I enjoy walking into a library, sitting around all the stacks of books, picking out the ones that suit me and taking it home.  I have library cards from every place I lived.  So when a local school district wanted to cut its funds to the library in my community I went to protest.

They raised taxes to a budget of over 50 million and to save money they cut $26,000 to the library.  Most of the community was outraged.  Since this same school district was paying a fired superintendent over $170,000 because of some contract issues.  They also had other expenses and admitted they mismanaged their money. I felt you couldn't find $26,000 in your budget.  No they couldn't.

I sat with my wife in the first row, holding up "Protect Our Library" sign and they only heard voices from their district, so I couldn't say anything, and when the vote was over.  It was over.

Our library depends on several school districts for its funding.  It's been an agreement since the 1960's they would support the library.  There was no contract, so the library couldn't sue the district.  They had to cut several services.

When you closed down libraries, you limited an opportunity for resources that some members of our community don't have access to.  Computers for research and job hunting, vast data base for government grants, and of course the books and magazines.  My wife and I took a grant writing class for free through the  library.  A database showed that my great-grandfather was oldest living person in the town before he passed.  He lived to be over 100 years old and he had only one child, Fred Fleet, my grandfather and my namesake.  Additional programs for libraries include: reading classes, meeting places, book reviews, chess instructions, historical record keeping and the list goes on.

Library needs to be saved.  
 
 
End of the month stock market is down but my Chinese stock...rise


I'm bragging again about outperforming the market, but I must confess  it has to do with my investments in a few risky stock in China.  

Baidu (NYSE:BIDU)

Baidu (The Google of China) is up 100% since last July.  Today while my other stocks fall Baidu is up 3.57%.  Why is Baidu outperforming Yahoo and Google today.  Mainly because China keeps its market closed to Google, Facebook, Yahoo. Baidu is up over 75% in the last year.  Baidu is selling for $197 as of yesterday, I was in at  $82.25

Qihoo 360 Technology LTD (NYSE:QIHU)


Qihoo is a software firm that deals with mobile technology.   Up 500% in two years.  I got in at $32 it's selling at $90.56 as of yesterday.  Gained over 100% for me.  This Chinese stock has been great for keeping my portfolio above the market currently.

The market return this year is around 18% and I'm up 2% over market.
 
 
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Mending Fences Was A Bold Plan

What I'm learning is that I stretch myself too thin.  My wife and I are putting in over 30 volunteer hours apiece to keep Mending Fences program alive.  It's really starting to take its toll on our spare time plans.

We had to quit film school, because we just don't have the energy to put in eight hours a day, keep up with all the film requirements and go to school from 6-9 at night.on a Wednesday.  I'm searching my brain to calculate a smarter plan for doing what we do and can't find any.

Highland Ridge Community Development Group created Mending Fences Program

It was my wife's idea, but as president of Highland Ridge Community Development Corporation (HRCDC ) www.highlandridgecdc.org we voted on the program to help our low income, Vets, disabled, seniors homeowners we thought we and we have.  With over 40 volunteers mostly kids from four churches, we have taken on blight in one neighborhood.  The local newspaper has given us great coverage.  However, the project management falls on the shoulders of myself and my wife.  We are retirees and it seems like we are the only folks that have the time.

One house at a time

A few days ago, after cleaning, painting the entire house for a vet, we noticed that the toilet we replaced was leaking.  The water went through the second floor onto the first floor and we took several hours to mop up all the water.  Turned off the water to the toilet and life became a little more stressful.  After the plumber came, the estimate was over $1900 and again we had to turn to our sponsors and asked for more money.  One bank sponsor was only interested in fixing the porch.  We could use any money to fix the bathroom.  We hope to have the problem fixed by Monday.

Volunteer Groups fail most of the time

A commitment like Mending Fences requires several meetings, traveling, money for lunches, dinners, and the talent to build relationships.  I"m working seven days a week, with no end in sight.  The real question, will I continue on this path for another year.  Volunteer groups, organizations fail when those on the board, or involve lack the passion.  It's really about passion.  So, the organizations has to rely on a few to get 99% of the work done.  Burnout rate among active members are high and without a   paid administrator, organizations compiled of volunteers are doom to fail.



 
 
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Coming home and finding our little kitten Ashlyn purring at the door is heartwarming.  She does it because she misses us throughout the day.  No she doesn't need food in her bowl it is full or water, she just want to sit in our lap and play with us.

By playing I mean running all over the house and wanting us to chase her or just engage with her.  And if we find ourselves a little tired, she will come to us.  

Ashlyn is a foster kitten, but we love her just the same.  We don't dismiss her because she is a foster kitten we take care of for the Humane Society, but love her as a family member that we can't live without.

Yesterday, we put on her collar and took her with us in the car.  She's getting comfortable being outside, even though most sounds frighten her.  She will run in between our legs, she has been in a shelter most of her life, so new environments bewilder her, but she is learning to adapt.  Very slowly.

Today she is just resting in the rocking chair looking cute.

 
 
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I really enjoy my life with my beautiful wife.  Tonight we went out to dinner, spent a few dollars, had a great bottle of wine, and celebrated our life together.  We discussed that we have had more adventures with each other than any other person in our lives.

We have built houses, moved to a foreign country, made films together, enjoyed working and building a non-profit organization, but most of all, enjoyed each other as independent adults who have had a successful careers before meeting each other.

Lucky, blessed, doesn't really cover it.  To celebrate this day as an anniversary we just remind ourselves how much we care for each other and pledge to never, never take each other for granted.

 
 
Yahoo Closes Down Yahoo-Contributor Branch


I write for Yahoo.com and get my biggest paycheck from them.  All Yahoo contributors were notified the other day that as of the end of July, Yahoo will no longer have a pay for hire writing division.  It' just not profitable for them and they have had to make some adjustments.

Where does this leave me?


I'm glad I wasn't paying major bills with money or counting on it for vacations, but it does take some money out of my pocket.  Last year I was averaging over $200 a month.  It keep me in dinning out money, but this year my average has dropped to a few dollars a month.  If this is any indication what is happening at Yahoo, then I understand.

Has the writing at Yahoo been top notch?


Let's start with being critical of my own writing, it could use some improvement.  I'm not turning out 10-15 articles a week or month, because I love doing tons of research and by time I get around to writing it, especially in the financial area, it's outdated.  It can take up to seven days to be published on Yahoo and that's a lifetime in the stock market business.  

Some of the content for Yahoo, according to my friends, is inaccurate, mis-quoted, bad grammar, etc.  They get turned off and go elsewhere for material information.  Again commenting on my own writing, I really try my best for accuracy with my facts.  I read other blogs, essays, which are in-depth and learn from them.

How will I survive?


Writing for other outlets will be the answer.  I'm searching for other writing hubs and begin writing for them.  I also plan on pushing my books a little more.  I rarely write articles to link my books to, but it something I will begin to work on.

It's never been about trying to make tons of money writing this blog or even working for Yahoo.  I write about what I'm interested in which is a lot.  On Yahoo, I have opinion pieces, cartoons, a short story and various essays on weight-lifting, stock market and thinking like Da Vinci.

Here are my recent articles on Yahoo.  Read and enjoy because after this month, you won't find me there.

First Person: How I Sold My Rental Property Above Marketplace

http://voices.yahoo.com/first-person-sold-rental-property-above-marketplace-12515647.html


Las Lajas, Panama: A Well-Kept Secret

http://voices.yahoo.com/las-lajas-panama-well-kept-secret-12405283.html
 
 
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Taking time out of our celebration to thank those who have served and are serving.


Last night I watched as our neighbors set off tons of fireworks.  They sparkled in the sky, lit up the night but I'm reminded to pause through all the celebration and I want to thank those who served so that we can have this freedom.

My father was a War World II vet.  He was a Navy man and he didn't talk about his service much, he did say he grew up.  My uncle was an army man and he remembers freeing Germany.  I didn't serve in any military force but had the opportunity to be taught lessons from my father and my uncle.  The self-discipline my father got from Navy paved the way for his successful business and family life. I was rewarded by having him as a father and role model.

Those that serve thank you.  It's taking you away from your family and friends.  You give up a lot to keep our borders free from our enemies and some of you have paid with your life.  Thank You, you are not forgotten on this day.  

 
 
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My parents were volunteers I was not.


My mother always encouraged me to give back to the community.  Since I was blessed with so many opportunities it was my responsibility to serve others.  I thought that was just a crazy idea. In Los Angeles, I was working my way into the music business, acting business, any business that was paying my bills, I didn't have the time nor the motive for community service.

You have to have a mission


My parents had a dream.  My father would create his own organization including mom as the first treasurer.  He wanted to change the poorest neighborhood and make it better.  From 1980-1993 my parents did exactly that.  They brought in over 4 million dollars in renovations and new homes.

What is your mission?  How are you defining your life?  It is just about yourself and what you can get?

What are you doing?  Are you waiting for government to do it for you?  What can you do today?


No, I wasn't a volunteer in Los Angeles, but when I retired I returned to my hometown and started to get involve.  This country needs you.  It needs people who care about their neighbors.  This country doesn't need more rhetoric it needs sweat, hard work, and commitment to the belief we are our brother's keeper.  Being poor shouldn't be an excuse for contempt or the poor, but Christ-like love for our community.  "Asked not, what your country can do for you, asked what you can do for your country", John F. Kennedy once said.  Is it true today?  What are you willing to do for your community/   Are you willing to help?

http://www.highlandridgecdc.org/mending-fences.html

 
 
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Franklin Roosevelt has 3522 Executive Orders: Yes Really!


Ronald Reagan had over 380 Executive Orders while George W. Bush had over 290, why are we questioning President Obama's mere 175?  This Congress is the worse I've seen in my life time.  I understand it's an election year, I understand we have to have opposite opinions but this is hate and no respect for the office.

The GOP is driving a civic wedge into the fabric of the American ideology. No one argues that we need functional government, but GOP have an no agenda.  I would love to see some or you voted out of office and that's happening to the Tea Party candidates.  You are being held accountable for what you do, but do something beside disagreeing on what the president  is doing.

Woodrow Wilson had 1803 executive orders, Dwight Eisenhower 381, let's move on.  If Congress was doing something, then they wouldn't have to be confronted with President Obama doing something for them.  Pass bills, present bills to the president, get on with doing the country's business.

 
 
Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) up 30% in one month.


Lately I've been writing about Twitter making a comeback.  Twitter stock has been taking off, even though its balance sheet still is showing red.  Twitter is selling at $39.50 as 4:19pm today. 

Twitter for me is a long-term investment.  I also have Facebook stock (NASDAQ:FB)   which has been up over 100% in the last year.  Mainly because it went down to $23 below its IPO offer around $43 where I purchased it.  I sold a few shares but keep my position in the market.

Why has Twitter rebounded?


40% of all Twitter users are in Asia.  The international market for Twitter is exploding even in China where there seems to be a lot of regulations.  The increase of mobile phones in poorer countries have rocketed interest in communications through phone applications.  The same technology that saved Facebook is working for Twitter.