Saturday, April 23, 2005

A Bully Never Really Grows Up

I do business with all kinds of people. Most are really pretty good. There are a few who are over the top.

One I will call Biff (not his real name) who is a classic case of “always being taken advantage of” (in his eyes). He'’s unwilling to do what he said he will do and then when others don'’t jump to his tune he creates the following fine whine:

  • After all I'’ve done for them
  • I’'m taking all the risk
  • I don'’t like this
  • I’'ve done all the work
  • I’'ve been accommodating in every way
  • This isn’t the deal I wish I had made
  • I'’ve worked so hard on all this I deserve to get what I want

These are symptoms of a spoiled brat. “ It isn’t fair. It isn’t fair. Mine. What about me? It’s my turn. I’m carrying all the weight around here”.

This would be funnier if it wasn’t a 60 year old man. If this were a 13 year old kid I could understand. You assume he'’ll grow up. Biff never did.

As I get older I get more selective. Once this deal is done I'’m done with him. I don’t need the aggravation and I have sworn off baby sitting spoiled brats no matter their age..

I am not the Yellow Pages

I have a few friends who will call me and within a couple minutes will ask for someone’s phone number “I need to give him a call, do you have his phone number handy?”

I am accommodating short run. You get one gimme. Kind of like calling your phone company’s directory services. I’ll be a friend but not your golden retriever.

I have two friends in particular who are serial offenders. They will call me, assuming I have nothing else to do, knowing I am not near a phone book, and ask me to find the phone number of a mutual acquaintance.

I am learning an important word from David Spade. NO NO NO NO NO!

So if YOU are that offender and you read this please get a piece of paper, call information, and get the number, WRITE IT DOWN. I’m not your directory service. If you call me I’m going to be pretty tough to move. I have a lot against being used. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can take advantage of you without your consent”. Consent officially withdrawn.

A Too True Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a king (Green) from a far country who sent treasures to a Sneaky Servant who served the kingdom of Vale. Vale’s sneaky Servant promised to pay Green for these treasures out of Vale’s treasury. Sneaky Servant was in charge of the moneybags. I see to it you get paid, “he said.”

The kingdom of Vale generously supported weaker fiefdoms with lesser treasures. One in particular was the Fiefdom of Manx. Manx got seeds from Vale to grow cucumbers to help support himself, most of which he sold to the Kingdom of Vale. The Kingdom of Vale had all the cukes it could eat and the small investment the Kingdom of Vale made was honored by Manx selling the Cukes it did to Vale for less than he could have received at the village market. Manx didn’t have to go to the market on Saturdays and sit all day and Vale didn’t have to worry about cukes. It was a good arrangement based in trust and honesty. Vale was becoming weaker and weaker because Sneaky Servant was draining the treasury. In time Vale couldn’t even pay Manx for Cukes it had received. But Manx being a loyal fief continued to send Cukes hoping to help Vale survive.

By and by the kingdom of Vale was conquered by a Lord named Bink. Vale had borrowed much money from Lord Bink to do battle and had lost. Vale had to surrender to Bink and Bink took everything in Vale’s kingdom.

Much later Green, angry over the money that Bink had captured when conquering Vale that was not paid back to Green, decided that the support Vale had been giving to Manx was a conspiracy to do evil. Green went to Bink and said, “did you know that Vale was growing cucumbers on Manx’s land?” OOOOOO! Evildoers. There’s money in here somewhere Green said to Bink, “I’ll split it with you.” Besides, I have a secret weapon, “Sneaky Servant will testify and prove the evildoing” So Bink and Green decided to appeal to the grand Poo Bah and ask the grand Poo Bah to punish the deposed king of Vale for the evil of supporting a small fiefdom even though he had lost his head to Bink and was dead. “Dig em up” they said. Maybe he has a ring or something we can capture from the corpse.

The Poo Bah spent 2 full days listening to Green rant and rave about the evil dead king. Green kept insisting that the support and help Vale had been to Manx was wrong. Bink said to the grand Poo Bah that if he were to decide that Manx should have paid Vale back for the support from Vale when Bink conquered Vale that Bink was due the refund (which would be split).

The humble defense poor Manx could offer was shouted down by his accusers.

The king of Vale was still dead.

Sneaky Servant was just as sneaky and didn’t help anyone except himself.

The grand Poo Bah consulted all the stars in the heavens and pronounced that the king of Vale was still dead. No purpose would be served in digging him back up. Poo Bah decided that Manx should pay Bink and Green for the cucumber seeds Vale had given him. The fact that Vale owed Manx for Cukes when conquered by Binx was of no account to the Poo Bah. The fact that the arrangement was one of honest accommodation born of grace and trust made no difference. Everyone lost.

That is the essence of the justice I experienced in the last week. Thought you would want to know. The best thing to do ever is never go to court. Everyone loses.

Friday, April 22, 2005

I'm on a Rock and Roll Here - End of the World in Sight

A couple posts below this one I make note of Malachy's prediction of the end. Then I stumble upon this piece of information. A large rock is headed directly (astronomically speaking) for earth to hit on April 13, 2029 (a Friday the 13th).

I immediately thought of the predictions in the Bible (Revelations) about a meteor called wormwood hitting the earth. Thinking I was on to something I was chagrined to see someone else had beat me to the punch.

I did the math however. Lets suppose that Pope Benedict lives for 7 more years. That makes him 85 upon departing earth. Lets suppose that the next (Last) Pope is in place for at least 17 years (JP THE GREAT WAS 26 Years). That means that in 2029 we could well have the last Pope in place when the asteroid hits.

Do I think any of this will happen? Last Pope? Asteroid? I don't know. I will live my life and try to do all I can to help people be ready if or if not.

I did hear this one piece of information. If this big Rock hit for instance TEXAS it would flatten the whole state. This is a BIG ROCK.

It sort of puts into perspective lots of the arguments, politics, and petty frustrations we live with. In view of a 2029 end of the world if it should happen, How then should we live?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

A friend of Mine looks into his crystal ball

A J Skurdahl is a college freind of mine. He has offered his view of the future. He's an investment guy. I find his view a little dark but certainly worth reading. I love future stuff. When there's only bad news Jesus is all you will have left., That's bad news for those who don't believe and really good news for those who do believe, because Jesus is all you need. Gene

What Lies Ahead Economically? (January 2005)

Life-altering economic events happen rarely. One should approach with caution a proposition that such an event is eminent. Nonetheless, several major traumas of global impact are possible during the next few decades. Successful investment management through any of these possibilities will require careful portfolio design and investment selection. Attentive, ongoing investment management that seriously considers the possibility of calamity before the end of the decade is now crucial. Currently foreseeable traumas include:

1. An Energy Crunch. The world’s supply of oil is being used up.1, 2 Oil extraction in the U.S. peaked in the 1970s, and global extraction will peak soon, perhaps as early as 2005. Demand for oil, however, continues to rise. There is no easy resolution to the conflict between rising demand and falling supply. Sometime later this century we will run entirely out of oil, but the impact of dwindling supplies will be felt soon. The one bit of good news is that oil and gas may run out before global warming/cooling becomes an issue.3

2. Pension Plans Without Enough Money. Underfunded corporate pension plans4 threaten both profitability of corporations and retirement incomes of current workers. Underfunded government pension plans5, 6 threaten the credit ratings of local and state governments, pocketbooks of taxpayers who will make up the shortfalls and incomes of future retirees. As with any financial prediction, the extent of underfunding depends upon assumptions brought to the analysis. As the problem unfolds, however, assumptions will be tested against reality and the outcomes are likely to be very unpleasant.

3. The End of Growth. The history of global growth is ending, but birthrates and life expectancies combine to create different futures for different parts of the globe. The low birthrates of Europe, Japan, and Russia mean they will be the first to experience the shift from growth to no-growth economics. Life expectancy in Russia is low and falling, so problems will be obvious there sooner. Undeveloped nations in Africa and elsewhere have high birthrates with low life expectancy. Realizing the human potential of these societies remains a major challenge. China and the United States are perhaps the only bright spots, but with high life expectancy and low birth rates, both face challenges in providing social support to the young and elderly as the working population slips in proportion. The only model we have for a no growth economy is “pre-economic”: hunter-gatherer societies and subsistence farming.

4. Unfunded Entitlements. Because of the investment choices for the Social Security “trust fund,” Social Security is basically an unfunded retirement plan. The trust fund has been loaned to and spent by the government, leaving taxpayers “on the hook.” Originally intended as a safety net, Social Security will likely become increasingly frayed over coming decades. Every five to ten years it will become a political “hot potato” as the rolling 75 year forward projection predicts a growing gap between tax income and payment obligation for the government. Medicare and Medicaid share the funding issues of Social Security, except that medical costs have been escalating even faster than general inflation.

5. Global Warming. While the specific causes still bring some debate, the simple fact of global warming is now established. Erratic, volatile weather and melting icecaps with rising sea levels are two apparent symptoms/results. As environmental changes play out over coming decades, economic impacts will be challenging.

6. Terrorism. Sir John Templeton’s well known quote that the best time to buy is “when there is blood in the streets” may unfortunately become literally true. Whether you think of it as World War IV, Twentieth Century Warfare, or simply terrorism, the sad fact is that the modern world is learning to function in the midst of bloodshed. Countries such as Israel have demonstrated the possibility of building a viable social and economic structure in the face of ongoing terrorist attacks, but widespread use of terror globally portends difficult times ahead.

This is a sad list of unpleasant future possibilities. Other than the combination of events that combined to create the Great Depression, no other modern era has held such potential for unhappy outcomes. Successfully managing one’s money and investments through the upcoming decades will require concentration, skill and good fortune. The help of a professional who understands one’s personal goals and style as well as external factors will be prudent.

Senior Financial Advisors, Inc.
Financial Network Investment Corporation
11911 NE 1st Suite 312
Bellevue, Washington 98005
(206) 525-2524

Securities offered through Financial Network Investment Corporation, a registered broker/dealer and member SIPC. Financial Network and Senior Financial Advisors, Inc. are not affiliated companies.

1Out of Gas; Goodstein, David; Norton, 2004

Pope Points

The universal church has a pope. This has been really good publicity for my Catholic friends. I hope for good things from this man. I will believe the Holy Spirit will give him supernatural ability, wisdom and leadership quality for as long as God allows him to stand in this place. I would wish this for any person in spiritual leadership.

I have a weird side. I enjoy hearing about the strange and unusual. When I can’t sleep I have listened to Art Bell and now listen less since George Norry took over on Coast to Coast. The corporate theological platform of this program is conservative Christian Wiccan Ghost Hunting. Who knows. It’s a mess. You need to be pretty spiritually centered to sort it out.

But I have heard things which make me go HMMMMM. One such are St Malachy’s predictions of the names of all the Popes (not exactly name but name indicators) to the last pope. According to him we have one pope left after this one. This priest named Father Malachy around the year 1000 made these predictions. Hal Linsey of Late Great Planet Earth fame wrote a piece on this right after Pope John Paul II died. Before Pope Benedict XVI was elected. This will make you go HMMMMM.

I have studied up on this and have made these conclusions:
  1. If the names of the popes Malachy predicted are right to date I see some credibility
  2. If this Pope is next to the last Pope before Jesus returns, or the end of the age or the dissolution of the Catholic Church or something we need to be aware.
  3. If these predictions are accurate Jesus is coming soon. Real Soon.

I think it’s worth thinking about. I searched Google on all this and read all I could find. It was fun, thought provoking and just a little sobering.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Roaring Trip to der Heimat

1375 miles. That’s what I drove in the last 3 days. I won’t kid you. It’s not near as much fun as it used to be (if it ever was). But, it was good to see the relations, hug the aunts, cousins, and others again. We said final goodbye to my Uncle John. Of all my mothers brothers and sisters there’s only ONE left. Tom,. Namesake for his father Tom who married Borghild not so long after she got off the boat from Norway. I confess, I am not full blooded German. I’m what we call a Dakota multicultural. A half breed. German and Norwegian. Oof-da Ja-whol!

A few memorables:

I slept at the Redlin Lodge near Summit SD located on the land my dad owned 60 years ago. I slept therefore on the very spot I had slept on when my folks had a place in the back of the store. I slept on that ground for the first time in 59 years. Very cool. No Really, in the morning it was very cool. I woke up about 6AM. Stepped outside and was deafened by the silence. Then an occasional pheasant crow. A turkey Gobbled. Living in urban America the quiet is, well, disquieting.

I saw Turkeys running around. Coyotes. On one piece of CRP land hunters took 113 coyotes this winter. They are really getting to be a pest.

And, mountain lions. People see them walk across the backyard all the time. Looking for chicken or a kitty cat for breakfast. There’s already all kinds of yore on how to avoid being eaten by one. Don’t run, face it down, try to scare it off, throw a rock at it, cougars are cowards, they only attack if you are afraid. I’ll remember all that I’m sure next time I’m face to face with one.

My uncle Johns ashes were planted after the funeral. I mean planted. The family took two pickup trucks, and old John Deere Tractor and a field cultivator in tow and then making a big round in the back 80 scattered his ashes in the field and tilled them under. I think if you knew John he would have approved.

I missed the tillage. I couldn’t find the place. Of course being of male persuasion I did not ask directions until I became desperate. But I made it eventually. Counties in South Dakota are very large and open and lots of roads go long ways. I traveled most of them.

All my uncles and aunts are getting older. The decision tree is deciding which funerals to attend. We can’t attend them all. The trip is too much of a killer.

If my mom had lived she would be 80 this year. I remember her at 35, the age she was at the accident. I think that’s a gift.

One last thing. The singing at the funeral. All my Lee kin launched in to full voice. Frankly, the musical giftings don’t come so much from the Redlin side of the family as the Lee. It’s a pleasure to hear the continued talent rise up from this group of gifted singers and players.

I’m glad to be home. Back to the battle.

Could I go back? I don’t know. I may never know. The mystery of place is without solutions.