Thursday, September 29, 2011

Trying to invest

I spent most of today looking at investing options.  I make most of our investing decisions and rely on various sources for ideas.  One of the sources is RandomRoger; he's pretty definite that the U.S. is facing some financial headwinds that maybe other countries might be avoiding so he likes investing outside the U.S.  I'm pretty much convinced that he's right about our headwind problem so I look elsewhere as well.  It's just that it's a heck of a lot of work!  LOL

Looking at individual companies in this country is easy; when it is overseas it gets more difficult fast.  So I turn to ETF products that are focused on either the area or the industry that is of interest.  You know, there is still a world of choices out there.  Anyway, my head is spinning from all this stuff.  So I'm taking a day off.  You know 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going' - well, I'm going to Vegas!  The hell with it.

Actually, it's just another normal shopping trip that will include dinner with our daughter.  She's cooking!!!  This woman (she's 40 for heavens sake, can't call her a girl) has NEVER made us a meal.  She's done lots of salads and stuff but to actually cook a meal; nope.  Should be interesting.  "Food TV", "The Cooking Channel" and all the rest have a lot to answer for.  If you don't hear from me for a couple weeks, you'll know it didn't go too well.
As an aside, I got a flier from one of our brokers the other day that had articles on options and on currency trading on the FOREX.  Jeez, I know I'm more conservative than most but I consider both of those ideas to be about as useful investing ideas for the ordinary person as the video poker machine down at Terribles.  I'd be willing to sell covered puts I guess but that's about it.  Some day-trader playing with a bank's money can probably do pretty well most of the time but I'm certain the rest of us would be losing big time.

Have a good one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Trip Report - San Diego

I've got a minor report on our trip to San Diego.  We towed the trailer 671 miles(1080km).  Drove a total of 833 miles (1340km).  Spend $242 on fuel getting an average of 10.8 mpg (21.7 liters/100km).  I'm kind of surprised at how low the mileage since we had about 160 miles (260km) of non-tow miles.  I suppose going over the Cajon Pass didn't help mileage.  It is also true that traffic in San Diego is pretty fast and I was definitely keeping up with the Joneses!  LOL

I'm trying to get back into a regular work-out mode.  Damn, it's tough!  I used to work out daily, strength training that is, only for 15 minutes or so but daily.  I've fallen off that wagon though and need to get back on it.  I need to include more stretching as well.  Getting older is tough enough but losing muscle mass and flexibility in addition is just a recipe for discomfort.  I already notice problems with movement that just shouldn't be there.  The walking we regularly do is great but it's not enough. 

Ok, I'm going to go work out.  Have a good one!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Had a bunch of thunder, lightning and a bit of rain yesterday afternoon.  The drama and beauty of thunderstorms is so cool!  I should build a glass room on top of the house so I could sit there (in air conditioned comfort, of course) and get a panoramic view of the storm.  Wow, that would really be something.  Of course, 360 days of the year it would be hot enough to bake bread.

It's Sunday during the F1 racing season so later this morning we'll be sitting down to breakfast in front of the tv watching the Singapore Grand Prix.  I've been following F1 since the days of Jimmy Clark in the 1960's.  When my wife and I got together, I managed to infect her with the disease - F1-itis.  You start recognizing the names of people unknown to about 90% of Americans but who are super-stars in other countries.  The venues are amazing.  Some, like Monza, have been around for many, many years.  Others, like Singapore, are new but very exciting all the same.  Monza is a race track and as been nothing else it's entire life.  Singapore is a temporary circuit carved out of the streets of the city.  There is even Silverstone in England that was a WWII airfield before it was modified for racing.  Can you tell I love it?

Gotta go cook then see the race.  Have a good one!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Moments of Duh!

I wrote earlier how much fun we had in San Diego.  One of the things we did that was unusual for us was that we bought beer when our son was coming over for dinner.  Having beer brings up the problem of refrigerator space.  RV fridges are small and ours was already pretty crammed.  So I did the obvious thing and bought one of those $3 styrofoam coolers and a bag of ice.  Worked great!  Kept the beer cold and we had half a bag of ice leftover so we didn't have to fool around with making ice cubes for rest of the trip. 

We got home and threw the leftover ice into the freezer side of our home fridge.  For a couple more days we have those nice clear cubes.  Ok, that's fine, until the ice maker in our refrigerator freezer stopped working.  Grrr!  There might be a repair person left in Pahrump but I rather doubt it.  And if the quality of the work is the same as the electricians we've had working here, you have half a chance of getting a complete idiot.  (Our 2nd electrician was excellent!)  So we are using the ice from the bag and reading the freezer instruction book and scratching our heads.  I won't tell you how long it took us to figure out that the plastic bag was blocking a sensor that tells the ice maker that it's full so not to make any more!  It was just way too long.

Aside from the ice making fiasco, things have been quiet.  I've been spending way too much time on the computer trying to figure out what kind of tv and dvd player I want in the den.  Love those reviews on Amazon and other sites.  If they aren't real purchasers they've got me fooled.  (Not that being fooled is all that impossible!)  But at least I'm reading the specs of many different options without having to hoist the boxes.  Don't you just love the internet.

Have a good one!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Home again

Hi there, y'all; we been gone!  Took a quick trip from here to San Diego.  It's about a 6 hour drive since we 1) tow our trailer and 2) obey California's STUPID 55 mph (88kph) speed limit for people towing.  Geez, it gripes my butt every time I think about it.  Here you have a bunch of untutored, text-messaging assholes flying along at a legal 70 mph (112 kph) and they are having to dodge a vehicle, a big cumbersome vehicle, that is doing 15 mph (24 kph) less.  Grrrr!

Had a great trip though.  We had rain here the night before we left so when we got over the mountains into California there had been run-off.  There was dried mud across the road many places and in one place we found several inches (say 15 cm, I didn't measure it!) of water flowing across the road.  We left about 09:00 on Sunday and got there by 15:30 or so.  The only bad part of the drive was around Riverside, CA where I-215 is being worked on; has been for the two years we've been using it to visit San Diego anyway!

We spent our week doing tourist stuff like Old Town and Balboa Park.  The trip was mostly to see our son & his 'girlfriend' of 16 years.  So far they have resisted marriage & I wish them success.  I know I was worried when my wife and I decided to stop 'living in sin' and make it legal.  Guess it worked out since it's been 27 years now.  You never know how people are going to react though so I can see not screwing with a good thing.  We ate together a lot & talked quite a bit.  Had good food and some that wasn't quite so good.  Happily it was all good when we ate at their house and when he ate at ours (she is a nurse and was working some weird shift).

Photos?  Nope.  Except for the flowers around the dog run at the RV park!  Here's one from my cell phone:

Came back on Sunday.  It was my wife's idea to do all our traveling on Sundays and I must say it worked out well.  We had what I would call moderate traffic all the way.  We decided to stay on I-15 going north rather than take the I-215 and that was pretty successful too; not being torn-up is much easier on the nerves and it's only about 10 miles (16 km) farther.  Even at $4.15/gallon ($1.06/l.) and using 1 gallon every 10 miles (23 l. per 100 km ), it's a no-brainer.  Traffic towards Vegas wasn't bad but there was quite a lot of it.  Traffic from Vegas back to California was nasty.  There is an Agricultural Check point on I-15 in California; they had a miles long backup at 13:00!!  When we went through the previous week at about 11:30 it was nowhere near that bad.  No idea if that is always the way it is or not but I did see a few vehicles on a road going parallel to the Interstate.  Guess if I was in a hurry I might consider getting off the Southbound highway at exit 206 and try out the other road.  No idea where I'd get back on but  it would at least be fun!

We get off I-15 at Baker, CA and drive up to Shoshone, CA then cut over to Pahrump.  On the road between Baker and Shoshone (55 miles or 88 km) I counted oncoming vehicles: 3 semi-trucks; 3 work trucks, 20 private vehicles (including motorcycles). We were passed by 7 private vehicles.  My kind of traffic!

Got used to eating three times a day in San Diego; I'm hungry.  Have a good one!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Silly market

There is an old saw about getting out of the market in April and returning in September.  Isn't working well this year!  Dow is down over 300 points today.  Up a hundred one day, down a hundred the next, makes you seasick watching the darned thing.  Oh well.  Not much I can do about that!

We've spent the morning cleaning the house.  At least that's productive!  A friend mentioned cleaning their deck with a pressure washer.  I don't know why we hadn't thought of getting one before but we did and it sure makes short work of the deck.  It looks a 1,000% better in half an hour and the pressure washer uses less water than we'd use with just a hose and a brush.  Life is good!

I was reading Random Roger (as usual!) and he commented that it seems many people of retirement age still have a lot of mortgage debt.  Well, why not?  Having EXCESSIVE debt is always bad regardless of the origin of the debt but the key word is 'excessive' not 'debt'.  We owe $10K or so on our car as well but Toyota offered us a 0% loan.  We get to keep our money invested and pay off the car over several years.  What's wrong with that?  It's not like we trade vehicles every year.  Our cars last us a while:  Mazda 626 (10 years); BMW 325 (15 years); Bronco II (10 years); GMC pickup (9 years).  Aside from this 0% deal we haven't had a car payment since about 1995.  Well, that's not quite true.  When we bought our current Ford F250 they had a deal where if you financed the truck you got an additional $1000 or so off the truck.  We financed it for something like three months then paid it off.  The things we'll do for a grand!

Gotta go.  Keep your head.  The sky isn't falling quite yet!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Tragedy of a sort

Here is the desert we have only a few sorts of wild creatures.  One is the burrowing owl; we knew of two.  One lives in a culvert that passes under a driveway.  The other was living out in the desert where we walk.  Yesterday morning we found that one dead.  We aren't sure how he died but he was sure gone.  This morning his corpse is also gone; only a few feathers remain.  Well, at least some scavenger got a meal.

Another creature that we have become aware of is the white tailed antelope squirrel; they have decided that the seeds that fall from the bird feeder are pretty tasty.  There are two or three of the little critters here most mornings.  They are able to burrow down into the rock and get at seeds the birds have trouble getting.  As long as they are living across the road and don't decide to try to live in our house we'll get along just fine.  When we lived in Florida a neighbor had squirrels living in his attic and that was a big problem! 

Guess it's time to go before I start writing about birds and bees and things.  Have a good one!