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Archive for June, 2010

This morning, I got up and went to my computer and checked out my list of meetings.  “Oh,” I said, “I have a 9 am meeting this morning.  Guess I’ll dial into it from home.  Man, it sure feels like a Friday today but it’s only Thursday.”

Just then I realized that today is not Thursday, it’s actually Wednesday.

You might be tempted to think that because a week is so busy, that’s what makes it long.  For me, that’s not the case.  It’s actually the opposite.  Slow weeks at work drag on for me.  I dislike them, I like being kept busy such that I have plenty to do from start to finish.  When the day drags, it drags.

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As a Microsoft employee, I feel that it is my duty to break the habits of my friends, especially girlfriends, when they are using a service that Google has when Microsoft has an equivalent for it and is just as good (I would not get them to switch to Internet Explorer, for example).  I guess it’s not limited to Google, it’s really any service that someone else has.

Case in point – my current girlfriend uses MapQuest.  MapQuest?  “Hey, Carrie,” I said to her (not her real name), “2002 called.  They want their mapping service back.”  I then proceeded to show her Bing Maps and how they are superior to other mapping services, including Google Maps.

Next, I decided to change her homepage from AOL (AOL? What?) to Bing.  This one is particularly relevant because she is really interested in traveling.  The great thing about Bing is that each day it has a different background image, a place from around the world.  If you hold your mouse over various parts of the image it gives you an interesting piece of trivia about that location.  For my girlfriend, this is perfect because she has all sorts of travel books and this page is much more relevant to her than AOL.  It more naturally aligns to her set of interests.

Luckily, she doesn’t have too many other bad habits.  She uses Gmail and Google Talk, but so do I.  I prefer both because they are lightweight applications, although I do have a Hotmail account and have mail sent to it.  It is less reliable than Gmail, though.  Nor does she use Google Chrome.  I installed Firefox onto her computer, Microsoft Security Essentials (I will remove McAfee) and all that I have left to do is get her a copy of Windows 7.  Once that is done the transformation will be complete.

Sometimes it’s good to know someone who works at Microsoft.

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Today, I experienced yet another loss in trading.  I had a couple of small victories but interrupted that winning streak with yet another couple of big losers.

Yet, I feel alright with this one.  The reason is that I feel like I did everything in my power to trade correctly.  I couldn’t foresee the market’s huge drop today and therefore, taking a loss when something like this happens is acceptable:

  1. I bought a call option in Google last Friday.  Google had traded down six sessions in a row which almost never happens.  I bought a call option betting that it would go up in the near term since even in bear markets, stocks rally sharply.  I bet on a reaction to the upside since Google had done it twice since this correction began.
  2. I missed out on Apple’s collapse today.  I had Apple hand me my posterior in my second last trade in it (I made $40 this past week – hooray!).  But Apple had a good correction and then paused… and my paranoia said “Get out!”  I did but I thought that it might collapse.  But given how long Apple had been able to buck the market trend I couldn’t take the risk.
  3. My general market indicators were not telling me that there were extremes in either direction. The percentage of stocks trading above their 40-day moving average was 40%.  Readings below 20 and above 90 are extreme and are reliable.  40 is ambiguous.  Looking on that and seeing it rally, I would have bet on an up movement, which is why I was long Google.
  4. The Bulkowski Indicator, which I had been using, had been generating a lot of whipsaws.  I decided to ignore it because it wasn’t giving me anything useful and my reliance upon it cost me in Apple and APKT.

Seeing all of this, I think that my analysis was correct.  I couldn’t have foreseen this huge drop today and therefore all I can control is my entries and exits.  Yes, I lost money.  But I followed my plan.

And now the one thing that gives me hope is that the Nasdaq has gapped down, and there is an old saying – All gaps must be filled.  This is true nearly 100% of the time, and Google is still oversold.  I figure I can buy some call options again and recover some of my losses.  I see an opportunity here for a quick snapback.

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Tactics spilling over

When I travel to various countries, one of my favorite things to do is hit multiple countries in a single trip.  I’ve done that a lot and it allows me to increase my “Passport Quotient” which currently stands at 19.

As I mentioned earlier, I am looking at taking a trip to Central America this upcoming year.  What’s nice is that my current girlfriend is also really big into traveling as well.  She has been to 14 countries, not as much as me but still pretty good.  Now, my big plan is to hit up multiple countries on this one.  At first she wasn’t too convinced about my plan as we’re looking at scheduling this together – after all, if we both want to travel every where, we may as well do it together.  Of course, there’s a big risk that we won’t even be together in a few months time.  My back up plan for that is cancellation insurance.

Anyhow, I suggested that we do Belize and rather than Costa Rica, we do Guatemala instead.  She was up for that because we could drive there instead of fly there (or take a bus).  I then suggested that we also do Honduras since it borders Guatemala.  She was not quite up for that.  She didn’t quite understand that we could do it fairly quickly and with limited amount of travel time.  I kept working at it, kept suggesting it (using my mentalist techniques – I kid you not) and eventually she came around!  She went out and bought a travel book on Honduras!

I mentally did my victory dance, it now looks like we will do three countries!  At this point, I shall now push my luck and see if we can get in four.  But shh!  Don’t spill the beans on my plan!

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This seems to happen every year.  Somehow, some way, I am losing weight without actually doing anything.  I recently stepped on the scale and I noticed that I was down about 5 pounds from the last time I weighed myself while going to the gym.  Granted, I was wearing slightly less clothing this time, but not enough to account for the differential.

I haven’t been doing anything differently.  It’s true that I have not been eating as much in recent times but that’s not enough to explain it, I don’t think.  I haven’t been doing any excessive exercising, I’ve just been losing weight.  I weigh less than I did (or maybe about the same) 9 years ago in 2001.  Maybe my lack of body fat explains why I am always so cold.

I wouldn’t say that my eating habits are poor.  I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Although, I have been known to skip meals on occasion when I am not hungry.  For example, on Sunday, I had a late lunch – left over pizza – and a bagle (breakfast bagle) for breakfast.  Not sure what I had for supper but it wasn’t a lot.  That’s not atypical for me, but it’s not a normal Sunday either.

My current girlfriend says I should eat more.  I retort that she’s just trying to fatten me up so she can eat me (after luring me into her gingerbread house).

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What’s on your list?

This evening, I was reading a post on The Kirk Report, a stock market service that I subscribe to.  Charles Kirk is a professional trader who is taking in candidates for a mentorship program.  He interviewed a lot of candidates, and in the end, he asked a pivotal ie-breaker question to break the deadlock as there were a lot of good candidates. 

So, what was the question? Very simple – what is currently on your bucket list of things to do before you die? If you ever really want to know who you are dealing with in an interview or social setting, that question works better than anything else. It is amazing what people say is on their list and a terrific way to really get to know what another person values.

I had to stop and think to myself.  What’s on my list of things to do before I die?  What sorts of things am I valuing?  What sorts of things do you value?  Here are some of mine, in no particular order:

  1. Travel to a few more places – I have a list of about 20 or 30 places I’d like to visit.  But I want to narrow it down to five, once again in no particular order: Bhutan, Kenya (or possibly Morocco), Thailand, Antarctica, and Austria.  Why those places?  There are stories behind all of them, but they are places I would like to hit up.
  2. The sappy one – establish a relationship with someone important to me.  Now before you all say “awww…” I have always felt that I could be happy as a single person or in a relationship with someone else.  But yet, as I get older, I reflect on how I have traveled to various – with friends, alone, with co-workers, and with girlfriends.  Out of all of them, and this may be the recency effect speaking, my favorites would have to be the times I have traveled with girlfriends.  I like having that close rapport with someone. 

    For many years, I focused on interests like trading, magic, anti-spam and the sorts.  And I don’t regret the way I have ordered things.  But going forward, I believe that now is the time to prioritize the establishment of a relationship now that I have a firm grounding in the other things.  Note that this point is quite linked to (1).

  3. Become a full time trader for at least one year.  I just can’t seem to get away from this.  Trading is in my blood.
  4. Get a TV special performing mentalism.  This has been my goal for years and I have never really gotten very close to achieving it.  It will forever remain on that list of things to do until I can finally cross it off my list.

I’m sure I could think of more things if I really tried, but these are 4 important ones to me.  Again, they are not in order of importance.  But I think that it is a good list.

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Sunday afternoon, or possibly evening, I was having a brief nap on my comfy, comfy couch.  However, I was kind of on my slide, with my neck in an awkward position.  Later on that evening, I started to feel a pain in my neck. You know what I am talking about, it’s when you get that crick in your neck and you feel it when you turn it.

I hoped it would go away the next day but it didn’t.  In fact, my neck felt much, much worse.  I could somewhat rotate my head by turning partway to the left, but only about a quarter turn to the right without discomfort.  I could tilt my head about 1/4 turn to the left (ie, putting my ear towards my shoulder) but only about 1/8 of a turn to the right.  Going right really, really hurt.  This made driving quite difficult.  Even swallowing water was painful as my throat muscles would “catch” my neck muscle where the pain was, irritating it.  Today, 3 days later, it’s feeling better although I still can’t quite tilt my head to the right.

The weird thing is that if I press my fingers against the side of my neck and massage where I feel the pain, it doesn’t hurt very much.  The pain is neutral.  It’s only “inside” of my muscles where I feel the pain, and hence, a massage is pretty much useless.  That’s kind of annoying, too.

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