Monday, August 31, 2015

The Stock Exchange: A Mini-Tutorial

Do you ever see this on the nightly news?

Here is a typical end-of-day scene: Someone, or a group of people, is invited to bang the gavel or sound the closing bell at the end of a day of trading, which is 4:00 p.m. New York time. Not sure why they clap, but it would be nice if we all got a nice round of applause at the end of our work days....

 ***Please tell me you watch the news at least sometimes!!??

In its most basic form, the Stock Market is a group of people and businesses, buyers and sellers, who are buying parts of  businesses and selling them to make money. Here's an example: Let's say you think McDonald's is a good business and is likely to keep making money as long as people want burgers, fries, and McFlurries. So you buy 10 shares of McDonald's stock (you are 'sharing' ownership of it). They cost about $97.00 these days, so you have invested $970 in that company.

Other people share your confidence and buy McDonald's stock, too. You watch it every day, because the price fluctuates (goes up and down) for whatever the reason. After six months, you decide you want to sell it because it has now gone up to $157 a share, so you have made a profit of $60 x 10 shares, or $600. Depending on the situation, your profit may have also been invested in more shares or in other stocks, so your profit might even be more. That is how you make money on the stock market.
  • Confused? Stocks and Shares are the same thing.

On the other hand, your stock may drop in value and you can lose money. Your decision is when to buy more and when to sell what you have. Do you wait and see if the price goes higher, or not? Sometimes you may hear "Buy low, sell high." That means buy when the prices are low so you can buy more, and then sell it when the prices get higher, so you make more profit. Some people are good at looking at new businesses and determining that they will grow swiftly, so they invest a lot of money when the stock isn't very expensive, wait, and then make a good profit after a period of time. The usual plan is to buy stock and just let it do whatever it does for several years, before you sell and make the best profit.

Here you see the price of McDonald's stock going from under $40 in 2005, to over $90 in 2011. If you had invested at $40, and kept that stock, your profit would be over 100%. Notice how the price goes up and down many times over the years.
  • Every major country has a stock exchange.
  • The money being traded worldwide is about $55 trillion.
  • 34% of all trading is done by the United States, followed by Japan at 6% and The United Kingdom also at 6%.
  • The NYSE is a building
  • The NASDAQ is online trading.
  • It was originally called the Stock Exchange because the trading was for stock such as livestock or farm products.

Have you heard about the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression? Read about it here (History Channel):

Why did this affect the whole country? Why were so many people out of work? Most of them (and us, to this day) are not investors in the stock market, so how did that happen? Because it has a 'ripple' effect: If companies go out of business, people lose their jobs. People can't find new jobs, and become poor. Ergo, the Great Depression.
What makes the Stock Market 'crash'?
Several reasons, including
  • Economic
  • Financial-the amount of money people are investing fluctuates
  • Disasters-an earthquake could upset many businesses and have a 'ripple' effect throughout a country, as one example.
  • Politics - if a country's leaders are perceived to make a country unstable, there may be doubt as to the economy of  that country; or if there is unrest in a region, people might not want to invest in companies that do business there.
Here's a tour of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) by a broker, someone who sells stocks:

Why do they sometimes refer to a Bull Market or a Bear Market?

These two terms were originally used because:
A bull attacks by putting its head down and coming at you with its horns 'Up.'

A bear attacks by swiping 'Down' with its paws.

So, prices are 'up' and things are looking 'up' in a Bull Market; prices 'down' in a Bear Market.

Find out more on the Stock Exchange here:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Who Wants This Year To Be Different?? (You can raise your hand if you want)

Who wants to have a better year this year, the best ever??
Do you?
Here's a Top Ten Suggestion List to Tell Yourself:

10. I'm going to get enough sleep more often than not.
(I would tell you to shoot for every night, but let's be real).

9.  I'm going to get everything ready the night before and be on time every morning....welllll many mornings as I possibly can...

8. I'm going to eat more good foods and less junk.
More granola bars and fruit, less candy and Cheetos.

7.  I'm going to make at least 2 new friends this year.
Not on social media....actual friends...And I'm going to start the first day of school by talking to someone I never met before.
6.  I'm going to study first and play later.
I always say I'm going to; this year, I am.
5.  I'm going to ask one teacher about his or her life outside of class, so that I remember they are people, too.

4.  I'm going to do someone a favor or a chore without being asked, at least once a week. And I'm not going to expect anything in return.
3.  I'm going to read a book for each season, at least, and then talk to friends about it. (Start looking for your Fall book ASAP!)

2.  I'm going to cook supper, or learn to cook one thing, and make it for supper, either by having someone show me, or following a recipe. And I will clean up afterwards.

and the #1 thing I am going to do this year (OK so there are several sub-sections):

I am going to treat myself the same as I would treat my best friend.
  • I will be less critical of myself, because I'm doing the best I can.
  • I will take care of my health and speak up if I need help.
  • I will give myself the gift of solitude once in a while to clear my thoughts.
  • I will stop being worried if I don't have a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • I will not judge people.
  • I will remind myself that lots of people care about me, even when I'm having the world's worst day                          


  • I will keep my eye on my goals and keep working at them.
  • I will let go of yesterday, because I can't do anything else about it.
  • At the end of every day I will remember at least one good thing that happened, and smile.
  • I will remember that overall, life is good.
 Now get out there and make this year better!! You can do it!!

Monday, August 17, 2015

State Fair!!!

It seems that you're either a "State Fair Person" or not....there are lots of reasons people like the State Fair, and lots of reasons why they don't. You might enjoy all the displays, the rides, the shows, and the people-watching......or you may find it's too much walking, it's usually hot weather, and you can never remember where you parked the car. Anyway, if you have never experienced it, here are some facts about the Minnesota State Fair:

It started in 1854 as a Territorial Fair, because (10 points if you already knew this) Minnesota was not a state until 1858.  In 1859 it was officially named the Minnesota State Fair.

It is always held on the 12 days leading up to and after Labor Day. This year's fair will run from August 27 through September 7, 2015.
                       The Giant Slide at the State Fair.


The State Fair employs about 80 fulltime year-round employees. 300 are hired to work as seasonal help and 2500 work at the fair only.

The Fair is run as 'almost' a separate entity from the State of Minnesota and is run by the State Agricultural Society. The Society represents all 87 county fairs in the state.

Did you know there is a K-12 Competition (for Kindergarten through Grade 12)? You can enter artwork, sewing, jewelry, or writing projects. There is also a Technology Education division where people enter architectural drawings, photograpy items, welding projects, woodworking, CO-2 cars and solar powered boats.
Photo of art competition in the Education Building

And of course there are the traditional adult competitions. You can win a ribbon or a prize for excellence in these categories:
  • Needlecraft---Quilts and hand stitching
  • Garment making
  • Handcrafts, including things made from wood or metal, models, and dolls
  • Collections, such as stamps or post cards
  • Baked goods, like cakes, cookies, pies
  • Canning
Colorful canning entries of jellies and jams

On August 30, as it does every year, the State Fair will sponsor the annual 5K Milk Run, from the St Paul campus of the University of Minnesota through St Anthony Park.

There will be Celebrity Agri-Lympics with local celebrities trying their skills at:
  • Hand-milking cows
  • Animal Calling
  • Wool Packing
  • Butter carving

Princess Kay of the Milky Way is selected before the beginning of the fair.(She is rarely actually named Kay). This young lady will come from a background where she has knowledge of the dairy farming industry and will serve as a goodwill ambassador for them during her year's reign.

One of the quirky displays at the fair is the butter sculpture of Princess Kay. She will sit in a refrigerated booth surrounded by glass while the sculptor works, and visitors can watch the sculpture in progress. It is created from a 90 pound block of butter from a farm in New Ulm. It takes between six and eight hours to complete, and at the end of the fair, the princess can take the butter home with her.

This is last year's Princess Kay, Jeni Haler (ironically, from Carver County) and her butter sculpture:

What are Pinto, Arabian, Draft, Paint, and Appaloosa?

They are types of horses, and you can see them being handled at the State Fair as well. Horse competitions called 'Dressage' take place every year at the Minnesota State Fair.

Here is a list of trivia questions for you:

And the State Fair website for more information about what to see, what to do, where to eat, and what entertainment is available at our Great State Get-Together...

Monday, August 10, 2015

Be Brave, You'll Get A Sticker

This is a reminder that you have to have proof of vaccinations before you can enroll at most colleges, sometimes even at high schools. You need to find a paper (probably with doctor or nurse signatures) that shows you are up-to-date with your vaccinations. Your parents might have a baby book where they placed your vaccination records. If you can't find it at home, contact the doctor or clinic you received them from. *Tip: Once you have that document, make copies and keep them somewhere you can get your hands on them easily. Maybe with your FAFSA papers??

Did you know you need booster shots even though you had them as a baby? Yep. Here's a chart showing what shots you should have already had and what you need as a young adult:

On the bottom half of the chart, see where you should have had some additional vaccinations when you were about Middle School age, and what you should have when you are high school age.

The ones recommended for those of you entering college include:
  • Booster Tdap (you had them as children but you need a booster)
  • HPV series (this is three shots/doses, spaced 6 weeks apart)
  • MCV4 (this is for Spinal Meningitis)

What do the letters mean?
  • TDAP: Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
  • HEPA: Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that sometimes cannot be cured
  • HPV: Human Papilloma Virus--a sexually transmitted disease. Both males and females should be vaccinated for HPV, even if they are not sexually active.
  • MCV4: Meningitis Conjugate Vaccine 4: For some reason, meningitis crops up in college students more frequently than the general population. This is an inflammation of the spinal cord and brain. Serious stuff.
  • MMR: Measles, Mumps, Rubella-sometimes there are outbreaks of measles in colleges also.
  • Varicella: The Chicken Pox vaccine. 
  • Pneumococcal Conjugate: For pneumonia, an infection of the lungs

Don't forget also to get a flu shot, if your doctor recommends one.
*Tip: If you plan on traveling to study or for a vacation, be aware that other vaccines may be recommended to protect you in other countries as well.

What is a vaccination? Note: The term "immunization" has the same meaning.  Usually, it's a tiny bit of the disease germ that's either very weak or dead, injected into the body, which produces antibodies to fight off the 'intruder.' This gives you immunity to the disease should it be introduced to your body in the future. Sometimes you only need one immunization, sometimes you need a booster to 'remind' your body how to fight it off. The other way to gain immunity is to actually have the disease--but preventing it with a vaccination is much safer.

Did you know that in the 1860s, the death rate for children under the age of 5 was 18%? So for every 100 babies born, 18 would die before they reached the age of 5, and while some of the deaths were from accidents, such as getting to close to a fire and being burned, injuries with farm equipment, weather, poor diet, or farming accidents, many of them were due to infectious diseases that we now have vaccines for, including tuberculosis and smallpox. The death rate now for children under age 5 is .06%. A huge, huge improvement.

However, in some countries, the death rate is still far too high because they don't have access to the vaccinations they need.

The smallpox vaccine did such a good job of eliminating the disease that the vaccination hasn't been required since 1972. If you see someone with a little scar like this, it's from a smallpox vaccination. It was applied with a series of little needle sticks that worked the vaccine into the skin in a circular motion. It was done frequently on the arm, sometimes the hip:

Read about some of the diseases and their symptoms:

People talk about what it's like to suffer from Chicken Pox, HPV that turned cancerous, even flu that became deadly:

Here is the National Center for Disease Control's website for more information:

Be sure you are up-to-date with your vaccinations. If not, call your doctor today and set up an appointment to get your shots!! You might get a cool bandaid or a sticker!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Revisit: Top Ten Reasons Not To Text While Driving

The fine for distracted driving has been raised to $200. Not enough to make you stop texting and using the phone while you're driving??? OK.......... What about:

10. Your knees are actually not the best appendages to use for steering.

9. How can you talk to your dog (who's riding shotgun) when you're texting someone?

8. When you get slammed into, it might ruin your phone. And your nails and your outfit and your brain.

7. While you're trying to position the screen to avoid the sun's glare, you might miss that train approaching.

6. Laughing at auto-correct might make you laugh until you wet yourself.

5. You don't need to know you missed an incoming text to tell you your friend is currently standing in line at the DMV while chewing gum and texting you.

4. The phone doesn't realize that you only get one lane to drive in-nor does your car.

3. Woo-Hoo---you got the little alert that you have received a text. You DO NOT need to look at it right this minute. It will still be there when you have reached your destination.

2. There is just something wrong about texting someone who is sitting in the back seat of your car.

And the #1 reason not to text while driving:

Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field, at 55 mph, blind.
Talking on a cell phone while driving can make a young driver’s reaction time as slow as that of a 70-year-old.
About 2600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in car accidents were attributed to texting and driving last year.
4 out of every 5 accidents (80%) are attributed to distracted drivers. In contrast, drunk drivers account for roughly 1 out of 3 (33%) of all accidents nationally. Please do not do either!
Almost 50% of all drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are texting while driving. And there are plenty of drivers older than that who are texting and driving as well.
According to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, drivers talking on cell phones are 18% slower to react to brake lights. They also take 17% longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked.
Check this out at the government Dept. of Transportation website about distracted driving:

More about It Can Wait:

Still not convinced that being distracted while operating a 2000 pound weapon is a bad idea? Read these:

What will it take to make you stop?