It is not unlike my Uncle Mort to broach topics from the farthest reaches of his consciousness. Still, this may have been his first commentary on the unpredictable world of finance.

His suggestions will go the way of New Year’s resolutions, the Edsel and promises to lose weight. After all, during his 98 years on the planet, Mort has been far more committed to bartering, get-rich-quick scheming and varmint-trapping on his place down in the thicket.

Folks who know him best are sure that whatever cash he has accumulated fits inside of a  saltine cracker tin he bought at a garage sale for the marked down price of a nickel….

• • • • •

“I ain’t getting into investments, but if I did, I know--beyond the shadow of a doubt--of two places where I’d put my money down,” Mort bragged. (It should be noted that he uses this expression with the same fervor as “prophets” who are sure of both the date and time of the rapture.)

Use of this expression usually is 180 degrees off truth’s trail. More often, doubt casts long, dark shadows, and “beyond” isn’t far from doubt’s dead center.

Still, I took the bait, asking, “OK, what are the two ‘can’t miss’ investment opportunities?”…

• • • • •

“Billboard advertising and school superintendent search firms,” he crowed. “Predictions of the rapture are bound to increase, and a bevy of political candidates will depend on billboards,” he defended. And in the past few years, school superintendents’ jobs have disintegrated from improbable to impossible.”

He noted that leaders of two of Texas’ three largest districts recently resigned on the same day. Fort Worth’s Dr. Melody Johnson cited “difficulty in remaining effectively focused,” and Dallas’ Dr. Michael Hinojosa decided he wants to spend more time with a grandchild who has yet to be born.

Neither seeks greener pastures. Dr. Johnson probably would settle for a scraggly pasture on the edge of nowhere, hopefully not littered with landmines….

• • • • •

The Dallas leader, named the “sole” finalist for the job in Cobb County (suburban Atlanta), can “have his cake and eat it, too.”

He qualifies for Texas retirement benefits, and that figure--added to his new contract in Georgia--computes to total compensation of about a half-million per annum, or very near.

“Sole” finalist is an apt term. Fishy as it sounds, the challenge bodes as tough. Superintendents, like sole fish, often are filleted, too. And maybe even chewed up and spit out….

• • • • •

My old uncle, who’ll reach the century mark in just 14 more months, claims that finger-pointing in today’s culture is at an all-time high.

He claims that for verbal slings and arrows, it’s open season, 24/7.

Everybody’s mad about something….

• • • • •

Mort typically lines up with critics of the Texas Legislature, a body that stumbles on putting first things first.

Still, he sometimes gives lawmakers credit, and he penned the following poem after both houses okayed the “sport” of noodling. (For non-fisherpersons, the measure authorizes hand-grappling for catfish. Upon Governor Perry’s signature, the new law would require fishing licenses. How far will this go toward funding public education?)

Anyway, here’s the poem:

With furrowed brows our reps,

Have reduced their cash trough to a dish,

They’ve chosen to focus on noodling,

But I’m going to pull for the fish….

• • • • •

Mort is mortified by debt in general, starting in Washington, D. C., and filtering all the way down to individuals across the land.

“We’ve become experts at buying on credit with little regard for payback,” he said.

Mort then dredged up the old oft-quoted line about “two things you don’t want to see being made--sausage and legislation.” My uncle says this really isn’t fair to the sausage-makers….

• • • • •

We called a truce in the conversation.

Actually, I wanted to talk more about the folly of predicting rapture dates and times. I mentioned the six-foot cross, made of concrete, a few miles out of Conway on U.S. Highway 64. Etched on the cross are big letters: JESUS IS COMING SOON. “Soon,” of course, is a relative term, often twisted to what we wish it to be.

   Mort, tuned me out, choosing to focus attention on a new book, Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You….

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site:

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