Three… two… one… GREEN!

newyears.jpgTo those of you who cringe at the holidays’ blinding consumption of precious energy, you’ll be glad to hear that the 100 year-old Times Square ball is celebrating its centennial by going green.

Almost 10,000 energy-efficient replacement bulbs will use only about 10 toasters’ worth of electricity – and they are twice as bright as the previous lights.

And that’s not all: in the spirit of collaborative content, this year you can submit a wish to a Web site and have it printed on the multicolored confetti that is released at midnight.

Maybe Marylanders will ask that the jump in sales tax scheduled for Tuesday will magically disappear?

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Couple decides to raffle Hagerstown home

How’s this for a housing slump story?

After their four-bedroom farmhouse sat on the market for a year and a half, a Hagerstown couple has decided to take a gamble: they’re selling raffle tickets in a joint effort with a local charity with the grand prize being their home.

The raffle offers five prizes, several donated by local merchants: the home to the grand prize winner; a 2008 Toyota Camry; a Persian rug; furniture; and $1,000 cash, reports the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

The winners will be drawn at an annual dinner for the San Mar Children’s Home in Boonsboro, which will receive any extra money raised through raffle sales.

The farmhouse was listed at $425,000 in 2006; it’s now valued at $390,000.

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor 

Baltimore: 27th most-literate city?

Minneapolis may have ousted Seattle to be named the nation’s most literate city this year, but Baltimore wasn’t even in the running, coming in at No. 27 in the ranking by Central Connecticut State University.

The report compared the nation’s largest cities in terms of libraries, education, newspaper readership, local publishing industry and bookstores.

Seattle was weakened this year by the online element: online newspaper readership, Internet resources in libraries and Internet book orders.

Other placements: San Francisco at No. 7; Boston at No. 10; Los Angeles at No. 53.

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor 

Now you can confess to your (financial) sins

Have you heard about Geezeo? It’s certainly gotten enough press in financial circles. The site – er, “web-based application” – allows users to aggregate all their finances in one location and set monetary goals with other users for support.

And this week, the site launched “Confessions,” a section where users can spill their guts about guilty indiscretions. For example: “I have too much credit card debt” or “I’ve got to stop buying coffee at work.”

And since the site accepts Google logins, you needn’t set up a new registration if you have a Google account.

Do you think it would help you to have community support to reach a shared retirement goal?

Would you feel safe inputting all your financial accounts into one secure site?

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Md. living wage law gets nod on top 10 public policies list

Coming in at No. 9 on Huffington Post’s The Ten Best Public Policies of 2007: Maryland’s statewide living wage law, which took effect October 1 and applies only to gov’t contractors and subcontractors.

As Andrea Batista Schlesinger writes, “For raising the standard of living for thousands of low-income workers and ensuring that public dollars don’t subsidize poverty-level jobs, the Maryland living wage law earns a place among the ‘Best of 2007.’”

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Animosity between Washington Post, Virginia bloggers?

A NoVa blogger posted over the holidays about the “simmering animosity that has been developing between the Virginia blogosphere and the Washington Post.” According to Prince William Co. blogger bvbl, WaPo is pushing sources not to talk to Virginia bloggers, threatening to cut off coverage.

The Post did launch LoudounExtra.com recently, but the site links to other area blogs run by bloggers not affiliated with the Post. They also have a “sponsored blogroll” on the bottom of the main post.com home page that links to blogs that participate in the ad sales program.

Why would WaPo do that if it felt blogs were competition?

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Is it Maryland’s responsibility to regulate emissions?

Maryland’s “clean cars” plan to cut vehicle emissions might have some obstacles to overcome if a decision from the U.S. Environmental protection agency holds up. The EPA has decided that state efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars prevent a consistent national standard for automakers to follow.

But some state officials, including many here in Maryland, say the government has been too slow to act, so it’s up to states. This argument is quite popular on the Web.

So what do you say?

Is this an arena that can be effectively regulated by states? After all, the gases that enter the atmosphere can’t be trapped by political borders.

Or do you think a state can play an effective, if symbolic, role in setting an example for the wider population?

—ANDY ROSEN, Business Writer

‘Tis the season… for passing time

More than a few desks are empty in The Daily Record’s editorial room today. I guess that short week between Christmas and New Year’s is just too perfect of a time to take vacation days.

I’m going to take a wild guess and say we’re not the only office in this state.

We’re interested in what’s going on in your office this week. Is work getting done, or are people just trying to fill the hours between the holidays? Do you have any interesting stories of office productivity – or lack thereof?

Email us at response@mddailyrecord.com and we’ll have a reporter get back to you.

JOE BACCHUS, Web Specialist

Helping Others

To those back at work — welcome back to work! To those still on holiday — I am insanely jealous! Just wanted to take a moment this morning to direct you to the first installment of our “Helping others at the holidays.”

“The holiday season is an especially appropriate time to recognize outstanding work on behalf of those in need. Starting today, The Daily Record is doing just that. This year we asked Maryland businesses and law firms that have contributed significant amounts of money, time or other support to tell us about it.”

Read and enjoy.

JOE BACCHUS, Web Specialist