But first:

Michael Craft: ‘I don’t think that I will have enough money in the coming years to contribute the new maximum IRA limits [$3,000 in 2002, or $3,500 if 50 or older, rising to $5,000, or $6,000 if 50 or older, in 2008]. In your opinion, would it be wise to sell stock or mutual funds held outside of an IRA in order to contribute the maximum to an IRA?’

☞ Yes. Especially if you have shares on which you can take tax losses — but, generally, even if you’d have gains on which you’d have to pay tax. And it’s generally a Roth IRA you should favor with the proceeds, as being even better than a traditional IRA.

And now:

Flynn Monks: ‘I just finished the John Adams book you referenced Friday and it just keeps getting better as you read – especially the chapters on Abigail and Adams’s retirement in Quincy. You write of the struggles they had in that time; try getting through the last chapter or so without shedding a tear. On TV is a PBS show called The 1900 House, in which a modern day family has to live completely as a family in 1900. Their difficulties just getting through a day are something to behold. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like in 1776!’

Mark Kennet: ‘Three items (in addition to a good novel) that make even an eight-hour flight in the middle seat in coach more or less bearable:

1. A quality inflatable pillow from an outdoor goods store, like REI. Don’t get the cheap ones, such as those available in airport travel-goods stores.

2. Noise-canceling headphones, such as those sold by Bose.

3. A ‘Palm theatre’ DVD/Video CD player, such as that sold by Panasonic.

‘The first one makes sleeping in an upright position possible without the legacy of a stiff neck. The headphones make listening to music or movie dialog possible without turning up the volume, which can have unbelievable effects on your mood and attitude when you land. (You might try these for subway rides, also.) The DVD player gives you the option of watching whatever movie you want; of course, you will need to rent or purchase that movie in advance, but with used DVDs available from Half.com or other outlets, this cost can be quite low (and to make it even lower, you can resell!).

‘I still prefer to get an aisle seat if I have to travel coach (i.e., when I’m paying), but with these three ‘toys’ my quality of flying life has been improved immeasurably. If you add up the cost (about $20 for the pillow, $300 for the headphones, $600 for the DVD player, and $15 for the DVD itself) and allocate it in its entirety to a single flight, it is still way cheaper than the business-class ticket. And once you travel a whole lot, as I do, the costs become insignificant.’

Jackie Lamtec: ‘I’m reading a biography of Alexander Hamilton. And John Adams has just flipped out into the utmost pettiness and vanity. Despite the hard won victory against the British, our founding fathers almost blew it all with vanity and ego and bickering amongst themselves.’

☞ How modern.


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