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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Chris' LiveJournal:

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Monday, April 4th, 2011
4:02 pm
Writer's Block: Waitin' for a super name
If you were a superhero, what would your superhero name be?

The Librarian!
Friday, October 15th, 2010
5:28 pm
Register to Vote in CA !
Hi,

Please register to vote for the November election. The deadline to fill out the form is Monday!
https://www.sos.ca.gov/nvrc/fedform/
Friday, January 15th, 2010
4:22 pm
Monday, January 4th, 2010
10:46 am
Looking for an air filter
I'm looking for an indoor air filter to reduce the amount of dust (and dust bunnies) in my place.
The two top ones in Consumer Reports are nowhere to be found. They may have been discontinued (WTF Capitalism FAIL) Do you have an air filter that you are happy with ?
Friday, January 1st, 2010
9:46 pm
Investment Plan
Ok do not bet the farm on these predictions, but here's where I think investments should go.

First, as always, you should make sure you have a stash of money worth 3 month's rent (or three months regular expenses if you don't qualify for unemployment benefits), in a bank account somewhere. That much must be certain or what is to follow will make no sense. (Might I recommend a local community bank or credit union, both of which tend not to play with default swaps or other exotic things that got big banks in trouble. http://moveyourmoney.info/)

2nd Take advantage of your 401k or open an IRA or Roth IRA and throw some money in there automatically on a regular basis.
Seriously, especially you twentysomethings!. If the government were to approach you and say "I'll sell you this dollar for $0.80-0.85", you would take it, because it's free money. This is what a 401k or IRA is!. Put $100 in a 401k and your take home pay only goes down by $80-$85, because it's money not being taxed. And you get the whole $100 in your account for retirement (which is sooner than you think even for twenty somethings who get to do this trick for the longer time.) This is a 15-20% return BEFORE you count any stock market returns and it's guarenteed. Any person would love a 15-20% guarenteed return (look at CDs right now). So do that. Like this week, if you haven't already.
If you are starting a 401k or IRA and they want you to choose a mutual fund, choose one with the best return over the longest period of time (5 year minimum)

3rd, if you have a credit card or loan (except business loan or mortgage) that is higher than like 7%, work on paying that off.
Paying off a 12% loan is similar to making 12% on the stock market. Or to use the earlier analogy, using a credit card that pays 12% and not paying it off immediately is like paying $1.12 for a dollar bill, so you can buy something that costs $1. Pay down your debt as soon as possible.

After that,

(This part gets more investment geeky, feel free to ask questions or make polite comments)

Avoid Bonds
Buy Metals and commodities 10-15%
Buy a broad US stock market index (or go stock picking if you do that sort of thing.) 60%-80%
Buy foreign stocks 10-25%


No bonds (mostly)
Avoid bonds and bond mutual funds
Interest rates are very low right now. Bonds, which are loans from investors (you) to companies (and/or govt agencies), are paying investors low interest. They are so low they can only go up this year. If 2010s bonds will steadily pay more per month in interest, towards the end of the year then last years or the beginning of this year then last years are going to be worth less if you sell them before they are due. So you will lose money on the deal (and bond fund which are always buying and selling will go down this year)

Exception: If you are rich, have maxed out your IRA and still need a tax haven, you can buy municipal bonds, because the interest paid is tax free, so you get a similar 'money for nothing' deal as above with 401k and IRAs, but if you're rich, you probably aren't reading me for investment advice.
Oh and yes, you can put the above mentioned 3 months worth of rent in a 6 month or 1 year CD to get a bit more interest (not longer because of that whole rising interest rate thing).

Buy Metals and/or commodities
Low interest rates and a recovering economy sometimes means higher inflation is soon coming. If people all of a sudden get money they didn't have before, and buy stuff, it drives the cost up, that's inflation. To make money off of that, buy metals or commodities. These are the things that rise in price which the inflation rate measures (it's a bit more complex than that but whatever).
This is kinda risky since if it's a slow recovery, inflation will rise less and you'll make less money off this, and gold has run up quite a bit already, but it's your money, it's up to you. (and you already have 3 months worth of rent in a separate account and are contributing to your 401k/IRA right ? so you can afford to take a chance on this if you want to),
The best way to buy metals or commodities is to buy a fund that invests in this stuff.
Some funds, called Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) trade on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Two of them are
PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund Ticker Symbol DBC which invests in both metals (gold and silver) and commodities (like corn and soybeans)
and
PowerShares DB Precious Metals Fund Symbol DBP which is just metals.

Buy a Broad stock market index.
This is kinda a cop-out, but I don't want to be giving specific stock picks, because I don't feel really confident on that right now. There's all sorts of books on that if you want that level of investment geekiness.
"Fire Your Stock Market Analyst" and "One up on Wall Street" are two good ones.
Otherwise, the easy way is to just buy a fund that covers most or all of the stock market. This is called an Index fund. They are available all over the place. You can call fund companies like Vanguard (great but have a $5k minimum) or Fidelity or T. Rowe Price (all findable through google) and send money to them. This kind of fund is also a good choice for your 401k or IRA money if it's available.
The Stock market as a whole crashed last year, but what that also means is that it is going to be on an uptrend this year, and it's a good idea to jump on that train. People who bought in at the end of the 1930's made bank, why shouldn't you ? The big problem is figuring out when the slump is over.

Buy Foreign stocks
This is along the same lines of inflation. If inflation is worse here than in other countries, the dollar will be worth less than those other currencies. So buy those, or buy stocks in those other countries. again, it's kinda risky. again, better than doing it directly there's funds to buy.
I was originally going to recommend buying foreign currencies as well, but there's no 'everything but the dollar' fund that I liked, so I'm just recommending foreign stock funds. If you look at Vanguard or Fidelity or T. Rowe Price, they will have decent foreign stock funds as well. Look for one which cover a wide variety of countries, not just one country
I like this one from T Rowe Price
http://money.cnn.com/quote/mutualfund/mutualfund.html?showpage=ratings&symb=PIEQX&sid=407036
5:12 pm
2010
2008 was a sucky year (except for January), 2009 was a much better year. A recovery.
Got to know some nice people better.
2010 is somewhat of an unknown year, but with promises of new and better things.
New Job ?
exercising some more
Less anxious
More Hanging out ?
More dating?
All of the above.
Thursday, November 19th, 2009
5:05 pm
PSA Winzip passwords are not secure
Just so everyone knows,
Winzip passwords are not secure for anything except passing security. They are kinda like a car window. It will deter the casually observer, but if someone wants to get it, they only need a rock and some privacy.
There is easily downloadable software that will break a 5 character password in under 5 minutes. I know because I just did it. (It was a file I am allowed to see for business, in fact required to look at, and person with password was out).

If you need to really protect something important, like say credit card numbers, use a version of PGP encryption, it's a bit more of a pain, but really is better for sending to people.
Monday, October 19th, 2009
4:47 pm
Halloween and my Grandfather
I was talking to my grandfather about Halloween. He said that when he was a kid (in the late 1920's ), their Halloween would go like this. There were no commercial costumes, if he wanted to go as a hobo, he would take a piece of rope and tie it around his pants as a belt and then burn a cork and use the dark ash to blacken his face and arms. If kid's mother's were industrious, they would make something and the kid would go as a cat or something like that. Kids would go door to door and yell "WE WANT A HAND OUT, WE WANT A HAND OUT", (the phrase "Trick or Treat" had not come about yet). In return for this, people would give them a handful of candy corn, or an apple. or if the grown-ups were into it, they may have made popcorn balls. Prepackaged candy was unheard of at the time.
Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
11:15 am
Dear Weight Loss ad net ad people
Those two people in the before and after shots are clearly not the same person.
In one, I'm thinking that unless her bones were completely rebuilt, there's no way she is the same person. It's not just a matter of fat it's a matter of frame. And face shape, dude come on.

You are appealing to the desperate, if you hope to pass that on. Otherwise you think people are really stupid.
Friday, September 4th, 2009
12:48 pm
Grammar and spelling but to what end?
When you get a Nigerian scam letter, are they ever so bad that you are tempted to reply to the person, just to correct their spelling and grammar? something along the lines of 'look you're never going to get anyone with this letter, correct these words and this phrasing and try again, I'm sure you'll get a better response'.
But then there's the dilemma, do you really want then to succeed in what they are doing ?
Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
1:18 am
Saturday, August 8th, 2009
2:25 am
Tuesday, August 4th, 2009
2:08 pm
Tuesday, July 21st, 2009
6:51 pm
Robin Hood at Paramount 8pm Friday
Robin Hood with Errol Flynn is at The Paramount 8pm Friday.  People will be there, it will be fun.

on a totally unrelated note,
cute then funny video, cat and doggie video

http://icanhascheezburger.com/2009/07/20/funny-pictures-video-kitteh-still-loves-goggie/
Monday, July 20th, 2009
5:15 pm
Sunday, July 12th, 2009
4:34 pm
3 Movies and a play!
There's a bunch of movies bad and otherwise going on.

Tonight, martial arts film Wooden Men https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/home.asp. At Athletic Playground in Emeryvile
This is shown at a gym, with exercise mats to sit on, lots of potluck food and the movie projected on the wall. I went 2 weeks ago, knew one person, had a fun time seeing the movie. (It was also a martial arts film)
It says it starts at 7:00 but that's a 'relaxed' start time. It was about 7:30-8 when the movie started last time.

Wednesday Harry Potter and Half Blood Prince at the El Cerrito. It's open again, (but not serving food yet. )
Come see Harry Potter at 7:00 on Wednesday with me.

Saturday A play! Midsummer's Night Dream in Los Gatos, $20 8pm
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=70273118633

July 24, Friday Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn, at the Paramount Theatre 8pm $5, comes with a old time newsreel and cartoon.

RSVP below if you think you can make it.
Sunday, July 5th, 2009
6:56 pm
El Cerrito Cinema is back
The El Cerrito Cinema will open next week with Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
http://www.rialtocinemas.com/index.php?location=cerrito

They are run by the Rialto cinemas now. The ticket price will be $9 ($7 for matinees). It looks like they will have food service, but it;s hard to tell. 

They start Wednesday the 15th, but haven't announced times yet. Stay tuned for a planned outing when more info is available.
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
1:33 pm
President smacks down Health Insurance critic
This is my President. He is awesome

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/6/23/745916/-Getting-Smacked-Down-By-the-POTUS.-.-.-Priceless-(Now-wTranscript!)

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

Two of the key players in the insurance industry, America's Health Insurance Plans and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, sent a letter to the Senate this morning saying that a government health insurance plan would, quote, "dismantle," end quote, private insurers.

QUESTION: Why are they wrong?

[snip]

Why would it drive private insurance out of business? If -- if private -- if private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care; if they tell us that they're offering a good deal, then why is it that the government, which they say can't run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That's not logical.

Now, the -- I think that there's going to be some healthy debates in Congress about the shape that this takes. I think there can be some legitimate concerns on the part of private insurers that if any public plan is simply being subsidized by taxpayers endlessly that over time they can't compete with the government just printing money, so there are going to be some I think legitimate debates to be had about how this private plan takes shape.

But just conceptually, the notion that all these insurance companies who say they're giving consumers the best possible deal, if they can't compete against a public plan as one option, with consumers making the decision what's the best deal, that defies logic, which is why I think you've seen in the polling data overwhelming support for a public plan.



Sunday, June 21st, 2009
7:49 pm
El Cerrito and Parkway reopening!
The Parkway and El Cerrito may be reopening.  Yeah!

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/06/18/BU6F189Q6H.DTL

http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_12619281?source=most_emailed

slightly different info in each.

Basically, they are both reopening!, Both expect to to the restaurant thing like before. Though under two different managements.
El Cerrito will be run by Rialto, the company that runs the Elmwood theatre .

ParkWay will be run by a group from Indiana that runs similar sort of theatre over there.  From stuff he said at the El Cerrito city Redevelopment meeting, I'm indirectly figuring, Will the Thrill, the former programmer for Parkway, knows people in this group and may continue to be the programmer at the Parkway, which, if correct, would be really cool.
Saturday, June 20th, 2009
10:49 am
Health Insurance cancellations
Here's two videos about people getting their individual health insurance cancelled arbitraily.  They are from  House hearing earlier today

The first one is 8 minutes long.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfhbKIhjXjE&feature=channel

This one is 5 minutes and 48 seconds. It's a House member questions Insurance CEOS on why they arbitraily cancel policies and the answers are disturbing.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_29CCVI1ao4&feature=channel
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