What Changed?

Today may have marked the best day to have been in complete and utter isolation. If only I could have hidden my portfolio away in one of those salt mines that the government reportedly has available for its own uses.
Like the past two days I was otherwise occupied with the very happy occasion of my son’s graduation from Army Basic Training.
I spent very little time watching the news or paying attention to the markets.
That was probably a good thing as I forgot to pack my blood pressure medication for the trip.
On the drive back home, which took almost 10 hours with stops, there was a lot of napping and lots of questions asked regarding details of basic training. Sugar Momma was especially interested in every aspect of Army life but had a hard time comprehending that there didn’t necessarily need to be a reason behind anything.
What we didn’t realize was that during the 10 weeks away from home he and his fellow trainees had been completely cut off from the world around them. They had not heard of any news since May 25th. Imagine not knowing of any world events or changes for such a long time.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? If only there was a way to be spared the news of the world without having to do an obscene number of push-ups.
My son had said that they heard that Ryan Dunn and Hugh Hefner had died.
Granted they got the Hefner rumor wrong, although to the rumor mill’s credit, Hefner was in the news.
What amazed me is that Ryan Dunn, know only for some antics regarding a Matchbox racecar up his ass, as part of the “Jackass” crew made the news embargo cut.
But those represented not a sampling of the news they had heard, but the sum total of the news.
As my oldest son tapped me on the shoulder while I was driving, he just casually mentioned that the Dow Jones was down about 350 points at mid-day.
Once again, the thought of being buried deep in those salt mines seemed so appealing. Even push-ups with South Carolina fire ants marching on my back in the South Carolina sweltering sun seemed preferable to dealing with a wilting portfolio.
The thought that things can change so quickly and sometimes without any real stimulus at all became very real. Surprisingly, the market seems to be surprised or maybe it hasn’t had access to the news recently.
For his part, our son informed us that in the Army women are females, guns are weapons and bathrooms are latrines. Although those may seem like minor changes, they are apparantly very serious ones and trainees receive reinforcement in numerous ways to ensure that appropriate terminology is used.
For my youngest son, as I looked at him, a lot had changed in just 10 weeks of time, but now it was our turn to fill in the gaps in his knowledge of world events.
Amazingly, he didn’t seem surprised to find out that plaid had replaced yellow on all traffic lights. Nor was he surprised to find out that Amy Winehouse had passed away.
Being a football fan, he asked about the player’s strike and was happy to learn that tragedy had been averted. I was amazed at the level of detail my other son had regarding the settlement. I don’t think that I had ever had that level of understanding on any topic, but then I’ve never been as passionate about any topic.
I had been fairly passionate about stocks, but that was before yesterday.
One thing that did get my interest was the remark that “now that I have some money, I may be interested in buying some stocks”.
Even after the pain of the last couple of weeks, those words had curative powers.
The very first thing he had wanted to do after setting foot off base for the first time in 10 weeks was to go to Chipotle Mexican Grill. Of course, we had told him earlier that Chipotle had completely revamped its menu using goat and nutria as replacements for steak and pork, respectively.
That was change that you could believe in.
Unfazed, as long as they were free range, by 11:30 AM we had gone through the line, ordered and were sitting at our table. I got quite a kick watching him take that first bite, as it reminded me of some of the unadulterated joy little kids can have. He clearly enjoyed that first bite and quite a few thereafter.
I don’t even think he noticed the fluffy tail still wagging out of that burrito.
My father-in-law used to use the phrase “eating memories” to describe the disappointment in once again eating an old favorite food. “You’re just eating memories. It’s never as good as your memories”.
Maybe 10 weeks isn’t that long a period of time, but clearly nothing had changed here.
By 11:45 the line was out the door and very heavily populated by soldiers that had off-base privileges.
Chipotle is certainly no “cheap” stock, but might be a perfect first stock for the young investor who understands dining value.
As the market takes a sharp nosedive value is something that will never change.
Hopefully, some brave people will now step forward in recognition of the values that abound and quickly change the direction in which we’ve headed.
Sounds like a job for the U.S. Army.