Thursday, October 22, 2015

Understanding Contracts

Our kids must understand the importance of comprehending contracts.  Failure can be baked into the contract to such a degree that all your best efforts might be doomed to failure.  Great success might lie more in the details of your contract than in your efforts after the contract.  First, let's review one of the most famous corporate bankruptcies due to a contract.  Rolls Royce signed a contract with Lockheed to deliver jet engines with price and performance goals that bankrupted Rolls Royce.  I remember reading that Rolls Royce asked Lockheed for relief from their contract and Lockheed refused, which drove Rolls Royce into bankruptcy.  Important lesson:  if you make a mistake in your contract do not ever believe that that the other guy will cut you some slack.

I remember reading of a medical doctor who signed a contract he did not fully understand.  The doctor trusted that the insurance company would not offer him a bad contract.  He was wrong.  They paid him less than it cost to treat those patients so the contract drove him into bankruptcy.  Important lesson: do not trust the counterparty to offer a fair or reasonable contract.  The best way to rob someone is through a contract; this makes the theft legal.

I remember the final walk-through on my first house.  As I was signing the paperwork listing the fixes I required to close on the house, I mentioned to the construction superintendent that I was sure they would fix things I missed on the list.  The superintendent choked when I said that.  I suppose I was surprisingly naive.  Important lesson:  do not expect anything beyond what is promised in the contract.

Next, let us consider Warren Buffett's success.  Think to yourself, if Buffett was the employee of his investors, then how did he become richer than them?  They had the money, and he ended up with more money than any one of them. How did he do this?  Is was not just good investments because his partners shared his success.  His superior wealth must be due to his contract. When I first thought this through it seemed like a revelation:  great wealth can depend more on a smart contract than on smart investments.

I will walk you through how Buffett got rich, but I will do that in some other post.  It requires math modeling.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015


As I was growing up I saw kids as young as elementary school damaging themselves with drugs.  In middle school my classmates started dying in car accidents.  Then in high school alcohol and cars led to more deaths.  When I was a high school teacher a kid that worried me died in a car accident.  This has not changed.  But I did not hear of suicides among my classmates while growing up.  Maybe there was a veil of silence around the suicides and I was unaware of them while I was growing up.

Now I do hear about young people committing suicide. I have to say that depression is real and needs to be addressed.  I read of a successful financier, a friend of Sandy Weill of Citigroup, who suffered from depression, had the best mental care possible, had a supportive family, and still committed suicide.  His wife, looking for him, found his Italian shoes placed by the door to the apartment rooftop, went up and discovered her husband had jumped to his death.

Depression is dangerous.  Patrick Kennedy recently wrote a book to address the problem:  A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction.  It took courage to talk about his family's problems.  Depression cuts across all social classes.

It is difficult sometimes to get your teenagers to talk to you, but when they do talk, we have to listen to them.  And I mean really listen, not lay down the law or argue with them.  Our kids are stressed in college and after graduation.  We cannot relax once they have left high school or college.  I cannot say what anyone should do if they are worried for their child, but it might be wise to look for help.

You have seen the increase in mass shootings in America.  We have always had guns in this country.  We would not be a country if our founding fathers were unarmed; we would still be a British colony.  What has changed has been an increase in the pressure we feel in our lives.  We are under pressure and some of us have better ways of coping with the pressure.  Because the anti-gun lobby has hijacked this issue, we are not discussing the sources of the pressure we feel and how some can cope while others crumble under the pressure.

Perhaps there are more young people killing themselves.  The veil of silence might be hiding an increase in suicides. Or the liberal news media might be so focused on our guns that they are ignoring an increase in suicides because that does not fit their anti-gun agenda.

I worry for our kids.


Debt is Dangerous

I grew up knowing the old saying, "A fool and his money are soon parted."  Our children should know that saying and they need a new one as well:  "Debt is dangerous."  It is easy make a foolish decision with finances when circumstances are complicated and you do not fully understand the potential consequences of your actions.  Now, "A fool and his money are soon parted," means you can lose all your money.  If you make a foolish decision with debt, you can lose money you do not have and end up in a hole:  paying back money you lost, having nothing to show for it but years of wasted labor, paying off a debt that got you nothing.

Many young people borrowed too much money to earn college degrees that could not pay off the heavy debt.  Now that we are experiencing the race for the next presidency, some candidates are pandering to all the fools in the country, saying that you and I should pay their debts, that we should take money away from our children's education to give it to other people's children. Widespread foolishness is leading to covetousness and a lust for widespread theft.  The inability to recognize that debt is dangerous is destabilizing our county.

Excessive debt is now a threat to our way of life; it is a threat to our liberty.  According to John Locke, government's purpose is to protect life, liberty, and property.  Remove one protection and they all fall.

Please do not allow your children to assume heavy debt without your guidance.  If you do not steer them away from danger, no one will.  Your children must understand that debt is dangerous.


Previous posts on this topic:
College Loans  (Saturday, December 29, 2012)

Teaching Our Kids About Interest and Inflation (Saturday, April 11, 2015)

Even smart people get in trouble with debt.  Look at the article "Lessons From Dewey Debacle" by Sara Randazzo in the 10-20-2015 Wall Street Journal.  You can see how a bunch of lawyers drove themselves into bankruptcy by borrowing money and then mismanaging it.  Being smart does not help if you are not smart about money.  Money has its own wisdom.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Are There Drugs in Plano?

Asking if there are drugs in Plano is like asking if there are drugs in America.  Of course there are.  What that means to us parents is that we need to be vigilant, prepared, and connected.  We need to keep an eye on our kids.  We need to be awake when they get home after going out at night so we can observe their behavior.  When we spot suspicious behavior we need to search our child's room, car, and back pack.  We need to prepared with a home drug screening test.  And we need to be connected to other parents who have children going to school with our children.  If you are lucky, other parents might tip you off about worrisome behavior by your children.

You can buy a home drug screening test at pharmacies.  You might have to ask the pharmacist for help in finding the kits.  Once you buy one, check the expiration date at the start of each school year.  Examine the kit before you buy it.  The kits will test for different batteries of drugs, the more drugs tested, the higher the cost, but prices vary.  If a test comes up positive, the company says the test is preliminary and you need to send it in for a certain answer.  What is important is that you can have peace of mind if the test shows your child is clean.  As a parent you need to know that you wait until the morning to do the test.  You wake your child up and take the sample with the first urination in the morning, when the urine is most concentrated.

When I was a kid, almost no one did drugs.  They were very rare, but I think everyone back then knew of one kid who did drugs.  Drug use is more common now.  Our society has us under more pressure than ever.  That,  the declining morality in America, and the aggressiveness of the drug sellers, means our children are at greater risk than ever.

Our children need to know that an arrest record will bar them from working for many companies.  Our children need to know that some companies screen employees with drug tests and polygraph exams.  Some companies will strap you into the machine and ask if you have done drugs..  In my opinion, those are some of the best companies to work for.  Even if an arrest record is expunged, it is not really expunged; it hangs around forever.

On You Tube you can search for "Barack Obama I inhaled frequently That was the point"
Your kids might bring this up, that the President smoked weed, but point out that he was not arrested.  And if he was, he was connected.  His grandmother was a bank vice-president. Obama went to the fanciest prep-school in Hawaii, Punahou School.  Rich kids always get off.  The middle-class and the poor get shafted.  (I have a few examples at the end of this post.)

Another thing your kids need to know is that they should not take their A.D.D. medication out of the house.  It is common for a kid to take his meds with him on the way to McDonald's before school.  The medication on an empty stomach can lead to nausea.  But the drug is a controlled substance and they can be arrested if caught with it in the car.  Have a piece of bread with the medication at home before going out to eat.

If anyone in your family has a medication that says, "Do not take while operating a motor vehicle," don't do it.  You can be arrested for driving while intoxicated.

I believe Satan is hunting our children, so I also recommend daily prayer for our children.  We parents need to stick together to look out for our kids. I hope this might help someone.  This is a topic that needs to be addressed.


Examples of the rich getting away with manslaughter.
U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy killed Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick and never saw a day in jail.  A regular person would have been sentenced to 20 years for vehicular manslaughter.
Ethan Couch, killed 4 people driving drunk in Burleson, Texas, and was let go with probation.  Was it just a coincidence his father was rich?
Oscar Pistorius shot his girl friend dead and spent less than a year in jail after gunning her down.  His uncle is rich and Pistorius will be living in luxury with his rich uncle.
Judges know where the money is.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Eliminate Aggressive Web Browser Popups Like PC Keeper

A friend asked me for help to get rid of an aggressive popup on his web browser.  It had completely hijacked his computer.  I am sharing this experience because computers are household appliances and you can fix this problem without calling for help if you have a few ideas you can try yourself.

First, let me describe the problem.  Someone in your household stumbles across a website that pops up a page claiming to be from a company called PC Keeper. The popup declares you have a virus and you must download PC Keeper to get rid of your virus.  It is like extortion:  download this  product or else your computer is ours and you cannot have it back.  First of all, who knows who is really behind the popup.  It might be PC Keeper and it might not.   So let's just focus on the generic problem:  Something has hijacked your computer through your web browser.  In this case the browser was Mozilla Firefox.  Look around on the internet under "PC Keeper Virus" and you will see a lot of people have run into this problem, including users of Microsoft Internet Explorer.

This aggressive popup covers the whole computer screen and locks up you computer.  You cannot use Task Manger to kill Firefox.  You cannot even restart your computer.  What I did might not be the best way to fix the problem, but it worked.

Step 1:  Press on your on/off button on your computer until it shuts down.  This will take longer than normal because the aggressive popup is fighting with your OS.  Be patient and continue holding that button down. Until it finally shuts off.  If it never shuts off, you can always flip the power switch on the computer plug strip.

Step 2:  Disconnect your computer from the internet.  I disconnected the Ethernet cable from the back of the PC.  If your household has a wireless connection to the infected computer, then can disconnect your computer from your wireless tower by finding the list of wireless connections available to your computer and disconnecting from your wireless tower/modem.

Step 3:  Start your computer.  Then open Firefox, which will try to relaunch the rogue popup, but it will fail because your computer is now disconnected from the internet.  Now you have control of your browser again and you can close all the tabs.  I don't remember if the popup appeared.  I don't think it did because the tab that had the website that launched the popup could not reach the internet.  The list has, connect/disconnect, for each connection.

I ran a virus scan on the Mozilla folders in C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox and found nothing, so I did not think there was a virus as such, but I was afraid Mozilla was corrupted.

Step 4:  I went to the My Computer > Add/Remove programs and I uninstalled Firefox.  Then I used a different browser to download and reinstall Firefox.  Everything seemed okay at this point.

Part of the problem with an aggressive popup like this is that Firefox has a terrible feature that is exploited by these people who hijack your computer:  When you kill the computer, restart the computer, and reopen Firefox, then Firefox will have saved all the tabs that were open when you crashed your computer and Firefox will relaunch the aggressive popup

You ought to get familiar with this because when your browser is hijacked then you cannot search for help.  Forewarned is forearmed.

Remember:  Power off your computer, disconnect from the internet,  restart the browser and close all the tabs in your browser.  Always have more than one browser because you might need one to reinstall another.

Computers are household appliances and you need to know how to fix some of the problems you encounter.  Good luck!

You might want to find a way to disable popups on your browser.  Google for instructions.  Also, the pop up might be from malware instead of from your browser.  When you read an article on your web browser, you might want to avoid clicking on anything that appears on that page.  What looks like another interesting article might be a trap to launch malware or vicious pop ups. The web is increasingly dangerous.