WOODSTOCK, NY (August 12, 1999) � For one week every summer, pesky little gnats infiltrate my walls and have an endless orgy under the evening lights. The first time I saw them, I organized an army of Investor's Business Daily, a fly swatter, and my hand, and furiously went to war against them. One day, they were suddenly gone.

Until the following summer, when those irritating winged nuisances were back again. And again. It was a pattern I learned to tolerate; but short of hiring an exterminator, it was a condition I learned to live with.

For some reason, the stock market in August reminds me of those intolerable vermin. You can't stand the sight of it, but there it is, each summer, rearing its negative head. As Rule-Breaking Fools investing for the long term, we turn our heads away from short-term trends and towards a vision down the road, where we see ultimate growth and prosperity for the companies we hold.

We focus on the business of our companies, NOT their stock prices. It's the only way to remain calm in the face of the instability commonly known as the stock market. If we were to panic at every market downturn, we'd all have to enroll in the Hair Club for Investors or Uncle Fester's Ulcer Support Group. Not a way Fools like to spend their time.

The challenge becomes how to handle these periods of market volatility. Our answer is to focus on the positive things about our companies. This doesn't mean we IGNORE negative information; but if nothing bad is happening other than a "correction" of market numbers, we hold our stocks and focus on the other elements of our lives that are more pleasant.

As a result of this, we are sometimes criticized for being cheerleaders of our market-beating stocks by promoting our overall returns when the going gets rough. But how could we NOT be cheerleaders? Ask yourself this: If YOU had made the same investments several years ago and found yourself in the RB Port's position today, wouldn't YOU largely be basking in the sunny rays from the two purchases?

Even Lehman Brothers found themselves cheerleading America Online (NYSE: AOL) yesterday, as they reiterated their "BUY" rating with the following statement: "Believe it or not, it looks cheap!" Considering that AOL was recently nearly 50% off its April high, some pundits are now wondering whether AOL should be considered a value stock.

Meanwhile, AOL goes about its merry ways, producing deal after deal that solidifies its position as the leading player on the Internet. Yesterday it signed an $18-million marketing agreement with eToys Inc. (Nasdaq: ETYS) and announced it is teaming up with Novell (Nasdaq: NOVL) to continue its aggressive push to move AOL's Instant Messenger into the corporate marketplace. This move should give eToys additional exposure, strengthening the bull argument in this week's Dueling Fools.

Also, AOL announced that His Holiness The Dalai Lama will make his first one-on-one online appearance on AOL this Friday, August 13th. Jesse Kornbluth, AOL's Editorial Director of Channel Programming, said: "In his forty years in exile from Tibet, The Dalai Lama's message has broadened, sparking international conversation on AOL. Related message boards on AOL are already filling up with messages and questions for The Dalai Lama and we're looking forward to what promises to be an enlightening discussion." Maybe we should ask him about the direction of the market? Heck, no -- not even The Dalai Lama can predict that! (But I bet he could help me get a date with Richard Gere.)

Since I'm in the cheerleading mood, I gotta give a rah-rah-sis-boom-bah to Amazon, which announced yesterday that it will be setting up a Japanese subsidiary within the year. Unlike its American version, the Japanese store will place a greater emphasis on selling household electronic appliances, toys, and items other than books. While Amazon still expects losses to widen as it invests in its business, this is another event in a continuing series of moves strengthening its position as a leader in Internet retail.

And finally, Rule Breaker Amgen Inc. (Nasdaq: AMGN), answering to challenges about its pipeline, announced a large-scale trial of an experimental extended-release version of its blockbuster cancer drug Neupogen. Give me an A, Give me an M, Give me a -- aw, you know the drill.

So call me cheerleader if you will. Right now, I've got a date with some gnats.