Hope you had a fine Fourth. Ours was crustaceous.

Except that I am temporarily without broadband, and I am going out of my mind. So I’d urge you to do yourself a favor, if you’re not connected: get connected. Without a high-speed connection, the web is agonizing. With it, it is astonishing.

Similarly, I’m guessing this is the year TiVo (the product, not necessarily the stock) finally takes off. We got yet another one, hooked it up, and the very first show it taped was last week’s ‘Sex and the City’ – which had a major story line on . . . Miranda hooking up TiVo for the first time. Spooky.

I went to look at the stock, which had been around $6 last I’d checked, and saw it pushing $14. With hindsight, of course, I should have held on (bought it between $3 and $6, sold it at $6) – kicking myself. (Ow! OW!) Knowing nothing about TiVo, really, except how wonderful it is, I can see it selling 1 million units this year and the stock hitting some wonderful high price . . . but I can’t bring myself to buy back in after it’s doubled. And there’s no guarantee, of course, it will surmount its considerable challenges. But the stock aside, how can you live without TiVo? I won’t go through all the reasons again (search the archive for several columns). I’m just telling you: if you watch TV, you want this. (And if you don’t watch TV, you’re missing a lot of great stuff.)


Jim Batterson: ‘I’ve been using a tool on my Ameritrade account that helps me calculate if I have enough money to retire on. I enter my assets and income and social security benefits and all that, but it also asks me to enter (1) what inflation rate I want to use in calculating my expenses, and (2) what percent return I expect to make on my investments. I find that the calculations are extremely sensitive to these numbers, and yet I have not much idea of what I should use. If you were taking your best guess, what numbers would you use?’

☞ Yes, it all boils down to this. And you don’t even need to make two assumptions, really, just one: the degree by which – if at all – your after-tax gains will outpace inflation. For 25 years, I’ve been cautioning people not to expect more than 3% – and even that’s no cinch. If it turns out we’ve been too conservative, great!


Kate: ‘My favorite correction. It comes from the latest issue of Harvard Magazine. To wit: Correction: We have learned that the obituary for Erik Humphrey Gordon, ’95, which appeared in the July-August ’01 issue, was based on false information provided by the subject himself in an effort to get off Harvard’s mailing list. Mr. Gordon is alive and well in New York City. We apologize for the error. See www.crabwalk.com/misc/harvard.php for Mr. Gordon’s side of the story.’


Jim T: ‘I caught the tail end of Nader’s appearance on Crossfire. I am sure you are familiar with the acronym for the Green Party in America. GREEN: Guarantee Republicans Elected Every November. Seriously, something needs to be done about him.’

☞ These things have a way of self-correcting, I think. The 97,000 people who voted for Nader in Florida, for example, have got to be wondering whether it was true what he said – that it didn’t matter who won.

Later This Week: More On Your Credit Score


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