How Stuff Works
Using an e-mail program, or client, you compose your message. Then you send it. Marshall says to think of your message as a little digital package of information. That package is sent through a cable from your computer to another computer maintained by your e-mail service provider, which is called a mail server. The mail server examines the recipient's address to decide how to route the message.
The message then travels over the Internet, arriving at the mail server of the recipient's e-mail service provider, where it is held in an electronic mailbox. When the recipient checks for new messages, their e-mail client communicates with their e-mail service provider's mail server and retrieves any new messages waiting in that electronic mailbox. In a process that typically takes less than a second—you've got mail!
The signal is still a bunch of dots, but your TV puts them all back together to make a picture. Something called an electron gun, inside your television, sprays all those dots onto your TV screen in the same order they were originally sent out. In this way an entire picture is created.
This entire process happens 30 times a second—that's why the images seem to move!
The phone company gets the number you're calling and makes a path for it, or routes the call, to its destination. There are buildings across the globe that house telephone switching equipment, as well as fiber optic cables that flow between them. In split seconds, computers patch together a set of cables and figure out precisely how to direct your call. The moment the path is established, the phone rings and you're ready to chat.
As you speak into your telephone's microphone, the sound waves are turned into an electrical signal so that it can flow through the network along copper wires. On the other end of the line, a phone takes the signal and uses the speaker to convert the electrical signal back into sounds waves.
Marshall points out that radio waves are in the air all around us. But in the case of microwave ovens, the radio waves have a specific frequency that gives them an interesting property: they are absorbed by water, fats and sugars. Food contains those same molecules that become excited as the radio waves strike them. This excitement turns into heat, which cooks your food.
"A stock is ownership in a company," Maria says. "You have a friend who is doing well and has a small business and decides, 'I want to take this business to the next level. I need money to do that. I'm going to go public. I want to sell part of that company to the public.' Then a banker comes, they value the business, they divvy it up—shares—and that gives individuals an opportunity to own part of that business."
"Information is moving so quickly and stocks are trading all day long," Maria says. "Let me give you a quick analogy. You're at home, you call your broker at [UBS] PaineWebber and you say ... 'I want to buy IBM but I'm not paying any more than $70 a share.' He's got to get over to that post before that stock changes in price. ... He's physically running over because if somebody gets in front of you and they want to buy a million shares, the next thing you know, it's $72 [per share]. Then he's got to call you and say, 'Guess what, Oprah? I couldn't buy it at $70. You paid $75.' And you're going to say, 'You're fired.'"
"What does it stand for? National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quote System."
"Federal Insurance Contributions Act," Maria says. "[It's a] federal law that requires employees and employers to withhold back a portion of our paycheck and put it into a fund that—when we turn 65—will pay our Medicare and our Social Security benefits. So every two weeks you have to pay, as an employee, 7.65 percent of your check. Your employer will match that another 7.65 percent for a total of 15.2 percent. ... If you're self-employed, you're on the hook for the whole 15.2 percent."
"His strategy is to buy well-known quality companies," Maria says. "He calls them 'market leaders.' [These are] the Coca-Colas of the world, American Express—those are two of his big holdings."
- Savings Account or CD: "You're not going to get a great interest rate," Maria says, "but at least you know it's there and safe."
- 401k or IRA: "You must have a 401k," Maria says. "If your company is not offering a 401k, you must have an IRA (or Individual Retirement Account.)"
- Stocks: "I do believe most people should be invested in stocks," Maria says. "You want to have an investment account if you have the extra money to do so."
First, why does Oprah tape in Chicago?
"I started in Chicago 20 years ago," Oprah says. "This is the audience that made it possible for this show to go national. Because of that, I always wanted to honor the people who made me who I am."
"I would just live a week in my own shoes that were the right size," Oprah jokes. "I have a pretty good life. I don't want to trade my life with anybody."
"No, no, never, no!" Oprah says in no uncertain terms. "I know they say, 'Never say never', but, no, no, never."
"I have a lovely home in California," Oprah says, "I love sitting under the oak trees. So that's what I would do."
No one owns up to it, but Oprah answers anyway: "Neither." (Oprah wears Spanx®.)