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Tharp's Thoughts
Weekly Newsletter
#802 September 14, 2016
  • Feature Article: My Observations About America 2016, by Van K. Tharp, Ph.D.
  • Workshops: $700 Early Enrollment Discount Ends Next Week on October Workshops!
  • Trading Tip: No Volatility, No Volatility – VOLATILITY! , by D.R. Barton, Jr.
  • FREE BOOK!: Trading Beyond the Matrix

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Become more aware of some of your own psychological issues that affect your performance as a trader/investor.

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Feature Article

My Observations About America 2016
By Van K. Tharp, Ph.D

Click here to resolve formatting problems

On July 28th I started my 47 day road trip in my P85D Tesla Model S. All told, we visited 24 states, traveled 9047 miles; and probably visited about 75 superchargers to fuel the trip. During the trip, I made the following stops (My wife was with me for most of the trip, though she went home while I was at UC Santa Cruz). The following article is based on my thoughts and highlights, not my wife’s.
Major Stops:

  • New Orleans — 3 days
  • Galveston — 2 days
  • Las Vegas — 7 days
  • University of California, Santa Crus — 10 days
  • Lake Geneva Wisconsin — 2 days
The entire trip was pre-planned from the beginning based upon where superchargers were located. The only deviation from the plan was not staying in Seattle because they don’t have any superchargers.

At a Tesla supercharger station, I can fill my battery with electricity (85 KW) in about 60 minutes (or if it’s nearly empty, I can get about 170 miles worth of charge in about 30 minutes). The station charges a nearly empty battery with about 400 volts and 400 amps but when it’s almost fulls it’s more like 400 volts and 20 amps. Alternatives to superchargers are destination chargers which charge at 240 volts and about 40 amps — but these take about 5-7 hours to completely charge the battery. There are numerous hotels now with destination chargers. Seattle has several but they were priced at about $450/night and we chose to avoid that.

Part I: Through the South—Raleigh, N.C. to Las Vegas

The first part of the trip was hot — about 100 degrees nearly everywhere. The hottest place was Las Vegas at 111 degrees when we arrived but that was dry heat and not nearly as bad as say Texas at 100 degrees and lots of humidity.

What I noticed about the first part of the trip (besides the heat) was there were very few Teslas at each supercharger station. I was probably the only car at each supercharger station until we arrived in Las Vegas. I also had the feeling that the South wasn’t doing that well economically. Superchargers are usually at malls and I found quite a few vacant stores. Little did I know that this observation would continue for the rest of the journey. Even in areas that seemed more upscale, there were lots of vacant stores at malls. And the common theme is that the store would be listed as available (for lease), but never for sale. I see this as building owners feeling the pain of no rent but not being eager to sell. They must feel that ownership is a good deal.

If I put this into perspective of what reports, it’s not so surprising. Shadowstats shows that the US has been in a recession since 2000 with the exception of one quarter of 2003. They measure inflation the same way it was measured in 1980 rather than the way the government calculates it now. When you subtract real inflation from economic growth, you get a negative number and that is the definition of recession. Retail stores are hit the hardest as consumers cut back, but retail stores have also been hit by online shopping.

Most of the trip was along US Freeways. And just like my trip in 2015, I’d estimate that about 20% of the freeways in the United States are under construction. This means that they have signs up saying road construction. They have cones in some cases blocking at least one lane and you are restricted to drive 55 mph or less. A second observation - I actually saw people working on the freeways only about 10% of that time. Usually, the freeway is just blocked and you have to slow down.

My one disaster on the trip happened in what felt like a construction zone – but there were no warning or construction signs to slow down and no orange barrels. While driving on Interstate 40 in Oklahoma City, the road suddenly became very rough. It was as if they had peeled off the top level of pavement and we were driving on something that shook the entire car with constant vibrations. I used to live in Oklahoma City which was known as the pothole capital of the US. But this wasn’t a city street, it was an Interstate Highway.

It was so rough that we had to slow down to 10-15 mph – which turned out to be a good thing. I didn’t see anything but suddenly I heard a loud bang. The bang was the sound of the bottom of my car hitting the concrete — which could only be attributed to me hitting a very large and deep pothole. The next thing I knew my car was signaling that the front passenger tire had no air pressure.

I pulled to the side of the road and called Tesla which had me towed to the nearest Discount Tire. It turned out that I had a six inch gash in the front tire and a bubble in the rear passenger tire. Instantly I needed two tires. The tires are custom made by Michelin for Tesla (21 inch tires) and Tesla wanted $680 per tire to ship them overnight from Dallas (the nearest Tesla service center). But I got really lucky. A Tesla owner had purchased a front and rear tire and had stored them at that store, so both the tires I needed were there. And, including a warranty for blowouts (which Tesla doesn’t give), they cost $850 for the two. However, Discount Tire also informed me that the front wheel had been bent by the impact and I’d need a new wheel ($1,200 from Telsa). I had a choice of waiting several days in Oklahoma City or driving back to Dallas, or continuing my trip to Las Vegas where I’d be for 7 days and could get everything taken care of without any disruption to the trip. I was informed there was no danger in driving on that wheel, just noise and vibration and so I elected to go on to Vegas, another 1,200 miles.

In Vegas I was informed that three of my wheels were bent. But I was able to get Discount Tire to order nice wheel rims for $1,300 for all four wheels — as opposed to replacing three of them for $3600 from Tesla. And in Vegas I also replaced the other two tires because one was close to being gone and the other would have left a single, unbalanced tire.

So that was the worst part of the trip, but it was a blessing in that there was no serious damage to the car, and I would have needed to replace all the tires before the end of the trip anyway. I would have done that through Tesla and I would not have discovered how much cheaper Discount Tire was.

Some of the highlights of the first part of the trip included:
  • Having dinner at a tavern in Atlanta belonging to the son of one my Super Traders.
  • Dinner and Bread Pudding at Brennan’s in New Orleans.

  • Meeting one of my Super Trader students and his wife in Galveston, TX where we also saw a beautiful white wolf that was someone’s pet. Gorgeous animal! Gentle but didn’t like cameras. Notice his reaction to the camera.

  • Seeing the Alamo which has been on my bucket list. Also Riverwalk in San Antonio is quite nice.

  • Meeting one of my Oneness Partners' friends (and her husband) in Austin, TX.

  • Seeing a fellow student from my graduate school days in Oklahoma City. He’s a full professor at the medical center there (where I got my Ph.D) and could tell me everything about what had happened to everyone. He also showed me around and I got to see all the buildings where I took classes, had an office and even where lived. It was great.

  • My office was on the top floor in the corner near the driveway of this building.

  • Here's a picture of my graduate class from about 1973. I had hair then!
  • And seeing four Vegas shows — KA, Donny and Marie, Rod Steward, and Mat Franco.

Part II: California

I decided to call this a separate part because I spent 10 days at a workshop in California and because California is so different from everyplace else. Driving in California, to me at least, is chaos. I avoided Southern California but the San Francisco Bay area/Silicon Valley isn’t much better. Freeways tend to be stop-and-go even in the middle of the day on weekdays or on weekends. To me that isn’t fun driving.
California seems much “richer” than other areas of the country. For example, a 1,500 square-foot house in Marin County would probably cost about $1.5 million. And I’m not sure why people live there. The cost of living is very high. The red tape for owning a business is very bad. The traffic is awful. Those are the main reasons I moved away from California 26 years ago but they seem to still be that way in California now. Plus every supercharger station in CA is almost always full.

To me the most amazing area in California was around the supercharger in Mountain View. It’s located next to the Computer History Museum so I got to tour that while I waited for the car to charge. I saw an Osborn 2 and old DEC PDP 8 which reminded me of the good old days. They even some devices before my time like an Enigma machine. Mountain View is also the home of Google and all around the supercharger where 100s of Google buildings. Perhaps it’s no wonder that almost all 12 charging stations at that supercharger were full, even on a Saturday.
Despite California’s richness, I saw the same phenomenon of vacant retail stores (many of them) in expensive shopping centers. I also had a new experience in California. In a gas station convenience store where I found an armload of purchases, I wasn’t given a bag. When I asked for one, the cashier said that will be 10 cents. That also happened at a Sears store in California. I bought some extra socks and underwear and my arms were loaded. I asked for a bag and the cashier said those are 20 cents. I said fine and then it turned out she didn’t even have any bags. It’s no wonder that Sears is close to going out of business. But I haven’t had that experience at Sears in any other state.

I also had an interesting experience driving through Yosemite. I was in Mammoth Lakes, CA and I need to get to Santa Cruz. My GPS told me that I had to go 100 miles north to the nearest supercharger and then about 50 miles west and then another 100 miles south. I knew, however, there was a supercharger 190 miles away if I went through Yosemite. But the GPS said don’t do it and there was no margin of safety like a destination charging station if I didn’t make it. Plus, someone locally told me I’d have to climb about 3000 feet when I first turned into Yosemite.

Having a full charge at about 320 watts per mile, however, gives me a range of over 250 miles. That can be destroyed by high speed or going uphill but I estimated that I would also be going down about 9,000 feet during the trip. Plus you don’t drive fast in Yosemite where the speed limit is usually about 40 mph. So I decide to risk it.

Driving through Yosemite, I noticed 1) it was so crowded on a Saturday that every scenic stop was filled with cars. 2) I probably averaged about 30 mph and perhaps that’s one reason the GPS wanted me to drive the other route. 3) After I left the park, traffic was even worse averaging about 20-25 mph on streets where the speed limit was 55 to 65 mph. But that was typical of my experience in California.

After driving for 192 miles on that day, I still had more than 100 miles of charge in my battery. For much of that drive, the battery was actually being charged by my going downhill. At one point, the GPS said that based on my last 30 miles, my projected range was 999 miles (as high as it goes). I took a picture of the display.
Highlights of the California Trip Included:

  • The Robert Dilts workshop, which actually was not the workshop I thought I was getting but was one I probably needed more.
Me and Robert Dilts… we both have Tesla fobs.
  • Walking around the UC Santa Cruz campus and seeing deer walking within 5-10 feet of me. They were very tame.
  • Seeing a campus full of coastal redwood trees with amazing energy, and understanding how NLP was born on that campus at Kresge College.
  • The Computer History museum and Google’s campus.
  • Meeting with another of my friends from the Oneness Partner’s Course and getting to experience Prana Deeksha. I’m initiated but haven't given one yet.
  • Meeting with one of my old clients in Santa Rosa and having lunch.
  • Going through the Avenue of the Giants and seeing original Coastal Redwoods that are 2000 years old and often over 300 feet high. Magnificent, but sad to know that only 4% of the original Coastal Redwoods still exist (the rest were chopped down for timber).
The little person at the bottom is my wife, Kala.
We also had one very unusual incident in Eureka, CA when we were at a new supercharger – one that had opened only a few days earlier. We had arrived in Eureka the previous night and decided to spend at least half the day backtracking and visiting the Avenue of the Giants. While I was charging my car, I took off my sweatshirt and my key fob and must have fallen out of my pocket on to the ground. We drove away unaware of the loss because my wife had her key fob in her purse and the car worked perfectly fine.

About an hour later, we discovered that I was missing my key fob. At that point, I guessed that it must have fallen out of my sweatshirt at the charger. I figured it was gone and we’d have to be really careful with my wife’s fob for the rest of the trip. My wife mentioned that there had been a strange looking fellow taking pictures of the car at the supercharger. She didn’t trust him and was worried about the stranger. “What if he’d found it? Could he somehow steal the car later?” I told her not to worry about that. Our only problem was to make sure we didn’t lose the other fob.

About 3 hours later we were back at the supercharger in Eureka. We’d looked for the key fob but didn’t see it. We were at the food court at the mall near the supercharger when I got a call from Tesla. They asked if I’d used the supercharger in Eureka. I said yes and that I was there again. They said, “Well, a man has found your key fob and wants to return it to you.” It was the mysterious stranger.

Apparently, there is nothing on the key fob to identify the car. But this man had called Tesla (most people wouldn’t even be able to find the Tesla assist number) and asked how to trace it to its owner. They asked him if he knew which charger I was at and he said he had a picture. He identified the charger as being 1b and Tesla was able to determine that I was the last person to use that charger and they called me. Amazing what Tesla knows about their cars. So they were calling me at the exact time I was at the charger again. (This was the only charger on the entire trip that I visited twice). And within 15 minutes the mysterious stranger was returning my key fob. I offered him a nice reward but he wouldn’t take it. And my wife learned a nice lesson about judging people by their appearance. I still consider that incident a super miracle.

PART III: The Return Trip

The final part of the trip was probably the most beautiful and it wasn’t hot at all. We went from Eureka to Grants Pass, Oregon (another long trip but we made it easily). We then went to Portland where we spent the night. Because it was too far to go through Seattle without spending the night there at a destination charger, I decided to go Northeast from Portland.

This took us along the Columbia River Gorge which was absolutely beautiful and one of the highlights of the last part of the trip. And this was all in Oregon.

We then headed for the northeast part of Washington and that was all desert and brush fires. I never thought that the state of Washington would have desert, but it does. The return route then took us through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, and finally Wisconsin before heading southwest.

What was amazing about all of this was that every supercharger, even those in the middle of nowhere, had at least four superchargers and often six. The one exception was in a big city that’s where you start to see a lot of Teslas - Madison, Wisconsin. It has only three superchargers, two of which were filled when we arrived but I bet only three chargers could be a problem at times.

Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota is all cowboy country. At one gas station tourist store in Montana I probably saw about 3,000 rifles and handguns for sale. I was wondering whether it was easier to buy a gun in Montana that other states. However, it wasn’t price-wise since most of their guns and rifles were over $1,000 with automatic weapons being as much as $3,000. I later checked the gun laws and the only permit required is for a concealed weapon. So apparently, I could have bought an automatic weapon there (which is not concealed) with no background check or anything. And perhaps that’s why they were more expensive. People who might not be able to get them elsewhere would be able to get them in Montana.[i]

I found that interesting because in Asheville, NC there was a Field and Stream store that had an equal number of guns and rifles, but the prices were much, much cheaper. Handguns were about $500 and rifles were about $700. However, they also had automatic weapons in the $2,000+ range. And gun control in North Carolina is a little stricter than most Southern States, but there is no restriction on rifles. By the way, knowing that the most likely person to get shot by a gun owner is the gun owner or a family member is enough for me to not want to own one. I’ll stick with my Papillion guard dogs.
I had a third experience with guns at Fort Boonsboro in Kentucky. They had historical interpreters demonstrating the lifestyle there and one man specialized in old guns. I asked him how much one of the old rifles cost (we’re talking cira 1775). He said in those days, a rifle cost about $12 - about a half years salary for the average man but they were also a necessity of life. By the way, we stopped there because I recently confirmed an old family rumor that I was related to Daniel Boone. He is a first cousin, seven times removed, so I enjoyed seeing some of his history.

I’m mentioning this information on guns in the 2016 Condition of America because people are afraid that gun laws may soon become stricter so a lot of people are buying guns and some newsletters have even recommended buying share of companies that make guns.

Highlights of the return home portion of the trip.

  • Columbia River Gorge (amazing).
  • Taking a boat trip with an old client who now lives in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.
  • Montana scenery is breathtaking.
  • Seeing the Battle of Little Bighorn National Memorial in Montana (I thought it was in South Dakota, lol).
The white stone with black marks where Colonel Custor fell. This is really kind of sad because while this was the greatest victory for the Native American Indians, it also marked their end and the end of their way of life.

The park was renamed Battle of Little Big Horn so they could honor both the Calvary and the Indians.
  • A side trip to Devil’s Tower (think Close Encounters of the Third Kind where the spaceship landed) and seeing Prairie dogs, Buffalo, Long Horned Steer, and 100s of deer in the local farms. We thought the farmers were raising deer because every fenced-in field had 4 - 30 deer.
  • Seeing Mount Rushmore.
  • Staying at the Grand Resort in Lake Geneva which once was a Playboy club.
  • Touring two distilleries in Kentucky. I like flavored Moonshine but not expensive Bourbon.
  • Seeing Lincoln’s birthplace (Kentucky, not Illinois) and the farm where he had his first memories.
  • Seeing Fort Boonsboro.
    I’ve now made two trips around the country in my Tesla. The worst places to drive in my opinion are:
    1) Metropolitan Washington DC;
    2) The bottom 2/3rd of California.

    Other places that were not that fun to drive included Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City (potholes, not traffic); and Chicago. However, we went through Chicago at about 10:30 a.m. on a weekday, and it was not nearly as bad as say an LA Freeway at 10:30 a.m. on a Sunday. My driving trips have not included NY City so far.

    I’m planning to write another version of this article for Tesla owners. Let me know if you are interested in that version.
    [i] I found the following information on Montana gun laws. A permit for concealment of a pistol is really the only form of license required according to Montana gun laws. Gun dealers or distributors have virtually no regulations placed on them. Police inspections of shops or stores is not warranted by Montana gun law, nor is record keeping or even a license to distribute. There is no limit on bulk purchases, or any ammo regulations present in Montana gun laws.

    Along with a permit to purchase, a background check is not required when buying a firearm. Seemingly any man or woman can go into a Montana retailer a purchase a firearm as long as he/she is not intoxicated or under the influence of a banned substance. The only form of possession that is regulated in the state applies to children under the age of 14.

    The laxity of Montana's gun laws can be attributed to the state's structure and culture. On average 6 people live in one square mile (compared to 1,200 per square mile for New Jersey.) This lack of congestion breeds a culture where human interaction is less prevalent and stressful (when compared to a heavily populated urban environment).

    Because the land is sprawling, and the population is scarce, Montana gun laws don't have a great effect on crime statistics. Based on violent crime numbers in 2009, Montana was among the top 5 safest places to live in the country. Due to the landscape and population numbers, Montana gun laws almost have to be so casual in structure. In Montana, firearms are not viewed as a tool to kill and create violence, but instead, a means to protect oneself, hunt, and uphold the American constitution.

    About the Author: Trading coach, and author, Dr. Van K. Tharp is widely recognized for his best-selling books and his outstanding Peak Performance Home Study program—a highly regarded classic that is suitable for all levels of traders and investors. You can learn more about Van Tharp


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    October 9-11
    When Van Tharp first starting teaching this workshop his co-instructor was Robert Kiyosaki, who soon went on to become famous for his Rich Dad, Poor Dad book. Van has recently reintroduced this course with many updates. This workshop has years of Dr. Tharp's, and his colleagues' shared knowledge about wealth, modeling wealth and most importantly, information about how our beliefs about money and wealth influence our ability to obtain wealth. Attend this workshop and reshape your attitudes toward wealth, money, scarcity and abundance. You'll be surprised at the impact these three days will have on you and how beliefs running in your unconscious background may be holding you back.

    Workshop Objectives:
    To define what a game is so that you can see that most games cause you to lose.

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    To awaken you to a new way to play the wealth game. To give you choice with respect to how you play the wealth game in the future.

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    Trading Tip

    No Volatility, No Volatility –
    by D. R. Barton, Jr.

    Click here to resolve formatting problems

    Ladies and gentlemen of the trading and investing world – you and I have just lived through the tightest market volatility squeeze of the last 100 years (chart coming with those numbers).

    We lived through it!

    But then came Friday — and volatility returned to the markets.

    Let’s take a moment to look back at this historic run, the current wild swings, and wrap up with thoughts on where we’re likely to go from here.

    First up:

    The Historic Volatility Squeeze

    100 years. A century. Call it what you will, it’s a stinkin’ long time, and,it has no peers. The eight-week volatility compression that ended on Friday (9/09) was the tightest squeeze in the last 100 years.

    You’ll recall that at the end of August I ran some range numbers for all of the S&P 500 data that I could find (dating back to January 1962) and could find no six-week ranges that were as tight as the then current one. Two more weeks of “do nothing” markets, and the historical nature of the squeeze was being discussed everywhere.

    One of the best research pieces I read included this nifty chart from J. Lyons Fund Management showing Dow Jones Industrial Average data going all the way back to 1915:
    The little dotted line at that bottom is the percent High-Low for the period showing that we were at a 2.27% range for the eight week (40 trading days) time period. When all was said and done, we had gone 43 consecutive trading days without a close-to-close change of 1%.

    No other 40-day period of the last 100 years was even close.

    What head scratching complacency!

    And Then …
    Then on Friday, Sept 9, the ECB announced that it would not add to its quantitative easing program and the market’s pent-up energy poured out in a waterfall down day where the S&P 500 cash index dropped -2.45%. As the old codgers on Wall Street would say, “The only thing that stopped the selling was the closing bell.”

    On Monday, Lael Brainard, a member of the Federal Reserve's board of governors, gave dovish (accommodating) comments about a low probability of a September rate hike and then the market zoomed up 1.67%. On Tuesday we had another strong down day where the market dropped -1.99% providing us three consecutive days of 1% alternating moves (down, up, down). We haven’t had four days like that since late January of this year (and the time before that was back in October of 2011). If we want to talk about five alternating days of 1% up/down, we have to go all the way back to … 1934.

    So What?

    The market pushed down to a fairly important support area. Let’s look at the lows of Friday, Monday & Tuesday on the chart:

    As you can see, this 2111 – 2119 zone in the S&P cash index is a good line in the sand. If the index breaks that line to the downside on a closing basis for a couple of days, it’s easy to see a test of the Brexit lows down around 2000 on the chart. But if this zone holds, expect us to grind up for a while.

    Next week, I’ll show some very interesting end-of-the-year data that gives a high probability to more upside into year end.

    Please send your thoughts and comments to drbarton “at” – I always appreciate hearing from you!

    Great Trading,
    D. R.
    About the Author: A passion for the systematic approach to the markets and lifelong love of teaching and learning have propelled D.R. Barton, Jr. to the top of the investment and trading arena. He is a regularly featured analyst on Fox Business’ Varney & Co. TV show (catch him most Thursdays between 12:30 and 12:45), on Bloomberg Radio Taking Stock and MarketWatch’s Money Life Show. He is also a frequent guest analyst on CNBC’s Closing Bell, WTOP News Radio in Washington, D.C., and has been a guest on China Central Television — America and Canada’s Business News Network. His articles have appeared on and Financial Advisor magazine. You may contact D.R. at "drbarton" at "".

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    You can complete this course at your own pace, from the comfort of your own home or office, and access the materials as many times as you wish during your 1-year subscription period.
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