Monday, July 31, 2006

Biting the hand that feeds you

"Let's save the human race, let's finish off the U.S. empire," Chavez said. "This (task) must be assumed with strength by the majority of the peoples of the world."

About every two or three months, I sense an ever more militant slant to his rhetoric. I give him 2 years before he begins calling it "guerra" and getting his ass in more trouble than he can handle or even imagine. And don't think that his recent $6 billion spending on Russian arms would even cause us a moment's problem. Jet fighters aren't worth a bucket of warm spit if no one can fly them.

The Venezuelan economy is inextricably connected to US oil consumption. Should we develop a way to reduce our consumption, or if the current oil price spike crashes (as they always do), Chavez will have to eat some serious cuervo.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Body Chemistry 101

So when you have gastritis it kind of hurts to put much of anything in your stomach. As a result I began drinking less. Due to genetics, my kidneys do not absorb uric acid as efficiently from my bloodstream as most people's do. When I drink less, I excrete less urine. Urine is the vehicle for removal of uric acid from the body. It is the by-product of purine synthesis. Uric acid, when it concentrates in the blood, forms crystals. These crystals congregate in the lower extremities because they are heavier than blood and will not go into solution. The effect of these crystals, veritable little microscopic shards of glass, is gout. Gout hurts worse than gastritis.

I now have gout, brought on by dehydration from gastritis.

Flickerpiss testgum

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mildly Amusing

This is a beautiful story...sort of brings a tear to your eye. I haven't checked Truth or Fiction yet, but I'm sure it's true...

A man was on holiday in Kenya. While he was walking through the bush, he came across an elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed so the man approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot. There was alarge thorn deeply embedded in the bottom of the foot. As carefully and as gently as he could he removed the thorn and the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the manand with a rather stern look on its face, stared at him. For a good ten minutes the man stood frozen -- thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned and walked away.

For years after, the man remembered the elephant and the events of that day. One day the man was walking through the zoo with his son. As theyapproached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to where they are standing at the rail. It stared at him and the man couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. After a while it trumpeted loudly, then it continued to stare at him. The man summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure.

He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. Suddenly the elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one ofthe man's legs and swung him wildly back and forth along the railing, killing him.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

(from an unknown email source)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Insecurity guards, gastritis, a gallon of water a day, and why I haven't posted in 5 days

As all five of my readers might have noticed, I haven't made a post in several days. I've been what some people call sick, but what I'll call "in agony."

Last week I decided to try and curb my Diet Coke consumption, which due to the tiredness and stress of a dissertation, a month old, a jealous four year old, and numerous other pathetic excuses had risen to the 5-8 per day range. I resolved to give my system all the effluent it needed by drinking a gallon of water a day to "flush out" and all the other words that so often accompany ideas like mine. I started it Wednesday. Thursday night, after eating a light dinner of our "taco salad," which consists of lettuce, ground beef, lots of black beans, garlic, onion, Crystal hot sauce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, and "a little ranch," I went back to work on eBay listings, since the **&*ERS were offering a listing fee sale. As I sat in my chair, I got a small pain in the middle left of my upper back. I sometimes get a pain there when I have heartburn, so I drank some Mylanta that I keep on hand for just such occasions. Nine years ago, when I was a student at Georgia Tech (Go Yellowjackets!), I had a hellaciously bad case of esophagitis, and I took Zantac for over a year to clear it up. I've rarely had any more problems since then, as I changed my diet (no more tomato paste, celery, or apples) and generally took better care of myself (from an acid reflux point of view).

The pain last Thursday subsided when I took the Mylanta, and I went to sleep not even worried about it. I awoke at 5:30 in the morning with a noticeable pain in the same place. This time I took some Pepto-Bismol (the one that coats) and it felt better for awhile. I also noticed that my guts were hurting, like I kept having to go to the bathroom, to little avail, and I was breaking out in cold sweats. It was about this time that I noticed a few chest pains. Even though I know I'm in good shape cardiovascularly, it still freaks anyone out when their chest starts hurting, especially when you add in cold sweats, gastro problems, and pain in the arm---all warning signs of heart attack (myocardial infarction--MI). Since I had acid reflux really bad while at Georgia Tech, I know that GERD (Gastro-Esphogeal-Reflux-Disease) mimics the symptoms of a heart attack, so I've saved myself countless dollars through the years by avoiding unnecessary ER visits by taking some Tums or Maalox. However, you always have that little bit of wonder, especially when you are what some doctors politely call "overweight" and bitchy ones "morbidly obese."

So with these chest pains bothering me, and wanting to know, I foolishly climbed on the treadmil and began walking, fast. The pain did not increase with exertion, in fact I felt better moving around rather than lying down and trying to get comfortable. I took some aspirin and was able to go to school and give a make-up exam to a student. I came home and it started hurting worse. On a scale from 1-10, it was getting to a 4, tolerable. When I came home, I got in the bathtub, nice and hot, for 2 hours, and it felt very good to be in the water. When I got out of the tub, it started hurting again, but I was able to find a position in bed that didn't hurt as badly, so I slept about an hour while Mickelle, Marley, and Jack went to get something to eat and go to Wal-Mart.

When she came home, I took some Maalox she had bought and kept lying down. The pain kept getting worse. At about 9 o'clock, I began to think that something was really wrong. At 10 o'clock I was in agony, it was at a 7 on the pain scale and felt like it was getting worse. My readers will remember that I have gout, and when it attacks, it is the most intense pain I have ever felt in my life. Gout is like a hot knife stabbing your joint every heartbeat. But, with gout I know that I can take some Vicodin (sp?) and drift away into sleep. This pain was fast gaining ground on gout and no pill was going to make this subside. I was having pain in my entire abdomen. It felt like someone was shoving their hand under the left side of my ribcage. I had pain in my stomach, the middle of my upper back, my kidneys, under my belly, damned near everywhere. When I couldn't take it anymore, I called Gove Allen to come give me a priesthood blessing or take me to the hospital.

When they got there, I told them that I had faith in Jesus Christ and in the power of the priesthood to heal me, so "bless me to heal me or bless me with comfort and take me to the hospital." The blessing was one of comfort, so they took me to the hospital. We went to the nearby Ochsner Hospital in Jefferson Parish, instead of Touro. I won't go into reasons why I chose Ochsner other than saying I knew there would be less likelihood of it being crowded with GSWs. I got in to see a triage nurse fairly quickly, when I mentioned chest pains, even though I had done the treadmill, they still put me on an EKG. That was the first good news of the night, "Mr. Williams your heart is fine and beating strong, it's not an MI."

No MI means your ass gets put at the bottom of the list for treatment, by the way. I sat in the lobby for awhile, and the pain steadily increased. Gove took David Van Dam home, and while he was gone, the pain skipped 8 and went straight to nine, equal to gout pain (I reserve 10 because I can imagine something hurting worse, though I've never experienced it). They wouldn't give me anything for the pain because a doctor had to see me. I was in agony. I didn't want to make a spectacle of myself, and the waiting room was FULL. I had to sit in a chair and try my best to cope with excruciating horrific pain. I clutched a Dasani bottle in my hand and repeatedly crushed it in my hand. I tried and tried and tried. Eventually I knelt on one knee in a chair and laid my head down on the marble countertop next to the coffee pot. This actually made the pain subside. I begged the nurse to help me at one point, but he couldn't do anything until a doctor saw me, and there were more urgent people ahead of me, 14 more urgent ahead of me. After maybe 15 of this, Gove came back and was standing next to me, trying to talk to me to take my mind off the pain. A shift change brought a new cop on for the night (it's odd that all emergency rooms in New Orleans have a real police officer on duty at all times--different world here). The officer came over and asked me what I was doing, Gove replied,"This is the only position he can get any relief in." The officer asked me if I'd be more comfortable lying down, and I told him "No." He then responded, "What I'm trying to say is that I can't have you doing this, you have to move."

Mr. Police Officer, if you're reading this, I LOATHE YOU. He made me move to a room they keep for "transplant patients" or something like that. On the way, this security guard* apparently me asked me if I was driving a Toyota Avalon. I didn't even notice him the first time and kept walking. I then heard someone yell "hey" but since I don't suffer from the fall into interpellation that Cary Grant does at the beginning of North by Northwest, I don't normally turn when someone merely yells "hey" in my direction. The third time I hear, "Hey big man" and I spin around with a scowl on my face that could only communicate "WHAT THE &*^& DO YOU WANT?" Gove Allen is so large that I can drop my wedding ring THROUGH his wedding ring, which is merely a pipe cut into a ring. We both spun around. The guard, full of himself, says, "I asked you if you were driving a Toyota Avalon." I don't remember my reply, but I was in such pain and so annoyed, I think I mumbled "No" with as much indignity as I could possibly muster.

I couldn't get in the same position in the room. Gove moved all of the furniture trying to help me mimic the position I had been in, but it didn't work. I began cramping everywhere and it hurt so bad I began to cry and repeating "what does it matter?"

Gove Allen is a special kind of man. He is the personification of how we all should be. He is massive, strong, brilliant, intelligent, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent, intrepid, selfless, humble, and he never ever shirks from work. It's almost like he's not real sometimes. He truly lives the Boy Scout Oath, Promise, and Motto.

So as I lied in the room, in utter agony, the insecurity guard comes in and asks us what we're doing in the room. Gove, Utah-Mormon-GA politely responds that the police officer told us to come in there. The guard says that the police officer doesn't have the authority to put us in that room, that only he does. Gove responds that when a police officer tells you to do something, you do it. The guard asks, "Are you under arrest?" No, we weren't. He then tells us that he has to keep this room available for "transplant patients" that can't be around everyone else. He asks if I can sit up, which I clearly cannot anymore. Then he lets fly this gem, "If you can't sit up and you're hurting so bad, why didn't you come in an ambulance?"

I was so flabbergasted and just pissed off that it was all I could do not to roar back at him "BECAUSE I WASN'T HURTING THIS BADLY WHEN I CAME IN" but luckily Gove told him something else (I don't remember what). I just couldn't believe that this guard is pestering me over his pissing match with the cop when I am in agony. Stupid people suck. They really truly suck. When people get a little bit of authority, as they suppose, they run roughshod over those they have an authority over. I just still can't believe he asked me that.

So last Wednesday, as it were, I got health insurance for the first time in my adult life. Real, honest to goodness health insurance. Tulane hired me as adjunct instructor for the year, so I get benefits and all that finally. Better timing has never existed.

At 5AM, I finally was called back. I was so dehydrated that the nurse has to try three different times to take blood. I still bear the bruises where the first two veins collapsed. By this time the pain has subsided down to a 4-5 range. It's uncomfortable, but not making me writhe anymore. At 6 AM, the sun is up, and my doctor, a polite fellow named Dr. Coffin (seriously!) comes in and tells me that my blood works looks good and that's most likely gastritis and not pancreatitis or some other more serious ailment. Basically I had the worst case of acid reflux and gas you can imagine, a perfect storm, as you will, in my guts. The good news is that my cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure (130/50) and all the other important things are all perfect. I may be morbidly obese, but the morbid part is still far off. The doctor thinks that my drinking so much water so suddenly upset the balance of acid in my stomach that I've been maintaining for years. No one ever believes me that I get heartburn when I drink water......this is proof. Water is pain.

So the good news is that I am in near perfect health. Aside from sore guts, bad teeth, and gout, I am in perfect health. Now I've got to use that health to keep losing weight and make Paul Dunn pay up. You're gonna owe ten bucks Pablo. Ya esta hecho.

I lost 7 pounds over the weekend.

* Mickelle has dubbed all New Orleans security guards, "insecurity guards" because they are damned near worthless and are always on their cell phones anyway.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The beginning of the end of eBay!

eBay can die in a fire for all I care. I hate them. Here's an email I got today.

Dear wuapinmon,
Since its debut in 1995, the eBay marketplace has continually evolved to meet the needs of the eBay Community. For the most part, the behavior of buyers and sellers has naturally adapted to changing conditions -- over time, we've learned to allow the marketplace to direct itself as much as possible. On some occasions, though -- in the interest of the eBay marketplace's long-term vitality -- we've had to step in and implement new policies, introduce new formats, or make changes to our fee structure to create needed incentives for eBay members.
Put simply, we at eBay have two basic roles: to deliver the best overall value for buyers, and to maximize cash flow for sellers. As eBay has grown over the years, we've added various enhancements and tools to the site -- but in essence, our "products" are two types of listings:
Core listings (auction-style, auction-style with Buy It Now, and Fixed Price) deliver the signature eBay buying experience. For sellers, they're the fastest way to sell inventory on the Internet -- the only place where items typically sell within about two weeks.
Store Inventory listings were introduced in 2001 and intended as a low-risk way for sellers to display large amounts of product in their eBay Store. This format employs low insertion fees and higher final value fees to encourage an abundance of inventory on the site.
Amid all this change, one thing has remained constant: auction-style listings are the foundation of eBay. Auction-style and other core listings made eBay what it is today -- and they'll always be front and center on They account for about 91% of the gross merchandise value sold on But recently, we've been wrestling with some troubling facts:
Store Inventory listings now comprise about 83% of active listings on average.
While core listings typically sell in about two weeks, Store Inventory listings on average take 14 times longer to sell. In some media categories, Store Inventory listings take more than 40 times longer to sell than core listings.
And, when you compare our operations costs for an average Store Inventory listing and an average core listing - factoring in the duration of each - our cost to host a Store Inventory listing is more than 50% higher than for a core listing. In fact, current Store Inventory insertion fees don't cover eBay's costs for hosting them.
It's vitally important -- to your business and ours -- that we maintain a healthy balance between listing formats on the eBay marketplace, and ensure that inventory conversion across the site remains strong. So we're taking action.
Today, I want to inform you of changes we're making to -- changes intended to rebalance the overall eBay marketplace by further distinguishing the roles of core listing formats and our Store Inventory format. In short, we're improving the advantages of selling in core listing formats -- and taking action to manage the proportion of Store Inventory listings -- to ensure that the buying experience on eBay stays true to shoppers' expectations.
Core ListingsCore listing fees will remain unchanged. So for the vast majority of eBay sellers who use only these formats, their fees are not increasing.
And we'll be providing greater exposure for core listings on eBay Express. In late August, we'll begin displaying auction-style listings with Buy It Now on eBay Express for qualifying sellers. Also in late August, core fixed price and auction-style Buy It Now listings that qualify for eBay Express will be advantaged over Store Inventory listings.
Also, in response to the requests of many large sellers, we're raising the 10-item multiple listings limit to 15, effective Aug. 22.
Store Inventory ListingsFor those of you who operate an eBay Store, we're making changes to Store Inventory listing fees, as well as to the on-site exposure we provide for this listing format.
We'll begin charging variable insertion fees for Store Inventory listings, as we do for core listings. Beginning Aug. 22, Store Inventory format insertion fees will be tiered with an item's starting price.
These Store Inventory format insertion fees take effect Aug. 22, 2006:
Starting Price
New Insertion Fee
Current Fee
$0.01 -- 24.99

$25.00 and higher

Some Store Inventory format final value fees also will also increase, effective Aug. 22, 2006:
Selling Price
New Final Value Fee
Current Fee
$0.01 -- 25.00
$25.01 -- 100.00
$100.01 -- 1,000.00
5% (no change)
$1,000.01 and higher
3% (no change)

Please note that for current listings, the new final value fees will apply only after these listings are renewed.
For more detailed information on these fee changes, please see our fee changes overview.
For some time, we've been working to identify the best way to display Store Inventory listings on the site. In the spring, we pledged to sellers that we would test a variety of ways to mingle their Store Inventory listings with core listings on We've tested several alternatives and these tests showed the ideal approach is how we're doing it today - that is, when a buyer's search returns 30 or less core listings, we display up to 30 Store Inventory listings. This is what we'll stick with going forward.
However, starting in about a month, we'll also include an unlimited number of Store Inventory listings after all matching core listings, when the buyer clicks the Buy It Now listings tab at the top of every search results page. When the buyer hasn't selected this option, will display Store Inventory listings along with core listings as described above. Listings Added to Search ResultsI recognize that sellers in the Books, Movies, Music and Video Games categories will have unique challenges with the changes we're making. As many of our media sellers have requested, starting in late August we'll again provide visibility for listings in core search results, by bringing back the listings merchandising feature we used previously (click here for an example). We're also exploring additional ways to promote listings in search results on both and eBay Express.
How These Changes Affect YouI'm confident the actions we're taking are the right thing to do for the overall eBay Community. We'll more effectively deliver on our buyers' needs and expectations. And for sellers, these changes will ensure that eBay remains a differentiated and distinct e-commerce channel with fast inventory turnover.
I know there's a lot to digest here, and that you're probably most interested in quickly determining if and how these changes will impact your business.
A typical eBay Stores seller who uses Store Inventory format -- making no adjustments to his or her selling strategy following these changes -- will experience an overall fee increase of less than six percent, based on our analysis of all June selling activity. Of course, you need to clearly understand the impact on your business -- which could be greater or less than six percent. To get started, please visit the seller resources page or consult the Frequently Asked Questions we've prepared. Also, use your seller support resources in Customer Support. Our CS teams are fully prepared to help you understand the effect on your business, and discuss your options for adjusting your eBay selling strategy to minimize impact to your bottom line.
In addition -- to help eBay Stores sellers make informed decisions about any changes to their selling strategies -- we're making eBay Marketplace Research Basic available to them at no cost for eight weeks, starting today. Through September 19, eBay Stores sellers can use this data to compare selling formats or determine how best to price inventory on eBay. You can access eBay Marketplace Research here.
I'll be hosting a Community Town Hall discussion on Thursday, July 20th at 4:00 p.m. Pacific time, where I'll answer your questions. Please click here for more details on the Town Hall, or to submit a question in advance.
Bill Cobb President eBay North America

You'll notice that they waited until AFTER their eBay Live Conference to announce these changes so as to avoid the absolute shitstorm revolt that would have faced them. People are listing everything in the stores because "core auctions" are too F*CKING EXPENSIVE.

The long awaited exodus from eBay will begin now. DIE FEEBAY DIE.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Out of England today:
Judge made to watch 400 hours of Jerry Springer to see if it has become too indecent for broadcast television now, and then this story:,,1823111,00.html

Public masturbation? More like the gall of bitterness.

Please note that this post was free of euphemisms. It almost killed me.

Jack not quite as ugly anymore

Click link for larger size for more pics

Monday, July 17, 2006

Raising two children is much much harder than one alone

Jackie went back to Utah on Saturday and her absence was immediately felt. Marley is stuck in sibling-rivalry-like-no-other mode and will not listen to our advice, commands, or threats. I find myself just not wanting to be around her because she misbehaves so badly all the time.

For example:

Me: Marley do not touch your brother's head, he doesn't like it.
Marley: (ignoring my command and touching his head) Yes he does.
Me: Marley stop!
Marley (oblvious to my order, keeps doing it).
Marley: (waiting until right before I get to THREE to stop)

Repeat this scene any time anyone holds him. If Mickelle nurses Jack in the chair, Marley literally tries to interpose herself between them. She has to get in the chair to be next to mommy.

She talks in baby talk all the time--she only talks in babytalk now. She is dying for attention and I try to give it to her whenever I can, like yesterday we looked and found a website where you can email Santa Claus and he emails you back, a webpage all about Shirley Temple (Marley still doesn't believe that Shirley Temple is an old lady now), I took her with me when I went home teaching yesterday. Everything we do to give her attention has no effect because she wants our undivided attention, which we simply cannot give.

Four weeks ago I had one of the best behaved four year olds in the world. Today she is a little brat. Jackie teaches kindergarten in St. George, Utah and offered to let Marley come board with her next year so she could have her in her class. My nervous laughter at her joking offer betrays, in part, my true feelings. I would never let her go because I would miss her terribly, but sometimes, I have considered it, if only for a fleeting second.

Friday, July 14, 2006

"Open War on Israel" Not Bloody Likely

Hizbollah's chief pledged open war on Israel after it bombed his Beirut home on Friday in a dramatic expansion of an assault in Lebanon launched after Hizbollah fighters seized two Israeli soldiers and killed eight.

"You wanted open war. We are going to (wage) open war," he said," Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a telephone message broadcast live on Hizbollah television after the attack.

Last time anyone tried "open war" against Israel they got their asses handed to them. Three nations all at once tried and failed, on more than one occasion. No one has the balls to meet the Israelis on an open field of battle. I am an ardent supporter of Israel's right to exist and to defend itself. I place the onus on the insurgents for whatever collateral damage happens as a result of their hostilities towards Israel. Sometimes war is unavoidable when your enemy will not listen to reason. Israel gave us Gaza a year ago, and instead of hunkering down and trying to make the world's largest refugee camp into an economic powerhouse, the Palestinians just used it as a literal launching pad of their hatred and wrath against Israel. The Palestinians wanted their own country, and now that they have it, and they've elected a government composed of terrorists that advocate the destruction of their neighbor, they must be ready to deal the repercussions of statehood. If you elect leaders that attack another nation, you should expect to be dealt with accordingly. Consequences follow from invasion, and the Israelis are not people to fark with.,10987,1209965,00.html

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Weight Loss Update

January 17, 2005= 440 lbs.

May 31, 2006: 391.8 lbs.
July 10, 2006: 377.7 lbs.
________________________ = 14.1 lbs in 40 days for a per day loss of .35 lbs per day, which means I am using 1,150 calories more per day than I am taking in.

Taking the stairs, lifting dumbells, walking home, on occasion, all help.

I'm certainly not burning any calories playing baseball. Bulldog's got a no-hitter going strong.

Days left till December 31st = 173
Projected weight loss at a conservative .2 lbs. per day = 34.6 lbs.
Projected weight on December 31, 2006= 343.1
Goal by December 31, 2006= 360 lbs.
Current pool against my making it to 360 = $10
Only caveat to weight loss bet making = hurricane

Me at my heaviest (with my paternal grandfather):

Monday, July 10, 2006

My funniest teaching moment ever was today -- CUA QUI SER PI NI CU

So, I've had several humorous things happen to my while I teach in years past. I will never forget asking a student, while practicing reflexive verbs, if she preferred to shower or bathe (Prefieres bañarte o ducharte?) to which she responded, "prefiero bañarte." She thought she was saying "I prefer to bathe" when instead she said, "I prefer to bathe you." That was a good laugh. Today it got topped.

I have two inter-collegiate athletes in my Summer course, both very likable fellows with good senses of humor; one is a baseball player and the other a footballer. I was going around the room of 10 students today asking them questions about what their talents were. I asked one of the athletes, "¿Fuera de los deportes, cuál es su mejor talento?" After both of them labored to understand my question, one of them finally answered and said, "Cua qui ser pi ni cu" to which I immediately deadpanned "No, cua qui ser pi -- pi cu."

Watch that link to understand why the look of joy in their eyes when I immediately responded to them made my day, week, month, etc. That is the best SNL skit of all time. They could not believe that I knew exactly what they were talking about. You have to love the cheekiness of responding to your language professor with a line from classic SNL.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Jack Photos

Zidane headbutt killed France or porquois?

That's the question that everyone will be wanting answers to tomorrow, in France, in Italy, everywhere........porquois Zidane? Why? Why did you blatantly headbutt someone in the overtime of the World Cup Final in your final game? Why did you guarantee that your team would lose since they were really nothing without you...I was rooting for France until he acted like a thug.

In his defense, he had been mauled the whole game, and there were at least 5 times when he should have had a free kick because Italy fouled him, including one penalty kick.

He is a truly great player, but this will be his legacy. Even though he won the 1998 Cup for France at home in France, this will be what he is remembered for most.

The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.

Here are some more videos:

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Elderly Can Say Whatever They Want

This guy cracks me up, and I agree with him.

American by Birth, Southern by the Grace of God.

Wanting a good stock tip

Well my humble Roth IRA reached another milestone today as it crossed the $5k mark when the REIT, Equity One (EQY), that I own paid out a special $1 a share dividend on top of the quarterly dividend. This netted me $60 and allowed me to purchase close to 3 shares, pushing me past my goal of accumulating 50 shares of the company before I switched to purchasing a different company each month. I have $35.35 a month to invest in a company, and I would like some input, advice, tips, or whatever from yall. I am thinking that Williams and Sonoma (WSM) and Bed, Bath, and Beyond (BBBY) look good because they are at their 52 week lows. I tend to buy companies that I know and use. I've been burnt on companies that I bought because they sounded like can't miss opportunities and then tanked.

My portfolio looks like this right now:
Company Shares Curr. Price Value Avg PPS Profit/Loss
KO Coca-Cola Company 10.206 $43.320000 $442.12 $14.247782 *$296.71
EQY EQUITY ONE INC. 51.962 $21.490000 $1,116.66 $20.964380 *$27.31
XOM Exxon Mobil 19.775 $63.400000 $1,253.74 $38.873849 *$485.00
HAS Hasbro Inc. 52.922 $18.080000 $956.83 $14.502202 *$189.34
NUT ML Macadamia 162.345 $5.400000 $876.66 $3.568991 *$297.26
NFLX NETFLIX INC. 2.690 $26.550000 $71.42 $10.040000 *$44.41
VAS Viasys Healthcare 7.130 $25.640000 $182.81 $24.170000 *$10.48
OMM OMI Corp 5.538 $21.810000 $120.78 $19.632645 *$12.06

As you can see, I am "up" on every stock I own. The money that was used to buy the Exxon stock came off of my buying Ask Jeeves at $.93 and selling at $20 a share. Any help yall want to send my way is appreciated. By the way, that NUT stock pays a $.05 per share dividend EVERY quarter since 1986. I highly recommend it.

Feel free to discuss stocks in the comments. Mutual funds are for sissies (Tim).

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


So I think my first chapter is ready to hand in for feedback. It is 113 pages long, with another 5-10 of conclusion to write. My dissertation director says that he will most likely try and split it into two chapters, which would be excellent, because then I would need only one more chapter, and I wasn't really all that wild about my original third chapter anyway.

I am seriously nervous about handing it in though. I've encountered successes and failures in my academic career, and the failures have made me a little gunshy. Luckily and old professor and close friend of mine, Dr. William Johnson, emeritus of Georgia Tech is reading it for me to proofread it. He isn't reading for content though, so much as for grammar and logic. I've been working on it for so long now that it makes sense to me, and I'd love to get a couple of people to read it for me. Only problem is that it's 113 pages long and some quotes are in Spanish, so not just anyone can read it.

I just want to know that I'm on the right track and not languish in writers' doldrums.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Commerce more important than Sharia Islam;_ylt=ApJ_TstK6i2OETciS6lGRYvLOrgF;_ylu=X3oDMTA3YXYwNDRrBHNlYwM3NjI-

If you are trying to divert the focus of your economy from petroleum to sustainable development by building enormous pleasure palaces in the desert, you want to make sure that your clientele feel safe about coming to your country and spending $100,000 for a week of luxury. That's why the Dubai ruler pardoned Dallas Austin for possession of cocaine. If you scare your clients into thinking that a little vial of coke in their luggage can get them four years in jail in the United Arab Emirates--which undoubtedly conjures up images of the prison in Midnight Run--then your expanse into tourism will fail.

PR takes precedence over morality.

What kind of moron smuggles drugs into an Arab Muslim country?

Monday, July 03, 2006

My sweetheart

Permit Me a Little Jingoism

From David McCullough's 1776 concerning the British landing troops on Long Island:

The Hessian and British troops alike were astonished to find Americans blessed with such abundance—substantial farmhouses and fine furnishings. “In all the fields the finest fruit is to be found,” Lieutenant von Bardebelen wrote after taking a walk on his own, away from the path of destruction. “The peach and apple trees are especially numerous…The house, in part, are made only of wood and the furnishing in them are excellent. Comfort, beauty, and cleanliness are readily apparent.”
To many of the English, such affluence as they saw on Long Island was proof that American had indeed grown rich at the expense of Great Britain.
In face, the Americans of 1776 enjoyed a higher standard of living than any people in the world. Their material wealth was considerably less than it would become in time, still it was a great deal more than others had elsewhere. How people with so much, living on their own land, would ever choose to rebel against the ruler God has put over them and thereby bring down such devastation on themselves was for the invaders incomprehensible. "

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the signing of the famous Declaration of Independence (it was ratified on the 2nd). My country has its problems, my country has behaved very very badly on occasion (for example, Salvador Allende) and exerts a fair amount of Imperialism or "Empire" as Hardt & Negri call it. Yet in spite of all its faults, I love my country and think that there is no finer place to live on Earth. I would live other places for certain reasons, but there is none finer, though certainly many other fine places to live too.

The first thing I noticed when I came home from Costa Rica in 1995, after a continuous absence of two years, was that this is a country where everything works. The drive from the Atlanta airport to my parents' home startled me at about the Windy Hill exit when I realized that we weren't hitting any potholes. My life in Costa Rica (as indeed most of the world lives) involved sporadic disruptions in electricity, water supply, transportation, and telephone service that ended at night. Most Americans take these services for granted and scoff at me when I say that most of the world does not enjoy these luxuries. We take for granted that businesses have to provide free toilets to their clients, that stores have to take back broken products or even if you suffer the cognitive dissonance of buyer's remorse--I once had to argue with a store owner for 15 minutes that he had to replace the broken wind-up alarm clock he had sold me only the day before. When he refused, I went out onto the street and started yelling "Don't buy from this store, they sell broken goods and take your money." A large American yelling loudly on a crowded street spooked him into replacing my clock, but this is the exception.

My first day back in the USA I marvelled at stereo television, air conditioning, carpet, shingled roofs (which sadly make it so you can't hear the rain falling on the roof). I went to McDonald's and was allowed to serve my own Coca-Cola, and get as many refills as my body could ingest, and some more that it couldn't, that I could throw away and not have to pay for. Everywhere provides free ice. I went to the grocery store and was struck by the freshness, selection, low-cost, quality, and cleanliness. There is a whole aisle devoted to cereal and pop-tarts. There are different brands of milk and flour and sugar. I went to Best Buy and could not believe that one store could contain more electronic selections than all the stores in Costa Rica combined. We have diapers that our babies poop into and we can then throw away!

When I brought Maria Eugenia (Maruja) Chavez Lopez to Georgia at the end of 1995 so she could go through the temple, she was literally in awe.

She lives a lower middle-class lifestyle in Costa Rica, which means that she cooks, boards missionaries, sews, and does other things to make ends meet. She has a telephone. She has hot water (LOW TECH--courtesy of me!). She has a ceiling and not just a roof. She has a television AND a VCR. Her neighbors marvel at her luxury--thinking she has gotten "rich" off of serving the rich American mormones gringos.

In spite of her relative wealth to her countrymen, her arrival in America left her mouth agape at how clean and smooth and perfecto everything was.

Dinesh D'Souza has written the following:

The immigrant cannot help noticing that America is a country where the poor live comparatively well. This fact was dramatized in the 1980s, when CBS television broadcast an anti-Reagan documentary, “People Like Us,” which was intended to show the miseries of the poor during an American recession. The Soviet Union also broadcast the documentary, with the intention of embarrassing the Reagan administration. But it had the opposite effect. Ordinary people across the Soviet Union saw that the poorest Americans had television sets and cars. They arrived at the same conclusion that I witnessed in a friend of mine from Bombay who has been trying unsuccessfully to move to the United States for nearly a decade. I asked him, “Why are you so eager to come to America?” He replied, “Because I really want to live in a country where the poor people are fat.”

Maruja thought that the Capitol Avenue Project next to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium looked like nice housing. She marveled at how even the "poor" owned homes and had cars. She laughed that people always told her that they were poor when she told them how much she liked their home. Even a doctor who lived in a half-million home told her he was poor. In Costa Rica you could get someone to do just about anything for a price--a price that was never more than I made delivering pizza on any given day. I paid someone $7 a month to wash, dry, iron, and fold or hang my clothes for an entire month, the catch was I had to spend the 30 cents to buy the soap and bleach for the month. $200 a month got me room, board (3 meals a day, every day), laundry, and housekeeping. My wife and I live below the poverty line while I am in school. With what little we make each year, we could afford a home and servantS in Costa Rica. And Costa Rica is expensive compared to other nearby nations.

The poor in our country are not overtly made to feel poor. The Horatio Alger complex convinces each of us that we can get a break, a promotion, a something, and suddenly we'll be sitting at the top with the fat cats. Aside from the OLD MONEY dynaties of the Rockefellers, Kennedys, and a few other clans, there is no aristocracy in our country. Also unique to our country is the notion that Bill Gates may have billions of dollars, but his life isn't worth any more than the man who mows his lawn. America views both of these people as contributing members of society, as equals, and ultimately as Americans.

Education here is free. Food is so cheap that rarely does anyone truly go hungry. Housing is affordable most places. Clothing can be had for pennies. The poor have Medicaid and CHIP to take care of the medical needs. Colleges throw money at outstanding, but unable to pay high tuition, students. No one has to be Pip in Great Expectations and always have some rich patron's judging eyes following us, always telling us that we aren't worthy of their investment.

We live so long that we can expect to see retirement and perhaps even our great-grandchildren. We enjoy luxuries that are out of reach of most of the world. A McDonald's birthday party after about age 8 here is unthinkable. Adults save to have theirs at McDonald's in Costa Rica. Even eating at an American fast food establishment is a special treat to most. Here we are so enraptured with luxury that people now embrace luxury in every day things. We drop $5,000 for a Viking Range or a Sub-Zero walk-in fridge when a $500 one would do just fine.

David Brooks describes all of this in his book Bobos in Paradise, when he says, "You can spend as much money as you want on anything that can be classified as a tool, such as a $65,000 Range Rover with plenty of storage space, but it would be vulgar to spend spend money on things that cannot be seen as tools, such as a $60,000 vintage Corvette." As long as we justify our expenditures as utilitarian, we do not violate the bourgeois ideals that we collectively hold so dear.

As the years go by and our country becomes every more diverse and forgets the ways of its Old World ancestors, we will become the melting pot that other nations will never be. Only in the Americas can you move somewhere and become an American. If I move to Italy, no matter how many generations pass, "Williams" will never be Italian, but Williams, Hauptmann, Gupta, Sanchez, Goldberg, Boisvert, Chang, Kilpatrick, Moretti, Park, Morimoto, Keuchkerian, Sorenson, Federov, and even Al-Habib can become Americans--truly. Look at the victims list from the Twin Towers to see how diverse a place our country really is. When we speak of the victims, we call them Americans too. No matter that our ancestors came from the four corners of the earth, we all are Americans. With time the differences that divide our nation will lessen and we will never see the ethnic, factional, clan, or other violence that erupts so often in the Balkanized Old World. We are all here because at some point we or one of our ancestors got sick of the crappy system elsewhere and came here. We are a nation and a mega-continent of people that wanted liberty, that want liberty, freedom, prosperity, and to not have to bow to the god of tradition.

I still believe that our country is beloved around the world, present administration excluded, but I can live with a world that doesn't like us. I want the world to like us and we need to reform some of our current behaviors, but if people don't like Americans, well, they probably don't realize that the standard free reaction of the majority of Americans would be "so what?"

I wish all of the Americas could unite, at least economically, and move one step closer to peace, prosperity, and living together as one.