Good Debt

Not all debt is bad. Sometimes debt can be good. I use “good debt” to help me in” times of emergency or when my investments are doing well and I prefer not to sell them to pay for large purchases (for example, a vacation, a new air conditioner, etc.).

When is debt good? There are three characteristics of good debt:

1. You control the amount and timing of principal payback.

2. The interest rate and/or fees are lower than the current rate you are paying.

3. There is a minimum 12-month payback period. In this way, you can spread your payments out over 12 periods.

Where can you find good debt? If you have a de-cent credit rating, you probably receive good debt offers in your mail box at least once a week. Credit card companies and banks are constantly issuing “checks” that you can use to payoff existing debt or add a cash deposit to your bank account.

Let’s say you want to do some remodeling that will cost $10,000. You could cash in some of your financial holdings, but you’d rather leave the money invested as you are receiving a good rate of return. A bank sends you checks with the following pro-motional offer: (1) you can borrow up to $15,000 at 1.99% annual interest with a payoff date of June 1,2018, or (2) you can borrow up to $15,000 at 0% interest for a 3 % fee with a payoff date of February 1,2018. Since you are borrowing the money for longer than a year (15 months), your effective rate under option two is 2.4% [(.03/15) X 12].

Assume you decide to borrow $10,000. It is important to completely payoff the debt by the above date-June 1, 2018 for option one, and Feb. 1, 2018, for option two. If you do not, whatever amount remains unpaid is subject to an APR of 22.24% under either option.

To assure your account is zero by that date, it is best to make systematic monthly payments. For example, if you select the second option, your total payment is $10,000 plus the $300 fee, or $10,300. To avoid any interest charges, you must payoff this amount before Feb. 1, 2018. If the bank check is dated Nov. 1, you will receive 14 monthly bills before final payment is due. By paying $736 per statement ($10,300/14), the loan will be paid off before the final due date.

A word of caution: carefully read the terms of the agreement. It makes sense to borrow only if you are receiving a higher return on your investments than on the fees and interest associated with the debt. Additionally, once you’ve accepted the offer, do not use the credit card again until the loan is paid off. If you do, your new purchases are last in the payoff queue and will be charged interest, as in the example above, of 22.4% until the original loan is paid off.

As I Age

1. I talk to myself, because sometimes I need expert advice.

2. Sometimes I roll my eyes out load.

3. I don’t need anger management. I need people to stop pissing me off.

4. My people skills are just fine. It’s my tolerance of idiots that needs work.

5. The biggest lie I tell myself is, “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it.”

6. When I was a child, I thought nap-time was punishment. Now it’s like a mini-vacation.

7. The day the world runs out of wine is just too terrible to think about.

8. Even duct tape can’t fix stupid, but it can muffle the sound.

9. Wouldn’t it be great if we could put ourselves in the dryer for ten minutes; come out wrinkle-free and three sizes smaller. (THIS IS MY FAVORITE.)

10. At my age “Getting Lucky” means walking into a room and remembering what I came in there for.

“It’s Happening” at the Pap Corp

One of the best reports we can give at this time about the Pap Corps is that the Sylvester Institute (sponsored by the Pap Corps) is attracting more unique and experienced doctors than ever before. Our goal, of course to find a cure for cancer in our lifetime.

Right now, we have at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center of the Miller School of Medicine, U. of Miami, the only pancreatic institute in the entire state of Florida. Our physician researcher, Dr. Ashok Saluja, is Sylvester’s Pancreatic Research’s Inaugural Director. He has not 1 or 2 but was given 5 grants to do Pancreatic Cancer Research. He was at Harvard for 20 years and UMA Medical School’s Professor of surgery. Renowned for his work on the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer, Dr. Saluja has drawn 25 skilled and able assistant researchers from all over the world to help him in his effort. Sylvester is ranked #1 in the country for studies in this field and we are very proud to have gained the reputation of being a competitive comprehensive cancer facility.

We have a #1 ranked facility here in Deerfield Beach but also have satellites in Miami, Kendall, Plantation, Hollywood, and a new one in Coral Gables. Deerfield’s Sylvester is presently starting to expand its services to include all the areas of research presently being done at Jackson/Miami.

Enabled through donations, Sylvester purchased another building next door and will have 2 pharmacies: one for research and one to take care of all the various treatments that might be needed. The coordinator in this effort is Kathryn Bailey. She is in charge of outreach into communities to bring local doctors to Deerfield at least once a week as well as coordinating second opinions for those patients who would like one. Kathryn is currently the Executive Director of ambulatory oncology.

The statistics for contracting cancer are high, but early detection and the advanced research, which has put our Southern Florida Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer center at the forefront of research and treatment in the country, ranked #4 in the country, and #1 in Florida, places our survival rates as good if not better than other major institutions. With the enlarged center in Deerfield Beach, you will no longer have to travel to Miami to get the help you or your loved ones may need.

For more information, please contact Lisa Weinstein, Aberdeen Pap Chapter President.

Bridge – Try It, You’ll Like It

Continuing with the theme of having fun this season, I was playing a game of social bridge with my wife, Leslie, our son, David, and his wife Cassi. Cassi and I were partners. David and Cassi are relatively new to bridge, but they both know most of the popular bridge conventions. David is a very disciplined engineer with a solid math background and a very conventional (no pun intended) bridge player, just like his mother. For the most part, he knows, understands, and follows all the rules. Cassi, on the other hand, like me, stretches the rules and takes unconventional (though well thought out) risks from time to time.

So, Cassi picks up this hand:
♠ Q 10 4 3
♥ K 9 3 2
♦ J 6 5 3
♣ 8

I open 1 No Trump. Now Cassi knows full well she needs 8 points or more to bid the Stayman Convention … but she only has 6. But, being Cassi, she says to herself … what could go wrong if I bid 2♣? If my partner has 4 Spades, great. If he has 4 Hearts, also great. If either of these is true, he will bid at the 2 level and I will PASS.

But, what if he doesn’t have a 4-card major? Well, he is obligated to bid 2♦ … also great. If he doesn’t have a 4 card major, he is likely to have Diamonds. He cannot PASS, so I cannot be left in a terrible 2♣ contract. So, Cassi, without realizing it, re-invents the Garbage Stayman bid. I happen to have 4♥, so I bid 2♥ and Cassie PASSES.

I gave Cassi one of my infamous facial expressions, suggesting that she must have made an error. She knows that I have, on the average, 16 points and she must have at least 8, so I’m about to reprimand her for not bidding at least 2 NT or 3♥ to see if there is a game possiibility when she puts down her hand.

When I see the hand, instead of reprimanding her, I congratulate her on using the Garbage Stayman convention which, by the way, she never heard of.

So, let’s review this convention.

Your partner opens 1 No Trump and the opponent Passes. If you hold 4♠, 4♥, 4♦, and 1♣ or alternatively, 4♠, 4♥ and 5♦ and have 7 points or less, you bid 2♣.

Generally speaking, holding a singleton or a void, you will be better off in a suit contract rather than No Trump.Whatever your partner bids next, you PASS. It’s a rare occurrence, but does pop up from time to time.

Let’s look at a couple hands that might be suitable for this convention.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-2-38-25-pm

Never use this convention if you have 5♠ or 5♥ since a transfer bid will usually turn out better.

Bleacher Seats Splinters

With one enormous glass ceiling finally shattered by women last month, it’s time to break down the last remaining one: understanding why men love sports so much.

So this is to you, my fair ladies, who have spent your lives sometimes perplexed, sometimes angry and often feeling isolated as your husband/son/father/grandfather spent seemingly every free second of their lives sitting in an easy chair or a couch in front of a TV, watching other men running around chasing, throwing or hitting different shaped balls … or each other.

The inspiration for this journey, which frankly discloses my own behavior for decades as well as literally hundreds of other men I’ve known, was the seventh game of last month’s World Series, won by the Chicago Cubs over the Cleveland Indians.

The Series didn’t evoke strong emotions for me because it was played between 2 teams I neither root for or against. Most of the first 6 games were long and boring. But the 7th game built to a crescendo that captivated and satisfied as the experience spread from late into the night into early the next morning.

This game had an epic comeback to tie the game by the Indians in a no-hope-at-all situation. Ninth-inning heroics didn’t materialize. As the game went into extra innings, as if the fans needed a pause to reset their emotions, heavy rain started falling and the game was delayed. When it restarted, Chicago scored twice and the hero was a mostly anonymous pinch-runner whose smarts and hustle led to 2 runs. The Indians didn’t go quietly and pushed a run across before finally dying heroically.

For Chicagoans, it ended a 108-year drought without a World Series title, setting off massive emotional celebrations that you didn’t have to be a Cubs fan to understand and appreciate. And thus this event is prototypical of why sports reflects the human spirit and we men sit in the easy chair or on the couch waiting for the next magical moment.

Let me break down the reasons why, so you better understand:

1. It’s real. Sports is reality television at its best. It’s in real time. No scripts. No directors. The outcome is final and fulfilling.

2. It’s human. The experience of playing sports is universal. While almost all of us cannot compete at that level, we all understand and appreciate the skills on display. We understand the elation of victory and the harshness of defeat. All events include mistakes made by the players, the coaches, the referees and even the announcers.

3. It’s our heritage. Most of us religiously root for the teams our parents and grandparents rooted for. Most of us pass that passion down to the next generation. And thus we are connected to the past and the future.

4. It’s historic. Few of the events we watch are on the epic level of a World Series 7th game. But collectively, every game we watch can create an emotion or a memory. A seemingly mundane event can turn significant with a fantastic finish, a never- seen-before play or a long-standing record broken.

5. It’s exciting. When I watch sports, most often I’m quiet no matter what the situation. If I yell, it’s generally at an incompetent referee or TV announcer.

But inside I get insanely nervous. I’ve been with others who constantly yell at the TV over almost every play. No matter how you display your passion the need to feel passion is addictive and doesn’t fade as you age.

6. It’s a path to communication. In my experience, women are more likely to connect more quickly, more openly and more easily than men. Sports is one of the simplest ways for men to bond and sometimes the only way.

So, the next time you look at a favorite man sitting transfixed on the TV and you know it’s a hopeless task to try to reach him, at least you’ll know why. But you should ask yourself, would it be so bad to join him?

If you want to give it a try, here’s my advice. Just learn the basics. You probably know most of them already. Don’t concern yourself with knowing intricate rules and strategies. You don’t have to know the infield fly rule (baseball) or the pick and roll (basketball). You can always learn in the future with his guidance.

Do concern yourself with the human element of sports. Learn about the players and the coaches; knowing their strengths and weaknesses, their back stories, their accomplishments and setbacks and seeing how they perform is what makes each game special.

I used to detest the sport of soccer as boring and repetitive. Seven years ago I started following Inter Milan and became as passionate about the team as any other I’ve rooted for. I don’t like the sport much more than I used to but I watch it regularly. I got to know the players. I can judge when they do well and do poorly. I even care enough to yell at the referees and the announcers.

I just don’t know anybody at Aberdeen who’ll watch it with me. But you don’t have that problem.

You don’t need to spend another weekend afternoon alone. Get your own easy chair. Grab a seat on the couch. Yell or don’t yell at the TV. Let yourself get nervous. You’ve already found your passion, so go sit next to him.

Didja Know

1. Kenneth Bone, the nerdy undecided voter in a red pullover, who questioned the presidential candidates on their energy policies in the October debate, became an instant internet hero, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel and received an offer to star in a porn film.

2. An Alabama man revealed in a widely shared Facebook post his deep regret for getting a “Feel the Bern” tattoo on his penis to support presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Joshua Hughes said.

3. Iraq’s Transport Minister has claimed his country’s new airport will be built on the site of a Sumerian spaceport built by aliens 7,000 years ago. At a press conference, Kazern Finjan told journalists that ancient Sumerians were extraterrestrials who interbred with earthlings and used the site in southern Iraq for trips to and from the stars.

4. Ancient Roman coins have been discovered in the ruins of a medieval Japanese castle — and no one knows how they got there. Engraved with a portrait of the 4th-century Roman emperor Constantine the Great, the 5 copper coins were found in Katsuren Castle, which was built on Okinawa in the 13th century.

5. Samsung said that it is ceasing production of its explosion-prone Galaxy Note 7 smartphone just 6 weeks after the device went on sale.

6. “YOLO,” an acronym for “you only live once,” was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Other new entries include “splendiferous,” “gender-bender,” and “moobs,” used to describe unusually large male breasts.

7. Alabama officials implemented a new policy that will punish borrowers who fail to return library materials with up to 30 days in jail. A library official noted that $200,000 worth of books and DVDs haven’t been returned.

8. Amtrack responded to a passenger who was stuck in one of its elevators 7 months ago. “We’re sorry to hear that,” the company tweeted to the tweet sent by Amanda Carpenter. “Are you still in the elevator?”

9. A Kansas man allegedly robbed a bank at gunpoint because he preferred being in jail to going home to his wife. Police said that after Larry Ripple, 70, stole $3,000 from a Kansas City branch, he sat down in the bank’s lobby and told a security guard, “I’m the guy you’re looking for.” He was charged with bank robbery and released; it is not known if he went home to his wife

10. Problem with smelly footwear’? Put a tea bag in your shoe. It’s a great way to reduce odor in sneakers and other shoes. The tea bags absorb the moisture and the smell.

Factors Affecting Stock Price

What causes a company’s stock price to rise? Although there are several factors, one of the most important is revenue and income growth. For a company’s shares to rise in value, it must continually sell more goods and/or services. In other words, revenue must increase. Revenue is the total amount of money received by a company for goods sold and/or services provided for a specific time period. Companies listed on the US. stock exchange are required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to re-port quarterly and annual earnings. If a company’s revenue increases from one quarter to the next, this is viewed positively by investors and will most likely be reflected in a higher stock price.

What is troubling in the current economic environment is that stock prices are increasing as revenue and earnings decline. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) (8/16/16, C4) reported that the earnings of companies in the S&P 500 have been falling for the last eighteen months. This trend is likely to continue. Ac-cording to the WSJ (9/3/16) “Third-quarter profits … are projected to contract by 2.1%.”

There are several factors that suggest revenue for many companies will not rise in the coming quarter. First, government reports note a decrease in inventory investment. In other words, companies are not building up inventories to the same extent as in previous quarters. Companies reduce inventory lev-els when consumers are not expected to buy at past levels. This reduction is true not only in the manufacturing sector but in the housing sector as well. Less inventory available to purchase results in a decrease in the number of items sold resulting in lower revenue and net income.

A second factor that could adversely affect stocks is the current political situation. The market does not like uncertainty. As the elections approach and there is a greater distinction between the economic plans of the candidates, the ambiguity of the results could affect the stock market.

And yet, stock prices are hitting new highs. A WSJ article (8/15/16) suggests the market is overvalued. According to one long -term valuation indicator, the price/earnings ratio of companies in the S&P 500 index stands at 27.1. This is well above its long-term average of about 16.

So what is driving up the market? It has been suggested that investors seeking higher yields are mov-ing their money from lower-yielding investments (e.g. bonds, CDs) into the stock market. This factor could explain the highly volatile week of Sept. 12. Indications that the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates at its September meeting caused a triple-digit stock decline. The following day when a Fed member suggested rates would stay the same, the market rose nearly erasing the loss of the prior day.

Why does a rise in interest rates significantly and negatively affect the stock market? If bond yields rise many investors will sell their stock holdings to buy bonds, putting downward pressure on share price. Bonds are less risky than stocks and therefore preferred by risk-averse investors.

According to the WSJ, the projection that consumer spending would grow and the market would be stronger in the second half of the year also sent stocks soaring. However, the most recent WSJ projection is that real consumption growth for the third quarter will come in around 2.7%, down sharply from the second quarter’s 4.3% rate.

What should an investor do in these uncertain times? Like most investors, I only know 2 things with any certainty: The market will go up and the market will go down. No one can predict what will happen with stocks. However, whatever action you take should be based on sound reasoning and research.

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