Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lost and Found

The older you get, you might find that the term “treasure” takes on an entirely new meaning. When you were younger you probably remember going grocery shopping with that favorite relative and longed for that candy bar or box of cereal with a prize inside. At that point you found yourself begging and pleading, all the while knowing that the fate of obtaining the treasure was in someone else’s hand.

Unfortunately, even if the outcome was positive the thrill became short lived and soon another apple of your eye would take focus. We were once again off on another search. You might see the pattern here and recognize that your life has continued on that same general path which was learned early on.

When you find yourself a little older and some may say wiser, you might choose to decide it is prudent to take a little breather from the physical hunt for stuff. After all it is and can be quite tiring. In times like these you often take an introspective look at not only yourself and what your future holds but it is hard not to glace at your past as well.

A common way some are looking into this window is through the phenomenon known as Facebook. For the present generation this is a communication tool to instantly share a thought or a feeling. For the people of past generations it is a way of finding people that they lost through the passage of time and some how wish to reconnect.

The younger generation of today snickers a little when they are told that the older generation, to communicate, would often write a letter and mail it, which is called snail mail because it is considered so slow. Yet the same electronic version minus the paper is considered, somehow new and improved. Alas, because of technology we have texting, private messaging and tweeting! Is this really a true improvement to communication or a way of avoidance?

While it is hard to know what the future holds, it appears we are getting more impersonal. Call me old fashion but I for one am not convinced that “social media” is not all that it claims to be. I’m totally convinced that if you wanted to you could spend practically your entire life online! Your rush to connect electronically can sometimes and I would say often does ultimately mean your disconnection from everyday society and real people.

Through technology it is claimed that the world is smaller because we can talk to and communicate instantly to practically anyone, anywhere. Yet, I would contend, that we are more isolated now than in any other time in history.

So, who is really lost in the world today? Do we have the ability to find them? I’m not talking about needing a global positioning system either. My question is: have we missed the point of the real treasure in our lives? Are we searching in the right place? Are we using the right tools?

In the end only you can determine if you have the answer to this puzzle. It’s my hope, however, that you will choose wisely and be the one that is found not ultimately lost!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rock, Paper and Precious Metals

Without sounding like a commercial it is hard not to notice all the uncertainty around the world. Yet people still look to the United States for stability.

At the moment we have been giving the license to print unlimited amounts of money, but obviously the game is rigged and at some point a collapse and reset has to happen. I'm sure the blame will be placed at our feet soon enough. Regardless of what some political figures think you can't borrow money and spend your way into prosperity nor can you do it by taxing all who you think are rich so you can redistribute the wealth. Winston Churchill hit the nail on the head when he said: "We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle."

Quantitative easing(QE)version 3 in on its way as Uncle Ben is cranking the handle on the jack-in-the-box. We all know it will eventually pop out of the box and I'm sure, scare the hell out of most people who will be watching it happen. Sadly most people won't care or even bother to notice.

Likewise, the Federal Reserve has no other option they are willing to try. To use a dairy analogy, the Federal Reserve is trying to create a constant flow of milk, no matter how many cows they kill! Instead of the natural process they are genetically manipulating the system through artificially insemination. All the while we are told that everything is normal, we are in a recovery. The tit has been milked borrowing more money, bailing out all the banks as well as everyone else that needs it. It's all part of the process, they say, just relax. It is for the greater good you know! Remember just pass the bill and then read the contents later, trust and never verify. Have a little hope, come on lighten up!

Then you hear Berkshire Hathway's Vice Chairman Charles Munger make a comment saying: "Gold is a great thing to sew into your garments if you're a Jewish family in Vienna in 1939," the Berkshire vice chairman said, but I think civilized people don't buy gold, they invest in productive businesses." Now obviously I understand what the man is saying, he wants to see a productive asset. There is nothing wrong with that. Yet, it helps to be reminded that when you have billions to play with you can afford to make a lot of mistakes and still recover.

With all due respect, however, in this torrential rainstorm we call the US economy I for one at least favor a nice sturdy umbrella of gold and silver versus a bushel basket of paper or electronic entries. I'd rather sit and let the storm blow over or at least know at the very least which way the wind is blowing before venturing out. It appears a lot more people feel the same way as I do as well.

There are certain things in life as you grow older you remember and reflect on. Some people might say you become more jaded. Others might say, with age, comes wisdom. Regardless, you have to apply what you have learned in order for it to be of any use.

Pondering aloud, it's amazing how millions of dollars are spent annually trying to evoke a feeling or thought! Think about that it for a second by what you smell. Perfume is just one example; who really thought it was a bright idea to come up with the term toilet water? Oh, excuse me, I mean Eau de toilette, that sounds much more sophisticated doesn't it. What about when you go to someone's house and you smell potpourri in the air; doesn't that just bother you a little and make you wonder what they are trying to hide?

It is like reading the labels on the back of the can or box of stuff you just ate. You really don't want to know what is in it do you?

Crap by any other name is just that my friends, crap, it doesn't matter what it smells like we all know what end of the horse it came out of, so stop pretending.

Finally, if you are looking for market stability in our economy stop comparing the midgets in the room and step into the real world and open your eyes for a moment.

Oh yea, and watch where you step!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Collecting Memories Rather Than Stuff

If you wander around on the web long enough you might stumble on several blogs or websites of people that have, with great exuberance, declared that they plan on selling everything they own and travel the world!

Some of these people are single, some are married with kids. Regardless they all feel the need to leave what appears to be a normal life with family, friends and having a steady job to seek something different. Few appear to be able to define exactly what they are looking for by doing all this.

However, the best answer so far is that people want to collect memories versus stuff. Likewise people want to break out of the cookie cutter mold of normal life because for them it is just too boring and they feel as if they are missing something or are somehow trapped.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with traveling and yes some people have made a career out of doing this, it begs the question, is there no place like home? Simply put if you’re not happy now, you take yourself with you wherever you go, so changing physical locations might not be the real answer. How many happy nomads do you really know?

Experiences versus Stuff In the United States we have created a billion dollar industry by way of self storage units where we store our stuff that we no longer can fit at our residence but are too attached to throw away. Yet, we all gasp when we watch the T.V. show “Hoarders” and shake our heads and ask each other: How can people live like this? While at the same time fail to see all the mess we have created around ourselves in our own lives.

I totally understand the need to disconnect from gathering more stuff. However, it is harder for me to connect with the need to travel the world. I guess the United States is just not big enough and it does not sound as exciting to say you are going to travel all over the United States. So, I guess people want the whole enchilada by exclaiming that they want to see the world and experience different cultures.

However, I can tell you a little secret, there are plenty of different cultures right here in the U.S. that would take years to discover, but that is another story! If we can for a moment let’s look at the reality of this “want” that people are expressing and understand this is a “want” not a “need!”

First and foremost I’m not saying this is a bad idea nor am I making a judgment call on the people who are doing this. I just simply want to focus on the reality of the situation.

Most folks doing this don’t have the passive income to sustain themselves long term. I’m guessing reality must hit hard and fast living on the cheap even if you are totally used to living on the cheap! Living from motel to motel or hostel to hostel can be interesting but there is a reason no one really lives there!

How many times have you heard the phrase: It's not the destination, but the journey that is important! Unfortunately there are no perfect places on earth, because someone every where you are going is always thinking there is somewhere better than where they are right now.

Our reality has been photo shopped to make us think what we have, where we are and how we live is substandard. In reality, we are the richest and most free people the world has ever known yet we are too self absorbed to see this. We don’t know how to wake up and smell the coffee because we are too busy looking for the things we don’t have to recognize the things we actually do possess.

Friends if you want to travel the world and see reality for what it really is, first look in the mirror. When you can be totally happy with what you see in your reflection then you might find you no longer have to pack.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Cats Are On Prozac!

I’m not sure what this exactly says about my parenting skills or if this is a reflection of my wife and myself or just society in general. I am thinking we have lost our minds or maybe our cats did a long time ago.

Our three cats were all rescued from the local animal shelter. The mother cat is Snickers, and her two kittens are Midnight and Smokey. All the cats are older now and have been inside cats but are allowed to visit a screened porch and watch the birds and squirrels eat from a nearby bird feeder. Every morning they rise and demand to be fed promptly and are offered an extra “treat” pill pocket that contains their daily dose which is a 10mg Prozac tablet that is cut into quarters. They each receive one quarter that takes the edge off their day so that are less aggressive and less neurotic licking and biting.

When the vet wrote the prescription we filled it at the local Walgreens and my wife signed them up for their Prescription Savings Club which cost us twenty dollars. I wish I was joking when I say this but it is the absolute truth! Using the card the prescription is $12 versus over $50!

I am beside myself knowing that while I love our cats and they are part of our family it has come to this and somehow this is all part of normal everyday life as we know it.

Any moment I am waiting to hear the music and be told that I have entered the twilight zone. Normal for some reason does not feel normal anymore!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


The average person is clueless to how rigged the system is and how it operates. We are all told that investing in the stock market is the best way to grow earnings and help save for your future. We are lead to believe that government officials are working hard to solve the problems. Really?

How can anyone feel comfortable investing when it appears that the real truth is hidden. The game now revolves around who can build the faster gadget to manipulate the outcomes the most not what is a good investment. Catching The "Silver Crusher" Algorithm In The Act http://www.zerohedge.com/news/catching-silver-crusher-algorithm-act This is not the free market system, this is a sham to benefit the few. This has the potential to wipe out the average investor with a few keystrokes and a shrug of the shoulders.

You can forget the government regulators stepping in to solve the problem because they are so deep into it themselves they can't stop it. For more proof do your own research online and type in the words "Plunge Protection Team" and see what you find. Sure some think this team is just monitoring the market and I'm sure sure they are. It is just like the government is monitoring GM or monitoring all the student loans or most of the home mortgages. Right, nothing to see, move along!

Who in their right mind thinks the dollar is strong? Compared to all the world’s currencies we might be the tallest midget in the room but we are still a midget! Stop gulping the kool-aid!

According to a recent Gallup poll 41% of Americans think the economy is getting better. Another way of saying this is 59% of Americans realize the truth. Things are not getting better, but worse!

The government is trying hard to get the media to spin the numbers they make up in desperation to boost confidence. Yet, when you pull up at the gas pump all that evaporates. It is like sitting at the dinner table with your grandmother passing gas and acting like it was the cat's fault. Granted, some people are slow to understand and others are just plain stupid which obviously can't be fixed. But ugly is still ugly!

So, what will be the solution? As sad as this is going to sound, it will have to get much worse before things can get better.

Someone will have to "take the can" away that has been constantly kicked down the road. When this happens "ugly" will have a whole new meaning. Until then, we will have to put up with the puffs of smoke and illusions telling us how good things are becoming.

The next time you are in an airplane, remove the bag in the seat back pocket, place a stamp on it and mail it to your Congressman to let him or her know how you feel. At a 12% approval rating they need to feel all the love they can.

If you ever wonder what your congressman is doing after they get elected here is one interview that you need to see that finally tells the truth: Bill Moyers Interview with Fritz Hollings - Telling the Truth About What Our Representatives Spend All Their Time Doing': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJv9t80pufc

So now you know a little piece of the truth of why things are so screwed up. Ugly is just that, ugly and looking the other way won’t change things one bit.

I'd like to think that knowledge is power, but even now I'm not sure that is true anymore!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

~ A Career Change ~

On a recent vacation with a friend I stopped by a food court for some take out Chinese food and found myself eagerly cracking open a fortune cookie. The fortune read: You will be successful in your career! I had to chuckle and smile while saying to myself... Now I just have to find a career!

For the last fourteen years I have spent helping people and nonprofit organizations free via my website. After much soul searching I knew it was time to sell the site to a buyer who was interested in preserving the last fourteen years of my work but also saw the value in what it represented. Fortunately this has occurred and soon the keys to the site will be turned over to the new owners.

With that closure brings a new beginning. Yet it is undeniable that part of my DNA will forever be focused on helping people in some way shape or form. Why this is so important and part of my make up is a hard question to honestly dissect. However, I do try consciously to act not just from my heart but from my head as well. It is so easy to fall into a pattern of being drawn into emotional appeals. However, in the world of giving one size does not fit all.

All individuals have varied experiences we bring to the table and life lessons we were taught as a child. Some of these have stuck with us today and many more have drifted into oblivion. So, is there truly a natural instinct to help? Studies on compassion and benevolence suggest so saying this is part of the evolution of human nature in seeking the greater good.

Yet one has to ponder if this is truly part of the human experience why have things gone so awry?

I for one believe that giving is mostly a learned experience. Sure your parents can try to express the goodness of why you should give but when it comes down to it, it is an individual decision and a choice one makes.

In the current environment we live in today there is ample opportunity to give and help others. Yet, there are equally as many different obstacles and excuses we purposely place in out path to push aside that part of our humanity to reach out and help another.

In my opinion the number one killer of the natural act of giving is economic uncertainty closely followed by crime and violence.

Simply put, if you don't feel safe and secure yourself you are less likely to help someone else. On television I keep seeing the statistic that 48% of Americans believe that the United States is on the verge of a major economic collapse! That in and of itself is a big deal. The media for the past three or four years has tried its best to convince people that economic recovery is occurring now. Oh Really?

The sad part of all this is that "credibility" appears to be at an all time low. Who can you trust? Ten years ago people would have looked at you sideways if you said: Trust but verify!

My mind can't help but drift back into time hearing the famous Kojack saying: "Who loves ya, baby?" Who indeed!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

“Being Prepared”

I have literally written down my thoughts and then clicked and not saved it several times now on the subject of “Being Prepared” and the reasons why this is so important.

I’m honestly not sure why I have chosen in the past not to save what I wrote. It is not because I did not think it was well written or that enough thought had not gone into what I was trying to say.

No, the reason was I felt uncomfortable because the subject itself for me seems stress filled and full of hypothetical situations where if you are honest with yourself they are no perfect answers.

Being prepared itself is not the problem but trying to determine what you are preparing for and to what extent is a critical issue!

If you spend anytime at all on the internet and go the route of looking on various survival sites you quickly can become overwhelmed by the degree of doom and gloom that is presented. Let’s see, some of the topics are: total economic collapse, no food, no water and protecting yourself from the ever present band of lawless thugs rioting and looting every house on your street. Oh, yea and solar flares, and I guess it is worth mentioning the 2012 end of the world according to the Mayan Calendar.

So with all this said it is no wonder why the vast majority of people have the tendency to throw their hands in the air and shrug their shoulders and give up before even starting.

Do I worry about not having power or water or sewer services? No I do not. Any disruption in services typically happens after a natural disaster and is short lived in nature. When this happens can you be uncomfortable, but it is not unbearable. Obviously the longer the duration the more frustrating it becomes but again it is not something that causes the fabric of society to come apart at the seams! I realize some may point to what happened in New Orleans and beg to differ with me. To that I would say that I agree; chaos can occur anywhere and anytime but after the dust settles society as a whole finds what is normal fairly quickly.

In the US we have had economic disasters with the stock market crashing and people losing lots of their wealth. People, however, did not go out and try to overthrow the government and somehow the population survived to the next generation and the next.

Are the threats we face real today? You beat yah! Will we likely see a huge amount of change within the next few years? We always have because that is the natural progression of things. Change is constant.

The most important part of all this hearing a line from Rudyard Kipling which reminded us: “Keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.”

Take heart in knowing that change is inevitable. Also note that how you react to change is entirely within your control!