Thursday, January 28, 2010

The More You Know

For the most part, those that are reading this are American. This post is intended for that audience.

We all know that fanny is a slang term for the butt. It's not vulgar, and it is often used as a non-offensive substitute for any of the less appropriate words describing a butt. But, let me ask this... how many of you know that the word fanny means something completely different in British and Australian slang?

In the UK and Australia, fanny is a rather vulgar term referring to female genitalia. I'm a bit shocked that there's such a striking difference in their meaning. Also, in case you were wondering, don't call that bag you wear strapped around your waist a fanny pack if you are ever traveling in those countries. Understandably, they have different names for it. Call it either a hip pack or a bum bag.

I just learned of this yesterday, and I felt it was my duty to make this public service announcement. I'm surprised that I've never come across it before. I should get out more and learn me some culture.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Roth IRA Conversion Question

We know that starting this year income limits on converting a Traditional IRA into a Roth IRA have been lifted. This means that while income limits exist on contributing to the Roth IRA, a loophole is now available -- we can simply put post-tax dollars into the Traditional IRA and immediately convert them to the Roth IRA, which would not have tax consequences as it would be done without any delay, so there would be no gains to be taxed.

My question is this... must we go through the motions of setting up a Traditional IRA, then go through the immediate conversion process, or can we just contribute directly into the Roth IRA, implicitly taking advantage of the loophole?

I asked one of my brokerages, and they said that we would be allowed to contribute directly without having to go through the motions. But, everything else I'm reading does not seem to agree. Maybe I need to call the IRS help line.

Anyone know the answer?

Edit: After quite a wait, I was able to speak with an IRA-specialist at the IRS. His answer conflicts with what the brokerage representative had told me. His short answer is: Yes, you need to go through the motions of establishing a Traditional Non-Deductible IRA, funding it, and then converting it over to the Roth IRA. If you make a direct contribution to the Roth IRA (assuming you are ineligible due to the AGI limit), you will be notified at some point of this error and forced to take that money out, which can have additional tax consequences and penalties.

Really inefficient if you ask me. So, now I probably need to re-contact my brokerage and inform them of their error, and start the process of creating and funding the Traditional just so I can pump money into my Roth. Ugh.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


This is something silly that I came up with when I woke up this morning... maybe I was hungry.

I 8 H R O @ D P R

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Collapsible Taskbar Buttons (Windows)

Those of you that use Windows XP will likely be familiar with the taskbar and its support for collapsible taskbar buttons when the taskbar gets a bit too crowded. Windows XP seems to do a pretty good job with collapsing like items, but there's a feature that I find useful but missing. Maybe there's a way to do it, so if you know how, please share.

Here's a screen capture of a Microsoft Outlook task with 6 open e-mail messages. Windows has appropriately collapsed them into a single button and reports that there are 7 tasks (1 for Outlook and 6 for the open messages).

Now, we know that the Outlook task is the parent, and the 6 open messages are children. What I want to do is close out all the children tasks, but keep the parent open. There is a Close Group option when you right click on the collapsed task group, but that closes everything including the parent.

Is there any easy way to get back to a single parent task open without having to resort to closing the group and then re-launching whatever is the parent application? I understand that sometimes Windows will group tasks where there isn't a parent... that's fine, as I don't expect that there's a mind reading OS that can figure out what subset I want closed. However, this seems like a nice feature that is lacking.

Anyway, help me if this is in fact possible and you know how to do it. Thanks.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quick Update

I sold a Goldman Sachs (GS) February $170 call option for $4.40 today covering roughly 35% of my position. The company announces its earnings before the bell tomorrow, and I figured it prudent to capture a piece of the volatility value built into the options. Hoping for the best tomorrow, as most of my position is free to reap full benefit in case the company does well.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Piano and an Ostentatious Canine Dresser

So, JC has been wanting a piano for quite some time. Today, a piano arrived that she is test driving (i.e. renting where all of the rent can be applied in full to a purchase of any piano at the store within a year). I don't know much about pianos, but apparently this one is fairly nice. It looks like it adds positively to the living room.

Here it is.

And, here's the Theodore KGB dressed up in a sweater.

What a famous looking dog!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Added More Goldman

Added some more Goldman Sachs (GS) to the existing position at 170.75. I've wanted to add a little more exposure to the financials, and I decided to add to GS rather than open up a new position. Shares at current prices are yielding roughly 0.8%... could be better, but I accept it.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

New Housemate

So, my roommate ended up buying his own place, and he moved out of the 3rd floor loft that he was renting. The house is a lot emptier now, so I gave JC the okay to get a dog. And, she got one from the pound.

I've never been a fan of dogs, but I'd say it's really a neutral thing. I don't actively dislike them. Anyway, I thought I'd share a couple pictures of Teddy (KGB). He is supposed to be named after the rough riding president, Theodore Roosevelt, because he really looks like a miniature bear sometimes. But, I prefer Teddy KGB for obvious reasons.

Clearly, I like him. Not only have I taken two pictures, which I'm putting on this blog, but I have not called Animal Control... not even once. Also, you can't really see it in the pictures, but the dog's got a pretty nasty overbite. I was really tempted to call him OB (after the famous Korean Beer) because of his dental shortcoming.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Silver Quarter

Most of you probably don't know that I used to collect coins. I have a decent collection despite not being really into the hobby for quite a while. I still buy a few coins from time to time whenever the collecting bug rears its head.

One thing that I picked up as part of my numismatic interest was looking through my change, because you never know what you'll find. The usual good stuff I'd find would be include wheat pennies and the occasional war nickel that is 35% silver (you can tell by a giant mint mark above the Monticello building).

Anyway, while looking through the change I received from yesterday's purchase of lunch, I saw that one of the quarters gleamed a bit differently. Upon closer inspection, it happens that I found a (90%) silver quarter from 1964. I think it's only the 3rd time that I've ever found a silver quarter in my life. It really is quite rare, especially given that they look very different than other quarters. They stopped making silver quarters for normal circulation in 1964, so it has had to escape collection for a good 45 years... pretty impressive.

Here's a picture with flash of the silver quarter mixed in with some regular quarters. It is painfully obvious which one is not like the others.

And, even if you don't get a good look at the actual obverse or reverse of the coin, you can tell which one is silver simply by looking at the ridged edges.

Also, they clink differently due to the different metal content. But, you'll just have to trust me on that one, since I am not so ambitious as to record quarter clinking sounds.

Well, here's the coin itself. That's one less silver quarter for the world to find in their change. I really wonder how many are still out there floating in normal circulation. So, keep your eyes out for silver quarters and dimes from 1964 and earlier. And, for half dollars (if you ever come across any) that are dated 1969 or before... technically, 1970 halves exist, but they were never released for normal circulation and can only be found inside collector sets.

On a final note, I should say that it's not worth that much... maybe a couple dollars.