Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wicked Awesome!

Meghan and I had a great "date night" last night and went to see Wicked. And it was amazing!

We had heard the buzz for over a year now and tried to get tickets the last time the show was in town but couldn't. This time (thanks to Ivette) we got in on tickets before the general public and got great seats!

I didn't know what to expect. I had heard it would be the story of the wicked witch and the good witch before Dorothy showed up in Oz. I think I had in my mind that the story would be much darker with more "good vs. evil" type of a story. To my surprise the show was very modern and updated, humorous, and well done as a musical!

I won't spoil the plot, but it is amazing how engaging the story is and how well the weave it with the Wizard of Oz as we know it. You get so much "back-story" on the Wizard of Oz, it's fantastic. Glinda the good witch couldn't have been a better role, she was a very entertaining "legally blonde" type of good witch. Hilarious! Elphalba, the wicked witch, was a very well done outcast due to the color of her green skin. I loved the way they made you like both the good and the wicked witch and you can see how things happened the way they did to make one "wicked". You end up feeling for both of them.

My takeaways are I love Phantom for the music, Lion King for the costumes, and now Wicked for the story line. It is a great story, and you won't look at the original Wizard of Oz the same way again.

Wicked gets a definite "A" and a must see if you are at all into theater. Even folks who would balk at seeing a musical will really enjoy this one.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Shelby Photo Shoot!

OK - so it's been a while since Shelby got a blog about her. So here's the start of her modeling career - a photo shoot!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sleeper Movie - Arlington Road

Very few movies have delivered for me like Arlington Road. Whenever movies come up over a lunch conversation, I can count on 2 things:

1) Very few people have heard of or seen Arlington Road

2) Almost everyone I recommend the movie to comes back and tells me how much they loved it.

Since I was just reminded this week how good a reco this movie was, so I figured it was worth a blog. The movie is rated R and not for kids.

Arlington Road was made in 1999 however the movie has only become MORE relevant with time as Tim Robbins suspects his neighbor of plotting a terrorist attack. If you are interested in a suspense / thriller this is it! I highly recommend seeing it without doing much more digging on the movie, you will enjoy the twists and turns.

I did find a "safe" review on

"Arlington Road" is the perfect example for how thrillers should be made.

A good story, a good atmosphere, good actors and voila! you have got a good thriller. "Arlington Road" has got it all and it's a near perfect movie that is a must see for the thriller fans.

The intense beginning sets the mood for the rest of the movie. It's atmospheric and tense right till the good ending. I'll admit that there are some slow moments and some distracting plot lines but it doesn't take away the tension or ruins the atmosphere in any kind of way.

The movie is very well casted with Jeff Bridges as the more and more paranoid getting Michael Faraday and Tim Robbins as his neighbour that he begins to suspects of being a terrorist. Both main actors pull of really well and help to created the good thriller atmosphere that this movie has.

Good thriller with a great atmosphere, story, actors and ending that will stay with you forever.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Square Root Without a Calculator!

I found this on the internet in 1998 and saved it to my computer because I thought it was pretty amazing. It's is a method to take the square root of any number without using a calculator. All you need is a pencil and paper and a new long division algorithm.

I find this so facsinating because we take so much for granted with out sophisticated graphing calculators, it's nice to know how to get along with out one, if only for a simple mathematical operation. Enjoy!

(Click on the image)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Amazing Video from the Animal Kingdom

This is pretty incredible video (Thanks Vickie!). I have to warn you it is a bit graphic (not too bad) but has a happy ending. Ordinarily I wouldn't give away the story but since you'd have to make it through all 5 minutes to see why the heck I put this on here, here's the summary:

1) Hiding Lions attack a herd of water buffalo and capture a baby water buffalo
2) The lions are trying to get the baby water buffalo back onto land
3) A crocodile joins the battle and tries to steal the baby water buffalo from the lions
4) The lions win and get the baby water buffalo back on to shore
5) The herd of water buffalo come back, kick some butt, and free the baby water buffalo (who appears to be OK!)

This is amazing stuff!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

(My) Financial Year in Review

One thing I know - people are not comfortable talking about money. But I love talking about investing, saving for retirement, financing a car or a house, etc. I also think people should talk to each other more about money because this stuff is certainly not taught in school, and most people never care to research the matter. I am fortunate that I have a group of friends who like to talk about money and investing, and don't get caught up in comparing as much as just learning from each other.

In this spirit I will share my retirement update in hopes that you too will be inspired to take a look at where you are and where you want to be (if you need help this is one of my favorite retirement calculators). I make it a point to assess my path to retirement at least 2 times per year. Once around the New Year (that's this one) and once again at the end of the fiscal year when P&G contributes to my retirement.

From what I see - my peer group in general (Gen-X'ers) are avid savers for retirement, while Gen-Y'ers are planning to save fore retirement.... someday...
NET - the sooner you start the better!

I used the above mentioned calculator to determine how much money I would need to:
1) Retire at 55 (which is aggressive - now most people retire at 65, if at all!)
2) Continue our current lifestyle (spending) at retirement (inflation adjusted)
3) Have the retirement funds last until I am 85 (life expectancy estimate) - probably should have used 90 since Meghan is younger than me, but 25 years it a long lever arm. (also note that some calculators don't let you use them if you are under 40, that is just being lazy and poor programming. Of course people under 40 think about retirement now, you have to since the end of the pension era!)

3% annual inflation rate
8% annual appreciation before and after retirement (see S&P 500)

So I graphed the savings curve predicted if one starting saving at 23 and retired at 55 with our desired retirement income - and then added our current retirement savings. I have removed all dollar values because people are uncomfortable about this stuff (which makes me uncomfortable blogging it!) but the net of it is the amount you need to save for retirement is always a lot more than you'd expect before you start looking into this stuff! The results are below.

I have to say that when I did this exercise I was shocked. As you can see it looks like Meghan and I are "on-track". However I always thought I was an over-zealous saver for retirement, especially since I started saving from the 1st day I started working. Before getting married and having a house I was extremely aggressive in saving for retirement, so I had hoped I would be in better shape.

In fact this exercise really started to bug me, so I had to reconcile in my head what was going on. So I next took my current retirement savings and current contributions and plotted their expected growth and got the plot below.

This plot made me feel a little better, and again pointed out how complicated this stuff is. It shows that at our current savings rate with 8% return per year that we are projected to be ahead of the curve!

I don't think the human mind is very well equipped to fully grasp exponential relationships. Is that why Einstein is supposedly quoted as saying "compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe."

So what does it all mean?
Well - the truth is somewhere in-between. I don't think we will be on the maroon curve because it implies that we continue to save for retirement at our current rate, but that is unlikely for the following reasons:
1) I just bought a car and have a car payment again after not having one.
2) We hope to have kids someday, and those darn things are expensive!
3) This also implies that P&G will contribute to my retirement until I am 55, which means I would continue to work there for another 25 years. I'm not saying it won't happen - I know people at P&G who do it all the time, but that sounds like a long time! 25 more years! I don't know how anyone does it for that long! I'm just hoping for a good OJP job in 2008 (I am changing assignments).

I am hoping to stay ahead of the green curve so I can retire at 55, but if that doesn't work out, working until 65 would exponentially help matters (10 more years of savings, 10 less years of retirement funds needed). Also Meghan and I have a good attitude of balancing saving for retirement with enjoying spending some money today. I remember when I worked on Pantene there always was a big debate with one specific manager about how wasteful a week of gambling in Vegas was, and how he'd never do it (he was on the deferred life plan - where you sacrifice today in hopes of enjoying what you want somewhere down the road). There really isn't a good financial reason to spend a week gambling in Vegas, but there are a lot of great times and great memories to he had (like collecting on the spoon bet!) if you budget for it.

My wish for anyone who took the time to make it through this long blog - have a prosperous 2008 and I hope your retirement plans either begin in 2008 or are re-energized because of this post!

PS - Just for fun I have attached the "retire at 65" savings curve. It's almost unfathomable how much leeway it gives you by working an extra 10 years!

Happy Retirement!