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Mulling on the Baltic

Cruising is good for investing and mulling. Nothing moves quickly — neither the ship, nor the Internet. And American markets are seven hours distant. Hence you can’t make any fast decisions.

But I read and watch. The first two days of this week were great for tech stocks. Then it all fell apart yesterday. Who knows why? Turkey? Nah. Trump? Nah. The economy.? Nah. Omarosa? Nah. Here’s the last five days of Nasdaq. Just volatility.


I actually wish we could have more cratering. Some of my real estate syndications cashed out recently. I have extra cash. I’d like to buy more of my favorite stocks — Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Adobe, and Google. But they’re pricey.

Four investment trends I’ve noticed on this trip — I’ve been in Germany, Austria and Italy:

+ The world is in a construction boom. Yellow and orange cranes dominate every skyline.

+ Tourism is the biggest or second biggest business in most places. Every port is building terminals for cruise boats. Build them and they will come. As we did yesterday to an obscure (and boring) place in northern Germany called Warnemund, which is near Roskof, equally boring. Celebrity Lines had a huge one in also.

+ No tourist sight is worth looking at — unless it’s through the lens of an Apple iPhone. Apple’s ubiquity is amazing. In many places the iPhone Hotspot is technically better (and faster) than the local WiFi.

+ The Internet of Things plus the Cloud plus large electronic screens are our future. The Venice Airport assigns checkin counters by time and identifies them by a huge LED screen behind them. Their best technology was bag checkin. All the airlines on one screen in one machine. Does any U.S. Airport have one?

SelfCheckinMachine CheckInTermainal

The Cloud, computers, software, smartphones.. This is where you get scaleability from. That’s what we’re looking for.

In contrast I don’t like investments I can cheaply make or secure — like gold, oil, food and, of course, marijuana, which is now predictably in great oversupply. Nare a day goes by without a PR person offering me a dope expert who’ll tell me what we’re going to with all the marijuana. I’m not smoking it. Who is?

Of all my travels, my favorite place remains Venice. A learned historian wrote than a 15th century taveller returning to Venice would feel comfortable today. Cars, highways, railroad, tramcars, and stop lights haven’t messed Venice up. In Venice you walk or boat. That’s it. Walk or boat. That’s nice and romantic — if you can put you iPhone down and put your arm around your better half. It’ll cost you over $100 an hour. But, heh, Gondolas cost 42,000 euros. And they’re only for the tourists. The gondoliers don’t sing. But you can hire a singer (like in the movies or Vegas). The singers cost extra and belong to a different union.

Go to Venice in October, not in summer when it’s hot and there are far too many iPhone-touting tourists.

Venice was close to a democracy. They had a president (called a doge) but “nobles” reigned in his corruption. Venice didn’t like wars — not good for the business of being merchants, which they were. They were really good at it. They spent their gains on art and houses — one of which on the Grand Canal recently sold for $52 million. Our guide told us that “everything” was for sale in Venice, including this gigantic billboard which is the first thing you see as you boat in. Max Mara got it for donating restoration money to the church.


Venice was tight on crime. They had truly horrible jails. You can visit them. The Doge had one. The last view of freedom for many criminals was through the windows on the Bridge of Sighs. Hence its name. Venice especially didn’t like pedophiles, counterfeiters and spies.

Travel tips

+ You can travel in a 25-inch roll-on and carry it on. Saves waiting around at baggage claim.

+ The more travel adapters and chargers you have the better. Try at least six. You, or your spouse or your kids will use them.

+ Polyester clothes are useful. They wash fast. They dry fast. I find them hot. I prefer cotton, but cotton takes eons to dry.

+ Get money out of ATMs with your debit card. Much cheaper than using a credit card.

+ Cruising is seriously relaxing. As I write this, we are steaming across the Baltic. We’re moving slowly. The sea is calm. You’d never know we were at sea. There are no whales, no porpoises, no mermaids and no platypuses. (There are also no kangaroos in Austria.) No one ever starved on a cruise.

+ Always use Internet Explorer for connecting initially to WiFi. Hotspots like IE, but not Chrome or Firefox.

No jokes today.

Harry Newton, who is writing this blog in the middle of Baltic using the ultra-slow WiFi on our Regent cruise line. But, heh, it’s working.