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8:30 AM Friday, June 10, 2005: Today is my birthday. I'm 63 and healthy. I'll have lunch with Michael, my son, and this evening dinner with Claire, my daughter. My wife, Susan, will be at both. They've all asked me what I'd like for my birthday. I've answered grandchildren. They answered when they're ready. Which won't be tomorrow. "Don't hold your breath, Daddy," they say. Claire has just finished first year law school. And Michael is eyeing business school in a year or two or three. So no time for grandkids. But when I get them, they'll have super-smart parents. Meantime. I have Winnie, our four-year old Lab and Sammy, our 12-year old orange barn cat and sundry amusements (investing, tennis, charity, etc.) to keep my brain active.

The perfect investment is, of course, the perfect family. I'm lucky enough to have one, though Susan's superior management skills made it all happen. (I wasn't prompted to say that. I really believe it.)

Against a perfect family, all the rest palls into insignificance. Which brings me to:

I put some money into a St. Louis office building. The projections are for a 14% IRR over its life, i.e. from purchase to sale. It's an attractive building, a nice place to rent an office. It will do well.

Most people disagree with me on PayPal: Reader, John Peet, wrote

I've been using PayPal for three-four years (for eBay and non-eBay transactions), and I have to disagree with you. PayPal only holds your funds when you don't have a credit card setup in your PayPal account. In my case, I have set up my checking account as the primary source of funds, and my credit card as the secondary source of funds. By doing this, PayPal makes the payment to the seller the same day you have instructed the transaction. If you don't have the necessary funds in your checking account, PayPal will charge your credit card. Furthermore, I would say that the way PayPal makes money is NOT through the "eBay buyers", but through the "eBay sellers." That is, the sellers have PayPal accounts (just like us, buyers), but they keep balances on those accounts. PayPal makes money by using this float.

Tim Jebara, another reader, writes:

PayPal makes more money off you if they debit your bank account. But if you have a problem with a seller, PayPal will often say tough luck and side with the seller. If you link it to your credit card, it's different. You dispute the charge with the credit card company and then they take you very seriously. PayPal's customer service is awful. EBay’s dispute department is just as bad.

Lyme disease is a major pain: Kristin Zhivago who wrote the super book Rivers of Revenue on how to keep customers flowing into your business, writes:

Here's what I would add to your Lyme story. There really is such a thing as "chronic Lyme," which means that the spirochetes (corkscrew-like organisms) get into your system and are very, very difficult to get out. Here's what I know from having had chronic Lyme disease for 5 years.

1) If a tick has been on you for more than 48 hours (or so they think), that's enough time for a tick to exchange his juices for your juices (your blood) and for the spirochetes, which are in the tick's saliva, to get into your bloodstream.

2) If you realize that you've been bitten, Lyme-literate doctors usually recommend that you go through a couple of weeks of antibiotics. You'll probably be OK, because the spirochetes haven't had time to go beyond your bloodstream. (At least, this is what I think happens. I'm sure someone can explain this better). No guarantees, however.

3) If you start feeling sick -- even if you haven't gotten the classic "bull's eye rash" -- get on the web and find a "Lyme-literate" doctor in your area. Don't even bother with a non-Lyme-literate doctor; he'll tell you it's the flu, or it's all in your head. Even if he grudgingly tests you for Lyme, and you come out "negative," you still have to watch your own symptoms, because the tests can often come out "negative" even when you really do have Lyme.

4) "Feeling sick" means: headache; nausea; chills; weird nervous system events, such as a feeling of tingling, heat, cold, or numbness in your extremities; short-term memory loss; irritability; incredible fatigue; fibromyalgia (muscles burning, especially at night); heart palpitations or other irregularities; "brain fog"; strange rashes; joints aching and/or swelling noticeably. I had all of these symptoms.

5) It won't be like the flu, where you go through it and come out of it. You'll just keep going down. And down.

6) If left unchecked, chronic Lyme can put you in a wheelchair, take away your job, wreck your marriage, etc. I'm not kidding. It gets into your joints, nervous system, brain, and heart. It makes you sick, tired, unable to think, work, or just go about your normal life.

7) One of the really strange things about Lyme is you go through a pattern of symptoms as you're getting sicker, and if you manage to start getting better, you'll come out through that same pattern -- in reverse. This is nothing I've read in medical literature, it's just what I've experienced and what others have said. Also, there is a well-documented thing called a "herxing" which means that if you do manage to kill off some of the spirochetes, it will create a toxic reaction in your system, and you will feel worse for a couple of days before you feel better. I know when something is working when some of the symptoms return.

When it became obvious that I had Lyme, I personally tried the IV antibiotics for about a month, but just didn't feel it was helping me. I went the heavy-supplement route, focusing on vitamins and minerals that would oxygenate my blood (the spirochetes don't like oxygen), strengthen my nervous system, and help with mental acuity. I kept at it. It took about 3.5 to 4 years before I could say I was 95% back to my old self. I stopped taking the supplements for a while, and now have gone back to taking only take a few things to keep me in good shape.

The saddest Lyme stories are those where the person doesn't know what is happening...goes to the doctor...the doctor doesn't recognize the symptom soup that is Lyme--it can look like so many other things...the doctor either mis-diagnoses or dismisses the person's complaints...and the person just gets worse and worse. You don't want to be one of those people.

This is my personal opinion, but if you suspect you have Lyme, especially if you live in the Northeast, where it has reached epidemic proportions, you probably do have Lyme. And the sooner you start to battle the spirochetes, the better. The longer you wait, the more entrenched and numerous they become.

Type "Lyme disease epidemic" into Google and you'll tap into a lot of the current thinking about Lyme. Of course, you will also find people selling "cures," and you have to be careful. But I can attest, just for myself, that the "nutritional" method did give me my life back.

Which government paid for this ridiculous study? Termites eat wood twice as fast when listening to heavy metal music.

The Sperm Count:
An 85-year-old man went to his doctor's office to get a sperm count. The doctor gave the man a jar and said, "Take this jar home and bring back a semen sample tomorrow."

The next day the 85-year-old man reappeared at the doctor's office and gave him the jar, which was as clean and empty as on the previous day.

The doctor asked what happened and the man explained: Well, doc, it's like this - First I tried with my right hand, but nothing. Then I tried with my left hand, but still nothing.

Then I asked my wife for help. She tried with her right hand, then her left, still nothing. She tried with her mouth, first with the teeth in, then with her teeth out, and still nothing. We even called up Arleen, the lady next door and she tried too, first with both hands, then an armpit and she even tried squeezin' it between her knees, but still nothing."

The doctor was shocked! "You asked your neighbor???"

The old man replied, "Yep. And no matter what we tried, we still couldn't get the damn jar open."

The Furniture Dealer
A furniture dealer from Knoxville, Tennessee, decided that he wanted to expand the line of furniture in his store, so he went to Paris to see what he could find. After arriving in Paris (this being his first trip to the French capital), he met with some manufacturers and finally selected a line he thought would sell well back home in Tennessee.

To celebrate the new acquisition, he decided to visit a small bistro and have a glass of wine. Before long, a very beautiful young Parisian woman came to his table, asked him something in French (which he did not understand), and motioned toward the chair.

He invited her to sit down. He tried to speak to her in English, but she did not speak his language so, after a couple of minutes of trying to communicate with her, he took a napkin and drew a picture of a wine glass and showed it her. She nodded, and he ordered a glass of wine for her.

After sitting together at the table for a while, he took another napkin, and drew a picture of a plate with food on it, and she nodded. They ordered dinner, after which he took another napkin and drew a picture of a couple dancing. She nodded, and they got up to dance. They danced until the cafe closed and the band was packing up.

Back at their table, the young lady took a napkin and drew a picture of a four-poster bed.

To this day, he has no idea how she figured out he was in the furniture business.

Harry Newton

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. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look mighty interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. That money will help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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