We started to see toilet paper (multiple varieties, sizes, etc.) as well as occasional bottles of Lysol appear at local stores, and beaches are once again full with people running, sailboats in the distance, and folks riding their bicycles. Many of the independent retail shops have reopened, and restaurants are beginning to accept diners, again.
Over the past year, one of my favorite tracks to listen to while I work is an instrumental piece by Iranian-born composer, producer, instrumentalist, and performer Sami Yusuf. In referring to his genre of music, Yusuf calls it “Spiritique”, which blends Eastern and Western sounds into something new and different.
Several incredibly talented people collaborated on a disco-style track called “Kill the Lights” that Aaron and I have been listening to on endless repeat. The build-up to the chorus and explosion of happiness is great, especially when the volume is turned up, the sun is shining, and you’re getting stuff done. You can’t help but dance. It’s probably going to be the song we remember most from Spring 2020 (even thought it was released several years ago and just flew below our radar). There is just so much joy in it.
Unreal Engine 5 – one of the big video game development engines upon which the modern gaming industry is built – has been revealed. It looks spectacular. This is going to allow much smaller studios to develop titles that would have only been possible with far higher budgets and resources only a few years ago.
Over the past few weeks, an interesting, and rather dramatic, development has occurred: A good minority of the population, often those in possession of what they deem to be stable incomes and sufficient savings, or who are otherwise cradled by some sort of safety net so they need not worry about homelessness and destitution, have moved the goalposts of the lockdowns from “flatten the curve to buy time for the hospital system to deal with a dramatic rise in patient loads” to “shelter-in-place until a vaccine is developed so this thing doesn’t spread.” The latter is predicated upon a fundamental misunderstanding that ignores the scientific reality of what we are facing. Looking at subsequent developments in the pandemic, it’s time to face facts based upon all available presently-known factors.
Given that so many of our family and friends can’t travel to see us during this pandemic, Aaron and I wanted to share an early access glimpse into our asset management firm’s new home. It’s not the same as seeing it in person but it should at least give you an idea of where we will be spending a lot of our time in the coming years as we allocate capital and scale operations.
Following our recent discussion in the past post on COVID-19, some good news has emerged: In a recent interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci stated that, although there was no way to know for certain and he didn’t want to be held to it given the ever-changing nature of the situation, he now estimates that the death toll from COVID-19 will be in the 100,000 to 200,000 range. This is a dramatic reduction from worst-case scenarios that had thought to be around 2,200,000 only a brief time ago.
We need to have a hard conversation. These conversations are not natural, or even comfortable, for a lot of people but at this time, in this moment, it is necessary. To that end, I am going to be candid and may even offend several of you. That is not my intention. Rather, I think it is important for us to be honest about what we are facing, the trade-off calculations that are going to have to be made sooner rather than later, and the political and social ramifications of those decisions.
Along with 1 out of 2 Americans, including the entirety of the rest of the State of California, Aaron and I have been sheltering-in-place and practicing social distancing. Given that we spent a vast portion of our lives together living semi-retired, this is not a significant change for us. If anything, it feels like a return to our Missouri days, especially considering that after two years in the heart of Newport Beach, we decided not to renew the lease on our existing place and, instead, move up to Newport Coast so we can decide if that might be where we ultimately want to buy a house once our kids are born.
I’ve been watching, with increasing interest, the catastrophic market decline that has been playing out in antique case goods, furniture, decor, and other related historical items. This category of assets, which had been on a steady, upward climb for nearly thirty years prior to the Great Recession, has been in a free-for-all, nosediving with such violence that the implosion is breathtaking in both scope and severity.