Tim Russert… In Memoriam

13 Jun

Seth: I was shocked to get an email today that Tim Russert, host of Meet The Press died today. He collapsed while recording voiceovers for Sunday’s episode of the show. At 58, Mr. Russert was a young guy, and to my knowledge there was no previous illness that predicted his death.

Immediately, I compared his death to the death of Peter Jennings in 2005. Shortly before his death, he announced he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Mr. Jennings anchored ABC World News from 1983 to 2005 and before that was a international correspondent for that network. Growing up, I can remember watching him on television every evening while my family ate dinner. My experience with Mr. Russert is different. In the latter years of high school and college when I began to develop an interest in the world and politics, Meet the Press was a show that I tried to catch every Sunday before church. I could always be sure that he would have all the latest news, plus items that had not yet been broken. I remember in 2006 when Bob Casey was running against Rick Santorum for the U.S. Senate, Mr. Russert understood this was not a typical Senate race, and had them debate on his show. Casey went on to win the election by a large margin, the first Democrat to win a one of Pennsylvania’s Senate seats since 1962.

Mr. Russert had a commanding presence, not because of his physical size, but because of the journalistic image he emitted. Opposed to a Bill O’Reilly, Keith Olbermann or even Chris Matthews who at times all seem to be newsmakers with their overbearing personalities, with Mr. Russert, the news was always the focus. And with the absence of Jennings, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw, Mr. Russert seemed to be one of the personalities primed to help fill that void. Like Peter Jennings, I trusted Mr. Russert to deliver the unbiased news. His death will certainly leave a void in journalism, one certainly not easily replaced in today’s dearth of true journalists.

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Ray’s Pearls of Wisdom

12 Jun

Seth: Ray says, “Don’t eat cheese at all on the same day that you’re supposed to fly. You will accidentally cause a terrorist attack via biological weapon.”

Check back soon for more of Ray’s Pearls of Wisdom.

Remember When Ray Was on Wheel of Fortune?

12 Jun

Ray: How come nobody believes me? I found this on some gameshow website and this pretty much sums it up:

Wheel of Fortune by Jason Block, GSNN

Air time: Check local listings or wheeloffortune.com
Hosts: Pat Sajak & Vanna White
Here we go…midweek edition of TGIF Week on WOF!

The $1,000 Tossup is EVENT. Pam Platt, a 5th Grade Teacher from Luck, WI, solved SOLVING A MYSTERY. Raysean Hogan is a student at Temple in Philly who is the Student Body president. Kim Egloft is from South Carolina. She has 20 yr old twins…one in the US Army.

The $2,000 Tossup is PEOPLE. Raysean misses and Kim solves ANIMAL LOVERS for $2,000. Kim wants to start really bad, but we add a trip to my hometown, NYC from Last Minute Travel.com and tickets to a Broadway show from Ticketsnow.com worth $4,900. The category is BEFORE & AFTER. Kim misses…Pam hits Lose A Turn and Raysean has the wheel. He misses a vowel…back to Kim who misses…Pam has it. She solves MEN IN BLACK BEAN CHILI for $2,750. She has $3,750.

The jackpot round is sponsored by Eggland’s Best Eggs. The category is THING…and a PRIZE PUZZLE. Pam starts. She hits the BBQ Galore $1,000 Gift Tag. She misses…over to Raysean who hits Bankrupt. Over to Kim who misses…and Pam hits a $3,500 letter. She solves ANCIENT MYTHOLOGY for $5,500. And she can see all the myths on her trip to Greece! It’s an Athens trip from Last Minute Travel.com worth $4,500! If you have the SPIN ID of MT05828 you are off to Greece! And if you have the SONY CARD, you have $50,000! That round was worth $11,000 and she has $14,750 in cash and prizes!

The mystery round prize is a PriceGrabber.com $10,000 shopping spree. The category is SHOW BIZ. Raysean starts. He misses. Over to Kim…she hits the mystery wedge…will she risk the $2,000…and she hits Bankrupt. Over to Pam. She hits Bankrupt. Over to Raysean…who hits the trip to NY…next Spin…Bankrupt. Over to Pam. She hits Lose A Turn…over to red hot Pam. She hits 2 $3,500 M’s and solves HIT TV MEDICAL DRAMA HOUSE for $8,600. She has $23,350 in cash and prizes.

The $3,000 Tossup is PHRASE. Raysean prevents his gooseegg with SAY IT ISN’T SO. The category is ON THE MAP. He starts. He hits a $5,000 H. He misses on another $5,000 Spin..over to Kim. …she misses….FINAL SPIN TIME…$1,300 a letter. Raysean makes up for his bad luck on the wheel with THE POTOMAC RIVER for $9,600. He leaves with $12,600. Kim leaves with $2,000. But Pam from Luck has good luck with $23,350 in cash and prizes for the win!

Can the teacher from Luck continue her winning ways? She lands on the C in CASH. Her category tonight is PERSON. With the RSTLNE and her choices of M B J A and we have:

_ _ _ _ _
S T _ _ _

This was a tough one. It was QUICK STUDY. And we didn’t give away the Solstice for the 2nd time this week. But she leaves with $23,350 in cash and prizes.

Total for today: $37,950
Total for Week 2: $134,264
Total for the Season: $426,964
Bonus Win Percentage: 5/8
Gooseeggs: 3
Mystery Round Prizes won: 1

Taxes Part 2 – Can a Flat Rate Actually Work?

11 Jun

Ray: As Seth and many other people know, I am very passionate when it comes to the subject of taxes. It’s not that I hate taxes; I just want to be taxed fairly and efficiently. I don’t understand high taxes and extremely large government. I just don’t. Anyhow, here’s a clip from Hannity and Colmes of the Fox News Network. Please check it out and form your own opinion:

Tom Perkins and The Maltese Falcon

11 Jun

Seth: Tom Perkins is an American venture capitalist who has made a name and quite a bit of money in the technology arena. Although he earned a degree in engineering from MIT, his true expertise is in business (Harvard MBA). He’s been crucial to the success and growth of HP since the he started there in the late 50s until he resigned from the Board of Directors there in 2006. During that same time he also undertook many other business ventures. One of those is Genentech, a bio-tech firm that he initially invested $250,000 in and came out with somewhere near $2 million. I highly recommend you pick up his autobiography Valley Boy. I’m reading it now, and not only is it a page-turner, it offers spectacular insight into the backgrounds of some of the most important technological developments of the last fifty years.

Like I said the man made quite a bit of money. Using a bit of that money, he built The Maltese Falcon. The Maltese Falcon is a clipper-style yacht that surpasses almost all private vessels in both luxury and technology. I first learned about this during a segment on 60 Minutes, and it is a fascinating boat. At 88 meters, it is the one of the largest privately-owned sailing yachts in the world; only two bigger exist. Most yachts are about 9-15 meters in length. It is built as a clipper (fast sailing ship) and has won the only regatta entered: the Perini Cup races.

On the 60 minutes segment, Mr. Perkins stated the typical luxury yacht costs about $1 million per meter. At 88 meters the Falcon costs about $88 million, right? Wrong. Try somewhere between 150 and 200 million. Mr. Perkins isn’t telling the exact figure, but it is currently listed for sale at $181,240,000 USD. It’s worth every penny, too. It has space for 12 guests, plus 4 staff including a gourmet chef for their needs. That doesn’t include another 4 cabins for ship’s crew. Some pictures:

Service for 10

Master Suite

Cockpit

There’s the luxury. It’s also at the forefront of technology. It could be run totally by one person. If you know anything about boating, you know what an incredible feat that is. If you don’t, just look at any of the Pirates of the Carribean movies and you will get an idea of the amount of crew members necessary to operate a ship. The ship is totally computerized, the masts and sails are automated, so they rotate according to necessity. The sails furl into the masts with the touch of a button (the big poles that go in the air) and there are also a lot of other technical things that I don’t even understand. Your best bet is to go to the website of the ship.

While there, check out the plans for the deep flight submarine. The idea for the sub is that it will fly through the water like a jet plane through the air (think rolls and loops). It will even be able to jump out of the water like a dolphin. The sub will be stored on the yacht. See more details and pics here.

This yacht isn’t simply an example of American greed and gaudiness, rather it represents the pinnacle of ingenuity and innovation. It’s more fascinating than words and pictures can show. In fact, although the video I saw gives viewers a much greater idea, it does not do justice to fully convey the nature of this boat. Ray, get your money up to cop this if you really want a challenge.

The Basics of Creating Wealth – Passive Income

10 Jun

Ray: The Bible says that, “A fool and his gold are soon separated.” That’s very true. All of us have done some foolish things with our money which have caused us to permanently separate from it. I know this because we all make mistakes. So I’ve decided to share a bit of knowledge about the power of wealth and how wealth can be obtained so that you won’t have to repeat the same mistakes again.

I would like to start by defining wealth and the reasons why so many seek to obtain it. Merriam-Webster defines wealth as an “abundance of valuable material possessions or resources.” To the average Joe, wealth usually means the possession of a great sum of money which can eliminate many problems associated with being broke or living from paycheck to paycheck.

But, allow me to introduce a different definition of wealth that many people agree with. Wealth, as I understand it, is being able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle using income that is generated with little or no work. Someone might say that’s obvious because if you were a millionaire then you wouldn’t have to work in order to sustain a comfortable lifestyle. Well, maybe.

I propose that you don’t have to be a millionaire in order to be wealthy. You simply have to have enough passive income to cover your living expenses. Passive Income is income derived from business investments in which the individual is not actively involved. This means that you are generating money whether you work or not.

There are countless ways to develop passive income. One of the more popular ways is to receive rental income from owning real state. You invest your money by purchasing a property and passively receive income from someone you rent it to. People also receive passive income from buying securities and owning businesses. I’ll get into more detail about those things at another time.

For now, it’s just important that you understand the power of passive income because this is probably the biggest component to establishing wealth. Build your understanding of passive income by thinking about different people who receive it as well as the different ways that you can receive it yourself.

While understanding that developing passive income is crucial to establishing wealth, it’s also equally important to understand the danger of passive expenses. Passive Expenses are expenses that derive from purchases or acquisitions that accumulate even when the individual is not actively involved. Common examples of passive expenses are house notes, car payments, cell phone bills, and cable bills. While some passive expenses must be obtained in order to buy investments, you should always be careful to avoid accumulating necessary passive expenses whenever possible. By doing so, you will be able to save and invest more money which will add to your accumulation of wealth.

At the end of the day, your goal is have far more money coming in than the amount of money going out. When your passive income becomes enough to pay for all of your expenses and still still leave you with money to save, then you have created wealth. How wealthy you become depends on how much money you are able to generate.

I read somewhere that Oprah Winfrey collects about 222 checks every month. How many streams of income can you create? Challenge yourself and grow wealthy.

The Usefulness of Useless Information

9 Jun

Seth: We all know of the ills of formal education, especially when we are required to learn and test well on subjects that we consider irrelevant to our life course. Chief among these is high school math. I am talking about basic algebra, geometry, calculus, and so on. I have a college degree and a job, and I can’t remember the last time outside of a high school math class that I have needed to multiply fractions. Yesterday, I inadvertently discovered the sole useful application of that knowledge: helping those who are currently studying those same useless subjects.

I received a call from a friend asking about the mathematical equation y=mx + b. I was able to identify this as the formula commonly used to derive the slope (m) of a line. I knew that y and x were coordinates for a point on the line, but couldn’t remember what bwas. With the help of the Internet, I was able to inform my friend, who turned out to be tutoring a high school student.

Thus, I have determined that the only proper use of this knowledge is to pass it on to others. It’s like the proverbial Christmas fruit cake that is given as a gift to one person, whose only option for the baked good is to give it to someone else, initiating a “re-gifting” cycle that never ends. The only difference is any knowledge, useful or not, is worthy to be passed on to another person without guilt or shame.

UPDATE: Ray brought it to my attention that I never explained what b is. In case you’re wondering, it is the y-intercept, the point at which the line crosses the y (vertical) axis.