Archive for July 2017

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.

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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