Shower Sessions

Maybe I should take more showers. I’m not the only one. No. This has nothing (or very little) to do with hygiene during the pandemic. Like a lot of people, I had an idea in the shower a few weeks ago. Hmm. Let me clarify, I’m Not saying there were a lot of people in my shower, or that a lot of people use my shower to have ideas – let me start again before I get too distracted.

Maybe it is the lack of distractions that does it. Multi-tasking can be a trap. Busy is celebrated, but sages rarely recommend chaos. A shower is simple, essential (at least in the modern world), a difficult place from which to multi-task (though some gadget producers continue to try), but a great place to concentrate on one thing. Sadly, showers are difficult to make last long because they either run out of hot water, or require lots of energy to keep them going, or people turn into standing wrinkles. (Envy people who live near geothermal springs. Hmm.)

See what just happened? Two paragraphs gone by and I haven’t gotten to the point. Usually, I don’t let that happen because it is annoying. Get to the point or it will be TL;DR. Unfortunately, using a shower to remove distractions is counter to using a computer to type a blog post.

Allow me to flash back, (or splash back?).

Maybe you’ve seen those oval decals on cars that use two letter abbreviations to announce where the car’s owners lives. WI is a popular one for Whidbey Island.

I like Whidbey Island. There’s more than enough evidence in my books and photos. I even have a blog that is just AboutWhidbey.com . (Island living from an islander’s perspective) Yet, I don’t have an oval wrapped around a WI on my car. I sell houses on Whidbey Island (so now I’m required to post the following disclosure: I’m a real estate broker at Dalton Realty, Inc. http://whidbeyrealtor.com/); but I confuse some clients because I don’t claim that it is ‘The Best Place On Earth!’ I like it. But I also see why people like the Pittsburgh area (where I was born and raised, and one brother lives), Virginia (where I went to college), North Carolina (where my family went on vacation and another of my brothers lives), and those various places along my bicycle route across the US (Just Keep Pedaling), my walk across Scotland (Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland), and, and, and …

Smiling to myself while enjoying the limited supply of hot water in my house, I thought, I don’t need a label, sticker, or decal for my car; but if I did, I’d want one for Planet Earth. At which point I thought, “I bet I can make one of those.” And, “I hope I don’t forget the idea; because there isn’t anything in here to write notes with.

(Aside, A few days ago I posted something about having an idea for a blog post, then not writing it down because it was obviously unforgettable, then forgetting it. Then folks said, that’s age. I disagree. I’ve never had a perfect memory. I’m just wise enough to recognize it now.) Now, what was I writing? Ah, yes.

Yes! I didn’t need a label, but I wondered how many people would like to proudly proclaim that they are from Planet Earth. So; I have experience making stuff on Zazzle. And voila (keeping mind that voila took several days) a sticker (not a decal)!

I have another blog called PretendingNotToPanic, (long story), where it seemed appropriate, so that got added.

Ah, but since I went to college and got an aerospace engineering degree (1980) I have been an advocate of spreading out our population into space to keep from overburdening the planet. So, I wanted a version that recognized that I would consider options. Hence,

One that says Planet Earth, but also includes “But willing to relocate”.

I liked the thought. It made me grin. The entrepreneur in me knew I also had to advertise what I’d created. In the interest of equality, I put both in the same tweet – which had an unexpected effect.

Pepe? Maybe I took optimizing too far. Maybe the message had too many distractions in it. Too late. Too much else to do.

That happened about the same time as a thread about overthinking, but I’ll think about that some more, later.

The classic unanswerable question directed at creative people is; “Where do your ideas come from?” Mine don’t always come from the shower. They rarely come from times with too much going on. Usually I find something I think is simple, wonder why no one seems to have tried it, and if I care enough, I try it. With a few billion people on the planet and thousands of years of documented history, someone usually has tried it; but if they haven’t – well – that’s how inventions are made, photos taken, books, written, – – and creative uses of punctuation born.

There’s more to write about because there are more ideas to describe, but that’s probably enough distraction for now. Though there is this idea for a game about Whidbey and Camano Islands I thought up, drew up, printed out, and might develop (and expand). Imagine where I got that idea…

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The Power Of The Customer

I fired my bank. A few days ago I closed my account with Whidbey Island Bank. I started that account in 2005, very soon after moving to Whidbey Island. They were a bit surprised, and inquisitive, but weren’t about to change anything with the way they did things, so I exercised the power that customers have. I am no longer doing business with them. 

Closing my account is far from being a major impact on their operations. I was probably more of a nuisance and maybe even an expense because my balances got so low. They didn’t realize that was because I’d been shifting funds for months to other finance institutions as each has offered advantages that were tangible. I’ll give the bank teller credit (an interesting term to use with a bank) for asking the right question. “Why are you closing the account?” Well, let me tell you.

Getting an account with Whidbey Island Bank was a no-brainer. I moved off the mainland to get away from mega-corporations, the anonymity of the city (or even the burbs), and to simplify my life. Move to Whidbey. Bank with Whidbey. Made sense to me.

Don’t expect any great drama. It’s a bank. It shouldn’t be dramatic. 

For the first couple of years it worked well enough. Predictable. One nice thing about banking in a small town is people. They weren’t tellers. They were people. I didn’t feel like a customer. I felt like a neighbor dropping by for them to help with a chore. While that may seem natural to some and fictional to others, it is possible for people to treat people as if they are people. And they did.

The first smudge on our relationship was the flip flop of buying a house with a mortgage from them. Yay, and thanks. I’m doing business on the island which hopefully helps the island’s economy. Shop local! Which within a few months they sold off to a national brand. Sigh. OK. That’s just business. 

Banking life got back to boring, and actually somewhat engaging. One time I walked in, I was the only customer and there were three people behind the counter. One of them was a very good dancer. There was a good waltz on the radio. She came around from behind the counter. One of the others turned up the music. The other video-ed the two of us waltzing around the lobby. Sweet and fun. (The video exists, but it’s trapped behind Facebook privacy walls.)

Another time I made the simple mistake of leaving my card in the ATM. Three times in about two months. They retrieved it each time, one time suspecting I didn’t notice, once at the very close of business, and they never complained. We even made jokes about it.

Nice. 

And then came the change. They were bought out. Instead of a local bank based locally, it would now be a regional bank. At least it wasn’t national or international. They’d keep the name Whidbey, but the changes began to filter in: stationery, web sites, promotions, policies, etc. To me the feel went from a bank in the neighborhood to a remote business that just happened to be a bank. Maybe I never learned the tricks, but it seemed to be harder to call my branch without being routed through some call center. The web site Help desk seemed more focused on software than finances, as if turning it on and off again works as well for mis-directed checks as it does with a computer. To get through to my account I had to keep clicking on the box telling them to turn off their reminders, basically their popup ads. 

These were things to note, and even mention; but they are also so much the norm that I accepted them as the downsides of the modern world. I mentioned them, but I accepted them.

Let’s skip ahead a few years to when they decided to close the branch closest to my house, the one with my safety deposit box. Rather than move the contents, I emptied the box. I just had that feeling that, if they were leaving my community behind, I wasn’t required to move with them. 

Then I began realizing that the people in the bank were changing. The ones I knew were showing up at other banks, like the one I used for my business account. I dropped in on a new bank to help a friend and saw a few of them there, too. Recently I went into my bank to handle something for my account and I realized I didn’t recognize anyone there. Maybe they were there, but I know the dancer was gone, and so was the rest of the crew. 

Who was I doing business with?

Then the big panic came. My truck broke down as my business was struggling during the pandemic. (A Jeep Dancing And Credit) When I asked for help I’ll guess they tried, but when I visited one of the competitors, one that had many of the employees from the old bank, the feeling was back to friendly. Regardless of who had the better terms, when I’m dealing with anxiety-producing financial issues I want to deal with someone who is aware of the personal aspect of personal finance. I now have an account and a home loan with Savi Bank.

It would seem like closing an account would only take a few moments. Maybe it did to the folks at Whidbey Island Bank. They were courteous, efficient, and quick. Quite professional. 

To me, it took six months. Clearing transactions, making sure everything reconciled, etc. The longest delays came from turning off automatic payments and redirecting automatic deposits. When income and expenses were handled by check and deposit slips the switch could be quick. Automated systems designed to reduce a customer’s efforts can require far greater efforts when it comes time to de-automate systems twined with systems.

As I wrote above, as I closed my account the teller asked me why. I paused. In my head I listed the short version of the story I’ve told here. I also remember telling them about the things I liked and didn’t like – not as I was closing the account, but along the way. All of the things I’ve mentioned here were things I’ve mentioned throughout the years. Telling the teller that wouldn’t make any difference for either of us or the bank. I said something like, it was to consolidate my accounts and because they’d closed my branch. The response was, well, no one is down there anymore anyway. I’m down there. I live in that zip code. I bought a house with a mortgage arranged by the branch. True, the other bank there closed, but Wells Fargo has had its own issues. To them, driving the extra distance wasn’t an issue. The branch is right beside other banks, so I’d have to drive to them, too. (There’s on option in a different direction, but traffic is bit busy there and parking is asking for a fender bender.) I agreed. If I’m going to drive that far and there are that many options, then pick the option that works best for me. 

And I did.

It can be hard to switch accounts, or quit using one business to use another. Sometimes monopolies make it almost impossible to switch. But if I’ve told a business about things I’d like as a customer, and the business removes much of what makes them different, then why wouldn’t I do something different? 

In a truly free market the ultimate power a customer has is to work with whichever business provides the best goods or services. Unless I exercise it, that power is only academic. I made it real. I fired my bank.

Now about their rates for credit cards and safety deposit boxes…

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Reflecting On 2021 – A List

2021 is over. Yay. Whew. Wow. I felt exhausted, but that’s because I was. It was a challenging year. Ah, but there had to be good in there, and I wanted to remind myself of it. I felt like I got ahead, but more like a tractor in mud than a rally car completing a circuit. I’m sure I’ve been told to do such an exercise, but sorry that I can’t properly thank whoever mentioned it. I do know that this is the sort of thing to put into a journal or a diary, but that puts it in the dark and makes it difficult to share. Almost everything on the list involved other people; so, if you are one of them, I thank you. If you find this an example of something to do for yourself, great! But maybe save a bit of energy because I didn’t get part two written. Part one is about what was accomplished. Part two is about what was bad then but is something to laugh at now. Ah, but maybe those should be shared with friends and flavored with drinks. Oh. Not during a pandemic? Well, maybe more folks will start helping with that this year and we’ll have something massive celebrate by the end of 2022. 


2021 – Part 1

  • Firewatcher – fourth draft 
    • My first novel. Science fiction. Set within this century. The basic story is done, so now’s the time for the fun fiddly bits – and the grammar, spellchecking, book design, … At best, done this year. Probably done 2023. Could go on forever if I aimed for unattainable perfection as so many writers do.
  • Kettle Pot Cup – first draft
    • An irreverent series of essays about tea. Nothing fancy or long. Just something for lovers of tea. (Tea lovers is something else.) Words and photos and making it all look pretty enough for a gift book. Planning to donate profits to a tea-pickers’ non-profit.  
  • Twelve Months at Possession Preserve produced
    • Book 8 of 5 (do the math), of photo essays about nature on Whidbey.
  • Twelve Months at Dugualla Bay photos acquired
    • Book 9 of 5 (do the math), of photo essays about nature on Whidbey. Planning to finish by April, maybe sooner.
  • drafted a Whidbey game
    • A simple, easy game that came to mind while seeing long ferry lines, bored kids, bored adults, and might encourage more exploration of the island. Planning to complete by August.
  • helped people (try to) buy houses or land (Required Disclosure: I am a real estate broker with Dalton Realty, http://whidbeyrealtor.com/)
  • made a few public online presentations about real estate on Whidbey Island
  • worked on four blogs (~140 posts)
    • Wrote hundreds of thousands of words.
  • took hundreds of photographs
    • Gotta get a new camera, though.
  • 2 or 3 videos picked up by news outlets
    • Hmm. Another reason to get a new camera.
  • posted and tweeted
    • Did you notice? Twitter is getting more popular, for me.
  • watched MVIS hit the news, good and bad
    • Oh, the drama as my faithful old hopeful story stock got caught in the ‘Meme stock’ craze, then returned to doing what it’s supposed to be doing, running a company that may upset the display industry, and may enable the autonomous vehicle and smarthouse industries, and more – or not, because it hasn’t succeeded, yet.
  • hoped for re-retirement, then saw it fade
    • Saw the potential for my net worth to rise significantly, then fade, but the echo remains and may manifest itself this year. Hopes or plans?
  • Social Security
    • Started receiving Social Security and aghast at how similar the interactions were to those of bill collectors.
  • bought a new 2016 Jeep
    • …because my truck broke down once too many times.
  • donated truck
    • And made sure it went to a non-profit that could use it rather than simply sell it.
  • credit score
    • When I had to replace the truck, I learned that my years of financial efforts got me to the highest credit score the dealership had ever seen. And confirmed that with various independent sources.
  • HELOC
    • With a credit score like that I realized I could get a Home Equity Line Of Credit against my house, which meant I didn’t have to sell it. Yes, I was that close to moving off the island.
  • hiking, again
    • I have a Jeep again! Hiking has commenced. Snowshoeing and skiing are anticipated. I am also following my doctor’s written prescription to go on one hike per week, at least. (They knew I wasn’t likely to follow their other advice, but this one I’d do. Unexpected bonus: my knees feel better. Go figure.)
  • retired more anxieties
    • It may be using debt, but I was able to start un-deferring some deferred issues.
  • shook my head at the news
    • Duh. Ongoing.
  • wore masks, washed my hands, kept my distance, conditions permitting
    • Sigh. Ongoing.
  • dancing
    • Was even part of the graphics for a Goosefoot dance poster. (and wondering why they don’t have a graphic of two geese dancing.) But aside from that, not enough dancing. See above. 
  • resocializing
    • Practice. Practice.
  • tried to laugh
    • Practice. Practice.
  • tried to listen
    • Ironically, easier in person because body language means so much.
  • missed hugs
    • Some day. Hopefully soon and part of a long series of celebrations for all the hard work we’ve all been through.
  • worked too much, played too little
    • Even my doctors told me so.
  • …and thinking that I missed something.
    • And not worrying about the fact that I did.
  • Ah, but I’ve been told that we can all get back to work and be busy in 2021 2022. Eep!

2021 – Part 2

Making fun of the bad and sad and mad times. But as I said above, maybe that’s best shared with the folks that will get the jokes – and who knows what it took to get through.


Thanks for coming along for the ride. I hope you enjoy your list, too; because I look around and see such impressive people handling tougher challenges. That’s a skill that will be in demand as we enter into whatever new normal is coming.

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Popular Posts In 2021

The top ten in 2020:

So, can you tell that MicroVision (MVIS) was headline news this year? Healthcare and Drewslist were represented, but that’s from immense traffic in previous years. But, none of the posts about inventions, affordable housing, community, or the basics of personal finance were able to rise above the tide of news about that one company. The next most popular non-MVIS post has almost only half the amount of traffic. So, should I abandon the original intent of this blog, basically personal finance for frugal folk? I have stocks I haven’t abandoned for twenty years; so, no. But maybe a separate YouTube channel about stocks? As if I don’t already have enough Lines In The Water.

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Semi Annual Exercise EOY 2021

As I note at the start of my stock synopses that are posted on the discussion boards listed below;

INTRO Here’s my semi-annual exercise to see if I remember why I own the stocks I own, and so I can check back and see if their stories have changed. I post in case it helps others too.

Portfolio analyses can be made overly complex. Single portfolios are tough enough if money flows in and out. Multiple portfolios are tougher, especially if money flows from one to another, like when I had to sell some stock in my IRA to add cash to my regular account from which I pay bills. And then, there are years when one stock can act as a summary of the complexity. Frequent readers won’t be surprised that MVIS fits that description. 

In April 2020, MVIS was priced at $0.15. Dismal times for my portfolio. By the end of 2020 it had climbed to just about $5. Hope! The percentage rise was great, but a large percentage increase of a small number can still be a small number. But that hope, that was valuable. Within the first quarter of 2021, MVIS rose to $28, with some interesting intra-day spikes. Investor sentiment carried my sentiments higher, with the potential of easing lots of monetary and personal anxieties. By mid-year it was back to just over $16. Now, it is back to about where it was 12 months ago; ~$5. 

Google Finance

That’s old news that can be tracked through my previous posts. (follow the tags for MicroVision & MVIS)

The part that is less obvious is the emotional ride. Hope rose as the stock became a good source of story. The hope took a while to settle in, and when it did my mood began to improve as years of patience and struggles looked to be over. Then the slips, and the slips, and the rationalization that “Well, at least it is better than two years ago.” As the stock dropped 50% from its peak and personal expenses rose the numbers looked less optimistic, but the optimism that remained superficially continued while an unease crept in beneath it. In the midst of a complex year, it took a while to recognize the emotional ride of seeing heights then having to accept a retreat to overly-practiced coping mechanisms. It is a good thing I was frugal by choice years before it became a necessity. 

The stock charts are easier to draw. The emotional charts are more important. The two are as tied as the words ‘personal’ and ‘finance’. 

There are many ways to measure a portfolio. My broker, Schwab, and others provide a variety of ways that also provide a variety of answers depending on what is measured: individual stocks, IRA vs regular portfolios, cash flows, deposits, withdrawals, performance relative to cost basis, or yearly, or the rest of the market, etc. Take your pick for your portfolio and your personal perspective. 

One basic measure captures the personal and the financial: how much do I have to work? Without assets, income heads straight to expenses, and hopefully there’s something left over. Many aren’t fortunate enough to have excess. Work is a necessity. At the other end of the spectrum, assets are sufficient to sustainable retire. Work becomes discretionary. Work because I want to (but am I taking away someone else’s opportunity to have a job to they can meet their basic needs?). The middle is most common; a bit of excess, or at best more than enough to live but not enough to retire. I am in the first of those three parts of the continuum (#ALAYCPYB).

Within these last two years I’ve been able to see the entire spectrum, though my re-retirement was only glimpsed at the time. At that time, however, projections of my stocks suggested I could (not guaranteed but could) have enough assets by the end of the year to cover the majority of my money-related anxieties, and maybe even re-retire. My physiological and emotional health looked forward to that. Sigh. I’ll check my lottery tickets soon, maybe after the New Year begins. (The roads are a bit icy here, now.)

And yet, I feel confident about 2022. 

LTCX and GERN, my two biotechs, both announced (forward looking statement alert) expectations of commercial availability of their respective treatments within the next few years. News about treating people beyond trials is encouraging. Twelve months from now those stocks may be much more in demand.

MVIS has been a rocket ship roller coaster, and 21st century rocket ships can fly again. At least one product has launched. Another seems imminent. Others are advancing. The company is better known and respected. And management was smart enough to raise enough funds to skip a buyout and possibly remain independent. 

NPTN announced that it would be bought out, so I redeployed those funds to SOLO (electric vehicles for sale now with more models to come) and WNDW (solar energy windows which have uses that opaque panels can’t match – e.g. greenhouses.) Those holdings are new, small, and encouraging; but largely moot unless I can find funds to bolster those positions. But, that’s the way investing works.

My personal finances outside of my portfolios also elicit encouragement, but those are outside the scope of my semi-annual portfolio review. That story will be chronicled, as usual, in the rest of this blog. For more details about the stocks, here are links to various discussion boards where you can find my synopses, as well as others’ points of view. For more details about how I do what I do, there’s a book that I wrote at the request of several friends: Dream. Invest. Live. Maybe you can help my personal finances by buying a copy – though the frugal part of me recommends checking one out from a library.

The following links are to  various discussion boards I follow. Many of the independent investors who contribute to the discussions provide in-depth analyses that either aren’t available elsewhere, or would cost too much to buy. The other advantage is the diversity of perspectives. Unfortunately, I don’t engage as much as I did before. Some discussions have degraded due to lack of moderators, or have too many immoderate voices. Some boards are effectively ghost towns, or feel like cavernous empty warehouses. Regardless, here are the sites I continue to visit, even if it is only to lurk and listen. 

I encourage you to tune in, because more voices (as long as they’re mature) make for a better conversation. Maybe I’ll read you there.  

Investor Village

LCTX

GERN

MVIS

SOLO

WNDW

Motley Fool

GERN

MVIS

Silicon Investor

GERN

MVIS

Reddit

LCTX

MVIS

SOLO

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White Christmas-ish 2021

Snow days, an excuse, a hint, time to take it easy. Happy, Merry, Joyous ___fill__in__the__blank.

About Whidbey

It’s 2021, when every present has a chance of being delivered just in time or maybe a little late. For Whidbey, snow for a White Christmas arrived on the day in some places, and a day later in others. Down near the water, less snow. Along the ridges, much more. The island is so geographically and meteorologically diverse that there is no one number to pin on the island, as in “Whidbey got four inches of snow.” Considering road conditions and the weekend, there’s more reason for many to not drive, stay home, and enjoy the gift that will eventually clean up after itself. 

Mentioning the time for gifts, a personal one is keeping this somewhat delayed post very short post so there’s more time to relax and play.

Ho. Ho.

(And if you do have to drive, may you be gifted with safe travels.)

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My MVIS Dream as of December 15 2021

To sleep, perchance to dream. But sleeping is a bad investing strategy. With a stock like MVIS it is possible to be completely awake and watch emotions run from fear to greed, wonder and hope, with a very large helping of what the…? Dreams come and go, which may be the history for many MVIS speculators this year. Reality has been going on for decades, and isn’t over, yet.

How many companies have stories like Google asking to be bought out for a fraction of today’s value, or Netflix offering itself to Blockbuster? MicroVision may have seen something similar happen within the last two years. How many companies were being courted to buy MicroVision when MVIS was under $1? Two years ago, before MVIS hit bottom at $0.15, the company was valued at $0.085B, or $85.0M, or slightly more than the price of the most expensive house for sale in the US in 2021. As I type, the company’s market cap is $960M, up more than ten-fold from the end of 2019, and down from ~$29 in the middle of 2021 to a whimpering price of $5.85. Eep. Or is it, yay!?

For over a decade, maybe two, I conduct an exercise of reviewing the stocks that I own, and why I own them. Simply because life is hectic, I tend to begin writing a synopsis for each stock sometime in mid-December. Limiting MVIS to a synopsis has become more of a struggle than any other company I own stock in. Considering the ride the stock and its shareholders have been on for the last two years, I decided to dedicate a post to MicroVision and its stock, MVIS. Check back again on New Years Eve to see if the synopsis is any shorter or is simply a pointer back to this post with some updated prices.

2020 and 2021 were the era when MVIS became a meme stock. I’ve always thought of MicroVision as a story stock, a company with a story about an impressive potential, and hence a stock that was attractive to me. Their struggle has been grueling to long term shareholders who held but didn’t trade. Suddenly, a new force entered the investing environment that cared more about the stock, the shorts that were influencing it, and whether a concerted community effort could deliver their version of justice by buying up the stock, trapping the shorts, and benefiting from costing the shorts lots of money while holding on long enough to sell at overly optimistic prices. Concerted community efforts are difficult to sustain, while professional shorts have the resources and organizations to hopefully survive the siege, at least this time. Hence, the stock rose from $0.15 to ~$29.

At the same time, a new CEO saw the company as drastically undervalued, and worked hard at simultaneously developing products while shopping some or all of the company to various possible buyers. $85M for a potentially industry changing technology? That’s a cheap acquisition when measured against the time and money necessary to defend against the tech. Playing catchup can put an entrenched or developing product line at risk. As months progressed, encouraging words suggested (forward looking statements, etc.) that many significant buyers were seriously interested. Expectations of a full or partial buyout within a few more months were high. That didn’t happen. 

My speculation (Speculation! Guessing! Just me thinking about my investments! I’m not a investing professional, just an independent shareholder attempting to understand my investments!) I digress. My speculation was that if things went well, the anti-shorts could help drive the potential buyout buyers into an auction as various competing mega-corps kept their competitors from gaining an advantage. 

Note: If, Could, Expectations, Encouraging, = nothing definite. But nothing is completely knowable, there are always risks, and MicroVision has certainly been risky – and hence, possibly rewarding. Or not.

Another of my speculations. Prudent companies interested in buying the company necessarily take time and work with caution before making a decision and acting on it. They have shareholders to answer to and careers to guard. While MVIS may have seemed like a bargain at the beginning, at some price point it would no longer be a bargain, at a higher price point it might only make sense on a strategic level, and eventually become too expensive to make sense for them – especially if none of the other bidders were committing to a purchase. The stock loses some support, the price drops. As the anti-shorts don’t drive the shorts into a squeeze, their support weakens, the shorts strengthen, and the price drops more. 

Again, this is one of many possible scenarios. I doubt even the CEO knows the entire story because looking inside a mega-corp could be considered illegal, trying to track the shorts seems fruitless to other CEOs I know, and the anti-shorts community it so fractured that only pieces can be seen.

So, time for one set of perspectives. MVIS is at under $6, started the year at a similar level, wandered through some exciting spikes, all of which looked phenomenally fine after the April 2019 low of $0.15. Which perspective is yours? Whether you own the stock or not, is there a level that you identify with: irrational optimism, irrational pessimism, or your perfectly rational perspective? 

So, time for a different set of perspectives. (See why this doesn’t fit into a synopsis?)

My perspective

I invest in companies by buying their stock. 

I bought my first shares of MVIS when I saw a TV news broadcast that included one of the anchors putting on a pair of glasses that had a miniature TV display superimposed on his vision. The broadcaster couldn’t replicate his experience, and it looked somewhat uncomfortably staged, but I could see (no pun intended) the potential. That was during the irrational exuberance (the Fed chairman’s phrase) of the Internet Bubble when valuations were testing new territories. (Another hint about the era was that I was actually watching broadcast TV for news.)

But, I’d seen the technology advances from punch cards to keyboards, from mainframes to mini-computers to PCs to laptops, from reading printers to CRTs to LCDs/LEDs and saw the natural progression from fragile flat panels to virtual imaging. Why mine massive materials to ship to massive factories to build ever bigger screens that include large warehouses filled with enormous boxes that would require bigger trucks to deliver big boxes to stores where customers would drive to them to buy then load those boxes into their cars to get them into their houses and then hook up the device while the packing material heads to the landfill? The MicroVision display unit might only be as large as a pair of ski goggles, and would inevitably get smaller. 

By the time I started attending stockholders meetings the company was also developing a cell phone (not a smartphone, yet) that projected a video call’s content directly onto a user’s retina. Not even any need for the glasses. Daylight readable. A short while later they were developing a Head Up Display unit for mechanics and construction workers. (Hello, Hololens fifteen years early.) Then, HUDs for cars. Then, miniature medical cameras, high-speed barcode scanners for industrial applications, and maybe even miniature display projectors.

The miniature display projectors progressed from the size of two smartphones (because it was now that era) down to projectors that fit inside the phone. Along the way, the projectors actually hit the market, including one in a robot. (That’s a story, too.) 

Bored by all the side stories? They are the stories that didn’t promise but were massively encouraging to shareholders who were watching profitability advance from 2-3 years from now, to 1.5-2 years, to 9-18 months, to 6-9 months. Do the math. Those original profitability dates were off by a factor of ten. The progress has not been gradually improving; there have been many ebbs and flows, but progress.

For investors with patience, and an appreciation of the potential, it was easier to hold on. 

Within the last two years the company has been helping develop consumer displays, interactive touchless displays, home sensors, augmented reality devices, and laser imaging devices for autonomous vehicles. That’s a much broader product line. Surely something will succeed.

And something did, sort of. Hololens. Microsoft’s augmented reality display includes MicroVision projectors. (By the way, keeping track of which ‘Micro’ to keep track of isn’t easy for some. Don’t be surprised if you get confused.) Hope rose significantly, particularly because that news hit about the same time as the buyout prospects and the anti-shorts crowd arrived. Layer all three into a composite structure and the future looked fun and profitable. 

And then the shrinkage began as described above. Other product lines didn’t gain commitments, or experienced postponements. The company seems to be relying on Hololens and whatever will happen with LiDAR, the sensors for autonomous vehicles and more.

Throughout, the company has survived by diluting the stock. They aren’t in debt, but without significant revenues, the company was always having to deal with potential bankruptcy (from my perspective). The current management team was wise enough that during the price spike, they sold stock and raised so much cash that any buyout can be considered optional, for a while. Not being bought out means they are more in control. Instead of the profits being absorbed into a mega-corp, those profits can create significant wealth for the company and its shareholders – but it may take a year or two. 

MicroVision’s story is not just about memes. It isn’t just about MVIS. The story is deep enough to warrant a book, which I might write, but I’m writing two or three others currently. Others know the story better. All of us are hampered by the company’s reliance or restrictions or both on Non-Disclosure Agreements which have limited what the management can or want to tell us. (To the extent that news about Holoens may have only been revealed because a shareholder bought one of the multi-thousand dollar units and dismantled it so see if there was MicroVision Inside.)

I continue to hold because I return to the fundamentals of the technology. Whether MicroVision develops it or not, I have literally seen what I think is the next generation in human-computer interfaces, and how that is extending into automation industries. If MicroVision gains even a small market share and remains independent, I might be able to re-retire. I hoped, expected, and actually began to plan for that as MVIS rose through $20. MVIS has now fallen through $6. I will not ignore that emotional price. I hold, however, because MicroVision, the company, the employees, the technology, the markets, and the industry continue to impress me with the positive, disruptive, innovative potential that I am invested in. 

While I wait I dream about what will happen next.

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Google MegaMillions Story Stocks In 2021

Thank you, Google. (And thanks, Vox.com for reporting on it.) One of my pet peeves is end of year compilations that are compiled before the end of the year. Google listed the top searches in 2021, already. Hey, what would happen if the aliens dropped by for a visit, huh? Back on track, Tom. Vox mentioned items that were I’ve been watching too. I just didn’t know anyone else cared. Two of them touched on personal finances: the lottery and meme stocks.

Meme stocks like AMC and GameStop were also newly popular searches in 2021. They were also, incomprehensibly, well-performing on the stock market this year.

Trending searches for Mega Millions lottery and stimulus checks suggest regular revenue streams weren’t quite panning out.” – Vox

And, no, I did not win the Mega Millions lottery jackpot – but that doesn’t mean I’ll quit trying!

And, what they call ‘meme’ stocks I call ‘story’ stocks; something I’ve been writing about for over a decade. (Lottery Ticket Stocks)

Cue conventional wisdom, cliches, knee-jerk reactions. Or, know there’s a different perspective on such things. 

Lotteries are a voluntary tax on the poor.

Risky stocks are where fools throw away their money.

Or, as Vox also reported;

Perhaps undergirding this newfound interest in the stock market — and alternative assets as a way to get rich quick — is the persistent economic uncertainty in the US.

They use nicer words. I call it desperation strategies. 

When a person has more than enough money to pay the bills, a lottery ticket can be solely entertainment, a ticket to dream of luxuries – with a slight chance of seeing it happen. The cost of a ticket doesn’t impact a budget or a retirement plan.

When a person doesn’t have enough money to pay the bills, or is only paying some bills while ignoring other necessities, a lottery ticket is a ticket to dream of covering all of the necessities, and maybe more. Instead of buying a new Mercedes, they may envision finally scheduling a surgery, or fixing a foundation, or paying for school or day care or insurance. And it can only cost a dollar for a ‘normal’ jackpot, or a few dollars to reach that over-the-top dream money. The budget impact might be (barely) noticeable, but minimal compared to the price of a gallon of gas or even a bus ticket. (Though one thing nice about Whidbey Island is that the bus rides are free; which is a story in wisdom, insight, and practicality mixed with compassion.) As for retirement plans…ha! 

A few years ago I heard an economist put lottery ticket prices in a different perspective. A lottery ticket costs a dollar or so, and provides an entertainment benefit while the purchaser exercises their imagination with a phenomenal upside potential. A movie costs much more, is over in under two or three hours, and has an upside limited to a few memories – and maybe a few more calories from the butter on the popcorn. (Another thing going for Whidbey where The Clyde is a bargain in both over the mainland theaters.)

I have an additional perspective. Eventually every lottery is won by someone. For that someone, it could life-changing, even life-saving. For a few dollars I contribute to someone’s very good day – with a chance that it will be me. Why wouldn’t I do that?

Ah, but for bigger budget items: stocks.

The big news that Google and Vox described was about AMC (the mega-plex movie theater company) and GAME (for Game Stop, the video game company). (Gamestop And Moving Smaller Stocks) Their stories were where I first heard the term ‘meme stocks’. The ‘meme’ made the companies sound like Internet Bubble companies, companies that had vaporware instead of real products and services. Popups that will vanish within years, maybe months. I used the term ‘story stocks’ to describe the startups that I invest in which have stories but no products or services, yet. Every company starts that way. Buy in early when the company is being laughed at or ignored, sell when the company becomes the must-have stock. (Details in my approach and my history are in my book, Dream. Invest. Live.) Some consider them get-rich-quick stocks. The irony is that AMC was founded in 1920, GAME in 1984, and MVIS in 1993 (the one I’ve owned since 2000). Quick? Meme? These companies existed far before the term became so popular.

All three stocks have been laughed at. All three were heavily shorted by investors who thought the stocks would become worthless (or could be manipulated to become worthless according to those who know more than I do.) Some bought the stocks because they like the companies. Some bought the stocks because they liked the stock. Some bought the stocks because the companies could be bought out. Some bought the stocks because they hoped to attack manipulative shorts by driving up the prices while tying up the shares to create a short squeeze. Every stock has an community of investors with a variety of motivations, but this year has been ridiculous as new players learned the old rules and tested new tactics and strategies. 

It made for a wild year, even for me and my shares of MVIS. For reasons complex enough to inspire several other posts, MVIS surged, my expectations were elevated, and my dreams of becoming financially secure again were re-awakened. And, the surge passed, and dreams delayed, again. 

The sad? news is that MVIS is ‘only’ up over 120% this year, and ‘only’ up 4260% since Spring 2020. Why am I disillusioned? At one point MVIS was up over 18,000%. Double that stock price, and debts could be gone, or necessities so taken care of that a few upgrades would be possible, or both. I even joined in the speculation that could see the almost-lottery-style odds that would re-retire me. OK, but up 120%. So, maybe I wait another year or two or whatever. 

AMC and GAME? AMC up 600%. GAME up 1,094%. [sarcasm on] “Those silly meme stocks. Those people are stupid for investing in them.” [sarcasm off] There were some who bought at the high and watched the fall, but there were also others like the few who emailed me directly to tell me that they are now multi-millionaires. Silly? If it works, it works. 

Repeating what Vox reported and commented; “persistent economic uncertainty”. Or my version, desperation strategies. 

One reason I’d like to write a sequel to Dream. Invest. Live. is because I’ve been on a roller-coaster through America’s wealth classes. So much of what I hear as conventional wisdom comes from a position of ease that thinks any un-ease or even dis-ease is merely a matter of perception. ‘If poor people only thought right they’d have all the money they needed, and more.’ It is also common to say that it takes money to make money. That’s a wonderful statement, but is rarely extended to the reality that the poor are defined by not having money. No money, no money to be made, and the poor remain poor. But, for the price of a lottery ticket or a cheap stock, there’s at least the dream, the slight hope, and the slim chance that maybe it will be possible to do more than struggle to survive and to actually live.

As for end-of-year summaries, compilations, and reports, I generate several about stocks, as well as for each of my blogs. If you’re interested, check back in early 2022. I always hold out the possibility that Santa will deliver a jackpot to me, or that the aliens might drop by, or both. Stay tuned – but wait a few weeks.

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Introducing WNDW and SOLO

That title looks a line from a Star Wars sequel. Nope. Today I acted on the informal and personal stock research I’ve been conducting since learning that one of the companies I was invested in is being bought out. Neophotonics (NTPN) was being bought out. I sold my shares then bought Solarwindow (WNDW) and Electrameccanica (SOLO). As I said last time, rather than buy only one, I bought a bit of both.

Hmm. It’s come down to two, and maybe both: SolarWindows, and ElectraMeccanica. Interesting enough, imagine an office building producing power that charges employees’ trikes.

Why mention it? Because at its core, this blog is about personal finance and is based on my book Dream. Invest. Live. I wrote the book at the request of friends and with the recommendation of a world known best-selling author. People liked it, and told me I was able to simply describe a topic many consider to be complicated or at best boring. Thanks. Then the Great Recession hit, and my strategy continued to work; but too few wanted to read about investing when the market was crashing. Then I had my perfect storm of bad luck, which happened at a time when job and real estate markets were terrible. But.

Rather than quietly hide that reality, I decided to continue writing about the realities about my personal personal finances. One of the taboos I’ve been willing to break is to describe the good news and the bad, as compared to many pundits who make everything sound like a success without any hint of failures. It’s been a wild and difficult ride, and may become the basis of a sequel. So, why mention it? Because personal finance isn’t only about successes, failures will happen and shouldn’t be a source of shame, and the mundane steps between those two extremes should be shown in case others want to see at least one example of how investing can be done. And, of course, I am looking forward to celebrating successes, eventually. Let me check those lottery tickets.

For me, researching stocks isn’t drudgery. Each company is a story about dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of people who also have stories. Someone had an idea for a company and decided to do something about it. Congratulations. The research helps distinguish each company from the others, one story from the other stories.

Those stories can be marvelous narratives, something that’s been apparent since Gates and Jobs and the thousands around them revolutionized our society and culture. Not dull.

As I do it, the research also involves data. Some only focus on the data. Some only focus on the stock price, regardless of the company. I prefer to look at the official data as required to be reported by the SEC. That’s looking back, and is proof of how they’ve managed. I also look ahead at the unofficial “forward looking statements” where people inside and outside the company project the company’s growth, the industry’s growth, and the technology’s growth. Why would any manager make that sound dull?

Solarwindow’s story builds off solar power’s long struggle to gain acceptance, and could lead into a new approach. Solar power systems are becoming so common that getting a system installed on your house isn’t as much of a novelty as a decade ago. Everyone I know who has a system likes it, especially on Whidbey Island where power outages are common. Even in winter, or during a late autumn storm like the one passing by as I type, it is possible to generate power. But all of those systems rely on opaque panels usually mounted on a roof or out in a field.

Solarwindow uses a technology that uses transparent materials called windows (radical innovation, windows are), to capture the sunlight. Instead of shiny (and possibly glaring) panels mounted on trusswork, a Solarwindow building might not look much different because they just look like windows. That’s appealing aesthetically, but also can keep land open and roofs clear of wind-catching obstructions. Besides, snow has to be brushed off panels but is less likely to stick to every window. While I am more interested in the story side about powering houses, the bigger economic benefit to the company could be office buildings which have much more surface area in glass than in roofing material.

Now, pardon me as I yet again copy and past the name of the other company. Ah. Electrameccanica. I think I’ll use their trading symbol, SOLO. Much easier to remember and spell.

Oh well, while the name is in the copy and paste buffer I’ll use it.

Electrameccanica is building and selling electric vehicles. This is a risky and adventurous time for any startup, that brief period when their products finally hit the market and reality measures whether enough people want what they are offering. Electrameccanica isn’t the only electric vehicle manufacturer, but the others have much higher market caps. I buy smaller companies so I can enjoy the ride as they reach those heights. Most are producing cars and trucks that are innovative, frequently with some tie to conventional chassis designs. Electrameccanica (still in the buffer) is willing to offer trikes, as well as sedans and work trucks. I find that encouraging because we’re experiencing a time when people by necessity are exploring new ways of living.

The surge in interest in electric bikes proves to me that people are already challenging old norms. The old convention involved using the family sedan that holds six as a way for one person to commute most days of the week. That will remain popular for many reasons, but the company may be profitable from those who to decide to swap out one car or replace it entirely with something more enclosed than a bicycle. The fact that the company is based on Vancouver BC is a great demonstration of using such a vehicle in a climate known for – well – messy weather making a mess of a person’s hair and clothes.

I encourage you to read the previous posts about the process that got me here. In it you can see how the decision could’ve resulted in picking other choices. Today was one of those that started with me slapping myself, but staying my course. I’d already sold NPTN and was going to buy WNDW and SOLO, but I caught a glimpse of some of the other candidates rising and falling – and teasing me and raising doubts about my decision.

There’s a central aspect of investing in stocks that I keep in mind, even if I rarely exercise it. Stocks are bought and sold every day. I bought something from Amazon the other day that I need to return. I can do so, but it is a hassle. If I decide to not own WNDW or SOLO, I can sell it much more readily. The price will have changed, but my ownership is easily shifted. There may be tax implications, but that’s a detail, not a lifetime commitment. I recall selling one stock that way and accidentally made a profit. Stock ownership is as much of a commitment as you want to make it. The stock doesn’t care.

A comment on one of the previous posts asked a good question about whether I’d researched this or that aspect of the companies. I hadn’t. There’s a middle ground between total guesswork and researching every employee, building, competitor, customer, et al. I do enough research to differentiate between the various stocks, buy, and not stop learning. Owning shares of a company makes it much easier to find the motivation to answer those deeper questions as press releases are released, discussions are held on discussion boards, and tweets go flying by. I look forward to attending stockholders meetings again because I’ve learned a lot by sitting in the back of the room and watching the finance types, the other board members, employees, and particularly the other shareholders as they react to the CEO’s and BOD’s comments. I can try to do so before buying, but trying to do that with a dozen companies can be a full-time job. My style of investing tries to do enough without doing too much.

The title of my book is Dream. Invest. Live. That was a purposeful choice. Dream – and not just about stocks. Live – because that’s how we know we’re alive. Investing just happens to be in the middle providing one, but not the only, bridge to get from dream dreams to living them.

December is only hours away. At the end of the year I will compile my semi-annual portfolio review. This year will have one less entry and two new ones. I don’t expect to do much more than watch the news on my stocks in the meantime. There’s a life to live, and that is more valuable than any portfolio.

Of course in this society values are a bit askew, which is why I invest, and work, and encourage you to buy my books! (Pardon the shameless self-promotion, but I do it so rarely that I hope you don’t mind.)

Now, to post this then rescue my three-foot tall Christmas tree that is sitting in its stand outside in the wind.

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Soup Stock Versus Company Stock

It’s the Friday after Thanksgiving as I type this. (Apologies to those reading from the future.) Many things are on my mind, but on such a day two things dominate – besides the occasional burp. The bird is cooked, so it is time to enjoy the stock and the leftovers. I have a decision to make about my NPTN stock, which I want to act on early next week. Rather that write two posts, I’ve decided to write one and see how much those topics have in common. 


Let’s start with the culinary side because foodies might not want to wade through financial stuff, while I don’t mind making the financial types deal with having patience. 

As I write that I already see a similarity. One tool for good cooking is patience. The key to my investing strategy is the long term, as in Long Term Buy and Hold. Time doesn’t guarantee success in either case, but used wisely time can enable tasty benefits.

More apologies, this time to the foodies. Despite enjoying cooking a feast, I prefer to concentrate on the food, not the photos. I guess that ruins my chances of a YouTube cooking channel – unless someone else wants to hold the camera. 

There’s a turkey shortage? Fine. I bought a capon. Basically it is a chicken, but it is a castrated rooster, so the distinction was probably significant to that bird. I was only cooking for one, so didn’t want a full-sized turkey. It was just the right size to not overwhelm me with leftovers, but also distinct enough in size and taste that it felt more special than just cooking a chicken. Ironically, in a ‘normal’ (Ha! at the concept of normal, anymore), in a normal year the big turkey would’ve been cheaper. 

I spatchcocked it, which is such a fun word that I won’t describe it fully so interested readers can research the term themselves. But, it is somewhat odd and unintended wordplay to spatchcock a castrated chicken. 

I put the bird on a cooking rack over a roasting pan which held the giblets, various herbs, some water, spices, and the peelings from the veggies. This way the chicken juices were already seasoning the ingredients that would end up in the stock. (See, I’m getting to the stock.)

Stuffing and spatchcock (I wonder what will happen to my search results from using that word so much.) those two don’t go together, but I made a wild rice dressing with mushrooms, walnuts, and a slice of orange left over from breakfast.

Veggie dish number one was asparagus with slivered carrots and almonds, sliced onions, garlic, and herbs I picked in the garden. All of that was booked in a cast iron skillet with oil to start and butter to finish.

Veggie-ish dish number two was an experiment in mashed potatoes, but with a yam that had been grated instead of cubed. Which turned into a soup because I added too much milk, so I added cheese and an egg and hoped something would thicken it up. 

Cook. Clean. Wait. Serve. Burp. Clean some more.

Then, 

Take the roasted drippings, add the carcass, more water, and put back into the oven at low temperature for several hours. Because I cooked for a noon meal, partly from tradition, partly from a desire to cook before a storm took out the power, that meant I had fresh stock just in time to make several servings of a lentil soup with some of the leftovers for dinner. I also froze three batches of stock for future soups and sauces, and seven (7) seven! servings of the soup. 

Is Thanksgiving pricey? Maybe, but count the meals: 1) the main dinner, 2) supper that night, 3) seven servings of soup (sounds like a verse in a Christmas song), 4) and three batches of stock each of which typically makes five more servings of whatever it eventually becomes. 

As I said above, burp.

Also, welcome to a packed freezer, which might also be likely to stay frozen when the power goes out because that’s a lot of thermal mass working in my favor.

Spend just enough, be creative, use it well, and the benefits greatly exceed the cost – at least for me.

Allow me to shift topics but repeat that line.

Spend just enough, be creative, use it well, and the benefits greatly exceed the cost – at least for me.

I’ve been chronicling my response to one of my stocks being bought out: NPTN, NeoPhotonics. Check the two previous posts for that story. Usually when a large company buys out one of my stocks, which tend to be from small companies, I sell, shop around, and buy something that fits my portfolio. 

In the world of investing, while some are looking for big turkeys (MSFT, AAPL), I am looking for overlooked offerings that may be more valuable than many suspect (a capon).

It’s ‘Black Friday’, a day which deserves to be renamed. While tens of millions are shopping in the mall or online (my stores: books on amazon, photo essays on blurb, photos on FineArtAmerica, and merch on Zazzle) I am spending time researching companies that I may want to spend money on. 

The short list:

  • WNDW – SolarWindow Technologies Inc
  • AMSC – American Superconductor Corp
  • FTCI – FTC Solar Inc
  • HTOO – Fusion Fuel Green PLC
  • KULR – KULR Technology Group Inc
  • SUNW – Sunworks Inc
  • SOLO – ElectraMeccanica

Let’s meet the competitors.

Solar Window Technologies

What I like about them: 

Solar cells built into windows? Cool. Many solar panels are installed on the roof. For multi-story buildings, though, there’s more square footage on the sunny windows than on the roof. Even if the efficiency isn’t as great, a solar cell that is a window can be multiplied across the sunny side of the building. Solar panels are frequently built as a structure on top of the structure. They advertise potential applications for vehicles, too. The one I like that could be profitable for farmers is solar panels on greenhouses, an extra source of income for farmers.

What I wonder about them:

They have a MVIS/GERN style history, been around for decades, looks like the market has caught up with them, but where and when are the profits?

As for the investment community, the only traffic on reddit was during that spike, which is also MVIS-esque.

Google Finance

American Superconductor

Hey, I know this one. I had it for many years. Check out my blog’s tag for that history.

What I like about them: 

They hit many of my key criteria: 

Innovative superconductor technology, 

Could disrupt an entrenched and archaic industry

Positive product that enhances the efficiency of our aging electricity infrastructure 

I don’t know if they continue to use their catchphrase, but at one time they claimed to ‘do for electricity transmission what fiber optics did for information communications’ (paraphrased). Cool.

I also like(d) the project they were working on that would’ve connected all three US power grids, which is what was intended to help in situations like Texas’ problems last winter; but that fell to the side.

What I wonder about them:

They got knocked down by intellectual property theft that wasn’t their fault, from what I can tell; but they haven’t seemed to recover. In the meantime, I wonder if other technologies like graphene will overtake them without the need for cryogenic systems.

FTC Solar

Hmm. Couldn’t find out what FTC stood for, and doing searches on it can lead to Federal Trade Commission.

What I like about them: 

They intend to improve solar tracking systems, evidently for the large solar farms where even a small improvement in efficiency had have large positive effects.

They are international.

They are making money, well, revenue; but are close to breakeven at a glance.

What I wonder about them:

What does FTC stand for? Why not spell that out? Do they think it doesn’t matter, is answered somewhere else, or have they not noticed what their public presence looks like?

Their market is a niche, but it may be a very large niche. But, is there a battle between consumers installing solar on-site versus tapping into a grid-enabled solution? #NotRhetorical, but I haven’t researched that industry.

I couldn’t find any independent coverage, and wonder if that’s because, well, I just wonder about that. Could be a positive or a negative or null.

Fusion Fuel Green

Name looks like someone had a bunch of words on cards and matched them up until it sounded eco- enough.

What I like about them: 

Hydrogen is a great energy source, but has been hard to handle and has required a lot of energy to produce. If they’ve found a way to economically and environmentally use solar power to power hydrolysis to extract hydrogen – wow! Ah, they’re using solar photovoltaics plus the thermal by-product for extra energy and efficiency.

Hydrogen is also an energy storage potential, and energy storage is lagging renewable energy production. Nice bonus.

What I wonder about them:

They’re based in Ireland, which is fine and an island I want to walk around (see my book Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland), but I am hesitant to work with non-US companies because politics, taxes, and currency fluctuations can make it more difficult to track the finances.

They use the word ‘Fusion’, yet no fusion is involved, from what I can tell. Just a catchy word, or purposely misleading, or do they have some really-stellar ideas in mind?

KULR Technology Group

KULR, cooler? or just a coincidence?

What I like about them: 

Mars! Evidently they are associated with the rovers. Nicely done.

They are a cooler company, or at least a cooler technology. High-end batteries can only deliver the power if they don’t overheat. KULR helps with heat management. That has potential to be an overlooked company that provides enabling materials and systems to the backend. They might not be noticed because they aren’t sold to consumers directly, but pervasive if they are accepted as necessary to the industry.

What I wonder about them:

They are aiming at extraordinarily large markets measured in trillions of dollars, but I didn’t find a mention of their slice of the sub-market that will deal with.

Not bad, but more research is required for me.

Sunworks

What I like about them: 

Total solar system installation. Simple idea. Someone has to install the big and the little systems. Looks like the markets Real Goods Solar was aimed at back when I had that stock – right until they left the stock market on a sad note.

What I wonder about them:

Someone Really Liked them, then didn’t. Why?

Thanks to subsidies, solar systems are being readily adopted. Subsidies, however, vary from state to state, which must make it difficult to manage a business that is in several states, but not necessarily everywhere. I’m glad I don’t have that job.

Google Finance

ElectraMeccanica

What I like about them: 

Electric vehicles, great!

Innovative trikes, like.

Smart enough to also have four wheeled variants.

Hitting a range of price targets. Good.

Only in business for a while (2017) yet starting deliveries.

What I wonder about them:

They’re based in BC, which I almost moved to and should’ve when I had the chance. Alas. But see my comments about holding non-US stocks from inside the US. Of course, if BC and WA state combine = score!

Trikes are innovative, and I could see having one if I had to commute within suburbia or the city. Will they finally be accepted? Will they be challenged by e-bikes or win out because the driver isn’t exposed to the elements but also not constrained by narrow streets and parking spaces?


Whew. I need a drink. And that took long enough that it is time to reheat leftovers for dinner. A pause while I pour, heat, and return.

OK. Food in the oven, slowly warming. Beer from the local brewpub poured and beside me. Sip.


Allow me to summarize the company stock stuff, because I need to at some level.

The short list:

  • WNDW – SolarWindow Technologies Inc
    • I like the idea, especially if it is a way to incorporate energy production into architecture reliably. Vehicles are a bonus.
  • AMSC – American Superconductor Corp
    • Been there. Nice to see them surviving. But even without the IP theft, I expected them to recover stronger. 
  • FTCI – FTC Solar Inc
    • Tracking systems may not have a barrier to entry that will distance them from competition.
  • HTOO – Fusion Fuel Green PLC
    • Worth watching because of energy storage. I will admit to some reluctance because of the safety issues I encountered when designing and participating n rocket launches. Hydrogen is powerful – and requires caution. Can it be handled by so many in so many situations and be safe? 
  • KULR – KULR Technology Group Inc
    • For me they are too arcane and too reliant on existing battery technology, I think.
  • SUNW – Sunworks Inc
    • Been there with Real Goods Solar. Maybe they’ll make it work. But again, where’s the barrier to entry?
  • SOLO – ElectraMeccanica
    • Cute. That alone may sell it. There are so many electric vehicle innovators being tested in the market that some will surprise the mainstream. Tesla’s already done that, and they may have already won; but the electric bicycle market is also proving that other solutions are being adopted. 

Hmm. It’s come down to two, and maybe both: SolarWindows, and ElectraMeccanica. Interesting enough, imagine an office building producing power that charges employees’ trikes.


Stock shouldn’t be cooked too long. the pot or the brain can take too much scrubbing to clean afterwards. 

To some, either is too much effort. For me, each took less time than watching a football game, and has the potential to create something appealing and lasting that can improve my life. I can’t say the same about spectator sports. My freezer is full. I’ll let my financial stock ingredients simmer for the weekend, and serve up something after the market opens. One advantage of a portfolio over a freeze, there’s always room for more in a portfolio – no burping required.

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