improvisation in the key of life

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

i had a dream

i haven't been getting as much sleep as i am used to. last night i did.
i had a dream and i was talking to a younger steve jobs at the current apple
and he was laughing about the fact that he was going on craigslist to
find someone to compose the opening musical theme of the new operating system.

and by new os i don't mean tenpointsomethingsomething or even eleven
i mean an evolution. a revolution in interface design and command input
first was the finger on the alphanumeric line; abcbefg1234567
then came the coordinate on the x:y axis; the mouse floating on descartes+keyboard
the NeXT obvious evolution of input is adding the 'z' axis.

steve jobs said a long time ago, the os wars are over
microsoft won. if he ever came back to apple, he would milk
the mac for all it was worth and move on to the NeXT thing.
consider it milked.

but in my dream, steve the younger was at apple the current (located in alameda...)
and they were preparing for the release of a totally new operating system.

it was called 'e' for evolution. it's also the natural log, whereas os X is the ultimate
variable and in many cases of disruption, the unknown but deciding "x" factor.
wiki on natural log

the interface for this new 64 bit operating system is 3 dimensional as is the
desktop environment. the gestures that we use to work in the third dimension
are not pressed up against the screen leaving an unsightly mess of oils and dirt
but rather, performed in front of the display. this is possible because the display
has "eyes" in it and is able to interpret by sight and not just feeling.

here is the patent for the gestures:

here is the patent for the eyes:
[macsimum news]

the os will be called 'e' for evolution
and it will use the power of mac os x in its evolutionary process
and it will be described as 'e to the power of x', which
those of you in know now know:
Relevant Math Tutorial Page

and now that michael jackson has loosed the publication rights to the beatles
the ads will use the song "revolution"

then i woke up.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

something old, something new

so i just got this idea about the diningroom and entryway.
both of these rooms have coved plaster ceilings and they
had wainscoting up to your shoulders (well, my shoulders anyway).
that was what they had originally... then they did this.

drop ceiling with sheetrock and popcorn insulation, finished with wood paneling, floor to (fake)ceiling

so i removed the sheetrock ceiling

and when i took off the woodpanels the remaining original wainscoting back boards looked like this:

the painted areas saw the light of day, the dark wood is what was behind the original wainscoting multi-piece structure

so we were planning on just repairing the plaster and restoring the original wainscoting... but when we were on looking at kitchen countertops... we saw their woodpanels. and i got an idea.
what if we fixed the plaster, then put formica woodpanels over the shoulder high area where the original wainscoting was.

shoulder high woodpanel, plaster wall above to coved ceiling

and then... we use complimentary wood to make it, fake it, to in-a-way restore it to the wainscoting look?

can you see it?

Friday, April 21, 2006

kitchen cabinets

all i hear about kitchens is how hard and expensive and long they take. this is primarily due to the cabinets.
anecdotal evidence points to people saying "we put up our own cabinets, THAT was an experience".

we called someone that advertises that They Do Cabinets or whatever and they were/are going to send
'someone' in to do a 'free evaluation'. one thing they said though was that it would take 6-8 weeks
from the time that we pick what we want to even START making the cabinets.

perhaps they mean, for the Chinese workers to glue them together... no matter.

are they trying to push the 'hurry up and get our 'consultant' in your home so we can sell to you' angle?
or does it actually take a month and a half to start putting together cabinets? that seems pretty
inefficient. in a month and a half, i could learn ho---- i don't want to learn how to make cabinets.

is that it? or is that it, only if you go to homedepot/lowes/osh/whatever... would a little homespun cabinet
maker do it quicker? what are the different routes to go?

A. home depot-like places
B. build it yourself
C..... ? use standard sizes in stock?
D..... local woodworker?
E. order out a lot and use paper plates?

cost doesn't matter, what are the options?


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

overview of the house to-do-list

Whole house:
most rooms have cottage cheese ceilings (cheese on plaster).
my concern is that i will be spraying water and scraping cheese
will this mar or weaken the plaster? in general i plan on keeping
all plaster and expect to 'patch' plaster, is it as obvious as it seems?
i.e. buy dry plaster powder, mix plaster spread plaster sand and paint
there are cracks throughout the house, i've read that i sort of spread
the cracks a bit, squish in the new plaster and 'finish' it to deal with cracks
(nothing spectacular crackwise)

fireplace in living room:
the extra bricks they added need to be taken out. i don't want to be on a ladder
with a chisel gently tap tap taping only to see a fat long crack tear down
the brick face and the whole thing comes tumbling down crashing through
the floor. that would not be an ideal situation. i plan on being slow and steady
will that be enough? also, i don't know what to expect about how they built the
fireplace around the fireplace in the first place. is it mortared to the much smaller
chest high fireplace? for what it's worth, the remodel was done well and
all the bricks and mortar are in excellent shape. also, the floor bends down
due to the added weight of the soon-to-be-gone fireplace. when that weight
is gone, will it be nice and simple to raise the floor back up? i assume something
like a lever-type device and then some sort of basement beam thing.

since i don't think we're going to use the cabinets i suppose i should just
strip the room. screws and nails. but the counter with the sink is in front of
a window. the window is placed too low in the wall, so our expectation is that
we get the counter out, pull the window out then change (shrink) the size of
the window hole to be above the backsplash (uhh, instead of below) taking
the aspect ratio from 4:3 to 16:9... first step is turning off the kitchen sink water?
going under the sink and undoing the clips that hold the sink basin to the counter?
am i going to need more than my japanese saw and claw? so far that's all i have...
i like it like that, it's very macguyver.

ok, in an ideal world we would move the sink to a different wall and maybe move
the toilet about a foot to the left. is that just asking for pain, cuz we could make
do with the toilet right where it is and the sink moving. or is that asking for
too much? i think we could make do with things as they is... as far as plumbing placement
goes. or deal with ideal placement much later. it will be enough to do what we want
which is to take out all the remodel wall coverings, get to plaster... patch where needed
and tile. ahh tile... i want to get my hands chalky on tile. is it really a big deal to
move the toilet and sink? and then tile myself? need tile saw... some tile. sticky stuff?
graph paper?

that's about it, except for the other things... but the rest is just whatever, that's
the big stuff. home depot is about a mile and a half thata way...


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

like peeling an egg

so the brick fireplace... petite in the attic, petite in the basement, positively gargantuan in the dining room. like a giant brick hand gripping a tube of chimney. the giant brick reface from the 70s has GOT to GO. our home inspector said that it 'extended' into the attic (wrong), he said leave it cuz it's too much work to get rid of all that brick.

why do people say such things? or rather, perhaps... why do some people listen, when people say such things. ugh, how i would loath waking up to that brick monstrosity... it's BRICK which by definition means that it was built one brick at a time. and... so... how to take it down? hmm, one brick at a time? i can even actually COUNT the number of bricks and figure out how long it will take to pry out each one. rather dumb to throw up our hands and say "aww gosh, lots of bricks is heavy."

plus the floor is dipping all around this massive weight, so the brick has got to go. but it IS heavy and i don't want to start
whacking brick and have the whole thing tip and fall. that would totally suck. so i googled the term and came up with "cold chisel" which is a band and a tool (tool is a band also) made of 'cold' steel that you use to bust the brick deal out.

i'll be careful, i promise.


is there a phone ringing? (NFLX)

I'm still figuring out how to reorganize my onbloging life. i'm considering multiple blogs with a single gateway, such as a table of contents front page with various 'contents' like Apple Observations, house fixeruppering. i go back and forth on whether i should split out technology into investing and industry stuff or overall economics blogs or what? specialization versus differentiation, with you the reader in mind.
anyway, until then all mail stops here. this weekend my brother-in-law's family said they have heard nothing but good things about netflix, and were planning on switching (they always have a stack of blockbuster movies on the TV when we drop by). Also, my mother-in-law has been a long time digital cable VOD payperview customer, this all started because she asked if netflix is "easy" because she wants to switch.
i started going "long" on netflix a year ago, when we started a netflix account. the product that they sell is a compelling product and i see it in a lot of friend's houses. there's an annual meeting in los gatos in a month or so, i'm going to put that on my google calendar... On My To Do List (before going 'longer')
look at the fundamentals of the company. how much they make, how many customers they have what's the rate of increase?
how much do they make per customer. what's their debt level (i know this one is zero), what is their earnings growth quarterly and yearly? How much are they making on the advertising that they put in the tear-off part of the DVD mailer?

they don't have options, at least when i go to and type in 'NFLX'.

market cap is 1.6 billion and that is sort of like the "Y" on an equation:
Y = big function

the big function is all that stuff up there, debt and customer impressions, etc

1.6billion = Known and Unknown factors that effect the company

is it in equilibrium? or not... that's where opportunity lives


Thursday, April 13, 2006

popcorn ceiling takedown

right, so here's the deal. at some point in the early 70s the people that own the house had a brick contractor redo the front steps and then also encase the fireplace in tons of new brick.
then, several years later (the last time silver was climbing into the double digits) they hired whoever one hires to add wood paneling to a room and then build a lowered ceiling and finish it off with (asbestos?) popcorn ceiling 'insulation'.

encased fireplace in dining room with lowered popcorn ceiling and fake wood paneling

so i took off the wood paneling 'finishing' touches, i.e. the trim and boarders. then i pulled all the panels off with my nifty claw tool... but i was left with the popcorn ceilings. how to get them down? in the entry room there was a lamp installed in the middle of the ceiling, so i unscrewed it and pulled it away from the popcorniness and lo and behold what did i see?

unscrewed lamp in the entry room reveals ceiling material

the popcorn is sprayed (or whatever) onto SheetRock. i put on a face mask and goggles and broke a hole in the ceiling with the trusty claw and happily ripped the whole thing down, in both the dining room and the entryroom in an hour.

bye bye popcorn ceiling

they built framing with which to attach the sheetrock, super nice redwood 2by4s which i will reuse elsewhere. now we have nice high coved plaster ceilings in the diningroom!

entryway popcorn ceiling framing

dining room popcorn ceiling framing

next... take down that brick chimney remodel.


driving along in my automobile

i have a commute three days a week that takes me over the sf bay on a bridge, through the mountains to the coast and then down the coast from SF bay to Monterey Bay. it does not suck.

it's been raining hard and i've been leaving early, very nice. this commute takes 1.5 hours each way, i bought a 'spanish immersion' CD set and am listening to it both ways. it's an exercise in clearing my mind to 'hear' the lessons as i'm (insert title of post).
i'm pretty much starting from scratch but so far, "hola, buenos dios amigos!"


Friday, April 07, 2006

demodeling a house

this is the amount that can be accomplished with an $11 'cats claw'

houseblog video

akamai aka mymymy

article about akamai at

that's a long link. i started buying akamai at 14.50 a few quarters ago on massive profit increases.
i believe massive profit increases to be the be all end all of future stock price increases
now that akam is up in the low 30s, i am thinking of adding more to my position because
well, read the article. they know what's coming. and as long as the profits keep coming
i will continue to hold and occasionally add to my position.

hmm blogging

if they asked me, i could write a book

in the past several years i have heard "you should write a book" in response to my explanation of something i've done, or what i do. the more i do, the longer the explanations get and frankly it would probably be less time consuming to write the damn book and then periodically update it as time goes on... then, when people say "yswab" i can say, "i did" and hand it to them.
the truth is, i've always wanted to write a book, but my cursive isn't very good. then they invented the internet (see: self publishing) and as it turns out i've probably typed 800,000 words in the last 12 years, blogging and posting and whatnot.

so the thing that usually inspires the YSWAB statement is a telling of my dealings in the financial markets and how that coexists with my regular life choices.

here's the basic run down of the last 8 years, comment a-plenty cuz that's what it's all about.
i guess i'll find out how much room i get in a single post...

ok, so in 99 after steve jobs had been at apple for a few years, i knew he would bring the company from near bankruptcy to being a threat to microsoft. i also knew that the stock market was going to crash and take apple with it temporarily. in the summer of 99 i got a job at the pacific options exchange to learn how to trade options and to observe the markets from the trading pits. after a couple months there i enrolled at UC-SantaCruz and declared an economics major. my intention was to learn as much about the field of economics as i could so that when the tech crash was over i would have a double edge, bullish on AAPL through the bottom, a broader view of a two year freshener on economics. i noticed that a lot of traders don't actually know much broad economic theory, at least from what i saw at the PacEx.
I left in the summer of 2001, but i just couldn't pass my final classes in calculus without doing the homework...
have you been to santa cruz?
i was anxious to get back to san francisco to get set-up to trade apple options, but soon after we (i got married in santa cruz) moved back, the events of september eleventh (and electronic program trading) precipitated the closure of the PacEx.
on the other hand, the fed lowered the fed funds rate to 1% in reaction to 9/11 so i took a little detour on the 'trade apple options' path and bought a house in san francisco. we did a fully adjustable rate loan, which a lot of people warned me against, but ultimately saved a ton of cash because long rates fell (or were at least below the fixed rates offered at the time) the whole time we were in that house.
jeez what a boring book. this isn't actually 'the book' or any kind of rough draft, i'm just laying down the timeline, the backstory...
anyway, so for the next 3 years i traded apple options and generated big taxable gains which i then used to pay the mortgage which was pretty much all interest and fully deductible. then after 3 years, we sold the house and captured all the gains from our purchase price, plus all the money that we spent on monthly payments, plus all the principle payments we made. then we rented in Alameda and after a year of looking and waiting we bought a fixer upper. which we are now fixing up.
during the fix up, i am driving down to santa cruz three days a week to take the 10 units that i am short to complete my degree. this time i am doing my homework, although today i am cutting class because i had to go to the airport to pick up my wife and daughter from SFO.
my that's dry. is it dry to you?
i wanted to write it down to start poking it with a pretty stick.
now i will freely ramble.
i am a math genius, but i barely figured out how to find a derivative like two weeks ago.
i have logged about a thousand hours of playing jazz (and reggae, and rock, and noise... but mostly jazz) bass on stage in san jose and san francisco and various other places around and in between.
i can draw anything i see perfectly
i have had much more than my share of successful investment returns
i like butterflies
i also like coca-cola too much and have had to cut it away from me
i like blue and considered naming our child 'blue', luckily for her, she is a girl and is named 'violet' instead.
i pondered jazz and music theory for years and years and years, jazz is the music of changes
i just recently started studying calculus, it is the mathematics of change, i am finding interesting similarities
happiness and success are states of mind as is optimism and hope

well, that's a start

Friday mid day

It's friday morning and i am dusting off this blog cuz it's time to. i am doing some stuff that i would like to blog about and i bet you'll want to read about this very stuff. thus, this.
so what am i doing?
one thing is i am going back to school for a couple months to finish my econ degree.
hmm, that's actually not the most interesting thing in the world...
ahh but the human story behind it is adequate as foreshadowing.

the other thing is i am fixing up a fixer upper house from scratch with zero tools, zero experience.
i am taking pictures of the process and may do a video-podcast periodically?
this is a victorian house with lathe and plaster walls, a total kitchen re-do, popcorn ceilings
and a leaky basement. ohh and a total bathroom re-do.

the other thing i'm doing is trading apple options, that's fun and interesting in that i sort of
have to see the future stock price and direction of AAPL before the market does.

i'm learning spanish "hola donde esta"

i play bass.