Integrating Interests

I love to sort and group. I put things in their appropriate box and contents of each box remain separated and organized. This is true both literally and figuratively. But the real fun begins when more than one box gets opened at the same time.

British Petroleum and the Gulf Oil Spill are hot topics in the news media. By purchasing shares in NYSE:BP, I’ve encouraged myself to pay more attention to the news. By opening my financial box, I’ve encouraged the opening of my world-news/contemporary-issues box as well. These boxes are no longer gathering dust.

How do you integrate your different interests or use one to inspire another?

British Petroleum (NYSE:BP) (Part 2)

What happened this morning?

I woke late to find I’d missed a chance to buy NYSE:BP under $30/share. I almost went to work without making a purchase. But anxiety subsided and I bought in at $31.22. This holding is in addition to my investment club strengthening their position this morning at $29.78.

Why did I finally buy?

1. I spend too much of my life learning and planning and not enough doing. I’m more often guilty of over-analyzing than of being hasty. In this case, it was time to get into the game, and I’ll learn my lessons along with the emotional roller-coaster that is sure to follow.
2. I’m not a day trader. Having missed a $1 discount because of a day change should not affect my one-year returns significantly.
3. I’d made up my mind the night before and my morning apprehensions were emotionally fueled.

What’s the worst that can happen?

It’s possible BP is “playing nice” publicly while selling off and hiding as many assets as possible in expectation of an eventual bankruptcy. In this case, my money will have disappeared entirely. Assuming they don’t go bankrupt, I expect the be in the green and receiving dividends again by 2012.


“BP continues to dominate the sector and the political arena, agreeing to set up a $20 billion escrow fund to pay claims in the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Shares remain volatile, falling and then rebounding. Steve Gelsi reports.”

British Petroleum (NYSE:BP) (Part 1)

Who is British Petroleum? (Wikipedia)

British Petroleum (BP) is the UK’s largest corporation and is the fourth largest company in the world. It is one of six “supermajors” or vertically integrated private sector oil exploration, natural gas, and petroleum product marketing company.

What are they doing to The Gulf of Mexico? (Wikipedia)

On 20 April 2010 the Deepwater Horizon exploded and there has since been a widely publicized oil spill disaster involving a leaking deep water oil well. A vast area of the United States marine environment, sealife, and local fishing industry has been devastated.

Give me numbers! (Wikipedia)
– Explosion killed 11.
– BP estimated 1,000 barrels per day.
– Government estimated 5,000 barrels per day.
– Estimates now 56,000 to 84,000 barrels per day.
– This is the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez spill every 3.5 to 2.4 days.
– On April 30, BP stated that it would harness all of its resources to battle the oil spill, spending $7 million a day with its partners to try to contain the disaster.
– BP’s 1st quarter profits for 2010 were roughly $61M daily.

President Barack Obama

Tonight Obama addressed BP’s management of the spill.

Full text of President Barack Obama’s speech

The bright side?

Obama is holding BP accountable for the damage they’ve cause to the environment and the fishing industry.

What’s in it for you?

NYSE:BP has dropped 50% from $60 to $30 per share, and Obama’s bad news for BP didn’t air until after the markets closed today. Tomorrow morning I’m going to let NYSE:BP tank a bit more and then buy a few hundred shares.

S&P: “In our worst case scenario (5% likelihood), we calculate that if BP were to be expelled from the U.S., and having to pay $20 billion in Gulf liabilities, it would be worth GBp400 per share (about $35 per ADS) above recent trading levels.”

Buy and hold.

4 Steps to Get Back to Basics

Eventually, enough is enough. Whether we’re buried in successes or failures, stress and responsibility can crush us into an exhaustion pulp. When caffeine, 4 Hour Energy and NoDoz isn’t getting it done, it’s time for Plan B. Step back, relax, and reevaluate. Not everything you are doing is as important as you think it is. Not everything you are doing is getting you to where you want to be. And if you’re so exhausted that reevaluating is out of the question, this article is especially for you. It’s time to give yourself some credit, give yourself a break, get back to basics and remember how to enjoy what you do. Continue reading 4 Steps to Get Back to Basics

Investing Theory – Market Speculation

Why should market speculation be profitable?

In this article I will explain why market speculation should be profitable.

Disclaimer: I have never owned a stock outside of my retirement accounts and am therefor basing this theory entirely off of intuition and logical analysis. I have never been a day-trader. Furthermore, the following analysis assumes that you make your investment choices based on logic, not emotion.

Caution: Invest at your own risk!

Markets have character.

Identifying market trends based on momentum or cyclical patterns is inevitable for all investors. No one ever bought anything without expectation. Communication of these expectations is what gives a market character. Example: Bob O’Brien points out that “May sell-offs on Wall Street typically turn into big recoveries in the month of June.” Anyone privy to this knowledge is more likely to sell before May, and more likely purchase sometime near the end of May. This selling before May increases the likelihood of the very May sell-off that we expected, and the purchasing near the end of may increases the likelihood of the June recovery.

Education promotes profitability.

The fundamental difference between Buyer A and Buyer B is their expectations which are a direct result of their education. If Buyer A knows nothing of the trend of the market, he is more likely to be surprised by a sell-off. If Buyer B has been educated by Mr Bob O’Brien, he is less likely to be surprised by a May sell-off and is more likely to be prepared to take profitable action.

What should I do?

First, I don’t recommend day-trading for any beginner investors, although I’ll likely try it soon for the experience. However, I am suggesting that there are significant profits to be made in speculation as opposed to simply dollar-cost-averaging dividend stocks, mutual funds or index funds.

Specialization. You don’t need to make money as a baker today and a candlestick maker tomorrow. You need only be good at one thing. Find a niche. While everyone else is distracted BP oil spills and the World Cup, educate yourself in some unrelated niche. It may be less exciting, but you’re more likely to find a winner before the distracted world is privy to your gold mine.

Disagreement and education is welcome – please comment!

Impossible IQ Test

If an apple a day keeps the doctor _____,
what number comes next in the following sequence?
0, 1, __?
A. 0
B. 2
C. 3
D. 10

Bill is Jill’s great aunt twice removed.
Will is the opposite of _____?
A. Will not
B. Won’t
C. Neglect

If some marbles are round and I have a bag of marbles,
how many blue marbles have I lost since kindergarden?
A. red
B. yellow
C. green

I am not Pope John Paul,
but I wouldn’t mind,
maybe for a week. 1+1=__?
A. 0
B. 1
C. 3
D. 11

Like which of these is kind of like the others
but like not really like the others at all?
A. Animal
B. Animal
C. Animal
D. Animal
E. Animal

A train left the station at 5am this morning
travelling at a constant velocity of pi angstroms
per Ancient Chinese fen. This IQ test is _____?
A. Not ridiculous.
B. Effective.
C. Fair.
D. All of the above.

Top 10 Richest People in The World

Rank Name Country NetWorth NetWorth Change Age Bio
1 Carlos Slim Helu Mexico $53.5 bil UP $18.5 bil 70 Assets in Latin America’s biggest mobile phone company.
2 Bill Gates United States $53 bil UP $13 bil 54 Software visionary and world’s biggest philanthropist.
3 Warren Buffett United States $47 bil UP $10 bil 79 Berkshire Hathaway, company added to S&P 500 index in Feb.
4 Mukesh Ambani India $29 bil UP $9.5 bil 52 Reliance Industries on global buying binge.
5 Lakshmi Mittal India $28.7 bil UP $9.4 bil 59 ArcelorMittal (steel) in India.
6 Larry Ellison United States $28 bil UP $5.5 bil 65 Oracle founder, acquired 57 companies in past 5 years.
7 Bernard Arnault France $27.5 bil UP $11 bil 61 LVHM (luxury goods): Louis Vuitton, et al.
8 Eike Batista Brazil $27 bil UP $19.5 bil 53 College dropout vows to become world’s richest man.
9 Amancio Ortega Spain $25 bil UP $6.7 bil 74 Inditex (fashion), 4500 stores in 73 countries
10 Karl Albrecht Germany $23.5 bil UP $2 bil 90 Supermarkets in Germany, Europe, and U.S.

From Forbes: The World’s Billionaires and
The 20 Richest People in the World

Learning a Second Language

I’m occasionally inclined to learn a second language – wouldn’t multilingualism be fun? Sure, but what’s the point? Aren’t I getting too old? And who has the time?

What’s the point?

Continued learning has mental, emotional and social benefits. Learning another language can help keep our brains receptive and agile, be a regular outlet and source of pride, and can enhance our social lives, especially if you live in a culturally diverse environment.

“We have strong evidence today that studying a foreign language has a ripple effect, helping to improve student performance in other subjects.” – Richard Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education under Bill Clinton

And as long as you aren’t planning to learn Sentinelese, learning a foreign language can greatly enhance your vacation experience.

From Vistawide:
1. To increase global understanding
2. To improve employment potential
3. To increase native language ability
4. To sharpen cognitive and life skills
5. To improve chances of entry into college or graduate school
6. To appreciate international literature, music, and film
7. To make travel more feasible and enjoyable
8. To expand study abroad options
9. To increase understanding of oneself and one’s own culture
10. To make lifelong friends

Aren’t I getting too old?

From Ezine:
“Adults are generally able to concentrate for longer periods of time. They aren’t distracted by friends wanting to play football or thinking about what they want for Christmas next year. Mature learners also have their own learning strategy. They know what works for them and are able to plan their studies accordingly.”

Who has the time?

Let’s start by assuming you don’t spend too much time watching TV, shopping, pampering yourself, or consuming alcohol. There’s still ample opportunity for better time use, time saving, and multi-tasking. I should write a blog entry on this. If all else fails, you could always sleep less.

All kidding aside, learning a language does not take as long as you may think and depends entirely on identifying your goals (as usual) and developing an efficient approach. If your goal is to be able to understand the spoken word, listen to pop-music and watch foreign films with sub-titles. If your goal is to be conversationally fluent, get a pen pal and attempt conversations with foreigners at every opportunity, or ideally, take an extended vacation and immerse yourself in the culture. If your goal is to be able to read or write, you needn’t leave the sanctity of your own home. Just use the endless online resources, read poems and essays and books, and starting writing your own.

And finally, I have a bit of advice regardless of your language goals:
1. Perfect practice makes perfect. Have fun but take your practice time seriously. Focus.
2. Frequency and Repetition: Practice every day, for a short time, don’t burn out.
3. Learn the most used words first!
4. Learn words specific to your interests to keep learning fun and useful.
5. Deconstruct the language and pick a reasonable goal.

Happy learning!

Unleashing Your Brain’s Potential (Part II)

Last night, I finished Richard RestakMozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain’s Potential while I should have been sleeping. It’s the first book I’ve actually read cover-to-cover since last October. I’ve never read a more mentally and emotionally uplifting book. I felt more alert and appreciative any time I read Restak the night before, even without participating in any of his suggested brain-boosting exercises.

Below are brief quote-summaries of the last several chapters that I read last night before finally falling asleep around 3am:

23. Learn about and experience art and music.

“Dalí employed double images in order to induce in his brain what he called ‘visual instability.’ Instead of taking common objects for granted, he suggested ‘misreading’ them.”

“Dalí was the first to point out htat one should reamin open to the magical metamorphosis implicit in everyday life.”

“In short, you can enhance your creativity by playfully altering your perceptions and trying to look beyond the obvious, most practical interpretations of what you see around you.”

Salvador Dalí‘s The Image Disappears looks similar to
Johannes Vermeer’s Young Woman Reading a Letter at an Open Window but with the hidden profile of Diego Velázquez.

Dalí’s Study for Slave Market with Disappearing Bust of Voltaire

24. Organize a physical exercise program that aims at brain enhancement.

“While any physical exercise can improve your brain’s performance, not every exercise is equally helpful. For instance, jogging and swimming exert a positive, indirect influence on general brain function by improving your cardiovascular fitness and your overall endurance. But neither of these exercises is specifically helpful to the brain. Since we’re aiming for a brain-enhancing exercise program, we have to concentrate on three key concepts: balance, strength in the legs, and dexterity.”

“In order to improve balance and strength in the legs I suggest you take up tai chi, the ancient Chinese slow-motion exercise combining flexibility, bodily coordination, and lower body strength.”

25. Cultivate fine-motor-control skills involving your hands.

“A large portion of brain tissue is devoted to sensation from and motor power to the fingers. And enhanced brain functioning has been shown to result from improving, or at least maintaining, finger dexterity. Indeed, our ability to oppose the thumb to our other four fingers sets us apart from other species. That wasn’t always so. Prior to about 60 million years ago, the hand was a clumsy instrument. But that changed when squirrel-sized primates left the ground and began dwelling in trees. To accommodate that change, the thumb had to become more flexible, the better to grip branches. As an additional accommodation, nails replaced claws – thus making feeding easier. Finally, sensitive skin ridges developed on the surface of the palms.”

“Our earliest ancestor, the famous Lucy, walked on her two hind legs and could join her thumb, index finger, and middle finger to form a three-pronged grip that allowed her to pick up and handle unevenly shaped objects, such as stones.”

26. Regularly practice some form of mental relaxation.

“While meditation is another word for resting the mind, I prefer relaxation since meditation carries with it so much extra baggage.”

“Stress causes brain damage.” (Discussed in Chapter 15)

“The best way of reducing stress? …breathing.”

“The second stress-reducing exercise involves changing mental perspective, what psychologists call reframing. In Magister Lufi: The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse described the process…”

“Sit comfortably in a chair and let your mind wander.”


27. Use technology to augment your brain’s functioning.

“Philosopher Andy Clark suggests in his book Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again that ‘the battery of external props and aids – laptops, filofaxes, texts, maps… offset cognitive limitations built into the biological system [of the brain].'”

“‘Certain aspects of the external world may be so integral to our cognitive routines as to count as a part of the cognitive machinery itself.’ In short, consider technological aids as coextensions of your brain, capable of enhancing your brain’s performance.”

“According to Henriette Anne Klauser, author of Write It Down, Make It Happen, all of us should carry pen and paper everywhere since ‘you never know when inspiration will hit.'”

See also: Stuff White People Like: #122 Moleskin Notebooks

“When working on your computer journal, you might also want to combine your efforts with some creative and exploratory web surfing. Sherry Terkle of MIT says that ‘computers are objects to think with’ and suggests we consider the laptop not just as a technical instrument but as ‘the subjective computer.'”

28. Concentrate on and act in harmony with your natural abilities.

“Adult learning is self-directed.”

“So, in regard to your career, follow your strengths. But when it comes to aspects of your life other than your career, give some credence to the advice of Mark Twain: ‘Make it a point to do something every day that you don’t want to do.’ The basis for this masochistic-sounding advice? Simply put, the brain is both marvelously adaptive and at the same time more than a little lazy. This is particularly true when it comes to intellectual activity.”

“‘Every is ignorant, only on different subjects,’ as Eleanor Roosevelt put it.”

“Keep in mind the key ingredients to successful adult learning:
– A sense of challenge
– An optimum state of arousal: not anxious, but alert and vigilant
– A free-floating attention so that links can be made
– Some form of feedback process, such as learning along with others, or, if learning alone, creating tape-recorded summaries of new information as it’s learned
In practical terms, look for ways of sharing your new knowledge with others.”

…like sharing this post with your friends. 😉



Are you looking for Unleashing Your Brain’s Potential (Part I)?