Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Long Time No Write ... Good Thing There's Nothing Going On!

It's been more than 6 months since I've posted, by far my longest blog-free span since I started The Baldest Truth in advance of the Bears' 2007 Super Bowl run.

Hey, I've been busy! 

Writing personal finance articles, coaching basketball, going to weddings, umpiring baseball, dealing with the enormity of having a treasonous pathological liar as president ... 

You know, the usual.

Anyway, enough excuses. Let's catch up a little.


If you're reading this, it means you probably like my take on things in general, so I'm not going to spend too much time writing about the most corrupt president in the history of our democratic republic.

The whole "preaching to the choir" thing, you know?

July 16, 2018 might have been America's darkest day since 9/11. Our president, given several opportunities to tell the world that he believes our intelligence community and several chances to challenge Vladimir Putin to his face for meddling in our 2016 election, instead did the exact opposite. He sided with the murderous ex-KGB agent, and smiled when Putin rewarded him with a soccer ball for being a good boy.

Can you get more Typical Bully behavior than that? Given the chance to confront a sworn enemy of the United States, President Bone Spurs backed down like the coward he always has been.

The entire world already knew that Putin was smarter, more savvy, more politically experienced and more ruthless than his orange counterpart. The way Putin played him in Helsinki, it's even worse than most of us thought. 

Given Comrade Trumpsky's horrific public performance, every American should want to know exactly what he promised Putin during their private meeting. A few senators, including Republican Marco Rubio, say they are determined to find out. We'll see.

I was heartened to see a few Republicans strongly rebuke "Spanky." But in truth, most of those men only found courage after they decided to not run for re-election. 

Most Republicans were content to say nothing, having long ago sold their souls to a corrupt, racist, cowardly, un-American liar.

All right ... on to happier subjects ...


Buy One, Get One (Not) Free

2018 has been The Year of Love for our amazing family! 

In March, Ben married Sammi in a beautiful, fun ceremony in Chicago.

Sammi teaches 5th grade in Northbrook. Ben is back in college, even as he works full-time. The two live on the North Side - only a few blocks from Ben's childhood home.

Two months after Ben and Sammi tied the knot, Katie got hitched to "her Ben" in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. (We Southerners say stuff like "get hitched," y'all.)

OK ... they actually had gotten married back in September in Seattle because there would have been too many legal hoops for the American to marry the Canadian in Mexico, but this was the celebration. And oh, what a week-long celebration "Randalls In Sandals" was!

Let's just say the tequila floweth ... and leave it at that.

Katie and Ben Randall live in a Seattle suburb; she works for a large mortgage company, and he is at Microsoft.


Fun And Games

My first season as an assistant high school basketball coach didn't end quite as happily as we all would have liked, as our Ardrey Kell Lady Knights lost in the state quarterfinals to the team that would go on to win the championship.

It nonetheless was a spectacular season - including a 25-4 record, a regular-season conference title and the regional championship. I learned so much from our coach, Jeff Busieck, and the girls.

Our top three players graduated and soon will be starting their college basketball careers, so we will be a markedly different team next season. 

We had 3 weeks together in June - 7 practices, a team camp at UNC-Charlotte and a summer tournament - and the experience confirmed that we still have a lot of talent, we're well-coached (that's a nod to Coach B, not me!), we're smart, we're tough, and we will not be an easy team to beat in 2018-19.

Even with high school basketball on its summer hiatus, I'm still doing a little coaching, working at a couple of Hornets Hoops camp sessions.

I did a few sessions last summer and was assigned middle-school kids each time. Last week, however, I coached 7- to 9-year-olds. 

A real fun, goofy group. And led by my "Chris Paul" (the kid on the left wearing two different-colored shoes), we won our age-group title.

I also am in my sixth season umpiring youth baseball - mostly fun, and the kids are always great, but sometimes the coaches and parents get a little over the top in their, um, "enthusiasm."

In June, I had only my second-ever ejection of a coach. He was on me and my partner all game. In the 5th inning, when he called us "terrible" after one of my partner's calls (a correct call, BTW), I pointed at him and said, "I've heard enough. Consider this your warning." His response: "Go ahead!" So I did.

As a coach myself (as well as a former newspaper columnist in the early years of very nasty comment streams), I have thick skin and I'll tolerate a lot. As I said: I've had 2 ejections in 6 years. 

But when a guy who is supposed to be a role model for kids instead is a jerk, and then he publicly challenges you, you had better be ready to give him the heave-ho.

July and August are "dark" for the leagues I umpire, as it's in the 90s with high humidity pretty much every day. We'll get back at it in September.


Mike's Writing Re-Boot

I haven't written about sports for any publication for many years, and (as we've already covered) I haven't blogged much, but I'm still doing plenty of writing.

Since late December, I have written several articles a month for a Web site called Daily Trade Alert. It's a bit of misleading name given that much of their content is not for daily traders but for long-term investors like me.

The folks at DTA have given me a fun assignment: Every month, they provide me with $2,000 in real dough-re-mi, and I invest it on their behalf. I pick the stocks, and I write about why I made the selections. So far, we have bought 13 companies.

We hope it will be a multiple-year project, kind of a primer in building a portfolio based mostly on the Dividend Growth Investing strategy. Click HERE to see my page, which includes more links to follow if interested.

DTA "recruited" me from Seeking Alpha, the investing site I've been writing for since 2012.

As THIS from one of my peers and THIS from one of my former editors show, a few folks at SA have said some very nice things about me. For a while, I was the site's most-read writer in my main category (Dividend Investing), and my Dividend Growth 50 project remains very popular.

However, Seeking Alpha has changed its contributor-pay model a couple of times since I started writing there, and it has resulted in me having to do more work to make less money - never an attractive combination.

I still occasionally write for Seeking Alpha - HERE is Part 3 of a recent series I did called The No. 1 Stock In The World.

But until Comrade Trumpsky really caves in to Puppet-Master Putin, the United States is still a capitalist country, so I'm going to do most of my work for the employer that compensates me the best.


Which Brings Us Full Circle ...

Even as he sucks up to dictators who would love nothing more than to reduce the United States to rubble, Spanky calls our allies "foes" and our free press "the enemy of the people."

The self-described "very stable genius" actually is dangerously unstable. He is prone to extreme behavioral swings and easily manipulated; he showers adoration on anybody who has been "nice" to him while lashing out at any perceived "hater."

There never has been an American president who has brown-nosed murderous autocrats while defending criminals (Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn), unethical losers (Scott Pruitt), pedophiles (Roy Moore), racists (too many to name), soul-less demons (Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon), accused wife-beaters (Rob Porter), dirty lawyers (Michael Cohen), liars (WAAAAY too many to name) and other assorted thugs, boors and felons.

Where is the Christian right to express outrage? Where is the "family values" party?

We Americans can't wait for Bob Mueller to save us, because he might not be able to.

If Democrats and my fellow Independents aren't motivated to get to the polls this fall, shame on all of us. 


Well, I think that about covers it for now ... and I didn't even share any musings about pro or college sports this time.

I'll try to check in at least once a month. No promises ... but I'll try.