I Still Don’t Like Batteries

Battery Power

I’m sure I had battery powered toys as a kid. Back then, recharging the batteries meant throwing a tantrum until Mom or Dad replaced the dead ones. The first battery powered gadget that sticks in my memory, however, is my cassette tape player & recorder. Do you remember those things? You could fast forward & rewind them “offline” by sticking a pencil in the sprocket & twirling it. For ages!

The biggest problem with this battery powered thing was that the batteries always died when I was recording that hugely important song from the radio. The one I’d waited weeks to catch. Recording was a sloppy business back then. You had to time starting & stopping the recording process to eliminate as much of the DJs chatter as you could. Without clipping too much of the track’s intro & tail off. And yeah, the recording quality sucked. But at least you had a tape of your favourite songs to take along on that beach picnic.

Later, I moved to LPs. Vinyl records. These weren’t battery powered machines, but the quality was much better to record from. My big hang-up with LPs was that you had to pay for 15 or 20 tracks, but I really only wanted 2 or 3 of them. I dreamed that, one day, you’d be able to walk into a record shop & select the tracks you wanted. Stick your money in the slot. And out would pop your very own custom LP, with 20 tracks you really liked. I also dreamed that I would be playing my homemade mixes on my tape player. Powered by batteries that lasted waaaaay longer. Like weeks or months. Not just hours.

Fast forward to today & the ceiling on some of my dreams have been totally & utterly smashed. Way back then, I could not have imagined the convenience & flexibility of today’s streaming music services. There wasn’t even a glimmer of the potential for streaming, not only audio, but moving pictures too! Who could have imagined watching a movie or a concert on a little mainframe computer, like our phones.

The technology leaps that allowed for such amazing capabilities in sound & vision were not matched by equivalent improvements in battery technology.

I’m not saying things haven’t improved but, today, I continue to worry about my battery dying. So much so that half the electrical sockets in my house have power bricks & USB cords. Our cars, bars, airports, trains & planes all sport USB charging ports now. Bearing testament to our mass societal worry about our batteries dying. It’s just overwhelming proof of our collective dissatisfaction with the advances in battery technology, isn’t it?

Do you think I’m going to buy an electric car any time soon!?!

Dividends are like Financial Vitamins for my Portfolio!

Financial Vitamins

None of this is investing advice. In fact, I might be the worst investor you’ll ever meet. Back in the late 90s, I got caught up in the dot-com fever & became an “investor”. Along with my collection of hot stocks, my advisor at the time talked me into a few sedentary holdings. One of them was BCE Inc. (BCE). My favourite growth stock at the time was Nortel, an iconic Canadian tech company that was at the heart of the internet revolution. When the bubble burst, I sold off BCE & kept Nortel. Nortel went to zero. Had I held on to my boring telco shares, from January 1st, 2000, a 10k investment in BCE would be worth over 70k today. With the dividends reinvested. That’s an annualised return of about 9.3%. And it handsomely beats a low-cost S&P 500 index tracking fund (worth almost 47k today), over that same timeframe, by about 2% a year. That comparison includes reinvesting the fund’s (lower) dividends too.

Ignoring those dividends, just looking at the share price growth, BCE is only worth a little over half the index fund after the 21 years. Reinvesting the dividends added more than 50k to the total return. That’s quite the vitamin pill!

Fast forward 20 years & I’m working from home. During a pandemic. I surface from my basement office at lunchtime & I turn on BNN Bloomberg. The parent company of BNN Bloomberg is BCE, go figure. ๐Ÿ˜‚

Anyway, I get hooked. And this becomes part of my new routine. This time, however, I manage to resist the lure of the hot stock brigade. Okay, I admit that I made a few bucks on a brief dalliance with a bitcoin ETF! I know, I know … I would have done really well if I’d stuck with it. But instead, I start looking at big, boring, dividend-paying & dividend-growing companies. I’m too old to be sweating the gyrations of the growth sector every day.

Ironically, I’m a BCE shareholder again! ๐Ÿคช

I wonder if I can stay the course during the next market crash? Will I have the bottle to battle the next bear? I have no idea how this will look 20 years from now. But if it works out, & if I don’t spend it all along the way, I’m sure our kids (or maybe my favourite charity! ๐Ÿ˜œ) will be grateful.

Remembering all those who served & those who continue to serve, especially in our family, on this Remembrance Day.

My Book of Stories from Ireland is on Sale!

My book (For a Man or a Dog) is on sale at Amazon.com. It doesn’t appear to be on sale at any of the other Amazon sites, but it’s 41% off on the .com site.

I didn’t put it on sale, but maybe Amazon does every now & then? No clue how it works, but if you want a copy, this might be a good time to get it.

Possible appeal to the Irish diaspora, or if you have any interest in Irish life & culture. If the link below takes you to your local site, you might have to go to Amazon.com the hard way.

My Heart is in Ireland

Comfort Food from the Past!

My heart may be in Ireland. But I’d rather my arse was too! ๐Ÿ˜œ

Really, I’m way overdue for a trip home. Haven’t seen our families & friends for years now. I’m seeing more planes in the air recently, but no resumption of direct flights to Ireland yet. The cost is triple what it was pre-covid, & the journey is three times longer with layovers. Aaaarrrrrgggghhh!

That said, even if things were back to “normal”, I’d probably wait for my booster shot before travelling again anyway. ๐Ÿ™„

Along with seeing family & friends, the other great thing about Ireland is the food! I’m not kidding, it’s not all about bacon & cabbage, with boiled spuds, you know. Though that is so amazing too. I think Ireland has the best take-out food on the planet!

Yes, I know, I know, I’m biased. And that’s probably not what it’s known for. After all, it’s got all that natural beauty, the people are lovely, & the history is … well … very historical! But the food leaves all that nonsense in the dirt. As the travel restrictions drone ever onward, I find myself looking up the menus of Irish restaurants online now.

The battered smoked cod & chips is the best. A doner kebab, with extra garlic sauce, reminds me of late night trips home from the pub. Buy an extra one for the hangover breakfast next morning! Speaking of breakfast, the full Irish breakfast! Mmmmmm! Another Irish staple, chicken curry & fried rice is not to be found as good anywhere. Not even in China. Scampi & chips, with Dublin Bay prawns. Mutton. Real bacon. Black & white pudding. Drisheens. Coddle. Boxty. Soda bread. Alright, enough, I won’t go on any more.

Okay, one more … I must mention the fresh, real, cream cakes. Did you know that all dairy products in Ireland are healthier? Yes, it’s true. They’re all made from the milk of grass-fed cows. (What do the bloody cows eat everywhere else anyway!?!) If you go, you can ladle on all the butter you’d like. It’s health food in Ireland. ๐Ÿ˜œ

I love the lobster roll in Nova Scotia, the subs, pizza & poutine in Quรฉbec, the salmon in BC. But I think a big part of my heart, & my stomach, will always be in Ireland. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช

PS … The pic shows one of my favourite fast meals from way back … fried onion & baked beans, with a spoon of curry powder. Accompanied by leftover protein & some melted cheddar. Typically rushed together when a night at the pub was in the offing. Though it didn’t have the fancy sprig of basil back then!

Okay, I’m homesick now. ๐Ÿ˜ญ

Still Doing the Work from Home Thing?

Work Wear?

I don’t even know how long I’ve been working from home now, but it feels like a long, a very long, time. Though I really worked from home pre-covid, it didn’t feel like that. Because I got to travel a lot. On the work front, we’ve all gotten much better at online meetings. So many phone calls & email exchanges turn into online meetings now.

We’re all much better at, & more prepared for, impromptu online sessions too. I keep a hairbrush in my desk drawer now, for example. I’ve moved the underwear-laden clothes horse out of my office. And I’ve swapped out the juvenile posters on my back wall with some hoity-toity Venetian masks. They’re a good talking point, while we wait for that important laggard to join the session. It’s all very streamlined & business-like these days!

All in all, the whole work from home thing is far more professional now. Far smoother. It is also quite effective. And very time & cost efficient. If everything went back to normal tomorrow, I think I’d still use the online get togethers. A lot.

But now that things are starting to open up a little more, I recently took the opportunity to go out for a mask-to-mask meeting & to bump elbows. I had to dust off my big-boy pants. I had forgotten that pants had creases. It took me a while, but I managed to dig out a belt that wasn’t a draw-string. Finally, I found a shirt with a collar & more than three buttons.

I was feeling pretty good about heading back into the real working world again. As I was pulling out of my driveway, good job I noticed that I was barefoot & wearing flip-flops!

How are you doing, as you transition back to the new normal?

You’ll have to cut me a little more slack on the weight-loss front though. I’ll come clean on that soon! ๐Ÿ˜œ