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Huge opportunities in mismanagement

I’m in  retail stores with big signs, “NO mask. No service.”

There are shoppers not wearing masks.

I say to them, “You really should be wearing your mask. You’re endangering my life. You’re endangering your own life.”

They ignore me.

I ask the store manager, “So?”

He says, “If I say something, they ignore me or make a fuss. I can call the police. But the police won’t arrest them.”

Normally my July 4 blogs are full of optimism and why it’s wonderful to celebrate a country with so many fantastic opportunities — a tiny percentage I’ve taken advantage of.

But this July 4 is different. We’re in the middle of an economic crisis we are handling uncharacteristically badly.

It’s called a raging pandemic.

Without a vaccine and without a cure, lockdowns, wearing a mask and staying six foot apart are our best weapons. Yet “management” at all levels is botched.

I understand the motivation. The election is four months away. Many jobless are not good for making or keeping America great. Hence the need to ignore the pandemic and rush to open the economy. Get all those voters back to work happy. Be damned, the risk to their lives,

Save lives or be re-relected? The priorities are clear.

Presidental speeches around July 4 traditionally stress shared values in one independent nation, as in the Declaration of Independence.

In his speech at Mount Rushmore yesterday, Trump cast himself as waging battle against a “new far-left fascism” that imperils American values and seeks to erase history, to quote the New York Times.

That’s we’ll hear more in coming months — not fixing the pandemic but attacking the “far-left fascism,” whatever it is.

We’re sitting with around 15 million people unemployed, Joel Ross estimates that of closed businesses, 26% of gyms are gone, 53% of restaurants that closed, and 35% of retailers that closed are gone.

But the stockmarket has boomed.

And, most magnificently, no other period of American history has compressed so much innovation into so little time — the four months since the pandemic began.

The work-at-home movement, for one, created Zoom Video and a explosion of cloud computer services that are truly mind-blowing. Look at the long list of new, exploding stocks in our portfolio — click here. In short, huge opportunities in technology.

But also opportunities in the re-purposing of discarded, distressed assets — from hotels to retail stores. There’s an explosion in demand for warehouses.

Underpinning it all are two factors — First, the uncertainty (the virus, the fed response, if any, etc) and second the $5 trillion of loose money sloshing around looking for a home. That money has buoyed the stock market. It has buoyed the value of optimized real estate — buildings, residences, warehouses, fully occupied and fully up to date with rent payments.

There’ll be fortunes made in coming months by correctly guessing the trends and betting on them. For example, our banks have failed to provide their clients with cash enticing investment opportunities.

Cheap office buildings? I believe most people will go back to work. Unless you’re a stock analyst, a writer, or music composer, there’s no way you’ll achieve, on Zoom, what you can by popping into the next office and discussing your latest brilliance.

I look at web sites of companies desperately trying to move on-line. The sites are desperately in need of major repair. Huge opportunities.

A friend emailed me “I went to all cash in March thinking Trump would lose. Now what?

Now what? Here’s a chart he sent along:

I’m still fully invested in the stockmarket — except for a year of cash for living.

I have also bought more stock in recent days — but in technology and away from areas I’ve mentioned a million times — like energy, banks, REITs, etc.

Years ago, my favorite sentence was “What the world needs now…”

There are still millions of thing to sell the world.

I’m supremely optimistic. Look at my list of stocks.

These two grandkids are visiting this weekend.

Zoe, left, and Sophie.

I’ll drive them to this charming tourist attraction and ask them “How many people in this cemetery are dead?

If they get the answer correct — “all of them” — we drive to Dairy Queen for ice cream.

What the mice wrought

Also called the joys of living the country:

All our central air conditioning units have outside “chillers” and inside air handlers.

We have three chillers. The chillers are favorite nesting spots for mice. Here’s one of three nests we found.

Our hungry baby mice chew the electrical wires which kills the chillers (but sadly, not the mice).

We vacuum out the nest, reconnect the wires and we’re good for another summer — until the little critters arrive again.

I recently found a mice nest in my Subaru Outback. The nest had three babies. Friends wonder why I drive around with mousetraps in the back of my Outback. Now they know. They work.

This is charming

Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life. As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn’t stop for directions.

I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late.

I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.

And as I played “Amazing Grace”, the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full.

As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen anything like that before, and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”

This morning we played our 112 consecutive game this Quarantine Season

That’s my partner Mark Johnson on the left and me. Sometimes, I win a set, not often.

I’m getting better. Sadly he is, too.

See you soon — Harry Newton