Johnny Depp Steals My Idea

Well, not really.  Disney’s New Mad Hatter Display that I pitched to Hill Holiday and Chili’s back in 2008, and they did a great job of it.

Using a flatscreen television, live video and audio, and an ornate picture frame, Disney made a seemingly flat digital display become an interactive attraction where park visitors got to speak directly to the Mad Hatter himself.  It was fantastic!  Check it out below:

Thing is, White Paper on Chili’s Interactive as a Harry Potter promotion in Chili’s restaurants back in 2008. The folks at Hill, Holiday never even responded. If this idea is already eight years old, imagine what we could do now?

White Paper on Chili’s Interactive to see my 2008 white paper on how Chili’s could have used this technology to boost customer visits to their store, while cross-promoting the Harry Potter movies.

The Biggest Lottery Ever – Explained

This Wednesday’s Powerball drawing is for the largest jackpot in US history. The Powerball website lists the jackpot at $1.5 BILLION dollars – but will you really receive $1.5 billion if you win?

Probably not.

There are a few things you should know when expecting to become an overnight billionaire through the lottery.

maxresdefaultFirst, you have to be the only person to win the jackpot in order to get the whole thing. If anybody else has the same numbers as you, you split the jackpot evenly.

Second, the jackpot isn’t for $1.5 billion, it’s actually for $930 million – the jackpot’s “cash value.” You see, the big number the lottery people tell you is the jackpot is actually an estimated return based off an annuity, or an investment (or series of investments) that pay you dividends over a number of years. In the case of Powerball the annuity is 30 years.  That means the lottery people will take the $930 you won, give you some of it, and then invest the rest for 30 years.

Here’s the kicker – if those investments don’t do well, you could be paid less than promised. What if the annuity does better than planned? You get no more than promised.

So with the annuity you’re giving your money to a non-profit organization overseen by members of the government, and hoping that they invest it wisely for you – instead of taking the money yourself and investing it privately. Because you know how the government is known for being financially so wise.

Third, you’re paying taxes every time you get a check, whether you choose the annuity or not. The federal government is going to take $119,996.25 of your first $413,200, then they’re going to take 39.6% of everything you make after that. Then your state is going to tax you if they have income or lottery tax, and then your local county, city, or town may tax you if they have a similar tax.

If you take the cash option when you win, you’re only taxed for that first year.

If you take the annuity, you get taxed EVERY year for 30 years. If your state or local government raises their tax rates, you’ll pay MORE taxes on those years. So with the annuity, you’re already gambling the government will invest your money wisely, and then you’re gambling the government won’t raise taxes – which, you know, they are historically famous for doing.

Lastly, inflation is going to kill the value of your prize if you take the annuity. Inflation is when the cost of goods goes up over time. The cumulative rate of inflation for the last 30 years was about 120%, meaning you’re now paying over twice as much as you were paying for things 30 years ago. Check out this inflation calculator to see what things cost over the last 100 years, and what they cost now.

In summary – if you take the cash value of your jackpot immediately, you’d give up almost half of it in taxes, but still could be worth over half a billion dollars right away! Here in Massachusetts, you’ll get a one-time check for $514,290,000.

If you take the annuity you’re gambling the government gambles well with your money. Even if they gamble well and pay you $50 million every year for 30 years, you’re going to lose 39.6% of that every year, at a minimum, but that will probably increase. Likewise, your dollars become worth less every year, so it effectively becomes a smaller payment.

Your first annuity payment, if you lived in Massachusetts, would come to about $27,650,000, but the 30th payment would feel more like $10,000,000.

The moral to the story here is yeah, the annuity is a piss-poor deal for people who are too lazy to win half a billion dollars and learn how to invest it wisely. But then again, hey, you’re still a freaking multi-millionaire until 2046! Just go buy a ticket!!

Where’s Pat’s Memorial?

As I read in the papers this week that a memorial bench is being dedicated to Puppy Doe here in Quincy, MA, I can’t help but wonder if we as a society have our priorities straight.

I favor the strong new laws punishing those who harm animals.  I believe dogs are the closest things to angels on Earth – they truly are great creatures, and anybody who harms them is a lowlife who should be punished.  If we need to erect a memorial to an unknown dog to help remind people that we don’t accept cruelty to animals, then so be it.

But if we can justify all this time and money to remember Puppy Doe, where’s our memorial to Patrick J. Kelliher?

In 1908, Patrick J. Kelliher was a four year veteran of the Quincy Police Department when he received a call that a group of men were causing trouble on a train.  He went to the Quincy Square station and arrested the lead instigator.  Back then patrolmen didn’t have individual squad cars.  In fact, they didn’t have radios!  Kelliher had to drag his suspect to a nearby call box to get a wagon to pick them up.  While on the phone, the suspect’s friends attacked Kelliher and savagely beat him.

Officer Patrick J. Kelliher's headstone.

Officer Patrick J. Kelliher’s headstone.

Four months later Kelliher died from his injuries.  He was 39 years old.

Is there a monument somewhere in Quincy Center remembering the sacrifice Officer Kelliher made there?  No.  Is there one perhaps in another part of Quincy, maybe somewhere Kelliher enjoyed walking with his wife?  No.

In fact, the only physical remembrance of the sacrifice Officer Kelliher made is his headstone hidden way back in a remote corner of St. Mary’s cemetery on the western edge of Quincy.  It’s in a part of the cemetery you can barely see from the road – if you could even call Reardon St. a road.

Kelliher’s headstone is hidden behind a towering granite wall, and on the other three sides by trees.  Unless you were brought to the location, which I was, or given the geological coordinates, you probably wouldn’t be able to find it.

Way in the background you can barely see the entrance to the small area in which Kelliher's headstone is located.

Way in the background you can barely see the entrance to the small area in which Kelliher’s headstone is located.

How is it conceivable that we’re dedicating a monument to a dog, when we’ve failed to remember a man who dedicated his life – literally gave his life – to us?

In 1938, Quincy Police officers used their own money to build a memorial to departed members of the Quincy Police Relief Association, now known as the Quincy Police Mutual Aid Association.  This isn’t a monument for officers lost in the line of duty, it’s simply a memorial for all of their brothers and sisters who have passed for any reason.  We didn’t erect this, nor did we pay for this.  The cops paid for their own monument.

Since Officer Kelliher’s death, there have been four other Quincy Police officers who have died in the line of duty.  And to be brutally honest, there have been countless cops who suffer from or have succumbed to the stress and emotional trauma they suffer on a daily basis as part of the job.

I think it’s fine Puppy Doe is getting a memorial bench.  But could we perhaps try to remember Pat Kelliher, too?

Why a New Site?

Quite frankly, I got hacked!  Nowadays everyone uses Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn, so a website is really just a digital business card.  I ignored mine for a while, and blammo – I got hosed.

I’ll be rebuilding this site, and updating my portfolio, over the next few weeks – so if you need me, you can always reach me using the info in the contact information section.