Urgent! Hyundai Safety Recall

safety recall

This is real, and our car is one of the ones being recalled. We have a phone call in to the nearest Hyundai dealership, and are waiting for a phone call with instructions from them. They’ll fix this potentially dangerous problem involving brake lights for free. All you need to do is adjust the Google search terms to match your Hyundai car, and then add information about your location, so that the search engine can return the specifics you need to find the Hyundai dealership nearest you, in order to keep your family safe.

The “Dungeons & Dragons” Alignment System, Applied to Characters From the Pages of “Daredevil” Comic Books

daredevil alignments

This nine-part alignment system comes from Dungeons and Dragons, and these images come from various Marvel comics (although I found them with Wikipedia and Google-searches). All I did was place these nine characters into the nine D&D alignment categories — which was the fun part of making this chart.

Trump’s Impeachment Troubles Started One Year Ago Today

July 25

One year ago: the infamous July 25th phone call. That led to Trump’s impeachment, but few think of it now because we’re neck-deep in the COVID-19 pandemic. Impeachment occurred before the masked age began. He didn’t get removed by the Senate, but he’s quite likely to get removed by voters in the November election. He may not leave the White House voluntarily, which would create a shameful spectacle, but he’ll be escorted away come Inauguration Day — even if they have to literally drag him off, kicking and screaming.

Cat + Blanket = Cuteness

We’re in a global pandemic, without competent national leadership, and American society is tearing itself apart. However, at least you get to see this cute picture my wife took of Hexagon the Cat hiding in a blanket, right?

hexagon

Microsoft, the Misfit

Fact One: Microsoft’s trading symbol is “MSFT.”
Fact Two: If you try to pronounce “MSFT,” it sounds like “misfit.”
Conclusion: We must never call this company “Microsoft,” ever again. “Misfit” is its name, from now on.

On Leaving the Brick-and-Mortar Classroom

I’ve been a high school teacher for the last 25 years. I’m also leaving the classroom — but I’m not leaving teaching. Next year will be my 26th year teaching, and I’ve been told that I’ll be teaching on-line, from an office.

screensharing

This is how we all taught during the fourth quarter of the last school year, except we did it from home, since brick-and-mortar schools shut down, all over the world, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We used screensharing in Google Hangouts (shown above), Google Classroom, e-mail, and lots of other things to finish the school year . . . and we did finish it, successfully. This year, teachers won’t be at home (unless things change, due to the coronavirus), but many of our students will be staying home.

After I’d finished everything up for the 2019-2020 year, I went to school to turn in my keys. At that point, it was obvious that we were likely to have some sort of dual-track system for 2020-2021, with some students receiving instruction at school, and others at home, remotely, using their district-issued Chromebooks. I told my principal that if we did end up doing such a system, that I wanted to be on the “home team.” I don’t want to have to go to school and risk COVID-19 infection, which could then be spread to my family, some of whom are in high-risk groups for this disease. I’ve now received confirmation that I will be a remote-learning instructor next year, presumably working with students from all over the district.

I’m going to miss my old school, both the Sylvan Hills High North Campus and the Sylvan Hills High Main Campus. Sylvan Hills taught me a lot about being a better teacher. As a result, I’m leaving with an improved ability to help students, compared to six years ago, when coming to Sylvan Hills from other schools. My principals at these two campuses deserve a lot of the credit for this. I’ve worked with many administrators over the years, and these two are the ones who have helped me the most in my efforts to become a better teacher.

The coming year will present many challenges. To teach effectively, you have to get to know your students. We’ll be doing instruction and discussions with computers, webcams, microphones, and speakers, so I’m going to have to make a lot of adjustments to get to know my students as real people, while teaching remotely for a full year. The end of the last school year gave me a lot of experience I can build on.

This next year should be interesting, and I am looking forward to it.

On Picking Stocks and Mutual Funds: An Experimental Proposal

[Important disclaimer: I am not a registered investment advisor. If you choose to try the experiment described below, which is shared with everyone for free, the risk is yours alone.]

Lots of people have jumped into the stock market lately, many of them with little experience. That isn’t stopping them, though; they’re creating Robinhood accounts and trading penny stocks at a blinding rate. I’m writing this to propose an experiment individuals can use to evaluate their own skills at picking stocks and mutual funds. This experiment does require some experience investing, but not much.

First, divide your investment capital into three parts of equal size. With the first part, buy either QQQ or SPY, or equal amounts of each. These are ETFs which track well-known stock indices: the technology-heavy NASDAQ 100 and the broader S&P 500, respectively. This chart shows how the S&P 500 has performed over the last five years.

stock chart

This first third of the investment money is analogous to a control group; it is the standard by which we measure the performance of the other two-thirds.

The second third is to be invested in no-load, open-ended, actively-managed mutual funds. You should try to choose the best ones you can find. Two that I’ve bought shares of, myself, are TRBCX (a fund which invests mostly large-cap blue-chip stocks), and WAMCX (a fund investing in small-cap, rapidly-growing companies’ stocks).

The final third is made of stocks you pick and buy/hold/sell yourself, using whatever criteria you choose. If you run this experiment for six months (or longer), and this third is the largest at the end of this period, you have good evidence that your stock-picking methods work well, justifying continuing investing in this manner.

If, on the other hand, your hand-picked mutual funds do best, then the data supports the idea that you’re a good fund-picker, but should probably not invest in individual stocks.

Finally, what if SPY and/or QQQ do best? If that is the case, I wouldn’t try to beat the market with my own picks, but would simply invest in open-ended index funds, or ETFs.

I’m trying this experiment myself. So far, my hand-picked mutual funds are doing best. If the running of this experiment continues in this way, I’ll abandon the picking of individual stocks, in favor of mutual funds. Of course, it’s always possible to study and learn new things. If this running of the experiment yields the answer “funds,” there’s nothing stopping me from studying stock-picking some more, and then repeating the experiment to see if I get better results for the choosing of individual stocks. One could also abandon the experiment, but continue to invest in those particular stocks which did well.

There are some types of investment I haven’t mentioned here. Cash, money market funds, CDs, and bonds were not mentioned because interest rates are at historic lows, limiting the return one can get from such investments. As for derivatives, such as options or futures, those have not been included simply because I have no experience with derivatives. Traditional hedges against inflation, such as gold and silver, are not included because inflation is almost non-existent.

One last thing: Robinhood’s customers will have a hard time doing this experiment, for that company does not offer mutual funds. Schwab does, though; that’s the broker I use — and the one I recommend. You can find them online at http://www.schwab.com.