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9:00 AM EST Tuesday, April 15, 2008: Murphys' Law strikes again. My taxes for 2007 are horrendous. So apparently are everyone else's. My friends are freaking. I answer, "But you made the money." They answer, "Yeah, but we've lost it all in 2008."

On behalf of Uncle Sam, I apologize.

I'm getting increasingly worried about the economy as inflation skyrockets (oil -- at $113 -- and food -- riots overseas). There is talk now of retailing chains caught in a wave of bankruptcies -- see this morning's New York Times. What really worries me is that wages aren't expanding. The average U.S. household income in 2000 was $61,000. By 2007 it had fallen to $60,500. The consumer is 70% of our economy. Lower wages and higher living costs are putting the consumer in an awful vice, decimating discretionary income. Late last week consumer sentiment numbers came in as the worst in 25 years. That's worse than post 9/11 and post the 1987 market crash.

Cash remains king. I expect another big drop in housing prices and the stockmarket. Big bargains soon. Not yet. Better to be wrong and out, than wrong and in.

The Kanzius Machine: A Cancer Cure? From this weekend's 60 Minutes:

What if we told you that a guy with no background in science or medicine -- not even a college degree -- has come up with what may be one of the most promising breakthroughs in cancer research in years? Well it's true, and if you think it sounds improbable, consider this: he did it with his wife's pie pans and hot dogs. His name is John Kanzius, and he's a former businessman and radio technician who built a radio wave machine that has cancer researchers so enthusiastic about its potential they're pouring money and effort into testing it out.

For more, click on the 60 Minutes video on cbsnewsvideo. You must use Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

June 30 marks the end of Windows XP:
Some customers and partners had been hoping the company might extend again the deadline for all PC makers to be allowed to preload Windows XP, rather than Windows Vista, on new PCs. But yesterday, Microsoft said the current June 30, 2008 cutoff date would remain in place for the vast majority of machines. The one new exception, as some were anticipating, are Ultra Low-cost PCs (ULPCs), which Microsoft defines as systems like the Asus Eee and Intel Classmate — significantly more restricted hardware with less expensive processors and more limited graphics capabilities. ULPCs should not be confused with the higher-priced and more robust UMPCs, or Ultra-Mobile PCs (a k a “Origami” devices); Microsoft is continuing to encourage UMPC makers to build their systems around Vista. Microsoft is nuts.

Personally I thoroughly dislike Vista and will not use it. So, now is the time to look around for a new laptop. I've been looking at Lenovo's ultra-light X61 series. My son took a X61s to business school and loves it. It's been super-reliable. I'm more interested in the X61, which has one major plus over the X61s: It's hugely faster; You can get a 2.4 GHz processor in it, versus only a 1.2 GHz chip in the X61s. On the other hand, the X61 is slightly heavier -- about three ounces. In all other respects, they're identical. They both are available with Windows XP. And they're both incredibly light -- about three pounds. I believe they're the perfect travel laptop.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X61 and X61s.

Much cheaper on the Internet: Why shop retail? Everything seems to be cheaper on the Internet. Well nearly everything. Recent "finds" include cordless phone batteries (a quarter the price at Radio Shacks) and light bulbs of all ilk (about a fifth the price at our local hardware store).

Take your business onto the Internet: I haven't tried it but the computer magazines are raving about Microsoft Office Live Small Business. It's an easy, cheap way to get your business selling your stuff on the Internet. The only other competitor is Yahoo! Small Business. Microsoft's service is actually free, to begin.

Useful household tips (I kid you not)
+ Peel a banana from the bottom and you won't have to pick the little "stringy things" off of it.

+ Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.

+ Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!

+ Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.

+ To make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.

+ To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

+ Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car. When the windows fog, rub with the eraser!

+ If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Viola! It unseals easily.

+ Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it "home," can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

+ The heating unit went out on my dryer. The repair man pulled the lint filter out. It was clean. He took the filter over to the sink, ran hot water over it. The hot water sat on top of the mesh. He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh. That's what burns out the heating unit. You can't SEE the film, but it's there. He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush. Your dryer will last twice as long!

This is truly sick (but it amuses)
A man kills a deer and takes it home to cook for dinner.

Both he and his wife decide that they won't tell the kids what kind of meat it is, but will give them a clue and let them guess.

The kids were eager to know what the meat was on their plates, so they begged their dad for the clue.

Well, he said, "It's what mommy calls me sometimes."

The little girl screams to her brother "Don't eat it, it's an asshole."

This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address is . You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing the Google ads on this site. Thus I cannot endorse, though some look interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Michael's business school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.

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