Parenthood 101

 

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My granddaughter Claire growing up.

I was sitting in a transfer bus traveling from the Seattle Hilton to SEA-TAC (Seattle) airport. Across from me sat a man who was telling his eleven-ish year old son a story. It sounded as though, from my point of view, the story was being created as it was being told. The boy was totally enthralled with the story as his father masterfully weaved his way through an elaborate tail consisting of costumes, adventures and crazy characters. The father and the son often times played the characters as the depth and detail of the story continued to grow. It was truly a joy to listen to and watch.

As I saw this story unfold, I experienced some heart ach that at first I was somewhat uncertain about; but eventually realized that the feeling resulted from something missing in my life. To be candid, my father and I never engaged in anything remotely similar to what this young boy was experiencing. In fact, I was very envious of the child’s relationship with his father!

Over time, I have come to the realization that parenting skills are a result of generations of love, abuse, neglect, caring and the general uncertainty and chaos of life. What my mom and dad experienced as children is what limited their skills as a parent; what my grandparents experienced was what fashioned their parenting skills. So, my skills as a parent are in some way related to generations of family rearing! Despite my best efforts, I have always felt like a man with no arms trying to swim through the almost certain turmoil of raising children. I feel as though I never witnessed first hand what a father should or could be. While raising my children, quite often I wanted to reach out and say or do the right thing, but always felt unprepared and somewhat lost. Sitting in that bus watching the delight in that boy’s eyes reminded me of the emptiness I have felt most of my life.

I guess the purpose of this story is to remind others and myself of the complexities of love and family. It is important to remember that we are a collection of bits, pieces and genes randomly glued together over many generations to make us who we are. My father, despite his lack of skills as a parent, was a good person but also a product of his family environment. At this point in my life, I am sure he wrestled with the same feelings I have. He is gone now so I will never get the chance to discuss all of this with him even though I am pretty certain given his temperament, it could not have been discussed while he was alive.

So now I have three children who are grown and making their way through life. I often wonder if I have somehow been as good a parent as I could have been. I wonder as well if my wife and I have given them enough love and family closeness that they do not experience the emptiness I experienced. My best guess is that it takes several successful generations of parenting to create a really great parent. My hope is that we have been at least been somewhat reasonably successful.

Checking in from Alaska and the Yukon

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I only look drunk…
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Looking At the Rockies as we head West.

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Can you identify this plane?

 

Are tiny rental car in Seattle.
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Pikes place market in Seattle, a mass of people buying all kinds of stuff.

 

A fish salesman in Pike Place.

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Seattle is a great city to spend the day!

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Can you see the mountain the the clouds?
Will try and check in again this week.
Right now we are in Whitehorse Canada and the weather is good.
Talk soon.

The stock market, an American dream

Gold bars

We have all heard stories of the little old lady who bought Walmart stock over the years and now has millions of dollars. The truth of the matter is: in my brief existence I have seen very few real success stories in the market. Much like the lottery, the stock market is the financial equivalent to the American dream of success. People are elated over the fact that the market has done so well these last couple of years, but in truth, the massive increase in stock values is really nothing more than the decreased value of the world’s currency. The inflation created from vast amounts of money ‘the Fed’ is printing decreases the actual worth of each dollar, which is the problem.
So, when we middle-classers store up our dollars for retirement using some kind of stock fund and watch over the years as that money rises and falls at the whim of the stock exchange, we are in the end lucky to get out anywhere near in real dollars what we have stashed away. Yeah, we may get a tax break at the time but later on pay dearly because our income is now in a higher tax bracket due to a tax table that is only moderately adjusted for inflation! I love it when the financial planners tell us what our savings will mature to, with steady, moderate growth, fueled by our hard earned monthly contributions. Most of the time this is nothing more than a pipe-dream used to entice people to send their cash to financial planners who makes considerable profit on the movement of money by way of fees that at times hard to understand. One need not go back too far in time to our recent recession that destroyed many retirement plans. Make no mistake about this, many people became rich during the last fiasco on the backs of the middle class.

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I created this graph to show others that the idea of using gold as a hedge against inflation is only moderately successful. Using today’s price of gold and the inflation-adjusted price of gold in 1950, you may have increased your holdings by a factor of five. The problem with this is that inflation increased by a factor of 10. That means you lost 1/2 of your money’s value to inflation! That does not sound like a sound investment strategy to me.
I have taken the easy way out. I go to the Warren Buffet site and see what he is buying, buy it, and try to forget about it until Warren tells me to sell. His philosophy is quite simple: Buy good, strong companies that will be here for the foreseeable future and wait and hope you did enough homework to find success.
Oh My, I have to go out and get my mega-million-dollar lottery ticket before the drawing….Talk later.