Pete Lee

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Random Thoughts Of The Day

A fine piece of art from my co-worker:


Also, my mechanic gave me some OK news. Yes, the aged Volvo still has problems (we're going to conveniently ignore the fact that the tranny is going south), but he's trying to...
--Fix the fuel leak without doing anything major
--Replace a motor mount (which should kill a lot of funky vibrations)
--Perform the infamous Volvo water pump replacement
--Install a new IPD flame trap kit (Volvo's version of the PCV filter, a head gasket killer if there's a problem)
--Change the belts, and
--Install the fuel injectors he's getting refurbished, which will hopefully up my fuel efficiency by about 10-15%.

Le grand totale: between $700-900. This may seem like a lot, but it's not unheard of for a less scrupulous outfit to charge $500-700 alone for a water pump replacement. Hai is the man when it comes to mechanics.

My only major annoyance today is eating a tasty cinnamon roll, with a resultant sugar coma. Blech. I should have known better: in class last term, we were futzing with Blood Glucometers. After sucking down a can of Coke in five minutes, I immediately felt extremely woozy and light-headed. My lab professor commented that I had a rather fast insulin response--nothing I didn't recover from in about an hour.

Oh yeah: I'm trying to consolidate (rollover) the bits and pieces of various retirement funds I've had with different companies in an effort to clarify my financial status for future Nursing school. I'm happily using Scottrade, which is dramatically better than the horrible experience I had a few weeks ago with E-Trade. David Wallingford of the SW 6th downtown office has been giving me a lot of gracious assistance--ask for him if you decide to do the same.

Scottrade costs nearly next-to-nothing to set up an account at, and the $7-per-trade for stocks (including Exchange Traded Funds (ETF)) is dirt cheap. They also don't charge for transferring money out of an account. In comparison, E-Trade is charging me $60 for this privilege. Even nicer, my Notre Dame MBA-alumni buddy who is a finance analyst for Tektronix has had excellent luck with Scottrade.

Every bit of efficiency I can wring out of my investments will make life just that much better for Nursing school. I don't think people are aware of the fact that "no-load" mutual funds are actually not free. ETFs, by comparison, are generally used by institutional investors for things like investing in S&P index funds. In sum, I get the same relative convenience of an S&P 500 mutual fund, but without the annoying management costs.

If you want to know why I think an S&P 500 index-based investment is a pretty good deal, check out the "Wizard of Omaha" blog entry below.

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