Friday, April 14, 2017

Where We Wind Up

I don't have enough time or space to opine on why we are who we are or why we are born where we are.  Let's just accept that as a quirk of fate and move on.  After all, who among us knows why we were born of our parents and why we were not born somewhere or someplace else?  How did I wind up here and not in Botswana or Japan?  Why am I a caucasian American and not a slave in 1820s America? If you have a clue, let me know.  There is a comments section at the bottom.

For now though, let's say that none of us knows why we are here or what we are supposed to be doing. That's fair enough, eh?  If this is too deep for you, then just move on to the next Dilbert cartoon in your feed and allow me to work on this by myself.

Many of us work long and hard trying to figure out where we are going in "the next life," without trying to figure out why we are in this life.  I guess we accept it as a matter of fact and move on.  Well, I for one cannot do that.  I ask questions and for the most part, I get no answers.

Where are the answers? I don't know, and none of us know.  All I'm doing here is trying to get you to ask the questions.  The answers are mostly opinions, or acceptance of some reality that you have bought into.  Why am I here? Because I am.  That's not an answer.  If like me, you cannot accept "because it's there" as an answer, you are left with the larger question.  I don't have the space here to expound on it.

"Why am I here?" is the biggest question we can ask.  I don't know why I came across this.  It's probably along the same lines as the "Big Bang Theory" folks who envision the Universe being created some sort of instantaneous event. OK then, who created the creation? How did the creator become the creator?  These are the kinds of things that keep me awake at night.

We are consumed with "Who Made That?" because we can develop an idea about who invented the electric guitar, the telephone, or the microwave oven.  Those are all people who were already here.  OK then, how did we get here, and what force created us and WHO CREATED THAT FORCE?

I'm going to sleep now. Talk amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Mighty Thor

He is strong.  Stronger than you or I.  Certainly stronger than I.

He has battled gingivitis, which prompted all of his teeth (save one lower) to be removed, and restrict him to a life of canned food.
He battled high cholesterol, which caused him to have pancreatitis, which put him in the hospital for three days.  After which, he struggled to eat for two weeks, forcing me to find something that he could stomach until he returned to his version of normal.

The ultrasounds that were done during his illness told us that he had smaller than normal kidneys, and the prognosis was negative.  Cats like him didn't survive much past the age of seven.  So, we knew - for whatever good that did us.  Good for him, I guess.

The deterioration was slow.  The numbers decreased as he started eating special kidney diet food and I gave him IV fluids.  Inevitably, the disease would catch up with him, and by his mortality he would succumb.  It was so slow that I didn't realize it myself until a couple of weeks ago, when he stopped eating the special kidney food.  I blamed myself for not being more devoted to giving him his IV fluids, but I wondered if that was the cause or merely my guilt? He's my boy.

And then, he started vomiting.  Last week.  Vomiting up ... nothing ... just a white bubbly fluid.  The kind of thing that makes one realize, "Wait ... what?"

A quick call to the vet, and Thor was on the table.  His weight had dropped a pound (something else I had noticed) and his bloodwork numbers were off the charts - in a bad way.  What was within Stage 3 of kidney failure was now well outside of Stage 4 in less than eight months.  And yes, there are only four stages.  The kind of numbers that, if you had a lottery ticket, would make you a millionaire for life.  Only this lottery, you don't want to win.

I got the call on Tuesday.  The call I suspected but didn't want.  That Thor's behavior was excusable due to his extreme sickness.  His smaller-than-normal kidneys were failing, and it was just a matter of time (a short time) before he had to give-in to an illness that affects 4 out of 5 cats.  There are some extreme measures that could be taken, but none that could extend his life beyond the next 4 to 6 months. The end is inevitable.

Which leads me to think:  Couldn't a big pharmaceutical company like Eli Lilly, Merck, or Pfizer come up with a cure for a disease that affect 4 out of 5 cats?  It seems like a BAZILLION dollar idea, right?  I suppose not.  At least not in time for my Thor. But I digress.

Here we have my Thor, lying on the carpet in his version of agony, with me scrambling to find something for him to eat.  The verdict that came was Meow Mix which, while not on his diet, I figured was within tolerance of a cat about to become ashes.  After all, he has less than a month, so why not make it as happy as possible?  Take the kids to McDonald's.

As it is, he is sitting in the living room (you call that living?) apart from me, while he usually sits with me, wherever I am.  It's a "cat thing" that they don't seem to want to disappoint us by being  less than their best around us.  It translates to us, as I do not want to be less than myself among you.  Thor and I are kindred spirits.  I am struggling to live without him. Nuts, right?

He is on a path.  It's a short path, and I do not know how long it is - but I will live it with him - because he as lived so much with me.  He has been my best friend through some of my worst days.  His nose has been at my front door every day.  His body has lied next to mine every night, and he will be next to me on the day when I finally have to say 'goodbye' to my friend and companion.

Your Next Move

Thursday marks the unofficial (official?) beginning of "Earnings Season."  My second favorite other than the start of baseball season.  Only in this case, you have to be wary of where your money is.  With baseball season, all you have to worry about is where your car is parked.

The banks will lead off.  Among others, JP Morgan and Citibank.  The biggies.  During the last big rally - after Trump was elected (you remember) - the banks led the way because investors thought that they would be the force once his administration got healthcare reform and lowered corporate income taxes - and the Fed raised interest rates.  Well ...

We see how that has gone.  Trump is nearly into his first 100 days and ... nothing. has. happened.  Oh,  unless you count launching missiles at North Korea.  Now, you have something.

Once the banks start reporting, it's either "run for the hills" or "hold the line," since bank stocks control a large portion of the S&P 500 - which is probably where most of your retirement fund is invested.

You will know by noontime on Thursday.  Know now that the "Trump Market" is over.  He couldn't get health care reform passed, and that means that tax reform is on delay, too.  That's something that he failed to tell us during his campaign.

He was only interested in winning. He wasn't interested in telling us the truth.  For instance...

Gold prices would continue to go up as inflation risk increased and Trump himself said that the dollar was overvalued. You could read it here, if you scroll back.

Since he couldn't get anywhere with his domestic agenda, he has leaned on having meetings with corporate executives at the White House.  What that proves, I have no idea - other than making Americans think that his agenda has more to do with making America great than it does with making him and his ancestors wealthy.

Launching rockets against Libya has more to do with his decreasing public opinion ratings than actually supporting an agenda other than making himself popular.  That's the kind of thing that presidents do when they have no other recourse.

So --- bottom line --- watch the bank earnings this week. If they don't keep up with expectations (which is the viewpoint here) then you need to find alternative investments.  May I suggest....

Municipal bonds.
High-yield corporate bonds.
Emerging market funds.
Gold and precious metals.

That's it.