Friday, August 22, 2008
By Alex Blagg
Now that he’s out of the pool, with no more races to win or records to break, Michael Phelps has a bit of a problem. Perched mightily atop the apex of modern athletic achievement, with the white hot light of International Superstardom now pointed directly at him, Phelps is in the unfamiliar position of having to perform for a worldwide audience by doing something other than that with which he’s most comfortable: swimming. And as anyone who’s ever had the mixed blessing of being “on top” of anything can tell you, the only place left to go is back down.
With a figure like Phelps, who has been so universally praised in the press, hailed as a hero by the millions of Americans who watched as he made history, and achieved a level of fame usually reserved for Jesus and Burt Reynolds in the 70’s, the eventual media backlash is inevitable - and our own jokey, superficial assessment of some his poorer fashion choices is just a toe dipped in the cesspool of cruel, insatiably hungry TMZ cameras and tabloid gossip monsters so eagerly awaiting his return stateside. As America’s love affair with Phelps finally begins to cool, his every move is going to be captured, scrutinized and criticized until the modern media has managed to mold and shape him into whatever story arc they ultimately choose for him (hint: it will be whichever one proves most profitable). He hasn’t even gotten back from Beijing yet and fame-baggage such as cereal box scandals and the rumored lust of Lindsay Lohan have already managed to enter his sphere of orbit. Only time can tell what will ultimately become of Michael Phelps, but for the sake of speculation, here are five possible futures he could be facing, as demonstrated by legendary swimmers of Olympics past.
Option 1: Become A Pseduo-Celebrity
Role Models: The most obvious comparison - and one Phelps himself has been complicit in making with his Sports Illustrated cover homage - is with 70’s swimming icon Mark Spitz. After setting 7 world records at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Spitz returned to lucrative endorsement deals and the enthusiastic courtship of the fickle folks in Hollywood, due as much to his movie star looks as his world champ status, a fact about which he himself once bragged publicly. However, the Golden Boy image and swingin’ 70’s style couldn’t make up for his spectacular inability to act, and the film and TV offers soon gave way to the occasional bit part and sports broadcasting gig. These days he mostly does commercials and talks about swimming. Bruce Jenner - while not a swimmer, but a decathlete - could also provide a potential cautionary tale as someone whose Olympic achievements were ultimately eclipsed by an unfortunate appearance in the Village People biopic Can’t Stop The Music, giving birth to Brody Jenner, and becoming the standing patriarch of the Kim Kardashian Klan.
How Phelps Could Achieve This: In today’s celebrity-centric media landscape, this seems to be the path most easily and obviously taken by Phelps. Today it’s the cover of the Frosted Flakes box and text messaging with Lindsay Lohan, final stop: I Love Money: Season Four and Phelps-brand swimming floaties.
Read the rest, after the jump!
2. Become A Bonafide Movie Star
Role Models: After retiring from swimming in 1928 with five Olympic gold metals, Johnny Weissmuller went on to become a major movie star, making more than ten successful films in the titular role of Tarzan, then going on to star in another successful film franchise with Jungle Jim. While never nominated come Oscar time, Weissmuller managed to maintain a productive and profitable career in Hollywood for decades to came.
How Phelps Could Achieve This: Unless there’s a great thespian hiding in that freakishly elongated torso of his, Phelps had better hope that - like Weissmuller - Hollywood can find for him a role whose acting demands amount to grunting, yelling and beating his chest. Or that Brendan Fraser retires.
3. Become A Benign National Hero
Role Models: After retiring from professional swimming after winning three gold medals then placing 2nd to Johnny Weissmuller at the 1924 Olympics, Duke Kahanamoku went on to
became a national ambassador for swimming, then popularized the sport of surfing, which at that point was only known in his homeland of Hawaii. Duke once rescued eight capsized fishermen from drowning, using his surfboard to paddle back and forth to the shore, bringing survivors to safety. Lifeguards have utilized surf boards for rescue efforts ever since. Later in life, Kahanamoku served 13 consecutive terms as the Sheriff of Honolulu, Hawaii, where he is still regarded as a hero to this day.
How Phelps Could Achieve This: Considering his past DUI and the general lack of morality found among the famous in contemporary culture, this seems like a long shot. But his current heroic status could indeed be extended indefinitely if he did something truly spectacular, say invent some kind of new extreme watersport, then swim all the way to Afghanistan and arrest Osama Bin Laden?
4. Marry Rich
Role Models: Old-timey swimmer Charles Daniels - no, not the same guy who challenges Satan to fiddling competitions - won 5 gold medals between 1904 and 1908, all while rocking a full-length suit with shoulder straps and with pants down to the knees. Then he went on to marry Florence Goodyear, heiress to the Goodyear tire fortune, and likely spent the rest of his life lazying about by a pool.
How Phelps Could Achieve This: I’m sure Paris Hilton is available if he wants her, and together they could undoubtedly set records for worst additions to the gene pool.
5. Quietly Return To Civilian Bliss
Role Models: Upon winning 8 gold medals in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games, Matt Biondi took his Berkeley degree and moved to Kamuela, Hawaii, where he got married, had a kid, and now teaches math, U.S. History, personal excellence, and swimming at a small high school.
How Phelps Could Achieve This: Deeply examine the last couple years of Britney Spears’ life, then manage to arrive at the personal realization that sometimes its best to just take the money and run.
Posted by gjblass at 5:23 PM
Tell your friends you’re going backpacking in Southeast Asia and they may smirk at the suggestion you’re getting in touch with your spiritual side. But there’s another kind of inner peace you may discover, the kind that can only come from saving money while still having the time of your life.
Southeast Asia is beautiful, culturally rich and a place where its easy to live off of $20 or less a day. You won’t even feel guilty eating greasy street food–the cheapest way to dine–because you’ll burn off all the calories on the trail. Go now and you’ll avoid the crowds that come in peak season but still benefit from the cooler weather.
Your biggest expense will be the airfare—getting there can be pricey, but Cathay Pacific’s All Asia Pass gives you 21 days to fly to four destinations and starts at $1,199. Here are some of the hot spots included—and why they belong on your itinerary.
Mae Hong Son
This northwestern Thai mountain region draws fewer tourists than Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, but it still has everything a backpacker would need. You’ll find basic necessities like ATM machines and Internet cafes in the town of Mae Hong Son. Make this town or Pai your home base, but head to hill tribe villages for unforgettable culture and Thai food cooked fresh over an open fire. Hire a guide who can arrange your meals and campsites, or check into a Pai hotel for less than $30 a night and go on day hikes.
Peak season: November to April
Ho Chi Minh City
Hostels can cost as little as $10 a night in the city’s backpacker ghetto, Ngu Lao. Spend a day trekking the Cu Chi Tunnels, a piece of Vietnam War history outside Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), before getting out and going north along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Hop-on, hop-off buses cost about $20 to take you all the way to Hanoi. The one place you’ll want to make sure to get off the bus is Dalat valley. See coffee and silk being made, and take in waterfall views.
Peak season: November to March
This Cambodian city draws a slew of tourists gawking at French colonial architecture and learning grim Khmer Rouge history on the Killing Fields just outside the city. The real attraction is Angkor Wat (near Siem Reap); a spectacularly preserved temple that was first built as a Khmer castle in the 12th century and has served as religious center for both Hindus and Buddhists. The less spiritual among you may recognize the temple as the site used in the 2001 movie, Tomb Raider. Siem Reap is backpacker-friendly with a number of inexpensive restaurants, Internet cafes, and places to burn CDs of your trip photos. Hostels in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap cost $10 and up a night, while buses between the two are $5–10.
Currency: riel (US dollars are widely accepted in cities)
Peak season: October to June
Southeast Asia’s own Sin City is the ideal place to celebrate the end of your long trek. The Guardian ranked The Dome Bangkok’s best bar, and it’s true that the swank rooftop lounge is a good way to indulge. On the other end of the spectrum, you can kick back with a beer in the aptly named Cheap Charlie’s, a shack surrounded by massage parlors (I’m not here to judge). Rest your head at Bangkok Centre Sukumvit 25, touted as the world’s largest budget accommodation ($9 a night in a dorm-style room), close to all transportation and equipped with WiFi.
Peak season: April to August
Now that you have climbed Buddhist temple stairs, stood on the killing fields and partied in Bangkok, you can spread the word to all those smirky friends that backpacking in Southeast Asia isn’t just for college kids trying to find themselves. Or you may want to keep the information to yourself so it will still be affordable next time you go.
Posted by gjblass at 5:22 PM
In the environmental movement, every time you lose a battle it’s for good, but our victories always seem to be temporary and we keep fighting them over and over again.” David Suzuki.
Welcome to the world of reverse graffiti, where the artist’s weapons are cleaning materials and where the enemy is the elements: wind, rain, pollution and decay. It’s an art form that removes dust or dirt rather than adding paint. Some find it intriguing, beguiling, beautiful and imaginative, whereas others look upon it in much the same way as traditional graffiti – a complete lack of respect for the law. Reverse graffiti challenges ideals and perceptions while at the same time shapes and changes the environment in which we live, whether people think for the better, or not.
We thought we’d compile a collection of some of the most incredible works of reverse graffiti and the artists behind them for your viewing pleasure.
Posted by gjblass at 5:21 PM
By Lola Augustine Brown
Grab your love life by the collar and get out of the bedroom; there's a whole world of cheap thrills and naughty sex out there. So ditch the duvet and work your way through these 10 essential places to have sex before you die.
1. In the Car
The bigger the vehicle the more scope there is for sexual adventure, but if you don't drive a Bentley have no fear. You'd be surprised at how well you can get down in the most cramped spaces. Set the satellite navigation for the local lovers lane or secluded parking lot and start steaming up those windows.
2. In the Pool
The water rushes around your genitals making both of you feel different and more exciting. The buoyancy allows great thrusting with minimum effort, and orgasm is reached with ease as the water relaxes and soothes. You can take it slow or reenact one of the steamy scenes in Showgirls. Beware as water may kill the natural lube and make entry a little difficult, but ultimately worth the effort. Aim for a hotel pool after dark rather than the local rec center unless you want a criminal record for your efforts.
3. The Cinema
It's what art films were made for, so go really late to a sexy film and choose a secluded spot. Knowing that no one can see you back there invites naughtiness. Thing is, can you cope with the shame of being caught in the beam of a torch wielded by an awkward, acne-ridden teenager suffering from a bad case of girlfriend envy?
4. Back of a Cab
Why wait until you get home? You managed to haul your drunken asses into a cab. Slip the driver a crisp note and tell him to take the scenic route as you make full use of the spacious back seat. So long as you can handle the cabbie getting his kicks as you get yours, fun for all parties ensues.
5. On a Train
Watch Risky Business for some foreplay inspiration then book two tickets on the A train to O. Find a secluded train, wait for the carriage to empty then get frisky to the swaying motion. Booking a night in a sleeper car is the less risky option for fulfilling this particular fantasy, but in essence you're still doing it aboard.
6. In the Woods
Show your appreciation for the beautiful countryside around you and get your kicks al fresco. Bend your girlfriend over a stump for earthy pleasures and let your mating call resonate through the trees. Just watch out for stinging nettles, Army reservists and rambling church groups, all instant passion killers.
7. In a Nightclub
For those times when you've met a horny new lover and all that bumping and grinding has left you both a hot mess, the average nightclub has a number of options for near-public sex. The washrooms, provided you can both sneak into one of the booths, are prime spots for a tempting splash of oral sex before going home to really explore each other's bodies. If you find a booth in a dark corner, a long skirt and an open fly can disguise all kinds of mischief.
8. On a Boat
Provided you've got your sea legs, the motion in the ocean is a chilled-out aphrodisiac. A small vessel is preferable to the cross-channel ferry (the bunks are too narrow). Slowly rocking into the sunset and diving off the side to cool off afterwards: pure bliss.
9. A Mile High
Defying the laws of physics to get two people in an airline lavatory truly marks you out as a sexual pro. Positioning is limited but rear entry is possible and promises a high chance of success. Virgin Atlantic has the most spacious toilets and even used to offer a bed for transatlantic sky-high action, but other airlines are not so sympathetic to passion. Make sure to give that proud smile as you walk back to your seat.
10. On the Beach
The crashing of waves, stars twinkling above and hot blood coursing through your veins -- what a potion for romance. So drop down and get it on as you sink into the sand. Take a blanket for maximum comfort, and be prepared to be scratching sand out of every crevice for the next few nights.
Posted by gjblass at 5:19 PM
This is a High-Definition 360 degree picture of the Bird's Nest.....Absolutely Amazing.
Posted by gjblass at 4:34 PM
HOUSTON — Hennessey Performance Engineering (HPE) is in the midst of developing the first tuner-modified version of Dodge's new Challenger SRT8. At least this is the first modified new Challenger Inside Line has seen that actually appears to be up and running on the road. And it's definitely the only new Challenger we've seen sporting a Garrett ball-bearing turbocharger. Hennessey is calling it the HPE600 Turbo. That's "600" as in a claimed 620 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of peak torque.
Starting with a Challenger SRT8, Hennessey polishes the 6.1-liter Hemi V8's cylinder heads and drops the compression ratio down from 10.3:1 to 9.6:1. Custom headers feed the big turbo that then pushes its charge through an air-to-air intercooler and back into the engine. Oversize fuel injectors keep the combustion chambers full of high-octane go-juice while a 3-inch-diameter stainless-steel dual-exhaust system handles waste gases. Combine that power with a set of Nitto rear drag radials and, Hennessey says, the car will steam down the quarter-mile in 11.9 seconds at 121 mph after a conservative launch.
If nothing else, however, the Hennessey Challenger is also a looker. Hennessey-branded 20-inch deep-dish five-spoke wheels add some classic muscle flavor while the "hockey stick" graphics push that over the top. Hennessey also lowers the car a bit and upgrades with the brakes with StopTech components.
Currently HPE is working out various bugs in the five-speed automatic transmission to get the combination just right. Once they've done that, however, they've promised the car will immediately land in Inside Line's greedy mitts, so look for a full test in the near future.
What this means to you: Even with gas at four bucks a gallon, there's still room in the world for hot rods.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 3:47 PM
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices plummeted Friday, erasing the previous session's spike, as the dollar strengthened and investors worried that a decline in demand will spread outside the United States.
U.S. crude for October delivery dropped $6.59 to settle at $114.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The drop in oil was the largest single-day slide in dollar terms since Jan. 17, 1991, when oil fell by $10.56. On that day, President George H.W. Bush withdrew oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve ahead of the first Gulf War.
But in 1991, oil was trading at just $32 a barrel, so the more than $10 slide in dollar terms represented a record 33% drop. Oil fell 5.4% Tuesday, which does not even crack the top 50 price declines in percentage terms.
Oil's second-largest slide on Friday comes a day after the second-largest gain on record. Crude futures soared $5.62 a barrel Thursday to rise above $121 a barrel.
"We're trending towards a lot of oil price volatility on the direction of the dollar," said Peter Beutel, an oil analyst with Cameron Hanover. "There are huge amounts of money involved, and the large moves have been based primarily on dollar strength."
Dollar rebounds: The dollar rose after a key measurement showed British economic growth stalled in the second quarter.
The U.K.'s gross domestic product between April and June showed zero growth, the country's statistics office reported Friday.
The economic weakness in Britain signaled that falling demand for oil due to high fuel prices could spread to Europe, according to Kyle Cooper, director of research with IAF Advisors in Houston.
"Fewer trucks delivering packages, fewer people going to work ... There's a very strong correlation between GDP growth and oil usage," said Cooper.
The U.K. report follows other reports this week showing weakness in the euro zone and Japanese economies, putting U.S. investment - and the dollar - in a more favorable light.
A stronger dollar makes crude more expensive for foreign investors, because crude futures are traded in U.S. currency. Rising dollar values also pull investor money out of oil, since many use crude and other commodities as a hedge against inflation.
Georgia-Russia: Oil rose Thursday on tensions between NATO and Russia over the nation's occupation of Georgia. Georgia contains several vital pipeline links that carry crude oil and natural gas between Europe and Asia.
But those tensions appeared to ease Friday.
"There was the potential for some type of action across the Georgian border and we just haven't seen anything," said Neal Dingmann, senior energy analyst with Dahlman Rose & Co.
Also easing supply worries, a BP-led consortium prepared to resume oil flow through the region's Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, a major oil link between Turkey and the Caspian Sea.
"We're still integrity testing," said BP spokesman Toby Odone, "We expect it will be back in normal operation next week."
U.S. gasoline demand: Falling demand for petroleum-based fuels in the United States has been the main force behind oil's fall from a record high of $147.27 in mid-July.
Demand for gasoline last week was about 9.5 million barrels a day, or 1.6% lower than it was last year, according to an Energy Department inventory report released Wednesday.
Drivers were also spending less time on the road in June, according to a second report from the Transportation Department last week.
Drivers will even cut back over the Labor Day weekend, according to a projection from motorist group AAA. The number of travelers avoiding cars and air travel, and using buses, trains, or other transportation will increase by 12.5% this year, AAA said.
National gasoline prices are down more than 42 cents a gallon from the record high set last month, according to the AAA's daily survey of service stations, falling below $3.70 a gallon.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 3:17 PM
HORI, Switzerland — Sportec, the Swiss Porsche specialist, has introduced the SP750, its range-topping performance upgrade for the Porsche 911 GT2. In fact, Sportec offers several stages of tune for the GT2.
The SP750 is so-called because Sportec's kit for the twin-turbo 3.6-liter flat-6 engine kicks output to 750 PS, or 740 horsepower, with torque climbing to 627 pound-feet.
Sportec has reprogrammed the ECU and fitted more potent turbochargers and larger intercoolers, along with other internal engine mods, including titanium connecting rods and sport cams. A high-performance exhaust system includes high-flow catalytic converters and twin tailpipes. The company claims 0-60 acceleration takes less than 3.2 seconds, while top speed jumps to 217 mph.
The SP750 also gets a reinforced clutch kit and rides on Sportec SPR alloy wheels, available in polished or anthracite finishes, with Michelin Pilot Sport tires — 245/30ZR20 front, 325/25ZR20 rear.
Additional hardware enhancements include upgraded suspension and brakes, as well as revised aerodynamic bits. An aluminum pedal set, velour floor mats and a choice of leather or Alcantara upholstery and trim are among the interior appointments.
If that's just too much oomph, you can start with a Phase 1 upgrade: 599 hp and 586 lb-ft, with 0-60 acceleration in less than 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 210 mph. The next Phase kit will kick things up to 646 hp and 586 lb-ft, with the 0-60 sprint dropping to less than 3.3 seconds and top speed swelling to 214 mph.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 12:57 PM
Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2008
By Jack Bettridge
The spirit was born of the idea that gin had been saddled with an image of being a drink for a bygone generation, and if that stereotype could be overturned, young people would be more comfortable ordering it. The partners attacked the challenge not only through youthful marketing, but by conceiving gin anew. They did this by dialing back the scope and intensity of flavors, edging toward the profile of vodka, which is the world's most popular spirit.
It's a canny notion, if you consider that gin is essentially the first flavored vodka, beginning life as a neutral grain spirit and then being infused with botanicals. The lightening of the flavor profile makes the beverage more accessible to the first-time gin drinker. We found it refreshing on its own and in a dry Martini. However, the gin is not as amiable a match with tonic or in a wetter Martini as the mixers tend to overpower the spirit.
DH Krahn has fewer of the botanicals that typically flavor gin, concentrating on Italian juniper (the signature flavor for which gin is named), Moroccan coriander seed, Thai ginger and orange, lemon and grapefruit peel. (Classic gins may include such botanicals as anise, angelica root, orris seed, cassia bark and almond.) The result is a gin that is less complex than such well-known brands as Bombay, Plymouth and Tanqueray, with an emphasis on citrus.
DH Krahn is distilled in one run in a copper alembic still built by Jean-Louis Stupfler, a Bordeaux-based maker of alembics frequently used in distilling Cognac and Armagnac. Like a pot still, the alembic can only be run one batch at a time, which limits the quantities that can be produced. Many gins are distilled in continuously running column stills, which need not be shut down.
Nose: Lemon, clean, bright almost soapy fresh
Palate: Dialed juniper, citrus, rock candy notes, but not cloyingly sweet.
Finish: Sharp and tangy.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 12:53 PM
Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) plunged anew after Moody’s cut its ratings on the companies’ preferred stock, citing rising losses and the possibility of a government bailout of the government-sponsored mortgage finance companies. Fannie Mae, the better capitalized of the two, fell 7%, while smaller Freddie Mac plunged 17% in late morning New York trading.
Moody’s cut its outlook for the mortgage firms’ subordinated debt to negative from stable, whle cutting Fannie and Freddie’s bank financial strength ratings to D-plus from B-minus. That downgrade reflects the likelihood the firms will require “extraordinary financial assistance,” either from the government or shareholders. Last but not least, Moody’s affirmed Fannie and Freddie’s senior debt ratings.
“Given Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s importance to the U.S. mortgage market, we believe there is a very high level of support for their debt from the U.S. Treasury,” said Brian Harris, a Moody’s senior vice president. “And, given these [government-sponsored entities'] more limited ability to raise capital and grow their portfolio to accomplish their public policy role in a time of mortgage market turmoil, we believe that there’s an increased probability of actual support coming from the U.S. Treasury.”
Moody’s said the reduced preferred stock rating reflects a rising “risk of dividend omission on the preferred stock.” Investors fear any additional government support of the companies could wipe out common and preferred shareholders, though Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has said he wants to maintain the firms’ current structure.
Moody’s also cited the firms’ “constricted” financial flexibility given the plunge in their shares, which makes it harder for them to raise new capital, and concerns about the performance of the companies’ mortgage portfolios, which could reduce capital to the point where the companies would no longer pay dividends on the preferred stock.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 12:50 PM
Lehman Brothers (LEH) surged 13% in premarket trading after Reuters reported Korea Development Bank may buy the struggling U.S. brokerage firm. “We are studying a number of options and are open to all possibilities, which could include (buying) Lehman,” a KDB spokesman said, Reuters reported. The comments come just a day after another sovereign wealth fund, Singapore’s Temasek, expressed interest in possibly adding to its stake in another hard-hit U.S. financial firm, Merrill Lynch (MER).
Lehman has been seeking a buyer for part of its investment management business in its latest bid to raise new capital, but talks with possible partners in Korea and China reportedly broke down earlier this week over price. That led analyst Dick Bove to write in a research note Thursday that the firm could be headed for a hostile buyout. Whether Lehman chief Dick Fuld, who has said he wants the firm to remain independent, would be open to a deal with the state-owned Korean bank remains to be seen. But with Lehman in need of cash as mortgage-related assets suffer a continuing decline, he will certainly have to have an open mind.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 12:48 PM
Question: I just turned 24, and the constant pressure from financial advisers to “save save save” for retirement makes me anxious that I’ll never be able to retire. I contribute 10% of my salary to my 401(k) each year - some of which my company matches - and I recently took on a second job to save for a home. Still, I feel miserable. My friends cruise around in BMWs, but I’m afraid to spend a dime on myself lest I ruin my future. I’ve looked at retirement calculators, but most don’t let you enter an age below 25. So I have no idea whether I’m doing enough, too much or just the right amount. What do you think? Are my worries are justified? —Jessica, Boston, Mass.
Answer: In the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess that I’ve been a bit of a cheerleader when it comes to encouraging people to save. I emphasize saving for two reasons. One is that it’s essential. No saving, no retirement. It’s that simple. And the sooner you get into the habit of regular saving, the better your chances of being able to retire in comfort.
That said, I agree that some advisers can get too strident. They create the impression that unless you’re salting away most of your salary you’re a spendthrift. Sure, contributing to 401(k)s and other retirement accounts is crucial. But you don’t want to go through life feeling guilty every time you treat yourself to dinner at a decent restaurant.
I mean, you do have a life to live before retirement. And what’s the point of retiring in comfort if you lived a pinched existence during your career? What’ll you do in your dotage? Reminisce about how much fun it was to forego family vacations so you could boost your 401(k) contribution rate yet another percentage point?
Clearly, retirement planning has got to strike a balance. You want to save enough so you’ll be able to enjoy retirement. But not so much that you can’t also live a satisfying life during your career.
Live below your means
I think the best way to achieve that balance is to adjust your expectations so that you’re content living a little bit below your means. Let’s say your salary is high enough that you can buy a BMW, but doing so would require you to spend every cent you make. Well, maybe you decide to go with a moderately priced Toyota instead so you have some dough left over that you can plow into retirement savings.
It’s that sort of reasonable compromise you want to shoot for in retirement planning, whether it’s choosing a car or a home, planning vacations or whatever.
You don’t want to go to extremes. If you try to live like an ascetic not only will you not enjoy life, but you probably won’t be able to stick to an unrealistic savings regimen anyway.
Rather, you want to make choices that will allow you to live comfortably, but not extravagantly during your career, which should also allow you retire without having to ratchet down your standard of living.
Get an estimate
As for figuring out how much to save, our cleverly named What You Need To Save calculator can give you a quick approximation. Just plug in your age, salary and the amount you’ve saved already, and voila! You’ll get an immediate estimate of how much you should be putting away to be able to retire with 80% of your projected pre-retirement salary (minus your annual savings) at age 65. (As you’ve noted, the lowest age you can enter is 25, but it’s not as if one year will make a radical difference in your recommended savings rate.)
I would expect that someone in their 20s will find that they’ve got to save somewhere in the neighborhood of 10% of their salary to have a decent shot at a secure retirement. The figure might be lower for someone who’s already got some savings set aside, as you do. The figure might be higher if your income is high for the simple reason that Social Security will replace less of your pre-retirement income, which means you’ll be relying more on your savings to provide what Social Security can’t.
Expect the unexpected
Whatever figure you arrive at, you should know that, as a practical matter, anytime you’re making projections many years into the future, you’ve got to take the results with more than a few grains of salt. A lot can happen over 30 to 40 years. The market might not deliver the returns you’re hoping for, your investing strategy may hit unexpected snaps, layoffs, illnesses or family obligations may interrupt your savings regimen - you get the picture. Life isn’t as predictable as a spreadsheet.
So if possible you want to build a cushion into your savings regimen, maybe shoot for 12% if 10% is called for. If you can’t manage that, then set aside a few extra bucks when you can - save part of a bonus or a windfall if you’re lucky enough to receive one. It’s also a good idea to monitor your progress periodically, say annually, by going back to our What You Need To Save tool.
At your age, I wouldn’t get too fixated on a particular percentage, though. Fact is, at the very beginning of your career, developing the habit of regular saving and putting away at least something on a regular basis is at least as important as the actual amount you save. By getting an early start, you’ll avoid the pitfall of finding yourself so far behind in your 40s or 50s that you’ve got to resort to shock savings therapy to have any hope of retiring before you’re 80.
Finally, remember that the savings target you eventually settle on has got to make sense in the context of your life as a whole. It’s okay if you’ve got to exert control over your spending impulses or even decide that some purchases are off limits, at least for now.
But don’t get so caught up in frugality that your drive to save dominates your life and sucks the joy out of living. Because if you can’t take pleasure from life today, it’s hard to imagine that you’ll truly be able to enjoy retirement tomorrow.
Posted by Chismillionaire at 12:46 PM
Even though Mirror's edge made Ashcraft a little ill at E3, the game looks like it's going to be one hell of a ride. This quick paced gameplay trailer gives us a little taste of what we can expect.
Posted by gjblass at 12:01 PM
The International Olympic Committee will investigate whether the Chinese women's gymnastics team that won the gold medal had underage athletes, saying "more information has come to light."
"If there is a question mark and we have a concern, which we do, we ask the governing body of any sport to look into it," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said Friday.
Messages for the International Gymnastics Federation were not immediately returned.
Questions about the ages of at least three of the athletes on China's team have swirled for months. Online records and newspaper accounts suggest three Chinese gymnasts -- He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Jang Yilin -- may be as young as 14, but Chinese passport records show they meet the age rules. A gymnast must be 16 in an Olympic year to compete at the games.
The IOC had said previously that it had verified the passports of all athletes competing at the games.
HuffPost published official documents last week showing that Chinese gymnast He Kexin was 14 years old and underage. See them here in "Scandal of the Ages: Documents Reveal Underage Chinese Gymnast."
Posted by gjblass at 11:57 AM
|Written by Jaymi Heimbuch|
|Thursday, 21 August 2008|
Fuel Miami, LLC, a media company, has come up with a brilliant give-take plan to boost its company, its advertisers, and the city of
The company is installing 600 solar-powered bus shelters in
The shelters will save about 2 tons of CO2 emissions each, illuminating the ad panels and the shelter itself using the resource for which the state of
This is one of those places where utilizing solar power seems most obvious. The energy used to light bus shelters is easily overlooked when we’re trying to change the world, but relatively small steps like this make a big difference. It’s an exciting project, and I’m hoping will encourage other media companies vying to provide cities with their outdoor furniture to make similar moves, and for cities to push bidding companies to make innovative proposals like Fuel Miami, LLC.
The only issue I can think of that would put a damper on this cool project is…well, have you seen the condition of most cities’ bus shelters? I imagine keeping vandals away from the solar panels could be a bit difficult.
Posted by gjblass at 11:56 AM
AP Photo: In this undated photo released by the N. C. Wildlife Resources Commission, David Hayes holds...
David Hayes' granddaughter just ask him to hold her Barbie rod and reel while she went to the bathroom. He did. And seconds later he landed the state record channel catfish at 21 pounds, 1 ounce.
Alyssa's father had bought the pink Barbie fishing rod for Christmas and she had caught a few bluegill before her grandfather hauled in the catfish.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported the catch Aug. 5 in eastern Wilkes County has been certified as a record by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Hayes and his granddaughter have been fishing in the pond behind his house since she was big enough to hold a pole.
Hayes said his granddaughter worried he would break her rod. He landed the 21-pound fish on a 6-pound test line. It was 32 inches long, 2 inches longer than the rod.
Posted by gjblass at 11:53 AM
Inflatable or not, you wouldn't want to meet the dog that laid this.
This giant inflatable faeces (actually a sculpture by the American artist Paul McCarthy) broke free from its moorings at a modern art museum in Switzerland before bringing down a power line.
The artwork, named 'Complex Sh*t', was lifted by a sudden gust of wind from its home at the Paul Klee centre in the city of Berne.
As big as a house, the gigantic inflatable eventually came to rest 200 yards away in the grounds of a children's home.
The giant piece of 'art' broke free from its moorings at a museum in Berne
Museum authorities said the work had an automatic safety device that was supposed to make it deflate in the event of a storm - but it failed to operate.
The museum's director Juri Steiner said Mr McCarthy had not yet been informed of the fate of his artwork, and that he had not yet decided whether to reinstall it in the centre's garden.
The sculpture was featured in an exhibition called "East of Eden. A Garden Show".
The Paul Klee centre's website described the show as containing 'interweaving, diverse, not to say conflictive emphases and a broad spectrum of items to form a dynamic exchange of parallel and self-eclipsing spatial and temporal zones.'
McCarthy is well known for his inflatable artworks, two of which - Blockhead and Daddies Bighead - were displayed outside the Tate Modern in London in 2003.
Posted by gjblass at 11:52 AM