Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Boy, were my eyes opened by what we saw this past Saturday!

First of all, let me ask you: if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make any noise? Keep this question in mind as you read on.

We were in DC this past weekend visiting relatives. On Saturday, which was a beautiful day, we toured the new visitor’s center at the Capitol. This is a new facility that is on the backside of the Capitol and is underground. In fact, it connects through a tunnel to the Library of Congress, which is also worth seeing if you are in DC.

Anyway, as we went in to the center, the attendant asked if we wanted to sit in on the Senate. That is right, the US Senate. They were in session talking about the proposed Health Care legislation. On a Saturday, no less!

Wow, what an opportunity that would be to see our lawmakers in action! We decided that this could not be passed up; that it was a “must do” thing.

Ok, to make a long story short, we passed through a lot of security and were escorted into the balcony overlooking the Senate chamber. It was in fact, in session! The cameras were on and one Senator was speaking. He was giving a presentation on the ramifications of the new health care legislation. It was a very good presentation, using charts and everything!

The only problem was that there were only three other Senators in the entire chamber! And they left just a minute or two after we were seated. So, this Senator from Alabama was giving a very impressive presentation to no one! Granted, maybe he was being filmed for C-Span or something but no one was hearing him. At least no one that counted. Out of 100 total Senators who were supposed to be in session, only one was actually in session and he was the one talking!

Maybe they do this all the time. It would certainly be an eye opener for most of America, you think?

I am thinking more and more that we need to throw all the bums out and start over! Let’s elect all new comers at each election until we can get this thing right.

Now, I ask once again, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make any noise?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


The day after the November 4 elections and what can we conclude?

The Republicans won big in Virginia and New Jersey. These elections weren’t even close. They were what the political pollsters call “landslides”!

Ok, we could spend a lot of time analyzing each of the specific races and look at the pros and cons of each candidate and rationalize why each might have won and their opponent might have lost.

But, and however, is the real reason that the winners were Republican and the losers were Democratic? Why would this be? Might it be a rejection of Obama socialism?

What has happened since the last national election? We have seen Barack Obama depart from his middle of the road campaign promises to out and out domestic socialistic policies on taxation, the economy, and health care. His stance on the wars and our reputation in the rest of world have been as advertised. He is doing a good job in these areas.

However, domestically it looks like, at least in two states, people are saying that they don’t like what the Democrats are trying to do. In reaction, they have gone back to Republican candidates, who themselves have their own pros and cons.

Why can’t we have candidates who are squarely in the middle of the road where the majority of Americans are? Maybe there is no middle of the road anymore?

Anyway, at least in Virginia and New Jersey, we have seen a huge rejection of the Democrats!

Monday, October 19, 2009


Hey, do you remember a few years ago that there was a “new” asset allocation strategy being used by the big endowments? We are talking about Harvard and the Ivy League schools as well as other big name schools and foundations.

The “old” and outdated strategy was Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) and up to then had been sort of universally accepted as the way to diversify your portfolio and achieve some semblance of risk moderation.

During the market run up between 2002 and 2007, the endowments thought they could both increase their returns and further moderate their downside exposure. Wow! This sounds like the Holy Grail to me. Increase returns and lower risk? Sign me up!

They thought the way to do this was to increase their investments in “alternative” investments and reduce exposure to traditional stocks and bonds. Things like hedge funds, venture capital funds and absolute return funds. Of course, these investments were doing well in the middle 2000’s like everything else.

So, the strategy was working! But, first of all, who can tell me what a hedge fund is and how it really works? You say, they hedge their bets and make money when the market goes up and when it goes down. Now, what about an “absolute return fund”? Well, it strives to make money all the time, even when the market has negative returns. Don’t we all try to do that?

All of this is not to mention that these products have abnormally high expense ratios. We are talking 2 to 5 % instead of your more normal .5% to 1% that us peons usually pay for our mutual funds. Which, by the way, try to make money all the time as well!

So, what has happened? The endowments are now disappointed with their returns in the last two years. The average endowment lost 19% between June 2008 and June 2009. The endowments such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton have lost around 25% in this period. They are now trying to unwind these "alternative" investments.

Whoa! You mean to tell me that the new strategies didn’t work? True! A simple 60/40 mix of the S&P 500 index and the Barcap Aggregate Bond Index would have “only” lost about 14%.

So, the endowments paid big money for worse than index performance!

All of this goes to show that simple is better; index performance over time is better than managed; the basics of MPT are still valid; and finally, that exotic high priced products only benefit the providers of the products and not the buyer of same!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Okay, was this really a joke? Barack Obama is the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize? Yes, he really is. It is not a joke.

How can this be? He has been in office since February. What peace accomplishments has he done? What if he had done something in those 8 months? About the only thing that he could have done to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize would be to make peace between the Arabs and the Israelis.

And for sure he is trying but it has not happened.

And really, aren’t these prizes supposed to be for a lifetime of accomplishments? How can this be?

Mother Theresa, Anwar Sadat. Now they were really great examples of Peace Prize recipients. But their accomplishments happened over a number of years; not 8 months!

Now we know that he didn’t ask for this. He was nominated by someone and somehow they decided to give it to him based on the potential of him achieving something. If he had any guts, he would give it back or refuse to accept it. The awards have just been cheapened.

Maybe at some point he will deserve it; but not yet.

What is going to happen next?


Barack Obama is at it again. He just can’t keep his socialistic tendencies from taking over and making these grandiose pronouncements.

Just in case you have been in outer space, he is proposing to give
$250 to each of about 57 some million Social Security recipients. You can do the math but just in case your calculator is broken that is around 14.25 billion dollars! Not that we have the extra dollars running around somewhere.

The reason for this proposed generosity is that the cost of living formula for Social Security calls for no increase this year. The formula is based on inflation in the economy and there has not been any this year.

Thus, our President thinks he should do something about it. This is akin to someone running for President of their eighth grade class and saying that "if elected, I will eliminate homework!". Now we know that can't happen nor should it happen. There are rules for homework and rules for the cost of living increases in SS.

Are we all forgetting that last year the annual cost of living increase in the SS system was over 5%! How many of you out there got a 5% raise last year? Did all the people crying about no raise this year volunteer to give back some of their excessive 5% raise last year? Not on your life!

Let’s leave the system alone for now. Follow the rules on the annual Cost of Living formula.

Not that it doesn’t need to be fixed! It does but it doesn’t need to have the benefits increased; the system is going broke. We need to find a way to reduce the payouts not increase them!


Well, we have some more news that needs some common sense applied to it.

Did you see the big announcement by the National Association of Stock Car Racing about its new Hall of Fame? If you are any kind of race fan, you couldn’t miss it.
It was plastered all over the racing press!

The inaugural members are: Bill (Big Bill) France Sr., Bill France Jr., Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Junior Johnson.

Four of these five members have solid credentials that qualify them for such a Hall of Fame. Can you guess which of the five does not?

Here is a clue. He never drove a race car and didn’t start Nascar. That leaves only the son of the founder. Bill France Jr. (little Bill?)

What are his qualifications over and above such racing stars as David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, etc?

None that is apparent. Well, maybe he gets good marks for running the organization after his daddy set him up as the President. Ok, he is a good administrator and promoter.

But, for the first class of Hall of Fame members, does he make the cut? Maybe the second or third class. But the inaugural class?

Not in my book!

Just my opinion for what it is worth.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Surely you are kidding? Can this possibly be true? The schools and parents don’t want to let the kids listen to the President of the United States of America?

Isn’t he the President of all the people? Isn’t he the President of all the states?

What do the suits think he is going to say? Will he say to the kids: revolt and tell the parents and teachers to “kiss my butt” etc? Will he foment a revolution? Will he tell them to get their parents to vote for health care reform? Aha!

Well, that has to be it: the health care issue. But, really, all he wants to do is to tell the students to study hard and stay in school.

What, that is all he wants to do? Then why not let him do it? You got me.

What in the world is going on in this country when no one wants to hear the President of all the people, not just President of some of the people, tell our students, our future, to stay in school and study hard?

Something is horribly wrong here. Are our teacher and principals so subservient to warped public opinion that they can’t think for themselves? Are the Parents behind this issue?

Again, what in the Sam Hill is going on? (for that matter who is or was Sam Hill?)

But you get the picture. Let’s get on with education and give our kids a positive message. One that encourages them to study hard and stay in school. From the leader of our country.

It is unbelievable that this issue should even have to addressed!

Just my opinion; what do you think?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I don’t have any trouble making up my mind. I don’t have any trouble expressing my opinions. I do change my mind from time to time and it is distressing me to say that it is happening again.

To give you some history, I have been for years what you would call an economic Republican and a social Democrat. What this means is that we as a nation should be fiscally conservative and strive for a balanced budget, spending money only when it is necessary. Further, we should as a nation understand that “there are people out there that need help” and you can quote me on that. People that have been disadvantaged by race, by economic circumstances, by events or things not of their own doing. Examples of this would be Hurricane Katrina; one of our nation’s biggest failings. Other examples would be disadvantaged by race or ethnicity. If you don’t understand how different it is to be black every day of your life, then go ask someone what it is like to walk in their shoes. Yes, we have made a lot of progress in our country but “we aint there yet”.

Now, I need to tell you that I was so disgusted by George “they tried to kill my Daddy” Bush, Dick “they do have weapons of mass destruction” Cheney, and Don “I have no idea what I am doing” Rumsfeld that there was no way I could vote for another Republican in the latest Presidential election. Our reputation in the world was as low as it has ever been. We had no more credibility left as a country. Our civil rights were being trampled. And, we were in a recession of unknown magnitude.

Along comes Barack Obama and he presents a different alternative for a President. Rather than a continuation of the status quo. He wants to fix our reputation in the world and wants to correct some of the social injustices in this country. Unfortunately, he was dealt a recessionary environment which has to be fixed. This is on top of extracting us from our various wars around the world but accomplishing the main mission against terrorism. I was enthusiastically on his boat!

Here is where I get off the boat! There is a difference between getting the economy going by some social programs, public works spending, and helping out (yes, bailing out) some of our major corporations on the one hand; and on the other hand, going hog wild on leveling out the growth of wealth and income in our country. That is not free enterprise and capitalism but instead is socialism. Nancy Pelosi is the poster child for this approach. (How can anyone from California have any national credibility left based on the fiscal ineptness of what is happening in their state?)

I am sure you have seen the current proposals about assessing a surcharge on income above $350,000 and requiring company paid health insurance for all employees. Not that I make that much but there are those that do and we need them in our country. Capitalism makes our country grow, makes our country great and ends up trickling down to everyone. Yes, you could call it “trickle down economics.”

Let me off the boat, I am feeling very let down by our Congress, the representatives of the people. I don’t know what to do.

I think I will go for a hike by myself on the Appalachian Trail. Maybe something will come to me. I might even run into a politician or two! Maybe I should go to Argentina?


Where to start? I have been accumulating ideas and thoughts on what to write about for quite some time. It has been awhile since the last blog and I have felt somewhat guilty for not getting something done. However, things have intervened such as vacation, golf, spraining my ankle playing tennis, taking up swimming, family etc.

So, with that said, some things are weighing on my mind and it is time to get them off my mind and onto yours! This will be somewhat of a collage of thoughts and pronouncements.

First of all, if you follow football (and even if you don’t) how could you miss the announcement that the Senate is going to “look into the BCS”? BCS of course stands for the Bowl Championship Series. The recent process is going to be led by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a Republican no less! They think that the Senate needs to intervene in the sports worlds domain to ensure fairness in the selection of a national champion of football. Well, Democrats take notice! Who is talking socialism now? The Republicans want to spread the wealth (more on this later) for the common good.

This sounds a whole lot like communism and way past socialism. Why do we need government intervention in this process? Yes, it is flawed. Yes, it might not anoint the absolute best team. But, it does create a lot of enthusiasm in the country and a lot of discussion on something like college athletics. Isn’t this good that such discussions can overarch race, politics (up to now), and take our mind off more serious matters. Yes, we can actually have fun with this as a nation!

Furthermore, doesn’t the Senate have better things to do with their time? Like discussing Governor Mark Sanford’s situation? Like figuring out how to get out of the auto and investment banking business?

Next up and this shouldn’t take long: did you see the headline about the CIA being told not to pursue the assassination of Al Qaeda “executives? What? Are you kidding me? Isn’t this what we are spending billions on in Afghanistan and Iraq? I thought we had a price on Bin Laden’s head as well as his minions?

Now we are saying that the secret mission of the CIA that was targeted to trying to take them out by assassination or other inside techniques should not be continued. Why not? Again, isn’t that what we are trying to do in Iraq and Afghanistan? Isn’t the CIA our spy and intelligence agency? Isn’t that what they are supposed to be doing?

I am so confused. Someone please straighten me out on this one! Please!

Monday, May 18, 2009


Well, it has happened again. Or, maybe I am just more aware of what people are doing these days. Open your eyes and watch what goes on in your lives.

You may remember the blog I did on December 24, 2008 about the lady who was either Dishonest or Destitute and possibly “stealing” drinks from McDonalds? If not just go back and read it for reference.

On a Sunday no less, I am eating lunch at Kentucky Fried Chicken. No, not the fried chicken but I wanted to try their new grilled chicken. So, here I am sitting there eating the grilled chicken, which was quite good by the way. In walks an older couple and the man comes to the table next to me to sit down and the wife gets in line to order.

There are a number of people there and it is taking some time. After a while, really only a few minutes, the man gets up and goes out to the parking lot. He opens the trunk of his very new looking Lexus 400. Not the baby Lexus but the big one. He comes back with a Wendys cup and proceeds to go the self service drink fountain and get one.

Shortly after that the lady comes with their order and they begin to eat. They recognized me and said hello etc. You see we go to the same church and are members of the same country club. I knew who they were and knew that these people are not poor and in fact, they are what you might say is wealthy!

Why are these people doing this? Is it the thrill of getting away with something? Certainly they are not hurting for money in this case. Others might be but maybe they could just drink water?

Certainly I am not an angel. Yes, I have used pencils, pens and paper clips etc from the company that I used to work for. But, if someone gives me too much change I give it back to them. I don’t knowingly cheat businesses out of their product.

What is going on here? Do I have my head in the sand? Am I the only somewhat honest person in the whole country? Do we have a major problem with integrity and character in our country?

What do you think? Let me hear from you on this.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Banks; the Contradiction

Have you been paying attention lately to the headlines? Yeah, you see all these things in the print and on the internet. But, have you put all these things into context and make them make sense? So, I ask again, have you really been paying attention.

The Government wants the Banking Industry to get more capital but to reduce their capital by forgiving (writing off) loans to GM and Chrysler. The Government is critical of the fees that the Banks charge to consumers. The Government wants the Banks to make more loans. Now, have you been paying attention?

Lets work through this a little.

First of all a couple of facts. Our banking industry is assessed by the government as needing more capital. Secondly, the banks thus need to make more money as one of the ways to generate more capital (earned capital). Banks do make money from loans (the Government says make more loans; quit hoarding money)via interest and fees and they make money from consumer fees like overdraft fees. The Banks also need to obtain capital from other providers such as stockholders, private investors, and others. Next, the Banks hold hundreds of billions in loans to GM and Chrysler.

So, with that as a backdrop what is the U. S. Government (let’s call it Gov) saying about the Banks? Are you ready for this? Can you deal with these contradictions?

Gov wants the Banks to have more capital. Gov wants the Banks to not charge so much for overdraft fees and thus earn less money. Gov wants the Banks to forgive some of their loans to GM and Chrysler since GM and Chrysler can’t pay back the loans. The Banks would get equity for their loans. When the Banks forgive debt and get equity, they have to write off the amount of the loans thus reducing their capital position. With respect making more loans, if the economy is in recession and borrowers aren't earning money and cannot pay loans back, then tell me again why the Banks should make more loans to more borrowers?

What? Huh? Gov says get more capital but reduce capital by forgiving loans! Gov says get more capital and earn more money but reduce overdraft and other consumer fees!
Gov says attract more capital from outside sources of money but how can this be done when the Banks are writing off loans and reducing their source of income via fees, thus reducing profitability? Gov says make more loans but be sure they are good ones.

What is going on here? Does this make any sense? Has Gov gone bonkers?

Yes, GM and Chrysler have too much debt and cannot pay it back. Yes, the Banks did loan it to them; no one made them. Yes, Banks do charge fees to consumers but people shouldn’t overdraw their accounts anyway. Yes, Banks do need more capital since they have paper losses on these loans and they might as well write them off and get something for them, such as equity in GM and Chrysler. Yes, the Banks did get money from Gov and were told to make loans; but only good ones.

So, the bottom line is that Gov is right. They are not crazy. However, they could make this a little more clear to people. They could explain their actions more clearly to the lay person who doesn’t have the knowledge of high finance.

Really this is low finance! When you have bad loans, you have to write them off. Then you need more capital to replace that which you just lost. It all makes perfect sense. The only things that don’t fit are Gov being critical of Bank fees and being critical of Banks not making enough loans; Banks are just doing what they need to do to make more money i.e. capital; charge fees and make loans to entities that can pay them back. That is capitalism at its best.

We are still a capitalistic society; aren’t we?

Friday, April 10, 2009


As my buddies and I were walking down the golf course the other day, we got onto the subject of Michael Vick. In case you have been in a coma for the last few years, Vick is the former Virginia Tech quarterback who was drafted and starred (some would say) for the Atlanta Falcons pro football team.

He is also the person who bankrolled his buddies in a dog fighting operation. Needless to say they were caught and after several denials etc, they “fessed up” to the crimes.

Future and current politicians take note: it is always easier and better in the long run to confess to something than to deny, deny, deny, and then ultimately have to confess anyway! The Richard Nixons, Bill Clintons and Rod Blagojevichs (I never could have spelled this without spellcheck) of the world can attest to this strategy!

Anyway, back to Michael. It is also a lesson to be learned to associate yourself with people who won’t get you in trouble! However, in this case, we really don’t know which came first the chicken or the egg; I mean, who got who into the dog fighting business: Michael or his buddies? I won’t speculate on that.

What I do want to talk about is the future. In a recent ruling before the bankruptcy judge in his case, Vick’s bankruptcy plan was rejected. His plan was simple; he was going to back to pro football and earn money so he could repay his creditors and make restitution for his crimes.

The judge rejected the plan and sent him back to prison. He is scheduled to get out in July of this year, with possible early release. One of the reasons given by the court for rejecting his plan was that it was not known if Vick would be allowed to play pro football.

Well, if you and I went into bankruptcy and owed millions, we couldn’t just say “approve our plan to play professional golf, basketball, football or baseball and we can pay back the money”. Why? Because we aren’t good enough to do that is why! We might be able to get a tryout if you stretch this some, but good enough to play? Forget it!

However, in Vick’s case, he might still be good enough to play pro football. But, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, refuses to say, even now, if Vick will be allowed to try out or be given another shot.

Why is this? He won’t say. Just that he hasn’t made up his mind. What is he waiting for? How long does it take to make up your mind? Is he afraid of the PETA lobby?

I love pets and dogs just as much as they do but we are humans beings with the ability to think, reason, and forgive. When should lobbying groups determine the future of a human being? Why should these groups want to continue to punish someone who has been punished and wants to make restitution? Why can’t they forgive? I am not saying they should forget but at least forgive and let this man live his life and try to pay back his debts in the manner that he has been trained to do.

Vick is serving and presumably will finish out his time. In the eyes of the court, he will have done his duty and paid his price and is released back into society. My bet is that he won’t ever harm a dog again; which is the purpose of serving time for the crime he committed.

Isn’t this America? Where we forgive people who have paid the price and done their time? Ok, let’s even bring the church into this discussion. The Bible says to forgive people for their sins. Does he deserve a second chance?

What if this was you or I? Would we want a second chance to be productive in our society? You bet we would!

So, Roger Goodell, get off your butt and make a decision. Give Michael Vick the chance to play pro football again. It is still not a given that he can get drafted or chosen and further that he can actually play, given his age. But let that be up to him.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I have been thinking about this for a while. As a relatively new golfer, I am constantly amazed by what happens on the golf course and in the minds of golfers.

Let me go back in time for a moment. Growing up and in my adult life, I was a tennis player mostly. Yeah, like most guys, I played adult league softball and basketball. Also jogged some. But golf? Well I played once or twice a year in captain's choice events when it was a "command performance" for business purposes.

But really, who had time for golf? Having to actually work for a living, it just seemed like golf took a long time to play. First of all, you have to get to the course. Then you have to park and check in and register-maybe 10 to 15 minutes. Next, you need to practice putting and hit some balls. For me this is at least 30 minutes. Tee time is next and a round of golf can be from 4 hours to 5 hours depending on a lot of things: playing partners, weather, groups ahead of you, and finally, how many balls you hit straight or into the woods. Then, you need to have a drink, settle the bets, and talk about each stroke that each person hit. So, that is another 30 minutes or an hour. We could be talking 5 to 6 hours in total. Again, what person who has a couple kids and a job has that kind of time to do this fairly frequently?

Also to be honest, my opinion of golfers as sportsmen was not very high. I have always been into exercise and the thought of getting my exercise by riding around in a mechanized golf cart didn't give me goose bumps! Seeing these mostly old, mostly overweight, and mostly white guys hitting balls into the woods didn't do much for me. Thus my opinion of golfers was pretty low.

Yes, I did have some friends who walked and played and seemed to do pretty good at it so there were at least a few positive thoughts about golf. In fact, one guy who is a very good friend played a lot and was very good. We were both transferred to the same city while working and we ended up sharing an apartment until our families arrived. He used to watch the golf channel; oh my God, how could anyone do that? I thought: "what could be more boring?". He thought it was the greatest thing in the world: his wife wasn't around to comment on his channel choice; he could watch it every minute he wasn't working; and he might even have learned something in the process!

You ever notice how golfers can remember each and every shot they made during a round? They remember the distance; the lie of the ball at their feet; the amount and direction of the wind; and what happened to their shot. This used to blow my mind. How can anyone remember all this information? Forget about the fact that us tennis players could remember our aces and passing shots.

Anyway, once I retired for the first time and had some time on my hands, I made up my mind that I would give it a shot and become "a golfer". So I started playing and taking lessons. This was in 2002 so I have been at it almost 7 years.

My perceptions now of golf and golfers are now different from what they used to be! Rather than try and put these into prose let me just bullet point them.
*First of all, on my home course my partners and I walk so we are getting 4 to 5 hours of exercise by walking about 6 miles. Playing 3 times a week gives you some good exercise!
*Golf is a hard game! It is much harder than tennis especially when you have “only” been playing the short amount of time that I have. Most good golfers have been playing since they were kids and their swings are grooved. Mine is not.
*The concentration required for golf is huge compared to other games. Tennis for example, will allow you to take “some time off” and still compete and win. You can’t do that in golf without ruining your score.
*The Golf Gods seem to control everything that happens to you instead of you being in control. You can play good one hole and screw up the next hole; the Golf Gods make this happen.
*You can play really good for several rounds and think you have the game whipped. Fuggedaboudit; the Golf Gods are just teasing you and will make your next round or 10absolutely terrible. Your swing will be gone and it will be like you have never played the game before.
*You will suddenly be endowed with a super memory and will now be able to remember each stoke of your 70 to 100 strokes that day. You will now be able to bore your buddies and your spouse as well as other non-interested people with your litany of what went into the woods, the water, and yes, even those putts that went into the hole.
*This memory, however, is only good for golf and will not help you remember birthdays or even what to get from the grocery store on the way home, if indeed you are sober enough to drive home.
*I have learned that I have a split personality. There is the one that can shoot around par for 9 holes; call him unconscious Ray. Then there is the one who appears for the second nine and shoots 45 or so; call him real Ray. When and where they come out is entirely beyond my control as they both want to have some playing time. I think the Golf Gods have something to do with this.
*It is apparent that the Golf Gods are in control and I am not able to suppress real Ray and keep unconscious Ray on the course.
*New golf clubs can make you play better; that is until you buy them. At that point, you will revert back to the same pathetic shots you used to hit. I have bought new golf clubs twice. Once to replace the ones I got from my dad, which were obscenely old. This actually helped my game. Then I bought another set of irons. This helped for a while but not lately.
-Drivers are another entire subject. I have friends who will buy a new driver in a heartbeat if they think it will get them another 10 yards off the tee. In fact, it will; but only until they buy it (see above bullet point)!

So, what else can I say about golf? Nothing except that it is an addictive game. I can safely and confidently say that I am addicted. More than I have ever been about tennis. I think the reason is that it is so hard to master. It always will be no matter how good you or I get; the Golf Gods will see to it that we are humbled any time that we get too much confidence.

The challenge continues!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Time to author another weblog! I have been thinking about this one for quite a while. I have been getting a lot of questions about what to do and what not to do in light of current economic and financial problems.

My family is calling; my friends ask me; and my past clients are calling me.

I don’t need to go into the details of what is going on as you can’t help but be familiar with everything. I commented on all this in an earlier blog dated September 16th, 2008. This writing will build on and supplement that article.

So what do you do? What do they do? What does anyone do? Well, the answer is: it depends! Not really an answer you say? This is like being a kid and asking my mother for something I wanted. Her answer was either “we’ll see” or “God willing”. Of course, both of these answers were her way of saying NO.

Back to the problem at hand. The answer is simple. But everyone has their own current situation and place in life and thus their own customized answer to the questions of what to do!

Let’s say you are in your 20’s, 30’s or early 40’s. You should be buying equities. Remember the saying: sell high and buy low. This is a good description of today i.e. buy low. Your overall asset mix should a minimum of 10% bonds in 20’s rising to 30% by 40’s.

If you are in your late 40’s and 50’s, there is the need to begin lowering the volatility of your portfolio by moving a larger percentage of the total into bonds or fixed income. For example, if you are in your early 50’s, maybe you should have 30% to 35% in bonds.

By the time you retire, you should have worked this bond/fixed income percentage up to at least 40%. Some might say 45% or 50%.

Annual rebalancing to your overall allocation targets is appropriate. I know, it is scary and the thought of putting money into equities now must seem crazy. But by using well diversified stock funds, you get the equity market exposure but don’t have the single stock risk.

So, what to do? It depends on your age and situation but in general buy low and sell high; staying diversified by using mutual funds. You might want to get some help from a FEE ONLY advisor.

Now, for what not to do. Did you think I was going to forget this part? How can you read about all the Ponzi schemes that have been discovered recently and forget about this?
The schemes are complicated and of course there are other frauds going on that haven’t been discovered yet. And, there are things that you shouldn’t do that are completely honest but maybe not good!

So, the bottom line for me is “don’t invest in something that you don’t understand”. If you don’t know how something works, then don’t buy it. For example, what about the 130/30 funds? Do you know how they work? Would you buy one if someone told you that they are designed to always make money by being “market neutral”? If you could be market neutral and always have a gain, who are the suckers who are always losing money? Come on; really, do you believe this?

What about hedge funds. Do you know how they work? Sure, they hedge their risk so that they too only make positive returns. Ok, why doesn’t everyone just buy hedge funds? Let’s all make money and no one will lose money! The market doesn’t work that way. For every winner, there has to be a loser. Which one are you? What about all the Madoff investors; are they the winners or the losers?

There is something to be said for plain vanilla “things” whether they be mutual funds or stocks or bonds. If it gets too complicated and you don’t understand how the sponsors can do what they profess to be able to do, then maybe they really can’t do it and they are just taking your money and hoping they will do well.

Let the buyer beware. Remember the words of P.T. Barnum; “there is a sucker born every day”. Don’t you be one of them!

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


These days it seems like everyone is into writing a book on dieting. The other night while visiting Barnes and Noble, they had a whole table of diet books and they were all new! Today in the Wall Street Journal, they had an article on the good and bad diet books.

Well, I am going to give you a bonus. Here is my book on dieting and it will only be an article and cost you nothing! Guaranteed to lose weight if you do what I say! What are my qualifications to write something like this? My wife would tell you that I have none. However, I do have opinions on things and am not shy about sharing them!And, last but not least, I have also dealt with weight as an issue and conquered it for the moment. However, it is like being an alcoholic; you can't let up, ever. You always have to fight the fat and be aware of what you eat and the amount of excercise you get.

Here we go.

Chapter One. Commitment.
Do you want to lose weight? No, I mean do you really want to lose weight? You have to be committed and willing to change your habits. You need to be willing to not eat the good stuff. For example, when eating your turkey sandwich for lunch, you can’t have the fries with it. Get fruit or nothing at all, not even the chips. You can’t get the fries and say you will only have a couple. None, zip, nada, zilch; you get the point. None means none. So, are you committed and ready to move onto the next chapter?

Chapter Two. What to eat for breakfast.
First of all, eat a good breakfast. This is the most crucial meal of the day and it should be nutritious. Get a lot of fiber here also. For example, I eat two eggs, two pieces of whole wheat toast (loaded with fiber) and a banana. I drink a glass of orange juice but drink two glasses and each is one half juice and one half water. Now I can’t even order juice in a restaurant because it always tastes too sweet! The fiber in the whole wheat toast will also help you have a good dump in the morning! A banana a day helps the “little men” in your colon to shovel the s*** out each morning!
This breakfast will carry you through until lunch although you can have a nonfat snack if you need one about 10:30. A couple fig newtons or low fat vanilla wafers are ok with a glass of water.
As an alternative, you can substitute the pieces of toast and eggs with a whole wheat bagel.
Fruit in any quantity is good and can be a substitute for anything.

Chapter Three. What to eat for lunch.
You can eat a sliced turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onion. You can have some mustard on it if you want. You will notice that I did not say “with cheese” and I certainly did not say “with mayonnaise”. NO MAYO under any circumstances! This goes for any meal: NO MAYO. And in fact: nothing that is white and creamy on any thing that you eat for evermore! This stuff is loaded with fat so don’t ever eat it any more. The cheese is also loaded with fat so it is also a lifetime no-no.
You could eat a grilled chicken sandwich also but the same corollaries apply as to what to put on it and what not to put on it.
Again, you can eat a snack and have a glass of water about mid afternoon. Fruit is good anytime.

Chapter Four. What to eat for dinner.
You can have a salad with some grilled chicken or shrimp. The only dressing you can have is a non fat dressing. No cheese or creamy white dressing (do I have to say this again?). You can also have a piece of grilled chicken or fish or small steak or hamburger. Baked potato is ok but use salsa instead of butter and certainly no sour cream (remember the white and creamy rule?). Fruit and vegetables are good at any time as well.
That is it. There is nothing else on the menu at this point.
You can have a small snack about 8 or 8:30.
Let me make another point about dinner. Eat it around 6 or 6:30. The latest time you should start dinner is 7:00pm. Eating late only lessens the metabolism and lets the fat stay on instead of burning it off before you go to bed.
If you can take a walk after dinner, that is good.

Chapter Five. What to drink.
You will notice I have addressed breakfast: juice. Coffee is ok but use artificial sweetener.
For lunch, drink water or diet drinks. You are off sugared drinks forever. You get that? None, zilch, nada, zip. No sugared drinks any more!
For dinner, drink water or decaf coffee or other decaffeinated diet drinks.
With any snacks, drink water or anything with no sugar and no caffeine.
The only “good” thing you can have to drink is a beer or glass of wine from time to time.

Chapter Six. Exercise.
Yes, there is that word again. You thought you would or could get by with out seeing or dealing with this issue? No way Jose!
It is crucial that you get enough exercise. You have to jump start your metabolism and keep it going. That goes for any age. It can be done. I have done it several times.
It is the fire that burns all this stuff up. What is not burnt, the “little men” I spoke of earlier will deal with!
You have to exercise twice a day. Yes, once in the morning or at lunch and then once in the evening. 15 to 30 minutes each time. What should you do? As much as you can. Walking, running, lifting weights, swimming, elliptical or treadmill or stationary bikes etc. All these are good and will work.
But, they don’t work by themselves. You have to do it. And, you have to be dedicated and committed (yes, there is that word again) and do it every day two times each day!

Chapter Seven. Summary
There is nothing revolutionary here. It is all common sense. It is all dedication and will power and commitment. It is built on eating sensibly and stoking the metabolic fire with exercise and constant eating (of non fat foods).

My suggestion is to get a yellow pad of “post its” and put many of them around your home and office on the walls, desks etc. Write on each one of them the number of pounds you want to lose. Each time you are ready to eat a meal or do something, look at the number, let it burn in your memory.

Weigh yourself each morning at the same time. Right after you get up but before breakfast. I know other methods say to only weigh once a week but come on; you need constant feedback on how it is going.

Chapter Eight. Final summary.
The key words here are Committment and Discipline; Fat Grams; and Excercise. They are all important components of your fight. Fight the Fat is the motto!

So, that is it. Call me with any questions. Also call me and let me know how much weight you are losing.
I will look forward to hearing from you.