When the stock market did whatever it did the last week of September, it inspired me to start getting in shape for skiing, which is now only about 60 days away. With the recent Wall Street gyrations, I have been spending way too much time in front of the television. As a result, I brought my stationary bicycle up from the basement and put it in front of the television set.
I used to ride the stationary bike for a half an hour a day. In my case, the stock markets gyrating so much has let me get in much better shape.
I have been kicking around the ski industry for most of my life, and have avoided the stock market in favor of buying more film and the occasional bankrupt piece of property. One piece I owned for 45 years and I made enough profit on it to pay the college tuition for my three children. It also helped me produce yet another feature-length ski film for yet another ski season.
I am probably wrong, but I have always thought that if I bought stock in a company I should know a lot about what they made, how they made it and what kind of ethics the people that made it had. I still can’t quite wrap my brain around the fact that the value of a company goes up and down while it produces the same amount of product, sells it for the same price with the same profit margin.
In retrospect, I am very fortunate because this is the second Depression I might have to live through. The first one for me lasted from 1929 until I enlisted in the Navy in 1942. It left me with behavioral patterns that have lasted a lifetime. People don’t believe me when I tell them that I got my first real job with a salary at the age of 8; it was 1932 when I worked in a grocery store for eight hours every Saturday. As we closed up the store for the night, the grocer handed me 10 cents and said, “have a good week and don’t spend all of this money in one place.” I took his advice and was able to buy a piece of penny candy every afternoon on the way home from school and have five cents left at the end of the week. Every other week I had 10 cents that I could spend going to the Sunday afternoon matinee and seeing a double feature plus a newsreel and a cartoon.
Life got even better when I made a skate coaster out of what was left of the wheels from my pair of worn-out roller skates. It worked the same as an expensive scooter only it had a steel-wheeled roller skater nailed to the bottom of a 2 by 4 with a vertical piece of wood and a handle. I rode it a couple of miles to grammar school every morning until the wheels started to disintegrate and vibrate so bad that my foot would fall asleep.
You come into the world naked and screaming with nothing and go out the same way. All you are given is a birth certificate, which contains your name, your weight, your length, your parents’ name, whether you are a male or a female, and nothing else. Nowhere on that certificate is it written that you are entitled to medical insurance, old age pensions, free lunch, job security, senior citizen discounts or any other government hand-out program that is available today.
I have spent my life with the fundamental philosophy of a day’s pay for a day’s work. I have never thought of living any other way. I never criticize anyone for their beliefs unless they expect me to work extra hours so they can sit around for their extra hours.
I will have my big 84th birthday in the middle of October. I am a modest student of age extension science after writing my book on how to live the second half of your life so that it is better than the first. I know that my life can only get better, whether the stock market goes up or down, the tide goes in or out or the snow is a week early or a week late. When the snow shows up, I will once again be able to stand at the top of a hill and gravity will once again be the great equalizer. It is the only thing that keeps all of us from falling off into space.
So just hang on tight because the best is yet to come.
For more stories and stuff: e-mail Warren@WarrenMiller.net
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