I made the trek to the Apple Store at Washington Square shopping center and came home with a wireless keyboard. I also came home with a couple suggestions for a better word processor than the Apple Pages.

I purchased “Documents to Go Premium” office suite that allows creation and editing of documents in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Settings allow files to be synced with either a desk computer or an off-site cloud storage location.

The customer ratings and reviews were mostly favorable with 3 out of 5 stars from 396 ratings. The cost of this app was $14.99 and that’s a heck of a lot cheaper that Microsoft’s equivalent programs for the desktop.

We’ll see how it works.

What do you do when you have a $1,200 Toshiba laptop that mostly sits idle? Why you acquire an Apple iPad. Yes, I did it a couple weeks ago.

I love the iPad. I am using it regularly in a productive (for me) way. I have had an iPod for about a year and, while it has some nice features, I have not been using it to its fullest. It’s really too small in size for practical use for me. The iPad is different. It has great applications, it is sized for easier use, and just works really well.

I upgraded from the basic model to the 32GB size plus the 3G. It comes with Wi-Fi built in including Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology. To use the 3G you must pay AT&T $14.99 to $25 a month with no contract required. I am not doing this yet, but I can see myself using this in the not too distant future.

The battery life is great. Right now the battery percentage shows as 56% (shown in the upper right of the screen) and I could do 2-4 more hours of work before a recharge is needed. Different from the iPod (or similar models) recharging does not occur when it is attached to your base computer for syncing. It charges like a laptop, directly to an AC source.

I have been searching for appropriate Apps for me. Some of the Apps I have acquired are: The CalenGoo calendar that syncs with my Google calendar on my base computer as well as my iPod; Pages word processor; Atomic Web browser (nearly as good as Foxfire and several steps up from Safari that comes with the unit); Amazon.com Kindle App that works just like the stand alone Kindle; and Wolfram (look it up on-line if you are not familiar with this).

Several of the Apps I have on my iPod transferred (synced) to the iPad and work just fine. Some don’t work so well. The most expensive App I have is iBird PRO and it moved to the iPad nicely, but it would be great if the vendor could come out with one specifically for the iPad.

All my music synced nicely, and the speakers in the iPad are not bad. Of course you can use earphones for listening.

It has been a bit of a challenge to learn to use the iPad efficiently; and will continue to be a learning experience. Soon I will be getting the wireless keyboard so make word processing and editing duties much more efficient.

If you want a hands on experience before going ahead with a purchase, find your nearest Apple Store. They are sure to have some you can test drive.

While waiting at my bank the other day (they were counting a jar of coins) I picked up a 4-page paper setting next to my chair. The bank is West Coast Bank and the “Economic Forecast” was by William B. Conerly, Ph.D. of Conerly Consulting LLC. The date of the paper was January/February 2010.

I have only a limited understanding of economics, although I did take a year of it while in college ever so long ago. One thing that caught my eye was the comparison of the value of the U.S. dollar side by side with the Oregon and Washington employment forecasts. As the employment numbers rose in the period 2006 into 2008, the value of the U.S. dollar dropped. When employment dropped in 2008 through 2009, the value rose; but then dropped again in the second half of 2009.

The forecast is that both Oregon and Washington employments have bottomed out as of the beginning of 2010 and will rise throughout this year (2010).

The second item that caught my eye was that the 10th largest Pacific Northwest Trading Partner is United Arab Emirates (UAE). It only took me a minute to grasp that this must be because they must have purchased a bunch of Boeing aircraft. A quick look through Google and I came upon this statement on a Boeing website: Emirates, one of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) main airlines, is the largest operator of Boeing’s 777. UAE has also ordered Boeing 6 C-17 cargo aircraft.

Let’s keep that oil money flowing back into our United States industries.

Mr. Conerly has quite a bit of information available on his site which you can get to HERE.

The Kingston Fossil Plant, part of the Tennessee Valley Authority, is proud of its record in reducing certain emissions at this coal fired plant as expressed in their website. Yet, and a big yet, they have not reduced the emissions of CO2, that greenhouse gas that is the main culprit in global warming. Overall, in 2008, the plant produced 9,409,452 pounds of toxics as stated in their “Toxic Release Inventory.” This figure does not include the approximately 22,000,000 pounds of Carbon dioxide released. It also appears that the 20,000 pounds of Nitrogen oxides and 100,000 pounds of Sulfur dioxide are not included in the toxic release inventory.

There is an infrastructure in this country that supports the use of massive amounts of coal as the fuel source for much of our electrical generation. This is not going to change anytime soon. Yet for every bit of coal that is burned, we put toxics and other chemicals into our air, ground, and water. Yes, the coal industry is doing much to mitigate this problem; but the fact remains that these toxics and chemicals, even if properly sequestered, are still admitted into our environment.

The long-term solution is to leave the coal in the ground and find other non-hazardous methods of energy production. Solar and wind are the best long-term solutions we have right now. Nuclear fission is not the long-term solution. However, if nuclear fusion comes into play, it may become a viable option.

Once a solar generating site has been set up, train-loads of coal need not be shipped to it. Here is a link to a Google map image of 2 such locations a few miles east of Barstow, California.

Certainly there are maintenance costs associated with all generating costs; but solar and wind plants emit no toxic chemicals or CO2.

Think “Photovoltaic.” That’s direct conversion of solar energy to electrical energy. Pioneering relativity theorist Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize in 1921 – but not for his famous theories of relativity and the iconic equation E=mc2. The prize was for his 1905 discovery of exactly how light caused what was then called the photoelectric effect (photovoltaics). This is the wave of the future, and the sooner we jump on that bandwagon, the sooner we get away from relying on coal.

I’m sorry Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and all the other states that dig coal. Start building plants to manufacture solar panels and wind generators. That’s the future.

My oh My! I got the Oregon Voters’ Pamphlet in the mail today. There are around 75 pages of arguments for and against the measures. I was driving in rural Yamhill County yesterday and saw several signs in opposition to the measures. Elsewhere I have seen signs and statements for and against.

I will have to make up my mind on these; and hopefully it will be an informed decision.

If we are to have any level of government we need taxes to support it. Where are the moneys to come from and how much do we need? This is an eternal question. I hope that all voters will take a dispassionate approach to this important matter. Sewers, roads, schools, police, social services, building inspections, prisons, and so on, and so on; all supported by taxes. Once again: how much and from where does it come.

Become informed and vote.

At the time I wrote my previous blog posting on this subject, I also wrote a letter to Mr. Bob Hermann who is the Washington County Oregon District Attorney. Please refer to my Previous Blog Entry for the links to the Willamette Week and OregonBlue articles.

Let me quote three items from Mr. Hermann’s response to my letter to him:

“Unfortunately the information reported by Ms. Axtman and the Willamette Week is inaccurate in some critical areas.” “Additionally the charges the grand jury issued were not reported fully or at all.” And: Ms. Aguilar-Gutierrez was arrested for reckless driving and causing injury to a child, subsequently charged by the grand jury for those same reasons. That part of the ‘facts’ were not reported.”

I should have held my tongue until I had my response from Mr. Hermann. I should have realized that the grand jury would not have agreed on the charges without a strong case from the DA’s office.

Because this incident involves a minor and because the case is open pending trial, Mr. Hermann could not comment fully on all the circumstances. But after reading his letter, I can see that the DA’s office is proceeding properly and within the law.

In my working years (I am now retired) I worked in the insurance industry for 15 years with about 5 of those years actively handling or reviewing accident claims. In all those years I can recall no criminal charges arising out of an automobile accident claim processed by me or that I handled unless there were extenuating circumstances such as drunk driving. The public’s attitude on these matters seems to be changing. Beyond simple negligence, if you are overly reckless in your driving habits and cause injury to another person, particularly a minor, you may be charged with a criminal offence.

I have learned a lesson here. Make sure I have all the facts before I lash out.

The 2009 traffic fatalities statistics will not be out until the middle of 2010. These are issued by FARS, Fatality Analysis Reporting System, of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. So please allow me to review some of the statistics from 2008.

The total traffic fatalities in the United States during 2008 were 37,261 which was a reduction of 3,998 over the previous year. This represents the lowest traffic deaths in the past 15 years. Each year over that same 15 year period the fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled has dropped from 1.73 to 1.27.

The only category that showed a significant rise in fatalities was motorcyclists.

The top link at the Blogroll on right in this blog gets you to these statistics.

I speculate that there are 2 major reasons for the overall reductions. The first is that cars are safer. More people are driving newer and safer cars and more occupants are using their seatbelts. The second reason is that the drunk-driving laws are being more heavily enforced.

Be safe out there. If you have not taken a defensive driving course in some time (5-10 years) find one and take it. Senior Citizen centers offer them, often for free or a very low price. You can always learn something at one of these courses. About 2 years ago I took the one offered at my local Senior Citizen center. It was a great refresher for me. I did make a couple changes in my habits because of what I learned in the course.

Did I say: Be safe out there? If you think the other driver will do something stupid to put you in jeopardy, he or she probably will. Not every time, but often enough to be a potential crash.