Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Colorado National Monument

Visited Colorado National Monument.  It's an amazing place.  Didn't care much for the road getting up there but once up there is was lovely.  This is the view from our campground - taken with my cell phone so not the finest photo but.....

The Monument is pretty much what you see here.  It is a huge area of canyons and plateaus and rock formations that is very impressive.  We took a short walk along the rim of one of the canyons.  Here's a bit of the view.

The photo doesn't give any hint of the scale of the place.  We are talking hundreds of feet high.  Many of the rock formations have been named but, come on, I'm not going to remember them!  LOL  The problem was that it was 95F (35C), the altitude was something like 8,000 feet (2,440M).  Taking that walk wasn't the smartest thing to do; the heat was pretty intense.  Happily we are somewhat attuned to warmth so it worked out.  Still, I'd think twice if we were going to do it again.  Doing it earlier in the day would have been much smarter!

We are now stopped in Colorado Springs.  We have friends here to visit and lots of other things to do.  May not spend a lot of time on the net.  Take care & have a good one.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

On the road again.....

We left the warm desert last Thursday headed for our summer vacation.  We'd like to be gone for most of the summer but that's just not an option.  This trip should be three weeks to a month; going to visit friends in Colorado Springs then head back home via whatever scenic route we can find. 

For the outbound trip we are just running the Interstate.  I-15 north out of Las Vegas then I-70 to Denver, finally I-25 down to Colorado Springs.  The scenery on I-70 has been just fantastic.  Driving through these canyons with rock as high as the sky on either side of you is amazing.  And this is with a 4 lane Interstate coming through the canyon.  Wow.  I could have taken a picture a mile easily but we are trying to get somewhere.  On the way home we are expecting to travel some of this same road and I'll do more photos then.

For the first time we aren't traveling every day.  We spent our first two nights in Beaver, UT.  Beaver is really kind of a neat little town.  I'm not sure what the population is but I suspect the horse population is about the same!  LOL  People in the town have enough room that they can have their horses in the back yard.  It's cool!  The RV park is kind of rustic but quite nice.  No internet but otherwise a PA full hookup was only $13.  At that rate, it's a bargain.  I cannot recommend their Mexican restaurant though; it was awful!  Here's a photo of our spot in one of the local RV parks.

The park had these little covered picnic tables at each site.  Some of the folks leave their rigs there the year round and had made modifications: like enclosing it, doubling the size, putting in sliding glass doors!  It looked like a great place to escape the pressures of Salt Lake City, for example.

This is coming from the small town of Fruita, Colorado.  Nice little place right off I-70.  Fruita is bigger but it's still a small town.  We will visit the Colorado National Monument before we leave but haven't made it yet.  It's plateau and canyon country; very spectacular I'm sure.  The park here is much more sophisticated and upscale and the price reflects it.  Still, it's going to be 96F (35C) today so we are enjoying the a/c and the shade trees.  Others will enjoy the pool but we are leaving that to the kids. 

Gotta go.  Hope you are having a good one.

Monday, June 20, 2011

May you live in interesting times.....

Back in 2007 I had cataracts surgery in both eyes; left eye in July or so, right eye in November.  They were a fast growing cataract and I went from seeing well to very poorly in just a few months.  The surgery went well and I've been pretty happy with my sight until recently.  Lately it almost seems like the cataract has come back to my left eye.

That's not possible, of course, but it sure looks like it from the inside!  My surgery was done in Florida so I'm not going back to them.  I found the Shepard Eye Center in Las Vegas and made an appointment.  The doctor suggested trying glasses first; I did that but it did absolutely nothing.  So  it's time for surgery.  Here is something I found on the web.

"The most common complication of Cataract Surgery is opacification of the posterior lens capsule resulting in the formation of a Secondary or After Cataract, which occurs after as many as 30% of Cataract Surgery procedures. When this occurs you will experience a gradual blurring of your vision. Fortunately your surgeon is able to use a YAG Laser to perform a quick painless procedure called a YAG Laser Capsulotomy in which a small opening is created in the cloudy membrane allowing your vision to be restored."

It was an amazing experience.  Got up at OMG Early so we could get to the doctor's office by 07:30.  We were out before 08:30 and now my left eye is almost perfect.  It's still a bit blurry from the dilation but unless something nasty happens, it's great.  The procedure is simple (for the patient!), you get about 8 different eye drops then you put your face in one of those machines that holds your chin and forehead steady.  The doctor turns on the machine and you see this cluster of red lights; she says 'Focus on my ear ring'.  It's bright but not bad.  There are lots of small clicks and snaps as the doctor uses the laser but there is no pain or anything.  It was kind of tough to see the ear ring sometimes since it seemed to be in the middle of the red light cluster.  When she stopped, I could see.  How cool is that!  Hell, I probably won't get as lost since I'll be able to see the street signs.

I'll go back in about a month to have a review.  But in the mean time, I'm going to be enjoying seeing stuff again. 

Have a good one!

Friday, June 17, 2011

I don't get it...

I was catching up reading some of RandomRoger's blog posts and there's something about the way he implements his philosophy that I just don't get.  He's a financial adviser and clearly a pretty smart guy.  He is constantly saying that he doesn't require that his portfolio go up as much as the market in a bull market as long as it doesn't go down as much in a down market.  That's cool, I suspect many of us would be happy with that sort of performance.  He offered some of the Rydex Managed Futures Funds as an example of something he uses to bring stability. 

Let me summarize about these funds.  Over the past 2 or 3 years they have varied between $24 & $28.  Their beta, measuring price volatility, is very low.  The annual expense ratio is just shy of 2%.  The last dividend paid was at the end of 2008.  To quote Yahoo:  "The investment seeks to match the performance of the Standard & Poor's Diversified Trends Indicator(R) (the "benchmark" or the "S&P DTI"). The fund invests substantially all of its net assets in commodity, currency and financial-linked instruments whose performance is expected to correspond to that of the benchmark".

I'm going to jump to the assumption that they are doing a reasonably good job and do actually track the index.  My problem is that I've given these folks my money for 2 years and haven't received anything in exchange except some stability.  Not only that but depending on the timing of my purchase, I may have lost some money.  So what's wrong with a CD?  Or even a savings account?  At least I don't have to pay the bank 2% (yet!).  The index is supposed to have a commodity component but I'm sure not seeing it reflecting the way the price of copper or gold has changed in the last couple years.  So I guess I just don't understand.  I like some stability in my portfolio but this seems a strange way to obtain it.

Have a good one!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

NOT 'Just Doing It'

Ok, I've been not blogging lately.  No good reason.  Just not. 

Since the first of the year I've lost several blogs that I've been enjoying for years.  For the most part people just stop, for whatever personal reason and don't make any announcement.  I guess it's whatever someone wants to do so if they decide to stop, well, that's up to them.  It DOES bother me a bit.  After you read someone's blog for a few years you feel like you have a friend.  Then when they stop blogging; it's like your friend is gone and you have no way of telling whether they won a million or got arrested or got hit by a truck.  Let's hope I remember this feeling if and when I decide to give up this blog!  LOL

I was looking at the photo at the top of the blog.  It's not like that any more folks!  Snow is almost completely gone even at 11,000 ft (3,350m).  We are 'enjoying' our first triple digit day; it's 103F by our thermometer (that's a hair less than 40C for you logical people).  Our house is pretty well insulated though and the desert cools off in the night.  So we aren't running our a/c and it is a warm but comfortable 83F (28C) her in my den.  If I was doing physical work, it would be too hot.  The 24/7 a/c use is coming up for sure.

Walking the other morning I took a photo of the mountains to our east.  I call this a 'motel' photo since motels in this country always seem to have paintings like this on the walls.  Took the photo with my new DROID X phone so sorry if it isn't up the the quality of the Canon. 

It's Flag Day here in the states.  Heaven only know why we have to have a day to honor the flag but who said we are logical?  I mean we are still talking miles, fahrenheit and ounces!  Still, it's one of the few days I feel like I ought to fly the flag.  Here we go:
I feel strongly about my country.  I'm a proud veteran of the U.S. Army.  It will always be home.  Don't get between me and my rifle.  But don't offer me the loan of your place in Normandy! 

Have a good one!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Nice walk

We took a nice walk this morning.  It was pretty much our usual walk taking about 45 minutes.  We saw a quail, a couple jack rabbits and, unusually, a coyote.  The parcel of land that we use for our walks is probably 100 acres (40 hec.), maybe more, I'm not good with knowing the size of an area.  There are other odd empty pieces of land but they are more lot sized, 1 acre or 4,000 sq. m.  Given that there is little vegetation, it doesn't seem like a lot of land for a coyote.  Happily this guy just wanted to be left alone so took off in a direction opposite from us. 

Read a very interesting article about value investing the other day but I didn't make note of the address so can't find the stupid thing.  The whole point was that some university professor made a study of what would happen if you invested in 'value' companies vs 'growth' companies.  In this country and overseas the result was that the value investments were more successful than the growth style investments.  Now this was simply an article written for a magazine or Yahoo Finance or something equally un-rigorous so there weren't actual numbers.  Not to mention, the professor has probably got, and needs, half a book full of charts to support his thesis.  Nor were the terms 'value' and 'growth' defined.  Do I agree with 'value' beats 'growth'?  I guess so.

It seems to me that to be a 'growth' investor almost requires one to be a pretty active trader.  Constant growth is pretty unusual.  As an example, look at Google.  In the last year it's share price has varied between $450 to almost $650 and is at about $525 now.  There are no dividends so the way to make money is by trading; seeing a buying opportunity at $450 and selling at $550 would work if you can do it.  So you are going to have more turnover in a 'growth' environment; and I'm not sure how many swings of up-a-third you are going to find.  Apple did even better, it went from $240 to $320 over that same year.  Another great performance but again, the only way you get money in your pocket is by selling.  Apple's gain was less choppy than Google so the date of purchase was less important but if you bought in the last six months you are only looking at a 10% gain. 

For me it's better to buy value and hold it for some period.  In my experience as a trader, I make a good loser.  I don't know if my basic stock choosing is too influenced by things I read or if there is some other reason but my timing stinks.  What can I say?  I just don't do timing well.

Have a good one!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Nothing to say?

Yep, I've got nothing to say.  Have lots of things to do; things I should be doing anyway, but I'm even being lazy about that.  We've been walking our 40 or 45 minutes every morning and I manage to do not much the rest of the day.  We've been eating out too much but when you are careful about portion control it isn't too bad. 

I was reading Random Roger this a.m. and his outlook for the U.S. economy is going even farther downhill than before.  He's probably right, he seems like a pretty sharp guy and the news is certainly grim.  The Congress is doing it's best to disagree about almost everything and the thought that they might do something responsible is pretty much impossible.  The topping on the cake is all the politicians, John Edwards, John Ensign and Arnold Schwarzenegger are only the latest, who can't keep it in their pants.  I don't expect too much of our politicians but damn, here you are 50-60 years old and wanting to run the nation and you can't manage yourself.  Bah humbug!

Locally some people have come up with the idea of building a theme park outside of town.  A theme park, you mean like for kids?  Look folks, we are an hour outside of Las Vegas.  You know, Sin City?  It's partially a 2 lane road going up a 7% grade.  We have 3 or 4 brothels in town.  This isn't fucking Kansas, guys!  Oh, and the developer they are talking with; they haven't ever done this before.  Their first park is supposed to start construction later this year.  Yeah, sure!  These 'site location' experts have their first bill prepared anyway if the Town Board is will to pay them their $150K.  What hicks!

Gotta go.  Hope I didn't depress you too much.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Had a call....

Our neighbors from when we lived in Florida called last night.  It wasn't a long call but it reminded us how much we miss them and they say they miss us.  It's the first time we've had neighbors that we really cared about.  Interesting.  Then along come S & S.  I've no particular idea why but we just clicked.

Has that happened to you?  Just clicking with someone?  Nothing sexual, at least not overt, but just having a great time with another couple.  It kind of makes me wonder about (sexual) swinging.  Unfortunately I suspect it would  be like finding our neighbors:  Odds bieing 1 in 15 or maybe 1 in 5000.  Who knows.  I'm pretty sure we aren't going to check it out. at least I'm not going to wish for it.

Had a great walk this a.m.  It's still unseasonably cool here; our 40 minutes were over slightly differently terrain but we enjoyed it.  The dog was kind of dragging her ass but we are hoping that was due to the rabbit chasing excursion - unsucessful thank goodness.

I put the jerky on to dry this a.m.  Gotta have some of the good stuff!