Tag Archives: Stock Market Correction

Rio Olympics & Ballast Point Brewing

The Economy: The economy continues on its path of slow expansion with regional pockets of weakness and strength. If you live in Detroit things are grim. Likewise for California’s Central Valley. If you live in San Diego, well, you’re living in Paradise and the Livin’ is Easy. San Diego’s economy rests on the 3-legs of military spending, tourism and hi-tech/med-tech. Add craft beer to that trifecta with Ballast Point Brewing having recently been sold in a billion dollar deal. Entrepreneurs and their young families are flocking to the county as the allure of sun, surf, schools and simoleons resonates across the rest of the country.

Food for Thought: Economic news has been brushed aside by the 3-Ring Circus known as the 2016 Presidential Election. Who woulda thunk it. The preeminent military and economic power in the history of the planet boogying like a banana republic on steroids. Plato’s Cave would tell us that this is the end of the world as savages leap and yelp around the bonfire. But as the rest of the world looks on in stunned disbelief, we Americans know that this is simply the best and most original entertainment that we’ve seen in decades. Thank the gods for the station-break provided by the Rio Olympics.

Helicopter Money

The Economy: The U.S. economy is continuing on its path of sluggish growth. Once you dial-out the incessant noise you find that there’s been little change in trajectory. The End-of-The-World spasm that we saw with Brexit has been replaced with the usual complacency that central banks will provide additional trillions in debt to keep the global economy moving forward. Yet the Central Bank Follies are dwarfed by the global political circus. It’s May Day in Great Britain as the first woman PM since The Iron Lady, takes the helm. The Chinese claim to the South China Sea was slapped down by The Hague; a first step to internationally sanctioned military action. Our apolitical Supreme Court has jumped into Presidential Politics with one Justice proclaiming that The Donald is unfit to be President. In short, it’s business as usual.

Food for Thought: We continue to advise you to trust your personal experience as a guide to the direction of the economy. From a top-down perspective, the global economy appears to be slowing. Global stock markets are rallying in anticipation of increased central bank stimulus. To us, this is akin to giving a heroin addict more heroin. Though some indices have rallied to new highs, we find it noteworthy that many individual stocks and mutual funds have not participated in the party. For example: Citigroup is down 28% from its 2015 high; Boeing down 18%; Walmart down 19%. We remain cautious and advise taking profits. Restructuring your portfolio may be a prudent move.

Stem Cell Therapy: A Journey, Part 2

Stem Cell Therapy: A Journey, #2

After watching the stock markets implode on quadruple witching, We left my La Jolla office to drive to The Stem Cell Treatment Center on Directors Place, one block north of Mira Mesa Boulevard. Directors Place is located on the new frontage road on the east side of I805.

“We” is my wife and myself. Though stem cell therapy is considered an outpatient procedure and you are told you can drive yourself to and from the appointment, I wanted to make sure I had a backup driver.

My appointment was for 1PM. $8,000 cash. $4000 per hip. As of the date of my treatment, Stem Cell Therapy was not approved by the FDA. So it is called “experimental medicine” and is not covered by medical insurance. A hip replacement, which is approved by the FDA costs a minimum of $35,000 per hip. It is massively invasive and results in cutting the largest bone in your body and replacing it with a manufactured ball and socket. Welcome to life as a Borg.

We drove up the hill from the beach on Camino Del Oro and got on La Jolla Village Drive East. It was a judgment call to go La Jolla Village Drive or to get on I5 north and go east on Sorrento Valley Road. To my chagrin, I chose the former.

It took us 30 minutes to drive the 4 miles from my office in La Jolla to the doctor’s office. We hit every single stoplight during Christmas lunchtime rush hour. Count ‘em 17 stoplights.

The German logic embedded in the BMW navigation system proved to be maddening as we approached the stem cell center. The Prussian My-Way-Or-The-Highway algos didn’t allow me to input the exact address so I had to rely on memory to guide me in to the doctor’s office.

We parked the car, entered the lobby of the surgical building; then went up to the third floor Suite 360. Nobody was in the office except for the nurse receptionist Kathy who I had swapped emails with but had never met.

Medicine is like the Navy; Hurry up and wait. I throttled my impatience and chatted with Kathy. At 10 minutes after 1PM the entire plastics and orthopedic crews showed up. They had been shopping at Costco. They were good naturedly honest about it. They apologized for the traffic; the only legitimate late excuse in Southern California, and all was forgiven. “Andale!”

The stem cell treatment was to be performed in three parts. First was harvesting adipose tissue (fat cells) through liposuction of love handles on the upper butt area. Part two was to centrifuge the extracted 50 mL of fat to get the stem cells. Step three was to inject three vials of 1) stem cells, 2) growth factor and 3) Hyaluronic Acid. Think of the three as, the cells, their food and the molecular lattice structure for the cells to grow on.

Still waiting, I decided to take a coffee break; maybe it would counteract some of my growing impatience. It seemed to work because I was in better spirits when I got back to the waiting room. Bob the Physician’s Assistant introduced himself and told me to saddle-up for lipo.

At this point, I was the only patient in the 3000 square-foot surgical suite. Later my wife told me that after I disappeared behind Oz’s curtain for the liposuction, there was a steady stream of Baby Boomer cash buyers who came through the complex.

I followed Bob back to the treatment room where the liposuction would be performed. I left my Kindle, IPhone, wallet and car keys with My wife in the waiting room.

It turned out that Bob had been a Navy Corpsman. As an Asian American he’d spent his Navy time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Glad I missed Vietnam,” he said. “It was easier to be around the camel jockeys than it would have to be around the gooks.” After getting out of the Navy a few years ago, he tried pharmaceutical sales before coming back to the surgical suite.

Bob began to place me on the lipo gurney when the Plastic Surgeon, Craig, came into the treatment room. Craig explained that he was the Plastics Guy and was only going to do the lipo. When I asked where his medical offices were, he told me that he was an active duty Navy Captain stationed at the Navy Regional Medical Center in Balboa Park.

He said that in a war zone he did wound reconstruction but that most of what he did now was breast cancer reconstruction of the kind done on Angelina Jolie. I mentioned the Boat School and Craig laughed saying, “I was born and raised in Annapolis. My grandfather and uncle were Ring Knockers. I’m 47. It’s taken me 19 years to make Captain. Time to transition.”

“Amen Brother,” I replied. “I did 4-Westpacs when Hong Kong, Olongapo and Singapore were full of the wildest women on the planet.” “I love you, no shit. Buy me a drink!” Bob chimed in. The three of us erupted in laughter

With the testosterone at the appropriate level, I took off my old topsiders and laid face-down in my navy blue sweats on the gurney. Bob asked me to pull the top of my sweats to mid chest and pull down the bottom of my sweats to the bottom of my butt cheeks.

I had met Craig last week at the pre-op conference. As we chatted while Bob prepped me for the liposuction, Craig told me that in order to comply with all regulations, he would take a leave day to perform the lipo on a specific patient group. This was why the stem cell treatments were scheduled for all patients only twice a month on Fridays. The scheduling allowed Craig to take a leave day, perform a couple of dozen liposuctions, make more money in a day then he made in a year as a Navy captain and then go back to his work at Navy regional medical center Balboa Park.

As a Bob draped my butt, Dr. Craig explained what was going to be happening during the liposuction.

He said the most painful part of the procedure was going to be the process where numbing solution was injected into the fat to be removed. He then proceeded to numb the skin in a dozen different places on both sides of my upper butt just below my belt-line.

Next was injecting the numbing solution into the fat … and he was right. The injection of the numbing solution was painful. My body jerked involuntarily in spite of my trying to remain relaxed. I was aware that the jocular talk had tapered off as I focused on the task at hand; trying to play the Terminator without flinching..

My mother was a Registered Nurse. Early on I realized that medical personal never use the word “pain.” Instead, the euphemism “discomfort” is substituted.

I can imagine the field hospital scene at the Battle of Gettysburg. A young soldier whose leg has been shattered by gunfire, is brought into the surgical tent. The drunken butcher who is going to amputate the leg, asks 9-men to hold the patient down because there are no anesthetics. Even the whiskey has run out. As the doctor picks up the bloody saw and positions himself to hack off the offending limb, the terrified patient looks up and whimpers, “Doc, is it gonna hurt?” … and the doctor says, “Son, you’ll just have some discomfort.” …. as piercing screams fill the air … fade to black.

So there was some discomfort; uncomfortable but not unbearable as the area was numbed. Then two small vertical incisions, about ¼ inch in length, were made on each side at the top of my butt cgurney and the lipo began.

Liposuction consists of ramming a hollow tube, called a cannula, back and forth through your fat. The dislodged fat residue is then sucked out of the area. There is nothing delicate about this process of having a foreign object jammed in and out of your body. The motion is the same as that you would use when shooting pool. But unlike shooting pool, the doctor is putting his back into this effort. This “rammin’ and jammin’” was done in silence as the banter gave way to the very physical task at hand.

There is discomfort. But anesthetics do a remarkable job. The occasional pain spike caused my body to jump but Craig was responsive saying, “We won’t go there again” as he rammed and jammed in another direction. He worked a fan shaped area on both sides of my upper butt. When he was done with the left side, he immediately went to work on the right side. In a few short minutes he was done.

He then asked if I was interested in seeing the 50 ml cylinder of extracted fat cells. I was interested. It looked like a cigar size syringe full of pink Smoothie from 7/11..

After 20 minutes of which included prep, the lipo and post lipo wrapping, I was back on my feet and in the waiting room.

Kathy, the reception area nurse, told me that it would take an hour for them to centrifuge the fat cells and extract the stem cells. She recommended that I leave the office and kill an hour with a cup of coffee. She gave me a $20 Starbucks Gift Card and recommended that I drive down the hill to the Scranton Road Shopping Center on the North East corner of I 805 and Mira Mesa Boulevard. Kathy recommended that we be back in the office at 3:30. So at 2:30 PM we left, drove down the hill and got some Christmas cookies and hot chocolate at Starbucks.

The shopping center is adjacent to the infamous red “Dog Dick’ sculpture that is in front of the San Diego Tech Center building. The sculpture was erected in the mid 1980’s. It used to be easily seen from I805. Now you have to be on Scranton Road to see it. But there it is. “Dog Dick” reigns supreme in its turgid 100 feet of .fire-engine-red glory; pointing at the sky awaiting the Mother of all Bitches.

After sitting out in front of Starbucks enjoying the 70 degree weather, we drove back to the surgical center.

We arrived back in the surgical office at 3:30PM. I was met in the waiting room by the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Pete, who was going to perform the stem cell injections. My wife again sat in the waiting room while I was ushered into the treatment room which was located across from the nurses station. After a quick introduction, Pete disappeared after turning me over to Bob for prep.

When I entered the treatment room, I noticed that there was an intravenous drip (IV drip) set up next to the treatment gurney. Bob commented that my stem cell count was about 85 million cells which was the upper end of the norm. Bob asked me to lay on my back on the gurney. The IV drip contained saline solution. Bob told me that treatment now included a systemic injection of a portion of the stem cells through an IV drip back into the patient’s body. He said that this had reduced or eliminated a variety of aches and pains in patients that had received it. This was good news. Self-medication continues to recede. “Fire when ready Gridley!”

As Bob searched for an appropriate vein in my left arm, I told him that my veins rolled. As a blood donor I’d gotten in the habit of telling the help because my rolling veins had been problematic. On more than one occasion I’d had to stop some dullard who confused vivisection with medical care, as they continuously tried to harpoon my rolling veins. Eventually I began to address all medical technicians as Doctor Moreau whenever I sat down and began to roll up my sleeve to give blood. Many times the technician would disdainfully tell me, “I’m not a Doctor.”

Duh!

But Bob was the real McCoy. His aim was true and in no time my own stem cells were coursing back into my body on the IV drip. When the injection was done, Bob removed the needle from my left arm, and put a bandage on the spot. Then the door opened and Pete came in.

While Bob prepared the sonogram transducer with KY and positioned the screen, Pete explained the injection procedure. He showed me the three vials and explained that the largest containing the stem cells would be injected first, followed by a smaller volume of growth factor and a third volume of hyaluronic acid aka “rooster comb.”

The procedure was similar to the cortisone injections that I’d previously had. With me lying on my side, the Doc selected a spot directly above my hip joint. Then an aerosol can of numbing solution was sprayed on the point of entry for the 4-inch hollow needle. The Doc drove the needle straight down into the hip joint while Bob sprayed the impact zone with the local anesthesia. Once the needle had been guided into the joint using the sonogram, the stem cells were injected with Dr. Pete looking at the sonogram display and injecting the cells into specific areas of the hip joint. On my left hip this was a slow and painful process as he moved the needle around within the joint. I could feel the stem cell solution going into my joint and the resulting pressure of having the area around the hip joint expanded by fluid. The stem cells were followed by the growth factor and then the hyaluronic acid.

The process for my right hip went much faster. Pete again drove the needle straight down into my hip joint. He then injected the entire stem cell solution quickly without having to work the needle. Next, as he injected the growth factor and hyaluronic acid, he explained that my left hip had been “dry.” Injecting the left hip had been more painful and had gone more slowly because there was little natural lubricant in the left hip joint.

My right hip, however, was full of fluid because it was more inflamed. This is consistent with what I had experienced since my last Cortisone shot 90 days ago. I went into that Cortisone shot with my left hip more painful than my right. I came out with my right hip more painful. It has subsequently remained more painful. Uh …. I mean there had been more discomfort!

The stem cell injection procedure from beginning to end took half an hour from the moment that I walked in and lay down on the gurney until I got back up and was escorted out of the room by Bob.

When I left the treatment room, Pete, Craig and Bob were all standing at the nurses station. I stopped for a moment to thank them. They asked what I did for a living. When I said that I owned a wealth management firm, they began talking about the venture-capital opportunities available in the stem cell space in San Diego.

My wife and I left the Stem Cell Center at 4:15PM with a Vicodin script. We drove straight to Ralphs Pharmacy to get it filled. Sorry Charlie, Pete had mis-dated the script 12/19 instead of 12/18 so the pharmacy wouldn’t fill the script. The pharmacist wouldn’t give the script back to us so we were stuck with having to come back after midnight to pick it up.

I just laughed. Thank you God for all my blessings!

7 Realities of Life

7 Realities Of Life from the Libertarian Republic

1. Your Feelings Are Largely Irrelevant

Seriously, nobody who has already graduated college cares about your feelings. That means that when you complain to your boss because your co-worker mis-gendered you, he’s probably not going to bend over backwards to bandage your wounds. Given feelings are entirely subjective in nature, it’s completely unreasonable to demand everyone tip-toe around you to prevent yours from being hurt. The reality is that people will offend you and hurt your feelings, and they won’t stop to mop up your tears because they shouldn’t have to. Learning to accept criticism, alternative viewpoints, and even outright insults will make you happier in the long run than routinely playing the victim card.

2. You Cannot Be Whatever You Want To Be

This is a comforting lie parents have started telling their children to boost their morale in school. Unfortunately, millennials are now convinced it’s true, especially as society has now decided to push this narrative as well. The reality is if you’re 17 years old and still can’t figure out basic division, you’re not going to be a rocket scientist. If you’re overweight and unattractive, you’re not going to be the quarterback’s prom date. If you lack fine motor skills, you’re not going to be a heart surgeon. It’s okay to accept that you cannot be whatever you want to be. In fact, once you accept this, you’ll be able to focus on the things you can be — the things you really are talented at.

3. Gender Studies Is A Waste Of Money

You heard me. While some millennials taking useless degrees will claim they’re beneficial for teaching or research positions, the reality is that they just put themselves several thousands dollars in debt to learn how to be a professional victim. While you’re struggling to make ends meet after graduation because nobody who pays more than minimum wage is interested in your qualifications and you’re drowning in student loan debt, be sure to check out the next harsh reality before you start complaining.

4. If You Live In America, You’re Already In The 1%

That’s right. Even though you work at McDonald’s for minimum wage because you got a useless, outrageously expensive college degree, you’re still far better off than the vast majority of the planet. Don’t believe me? Fly to Uganda and check out the living conditions there. Fly to China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran, Russia, and even European countries like Ukraine and Greece, and you’ll quickly discover just how well-off you really are. While it may be cool these days to dump on capitalism, it’s the only reason you aren’t already worse off.

5. You Don’t Have A Right To It Just Because You Exist

That includes healthcare, guaranteed income, and somewhere to live. Just because you’re here and breathing doesn’t mean society owes you anything. Like the billions of people who lived before you, working hard is a better guarantor of wealth and the ability to comfortably take care of yourself than begging society or the government to do it for you. Demanding healthcare be a right, for example, is equivalent to demanding government force the taxpayer to pay for it. While that may seem like a good idea in theory, it only leads to rationing of care when costs become unsustainable, which negatively impacts not just your health, but everyone else’s, too.

6. You DO Have The Right To Live As You Please — But Not To Demand People Accept It

By contrast, you do have the right to live however you please, so long as it’s within the confines of the law. If you want to cross-dress, smoke marijuana, drink lots of alcohol, have lots of sex, and, yes, even go to school for gender studies, then by all means, go for it. Government should not be allowed to legislate people’s behavior as long as it doesn’t infringe upon someone else’s rights, but that doesn’t mean society isn’t allowed to have an opinion. You don’t have the right to demand people keep their opinions about your lifestyle to themselves, especially if you’re open and public about it. I have as much of a right to comment on the way you live your life as you do to actually live it. Your feelings are not a protected right, but my speech is.

7. The Only Safe Space Is Your Home

No matter where you go in life, someone will be there to offend you. Maybe it’s a joke you overheard on vacation, a spat at the office, or a difference of opinion with someone in line at the grocery store. Inevitably, someone will offend you and your values. If you cannot handle that without losing control of your emotions and reverting back to your “safe space” away from the harmful words of others, then you’re best to just stay put at home. Remember, though: if people in the outside world scare you, people on the internet will downright terrify you. It’s probably best to just accept these harsh realities of life and go out into the world prepared to confront them wherever they may be waiting.

Oil Production Caps

The Economy: The Fed Beige Book was released today. It confirmed the “New Normal” of our slow growth economy. The Fed found the consumer healthy and spending. Ironically, the Commerce Department released the Retail Sales numbers today. Their numbers showed a decline in consumer spending with a sharp drop in automobile sales. Right Hand; Left Hand. Oil ministers meet this weekend in an attempt to prop-up the price of oil with a production cap. Iran is considered to be the linchpin in this effort but their oil minister will not be attending. Like a wedding with a runaway bride, the meeting is DOA without Iran. The Fed minutes and Yellen’s recent comments have been parsed for read-the-tea-leaves guidance to monetary policy. “Global” and “uncertain” were repeatedly used by Yellen to describe issues facing the Fed. One pundit noted that the Fed has never publically used the term “uncertain.” So again, the end of the world is nigh. We continue to temper our concerns for slow-growth megatrends. Demographics and student loans may be problematic but we don’t think entitlement laden Americans are anywhere near rioting in the streets as some talking heads have opined. After all, this Sunday is Opening Day at the San Diego Yacht Club.

Food for Thought: The Department of Labor (DOL) has released its proposed “fiduciary” rules. The proposed rules have significant impact on 401ks. Many 401ks and deferred compensation plans haven’t been reviewed since they were implemented. Now is a good time to get that review process going. Contact us if you would like help with this issue.

Helicopter Money

The Economy:  Economic data released this week confirmed a growing U.S. economy: Pending home sales up; Personal income up; Consumer spending up; Home prices up; Consumer confidence up; ADP Employment report in line. But the headlines belonged to Fed Chair Yellen and her speech on Tuesday. Yellen assured markets that the Fed would go slowly on any future rate hikes … if in fact they occur in 2016 at all. The expanding U.S. economy is no longer reason to hike rates. Yellen cited global uncertainty and potential fallout from recent events as justifying a slower path of rate increases. She made it clear that the Fed still has room for additional stimulus but that it can hike if the economy grows faster than expected. Global financial markets were ecstatic over the prospect of continued easy money.

Food for Thought: In the 1970s we had “stagflation.” The economy was stagnating with little growth but inflation was a problem. Eventually inflation rocketed and it was the Volcker Fed that whipped inflation with 21% money markets and a 15% 30-year U.S. Treasury. Now we have a Fed beholden to zero interest rates (ZIRP), considering negative interest rates (NIRP) and thinking about helicopter money. Our concern is that the Fed induced financial engineering, which has driven stocks higher, will end with the gravy train going off a cliff. The first 10% correction in 4-years was met with panic by global central bankers intent on continuing to inflate asset bubbles. In this investing environment, know what you own and why you own it.

Super Mario Draghi Rules

The Economy: Super Mario Draghi continues his legacy of Shock and Aw Shucks. We haven’t seen this kind of Italian Brass since Caesar crossed the Rubicon. Today Mario announced an aggressive expansion of ECB stimulus. Interest rates were cut further into deeper negative territory. Quantitative Easing was expanded by 30% from 60 Billion/month to 80 Billion/month. But the biggest change was adding corporate bonds to assets that the ECB can purchase. Global financial markets were not impressed. Moving into private sector debt is a Rubicon. What next? … Central Bank ownership of stocks, then real estate? Perhaps the ECB’s solution to slow growth is for the Central Bank to own all member assets and means of production. Nice way to come back to Marxism. Stalin and Mao must be gloating. Break out the Hammer and Sickle and fire up The Internationale.

Food for Thought: This week marks the 7th anniversary of the Bull Market. Stocks celebrated by trading down and breaking a 5-week rally. We continue to recommend that investors take profits and raise cash. The selloff that marked the first 6-weeks of the year has been arrested. But as we look out over the environment, we find it difficult find the drivers of growth that would power financial markets to meaningful new highs. Selling positions and moving into a money market fund is particularly prudent with retirement plan assets or annuities. In many cases investors can cherry-pick positions to sell within the same mutual fund. This is called a “Versus Purchase” transaction (VSP). We’re into tax season, now is a good time to review and protect your retirement assets. Buy and hold has worked for the past 7-years. Nothing lasts forever.

Annuities

The Economy: Data released this week shows a US economy that is continuing to slowly expand. Consumption, GDP and employment appear to be growing. The Beige Book, which is the Fed’s summary and analysis of economic activity, confirmed a mixed picture of slow growth. Manufacturing is flat and productivity growth is questionable. Confusing? Yep. The question is: Can the US avoid the fallout from the confirmed slowdown in China, The EU, Russia, Brazil and Venezuela … to name a few. Think Global Act Local. It’s hard to feel your pain in San Diego, the land of eternal sunshine. Here we have booming tourism, real estate, biotech and massive defense spending as the US reorients its focus from NATO to our “Strategic Competitor” China. (Shoutout to Glenn for the PC euphemism. Back in the day when men were iron and ships were wood, they were called enemies).

Food for Thought: Annuities can be an effective part of your investment and retirement planning. Their features and benefits continue to evolve with the changing economic environment. Like any investment, they must be reviewed periodically to confirm they are still relevant to your goals. Contact us if you’d like help in evaluating these complex instruments.

Proverbs 2:1

You’re never too old to learn.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

A word to the wise is sufficient.

Talk is cheap.

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Nice guys finish last.

The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

Silence is golden.

A stitch in time saves nine.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Uber Buyer Beware Uber

Uber is the most famous of the Unicorns. A Unicorn being a private company, in the pre-IPO pipeline, valued at more than $1 billion. Uber is the Big Dog in this space. It is seen by some as more valuable than AT&T, Kraft Foods, Delta Air Lines, General Mills, General Motors, CBS, Northrop Grumman,  Kroger, Hershey, Harley Davidson, Campbell Soup, Clorox, Hertz, MGM or Mattel.

Some say this high valuation is a fantasy number. They point to the fact that Uber is not a technology company but is a service company. After all, they don’t make anything but rather provide the service of connecting riders and drivers. Both rider and driver use their own cell phones to access the Uber service.

I used Uber for the first time this past week. It was not the experience that I expected. Uber has marketed itself as the “Anti-Cab Company” … as the alternative to the money-grubbing monopolistic cabbies with their fixed rates and arrogance.

I discovered that, contrary to their marketing image, Uber is just another cab company. Their technology may be different but the often adversarial relationship between driver and rider is very much alive.

A significant negative for Uber is that they stack the deck against riders with “Surge Pricing.” My experience with Surge Pricing was that it changed by the second and raised my fare by 350%. My 2-mile trip from Union Station to the Los Angeles Ritz Carlton cost $40. Yep, you read that right. $40 for a two mile ride. If that isn’t money grubbing highway robbery, please tell me what is. This occurred after the Uber driver who initially responded to my call, cancelled on me after I had stood in the 90 degree afternoon heat for 15-minutes waiting.

In all my years of taking conventional cabs, I have never had a cab that was dispatched, cancel on me by the driver. … and I’ve never had a fare jacked by 350% … anywhere in the world.

Having been burned by Uber, I took a conventional cab on the return trip from my hotel back to Union Station. The conventional cab cost $15 dollars including tip. There was no question of the cabbie cancelling on me. There was no question of the fare jumping to $55.

Uber may have its place as a recreational provider, but if you want true professionalism and reliability take a conventional cab.