Thursday, June 28, 2012


I'm not allowed to indicate who this post is about, but you know who you are.  And I'm glad I could help.


9AM.  It's going to be hot today, but I don't care, because I just finished the mowing.  Goodness.

Now to bake some goodies to send to my daughter.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Today we talked with the guy who set up our trusts.  Although he did not say we should move our money from the big financial company that has it, he strongly suggested we at least talk with some local financial planners that he knows and respects.  Coming from someone we trust, that means a lot.


Tonight I had a total of three calls on Skype, two of them overlapping a third.  The third was particularly interesting as it was a person I know who wanted to practice some English immediately in preparation for an English proficiency test tomorow.  I think I was able to help.  I hope so.

Not so successful was the second call, which I terminated to take the third one.  I was talking with a young woman whose father, an architect/construction manager is having difficulties with his company -- there have apparently been a lot of slowdowns, and he's concerned about the future of his company.  I tried to console her a bit, but there's really not a lot I could offer.  I felt a little badly about ending the call early, but that other one seemed urgent to me.

And I spoke briefly with a man in south eastern France -- at least, I think that's where he is.  Nothing substantial, though.  We're scheduled to talk on Thursday evening.

Still haven't heard anything from either the family who's supposed to come here in July or from the man I used to talk with two and three times a week.  Both are disappointing to me.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Finished Bond Girl.  Not bad.  I only skipped over about three pages, where a scene seemed to be going on a long time.


Cooking just plain old burgers is good.

But cooking one that's got garlic salt, beaten egg, grated onion, kosher salt, and pepper mixed in with the ground beef,  then served with buttered/toasted bread that has cheese and sliced onion with it....

Much better. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is what I expected from French cooking.

(Found many places, including here.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Tonight we spent a little time looking at the pretty chart that the financial planner sent us.  Basically, he wants me to start taking Social Security this year, and my pension, such as it is, next year, and to make up the difference between those and our monthly expenses by withdrawing from my 401(k) and other sources. Which, if followed to the limit he projects, would mean that one of my 401k(s) would be depleted in 10 years. This is not a bad thing, because I have another, and because it doesn't even touch my wife's 401(k), which is larger than both of mine. We;d start drawing from it after drawing mine down, and it would be handily supplemented by pension and Social Security. I know, numerically, that we'll be fine.'s unsettling to contemplate. Even knowing that we're projected to have a large number -- what we consider to be a large number, and thank you, belle-mere, for mentioning today that when you retired, you thought you had a comfortable amount, and now you're a little nervous; it's a big enough number that I joked to my wife that we ought to vote Republican  -- doesn't help me feel calm. Which is why I am writing now instead of going to sleep as I'd originally planned.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Even knowing that this is a trick question....even having seen it before.....I still got it wrong.

Here’s a simple arithmetic question: 

A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?


Only a really talented guy can make something like this sound funny.l

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Well, Then...

A little bit of a scary time. My wife's decided, with my support, to take the early retirement option that her company is offering. If all goes as we expect, she'll be retired from this company as of August 31 of this year. She doesn't really want to, but given how this company has shown a propensity to lay off some very bright and capable people with no warning, and given that the CEO says she wants to lean-down the company, and has indicated that she isn't fond of mainframe business, we think it's a reasonable decision.

There are some alternate possibilities. One is that they will refuse to accept her acceptance of the offer.  That might happen if they're swamped by people saying Yes.  We think that unlikely.  Another is that they accept her acceptance, but then turn around and fire her between now and August 31.  That's a little more likely, but still not very likely.

So, that's that.

We're doing the reasonable things.  We've looked at the forecast that we have of our both routine and extraordinary expenses for the next thirty years. (There is, alas, no way to forecast unforeseen expenses, though I wonder if there is a way to make a 'best guess').  We've talked to a financial planner from the company that handles our 401(k)s, and is handling this transition.  We've given our best shot of ongoing routine and forecasted extraordinary expenses, as well as forecasted revenue streams from 401(k)s, pensions,  and Social Security to the financial planner, who liked what he saw enough to suggest that we ought to consider hiring them for their Premium advisory service. (That's a notch above call-them-and-get-some-rookie-in-Bangalore.)  He also asked if we've considered any charitable giving.  It's a good thought, though, when I heard it, I mouthed to my wife - this was a teleconference with the planner -  How much money does this guy think we have?  Next week we talk with our estate planning tax guy -- he set up a couple of trusts for us, last year, which are intended to ensure that money after the death of one of us will go to the other, and not to Uncle Sam.  At least, not as much of it as Uncle Sam would like.  We've arranged for the financial planner and the tax guy to coordinate with each other.

Our best guess is that we're fine. Better than fine. We expect to be fine for the foreseeable future, too. 

But you never know. Inflation could spike - right now, it's about 2%; in the 70s, it was as high as 7%. Granted, interest rates would go up at the same time, but not as much as inflation. That could be pretty awful.  Or we could have abrupt significant expenses, sell-the-house-and-find-an-apartment expenses.

So it's a little scary. But we think its the right thing to do.  Check back with us in twenty years.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I occasionally see bride-and-entourage pictures, and they're usually pleasant, sometimes banal.

And then there are these ladies....

Words That Work

I've been reading this book, and I have to say that while part of it is interesting, part of it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. 

The author says, multiple times, that all he does is encourage people to use clear, straightforward language, and to select words that either do or do not carry baggage (depending on whether it's baggage you want), and that is a lot of what he does, but not all of it. There's something slimy about his techniques.  It's analogous to when people say if you don't have anything to hide, you shouldn't object to being searched, as if the right to privacy means nothing.  They just slither right past it, acting as if your desire to keep your privacy is proof that you're hiding something.  This guy twists words with a wide-eyed innocent who, me? I'm just helping people communicate better attitude. That is what he's doing, but he's doing it in a slithery way.

There's useful information in the book, but I find that I'm skimming it a lot.

Monday, June 18, 2012



When I was in high school, I got a yearbook each year, but once I had moved out, I didn't want them any more. 
This year, seeing my daughter's yearbook, I had a sudden burst of nostalgia, wishing that my parents had kept them.  So, with some misgivings, I went to the Classmates web site, and found that they had a yearbook from one year that I was there. I ordered one (it's expensive!), and it arrived today.  Its not pristine; they buy yearbooks, including whatever scribbling was in there, and scan them for resale - but it looks just like the original  (I was expecting a cheap photocopy, never mind the price.) I was glad to see it. 

And seeing that seventeen-year-old me delighted me.....

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Electoral Thoughts

I'll most likely vote for Obama no matter what.  I believe that Obama is the better of the two, that Romney will lie and distort, and that having him as President would be a very bad thing. We would have a smart person with the morals of George W. Bush.

But this evening, I saw an Obama ad saying that Romney said he could create jobs when he was governor of Massachusetts, and they lost jobs.  I wondered: can he be blamed for that? I would be willing to believe that he did try.  And if he did, if thats true, then the Obama team is doing their own version of lying. Is that our style?

On the other hand, playing fair could cost the election. Losing elections is the Democratic style.   I don't want to lose.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

Financial Planning

So do I take Social Security first, on the assumption that it's going to go bankrupt, and so I should get some of my money while I can, or do I take 401(k) first, on the assumption that the struggling company that owns it may give in to the temptation to raid the funds?

Decisions, decisions....

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Friday, June 08, 2012


I was looking through some images that I've saved, and came across this. It still tugs at my heart.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012


It's a delight to see the joy and enthusiasm of newly-minted high school graduates, but boy, it can make you feel old.

Monday, June 04, 2012


Every so often, I do something dumb as a parent.

Last night, while I was trying to get her laptop to work, my daughter took the opportunity to write CLEAN ME in the dust on the picture of her mother that I've kept on the bureau since we were married. It irritated me.

Walking up the hall, I thought "Don't do this."
Seeing her grin when I said Someone wrote  Clean Me, I thought "Don't do this."
I did it anyway.  Said Don't do that. And saw the light die in her eyes.

She'll get over it.  I'll get over it.

But still....

Sunday, June 03, 2012


Tomorrow is my daughter's last day in high school.  Tonight she came home, turned on her laptop, and exclaimed All of my stuff is gone!

I did a System Restore, which said it failed and did nothing.... and her stuff was back.

Personally, I think it was an attempt at suicide by the computer.

Saturday, June 02, 2012


Bookmarks are for two things: to be able to find the stuff that you come back to, repeatedly.  And to be able to find the stuff that you marked because you want to read it some time in the future.

I think that the latter should have a time limit - say, thirty days.  At 25 days, you get a popup = THE FOLLOWING BOOKMARKS EXPIRE SOON". Then at 30 days, they're gone.  You want to keep them, because, hey, you might go there?  Stick them in a folder.

Yeah, that should do it.



I just bought a pair of shoes from Zappos.  I've never bought anything from them before, but I have heard some very nice things about the company, along the lines of the nice things I hear about Amazon. So we'll see.  I like their quirky sense of humor. The 'customer registration' email says that I should save it, because it might save my life some day.  Probably not, it goes on to say, but it might.  Nice.  I like that.

I was looking around at some of the other things they sell, and found myself gazing at the men's underwear.  I wonder sometimes why men's underwear tends to be bland (except for the stuff that's aimed at the fabulously fit mid-twenties range).  It's just dull.  I never quite understand guys who wear women's clothing -- there are times that I wonder why we're so hung up on that distinction, but I know we are, and, truthfully, so am I -- but there are times when I look at how stylish and visually interesting women's clothing can be, and I can almost understand it.  For most people who sell guys clothes, underwear is either white or emblazoned with something like Home of the Whopper.  Or occasionally the Batman logo, to show that you're still wild and crazy even though, of course, you're not. I think it should be better than that.  I've heard it said that women feel better when they're wearing something sleek and sexy, even if no one can see it, and I wonder: could that be true for guys, too?

But for now, I'll just get the shoes from Zappos. Actually, sandals.  I think it's the second pair I've had in 60 years.  Don't want to rush into this!