Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
- Is the Earth getting warmer? Yes, I think that's easy enough to demonstrate.
- Is pollution bad and should we lower carbon emissions? Yes. Nature is a beautiful thing and we should do all reasonable things we can think of to preserve it and ourselves.
- Don't you love polar bears? Of course. I've loved polar bears since watching Binky the Polar Bear at the Anchorage Zoo throw a pink bowling ball around like a leaf.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
One of the great things about the Internet is that it creates opportunities for mass amounts of creativity and wittiness. Or perhaps it facilitates the exposure of people's inherent creativity. I'm not sure, but this is a great example of finding creativity in unusual places.
Read the comments/reviews for this gallon of milk.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
However, one lesson I thought of is learning to accept stupid. I struggle with this a lot, but it's something everyone working in the corporate world will need to come to realize and ultimately come to accept. By accepting stupid, we can deal with stupid with much less stress and irritation. As we rebel against stupid and try to make stupid smart, we only fight the good fight that cannot be won.
Stupid is stupid. It won't change. No matter how much evidence, reason, yelling or process you throw at it, stupid will always be stupid.
What am I talking about? As a project manager you have to deal with all types of personalities and scenarios. At some point during the project something stupid is going to come up. You'll realize it's stupid and object, but stupid will persist. For whatever reason, (and there are an infinite amount of reasons) someone will insist that stupid stay and you'll be stuck with it. It won't matter how right you are or how much better a different way might be, stupid will not leave.
I traditionally fight against stupid and try to move as much stupid out of my process/meetings/life as possible. To me stupid represents inefficiency which ultimately represents waste. I hate waste. Yet, no matter how hard I've tried in the past, I have not been successful in fully removing stupid from any project.
What my experience (aka old age) has taught me is that stupid is unavoidable and fighting stupid only creates more stupid. It also puts yourself at risk of becoming stupid. Instead of fighting stupid, object once and move on. Accept it as a cost of the project and go get a beer and complain with your friends about how stupid, stupid really is.
Monday, April 20, 2009
WARNING!! MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS AND IF I'M RIGHT THEN A LOT OF SPOILERS. Definitely contains a lot of name butchering since I'm too tired to look up the correct spelling of names for these fictional characters.
However, I'm guessing quite a few questions will be answered if they haven't already. Let's start with what we know.
1. The island is a great place that everyone keeps coming back to. In the last episode we learn that Miles is actually from the island and strangely enough has the ability to speak to the dead. Coincidence? I think not. This only reinforces the rule of all must return at some point and that children are impacted by the island in weird ways.
Potentially this means that Naomi was from the island originally as were other members of the mercenary crew including Faraday. It also means there is a good chance we'll see Aaron or Erin, you know Claire's baby, and Walt show up on the island at some point with some killer Firestarter like powers.
2. We know that the survivors in 1970's dharma village will have to return to the future. Odds are that Daniel Faraday will lead them there since he is the most knowledgeable about time travel. Why? Because you have to join everyone up for the finale. There is a good chance that someone will decide to stay in the past because they like it there better even though they know they will die. Also a good chance someone will have to sacrifice themselves for everyone else to get to the future. Could be the same person, not sure yet.
3. We know that the Dharma people weren't the Others and that they weren't from Whitmore. This one threw me for a loop, but it is important because you have to ask where did they go? The Other's led by Ben killed them all off, but surely they didn't just give up on finding the Island again and all of their experiments. For a long time I had assumed that Charles Whitmore was responsible for the Dharma initiative. However, in episodes 11 and 12 we find out that Charles was a leader of the Others during the Dharma initiative. I think the new terrorists on the Future Island are the old Dharma people back for some revenge.
4. Terrorists? Yes, during the many time leaps from earlier Sawyer, Juliet and others find an outrigger canoe. They start paddling and then getting shot at by some weird group. Juliet explains they are terrorists that they have been fighting for years. The outrigger is the commonality here. The outriggers are sitting on the beach when the second plane crash occurs. A weird group suddenly emerges made up of the woman that had arrested Sayid (sic) and few other randoms. They apparently id each other by asking "do you know what lies in the shadow of the statue?" This is the same group that approaches Miles before he gets started on his little trip and reinforces that we're dealing with at least 3 distinct groups. Others, Whitmore and this Statue terrorist group. The Dharma people could be a 4the group, but plot wise it would be a lot easier to just make them the Statue terrorist group. Oh and apparently they have something really cool in a gigantic aluminum case. My first thought was a bomb, but seems unlikely considering they would have to get it through airport security, etc. I'm guessing it's a survival kit with food, water, communication gear and some kick ass terrorist costumes.
5. We know the island provides a fountain of youth of some sort. Whitmore should be dead or close to it since we see him as a young lad during WWII during the time jumps. Instead he's in fairly good shape all the way to the 70's. Then suddenly he's old because he gets kicked off the island. We know Richard is timeless and on the Island a lot.
So what does all of this new found knowledge get us? Well the past losties will try to re-unite with the present losties (can you say "Back to the Future?") and will have to deal with the new terrorists, most likely all of next season. During their many intense battles where people will die, the truth about what they're all fighting for (eternal youth provided by aliens or "gods") will come out. It's at this point that Jack will realize some meaning in his life and lead/save everyone all at once.
It's my theory and we'll see how well it holds up. I'll update it once the season is over.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Charles: Did you know Charlie Bird died when he was 22?
Me: Who is Charlie Bird?
Charles: He played saxophone. He did too many drugs and he died.
Me: Ohh. Yeah you shouldn't do drugs.
Charles: And Two Tonka Men died when he was 18.
Charles: Two Tonka Men, he was a King.
Me: Two Tonka Men?
Charles: Yeah he lived in Egypt.
Me: Ha, yeah. People didn't live very long back then.
I didn't bother correcting him, I sort of like Two Tonka Man better than Tutankhamun and he'll learn soon enough.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
2. If I had kept Wal Mart when I first bought it, I'd be up roughly 5%. If I had kept Yahoo, I'd be up 9%.
3. There are some tax considerations when looking at my current gains. I believe that anything I make will be considered short term capital gains and I'll pay something like 33% on it. Ouch.
4. Buying and selling stocks is much more nerve racking when it's real money. Captain Obvious, I know, but the level of stress I experience when I try to make a decision about buying or selling is somewhat amazing. I can't imagine what kind of stress people like Bill Gross must go through.
5. My method works for me because I'm not trading thousands/millions of dollars at a time. If I were trying to play this same game on a larger scale, it would not work as well because the impact from selling large amounts of stock at once would immediately lower the price. The same applies to buying. When I sold 400 share, the order was broken up into two orders of 150 and 250. Luckily I was able to get the same price for both, however if I had tried to sell 10,000 shares at once there is no telling what the end result would look like.
6. The dow has hit a weird ceiling of 8000. It can't seem to stay above that mark. Eventually it well, but until then it's a good indicator as to when to buy and sell.
7. I'll probably quit posting my progress if I actually hit 25%. I don't like talking about money publicly. I grew up in one of those weird protestant households where money was not something you ever discussed outside of a whisper. If I hit 25%, then I'll feel that I've proven my point and the game is done.
8. This is fun. It's thrilling, much like roulette.
9. I have a great roulette strategy I'd be happy to tell you about sometime. I won a few hundred dollars the last time I used it. I ended up giving it back playing slots, but it was fun none the less.
300 x $3.42
300 x $3.67
and then today
400 x $4.42
Puts me with a $4522.71 balance including all trade fees and the handy new federal tax on trades.
I'm up $522.71 which is roughly %13. I checked my 401k yesterday and I'm down -6% for the first quarter. Awesome.
I'll post some more thoughts later.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
What is a conceptual perfectionist and why does it drive my wife crazy?
My sister is a perfectionist of the more traditional sort. Everything has to be perfect and she'll go to great lengths and expense to make sure that's the case. When preparing an omelet she'll want the right pan, the right cheese, the exact amount of cheese, etc. All conditions must meet a certain predefined quality level or else we're going to go to the store to buy the proper ingredients. The traditional perfectionist borders on OCD.
I differ in that I see the ideal situation, but I'll go forward with what I have all the while beating myself up about the fact that conditions aren't perfect. This omelet is good, but damn it would be better if I had more cheese, etc. My weirdness isn't as apparent to the casual observer, but for people that know me well, it can be maddening. I don't accept the fact that the perfect omelet can't be obtained, which if I did it would disqualify me completely as a perfectionist.
I'm completely delusional and I think that the perfect omelet must be around the next corner. However, I'm not going to make a gigantic effort to make the perfect omelet, the conditions must occur naturally. Maybe I'm just lazy....
So a conceptual perfectionist tends to have a highly addictive personality. Yeah, that would be me again. Because that ideal situation is always just around the corner, we'll try over and over and over again until we reach that wonderful moment of zen or until our wives's tolerance level is reached and we abandon our efforts in hopes of continuing our marriage.
Well my conceptual perfectionism is coming out in my little stock game. It's driving me crazy that I'm not hitting every single money opportunity. I could have sold high and bought low. I could have made 3% more if I had just stayed in one more day. These thoughts occupy my brain way more often then they should and ultimately could cause a lot of trouble if I don't deal with them.
In poker, we call it "going on tilt". A player will become obsessed with missing a huge pot or throwing away a great hand and will go on tilt. They'll go crazy and start betting all of their money at once or chasing cards that they shouldn't because statistically it'll almost never happen. But once on tilt all you can do is focus on the 1% chance of it happening, not the 99% chance that it won't.
How does one get off of tilt? Usually one of three ways.
- You lose all of your money.
- You win a crapload.
- You get up from the table and take a walk.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
This basically makes up for the Wal Mart stupidity from earlier and with the trade fees ($28.00) I'm even.
Why sell today? I didn't want to get too greedy. I had already missed opportunities twice to sell at this level and was waiting for some bigger gains that I'm not sure are going to happen. Also, I don't think this rally is going to hold past today. So I'm taking my gains while I can.
I'm in timeout now for 3 days.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
However, I know it's important to always understand your history and be knowledgeable of the classics, so I made myself watch it over Bottle Rocket last night.
The movie wasn't bad, but I'm afraid that's probably about all I could say for it. It reminded me of a 1950's version of the Bourne Identity, which I realize is backwards and not the best analogy. The plot was interesting, the acting typical of the period and Eva Marie was a hotty.
There were a few moments where I think Hitchcock showed some of his quirkiness and genius and oddly it was at the very beginning and the end of the movie.
During the credits (old movies did credits first) Hitchcock does a cameo where a bus door is slammed in his face in the fast pace world of 1950's NY City. I'm not sure of the meaning, but it was interesting.
At the very end when a love scene is close to developing, it cuts to the cliched image of a train running through a tunnel for 2 seconds and then the movie ends. I literally laughed out loud at this part thinking about how it was funny they were poking fun at this cliche when I realized that this may be how the cliche developed.
Which highlights part of my reluctance to watch old movies. I don't get them. It's difficult to pick up on the subtle humor or the social issues they may be trying to point out when you watch films like this without a knowledgeable guide who has studied the film from a historic point of view.
Who the hell wants to watch a film with a talking know-it-all anyways, which means I'm usually left to my own sense of history to catch the cultural references.
This also applies to film techniques or special effects. To us, a person driving a fake car in front of a movie screen is a hokey technique, but may have been revolutionary at the time. I don't want to have to research my movies to see how groundbreaking they were, sort of ruins the fun.
However, I know doing so will build strong bones and bigger muscles, so I force myself to watch classics to see what all of the fuss is about. North By Northwest is worth seeing and more enjoyable then a lot of modern movies, but that's not really saying much.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
I've been watching a lot of documentaries lately, since Netflix streams a wide selection of them online, so I've really begun to appreciate the fine art of filming the "real world" without making it boring or over dramatized. It's a fine line to walk and takes a talented group of movie makers.
"M for Mississippi" walks that line perfectly. Jeff Konkel and Roger Stolle mix humor and beer with a deep appreciation of a music style that is slowly becoming a lost art. They go to where the music lives and interview the musicians without a filter.
Yard parties, juke joints, cigarettes and crazy people. This is the true Mississippi blues, in all of it's poverty and muddy music.
I liked it well enough to buy the dvd and the soundtrack and I encourage everyone else to do the same. By far this was the best movie at the film festival and is probably the best documentary I've seen in 5 years.
Friday, February 27, 2009
The last few days have been positive for the stock because of rumors around a Microsoft sale, a large investor buying a lot of stock and organizational changes. This has pushed it up as high as 13.33 at one point. Yet I'm still not selling.
Here's why. The Dow is about 7,150 which is pretty damn low. It's as low as it was about 10 years ago, which means if you had just bought the Dow average back then you'd be a little over even assuming you received some dividends.
There is a lot of pressure building up for a rally. General consensus is that the floor for the Dow should be about 8,000. What's good is that YHOO is out performing the Dow, relatively. This means that YHOO went up while the DOW remained flat or went down. When the rally occurs, this should make YHOO jump up pretty significantly.
So what if the rally doesn't happen? Heh, that's why they call it gambling, uh I mean investing. If it doesn't happen you sit on it and hope for the best.
I'm convinced the rally will happen, because it's been going down for so long that mentally people are ready for a rally. As soon as any indicator occurs, people will jump on the bandwagon and drive that puppy up. It's called a sucker's rally. Which means the suckers drive it up and the non-suckers sell and take gains.
This approach is probably the most unholy, anti-academic approach in history. Real investors, smart investors hate people like me. I'm calling the stock market for what it is, an emotional response of slightly smarter than average people to CNN and Bloomberg. It's a bunch of sheep following other sheep leaving a trail of cash in their wake. I am the wolf that has discovered the pasture and am here to take my fill.
I guess I had too much coffee this morning. You may think I'm an idiot or a blowhard, we'll just have to wait and see what the money says.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
However, we didn't become completely Amish and we kept the TV around for movies etc. This could have been a mistake, because we eventually signed up for Netflix.
Netflix streams over the internet to the Xbox which is a little too convenient. In addition, we get three movies through the mail. Needless to say, I've been watching a lot of movies, some good, some bad.
Since watching movies is sort of a waste of time, I figured I 'd try to balance the uselessness with some helpful reviews.
I watched Burn After Reading last night. It's a quirky Coen brother's film with a fairly famous cast. Brad Pitt, George Clooney, John Malkovich and a few others all star in the movie.
It's sort of a weird spy movie. If you've seen any of the other Coen brother films; "Raising Arizona", "O Brother Where Art Thou", or "The Big Lebowski", think same type of comedy except with a spy like plot.
There were moments where I laughed out loud, but there were definitely moments where I was less than entertained. I'm not a huge Coen brother's fan, so you might have more luck.
Would I recommend it? Ehh, maybe. It's worth watching if your options were "Burn After Reading", "Power Rangers", and "Margo at the Wedding". Other than that, I wouldn't seek it out.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Mardi Gras on the Coast of Mississippi is an incredible experience, I think. It's been a while and I was usually inebriated. Despite the libations, Mardi Gras in Mississippi is a far cry from Mardi Gras in New Orleans and the two should never be confused.
Things have changed, I'm sure, but I remember Mardi Gras as a family experience to some degree. As a family we would head down to Biloxi early in the morning loaded with chairs, coolers, and blankets. It was like tailgating, except no football game. Instead you'd setup along the parade route with more family and friends and wait for some drunken fool on a float to throw you beads.
In between each parade you'd wander around the city looking for more friends and decent places to pee. Food was always available and shared freely and everyone was always happy to see everyone else. At least during the day. Once the sun set, it was time for the kiddies to go home as the drunks would be in full swing and a little out of control. This caused problems, but was all part of the mischief that is Mardi Gras.
I'm obviously not going this year, but maybe next year. Either way, Bon Temps Rouler!.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
And if that fails to convince you, then think of this fact. Bank of America has received over $40 Billion in TARP (Bailout) money. They're currently worth $25 Billion. We could have bought every single share of their stock and saved $15 Billion dollars. Instead, we own about 7% of the bank.
Yay for treasury secretaries who used to be CEO of Goldman Sachs!
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
This represents a loss of about 3%. It had been down 5% at one point and I decided to cut my losses. Obviously not the start I was looking for but I'm not overly concerned.
I have to adjust my strategy a little to account for a few things:
1. I'm on a cash account, i.e. not margin, which means it takes 3 days for the funds to settle before I can buy again.
2. I need to be patient. Wal Mart is still a good buy if I don't mind sitting on it for a month. I don't really want to sit on anything for a month, but this may be what I need to do.
3. I can't trade bank stocks.
It's definitely been interesting so far and I'll post some notes on the whole process later.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
- $7.00 (transaction fee)
- $3501.37 (72 x 48.6301)
I'll have to figure out a better format for these posts so it's easier to follow. Also, I only spent $3500 because of transaction costs, etc.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
I usually follow up this boastful talk with the fact that when I play the market with hard rules, but fictional money, I tend to outperform my most aggressive 401k by 10-20%. In my convoluted mind, this proves that we're over paying for a service that does not provide much value and isn't that hard.
The very good counter argument is that I'm using fictional monies and if it was real money I would make different decisions and would probably not out perform guys who were trained to do these types of things.
Marsalis has taken the argument one step further and said it must be an amount of money I'm not comfortable taking risks with.
So now we'll settle the score. It's a new year and an excellent time to try this out, especially given the fact that my 401k looks like shit anyways.
Given the fact that I was immediately losing 10%-25% of money every time I made a 401k deposit, I have reduced my contributions and set some money aside for savings. I've been doing this for a while and I know it goes against typical financial advice and the "dollar cost averaging" theory, but it's Friday and I don't give a @#!%$
I'm going to take $4,000 (I assure you Marsalis, that I'm not cavalier about that much money and Corinne is especially concerned about it's well being) and begin placing trades through an online broker.
The sort of fun part for y'all is that I will list out every time I make a trade, how much was made/loss and where I stand. Because I am not a day trader, each of my trades will likely span weeks, not hours, etc.
My prediction is that I should be up %25 by the end of the year, not including taxes, but including trade fees. Really, my goal will be to outperform my ING account which is currently making about 2.5% annually. I'm %100 sure I can beat that.
I, of course, highly recommend that you don't take any of my trades as financial advice or insight. I also won't be trading any financial stocks since I sort of work in the industry and don't want anything to look inappropriate.
I will try and remember to label each post as "stock" so you can view the history over time and provide summaries occasionally. At the end of the year, I'll also show what would have happened if I had just stayed with the stocks I bought as opposed to trading them.
Let the grand experiment begin.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Austin (Lindsey's Husband)
After the Coast we headed to Clinton to see the Kellys and spend New Year's Eve before heading to the Cotton Bowl. Stay Tuned... I have to go watch ' Margot at the Wedding'.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Capitalism in itself is not a big deal. It's just stating that the government shouldn't own all businesses and people have the right to own wealth individually. I think this is probably something most people can get behind.
However, over the last few decades capitalism in America has become synonymous with ideas like free markets, laissez faire and the invisible hand. These concepts being that in addition to the government not owning wealth and the wealth producing companies; the government will not interfere with the privately held, wealth producing companies or the markets that these companies play in.
The idea is that in a free market, multiple competitors will find the most efficient path to producing a good or service which will ultimately benefit the consumer. In addition the consumer will choose the most beneficial competitor, creating a suitable level of quality. Market conditions and competition will create the best option as opposed to having the government interfere and force options.
For example, lets say Toyota started offering unlimited gas for the life of the car to attract buyers. Other car companies would have to offer the same the deal or something similar to remain competitive other wise the consumer would buy mainly Toyota's and they would all go out of business. This is good for the consumer because they get free gas for life.
Now this would be opposite of the idea that the government stepped in and said that car makers should offer free gas for life because the government sees it as beneficial to the consumer. The government is interfering with the market by requiring a condition, which may have the same result, but will be less efficient if the market was left alone.
What's interesting about all of this is that America has been in a sort of testing stage for the last 50 years or so. We've been toying with this idea that markets should be free and without government intervention and slowly moving more towards this direction. As the markets created wealth in our country and we continued to lead economically it was hard to argue with this approach.
Countries with heavy government intervention like Russia and Cuba failed over and over again resulting in economic meltdowns. This only bolstered the idea that unfettered greed and competition was the best way to go. This hubris ultimately was our undoing and has resulted in the last few stock crashes and now our current economic situation.
The housing crash and subsequent global economic meltdown will be a major part of history. 2008 will be considered the year that the curtain was pull back on American Capitalism and shown to be a fraud. Capitalism in pure free markets may work in theory, but the reality is that there is nothing that is pure, including free markets.
Financial giants that have been around for 85 years have been bankrupted because they bought wholly into this idea. This is a big deal. These are companies that once represented America wealth, stability and superior economic theory. They went bankrupt over night whimpering into the dark like some crappy start up as opposed to the financial stalwarts they were supposed to be.
Now did America's theory of capitalism cause all of this? No not entirely, but this notion that markets shouldn't be regulated definitely helped it along its way. Banks have lots of regulation and there are a lot of rules in place for them to follow. As banks started making more money, the regulators who enforced these rules start backing up. As banks started making mountains of money, the regulators all but disappeared. Poor financial decisions were justified with stacks of money and high stock values. Greed was left unchecked and unregulated and ultimately destroyed many banks and investment firms. We're still dealing with the fall out and there is no telling what other consequences there will be.
What is certain though is that we've reversed our theoretical direction as a country, even if it is only temporarily. Unfettered capitalism has proven to be a loser and we're moving back towards more regulation. Hopefully at some point our leaders and government officials will realize that a balance must be achieved. We shall see.
Next post, my thoughts and predictions on the economy. Where we're at, where we'll be and when will we recover, if at all.