Friday, April 28, 2006

Oh dear, Microsoft shares tumbled down today as they failed to live up to Wall Street expectations. I thought this would be a good time to have Microsoft shares with the Xbox 360 - however sales have bene less than expected and else where the company has been loosing out on many different frounts. The good news is that Microsfot has been funnelling a lot of funds into devlopment- trying to compete wiht google and Yahoo- so hopefully we will some some good reults down the line. Still an 11% drop is not exactly what I needed right now. At least I can trust Mirosoft to know what they are doing to some extent- its not like the company is going to crash and burn.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I spent yesterday volunteering at Earth Day, its amazing how non-profit organizations have to sell themselves just like commercial businesses. There are so many non-profits in San Diego, all doing good work of course, that each one of them has to vie for the attention of the public –for their funds, their votes, their volunteer support. My job on Earth Day for the San Diego River Park Foundation was to stand outside the booth and attempt to get people to stop so that I could persuade to join the mailing list. It is too much to accept that people will give donations at an Earth Fair, or make any real commitment, so our job was to get that all important e-mail address as a point of contact for future attempts at garnering their support. I hadn’t realized before quite how much the skills of running a business and running a non-profit overlap- it is perhaps another avenue I could explore.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

When it comes down to it, so much of business is selling your product or service--convincing customers to ignore their instinct to hold on to their pocketbook, and make an exception for you. This website I came across gives a fascinating look at what goes on in the mind of a salesman. It is a series of articles written by a man who goes undercover as a car salesman. It is not only valuable as an abstract look at the art of selling, it also gives some great tips for that inevitable time when my 13-year-old Infiniti will break down and I have to make my way towards the intimitading sales lot outside town.

Friday, April 21, 2006

I read today that might soon find our stores stocked with Camel cheese, camel ice cream and other camel milk products. Camel's milk is purported to be slightly salty and has three times the vitamin C and ten times the iron content of cow’s milk.
The industry expansion is being headed by the UN and could give a great income and better standard of living to those nomadic herders living in dry desolate conditions- this will be even more important with the advent of Global warming- soon many areas of the globe may look like Mongolia.
I think this is an idea of genius and it makes me think- maybe there are other areas where I can but my business mind to work- creating innovative ideas, working to find the best way to sell things to customers etc. Working in such a way to develop industries in the developing world seems like it would not only satisfy my moral concerns, but would also be precisely the area in which I could excel.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

1st quarter reports in and my portfolio is looking good- mixed, but generally good. Google has risen 60% in thier first quarter profit. They had been pretty rocky there for a while and I was regretting not having sold my shares at $450, but they look set to make things up again, rising $4.50 a share today, and then another $32 a share after hours (7.7%). Google now have 42.7% of the US search engine market, which is pretty incredible, and I can only imagine that will continue to rise- if only computers didn't come with MSN built in as the default homepage! google is also expanding rapidly, employing on average an extra 12 people per day this past year with a total of 1100 new staff.
Elsewhere the stocks were not looking so rosy- Ebay fell 8.87% after a less than expected quarterly report. I'm still gonna hang in there with them- I am sure they have some rabbits up there sleeve somewhere.

When I was first setting up my portfolio I looked closely at shares in Disney and was very close to buying them. After visiting Disneyland and California Adventure the past couple of days I think maybe it is time for a second look. Disney certainly knows how to do good business and make good money. This article is pretty interesting in showing how Disney has been outperforming. After my recent trip it comes as no surprise to me that the theme parks help out to a large extent with the companies profits- with the movie sector actually loosing money. Apparantly the 50th anniversary in combination with the opening of the Hong Kong branch has done wonders for Disney's profits. The question is whether it is too late to buy- the shares have been rising steadily since last october- but with the release of Pirates of the Carribean coming this summer, the home video release of Narnia and millions of themepark going tourists wending thier way to Disneyland/world this summer it may still be a good buy.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Library day today. Unless of course it is closed for Easter, I'm never quite sure where the separation of Church and State begin and end. I was recently going through a calendar from the National Parks and found this quote sprawled across the month of October

"The best remedy for those who re afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple, beauty of nature." Anne Frank

This seemed to be a little close to the edge for a Federal calendar, but then Is uppose so is "In God we Trust".

Anyhow, assuming the library is open i am going to check out 'Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management' by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton. The book aims to do away with the conventional wisdom of how to run a business and deal instead in evidence based management. The book has been extremely well reviewed and I think is a good one for any aspiring or current entrepreneur to check out.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Time to start studying for the GMAT again, I've been pretty lax lately. I'm gonna take today to sit down and do a full test, including the essay. Then I also think I'm going to start working on getting myself a really good internship- it seems the only way to find a decent job these days- temping is certainly not serving me too well right now, although I am at least getting some office experience. I've been checking out this site about how schools evaluate your application, and it makes the point that Admissions officers are humans, and not computers- so it doesn't just come down to bare scores- GPA, GMAT etc. I have to find a way to make my personal side of things work for me. The trouble is trying to combine that with also supporting my wife, saving up for travels- paying vet bills etc is pretty hard. Come to think of it maybe I should train to be a vet- they must be raking in the money. We took our kittens down for their shots again this week- and sure enough we left with more than we came in for. This time it was a rabies shot that lasts a year- how my cats are going to get rabies when they never leave the house I don't know- but they talked me into it somehow. Next thing they want is a sample of their poop in a jar, which they will send to the lab for $25 a cat. The most annoying and superfluous expense we have had there yet was $12 each for a cone for their heads after neutering. We were pretty upset when we came home and found that not only do these flimsy pieces of plastic normally go for around $3, but that they aren't even very necessary for a male cat after a neuter. Of course we know where part of the money goes- every couple of weeks or so we will get some little greeting card or other "To Hermes and Pigwidgeon"- just checking to see how they are doing. It’s such a transparent marketing ploy it makes me extremely angry. Still there seems to be good money in being a vet, not so much stress as having sick humans on your operating table, and the chance to get to work with cute furry animals also- I'll have to give it some more thought.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Feeling a little bit blue about my stocks today- I know I need to hang in their for the long haul, but it is hard. I have some money to invest in my IRA and I figure I'll choose something safer like an index fund rather than risk it on individual stocks which I haven't done spectacularly with of late.
Anyway as I said, I was feeling blue and glancing around for something to cheer me up came across this site - thought I would share it with you.

I especially like the quote from Mark Twain-
"Banks will loan you money if you can prove you don't need it"

I think we can all sympathize with that.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Came up with a good idea for a business last night. You see there is still a very large part of me that would like to skip the GMAT prep, skip Business school and become a young entrepeneur. The trouble is I have the great ideas, but certainly not the captial and possibly not quite the inclination to see them through.

Anyway this one is another idea for the catering industry and came to me whilst searching in vain through take-out menus for something not too unhealthy. It seems to me that there must be a huge sector of society searching for low carb, low GI, low fat take out food, and the answer doesn't seem to exist. Sure there are some low carb options at any place- but what if you get take-out reguarly. How about a company that specialized just in low GI food. You could have wholewheat pizza, wholewheat pasta dishes loaded with veggies. Burritos in wholewheat tortillas, served with brown rice and low fat sour cream. Indian curry dishes made with low fat yoghurt, vegetables fried in olive oil.

I really think it would work.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

So it's tax time again, all over the place I see unhappy and increasingly panicky faces as everyone makes the mad rush to get thier returns in by the weekend. I actually am feeling quite smug having filed my own taxes last month. Instead of the last minute dash I have been spedning my time looking at where our taxes are going to- gives a pretty good break down- although it is very libertarain in its commentary- being a lot more objective.

Monday, April 10, 2006

West Wing finally had to deal with the loss of John Spencer last night, and I think they did a pretty good job, it was very tastefully done and allowed the actors to show their grief for the loss of their friend--the funeral will certainly be interesting.
As for Josh and Donna, well to be honest it was a little forced. The show has been cancelled now and they have to hook up before it goes off the air- it's hard to forget that impetus, however the writers did the best they could and it certainly could have been a lot worse.
The election result was pretty tense, and brought back horrible memories of the last election- waiting up all night as the news slowly got worse and worse (I was in the anybody-but-Bush camp). Its funny, the whole season I knew what the outcome would be--would have put a LOT of money on it in fact--however they still had be guessing to some extent right until Nevada was called. Very impressive.
I have mixed feelings about the show being cancelled. When I watch the early seasons it reminds me how much better it was with Aaron Sorkin- still I am quite sad it has to go, there are not many better programs on TV.

After seeing it reviewed consistently high on Amazon I finally went to the library today and checked out Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T Kiyosaki. The basic idea of the book is that there are two types of dads - poor dads who teach you how to work hard for your money, and rich dads who teach you how to make your money work hard for you. As Kiyosaki puts it: "One dad would say, 'The love of money is the root of all evil.' The other, 'The lack of money is the root of all evil.'" The book takes the role of the rich dad and tries to empower and educate its readers - improving their opportunities and expanding their horizons. I have to say I am a little cautious about a book which is seemingly so ruthless - although I embrace the idea that we get rich by being generous- this certainly seems to be the case from the rich and successful people in business I have encountered.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Spent this morning in hospital unfortunately. Last night I played soccer at my usual indoor soccer league- well never again..... For the last but certainly not the first time i was indecently hacked by one of the opposing team- this time I wasn't even on a run but was just standing still when he caught be from behind. What really makes me incredibly angry is that the referee (again not for the first time) didn't even call a foul, meaning that if these guys can't see what’s going on there is no way I am going to be protected in the future. I'm gonna write a very nasty letter to the league management that's for sure.
I was in agony last night, and pretty worried that it was a meniscus tare- I hobble around the house and after passing a horrendous night was convinced to go to the doctor. ( At least I have health insurance). So I spent the morning waiting around as I was lead from nurse to doctor to doctor with a healthy interval between each meeting. Finally after several X-rays I was informed, to my great relief that it was not a tare but a strain. I have to lay off the soccer for a few weeks and have extra strength anti-inflammatory medication plus a knee brace to show to my wife that i am really injured :-)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Went up to LA this weekend to meet my sister in law off her flight. It didn't take us long to get from San Diego to LZ but once we were there it was absolute chaos. I knew everyone said LA has the worst traffic in the country, but I didn't realize quite how bad. After meeting her we headed up to Hollywood which was so dreary and lacking in any sort of star quality that we were incredibly disappointed. We decided to head home earlier than planned only to get stuck in yet more traffic and a 4 hour trip back own to San Diego- boy were we glad to be back! Anyway all this amounted to a firm decision that Id o not want to go to UCLA Anderson- this is slightly unfortunate as it was at least a place with decent weather- oh well.