MICRO LOANS

Mike Hanlon: ‘One other good place for microloans is Kiva.org. They allow you to choose to whom you will lend and you get updates on how the people are doing. Be sure to check out their press page – the group is endorsed by Bill Clinton and has some wonderful videos (follow CNBC’s John Larson as he goes to Africa and meets some of the people who receive his loans). We decided to join as a family – my wife, two sons, and I chose two or three recipients each. So far, by rolling over repayments, we’ve made 24 loans. I also oversee a campaign at work: Our building collected used ink cartridges, traded them in for cash and used the cash to set up a Kiva account. We’ve helped seven entrepreneurs, from Cambodia to Afghanistan to Nicaragua and thanks to repayments, we’ll help more.’

I-BONDS

Kevin Kitts: ‘If I read TreasuryDirect.gov correctly, it looks like I-BONDS are currently paying 5.64%. Of course, one is limited to an investment of only $5,000.00 per Social Security Number (though you can always advise your wife and children that it might be a good investment for them as well). Another option might be investing in TIPS through a mutual fund (or directly). What steps can one take to prepare for a highly inflationary environment and do you think it is coming?’

☞ You read it right. I-bonds purchased between now and April have a fixed rate of just 0.7% – but also accrue interest to adjust for inflation, which is how the current rate gets up to 5.64%. Both TIPS (inside a tax-deferred retirement account)and I-Bonds are reasonably good, conservative ways to prepare for an inflationary environment, and yes, I think sooner or later we have one coming.

Stephen Willey: ‘I bought some I-Bonds in ’01 when you first suggested them – and got a few free plane trips by using my credit cards [no longer allowed] – and my 14- and 11-year-olds’ college tuitions are now covered. Thanks. IMO, I-Bonds are the best 529 out there. [If you cash them in to pay for tuition, there is usually no tax due on the interest they’ve earned.] When Treasury decreased the annual limit [from $30,000] to $5000, I knew that, one, they were a good deal and, two, those of us lucky/skillful enough to have acquired some dollar denominated wealth, were in jeopardy of having the government take much of it back via monetarization/inflation.’

MILK

The real Harvey Milk in his own words. Under two minutes . . . recorded 30 years ago. See Sean Penn as Harvey Milk today.

SWISS CHEESE

What’s the point? So it’s got holes. Big whoop. Did anyone ever think about taste? It’s bland, inoffensive . . . what’s the word? Neutral! Oh – I get it.

EGGPLANT

Mark Kirby: ‘Ohmigod! You’ve got me craving eggplant and it’s only 8:45 in the morning. I’ll have to try your method of cooking. I love eggplant any way – fried, parmesan, and my late mother made an eggplant casserole that was exquisite.’

SARDINES

Brooks Hilliard: ‘Just spent 5 days early last month in and around Lisbon (my first time in Portugal). The Euro is down, local prices are reasonable, and many of the local (i.e., non-tourist) restaurants serve grilled sardines. I liked some of the other food better, but the sardines were quite good.’

Gil Walker: ‘A small tin of sardines, drained and rinsed, dumped into a partial carton of low fat cottage cheese, makes a healthy (and tasty) breakfast! My wife thinks my taste buds are shot. My grandkids think I am weird!’

COOKING LIKE A GUY™

Tim Couch: “Speaking of food, when is your book coming out?”

☞ A fine dining experience cannot be rushed.

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