Saturday, June 30, 2007

Helpful Home Improvement Hint Number 1

So that I can continue to consider this a Home Improvement Blog, without feeling guilty about the lack of progress, I'm going to post a weekly helpful tip that is based on my vast knowledge of fixing stuff (when I actually do real work). Here's the first one:

When using an extension cord with your power tools, tie the end in a knot like this. That way, if you move the tool around and pull on the cord, it won't become unplugged.

When people see you do this, they will think you are really handy. You can lie to them and tell them you thought of it, if you like. I only mention this because I secretly think most people who read the internets are liars...especially the ones from Nigeria who keep emailing me with investment advice. You can't ALL be the son of the former Prime Minister. Even with polygamy, the numbers would make Wilt Chamberlain envious.

In other news, on my way home from work Friday, I saw a line a half block long of people waiting for the iPhone. I saw on the news that some people have been waiting in line for a week. I don't know if I feel envy or pity for someone like that. The fact that you're life is so empty that you would spend a week of it in line so that you can buy something one day before anyone else means your life is pretty empty. The fact that you can take a week off work to sit in line for a phone means that your job is really not important, or you're unemployed or independently wealthy. So again, I don't know what to make of these people.

In still other news, I'm discontinuing the Investing Ninja website. The powers that be decided it's not a good idea for me to give investment advice, in light of my occupation. Since a paycheck means more to me than you random imaginary people, it's gone. I'd take the site down, but I lost the password (which is another good reason to discontinue it). Plus it takes a lot of time, and no one ever accused me of working too hard when I'm not getting paid for it. So from now on, if I feel like posting something that could be construed or misinterpreted as investment advice, I'll password protect it and you can ask for the password if you want to know what it says.

And finally, because I'm not shy about taking credit where credit taking is due, it's been about a year since I came out with the first Ninja Stock Pick on this very site. For those of you who are curious about how I did, I'm up about 37% for the year (which is better than almost all of the professional hedge fund managers). MAD SKILLZ, Bitchez!!! * I attribute the success to
  1. my genius;
  2. my hard work;
  3. my competitive streak (I wanted to prove that I COULD beat the pros if I wanted to);
  4. the bull market (I did really well, but I could've gotten a decent result in an index fund);
  5. luck (although the lottery would disagree, I still think I'm lucky)
Next week I'll try to finally post some tuxedo pics. Also, maybe some pics of the Kitchen, which is looking better...a little. If there is anything else you want to see on here, let me know and I might consider it...or not.

*I think I'm far enough above the S&P 500 for my results to be considered to be non-random, but then again, I don't know if it's fair to compare my results to professional money managers because if I'd been running a bigger pool of money, my frictional costs might go up, which could erode my results. Also, I placed bets in accordance with my confidence level and, as a result, the portfolio was more concentrated than most, which may have produced some unusual measurements if you calculated the semi-variance, Sharpe ratio, or beta of my investments.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Escape From NY: I Rub a Bull's Balls

Impressions of New York

Well, my NYC trip was eventful. I don't think I'll get that job at the investment bank, but I did get a call from a different headhunter on friday about a different investment bank, for which I am less qualified, so I got that going for me.

I'm trying to decide whether I would want to go to NYC at all. Walking around there, reminded me of the things I hate about New York: the crowds, the traffic, the urine on the subways. I took the Amtrak Acela from DC to NY. It's better than flying because
  • it goes from Downtown DC to Midtown NYC, so there's no need to ride in taxis that smell like wet goats, going to and from the airport;
  • there's no TSA nazis making you take off your shoes and letting their hands linger inappropriately as they make sure that bulge in your pants really isn't a medium calibre firearm;
  • on a train you never worry about the wing falling off because there are no wings on a train.
Within seconds of arriving I was greeted with real NYC hostility that is usually reserved for tourists (since I was rolling a carry on bag with me, they must've thought I wasn't local). I had the following happen to me over the course of a few days:
  • fat angry black woman yelling at me because she didn't want to burn the two calories necessary for her to walk around my rolling bag;
  • crazy white homeless guy saying "fuck you, I'm a fuckin' vet you wall street cocksucker" when I walked around him, ignoring his shaking change cup in my face (note to self, if going anywhere near homeless people, make sure not to wear such nice suits);
  • agressive chinese woman, who was less than 5' tall shoved me out the way to get on the F train first while muttering something in either mandarin or cantonese. Despite her apparent rush, we both reach the station at the same time--because we were on the same train, not in the Amazing Race.
It was almost like a Bennetton ad. Yes, that's what NYC is, a Bennetton Ad with angry, ugly people.

My impressions of NYC:

  1. There should be no unwanted pregnancies in NYC. There is a Duane Reade pharmacy every 3 blocks in the city. Anyone who can’t walk 3 blocks to get some condoms is probably too lazy to be entrusted with something like parenthood.
  2. In midtown, every other shop is 10 feet wide and 20 feet deep and they all sell the same things. Yankees caps, cell phone accessories, and I [heart] NY t-shirts. The larger stores also sell shot glasses with pictures of the empire state building and statue of liberty. Either none of these stores make money or the tourists like to buy a lot of crap that would be the bane of a yard sale;
  3. Things are more expensive now. Even Gray's Papaya is raising the price of their hot dogs to $1.25. I went there and had a hot dog and a papaya drink for old times sake. Since I left NY I haven't found anyplace besides Gray's that sells Papaya drinks, but that's probably because they taste like shit and cause cancer;
  4. There is probably no internet in all of Manhattan because there are porn shops every other block in midtown. They also advertise that they sell Kung Fu Movies, but I didn't go in. If someone I know saw me coming out of one, I don't think they would believe that I am still searching for a copy of "The Five Deadly Venoms".
Another thing that bugs me in NY is that the apartments are really small. Before I bought the ninja fortress, I lived in a 435 square foot studio in Dupont Circle (like DC's lame version of Greenwhich Village, for those of you in NYC). In Manhattan, I'd be paying a lot of money to live in a studio that was no where near as big as that. My cousin, lives in a nice building in the east village, but her place is so small that she doesn't have a TV or dining table.

She does have HER priorities in order though. She's a shoe designer, and she's got lots of shoes. So even though she doesn't have a room for a TV, she's got almost two closets full of nothing but shoes.

Here is my faboulous cousin. She's in China right now, looking at some sweatshops.


I don't know how many shoes she's got (I don't have time to count that high, but I did notice she's got at least 13 pairs of boots.

Here's some of them.

We hung out and went to hipster bars in NYC. Another thing that bugs me about New York is the pretense. Three different hipster bars, yet none of them had Coronas. I was told by a snooty waitress that Coronas are only served at places for the Bridge and Tunnel crowd.
Really? I got news for you, sweetie. Get off your high horse. You're a waitress, not Paris Hilton. We look about the same age and I'm sure I've got more stamps in my Passport than you do, so fcuk you and get me my beer.

Back to the story. So we hung with her, a couple of models and a designer she knows. A fun time was had by all.

Here's a pic of a model, my cousin and the designer.

The next day I had to go downtown to Wall Street to rub a bull's balls. Perhaps an explanation is in order. A few blocks down from Wall Street is a giant brass (bronze?) sculpture of a bull. A lot of tourists take pictures of themselves with the bull's horns. I was after a different part of its anatomy:


Scene: Me talking to my friend, Duckets, who works at an investment bank.

Duckets: No, that balls thing is a myth. Most people on wall street don't believe in that. The only time you see that is on a big trading day when the market is tanking or something. Then you'll see a line of traders behind the bull waiting for their turn.

Me: Have you done it?

Duckets: Not very often. Only when I really need it.

Me: So you only rub the Bull's balls on special occassions?

Since I don't visit NYC every day, I guess that qualifies as a special occassion and I decided to rub the bull's balls for luck. In case you thought I was making up that story about the balls. Take a look at the following picture. You'll notice that the balls are much shinier than the rest of the sculpture.

Bulls Balls

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Unconventional Thoughts on Father's Day

On Father’s Day, I usually think about the second time my Dad almost died.

After I graduated High School, I wanted to hang out and party and, generally be a degenerate, but my dad had other plans. My choices were to go to college or go to work with him--there wasn't really a third choice.

My Dad has his own construction company that varied in size depending on how the economy was doing in New York. He had as few as 5 employees at one point, and 30 people at another. I didn’t like the idea of doing construction with him because he’s not the easiest person to get along with and construction is hard work. I think he thought that “real work” would convince me to go college, but real work also meant real money and I wasn’t too upset with the gig.

After working construction for a few months, I was getting stronger without realizing it. After lifting 80lb bags of cement and pieces of drywall for 8 hours a day, I was getting stronger than I would've from going to the gym.

The day of the accident, we were doing a demolition job in Harlem. Demolition sucks and normally he wouldn’t have taken the job, but things were a little slow and he had 15 people to keep busy so he took it.

I was working on the second floor with my cousin, Little Joe, when I heard a giant crashing sound and saw that a giant metal staircase had come crashing down. There was a wave of dust that came down with it and washed over us. I was coughing and choking. When I looked over at the mass of twisted metal, I saw two white things staring back at me through the cloud of dust; a pair of eyes. It was my father.

I knew my father was working on the sixth floor, I was on the second. This was not good.

I ran up to the stairs. I saw my father’s expressionless face and it terrified me. He was staring straight ahead and his face was covered in dust. There was blood coming out of the corners of his mouth, his nostrils and his ears. His eyes were bloodshot.

His arm was wrapped in the railing of the stairs and his foot was twisted and trapped in the railing in a position that made it look like it wasn’t even part of his body. The metal had warped and wrapped around him like a serpent that was trying to devour him.

I grabbed the metal railing by his foot and felt that it was warm. As the metal bent and deformed it became warmer and felt alive. I tried frantically to move it, but it wouldn’t yield an inch. As strong as I was, I was useless against it. As I tried in a panic to free his foot I didn’t realize that I was hurting him. He put his hand on my shoulder and said “calmate” (calm down). When he mouthed the words I saw the bloody film on his teeth and really freaked out. I yelled for my cousin Little Joe.

My cousin little Joe is built like a linebacker, which is probably why the position he played in high school was linebacker. He came and helped and somehow we managed to get his foot free. We each grabbed an arm and carried him a few feet away and yelled for an ambulance.

After what felt like hours, the ambulance and fire truck arrived and the managed to get him out of there on a backboard with the help of a fire engine ladder. When I saw him on the backboard I started to really panic. As much as I fought with the old man, there wasn’t a second when I didn’t wish I could trade places with him right them.


At the hospital I looked around. I kept thinking that this was some kind of bad dream, that it couldn’t be real. I noticed the people, the grey walls with the peeling paint and tried to convince myself that it wasn’t really happening. Then I smelled that antiseptic hospital smell and I realized that it wasn’t imaginary. I saw a sea of faces staring at me and I couldn’t figure out why. I caught a glimpse of Indian man holding his crying child and he looked at me like he felt sorry for me. That enraged me. If he felt sorry for me, it had to be because something was wrong—something that I wouldn’t admit.

“What the fuck are you looking at!!!”

I grabbed the construction helmet off my head and threw it across the room. It landed at his feet.

“Hey!” A guard yelled. He got up from his chair by the door and walked toward me. I stood up and my body tensed up as I balled my hand tightly into a fist and waited for him to get closer so I could shove my fist in his face.

A heavy-set black nurse came from behind the reception desk and got between me and the security guard. I was filled with rage and didn’t know why she got in front of me, but she did the one thing I wasn’t expecting--she hugged me. “it’s allllright child.” She said. She caught me completely by surprise and I did something that I hadn’t done since I was seven years old: I cried.

“you’ll be alllright, jus’ go to dee baffroom and wash your face, child” she said in her musical Caribbean voice. The melodic cadence of Trinidadian, Jamaican or West Indian voices always remind me singing and for some reason that calmed me down a bit. She walked me to the bathroom while she argued with the guard who was unsure of what to do and wanted to call the cops.

“I tole you I’m takin’ kerrr of him, no gone back to your post and leave ‘im be. I’m takin kerrr of ‘im”

When I walked into the bathroom I looked in the mirror saw what the old man, and everyone else in the emergency room had been staring at. My face was hidden behind a macabre mask of dust, sweat and blood. Down the entire right side of my face was painted a muddy mixture of dried blood in an abstract pattern and there were two rivers from my eyes to my cheeks carved by the tears. I saw there was a lot of blood and realized that if I saw someone like that I would’ve stared too.

I walked to sink and let the water run. I splashed it on my face and as I washed the dust and blood off I looked on my scalp to find the place where I had been cut. I looked for it, but I couldn’t find it. Where did all that blood come from? Then I realized something that made me sick to my stomach. It was my father’s blood. I looked in the sink and as I saw the dark brown water swirl into the drain I thought about my father. If he died today, that would be all that was left of him.

I kept splashing cold water on my face, but I couldn’t wash away that feeling with soap and water.

I replayed the accident over and over again. I heard that you’re not supposed to move someone when they have an accident, but I did. Was that a mistake? What if I should’ve left him there ‘till the ambulance arrived. What if I didn’t move him fast enough. Maybe I did something wrong, and if he died today, it would be my fault.

When I left the bathroom, the Guard was still there with the nurse.

“Go’on for a walk outside an’ get some fresh errr” she sang.

I went for a walk outside.

There were two people outside smoking cigarettes. They must’ve sensed something was up and offered me a cigarette. Even though I smoked enough pot in high school to do entitle me to do cameos in every Cheech and Chong movie, I didn’t smoke cigarettes, but I took one anyway. My hand was shaking as I puffed away at it while I walked around the block a few times.

I ignored the people on the street and just walked and thought. I know a lot of useless trivia. I know that raphe nuclei are the only neuro transmitters that use serotinin; and that construction helmets are made from high-impact polystyrene. But the one piece of trivia that stuck in my mind is about fatalities. If you fall from less than 3 stories, your odds of survival are close to 100%. If you fall from 6 stories, your odds of survival are close to 0%. My father had fallen five stories. This was not good.

My Dad has worked in construction since he was 15 and is freakishly strong. When I was a kid, he was in a fight and someone hit him in the head with a tire iron. He picked up the guy and threw him through a car windshield. I hoped that he would be strong enough to survive this, but I wasn’t really sure.



Well, I don't feel like doing a part 2, for obvious reasons, so I'll sum up quickly. He ended up surviving the fall, but broke his back and both his ankles. For a while they weren't sure if he'd be able to walk again. But we had him transferred from that crappy hospital to the Center for Joint Diseases where he was operated on by the same doctor who worked on Gloria Estefan's spine. They put 3 pins in his back and he required a lot of physical therapy, but recovered pretty well. His gait isn't quite the same, and he can't bend from the waist like before, but that's really minor considering what he's been through.

After that accident he shut down his construction company and made me promise to go back to college--the law school thing is a different story.

Anyway, I guess you don't really realize how important certain people are in your life until something like this happens. So Happy Father's Day everyone!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


My friend has an organization that has balls. I mean that literally. And this Saturday, is one of those balls. There is a ball on Saturday at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. So if you want to see one of my friend's balls, then you should go. There will be two, count 'em, two live bands, food, drinks, and me in a Tuxedo. Since I didn't get any good shots of me in a Tux at the wedding I went to, I'll try to get some of me at this event. You can buy tickets on the website. Bring your wife, and if she can't make it, then bring someone else's wife. What's a little adultery between friends?

In our Whaaaaaaaa? segment, why haven't the US newspapers picked up on this? Our moron president gets his watch stolen right in front of his crack Secret Service squad. Good job guys. I know you couldn't keep the First Daughter's wallet from being stolen right under your noses, but this...hahahhahaha.

Also, Bush should keep his mouth shut...always. How do you think the American people would react if the Russian President showed up in Texas and demanded independence for the parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California that were inhabited by illegal aliens from Mexico? Well, when you show up Albania and demand "independence" for Kosovo so that Albanians living there illegally can take the land from Serbia, don't you think that's a leeetle inflamatory? It's bad enough that halfwits like Madeline Not-All-That-Bright turned Yugoslavia into a bloodbath, why not send Bush in there to stoke up ethnic hatred and see what happens? Since you're plan for Iraq worked out so well, why not give the Serbs some tips on what to do in Kosovo, right?

In other news, I'll be in NY 'for the next couple of days. This is related to my long-term goal of running my own hedge fund one day. A head hunter called me a few weeks ago about a gig at an investment bank in NYC. I wouldn't mind an extra $100,000 a year in salary, but I don't know if that's going to help with my long-term goal of running my own fund and being my own boss. I don't know if I really want this job, but I know that I at least want to be offerred the job so that I can turn it down if I want. It's always good to have more than one date to the prom even if you are a hot chick with great tits. And I want these NY bankers to be in love with my professional tits. "My better than yours..."

In still other news, a few days ago someone, in my professional capacity, called me an asshole. He said it as he slammed the phone down and I'm guessing he didn't think I heard it. In case you're thinking this upset me, you'd be wrong. I think the feeling was mutual and I kinda like the fact that I ruined this guy's day and got to him enough that he couldn't even wait until the phone receiver was in the cradle until he let fly his little passive aggressive rant at me. Hehehehhehee.

Hopefully I can post more soon. I'll think of something, but my mind is mush right now. Since I don't feel like thinking for myself right now, does anyone have any suggestions for me on what to do? (besides "go fcuk yourself").