Thursday, October 30, 2008

travel to IMFlorida

Tomorrow morning we're going to drive to Panama City Beach to watch some of our friends/athletes compete in the Ironman. I'm not looking forward to the drive but the event is always a good time. Going to try and do my long run for the week on Saturday during the bike portion of the event.

I won another 50% of my stake last night in poker. I was down to my last 15 dollars, then called an all-in from one of the more aggressive players. He had a pair of kings, I had slow played a low flush on the flop.

The end of October also is the deadline for submitting 3rd quarter payroll taxes. I'd like to take this opportunity to give the finger to all the idiots in Washington who piss away our hard earned tax dollars.

Isn't poker and politics more interesting than training log updates?

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Crash Proof review

I finished Crash Proof, by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital. It paints a dire picture of the US economy and what the near future holds for the US dollar. A summary:

Prognosis: Devaluation of the dollar vs other currency, resulting in both inflation and recession. The devaluation is due to the excesses of printing dollars backed only by faith and credit (but not gold), and deficit spending. Plus the $50 trillion in unfunded liabilities like SS and Medicare.

Key info: real inflation is closer to 8%, not what the government tells you in the CPI.

Treatment and cure (for individual investors): Invest in foreign dividend-paying stocks and gold (through physical bullion, certificates of deposit at the Perth Mint, and maybe an ETF like GLD). His advice is something like 70/30 with additional adequate liquidity (6 months living expenses) denominated in yen, euros, yuan, or swiss francs. You can do this through various ETFs or open a foreign bank account.

The book was released in February, 2007. For fun I decided to take a look at what might have happened if I had been smart enough to follow the advice to the T on October 10, 2007 (just after the peak of the US stock market). Using a fictional $100,000 for ease of calculation we'll allocate $60 grand to VTRIX (Vanguard Intl Value Fund - no US Stocks), $30,000 to gold (spot price), $5,000 to Swiss Francs, and $5,000 to Japanese Yen.

$100,000 on 10-10-2007 buys:
$5000 to Yen = 586,050 yen.
$5000 to Francs = 5,932 francs.
$30,000 to gold = 40.47217 ounces
$60,000 to VTRIX at 47.57/share = 1261.3 shares

Converting back to USD on 10-10-2008 (1 year later):
We'll add 1% interest to the cash on yen and francs figuring we had them in interest bearing accounts of some sort:
591,910.5 Yen to USD at 100.481 = $5,890.77
5,991.32 francs to USD at 1.129 = $5,306.75
40.47217 oz gold to USD at 900.5/oz = $36,445.19
1261.3 shares + 3.35 dividend at 23.78/share = $34,227.87.

total = $81,870.59. The foreign markets have been hit as bad as the US lately. The total allocation has done better than a US equity portfolio (but not a cash account) and if you believe that the US economy is in trouble then taking another look at this sort of allocation might be worthwhile.

Anyways, it is a good read.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Handouts for failed institutions


Here it goes. The Fed is handing out funny money to anyone with a lobbyist in Washington. Detroit automakers that were churning out gas guzzlers with absolutely no visionary strategy. Foreign bank subsidiaries. Failed insurers and banks. Who's next? Starbucks. We need this stalwart on every corner. Medical insurers. They don't collect enough. Hospitals that can't collect from insurance companies but keep servicing illegal immigrants. Local governments. Foreign governments. A cat food company. Some company I incorporated that does something obscure but needs funding. Everyone gets a piece. Who cares? It's not like we need to pay it back. What a total and complete cop out.

Onto another subject. I'm convinced that insiders in the Republican party did their best to torch McCain's chances of actually winning the election. They hooked him up with a relative unknown for his VP candidate. They've probably given him bad advice on a variety of issues, from not accepting public funding to policy issues, all under the guise of being friends and confidantes. Bri mentioned a few days ago that she felt bad for McCain since everything seems to have gone wrong for him. After pointing out his net worth of $30 million +/- and several houses, we decided he's doing OK and can handle losing a presidential election. I don't think John Kerry has been doing much crying about 2004.

Onto fun things. We went to the NC State fair last night. Good times. Lots of crappy food and silly games. I ate a fried cheeseburger, which was absolutely disgusting but yummy. I won Bri a rose.

Going to run (literally) down to the 5k in Raleigh later today, which will get me about 10 miles to the race then another 3.1 during. Might as well. It's nice out and I need the miles.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Poker night


There is a Wednesday poker group that a fellow triathlete/poker player clued me into a few weeks ago. Last night I played for the second time. The stakes are not too high and the format is sit-and-go, meaning the blinds don't go up and you can leave when you want to (not a tournament like you see on TV). It is an all in Hold 'em game though, so if someones goes all in you better have good cards if you're going to call. I typically play pretty tight but mix it up once in a while. My dad has been a poker player for most of his life and these days counts it as part of his income.

The first time I played I made 25% on my initial buy-in. Last night I was able to make 150% on my initial buy in, which is good for Bri's running gear fund. I figure at this rate I can outpace stocks, the government, and inflation.

This weekend Bri and I will race in the Second Empire 5k on Sunday. The race start times around here are usually pretty manageable - this one goes off at 2pm. So you don't have to sit home like a lightweight the night before.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Book review


I was on Amazon to purchase a couple books and one of the Amazon recommendations was "The Great Bust Ahead," by Daniel Arnold. Arnold wrote the book in 2002 and predicted a massive US/UK depression from around 2013 to 2025.

It's a short book, 65 pages, with a simple premise: GDP is/has been driven by the 45-54 year old demographic since the early 20th century. This demographic is theorized to be the largest consumer segment. Arnold finds a high degree of correlation between the size (sheer number) of people in this group and the economy as indicated by the DJIA. When the segment (baby boomers) start to exit the 54 year old age group (but 10-15 years before they actually retire), GDP will decline precipitously.

His predictions:
A DJIA high of around 26,000 sometime around 2013, +/- for wars, pestilence, acts of God
A drop in the DJIA back to around 10,000 before trending upwards in 2025
a 12 year depression that will make the Great Depression look like a beach party; resulting in a peak of 25% unemployment starting around 2013, with the resulting sociological problems
A deflationary period similar to Japans in the 90s to today


His recommendations (not mine):

Get into cash or long and intermediate government bonds before 2012
Sell your house, bank the profit with bonds, and rent, then rebuy after prices collapse

He's not a professional economist but the book brings up some interesting points and frightening predictions. You can check it out here.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Long run and random thoughts



Ran about 12 miles in Umstead Park today with Bri, then ran home (about another 5 miles) for around 17 miles. My total weekly mileage has not been monumental, but I felt good today. Stopped at a Kangaroo convenience store with about 3 miles to go and picked up a coke and a Gatorade. Nothing quite as sweet as a Coke around 15 miles into a run.

We had a nice weekend with our friend Bill in town, caught the FSU-NC State game, and the Powerstroke swim clinic yesterday went well. We are both always pretty wiped out after one of these, and last night after a quiet dinner, we slept close to ten hours. Tassie was going apes hit this morning trying to get us up to go play play play!

The weather has turned cold here, down into the 40s at night and in the 50s today.

We're going to be driving down to IM Florida to support our athletes who are racing in a couple weeks. I've been there several years running and was leaning towards going over to Beach 2 Battleship instead (where I have a couple folks racing), but Bri has two athletes who are doing their first Ironman at Florida and we thought it would be good for her to be there. It is an 11 hour drive.

I'm now going to look for a running race for next weekend around here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stock feels depressed, underappreciated



Stock, an ownership certificate in the conglomerate company General Electric, feels depressed and undervalued, it said on Tuesday.

"Things just haven't been the same recently," said Stock, sipping quietly on a beer in a pub outside GE headquarters in Fairfield, Connecticut. "I know I haven't been quite on top of my game in the past few months, but look, I'm still in positive territory. I'm making a profit every quarter, I sell and produce mostly real products that people want to buy and use. Not like those idiots on Wall Street."

Stock added, "When was the last time you saw our P/E ratio below 10? I mean, what the f***?"

Stock, who has been with GE since the company's inception in 1894, has not taken the last year well. After several decades of teetotaling and a healthy diet, it fell off the wagon in June, just around the same time its value dropped below $30.

"That was total bullsh**," said Stock. "At thirty (dollars) my dividend yield was something like four percent. Not bad for a big, stable, longtime diversified company like me, right? Growth and stability all the way, I say. But no, they had to go and pummel me down. Now look at me. Look at me, I said!"

Stock paused to pound its chest with one hand. "I got a f***ing bargain for ya, right here, buddy. Nineteen dollars will get you six point five on the dee yee. And I guarantee a mother f***ing bounce back, GE style."

Stock took a swig of its beer. "What a bunch of sissy-weight cowards out there. Buying low-rate CDs, stuffing mattresses with paper bills."

"Paper bills, you dipsh**s! I mean, duhhhhhh!" Stock spat vehemently.

"You think gold nuggets gives you a dividend, or the pride of ownership in a great American company - an icon of ingenuity, perseverance, and all those other big fancy words?"

"***k No!" Stock yelled. "Sh*t man." It paused for a breath.

"Maybe I'll just buy myself and wait out all you morons. I get the idea that most of you don't even know who Thomas Edison was, anyway. Now that was a great American. Man. Those were the days."

Stock then crushed his beer can, threw it to the floor, and quickly left the pub.

A spokesperson for GE was unavailable for comment.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I am 11% yesterday, and so can you

I'm back to working on the DVD. Found a website that licenses music for a reasonable price and they have a nice selection of instrumental background sounds that can go on the various menus. We're running another clinic this weekend and will capture additional footage in order to splice the two presentations together.

In other news, the underwater camera I paid for two months ago should be on its way this week. The fabricator had some personal business that held him up.

On Thursday night we're going to catch the NC State - FSU game. Should be a good time.

In other news, I expect the stock market to drop 6% today, rise 5% tomorrow, trade sideways on Thursday, and then close down another 2% on Friday. But don't bet on it.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Oct 12 weekend update

We've had a fun weekend with Mom in law in town. On Saturday we went to the UNC-Notre Dame game in Chapel Hill. We started tailgating at 10:30AM, with the game starting at 3:30. During the 2nd quarter Bri, her Mom, and myself wound up on TV for a few seconds while the refs were reviewing a play. Bri has a funny pic up about that. I heard from an old buddy from high school who spotted us. Funny stuff!

Today Bri and I went for a long run in Umstead, then I sat down to knock out some work. Bri and her Mom went shopping. A little while after they left I went to get a drink from the sink and noticed the water pressure was low. The Town of Cary had come out on Friday to let me know we were going through a lot of water, so I had a plumber came out and they replaced a t junction gasket lockie thingie in our crawlspace. Problem solved.

But today it was not as simple - I went out to the water heater closet and noticed that a pipe leading into the heater had disconnected and was spewing water everywhere. I'd like to tell you I calmly turned off the house water main and then got my dad's awesome toolkit to make a new crimp and fix it myself, but alas I could not find the house shutoff valve and my dad never liked doing house work, either. So I had to call the town's 24 hour service to come out and shut it down at the meter. Luckily the water closet is an attached but mostly separate structure from our house so there's no internal water damage.

That's the weekend update. Congrats to everyone who raced in the Chicago marathon or Ironman Hawaii over the weekend.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Auugh!

I don't know about you, but we stuck with our 'diversified' portfolio and have ridden everything all the way down. Unfortunately the entire civilized world is trying to dump their stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds at the same time, resulting in plummeting prices everywhere. This is a good time to have a lot of cash. I cut a check to my IRA today and will keep plunking along with a few grand in there every year and keep my fingers crossed that the whole system doesn't implode. Bri is also putting a few percent of her paycheck into a 403b every month. The rest of our savings are going into CDs and gold from here on out. F*cking scary world.

In other news, in 'every day' world, people around here are still doing things like eating out, going out, watching movies, running, riding, swimming, and having fun, despite the erasure of 10 trillion dollars in global equity. I guess they're not paying attention! I would not want to be close to retirement right now with a 50/50 portfolio, that would be extremely painful.

In other news, some of you might be interested in a local bank that is paying 4.01% APY for a checking account on amounts up to $25,000. You can open it up online. All you have to do is 10 ATM/credit transactions per month and one automated deposit or withdrawal. We have an account and it is legit. Capital Bank.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Federal Government to Buy Your House

The US Federal Reserve, with the approval of both Houses, promised today to purchase your house, and every other residence in the United States, at fair market value. The stunning new rule will go into effect at the end of 2008 and is named the Home Land Protection Purchasing Act of 2008 (Sponsored by Nancy Pelosi and John McCain).

Purchases will be made in an orderly process. In January, 2009, all homeowners who have a last name beginning with A, J, or P will have their home purchased by the government.

All primary homes, condos, townhomes, and beach shantys will be purchased for exactly $230,000, the median home price in the United States, regardless of square footage, backyard, age, frontage, or state of disrepair. Funding for each purchase will come from new issues of Treasury bills, and revenue generated by renting the homes back to the original owners.

"This is another win-win for us, the people of the US, for we are the government," said Hank Paulson, a triumphant look on his face. "By purchasing each and every home in the country, we have truly unified the people with an equitable distribution of responsibility."

Homes with 2 bedrooms or less will be rented back to the owner-citizen for $1200 per month, while homes with 3-5 bedrooms will be rented back for $2000 per month. Homes with 6 bedrooms or more will be rented back for $2100 per month. Owner-citizens will not be allowed to move for a period lasting up to one year as the orderly process of repurchasization begins.

If a homeowner is unable to make his or her monthly payment, he or she and his or her immediate family will be processed for reeducation to learn a new useful skill or trade at one of the newly built US Reprocessing Centers in Arizona, Montana, Alaska, or Tennessee.

"It's time for us to get behind each other, and work our way out of this dreadful financial situation caused by greedy bankers and politicians," said Ben Bernanke, pounding the table with his fist. "Hard work will make us all free in the end. We've lost sight of that as a country."

As part of the Home Land Protection Purchasing Act of 2008, each owner-citizen will be responsible for upkeep and maintenance of his or her residence.

Second and vacation homes will be appropriated by the government for government use.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Singularity of purpose

I keep an eye on other coaching outfits and there is a longtime trend towards naming coaching services, products, and philosophies. This is a way of both differentiating a product or service and making it memorable in the mind of an athlete/reader/consumer. I do the same thing if you look at our coaching site with One Step Beyond, Premium Steps, Powerstroke, and so on.

What I haven't done is name-brand my particular 'philosophy' or method of coaching because I think that is cheesy, feel-good BS. I am into marketing and differentiation as much as the next outfit, but anyone who tells you they have "the way" is either delusional of full of it.

There is a right way for everyone - but it should always be prefaced with "the right way for everyone is right...for that one."

But today I am feeling snarky. So here it is:

The Way of the Singularity of Purpose within the Method of the Smaller Circle of Focus inside the Triangle of Strengths within the Greater Circle of Meaning.



The Greater Circle of Meaning includes and encompasses your reasons for participating in your chosen sports.
The Triangle of Strengths helps winnow down your field of excellence and pursuit to suit your strengths.
The Smaller Circle of Focus enables you to make the most of these strengths by making them into a smaller circle.
The Singularity of Purpose is the knife-like edge of your greatness. A singularity enables you to 'break through' to the other side.

That is your One Step Beyond new age lesson for today.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

training, politics, life in general

I agree with my buddy Rob that our only real course of action in the next round of elections is to vote against every incumbent (except Ron Paul). I have written a few emails to my representatives, but other than that the only other action you or I can take is to get involved in your local, city, state government (and be sure to vote). It's going to be a bumpy ride for a while.

But back to training, racing, and all that fun stuff. Bri and I decided to skip the ocean swim on Saturday since the entry fee had gone to $40 each, and we're cheap and somewhat lazy on occasion. Then I heard about a 2 mile swim on Sunday with one of the local age group teams, but it was going to be mostly kids, so scrapped that. Instead we slept in and went for a run to the St Pete Pier. This week has been a good week of running for me. I ran 6 times: Monday 25 minutes, Tuesday 30 minutes, Wednesday 55 minutes, Thursday 2 hours, Saturday 45 minutes, Sunday 55 minutes. I also swam 3 times and did some core strength a couple of days. I'm looking forward to getting some running speed back through the winter.

I also started taking some Kung Fu classes at a center near our house a few weeks ago. I've been talking for years to Bri about getting back into some martial arts (I took Tae Kwan Doe when I was a little kid) and finally decided there's no time like the present. The classes are tough and my hamstrings have been screaming for a couple weeks. I'm going on Tuesday and Thursday nights with some Saturdays.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

weekend update

We're here in sunny St. Petersburg and about to head out to First Friday in downtown St Pete, which is a regular monthly street festival. We always run into folks we know and have a good time.

Today Bri gave me and her father a massive scare. Her ear had filled up with fluid on our flight descent, and then just before we got on an elevator (after landing) to get to our car it popped and she started to feel a bit dizzy. That dizziness quickly escalated and she wound up getting wobbly and then passing out as the elevator doors opened for our floor. We had a hold of her and were able to get her out of the elevator and gently lay her on the ground. The scary part was that her eyes were wide open but there was nobody home. I was scared beyond belief. Fortunately as I was saying Bri Bri Bri Bri Bri she came back and said "Oh, where am I?" She then broke out in a cold total body sweat.

All is well though. It was one of those ear canal imbalance/disorientation things that can happen to anyone. Freaky! She is fine and back to making fun of me as usual.

In other news, welcome to the new debt bondage of America. There is a gas station down the street that has been having some trouble paying their bills, I think it is time we as a nation get behind this necessary institution with a fresh injection of capital. By that I mean we should pay $1,000 per cinnabon so he can balance out his books.

That is all.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Back to work

We're headed to St Pete this weekend to hang out with Bri's dad for a bit. He wanted her to join him for a weekend of father-daughter time, but I insisted that I'm now part of the package so they let me tag along. A day without Bri is like a day without sunshine. :)

So. Onto the financial markets! I'm clearly not smart enough to figure this stuff out. You've got very smart folks on both sides of the argument saying opposite things. The distillation I get is that we go through a lot of pain now or we go through a very slow pain for the next few years. I read one proposal that said the govt should form an ETF which will buy all these 'toxic' mortgage backed securities and make the ETF available to the public to invest in. Seems like a better idea than giving a bunch of highly leveraged banks cash to balance out their spreadsheets. (Excuse me..."purchasing" "troubled" securities at book values and then selling them at market value in a few years, econ 101 right) But...we don't want the credit markets to dry up. Locally, Wake county had to withdraw plans to issue $300 million in school bonds because there were no buyers. And so on.

Save your pennies and don't quit your job, that's my motto. My other motto is live like tomorrow will never come. My other other motto is to seize the day but also save your pennies. My other other other motto is don't trust the wealthy entrenched power elite (Illuminati? The Skulls? Lizard people?) who rule our little lives. My final motto is to just be nice. Now you can blend all that together and you've got a snapshot of my viewpoint.

What I'm saying is, we're gonna skip entering the ocean swim races this weekend ($80 for the 2 of us) and just have fun.

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