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How to make your next flight less miserable. 3M versus Home Depot

This is why 3M’s stock ails.

The company has reputation for great innovation. But look at its miserable results. No growth in years.


And drumroll…. The major reason 3M’s per share earnings inched up?

3M bought back $2.1 billion of its own shares in 2017.

Where’s all the much vaunted 3M innovation? It should have spent much of that $2.1 billion on R&D.

In 2013 it spent $1.7 billion on R&D. In 2017, it was only $1.85 billion. That’s a miserable increase. Much less than the buyback!

The Wall Street Journal says 3M’s present PE is 27.2. That’s much too high for a company not growing.

Sell 3M.

In contrast, Home Depot


Growing nicely. And they’re just a “dumb” retailer.

Why do these make these dumb predictions?

Morgan Stanley’s US equity strategists have identified early signs that the nine-year bull market may be coming to a close,  reports Business Insider this morning.

Making Flying Less Miserable

There is no way to make flying less miserable, other than not flying. If you must fly, here are Harry’s Best Tips:

+  Open your browser. Type Flights from A to B.  It will come up with That will tell you which airlines fly to where you want to go. That’s a good beginning.

+ Book directly with the airline, not Expedia, Kayak, etc.

+ The best bargain in the air is Extra Legroom with JetBlue. The problem with JetBue is that its schedule is awful. They have too many RedEyes.

+ Booking online with any airline requires the patience of Job. Dear Airline, I’ll fix your web site for free — just so you don’t waste so much of my own time. For example, several airlines won’t finish my booking unless I tell them my “Salutation.” There’s no room for “King” or “God”. Just boring stuff like Mr. and Mrs.

+ Everything in the airline biz changes from one moment to another. Trips with stops used to be cheaper than nonstops. No more.

+ Before you commit to a seat, check

+ The only thing that works with airlines is flattery. Don’t flatter women’s beauty. Flatter their jewelry, their scarf, their glasses, their shoes. Anything but them. This is 2018.

+ Luck can work. 24 hours before your flight, they email you to check in. Do it quickly. Sometimes you can fluke a cheap upgrade.

+ Pack less. Pack old stuff and throw it away as you travel.
+ Sometimes first class costs many times coach. Sometimes it doesn’t. Always check.

+ Always sit in a window seat. You have a lower chance of catching something from someone coughing and sneezing. I didn’t make this one up. They did a study.

+ Don’t ever lift your bag into the overhead bin. Ask a young strapping youth to do it. Saves hurting your back.

+ Sometimes onboard WiFi works. Often it doesn’t. Much saner to plan that it doesn’t and be joyous when it does.

+ Airbnb often offers much better accommodation – especially if there’s two or more families. It’s often cheaper than many nice hotel rooms.

+ Skechers makes the most comfortable travel slip-on shoe.
+ Michael and I are going on a Backroads bicycle trip this summer. It will be our fourth. Nice father/son adventure. We love Backroads.
+ Don’t buy souvenirs. Take photos. Print and frame a few when you get back.
+ The best luggage tags are from I have one on each bag I own. I have several that say “Not Yours.”
tagsforbags_btot2 tagsforbags_rtyt
+ The best travel backpack is Tucano:
Click here.

+ Dogs go for free if they’re “Service Animals.” Otherwise you pay $100 or so a trip. The Internet is full of sites that will supply dog tags and legitimate-looking documentation for a fee. Please empty your dog before you get on the plane. I’ve witnessed too many dog accidents. I’ll spare you the video.

+ Don’t buy a suitcase with a battery that will recharge your cell phone. The battery can burst into flames in an unventilated overhead bin.

+ Skyscanner has more tips: Click here.


+ Finally, never, ever fly Allegiant. Don’t believe me? Watch last night’s 60 Minutes. 

Facebook stock?

I hold a small position. I doubt it’s gong anywhere while the threats of regulation, privacy scandals and user desertions hang over it.  Meanwhile the press is having a ball discovering how much stuff Facebook has on each of its subscribers. Which obviously accounts for why it’s such an effective advertising medium.  Compare spending money on a targeted campaign in Facebook with an untargeted ad medium like the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times.

While in the long term some sort of regulation is inevitable, it seems less likely in the near term. Laws take years and sometimes decades to come into effect for burgeoning industries: people started talking about regulating telecoms firms in the 1970s, but America did not pass a law to regulate them until 1996. Today Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, do not have much appetite for restricting business. Because of Republican opposition, a benign bill that would require disclosure of who pays for online political ads, called the Honest Ads Act, has not even been granted a hearing.

For Facebook to change in any meaningful way, Congress will have to change too. One of the most stunning revelations of the highly choreographed hearings was not anything Mr Zuckerberg said, but how little America’s politicians seemed to know about Facebook and the way the world of digital communications operates. There is little hope for smart regulation that will protect users’ privacy until the people who would draft laws understand the ecosystem they need to tame. The Cambridge Analytica scandal gave Mr Zuckerberg a crash course in political diplomacy, but the education of politicians about the opaque, labyrinthine world of digital data is only just beginning.

This is insane

Prada took the backcover of a recent Vanity Fair to advertise these glasses.


I bet I can get almost identical ones on for one tenth the price, including lenses. I love EyeBuyDirect.

Comments on life



Harry Newton. I’m back in New York where it’s raining and cold. Just awful. But it’s snow in California’s Sierras. And that’s good.

  • Jerry

    Tips for flying: avoid the window seat on Southwest.

  • gerryb

    Was the article on 3M from the Wall Street Journal outdated? The stock has pulled back from around $260 in January to $220 today, and the P/E is now around 23.

  • scott

    Have you checked out / done RAGBRAI in Iowa? I haven’t done it, but would love to one of these years :p

  • Jerry

    I can’t believe your tips for flying did not include “get a known traveler number.” It costs very little and saves a lot of time at most airports.