Fate of the Furious – the No-Spoiler movie review

My rating: 8/10

This movie has more ups than downs. The scenes are amazing and I have a feeling that small screen will not do them justice. If 10$ is too steep for you, wait for a Saturday morning show at a local AMC or use the free movie ticket options that mobile carriers hand out on Tuesdays. Do what you have to do, go check this one out at a theater.

Good

  1. The sequence the movie begins with is quite cool where Dom is challenged to race with a pitiful excuse of a car.
  2. Rock and Jason Statham. The chemistry they have is amazing. Their witty interaction makes you smile every single time.
  3. I loved the Car\Van\Jeep\Tank\Submarine Chase on the snow. It was something new that I had not seen before and this sequence alone is worth watching the movie for.
  4. It is the right dose of comedy and action and it does have its thrills.
  5. Scott Eastwood is a fresh face and looks like he will be here to stay. (I Cannot help it, I am a sucka for a pretty face).
  6. The individual stunt scenes are as amazing as the ones with the cars. Jason Statham wins the day.

Bad

  1. I know the movie is about Fast cars and its share of car crashes. But sometimes, there is a limit on the number of cars that you can watch getting crashed.
  2. Cheesy Dialogues. Let us be thankful that there are very few non-comic scenes where people are talking. And most of it is very cheesy. I personally love cheesy but I can picture a few folks twitch every time Vin Diesel said ‘Family’.
  3. I am a huge fan of Charlize Theron. I believe they could have made her look more glamorous. I personally did not dig her look in the movie.
  4. Didn’t Statham kill one of their own? wonder what happened to put them all on the same side. So much for Familia.
  5. Scott Eastwood character flip. He started out goofy and towards the end, he was one of them? Transition was too quick to be true.
  6. I love Michelle Rodriguez. They could have done so much more with her character.

The future:

  1. It would be interesting to see what they have in store for Luke Evans. (Owen Shaw)
  2. It would interesting to see if Charlize Theron makes a come back in the next movie(s).
  3. It would be interesting to see if we get #JusticeforHan.

United v Chelsea Apr16,2017

[United fan writing from a United Perspective]

  • Outplayed and outsmarted the champions-elect through every blade of grass at OT.
  • Liverpool away, Tottenham home, Arsenal home and now Chelsea home. One player proved that he is more of a big match player than anybody else. Ander Herrera is quietly becoming Mr ‘Indispensable’ for United.
  • 0 shots on target speaks volumes about the 3 man defense. Bailly at 23 rightly justified Vidic’s claim that he is the heir to his throne.
  • Rashford might have been one of the best players on the pitch but there is definitely a lot of work that needs to be done on his finishing.
  • Spurs can thank United for bringing back life into the title race 🙂

Life – the movie review

My Rating 8/10.

This movie has more ups than downs. So, I am going to give it a 7 on 10. The +1 is for Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal. It is a thought provoking movie so be prepared to come out with a lot of questions about Life.

The Good

  1. Amazing Acting by everyone. There isn’t one person in the cast who hasn’t done justice to their roles. Simply brilliant.
  2. Amazing concept. The storyline deserves a round of applause. I loved the way they started with what proof of life outside earth could mean and the possible cures for most of the health problems faced by the world today.
  3. Literally, some of the best out-of-the-world Cinematography (I can say ‘Literally’ without cringing). Loved the picturization and the rebirth of the alien form. Those were well enacted scenes.

The Bad

  1. There wasn’t enough background on the characters to justify their emotions. There was a lot of disconnect and a whatever information was provided, was done so in few disconnected scenes scattered throughout the movie.
  2. Lack of screen time for Ryan Reynolds. Sorry, couldn’t resist but he should have had more time.
  3. Has a few unanswered questions and doesn’t leave a lot of hope for the viewers. I can’t help but think what happened to the other samples? Did it make its way to the earth?

I should have read about the storyline or watched the trailer before watching this movie. Lesson learnt for the next time. Would I recommend a theatre watch for this one? Probably not. Better wait for a streaming service.

What will stay with me forever: ‘Calvin is not bad or evil. He is simply doing what he should to survive’

Do whatever you want. Others can take a hike!

To start with, I define Kid as anyone between the ages 10 and 15. As a Kid, I watched a lot of informative television channels and had a lot of ideas about what I wanted to do with my life. My mom always made sure there were enough Essay books at home (pre-internet era) so that I was never hungry for knowledge. I had a few very specific ideas about what was right and what was wrong and many a times voicing my opinions to the grown-ups resulted in lengthy debates that would always end up with a ‘You are a kid, wait till you grow up’. Now, around 15 years later, I think ‘Damn, I was a smart kid!’.

  1. I will not visit the Temple Regularly: I come from a religious family. As a kid, I remember Dad going to the temple before work every day. But somehow, as traditional as my parents were, they never forced any religious practices on me. I was encouraged to make my own choices provided I could justify them. Today I am as religious as ever but I do not make a regular habit of visiting any place of worship. I go if I feel like it and my relationship with my god is special and I don’t have to justify it to anyone now.
  2. I will not take a Loan – Ever. I remember a relative scoffing at this idea saying that if I wanted to build a house in future, I would have to go the route a lot of people do. And later in life, I moved to the USA where credit seems to be a way of life. Even dual income families earning over 200K a year live paycheck to paycheck. And somewhere along the way, I ended up buying a Car on a Loan (0% interest – Not that it matters). Not a great decision as I now constantly worry about the 500$ that goes straight to my loan payments and what should happen if there were no payday. Moral of the story – Go with your instincts. Others can shut up.
  3. I will not have a Great Indian Wedding: As far ago as I can remember, I wanted a court wedding where the bride and groom just sign a piece of paper and it is all over in 10 minutes. I have hated the grandiose that comes with a traditional Indian wedding. The 10 odd costume changes that a bride must undergo in under 2 days is enough to give me a headache. I was told this was a silly feeling and that as I near the marrying age, my views will change. The argument being what girl wouldn’t want a fairy tale wedding. Not this one. I couldn’t get everyone on board with the court marriage but I still had my wish with a ‘Blink and You Miss it’ Wedding ceremony.
  4. I will Not Have Kids: I have been saying this for a long time. And as far back as I can recollect, I have been told ‘You will Change your mind’. No, I will not. I am not interested in adding to the world population and I have a detailed post about my reasons for not having kids. I have been lucky to have come across a lot of other men and women who share my views on this topic. That side of the fence is not as Lonely as I have been led to believe.
  5. I want to Retire at 35: I remember a conversation I had with a very successful uncle as a kid. He told me very patiently that 35 is not an age to retire as that is the age when I would start to reap the benefits of all the work that I had put towards my career growth. Fast forward 20 years and my opinions have not changed. I still want to retire at 35, travel the world, maybe start a dog creche, or a local youth center etc. Long story short, as much as I love my job (Yes, I work if I am stuck indoors alone with nothing else to do) I do not want to spend all the time that I have left in this world within my cubicle for 40 hrs a week. Thanks to Money Mustache, I have found out that there are a lot of people out there who do this now.

The point of this post is to let myself and others know that it is OK to think differently. Sometimes the opinions you form as a kid guide you throughout your life and it is OK. There will always be thousands who think you are wrong and will make sure that you know their opinion. Sometimes they maybe your loved ones. Sometimes, they aren’t willing to consider that your choices may be right for you. Whenever you come across this scenario, muster up the best THE ROCK expression you can and say ‘Is that what you think? It doesn’t matter what you think! ‘. At the end of the day, as long as you can justify your actions and decisions to the mirror and you do not cause anyone a discomfort, you are free to live by your choices.

A Pound of Flesh for Refinance

It was a couple of years since I had bought my house. The interest rates had dipped since I had taken the Mortgage. This was a perfect time to utilize refinancing options. Luckily, one my close friends is a lender. I discussed my options with her and agreed upon a refinance plan. She said she will send a list of documents that are required for the process in an email. She warned me that the list would be quite an extensive one. A day later, she sent me a professional email including her colleagues with the following list.

Hello XYZ,
As per our discussion, the following are required for Home Loan Refinance

  1. Last 2 Pay Stubs
  2. Tax Returns for current year
  3. W2s for last 2 years
  4. Homeowners Insurance
  5. Title Insurance
  6. Current mortgage statements
  7. Home equity loans
  8. Credit card Statements
  9. Auto loans
  10. Student loans
  11. Checking Account Statements
  12. Savings accounts Statements
  13. Stocks and Bonds
  14. Mutual funds and CDs
  15. 401K statement for past 2 years
  16. A Pound Flesh
  17. Your First Born
  18. Our real estate logo as a tattoo of allegiance *

Regards
ABC

 

Not to be outdone, I replied:

Hello ABC
I am working through the list of documents and should have everything consolidated and sent to you shortly. I do not wish to add any delays to the process and am currently on my way to get the tattoo. Are you sure that you don’t want me to sport a Mohawk? I believe the last person I spoke to had mentioned that it is needed for processing refinance loans. Awaiting your response
Regards
XYZ

 

* Anyone who has had to refinance their homes will know that the list of documents required is slightly more extensive than this. If you are in USA on a Visa of some sort, more documents will be required.

** This did not happen to me. It is a slightly modified version of what happened to my friend. Thanks to JG for letting me write his story.

*** If you did not get it, look at the list of documents numbered 16-18.

5 Must Do things before one dies!

You will never guess what the top 5 to-do things are before one dies. This list does not include scuba diving with sharks or bungee jumping in New Zealand. This is not an emotional or a traditional bucketlist that follows the path of enjoyment and must-have life experiences.

Unless you are all alone in this world, there will be someone whom you love. This bucketlist is focused on the practical aspects of death the way it affects the people we leave behind to grieve for us.  However out-of-whack my reasons may seem, know that these are useful and necessary things and could save someone a lot of grief someday when we are gone.

  1. Write a Will: I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Everyone should have a will. If you are over the age of 18 and have over 100$ in your bank account, then you need a will. Feel free to modify this as many times as you want in the future but make sure that there is one true will at any point in time.
  1. Have precise Documents: Make sure your near and dear ones know where all the deeds and documents to your possessions are. I have a friend who has a scheduled email with a master list of all his accounts\debts and passwords. Every month, he updates the email and pushes the scheduled date by a month. His argument is, if he dies then his loved one(s) will get the email in a month and they will know what to do.
  1. Death Ceremonies: Let your loved ones know how you wish to be bidden farewell to. Let them know your wishes for Organ Donation. Traditional Burial vs Cremation is the hot topic for debate these days. You can budget for funeral services (seeing as they run upwards of 10,000K these days) and have these funds ready so that you don’t become a burden to your loved ones in your death. Some countries have yearly funeral rites, and these usually have monetary values attached. My grandpa always said – ‘When I die, do not spend money on those who have enough in life. Instead, make sure that you sponsor one full meal at the local orphanage and that is one effective way to pay tribute to me’. And till date, that is what we do.
  1. Let your partner know that it is OK to love again(Or not, depending on the kind of person you are). I personally would like it if my partner would be able to say his goodbyes and move on with his life instead of pining for me. This guilt of falling in love after a better half has passed away can be a bit too much for most of the people.
  1. Always tell your loved ones that you love them. This can also be constituted as a life lesson. Your general happiness will always be better when everyone around you knows that you love them and when you know that you are loved. Repeat this everyday as often as you like. We never know what surprises are waiting for us around the corner.

There are a few other things that I am working on personally like a necessity for DNR but I guessed it would be too much for everyone to handle. So, am keeping the list short at 5 Must do things before one dies. So, regardless of your age, start working on the above 5.

 

4 Golden Rules to Save Money

How to save Money ?

I have always feared running out of money or not having some when I need it the most. A few silly experiences (like the ones below) in the past have gotten me this way.

1. As a student studying in a different town, there was this time when my bus ride home broke down in the middle of nowhere. I had wiped my purse clean to pay for the bus ticket. I had no possible means of getting a taxi or even calling my father to let him know where I was. (Pre credit card era, pre mobile phone era). This scared the S#@% out of me and I thank god that I reached home safe and sound.

2. After 6 months of a well-paying IT job, I had to move to another location. I had 0 in savings and had to borrow money from mom to pay the deposit at the working women’s hostel. Asking money from anyone embarrasses me (I can ask money only from my better half and even that takes some serious effort). That was the last time I asked anyone for money since I started earning.

I had never had problems saving money in my home country as my job was one of the better paying ones. Then I moved to the US of A for job and that is when crazy money habits sprang out of nowhere. I fell a victim to the bling and glitz of the marketing industry and soon I had a bunch of things that I did not really need (2 years ago, I retail bought a brand new quesadilla maker that till-date hasn’t seen light of the day). The only thing that saved me from going overboard was the fact that I have a thing against loans and credits. If left by myself, I shall always live within my means which results in never having a credit card debt.

At the end of year 01 in the USA, I had not met my yearly savings goal, which should not have been too difficult had I paid any attention to my finances. Instead I had a meager amount in my account. I justified the lack of funds by saying I had seen a lot of the country and I had a lot of one-time purchases for setting up my rented apartment. I had seen most of the east coast – all the way from Niagara Falls and New Hampshire to Universal Studios at Orlando, Florida. But a midway budget exercise through year 02 pointed out that I was headed out for a year like the first.

Since then, the following steps have put me on my path of attaining my savings goal. I expect the savings to provide me with some emergency cash should I ever be in need. Following rules helped me a lot and by end of this year.

1. For every new purchase that will go into your wardrobe, 1 piece must be discarded. This applies to dresses, t-shirts, pants, tops, socks, and even shoes etc. There shall be no exception to this rule.

2. For every purchase that costs over 100$, research the following. And once the product has been purchased, do not upgrade till it becomes non-usable. (My Samsung Note 2 lasted me 3.5 years and never needed an update till I tried something silly and broke it.)
 Do you really need it?
 Price Trends for the past year.
 Possible offers on any site.
 Quality of the product and an option of purchasing it used from Craigslist.

3. Food – If it comes in a packet and will be ready to eat in minutes, DO NOT BUY IT. Learn to cook from scratch. It is simple, easy and does not take a lot of time. If you live alone – You will be cooking for 1 which is easy. If you live with others, they can help with the Prep and clean part of cooking. Either way, a grocery bill for a family of 3 will never exceed 100$ per week (even if you purchase organic food). In other words, if there are 3 mouths to feed and you eat food 3 times a day, it will be 63 plates of food at 100$. This comes with 2 benefits,
 Your health will improve significantly.
 Your finances will improve significantly.

4. Pay off your credit card completely every month. This is the only way to live a debt free life. Regardless of your income, credit card interests are in the NOT AFFORDABLE territory.

In the end, the money is always spent on the following 4 categories – Food, Clothes, Shelter and Miscellaneous. I have learnt how to save on the Food, Clothes and Misc categories. However the part where savings come from ‘Shelter’ is a new concept to me and I am still researching Buy vs Rent.

Where is my Money??

Where is our money going?

Between my husband and I, we are spending over 3000$ a month. We don’t have any expensive hobbies or habits. We don’t eat out more than twice a week (the month is question is an exception). We pack our lunch every day. We do not buy packaged food and almost cook everything from scratch. So, what I found out on a recent budget experiment is freaking me out.

Row Labels Sum of Cost
Eat Out 527.96
Grocery 329.49
Household 21.7
Monthly Recurring Cost 1815.06
Yearly Recurring  Cost 378.94
One time Travel Expense 73.5
Grand Total 3146.65

For most of you reading this article, 3000$ a month might come across as a right amount to be spending. But keep in mind that we do not have any kids or pets. 3000$ a month adds up to a cool 36,000$ a year. and that is a salary of around 50,000$ pretax.  So how do a vast majority of Americans live on an income less than 50,000$ per family ?And the above does not include the commuter train pass and the health insurance premium that is deducted from paycheck every month. Nor does it include any purchases like clothes. It does however include a small trip to Charlotte but that should still not matter a lot in the grand scheme of things. We also did entertain a few friends at restaurants and maybe I should not be so hard on myself.

The realization that if only one of us were working, we wouldn’t be able to lead this lifestyle is getting on my nerves. Over the next few months, my aim is to get the Total Monthly expenditure to less than 2K a month. It will be some hard work but I am ready for a challenge and honestly believe that it can be done. Following is my Plan of action

  1. Reduce Eat Outs to 100$ or less per head so that the total jumps from 527 to 200. Saving us 300$ a month.
  2. My Monthly Recurring Charges are below. The Car is on a 0% Interest Loan and I am not sure paying it off at one go will solve my problems. I still have 4 years on that loan. The home is in a part of country from where we are trying to move. Changing the rent to mortage will not be helpful. 
    Row Labels Sum of Cost
    Car Loan Repayment and Phone 500
    Car Insurance Feb 100.34
    Netflix Feb 12.71
    Energy 23.4
    Internet Bill 42.66
    Rent + Utilities 1095.95
    Phone 30
    International Calling 10
    Grand Total 1815.06

    3. The monthly grocery bill usually does not add up to a number greater than 250$. So, an investigation is needed into what is making this jump high.

In the meantime, any suggestions are welcome on costs that could be avoided.

 

 

Beauty and the Beast – 3/5

**No Spoilers in this post. I wonder what spoiler you are looking for in a story that we all grew up reading about!

My 7 yr old niece’s reaction my rating for this movie – ‘ You will not get it. You are a grown up. I loved the movie’

This movie is not worth a theater visit. I would suggest folks to wait for the rental. There are a few small things that make or break a movie. In this movie, the small things were enough to break it for me. My reasons are simple.

The Good

  1. The Beast’s Expressions and dialogues – I loved the way the emotions were displayed on the beast’s face. The dialogues were well written. I could feel his emotions – the pain, the hopelessness, the weariness and hope and in the end- love, all through the beautiful expressions.
  2. Gaston and Lefou – They carry the weight of the movie on their shoulders. It was a pleasure to see them interact.
  3. The music – It was a bit irritating to see that the music type kept changing throughout the scenes. Nevertheless, it was an amazing musical treat.
  4. The Dance – This is one scene that I wish did not end. I could have taken at least 5 more minutes of this. The one perfect scene ended a little too soon.

The Bad

  1. Emma Watson – could have done better. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Emma Watson Fan. But for the life of me, I could not relate to her character\acting in the movie. I found that she could not match the beast’s expressions.
  2. The Curse – This scene could have been something amazing (remember Maleficent?) instead the angel looked tired and haggard even when she was supposed to look beautiful.
  3. The lack of screen time between the beauty and the beast. They hardly had any screen time together. The back stories and the inanimate objects took most of the screen time.

So, long story short. If I were you, I would wait for a few months to watch it on the television. Disney movies have a charm about them. They take you to fantasy land and you get to forget everything else till the movie ends. This movie did not do that for me.

Should I save Money?

Honestly, I do not know but I do it anyway. Why? Because of the too many articles that I have been reading about what happens during retirement when health expenses rise exponentially and income is almost negligent. There are too many ‘what-ifs’ that are driving me to save money for my future. Following are 3 examples from people I know and their money saving model.

  1. Save, save, save:
    • Saves 70% of the paycheck
    • I don’t have binge shopping sprees. Almost all purchases are well planned.
    • I indulge myself with Lunch\dinners outside at least twice a week and Starbucks- maybe twice a month as so on.
    • For any purchase over 100$, I sit with the decision for a day before I buy it.
    • I am not cheap but I do not spend on unnecessary stuff.
    • Summary: I am on track for retirement. I wish to retire by the time I hit 35 or 40. I do not wish to work for all the good years of my life. I have a huge bucket list that I must get started on soon.
  2. Save first, spend later: Saves 40% of his paycheck
    • This is my husband’s style of saving. He puts away a part of his paycheck into savings as soon as he gets it.
    • He makes it a point to spend the rest of it even if it involves things that are marginally in the ‘I may want this’ list.
    • Thanks to this, we indulge in a lot of trips and travels.
    • Summary: He is on track for retirement as any other human being. He is happy today, he will be happy later. His wants are modest and he has no early retirement plans.
  3. Why save? Future shall take care of itself. Saves 0% of his paycheck.
    • This is a friend’s style of money management. Every time he had a salary hike, his lifestyle had a corresponding upgrade.
    • He always has the latest gadgets, fancy cars, expensive hobbies.
    • He also has the finest Steaks and lamb shanks for lunch\dinner every day.
    • He leads a credit based lifestyle.
    • Summary: He has no plans to start saving for future. He believes that no one knows what the future holds and he is happy to live in the present.

Each of us believes that our money management skills are better than the skills possessed by the other two. All of us are happy with our lifestyles and maybe at the end of the day, that is all that matters. Being content in our own money managing skills and not having to worry about the future.