Saturday, July 28, 2007

Summer surf

Saturday morning went surfing with Stephane. He was supposed to arrive at 8:30, but I called him at 7:30 and "appealed" to him to get down here. He arrived at 8 and we were in the water by 8:30. Stayed in the water until 10:30, by which time the meager but fun waves were few and far between. It was still great conditions, but the high tide had the waves pushed up to the beach so they were essentially shorebreak, and I was getting bored.

Lots of people out though, probably more than I've been in the water with in decades. But the crowd was having fun, and there was a camaraderie that I just don't expect. Crash was out (I don't know his real name, just know him as Crash.) And he was getting rides even in the small waves. He had several students with him, mostly advanced beginners.

The water was so warm that many people were in trunks. I wore my spring suit and actually had to splash water on my back several times to cool off. There were quite a few femmes out in the water too, which was nice. It helped that they were having fun, and generally joined in the camaraderie. (It also helped that they were good looking!)

The south swell expected from Tropical Storm Dalila hasn't yet shown up, and as the storm is degrading it's quite possible that the swell will never materialize. Oh well.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Loser stocks, loser stockbroker

Yesterday marked the end of Month 3 since the broker at Wachovia (Santa Barbara branch) informed me of the contents of the investment account I was to inherit after my father's death. I tracked the 4 funds and 1 stock for these three months to see how they performed.

Of the 5, one was flat (less than 0.1% increase in three months) and all the others had lost money. In fact, all the others had lost money at an annualized rate of more than 12%. To add insult (and further injury) to injury, they were all items that had high management fees attached. And in fact these had been losers for the entire three months that I tracked them, while the stock market itself had been on a wild increase for the same time.

It is unbelievable to me that a professional investment adviser would have initially chosen and continued to stay with things such as this. It's unconscionable and in my opinion professionally negligent. My further opinion is that the guy is incompetent, but my father stayed with him because he has a nice Irish-sounding name.

I called the guy's assistant Naomi on the exact 3-month "anniversary" day and told her to tell Brian to sell everything. That day. She asked (courteously, which is more than I can say for him) why, and I told her "Because they are all losers". I think she is his assistant because she is in training to become a broker. I hope I have illustrated for her a bit of what happens to an incompetent when a no-BS person comes along.

I got the account statement first thing the next week, and took it to my guy. He seems better, but he also seems spread far too thin by his company. So I'll have to make most of my own assessments and decisions, and just tell him what to do and when to do it. I'm still playing the unsophisticated and semi-ignorant investor-dude for all of them, just to see how I get treated. But at least I got out from under the Wachovia loser.

Beer Goggles

El Borracho sunglasses by Bolle, from REI.

Why would anybody call a product "The Drunkard" is beyond me. But for some adolescent reason I still find it quite humorous.

(Link is liable to rot at any time.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Alienated? Who, me?

I was reading Kathryn Cramer's weblog and came across a mention of the Alienation Index, a site that purports to calculate one's level of alienation from things social. My scores:

Meaninglessness = 9
Cultural Estrangement = 21
Powerlessness = 18
Normlessness = 12
Estrangement from Work = 11
Social Isolation = 14

And the key:
Scores should range between 5 and 25.
Scores from 5 to 11 could be considered "low,"
from 12 to 18 "moderate,"
and from 19 to 25 "high."
It's odd, because I don't feel alienated.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

(No) surf report

These days I have a nearly desperate need to get some waves, but there has been no surf in a couple of weeks. Went down to the beach this morning and it was so small that it was simply not worth going out even to get wet.


Pray for surf... ;-)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

real estate and living: LA vs. Paris

I found a very interesting article in the NY Times about an LA woman who has a pied-a-terre in Paris. It's not very big and not well placed in the building (lousy views) but it was affordable, is an income property (rentable to short-term expat Americans) and provides a place to land in the times she goes to Paris from LA to stay for awhile.

I look at it also as a hedge against the outrageous and out of control real estate market here in L.A. That is, LA's RE market is still vastly overpriced, and quite unstable. And the US - both the real estate market and as a place to live - is (I believe) increasingly untenable. That's not something I ever would have told my dad when he was here, but I'll say it here. (Since nobody reads this but the bots anyway, it doesn't matter. )

When M. goes back this September I'm going to have her check the prices and we'll consider buying something there as a place to go to in case we might have to go back for any reason. I'd certainly miss the climate and the geography here, but it's weird to think that Paris is a more affordable city to live than the huge city of Los Angeles.