THE KAERU KID: Meeting Warren Buffett

Not all my travels are to exotic foreign countries, as this trip will illustrate. A retired pilot friend, Captain Dave, owns 10 shares of Berkshire Hathaway and invited me to attend the annual meeting of the company in Omaha, Neb. He said airline captains are noted for being frugal and knowing how I travel, he asked for some ideas. He must have been quite frugal to be able to buy so many shares in this company (one share now sells for around $170,000).

We traveled there via Southwest Airlines, which is among the industry leaders in having an economical price for many communities. The airline he flew for does not land here. I arranged for a stay at a private home via airbnb.com. The owner named it “Heavenly Acres” and it was in an upscale neighborhood with most homes having huge lawns in front and also large backyards. It was beautiful, but all I could think of was the amount of gardening required. The cost was $68 a night for two people, but we were provided separate bedrooms and private bath. Captain Dave was amazed to learn it cost each of us only $34 a night, with free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast, although I learned that they now charge $5 for breakfast service. Accommodation prices are increased during this time and Holiday Inn Express, for example, had rates for more than $400 when usual rates are in the $100 range.

Berkshire Hathaway provides many activities during its shareholders’ meeting weekend. It started with a free buffet Friday afternoon at a mall that contained a jewelry store (Borsheims) and furniture store owned by the company.  Shareholders are encouraged to browse these stores, where special discounts are provided. Appetizers, small sandwiches and drinks were at the buffet, but the lines were extremely long (I guess most shareholders are also frugal). Captain Dave and I went to a restaurant that our hosts recommended, called Charlie’s On The Lake. Midwesterners must have huge appetites because the portions were humongous.

We heard tornado warnings were possible, and asked our waiter what happens if there is such an alert. He said they would notify all the diners and herd us into the food freezer, which was built especially as a tornado shelter.

The next morning after breakfast we drove to the CenturyLink Center Omaha for an intimate meeting — along with more than 35,000 others, that is — with Warren Buffett and vice chairman, Charlie Munger. The meeting was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. but on arrival at 8 a.m., all seats in the main auditorium were already full and we had to go into satellite rooms where huge TV screens displayed the stage. We first saw an introductory with a humorous story, which stars Buffett. Then Buffett and Munger held a Q-and-A-format session. Buffett has a folksy way of answering questions, while Munger is a man of few words. Two sentences answers were long.

After a few hours of interesting insights into the several companies that Berkshire owns, Captain Dave and I went to the exhibition area where all the companies under the Berkshire umbrella have products on display and for sale at a discount for shareholders. I found prices were not a bargain even with the discount.

GOING TO NEBRASKA ­— The Kid travels to Omaha, Neb. to attend a Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting at CenturyLink  Center Omaha (top), but also stops by Ashland, Neb., to see a SR71, Blackbird spy plane on display at the Strategic Air & Space Museum. photo by the Kaeru Kid

GOING TO NEBRASKA ­— The Kid travels to Omaha, Neb. to attend a Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting at CenturyLink Center Omaha (top), but also stops by Ashland, Neb., to see a SR71, Blackbird spy plane on display at the Strategic Air & Space Museum. photo by the Kaeru Kid

Having our fill of these exhibits, we had lunch and then drove to nearby Richland to tour a museum that featured an SR-71 Blackbird spy plane and many other airplanes. Captain Dave, who learned to fly in the Royal Canadian Air Force, showed me three types of plane that he flew. In a previous visit to Omaha, I visited several excellent art galleries in the Old Town area, but we did not have time to do so on this trip.

2020 Japanese Culture Guide

2020 Japanese Culture Guide

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