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Showing posts from March, 2019

Futureproofing: Compound Interest Is Your Frenemy

First, an apology for using the term "frenemy." I hate this word but find it useful for this post.
What is compound interest? From our friends at Wikipedia: Compound interest is the addition of interest to the principal sum of a loan or deposit, or in other words, interest on interest. How does it work? With stunning efficiency. For instance, if you have an interest-bearing savings account, compound interest is your friend, as your banking institution will pay interest (albeit a minisule amount these days) on the principal dollar amount. Over a long period of time, compound interest is earned on both the principal and accumulated interest, eg $100 principal + 5% interest = $105.00. Left untouched, your next round of 5% interest will be paid on the $105.00 balance, resulting in a sum total of $110.25. This is a simple (and unrealistic, in terms of interest paid) example of money making money.
If, however, you have debt on an interest-bearing loan, compound interest if your e…

The World In Which We Live: Safety Is An Option Edition

In a world in which Fight Club, The X Files, and the complete works of Phillip K Dick have collided into one twisted reality we call normal (with a dash of Black Mirror and The Big Short for flavor), we now learn that software upgrades that could have prevented the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max passenger jets were available... at a price. "Want your passengers to live to fly another day? Sure, but it'll cost you." And I'm unsure who is more evil, the manufacturer for making safety features ON A FLYING MACHINE optional at additional cost or the airlines for declining to install the features. This is a stunning failure of human decency in the eyes of this writer.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised. This is business as usual in our extortionary economy. In the US, medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy, a real-world manifestation of the "your money or your life" ethos of the street thug in literature and film. The hand wringing over what shoul…

Quote Of The Day, Harrison Edition

Some of our strangest actions are also our most deeply characteristic: secret desires remain weak fantasies unless they pervade a will strong enough to carry them out. - Jim Harrison, Legends Of The Fall

Anatomy Of A Photo: Weathervane

Chattanooga, Tennessee is a vibrant city. Its Bluff View Art District overlooking the Tennessee River is home to galleries and the Hunter Museum. Situated nearby is this weathervane, as seen from below in this photo.

Quote Of The Day, Maclean Edition

One of life's quiet excitements is to stand somewhat apart from yourself and watch yourself softly becoming the author of something beautiful even if it is only a floating ash. - Norman Maclean

Creek Fishing For An Elusive Beauty: Red Eye Bass

After a decades-long absence, I started fishing again a few years ago. Having a young son means teaching valuable skills for later use, and what is more valuable than a method of food gathering, especially when that method is equally fun, exciting, and relaxing, often all at the same time?

The Deep South offers a great variety of fish species to angle for, from hand-size pan fish to monster catfish weighing in the hundreds of pounds. The pond I fish from at the local park is home to bluegill, small and large mouth bass, black and white crappie, carp and catfish, making representative of the most common local species in one pond. However, there is another bass species I've caught there, in a place it doesn't really belong. The species is the red eye bass, or rock bass.
The smallest member of the bass family, the red eye (my preferred name for it; why must Southerners have multiple names for one species of fish? I'm looking at you, bluegill/bream) makes its home in cool stre…

Futureproofing: Crypto Madness!

I'll start by assuming you've heard of Bitcoin and perhaps some of the other cryptocurrencies, such as Ether and Litecoin. If not, a quick web search is in order.
If you have been following the prices of cryptos, you'll no doubt be as stunned as the rest of the world by their volatility. 2017 was the year of All Time Highs being met swiftly and regularly, while 2018 to the current date of this writing is considered the "crypto winter". While the current price represents roughly 80% decline from the all time highs reached in December 2017, even this is not the greatest drop the 10 year history of Bitcoin. What lessons do we take from the wild ride that is crypto?
Lesson One: Volatility is an inherent part of the landscape, at least for now. Dizzying highs and gut-wrenching lows are the norm. If you can't handle volatility, avoid crypto like the plague. As always, NEVER invest more than you can afford to lose. In a high volatility environment, such losses can …

Quote Of The Day: Crowley Edition

I do not want to father a flock, to be the fetish of fools and fanatics, or the founder of a faith whose followers are content to echo my opinions. I want each man to cut his own way through the jungle. - Aleister Crowley

Anatomy Of A Photo: Forlorn Angel

This photo is an example of what I call a happy accident. While wandering in a cemetery in Rome, Georgia, I found this stunning, weather worn sculpture. I took my camera (then a Nikon P-50) from my pocket, composed the shot and pressed the shutter button. It was an overcast day and the exposure was a bit longer than expected; also, the P-50 had noticable shutter lag. The result is this photo, in all its blurred, slightly offcenter composition. This happy accident is a much better photo than what I had in mind when tripping the shutter.

Anatomy Of A Photo: Gram's Grave, My Pick

Gram Parsons was a musical pioneer, multi instrumentalist, and fellow Georgian. The creator of Cosmic American Music left a strong impression in his short career, and the music he made continues to inspire. I visited his grave in New Orleans some years ago (getting directions to his grave site from a lady assisting at a funeral, who saw him perform with the Flying Burrito Brothers - opening for the Grateful Dead at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco, no less - was an experience I'll never forget). It was decorated with shells and small keepsakes from fans, and this time I brought my own: a pale blue guitar pick I'd had since the late 80's when I was bassist in a garage band. Not sure where to place it, I went for the most natural choice, between the thumb and index finger on the marker. It fit perfectly.

Quote Of The Day, Kafka Edition

I usually solve problems by letting them devour me. - Franz Kafka

Anatomy Of A Photo: Winter

Winter leaves the deep South a stark, barren place, yet there is beauty all around. Light and texture make the area a photographer's hunting ground in cold weather.

Anatomy Of A Photo: Angel Of New Orleans

New Orleans is famous for its cemeteries, and rightfully so. They are cities within a city, gathering places for the living in honor of the dead. Monuments abound, and the piece above was striking on an overcast June day.

Quote Of The Day, Hemingway (Again)

Before you react, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you criticize, wait. Before you quit, try. - Ernest Hemingway

Anatomy Of A Photo: All That Remains

On a mountain road in northeast Georgia, not far from the town of Dahlonega, stands the chimney of a house long fallen. One wonders what became of the home and those who dwelt in it. This was gold country, home to the first gold rush, twenty years before John Sutter discovered gold in a creek in California. What fortune led to the building of this chimney, and what misfortune led to it being all that remains of a settler's dream?