Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Technology Investor. Harry Newton
AM EDT, Friday, August 28, 2009: Get your head out of depressing
economic stats. Get your head out of ultra-depressing blogs. Turn off Doctor
Doom. Don't fret over what idiocy Washington will do next. Visit the real world
of real people. You'll discover Americans are actually happy and having fun
traveling the west on motorcycles.
It's 80 here in
Colorado. Skies are dark blue. The few clouds have serious character. The big
danger here is not the crumbling dollar, is not the ballooning
deficit, or the accelerating housing foreclosures. It's sunburn. Out here in
the Rockies, sunburn is brutal.
This is Scott
Galles. He runs Galles Filter Service in Billings, Montana. Because of the recession,
his business is down 15% to 20%. He fired one employee. Bingo, the others worked
harder, seemingly more appreciative of having a job. The recession is actually
turning out well for him. With, finally some breathing room, he got his inventory
down and under control. He's running his business more efficiently. And most
importantly, he's had time to go riding this summer. This is him with his Honda
His Gold Wing
has a six cylinder engine, a reverse (which you need because it weighs 800 lbs),
heated grips, heated seat, heated passenger backrest, and foot-level warm-air
ducts, a full GPS,
and far more communications
than my wife's Mercedes,
I've never seen on a motorcycle -- a cupholder. Scott swears the cupholder hasn't
prefer Harley Davidsons to Hondas. Sometimes the wife rides on the back.
she has her own bike. This couple teach skiing in the winter and ride Harleys
during the summer. Nice life.. Hers is the baby blue one on the right -- the
one with the leather tassels (is that what they're called?) on the handlebars.
He has mirrors under his handlebars, because they're so tall. Remember the movie
The moral here
is clearly: Get a job you enjoy and you'll never have to work again.
Speaking of jobs
you enjoy, this is Amanda's Salon and Spa on the main road into Leadville, Colorado,
the highest town in the country.
I tried to meet
Amanda. But this was the daunting sign on her front door:
is everything. Once upon a time Leadville boomed. Then the mines
died and the town died. Now the town is booming again. One weekend in the summer,
they have the Leadville 100 Bicycle Race (which this year attracted Lance Armstrong)
and on another weekend, the Leadville Trail 100 mile foot face (which got huge
press in Born to Run, the book I've been raving about.)
town is now doing so well it provides free Wi-Fi Internet service on its main
street. . I sent Greetings from America's Highest Town emails to all
is everything -- part 2: On Main Street, Leadville,
there's a store that sells neat fleece clothing. Here's a sample:
The store is called
Melanzana. The front of the big airy store has the fleecy stuff for sale. The
back, in full view, has the factory: No, it's not in China. They make real clothes
in Leadville, Colorado with real American workers.
They only sell their wares in two places -- from this store in Leadville,
and from their
web site, www.Melanzana.com. Neat marketing.
Please buy something. It's good stuff.
is everything -- part 3. Leadville is very
historic. Main Street (really called Harrison Avenue or Highway 34) is loaded
with stores selling olde-world stuff, including new clothing made in the style
of the 1890s. Walk into one place and you'll find this charming sign:
west is obsessed with real estate. Or maybe it's just me? I pick
up all the color, glossy penny savers for billion dollar houses. Nancy Burniche,
according to her ad in Mountain Homes Illustrated, is a "Certified
Luxury Home Marketing Specialist." I don't make this stuff up.
It's on page 87. Her web site features this photo:
The first home
she's pitching on page 87 is this one
Nancy tells me
the house is 4,700 square feet and is priced at $4.5 million. If you're interested,
there are a zillion beautiful photos of the house on the web.
It's worth flipping through the presentation. Most pricey homes in this area
are sold with the furniture.
As houses go,
this one is pretty puny. Beaver Creek, Vail, Aspen and Bachelor Gulch have oodles
of houses from 8,000 to 10,000 square feet with prices topping $20 million.
build these gigantic 6, 7 and 8 bedroom family homes tell me business slowed
down in the past year or so, but has begun to pick up.
The day I visited
it had 30 people
working. Think Colorado Full Employment Act. It was an existing
house on which just over $5 million is being spent in a "gut renovation"
-- that's about the most you can spend on a house this size , according to the
contractor. The best room in the house was up in the turret. It had the best
views. Well, they once were. But the owner's wife is afraid of heights and removed
the $50,000 spiral metal staircase to the turret. You now can't get there. It's
just one big hole.
Instead of a great
view, the turret room will now feature a great chandelier which people from
afar will be able to see.
Yours truly was
gauche enough to ask, "How will you change a lightbulb?"
Answer: The owner
installed a $1,000 motor. Push a button and the chandelier will descend to ground
Imagine what God
could do, if only He had the money.
Science Exam. Once again proving they're far smarter than we are.
Q: Name the four
A: Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.
Q: How is dew
A: The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire.
Q: How can you
delay milk turning sour?
A: Keep it in the cow.
Q: What are steroids?
A: Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs.
Q: What happens
to your body as you age?
A: When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental
Q: What happens
to a boy when he reaches puberty?
A: He says good-bye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery. (The kid
gets an A+ for this answer!)
Q: Name a major
disease associated with cigarettes.
A: Premature death.
Q: What is the
A: A small lie.
Q: What is a 'Caesarian
A: The Caesarian Section is a district in Rome.
Q: What does the
word 'benign' mean?'
A: Benign means I'll be home after eight.
This column is about my personal search for the perfect
investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered
with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor.
I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three
reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column
is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect
Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas,
concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address
is . You can't
click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software
scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing
the Google ads on this site. Thus I cannot endorse, though some look interesting.
If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting
you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Michael's business school
tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click
here and here.