New Year’s Miscellany 2014

January 5th, 2014 by Potato

Active investing:
Note that even though I did win the Financial Uproar Misfit Bloggers stock picking competition this year, and did actually invest in each of my picks, my actual returns were not nearly as good as what you see in the contest. Partly because, you know, the fact that I own more than 4 stocks. I should also note that I came in last place for 2012, such is the nature of these contests. Anyway, my rate of return (IRR) for 2013 was bang on 20.0%, which is a fair bit below my passive benchmark return of 23.9% (though in an absolute sense it was a fantastic year). I invested heavily in Dundee International, which has slid through the year, and sold too early on many winners (with at least two going on to roughly double after I sold them). There are loads more mistakes to point out, including checking out mentally through the fall when I was busy as balls. With that under-performance and no strong investing ideas in hand, this year’s savings will be going into the passive portfolio.

Power outage:
When last I posted, the outage was into its sixth day for us. We ended up being without power for seven days, only to come back to find that despite all our precautions one of the pipes burst. That led to another few days of couch-surfing as our water stayed off and the kitchen was torn apart to fix it. It was actually a bit of a miracle the landlord was able to fix it that fast — much more difficult and we would have had to wait for an outside plumber to do the job. However, we were left with a bit of a mess to clean up (the first mess from when we evacuated in the cold and dark, leaving behind dirty dishes and what-not, then cleaning out the fridge and freezer, then a pile of drywall dust and insulation everywhere). Then, just after we moved back in, we had another 2.5-hour outage. As soon as the lights started to flicker I realized I have some mild form of power outage PTSD now. It was so much colder that night than the ~0°C night when the power first went out: the house cooled as much in those 2 hours as it did in the first 12 of the original blackout (when we were starting to talk about evacuating). Thankfully this time it was both short and we had some communication from Toronto Hydro on what to expect. At least the house is clean now. I’m not sure the fridge and freezer have ever been this clean.

I came into my 2-week winter “vacation” with a massive to-do list, to catch up on all the stuff I had been pushing aside while I was so busy in the fall and also to start some new projects (like to finally sit down and start crystallizing the 2nd edition of my book, and to help set up all the computers my family got for xmess). Well, I lost two full days to driving alone with the ice storm and power outage, to escape (in poor conditions) to my dad’s at first, then shuttling back and forth from Wayfare’s parents’ place to check on the house and run the portable heaters in a vain attempt to prevent the pipes from freezing. And I could forget about being productive while staying over at someone else’s place. Then we had to clean up the mess caused by the prolonged power outage. So I don’t have any new posts finished for you, no progress on cleaning out the junk in the house (just cleaning of the junk), and I haven’t even looked at a request to write a book chapter, let alone thought about the material itself. I am not remotely caught up on sleep, either.

Though speaking of sleep, after spending a few days couch-surfing through this disaster, I have come to appreciate the couch for its sleeping art. As a side sleeper, couches are not so bad, though tossing and turning often means completely flipping my setup around to keep my back to the back of the couch. But I like having that warm, soft vertical surface against my back. I think someone should invent a bed with side uprights like a couch has, but with a decent amount of flat space for sleeping and no bloodly couch cushion voids. Uprights on either side, that would be awesome.

Past Writing:
My book has now made it to #12 in the Business & Finance, Personal Finance, Investing category on Kobo. Note that this says more about how few books on investing people buy than it does about my success. Indeed, all of my earnings from Kobo are still theoretical as I have yet to hit the sales threshold needed to actually get a payment from them. Also, I got a call from the GBGHF top dog on New Year’s day to thank me for the brochures I put together for them: in less than a year, they are over three-quarters of the way to their three-year fundraising goal. They’re finding that having a (high quality) physical brochure is really helping them when they meet with donors, especially when they carry them around for those serendipitous meetings. It’s also helped with their other efforts: having the staff profiled in those brochures opened the door to prominently featuring staff in their other ads and communiques

Blueberry was bad at dinner tonight, putting her grubby hands into her hair. And not just like “huh, my head’s itchy” brushing her hair, but after touching her head and getting told not to by Wayfare, she stared us down and planted both her hands on the top of her head with an evil grin plastered on her face. Then after we cleaned her up, I sat in the chair in the living room and stared at her in what I considered to be a stern and parental manner. She mugged and smiled and tried to get on my good side/make me break character. I held my disapproving ground. Then she spontaneously ran full-bore at me, crashing into my chest in a massive attack hug.

The hug game was born. A few more minutes of running, giggling, and hugging and all was forgiven (you try suppressing a grin against that onslaught of cute). This is the best thing that has ever happened in the history of everything.

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