Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Are The Dog Track And A Coffee Can Your Retirement Programs?

Financial statements from brokerage firms contain terms and phrases I don’t understand, particularly when the promised results didn’t materialize and my long-term investment program is now the 1-8-5 trifecta in Thursday’s second race at the Orange Park Greyhound Track and some loose change in a coffee can, mostly Canadian pennies and nickels.

I don’t trust hedge fund managers, financial analysts, stock brokers, bankers or anyone else who wants to manage my money for a fee. I’ve never understood any of their economic mumbo jumbo. They disguise their actions with financial double talk that enable them to take chunks of my cash when they buy stocks, bonds or commodities for me, and again when they sell them at a loss. What’s up with that?

Financial publications such as the Wall Street Journal aren’t any better explaining this nonsense. For example, just recently there was a WSJ story quoting a securities analyst who said: “….yields have fallen due to the power of duration, resulting in chunky gains of 3.1%.” I have no idea what the power of duration is and I didn’t see any of those chunky gains because my broker told me they were eaten by mice. And the 10 tons of soybeans rotting in my front yard is there because my future’s sell order didn’t reach my commodity broker, who is vacationing in St. Croix with his girl friend, Fannie Mae.

It’s not just individuals and financial institutions ripping us off with obscure terminology and financial hocus pocus. Whole countries and state and local governments are in on these schemes to snooker those of us who don’t have access to the government’s “Taking Money From the Tax Payer Dummy” manual.

Fernandina Beach’s and Jacksonville’s pension fund messes are examples. How many local tax payers really understand how these city’s pension funds could have more than $3 billion unfunded shortfalls (Jacksonville $2.7 billion, Fernandina $25 million)? Do you? No, of course you don’t. Admit it. No matter how many different ways it is explained none of us have the vaguest idea what these politicians are talking about and why we and our kids are on the hook to replenish these money pits with a new tax. Take it out of the politicians and the bureaucrats pay and retirement checks, not an additional tax on granny’s meds and my six pack.

But if you think our local municipalities finances are a mess you ain’t seen nothing yet. Some 8,500 miles from here there’s enough cash laying around to almost totally bail out the these underwater pension funds if somebody can just find it.

It appears that the African country of Mozambique has misplaced 107,816,173,353.54 Mozambican Meticals or some $1.8 billion U.S. bucks at current exchange rates. All of this was in the form of loans to this former Portuguese colony located on Africa’s Southwestern coast of the Indian Ocean. The $200 million that has been accounted for is the commission for the two Russian and Swiss banks, that arranged this hefty loan. (Banks’ motto: “You’re on your own now suckers.”)

How do you misplace almost two billion bucks? Did they look in the shoebox under the bed? The mayonnaise jar?

I looked it up, and the weight of $1 billion depends on the denominations that Mozambique President Filipe Myusi received. If the currency were in $100 bills, $1 billion would weigh roughly 10 tons. If it’s in $1 bills, $1 billion would weigh 1,000 tons. So this guy is missing between 20 to 2,000 tons of Franklins and Washingtons.

I read about the missing money in a WSJ article that was illustrated with a photo of a guy pushing a cart of bananas down a crowded street. I’m not sure what the banana peddler’s relationship was to the missing billions because the paper didn’t say. Maybe he’s hiding the cash under the fruit.

Imagine the consternation of President Myusi as he gets repeated calls from the country’s creditors and the sources of the loans. I’m sure they’ve gone from being polite and courteous to late night harassment at home.

Vinnie: “Hey Felipe, this is Vinnie at Ace Collections again. The International Monetary Fund is fed up and wants its two billion smackers, plus interest you owe ’em. Capiche?”

Mr. President: “Not to worry Vinnie. They’ll get their money as soon as my bookie shows up at the palace tomorrow.

Vinnie: “You got a real nice country there Felipe. It’d be shame to see anything bad happen to it. Ya know what I mean?”

If this doesn’t get fixed soon President Myusi could see his FICO score tank and find some very difficult to remove comments on his Equifax, Experian and Trans-Union credit reports. He’d have trouble after that even buying a used car from “Big Al’s No Credit, No Problem” lot.

Maybe Fernandina Beach and Jacksonville should turn over their pension fund mess to Vinnie.


Car Rental Chaos: Here’s some simple but practical advice for folks considering renting a car on Amelia Island. Go anywhere but Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Last month I made a reservation with the Amelia Island Enterprise Rent-A-Car at 2440 South 8th Street for a full size four-door sedan two weeks prior to the date I intended to pick it up for a trip to Mississippi and Texas and back. I even received an email saying: “Your reservation is booked. No need to reconfirm this reservation.”

The morning of the trip I arrived at Enterprise and was greeted by two employees who informed me they didn’t have the car I reserved. In fact, they said, they didn’t have any cars. But if I could wait they might be able to get one from the airport in Jacksonville. They informed me they couldn’t notify me of this situation earlier because they didn’t have my phone number. However, they couldn’t explain how they were able to notify me that there was “no need to reconfirm my reservation” or why they couldn’t arrange to have the car waiting that I reserved.

After letting Enterprise know what I thought of their service, I impulsively headed to the Fernandina Beach Airport where I was greeted by Jordan, a personable Hertz employee, who was operating with nothing but a temporary desk and chair, since his office in the terminal had been destroyed by a storm that tore through the area a few days earlier. Jordan didn’t have an office, a computer, or a working phone, but he did have an extremely helpful attitude and a car, albeit one the size of a sewing machine.

I understand that the storms that passed through the area caused rental car companies to scramble to secure cars for folks impacted by the weather, but there is no excuse for the bungling, sloppy, indifferent service encountered at Enterprise, a company that I will avoid like the plague in the future. The folks there need to take a page out of Jordan’s play book at Hertz, who did everything possible with his limited resources to put us in a vehicle and enabled us to maintain our schedule.

I strongly recommend Hertz, but it will be a cold day in hell when I drive another Nissan Versa, a car designed with dwarfs in mind. On the bright side we spent just over $100 for gas on a trip that covered more than 1,900 miles. Also, if I ever owned or managed another company I would want Jordan working for me.


The last fan?


President Trump 1, The NFL 0: No matter what people think of President Trump’s comments about “firing NFL SOBs who refuse to stand for the national anthem” it’s difficult to take the side of a group of wealthy, dim, contemptible football players who insult our flag, our country, our soldiers, our police officers, and our veterans. How do they think their despicable act of kneeling for the national anthem is winning converts to their cause? They are living the American dream, yet disparage the country that enables them to play a game and become millionaires while doing it. They say they’re protesting “police brutality.” Really? If we lived in a police state then their protests would make sense. However, if we lived in a police state they would also be arrested or shot for their stupid antics. But we don’t. Police states exist in places like Cuba, Venezuela, China, Iran, Russia, and almost every African country, but not here. What they should be doing is thanking the police for keeping them and their families safe, donating to police youth leagues, and conducting police-related benefits. Based on the rap sheets of many of these pampered narcissistic bozos, they just might be protesting the fact that the police are protecting their fans from the players by arresting so many of them for DUIs, drug use, domestic violence, bar room fights, rape, dog fighting, gambling, and so on. Despite the fact that these guys are the Harvey Weinsteins and worse of the NFL, they have a right to stage whatever protest at their place of business that their spineless employers will tolerate. And the fans have a right to ignore them. And they are. Because of the players misguided actions the NFL is taking a beating.  TV ratings, attendance and the sale of NFL apparel and other paraphernalia are all down dramatically. Even the weak-kneed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who tolerated the kneeling nonsense far too long, said the dispute over the protest “is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country.” Former Chicago player and coach Mike Ditka summed up fan sentiment saying: “I don’t care who you are, how much money you make. If you don’t respect our country, then you shouldn’t be in this country playing football. Go to another country and play football.”


Want $400 Or More? I just discovered that I can get more than $400 shaved off of my home owner’s insurance policy’s annual premium if the roof of my house can pass a wind mitigation inspection. It did and I did. My insurance agency, Brightway on Fernandina Beach, suggested that I contact Paul Drayton of 360 Inspections,  a local certified home inspector to take a look at our newly installed roof. He did, and explained to me that owners of any house here built after 2002 or that has a new roof, is probably not getting the wind mitigation discount they are entitled to under Florida law.  The personable South African conducted an inspection that took less than an hour and cost just $75. He then sent a detailed six-page report including eight photos to the insurance company, that has resulted in a significant annual savings. If you want to know if you qualify then give Paul a call at 904/321-9121. Checkout details of this issue at  When you see a good thing you want to share it.

  • Comment (10)
  • We tried several times to rent cars on the island and ended up having issues most every time. Now we only rent at the airport, we don’t even consider trying on the island. We’ve never had any problem at the airport.

  • The mitigation report is a great recommendation. BTW, although our home was built before 2002, the builder for whatever reason had included the upgraded wind protection. A mitigation inspector noted that and our insurance carrier provided the discount.

    On the subject of bad advice from stockbrokers, I recall the standard answer I used to receive when an investment went south: the market changed. Sometimes it seemed the market always changed in a direction against me, but the commissions always worked on their side of the transaction!

  • I’ve been a Hertz Gold Member for a couple of years now, and I can’t compliment Hertz enough. The prices, ease of reservations, quality and availability of cars, efficiency and friendliness of employees are great. If Hertz and maybe one other car rental company opened an island or Yulee office, the local Enterprise would spruce up its act! Competition works wonders.

  • I found your ‘lesson” on stockbrokers and such an interesting and accurate assessment of the whole “financial advisors” concept – and a view that I totally share. Not only are most of them charlatans, they tend to be arrogant and about as trustworthy as used car salesmen.

    As for the NFL, I like the sentiments expressed by one of my neighbors a couple of days ago. He’s normally a quiet and soft spoken guy and I haven’t seen him recently. “Are you boycotting the NFL,” I asked him. “Hell yeah! They can kiss my ass.”

  • Welcome back Dave. Hope you and Linda had a wonderful trip. Waiting to read about your latest “Back road, Trip”. Looking forward to lunch next week.

  • Unfortunately, your experience with Enterprise seems to be typical of the industry. The computer takes your reservation, but when you arrive, your “reserved” car is nowhere to be found and they offer to upgrade you to the Super-Truckster at little or no additional cost. There is, however, no excuse for rudeness or poor customer service.

    If you want a larger selection of vehicles, better rates and 24 hour service, then you should rent a car from the Jacksonville airport. I’ve rented from Hertz on the island many times over the past 6-8 years and, only once, did I experience the “we don’t have your car” problem. I’ve found it helpful to visit their office the night before my rental day and identify myself as a “local” renter and reiterate which type of vehicle I have reserved since they rarely have more than 10 cars in the lot at any given time.

    By the way, did you notice how quiet the terminal is? It’s an old building, for sure, but always clean and well-maintained. I’ve run into more airport workers than pilots there and have never seen any passengers hanging around. I understand that a new, storm-resistant terminal would be beneficial, but why does it need to look like an airplane? Are they still going to install all of that glass or have they downsized the windows?

  • Dave, We use Geico and had the report ssent over when we had a new roof put on our home. We save just about $400 each year!! More people should have this, well worth it!

  • Commish Goodell is just a “yes man” for the fraternity of 32 billionaire NFL owners. As long as he bows to them he’ll be employed and smiling all the way to the bank with his $30- $40M just renewed contract.

  • The last two times I rented from Enterprise, I also rented a full size sedan. Both times, the car was not available. However, both times I was treated very well, and was offered an upgrade at no additional cost by the agent. I guess timing is everything, but i
    I will continue to use Enterprise on the island. By the way, they pick you up

  • Unless you happen to luck out on a stock fund managed by a superstar, the average investor is way better off just using a low cost index fund (avg. cost of .1% vs. .9% of a managed fund).


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