CORNY IDEA: The National Corn-To-Ethanol Research Center
has been experimenting with barley, corn stover and even candy corn as possible sources of ethanol. Above, Stephanie Regagnon, director of commercialization at the center, last week held a bottle of candy corn at the American Coalition for Ethanol's "Fueling Revolution" trade show, in Omaha, Neb.
Problem sleeper? Join the club
Can't sleep? Welcome to the 3 a.m. club.
A survey in the September issue of Consumer Reports found that 44 percent of U.S. adults are what the magazine calls "problem sleepers." That means, for at least eight nights out of the month, they toss and turn before finally drifting off, wake up in the middle of the night, or get up before planned.
Almost one-fifth of those surveyed use drugs to counteract sleeplessness at least once a week, and 24 percent of those said they had sleep-medication dependency problems. Sleeping pills are normally not recommended for regular use for more than two weeks, but the magazine found that 38 percent of those who had taken a sleep aid in the past month said they had been doing so for more than two years.
The most common cause of sleeplessness was stress. Respondents said they worried about family, money, health and their jobs.
The survey, conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center in April, randomly recruited 1,466 U.S. adults by telephone for the online survey.
Car group agrees with Obama
Barack Obama got ribbed by John McCain when he advised drivers to fill their tires with the appropriate air pressure, but the Car Care Council, a nonprofit funded by an auto trade group, agrees with the Democrat.
Car maintenance, the group says, can do a lot for your fuel economy.
Car Care recommends the following steps from fueleconomy.gov, the Web site of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to save money:
» Once a month, check that your tires are properly inflated. Gas savings: up to 12 cents a gallon. Boost in fuel economy: up to 3 percent.
» Replace clogged, dirty air filters. Check them every 3,000 miles. Gas savings: up to 40 cents a gallon. Boost in fuel economy: up to 10 percent.
» Use the right grade of motor oil, and change it regularly. Gas savings: less than a penny a gallon. Boost in fuel economy: 1 to 2 percent.
» Tune up your engine, about once every 30,000 to 100,000 miles, depending on the car. Gas savings: 16 cents a gallon. Boost in fuel economy: 4 percent. Taking care of a serious problem, like a bad oxygen sensor, can greatly improve your gas mileage, sometimes by as much as 40 percent.
The savings are based on $3.96 a gallon gas.
The Car Care Council also recommends keeping your gas cap on tight and replacing spark plugs during tuneups.
Getting cut can lead to rebirth
So you got downsized. It's happening a lot this year - 579,260 job cuts reported so far, according to outplacement consultants Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc.
- but experts say you shouldn't see it as career death. In fact, it can be a rebirth.
"A majority of people end up telling you it's the best thing that ever happened to them," said Marc Cenedella, CEO of jobs site TheLadders.com.
How to get beyond the trauma:
» Get rid of the negativity. Write an angry letter to your boss, then rip it up. Take a week of vacation. Get relaxed and refreshed so you can be positive in interviews later.
» Make a plan. Interested in a new field? Here's your chance. Investigate retraining programs, take classes.
» Update your resume. Cenedella advises seeking out a professional resume writer. Work on talking up your achievements in the past.
» Network, network, network.
"Over 50 percent of the jobs out there are found through networking," Santora said.
Reach out to friends, family, former colleagues. Use online sites like LinkedIn.com. Call up trusted recruiters.
» An interview is not a chat with friends, said Cenedella. Remember to sell yourself hard and be aggressively positive about past work experiences and achievements.