Passive Income Update

Photo by Fab Lentz on Unsplash

Updating my journey on generating passive income from my retirement investments.

I’ve stopped posting about my various investments that I use to generate passive income because no one cares. Sure, they want to find out some ideas but there’s plenty of ideas to glean from StockTwits or Reddit forums. Right now everyone is focused on the meme stocks like $BB or $GME, but those are flashes in the pan. Just the normal noise in the market every day.

I’m doing pretty great for 2021.

I, on the other hand, have been steadily adding to my dividend income-producing stocks to help me generate monthly and quarterly income. The goal, as I’ve posted before is to generate enough monthly income once I reach 59 1⁄ 2 so I can retire early and just live off the dividends till I can withdraw from my 401k and live happily ever after.

The good news? I’m getting closer to critical mass, or what’s often called Coast FIRE.

Coast FIRE

Coast FIRE is not a forest fire along a coast. The FIRE part is short for Financial Independence / Retire Early. The Coast part means that you’ve amassed enough seed money that left along will generate enough money for you to live when you retire into perpetuity. You’ve essentially set yourself up for the future. Here’s a handy Coast Fire calculator I use.

Master the money and your life will follow…

The concept is really easy to understand and you can get there faster if you start early. I know, not everyone HAS the luxury of investing money, but you can start small if you’re young. This is one of the big reasons why I’ve opened up custodial IRA accounts for my kids. They’re busy earning money at summer jobs and they can put that cash into an IRA and invest in ETFs. My daughter is long $XLV and my son is busy evaluating the market. Not bad for a 16 and 14-year-old.

If the world doesn’t die in a fiery death (aka climate change) and there’s no social unrest, my kids are setting themselves up for a Coast FIRE a lot earlier than me. I think that’s a good thing because who wants to keep trading their life for money? Master the money and your life will follow, don’t be a slave to money.

How am I doing?

I’m doing pretty great for 2021. I’m having the best year so far for dividends, surpassing my record as early as May of this year. I’m averaging $400 per month in dividend income that I just reinvest. Most of the biggest gains I get are from RYLD and QYLD, which are higher risks but I have 9 years to ride out any market fluctuations.

Am I on target? Not quite. For someone in my income range and the quality of life I expect to continue to live on, that $400 per month has to be closer to $5,000 per month. On top of that, my wife wants to retire at the same time too so that number is probably closer to $10,000 per month or $120,000 per year. We should get a boast in this after I reach 62 and start collecting social security.

Still, $120,000 per year is really high considering our house would be paid off and the kids out of college and (hopefully) on their own. We haven’t made up our mind yet but moving out of New Jersey is definitely something we’re considering, preferably to a state with low taxes or no state income tax.

What would be a great interim goal is to generate enough monthly dividend income where I could match my future social security income? I don’t know the exact number that that would be, probably somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000.

Building up a dividend income to $2,000 a month seems very achievable for the short-term.

I’m “stream of consciousness” writing this because nothing is clear yet. In the meantime I spend my time just pouring money in my 401k and adding to our dividend stocks when I can. And that’s the best thing I feel I can do right now and wait for the picture to get clearer over the next few years.


Originally published at https://neuralmarkettrends.com on July 1, 2021.

Man Up, You Sissy!

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Boys don’t cry — and other poisons we feed young men.

A week ago I read something from Joe Duncan that managed to articulate what I’ve been thinking about for a long time.

It’s about the current state of masculine culture and sexuality. I’ve been thinking about toxic masculinity, red pills, and phrases such as “man card,” or “man up,” for many years.

I found his post refreshing because it’s a step in the right direction to deconstructing and questioning what it means to be a Man.

…you can act like a man! — Godfather I

I don’t have all the answers on what it means to be a man, much less the right ones, but the search for its meaning is a noble pursuit for all of us to chase.

All of us. Men and Women.

If we don’t reflect on this, our socio-cultural pressures will define it for us, and that is what I believe is the root of the problem.

The men in our society are a product of our values and our norms. Society has created generations of men that are ill-equipped to handle emotions, relationships, and changing roles in society. They’ve been emotionally stunted at an early age and struggle to process emotional trauma healthily.

How did we, as men, get here?

Crying is for girls

There isn’t a man alive today who hasn’t heard the phrase “crying is for girls” or some derivation of it. It was imprinted on me, at an early age, by my friends, parents, and television that crying was a sign of weakness.

It was what girls do and therefore, girls were weak. Boys are not girls so we were supposed to be strong and not cry. That’s how the logic went in our underdeveloped brains.

Nowhere did we ever address the fact that crying, feeling, and processing pain (physical and emotional) is a human thing, not central to just females but to males as well.

We are taught that when your pet dies, don’t cry. When that fastball hits you in the gut, suck it up and don’t cry. Anything that’s makes you feel weak and vulnerable you push deep inside you and ’suck it up.’ It goes down deep inside us and where we hope it atrophies and dies.

In the end, we never learn the coping mechanisms to handle these types of emotions.

Man up and lay down the law.

Any show of vulnerability is quickly squashed by our peers. We look to our Fathers for guidance and they respond in the way they were taught to respond by telling us “boys don’t cry.”

We look to them and learn their behaviors, we learn from his friends that feminine men or ‘the gays’ are weak, and calling them a “sissy la la” is not just normal but acceptable. It is not.

We hear things like: Don’t be different. Toughen up! Don’t be a sissy! Don’t be weak!

It’s everywhere, around us, and it’s got to stop.

Man Up

Man card. Grow a pair! Man up! Don’t be a pussy. These phrases are meant to motivate but they don’t. They hurt, they cut, they make you bleed, and they only serve to reinforce the negative emotional responses we’ve been conditioned to respond with when they’re hurtled at you.

Years ago I was involved with a woman in a non-traditional type of relationship. We had been together for more than half a year when I introduced her to my Mother. Unfortunately, the two got off on the wrong foot right away and there was much tension between them.

Minor fights broke out immediately. My Mother, who can be domineering at times, didn’t like my girlfriend one bit and she made it known in no uncertain terms.

At its core, masculinity is not toxic but it can easily be perverted.

One morning I got a call from my girlfriend at work. She was enraged. She and my mother had a major blowout. I tried to diffuse the situation but my questions to understand what happened only made her angrier. It was then she said something that cut me like a knife, she said: “You need to Man Up and lay down law with your Mother.”

Man up and lay down the law. Wow.

I was speechless when she uttered that and when I recomposed myself I said, “I have to go, we’ll talk about this later.” I needed to get off the phone, I couldn’t think. She cut me deep to my bone. She hit all my ‘be a man’ insecurities like a millstone dropped against an egg. I was crushed.

A day later I broke up with her.

I sometimes think back to that day and wonder if I could’ve handled things differently. I think about her frustration, anger, and her fights with my Mother and I wonder if she felt helpless in the situation. I think about my Mother too, how she felt in all this.

Granted, there were red flags raised in this relationship long before this incident but was her ‘man up’ comment a cry for help? Or was it pure manipulation?

I’ll never know but I still carry the scar she gave me to this day, 24 years later.

Pick Up Artists and Red Pill Wankers

Years ago I listened to Neil Strauss’s book The Game. I found it to be an interesting story and a look into the lives of modern-day pick-up artists (PUA). I can see how the stories of guys picking up women, having sex with them, and living the rock star life as quite the seductive siren call for men.

It hits all the pleasure centers of what society tells us men should be. Be tough! Get laid — a lot! Be an asshole first! Show no emotions, or at least manipulate them! Say whatever is necessary to get a woman in bed and then move on. Be a modern-day Casanova. Yadda yadda yadda.

It never dug into the emotional cost of relationships these PUA’s incurred because they never had to pay them. And there always is a cost and price to pay. Of course, the cost was excused by some psychobabble that spawned the red pill wanker movement.

Upon reflection, that book merely reinforced what is now known as toxic masculinity. At its core, masculinity is not toxic but it can easily be perverted.

… we need to work toward liberation and the truth.

Remember that Gillette commercial from a few years ago? All my male friends were angry at it. They were all like “ not all men!” They felt attacked! How dare this company make them out to be creeps, bullies, and possible rapists!

Watch it again and really think about its message. All it’s saying to us men is this: don’t be jerks.

Think of the golden rule, treat people the way you want to be treated. We men have it in our power to break these cycles because our sons will be men one day, and what kind of men are we raising? That’s it. Nothing damning about you, just work toward a better you.

The very fact that this commercial hit so many men’s insecurities IS because of how they were brought up. The part in the commercial where the line of men grilling repeating “boys will be boys” like robots was a beautiful metaphor for the fucked up society we built. We’re churning out toxic men like an assembly line, and shoving them down our throats like mobile phones.

It’s getting so bad these days that women, transgender people, non-cis people routinely look over their shoulders when out in public because it’s so freaking dangerous. They’re scared of that one man that mistook a smile or a hello for an invitation.

Is this the world we wanted to build? I hope not, but it’s the one we have right now.

How many deaths have occurred because a man can’t figure out how to handle his emotions and then shoots up massage parlors in Atlanta or stabs a woman to death because she declined a date? How many deaths have happened because a man can’t reconcile romantic feelings for another man?

Life is not black and white, it’s shades of gray and it’s color.

The simple thing is that many men don’t know how to deal with this. We don’t know how to adapt to the changing roles in the world. We don’t know how to handle empowered women. We think feminism is an attack on our very core of being a man. We don’t know how to respond because every answer to any cognitive dissonance is ‘suck it up, sissy boy.

What do we end up doing? Some of us search for answers, some of us look inward. Some of us look for codes of conduct, frames of reference to help guide us, and some us swallow red pills.


One derivation of toxic masculinity is the red pill wankers as I call them. These are the (mostly) men that claim to have figured out how relationships work. They believe it’s all driven by Nature and ‘bio-mechanics.’ They say that all the answers YOU seek are in Nature and that we can’t hide from it.

They believe that women select mates based on a man’s ability to provide them with resources and their status in the tribe. Women will attach themselves to a high-status man so their offspring have a better chance of survival.

Men on the other hand are expendable. They need to build up their status to be worth anything and when they do, they look for young pretty women to make babies with. Since men make like 300 million sperm a day, it’s ok for him to go and find many pretty young women to make babies with. It’s what Nature wants after all!

Of course some red pill wanker will comment on this post about how I got it all wrong but I find these ideas to be too simplistic and too business-like. It sure sounds like a corporation came up with this idea, doesn’t it? Take ’Woman’ with slot ‘A’ and features ‘XX’, and ‘Man’ with tab ‘B’ and features ‘XY’, put them together on Tinder, gather data, and breed a new consumer.

Nature is complex. It’s not so simple and it’s YOUR frame of reference and how YOU view the world. That’s your system, not mine. Consider what we are learning about gender constructs and intersex people. Things are not simple. Life is not black and white, it’s shades of gray and its color. It’s both a particle and wave. Life, sex, gender, and all that are beautifully complex.

As it should be.

Of course, these red pill wanker ideas align with a lot of what society taught us as teenagers. It fits with the Ayn Rand thinkers and the Rational Egoists. I grew up thinking that women don’t enjoy sex, it was something they did to keep a money-earning man around. Classic gender roles were to be enforced and the ‘no wife of mine is going to work’ 1950’s mentality was something to aspire to.

Wrong, we need to work toward liberation and the truth.

What does it mean to be a Man?

That’s a question for the ages and there is no right answer. The answer I like the most is ‘you need to figure it out for yourself.’

Since our birth, we’ve been constantly bombarded with how to be men from external forces that we’ve never considered the question of what does being a man mean to me?

We can’t hide from what are. A feeling, thinking, human that is a part of this world and each other.

The inward search for meaning is perhaps the hardest thing you can do because it’s damn scary. It forces you to unpack the buried emotions and trauma and exposes them for you. They’re laid bare right when you might not be emotionally able to process them correctly.

Years ago I was in a group that met with a Brazilian researcher. He studied how trauma is processed by men and women. A woman commented that ‘we men can compartmentalize trauma and move on from it a lot easier than women.’

He quickly said, no. We all feel trauma and we all suffer from its effects, it’s just women have better mechanisms to process it better than men. Society taught men to push it down inside. The strong silent type man is a time bomb waiting to blow.

So you push your emotions deep down inside, where no one can see. You keep it down there with all your might and it just sits there and festers, until one day it explodes. It explodes at the dinner table. It explodes when sexual advances are rebuffed. It explodes when a religious structure is at odds with who we love and have sex with. It can explode just about anywhere there is an emotional interaction where a man can’t process it healthily.

How do we stop this? How do we cope? How do we heal?

The journey for us men is to look inward first before we can effectuate any external changes. We can’t hide from what are. A feeling, thinking, human that is a part of this world and each other.

We owe it to our partners, our loved ones, and most importantly to ourselves to heal. We owe it to the world to cleave ourselves away from the cancer of toxic masculinity and raise our sons to be more than robots.

Yes, we can still like doing ‘man stuff’ but we have to hold each other to a higher standard. We can be there for one another and walk together onto the world stage as men.

“Truth is not what you want it to be; it is what it is, and you must bend to its power or live a lie.” — Miyamoto Musashi.

Tree Swallows in the Morning

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The water feels warm against the cool air. I take off my shirt and climb down the ladder into the murky lake. I feel the sensation of the air and water rise up my legs, my swim shorts, and my chest.

The water pushes away any last remnants of sleep from my body. I let go the ladder and slip under the water. My head comes up, water rolling over me as I wipe my eyes. I look across the lake and see a tree swallow, skimming the water, hunting for insects.

feathered blue bomber 
dipping low and fast 
reflections too slow

I practice my breast stroke and then my backstroke. I have a long way to go to master them. I see the tree swallow disappear into the dock, bringing food it caught to its nest. My head dips below the water again.

mother, father 
your life becomes mine 
empty nest

I climb up the ladder and onto the floating dock. I walk over to where I saw the bird disappear and listen intently. Soon I hear the faint peeping sound of chicks, hidden deep in the plastic dock. I see a swallow fly straight to the sounds, open its wings to slow down, and disappear in a small hole.

Silence.

abandoned nest
spring sun casts shadows 
hidden bird sings

Love Poems of Devotion

Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

hot kiss
in
a
cold
room


her screams
of passion
inspire
birds to
sing


the race
to exhaustion
or cumming
is a good
one


your tits
are divine
in my
cold
hands


my shirt
barely covers
your bottom — 
delicious ass
yields to my touch


mother and father
exchange
sly smiles
from across
the table


outside
the snow deepens –
we hold each other
closer
naked under sheets


two lovers
apart
dream of
coming together
again…and again…


she brushes
her hair aside — 
“zip my dress?”
her neck
begs for my kiss


on top — 
her hair falls
over my face
thighs
grip tight


tea for you
coffee for me.
sipping
our eyes meet
over the rim


she casts
her magic
over my body
one spell
at a time


she shudders — 
my kisses
wind down her
back
slowly…


musk
sweat
touch
taste
nature’s gift


Note for the readers: Gogyohka is a 5 line poem that’s often spoken in a single breath. Slightly more than a haiku, just as terse, but meant to visually striking. It’s a very liberating form of poetry created by Japanese poet Enta Kusakabe.

How the Codes of Karate Can Guide Your Life

Photo by Thao Le Hoang on Unsplash

Simple wisdom you can put into practice today for a better tomorrow

I practice Isshinryu Karate, better known as ‘whole heart style.’ It’s this ‘whole heart style’ business that I want to share with you today. Simply put, the whole heart nature of this style of Karate seeks unity with the Self and seeks our place in the cosmic fabric of Life and the Universe.

I will be sharing our 8 Codes of Karate with you, a simple philosophy that you can use to find unity with your Self.

#1 — A person’s heart is the same as Heaven and Earth

Eastern philosophies always seek to understand how we are woven into the fabric of the universe. As individuals, we often feel alone in this great universe, even if we are part of a family or in a relationship. What the first code of Karate tells us is that we must first seek unity with the Self.

There will be times to rest and times to run.

It’s the same as conventional sayings such as “follow your heart” or “there is a place in my heart” for something. Once you have found your personal unity, you become the same Heaven and Earth. You are woven into the fabric of the universe and you will feel at peace.

#2 — The blood circulating is similar to the Moon and the Sun

Similar to the first code above, in Nature, there are ebbs and flows. The tides come in and the tides go out. There’s a time to sow and a time to reap. You should know that you are the same. There will be times to rest and times to run.

…there will be times for you to fight or take a stand…

Knowing that energy, relationships, and life go through this process of ebb and flow will let you ‘swim with the tide’ as opposed to fighting it. You must not fight it but succumb to it and all will be ok.

#3 — The manner of drinking and spitting is either hard or soft

The third code of Karate is similar to the second one. If you haven’t guessed it by now, most of the codes build upon one another. This code highlights the Yin-Yang relationship.

In Karate, the Yang part (masculine) is often associated with punching, kicking, and being aggressive. The Yin part (feminine) is associated with blocking, moving out of the way, or redirecting energy.

Once we become unbalanced, we fall metaphorically.

This is the same in life, there will be times for you to fight or take a stand, and other times to block and move out of the way.

#4 — A person’s unbalance is the same as a weight

This code is much deeper than what you read on its surface. Yes, there’s a lot of balancing we must do when we execute moves in Karate, but your unbalance can be much more than standing on one foot.

A person’s unbalance can be things like overeating, speaking too much, or yielding to temptation too much. Once we become unbalanced, we fall metaphorically. If we eat too much junk food (unbalance), we become fat (weight).

Wisdom and happiness are not always black and white and it’s ok to be move through the gray colors.

This code asks you to strive for balance in your life. It’s ok to eat Twinkies if you like them, just don’t do it every day! Find those things that weigh you down and adjust your balance.

#5 — The body should be able to change position at any time

In Karate we are told to move. If you make a strike or parry, then move out of the way. The same holds true in life. Similar to Code #2 and #3 above, life is going to change and you need to adjust accordingly. The same can be said for your thoughts and beliefs.

Action speaks louder than words.

If new information or life shows you something different, you must not be too rigid but keep an open mind for new possibilities. Wisdom and happiness are not always black and white and it’s ok to move through the gray colors.

#6 — The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself

One of the best moments in Karate is when your opponent makes a mistake and you see an opening to strike. You don’t think about it, you just act. Simply put, you strike. This Code is much more than just punching, it can be applied to all facets of your life.

Take the time to look at problems from all sides…

Opportunities come around every so often and there will be times when you must seize them or they’re gone forever. Offered a new position at work that you always wanted? Say Yes! Want to tell your significant other how you really feel about them? Do it.

Action speaks louder than words.

#7 — The eyes must see all sides

Code #7 builds on several of the other Codes, especially #5. Sometimes things are not as they seem and we can be confused or mislead. Take the time to look at problems from all sides and see if it really is a problem or a lie.

There are many people in this world that speak about things that are not true…

Another conventional bit of wisdom would be ‘walk a mile in someone’s shoes.’ Let’s face it, we all have prejudices that we must overcome, and understanding them is the first step to seeing a person or a problem in its true light.

#8 — The ears must hear in all directions

The last Code is similar to #5 and #7. You must carefully listen and seek to understand the true nature of a problem before deciding. In our hyperactive world, this can be very hard to do but it’s best to listen first before speaking or doing.

…do 50 pushups, 50 crunches, and 50 squats.

Expanding your listening ability to 360 degrees can help understand what a person is saying and if they really mean what they say. There are many people in this world that speak about things that are not true but in a manner which many people believe to be true.

TL;DR

If you have just skimmed this article without reflecting on the codes, then do 50 pushups, 50 crunches, and 50 squats.

If you have read the Codes of Karate and reflected on them, do 50 pushups, 50 crunches, and 50 squats.

Coffee in the City

Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash

The tables were half full on this rare summer morning in the city. It was cool and clear, but the air warned of a hot and sweltering day to come. My coffee was black and I sipped it waiting for my croissant to show up, all from a wobbly chair and table.

I’ve always come to this coffee place when I’m in the city. People streamed past each other on the sidewalk, oblivious to me and my coffee. My croissant showed up the same time as he did, a typical New York City hipster with his EarPods, skinny blue jeans, and groomed beard.

He was everything I hated about men from his generation, a typical douche bag.

He stared at his phone, swiping right and left with his thumb, unaware of the activity around him when she showed up. She caught my eye as every woman does. She wore a yellow summer dress with small red roses printed on it. She had many tattoos on her right arm and her long auburn hair hung over her shoulders. There were no pleasantries, no kiss, only awkwardness.

They started to argue. I could make out bits and pieces of the violent epitaphs they hurled at each other. This was a standard lover’s quarrel.

The fight ended as it began, suddenly and abruptly. She raised both hands with middle fingers extended and thrust them violently at him, turned and walked away. He looked unfazed by all this and walked into my coffee shop.

I wondered about what had unfolded before me. Two young lovers in the heart of a city, coming together and tearing apart. My guess was they met on a phone app or at a roof top party. Him trying to impress her with witty lines and his style, and she being coquettish but signaling her receptiveness.

How they ended up together was a mystery to me, the question that gnawed at me was why?

Was this a simple hookup, a way for both of them to scratch that itch? Or was this something more? Where and when did it go wrong? Did he miss a date? Did she say a careless word?

Tis a shame, I thought.

I never did see them again, but I wished happy endings for them both as I shoved the last bit of croissant in my mouth and went to work.

Love and sex are both strange allies and enemies, too bad you don’t know which side you’re on.

The Meme Stocks GME, AMC, and BB

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

The Meme Stocks are back with vengence. Will the faces be ripped off retail investors?

I’m still in awe watching retail traders en masse push these stocks to highs or even new highs. It all started with Gamestock ( GME) a few months ago and I was lucky enough to ride the wave for two days and GTFO. My wife wanted a piece of the action, despite my warnings, and bought a few shares at $350. It went to $500 in pre-market trading the next day and then promptly collapsed.

Over the past few trading sessions, GME has been moving higher. My wife is eyeing an exit if it hits around the $350 for essentially a ‘scratch loss.’ If it gets there.

If it gets there she should consider herself lucky considering how many faces GME ripped off in February. No matter how many ‘stonks go up’ and ‘stick it to the Hedge Fund guys’ retail traders there are, you can’t escape the fundamentals. Maybe in the short term, you can be divorced from reality but in the long run? My analysis shows that the median value of GME is about $13.

Take a look at this week’s retail trader du jour, AMC.

The big boys got caught in a nasty short squeeze here and to be honest, it’s kind of fun to watch. Still, though, AMC has an $11.7 billion market capitalization today. Compare that to just over a year ago when it was $225 million.

Crazy, right?

My analysis shows that AMC’s median share price is about $10, so $50+ share price is nuts. Utter freaking nuts, but the market wants and the market gets, right?

What about BlackBerry ( BB)? How’s that doing? Lately, there’s a bit of a move higher as people start piling into the meme stocks again.

Right now my share price analysis points to a median price of about $9, so at $15 it’s not quite double that yet. It sure sounds like a deal, doesn’t it (j/k)?

The thing is with these meme economy stocks is that there will be bagholders. Once the meme story is over there will be too many retail investors that will have lost life savings, stimulus checks, and gotten too heavy into debt.

I completely get it, it’s a thrill to ride this high and I sound just like an old man yelling at the kids to ‘get off my lawn’ but there’s no fun in blowing up. Believe, I’ve blown up plenty of personal trading accounts and had to go back to working jobs I didn’t like.

Stay safe out there…


Originally published at https://neuralmarkettrends.com on June 3, 2021.