I'm finally back after taking the last 2.5 months or so off. It feels good to be back although this wasn't so much of a choice as it just happened to work out that way. While I haven't been busy with writing or even reading blogs, I've been very busy with "life".
As many of you know whenever I'm at work that means I'm gone from home and my wife and daughter. So whenever I'm home that means writing gets pushed to the back burner to try and make up for lost time.
However, the last 2.5 months has seen plenty of activity, both in investing/trading and otherwise. The highlight was most definitely our road trip to Nashville back at the end of June and early part of July.
Since it was our first extended road trip with our daughter we decided to break it up into much shorter travel days that I'd have preferred because she does not like being in her car seat. The first day we made it from Houston, TX to Little Rock, AR which was a relatively easy drive at about 6.5 hours. We spent an extra day in Little Rock and got to explore the area a bit and then since the weather cooperated we decided to take in a minor league baseball game which was lots of fun.
Then we headed to Memphis which I have to say wasn't all that great. Granted we didn't get to explore too much because the weather was horrible and rained off and on pretty much the full time that we were there.
The next day we headed to Nashville and got to enjoy some good time with friends as well as exploring the city a bit more. We were even able to catch another minor league baseball game and they were having a big fireworks display after the game. I wasn't sure how our daughter would react, but she loved it!
After about 5 days in Nashville we made a quick trip over to Chattanooga to check out another city, the Tennessee State Aquarium and my high school friend's restaurant. All in all Chattanooga seemed like a great city, kind of a good mix between being a city and small town life.
Then we did the long trek home where we drove straight through back to Houston. It was a long drive, but it made everything easier for the next couple days because it was our daughters 1st birthday. It's hard to believe that she's already 1 year old and now she's bumped that up to 13 months. It's funny to see how her personality has changed just since turning 1 as she definitely has no problem letting you know she doesn't like something.
A New Job...Kind Of
This was in the works for a while, but near the end of July I had officially returned to my previous employer. For the most part nothing has changed in my time away although I didn't really expect it to. Unfortunately since I was away from my employer for more than 1 year that meant new employee orientation which was an absolute waste of time, but it did come with a free hotel stay in Bossier City, LA which meant I got to go to the casinos a few times.
Now that I'm back and can hopefully get on a more consistent work schedule writing should start picking up.
Then Came Harvey
For those that don't know we live in the Houston area and as August was nearing it's end Hurricane Harvey showed its power. We were spared of the strong winds that Harvey had since it made landfall much further south along the Texas coast; however, that doesn't mean we were spared completely.
After Harvey made landfall it just kind of sat over Texas and even moved back offshore into the gulf and then made landfall a second time. Being on the eastern side of the storm that meant pretty much non-stop rain and we definitely got plenty of it. Some areas mostly south and east of where we live recorded 50+ inches of rain over the 4-5 days that Harvey took to move out of the area. Considering the annual average for the Houston area is just over 50 inches that's an astonishing amount of water.
With rain totals that high that meant lots of flooding around the Houston area. Luckily our house was spared and we weren't ever in much of a bind. There's a ditch that runs behind our house and I think at the worst there was still ~6 feet or so before the ditch would have overflowed and then another 1-2 feet before it would have gotten into our house. And then in an absolute worst case scenario we would have just moved up to our second floor for a couple of days. Fortunately none of that came to pass as the water stayed within the ditch and we even kept power/internet/tv throughout the entire storm.
Although there were some neighborhoods that are close by to us that weren't as lucky. One neighborhood that can't be more than a quarter mile downstream of us and on the other side of the ditch flooded pretty badly. And the worst part was that it happened so quick as they went from being high and dry to 3-4 feet of water in their houses in the matter of 30 minutes to an hour.
For those that don't know I graduated college with a Bachelor's in Civil Engineering which is a very broad topic that covers anything from roads to bridges to water treatment plants and much more. One of the other subsets of Civil Engineering is water resources/hydrology, at least that's what it was called at my school, which deals with pretty much everything related to a drop of rain hitting the ground to getting it out of the area. That always interested me while in school and after paying much closer attention to that during Harvey it piqued my interest in it once again as it all started coming back to me.
Who knows maybe there will be another career change back into Civil Engineering in my future.
It's Great To Be Back
Unfortunately I can't really say that much has changed in regards to my thoughts on the markets where things still in general look expensive in terms of valuation. Although that's just fine by me because I don't have much in the form of cash reserves should the markets actually roll over.
Of course I also believe that value can still be found if you look hard enough. It's just that during a 10 year old bull market that value is much harder to be found.
One of the great reads that I got the chance to read was Howard Marks' memo "There They Go Again...Again". If you haven't read it yet and consider yourself a value investor I consider it a must read. FYI that link opens a PDF.
I have to say that it's great to be back and in the swing of things. While I wasn't writing over that time I was still busy with my options trading within my Rollover IRA to stay in tuned to the markets. I'll probably still need another week or so, depending on how work goes, to get caught up on a bunch of my financial history during my absence but I should start getting back to a normal writing schedule shortly.
Also if work allows I'll be heading up to FinCon in Dallas at the end of October and if anyone else is going I'd love to meet up.