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Archive for February, 2007

Did you see the headlines?  Today, in New York, a whole herd of bears escaped and started wreaking havoc on Wall Street.  Traffic jams ensued; people were holed up inside buildings.  Some pedestrians were even eaten alive as they crossed the street!

Today, the markets suffered the worst day I have ever seen since I started trading.  There have been worse days, of course, but it’s the worst day I have seen since I have been involved (ie, since late 2004).

The Nasdaq suffered a 4% loss, the SP-500 3.5%, the Russell 2000 -3.8%, the SP-600 -3.6%, the Russell 1000 -3.4%.  Those are huge declines.  I’d been expecting a sharp decline but this is more than I expected.  The question now is how do I react?

I’m going to do some research.  I’m tempted to go back in and buy some shares on the correction up, but on the other hand this reversal looks pretty nasty.  I think there’s a little more ways to go down.

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As I said in my last post, the Hollywood establishment sure seems to be in love with Al Gore.  However, I doubt their actual commitment to the cause and they are probably doing it to make themselves more popular.

But this leads me to the next question – if global warming is real, why do so many people (for example, the US administration, some right-wing politicians) fight it and oppose taking action to fix it?

I can’t speak for others but I will speak for myself.  I don’t trust the political left (actually, I trust very few politicians, but I distrust politicians who attempt to expand the size of the government).  To me, buzz-words like "sustainable development" are euphemisms for globalized socialism. Socialism, and its ugly cousin in communism, are incredibly destructive forces because they are dripping in redistribution.  Redistribution is political poison because it concentrates power in the hands of a few – the rest of us get to be inconvenienced and pay more in taxes while the power brokers make a load of money.

Even more than that, the political left are the ones driving climate change measures and they generally cloak their political views under the guise of saving the environment.  They are typically anti-globalism, anti-trade, and anti-free markets, and are wrapping their political policies under noble causes like saving the environment.  They want carbon emissions to be capped and taxed because those greedy corporations are stealing too much money.  To remedy this (and all the other free market evils), more government is required to solve the problem.  Never mind that the government solution to the problem is usually worse than the problem itself…

So, for those of us on the right, our we don’t balk at environmentalism per se, we object to the political movement driving it.

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I actually watched some of the Oscars this evening (nothing else was on).  Man, the Hollywood types absolutely love Al Gore.  “You’re so inspirational!”  “You’re going to change the world!”  “Thank-you so much for bringing this to everyone’s attention, we couldn’t have done it without you!”

Hollywood’s latest obsession with global warming seems shallow to me.  Whatever happened to their crusades for fighting homelessness?  Or poverty?  Or fighting the fur trade?  They jump on the next fad social cause depending on what’s hot in the public’s eye (no pun intended… well, okay, maybe a little).

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Tomorrow, Thursday, is garbage day. In preparation for the affair, I decided to collect all the garbage in the house and put it at the end of the driveway the night before. I also planned to do the same for all recyclable materials (even though I think that recycling anything other than aluminum is a waste of time and money).

The problem is that I seem to have lost my blue box recycling… box. I have no idea where it went. Last Thursday, I got home late after a hockey but I specifically and visually remember getting home after the game, going to the end of the driveway, picking up the blue box and storing it in the garage. Yet, today, in the garage on the shelf above the snowblower, there is no blue box. That is completely baffling because I remember putting it there.

There’s three possibilities going on here:

  1. I put the box somewhere else in the garage other than where I think I put it.
  2. I moved the box during the week somewhere else in the garage. Why I would do this I have no idea, I only go in the garage to get to my car and feed the cat. I spend less than 5 minutes in there per week, particularly in winter.
  3. Somebody "broke" into the garage and stole my blue box.

Seriously, though, that is just weird. Am I really going that senile that I can’t remember what I did with the blue box?

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Today, Tuesday, Feb 20, 2007, marks a personal milestone for me in the stock market.  It is the first time I have ever had a stock go up in value by 100%.  I bought Intercontinental Exchange in early October $80 per share.  A little less than 5 months later it is currently trading at $162.  This represents my all-time best trade.

My previous record was Hologic (HOLX) which I closed for a 40% gain in about 4 months.  Most of my trade winners average 12% – 25% per trade.  Apple was up 60% for me, but that has pulled back to 40%.  I had a 40% gain in Google in Janaury 2006 in 2 and a half months, but that was erased in the span of a few weeks.

I bought a call option on Apple in March or April 2006, and it went up in value 100% in two and a half weeks (that is not a typo), from $750 to $1500 but I wasn’t able to keep any of the gains, a huge mistake on my part.  I don’t include options in my best and worst trades because the percent gains can fluctuate so quickly.  I’ve probably lost about 4 times as much trading options as I’ve made, though thankfully the losses are smaller.  I haven’t quite learned yet to take my gains quickly when I trade options.

Anyways, I’m glad I have decided to stay with the trend in ICE.  I expect to lose some of those gains on an inevitable pullback, but today I will bask in the glory of hitting triple digits.

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This past week, in a vote split mostly down party lines (although 17 Republicans voted for it), Congress passed a non-binding resolution stating that they disapprove of President Bush’s recent plan to increase the troop count in Iraq by 21,500.

In my opinion, this is merely political posturing. Why would Congress pass a non-binding resolution? They’re basically saying "We don’t like what you’re doing but we’re not going to stop you from doing it!" So why do it at all?

I think it’s because it allows the Democrats (whose base is totally opposed to the war) the ability to have it both ways. On the one hand, they can say to their base "Look what we’re doing, we’re saying we disapprove of the war!" and on the other hand, they’re not actually cutting off funding for it. Thus, they can also say that although they disapprove of the war, they are still supporting the troops by not restricting their funding. Then, however the war works out, they can say they were always on the winning side. If the US pulls out, it’s because of their foresight in the resolution. If the US eventually wins, they can say they forced the President to change strategies but never did anything to hurt the military.

It’s quite a nice hedge, really. On the other hand, I’d be willing to bet that if there were a bill to actually reduce funding for the military, there’d be a lot less Congressmen supporting it. You can also bet that there’d be a whole lot of filibustering in the Senate.

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I’ve been using the released version of Excel 2007 and I have discovered a bug.  I only discovered it yesterday but it is incredibly annoying.

Cells that are calculated based upon the contents of other cells do not update automatically when those cells change.  For example, in the attached image (1), I typed in 1 – 10 in a list and then used the Sum command to add them all up.

The answer is 55, which is correct, and that appears in image (2).

Next, in image (3) I change the value of cell A10 from 10 to 15 and pressed enter.  Note that the contents of A11 still says =SUM(A1:A15) and the contents of A10 have changed from 10 to 15, but the calculation of A11 still remains the same as if I never changed anything.

It does not update automatically until I go to the cell contents (ie, right beneath font) and press Enter.

This bug renders Excel almost unusable.

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Last night, in our final game of the season (for Team B) my scoring drought came to an end. Not only did the drought end, but it ended with flash flooding.

I managed to score a hat-trick (my first ever in the regular season) and assisted on one more en route to a 6-2 victory. I set up another goal early in the first period but did not record an assist (due to the rule of 1 assist per goal). Furthermore, the victory pushed my team into the A-side for the playoffs, avoided the first place team (who are a bunch of cheaters) and temporarily places us in second place. Finally, after several games of fanning on shots, missing one-timers and otherwise mistiming everything, I managed to put the puck in the net a number of times over.

I didn’t really change all that much in my style of play, but this past week I did something I had never done all season – I practised in my basement. On Monday evening, I stood as if I were on the right hand side of the net and took 100 practise shots. I then did the same thing by standing on the left side of the net. I then repeated the exercise for 100 backhands. After playing a game on Tuesday, I did the same thing Wednesday evening. I guess the practice paid off because my shots started going in. Hopefully the strategy of memorizing how to shoot quicker pays off and this wasn’t a one-time event.

Importantly, I no longer have to make up a story as to why I didn’t perform better than last year because my scoring output has now surpassed it. For example, had I not scored at all I’d be spinning a story that said that I executed as well as I could have, I generated plenty of breakaways, I had some clean passes and chances, and so forth. Now that I performed just slightly better, I can put those excuses to rest and rest well in the fact that I did a little bit better than I did a year earlier.

Interestingly, the last games of regular seasons in sponge hockey are usually pretty good for me. This year I got three goals, in last year with both of my teams I scored multiple goals, and the year previous I put the puck in the net. I can’t recall the seasons before those, but I know that in my first season, near the end (can’t remember if it was last game but it was certainly close) I scored a very nice goal after a mediocre season. So, I guess a mediocre season is fine so long as I turn it up in the off-season. Now let those games begin.

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I just read in a local newspaper that the former president of the students union of the university (in 1998) I went to is running for MLA in the next provincial election. He’s only a year older than I am. Another students union president (1999, 2000) is currently a Member of Parliament.

I have had an interest in politics since I was 10 years old. I can remember reading about the results of the 1990 provincial election in the newspaper, and how the Liberal party went from 21 seats in the legislature to 21. I didn’t really understand everything at the time but I did figure out that this was clearly bad for the party.

I have also long contemplated about taking a run in politics one day. I don’t think I have the charisma to be a party leader or the interest in areas Canadians find important (like providing national health care), but there are some areas that I think I would be very good at including technology and finance. Of course, I can’t run for politics yet because I’d first like to be a full-time trader and be able to fund my own campaign. I also have to train for the Olympics when I try out for the national badminton team. But in the meantime, I can form my platform.

I have (not seriously) entertained the idea of running in the next election (probably provincial) in a riding where I would have no hope of winning. The point would be to get some political experience and then I could brag that I ran in a federal election. Of course, I would hide the fact that I had no intention of winning because the odds were against me. Of course, wouldn’t it be something if by some miracle all my opponents pulled out and I won by default. I wonder what I would do if that happened? Anyways, I think I would run on a fairly narrow platform. I have to develop it more fully but here’s what I would run on:

  • Returning Canada to the gold standard
  • Disestablishment of the Central Bank of Canada
  • Repeal of income taxes
  • Repeal of capital gains taxes
  • Repeal of social security (I think that it’s an incredibly dishonest program – it makes people dependent on the govt, while the govt throws people a few dollars. In exchange, people vote for the same politicians who give them "security" even though the same politicians erode their purchasing power and waste money).
  • Reduction in government spending

    That’s all I can list for now. It’s a narrow list, but there’s actually a lot of stuff there that would probably never pass.

    Update: I’ve been doing a little bit of research on Social Security, and in the United States, in the Flemming vs Nestor case, the Supreme Court ruled that entitlement to Social Security benefits is not contractual right. In other words, even if you pay into it, there is no guarantee that you will get anything out. The government is not obligated to pay out to you. So, not only does social security pit one generation against another (the young vs the old), not only does it redistribute from one group to another, not only does it keep people dependent on the government, not only is it fiscally unstable… but if you pay into it and it collapses (which it will), you’re SOL.

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    This past Thursday, I attended a lecture on magic given by Alain Nu. Alain Nu is a very talented and capable mentalist and he is one performer whose style I truly admire.

    What I like about Nu’s style is the amount of psychological elements he brings into his routine. It’s not merely sleight of hand that he relies on, but rather, a very strong conviction about the character he plays. There is one trick that he does that I do, but the very things that he incorporates really impressed me. I find it hard to describe but suffice to say it adds conviction to the effects that he does.

    Since my spongee season is starting to draw to a close (only a couple of weeks left) I have been thinking about what I’m going to do afterwards to occupy my time. For the past few weeks, I have been considering taking a drama (or acting) class to better enhance my magical performance skills. Combined with Nu’s performance style and ehancing my acting performance, I think that would make me a much better magician. I don’t perform a lot these days (my job keeps me busy, plus trading takes up a lot of time researching, not to mention developing my political philosophy when I run for office in about a decade) but that’s fine with me. But I can still practice my craft, honing my existing effects in order to make them better.

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    More on sponge hockey

    My various sponge hockey teams are in a freefall, we’ve lost a number of games in a row and both are slipping in the standings. One has dropped to last (but at least there’s no where to go but up) and the other was in third but I think they’ve fallen to 4th (I’ll have to check the standings). We definitely don’t want to finish 4th, but we most definitely don’t want to finish 5th lest my two teams play each other.

    The season’s nearly done and and I have already accepted the reality that I’m going to have a lot less goals and assists than I did last year. However, on the positive side, I continue to generate a lot of scoring chances but I can’t quite capitalize (missing breakaways, shooting wide, shooting correctly and having the net knocked off so I missed it even though it should have been a goal…). So, it’s not such a big deal because I still enjoy the game. Besides which, playoffs are coming up and playoffs are when my game turns up a notch or two.

    I can’t help but notice the similarities between spongee and stock trading. Sometimes, only a small motion separates a winning move from a losing one. Today, I had a chance to score in front of the net but I put the shot wide left (at least it wasn’t wide right, which has been a curse for me). A couple inches over was the difference between scoring and missing. In trading, timing is crucial; I correctly anticipated the movement of a stock but mistimed the move which was the difference between a profit and a loss (I correctly predicted that ICE would go down to 125, but I bought my put option a day late and held onto it one day too long). I can get around stock timing by taking longer-term positions, but there’s no such thing as a long term position in spongee, as far as I’m aware. Maybe I can figure out a way to convince everyone to play in slow motion.

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    Yesterday evening, my first sponge hockey team lost its 4th game in a row. And, for the fifth game in a row (or something) I didn’t manage to score even though I had a great chance. At one point in the third period, I was alone in front of the net, the goalie was down, and I put it 1 inch wide to the right. I wanted to go about halfway up the right-side of the net to avoid the goaltender but missing the net was not in the plan.

    Combined with my other team, my scoring drought is turning into a very long one. In the preseason, I was actually scoring plenty. Now, I’m getting lots of chances and not capitalizing (whereas in the preseason I was getting few chances but capitalizing on all of them). On the plus side, I’m getting lots of chances to practice my breakaways. I figure I have more breakaways than anyone else on the team. Now if I could only figure out a way to score on them.

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