Friday, October 31, 2008

They finished harvesting the potatos

They finished harvesting the potatoes across the road from our house on Fir Island. It's a very big field and it took them a week, working dawn to dusk and into the night -- the harvester going slowly down the rows, running potatoes up a moving belt into a heavy truck that follows behind. An empty truck waits idling, at the edge of the field, and then pulls into place behind the harvester for the next load.

The famous tasty Skagit red potatoes get hauled to huge warehouses -- mountains of potatoes, left for storage without being washed, because they keep better that way.

I'll bet they're glad they finished harvesting, because it's raining steady all day now -- a muddy mess for anyone who is not done for the year.

Some fields are planted with young cabbages that winter over and grow into green-yellow bushes next year -- they will be harvested for their seeds next August.

Other fields have winter wheat and barley crops. But the rest of the fields lay bare through the winter, except the farmers run what they call a V-plow at various places -- as a way of digging a trench to get the water off.

Fir Island is at sea level, and surrounded by a dike. So drainage is a continuous year-long task. All property holders on Fir Island pay pretty good money into the the dike and drainage district. Without those dikes and ditches, we would all be standing in about six inches in water.

That's government up close. You have to pay that tax if you live on the island, but you can see the dike, and you can see all the ditches, and you can see the crews working. You can go to the district meetings and put your vote on how it's all being done. It's money well spent -- I am very glad to be living here. But that's as close as I want to get to politics.

The snow geese are back -- out grazing in the barley and wheat fields. Coyotes work the edge of the flocks at night, and eagles fly over the flocks by day. If you see a snow goose limping or hopping on one leg, it won't last long.

I keep walking out to the slough to look at this beaver trail slithering through the cattails, up the bank, and into the raspberry field - but I think I've gone out there too often and left a scent -- so the beaver must be going someplace else.

The farmer who runs that field on the other side of the slough will shoot the beaver if he can find him, because the beaver likes to plug up the drainage pipes in a dam-building effort. I am only an observer in this beaver-farmer war. I should get a blue and white United Species flag.

But I am pro-human, when you get down to it. I love you all the very best.

Now, as far as the election goes, John McCain is in Pennsylvania and that makes me nervous. I want Obama to win. I already voted for him and I have done other things for him. I heard him speak in person when I was in Texas last spring, I also met Michelle Obama at a smaller gathering and shook her hand. I think they will do really well.

Two high points of the campaign for me were: when Senators McCain and Obama met in New York on September 11 to jointly and quietly lay memorial wreaths at Ground Zero. The other high point was Gen. Colin Powell's comprehensive endorsement of Obama on Meet the Press -- Powell said it just right, and that's how I feel about it too.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Looking Good in High Heels

Sarah Palin has spent more than $150,000 on clothes and accessories since gaining the VP nomination in August. Some people are outraged and consider it an extravagance, but not me. It costs a lot of money to look that good, and Governor Palin looks pretty good to me. You see her walking in 4-inch red high heels -- you think that's easy? Try it.

I salute the beautiful women of America, and I support the cosmetic and fashion industries. Women spend billions of dollars on makeup, jewelry, pedicures, and so forth, for the worthy cause of Looking Good.

When a woman says she needs new shoes -- well, there's a lot of dumb men out there who reply, "but you already have a lot of shoes."

For me, these are feminine mysteries and their perfume is designed to intoxicate and befuddle us.

It's just the nature of things.

Now, America has plenty of problems, and this fashion commentary in no way constitutes a political endorsement of Sarah Palin. I have no problem with her life, I just won't vote for her.

In fact, we need more amateurs in government -- not as President or Vice-President -- but we have fifty states and we ought to more often take a flyer on the man or woman on the street. We should put some of that plain talk in the Congress too.

I have learned to do Twitter. You can find it at If you need an explanation about how to do Twitter, than you can't do it. It's one of those things like Ken Kesey's Magic Bus, where the Merry Pranksters said, "You're either on the bus, or you're off the bus."

Twitter is a Zen koan -- I can feel hundred of readers becoming confused right now, but bear with me. The trick is you DON'T figure it out.

All right, I should tell the story sometime about how I rode on the Magic Bus, back in 1967, with Ken Kesey and Neil Cassidy. It was an astounding experience -- but some other time.

Barack Obama has suspended his campaign for two days to visit his beloved, but ailing grandmother in Hawaii.

Gallup polls conducted on a global basis, show that Obama is preferred by a huge margin in countries such as France, Korea, and Canada. May be we should listen to our friends.

I close with this news story from Blue Ash, Ohio, and ask your opinion "Whose football is it?"

Ohio woman, 89, accused of keeping kids' football

BLUE ASH, Ohio (AP) — Police in Ohio say an 89-year-old woman was facing a charge of petty theft because neighborhood children accused her of refusing to give back their football. Edna Jester was arrested last week in the Cincinnati suburb of Blue Ash.

Police said one child's father complained that Jester kept the youngsters' ball after it landed in her yard. Police Capt. James Schaffer said there has been an ongoing dispute in the neighborhood over kids' balls landing in the woman's yard.

Jester said Monday she has received many calls and didn't have time to discuss the matter any more.

Jester is to appear in court next month. The maximum penalty for a petty theft conviction in Ohio is six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

popular in France

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Riding Bicycles in the Rain

Even though it's late October, I've got a powerful urge to be gardening -- to be out on the soil and to get my hands dirty. The Pacific maritime climate is fairly mild and there's plenty of things that can be done in the winter -- planting trees and clearing brush.

They have closeout sales at the nursery every fall. It drives the nurserymen nuts, because everybody wants to plant trees and shrubs in the springtime, but the fact is that late fall is the very best time for this.

But I'm smart -- in many ways I'm even smarter than New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman -- so I shop the closeouts.

This year I bought some sparkling pretty arbor vitae, small ones in gallon pots, for only $1 -- that's a steal. So I bought two dozen -- not that I have any place to actually put these little trees, but I just wanted to have them. It makes me feel rich. Buying and planting trees makes you part of the future.

I got tired of all that bad news from Wall Street -- so I'm investing in trees -- long-term growth. I told you I was smart.

Also, the snow geese have returned from Alaska where they spend the summer. Thousands of beautiful white birds, often very near to our farmhouse or flying overhead.

The goose hunters are also out -- in the fields, squatting in camo clothes near a spread of white goose decoys. I only hope the hunters can tell the difference between a goose and a house -- because I live in the house.

I enjoyed watching General Colin Powell give a comprehensive endorsement to Senator Obama on Meet the Press. I couldn't agree more, and Powell spoke very well. His motives were instantly challenged by conservative critics, and with some justice, I would say. Powell's motives are undoubtedly complex -- aren't we all like that?

Rergarding our serious financial problems,I feel that it's a matter of "Who do you Trust?" and which expert do you believe.

The predictions vary from bad, to very bad,to very,very bad. I choose to trust the prediction of Warren Buffet, who is betting on a serious but not disastrous recession, followed by a recovery and continued growth.

Warren Buffet is investing in stocks right now, I am investing in trees, and we're both going to win.

I have had some good patients at the hospital this past week -- some very old folks in their 90s who are going out laughing. Nothing bothers them at all. You meet people like this and it makes you proud to be a human being.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Meeting Jesse Jackson on the South Side of Chicago

When That Evenin' Sun Goes Down
That's when you'll find me hangin' around.
I said the night life -- it ain't a good life,
But it's my life.

Those are words from a blues song by B.B. King. I used to hang out on the South Side of Chicago -- I had aspirations to be some kind of cool guy, or maybe I could ride in B.B. King's Cadillac, or maybe I could smoke some reefer with Paul Butterfield out in the back of the club. Or hold the door open for Dinah Washington. I used to have a picture of Nancy Wilson on my wall. And Lou Rawls records.

I used to listen to Daddio Dayley's Modern Jazz Patio -- "for those who live it, love it, for those who make a living of it." Daddio Dayley came on in the middle of the day from an under-powered AM station, but he played all the best -- Arthur Prysock, Billy Ekstein, Sonny Rollins and Clifford Brown and so many others that I learned about.

I was cool, I was gonna have roots, know people, be on the street, on 63rd Street, Cottage Grove, Stoney Island, and places like that.

I saw Louis Farrakhan and the Black Muslims and their clean bow ties selling their newspapers. I saw Blackstone Rangers. They were a gang, everybody was scared of them. I saw plain clothes Chicago police detectives park their car anywhere they wanted to. They were the toughest men I have ever seen in my life -- they didn't strut, they just stood there, trench coat like Colombo, cop shoes.

I wasn't that stupid. I kept my eyes open. I kept moving if I needed to. I learned to trust my instincts, if things didn't feel right. People tell lies, they act friendly, but they're playin' you.

I ate sweet potato pie at the Mount Olive Baptist Church at the Sunday dinner, after all that fried chicken and all that gospel music.

In 1966 I associated with Jesse Jackson on the South Side. He was not known by anyone at that time, just getting started. He worked out of the basement of the Mount Olive Baptist Church. We did something called "community organizing." Have you ever heard of that?

It was called Operation Breadbasket and it was about getting jobs for people in the neighborhood -- all the black people lived in that neighborhood, but it was more about where they lived than it was about race.

So, we targeted the Pepsi Cola Company. We said to Pepsi Cola, "You sell lots of Pepsi around here, but you don't hire any of us to drive your trucks or to work in your bottling plants."

Jesse Jackson did the talking. He was only 25 years old in 1966, and just making a name for himself.

"We want jobs for our people, or you're not going to sell any Pepsi products in our neighborhood," he said.

Pepsi didn't listen and wouldn't deal. So our task, at Operation Breadbasket, was to organize all the little grocery stores on the South Side of Chicago ( they only had the big supermarkets in the suburbs ) -- go to each one of those little grocery stores and convince the owners to take the Pepsi products off the shelf, and put up a "Boycott Pepsi" sign.

Everybody knows that black people prefer Pepsi over Coke, because Pepsi tastes better, but they wanted to get those good jobs driving the Pepsi trucks.

So, the boycott worked. Pretty soon, after a few weeks, Pepsi couldn't sell a bottle of soda anywhere, and they caved, and began to talk to Jesse Jackson, and they promised some jobs for people in the neighborhood.

I liked that kind of economic muscle. It wasn't like, "Oh, we're poor people and you have to give us jobs." No, it was much more real. It was, "We drink Pepsi every day. You're making money off of us, so you have to give us jobs, or we just won't drink anymore Pepsi." That's real. And it worked.

Funny how you remember things like this years later. It kind of blows my mind to think about it now that another man, who did some "community organizing" on the South Side of Chicago, is on the verge of becoming President of the United States.

Barack Obama -- I expect he learned a lot from Jesse Jackson, and Jeremiah Wright, and a host of very colorful characters that one can easily encounter on the South Side, a neighborhood that might seem exotic to the likes of Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin -- I have not heaped abuse on her like others have done, but I will continue to make fair comments. Other says that Palin has no foreign policy experience. But I would say different. I would say that you don't need experience in foreign travel to be a good President. But what you DO need, is to KNOW your own country. If you really know America, then you can deal with foreign leaders.

And how can you ever know America, if you have never been to America's most vibrant and vital neighborhood -- the South Side of Chicago?

Today, in St. Louis, Barack Obama drew a crowd of over 100,000 people. That's amazing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lunch with Rebecca

I had lunch with Rebecca Darling. We met at the La Casita -- only two blocks from her house. The way it happened -- I had just left the Riverside Health Club, I was driving over to the hospital to go to work.

But I was hungry, and I remembered what my sister had told me -- I needed to shake up my routine a little bit.

Plus -- visions of enchiladas had been dancing around my head this past week.

It all came together as I approached La Casita. I made a quick right turn into a residential street. I parked the car. I grabbed my baby blue sweater and my Pendleton wool shirt and walked over to the restaurant.

They have very nice booths at La Casita, and I was hungry. It was then that I remembered to call Rebekkah Darling -- she lives only blocks away and she was happy to hear from me and not occupied, so she came right over.

I peeked out the window to watch and notice her when she began approaching the restaurant. I wanted to notice any change in her appearance - you can tell a lot by the way someone walks.

No, she looked good, but her hair was a little different.

So, we had lunch and shared some anxiety -- it was small pains, quickly laughed away.

But she said she hadn't been out of the house much lately, so we addressed that concern in a more deliberate way. I proposed some transitional steps she might take to bring her more out into the world. We went through it step-by-step, and it made sense to both of us -- that it was time for her to be getting out of the house more often, and mixing it up with people.

It was time to do that. So I suggested she come to watch the debate tonight, as there would be a good crowd of people -- many people that she knew, many people that liked her. It would be easy and welcoming.

At first she thought the debate was too conflictive and contrary and argumentative. I said yes, so for sure you shouldn't watch it alone. It would be much better to watch the debate with a nice, warm group of people. Then the conflictive part of it will not matter.

So, we had a good lunch, talking about things like that, and the enchilada plate was excellent. I left a large tip -- I usually do. I am so grateful for the food and service, even if I am paying for it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Afternoon

It's a peaceful Sunday afternoon in the Skagit Valley, nothing to worry about -- and only six hours until the stock markets open in Asia, and the madness begins again.

A mood assessment of folks around here shows a surprising lack of anger or panic -- more of a numb and shaken feeling that "things are not what they seemed to be." A friend left a phone message on my machine. She said, "Well, I've been fine. I lost a lot of money this week, and I'm going out with a cute guy Sunday evening." Now, this friend holds her money dearly, but I also know her to be determined about keeping a balance in her life.

The conversation about the financial crisis is going on everywhere and all the time. People, at least, are getting very educated about such words as "uptick" and "mark to market," which are understandable terms. But "credit swap derivative" defies common sense understanding -- it was dubious financial products like that which brought the market down.

In the future, we should demand a kind of regulation that goes like this, "If you can't explain it clearly to an intelligent person, then you can't DO it."

QUIETING THE MOB. "Crash" McCain makes a most unreliable leader -- He stirred up his own troops into a mob reaction, and had to publicly quell them by insisting that Obama was a decent man.

But he continues to play the association game. Obama, he says, has associated with Bill Ayers. True. And "Crash" McCain has associated with George Bush. Also true.

Now, who has done more damage to our country -- George Bush or Bill Ayers?

AFTER NOV. 4 WE WILL KNOW. I had a dark vision of John McCain taking the election, but it passed. Let us look at the likely outcome -- Obama wins. Things become more certain. Consider the global financial crisis. German Chancellor Angela Merkel maintains informal contacts with the Obama campaign to keep him in the loop, as do other world leaders.

But after Nov. 4, she will be speaking directly to President-elect Obama and making plans to resurrect the system (while formally acknowledging that Bush is still President until Jan.20).

AND DON'T FORGET ABOUT HOPE. Obama has downplayed the old charisma thing -- it's not really his job to brighten our days and he simply has too much work to do, but I will tell you a little story about hope and redemption.

I was with a patient at the hospital who was out of sorts and we talked and we watched TV for a while -- it was Larry King interviewing Michelle Obama.

Honoree, a young black nursing aide, came into the room for a minute and began to watch Michelle Obama on the tube. Honoree began to beam with intensity -- I couldn't help noticing. She was too busy to sit down and watch Michelle, but I know she wanted to.

Honoree had told me about her boyfriend the week before. "Oh, he's so cute, and he's so funny," she said. But in talking with her I found out that this "boyfriend" was without a job and living in her apartment for free. I disapproved, I said, I don't care how cute he is, he's taking advantage of you. But she got huffy and said "that's my life, not yours."

So, Honoree won't get the message from me, but she will get it from Michelle Obama -- I'll bet you that. I'll bet you that on or after Nov. 4, when Obama gets elected, Honoree goes home from work and throws that bum out with the trash -- because it's going to be a new day around here.


In a recent post, I claimed to have no debts. In fact, I have a rather large one, but it is being managed. I also have a significant real estate asset which is larger than the debt. It's not like I'm in great shape or anything, I am just not going into the hole.

Virginia Smith writes from Toronto that she does not care to be referred to as "Ginny" Smith. I went to college with Virginia years ago, at the University of Toronto. She was known as Ginny back then, but not now.

Virginia is about to embark on a flight to Capetown, South Africa -- I hope she has a wonderful time.

And, Simon Bell writes from England "Just letting you know that the 'all American girl' Dusty Springfield, was in fact British" --I had mentioned Dusty Springfield's version of Jacques Brel's classic "Ne Me Quitte Pas" in a recent post.

Thanks to the wonderful readers of Frog Hospital for pointing out these errors.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jacques Brel, the great French songwriter

Jacques Brel, the great French songwriter, died 30 years ago today. One of his songs is an enduring legend, "Ne Me Quitte Pas."

Please, take a listen. It's a very sad song, "If you go away." Feel your heart ache, or remember when it did. For an English version, please listen to that all-American girl, Dusty Springfield, sing this classic number, "If You Go Away."

If these links don't get you to the song, it's very easy to find on Youtube.

A LOVE MESSAGE FROM GINNY SMITH IN TORONTO. "Canada loves Obama," It's a cute little video that will bolster your spirits -- if you love Obama -- and they love Obama in Canada and in France. I'm glad about that. These two countries have been wonderful friends to America over the generations. We can look to the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, paid for by the collected pennies of French school children. We can look to French President Sarkozy, who was elected on a forthright promise of friendship toward America.

We can visit the graves of our fathers and grandfathers in the lovely fields of Normandy, Anjou and Champagne. We are joined to France in this manner.

And Canada, too. We are wedded -- our border with Canada is too long for anything else. Canada won its independence from Great Britain in 1867 -- it was a peaceful dissolution, something the Canadians have always been proud of.

But we had fought a bloody war against the British to achieve our own independence, and maybe -- just maybe -- that made it easier for Canada to become free as well.

THE WEATHER. It's fall. The stock market is closed for the weekend. I'm going to be watch the baseball playoffs -- especially the Dodgers and the Phillies. All that bad news can wait until Monday. Just a thought about France and Canada -- it's good to remember who you're friends are.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

With Bill Ayers in Chicago

WITH BILL AYERS IN CHICAGO. The Students for a Democratic Society held their national convention in Chicago in the summer of 1969. College groups gathered in the dingy smoke-filled halls of the aging Chicago Coliseum on South Wabash Street. The Coliseum was a derelict facility, with leaking plumbing, torn linoleum flooring and battered folding chairs -- but it was a cheap rental for this meeting of 2,000 student radicals.

I had just graduated from college myself and I was at home in the Chicago suburbs contemplating my fate. Richard Nixon was President, the war in Vietnam was raging, and America was in turmoil. Those were black years.

So I took the subway down to the Coliseum to see the SDS people, more as a visitor and observer. I was strongly opposed to the war and inclined to the left. I had waved a few sign at student demonstrations and argued into the night with my college chums about how to change this country -- which seemed to be going off the deep end after the assassinations and the riots.

I was looking for an answer, or a means to confront the chaos. But the SDS convention that year was a bizarre and unmitigated disaster. Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dorn were up on the stage haranguing the crowd. A large and very militant gang from the University of Michigan was chanting slogans from Chairman Mao's little red book. Stalinist wannabes were hawking pamphlets that praised the governments of Albania and North Korea. Everybody was shouting in deadly earnest.

There sitting in front of me was a man wearing a beaten brown leather jacket. He had thick cascading curly hair. I heard him say, to no one in particular -- "These people are all nuts."

It was Abbie Hoffman. Now, if Abbie Hoffman, the premier madcap Yuppie, the purveyor of anti-war mayhem, thought the SDS was nuts -- that was saying something.

I could only agree with Abbie. I didn't stay long. The convention broke up into warring factions, and one faction became the infamous Weather Underground, led by Dorn and Ayers -- a bunch of idiots.

And what was I to do? Nixon was a mad man, the war still raged on, and the student resistance was equally insane.

I headed for the woods. A year later I, was living in a teepee in the Skagit Valley, working for the Forest Service and local farmers. I have avoided joining organizations ever since.

BARAK OBAMA AND BILL AYERS. Obama was 8 years old in 1969 when the Weather Underground went on its rampage. Well, I was there at convention and I don't recall seeing any 8 year old African-American boys running around the hall, so I don't think Obama had anything to do with it.

Forty years later, Obama is accused of association with former student radicals such as Ayers. I guess Obama should avoid my company too.

Financial Prudence

BUFFET'S RULES. To help pay for the rescue, the government should raise taxes on the wealthy, Mr. Buffett suggested. "I'm paying the lowest tax rate that I've ever paid in my life," he said. "Now, that's crazy."

"CRASH" MCCAIN "Crash" McCain -- as he was known in the Navy -- is the son and grandson of admirals. McCain crashed three planes while in training to go to Vietnam. And he's still a reckless driver.

ADVICE. Advice to a friend who is unemployed:

1. Get up early
2. Eat breakfast
3. Leave the House

MRS. KIM AT THE CONWAY STORE. She runs a good business -- sells lots of gas and beer and food to go. I buy gas there, but I never buy the fast food, deep-fried, synthetic, mass-market tacos -- nooo, not this Yupppy.

But I like her deviled eggs. Mrs. Kim makes them herself. "They're good -- fresh every day," she says. I get three deviled eggs for $1.59 -- just right for a quick breakfast plus a bottle of apple juice. And Mrs. Kim is making money on the deal. Her cost is less than 50 cents -- for the eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, paprika and plastic container.

HOSPITAL BILLS. My friend Archie had out-patient surgery last week. They replaced the battery in his internal pacemaker. He said the battery lasted five years because it only kicked in two times -- lifesaving moments. The pacemaker de-fibrillates his heart muscle and gets it back on a steady beat.

"So, it took an hour and a half, and the bill was $47,000 from the insurance company, and I have to pay $7,000 out of pocket," Archie said.

Okay, on the one hand, Archie got a good deal -- for $7,000 he gets to live for another five years. I'd pay that.

But I told him to negotiate. Archie is in the construction business and he can bargain hard for a load of plywood, but he forgot to think that he could also negotiate with the hospital. I told him -- "Offer them $4,000. Tell them you can write a check today, but if they turn that down, you'll need to stretch out payments over several years."

You can ALWAYS negotiate with the hospital. In fact, in today's uncertain economic climate, you can negotiate with EVERYBODY. Every dollar coming in and every dollar going out -- can be re-negotiated. You might be scared because you've lost money on your IRA -- but the other guy is losing money too. And if he needs the cash more than you do, as in right now, then that puts you in a position to dictate terms.

FROG HOSPITAL -- FINANCIAL GENIUS. I am dispensing financial advice, because I can make a claim to prudence -- and lessons painfully learned from past failures. As of today, my income exceeds my expenses and I have no debts. I have two grown children who make more money than I do. That makes me part of the solution, not part of the problem.

I did take serious losses four years ago -- I made some bad decisions, and then I got stubborn and doubled down my bet. The consequence was that I lost a lot of money. I made the decision to sell my house to pay off my creditors. That gave me a clean slate and a smaller chunk of equity, which I still have.

It was very painful to lose 75% of my grubstake, but I took the medicine. No one was mad at me, because everybody got paid. It was just my own damn fault and my own money, which I lost.

But trimming away the toxic debt, as we call it now, left me in a true position and got me down to the solid nugget of what I truly owned. And from there I began the re-building process.

It has been slow going since then, but it feels awfully good to be moving in the right direction.

That's a personal story -- but it might be of some benefit to others who are facing similar troubles today.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Poverty is a Misfortune

First, a baseball trivia quiz. Seven states have two major league baseball teams, not counting California which has five teams.

Name the states and the teams. The answers are at the bottom of this letter.

POVERTY IS A MISFORTUNE. Poverty is a misfortune, it does not provoke nobility or generosity. It must be accepted, endured, fought, and overcome.

Poverty is no blessing, except in the larger sense that all life is a blessing, or pancreatic cancer is a blessing. Certainly one can learn from the experience. One can exhibit grace.

But to say, Wouldn't it be fun to be poor, is like saying, Wouldn't it be fun to be sick.

One choses the state of poverty as better than a dishonorable life, but one does not seek it for its own sake.

Poverty is not simple living. In fact, it can be both immensely complicated and continuously boring.

But simple living is a happy state. Defined as this: You are living simply if your income is greater than your expenses. Poverty is the reverse of that condition.

BE LIKE WARREN BUFFET. Be a little Buffet. Invest in long-term value, just like he does. If you belong to the one-third of America that is NOT in debt, then this is a great time to get out there and start buying. Old Warren just put $3 billion into General Electric -- because he's a good guy? Nope, because he saw the value.

How much money do you have to invest. $500 0r $5,000 -- either way, if you go out looking for something you can hold and keep, you're going to get a lot of interesting offers.

Be a true American -- Invest, not shop, not consume -- Invest!

The duty of debtors is to be making more money. Earn!
Debt is not guilt, debt is a result of someone else's belief in your worthiness. That's why they call it credit, which comes from the Latin word credo -- I believe. If you are in debt, it's because someone believes in you. So, go forth and fulfill your promise.

BASEBALL. I favor the Chicago teams, the Cubs and the White Sox. Both teams are in the playoffs and a possible all-Chicago World Series has the old town on fire.

The White Sox first need to beat the Tampa Rays. I like those Rays, those low payroll wonderboys. I like the way the Rays made mush out of the Red Sox and Yankees.

But I gotta be for the White Sox. They are my home team. A young boy, growing up in Chicago, faces a serious decision early in life. Should I be a Cubs fan or a White Sox fan? Because you can't be both. I made that choice for the South Siders and I'm still with them.

I mean -- nice if the Cubs win, I guess, but that's all.

Meanwhile, another favorite -- those blue Dodgers out in Los Angeles with the incredible Manny Ramirez and Pharoah Joe Torre. They're two games up on the Cubs right now and they could go all the way.


New York -- the Mets and the Yankees
Pennsylvania -- The Pirates and the Phillies
Ohio -- the Indians and the Reds
Illinois -- the Cubs and the White Sox
Missouri -- the Cardinals and the Royals
Florida -- the Marlins and the Rays
Texas -- the Astros and the Rangers
California -- the Giants, the As, the Angels, the Dodgers, and the Padres

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Shop at the Gap this weekend

Vicky Schlessinger at the LaConner Chamber of Commerce, the publicity and promotions director, is excited about her new plan to stimulate retail business in LaConner.

"Well, you see, we have these empty store fronts, and people are like worried that it doesn't look good, you know, like the bloom is off the rose and LaConner isn't the cool place to go anymore.

"So I figured let's take these lemons and make lemonade. That's where I came up with this promotional campaign -- Shop at the Gap -- get it? Gaps are cool. People will gather around the empty storefronts and wonder what will happen next."

ALSO IN LACONNER. The Next Chapter bookstore has a new owner. John and Sharon will still own the building and continue to live upstairs, but Lisa has leased the bookstore and will be .... Actually, I don't know what her plans are. She might keep it exactly the way it is or make it better.

John and Sharon ran the Next Chapter for ten years and it was always a good place to browse and converse, so thanks to them and the best of luck to Lisa.

I got into an interesting conversation with Tom at the Produce Market -- about politics and government in various African countries. I said that if you were a true Libertarian, you would enjoy living in Somalia, because they don't have any government at all. Then Tom and I discussed the recent history of Zimbabwe and the disastrous government of Robert Mugabe. We agreed that, as much as we complain, or because we complain, our American gov't. is much better.

But everybody is talking about the economy and the financial crisis -- all over town. Everybody is angree (a new and better way to spell angry), Democrats and Republicans alike. Well, I beg to differ. I am not angry, and I feel that the rest of you are indulging your emotions in moral indignation. It's true that nobody loves a banker, in good times are bad, but we sure need them -- and right now, they need us, so I support the bailout plan. The principle actors --- Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Hank Paulson, and George Bush -- are all deeply flawed individuals and no better than the rest of us in that way. Even so, we elected them and they're trying their best.

Maybe we need Donald Rumsfeld now, because we have entered the territory of the "unknown unknowns," a concept Rumsfeld is familiar with.

I am very calm myself -- which is not a good sign -- because my instinct is to become very calm in an emergency. Yet I urge others to be calm as well because it fosters a good climate for decision making.

Some people say let the chips fall where they may, but I say there's a hundred pound chunk of concrete flying at my head from a Wall Street bank, so I want to help them keep their structure intact.

Other people say we can return to simpler times and keep a barter economy. To those people, I say "Go camping and get it out of your system."

But there is a quiet reward for those of us who have planned well. Our farmhouse has wood heat, and we have six cords of wood all cut and stacked, sufficient for the winter. It sure feels good to look at that wood -- all paid for and ready to use and not having to worry about the heating bill.