Wednesday, November 29, 2006

World AIDS Day - Friday, Dec. 1, 2006

World AIDS Day, originally conceived at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention, occurs this year on Friday, Dec. 1. A wide variety of activities including a documentary, videoconference, posters, panel discussion, and concert will raise awareness on the Rice University campus. On the national level the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has free World Aids Day posters, English/Spanish fact sheets, and a listing of events by state. Internationally the World Aids Campaign (WAC) Web site contains worldwide events, resources, and media materials plus messages from dignitaries representing countries around the world.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

New Service - USPTO and EPO

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) have announced plans to launch a new free service in January 2007 that will allow electronic exchange of patent application priority documents. This service will help applicants who file in more than one country by allowing them to claim "an earlier application filing date in one patent office based on a prior filing in another."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Name That Turkey

Just when you thought we'd posted our last voting blog for the season... There are only five days left to vote on the names for the National Thanksgiving Turkey and alternate! Your choices are:

Ben and Franklin
Plymouth and Rock
Washington and Lincoln
Corn and Copia
Flyer and Fryer has an excellent listing of Thanksgiving resources including travel advice, recipes and cooking tips, and ideas for Thanksgiving activities. Have a safe and happy holiday!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Holiday Travel - Be Informed!

If you are traveling during the holiday season, access these links to make your trip easier.

To find out about traffic conditions in Houston including road closures and construction and speed reports, view Houston Transtar. For Texas statewide road conditions visit the Texas Department of Transportation Travel site.

If you are traveling by air, check out the "live updates" section of Avoid Delays to see if a particular airport is experiencing delays. If you plan to take carry-on luggage, read the requirements on the TSA site. Access the Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection Division's latest report to find out if your airline has a reputation for flight delays, mishandled baggage, oversales, or consumer complaints.

If you are traveling overseas, it's a good idea to read Tips for Traveling Abroad and A Safe Trip Abroad first. If you plan to drive a car in a foreign country, in addition to your driver's license you may need an International Drivers Permit (IDP) available from a local office of the American Automobile Association. Check with the consular office in the country you are visiting to find out if the IDP is required. To locate that office, call the Federal Information toll-free line at 1 (800) FED INFO. For precautions about driving abroad or riding a train, see the State Department's article "Traveling by Train and Driving Abroad." If you are going to an area of the world experiencing political unrest, access the State Department's Travel Warnings and
Consular Information Sheets
. To view the recommended immunizations for visiting a particular country, acess the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Travel Information Page. If you have passport questions, visit the State Department's Passport page. See details about the new electronic passport. For questions about what you can bring back with you, access the
U.S. Customs and Border Protection site.

Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Senate Democrats Announce Leadership

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced incoming leadership for the 110th Congress as well as likely committee assignments.

Happy World Usability Day!

Today is World Usability Day described as an event to raise awareness of usability engineering and user-centered design. For information about events by country check out the web home for World Usability Day.

For usability guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services see Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines, 2006 edition.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Federal Reserve Board - Chairman Bernanke's Speech in Germany

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke Friday at the Fourth ECB Central Banking Conference in Frankfurt, Germany on "Monetary Aggregates and Monetary Policy at the Federal Reserve: A Historical Perspective." See this article in the Houston Chronicle for a discussion of his speech.

Not sure about the meaning of some of the monetary terms used in the article? Interested in learning more about money supply and the operation of the Federal Reserve? Check out FED101 on the Federal Reserve education site. For definitions of the monetary terms used in the speech, Wikipedia's article on money supply is also very helpful.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Public Papers of the Presidents online

The University of Michigan Digital Library Project has digitized the Public Papers of the Presidents collection. This not only allows users to read the entire public papers collection online, but it also allows users to search the entire collection, which includes the papers of the presidents from Herbert Hoover to Bill Clinton, with a single keyword search.

Celebrate Veterans Day, November 11, 2006

Internationally, Veterans Affairs Canada honors veterans on Saturday, Nov. 11 with a a Day of Remembrance. For a listing of national celebrations see the Department of Veteran Affairs site which also contains teacher resources, photo and poster galleries, history projects, and fact sheets. Celebrations in Houston commence at 10:00 a.m. with a ceremony at City Hall (901 Bagby/Hermann Square), continue at 11:00 a.m. with a Moment of Silence to commemorate the signing of the WWI Armistice (11th Hour, 11th Day, 11th Month), and culminate with a parade at 11:30 starting at Smith and Texas. Rice University celebrates on Friday, Nov. 10, with a 12 noon gathering around the flagpole at the Rice Memorial Center followed by a reception honoring Rice's veterans.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Texas Death Row

Since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976, the State of Texas has executed more inmates than any other state in the United States. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice maintains a website to keep the public informed about executions in the state of Texas. The site provides background information on death row inmates, their crimes, and execution dates. The site also provides information on executions that have been carried out, and if available even provides the last words of executed inmates.

Rumsfeld resigns

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has announced his intent to resign. See the announcement on CNN or the New York Times. President will nominate Robert Gates to succeed Rumsfeld.

Election Results in Texas

For election results in Texas and Harris County check out the Texas Secretary of State or HarrisVotes. The Secretary of State has historical election results back to 1992. For news coverage of election results:

Houston Chronicle
New York Times
Washington Post

Close Senate Races in Montana and Virginia

For details on the Virginia and Montana Senate races and election laws, check out the Virginia State Board of Elections and the Montana Secretary of State as well as election results in Virginia and Montana.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Public Papers of the Presidents: George W. Bush, Book II

From the Government Printing Office:

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George W. Bush Book II - July 1 to December 31, 2002 are now available on GPO Access at:

Each Public Papers volume contains the papers and speeches of the President of the United States that were issued by the Office of the Press Secretary during the specified time period. The material is presented in chronological order, and the dates shown in the headings are the dates of the documents or events. In instances when the release date differs from the date of the document itself, that fact is shown in the textnote.

As subsequent volumes covering the administration of President Bush are published, they will be added online. Volumes covering previous and future administrations will continue to be added on an incremental basis.

Vote Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006!

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Grand Hall of the RMC (Precinct 361) is the polling location for those who live on campus and registered that address. Those living in the Rice Graduate Apartments (Precinct 40) vote at Poe Elementary, 5100 Hazard at South Boulevard, while those living in the Morningside Square Apartments (Precinct 148) vote at Roberts Elementary, 6000 Greenbriar at Swift. Residents of Harris County can access HarrisVotes to find their polling locations and see sample ballots tailored to their specific precincts. The League of Women Voter's Guide for Ft. Bend County or for Harris County (in English) or (in Spanish) is available online to help with an informed choice. The Texas Secretary of State posts state-wide election return information as does the Houston Chronicle (with pre-voting sample ballots and precinct information) and CNN.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Patent Disclosure Document Program Eliminated

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will eliminate the Disclosure Document Program pursuant to the final rule published today. The effective date for this change is February 1, 2007.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Who’s Ahead in Congressional Races?

Do gaffes by prominent figures change whether citizens will vote for Democrats or Republicans in the upcoming elections? Check out the latest polling information on Originally designed to provide electoral statistics, the site has now expanded to provide data for the current national Senate and House races.

Stop Annoying Phone Calls

Maybe you registered your home phone with the Do Not Call Registry, but did you realize you could also register your cell phone (personal phones only, no business phones)? After a 31-day processing period, you can stop calls from telemarketers for five years. Unfortunately or fortunately at this time of year, political calls can still come through as can calls from charities, telephone surveyors, and from any company with “which you have an existing business relationship, or those to whom you’ve provided express agreement in writing to receive their calls.” Online you can register three phones at once; by telephone you can register only one at a time (the phone you are calling from). If you have already registered and forgotten when your registration expires, you can click on the Verify a Registration button.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Findings Issued on Texas City BP Refinery Explosion

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board issued a press release yesterday announcing extensive new findings from the investigation of the Texas City BP refinery explosion that occurred on March 23, 2005.

International Education Week, Nov. 13-17, 2006

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education are jointly sponsoring International Education Week. This year’s theme is International Education: Engaging in Global Partnerships and Opportunities. Access the official Web page if you would like to download promotional materials, view and submit events, take a global IQ quiz, read press releases, or visit the IEW library for classroom materials. In 2005 all 50 states and 77 countries participated in IEW.