Sorry about Friday. Charles and I were up at this phenomenally posh resort (on someone else’s phenomenally generous nickel) that, as part of its charm, had no phones in its $1,500-a-night rooms, let alone data ports. The theory being that people who can afford to spend that much on a room probably don’t have daily deadlines to meet.
It’s on a beautiful lake in the Adirondacks, formerly the camp of a Rockefeller, now 11 rooms for 22 guests with a staff of about 44. Friends of ours rented the whole place and chartered a plane to fly up 11 happy couples to celebrate their 10th anniversary. One of the straight couples had been together 38 years, one of the gay couples 34 years. Charles and I were the least senior at not quite 7.
The food was mountainous and spectacular. The mosquitoes were shivering in their little mosquito lean-tos and didn’t come out to bother us. We walked around a 4-mile pond (while others scaled little mountains and water-skied in wet suits – what were these people thinking), we ate, we went out on the lake in an electric boat (run silent, run slow), we ate some more, and some more – and, well, the dog ate my homework. Plus, I now weigh an even 400 pounds.
Despite e-mail and CNN-deprivation, it was, from my perspective, a good few days.
- Obviously I was very happy about Jim Jeffords. Yes, we need moderates in the Republican Party. But until the leadership of the Republican Party is moderate, I’m sure glad control of at least one branch of the government has come back into Democratic hands. These days, in my view, moderate Republicans are really DLC Democrats, they just have not yet made the switch. Their hearts are on the left but their wallets are on the right. They believe, as I do, that a bleeding heart is a perfectly well-functioning body part, but that a jerking knee is a body part in need of immediate repair. They advocate free trade, fiscal responsibility and innovative, practical solutions such as competition from charter schools.
- TiVo, in which, I told you April 24, I bought a few shares, more than doubled, from $4.50 or so to better than $11. Friday’s trading volume alone was 18 million shares, up from an average of 600,000. It seems that they’ve been granted some patents that may or may not cause their competitors to have to pay a license fee. My hope is that they set the fee so low that all the competitors figure it’s better just to agree than face possible litigation. Because whether or not TiVo makes it selling TiVo’s – I have no idea if it will – I do firmly believe that virtually all TV’s will have TiVo-like capability a few years from now (just as almost all TV’s now have a color picture and come with a remote control) . . . and 50 cents from each TV sold in the world . . . well, it’s just when people like me begin dreaming of such things that it’s usually time to sell. But I plan to hold on.
- Our other stuff is doing OK, too. The five stocks from a much smarter friend suggested here in March of last year are up more than 65%, in what has been a generally trying time. The skepticism on stocks like Amazon and Dell and Juniper and Cisco – even though they are fine companies in many ways – proved not to have been entirely misplaced. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Preferred J (GAJ) suggested in January at $12 sits at $21, up 75% plus dividends. And although I have made more than enough dumb investments over this period to entirely wipe out these gains, at least I had the presence of mind not to suggest them to you. (Well, I did tell you I bought Audible.com in the same way I mentioned TiVo, and so far that one’s substantially under water and, for all I know, may well just keep sinking.) Even the handful of stocks I suggested last August, which dipped about 10%, are now up more than 10%. And one of them deserves its own bullet point…
- Borealis (BOREF) the ridiculous stock I first wrote about November 16, 1999 (“A Stock That’s Surely Going to Zero”) and then again in March, August, and November of last year, is still surely going to zero – how could it not? – and yet Friday, for the first time, it issued a press release, with the apparent acquiescence of Boeing, that suggests that conceivably (and I stress conceivably), it could actually be real. If this proves to be the case, I will no longer need to write this column to make my living. All I can tell you is that it remains highly speculative; that if you bought your 100 shares at $4 or so, as urged, and eventually lose all your money, I will have lost a lot more; and that if it should double or triple in the coming months, I won’t be selling.
Quote of the Day
Panics do not destroy capital; they merely reveal the extent to which it has been previously destroyed by its betrayal into hopelessly unproductive works.~John Stuart Mill, 1867 (Like shopping centers in the middle of the desert. Or millions of pages of legal documents.)
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