"Even the gods love jokes." - Plato
Although Christmas is nearly a week away, it seemed more appropriate to burden readers with the annual Christmas joke column now than the day after Christmas. By the day after, the tree is still dead and the spirit is fading.
This tradition began nearly a millennium ago, when the crush of year-end stock-table activities made it necessary to cheat from the usual sermon on superbull markets - which takes days to compose - and type the year's best jokes.
Consider it a holiday gift for putting up with the conventional ramblings. This intro is already too long - our joke cup runneth over. But we must thank all the sources: Steve Leuthold's clients, who submit jokes for his monthly investment newsletter; Eric Miller of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, who collects witty stuff for the company's semi-monthly publication; Don Gher of Bellevue's Coldstream Capital, who missed his calling as a comic; and, your loyal scribe's firstborn son Tom, who scoured the Web for every funny story it had.
Joke No. 1:
Reaching the end of a job interview, the human-resources person asked a young engineer fresh out of MIT, "And, what starting salary were you looking for?"
The engineer said, "In the neighborhood of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package."
The interviewer said, "Well, what would you say to a package of five weeks' vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company-matching retirement fund to 50 percent of salary, and a company car leased every two years - say, a red Corvette?"
The engineer sat up straight and said, "Wow! Are you kidding?"
And the interviewer said, "Yeah, but you started it."
Joke No. 2:
A golfer addressed his ball, getting ready to hit. Suddenly, a voice came over the public-address system: "Will the gentleman on the ladies' tee please move back to the men's tee?"
The golfer looked up, then resumed his position. The voice again: "Will the man on the red tees move back to the white tees?"
He looked back at the starter's shack and said, "Will the man on the p.a. shut up so the man on the ladies' tee can hit his second shot?"
Joke No. 3:
A doctor, a lawyer, a little boy and a priest rode in a small private plane. Engine trouble developed. Despite the pilot's efforts, the plane started down. The pilot grabbed a parachute, told the passengers to jump, and he bailed out.
But there were only three parachutes left. The doctor grabbed one and said, "I'm a doctor, I save lives, so I must live." He jumped.
The lawyer said, "I'm a lawyer and lawyers are the smartest people in the world. I deserve to live." He grabbed a parachute and jumped.
The priest looked at the little boy and said, "My son, I've lived a long and full life. You are young and have your whole life ahead of you. Take the last parachute and live in peace."
The little boy handed the parachute back and said, "Not to worry, father. The `smartest man in the world' just took off with my backpack."
Joke No. 4:
A marine biologist developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if fed a steady diet of seagulls. One day, his supply of the birds ran out, so he had to go out and trap some more.
On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road. Afraid to wake them, he gingerly stepped over them. Immediately, he was arrested and charged with transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.
Joke No. 5:
Bubba brags to his boss, "You know, I know everyone there is to know. Just name someone, anyone."
The boss calls his bluff: "Okay, Bubba, how about Tom Cruise?"
"Sure, Tom and I are old friends, and I can prove it."
Bubba and his boss fly to Hollywood and knock on Tom's door. Sure enough, Cruise shouts, "Bubba, great to see you! You and your friend come right in and join me for lunch."
Bubba's boss is impressed, but skeptical. Afterward, he tells Bubba he thinks he was just lucky. "Just name someone else," Bubba says.
"President Clinton," the boss says. "Yes, I know him, let's fly to Washington," Bubba replies. Off they go.
At the White House, Clinton spots Bubba and motions him and his boss over. "Bubba, what a surprise. I was just on my way to a meeting, but you and your friend come on in and let's have a cup of coffee first and catch up."
Now the boss is shaken, but still not totally convinced. After leaving the White House, he expresses his doubt. Bubba implores him to to name another.
"The Pope," says the boss. "Sure," says Bubba. "My folks are from Poland, and I've known the Pope a long time."
They fly to Rome. Bubba and his boss are assembled with the masses in Vatican Square when Bubba says, "This will never work. I can't catch the Pope's eye among all these people. Tell you what, I know all the guards, so let me just go upstairs and I'll come out on the balcony with the Pope."
Bubba disappears into the crowd. A half hour later, Bubba emerges with the Pope on the balcony. But by the time Bubba returns, he finds his boss has had a heart attack and is surrounded by paramedics. Working his way to his boss's side, Bubba asks, "What happened?"
His boss looks up and says, "I was doing fine until you and the Pope came out on the balcony and the man next to me said, `Who's that on the balcony with Bubba?' "
Joke No. 6:
An Indian chief was feeling very sick, so he summoned the medicine man. After a brief examination, the medicine man took out a long, thin strip of elk hide and gave it to the chief, instructing him to bite off, chew and swallow one inch of the leather every day. After a month, the medicine man returned to see how the chief was feeling. The chief shrugged and said, "The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on."
Joke No. 7:
So this frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller. He can see from the teller's nameplate that her name is Patricia Whack.
"Ms. Whack, I'd like to get a loan to buy a boat and go on a trip."
Patti looks at the frog in disbelief and asks how much he wants to borrow. The frog says $30,000. The teller asks his name. The frog says it is Kermit Jagger and that it's okay, he knows the bank manager.
Patti explains $30,000 is a substantial amount of money and he will need collateral against the loan. She asks what he can use as collateral.
The frog reaches into his pocket and produces a tiny pink porcelain elephant, about a half inch tall. Bright pink and perfectly formed. Very confused, Patti explains she'll have to consult with the manager, and disappears into a back office.
"There's a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow $30,000. And he wants to use this as collateral." She holds up the tiny pink elephant. "What should I do?"
The bank manager looks back at her and says:
"It's a knick knack, Patti Whack. Give the frog a loan. His old man's a Rolling Stone."
Enjoy the holidays!
Stocks and bonds
The Dow Jones industrial average last week ended with a 32.73-point gain at 11,257.43.
The WM Group Northwest 50, 50 stocks weighted by their regional economic impact, rose 445.86 points to 8,057.04.
The benchmark 30-year U.S. Treasury bond slumped $30 per $1,000 of face value to $963.75 per $1,000 of face value. Market pros fear the Federal Reserve Board might take action at its meeting Tuesday, even though most predict the Fed will not raise rates.
The economy is speeding along at too hot a pace, pros say. Were it not for concerns about computer-related problems as the year 2000 dawns, the Feds would increase interest rates Tuesday to slow the economy.
Bearish economic news and poor liquidity scalped municipal bonds, reported Judith Cochrane, Banc of America Securities managing director and senior municipal trader. She said selling was punctuated by individuals taking tax losses to offset stock-market gains.
The Bank of America Northwest Muni index rose 0.10, elevating the average yield to 6.08 percent.
Wall Street Recap appears Sunday in the Business section of The Seattle Times. Greg Heberlein's phone message number is 206-464-2267. His e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
. READERS PORTFOLIO . 10 NW STOCKS PREFERRED BY READERS .
. Alaska Air -24.2 . Amazon.com +75.7 . Boeing +17.4 . Costco +25.5 . Icos -7.6 . Micron Technology +41.4 . Microsoft +66.2 . Starbucks -6.9 . Visio +22.5 . Washington Mutual -33.4 .
. Average: +17.7%. .
. What $1,000 invested in those stocks would be today: $1,177. .
. READERS' NON-PORTFOLIO . 10 NW STOCKS PICKED RANDOMLY .
. Avista -19.5 . Horizon Financial -22.8 . Micron Technology +41.4 . Penford -10.5 . Precision Castparts -44.9 . Puget Sound Energy -31.4 . Pyramid Breweries +20.8 . SeaMed +11.7 . Summit Design -59.1 . Westower -32.0 .
. Average: -14.6%.
. What $1,000 invested in those stocks would be today: $854.