On killing creatures and humans

I killed a spider this week and it was entirely by accident. Here in my easy chair I felt something crawling on my right ankle. Because of my partial paralysis,  all of my body below my mid-chest is feeling impaired and my right side has less feeling than my left. But I felt this thing ... I didn't know what it was but I crushed with my left foot. I looked down at the crushed mass and said to Kathee ... "there was something crawling on my leg". She came by (it was just before dinner) and with a tissue swiped the eraser sized clump off my leg. She examined it (I don't know why) and said "whatever it was it had legs".

I am not spider adverse! Several weeks ago someone gifted me with a nicely potted Azalea. From that pot on the center island of our kitchen, a small jumping spider emerged. I saw it several times on the countertop and let it live. I got close and watched it's bold reaction ... wary of the giant but not afraid. How could I kill it?!

One summer week at Boy Scout camp I coexisted with a Black Widow spider in my tent. I reasoned that as long as it didn't bother me, I wouldn't  bother it ... but I did pray quite a bit for safety and I was very careful entering and exiting the tent! Image source.

To be very Dexter-like, I purposely killed this week! I crushed a silver fish on the bathroom wall! Generally if bugs are outside ... they live! Inside the house ... they die! Spiders are exempted inside unless they are on my body! See Bert and Ernie.

More on killing: Across on on the wall from where I am now typing is the head of an antelope. My brother killed it and I ate it ... or at least the good parts of it. No one is protesting at my residence or forcing me into hiding. (Consider the case of Walter Palmer)

I am actually adverse to killing most things. Not that I haven't. I've run over at least one raccoon and probably a dozen squirrels. I really try to avoid squirrels but they seem to be somewhat suicidal. They appear to wait by the side of the road ... then dart out before the vehicle ... then stop and wait and turn around. Truth be told, the night long ago (in my early twenties) when I hit the raccoon I actually felt very badly and even cried a bit. Squirrels? I feel somewhat badly but no tears. Perhaps in another generation or two they will learn to watch carefully and dart in a straight line without turning back.

I stop for ducklings by the way ... although MNDOT says I should not!

 I've killed other things:

  • In my teen-aged years I used to shoot at birds with my trusty Daisy Model 25. One day I struck and killed a bird. It bothered me and I cried a bit. I regret that action and never shot at a bird again
  • Near my Uncle's house in Michigan we use to shoot at rats at the dump with his 22 pistol. It's not easy to kill rats at a distance, but I did kill some and it never bothered me a bit!
  • Several summers ago I killed a young rabbit with my mower. I don't believe I struck it, I think the roar of the whirling blades scared it to death. I stopped and examined it. It was lifeless but still warm. I wished I could have breathed the breath of life back into it.
  • Someone kills the chickens, pigs and cattle that I love to eat. In my childhood I watched grandma and grandpa chop the heads off chickens. I prefer eating them to killing them myself but I know someone does it.
This conversation raises some ethical questions that demand pondering:
  • The killing of the silverfish? If morally right why?
  • The killing of Cecil? If morally wrong why?
  • The killing of chickens (I am thinking of the very cute Chik Fil A billboards)? Right or wrong? Why? Image source. 

I suggest that abortion is so very wrong, so morally reprehensible, each act a Nazi-like atrocity because human beings are image bearers and that killing is forbidden by the moral law of God our Creator!


REIT Investing

Real estate investment trust

A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a company that owns, and in most cases, operates income-producing real estate. REITs own many types of commercial real estate, ranging from office and apartment buildings to warehouses, hospitals, shopping centers, hotels and even timberlands. Some REITs also engage in financing real estate. Created by the U.S. Congress in 1960, REITs were designed to provide a real estate investment structure similar to the structure mutual funds provide for investment in stocks. REITs are strong income vehicles because REITs must pay out at least 90 percent of their taxable income in the form of dividends to shareholders.
Comment: Image source. Some of the larger ones:

Note: VNQ is a REIT ETF. www.reit.com is a REIT specific website with educational materials. Also see the NY City REITs

Saint Joseph Cemetery

 photo IMG_0571.jpg
 photo IMG_0578.jpg  photo IMG_0577.jpg  photo IMG_0576.jpg  photo IMG_0575.jpg  photo IMG_0574.jpg  photo IMG_0573.jpg  photo IMG_0572.jpg

Comment: A beautiful spot. Map


Lump Sum vs. Annuity?

The Trouble With Taking a Lump Sum Pension Payout


Congratulations! You’re one of the shrinking number of Americans who have earned the right to a pension—guaranteed income for life for you and maybe for your spouse as well. Just make sure you don’t give it up too easily. That’s a real risk. Up to half of companies with pension plans, say experts, give workers the option of taking their pension as a lump sum. On top of that, 47% of corporate plans, including those from Boeing and Hewlett-Packard, either have just made or will soon make pension buyout offers to vested former employees, benefits firm Aon Hewitt reported earlier this year. Driving those offers are IRS rules expected to make buyouts less favorable for employers within a year or so. Lump-sum checks, often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, are tempting. Fifty-eight percent of employees take buyouts, and the share taking the lump-sum option at retirement is likely higher, says Aon Hewitt consultant Ari Jacobs. Pension industry experts and consumer advocates, however, say that for most workers the traditional pension is a better deal. So before you decide, think this over:

When to Take Steady Payments:  If you or your spouse is in good health and has a family history of longevity, lean toward taking the monthly pension. The advantages: The money lasts for life. If you make it to age 90—and 28% of 65-year-olds do—you’ll still be getting that check. And, in exchange for smaller benefits, your spouse can continue to receive half or often all of those monthly payments after your death. So if you’re a man and your wife survives you—on average, she will—she’ll get cash for life too. One downside: Unlike Social Security, most private pensions don’t adjust for inflation, so your purchasing power will diminish over time.
Comment: I chose the annuity option with 100% benefit to my wife if she survives me. It was the lesser of the amounts but we viewed it as the most conservative of the options. Image source.


Plymouth Minnesota area Jobs

Comment: A blog with helpful links.


Jim's High Yield 100K Portfolio

Comment: Working on a plan for 401K to IRA distribution. My amount is not $ 100K but the worksheet could be used for any amount. Click image for larger.


Cummins Inc.: a Dividend Engine

Cummins Inc. Increases Quarterly Common Stock Dividend

The Board of Directors of Cummins Inc. (CMI) today approved an increase in the Company's quarterly cash dividend on common stock of 25 percent to 97.5 cents per share from 78 cents per share. The dividend is payable on September 1, 2015, to shareholders of record on August 21, 2015. "The increase in our dividend reinforces our commitment to increasing returns to shareholders and reflects our confidence in our performance over the long term," said Tom Linebarger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "As a result of the Company's strong financial position, we are able to increase returns to our shareholders, while continuing to invest in the future and provide our customers with the best products and services that help them succeed."
Comment: Quote. Homepage.  97.5 cents per quarter = $ 3.88 per year for a forward yield of 3%. I used portions of my last two paychecks to buy CMI

"More Cowbell" and other Animated GIFs used by GOP

GOP Social Campaign Gets Animated Over GIFs


For Republicans’ digital strategy, repetition is key. Leonardo DiCaprio throws cash in a wastebasket while Emma Stone shrugs. Taylor Swift takes a golf club to a vintage AC Cobra. Will Ferrell bangs on a cowbell. And so they go, over and over again, as short, repeating images pressed into service for House Republicans’ social-media cause. House Republicans have deployed these moving images, known as GIFs—an acronym for “graphics interchange format”—on issues ranging from food labeling to immigration, trying to win over young voters. They launched the first ones in 2013, attacking the Affordable Care Act with a GIF of House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) saying “Are you kidding me?” while his head bobs and weaves, and bobs and weaves. The GOP has used GIFs in legislative fights ever since, one repeating image at a time. “We’re using GIFs to communicate our messages more creatively,” said Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), who is leading a campaign dubbed GOP Labs to train lawmakers on social media. She says the GIFs help the GOP reach younger audiences and “illustrate complex issues in a more fun and innovative way.”
Comment: I used to have an animated GIF editor (Paint Shop Pro). Had much fun with it. GIMP (open source) has an animation editor.

Below is the More Cowbell SNL skit:

Argentina's Tango with Foreign Debt

Why Argentina Consistently, and Unapologetically, Refuses to Pay Its Debts


Argentina’s fight with foreign banks and bondholders is more than just business. It’s part of the national psyche, enshrined in a special museum at the business school at the University of Buenos Aires. The Museum of Foreign Debt is nothing fancy. There are a few flimsy panels plastered with grainy photos, dates, text, and graphs. Oh, but the saga portrayed on those panels! Banks, bond investors, and the International Monetary Fund flood crooked regimes with overpriced credit. The Argentine economy collapses, and the people suffer. International markets are roiled. It happens time and time again. The story has all the emotions of a good tango. Argentina has reneged on foreign debt obligations at least seven times, starting in 1827. The latest was in July 2014, when Argentina defaulted rather than give in to pressure from Paul Singer of Elliott Management. The fight with Singer has been going on for a dozen years, and the term vulture investor—rather esoteric in much of the world—is now pretty much universally known in Argentina. It’s so much on people’s minds that Buenos Aires toy stores carry a homegrown board game called Vultures, packaged in a box depicting a pair of the birds picking at a pile of dollars. “We planted the anti-vulture flag in the world,” President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said in a speech in mid-May. “We gave a name to international usury and despotism.”
Comment: Museum of Debt website / FB page. Images above: screen shot of website and from FB photos. The Greece of South America!


Willow Benefits - Hugging My 4 Willows

National Tree Benefit Calculator


Your 36 inch Willow will intercept 3,764 gallons of stormwater runoff this year. Urban stormwater runoff (or "non-point source pollution") washes chemicals (oil, gasoline, salts, etc.) and litter from surfaces such as roadways and parking lots into streams, wetlands, rivers and oceans. The more impervious the surface (e.g., concrete, asphalt, rooftops), the more quickly pollutants are washed into our community waterways. Drinking water, aquatic life and the health of our entire ecosystem can be adversely effected by this process. Trees act as mini-reservoirs, controlling runoff at the source. Trees reduce runoff by: Intercepting and holding rain on leaves, branches and bark Increasing infiltration and storage of rainwater through the tree's root system Reducing soil erosion by slowing rainfall before it strikes the soil
Edina launches tougher rules against tree teardowns


“Cities are looking at the landscape for more of its functional value,” Holman said. “Along with the aesthetics, they want to make sure the builder or homeowner understands that the landscape performs functions like energy management, stormwater management, heat island mitigation.” For example, a mature oak tree can intercept more than 5,000 gallons of stormwater that would otherwise run off into sewers, according to an unofficial tree benefits calculator used by the DNR.
Comment: Image is from Wiki. But we have 4 large ones this size or more across the back of our property


GREXIT: "Greece’s exit from the eurozone – is the most likely outcome"

Markets are beginning to write off Greece


Through all the bluster, deadlines and ultimatums, global investors have figured bankrupt Greece and its tight-fisted creditors in Europe would work out a deal. A sloppy deal, but at least a way to avoid the worst-case scenario. But now they’re starting to plan for the worst-case scenario — a Greek exit from the eurozone and a return to its former currency, the drachma. Citi, for instance, said in a July 8 research note, “We are changing our view and now believe that Grexit – Greece’s exit from the eurozone – is the most likely outcome.”
Greeks Under the Gun to Produce a Reform Plan to Keep Euro


The continent’s most indebted country has never been closer to leaving the currency after more than six European leaders made clear this is Greece’s last chance. Failure to get a deal could result in the European Central Bank cutting funds to Greek banks, forcing the country to issue IOUs or some other form of exchange to prevent economic collapse. “Greece has to demonstrate a willingness to follow through and table some reforms extremely quickly,” Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at Eurasia Group, said in a note to clients. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who as head of Europe’s biggest economy carries the most sway, is willing to let Greece go if Germany doesn’t consider its plans credible, according to two government officials familiar with her strategy who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations.
Comment: Image source


KRFT becomes KHC Monday


A deal announced in late March that brought together two of the country’s best-known consumer food products companies is now complete and stock in the new Kraft Heinz Company begins trading Monday July 6th on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol KHC.

The new firm will be the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the U.S. Heinz has been privately held by 3G Capital and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) since 2011.

The two firms paid a total of $11 billion for Heinz. When the transaction closed last week, Berkshire Hathaway had acquired a total stake of 52.5% in Heinz. Buffett and two other Berkshire Hathaway employees will sit on the new company’s board and three 3G Capital executives will also join, including Alex Behring, who becomes chairman. Outgoing Kraft CEO John Cahill also gets a board seat.

Former Kraft shareholders now own 49% of the new company and former Heinz shareholders own 51%. Kraft shareholders also received a special dividend of $16.50 in cash plus one share of the new company for each share of Kraft stock they owned. The aggregate amount of the special dividend is approximately $10 billion and is being funded by 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway. The Kraft Heinz Company now owns a laundry list of some of the world’s best-known brands, including Jell-O, Maxwell House, Planters, and Kraft as well as Heinz’s ketchup, soups, and other products. Heinz effectively offered $67 a share for Kraft when the deal was announced in March. Since then Kraft stock has risen to close at $88.9 a share on Friday. The stock’s 52-week high is $91.32.
Comment: Official site.

Όχι: Now what?

Live blog on results


Germany's Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who has spoken to Tagesspiegel newspaper. He said Tsipras and his government were taking Greece down a path of "bitter abandonment and hopelessness." Tsipras has "torn down the last bridges which Europe and Greece could have crossed to find a compromise," Gabriel said. "By saying 'No' to the eurozone's rules...negotiations over billions of euros in bailout programmes are difficult to imagine."
Comment: If these results stand ... should be an interesting week!  WSJ: Greeks Set to Reject Bailout Terms


Throwing in the Badge ... I am officially retired

End sequence of Dirty Harry

  • I started working (in a job that would have paid into Social Security) in 1967 (farm labor at $ 1. per hour in a greenhouse in Delhi OH. 

Comment: Dirty Harry was released in December 1971. I am officially unemployed

About my time at Norwest / Wells Fargo:

  • I had what I would regard as a good career with them. I think Wells Fargo is a great company from my vantage point of a customer and an investor. 
  • I was fairly paid ... and well paid! I thank the Lord for this
  • I had some really good managers: Jeff W, Steve K, Denise R; and some so so managers; and one very bad manager (fortunately for less than 6 months)
  • I learned a lot:
    • Technical:
      • JCL
      • MVS systems programming
      • PL/1
      • COBOL
      • HTML
      • CSS
      • Cold Fusion 
    • Non-technical: Mostly in the realm of project management
  • I made many many friends and one or two enemies (that's not too bad!)
  • Am I going to miss it? Time will tell. As of today I am glad I am retired.