MAMARONECK, NEW YORK – Greetings from my dad’s one-bedroom apartment…

It’s time for our Friday mailbag edition, where I answer the latest questions you’ve sent in.

This week, readers respond to my battle with depression, and to a fellow reader’s claim that “the success rate of chemotherapy is pathetic at best.”

Meanwhile, others share their good fortune following our shipping trade… their experience with a gold-backed debit card service… and question my decision to buy Series I Savings Bonds.

But first… a letter from a reader who knew my mother and just found my eulogy for her

Reader comment: I’m retired from London guiding and I now live in Florida. I have just heard about your mother’s passing and I wanted to let you know how sorry I was to hear the news and also to say how comforting I found your eulogy.

I first met Teddy in 1987, the year I started guiding. I remember it well; we met in Westminster Abbey. She was working for a company called Golden Tours and I was working for Evan Evans. We became firm friends and would often find ourselves on the same tours and we would always arrange to meet for lunch whenever possible. Teddy taught me how to enjoy good champagne and how to make a decent gin and tonic.

We lost touch around 2012 when I decided that I’d had enough of guiding and moved to Florida. I met her once more, I think it was around 2013/14. She was having a lot of renovation work done on the house and she didn’t have much strength; she was very busy with the work taking place so we met once and I didn’t see her again.

With one thing and another, including the Covid pandemic, I haven’t been in the U.K. since 2018. It came as such a shock to hear of Teddy’s passing. I was hoping that I’d be able to catch up with her this coming summer when I intend to be back in the U.K. She was a wonderful friend to me. I will always remember her beautiful smile and I will miss her very much.

Wow, what an amazing letter. You knew my mother! Thanks for writing in. I’m speechless. What a coincidence…

Reader comment: Thanks for your candor about your bout of depression. A few years ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, a not surprising diagnosis given my state, but still hard to accept. I am also an alcoholic, a common differential diagnosis for bipolar. I was in my late sixties when diagnosed.

I have come to accept that mental illness is a serious disease, and my brain is “broken,” but it is a lonely existence. I have confided in a couple of friends who at the time seemed somewhat empathetic… but interestingly, they have never once asked how I am doing. Contrast that with how they would have reacted if I told them I had cancer or heart disease. The condition, for the most part, is swept under the carpet.

I am sober now, and cope with golf, exercise, studying markets (precious metals and oil) and economic history, reading, and watching Netflix. I am also on some serious medications, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers. I struggle every day with the type of ruminations you describe and wonder if I can ever regain control of my thoughts. So thanks again. You gave me hope.

We share many of the same pastimes! Do you play cards? We’re learning poker at the moment on our smartphones using a poker app called ClubGG.

Let us know if you want to join our game sometime. Thanks for your candor… and for writing in.

Reader comment: The comments from another reader about the “pathetic” results of radiation or chemotherapy are misinformed, and it would be a pity if people blindly rejected such treatments.

Much effort goes into investigating the risks and benefits of treatments in the various malignancies, and they are unlikely to be offered unless there is evidence of benefit in clinical trials.

The best approach is a combination of “conventional” methods and complementary medicine – lifestyle, diet, and possibly other “alternative” treatments – combining to provide optimism and to give the best chances of survival and quality of life. I do hope that your father does well; your stay is probably doing him a power of good.

Thanks for the kind message.

The daily games of pool, ping pong, and Nerts (a card game we play, also called Racing Demon) with his grandsons are doing more for his health than anything else.

In the meantime, we’re going to keep going to the cancer hospital in White Plains.

Reader question: As I see it, the primary risk on your bonds is that you depend on the government to count inflation honestly. They may say that inflation is running at 6% and increase the value of the bonds to match, but if your purchasing power is declining by double or more that rate, which is pretty much how I see it, you will lose. How does your analysis differ from mine?

You’re right. It’s a small risk. But 7.12% is a good interest rate to get from a short-term, inflation-protected savings bond issued by the U.S. Treasury. The only shame is we couldn’t put more dollars into it.

Reader comment: I have followed you for a number of years and am a Legacy member, so I get all your stuff. The shipping trade has worked well for me.

My father was transferred to the New York office of his company when I was in seventh grade and we lived in Mamaroneck. I graduated from Mamaroneck High School in 1967.

It intrigues me that your father lives in an apartment since the only apartments I remember were above the downtown stores. I drove a taxi in the area for six months when my father had terminal cancer so I got to know things pretty well. I’m sure new apartments have been built since then. My mother moved away in 1976 and that was the end of my connection to Mamaroneck.

I admire how you choose to live and raise your children. I imagine they will grow up to be special people. Thank you for everything.

I’m happy to hear the shipping trade has worked well for you. It still has a long way to go. All the makings of a robust, multi-year bull market are there. We continue to hold a basket of diversified shipping companies in my Tom’s Portfolio advisory.

Grandpa’s apartment is so close to Mamaroneck High School that, when our balcony doors are open, we can hear the kids yelling on the sports ground. I’m sure it hasn’t changed much since you went there.

There are high school kids all over the place. They hang out in the pizza place across from it. Or at the Starbucks down the street. They fascinate our kids. Our kids can’t stop staring at them… and at the school itself… when we walk past.

Reader comment: I use Kinesis and was drawn to them by the yield engines they have established on the system. Yields are paid out of system transaction fees. I minted Kinesis gold units in what they called the Public Minting Offer. I now receive a minter’s yield. Kinesis also just paid out a retrospective holder’s yield… If you hold your balance, you get a yield paid in the Kinesis currency you hold (KAU or KAG). They have a redemption process if you wish to exchange for something physical.

To me it seemed legit and I am pretty confident. I am a believer in holding gold and silver (I have significantly more in a pool allocated fund with a refinery in Australia, as I am Australian) but I am considering trying to transfer some to Kinesis so I can earn more yield.

Be great if someone of your experience were to look into this and give feedback to users. The more people who join the system, the more it benefits all users. Kinesis is upgrading its debit card offering so I don’t use this as yet.

Thanks for writing in. I’ll definitely look into this…

And that’s all for this week! As always, please keep your questions and comments coming at [email protected]. I’ll address as many as I can in future Friday mailbag editions.

– Tom Dyson

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