3.31.2015

On Boycotts and Hypocrisy




Of Indiana boycotts and hypocrisy: Why stop there?

Excerpt:

What's especially galling about the recent moves to boycott Indiana is that so many of the newly energized boycotters have no problem whatsoever doing business in countries whose governments promote and even carry out mind-boggling discrimination against LGBT people.:
  • EMC Corp., which reportedly withdrew from a convention in Indiana over the issue, derives about 28.6 percent of its revenue from a region that includes the Middle East and Africa and 13.1 percent from what's listed as the "Asia Pacific" region. EMC's website lists a contact in Lagos, Nigeria, where execution of gay people is allowed in some circumstances.
  • Apple Inc., whose CEO Tim Cook took a sharp jab at Indiana over the law, just won permission to do business in Saudi Arabia under its own name. Saudi Arabian law provides for execution of people caught in sexual acts with people of the same gender.
Comment: Image source of Koran / Bible in toilets. The infamous Piss Christ (click through for image) was funded in part by the taxpayer-funded National Endowment for the Arts. Can  you imagine the uproar if there were a similarly themed "Piss Mohammed"?!

The end of "Booth Babes"?



Scantily clad booth babes at tech trade shows get wardrobe check

Excerpt:

Anyone who's been to a technology trade show is probably familiar with the so-called booth babes -- attractive women, wearing as little as possible, hired to tout tech products. Some don bikinis, short-shorts or minidresses; others come dressed in tight leather outfits or costumes, a la Catwoman, Xena the warrior princess, and Star Wars' Princess Leia in a gold bikini. In one notable case, the exhibitors had their booth babes dressed in paint and little else. Booth babes are the Vanna Whites of the technology world, meant to reel in bedazzled male onlookers and then show off a company's products. But they've also been the subject of debate, with many critics saying it's demeaning for companies to treat women as sexualized props. A few associations are now looking to end the practice of provocative clothing at tech trade shows. RSA Conference, which hosts the world's largest security conference, announced last week it's banning scantily clad dress at its five-day trade show in San Francisco next month.
Comment: Image snap from here. I tried to find the most modest of booth babes (and had to go back about 50 years!)  If anyone has been to a car show he knows "the problem": too much skin!

Dreaming of your very own "Ponderosa"?



Here's the website for you: Sports Afield Trophy Properties

Sports Afield Trophy Properties is the former Cabela's Trophy Properties

I always search for the largest by acreage. Image source above = Wikipedia. Example of my "dream":


More of a sailing person? Dreaming of a yacht? Try Yachtworld


3.30.2015

Caribou Coffee Launches Workday Roast, Coffee that Stays Hot for Eight Hours






Caribou Coffee Launches Workday Roast, Coffee that Stays Hot for Eight Hours

Excerpt:

The beans in Caribou's Workday Roast contain natural inherent compounds that when exposed to water, produce a slow exothermic reaction and allow the coffee to self-heat for eight hours. The Minneapolis-based coffee company sourced the coffee beans from the island of Pilosa Flor, off the coast of Papua New Guinea. "We trek the globe to work with sustainable farmers to produce top-quality coffee," said Nate Hrobak, Caribou Coffee Roastmaster. "Our friends in Papua New Guinea talked about the island of Pilosa Flor housing a unique terrain that is not ubiquitous in traditional coffee-yielding territories. Once the beans were harvested and brought back to our Roastery, we noticed the beans contained drastically different compounds but were shocked that the coffee stayed hot for that long." Workday Roast will stay hot for an entire workday and is expected to increase productivity by three percent, saving the average employee 14 minutes each day by eliminating the need to discard cold coffee. The new Workday Roast is a full-bodied medium roast with notes of nutmeg and anise. Workday Roast will be available April 1 in Caribou Coffee's 400 domestic stores,
Comment: Do your best to hold it in your bladder! Would make for painful urination. Top image source.

Last year's:



University of Minnesota Clostridium difficile study published



Fecal Transplant Treats Serious, Recurrent Intestinal Infection
Excerpt:

Fecal transplants, using stool from a donor, have been successful at treating a serious gut infection, researchers report. The infection is called Clostridium difficile. It causes diarrhea and severe abdominal pain and kills thousands of people worldwide each year, the authors of the small study explained. It's believed that the infection overwhelms the good bacteria required to maintain a healthy intestine. The fecal transplant method was developed to treat people with C. difficile infections, particularly those who have repeat infections. Fecal matter is collected from a donor, purified, mixed with a saline solution and transferred to the patient, usually by colonoscopy. However, not much is known about the long-term stability of fecal transplants, the University of Minnesota researchers pointed out. The study, published in the current issue of the journal Microbiome, included 14 people who had recurring C. difficile infections. Four received fecal transplants. The healthy changes in the patients' intestinal bacterial populations ("microbiome") were sustained for up to 21 weeks after transplant, according to the report.
Comment: Full article of the study in Microbiome (too technical for me!). I am 837 days post Fecal Transplant

Life imitating "The Office"

Police: Driver follows GPS off bridge ramp Excerpt:

Police say a driver apparently was following GPS navigation when he drove off the ramp to a demolished bridge that had been closed since 2009, killing his wife. The Times of Munster reports 51-year-old Zohra Hussain of Chicago died of burns after the car caught fire following the 37-foot plunge Saturday morning onto property owned by BP. Her 64-year-old husband, Iftikhar Hussain, survived. Lake County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Patricia Van Til says the road is marked with numerous barricades including orange barrels and cones, large wood signs stating ROAD CLOSED with orange striped markings and concrete barricades across the road. Construction of a new bridge over the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal is scheduled to begin this spring

Non-Savers "don't see a correlation between where they are now and where they will be"



Guess what? America's best savers aren't wealthy

Excerpt:

A quarter of middle-class households (those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually) set aside more than 15 percent of their income, according to a survey that accompanied Bankrate's March Financial Security Index. That money is rerouted from their daily expenses to fund long-term goals such as a retirement investment plan or an emergency savings account. Comparatively, 8 percent of lower wage earners contributed this much. And only 17 percent of the highest earners in the survey (households making $75,000 and above) elected to put the same amount of their salaries away for a rainy day. "Middle-class Americans (have) to do the saving, because nobody is going to do it for them," says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate's chief financial analyst. "They don't have the six-figure income to fall back on" for expenses, including household emergencies, long-term health care, children's education or their own retirement. In contrast, people between 18 and 29 years old -- the youngest group in the survey -- were the most likely to save relatively little: 37 percent said they save 5 percent or less. Another 18 percent said they save nothing at all. "They don't see a correlation between where they are now and where they will be," independent budgeting expert Tiffany Aliche says.
Comment: Image source: The origin of the Piggy Bank. Jim's simple savings tips:

  • Eat out less
  • Travel less (we've had great times just going to a neighboring state!)
  • Less clothes
  • Older cars
  • Simpler gifting. 
  • Enjoying the simple things of life 


Chicago's shell game



How Chicago has used financial engineering to paper over its massive budget gap
Excerpt:

Two administrations have:
  • Used long-term debt to finance everyday expenses and maintenance;
  • Used long-term debt to finance judgments and settlements, including police brutality cases, and retroactive wage increases and pension contributions for its unionized employees;
  • Restructured the city’s existing debt to extend the maturities on its bonds far out into the future in order to avoid having to pay the debt as it was coming due;
  • Borrowed more money than it needed in order to make payments on the bonds its was issuing to avoid debt service expenses, essentially using debt to pay debt; and
  • Possibly used the city’s portfolio of interest rate derivatives as an ATM.
Comment: "Conjurer Bosch" by Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450–1516). See wiki on shell game. Next decade's Detroit!

The "dystopian “Mad Max” scenario if Iran gets nukes"



Obama’s race to chaos

Excerpt:

Close your eyes and imagine that those countries and terrorists have nuclear weapons. Imagine their barbarism going nuclear as they blow up cities, wipe out ethnic and religious groups and turn the region into cinders. Now open your eyes and realize you’ve seen the future, thanks to President Obama’s policies. It is a future that will be defined by Obama’s Wars. Yes, plural. I’ve written frequently about the likelihood of a dystopian “Mad Max” scenario if Iran gets nukes. My thinking is guided by a belief among American military and intelligence officials that a nuclear exchange would take place in the Mideast within five years of Iran getting the bomb. To judge from events, the future is arriving ahead of schedule.

... Iran wants it both ways — nukes and a free hand to impose its Islamic Revolution throughout the region. Against all good sense and the lessons of history, Obama is saying yes and yes. Sightings of the Revolutionary Guard leader, Maj. Gen. Qasem Suleimani, leading Iranian-sponsored militias against the Islamic State in Iraq has spread alarm throughout the region. The fears reached a fever pitch when Iranian-allied Houthi rebels took over Yemen, chasing out our soldiers and allies with chants of “Death to America, death to Israel.”

... The nuclear program will have the United Nations’ stamp of approval, as will Iranian control of four Arab capitals — Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad and now Sanaa, Yemen. Indeed, Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry suggest Iran even could be an ally in the fight against the Islamic State and al Qaeda. Already there has been coordination there, leading critics to say America is acting as the Iranian air force. Israel, of course, sees the pattern as insane and a threat because Iran has threatened to wipe it off the face of the Earth. In retaliation for complaining about the nuke deal, Obama denounces our ally and threatens to “re-evaluate” our support for the Jewish state. But Israel is not alone, with our Sunni Arab allies also viewing Iran as their mortal enemy. Sen. John McCain quoted one of those Arab leaders as concluding, “We believe it is more dangerous to be a friend of America’s than an enemy.” These are unprecedented developments, veering so far from the norm and happening so fast that consequences are piling up faster than they can be comprehended. Alliances built over decades are shattered in a relative flash, inviting aggression and endless conflict. The toxic brew of Islamic fanaticism and nuclear proliferation could ignite a world conflagration.
Comment: Image source. See also


Disastrous Iran deal may prove fatal to Israel

In his determination to strike a deal with Iran over its nuclear weapons program (which Iran has denied exists, so what is the U.S. negotiating?), President Obama has traded history, facts and reality for a potential deal with a regime that promotes terrorism around the world and is busy attaching Iraq to its vision of a greater Persian Empire. Last Saturday, Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei again called for "Death to America," just one day after President Obama appealed to Iranians in a video message to seize a "historic opportunity" for a nuclear deal and a better future. The leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, also continues to use inflammatory rhetoric about the ultimate destruction of Israel. What should this tell us? The president is cozying up to a nation that oppresses women, has an apocalyptic view of the world and believes that if it starts a nuclear war the 12th Imam -- the Islamic messiah -- will emerge from a well and bring peace on Earth and good will, at least to Shia Muslim men. Women will remain subject to male domination and have only the few rights given to them by men.

Yet more: Iran like a modern day Nazi Germany: Ex-CIA chief:
Iran is trying to expand its empire much like Hitler's Germany before World War II, former CIA Director James Woolsey said Monday, citing Tehran's moves to exert its influence in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. "They are doing it on a highly ideological basis. They never cease chanting 'Death to Israel' and 'Death to the United States,'" Woolsey said in a CNBC " Squawk Box " interview. "They are an imperial power and trying to become more of an imperial power." Woolsey called for a halt in the six-nation nuclear talks with Iran, which include the U.S. "Given Iran's aggressiveness and the fanaticism of its leaders, I don't think we can do a reasonable deal with them. They'll cheat." Regardless of whether an agreement can be reached to curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions with verification measures, the rogue nation could have nuclear weapons capabilities in a "year or so," Woolsey said. "If we stop the talks, clamp further sanctions, introduce far more competition than exists today into the oil business ... we could slow them down." Speculating on why the U.S. is participating, he said, "I think the president wants a good relationship with Iran and an agreement so he can claim a diplomatic victory."

3.28.2015

Depraved Sinner or Depressed Psycho?





Killer co-pilot sought treatment for problems with his VISION: Haunting selfie emerges of Andreas Lubitz as it emerges he was suffering from 'serious psychosomatic illness' 

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice [evil-mindedness] (NKJV) (Romans 1:29) (NIV)
Comment: Source of "heinous act" quote is WND. Unthinkable acts like the Germanwings Flight 9525 mass murder cause one to wonder about the nature of evil. Some atheists claim that religion is evil, but as Frank Turek notes "evil [that] the civilized world abhor(s) doesn't disprove God—it disproves atheism." The phrase "evil-mindedness" above is a translation of the hapax legomena (meaning: "occurs only once in the New Testament") κακοήθεια. κακοήθεια means "malignant subtlety, malicious craftiness". As our society degrades we seem to be seeing malicious inventions of killing in greater degrees of magnificent wickedness. 10 years ago one could not imagine the IPhone. And 10 years ago one could not imagine the wicked act of March 24th. One the horizon will be greater technological advancements ... and greater evil acts and wicked actors. Albert Mohler commented on this evil in a recent briefing:
there is now evidence that there was an intentionality behind this that goes beyond our moral imagination. Or that’s at least what the international media are now saying, that it goes beyond our moral imagination. Of course that’s not exactly true; this doesn’t go beyond our imagination. It just enters into the realm of moral horror

Mission Passion Profession Vocation Purpose Graph




Finding your life purpose

Excerpt:


  • Passion: Is that which you love. The thing that sets your soul on fire. Something you think about constantly, and when apart from it, you count the minutes until you are with it again. The object of your passion could be a person, a job, a place, a food, a pet or a combination of all. When you are passionate about something, you can’t stop talking about it, or trying to learn more about it.
  • Mission: Is that which the world needs, and you are going to provide it for the world. Your mission, like your passion, drives you. But rather than coming from an internal place, a mission is usually doing something for someone other than yourself.
  • Vocation: Something that you can be paid for, usually your job. Your vocation is what gets you up each day and sends you off to work so that you can support yourself and your family. Some people are more attached to their vocation than others.
  • Profession: Is that which you are good at, and is closely aligned with vocation. You can call yourself a professional when you have reached a certain level of expertise in your job.
When these four components all intersect, you have arrived at your life purpose, for example: “Life purpose is when you have found something for which you get paid, and which you have a high level of expertise in that fires you up and inspires you every day to improve. Not only does your life purpose provide comfort for yourself, it also does good for others.”
Comment: Interesting graph. Source. Starecat. I need to think about this more but my initial take is thoughtful but not in complete agreement. What do you think?

  • My life purpose ... to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. I know I do this imprecisely : "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21)
  • My job or career: Information Technology (IT). There's a lot I love about IT. Some I don't like
  • The world needs it? Well IT jobs are generally in demand. In an economic sense I am in the supply (I supply my time and talent) and demand (my company still wants me) zone. 
  • Am I great at it? I would probably give myself a B+ here. 
There are some other good images of this on the Internet: here and here. Or use this search


3.27.2015

Coming low stock returns? "treat every nickel like a manhole cover"



The New Era of Low Stock Returns

Excerpt:

Leading investment analysts think you will be lucky to squeeze out an average return of 2% annually, after inflation and fees, from a typical portfolio of stocks and bonds over the coming decade or so.

.... Over time, the return on stocks after inflation has tended to come very close to the sum of two numbers: dividend yield—total dividends over the past year divided by the current share price—plus the inflation-adjusted growth rate in dividends. The yield on the S&P 500 is 2%. For more than a century, the growth rate has averaged about 1.5% after inflation. Add those two numbers and you get 3.5%. Now consider that the yield—interest income divided by price—on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes is 2% and that the government’s core measure of inflation is running at about 1.7% annually. If you have half your portfolio in stocks that return 3.5% and half in bonds that return 0.3%, you will earn about 1.9% after inflation. If stocks average the 2.5% return from Prof. Shiller’s data, then a balanced portfolio will return only 1.4% after inflation. (These numbers assume no fees, taxes or trading costs.)
Comment: Image source: Manhole cover - Oslo. Quote "treat every nickel like a manhole cover" is from the article with a context of using low-cost index funds or ETFs and minimizing advisor fees. As for us, we do not use a financial advisor. Our mistakes and successes are our own. My own target is 3% return from dividends and growth that matches inflation.

3.26.2015

Plate Tectonics and Oreos




Parents Must Sign Permission Slip Before Kids Can Eat Oreos

Comments: Permission slip image from the article. Plate Tectonics image source. Oreos from Wiki article. Interesting Oreo (but not plate tectonics) facts.

Texas .... a hot state for In-migration





Americans Love Big Hot Suburbs

Excerpt:


The new Census population estimates are out today, and only two metros added more than 100,000 people between July 2013 and July 2014. Houston and Dallas—both in Texas. Only one metro with a population greater than 1 million people grew by 3 percent last year. It's Austin—also in Texas. And you'll never guess what state had the most entries in the list of 50 counties with the greatest population gains. I'm kidding, you definitely will guess, because it's Texas.
Comment: Half of my family lives in Texas. Chart source ... image capture from article.

Money Advice



9 Basic Pieces of Money-Saving Advice No One Follows -- But Should
Excerpt:


  1. Run your financial life like a business.
  2. Make saving part of your lifestyle.
  3. Save the difference.
  4. Automate the process.
  5. Seek advice on your 401(k).
  6. Save your spare change.
  7. Fill a need.
  8. Live like a student.
  9. Trick yourself.
Comment: Image source.  I always find articles like this interesting. One thing we do well (but haven't always) is "automate the process". Upon paydays we have automated withdrawals to savings and then live on the rest.

3.23.2015

Bill Clinton: A real apology is needed .... not just "treacly crap"



What Bill Clinton still owes Monica Lewinsky

Excerpt:

All I can find on the record is an account of his 1998 speech to a roomful of religious leaders at a White House prayer breakfast in which he famously said, “I have sinned.”

“It is important to me that everybody who has been hurt know that the sorrow I feel is genuine: first and most important, my family; also my friends, my staff, my Cabinet, Monica Lewinsky and her family, and the American people. I have asked all for their forgiveness.”

If that’s all, then it won’t do. You cannot put Lewinsky in the same sentence as the White House staff and Cabinet, not to mention “the American people.” Clinton’s aides were deceived and inconvenienced, and some were hopping mad, but none of them were flamed on the Internet, denounced as a tramp and a stalker, viciously condemned by commentators of both sexes, including a covey of journalistic harridans who have forever been on the lookout for any suggestion of extramarital sex in Washington. They simply won’t permit it.

Jessica Bennett, the writer of the commendably sympathetic Times piece, found Lewinsky to be “acutely intelligent, something for which she does not get much credit.” Actually, she does. Both her defense lawyers and even the prosecutors described her as both charming and smart, but it was important for her critics to consider her a crazed ditz, as if Clinton was her victim and could not have been genuinely charmed by her. (Remember how much they talked on the phone.) Lewinsky represented a middle-aged woman’s worst fear: the on-the-prowl young woman they once themselves were. She had to be dealt with.

I like Bill Clinton — always have. I think he was a very good president, and I think he’s a remarkable man, moral in a macro way. But I think his “I have sinned” statement is treacly crap, so generalized as to be meaningless. As he once acknowledged to me, he is forever linked to Lewinsky
Comment: Word of the day = "treacly". Image source. As for me ... I think he is immoral in a macro way!

The "Law of Unintended Consequences" and "Plain Packaging"



Despite a wave of regulation in Europe to ban branding on cigarette packages, tobacco shares have outperformed

Excerpt:

As with other major tobacco legislation—from advertising restrictions to bans on smoking in public—authorities hope plain packaging will reduce smoking rates. That means sales volumes at tobacco companies are likely to fall, as they have for many years across the industry. ... But with volumes in long-term decline, tobacco companies invest less in production facilities and new machinery. Not to mention the millions of dollars saved every year through advertising restrictions. That frees up cash, which is largely returned to investors. Europe’s three major listed tobacco companies have averaged dividend yields of just over 4% in the last three years, compared with 2.7% on the pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index, according to FactSet. Some tobacco investors say plain packaging—which requires large, graphic health warnings on packs—could even benefit the companies because it will lock in market share. “Regulation has made it almost impossible to build a new brand,” said Simon Raubenheimer, a portfolio manager at Allan Gray Proprietary Ltd., a top British American Tobacco PLC shareholder. “The barriers to entry are massive. That’s probably the biggest positive.”

Comment: Imagine .... "Plain Packaging" advantages tobacco companies because it saves them money on advertisting and hinders competition. Image source. I do not invest in tobacco stocks despite their attractive dividends.

The stocks:






3.19.2015

"10-2-4" is the Doctor's Prescription for Centenarian



Dr. Pepper The Doctor Of Choice For A 104-Year-Old Woman

Excerpt:

A Fort Worth woman is celebrating her 104th year of life. “Well at 103 I didn’t think I’d make it, but I’m still perking along.” At 104 years old, Elizabeth Sullivan says she doesn’t need the advice of real doctors. So she keeps another doctor close by. “People try to give me coffee for breakfast. Well, I’d rather have a Dr. Pepper.” Sullivan fell in love with the soft drink’s trademark “23 flavors” when she was in her 60’s. “I started drinking them about 40 years ago. Three a day. Every doctor that sees me says they’ll kill you, but they die and I don’t. So there must be a mistake somewhere.”
Comment: The old bottles of Dr Pepper had "10 2 4" advertising slogan: "Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4." Image source. Dr Pepper history site.

3.18.2015

Retirement: " known knowns ... known unknowns ... unknown unknowns"



Here's one way not to fall short on retirement $$$

From the video: (if one makes $ 100,000)

  • If one is saving $ 10,000 per year that reduces the financial need by that amount
  • Also will not be paying payroll taxes that are 7.65% of paycheck
Channeling Rumseld's quote:
  • Known knowns:
    • While I expect to be able to save, we won't be saving & investing at our our current rate.
    • No need to pay for contracted downtown underground parking
    • We know what our social security income will be (or closely estimated)
    • We know what our pensions will be (or closely estimated)
  • Known unknowns:
    • We know our state and federal income taxes will be less. But what will be the new normal?
    • I have a general sense what our healthcare costs will be but will need to be more precise. 
    • We will not have dental insurance from our company but Delta sells individual plans. Needed?
    • Same with vision insurance. Provider. Needed?
    • How much will we need to draw from IRAs? When will we need to start?

3.16.2015

Ferguson: Riot and Ruin



Ferguson home values are plummeting, and residents are feeling the pain

Excerpt:

The average selling price of a home in the city has been on a steady decline since the shooting of Brown last August, according to housing data compiled from MARIS, an information and statistics service for real estate agents. Prior to Brown’s death, the average home sold in 2014 was selling for $66,764. For the last three and a half months of the year, the average home sold for $36,168, a 46 percent decrease. The trend has continued on through this year, with the average home selling for only $22,951 so far in 2015. Another negative indicator: in the eight and a half months leading up to Brown’s death, the average residential square foot in 2014 was selling for $45.82. In the eight and a half months since Brown’s passing, the average residential square foot in the city has sold for $24.11. That’s about a 47 percent downtick in one of real estate’s core indicators. “This is not normal for the region,” says Crista Patton, a local REMAX real estate agent who helped get these numbers for Fusion. “Last time I pulled up numbers like this for a neighborhood around here, we were seeing the market going up,” she says. “In St. Louis in general, the market is going up, and as a whole it’s almost completely recovered from the recession.”
Comment:If experience is any guide, it will take decades to recover. See Zillow search

Apple's IWatch app that is basically just an advertisement for the IWatch - and you can't remove it!



Apple's latest iPhone update includes Apple Watch app you can't delete

Excerpt:

What better way to convince Apple iPhone users they should shell out hundreds if not thousands of dollars for the latest gadget than an app you can't remove from your smartphone? After updating your iPhone to latest version of Apple's iOS 8 mobile operating system -- technically iOS version 8.2, which was released Monday -- you'll notice the addition of a new app labeled Apple Watch. It's the software hub that lets owners of Apple's new smartwatch pair the gadget with their iPhone, control certain watch settings and download new wearable apps.
Comment: Image source is screen snap from here. I'm more likely to buy a Rolex than an IWatch (and that's not very likely!)

Today I bought my "passion"



Harley Davidson

Comment: Not the motorcycle (image source screen capture from Harley Davidson website). Today I bought some HOG! Passion fulfilled!

3.11.2015

Investing: "valuation is our North Star"



Next up for stocks: Bubble or Bust.
Excerpt:


As I’ve always written, valuation is our North Star. I will never purchase an asset that I believe to be uneconomically priced just because I think it’s “going higher.” I believe that this is the only responsible way to invest. We’ll keep navigating towards that North Star even if others drift off in another current, because we know that this is the only way for us to navigate our ship soundly so that we reach our long term objectives.
Comment: Image Source. The above is not taken out of context but is but a small part of a longer blog post. It's worth a read about the various "phases" of the market. The author fears we are nearing a "bubble phase" (defined in the Wiki article as "when market participants drive stock prices above their value in relation to some system of stock valuation."). I am far, far from being an investing expert, but one must be an investor. I ask myself these questions:

  • What will a stock (or equity) do for me today (is there some yield returned to the investor in the form of a dividend)?
  • Is there a strong probability that that yield will be returned to me in the future? I've made some mistakes here where I chased high yields that a firm was unable to sustain.
  • Am I comfortable with the risk? There is upside potential and downside risk. 
  • Example: A stock that I have a small position in but am probably to expand is IBM. The yield is 2.8%. 100 shares would provide me $ 440 per year of income for an investment of $ 16,000. Filtered though my above criteria: Is there a yield? Yes! Is there a strong probability that that yield is sustainable? My take is "yes". Am I comfortable with the risk? In the case of IBM, I personally am.
  • Further I use the slipperly stones analogy. I am walking on wet stones. I know one of them will be slippery. As I walk I spread my steps as wide as possible to make sure that if one stone slips, there will be a stone that doesn't so I will not fall. Of course this is all about  diversification. I will not risk all on one investment. Image source of below.



3.09.2015

Gertrude Weaver and her 6,500,000 "peers"



IG Audit: 6.5 Million People With Active Social Security Numbers Are 112 or Older

Excerpt:

Many people are living longer, but not to age 112 or beyond -- except in the records of the Social Security Administration. The SSA's inspector general has identified 6.5 million number-holders age 112 -- or older -- for whom no death date has been entered in the main electronic file, called Numident. The audit, dated March 4, 2015, concluded that SSA lacks the controls necessary to annote death information on the records of number-holders who exceed "maximum reasonable life expectancies." "We obtained Numident data that identified approximately 6.5 million numberholders born before June 16, 1901 who did not have a date of death on their record," the report states. Some of the numbers assigned to long-dead people were used fraudulently to open bank accounts. And thousands of those numbers apparently were used by illegal immigrants to apply for work: "During Calendar Years 2008 through 2011, SSA received 4,024 E-Verify inquiries using the SSNs of 3,873 numberholders born before June 16, 1901," the report said. "These inquiries indicate individuals' attempts to use the SSNs to apply for work." “It is incredible that the Social Security Administration in 2015 does not have the technical sophistication to ensure that people they know to be deceased are actually noted as dead,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Tens of thousands of these numbers are currently being used to report wages to the Social Security Administration and to the IRS. People are fraudulently, but successfully, applying for jobs and benefits with these numbers. Making sure Social Security cleans up its death master file to prevent future errors and fraud is a good government reform we can all agree on,” Johnson said.
Comment: Of course the problem is that there are just a handful of Americans over the age of 112. Wiki list. Also see the Social Security Actuarial Life Table. Wiki on Gertrude Weaver. Image source.

How an Emir's insult ignited a decade of war: Will turn every Iraqi woman into a $10 prostitute




FBI Agent: Hussein Didn't Expect Invasion

Excerpt:

"What really triggered it for him, according to Saddam, was he had sent his foreign minister to Kuwait to meet with the emir al-Sabah . . . to try to resolve some of these issues. And the emir told the foreign minister of Iraq that he would not stop doing what he was doing until he turned every Iraqi woman into a $10 prostitute. And that really sealed it for him, to invade Kuwait," Piro said in the interview, according to CBS.
Comment: Old news for some, but new to me. Image sources: Wiki and screen capture. Wiki on George Piro

3.05.2015

‘Selfie’ (DIY) Retirement Investing - “Selfies are the army"



‘Selfie’ Shtick Focuses on Dividends

Excerpt:

In Australia, almost all employees are covered by the country’s compulsory contribution system. Companies must pay at least 9.5% of workers’ income into a pension fund of the worker’s choice. Employees can opt to put even more aside for retirement, making Australia’s pension-fund system the fourth-largest in the world. And they can bypass institutional money managers and handle their own investments. ... Ms. McGuiness said their strategy is simple: They target companies with household names that pay healthy dividends, which are then reinvested.
Comment: Kathee and I are "selfie" investors. Kathee shares the wheel with me so that if I precede her she knows the ropes.

3.04.2015

At 117, the World's oldest person says life "seems rather short"



World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

Excerpt:

The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. Misao Okawa, the daughter of a kimono maker, made the comment Wednesday, at a celebration a day before her 117th birthday. Appropriately, she was wearing a pink kimono decorated with cherry blossom prints. Okawa, born in Osaka on March 5, 1898, was recognized as the world's oldest person by Guinness World Records in 2013. "It seemed rather short," she said after Osaka government official Takehiro Ogura, who brought her a big bouquet, asked how she felt about living for 117 years.
Comment: Image capture from article. Meanwhile Peggy Lee wondered: ""Is That All There Is?""

Time for the Annual Moaning and Groaning?

Comments: Today is the 2nd to last one for me! I may not be the most godly person but I am content. Good Job image source = Flickr

Behold The Entrenched — And Reviled — Annual Review

Performance review season is nearing, and if that makes you break out into a cold sweat, you're not alone. Studies show between 60 percent and 90 percent of employees, including managers, dislike the performance evaluation. Some companies are starting to look at alternatives, but the performance review is pretty entrenched. "They're fraudulent, bogus and dishonest," says Samuel Culbert, a management professor at UCLA who does research in dysfunctional management practice. "And second, they're indicative of and they support bad management." Several years ago, Culbert offered his unvarnished views about performance reviews on the pages of The Wall Street Journal and wrote a book on the subject. He blasted them as one-sided forms of employee intimidation and said they breed defensiveness and tension. His piece became a sensation. Thousands of letters poured in. "Most people got worked up about it because for employees, they don't like getting them, and for managers, they don't like giving them," Culbert says.
Comment: Frankly I only look at the salary increase and the bonus amount. I am jaded!

Why Apple is not interested in building cars!




Forget the rumor: Apple will never build cars

Excerpt:

Manufacturing cars — like, on an actual assembly line -- is an entirely different business, and an almost indisputably worse one than the business Apple is already in. Apple’s profit margin, for instance, is 22%. Its tightly controlled lineup of a few basic products generates phenomenal scale. Apple builds almost all of its products in China and other low-cost countries, where it doesn’t have to tangle with labor unions or western-style safety and environmental rules. Its products are lightly regulated consumer gizmos that are easy to ship and rarely need to be recalled.
Comment: Image source: Apple on wheels. Minivan.

How Xuhua Zhou brought down Lumber Liquidators and profited by it





How a 25-Year-Old Sparked Plunge at Lumber Liquidators

Excerpt:

Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc.’s stock plunge over the past week, fueled by allegations of excessive formaldehyde in its flooring, can be traced back to a blog post from an obscure 25-year-old short seller. Xuhua Zhou, who had dropped out of UCLA’s doctoral program in finance and become an individual investor, took an interest in Lumber Liquidators about two years ago. After seeing a surge in the company’s gross profit margin, Zhou learned that it sourced some products from China. That raised his suspicions that safety might have been skirted in pursuit of lower costs, he said in an interview. Zhou, who was born and raised in China, already had experience researching suppliers in the country, so he began investigating. His digging ultimately led to lawsuits, a “60 Minutes” report and accolades from the well-known short seller Whitney Tilson, who also bet against Lumber Liquidators.
Comment: Quote above from Yahoo for LL. Store image from Wiki. The 60 Minutes expose is stunning.

3.03.2015

Celebrating my 21st Anniversary with Wells Fargo


I started at Norwest in Greenwood Villiage Colorado on March 7th, 1994 at the age of 44½. In 1996 we moved from Littleton Colorado to Plymouth Minnesota. Norwest bought Wells Fargo in 1998 and took the Wells name. In 2008 Wells Fargo bought Wachovia. I expect to work one more year ... to just past my 22nd anniversary.
Comment: Image Source. Looking back 6 years (earlier blog post)