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Gates of the Rocky Mountains

Friday July 19, 1805

Captain Lewis: “The Musquetoes are very troublesome to us as usual.    this morning we set out early and proceeded on very well tho’ the water appears to encrease in volocity as we advance.    the current has been strong all day and obstructed with some rapids, tho’ these are but little broken by rocks and are perfectly safe.    the river deep and from 100 to 150 yds. wide. I walked along shore today and killed an Antelope.    whever we get a view of the lofty summits of the mountains the snow presents itself, altho’ we are almost suffocated in this confined vally with heat.    the pine cedar and balsum fir [1] grow on the mountains in irregular assemleages or spots mostly high up on their sides and summits.    this evening we entered much the most remarkable clifts that we have yet seen.    these clifts rise from the waters edge on either side perpendicularly to the hight of [NB: about] 1200 feet.    every object here wears a dark and gloomy aspect.    the tow[er]ing and projecting rocks in many places seem ready to tumble on us.    the river appears to have forced it’s way through this immence body of solid rock for the distance of 5¾ miles and where it makes it’s exit below has thrown on either side vast collumns of rocks mountains high.    the river appears to have woarn a passage just the width of it’s channel or 150 yds.    it is deep from side to side nor is ther in the 1st 3 miles of this distance a spot except one of a few yards in extent on which a man could rest the soal of his foot.    several fine springs burst out at the waters edge from the interstices of the rocks.    it happens fortunately that altho’ the current is strong it is not so much so but what it may be overcome with the oars for there is hear no possibility of using either the cord or Setting pole.    it was late in the evening before I entered this place and was obliged to continue my rout untill sometime after dark before I found a place sufficiently large to encamp my small party; at length such an one occurred on the lard. side where we found plenty of lightwood [2] and pichpine. this rock is a black grannite below and appears to be of a much lighter colour above and from the fragments I take it to be flint of a yelloish brown and light creemcolourd yellow.— [3]    from the singular appeaerance of this place I called it the gates of the rocky mountains. [4]    the mountains higher today than yesterday, saw some Bighorns and a few Antelopes also beaver and Otter; the latter are now very plenty one of the men killed one of them today with a setting pole.    musquetoes less troublesome than usual.    we had a thundershower today about 1 P. M. which continued about an hour and was attended with som hail.    we have seen no buffaloe since we enterd the mounts.    this morning early Capt. Clark pursued his rout, saw early in the day the remains of several Indians camps formed of willow brush which appeared to have been inhabited some time this spring.    saw where the natives had pealed the bark off the pine trees about this same season.    this the indian woman with us informs that they do to obtain the sap and soft part of the wood [NB: wood] and bark for food.    at 11 A. M. Capt. C. feell in with a gang of Elk of which he killed 2.    and not being able to obtain as much wood as would make a fire substituded the dung of the buffaloe and cooked a part of their meat on which they breakfasted and again pursueed their rout, which lay along an old indian road.    this evening they passed a hansome valley watered by a large creek [5] which extends itself with it’s valley into the mountain to a considerable distance.    the latter part of the evening their rout lay over a hilly and mountanous country covered with the sharp fragments of flint which cut and bruised their feet excessively; nor wer the prickly pear of the leveler part of the rout much less painfull; they have now become so abundant in the open uplands that it is impossible to avoid them and their thorns are so keen and stif that they pearce a double thickness of dressed deers skin with ease. Capt. C. informed me that he extracted 17 of these bryers from his feet this evening after he encamped by the light of the fire. I have guarded or reather fortifyed my feet against them by soaling my mockersons with the hide of the buffaloe in parchment.    he encamped on the river [6] much fortiegud having passed two mountains in the course of the day and travelled about 30 miles.”—

The Journals of Lewis and Clark

The Incompetence of the Denver Post

It’s no secret that newsprint is dying.  Mostly all news is delivered digitally.  Why would I wait for a morning newspaper to read the news I can get on my phone?

For a while, I enjoyed receiving the Sunday paper.  It became part of a morning routine.  Wake up, walk the dog, make breakfast, and eat breakfast while reading the paper.  I mostly get news from specific sources and have things filtered down only to what interests me.  It was nice reading the different perspectives on Sundays.  The Sunday paper also contains a lot of grocery coupons that could easily offset the price of the subscription.

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Sunday Paper from the Denver Post

My issue with this news outlet is their terrible delivery and customer service.  After subscribing, I would receive the paper late.  When the paper would arrive, it would come anywhere between 8AM and 12:30PM.  Most, if not all customers, have an expectation of receiving this ancient news delivery medium at a reasonable time.  When I delivered the newspaper as a kid the minimum acceptable time of delivery was before 6:30 on weekdays, and 7:30 on weekends.  To get a decent tip from customers, the paper would need to be delivered at around 5:30.

In addition to getting the paper late, I would often not receive the paper at all.  I would only get maybe 1 out of every 2 deliveries.  This would result in having to call the customer service line, which takes at least 30 minutes to get through.  They would often redeliver a paper later in the afternoon.  Receiving a credit on the bill was hard to get without spending a lot of additional time on the phone.

It is frustrating to support a dying service, and not at least receive the product.  After 4 missed deliveries in two months, I decided it was time to cancel the service.  The phone call for cancellation went quickly.  After explaining why I was cancelling, the customer service representative didn’t try to make it right.  I was expecting at least a conversation to try to get me to stay.  Since I was calling a few days into a billing cycle, I would still be charged for the whole month of missed papers because it is their policy to not issue refunds.

I cancelled the newspaper service at the end of last year.  Life without the paper has been simpler.  It is one less thing that demands my time, and has the obvious cost savings from killing a subscription.  I can use this saved money for something with more purpose.

For the last six weeks, I have received five Sunday newspapers.  I haven’t been billed for it, it seems to be a result of the incompetent delivery service.  I’m likely getting someone else’s paper.  I think it’s kind of funny that they are even screwing up my free deliveries one sixth of the time.  After getting a few of these, I thought it would be best to contact the paper about the error.  The only reason for doing so, is to help the person like me that is getting missed. 

After all of this, I still continue to receive the paper, which goes straight to the recycling bin.

Week 1 – Temperance

Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation

As part of the Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection series,  I will be living one of the 13 virtues described by Benjamin Franklin in the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  You can read how all this got started here.  This week I’ll be focused on living the virtue of Temperance.

Today will be hard since my New England Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl.  We’re hosting a party for the game, and there will likely be plenty of things to eat and drink.

If you’re interested in the book that inspired this, it is available for less than $4 including shipping on Amazon.  If you buy it through my link, by clicking on the image, I get 14 cents for the referral.

Hiking Staunton State Park With Tommy

Hiking Staunton State Park With Tommy

A couple of weeks ago, my wife, Tommy, and I went for a hike at Staunton State Park in Pine, Colorado.  This was the second time this winter that Tommy has gone for a stroller hike.  You can check out our last trip to Roxborough here.

It was a warm 65 degree day in January so we decided to go out for a family hike.  Staunton State park is only a short drive from home and it’s a place we rarely go outside of fall.  On this hike, we took the Staunton Ranch Trail which is one of the main trails accessible from the parking lot.  Here is a live webcam view, courtesy of Friends of Staunton State Park, from the trail we took.

Live view of Staunton State Park (15 min refresh)

 

The trail is wide enough, and mostly smooth enough to pass with the stroller without too much trouble.  There are some rough rocky spots along the way, but our BOB stroller didn’t have too much difficulty navigating through these areas.  This stroller is definitely one of the essential items for anyone with small children.

As we started to gain some elevation, the temperature started to drop.  We made it roughly halfway up the main trail.  It started to get a little too cold, so we decided it was probably best to head back down.

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Tommy on the Staunton Ranch Trail

Overall this is a pretty accessible hike for people with a stroller.  Tommy seemed to enjoy himself and took in a lot of great scenery.  We’ll have to try it again in a couple of months when the weather gets warmer.

Our New White House Press Secretary

Is it just me or does the new White House Press Secretary look just like the actor John Heard?  He’s known by me mostly as the character Vin Makazian from The Sopranos.  He’s also pretty well known for playing the father, Peter McCallister, in Home Alone.  This is coincidently the same movie that has a cameo from Donald Trump.  For the next four to eight years, I will be making this association in my head.

 

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Sean Spicer — White House Press Secretary  (Image credit: GrahamHughey)

This blog will not add much to political discussion, but this needs to be pointed out.  I’m wondering if I’m the only person that sees it?

What I’ve learned after one year of trading on Robinhood

About one year ago, I decided to sign up for Robinhood.  It’s basically a service backed by Google which is used to buy and sell stocks with $0 in commissions/fees.  Robinhood also offers a premium paid service for some folks that buy/sell a lot more often than I do.

Buying individual stocks is generally considered a poor financial strategy due to volatility, so my real investments stay away from single stocks.  Since there are no commissions or fees, I thought it would be fun to try and see if I how well I could do at playing the market based on my limited knowledge and some minimal research.

I put in a tiny initial investment, with a recurring weekly deposit of $15.  This represents the maximum amount of money I’m willing to try on single stocks.  My expectations are to break even overall and gain some learning when it comes to the overall market.  If it all goes to 0, I’m comfortable with that.  This area of investment represents a very small percentage overall for me.

The Robinhood app and service has been great.  To date, I have made probably around 40 trades, both buying and selling.  I have never been charged a commission or fee of any sort.  In addition to regular buying/selling, the app will also allow limit purchases.  I often use this method to purchase stock.  With this method, you can specify the maximum amount you’re willing to pay per share.

Over the year, I have learned quite a bit about the stock market.  My first trades involved solar energy companies.  I felt like the technology was affordable and made sense for a lot of consumers.  I even went pretty far into the process to acquire Solar City solar panels for my own house.  After purchasing a couple stocks in that area(SCTY and SUNE), I eventually determined that Solar City wouldn’t work for me.  In a short time, I was able to see a 25% return on the initial purchase, and knew it was time to sell.

My personal investment strategy is based off a simple algorithm.  I generally invest in companies that make a product that I use and really like.  If it’s not a product I use, it’s a product that I could see myself using.  I have also put some investments in some medical companies with great dividends.  When it comes time to sell, I only sell if I have made money.  I will never sell a stock for a loss.  This logic is almost certainly flawed, I know.

I have been a customer of Netflix since the beginning.  Overall, it’s a great service.  Coupled with a few other streaming services, it makes sense to cut the cord on cable.  I made a large(for me) buy on Netflix at a price of $85.19 per share.  The stock had just taken a dip due to some bad press.  I was confident that it would recover.  I’m still holding the stock for now at a current market price that you can check for yourself.  Depending on when you read this, it has either been a good or terrible idea.

I bought Fitbit back at a time when the stock was around $16.  At the time the expert consensus was that it would hit somewhere around $28.  I have been a Fitbit user since 2013, and generally like their products.  My first Fitbit product was the flex, I have also worn the Charge HR until it disintegrated last month.  I recently purchased the Charge 2 which has worked pretty well over the last month or so.  When the stock started to dip a bit, I decided that would be a good time to buy even more(at a perceived discount).  At the time, I thought the stock was still stronger than suggested by the price, and if things went bad, I had effectively cut down my average cost price so I could get out at a lower price.  At present time, I hold 55 shares of a stock all experts feel is a terrible buy.

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My tanking stock

I like the company and its products.  Hoping to see a recovery after Christmas.  Either way, I’m staying on the ship.

One drawback to buying and selling small amounts of stock is the tax implication.  There are some rules about paying taxes on gains from stocks.  Since I’m not really making a lot of money, the actual amount taxed is low, however tax preparation is a bit more costly.  I generally use TurboTax, and I now have to buy the more premium package to do my yearly taxes.  Robinhood does a good job of providing tax documents that ease with tax preparation.  However, the added cost of TurboTax effectively negates pretty much all gains over the year in my situation.

Overall, Robinhood is a great app that allows both small and large investors trade for free.  There are no catches other than some tax implications.  It just seems that you might want to know something about the market before putting a large amount of money in.  If you’re like me, and looking to play a few single stocks for the fun of it, Robinhood is the best way to go about it.