Bam, mentioned William Bernstein, who wrote the preface to the Jonathan Clements investment book I mentioned a few months ago. He offers excellent, solid principles for investing.
Loved Clements' articles back when he was with the WSJ. I gave up my subscription after he and Greg Ip left. Sad days for the WSJ.
Everything you said is spot on about investing. I use the Coffehouse Portfolio as my benchmark because it's a fully indexed buy and hold portfolio with very little effort involved. With a little more research you could squeeze out better returns, but piling in when the market dips, and taking profits when the market roars is tough.
I wouldn't even consider gold as an investment though. A safer option would be gold related stocks.
I bet you'd be much happier in the long run though if you took what you'd like to invest in gold and buy 50% each of VGPMX and VGENX.... a very nice inflation hedge.