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Re: The Annuity Puzzlement

AIG's insurance subsidiaries, which were responsible for paying out on the annuities and life insurance policies, were not endangered. Only the parent company needed to be bailed out. AIG's insurance subsidiaries most certainly would have been in danger had AIG gone under. During the AIG bailout he...
by magellan
Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:51 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: The Annuity Puzzlement
Replies: 60
Views: 3847

Re: Which generator do you have?

... I use batteries at night, and don't run the generators... This comment didn't get much attention, but IMO it's a really important part of a good blackout strategy. We have a pair of auto jump-start power packs that each deliver 50 watts for 4 hours (19Ah batteries), along with a Black & Dec...
by magellan
Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:19 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Which generator do you have?
Replies: 127
Views: 7150

Re: Which generator do you have?

I'm not aware of any NEC requirement that furnaces be hard wired. Perhaps there is, on the theory 'why would you want to unplug a furnace - what if your kids unplug it and your pipes freeze'. I'd guess they are normally hardwired because it's a few bucks cheaper, and most people don't want to unplu...
by magellan
Thu Sep 04, 2014 11:31 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Which generator do you have?
Replies: 127
Views: 7150

Re: Which generator do you have?

I'd have so much regret not going with an automatic whole house kickover generator, and then have to shell out thousands cause I fried a component, or heaven forbid myself! There's no doubt that an oversized fully automatic whole-house approach is less complicated for the average homeowner. The que...
by magellan
Thu Sep 04, 2014 11:01 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Which generator do you have?
Replies: 127
Views: 7150

Re: Which generator do you have?

I'm curious - how do you "plug-in" the furnace? Most furnaces are wired into your service panel. Assume you have a transfer switch? An $85 single circuit transfer switch is probably the simplest safe way to do it. In an emergency, the simplest way to do it without opening up the breaker p...
by magellan
Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:17 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Which generator do you have?
Replies: 127
Views: 7150

Re: Which generator do you have?

Also, just as another data point. My forced hot water heating system with 5 zone values and one circulator pump draws about 475 watts sustained and less than 2k watts at startup. I've read that a good 2000 watt generator can just about run an oil or gas fired forced hot water heating system. The blo...
by magellan
Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:42 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Which generator do you have?
Replies: 127
Views: 7150

Re: Which generator do you have?

Your breaker panel should tell you; in general, if it's running on a 20A or less 110 breaker, it should run on a 2kW generator (there are a couple of caveats depending on the details - some motors aren't inverter happy, and you could have a higher than normal starting surge). IMO, breaker size is o...
by magellan
Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:35 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Which generator do you have?
Replies: 127
Views: 7150

Re: Which generator do you have?

I'm mostly concerned about starting surge (plus I'm also a bit skeptical of the ratings). I should also warn you that I'm an electrical engineer, so I'm probably a bit overly conservative of this. But the starting surge can be 4-5X the running power requirement. And your meter probably won't notice...
by magellan
Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:16 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Which generator do you have?
Replies: 127
Views: 7150

Re: Which generator do you have?

I've got a 5kW DeWalt portable gasoline that is our main backup generator. Got a 30 Amp transfer switch that it plugs into. I can have it up and running in about 5 minutes. I can run the essentials (well pump, refridge, freezer, oil burner), but need to switch those things in and out. I can run one...
by magellan
Tue Sep 02, 2014 8:14 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Which generator do you have?
Replies: 127
Views: 7150

Re: How to safely sell a big ticket item online

IMO, for big ticket items, there are a few easy to follow guidelines that can help eliminate much of the risk of fraud. Whether you're a buyer or a seller, if the counter-party agrees to abide by these, the chances they're going to commit a blatant fraud, like passing a bad check or selling you some...
by magellan
Wed Aug 27, 2014 11:50 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: How to safely sell a big ticket item online
Replies: 42
Views: 2472

Re: Banking on VPN or off for Man in the Middle issue?

I'm not doing anything illegal or questionable, but even normal sites like Netflix and YouTube bog down when I'm running "naked". I'm convinced that my ISP is responsible foe this; hence, I run VPN 100% of the time. I've noticed the same thing. When youtube bogs down when I'm watching a v...
by magellan
Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:56 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Banking on VPN or off for Man in the Middle issue?
Replies: 12
Views: 1299

Re: Changes to T-Mobile's pay-as-you-go plan

FYI, you can still see the refill expiration date and gold status on your phone using the tmo app. Within that app on the phone, everything appears to show up correctly, although the app doesn't try to calculate minutes/texts available, it just shows the costs. The 'minutes' and ''messages' shown un...
by magellan
Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:32 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Changes to T-Mobile's pay-as-you-go plan
Replies: 8
Views: 1444

Re: Changes to T-Mobile's pay-as-you-go plan

I have also seen an question answered if you switch between plans your gold rewards now resets and you must fill another $100 to get the year expiration. I saved my expiration dates as I have four accounts. Sounds like a call into T-mobile is in order. I will be curious how long we get to keep rene...
by magellan
Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:18 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Changes to T-Mobile's pay-as-you-go plan
Replies: 8
Views: 1444

Changes to T-Mobile's pay-as-you-go plan

T-Mobile has changed their pay-as-you-go plan and it now has a $3 per month minimum fee. The new pay-as-you-go plan does include 30 minutes or texts per month, then calls are $.10 a minute and texts are $.10 each. So the minimum annual cost for light users on T-Mobile has gone from $10 to $36. Also,...
by magellan
Mon Aug 25, 2014 8:50 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Changes to T-Mobile's pay-as-you-go plan
Replies: 8
Views: 1444

Re: No room on your Windows hard drive? Cleanup Update files

Why did it take hours to destroy the drive? One whack with a sledgehammer should have done it. :) I wouldn't trust a software erase anyway. +1. Actually, +3 or +4. It's too much fun to only hit it once. My favorite secure wipe "toolkit" consists of a sledge hammer, a masons chisel, a pair...
by magellan
Sat Aug 23, 2014 1:29 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: No room on your Windows hard drive? Cleanup Update files
Replies: 49
Views: 3630

Re: No room on your Windows hard drive? Cleanup Update files

Another way to free up a good chunk of disk space is to disable hibernation. With hibernation enabled, windows keeps a file on the system drive that's the same size as your system's ram. If you don't use hibernation you can disable it and reclaim the disk space. Even if you do use hibernation someti...
by magellan
Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:57 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: No room on your Windows hard drive? Cleanup Update files
Replies: 49
Views: 3630

Re: Enough retirement income to avoid Medicaid

But while you are considering your feelings about subsidies, you might consider that almost everyone is now getting healthcare subsidies. The average family with an employer plan gets about a $4000 per year subsidy through tax deductions. The ACA expanded subsidies to non-employer insurance. The el...
by magellan
Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:58 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Enough retirement income to avoid Medicaid
Replies: 30
Views: 3025

Re: Enough retirement income to avoid Medicaid

If you don't want Medicaid and you don't want a subsidized ACA plan, then you can just go directly to any health insurance provider and buy a plan. All plans sold today are ACA compliant whether on or off the exchange. Although this is true, be sure to visit healthcare.gov so you'll know what's on ...
by magellan
Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:20 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: Enough retirement income to avoid Medicaid
Replies: 30
Views: 3025

Re: Kick toe heater efficiency

My comments assume you're asking about hydronic toe kick heaters that get tied into a forced hot water heating system. Our house is around 17 years old and we have three of these, all in areas where we couldn't or didn't want to use baseboard heaters for one reason or another. Our units are all labe...
by magellan
Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:23 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Kick toe heater efficiency
Replies: 10
Views: 784

Re: Simplisafe Home Security Systems

IMO, these low cost wireless systems can offer a great tradeoff in terms of effectiveness and cost. By all accounts, they have a good track record against the most likely threat, which is a low-skilled non-professional criminal. OTOH, many of these systems don't encrypt their wireless transmissions,...
by magellan
Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:46 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Simplisafe Home Security Systems
Replies: 34
Views: 2363

Re: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?

... but I notice that you don't seem to give much value to the mortality credits between say 70 and 85. I'm confused by this. Based on the SSA calculator it looks to me that at 70 a male has about a 50% chance of making it to 85. For me that seems like the mortality credit have kicked in pretty wel...
by magellan
Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:31 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?
Replies: 59
Views: 4785

Re: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?

Maybe TIPS will pay more then too, but they have no mortality credits. Annuities from non-government sources and "safe real retirement income" are not related. Do you only have "safe real retirement income" sources? My view is that a two bucket approach to retirement funding may...
by magellan
Sun Aug 10, 2014 8:00 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?
Replies: 59
Views: 4785

Re: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?

Do you have a citation for your 15% figure? As I understand it, a cost between 10-20% is pretty well accepted by folks that study this stuff. Here's a link: http://business.illinois.edu/ormir/AER%20December%201999.pdf This paper presents new evidence on the expected discounted value of payments for...
by magellan
Sun Aug 10, 2014 7:35 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?
Replies: 59
Views: 4785

Re: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?

The criticism implies that annuities are nothing but flawed. How about some diversification of various risks using a variety of products in spite of their known flaws? As I tried to show in my post above, if the goal is a relatively safe real retirement income, these products just can't do the job ...
by magellan
Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:10 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?
Replies: 59
Views: 4785

Re: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?

The volatility of annual inflation between the time you purchase the DIA and start receiving income is irrelevant. There is no analogy to sequence of returns risk for SWR. Sequence of returns arises only because you are taking withdrawals. There are no withdrawals during the period in question here...
by magellan
Sat Aug 09, 2014 7:09 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?
Replies: 59
Views: 4785

Re: "Russan Gang Amasses Over A Billion Stolen Passwords"

I do have unique passwords for every site except the ones I don't care about, and I do check my financial accounts often. Reusing passwords for sites you don't care about is sort of bad manners. It causes grief for website owners and users at the other sites where you reused credentials. Following ...
by magellan
Wed Aug 06, 2014 8:39 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: "Russan Gang Amasses Over A Billion Stolen Passwords"
Replies: 87
Views: 7663

Re: What counts as "income" for PPACA subsidies?

So, what would I do in my case? Anyone have an idea? I could be mistaken, but I think you could do ROTH IRA conversions each year, in an amount sufficient to increase your income just above the medicaid limit. With such a low income, the tax on the roth conversions should be smaller than the value ...
by magellan
Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:24 pm
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What counts as "income" for PPACA subsidies?
Replies: 143
Views: 25044

Re: Window Wells Filling / Contractor Question

This is a long shot, but is there any way to redirect some of the water that's coming off the roof before it reaches the ground? In a previous home, we solved a "wet basement after torrential rain" problem by installing a gutter and placing the downspouts far away from the wet side of the ...
by magellan
Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:16 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Window Wells Filling / Contractor Question
Replies: 12
Views: 830

Re: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?

There's also explicit public back stop to insurance company obligations at the state level, though one has to be aware of the details and even within the limits it's state credit risk, unlike TIPS which is federal risk. This mistaken understanding of how state guaranty programs work is very common,...
by magellan
Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:21 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?
Replies: 59
Views: 4785

Re: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?

I agree with the OP. For most, the lack of inflation protection makes these products unworkable. The problem is that you can't create an guaranteed income by simply plugging in an average for inflation. Inflation is highly volatile. This is exactly analogous to using average portfolio return to choo...
by magellan
Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:13 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Why would anyone buy a deferred income annuity?
Replies: 59
Views: 4785

Re: Central AC replacement decision

IMO, the optimal install cost vs SEER tradeoff depends on personal preference and usage patterns. Do you use setbacks or prefer a set-it-and-forget-it approach? Do you like to open the windows when it's coolish or would you rather just have the system keep your home comfortable without any input fro...
by magellan
Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:56 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Central AC replacement decision
Replies: 54
Views: 4047

Re: Surge protectors

If the blender plug mates with countertop receptacles, then household wiring will and must provide more than sufficient power even if wires were 1930 vintage. In a perfect world that's true, but the OP doesn't know the condition of the wiring and there are several things that could prevent it from ...
by magellan
Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:45 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Surge protectors
Replies: 41
Views: 3639

Re: Surge protectors

There is nothing unusual about the power rating of this blender. It is 1500 watts which is less than the typical counter-top microwave, toaster oven or hair dryer. It should operate fine on a typical 15 amp circuit assuming there are no other high power devices on the same circuit operating at the ...
by magellan
Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:28 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Surge protectors
Replies: 41
Views: 3639

Re: Surge protectors

One other thought. If you're not comfortable sticking multi-meter probes into a live outlet, another option is to get a $25 kill-a-watt device. These are sometimes available to borrow for free at town libraries. Since the kill-a-watt is rated for 15 amps, I wouldn't plug the blender into it. That'll...
by magellan
Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:53 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Surge protectors
Replies: 41
Views: 3639

Re: Surge protectors

As others have pointed out, this appliance pushes the limits of normal home kitchen wiring. However, IMO, it's also possible that this behavior is alerting you to a dangerous problem in the wiring of the circuit you're using. I wouldn't ignore this and I would strongly encourage you to do the work n...
by magellan
Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:12 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Surge protectors
Replies: 41
Views: 3639

Re: Brick patio question

We had a concrete paver patio professionally installed about 15 years ago for around $6k and it still looks great. We later put a hot tub on the patio and I had to remove and replace some pavers to run an electrical conduit. It was a relatively easy job and to this day the rework is completely undet...
by magellan
Fri Jul 04, 2014 10:43 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Brick patio question
Replies: 8
Views: 975

Re: Commodity no longer a good diversifier?

...If you're afraid of inflation, buy TIPS. IMO, if we experience a nasty bout of unexpected inflation, TIPS are unlikely to help much at the portfolio level. They're great at protecting themselves from inflation, but TIPS are unlikely to be volatile enough to protect an entire portfolio against in...
by magellan
Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:48 am
 
Forum: Investing - Help with Personal Investments
Topic: Commodity no longer a good diversifier?
Replies: 22
Views: 1889

Re: American Automobile Assn (AAA)

Peterjens wrote:Lodging includes free parking and free breakfast (La Quinta).

Just don't forget your card. You should have it with you anyway, but in my experience, La Quinta's front desk folks always make you show your card at check in.
by magellan
Tue Jul 01, 2014 3:28 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: American Automobile Assn (AAA)
Replies: 51
Views: 3553

Re: Bernstein: Don’t Bother With International Bonds

I don't know what the optimal allocation to foreign bonds is, but I find Bernstein's logic very unconvincing... I'm in about the same place myself. I'm also troubled by Dr. Bernstein's use of the often repeated slogan to 'take your risk on the equity side.' Many experts say this, but despite trying...
by magellan
Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:54 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Bernstein: Don’t Bother With International Bonds
Replies: 112
Views: 9291

Re: N+ Routers

If there is no coax conduit, you can either pull all the new wires (and new coax while you're at it) from the existing coax cable or use it to bring in new conduit. Unless the coax was added after the home was built, it almost certainly has staples that keep it centered on the stud and safe from na...
by magellan
Sun Jun 29, 2014 7:34 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: N+ Routers
Replies: 27
Views: 1740

Re: N+ Routers

In general, is it better to have the router on the first or second floor for best range? I have the best results with the wifi access point in the kitchen on top of a tallish freestanding cabinet. It's out of sight and I get coverage throughout the house, including a room above the garage. When we ...
by magellan
Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:55 pm
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: N+ Routers
Replies: 27
Views: 1740

Re: Bernstein: Don’t Bother With Intnational Bonds

What heavy manipulation do you believe is going on? As I understand it, every central bank is currently managing its yield curve at multiple points along the term axis. This isn't secret or disputed, but rather it's the essence of quantitative easing. Added to this overt manipulation, there's also ...
by magellan
Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:47 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Bernstein: Don’t Bother With International Bonds
Replies: 112
Views: 9291

Re: N+ Routers

I think the main issue I would like improve is signal strength throughout my house and backyard. Does AC give a range advantage over N? Generally, you'll get higher speeds and more reliable connections at any given distance, but not more range. Keep in mind that the new capabilities of 802.11ac onl...
by magellan
Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:50 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: N+ Routers
Replies: 27
Views: 1740

Re: Bernstein: Don’t Bother With Intnational Bonds

I am on this camp as well. Give me a premium to TBM, or I am not going to bother. I've long been an advocate of a permanent allocation to foreign bonds and I've held 20 percent of our portfolio's bonds in foreign bonds for over a decade. However in my opinion if there's a sound argument against for...
by magellan
Sun Jun 29, 2014 8:16 am
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Bernstein: Don’t Bother With International Bonds
Replies: 112
Views: 9291

Re: Bernstein: Don’t Bother With Intnational Bonds

And the unhedged currency exposure with unhedged international bonds is very risky. All you have to do is look to what happened to the euro and the yen in the last crisis—they cratered. That’s a risk you simply don’t want to take. I have enormous respect for Dr. Bernstein, but IMO this is way overs...
by magellan
Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:19 pm
 
Forum: Investing - Theory, News & General
Topic: Bernstein: Don’t Bother With International Bonds
Replies: 112
Views: 9291

Re: N+ Routers

I recently upgraded from an N router to AC. I also bought a $25 Intel 7260AC wifi card for my dell laptop to take advantage AC's faster speeds. I tried an Asus RT-AC66U AC-1750 router first. The laptop with the AC card worked flawlessly and the connection was very fast. Unfortunately, two other lapt...
by magellan
Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:00 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: N+ Routers
Replies: 27
Views: 1740

Re: To HSA or not to HSA

As others have mentioned, if you know what your expenses will be, you can do the math to choose the best option. If you don't have extra knowledge about likely expenses, the best bet is generally to take the plan with the highest deductible/out of pocket max that you can handle without financial rui...
by magellan
Sat Jun 28, 2014 6:47 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: To HSA or not to HSA
Replies: 12
Views: 1547

Re: What is the risk of having too much house

The other option would be to make a larger downpayment by selling some of the stock that you have. You probably want to learn the exact details of California's non-recourse mortgage rules. http://realtytimes.com/agentnews/agentconcerns1/item/728-20121023_antideficiency If you can just walk away fro...
by magellan
Fri Jun 27, 2014 8:26 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What is the risk of having too much house
Replies: 51
Views: 4550

Re: What is the risk of having too much house

I don't see a mention of the total monthly carrying cost of the home including taxes, maintenance, insurance and other expenses. Without this number, you can't make an informed decision. I'm particularly interested in the cost of earthquake insurance, even assuming a crazy high deductible. Earthquak...
by magellan
Fri Jun 27, 2014 8:13 am
 
Forum: Personal Finance (Not Investing)
Topic: What is the risk of having too much house
Replies: 51
Views: 4550

Re: Keeping mold out of bath/shower

As others have mentioned, good ventilation is the key for managing mold and mildew in a shower. However, no matter how much you ventilate and wipe, mold and mildew eventually will gain a foothold unless you apply something to kill it. IMO, you have to pick your poison between very frequent regroutin...
by magellan
Thu Jun 26, 2014 8:57 am
 
Forum: Personal Consumer Issues
Topic: Keeping mold out of bath/shower
Replies: 32
Views: 3114
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