Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I recently decided to paint (stain) my back fence. I made the usual trip to Lowes/Home Depot to shop for stains. In both cases you cannot purchase anything less than a gallon by selecting a "color" from a color chart. After I purchased a "gallon" for $27.00 I decided I didn't like the way in went on - but you can't return it.

On an impulse I stopped by a small local paint store which I had always avoided because I thought the prices were too high. I asked the owner if there were any smaller amount I could purchase for a test. The owner told me he could be glad to get me a sample (in fact offered me two small half-pints.)

Lesson learned: Sometimes "more is less." Weight ALL your options carefully before you make a decision.


Monday, May 29, 2006


There is a mind set among many people that "bad things happen" to other people - but not to them. Three interesting statistics:

One in three people do not wear their seatbelts.

One in three POLICE OFFICERS do not wear their bullet proof vest.

About one-third of teenagers use no protection for sex at all.

and the list goes on.....

Lesson learned: Not to be part of the one-third of the population that ignores safety and health considerations.


Saturday, May 27, 2006


"For all our conceits about being the center of the universe, we live in a routine planet of a humdrum star stuck away in an obscure corner ... on an unexceptional galaxy which is one of about 100 billion galaxies. That is the fundamental fact of the universe we inhabit, and it is very good for us to understand that." - Carl Sagan


I visited a Civil War show recently. A number of participants had "artifacts" for sale. When I went to a table one man had a group of Indian artifacts (arrowheads, spear points, and hatchets.) As I starred at the objects contemplating perhaps a purchase the vendor turned to me and said "Now those are REAL artifacts."

I was slightly taken back by the comment - wondering WHO would have the time to make these from a contemporary stone. But evidently there is a "niche" market for counterfeiting in just about every area of collectible. The vendor explained that just about every Indian artifact worth money was being turned out by third world laborers.

As I continued through the show there was also a display of "confederate" artillery fuses that were also "counterfeit."

Another vendor was giving a lesson on how to spot "repro" Confederate flags.

The point is: Never spend your resources on items you don't have absolute faith in the knowledge and integrity of the seller.


Friday, May 26, 2006


This is an interesting financial blog that I would strongly recommend for anyone trying to gain a hold on their own finances.



I am reading the autobiogaphy of Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor.) One of the chapters dwelt on the childhood "lessons he learned from his "father" and family members. The thought of this has prompted me to reflect on what I have learned...

This list will be on-going and subject to revisions:

- Whatever your occupation always have an eye on the future - be prepared for any changes in technology that may affect your livelihood. Diverse skills offer you a better chance of survival.

(When my father took me to college he also began my "education" as a "meat cutter." The occupation had nothing to do with my professional education but it did prove to be an immense financial security blanket for the next 20 years of my life. It likewise taught me many valuable cooking and grocery shopping skills and most important of all - how to deal with people.)

- As a new "meat-cutter" he reminded me that because I was "new" and had less than perfect meat-cutting skills I had to have an "edge." That edge was to convince my employeers that I was always working hard and had their interests at heart. For example, whenever I worked at the meat counter I would always have a clean rag and would wipe down the counters, cases, scales, etc. whenever there was "spare" time. I never forgot that advice.....

- Be friendly and courteous to everyone (no matter what their title and authority). "What goes up can also go down."



Wednesday, May 24, 2006


We are in the midst of making a major conversion of our existing will to a TRUST. (Don't worry my children you will still get your inheritance - and even more because of the TRUST.)

A Trust costs more than a Will ($1500-10,000 depending on your financial complexity) but offers a major advantage of keeping your assets out of PROBATE COURT and prescribed state mandated fee schedules far more than a trust fee. There are some companies which offer "trust forms" for do-it-your-selfers but do you really want to speculate your finances to a $29.95 CD and out-of-state lawyer?

The State of Missouri (where we reside) has changed Trust laws this past year and as a result virtually every existing family trust needs to be reexamined.

Everyone needs to examine their PLANS for the "Rites of Passage." Everyone is going to die - it is just a matter of when.

Even if a Trust is NOT in your plan you do need a WILL or else the courts will decide for you!


Tuesday, May 23, 2006


In the entire 6 years of the Second World War we exploded about 2 Mega tons of TNT. Today we have over 10,000 Mega tons of TNT held in nuclear weapons threatening our "cosmic" end.

At this moment there are about 15-20 wars going on. Will one of these events precipitate our demise?


Sunday, May 21, 2006

$52 PER GALLON....

We went to the show today. Because the have a "membership" card we received a free soda. The "free soda" represented about a pint (volume without ice?). The cost of the soda if you paid for it was $3.25 - this translates into $52 a gallon.

And to think people complain about $2.75 gas......

And to think that a 16 oz beer at the new Busch Stadium costs 7.75 or $62 a gallon....sigh


If you have EVER experienced Poison Ivy, Oak, etc. you know the extreme discomfort once you have been exposed. In fact, a really bad exposure can last 6-10 weeks depending on age and all with anguish.

Even if you KNOW that you touched the plant just washing your hands will NOT remove the irritants because it actually BONDS with the skin.

Once the skin erruption occurs your only options are:
live with it (and constantly itching)
go to your Dr. for a series of shots


A small $40 tube of ZANFEL (an over the counter purchase). By simply "scrubbing" your infected area with a very small amount of this applicant it actually removes the CAUSE of your discomfort. If your skin is extremely errupted you may have to repeat the process. Even so, you will feel actual relief within a half hour. Within 24 hours most of the erruption will be gone!

OK, this is a low level "Life Lesson" but if your ever infected you will thank yourself for reading this advice. My Doctor did not even know of this ointment. And yes it is worth the $40.


Saturday, May 20, 2006


I have mentioned this before but this newspaper article is a sober reminder.....


And while CATS can be less enpensive a BIG DOG is the price of a new car.

"An average owner with a healthy, medium-to-large dog should expect to pay $25,000 in food, vaccinations and pet-related expenses over the lifetime of the animal, says Jim Wilson, a Pennsylvania vet and lawyer who crunched data from several animal-care associations to determine the true cost of pet ownership.

The number jumps to $35,000 if the dog develops diabetes or another chronic problem."


As in every marriage there are some tasks that one spouse will take ownership over another. The other day my wife was taking the cat to the "Vet" for an annual checkup. Just as an afterthought I asked her to check IF the Vet offered any senior discounts.

When my wife came home she said YES we were eligible for a 10% discount. In fact, we were eligible for the past 4 years. Given the fact that our vet bill runs a couple of hundred+ every year this was not a casual savings (or lack of).

Discounts also existed for "handicapped" or disabled individuals as well.

LESSON LEARNED: Both spouses need to constantly talk about such discount possibilities. Ask for a discount regardless of age. A friend of mind some years ago asked a desk clerk at a motel if they had any discounts. The clerk listed the standard AAA, AARP, etc discounts but my friend replied he did not have any of those BUT he was "left-handed." The clerk laughted so hard he gave him a discount.


Friday, May 19, 2006

LIFE RULES.... a work in progress

These rules are subject to future updates and revisions....

0 "Spend less than you earn." This should be a lifetime pursuit.

Try to save 10% of your net income.
Be sure to have an ACTIVE savings plan.

1 "The first rule of financial success is to protect what you have."

This RULE should carry over into your everyday actions for the rest of your life.

http://www.familywatchdog.us/ ..... map of child molesters for your neighborhood. This is very disturbing.
Life Insurance is a necessary investment.
Always make sure your house is fully insured

2 "The second rule of success is to make a realistic financial plan and keep it."

Plan for future expensives: (examples)
Roof lasts about 15-20 years
Furance lasts 15-20 years
Carpeting lasts 15-25 years
A car lasts 5-10 years
Concrete driveway about 20+ years
Avoid Impulse purchases

3 "The third rule is to Avoid Greed." There is no free lunch ANYWHERE!

4 "The power of compounded interest is the eight wonder of the world - USE IT!"

5 "Stuff happens! Always have 3 months earnings in liquidity."

Be prepared to survive a natural disaster for 3 days without the assistance of others. (Remember New Orleans)

6 "Preparing for retirement should be a lifelong plan subject to frequent review."

7 "The most important financial decisions in your life are: a house, cars, and children - choose wisely."

Expensive purchases require detailed and planned investigation prior to purchase.
Shop carefully - shop again, ask others - THEN make your purchase(s).
"All large purchases will cost more than what you plan."
Each child in your family will cost a minimum of $180,000 in today's money
A CAR is NOT an investment. Choose a used car to save money.
Always inspect your home once a month for ISSUES (water damage, insects, etc.)
Protect your (home) investment with all necessary repairs and insurance.
And no matter what the price ALWAYS ask for their best price before making a decision.

8 "No family financial plan will work unless all the family members will acknowledge and support it."

Review your finances on a monthly basis and communicate this with your significant others.

9 "Avoid credit card purchases except for necessities (gas, etc.)" Paying cash is a good habit.

10 "Avoid impulse purchases."

Jewelry is NOT an investment
Don't keep up with the "Jones" - it could bankrupt you!

11 "Practice economy as an art form in your daily life."

Always use coupons, discounts, sales for important purchases
Enjoy the benefit of available FREE public activities (libraries, free concerts, museums)
Avoid eating out to save money
Garage Sales can save you serious money
Avoid purchasing extended warrenties on most purchases.

12 "Keep all your purchase receipts in a box (for warrenties, taxes, etc.)"

13 "ORGANIZE your possessions so that you can FIND and CONTROL what you own."

14 "Invest in yourself. Investing in your education or professional skill sets will pay off."


Thursday, May 18, 2006


I bought a new "used" car the other day. As you can read in other entries (below) I do not believe that a new car is a realistic purchase since you normally loose 30% of your purchase in the first year. Still, every purchase requires your attention to the details if you plan to obtain your best purchase.

I spent considerable time on-line researching the type of car, manufacturer, quality assessment (Consumer Reports), and local dealers before making the actual purchase. Without going into long details I found the vehicle for the "price" I thought I wanted to pay at a local dealership and made a "down payment".

When I went home I decided to double-check if the vehicle was priced any differently on the dealers website. I found the vehicle was LISTED at a price only a few hundred dollars more than what I had negotiated. So I picked up the phone, called my sales person and negotiated another $500 discount over the phone. Following a "talk" with the manager they agreed to the additional discount.

The $500 does not mean alot to me - what is important is the self-reminder that "attention to detail" makes a difference in everything you do.

And YES the final purchase was a bargain according to the Edmunds.com auto guide.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


As my insurance agent recently reminded me - "This is the 8th wonder of the world." Personally, I think it should be in the top three.


Sunday, May 14, 2006


Many people make judgements and decisions without taking in the benefit of advice. The more you reject "listening" to other peoples life experiences the less they are willing to share it with you.

The advice may not always be accurate - but it is a "starting point" in your assessment of a situation.


Saturday, May 13, 2006


No, it only reveal it.



Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Don't waste your time. It is more important to spend your time on finding solutions or accepting your problems/issues than ever experiencing "self-pity."

I was watching this evening the Discovery Health Channel show called "Rebuilt: The Human Body". People with the loss of body parts go on with their lives uses prosthetic devices. One young man called "Roy Perkins" was born without feet or lower arms and yet he didn't think he was "handicapped." What was amazing was that he could even swim several miles in the open ocean.

Keep "Roy" in mind the next time you feel that life is not fair.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006


students are learning manners from us whether we are "teaching" them or not. As Robert Fulghum (All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten) said:

"Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you."

(That quote is equally true for most adults as well. Actions take precedence over words.)