Archive for September, 2011

Well, I’m married now

Yep.  I’m married now.  Occurred this past weekend.

You know, one thing people said that was that the wedding day happens so fast that you don’t remember anything about it.  While it does happen quickly, i.e., stuff moves on schedule with little breaks in-between, I still remember a lot about that particular day.

But in case I don’t remember anything later on, I’m going to write what I do remember in this blog post:

  • I got up around 7:30 am, showered, and then had breakfast. I poked around a bit and then got in my car and headed down to the church for 9 am.

  • I got to the church and set up a few things including the basket in which to collect cards/gifts (which doubles as my magic props suitcase) and then wandered around for a bit, waiting for people to show up.

  • The make up girl arrived before anyone else, so I had some anti-shiney-stuff put onto my face so it wouldn’t reflect in all of the photos.

  • Speaking of photos, the other groomsmen arrived and had their make up put on, and while we were waiting for the other half of the bridal party, we went outside and had our pictures taken with the rest of the groomsmen.  The bride and her bridesmaids came by about 10 minutes before the service started and we took as many pictures as we could, but we didn’t get them all done.  We were going to have to take a few more after the service.

  • We were waiting around in the lobby for a couple of minutes and the girl who did the opening announcement made everyone in the audience laugh.  I couldn’t really here what was being said but it was nice to see everyone laugh like that.  Finally, the party started to walk in.  It was at this point that I got a little bit nervous.  But as soon as I got to the front and watched the bridesmaids come in, the nerves vanished.

  • We went through the ceremony, biblical passages were read and then the pastor gave a brief sermon.  I have to be honest here, I wasn’t really paying close attention.  I just couldn’t focus.  Oh, well.

  • I put the ring on the wife’s finger and then kissed the bride.  At this point, the exit music that we had discussed the previous day began to play and I strutted down the aisle, exiting as everyone cheered.  As I got to the back of the church, they told me that we weren’t done yet and I had to go back.  Rather than take a look around and see if that were true, I made a split second decision to continue strutting like it was all part of the plan.  It wasn’t, but it sure looked that way.  But I can hardly be blamed; the music playing was my cue to exit.
  • We went through this a couple of times more and finally I was allowed to exit from the front, at which point I once again strutted down the aisle.  We immediately met up and signed the wedding papers and exited the back of the church to finish off pictures.

  • After we finished pictures, we noticed that pretty much everyone had left the church (they did wait around for a bit but were told that we would meet them at the reception).  This was disappointing because we had hoped to have a receiving line.  Oh, well, it was a time constraint.  When you have a wedding on short notice and the day was as compressed as ours was, sacrifices had to be made.

More in my next post…

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And so the great exodus begins

When the beta wife and I first started planning invitations, we were told that only 80% of the people we invited would show up and therefore we could “over-invite”.  That turned out to be entirely wrong because 100% of the people we invited in the Seattle area said yes.

However, where it has started to even out is the amount of people who are subsequently backing out.  I’ve heard estimates that 10% of the people wouldn’t come… and that is turning out correct.

I’m not sure what to do with that information.  Do we invite more people to make up the difference (since we already paid for their seats at the reception)?  Or do we say “Meh, we still have a lot of other people coming?”

Not sure what to opt for here.

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I have gotten some rather fortunate luck come my way through no effort of my own.  Credit is being given to me where it is not deserved.  But hey, I’ll take it!

My beta wife’s mother thinks that I have given her flowers on a couple of occasions. This is only partially true.  Apparently I gave her an orchid last Christmas (2010) because she mentioned to the beta wife sometime a few weeks ago that I had done so.

“What?” I asked.  “I don’t recall doing this.”

Both of us searched through our memory banks but neither of us recall me doing this.  What may have happened is my beta wife had one (or bought one?) and gave it to me to hold in the car, and when I got out of the car and entered her parents’ place around Christmas time, I handed it to her mom.  Thus, her mom did receive it from me although I was not the originator of the gift.

But hey, I’ll take credit for it.

Fast forward to this past week and the beta wife’s co-workers threw her a wedding shower.  They gave her a bunch of flowers in a vase, and last night we visited her parents’ place for dinner.  I was given the vase of flowers on the ride over there, and once again I walked in the door and claimed I had a present for the beta wife’s mother.  And once again, I now have credit for giving her something even though it is technically true although I am not the originator.

But once again, I will take credit for it.  Or rather, I will not give the credit back unless specifically requested (I’m still not entirely sure that I am indeed fully getting the credit… but I’m not going to bring up that awkward conversation).

I’ll take all the brownie points I can earn.

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A few weeks ago, I said on our website that we were not going to do party favors at our wedding between myself and the beta wife.  Instead, we planned to give $5 to charity for every person that attended.  Since we have ~150 people coming, that’s $750.

I’m pleased to announce that I have now completed that goal and even exceeded it.  Rather than giving $750, I have given $1000. The one to Doctors Without Borders was put on my credit card so I still have to pay the bill, but that will occur in the next few days.  Furthermore, I will log on to my employer’s website and get them to match the donation.

Below are the screenshots of the payments:




Isn’t that so much better than party favors?  I think it is.

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Recently, I picked up Ken Fisher’s book The Ten Roads to Riches.  Fisher runs Fisher Investments and has been writing a column in Forbes magazine for over 25 years.  He’s also on the Forbes 400 list as one of the richest people in the United States, with a net worth of somewhere between $1 billion and $2 billion, and is a financial manager.  Because he is so successful, he is someone with credibility who I should listen to (free advice to anyone: if anyone gives you financial advice, you should only consider following it if they are more financially successful than you or have way more experience doing something than you do).

The book is an entertaining book but the one chapter I focused on is the last one because that’s the road that I am going to follow that leads to my riches – Save and Invest Wisely.

Fisher has a formula for determining how much money you need to retire with.  He advises clients to withdraw a maximum of 4% of their retirement portfolio per year in retirement.  So, if you have $100,000, 4% of that is $4000/year.  This is to keep pace with inflation and making sure your balance doesn’t go to zero (i.e., when you withdraw money, the market will keep going up so you will replenish what you withdraw and even if you don’t, you will most likely outlive your withdrawals).

Let’s assume that you want to live on $50,000/year.  This sounds high but remember while your living expenses go down as you get older when you pay off your mortgage, your medical expenses will go up.  But what about inflation?  How much in tomorrow’s dollars will you need to live on equivalent of $50,000 today?

The mathematical formula for that is the following:


If your time window is 30 years (n) and the rate of inflation, i, is 3% (which is the historical average, then plugging those numbers into the above equation (Present Value = 50,000), then you would need $121,363/year to live on.

How much do you need to save up in order to live on that?  Well, if you only withdraw 4% per year, then you need:


All you need to do is save $3 million.


Calm down, it’s not as bad as it sounds.  You need to take advantage of compound interest.  If the market’s average rate of return is 9.9%, and you want to live on $50,000 in today’s dollars per year, in 30 years, the formula for how much you need to save is the following:


Using the above numbers, your payment PMT is $18,797 per year, or $1566 per month.

Unfortunately, $18,797 per year sounds like a lot of money to save and invest per year.  It is.  That’s why you have to be very aggressive about your savings and investment plan or make different assumptions about how you want to live in retirement. 

But at least now you can’t say you weren’t warned.

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Where was I ten years ago?

Today is the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the United States (in the US and Canada we say 9/11 and the notation is month/year, but the rest of the world says year/month which is why I say Sept 11, not 9/11).  Other people have been posting where they were during the attacks that day, almost like my generation’s version of the JFK assassination.

I was living in England at the time.  I had been informed, along with the rest of my team, that I was laid off, effective at the end of September 2001.  I was on a train ride home from a job interview in the town of Oxford.  I didn’t have a cell phone at the time.  But I was on the train and the guy in front of me got a phone call and I could kind of overhear it.  He answered it and I didn’t hear everything, but I could hear his reaction.  Something awful had happened, and he was saying things like “Oh, that’s terrible!  I can’t believe that happened!  How horrible!”  It sounded pretty serious.  I remember thinking that it did not sound like a personal tragedy like a family member dying, but instead something far worse.

I got home but I didn’t turn on the TV right away.  Instead, I went to the post office to pick up a package of new magic supplies that I had ordered a few days before.  I went to the office, picked it up, brought it home and began to finagle with it.

After a bit of time, I remembered the phone call and turned on the TV.  There, on every channel, was footage of what was going on in the US that day.  I was stunned, I just watched it over and over and over again.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

I don’t remember much else from that day, but I definitely remember that train ride and hearing the guy pick up his phone and expressing horror at what had just transpired.

I remember that part clearly to this day.

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My beta wife has the most strange perspectives.

She goes hiking all the time and drags me along.  A couple of weeks ago we went on a ~9 mile hike where the elevation gain was 3800 feet.  I don’t care who you are, that’s a difficult hike.  Here’s me at the top, exhausted:


Yet the beta wife wasn’t feeling that bad at all, it’s generally me who has to ask for all of the breaks on all of these traverses.

Furthermore, she goes on vacations for the express purpose of going hiking every day or nearly every day.  When we went up to Vancouver last year in late 2010 (I had a conference, she tagged along), she would go on 10-15 mile treks.

Combining all of this, it makes her a hardcore hiker.

But the part that puzzles me is the following:

  • The fact that she takes the elevator at work.  To up one single flight of stairs.  It is “too long” (and I quote) to walk around or take the stairs.
  • When I said I needed to go to the dry cleaners to pick up some clothes I dropped off there, and that I wanted to walk (it’s not even a quarter mile – all flat) she asked me “Can’t we drive?  It’s so far!
  • Today we were at a shopping store (Target) and needed to cross the parking lot to go to the next store to get some stuff (Fred Meyer).  I asked if she wanted to walk there, maybe 200 feet.  Taken completely aback, she was surprised I would even pose the question and insisted we drive over.

So let me get this straight – a 10 mile hike is perfectly acceptable, but a 500 foot walk (on flat terrain) is too far?

I don’t get it.

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