Dean Clough

September 23, 2022

Portico Darwin: Carnac and I Are Back


Flag of Ukraine.jpg

Yeah, yeah, I know:  Portico, we thought you were going dark for 3 weeks, yet you rubbed our noses in your vacation glory.  My apologies, but I'm hopeful you found the information useful. 

I will tell you we loved discovering Lake Garda and especially Hotel Val di Sogno, as well as really enjoying Innsbruck.   And have I mentioned the Adler Mountain Lodge?  The Dolomites?  Just checking.

I did indeed stay away from the news, and I am thus almost a normal human being.  At least for now.  I still have yet to read a New York Times, or look at Twitter.   It feels good and I hope I can hold out a bit longer.

Let's see how the world has changed - or not - since Friday, September 2.  A warning:  as I went dark news-wise, for 3 weeks, there's no doubt I'll be missing some context in places.

OK, let's open the envelopes.

The Upcoming Vacation
Now:  anticipating it being Diamond Certified, with some travel snafus
Prediction:  Diamond Certified, with some travel snafus
Reality:  Diamond Certified, and we had the biggest travel snafu we've ever experienced.  Or am I whining about not having our bags for 6 days?  Shame on you, TAP Air Portugal - it was a complete and total failure, and a huge breach of the airline <-> passenger pact - a big part of which is not f'ing up someone's vacation or business trip.  And we were in a position to handle it about as well as one can - what about those that can't?

Now:  Ukraine is gaining an upper hand and there is talk of them re-taking Crimea
Prediction:  There will be a negotiated settlement
Reality:  I was just a smidge wrong.  Ukraine is still doing great.  But is Russia mobilizing 300,000 more troops and threatening thermonuclear war really that big of a deal?  Oh.

Now:  Legal troubles with NYC (business fraud), Georgia (election fraud), Feds (J6), Feds (theft of documents)
Prediction:  Indicted on taking top secret and other highly classified documents; I'll further predict that the whole truth will be shocking, even for Trump
Reality:  I am disgusted nothing has apparently happened.  But this is the one subject I avoided the most while away, and I may continue to do so for a while.  My fundamental belief remains that if Trump is not indicted, arrested, convicted, and seriously punished, we do not have a country any longer.  At least not one based upon the rule of law.

Now:  Essentially zero Republicans of any influence have fully denounced Trump and demanded his rightful indictment
Prediction:  At least one Republican that has real throw-weight will do so - or maybe more if what I say above about the shock of the whole truth proves correct
Reality:  See above, Trump.  Or have I missed something?

Now:  On the wane
Prediction:  Remains on the wane
Reality:  Looking good, although some maps I see of Europe are a tad concerning.  I will say I barely saw a mask over the course of our entire trip, and they were only required on the trains we took, and one flight segment, MUN - LHR.  The first chart is from The New York Times, the second, The San Francisco Chronicle.


But a shout-out to Ol' Purple Label, who got it again, but is now on the mend.  Hubby K. Helmsley Garfinkel?  It has not been confirmed nor denied.

Inflation/Interest Rates
Now:  Papa Joe is doing a great job - prices on many items are going down; the Fed poised to jack interest rates, higher, though
Prediction:  Inflation continues to fade and the Fed does one more 50 basis point hike in September, but that should do it for a while
Reality:  As inflation is impacted greatly by emotion, I am missing the context of the vibe while I was gone.  But I say, "Go Fed, Go".  I am glad I was wrong when I predicted only a 50 basis point hike, and am thrilled they did 75 yesterday.  I think it is the responsible thing to do; there's been far too much liquidity in the capital markets for far too long.  Or is that just what I overheard some smart Germans saying at the bar at the Hilton Munich Airport Tuesday night?

Papa Joe's Approval Rating
Now:  Per, 44%   
Prediction:  Per, 50%
Reality:  42%.  Not good.  God, we need some new, qualified people on the national stage.

All-Important Price of a Gallon of Gas
Now:  National average price for a gallon of gas, per   $3.80
Prediction:  National average price for a gallon of gas, per   $3.50
Reality:  $3.68.  Not as low as I had hoped.  But folks, it is FAR FAR FAR less than in Europe, and that's not inflation talking.  Gas taxes in Europe are superior in reflecting the macro costs of cars and roads to society.

The Incredibly Much More Important Price of a Share of VTHRX
Now:  $32.41
Prediction:  Fuck, I hope it's a lot lot lot higher
Reality:  $31.17.  I gotta cut down on the caviar.  But never the trips to Europe.

Now:  3,966
Prediction:  4,466
Reality:  3,758.  Ouch.

SF 49ers QB
Now:  Trey Lance
Prediction:  Jimmy Garoppolo
Reality:  Holy smokes, do I wish I had been wrong on this one.  Lance, of course, went down Sunday with a broken ankle, ending his season.  If The World's Most Handsome Man can stay healthy, it could be an interesting year.

SF Giants
Now:  a .500 team (at best) treading water
Prediction:  Worse - way worse
Reality:  Meh, but OMFG, Buster Posey is a principal partner and an owner of the team now?  That may be the biggest and best newsflash of them all.  P.S. the new photo book on this all-time great, "28", is very well done.


Huge shout-outs to all of you that had kind words to say about my recent Travel Guides.  10 seconds of seriousness:  I love writing.  I love traveling.  They're kind of our trip journals.  But I sincerely hope they're useful - even just one of them, one time, for one person.

And extra-special thanks to those of you that attempted to explain this advertisement, for a large (and quite upscale) hotel in Ortisei in The Dolomites:

"It's Family Time"?  I guess nothing says "family time" more than a pre-pubescent boy rubbing his mom down?

Last trip story (at least for now):  I boarded this same chairlift at Alpe di Siuisi a couple of days later, without Julie, for a hike. 

As I was sitting down on the chair, the old geezer attendant - in broken English - asked me where I was from.  I responded, and he shouted uphill to me "Have you ever been to Harris' Steakhouse?" 

True story.  It is, indeed, a very small world.

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.


For our big trips, and being the music obsessive I am, I create special playlists with new/different kinds of music, for us to enjoy in the hotel, etc.  I hope you'll give my Italy 2022 playlist a listen - there's some very good stuff, most of which I bet you have not heard. 

One last photo.  This was from our final full day - this past Saturday - in The Dolomites.  Which I already miss. 

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