Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Accepting Stupid

I'm going to speak to a MIS class tomorrow about Project Management. I've been thinking about some of the various pearls of wisdom I can drop on them along with some witty real world experiences. Not a lot comes to mind.

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

The Inevitable Conclusion of LOST

Ok, maybe not completely inevitable but as LOST continues with a looming deadline, then the range of possible plot lines begin to narrow. Sadly for many naive viewers, this means that a few questions will go unanswered, much like the eternal question of socks and dryers.

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

Egypt What?

Conversation I just had with Charles driving back from Big Bad Breakfast.

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.
Me: Who?
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

Couple of Thoughts on Stocks

1. I know I said no bank stocks, but Citi is not a client and they were too appealing. Citi (C) is extremely volatile. It has gone up 40% in two days and down %20 in one. This volatility if played correctly can lead to a lot of quick gains, as evidenced. Remember, I'm arguing that a buy and hold strategy is bad. So volatility for me is sort of good.

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.

Quick trip to the Citi

Bought Citi yesterday at 3.36 x 1000. Sold progressively through out the day at:

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.