Category Archives: General Information

The Airplane Metaphor

You know how people take more time to plan their summer vacation than to plan their retirement? And they think their retirement destination must include travel by means of sending extra principal payments to their mortgage banker and socking away hard earned money into tax-deferred, qualified plans like IRAs and 401(k)s.

Well, what we do as your lead advisor and retirement planning “travel agent,” is start by first asking you where YOU want to go, how soon you want to arrive, and how long you will stay. We help you maximize your retirement savings through tax-favored deposits, tax-free growth, access to your money tax-free, and we enable you to pass on your estate to your heirs tax-free and without federal income tax, estate tax, or probate. What a great way to fly towards your retirement destination. Don’t you agree?

Proper retirement planning is very much like designing an airplane. For the plane to fly it must have four natural forces at work: Lift, Thrust, Drag, and most important Weight.

LIFT can be compared to the power of compound interest working in our favor. Many people “stall” their financial future by letting the weight of credit card debt and negative compound interest overcome the lift of positive investment compound interest. With too much of the wrong kind of debt, you financial plane will literally fall out of the sky.

THRUST is created by the engine and propeller that PULLS the plane forward. This is like tax-favored deposits and tax-deferred accumulations. These advantages “pull” taxpayers into saving for their own retirement. That’s good. BUT far better is the trust generated by the PUSH of a jet engine. Tax-favored contributions followed by tax-free accumulations, tax-free distributions, and tax-free transfer thrust your jet-air-craft toward your retirement destination. You arrive sooner, more refreshed and in the BEST shape financially.

DRAG in your personal finances is the power of safe, positive leverage using Other People’s Money (OPM). This is as difficult to understand in finances as it is in the physics of aviation. In air plane design, it is simply a form of friction. But without this friction, the air would not slow down as it goes over the top of the wing. Therefore, without drag there would be no lift.

Borrowing Other People’s Money using SIMPLE interest and with an interest only loan creates the least amount of drag. This, coupled with the COMPOUND interest found in a properly structured, non-qualified, retirement planning alternative to tax-deferred IRAs and 401(k)s, produces the incredible LIFT that is needed to take you over the rocky, dangerous mountains of stock market investing and safely through the clear blue skies of asset protection towards your final retirement “vacation” destination.

While we’re on the subject of drag or friction, please remember that people are going to give you “friction” about the “lift” you now feel from your new found understanding of paying simple interest to earn compound interest. Drag is hard to understand in aerodynamics and it’s hard to understand in personal finances. Your friends and family just don’t know what they don’t know. But YOU understand where you want to go on your retirement trip to wealth accumulation and asset optimization and this is the best weather report you could get from the control tower.

Let’s face facts. It IS a “drag” to pay interest on a mortgage. But real estate can be a fantastic leveraged investment. The use of Other People’s Money for safe, positive leverage in a real estate transaction is the key to wealth accumulation.

WEIGHT is the fourth and final natural force in aerodynamics. Without a doubt: Taxes and Inflation weigh us all down! But taxes and inflation are the “baggage” that MUST be carried on our flight toward our retirement destination. Taxes really are not bad anymore than luggage is bad. The real problem is carrying TOO MUCH. We all know what a huge pain it is to carry too much luggage. But we can have a more comfortable retirement with fewer hassles if we use a creative means of minimizing this baggage of taxes and inflation.

In aerodynamic design, special consideration must be given to weight. The structural design of the plane is the key. It cannot be made from light weight paper or from heavy weight steel. It must be strong enough to withstand the turbulence of stock market conditions and also light enough to fly over the down drafts of market losses. How many people have suffered “paper losses” from their stocks? Many were attracted to the strength of their US Steel stock and held onto it too long. They lost everything when that solid “heavy weight” fell out of the rarified sky of leading Fortune 500 companies.

In the same way, the design of your properly structure Indexed Universal Life (IUL) contract is also key. When designing this “means of transportation to your retirement destination,” special consideration must be given to tax codes 72e, 7702, and 101 and also the legislative mandates of TEFRA, DEFRA, and TAMRA. When carefully designed, this IUL plan absolutely takes off.

The biggest problem folks have with life insurance is the cost. If the HR director of your company proposed that you now have the benefit of FREE life insurance and then asked, “How much do you want?” You’d probably say, “As much as I can get!”

The cost of insurance is like the fuel on the aircraft. You need enough jet fuel to last the whole trip but not too much! Better yet is having a bit left over so that flight conditions and delays don’t burn up too much of this precious commodity. Fuel adds to the weight of the plane. Cost of Insurance (COI) adds to the weight of the plan. You’ve GOT TO HAVE IT if you every hope to get the plane (or plan) to leave the ground – but too much fuel is too much weight. Safely minimizing the COI will make your alternative retirement savings vehicle really take off. Without the COI you do have insurance and without insurance you do not have the tax advantages that come with life insurance.

Oh, one last thing. Before you can reach take off speed, your retirement “plane” must taxi out onto the run way and roll down the air strip. You will gain the speed you need to get this retirement “vacation trip” off and flying if you will attend a public seminar, read a book, listen to a CD, watch a DVD, or meet one-on-one with your TEAM trained Missed Fortune Advisor.

Doug Andrew, author of the books “Missed Fortune”, “Missed Fortune 101”, and “The Last Chance Millionaire”, is your “pilot” on this flight. I am your retirement “travel” agent Steve Minnich. Together let’s plan a safer, more comfortable retirement “flight” for our “passengers,” for you and for all your loved ones.

BASEBALL NICKNAMES: The “Monikers of THE game”

Almost every ballplayer in the early days of the game had a nickname, “Cap”, Hoss”, “Wild Man”, etc. Throughout the history of the game each era has added memorable monikers that readily identify a ballplayer and or his team. In today’s game, there are fewer creative nicknames and most players are “too cool” for them!
A number of years ago, there was a study of nicknames in sports. In baseball, the Nickname “Lefty” was attributed to over 150 players, “Red” to over 120, “Doc” to 60+, and Whitey, Big, Duke, and Kid to over 25 each. Below are listed some of the famous and infamous nicknames in MLB history:

Coolest of ALL-Time: Bill “The Owl without a vowel” Mlkvy; Marc “Scrabble” Rzepczynski; Doug “The Human Eye Chart” Gwosdz; Rafael “El Enano” Furcal (The Dwarf in Spanish!

Multiple Nicknames: Some have more than one!
George Herman “Babe” Ruth aka “The Sultan of the Swat”, “Colossus of Clout” “The Bambino”
Ted Williams: “The Kid”, “The Splendid Splinter”, “Teddy Ball Game”
Mickey Mantle: “The Commerce Comet”, “THE Mick”
Lou Gehrig: “The Iron Horse”, “Larrupin’ Lou”
Brooks Robinson: “The Human Vacuum Cleaner”, “Hoover”
Joe DiMaggio: “The Yankee Clipper”, “Joltin’ Joe”, “Mr. Coffee”
Stan Musial: “Stosh”, “THE Man”
Ernie Banks: “Mr. Cub”, “Let’s Play Two”

A Few of the Best Baseball Nicknames:

Ozzie “The Wizard of Oz” Smith
Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown
Fred “Crime Dog” McGriff
Luke “Aches and Pains” Appling
Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron
Paul “Big Poison” Waner and brother Lloyd “Little Poison” Waner
Walt “Smokey” Alston
Harold “PeeWee” Reese
Lenny “Nails” Dykstra
Robert “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson…later, also Mike Cameron
Roger “The Rocket” Clemens
Harry “Suitcase” Simpson
Freddy “The Flea” Patek
LeRoy “Satchel” Paige
Honus “The Flying Dutchman” Wagner
Robert “Rapid Robert” Feller
Reggie “Mr. October” Jackson
Walter “Big Train” Johnson
Nolan “The Ryan Express” Ryan
Pepper “The Wild Horse of the Osage” Martin
Derek “Captain Clutch” Jeter
Jay” Dizzy” Dean and brother Paul “Daffy” Dean
David “Big Papi” Ortiz
Joe “Ducky” Medwick
Frank “Big Hurt” Thomas
Vernon “Lefty” Gomez
Randy “Big Unit” Johnson
Tony “Push ‘Em Up” Lazzeri
Orestes “Minnie” Minoso
Pete “Charley Hustle” Rose
Eddie “Walking Man” Yost
Willy “The Say Hey Kid” Mays
Dave “Soup” Campbell
Lawrence “Yogi” Berra
Roberto “La Bazooka” Clemente
Willie “Stretch” McCovey
Vince “Vincent Van Go” Coleman
Joseph “Shoeless Joe” Jackson
Phil “The Scooter” Rizzuto
Don “Gerbil” Zimmer
Rusty “Le Gran Orange” Staub
Bill “Spaceman” Lee
Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd
Mike “The Human Rain Delay” Hargrove
Mariano “Sandman” Rivera

GAGPTH! Coach Phil, French Frog, Phrog!

STUDY HABITS THAT WORK…if YOU do!!

“Oh Boy, Not Another Genius!!”

Many students spend a lot of time studying and have poor results, and many feel that they are a genius and do not need to study at all. FirstSwing has researched many study guides and has provided some suggestions for productive study. As in baseball and life, studying requires hard work, determination, and the will to NEVER quit!!!!! Memory is made to forget, not to remember. Hence it does take a concerted effort to learn(and remember), and one must learn the best way to study for oneself. Stress, fatigue, and lack of interest are factors BUT these are excuses not reasons for poor studying and failure in learning!

One does need to learn how to study, not just in school, but also in life situations, problem-solving, and decision-making. Reading and understanding will empower a productive life and make it easier to deal with all the problems that can arise. Read and STUDY the five easy steps outlined and you will improve your study habits, learning ability, grades, and quality of life.

Basic Study Habits: “The Road to Learning”

  1. SURVEY the material and information
    Take about 30 minutes or so and read all the headings and subheadings in the book, article, lesson, etc. Read any other information that is included in the assignment or the preface if it is a book. Browse the index, table of contents, and other parts. You have now learned something already!
  2. MOTIVATION: Be ready to learn and study
    Create a positive mindset so you are READY!! Once you are prepared to
    study, sit down, and go. Use the sample questions in a lesson to help as well as
    creating your own. Be curious and seek the answers.
  3. READING: Know what to read
    Carefully read the first and last paragraphs of every chapter and focus on
    the first sentence in every assigned reading. Always read the first and last
    sentence of every paragraph. Remember: Have a positive mindset before
    you begin reading. Read the entire assignment carefully! Look up words
    that you do not know and write down important words and concepts in the
    text.
    Concentrate on the subject matter…it takes will power, determination,
    and “guts” to study. DO IT! Study in short bursts and take mental breaks
    every 15-20 minutes. Review what you have learned and take notes to help
    retain the information. EAT the FROG and do not quit if it gets tough!!!
  4. RECALL leads to knowing and learning
    Recall is best accomplished by REPETITION. As in sports and life, one
    learns by practicing and repeating. This is MOST important in studying and learning. It does take time but is best done by creating your “system”. Physical
    exercise empowers the mind as it keeps it alert and builds endurance, so it is a good idea to keep in shape; it will improve recall and learning! A good general rule is to study one(1) hour for every hour of class. Later, it will rise to three(3) hours for every hour!! Create a good learning ATTITUDE and spend the time.
  5. REVIEW
    Constantly review the material that you are studying. Keep it fresh in your mind so you have learned it and can remember what is important. Do NOT cram the information in at the last moment(night before), but rather enjoy the knowledge and let it “seep” into the recall process.

FINALLY, the TEST!

The last phase of learning is “taking a test”. It can be written, oral, or just
applying what you have studied. Test taking is a difficult task for most students
and it is best to have your own “system” or game plan. Basically. It is a time to
apply what you have learned as a result of studying. The FIRST thing to do
when test-taking is to RELAX! Close your eyes and visualize how you studied
and prepared. Spend a few minutes reading over the test in general, and then
READ the directions…”What is required of you? A good way to begin an
exam is to find the easy questions and answer them first. This will “free” your
mind, build confidence, and relax you for the others.

REMEMBER: There is NOTHING you can not do IF you want to do it!
Learn to study and create your own study habits that work best for YOU!!!

GAGPTH!!!!!!!!

“Out in Left Field!”

“The National Pastime…a unique game!”

By: Phil Rognier

The game of baseball has been considered the great American national pastime for over a century and a half. Although it may have originally derived its basic concept from the English game of “rounders”, it has evolved into a truly American pastime. Whether Alexander Cartwright or Abner

Abner Doubleday

Abner Doubleday

AlexanderCartwright

Alexander Cartwright

Doubleday founded the game is moot, the game has survived numerous crises, a major scandal in 1919, several strikes, the “steroid era”, and a glut of over-paid underachievers. The love of the game and its generational discussions/debates have transcended the tarnish of the professional game and endured a bridge between father and son, generation to generation.

George Carlin did a stand-up routine regarding the uniqueness of baseball and its comparative qualities to football. His definitions were clever, sardonic, and insightful. He, as have others, boiled the game down to “going home” and playing in a pastoral setting. Baseball is a competitive exercise rather than a “war” between dueling powers. Its uniqueness is extraordinary and has many baffled as to the rules and guidelines as well as who was/is the very best player(s)? Hitter? Pitcher? Team? Era? All are rhetorical, but fun fodder for generations and fans to enjoy and discuss.

Baseball is the most intricate, complex, varied, and intriguing of all team games. As it is a team game, it is primarily based upon individual skill sets. The only thing that counts is the team score, albeit, historical arguments recur as to individual statistics/glories and which players should be deserving of Hall of Fame induction. There are no teams in the Hall…merely a heterogeneous grouping of individual heroes. Moreover, baseball broke the professional “color barrier”, which changed not just the composition of baseball, but lead to integration in all the sports.

Analyzing the game of baseball truly exposes its uniqueness. The game is timeless as the number of outs determines a game’s conclusion not a clock or predetermined time allotment. Theoretically a single game could go on forever and many seem as if they do! One game in the early 1990’s actually lasted 33 innings over a two-day span; there are thousands of extra inning games and few, if any, are determined by a time frame. In baseball, the defense, not the offense, has the ball to initiate play. Furthermore, only the defense is allowed to touch the ball. If an offensive player touches a ball “in fair and in play” he is out! To make it even more difficult and unique, the pitcher is deliberately attempting to deceive the batter(and runners) in order that they do not score. The controversial balk rule adds a very special flavor to the game as well.

In playing the game, each team is assured an equal opportunity on both offense and defense. This is not negotiable and pertains to shortened games as well as extra-inning ones. Each team will have the exact same number of outs unless deemed unnecessary in the final inning; if the home team is ahead they need not bat in the final frame. Each team is allowed the same number of innings, outs, and at bats. The change from offense is not instantaneous, frequent nor unexpected as it happens equally for each team in a schedule fashion.

In most competitive games/sports played with a ball, the offense scores with the ball. In baseball the ball prevents you from scoring and the other team(defense) has it. Interesting as well is the foul line and foul pole: if a ball strikes either one the ball is fair not foul! Possibly the most amazing and extraordinary facet of baseball is that no two plays are ever exactly the same with the variations being infinite in number. Each and every game brings new occurrences and happenings despite having the same basic rules since the mid-1800s. The ball may travel to anywhere on the field at different heights and speeds with players moving to anywhere or in any direction that they deem necessary. Though all teams set the defense basically the same, many have employed special and creative “shifts” to impede exceptional or predictable hitters, utilized five-man infields, and have even used the dastardly hidden ball trick!

A number of rules indigenous to baseball make the game even more intricate and unique. The infield fly rule has confused, mystified, and frustrated fans, players, coaches and even umpires since its inception. The balk rule has been a controversial rule since it was introduced and is further impacted by the umpires’ interpretation(s). Moreover, the strike zone is not “clearly delineated” in everyone’s minds and makes each game, umpires’ decisions, and teams’ reactions an infinitely fun and “emotional” experience.

Baseball truly is unique and an integral part of our American ethos. Besides adding many colorful clichés and metaphors to our lexicon/language(it ain’t over til it’s over”) it has also historically kept us amused during holocaustic times(World Wars, 9-11, etal)..in fact, during the Civil War many times the combatants stopped fighting long enough to actually play a baseball game against each other! Now that is unique! Baseball is not a game where a team can stall for time or “hold on for a win”; it must played “out”. It is the only game where a 12” bunt can be as devastating as a 500 foot home run!

Lastly, the seductiveness of baseball is universal. It seems such an easy game but it requires great mental acuity and focus. The “inner” game of strategy and guile seem to over shadow the skill sets of many of the physicality of the opponent. Pitchers can be “perfect” but hitters can not(.300 or 30% is considered outstanding). Each time one goes to a game, the score can range from 0-0, 1-0, 10-0 or even 28-27(the first college game was 63-47)…heck, go to a youth game and it could be infinite! The game both teases and seduces: ANY team can win a game..the goods ones can lose to the bad ones, almost any team can win the World Series(not so fast mariner fans), and a team can actually have six(6) hits in an inning and not score!

Baseball is our national pastime and despite naysayers, it is the foremost American game/sport.
It has been passed down generation to generation, is talked about everywhere(just get in a NY taxi), it consumes collectors’ lives, and provides the fodder for many vicarious fantasy leaguers.
There is nothing greater to see a kid’s face when he/she hits the ball and runs the bases for the first time, “it just ain’t over ‘til it’s over!”

“Baseball is the only game you can see on the radio” Phil Hersh

OUT IN LEFT FIELD

By Phil Rognier

3
“An important number in baseball, especially at first base”

Historically, the number three has always been a significant number or grouping. The Christian Trinity, Neptune’s trident, the three Magi (wise men) with their three gifts, the three Muskateers, the number of dimensions, earth being the third planet from the sun, and, of course, the Stooges are all examples of three. Less significant but omnipresent, three is the number of porridge-stealing bears, it is the key number in Pi, Faces of Eve, blind mice, primary colors, how bad luck usually arrives, men in a tub, people in “a crowd”, legs on a tripod, wheels on a tricycle, “coins in a fountain”, one of the doors ion “Let’s Make a Deal”, points for a Field Goal in football and long distance shot in basketball, common members in a small ban or singing groups, the number of Thompson Twins, et al. Three is seemingly everywhere!

In the great game of baseball, the number three (3) has a predominant presence as well. Three designates the number of strikes it takes to make an out, the number of outs to fulfill an inning, the number of bases (home is a plate), the number of defensive outfielders, and even the number of fingers of Hall of Fame pitcher Mordecai Brown! Most importantly, however, is that three (3) is the numerical symbol for the first baseman. When scoring, the number 3 is used to signify the first baseman’s involvement in a defensive play: i.e. 6-3 (short to first), L-3 (lineout to first), 3U (first unassisted), 3-6-3 (first to short to first double play), 9-3-2 (right field to first to catcher relay), at al. The first baseman is THREE! (Of course, E-3 is an error and equally as important).

Many first basemen have made their mark in the Major Leagues. In the inceiving years the first baseman had to be a stalwart fielder as well as an outstanding hitter. The prototype was Lou Gehrig (New York Yankees) who was a stalwart defensive player as well as a .340 hitter with big time power. George Sisler (St. Louis Browns) was equally as good on both accounts and hit over .400 one year (he held te4h season record for hits for 84 years until Ichiro broke it in 2004). Others in the first half of the 1900’s with star talent were: Jackie Robinson (began his career at 1B),Bill Terry, Jim Bottomley, Hal Trotsky, Jimmy Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Hal Chase, “Buck” Leonard (Negro League), Frank Chance (Tinkers to Evers to Chance(, and Dan Brouthers. Cap Anson was not only the prototypical first baseman of the 1800’s but also a player-manager.

Beginning in the 1950’s or so, the role and stereotype of the first baseman began to evolve into a different style player. Although defense was still important, it took a back seat to a “larger” player who could hit with power. Although Stan Musial, Mickey Vernon, and others were still All-Stars, the majority of first basemen were “Home Run” sluggers. Ted Kluszewski (a behometh for his era), Gil Hodges, Willy McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Johnny Mize, Jim Gentile, and “Moose” Skowron became the prototypes although many were still very good defensive players. In the mid to late sixties, teams began putting hitters, who were no longer as defensively proficient in their normal positions, on first base. Mickey Mantle, Harmon Killebrew, Frank Robinson, Willie Stargell, Henry Aaron, Rod Carew, Frank Howard, Ernie Banks, and even Pete Rose were moved to the 3 position to keep their bats in the lineup (after 1976 many became DHs in the American League). The same occurred in Japan with the greatest of all the Japanese players, Sadaharu Oh!

In the last couple of years, depending upon the league, there has been a more evenly balanced approach by most teams. The fist base position has been occupied by high-average hitters, power hitters, defensive “golden glovers”, as well as a home for aging stars. Mark McGwire, Albert P ???? and Frank Thomas exemplify the “power 3’s”, Don Mattingly and Todd Helton the hitter-defensive combo, John Olerud, J.J. Snow, and Keith Hernandez the defensive dynamos, and Eddie Murray, Edgar Martinez, Rafael Palmeiro, etal the aging hitters who need to be in the lineup. With the latter group, they all became designated hitters opening first base for other “elder” statesmen of the game.

Reading over the roster of first basemen who have played in the Major Leagues clearly reveals many of the icons of the game and Hall of Famers. Other great players to include: Willie Mays, Nap Lajoie, Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, Hack Wilson, Carl Yastzremski, Yogi Berra, and Carlton Fisk played first at times either to extend their careers or keep their bas in the lineup. Ironically, many of the great first basemen (3’s) hit in the 3 position in the batting order!

OTHER THREE (3) FACTOIDS

  1. Babe Ruth wore the number 3 as a Yankee, which was eventually retired.
  2. Three-time MVP’s: Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella.
  3. .300 is the standard average of a good hitter. .333 is a higher standard.
  4. 3 is the number of the DiMaggio brothers who played Major League baseball: Joe, Vince, Dom
  5. The Triple Crown designates a player who led their league in the three important hitting categories: batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. Two men, Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby did it twice; no one has done it 3 times.
  6. Most famous three (3) home runs: Bobby Thompson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” to defeat the Dodgers in the 1951 NL play-off series. Bill Mazeroski’s walkoff vs Yanks in ’61. Babe Ruth’s “called shot”…??
  7. 3: The number of home runs hit by Babe Ruth in a single World Series game (twice) and Reggie Jackson (on 3 pitches).
  8. Three outs on a single defensive play is a triple play. Although rare, it has occurred more than an unassisted triple play: a play when one defensive player accounts for all three outs! This has been done only 12 times in ML history (most recent by R. Furcal in 2003). One of those was in The World Series.
  9. The biggest and most important E-3: Bill Buckner (Boston) in the 1986 World Series which led to the Mets’ victory and extension of “the curse”.
  10. Three brothers all in the same outfield (for the same team) at the same time” The Alous-Jesus, Felipe, and Matty for the S.F. Giants.
  11. 3: The number of shutouts pitched by Christy Mathewson in a single World Series.
    12. Johnny Mize had five (5) 3 home run games in his career.
  12. 3 feet tall: The approximate height of midget Eddie Gaedel (#1/8) who played in a ML game as part of a Bill Veeck marketing promotion.
  13. 3: The number of Dodgers ending up on third, at the same time, on Babe Herman’s “doubling into a double play”.
  14. 3-2 pitch: Crunch time!
  15. 3 bagger: The triple – the hardest single hit to get to complete the “cycle”.

“So if 3 is so important, does that make the right fielder (9) three times more so?”