Archive for July, 2010

Cool Mountain Streams and Calming Ponds

July 29, 2010

My Son Paul built this Stream and Pond

My Grandson Luke Laboring on the Stones (not mine)

I’ve often thought of water running through it, my yard.  It would be refreshing, I think.  You too can have a pond and stream if you give my son a call (Paul Johnson).  He is quite talented.  The creative side of the Johnson Clan he expresses in earth, fire and stone.  And patio’s, fire pits, brick or cobblestone driveways, and other weighty objects.  I’m thinking Luke or Jake, or for that matter Maggie, our famous B-ball and (she prefers) third basewoman, or Marli may take it over one day. 

There is a bluegrass song that goes:
“If I die, in my backyard
If I die, in my back yard
If I die in my back yard, I’ll die working hard.
My sins have overtaken me.
The title of the original song  is “Hand Me Down My Walking Cane”, and I substituted back yard for the word Tennessee.  The fourth line ends ‘ship me back COD’ in the Original.  So it goes:
If I die in Tennessee
If I die in Tennessee
If I die in Tennessee
Ship me back COD
My sins they have overtaken me.

Long Term Investing – Going to “Hell in a Handbag”

July 27, 2010

My Friend, Timothy Geithner, Thank You

Timothy Geithner, my friend, but he will only know it if he reads this article.

My post today on Bob’s Ceo Blog is the best analysis I’ve done about investing.  It is worth reading.  I’m going to reproduce it here just in case you don’t click over to Bob’s Ceo Blog.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy; Better: Worry, Work and Study, Be Happy

July 27, 2010 by Bob Johnson

Timothy Geithner made me money.  He was on the Charlie Rose show in March of 2009 and mentioned that he thought the government was going to support in some way the Auto Industry.  The market in March 2009 was hovering around 6500.  I thought that night that ‘this is it’, the bottom.  I guessed right.  But it was a guess.


So I bought Ford, GE, GM, GSX (this only 25 shares), and Citi.  A month ago Ford was up 5 times, GE up 2 times, GM gone bust, Citi basically no change (and I expect it to go back to its old yahoo days but they will need new management).  So I sold Ford, GSX and bought Sirius.  Then I bought more Citi and a few days later Ford dropped $2 and I bought it back.  I realize now that I was trading, not investing.  Gambling, not investing.  

I’m still up a fair amount, but very unsure.  This is the first time I’ve invested (really gambling) in stocks.  For the last twenty years all my money went into Kaffe Magnum Opus, and it is the only investment that has positive returns over the twenty year period.  Steady growth, profits after many years of management support and re-investment, and good prospects, although there are challenges in the coffee industry. 

So what to do?  I’m reading Ben Stein, yes, that Ben Stein,  “Bulletproof Investing” (The Little Book of Bulletproof Investing – link to Amazon)and it is pretty good, pushing broad investments, not picking stocks, and diversity.  He believes that you will be well off is you get an 5 to 8% annual growth, basically a doubling over 8 to 10 years.  That would be really good for twenty years.  Invest $1 today and in 2030 you have $4 (1 becomes 2 in 10 years, and 2 then becomes 4 in the second 10 year period).  There is a lot more to his strategy, and it is appealing.  The only question: Will I live for 20 years?  I’d be 85.  Maybe.  

So what about real estate?  Commodities (I’m in the commodity business, roasting and selling coffee)?  IPO’s?  I don’t know.  And this is my dilemma.  And then there is Ricky.  Ricky worked with me for a few years while in High School.  After getting a degree in Engineering he now works as a trainer at Best Buy.  He is quite successful and I am happy for his success.  So what does this have to do with making money.  Yesterday he comes to my home to install a bit of electronics and he tells me he realizes that if he is to become a millionaire he must: Pick the Right Stocks and with luck, get rich; pick the right commodities (his friend has farm connections and made some big money); or own a business.  Ricky is about 23 or so.  Wise beyond his years.  Stocks and commodities are pure bets.  But owning your own business is a pretty sure bet if you work really hard, study, and look ahead.  Look around the corner you are approaching.  So … 

What to do?  Sell the stocks.  Invest in my business.  It is my livelihood, and I influence directly the actions it takes.  Who knows what it will be worth when I’m 85.  It doesn’t matter too much because it makes me happy.  I worry, sure.  But it makes me happy. 

I am a nail biter.  I worry, and even when I worry, I’m happy.  Sometimes a bit jumpy and sometimes a bit biting.  Overall, I’m happy. 

If you don’t own a business, I’d suggest you start one.  Or be lucky.  Maybe you can pick the next Microsoft or Google, or for that matter, GM.  GM fifty years ago (1960) was a solid buy.  And my Uncle Mike Buckley made over a million in GM Stock before he died and left it all to charity.  In a funny way he was lucky he died before the management of GM became incompetent.  And let us remember the truth about long-term investing.  GM had a great run for many years, but in the long run?  GM went bust and is now worth nothing.  So much for the long run investor.  I wonder if this is a mortal sin?  Hey Ben, will I go to Hell in a Handbag? 

Close Call

July 26, 2010

This storm just happened, actually, around 5 PM.


The British Open Championship

July 19, 2010

It is great to see a young man from South Africa win this prestigious event.  It reminded me of a trip I made to Scotland and Ireland to play on the British Open Golf Courses.  At the time, or just before, I had achieved a 9 handicap.  Actually the 9 was in my last year at Wiltwyck Country Club in Kingston, N.Y.  This was  2 years before my trip.  I left Kingston in 1984 and Landed in Scotland in September 1986. 

I travelled by myself on this trip and was quite excited when I hit the ground.  But I was weary of travel and the time change and then to get behind the wheel and drive on the wrong side of the road.  Oh my God. 

Here is my scorecard from Carnoustie, a British Open course. 

My Score Card on Carnoustie - 89


I shot 89, which may not seem like a great round, but it was.  My caddy, Richard Johnson (no relation) was a great help.  We laughed a lot, and enjoyed the round together. 

And the really outrageous thing is I was paired up with three guys from Kingston.  It is indeed a small world.  Turns out they played Wiltwyck in the Ulster County Golf Championship and one of the three actually won that event.  I wish today I could recall all the names, but I can’t. 
Here’s a picture of the group.

Small World Three Guys from Kingston

  Here is a picture too of Richard Johnson.  

Richard Johnson, my Caddy Carnoustie 9-11-89


I also played Troon, Turnberry, Darley, Rosemont and Shannon Golf Clubs.  It was great fun, all of them were in the 90 to 92 range.  Playing a links course, just like St. Andrews, the site of the Open this year was a great pleasure and very difficult compared to American Courses.  The conditions were typical Scotland, windy and rain.  Look at how we were dressed and especially the look on Richard Johnson’s face. 

The next year I played a few courses in Ireland on a trip back to Ireland with Cathy.  Cathy does not play golf.  The conditions in Galway were far out.  At one point I hunkered down next to an elevated tee and the rain was moving laterally over my head.  What an experience.  Tommy Burns, the subject of another blog, got me the round on his Club Course, and I played by myself without a caddy, which was not a good idea, as I had no one to spot balls.  But it was still great fun. 

When I got home I hung up the clubs and never played serious golf again.  It is 20 years now.  I’m a goal oriented person.  Playing the British Open courses was goal met.  It was a ‘Now What” moment. 


Liam – The Adorable Hugable Loveable Standard Schnauzer

July 15, 2010

My Melting Point

 I’m a sucker for a puppy, and especially a puppy as attentive and loveable as Liam.  Thank goodness.  He is almost potty trained (when do you actually know this?).  He uses gravel in the driveway (easy pickup). He is fast as the wind and if given the chance will run; but he runs for the door to the house.  He loves the grass.  I think this was a play area at LeAnn’s. Cathy has him walking with Ruby.  Ruby is not nuts about a wild and wooly pup.  We are on our third iteration of a gate in the kitchen.   

A Gate for All Dogs - Childrens Gate from Toys R Us

This one took some work and it was missing the locking mechanism, but the company is sending a replacement (I swear there is nothing I buy or do now where there is not something going awry).  The hinges are excellent.  There is a support for the latch end (hidden by Ruby’s head).  And it is easily bungeed.

There are two here. The unadorned on the left and the adulterated on the right.

Each one of the failures cost $99 at PetSmart which is not AdultSmart.  The plywood cost another $78 (with nails and screws).  Kaput.  Liam was over the low one in a week, and the added weight of the plywood made the other too unstable to keep; and Liam is good at jumping against it, which partially dismantled the $99 portion.  Notice the bottom right support leg is missing on the adulterated model.  

Want to buy these?  They will work for small dogs, and they look really nice and are easy to assemble.  Call me: 856 825 8213 or write.

We buy a lot of stuff from PetSmart, yet today I had a real problem returning yet another gate that never made it out of the box.  I bought it yesterday, July 13, 2010 and returned it today, the 14th (which is Bastille Day, and my Brother Bill’s Birthday – Happy Birthday Bill).

I use NeatWorks to scan and save all my receipts and I’m in the habit of immediately scanning and then mutilating the originals.  Not good at PetSmart. I printed the copy of the receipt in the NeatWorks software, got dressed nicely so I would not look crooked, went to the store and knew immediately I was in for a problem.  The first cashier says “he’ll have to handle this”.  He is a guy my age, probably a retired boomer who wants to be at PetSmart as much as I want to live with Sarah Palin in Alaska.

Sarah, Sarah Palin, Queen of the Old Frontier

He looks at me and I know right away he thinks I’m crooked.  “How does the company know you didn’t copy someone elses receipt?”, says he.  I’ll spare you the details.  So he agrees to take back the $70 gate, and goes and gets one of those old credit card slider machines, takes an imprint of the card, gets my telephone number down on the slip, and says look for the credit in a couple of weeks, which I know, since I ran the credit card arm of NatWest New Jersey, many years ago (not enough years though). 

Anyhow, it was a pain in the head, the neck, and my angst.

Attribution: The Scream, copied from Wiki Whacky

NeatWorks better do something to straighten these folks out, and bring them into the Twentieth (did I write that?). 

Oh well, hail Liam the Conqueror of Emotions – LCE, for short.


These Are Some of My Favorite Things

July 13, 2010


Jennifer and Dad Sleigh Riding at 42 Fairmont Ave, Kingston, ca 1973

 I’ve wanted to post these pictures for some time as they are near and dear to me.  This one is of Jenn and I bob-sleding in the backyard of 42 Fairmont Ave., in Kingston.  The property had two levels; Street level, and then it dropped off 20 feet and on that incline (decline) we would create a bob-sled run in the winter.  You can see from Jenn’s delight it was good fun.


Paul and Dad enjoying a father and son moment in the dining room of 42 Fairmont Ave., Kingston, ca 1973

Paul and I were playing around with my old guitar, I think it came from Jack Burke at Marist College.  We would sing all the time especially Irish songs by the Clancy Brothers, as Paul grew up.  He is quite a good singer.  And a father.  Does his tongue tell you anything? 

A happy Dad. 


Great Summer Lunch

July 13, 2010


Great Summer Lunch

 One egg salad on lettuce, Tomato Herb V8 Soup (chilled), bottle of iced water. 

Wonderful refreshing lunch.  We are storing the V8 soups in the refrigerator so it’s just open and serve.  You all know how to make egg salad. 

Latter I was thinking about Gazpacho, an all time  favorite soup of mine,  and came up with this idea.  Take the V8 Tomato Herb soup, add diced veggies, a touch of hot sauce, and blend in a food processor and serve very cold.  Instant Gazpacho.  Sounds good too.

Today is my first day back eating good healthy food, and I’m determined to get with the program, that is, stay with the program.

Try this lunch.  Please let me know what you think.  (

Or comment below.


Liams Paws – He is Going to be a Big Standard Schnauzer

July 11, 2010

Liam Getting Ready to Run

The first thing to look at in this picture is the size of Liam’s feet.  Big.  If the rule of thumb “big feet big dog” is true then Liam will be a big dog (and bigger than Ruby).  LeAnn told us that the males are larger than the females, so this is going to be interesting.  He just finished running his butt off around the agility yard, which is really good now because his energy levels are rising almost as fast as he runs.  Much faster than I. 

Liam's New Barrier

Cathy is pretty sure he is close to being trained to go outside to relieve himself.  There is only one pee in the pen since he arrived home.  Cathy gets him up early, gets him out, as soon as he makes a move after a nap, out, 1 hour or so after meals, out, after exercise, out.  So He is getting used to going out, to go. 

The old boy jumped our new two-week old barrier today.  He is remembering his pack’s action from the yard at LeAnn’s.  I recall the first time I visited LeAnn’s home the two or three adult females tending the pup’s would jump in and out of the protected puppy area.  Liam, being a smart Irishman, learned.

He has been practicing, getting ready to leap the barrier,  in the kitchen.  Puts his legs up on the top and pushes off with his hind feet.  Cathy swears that he took a running leap today, on purpose, and he made it over the top. 

 So you see the result in the picture to the right.  A run to Home Deport, another $78 for lumber and tacks and screws, and wa la, a new improved dog barrier.  I attached ready-made 2′ x 4′ x 1/4″ plywood to the store bought barrier, to get an upgraded version. 

Notice that he will not be able to see out, if he stands on his hind legs and leans on the barrier.  To see out he will have to drop down and stand or go to the down position.  This is pretty smart of us.  (Hah)  We’ll see how he counters the counter measure.  He is one smart pup. 

Let him grow, let him grow.  (Silently sing to Let It Be

Liam our pup – he sure is cute,  We say that Liams – really a beaut, Soon he’ll be able – to run the chute, Eat only red meat – uh uh no fruit.  Hail the poet.


New Painting from Helen Hubler

July 7, 2010

Friends by Helen Hubler


The James River area of Virginia is beautiful, and it is there in Buchanan, Va. that Cathy and I first stumbled upon the local Art Gallery.   There was Friends.  I wandered around the gallery and kept returning to its room.  I was mesmerized.  And I still am.
It is a fine portrayal of the warmth I feel for the people of Virginia, especially the musician’s on the Crooked Road
A few weeks ago I visited Helen’s Facebook page and saw her self-portrait.  We chatted back and forth and Helen was willing to make it available so it now hangs with Friends in the living room.

Helen Hubler Self Portrait


The Swedish Side of the Family

July 4, 2010

Asa Gustafsson My Cousin in Sweden

Asa and I discovered each other through Ancestry. com

It is quite something to find a living relative in the home country.  For a while in my life I was called Blondie, and of course most of the family has blue eyes.  But I’d always thought of myself as Irish, since almost 3/4 of the family are Irish, either Hughes, Kenny or O’Leary.  Johnson of course is my surname, but I pretty much ignored the Swedish connection. 

Not anymore.  Asa changed me.  I am planning to go over to Sweden next summer.  After Cathy and I meet Asa the plan is to head to Faro (not The Faroe’s) Island, which is a small island  just north of Gutland, a large island about an hour or two boat ride from Stockholm.  My great-grandfather Viktor Johnson, who I met many years ago, but can not remember, was born on Faro Island, a rugged, cold, wet island.  He and his family were rugged people.  

Viktor had a brother Claus Alfred from whom Asa descended. 

The house Viktor was raised in is still in good shape. 

Ingmar Bergman lived on Faro and filmed many of his finest movies on Faro.  When I found out about our family connection to Faro I rented a few of his pictures to see the geography.  Bergman’s films are pretty dark and lonely but I did get a feel for the Island.  Bergman’s home is for sale if you are interested. 

I’ve also connected to Allen Abrahamson and Sharon Morrissey, both cousins.  Allen lives in Maine and is a practicing Landscape Architect.  I think Sharon is retired and living in Connecticut.  All are my generation.  Allen descended from a sister of my Grandfather Johnson, and Sharon is a descendent of a Brother of my Great-Grandfather Raber.  

I’m writing a family story and hope one day to publish it as there are many events in my life that I think are worth talking about.  

The Johnson and O’Leary Family Tree

This is the Johnson and O’Leary Family tree that I put together many years ago during interviews with my grandparents.  I was lucky.  Victor is last one on the right, but thanks to Asa I now go back a few more generations.  You can spot Allen Abrahamson on this tree in my generation.

Even if you have no interest at all in my tree, I hope it will get you to thinking.



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