Thoughts on the Disney - Lucas deal

Disney Deal to Spur Sibling Rivalries

Walt Disney Co.'s proposed $4.05 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. expands its portfolio to "Star Wars" series, but risks diluting the 89-year-old entertainment empire's Disney-branded film franchise.

...Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger indicated this week that the coming "Star Wars" films will supplant Disney movies on the release schedule. Disney doesn't plan to spend more than it already does on film production, Mr. Iger said, meaning each new "Star Wars" film will lead to one less Disney film.
  • I have not and do not intend to invest in Disney. Why:
    • Low dividend of 1.2%
    • I don't trust the movie business with the funky movie accounting.
    • I'm not that impressed with the product that Disney produces
  • I've seen all of the Star Wars films. The first three were ground-breaking and entertaining.
  • The 2nd set of 3 were terrible.
  • The Star Wars francise has jumped the shark


HMS Bounty lost?

17 abandon stricken ship, HMS Bounty, off N.C. coast

The ship, which is still floating upright and intact, is surrounded by 18-foot seas and 40 mph winds as Hurricane Sandy moves through the area.

The Bounty makes frequent trips around the country, offering a glimpse into maritime history, according to the ship's website. It was originally a British transport vessel, and the replica has appeared in several films, including the 2006 movie "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Mans Chest," with Johnny Depp. Its last stop before its winter hiatus in Galveston, Texas, was to be in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Nov. 10.
Comment: Official site. It was built for Mutiny on the Bounty (1962 film)


Harry Reid's lost world - no budget for 1,200 days!

Harry Reid's Graveyard - Senate Democrats are promising pre-emptive gridlock for 2013.


Even if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan win on November 6, his agenda will be stymied if Republicans can't pick up at least three more seats than their current 47 and control the Senate. That's clear from the last two years, when Harry Reid's not-so-deliberative body became the graveyard for fiscal and other reform.

House Republicans won an historic midterm election in 2010, picking up 63 seats. They also gained six Senate seats, but a handful of weak GOP candidates (Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, Christine O'Donnell) cost them control of the upper body. Back in charge in 2011, Mr. Reid proceeded to stop nearly everything that House Republicans passed. President Obama hasn't even had to sweat a veto fight because nothing escapes Mr. Reid's lost world.

Consider the record. In 2011 and 2012 the House passed more than three-dozen economic or jobs-related bills and with only a few exceptions they died in the Senate without a vote. The bills dealt with regulatory relief, tax reduction, domestic drilling for energy, offshore drilling, a jobs bill for veterans, repeal of ObamaCare and many more. Many passed the House with significant Democratic support, as the nearby list shows.

Then there is the Democratic failure on their constitutional obligation of passing a budget. House Republicans passed their budgets in each of the past two years in the spring. The latest one, crafted by Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan, contained $4.5 trillion in deficit reduction—at least twice as much as Mr. Obama's budget proposal.

By contrast, the Senate failed to pass any budget in 2012. Or 2011. Or 2010. The Senate hasn't passed a budget in more than 1,200 days. Sorry, Harry, you can't blame that on a Republican filibuster, because it takes only 51 votes to pass a Senate budget resolution. In 2011 and 2012 the Senate Budget Committee never even drafted a budget, thus inspiring a House bill to dock the pay of Senate Budget Committee Members for not doing their job.
Comment: Incompetence!

Sandy's - a High School hangout


Comment: Location: 5794 Glenway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45238
Wiki article

Poo is a Zoo

Comment: Source of video Sounds gross but possibility.


"These are areas that are 'intrinsically evil'"

A Letter from Bishop David Ricken: An Important Moment

It is almost time to vote and to make our choices for president and other political offices both local and national. You have often heard it said that this is a turning point in our country's history and I could not agree more.

The Church is not a political organism, but as you hopefully have learned in the US Bishops Faithful Citizenship material (which we have made widely available to you in the parishes, in the Compass and on-line), the Church has the responsibility to speak out regarding moral issues, especially on those issues that impact the "common good" and the "dignity of the human person."

I would like to review some of the principles to keep in mind as you approach the voting booth to complete your ballot. The first is the set of non-negotiables. These are areas that are "intrinsically evil" and cannot be supported by anyone who is a believer in God or the common good or the dignity of the human person.

They are:

  1. abortion
  2. euthanasia
  3. embryonic stem cell research
  4. human cloning
  5. homosexual "marriage"

These are intrinsically evil. A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program that contradicts fundamental contents of faith and morals. Intrinsically evil actions are those which have an evil object. In other words, an act is evil by its very nature and to choose an action of this type puts one in grave moral danger.
Comment: I'm not a Catholic but I agree!

Hospital Chart Bloopers

  1. The patient refused autopsy.
  2. The patient has no previous history of suicides.
  3. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.
  4. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.
  5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
  6. On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it disappeared.
  7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
  8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
  9. Discharge status: Alive but without permission.
  10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert but forgetful
  11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
  12. She is numb from her toes down.
  13. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.
  14. The skin was moist and dry.
  15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.
  16. Patient was alert and unresponsive.
  17. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid. (OMG! That is some examination)
  18. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.
  19. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.
  20. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.
  21. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.
  22. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
  23. Skin: somewhat pale but present.
  24. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.
  25. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.
Comment: Email from a cousin-in-law or cousin thrice removed (I know who he is but unsure of the actual connection!) Said to be: "Hospital Chart Bloopers The occasional laugh is good for you! HOSPITAL CHART BLOOPERS (Actual writings from hospital charts) ". The picture above is an actual picture of a nurse (source)


Missing work

Collected Quotes from Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction
This will be the 6th time in life I've missed work:
  1. Before I was married but after I started at IBM. I had viral pneumonia and missed work for a week. I'm guessing 1973 or 1974. (started with IBM in February '73 and was married December 28th, 1974).
  2. When I broke my neck on Labor Day in 1987 (September 7th, 1987). Until November 25th (Thanksgiving Eve) 1987
  3. Early 1988 for a week. February. My neck surgery of the previous September did not heal correctly and it was redone.
  4. I had back surgery on December 28th, 2004. It was our 30th anniversary. I was to be hospitalized for 3 days but managed to get out the next day. I missed three weeks of work.
  5. I had the C-Diff infection in 2011 and missed 8 weeks of work
  6. I missed all of last week of work and will start short term disability on Monday. Unclear how long this will last!
I'm thankful that my dear manager Denise and the company for which I work are so accommodating.

Not St. Elsewhere

  • Care: The care I received at Methodist Hospital was absolutely excellent. From John the concierge who helped me from the car to the wheelchair and wheeled me into the emergency room to Don the volunteer who wheeled me from my room to my waiting car on my discharge day. There were Florences (2), Mark, Pema, Megan, Terry, Leah, Linda, Irma, Neils, Dr Houle, Nurses assistants, Nurses, etc.
  • 3-5800: The food service was great. I was inclined not to eat and that is what I had been doing in the days leading up to my ER visit. I told Mark my nurse that I was not going to eat since I was in for diarrhea. He said that I had to eat. Every meal was well prepared and tasty. The 3-5800 # ... room service (really)
  • My roommate Tony: He was sicker than I. I prayed for him. After the C-Diff diagnosis came in at 6:45 a.m. on Sunday they spirited Tony away and I was alone in isolation. I am praying for Tony for a complete recovery.
  • Dr Cara Houle: Smart, caring, excellent communicator!
  • UN staff (mostly at the N/A (nursing assistant) level): Countries represented: Jamaica, Ghana (that would be Florence # 1 and Florence # 2 .... cousins), Guyana, Nepal, Tibet, India, Scotland, Georgia, Ukraine, Somalia and more. All of these had an excellent command of the English language (obviously with an accent). Each one had an interesting story. I would ask them: when did you come here? Why? How did you learn English? I would try to guess their country by their accent and skin color. I don't think I was right once! They were all very sweet. The United States attracts fine people!
  • When the button is pushed: It is normally the nursing assistant who comes first. I had to push the button every time I had to go to the bathroom. It was a lot of times. This help is messy business and they were great.
  • I was in a Stryker Corporation hospital bed. Bert ... thought this would interest you. The bed had as many features as a luxury car (able to weigh the patient ... alarm when I got up, etc)
  • Training and education. Where the nurses went to college: Normandale Community College, Gustavus Adolphus College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, St. Catherine University, and others. The nurses - every one - had a passion for their calling. It was truly impressive.
  • Weird advice: Came from my sister-in-law who is a nurse. Put a barrier cream on your butt. I ignored that advice until it became obvious that it was very wise. Nursing provided a tube and it cured the issue.
  • Unusual characters (1 was funny):
    • The hacker: I think he was in the room across the hall. I really felt for this guy and prayed for him. I kept my door closed to keep the sound out.
    • "I just peed": This one cracked me up. A woman announced loudly "I just peed". This happened more than once.
    • "I'm so depressed": This may have been the same woman as above but by the voice I think it was a different woman. I heard this woman a lot. I prayed for her.
    • "H E L L O": The funniest was the "H E L L O" guy. This was the 2nd to last night in the hospital. He would cry out "H E L L O" ... repeatedly. Like he was exploring a dark cave or something. I really wanted to get up (but there was an alarm on my bed and other issues like I'm wearing a gown with my butt hanging out!) to help the guy
  • Tethered: I had an IV the entire time. Every where I went either I or a N/A had to wheel this thing behind. Once in my rush to the bathroom (on my own ... not something I was supposed to do) I closed the door on the IV tube and yanked hard on my arm. Ultimately they pulled that IV point (right arm) and moved it to my left hand

Citi Coup (d'état)

Citi Chairman Is Said to Have Planned Chief’s Exit Over Months

Vikram Pandit’s last day at Citigroup swung from celebratory to devastating in a matter of minutes. Having fielded congratulatory e-mails about the earnings report in the morning that suggested the bank was finally on more solid ground, Mr. Pandit strode into the office of the chairman at day’s end on Oct. 15 for what he considered just another of their frequent meetings on his calendar.

Instead, Mr. Pandit, the chief executive of Citigroup, was told three news releases were ready. One stated that Mr. Pandit had resigned, effective immediately. Another that he would resign, effective at the end of the year. The third release stated Mr. Pandit had been fired without cause. The choice was his.

The abrupt encounter, described by three people briefed on the conversation, included a terse comment by the chairman, Michael E. O’Neill: “The board has lost confidence in you.”

A stunned Mr. Pandit chose to resign immediately. Even though Mr. Pandit and the board have publicly characterized his exit as his decision, interviews with people close to the board describe how the chairman maneuvered behind the scenes for months ahead of that day to force Mr. Pandit out and replace him with Michael L. Corbat, the board’s chosen successor.
Comment: Interesting read. Image is from The Hudsucker Proxy. Other possible titles to this post (Citi Coup is a turn on CitiGroup) were: "Et tu, O’Neill", "The Pandit Proxy", "As the Citi Turns" (because it seems like a soap opera over there!). As for the quote in red. I heard this exact quote from my board chairman at my last church. I was two years into that ministry (of 9 years). The board chairman called me late afternoon to tell me that the board had lost confidence in me and he was going to call for my resignation that night at the deacons' meeting. It was a fun meeting. He left and I stayed another 7 years. Turns out that "the board" was really just him.


Guess the State

"_____________" Growth Threatened by Finances, Report Says


A culture of short-sightedness among the leaders of ___________ threatens the state's economic growth and its ability to provide the basic services its residents need, according to a new report on state fiscal problems by a high-profile task force. The report was issued Wednesday by the State Budget Crisis Task Force, which is led by Paul Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman, and Richard Ravitch, a one-time lieutenant governor of New York. It provides broad recommendations to address _________' fiscal problems, saying state government must overhaul its pension system, control Medicaid costs and reform its tax system to ensure sustainable revenue. The nation's ___________ populous state has one of the worst credit ratings in the country as it faces an estimated $83 billion pension gap and other budget holes. Elected officials have taken some steps in recent years toward change, but an overhaul of the pension system that would reduce the cost-of-living increase for retirees and shift some costs from the state to local communities collapsed earlier this year. "____________________' budget is not fiscally sustainable. Despite recent progress and difficult choices, it is still in a deep hole," Mr. Ravitch said in statement about the report.
Comment: Guess the state .... and guess what party dominates

What the Doctor heard

The Doctor did a lot of listening to my intestines. This is not a record of the sound but I'm guessing that it was about like this! Wiki "The Bloop"

Out of hospital


I slept in until past 8:00 am this last Saturday. My normal out of bed time can be as early as 6 or as late as 7 but 8 is unheard of. I relaxed in my ez chair while Kathee made breakfast. I sat down for breakfast  and told Kathee ... I don't feel well. I am very tired and I need help getting back to my recliner.

Kathee brought out an apple juice which I drank and then fell asleep. After noon I asked Kathee to help me back to bed. I could barely move and my legs were wobbly. I slept for several hours and my condition worsened. Kathee said that we needed to do something. I wanted to wait until Monday for a previously scheduled Drs' appointment. Ultimately Kathee called our son Roger and they muscled me into the car and took me to the emergency room.  At the juncture I could not even hold my head up or speak beyond a whisper.

Turns out that I was moderately dehydrated. I was given a liter of IV solution and was revived after that dripped into my vein. I was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Saint Louis Park

Return of Clostridium difficile:

Tests in the night reported a return of C-Diff. I had had diarrhea for three weeks but the previous test results were negative for C-Diff.


I've been administered liquid Vancomycin orally fur times a day since. Things improved enough that today I was discharged.

  • I'm going to take off the remainder of the week
  • I have some specialist appointments ahead
  • I have 3-4 more weeks of drugs
  • It is undetermined at this time whether I will return to work on Monday


Electoral Map Prediction # 2

Again I used www.270towin.com. My oldest son pointed out to me that Kansas always goes Republican (compare previous post).
  • Virginia, Florida and Ohio: I'm hopeful that all go to Romney. I think he needs all three
  • Recent polling has Romney up in Pennsylvania.
  • Nebraska and Maine split electoral votes by congressional district. I gave Obama all of Maine and 1 from Nebraska
  • I think that Colorado and Nevada could go for Romney but I left in Obama column
  • I've seen some polls that suggest that Wisconsin could go Romney but I left that in the Obama column as well
  • Romney = 285 / Obama = 253


Electoral Map Prediction # 1

Using: www.270towin.com

In this scenario:
  • Romney wins Ohio, Virginia and Florida (I think he has to win these three to win) AND
  • Pennsylvania and Colorado
  • Romney = 289 / Obama =249



I've been working from home for three weeks. I thought I had a relapse with my Clostridium difficile infection that I had in 2011 (January 2011 until mid August). Something's not right. I went back to the infectious disease specialist at Methodist Hospital and after tests it is NOT Clostridium difficile. So I am sick ... but not really sick. Sick enough to work from home but not that dreaded Clostridium difficile.

I thank the Lord for my manager who is very understanding. Also for VPN and a nice laptop and high speed Internet. Also for a a good cell-phone with a bluetooth head set. Otherwise I would be not working.

The BRAT diet: Stands for Banana, Rice, Applesauce and Toast. All easy to digest. So I had 2 pieces of toast for breakfast. I demanded that Kathee put some butter on them and she did grudgingly. I had rice for lunch. We have a nice rice cooker and while bland it is filling. I also had a banana today and later will have the apple sauce. Hoping that the insides settle down and I am not confined to be close to "the throne"

Thoughts on the Presidential election: (not much of a segue!)
  • I thought the 2nd Presidential debate was a waste. These debates are about one-line zingers. There is little substance to them. The VP debate (other than showing that Biden is an idiot) was likewise a waste.
  • I am hopeful that Romney will win. I think it is going to come down to Florida, Virginia and Ohio. If Romney doesn't win these states I doubt he will win. He needs these three and more. Real Clear Politics has a good analysis today
  • In the back of my mind I have this thought that Obama doesn't want re-election. He likes to golf, he likes Hawaii, he can make a good speech that appeals to a certain audience. I think (whether in 2012 or '16) he will like being former-President Obama.

The next time the MSM mentions "Binders of Women" ...

If four Americans get killed, it's not OPTIMAL': Obama's extraordinary response to security fiasco after Benghazi massacre

President Barack Obama, during an interview to be shown on Comedy Central, has responded to a question about his administration's communications after the Benghazi attack, by saying: 'If four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal.' Obama was speaking to Jon Stewart of The Daily Show for a programme to be broadcast tonight. Stewart, a liberal whose audience of young voters is prized by the Obama campaign, asked the president about his handling of the aftermath of the Benghazi attack.
Comment: The President as "Joker"


Kraft Foods spin off cost basis calculator

Spin-Off Information

Comment: scroll down for link to .xls that may be downloaded
Mondelēz International - Tax basis information (PDF)

Comment: My brokerage firm has yet (will they?) correctly allocated the cost.

Image is screen shot of spreadsheet with example.

A heart beat away ... scary thought!!

Bizarre Biden Frightens Me
The most frightening takeaway from Thursday evening's vice-presidential debate is that for the last four years Biden has been a coronary, cerebral hemorrhage, slip in the shower, steak lodged in the windpipe, caught in flagrante delicto by an armed Michelle away from the presidency. The thought of that should send chills down the spine of every American who cares about the future of this nation. Biden's performance was beyond bizarre -- it was unworldly. I'm not a druggie but I don't think a bad trip on acid could have been more unsettling
Comment: Scary indeed!


Clueless Joe Biden

"Paul Ryan is the kid solving calculus problems on the blackboard. Joe Biden is the kid making fart sounds in the back of the room".
Comment: I saw this on FB today .. hits the nail on the head


WSJ on CCH move to Switzerland

Bottler Spills Out of Athens - Biggest Company Departs; 'De-Greeking' Coca-Cola Hellenic Amid Debt Crisis


Coca-Cola Hellenic, which bottles juice and soft drinks in 28 countries, joins a spate of companies seeking ways to shed the risks associated with Europe's indebted southern rim and, in particular, to overcome the difficulties of raising money in financially-crippled countries. The move by Coca-Cola Hellenic also is a major blow to the Athens stock market, which is languishing at 20-year lows amid Europe's debt crisis, now well into its third year. The company, which is the second-biggest bottler of products by Coca-Cola Co., represents about a fifth of the exchange's capitalization, up from about 5% in 2009. ... Coca-Cola Hellenic was prodded to move after rating firms downgraded its credit this summer to three notches above "junk" level, citing the risk that Greece could exit the 17-nation euro zone. The downgrade came despite the group's strong financial profile: Atlanta-based Coca-Cola owns 23% of the company, which earns 95% of its revenues outside Greece.
Comment: Article may be behind Wall Street Journal paywall.

"They worship the god of re-election."

US Nears Fiscal Disaster: 'Washington Doing Nothing'
The U.S. is heading towards fiscal disaster and no one in Washington is doing anything about it, the authors of the Simpson-Bowles reform plan and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein told CNBC Thursday.

"People are never going to understand how critical this particular time in history is," said Erskine Bowles, the North Carolina businessman and co-chairman of President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. "We have $7.7 trillion worth of economic events that are going to hit America in the gut in December, and in Washington they're doing nothing about it."

... "They're both in this," Simpson said of the warring Democratic and Republican parties. "They worship the god of re-election."
Comment: Fiddling while Rome burns

Investing in Coca-Cola

There's the main Coca-Cola company - stock symbol KO
Then there is Coca Cola Enterprises which trades as CCE
Then there's FEMSA which trades as FMX
Then there's Coca Cola Hellenic which trades as CCH. CCH was in the news today because they are the largest company in Greece .... and they are moving to Switzerland
Then there's Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated which trades as COKE. Not done yet:
Then there's Coca-Cola Amatil which trades on the Australian Exchange as CCL.
Then there's Embotelladora Andina which trades as AKO-A an AKO-B Complex isn't it! KO is one of my favorite stocks.


Obamacare response ... limit hours

Darden tests limiting worker hours as health-care changes loom

In an experiment apparently aimed at keeping down the cost of health-care reform, Orlando-based Darden Restaurants has stopped offering full-time schedules to many hourly workers in at least a few Olive Gardens, Red Lobsters and LongHorn Steakhouses. Darden said the test is taking place in "a select number" of restaurants in four markets, including Central Florida, but would not give details. The company said there has been no decision made about expanding it. In an emailed statement, Darden said staffing changes are "just one of the many things we are evaluating to help us address the cost implications health care reform will have on our business. There are still many unanswered questions regarding the health care regulations and we simply do not have enough information to make any decisions at this time." "I think a lot of those employers, especially restaurants, are just going to ensure nobody gets scheduled more than 30 hours a week," said Matthew Snook, partner with human-resources consulting company Mercer. Darden said its goal at the test restaurants is to keep employees at 28 hours a week. Analysts said limiting hours could pose new challenges, including higher turnover and less-qualified workers. "It's a real problem for restaurants," said Howard Penney, a restaurant analyst and managing director for Hedgeye Risk Management. Darden, the world's largest casual-dining company and one of the nation's 30 largest employers, said it offers health insurance to all its approximately 185,000 employees. Many are offered a limited-benefit plan. That type of coverage is being phased out under health-care changes, which will ban annual limits for most plans. About 25 percent of Darden workers are full time, meaning they work more than 30 hours a week. Though employees say Darden already offers traditional health insurance to full-timers, Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski said the cost of providing that could become higher for Darden under the Affordable Care Act. Because that law requires everyone to have health insurance, more workers will likely choose its coverage, Kalinowski said. "Even a modest jump up in the amount of employees that decide they want the insurance you're offering could have a meaningful impact on your bottom line," he said. Under the system Darden is testing, employees are to be scheduled for no more than 28 hours each week. They can run over that if things get busy, but Darden acknowledged they are not supposed to exceed 30 hours. At a new Olive Garden in Stillwater, Okla., former busboy Keaton Hasty said employees were routinely limited to 29 1/2 hours.
Comment: Any surprises?

Wells Fargo tops in Colorado Market Share

U.S. Bank ranks third in Colorado deposits, passing JPMorgan Chase

In the back-and-forth battle for depositors in Colorado, U.S. Bank overtook JPMorgan Chase for third-best on a list perennially topped by Wells Fargo Bank, according to a federal survey. Though Wells' market share slipped to just under 25 percent, it still held the lion's share of deposits in the state — $24.7 billion as of June 30 — more than double the amounts held by FirstBank branches, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. analysis released last week shows. Coloradans continued to head toward banks, increasing deposits by about four percent from last year and 16 percent from 2009. The real battle is for third place, between U.S. Bank and Chase. No bank below them holds more than a 3.6 percent share. U.S. Bank overtook Chase, registering a 9.7 percent market share in Colorado — 12.5 in Denver alone — a significant uptick from the 8.6 percent it held last year.
Comment: Kathee started at the former United Bank of Colorado (acquired by Norwest). I started at Norwest. We moved to Minnesota in 1996.


Gas prices 4 years ago

Comment: Are you better off?


Answer: Manual typewriter

Ask Slashdot: What Were You Taught About Computers In High School?

Ask Slashdot: What Were You Taught About Computers In High School?
Comment: Not my favorite class.

Retirement: Magic 8

When 'Eight' Isn't Enough - What's Your 'Magic' Retirement-Savings Number?

You are working hard to save for a decent retirement. So wouldn't it be nice to have a simple rule of thumb to measure whether you are saving enough? Last month, Fidelity Investments, the nation's largest provider of 401(k) plans, tried to do just that, offering up "eight" as the magic number: Typical wage earners, it said, should aim to save at least eight times their final annual pay to be sure they can afford basic living expenses in retirement. ... To come up with the formula, Fidelity had to make numerous assumptions. Its "typical" worker began saving 6% of his earnings at age 25, gradually increased that to 12% after six years and continued saving that amount each year until retiring at 67. (An additional employer match helped, too.) He earned about $40,000 in today's dollars initially and retired with annual pay just under $74,000. In addition, the savings grew 5.5% a year every year—or 3.2% after inflation—something that is impossible in the volatile real world, where investments soar one year and shrink another. Last, the model assumes the saver will start retirement by withdrawing about 5% of savings, a higher drawdown rate than the 4% usually recommended.
Comment: Seems like a daunting number to me. I wonder ... will we have enough? Being debt free is a plus.



LucyPhone Waits On Hold for Customer Service for You


Elevator jazz, assurances of "unusual call volumes," having to leave your phone on speaker mode—waiting on hold stinks. Free service LucyPhone can listen to the hold music for you, then call you back when a real human picks up. Head to LucyPhone's site, look up the number of the company you're calling (or add it to their database), then hand over your own number. LucyPhone calls you and rings the company, Google-Voice-style, and you then navigate the company phone tree the way you normally would.
Comment: I signed up but haven't had the opportunity to try it out yet

City Air

An expert finds New York City's air is full of foreign matter, including rubber and rust - Bits of clothing, fat, carbon, fungus and dead skin cells also flutter through New York's atmosphere


Big Apple air is a bizarre brew of bacteria, pollen, clothing fiber, fungus, tire rubber, dead skin cells, cooking fat and carbon emissions. The truth of exactly what New Yorkers breathe comes courtesy of air expert Bill Logan, who grabbed a “spore sucker” of his own design and joined the Daily News for a tour of the city. The results might surprise you. Yes, there’s the expected pollution in midtown and the South Bronx, and neighborhoods with lots of trees tend to have pollen and fungus in the air. But each breath you take — about 33,000 a day — also might include spores, bacteria, pollens, tiny bits of glass, starch and fat.
Comment: I love country air.


President Obama's Empty Deficit Promises

President Obama's Broken Deficit Promises

In the 2008 campaign, President Obama repeatedly criticized Republicans for running sky high deficits, and letting total federal debt hit $10 trillion. Obama didn't just attack his GOP rival and the Bush administration for their poor budgeting. As Philip Klein of The Washington Examiner points out, he also made specific promises of his own, pledging "to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office" at a "fiscal responsibility summit" (LOL!) shortly after taking office in 2009. Obama followed up that promise with assurances in 2010 and 2011 that his administration was on the path to meeting its deficit reduction goals. “When I took office, I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term," he said in February 2011. "Our budget meets that pledge and puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade.”
Comment: The debt clock keeps rolling away. We are laying debt upon our children and grandchildren! Image source

Behind the 7.8%

Behind the BLS Unemployment Numbers


  1. Two-thirds of the new jobs claimed by the Report (582,000 jobs) are part time jobs.
  2. Of the claimed 582,000 new part time jobs, only 268,000 are real. The remaining 314,000 part time jobs are the result of a "seasonal adjustment" by the BLS.
  3. The BLS reported dramatic increases in seasonally adjusted part time employment in September of 2011 (483,000 jobs) and September of 2010 (579,000 jobs) only to report significant decreases in such jobs in each of the following Octobers (419,000 jobs in 2010 and 480,000 jobs in 2011) with continuing decreases in November and December. It is therefore reasonable to expect that the increase in part time jobs this year and the resulting improvement in the unemployment rate is also temporary.
  4. The U-6 unemployment rate, which is the broadest measure of unemployment, in that it includes among the unemployed those persons who are working part time but would rather be working full time, was unchanged in September at 14.7%.
Comment: It's not purposeful deception (in my mind). Just smoke and mirrors. Bert ... I am praying daily for you!


Peanut Butter brands

Unilever Looks To Offload North American Peanut Butter Business

Unilever (NYSE:UL) recently said that it may consider the sale of its U.S. and Canada Skippy peanut butter business. The business had revenues of $300 million in 2011 with an estimated value in the range of $300-400 million. Skippy is a strong brand in North America and has 18% share of the U.S. peanut butter market. However, it plays second fiddle to J.M. Smucker’s owned Jif, which has 34% market share.  We believe this business sale will allow the company to focus on higher growth food brands and faster-growing, higher margin beauty and health brands such as Dove and Axe. Another emerging trend in the company’s strategy is the reduction in its exposure to North American markets while continuing successful expansion into emerging markets such as Indonesia and Russia.
Comment: More on. I like the food stocks. (And I like peanut butter - JIF is my preference). I wonder if General Mills would be a buyer of Skippy?


Investing in Europe

The FTSE 350 Index would be somewhat analogous to the US S&P 500. The FTSE 350 Index index is a market capitalisation weighted stock market index incorporating the largest 350 companies by capitalisation which have their primary listing on the London Stock Exchange. The S&P Europe 350 Index Fund (IEV) holds those stocks (full holdings)

Indebted U.S. to resemble Greece

PIMCO's Gross says indebted U.S. to resemble Greece
Bill Gross, founder and co-chief investment officer of bond giant PIMCO, said he sees the U.S. going the way of Greece if it does not get its fiscal house in order.

Gross, writing in his most recent monthly investment outlook, said the U.S. must cut spending or raise taxes by 11 percent of gross domestic product over the next five to ten years in order to preserve its role as financial safe haven.

"If we continue to close our eyes to existing 8 percent of GDP deficits, which, when including Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare liabilities, compose an average estimated 11 percent annual 'fiscal gap,' then we will begin to resemble Greece before the turn of the next decade," Gross wrote.
Comment: Image source: Bring back the Greek Drachma - Problem solved

Budgetary "Ring of Fire"

Bill Gross: US Addicted to 'Budgetary Crystal Meth'

"The U.S., in fact, is a serial offender, an addict whose habit extends beyond weed or cocaine and who frequently pleasures itself with budgetary crystal meth.

Uncle Sam's habit, say these respected agencies, will be a hard (and dangerous) one to break."

Washington must close both the budget deficit, which entails spending and revenue during the course of a given year, as well as a "fiscal gap," which describes the amount that will be needed to pay for social programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that have unfunded liabilities of tens of trillions of dollars, Gross said.

The CBO, BIS and IMF have concluded that the U.S. balance sheet "is in flames and that its fire department is apparently asleep at the station house," he added. The current budget deficit is running at more than $1.2 trillion while the total national debt is more than $16 trillion and there is a fiscal gap of 11 percent of gross domestic product, which is currently $15.6 trillion.

... "Unless we begin to close this gap, then the inevitable result will be that our debt/GDP ratio will continue to rise, the Fed would print money to pay for the deficiency, inflation would follow and the dollar would inevitably decline," Gross wrote. "Bonds would be burned to a crisp and stocks would certainly be singed; only gold and real assets would thrive within the 'Ring of Fire,'" another Gross term for U.S. economic conditions.

Should that happen, the results both for investors and the U.S. economy would be catastrophic, he concluded. "If the fiscal gap isn't closed even ever so gradually over the next few years, then rating services, dollar reserve holding nations and bond managers embarrassed into being reborn as vigilantes may together force a resolution that ends in tears," Gross said. "It would be a scenario for the storybooks, that's for sure, but one which in this instance, investors would want to forget. The damage would likely be beyond repair."
Comment: Is anyone in Washington listening? Do the voters care?