"Exhibit A"

An itemized list of items taken by the FBI from President Trump's Florida residence includes 103 pieces of paper that Trump had declassified that were still stamped with various security labels. 

By my quick count, 103 pages. Right then.  What else was in those bins they removed? 

Oh, they also took hundreds of newspapers and magazines. And empty folders. A few books. And several "Articles of Clothing / Gift ltems." (?? Maybe the formal First Lady's smalls?)

Curiouser and curiouser. 


Treasure Map

 When I was eight or nine years old I went through a pirate phase. I had a pirate birthday party, fashioned a multitude of wooden swords, and crafted treasure maps. 

The cartographic content of a treasure map is of secondary importance. The main thing to achieve is the appearance of treasure-map-ness. The paper must be crumpled and smudged with dirt. The writing and terrain details must be indistinct. And above all it must have burned edges. 

Roll your treasure map into a scroll. Ignite and quickly extinguish each end. Roll it up again ninety degrees to the original rolling, and repeat the ignite and extinguish exercise. Remember that any fluffy ash that drops off can be used to smudge the map for further authenticity. 

This gives your map the look of age and exposure to the elements. It also causes the map to look plausibly fragmentary. "Y'see, matey, this here's the only part of the map I could save from the fire when the King's navvies sent the good ship Fiddle Styx to the Davey Jones' locker. I drifted on a piece of flotsam for three weeks... but that's another story. This here map don't show how to get to the island, but once we find an island with three palm trees and a rock like what it shows here, then we dig for ol' Cap'n Fiddle's treasure!"  (Note that  as a pirate one must pronounce it TRAY-zher.)

Which again reminds me of the love of wisdom. Everything is grist for the metaphysical mill, so it doesn't really matter what fragment of a map you bring to a philosophical  conversation. Whether the first question is Where am I? or Where am I going? or the time-honored What's it all about?, you end up covering all the questions before you're done. 

One thing my brief career in piracy taught me is you are better off drawing in the details of the map as you go along. 


Big Spill

I tipped over a full glass of water on the kitchen table a while ago. It seemed like a lot of water. I grabbed a few dish towels and dropped one into the middle of the puddle. Water continued to drip over the side of the table. More dish towels. Crisis averted. Detailed wiping begins. 

I could have put the first towel on the edge of the puddle before it dripped off the edge onto the chair below. I could have, but I didn't. 

Mopping up a spill is kind of like having a conversation. There might be ways that promote a more efficient outcome, but it really does not matter what question you start with; if you are true to the questions, you will eventually face all the questions anyway. It might take a while. Boil some water and make yourself a cup of tea. And please try not to spill it.


Hotter Then Expected

We get emails from TD Ameritrade. Sometimes informative, sometimes way over my head. 

Today's was... 

Proofread much?  And to cap it, when you click the link, you get:  


Eco prediction 23 July 2022

Eight "environmental activists" belonging to the radical group Dernière Rénovation in France attempted to interrupt the Tour de France bicycle race by sitting in the path of oncoming cyclists. The protestors were hauled off the course by fans and security personnel, and later arrested. 

Many of the eco-protestors were wearing white t-shirts bearing the message, "We have 978 days left."  UK's Daily Mail said that the protest group issued a statement the following day, including this:

If nothing is done, the climate crisis will devastate entire swaths of our planet, as its disastrous consequences in our country have already witnessed this summer, and will condemn billions of people to death.

I guess trying to stop a bicycle race might seem safer than trying to stop, say, Formula One racers. But aren't bicycles the good guys? Weird optics here, France activists. 

The "disastrous consequences" witnessed in Europe this summer were two days of around 100ºF. Wimps. 

By the way: 978 days from 23 July 2022 is, I think, 27 March 2025. Mark your calendars.  


Money Mysteries

 According to the exchange rates and charts on xe.com, the only currency that has been strengthening versus the U. S. Dollar lately is the Russian Ruble.  The price of gold (Comex August 22 Gold Futures, ticker symbol "GC=F") in U. S. Dollars is down this morning by $45 (it goes up and down but that is quite a swing in just a few hours). 

Yet the government of the United States has been spending like 350 million drunken sailors. And the national debt?  Fuhgeddaboudit!  So the Dollar should be, like, about worthless, right? At least that's what Libertarian acquaintances say. And the price of gold should be, like, about sky high, right? At least that's what Libertarian acquaintances say. What's up with that? Don't expect an explanation from me. I don't understand it.  

Oh, and while we're at it, isn't deflation supposed to be one of the definitional signs of an economic recession? While the price of everything else is rising at beyond escape velocity, maybe the deflation is starting -- with the equities markets? 

"Neither seek what is too difficult for you, nor investigate what is beyond your power." -- Sirach 3:21


On "How Much You Need to Retire"

This afternoon while looking for something completely different on the Charles Schwab financial site, with which I have some small and insignificant dealings, I saw this on the menu tree: 

Of course for me, it is already a  fait accompli, but still. 

"How much you need to retire" -- wow!

I think (?) they want to help you calculate how much money you may need to live up to your real or daydream standards. Hmm. I don't need help figuring that out, thank you. Sky's the limit. Pedal to the metal. Work till you drop. 

And that portfolio, my friend, won't be much comfort to you when you do in fact, you know: DROP.

I knew how much I needed to retire. 

I fought the thought. I tried to strive and drive and persevere and endure and all that. I failed at that model of working. 

But I needed to retire. Work was killing me. Looking for work was killing me. What good is that portfolio if hitting your goals leads to marching a Right Face off a tall bridge or something equally worthy of a small entry in whatever serves as newspapers these days? 

People who love me were hinting at how much I needed to retire. My guardian angel was telling me how much I needed to retire. Good old Saint Jude even answered my candles and novenas by telling me how much I needed to retire. 

Finally I came out of my denial and admitted I was powerless over Employment. The big step at the time seemed to be the quitting of the last situation. But "I quit" is not the same as "I retired."  Yet finally I shut my eyes and took the step.

Let me tell you straight up.  When the Holy Spirit tells you How Much You Need to Retire, you don't really need the Charles Schwab calculator.