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Well, Friday the 13th came on Tuesday the 14th last month. At least it did on my calendar. I spent 2 & ½ hours in the dentist’s chair that morning and left with a sore mouth, a two-tooth gap in my front grill, and a bill for $5,568.  I came into the Allen & Company office for a bit and studied an investing textbook that was heavy on the math; enough to make my head hurt. The things I do for you that go unnoticed, man, oh man!   Aren’t you grateful I’m here to make sure you do notice?  I thought not.

I topped off the afternoon of the 14th by going to see the eye doctor for my yearly checkup, and he was able to confirm that, yes, “we” are all getting older.  Another diopter (I get ‘em from old Coke bottles to save a little dough) only to find out, “No, your insurance says you can’t have new lenses for another year.” There went another $703.

Oh yes, my wife prepared corn on the cob for dinner that night. She’s a bucket of laughs.

In other good news for the month, my wife’s $16,000 back porch project got underway with a $4,000 down payment, and my fence and decking repair quote came in at a mere six grand. Now I kinda wish I hadn’t bought that $10,000 worth of stuff for my “man cave” in March.  So much for planning ahead.  I hope you are doing a better job of following my advice than I am.  But all those items were necessities, except for the teeth, perhaps. Who really needs all their teeth anyway? Besides people that want to talk, smile, or eat, I mean.

On the investing front, things were back to fun and good times in May – at least for the first two weeks; I’ll know about the last half of the month when you do.

That recovery period got us healthier account balances than what April left us. I was talking to a fellow about ideal account balances, and I told him that all through our working years, we should wish for the market to drop into the abyss, stay there for a while, and then drop further, only to skyrocket the month before we retire. We agreed this was perhaps a little self-serving, maybe even downright selfish, but it can be fun to think about when one is having trouble falling asleep.

Nope, wishing for markets “good” or “bad” is foolish and fruitless, as well as difficult to define (see Potter Stewart quote) when you overthink it … not that I ever do that sort of thing.

The best we can do, must do, in our investment approach, yea, even our life approach (that should be read with melodramatic emphasis), is to think hard about how much downside we can absorb in a falling market before we either react out of panic or develop a nervous tic that we might have to carry around for the rest of our days.

Once we do that, asset allocation can be built to give us the best chance to meet our goals, and all else is mostly chasing the wind. Yes, I know you know this, but it helps me to stop once in a while and remember what we are actually trying to accomplish and how we can best get there. It also reminds me to circle back around to “step 1” – that thinking about risk thing and talking it through with you yet one more time as life changes and the calendar pages fall to the ground.

Speaking of calendar pages, in May, but not on the thirteenth, I had birthday celebrations for a daughter (31!), granddaughters (12!) plus a kindergarten graduation for Oliver.  Oliver is so high energy; I could make a fortune by hooking him up to a squirrel cage and generator. Child Services may frown on this, but I think it’s worth checking into just the same.

In other May news, Spring has left the building atmosphere.

Man, it is hot out there already. I like working in the yard, but I can’t cope with the heat. Every summer, I think about my first job: I worked for the Florida Department of Agriculture, and my job was to go into designated citrus groves, find the marked trees (four per grove), and count all the fruit on the limb selected via a random number chart, and which represented 10% of the tree canopy.  We did this in August. How did I possibly do that without falling over dead?  It did teach me to seek out a job with an air conditioner associated with it. But hey, I did get paid $2. 25/hour, as I recall.

In other interesting only to me (all too likely) tidbits, I listened to AM radio for reasons you don’t care about a bit too often in May, and that guy who described TV as a “vast wasteland” needs to come back around and listen to AM radio for a time.

The top two-thirds of the dial are dedicated to Tejano music and some very loud and emphatic Spanish-speaking radio hosts.  These are not calming broadcasts.  Definitely not what I want people listening to as they try to leave US 27 and merge onto I-4 eastbound.

The bottom third of the dial is split between sports talk, right-leaning politics, and religious programming; I think the political left has commandeered the lower end of the FM dial, but that’s a matter for a different research period. In my AM journey, beyond discovering there is so much in the sports world that I don’t care about at all, I discovered that all three of these formats have several characteristics in common: they are loud, dogmatic, smug, and are not designed to deliver information, but rather to feed the faithful what they want to devour. That’s more than a little discouraging when extrapolated to the overall news media.

Time, word count, and a modicum of good sense keep me from mentioning campus protests, the travails, and trials of Presidents past and present, or the Federal Reserve (who has had a much better year than the last few, amazingly and happily enough). But I will point out, however, that in my tales of overspending woe, I didn’t have to pay $130,000 for any Sternly Denials, or $83. 3M to Lewis E. Carol for improper wordplay. So, in my defense, there is that.

Take this, then, if you will, from the adventures from my very own rabbit hole: mind your expenses; rethink your risk, needs, and goals; and be careful out there: People are Nuts!

June 2024

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