A Panhandling Story

A couple weeks ago I saw a not-unusual sign for these days and times in the  parking lot of the local Walmart. "Family needs help" Holding the sign was a youngish guy, probably late twenties or early thirties, dressed in jeans, work boots, light jacket and ball cap.  He was leaning up against a late 90's green Dodge 1/2 ton pickup, the bed of which seemed to hold suitcases and other possessions.  A little girl of about 3 or 4 years, dressed in pink, played in the little green bed next to the truck.  A young woman, presumably the girl's mother, was sitting in the front seat of the truck. I drove into the parking lot, giving  them a cursory second look, and parked up from the store and about six rows down from them. I'm … [Read more...]

Fall Garden Frost


Winter is definitely on its way.  We've had a couple of freezing mornings during this Thanksgiving weekend, and the vegetable garden as suffered as a result.   The purple opal basil is gone, as is the one jalapeno pepper plant and the golden nugget tomatoes.     A week ago, this is what portions of the garden looked like: Four broccoli plants ready to harvested for broccoli casserole.  Since there was way too much food at the Thanksgiving table (as usual), the broccoli had to wait another couple of days for its day.  The broccoli really loved this full-sun location. Here's a closeup: The green onions, mesclun greens and the kale (bottom left) came through the frost just fine. The red flame lettuce, not so much.  What … [Read more...]

Centavos Model Portfolio: Malaga Inc.

Picking up from earlier this week, some background on the decision to add Malaga to the online portfolio. The latest print edition of the Northern Miner carried a headline front page story on tungsten miner Malaga Inc. According to NM, tungsten as a scarce resource seems to be heading the same stratospheric direction as rare earths have in the last couple years. For  those readers unfamiliar with rare earths, perhaps the more notorious is lithium, widely used in hybrid car technology.  China is the world leader is rare earth production, and has recently restricted exports, thereby driving a price bubble/spike. Well, China leads the world in tungsten production as well, and is moving to restrict exports of this valuable … [Read more...]

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Image via Wikipedia Lots of very best Thanksgiving wishes. Much to be thankful for:   family gathered round the table, bountifully good food on the table, shameless amounts of pie, and no major injuries to the kiddos (yet). May we all have a good holiday and all our toasts be merry. … [Read more...]

Slicing and Dicing on the Cable TV Bill

On impulse and on a whim the other day, I called the Cox cable to review details about our cable and internet charges.  The bill itself seems to have reached stratospheric numbers, what with the bundling and a couple of on-demand movies, it sure stacks up quick.  Time for a hard review. The first charge to stand out was the "Variety Pak" at $4.00/month.  The Movie Pak and the Sports Pak (including Fox Soccer Channel), also for $4/mo each, we liked well enough and would keep, but the Variety Pak, according to the nice lady on the other end of the phone, was channels like Oxygen, Hallmark and the like,  OK, let's ditch it. Nazzo fast, Guido.  The three Paks, despite being listed separately, came as a $12/month package.  Cancel … [Read more...]

Garage Sale Swag, part 2


Here's an update from a post from last month. Before: and After: The total cost was actually more than the estimated $37.  The paint was about $20, but the main cost came from the foam and the indoor/outdoor fabric and trim for the cushions.  The seat cushions were not originally estimated, so over my objections we faced some project scope creep.  I'm also told that fire engine red is much better than plain white.  However, since what I know about home design is minuscule compared to the vastly more knowledgeable Mrs. 101,  compromise was hastily reached.   Mrs. 101 fired up the sewing machine, and out came a nice seat for the settee and for the chair (not pictured).  With the original $7 cost of the set, plus paint and … [Read more...]

A Centavos Portfolio of Penny Mining Stocks


As discussed in a previous post, I've been putting working on putting together a portfolio of penny mining stocks.  The stocks may be purchased either in the self-directed brokerage portion of my employer's 401k plan, or in the Scottrade account.  Generally, I make bigger purchases in the 401k plan since I can maintain diversification even while making bigger purchases. I've decided not to include any of the dividend stocks like EVEP or PGH that I've also bought, since I don't want to mess with keeping track of the dividends payouts and reinvestments. For this model portfolio, the plan is to stick to some general but not absolute guidelines, as it will be difficult to locate companies that fit all the criteria: share float … [Read more...]

Plastic Bags and Winter Driving

cold car

A recent post and the comments on Len Penzo's site ("Come On, People. Quit Maligning the Plastic Grocery Bag!") got me thinkin a little about winter driving, and the useful items that I keep in both cars in the event things go sideways (sometimes literally). The lowly plastic bag from your grocery store is almost perfect ice-screen for side mirrors. I keep a couple in a backpack in the back of the truck, wadded up with two or three large rubber bands. In the morning, if the weather forecast calls for freezing temperatures and precipitation, either light snow or rain, I know that when I come back in the afternoon ice-scraping will be what everyone will be dealing with .  I wrap the two bags around the side mirrors with the rubber bands, … [Read more...]

Time Management, Foreclosure Mess and Other Links

Earlier this week, I was cogitating a bit on matters of time management and project scheduling. Upon checking out some favorite blogs, it seems that Squirrelers and Kris at Every Tips and Thoughts briefly connected through a wormhole in the space-time continuum,  both writing with near Swiss-like synchronicity on time management and being productive in, well, space-time. Squirrelers:   10 Tips to Improve Productivity Everyday Tips and Thoughts I Am Mastering Time Management! "Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to get leisure." Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so"  Douglas Adams (1952-200) The Biz of Life posted some funny and other not-so-funny videos and commentary in the "don't touch my … [Read more...]

The Stock Market vs. a Speculative Portfolio

The broad market took a tumble on Tuesday, and was flat on Wednesday.  One of the effects of having a portfolio heavily weighted in natural resource stocks is that it often reacts inversely compared to the broader markets.  My one brokerage account outside my 401K is heavily invested in a speculative mix of 27 mining, oil and gas stocks, mostly penny stocks. This Tuesday, as the Dow dropped a chunk, the portfolio  dropped along with it, only not quite as as much in terms of percentage points.  Wednesday, as the markets moved sideways in anemic trading, my overall portfolio got frisky and jumped up more than 3%.  Conversely, on days when the Dow has a banner day, Centavos can suck mightily. I'm working on putting up a sample … [Read more...]