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She is Winter      by William Hecht Deep December night and she is spent. She is consumed–like the fields after a greedy harvest. She slumbers—as does the world. Only her essence is sentient, aware. It is a spell: cast in the light of the great moon, it will break with the first rays of the equinox sun. Her hair is black. It is a wave of boreal night that flowed through the glass, swept down her  cheek, and spilled on a pale shoulder.  Things made of night are smooth–and softer by far than anything made from day. She dreams—as does the world–of light and warmth, of aromas and twitching roots, the vibration of launching sprouts: calls to life. If I could dream with her, I would

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About 30 months ago, I left Arizona after having lived there more than half my life. I had grown up in Racine, Wisconsin, and when I left for Arizona to go to graduate school, I had just turned 26.  A marriage, a divorce, and a couple careers later I was 55; my work-life was changing and my father’s health was failing. The decision to move back to Racine was made easier through a series of ever-longer visits back “home,” to the same house I grew up in, the nearby Great Lake, the change of seasons, the mix of industry and farming, and the community that somehow still knew me. Twenty years ago, in conversation with  Karen P______, an AA friend, I heard some words that

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[This post is for entertainment or educational purposes only and does not offer investment advice of any kind. Investments decisions should be made with careful consideration on an individual basis along with a professional.] PUNDITS AND POLLSTERS will soon begin to argue passionately over their predictions for president in 2020. They usually make emotional cases and use tired, second-hand reasoning on either side–sounding much like sports bums at the beginning of a new season. Everybody loves a fortune teller. But despite the minor blips in the polls, the outrage du jour, and the talk of impeachment (and the expanding list of reasons for it), the best predictor of the election–assuming it’s held on schedule–will be the performance of the stock market over the next year.

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Markets

  MY INTRODUCTION to the concept of gold as an investment began in the late 1980s. I was a young stockbroker in Arizona, and while copper mining dominated the extraction industries then, there was still talk of gold mines and claims on thousands of acres that might translate into billions for lucky investors. After the inflation scare of the late 1970s (shortly after the US abandoned the gold standard), confidence in the financial system had eroded. Gold was seen as a way to preserve purchasing power if a currency kept losing purchasing power (due to inflation). Even as prices were coming down in the late 1980s, investors called in to arrange purchases of gold coins and silver bars. They brought guns and family. Precious metals

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[This piece, taken from the writing collection of the same title, is re-posted as an anniversary tribute. Dad died on August 12, 2013. ] The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder is my favorite book. It is probably also the most underrated novel of the last century. I never merely re-read it; every few years it summons me, and like a somnambulist I turn to the bookshelf and reach for my copy. A novel such as that is a conjurer’s orb: your hands surround and caress it, your eyes peer into its depths and… a voice sounds. The voice wields the kind of authority that dismisses fiction. The images, the characters—the story chronicles a series of events so rife with Truth that they must have occurred,

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Movies

    NOW THAT MERYL STREEP and Nicole Kidman are both starring in the second season of the TV series Big Little Lies, it’s probably safe to say that the bell is  ringing furiously to signal the end of an important socio-cultural era: the great period of feature films that began almost a century ago.  While there are still feature films and movie theaters, it seems as if most of the films are superhero fantasy or animated films. The energy, the talent, and the money is pouring out of “movies” into these TV-based series. We might have a net maintenance of creativity–perhaps even more. Maintenance of quality? Not as easy to say; the productions are very good and getting better as the market heats up. But

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Markets

[NOTE: This material does not represent investment advice in any way. It is for educational purposes only. Investing is personal. See your personal guru before making decisions.] Bulls can live 20 years, but they aren’t much good to the herd after ten. Bull markets are probably the same. This one is ten years’ long in the tooth, but it’s weathered a number of “storms” along the way, so many investors could need to get quite scared before they sell. The scariest thing for me is the global trend toward authoritarianism; you can check a lot of boxes to compare the first part of the last century with today. I could probably list six or seven parallels. Protectionism is a big one. Wealth inequality is another. That

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In my mother’s kitchen, and taped to the door of a cabinet where cups and plates are kept, is a laminated Catholic Diocese card. The card is divided into two distinct sections. The top part is titled The Corporal Works of Mercy. The “works” are ministrations to be made and observations to be kept in caring for –to name some of them–the poor, the sick, and the dead. The lower part describes The Spiritual Works of Mercy. This section addresses, among other items, forgiveness toward the wretched and prayers for the dead.  The Diocese card made it clear that Mercy took the form of both Thought and Deed. Earlier this week, after a spate of cool, damp weather had broken and given way to a

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Markets

[NOTE; This information does not constitute investment advice whatsoever. It is intended for education and entertainment only. Investment decisions should be made with the personalized attention of a professional] Stock markets follow patterns because people in groups follow patterns. One very reliable such pattern is that during major market corrections, the indexes tend to drop and then correct (bounce back) 50% before they resume the downward trend. That’s where we are now. Note the bounce is almost exactly half the distance back to the highs . The market dropped and just completed a 50% retracement or bounce. If a larger correction is coming, this would be the time to step aside. But you don’t get to know in advance. Today’s action is pretty weak and

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[Author’s Note: this year marks my 25th anniversary] Until I saw the date, February 2, it hadn’t occurred to me that it was my “birthday” again. This birthday–which is more of an anniversary–marks for me the first day of uninterrupted sobriety 22 years ago. It hadn’t seemed like a very important day at the time; in fact, if anyone had asked then, I would have said it was the worst day of my life.  I was bloated and quaking. My eyes were yellow like a cat’s–from jaundice. And my store of courage was so low I had to be led around like a child. There’s no question that on that day, my second life began. It would help to note here that I am not

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Markets

[NOTE: The following does NOT constitute investment advice of any kind. It is for education or entertainment only]  ‘There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld 2002                  That the stock market fell does not surprise me: I have wondered how the rally could continue before the long list of threats to the global economy would reduce share prices. But I was surprised that it happened so abruptly.  I should not be surprised at that, however, because markets generally fall much faster than they rise: investors often “get in” in increments and “get out” in a cataclysm.  And while stocks only

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  WHAT HAVE YOU done for me lately? I find tremendous irony in the fact that the US president was the star of a reality show where he was surrounded by less-than-brilliant sycophants and presented as the epitome of  business success in charge of a thriving empire (though it turns out his decision-making often led to bankruptcy). The  climax of each episode was when he got to pronounce to a hapless contestant “You’re fired!”  The irony makes an entrance in that he is now at a point in his tenure where the party that embraced him (only after they realized that he could get them power) may soon make a similar pronouncement to him.   Almost two years ago on this blogsite, I posted that

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