Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Still whining...

It's still hot here and am I whining!  It affects everything, for example, the guys fixing the road around one of our three stop lights don't work when it is this hot.  How hot is it?  Well, it's 11:00 a.m. and we still have lots of warming up to do.  But here is what the birds think of it.

They are hiding in the shadow of the bird bath.  When the sun moves around to the west, they'll be on the other side of the bath.  They aren't dumb, that shade really makes a difference.  There was even one little guy hiding in the shadow of the bird feeder!  As an aside, I was expecting the birds to actually bathe in the bird bath but all they do is stand on the side and drink.  We put a large rock in the middle to act as extra standing room but they don't seem to use it much.

Have a good one.

Monday, August 29, 2011

MIA all over again

Well, I've fallen off the 'regular blogger' wagon again.  No particular reason except a distinct lack of thought on my part.  We've been having record high temps lately.  Las Vegas broke 4 or 5 high marks and the low temps were also hotter than usual so the weather guy has been having fun.  Missing out on Irene didn't hurt anyone's feelings.

This morning we walked our 2.5 miles (4km) then showered.  We had the radio on and when we got out of the shower the announcer said it was 85F (29.4C).  By the time I'd shaved and brushed my teeth, he announced it was 89F (31.6C)!  That's just silly.

In an article on Yahoo taken from The Street a guy from Standard & Poors is saying that the stock market will remain volatile for at least September and probably this is a new normal situation.  "Who or what deserves the blame? High frequency trading, hedge funds, inverse and leveraged ETFs, take your pick," he says.  Well, doesn't that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy!  He's probably right though.  All these new products that weren't available in the past (except hedge funds) have got to be changing the rules.  It's up to the investor to sort out ways to deal with the new reality.  So far my response has been to buy something I like and hold it for some time.  It's kind of a head-in-the-sand approach but as long as I'm diversified and can take some profits when they appear it should work.  At least I hope so! 

One of the new rules requires mutual funds to identify individual purchases of stock so for a fund like Fidelity's Capital Appreciation (FDCAX), Yahoo Finance shows 3 holdings of UAL, 2 of VMED.L and 2 of CVX in their top 10 holdings!  Well, isn't that just helpful.  Google isn't quite so stupid but I usually prefer Yahoo Finance.  Looks like I'll have to change my habits there as well.  Good thing I'm not totally stuck in the mud.

Gotta go.  Real life calls.  Have a good one!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer Roller Coaster Ride

Yahoo carried an article from 'The Street' suggesting that the wild gyrations that the market has been making lately may be less serious than they sometimes appear.  Here is a link; the guy points out some similarities to last summer and suggests some possible stabilizing influences that may or may not happen.  Certainly it is reassuring to thing that there might be a logical end to this foolishness; whether it is true or not I have no idea.  I really DO like the last line of the article:  "Although we expect volatility to continue, we foresee a more muted level than last week's market roller-coaster ride and a climb over the months ahead. In general, we advise investors to do what they normally do on a roller coaster: hang on tightly, grit your teeth, scream if you need to, but do not jump off."

It may be beating a dead horse but every investor should understand that the market is no place for money you are going to be needing soon.  The market does have liquidity but being able to sell something doesn't mean you'll like the price you receive.  That's one of the reasons I place as much emphasis as I do on dividend paying stocks; it makes waiting out the market easier if you get regular checks!  It is also good if you have read Benjamin Graham and are careful about paying as little as possible when you are buying.  Needless to say, that can be tough to implement.

Have a good one!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Innocent until proven guilty

The local paper has a story about some guy who has been charged with growing pot.  It's tough to get a job in the valley these days; apparently there are alternatives!  It's nice to hear about entrepreneurs in any field.  When we were in Colorado the papers were full of stories about cracking down on medical marijuana growers.  Apparently they weren't keeping good records about how much they grew and to whom they sold it.  The authorities suspect that maybe some was reaching an illegal market.  Hmmmm.

I would like it if we just did away with all drug laws for adults.  Clearly society has a responsibility to look out for children but if an adult wants to do virtually ANY drug; it's fine with me.  Do meth for a couple years and you won't have any teeth and then maybe things get bad.  But, you know, I've never tried it; don't want to.  The folks who DO want it can find it.  Why not just legalize it and tax it.  Companies would provide clean, probably cheap, product of known consistent quality.  The user would have a better experience.  The drug cartels of South & Central America would be out of business.  The drug gangs in the U.S. would be out of business.  Hell, even the lawyers, jail keepers and police would have to find something to fill their empty hours.   Nah, we can't do that, it almost makes sense.

Speaking of making sense:  Yahoo's sports page had a link to the Mark Cuban blog post that I quoted the other day.  They are giving him credit for warning about the stock market collapse; I read it that what was happening in Wall Street is uncontrolled and needs new rules, simpler rules to draw lines between investing vs trading.  He did say that what is going on now will lead us to a crisis.  He also said Australia has better rules; well, we can't learn from anyone else!  That's un-American!

Off to dinner this evening.  Last time the food was pretty awful.  Wish us luck!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Happy, warm times

Given all the foolishness in the stock market these days, it's great to be most of the continent away.  Hopefully it helps keep a clearer vision of the real world.  I've just been introduced to the blog of Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and an investor.  Here's a great post he wrote a year or so ago and recently re-posted asking what business is Wall Street actually in?  He's got some very interesting thoughts!

We are getting on enjoying our summer.  In Las Vegas the temperatures for August 10 were high of 106F (41C) and low of 81F (27C).  We get a little break out here for some reason.  On the same day our thermometer looked like this at 07:18 in the morning.  The upper numbers are the humidity and temp for outside; second row is humidity and temp of inside; third row is the time; fourth row is the date and the seconds value for the time.  (I didn't design it!!!)

Only 64F (18C) - it allows us to open the house and get some fresh air in the place!  Usually, by the time I go to bed about midnight we've got the windows open.

In the heat of the day, it was only 100F (38C).  It doesn't sound like a huge difference but it really does make quite a difference in your comfort (and electric bill!).  Here in the West, it just keeps getting warmer all day unlike Florida, for example, where the high would be about 15:00 then it would cool off a bit in the evening.  I took the photo at 17:04 obviously.  We do have our heat pump set to keep the house at 77F; apparently it was just about to turn on.

I do question the percent humidity that this thing shows.  In the lower photo it shows 10% outside and 2% inside; that's just tough to believe! 

Have a good one!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Good Job!

My wife did a really great thing over the weekend; she went to a self-defense course put on by our county sheriff's office.  Saturday was half classroom stuff and half demonstration.  There was a female deputy who did the talking and a male deputy who was the 'bad guy'.  She was really pumped Saturday evening.  She was learning a lot and really liked the class.  Sunday was the day when they got dirty.  The male deputy attacked each woman in the class three different ways and they had to fight their way out of it.  My wife has bruises on her breast, her side, both hips and more; the parts that aren't bruised are just sore.  The deputy did a great job of attacking physically but not being frighting emotionally.  The women ranged in age from about forty to something over seventy.  The class is free and graduates are welcome to come back for refreshers; one woman was on her seventh class! 

I'm really happy she went to the class and those two deputies are absolutely great!  We are pretty security conscious already but it sure doesn't hurt to be reminded that there are bad people out there.  Having an idea of what to do if you are attacked is really important.  Hell, I'd go to one of the classes if they were offered for guys but we are expected to know it all.  LOL  Yeah, sure, you betcha.  The only thing that keeps me from looking like a victim is that I'm over six feet tall and well over two hundred pounds (1.8 m and 100 kg)so I'm larger than lots of people and if I fall on you it would hurt!  Also I'm pretty physically confident and that counts for a lot.

I'm off to Vegas again today.  The excuse is that it's a booze run.  I'm saving $8 a bottle on cheap scotch so I've got to do it!  LOL  The real reason for me is to buy a birthday present for my wife.   I'm not entirely sure what it's going to be but, well, what husband wants to miss giving a birthday gift???  And no, we aren't in the economic strata where something from Walmart is going to work.  We were there once but not any more.  Besides, we've got a Toyota that's 18 months old and has less than 12,000 miles (19,000 km).  The dealer thinks we are dead.

Have a good one; I'm going to try to!  Oh, and Happy Birthday Bob, we're thinking of you.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Visit to Vegas

We went into Las Vegas yesterday to have dinner with our daughter.  It's a date between her birthday and her mother's so it was kind of a celebration.  We went to Ventano's in Henderson for dinner; made it an early reservation because she needs to get up early for work.  It's a nice room and has a great view.  The food was kind of weird.  Lots of seafood; according to my wife the shellfish was fine, and that's a tough road in Las Vegas!  I had a chicken scolopini.  It was tasty. The only problem I had was that it was served with a side of pasta; pasta with a very standard tomato based sauce; pasta that was plopped on the plate with my chicken & white wine scolopini.  Now that was weird.  As I said, everything tasted good but next time I'd specify that they spring for a separate pasta plate.  Service was fine but we were pretty early so the guy wasn't rushed off his feet!

After dinner, it was only about 19:30, we decided to check out the "M Resort" for a drink.  The M was built when everyone thought it was only time until the Strip needed expansion room and M was going to be the South end for a while.  Needless to say, things change, and now the M is out at the end of the strip and all alone.  Having said that, they are trying to lure locals and have a very nice facility.  We decided we'd like a view and their restaurant/bar Veloce did a great job!  It's at least near the top if not the top floor and you have a lovely view of the strip and all of Las Vegas from quite a distance away.  They had free seating in the bar and drink specials that made us "careful" people happy!  There is even an outdoor seating area that would be great when things cool off a bit.  We'll certainly be back!

All in all, it was a great night.  We ended up spending the night with our daughter and hitting Blueberry Hill for breakfast.  My wife loves their blueberry compote crepes and they have regular stuff for old fogies like me. It's not cheap but the food is good.  They have several locations; we've never noticed a difference in the quality of the food or service.  We've only had breakfast there so can't speak to the lunch or dinner - at least some of the places are open 24/7 and they do have alcohol and gambling it you need that with your food.

Gotta go.  Hope you had as good a day as we did.  Take care.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Well, I warned you!

Hope everyone is ok with the DOW falling by 512 points.  I told you I can't foretell the future. Guess we'll just have to stick around and see what happens. 

JoeinVegas suggested that the two parties will just bicker and blockade each others ideas all next year.  I'm hoping he's wrong but he's probably right.  Especially since it seems as if both parties are out of rational ideas.  In our travels this summer we saw a lot of road repair; at least those guys & gals are working.

We saw a number of things that had been created by the CCC during the Great Depression.  Maybe we need some of those socialistic 'make work' projects to get things going.  Yeah, I can see that passing the congress!  The Tea Party folks wouldn't be the only ones coming unhinged. 

Gotta go.  Have a good one!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Is the sky falling???

Since the news about the 'wonderful' budget compromise that lifted the debt ceiling, the markets are falling all over the world.  So, is the sky falling?

My take is that it depends on your immediate needs.  If you are looking to sell something this week, well, maybe you're screwed.  If you have a longer view, maybe you aren't in so much trouble actually.  I agree with commentators who suggest that there are healthier economies out there than our own.  The problem is that the U.S. is still the big dog in town.  I've got a few investments in Canada, Norway, Australia; I imagine most investors do.  (I've avoided China; I've just got a personal problem with trusting their numbers.)  So should you bail on investing in the U.S.?

Our economy is not well.  Our markets are dropping.  Sounds like leaving might be a good idea.  There are two sides to this though.  If 'everyone' were to abandon the U.S. markets: 1) share prices would drop like rocks leaving whoever was last out the door holding nothing much; 2) the huge profits of the U.S. corporations, and they are making money, would make P.E.s of 5 common; 3) the inrush of money would raise the P.E. of stocks in, say, Canada to about 50.  None of these ideas are worthy of Newton or Einstein but people who are afraid of a crash aren't really thinking calmly either. 

The U.S. and it's currency are still the world standard.  Not to say that other countries (like the three named above and several others) aren't doing better at economic control but finding a place to invest that offers safety, transparency and sufficient size is tough.  China has size; transparency might be questionable.  Norway, even Canada, is small.  Australia, well, I hope you like natural resources! 

Me?  I'm still about 85% in the U.S.  I'd like a bit more money overseas but it takes me a long time to move.  I'm also not in immediate need so if we have another downturn in view; it's ok for me.  Will I enjoy my paper losses?  Hell, no!  But paper losses like words in general don't hurt.  'Sticks and stones' and all that still holds true.  So hang in there & don't be frightened by the talking heads on tv.  (Remember that Mr. Murdock & Co. like spreading bad news even if it's invented.)

There is one final thought I'd like to share.  This is the year before the U.S. election.  The President, a third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives will be running for re-election next year.  Do you think that will motivate them to do everything they can to make this a good year?  Just a guess, of course, but I think they will be motivated.  Whether their motivation is enough to make them worth a damn is another question.

Have a good one! 

(Disclaimer:  I know nothing about the future, the stock markets or monetary policy.  If you take my words as advice you are way dumber that a human being ought to be!  Don't do it!)

Monday, August 01, 2011


We DID actually go to Las Vegas today; and we weren't looking at bakeware either!  My wife has decided she needs some new clothes.  Ok, maybe that's not a shock to some guys but you don't know my wife.  For the last ten years she's been wearing tops she buys at Sam's Club; jeans and shorts.  It would surprise me if her clothing budget was $100 a year!  Even I go through more clothes than she does.

Anyway, we went to Town Square Mall.  It's just off the strip south of the  Mandalay Bay resort.  I was a little surprised because Town Square is quite a change from Sam's Club!  It's an open air mall so you have to look out for cars while strolling!  They even have misters going to cut the heat a bit.  (Misters spray water up in the air; they reduce the perceived heat by 15 or 20F (6-7C) - but it's got to be a tremendous waste of water here in the desert!!!)  In the end we spent about three hours wandering from store to store.  Turns out the only thing we bought was a book from Borders!  But we had a lot of fun and learned about a few new options for my wife's new look. 

Let me tell you, this shopping is a lot like work!  We left around 10 a.m.; got home 16:30.  We are both ready to spend some quality time in relaxing.  But I decided a small blog post would be appropriate.  What got me on it was - it's her tenth anniversary as a blogger.  Congratulations!  I found it hard to believe I've been doing this - off and on - for almost seven years.  Amazing!

Gotta go cook.  Tired feet are not the only result of shopping!  Have a good one.