What Good Are You?

I’ve got a bathroom with a tile problem.  So I cut out of the office for a bit today to go do some pricing at the Home Depot.   No meeting today so I’m wearning some dark Khakis, brown casual leather shoes, a blue button-down dress shirt.  No tie.  I was NOT wearing an orange smock with the Home Depot logo like all the employees were doing.  I was walking down one of the main aisles looking for the bath section.

An old man approaches me.

“Where can I find some (unintelligible) hose?”

“I’ve no idea,” I say.

“Then what the hell good are you?,” he yells.

“Look, I don’t work here,” he counter.

“Oh,” he grumbles then walks away.

I remember an old man once told me that as a young man he thought a benefit of getting older would be that he could sit around and have wise conversations with his friends – they all being wise old men.  He told me it didn’t happen.  “They’re the same dumbasses they were when we were 30,” he said.

This guy was one of them.

Peter Montoya White Papers

72(t), NUA and stock options, Qualified Charitable Distributions, Roth IRA conversations.  These are things I actually enjoyed writing about.  See partial examples of my work here.

Portfolio Update – Odds & Ends

I added work from three publications I did.  The first was from Boomer Market Advisor Magazine where I wrote about life-cycle funds.  I think it was the first paying piece I wrote where the topic was something in my field – investments..  The second is from Cincinnati City Beat, a local alt-weekly.  I stopped writing for them when the editor I befriended left.  Finally, some free essays I wrote for Cin Weekly, a very non-alt weekly which publishes articles about where to find the best nachos at the best suburban sports bar.

Self Esteem – Who Cares

I couldn’t care less about people’s self esteem.   In fact, I’ve had it up to here with unearned self-love, self-involvement.  I’m a rational and/or ethical egoist – but not a stroker.   I’d disagree the writer gives that this is conservatism, but this post is well worth reading.

It’s clear many of these contestants have never been told the truth about their singing – that is, been criticized – in their life.  It stuns them – someone has pointed out that they are less than perfect!  They are flabbergasted.  It’s like Simon has just lectured them in Swahili.

“Well,” they will stammer, “I think I did really well and I had fun out there.”

Only in a society where children’s’ self-esteem has been made the Holy Grail of the educational system could a 19-year old communications major from Maryland State with a love of show tunes presume to place her opinion about singing on the same scale with that of a 30-year record industry vet who could tile the floor of his mansion with the gold records he’s honchoed.  And who lied to this young woman and told her that the amusement she derived from her activity is somehow relevant to evaluating the skill she displayed in executing it?

But you can see in the eyes of the smart ones that they are thinking about what Simon said.  That’s good – criticism is the key to improvement.  Validation is the key to staying lousy.

Portfolio Update -TV Commercials

The portfolio is slowly being built.  Here’s a link to some TV commercials I wrote.  Did I ever set out to write TV commercials?  Nope.  Here’s how it happened:  An attorney friend calls and says

“Howard, I’ve read your articles.  You write some good stuff.”
“Thanks,” I say.
“Could you write a TV commercial for me…actually for the IRS?”
“Uuhhhhhh.” I said.
“It pays well,” he counters.
“Pays well?  Commercials?  No sweat.  That’s easy.”
We set a meeting and I hung up the phone and googled “How to write TV commercials”.

Everyone was pleased with the results.  For the Palastian guy I took as inspriation the opening scense of the Godfather.

Portfolio Update – The Sunday Challenger Articles

The Sunday Challenger was a full-color weekly that ran weekly from July of 2004 to February 2006.  Then it folded.  I made friends with two of it’s editors, Tricia Suit and Tom Mitsoff,  I met future friends and business associates Scott Malof and Marty Horwitz (RIP) moderating the tax roundtable stories.   I won a 2nd place 2006 Kentucky Press Association award for Best Enterprise or Analytical Story for a piece on the Cincinnati/NKY Airport history.  Finally, I turned my 11th Wedding anniversary dinner into a tax deductible restaurant review.

All and All a profitable year and a half.

Value in Brevity

I’ve become a facebookaholic lately.  You can post thoughts and life events – as long as you keep it within a certain character limit.  At times this is frustrating.  But truthfully most people’s lives don’t need much more than what’s given and, besides, brevity is almost always better.

My best example of this is Hemingway’s “The End of Something”.  It’s a story that meant alot to me sometime around senior year of high school though the first year or two of college.  The meaning came from the stories theme, but also it is a great instruction on how to write short.  When english teachers give an assignment by page lenght, it seems impossible to fill up that space, but when writers write about something they care about they forget sometimes that their reader doesn’t give a flip about most of it.

You see Hemingway’s newspaper years in this story.  It delivers a punch that I don’t think his 100,000 word novels ever did.

Cliff’s notes here.

The Pure Investor

I got an email from my publisher that my book The Pure Investor was going to be de-listed from Amazon.  It’s still here.  The thing hasn’t sold well at all.  I remember getting my last residual check 3 years ago for something like $9.23 and realized it was probably from a batch I bought my own damned self for a workshop I was doing.  So I’ve decided to give it away, again.  The pdf is here.  Hope you enjoy.