Investment Strategy

I save money by doing my own taxes. Actually, I likely have lost big money doing this but am blissfully ignorant of what I have missed. The 1040 is not like an SAT exam; you do not get graded on it. A long time ago my company had four funds for employees to choose from for 401k investments. I chose to diversify by putting 25% in each fund and made no adjustments. Years later in union negotiations, our Benefits expert was discussing our offer with the company team and happened to mention that he did not know why anyone was in Fund A. He said they did a little survey to find out the reason. Half of the people seemed unaware they were in it and the other half denied being in it. I laughed along with everyone else but went back and lowered (but did not eliminate) my contribution and balance. Later the company added six more funds and I was too busy (lazy) to diversify into any of them. I had employees who claimed to be making more than their salary each year by investing 100% in the new Technology Fund. Finally in early 2008, I sat down with my oldest son (an intellectual property lawyer) and showed him my redistribution plan. I think I had designated 20% to Technology to catch up but he convinced me to go with 30%. Within months the Market began its great crash. Those who rode NASDAQ up only lost those crazy gains. But I took crazy Tech losses out of funds nurtured elsewhere and transferred in at the peak. This is why I am not too interested in the stories of friends and family members who brag about how much they made by investing early in Microsoft or Amazon stock.

Having Children

When I was growing up, I often told my parents I was never getting married and I was certainly never having children. I do not remember having strong feelings about it but mostly enjoyed provoking their reaction as they would try so hard to convince me that I would change my mind. I did not change my mind, Mollie did. We were married for more than five years before we had a baby so I think my parents were worried about the second half of my pledge for awhile. When Ryan turned one, I had him up on my shoulders at my parent’s house. My Dad was still sitting at the dining room table after dinner. He was gloating as he reminded me how I used to say I was never having kids. He wanted me to admit that I was wrong. Ryan saved me from having to answer by projectile vomiting all over my head and clothes. Everyone was so amused but eventually someone took Ryan from me. My parents had a walk in shower right off their front door entrance, an odd place for it now that I recall the scene. I stepped in and took a shower fully clothed. I never imagined that I would be able to see the humor in the incident over forty years later.

Eating Insight

One daughter-in-law of mine is a vegetarian and organic health food advocate. She does not usually eat meals. She grazes on fruits, smoothies, and other healthy snacks. The chocolate she consumes is an insult to the word chocolate. She “cheats” by eating frozen yogurt. She will cook spaghetti and vegetables for her children but will not eat them herself. She buys her three kids salads, fish, turkey sandwiches, and pizza from places like PCC and Whole Foods. Except for salad, she will consume none of it. She used to enjoy eating salmon but not any longer because they are living beings with eyes and all. She admires Breatharians who allegedly live without ingesting food. Since she is a long distance runner, she is often severely depleted at the end of exercise. We once pulled over at a PCC on the drive home from a run because she was acting woozy. Before I could get through the checkout line, she consumed an entire plate of food samples. She is only one of many people in a subculture of extremely disciplined eaters and exercisers; but what seems unusual to me is that she and my son binge watch television cooking shows. She is never going to eat or cook anything being prepared in those competitions. In fact, much of it should repel her. Now I realize that we can all be fascinated by things we do not personally believe in. My wife has always been addicted to murder mystery books and shows but as far as I know, she has no interest in being a murderer or being murdered. I think climbing Mt. Everest is idiotic but I was enthralled with Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air. Tomorrow I will report on my other big discovery: water is wet.

Barbers

I was waiting when the barber shop opened. I drew Barber 2 who learned from Barber 1 that the shop had been robbed the previous weekend. My haircut was delayed while Barb 2 searched to see if her blades had been stolen. Barb 1 gleefully told Barb 2 that Barb 2’s supermarket Monopoly Board and game stickers had been taken. This was unfortunate because Barb 2 was one sticker short in every single prize category. I wanted to explain that the game is designed to keep you one sticker away so you do not win but spend big bucks trying. Barb 1 said she lost two spare credit cards she keeps in a drawer and the thief used them at Fred Meyer and some Seattle businesses. Barb 2 asked how someone could use another person’s credit card. I silently formulated better answers than Barb 1 who clearly considered the question stupid. I was more incredulous that Barb 1 stored spare credit cards in a barber shop drawer. Barb 2 wanted to know why no one called her about the robbery since it happened four days ago. Barb 1 disdainfully asked, “What good would that do?” I could answer that rhetorical question but remained mute. Barb 2 tried to comfort by reminding Barb 1 about insurance. Barb 2 was annoyed to be explaining once again that the insurance only covered customers. I was initially pleased to know I was covered but then began worrying about why I need coverage. We also learned from Barb 1 that the snack box had been stolen and that local homeless guy had been spotted eating from chip snack packs this week. Barb 2 unilaterally changed the part of my hair but I tipped big anyway. Flashing money around may make me a suspect like homeless guy but I still need to return for another haircut and the rest of the story.

Prepositions

My wife can recite all the prepositions from memory. I cannot imagine why some teacher made students memorize them. That was in the day you were not supposed to end a sentence with one, so maybe you needed to know them all to avoid that danger. I cannot mock such memorization because I committed to memory the 13 times table up to 13×13 (169) just because I rebelled against the arbitrariness of stopping at twelve. You can imagine the lively parties we have hosted when I admit that we used to entertain our guests with our recitation skills. I even expanded to the 14 and 15 times tables and pushed my wife to memorize special prepositions not on the short list of seventy common ones. She rightly declined as we were getting fewer and fewer people at our parties. Posting a blog about prepositions will probably have the same effect on readership. I think students would be better served if we had all been taught to remember more important things, like where we left the car keys or the television remote. Or how about memorizing when we should use each preposition? I believe Jerry Seinfeld asked why we get “in” a cab or car but we get “on” a bus, train, or airplane. Likewise, we get “out of” the former and “off” the latter modes of transportation. These distinctions are important. Depending on your view, the “of” in President of the United States could be replaced with at least twenty other prepositions, including: above, against, from, inside, minus, opposite, versus, within, without.

Mole People

Moles are nothing but trouble. They are very versatile in the ways they betray you. They spy as enemies inside your government, business, or family and expose your secrets and weaknesses. They ruin your lawn and garden with incessant tunneling, producing ugly mounds of dirt where grass or flowers used to be. They attach themselves to your skin and morph into dangerous cancers like melanoma. The past tense of mole is mold and that has an ugliness all its own. Jennifer Toth’s 1993 book The Mole People┬átells the story of tunnel dwelling humanoids in New York City. One of them thought Toth witnessed him killing a crack addict and she fled the city in fear for her own life. Mole People accounts are often surrounded in controversy about how much is fictionalized. But everyone should be able to agree that moles of any kind are are just no good. President Trump needs to issue an Executive Order that restricts their ability to enter or exist in this Country before they start stealing our jobs.

Writer’s Block

I had a terrific idea for a Blog today. But I did not write it down. I have told myself over and over to record the good ideas even in the middle of the night. Myself never listens. So here I sit empty headed. Several people have tried to help me. One suggested that a perfect Blog today would be one explaining why this was going to be my final posting. Susan B. Anthony told me that she would give me a dollar coin if I wrote, “Men, their rights and nothing more. Women, their rights and nothing less.” It seemed like a trick because there is no such thing as a dollar coin. A third fellow offered that I should make the posting really short because those are my most popular Blogs. It seems to be too late to go short, sez I. Besides I already wrote the one about Trump’s good qualities. A critic said he did not care what drivel I composed as long as the name Ichiro was not in it. Some writers complain about Writer’s Block and my fact checker Wiki Pedia claims F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles M. Schulz, and Adele have all suffered with that condition. Readers of my Blog have reported suffering from my absence of Writer’s Block. Blank Page Syndrome is identified as another affliction (although they seems like the same thing to me). Imagine if you suffered from them both at the same time. I just remembered my terrific idea. Time to go, buffalo. I gotta find a pencil to write it down.

Bieber

Chris Rock does a funny routine about women dancing happily to nasty rap lyrics that are totally demeaning to them. I can see how that happens. I found myself liking the song Love Yourself and bopping along on the radio while driving around. When I realized it was a Justin Bieber tune, I was so disappointed in myself. I so want to not like anything by him. But I still enjoy the song. Of course, I might like it better if some girl was singing it to him: “My Mama don’t like you and she likes everyone….If you like the way you look so much…” Yeah, that would work so much better.

Bystander Effect

Recently two innocuous incidents made me remember the controversy surrounding the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese in New York City. News reports indicated that 38 people were witnesses and did nothing. Subsequent investigations suggested that very few people actually saw the complete attack, that some who heard screams misinterpreted what they were, and that others did in fact call police. Whatever the exact facts, the Genovese killing is often cited as a prime example of Bystander Effect, a social psychological phenomenon where individuals are less likely to help a victim if other people are present. A policeman who was directing traffic before a Mariner’s game yelled at a crowd of us on the corner, “Someone hit the walk button!” He then said to the other cop, “You got a hundred people over there and no one hits the walk button.” The police could override the signals but presumably the walk light made their job easier and safer by causing a longer sequence for the heavy one way pedestrian traffic. It was hard to hear the cop above the traffic and loud conversations, so I had no idea if the people back near the walk button even heard him. No one tried to relay the message. If you have two people on a corner, both will likely press the button but with a hundred pedestrians, apparently no one will. Eventually we got a walk signal, reinforcing individual decisions to do nothing. At the bank, we all queued up behind one man at the door. Five minutes after opening time, no one did anything except get restless. Finally a bank employee peeked out and said, “The door is unlocked.” I wonder how long we would have waited behind that first guy, assuming he had tried or knew how to open the the door.

Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout, the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, was recently quoted in Time Magazine: “Inside every person is a universe, and we’ll never know what it feels like to be another person. Which is horrifying.” I can agree with the first sentence but it does not seem so horrifying. In fact, the reverse is more likely. Would it not be more horrifying to fully experience another person’s universe? At the very least, it would surely be a tedious process. But what do I know? I am not the one with the Pulitzer. The year she won that prize, I finished 39th in the voting. I am forwarding Elizabeth the link to my Blog because it comes very close to exposing the universe inside of me. And I do expect she will be horrified.