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Reasons to give thanks. Part 2. How to cope with technology changes.

When we started our first magazine, I asked the printer to finance its printing, pay for the paper and the postage. I said I’d pay him if we sold any ads and, if we actually got paid for the ads.

That was my best sale ever.

We did sell ads and get paid for them. I paid him what we owed. We stayed with him for the next 20+ years, printing new magazines we started and brochures for trade shows and seminars we also started. Millions of them.

I had a fellow pitch me on giving him money for his new venture. But, I demurred, your last three startups failed.

That was true, he said. But now he’d finally figured out how to make this one successful. And he did.

No other country rewards failure like we do. In places like Europe and Japan, failure is a badge of dishonor.

My Australian boss told I’d love the Americans, because, just like me, they substitute enthusiasm for intelligence. My German friends tell me they think forever before making new products. Here we just do it. That’s why we introduce new products faster and before other people do.

Today America is awash with money looking for new ideas. It’s impossible to predict which ideas will make it.

Today’s New York Times has a piece on a once stockmarket darling — Beyond Meat — that is struggling. Its stock has slumped 83% in the past year.

Everything made sense about its product. We should cut back on real hamburgers and go for the fake, Beyond Meat, kind. They are all wrong, too expensive and not tasty enough.

Apple’s watch has taken off and has sold over 100 million. For a watch?

My office is full of techie products — most of which I no longer use. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Look what I just found in my closet, the TRS-80 Model 100, a portable computer introduced on April 26th, 1983. That’s 39 years ago.

I dusted it off, put in four new AA batteries. It works like a charm.  This is it today on our kitchen countertop.

Radio Shack sold over six million of these things before it went broke.

I humbly salute all the fine tech companies who introduced great new products and then went broke. It’s been a wonderfully exciting time.

Which brings me to investing:

+ Beyond Meat went public at $25 and then rose and rose to $222.  Take your investment out and take some of your profits. Play with the bank’s money. As it began to look really ugly — say 15% to 20% down — get out completely. This is the past several years.

+ There’s no such thing as a “safe” stock. All companies are subject to the slings and arrows of inexorable technology.

+ ETFs remove some of the strains of managing your money in the stockmarket. My friend Steve sent me a chart of his “meager returns this year.”

Steve is a “trader.” He buys the dips and sells the rallies of stocks or ETFs that have somewhat predictable  patterns. He doesn’t hold stocks.

Today companies report good earnings and their stock price falls. They report bad earnings and their stock price rises. In these weird days, Steve’s trading makes huge sense. I’ve tried it. It’s hard. I cannot match his brilliance.

Today my three longs — NVDA, GNRC and TSM are all down. But my short on VGT is up (because it’s down).

Maybe it’s my masochism that forces me to watch the stockmarket every day? Maybe it’s an optimism that I may learn something? So far, it’s misguided.

Fidelity is telling me this afternoon I can earn 4.74% on a one-year treasury. Which, as they say in Australia, is better than a slap in the belly with a cold fish.

Several guests at my daughter’s 22-person Thanksgiving Day meal have now thrown up.

And my office looks like this charmer:

All the floor boards are gone, to reveal moisture and mold (the black dots).

This was the culprit — a plastic pipe which was part of the underfloor radiant heating system. It sprung two tiny leaks eons ago and flooded my office and the basement ceiling before the dam burst and flooded everything.

Underfloor radiant heating is very pleasant when it doesn’t leak.

I played tennis inside this morning. It poured outside. Our metal tennis Butler building didn’t leak.

Check. Check. Check.

Susan said “You have too much stuff. Give it away.”

My 33 x 32 jeans had shrunk in my closet.

So I gave them to the local charity thrift store.

Two months later, I went looking for a 35″ pair of jeans. I ambled into the thrift store to find my favorite pair of jeans on the 35″ waist size shelf.

I tried it on. It fit perfectly.

I asked the nice lady, “How come it’s in the 35″ rack when its label says 33?”

She said she measured it. She showed me her measuring tape.

I bought my 35 inches jeans back for $10. I really love them.

Check. Check. Check. 

That was the slogan I adopted in our publishing business in the 1980s.

IBM had “Think.” I thought mine was better, especially for a business publishing technology magazines, as we were.

We had to get it right.

King George and our government

Continuing on from the dictators in yesterday’s blog….

I’m told America’s founders created a government to avoid America ever being run by a nut case like King George III. That’s why we have all the checks and balances which often stop us doing anything. Sometimes that’s good.

A bit too much clothing for tennis. Those black dots are not mold? Surely.

I had fun today. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

See you soon. — Harry Newton