Specific Actions

There is a positive you and there is a negative you. When you begin to realize which you is responsible for specific actions that you take, you can finally eliminate the negative and build upon the positive

Experts find new evidence in submarine mystery

Experts find new evidence in submarine mystery — Researchers say they may have the final clues needed to solve the mystery of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, which never resurfaced after it became the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship, taking its eight-man crew to a watery grave.

Scientists said Monday that the Hunley apparently was less than 20 feet away from the Housatonic when the crew ignited a torpedo that sank the Union blockade ship off South Carolina in 1864. That means it may have been close enough for the crew to be knocked unconscious by the explosion, long enough that they may have died before awakening.

FILE - The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sits in a conservation tank after a steel truss that had surrounded it was removed in this Jan. 12, 2012 file photo taken at a conservation lab in North Charleston, S.C. Scientists say a pole on the front of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley designed to plant explosives on enemy ships may hold a key clue to its sinking during the Civil War. The experts are to release their findings Monday Jan. 28, 2013 at the North Charleston lab where the hand-cranked sub is being preserved and studied. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith, File)

For years, historians thought the Hunley was much farther away and had speculated the crew ran out of air before they were able to return to shore.

The discovery was based on a recent examination of the spar — the iron pole in front of the hand-cranked sub that held the torpedo.

The Hunley, built in Mobile, Ala., and deployed off Charleston in an attempt to break the Union blockade during the Civil War, was finally found in 1995. It was raised five years later and brought to a lab in North Charleston, where it is being conserved.

Conservator Paul Mardikian had to remove material crusted onto one end of the spar after 150 years at the bottom of the ocean. Beneath the muck he found evidence of a cooper sleeve. The sleeve is in keeping with a diagram of the purported design of a Hunley torpedo that a Union general acquired after the war and is in the National Archives in Washington.

"The sleeve is an indication the torpedo was attached to the end of the spar," Mardikian said. He said the rest of the 16-foot spar shows deformities in keeping with it being bent during an explosion.

Now it may be that the crew, found at their seats when the sub was raised with no evidence of an attempt to abandon ship, may have been knocked out by the concussion of an explosion so close by, said Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, a member of the South Carolina Hunley Commission.

"I think the focus now goes down to the seconds and minutes around the attack on the Housatonic," he said. "Did the crew get knocked out? Did some of them get knocked out? Did it cause rivets to come loose and the water rush into the hull?"

The final answers will come when scientists begin to remove encrustations from the outer hull, a process that will begin later this year. McConnell said scientists will also arrange to have a computer simulation of the attack created based on the new information. The simulation might be able to tell what effect the explosion would have on the nearby sub.

Maria Jacobsen, the senior archaeologist on the project, said small models might also be used to recreate the attack.

Ironically, the crucial information was literally at the feet of scientists for years.

The spar has long been on display to the public in a case at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Lab where the Hunley is being conserved. With other priorities on the sub itself, it wasn't until last fall that Mardikian began the slow work of removing encrustations from the spar.

Scientists X-rayed the spar early on and found the denser material that proved to be the cooper sleeve. But Jacobsen said it had long been thought it was some sort of device to release the torpedo itself.

Finding evidence of the attached torpedo is "not only extremely unexpected, it's extremely critical," she said. "What we know now is the weapons system exploded at the end of the spar. That is very, very significant." ( Associated Press )

READ MORE - Experts find new evidence in submarine mystery

Middle-School Love Letter Displayed at Wedding 22 Years Later

Courtesy Aislinn Kate Photography

Middle-School Love Letter Displayed at Wedding 22 Years Later - What started innocently enough as a sixth-grade boy's plea for the girl of his dreams to meet him at the end of the hall after school ended up with that girl eventually meeting him down the aisle 22 years later.

When Cathy and Trevor Webb, of Pensacola, Fla., said their "I do's" on Oct. 20, their guests got to view a special piece of history the middle- schoolers had shared. A rather persistent love letter Trevor had written to Cathy in 1990 at Ferry Mass Middle School was proudly on display, proving the couple's love had been two decades in the making.

Written in all caps at the top was an oh-so-serious "DON'T LET ANYONE SEE THIS," which was immediately followed by Trevor's more anxious tone urging Cathy to decide which boy, he or Brad, she was going to choose to date.

The note reads, "Dear Cathy, I still like you and I still want you to go with me. I know Brad likes you. Please decide who you're going to go with. Think hard and let me know your decision. I'll be standing at the end of this hall and the beginning of the other hall. Meet me there as soon as school's out and you can tell me. Sincerely, Trevor."

Courtesy Aislinn Kate Photography

Cathy did meet him at the end of the hall that day, but despite his efforts, their sixth-grade romance was short-lived.

"He sent me that note and I ended up meeting him at the hallway and we went out for two weeks," Cathy, 32, told ABCNews.com. "We called it 'going out' back then. I think we went to an Addams Family movie, and I brought a friend with me. He never lets me live that down."

Trevor also never lets Cathy live down the fact that after only two weeks, she broke his heart by dumping him for another guy. But as time went on, although the pair wasn't dating, they remained close as "just friends."

"We actually went to the same high school and remained best friends through high school," Cathy said.

But they went their separate ways for college. Trevor attended University of Florida, and Cathy headed to East Carolina University. Upon graduation, she moved to University of Florida for grad school just as he was moving away to New Orleans.

"Then Katrina hit and he moved back to Pensacola. And I got a job back in Pensacola around the same time," Cathy said. "He was dating a different girl, and I was getting jealous. It was weird, because he was always such a close friend.

"One night we were just hanging out at the beach. Then all of a sudden we kissed, and it's just been me and him ever since."

Courtesy Aislinn Kate Photography

The couple's relationship finally came full circle when Trevor took to a knee to propose during one of Cathy's roller derby practices at Dreamland Skate Center, the exact same skating rink where he had given her a $40 gold ring 20 years earlier.

"He gave me a little ring at Dreamland Skate Center. It's been in business for years, and we all used to go there on Saturdays. He gave me a ring there, and when we broke up, I gave it back to him," Cathy explained. "He was so mad he threw it in a pond behind his house. It was $40, too, which is a lot for a little sixth grader."

But Trevor eventually got over his anger and devised a plan to replace the old gold ring with a much more permanent one.

"I started playing roller derby, and at one of our practices he showed up and surprised me. He had gotten all my teammates involved. We were stretching, and all the lights went out and our song came on," said Cathy. "He came out in a white tux with tails and the brown rental skates. They had me stand in the middle while my teammates were skating around the outside with glow sticks. He got down on a knee and had the new ring. It was really a special moment. I'll never forget that night."

The rest, as they say, is history, until their wedding photographer, Aislinn Kate Rehwinkel, posted a picture of the middle-school love letter on her Facebook fan page.

"It's so crazy how all this happened," Rehwinkel said. "I was going through post production of all their photos. I took that picture and I posted it on my Facebook fan page because it was such a special detail from their wedding. A random fan, in a different city and different state, loved it and posted it on the Reddit account."

The photo has now gone viral since it was posted to Reddit on Nov. 27, and the couple couldn't be happier to prove that nothing is more romantic than putting pen to paper.

"He's very romantic. He still writes me notes from time to time," Cathy said. ( ABC News Blogs )

READ MORE - Middle-School Love Letter Displayed at Wedding 22 Years Later

Best digital cameras under $200

Best digital cameras under $200 - The advances in camera technology in recent years is nothing short of breathtaking. Picture quality and features that were once reserved only for professional shooters and hobbyists with a lot of disposable income are now available to the masses. The average consumer can purchase a suitable camera for a relatively low cost — which we will discuss in a minute — but there are technical specs and preferences you should know before making your choice.

For instance, you want to know about megapixels. Megapixels determine how many pixels the camera can capture. It's not as big of a deal as it used to be, since most cameras have at least 10 megapixels. At 10 megapixels or higher, you can be sure your prints will come out beautifully.

What about digital zoom versus optical zoom? Optical zoom provides a sharper image by focusing on a smaller area. Digital zoom magnifies a smaller area but does not sharpen the focus. As such, you want to look for a camera with good optical zoom.

As with any technology purchase, you should get to know your camera as well as possible before you buy it. The camera will likely be with you for a long time. You'll use it to capture the moments in your life — whether they are tender, silly or timeless.

The cameras listed here are some of the best you can buy for under $200. Each of them are made by reputable manufacturers and come with all the options and features you could want in an everyday, inexpensive digital camera.

1. Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8

From $168The picture quality on this intuitive, versatile superzoom camera is excellent. With 14 megapixels and a 1/2.3-inch CCD, the camera also offers excellent video quality; audio capture is good as well. It handles some of the problems found in inexpensive digital cameras well, with a quick response time and a short shot delay. It's not the quickest camera we found, and it takes a long time to get started. 

However, the Panasonic has many unexpected positives for a superzoom. It has excellent battery life and is light and compact for a camera in this category. (http://www.panasonic.com/)


2. Canon PowerShot SX260 HS

From $199The Canon PowerShot is a good fit for both expert shooters and amateurs as well at a reasonable price. It has a 20x 25mm ultrawide angle lens, 12-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor, and a Disc 5 image processor that lets it shoot in bursts of 10 frames per second.

The camera also offers very good HD video quality, which you can watch on your computer, mobile device or even a big screen HDTV without a loss in picture quality. (http://shop.usa.canon.com)


3. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX50

From $140Here's a camera with 5x zoom and 16 megapixels that will fit comfortably in your pocket. Small, light, and built with the quality you've come to expect from Sony, this this Cyber-shot model takes excellent photos with a nice, even flash that will illuminate whatever you're shooting, wherever you're shooting it. Even in dark settings, this camera will get it done. Its ability to produce good skin tones is also of note.

Finally, the DSC-WX50 records 1080i video at 60 frames per second. (http://store.sony.com)


4. Nikon Coolpix S600

From $164This Nikon model is a little on the heavy side compared to similar models, but it takes sharp pictures with 10 megapixels and a vibration reduction feature. The 3D photo mode and 1080p video are nice features for a camera at this price point. It has a lightning fast shutter speed and a convenient scroll wheel for setting adjustments. The video looks good and the camera features a mini-HDMI port so you can connect it to your HDTV. (http://www.nikonusa.com)


5. Canon PowerShot ELPH 300

From $199The slim, attractive Canon ELPH features Canon's HS System and a DIGIC 4 Image Processor, making low-light shooting situations possible without the flash. Despite its petite stature it features 1080p HD video (with optical zoom) and excellent stereo sound that is easy to use with the dedicated movie button.

This is the kind of camera for people who just want to take fun photos (it has 12 megapixels) and video without having to adjust the settings — thought you certainly can. However, even if you leave it on the auto setting you'll be impressed with the picture quality from the ELPH.  ( www.canon.com/) 

READ MORE - Best digital cameras under $200

Ten of the World’s Most Insulting Fees and How to Beat Them

Ten of the World’s Most Insulting Fees and How to Beat Them - You give me something I want, we agree on a price, I pay for it. It’s the way the world has worked for thousands of years. These days? Not so much.

Today, with an increasing number of businesses, it goes more like this: You provide something I want, we agree on a price, I pay, then you tack on fees to fatten your bottom line.
Unreasonable fees are more than just a drain on your finances. They’re insulting – the financial equivalent of a cold slap in the face. Check out the following TV news story for some examples, and to see how far I’ll go to illustrate a concept.

airline fees

Now, in no particular order, here are 10 of the world’s most insulting fees. They made my list for one of three reasons: They’re unreasonable, you’re getting little or nothing in return, or they’re ridiculously overpriced.


1. Checked baggage fees :

Most major carriers charge $25 to check one suitcase – a lot more if it’s oversized, overweight, or both.

This fee didn’t exist until recent years, and for good reason: The price of a plane ticket should obviously include luggage. Isn’t that an integral part of traveling long distance? No other travel-related services – buses, trains, hotels, cabs, rental cars - charge for luggage. This isn’t a fee – it’s a sophomoric attempt to disguise a higher price.

Workaround: There are two major airlines that don’t charge this insulting fee: Southwest and JetBlue. Fly them if you can. If you can’t, check this chart or one like it to see how much your airline is charging and use that as an incentive to pack light.

Some airlines also allow you to avoid baggage fees by using their branded credit cards.

2. Carry-on baggage fees: 

At least when you pay to check a bag, there’s a service involved. Someone has to load it, unload it, and make sure it gets safely back into your hands. Charging for a carry-on bag is charging for nothing whatsoever. Nobody is touching your bag but you, and making this fee indefensible. Fortunately, Spirit and Allegiant are the only airlines that do it, at least so far.

Workaround: Avoid flying Spirit, Allegiant, or any airline that charges for doing nothing. If they’re the only airlines available, drive. If that’s impossible, check with UPS or another freight carrier about shipping bags.

3. Lap fees, pet fees: 

If you’ve got a child less than 2, it’s typically free to carry them on your lap for a domestic flight. Leave the country, however, and you might pay a “lap fee” of 10 percent of the ticket cost. And not the cost of your ticket: a full-fare ticket – the most expensive available. Delta, United, US Airways, and American all have some form of this policy, and for what? The airline is performing no service: no extra room, no assistance, nothing.

Ditto when you’re flying with Fido. If you have to ship your pet in the baggage compartment, you’d expect a handling fee. But bring them with you in the cabin, and you’ll pay up to $125 each way – and the carrier counts as a carry-on. Again, the airline is doing nothing, but collecting a hefty fee.

Workaround: Check with the airline before you book the ticket to see what fees, if any, you can expect. If they’re high, shop around: Some airlines charge less than others.

Rental cars

4. Collision Damage Waiver (CDW): 

This is the pricey insurance replacement you’re hammered with whenever you rent a car. If you’re not fully insured in rental cars, some type of protection is absolutely necessary. But CDW makes the list of insulting fees because it’s overpriced: It can cost $25 a day. Add extra liability coverage, and you could be paying $40. That’s the equivalent of a car policy that costs $14,600 a year, with lousy coverage. For example, CDW often refuses to pay if there’s an unauthorized driver, you’re intoxicated or in other situations.

Workaround: If you have full-coverage insurance on your personal car, you’re probably covered in rentals. There’s also coverage available through some credit cards as well. Check both sources to see if you can skip this overpriced coverage at the rental counter. Be aware, however, that even if you have insurance on your car, you could still be on the hook for “loss of use” claims by the rental car company if you have an accident that takes the car out of service.

If you’re using a credit card protection plan, be aware that not all rentals are covered. For example, pickups and vans are often specifically excluded. The devil is in the details – don’t leave home without them. And don’t buy any coverage at the rental car counter without fully understanding the exclusions.


5. Credit card rates : 

While technically not a fee, the interest rates charged by many credit cards is outrageous. Big banks borrow from the Federal Reserve at close to zero percent, then lend money to credit card users at 15 percent. Nice work if you can get it.

Workaround : The obvious solution is to avoid interest by avoiding a balance. But if you’re going to pay interest, shop for a card with a lower rate. Another idea? Simply call your card company and ask for a better deal. Tell them you’re being solicited by other cards offering lower rates, because you probably are.

6. Foreign transaction fees: 

This is a fee charged on credit card purchases processed outside the United States; for example, when you use your card in Europe, or to buy something from a non-U.S. company. Banks that charge them typically collect 3 percent of every transaction. The implication of this insulting fee is that it’s related to the intricacies of currency conversion. But lawsuits have revealed these fees are nearly pure profit: money for nothing.

Workaround : If there’s any chance you’ll be making purchases outside the United States, use a card that doesn’t charge this fee. There are plenty to choose from: See Overseas With No Credit Card Fees.

7. Overdraft fees:

If you overdraw your account and the bank uses its money to cover your negative balance, it deserves to be compensated. But how much? According to this article at CNBC, overdraft fees average from $30 to $34 nationwide. Charging $34 for a one-week loan on the average overdraft of $36 equates to an annual rate of 5,000 percent.

Workaround: Link your savings to your checking account for overdraft protection. This might result in a transfer fee, but it will be lower than an overdraft fee.

8. Checking, loan, and other banking fees: 

Not paying interest on your checking account is bad enough. But now banks want you to pay – often upwards of $100 a year – just to have an account. Want a paper statement? Not long ago that was your only choice. Now it will cost you. Why should you pay to use an ATM, even another bank’s? You’re saving the bank money, not costing them. When you use the automated checkout at the grocery, they don’t charge a fee. Banks shouldn’t either.

Workaround: There’s no reason to get slapped around by any bank. If you hate yours, ditch it. Credit unions typically charge lower interest on loans and credit cards, pay more interest on savings, and have lower overall fees than banks. Think they don’t have enough branches? You’re probably wrong. Many credit unions belong to a shared branch network of nearly 5,000 locations that allows members of one credit union to conduct business at any other member credit union anywhere in the country – even overseas. And when it comes to finding the nearest participating credit union? Yes, there’s an app for that.


9. Resort fees: 

The concept of paying to stay at a hotel, then paying more to use on-site amenities is ridiculous. The FTC recently sent a warning letter to 22 hotels, accusing them of potentially violating the law by bumping up the prices listed on their online reservation sites with hidden fees. From their press release…

One common complaint consumers raised involved mandatory fees hotels charge for amenities such as newspapers, use of onsite exercise or pool facilities, or Internet access, sometimes referred to as ‘resort fees.’ These mandatory fees can be as high as $30 per night, a sum that could certainly affect consumer purchasing decisions. The warning letters also state that consumers often did not know they would be required to pay resort fees in addition to the quoted hotel rate.

Workaround: Before you book a reservation, find out in advance what fees you’ll be expected to pay, and if you hear something you don’t like, just say no. In 8 Tips to Save at Any Hotel – Even the Nation’s Trendiest, I suggested a tactic I’ve been using to get better hotel pricing for decades: negotiate. Explain that you’re a good customer, don’t find the fees fair, and would like a lower price. Just make sure you’re talking to a front-desk decision-maker, not an 800-number.

10. Internet service: 

When the Internet and Wi-Fi were new, perhaps it was justifiable to charge a fee to access it. These days, charging for Internet access makes as much sense as charging for the in-room TV or air conditioning. $15 a day? Give me a break.

Workaround: If you can’t find a hotel with free Wi-Fi, ask to have the fee waived when you check in. If that’s not an option, find it free elsewhere – either in the lobby or a nearby hotspot. Free apps like WeFi, available for iPhone and Android, will help you find one.

The bottom line

When I write articles that include lists and have titles starting with “10 tips” or “10 things,” it’s often tough to fill the list. But not with this article. I could have mentioned Ticketmaster, car dealers, gift cards, cell phone companies, schools, and mutual funds, and lots more.

So what do you think? Am I being too hard on these businesses? What’s the most annoying fee you’ve paid? Sound off below or on our Facebook page. It doesn’t cost a thing. ( Money Talks News )

READ MORE - Ten of the World’s Most Insulting Fees and How to Beat Them

Could Space Mirrors Stop Global Warming?

Could Space Mirrors Stop Global Warming? - The record-breaking temperatures of the past few years are getting more people thinking about bigger solutions to climate change. Ideas once thought of as wacky are now receiving careful consideration, including an idea that sounds straight out of science fiction: cooling the earth by launching reflective mirrors into space.

Lowell Wood of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory proposed a giant space mirror in the early 2000s, though he cautioned that the mirror should be considered only as a measure of last resort. Why? Because the mirror would have to have an area of 600,000 square miles – a slightly smaller area than Greenland – and launching something that big would be prohibitively expensive. Another option: billions of smaller mirrors. Roger Angel, researcher and optics expert at the University of Arizona, proposed that idea in 2006.


In either case, the mirror or mirrors would orbit at Lagrange point L1, a gravitationally stable point between the Earth and the sun that's about four times the distance from the Earth to the moon. The mirrors would barely be visible from Earth and would block just 1 percent to 2 percent of the sun's light, but that would be enough, advocates of the schemes say, to cool the planet. Even with Angel's plan, the current cost of launching a trillion mirrors would be $10,000 per pound, or, in total, 26 times more than the current U.S. national debt.

A nightmare to maintain

Another option was proposed in 2002 by space consulting firm Star Technology and Research. Star's experts calculated that a network of steerable space mirrors orbiting Earth's equator, like one of the rings of Saturn, could lower the average air temperature by up to 3 degrees Celsius (37 degrees Fahrenheit) while simultaneously generating power from onboard solar panels and beaming it to Earth.

But such an approach could generate problems. Report author and Star Technology president Jerome Pearson calculated it would take 5 million spacecraft to achieve the desired result, and even if each individual craft could last 100 years, that means 137 ships would have to be replaced or repaired per day. And the craft would produce "stars" that would be visible from the ground. (Pearson's other hypothetical proposal, a ring of reflective rocks in the same position, would light the night sky with the equivalent of 12 full moons.)

Even if a space mirror scheme was technically and financially feasible, it could result in unintended consequences, like drought. A recent study from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology added the effect of space mirrors to four climate models. In each model, the space shades lowered the average global temperature to preindustrial levels, but unevenly. The poles warmed while the tropics cooled, fewer clouds formed, and the planet received less rainfall, especially in the Americas and northern Eurasia.

A short-term solution?

Such a plan also would do nothing about ocean acidification and little about sea-level rise, since sea levels respond slowly to changes in Earth's temperature. A space mirror could offset air temperature warming until at least 2070, according to a 2010 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper, but the oceans would still rise by two feet in that time.

Aggressive carbon reductions coupled with a space reflector could limit sea level rise to one foot by 2100, and stopping it completely would require a mirror that was constantly getting larger and more efficient at blocking sunlight.

While a giant space mirror isn't currently possible with today's tools, technology is in fact catching up to science fiction, and the idea seems less outlandish than it did a decade ago. Will an enormous mirror someday be the world's last hope to stop global warming? Only time will tell. ( LiveScience.com )

READ MORE - Could Space Mirrors Stop Global Warming?