Tater’s Takes: Mother’s Day

May 11th, 2011 by Potato

It’s been another rough few weeks over here. I have revisions to make to my now-complete first draft, and though there aren’t that many, they’re taking me forever. I had hoped to be done these almost two weeks ago. I seem to have serious issues concentrating (also why there haven’t been many blog posts here), and my stress levels are once again through the roof. But it’ll be over soon (just months now!) and then I can worry about what to do with the rest of my life. To try to get my science groove on I’m even going out to give some rah-rah science! outreach talks at high schools soon, which I hope goes well.

Mother’s day seemed pretty hectic here, with dinners and brunches and last-minute shopping. I ended up getting a new pizza cutter for myself while I was at Caynes. I’m impressed enough with it that I had to give it a quick mini-review: it cuts through pizzas way better than my old ones. That might be because it’s new and sharp, but even then it seems to do a better job than they ever did: I’ve always had to go back-and-forth to get a clean cut, but this did the job in one swipe. It has a rather heavy handle (vs. the cheap plastic or wood handles of my other two), and the blade disc is held securely with no play: the other two both had fairly significant wobble in the roll of the cutter.

I was recently interviewed by a reporter from the Globe & Mail, and had a brief mention in an article as a result… but although it was my website and Potato identity that brought me to his attention, the article had no mention of either. So at least my quasi-secret identity remains safe, and I don’t have to write a tedious “welcome, G&M readers” post. However, if my understanding of comic-book lore is correct, this reporter is now in grave danger, as those who possess the information of a person’s secret identity — especially reporters with privileged sources — are abducted with uncanny regularity: whether by targeted schemes or pure evil happenstance. Fortunately, I believe the last time I updated my arch-nemesis page I selected “the geese who block the bike path by the river” and they are not the hostage-taking sort of villains.

Rob Carrick agrees with my earlier post that TD’s e-series funds are great, but hard to buy. I think it’s really weird that the fund you have to trade online requires faxing/mailing in an application to open an account, but weirder still that people like me have to write third-party user guides on how to actually manage the things.

CC weighed in before I got around to publishing this post, saying that he didn’t find the e-series that hard to set up. I don’t find it that hard from the instructions either, and have helped people set them up… but Wayfare did run into issues, mostly with the branch staff being clueless and trying to sell her on higher-MER funds, and with that conversion step not going through right away. Plus some of the other steps (like withdrawing under the HBP) are a little less clear, as Krystal found out. As much as I love the e-series funds for average investors, something’s not right when the best instruction sets and knowledgeable people are outside of TD. Anyway, I’ll repeat my best advice: use TD Waterhouse.

Deliquencies are rising in Alberta as the housing market there flattens out. I consider it more evidence that delinquencies are a trailing measure, so not very relevant in a discussion on the health of Canada’s housing market, but take it however you want (i.e.: too small to be meaningful at all is also a good way to take it).

A little article on Home Capital Group also points to some more warning signs: “He said the company is being cautious when considering loans that will go toward properties in Vancouver or downtown Toronto, because the markets are showing signs of overheating.”

Canadian Business revamped their website, breaking the RSS feeds and leading to many 404 errors for old links to their articles. The ability to comment also seems to have disappeared. But, I’ve found Larry MacDonald again, and now he seems to be moving towards believing that Vancouver at least, is in a bubble.

I’m a bit late on this, but Freddie Mac actually reported a profit this quarter. The preferreds I own (a very small speculative bet) are actually in the black now by over 30% (given the timeline though, still no better a performance relative than the index). I still don’t expect a final resolution for years yet, and this only suggests that rank insolvency is perhaps not as much of a risk — but political risk still looms large, as it didn’t look like the conservator allowed them to repay any significant portion of the bailout. Despite the recent run-up, they’re still only trading for 10 cents on the dollar, quite a reasonable discount given the return to profitability. Though I was tempted to buy more on the news, I figure I’d hold pat with my thimble-full of exposure. There’s still lots of risk here, and I don’t need to bet any more than I already have.

A short post by Saj Karsan on learning from your history, but not letting randomness influence that. I can’t dig it up now, but Michael James had a similar idea some time ago: a good decision is not necessarily the one that lead to the correct outcome in the way things played out, but one that made the most sense given the information available at the time.

A cute tongue-in-cheek site about the benefits of coal-fired electricity.

2 Responses to “Tater’s Takes: Mother’s Day”

  1. Canadian Capitalist Says:

    I agree with your bottom line. Just get a TDW account. But then, I bet you people will complain that they have to pay $50 in admin fees for their RRSP accounts!

    Thanks for the mention!

  2. Potato Says:

    It’s only $25 for accounts