What Happened To WNDW

FAQ: How do you decided what to write about? (See the graph below.)

Google Finance

That was not a good morning, but it woke me up! How could I not write about that?

Down more than 98% in minutes. How the…? What the…? So goes life investing in tiny companies, regardless of how big their ideas are.

I have a small holding (and tiny by the end of the day); so, I checked the news, social media, stock discussion groups, and even my emails. Hey, I know that companies rarely ever tell their owners what is happening with the company, and even more rarely with the stock; but maybe this time… No.

You may notice that a lot of this story involves ‘…’ because sometimes there are no words.

Scenarios filtered through my thoughts. I’ve investing since circa 1978. I’ve seen stuff.

  • Was the company revealed to be a scam?
  • Did they found a critical and fatal flaw in the product?
  • Did someone embezzle everything?
  • Did a bank-crash crash the company?
  • Was it a glitch in the trading system?
  • Was it stock manipulation?
  • Was it a flash-crash on purpose?
  • Was it…

No news. At $0.02 per share there wasn’t much more to lose, so, keep it, just in case of …(?).

Life happens. I’ve been busy enough. I spent yesterday waiting on two phone calls, neither of which had anything to do with stocks. No calls. Today, the weather is gorgeous. Blue skies and the mountains still have white snow. I’ll go skiing, instead. (Cross-country skiing has been the best therapy for my balky balky knee.)

Get home after market close. See this chart.

Google Finance

Up over 730%! That’s a new record, for me!

Of course, down 98% then up 737% kind of just confuses things. Looked at in the longer term…

Google Finance

WNDW closed at $0.67, down from five days ago at over $1.20. Down 47% in a week isn’t good, but after witnessing 98%, let’s just say that is negotiable.

Go back a year.

Google Finance

Look at the last year. The stock is down 75%. But the stock hasn’t had a slow, smooth decline. Small stocks get bouncy. The average volume is only 39K shares. Smooth out the price to $1.00 and the daily volume is less than the price of a new car. If the company succeeds that volume (and market cap) will probably be higher.

Finally, news. SolarWindow Update on Market Transaction Restrictions in the Company’s Stock Pending Filing of Forms 10-K and 10-Q

…the management of the Korean Subsidiary, have failed to deliver the requested documentation and information, including, but not limited to such basic information as the Korean Subsidiary’s monthly banking statements.

This isn’t new, though it is news to me.

…these repeated requests beginning in May 2022…

The company has been trying to contact the company (one side not helping the other) for months.

Troubling? Yes, but it is not about the technology or the product. One small group of individuals are avoiding an audit of the “Korean Subsidiary” for unspecified reasons, from what I can tell.

Maybe this collapses the company. Maybe not. They have a plan in place with government representatives to switch management back to the responsible and responsive people, from what I can tell.

If someone wants a measure of my risk tolerance, or naivete, here it is. Fundamentally, they still have an idea that I think has great potential. If they eventually succeed, great. If they get bought out and my shares transfer to the other company, fine. But they can also go under.

Look back at the list of possible causes. Someone deciding to not file the right paperwork at the right time was not on the list. Maybe this is knowable for an investor who is dedicated to one stock, and who can notice every filing in every country, and also notice what wasn’t filed. For an independent investor like me, I know I can’t know everything. This is why WNDW is one of my two smallest holdings.

So, I hold. The rest of life is also important, too. I’m still waiting on those two phone calls. I got some skiing in. And it is time to make dinner before writing some more of my next sci-fi novel. There are things to do.

But for the price of the commute to and from skiing, I could’ve picked up sooo many shares.

Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. Nah. I’m glad I went skiing.

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LUNR – One Company One Story

Intuitive Machines (LUNR) – One Company One Story

Welcome to another story and another video in my One Company One Story series.
This time, Intuitive Machines (aka LUNR).

Here comes the amateur legalese.

I began investing in companies and their stocks in the late 70s, but am not a certified investment professional.

My style and history of investing is described in Dream. Invest. Live., a book I wrote by request – which came out as the Great Recession (the Second Great Depression) began. Bad timing, eh?

I am not investment professional. This is not financial advice. 

This time it is about Intuitive Machines which sounds more an AI or robotics company, but may be hinted at better by its trading symbol, LUNR (LUNaR, get it?) They’re doing moon stuff, and more. They are offering many of the services necessary for lunar exploration: transportation (after launch), Earth-based space communications, Moon-centered communications, a hopping rover, and more.

Without getting all geeky (and producing animations I’d botch), the process is something like: get launched (Space-X), then LUNR’s vehicle gets the lunar vehicle into lunar orbit, their lander lands and can contain a rover that hops around as a way to deliver sensors and such to the landing site. (I still like the idea of an orbital transfer vehicle, especially one that could be refueled and reused. Cool.) 

Fifty years ago, this idea would seem like a natural, building the infrastructure to get to and work on the Moon, and in space. (Personal note: About forty-five years ago, I started my career with a degree in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering. Space was going to be the future! Public opinion, however, was swayed by near-term appeals. Budgets shrunk. Long-term ideas were shelved. A few years in Boeing Commercial Space led nowhere. So much for that career.) Twenty years ago-ish, Space X announced audacious plans. They weren’t the only ones, but commercial space became a possibility. Now, at least according to NASA, 

The Intuitive Machines 1 (IM-1, TO2-IM) mission objective is to place a lander, called Nova-C, on the crater rim of Malapert A near the south pole of the Moon. The commercially built lander will carry five NASA payloads and commercial cargo. Launch is currently scheduled for June 2023.” – NASA

That’s only months away (as I type.) Rather than deadlines measured in years (or decades), they are a public company with NASA as a partner/customer.

This is a good example of the early commercialization of space. It is starting with NASA contracts; which is more civil than commercial. That’s frequently the way such things begin. It can be possible to be profitable and sustainable to work on civil contracts; but I will be hoping for true commercialization which will be business-to-business. 

They are attempting something complex and impressive. But then, Space-X’s idea of recovering and reusing rocket stages seemed audacious. Now, it is taken for granted. Practice brings public complacency, which is a sign of public acceptance. I don’t know if they’ll succeed, but this is the nature of early (ignoring fifty years of waiting) technology. In the realm of investing, it is also an example of risk and reward.

They are also attempting the parts that are simplified (relatively) but not having to deal with Earth’s gravity or an atmosphere. Space is still difficult, but simple design choices can simplify their tasks.

The stock’s ride has been wild. With barely any history of trading it has already had a >250% day. Since then, the stock has come back down. Rocket analogies are allowed.

Google Finance

I cheer on those who are making the company happen. I’ll enjoy staying tuned to this story.

The video:

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A Bit Of My Investing Process

Rats. Where’d that post go? I guess I’ll just have to paraphrase from memory. Expect inaccuracies. A few months ago someone online asked me if I have any ideas about which stocks will have explosive growth soon. They probably didn’t expect an answer, but we had a nice typed chat. Today, Lineage Cell Therapeutics announced earnings. No explosion, yet. It is in my portfolio. Outside my portfolio I do have a list. One of those stocks was up over 80% for a while, today. Is that explosive enough?

I won’t go into the details of my process. That’s why I wrote a book, Dream. Invest. Live. One friend half-jokingly summarized it as a ‘get rich slowly’ approach. My short version is that I look for small, simple, undervalued companies; buy their stock when they are overlooked and cheap; hang on as long as I think reasonable; and sell when the value climbs enough or dives down too far. 

For investing types, I usually screen for market cap < $2B, and frequently hold for years, sometimes decades (GERN, MVIS). I am attracted to innovative companies in markets with an unmet need, that have solutions that are positive financially and socially.

This blog contains the details of how my diversified portfolio of about a dozen stocks has reduced to five; but the short version is what I described in my Semi-Annual Portfolio exercise and review. Even shorter: GERN, LCTX, MVIS, SOLO, WNDW. 

No explosion today, and I rarely expect an explosion. I actually prefer stocks that start undervalued, may languish for a long time while the company progresses, then take months or a few years to steadily find a favorable stock valuation. Recently, it looked like MVIS had met those criteria as the stock went from $0.15 to almost $30.00 within a few months. I didn’t sell because I estimated it could quickly go much higher – based on assumptions that proved invalid. So it goes.

Google Finance

Note, my decision was based on the possible value of the company, not based on some percentage of the stock price. I haven’t repeated that analysis; but that story will probably be updated some time this year.

Lineage Cell Therapeutics is a biotech that I recently summarized as;
“…some of their proposed treatments is that they’re using stem cells (pluripotent cells?) to regrow tissues in the eye to treat Dry Eye Macular Degeneration (another long word) and regrow nerves in accident victims.” 

Successfully treating either of those conditions is something I consider very positive, and hence, potentially profitable.

Today’s earnings news was fine and within expectations. It was not explosive (a word I’m stuck on today since that person replying to my post used it.) The languishing continues, at least within the investment community. Within the company and the technical realm, it looks good to me. Keep up the good work, and good luck making a treatment that is effective, efficient, safe, and that hard-to-hit balance – affordable and sufficiently profitable.

Maybe next year.

I do, however, maintain a list of candidate companies, and a shorter list of stocks. About half the companies I follow are private, so, no stock. I can still cheer them on.

Let’s skip the suspence. This graphic holds the list.

Google Finance

Look about two-thirds of the way down and notice LUNR with a momentary one-day increase of over 80%. Looks like it was a nice one to have on my other list. Oh, well. That’s the benefit of a diversified portfolio, which I miss.

Ironically, using the term explosive is apt but maybe not desirable. It has a lunar program. Yes, out of this world; so, rockets are involved, but hopefully explosions aren’t.

There is no grand secret to creating such a list. I read. I listen. I watch. Articles, the radio (old school), and videos about topics that interest me also provide a list of innovators and innovations from entrepreneurs. If Boeing, or Pfizer, or AT&T have a solution, great, but they’re not going on the list. Adding an extra $1B to Boeing’s profits would be welcome and could nudge the stock, but add $0.1B to MicroVision and be entertained with the resulting enthusiasm – and a rapid and energetic expansion of their valuation, almost explosive, possibly.

There is no grand conclusion to this post. Sorry I wrote this with that news delayed so far. But, for me, my personal finances involve lots of possibilities and patience. LCTX announced earnings (or not), today. Progress is made. I already have shares. I’d like to have more, but I have about as much as I can afford. I also only spend as much time as I can afford. I don’t try to time those explosive moments. Getting in early means they can catch up to me, rather than me trying to catch them.

I follow my curiosity, take notes, as resources and conditions I may buy or sell but mostly hold, and wait, and wait. Most sentences after a line like that are waffle-worded: maybe, could, possibly, hopefully. Within my personal finance history of over 40 years, I’ve had enough mornings when I’ve woken up to a surprise announcement that the company reached a new level and their stock was rising 40% (several), 140% (a few), or 240% (one). These things haven’t happened sustainably recently; but I know they have happened, no maybes about it. I suspect (waffle word) they will again.

You are a different person, so your personal finances are different. I wish you well. I also hope that this very long answer to a long-ago question helps someone. Now, who were they…?

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Wait For The Answer

“Why would you do such a thing?” That is a question that is too frequently followed by quick advice. The advice may come from good intentions, and the answer makes sense to the person who asked the question. But does it make sense to the person who was asked? Wait for the answer, first. There might be a lesson in there, somewhere.

I live in a 1964 house. It is sweet. It is only 868 square feet. It is the only place I’ve really called home since growing up. It has a view of the Olympic Mountains. On misty days the views may stop at the Kitsap Peninsula, or Puget Sound. On rainy days the views may barely reach across Cultus Bay. On foggy enough days the views may only reach to the end of my driveway. Even the minimalist days have views better than any other house I’ve owned.


It is a 1964 house. It could suck up tens of thousands of dollars in style upgrades. Some of the appliances are that old. Same with the windows. There’s more. There are also mysteries. Was it originally heated by a woodstove and nothing else? Maybe that’s why the floor changes between the kitchen and living room. Was the carport and utility room added on? They’re three steps down and can’t be accessed without going outside. Why is there a pipe for a downspout in the ground along the middle of the back wall? Was it really that short of a house originally, or did they abandon some grander plan?

I can ask, but I can’t expect answers. It is easier to shrug and assume they had an idea that was good, or maybe even necessary, at the time.

I run across the same question with my books and photos. Why no page numbers in some of them? Why was that photo cropped the way it was? Of course, it is easy to insert page numbers – for some. It is obvious that cropping this part out or in would be easy to do. How could I not do that?

I no longer jump to an answer, when asked, usually. Pause. They may only be catching their breath before delivering advice. After they deliver it I frequently find that the question had implicit assumptions baked in from the questioner’s viewpoint. Frequently their advice is correct – for that set of assumptions. I might have a different set. Each of us can have our own assumptions.

MicroVision (see? I managed to allude to MVIS) announced earnings. I was glad and honored to be asked by a few folks for my opinion about the company. Another quarter without substantial earnings (or not at all.) How could they do such a thing over decades since they incorporated? Surely, something must be imminent, or it is a scam, or they’ve just had bad luck, or, or, or… I don’t know. I do know that corporate management can be limited by NDAs, contracts, competitive sensitivities, or security clearances. Or, management may not want to reveal some fundamental flow which has undermined every attempt at successful and profitable implementation.

Infrequently I hear the practical possibility that the company has been successful when viewed from the perspective of employees and managers who have received salaries, managed to buy houses, send kids to college, and basically lived lives for years. There is a value that may never financially benefit the shareholders (aka owners), but it is a value on a humanitarian level. Whether that was done consciously, ethically, or correctly is something others can debate.

How could they have abandoned interactive eyewear years ago? How could they not sell portable projectors profitably? How could they not make money with Microsoft as a partner and customer? How can they be taking so long with LiDAR sensors for vehicles and homes? How? How? How?

I don’t know. The sad point is that getting useful, reliable answers out of any corporation is difficult. Sometimes the only way is to wait for success, at which point more truth may come out. 

Getting answers out of individuals is easier, but it can take a while to wait for the answer.

I wonder why the painter painted it that way? I bet… – Maybe they ran out of blue.
I wonder why the sculptor didn’t include this? I bet… – Maybe because a sculpture has to balance.
I wonder why, I wonder why, I wonder why.

I help produce a podcast about writing on Whidbey Island. It has the oh-so-fancy name of WritingOnWhidbeyIsland.com. Innovative, eh? It is a good forum for me to practice waiting and listening. The answers are frequently things like kids, pets, jobs, relationships, not the proper use of semi-colons or page margins. Rather than some Style Guide, time and money are equally likely to drive an artist to a solution.

Page numbers? Page numbers are preferred, but errors in page numbers can be even worse, and errors happen. (Don’t ask. It was a mess. Fixing it cost too much in time and stress.)

Cropped photos? I’ll frame a photo to purposely hide a defect in my camera’s lens. I may not get rid of it, but I can try to hide it.

Time? For a variety of reasons, every book I’ve written has had time pressures, a reason to sacrifice style guidelines for deadlines.

Money? Lots of things can be improved with professional help, but professionals rightly expect to get paid. Nothing to pay with? Hope to use the professionals next time.

How could people I know think a certain way? I don’t know. But I hope I am not going to ask unless I have the time and patience to listen to the answer.

I’m still curious about why the fence was built without nailing in the rest of the nails.

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RRGB – One Company One Story

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB) – One Company One Story

Welcome to another story and another video in my One Company One Story series.
This time, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.

Here comes the amateur legalese.

I began investing in companies and their stocks in the late 70s, but am not a certified investment professional.

My style and history of investing is described in Dream. Invest. Live., a book I wrote by request – which came out as the Great Recession (the Second Great Depression) began. Bad timing, eh? https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0035XVXAA

My personal finance blog (a blog about my finances) is: https://trimbathcreative.net/

I am not investment professional. This is not financial advice. 

This time it is about Red Robin, or more fully, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (aka RRGB). 

Imagine a small place in Seattle a few decades ago serving something that everyone considered to be something simple and every day. They get known. They grow. They become an international phenomena. It worked for coffee and Starbucks. Why wouldn’t it work for burgers and Red Robin? It did and it didn’t, at least when comparing the crimson bird to the green lady.

Red Robin has not been as successful as Starbucks, but the company does have over 500 restaurants. 

Disclosure: I bought and sold my stock in RRGB about a decade ago. See that history at the link: https://trimbathcreative.net/?s=RRGB).

The idea is basic and simple: provide a place that is nicer than MacDonald’s, can serve drinks, but also is a good place for kids. If you dined there you may have heard their own Happy Birthday song. Birthday cakes and beer. Something for everyone.

I was impressed with the restaurants. They weren’t my style, but they were a better fit than most. Their mix of comfort food and clean casual dining was good for families, but also for informal business lunches. I like casual. I prefer to eat in quiet places, so I am more likely to go for a picnic than to be surrounded by sports broadcasts or amped music; but I invest in stocks based on what other people want. Evidently, people wanted burgers. OK. I’ll buy. 

The problem with simple business models is that they are easier to duplicate. I think Starbucks got such a head start because the investment community enjoyed laughing at it; then, no one could catch up. Burger joints are more expensive to start and operate, and easier to replicate.

I still like them, but haven’t eaten at one for years – and even then, someone paid for my meal. I moved to an island, so going to Red Robin involves a boat ride. Inconvenient, but living here is quiet.

A pandemic didn’t help, but even before then annual revenues were trailing down, not up. The uneven growth might explain the uneven stock price. Now, as people expect home delivery and some are protecting themselves by staying out of unmasked areas like restaurants, Red Robin continues to have challenges. Labor and food shortages as costs climb can’t help.

I’ll continue to cheer them on, but not as an investor and from a distance – unless I visit a mall, which I haven’t done this decade.

The video:

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Super Bowl Ads 2023

Disclosure: This year’s review is possibly the snarkiest. That’s just my honest reaction.

Well, that was a pile of nothing much. Since 2015 (and maybe earlier), I’ve carved out some time to watch and comment on many of the Super Bowl ads. I don’t watch the game. The story of why I don’t watch sports (except for curling) goes back to 1982, which I won’t go into here; but why watch someone else sweat when I can do that myself? I watch the ads for investment ideas, and what an unrepresentative collection of corporations and organizations think will appeal to an enormous crowd. Some years and ads are memorable. This year? Let’s take a look at what I saw.

Thanks to AdBlitz’s YouTube channel for lining up over seventy ads. That wasn’t all of them, but I’m watching for general trends, not for the best or worst. 

Memorable Or Not

I watched the ads on Monday morning; my version of Monday morning quarterbacking? I’m writing this after lunch. Only one ad stands out, and that was because an article said it was the best. That was the Amazon ad about the family pet being left alone, so they got it a pet. That doesn’t seem epic. It was cute, eventually; but, I was curious about what happened afterwards. Did the two get along? Did the puppy distract the adult dog or did the adult dog teach the puppy how to destroy the house? This was about Amazon.com? I saw it as a family that didn’t have room for the pet they put into their lives, and hired a stand-in. A shruggable moment.


Take away the celebrities (nice folks, I am sure – mostly) and the majority of the content implodes. The celebrities were celebrating themselves to the point that the companies were lost, to me. Even the Bic lighter ad that included Martha Stewart had a lost reference until I remembered the candle being lit. My first recollection was that it might have been a marijuana ad.


Either the word ‘power’ was used or someone used a thesaurus first. You have the power – to use our product. Our product will give you power. See how powerful this is? There was a football game involved so that fits?

Electric Vehicles

These cars are POWERFUL, oh yeah, and they’re zero emissions (sort of). But look at the celebrities.


Taxes, credit scores, cash back offers… At least there were some frugality-minded products like ThriftBooks, and they are there to make sure you can have it all. Yay and cringe at the same time. As for generating income, were there any Jobs.com, Monster.com, LinkedIn.com ads?


There were more ads for golfing than any other sport – and that may include football. Has golfing become the sport for everyone, or is it somehow the safest one to show? Weird.


Oddly enough, several ads included collaborations or fake competitions, or was if competitions and fake collaborations, involving companies that could each afford their own ads. Not sure why, and left the ad needing no reason to know more about any of them

Perennials Or Not

I missed any iconic Budweiser ad, but thought the E*Trade ad was welcome (and didn’t come to mind until now.) If any others pop up, I’ll write them in. Old Spice, good but I’ve already forgotten about it except for a flash memory of a hairy armpit.

Snacks And Drinks

There were snacks and drinks, but far less than usual, and definitely not memorable.


Movie and ‘TV’ ads are usually spoilers for me, but they make less sense now because most of them are behind firewalls. I only use one streaming service, and that’s because it comes with free shipping; or is it the free shipping I find valuable and the streaming service is a bonus? One conflict of interest: I sell my books on Amazon. Another bit of news: I just bought a $15 VCR/DVD player at the thrift store so many of my movies have a background soundtrack of whirring tape drives or spinning disks. Be kind. Rewind.


Cruise ships, et al. Get away. You deserve this, if you can afford this.


Artificial intelligence was mentioned, but considering what has happened recently with ChatGPT (sp?) I was surprised there wasn’t more mention than the SquareSpace.com web builder ad. Next year? How many will be created that way? At least Crowdstrike mentioned something relevant in an entertaining way, preventing Trojan Horses.


Phones are about instant gratification and cameras. Quality of providing a reliable means of communication? That would be retro. Well, I’m old. 


Shoot ’em up is still the goal, unless swords or magic are the tools of choice. Whatever happened to SimCity? Minecraft? Construction rather than destruction?


Thank you, Grainger, for showing an ad about the real world of work. But, was this a Super Bowl ad, or ad inserted amongst the other ads, simply because it was YouTube?


Do the math. Most ads are about a minute. It takes time to take notes. There were 79 ads. Watching and writing took me more than two hours. Millions of dollars were spent on those ads. At times like this it is obvious that the ad business is still busy, and probably lucrative. 

And yet, they left very little impression on me. They weren’t aimed at me. I’m frugal. I’m a minimalist. I see an over-abundance of wealth trying to accumulate more wealth and hiring wealthy people to sell the idea who are going to give up what wealth they ave, whether they truly have it or not. That is not my world, but I live in – or at least beside – it.

And it wasn’t even very entertaining this year. None choked me up. None brought a hint of a tear. None made me laugh or applaud or both, as some have some years. 

As I wrote above; “I watch the ads for investment ideas…” Not this year, though I have a long list of companies to possibly avoid because I am convinced that 2024 is going to be radically different. 

At least Crown Royal gets points for celebrating Canada. Hmm. Will Canada rule the world in 2024? Now there’s an idea worth advertising.

The ads as presented by AdBlitz, as they scrolled by on my screen. Here are my notes. I have several questions.

  • Booking.com – travel, booking from bed, Because go from lounging to vacationing?
  • Hyundai – Kevin Bacon, EV Dad jokes, While playing with lights rather than what the car can do. Mail is retro.
  • Snapchat – hallucinations, so I moved on, Maybe mushrooms will be legal next year?
  • T-Mobile – celebs singing about fiber, underutilized, not convinced, As if the celebrities can’t afford high-speed internet unless it costs $50/month?
  • Google/Pixel – photos more than phone, erase imperfections, because unreal images are more important than real conversations? 
  • Rakuten – cash back – fast fashion, unnecessary, age issues
  • Takis – food, hallucinations, again?
  • T-Mobile – Bradley Cooper – 5G, family, Is that Mom drunk?
  • Netflix – spoilers
  • Nissan – EV – north pole, electrify you, Irony? Talking about driving to the North Pole, which can require a boat because it is melting?
  • Skechers – celeb shoes, unrealistic football
  • Paramount – streaming
  • Bud Light – wait time – drink, dance, Cool, but drinking with a beer in hand rather than each other? Come to dance class, folks.
  • Busch – outdoors, basics, Sarah McGlaughin, Huh?
  • Marvel – spoilers
  • Amazon – family, dog, puppy love, See above.
  • ABC spoiler
  • PopCorners – popcorn, Breaking Bad, Popcorn and drugs. Odd enough?
  • Dead Space – shoot em up game, humanity ends
  • Hello Fresh – dinner, mindful, If that’s what it takes
  • Heinz – 57
  • Pizza Hut – big New Yorker, Because big is important, right?
  • Pepsi/Lays – loud
  • Squarespace – Singularity makes me interested, and confused, 2024?
  • Million Roses – Quantity is more important than the thought?
  • Bic EZ Reach – celebs – understated and effective and short
  • Dyson – hairdryer – short and good enough
  • NFL – flag football, parkour, women but not in the game, Radical notion not expressed: let women in the NFL.
  • Old Spice – antiperspirant – living up to ad expectations, almost
  • Uber One – singers, good if you are already familiar with Uber, And if Uber is anachronistic?
  • Pringles – stuck, doesn’t matter, Almost enough appeal.
  • Crowdstrike – Troy – cyber Trojan Horses, OK, but why this one and not that one?
  • Dunkin – Ben Affleck, but why?
  • ? –  launch your campaign (for what?) Oh, ads
  • ThriftBooks – we can have it all, Only if you are already making more than you spend, 
  • Michelob – golfing, retro, ?
  • Casper – mattress 6 degrees
  • Carnival Cruise – family
  • Transformers – spoilers
  • GM x Netlflix – EVs in movies
  • Flash – spoilers
  • Indiana Jones – spoilers
  • Netflix and Michelob – More golfing?
  • Dead Space – game
  • Budweiser – retrospective – you know the type – back to basics
  • Disney – celebrate our monopoly, And pay us to do that?
  • Pepsi – acting, Ben Stiller – Pepsi is real?
  • Apple Music – halftime, somehow compelling, cute, And already forgotten.
  • Pepsi – acting, Steve Martin – Fan of Steve, but I can barely remember the ad.
  • Remy Martin – football and champagne, winning, They can’t be serious?
  • E*Trade – kids, therefore cute, Thanks.
  • Tubi – watch something not football
  • Tubi – rabbit hole, kinda spooky, but don’t oversell yourself, you aren’t wikipedia 
  • Fast X – spoilers
  • Dialpad – sales goals – Good AI?
  • Grainger – who get it done, A real ad about an actually useful company? Radical.
  • Peacock/Poker Ace – spoiler
  • NBC/Magnum PI – spoiler
  • Oikos Yogurt – strong family showing off
  • Doritos – something new, triangles, who
  • DraftKings – betting, 
  • Experian – Happy Guy, raising FICA, singing
  • Sam Adams – Boston acting nice
  • TurboTax – dancer You can dance, taxes
  • Fabletics – do not – cheap clothes – celeb
  • FanDuel – kick – gambling
  • McDonalds – celeb relationships dating
  • Priceline – travel – prices
  • Gatorade – fast twitch
  • Nissan – EV – way to the top, power serenity
  • Nissan – EV – powerful and polish, you can have it all
  • Subway – celebs – greatest
  • Miller Lite / Coors / Blue Moon – martial arts
  • Cancer pledge – skip
  • Pluto TV – celeb, 
  • Hello Fresh – odd family meeting
  • Flowers.com – kiss-cam, friendship, 
  • Holland America – time of your life, live in the moment
  • H-E-B – ice cream, sauce?
  • Xfinity – moon landing, 5G, 10G
  • Crown Royal – Canada thanks
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For Want Of A Nut – A Zwilling Nut

For want of a nut a pair of poultry shears sat in my kitchen drawer. It had to live somewhere, and that had been its home, even though it was useless, now. But maybe they could be fixed. I didn’t fix it, but now I have a brand-new, shiny and sharp, set of shears from the company that made the first pair, Zwilling/Henckel. Nice upgrade. All it cost was asking a question.

I am not a foodie. I like cooking. If I have a day off and room in the freezer, I’ll probably roast something, cook something, bake something, make something. Cooking is cheap entertainment. The food still costs money, but food is a (mostly) unavoidable expense and a necessity. Besides, cooking at home can be much cheaper than eating in a restaurant. (Though some delis make appealing and competitive alternatives.)

I am not a foodie but I like watching cooking shows. I rarely make their recipes, but Alton Brown’s original shows were more about the practical basics. Watching old episodes of Julia Child give advice from my mother’s era and different set of sensibilities, useful and sometimes comical and sometimes examples of a culture we’ve left behind. Alton’s shows pointed out the value of having kitchen shears, really just hefty scissors; especially shears that could come apart so every part could be cleaned.

Years ago I treated myself to a proper pair of poultry shears because chicken was a cheap food option. Make a chicken, live alone, and have dinners and lunches for a week or two. Salads happen after the first dinner. Make stock from the chicken and have at least four more weeks of soups and homemade baked beans. Carving up a chicken without the right equipment could lead to poor cuts and pokes in me, rather than the chicken. And the chicken won’t look too good, either. The poultry shears were pricey, but appreciated.

But cleaning them. It was good to know that there were probably no chicken bits or fluids hiding in the pivot of the shears. Unscrew them. Pull them apart. Clean them up. Dry them off. Put them back together, ready for the next chicken (or turkey or duck) dinner. Don’t lose the nut and the bolt that holds it all together.

I pulled apart the shears, placed all the pieces in one sink to clean, then another to drain, then let them all dry. You already know what happened, and have probably known since the second paragraph. Sproing! Or did it? The big pieces were there, but where’d the nut and the bolt go? Of course this leads to the hands and knees scramble on the kitchen floor and under the cabinets and appliances. Rummaging through drawers that maybe they rolled into. Of course, nothing or there wouldn’t be this post. Or, down the sink drain because one of my sink drains is rusted open. (Not a surprise for a sixty-year-old sink.) Or, did I do too good of a job taking out the garbage can which had been sitting beside the counter? Shrug. Oops. 

Use what you got, and I used knives and cheaper regular shears, and almost cut myself too often. Money is tight. Health care is expensive. I need a new pair of shears.

No, I don’t. The shears are fine. I merely missed a nut and a bolt. Hello, hardware store.

People who work in hardware stores keep an amazing inventory in their heads. Unless I know exactly where something is, or just want to wander, I ask for help. The answer is usually something as accurate as; Aisle 5, about twenty feet back from the far end, just above the main shelf. Maybe I should’ve taken a video of the rare occurrence, the look of a perplexed employee. The bolt wasn’t a problem, but the nut was keyed, flattened on two sides to make the shears more secure when being used. About twenty minutes of nothing as three of us wandered one aisle filled with fasteners. Eventually, shrug.

Oh well. I tried.

It is such a silly little piece, but why not ask the company who made it? Maybe they have one of each in stock. I’d buy a pair or two, just to make sure. The company’s name was stamped on the metal. Go to the computer and search on the company, then their replacements, then actually contact them. Accept cookies, notice their social media accounts, prepare for bots then bureaucracy.

Cool. They actually have a way to contact them. I sent the description and the item number, and had low expectations.

They replied! Great. Oh. But that part doesn’t exist. Send back a photo of the shears and the stamped part number. Does that help?

A day or two later I get a call that looked like Spam. I actually answer Spam calls, occasionally. If you are in sales, it is a handy way to practice reverse cold calling. Thank you for the credit card offer. Can I interest you in one of my books? If you are interested in human nature, it is an opportunity to ask how they are doing. Are they getting paid enough, being treated well? If they’re paid by the call, I’ll hang up. If they’re paid by the hour and need a break, I give them that opportunity. 

This time it wasn’t Spam. It was a gentleman, someone who sounded like they weren’t reading from a script or under the vigilant eye and ears of an authoritarian supervisor. He sounded like a professional trying to resolve a situation. Evidently, I’d transposed numbers within the part number. The photo helped. He thanked me for my business – and my mind went to expecting the ‘but we don’t carry that part’ or it would cost something ridiculous. Instead he said they’d send me a new pair of shears. Did I hear that right? (And did I keep my response professional and reserved?) Yes, a new pair of shears. He apologized because it would take a few days for shipping. Apologized?

This I had to see to believe, and what else was there to do but wait.

Ta da! And you know that was going to happen. They showed up, as expected, packaged much more sanely than an Amazon shipment. Thank you Zwilling or Henckel or Henckels.

I feel like I went back to Julia Child’s era. 

The slightly embarrassing part is that my freezer is so full from my recent cooking day that I don’t have enough room to store an uncooked chicken or the pints of stock I’d made from the rest. I have these sweet, sharp, stainless steel shears to use, but my frugal self says it’s not in my meal plans for a few weeks. But I want to play, responsibly, of course.

I might even splurge and roast a chicken and – gasp – not save every scrap. Nah. Waste not, want not.

The joke about people who lived through the Great Depression was that they could have a labeled collection of “bits of string too small to use”. Now, it is acceptable to toss something because it has a blemish, or is the wrong color, or is missing a bolt. Maybe it is trivial, or not. Maybe that blemish ruined a sculpture. Maybe the wrong color is a really wrong color, like wearing red or blue in the wrong neighborhood. Maybe that bolt was holding something together that won’t be fixed – but maybe something broken gets replaced by something grander, not just a replacement, but a reminder that good things can happen. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

And I’m still hoping to find that nut and bolt.

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I Had A Plan

I had a plan. I had a plan to write about one thing based on What The F…, then I answered a Spam Call (I answer Spam Calls) that made me want to write about “Having Fun With Spammers, and then looked at my stocks and decided to switch to updating my Semi-Annual Portfolio Review because five little things have had a bigger effect than I realized. The spammers can wait.

Semi Annual Exercise EOY 2022
For those who have never encountered my semi-annual portfolio exercise I’ll quote myself.
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.

The full story is back there and then. Here we are, I am, and my portfolio is only about a month later, and an opportunity to make an observation that touches on What The F…, but in a good way.

Typical, common, whatever waffle word you want, long-term market performance is less than 10%. Atypical happens. Ask honest folks who bought and rode the Internet Bubble up. Ask honest folks who were caught in the crash at the start of the Great Recession (which I consider the Second Great Depression.) But, 5%-10%, and usually around 7% is the number I hear and read for portfolios based on publicly-traded stocks. 

Two of my stocks had good days, recently, so I decided to check on them, their performance since my portfolio exercise, and the rest of my stocks, too.

YTD stock performance

  • GERN 39.2%
  • LCTX 13.8%
  • MVIS 39.0%
  • SOLO 76.2%
  • WNDW 85.2%

LCTX is the laggard at 13.8%, and that’s in one month.

Are there reasons? Of course there are reasons. I wonder what they are.

  • GERN – Geron announced results for their cancer treatment based on telomeres. Governmental approval looks more likely, and hopefully soon.
  • LCTX – Lineage Cell announced news about their cell transplant therapy for improving the outcomes for spinal cord injury patients. It may not be as soon as GERN’s news, but maybe soon enough.
  • MVIS – MicroVision (pause for the groans) just purchased a company for $16M, which evidently comes with a client base, or at least a very promising set of technology, patents, and employees.
  • SOLO – Electrameccanica is up because… Hmm. One article says sell and another says buy, and maybe the stock is bouncy because no one truly knows how to estimate the business prospects of a three-wheeled electric vehicle which is either too bizarre to catch on, or the right kind of bizarre for some new market niche. Shrug.
  • WNDW – Solar Window is up because… Can I just do a Copy&Paste from SOLO and change it to read solar power from window panels?

These kinds of results look like reasons to celebrate! So why don’t I? 

Well, I do; but 100% of a small number is a small number. Repeat enough times and head towards infinity rather rapidly; but only towards, not all the way to. There is a limit to the wealth in the world.

This kind of performance can also be ephemeral. If it can go up that fast, it can go down that fast; and the money isn’t made until the stock is sold and the money clears the account.

I did splurge a little. It was much easier to have a very nice lunch with a very nice friend in one of my preferred restaurants and not have to fight over the bill, or avoid it. Besides, with friends, everything evens out, eventually. 

The basis for this blog is my book about my personal finances, Dream. Invest. Live. I am not a financial professional so I can not give advice, but I can tell stories about my life and how I live it. Hence, the broad range of topics on this blog. The key for me is in the title. Investing is merely a bridge between dreaming and living that dream. Living is much more important than Investing, and Dreaming is free.

Go back far enough and see the days when I, er, not me but my portfolio, gained on the order of $100K in a day. And the days when I also lost $100K. This has not been a risk-free strategy. One reader called it a get-rich-slowly strategy. I won’t know how this comes out, but the slowly has been too slow – and yet, the previous few weeks have been encouraging. 

My definition of ‘rich’ begins below $1M. $1M is a nice target, but not necessary for my frugal lifestyle. Hiking, skiing, bicycling, dancing, and socializing don’t require much. My portfolio can reach those levels if it doubles at least five more times. For some, that seems easy. It has happened once (if I go back far enough), that’s only four more times. Others know that doubling that many times in a row with similarly large losses is highly unlikely.

Unlikely happens, in both directions.

It is easy to apply conventional wisdom to a fault. Markets and portfolios can rise or fall far more than the typical, normal, expected averages. Typical, normal, and expected are words that are being challenged more frequently, lately. What’s going to happen? I don’t know, but I do know that change can happen with or without news, with or without a notification; and the celebrations are worth celebrating because life is about living – but maybe wait until the money clears the account.

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GAIA – One Company One Story

Welcome to another story and another video in my One Company One Story series.
This time, Gaia (previously known as Gaiam).

Here comes the amateur legalese.

I began investing in companies and their stocks in the late 70s, but am not a certified investment professional.

My style and history of investing is described in Dream. Invest. Live., a book I wrote by request – which came out as the Great Recession (the Second Great Depression) began. Bad timing, eh? https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0035XVXAA

I am not investment professional. This is not financial advice. 

This time it is about Gaia, a company that is also known as Gaiam. The company portrays itself as “a member-supported media network of truth seekers and believers empowering an evolution of consciousness”. Wikipedia says it is “an American alternative media video streaming service and online community focusing on fringe-science and yoga”. Some see fringe as far out there, and the wrong place to be. Others see fringe and think that’s the place to look for the changes that need to be made. And, of course, some will see a business opportunity regardless of their philosophy.

Disclosure: I owned stock in GAIA about a decade ago. See that history at the link: https://trimbathcreative.net/?s=gaia).

Gaia is simple, yet with all-encompassing goals: health, mindful-living, etc. Their products are media. They don’t deliver health and lifestyles, but they deliver the media that hopefully helps their customers. As their web site puts it, “over 8,000 ad-free, streaming titles that challenge modern paradigms and allow you to manifest the reality that defines your being.”

Basically a simple media company that delivers messages to customers. I sold in 2011 because they pivoted to that strategy. My initial interest was in Real Goods Trading Company, a company that sold alternative energy and lifestyle products to people who wanted to live off-the-grid either by necessity or by choice. Solar was a big component of their business. They were in the right place and ahead of the crowd, but possibly too early. I wanted to be invested in solar power. The two companies merged, for a while. Then they weren’t. Gaia wanted to sell yoga mats and videos, and they were there as those sectors got busy.

Were we both right? Real Goods is gone, at least as a publicly-traded company. Coincidentally, I needed a yoga mat and bought one from Gaiam.

Let’s look at the stock. Back when I sold it, circa 2011, GAIA was trading between $5 and $10. It spiked up to over $20, recently fell back to almost $2, and closed today (January 25, 2023) at $3.51. Timing matters. 

Google Finance

Optimists can point to trends like yoga and an evolution of consciousness.

Pessimists can point to ‘fringe science’ and whether it will be too fringe.

I watch GAIA because there is a demand and a need for many people to find alternatives to their conventional lives. 

I wonder if Gaia will mimic Real Goods, right product and maybe the right time, almost. Real Goods is still in business, but it isn’t traded publicly. Staying tuned.

The video:

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Fifteen Dollar Movies

Just a bit of fluff, or is it?

How much are movies at mega-multi-plexes? Pardon me as I try to remember the previous time I was brave to go to a Big Theater, instead of my local one-screen, one-showing per night, single aisle comfy space, The Clyde in ‘Downtown’ Langley (pop. ~1,150 people and about as many rabbits). Even there ticket prices have climbed to $10. $10! At least the popcorn is still $1. (Or has that gone up too?) But a $15 movie? Think plural, movies. For $15 I bought an old DVD/VCR player from the thrift store (Good Cheer). For $15 I can now watch my old tapes, my old discs, no interruptions.

I really should be writing this blog about a different topic, but hopefully it will work well next week. My eyes are tired because I’ve been writing the sequel to my first science fiction novel, Firewatcher; and squinting at a computer screen as I prepare one slideshow (though I called in help, thanks Joe), and am down-selecting a photo essay of 48 photos out of over 1,400 (argh, squint). My world barely extends to the reach of my finger tips as they command this bubble to add this and delete that. Once a day, assuming there is time remaining, I watch a movie at home.

The screens in the theaters are at a better distance, especially because I like to sit in the back. I’m tall enough that I don’t want to block anybody’s view, and the people watching is very entertaining – especially in a small town where (almost) everybody knows your (or at least many peoples’) name. But, I tend to stay home.

Last night, To Have And Have Not. A few night’s earlier, The Big Sleep. The world’s been in B&W. Soon, more modern movies where they had color and everything. At this rate I may have enough movies at home to take me to Thanksgiving. And if I need more, I know a place where the price for a new tape or disc is less than streaming.

But, streaming is free, so I imagine hearing from someone. Streaming is free, if you forget or ignore the subscription. On the other side, tapes and discs aren’t interrupted by ads – but they are, or were. Streaming may include ads, and they are likely to be fear-driven about what could kill you. Tapes and discs had their obnoxious ad era, but it was almost exclusively for more shows or games – with the obligatory FBI/Europol scary messages about copying content. FWD. Mute.

So, why am I writing about something as silly as an old VCR/DVD player that doesn’t even have a remote and that doesn’t work with universal remotes (shocking, eh?) This blog is about frugality, and sometimes in the midst of global crises, personal workload, social complexities, and the vagaries of investing it is good to remember to look up from news and work, look a little farther out, and maybe look a little ways back.

No driving. Nobody targeting ads based on what I am watching. The beverage selection encompasses water, herbal tea, hot chocolate, martinis for Bond, wine for art films, whiskey for Bogart, champagne for romances. Take breaks when I want and need. Research curiosities, paused during good parts, or while muted during unsavory scenes.

Fifteen dollars for a year of movies, basically ad-free? That’s a deal. Someone’s gotta clean up this popcorn, though. Please rewind.

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