Saturday, March 14, 2009

Who are those 'super rich'

Last Tuesday, the list of richest people in the world was published by Forbes. Bill Gates is back at # 1. Warren Buffet is back at # 2. Of the 1,125 billionaires last year, 373 fell off the list, mostly due to the financial crisis.

Here is the link of those richest. It has a slide show that will show the top 50 people. And this link will take you to those who lost their membership to the world's most elite club.

Talking about riches, who do you consider rich? Here is my definition of rich. Looking at the chart below.

Those median income families are considered 'middle class'.

I would call anybody making more than $100,000 'affluent'.

My definition of 'rich' is those who have $10,000,000 ($10 million) or more.

'Super rich', according to me, are those who make it to the Forbe's billionnaire list (note that last year, those who were worth little over $ 1 Billion still did not make it to that list because the minimum bar was 1.3 Billion).

Above is an old graph of the median income level here in the States. You'll notice there is another plot that shows the GDP. GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product - meaning the value of all domestic products produced in a country. The logic is that if the country's domestic production is more, then it's citizens get it's advantage and become wealthy as well. Currently, US stands # 1 in the world in terms of GDP, and India is at # 12.

St. Patricks Day Mar 17

This year, St. Patirick's Day is on Tuesday, Mar 17th. This is to commemorate the death anniversary or St. Patrick, who died in the 5th century. It was originally an irish celebration, but has come to the states as well. Again, several parades take place to mark the ceremony at various parts of the country.

Remember to wear green on that day. Else, your friends may 'pinch' you. Ouch, those pinches used to hurt me.

You'll find this interesting: for three years, I used to travel to downtown Chicago every week and my office was just on the banks of the Chicago river. Every year, on St. Patrick's day, they color the entire Chicago river 'green' by pouring vegetable dye into it, which stays green for the entire day. Talking about the Chicago river, did you know that the river originally used to flow north, but civil engineers reversed it's flow to south - an amazing feet of engineering.

As far as the 3 leaf clover goes, it's believed that St. Patrick used it to educate people about the trininty. Later, down the road, it became 4 leaved clove for 'good luck', I believe. The trinity is still 3 (tri stands for 3) It's just the clover that became 4 leaved.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What is FICO

Next time you are driving around with your parents, ask them about credit scores. I am sure they'll be willing to share some info with you.

Here's some background info: back in mid 50's two guys Bill Fair and Earl Issac developed a decision management system to evaluate the risk of lending money to individuals. They formed a corporation using their last names - FICO which stands for Fair Issac Corporation. Credit companies all over the world use FICO scores to evaluate 'credit worthiness'.

FICO score is a number between 300 and 850. For adults is very similar to the grades you get in school. Here in the US, it's almost impossible to lead a life with a low FICO score. Everywhere you go - whether to buy a car/house/credit card, they check your FICO score. The last I checked, the national average US score was somewhere between 678 and 725 (depends where you check). Below is a national distribution of scores I happened to see.

Remember that you need to have your scores as high as possible to get good 'deals'. And maintaining it is a tough job by itself. Just because you are a millionnaire will not boost your FICO score. You need to learn the ins and outs of how FICO is calculated, and act accordingly. You can get your free FICO scores once a year from the nation's 3 leading agencies - Experion, TranUnion and Equifax.

Personally, I was able to save thousands of dollars by maintaining a good FICO score. Last year around this time, my score was 832 and guess what - I was able to utilize my scores to negotiate good 'deals' towards my advantage, while buying house, car, etc. Banks will love you if your FICO scores are high and they are willing to give you $$$ and be their customer.

Now you know what FICO score is... and why it's important.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Talent competition gameplan

Have you started working towards our talent competition? We should give extra credit to those Sunday school officers who worked towards getting the guidelines this early. It now gives us ample time for preparation.

As of this writing, we have little less than 425 hours to get there. Don't count on it - time just vaporizes before you know. By the time you read this blog, it would be even lesser.

Below is a simple game plan to follow.
Step 1: Identify the events you want to participate in. You can pick from (a) Bible Verse Writing on Mar 22nd, (b) Solo Songs - Mal/Eng and with/without background music (c) Group Song (d) Elocution.
Step 2: Prepare the draft material(s).
Step 3. Reherse the draft material(s).
Step 4. Present draft material(s) in front of your parents/mentor.
Step 5. Modify the draft material(s) to suit your personality based on input.
Step 6. Make correction and call it the final material(s).
Step 7. Practice, practice and practice the final material(s).
Step 8. Present the final material(s) at the event.

Here is a simple project plan to follow, assuming you have not started working on it yet and are focusing on one event. If you are participating in multiple events, then you need to accomodate it accordingly. Most of you already know the event you are participating in. That means we are already done with step 1.
Mar 13: Deadline to complete preparing draft material.
Mar 14: Reherse the draft material.
Mar 15: Present 'first cut' in front of live audience (parents/mentor) and obtain feedback.
Mar 21:Incorporate all corrections and call it final version.
Mar 22 - Mar 27: Practice practice and practice.
Mar 28: Present the modified version in front of live audience (parents/mentor).
Mar 29: Presentation.

This should serve you as a roadmap.

BTW, let me know what event(s) you are participating in, so that I can give a tally to the Headmaster next time he makes his 'Sunday Rounds'.

Good luck everybody.

Men's fashion

Ever since I mentioned the first step in men's fashion, I've been inspecting you boys, and all you boys are doing wonderful. The first 'official step' of men's fashion I shared with you is to wear the same color socks with that of the pants - i.e., when you are wearing a khaki color dress pants, wear a similar shade/color socks to go with it. All of you have been following this step quite consistently in the past several Sundays - yeah, I noticed the difference :-) These are little things that describe your personality.

Now, here is the exception to the above rule. It's when you wear jeans. Here in America, the code is to wear white cotton socks along with blue jeans.

Girls, you are mostly fashion conscious, and typically 'ahead of the curve' when compared to boys. Just note these points above - the info will come handy down the road.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Obama Superman

While reading various views on the current economy, I happened to see this Obama - Superman picture on the website of Dr. Greg Mankiw - a Harvard University Economics Professor.

This picture is quite appropriate, and timely. All of us, we are looking at President Obama with lots and lots of hope to save this planet from the economic turmoil. Our expectations are so high on President Obama, that we expect him to do what Clark Kent (Superman) did in those comics/movies to save planet earth.

Just know that we are in deep trouble as a nation.

Driving Tips

Let me share the top three difficulties I used to encounter while learning to drive. While looking back into time, these are the three things that come to my mind.

Scenario # 1: While approaching a traffic light, it turns yellow and I'm unsure whether to stop or to proceed.
Scenario # 2: While changing lanes to the right, I used to wonder if the blind spot was clear or not.
Scenario # 3: While changing lanes, I used to wonder if the approaching car would hit me once I step into the other lane.

And now the solutions:

Soln Scenario # 1:

It took me a while to learn how to overcome the yellow light syndrome, and here is what I learned. Expect this situation while you approach every traffic light. As soon as you reach such a situation, the first things to do is to judge the situation, and see if there is any vehicle approaching right behind you. Don't be under stress to drive thru the intersection. In most cases, we are good to go. Watch out for those traffic lights where they have cameras installed. They could catch you. It is worth paying attention at such traffic signals.

Soln Scenario # 2:

At first, I used to take the help of my navigator (Benoy Aunty) sitting at the passenger side. Later, I learned about the 'blind spot remover' that we could attach to the outside mirrors. This is worth the money (I picked my first one for 0.99 cents). If you are not familiar with it, just go to your local wal-mart and get one, or ask me next time you meet me - I can show you on my car. Positioning it on your mirror is also important. You need to stick it to the farthest end of the rear view mirror.

Soln Scenario # 3:

It took some time for me to arrive at the right calculation to judge whether the car coming behind in the lane I want to change to, is at a safe distance or not. If you can see the car in the other lane in your 'inside rear view mirror', I've observed it to be a safe distance. Most drivers allow us to change lanes if we have our indicators on. Do not dance on the road by swinging right and left - that will confuse the other driver. Make a calculated judgement and stick to it.

Now, here is something funny that happened to me today while I was driving to work. I was proceeding as usual, and heard a honk similar to that of a railway engine... on my next lane.... and it got me thinking if I was apporaching a railway track... and I seriously thought that a train was approaching. Having known my drive to work like the 'lines of my palm', I still got confused for a second - only to realize that it was this mexican guy trying to show off his newly installed horn. It was a joke!! I heard this guy honking once again after another couple of miles.

You will start seeing lots of such activities once you get on the road. It's a jungle out there. We just have to watch out for our safety.

Disclaimer: these are mere suggestions and your driving habits play a vital role in your safety

Picture Day

How about we have a picture day, to shoot a class picture? I was thinking if we could hold it on March 29th - the day of our talent competition.

As far as I know, most of you will be on campus on Mar 29th.

Your Resume

As part of your personal development, here is what I request you to do. For those interested, I recommend each one of you to have your resume ready by the end of our class year. If you do not have a resume yet, then let's get started. Resume is the single document that allows to sell your skills and chalk out a career path. Remember, this is completely optional and does not interfere with your Sunday school grades.

When you finally walk out of my class, I prefer you having your own updated resume. At work, I review hundreds of resumes while screening candidates for jobs and conduct interviews. You could utilize some of my experience in that area to your advantage, while you are still in my class.

If you already have a resume, then let's use this opportunity to update it with recent activities and polish it up. For starters, apart from your accademics, and individual accomplishments, include extra curricular activities that you've participated. Let's say, by Easter, turn in your first draft.

I am extending a helping hand for those who need it, and will do it mostly via email. I will also maintain confidentiality in this matter.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Wedding songs

Today in our class we talked about how beautiful the wedding ceremony is, and how melodious the songs are. Our church has superb songs to ornate the ceremony.

Below are few downloadable links to the actual wedding songs of our church. If you click on the link (for IE users), it should just play the song using Windows Media Player. If not, Right click on the link > Save Target as... > and download them as desired. These are MP3 songs. If you do not have an MP3 player, you could still play them on your computer and listen. Later, you could move it to your ipod or so.

Dhann-yan Vinn-mann
Nal-kuka Nal-mozhi
Sabha-yaam Thiru-sabha-yaam
Aaa-di-ma Nee-thi-njare
Sunn-dari-kallil Athi-Sunn-dari Nee
Pauu-lose Slee-haa
Van-dya Slee-ba Tha-ru-vinn Ma-el
Vaa-neen Uda-yoon
Subha Chi-nnam Than
Eden Tho-ttam Natt-onnae
Kar-thaa-ve Ninn Aaa-ra-dhana
Cher-thu Sali-lam
Kaa-ku-ka Naa-dhaa
Daie-vamm Cho-nna-nn

Personally, I believe these songs are quite soothing and never get bored listening to them over and over, again.

Disclaimer: I cannot predict how long these links will be working. If you download them at the earliest, the better.

Why BRS Potluck was cancelled

BRS potluck was cancelled due to couple of reasons:
  1. I wanted to avoid a difference in opinion, on whether to wrap up this years' BRS with # 10 or not. In my opinion, our class has done a good job turning in all the BRS answers so far and therefore, I should not burden you with additional ones. By bowing out, I believe I avoided such a confrontation and you students are the winners.
  2. Most of you did not understand what I meant by BRS potluck. Maybe I did not explain it very well in my communications. At least 50% of our class I talked to, thought you had to bring in actual cooked food.

Details on talent competition

As promised, we received the final guidelines for the upcoming talent competition.
Key dates to remember
Mar 22: Last day to enroll in an event
Mar 22: Bible Verse Writing
Mar 29: Talent Competition

First of all, you belong to the Seniors category - i.e., Grades 9 thru 12.

The items for our category are:
Bible Verse Writing: This event is on Mar 22nd.

The remainder of the items below will be held on Mar 29th.

Solo Song: you could participate in any one below
  • Solo Song English
  • Solo Song Malayalam
  • Solo Song English using music track as background
  • Solo Song Malayalam using music track as background

Group Song: Group size of 2 - 4.

Elocution: One topic will be picked on Mar 29th by the judges, 5 mins prior to the event. You should be prepared with both these topics below. Else you'll be playing a game of gamble with 50% probablility of winning (similar to tossing a coin and betting on heads or tail).

Topic 1: The role of youth in our church
Topic 2: Christian Stewardship


Click here to get a copy of the actual guidelines I received.

Final BRS due Mar 15th

Your mailbox should have the final BRS questionnaire for this year.

The due date on the BRS I mailed out is incorrectly mentioned as Mar 22nd. The correct due date is next Sunday, March 15th. Turn them in and you are off the hook.

Call me if you need any clarification.