Review Category : Contributors

A rising dollar environment

We wanted to spend some time on the US Dollar — to provide you with an updated view both short term and longer term on its technical picture, and the implications of its historical price movements. We find now is a very important time to delve into the behavior of the “greenback,” as it has very much been in the news.

Charles Tumlin

Charles Tumlin

The US Dollar has been newsworthy so far in 2015, as it has posted an eye-popping gain, taking it to levels not seen since September 2003, or 11 1/2 years. This bullish story for the dollar has been going on since May 2011, as it has been in a “rising dollar environment” since May 4th, 2011, making it now the longest rising dollar environment since we’ve been tracking this currency.

Relative Strength has helped to keep us invested where the potential for strength is. Historically, US Equities, and Small- and Mid-Cap stocks in particular, tend to outperform the market in a rising dollar environment. Our portfolios have been overweight small and midcap US equites since 2012 and underweight International Equities since 2012.

This is in contrast to strategic asset allocation strategies, which maintain static allocations to all asset classes, even when Relative Strength tells us to avoid or underweight an out of favor asset class.

This article was written by Dorsey, Wright and Associates, Inc., and provided to you by Wells Fargo Advisors and Charles Tumlin, Financial Advisor in Beaufort, SC, 211 Scott Street, (843) 524-1114. You cannot directly invest in an index. Wells Fargo Advisors did not assist in the preparation of this article, and its accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed.Relative Strength is a measure of price trends that indicates how a stock is performing relative to other stocks in its industry. The opinions expressed in this report are those of Dorsey Wright and are not necessarily those of Wells Fargo Advisors or its affiliates. The material has been prepared or is distributed solely for information purposes and is not a solicitation or an offer to buy any security or instrument or to participate in any trading strategy.  Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. CAR 0415-01622.

Read More →

The Philosopher

By Lee Scott

My son called me the other day and said he was listening to audio podcasts in his car during his commute to work. He was listening to the works of various philosophers and wanted to know my opinion on philosophy. I told him that my experience was limited to one semester in college spent with Plato, Socrates and Descartes. One of the benefits, I reminded him, of a Liberal Arts College is that you are exposed to lots of information that you normally would not choose to be exposed; hence the philosophy class. I told him that it took me awhile to get in the swing of the class, but before I knew it I was saying things like “I think, therefore I am “ a translated Rene Descartes line from my studying.

However, there was pressure at the time to actually understand the class because ultimately I was going to have to write a term paper on the subject. I had to delve further into the class subject rather than just memorize the names of philosophers, where they lived and when. It turned out to be very interesting. I learned about various philosophical theories and the class had some very lively debates. It was enlightening to learn that we have incorporated so much of these philosophies into our society and we are not even conscious of it. The Socratic Method is used by teachers all the time. It is the practice of asking a student enough questions so they figure out the answer themselves without you giving them the answer. As parents, we do this all the time.

But the truth is that after I wrote the term paper and after I took my final exam, I moved on from philosophy until the 1980s. It was then that I was exposed to the comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes. Bill Watterson created the two characters. The young precocious six year old Calvin character was based on John Calvin the 16th century French Reformation Theologian. Hobbes, his pet stuffed tiger, was based on the philosopher, Thomas Hobbes who was a 17th century English political philosopher. Calvin’s little stuffed tiger would come to life when no one else was around. They had the best philosophical discussions. It was amazing to watch these two characters examine the world around them and come up with some of the most profound observations.

Think about an average six year old child and how they spend their days asking, when, where, how and what. It makes sense that Calvin’s pursuit of wisdom and his dialogue with Hobbes would draw the readers into his world. So it turns out that without realizing it my son and I are still in that pursuit of wisdom. Socrates would be so happy.

Read More →

The good, the bad and the southern

By Cherimie Crane Weatherford

Unmistakable is the drawl, unexplainable is the tone and unfortunate is the target of the Southern Woman’s disdain. As the social barometer rises in the sultry sweet south, one thing goes unaffected by the heightened humidity and lowered productivity. Clearly heard at garden parties and cocktail hours all over the region, is the sing-song voice of southern women telling the world how they really feel. As far back as history can recall, the poetic and polite piercing of an untamed tongue often belongs to none other than the hospitable and often hostile women of the south.

We are taught manners, etiquette and the proper way to write a thank you note for every kind gesture known to man. By preschool, we have blessed enough hearts to rival the Pope. It is a skill sharpened and honed to perfection long before the less desirable or beneficial mastery of literature and arithmetic. A southern woman can walk the line of linguistic laceration as though she were sashaying the red carpet.

As a public service, tourist guide, and warning to the wise, I have collected a few sentiments that quite possibly could save your life or at least your soiree. To understand, interpret and most importantly, avoid an encounter of the unkind exchange it is imperative to be able to identify the onset.

1. Oh my goodness – This delectable phrase can mean delight or detriment depending on which word is stressed. If there is a distinct pause between each word, the best one can hope for is immediate shelter. If ‘goodness’ is drawn out to exceed two syllables paramedics should be notified.

2. Sweetheart – All too often this sugary salutation is misconstrued as endearment. If an eye brow or wine glass is raised, it is not endearing. Not endearing at all. May heaven and Oprah help you should ‘listen here’ proceed this foreboding term.

3. Did she/he really? - If this is muttered someone, somewhere will not be sleeping tonight. Often confused for a question when in reality it is a statement of intent and that intent is not to share a recipe for apple pie.

4. I shouldn’t say this but… - Prepare for an onslaught. This could go on for quite some time. Do not interrupt, intervene or attempt to argue. Simply nod and politely insert and occasionally ‘Oh no’.

5. You’ve done something different to you hair – A confirmation that your hair dresser wasn’t on their A-game at your last appointment. Acknowledge the observation and blame the humidity.

6. I haven’t seen you at church – Obviously you are living a life of crime or at least a life of shame. Quickly clear your Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday evening schedule for the next three months until someone else is missed from church.

7. Awe, look at her – When spoken during the summer months this is a direct reference to how her bikini fits. It is an unspoken agreement that all southern women understand. If you don’t understand, don’t wear a bikini.

8. Isn’t he/she great? - This is a strategic interrogation, not a compliment. Your answer will determine your social fate. The best response is to sneeze or faint and to do so quickly.

9. Where are you from? – The slippery slope of seemingly innocent conversation. If you aren’t drinking sweet tea, wearing top siders or sporting the summer sandbar tan, the answer isn’t important. It is just to buy time until cocktails are served.

10. Last but never least, Bless your heart - I have considered writing an expose on this sole phrase; however, some things are best left alone. Like casseroles after catastrophe, white platters at weddings and girdles after Thanksgiving, some things are just sacred. Just understand that your heart could possibly be blessed or it could be the beginning of your indoctrination to a language where even insults are held in high regard. It is the good, the bad and the southern. Welcome to the sultry south where the days are hot, the nights are hotter and the women are as sweet as can be until they aren’t. Happy Summer Ya’ll.

Cherimie Crane Weatherford, owner of SugarBelle boutique, Celadon Real Estate Broker and observer of all things momentous and mundane lives on Lady’s Island with her golfing husband, dancing toddler and lounging dogs.

Read More →

Driving my pick up truck

By Lee Scott

I have never lived in an area where there are so many pick up trucks like there are here in the Lowcountry. In most towns, it is normal to see contractors driving around with their company logo printed on the side and materials in the bed of the truck. But here, pick up trucks are everywhere. Part of the reason is because the fishing is so good and we are a tourist destination. Anyone passing one of our many boat launching ramps is familiar with the rows of trucks lined in the parking lots. Then there are trucks towing other things like campers, racing cars or jet skis. Well, we own a pick up truck too. It is a five-year-old F-150 truck that comes in quite handy.

When I was working full time in banking, I would drive it occasionally. It was a challenge climbing down from the cab in a business suit. But now that I have hung up my briefcase, there is something special about getting in the truck. It is much more comfortable to drive now that I can just put on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt when I drive it. My persona changes, and I confess to turning on the Country station and singing along with Shane Yellowbird belting out “Me and my pickup truck”.

Recently, I passed another F-150 truck driver on the way into the Convenience Center with my truck bed full. The driver gave me the two finger nod to his baseball cap. I returned the gesture thinking it was an F-150 thing, like the wave Harley Davidson motor cycle drivers give to one another. My husband shook his head and said, “There is no F-150 truck wave, that was our neighbor, Herb.” Oh well.

I do struggle with the fact that my truck has an automatic transmission. What happened to the old stick shifts? Remember Grandpa’s pick up on the old Lassie television series? You wouldn’t find him driving around with an automatic transmission. Anyone that has had to tow something uphill or downhill knows the true value of a standard transmission.

You cannot argue about the overall utility of a pick up truck. I understand why folks in our area own one. But with so many of them looking alike, I decided we needed something distinctive. I ordered one of those stick family decals for the back of the truck. You know that ones where there is a father, mother, five kids, three dogs and a cat. Ours has the man and woman and the two dogs. You can hardly see it because the back window is tinted. But if you look carefully it is there, distinguishing our pick up truck here in the Lowcountry.

Read More →

Great summer garden recipes

By Susan Stone

Keep an eye out for aphids on your crepe myrtles, roses and mandevillas. Keeping them well watered helps, but if those little suckers come calling simply whip up a batch of garlic soap water. It’s not much of a recipe.  In a household spray bottle: Mix approx. 1 tbs. garlic juice, a few drops of cheap dish soap then fill with water and spray.

No-See-Ums can make you crazy. They love the same weather we do with temps between 60-80 degrees. Here is my favorite bug repellant. It’s non-toxic, it’s cheap and it works! 8-1 ratio; mix witch-hazel and cinnamon leaf oil (always test for sensitivity)

As the temperatures raise so do the weeds, here is a great non-toxic weed killer that really does the trick. Be careful not to spray on anything you really like. 1-gallon white vinegar, 1-cup pickling salt, 1-cup cheap dish soap; put in lawn sprayer and spray directly on weeds (Works great on poison ivy)

For whitefly and soft scale (its early, but they may be left over from last year); you can spray rubbing alcohol directly on the bugs undiluted. Or, a few drops of cheap dish soap and water.

It’s important to get a jump on damaging pests as soon as you see them arrive. Once they get a foothold, it’s tough to get control without using harsh chemicals. Soap is your best friend in the garden. Bug’s don’t like the taste of it any better than we did. Spray early in the day; Not only because the wind is usually calmer, but the sun is not so intense. Over-applying soap in the hot sun can burn the plants.

Don’t forget to treat for Fire Ants! This has amazing results! Here I quote Howard Garrett, The Dirt Doctor; “Dry or dried molasses is a soil building product made by spraying organic bits with liquid molasses. It is used to quickly stimulate microbes in the soil and give an indirect benefit of fertility. It also in many cases will run fire ants off the property. It should be used at 10-20 lbs. per 1000 sf.”

Happy Gardening!

Please send your gardening wisdom and questions to susan@outdoorarchitecture.com if you are asking about a particular disease or pest; please include a photo if possible.

Read More →

‘Bionic eye’ is an incredible breakthrough…but not right for everyone

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

News stories about a ‘bionic eye transplant’ have gotten a lot of attention, but what is the reality of new technology for restoring sight to some blind patients? The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System has sometimes been called a ‘bionic eye transplant.’ Right now it is not possible to transplant an entire human eye – only corneas and some other specific eye tissues can be transplanted. And there is no electronic replacement for the whole eye.

The Argus II is a three-part device that allows some perception of light and motion in patients who have lost their vision due to retinitis pigmentosa. Surgery is done to place a small electronic device on the patient’s retina. Later, the patient wears a camera mounted on a pair of glasses, and a portable video-processing unit. Images are taken in through the camera, processed, and then sent wirelessly to the implant in the patient’s retina. The implant stimulates the living cells in the retina, and the brain interprets these patterns as light. Over time, the patient learns to interpret the signals from the Argus II to see objects, their surroundings, and — in some cases — even read large-print text.

This is an exciting development, but the Argus II is not for everyone. It is only for patients who have no vision or almost no vision due to advanced retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a group of genetic disorders that affect the retina’s ability to respond to light. This inherited disease causes a slow loss of vision, beginning with decreased night vision and loss of peripheral (side) vision. Blindness ultimately results. Unfortunately, there is no cure for RP.

Patients must pass a careful medical screening to make sure there are no other physical reasons that they shouldn’t be given the implant. And patients should be aware that the Argus II does not restore complete, natural vision. The vision that is restored is black-and-white only, and does not include fine details.

Currently, only a handful of tertiary-care referral centers are performing the surgery. However, as more refinements are made to the Argus II and more progress is made, we may begin to see significant improvements in visual prognosis for RP and other debilitating eye disease.

Read More →

Either I have it all wrong or Hallmark does

By Cherimie Crane Weatherford

Delicate white dresses, pristine flowers tied in pretty pastel ribbons, pearls and diamonds adorning a glowing loving face — this is motherhood. Sweet sleepy snuggles, prideful milestone memories and constant celebrations of the art, trials and tribulations that make up being someone’s mommy. The second Sunday in May is a day of adulation for the portrait of perfection that holds a family firmly in place. Mother’s Day is a clear reminder that either I have it all wrong or Hallmark does.

For almost one and a half years I have awakened to the pure terror of realizing that I am responsible for another’s well-being. Especially when the ‘another’ has an awfully familiar temperament and an all too familiar giggle to someone she knows well. Somewhere in the sweet nursery rhymes and the What to Expect When You’re Expecting series, I must have overlooked the chapter on reality. I simply do not remember reading anything on the importance of owning 1,123 pacifiers (especially the glow- in- the- dark variety), the havoc caused by an ill-fitting diaper or the paragraph on how not to hate your peacefully sleeping husband during the less than romantic marathon of teething. Surely it was all addressed.

From the moment her magical little eyes open in the morning to the victorious moment when those same eyes close at night, she is in full control of my entire existence. The mere glimpse of women who have it mastered sends my once capable mind into orbit. I have studied the ways of the “supermom” but have yet to remember all the lyrics to the Wheels on the Bus song. Morning is a sequence of high level negotiations, frantic food wielding and consumption of caffeine at an impressive speed with a sincere hope that she and I will both leave the house in appropriate attire. Evenings are a muddled maze of bath toys, fascination with all that is forbidden and logical reasons not to go to bed. She is a powerful force.

Motherhood is more than controlled chaos, more than matching dresses and family portraits. For me, it is an out- of- body experience. I watch as her little feet stumble, only to feel the sting as her knees meet the sidewalk. When her forehead is warm to the touch, it is my body that aches. Her accomplishments are my greatest achievements and her disappointments, my truest angst. She reaches for me and I am the one lifted up. Her tears are my sorrow and her fear, my burden. Motherhood is an extension of who I am and a reflection of who she will become.

Mother’s Day is a day of acceptance. It is a day to joyfully embrace, the confusing, emotionally draining and often mentally paralyzing position of being Mom. It may not include spa visits, celebratory dinners or pearls. It may not even include sleep, food or appropriate clothing. But it does include the gift that can’t be explained in commercials, greeting cards or ceremonies. It can be seen every time a Mother wipes away a tear, explores a homemade fort, struggles to carry a squealing, squirming protester, reads the same book 300 times, or sacrifices her wants for the needs of her child. As most Mothers do, I strive for the very best that I can each and every day, hoping that my mistakes will be less memorable than my boo- boo healing abilities. Here’s wishing all the hand-holders, the tear-wipers and the fort-builders a day of hand-holding, tear-wiping and fort-building this Sunday. Motherhood is all about the moments.

Cherimie Crane Weatherford, owner of SugarBelle boutique, Celadon Real Estate Broker and observer of all things momentous and mundane lives on Lady’s Island with her golfing husband, dancing toddler and lounging dogs.

Read More →

The raised eyebrow

By Lee Scott

Years ago I was in Storm Brother’s Ice Cream store in downtown Annapolis, Maryland. The place was packed because it was a hot summer day, the tourists were in town and people were escaping to the ice cream and the air conditioning.

As I stood there in line, a little girl around four and her mother came in. As they stood there waiting, the little girl started to whine and cry. The mother chose to ignore the little girl’s behavior to the dismay of those of us around them. We were all hot and tired and did not want to listen to her. I finally turned around and looked at the girl and raised my left eyebrow high into my forehead. She looked at me, turned her face into her mother’s leg and was quiet. Message sent and received.

The raised eyebrow is a look I learned from my mother. It meant many things. A slight raised eyebrow meant, “Now what is going on?” the higher her eyebrow rose the more serious the offense. The highest eyebrow was the worst. “Wait until I get you home!”

There was obviously a background history to that eyebrow. I knew what it meant and I knew based on her eyebrow how far I could push her. The Highest Brow look meant that you were going to be punished. Punishment for her meant you will go to bed right after dinner (or occasionally, no dinner); it meant no television for a week; no playing with your friends after school. It was serious. There were no toys in our bedrooms, just beds, dressers and some stuffed animals and dolls. I was banished to a room where basically I had to think about what I had done wrong.

The first part of my punishment normally consisted of dreaming how I was going to run away and how much I disliked my parents and all those kinds of childish thoughts. Ultimately, I would go into “I’m sorry” mode which meant I would have to leave my bedroom, seek out my mother and try for absolution. She would not settle for the simple “I am sorry.” No. She would require an explanation of my offense and why I thought she was angry. This was a torturous conversation where I had to admit that I was wrong and she was right in her punishment. A tough lesson for a young child. It still meant I was grounded, but the tension would be gone.

I was pleased that day in the Ice Cream store that the little girl was quieted. She knew the eyebrow look. She was a good kid and her mother normally would have disciplined her, but Mom was having a melt down too and just didn’t want to deal with it. As I walked out of the store that day with my ice cream cone an older woman stopped me and said “I saw the look that you gave that little girl. Good for you!” Sometimes parents just need a little help.

Read More →

Everything turns out alright in the end…

By Susan Stone

Have you ever heard the saying; “Everything turns out alright in the end…if it’s not alright, then it’s not the end”? I love this saying! And I share it with you because I was a slow learner. It took me years to understand it, or should I say…believe it.

Many events in my life I have seen as the worse things that could ever happen to me…only to find out in the end that it was a great blessing in disguise. Sometimes our “life lessons” are difficult at best. Usually they hurt like hell, leaving us wondering if they will ever end!

One Universal Law states that, what we resist persists. It is our resistance that creates the struggle and that feeling of a never-ending situation. We simply won’t let go of “it” or “them”. Most of us don’t know how. It is not natural to surrender. We are trained to win! Letting something or someone go, feels like defeat. If it doesn’t look like we’re going to get what we want, it feels like losing.

After the crash in 2008, many of my clients were devastated by the loss of income. Some had lost their retirements as well. All the years of investing and building a nest egg was gone in weeks. One man came to me very depressed. He felt like he was losing everything he had worked so hard for. One day he came in smiling and he told me that the repo-man had come and taken his boat away that morning. I was confused by his smile. He went on to tell me how good he felt the moment it pulled away. What had made him unhappy was the thought that he had worked so hard to buy the boat of his dreams and the feeling of embarrassment that neighbors would see it go. The moment he saw it leave his driveway, he realized he didn’t have to pay for it anymore and he breathed a sigh of relief. He finally realized the huge weight of his big house, his big boat and his car collection was the problem. What he owned, actually owned him. He was almost “giddy” by the thought of a simpler life. He left happy and I have never seen him again.

What a great realization! To go from “this is a curse” to “this is a blessing” is a path very few take voluntarily or easily. It isn’t in the lost, but in the losing that we tend to suffer. Not being able to see ourselves without “fill in the blank” is enough to keep us hanging on for dear life! We have a habit of thinking the worst. It’s a bad habit. It does not serve us well. Why don’t we think everything will be wonderful instead? Why automatically think that something is wrong? If we look back, we can see that the last time we felt this way everything turned out fine. Life does have a way of working itself out in the most beautiful way.

Getting older has so many benefits. Time has a way of teaching us through experience. But being optimistic still takes practice. We don’t get it by osmosis. We have to set our minds and our attitudes in the right direction first. If we can be honest and just say; “I don’t know why this happened and I don’t see a way out…yet. But I am willing to see this with new eyes and I trust that my Angels have my back and they have not forsaken me.” This simple thought may bring you peace, even before it has been resolved. And if you have peace of mind, who cares what else is going on? Make it your mantra; everything turns out alright in the end…if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.

You can find Susan Stone at Beaufort Chiropractic. She is an Intuitive healer, Reiki Master, minister and counselor. Author of “We Heard You,” available on Amazon.com You may contact Susan at theriverangel.ss@gmail.com.

Read More →

The Garden Club

By Lee Scott

I joined a Garden Club. I joined because quite frankly, I have no idea what I am doing in my yard. Our house had been vacant for several years before we bought it. It was obvious that the couple that owned the house before us loved to garden because there were multiple garden plots and lots of bushes and flowers growing all over the property. But by the time we occupied the property, there were also plenty of weeds. There I was wearing my bandana and using my machete thrashing through the vines and palms trying to get to the backyard. It was ugly. I had no clue as to what was a healthy plant and what was a weed. My husband and I raked up tons of pine needles, oak leaves and loads of Spanish moss. Then we yanked out vines from tall trees. When I say “yanked”, I mean we yanked. We tied one long vine to the back of our truck and pulled it down into the street. It had to be thirty feet long.

One bush blocking our garage door had to be trimmed back. It surprised us months later. We walked out one morning and our bush had little buds all over it. Our neighbor told us it was a Camellia bush. Who knew! Within a few weeks it was covered with beautiful flowers. We also tended a pathetic barren stick that was sitting in the side yard covered with Spanish moss. We pulled off the moss and clipped back some sad little branches. When it started to grow this spring, we discovered our crepe myrtle tree.

My husband and I readily acknowledged our ignorance of plant life in South Carolina to one another. And although I had grown tomato plants and marigold flowers in the past, I was now in unchartered waters. That was it. Time to get schooled in the art of gardening. Time to join a Garden Club.

If you have never been associated with a Garden Club, then you may have some preconceived notions. I pictured women in their Lilly Pulitzer dresses, sipping tea and talking about their rose gardens. But my neighbor assured me that I was wrong and that I would be pleasantly surprised. She was right! I am amazed at all the things I am learning in my Garden Club and the women who run it. These women are bright, tenacious and oh so helpful. The monthly speakers are fantastic. The most recent speaker talked about butterfly gardens. Suddenly, a term that I had heard about for years had meaning. Evidently butterflies are very good at pollination of crops and flowers, so you want to attract them. And the way to do that is to have the right kinds of flowers. On top of usefulness, butterfly gardens are also quite beautiful.

This past month, rows of Azalea bushes started to bloom in our yard. It made me feel better to know that I could pick up the phone and ask someone about my Azaleas and how to care for them. So my advice if you are thinking about planting a garden or if you are new to the area and do not recognize some of the plant life here in the Lowcountry, join a Garden Club.

Read More →