I missed the Stock Market crash in March 2020

And I saw it coming.

I’m going out on a limb here with the following and this is purely my own personal actions. I’m posting this now as a journal and to compare with in the near future.

My ignorance of “the market” prevented me from doing three main things. I was able to address one of them in time, by doubling my contributions to my 401(k).

Prognosis for Ignorance 1: Cured

“Buying IN? During a down market?”

Yes. Let’s begin with some mindset.

If you’re only in the market day in and day out then these crashes drive you completely bananas.

If you’re in the market long term though then these crashes are awesome buying opportunities.


Because the market has always recovered to new highs and beyond, it recovered from a Civil War, a global war, a Great Depression, another global war, multiple regional wars, intense speculative bubbles, a housing crash that had never before happened in all of history, recessions ……

Therefore these crashes are sales periods, discounted entry points to buy and buy and buy … and HOLD.

Related reading: https://amzn.to/3s8li1F The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
(These are affiliate links to books I’ve read to help with my personal market training. There will be a list at the end.)

“But DAMMIT which stock do you pick!?!?!?” Answering this question was my second correction of ignorance. So, yeah, which stock?


Related reading: https://amzn.to/3HptIIf, The Simple Path to Wealth by J L Collins.

A group of stocks is far better. These are called index funds and they take many forms. I’ve chosen to work with mutual funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). The main difference I’ve found between the two is that mutual funds pay dividends and capital gains while ETFs seem to only pay dividends. If one is working with a tax deferred account (think non-Roth 401k/IRA) then either type is fine. But for a taxable account the ETF is better as you won’t get tagged by capital gains distributions when the mutual funds rebalance. I’ve chosen “all three”.

All three? Yes :D. I have my work 401k (I use the available Roth option), a personal self-directed Roth account and the typical brokerage account, also self-directed.

While Apple (AAPL) makes a good case for being a single stock investment I’ve chosen instead to go with Vanguard’s mutual fund VTSAX in my 401k and sometimes VFIAX, along with their equivalent ETFs, VTI and VOO in my Roth and brokerage accounts. The 401k has no ETF options. I chose ETFs for my self directed accounts as they provide flexibility in when they can be traded.

VTSAX/VTI is a total market fund and VFIAX/VOO is a fund designed to mimic the S&P 500.

There is sometimes a third fund, VIGAX/VUG, that mimics the NASDAQ, but also mimics its high highs and low lows. That one makes me a little crazy ….

The fun part is that AAPL is a big part of any of those tickers, so, hey, you have some AAPL anyway ūüėÄ

In my 401k I was originally contributing to one of Vanguard’s retirement date funds, the furthest one out since those are considered the most aggressive, which means they consist mostly of stocks (vs bonds, etc). As they age they rebalance toward the less active stuff, like bonds.

As I cured my ignorance I came to recognize that the target funds didn’t meet my personal investing goals. Fortunately VTSAX and VFIAX are available in my 401k plan options.

Prognosis for Ignorance 2: Cured


Ignorance 3. Not knowing that 401k plans have a money-market ‘fund’. The one in my Vanguard plan is: Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund VMFXX.

Yep, just a plain old savings account, and one to which you can contribute directly.

“What good is that? I have that in my bank account.” Yeah, same here, but that money doesn’t go into the 401k.

In another place on the website the fund is labeled by it’s true meaning:


In Feb 2020, when I saw the Fed was about to mess up the market, doubling my 401k contribution was a wise decision. Even better though would have been to quickly reallocate my 401k balance to the money market fund and buy back in during the crash. I would have improved my position by about 30% with no additional principal needed. In my opinion, this tactic is only plausibly effective when the Fed forecasts it will be meddling with the market.

And now the Fed is meddling again, ostensibly to fix the problem it had itself created, but whatev …..

I had reallocated my balance to the money market fund in mid January and spared myself some of the downturn.
(My gut (aka the Holy Spirit) told me to get out in mid December. But I got greedy, ‘let it go up a little more’ and got hit with some of the loss.)

Since then I’ve been contributing directly to the money market fund, to build my cash position for the mid March timeframe when the Fed announces the actual rate change BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY that it will be cutting it’s quantitative easing. The addict withdrawal of the market will present an excellent opportunity to buy back in. My gut is telling me to live thru the downs AND the ups on the way to that meeting, to hold steady in the cash account.

“But you don’t KNOW the Fed will taper.”

Well, they did announce that intent and the Fed created an impossible position for itself (and us, but whatev …). I’m highly confident the Fed will make a change that will affect the market bigly.

At that point I’ll buy back in with the full balance.

Prognosis for Ignorance 3: Cured


https://amzn.to/3s8li1F The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. I even bought a hardcover copy for my den library

https://amzn.to/3HptIIf The Simple Path to Wealth by J L Collins.

https://amzn.to/3IXCRZ2 Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings by Kenneth L Fisher

https://amzn.to/3s8T5rw Why Stocks Go Up and Down by WIlliam Pike

https://amzn.to/3gfcEsn The New Buffettology: The Proven Techniques for Investing Successfully in Changing Markets That Have Made Warren Buffett the World’s Most Famous Investor by Mary Buffett

https://amzn.to/3ricsz8 Security Analysis: The Classic 1940 Edition 2nd Edition, by Benjamin Graham

https://amzn.to/3oiuWgX The Triumph of Value Investing: Smart Money Tactics for the Postrecession Era by Janet Lowe


TIWIR- SAUCER: Savage Planet by Stephen Coonts


In this installment of This Is What I Read I present SAUCER: Savage Planet by Stephen Coonts.

I’ve always known Coonts as a military writer and have read several of his books. ¬†This was something I picked up on a random visit to Barnes & Noble.

The Saucer series brings science fiction to the forefront and Savage Planet represents the third book, bringing a conclusion to the series and the primary characters; Rip Cantrell, Charley (Charlotte) Pine and Egg Cantrell.  Coonts uses a near-human alien, Adam Solo, marooned on Earth for over 1,000 years, to bring the primary characters to their respective destinies.

With so many reviews out there for this novel I’ll take a different tack and analyze some of it’s structure. ¬†There is sufficient information on our characters in this novel where it can be a standalone read, which was fortunate¬†since B&N didn’t have the first two titles of the series lol.

Coonts begins with Adam Solo and gradually uses his history on Earth to take our heroes around in one, of two, recovered saucers to secure areas to avoid two selfishly ambitious pharmacy moguls and the US government itself, as Solo waits for a starship with his fellow aliens.

There was much more introspection written into Solo and I found myself far more interested in him than the main characters.  I could see how he was important to the lives of the mains as well as the plot, visitors from outer space meet the President, but somewhat lamented the fact that he was secondary in the storyline.  Solo was the adverb, the pronoun, the conjunction that propelled the story along. (In a blog post Coonts does hint at possible stories with Solo as the main character)

On a related note, and this is something I see in many novels, we don’t get too deep into any of the characters. ¬†Perhaps that happened in the first two novels but again, I’ve seen this in many novels. ¬†Maybe it’s done to fit the book into a word or page count …

An example I can provide off the top of my head is the book Starship Troopers. ¬†It’s just way too short. ¬†You ¬†really start to get into it about 3/4 of the way in …. then it just ends.

Still, Saucer is a good story I give it a rating of 4/5.

If you wonder what I consider deep character development, my personal standard for getting to know a character is Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, but that is a novel where the character we get to see inside of is the main character.

Apple Macbook 12 Retina 2016 review


I’m typing on a MacBook 12 Retina 2016 … and I like it. ūüėÄ

With an iPad Mini I wrote about 40,000 words thumb typing on the split keyboard and I was actually ok with that. ¬†But I was always looking for the right physical keyboard to add to the Mini. ¬†I tried two but in the end it was iOS that ended the Mini’s run as a content creation tool.

So I went with a cheap Dell 3531.

I knew what I really wanted though:  an iPad-ish sized machine with a physical keyboard and glorious battery life, but not iOS.  For a long time I had my eye on the Dell XPS 13.

The perfect combination finally appeared in the Macbook 12. ¬†This past Christmas 2016 I put an order in for¬†a refurbished¬†2016 m3/256 in the correct color, space gray. ¬†I ended up with a new one and a free Apple¬†multi-port dongle for the same price, but that’s another story (caused by UPS).

The thing that made the difference here is MacOS (vs iOS).  There were now no limitations due to software.  The limitations due to having only one USB-C port are mitigated with the dongle.

The approximate size of this laptop is slightly smaller than an iPad Pro.  It is thicker but it will still fit in sleeves designed for a regular iPad.  It will stick out since it is about 0.75 inches wider than an iPad is tall.




I have gotten, no kidding, more than 12 hours of casual use, such as typing on this blog.  That was 1/3 brightness.  50% brightness brings it into the the realm of 9-10 hours.  Certainly still fantastic.  Running out of power is not a worry of any sort.  With my Dell 3531 I was always distractingly conscious of the battery life lol.

When closed it feels awesome, like holding a favorite paper notebook.  Opening the lid can be done one-thumbed, barely raising the base of the laptop, yet keeping whatever angle you set the lid.

And now the keyboard. ¬†Yes, this keyboard. ¬†I like it. ¬†I’ve seen youtube videos and articles online talking about the keyboard. ¬†But for me it’s fine. ¬†Keys are spaced out quite nicely, easy to type on and the feel, or travel, of the keys is again, just fine.

And, they’re backlit. ¬†That may seem ho-hum to you but my Dell was not backlit lol. ¬†I t was something I always wished I had. ¬†I knew what I was buying when it came to the Dell so that’s ok.

Yep, I love the trackpad. ¬†The Windows/Dell combo tried to mimic many of the gestures in it’s own trackpad but smoothness, the robustness of the software, yes, software, simply was not there. ¬†It would take several swipes for the trackpad to recognize what you were trying to do.

With the MacBook trackpad it almost seems to read your mind.  It is awesome.

All told I am very pleased with my MacBook 12 m3/256gb space gray. ¬†It’s a keeper ūüėÄ

TIWIR – I’m adding another series to the blog

I’m calling this blog series TIWIR; an acronym for ‘This Is What I Read’. ¬†ūüėÄ

The idea for this came from various comments on the podcast episode How Bestselling Author Austin Kleon Writes: Part One from The Writer Files (iTunes podcast link).

Austin talks about taking an alternative route to putting drafts online, to instead write about books you’ve been reading, blog about helpful writing tools, talk about the structure of a certain book, decipher the process … to leave drafts to¬†your test readers, your spouse, your writing group, your really close friends.

The goal of this series will be to convey what I’ve learned in reading a¬†book versus writing the typical book review; “Loved it because” “Hated it because” … and so on.

One consequence of this will be spoilers galore!  Thou hast been given notice lol.


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