THE BEES KNEES

Before I begin, I want to stress that I have the body of a 26-year-old (even if, in situations like this, the mind of a 12-year-old), and that I am not actually some old guy talking about joint pain. Not me! But let’s just say that a really, really close friend of mine was finding that his knees hurt when he’d crouch down to find something (manly and athletic) under the sink, or when he went out (on his manly one-speed Schwinn) for a ride, and so – filled with skepticism, but filled even more with dread of knee surgery – this friend of mine began taking three big ‘glucosamine with chondroitin’ tablets (as recommended on the bottle) each night before he went to sleep. That was (he tells me) several years ago now. And no (he readily admits) he is not a doctor, and bases his opinion on just a single case (his own). But, he says – even as you would expect that, with the years, his cartilage-worn joints would have worsened – instead, in fact, after a few months the pain just disappeared. The glucosamine-and-chrondroitin pills seem to have deposited new shock absorbers around his joints.

I just hope that when I get to be an old guy, I remember this little hint. G+C is readily available in health food stores and even many supermarkets around the country. Or, cheap, by mail.

The perfect gift for Mother’s Day, May 8? Father’s Day, June 19?

(For Graduation Day, of course, you’ll want to get them this.)

UPDATE

The Dow is now about 5% lower than it was five-plus years ago when President Bush was selected and we went to more or less total right-wing Republican control. (This is not to tar all Congressional Republicans as rightwing; but you will not find moderate Republicans in the leadership.)

In that same time, we have also lost the good will of much of the world and added 35% to our national debt.

But at least we got Bin-Laden.

WHERE TO PUT $5,000

Catherine Hogan: ‘I have a friend who is looking to invest $5,000 for the next few years and he was curious as to the best place to do that. I feel the stock market is pretty volatile right now and I wouldn’t recommend it. Any suggestions?’

☞ Knowing only that much, I’d say: a savings account (assuming credit cards are paid in full each month, the attic is adequately insulated, etc.). This admirable but modest sum really is for a rainy day fund, not for investing – especially if his/her time horizon is just ‘the next few years,’ as you say, and not ‘the long term.’ The next few years could be wonderful. But based on current trends and leadership, I wouldn’t bet too heavily on it.

SMALL CHANGE

Bob Novick: ‘With EmigrantDirect.com you can get 3.25% on money market. It is a bit of a hassle to setup – but still that is 60% better return than your typical 2%.’

John Perko: ING Direct now pays 3% on their accounts – no minimum, no fees, convenient links to your checking account.’

SMALLER CHANGE

Dennis King: ‘Do you have any info or opinion about AmeriTrade IZone? I was all set to open a Scottrade account ($7 trades) when I came across their $5 trades. It apparently is a non-advertized division of Ameritrade.’

☞ Amazing. I didn’t know about this (and I not only trade through Ameritrade, I own a few shares of the stock – shows you what thorough research I do). But gee, if you do so much trading that it makes a difference, you’re doing too much trading!

To me, there’s no meaningful difference between the $5 commission you have uncovered, the $7 you were headed for, the $8 I pay at Fidelity, and the $11 that I pay at Ameritrade. All four are essentially equal when viewed beside the $300 or more I often pay for the exact same trade at Smith Barney (or would pay any other traditional broker).

 

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