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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Moving Right Along

So I've decided, after not posting since God knows when, to start a new blog over here. It's not goofy-ass money stuff or anything like that, just a collection of stuff I like in an easily linkable form.

Check it out, not that I ever had any readers!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Cat Came Back...

...the very next few months later!

I'm back. Three weeks ago, my portfolio was PHAT. Now it's... not.

BUT-- I have a ton of new stuff to post about, not least of which is my starting a side business! All legit, legal and everything. I'm like dang! So I'll be posting step-by-steps here on the way for my new Limited Liability Corporation.

In the meantime, I just want to commend Capital One, 5/3, HSBC, and every other freaking bank out there trying to get me to sign up for your freaking credit cards. They're all business cards, and they showed up at my doorstep-- I kid you not-- like THREE DAYS after I filed the LLC papers! I was truly impressed. And annoyed. But at the very least, I had something to take my mind off this financial stalking.

I'm in love. Ah...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Staggering, but...

...I'm glad they're getting this done before the markets open. And I think it's good news. Yahoo reports that:

Talk about a bargain. It was trading around $30, and its all-time peak was over $150.

Still, this will do a lot to prop up the financial system worldwide. I expect a rough week in the market, but not as rough as it could have been. Still, I'm kind of amazed SO many people didn't see this coming. I didn't, but I don't work in finance for major investment banks, making the decisions that got us all in this mess in the first place.

Thanks, idiots. Next time, major in phys. ed., not finance. Then your gambling only wipes you out in the NCAA tournament pool.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Flat Tire Stocks

I met some friends last night for dinner, to welcome them back to town. Somehow-- I swear I didn't start it-- we got to talking about investing.

I know I'm no guru-- I've read a few books and hold a few positions-- but they're completely innocent. They had an account with one of the big brokerages but canceled it when their broker did nothing with it (um... I'm pretty sure you need to TELL the broker what to do!). They also have a lot of stock with the company he works for. But they don't know if they're long or short (i.e., if it's stock or options), and have no idea how to judge stock, determine whether it's under- or overpriced, or even the tax structures for buying & selling stock.

Anyway, I had a tipple and they got a two-hour lecture. Wonder if I'll be invited out again anytime soon!

Karmic retribution: One the way home I had a flat tire. Dangit! Mr MacMuffin must have snuck over late at night and clawed it up to punish me for the negative online attention. We, Mr MacMuffin, here is MORE negative attention: you suck!

BUT-- as I was changing the tire, thinking of the hassle of buying a new one, and hoping the donut would hold for the miles I had to go-- I couldn't help but feel good. The markets were up yesterday, and so were my stocks (one jumped 11 bucks a share). The Fed did some good in the world, promising to take on $200 billion of bad mortgage debt. Single largest point climb since 2002. Today we've opened mixed, but we'll see how it turns around later. I'm optimistic.

Now, the one thing I've learned about markets so far is that investors are like preteens. THEY'RE IDIOTS. They run around like chickens with their heads cut off at the slightest titter, and they invest in things based on rumor, speculation, and the dream they had last night after the mutton plate. So ANYTHING-- anything that makes you just a little more level-headed and objective, especially if you can weather out the storm, gives you an advantage. Like not being in New York, not competing with the Jonses, and having to change your own flat tire.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Scam Me, Baby!

5 inches in North Mississippi? Are you serious?

Late winter snows = huddled inside with the Internet.

And all Internet searches end up with someone trying to sell you something. My favorite: direct-response scam sites!

I won't name names (libel & all). But you know them. They look like:
BEGIN SCAM:

Are you tired of your cat always seeming like a
LOSER?
Do other cats make fun, spit hairballs, and hiss at your cat?
Does your cat make less than $20,000 a year?

STOP LIVING IN THE GUTTER

CLIMB UP THE TREE AND SMELL THE CAT-NIP


With my PATENTED system, you too can discover what tens of thousands of cats all over the country have discovered-- that

YOUR CAT CAN MAKE SOME SERIOUS BANK

YOUR CAT CAN GET THE OLD SELF-ESTEEM OUT OF THE LITTERBOX

YOUR CAT CAN LIVE THE DREAM YOU'VE HAD OF
BEING YOUR OWN BOSS
SHOWING YOUR EXES THEY MISSED OUT
SIPPING SWEET MILK BY THE SEA-SHORE


BUT DON'T take MY word for it. Ask our SATISFIED customers:



(all testimonials real and unsolicited; any resemblance
between testimonializers purely coincidental)


Act now! Limited time offer! If you buy now, you'll receive:
  • Our THREE COMPACT DISK audiobook describing our PATENTED system
  • FREE 24 hour phone support with our TRAINED professionals
  • an extra CD with example forms & paperwork for your OWN business
  • express-mailed tickets for our weekend seminar in scenic LAS VEGAS worth at least $1995.99!!!
AND THAT'S NOT ALL! ACT NOW!
/SCAM

I love the way they all use the same web design. It's like there's a template out there someone's selling... admittedly, at least one of the books I've read recently claims that the direct response format is the most effective for getting people to buy stuff. I have a hard time believing that, but then again, so far my experiments in CATpitalism have yielded me about two dollars online. Maybe direct response has its virtues, icky though it feel...

New business idea? Hmm...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gardening? Gardening!

Trent at The Simple Dollar has a post up about gardening as a way to save gobs of cash. I agree wholeheartedly, coming from a family of inveterate gardeners. My grandmother once had every square inch of her property planted, even the old wrecked tractor. I try to carry on the tradition, but with less work involved. Besides, it's a way for the Cat & I to spend some time together out in the sun.

Trent's on about tomatoes-- and I would recommend:

--Companion Planting--

This is not about taking a pot of fennel to the Singles Bar to find a mate. Rather, certain plants work well together. Others don't. And planting certain plants in groups-- the kinds of groups you might find out in nature-- they become more resistant to pests & disease. I even think they taste better.

A standard companion planting, or "guild:"
  1. Tomatoes mmm
  2. Asparagus mmmm
  3. Basil mmmmmmm
Keep them away from potatoes & cabbage. They don't get along. Turf wars!

Maybe the most famous "guild" is the Three Sisters, which the Native Americans knew & loved:
  1. Corn (which is tall)
  2. Beans (which climb the corn & fix nitrogen)
  3. Squash (which hangs out down below, filling in the space left over)
The main idea, then, is to fill in all the available spaces in your garden. Nature does this of her own accord when left alone, and it makes for a healthier system; humankind tends to put things in neat rows, which requires more land & labor, as it frees up space for weeds to come in, breaks up & leaches healthy soil, and allows weaker plants to thrive, thus inviting pests & disease.

There are a lot of great books on the topic, like and . But most importantly, try things out and watch your space. Then, as you learn what does and doesn't work in your soil, your climate, and your available light, you can make small changes to improve the system. Books are a good (nowadays, even necessary) place to start, but nothing-- absolutely nothing-- beats experience for gardening & farming.

And remember to design your pets into the system. Zooey has a nice sideline as a night watchcat, keeping the local squirrel population out of the proverbial larder.

(I also like to prep my plantings with some super-nutritious worm castings, but maybe I'm getting ahead of myself... And disclosure: I have a very modest sideline as a permaculture designer, though I prefer the science of it to the hippie stuff it's picked up in America. I'm too much of a redneck to do my sun salutations.)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Index Funds Put the Fun in Fundamental Stock Investing

Next to Cat Fancy, I think The Economist is the best magazine on the stands. (Or "newspaper," as "Sir" would have it-- read the letters page sometime!) It's better-researched than anything, well-written, and even funny. And I think my mail carrier is reading my copy!

Usually I get it on Saturday, but this week's didn't arrive until Monday. The carrier had a mischievious grin on, too. I think he must have been jonesing on the Special Report all about asset management in this week's issue. It describes the radical changes in the mutual fund industry, explains hedge funds, demystifies some of the arcane jargon ("alpha" versus "beta"). Smart, smart, smart.

It also confirms what Bogleheads, those oddly-named devotees of John Bogle & Vanguard's indexing options, already know. Mutual funds are a loser's game, because you're paying for a fund manager who gets paid based on last year's performance, which may not be replicable. Even if the manager does well, taxes & fees will each up your profits. It's kind of scam, really.

Index funds just try to replicate the market. I have a core of my investments in Vanguard index funds, and then a (smaller) discretionary fund which I use for individual investing. Not at all sexy-- not at all something to boast about down at the club (if I were in the club!). But long term, it works.

And I feel smarter having read The Economist. Seriously, a couple of hours with this magazine is better than a week's worth of people yelling at you on CNBC.