and planning and implementing policy and procedure like hours of operation, workers' duties and prices for products and services.

4. Real estate broker
Salary: $71,994/year
Primary duties: Securing real-estate transactions, selling real estate, renting properties and arranging loans.

5. Web surfer
Salary: $70,604/year
Primary duties: Scouring through multiple Web sites to analyze and compare information and user experiences to collect information to help companies understand online users' behaviors.

6. Lead carpenter
Salary: $63,345/year
Primary duties: Leading the on-site completion of construction projects and performing all types of carpentry work and finishing.

7. Cable supervisor
Salary: $60,887/year
Primary duties: Supervising the activities of workers engaged in installation, maintenance and cable repair.

8. Chemical supervisor
Salary: $57,472/year
Primary duties: Overseeing workers who make chemical products, verifying that chemical processes are followed.

9. Home-care aide supervisor
Salary: $56,157/year
Primary duties: Directing aides who mind for elderly or disabled people in a home environment, and monitoring the quality and quantity of services provided.

10. Medical facility housekeeping manager
Salary: $55,368/year
Primary duties: Managing the workers and housekeeping program in medical facilities to uphold sanitary and orderly conditions.

11. Flight service manager
Salary: $54,350/year
Primary duties: Ensuring that flight attendants conform to personal appearance and preflight requirements; compiling flight reports.

12. Locomotive engineer
Salary: $54,084/year
Primary duties: Driving electric, diesel-electric or gas-turbine-electric trains to transport passengers or freight.

13. Interior aircraft assembly supervisor
Salary: $53,606/year
Primary duties: Supervising the process of assembling everything for the inside of an aircraft from mechanics to furniture.

14. Painting supervisor
Salary: $51,977/year
Primary duties: Overseeing all painting activities such as mixing paint, preparing surfaces before painting and applying decorative or protective finishes to various structures.

15. Gas plant operator
Salary: $51,676/year
Primary duties: Maintaining certain pressures in pipelines to produce and/or transport natural gas.

16. Payroll supervisor
Salary: $51,410/year
Primary duties: Managing employees working on company payroll, ensuring that pay calculation is in accordance with company policy, government regulations and tax codes.

17. Assembly supervisor
Salary: $50,462/year
Primary duties: Overseeing workers who use power tools and other equipment to assemble products.

18. Credit and collection supervisor
Salary: $50,330/year
Primary duties: Supervising employees engaged in the review of credit risks and collections; may also review client credit history to grant or deny extensions of credit.

19. Data control supervisor
Salary: $50,310/year
Primary duties: Managing data entry workers and assuming responsibility for those workers' tasks to be complete and accurate; may sometimes assist with assignments.

20. Reimbursement recovery specialist

Salary: $49,246/year
Primary duties: Negotiating cases where third-party liability reimbursement exists by investigating and identifying responsible third parties, then paying out those parties



What's in the White House Garage? The Presidential Limo


2009 Cadillac Presidential Limousine
2009 Cadillac Presidential Limousine

General Motors may not be doing so hot in auto sales, but it's still the number one choice for the White House. The Big Three manufacturer built the black limousine 44th U.S. President Barack Obama rode in during the recent Inauguration Day parade. Dubbed the 2009 Cadillac Presidential Limousine, the high-tech ride replaces George W. Bush's 2006 Cadillac DTS limo. In fact, according to the Detroit News, this is "the first presidential limousine not to carry a specific model name."

Cadillac built the specially designed vehicle according to Secret Service specifications. "Gauging from what is known of earlier models, the car will reportedly have armor plating at least 5 inches thick, bulletproof windows, run-flat tires and a sealed interior to protect the president in case of chemical attack," says ABC News. The San Francisco Chronicle says that "a half-inch of transparent armor is enough to stop a .44 Magnum round at point-blank range; at a thickness of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches, the same material can withstand higher-velocity bullets fired from military assault rifles."

The Detroit News says the heavy limo could be built on GM's medium-duty truck platform. They also note, "Cadillac has disclosed in the past that the limo has a 10-disc CD player and hand-stitched leather interiors." Reportedly, Cadillac One weighs way over 5,000 pounds, goes from zero to sixty in a leisurely 15 seconds, and has a top speed of just 60 mph. But eight-inch thick ballistic armored doors, hermetically-sealed windows of five-inch thick bulletproof glass, and a five-inch thick armor plate underneath make it more impervious to blasts than many tanks. According to the AP, the Secret Service has appropriately nicknamed the new car "The Beast."

Several sources speculate whether the car will fit in with Obama's hybrid-friendly campaign. FOX News notes that "a vehicle that needs to withstand a direct hit from an asteroid is likely to get the kind of gas mileage that would make Toyota Prius owners weep, so there are no expectations of it being anything less than a certified gas guzzler." Still, a photographer has reported hearing "what sounded like the distinctive exhaust note of a diesel engine" under the Caddy's hood. CNN confirms, "Car enthusiasts believe the overweight vehicle burns diesel and will have low mileage."

2006 Cadillac DTS Limousine
2006 Cadillac DTS Limousine

Since the switch from horse and buggy during William Taft's administration, U.S. Presidents have ridden in everything from the Baker Electric to the Lincoln Town Car. The Detroit News points out that GM "has built the most presidential limousines since 1983, wresting the job away from Ford Motor Co., which built a series of Lincolns -- mostly Continentals -- for use by presidents starting in 1939, when it built a Lincoln V-12 for President Franklin Roosevelt." According to the New York Times, Presidents Nixon, Carter, Ford and Reagan each used the same 1972 Lincoln. John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in his 1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible on Nov. 22, 1963.

Before he ran for office, Obama was often seen driving a Chrysler 300C, but traded it in for a more politically correct Ford Escape Hybrid after receiving criticism regarding the V8-powered vehicle's low fuel economy. In fact, the Escape Hybrid has become the politically-correct car of choice for many politicians -- both Hillary Clinton and Al Gore have owned one (though Gore's son was behind the wheel of a Toyota Prius when he was arrested for driving at 100 miles per hour in July of 2007).

Several sources have reported that Obama learned to drive in a Ford Granada sedan (WGN TV reports he also told a radio station, "it may be the worst car that Detroit ever built"). USA Today notes that Obama's former opponent, Senator John McCain, once drove a 1958 Chevy Corvette, but now drives a Cadillac CTS.

As for Obama's former Chrysler 300C, the light blue car sold recently on eBay for quite a premium. Left Lane News reports that it was originally listed on eBay in December with a starting bid of $100,000 -- about $85,000 more than its list price. However, despite receiving about two dozen bids, the seller postponed the sale and ended the auction early. The seller relisted the "ObamaMobile" just recently and, according to the Washington Examiner, sold it for $271,300 after receiving more than 100 bids.

The Examiner continues: "For all of your trouble and a whole heck of a lot of money, you will at least be receiving proof of the President's ownership via the title. You'll also be getting a fully loaded car with options like leather interior, navigation, power doors and locks, and a sunroof!"




NBA Team Valuations

12.03.08, 06:00 PM EST




Current Value1 ($mil)

1-Yr Value Change (%)

Debt/Value3 (%)

Revenue4 ($mil)

Operating Income5 ($mil)


New York Knicks







Los Angeles Lakers







Chicago Bulls







Detroit Pistons







Cleveland Cavaliers







Houston Rockets







Dallas Mavericks







Phoenix Suns







Boston Celtics







San Antonio Spurs







Toronto Raptors







Miami Heat







Philadelphia 76ers







Utah Jazz







Washington Wizards







Sacramento Kings







Orlando Magic







Golden State Warriors







Denver Nuggets







Portland Trail Blazers







Atlanta Hawks







Indiana Pacers







Minnesota Timberwolves







Oklahoma City Thunder







Los Angeles Clippers







New Jersey Nets







Memphis Grizzlies







New Orleans Hornets







Charlotte Bobcats







Milwaukee Bucks
















Say you're in the wine store and you want to buy something new. You have nothing to go by outside of the label. Will the label tell you anything you should know?

We were asked this question by Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air" recently and we realized that, surprisingly, we'd never been asked that before. We are often asked how to read labels -- whole books have been written about that. Ms. Gross's question was simpler yet far broader. In a sea of wine labels, are there certain things to look for -- across the board, country to country? We've thought a lot about it, and here's what to look for and what to ignore. There are a million caveats and exceptions, but here's some general advice:



Vintage. This is actually the first thing we look for ourselves. You don't need to have a vintage chart in your pocket or care whether 2001 or 2002 was a better year in the Sierra Foothills. The vast majority of wines at the store are meant to be drunk right away, so you want to make sure the wine isn't too old, particularly if you're buying it expecting lively, fresh fruitiness. We routinely see five-year-old Pinot Grigio and two-year-old Beaujolais Nouveau at stores, for example, so as soon as we see that kind of age on wines like those, we know we can skip them and move on (and possibly not shop there again).


Alcohol content. Too many wines today have too much alcohol, which leaves them unbalanced. Sure, there are some classic wines with fairly high alcohol levels, but many of today's regular table wines -- Merlot, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Zinfandel -- have levels at 15% or above. Some of those might be terrific, but if we had nothing else to go on, we'd look for alcohol content at about 14% and below.


Critter labels. In the past few years, there has been a profusion of inexpensive wines with cute animals on the labels. We have tasted these wines and they are generally less attractive than the labels. Of course, some good wines happen to have animals on the labels -- consider Stag's Leap or Iron Horse from California, for instance -- but, especially when it comes to less-expensive wines, we'd avoid wines where the cute animal seems to be the main point of the wine. A humdinger of a tale about the animal is often a clue that this is a wine to avoid.


Geography. The more specific the better. A wine that says it's from Napa is probably a better bet than a wine that simply says it's from California. It's the same way all over the world. Unfortunately, this will also probably be reflected in the price, so this might not tell you much about value. There are fabled vineyards around the world, plots of land famous for producing high-quality grapes. If you care enough to know a few of these, they might help you make an educated guess about quality.


Estate-bottled. This means the people who made the wine also had a hand in growing the grapes on their own land. We generally find this a good sign.


Reserve. On American wines, this doesn't mean anything, so ignore it. There are various rules around the world concerning words like Reserva, but there's no guarantee it means anything in other parts of the world. Unless you know something about the rules concerning, say, Rioja, where it has genuine significance, don't worry about it.


Old vines or vieilles vignes. Theoretically, older vines produce fewer, but more flavorful, grapes, but the problem is that no one has defined what an "old vine" is, so anyone can put this on the label. Again, ignore it.


A phone number. This will require some extra time, because we're talking about tiny type on the back of a label, but you'd be surprised how many small-production wines these days include a phone number on the back and an invitation to call the winery. We have found that this is a sign of a highly personal winery. We have called those numbers many times over the years and it's amazing how often the winemaker or winery owner answers the phone.


Details, details, details. When we were young, we were fond of the late Hanns Kornell's Sehr Trocken, one of a handful of sparkling wines he made at his California winery. On the back label was a hand-printed date of when the wine was "disgorged," when the sediment in the neck of a bottle of bubbly was removed and the temporary cap replaced by a real cork. On the front of each bottle was this notation: "Naturally fermented in this bottle," which was a big deal because that's the way real Champagne is made, with the bubbly fermentation taking place in the bottle and not in a huge tank. We love information like that and some wineries still give it, including the dates when the grapes were harvested and the wine bottled. Details like these make the point that these things mattered to the winemaker and that he or she understands that they have meaning for the consumer, too. They add to the feeling of the wine's authenticity.


SCHIP Tobacco and Cigarette Tax

SCHIP Passed

Update February 2009

Under the final, approved SCHIP legislation, effective April 1, 2009, the excise tax on large cigars will increase from the current rate of 20.719%, with a per cigar cap of 4.875 cents to 52.75%, with a cap of 40.26 cents. SCHIP does not include a floor stocks tax on large cigars.

The excise tax on:

  • Little cigars will be increased from $1.828/thousand to $50.33 per thousand.
  • Cigarettes will increase from $19.50/thousand to $50.33/thousand (or from 39 cents per pack of 20 to $1.01 per pack of 20).
  • Moist snuff will increase from 58.5 cents per pound (roughly 4.3 cents per can) to $1.51 per pound (roughly 11.3 cents per can)
  • Chewing tobacco will increase from 19.5 cents per pound (roughly 3.6 cents per 3 oz pouch) to 50.33 cents per pound (roughly 9.5 cents per 3 oz pouch)
  • Pipe tobacco will increase from $1.0969 per pound to $2.8311 per pound
  • RYO will increase from $1.0969 per pound to $24.78 per pound

While there is no floor stocks tax on large cigars, there is a floor stocks tax on all other tobacco products. Retailers, wholesalers and other entities in possession of tobacco inventory (of "other tobacco products") as of March 31, 2009 will be required to pay the floor stocks tax by August 1, 2009.








Your stock market nightmare isn't over: 7 reasons the market is not going up any time soon

"It aint' over 'til it's over." And that ain't now.

I have used this expression all too often in the past few months -- a reaction to the oversupply of market optimists who have abandoned reason and what they learned in third-grade math.

The way I see it, the economy is in worse shape than people think, earnings will be worse than expected, and the stock market is not heading up any time soon.

Here are seven reasons why you'd be a fool to think differently (click on each item for a more complete analysis):

1. The housing crisis isn't over.

2. The next mortgage tsunami.

3. Credit markets remain frozen.

4. The banks are falling apart.

5. The consumer has stopped spending.

6. IT spending is flat and falling.

7. The government is grasping at air.

Any one of these points should be enough to make investors cautious, but taken together they add up to some very bad news for markets across the globe.


اختيار جنس المولود

د.دارين مالك

أريد أن أشير في بداية هذه المقالة رغم لا مبالاة البعض و سخريتهم أن البديهيات العلمية تتراكم سنة تلو الأخرى و أن الرغبة في تغيير الأمور أصبحت ممكنة في أيامنا هذه .

قبل أن تحمل الزوجة وقبل أن تتمنى الأسرة إنجاب صبي أو بنت ، على الزوجين حساب الكثير من الاحتمالات , واتباع بعض النصائح التي هدفها التخفيف من العوامل التي تقلل الخصوبة و التي معظمها قابل للعلاج ، و نذكر بعضا منها :

1- الضغط الحياتي .

2- الثياب : لأن الثياب الضيقة تقرب الخصيتين من الجسم فتزيد من حرارتهما و تقلل عندئذ من كمية الحيوانات المنوية و من نوعيتها .

3- نظافة المهبل.

4- التغذية : هناك علاقة وثيقة بين التغذية والخصوبة فإجراء حمية تنحيفية أو بذل مجهود رياضي كبير قد تكون من أسباب اضطرا بات المبيض و من جهة أخرى فإن زيادة كبرى في الوزن قد تؤدي إلى اضطرا بات في الدورة الدموية .

5- القهوة : إذا استهلكت القهوة بكمية معتدلة ازدادت حركة الحيوانات المنوية و بالتالي ازدادت خصوبة الرجل . و ليس للقهوة تأثير في خصوبة المرأة .

الدخان : الكحول المخدرات كلها مسؤولة عن انخفاض جودة السائل المنوي و المنويات عند الرجال .

6 - الأدوية إن بعض الأدوية يحدث اختلالا في ا لخصوبة مثل أدوية ارتفاع الضغط والقرحة و أدوية الكولسترول و القلق .

7- العمر تقل خصوبة المرأة تدريجيا حتى تنعدم بعد سن اليأس و كذلك عند الرجل نلاحظ ضعفا في نشاط الخصيتين مع التقدم بالعمر .

دور التغذية في تحديد الجنس :

المعادن في المأكولات : أربعة معادن موجودة في الطعام تلعب دورا أساسيا في تحديد جنس المولود هي :

الصوديوم البوتاسيوم الماغنيزيوم و الكالسيوم : لا نعرف بعد آلية عمل هذه المعادن في تحديد جنس المولود بشكل دقيق ، لكن ذكرت نظريات عديدة أن هذه المعادن تقوم بتعديل الافرازات المهبلية التي تصبح أكثر تقبلا لهذا النوع من الحيوانات المنوية أو ذاك ، أو بتعديل في سطح البويضة فتصبح أكثر تقبلا لأحد الحيوانات المنوية ، أو بتعديل في جهاز المناعة .

لكن وكما يبدو أن نسبة بعض المعادن إلى المعادن الأخرى هي التي تلعب دورا في تحديد جنس المولود ، أكثر من كمية كل معدن على حدة . إنها نسبة مجموع الصوديوم و البوتاسيوم إلى مجموع الكالسيوم و الماغنيزيوم . و هكذا كلما كانت النسبة عالية كلما زاد الحظ بإنجاب صبي . وللحصول على نسبة مرتفعة يكفي زيادة تغذية غنية بالصوديوم و البوتاسيوم أو تخفيف تغذية غنية بالكالسيوم و الماغنيزيوم .

النظام الغذائي الواجب إتباعه لإنجاب ذكر :

1-الحليب : ممنوع بكافة أشكاله كما تمنع الصلصات و الكر يما التي تحتوي على الحليب .

2-الألبان الطازجة : ممنوعة كافة أنواع الكريما واللبنة و الألبان .

3- الأجبان : ممنوعة كلها .

4-اللحوم : كل اللحوم مسموح بها مهما كانت الكمية .

5-الأسماك : كلها مسموح بها .

6- البيض : صفار البيض ممنوع أما البياض فمسموح .

7-الخضار و الفواكه : مسموح باستثناء السلق ، البقدونس ، الثوم ، السبانخ الفاصوليا الخضراء ، الصبار و الفريز والتوت البري .

و يحبذ بقوة الباذنجان ، الفطر، الملفوف ، البطاطا ، البندورة ، المشمش الأناناس ، الموز، البطيخ ، الدراق ، التفاح ، الأجاص، الخوخ .

النظام الغذائي الواجب إتباعه لإنجاب بنت :

1- الملح : ممنوع بكافة أشكاله .

2- الألبان و الحليب والأجبان الغير مملحة محبذة .

3- اللحوم والأسماك مسموح بها بحيث لا تتجاوز كميتها 120 غرام و أن لا تكون مملحة .

4- البيض :مسموح خصوصا صفار البيض .

5- الخضار مسموح تناول السلق والبقدونس و الملفوف خاصة الأخضر الثوم الفاصوليا الخضراء.

6- الحبوب : ممنوعة كلها الفول الفاصولياء البيضاء ، الحمص العدس .

7- الفواكه مسموح تناول التين الصبار التوت التفاح و العنب . .

مدة الحمية :

يجب أن تبدأ الحمية قبل شهر أو شهر و نصف من الموعد المقرر الحمل فيه، أو على الأكثر في بداية الدورة الشهرية السابقة على الموعد المذكور .إذا كانت عاداتك الغذائية تؤدي لا نجاب ولد من جنس معين وأنت ترغبين بولد من الجنس الآخر فسيحتاج جسمك إلى شهر إضافي لإحداث التغيرات المطلوبة .

طريقة حفظ الأطعمة :

إن تجفيف الأطعمة أو تمليحها محبذة في الحمية المتبعةلانجاب صبي لغناها بالصوديوم و البوتاسيوم .

ويفضل في هذه الحمية تناول الأطعمة الطازجة بدلا من المعلبة المعتمدة في الحمية لإنجاب البنات لغناها بالأملاح .

(إن المقالات المنشورة تعبر عن رأي المؤلف، و هي قد لا تتوافق بالضرورة مع رأي هيئة التحرير)