Posted by: mostwanted | Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tuk Tuk USA gets DOT and EPA Approval for Rickshaws

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Upon returning from a recent trip to Thailand, friends of ours related experiences of what it’s like to travel on somewhat primitive roads in somewhat primitive vehicles. Disconcerting at first, but totally acceptable after a few trips prove that it’s (relatively) safe. The vehicles of choice in Thailand, along with a bunch of other far-away locales, are Tuk Tuks, three-wheeled machines that marry the front end of a scooter to the rear end of a passenger car. Soon, you’ll be able to get one in America.

We just got an email message from Tuk Tuk North America informing us that the company has officially been granted both DOT and EPA approval for its line of Mitsubishi-powered three-wheelers. This means that the Tuk Tuk will be completely road legal here in the United States. We’re not so sure you’d want to drive one cross-country (though we understand it’s fully capable of such trips), but as an around-town errand-runner, the little scoots might work out just fine, returning an estimated 55 miles per gallon.

The Tuk Tuk will come in many different styles, ranging from a three-passenger model up to the 12-passenger hauler. In addition to the passenger vehicles, there’s a pick-up truck, dump truck, garbage truck (!), flatbed, van and even a bare chassis for DIY projects, with prices starting at just under $10,000.

[Source: Tuk Tuk USA]

Ok I’ll be honest here, while rickshaws are cool, I don’t really care if they become a big thing here in the US or not as I and most everyone I know of owns a car to get around. So yeah, why did I post this? Simple – ’cause of the girl in the image – the cutie caught my eye and I had to post it.

Speaking of cuties, the cheerleaders from this season of IPL are incredible as well. Some of them include the Mischief Gals of the RCB team.https://i2.wp.com/www.cricinfo.com/db/PICTURES/CMS/102800/102861.2.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/www.cricinfo.com/db/PICTURES/CMS/102700/102709.2.jpg

Source: http://content.cricinfo.com/iplpage2/content/site/iplpage2/mischiefgal.html

Also wanted to get this story in but didn’t wanna post the whole thing here on my blog. So here’s an excerpt with a link to the final article! 🙂

Believe it or not, your terrifically fast Core i7 fresh off Intel’s assembly line contains DNA that dates back over three decades. The same is true if you roll with AMD’s latest silicon, the Phenom II X4. We’re of course referring to the longstanding x86 microprocessor architecture that has dominated the desktop and mobile scene since before some of you were even born, and will probably be a mainstay still yet for many more years to come.

Invented by Intel in 1978, the x86 architecture has evolved through the ages, not only getting faster, but increasingly flexible as more and more extensions and instruction sets accompany each new release. It’s been a wild ride the past 30 years, and whether you lived through it all or have only recently picked up your first processor, we invite you to join as we look back at not only the most popular x86 CPUs in its history, but ones you may never even have heard of. Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorite CPUs, chime in on the comments section and point out any omissions!

A Brief History of CPUs: 31 Awesome Years of x86

Posted by: mostwanted | Saturday, April 18, 2009

THiS iS Why I Love Honda!

Honda FC Sport Design Study Suggests Hydrogen Sports Car Future

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 19, 2008 ? Honda today revealed the Honda FC Sport design study model, a hydrogen-powered, three-seat sports car concept, at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show.

The FC Sport emphasizes the design flexibility and potential of Honda?s V Flow fuel cell technology ? already deployed in the Honda FCX Clarity sedan ? and reconfigures it into a lightweight sports car design with an ultra-low center of gravity, powerful electric motor performance and zero-emissions. The design study concept is inspired by supercar levels of performance through low weight and a high-performance, electrically driven fuel cell powertrain.

The Honda FC Sport explores how to satisfy automotive performance enthusiasts in a world beyond petroleum,? said Dan Bonawitz, vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. ?People who love sports cars will still have a reason to love in a hydrogen-powered future.?

The high-output Honda fuel cell powertrain and a sleek, aerodynamic body contribute to the vehicle?s performance potential. A modular approach to fuel cell component packaging and the electric drivetrain contribute to the FC Sport?s low center of gravity with the majority of vehicle mass distributed between the axles, creating the balanced weight distribution sought after in sports cars.

The ideal placement of the Honda V-Flow fuel cell stack and related components demonstrates the benefits of a platform-specific, hydrogen-powered fuel cell powertrain. The FC Sport is configured to accommodate a custom-formed high-power fuel cell stack, located between the rear seats, and a battery pack placed low in the middle of the vehicle. The electric motor resides just forward of the rear axle. Two fuel storage tanks, visible from above, are located above the rear axle.

The optimal placement of fuel cell components for performance also allows for a relatively large passenger cabin by conventional supercar standards with enough space for three seating positions. The interior layout focuses primarily on the driver with a racecar-like center driving position. The enclosed canopy opens upward from the rear to allow for entry and exit. Two rear passenger seats flank the driver?s left and right side.

The sleek, low-profile body is designed to convey a high-technology appearance with sculpting that combines angular shapes in the front of the vehicle that taper into geometric, hex forms in the rear. The rear hex forms house cooling radiators for the fuel cell. Formula 1-style barge boards behind the front wheels enhance high speed aerodynamics and convey the vehicle?s racing pedigree. The hydrogen storage tanks, visible from the rear deck, showcase the FC Sports fuel cell technology in much the same way that a ?naked bike? motorcycle showcases its engineering technology.

The glacier white body color conveys the FC Sport?s clean environmental aspirations while the dark wheels and deeply tinted glass provide a symbolic contrast befitting of the vehicle?s unique combination of clean power and high performance. Green construction techniques further contribute to a reduced carbon footprint. An organic, bio-structure theme is carried through to the body construction where exterior panels are intended to use plant-derived bio-plastics.

The Advanced Design Studio of Honda R&D Americas, in Pasadena, California, developed the FC Sport design study with the primary objective of using existing fuel cell technology as the basis for an ultimate Honda sports car. Designer Jason Wilbur led the design efforts.

The new FC Sport fuel based car from Honda was recently displayed at the LA Auto Show is one traffic stopper. The designers have taken into their advantage the flexibility which is extended by the fuel cell powertrain as it is placed on the back of the driver. It?s a 3-seater with the styling of sports car major McLaren F1 vehicle, where in the driver is in the middle with passenger seats on side and back. The concept car is right now under study and testing to understand the full utility of the product. Though there may be a possibility of Honda releasing a full fledged version for commercial use.

Posted by: mostwanted | Saturday, April 11, 2009

My New Computer and Widescreen LCD Monitor

Ok so I’ve been putting this of for a while now but it’s about time I made this post. I upgraded and got this kick ass new setup a few months ago when I was back home in Texas. 😀 I’m back up north in the Midwest until next month and unfortunately couldn’t bring the desktop with me for the duration. So this post maybe a work in progress with more details and specifically pics to come when I’m back home and am actually using the new system again!

Currently running smoothly on Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1.

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Anyways here are some stats on this bad boy, not bad at all for $600 (I just checked the prices and even today for all of this retails for well over $1000):

Case – Antec Mini P180 Black Steel MicroATX Mini Tower [NewEgg]

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Mobo ASUS P5E-VM HDMIhttps://i1.wp.com/usa.asus.com/999%5Cimages%5Cproducts%5C1912%5C1912_m.jpg

CPU – Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 Conroe 3.0GHz 4MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor

https://i2.wp.com/img22.imageshack.us/img22/9051/1911502802.jpgRAM – Mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) SDRAM [NewEgg]

https://i2.wp.com/img21.imageshack.us/img21/6953/2014678504.jpg

Video CardeVGA GeForce 8800 GTS (G92 Core)

https://i0.wp.com/www.evga.com/products/images/gallery/512-P3-N841-AR_MD_1.jpgMain (boot) HDD – Western Digital Raptor X WD1500AHFD 150GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 1.5Gb/s

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PSU – CORSAIR CMPSU-620HX 620W ATX12V v2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply [NewEgg]

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Cooling Thermalright Ultra-120 CPU Cooling Heatsink and Noctua NF-P12 fans – 3 installed in the case!

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Drives – 2 x LG Black SATA 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe [NewEgg]

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Wireless PCI Card – 802.11 N capability and reach/range.

—–

And this is even older news but last year I finally switched over to a LCD display after I got the Dell SP2208WFP 22 inch Widescreen Flat Panel Display with Webcam, Mic & USB ports. It has HDMI, DVI-D as well as D-Sub (VGA) for multiple and simultaneous connections, all in a sexy silver body with a glossy screen. Got it all for $300. (More details)

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Posted by: mostwanted | Thursday, April 2, 2009

What does a TRILLION $$$ look like?

All this talk about ‘stimulus packages’ and ‘bailouts’…

A billion dollars…

A hundred billion dollars…

Eight hundred billion dollars…

One TRILLION dollars…

What does that look like? I mean, these numbers are being tossed around like doggie treats, so I thought I’d take Google Sketchup out for a test drive and try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like.

We’ll start with a $100 bill. Currently the largest U.S. denomination in general circulation. Most everyone has seen them, slighty fewer have owned them. Some have lost ’em as soon as they have gotten ’em. They are, however, guaranteed to make friends wherever they go. 😉

$100

A packet of a hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2″ thick and contains $10,000. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for a week or two of shamefully, decadent fun and debauchery.

$10,000

Believe it or not, this next little pile is a million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff that into a grocery bag and walk around with it. Yeah not so impressive, right?

$1,000,000 (one million dollars)

So, while a measly $1 million looked a little unimpressive, a $100 million is a little more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet…

$100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars)

And a $1 BILLION … now we’re really getting somewhere…

$1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars)

Next we’ll look at ONE TRILLION $$$. That is the number we’ve been hearing so much about. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it’s a million x million. It’s a thousand x billion. It’s a one followed by 12 zeros to be precise.

You ready for this?

It’s pretty surprising.

Go ahead…

Ladies and gentlemen… I give you $1 TRILLION dollars

$1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion dollars)

Notice those pallets are double stacked.
…and remember those are $100 bills.

So the next time you hear someone toss around the phrase a “trillion dollars”… that’s what they’re talking about. 🙂

[Source]

* Step by step calculations & dimensions are here for those who may be interested.
* You may also be interested to see the U.S. National Debt in $100 dollar bills.

Posted by: mostwanted | Monday, January 5, 2009

Staying in Shape Helps Improve Sex

Obese men reported better sexual function after losing lots of weight in a new study, one of several to show the side benefits of slimming down.

The research involved 97 men with an average age of 48, all of whom were “morbidly obese.” The conclusions are based on the patients’ own reporting of sexual function before and again several months after gastric bypass surgery that allowed them to shed significant poundage.

“We estimate that a man who is morbidly obese has the same degree of sexual dysfunction as a non-obese man about 20 years older,” the researchers conclude.

The findings were published in December in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

While the results might make gastric bypass surgery seem attractive, the procedure is not without complications and often disappointing results. Experts suggest it only for the desperate who’ve had no luck cutting pounds through better diet and exercise. Risks range from vomiting to anemia, diarrhea and dizziness to death by respiratory failure or blood clots. Further, a patient’s system post-surgery will not absorb nutrients as effectively as it should, according to the National Institutes of Health.

At least the sex might be better.

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However, the surgery works only if the patient makes wholesale changes to diet and lifestyle. “Without changing your lifestyle, the surgery will not be a success,” the NIH states.

A smarter strategy for most people would be exercise and good nutrition.

In a 2006 study reported in the Journal of Urology, obese men who did little exercise were at 2.5 times greater risk for erectile dysfunction (ED) – certainly a showstopper behind closed doors – compared with men who were not overweight and averaged 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day.

Other research has shown that erectile dysfunction is “not a natural sign of aging,” the NIH states. Rather, it indicates poor health. “It [ED] may mean your blood vessels are clogged. It may mean you have nerve damage from diabetes,” according to the NIH.

Men as young as 20 report erection problems attributed to obesity or inactivity, one study found. Smoking has also been linked to ED.

The overall emerging point: Sex need not be a downhill slide if one can stay healthy and exercise into middle age. A survey reported in BJU International, the British journal of urology, showed that men in their 50s enjoy sex almost as much as those in their 20s.

Robert Roy Britt is the Editorial Director of Imaginova. In this column, The Water Cooler, he takes a daily look at what people are talking about in the world of science and beyond.

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No really, honestly, whodathunkit? 🙂 Lose some weight, enjoy some great sex. Pretty simple, innit! 😉

Posted by: mostwanted | Friday, December 12, 2008

Types of (Software) Testing

Suggestion Testing: Well, it works but wouldn’t it be better if…

Secession Testing: The bug is dead! Long live the (new) bug!

Poisson Testing: Alors! Regardez le poission!

Oppression Testing: Test this NOW!

Digression Testing: Well, it works, but can I tell you about my truck…

Egression Testing: Uh-oh, a bug… I’m outta here.

Congressional Testing: Are you now, or have you ever been a bug?

Confessional Testing: Ok, ok, I did program that bug.

Compression Testing: []

Expression Testing: &^%^&!(&($, a bugg, oh gnoes!

Repression Testing: It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. TTWIW (That’s The Way It Works)

Obsession Testing: I’ll find this bug if it’s the last thing I do.

Depression Testing: If this thing doesn’t work, I’m gonna kill myself.

Aggression Testing: If this doesn’t work, I’m gonna kill somebody else.

Posted by: mostwanted | Thursday, November 20, 2008

Digital Cameras: Pixels Are Like Cupcakes – Let Me Explain

IT happens to all of us: the moment when one finds out that more megapixels and better photographs aren’t always the same thing. To be disabused of the Megapixel Myth — this decade’s analog of the Megahertz Myth — can lead to an existential buyer’s crisis in miniature.

Disbelief, at first, gives way to a sort of embarrassing self-questioning: You mean, 15 megapixels isn’t three times better than 5 megapixels? This year’s model isn’t better than last year’s? I spent all that money upgrading — for nothing?

The panicky consumer is then faced with the choice of dumping digital electronics and becoming a Luddite, or learning about camera technology and taking control of purchasing decisions.

Upon pursuing this latter path, one soon realizes that all is not lost. Newer generations of digital cameras and camcorders, which almost always have more megapixels or higher resolutions, still tend to produce great output.

But there is more to a digital camera’s sensor than resolution. Understanding some of the basics may just convince you that, at least this year, buying last year’s model is a smart move.

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Focusing on the Right Numbers

In a sea of specifications, one of the most overlooked is the size, not the number, of pixels on a camera’s sensor. Bigger sensors usually mean bigger pixels, which provides some advantages when it comes to making an image.

The mechanics of this can be understood by thinking of a digital camera sensor as a flat sheet of material pocked with millions (hence “mega”) of cylindrical, cuplike pixels. In other words, picture the digital sensor as a tiny cupcake tin.

Photons (light particles) pass through a camera’s lens and are captured by the cups in the tray. Each cup is either red, green or blue (the three colors that are the building blocks for all other colors). The more photons a cup catches, the brighter that cup’s color. Totally empty cups record black; totally full cups record white.

Larger pixels (cups, remember), with larger surface areas, capture more photons per second, which in electronics-speak means a stronger signal — and in camera-speak means less noise and cleaner colors. Bigger pixels can also capture more photons per exposure without filling up, so larger pixels hold on to their color longer and don’t go white as quickly as smaller pixels.

Since sensor sizes in compact cameras haven’t gotten much bigger, but their megapixel count has, increasing the number of pixels can be accomplished only by using smaller pixels. For this reason, it’s often not worth paying extra for the newest megapixel champion, says Phil Askey, editor of dpreview.com.

“Once you get beyond seven or eight megapixels in a compact point-and-shoot camera, the small lenses are struggling to keep up,” Mr. Askey said. “And you’re cramming so many pixels in such a small sensor that noise is becoming a real issue. We started worrying about this back in 2006, but it’s only gotten worse.”

Read More…

Posted by: mostwanted | Saturday, November 8, 2008

What If Another Director made Taare Zameen Par…

With Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par appealing the masses, the actor has surely made an impressive directorial debut. The sensitivity with which he has handled the subject is worth appreciating. However, one of the forwards related to the film being sent around on emails talks about what TZP would be like if the film was made by some other Bollywood filmmakers. https://i0.wp.com/i.indiafm.com/img/feature/08/jan/tzp1.jpg

If Karan Johar made Taare Zameen Par

Obvious starcast: Shah Rukh Khan as the arts teacher (duh duh duh!!), Aryan Khan as the dyslexic child (even if he could not act for nuts), Rani Mukerjee as the kid’s mom (assuming Kajol is unavailable), Abhishek Bachchan as the kid’s dad, Amitabh Bachchan as the school principal (who cares if the role is ultra minute, he can afford it).

It would be shot in New York to appeal to the NRI audience.

The story line would obviously be different. SRK would fall for the dyslexic kid’s mom. The last scene would have the mom running to the teacher rather than the kid. And again, like in so many other movies, SRK would get someone else’s girl.

It would have one dance number.

The film would be titled ‘Kuch Taare Zameen Par

If Sanjay Leela Bhansali made Taare Zameen Par …

Obvious starcast: Salman as the teacher, Rani as the mother,

Of course the whole film would be shot on elaborate sets. The school would be nothing short of Harvard University.

An orchestra would play every time anyone cried.

Slow motion, different camera angles for every scene.

The school uniforms would match the classroom walls even though that does not make a f***ing difference.

The film would cost INR 60 crores.

If Farah Khan made Taare Zameen Par …

Obvious starcast: SRK as the teacher (yawn),

In the original TZP, Aamir makes an entry at the interval point. In Farah’s version, SRK would be on screen on for 2.30 hrs out of the 2.45 hrs and would be introduced in the first scene itself.

The story would be changed to make sure the above happened. The focus of the film would be a teacher who helps the kid fight dyslexia.

To make it a complete entertainer, there would be a romantic angle, comedy, and action thrown in. Oh idea!! Nikumbh’s character likes another teacher and the kiddo helps him… throw in some comedy moments there and you have romance and comedy settled.

For action… hmm.. lemme see.. Oh yah, the kid gets kidnapped and the teacher fights the baddies to save him. Wow!! I’m quite an imaginative writer. I can see how Farah can write a film from scratch in two weeks straight.

The film posters would have a big SRK with the tiny image of the kid in the background.

If Rakesh Roshan made Taare Zameen Par …

Obvious starcast: Hrithik Roshan as the teacher,

Since Rakesh Roshan cannot think beyond science fiction these days, this film would have that too. Instead of dyslexia, the kid would have alienositis or something, a condition induced due to him witnessing an alien abduction.

Instead of Nikumbh being an arts teacher, he would be a physics teacher, and instead of asking kids to be creative, he would ask them to challenge the science we know.

In the scene where Nikumbh asks the kids to open their minds and make whatever they want outdoors, the kid Ishaan, instead of making a boat, would end up making a working spaceship prototype.

Nikumbh would cure the kids problem by making a full fledged version of the kid’s prototype, traveling to the alien planet, and asking them to give the kid his powers back.

The film would have music by Rajesh Roshan ripped off from some world music.

The film’s name would again start with a K probably ‘Kuch Aliens Taaron Se Zameen Par’.

The director would make sure Hrithik gets to show all his abilities. This would mean a scene with Roshan Jr flexing his muscles and a dance competition in the end, instead of an arts competition.

If Priyadarshan made Taare Zameen Par …

Obvious starcast: Akshay Kumar as the teacher, Paresh Rawal as the kid’s dad.

It would be a brainless comedy. The kid’s dyslexia would be made fun of. Half the times the parents will be running after the kid from one room to the other and that, in the director’s opinion, would be funny.

The film will be full of sex jokes. So for example, when Akshay would come to the parents telling them that their son has dyslexia, the ignorant father would say something inappropriate like ‘iss umar mein? par kaise, woh to hamesha boys school mein padha hai!’. And yes, the director would think it is funny.

In the climax of the film, all the characters in the film would run around in the amphitheater for no reason, spilling colors on each other. That’s where the film will end, without any logical conclusion.

And of course, Paresh Rawal would emote like an epileptic himself, making us question the boy’s mental abilities anyway.

Via [IndiaFM aka BollywoodHungama]

Posted by: mostwanted | Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Barack Obama Casts his Ballot on this Historic 2008 Election Day

Democrat Barack Obama joined the nation’s earliest voters Tuesday as people around the nation began lining up to cast ballots in a historic election pitting Republican John McCain against the man seeking to become the first black president in U.S. history.

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“I voted,” Obama said, holding up the validation slip he was handed after turning in a ballot at his Chicago neighborhood’s precinct. Accompanying the Illinois senator for the trip from their home to the polling station were his wife, Michelle, and their two young daughters. He planned a final campaign event in nearby Indiana before speaking to a massive evening rally in Chicago.

In Delaware, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden went to the polls with his elderly mother.

McCain was expected to vote later in the morning in Arizona before taking a last-minute trek to Colorado and New Mexico.

McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, arrived in Anchorage overnight to wait for polls to open in her hometown of Wasilla. She was to return to the airport to fly to Phoenix to join McCain in time to watch results come in.

Although the path to an Electoral College triumph appeared narrow for McCain — polls showed Obama with an advantage in many of the battleground states they have contested in the campaign’s final weeks — the Arizona senator remained hopeful for a surprise victory.

“I think these battleground states have now closed up, almost all of them, and I believe there’s a good scenario where we can win,” McCain told CBS’ “The Early Show” in an interview broadcast Tuesday.

“Look, I know I’m still the underdog, I understand that,” McCain said. “You can’t imagine, you can’t imagine the excitement of an individual to be this close to the most important position in the world, and I’ll enjoy it, enjoy it. I’ll never forget it as long as I live.”

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said he was confident that new voters and young voters would fuel an enormous turnout to benefit the Illinois senator.

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“We just want to make sure people turn out,” Plouffe told “Today” on NBC. “We think we have enough votes around the country.”

Standing in line in one of the battleground states, Ahmed Bowling of Alexandria, Va., said the election “will mark a significant change in the lives of all Americans, and so we do have to come out as early as possible to cast our votes.”

In Brooklyn, N.Y., 49-year-old Venus Kevin said the line at her precinct was “already down the block and around the corner” when she arrived shortly before 6 a.m. EST.

“Obama is the man,” said Kevin, who is black. “His message and his vision has reached a lot of people, not just African-Americans.”

The contest put the 47-year-old Obama, a first-term Illinois senator who rocketed to stardom on the power of his oratory and a call for change, against the 72-year-old McCain, a 26-year lawmaker whose mettle was tested during 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

“I’m feeling kind of fired up. I’m feeling like I’m ready to go,” Obama told nearly 100,000 people gathered for his final rally Monday night in Virginia.

“At this defining moment in history, Virginia, you can give this country the change it needs,” Obama said to voters in a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential nominee in 44 years.

The Illinois senator’s final day of campaigning was bittersweet: He was mourning the loss of his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who helped raise him. She died of cancer Sunday night, never to see the results of the election.

[Source]

Rosa sat so that Martin could walk with a dream.
Martin dreamt so that Barack could run.
Barack runs so that our children can fly!

[Nice Article Here]

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OBAMA WINS!! *YAHOO*

Posted by: mostwanted | Monday, October 6, 2008

Chicago Perfect for Travelers on a Budget

CHICAGO – Chicago has a reputation as a working-class city for a reason. Sure, there are fancy Gold Coast shops and $500-a-night hotel suites, but it’s also possible to see Chicago’s famous lakefront, eat its famous food and enjoy distinctive cultures on the cheap.

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FIND YOUR WAY: Chicago’s network of buses, subways and iconic elevated trains are a steal at $2 a ride. The Chicago Transit Authority offers unlimited-ride one- to five-day visitor passes that cost between $5 and $18.

For a free ride, catch one of four color-coded trolleys that shuttle tourists to and around Chicago’s most popular destinations. It’s a useful service considering the city’s museum campus can be miles (and a $20 cab ride) from your shopping trip on Michigan Avenue. There’s also a separate Lincoln Park trolley. Schedules and maps at http://www.cityofchicago.org/Transportation/trolleys/.

For an affordable but fun way to get around, the Chicago Water Taxi travels on the Chicago River between Chinatown and the Magnificent Mile at a cost of $2 a ride, http://www.chicagowatertaxi.com.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Hotel rooms in downtown Chicago can be pricey. There are other options. Hostelling Internationalhttp://www.hichicago.org — operates an all-ages building in Chicago’s Loop with 500 beds. Prices are between $28 and $34 a night.

HOT DOGS AND PIZZA: When it comes to cheap and authentic food, try a Chicago-style hot dog — pure beef on a poppyseed bun with tomatoes, relish, pickle spear, onions and celery salt.

Hot Doug’s “The Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium” is a favorite on the city’s Northwest Side. Hot dogs are $1.75 and a Polish sausage $2.50. If you’re there on a Friday or a Saturday, don’t miss the duck-fat fries for $3.50. More at http://www.hotdougs.com/

Another option is Superdawg — http://www.superdawg.com — on Milwaukee Avenue, where you can get a hot dog with fries for $4.75. No worries if you can’t make it to one of these recommendations, there are hot dog stands all over Chicago.

Pizza, another Chicago food staple, also can be found on most neighborhood corners.

Other deals: Penny’s Noodle Shop — http://www.pennysnoodleshop.com/ — has cheap, good Thai food. The most expensive dish is $8.50. During lunch, Ronny’s Original Steakhouse in the Loop offers an 8-ounce steak, baked potato, garlic bread and salad for $6.99.

Neighborhoods: Chicago’s ethnic neighborhoods offer lots of food deals. If you’re in Greektown or Chinatown you can feast for a few dollars on gyros and egg rolls; Indian and Pakistani fare is plentiful on Devon Avenue, on the city’s North Side.

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GREAT OUTDOORS: Start the day with a stroll down Chicago’s lakefront trail. The strip runs from the far South Side to trendy neighborhoods on the North Side, with a great view of Lake Michigan and the skyline. A tourist favorite is Oak Street Beach for its downtown vista.

The crown jewels of Chicago’s lakefront are Grant Park and Millennium Park. Grant Park has free concerts, classes, outdoor movies and festivals. Millennium Park is home to Crown Fountain.

Admission to Lincoln Park Zoohttp://www.lpzoo.org/ — is free and it’s open year-round, even offering ZooLights displays during the holiday season. Plant lovers will want to visit the free Garfield Park or Lincoln Park conservatories.

CATCH THE VIEW FOR LESS: It costs between $15 and $25 for an adult to enjoy the view of Chicago from the John Hancock building‘s observation deck. But here’s the local trick: Take the elevator to the Signature Room restaurant on the 95th floor and for the cost of a drink you can take in the skyline. It’s cheaper than the Sears Tower Skydeck, which costs from $12.95 to $25 for adults, plus you get a drink, http://www.signatureroom.com/.

CULTURE: Chicago’s museums can make for a pricey day with entrance fees nearing $30 for some attractions. But most offer free-admission days — the Chicago Children’s Museum offers free Thursday nights and the Art Institute is free on Thursday and Friday nights. Check the museums’ Web sites.

Some other Chicago museums are always free, including Navy Pier’s stained glass displays and the National Museum of Mexican Art in the largely Hispanic neighborhood of Pilsen.

THEATER: Chicago’s burgeoning theater district offers everything from glitzy musicals to independent dramas. Find day-of discounts at http://www.hottix.org/

WALK THE CITY: Chicago is a diverse city teeming with different ethnic groups. Grab a map to discover African-American, Indian, Irish, Italian, Polish, Greek, Chinese, even yuppie, cultures with a self-guided walking tour.

If Chicago Blues is your interest or Millennium Park caught your eye, the city provides free audio tours of both in five languages for download to your iPod or MP3 player at http://www.downloadchicagotours.com/.

VISIT DURING THE WINTER: The city offers a Winter Delights program that features special hotel rates, shopping and dining deals and hospitality packages. The deals run from Thanksgiving through New Years.

OTHER DEALS: Be sure to visit the Chicago Office of Tourism‘s special values Web site for printable coupons at http://www.chicagoofficeoftourism.org/specialValues/

The Go Chicago discount card — http://www.gochicagocard.com — can be a deal if you’re planning to hit several of the city’s tourist spots.

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