Aug 27, 1999 at 12:00AM
As with all that corn growing in the Midwest, I'm confident these fields have been planted properly and that between drought and floods, the portfolio stalks will still produce some generally tasty cobs along with some that need tossing. Beyond that, who cares?
Ah, the bliss of hitting the road!
My travels took me on a mad, triangulated path: from Atlanta to Chicago, from Chicago to Annapolis (MD), from Annapolis back home. The route was guided by the goal of playing groupie to the Lilith Tour (I've got a strong new thang for Sheryl Crow) and then visiting some far-flung friends. What did I learn? Plenty.
There are more cornfields in Indiana and Ohio alone than I thought existed in all of North America. And they all looked a lot healthier than the cornfields in Kentucky, which I guess haven't gotten enough rain.
The price of gas varies radically by region.
Truckers rightfully own America's roads.
Sheryl Crow and Sara McLachlan can sing a sweet duet, but the Dixie Chicks rule in Indianapolis.
Traffic in Chicago may be worse than the wintertime chill.
Artificial cows have taken over Chicago's city streets.
Sammy Sosa is The Man, two homers in the game I saw, one knocked 500 feet and outta there.
There's a successful lawyer in America thinking of going to divinity school. Amen.
There's a Wendy's employee in South Bend who's convinced that the only nightspots in town are hick joints, and that big city folk like myself should go to Chicago if I'm looking for night life.
Delly's on the quaint strip in Annapolis makes a delicious bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich.
Closer to Fooldom, I discovered that our very own Paul Larson (TMF Parlay) has a secret history as a bluesman, having jammed with some of the best at Buddy Guy's Legends back in his long-haired college daze.
And, best of all, Fool promo copy writer Kristin Garrison (TMF Scout) is a legit performance artist who's getting well-deserved attention from DC's City Paper for her hugely funny monologue about Florida's pop radio station BJ105. We were all very proud.
Hey, I could keep going, but this is a start. All of this pertains to investing because I had a great chance to relearn the pretty simple lesson that it's good not to spend every day reading and writing about stocks or worrying about what the G-man will or won't do with interest rates or even noticing what's up with Ron Insana's hair. I can go a whole week without CNBC -- OK, without more than 10 minutes of CNBC -- and feel pretty great, better than ever even.
To be a good Fool, you gotta hit the road sometimes, let the wind blow your hair (or your scalp, as the case may be). Turn up the new CD you haven't had a chance to listen to. Get caught in the rain. Wander into stores you've never heard of. Look at strange people. Talk about relationships with sailboats all around you and Navy mids jogging by. Discover that there's a great Superman store in Metropolis, Illinois.
So, as I inch back into the investment world, just a few news items seem at all worth mentioning.
Shares of Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) rose $2 to $23 3/4 today after one of my favorite travel companions reported a highly caffeinated 8% increase in same-store sales for the four-week period ended August 22. I take credit for 2% of that increase.
America Online (NYSE: AOL) announced that beleaguered retailer CompUSA (NYSE: CPU), subject of last week's Dueling Fools, will start selling a new line of CompUSA brand PCs designed for easy use with AOL or CompuServe software. CompUSA will also start offering consumers training classes on how to make the most of AOL. This extends a partnership started in July when AOL began offering CompUSA customers a $400 rebate on computers if they also signed up for three years of CompuServe Internet access.
Finally, Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) pulled back a bit from its "Purchase Circles" initiative launched last week, allowing customers to decide for themselves whether they want data about their shopping habits used (anonymously) in this way, or whether they want absolute privacy. As always, Amazon is quick to launch innovative initiatives and quick to respond when any of its customers have problems with those moves.
Speaking of Amazon, don't miss this week's Fool Radio Show. Tom and David will talk to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and you can listen right here on Real Audio.
Also worth noting, Toys 'R' Us (NYSE: TOY) CEO Robert Nakasone resigned yesterday after basically flubbing the toy retailer's Internet efforts. Amazon is one obvious beneficiary of the turmoil at Toys, which offers a great example of how hard it is for many traditional retailers to adopt a meaningful strategy to deal with the Web challenge.
I don't know about you, but that's all the news I can handle today. My ears are still ringing with Sheryl, who now beckons. May your travels all be as merry as mine were.
- Aug 27, 1999 at 12:00AM