Year end note – December 2020

For those of you that are looking for last minute investment ideas, this post will be of little use, so you may want to cut bait quickly. While most of the content on this site is rife with numbers and estimates of various probable (or improbable) events, this one is a distinct departure. But, if you have time on your hands, and are comfortable with a bit of philosophical musing, read on….

I think it would be a fair statement to say that 2020 has been a less than stellar year, regardless of the context. Some more eloquent colleagues of mine have suggested that 2020 has “sucked ass”, and while that language may offend some, I would tend to agree with that assessment. The onset of COVID-19, ongoing lockdowns, widespread unemployment, rioting in major cities, and divisive political rhetoric have all contributed to a distinctly negative tone, and most of us will be glad to see 2020 come to an end. While no one can unequivocally state that 2021 will be better, I’m guessing most of us are hoping for that.

However, there are a few days left in 2020, and in those last few days (and nights), there is one “Grey Swan” left that is free, beautiful, and may offer a moment of peace in an otherwise painfully hectic (and noisy) world.

Today (December 29th, 2020) is the day of the “Cold full Moon“, the last (and highest) full moon of the year. If you happen to live in a snowy climate, this means you may be witness to a confluence of events that constitutes what I would suggest is a Grey Swan of sorts.

When I was much younger, I grew up in a small Canadian town where there were few (if any) streetlights, and once it was dark, it was really dark. However, I do have distinct recollections of those few nights in the winter when it wasn’t snowing, the sky was crystal clear, it was cold (but not too cold), and there was a full moon. On those evenings, you didn’t need any light, as that giant flashlight in the sky bathed the world in blue luminescence that was amplified by the snow cover. As I got older, I made it a point to get outside on evenings like that, as that combination of events is worth taking in. While I can’t profess to say what the actual probability of such an event is, some very rough math tells me that “small” is the right word. If one assumes a 50% probability of a clear night, a 50% probability of full snow cover on the ground, a 50% probability of “goldilocks” temperatures which won’t freeze fingers and toes, and the ~10% (3 days our of 31) that the moon is effectively full, the conditional probability is 1.25%. The point here is not to prove out the math, but that this happens less often than one would think. For those of you that are mathematically inclined, my apologies for any incorrect use of nomenclature.

So what does that mean for you (or me)? Well, given that 2020 has proven to be so ugly, it would seem to me that it makes sense to partake in a moment where one can enjoy something rare and beautiful, that also offers up a chance to get away from the “Sturm und Drang” that is daily life. If you have the chance, bundle up and take a walk outside in the moonlight. If you can find a place that is away from the glare of city lights, all the better, and if you live in a rural setting, you will have a front row seat. Small moments of tranquility like this are guaranteed not to last, and if nothing else, you will have a few moments of time to yourself. Trust me – once you get back to the office (or the home), life will assume the same frenetic pace, and will continue to throw curveballs at you.

This is likely the last post of this year, so with that in mind, we wish you all the best for the remaining Holiday Season, and best wishes for the New Year. See you in 2021.