Thursday, March 27, 2008

Book List

I just finished a book by Octavia Butler (The Parable of the Sower)--Excellent! I recommend it highly. Also, my friend Ben is entering into the world of Cormac McCarthy and began with All the Pretty Horses; a great read, but I would recommend starting with either The Road or No Country for Old Men first. Anyway, I think McCarthy is a little difficult to get used to at first and some of his works begin a little slowly (I'm still struggling to get through Blood Meridian), but they are definitely worth it.

Ben has emailed me about some questions that this blog inspired (why he didn't just comment on the blog itself I don't know), but he had questions pertaining to investments as well. He explained his situation and it sounds very similar to mine. He doesn't make a ton of money and doesn't have a ton of time to put into investing. Everything I've read and heard from financial experts direct people like us to use no-load, low fee mutual funds and try to take advantage of any employee matching 401k's and/or Roth-IRAs. The best mutual fund companies that qualify are in such large groups as Fidelity, Vanguard, American Century, and American Funds. I think once you determine which of these groups to choose from, it makes sense to begin with one of their funds that are geered towards a retirement date. These funds diversify based on your age and what they perceive to be your optimal level of risk. Once you get enough saved, you can diversify yourself, moving your money into various index funds, foreign/emerging market funds, and as you get older bonds and more fixed income related funds.

Hope this helps. I'd love to hear other people's advice and ideas pertaining to either of these subjects, or anything else you've got on your mind.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Antony and Cleopatra

I have a paper due in a couple of weeks on Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. My intention is to write about the three main characters and focus on which ways they meet the various criteria set out by Machiavelli in his famous The Prince. If you have ideas/suggestions about how I might go about doing this, please reply. Or, if you have any insights into the play itself, or would just like to comment on its merits, or lack-thereof, please feel free.

The market seems to be bottoming out slightly and there might be some buying opportunities. I listen to a podcast by Rob Black (see sidebar)

He is very Californian. Even so, I think once you get past the surfer-dude-speak, he has some insights into the market.

Another new favorite website of mine is the The Wall Street Journal (sidebar)

The last thing I want to mention in this entry is the question of refinancing mortgages:

I'm toying with the idea of looking at options to refinance/change our mortgage from its current 30 year fixed (6.75%) to a 15 year fixed. I think rates are low enough that we could almost get a 15 year that has basically the same monthly payment. If this is the case, since we're not quite 3 years into the existing 30 year--instead of waiting another 27 years to have the home paid for, we could have it done in 15 for around the same price!!! What are you're thoughts?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Rolling Ahead

Thank you for commenting on my blog. Please check in periodically as I am new to this and hope to improve rapidly.

I finished No Country for Old Men (McCarthy) and I'm tempted to say it is the best book I've ever read. Over three hundred pages of some of the best language and plot I have ever seen on paper. I read it in two days--it was that good!

I found an interesting blog the other day and I'll post it's address on the sidebar. It mentions this new "book" device. A professor of mine (Dr. Evans at NCCU) recommends it highly. Check it out:
Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device
Amazon Kindle is excited to introduce Kindle - a wireless, portable reading device with instant access to more than 100,000 books, blogs, newspapers and magazines. The Kindle's revolutionary electronic-paper display provides a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper. It is simple to use: no computer, no cables, no syncing. Whether you're in bed or on the train, Kindle lets you think of a book and get it in less than a minute. Click Here!.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bear Market

These are the times when I am glad there is a second component to this blog: writing; of late, I have emmersed myself in the novels of Cormac McCarthy. I finished All the Pretty Horses two weeks ago, am halfway through Blood Merridian (a very difficult read), and am plowing my way through No Country for Old Men (awesome book). McCarthy is the author I am writing my Master's thesis on. The cornerstone of my paper will be The Road.

I've just been sitting on my stocks and mutual funds. In early January, I sold a couple of stocks and moved some of my riskier mutual funds into more conservative funds, still stock-based, but more large-cap, dividend producers.

I intend to make more blog entries, so please reply and give me feedback. Let's start a dialogue.