Sunday, October 21, 2007


I know I should feel excited about the week ahead, but for some unexplained reason I'm getting a really nasty vibe. Something's coming....

Or maybe it's nothing. Maybe it's just the culmination of my sadness marked by the anniversary of our first date....

Or maybe I'm just a little loopy.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Buffett Letter

That same summer I wrote a birthday letter to Buffett. July 18, 2003:

Mr. Warren E. Buffett
Chief Executive Officer
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
1440 Kiewit Plaza
Omaha, Nebraska 68131

Dear Mr. Buffett;

From the reaction of my friends, I guess it’s unusual to hang a picture of a seventy-two, and soon to be seventy-three year old man, on my wall. Unlike my friends who have pictures of sunbathing beach babes, I have chosen one of my heroes.

After working on a mid-term paper into the night, and chugging five of the six Cherry Cokes in a pack, I looked up to see my inspiration. While I’m trying my best to follow in your tracks, I haven’t yet figured out how you were able to procrastinate on papers and study Ben Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, all while setting the curve on class exams. I may wish otherwise, but I most certainly don’t have the brainpower to imitate your undergraduate habits, and as Yogi Berra said, “If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.” Unable to answer the question myself, I gathered my courage and shareholder’s rights, sat in the second row of the annual Westco meeting and asked Mr. Munger the best way to follow his partner’s tracks. Your partner quipped that many young people ask how to become wealthy like him, only faster. Instead, slug it out, step-by-step everyday, suggested the Westco Chairman once the laughter subsided; this advice will do. True, your wealth probably won’t be achieved by someone with less candlepower but the wisdom is exact; everyone works according to their best light and, thankfully, the measure of our success doesn’t depend on a comparison with either you or Mr. Munger. Success depends on the careful execution of our life plan.

I cherish your teachings about character. For example, in my junior year of high school, I listed the traits that I found admirable and objectionable. Motivated by the fear of ruining a twenty-year reputation in five minutes, forging strong habits now becomes a bit easier. I’d rather read about other people’s blunders in the headlines, not my own. As a young man, practicing the right habits can be tough, but it is better to lay the foundation now than see the house tumble later. Like value investing, a successful character is the result of slow, patient attention; “faster” has nothing to do with it.”

So happy birthday, Mr. Buffett. A lifetime of patient investing in character and intrinsic value has yielded wealth, success and happiness. You’ve demonstrated the perfect mental model: Success is getting what you want, and happiness is wanting what you get. In my essay for the application to the University of California at Los Angeles, I compared your advice on the qualities of character to the teachings of another one of my heroes, basketball coach, John Wooden. I was accepted, and I’m tap dancing to each class.

Looking Back

I wrote this on July 3, 2003, the summer prior to starting UCLA. I was seventeen.

Losing Paradise

I’m losing paradise. As each day passes I’m one step closer to becoming a full-time college student. While the independence associated with entering a university is an exciting experience, the joys of childhood are left behind.

Despite the occasional order to clean my room or wash the dishes, my past seventeen years have seemed utopian. In an age of high divorce rates, domestic violence, and besieged family values, my parents carefully nurtured their children’s developing character. Accomplishments come easily swinging high above a secure parental safety net. As a child, the “menial” chores, cooking or laundry, seemed beneath my aspirations but perfectly suited to my parent’s indolent life. In my mind, high school was just as “tough” as my Dad’s work; perhaps he could work forever while I remained a child. Surprisingly, adulthood means shouldering menial chores that my parents have outgrown. So its “goodbye” to the safety net and “hello” university life, twenty page papers and cleaning my closet-sized dorm room.

With these newfound fears of independence, one quote by Abraham Lincoln relieves my mind: “ The worst thing you can do for those you love is the things they could and should do for themselves.” Lincoln was right; my university independence is best served if my parents are freed from the slavish devotion to my meals and laundry and allowed to relax with their own “menial” tasks.

Monday, October 01, 2007

I Think I'll Try Defying Gravity

I miss listening to her sing in the car.

I spoke with Heather this past weekend. I started complaining about my feelings for Delilah: "I hate the fact that there's someone out there that can completely shake-up my life."

Heather responded: There's a lot of things you can do in life, Charlie, but it's what you choose to do that defines you. If you let her mess up your life, that's your choice.

Timshel all over again. Heather is a great friend, but damn, she's smart too.

This is my life, and I'm choosing to dwell in the past rather than moving on. I don't think I'll ever be as enamored with anyone as much as I was with Delilah, but then again, we live in an Uncertain World.