July 24, 2014

Baking Pain de mie Bread in Pullman Pans

Finished Pain de mie sandwich bread from Pullman pan

I normally like richer, specialty breads - the heavy kind you find in some European bread shop, each for its own purpose and recipe - but a recent trip to the grocery store made me curious about the type of ordinary bread most Americans are eating.  After looking at the nutrition label of several major baking companies, I was disgusted.  They read like something out of a chemistry class; high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, calcium sulfate, mono and diglycerides, ethoxylated mono and d … [Read more...]

Mail Bag: Shorting Stocks

Mail Bag Joshua Kennon Pen

A question about shorting stocks ... Hi Joshua,As always, thanks for creating articles on your thoughts, investigations, and financial wisdom. I was hoping you might be so kind as to share your thoughts on short positions as an inherently speculative proposition. Have you ever shorted an equity? Are there any case studies you might recommend I take a deeper look at?I recall that there have been situations in which both Graham and Buffett have held short positions in their portfolios against … [Read more...]

Dealing with Business Rejection, the McDonald’s Franchise Disclosure Document, and a $114 Million Coffee Fortune

McDonald's Counter In New Store Copyright Joshua Kennon

From time to time, I get messages from business owners or entrepreneurs who are discouraged and upset.  Their family, friends, colleagues, bank officers, or suppliers don't believe in what they are trying to do and they take it personally.  This afternoon, as I sat in a McDonald's restaurant having coffee and revisiting an excellent book called McDonald's Behind the Arches that details the historical rise of one of the world's largest real estate portfolio masquerading as a hamburger chain, I was … [Read more...]

Skillet Lasagna Is Not My Thing

Pan Lasagna

We have been trying new recipes, again.  One of the dishes that was on the list was a skillet lasagna.  It's popular because you can take ingredients you have at home and quickly put together a home cooked meal without a lot of effort.  I was hesitant because, in my opinion, the entire appeal of a lasagna dish is the layer of cheese, golden brown from slowly roasting in the oven.  However, I was game.  It was delicious, and I see why people like it, but, nope.  I am a baked lasagna guy.  On to th … [Read more...]

Economic Reality Isn’t Always Reflected on Your Account Statements

Wal-Mart Dividend Reinvestment Example

There is an account I handle for someone I know that has a very unique mandate.  It holds a handful of stocks, has practically zero turnover, and once a new position is acquired, the dividends must be automatically reinvested into that business, cost-free, until disposition.  The entire portfolio is held within a Roth IRA and this person is still more than 40 years away from retirement.  Even if he or she never contributes another penny, the account balance at present, with average rates of retu … [Read more...]

The Anniversary, Annotating Annual Reports, and Trying to Make Myself Be Productive …

Studying McDonald's annual report

I was hoping to respond back to a few dozen comments to which I have been meaning to reply, as well as post some mail bag questions, but I think I'm going to put that off until this afternoon and, instead, go out to lunch or go see a movie or something.  Today's our 13th anniversary, which hearing out loud makes me feel kinda old.  Of course, we're not - both of us are only 31 - it's just that we were fortunate enough to find each other as teenagers; an occurrence I highly recommend if you are lu … [Read more...]

Listen to the Customer Service Phone Call from Hell

Customer Service

For several years, I've been firmly convinced that the Internet providers need to be shattered like the old Ma Bell system.  They have a near complete monopoly that encourages them to avoid capital expenditures while providing sub-par service, making Internet here in the United States a joke compared to most other major developed countries which, in some cases, are a decade ahead of us. I know it's been all over the Internet all morning after becoming a viral hit on Reddit, but take the time … [Read more...]

I Nearly Doubled the General Electric Stake in the KRIP

General Electric Schenectady

Sometimes, it can seem as if we are living in a through-the-looking-glass investment world.  With the Federal Reserve having kept us in a near-zero percent interest rate environment for so long, asset prices are ... quirky ... to say the least.  Couple this with the psychological influence of the Great Recession, where certain types of companies fell out of favor, and you have pricing differentials that make no sense.  Total stock market capitalization measured relative to GNP is too high, ind … [Read more...]

High School Couple Exchanges Explicit Photos of Themselves. The Boy (and Only the Boy) Is Now Being Charged with Manufacturing and Possession of Child Pornography

Washington Post Story

You have to read this Washington Post story.  This is the most insane thing I've seen in a major newspaper in a long time and it gets even more insane when you realize the extent of stupidity and incompetence of the police department and the prosecutors.  The sexism and bigotry for this kind of double standard is monstrous. A 17 year old boy and his 15 year old girlfriend, both high school students, were doing what young, stupid people do.  She allegedly sent him sexually explicit photographs … [Read more...]

The Mental Models of Cultural Hits – From Spongebob Square Pants to the Golden Girls

Buena_Vista_Television_Logo

After my post on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air earlier, I began thinking about the media industry.  One of the things I find most fascinating when studying history, businesses, mental models, and the human experience, is the unexpected cultural phenomenon.  There are certain things that happen, at certain moments in time, that are only possible because of a confluence of events that create a feedback loop.  Billy Joel once explained the success of the Beatles through this framework, arguing pe … [Read more...]