Old. With Cold.

by Jerry Thomas (TMF Cheeze)
December 10, 1999

Greetings, Fools.

I might as well begin by admitting that I'm not my usual cheerful self as I compose these latest weekly Notes. For starters, I have a cold -- the really nasty kind, where the virus actually gets smug about infecting you. The germ has been tyrannizing my sinuses for almost a week now. I laugh at your puny Sudafed tablets, it snickers. The pill hasn't been made that can stop me! Well, fine. I surrender to its sinister domination of my mucous membranes. The pathogenic development of this infection is the least of my concerns.

The Markets -- December 10, 1999
  12/3 Close 12/10 Close Change %Change
DJIA 11,285.56 11,224.70 -60.86 -0.54
S&P 500 1,432.81 1,417.04 -15.77 -1.10
Nasdaq 3,520.63 3,620.25 +99.62 +2.83

I turned 40 this week. It's not that I hadn't expected it to happen. What bugs me is that it happened without my consent. Nobody bothered to ask me if I would be comfortable with 40, or if it would fit my personal preferences, or with the habitual deportment of my person. No, instead it was simply foisted on me, by chronological fiat, with supreme cosmic indifference. And as if to mock the advancement of my years, David Braze (TMF Pixy) launched three new real-money Retirement Portfolios here at The Motley Fool.

I'm told by the Fools at HQ that David's new portfolios are getting a lot of attention. The idea behind them is compelling enough: David has taken some $300,000 of his own money and divided it into three pools. Each is invested more or less aggressively, depending on how conservative you, the prospective retiree, might expect to be. The idea is to maximize your return within the constraints of your own temperament, so that theoretically you can make regular withdrawals from your funds without ever running out of money. This week's Polling All Fools feature even asks you to tell us how conservative or aggressive an investor you are, or expect to be, in retirement.

Retirement. It's a goal I think most of us have. I guess that with the big 4-0 around my neck all of a sudden, it's looming a bit closer. So my brain flits back to more immediate concerns, like my runny nose.

This Week's Top News Stories
  • Ciena Aflame on Strong Earnings Report - 12/10
  • VA Linux Has a $10 Billion Day - 12/09
  • Microsoft Rolls Out Mobile Software Platform - 12/08
  • Ketchup King Heinz Pours on Earnings - 12/07
  • Coke Fizzles After CEO Shake-Up - 12/06
  • On a recent Motley Fool Radio Show, fraternal Fools Tom and David Gardner interviewed Dr. Craig Venter, chief scientist and president of Celera (NYSE: CRA), a company which has taken on the monumental challenge of mapping the human genome. The talk has been transcribed and you can read it on our website. It's a great introduction to the biotech industry, of which my understanding reaches barely beyond what little science I've gleaned from repeated viewings of "Plan 9 From Outer Space." But the mapping of the genome holds great promise for the advancement of medicine in the next century, as we come to understand more about how our genetic heritage affects our health. This is cutting-edge science, and the therapies that are developed in the years ahead will depend a great deal on this kind of study. Tom does a great job of asking Dr. Venter to explain its implications in a way that even the lay person can understand, although he did fail to elicit a cure for the wheezing and watery eyes I'm dealing with at the present moment. (Note to Tom: Priorities, man!)

    Tuesday's Fribble by Larry J. Blum, oddly enough, is entitled "The Fool Virus." It has nothing to do with the bug that is currently playing "Jump, Jive an' Wail" in my bronchial passages just now. Instead, it refers to the inevitable spread of the beneficial, money-growing ideas of Folly. Another Fribble I enjoyed was Thursday's contribution from James J. Vornov, "A Fool Looks at Chanukah." James is better-known to readers of our message boards as "DocJimbo," and I have been following his posts since my pre-TMF days. It's always good to see a familiar name turn up on the Fribbles page, especially one whose thoughts I've learned to appreciate as much as DocJimbo's.

    As usual, there are many more good links to check out than I have space to mention. If you've ever been intrigued by the mechanical stock-selection screens of the Foolish Workshop, but you've been daunted by the dizzying complex of strategies, check out Thursday's Workshop Report from Todd Beaird. It contains a virtual road map to all the resources we've collected from the work of dozens of contributors -- in other words, it's a page worth bookmarking. Wednesday's Rule Maker, by Matt Richey (TMF Verve), contains some thoughtful observations on investing on margin, with some surprising insights on what a long-term perspective can do for your returns. Then there's Wednesday's Drip Report, from Jeff Fischer, which is a must-read for those who are interested in this investment strategy. The Internet has really changed the nature of the Direct Investing, and Jeff's report redefines the concept for this new era.

    Oh, also check out Wednesday's Fool on the Hill commentary by Bill Mann (TMF Otter) -- you'll be amused at the many inventive ways Bill suggests for bringing that next cold-calling broker to his knees.

    Finally, my advice to young Fools who are thinking of turning 40: don't do it. Skip right past this decade and go straight to 50. If my experience of the past three days is any indication, your 40s will be filled with nothing but coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and postnasal drip.

    Until next week,
    Fool on!


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