Thoughts On Tom Petty

There was an article on Bloomberg the day he died (but presumably before he actually did) that reports of his death were false. (I cannot find the article on the Bloomberg site.) Like Jackie Chan. Then a week later, I saw a cartoon about it on Bradblog.com which inspired me to do some more searching.

So it was more Abe Vigoda than Jackie Chan.

I was a fan back in high school and into college. I had all the Heartbreakers records up through “Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough)”, and his first solo record. But eventually I got out of the loop. When I was younger, I did not want to become one of those older people who just listened to the same stuff from their youth. But that is kind what happened to me.

I used to listen to WXRT a lot in my car. But then I moved closer to the lake, and I took the CTA to work, so I spent a LOT less time driving. In addition, at some point I lost the antenna on my car. I think a car wash tore it off. I tried a few times to use a radio in my apartment to get WXRT, but for some reason the reception was terrible. I have fallen behind on Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan as well. And I have no idea who the new bands are in rock and roll. I will try to pick some of it up again. I was so out the loop on Tom Petty that I did not find out about the death of Howie Epstein and the departure of Stan Lynch until several years after both events happened.

One thing I did find odd about Tom Petty is: Why did he do solo records? He was the leader of the Heartbreakers, he sang, he wrote the songs. I don’t see what he was not getting from that arrangement. On the other hand, you could argue he never really did a solo record. Mike Campbell was on all his records (except the Traveling Wilburys, which obviously is not a solo project). I always felt that unless Petty worked on his own without Campbell, he wasn’t really going solo. Granted, Mike Campbell is an amazing guitar player, so I can see why Petty wanted him around. I guess I am using a pretty strict definition of “solo” here.

I know there is a documentary out about him, and an authorized biography of him by Warren Zanes. Apparently Petty felt he made some mistakes in his life there were not in the film, but were discussed in the book.

I did see them live with Bob Dylan on their “True Confessions” tour (June 29, 1986, to be precise).

I also had their live album “Pack Up The Plantation” and the concert film of the same name for their “Southern Accents” tour. I think I taped off of MTV. I think I watched that at least two dozen times. A couple of things that I remember from that is being impressed by both Mike Campbell and the drummer Stan Lynch. I was surprised to later learn that Stan Lynch was not confident in his drumming, but this may have been earlier than the “Southern Accents” tour. But on “Pack Up The Plantation”, he was pretty awesome. And the coolest Heartbreaker ever.

So in addition to looking into what Springsteen and Pearl Jam have been up to, and finding some bands that are more contemporary, I have to catch up on what Tom Petty with and without the Heartbreakers had been up to for more than a decade. Going forward, there may not be any more Tom Petty music that will be new to the world, but there is still some out there that will be new to me.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on their final tour (but NOT the final show), available at Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Why Investing For Dividends Is Better Than Capital Gains

There are many ways to invest in the stock market.

There are a few I will not discuss here, such as options and other derivatives. I don’t have time to try to understand them, and I honestly think that a lot of the people that deal with these instruments on a daily basis do not understand them too well themselves.

I will discuss two ways in this piece. The first is investing for capital gains. This is done by trying to buy at a relatively low price and hoping to sell later at a higher price. The other is investing for cash flow. This is what I do by investing in stocks that increase their dividends every year.

Even when I was growing up, I would hear people say that the way to make money in the stock market is to buy low and sell high. The capital gains model is drilled into people, and most people never become aware of any alternative. I did not until stocks started going down in 2008. It was not until later that I learned that reinvesting dividends are responsible for at least half of the gains in the stock market in the 20th century. Until about the 1980s, investing for dividends was more common. It is a self-reinforcing cycle. Almost every financial site has charts for stock prices. Technical analysis is mostly about looking at charts of the stock price. But there are far fewer charts for dividends.

During the dot-com boom, prices were rising at an accelerating rate. Why invest for a 3% yield when your stock doubles every year? Because eventually it will stop doubling every year. We saw this again in 2008: Many stocks went down in price by a lot, even stocks that paid dividends. But many of those dividend paying stocks still increased their payouts.

I think that capital gains investing is no different than the Greater Fool Theory.

Granted, these are not entirely mutually exclusive. I have said on this site that “price doesn’t matter”. Actually, it does not matter as much to a dividend investor as it does to a capital gains investor. If one of my stocks goes to $0, then I will get no income out of it. (But it would probably have cut its dividend before that happens.) “Price doesn’t matter as much as you think it does” is more accurate, but has a bit less punch as a catchphrase.

You can only sell once. Dividend investing is like having an animal for its milk or eggs or wool. You can milk a cow, harvest a chicken’s eggs and shear a sheep multiple times throughout its life. But you can only get meat from them once. And you can only sell a share of stock once. If you are only owning something in order to sell it later, you only really get the benefit of owning it when you stop owning it. I think that is pretty strange.

I don’t think pigs produce any goods while they are alive, so perhaps pigs are a better analogy to stocks that do not pay dividends.

You can sell a stock that pays dividends for capital gains. That makes investing for dividends better than just investing for price appreciation. But relying solely on price can be more risky. You can only make money one way, and only at one time: when you sell.

And you are assuming that you will get the price you need. Liquidity dries up when people need it the most.

Captial gains investing is more like the fixed mindset, and dividend growth investing is more like the growth mindset.

Selling means you are dipping into principal. Eating your seed corn. Someone once compared selling shares for profit like sawing off a tree branch while you are sitting on the wrong side of the branch.

“Bahram Chubina Kills the Lion-Shaped Ape Monster”, Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Abu’l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020), available at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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2017-09 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for September, 2017.

The monthly dividend income came out to $775.50. The yearly income total for 2017 through the end of the month was $4796.80.

The income for September, 2016 was $720.86, and the yearly income for 2016 through the end of September was $4260.70.

There is not a whole lot to report this month. Just rolling along and making money.

It looks like Exxon might get back to where it was a few months ago. I think eventually oil companies will either become more diverse energy companies or go out of business. Some of them are doing research into other forms of energy and/or funding other companies. They have gone back and forth on this a few times. I think eventually they will need to stick with funding/backing other forms of energy. Some are really backing offshore wind.

I can’t find it now, but I read an article about this energy transition (I think it was on Bloomberg) in which an executive at Royal Dutch Shell pointed out that the reason the Shell Oil Company is called the Shell Oil Company is because they started out in the 19th century importing sea shells into the UK. I guess people liked having shells in their living rooms. But shells have nothing to do with oil, and the founders were not named “Shell”, so it is kind of an odd name for an oil company. He said they survived the 20th century by becoming an oil company, and if they want to make it throught the 21st, they will have to do something in addition to and/or in place of being an oil company. So there is a transition going on.

If you are a startup fanboy who thinks that big companies never do anything right and small companies are never wrong (and always useful), you can pretend all of this is not happening if it makes you feel better.

I will have to look more into what Chevron and Exxon are doing.

Also on my to-do list: Look at water utilities and insurance companies. It would be nice if there were fit women who found this sort of thing exciting.

Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each September from 2011 through 2017:

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2017-09 $4796.80 $775.50 $562.76 $551.05
2016-09 $4260.70 $720.86 $505.47 $499.02
2015-09 $3744.49 $659.59 $443.06 $432.46
2014-09 $2993.02 $536.75 $353.04 $335.39
2013-09 $2374.05 $395.65 $293.78 $294.44
2012-09 $2425.78 $315.21 $283.66 $283.00
2011-09 $2121.78 $243.26 $256.81 $233.01

Here are the stocks and the income amounts for September, 2017:

  • AFLAC Inc: $48.07
  • American States Water Co: $29.79
  • Black Hills Corp: $17.01
  • Bemis Co Inc: $32.40
  • Vectren Corp: $26.28
  • Aqua America: $35.00
  • Archer-Daniels-Midland Co: $39.28
  • Honeywell International: $68.66
  • Sonoco Products Co: $53.38
  • Chevron: $27.77
  • Emerson Electric Co: $53.30
  • Exxon Mobil Corp: $93.42
  • Johnson & Johnson: $88.91
  • 3M Co: $16.67
  • Walgreen Co: $23.92
  • Dover Corp: $11.40
  • Consolidated Edison Inc: $22.95
  • Kellogg Company: $59.25
  • RLI Corp: $28.04

Image of Spell For Not Letting Ani’s Heart Create Opposition Against Him from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, available at Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use (it dates from 1550 BCE, so I assume it’s public domain). The image may not be relevant to the contents.

 

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2017-08 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for August, 2017.

The monthly dividend income came out to $581.69. The yearly income total for 2017 through the end of the month was $4021.30.

The income for August, 2016 was $522.20, and the yearly income for 2016 through the end of August was $3539.84.

There is not a whole lot to report this month. Just rolling along and making money.

I might buy some ETFs. USAA might make some new ones, I might check those out.

I have thought about selling ExxonMobil. I think that oil companies will probably go down in value. I think they will definitely have fewer employees in a few years. I am still above my cost basis. It has gone up because of Hurricane Harvey. Usually hurricanes wipe out investments. Now one is helping bail me out. A hurricane is keeping my Exxon shares afloat.

Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each July from 2011 through 2017:

 

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2017-08 $4021.30 $581.69 $558.23 $546.50
2016-08 $3539.84 $522.20 $493.44 $493.92
2015-08 $3084.90 $406.45 $427.26 $422.22
2014-08 $2456.27 $323.94 $348.41 $323.64
2013-08 $1978.40 $305.11 $279.05 $287.74
2012-08 $2110.57 $316.04 $280.53 $277.00
2011-08 $1878.52 $322.35 $254.56 $225.45

 

Here are the stocks and the income amounts for August, 2017:

  • AT&T: $53.28
  • Verizon: $62.45
  • WGL Holdings Inc: $18.20
  • Clorox Co: $49.85
  • ABM Industries Inc: $9.92
  • Vodafone: $40.13
  • Lowe’s Cos Inc: $22.84
  • Air Products & Chemicals Inc: $64.50
  • Texas Instruments: $55.18
  • Colgate-Palmolive: $45.75
  • Hormel Foods Corp: $16.85
  • Northwest Natural Gas Co: $29.67
  • Procter & Gamble: $42.70
  • Eaton Corporation: $70.37

Portrait of the dogs playing poker by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge (September 18, 1844 – January 24, 1934), available at Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Thoughts On Squat Thrusts

I am starting to have a bit of a fitness crisis. I have not been working out much lately.

For the past few years, I have mostly been doing squat thrusts for fitness. I do between 10 to 20 sets every minute for about 30 minutes. And the issue is that it is making my legs get bigger and making me worried I might become some sort of quad monster.

I know that squatting a lot can make your legs bigger, especially the thighs. It can make the front of your legs bigger. Or the back. Or the outside. For me, sometimes it feels like all the growth is on the inside, particularly near the top. It is starting to crowd my boys out. I sometimes worry that I will have a hard time fitting into a seat on airplanes. Or I will have to spend the reast of my life walking like I have to go number two all the time. Like I have to ride the fudge dragon. Sign the paperwork. Serve an ace. Plus I just don’t like feeling my legs touching.

Sometimes I also feel like I am encouraging uneven leg growth by all my workouts these days. Sometimes I do kicks and punches, and the kicks seem to work the inside more that the rest of my leg.

It’s not that I did not think my legs would get bigger. I wasn’t expected them to get bigger quite that way and cause problems.

I started this about eight years ago. I read an article on the New York Times about workouts people were doing outside of gyms. I read the comments on the story (which are not a cesspool like Breitbart). A lot of people talked about their no-gym workouts. One commenter said they did the “prison workout”. I search for that term, and I found a few pages that used that term for different sequences of burpees. I guess they are easy to do in prison yards or cells. Some people did nothing but burpees for their workouts.

I found out later that some people use the term “prison workout” to refer to workouts using different calisthenic exercises, because those are also easy to do in your cell.

One common sequence was to do countdown sets: A set of 20, then a set of 19, a set of 18, etc down to 0. I thought, “How hard can it be?” So I decided to try it out.

I went down to the small, not very good fitness room in my apartment building. I decided not to jump since I have had knee problems in the past. But I still did the pushup. I think I got down to 16, but I think I did three sets of 16 before I realized that I was losing count. I only lasted ten minutes. How hard can it be? I found out it can be pretty hard.

The next day my arms were tired. But I decided to persevere. So I started doing workouts in my apartment. Eventually I started adding some kicks and punches, jumping jacks, mountain climbers and a few other exercies, but squat thrusts were the basis. I think the squatting helped my knees. I was a bit worried then about my inner thighs getting bigger. But it was not too bad then.

I was unemployed when I started this. I started working out on my own to save some money. I quit the gym not just to save money, but also because I never really talked to anyone when I was there.

After doing this for a year, and after I had another job, I thought about going to a gym again. There was a boxing gym near my apartment. I thought about going in to ask about rates and schedules. But before I ever did, and the class was doing squat thrusts. I thought to myself, why should I pay money so some doofus who barely made it out of high school can yell at me to do something that I am doing on my own anyway.

My first few years in Austin I did not do too many squat thrusts. I was living on the second floor and I was worried about disturbing the people below me. The complex had a nice gym, but I got tired of people knocking on the door like I was some damn doorman. It only happened a few times, but it should not happen at all. Now I am on the first floor in an apartment with a wooden floor.

And now my legs are really starting to get big. To the point where sometimes getting in and out of my car is difficult. And now I have to keep pulling my sweatpants up every few sets. I don’t have the thigh gap the ladies love.

I like squat thrusts because I feel like I am preparing myself for anything. I feel like I can push myself harder than with other workouts. Plus I don’t need to go to the gym. And the squats help my knees.

I don’t have great range of motion, but a bit better that the Crossfit Efficiency burpees. Burpees and squat thrusts have the fundamental motions of the human body. Another issue with the way I do them is that my spine is neutral, and not much arm/shoulder action. But it is my one stop fitness shop.

I found out about this guy named Funk Roberts who really pushes burpees. Funk Roberts said to have feet wide and put your hands in between, but that really hit my inner thighs. Having my hands about shoulder width with feet a few inches behind and pointed out was okay.

Portrait of the Imperial Bodyguard Zhanyinbao (1760) by unknown artist, available at Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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2017-07 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for July, 2017.

The monthly dividend income came out to $331.08. The yearly income total for 2017 through the end of the month was $3439.61.

The income for July, 2016 was $273.36, and the yearly income for 2016 through the end of July was $3017.64.

There is not a whole lot to report this month. Just rolling along and making money.

Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each July from 2011 through 2017:

 

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2017-07 $3439.61 $331.08 $541.56 $541.54
2016-07 $3017.64 $273.36 $464.99 $484.27
2015-07 $2678.45 $263.13 $412.44 $415.35
2014-07 $2132.33 $198.43 $333.77 $322.07
2013-07 $1673.29 $180.57 $258.23 $288.65
2012-07 $1794.53 $219.72 $261.24 $277.53
2011-07 $1556.17 $204.83 $235.96 $211.69

 

Here are the stocks and the income amounts for July, 2017:

Automatic Data Processing: $35.08
Coca-Cola Co: $50.87
MDU Resources Group Inc.: $11.72
Kimberly-Clark: $58.67
Illinois Tool Works: $37.00
Leggett & Platt, Incorporated: $54.36
Chubb Corp: $45.64
Sysco Corp: $19.91
RPM International Inc.: $17.83

 “Le Simoon” by Eugène Fromentin (October 24, 1820 – August 27, 1876), available at Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Notes About Myself to a Penpal

A few times I have found pen pals on Craigslist. The first time was when I was thinking about moving to Austin, and I emailed with a few people to see what Austin is like. A few times I have answered ads in the “Strictly Platonic” section.

Sometimes women want to see a picture, which is odd for “Strictly Platonic”. Usually when I do that, the correspondence stops. (And yes, I send a picture of my face, not Little Elvis (aka “the purple-headed warrior”, or “the love muscle”, or “the master of ceremonies”).

Here is one that I sent recently. This person wanted me to make up stuff about myself, but frankly I thought that was too much effort. Plus she gave me two different email addresses in two successive messages, which I thought was odd.

I am a WM, 4X. I am from Chicago and I have been here almost 5 years. I live in north Austin. I came here for a job in Taylor which did not last long. I now work as a software developer in south Austin. I don’t know if I will stay in Austin for much longer. One thing I miss about Chicago is that I did not need a car there. Plus Texas is hot. I knew it was hot before I showed up here, but it is really really hot. I find it amusing when people complain about how cold it is when it is 40 degrees. If I ever complain about 40 being cold, I will pack up and move north even if I have no job lined up. Perhaps more Texans should try the Wim Hof method.

I have a sister in Florida and a brother in New York. My brother has two kids, ages 3 (boy) and 4 (girl). I have long hair because my brother is bald and my sister-in-law has no brothers, so the only guy who can show my nephew that hair is an option is me. Granted, the last time I went he really only paid attention when his sister thought it was fun to jump on me. Perhaps this is all in vain.

I used to have my hair short. I would ask for “the George Clooney look” because that prevented me from having to answer a lot of questions. (To date none of them have laughed at me or told me I was delusional.) It used to be a guy could just walk into a barbershop and ask for a haircut. Now they want a detailed description. Asking for “the George Clooney look” mostly worked, until one barber/stylist asked me if I wanted “older George Clooney or younger George Clooney?” I drew a blank for a moment since the whole point of “the GC look” was to avoid questions.

I am also growing a beard to look like Sean Connery. However, I have also gained weight, and I have heard through the grapevine that people think I am starting to look like Jack Black. This was not my intent. If visiting my niece and nephew result in nothing but them pulling my hair and scratching my face, I may revise things.

“Self Portrait as Hamlet” by Eugène Delacroix  (26 April 1798 – 13 August 1863), available at Wikiart, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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2017-06 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for June, 2017.

The monthly dividend income came out to $761.91. The yearly income total for 2017 through the end of the month was $3108.53.

The income for June, 2016 was $684.76, and the yearly income for 2016 through the end of June was $2744.28.

There is not a whole lot to report this month. Just rolling along and making money.

One stock I am thinking about buying is Wal-Mart.

One theory going around is that the only reason retail is struggling is because of Amazon. But I think there are other factors as well.

Retail has always been a low margin business. The Great Recession caused people to consume less, and for a lot of people, consumption has not returned to pre-recession levels. So, yes, Amazon is getting a big slice of the pie, but the pie has gotten smaller (or at least is not growing as quickly).

The people who do have money are spending more on travel and food. Plus, despite the dip from the GR, the USA still has more retail space per capita than other countries. Any industry will have a hard time dealing with overcapacity.

Although Amazon is buying Whole Foods (and Wal-Mart is a big player in the grocery space), that might not threaten Wal-Mart as much as people think. WalMart not same clientele as Whole Foods, and when times get tough, people try to spend less money (see this page).

Plus a lot of retailers are owned by private equity firms who only know “financial engineering”, but not how to actually run a business (see this article on Naked Capitalism; also see some of the articles linked to in the preamble). If a big chunk of an industry gets the “strip and flip” model, there will be a lot of casualties. One thing PE firms do is split a retail firm and its real estate into separate entities, then charge the retail firm rent for the land it used to own, increasing its costs. As one commenter pointed out, is retail shrinking because Amazon is expanding, or is Amazon expanding because retail is shrinking?

The point is, I don’t think the story behind the troubles in the retail sector is as simple as “Amazon”.

One counter to the “Amazon eats the world” story is that Wal-Mart is trying to adapt. Walmart is working on e-commerce, and that part of their business is growing (see this page and this page).  Wal-Mart has closed some stores. That is pretty huge in my opinion. For a long time, they thought the answer to all their problems was to just open more stores. And for a long time, it worked.

I think Wal-Mart is taking Amazon very seriously. Wal-Mart is trying to prevent some vendors from running apps on AWS (see this page). Moments ago the fecal matter departed the imaginary realm.

On the other hand, you still see articles like this: Wal-Mart Asks Employees to Deliver Packages on Their Way Home. So to a certain degree, it is the same old Wal-Mart. Stay classy, Bentonville.

Amazon going after everything (see this page and this page). If you look at oil, utilities, it has looked like a lot of dividend industries might be going through a lot of change. Amazon is targeting a lot of them. How are will they go? Who knows. But I think that once Bezos steps away from Amazon, any potential threat will diminish.

Here is a table with the year-to-date amounts, the monthly amounts, and the three- and twelve-month moving averages for each June from 2011 through 2017:

 

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2017-06 $3108.53 $761.91 $539.42 $536.73
2016-06 $2744.28 $684.76 $464.00 $483.42
2015-06 $2415.32 $612.21 $411.83 $409.95
2014-06 $1933.90 $522.86 $333.10 $320.58
2013-06 $1492.72 $351.48 $257.79 $291.91
2012-06 $1574.81 $305.84 $260.85 $276.29
2011-06 $1351.34 $236.50 $235.38 $203.23

 

Here are the stocks and the income amounts for June, 2017:

  • AFLAC Inc: $47.73
  • American States Water Co: $28.12
  • Black Hills Corp: $16.90
  • Bemis Co Inc: $32.18
  • Vectren Corp: $26.10
  • Aqua America: $32.52
  • Archer-Daniels-Midland Co: $38.98
  • Emerson Electric Co: $52.86
  • Honeywell International: $68.31
  • Sonoco Products Co: $52.98
  • Exxon Mobil Corp: $92.54
  • Chevron: $27.48
  • 3M Co: $16.58
  • Walgreen Co: $22.32
  • Johnson & Johnson: $88.34
  • Dover Corp: $10.61
  • Consolidated Edison Inc: $22.77
  • Kellogg Company: $56.66
  • RLI Corp: $27.93

“The Coin Collector” by Joos van Craesbeeck (c. 1605/06 – c. 1660), available at Moo Of I site, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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2017-05 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for May, 2017.

The monthly dividend income came out to $531.68. The yearly income total for 2017 through the end of the month was $2346.62.

The income for May, 2016 was $436.85, and the yearly income for 2016 through the end of May was $2059.52.

There is not a whole lot to report this month. Just rolling along and making money.

I did get a WGL payment. I think there will be three more before the acquisition by AltaGas is complete.

I know that last month I said it was not an argument against DGI that WGL was being bought out. A counter might be that after the buyout, I will no longer be getting that money from WGL. That is true. But that also is not an argument against DGI in my opinion.

Generally, nobody acquires a company that is not profitable. I know I am always saying price is not as important to DG investors as it is to other investors, and that is true, but that does not mean I am against taking a capital gain when I have to. I spent $974 on WGL when I first bought it. When I got the payout from WGL on May 1, my shares were worth $2,942.17, for a gain of $1967.77, which I can then use to buy another DG stock.

And as to why I would take a capital gain “when I have to”, my goal is to buy DGI stocks and use them as an income stream for years, ideally for the rest of my life. Buying low to sell high sounds nice, but does not always work. It tends to stop working when people need it to work the most, like the dot com bubble or the meltdown during the Great Recession. People tend to need a higher price the most when they are least likely to get it. Then they truly understand free markets. I don’t care if you paid $80/share for a stock that is now selling at $40/share. Why should I pay you $80 when everybody else is selling at $40? I don’t care if you owe the bank $350K on your mortgage and you put a deck on your house and redid your bathroom. If all the houses in your area are going for $300K, that’s what you’re getting. End of story.

We saw a lot of stocks go down in price during those two meltdowns yet still increase their dividends. DGI performs better in a crisis than the capital gains/buy-low-sell-high model that most people go by. It might not always work, but the last two times things fell aprt it worked better. Past performance may not guarantee future results, but I would rather rely on patterns than dreams.

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 2017:

Month YTD Amount 3MMA 12MMA
2017-05 $2346.62 $531.68 $553.90 $530.30
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, 2017:

  • ABM Industries Inc: $9.88
  • AT&T: $52.64
  • Verizon: $61.70
  • WGL Holdings Inc: $18.09
  • Clorox Co: $47.19
  • Air Products & Chemicals Inc: $64.07
  • Lowe’s Cos Inc: $19.42
  • Colgate-Palmolive: $45.49
  • Hormel Foods Corp: $16.77
  • Northwest Natural Gas Co: $29.43
  • Procter & Gamble: $42.36
  • Texas Instruments: $54.84
  • Eaton Corporation: $69.80

“Where There Are People Money May Be Made” by Adriaen van de Venne (1589 – 1662), available here, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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Meditation Update 2017-05

It is time for another meditation update.

For a while I kind of fell off the wagon.

I was counting my breaths, but I realized my mind was wandering in between counts. My attention would go back to my breath at the end of the exhale, and I would count the next number, but sometimes in the middle my mind would wander off. Then I would end the exhale and tick off the next number. My mind was kind of in a sine wave pattern. Sometimes I did get really distracted and forget where I was. Maybe I never paid close enough attention to the instructions.

So I tried meditating without counting, and I did not last too long. But I am getting better.

Sometimes I meditate in a chair. I like that since my leg does not fall asleep. My leg falling asleep while meditating has been an issue for a long time. I think it is the rotation that causes it. I also sit on some cushions, and I arrange a few so my hips are higher than my shins, sort of like stadium seating.

One issue is that I do a lot of my meditating late at night. Sometimes I have to cut it short because I start falling asleep. I think I would make more progress if I did it earlier, or maybe when I wake up. And I should probably start waking up earlier. I am also starting to transition to a low-carb diet, and I plan on cutting out soda as soon as I get through the cases I have left.

I do mostly insight meditation and mantra meditation. I tried metta, and it was okay. I tried Mahasi-style noting, and it was exhausting. I might try that again later. I also do some Taoist meditation where I control the breath. A lot of people try to control the breath when they meditate, so why not just go with it?

Glenn Morris mentions Taoist meditation in “Path Notes of an American Ninja Master”. He wrote he attended an event with a bunch of Chinese people who practiced qigong. He said many of them were in their 60s and 70s, but none of the men looked older than 50 and none of the women looked older than 40. Women who never look older than 40 is very appealing. I first read that book in my 20s, and the point about eternally-40 Chinese women did not really register. I re-read the book a year ago, and it stuck.

I also started attending weekly sittings with Mariposa Sangha here in Austin. They meet in Trinity United Methodist Church, like CFI. They/we meet every Thursday at 7. There is 30 minutes of sitting meditation, 15 minutes of walking meditation, then 15 minutes of sitting. The walking is optional, which I like. I stay sitting the whole time.

When I was living in Chicago, I would sometimes attend the Chicago Weekly Sitting Meditation Group which usually met every Monday at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on Addison; sometimes they meet at Montrose Beach. They did 30 minutes of sitting, and then 10 minutes of walking. Everybody sat in a circle on the floor (there are chairs at Trinity), and the walking was around the circle. It would have been kind of awkward to not engage in walking meditation. Every time I do walking meditation, I either want to say something in a low, slooooow voice, act like a Tai Chi mime behind an invisble wall, or I hear the theme from “Chariots of Fire” in my head.

I have never liked walking meditation, and never really saw the point. If I am not developing concentration doing sitting meditation, what will walking meditation do for me? Besides, I walk around all the time anyway. If that was the path to enlightenment, why would anyone need a sangha?

At Mariposa, there is a “dharma talk” after the meditation for about 15 minutes, then 15 minutes of discussion. Sometimes the speaker will mention the Pali suttas, which I like. One thing that always seemed strange about Zen is that they claimed to be Buddhists, yet mostly ignored the Buddha. The Austin Zen Center had a guy giving lectures on the Pali suttas for a while. But most Zen groups talk about the Chinese and Japanese roots of Zen and ignore the Indian.

One change at Mariposa that I think I helped bring about is they ring a bell at the beginning of the meditation period. When I first went, at some undefined point people would start meditating on their own. At the Chicago Weekly Sitting Meditation Group, the organizer would formally start the group, and give basic instructions at the beginning. The first time I went to Mariposa, I started talking to the guy next to me, and after a few minutes I noticed everybody else had stopped talking and had started meditating.

Someone told me they did it that way because in monasteries the monks would go in and out of the meditation hall when they wanted. Which is fine because they live there. Plus, at the end of the dharma talk at Mariposa, everybody bows to the group. If you end the meeting, why not start it?

Also: I just realized that while  they use the word “sutta” and not “sutra” at Mariposa, they say “dharma” and not “dhamma”.

The Butterfly” by Childe Hassam (1859-1935), assumed allowed under Fair Use.

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