Diversification.

Chances are good that you are familiar with that word if your retirement plan includes stocks and bonds. People who raise chickens also are likely to be familiar with that term especially if they adhere to the old adage that encourages not putting all the eggs they collect into a single basket.

My wife, Nancy, and I follow that country wisdom as best we can.

When it comes to transportation we will likely keep two vehicles in the future, despite having just one driver in our household these days. Why? If you have just a single vehicle, if it dies you will likely find yourself on foot, unless you have a family member or friend willing to play chauffeur for you.

Our modest retirement portfolio features stocks with moderate risk and some very conservative bonds. Why? We recognize that while we could make more money by investing in high-risk stocks, we also know that it does not take many bad days on the stock market to turn one’s retirement nest egg into an omelette.

Nancy and I are also diversified when it comes to communication.

Several years ago two of my daughters went together to purchase me a simple little cell phone for Father’s Day. The flip phone has proven useful. I have used it on more than one occasion to call Nancy for radar updates while I was out chasing lightning. It has also proven useful when I have been out covering breaking news and needed to reach my editor with an update.

Last year a couple of our kids went together to purchase a higher end phone that is capable of taking top-rate photographs, sending and receiving messages, and accessing the Internet. Nancy also wound up with her late father’s cell phone.

Because we now have three cell phones, we thought long and hard about keeping my track phone when I recently received a notification that its service would be discontinued unless I purchased more minutes for it by Feb. 14. Being one of the great all time procrastinators I waited until that Sunday night to add a small amount of money to my account. As it turned out I am glad we kept the phone active.

On Tuesday morning, just a few minutes after an important online meeting for work had concluded, we lost our Wi-Fi service. At the Henley hacienda the loss of Wi-Fi meant no Internet, which in turn meant no emails could be sent or received. Consequently, while I could write stories on my laptop there was no way for me to send them where they needed to be. Having no Wi-Fi also meant our land-line phones and cell phones would not function, that is with one exception, our flip phone.

After waiting a bit for the problem to correct itself Nancy used the track phone to call our Internet provider to file an outage report. After explaining that we had no Internet service Nancy listened as the operator rattled off a web address at which my wife could contact a technician. Nancy proceeded to burn precious minutes off our track phone explaining why a web address was not particularly helpful at that time.

The day’s frustration did not end there. While waiting for our Wi-Fi to be restored the mail came. Included was a letter from a St. Louis area bank for Nancy requesting information necessary to close out her father’s account. On page two of the multi-page letter was a statement indicating the data that the bank was seeking could be emailed to it. However, just two pages later the bank strongly recommended against emailing sensitive material.

Both situations left me wondering if people really listen to others or themselves anymore.

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