Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I'm sitting on my davenport enjoying a coffee while I am unwinding from our trip to North Dakota. And I am thinking, there is no place like home.
Yes, we enjoyed our visit in North Dakota. That is.... all the time that we spent in doors. The temperature was below zero for the entire time we were there... and the wind blew. We burned nearly a whole tank of gas just warming the car up. Some people staying at our hotel never shut their engines off. We were going to stay in Devil's Lake one more night. We even paid for the room. But about 5:30 PM that night we decided to leave. The temperatures were to dip down to minus 25 degrees, and we were a little worried that the car wouldn't start in the morning, and we didn't want to waste time waiting for AAA to arrive. So we loaded and left. We drove as far as Dickinson, 5 hours, and rented a room there. Temperatures were 22 degrees below zero as we were driving.
Some people that live up there think that the cost of living is lower. I think they are deceiving themselves. Heating their home has to be more expensive in such cold temperatures. Idling their cars to warm them up has to take more gas, and gas is $1.79 a gallon there. Groceries cost the same, so do TVs and other such things. Automobiles cost the same. The only thing that I can think of that can possibly be cheaper is housing. And their houses and rent was much higher than I had suspected. Couple all this with much lower wages and you have a formula for pretty expensive living. I'm telling you, sometimes it is miserable living. Cold, oh man, is it ever cold!
Driving into the wind is a special talent I have. No matter where I go and what direction I drive, it is either into the wind, or with a powerful crosswind. Driving was intense. Gusts would almost make me lose control. Driving was taxing on the nerves and the wallet. We have cheap gas here, but not up there.
Well, its good to be home to celebrate New Year's Eve with a good cup of coffee, almond bark pretzels, a warm and quiet house.
Here's "Happy New Year!" to you. Wish you the best.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Devil's Lake, North Dakota. Snow and cold every day.... every single day! And.... and wind! Just another reminder of how nice Colorado is. We're talking sub-zero with additional wind chills. Everyday the plows are running. But the snow is nice and clean. Highways are continually icy. I'm always in 4WD.
Well, I guess it makes the hot coffee taste just that much better. The fireplace is cozier, when burning. And some time to read a book. This is an enjoyable vacation. Hitting the road tomorrow morning. Hopefully home by tomorrow night. If the weather turns bad we'll find a hotel. Gas station coffee again.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Yah, the title is correct. I'm having breakfast at the Holiday Inn at Devil's Lake, North Dakota. I don't use the abbreviation for North Dakota (ND) because most people wouldn't know what I'm talking about. I've talked to lots of people who didn't know where North Dakota is. Some didn't even know it was a state. It's a good thing that there are no minimum population requirements to be a state. If there were, all of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and possibly Idaho, Utah and Alaska would not be states. The USA wouldn't have much land mass left.
But the coffee here is good, really good. Columbian Roast. And...... they serve it 24-7. Styrofoam cups and lids make it handy for "on the go." Another reason this coffee is good, is because I am actually drinking some. I mean, I could be in some ditch along highway 281 or some morgue close by. As I endeavored to pass a pickup truck going slowly, pulling a trailer, I started to spin out along side him. I mean, the back end of the Sequoia was trying to catch up to the front end. We were only going about 65 mph. But 65 seems pretty fast when you are fishtailing on the wrong side of the highway along side a truck. And, oh, did I mention that another car was coming the other way about a half mile ahead. We were a little surprised because the highway didn't seem or look icy until I gunned the engine. So, after a little fishtailing, I brought the Sequoia under control and finished passing with room to spare. The amazing thing is that I didn't feel any fear until it was over. I promptly put the Sequoia in 4WD for better traction. Enough of that fishtailing stuff. Audrey handled this like a pro..... she didn't yell at me even once. So, yah, the coffee here tastes really good.
So if you ever travel to the vast wastelands of the USA and find yourself in Devils Lake, North Dakota, stay at the Holiday Inn Express. It's new, the rooms are pretty nice (we have a suite), there is free breakfast, and the coffee is good. If you are here in the summer, fish for walleyes and northern pike, or..... you can stand outside and look at the wheat fields and swat mosquitoes. If you are here in the winter, fish for walleyes and northern pike, or just look at the vast wastelands of snow. Or you can stand outside and freeze. Your choice. It is really no coincidence that this state is under populated.
Do you know what the best thing that ever came out of North Dakota is? I was going to say, I-94, but it is really Audrey Speed, Rana Woodhull, Amy Kesic, and Sonia Sell. Almost got myself into trouble there. Besides, I-29 also comes out of North Dakota.
So, I sit here by the fireplace drinking coffee and blogging. But, of course, they forgot to turn the fireplace on. But the Christmas tree is lit.... now. And the TV is on telling us about Obama in Hawaii and he took his kids to Dolphin Land, or something like that. Presidents shouldn't be allowed to have children because now we have to hear about their every move for at least the next four years. Somehow, we are all supposed to care, or be excited about their every move, sneeze, or cough. I mean, they may all be nice people, but please spare me the boredom. And by the way, the coffee here is 100% Colombian Roast.
So more about our trip, over, yet, another cup of coffee. The first day from Denver to Rapid City, SD, the weather was perfect. 389 miles out of the way. A nice, easy, lonesome drive. Yesterday started with icy highways, then snow, then wind, then both. 40 mph side winds and head winds. The roads were mostly dry until we got on highway 281. The winds had gone down, but fog was setting in and the roads were invisibly icing up. Besides our little incident, we went past another car in the ditch. The police were stopping traffic while the guy was trying to get out of the ditch with a snow shovel. If I was a betting man.... he didn't get out with his snow shovel. The ditch wasn't very deep, but he was a long ways from the road. If I had a winch, I would have offered to pull him out for free. Listen, these people have no money, at least for the most part.
While, I am still enjoying my coffee, I want to thank everyone for the nice Christmas gifts that I received this year. This has been one of the most enjoyable Christmases for me ever. Thanks to my daughter Amy and her husband Nik who hosted this year. Thanks to my wife for the saw blades. Thanks to my grand kids for the home made Christmas cards, the ornaments, the key cover. Thanks to Nik and Amy for the coffee press, coffees, biscotti, and truffles. Thanks to my daughter, Sonia, for the the calendar. Thanks to the Woodhulls for the embroidered pillow cases. Somehow, I feel that I am missing someone (shame on me). Oh, and, by the way, Audrey also got me a contractor's calculator, and a book, which I am reading on vacation. All wonderful gifts from wonderful people.
Well, I'll talk to you tomorrow at coffee time.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I have been asked numerous times whether I was ready for Christmas, and every time I have said, "Yes, all the presents are bought and wrapped." And each time I have said that I was honest and sincere. And each time my remark was met with surprise. In fact, I talked to one guy today who said that they traditionally wrap their gifts on Christmas Eve.
But the real truth is, today is Christmas Eve, and I had to go out and buy yet, a couple more gifts. I thought we were finished once and for all five or six times, and then remembered someone else, or a new situation came up, and we had to buy, yet, one or two more gifts. Crazy, isn't it?
But now, we are finally ready for Christmas. All I have to do is load the gifts into the Sequoia and haul them off to my daughter's place where we will open them tonight. That is, the grand kids will open gifts, open gifts, and open more gifts. There we will enjoy Christmas Eve dinner and enjoy the fellowship of our daughter, son-in-law, three of our grandchildren and two of our step grandchildren.
And what will we be doing Christmas Day? Driving. enjoying the scenery of Wyoming and South Dakota. Audrey and I will celebrate Christmas Night at the Fairfield Inn at Rapid City, South Dakota. The next evening we will be at the Holiday Inn at Devils Lake, North Dakota. There's just something wrong about celebrating the Christmas season at "Devils Lake." Anyway, that is where we will be. We'll see Audrey's mother, two of her sisters, and other assorted family members.
And guess what? we get to celebrate New Years Day on the road, too. That might be better than thinking that we should do something special on New Years Day, and not knowing what, or sitting around the house with cabin fever.
Our prayer is that it does not snow while we are on the road. But we are driving the gas guzzling 4WD just in case. In the end we might be thanking God for gas guzzlers such as that. In this case the 4WD guzzler might be the real "smart car."
I know it will be gas station coffee on the road. It will help me to appreciate Starbucks and other such even more.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year everyone!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Somehow they just look different now. At least not the same as when I was one. Butch haircut, tee shirt, blue jeans, earring, scruffy shave. The real look of a blue collar worker. Yes, I'm talking about the pastor of a Lutheran Church. No, not the kids pastor, or the youth pastor. He's the senior pastor. In my day, looking like that was a sure ticket out of town. But nowadays it seems to be in vogue.
This pastor is a nice guy. His prayers and words were very true to Christianity. His theology seemed to be pretty accurate. But, it took me a while to figure out that he was the senior pastor, even after I was told he was. I guess I just was taken off guard.
I wish him the best.
Monday, December 15, 2008
As I sit here with my morning Starbucks watching the stock market, i am also thinking about my grandchildren, all of whom are very special. But this morning I am thinking especially about Tori, our oldest grand daughter. Her life has had ups and downs, more so than most kids.
School has been a real challenge for her. Not because she isn't smart enough..... she's plenty smart. In some ways, maybe a little too smart. I remember the days when she lived with us, and I took her to school and picked her up. Most days I was called by the school to pick her up early. That led to home school at our house. She could do all the work.... if she wanted to, which she rarely did.
Then her mom got married and they moved to Michigan. Orville, her new dad, has been very good for her and her brother. But Tori continued to home school, causing no small amount of hardship for her teacher, her mom. This kid can work math in her head, read a book at one sitting, but has a great deal of difficulty getting her school work done. Now, mid-year, this year her mom sent her back to public school. Now her problem is hers and the public school's. Mostly hers though, because it is ultimately up to her.
What puzzles me is that this kid dazzles her class in math, is a fast reader, but cannot write a report. Therefore, A's in math, and F's in writing assignments. Her handwriting is atrocious, or at least used to be. I'm still trying to figure out whether this is a normal disability, or whether she is faking it. I do know that most of the time we don't do well the things that we don't like to do. Writing is one thing she doesn't like to do.
I do thank the Good Lord for the progress she has made, though. I know that she has an exceptional mind, she is quick witted, and has a great sense of humor. I just don't know what makes her tick the way she does. She's driving me crazy. I want the best for her. I know she can do it. I just don't know why she doesn't.
You are welcome to comment and give me some insight. And Tori, if you read this, you comment too, and tell me what's going on. Knowing that you are doing well makes grandpa's coffee taste a lot better, and it goes down smoother, too.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
A 60 foot semi trailer loaded from top to bottom, end to end, full of wrapped gifts for the Navajo. It was my privilege to drive myself and 5 others from our church down to Gallup, New Mexico, then on to Chinle, Arizona. Churches from all over Colorado purchase gifts for the Navajo each year and take the gifts down for distribution.
This year there were 18 Navajo churches that received the gifts for their people. About 50 of us from various churches went down for the distribution. We enjoyed a two and one-half hour long indian service where they acknowledge every one there. They had a special song from each church represented. The gave the service in both Navajo and English. And they gave small gifts to each person who came down for the distribution.
The Navajo showed up from New Mexico and Arizona with pickup trucks and trailers. Many of them were piled high with cartons of gifts. Not very many of them had tie-downs. I hope they didn't make their children sit on the boxes to get them home.
A distribution line was formed to distribute the gifts. About 6 people worked emptying the semi trailer, 3 people directed the boxes, and the rest of us distributed the boxes to each tribe. Each tribe had it's own sign that it held high. Then a few of us carted the boxes off to the pickup trucks and trailers. All of this took about one-half our.
Our church also distributed one nice, high quality soccer ball to each tribe. Eighteen soccer balls in all. So in my Sequoia, we had 6 people, their luggage, three large trash bags full of gifts, and 18 soccer balls that would roll out of the SUV each time we opened a door, any door. Needless to say, we had to pack one of our people in with the luggage in the back seat.
At first, I didn't want to go on this trip because I pictured myself staying with an indian family where they might not have facilities. I know, that's selfish or worse. That just shows how spoiled we can be. But in truth we stayed at a fair hotel in Gallup and a nice hotel in Chinle. The trip was educational and a lot of fun. Definitely a place I would consider going back to.
In fact, we may go back this next year. The church in Gallup is in disrepair and I serve on the council and committee that can do something about that. We will see where this leads us.
The worst part of the trip was the quality of the coffee. Another indication of how I have been spoiled. But, gas station coffee did keep me a wake and kept us rolling. The other worst part was gas prices. Gas was close to $2.00 or over. But, we didn't eat at a single Mc Donald's, Burger King, or SubWay. But one morning we did have gas station donuts for breakfast, along with our gas station coffee, as we filled with high priced gas.
The scenery is worth it, even if you just drive down through the country and back. I've seen pictures before, but real life is so much better. And there is so much of it. After Thanksgiving a lot of places are closed, but almost all of the tourists are gone. If you hit a warm spell, this could be the best time to go. All roads were excellent. A GPS is really helpful. Don't forget you camera.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Hard times are upon our nation. Some of us feel the effects of this more than others. Lost jobs, lost homes, more homeless, more despair by many. those of us who are feeling the effects less than others need to be truly thankful, and, perhaps, compassionate toward those in need. In these hard times we all tend to become more conservative. We waste less. We try to stretch our dollar. We become more frugal in many ways. I was just thinking of ways we were frugal in the past.
1) We washed out our bread bags and saved them for re-use.
2) We ironed our Christmas wrapping paper so we could use it again next year.
3) We took the buttons off our shirts before we discarded them.
4) We remove the zippers from our jeans before discarding them.
5) We handed down our jeans, we patched their knees, seats, and crotches, we cut the legs off for cut offs. Then we finally used the good remnants for quilts.
6) We used our tea bags more than once.
7) We never threw food away.
8) Bicycles were handed down.
9) Lumber was recycled.
10) We took a bath in a galvanized wash tub, We fought over who got to use the water first!
11) Milk bottle were glass and sent back with the milk man
12) Coke bottles were also glass. We hunted for them and turned them in for 5 cents each.
13) We trapped gophers and got 3 cents for striped gophers and 25 cents for pocket gophers.
14) We hunted deer for venison, not sport.
15) We fished to eat them, not throw them back.
16) We made our own bread.
17) We re-used the tin foil and waxed paper.
18) We bought used or retreaded tires.
19) We patched our bike tires.
20) We re-spoked our bike wheels.
21) We grew our own vegetables.
22) We ate vegetables.
23) We shoveled snow up against the house to insulate it.
24) We repaired our shoes.
25) We drove our cars until they quit.
There are many more things, but these have come to my mind. Perhaps you can add to the list.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Remember when I told you it was time to buy? Those buys will soon pay off. Citigroup (C) has been steadily rising. Ford Motor (F) bottomed at $1.30 and is now over $3.00. That's about 175% increase. and they will get bailed. US Steel (X) Bottomed at about $22.00 and is now $37.00. AK Steel(AKS) bottomed at $4.00 and is now about $9.00. Gerdau American Steel (GNA) bottomed at $3.00 and is now $4.30. It appears that crude oil is close to it's bottom and over the spring to summer months will be rising. So Exxon Mobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX), and Conoco Phillips (COP) should all be good buys.
Even if you bought any of these stocks in the last month or so and they have dipped lower. They should come back even more and give you gains. The Obama presidency will at least temporarily help the market. Huge down days will help you buy cheaper and extend your gains as the markets overall go up. Commodities and bank stocks will continue to be volatile. Volatility can help if you buy into them right.
I'm enjoying coffee out of my new mug that I purchased at the Hubbell Trading Post near Chinle, Arizona. This is a must visit. The cup has indian artwork on it and looks like an upside down cup. But it is true to the ancient indian population 800 years ago. The coffee tastes about the same.
Also at the trading post they had blankets that a local indian was weaving out of wool she had processed herself. Beautiful intricate work. One blanket was being sold for $15,000. This is not a misprint. Others were offered for $6500. A small one about 2'x3' was being offered for $1600. The indian woman doing the weaving said that it takes about 5 months to weave a 4'x6' blanket. She was there weaving as a demonstration. So if you ever find and indian blanket for $24.95, it was probably made in China and is being sold at WalMart.
It was a very enjoyable trip. The whole route was very scenic, especially driving from Chinle up through Moab. This was my first time in Utah. I believe I will go back for another visit. Sally, my GPS was really good and kept us from getting lost. Everybody with me liked Sally. Aunt Jane was helpful but a little aggravating. Aunt Jane is the second voice on the GPS that sternly tells us the name of the road we are to turn onto.
I never saw a single Starbucks until we got back as far as Frisco. It must drive these people insane to be so destitute. Gas station coffee just isn't the same. But gas station coffee did keep me wide awake and going down the straight and sometimes narrow highway. We drove 200 miles to Moab to eat at a certain restaurant that someone remembered, only to find it closed for the season. We had to settle for Denny's.
I'll tell you more in future blogs.
Don't let your coffee get cold.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
TP. That's right, toilet paper!
I volunteered to drive down to the Navaho Indian Reservation in Arizona to deliver donated gifts from our church. I have the Sequoia and will be taking that full of people. The gifts are going down there by semi. Last night I got this unusual request from our Co-ordinator. She requested everyone going to bring a roll of toilet paper since there will be so many people there. No I don't know about you, but I don't know how much business I can do sitting on the white throne in one day. It seems like a lot of TP. Then it occurred to me, couldn't someone have been assigned to bring a package of TP. This just seems too strange. All of us will go walking in with our little roll of toilet paper.
I just couldn't drink coffee as I wrote about this.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Today I had a great cup of coffee. I always enjoy it more when I make good profits. My last job was very profitable. It was a remodel. Actually, finishing a remodel someone else started. I came out better at the end than I had hoped. That made my Starbucks taste really good.
What made it even sweeter is that the trading markets were up. Time to recoup some of the losses and turn them into gains. The markets would have been even better had Goldman Sachs done better. I just know that the markets are on the verge of a nice upswing. The markets would do even better if the government wouldn't do all the bailing out. But we are resilient and will do well.
Buy cheap shares and enjoy your coffee.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
There was a great window of opportunity to buy stocks the past three weeks. It was time to buy. Over the past week the market posted its biggest one week increase in 30 years.
the S&P 500 gained over 12%. The Dow Jones rose over 1000 points. General Motors gained 74% and Ford Motor gained 88%. These are really good numbers. And City group continued it's gains doubling in value. The last three weeks have been the best buying opportunity in years.
But, there will be another opportunity this week. A big buying binge leads to stocks being over bought. This will lead to profit taking and stocks will go down significantly. This will be the second best buying window because after profit taking, the stocks will move upward again. Energy stocks began the sell-off on Friday, so they should be the first to rise. Citigroup, Ford, and GM, are stocks to watch. Conoco Phillips is at a bargain price now. So is Gerdau American Steel (GNA). AK Steel dropped 10% on Friday so should be at a bargain this coming week. If the auto companies do, indeed, get their bail out, their stocks will go up, but so will the steel stocks.
The market will not challenge new lows, even if we officially go into a recession, because the lows have already been tested, and government bail outs have remedied several problems.
Friday, November 28, 2008
In my Thanksgiving litany entitled "Thanks a Lot!" I made one omission, health. And last night and today was was reminded of this in a very rude way. No sleep last night due to the flu. And a really miserable day today, bad headaches, queazy stomach, super tired, really bad chills. But tonight I'm better, but not perfect.
I am now really appreciative of good health. Over the years my health has been really good, as has the health of my wife. This is one of the biggest blessings in our lives. Thank you, Lord!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Well, Turkey Day 2008 is here. Those of us who believe in God call this "Thanksgiving." I believe that it is still Thanksgiving on the calendar. And there is a lot to be thankful for. In fact, there is more to be thankful for than most of us realize.
I want to start with God, Himself. All blessings begin with Him. I am especially thankful for His ever watching over us. Not a sparrow falls to the earth without His knowing, and the very hairs of our head are numbered. Now that must be a job because the number hairs on my head vary from day to day. You bald people must make God's job easier. God has supplied all our needs and has always been there in the time of need. He has felt our pains and sorrows and has healed both. He has blessed us with children, over whom, He also watches. But most of all, He has forgiven our sins and given us the bright hope of heaven.
I am thankful for my wife, who seems to somehow understand me, and still like me. She has been the greatest blessing and joy in my life. And just so everyone knows, I had nothing to do with her facelift. But I am thankful we could pay for it. Audrey keeps a clean and neat house, she makes great meals, and she shakes out the mattress pad every day (for which I am also thankful).
I am thankful for great kids. Three wonderful daughters: Rana, Amy, and Sonia. Each one has been a blessing to me over this past year. Rana and Sonia live far away, so I don't get to see them often enough. Amy is not so far away and I don't see her often enough either. Each daughter is unique and brings joy and fulfillment to my life.
I am thankful for our sons-in-law who have provided our daughters and grandchildren good homes. This is a real blessing. However, our daughters also do their share in providing the good homes.
I am thankful for our grandchildren, whom I hope will not forget their elderly grandparents as the years go by. Our grandkids are a real blessing to us and I wish we could see them more. It is a joy to watch them grow and develop. Sorry kids that we didn't catch any fish.
I am thankful for our home. Both my wife and I really love our house. The only thing else we would wish for is a third stall on the garage and an enclosed back porch (and a few less cars parked on the street).
I am thankful for our jobs that abundantly supply our needs. Audrey and I are both self employed which gives us a degree of flexibility with our work. Even in these hard times we have both been busy and have had work.
I am thankful for our church, Westminster Church of the Nazarene. Our pastor, Dr. Stan Reeder, has been a real blessing to us. Our pastor shows vision and is able to deliver God's Word in an interesting and understandable way. I never leave church without having had my soul fed. And our church has afforded me an opportunity to serve in a capacity where I can use my skills and talents to help others.
I am thankful for our nation. With all its problems, there is yet much that is great about the United States of America. There is no other place on this planet that I would rather live than right here. We have freedoms and wealths that other nations don't even dare to dream about. We have peace, security, safety, freedom, opportunity, and much, much more.
Thanks to God from Whom all blessings flow. Thank Him all creatures here below. Thank Him above ye heavenly host. Thank Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The day before Thanksgiving is generally a down day because a lot of day traders do not want to hold stocks over a holiday, and because many of them will take Friday off. Therefore, they usually sell off what ever they are holding, and this has the effect of pushing the market downward. I, therefore, would also take the day off. I don't think there is really a good pick that is predictable. I'd wait until Tuesday of next week to make any stock purchases. The exception to this would be, that if stocks go way down on Wednesday, for no other reason than it being a holiday, Then Friday could be a good day to buy select stocks.
What I would do is go to Starbucks and have a good cup of coffee or seasonal latte or cappuccino. I'd help them out this Thanksgiving. After all, what would this world be without Starbucks, or your other favorite coffee shops?
This is it! The bail out of Citigroup has bolstered the market and Citigroup rose 58% in one day. The market will not challenge new lows again. Goldman Sachs is raising new money through issuing new notes. Merrill Lynch will follow. The flow of money is loosening up. Is the recession over? No! But historically stocks go down at the beginning of a recession and then go up through the duration of the recession. Stocks will also move up because there are some great buys. Energy stocks are as low as they will get. So are the steel stocks. Citigroup will seesaw before taking another huge step forward. The government won't let them fail and they are required to trim even more expenses which will lead to a better bottom line.
My picks for this week are: Gerdau American Steel (GNA) at $3.75, AK Steel (AKS) at $7.00, US Steel (X) at $28.00, Exxon Mobil (XOM) at $75.00, Chevron (CVX) at $73.00, Citigroup at $6.00. Goldman Sachs went up $13.00 yesterday and is at $67.00. I would wait to see where it adjusts to in the next couple of days.
One wrench in the works is that Obama's stimulus plan is unclear. His plan will lead to higher taxes according to analysts. But the markets did OK when Clinton was president and we had higher taxes.
Now may be the time to buy your retirement fund.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Yes, relief at last! Relief in the markets, that is. What a wild week? This was not an exciting roller coaster, this was a free fall on a bungee cord. Friday we hit the bottom and got a little bounce. Being an optimist, I believe this is the bounce we needed. I believe this is it..... this is the bottom. Stocks of profitable companies have no more room to be squeezed downward. We now have a new Secretary of the Treasury who is bound to be more of a positive force than Secretary Paulson.
It is really a sad day when things get so bad, that at the first hint of good news, the market soars. And right now, stocks are way too cheap, but fear is keeping them down. Take US Steel for example, it peaked at $195 a share, now it is $25 a share. Once the decisions are made for the car manufacturers, and we realize that GM and Ford will not go out of business, but will continue to make cars, US Steel and other steel companies will go up dramatically over the next year. $195 is out of the question, but how about $25 to $75. That looks like 200% to me.
This recession will continue at least until summer, but stocks will now go up as buyers position themselves for the upswing. It will be both earnings per share, and speculation that will push the market upward. I am actually getting excited about it. The pessimists will continue to sell while the optimist will continue to buy and position themselves. Then, when the market moves upward the pessimists will continue to gripe and complain while the optimists will get rich at their expense. I want to buy my retirement fund now at a steep discount.
Well, on Thursday, I got my miracle! I had been suffering with intense knee pain in both knees for several months. I didn't dream when I slept at night, I only dreamt about sleeping. I had been to the doctor who gave me some anti inflammatory meds that made me feel tired, but didn't kill the pain. In the daytime it hurt to walk and move around. But the nights were worse than the days, I would lay in bed and writhe. I guess during the day, my mind was on my work, but at knight it was dominated by the pain.
Well, Thursday, I received a steroid shot in each knee. By the next day the pain was 95% gone. I could walk without pain, and without a limp. I could actually work, going up and down stairways. It was like a miracle. I know these shots are not permanent and eventually I will have to have knee replacements, but I do feel like living again. I am supposed to keep icing my knees and use ibuprofin when needed.
I feel good enough that I will probably be able to take my car tour this winter or spring. I would look forward to that with less pain and lower gas prices.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I'm not talking about the north or south poles. I'm talking about the ice packs wrapped around my knees. I do it twice a day. It's cold, but not as unpleasant as I thought it would be. And it actually seems to help.
Additionally I do stretch exercises each day. I have to do each position and hold it for one minute. For me that is 30 big inhales and 30 big exhales. And, I'm telling you, each minute is the longest minute of the day. The stretched area burns at the end of the hold for that position. The whole purpose of these exercises is to loosen my hips up so that it takes pressure off my knees. This, too, seems to be helping. Although, last night was a bad night.
Today I saw the orthopedist. I like him and my therapist. They seem to know what they are doing. The orthopedist said my knees are pretty shot. So he gave me a shot in each knee. Steroid to reduce the inflammation. He said that the shots should last up to a year. They take 2 weeks to fully kick in. He also ordered a knee brace for my right knee. He said if that helps he will order one for the left knee as well. I think somebody just pulled the plug on my wallet.
He said, ultimately I am likely to have knee replacements something like two years down the road. I asked if it was partial replacement. He took me to a chart and said we cut here and here. He made it look like they were going to cut my leg off in 3 pieces. But, what he meant was they would remove the entire knee and replace it. That doesn't sound pleasant. But it may be more pleasant than the everyday pain of bad knees.
So Audrey and I went out and celebrated my day of good news by buying our Christmas tree and by having a ginger snap latte. Audrey's was a skinny, of course.
And, yes, it was at Starbucks. They can't blame me for 95% decrease in profits. Now that their shares are so cheap they should thank me for my business by sending me a 100 shares. Ha!
Anyway, I think the latte gave me heartburn. Think I'll stick to real coffee. After all, real coffee is good for the colon, and I sure wouldn't want to get colon cancer on top of bad knees. Would you?
Friday, November 14, 2008
No, the title is not a misprint. I did not mean, "iced tea." I went to therapy today for the pain in my right knee. Come to find out, my left knee is worse than my right one, but neither one is worn out. And, my hips, which don't hurt are likely the cause of both my knees hurting. So now I must do home therapy. That is certain stretching exercises that are intended to make me more flexible and to take the strain off my knees. The therapist recommended Yoga, but did give me a list of exercises. He also recommended me to an orthopedist, whom, he said is likely to recommend knee braces and better pain medication. He also said, to sleep at night I should ice my knees and take 2 shots of tequila.
But it seems the worst part will be icing both knees twice a day. That seems cruel to have to ice my knees during the cold winter. I'm wondering, if I ice my knees, then take a hot shower to warm up, will that undo all the icing. Will this be a form of self torture with no value? Will icing my knees go better if I drink hot coffee during the icing? What if I go through all that icing for the rest of my life, but my knees still hurt? Will that drive me insane? Or, am I already insane? I know, this is all "inane." But this is my blog so I will be inane if I please.
Time to take the ice packs off.
Thursday I was in for the surprise of my life. It happened at a Home Depot. I had picked out a variety of items and headed for the checkout. The last thing to be rung up was a mounting bar that goes at the bottom of a mirror, you know, that little metal strip. The cashier ran the item through the scanner several times, and nothing would happen. She asked me if I knew what the item was. I told her, but the item must have had a different name in their book. So finally, frustrated, she said, "It's their fault it won't ring up so, just take it!
The item not being necessary to what I was doing made it expendable to me. But I wonder how many times a day she does that. I wonder how Home Depot's stock is doing. If my daughter, who works at Target is reading this, it is probably driving her crazy. Or, maybe she has even better stories to tell.
Think I'll finish my coffee.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
A $750 billion switcheroo! After priming the market for the bail out, Paulson made the sudden announcement of a switcheroo! The money is not going where they said it would go. Now I feel I've been robbed and lied to! But, that's OK, the government evidently can rob us and lie to us with no penalty.
I've been doubly robbed. They will tax me to pay for the bail out, and because of the big lie the markets are tumbling making my assets worth less until the become worthless. Do they ever think before they act? Do they know what they will do with the money now? I have an idea, send me some. Oops! I shouldn't have said that because Obama plans to do just that with his new stimulus package. But somehow I don't feel that I'll get any of that either.
Since Obama was elected, the markets have tumbled and tumbled some more. I believe that is a statement. If the markets keep going down, we will all need stimulus checks. Paulson has no clue. Neither does Obama. Ufda! This hurts.
I hope tomorrow is a better day. If not, Friday will be basement bargain day. But with the idiots running the fed and the treasury, will they really be bargains?
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Today I am at the Coffee Mug enjoying various flavors of coffee, and a cinnamon roll. Various flavors because it's several cups. Ha! A nice luxury for a Sunday morning.
As I was sitting here I was thinking about today's economy. I was wondering how lower income people are making ends meet. Also the retired who are on fixed income. The first word that came to my mind was WalMart. And the syndrome is this. Americans hate Walmart, but most of us shop there. We despise Walmart because it is big, but we love their prices. Some of us won't shop at Walmart, but some of us have to. We don't like inflation, but we don't appreciate Walmart for keeping prices low.
In truth, I would rather help the poor through low prices (which I can also take advantage of) than to send them a stimulus check (which last time we didn't get). I'd rather they pay their own way by taking advantage of low prices than me paying their way through redistribution of wealth that they did not earn.
While Walmart gets spurned by it's haters, Walmart's stock is soaring, because in these hard times, even more people are taking advantage of their sales and low prices. Walmart helps control inflation by setting the standard for standard pricing.
I nominate Walmart as the business of the year! And, oh, their wages and benefits are about the same as K-Mart, Target, the Family Dollar, Lowes, Home Depot, and others. And their wages may be higher than a lot of the department stores that we so love.
Now, let's face it. A lot of people who gripe about Walmart, shop Walmart!
Also, I must note, there are a lot of people who love WalMart. Several times in the past couple of weeks I have heard people say with affection, "that's my Walmart."
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I remember the days of Sanka. I might even have some in my cupboard, still. Then came along Folgers instant coffee. You could get it regular or decaf. Soon the drip-o-lator came along. You could make regular coffee even faster. And now I own a Bunn-o-matic. We just call it a Bunn. I can get really good coffee in just 2 minutes. And now we make our own less often thanks to Starbucks, Borders, Tully's and others. How did we ever drink Sanka? We drank it because it was quick and easy.
That's how Americans like their politics, too! Quick and easy. We are fickle. We want fast and easy solutions to everything. It's too slow and too much effort to walk into McDonalds or Starbucks. We want to just drive through. I want my coffee, good coffee, and I want it now!
When 911 first occurred, I sat down that evening and wrote a poem to the effect that the US was attacked, we are patriots and will respond, we will fight a war, but when the body bags start coming home and the cost becomes too great, we will clamor for our troops to come home. I knew it would happen this way because history has taught us that it will.
I tore up this poem the next day because I thought it could be viewed as unpatriotic in light of what had just happened 911. I wish now that I had kept it so I could wave it in the face of today's fickle society. We are accustomed to instant gratification. We don't have the will to solve problems long-term. And the quality of what we are getting in this instant gratification society is a little less than Sanka.
An example of this may be the US auto industry. Our auto manufacturers made unwise decisions for instant profits. They kept making gas guzzlers (Large SUVs) even though the handwriting has been on the wall for some time that gas prices would soar due to world wide demand. Now the chicken has come home to roost. All three of our major manufacturers are on the verge of bankruptcy and could easily go out of business. But they won't. And they won't because they will get bailed out. The bail-out is a short term solution, but it feels good now. It will help in the short term. We get some instant gratification. We have bailed out auto makers before. Twenty-five billion was earmarked for this current bail out. But now the new government wants to leave its mark by doubling that to 50 billion. (I am wondering whose taxes Obama intends to cut) Believe me, the day will come that we will pay. Unless Ford and GM can come up with cheaper, more fuel efficient, higher quality, high option vehicles we will be back to bailing them out again. Our auto makers have allowed market share to get away. They will have to recapture that to be profitable.
No more Sanka! No more instant Folgers! We live in the day of Seattle's Best, Starbucks, Caribou, and Tully's. Everybody knows that a nice juicy burger off the grill is better than one just out of the microwave.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
It's great to have a scapegoat for our own failures. I guess it is human nature to blame someone else. George Bush surely is getting his share of the blame whether he deserves it or not. I am not on the "kick George Bush while he is Down" band wagon. In fact, I think he is wrongly blamed for a lot of things.
Bush is blamed for the economy. In reality, the president has little to do with the economy. The economy is mostly controlled by Congress. The last four year congress has been in the Democrat's control. Why do the Democrats get a free pass on this? The question has been asked, "Are you better off now than you were eight years ago?" Because of the recent downturn in the economy most of us would be tempted to say, "No!" The fact is, we are much better off than we were eight years ago. We must remember that less than 18 months ago the stock market hit an all time high. It went over 14,000 points on the Dow Jones. So, it seems that for the first six years of the Bush administration Americans must have been doing much better. Even now, most of us are better off. But we have forgotten. But don't forget that the two men who set up this free fall in the market are Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernake.
Bush is also blamed for the war in Iraq. I don't think we are justified in blaming him. At the time we went into Iraq, this seemed like a reasonable decision because the world (not only the USA) believe Iraq to have weapons of mass destruction. Weapons, which they used to exterminate their own people. Yes, the war has gone on longer than any of us have liked. Yes, in the early going mistakes were made in the war. Yes, we have spent billions of dollars, (By the way, most of these dollars went to US contractors that provided top shelf jobs for American workers.) So, on the one had this spending stimulated the American economy (did not drain it). And..... Yes, there is a better Iraq today, and this nation will be better tomorrow if we give it a chance.
Bush is blamed for high energy prices. How many cars do you think the Bushes can drive at one time? (Joke) Bush's policies actually kept oil prices from going higher than they did. Promoting drilling and harvesting our own oil ads to supply and lowers prices. It was the Democrats who prevented US oil companies from developing oil fields. The effect of that was higher oil prices.
I know, I know, Oil companies turned record profits. Well, other companies turned record profits these past few years as well, but we didn't gripe about them. What is it in America that makes us feel good when a big company that provides quality jobs doesn't do well, or loses money? And, why do we blame the President when companies do make money. Are we retarded? Look what has happened to our economy since the banking industry has been losing money.
Now, I want to admit that George Bush has not been my favorite president. I have differed with him on a number of issues. But I don't believe that he deserves the blame he has been getting. Don't forget, this president effectively and successfully led us through one of the darkest times in our nation's history after 911. Even after the markets tumbled after 911, they also soared to new highs in 2007.
George Bush has served his country honestly, honorably, effectively, and successfully during his administration. I believe that he was the man for the hour. He did the right thing at the right time. He did the unpopular thing that needed to be done. He did the hard job that would have been too hard for John Kerry and Al Gore. He certainly wasn't perfect. Neither was Bill Clinton (Monica). And, neither will be Barak Obama. At this late hour, Bush is under appreciated. We owe him our gratitude.
President, George Bush, thank you for all you have done for our nation. I truly hope that history will treat you better than today's society, whom you have selflessly served. You were the man for the job at this time in history. God has used you to better this world. Thank you again!
The best part of John McCain's campaign was his concession speech. Had he been this John McCain through the whole campaign he certainly would have done better. I got really tired of his negative ads, and I got really embarrassed over Muskgrave's adds. I thought they were shameful. Most of my candidates lost the election and I think that in large part it was because of two things. 1) Their commercials were shameful, and 2) All Republicans carried the burden of George Bush. I'll have more comments on George Bush in future blogs.
But now is the time. It is time for the Democrats to prove that they have a better way while not leading our country into socialism and penalizing hard working Americans through high taxation. Now is the time for the Democrats to fix the health care system (if they can). Now is the time for the Democrats to bring jobs back to America (if they can). Now is the time for Democrats to fix Social Security (if they can). Now is the time for Democrats to give all Americans an equal opportunity to employment and prosperity, without affirmative action (if they can). We all know that affirmative action is not equal opportunity, but is a system that favors certain segments of society. Now is the time for the Democrats to keep oil prices down through production of renewable resources, and increased oil production (if they can). We all know that automobiles will require liquid fuel for years to come. Now is the time for the Democrats to fix the banking system (if they can).
If they can! They say they can. They say they will. Democrats, America is now relying on you to do all things you promised.
Republicans, let's give them a chance. Support our new President. By the way, I do not view Obama as an African American. I have never viewed people as being one color or another. I have viewed people as human beings with equality. If this election was at all about race, then this is sad. Obama is a human being. He is our President. He deserves our support as Americans. The election and campaigning are over. As Republicans we must not be sore losers.
There is One who controls all of history. He sets up kings and causes kings to fall. We know that God is ultimately in control. There will be great purpose for the Obama presidency in God's plan.
We are Americans! We are a great nation that can become even greater in the years to come if we follow God's plan.
The election was a bitter loss for Republicans, but the Starbucks is still good. Enjoy your coffee.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
When I get home from work at night, and sit down to a cup of coffee, my back, feet and knees are usually aching, and I am really tired. I don't sleep well most nights because my knees throb so bad.... even with prescribed pain medication. I usually work pretty long days, then do bids and paperwork in the evening. Sometimes I am picking up materials in the evening for the next day's job. I keep on working even though my body gets tired and aches. I figure that's the best way to get paid and earn a living and to prepare for retirement.
Besides these things, I pay all my own social security, buy my own health insurance, and lay out hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars on a job before I get paid a penny at the job's completion. So there is a considerable amount of risk in what I do as it concerns my pay. I have no matching 401K. My business vehicle is a 1995 Toyota T100 with 213,000 miles on it. I try to keep overhead low. But I do hire sub-contractors to do some of my work. Therefore, I am providing employment for others. In addition to this, my wife and I give in excess of 20% of our income to charity. Plus we donate to Goodwill and to food banks. So our hard-earned dollars are given generously.
Even though there are days that I don't feel like going to work either because of aching body parts or tiredness, or both. I get up and go early anyway because it is the right thing to do, and it is fulfilling.
Now, I am not looking for sympathy, or empathy, nor am I trying to brag. I am just trying to make a point. That point is this: Why should the money that I have worked so hard to earn be confiscated from me through taxes and given to those who have not earned it. In fact, some of those dollars are likely to go to lazy people who sit in front of the TV eating potato chips and getting fat off my hard earned dollars.
Obama represents the height of socialism, which is just a soft word for communism. He doesn't give a rip about my aching back, hurting feet, and throbbing knees. He just wants me to make money so he can take it away from me and give it to someone who has not earned it. Even though my track record shows that I give to charity, he doesn't trust me to do it. He wants to take my money and give it to charities of his choosing, and the recipients won't even know that I gave. They will think Obama gave. This man is the epitome of a hypocrite and a socialist. Besides that he is a dumb ass who doesn't know the first thing about how an economy needs to run.
What really ticks me off is that there are enough Americans who are oblivious of what Obama stands for and will vote for him. And worse yet, those who do know and will vote for him anyway. There are those sitting in front of the TVs eating potato chips at my expense right now who will vote for him so that they can keep on with their dubious way of life. Obama calls this fairness.
Obama doesn't understand the meaning of the word "fair." He doesn't understand "free market." He doesn't understand that corporations don't pay taxes. He doesn't understand that tax increases will cost jobs. He doesn't understand that we pay enough taxes. And he doesn't understand that all wage earners should pay some taxes to have a part in the operation of the government.
What I do know is, I bust my backside and he wants to take away what I have earned to give it to someone who lives a life of leisure. What i do know is that once my wife and I were as poor as dirt, but we took the necessary steps and risks, and put in the hard work required to change our situation. Why sould we reward those to don't and won't? Why do they deserve our money?
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Being informed is not always golden. It doesn't hurt to have the knowledge, but sometimes the way the knowledge is dispersed or presented can cause alarm. Alarm leads to irrational actions.
I believe in freedom of the press. With this freedom comes responsibility to present truth in an even handed way. Many times the media psychs the public by sensationalizing its headlines. With BIG BOLD LETTERS they headline stories on the economy making the economy seem worse than it really is. Many people latch on to that and panic. Then they go sell their stock at a loss, which makes things worse than they were. The headlines become self fulfilling. Today's Wall Street Journal with today's headlines is a good example of this. It splashed big headlines concerning how the world might be going into recession. Does that make you want to invest your money?
The irony of the thing is that, many investors depend on the news in the Wall Street Journal to help them with their investments. Lately it seems as though they are hindering investors as they are caught up in the frenzy of bad news about the economy.
The sad thing is this: a lot of people have bought high and are selling low, so their money truly is going away. Now they do not even have shares that will grow in the future. When the market recovers and shares start going up in value, these people who sold low will not be able to recover their losses. Those who bought these shares at this new, low, discounted price will thrive when the market begins to recover.
Don't pay too much attention to economic news at this point if you are holding stocks or mutual funds. Hang in there. The markets are cyclical, and they will get better.
Those of you with 401Ks. Your account may be down now, but keep contributing because your money is buying cheaper shares. Therefore you get more shares for your dollar. If your employer is matching funds, that will make your investment even better in the future.
I say it again: Now is the time to buy!
I wrote this without the intoxication of coffee!.... which means, I am insane all of the time.
Friday, October 24, 2008
As much of the financial world panics, I do not. Sure, stocks are being sold off.... cheap! The Dow Jones is sinking as is the S&P 500. Panic sellers are losers. Want some cheap stock? It's out there. It may get cheaper yet. But remember, cheaper shares means you can buy more of them for the same price. When the market recovers, shares will mean everything! And these shares will go higher. Even the shares of the bad stocks will increase in value. Find a good cheap stock and your bottom line will grow.
Do you think that the Federal government will allow Ford Motor or General Motors go bankrupt? I think not! Ford shares are $1.99 and General Motors is about $5.00. Sure, they are struggling. But cars eventually wear out. The economy will get better. Their new lines of fuel efficient cars will sell, and they won't lose as much money. Might even make some. $2.00 stock will become $10.00 stock and $5.00 shares will become $30.00 shares. And these are the bad stocks right now. The good stocks will do even better.
Are you afraid of the market? This is a great buyer's market. You can bet the brokerages are loading up and getting ready for the upswing. Then we can complain about them making too much money again. In reality, they will save the market and make it tradable again. The dirty old brokerages just might save our 401K's after all.
P.S. Everywhere I go Starbucks is busy. Just think of how busy they will be once the economy swings upward. I don't suppose that will boost profits, do you? Might be worth a few shares now for the future. I drink so much of their coffee, they should make me part owner, or grant me some free shares. I love their coffee, atmosphere, and music. At least tonight.
Other picks: AK Steel, Gerdau American Steel, Citigroup (really cheap), Halliburton, Conoco Phillips, Chevron, Exxon Mobil. Oil demand is down now, the stocks are cheap. But we will drive again this summer and OPEC will cut production, and Obama won't do anything to boost domestic oil production. Oil will be back over $100 next summer. Consumers will buy hybrid Fords and Chevys.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I don't know what your definition of a busybody is, but mine is.... me! I'm not a busybody in the traditional sense, but just in the fact that lately I am so.... busy. Getting up at 5:00 in the morning isn't early enough anymore. I drive down close to my job, have breakfast and do paper work (some paper and some computer). Then I go to the job and put in a day, then do bids, pick up materials for the next day, and make more arrangements. I finish up about 8:00 - 9:00 in the evening. Get to bed at 10:30, wake up at 1:30 with aching knees, lay awake, then get up at the usual time and do it all over again. Now I'm even working Saturdays. Yuk! And to think that there are some people who thought I was doing nothing all the time.
Tonight's blog comes from Starbucks, a grande, an egg salad sandwich, and a refill. I hope that the creator of this expensive coffee is rewarded in heaven. There are Starbucks stations all over the city.... my office away from home. By the way, the sandwich and coffee were both great! I heard that drinking lots of coffee helps prevent colon cancer. I have the pictures to prove it!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Today was work and coffee.... or was that, coffee and work? I was down to Starbucks early at Colorado and 40th for a grande and to catch up on computer work. Then it was work at the house where I am doing a remodel. Then it was home for a coffee and a shower. Then to Starbucks at 104th and Federal for a tall while I prepared for a meeting. Then the meeting. Then back to Starbucks for another tall to wait for the next meeting. Then it was the next meeting. Then I drove home drinking cold coffee on the way. And guess what? I'm still not coffee'd out! Is coffee'd a word?
In a lot of ways coffee is my admission ticket to a place to wait out time and do some work. A chair and table for an hour is cheap office space. A tall coffee is $1.58.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I am sitting here in my house enjoying a fresh brewed pot of rich French Roasted Coffee while nibbling on a few candy corns. I do that in the fall season. My wife is home. Three of our grandkids are here (one celebrates his birthday today). And, the weather outside is beautiful. Our house is paid for, our cars are paid for, we have no debts and we have good jobs. Everything is pretty good except my knees. What a life! What more could we ask for? We are thankful for all that God has given us. And my prayer is that my knees will get better, too!
Besides these blessings, we enjoy some of the best weather in the country, beautiful mountains, great fishing and Starbucks is everywhere! We even have Craigslist to sell our junk! and a great church to give donations to. Ahh! America!
But as I write these things, I am acutely aware that not all of God's blessings are monetary. Many of our blessing are the people around us, the opportunity to serve God and others, and the opportunity to help those in need. Not only do we donate to Goodwill, but we buy from Goodwill. This affords opportunities of employment for those with special needs.
So our lives are not only enriched by what we have, but in how we serve. And the greater measure of fulfillment comes with the latter. What a life God has given us! What a thrill it is to use it for Him!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Audrey and I just came from a great coffee shop in Longmont. Lots of stuff in there including some classy confections. We forgot the name of the shop, but it is at the corner of the Diagonal and Hover. They even gave us a free almond pastry. Audrey had a latte and I had the light coffee, which was really black.
Anyway, I was thinking about Joe. You know, as in "Joe the Plumber." It appears that Joe the Plumber is not really a plumber and owes back taxes. But now T-shirts are being sold in honor of Joe the plumber. Joe the Plumber has become more popular than "Joe Six Pack" over night. And both these Joes might even be more popular than "Joe Shmoe", "Joe Blow" and "Just Any Joe." I think all these Joes are more popular than Joe Biden.
Joe the Plumber and Joe Six Pack have both helped the Republicans this year. But, have they helped them enough? The Republicans need Joe Shmoe, Joe Blow and Just any Joe to help out, too. But I am also counting on Joe Biden to help out by putting his other foot in his mouth. Come on Joe! We need a little more help!