Its a sunny hot weekend, but here under the kiwi arbor I enjoy a cool breeze with my canine friends Jack and Woody. A pair of hummingbirds stop at the feeder and then continue on, their wings just a blur. Shadows of other birds zip into the shadow of the kiwis and I hear them chirping overhead. A short distance away, bumble bees buzz through the raspberries. Though the street is only 150 feet away, the occasional car seems distant and I feel a part of nature, relaxed and reflective.
The backyard wasn’t always like this, there are many more birds and bees than there were just a few years ago. At that point I seriously started to expand the ways in which I invest for the future. I’d always looked to invest for the future but my thinking was mostly in the financial realm. As an independent thinker I managed my investments in ways most are afraid to do. Timing the markets helped me avoid the big crashes in 2000 and 2008 (of course I was early, so had to feel stupid for some time before being vindicated). So I avoided the big hits that many people took on their savings. Investing in individual foreign stocks and put options also was off the charts for most people but something I have done a lot of. I paid plenty of tuition toward my financial education (the way I look at the investments that did not pay off), but mostly it went reasonably well. If you don’t give yourself a chance to fail, you also don’t give yourself a chance to succeed. However after 2008 I felt uneasy, it seemed it would be more difficult for an outsider to invest successfully in the markets. It was time to expand my options and start diversifying my investing strategy beyond the financial and into areas of true wealth.
I’m finding it very rewarding to be investing outside the financial system and feel that the returns are going to be much greater and more secure over time. Please join me as I share the ups and downs of investing with nature. I’ll highlight some of the valuable resources that I’ve found and point out mistakes I’ve made. With my science and technology background I think I can provide some insight into how science, technology, nature and economics will interact and affect our futures. These are turbulent times that in many ways have a lot in common with the 60s and 70s, so I’d like to go a bit off topic to share some memories from back then.
I’ll never forget a morning in October, back in 1974. My clock radio turned on and the news began with the story “Last Night in Kinshasa, Zaire, Muhammad Ali knocked out out George Foreman in the eighth round to regain the world heavyweight championship”. Though I had to get to school, I just sat on the edge of my bed with a big grin on my face, thinking over and over “He did it, he found a way”. I couldn’t see the fight, it was only on closed circuit TV, which was out of the price range of this 19 year old college student. That grin stayed on my face that whole day. Why should that have mattered that much some white kid from the suburbs?
I probably saw Ali first in about 1965, back then you might settle a dispute with another neighborhood kid by boxing (it rarely happened, but it worked OK, no one was hurt). My Dad was watching a fight on TV and he pointed to one of the boxers and told me that is the way you should box. So I watched for a while and it was obvious that the boxer who was doing things the correct way, was not winning. The other boxer was very big and strong looking, but he was light on his feet and his hands, which were not up guarding his face the way his opponent’s hands were, were amazingly quick. Sensing my confusion, my Dad explained that he was Muhammad Ali, the reigning champ and he was a special talent that could to do things differently from everyone else. Ali truly did “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”. It was a lesson that doing things the textbook way wasn’t always the best way for everyone to make best use of their talent. That you should be an individual and Ali was a certainly a unique individual.
Younger people who only remember Ali as the beloved American hero lighting the Olympic torch, might not realized that in the 60’s Ali was vehemently hated by much of America. Between becoming a Muslim, his brash pronouncements and his refusal to be drafted, he had a lot of enemies. He could have accepted induction into the armed forces under a sweetheart deal that would allow him to continue to box. But he refused and his title was taken away.
When I was in high school during late 60’s and early 70’s it was a tumultuous time in the U.S. There were riots in the cities, guys just a few years older then me were getting drafted and going off to fight in Vietnam or were heading to Canada to avoid the draft. The draft system was under a lot of criticism for bias and allowing the privileged to escape the draft with college exemptions. A birthday draft lottery system was instituted where dates were chosen in a random order and any male who had that birthday would be drafted until they filled their quota. Talk was that the college exemption would be eliminated, if drafted you would serve first then could attend college. When the birthday lottery was held for my draft year, my birthday was a low number (about 30 I remember) and anyone with a number under 200 was likely to be drafted. Just in time for me, the country pulled out of Vietnam and the draft was ended.
Had Muhammad Ali accepted a deal and kept boxing as a member of the armed forces, instead of taking the stand that he did, the Vietnam war may have continued for much longer and at the cost of many thousands mores lives. Mine might have been one of them. That morning Ali had done more than beat a formidable opponent in George Foreman, he also defeated the people who had unjustly taken his championship away. So that morning I felt tremendous happiness, a feeling that justice was served and personal gratitude toward Ali. Thanks champ, RIP!
MacroVoices – This is a free financial investing podcast that was started earlier this year by Erik Townsend. Erik was a young software entrepreneur who sold his company back in 1998 for millions of dollars. He is genuinely interested in helping other sophisticated investors. I’ve listened to all the shows so far and I highly recommend them if you are a knowledgeable financial investor. Register on the MacroVoices site to get an email link to the podcast along with other supporting links.