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July 27, 2008

Greetings from Ireland

I'm sitting in an internet cafe in Ireland. So far everything has gone really well. I was really tired from the overnight flight, but we've been seeing all kinds of stuff here in Dublin. Mom would be glad that I went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and the exhibit on scribing there.

We're about to go on a trip to the Museum of History, so I have to get going.

See pictures!


July 17, 2008

Buy Low Buy High

Some of the best money I ever lost was when I sold Suntrust last year. I had bought it after Dad said it was probably ripe for a takeover that might increase its price. It had gone down lately, so I bought as many shares as I could with the money I had sitting around in my brokerage account: 19 shares at $77.06. That was in May 2006. It went up slowly but steadily and by the following year was at $90. My goal was to make 20%, so I wouldn't sell until it got to $93.28. Then it started going down. By October I was losing money. In November I decided to sell at a loss, $71.20. I say it was the best money I ever lost because it really started going down after that and every dollar it went down was a dollar I didn't lose.

Despite a steady fall, I decided the mortgage mess was played out and it was time to buy back in again at $47 on June 6. The fall accelerated. Less than 2 weeks later it was down 20%, which instead of selling can be a sign for me to buy more. This has worked well for me with Oracle and Microsoft stock. Then I sell when things go back up and I usually can show a loss on paper by saying I sold the original higher priced shares. Eventually I will have a bigger gain, but it would hopefully be long term at that point. So I bought some more at $36.98. About a month later it fell drastically again and I was down another 20%. Time to buy more, but at this point I'm getting nervous. I bought some more at $29.00 just this week.

It went down a little more, to $25.60, but not enough to buy more (I decided I didn't want any more anyway). Yesterday it sprang back to life very quickly, up 15%. This morning it opened with another big gain. My newest shares had a target sell price of $35.50, so I entered an order to sell at that price. At the time the shares were selling in the high 34's, so it wasn't a lock that the limit would be met and the order would be executed. I checked back about an hour later anyway. I noticed I had too many shares and that my order had gone through at only $34.66. In fact, what I had done earlier was to enter a buy order at $35.50 which had executed immediately and instead of dumping some of this stuff at a better price than 2 days ago, I had just bought my 4th batch. Don't worry, it gets worse.

By this time, calmer heads had prevailed and the stock was on its way down. I quickly calculated the price I would need to sell the shares just to break even (and pay for the $7 commission twice): $35.30. So I put in a sell order at that price, but by this time the shares were down to $33. It gets worse. Around 11 AM, Suntrust was actually below yesterday's closing price of $31.83. Now that mess up was costing me $76. I hung tough, hoping for the best.


It got better. For some reason it was off to the races again and the stock climbed up to 34 again before closing at $34.58. I would have sold at that price and taken the small loss but the network crashed at about 3:30 and I wasn't up and running again until about 4:30, after the market closed. So I never sold the shares, but I hope that I can tomorrow. There were some earnings reports that didn't meet analyst expectations, so tomorrow could be rough, plus with the stock up over 20% in two days, the chances of it going down tomorrow are pretty high.

The lesson here is to be careful. I put some blame on the broker, Scottrade, and their website since it seems like they could warn you that you are entering a limit order that will execute immediately, but they can't make the system idiot-proof either. And I was an idiot today. Also I have to question myself for buying Suntrust again. I think part of it was a desire to buy the stock back for less than I had sold it for and really I should have been happy sitting it out.

July 1, 2008

Q2 Report

After horrible results in the first quarter of 2008, things got a lot better. A big part of this had to be going back and putting up my web pages on Speedfactory again. This caused some growth in traffic (still off from last year but holding steady at about 200 visitors a day), got most of my page rank back from Google, brought back my advertising deal, and seemed to cause a general increase in Amazon sales. For the quarter I had $2,700 in sales for commissions of $121.73. This is way off, but I didn't re-post at Speedfactory until the end of May. The most popular thing is still the Maxell battery pack, with 19 sold. I also sold 7 Griffin TuneJuice 2's, 7 PAC Sony-iPod adapters, and 5 Turbo Charge chargers. The most expensive thing sold were some Bose noise-canceling headphones. Other than a very weird book about exercise, the most unusual thing sold was a Magnum pepper mill for $31.

AdSense remained pretty anemic at less than $15 per month. Even though I deleted all of their ads off of the iPod battery pages in lieu of the new ads, revenue in June was still up a little bit from Dejumbler and iPod-Sony ads alone, perhaps because the higher page rank boosted the price of those ads.

New Office

Our office was located near the Capitol since the 1930's. For unknown motivations, a decision was made to rent some space in Atlanta. After looking at several spots, an office building in Midtown was picked and I am on the 24th floor. My office (actually a cubicle) has a south facing window that lets me see all of downtown. I used the camera to take multi-part panorama and then some Canon software to stitch the 3 separate photos together on my computer. The picture below represents my view looking South down West Peachtree Street. In real life there is more detail. For instance, to the right of the Westin Peachtree Plaza there is a building with a V shape on it. Just to the left of that building there is a tiny spec in the picture on the horizon. That spec is the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport control tower.


The new building is a big improvement for us. The temperature is comfortable, the bathrooms are very nice, the view is great (our office takes up most of the floor so I can visit other groups and see North, East, and West; I have panoramas of those too). But now that I have to transfer to the North-South MARTA line, it takes about 15 minutes longer to get to work. That's 30 minutes a day, 2.5 hours per week, 5 days per year, 60 solid days lost before I retire.

We spent about a week packing stuff up and throwing away everything we could. I personally probably threw away about 8 garbage cans of paper. We packed everything into crates stacked 4 high and I probably had 16 crates of stuff. The new desks are bigger, but the storage space is definitely less. It's been a challenge getting moved in. I volunteered to go over this past weekend to help facilitate the move and was there from about 10:30 to 5 Saturday.