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INTERESTING TIMES

OCTOBER 31, 2020

Interesting Times

I was first introduced to the saying, May you live in interesting times, by Donald Sutherland in the 1994 film, Disclosure. Like many others since, I thought it was a positive statement meant to express blessings or kindness. I never imagined it might have its roots in something much more sinister.

Wikipedia suggests it's an English expression that is claimed to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. A curse? How could that be?

Wikipedia goes on to say that no Chinese source has ever been produced and that the nearest related Chinese expression translates as Better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos.

Well, I suspect everyone would agree that we do indeed live in interesting times, especially with the upcoming presidential election and all of the unusual events that have led up to it. The political landscape, shifts in culture, and unexpected centers of power are indeed providing us with something new, unusual, and perhaps even interesting.

Now, whether you consider these interesting times to be an expression of modern blessings or the product of a traditional Chinese curse may in fact depend upon whether or not your choice for president wins the upcoming election.


LOOK OUT BELOW

OCTOBER 30, 2020

Look Out Below

Look out below! That should have been the mantra for this week's Dow Jones Industrial Average.

However, I just saw an article on the market and the writer basically indicates that the market doesn't see a presidential election result that it doesn't like. In other words, the market thinks that either result look good.

I find that hard to believe when considering the drop in the Dow over the past week. It's an usually big drop (close to 2,000 points) in a market that was trending up for the first half of October. I have to believe folks are retreating ahead of the election.

Some market pundits point to a resurgence in Covid-19 as the cause for the drop, but I'm going with a fear of election results and particularly the fear of an inconclusive presidential election result next Tuesday evening.

As any market investor knows, the market does not respond well to the unknown. It's hard to imagine, but a swift Biden election could prove to have a more positive impact on the market than an unknown result. Is it possible that the market is anticipating an unknown result? It would not surprise me if that were true.

I still have my doubts about the effects of a Biden election on the market, but if what my gut is telling me is correct we may not have an opportunity to see that one. Still, if Trump is elected, the market may then turn it's attention back to the state of the pandemic and that could result in additional declines, unlike what happened after his election four years ago.


DON'T LOOK NOW BUT...

OCTOBER 29, 2020

Don't Look Now But

The debate rages on between proponents of the popular vote and the electoral college.

I noticed in the news on the Real Clear Politics website that one of my dad's favorite politicians made an interesting comment. Newt Gingrich mentioned a presidential poll that was showing Trump with 326 electoral college votes and suggested that it seems right to him. He also indicated that he believes the left is going to be "terribly shocked" as he put it.

I googled 326 electoral college votes to find the poll he was referencing, but found instead a multitude of websites forecasting that exact number of electoral college votes for Hillary Clinton back in 2016. Interesting! I added Clinton's name to my Google search and found even more sites forecasting the same thing.

Could we see the repeat of a similar surprise, and one that defies the pollsters, here in 2020? Is it possible that Newt Gingrich is right about what would have to be considered a potential landslide victory for Trump?

The problem with polls is that they are taken from smaller samples in an attempt to determine the potential result for a much larger population. And the other problem (and a very significant one) is a question of the similarities and differences between the demographics of the sample and that of the voting population. I have to believe that is where the real problem lies in most of the conflicting instances.

I hate to even mention the possibility of a built-in bias for the organization collecting the sample, but the incredibly skewed results of far too many polls in the 2016 presidential election leaves me little or no choice.

Of one thing I'm sure. It will be very interesting to watch this unfold.


POLITICAL PLATFORM

OCTOBER 28, 2020

Candidate or PlatformWhen it comes to the 2020 presidential election, I must admit I'm voting less for a candidate and more against a platform. The irony is that since my wife and I are retired and fit in the senior category, we would probably experience a far greater personal benefit (in the short-term anyway) if we voted for the other candidate, who has made so many promises to the seniors. If he only fulfilled a few of those promises, we would probably come out ahead.

But, it's the long-term that worries me. Who will pick up the tab for all of those promises? As has been said before, the problem with socialism (or in this case a shift in the direction of socialism) is that you will ultimately run out of other people's money.

More worrisome are all of the things that come with the opposition's platform. And, I'm concerned that a majority of our population now prefers a nanny state or a government that will look after them. If you had told me, not that long ago, that we would find ourselves in this position, I would have laughed at the notion.

Remember the nobles in Braveheart? As long as they received land and title they were pretty much happy to pass along the requirements for such gain to the common people. In my opinion, that's the exact situation we face if we vote in the opposition. They will prove to be the richer (and more powerful) for it and the rest of us will prove to be the useful fools!

God help us if the polls are correct this time around. And God help the pollsters if they are not!


ONE WEEK TO GO!

OCTOBER 27, 2020

Early Voting

As is sometimes the case, I'm writing this a day ahead of the date it will be posted. The futures are down 315 points and the financial pundits are blaming it on the resurgence of Covid-19 in the US and Europe.

I'm tempted to believe it's more a matter of the market's uncertainty about the results of the upcoming presidential election and even more likely the market's anticipation of a Biden win. But, who really knows?

One week remains until those who didn't vote early will cast their ballots and we discover who our president will be for the next four years. There's talk of a drawn out process to determine who actually will win the election, but all of that still remains to be seen.

In many ways this presidential election may prove to be a lose/lose proposition. Either we face a dramatic and far less than positive shift in our culture with a potential turn toward socialism (not to mention a myriad of other undesirable surprises) or we face four more years of a highly divided nation and a continued presidential witch hunt by the press and other haters of president Donald J. Trump.

Hope I'm wrong!


THREE MILE RUN

OCTOBER 26, 2020

GPS map

Yesterday, I headed out about 9 AM for one of my usual three mile runs. At the quarter mile point, where I would normally convert to the first of several short and fast walks, I decided to go ahead and run the entire first mile.

On those infrequent occasions where I decide to do this, I usually pick up the tempo a bit just to see how my pace looks after a mile. Turns out I ran the first mile in 8:57.14, just under nine minutes.

With a sub-nine minute mile (just barely!) in the books, I took a big leap and decided to run all three miles. I've known for several weeks that I wanted to do this, but had avoided it to reduce my risk of injury until I felt confident in my ability to get it done safely. Today felt like that day!

Even when I'm walking and running the same amount in each of the three miles, the times tend to vary just a bit. That's because mile one contains 1/10th mile of dirt and gravel and mile two has 2/10ths and mile three has 4/10ths. Since I had decided to run all three miles today, I did my best to maintain my pace each time I came upon a dirt and gravel segment. That's pretty tricky considering the pot holes!

I crossed mile two at 8:57.74 and only 6/10ths of a second slower than mile one. Wow! You can't beat that for a consistent pace, especially considering the extra 1/10th mile of dirt and gravel in mile two.

I'm always able to give a bit more on mile 3 because I know that rest is looming on the horizon. I gave it more today because I knew that the gravel and a bit of deep sand would meet me early on with more gravel again on the last 1/10th. I crossed the finish line and with it completed mile three at 8:56.23, about one and one half seconds faster than mile two. I'm quite amazed at how consistent my pace turned out to be on each mile.

The total time for the 3 miler was 26:51.10 and my AHR was 134 while my MHR was 148. My total estimated calories burned was 389 - ironically ten to twenty calories less than on my slower runs covering the same distance.


WRIST INJURY

OCTOBER 25, 2020

Wrist Injury

About two or three days ago I hurt my index finger on my left hand. All I was doing was putting on a tennis shoe and I reached back with my left index finger to pull my already tied left shoe over my left heel.

Ouch! I didn't know what I had done but I had clearly done something and afterward, pinching my thumb and index finger together brought a small amount of pain to my wrist. I didn't pay much attention to it and this morning, a couple of days later, I thought it might be safe to put that shoe on the same way. Wrong!

I apparently reinjured the same spot which brought both bruising and swelling to my left wrist. I suspect my typing this post is not helping matters either.

From what I have read online, a sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched or torn. Initially I thought I had sprained my left index finger.

However, the more I read about the symptoms the more I am led to believe that the excessive force against my index finger actually caused damage to a ligament in my wrist.

The lack of pain to the index finger and the amount of pain, bruising, and swelling to the wrist seem to confirm what I'm thinking.

The apparent good news is that what I'm reading online suggests my sprain is both self-diagnosable and self-treatable. It also suggests healing could take anywhere from two to ten weeks, depending upon the extent of the injury.

I guess we'll see...


PUZZLES & BASIC

OCTOBER 24, 2020

Puzzles & Basic

One of my twitter friends asked if he was being bad for using the #BASIC programming language primarily for simple tasks (to sort of paraphrase what he was asking.) I responded that if using #BASIC makes him bad then it makes me horrible because I love to use it and use it often in the puzzle arena.

Once I solve a puzzle, and depending upon the type of puzzle, it can be very interesting to write a #BASIC program to go back and see how many solutions there might actually be.

For example:

X
XXX
XXX
X

In the puzzle above, replace each X with the numbers 1 through 8 (using each of the 8 numbers only once) and such that no two consecutive numbers touch each other top to bottom, side by side, or diagonally.

Feel free to try it before scrolling down to reveal a solution.

In this example, I wrote a #BASIC program to both solve the puzzle, and to see how many possible solutions exist. The answer, as can be seen below, is four. It's not actually that difficult to imagine taking the solution (=1) and flipping it vertically (=2) or horizontally (=3) or both (=4) to generate the four possible solutions.

Now to be honest, there are only 8! possible considerations (8! = 8 factorial = 8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1 = 40,320) but to make the program easier to write, I used 8 to the 8th power (8^8 = 8x8x8x8x8x8x8x8 = 16,777,216) considerations.

As you can see in the results below, the program found 4 solutions evaluating 16,777,216 considerations and took 16 seconds to run on my laptop.

Puzzle 8



If you're looking for a bigger challenge, try this puzzle:

X
XX
XX
XXXX

In the triangle above, replace each X with the numbers 1 through 9 (using each of the 9 numbers only once) and such that the sum of the 4 numbers on each side of the triangle is the same.

Feel free to try it before scrolling down to reveal a solution.

See below for one solution and the number of possible solutions. Once again, to make the program easier to write, the puzzle was programmed using 9 to the 9th power considerations (9^9) instead of the more accurate 9 factorial (9!) considerations.

In the solution below, note that there were 864 possible solutions

In the solution below, note that there were also 5 possible sums:

And below each sum, note the number of possible solutions for that sum.

Puzzle 9


GARMIN SMARTWATCH

OCTOBER 23, 2020

Garmin

In December of 2017, Patty gave me a Garmin Vivoactive 3 smartwatch for Christmas. I had no idea what I was missing out on until I started using it. I love the realtime benefit of all that it provides for me during a run.

The capability to also off-load everything to my smartphone and view that data in an analytics reporting style was an unexpected and much appreciated benefit. I can't get over just how much information is provided for any given activity, whether it's a run, a walk, or even a bike ride or kayak trip.

I'm also grateful for Patty's timing since Garmin has made so many substantial improvements from the time they first came out until the time Patty got one for me. By the time I retired in 2018, my Vivoactive 3 was a critical part of my runs and was keeping me well informed of my progress and any opportunities for improvement. Old Garmin

As you can see in the picture to the right, the Garmin smartwatches were quite clunky when they first hit the running scene. I saw a guy wearing one at one of the half marathons I attended and made a note to myself that I wasn't yet interested in one of those.

Not only was the physical watch clunky, but it seemed that the operating system and applications performed in an equally clunky fashion - more like a computer than what I would expect from a smartwatch. Run Map

I love Garmin's GPS and the ability to upload to my smartphone and see so much data and a map of my run. And, as a senior runner where I'm now doing run/walks, I'm completely dependent upon it for tracking distance and pace for each running and walking segment.

From the realtime data, I am able to calculate (after the workout) my walking pace and my running pace. And as a result, I'm also able to determine my pace for a comfortable run versus my pace for a more strenuous run.

I've learned that on a 3 miler, I run 2.55 miles and walk .45 miles. My consistent walking pace is right at 16.5 minutes per mile and my running pace might reveal a 9:35 per mile pace on a comfortable day and a more strenuous 8:45 per mile pace on a day when I push myself.

Other things that I include in my running log and that come from my smartwatch include average and maximum heart rates and total calories burned. I also enjoy the graphics provided for the heart rate information. Quite impressive! What a great took my Vivoactive 3 smartwatch has turned out to be.


RUNNING UPDATE

OCTOBER 22, 2020

Jonathan Half Marathon
Jonathan and I cross the finish line at the 1995 Atlanta Half Marathon.

That's a great memory in the picture above!

In '95 Jonathan and I trained for and ran the Atlanta Half Marathon. We ran some of our longest training runs in 20 mph winds and at 20 degrees F. Looking back, I have no idea how we did that. It was quite painful as I recall.

To his credit, Jonathan was barely 12 years old when we ran the race and considering that 12 was the youngest age permitted and that he had only been 12 for about 3 months, it would not surprise me if he holds the title for the youngest runner of the Atlanta Half Marathon! Way to go my man!

Allie Half Marathon
Allie and I cross the finish line at the 2001 Atlanta Half Marathon.

That's another great memory in the picture above!

In 2001, Allie and I trained for and ran the Atlanta Half Marathon. Allie was attending Georgia Southwestern and I had the opportunity to drive down to the campus from home so we could do some of our training runs together. What a neat experience it was running around the campus together.

The training weather was not bad but it was rather cold on race day and I vividly remember Allie peeling off clothes to cool down as we ran while I tucked up even more in mine for any extra warmth to be found. Way to run it Allie!

Those were indeed great memories, but I'm a long way these days from covering that kind of distance at that kind of pace.

I wrote back on October 12th of this year that I was currently doing 2 mile training runs and that it was working well for me. However, on October 18th I decided to take it up a notch and am now doing daily 3 mile training runs with the same type of approach, injecting fast walks over short distances for faster recovery and a better pace on the running portions.

Over the three miles, I'm running 2.55 miles and fast walking .45 miles. I'm doing 3 walking segments per mile with each segment consisting of .05 miles and covered in around 45 to 48 seconds. Each fast walk follows a .25 mile run. To stay consistent with 3 walking segments for each of the three miles, so that I can better compare the miles against each other, I have to run the final segment at the end of the third mile.

With the walks, I'm covering each mile at about a 10:20 pace. Factor that with the time dedicated to the fast walks and I'm actually covering the .25 mile runs at a comfortable 9:20 pace. I'm quite able to pick up that pace and probably will over time, but the real objective is for the health benefit and not the speed work. As such, and needless to say, I will not be shooting for the kind of pace I have maintained in the past.


HURRICANES

OCTOBER 21, 2020

Hurricanes

Down here on the gulf, they refer to the risk of hurricanes as the Price of Paradise. We're winding down on another season but we take nothing for granted knowing that these storms have little respect for the dates that officially begin and end the hurricane seasons.

Back at the end of the 90's I read and article and shared it with Patty and it had a dramatic impact on both of us. One thousand seniors were surveyed about their greatest regret in life. I don't remember the exact number but I do remember it was over 80% and their regret was that they did not take more chances (risks) in life.

When you stop and think about that stat, it's actually pretty profound! For Patty and I, that stat led us to make two significant decisions. First, in the year 2000, we decided to launch Pocketwatch Productions. You can read about that by selecting the Filmmaking link under the Pictures menu item over on the left or by clicking here.

The second significant decision we made occurred in the end of 2013 when we decided to leave our home of 26 years in the Atlanta area, and in which we raised our kids, and move to Florida! I remember asking myself if we should take the conservative route and stay put, or take a risk and pursue the romance in life with a move to the water. I found the courage to run the question by Patty and together, with that aforementioned stat in mind, we opted for the romance.

For Patty and I, pursuing the romance in life was a very God-ordained thing. We've learned a lot about ourselves through these transitions. We've discovered more about our true priorities and the things that are really important in life. That's not to even hint at the idea that we made a mistake. On the contrary, we've seen God reveal himself to us time after time on this leg of our journey.

He's taught us more about the concept of waiting on Him. He's taught us how to be still and know that He is God via the works that He is performing in our lives. He's shown us the perfection of His plan in those moments where we got off target and dabbled with our own plan. We've learned that he communicates best and we hear and learn from Him most when we listen for His whispers.

For me, the challenge has always been to bloom where I'm planted. It's so easy to forget that God has a plan for me right where He has placed me! He has built in me such uniqueness that it's sometimes difficult to grasp the what and the where in my ability to be effective for His purposes.


FAMILY

OCTOBER 20, 2020

Family
The picture above was taken in Pensacola, Florida in 2015. Left to right in the picture are my wife and I, our son Jonathan and and his lovely bride Amy, our daughter Allie and her awesome husband Josh, and our two amazing grandsons - Noah and Gabe.

When it comes to family, I can't imagine any husband or father who has ever been more blessed and grateful than this guy! There are not enough bytes on the internet to capture all of the good things I could say about my wife, the kids and their spouses, and those amazing grandsons.

I'm grateful because my family members have all taken on the challenge to become students of this life. There is so much to be learned in this gift of a lifetime, and there is so much to be gained by pursuing those lessons of life and the experiences that come with them.

I crossed the 66 yard line of life last month and I find it hard to believe that there are so many simple lessons still to be learned this far down the path. I suspect each of us could spend several lifetimes and not even begin to scratch the surface of all that there is to learn and experience. But, discovering the peace and contentment that come with these lessons has been well worth the effort!

What a blessing it is, in these retirement years, to sit on the back deck with my soul mate and talk about the things God seems to be doing in our lives. I married such a wise, caring, and beautiful woman. And, I am grateful every day that she made a choice to spend her entire life with me. That's something that is still difficult for me to imagine, much less understand.

And, what a treat it is to hear from the kids and the grandsons and to share in the joys of their lives. All things considered, what more could this guy possibly ask for?


MY HAM RADIO STORY

OCTOBER 19, 2020

IC7600

I started my radio adventure in 1970 at the age of 16 years old in Albany, Georgia where I lived at the time. It all started with a Realistic 23 Channel Citizen Band (CB) mobile radio that I purchased from J.C. Penny's automotive department and installed in my 1961 Volkswagen Beetle. I added a pair of co-phased whip antennas that provided my VW with an odd and humorous insect-like appearance.

I was a member of a rock band and one of the other members (David T.) also purchased the same mobile CB radio from J.C. Penney's and we used to talk on the way to and from our late-night weekend gigs. In fact, when I purchased a CB base station, David very kindly came over and climbed a very tall pine tree to install my new omni-directional antenna at the very top.

With a bit of investigation, David and I discovered that the 23 channels on our CB radios were synthesized using 4 crystals. By swapping the location of these crystals we were able to generate private frequencies. To this day, I have no idea what frequencies we had generated, but they sure weren't any of the 23 channels that were derived when the crystals were in the factory installed positions.

As a senior in high school I used to attend what the CB crowd called coffee breaks. Truth is, these were nothing more than a meet-up at one of the local and more casual pizza places there in Albany. My favorite at that time was the Pizza Villa on Broad Avenue. (In fact, I took my wife there on our first date, and I took her back again at a later point to propose to her.)

It was at one of these CB coffee breaks that I met Sgt. Glen Picard, who was originally from Mississippi and had been stationed at our local Marine base. Glen was the MARS operator there on the base and ran the prestigious Collins S line of radio gear owned by the Marine Corps.

I met up with Sgt. Picard on the base one evening and joined him in the radio shack for a Mars radio session. I was hooked! Next thing you know I'm earning my novice license from the FCC (WN4FLV) and building a Heathkit transmitter and receiver.

I tied the rig into a half dipole mounted vertically on one of the pine trees in our yard. The other half of the dipole was actually a short piece of wire attached to a metal stake that was driven in the ground at the base of the tree. Of course, back then it was CW (Morse code) only for the first year and I managed to set up a weekly schedule on 40 meters each Sunday afternoon to play chess with another teenage ham up in North Georgia.

After the required 12 months as a novice, I drove to Atlanta and took and passed my General exam and the 13 words per minute Morse code test. Weeks later I received my new call (WA4KGC) in the mail.

By the time my General license arrived, I had already sold my Heathkit gear and moved up to a Drake TR4C transceiver and a TA-33 jr beam antenna mounted on a well guyed 30' push up pole.

Of course, as a high school student I was still living at home and in retrospect it sure was kind of my parents to tolerate all of my radio shenanigans there around the house - especially installing a large rotating beam atop our nice home in an area of town not known for that kind of (less than appealing) stuff waving up in the air.

When I was not away to college, I was an active member of the Albany Amateur Radio Club. In the very early 70's when touchtone became available to the world of Amateur radio, I went to the junk yard and purchased an additional dash panel for my Chevy Vega. In it, I cut a hole and mounted a touchtone pad that I attached to my 2 meter mobile rig and was an early adopter of mobile phone calls, well before cellular phones were on the horizon. I had become a technical legend in my own mind!

My junior year was spent at FSU in Tallahassee and I took my HF rig down and managed to do a midnight install of a 40 meter dipole antenna with a feed to my window. Funny how no one ever noticed it. I suppose no one ever stopped to notice that it (what they must have thought was a power line) actually terminated on a pine tree. I also started the first, and a very humble, FSU Ham Radio Club. Unfortunately, we never had enough members to get anything interesting going.

My senior year was spent back in Georgia at (then) Valdosta State College. In a much more daring midnight install, I mounted a 2 meter beam on the roof of my dorm. I had a room on the top floor and remember climbing out of my window and up onto the roof. The funny memory, which I'll never forget, was me hanging on the edge of the roof (after the install) preparing to go back through my window when a security guard walked out of the door immediately below me. He looked around but never looked up. After he went back in I managed to climb back through the window and that was that!

In 1980 Patty and I moved to Savannah and I joined the K4NLX club. I was very active on 2 meters and HF and called a lot of the weekly 2m nets. The kids were getting old enough to do stuff so I sold my gear and my ham radio hobby went silent.

It wasn't until 2002 that I jumped back into the hobby while living in Douglasville, Georgia. I took the vanity call K4SQL. Not long after, my dad earned his technicians license (N4WIA) and we met up on 2 meters from Douglasville to Stone Mountain. In 2005 my dear XYL (wife) earned her license (KI4ODL) so we could keep up with each other if we were both out and about.

In 2010 I earned my extra class license but the high point for all of the years I have been in the hobby came on November 20, 2010 when at 22:07 I made contact with Commander Doug Wheelock aboard the International Space Station on expedition #25 as it made a southeasterly pass across the United States. It was a short QSO but quite amazing to hear him say, "K4SQL, this is NA1SS. Welcome aboard the International Space Station."

In 2014 we moved to Florida and landed in a townhome on Perdido Bay in Pensacola, Florida. I was convinced that we would probably retire there (wrong!) and that I would probably have no more involvement with the ham radio hobby (wrong again!) but In 2016 we moved inland a bit and I purchased the IC-7600 (pictured above) that I use presently. I was in a covenant restricted neighborhood and I must admit the 20m dipole in the attic left a lot to be desired.

Fortunately, we moved here to Wakulla county a year later (May 5, 2017) and I strung up my 20m dipole some 25' in the air and have had a blast with HF ever since! In 2018 I became active with digital modes and in 2019 I took up FT8 and have not looked back since!

When I earned my amateur radio license from the FCC back in 1973, I had no idea I was joining such an elite community of individuals with so much knowledge and a highly diverse set of technical skills. It's a great group of people from all walks of life and from all points on the globe.

The friends I have made and the things I have learned from them will stay with me for a lifetime. It's been an amazing journey!

If you're a ham and don't catch me on the air, you can catch me on Twitter @K4SQL.

73's,

Hutch ~ K4SQL


PUZZLES

OCTOBER 18, 2020

cube

When I was too young to remember, my parents recognized in me a real passion for puzzles. And, as a result, there was sure to be at least one puzzle in the list of birthday and Christmas presents for many years to come.

I vividly remember the first puzzle I received around the age of 5, and the countless hours of fun I had with it. It was a large, clear, plastic cube filled with a maze of clear one inch squares. The object was to put the black marble in one side and work it through the maze until it came out of the other side.

I also remember, many years later, when the Rubik's Cube came out. It seems that, for the next few years, I obtained every knock-off to the cube that was made available. And, there were many!

There was a 2x2x2 cube (8 cubes), a 4x4x4 cube (64 cubes), a triangular cube, a dodecahedron (12 sides), and a puzzle that went from the shape of a snake to a somewhat spherical shape, not to mention Rubik's Magic (an "out of the box" flat puzzle.)

Recently I was watching the movie Snowden (again!) and was reminded of my passion for puzzles by the scenes in the movie that featured Edward Snowden holding, and playing with, a Rubik's Cube. I decided to dig mine out and see if I could re-educate myself on one of the many solutions.

After hours of playing with it, I was able to consistently solve it with no aides but at a snails pace compared to the guys who compete against one another. While they are able to solve it in seconds, I need minutes to get the job done - and more than a few!


INVESTING

OCTOBER 17, 2020

Investing

I've been an avid investor in the stock market for about as long as I can remember. It all started somewhere around 1985 while I was in Savannah, Georgia. I took a ride downtown and opened up an account with now defunct E.F.Hutton.

The type of investing anyone can do today was only a dream back then. You had to call a broker to place an order and the extremely high commission rates forced longer hold times if one was to walk away with any profit after covering the commission on the trade.

I was impatient and wanted to do my own trading, but couldn't. Stock quotes weren't generally available either, but I found a way around that. I purchased a vic-20 computer and wrote a program to log into the Dow Jones system, obtain my (free) stock quotes, hang up, convert the prices to phone number format, dial my pager, and send the information in a very cryptic fashion - since pagers only relayed numbers back then.

A quote might look like this on my pager: 0013578

The 001 meant it was a quote for IBM

The rest of the digits relayed the stock price - 35 and 7/8ths.

In September of 1987 I was riding to work and heard a financial news report that the Japanese were pulling out of the US stock market. Sensing that they were a lot smarter than I was, I called my broker and asked him to sell all of my positions. He cussed me for going to cash in what was, and continues to be, the strongest bull market of all times - 1974 to 1987.

But, due to that highly fortunate rookie move, the next month I was spared a very debilitating loss of cash when Black Monday came along. In fact, my young broker lost pretty much everything and, as he told it, had to move back in with his parents.

When I retired, I decided to cash out again and move to a much more conservative approach for saving. I had been very fortunate over the years and did not want to risk my gains. I must say, however, that it was very painful to see the market climb so steeply while I wasn't in it, only to be brought back down to earth with the arrival of covid-19. At this point in life, I'm staying on the sidelines!


WEBSITE UPDATES

OCTOBER 16, 2020

Website

Had a fun time adding some updates to the website yesterday. As I have mentioned before, it's probably the thing I enjoy most about having a website/blog.

I added the capability to see recent posts which required some retooling of the infrastructure. It was probably the most demanding and time consuming change that I made to the site in yesterday's changes.

I also removed my Twitter feed on the right side and moved some menu items from the left side to make room for the recent posts menu entry. And, I dabbled with the menu labels font size to allow for more text without a crowded appearance.

I added a website archive and performed some modifications to the main page to ensure a proper alignment between it and the left and right menus, both of which were quick and easy changes. I added back my genealogy post from an earlier entry on my previous website since it's something to which I like to refer back from time to time.

Finally, I modified the Home section so that the entries from the current month will always show up on the main feed. I may dabble with that some more, but need to give it some additional thought.


FITNESS

OCTOBER 15, 2020

Food

In my mind, the term fitness covers three categories - cardio, weight training, and diet. And, if I'm honest, I've only focused on one of them in the 30 years that I've laid claim to anything that resembles a fitness plan. I've been a consistent runner to cover the cardio aspect, I've been hit and miss with diet (more miss than hit!), and I've intentionally and completely ignored weight training.

I'm looking to take corrective action on those two categories that have gone lacking for far too many years. In fact, back in June I made some big changes in the diet department and haven't looked back. The resulting weight drop has been incredible and removing processed sugars entirely has made a big difference in both the body weight and energy departments. Removing the option for anything with processed sugars has been one of the most difficult diet related tasks I have ever performed. It took weeks to get beyond the cravings!

I don't have the type of body that bulks up with weight training, but just for the improvement in strength and my upper body, I think it's worth it to develop a basic regimen. After all, I have two 20 pound dumb bells and there's quite a bit I can do at home with them to balance out what the running is doing for my legs and my core.


BIDEN OR TRUMP?

OCTOBER 14, 2020

President

If all goes well, in three weeks we should know the answer.

I'll go on the record and admit it up front. If Trump does not win the election and continue to be our president for another four years, I will be the most surprised person in the country. There, I've said it and I'm on the record.

I know, the polls say something very different. And I'm by no means ignoring them just because of what happened four years ago. On the other hand, I'm not ready to say that the current polling numbers represent reality either. I've lost all faith in the pollsters and their interest in seeking an honest and accurate result.

The truth is, no matter how a person feels about Trump, I just can't bring myself to believe that a majority thinks Biden is a better choice and that people will vote in a president who represents a party that has participated in violent acts all across our nation and that wants to defund our police forces. How on earth did we get to this place in our country?

I live in a county in Florida that voted for Trump in 2016 by more than a two thirds majority. No matter the over-all results, it will be interesting to see how our small county's numbers compare in 2020. I recognize that there were a lot of close state races in 2016 and that Trump's commanding win in the electoral college was not reflective of what happened with the popular vote. However, I also believe that Hillary provided more competition to Trump than Biden. I suppose that really sets me up for a jolting shock if Biden wins.

I do have one question, however. If the Democratic Party truly believes they will defeat Trump here in 2020, why do they have Nancy Pelosi preparing a bill in reference to the use of the 25th amendment? Why is she, on behalf of the party, assuming such a risky proposition when considering who it might anger and push across the aisle to vote for Trump? And, isn't this just another unfounded attempt to remove a legitimately elected president from office?


COVID-19

OCTOBER 13, 2020

Covid-19

In my old blog, I started writing about Covid-19 about the time it showed up on the nation's radar. I'm confident that my strong Libertarian leanings were apparent in the things I chose to write. But to assume I towed the Libertarian line would be to incorrectly assume that I did not struggle with the topic. I struggled!

Opinions varied widely and I don't think there were many well established and agreed upon facts surrounding much of the controversy as it evolved and continues to evolve. It seemed that the perceived reality of Covid-19 was continually changing and at the speed of light.

Even now the debate over whether or not we should each be wearing a mask seems to thrive. And when you take the medical perspective and introduce the political perspective, the fireworks are sure to follow.

There's one thing I remain sure of in my own mind. There should not be (and should not have been) any federal (or local) mandates for businesses (private enterprise) to shut down. Announce the medical risks, as they are understood at the time, and then allow buyers and sellers to make their own decisions. Business owners are used to evaluating risk/reward decisions and the associated impact on each side of the equation.

Oh, and by the way, most all business owners are going to feel essential in the nature of what they offer, if not for their own survival. And guess what? Most consumers will also have their own opinions about what they consider to be essential. So, who in the government sector (or for that matter, any sector) is well enough informed to take away the rights of consumers or producers and providers to buy and sell goods and services? My answer? No one!


RUNNING

OCTOBER 12, 2020

Running
The picture above is one I took in the midst of the crowd at the inaugural Savannah Rock and Roll Half Marathon on an unusually cold day in Savannah, Georgia. It's a special memory for me because it was the last half marathon and distance race that I ran.

As I mentioned before, I started this blog with a sole focus upon running. Even 15 years ago, when I started this blog, I had already been running for an additional 15 years. Over those 30 years I've logged a great many training miles, not to mention the 30 half marathons, one full marathon, and countless 5K and 10K races. I've also run more than a dozen Peachtree Road Races (10K's) over the years when I lived in the Atlanta area.

As I've grown older, one of the most difficult running challenges I have ever faced was backing away from those distance races, and races in general, in favor of a lighter running regimen. I ran a 5K at FSU and have more recently run a couple of virtual 5K's, but all in all I'm trying to stay true to my focus on good health and fitness and it's required that I develop an even keener ear in listening to all that my body is trying to tell me in this season as a senior runner.

I have nowhere near the amount of endurance I used to have and my recovery times are significantly longer than they were not that many years ago. As a result, I've adopted a dramatic change to my running regimen, but it works well for me. I still run most every day, but I only do 2 miles and that includes roughly 9/10ths run and 1/10th fast-walked in each mile. The unexpected benefit that has come with those changes to my regimen is that I have grown to really love running once again and am able to cover those two miles at a very respectable pace in order to keep the heart rate up.

Best of all, my training runs come with a beautiful view of the water down here on the gulf, a view of the amazing wildlife, and the ever-pleasant Florida running weather. What more could a senior runner ask for?


BACK TO BLOGGING

OCTOBER 11, 2020

Blogging

It all started with a website I created in September of 2005. At that time, the one and only topic was running. Truth be told, I was in it as much or more for the fun of learning to build and maintain a website than with any belief that I had something to say and that was worth writing about.

I was most interested in learning more about the technical side of this new thing (at that time anyway) called blogging and, to one degree or another, that has basically remained my focus over the years since. Without a doubt, anything I had to say and write about was secondary to the technical aspects of the website.

Years ago, I moved to WordPress and enjoyed the opportunity to gain exposure to a more diverse picture of blogging. Writing posts from my phone and entering the world of comments was new and exciting, but it didn't last very long. I missed the control I had over website design and decided to move back to building and maintaining a blogging website and expanding upon its offerings with a database and PHP managed comments that more resembled what I had observed in WordPress.

As I expanded the list of topics about which I was writing, I lost focus and with it any readership I had earned. As a result, I removed the technology I created for comments. My blog evolved to become a personal scrapbook and has pretty much remained in that category since. And, if I'm truly honest, I like this new paradigm.

I have no interest in monetizing the site (and thus turning it into a job) and I have no interest in attempting to build a readership that requires my participation. I enjoy the technology, the creativity, the artistic elements, and the writing. As for the social elements, I'll leave them to those who pursue that kind of thing.

From a technical standpoint, I'm quite happy to pioneer what has already been pioneered. I'm very comfortable rediscovering that which has already been discovered. And, I'm very much at home improving upon that which has already been improved.


Copyright © 2020 Hutch DeLoach