A personal finance blog and podcast.

Greece, Portugal and Spain

Are you concerned that the debt-crisis disease is back and displaying it’s previous virulence?  Are you ready to yank all investments off the table, because that’s what everyone else will do?

Whether Nathan Rothschild ever actually saidbuy on the sound of cannons, sell on the sound of trumpets” is immaterial – while common sense may dictate selling as things go down, refute common sense, sit tight and wait for what seems the height of hysteria…  and then pounce, adding to your current positions at much lower prices. You’ll be far happier when the sun comes out tomorrow.


Delusions of Grandeur – Chrome vs. iPad

In eWeek’s search for the perfect search-engine-grabbing headlines, they’ve outdone themselves with 10 Reasons Why Chrome Tablets Pose a Threat to Apple iPad.  The Chrome tablet hasn’t even been announced, and of course the iPad hasn’t been shipped, and still the demise of the iPad is foretold.  The first reason “it’s Google” failed with the Nexus One – need I say more?  The tenth “ubiquity is key” says that Chrome can run on any computer.  Fine, but if you’re talking ubiquity, what about 284+ user-friendly stores?

What do you think?


Cocktail Party Chit-chat: Your Blog

What’s worse than going to a cocktail party and bragging that you don’t have a blog and cannot see why anyone would possibly want to waste their time churning useless information out in a blog?  Going to a cocktail party and admitting that you have a blog that you haven’t posted to recently.

How can you gloss it over?  Too much time spent commuting?  The kids keep having swim meets? Writers Block?

C’mon. Itsa blog.  Its what you make of it, not what other time commitments make of it.  Next cocktail party I go to, I’ll have something more rosy to report about the TrashStock blog.  🙂


Waiting Is The Hardest Thing

Waiting is easily the hardest thing. Today we’re waiting not only for the Apple quarterly earnings release, to be released after market close, but we’re also waiting to see what flat, table-like object Steve Jobs will show us from Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Wednesday.

Easily one of the most interesting places, though, for any investor, is the SEC’s filing repository.  If you’re in doubt about a company, if a company has released public information, it’ll be here.  Financial reports, trades by insiders, prospectus’ for new issues of equity or debt, and changes within the company (assuming their applicable to the market for the stock).  You can find it here, if you know the name of the company or its trading symbol.


Update: what the heck is “interactive data”?  Check it out on Apple’s 10-Q.

Shaking Off 2009

As 2009 comes to a close, TrashStock takes stock, attempting to end both a period of personal blogging absence and an increasing paranoia about the direction of Mr. Market. I am a true believer in that elusive idea of biorhythms, so a blogging absence, hiatus, whatever-you-call-it is of no concern as I see it as part of the process. And the paranoia is of no real consequence as, thanks to my current reading of Brett Steenbarger‘s Enhancing Trader Performance, I’m merely adapting myself to changes in the flow of the market.

You know, about two years ago a colleague asked me if I was a “trader”.  I said no, I’m a “customer support” person.  But, after reading part way through Steenbarger’s Enhancing book, I realize that yes, I am a trader, albeit not someone seeking my daily bread from the activity.  I prefer to focus daily on a totally different task, while devoting my off-hours to in-depth research, reading, reflecting and making periodic trades as markets or mood dictate.  This process has worked very well for the past decade, and I hope for it to continue ad infinitum.

2009 has been a very tumultuous year for everyone, not least those who’ve lost their employment, those who’ve lost loved ones to various military engagements, or those who’ve lost their own ways.  Take a few moments at the end of this year to think about those around you: who can you help with a kind word, with attentiveness to their needs, with time devoted to them?  Take time out of your life to devote to them and them alone, and you’ll be quite refreshed for a bright new 2010.


Apple Equals Touch

With the same anticipatory ease with which one opens a spigot on a warm summer day to pour a glass of municipally-cleaned, ground-cooled water, or on a cold fall morning open a fresh new bag of Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend 2009 coffee beans, or before a hearty meal open a bottle of Ravenswood Icon, I load my iPod Shuffle each morning with a fresh round of podcasts, and check today’s weather and Bloomberg news on my iPhone.

Jonathan Ives describes in this must-view video the importance of industrial design behind the ease-of-use in Apple’s products. What other products in your daily life are either the result of recent thoughtful industrial design (e.g., Apple’s products or Saturn’s Sky) or centuries of engineering tradition hiding behind simple objects (e.g., your kitchen faucet or your dinner-time wine bottle)?


MRV Communications About to Change?

MRV Communications (MRVC.PK) may be about to change.  But is it for the better?  Will Value Investors for Change (VIFC) move MRVC in the right direction?  Will they succeed at all with their attempt to board the MRVC ship?

On blog GREENBACKD I posted the following comment in response to their bullish post, in which they like VIFC’s moves:

“As a long-time investor in MRVC, my only concern is this: according to SEC documents, VIFC collectively holds only 1.9 millions shares, or about 1.2% of outstanding []. I’d feel more comfortable having a fellow investor like Dr. Shubin Stein insert himself onto a public company’s board if he and/or his war party held at least 5%. They seem to have put a huge amount of work into attempting to change a company in which they have a seemingly very small position. As you pointed out, MRVC’s sales are > $500M ($538M in 2008 according to recent 10K filing); at $147M market cap, Value Investors for Change stands to reap quite a profit (depending on when they invested, of course) if the current share price goes to just $2/sh. I’d feel more comfortable, though, if I knew that their interest in this penny stock was somewhat more sizeable. Also I’d feel more comfortable if they weren’t attempting to appoint a bunch of self-described “value” investors to a board that perhaps needs CEO’s of other publicly traded network-infrastructure companies.”

What do you think, trashstockers?  Should a boarding party hold more that 1.2% of shares to change the course of the voyage, or should fractional interests be able to force change on a publicly traded company that is not anywhere close to declaring bankruptcy, just for the altruistic sake of “returning value to shareholders”?


There’s An App For That

Last night on Facebook a long-time college bud asked what peoples fav iPhone apps were, as she was working on developing interfaces for iPhone apps.  I threw out a few of my favorites: Bloomberg’s news app, The Creeps! tower defense game, and the iPhones own clock app, which I use for all it’s functions daily.  A bunch of other apps were recommended: a flatulence app, a zippo lighter app, a weather app, and a few more games.

Then, this morning, I see news in my “Google news alert for: apple” that Mac Rumors reports on Apple’s new iPhone television commercials.  I zipped on over to Apple’s site, and after mistakenly looking at the Mac commercials (for which there wasn’t a brand new one) I found the iPhone commercials.  I found myself watching each, and wishing that I could get a listing of each of those apps…  and then noticed that the MacRumors/iPhone post actually listed them all.  Cool!  🙂


Bloomberg’s Podcasts

As I’ve been using Bloomberg’s iPhone app for my daily finance news, I decided to see if they had podcasts in the iTunes store…  and came across podcasts “Taking Stock: Bloomberg’s Investment Program” and “Analyst Calls: Bloomberg’s Equities Report.”  I listened to the most recent few episodes of Taking Stock during the week, and liked it so much I’m loading them on the 2nd gen. Shuffle for weekend listening.  I have not yet listened to the Analyst Calls… they’re very short podcasts, averaging about 2-3 min each, so I also poured those 19 podcasts into the Shuffle.


Weekend finance listening is all planned out.  Oh! Just added in VentureCast #33 (for some reason episode 34 won’t download).


Odysseus’ Oar

News of yesterday’s release of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol led me on a wee web journey to learn of Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia 1, a tangential and seemingly unrelated reference to a comet and the year 1514, and of course the article itself about Dan Brown’s newest novel since the 2003 Da Vinci Code.

My thoughts the last few days have been on a related quest into the stories of Homer that he spun of the famed explorer Odysseus, and how he taught future generations about the benefits of knowing the difference between an oar and a winnowing fan.  How many times do we each run into situations in which people totally mistake one thing for another?  A PC’s CD tray for a cup-holder? A classic painting for pornography?  A miniature French Provincial room diorama for a child’s dollhouse?  A pair of bright red plastic shoes for a fad?  A jumbled Albrecht Dürer engraving for a still-life study of period pieces?

The challenge is not to laugh when people mistake one thing for another, but to size up the situation, see how you could easily have made the same mistake if you had that person’s perspective or background, and to see if there are ways to enhance people’s understanding of the world around them.  Artists and graphic, industrial & information designers spend their careers focused on just this task: how to explain in pictures or in form & function that which others may only know through deep study of a subject.  Similarly, investors continually seek to find their way to the Golden Age by traveling through deep forests and thickets of information as dense and forboding as the Mines of Moria.