Tuesday, November 25, 2008

buy low, sell high

in an effort to not turn this into a blog that focuses on money, i just wanted to take one post to discuss my initial experiences trading in the stock market. all of this is new to me and i really have no clue what i am doing. so far so good. i have been slowly making money through the 4 stocks i purchased on friday and my net gains have been bouncing back and forth between 5 and 8 percent today, which i find more than acceptable. it feels a little weird discussing my purchases since i have this creeping worry that i should keep this info completely private, but since my readership is dan, phil and sometimes dave, i think i am safe. so the companies i am banking on are netflix, ge, cvs and google. all have been consitently going up excpet for google, which dropped after i purchased and then rebounded today. i have been also closely examining costco after alex sent me an arrrticle about the company.

while my initial success has been small and pretty luck-based, i have a few regrets. i probably should have shopped around to other trading companies to search for the lowest trade prices. my parents were kind of surprised about how much i was paying. also, i should have investigated the various purchase methods a little more. i just simply bout at market price, but could have looked into setting price points for purchases, especially for google which dropped like $10 per share at one point on friday. oh well, i could have just as easily missed out on the low opening price, so whatever.

i am also finding that the following of these stocks has developed into an easy obsession. it's in a constant state of flux when i am at work so i can keep hitting the refresh button so that as it rises i feel good and smart and when it goes down i feel like a failure. this definitely has a fantasy sports feel to it like when i am sitting by the computer on a sunday afternoon constantly checking on how many points i am beating laura by. add in the fact that this is more or less gambling...investing has filled a nice vice hole for me that could replace actual gambling.

i have some short term goals with this investment that may or may not be realistic, but i know that as long as i make a profit it will be better than if it were sitting in the bank right now. i will probably not discuss these investments again unless i do something drastic, my earnings blow up or something catastropic happens.

Monday, November 24, 2008

goodbye eddie

a few minutes ago, news broke about eddie jordan being fired as the head coach of the wizards. while i could see this developing, i am not sure if this is the right move. first of all, i have a lot of respect for ej and think that he had proven himself to be an intelligent coach who was able to make decent adjustments and have as good of control of an nba team as you can expect. he always carried himself in a professional manner and oversaw the most consistently prosperous seasons the wizards have had in almost 30 years. with that said, the wizards have continually failed to advance far into the playoffs and are off to a dismal 1-10 start to the season.

hey you! over there! did you just call me sinbad?

part of the blame should be placed on the wizards missing their best player in gilbert arenas as well as the very underrated brendan haywood, who really made the team defense work. with that said, the wizards do have 2 all star players in caron butler and antawn jamison, so one would expect the team to hopefully hover around 500 while they waited for gil's return. they have some ok role players, but maybe the issue was that the team's identity relied so heavily on hibachi and the tmnt that it left the team with 2 very good players trying to do everything while the rest of the team stands around, unsure about their role and focus. if this was a factor than yes, eddie jordan can be held accountable for their current failures.

i might have hands of stone, look like a teenage mutant ninja turtle and be really slow, but my defense is key for this team.

another thing to consider is the role of the gm, ernie grunfeld, who while making some excellent moves and draft choices and proving to be the first qualified gn the wiz have had since i can remember, he has constructed this team and should also be held accountable. again, this team is so reliant on their big 3 and the salary distribution shows it. the problem with this plan is that the 3 all stars are all either at the peak of the career or past it (in the case of jamison and possibly post-surgery gil). they have not shown the ability to get past the 2nd round of the playoffs since the squad has been together and they are arguably getting worse as a group. so when grunfeld gave arenas 100 + million over 7 years, there's no where else to go. i love arenas. he is my favorite player in the league and i have his bobblehead, but looking at this logically, that contract might have just sealed the deal for more years of mediocrity. this is the squad for now and the next few years. the same squad that has proven to be good but not good enough. the team as it stands will never be able to compete with the top teams in the east.

so where does that leave us now? after a 1-10 start, it is justifiable to fire the coach, even though he might be a good coach. it just wasn't working and it's always easier to get rid of the coach than the player. now ed tapscott is going to take over as the interim, but do we really think the team will play better now? what is this team's identity?

Friday, November 21, 2008

you gotta pay the troll toll if you wanna get into this boy's soul

last night was the conclusion of the 4th season of what might be my favorite television show of all time. it's always sunny in philadelphia has been a shinning beacon in a world of mediocre to awful television programing. i love this show so much i don't know where to begin. it's concept is simple: 4 self-centered friends and the dad of 2 of those friends all own a bar in philadelphia and hijinks ensue.

i was gonna go through all of the characters and break stuff down, but i assume most people are familiar with this show and i will instead focus on my favorite dynamic of this show and why i think it works:

the combination of dee and charlie (my favorite character) is dynamite. dee is arguably the most normal and least self-centered member of the group, while also serving up laughs for being pathetic with her hopeless dreams of making it as an actress. she always seems to start off as the dissenting voice of reason before she is quickly sucked into the mindset of the rest of the gang. charlie is the wildcard of the group and is constantly angry and screaming. he is extremely excitable, has an unrequited love for a waitress that he stalks and is illiterate but refuses to admit it. together they have excellent chemistry and are my favorite combination on the show. here are some of my favorite clips of their interactions from this season.

dee wants charlie to walk in her shoes and experience her efforts to perform standup comedy:

charlie also wants dee to experience what being charlie is all about:

dee and charlie realize they may have developed an unfortunate hunger:

while trying to create viral videos, charlie comes across dee's secret video diaries:

charlie explains to dee what makes an internet video popular (i think i got it. i think i got it.):

are these two headed for emmy territory? don't get me wrong...i love all of the characters, but these 2 are my favorites and their powers increase exponentially when combined. anyways, their 4th season ended last night and they went out with a bang. charlie wrote a musical about dayman as a ploy to ask his stalkee to marry him. the songs were brilliant as were the conflicts:

so who else loves this show? do you agree with my contention that the biggest strength of the show is the charlie/dee combo?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

my initial impressions of the new xbox dashboard

yesterday xbox introduced the new dashboard. the 2 main aspects of this update that interest me are the creation of avatars and the streaming of netflix watch instantly movies.

while the avatars are a clear ripoff of what nintendo did with the wii, i applaud microsoft for taking a look at competing products, finding what works and then improving upon them and adding it to their videogame experience. you know who does not do this? sony. the ps3 was released a year after the 360, and because of the fact that the ps3 and 360 are very similar machines that market towards the same type of gamer, you would assume that sony would say ok, microsoft has created a very fun online experience that's easy to use. they also have added gamer achievement points which all the nerds love. maybe we should incorporate this into our machine. they did none of this with the year they had and decided to make a shitty online experience combined with no overall gamer scores or achievement system. is america getting revenge on the japanese for taking our cars and making them much better?

nice try sony....but i still don't think you're getting it.

sorry, that was kind of a rambling rant that went nowhere, but it just amazes me that people that are making decisions do so with such stupidity at times. back to the new dashboard. i made my new avatar which i tried to make look like me. the result was a skinny asian guy with hair i used to have 10 years ago. not that i wanted to make my avatar look fat, but i don't think that us huskier guys really get represented well in these types of things. so, unhappy with my avatar, i decided to just be silly and not make him look like me. i gave him bunny teef, a heart on his cheek and johnny bravo hair. his wardrobe was described by louise as that of a competitive equestrian. you can see his face on this blog if you scroll down to my gamer profile. 5 minutes after i created my avatar, ben sent me a message saying how super assy it was. whatever.

i also tested out the netflix service. i am a big fan of netflix in general and was excited to hear about its inclusion in the xbox. setup was a breeze and within 2 minutes i was flipping though my watch instantly queue. this adds a lot of movies to my watch whenever i'm bored library. there are some pretty good titles like no country for old men and seasons of 30 rock. there are also a lot of questionable titles that could be fun to watch. the video quality is ok. it's certainly not hd, which i think is due to my tv's lack of hdmi input. it shows the video in widescreen format, so a slightly blurry picture is acceptable to me. another little nitpick is that you can't add new movies to your queue from your xbox. you have to do it from your computer. there is no limit to how many movies can be on your queue, so i spent the afternoon adding anything i might be remotely interested in seeing. i ended up watching 30 minutes of the day of the dead remake starring mena suvari and ving rhames. it was quite shitty. i thne changed it up for more the family-friendly the gameplan starring the rock. i didn't finish it either, but it was at least sort of enjoyable.

as netflix adds more titles to their watch instantly library, this feature will be used more and more by me. while not perfect, i am happy with how this worked out and i give the efforts my netflix and microsoft a solid b grade. hopefully this helps netflix continue to grow and i can buy their stock starting tomorrow and be along for the ride.

this addition to my home entertainment repertoire also opens up a recurring question/issue for me. am i getting closer to canceling cable? i am already trying to watch less tv and i hate how comcast charges so much money. i currently have a lot of dvd's, netflix one dvd out a time, plus now netflix watch instantly. throw in an hd antenna and maybe a media center pc that will show videos from hulu on my tv and i think i could easily get by. after all of the fees and taxes this could end up saving me at least $80/month. now i just need to convince louise.

some changes and a flashback

those of you who have gotten used to and quite comfortable with my old blogger template sure are in for a rude awakening today. you might also note that this will be 2 blogging days in a row which has not happened for a while due to actually having to do *some* work recently. well now i am not so busy and with that free time came a complete makeover to the look and feel of t.i.t.s. sort of like picking at a loose thread from your sweater, this change evolved from sort of random, bored poking around. once the ball got rolling everything was changing until i was left with a pile of yarn and no sweater.

so let's see...i have added an image to my banner, which i think looks nice. i have changed the layout, fonts, colors and now i will no longer be restricted to the narrow columns that my old template held me to. i have added a place for weekly polls (vote now before it's too late!). my blogroll now lists blogs i like as well as their most recent posting. this had been in jess' blog for a while and i am just now catching up. i don't think it's any less readable now. really it's just an attempt to change things up as the old look had gotten stale. if i were more proficient at css, you could expect some more assy touches, but alas, i was too afraid to mess with what blogger gave me and this is the result. deal with it.

as i was making these changes, i looked at various different styles and it reminded me of a simpler time. allow me to indulge. back when i was in college, i had nam show me how to make my own website in the wam labs. he showed me some basic html coding and i just ran with it. the result was quite possibly the biggest eyesore of a website ever created. while this was not my original intention, as soon as i made the background color a yellow so bright that it is actually listed as the cherokee word that means "eyes hurt", subconciously i knew where this was going and what had to be done. at the top of the screen under the giganticly fonted title of the "so great page" was a row and a half (depending on your screen resolution) of saluting sock monkeys via the obnoxious technology of the animated gif. this was of course followed by some sort of boastful introduction explaing in some detail how great i am. below this was possibly an out of place horizontal bar seperating the introduction from the next level of even more random animated gifs that helped make the page one of the slowest loading pages back in the modem days. there were also various midi files that had nothing to do with anything else placed throught the page. basically if i saw it used on another website or learned of something new that i could add, i would do it just to further add to the site's awesomenes.

this picture is a pretty good visual representation of my website

amongst a sea of poorly aligned pictures of lori loughlin and kelly kapowski were various links to "articles" that i wrote. this was the punk rock to my current easy listening attitude and writing. they were raw, extremely assy, poorly written and would have totally kicked this blogs ass. there were completely random writings like when i decided to become a spree farmer. i would write restaurant reviews of the places i ate. after visiting establishments like taco bell and burger king, these writeups would be so detailed and embelished with nonsense that would make you wonder what my deal was. i would recall various situations i would get myself into with my various crushes. these included:
  • my constant bickering with ubernerd tammy
  • my suspicions that the blonde sorority girl was flirting with me cause she mistakenly thought i was smart since i was asian
  • my stalking of sol
  • how i though one attractive lass would make a good clown (she had the right bone structure if that makes sense)
  • lena the greek warrior princess

the fall bounty of 1997

sadly i could go on and on as i seem to remember these more vividly than i think i should. i will chalk it up to my smart brain and the fact that i wrote stories about these situations, as doing something creative will help you recall details...or so i will hypothesize.

also sadly, i do not know of any place where these stories are saved. they would be fun for me to revisit and if i ever do find them on some random 3.5 floppy or saved in some hidden folder in my yahoo account, i will post any worthwhile ones here. a few of my friends might have vague memories of my abomination of a website and the assy tales that lay within.

anyways, what do you think of the new layout and look? if anyone remembers the so great page, please explain to me how awesome you thought it was.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

oh i see how it is...now (emphasis on now) my blood is good enough

a few weeks ago i tried to donate blood for the first time. i know, it's pretty weak that i have never done this before. i just don't like needles. i know the pain is brief and basically like a strong pinch, but something about the anticipation, knowing that you are going to feel this momentary pain, brings out the coward in me.

i went to the blood drive and was all ready to go. i filled out their questionaire and had some blood taken so they could check some basic things. i discovered that my iron levels are good, which was nice to hear since i don't eat meat. also my blood pressure is normal, which was also nice to hear. what was not nice to hear? i wouldn't be able to donate blood that day because i went to the dominican republic in june. the d.r. is apparently a high malaria risk country and i would have to wait until july of next year before i could donate. so that kind of sucked, but it did get me out of the office and i also received some positive health information...well expcept that i could possibly have malaria.
anyways, i left without a free t-shirt or cookie and just assumed i would be back next year. yesterday i got a voicemail from someone at the american red cross telling me that they were sorry i was unable to donate, but that they are doing a study and need participants who have recently visited a high-malaria risk country. that and they also pay. part of me thinks this is karma for attempting to do something good and as a result i'm about to get my cheddah on. how much will they compensate me for my participation? i'm thinking somewhere in the thousands of dollars is realistic. hopefully they just don't take too much of my blood and hopefully this is not some new vampire scam.

i could be a genius and my squatting form might be wrong

there have been some recent developments from my last 2 posts.

isn't it funny how after i post about the awesome potential of javale mcgee, every other sports blogger and their cousin hype him up post trashcans in the street.?

there were tons more around the same time, but these were the first ones i could retrieve. now granted, i am a local fan, thus giving me more access to wizards games than most other people. to give you an idea of what kind of basketball nerd i have become, i joined some live chat on rotoworld last week and kept trying to ask questions about lemonhead. of course the "expert" did not use any of my questions, partially due to my vaguely threatening working and partially because this guy probably had no idea who the big secret was. the point to be taken home about this is that i saw this guy blowing up before a lot of other people and i want to boast about it.
  • does all of this kind of make me a scouting genius? probably.
  • does an nba team need to hire me as their new gm? most likely. i couldn't eff things up worse than isiah.
  • am i the man? you KNOW!

duhhh...i could be the worst gm ever...

in other news related to my recent blog posts, i have been unable to purchase any stocks. for the most part this has been a good thing as many of the stocks i have been eyeing have gone down in value a little. i would ideally like to purchasr these stocks at their lowest value and catch them on the upswing, thus becoming what is known as a "knife catcher". i had to dig around a little as i was sure i would have been able to invest by now, but i finally discovered an exact date of when my account unfreezes, 11/21/08 aka the day kevin loses all of his money.

i have also been pretty good about not spending too much money this past week. most days are zero dollar days. this weekend i spent more that i would have liked. on saturday i crashed some kickball league party with bub and jill ($20 cover, open bar). it was a lot of fun, and i'm telling you, if you are a single guy, this is where you need to be. it was a very easygoing party atmosphere and i was chatting up strangers which i never do. i also spent money on groceries, which i refuse to feel bad about as long as i do my best to only buy the essentials. i bought 2 new sweaters which will be logging heavy minutes in my wardrobe rotation. at this point, pre-first wash, they are not tight at all, so dan won't be able to make fun of me. i also bought my mom lunch, which i also do not feel bad about.

finally some other stray thoughts or mundane occurances of the last few days:
  • dave wants to have a black friday party. i guess it's been a few months since we have had a kegger, but the coldness means less time outside which makes kind of a tight fit for our living room. what do you think should we party?
  • bub is hosting a potluck thanksgiving party. i am definitely going, but not sure what i will bring. i am tempted to go the easy route and bring alcohol. at the same time, i kind of want cooking to be a new hobby and challenege myself a little. maybe i will make a veggie meatloaf.
  • yesterday i got into a conversation with a trainer at my gym about squatting. he was wondering why i was squatting below parallel. all of the stuff i have read online says to get down low, but he seemed to think that once you get that low you lose all power and will blow out your knees. i had read that the only way to really work the glutes on squats was to get down low. i dunno. he is certainly more qualified than i am, but maybe not more than the trainers online. he is also a competitive powerlifter. i haven't had any knee issues, but then again i was squatting half of what he was doing. anyone have any ideas?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

let's hope for the best

the nba season kicked off a few weeks ago and the wizards are pretty bad. the black president is still hurt and the reports on his return date are kind of all over the place. as much as i dislike him, the absence of brendan haywood leaves a huge hole defensively in the middle. the wizards started the season 0-5 but just picked up their first victory last night against the jazz and there was one player who really stood out, rookie center javale mcgee.

i watched him play some this preseason and thought, this kid could be good. after a few real games, here is some of my quick-hitting analysis:
  • true 7-footer
  • has what looks like a 10 foot wing span
  • very good athlete for his size
  • hustles
  • blocks shots like louis clips coupons
  • aggressive offensively
  • good footwork
  • his mom was in the wnba
so yeah, i am excited about javale and his potential. i did not expect him to have an impact this early, but he has certainly stepped up.

here are some of his college highlights:

his arms are so exaggeratedly long that he kind of looks like a praying mantis on the court. caron butler thought about giving him the nickname "lemonhead". he calls himself "the big secret". i like all 3 options.

i've got long arms

the resemblance is striking


i remember when he was drafted. i welcomed him into my life as the newest wizard, but then i started reading all of the "expert" analysis on the pick. i remember seeing terms like "reach", "unpolished", "not ready", and "questionable choice". i bought into the hype and assumed that this was a blown pick. but once i saw him in action during the preseason, i sensed his potential. i hyped him up to my friends, most of whom don't really care about basketball, during the first zards game. and just last night he finally showed what he could do and was what i believe to be the catalyst for the wizards first victory of the season. now eddie jordan needs to put him in the starting lineup, or else give him some major minutes.
i hope this is not him passing the ball, but rather, his preferred method for catching passes.

also, i just added him to my fantasy basketball team. he better produce. the wizards could be in for a long season...especially if arenas does not come back 100%. at least we can witness mcgee's growth and development into a key member of this team.

will this be known as the big regret of 2008?

so the economy is not doing well. duh. luckily i have good job security, but i am still making efforts to be better about saving. i have started tracking all of my purchases this month in an effort to be more conscious of where my money of going and where i can trim some of the more frivolous spending. so far so good. i had made a pact with dave to not eat out at all during the week and to not eat fast food at all during november. i am going strong so far...dave failed in less than 12 hours. knowing that whenever i buy something i have to write it down, makes me hesitant to buy dumb random stuff that i would usually buy...like games on itunes or some random book when i have like 3 other unread books at home. it's almost like a game or personal challenge where if i write $0 spent for the day, then i win. hopefully when i add all of this stuff along with mortgage, utilities, gym and other recurring charges, i will be spending less than i earn.

ok, back to the country's economy and my embarrassing and extreme lack of understanding how it works. i have never made much of an effort to understand how investing and the economy works. thinking about it usually made my head hurt. buy low, sell high is about the extent of my understanding. my dad, who is pretty knowledgeable about this sort of stuff, recently convinced me to start investing beyond my normal 401k. he said something along the lines of "when people are greedy, you should be scared, but when people are scared....you should be..." i cut him off, yelling "greedy!!!!", not fully understanding why, but i eagerly made an educated guess about where the advise was going. luckily i was right in anticipating what he was going to say and i guess it made some sense to me. a lot of very solid companies that have had a long track record and will be around for a long time have stocks that are valued very low. now is the time to jump in and grab some shares of google while it is at half of the value it was at last year...or so i sort of understand it. i mean they can't get much lower, right? if the answer is they can get much lower, than i would rather not know.

so now i have begun to read and understand a little bit more about how investing works. i set up an investing account and stuck a bunch of money in it. i have seeked the advice of some friends who know more about this than i do. i realize that this is essentially gambling and thus very likely something that i could become obsessed/addicted to. so any day now, i will take the plunge and pick some stocks that will hopefully rebound in the coming months. i am currently looking at google, cvs, ge, apple, garmin, bed, bath and beyond and microsoft. hopefully all goes well and this time next year i am kickin it scrooge mcduck style and not wearing a barrel held up with suspenders.

is this asking for too much?