Sunday, August 30, 2015

The race is on—it’s just a few more laps ‘til we catch that rabbit, right?


Earlier tonight my friend Tom (who I met this past January on the Early Retirement Forum) emailed me and asked if I was down. Touched, I replied I was doing okay and asked how he was doing in return. He said “Haha! No, I mean your portfolio! I’m down over 60K! I looked at your blog, aren’t you following the news??”

I should’ve known better, these ER guys are all about the numbers. Yes, yes I know—China’s economy is in the red, OPEC is flooding the globe with cheap oil and the Feds are rubbing their hands together & promising to raise interest rates any day now. Some of those so-called market experts predict that US stocks will rally, others say we’ve been on the gravy train far too long, so get ready for a steep decline and a 2 year bear market.

Darn it, I hate all of it. 2015 has been a crappy year for stocks & bonds, and I’m worn out worrying about it. When I left my job 8 months ago (is that all it’s been? It seems longer) I plugged all my dollars & sense into Mint.com’s retirement tool, said I wanted so-and-so dollars a year to live on (adjusted yearly for inflation) and wouldn’t start making withdrawals until January 2016. I got back this:

ADDITIONAL INVESTMENTS NEEDED IN YOUR PORTFOLIO TO REACH GOAL: $15,000
ESTIMATED DATE YOU WILL REACH YOUR GOAL: JULY 02 2015
YOU ARE 6 MONTHS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

Woo-hoo! That was in December, right after Christmas. I had the whole year ahead to earn just 15K in my portfolio, and Minty predicted I’d have it in 6 months. Alas, it was not to be: here’s how it looked in July.

ADDITIONAL INVESTMENTS NEEDED IN YOUR PORTFOLIO TO REACH GOAL: $17,500
ESTIMATED DATE YOU WILL REACH YOUR GOAL: MAR 10 2016
YOU ARE 3 MONTHS BEHIND SCHEDULE

Rats! But the worst was yet to come. Here’s what it said August 28, after that six-day market tumble and 2 day hint of recovery:

ADDITIONAL INVESTMENTS NEEDED IN YOUR PORTFOLIO TO REACH GOAL: $45,600
ESTIMATED DATE YOU WILL REACH YOUR GOAL: JAN 15 2017
YOU ARE 1 YEAR BEHIND SCHEDULE

Gulp… that estimated date keeps going the wrong way. Most of us in the market are affected of course, but when you’re counting on this to LIVE on come 2016, and it’s telling you to wait until 2017, things are off to an uncertain start. Doggone it, that rabbit was so close a few months ago too! I’m not throwing in the towel just yet, here’s how I see the final laps in this race:

      ApacheDug’s Market Predictions for the Final Round of 2015

September (historically the worst month of the year for Wall Street) is going to start out on a down note, why break with tradition? Then the Feds will listen to Suze Orman’s pleas not to hike interest rates, sending global & domestic markets into an orgasmic delirium

October & November will see the markets climb even higher—quick, we gotta make up for that mess we got ourselves into back in August!

In December the economy is up, China’s frozen over and the Feds come out of hiding & announce a small rate hike—but no one is listening! It’s the Holiday Season, we’ve recovered our losses and are up 4-5%

AND I AM GOING TO BE WEARING THAT RABBIT.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Chapter 5 in my Diary of a Fat Man: The giant Doug who ate Pittsburgh


This past weekend I had the pleasure of spending time with some friends on Mt. Washington, which overlooks Pittsburgh.  We had brunch at this little french restaurant where the owner’s dog wore a colorful scarf and sat at our feet, then took in the sights before returning to my friend Danielle’s house (that’s her above) for a lively discussion of religion & politics and some much needed bashing of both.  All in all, a terrific day.

I returned home, and a couple hours later, received some photos of our time together and I wanted to go back up there and throw myself over that railing.  I look like John Hurt in ‘Alien’, right before that lizard baby burst thru his stomach!

I’ve been tracking my weight weekly since May, when I weighed over 262 lbs & began a diet-exercise regimen but have decided to start posting it online to stay motivated.

GOAL:  LOSE  15 25 50 60 POUNDS OR LOOK OUT BELOW
Date Weight Gain/Loss Feeling Total
May 25 262.60   Disappointed smile  
Aug 21 251.50 -11.10   -11.10
Aug 28 249.50 -02.00   -13.10
Sep 04 248.50 -01.00   -14.10
Sep 11 247.50 -01.00   -15.10
Sep 18 245.80 -01.70   -16.80
Sep 25 245.60 -00.20   -17.00
Oct 02 244.80 -00.80   -17.80
Oct 09 243.60 -01.20   -19.00
Oct 16 242.80 -00.80   -19.80
Oct 23 242.00 -00.80   -20.60
Oct 30 240.60 -01.40   -22.00
Nov 06 240.20 -00.40   -22.40
Nov 13 239.80 -00.40   -22.80
Nov 20 240.20 +00.40 Sad smile -22.40
Nov 27 239.40 -00.80   -23.20
Dec 04 237.80 -01.60   -24.80
Dec 11 237.20 -00.60   -25.40
Dec 18 235.80 -01.40   -26.80
Dec 25 237.80 +02.00 Crying faceCrying face -24.80
Jan 01 2016 235.20 -02.60   -27.40
Jan 08 235.20 0   -27.40
Jan 15 233.20 -02.00   -29.40
Jan 22 232.60 -00.60   -30.00
Jan 29 232.40 -00.20   -30.20
Feb 05 230.60 -01.80   -32.00
Feb 12 229.60 -01.00   -33.00
Feb 19 228.80 -00.80   -33.80
Feb 26 229.40 +00.60 Sad smile -33.20
Mar 04 228.50 -00.90   -34.10
Mar 11 227.20 -01.30   -35.40
Mar 18 227.20 0   -35.40
Mar 25 227.20 0   -35.40
Apr 01 225.60 -01.60   -37.00
Apr 08 224.60 -01.00   -38.00
Apr 15 224.60 0   -38.00
Apr 22 224.00 -00.60   -38.60
Apr 29 224.00 0   -38.60
May 06 223.40 -00.60   -39.20
May 13 222.20 -01.20   -40.40
May 20 222.20 0   -40.40
May 27 220.40 -01.80   -42.20
Jun 03 220.40 0   -42.20
Jun 10 218.20 -02.20   -44.40
Jun 17 220.40 +02.20 Crying face -42.20
Jun 24 219.00 -01.40   -43.60
Jul 01 217.20 -01.80   -45.40
Jul 08 218.20 +01.00   -44.40
Jul 15 217.60 -00.60   -45.00
Jul 22 215.60 -02.00   -47.00
Jul 29 213.80 -01.80   -48.80
Aug 05 213.00 -00.80   -49.60
Aug 12 208.80 -04.20 Party smile -53.80
 

NEW

GOAL

60 LBS 

 
Aug 19 206.40 -02.40   -56.20
Aug 26 206.20 -00.20   -56.40
Sep 02 207.20 +01.00   -55.40
Sep 09 208.40 +01.20   -54.20
Sep 16 207.60 -00.80   -55.00
Sep 23 205.80 -01.80   -56.80
Sep 30 209.60 +03.80   -53.00
Oct 07 209.80 +00.20   -52.80
Oct 14 211.20 +01.40 Disappointed smile -51.40
         
         
         


Eye rolling smile          Winking smile          Smile

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A belated Happy Birthday to another lady in red—oh Eve, I could never forget you

red Plumb
Yes I know what you’re thinking, but it can’t be helped. Jan’s always gotten the short end of the stick when it came to Marcia, and that stops here and now!

Shortly after I posted my badass tribute to Maureen McCormick I remembered that Eve could hold her own when it came to firearms—didn’t I just see her in something recently?

Yep! In 2013’s “Blue Ruin”, where she played the whacked-out hillbilly sister of a man sent to prison for killing another man’s family. When her brother is released from jail and becomes the target for revenge, here comes Eve, guns blazing!

Eve Plumb was born on April 29 1958, 57 years old and just look at her—she’s one hot dish. Just a couple weeks ago in fact, I was telling my sister Shawn that her character Jan was my secret favorite, much to her surprise. (If you had a 53 year old brother still talking about the Brady Bunch, you’d be surprised too!)

Anyway, there’s this great image of a trigger-happy Eve from Blue Ruin…

I’M NOW GOING TO CREATE BADASS EVE PLUMB MEMES UNTIL I RUN OUT OF IDEAS OR SOMEONE STOPS ME, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST—OH AND HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY EVE
jan1
jan3
jan5
jan6
jan7
jan8
That last one was an actual Jan Brady quote, y'know--okay, I'm done  Smile 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Happy Birthday to the lady in red: Maureen, you’re as badass as ever

The lady in red
It’s 3:14 am. I have no business being up this late, but here I am sleep-drunk and writing a blog. (It’s not exactly a smart move, I tend to come up with some crazy-ass things when I’m up this late…) Okay where was I?

Oh yeah--a couple days ago my friend Danielle alerted me to the fact that it was Maureen McCormick’s birthday, she couldn’t believe our Brady gal was almost 60. (She turned 59 on August 5.)  Man, she looks amazing!

I was all prepared to write a nice, boring tribute, slingin’ the same old hash like every other respectable fan—then I came across an interesting pic of a pistol packin’ Marcia Maureen from 1977. What the—?!

It’s from an obscure honky-tonk movie titled ‘Moonshine County Express’ where Maureen and her 2 sisters (no, not Jan & Cindy) seek revenge after their moonshinin’ daddy is taken down. It’s not available to own, rent or stream (which is just as well I suppose, based on what I’ve read).

Still, I hate seeing such a great image go to waste….

I’M NOW GOING TO CREATE BADASS MARCIA BRADY MEMES UNTIL I RUN OUT OF IDEAS OR FALL ASLEEP, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST—HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAUREEN!
mar1
mar2
mar3
mar4
mar5
mar6
mar7
mar8
mar9
mar10
Okay, I guess I've done enough damage--good night!  Sleepy smile
what the

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Everytime it rains, it rains pennies from heaven (2,000 of ‘em, to be exact)

Christian letter

Monday night I was just getting ready to call my sister (it was raining pretty hard here in the ‘burgh, and my niece & brother-in-law were at the Pirates game getting soaked) when I remembered I hadn’t gotten today’s mail.

I hopped downstairs and retrieved a single white envelope with no return address. When I opened the letter inside, a twenty dollar bill fluttered to the ground. What the—someone sent me $20.00. Who sent it and why?

I’m sharing it here, because I don’t want my benefactor thinking I saw the cash and just tossed their words aside.

I read it alright, a couple times, in fact. And I still can’t believe it.

A couple weeks ago, I shared a story here regarding a woman on Facebook who was handed a designer handbag from a pair of strangers and saw it as a gift from God. I scoffed at the notion of “divine bling” and said that religious & non-religious people were never going to convince each other that their way is the truth, but for $20.00 this agnostic was willing to listen. And someone took me up on it!

 Here’s the letter that came with the $20.00; click on it to enlarge to full size

“I read your recent blog about the woman and her Coach wristlet and was a bit puzzled about a few of your remarks…”

It then goes on to ask me a lot of questions—if I’m truly agnostic why did I have such strong reactions to this woman’s story, would I react just as strongly to an atheist, can I discount the intelligence behind everything, have I read the Bible in it’s entirety, do I expect God (if He exists) to perform in a different way than what I’ve seen for myself, etc.

While the letter made me feel like I was on the witness stand in some holy courtroom (I sure am glad I wasn’t around for the Inquisition!) I couldn’t help but appreciate that someone did read my blog and felt compelled to reach out. I mean, c’mon--I’m just one of 10 billion other yahoos on this planet. My personal views don’t amount to a hill of beans!

Well Mystery Writer, if you really want to know—maybe I shouldn’t have used the term “agnostic” to describe myself. I thought I needed a label and that was the closest I could find that fits. I’m not filled with uncertainty, I DO believe in a higher, intelligent design—amd I see nothing random about our universe either.

I just don’t feel the need to attach my beliefs to a Supreme Being who demands I worship Him. Why do you? Why does anybody?

Does that make me an atheist then? Gosh I hope not, the ones I know are the most closed-minded people I know!


I will say this; if the woman who wrote about that Coach purse saw my blog and confronted me about it, I’d turn fifty shades of red and apologize.

As it was pointed out to me, it’s not like the recipient was being swindled or anything. If she really believes that pricey gift was her deceased brother reaching out to her, I’m sure it’s a very comforting feeling.

And finally, I wanted to let my benefactor know that while I appreciate their $20.00 gift, there is NO WAY I’m keeping that! I wrote a check out this morning for that amount to send to my favorite charity, the Salvation Army.

They’re a Christian based outfit, but I’m not going to hold that against ‘em apachecheck

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My little green machine: I wouldn’t say it’s vintage yet, but it’s getting there



Earlier this week, I took my car in for it’s annual inspection & oil change. I decided to try someplace different, as I’d heard good things about the new Goodyear garage nearby—and while “my old place” was right up the street, they lost my business last year when I called to make an appointment & the guy on the phone asked for my name, make & model then said “okay but you know this is a Chevrolet dealership, right?”

First of all, you have one of those “Authorized PA Inspection” signs out front, I believe they apply to ALL CARS. Secondly, I’d been coming to you for the last 8-9 years!

Anyway, these Goodyear guys couldn’t have been nicer. When I approached the woman at the front counter & said I was there to pick up my car, she said “What’s your name hon.” “Morris, Doug.” “Oh, we’ve been waiting for you!” She gets on the mike—“MATT, SAM—YOUR GREEN HONDA COUPE IS HERE”. She then smiled at me. “They’ve been all over your car since you dropped it off yesterday!”

Three guys came inside and proceeded to tell me how much they liked my car. The first one (Matt, who owns the garage) said “We love this little ride! If you’re interested in selling, you’ve got 3 offers on the table right now. Sam here owns 2 vintage Hondas!” (Excuse me, did he just say vintage?) The second guy (Sam) says “Your engine isn’t even broken in yet, you haven’t got 25,000 miles on it. You don’t see many of these in green either. Your interior is so clean it looks showroom mint.”
 apachecar_int

When I told them I could count the number of times someone has rode in the passenger seat on one hand, their eyes bugged out!

Finally, the third guy says “If & when you decide to get a new car, DON’T use this as a trade-in. Don’t even sell it at fair market value, it’s worth more than that.”

I thanked them for all the kind words (and promised myself I was driving straight to the car wash for some much needed TLC—and I did) but I couldn’t help but be a little mystified. This is 2015, right? I realize it’s close to 13 years old, but ‘classic’? ‘Vintage’? It’s not like people are flying around in Jetson-cars!

I’ve owned this Honda since October 2002, and it’s my very first car (and chances are, will probably be my last.) That pesky seizure disorder in my younger years prevented me from being eligible for a driver’s license until I was 33 years old, and by then, I was no longer feeling the need for speed. Still, I was always embarrassed when I got my license renewed every few years “for ID purposes only”.

A  “non-drivers” license from 1988; I was not a happy camper

But after my dad passed away in 2001, I thought of my mom being alone and told her I wanted to learn to drive, and visit more. She said that’d be great but she was still against it.

I wasn’t exactly encouraged by my driving instructor either; when she picked me up for my first lesson, I said “I bet you don’t get a lot of guys my age”. She said “Oh, I teach more adults to drive than teens! But I should give you a heads up, while older women make the best students, men—just the opposite. I’d say half of them quit after the first couple lessons.” Great!

I guess I beat the odds, because on July 27, 2002—3 months before my 41st birthday—I passed my driver’s exam and was the happiest Doug on the planet. I didn’t waste any time getting my new car either, I knew just what I wanted—a brand new Honda Civic Coupe in Clover Green Pearl.

Not everyone feels the love for the car like I do, though. Last July when I was visiting family, I was outside washing my windshield while my 10 year old niece Sophia rode her bike around me. I said “Honey you like my car, right?” She said “it’s alright, why?” I said “cuz I figure it’ll be yours someday, so I’m trying to keep it tip-top for you!” She said “NO THANKS!”

When I got home that night, Shawn sent me the picture below. It turns out after I left, that turd-bird had my sister take her into town JUST SO SHE COULD POSE NEXT TO HER FUTURE WHEELS. Okay Sophia, we’lll see! 2014-07-27
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