Garybsmith

Trading, Golf, General thoughts. Not necessarily in that order.

Month: February, 2012

The Facebook rebellion

This headline caught my eye the other day: “We’re getting less friendly on Facebook.”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/feb/24/study-were-getting-less-friendly-on-facebook/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

Frankly, I’m not surprised and it finally dawned on me after watching 5 minutes of “The Social Network”: most of us aren’t in high school any longer!

Yes, I know that maybe some of us never mentally move on from high school:  our self-esteem is still measured by how much we’re “liked”; we still gravitate to the “popular” people; and we still want to be seen as cool.

Now, don’t get me wrong:  I was just as guilty as the next guy.  It was fun, for at least awhile, to catch up on old acquaintances, and — let’s face it — to see what everyone looks like 30/40 years later.  But, once that was done?  Not really much of interest, I’m afraid.

In fact, as many of us get older, we seem to reach a state where we don’t really care all that much what others think (and especially what they think of us.)

In essence, Facebook is like the pathetic middle-aged guy going through mid-life crisis who takes up with 20 year olds.  It’s fun, but only for awhile.  Then the guy realizes, that wait: he’s not 20 years old any longer!

Now maybe FB can be fueled by an endless stream of high school and college kids.  But, I think for the vast majority of anyone over 25, they’ll be checking out.

 

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We really should keep score.

Was watching the biz news this morning,  and some talking head was paraded in front of the panel to give his prediction for the market.   (I’ve been that talking head, btw, so I’m specifically not dissing those kind of segments.)

It struck me, though, that I had no idea what kind of track record the fellow had.  I mean if I’m watching the Nationals play, I know a fellow’s batting average as soon as he steps to the plate.  And if I’m really hard core, I can find out how he hits against right-handers, left-handers, and even that specific pitcher.

And with sports commentators, we normally get well-established, track record kind of guys.  I know a Digger Phelps or Jon Gruden has some merit because they have a solid resume.

But, with financial guys?  Well, we never really know unless he manages a mutual fund and we can look up the fund’s performance.

Seems to me, every time a market guru gives his opinion, there should be a subtitle below his name giving at least his year-to-date performance.  Even better, I guess, would be his lifetime performance.  That would allow me to put his prediction in some kind of context.

That’s not to say gurus bring nothing to the table even if they had a terrible track record.  Most political commentators bat less than .500 when predicting election results, but I listen to what they say because they help sort out things I may not be able to grasp.

That’s the same kind of thing we try to do on Bulls & Bears, for example, even if our personal batting average may not be too spiffy.

Still, it’d be interesting to see some kind of performance stat.  Just not sure I’d like to see mine.

 

GI Joe

We can talk, right?  I  mean, I can reveal all my secrets and trust you’ll be discreet?

Okay, good, because I want to discuss what has become my main focus since I turned 50.  In fact, for most people my age, it’s their main focus too.  They’re just too shy to admit it.

However, I am here to break the silence and let you know one of my top concerns each day — if not THE top concern — is the health, functioning, and overall satisfaction of…my GI system

Now, I could be even less discreet, but I think you get my gist.  Yes, I am at the point most “old farts” reach and that’s where a good day begins (hopefully!) with a nice trip to the “library.”

And don’t think I take anything for granted.  No, I am Mr. Probiotic.  I have a Ph.D in the area of FIBER.  I do all that mumbo-jumbo like take plenty of water, exercise, and “listen” to my body.

Yet for all my planning and diligence, G*D forbid I am even slightly off my schedule!  My body shuts down, and puts me squarely in the penalty box.  And if there’s too many trips to the penalty box, I am then forced to take drastic measures.  (Talk of drastic measures, though, are best left to another column.)

Let’s say, though, that I never thought it would come to this.  Never thought I’d spend so much time and energy on something so simple.  But that’s life, I suppose, for the AARP set and I am here to embrace it.

Now excuse me while I see a man about a horse.  (sorry, you’ll have to look it up.)

Ich bin ein Juicer

I’m not sure exactly how I got here, but here I am: a juicer.  No, not the Roger Clemens/Barry Bonds kind of “juicer”!  Not even the Alberto Contador infected-beef kind of juicer.

Instead, the kind of lunatic who mixes kale, beets, celery, and apples together to make a pretty good-tasting drink.  Seriously.  I am not making that up.  Yes, it sounds disgusting.  And I think it would be disgusting if you made it in a blender.  But, with a juicer, it actually tastes pretty good.  And a LOT better than it sounds.

But, forget the taste.  How did a guy raised on Budweiser, perogies, and pizza get to this point?  Evolution, I guess, and it all started with the darn bike.

And there the story gets easy to understand:

1.  Guy starts riding a bike.

2.  Guy gets upset when others pass him.  Easily pass him.

3.  Guy upgrades to “road” bike so he can go faster.

4.  Starts “training” so he can go really fast.

5.  Enters races and discovers he’s really not all that fast.

6.  Upgrades bike and training to maximize his sad potential.

7.  Reaches “competitive” stage of athleticism (which, charitably, is just below “good,”) and starts grasping at straws to get even 1% better.

8.  Realizes nutrition is only area untouched.

9. Ditches cookies, cakes, sweets, and much to his chagrin, adds in vegetables, and other formerly-abhorred foods.

10.  Starts searching the internet for ANY food that will make him faster or stronger.

11.  Discovers beets, tart-cherrys, kale, flax seeds, etc.

12.  Also discovers “juicing” which is right next to EST, Lilith Fair concerts, and Earth Day in the west coast, all-natural, “crunchie” pantheon.

13.  Buys insanely expensive juicer, which does something like “masticate” and realizes juice produced is actually….pretty tasty.

14. Vows not to proselytize about his new found religion.

15.  Can’t help himself.  Instead has the occasional burger and fries to get back to his roots.

Have a plan; stick to the plan!

This past week, Nancy ventured to the Mid-Atlantic Erg Sprints to compete in the “Veteran Women 30-minute row.”  Now, the Erg Sprints is a funny kind of event: an indoor race, in the middle of winter, surrounded by a bunch of other crazies pulling as hard as they can on an indoor rower.

Surprisingly, these events are well-attended.

Now my job is nothing more than to “cox” which is a glorified way of saying “be supportive.”

The hard part, of course, is the actual erging and it’s the kind of slow torture I have studiously avoided each and every year.

That said, I’m always willing to help out as long as it doesn’t involve any heavy lifting.   In fact, all I had to do was ensure Nancy had a plan and stuck to it.

Of course, that’s the important part and where most people fail.  It’s not the actual erging that dooms them, but rather pulling willy-nilly with no concept of either an end goal or how best to get there.  (As a sidenote, this is also what dooms 99% of traders…)

Anyway, Nancy DID have a plan and was nice enough to write it down for me so I wouldn’t mess up my one and only job.

(Yes, that’s the actual hand-written note soon to be displayed in the Rowing Hall of Fame….)

And that job was to simply ensure she hit those numbers: neither too high, nor too low.   A 2:11.6 average was either going to win the event or someone in better shape was going to beat her.  But, 2:11.6 was right around the best she could expect.

Sure enough, she held close to every time check and even kicked a little at the end to come in 11 meters ahead of plan at 6845.  Hard, of course, but fairly routine.  No wasted effort, no panicking when other rowers lurched ahead at the start, and no desperate attempts in the waning minutes to make up lost ground.

She did gather up the blue ribbon, and it was a pretty sweet ending.

Of course, she gets full credit for a fairly exhausting 30 minutes of activity.  Still, I can’t help thinking it was that rigorous attention to a well thought out plan that really won the day.

My reading list or lack thereof

A friend turned me onto a neat Ipad app called Zite.  Basically, it’s an online magazine that compiles articles under topics you’ve selected.

So, my topic headings are stuff like  “exercise, “bicyling, and “Redskins.”

Ironically, I don’t have anything about the market or trading.  In fact, I don’t even have anything on business at all.

Now the reason isn’t that I think I know everything about trading.  Far from it.  But, I do have — hopefully — a few reasonable methods to make money in most types of markets.  And after doing this for 25+ years, what I realize is that it’s probably better to stick with what I know, rather than continuing to muck things up with new-fangled ideas.

In short, I think one gets to the point that less input is a good thing as it allows you to concentrate on what you do best.  I hope that’s where I’m at right now.