Archive for May, 2008

As I have posted before, I’ve been having trouble with my hip and the doctor recommended I have arthroscopic surgery done.  I have yet to hear back from the surgeon (get back to me in two days… whatever…) but I think I’ve found an upside to this.

For a little while, I may get a chance to park in handicapped parking.  That means I can park close to buildings!  So maybe it won’t be so bad after all.

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I recently picked up the book Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz.  The book is about how magicians can make their magic stronger for the audience and make them very memorable.

I won’t give away any secrets, but there are lots of good tips for performers.  One is to roll up your sleeves.  This is something that I’ve been doing for years, but now I plan to do it deliberately.  Rolling up one’s sleeves takes away the chance for the spectator to think "Oh, it just went up his sleeve."  It may be a logical explanation, but doing this makes magic stronger.

The other day, I performed a trick and used some techniques from the book.  I started off with a mind-reading effect and then continued the theme with another card trick that also incorporates mind-reading.  I don’t normally play up mentalism but this time I did.  I suggested that I was going to influence and control the audience’s thoughts and memories.  I did this in order to set the stage of the trick.

The card trick is a standard one I have been performing for 13 years.  It always goes over well whenever I perform it, but this time I added the extra presentation that their choices were predetermined.  The effect is that I randomly select two cards from the deck.  I deal out cards one by one and then one spectator calls out "stop."  I repeat for the second card and the other spectator calls out "stop."  With a little bit of magic, I turn over the stopped at locations and each card that they say stop at matches mine in color and rank (ie, I select the six of spades, they say stop at the six of clubs).

The reaction of the audience?  Silence.  It was eerie.  I knew people were impressed, but I hadn’t been prepared for them to react by stunned silence.  I was quite a feat to remember.  I think I may be onto something.

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The last presidential contender to drop out of the Democratic nomination race, John Edwards, has finally come out and endorsed Barack Obama.  The idea behind this, methinks, is that his endorsement will convince working class Americans to support Obama. Obama is popular with upper-class Democrats and black voters, but he does poorly with working class white voters.  They consistently vote for Hillary so maybe if the populist Edwards endorses Obama, he can swing working class white voters.

Nearly every single high profile Democratic endorsement goes to Obama.  Three former SEC chairman, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker, the governor of West Virginia (despite the people of West Virginia overwhelmingly voting for Hillary), nearly every Democratic Senator… they’re all going for Obama.

Some may interpret this as people following their principles and picking the guy who can unite the country.  I see it another way; people are endorsing Obama because they think he’s going to win and therefore they want to throw their weight behind the winner.  When Obama becomes president, he’ll repay the favor because they supported him "from the beginning."

If Hillary somehow manages to pull out a miracle and wins the nomination (which she won’t), all these people who jumped on the Obama bandwagon are going to be in a world of trouble.  The Clintons won’t take kindly to the people who didn’t repay loyalty (like New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, who Bill Clinton appointed to a special post during his administration). 

Politicians are politicians, they do what they have to do in order to survive.  Endorsing Obama as their candidate is basically akin to greasing the wheel that will eventually be driving the car.

Now if only his policies weren’t so bad…

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of real estate research.  Eventually, once in a while, on a weekend, I get out in my car and go and actually drive to the properties in which I am interested.

The problem I have is that the city of Seattle and the surrounding areas have a very confusing traffic naming system for their streets.  Take, for example, 228th.  There are the following variations, each of which are different roadways:

  • 228th St
  • 228th Ave
  • 228th Ct (Court)
  • 228th Ln (Lane)
  • 228th Pl (Place)
  • 228th Way

These can also be prefaced with NE, NW, SE, SW, E, W, N or S.  And with those prefixes, they don’t always refer to the same street.

As an example of this confusion, today I was driving to 228th Pl.  I was driving up one of the other streets and saw 226th Pl, 226th Ave, 227th Pl, 227th Ave, 228th Pl, 229th Ave, 229th Pl… If you read that again, you’ll see that inexplicably 228th Pl should have been there if the street naming convention was being followed, but it wasn’t!  It was skipped!  It turns out that 228th Pl was a couple of miles away.

Driving to all of these places is confusing because when I look in the index of the street map, I have to search through piles of different ways that the streets can be named.  It’s like searching through a jigsaw puzzle trying to find the right piece.

Seriously, I could solve all of these problems by purchasing a GPS device and letting it guide me from place to place.  Now if only I weren’t so cheap I could go out and buy one.

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So, I found out this week that my particular team at work is thinking of hiring some people in Ireland.  And, not only that, they need some people to go over there and interview/train them.  Well, probably interview since there’s little chance they could interview and then start shortly thereafter.

The point is, these people would be (kind of) working for me.  They report to someone else but I’m the Program Manager of anti-spam so they directly relate to my area of expertise.  So, because they would be working for me (kind of), they need some people to either interview them or train them.

Now, we could certainly do an interview over the phone, but there’s some rumour about me and my Dev Lead going over there.  Possibly for interviewing, but maybe for training.  The point is that I might be headed over to Ireland for a little while.  Hooray!

I’ve wanted to go to Ireland for a while, I thought I might make it over there in 2005 when I last went to England.  But I never made it.  This time, I’ve got a shot.  And, if I make it over there, maybe I’ll take a couple of days to head over to England to visit some old friends.  Sounds like a plan, I’d say.

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I went back to the doctor this morning for a follow up on my hip.  I told her that after the injection, my hip felt great.  I could do anything I could before and then I started stressing it to see how far I could go.

The prognosis?  I need to go in for arthroscopic hip surgery.  I wasn’t too surprised, I kind of figured that’s what would happen.  I asked how long the recovery time was and she told me three months.  Man, that’s actually kind of going to suck.

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Bear markets and corrections are painful things while you’re going through them.  But the good thing about them is that when they end you can make a lot of money.

One stock I have been tracking for a long time is Dryships (DRYS).  It’s a shipping company that transports commodities.  The stock ran up big time in 2006 and 2007 and then corrected about 2/3 of its value.  I had discovered it back in November 2007 and wrote a note.  Thank goodness I never bought it.

But I did buy it last week and my timing could not have been better.  No wait, yes it could, I could bought it in March when I wrote a note and said it was now in a position for a swing trade.  Anyhow, I generally don’t like to boast about my successes in trading but this one was a real fluke.  I bought the stock last week and since I purchased it, it is now up 20%.  That’s one of my better purchases.  Sure, I missed the huge rally in Apple.  Sure, I missed profitability in NOV and TNH.  But hey, at least DRYS has rewarded me for my patience in tracking the stock for this long.  Sometimes on the market, you just have to be lucky.

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