Garybsmith

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

Month: July, 2012

The lunacy of Olympics frustration

Like the vast majority of you, I’ve been watching the Olympics both online and televised.  And yes, I’ve found the “embargoing” of some of the premier events to be both silly and frustrating.

But, if I’m reading the press correctly, there’s a lot of people spending a good deal of time venting about their frustration:  the hastag #NBCfail is apparently  very popular.

This always makes me wonder if people have enough to do during the day.  Yes, I also wish I could have watched the Phelps 400IM in real-time.  But, NBC dictated I couldn’t.  I wasn’t happy about it, but that was it.  It was on when it was on.

But, folks are taking to the streets like they were when much of the DC area lost power.  They’re outraged!

But, my gosh, it’s just a sporting event.  Yes, it’s interesting.  Yes, it’s filled with drama.  And yes, it’s very enjoyable.

But, not watching EXACTLY WHEN THE ACTION OCCURS?  In my list of things to worry about, that ranks about #1237.

 

 

 

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Missing the old days of the Olympics

The Olympics started in earnest today, and I’ve been spending the morning watching tennis, cycling, swimming, and even a bit of the air rifle.  All on-line via my Ipad

I also spent about 10 minutes reviewing the day’s schedule and then 15 minutes setting my DVR to record stuff throughout the day.

Frankly, it’s exhausting.  In fact, there should now be an Olympic sport just for watching the events, never mind participating.

Now, obviously I’m a fan of the games, but I kind of miss the old days of Olympic telecasts.  Young folks might not remember, but there was a time when the only sports you saw were what the network decided to show you from 8 to 11PM.  You loved fencing?  Sorry, you were out of luck.   Skeet shooting?  Uh…no.  Ditto, cycling, judo, canoe, soccer, and the thousand other sports offered today.

In fact, other than track & field, swimming, and gymnastics I really can’t remember seeing any other Olympic sports until about 1988.

On the flip side, though, there weren’t any decisions to make.  If you liked the Olympics, you watched.  If you didn’t, you watched something else.

Now, I need an excel spreadsheet (which the NBC Olympic apps pretty much give you), to figure out when and where I’m going to watch.  And while I appreciate all the choices, I really think it’s too much.

But, naturally I’ll tune in.  China’s squaring off against Malaysia in the mixed doubles badminton this morning.  I don’t want to miss it.

Unsentimental

My daughter’s car was broken into a few nights ago and, of course her purse (lying on the front seat) was stolen.

Canceling the credit cards, getting a new driver’s license, and all the other stuff is a real pain in the ass, but she was more heartbroken that the purse itself — the first “big ticket” item she had ever bought — was stolen.  That, and a ring her boyfriend had given her.  Sentimental stuff that had her in tears.

Naturally, I was consoling, but I kind of felt like that villain in the one of the James Bond movies who couldn’t feel any pain:  I can’t think of one item I’d lose where I’d even think of shedding a tear.

I mean we had a fire that took the whole house down a few years ago, but once I had my laptop I was fine.  Other stuff — the odd photo album, a few paintings, a decent watch — I really didn’t care.

Oh, there’s a few things I scramble for if they go missing.  Nancy gave me a silver pendant of  the Madonna del Ghisallo (the patron saint of cyclists), after I was t-boned by a car.  I never take it off and I was frantic for a few days when it mysteriously went missing (It fell off when I was wrestling the dogs. )

But, even then, I wasn’t heartbroken and figured I’d just replace it in the next week or so.

I guess in the end, all this would make me a good candidate for witness protection: I could literally pack up in 15 minutes and be out the house with no regrets.  Well, maybe I’d bring Nancy.  And the dogs.

 

The evolution of a “watch guy.”

For the better part of the last 15 years, I’ve been a “watch guy.”  You know, the kind of man who took pride in having a nice (read: expensive) watch.  I wasn’t particularly proud of this trait, but I did like having something nice on my wrist.

Now “nice” wasn’t something in the 5 figure range.  But, it was a very solid Chopard in the mid 4-digit area.

However, after about 10 years of solid effort, it simply refused to work.  So, I dutifully took it to the nearest “Chopard Service Center”….who then turned around and sent it to Chopard.  So much for customer service.

Four weeks rolled around, and I finally got a call telling me it’d be $490 to fix my watch.

Now in the past, I guess I would have paid that.  Figured it was the price for having something nice.  Kind of like taking Nancy’s old Jaguar in for service, which usually required a small homeowners loan every 6 months.

But, given that we are “on the cheap” like a lot of other people, I politely declined.  Instead, I scouted around and found a perfectly good Timex that was 1/10th the price of the Chopard…repair!

Perhaps in the future, I’ll get the Chopard fixed.  Or maybe not.   For whatever reason, being a “watch guy” doesn’t seem to matter that much any more.

Completely out of it.

About 30 years ago, when I still lived in the eastern PA area, I dated a girl who lived in Philadelphia.  On our first — and subsequently, last — date, I casually mentioned something about “Dr. J.”  To which she responded, “who?”

I was stunned.  I mean the 76ers were on the rise, they had a great team, and Julius Erving (Dr. J.) was already an icon.  How could anyone still breathing — and particularly living within 10 miles of where he played — not know who he was?

It wasn’t the last time I met someone “out of it.”  Unfortunately, in most future encounters, that person was most likely….me.

I clearly remember the first time I had apparently entered some sort of time warp.  The year was 1983, and I was riding in the car with some of my IBM cronies.  A song comes on the radio and I love it. “Who is that band?”  “OMG: they’re fantastic.”  “Are they new?”

The song was “Good times roll” by The Cars…released in 1978.  I must have been asleep that year as a) I had never heard of The Cars until that day, and b) had never heard the song.

After that episode, I found I was really starting to fall behind on cultural “things I needed to know” but didn’t feel too badly.  Certainly when I hit my 40s, I didn’t mind missing the whole rap thing, and by the time I hit my 50s, I couldn’t name any of the important vampire movies.  Or TV series.  Or even tell the difference.

Anyway, I was minding my own business this past weekend, intently watching the Men’s final at Wimbledon, when they zoomed in on the Royal Box and showed this woman:

 

 

Now, of course I knew who it was: Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Whatever.

But — and here’s the important point — somewhere along the way I completely missed that this woman is….absolutely gorgeous. (No, Nancy doesn’t mind me noticing.  It’s not like Middleton’s available….)   I mean she’s been in the news, what, a year?  Two years?  Ten years?  I really don’t know, but it was like discovering The Cars all over again.  Only Middleton is a lot more attractive than Ric Ocasek.

Anyway, I really should start reading People Magazine.  Or, at least turn the news on every once in a awhile.  I don’t mind not knowing Flo Rida’s current hit, but missing out on stuff like this?  Unforgivable!

 

Best book of the year…so far.

If you get a chance, I encourage you to pick up (or, for many, download) “Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind.”

Of course, your first thought might be that you have no real interest in magic.  Or Math Geeks, for that matter.  In fact, my own interest was limited, but something about the title caught my eye.

Of course, I’m glad I read the book, although the real takeaway wasn’t the magic part.  That was interesting, but what I really learned was just how hard magicians work at their craft.  Really, I had no appreciation that top magicians practice constantly.  And by “constantly” I mean that many carry a deck of cards around, for example, and practice almost throughout the day.

And that made me think how lazy I am when I’m trying to get good at something.  Sure, I may devote a few hours a day to something like my trading. (Although, now it’s more like a few minutes a day.)  But, in thinking about it, I could do a lot more.

Granted, we all have a lot going on in our lives.  Still, if you want to get really, REALLY good at something, you have to put in the time.

This book revealed that I’m really kidding myself: whether it was golf, or trading, or preparing for TV, I could do a whole lot more.

Global warming

With the East Coast experiencing some brutal summer weather (and storms: like many DC-area folks we were without power for 3 days), the trendy thing is to blame everything on global warming.  “This is just a taste of what’s to come” is the common theme.  http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/07/want_to_know_what_global_warmi.html

My opinion is that a) we still don’t know enough and b) this is probably a normal blip amongst the millions of other hot/cold months we’ve had since the dinosaurs.  (ie. 2 winters ago it was amongst the COLDEST we’ve ever seen.)

But, no matter: let’s assume this IS global warming.  You know what would happen?  WE’D ADAPT!  Yes, that’s what always seems to be forgotten: we’re very good at ulitmately accepting reality and moving forward.

As an example,

— All power lines would eventually be buried to mitigate storm damage.  (right there that’d take away 90% of the power outages.)

— Clothing would be developed to keep you cool in extremely hot temperatures.  (we already have tech fabrics, and I even have a high tech bike jersey that uses your own sweat to cool you off.)

— You’d eventually get used to doing things in 100+ temperatures.  (Nancy and I have played an hour of tennis when the heat index was 105.)

Of course, that’s not to say we’d suffer a bit in the transition. Heck the East Coast is suffering NOW.  But, eventually an evolution would take place, and we might even benefit from the change.

So, global warming or not, I’m not worried.  We’ll figure it out.