The Week in Review -- July 9, 1999

The Markets

  7/2 Close 7/9 Close Change %Change
DJIA 11,139.24 11,193.70 54.46 0.49
S&P 500 1,391.22 1,403.28 12.06 0.87
Nasdaq 2,741.01 2,793.07 52.06 1.90

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Stepping Away from the Screen
by Jerry Thomas (

Greetings, Fools.

I don't know how much time you spend online. Me, I'm here all day long, reading the Fool Message Boards, answering email, fussing with these Notes. Let's face it: I don't get out much. This crazy Internet business is a communications revolution (duh), and anyone who has been bitten by the online bug knows how easy it is to connect with people here in cyberspace. I have a theory that you can measure your online popularity by counting the number of times the Darwin Awards show up in your email box. But as much fun as cyberspace can be, there is a danger that you could find yourself welded to the seat in front of the computer screen, forgetting to go out and meet people in that other, offline world we sometimes refer to as Real Life.

That's why I'm thrilled to see that so many Fools are using our Community not only to connect with other investors around the world, but also with Fools in their own neighborhoods. We have message boards dedicated to each of the 50 States, and as our online readership grows, those boards are being used more and more to organize local meetings of Fools. Here in southern California where I live, I frequently join several informal groups that meet locally, and among their numbers you'll find some very well-known Fool Community screen names: laopera, dawnc, sano, JJinLA. In fact, these state boards are becoming something of a phenomenon as more and more people come to appreciate their real value. As Joann Floyd ("Hunzi") reports in Wednesday's Fribble some Fools have even been moved to take a cybertour of the United States, stopping off at one state board every day for 50 days running. They're moving alphabetically, and as of Friday they had progressed as far as Georgia. For details, check Hunzi's Fribble -- it's not too late for you to join the tour yourself.

Speaking of tours, this past week, Barbara Eisner Bayer was in Los Angeles, and on Wednesday night Fools from all over L.A. and Orange County gathered in Santa Monica to greet her. You know Barbara on our message boards as TMF Venus, from her Rule Breaker Portfolio recaps, and from her work as Customer Service Fool extraordinaire. A surreal, lively, and rather doubtful accounting of our meeting can be read in post #1338 by Joseph Mailander ("laopera") on our Folly in California message board. Perhaps this post doesn't say much about investing, but it does say a great deal about the camaraderie that can develop among Fools who step out from behind their online personae and meet one another in person. As you become more involved in Foolish things, perhaps you will find a way to create such a scene in your own life.

It was a good week for contrarian views in Fooldom. In Wednesday's Rule Breaker Portfolio Recap, Yi-Hsin Chang raised an eyebrow at Steve Case's recent assertion that his America Online (NYSE: AOL) is "the next Microsoft." Meanwhile, Rick Munarriz (TMF Edible) was busy dissing Disney (NYSE: DIS) in a Tuesday Special. Seems that somebody slipped the company a Mickey, and now the stock is acting all Goofy. The shareholders are Grumpy, and if you're an investor and this company comes your way, you just might want to make like Donald and Duck. But before you do anything, read Rick's commentary.

I've also been enjoying the Back to Basics series in this week's Rule Maker Portfolio Recaps. The Fools there have been reviewing the core principles of Rule-Maker investing, and if you're at all interested in investing in cash-rich, industry-dominating giants, this is a good place to begin finding your way. Begin with Tuesday's Report by Matt Richey (TMF Verve).

Finally, and since I've been talking about Fool tours and suggesting that you make sure you have a life beyond your computer screen, let me give you a link that will show you a couple of Fools that are taking this advice to the extreme. They are Mark Golden and Kirk Kinder, two cyclists who are taking part in the American Lung Association's Big Ride Across America. It's a 3,250-mile bicycle trek that began three weeks ago, and last I heard, the boys were in Minnesota, heading east. The Motley Fool has sponsored their efforts and their worthy cause, and you can read all about their adventures by clicking here.

Until next week,
Fool on!


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