Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

September 24, 2018
by funny
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4 Stocks That Surprised Investors

The stock market’s only constant is its unpredictability. You can’t always count on stocks to do what you expect them to do, which is exactly what makes it so fascinating. Let’s take a closer look at some of the stocks that have made unexpected moves in recent years. Whether they suddenly shot up without warning or unexpectedly dropped in value, the following stocks sent shockwaves through the market and those who keep tabs on it daily.

Axon Enterprise

Image via Flickr by Elvert Barnes

Axon Enterprise (AAXN) used a risky promotion to give their company a boost. Instead of continuing their focus on selling TASERs, Axon switched to body cameras along with cloud storage solutions for the data produced by the cameras. To get things rolling, they offered free body cameras to every U.S. police officer for a year. The promotion tanked their stock to $21, but the risk paid off. After the year-long free trial, orders began to pour in for more cameras and AAXN stock rose to over $40.

Kush Bottles

It’s no surprise that marijuana stocks have been performing well in recent years. With the legalization of marijuana becoming a hot topic in just about every state, and the widespread development of dispensaries, it’s only natural that these stocks continue to rise.

But Kush Bottles (KSHB) is an outlier in a field of hot stocks. Kush Bottles rose more than 120 percent on the market over the course of the year in 2017 and reported revenue of $10.6 million for the second quarter of 2018 alone. Even more surprising is the source of the company’s revenue, which isn’t actually directly tied to marijuana sales. Instead, Kush Bottles specializes in wholesale supplies for dispensaries, including vaporizers and child-resistant containers.

Citigroup

The recession hit the large banks hard, but Citigroup (C) really reached a low point during this financial crisis. In April 2009, the company’s price fell to 97 cents per share. It seemed as though Citigroup was on the brink of shutting down altogether, and few investors thought they’d recover from such a hard hit. But over the last decade, the company was able to recover due to a massive government stimulus. The unthinkable has happened — Citigroup now trades at over $60 and continues to rise.

Zynga

Not all stock surprises have a happy ending. In the case of Zynga (ZNGA), a high earnings forecast that didn’t pan out resulted in a major drop in the company’s stock price. In the second quarter of 2012, Zynga’s price dropped over 40 percent in a single day in after-hours trading. By missing the mark on its financial forecast by such a wide margin, Zynga became a cautionary tale of the stock market.

Though the stock market can certainly produce some great results, there will always be unexpected ups and downs to keep investors on their toes. These companies are great examples of the ways in which certain companies can produce incredibly surprising results when it comes to their stock market values and dramatic changes in performance over a short period of time.

September 24, 2018
by funny
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On Being a Woman in America

From Facebook friend Beth Riley, up pops the post below, with quote from a book by someone named Jackson Katz.

On reading it, I first thought…yup. Then reflected that it’s a damn good thing we don’t live in Saudi Arabia, where I grew up. That government just murdered…uhm, “executed”…a woman for the dastardly crime of asking to drive a car.

All extreme fundamentalist movements — be they fundamentalist Christian, fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist Buddhist, fundamentalist Hindu, fundament-anything — aim to hold women down. This impulse seems to stem from a trend in human nature to try to control and even imprison females, for reasons that may have made sense when we roamed the ice sheets chasing mammoths but that don’t seem to do so in an advanced civilization.

In America, folks who subscribe to such thinking tend to identify as “conservatives.” But these extremists are not conservatives; they’re radicals. They take a radical attitude toward women, toward foreigners, toward God, toward our nation. People who think they can tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies are people who think woman’s place is as a slave: to a man, or to a culture, or to a misguided religion.

From Beth’s post:

I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other.

Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they’ve been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter.

Occasionally, a young guy will raise his hand and say, “I stay out of prison.” This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, “Nothing. I don’t think about it.”

Then I ask the women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine.

Hold my keys as a potential weapon.
Look in the back seat of the car before getting in.
Carry a cell phone.
Don’t go jogging at night.
Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights.
Be careful not to drink too much.
Don’t put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured.
Own a big dog.
Carry Mace or pepper spray.
Have an unlisted phone number.
Have a man’s voice on my answering machine.
Park in well-lit areas.
Don’t use parking garages.
Don’t get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men.
Vary my route home from work.
Watch what I wear.
Don’t use highway rest areas.
Use a home alarm system.
Don’t wear headphones when jogging.
Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime.
Don’t take a first-floor apartment.
Go out in groups.
Own a firearm.
Meet men on first dates in public places.
Make sure to have a car or cab fare.
Don’t make eye contact with men on the street.
Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.

― Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help

To that I say: Yup. All of the above.

I wonder how many men are aware of all the strategies and subterfuges the women in their daily lives take to protect themselves. To me they’re so much a part of ordinary life, I wouldn’t bother to mention them to a male partner or friend, any more than I would mention that I drink a glass of water or a cup of coffee in the morning. So…why would he be aware of all that, unless he’s an exceptionally close observer?

Here’s another one:

  Never live in a place that doesn’t have a garage with a door that closes. When you get home, never unlock or get out of your car until you’ve closed the door and you’re sure it’s really shut. Look around you in the garage before unlocking your car door and stepping out.

Oh, what the heck, as long as we’re in that vein:

Watch your rear-view mirror as you’re driving home. If someone follows you into your neighborhood, be aware; if the person follows you onto your street, keep driving past your house and drive out of the neighborhood. If he continues to follow you, drive to the nearest fire station, police station, or emergency room and lean on the horn.
Never, ever leave your garage door hanging open. As you’re leaving the house, stop the car and wait until the door is completely shut, to ensure that nothing gets in its way and causes it to come open again as you’re driving away. And it should go without saying: never leave the garage open when you’re in the house.
Never walk across a parking lot habituated by panhandlers and potential purse-snatchers.
Do not carry a purse: wear clothes with pockets and drop a couple of credit cards in them.
Install motion-sensitive lights along all four exterior walls of your house, up near the eaves where it’s hard to reach them to unscrew the bulb.
Place battery-operated “screamer’ alarms on all sliding doors and windows, and on the sliding screens for Arcadia doors.
Equip a room in your home with a solid-core door and a hardened dead bolt. Keep a weapon hidden in the room, and also hang a house dress on the back of the door, to use if you have to dart in there at night when you’re not fully clothed. No, you do not want to reward the cops with an impromptu strip show!
Have a phone in every room, including the bathrooms, not only for your convenience but so you can grab a phone quickly to call 911.
Equip every exterior hinged door with a heavy-duty security screen, and fit each one with a hardened deadbolt. Remember to close them and lock them whenever you’re not walking in and out.
When driving at night or through a sketchy district, if you see a red light ahead, slow down to give it a chance to turn green so you don’t have to stop your vehicle.
Avoid driving through high-crime neighborhoods and areas known to be infested with drug gangs.
Drive a substantial distance to avoid having to shop in grocery stores whose parking lots are unsafe.
If you have a carport or garage with an entry to the attic in its ceiling, padlock the thing.

Can most or all of this be replaced by an expensive security service and an alarm system? Well…some of it. But a) I hate alarms; b) I hate the monthly gouge an alarm service charges for something that might be needed once in my lifetime, at most; c) you’re at risk everywhere, not just in your house; and d) in my book self-reliance trumps relying on someone you don’t know and who cares about you only because you pay for the privilege.

Do I also hate living like I’m the one in prison, not the bad guy? You bet. But as things stand now, I don’t see many alternatives.

September 22, 2018
by funny
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There, but for…

…the grace of God!

Ever have one of those experiences when nothing happens to you and that causes you to think thank You, God?

This is different from a close call. In a close call, something does happen to you. An event almost does you in, but you manage either to dodge out of the way or to survive without permanent injury. This is a close call:

I’m about 21. I’m driving through the cotton fields on a two-lane road, headed from a suburb into downtown Phoenix, there to start my day as a receptionist for a law firm. As usual, I’m flying low: around 50 to 60 mph. Two lanes. Country road. In a new 1967 Ford Fairlane that was a certifiable lemon.

As I’m tooling along listening to the radio (The mornin’ sun is risin’/Like a red rubber ballll…), some guy in a pickup pulls off a dirt side road, right in front of me. I’m gonna hit him. My mother told me to watch out for country boys on side roads! Why didn’t I listen?

I slam on the brakes.

The damn car LEAPS into the air (no exaggeration!) and lands in the middle of the oncoming lane.

And yes, there is an oncoming car in the oncoming lane. The driver looks panicked.

At that moment, everything shifts into slow motion. I seem to have half an hour to think about this and contemplate my choices. I can…

jerk the car back into my lane. But the guy who pulled out in front of me is now right beside me, driver-side door to passenger-side door. If I move into the right lane, I will hit him. The recoil may push us both into the oncoming car…

stay where I am and head-on the third driver. Not an option….

at around 50 mph, pull off onto the left-hand shoulder, a strip of dirt that borders an irrigation canal. This may cause my car to roll and I could find myself upside down in the irrigation ditch. But maybe not…

I choose option c) as the least disastrous. Miraculously, the ground is hard enough to support my car’s laboring tires, and miraculously, the car does not spin out of control. The guy in the oncoming car whistles past me. The guy in the pickup proceeds on down the road.

That is a close call because an element of choice occurred after the event began. You’re not saved just by the grace of God, but by a combination of your own volition and God’s grace.

A true thank-You-God moment may be influenced by choices you made before the event occurs, but your escape has nothing to do with choices you make during and after the event.

Example: One of my clients was an economist who had a career as an international banker. He traveled a lot in his business. One day he was flying into a large South American city, where he was to meet with another banking executive about some high-end business matter. Somewhere along the line, his plane was held up, so they were running several hours late coming to their destination.

As they circled around to come in for a landing, he looked out the window and noticed smoke coming out of a large high-rise. Of interest, but he didn’t think much about it.

Once he got into town, though, he discovered the smoking building housed his guy’s office. The fire had broken out a few hours before. And, like many buildings in many third-world countries, it was inadequately designed for fire safety: it had few or no usable fire escapes. The guy had been trapped in his upper-floor office, and he died.

Now there you have a thank You-God moment. It was pure, raw luck that my client hadn’t been in the office when the fire started: “a few hours before” was right when the two men had scheduled their meeting. Nothing that either person did could have changed the outcome. The only reason my client survived was that by random chance he happened to get on a plane that was delayed.

I always figure I’ve had a thank You-God moment when I come across a major car wreck, because….if I’d been there 15 minutes or half-an-hour earlier, that could’ve been me in one of those cars. Indeed, I thought I was enjoying one such this very morning when I came across a three-block long back-up at the intersection of two of the busiest arterials in the central city.

The cops had shut both roads down about a quarter-mile in each direction from the wreck. People were winding their way through residential neighborhoods in order to get on their way. Luckily, I contrived to turn left out of a tiny residential lane onto Arterial East-West and continue on my way to the veterinarian’s.

As it turns out, this also wasn’t a true tY-G moment, because no one was killed or even hurt seriously. The only reason the cops were making SUCH a BFD about it was that one of their SUVs was involved. Some guy had sideswiped the cop (?? how hard is it to notice a gigantic white tank with blue stripes all around it and a pair of red bubble-gum machines on top???) and caused the police vehicle to roll.

This happened at 7:00 this morning. I left my house at 10:44, so it was about 10:50 or so by the time I reached the scene of the drama. They had that intersection shut down in four directions for almost four hours!

Forgodsake, they clear out fatalities faster than that.

I surely have had plenty of real tY-G moments, when I and my fellow homicidal drivers missed a monstrously fatal disaster by a matter of minutes. Or even seconds.

How about yourself? Got any good thank You-God stories?

September 22, 2018
by funny
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Doggy Ups and Downs

Each day, Cassie has her ups and her downs. And it seems that each down gets deeper. She’s in a bad way every morning, but then seems to revive a bit around noon.

Today I noticed she wasn’t in her normal nest. Or anywhere else. Thinking I’d accidentally left her outside, I went running around calling her: no response. Finally I found her in the clothes closet, squirreled away in a corner.

This is not a good sign. In all the ten years this dog has lived here, she has never gone into that closet. Maybe once or twice to sniff at a shoe, but really: she doesn’t go in there.

The other not-good sign: she flat refused to eat this morning. I managed to coax a few bites down her by mixing some of the food with water to make a kind of soup. But she wouldn’t even take all of that. Either she’s having a difficult time swallowing or just doesn’t feel like being bothered. My money’s on the latter: my guess is she simply doesn’t want to eat any more.

If you’re going to let Nature take its course, you’ve gotta listen to Nature and understand what She’s telling you. Today She definitely was trying to say something…

The vet’s office called to say he wanted me to come pick up some Temaril tablets to try to deal with the refusal to eat issue. Why, I don’t know. Temaril is a cough suppressant. She’s stopped coughing, and he knows it.

I am now flat broke, budgetwise: $5 left to live on for the rest of the month. I transferred a hundred bucks over from emergency savings to get through the next week…hope I won’t have to spend much of it, but am basically out of food except for what’s in the freezer and what’s growing in the backyard.

At any rate, the UPs: Along about noon, the dog seems to revive. This is becoming a pattern. But every day, the morning “down” seems worse than the previous day’s. Really, today I thought she might not be alive by the time I got back from the vet’s — it’s an hour of driving, round trip. So I pull the car into the garage, climb out, and hear Cassie barking on the other side of the door!

She hasn’t barked in days.

Fling wide the gates…and lo! There’s Cassie standing there bright-eyed and wagging, looking normal as apple pie.

WTF?

The garage door is open. Ruby is still in the car — I’d taken her with me because I thought there was such a high chance Cassie would pass while I was out fighting traffic, and frankly, I do not want Ruby to decide to eat the remains.

She is a dog, you know…

So Cassie walks outside, Ruby being locked in the vehicle and so unable to make her escape to Yuma. Cassie strolls around, sniffs, pees, acts pretty damn normal. I get the mail, we stroll back inside as though this were just another day in Paradise.

Right away, while she still is acting like she’s going to live, I mix up some more dog food swill, causing her to get about half the remainder of this morning’s dog food down, along with about a third to half a cup of water.

Vet called just a minute ago. I pointed out that Temaril was for a cough and she’s stopped coughing. He said it contains a steroid to reduce inflammation, and can sometimes make an ailing dog feel better. Before I left the Funny Farm, I’d given her one of the remaining half-tablets from the previous bottle. He says it can act pretty fast, and that might explain her apparent revival. He also speculated that she may just feel bad when she wakes from a night of snoozing and it could take several hours for her to begin to feel better.

I reminded him that she’s 12 years old. He said…yeah…but made no further comment on her superannuation. He did remark, though, that Corgis are unusually tenacious dogs, and so one shouldn’t give up on her too soon.

/p>

September 21, 2018
by funny
5 Comments

Doggy Update: Death Refuses to Have Her

So Cassie the Beleaguered Corgi seemed better after mid-morning. She kinda sprang back. Along about 2:00 p.m., we had an appointment with a vet at the clinic where my son takes his dog. My, that was a refreshing drive: only took about 10 minutes to get there, as opposed to the 40-minute drive required to arrive in MarvelVet’s precincts.

I explained my questions and misgivings to this vet. She allowed as to how these were reasonable questions and thought that indeed there was some ambiguity in the various indications. All in all, though, she agreed with MarvelVet that what ails the dog is probably Valley fever.

However, on this check-up Cassie seemed significantly better. Whereas MarvelVet was alarmed because he could hear the congestion in her little chest, today no such sounds were audible. Her temperature was down to normal. Her cough has been better most of the day. She only wheezed once at the vet’s office.

She (vet) also said the fluconazole should have few bothersome side effects in dogs. She thinks Cassie has been dragging because of the ailment, not because of the cure. And she suggested testing her again in three or four weeks, by which time she suspects the titre will change from negative to positive.

Hm.

The incubation period for Valley fever is 7 to 28 days after exposure. If you believe this is a new infection, that would make sense: this summer we had several dust storms that blew into the hood. Because we’re in the rain shadow of the North Mountains, we do tend to be protected from so-called “haboobs,” a stupid sell-newspapers name for dust storms, but this year they were pretty fierce. So…yeah…maybe she picked this up over the summer.

But the truth is, if you live in Arizona’s low desert, you’re exposed just by virtue of living here. You can harbor the fungus for a long time without ever noticing. The if something happens to dent your immune system, voilà! You notice…  And 12 years of doggy age — some 70 years± of human years — most surely is enough to dent your immune system. WhatEVER,,,the likelihood of her having picked it up over the past decade or so is extremely high.

So this vet: she’s from Trinidad. I liked her a lot. She spent a lot of time examining the pooch and chatting with the human, and it was clear she really knew what she was talking about. Yeah: I was impressed.

She and her husband, an IT dude, are so revolted by the political situation in our country that they’re seriously thinking of moving back.

And therein lies the brain drain issue: they’re only two of the many young professionals I know who speak of leaving the country. Permanently. If we haven’t stupided down America enough, the present administration is busily delivering the coup de grâce: when all the bright young men and women leave, we’ll have only a few smart old people left to keep the nation on track. And once they’re gone? Bye-bye American Republic, hello Banana Republic.

But as for the dog? She seems much better right this minute. She drags in the morning, but by mid-day perks up. There’s hope that she may still have a year or three of the good life. Or maybe even…greatness…

 

September 21, 2018
by funny
4 Comments

Doggy & Human Ups and Downs

Luckily for the Human, it had agreed to host a dear friend and cat for an hour or so, while hordes of Realtors swarmed through their house, which they’re putting up for sale. They didn’t want to be there, and they surely did not want their cat there, while a bunch of strangers cavorted around the place. So the wife went to the beauty parlor and the hubby and kitty came over to the Funny Farm.

This provided a therapeutic break for the Human. I really needed some company this morning. The damn computer was working hard to thwart me at every turn — had a helluva time trying to catch up with the gerjillion tasks running late, and whenever I did manage to get something more or less posted, it invariably went up wrong, so I had to delete stuff and try to dork with it to get it to do what it was supposed to do and UGHHHH! I hate that kind of thing under the best of conditions, but when with even a small degree of extra stress, it drives me CRAZY!

And there was plenty of extra stress. Cassie the Corgi seemed even sicker than usual. She had a hard time eating the food I put in front of her. And when I smushed some dog food around her morning pill to get it down her, Ruby pounced and grabbed it.

Honestly, I do not know which dog swallowed the pill, but I’m pretty sure it was Ruby.

So this means that every time I have to medicate Cassie, I’ll have to lock Ruby behind a door in another room. One more fun hassle to make life grand.

Things went downhill from there. Mostly in the computer department.

Enfin, with the cat and the guest here, the dogs were locked up in the back bedroom. Good place for ’em!

When I returned from delivering my friend home and released the hounds, strangely enough Cassie seemed much more perky.

This morning I’d have said she was pounding on Death’s Door. Five hours later, she trots into the backyard, chases Ruby a short way across their racetrack, and appears to have lost the limp.

Yes. A limp is a symptom of disseminated Valley Fever, so as you can imagine the fact that for the past few days she has barely been able to hobble up the hall has been making me crazy. Yet another of the many things to make one crazy.

But she limps all the time. She’s always limped off and on, ever since I got her 10 years ago. Just not this badly.

Maybe it’s not from whatever is ailing her, but maybe she was injured. I have to lift her both on and off the bed. It’s possible I accidentally twisted her or kinked something, unknowing, and maybe that’s why she was limping. Or maybe Ruby gave her a whack when I wasn’t looking. WhatEVER. For a brief shining moment, she’s been limp-free.

In about 40 minutes, I’ve got to start yet another long trek toward Scottsdale, this time to visit the vet my son uses. I want a second opinion about the Valley fever theory. Several second opinions to address several concerns:

To wit: Can we please get empirical proof that this dog really has Valley fever before putting her on a drug that’s clearly making her sick and then proposing to keep her on it for six months to a year? Or more?

The dog came down with a cough at the time some sort of respiratory infection was epidemic. The cough improved when treated with antibiotics and a cough suppressant, but it persisted longer than expected. Is it not possible that it took her longer to get over a viral bug because, for godsake, she’s 12 years old! She is an elderly dog. Like an elderly human, she may not recover from infections at the speed of light. Is it not reasonable to suspect that the elevated neutrocil and monocyte values might reflect an ordinary viral respiratory infection, not Valley fever? Might the congestion Dr. B saw on the X-ray be pneumonia or bronchitis, rather than Valley fever?

Does it really make sense to dose a 12-year-old dog with a drug that makes her sick, and to keep her on it past her normal life span? Seriously?

Damn it! I hate to be one of those patients. But my innate skepticism just will not go away.

And my innate skepticism has served me exceptionally well in the past. One might even call it, say, a kind of survival mechanism.