Coffee Break: Pajamas or Business Casual?

Serving up Buna coffee!

Time for a coffee break.  Find you an Ethiopian or Eritrean restaurant, and get you some tasty Buna coffee.  Better yet, travel to Ethiopia (a little more difficult), and have it served up in a nice Buna ceremony.  Buna is a bit like Turkish coffee, brewed in clay pot over hot coals.  Served by a comely Ethiopian lass in traditional dress, with some dates and sweet cakes.... lots worse things in life! Everyone is sounding off on the heresy (or bold move) of Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo.  Ms. Mayer recently revoked telecommuting privileges for Yahoo's employees. Control Your Cash and Weakonomics, two of the few blogs I follow on a regular basis, took positions on opposite sides of the field. CYC is of the valid opinion … [Read more...]

Stupid Friends Are Expensive


"Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company." ~ George Washington "Stupid self-destructive friends will sink you faster than concrete shoes" ~ USA Financial Service DUIs and Speeding Tickets Earlier this week, I did my spousal duty by escorting Mrs. 101C to traffic court. The Mrs. had been clocked doing a heinous seven miles over the speed limit in a school zone. Setting aside the fact that this was on a speed trap five-lane road outside a high school, where no youngsters *ever* walk or cross the street (they all drive, the spoiled brats), Mrs. 101C was in a bit of a state, having been informed by the sadistic helpful officer that this traffic offense carried a … [Read more...]

Conspicuous Consumption in Shanghai. Or, Better Living Through Enhanced Consumerism

An Audemars Piguet Millenary Chalcedony Tourbillon - now that's a mouthful...

What a difference a couple of decades make on the world consumer stage. Who'd have ever imagined Red Communist Chinese buying up luxury goods from Versace, Bvlgari and Versace by the sackful? And yet, here we were last month in Shanghai airport, and my traveling companion discreetly nods at middle-aged (and very ordinary) couple ahead of us in the immigration line, and murmurs sotto voce "Luis Vuitton luggage. The real stuff." Well, the couple certainly had bags. Whether they were genuine or knock-offs, I had to take his word for it. Couldn't tell, couldn't care. Same scene repeated several times with different Chinese colleagues, folks who might not otherwise comfortably afford a Vacheron Constantin watch or a Coach hand-bag, but … [Read more...]

Sunday Morning Fish Wrap: Habemum Papam!

pio per culo photo

We have a Pope? No, not really. The picture caption is just a very clever play on words in Italian.  And even though we know that if you have to explain a joke, it's no longer funny, we're all about edification here.  So here we go. Pio is the Italianized name for Pius, a common Pontiff monicker. The phrase Pigliare per il culo could be translated politely as "making a fool of" or "taking for a ride", or more crassly and literally, "to grab by the ass" (Spanish speakers will recognize culo).   Pigliare is the Tuscan dialect version of prendere, or "to take".  Hence, Pio is a contraction of the verb's conjugation in first person singular: piglio (pronounce like a double L in spanish: pillo).  Hence: Pio Perculo. See? If you … [Read more...]

Basics of Home Security


The following guest post is by SimpliSafe Security Systems. Shame that many of us live in settings where home burglaries, or worse, home invasions are a real threat. Moving out of a lousy neighborhood is no solution. Even though property crimes are higher in a less desirable zip code, criminals do know where to "shop", and go where the good stuff is. Home security and protection should be thought of as a rings in a perimeter of defense.  Static security (lights, doors, windows, alarms) will create an environment unfriendly to burglars, while some common sense habits will reinforce that perimeter. Good Practices There's static defense, and then there's good OPSEC, or operational security.  Simple rules to live by that just may … [Read more...]

Do the Cheesecake Factory, Lowe’s and Wal-Mart value your time?

All true stories, of course

No, not if you have to wait for a table.  In which case, Cheesecake Factory could give a rip, and maybe shouldn't have to.  The wait can routinely be more than an hour for a chance to scarf down faux-exotic dishes, noveau cuisine salads and monster cheesecake slices. Not if you're shopping at Wal-Mart at peak time after work on a weekday or on the weekend. Standing in an interminable checkout line, shopping cart heaped full  with everyday low-priced pretzels and cheese puffs and name-brand undergarments, you can either catch up on tabloid gossips, chat on your Obamaphone, or fantasize about Mila Kunis or Justin Bieber -- or both, whatever personal proclivities happens to be. At Lowe's, do-it-yourselfers can while away the time … [Read more...]

A Hoedown with Redneck Dividends


Rednecks can sure have throw themselves a party... 4-wheelin' in the mud, shootin' clays, cases and cases of Bud make for a hootin' hollerin' good time. That sub-set of dividend-paying stocks in our retirement portfolio with a certain piquant rednecky taste have been on a tear of late.  The whole mess of 'em are up about 10% since the last update October last year. That's only a few percentage points better than the S&P500, allowing for re-invested dividends.  Not enough to crow about, but enough to be smug about when dogging on the uselessness of mutual fund managers. There's a few more mullet haircuts bellying up to the bar: Southern Company got the nod simply because of its name. How's that for irrational … [Read more...]

Weekend Fish Wrap, Spring Cleaning Edition

Do this in Edmonton at your own risk

The Fish Wrap: an occasional grouping of interesting links, mostly centered around finance topics, largely from personal finance blogs. A carnival of sorts, curated in no particularly consistent fashion, and only loosely governed by editorial standards. Every once in a while, that Drafts folder has to be cleaned out.  Old post ideas, thought nubs and topic snippets that are just taking up space.  This week, it's the turn of: Obamacare,  Lodge Doctors and Fraternal Insurance Organizations Ambitious title, but precious little work done in it.  Inspired in part by Don't Quite Your Day Job's look at the economics of health care ("Health Care Is No Different Than Any Other Good"), it was going to be (and may yet still be) a … [Read more...]

Why Air Products and Not G.E.? A Heart Warming Dividend Story…

A typical turbine silencer... big stuff.

Why invest in Air Products and Chemicals and not General Electric? One, a not-so-very-well-known producer of industrial gases, and the other the bluest of blue chip stocks, originator of the Six Sigma management system, and former home of His Excellency El Jefe Guruswamy, Jack Welch? Is it because the numbers are better with APD versus GE?  No, ADP is only slightly better, and its dividend yield is even less than GE.  PE about the same (17.85 for ADP vs. 16.07 for GE), net income roughly equal (GE gets the nod, although they enjoy a lower tax rate), and dividend payout also the same, slightly over 50% for both. Is it because General Electric is an unabashed crony-capitalist political entrepreneur and "perennial government ward" (to … [Read more...]