Coping: With Investment, Risk, Speculation, Gambling

(Gig Harbor, WA)  As soon as this morning’s news portion of the column is done, we’ll be piling into the car to begin the long road back to Texas after being off the ranch for fully 5-weeks now.

Along the way, we’ve had a lot of fun…and from an economics research perspective, I’ve gained all kinds of new insights from talking to people ranging from restaurant wait-staff to  marijuana growers, to check-out clerks.

One of the key insights is into how the “App-italism” will, in coming years, be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” with regard to old-style capitalism.  That’s up this weekend in a piece I call ‘Computational Communism.”  Or, “How modern Bolsheviks eat Apples.”

Life/paradigm-changing stuff and worth the trip in and of itself.

I’d like to thank Kelly (and Dan) for making our stay so comfortable.  When Kelly’s not building wedding cakes and such with her business, she’s rebuilding houses and all kinds of neat stuff.    Fine example of a high-energy PNW person who has skill, gumption, and hustle…

But enough about travels, now to the subject at hand:  How to get back to Texas:

I’ve been fascinated for as long as I can remember, with the four words Investment, Risk, Speculation, and Gambling.

Since we are “what we think” (more so than what we eat, cakes and tarts excepted), I think it’s important to have a firm grasp on the subtle differences in meaning between words.

One of the things that distinguishes a really sharp mind, from a rather dull one, is in how we use words.  The professions where this “word-use” stuff include law, engineering, and medicine.  Which have what in common?  Oh, maybe higher average incomes?  You see, precision in language is a precedent to precision in thinking.  The more precise the thinker, the more precise their language.

It’s true when comes to money, as well.

As Elaine’s got first turn at the wheel this morning (she’ll find out when she wakes up, lol!) I’ve got a bunch of thoughts rattling around in my head on point.

Investing:  This is the art of deploying money or some other asset with the expectation of a positive return, either in money or goods.

Risk:  Exposing one’s self to danger or possibility of loss.

Speculation: Investment with the hope of gain, but risk of loss.

Gambling: Taking [more] risky action with the hope of gain.

Our road back to Texas will be over what I call “Ure’s Casino Highway.” The idea is to state-hop from casino to casino.

Granted, we could take the direct route, and stay in OK hotels in the $100/night class, but the problem with many of these is they just aren’t very exciting.  Nothing to tickle the imagination or teach new things.

You simply go in, plunk down the credit card, go to room, get lousy to-go food, and pay $20-bucks for a movie that you know will be on Amazon streaming in 2-months for $2.99.

At a casino, on the other hand, there is always a variety of ‘stuff” to do.

For example, since we’re going to the Seven Feather’s resort tonight, in about the middle or Oregon, we will (for the same price as a conventional hotel) be able to chat with RVers – a fascinating sub-culture very much like live aboard sailors.  That doesn’t cost anything, except a “Hi, howdy, how you doing?”

Some casinos have golf courses which is a nice diversion if you have time, like walking, and aren’t too embarrassed by your swing.

Then there’s the better choice of food.  LOTs of choices at most casino-hotels.

And about that $20 (or maybe $40) that would otherwise have gone into movies?  There’s a fine assortment of potential ways to break even.

Which brings us around to what gambling is.

I know the statistics are poor, especially on things like slots,. but I’ve seen many a long-shot pay for a whole vacation.  But, beyond that, there’s the honing of one’s intuition that came come.  Elaine does pretty well on things like slots or machine poker when she waits to find a machine that “calls to her.”

Given a choice, Life is a lot more fun when there’s a definable element of risk to it.  To me, the tradeoff between a movie rental in a hotel or a stroll around a casino floor is a no-brainer.  Especially when daughter Allison is becoming something of a craps shooter.,..a game I sort of understand, but plan to understand a lot better by time a week from now rolls around.

My pet theory is that by becoming a better gambler, one can become a better investor.  Since, when comes to investing, I tend to “take my bets off the table early” – which has caused me to miss a fair number of big moves over the years.

On the flip side, gambling is different in that I tend to leave my bets ride too long, and as a result, don’t walk out when I’m ahead.

So you see how this is a personality-balancing process as much as anything.  Or, at least that’s what I tell myself when tomorrow, the odds are that we’ll b e down $40, but we’ll have more – and better – memories than some passing movie on the tube..

Drop by tomorrow and I’ll give you the results of tonight’s “personality-balancing” exercise.

After that, we’re off to the Peppermill in Reno..and from there, where else?  Probably the Texas Station (a smaller casino than the biggies on the strip) in Las Vegas.

Whether we have time for a stopover at our favorite place in Payson, AZ, is up in the air, but there are several gambling emporia in the Albuquerque area that have called to us over the years.

As we age, it becomes apparent that Life is a collection of memories.  And to our way of thinking, being an active player on the stage of life doesn’t involve ordering room service and over-priced movies. 

This position is subject to change, depending on tonight’s outcome. 

Geophysical Question/Project

Say, here’s a weird one for you:  Remember we had a small earthquake up here this week?  (4.0)?  Bothered my writing when I was working on Peoplenomics yesterday morning.

I thought I noticed that there was a minor change in cold water temperatures (~5-degrees warmer) after the quake (yesterday and again this morning).  Ours apartment/condo/home up here is on well water and not too far from the center of action.

Hmmm…I got to wondering:  Is there a possible method here to assess earthquake risk?  E.G. a change in ground temperature?

Turns out I’m not the only one asking this question.  Some Iranian earthquake researchers have been looking at this, too.  In 2010 they published a paper on it…

Abstract. In this investigation, relations between the
ground’s thermal properties and 70 earthquakes with a
magnitude >4 Richter in the Alborz region during a period
of 12 years (1992 to 2004) were studied. Typical
changes of ground temperature, 0.4 C; thermal diffusivity,
0.028m2 s?1×10?6 and ground heat flux take place a few
hours prior to the earthquakes. The values of thermal diffusivity
depend on the ground moisture content, which may
change during seismic activities. The analysis of ground heat
flux from the epicentre and it’s surrounding regions show
some anomalous behavior before the earthquakes but with
different signs…

…so if you have a water well and you live in a seismically active area, changes in ground temperature might be an interesting indicator to watch.  I gotta mention this to my “secret project” colleagues down in the East Bay area.  They recently put in a well and setting up a temperature monitor down-hole might be interesting since the SF Bay area is not exactly a peaceful place in terms of EQ risks.

I know, like you need something else to do…but it might be interesting.

OK, time write up some economics headlines and then hit the road…see you tomorrow!

Write when you break-even (or better)