2016-05 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for May, 2016.

The monthly dividend income came out to $436.85. The yearly income total for 2016 through the end of the month was $2059.52.

The income for May, 2015 was $361.99, and the yearly income for 2015 through the end of May was $1803.11.

There was not too much going on. My order for more Air Products and Chemicals (APD) was not filled, so I did not get a boost in my APD payout in May. Perhaps in August. I also put in an order for more Emerson Electric. It did not get filled in time for the June payout. Perhaps it will be filled before the September payout. Stock prices keep going up.

Given the changes in the oil markets, I have sold my stake in COP. I have kept CVX and XOM. I may sell CVX since they have not increased their dividend in over a year. I think that XOM will be able to sustain their dividend, and probably increase it. They are the only firm that has been able to execute buybacks intelligently (although I am still against them in all cases). I do not know what I will do about the gas and electrical utilities that I own shares in. I think there will be some shakeouts in that sector, but not as dramatic as we are seeing in oil.

I plan on buying more water utilities. I agree with the idea that water is the commodity of the 21st century, just as oil was the commodity of the 20th century. Right now, P/E ratios keep climbing, and show no sign of dropping. At some point, interest rates will rise, and P/E ratios will fall. But I have been waiting for a couple of years for that to happen. I am thinking that I should just buy some water utilities over the next few years. Maybe it’s too early, but as I said, I have been waiting for a more perfect moment for a while. Perhaps I should act now. At least I would be doing it with my eyes open. As Voltaire wrote, do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each May from 2011 through 2016:

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2016-05 2059.52 436.85 479.79 477.37
2015-05 1803.11 361.99 411.92 402.51
2014-05 1411.19 280.01 304.77 306.30
2013-05 1141.24 242.65 260.91 288.11
2012-05 1268.97 258.15 257.13 270.51
2011-05 1114.84 266.55 233.03 194.61


Here are the stocks and the income amounts for May, 2016:

  • ABM Industries Inc: $9.42
  • AT&T: $49.14
  • Verizon: $57.72
  • WGL Holdings Inc: $16.81
  • Lowe’s Cos Inc: $15.26
  • Clorox Co: $44.29
  • Air Products & Chemicals Inc: $13.87
  • Northwest Natural Gas Co: $28.36
  • Colgate-Palmolive: $43.38
  • Hormel Foods Corp: $14.07
  • Procter & Gamble: $39.85
  • Texas Instruments: $40.63
  • Eaton Corporation: $64.05

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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More Meditation

I am starting to get back into meditation. I used to meditate somewhat consistently, until about ten years ago. Recently I decided to restart.

My income has been pretty static for the past decade. Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe there is a connection. I know a lot of people say you shouldn’t meditate for some material goal, but I am tired of feeling like I have hit a ceiling. I am a software developer, and over the past decade I have been at a few jobs, and each time I reach a point where I think there has got to be a better way to do things. I am told by the higher-ups to just keep doing things the same old way. A lot of times I am told I have great ideas, right before I am told why they cannot be implemented.

I know that is a bit of a word-salad. I want more control over my life. I felt more in control when I meditated regularly a long time ago.

I look at the Meditation subreddit on a regular basis. There is some good stuff there. The Zen subreddit is a waste of time. I know the original point of koans a thousand years ago was to get people to think about things in a different way. A lot of people in the Zen subreddit seem to think that non-sequiturs make them sound enlightened. Usually, it just makes you sound like a jerk.

I have been meditating almost every day for about a month. Honestly, not a lot of progress so far. I tried doing qigong while watching educational videos on YouTube or listening to a podcast, but I have had to face the fact that doing so is not conducive to positive change in my life.

I might look for a meditation teacher. I have heard good things about Ron Crouch, but on his site he says he is not taking on any new students at this time. I have heard good things about The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa (also see Dharma Treasure site). I will also get to some Buddhist podcasts in the near future.

I tried the whole “idea machine” idea, but I was not too consistent with it. I was coming up with a lot of lists about making idea lists. I might try again, but I have been interested in meditation a lot longer, so I think this might work out better. Hopefully it will improve all aspects of my life. Perhaps I will find a Zen woman. A Theravada mama. Frankly, it seems like most women have two stages in their life: Drinking and shopping; and having babies. At least, that is what I have inferred. It’s hard to know something about a group of people when they don’t want you to know anything about them. Anyway, I would like to meet someone with whom I can do some buddha-buddha and bunga-bunga. I getting to an age where a lot of the single women frankly don’t look too good. They say at 20 you have the face you are born with, and at 50 you have the face you deserve. One way to not looking like ten miles of bad road: Do not drink alcohol. (Notice I did not write “drink less.”) But nobody ever likes that answer. Perhaps crediting not looking like a hobo to meditation will shut people up.

One thing I have realized is I need to lose weight. I have gone to a few Zen places in Chicago and here in Austin, and the basic instructions are to follow the breath by focusing on the hara, or dantian in Chinese. It is a couple of inches below your navel, and is close to most peoples’ center of gravity. Perhaps my dantian has just gotten bigger in the past decade. Yeah, that’s it.

Image from Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.  It is the Flag of the Kingdom of Sikkim, which was annexed by India in 1975. The circle in the middle is the dhammacakka, the Wheel Of Dharma that Gautama set into motion upon his enlightenment.

Much of this post was originally posted as a comment on the Meditation subreddit.


Thoughts On Dividend Income

This is a post about dividend income

There has been some drama in the dividend growth investing (DGI) blogosphere. The guy who ran Dividend Mantra sold it to an outside company, and for months there was little original content. The sellers said the original author (henceforth DM) would still provide content, but there was nothing.

There were a lot of comments expressing discontent, and those posts were later deleted.

This led to some discussion on other sites. One was Mr Money Mustache.

Most people there are indexers and said DGI is not as good. Obviously, I disagree.

One person said DM was stupid for only using taxable accounts and putting no money into tax-advantaged accounts. That I agree with.

A few disputed the notion in DGI that selling shares is like sawiing off a tree branch while you are sitting on it. I agree with that metaphor. You can only sell shares once. But many companies pay dividends for years. It’s sort of like a cow or a chicken. You can get milk or eggs from them multiple times, but you can only eat them one time. You can only sell a share once. My goal is to never sell and to live off the dividend income.

Some on the forum that the DGI investors might not reach the goal of living off dividends. That is true, but that is not a valid objection to DGI. ANY plan could fail. If that invalidates DGI, it invalidates everything.

One person pointed out that while index investing can be judged by total return, DGI should be judged by the growth of the dividend income. Many on the forum disagreed, and insisted total return is the ONLY way to judge a portfolio. I disagree. While it is bad if a stock goes to 0, the point of DGI is to not rely on price alone. We saw a lot of people get hosed relying only on price in the dot com bust with stocks, and for just about every asset class in the Great Recession. Meanwhile, many DGI stocks kept paying. The funny thing about relying on price is that when you really need money, usually the price goes down. Dividends are not guaranteed, but neither are capital gains. And you might not get them when you REALLY need them.

Maybe things will change in the future, but if the same thing happens for two cycles in living memory, you should pay attention.

Plus, I invest in some pretty big companies. If my stocks go to 0, then whatever you are investing in is probably hosed too.

I don’t think a lot of indexers understand DGI. Some of them accused DGI investors of chasing yield. As I have mentioned in the past, for many DGI investors, a high yield is actually interpreted as a sign to get out. Most prudent DGI investors also look at P/E ratio, payout ratio, and dividend history.

To me, “chasing yield” is holding a stock that pays 10% for a year and then selling. Most of the stocks that DGI investors are interested in have yields from 2% to 4%, and we intend to hold for a long time. Ideally, for life.

I am considering going more towards DGI ETFs. That is sort of like indexing. It’s like “indexing without the bad stuff”. But I really have no desire to buy the whole domestic market if I can avoid it. My 401K through work offers regular index funds, but no DGI funds; in this blog I mostly talk about accounts that I have full control over. As I said, I do not want to rely on capital gains. I want cash flow. Not potential cash flow. Not theoretical cash flow. Not cash flow dependent on getting a higher price. But actual cash flow. As Josh Peters wrote in The Ultimate Dividend Playbook, when a private equity firm want to take a company private, their offer price will be based on the company’s cash flow. Why not get that money now? Why wait until I sell? If the only time you benefit from owning a stock is when you sell (in other words, when you stop owning it), then it is pretty dumb to own that stock in the first place. Why should my money go into firms that are not paying dividends? As far as I am concerned, US stocks that do not pay dividends are dead weight.

Granted, with foreign firms, it is a different story. There are not as many DGI ETFs for foreign stocks. Directly buying a stock listed on a foreign exchange would cause more tax headaches than it is worth. But for stocks on domestic exchanges, and as for my house, we stick with DGI.

One person said indexing is better, and asked if us DGI investors thought we were smarter than the market, and advised us to listen to what the market is telling us. Well, it has shown that companies that have grown their dividends do better than the total market. S & P has a page on the Dividend Aristocrats, and it has a chart applet that you can use to compare the Dividend Aristocrats against the S & P 500. Guess what? The Dividend Aristocrats do better than the overall market. So, no, I don’t think I am smarter than the market. Unlike you, pompous indexer, I am listening to what the market is telling me.

The High Yield Dividend Aristocrats also did better than the S & P 500, but not quite as much.

Also, if you look at the fact sheets for those indexes, the “High Yield” Dividend Aristocrats index yields about 3%, while the regular Dividend Aristocrats index yields about 2.52%. The High Yield Dividend Aristocrats index has stocks that have increased dividends for 20 years, while the Dividend Aristocrats index has stocks that have increased dividends for 25 years. So I guess “High Yield” is relative.

There was a lot of discussion about the returns of DM. Some said the only reason his portfolio gained was because he added capital to his accounts. Below is a very large table with information about some of my dividend holdings. This shows stocks for periods in which I did not buy any additional shares. I did re-invest the dividends.

For each stock, there are two rows. The first is the first dividend payment I got. The second is a more recent. This chart was made earlier in the year, so it does not have the latest. For some, it might have a transaction from a couple of years ago. For each stock, I looked at the earliest and latest for a time period in which I only got new shares through dividend reinvesting. For the second row of each stock, the “Income Increase” is calculated by dividing the second income amount by the first. The “Div Percent Increase” is calculated by dividing the second dividend payout amount by the first. Some stocks split, so that may affect the amounts. I think the “Income Increase” is more consistently useful.

So for ABM, the income from the dividends increased 34%, while the payout amount per share increased 19%. I would say that is a pretty good return.

Constituent Name Symbol Bought Shares Price Num Shares Div Income Div/Share Total Shares IncomeIncrease Div Percent Increase Yearly Div
ABM Industries Inc ABM 2010-05-03 21.91 0.3080 6.75 0.1350 50.3080 0.00 0.00 0.54
ABM Industries Inc ABM 2015-11-02 29.01 0.3110 9.03 0.1600 56.7490 1.34 1.19 0.64
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co ADM 2010-09-09 31.95 0.2850 9.03 0.1500 60.4960 0.00 0.00 0.60
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co ADM 2015-03-10 47.00 0.3860 18.16 0.2800 65.2310 2.01 1.87 1.12
Automatic Data Processing ADP 2010-10-01 42.03 0.4290 18.08 0.3400 53.6200 0.00 0.00 1.36
Automatic Data Processing ADP 2016-01-04 86.98 0.3620 31.49 0.5300 59.7790 1.74 1.56 2.12
AFLAC Inc AFL 2010-12-01 51.50 0.2880 15.07 0.3000 50.5370 0.00 0.00 1.20
AFLAC Inc AFL 2014-03-03 63.86 0.3110 19.52 0.3700 53.0720 1.30 1.23 1.48
Air Products & Chemicals Inc APD 2010-05-10 74.57 0.0920 6.86 0.4900 14.0920 0.00 0.00 1.96
Air Products & Chemicals Inc APD 2015-11-09 138.81 0.0930 12.91 0.8100 16.0290 1.88 1.65 3.24
American States Water Co AWR 2010-09-01 33.33 0.3890 13.00 0.2600 50.3890 0.00 0.00 1.04
American States Water Co AWR 2015-12-01 40.64 0.6200 25.20 0.2240 113.1150 1.94 0.86 0.90
Black Hills Corp BKH 2010-06-01 28.69 0.3810 10.80 0.3600 30.3810 0.00 0.00 1.44
Black Hills Corp BKH 2015-12-01 42.63 0.3450 14.71 0.4050 36.6550 1.36 1.13 1.62
Constituent Name Symbol Bought Shares Price Num Shares Div Income Div/Share Total Shares IncomeIncrease Div Percent Increase Yearly Div
Chubb Corp CB 2010-04-06 51.90 0.1430 7.40 0.3700 20.1430 0.00 0.00 1.48
Chubb Corp CB 2014-07-15 94.03 0.1170 10.91 0.5000 21.9390 1.47 1.35 2.00
Colgate-Palmolive CL 2010-11-15 78.58 0.3460 26.57 0.5300 50.4830 0.00 0.00 2.12
Colgate-Palmolive CL 2015-11-16 66.86 0.6250 41.79 0.3800 110.6070 1.57 0.72 1.52
Clorox Co CLX 2011-02-14 71.26 0.4210 27.78 0.5500 50.9250 0.00 0.00 2.20
Clorox Co CLX 2015-11-13 122.20 0.3580 43.75 0.7700 57.1720 1.57 1.40 3.08
Chevron CVX 2010-06-10 70.79 0.2000 14.40 0.7200 20.2000 0.00 0.00 2.88
Chevron CVX 2015-12-10 86.87 0.2940 25.54 1.0700 24.1670 1.77 1.49 4.28
Dover Corp DOV 2010-06-15 45.41 0.1240 5.46 0.2600 21.1240 0.00 0.00 1.04
Dover Corp DOV 2015-12-20 63.78 0.1530 9.76 0.4200 23.3960 1.79 1.62 1.68
Consolidated Edison Inc ED 2010-06-15 43.35 0.3480 14.88 0.5950 25.3480 0.00 0.00 2.38
Consolidated Edison Inc ED 2015-12-15 61.85 0.3280 20.29 0.6500 31.5390 1.36 1.09 2.60
Emerson Electric Co EMR 2012-03-09 49.67 0.0000 20.27 0.4000 50.6650 0.00 0.00 1.60
Emerson Electric Co EMR 2015-12-10 48.64 0.5450 26.51 0.4750 56.3560 1.31 1.19 1.90
Eaton Corporation ETN 2011-05-27 50.67 0.3410 17.00 0.3400 50.3410 0.00 0.00 1.36
Eaton Corporation ETN 2015-08-25 55.06 0.5470 30.12 0.5500 55.3170 1.77 1.62 2.20
Constituent Name Symbol Bought Shares Price Num Shares Div Income Div/Share Total Shares IncomeIncrease Div Percent Increase Yearly Div
Hormel Foods Corp HRL 2010-05-15 41.25 0.1120 4.62 0.2100 22.1120 0.00 0.00 0.84
Hormel Foods Corp HRL 2015-11-16 67.64 0.1780 12.04 0.2500 48.3550 2.61 1.19 1.00
Illinois Tool Works ITW 2011-01-11 54.37 0.3140 17.00 0.3400 50.3140 0.00 0.00 1.36
Illinois Tool Works ITW 2016-01-07 87.52 0.3350 30.31 0.5500 55.4520 1.78 1.62 2.20
Johnson & Johnson JNJ 2010-06-15 58.42 0.2750 16.20 0.5400 30.2750 0.00 0.00 2.16
Johnson & Johnson JNJ 2014-12-09 108.05 0.2220 23.94 0.7000 34.4250 1.48 1.30 2.80
Kellogg Company K 2014-06-16 67.21 0.6800 46.00 0.4600 100.6800 0.00 0.00 1.84
Kellogg Company K 2015-12-15 70.96 0.7370 52.30 0.5000 105.3460 1.14 1.09 2.00
Kimberly-Clark KMB 2011-04-04 65.38 0.5380 35.44 0.7000 51.1730 0.00 0.00 2.80
Kimberly-Clark KMB 2016-01-05 126.48 0.3930 50.99 0.8800 58.3340 1.44 1.26 3.52
Lowe's Cos Inc LOW 2010-11-03 21.92 0.2580 5.50 0.1100 50.2580 0.00 0.00 0.44
Lowe's Cos Inc LOW 2015-11-04 74.21 0.2040 15.14 0.2800 54.2890 2.75 2.55 1.12
MDU Resources Group Inc. MDU 2010-07-01 18.03 0.4200 7.88 0.1580 50.4200 0.00 0.00 0.63
MDU Resources Group Inc. MDU 2016-01-04 18.56 0.5860 10.88 0.1900 58.5910 1.38 1.20 0.76
3M Co MMM 2010-06-12 78.30 0.0840 6.30 0.5250 12.0840 0.00 0.00 2.10
3M Co MMM 2015-12-14 156.51 0.0890 13.92 1.0250 13.6650 2.21 1.95 4.10
Constituent Name Symbol Bought Shares Price Num Shares Div Income Div/Share Total Shares IncomeIncrease Div Percent Increase Yearly Div
Northwest Natural Gas Co NWN 2010-08-13 45.93 0.4400 20.85 0.4150 50.6990 0.00 0.00 1.66
Northwest Natural Gas Co NWN 2015-11-13 46.77 0.5950 27.83 0.4675 60.1230 1.33 1.13 1.87
Procter & Gamble PG 2010-11-15 64.33 0.3830 24.69 0.4820 51.6340 0.00 0.00 1.93
Procter & Gamble PG 2015-11-16 76.09 0.5100 38.81 0.6629 59.0910 1.57 1.38 2.65
Piedmont Natural Gas Inc PNY 2010-10-15 28.10 0.4980 14.74 0.2800 50.4980 0.00 0.00 1.12
Piedmont Natural Gas Inc PNY 2015-10-27 39.33 0.4940 20.47 0.3300 59.4300 1.39 1.18 1.32
RLI Corp RLI 2011-03-18 54.72 0.2560 13.93 0.2900 48.2830 0.00 0.00 1.16
RLI Corp RLI 2015-12-22 59.71 0.3890 23.26 0.1900 122.8370 1.67 0.66 0.76
RPM International Inc. RPM 2010-07-30 18.56 0.5340 10.25 0.2050 50.5340 0.00 0.00 0.82
RPM International Inc. RPM 2015-10-30 45.65 0.3510 15.68 0.2750 57.3680 1.53 1.34 1.10
Questar Corp STR 2011-06-13 17.60 0.4420 7.63 0.1530 50.4420 0.00 0.00 0.61
Questar Corp STR 2015-12-14 18.71 0.6420 12.01 0.2100 57.8280 1.57 1.37 0.84
Sysco Corp SYY 2010-10-22 29.48 0.4320 12.50 0.2500 50.4320 0.00 0.00 1.00
Sysco Corp SYY 2016-01-22 39.55 0.4510 17.98 0.3000 58.4600 1.44 1.20 1.20
Texas Instruments TXN 2010-08-16 24.28 0.2400 6.00 0.1200 50.2400 0.00 0.00 0.48
Texas Instruments TXN 2015-11-16 57.86 0.3660 21.18 0.3800 56.1120 3.53 3.17 1.52
Valspar Corp VAL 2011-01-14 35.30 0.2890 9.96 0.1800 55.6470 0.00 0.00 0.72
Valspar Corp VAL 2015-12-16 82.83 0.2350 19.49 0.3300 59.3040 1.96 1.83 1.32
Vectren Corp VVC 2010-12-01 25.90 0.6540 17.25 0.3450 50.6540 0.00 0.00 1.38
Vectren Corp VVC 2015-12-01 42.13 0.5610 23.64 0.4000 59.6720 1.37 1.16 1.60
Constituent Name Symbol Bought Shares Price Num Shares Div Income Div/Share Total Shares IncomeIncrease Div Percent Increase Yearly Div
Walgreen Co WAG 2010-12-11 36.43 0.2570 9.33 0.1750 53.5580 0.00 0.00 0.70
Walgreen Co WBA 2015-12-11 83.96 0.2490 20.87 0.3600 58.2140 2.24 2.06 1.44
WGL Holdings Inc WGL 2010-05-01 35.83 0.2950 10.57 0.3775 28.2950 0.00 0.00 1.51
WGL Holdings Inc WGL 2015-11-02 61.36 0.2560 15.71 0.4625 34.2320 1.49 1.23 1.85
Exxon Mobil Corp XOM 2011-03-10 84.38 0.2860 24.39 0.4400 55.7210 0.00 0.00 1.76
Exxon Mobil Corp XOM 2013-12-10 95.84 0.3870 36.51 0.6300 58.3360 1.50 1.43 2.52
Intel INTC 2010-06-01 21.42 0.3330 7.09 0.1580 45.3330 0.00 0.00 0.63
Intel INTC 2013-12-02 23.63 0.4730 11.17 0.2250 50.1180 1.58 1.42 0.90
AT&T T 2010-08-02 25.94 0.8030 21.00 0.4200 50.8030 0.00 0.00 1.68
AT&T T 2014-11-03 34.84 0.8050 27.75 0.4600 61.1270 1.32 1.10 1.84
Coca-Cola Co KO 2011-04-01 66.34 0.3620 23.70 0.4700 50.7780 0.00 0.00 1.88
Coca-Cola Co KO 2015-10-01 39.51 0.9380 37.08 0.3300 113.3050 1.56 0.70 1.32
Sonoco Products Co SON 2010-12-10 33.04 0.5150 16.95 0.2800 61.0530 0.00 0.00 1.12
Sonoco Products Co SON 2015-09-10 38.68 0.6200 23.98 0.3500 69.1240 1.41 1.25 1.40
Constituent Name Symbol Bought Shares Price Num Shares Div Income Div/Share Total Shares IncomeIncrease Div Percent Increase Yearly Div

Image generated from an applet on S & P site, assumed allowed under Fair Use. This shows that the Dividend Aristocrats (the blue line) outperformed the S & P 500 (the green line) over the past ten years.

This site has a disclaimer.


Rambling Thoughts About A Spanish Lady

I got an email recently from my Spanish non-girlfriend. I have not seen her since I left Chicago, but we have kept in touch via email. Now she is back in Spain. Her father is in the hospital. I got the impression from her last, brief email a month ago it’s serious. I have a feeling that soon, she will come back to Chicago one last time to wrap things up, and go back to Spain for good.

Romantic opportunities do not come often for me. Women who are not spiritual or religious are pretty rare. Women who do not smoke or drink alcohol are rare. Women who fit both categories are rarer still. She did. And she did not seem to hate me.

Unfortunately, she did not seem interested in any sort of serious relationship with me either. For a very brief period, I thought she might be interested. Either I missed the opportunity, or, more likely, I was just kidding myself. I have sometimes joked (mostly to myself) that my only hope of getting married is finding a woman who is willing to lay on her back to get a green card. And then a foreign woman who meets me three criteria (along with the unstated fourth of not being fat), and it’s hard to not let my imagination run away.

As a sidenote, I have noticed that women seem more likely than men to drink alcohol, at least in the atheist/skeptical community. It seems odd to pride yourself on your logic and critical thinking skills, and then turn around and knowingly ingest a toxic, addictive substance. And be proud of yourself for it to boot. I think it is really a dumb thing for women in particular. They are at a disadvantage in just about every way; two I am thinking of are finance and health care. So why spend money on something that destroys your health? When I was in Chicago, I noticed most of the men did not drink alcohol, while most of the women did. I not only joined the atheist/skeptical community to be part of a community, but also to find a woman. No such luck. I sometimes wish my libido had an “off” switch.

There was another women who did not drink alcohol, but she showed up once and never came back. I was unemployed at the time, and not feeling my sexiest.

The Spanish Lady did not seem interested in being in a relationship with anyone. I don’t know if that is a good thing, or not. She did not seem happy with her life, and seemed resigned to the idea of going back to Spain to take care of her family. I admit, I had an agenda/fantasy of my own. But what’s wrong with wanting to do something for her? Who will be there for her? Another woman in Chicago thought the Spanish Lady’s family (or at least some of them) wanted her to go back so they could live off her money. I don’t think she had a lot, but she works for the Spanish government, so she might have a pension. I just want to make her moan and scream during anal sex and not drink booze or go to church. I want her body and her mind, not her money. Maybe that is wanting to use her. But in the fantasy world in my head, she would love every minute of it.

I know one of her brothers is severely autistic, and lives in an institution in Spain. A couple of other siblings have some issues as well. But as I stated, I don’t think she is really choosing this. I have always felt that she felt pushed into that decision and seemed resigned to it. In my defense, I did not set out to save her. The complexity of her situation became apparent to me over time.

I know it’s kind of sad to be pining away for a woman I have not seen in a few years. But things aren’t going well in Austin. I spend a lot of time in my car going to and from work. I am trying to learn a new programming language so I can get a different job, and it is taking me a lot longer than I thought. And my current job is not going too well. I did not like my brief time in a startup, but big companies seem to have a lot of chaos as well. I need a job where I can work on only one thing at a time.

Plus no woman. There are not too many at the atheist/skeptical meetups that I go to. It is still pretty guy-heavy. There was one geared towards women, but I think the leader of that one broke up with the guy leading all the other ones. And I have started going to yoga, but sometimes that seems pretty heavy on the lez.

Other people seem to find new romantic sexual partners like putting on a new pair of shoes. I still cannot figure out how to get anywhere with women. For me, it is like women are from Mars and men are from Venus. Or whatever. Sometimes I am a bit envious of gay people. It seems like there is less misunderstanding. It seems like (in some contexts) it is okay for them to be more open about sexual interest. Aside from people trying to kill them and take away their civil rights, it seems like an okay life. (I am estranged from big chunks of my family, so that part I am used to.)

I always plan on getting stuff done every weekend (work on software, blog posts, meditate, work out), but I just surf the net and don’t get much done. On top of that, I am gaining weight. Working out is not a problem, but eating less is. The only part of my body that ever gains any muscle is the inside of my thighs. It can make life uncomfortable.

Then again, if the Spanish Lady comes back to Chicago, it’s not like she would want to be with me. And she might not want to stay anyway. Illinois has gone downhill with Rauner. Like Wisconsin with Walker. And Louisiana with Jindal. And Kansas with Brownback. Seriously, people: state elections matter.

Except here in Texas, where the Republicans just get crazier and crazier. When they are not denying climate change and talking about secession, they are asking for federal disaster relief.

Plus, if Trump is president, the Spanish Lady will almost certainly stay away. I think a lot of people in foreign countries will stay out of the US.

Image from Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. A larger version is here; you can read some of the labels in the larger version. North is towards the upper left corner.


2016-04 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for April, 2016.

The monthly dividend income came out to $270.38. The yearly income total for 2016 through the end of the month was $1622.67.

The income for April, 2015 was $612.48, and the yearly income for 2015 through the end of April was $1179.82.

There was not too much going on. The “A” months of January, April, July, October (as David Fish labels them in his Dividend Champions spreadsheet) do not feature too many companies paying dividends.

Piedmont Natural Gas Co. (PNY) is still on the list. They are being acquired by Duke Energy (DUK), which pays out in the “C” months of March, June, September and December. So those months will get a little more top-heavy. But for some reason it always took a few days for the PNY dividend to get processed. I have no idea why this is. Most dividends that I receive show up in my account the day they are paid. They days the companies said I would get them when the dividends are announced in a press release several weeks ahead of time.

But PNY is always late for some reason. I have no idea why. This month I finally got the money the last trading day in April. For some reason it bugs me. I hope DUK is more on the ball.

My order for more Air Products and Chemicals (APD) was not filled, so I will not get a boost in my APD payout in May. Perhaps in August. My quest to get more money in the “A” and “B” months continues.

Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each April from 2011 through 2016:

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2016-04 1622.67 270.38 461.86 471.14
2015-04 1441.12 261.30 409.21 395.68
2014-04 1130.58 196.43 323.64 303.18
2013-04 898.59 179.23 262.82 289.40
2012-04 1010.82 218.56 274.05 271.21
2011-04 848.29 203.10 216.30 179.46

Here are the stocks and the income amounts for April, 2016:

  • Automatic Data Processing: $31.68
  • Coca-Cola Co: $46.20
  • MDU Resources Group Inc.: $10.99
  • Kimberly-Clark: $53.67
  • Illinois Tool Works: $30.50
  • Sysco Corp: $18.12
  • Chubb Corp: $41.93
  • Piedmont Natural Gas Inc: $21.40
  • RPM International Inc.: $15.89

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use. This coin is from the 11th century.

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Thoughts On Lists

I have been thinking a lot lately about lists. Partially because I have been getting into functional programming languages (like Clojure, Common Lisp and Racket), and partially because I have been thinking about thinking and learning (metacognition). I think that lists can be a form of mental discipline and a tool in understanding the world.

I am also trying to figure out how to use them properly. As Funakoshi said, the art must serve the man, not the other way around.

Sometimes I make to-do lists, especially on weekends or while at work. I don’t always accomplish every task on the list. But it does help me get started and stop wasting time (like surfing the net all day). I also try to keep a list of things I need from the grocery store. Many times I would tell myself that I need something in particlar, then go to the grocery store and NOT buy what I had been telling myself I need, only to remember it when I got back.

James Altucher talks about making a list of ten ideas every day to work his idea muscle. (I admit I have already fallen off that wagon.)

Recently, I found an article by Paul Graham on lists. He attacks articles in magazines that are just lists. His one example is “Seven ways to please your man” in Cosmo. He instead praises the essay, because it allows for exploration and is more sophisticated.

I don’t agree with all of it. He seems to be committing a couple of logical fallacies here: Fallacy of composition, and straw man.

“The greatest weakness of the list of n things is that there’s so little room for new thought. The main point of essay writing, when done right, is the new ideas you have while doing it. A real essay, as the name implies, is dynamic: you don’t know what you’re going to write when you start. It will be about whatever you discover in the course of writing it.”

You could discover new things while making a list. Maybe he knows more people who work at magazines than I do, but he seems to have a bizarre idea that he always knows how people think about things.

Maybe, as he says, Cosmo has an article about “7 Things He Won’t Tell You about Sex.” How does he know that they decided from the start to come up with seven? Maybe there were ten, and they felt that some were not very good. Or they cut some out for space. Or they started out thinking the article would be a list of 5, and came up with two more.

And this from a guy who pushes a language whose name derives from “list processing”

“This can only happen in a very limited way in a list of n things. You make the title first, and that’s what it’s going to be about. You can’t have more new ideas in the writing than will fit in the watertight compartments you set up initially. And your brain seems to know this: because you don’t have room for new ideas, you don’t have them.”

He seems to be assuming that when you make a list, you ALWAYS decide ahead of time how many items your list will have, and you ALWAYS come up with that number, and you NEVER delete any items.

“An essay can go anywhere the writer wants.”

But I as the reader have a right to decide what to do with my time. If you are going to meander, I will do something else. You want to dilly-dally, do it on someone else’s time.

“A real essay, as the name implies, is dynamic: you don’t know what you’re going to write when you start.”

A list can also be dynamic. You can change it as you make it, and as your understanding of a topic changes. I know Paul Graham tells me otherwise, but I know it’s true. I have done it, and I have seen others do it. Maybe that is what happens when Paul Graham makes lists. If so, that’s his problem.

“Because the main points are unconnected, the list of n things is random access. There’s no thread of reasoning you have to follow. You could read the list in any order.”

Not necessarily. Isn’t a mathematical proof a form of list? You could break a narrative story into a list. An outline is really a nested list. When you get a set of directions it is usually in the form of a list. Try boiling an egg in any order sometime.

But, Paul Graham writes essays, and he can’t tell you that essays are better if he doesn’t make you think that all lists are bad.

He also has an “essay” that is a list: Six Principles for Making New Things

Maybe there is a mathematical definition of list that he is using.

Aren’t sets, stacks and queues types of lists? Aren’t maps and trees?

“You make the title first, and that’s what it’s going to be about. You can’t have more new ideas in the writing than will fit in the watertight compartments you set up initially. And your brain seems to know this: because you don’t have room for new ideas, you don’t have them.”

What makes you think that is the way that everybody makes lists? He seems to think he knows what is going through everybody’s head all the time and that he understands how other people think better than they do.

Lists can be used as a tool of exploration as well.

The military uses a style of writing called “bottom line up front”. I wonder how they would react to Paul Graham telling them that writing should be about exploring. Give someone the conclusion first, then let the reader decide if they want to drill into the details. What he calls exploring, some might call self-indulgence.

He praises essays because the essay is more “sophisticated” than a list.

Here is the origin of word sophisticated from Dictionary.com:

1350-1400; Middle English (adj. and v.) < Medieval Latin sophisticātus (past participle of sophisticāre to tamper with, disguise, trick with words), equivalent to Latin sophistic (us) (see sophistic ) + -ātus -ate1

Plus, sometimes people feel that working within constraints can make them more creative (see James Altucher’s site for some thoughts on this).

I think this is more of Paul Graham telling himself he’s a special snowflake. “Smarter programmers use Lisp! And I use Lisp! What a coincidence. People who write essays are smarter than people who write lists. I write essays and don’t like lists. Isn’t that amazing?”

I think Paul Graham is a smart guy. Judging from his essays, I don’t think he is as smart as he thinks he is.

I think people should use lists more. I get field tickets for a very large, complex web app used by a state government in the US. Sometimes parsing what people are asking can be difficult. Writing out what they did when they encountered the problem in the form of a numbered list would make my life easier.

And a lot of stuff about this app is not written down. Or how to use some of the tools to support the app (like source control). Having all this written down in list format would make my life easier.

Image by Pierre Bonnard, from The Barnes Foundation, assumed allowed under Fair Use.


2016-03 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for March, 2016.

The monthly dividend income came out to $732.13. The yearly income total for 2016 through the end of the month was $1352.29.

The income for March, 2015 was $612.48, and the yearly income for 2015 through the end of March was $1179.82.

This is the first time that a month has brought in more than $700 without the special RLI dividend. Granted, that is partly because I got money from Eaton, in which March is kind of an aberation: Their other payout months are May, August and November. So their other payout should be February. Sort of like KO pays out in April, July and October, and instead of paying in January pulls the first one back into December. Maybe Warren Buffett likes to throw a big Christmas party.

Anyway, deviations from normal schedules like that can make comparisons difficult, and is partially why I have started looking at moving averages.

I did enter an order for more shares of Air Products and Chemicals (APD). For some reason my broker lowered my target price. But if everyone sells in May, I might get it then. I missed the ex-date, or the record date, or both. Frankly I am not sure which comes first, and I really don’t care. I plan on holding these stocks for the rest of my life. Buying a company three or six months later is not the end of the world.

In other news, I still have CVX and XOM. A lot of oil firms are having issues with the price of oil dropping. I think XOM be able to keep increasing its dividend. CVX might cut it. They have kept it constant. We shall see. It looks like one of the most reliable industries for dividend investors might drop off the radar for a while, if not for good.

Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each March from 2011 through 2016:

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2016-03 1352.29 732.13 450.76 470.38
2015-03 1179.82 612.48 393.27 390.27
2014-03 934.15 437.87 311.38 301.75
2013-03 719.36 360.85 239.79 292.68
2012-03 792.26 294.68 264.09 269.92
2011-03 645.19 229.43 200.06 163.15

Here are the stocks and the income amounts for March, 2016:

  • AFLAC Inc: $44.16
  • American States Water Co: $25.34
  • Black Hills Corp: $15.40
  • Bemis Co Inc: $30.22
  • Vectren Corp: $23.87
  • Archer-Daniels-Midland Co: $35.25
  • Johnson & Johnson: $76.22
  • Chevron: $25.86
  • Emerson Electric Co: $26.77
  • Honeywell International: $59.50
  • Sonoco Products Co: $45.85
  • Exxon Mobil Corp: $84.04
  • Walgreen Co: $20.96
  • 3M Co: $15.17
  • Questar Corp: $12.72
  • Dover Corp: $9.83
  • Consolidated Edison Inc: $21.13
  • Kellogg Company: $52.67
  • RLI Corp: $24.12
  • Valspar Corp: $19.57
  • Eaton Corporation: $63.48

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

This site has a disclaimer.


Thoughts On Deep Space Nine

I don’t know if “Deep Space Nine” is my favorite “Star Trek” series, but it is the top choice of a lot of fans.

It was certainly different than The Original Series or “The Next Generation“. There are a lot of quotes on Memory Alpha from the producers that they wanted to do something different in the Star Trek universe, and they certainly did. But sometimes they seemed to be bad-mouthing the prior series. It is easy to look back a couple of decades later and say that DS9 made TNG look like it was standing still, that in some ways TNG was just a re-hash of TOS.

In some ways, TNG was a re-hash of TOS. But I don’t think it could have been anything else. At first, a lot of Star Trek fans did not accept TNG. This was in the early years of the spread of the internet amongst the general population, and pages and posts about why Kirk was better than Picard were all over the net. But after the third season, and “The Best of Both Worlds” in particular, a lot of that stopped and I think TNG was seen as a legitimate incarnation of Star Trek. DS9 producers loved to say they broke the mold, but if TNG did not become successful, there would not have been a mold to break. I think if TNG was not successful, the franchise would probably have ended there.

One thing that was new (for the time) was that DS9 was the first Star Trek to have story arcs. This is common now in prime time television, but then it was pretty new. Although, reading through the articles on Memory Alpha, I think they came up with some of the story arcs while the series was in progress. There were a couple of episodes in the first season about alien groups on the other side of the worm hole that we never heard from again and seemed to have no connection to the Dominion or the later story arc (“Captive Pursuit”, which I liked, and “Move Along Home”, which stunk then and still does).

I think the first season of TOS was the best, and while the other two seasons had good episodes, the show did get weaker as time went on. It seems like the spin-off series have all needed a couple of seasons to really find their groove. DS9 was no different.

TOS was pretty much a three-man show: Kirk, Spock and McCoy. There were a few episodes with Scotty as the main character, but there were no episodes primarily about Uhura, Sulu or Chekov. TNG was more of an ensemble show, and that seemed to continue through the rest of the franchise. I think Enterprise was mostly a three-character show (Archer, T’Pol and Trip), closer to TOS, but it was trying to be a franchise show. I think the episodes with Travis and Hoshi as the primary characters were some of the weakest. I think the producers never figured out how to use them. I am not a tv show producer; maybe that sort of thing is only obvious in hindsight.

But DS9 not only figured out how to use all the characters, even the recurring characters were strong and used well.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.


2016-02 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for February, 2016.

The monthly dividend income came out to $383.08. The yearly income total for 2016 through the end of the month was $620.16.

The income for February, 2015 was $353.85, and the yearly income for 2015 through the end of February was $567.34.

One reason the income went up is that I bought more shares of Texas Instruments (TXN). I put a limit order in a few months ago for what I thought was a good price. Immediately afterward the stock market as a whole went up. Then it went down and the order was filled.

I am thinking about buying more shares of Air Products and Chemicals (APD). I have a few thousand dollars from the Chubb/ACE merger (now CB). I think it is a good company to invest in. It was one of the first stocks I bought. When I started buying, I spent around $1000 on each company, buying as many shares as I could get for that amount of money. For APD, it was about 14 shares. So now I get just under a tenth of a share every quarter. It is taking a loooong time to accumulate new shares. The money from CB will go quite a ways. I might get closer to half a share of APD a quarter.

3M (MMM) is another stock that I bought very few shares of for $1000, and is accumulating very slowly. However, MMM pays out in March/June/September/December, and I would like to balance things out a bit more.

Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each February from 2012 through 2016:

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2016-02 $620.16 $383.08 $524.89 $460.41
2015-02 $567.34 $353.85 $492.40 $375.72
2014-02 $496.28 $336.61 $363.62 $295.33
2013-02 $358.51 $248.39 $348.20 $287.16
2012-02 $497.58 $308.90 $337.51 $264.48

Here are the stocks and the income amounts for February, 2016:

  • ABM Industries Inc: $9.36
  • AT&T: $48.48
  • Verizon: $57.07
  • WGL Holdings Inc: $15.83
  • Lowe’s Cos Inc: $15.20
  • Vodafone: $16.52
  • Air Products & Chemicals Inc: $12.98
  • Texas Instruments: $40.32
  • Clorox Co: $44.02
  • Northwest Natural Gas Co: $28.11
  • Colgate-Palmolive: $42.03
  • Hormel Foods Corp: $14.02
  • Procter & Gamble: $39.14

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

This site has a disclaimer.



Thoughts On An Eyewitness Account

One of the topics of this website is that “Technology Is Useless“. A lot of what is going on in technology (or what people consider technology) is useless to society at large. They think they are “solving problems”, but they are not even first world problems (like finding a cab). The companies people fawn over are not doing anything about climate change, or energy, or water. People in the startup cult are not as smart as they think they are. And I think a lot of them live in a bubble.

There is a guy living in Silicon Valley named Michael O. Church (henceforth MOC). Until recently, his site had a lot of posts that articulate this theme better than I have. But before I got around to writing this post, he took down most of his posts. You can find them archived here. [1]

From what I could gather before he removed his posts, he has been a software developer in SV for several years. He worked at Google, and was booted out due to politics. He started writing about the culture in Silicon Valley, and criticizing the startup fetish that has taken over our culture.

He has angered a lot of people in SV, which has hurt him when he has had to seek employment. One person that he angered is Paul Graham, programmer, author, founder of incubator Y Combinator. YC published the news aggregation site Hacker News.

PG has written a few books about a language called Common Lisp. He used that to make a company he sold to Yahoo in the late 1990s, which made him rich. He has written a few more books, and his essays on his website are pretty influential in “the Valley”. He started YC in 2005. Now, some VC firms will only invest in companies that are YC alums.

After the dot com bust, working at a startup had little appeal for a lot of people, especially outside the confines of SV. MOC credits PG with rehabilitating the image of startups via his essays and YC, and making them appealling places to work. MOC wrote this is good, but it has gone too far. Now startups have gone from being a stage a company goes through, to being an end in itself. It’s now a lifestyle. MOC wrote that PG is partly responsible for the “bro” culture we see in SV today.

MOC wrote that he has never met PG, but PG knows who he is and hates MOC. YC is an investor in Quora, and leaned on Quora to ban MOC from the site. Somewhere in the archives MOC lists a few more ways that PG has tried to make life more difficult for MOC, usually indirectly, and usually via YC leaning on companies to not hire MOC.

Why would PG hate MOC? Because MOC is living proof that PG is selling the world a bill of goods. PG tells people that if you work or found a startup, you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams. Apply to be in YC! Change your life and the world for the better! Or come to SV and work for a company that has been through YC. It’s the ticket to fame and fortune!

MOC is a smart guy. He worked at a few startups, and it did not work out. He has written posts explaining that the only people that win in SV are the VCs. They always win. Sometimes the founders get rich, but not always. And employees usually wind up wasting years chasing the dream. They get paid below market wages. They are promised “equity”, but either the company goes under, or the half a percent turns out to be not a whole lot when all is said and done. SV is the Wall Street of the West Coast.

MOC is living proof that PG is pretty much putting lipstick on a pig. PG does not need the money. It is probably ego. PG wants a nice legacy. It is hard for most people to admit they are wrong. When you have spent the past decade pushing something, it’s even harder.

MOC also points out that when firms say “We don’t care if you have worked with the language we use; we just want smart people”, they are usually lying. Have you ever noticed these firms rarely hire anyone over 30? It’s not because you get dumb when you are 30. They know it’s harder to sell the false dream to people past a certain age. When you get married, have kids, have to pay off your student loans, and/or realize you will need a LOT of money for retirement, an actual paycheck looks better than equity fairy dust.

Here are a couple of more quotes:

From “Silicon Valley Can Be Beaten“:
Increasingly, true technologists look at the culture of the VC-funded world and realize that it has to die, because marketing experiments using technology have won the decade while the larger goal of improving the human condition has been forgotten. To be a technologist used to mean that one wanted to invest in humanity’s total capital; now, the industry has been swarmed by champion value-capturers. Consequently, the short-term “next quarter” mentality, couched in juvenile lingo about “failing fast”, has won and to have vision is to make oneself a pariah.

From “Don’t Waste Your Time In Crappy Startup Jobs“:
Scientific research changes the world. Large-scale infrastructure projects change the world. Most businesses, on the other hand, are incremental projects, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Startups are not a good vehicle for “changing the world”.

One thing he wrote that I really like and caught my attention is that most of the companies in SV companies are not really technology companies. These companies are marketing experiments using technology.

[1] I have wanted to finish this post for a while, so I am kind of going by memory here. Also, I have never contacted anyone mentioned in this post, including MOC. All opinions/interpretations are my own. Paul Graham does not endorse this post.

Image from Stargate Wiki, assumed allowed under Fair Use.