The Daily Pondering


Friday, July 22, 2005


Although it has taken a while, I've finally entered the world of podcasting. I think it's going to be big as more and more people catch on to it. In case you haven't heard of podcasting, it combines features of Tivo and radio together so that you can listen to short audio segments (i.e. 30 min) on-demand on your mp3 player. In my case, I listen to podcasts on my iPod and love the interface that Apple iTunes provides to search for podcasts. Anyway, podcasting is wonderful because virtually anyone can create their own podcast show that can be about any subject they want. And, the best part is that obtaining podcasts is FREE and EDUCATIONAL! In addition to listening to paid audiobooks in my car on my way to work, I can listen to FREE podcasts and learn about subjects that I'm interested in. Another bonus is that a lot of the information is current since new podcasts are being created! There is a lot of potential for podcasting and it will be interesting to see the evolution of this new trend. I hope that the bad podcasts (i.e., boring, unedited, lots of static on the microphone) will die through natural selection because there will be few listeners and I hope the good podcasts last forever since they will be a lot of loyal listeners.

So far, I've found one podcast that I think will be extremely successful as podcasting continues to catch on. "The Cubicle Escape Pod" (check out is my favorite podcast that I am completely addicted to. The hosts are Jonathan Brown & Matt Thompson and they discuss a lot of issues that entrepreneurs face as they start a business. They have a good variety of segments in their shows from interviews with business owners to indie music. I also enjoy their sense of humor and entertaining approach to their shows. I have listened to the last 4 most recent podcasts, but am anxious to start from episode 1 and continue to the most current podcast at my own pace. I think their discussions on many topics are very valuable and I know that I am learning a lot listening to their podcast in a condensed period of time... and it's fun too! Though I might get bummed out driving to work every weekday morning, I look forward to listening to their podcast while I drive. It makes my mornings and evenings! And oh, word of mouth is going to spread fast about "The Cubicle Escape Pod" via co-workers in their cubicles as they await their big escape! Keep up the good work and keep on inspiring us all, Jonathan & Matt (Hey Matt, I hope you find this blog entry as a result of Technorati)!!!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Friends and Lifelong Friends

What is my definition of a "friend"?
- Someone who has a similar sense of humor
- Someone with whom I can have an interesting & engaging bi-directional conversation
- Someone who has similar perspective on life as me (including ethics and values)
- Someone who makes me feel overall happy when I'm around them

Note: Some friendships tend to be stronger than others. I think that happens depending on how well your friend satisfies your definition of a friend & how well you satisfy their definition of a friend.

What is my definition of a "true friend" or "lifelong friend"?
- Someone who is my "friend"
- Someone who is *truly* happy for me when something good happens and *truly* sad for me when something bad happens
- Someone who can allocate time to be my friend
- Someone who I can rely on when I need their help
- Someone who makes me a better person by being their friend
- Someone who I can trust

Note: This criteria sounds like common-sense, but these are the things that make "true friends" stand out from "friends" in the long-run.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Windows of Opportunity

Life is filled with many windows of opportunity. In order to take advantage of those opportunities, you have to make sure you see that they exist and be in a position to access them. If you are caught up in other things, those opportunities might pass right by you. Sometimes, those opportunities will come again at a later date. And other times, you won't have a second chance. Make your decisions carefully and wisely. You only have one life to live.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Life experiences

As I reflect on my past, I realize that there are various experiences in my life that shape who I am today. Sometimes, I didn't even know that I was learning a small lesson through that experience until I reminisced about it. And many times, I was willing to try a new experience thinking I'd get X, Y, & Z out of it, and I ended up by getting X, Y, Z, and many other unexpected life lessons too.

Reminder to self - It is important to keep an open mind on things because you might learn something new when you least expect it. Putting mental barriers up can only retard the growth you gain from life experiences.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Top 10 Innovations I'm Grateful For

Every once in a while, I wonder about how different life would be if I had grown up in a different era. It's tough to imagine what it would be like without all of its little luxuries, especicially the innovations that I have become dependent on. These innovations have enhanced my life (and I'm sure others as well) significantly. So, here it is - a list of my top 10 innovations that I'm grateful for (in no particular order):
1. Contact Lenses
2. Wireless Internet
3. Searching the Internet (Google!)
4. Cars
5. Computers (especially Macs!)
6. Personal Video Recorders (TIVO!)
7. Cell phones (and to think it used to be cool to have a pager!)
8. Japanese Hair Straightening
9. Digital camera
10. Personal Tele-transporter - oops, that one hasn't been invented yet!

These are the things that really improve the way I live day-to-day. A big THANK YOU goes out to all of the inventors!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

How does my paycheck dwindle so fast?

Every week, I receive my weekly paycheck stub. And every week, I gasp when I realize my income seems to disappear. So, it's time to sit down with my paycheck stub and determine how my money evaporates into thin air before I even have a chance to spend it. Here goes:

First, the number of hours I've worked each week is multiplied by the hourly wage. The result is called the total gross income. Simple enough so far.

Then, pre-tax deductions are subtracted...
- 8% of total income --> company's 401k plan (company matches 4% in pre-tax dollars)
- 2.5% of total income --> purchased company vacation time
- <1% of total income --> basic dental, vision, & medical benefits

The remaining amount is used to calculate my taxable gross income. Using my taxable gross income, all of my taxes are calculated ...
13.9% of total income (or 15.7% of taxable income) --> Federal taxes (a.k.a. Fed Withholding)
4.6% of total income (or 5.2% of taxable income) --> California taxes (a.k.a. CA Withholding)
1.4% of total income (or 1.6% of taxable income) --> Medicare (a.k.a. Fed MED/EE)
6.0% of total income (or 6.8% of taxable income) --> Social Security (a.k.a. Fed OASDI/EE)
1.0% of total income (or 1.2% of taxable income) --> California State Disability & Family Leave Temporary Disability Insurance (a.k.a. CA SDI FTDI)

Then, more post-tax deductions are subtracted...
<1% of total income (or <1% of taxable income) --> Accidental Death & Dismemberment , Long Term Disability, & Life Insurance

Believe it or not, all of the deductions and taxes add up to about 39% of my total income. So, that leaves me with a whoppin' 61% of my paycheck to actually see and play with! Wow! The leftover money is referred to as my net pay. And then, to think that we pay sales tax using our post-tax dollars to buy goods and services... what a rip-off!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Money, money, money

After college, I began working and bringing in a regular income. But what I found mystifying was knowing exactly where to put all of my money. Afterall, I wanted to invest my money so that it would generate even more money for me in my sleep. The problem was that I just didn't know which banks, CDs, stocks, mutual funds, brokerage services, and retirement plans to choose. With all of the overwhelming decisions that needed to be made when you suddenly "grow up", I found it easiest to simply leave most of my money in my checking and savings account. Of course, while filing my taxes this year, I realized that I only made a few dollars and pennies on interest this year. I lost the opportunity to make more earnings on the money I saved this year and wished I had learned how to invest my money earlier so that I didn't find financial jargon so intimidating, overwhelming, and boring.

I think there are several ways that young kids can get a jump-start learning about finances in bite size amounts before they "grow up." Parents can take their kids to the bank to help choose a CD and in the process explain how CDs work. Parents can buy their kids a savings bond and calculate how much it will be worth in the future. Parents can buy their kids a small amount of stock for one of their favorite companies and monitor the stock's performance periodically. Parents can even hire their kids for small jobs and aid their kids in filing their own taxes. Or the kids can get a part-time job at their local bank as a teller. Such exposure to finance terminology and concepts will begin a personal finance education that will be quite useful later in life as the children transition into adulthood.

I have decided that it is time for me to take responsibility for my lack of personal finance knowledge. I am going to gain more personal finance knowledge by doing my own internet research, talking to people, and reading books on various subjects including: tax laws, investing, retirement planning, estate planning, and checking/savings accounts. Though I don't find personal finances a particularly intriguing subject (and it doesn't help that the laws are constantly changing), I must keep in mind that the time I spend now is an investment for my future. Ideally, if I can learn how to manage my money now, my money will grow with time so I can have financial freedom in the future. Wouldn't it be great not to worry about money? And wouldn't it be great to take vacations in different places of the world and still have plenty of money left for retirement? Well, I really hope that I can stay motivated to spend time learning about money now because I definitely think it will be worth it and pay off in the long-run.